DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 22 March 2021: PM presiding over proposal for destruction of 46 lakh trees, Bundelkhand & Panna Tiger Reserve on World Water Day?

There cannot possibly be any worse news on World Water Day for India than that the Prime Minister is presiding over the agreement between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh Chief Ministers to destroy some 46 lakh trees, Panna Tiger Reserve, Ken River, Bundelkhand and also downstream Banda district. All to export water from Bundelkhand to Upper Betwa basin.  All this in the name of pushing the mindless project called Ken Betwa River Link Project. Why is the government pushing this destructive project, a Rs 38 000 Crore proposition? The answer to that question is in that question: it is a Rs 38 000 Cr proposition!

There is still some hope though for the people of Panna, Banda and Bundelkhand if there is any respect for the law of the land. This is because the project does not have final forest clearance and the conditions of the stage I forest clearances are not implementable. The Wild Clearance of the project is challenged by the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court, following a petition. The Environment Clearance to the project has also been challenged before the National Green Tribunal. Let us hope there is sufficient respect for the law of the land, to ensure that the project does not go ahead even with the agreement signed. But a key propriety question arises is, should the prime minister endorse a project that does not have all the statutory clearances and legal challenge to whose clearances are before the judiciary?

But the prime minister’s advocacy for rainwater harvesting on the same also loses a lot of its credibility, seeing that he is presiding over this destruction that goes totally against the central message of harvesting rain where it falls, when it falls.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa Interlinking PIB Press Release on World Water Day: Fundamental contradictions between Ken Betwa Project & Catch The Rain Campaign. PM shouldn’t be pushing Ken Betwa project that does not even have statutory clearances and legal challenge to whose clearances are pending before the judiciary. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1706580  (22 March 2021)

UP, MP to ink pact today With Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments coming on board to resolve their long-pending differences over sharing of water from the proposed Ken-Betwa interlinking of river (ILR) project, CMs of the two states will sign a tripartite agreement with the Centre on World Water Day on Monday (March 22) to finally implement this ambitious project.

PM Narendra Modi will be present at the signing event through video conference. He will also launch the ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain’ campaign. The Centre, through this eight-month nationwide campaign, seeks to take water conservation to the grassroots through people’s participation. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/up-mp-to-ink-ken-betwa-pact-today/articleshow/81623610.cms  (22 March 2021) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19UDrBvnQ1k  (21 March 2021)

Will “Destroy” Panna Tiger Reserve: Jairam Ramesh Former union enviornment minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday (March 22) expressed fear that the interlinking of Ken and Betwa rivers will destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Ahead of the signing of the agreement between the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for linking the rivers, he said that he had suggested alternatives in this regard 10 years ago but those were ignored. “The CMs of UP and MP will sign a pact today to link the Ken and Betwa rivers. This will all but destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve in MP, a success story in translocation and revival. I had suggested alternatives 10 years ago but alas…,” tweeted Jairam Ramesh. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/will-destroy-panna-tiger-reserve-ex-minister-jairam-ramesh-on-ken-betwa-rivers-interlinking-2396231  (22 March 2021)

WORLD WATER DAY 2021: WATER OPTIONS

SANDRP Blog World Water Day 2021: Ten Positive Water Stories from India The annual World Water Day (WWD) event has been taking place since 1993 on March 22. The theme for 2021 WWD is Valuing Water. The limited fresh water sources and associated eco-system are increasingly being exploited and threatened on the planet.

While big, centralized projects have been failing in every respect including meeting the growing demand apart from causing bigger ecological crisis, there are small but significant and successful efforts by communities and individuals making a difference by restoring, conserving, efficiently utilizing the available water sources thus valuing the water in true sense. This compilation presents the ten such remarkable stories from India to celebrate the WWD2021. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/21/world-water-day-2021-ten-positive-water-stories-from-india/  (21 March 2021)

World Water Day 2021: Positive Water Stories-2 The second part of positive water developments of India on WWD 2021 highlight water conservation efforts by villagers, farmers, citizens, state governments. The first part with ten most remarkable stories can be seen here. 

This compilation has four sections. The first one covers zone wise the efforts by communities, organizations. The second section has Inspiring Individual Initiatives. Third part has stories related to efforts of returned migrants during lockdown, under the MNAREGA. The Fourth Section has some steps taken by state governments in exploring local alternatives to meet potable and irrigation water demands. Some additional water reports in the same context are given at the end. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/22/world-water-day-2021-positive-water-stories/  (22 March 2021)

Uttarakhand Women hug trees to prevent felling  Invoking memories of ‘Chipko Movement’ of 1970s in the hills of Uttarakhand, Parvati Devi hugs Oak tree in Jaakhni village of Bageshwar district in noon of March on Tuesday to prevent the felling of the tree in the nearby forest which belongs to ‘Kotgari Devi’, Goddess of Justice in the hills of Uttarakhand.  She is not alone. Hundreds of women from the village are doing the same to save over 500 trees in the village which are to be felled to pave way for a 2 kms motorable road.

“This forest which was dedicated to Kotgari Goddess of justice. We do not even collect fodder from these forests as they belong to Devi Maa. The road from Kamedi Devi to Chaunala area will destroy the local ecosystem and will prove detrimental for the people of the area as well as the environment,” says Kamla Devi, Sarpanch of Jaakhni village who is leading the movement.

People of the area, especially women say that these trees are no less than their children. They also add that the road and felling of trees pose serious threat to natural water springs in the area. Basanti Devi from the village said, “Every plant and tree has been nurtured like children of our own. We will not allow falling of axe on these trees.” The residents of the area allege that the authorities are adamant to cut down way more trees than actually approved. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/mar/16/uttarakhand-bageshwar-women-hug-trees-to-prevent-felling-in-forestbelonging-to-goddess-of-justice-2277469.html  (16 March 2021)

Here is another detailed report on the issue by Gaon Connection. “We are aware how the forests have helped recharge our water bodies, the naulas,” Kalawati Devi, a resident and part of the new Chipko movement, told Gaon Connection.

After the recent Chamoli disaster, villagers in Bageshwar are worried that cutting their forests for road construction may destroy springs and invite more landslides. However, the forest department claims only 43 trees will be axed for the proposed road project.

The area where the road is proposed is thickly populated with Banjh Oak trees that play an important role in recharging local springs, maintaining adequate water levels, retaining soil moisture and preventing soil erosion, claim the protesting residents.

“Indiscriminate forest degradation for development activities like road widening has led to drying up of natural water springs in this area,” Hemwant Singh Mehta, a resident of Jakhni and president of the non-profit Jakhni Pariwar Foundation, told Gaon Connection.

The situation is such that all these villages face acute water shortage in summers but, this year even in winter months the area has been grappling with water issues, he said. This year because of low rainfall and less snowfall, the groundwater and local springs were not recharged. https://en.gaonconnection.com/uttarakhand-chipko-bageshwar-forest-jal-jungle-jameen-women/  (19 March 2021)

“We don’t need the proposed Kamedi devi-Rangthara-Majgaon-Chonala road, which would be built at the cost of 500 trees. Our village already has a severe water shortage and chopping these many trees will make it worse. Also, all 600-odd villagers of Jakhni depend upon forest produce for their livelihood. How will we survive once the forest is gone?” said 56-year-old Kamla Devi, sarpanch of Jakhni van panchayat.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/chipko-rerun-hundreds-of-women-in-bageshwar-hug-500-trees-to-stop-them-from-being-felled/articleshow/81536997.cms  (17 March 2021)

जाखनी के ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि वन पंचायत में बांज, बुरांश, उतीस आदि के पांच सौ से अधिक पेड़ हैं। चौड़े पत्तों वालों पेड़ों से गांव के प्राकृतिक जल स्रोत सुरक्षित और संरक्षित हैं। अगर पेड़ काटे गए तो पानी के स्रोत नष्ट हो जाएंगे। https://www.amarujala.com/photo-gallery/dehradun/uttarakhand-news-bageshwar-women-wrapped-tree-for-save-them  (15 March 2021) 

Villagers pool money to rebuild Gauri Kund destroyed in 2013 flood After repeated requests to the administration and politicians to rebuild and give a facelift to Gauri Kund hot water spring — which got damaged in the 2013 Kedarnath deluge — fell on deaf years, locals have now taken the task of reconstructing the holy spring upon themselves. Villagers have pooled in money and have started clearing the debris and muck from the hot spring area. They are also planning to construct changing rooms and provide other amenities to pilgrims. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/villagers-pool-money-to-rebuild-gauri-kund-destroyed-in-2013-flood/articleshow/81517805.cms  (16 March 2021)

Kerala ‘Katta’ idea: How an arid village checked water for irrigation Here is another detailed and informative report on Kattas check dam tradition being practiced in Yethadka village of Kasaragod which has bas been catering to potable, irrigation water needs and helping the groundwater recharge processes also. It also mentions Katta built by villagers using local materials are yielding better results than the ones built by minor irrigation department.

Workers consider Katta a sacred structure and do not wear footwear while building it. They offer toddy and prayers to the local deity after completion for the strength of the structure. (Photo | EPS)

In this otherwise dry farm-village of Yethadka — on the edge of Karnataka — ‘kattas’ are a lifesaver. “If we don’t build kattas we will be out of water by Vishu (mid-April),” says Prakash Y H (63), who has a PhD in Botany, referring to Kerala’s New Year. He was a researcher in the Centre for Ecological Science at Kumta in Uttara Kannada district but returned home in 1991 to become a full-time farmer.

When it comes to check dams, Yethadka is unique, says E P Rajmohan, special officer for Kasaragod Development Package. “Nowhere will you see so many manually made check dams in such close proximities,” he says. “And they are making and funding the structures on their own,” he says.

Farmers in Yethadka say they have been making kattas for the past 70 years. The distance between two kattas — or check dams — ranges from 300m to 1km.  “If we don’t make these kattas, the water will end up in the sea and we will not have water during the peak summer,” says Udayashankara. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2021/mar/19/katta-idea-how-an-arid-kerala-village-checked-water-for-irrigation-2278685.html  (19 March 2021)

Rajasthan MGNREGA water conservation project turned a district into an Oasis There are parts of Batka Phala and Paldewal villages in Dungarpur district that belie they are in the dry and arid Rajasthan. The greenery around Boladhara pond in Batka Phala and the dense vegetation surrounding the anicut (a masonry check dam) on the Godhal river in Paldewal gives the impression that the area gets ample rain, or is watered by perennial rivers. The reason behind the greenery becomes evident as one drives towards these villages in Dungarpur district. On the surrounding hills, trenches are dug under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to prevent runoff and allow water to percolate.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/how-mgnrega-water-conservation-project-turned-a-rajasthan-district-into-an-oasis-76003  (20 March 2021)

Report Water Warriors From working to make Kutch villages self-sufficient to investing in traditional practices in the Himalayas to digging wells in Bengaluru, India’s frontline fighters are making water scarcity a thing of the past. https://openthemagazine.com/cover-stories/water-warriors/  (19 March 2021)

Info map by Down To Earth

DTE India’s new hydro map The blue represents the spread of the 30 million water-related structures built under MGNREGA. The darker the shade, the higher the number of structures. Down To Earth reporters visited the highlighted 16 districts, which featured among the first 200 where the programme has been in implementation since 2006. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/factsheet/india-s-new-hydro-map-75990  (19 March 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Video report on farming practices being adopted by Prem Singh a progressive farmer in Banda. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0uKYaV0POY  (10 March 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog Factors that worsen the Chamoli Disasters Abstract: While Uttarakhand is vulnerable to disasters, climate change is increasing these vulnerabilities. Major human interventions like hydropower projects and highways implemented without an informed or democratic decision-making process act as force multipliers during such disasters. The violations of legal and other prudent norms in their implementation further increase the damages. The absence of necessary monitoring, early warning systems and the overall disaster management system add another layer of damages during the disasters. The lack of the ability to learn lessons from disasters and lack of any accountability ensures the perpetuation of the situation. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/18/the-factors-that-worsen-the-uttarakhand-disasters/  (18 March 2021)

Hydropower projects are wreaking havoc in the Himalayas  By Prakash Kashwan Neelima Vallangi To avoid tragedies similar to the February 7 flash flood in the future, the question of climate action should be debated in tandem with the broader question of adopting an ecologically-sensitive model of development. To achieve this, we should stop attributing the blame for such disasters solely to “nature’s fury”, and start holding national and international agencies and policymakers accountable for their failings. https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/3/19/hydropower-projects-are-wrecking-havoc-in-the-himalayas  (19 March 2021)

Uttarakhand Govt to allow completion of 7 hydel projects The Centre has decided to allow the completion of seven under-construction hydropower projects in Uttarakhand, a top official in the environment ministry said, indicating the government’s desire to push ahead with these projects. The decision has been taken by the ministries of environment, power and Jal Shakti, and will be communicated to the Supreme Court (SC), which is hearing a matter on hydropower projects, this person added on condition of anonymity.

“Those hydropower projects which have completed 50% of construction will be allowed to go ahead,” this person said. Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar, too, tweeted on March 15 his response to a question in Rajya Sabha that sanctioned projects will be allowed to go ahead, but no new projects will be initiated in the upper reaches on Ganga.

The projects at Tapovan Vishnugad (520 MW) on Dhauliganga river which was completely destroyed in the February 7 glacier breach; Vishnugad Pipalkoti (444 MW) on Alaknanda river; Tehri Stage II (1000 MW) on Bhagirathi river; Singoli Bhatwari (99 MW) on Mandakini river; Phata-Buyong (76 MW) on Mandakini river; Madhyamaheshwar (15 MW) on Madhmaheshwar Ganga; and Kaliganga II (6 MW) on Kaliganga river all meet this criterion.

“This shows that the government is turning a blind eye to recurrent disasters. The only rationale to allow these seven is that the money has already been spent but that doesn’t mean you have to go ahead with faulty and risky propositions,” said Mallika Bhanot, an Uttarakhand based environment activist associated with Ganga Ahvaan. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/uttarakhand-govt-to-allow-completion-of-7-hydel-projects-101616113075080.html  (19 March 2021)

Manipur CRA organises weeklong celebration of ‘International Day of Action for Rivers’ A weeklong celebration of the International Day of Action for Rivers, 2021 was organised jointly by the Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA) Manipur, Jupiter Yambem Centre, Imphal and the JAC against Pabram Dam from March 10 to March 14. https://www.thesangaiexpress.com/Encyc/2021/3/15/IMPHAL-Mar-15A-weeklong-celebration-of-the-International-Day-of-Action-for-Rivers-2021-was-organised-jointly-by-the-Centre-for-Research-and-Advocacy-CRA-Manipur-Jupiter-Yambem-Centre-Imphal-an.amp.html  (15 March 2021) 

Jammu & Kashmir Ratle Hydroelectric Power Corporation to develop 850 MW project J&K Administrative Council (AC), under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor, on March 16, 2021 approved the incorporation of the Joint Venture Company (JVC) under the name Ratle Hydro-electric Power Corp to implement the 850 MW Ratle Hydro-Electric Project on river Chenab at Drabshala in Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir. The proposed JVC will have authorised capital of Rs 1,600 Crore with initial paid up capital of Rs 100 Crore, out of which the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corp will contribute Rs 49 crore as an initial equity. The MoU to execute the project at an estimated cost of Rs 5,281.94 crore, was signed between the Govt of Jammu and Kashmir, JKSPDCL and NHPC on 03.01.2021.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/jks-ratle-hydroelectric-power-corporation-to-develop-850-mw-project/81562908  (18 March 2021)

Madhya Pradesh 8 arrested for stealing goods from Maheshwar HEP yard  Eight people were arrested on March 15, 2021 for stealing goods worth Rs 7 lakh from the yard of Maheshwar Hydroelectric Project office. Those arrested include two buyers of stolen materials. They confessed to stealing copper wires, aluminium rectifiers, copper control plates and other things from the yard. In fact, materials worth crores of rupees have been stolen from the yard since lockdown was first imposed last year. The police have not disclosed any information about those thefts but arrested eight people for recent thefts. https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/khargone-8-arrested-for-stealing-goods-worth-rs-7-lakh-from-maheshwar-hydroelectric-project-yard  (16 March 2021)

MoEF Minutes of the EAC meeting held on March 1, 2021, key decisions:

1. Expansion of Tidong-I Hydroelectric Project-II for (Phase I -100MW+ Phase II – 50MW) in an area of 42.3 ha (without increase in area) by M/s Tidong Power Generation P Ltd in village Rispain, District Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh) – Environmental Clearance. MORE INFO SOUGHT.

2. Kurha Vadhoda Islampur Lift Irrigation Scheme UPSA Sinchan Yojna with Culturable Command Area (CCA) of 32372 Ha by Tapi Irrigation Development Corp at Village Rigaon, Teh-Muktainagar Dist Jalgaon (Maharashtra) – Terms of Reference: More Info Sought

3. 270 MW Anjaw HEP in an area of 359.12 ha by Lohit Urja P Ltd located in village Supliyang, Dist Anjaw (Arunachal Pradesh)– Terms of Reference: APPROVED https://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/18032021PIKG3EBYFinalMinutes8thEACRVHEP01-03-2021.pdf 

Agenda of the EAC meeting on March 25, 2021:

1. Shaheed Lakhan Nayak Small Hydroelectric Project, Dist Koraput, Orissa by Meenakshi Odisha Power P Ltd – for Env Clearance

2. Dhaulasidh HEP (66 MW) by SJVN Ltd. in Hamirpur & Kangra Dists of Himachal Pradesh – Amendment in Env Clearance

3. Gyspa (300 MW) Hydro Power Project on River Bhaga in Lahaul & Spiti Dist of Himachal Pradesh by HP Power Corp Ltd. for Terms of Reference

4. Scoping Clearance from MoEFCC for EIA/EMP study of Niare Hydro Electric Project by Andhra Power Private Limited in Upper Subansiri Dist of Arunachal Pradesh for Terms of Reference https://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/180320211CF9RDGAFinalAgenda9thEAC.pdf

DAMS

Opinion Floods Unleashed by Dams Should Also Be Part of Dam Safety Concerns by Bharat Dogra:- In the context of ongoing debates on dam safety and the pending legislation on this increasingly important subject, a neglected aspect is that when no harm is caused to dam structure but nevertheless large-scale damage is done by very excessive and unexpected discharge of flood water then this too should be considered an aspect of the wider understanding of dam safety. https://countercurrents.org/2021/03/floods-unleashed-by-dams-should-also-be-part-of-dam-safety-concerns/  (15 March 2021)

Polavaram project HC stays eviction, demolition in affected areas The Andhra Pradesh High Court (HC) stayed the demolition of houses in the villages falling in the way of the Indira Sagar Polavaram Irrigation project in east and west Godavari districts. The court was hearing a petition filed against eviction and demolition of villages in the Schedule V areas of the two districts March 8, 2021. The petition was filed by Andhra Pradesh-based environmental justice non-profit Search for Action and Knowledge of Tribal Initiative (Sakti). The counsel of the Andhra Pradesh Water Resource Department, however, told the court that no eviction took place. To this, the court directed the advocate representing the respondent authorities to produce in writing his reply on March 24. The court stayed the eviction proceedings till then.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/polavaram-project-andhra-high-court-stays-eviction-demolition-in-affected-areas-75955  (16 March 2021)

Mullaperiyar Dam Come out with rule curve for Mullaperiyar: SC  This exposes not only Tamil Nadu, but also the Union of India, particularly CWC and Ministry of Water Resources. If the apex court has to direct the dam operating state TN to share the rule curve for the Mullaperiyar dam, one of the oldest dams of India, and if the CWC and MoWR are just silent spectators, that says a lot.

– The SC bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said on Tuesday that the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary shall be “personally responsible” and “appropriate action” will be taken on failure to give information on the rule curve for Mullaperiyar dam to the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Committee. The SC bench directed the Supervisory Committee to issue directions or take steps to address the three core safety issues — the monitoring and performance of the instrumentation of the dam, finalising the rule curve and fixing the gate operating schedule — and submit a compliance report in four weeks. The next hearing is on April 22. When TN tried to blame Kerala even for the rule curve finalisation, “First you give the information on rule curve to the Supervisory Committee… Trees and roads do not immediately concern the safety of the dam,” Justice Khanwilkar told the Tamil Nadu side.

– The court is hearing a petition filed by Dr. Joe Joseph and office-bearers of the Kothamangalam block panchayat in Kerala expressing their apprehensions about the lack of proper supervision of water levels in the dam located along the Periyar tiger reserve. The petitioners, represented by senior advocate Gopakumaran, contended that the Supervisory Committee had become “lethargical” about the safety inspection and survey of the dam. It had delegated its duties to a sub-committee of local officials. “Meeting are held just for attendance. The instrumentation scheme, safety mechanism, etc, have not been finalised for the past six years. The sub-committee was formed by the Supervisory Committee without informing the Supreme Court… We are seeking a continuous mandamus from the Supreme Court to control and monitor the work of the Supervisory Committee,” Mr. Gopakumaran contended.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/come-out-with-rule-curve-for-mullaperiyar-sc/article34085574.ece  (16 March 2021)

Scrap 1886 lease on Mullapariyar Dam: PIL  The SC on Friday (March 19) decided to examine a plea to terminate the lease deed concerning the Mullaperiyar dam, originally signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the British Secretary of State for India in Council for ‘Periyar Project’ in 1886. A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar issued notice to the Centre and other parties, including Tamil Nadu and Kerala on a petition filed by an NGO, Suraksha Public Charitable Trust. The petition contended that the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which succeeded the original signatories of the lease deed in 1970, have breached the terms of the deed. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/scrap-1886-lease-on-mullapariyar-dam-says-plea-in-sc/article34111677.ece  (19 March 2021)

Sardar Sarovar Dam Opinion based on documentary ‘Dammed But Not Damned’ wrongly claims that the tribal oustees have got better deal from rehabilitation package.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/all-that-is-solid-melts/resolving-dilemmas-of-development-new-documentary-on-sardar-sarovar-dam-oustees-suggests-an-answer/  (15 March 2021) Here Madhuresh of NBA shares how these claims are selective facts and making an argument over the suffering of tribals and claiming their resolve to make their life better after 30 years of struggle is not what anyone needs to do. https://twitter.com/kmadhuresh/status/1371755238152093699?s=20 Shripad of Manthan and Oza Nandini had replied to Aiyer on his selective readings and now being aired as a film on Hotstar. https://scroll.in/article/850777/no-swaminathan-aiyar-adivasis-ousted-by-the-narmada-project-arent-lovin-it-they-are-desperate  (17 Sept. 2017) More details and know the harsh reality of displacement what it does to people and their lives by Shripad Manthan. https://www.epw.in/journal/2019/44/discussion/resettled-oustees-narmada-valley.html  (10 Nov. 2019)

Gujarat Razing of centuries-old dam halted after villagers protest HOW BIG DAMS DESTROY LOCAL WATER SYSTEMS: Demolition of a centuries-old dam was halted on Saturday after a protest staged by the residents of Shinay village in Gandhidham taluka of Kutch district. The Sardar Sarovar Nigam Limited (SSNL) plans to demolish the dam and use its clay to build a Narmada sub-canal. The residents said that they use the dam water for irrigation, besides using it for drinking purposes for animals.

– “We had held the protest because without informing the villagers the government machinery started the work of demolition of the dam. We are using the dam water for irrigation purposes and have asked authorities to postpone the demolition work by two months. At present, the dam has an 18-feet water level. If the dam is damaged it may flood some low lying areas,” Gopal Hadiya, sarpanch of the village, said. “We don’t know about the reasons behind the move, the government asked us to demolish the dam so we are doing it,” B Shrinivasan, Engineer of SSNNL in Gandhidham, said. Kutch collector Praveena D K confirmed that the demolition work was halted after the protest of villagers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/razing-of-centuries-old-dam-halted-after-villagers-protest/articleshow/81609189.cms  (22 March 2021)

Kaleshwaram Project PR dated March 16, 2021 of Megha Engg for the Kaleshwaram project in Telangana. https://www.prnewswire.com/in/news-releases/a-historical-accomplishment-in-kaleshwaram-project-888057032.html  (16 March 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Earthen stop-dam collapses An earthen dam constructed on Kahn river, a tributary of Kshipra near Ujjain collapsed as water overflowed from the dam on March 18, 2021. The contaminated water stored behind the earthen dam (the dam was constructed just for that purpose) got mixed with the Kshipra water and flowed downstream, also killing the fish in the river. https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/ujjain-earthen-stop-dam-collapses-kanh-water-contaminates-the-kshipra  (18 March 2021)

IRRIGATION

Business Line info-sheet.

Report Sikkim, Andhra, Karnataka, Maharashtra lead is usage of drip irrigation  Up to 60 per cent of water used for sugarcane, banana, okra, papaya, bittergourd and few other crops could be saved if a drip irrigation system is employed for cultivation. But only four States — Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra — have more than half of the net cultivated farmlands under micro-irrigation. 27 States (including UTs) in India have less than 30 per cent micro-irrigation system out of which 23 have less than 15 per cent micro-irrigation.

The data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to the Lok Sabha last month show that the net irrigated area in the country is 68,649 thousand ha. The agriculture land covered under micro-irrigation is 12,908.44 thousand ha in which drip irrigation is 6,112.05 thousand ha and sprinkler irrigation is 6,796.39 thousand ha. This means that out of total irrigated land in the country only 19 per cent is under micro-irrigation. These figures are from 2005-06 to 2020-21(as on February 3, 2021).

Interestingly Uttar Pradesh, the largest sugarcane grower, has only 1.5 per cent while Punjab, the major wheat grower, has 1.2 per cent land under micro-irrigation. Bihar and West Bengal are among the States that have less than 5 per cent micro irrigated land. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/data-stories/data-focus/sikkim-andhra-pradesh-karnataka-and-maharashtra-lead-is-usage-of-drip-irrigation/article34075327.ece  (15 March 2021)

Maharashtra Farmers respond positively to agricultural pump power policy  A total of 5.82 lakh farmers in the state have so far paid the arrears of agricultural pump electricity bills amounting upto Rs 511.26 crore. A rebate of Rs 256 crore has been given on the amount of Rs 511.26 crore paid. A total of 5,82,114 farmers have paid the arrears. The highest arrears have been paid in the Pune division, an official statement from MSEDCL has said today.

The new agriculture pump policy, announced on December 18, 2020, is getting a good response across the state. A huge number of farmers have availed this scheme, the statement said. There are 44.44 lakh agricultural pump consumers in the state having arrears of Rs 45,785 crore. The new scheme will provide a total relief of Rs 30,000 crore. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/farmers-respond-positively-to-agricultural-pump-power-policy-7233184/  (18 March 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Tapi, Surat Youths on mission to clean city Every Sunday is observed as ‘Safai Sundays’ by these youngsters who since December 27 last have been roped in by Project Surat, the NGO that works for an eco-friendly smart city and encourages residents to spend Sunday mornings “responsibly”.

On International Day of Action for Rivers which fell the youngsters cleaned up the Tapi riverfront near Dutch Garden. The participants are asked to volunteer for an hour every Sunday from 7.45 am to 9 am for the cleaning drives which are followed by awareness talks on zero waste living, waste segregation and organic lifestyle. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/surat-youth-on-mission-to-clean-city/articleshow/81523180.cms  (16 March 2021)

RIVERS

Inaugural of “Prof. Brij Gopal Memorial River Lecture” on 22nd March 202, World Water Day. Registration link here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfrwuSw18qq7NqNTWUvym73W9NHwyH1jV7qTXVg-JmRq2MxZw/viewform

Opinion River at the heart of the world  Fascinating tale of a rare, amazing trip of Arati Kumar Rao, in her own words: “It is the cusp of spring when I reach the lower plains of Assam.” “With my friend and guide Katon for company, I wind my way up the Siang valley and climb upwards, east, into the beyul of lower Pemakö, deep in the valley of the “secret river.””

Arati Kumar-Rao ventures into a forested river gorge in the hidden land of Pemakö, which exists deep within the heart of the Tibetan Buddhist belief system. Long considered impenetrable, the grind of industry now threatens this prophesied “promised land.”  https://emergencemagazine.org/essay/river-at-the-heart-of-the-world/ 

Save the Himalayan river systems  Some details of what is ailing Himalayan rivers system including decline in flows, increase in pollution, catchment degradation and climatic threats by Arunabha Ghosh

The construction of large dams, canal diversions and hydropower projects has direct and indirect impacts. Obstruction of the river flow, even for run-of-the-river projects, increases siltation, reduces the efficacy of hydropower projects over time, while reducing farm productivity downstream. When hydropower projects divert rivers into underground tunnels, such as for the tributaries of Indus or Alaknanda or Mandakini, the surface water flow recedes. For non-glacial rivers (such as Gomti, Panar, Kosi), deforestation is the main threat, thanks to ill-planned construction. In Uttarakhand, 45,000 hectares of forest land have been diverted to other uses since 1980. As a result, water infiltration into the ground reduces. So, even when erratic rains arrive, mountain springs do not get recharged nor do non-glacial rivers get their water supply.

There are no silver bullet solutions, but two approaches should be at the core of the response. First, IHR needs alternative development pathways, the absence of which makes the construction industry the default option. More sustainable models — high-valued-added agriculture, less water-intensive natural farming, food processing, ecotourism, investments in non-hydropower forms of renewable energy, or monetising the preservation of natural capital — cannot be restricted to pockets or pilots. Alternatives must be designed and deployed at scale to get buy-in from communities and policymakers. Secondly, decentralised water governance, especially of springs, is imperative. Then communities can understand the conditions of their spring waters, determine appropriate use, and protect or increase forest cover, because their livelihoods depend on replenished water resources. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/save-the-himalayan-river-systems-101615994653731.html  (17 March 2021)

West Bengal Over 25 lakh people lost jobs due to dying rivers Riverine Bengal is fast losing its lifeline. More than 25 lakh people have lost livelihood because of the dying and dead rivers. On Wednesday, the victims of this worst environmental degradation staged a rally at Ramlila Maidan, Moulali, pointing that the issue has not featured in the manifesto of any political party in the poll-bound Bengal. The mass rally at Ramlila Maidan, organised by Sabuj Mancha, marked many firsts in poll-bound Bengal. “The geography of Bengal’s rivers has become history and we have lost biodiversity on a massive scale. The ground water recharge has been hampered to a great extent. Fishermen lost their livelihood like farmers. But the state administration and the Centre have remained indifferent to this issue,” said Naba Dutta of Sabuj Mancha. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/over-25-lakh-people-lost-jobs-due-to-dying-rivers-report/articleshow/81557174.cms  (18 March 2021)

Activists try to push river conservation into agenda The deteriorating health of rivers, water bodies and wetlands has become a critical agenda in West Bengal in the run-up to the assembly elections. Two back-to-back meetings in Kolkata were organised recently to demand attention to the problem from political parties. More than one thousand river and water activists and concerned citizens from across the districts gathered in a public meeting in Kolkata on March 17, 2021 to demand protection and restoration of the rivers. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/west-bengal-elections-activists-tries-to-push-river-conservation-into-agenda-76052  (19 March 2021)

Karnataka Asserting a river’s right to flow Jeeva Nadi, a dance-drama recently performed in Bengaluru, depicted the impact of environmental degradation on rivers. https://www.deccanherald.com/spectrum/spectrum-top-stories/asserting-a-rivers-right-to-flow-964197.html  (20 March 2021)

Punjab Talk to Pak over Fazilka drain block pollution: NGT panel The NGT monitoring committee has directed chief secretary Vini Mahajan to communicate with Pakistan, through the ministry of external affairs, and convince it to open its blockade of Fazilka drain into its territory, allowing free flow of water into Sutlej river.

Pakistan has blocked the drain from entering its territory and this has led to large-scale accumulation of untreated water. Under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, Pakistan is supposed to desilt and maintain drains such as the one at Fazilka.

Fazilka drain is one of 22 drains and water bodies, where untreated water of Malwa district is discharged. The monitoring committee has said that the drain is closed at the borderline of countries, leading to stagnation in the shape of ponds and deterioration of quality of groundwater in the border area. The contamination of groundwater has been detected at more than 100ft in the border area.

The direction is based on a review of remedial measures in Moga, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Faridkot and Muktsar districts. Justice Jasbir Singh (retd), chairman of committee, had chaired the review meeting on March 4. On November 11, 2020, the chief secretary had written to the department of water resources, ministry of jal shakti, to look into the matter. There was, however, no positive result. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/talk-to-pak-on-opening-blockade-on-fazilka-drain-ngt-panel-to-punjab-101616002330867.html  (18 March 2021)

Haryana Govt reconstitutes panel for studying Sarasvati river The Centre has reconstituted an advisory committee to chalk out a plan for studying the mythical Sarasvati river for the next two years, after the earlier panel’s term ended in 2019. The Archaeological Survey of India on March 10 issued a notification for “reconstitution of the Advisory Committee for the Multidisciplinary Study of the River Sarasvati”. The ASI had first set up the committee on December 28, 2017 for a period of two years.

One of the officials in the panel said the committee would review the work done by the previous panel and then formulate a plan. The committee would advise the Government Departments conducting research, the official said. A Culture Ministry official said the research on tracing the course of the Vedic river in present day Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat was “incomplete”.

According to the ASI’s 2017 notification, the committee was tasked with defining the Sarasvati river and its basin, identifying “special items of geotechnical nature for study of the Sarasvati basin and to suggest names of competent agencies/individuals” and identifying “archaeological sites and areas for multidisciplinary research and to assess their potential for development as centres of education and tourism”. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-reconstitutes-panel-for-studying-sarasvati-river/article34066999.ece  (14 March 2021)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh Agreement signed for setting up STPs in Moradabad To set up STPs in Moradabad, a tripartite concession agreement was signed between the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and GA Infra Private Limited-Lahoty Buildcon Limited on Monday (March 15), according to an official statement.

The NMCG statement said the contract was awarded at a total cost of Rs 99.68 crore. It said the project aims to eliminate flow of untreated sewage from Moradabad city into the Ganga thereby reducing pollution load in the river. The project also aims to take care of the existing sewerage problems in the town and the resultant sewage pollution in the Ram Ganga. The lending for these projects is already offered by SBI Capital.

In order to address the pollution from Moradabad, a comprehensive sewerage network and 58 MLD STP Project for Moradabad sewerage zone 1 has already been completed. In addition to this project, NMCG has also approved the project for ”Pollution Abatement Works for River Ram Ganga at Bareilly” for construction of STP of 65 MLD which is presently under tender evaluation stage and is expected to be awarded soon. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/agreement-signed-for-setting-up-sewage-treatment-plants-in-ups-moradabad/2047261  (15 March 2021)

Uttarakhand Centre warns of Covid upsurge during Kumbh A high level team of central Health Ministry visited Uttarakhand on March 16 and 17 to review the preparedness and measures undertaken by the state for the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. The organisers have said more than 150 million visitors are expected, as many devotees believe bathing in the river during this period absolves people of sins and bring salvation from the cycle of life and death. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/10-20-pilgrims-testing-ve-daily-centre-warns-of-covid-upsurge-during-kumbh/articleshow/81617692.cms  (21 March 2021) The team of the Health Ministry has reported that nearly 10-20 pilgrims and 10-20 locals at the Kumbh Mela, ongoing in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, are being reported positive every day. Such a rate had the potential to rapidly turn into an ‘upsurge’ in cases. This assumes significance given CM Tirath Singh Rawat, stating that a negative COVID-19 test wouldn’t be a requirement for those intending to visit Haridwar. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-centre-warns-of-upsurge-following-kumbh-mela-at-haridwar/article34122996.ece  (21 March 2021)

YAMUNA Delhi 7 tracts of degraded land were transformed into biodiversity parks Report of a decade old journey that started in 2001 with 146 acre of floodplain land near Jagatpur in Wazirabad along the Yamuna. This is now part of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, now spread over 457 acres. In all today there are seven biodiversity parks in Delhi, the report says from DDA. Prof C R Babu of Delhi University who was part of the effort before this journey started continues to remain part of the team.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/such-a-long-journey-how-7-tracts-of-degraded-land-were-transformed-into-biodiversity-parks/articleshow/81595282.cms  (20 March 2021)

DDA approves setting up of river management committee The DDA on Thursday (March 18) approved setting up of the River Yamuna Management Committee for smooth coordination among all stakeholders so that restoration works to develop and maintain the river and its floodplains are carried out in a harmonious manner, officials said. The panel would be headed by the LG of Delhi with members, including the chief secretary of Delhi, Vice Chairman of the DDA, a representative of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, various stakeholder departments from Delhi government, representative of governments of Haryana and UP, Delhi Jal Board, municipal corporations of Delhi, and city police, they said.

The decision was approved by the Authority, the highest decision-making body of the Delhi Development Authority, during its meeting chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal. The panel would also involve experts from the fields of science and technology, wetland management, solid waste management, environmental planning, environmental impact assessment, ecology, biodiversity, hydrology, landscape architecture, or any such field relevant to the ecology of the floodplains, it added. https://www.news18.com/news/india/dda-approves-setting-up-of-river-yamuna-management-committee-lg-to-head-panel-3548993.html  (19 March 2021)   

Accessible riverfront in a few years: DDA More details of progresss on DDA’s riverfront development project.  However, environment experts say that beautifying the floodplains will serve no purpose if the river continues to be dirty. Khudsar and AK Gosain, a professor of civil engineering at IIT Delhi, who submitted a drainage master plan to the Delhi government in 2017, said that just treating a few drains is not enough and efforts should be made to ensure that no sewage flows into the river.

Gosain said, “There is a need to ensure that sewage doesn’t flow into the river. There are around 200 natural drain segments in Delhi and most of them are flooded with sewage. We had advised the government to put in a system in place whereby sewage from unauthorised colonies, where there are no sewer lines, is trapped and diverted to nearby sewer lines. The natural drains should be clean and are meant to carry only stormwater.”

While work on the restoration of the riverfront, which was disrupted last year due to the coronavirus disease pandemic, is picking up pace, DDA officials said that a majority of the work will be completed by December 2021. DDA is also planning to send a proposal to the Union housing and urban affairs ministry for approval of funding of the project from the Urban Development Fund, which is collected by DDA mainly through conversion charges, said a DDA official. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhi-could-have-an-accessible-riverfront-in-a-few-years-dda-101615977309341.html  (17 March 2021)

Close to 1,400 hectares of land are being developed by DDA on the eastern and western banks of the river. DDA vice-chairman Anurag Jain said, “The entire stretch has been divided into 10 projects, each spread over 90 hectares and above. The work is moving at a fast pace, and the three projects will be completed in the next few months. We aim to complete large parts of projects by the end of this year.”

One of the biggest challenges in restoring the riverfront, Jain said, is removing encroachments and reclaiming the land. According to a senior DDA official, about 1,000 acres of land have been cleared of encroachment and are being developed, and work is going on in other parts.

HT Infograph

CR Babu, who heads the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE) at Delhi University, said, “Two of the 11 constructed wetlands are operational. We are treating drain water that has raw sewage from the Kilokri drain naturally via a constructed wetland system before the water is released into the river. A similar wetland system will be soon operational for the Maharani Bagh drain where 500MLD of drain water will be treated. We are also constructing recreational spaces.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/cycle-tracks-eco-trails-in-revamp-plan-for-22km-yamuna-riverfront-101616033049295.html  (18 March 2021)

Uttar Pradesh डूब क्षेत्र में गणपति बिल्डर पर एडीए का गरजा महाबली  एसीएम द्वितीय और आगरा विकास प्राधिकरण के मुख्य अभियंता के नेतृत्व में एडीए की टीम मय फोर्स के साथ दयाल बाग स्थित गणपति वंडर सिटी पहुंची जहां डूब क्षेत्र में बनाये गए 81 फ्लैट्स को ध्वस्त करने की कार्यवाही के लिए जैसे ही अधिकारी पोक लेन मशीन और जेसीबी लेकर पहुंचे गणपति बिल्डर के मालिक निखिल अग्रवाल और उनके लोगो ने अधिकारियों से कार्यवाही न करने की गुहार लगाई बातों बातों में तीखी नोक झोंक भी हुई लेकिन अधिकारी कार्यवाही का मन बन चुके थे लिहाजा किसी की एक न चली और महाबली ने देखते ही देखते फ्लैट्स को जमीदोज करना शुरू कर दिया। एडीए चीफ इंजीनियर सतेंद्र नागर और एसीएम अमरीश कुमार बिंद ने बताया कि मामला लंबे समय जो लंबित था और एनजीटी के आदेश मिलते ही आज ध्वस्तीकरण की कार्यवाही की जा रही है। https://moonnewsagra.com/?p=962  (10 March 2021)

Dying Yamuna needs urgent help, say green activists  Members of the ‘River Connect Campaign’ have demanded a National Rivers Police and constitution of a Central Rivers Authority to manage rivers flowing through more than two states. At a meeting on Saturday (March 20) at the Itmad-ud-Daulah View Point Park, the members pointed out that the local administration had neither cleaned up the river bed in the Agra urban limits nor tapped the drains. The River Police squad was nowhere to be seen and people were still openly defecating in the river, said Pandit Jugal Kishore. River activists Rahul Raj and Deepak Rajput said the directives of the apex court had not been followed. The ‘dhobies’ (washermen) were still washing linen from nursing homes just behind the Fort and the Taj. The 100-odd transport companies that had to be shifted outside the city are still hanging on to the Yamuna bank road, adding to the pollution load.

Both the NGT and the SC have on several occasions directed the Haryana government to continuously maintain a minimum flow of water in the river to sustain aquatic life, but the reality is that the entire supply of water in the Yamuna is being consumed in Haryana alone, a part is diverted to Rajasthan and a small quantity finds its way to Delhi. The share of downstream cities like Mathura, Vrindavan and Agra is held up in Delhi. So how do you expect the Yamuna to be in good health, ask the green activists who point out that all great Mughal monuments are sited along the banks of the Yamuna which must have a sufficient supply of water for the maintenance of these structures. https://www.thehansindia.com/hans/opinion/news-analysis/dying-yamuna-needs-urgent-help-say-green-activists-677053  (16 March 2021)

Hindon River Cleaning apart UPPCB has miserably failed even to check periodic dumping of industrial effluents in Hindon. Here villagers report of whitish powder floating on river surface further adding into pollution problems. 18.3.21 Video. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1373142440417366017?s=20

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Uttar Pradesh Pregnant Gangetic Dolphin found dead in Bahraich A pregnant Gangetic river dolphin was found dead in Girijapuri barrage under the Katarniyaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in  Bahraich, an official said on Monday (March 15). The dolphin was aged around 11 years, divisional forest officer Yashwant Singh said. According to Mr Singh, a team of veterinary doctors conducted an autopsy on the dead dolphin and found a fetus in its uterus. Mr Singh said the dolphin was cremated following rules. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pregnant-gangetic-dolphin-found-dead-in-uttar-pradeshs-bahraich-2391445  (15 March 2021)

कतर्नियाघाट वन्यजीव प्रभाग से होकर निकली घाघरा पर बने गिरिजा बैराज के फाटक नंबर 32 के पास रविवार (March 14) की सुबह डॉल्फिन का शव उतराता मिला। दो सदस्यीय चिकित्सकों की टीम ने पोस्टमार्टम किया। रिपोर्ट में गर्भस्थ शिशु की मौत से फैले संक्रमण से मादा डॉल्फिन के मौत की पुष्टि हुई है।

कतर्नियाघाट वन्यजीव प्रभाग के सदर बीट से होकर घाघरा नदी निकली है। इसी पर गिरिजा बैराज बना है। सुबह बैराज से होकर गुजर रहे लोगों की नजर डॉल्फिन के शव पर पड़ी। रिपोर्ट में पता चला कि मादा डॉल्फिन गर्भवती थी। पेट में ही उसके शिशु की मौत हो गई थी, जिससे संक्रमण फैल गया। 2.10 मीटर लंबाई होने के साथ 11 वर्ष डॉल्फिन की आयु है। सुजौली के पशु चिकित्सक एएम कटिहार व डॉ.भार्गव ने शव का पोस्टमार्टम किया। पोस्टमार्टम के बाद शव को जला दिया गया।

कतर्नियाघाट वन्यजीव के बीच से होकर निकली कौड़ियाला नदी डॉल्फिन के प्रवास के लिए सबसे ज्यादा मुफीद है। प्रदेश में सर्वाधिक डॉल्फिन कौड़ियाला नदी में पाई जाती हैं। बावजूद सुरक्षा को लेकर वन महकमे के पास कोई ठोस इंतजाम नहीं है। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/bahraich-dead-body-of-dolfin-found-in-girija-dam-21463845.html  (14 March 2021)

पयागपुर रेंज के अमदापुर शंकरपुरवा गांव के पास सरयू नहर में लगभग 10 दिनों से एक डॉल्फिन उछलकूद कर रही थी। ग्रामीण उसे देखकर रोमांचित हो रहे थे। सूचना पाकर मंगलवार को वन विभाग और टीएसए (टर्टल सरवाइवल एलायंस) की टीम मौके पर पहुंची और डॉल्फिन को रेस्क्यू किया। इसके बाद उसे राप्ती नदी में छोड़ दिया गया। डॉल्फिन की उम्र करीब छह वर्ष है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/bahraich/caught-dolphin-leaping-in-the-canal-bahraich-news-lko541474728  (22 Sept. 2020)

बहराइच में जैतापुर गांव के पास सरयू नदी में रविवार को मछली के शिकार के चक्कर में एक डॉल्फिन साइफन में फंस गई। ग्रामीणों ने डॉल्फिन के साइफन में फंसे होने की सूचना वन विभाग के कर्मियों को दी। मौके पर पहुंचे वन कर्मियों ने ग्रामीणों की मदद से डॉल्फिन को साइफन से बाहर निकाला। इसके बाद उसे ले जाकर घाघरा नदी में छोड़ दिया। डॉल्फिन का वजन लगभग 37 किलो था।

वन क्षेत्राधिकारी नदीम ने बताया कि एक सामान्य डॉल्फिन जमीन पर सिर्फ चार मिनट 13 सेकेंड जीवित रह सकती है। इस बीच अगर इससे ज्यादा समय उसने जमीन पर व्यतीत किया तो पानी के अभाव में उसकी मौत हो सकती है। ऐसे में उसे तुरंत पकड़कर घाघरा नदी में छोड़ दिया जाता है।

कतर्नियाघाट वन्यजीव प्रभाग के डीएफओ जीपी सिंह ने बताया कि डॉल्फिन घाघरा नदी में मिलती है। क्योंकि घाघरा नदी सीधे गंगा नदी की शाखा से जुड़ी हुई है, जिसमें महसी, कैसरगंज के जरवलरोड, मिहींपुरवा के जालिमनगर के अलावा कौड़ियाला व गेरुआ नदी में भी यह पाई जाती हैं। यहां का पानी डॉल्फिन को रास आता है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/bahraich/dolphin-caught-in-siphon-in-saryu-river-bahraich-news-lko4759492162  (11 Aug. 2019)

Odisha Carcass of Gangetic Dolphin found floating in river The carcass of a Gangetic Dolphin weighing a little more than 50 kg was caught in the net of a fisherman in a river in coastal Bhadrak district, officials said on Thursday (Feb. 18).

Forest department officials said the carcass of the Gangetic Dolphin was caught by a fisherman of Kruttibaspur village in Bhadrak district when he was pulling in his net in Salandi river on Wednesday (Feb. 17). Forest ranger of Bhadrak, Subas Nayak said the sarpanch of Govindpur gram panchayat informed him about the dead dolphin.

“The dolphin was at least 5.5 feet long and did not have any injury mark. After inspecting the carcass, I was certain that it was a Gangetic Dolphin as it had a long, pointed snout that is characteristic of all river dolphins. Both the upper and lower jaw sets of long sharp teeth were visible even when the mouth was closed. We are carrying out a post-mortem of the carcass to know how it died,” said the ranger.

DFO in-charge of Bhadrak Wildlife Division, Bikash Ranjan Das said in November last year a smaller female Gangetic Dolphin was found floating in Gobari river of Kendrapara district. “It may have travelled upstream from the sea or may have travelled from some other river. In 2005 too, we had found a Gangetic dolphin in Budhabalanga river of Balasore district,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/carcass-of-gangetic-dolphin-found-floating-in-odisha-river-101613664190070.html  (18 Feb. 2021)

Bangladesh Dolphin found dead in Bhola River shoal The Forest Department has recovered a dead dolphin from a shoal of the Bhola River near Sundarbans on Thursday (March 11) afternoon. The dolphin was four feet long and two feet ten inches wide.

Sarankhola range Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Md Joynal Abedin said a trawler driver named Ferdous Molla spotted the dolphin and informed the Forest Department around 2pm. Later, forest rangers and members of the Dolphin Conservation Team recovered and took it to the range office, he said. After collecting various samples, the dolphin was buried in the forest under Sarankhola range. The dolphin did not bore any injury marks. The cause of death will be known after testing the samples, Abedin added.

Two types of dolphins are found in Bangladesh- Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) and Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica). The official status of the river dolphins, locally known as Shushuk (Platanista gangetica) is “critically endangered” as per the IUCN Red List. https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2021/03/12/dolphin-found-dead-in-bhola-river-shoal-near-sundarbans  (12 March 2021)

 FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Odisha Fishes found dead in Bargarh pond, banned pesticide found in water The test report of the water sample collected from a pond in Deuchuan reserve forest under Bhatli range in Bargarh district where fishes were found dead and floating 15 days ago has confirmed presence of chlorpyrifos.

According to assistant professor of OUAT Pharmacology and Toxicology Department Ajit Kumar Nayak,“It is a matter of great concern that chlorpyrifos is still being sold and used in India. The presence of the pesticide in the water sample collected from the pond has given credence to it. The said pesticide has already been banned in US since 2001 and in India since May 2020,”.

Since the pond is inside the reserve forest, it is suspected that poachers have a role in it. As of now, the people of nearby villages are worried about their domestic animals. Since the toxicologists have sounded alarm that the water of the pond has become poisonous and not t for consumption, the forest department has swiftly taken steps to prevent wild or domestic animals from coming to the pond.

Notably, the Central government had banned use, import and manufacture of 27 highly poisonous pesticides in the country through a gazette notification May 14, 2020. Chlorpyrifos is in the seventh position in the list of these 27 banned pesticides. The presence of chlorpyrifos in water suggests that the banned pesticide is being sold in markets. https://www.orissapost.com/fishes-found-dead-in-bargarh-pond-banned-pesticide-found-in-water/  (13 March 2021)  

Telangana KLIS helps fishermen net big catch The Kaleswaram water pumped into the Lower Manair Dam (LMD) and other adjoining water bodies in Karimnagar district is also enabling in significantly increasing the fish cultivation. Since LMD, 746 gram panchayat tanks and 141 water bodies in the district were filled with Kaleswaram water, the production of fish has gone by up by 40 per cent. https://telanganatoday.com/klis-helps-fishermen-net-big-catch  (14 March 2021)

SAND MINING

Uttar Pradesh Latest video showing how illegal, mechanized sand mining going unbated in the middle of Yamuna river by diverting flowing course & violating all norms in Shamli Uttar Pradesh. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1372488291564589056?s=20

Andhra Pradesh Jaypee Group to handle sand excavation, supply  Jaypee Group has won the bid to handle sand excavation and supply in the state. After the government finalised the tender and cleared the proposal on Saturday (March 20), Jayaprakash Power Ventures Limited, a subsidiary of the group, emerged as the successful bidder by quoting the highest price. The tender process and technical biddings were handled by Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited (MSTC), a central government undertaking. Jaypee Group will handle sand excavation and supply in the state for the next two years.

As per the government’s upgraded sand policy, the successful bidder will excavate sand and open sand stock points close to the sand reaches. Customers can check the quality of the sand and pay for its supply. The government will fix a ceiling on the price and if any violations are reported, action would be taken against the supplier. The government has said there is no need to apply for sand online and people can arrange their own transportation or ask for transport.

The government had earned Rs 161.30 crore on sand in 2019-20 and Rs 380 crore during 2020-21 till February. It is expecting to earn a revenue of Rs 765 crore in the next financial year with the new contractor. The government had divided the state into three zones for sand excavation in different reaches and JPVL offered the highest price for each of the three packages. The price of the sand will be uniform at each reach across the state, with an upper ceiling regionally based on distance. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/jaypee-group-to-handle-sand-excavation-supply/articleshow/81608601.cms  (21 March 2021)

The MSTC Limited has selected  Jayaprakash Power Ventures Ltd to undertake sand mining, storage and sales for a period of two years in a transparent and impartial manner. The state government had announced an upgraded sand policy vide G.O.No.78, Department of Industries and Commerce (M.III), dated 12-11-2020.

Director of the department of mines and geology entered into a MoU on 04-01-2021 with M/s. MSTC Ltd to select the eligible agency for undertaking sand mining, storage and sales for a period of two years. MSTC Ltd confirmed that M/s. Jayaprakash Power Ventures Ltd was the successful bidder as they announced the highest price for all three packages. The company is part of the Jaypee Group.

Officials informed that M/s Jayaprakash offered Rs. 477.50 crore for package-1, Rs. 745.70 crore for package-2 and for Package – 3, Rs 305.60 crore. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/210321/jayaprakash-power-ventures-gets-sole-sand-mining-rights.html  (21 March 2021)

Uttarakhand उत्तराखंड में खनन माफियो के खिलाफ कवरेज करने गए पत्रकारों पर हमला https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNdV2EuYAkY  (18 March 2021) https://parvatjan.com/mining-mafia-beat-up-journalists-kidnapped/  (19 March 2021)  

Himachal Pradesh NGT sets up panel headed by retired judge The NGT has constituted an independent five-member committee headed by a former judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Jasbir Singh, to give an independent report regarding alleged illegal mining at Swan river in Una district. The other members of the committee comprises regional officers of the CPCB, the MoEF&CC, the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research Institute, Dehradun and the Himalayan Forest Research Institute, Shimla with the Regional Officer, MoEF&CC, Chandigarh being nodal agency.

The NGT’s three-member principal bench headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and members Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Dr. Nagin Nanda issued the order on March two for setting up the five-member committee while hearing an application filed by one Amandeep.

In its four-page order, the NGT directed the SPCB and Una district magistrate to provide logistic support to the committee. The committee will be at liberty to take assistance from such other institutions, experts or individuals as necessary, the order added. Apart from constituting the five-member committee, the NGT also directed the state environment secretary, the state PCB and Una district magistrate to take remedial action to control the menace of sand mining after verifying the facts stated in the application. The PCB will be the nodal agency for compliance and coordination, it added.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/illegal-sand-mining-in-hp-ngt-sets-up-panel-headed-by-retired-judge-222873  (10 March 2021)

Haryana Mining threat looms over Aravalis Around two years after the Haryana Assembly passed the Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019, amid opposition by the environmentalists and the Gurugram residents, the State government’s recent move to seek permission from the Supreme Court to begin mining in the Aravalis in Gurugram, Faridabad and Nuh is being viewed as another threat to one of the oldest mountain ranges with adverse impacts to the environment in the region.

Strongly opposed to legalising mining in the Aravalis in the National Capital Region, the environmentalists argue that this could cause colossal damage to the environment, especially when the region is already grappling with poor air quality and fast depleting groundwater level. Mining is banned in Gurugram and adjoining districts for more than a decade now as per the Supreme Court orders.

As per the Economic Survey of Haryana 2020-21, the collection from mining for 2020-21 till January is ₹770.00 crore, the highest since 2005-06. Besides, as many as 58 mines of the total 119 in the State have already been allocated. More than 26,000 cases of illegal mining, including 1,358 till September 2020 for the current financial year have been reported. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mining-threat-looms-over-aravalis-in-haryana/article34120877.ece  (21 March 2021)

Maharashtra Video report on illegal sand mining in Kanhan river, Nagpur. https://www.nagpurtoday.in/sandstone-excavation-continues-by-constructing-culvert-in-kanhan-river/03161519 

Tamil Nadu DMK leader vows to allow sand mining as poll promise DMK candidate Senthil Balaji, who is contesting elections, from Karur has promised that if his party is voted to power, sand mining may be allowed in the state and any government official trying to create a hurdle will be removed.

“As soon as Thalapathy (Stalin) takes oath as the CM – if he takes oath at 11 am, then at 11.05 am — you all can directly take your bullock carts into the river for sand mining). No officials will stop you; if someone stops you call me immediately, he will be removed.” https://www.timesnownews.com/india/tamil-nadu/article/dmk-leader-vows-to-allow-sand-mining-as-poll-promise-says-all-can-take-bullock-carts-to-river-if-stalin-wins/733533  (17 March 2021)

A video clip of a purported speech of DMK candidate for Karur V. Senthil Balaji, telling bullock cart operators that they could have a free run once his party was voted to power, has triggered a row. “No official will stop you. If anyone does, call me, the official will no longer be there,” he said amid lusty cheers from the audience. He was said to have delivered the speech before filing his nomination in Karur on Monday (March 15).

Taking exception to the remarks, Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan tweeted drawing a comparison of Mr. Senthil Balaji’s remarks with MNM Perundurai candidate Nandakumar’s legal battle against sand smuggling. Despite being subject to a brutal attack on account of this, Mr. Nandakumar continued his public service. “This is the difference between the kazhagams and MNM,” he said.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/row-over-senthil-balajis-remark-on-sand-mining/article34094750.ece  (17 March 2021)

Report Sand mining destroying the planet; costing lives Sand mining destroys habitats, dirties rivers and erodes beaches, many of which are already losing ground to rising sea levels. When miners dig out layers of sand, riverbanks become less stable. The pollution and acidity can kill fish and leave less water for people and crops. The problem is made worse when dams upstream prevent sediments from replenishing the river.

“It has so many other impacts that are not taken into consideration,” said Kiran Pereira, an independent researcher who has written a book on solutions to the sand crisis. “It’s definitely not reflected in the cost of sand.”  

Nowhere is the violence worse than in India, home to the world’s deadliest “sand mafias.” Criminal gangs there have burned journalists alive, hacked activists to death and run over police officers with trucks. A report last year from the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, an environmental group based in Delhi, counted 193 people who died through illegal sand mining in India over the last two years. The main causes of death were poor working conditions, violence and accidents. https://www.ecowatch.com/sand-mining-climate-crisis-2651083582.html  (15 March 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Kerala A miracle in the Kole wetlands by Sudha Nambudiri Could you come together and fight for a common cause above and beyond political delineations? Farmers in the traditional Kole wetlands of Thrissur have been doing just that, as part of their struggle to protect the unique ecosystem from reclamations and degradation.

For most farmers, the Kole wetlands known for their rice-producing ecosystem don’t represent nature or the environment. It is their food security and they do not want it to be abused. “Almost 90% of the Kole wetlands in Thrissur district have been protected. We don’t permit reclamation,” says K K Kochu Mohammed, who heads Zilla Kole Karshaka Samithi (ZKKS), a collective of 130 farmer groups.

It was when people shifted from agriculture to non-farming sectors that the remaining people started forming small farmers’ groups. “There was a need to set up a strong united front to protect the wetlands. That is how the Samithi was set up. It has members from all political fronts. Unfortunately, you cannot see such a unity in any other district,” says Mohammed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/tracking-indian-communities/a-miracle-in-the-kole-wetlands/  (06 March 2021)

Waterbird census throws light on disappearing wetlands  The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) by Wetlands International carried out across the capital city noted a 36 per cent increase in the number of birds as compared to 2020. In 2020, 3,206 individual birds belonging to 52 species were observed in the district. This year, 4,372 birds belonging to 74 species were observed. Kochi showed a 1.25 per cent increase in the count of birds with the regular sighting of 1,296 birds this year, while 1,280 birds were spotted last year. Thrissur showed a 23.8 per cent decline in the bird count. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2021/mar/18/waterbird-census-throwslight-on-disappearing-wetlands-2277912.html  (18 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Managing waste to save the wetlands With varied topography, Himachal Pradesh has a number of wetlands spread across various ecological zones. Around 271 lakes are located across the state’s 12 districts.

Pradeep Sangwan involves local communities as well as tourists to conduct clean up treks in Himachal Pradesh. Photo from Healing Himalayas./Mongabay India

Local communities in Himachal Pradesh have a spiritual bond with lakes in the state and most of the water bodies are considered sacred. Increasing tourism and irresponsible disposal of plastic waste are among the threats to these wetlands.

Pradeep Sangwan leads an organisation that has been actively cleaning up the wetlands in the region through clean-up treks and waste management activities. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/managing-waste-to-save-the-wetlands-of-himachal-pradesh/  (16 March 2021) 

Bihar Only 5% public ponds free of encroachment  Nearly two-and-a-half-years after the Bihar government to free public ponds of encroachment under its Jal Jeevan Hariyali Mission by 2021, the drive to ensure the same is yet to pick up pace. Merely five per cent government ponds have been freed of encroachments so far, according to government data. Early this week, Bihar rural development minister Sharvan Kumar told the state assembly that the government would make 9,044 public ponds free of encroachment under the mission over next three years.

Only 531 ponds have been made encroachment-free so far, state fisheries minister Mukesh Shahni told the state Assembly March 16. Shahni added that the department has directed all districts to start the work at the earliest. Of the 96,000 ponds in the state, 30,672 are public ponds, he added.

As many as 12,027 of the 199,000 water bodies in the state have been encroached upon in the last four years, according to official records. This was revealed in 2017 after the Patna High Court pulled up the state government in this regard. Till the early 1990s, there were 250,000 ponds in Bihar, according to official records. Their number declined to less than a lakh, a slump of more than 65 per cent.

Activists have claimed that most “ponds were either encroached upon or filled with soil and waste for the vested interest of the land mafia”. This can adversely affect water harvesting during the monsoon season and subsequently underground water availability during summers, said Ranjeev, a water activist. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/nearly-3-years-since-campaign-only-5-public-ponds-free-of-encroachment-in-bihar-76044  (19 March 2021)

Maharashtra Greens demand FIR after confirming burial of mangroves at Dhutum  Local environmentalists who have been struggling to save the coastal mangroves and wetlands, said that they have recently got confirmation through RTI and the latest field inspection of the revenue department that a large number of mangroves were destroyed through landfill at Dhutum area in Uran taluka. The greens have now therefore demanded that an FIR should be lodged at Uran so that the perpetrators are acted upon.

The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has confirmed to us in response to our RTI application that the landfill at Dhutum mangroves site has no coastal zone clearance. That is why we had complained to the authorities, leading to the recent field inspection by the state revenue department,” said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation. MCZMA had earlier asked the Raigad district collectorate to check these green violations.

The environmentalists had complained that a large tract of green mangroves in Dhutum, off the NH348 highway in Uran, were fully `buried’ with debris and earth, which is a clear cut green violation. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-greens-demand-fir-after-confirming-burial-of-mangroves-at-dhutum/articleshow/81607256.cms  (20 March 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Surajpur wetland suffers from industrial pollution Domestic and industrial pollution seemed to be taking a toll on the Surajpur wetland as a stream that recharged the lake was covered with an unusual white foam on Saturday (March 13). While the forest department and pollution board was yet to establish toxicity, experts opined that the foam, also seen on the Yamuna when it is grossly polluted, suggested so.

Spread over 308 hectares, of which 60 hectares is a lake, the wetland is city’s largest reserve forest and one of three major birding hot spots, the others being Okhla Bird Sanctuary and Dhanauri wetland.

Environmentalist Vikrant Tongad said the stream is actually a drain. “It called Havelia and is a storm water drain that originates in Hapur. On its way, it passes through several industrial areas and is polluted with untreated discharge. The drain then splits with one discharging into Surajpur and the other into Hindon river near Kasna area. It had been polluted for years and getting worse with time,” said Vikrant Tongad, city based environmentalist. Government officials said that they will test the water and also write to the concerned department.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/surajpur-wetland-suffers-from-industrial-pollution-as-foam-seen-over-stream-that-feeds-lake-101615746228681.html  (14 March 2021)

Haryana Najafgarh lake: Pollution sources must be identified: CPCB  Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in its recent analysis has shown that the sources of pollution causing deterioration in water quality should be identified and quantified for the restoration of Najafgarh lake.         

According to the data shared by the CPCB a detailed gap analysis, including identification of drains adding to the pollution level and measuring water quality. A report by the pollution control board stated that the current and historic water quality of Najafgarh lake for all physicochemical parameters, bacterial parameters and several other parameters are not included. Moreover, the CPCB also recommended that the exact timeline for the actions proposed (immediate, medium and long-term plan) should be specified, along with the implementing agency and budget estimate.  https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/article/najafgarh-lake-pollution-sources-causing-water-quality-deterioration-must-be-identified-says-cpcb/732711  (15 March 2021)

Report Avian flu in India brings forth environmental, animal and human health linkages Regular monitoring of wild aquatic birds and the wild bird-poultry-wetland interface is essential to understanding avian influenza viruses’ prevalence. Proactively enhancing monitoring of wild bird and animal disease in the environment can serve as an early warning system of change/arrival of potential diseases. According to a 2020 study, there was evidence of interaction between poultry and wild waterfowl concerning H5N1 outbreaks in India. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/avian-flu-in-india-brings-forth-environmental-animal-and-human-health-linkages/  (17 March 2021)

GROUNDWATER

EPW Managing Groundwater–Energy Nexus in India What Will Solar Pumps Achieve?  By Meera Sahasranaman, M Dinesh Kumar, Mahendra Singh Verma, Chris J Perry, Nitin Bassi, M V K Sivamohan:- The fresh arguments made by Shilp Verma and others in support of the “SpaRC” model, as a solution for India’s multiple problems of groundwater depletion, farmer distress, poor financial working of the power sector and growing carbon footprint in agriculture are misleading, and the analyses presented to back them are flawed.  https://www.epw.in/journal/2021/11/commentary/managing-groundwater%E2%80%93energy-nexus-india.html  (15 March 2021)

Report Groundwater depletion ‘threatens food security’ Groundwater depletion in India could result in a reduction in food crops by up to 20 per cent across the country and up to 68 per cent in regions projected to have low future groundwater availability in 2025, says a study.

Groundwater is a critical resource for food security, accounting for 60 per cent of irrigation supplies in India, the world’s largest consumer of underground water, said the study, published in Science Advances. But unsustainable consumption of groundwater for irrigation and home use is leading to its depletion.

Using high-resolution satellite imagery and census data, the study quantifies the impact of groundwater depletion on cropping intensity. As the second largest producer of wheat, rice and lentils in the world, India accounts for ten per cent of the world’s agricultural production with over 600 million farmers dependent on agriculture as a primary source of livelihood. Any huge losses in production will not only affect Indian agriculture but will also threaten food security in South Asia and the world, the study says. https://www.scidev.net/global/news/groundwater-depletion-in-india-threatens-food-security/  (18 March 2021)

Managing Groundwater through Participatory Science & Community Action The inaugural lecture of Centre for Water Research (CWR) IISER Pune on managing groundwater in India through participatory science and community action by Dr. Himanshu Kulkarni, ACWADAM, Pune.

Summary: The complex nature of aquifers, the large dependencies of society on groundwater and the myriad vulnerabilities resulting from depleting – deteriorating sources of water compel an out-of-the-box approach to groundwater management in India. Demystified science, exposure to the living laboratory of nature and engaging a multitude of users in understanding and managing groundwater resources is significant in eliciting appropriate responses to many groundwater-related problems across India’s diverse geography. Acceptance of scientific findings is greater if stakeholders are involved in strategies of action research on a variety of topics in groundwater management. Perspective building, community discussions and decision support can draw upon the science of aquifers in a variety of contexts in India’s rural and urban settings. Decisions and actions at community levels, based on proper science, can help us overcome challenges in the management and governance of a common pool resource such as aquifers.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOcCw1Eyy_A  (19 March 2021)

URBAN WATER

Hyderabad Save lakes from realtors, encroachers: HC Telangana HC on Thursday (March 18) asked the government to stop constructions within full tank level (FTL) of the sprawling Ameenpur lake, a biodiversity heritage site, and other lakes across the city. The bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy, while hearing petitions seeking protection to lakes, said it was the duty of the government to protect lakes. Hyderabad is dotted with 169 big lakes, according to the government, down from more than 1,000 lakes a few decades ago.

One of the petition was a PIL filed by Rajeev Khandelwal of Hyderabad Birding Pals, a society run by nature conservationists and bird watchers, who sought protection of Ameenpur lake from encroachers and steps from the state and the Centre to preserve its pristine beauty according to the true spirit of the Biological Diversity Act 2002 and in tune with past judgments.

The bench wondered why the revenue counsel was inviting orders from the court for protecting the lake and its land, pointing out that it was their duty. “Are you expecting the court to run the administration on your behalf?” the bench asked before adjourning the case. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/hc-tells-govt-to-save-lakes-in-the-city-from-realtors-encroachers/articleshow/81578156.cms  (19 March 2021)

Govt. announces new drinking water project for twin cities  In a major fillip to infrastructure for the twin cities, the government has announced a new project to bring more drinking water from Sunkesula near Nagarjunasagar at a total cost of ₹1,450 crore. An initial amount of ₹725 crore has been proposed in the budget presented by Finance Minister T. Harish Rao in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday (March 18).

He also claimed that the government’s promise of providing 20,000 litres of free drinking water during the GHMC elections has reduced the financial burden on the poor and middle class. Therefore, ₹250 crore is being allocated for the same. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/govt-announces-new-drinking-water-project-for-twin-cities/article34103271.ece  (19 March 2021)

Bengaluru Contract given to develop Koreamangala waterway City-based construction firm Star Infratech has bagged the contract to develop and rejuvenate the Koramangala (K-100) valley between KR Market and Bellandur lake into a ‘Citizens Water Way Project’ for Rs 179.50 crore. The contract also includes the construction of a European-styled pathway, arch bridges and 5 MLD STP. The project is targeted to be ready in the next two years.

Last week, the Urban Development Department (UDD) approved awarding the contract to Star Infratech, which was formerly known as Star Builders and Developers. The company, officials said, has experience in the construction and repair of roads, canals, bridges and buildings.

As per the official documents, three companies had participated in the bids. Of these, two bidders cleared the technical evaluation. The lowest bidder – – Star Infratech (Venkataramane Gowda) — quoted Rs 181.48 crore, which was 19.19 per cent more than the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike’s (BBMP’s) estimated cost of Rs 151.25 crore. Another company — BSR Infratech India Ltd (Srinivasa Rao Balusu) — quoted Rs 186.03 crore. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/there-will-be-a-koreamangala/articleshow/81517399.cms  (16 March 2021) 

Mandur Landfill site to biomine 20 lakh tonnes garbage The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has now invited tenders for the bio-mining project to remove 20 lakh tonnes of garbage that was dumped her between 2008-2014 that is estimated to cost Rs 159 crores. The six-year-old plan to bio-mine the 135-acre site of Mandur landfill – though 28 km away from the city, is now set for serious execution and will be completed in 5 years once it gets underway.

The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 now makes it compulsory to bio-mine legacy waste instead of ‘capping’ which means covering the waste with soil. Biomining is a process by which garbage is treated with bio-organisms or natural elements like air and sunlight so that the biodegradable elements in the waste break down over time. Civic authorities in charge of collecting waste, usually dump mixed waste – biodegradable and non-biodegradable – in the garbage dump sites over the years.

The Bangalore Mirror states that in 2012, the BBMP had engaged a private company named Srinivas Gayathri Resource Recovery Limited (SGRRL) to set up a waste-to-energy plant but that project did not start. Another company – Organic Waste India Pvt Limited (OWIPL) had set up a 300-tonne compost facility at Mandur and started its operations in July 2013 but again, its waste-to-energy project did not take off. https://www.timesnownews.com/bengaluru/article/explainer-what-is-bio-mining-waste-bengalurus-mandur-landfill-site-to-biomine-20-lakh-tonnes-garbage/732696  (15 March 2021)

Amritsar MC holds meet on surface water project  The Municipal Corporation (MC) on Tuesday (March 16) conducted a meeting on a 24×7 surface water supply project and discussed various aspects of new arrangements of water supply. Mayor Karamjit Singh Rintu and Commissioner Komal Mittal presided over the meeting in which detailed discussion was held on how to maintain a 24-hour supply of clean drinking water and proper sewerage system which would be framed for implementation in future.

It is worth mentioning here that CM Capt Amarinder Singh had inaugurated the first phase of the surface water project worth Rs 722 crore on February 22. The entire project would cost around Rs 2,200 crore and will help in providing clean water. The entire project would cost around Rs 2,200 crore and would help in providing clean and safe drinking water to the people of the holy city, while it would reduce dependence on underground water which had been leading to the degradation of the environment in the state.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the lending arm of the World Bank Group, would finance 70 per cent of the cost and the rest would be borne by the Punjab Government. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/amritsar-mc-holds-meet-on-surface-water-project-226972  (18 March 2021)

WATER POLLUTION

Maharashtra Faecal coliform count along city coastline 9-16 times higher than safety limit: MPCB The ‘Water quality status of Maharashtra 2019-20’, published by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) last month, also shows that the count of faecal coliform in 10 water monitoring stations is in the range of nine to 16 times higher than the safety limit. A civic official said discharge of untreated domestic sewage into the sea was one of the main reasons behind high FC count — measured as colonies of coliform per 100 ml of water.

In seawater at Malabar Hill, Juhu, Nariman Point, Worli Seaface and Haji Ali, the count was as high as 1,600/100ml against safe standards of 100/100ml. While at the remaining five stations, the count was above 900. Mumbai generates over 2,190 million litres of sewage water daily, of which 1,285 million litres is treated. All 7 STPs, however, perform only primary treatment before discharging it into the sea. Many parts of the city do not have sewerage networks, so they directly discharge raw sewage in water bodies, like Mithi river. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/faecal-coliform-count-along-city-coastline-9-16-times-higher-than-safety-limit-mpcb-7221648/lite/  (10 March 2021)

WATER

Himachal Pradesh State stares at ‘famine-like situation’ Dire warning of famine like situation in summer, says Himachal Pradesh irrigation and public health minister. He warned the House against threat of a major “famine-like situation” in the summer. “The situation is going to be alarming, as against 30-40 feet of snow at Rohtang Pass, there is barely 3 to 4 feet of snow this time,” he said. In fact, the water level of the Beas had started declining and in the summer, it could go dry due to very little rainfall and snow in the winter, he added. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/himachal-pradesh-stares-at-famine-like-situation-226338  (17 March 2021)

Bhakra water level dips, farmers worried Another sign of impending summer water crisis this year in North India. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/bhakra-water-level-dips-farmers-worried-227240  (19 March 2021)

IPH Minister warns of water scarcity in summer “My request to you all is that please do not oppose the measures that we might have to take in view of the water shortfall that could grip the state in case we do not get rain,” he remarked. He added that the water schemes, which have sufficient water, would be linked to the ones which go dry.

He informed the house that so far 1,328 schemes had been approved under the Jal Jeevan Mission till January 31. He added that Rs 555.81 crore had been spent on these schemes. “The Centre is providing funding on 90:10 pattern for the schemes to be implemented under Jal Jeevan Mission,” he revealed. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/iph-minister-warns-of-water-scarcity-in-summer-225790  (16 March 2021)

The minister appealed to members of the House to start constructing small water harvesting structures in their constituencies to tackle the oncoming water crisis. “We will also be restarting the installation of handpumps and borewells this year as per requirement, and water harvesting tanks will be built in each subdivision of the Jal Shakti department,” he said.  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/himachal-minister-warns-of-looming-water-crisis-says-sources-drying-up-7236307/  (19 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh received less snow and rain this winter. After winter, melt-water from glaciers and the snow cover regularly feeds the groundwater as well as other downhill water sources such as springs, wells, bawries, lakes, rivulets, streams and rivers. But water sources have already started drying up this year due to deficient snowfall. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the state received only 59 millimetres of precipitation this winter (January 1 to February 28), which was 69 per cent less than normal.  

Himachal had received deficient snowfall in 2018, too, when drinking water shortage in the capital town of Shimla in summer had invited global media attention. The situation has been better in Shimla since then because its water supply source from Gumma stream has been augmented to provide 10 million litres daily (mld) more water to the city.

The extent of the problem this year will become clearer in the coming summer months, but the water minister claimed that it has never been so dry before in Himachal so early during the year. “There are parts of Beas river which can now simply be crossed by wading through on foot,” the minister remarked.  https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/himachal-pradesh-water-shortage-crisis-explained-7237900/  (21 March 2021)

India at UN Need to build resilient systems to provide solutions for sustainable use of water  Addressing the high-level meeting on the “Implementation of the Water-Related Goals and Targets of the 2030 Agenda” convened by President of the General Assembly Volkan Bozkir, Minister of Jal Shakti (Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation) Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that there is no doubt that in the journey to achieve the 2030 Agenda, water supply and sanitation have to be the center of the global efforts.

Noting that water systems are becoming stressed and more than half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared, Shekhawat said climate change is altering the pattern of weather, all around causing droughts in some areas and floods in others.

“Furthermore, water availability and distribution is changed by the limitation of geography, growing demand and pollution of water bodies. Water conservation, rain-water harvesting and water recycling have yielded synergistic results and we need to build on them,” he said, adding that there is a need to bridge the gap between accessibility and availability of water.

The high-level meeting centred around implementation of the water-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, which is the blueprint for a better, more sustainable world.

India has also launched the ‘Water is Life Mission’ (Jal Jeevan), a USD 50 billion project to provide safe and piped drinking water to all households by 2024. Under the National River Conservation Plan, river Ganga is being cleaned, a “feat being accomplished by abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of the river.” Shekhawat quoted Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s words, “Water being the wealth of the people and its distribution being uncertain, the correct approach is not to complain against nature but to conserve water.” https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/need-to-build-resilient-systems-to-provide-solutions-for-sustainable-use-of-water-india-at-un/article34106438.ece  (19 March 2021)

Parliament Session Over 42K govt schools lack drinking water supply, 15k have no toilets: Minister Over 42,000 government schools across the country do not have drinking water facilities, while more than 15,000 schools have no toilets, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said on Thursday (March 18). The minister quoted the statistics from Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) in response to a written question in the Rajya Sabha.

“As per UDISE, 2018-19, out of 10,83,747 total number of government schools in the country, 10,41,327 government schools have drinking water facility and 10,68,726 government schools have toilets,” he said in his written reply.

“States and UTs have been repeatedly advised to ensure that all the schools, including those under the non-government sector (private, aided schools, etc.) in their jurisdiction should have provision for separate toilets for boys and girls and safe and adequate drinking water facilities for all children,” the minister added. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/over-42-000-govt-schools-lack-drinking-water-supply-15k-have-no-toilets-minister-227067  (18 March 2021)

Gujarat 12% rise in villages being supplied drinking water through tankers There has been a 12 per cent increase in the number of villages getting drinking water supply through water tankers in Gujarat during the past five years, stated data tabled in the Gujarat Assembly during the ongoing budget session. The state government that aims to provide piped water connections to all households by 2022, has spent over Rs 135 crore in arranging water tankers between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

– During these five years, the districts that had the maximum villages being served with water tankers were Banaskantha (1,136 villages), Kutch (887 villages) and Patan (327 villages). During this period, the cost of supplying water through water tankers rose by a massive 66 per cent to Rs 36.02 crore in 2019-20. The districts that did not witness even a single tanker being deployed for water supply during this period were Panchmahal, Vadodara and Mehsana. An additional Rs 11.3 crore was spent on water tankers in the first six months (up to September 30, 2020) of 2020-21 fiscal. A total of 373 villages were provided drinking water in first half of this financial year.

– The Gujarat government in the ongoing budget session of the assembly also admitted that it has not been able to provide water to 204 villages in the state despite laying water pipelines due to “technical reasons”. Of the 204 such villages, the highest are in tribal areas of Dahod (98 villages), Chotta Udepur (65) and Mahisagar (24). https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/12-rise-in-villages-being-supplied-drinking-water-through-tankers-7229634/  (15 March 2021)

Madhaya Pradesh Rahmat Mansuri on realities of rural water projects in the state. http://epaper.subahsavere.news/c/59128031  (17 March 2021)

Water on the front page of India Today. https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/editor-s-note/story/20210329-from-the-editor-in-chief-1781519-2021-03-20  (20 March 2021)

MONSOON

North East Automatic Weather Stations PIB PR on March 15 2021: ‘Integrated Meteorological Services for the North-East (NE) region’ has been initiated by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) under the Central Sector scheme Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modeling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS). Under the activity, observational network in the NE region will be augmented to improve the weather & forecasting skills over the region by commissioning of systems like 8 X-Band Doppler Weather Radars, GPS sonde systems, Snow Gauges, and augmentation of Automatic Weather Stations, Automatic Rain Gauges etc. This will include setting of observational network required for meeting aviation & other requirements through commissioning of Automated Weather Observing System/Heliport Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS/HAWOS), setting up/upgradation of Meteorological Centres (MCs) and other facilities over the region. The PR gives list of 86 places in in the 8 states of NE India along with district & station name & Lat-Long: Arunachal (16), Assam (27), Manipur & Nagaland (10 each), Meghalaya (7), Mizoram (8), Sikkim & Tripura (4 each). https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1704839  (15 March 2021)

FLOOD

CWC Technology for Forecasting of Floods PIB PR on March 15, 2021: In order to meet specific requirements of flood warnings by CWC, India Meteorological Department (IMD) operates Flood Meteorological Offices (FMOs) at 13 locations viz., Agra, Ahmedabad, Asansol, Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jalpaiguri, Lucknow, New Delhi, Patna, Srinagar, Bengaluru and Chennai. Apart from this, IMD also supports Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) by providing Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) for Damodar river basin areas for their flood forecasting activities. FMO provide meteorological support to the CWC for issuing flood warnings well in advance in respect of 153 river basins.

– The PR also provides some details of the data provided by IMD to CWC-FF and the mothod used by CWC-FF. It also provides the number of level and inflow forecast by CWC-FF in each year from 2000 to 2020 and how many of them have been within +/- of 15 cm in case of level forecast and +/- of 20% of inflow in case of inflow forecast. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1704838  (15 March 2021)

Research On the need of ensemble flood forecast in India  Author Nanditha J.S. Vimal Mishra India spent more money on post-flood recovery than investing in pre-flood mitigation schemes. An efficient flood early warning system could not only reduce the extensive damages caused during the flood season but also aid in reducing economic inequality and vulnerability of a more extensive section of the population in India. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468312421000031

DROUGHT

Marathwada chronicles: Notes from the land of thirst  Two new books on the drought-hit Marathwada region draw attention to the tragic plight of India’s farmers.

Kavitha Iyer’s recent book, Landscapes Of Loss: The Story Of An Indian Drought (HarperCollins India), a stirring account of a human, social and ecological tragedy that has been unfolding for decades in central and western India, mostly away from urban eyes.

Anita Agnihotri’s latest novel, The Sickle (Juggernaut Books), translated into English by Arunava Sinha and set in the same drought-hit landscapes of loss that Iyer reports from.  https://lifestyle.livemint.com/news/big-story/marathwada-chronicles-notes-from-the-land-of-thirst-111615719911435.html  (14 March 2021)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Telangana Largest floating solar power plant coming up It’s the largest floating solar power project in the country, and perhaps in the world when it is commissioned at a cost of Rs 423 Cr with 4.5 lakh PV panels spread over 450 Acres. The 100MW project, being set up at NTPC Ltd’s Ramagundam thermal power plant reservoir near Peddapalli in Telangana, is slated to be commissioned by May 2021.

– the Ramagundam floating solar project is part of plans to set up a 217MW floating solar power capacity in south India. This includes the 25MW, Rs 110 crore floating solar project at NTPC Simhadri spread over 150 acres that will also be commissioned by May 2021 and a 92MW project coming up on the backwaters of Kayamkulam in Kerala’s Alappuzha district.NTPC already has a 105KW pilot floating solar plant operational at Kayamkulam and a 1MW plant at its Kawas gas-based power plant in south Gujarat. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/indias-largest-floating-solar-power-plant-coming-up-in-telangana/81441836  (11 March 2021)

Solar projects on water could come at a cost to the environment, alert experts Ecologists and conservationists are concerned about the long-term impacts of largescale floatovoltaic projects on freshwater ecosystems. They caution that in absence of any reported data or studies available, these projects will lead to an irreparable loss of biodiversity.

Floatovoltaics can trigger a chain of reactions in the water bodies, causing harm to aquatic life, leading to a shift in the ecology. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/solar-projects-on-water-could-come-at-a-cost-to-the-environment-alert-experts/  (12 March 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Editorial India needs to get its environment management right Arunabha Ghosh in The Hindustan Times on March 17 2021:- “This self-certification on the environmental impact of a project is untenable because the company may not know the impact or choose not to reveal it. While the implementation of green laws has been weak, the proposed dilution of the precautionary principle is even more unfair to victims of pollution. The government must ensure a transparent and collaborative effort for framing a new law, which puts the environment and people at the forefront.”  https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/india-needs-to-get-its-environment-management-right-101615993390439.html  (17 March 2021)

MoEF Single law mooted to replace air, water, environment acts Modi govt has not yet given up on the TSR Subramaniam report of 2014, recommending principles of Utmost good faith and Pay & Pollute for the polluting industries. They are drafting a new act as reported here. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/single-law-mooted-to-replace-air-water-environment-acts-101615920551981.html  (17 March 2021)

There are many unanswered questions about the contents and of the Environmental Law Amendment Bill and the manner in which the government plans to go about enforcing it writes Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli. https://thewire.in/environment/what-lies-behind-environmental-law-making  (18 Nov. 2015)

Report 16 states have cut forest dept budget Details shared by the states with the environment ministry till March 12 show that West Bengal reported the highest percentage (52%) decline in its budgetary allocation for the forest department followed by UP (44%), Andhra Pradesh (40%), Tamil Nadu (38%) and Bihar (30%). The figures were shared by Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar as part of his written response to a Parliament question in Rajya Sabha on Monday (March 15).

Though the data of most of the Union Territories were not available, Delhi’s record shows decrease in the budget of forest department from Rs 71 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 48 crore in 2020-21. The states which reported increase in budgetary allocation include Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Haryana, Kerala, Meghalaya, Tripura, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab.

An amount of over Rs 48,477 crore has been disbursed from CAMPA to 31 states/UTs till January 31 since coming into force of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 in September, 2018. This is the money which is collected from project developers as levies for diversion of forest for non-forest activities such as infrastructure development, mining and industries. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/16-states-have-cut-forest-dept-budget/articleshow/81522157.cms  (16 March 2021)

Odisha Drastic reduction in Central funds hits forest fire management More than 40 per cent fund has been slashed for Similipal and Satkosia which impacted protection activities. Hundreds of forest protection squad members, known as protection assistants (PAs) were laid off due to shortage of funds which has severely affected forest protection and fire management programmes this year.

The Standing Committee of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in its report presented in Rajya Sabha on March 8 pointed out that MoEF&CC’s budget allocation was reduced by Rs  1,085 crore at the revised estimate (RE) stage due to Covid-19 pandemic which affected various programmes and schemes.

From a Rs 300 crore budget estimate in 2020-21 for the flagship Project Tiger, the revised estimate saw allocation drop by 35 per cent to Rs 195 crore. The actual expenditure by January-end was Rs 179.83 crore. For 2021-22, the budgetary estimate stands at Rs 250 crore. “Though Rs 16 crore was proposed for Satkosia, only Rs 3.8 crore was set aside. However, this amount was also not allocated entirely. While Rs 1.76 crore was allocated in the first phase, only 50 pc of the remaining was allocated in second phase. After reduction of funds under Centrally sponsored schemes, we tried to manage things ustiling CAMPA funds. However, it proved insufficient,” said an officer. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/mar/12/drastic-reduction-in-central-funds-hits-forest-fire-management-2275613.html  (12 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Disaster looms as safety norms are ignored Authorities in Himachal Pradesh want to legalise unauthorised buildings in highest quake-risk region. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/livelihoods/disaster-safety-ignored-himalayan-state/  (16 March 2021)

IUCN Over 20 countries found weakening environmental protection during pandemic At least 22 countries enacted or proposed changes during the coronavirus pandemic that weaken environmental regulation, endangering protected areas around the globe, according to IUCN research paper published on March 11.

Regarding India, the paper cited at least 31 proposals to open up national parks and sanctuaries for infrastructure, extraction and development projects, including coal mining. https://science.thewire.in/environment/over-20-countries-found-weakening-environmental-protection-during-pandemic/  (15 March 2021)

Report 22 of world’s 30 most polluted cities in India The report is prepared by Swiss organisation, IQAir, in the form of the ‘World Air Quality Report, 2020’, which has released globally.

Besides Delhi, the 21 other Indian cities among the 30 most polluted cities in the world are Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Noida, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Agra and Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Bhiwari in Rajasthan, Faridabad, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, Bandhwari, Gurugram, Yamuna Nagar, Rohtak and Dharuhera in Haryana, and Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

As per the report, the top most polluted city is Xinjiang in China followed by nine Indian cities. Ghaziabad is the second most polluted city in the world followed by Bulandshahar, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Noida, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow and Bhiwari. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/22-of-the-worlds-30-most-polluted-cities-are-in-india-delhi-most-polluted-capital-city-report-2392028  (16 March 2021)

NITI Aayog vision for Great Nicobar ignores tribal, ecological concerns In what appears to a re-run of recent developments in Little Andaman Island (A bullet through an island’s heart, The Hindu, February 1), more than 150 sq. km. of land is being made available for Phase I of a NITI Aayog-piloted ‘holistic’ and ‘sustainable’ vision for Great Nicobar Island, the southernmost in the Andaman and Nicobar group. This amounts to nearly 18% of the 910 sq. km. island, and will cover nearly a quarter of its coastline. The overall plan envisages the use of about 244 sq. km. – a major portion being pristine forest and coastal systems.

Projects to be executed in Phase I include a 22 sq. km. airport complex, a transshipment port (TSP) at South Bay at an estimated cost of ₹12,000 crore, a parallel-to-the-coast mass rapid transport system and a free trade zone and warehousing complex on the south western coast. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/niti-aayog-vision-for-great-nicobar-ignores-tribal-ecological-concerns/article34120093.ece  (20 March 2021)

Critic, scholar Pratap Bhanu Mehta resigns as Ashoka professor  Less than two years after he stepped down as Vice-Chancellor, noted scholar, political scientist and commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta resigned as professor from Ashoka University Tuesday (March 16). Mehta, who is also Contributing Editor, The Indian Express, has consistently, in his writing and public appearances, questioned the ruling establishment. He is considered one of the nation’s foremost scholars on politics and political theory, Constitutional law, governance and political economy. Asked by The Indian Express if his criticism of the government had anything to do with his exit, the university sidestepped the question. https://indianexpress.com/article/education/pratap-bhanu-mehta-ashoka-university-7231635/  (17 Jan. 2021)

Noted economist Arvind Subramanian has resigned as professor from Ashoka University, citing the circumstances involving Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s exit and the fact Ashoka, even with its private status and private capital, can no longer provide space for academic expression and freedom. Subramanian had joined Ashoka University in July last year as a professor in the department of economics. He is also the founding director of the new Ashoka Center for Economic Policy, devoted to researching policy issues related to India and global development. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/arvind-subramanian-ashoka-university-pb-mehta-7233744/  (18 March 2021)

The hidden pandemic of single-use plastic by Atul Bagai , Jenna Jambeck The pandemic halted and, in some cases, reversed much of this progress. Plastics, especially single-use plastics, became more ubiquitous. Masks, sanitiser bottles, personal protective equipment, food packaging, water bottles: Life came to be ensconced in a plastic shell.

In time, this plastic will disintegrate into tiny particles of less than five millimetres — known as microplastics — and move through water bodies and farm soil to enter the food we eat and the air we breathe. We know that only 9 per cent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled, while 79 per cent of all plastic produced can be found in the world’s landfills and in our air, water, soil, and other natural systems. Plastic doesn’t belong in our bodies and it doesn’t belong in nature. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/covid-19-pandemic-plastic-pollution-7231459/  (17 March 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Uttarakhand पिथौरागढ़ में खिसका ग्लेशियर..10 किलोमीटर इलाके में कई जगह सड़क बंद धारचूला में ग्लेशियर खिसकने से दस किलोमीटर क्षेत्र में जगह-जगह सड़क बंद हो गई है। वाहनों की आवाजाही नहीं हो पा रही। उच्च हिमालयी क्षेत्र में निर्माणाधीन सेला-बॉलिंग मार्ग में हर तरफ बर्फ और मलबा पड़ा है। पंचाचूली गए चार युवकों ने वापस लौटने पर इसका खुलासा किया। ग्लेशियर खिसकने से सीपू-मार्छा को जोड़ने वाला पुल भी बह गया है। सीमा से सटे इस इलाके में सड़क बंद होने से सेना को भी भारी दिक्कतों को सामना करना पड़ रहा है। भारत-चीन सीमा पर तैनात जवानों के लिए आवाजाही करना मुश्किल हो गया है। ग्लेशियर पिघलने से सीपू-मार्छा को जोड़ने वाला पुल भी नहीं बचा, जिस वजह से माइग्रेशन पर जाने वाले लोग परेशान हैं। ग्लेशियर पिघलने से सीपू गांव में भी आवाजाही ठप हो गई है। सीपू गांव दारमा घाटी का आखिरी गांव है। सीपू को मार्छा से जोड़ने वाले रास्ते में एक लकड़ी का पुल हुआ करता था, लेकिन ग्लेशियर खिसकने से ये पुल भी बह गया।  https://www.rajyasameeksha.com/uttarakhand/16260-glacier-slips-in-pithoragarh  (17 March 2021)

Emmanuel Theophilus on FB post comment:- This is not a glacier that has slipped, but avalanche debris that accumulates here and other similar places every winter. This year it would be far less due to less snowfall overall. This is far too early for the yearly transhumant migration; people normally begin going up in May. Since the road has now been constructed, and since there was less snow this winter, people will try to go up there sooner, with motorcycles etc. It is common for them to call avalanche debris, glacier. Just a colloquialism…

SOUTH ASIA

India-China Yarlung Zangbo River HEP nailed with the passing of 14th Five-Year Plan, but won’t be completed soon The proposed Yarlung Zangbo River hydropower project in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region is mentioned in the national development blueprint for the next five years and beyond. The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 were adopted by China’s top legislature on Thursday (March 11, 2021) and published in full on Saturday (March 13). The project will not be completed within the 14th Five-Year Plan period. Moreover, the project will be a sequence of power plant sets and will call for cooperation from different sides.  Qi Zhala, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region and deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress, urged “comprehensive planning and environmental impact assessments” for the project. An article on the POWERCHINA website in February explained that engineers had been conducting site investigation at the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202103/1218241.shtml  (13 March 2021)

Clear danger Somewhat balanced Editorial in Assam Tribune (March 13, 2021) on the Chinese proposal for the Great Band Hydropower project on Yarlung Tsangpo: The danger of such a dam stems not from the fact that it might deplete the water resources of the riparian States of India and Bangladesh. In the Brahmaputra Valley, for example, the main river is fed by dozens of tributaries, some of them even bigger than the Siang-Dihang main-stem. The graver threat stems from the possibility that a dam possessing a reservoir is more often than not compelled to suddenly release over-accumulated water during heavy rains, which can cause devastation in downstream areas, a phenomenon that areas in the Brahmaputra Valley have repeatedly experienced. The Brahmaputra being an international river, the need had always been signing of a water-sharing treaty between China, India and Bangladesh under the aegis of an agency like the United Nations, which might have pre-empted such a threat from Chinese designs on the Brahmaputra!  https://assamtribune.com/clear-danger  (13 March 2021)

The key message possibly comes from author’s quoting Sun Tzu: “All warfare is based on deception.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/chinas-escalating-water-war-on-top-of-other-asymmetric-tactics-brahmaputra-mega-project-is-a-new-threat-india-faces/  (16 March 2021) 

India- Bangladesh Farakka Barrage and  Relations With A Friendly Neighbor by Bharat Dogra:- The Farakka Barrage Project on Ganga river has been often discussed in the context of whether this project has caused any adverse impacts in Bangladesh. Certainly there have been complaints from Bangladesh in this context. So was it a case of India promoting its interests at the cost of Bangladesh? No, there is increasing evidence of this project causing huge problems in India as well. https://countercurrents.org/2021/03/farakka-barrage-and-relations-with-a-friendly-neighbor/  (15 March 2021)

India-Bangladesh Water Resources Secretary Level Meeting Both Sides Agree to Expand Cooperation Across Entire Gamut of Water Resources Issues  PIB PR on March 17 2021: The India-Bangladesh Water Resources Secretary level meeting under the framework of the Joint Rivers Commission took place on 16 March 2021 at New Delhi.The Indian delegation was led by Shri Pankaj Kumar, Secretary (Water Resources, RD &GR). The Bangladesh delegation was led by Mr. Kabir Bin Anwar, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources. Both sides commended the close cooperation that exists between India and Bangladesh in the matter. Both sides agreed to expand cooperation across entire gamut of water resources issues including framework for sharing of river waters, mitigation of pollution, river bank protection, flood management, basin management etc. A Joint Technical Working Group will provide inputs on the matter. Both sides agreed to schedule the next meeting at Secretary level under JRC framework at Dhaka at mutually convenient dates. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1705370  (17 March 2021) https://science.thewire.in/environment/india-bangladesh-to-expand-cooperation-in-river-pollution-mitigation-flood-management/  (17 March 2021)

Commentary A decade when ministers never talked water This March marks completion of a decade in which water ministers of Bangladesh and India never discussed rivers on their common platform, the Joint River Commission (JRC). The last time the two co-riparian South Asian neighbours, who share 54 rivers, held the (36th meeting since 1972) JRC Ministerial Meet was in New Delhi on March 18, 2010. The next meeting was due to be held in Dhaka a year later, but it has still not taken place. Lack of agreement on Teesta water sharing is the main reason for this impasse. All these years, the two countries have held water talks at the technical expert levels and last year at the water secretary-level.

– Ever since the Teesta water sharing move was aborted, both sides have largely failed to advance talks on six other common rivers (Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar) all these years, except for when a technical committee in January this year agreed to exchange data on water flow and water withdrawal. Pending a JRC-level river water sharing arrangement, Bangladesh made a unilateral humanitarian gesture in October, 2019, by allowing India to withdraw 1.82 cusec of water from the Feni River to supply drinking water for the people of Subroom in Tripura State.

– Bangladesh is also facing opposition harnessing Kushiyara water for the benefit of farmers in northeast Bangladesh.

– In Sikkim, where the river originates close to the Indo-Tibet border, there is a mere 2% of the basin population because of the state’s mountainous nature.A further 27% of the basin population is in West Bengal, which comprises of hilly areas as well as plains, while an overwhelming majority of 71% of the basin population lives in northwest Bangladesh.   https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2021/03/14/commentary-a-decade-when-ministers-never-talked-water  (15 March 2021)   

Bangladesh produces 86 pc of global hilsha Bangladesh has produced 86 percent of hilsha in the world, a few years ago, 65 percent hilsha came from Bangladesh, according to the world Fishers Research Organization. In the last 10 years, hilsha production has increased about 79 percent. http://www.dailyindustry.news/bangladesh-produces-86-pc-global-hilsha/  (15 March 2021) 

ASIA

Philippines Stop the Killing of Tumandok Indigenous Leaders On 30 December 2020, just two days before the new year, nine Tumandok indigenous leaders were killed, and 16 more arrested in central Panay, Philippines. This massacre is a tragic mark to the decades-long struggle of the Tumandok indigenous people against the Jalaur River mega dam project.

The Jalaur mega dam is a project financed by the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM). It threatens displace up to 17,000 people. It stands to become the largest dam outside of Luzon. Korean construction firm Daewoo Engineering and Construction is slated to implement the project. Five Tumandok burial grounds and one sacred site would also be destroyed as a result of this colossal dam, as found by a research team from the University of the Philippines – Visayas. https://foeasiapacific.org/2021/03/12/stop-the-killing-of-tumandok-indigenous-leaders-in-the-philippines/  (12 March 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Australia Evacuations ordered in Sydney amid ‘one-in-100-year floods’ Australian city braces for its worst flooding in decades as record rainfall causes its largest dam to overflow.

Dean Storey, assistant commissioner at NSW’s State Emergency Services, said people living in evacuation zones “must leave immediately”. “This is a very serious situation,” he said. “All communities need to be aware of their risk, and plan and prepare accordingly.”

The orders came as the Warragamba Dam, which provides much of the drinking water for Sydney, spilled over on Saturday afternoon, causing water levels to rise along the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers. Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of NSW, called the flooding a “one-in-100-year event”.  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/21/evacuations-ordered-in-sydney-amid-one-in-100-year-floods  (21 March 2021)

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said many of the communities “being battered by the floods” had been affected by bushfires and drought the previous summer. “I don’t know any time in state history where we have had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has said the rainfall – up to 1,000mm in some areas – has been “extraordinary” in the recent days.

The flooding has caused havoc across NSW, forcing 15,000 evacuations on the state’s Mid-North Coast and a further 3,000 in Sydney, officials said. Swollen rivers have cut off roads and bridges and forced about 150 schools to shut on Monday. There have been images of livestock floating through flooded areas and rows of houses engulfed up to their windows.

The Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers – which border Sydney to the north and west – reached higher levels on Monday than during a devastating flood in 1961. Forecasters said the Hawkesbury river could peak at around 13m (42ft) later in the day.

In addition, the Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main water source, has began spilling over for the first time in five years. Authorities said it was discharging about 500 gigalitres a day – equivalent to the volume of Sydney Harbour.

The intense summer of rain and floods in eastern Australia is a stark contrast to a year ago, when many of the same areas were scorched by mammoth bushfires and ravaged by drought. This side of the continent is currently experiencing a La Niña weather pattern, which typically brings more rainfall and tropical cyclones during summer.

Two of Australia’s three wettest years on record have been during La Niña events. Typically a La Niña sees a 20% increase in average rainfall from December to March in eastern Australia. Scientists say that climate change is also intensifying La Niña’s impact, and making weather patterns more erratic. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-56476998  (22 March 2021) 

New South Wales (Australia) Floods: March 21, 2021: It was a day of extreme weather for New South Wales, after heavy rainfall continued to batter the mid-north coast and western Sydney.

The SES issued flood evacuation orders for the western parts of Penrith, western parts of Jamisontown and the northern end of Mulgoa, as flood waters rose to record breaking levels.

The NSW government announced that the disaster recovery assistance scheme has been extended for 18 other LGA’s, after initially announcing it for 16 LGA’s,

Warragamba Dam – Sydney’s main water source – spilled over, causing river levels to rise along the Nepean and Hawkesbury.

A severe weather warning was also issued for the Northern Territory’s typically arid southern regions for heavy rainfall and potential flash flooding.

– A rain gauge at Comboyne, to the southwest of Port Macquarie, has collected another 120mm between 9am and 3pm today. This gauge has now registered a whopping 801mm since 9am on Thursday (less than 4 days). https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2021/mar/21/australia-weather-live-updates-sydney-new-south-wales-nsw-flood-rain-wild-weather-hawkesbury-river-western-sydney  (22 March 2021)

The days of rain has meant Warragamba Dam, the city’s biggest, continues to overflow. Water NSW, which operates the dam, said yesterday that more than 500 gigalitres of water was being released daily.

– Discharging water from Warragamba Dam means it spills into the river systems surrounding Sydney however Water NSW said the dam was not to blame. “Modelling indicates that approximately 1500 GL of water will flow into the dam in the seven days since the extreme weather event commenced, a figure that represents 75 per cent of the dam’s storage capacity of 2000 GL,” Water NSW said in a statement. “Flow data up to (the morning of March 21) indicates that half of the floodwaters in the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system downstream of the dam were from tributary flow, not the dam.” Water NSW explained that, in order for the dam to have had enough capacity to capture all inflows from the rain event, “Warragamba would have needed to be taken down to 25 per cent of storage capacity, prior to the rain event”, a spokesperson said.

– The flooding has hit levels not seen since 1961. “It is one of the biggest floods we are likely to see for a very long time,” Bureau of Meteorology flood operations manager Justin Robinson said. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as torrential rain continues to bucket down.

– The flooding has hit levels not seen since 1961. “It is one of the biggest floods we are likely to see for a very long time,” Bureau of Meteorology flood operations manager Justin Robinson said. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as torrential rain continues to bucket down. https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/nsw-floods-warragamba-dam-spills-equivalent-of-one-sydney-harbour-a-day/news-story/b14a15c56a991ab6c5c1bbbafafd12ca  (22 March 2021)

USA Rivers across the US are losing flow to aquifers The interplay between surface water and groundwater is often overlooked by those who use this vital resource due to the difficulty of studying it. Assistant professors Scott Jasechko and Debra Perrone, of UC Santa Barbara, and their colleagues leveraged their enormous database of groundwater measurements to investigate the interaction between these related resources. Their results, published in Nature, indicate that many more rivers across the United States may be leaking water into the ground than previously realized.

In many places surface waters and groundwaters connect, while in others they’re separated by impermeable rock layers. It depends on the underlying geology. But where they do intermingle, water can transition between flowing above and below ground.

“Gaining rivers” receive water from the surrounding groundwater, while “losing rivers” seep into the underlying aquifer. Scientists didn’t have a good understanding of the prevalence of each of these conditions on a continental scale. Simply put, no one had previously stitched together so many measurements of groundwater, explained Jasechko, the study’s co-lead author. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210317141648.htm  (17 March 2021)

25 years of damaging floods  Photos of the worst flooding events of the past 25 years in the United States. Each one cost more than $1 billion.

A home floats through the town of Cuero, Texas, as floodwaters from the Guadalupe River rose on Oct. 19, 1998. The swift-moving current carried away entire homes as severe flooding hit southeast Texas from two heavy rain events, with 10- to 20-inch rainfall totals. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

These include: Midwest flooding, March 2019, Mississippi River, 2019, Arkansas River flooding, 2019, California flooding, February 2017, Midwest flooding, May 2017, Louisiana flooding, August 2016, Houston flooding, April 2016, West Virginia flooding, June 2016, Texas and Louisiana flooding, March 2016, South Carolina and East Coast flooding, October 2015, Colorado flooding, September 2013, Illinois flooding, April 2013, Michigan and Northeast flooding, August 2014, Texas and Oklahoma flooding, May 2015, Upper Midwest flooding, May-June 2011, Mississippi River flooding, April-May 2011, Mississippi River flooding, April-May 2011, Northeast flooding, March 2010, Midwest flooding, summer 2008, Northeast flooding, June 2006, Texas flooding, October 1998, Northern Plains flooding, spring 1997, West Coast flooding, December 1996-January 1997, Pacific Northwest flooding, February 1996, South Florida flooding, October 2000.  https://buffalonews.com/news/national/photos-25-years-of-damaging-floods-in-the-us/collection_051bac0e-8c61-5864-96c1-acf9dc19fd13.html  (18 March 2021)

Colorado River Futures – “Climate & the River” Edition In this, our “Climate & the River” edition, we’ll highlight findings from the study that underscore how important it is that, as we look to the future, we model future hydrology not only by understanding the past, but by looking ahead to the impacts of back-to-back and longer-term droughts paired with warming temperatures that precipitate aridification. As climate scientist Brad Udall likes to say, it’s a “hot drought,” where warmer temperatures are leading to less water in the river, even if precipitation is actually remaining roughly the same.  https://www.americanrivers.org/2021/02/colorado-river-futures-climate-the-river-edition/  (22 Feb. 2021)

New Zealand Troubled waters Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government has renewed its promise to clean up the waterways but is facing pushback from one of the country’s biggest polluters — the powerful dairy industry. New Zealand’s pollution problem is pitting two of the country’s most valuable assets against each other: its global reputation as an unspoilt wilderness and its most lucrative export — dairy.

And now Ngāi Tahu, New Zealand’s wealthiest Māori tribe, is launching an unprecedented legal case seeking “rangatiratanga”, or chieftainship, over most of the South Island’s freshwater, a move that could reset who has authority over the country’s waterways. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-16/new-zealand-rivers-pollution-100-per-cent-pure/13236174  (16 March 2021)

Research Meandering rivers create ‘counter-point bars’ no matter underlying geology  The finding suggests that counter-point bars—and the unique geology and ecology associated with them—are more common than previously thought.

Satellite images of the Mamoré River colored to illustrate changes in flow path and sediment deposition as point bars (red) and counter-point bars (blue). From 2005-2010, the river (dark blue) undergoes a neck cutoff (light blue). This change in flow path causes small and highly curved bends to form (bends 1 and 2). Counter point bars form behind the bend 2 as it migrates downstream. Credit: Sylvester et al.

Building awareness around that fact can help geoscientists be on the lookout for counter-point bars in geological formations deposited by rivers in the past, and understand how they may be influencing the flow of hydrocarbons and water passing though them. The research was published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin on March 12. https://phys.org/news/2021-03-meandering-rivers-counter-point-bars-underlying.html  (16 March 2021)

Report Polluted waters around the world seen from the sky 

In the run-up to the UN’s World Water Day on March 22, Reuters photographers used drones to capture dramatic pictures and video of polluted waterways around the world. https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/sci-tech/2021-03-21-watch-polluted-waters-around-the-world-seen-from-the-sky/  (21 March 2021)

Compiled by SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 15 March 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 08 March 2021

Follow us on: www.facebook.com/sandrp.in; https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers      

5 thoughts on “DRP NB 22 March 2021: PM presiding over proposal for destruction of 46 lakh trees, Bundelkhand & Panna Tiger Reserve on World Water Day?

  1. Well, for some leaders, even uprooting 46 lakh people doesn’t matter, for their high ambition, let alone 46 lakh trees.
    When they say WB will have “poribartan” and “vikas” I wonder whether people there understand whose poribartan and vikas are talked about. Because we in the rest of the part are already watching it.

    Like

  2. “Indian government can now clear one more kind of mining project without consulting the public” in today’s scroll.in

    Looks like they have decided to go ahead in the name of development without consideration of conservation of any of forest, wildlife, minerals and water.

    Like

  3. Dr. Sandeep Pandey has posted a video msg on YT about the two Sadhu s in Matrisadan Haridwar fasting against sand mining in the Ganges. He asked for people to join the Matrisadan seers on 3rd April.
    If I had the opportunity to do the same, I would have gone there myself.
    Youth in Uttarakhand who visit this page, can please share this msg among their friends and visit the ashram(on 3/4/21) to show their solidarity for those who are fighting for the people.
    Thank you.

    Like

  4. I think whenever we criticise Modi Govt’s destructive policies, his ministry/policymakers get an extra boost of following their acts with more stubbornness.
    As if we are all foolish people and they are the only one to have all the required knowledge. It’s so terrible idea.
    Instead, they could have taken constructive criticism on their side and act on it so to better govern our country. Everytime, they are doing exactly the opposite.

    Like

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