DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 29 March 2021: Better options exist to resolve water scarcity

Even as a strong voice of dissent rises from Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere against the fresh push for destructive Ken Betwa Project, this week there is interesting news from across India that reinforces the message that real solutions to Bundelkhand water scarcity not only exist, but they are far less destructive, cheaper, faster and more sustainable even in climate change context. This includes the report from CSE about the success of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Authority) scheme as “the world’s largest climate change adaptation scheme” particularly for water havesting and water conservation. Similar stories also come from Bundelkhand and elsewhere.

If only the eyes, ears and minds of the decision makers were open and they had any fear of being held accountable for such mindless decisions.

WATER OPTIONS

MGNREGA: Water harvesting, conservation structures starting to pay off  Workers must be allowed to participate in the actual planning exercises of the Gram Sabha, say beneficiaries. “The MGNREGA is not simply a social security scheme to generate employment for the rural poor. It may also be the world’s largest climate change adaptation scheme,” said CSE director Sunita Narain.

– Over the last 15 years, three crore assets related to water-conservation have been created through the rural jobs scheme with the potential to conserve more than 2,800 crore cubic metres of water. On the ground, this has transformed the fate of some villages.

– In Palakkad district of Kerala, women workers have managed to revive streams and rivers in the water-scarce village of Pookkottukavu, which gets only 2300 mm of annual rainfall. With hundreds of water harvesting structures being built under the MGNREGA scheme, 200 wells are now planned to make the village water-surplus.

– In Vasna village of Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district, migration has reduced by 40% because of the extensive irrigation system created through small dams constructed under the programme. “Earlier, the village was completely rain-dependent, but now the ponds and tanks provide surface water for 10 months of the year. Farming is back as the main occupation, and annual family savings are up to ₹2 lakh, preventing the need for migration,” said Ms. Narain. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mgnrega-water-harvesting-conservation-structures-starting-to-pay-off/article34136368.ece  (23 March 2021)

MGNREGA’s role in saving water In the last 15 years, DTE notes, 30 million water conservation-related works — that translates to 50 works/village — have been undertaken through MGNREGA, creating a water conservation potential of close to 29,000 million cubic metres of water. For perspective, that is nearly 17% of the capacity of the 123 reservoirs that are monitored for storage by the Central Water Commission.

DTE reports several benefits from MGNREGA water projects for villagers in 16 villages in 15 districts across India. While Bandlapalli in Ananthapuramu district of Andhra Pradesh — the first village in India where MGNREGA was implemented — saw recurring drought and large-scale migration in 2006, in 2021, it has 900-plus water harvesting structures.

The water-harvesting capacity helped it become drought-proof; in 2018-19, when the district reported the lowest rainfall in a century, the village was not impacted. Water harvesting has also helped many villagers to transition into cultivation of cash crops and dairy farming, and has caused a significant reduction in migration. Similarly, Barmani in Madhya Pradesh’s Sidhi district, DTE reports, was virtually abandoned because of distress migration in 2006, but by 2021, it had 7 big ponds and 39 wells that had perennial water availability. https://www.financialexpress.com/economy/on-world-water-day-celebrate-mgnregas-role-in-saving-water/2218072/  (23 March 2021)

Media report on World Water Day 2021 about successful water conservation efforts by Umashankar Pandey and Jakhani villagers in Banda, Bundelkhand.

Editorial Ensuring Water Security This is based on Down to Earth report on the exemplary use of MGNREGA funds for rainwater harvesting and water conservation by 15 villages — the jal yodhas (water warriors) — across the country since 2006 is illuminating. It shines light on how to stop large tracts of fertile land from turning into barren wasteland.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/ensuring-water-security-229074  (23 April 2021)

Bundelkhand Some water options in Bundelkhand:- तालाबों से आज भी बुझ रही पन्नावासियों की प्यास https://pannastories.blogspot.com/2021/03/blog-post_25.html  (25 March 2021)

Tamil Nadu Centuries-old system can teach how to save water  A13th century stone edict, found inside the Perur Patteeswarar temple near Coimbatore, describes the creation of a nearby lake and lays down rules for a water-sharing arrangement between upstream and downstream regions along the Noyyal river. Starting as early as 8th century, the Chola kings and farmers in the region masterfully developed an interconnected system of Anaicuts  (check dams), canals and natural and manmade lakes to ensure that the river water was managed efficiently. The system mimicked the natural rhythms of the seasonal river flows and was built keeping in mind the contours of the land. Unfortunately, this traditional nature-based solution fell into disuse as the region rapidly urbanised and water management of the area changed hands.

The Noyyal water system | Sanket Bhale

Across India, there are similar traditional water management systems that provide invaluable ecosystem services to us. The East Kolkata Wetland complex, spread over 12,500 hectares, treats almost all of Kolkata city’s sewage and supports livelihood for 20,000 families through agriculture and fisheries. Water diversion from Ajan bund in Rajasthan, created in the 17thcentury by Maharaja Suraj Mal into a natural depression in the land, is today the famous UNESCO world heritage site of Keoladeo (Bharatpur) national park. The Yeri (earthen bund) system of agricultural water management, seen across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, has been enabling cultivation in dry plains for at least a millennium.  https://theprint.in/opinion/this-centuries-old-system-in-tamil-nadu-can-teach-india-how-to-save-water-again/624887/  (21 March 2021)

Maharashtra Drought-prone village in became water-sufficient Prosperity has come to Kadawanchi village in Marathwada in a big way, thanks to watershed management. Its annual income has shot up from Rs 74 lakh in 2000 to a whopping Rs 72 crore in 2019! https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/how-this-drought-prone-village-in-maharashtra-became-water-sufficient-6696561.html  (26 March 2021)

Uttarakhand IAS officer Mayur Dikshit goes all-out to revive water bodies. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2021/mar/21/uttarakhand-ias-officer-mayur-dikshit-goesall-out-to-revive-water-bodies-2279350.html  (21 March 2021)

Unverified claims by DS group on water conservation: https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/ds-groups-noble-water-conservation-initiatives-emphasize-on-valuing-water-the-theme-of-world-water-day-2021/2051211  (22 March 2021) 

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Link There is  no achievement in speeding up a dubious project which will destroy over 2 million trees in drought-prone areas by Bharat Dogra. https://countercurrents.org/2021/03/ken-betwa-link-there-is-no-achievement-in-speeding-up-a-dubious-project-which-will-destroy-over-2-million-trees-in-drought-prone-areas/  (23 March 2021)

Ken-Betwa Project: Dam of Doom for Panna Tiger Reserve https://www.thewildlifeindia.com/2021/03/Ken-Betwa-Project-Dam-of-Doom-for-Panna-Tiger-Reserve.html  (23 March 2021)

Environmentalists said that the project is going to “affect adversely” Panna tiger reserve. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP said, “The project has been promoted as a solution to the drought prone region of Bundelkhand. However, the detailed project report said that the Ken water will be sent to the Upper Betwa basin which is outside Bundelkhand.” He said that Panna tiger reserve would witness a massive destruction after felling over 46 lakh trees, submergence of 9000 hectares forest land and disconnection of over 10000 hectares of land completely.  https://m.timesofindia.com/india/mp-up-sign-controversial-ken-betwa-river-linking-project-panna-tiger-reserve-to-be-affected/amp_articleshow/81638181.cms  (22 March 2021)

Himanshu Thakkar, convenor of SANDRP, says, “It is a Rs. 38,000 crore proposition and is being executed to service the existing political economy of money that is the leitmotif of the present dispensation.” When asked what justifies the project, he says, “On paper, sadly, one can justify anything.” Thakkar cites a report of the state Forest Advisory Committee, which estimates 4.6 million trees would have to be chopped for the project. Yet, scarcity of water would only increase in the water-deprived region. https://www.newsclick.in/Ken-Betwa-Link-will-Destroy-Panna-Tiger-Sanctuary  (25 March 2021)

Several committees, including the Supreme Court-appointed panel, have raised doubts about the project. Environmental activists say that the project will be very harmful to the Panna Tiger reserve, which is located in Madhya Pradesh and is home to more than 52 tigers and endangered vulture species like the white-rumped vulture. Himanshu Thakkar, convenor of SANDRP said that the decision to interlink the rivers was “very unfortunate” and cited a report of the forest advisory committee which said that an estimated 4.6 million trees will be cut down for the project which will adversely affect the rain in the already dry Bundelkhand region. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/explained-ken-betwa-river-interlinking-project-and-environmental-concerns-101616479775802.html  (23 March 2021)

TOI report here is giving misleading, inaccurate and incomplete information. It says 4000 ha of Panna Tiger Reserve will be submerged, when they should know that some 9000 ha will be submerged and another 10 000 ha will be cut off. They should have also stated that the stage I forest clearance conditions are not implementable for the project in current form and that the CEC has questioned the Wildlife clearance and Env Clearance stands challenged before the NGT. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/up-mp-ink-ken-betwa-pactto-drench-parched-bkhand/articleshow/81640148.cms  (23 March 2021)

Media reports on questions and impact of Ken Betwa Linking during the week after the UP and MP states have signed the pact.

India today acknowledges that issues remain, though does not give all the figures and facts. https://www.indiatoday.in/india-today-insight/story/ken-betwa-river-link-mou-inked-but-issues-remain-to-be-addressed-1783237-2021-03-24  (24 March 2021)

Indian Express Editorial on March 25, 2021 on Ken Betwa: While it asks UP and MP to revisit the CEC report, it does not highlight all the key issues. Strangely, it quotes the most discredited document: the EIA! https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/uttar-pradesh-madhya-pradesh-ken-betwa-link-pact-signed-7243697/  (25 March 2021)

The controversy over the river-linking project is not new; it’s a part of a larger development versus ecology debate that India faces with every big project. But in an era of climate crisis, which has a multi-sectoral impact, addressing ecological concerns is crucial and ensure long-term safety and benefits. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/the-ecological-concerns-around-river-linking-projects-101616681844091.html  (25 March 2021)

Understanding the KBL the chronology. (Indian Wire)

If alternatives are available for a project that is less boisterous but holds greater concerns within its soul, how much feasible is it to continue fetching such a far-fetched dream. Afterall, Development and Environment are coterminous to each other and not contradictory for Sustainable development is the very heart and soul of larger public welfare. https://www.theindianwire.com/environment/ken-betwa-link-project-a-light-in-the-dark-or-a-threat-to-the-nature-308845/  (28 March 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Uttarakhand Vishnugad HEP resumes ops “The company is pleased to announce that after carrying out extensive cleaning of the tail race tunnel of the project and other associated systems and thorough checking of all elements of the project, we have resumed operations at 400 MW Vishnuprayag HEP on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri on 11th March 2021 at 3:00 pm,” Jaiprakash Power Ventures said in a statement on March 12, 2021. The project operations stopped during the Chamoli disaster o  Feb 7, 2021. https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/jaiprakashs-hydropower-project-resumes-ops-post-uttarakhand-tragedy-11615538276566.html  (12 March 2021)

Expert panels leave for Raini The panels formed by the National Disaster Management Authority will stay at Raini village for a week and study different aspects of the disaster. Two expert teams set out for Raini village Chamoli district on Thursday to examine the causes and assess the effects of the February 7 flash floods. One panel will examine the possible causes of the flash floods upstream of the Rishiganga and the Dhauliganga rivers, and the other will assess the impact downstream, official sources here said. Minister of state for Disaster Management Dhan Singh Rawat held a meeting with the expert panels on Wednesday. They will submit their reports to the Centre and the state government, recommending a strategy to prevent a reoccurrence of such disasters.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/mar/25/expert-panels-leave-for-uttarakhands-raini-to-examine-causes-ofglacial-disaster-2281577.html  (25 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Increasing Concerns Over Dam Construction by Bharat Dogra. https://countercurrents.org/2021/03/increasing-concerns-over-dam-construction-in-himachal-pradesh/  (23 March 2021)

Bihar CM’s comment on Dagmara HEP uninformed One expected Nitish Kumar to be better informed than this: The hydro is no longer economically viable or, best option or cheapest option. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/dagmara-hydro-power-project-will-provide-low-cost-electricity-to-bihar-says-cm-nitish-kumar/81477672  (13 March 2021)

Report Power generators can exit loss making contracts with states Power generators can exit loss making contracts with states. The government has given freedom to the central sector power producers such as NTPC, NHPC and SJVN to sell power relinquished by state discoms to new buyers under long or short term contracts or place the surplus power on exchanges for discovery of price in the day ahead, term ahead and real time markets.

Total dues owed by electricity distribution companies to power producers have risen sharply to reach closer to Rs 1.40 lakh crore now, reflecting deep stress in the sector.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/oil-and-gas/power-generators-can-exit-loss-making-contracts-with-states/81684034  (25 March 2021)

DAMS

Polavaram Dam Govt short-change affected Residents of several villages near the under-construction multi-purpose irrigation project have allegedly been forced to move to resettlement colonies that are yet to get drinking water supply, street lights and roads. https://www.newsclick.in/are-polavaram-affected-tribal-communities-short-changed-govt-their-land  (21 March 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Tender issued for upper Narmada project The Narmada Valley Development Authority has floated tender for construction of Upper Narmada project. The scope of work includes dam and 45,600 ha CCA micro irrigation system up to 2.5 ha chak of 0.35 lps/ha in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh and Anuppur. Cost of the project is Rs 983.8 crore. https://www.constructionweekonline.in/projects-tenders/17038-tender-issued-for-upper-narmada-project  (24 March 2021)

Telangana New dam across Manair Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar laid the foundation stone on Thursday (Feb. 11) for a new check dam that will be constructed across the Manair river with an estimated cost of Rs 7.45 crore near Prakashnagar Bridge in Khammam town. The dam will ensure the supply of irrigation water to around 300 acres of agricultural land. Ajay Kumar said that the 200-metre-long and 3-metre-tall dam will also improve groundwater level in the area. “In future, we will also be able to supply potable water to several households,” he said.

The Minister also asked the Irrigation Department officials to increase the dam height to six metres in the future so that the tourism-related activities can be taken up at the location. The State plans to create boating as well as few water sports facilities in the area. The State is also planning to construct banks on both sides of the river, from Prakashnagar to NSP canal, to protect the villages from possible inundation. The Irrigation Department is also planning to set up a water treatment plant in the locality.   https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/feb/12/new-dam-across-manair-to-aid-300-acres-of-farm-land-2262992.html  (12 Feb. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh CM inaugurates Rasin & Chillimal Dam CM Yogi Adityanath inaugurated Rasin Dam and Chillimal Dam in Chitrakoot on March 10. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/yogi-adityanath-inaugurates-rasin-dam-and-chillimal-dam-in-chitrakoot-up/videoshow/81431768.cms  (10 March 2021) 

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Telangana-Andhra Pradesh KCR opposes Rayalaseema LIP CM K. Chandrashekar Rao came down heavily on the AP government for taking up work on the Rayalaseema lift irrigation scheme (RLIS) and Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme (RDS) works in violation of norms. The CM told the Assembly on Friday (March 26) that Telangana state “will go to any extent” to stop these projects and reiterated that he will not compromise on the interests of Telangana, “come what may.” He said the AP government had not responded to his friendly gesture of mutually sharing the Godavari river as the water in the Krishna at the Srisailam dam was not adequate.

“The Telangana government has filed cases against the AP government in Supreme Court and the NGT and secured stay orders. Despite this, AP is attempting to go ahead with the works and we will not sit quiet,” Rao said. He said great injustice had been done to the Telangana region in undivided Andhra Pradesh regime in terms of river water sharing. “Even after bifurcation, if AP behaves irresponsibly and tries to divert Krishna waters in violation of norms, we will not tolerate it,” Rao said. The CM added that he will talk to the Karnataka government on the RDS project and take all measures to utilise 15.9 tmc ft share of Telangana completely.  https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/260321/will-go-to-any-extent-to-stop-rlis-rds-kcr.html  (27 March 2021)

‘AP has made huge investment on Pattiseema project’ The expert witness appearing for Telangana before the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT-II) in the ongoing hearing for re-allocation of water between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Ghanshyam Jha, has submitted that Andhra Pradesh has made huge investment on Pattiseema lift and drawing over 100 tmc ft of water every year and the facts establish the apprehension that it is permanent. Pattaiseema lift was taken up by the Andhra Pradesh Government in 2015, completed in 2016 and functioning from 2017 Kharif season “with an objective to supplement water to the Krishna Delta and the upland areas of Krishna and West Godavari district till the completion of Polavaram project (its right canal)”. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/andhra-pradesh-has-made-huge-investment-on-pattiseema-project/article34120266.ece  (20 March 2021)

Odisha-Chhattisgarh Mahanadi flow into Hirakud reducing The flow of Mahanadi river water into Hirakud dam project has gone down considerably in recent years due to construction of barrages and dams at the upper end of the river by Chhattisgarh government. This was admitted by Minister of State for Water Resources Raghunandan Das while replying to a question from Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati in the Assembly on Thursday (March 25).

The Minister said that while flow of water during the non-monsoon period decreased by 30 per cent in 2019-20, in 2018-19, the flow into the dam came down by 57 per cent. The flow of water into the dam during the non-monsoon period in 2016-17 and 2017-18 was 65 per cent and 61 per cent respectively, he said.

The Minister said reduced flow of water into the Hirakud dam has affected power generation and other uses of Mahanadi water. In a written reply to a question from Nauri Nayak (BJP), the Minister said reduced flow of water in rivers emerging from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and entering Odisha is not expected to give rise drought in the State.

Replying to a question from Mohan Majhi (BJP), the Minister said the government has completed seven major and medium irrigation projects, 119 mega lift irrigation projects, 82 minor irrigation projects and 15795 embankments since 2009-10 to store Mahanadi water.  The Minister said the government has already prepared a blue print keeping in view the requirement of water for different sectors for the next 50 years.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/mar/26/mahanadi-flow-into-hirakud-reducing-2281811.html  (26 March 2021)

IRRIGATION

Uttar Pradesh Any disruptions to irrigation water supply amounts to violation of right to trade under article 19: HC  The Allahabad High Court has held that discontinuation of electricity supply which in turn results in interrupted supply of water to agricultural fields is a violation of the fundamental right to trade and profession of the agriculturalists. The observation was recently made by a Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery, while deciding a PIL seeking restoration of electricity at a Tubewell that is used in all nearby agricultural fields for irrigation. The Petitioners in this case had argued that such unauthorized discontinuation of electricity was adversely affecting distribution of water and ultimately the agricultural production.

“We are of considered opinion that in command area any eventuality that adversely affects the supply of water to the agricultural fields virtually amounts to the violation of Article 19 of the Constitution of India as that affects business and profession of the agriculturists,” the Bench observed at the outset. It further directed the concerned Government agencies to see that the tube-wells situated in command area remain operational and regular maintenance and supply of electricity for proper distribution of water is ensured. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/any-eventuality-that-interrupts-supply-of-water-to-agricultural-fields-amounts-to-violation-of-right-to-trade-under-article-19-allahabad-high-court-171758  (26 March 2021)

Rajasthan Govt seeks Central assistance for water projects  The government has sought Centre’s financial assistance for the ongoing water projects and reiterated its demand for the national project status for the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP), which will supply drinking and irrigation waters to 13 districts.

Mr. Kalla was replying to the debate on budgetary demands for Public Health Engineering Department, which deals with water supply in the State. The Minister said the Centre’s share in the Jal Jeevan Mission should be enhanced to 90% and steps be taken for bringing the State’s full share in the Yamuna waters from neighbouring Haryana. The demands worth ₹8,336.74 crore were passed in the House by voice vote after the debate.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-seeks-central-assistance-for-water-projects/article34009021.ece  (07 March 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

SANDRP Blog A Spring in a City: Struggle to save a tiny spring is a touchstone of our priorities  What is the value of a living spring in a water-stressed city? How does one go about protecting urban water bodies? Do Municipal Corporations care more about land developers than waterbodies? In this chaos, stories of hope, perseverance and struggle keep us going. Here is a story of Shailendra Patel from Pune and how he kept a tiny, precious spring alive. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/22/spring-in-a-city-struggle-to-save-a-tiny-spring-is-a-touchstone-of-our-priorities/  (20 March 2021)

Sabarmati; Ahmedabad Riverfront’s stagnant waterpool; ignores city’s climate, culture French-American architect, educator and urban planner (born 1931) Prof Bernard Kohn critiques the current Sabarmati River Front Development project: “Obviously, the idea of an edge-to-edge “lake-like” but basically stagnant water body is in complete contradiction with the climate and the cultural habits of the inhabitants of a city of now more than seven million, be it in India with its extreme climate conditions, or for that matter, anywhere else. The original 1960s proposal of large platforms, stepping down, to a small but variable height and width water body, as opposed to the now constructed walls, would have made, had it been adopted, the discarding of refuse, sewage, industrial wastes and other effluents directly into the river totally impossible. We must totally rethink the Ahmedabad Sabarmati river stretch in terms of its place within a project for the entire river basin as an ecological valley, from its source to the sea, and as an agricultural and environmental entity.”  https://www.counterview.net/2021/03/sabarmati-riverfronts-lake-like.html  (22 March 2021)

RIVERS

IRF Prof. Brij Gopal Memorial River Lecture by Prof. Somnath Bandyopadhyay, Nalanda University on floods, floodplains and wetlands. https://www.facebook.com/IndiaRiversForum/videos/434889864432970/   (22 March 2021)

Opinion Water, the looming frontier by Vikram Soni There are two unpolluted fresh water sources left in the country. The first is the water lying below our forests; the second is the aquifers that lie below the floodplains of rivers. Both these sources provide natural underground storage and are renewable – the rains provide natural recharge year after year and it is this recharge which can be used to water our cities and towns. There is one sacred conservation condition: we should use only a fraction of the annual recharge.

Forests and floodplains must be declared as water sanctuaries. Such schemes work with nature rather than against it. They can be used around the globe. It is important to remember that these evolutionary resources, once lost, will be lost forever. It is time we understood this is natural infrastructure bequeathed to us by nature. If we don’t realise this, it will only be our loss. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/water-the-looming-frontier/article34154012.ece  (25 March 2021)

West Bengal Experts slam BJP’s manifesto proposal to transfer water from south to north Bengal Environmentalists and river experts have criticised the BJP’s election manifesto proposal to take water from three rivers in south Bengal to the northern part of the poll-bound state. Experts said the proposal lacked justification. They said it did not even fall within the BJP’s much-vaunted inter-linking of rivers scheme that had been criticised by green activists in the first place.

Union home minister Amit Shah releasing the BJP manifesto for West Bengal in Kolkata. Photo: Twitter account of Sunil Deodhar National Secretary, BJP (DTE)

All three rivers mentioned in the proposal — Bhairab, Sialmari, Jalangi — are part of the Ganga basin and are located on the right bank of Ganga, ie opposite to the north Bengal side. Bhairab and Sialmari merge with the Jalangi in the Murshidabad district, which, in turn, joins the Hoogly branch of the Ganga. The BJP, in its manifesto released by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, committed to spend Rs 2,000 crore to create the ‘North Bengal Command Area’ project by upgrading the existing irrigation network and constructing new canals and taking water from the Bhairab, Sialmari and Jalangi.

“The proposal lacks logic and justification. Firstly, all these are distributaries of the Ganga and flow southwards. It is not possible to comprehend how water from these will be transferred to create a command area in north Bengal,” Kalyan Rudra, river expert and chairman of the West State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) said. Rudra further said the three rivers were now moribund. He added that north Bengal, through its rainfall and transboundary river flow, had ample opportunity to create its own enhanced irrigation command area, rather than making an impossible effort to take water from the south.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/experts-slam-bjp-s-manifesto-proposal-to-transfer-water-from-south-to-north-bengal-76170  (26 March 2021)

Chhattisgarh केलो नदी को प्रदूषण मुक्त करने की तैयारी 67 करोड़ का नया सीवरेज प्लान https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjsdroCNRtA  (06 Jan. 2021) Impact of Pollution on Kelo River of Raigarh District https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214785320353736  खारुन नदी को रायपुर का लाइफ लाइन माना जाता है. लेकिन लाखों की प्यास बुझाने वाली ये जीवनदायिनी नदी धीरे-धीरे जहरीली होती जा रही है. उद्योगों से निकलने वाला पानी खारुन नदी में मिल रहा है. नदी में प्रदूषण का स्तर तेजी से बढ़ता जा रहा है. अगर जल्द इसके कम करने को लेकर काम शुरु नहीं किया गया तो काफी बड़ा नुकसान झेलना पड़ सकता है. https://hindi.news18.com/news/chhattisgarh/raipur-life-line-of-raipur-kharun-rive-of-raipur-is-becoming-toxic-if-pollution-is-not-stopped-can-create-big-problem-chhss-cgpg-2895151.html  (26 Feb. 2020)

Gujarat NGT roots for data transparency in environmental governance Earlier this month, the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), headed by Justice K. Ramakrishnan and expert member Saibal Dasgupta admitted a petition on the non-compliance of the Supreme Court’s (SC) industrial emission data transparency directive of 2017 (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti v. Union of India). Among other asks, the application to the tribunal sought the implementation of the SC’s directives to install easily accessible and effective online continuous emissions monitoring systems (OCEMS) for industrial facilities.

While admitting the petition, the tribunal directed the concerned state pollution control boards and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to “prepare a chart regarding the status of implementation of the directions issued by the SC in the respective States and if it is not complied with what is the nature of action taken by them for implementing the same in its letter and spirit in these States as directed by the SC.” https://science.thewire.in/environment/national-green-tribunal-roots-for-data-transparency-in-environmental-governance/  (29 March 2021)

Cauvery Calling Case Sadhgurus Isha Outreach Moves SC Against Karnataka High Court Order. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/cauvery-calling-case-sadhgurus-isha-outreach-moves-supreme-court-against-karnataka-high-court-order-171656  (24 March 2021)

GANGA Search for 3rd water stream between Ganga & Yamuna A team of scientists from National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, is partnering with a team from Denmark in the search for a third water stream between rivers Ganga and Yamuna from Kaushambi to Kanpur. The survey is being conducted using high precision gadgets like the Transient Electromagnetic System.

A similar survey by the team in 2018 had detected a third paleochannel beneath the surface from Prayagraj to Manjhanpur between the Ganga and Yamuna. The scientists from NGRI and Denmark are tracing the real identity of this water stream and new paths of water conservation. The survey is being carried out by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under the Namami Gange project.

In the previous survey, a 14 kilometre long and five kilometre wide water stream was found between Prayagraj to Kaushambi. The water stream is extinct now, but the survey found evidence of its existence many years ago. This time, the scientists are conducting an aerial survey from Kaushambi (Manjhanpur) to Kanpur.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/search-for-3rd-water-stream-between-ganga-yamuna/articleshow/81516953.cms  (16 March 2021)

Survey paints dry picture of govt’s waterbodies in Ganga basin More than one-fourth of government-owned waterbodies in the Ganga basin across five states are dried up, show preliminary findings of the census survey of ponds, tanks and lakes in the river basin. The census is being conducted by the Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body set up by the ministry of commerce and industry with the objective of 100% mapping of all such waterbodies in Ganga districts for their improvement or rejuvenation.

The QCI has, so far, assessed 578 waterbodies, covering all 329 in UP. A total of 411 out of 578 surveyed bodies are surrounded by settlements. The survey, being done under the Centre’s ‘Namami Gange’ programme, is not yet completed in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/the-good-earth/survey-paints-dry-picture-of-govts-waterbodies-in-ganga/articleshow/81728644.cms  (28 March 2021)

ToI Infograph

Uttar Pradesh Varanasi was supposed to be zero sewer discharge by November 2019 “Work on 50 MLD sewage treatment plant at Ramana is nearing completion. By November this year, it is expected to be fully operational for treating discharge of Assi Nala. With this, flow of untreated sewer water from Varanasi city into the Ganga will be completely checked,” said NMCG officials.

The city currently generates about 300 MLD sewer water. The existing treatment capacity has been boosted with the inauguration of 140 MLD STP at Deenapur last year by the prime minister. The existing gap of around 50 MLD will be filled with the operationalisation of Ramana STP, said officials of UP Jal Nigam, which is executing the project.

Another 120 MLD treatment plant at Goitha is undergoing trials which will increase sewage treatment capacity to 412 MLD. The sewage generation is expected to increase up to 400 MLD by 2035, said NMCG officials.

Projects for regular cleaning of 84 ghats at the cost of Rs 15 crore and river surface skimming to remove floating garbage, with Rs 2.48 crore expenditure, have been operationalised in the city.

The NMCG has sanctioned Rs 11.73 crore for repair of 36 ghats which is expected to complete by June. A total of 13 projects worth Rs 913 crore have been sanctioned for Varanasi under Namami Gange programme. Additionally, sewerage projects worth Rs 703.14 crore have been taken under JNNURM and AMRUT schemes, officials said. https://www.news18.com/news/india/three-decades-after-announcement-of-ganga-action-plan-varanasi-set-to-have-zero-sewer-discharge-by-november-2023693.html  (03 Feb. 2019)

YAMUNA Delhi River gets no fresh water except during monsoon Yamuna River has almost no fresh water downstream of Wazirabad barrage in Delhi except (during the) monsoon season. As per Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) report of January 2021, estimated sewage generation in Delhi is about 3,273 MLD while installed sewage treatment capacity is about 2,715 MLD, out of which about 2,432 MLD sewage is being treated in Delhi. Thus, about 941 MLD of sewage is finding its way in (the) river through various drains,” data from the Ministry of Jal Shakti says.

It also said that 13 Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) of 212 MLD capacity exist for 17 industrial clusters in Delhi and as per report, “all these CETPs are non-compliant”.

The Ministry said that under the Namami Gange Programme, a total of 13 projects have been taken up in the city with a sanctioned cost of Rs 2,419 crore to abate the pollution in river Yamuna. “These projects are at various stages of implementation. Through these projects, a total of 1,384.5 MLD sewage treatment capacities will be created in Delhi.” https://www.news18.com/news/india/world-water-day-yamuna-in-delhi-gets-no-fresh-water-except-during-monsoon-3562358.html  (22 March 2021)

River of dreams The Yamuna may be a sewage channel in Delhi. However, as one photographer found out, it transforms into an ethereal wonderland in winter. https://lifestyle.livemint.com/news/big-story/yamuna-the-river-of-dreams-111615547656139.html  (12 March 2021)

यमुना रिवर फ्रंट: डीडीए ने शुरू किया काम साबरमती रिवर फ्रंट और लखनऊ के गोमती रिवर फ्रंट की तर्ज पर दिल्ली में भी यमुना रिवर फ्रंट बनाया जाएगा। डीडीए ने उत्तरी-पूर्वी दिल्ली में यमुना तट पर रिवर फ्रंट के निर्माण स्थल पर काम शुरू कर दिया है। डीडीए की ओर से 74 करोड़ रुपये का फंड आवंटित कर दिया गया है। पहले चरण में 34 करोड़ रुपये का काम उत्तर-पूर्वी दिल्ली में शास्त्री पार्क पुस्ते से सिग्नेचर ब्रिज के बीच किया जाएगा।

वजीराबाद से ओखला तक रिवर फ्रंट विकसित करने की योजना है। ओखला स्थित बांध को पुनर्विकसित कर ऊंचा किया जाएगा। वजीराबाद बांध से पानी छोड़ा जाएगा और ओखला बांध से रोका जाएगा, जिससे यमुना की धारा चौड़ी हो जाएगी और पर्याप्त पानी रहेगा। यमुना के किनारों पर 16-16 लेन का पथ बनेगा। इसमें आठ लेन की रोड, चार लेन की साइकिल रोड और चार लेन की पार्किंग होगी।  https://www.livehindustan.com/ncr/story-river-front-will-be-built-on-bank-of-yamuna-river-in-delhi-on-the-lines-of-sabarmati-river-front-3934018.html  (24 March 2021)

Haryana Unabated industrial pollution flowing in drain number 2 Panipat affecting aquatic life in Yamuna. This March 24 video report mentions of repeated fish death in the river causing losses to fishermen. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1375127843827421184?s=20

Uttar Pradesh Giant pumps along Yamuna turning fields in Greater Noida dry? Over the past three months, residents of Atta Gujaran, a village with a population of around 5,000 near the Gautam Budh Nagar-Haryana border, have had to dig 20 new deep tube wells, some about 130 metres deep. The wells, previously dug to about 90 m, hardly have any water, according to villagers. Water stress is, in fact, increasing in Greater Noida — not just for domestic usage but also for farmers as irrigation has become a big challenge.

Experts say that the drop in water level will in the long-term also determine what crops would possibly grow in the fields. “Over extraction of water from the ground water aquifers near the Yamuna means that the toxic water of the river will sink down to fill in the void created by the extraction — so by extracting ground water from the Yamuna belt, people are making a huge mistake,” said Manoj Mishra of the YJA.

“There are two explanations: first, the rapid dewatering of ground aquifers for creation of foundation and basement of high rise apartments in the vicinity and second, high-powered borewells on the bank of Yamuna in Haryana across the Yamuna bank.” Vikrant Tongad, environmentalist, said. According to the reports of the groundwater department of Gautam Budh Nagar, the average depletion in Greater Noida is about 1.5 metre per year. In Greater Noida, at least five spots where water levels are tested annually, have gone dry over a period of six years. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/are-giant-pumps-along-yamuna-turning-fields-in-gr-noida-dry/articleshow/81621535.cms  (22 March 2021)

Work on wetland to clean Kondli drain to begin next week The irrigation department is likely to start work on the creation of a wetland next week to clean waste water of Kondli drain, one of the major sources of pollution of river Yamuna in Delhi-NCR. The development comes after the Noida authority, which is funding the project, said that it has sanctioned ₹1.5 crore for the creation of a wetland. “The fund has been sanctioned and is being transferred to the UP irrigation department,” said Ritu Maheshwari, chief executive officer, Noida authority.

In February last year, the NGT had ordered in-situ treatment of the Kondli drain jointly by the UP irrigation department and the Noida authority. In continuation to the NGT order, the irrigation department in August had proposed to create six wetlands at different sites of the drain that cuts Noida into two parts and finally merges with the Yamuna at Sector 168.

The irrigation department will first create one wetland, and the work on other wetlands will begin when the authority releases more funds (out of a total ₹6.5 crore approved for the entire project), said the officials. “As a pilot project, we have decided to develop the first wetland at this drain near Sector 50 to clean waste water,” said Pandey. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/worn-on-wetland-to-clean-kondli-drain-to-begin-next-week-101616780729959.html  (26 March 2021)

Hindon एक नदी को जीवित करने का प्रयास 13 फरवरी को सेन्टर फ़ॉर वाटर पीस के निदेशक संजय कश्यप के नेतृत्व में कुछ  पर्यावरण प्रेमी और सामाजिक कार्यकर्त्ता हिडन उद्गम स्थल सहारनपुर पहुँचे। जहाँ उनकी मुलाकात स्थानीय निवासी और हाई सीड के निदेशक उमर सैफ से हुई,उमर सैफ भी एक पर्यावरण कार्यकर्ता  है और कई सालों से  हिंडन और उसकी सहायक नदियों को जीवित करने  में जूटे है। https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSJ5fJV2jME  (23 Jan. 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Research Taxonomic revision of the South Asian River dolphins Indus and Ganges river dolphins are the sole remaining relicts of the entire Platanistoidea cetacean superfamily and thus from the perspective of evolutionary distinctiveness their conservation is of key importance. The recognition of two species of Platanista detailed above requires a re-evaluation of their conservation status. Both are currently listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and are already among the most endangered of all cetaceans.

The Indus, Ganges-Brahmaputra, and Karnaphuli-Sangu River systems in South Asia and the
geographic origin of samples used in this study (numbers refer to skull ID numbers listed in Table SM1)

There is now an urgent need to elevate these species to a higher level of conservation concern and priority. This is especially true for the Indus river dolphin, which has declined drastically throughout most of its range due to its massive altered and degraded habitat (Braulik, Noureen et al., 2015). The Ganges river dolphin, although presently more numerous, is under great threat due to proposed and ongoing large infrastructure projects that have the potential to destroy large swaths of the most important habitat for the species (Kelkar, 2017).  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/mms.12801  (09 Feb. 2021)

SAND MINING

Sand Mining in Indian Rivers – an introduction  Watch this audio visual created as part of India Rivers Week 2020 to provide an overview on the issue of “Sand Mining in Indian Rivers”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FT3hqm9DKY  (27 March 2021)

Kerala HC removes ‘tainted’ mining dept director The Kerala HC recently quashed the Govt’s appointment of CK Baiju as Director of the Mining and Geology Department, pronouncing judgment in a PIL petition. A Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly delivered their judgment, stating, “On consideration of the facts and circumstances, we are of the opinion that sufficient public interest is involved in the matter at hand, and that Mr. C.K.Baiju, respondent No.6, was appointed to the post of Director, Mining and Geology Department, even though styled as temporary and giving charge, is overlooking all canons of law and beyond comprehension of the normal procedure followed in the matter of promotion, especially due to the fact that he is a tainted officer facing charges and imposed with penalty, and thus, violated fair play and equal opportunity.”

The petitioner, Civic Responsibilities Empowerment Association [CREA], approached the High Court against the State Government’s decision in 2020 giving the officer temporary charge as Director of the Mining Department. Prior to the appointment, he was a Deputy Director of the Department. The petitioner pointed out that despite findings by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau that the officer had prima facie indulged in corrupt practices while holding positions in various district Mining and Geology Departments, and consequent departmental inquiries, as well as a complaint before the Kerala Lokayukta, the Government proceeded to appoint him to the post of Director. A few of the corrupt practices alleged against him are the illegal granting quarrying permits, not monitoring licence conditions, allowing operation of brick kilns and quarrying and so on.

The petitioner pointed out that an attempt to promote Baiju to the post of Director in 2015 failed after the matter was taken up in the Kerala Legislative Assembly. Praying that allowing him to continue in the post would send out a wrong message, the petitioners sought to quash the Order.

Stating that the Courts were not to be hesitant in stepping in to correct such patent illegality, the Court underscored, “..the Government functions as a trustee of the citizens and, therefore, duty bound to protect the general interests of the public. Whenever the Government overlooks its duty and obligations, the constitutional courts shall not be hesitant to step in and correct such patent illegality, in larger public interest.” https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/kerala-high-court-quashes-government-order-ck-baiju-mining-department-director-171861  (28 March 2021) 

Tamil Nadu Quarrying must be done in a scientific manner: HC Disposing of a batch of PIL petitions that complained of illegal and rampant sand quarrying in southern districts under the guise of quarrying ‘savudu’ sand, a Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and B. Pugalendhi issued a series of directions to the State to follow so as to curb illegal quarrying. The court observed that it appeared that ‘savudu’ quarries were permitted without any lease agreement, without any mining plan and without any environmental clearance. Further, the court said the Department concerned did not take any steps to identify the mineral for examination with a laboratory to ascertain the contents / components of the mineral.

The court directed the State to constitute a high-level committee comprising geologists and other experts and eminent officers from the Public Works Department and Water Resources Department to conduct a detailed study / survey on possibility or availability of river sand on adjacent patta lands to rivers. These places have to be notified and declared protected zones and there cannot be any quarrying operations other than by the government in the notified areas. There shall not be any grant of quarry lease without ascertaining the composition / component of the minerals and without obtaining a report from an authorised lab, the judges said.

The court directed the Department of Geology and Mining to establish a lab on its own or to authorise any lab in this regard. Further, the judges said that there shall not be any quarry operation in the name of colloquial terms / local terms and any lease shall be in accordance with minerals notified under Section 3 of the MMDR Act. The Department of Geology and Mining should furnish the details of all ‘savudu’ quarries in the State to the court within eight weeks and the details of these quarries shall also be furnished to the high-level committee which will inspect the quarries to ascertain availability of sand. If the committee finds availability of sand in the quarries, it shall be reported to the Commissioner of Geology and Mining, marking a copy to the High Court. The Commissioner shall take necessary action against officials who granted quarry permits without ascertaining the composition of minerals, the court said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/quarrying-must-be-done-in-a-scientific-manner-says-hc/article33874135.ece  (12 Feb. 2021)

BJP proposes ban sand mining The BJP’s Assembly election manifesto has proposed to enact legislations to ban sand mining for a period of five years, among other proposals. The manifesto, released by BJP leader and Union Minister for Highways Nitin Gadkari, in the presence of BJP Tamil Nadu president L. Murugan and other senior leaders in Chennai, on Monday (March 22), also proposed to set up gaushalas in temples or shelters, provide financial assistance to fisherfolk and temple priests, and create 50 lakh jobs.

BJP Tamil Nadu manifesto launch. Image source Social Media

The BJP will ban sand mining for a period of five years in the State to prevent the erosion of riverbeds and improve groundwater table. During this time, import of sand for construction will be allowed, the party said. Encroachments on water bodies, lakes, tanks, ponds, riverbanks will be removed as per the Supreme Court order, it said. It will also take steps to interlink various rivers in the State and construct one lakh check dams to improve the ground water table, the party said.  https://www.thehindu.com/elections/tamil-nadu-assembly/bjp-proposes-anti-religious-conversion-law-ban-on-cow-slaughter-sand-mining/article34134535.ece   (22 March 2021)

Andhra Pradesh Contractors fined ₹22.50 cr for excavating sand illegally The District Sand Monitoring Committee headed by East Godavari District Collector D. Muralidhar Reddy has imposed a whopping fine of ₹22.50 crore on three contractors and an agency for extracting sand beyond the permissible area in the four sand reaches of the Godavari riverbed.

The illegal activity, which posed a threat to the existing riverbed ecosystem, had been exposed by the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB – Sand and Liquor) led by ASP Sumit Garud. Based on the geographical coordinates of the respective reaches, the officials detected the illegal activity and assessed the extent of damage done to the riverbed.

A fine of ₹10.68 crore was imposed on Sayeed Rabbani (Tatipudi reach); ₹5.36 crore on Mallidi Bhupathi Reddy (Kapileswarapuram reach); and ₹1.79 crore on Vomula Srinivasa Rao (Pulidindi reach). M/s. Raghuram Hima Pipes that had bagged the contract for the Vemagiri reach was slapped a fine of ₹4.66 crore. The quantum of fine was five times the worth of sand illegally excavated. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/contractors-fined-2250-crore-for-excavating-sand-illegally/article34179820.ece  (28 March 2021)

Stop privatisation of mining: TDP MLC Buddha Naga Jagadeeswara Rao on Wednesday (March 24) accused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government of causing severe suffering to the people of Andhra by privatising the total sand mining reaches in the State without trying to solve the problems of the construction industry. Jagadeeswara Rao deplored that over 2 lakh mining and transport workers would be thrown out of their job works because of the latest privatisation policy of the Jagan regime. Already, the YSRCP has done serious injustice as its dubious previous policy has caused sand shortage and threw over 25 lakh construction workers out of work. In a statement, the TDP MLC said that since the YSRCP came to power, most workers in the 125 allied sectors of the construction industry lost their livelihood opportunities. Over 60 construction workers committed suicide unable to find works to support their families.

Now, within hours of introducing the new privatisation policy, Panchayat Raj Principal Secretary Gopalakrishna Dwivedi has announced a steep hike in price of sand from Rs 375 per tonne of sand to Rs 475. The TDP leader alleged that the JP Power Ventures was expected to make Rs 3,000 crore per year by mining and selling a lot more sand than expected. The State government was mentioning that mining of only 2 crore tonnes takes place every year under the AP Mineral Development Corporation. But in reality, the ruling YSRCP leaders were illegally and unauthorisedly mining and transporting sand up to over 5 crore tonnes per year, he alleged. https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/stop-privatisation-of-sand-mining-tdp-678454   (25 March 2021)

Mangalagiri: Stage set for 10K cr loot in mining TDP national spokesman Kommareddy Pattabhi on Tuesday (March 23) expressed concern that the ruling YSRCP leaders hatched a master plan to loot over Rs 10,000 crore in the arbitrary allotment of sand mining tender to a single private company in a very non-transparent and questionable manner. Pattabhi said that CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, co-accused number 4 Alla Ayodhya Rami Reddy and minister Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy were the main brains behind this massive deal to loot the AP sand resources on wholesale scale. Two suitcase companies of Jagan Mohan Reddy were brought in to make sure that the sand tender is be allotted to Jaiprakash Power Ventures in a planner manner.

Addressing a press conference after releasing a pamphlet at the party headquarters, the TDP leader asked as to why the Jagan government did not send the allotment of tender to JP Power Venture for the judicial preview prior to its approval. At every level, there was no transparency in the tender process. The KNR Construction and the Trident Chemphar were the two companies that were made to file their tenders. The Trident was related to chemicals and it had no prior experience in sand handling. Both the companies had such track record that they would be disqualified at the level of technical scrutiny, he said. https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/mangalagiri-stage-set-for-10000-cr-loot-in-sand-mining-678322  (24 March 2021)

Telangana 6-year-old girl crushed to death by tipper A six-year-old girl died after she was hit by a sand tipper at Moranchapalli village on NH-363, on Thursday (Feb. 11). According to police, Milki Mithraja was playing in front of her house which was next to the NH when the mishap happened.  Outraged villagers beat up the lorry driver, alleging that he was under the influence of alcohol when the incident happened. They staged a protest on the highway, bringing traffic to a standstill for kilometres on both sides. The tipper was transporting a load of sand from Kaleshwaram to Hyderabad. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/feb/12/telangana-6-year-old-girl-crushed-to-death-by-tipper-2262952.html  (12 Feb. 2021)

5 die as sand lorry crashes into auto 5 farm workers, including three minors, who were seated inside a parked auto rickshaw, died after a sand-laden lorry rammed into the three-wheeler at Mominpet in Vikarabad district on Saturday (Dec. 26, 2020) morning. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/5-die-as-sand-lorry-crashes-into-auto-at-mominpet/articleshow/79973179.cms  (27 Dec. 2020)

5 killed in road accident at Warangal’s Damera In a tragic incident, five youngsters were killed in a ghastly road accident that happened near Pasargonda crossroad of Damera mandal in Warangal (Rural) district early on Wednesday (Sept. 2, 2020). According to sources, the incident happened when a speeding sand-laden lorry, which was coming from the opposite direction, rammed the car in which the five people were travelling. All of them died on the spot.

The accident happened while the one who was driving the car tried to overtake another vehicle, when the speeding lorry rammed the youngsters’ car. Meanwhile, scared after the incident, the lorry driver fled from the spot. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2020/sep/03/five-youngsters-killed-in-road-accident-at-warangals-damera-2191785.html  (03 Sept. 2020)

Bihar Truck conductor dies in firing There has been a violent clash between the police and the sand mafia in Chhapra. The police arrived to conduct raids on the sand mafias during which a clash erupted.

A truck conductor lost his life in firing by police. Following which the police team was chased by miners. Stones were also pelted on the team. They alleged that the Police arrived here to collect extortion money. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPPo6PuWpw0  (05 March 2021)

बालू लदे अनियंत्रित ट्रैक्टर ने चार लोगों को रौंदा नालंदा में शुक्रवार (Feb. 12) की रात बड़ा हादसा हो गया। दीपनगर थाना क्षेत्र के चोरसुआ पुल के समीप बालू लदे अनियंत्रित ट्रैक्टर ने चार लोगों को कुचल दिया। दर्दनाक हादसे में दो की मौके पर ही मौत हो गई। वहीं दो अन्य को गंभीर अवस्था में नजदीकी अस्पताल में भर्ती कराया गया है। हादसे के बाद चालक ट्रैक्टर लेकर फरार हो गया।

इस घटना के बाद गुस्साए ग्रामीणों ने सड़क जाम कर दी। हादसे से गुस्साए लोगों ने सड़क पर शव को रख कर जाम कर दिया है। जिससे तीन किमी तक काफी देर तक जाम लगा रहा। ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि ट्रैक्टर द्वारा प्रतिदिन अवैध बालू लेकर दर्जनों ट्रैक्टर पुलिस की जानकारी से चलाया जाता है जिसे बन्द किया जाय। बता दें कि एक माह पूर्व भी बालू लदे ट्रैक्टर ने दो लोगों को रौंदा था, जिसमें एक की मौत हो गई थी । https://www.jagran.com/bihar/patna-city-big-accident-in-nalanda-bihar-uncontrolled-tractor-carrying-sand-crushed-four-people-in-dipnagar-21362407.html  (12 Feb. 2021)

14 arrested, 55 trucks seized in Rohtas 14 people were arrested, 55 trucks, three tractors and a heavy vehicle were seized during a crackdown against illegal sand mining in Bihar’s Rohtas district, police said on Tuesday (March 23). The raids were conducted in Dehri, Nasariganj, Indrapuri, Karakat and Darihat police station areas near Sone river.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bihar-police-arrest-14-people-for-illegal-sand-mining-in-rohtas-seize-55-trucks-101616560684236.html  (24 March 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Illegal sand miners again created bunds across Yamuna river near Khurgan village in Kairana tehsil, Shamli. This is happening despite the fact that the CM himself heads the mining and geology department in the state. The worse part is that the sand mafia has been exploiting minor kids as child labour to fill the sand bags for illegal act by paying them Rs. 3 per bag. (March 26, 2021 video) https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1375409166097911811?s=20

मौरंग माफिया का कहर, दस बीघा सब्जी मशीन से रौंदी अवैध खनन और मौरंग घाटों की शासनस्तर पर आई जांच टीमें और कड़ी कार्रवाई के बाद भी मौरंग माफिया के हौसले पस्त नहीं हुए हैं। खेतों से होकर जबरन रास्ता बनाने के लिए जमवारा गांव के मौजा कछार का पुरवा में दस बीघा की सब्जी की फसल मशीनों से रौंद दी गई। किसानों ने विरोध किया तो धमकी दी गई। सहमे किसानों ने एसडीएम व तहसीलदार से न्याय की गुहार लगाई है। आरोप है कि मौरंग माफिया खेतों से होकर जबरन रास्ता बना रहे हैं। उनकी मेहनत मिट्टी में मिला दी। घर-परिवार के सामने दो जून की रोटी का संकट खड़ा हो गया है।

ग्राम जमवारा के मौजा कछार का पुरवा के बाशिदे करीब बीस वर्षों से नदी किनारे सब्जी की पैदावार कर परिवार का भरण पोषण करते हैं। सोमवार (March 22) सुबह मौरंग माफिया के गुर्गे मशीनों के साथ पहुंचे और सब्जी की फसल रौंदने लगे। यह देख लोग एकजुट हुए तो धमकी दी गई। देखते ही देखते करीब दस बीघा जमीन की फसल रौंद दी गई। किसानों का आरोप है कि मशीनों से जमीन समतल कर मौरंग लदे वाहनों की आवाजाही के लिए रास्ता बना लिया गया है। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/banda-maorang-mafia-havoc-trampled-by-ten-bigha-vegetable-machine-21488331.html  (22 March 2021)

बालू खदान में खलासी की मौत, साक्ष्य मिटाए शहर कोतवाली क्षेत्र स्थित कनवारा बालू खदान में मंगलवार (March 16) रात रायबरेली जिले के एक खलासी की ट्रक की चपेट में आने से मौत हो गई। हादसे की सूचना पर पहुंचे परिजनों ने हत्या का आरोप लगाते हुए जांच की मांग की। आरोप लगाया कि घटनास्थल से साक्ष्य मिटा दिए गए और जान से मारने की धमकी भी दी गई। वहीं, पुलिस ने पहुंच शव का कब्जे में लेकर पोस्टमार्टम के लिए भेज दिया। दूसरे ट्रक चालक की तहरीर पर मामला दर्ज कर लिया गया है। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/banda/story-khalasi-killed-in-sand-mine-erased-evidence-3919581.html  (17 March 2021)

केन के गहरे पानी में फंसे दो बच्चे डूबने से बचे पोकलैंड मशीन के खनन से केन नदी के गहरे पानी में दो बच्चे फंस गए। वहां मौजूद केवटों ने उन्हें बाहर निकालकर जिला अस्पताल पहुंचाया। घटना से बच्चे सहमे हैं। ग्रामीणों ने रोष जताया कि मशीनों से पानी के अंदर से बालू निकालने पर नदी में गहरे कुएं बन गए हैं। डूबने की अक्सर घटनाएं हो रही हैं। घटना मटौंध थाना क्षेत्र के भूरागढ़ पुलिस चौकी अंतर्गत दुरेड़ी गांव स्थित बालू खदान की है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/banda/two-children-trapped-in-deep-water-by-ken-survived-drowning-banda-news-knp6174386196  (13 March 2021)

बालू खनन से केन की धारा पर मंडराया खतरा उत्तरप्रदेश और मध्यप्रदेश के बालू माफिया केन नदी की जलधारा में तीन मीटर गहराई तक बालू की खुदाई कर केंद्र और एमपी-यूपी की महत्वाकांक्षी योजना केन-बेतवा लिंक की ‘कब्र’ भी खोद रहे हैं। करीब 30 हजार करोड़ रुपये की परियोजना खनन की भेंट चढ़ सकती है। एमपी से लेकर यूपी के बांदा और हमीरपुर तक नदी की तलहटी से अंधाधुंध हो रहे खनन से जलधारा के ही मिटने की संभावना पैदा हो गई है। अगर केन नहीं बचेगी तो लिंक परियोजना में बेतवा को पानी कहां से मिलेगा, यह सवाल उठ खड़ा हुआ है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/banda/sand-mining-threatens-ken-s-stream-banda-news-knp6073652122  (21 Jan. 2021)

Uttarakhand Mining in Kosi stopped after raids Forest department halted mining activities in Kosi river in Ramnagar after observing large scale illegal mining during a raid. The department said that mining would be allowed from next week and only vehicle with RFID chip would be permitted to enter the area. https://www.amarujala.com/uttarakhand/nainital/mining-in-the-river-will-remain-closed-even-today-ramnagar-news-hld411793028  (20 Jan. 2021)

Video Report  World’s Sand Shortage The world is covered by deserts and yet… people are killing each other over sand. Countries in the Middle East even import it from Australia and Canada. How short is the world on sand – and how can we stop it running out? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMfdCeVyYsA  (19 March 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

MoEF Rs 1K cr released for 157 wetlands: Javadekar “Under the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) scheme, the central assistance is based on proposals received from state governments, in conformity with the guidelines and budget availability. Accordingly, so far, MoEFCC has sanctioned projects for conservation of 157 wetlands in the country and released an amount of about Rs 1,039 crore as central share”, Union Minister of EnvironmentPrakash Javadekar informed Parliament on Friday (March 19).

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on whether the number of lakes has declined substantially across the country over recent years, Javadekar said rapid urbanisation, development activities and anthropogenic pressures have stressed water bodies. He said the ministry is implementing the NPCA on a cost-sharing basis between the Centre and the respective states. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/rs-1000-crore-released-for-157-wetlands-in-india-javadekar-7236585/  (20 March 2021)

Maharashtra Collector identifies 17 ‘wetlands’ After complaints from environment activists, Raigad Collector Nidhi Chaudhary has identified 17 natural water bodies to be treated as wetlands in the district, including those which need to be protected and conserved. Ms. Chaudhary was informed about the complaints of wetlands being destroyed at a divisional commissioner meeting. “First we sent notices to the CIDCO and JNPT, and since there were no response from them, after verifying that some of the places under their jurisdiction fall under the definition of wetland, we sent a communique to the government,” Ms. Chaudhary said.

In response to a letter from the State Environment Department to identify wetlands as per the wetland atlas, Ms. Chaudhary in her communique said that some water bodies under the JNPT or CIDCO should be notified as wetlands. “Whether it is a natural or man-made pond, the fact that it falls under the definition of wetland, is enough, and it should be protected,” she said.

B.N. Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation, who has been following up the issue, said, “The letter vindicates our stand. Moreover, the list prepared by the Collector on the basis of the tehsildar’s ground report does not mention the areas of the individual wetlands. This is essential to prevent vested interests from shrinking the water bodies with landfill and then claim that these do not fit into the definition of wetland.”. Of the wetlands identified in Uran, the ones at Sheva and Karal are under the JNPT and they are permanent freshwater marshes and shrub-dominated water bodies. “The JNPT refused to treat them as wetlands. Two other water bodies at Khopte and Bori BK are mangrove wetlands, and they must be protected,” Mr. Kumar said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/collector-identifies-17-wetlands-in-raigad/article34136208.ece  (23 March 2021)

916-ha of mangroves now a reserved forest A total of 916 ha of mangroves in Borivli taluka of Mumbai (suburban) district were declared a reserve forest under Section 20 the Indian Forest Act (IFA), via gazette notification on March 23.

The mangroves are spread across Charkop, Borivli, Manori, Gorai, Goregaon Pahadi, Valnai, Malvani, Marve, Akse, Erangal and Darvali villages. Declaring areas as reserved forest grants them legal sanctity, and aims to conserve biodiversity by curtailing activities like harvesting of natural resources. This development comes three weeks after 409 ha of mangrove forests in Alibag taluka in Raigad district were similarly declared on March 5. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/916ha-of-mangroves-now-a-reserved-forest-101616788112519.html  (27 March 2021)

Tidal waters illegally blocked, complain greens Local environmentalists have complained to the state authorities that the large wetland behind NRI Complex in Seawoods, sector 60 Nerul, is being slowly choked’ by making illegal blockages or bunds to make the tidal waters stagnant, and thereby drive away the coastal birds from the site.

“The huge wetland of over 20 hectares behind NRI Complex is highly vulnerable at this stage because some people have built illegal bunds at several points to block the tidal waters. This wetland is part of the National Wetland Atlas that is recognized by the Supreme Court of India. Hence, I have written to the authorities to immediately take corrective steps to save this green zone which used to be visited by hundreds of birds earlier,” said Sunil Agarwal of Save Navi Mumbai Environment group. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-tidal-waters-illegally-blocked-at-nri-wetland-sector-60-nerul-complain-greens/articleshow/81469078.cms  (12 May 2021)

Community fishing in Deepor beel. Ritu Raj Konwar, Front Line

Assam Deepor Beel on the brink Deepor Beel, a Ramsar site near Guwahati, known for its fish and bird diversity and rich aquatic vegetation that attracts wild elephants, faces conservation threats from garbage dumping, quarrying, and the construction of a railway line, besides a smart city project. https://frontline.thehindu.com/environment/deepor-beel-the-riverine-wetland-in-lower-brahmaputra-valley-on-the-brink/article34108353.ece  (26 March 2021)

Mandarin duck sighting raises awareness  The appearances of the Mandarin duck in and around the wetlands of Assam and other parts of northeast India have aroused curiosity and conservation awareness. In Assam, the duck was spotted in the Maguri wetland complex, which is close to the site of the ecologically-damaging Baghjan oil well fire. Scientists, however, say it is too early to conclude on the revival of the wetland complex. Smaller wetlands such as Maguri in Assam and Siikhe in Arunachal Pradesh need greater attention and monitoring for conservation actions. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/the-appearance-of-a-mandarin-duck-in-an-assam-wetland-after-over-a-century-has-raised-hope-for-wetland-conservation/  (25 March 2021)

Odisha Chilika was a part of Bay of Bengal: Study The Chilika lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lake, was once part of the Bay of Bengal, a study by the marine archaeology department of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, has found. The process of the formation of the Chilika might have begun in the later part of the Pleistocene epoch, around 20,000 years ago, Sila Tripati, a noted marine archaeologist of NIO, told Down To Earth.

India’s peninsular river Mahanadi carried a heavy load of silt and dumped part of it at its delta. As the sediment-laden river met the Bay of Bengal, sand bars were formed near its mouth, Tripati said. These created a backflow of the sea water into the sluggish fresh water at the estuary, resulting in the huge brackish water lake, he added. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/once-upon-a-time-the-chilika-was-a-part-of-the-bay-of-bengal-study-76168  (26 March 2021) 

GROUNDWATER

Haryana Rs 97 cr fine for illegal groundwater extraction and pollution 24 Industrial units in Barhi industrial area in Sonepat as 24 units have been asked to pay environmental compensation worth Rs 96.01 crore, for illegal groundwater extraction, while one unit has been asked to pay Rs 1.05 crore for failing to meet pollution norms. The action has been taken in compliance with the NGT directions.

An application was filed in the NGT in 2020 against 29 industrial units of Barhi, Sonepat. It was claimed that the units were discharging effluents in open drains resulting in diseases but no action was being taken by the statutory authorities including Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) and CGWB.

On March 5, while disposing of the matter, the NGT directed, HSPCB to ensure regulation of groundwater extraction and cleanliness of the drain receiving the effluents.  Member Secretary HSPCB S. Narayanan explained, “It is DC who has to execute the environmental compensation orders regarding illegal groundwater extraction. Permission from CGWB is required for groundwater use.” “The process of taking compensation is on,” said DC Sonepat Shyam Lal Punia. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/rs-97-crore-fine-on-sonepat-industrial-units-for-illegal-groundwater-extraction-and-pollution-228965 (22 Mar 2021)

Tamil Nadu Expert panel to study depletion of groundwater The State on Wednesday (Jan. 20) informed the Madras High Court that it is willing to form an expert panel that will comprise persons from Anna University and IIT, Madras, to carry out a study over the depletion of groundwater resources and measures to recharge it. The court directed the state to form the expert body within four weeks and file a detailed report. The first bench comprising the Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy passed the directions on the PIL that called for steps to recharge groundwater since the natural resource is being depleted rapidly. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/jan/21/expert-panel-to-study-depletion-of-groundwater-2252959.html  (21 Jan. 2021)

Opinion Correlative rights to benefit farmers by MG Chandrakanth ‘Correlative Rights’ doctrine are crucial in groundwater law for irrigation, and has the ability to convince farmers and stakeholders regarding its role in protecting sustainable use of groundwater as well as in meeting the needs of farmers. In the absence of groundwater law incorporating Correlative Rights, doubling farm incomes and meeting food security will remain a mirage. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/economic-policy/correlative-rights-to-benefit-farmers-through-groundwater-law/  (27 March 2021)

Improving agriculture’s water efficiency By Ashok Gulati, Ritika Juneja The tag line in The Indian Express writes:- “Technological solutions to make rice and sugarcane cultivators use water more sustainably can work if there are right incentives, and agri-input pricing is on the right track.” https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/from-plate-to-plough-improving-indian-agricultures-water-efficiency/2222169/  (29 March 2021) and the tag line of same opinion piece in The Financial Express reads “Replace water, power and fertiliser subsidies with Direct per acre benefits to help Farmers adopt technology that improves Irrigation productivity.” https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/from-plate-to-plough-improving-indian-agricultures-water-efficiency/2222169/  (29 Nov. 2021)

URBAN WATER

The area around Kaliyasot dam in Bhopal has reported high movement of Tigers. Pic: Rishabh Shrivastava/Citizen Matters)

Bhopal Fate of wetlands unknown “Wetlands are seen as waste lands, to be encroached and built upon,” says Himanshu Thakkar, water expert and coordinator at SANDRP. “There is no effective legal protection for most of our wetlands. In fact, there are no updates on maps of wetlands. There is no system for clearance or monitoring when wetland components undergo a change.”   https://citizenmatters.in/bhopal-wetlands-upper-lake-threatened-by-development-plan-24112  (25 March 2021)

Hyderabad CAG raises doubts on water board’s sustainability The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report for the year ending March, 2018 presented in the State Legislature on Friday (March 26) raised serious doubts about the financial sustainability of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board. The report attributed the precarious financial position of the Board to the increasing burden of non-collection of dues, non-revision of tariff in the domestic category, and water cess waiver previously offered by the Board, besides lack of discretion in water supply management.

The Board had continuously incurred expenditure in excess of income during the period 2013-17, due to which accumulated losses stood at nearly ₹967 crore as on March, 2017. The Board had to resort to loans of ₹300 crore in 2014, by mortgaging its buildings including headquarters to pay its power dues, which compromised the maintenance of its transmission and distribution pipelines. Waiver of water cess dues to the extent of ₹441.46 crore in 2016 had its adverse impact on the revenues. Water cess dues had increased from ₹861 crore in March, 2013 to ₹1210 crore in March, 2018, and to ₹1,351 crore by July in 2018.

GHMC defaulting in payment of 15% share of Water Tax subsumed into the Property Tax to the water board, as mandated by the government, had a severe impact on the Board’s revenues. As on March, 2017, dues from GHMC to the water board accumulated to ₹762 crore. Dues on deposit contribution works from other agencies including GHMC added ₹64.55 crore more to the losses. Discontinuation of drawing of drinking water through gravity from Himayatsagar reservoir and Singur Phase-IV, and very minimal quantity drawn from Osman Sagar reservoir during the audit period, have increased the burden of power bills phenomenally.

The Board had to rely on water pumped from Godavari river instead, thus incurring avoidable pumping charges of ₹141 crore per annum. Further, the Board’s precarious financial position caused delay in payment of electricity bills, which resulted in late payment charges of ₹139 crore. The report indicted water board for faulty planning of storage reservoirs, wherein the consultant agency had under-reported the existing capacities, and inflated the required capacities. Against the required storage capacity of 202 million gallons, the Board had planned for 217 million gallons.

The report found fault with the management of the drinking water supply projects, wherein the Board has paid in excess for the contractor for the execution of intake channel from the foreshore of Yellampally barrage. Despite the higher invert level allowed by the Irrigation department which reduced the excavation work, no deductions were made in amount payable to the contractor. In another instance, the contractor was given undue double benefit due to addition of Value Added Tax component twice, the report said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/cag-raises-doubts-on-water-boards-sustainability/article34173202.ece   (26 March 2021)

New bid to clean Hussainsagar lake Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) has spent crores to clean Hussainsagar lake in last three years involving different local, national, global firms like Matrix Environment Inc a Canada-based firm (2020), city-based Ezox Environment LLP which again collaborated with same Matrix Environment (2019), NACOF, a Bengaluru-based company (2018) applying various methodologies including bio-remediation by Matrix Environment Inc., effective microorganisms (EM) technology which also used Bokashi balls (EM mud balls) by NACOF but with little success.

HMDA has now decided to try “remediation” to eradicate the foul smell, stop the growth of algae and improve water quality at the Hussainsagar. HMDA officials have floated global tenders of Rs 10 crore for the job. It invited requests for proposal (RFPs) on March 22 from proven technology companies, which provide in-situ treatment using bio-remediation or equivalent technology to remove algal blooms and minimise odour generated from the water body. The main objective of the project is to reinstate the natural ecosystem and improve water quality by increasing the DO level. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/290321/hmda-to-clean-and-improve-water-quality-at-hussainsagar.html  (29 March 2021)

Ahmedabad AMC tables reservoir project for govt nod The proposal for a bridge-cum-weir project on the Sabarmati river that will store 15 days of water (12 MCM) for the city has been submitted to the state’s irrigation dept for approval. A 350-metre long bridge with a barrage below will be constructed near the employees quarters of power station and will touch Sadar Bazaar Road on the other end of the Sabarmati river. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/amc-tables-reservoir-project-for-govt-nod/articleshow/81676765.cms  (25 March 2021)

Pune ‘Prepare time-bound plan to minimise water leakage’ Deputy CM and Pune district guardian minister Ajit Pawar has instructed Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials to provide a time-bound programme (every month) to minimise water leakage as per Maharashtra Water Resources Regulation Authority. In the canal committee meeting, Pawar has given instructions to PMC officials on Friday (March 26). During the review of water availability in four dams from which Pune district, including Pune city, gets water for drinking and agricultural purposes, Pawar also instructed PMC officials to prepare a time-bound plan about water usage.

Khadakwasla irrigation division officials, meanwhile, demanded to reduce the water quota of PMC from Khadakwasla dam as the municipal corporation is getting 2.50 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) water from Bhama-Askhed dam. On this issue, city mayor Murlidhar Mohol took objection and said, “PMC is demanding 18.50 TMC water as the city’s population has increased. However, the irrigation department has not approved the 18.50 TMC water quota to the city. They have not signed a contract for the same and are still supplying only 11.50 TMC water as per an agreement signed in 2001.” He further said, “PMC is trying to minimise water leakages with the help of 24×7 water supply scheme and river rejuvenation project funded by the JICA. So, the irrigation department’s demand to cut down 2.50 TMC water from Khadakwasla dam is not feasible.”  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/ajit-pawar-instructs-pune-civic-body-to-prepare-time-bound-plan-to-minimise-water-leakage-101616849317423.html  (27 March 2021)

Bengaluru BBMP vehicle caught dumping debris in Pattandur Agrahara lake Going by the looks of Pattandur Agrahara Lake, it seems the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) authorities are in a hurry to add this water body to the list of lakes that are a part of the city’s historical identity. An earth moving machine with a sticker – BBMP on duty – was found dumping debris into the lake that is already on the verge of meeting an unnatural death. According to residents, the driver of the machine allegedly told them that he was avoiding the task of going all the way to Yelahanka, where the designated quarry is situated for dumping debris and construction materials.

The residents have taken a video of the earth moving machine dumping debris on the lake bund, which has gone viral. But the authorities have not taken action either to penalise the person responsible for dumping of debris or removing it altogether. If dumping debris into Pattandur Agrahara Lake doesn’t stop, it may go down in history as one of the lakes that failed to survive in Bengaluru. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/all-hands-on-deck-before-this-lake-ceases-to-exist/articleshow/81715008.cms  (27 March 2021)

Delhi 2 die while cleaning septic tank 2 men died apparently due to asphyxiation while cleaning a septic tank at a banquet hall in east Delhi’s Patparganj Industrial Area on Thursday (March 25) night. Police detained the hall’s owner and two employees on Friday (March 26) and registered a case while also invoking the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act. Around 10.23 pm on Thursday (March 25), police received a call reporting the death of two men at the Pearl Grand Emperor banquet hall. Prem Chand, 40, and Lokesh Kumar, 35, both residents of Trilokpuri in east Delhi, had been called at 7.30 pm to clean a septic tank by Rahul, who is in charge of the housekeeping there.

In 2014, the Supreme Court prohibited anyone from working in sewers, which are often filled with lethal gas. Stepping into them is permitted only in case of emergency, that too after putting on adequate safety gear, as per union government rules. These include facemask, goggles, gumshoes and the presence of an ambulance on the spot. Yet, these rules are seldom followed. Last month, the union government admitted in the Lok Sabha that in the past five years, 340 workers have died cleaning sewers and septic tanks. Those responsible for the deaths in east Delhi must be held accountable and punished. As activist Bezwada Wilson once said, “These are not deaths but killings”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/two-die-while-cleaning-septic-tank/articleshow/81714653.cms  (27 March 2021)

200 water bodies will be cleaned before monsoon: Satyendar Jain Delhi Water Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday (March 27) said 200 water bodies under the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) will be cleaned before the monsoon season. At a review meeting, Jain said local residents have complained that water bodies and lakes in Delhi have become dumping grounds due to waste mismanagement by municipal corporations.

Of around 600 water bodies and lakes in Delhi, 200 under the DJB will be cleaned before the monsoon season, he said. Jain also instructed officials to use unutilised 60 acres of land at Nilothi STP for the creation of lakes and groundwater recharge.

Currently, 50 million gallons of treated water from Nilothi STP is released into the Najafgarh drain. This will now be utilised for groundwater recharge after polishing through the lake. The minister also directed senior officials of the DJB to ensure that no sewerage line is connected to a storm water drain. https://www.livemint.com/news/200-water-bodies-in-delhi-will-be-cleaned-before-monsoon-satyendar-jain-11616862125168.html (27 Mar 2021)

SC asks Haryana, Punjab to maintain status quo in water supply till April 6 The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday (March 26) ordered Haryana and Punjab and the Bhakra Beas Management Board to maintain status quo in the supply of water to Delhi till April 6. A Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde had on Thursday (March 25) ordered a 24-hour status quo on a plea filed by the DJB alleging that Haryana would cut 20% of its water supply to Delhi due to repair work in one of its canals. On Friday (March 26), the court extended the status quo order till April 6. It said the petition would be taken up on April 6.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/sc-extends-status-quo-on-supply-of-yamuna-water-to-delhi-till-april-6/article34170254.ece  (26 March 2021)

‘Maintain status quo on supply of Yamuna water’ The SC on Thursday (March 25) ordered the States of Haryana and Punjab and the Bhakra Beas Management Board to maintain status quo in the supply of Yamuna water to Delhi till March 26.

The court said it would not know till it gets a complete picture on the nature of the repairs. CJI Bobde, however, said the issue is matter of access to clean water, which is a fundamental right. The court agreed to hear the case on March 26 on an urgent basis. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/maintain-status-quo-on-supply-of-yamuna-water/article34164541.ece  (26 March 2021)

SC to hear Yamuna pollution matter The SC on March 22 said that it will hear the Yamuna pollution matter on March 25, after hearing lawyer Shadan Farasat, appearing for DJB, seeking a direction for an urgent hearing in the matter, keeping in view the demand for water during Holi and increase in the pollution. https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/sc-to-hear-yamuna-pollution-matter-on-thursday20210322122458/  (22 March 2021)

DJB moves SC against closure of water channel The closure of the channel during summer will impact 25% of water supply to the capital. It may cause a crisis as the demand for water is higher than the average 1,100 MGD, even as the DJB can only supply around 935 MGD.

The DJB filed a petition in the SC against a planned closure of a water channel in Punjab this month, which could severely impact water supply to the capital, even as talks continue on the issue with the Punjab and Haryana governments..  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/djb-moves-sc-against-closure-of-water-channel-7240524/  (23 March 2021)

Supply from Nangal Hydel Channel to remain unaffected: Officials The bed of the channel and the embankment in Nangal town, Punjab, has been damaged due to water falling from a height. It requires repair, the official said. Any repairs can only be carried out if the flow in the channel is less than 1,200 cusecs, Punjab officials have told the DJB. However, Haryana, which conveys this water to Delhi, has said it will be difficult to give water to the national capital (Delhi gets 232 MGD or about 431 cusecs from Bhakhra, through this channel) if the flow is less than 4,500 cusecs. The average flow rate in the NHC is 7,600 cusecs.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/delhis-water-supply-from-nangal-hydel-channel-to-remain-unaffected-for-now-officials/articleshow/81637245.cms  (22 March 2021)

NGT asks South body, DJB to reach a consensus  The NGT asked the chief secretary to look into a dispute between the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and the DJB over supply of treated waste water to parks.

In an application before the Tribunal, the SDMC said it maintains 6,822 parks in the capital, where borewells were being used to extract water for irrigation. These borewells were sealed following orders of the NGT in January — to ensure fresh water is not used for gardening in parks — and in place of this, the DJB was to supply treated waste water here either through pipelines or tankers.

In an order on Friday (March 26), the NGT’s principal bench said, “It is stated that DJB has to ensure supply of treated water with adequate pressure, and, wherever piped supply is not available, to supply such water by tankers. DJB is in the process of providing a piped network from STP to the parks. But till such pipelines are laid, there is need for tankers for supply of water.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/water-for-parks-national-green-tribunal-asks-south-body-delhi-jal-board-to-reach-a-consensus-7248556/  (28 March 2021)

Borewells for parks: SDMC to file plea Issues related to sealing of borewells in parks as well as compensation to the families of sanitation workers who passed away due to Covid, took centre stage at SDMC’s House meeting on Wednesday (March 24). The House was holding its last meeting for the current session.

The House passed a resolution urging the commissioner to file an appeal against the NGT’s borewell sealing order in the Delhi high court to prevent the adverse environmental impact of stoppage of irrigation water supply to parks. Rajouri Garden councillor Col Balram Oberoi earlier said that over 250 borewell points in parks in his area were getting sealed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/borewells-for-parks-sdmc-to-file-plea/articleshow/81677037.cms  (25 March 2021)

SDMC urges DJB to stop sealing borewells Amid the reports of sealing of borewells in the parks of South Delhi by the DJB, the SDMC urged the DJB to allow watering the parks from its existing system to avoid drying of parks until it provide treated water for the same.

SDMC Mayor Anamika said, “Laying of pipe by the DJB to provide treated water in the parks is yet to be completed and if the existing resource of water (borewell) are sealed, it would result in huge damage to the greenery of the parks. The DJB should first provide an alternative source of water then seal the borewells.” The DJB started sealing bore-wells in several parks in South Delhi following a direction from the NGT regarding the prevention of groundwater. https://english.lokmat.com/politics/sdmc-urges-djb-to-stop-sealing-borewells/  (24 March 2021)

Noida Use water extracted at sites elsewhere: Activists Residents of 7x sectors in Noida and Noida Extension have appealed to the Noida and Greater Noida authorities to ask builders to prevent wastage of groundwater extracted at construction sites. Residents claimed that project sites in Noida Extension often dewater the aquifers (underground layers of water-bearing rock) over long periods of time and this water is discharged into drains.

“At one site, we have been observing continuous dewatering and it is going straight into the drain. Why is there no system in place so that the extracted groundwater is used for watering plants or reused for recharging the water table at a different location?” questioned Amit Gupta, a resident. Gupta made a written appeal to Noida Authority on Monday (March 22). The same complaint has been raised by Noida Extension residents.“All construction in Noida Extension is dependent on groundwater, but water wastage is also common in the area. We want the authorities concerned to take cognisance,” Manish Kumar, vice-president of Noida Extension Flat Owners Welfare Association, said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/activists-use-the-water-extracted-at-sites-elsewhere/articleshow/81640019.cms  (23 March 2021)

Some lessons for Urban Water Sector from self experience: https://www.helvetas.org/en/switzerland/how-you-can-help/follow-us/blog/Other/my%20water%20story  (22 March 2021)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

MoJS approves 465 crore as Performance Incentive fund for 7 States under JJM It said Gujarat was among the best performing states in implementing JJM to ensure tap water supply to every household. The Jal Shakti Ministry has approved Rs 465 crore as performance incentive grant to Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).

– “For performance incentive grant, the criteria include physical and financial progress under JJM, functionality of piped water supply schemes and capacity to utilise the fund. Today, Union Minister, Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Sekhawat approved Rs 465 crore as performance incentive to these states,” it added. [Equity, cost effectiveness, participation, transparency or accountability or Sustainability do not figure here.]

– Since the announcement of Jal Jeevan Mission on August 15, 2019, four crore households have been provided tap water connections, thus increasing the tap water supply from 3.23 crore (17 per cent) rural households in the country to more than 7.20 crore (37.6 per cent). In the financial year 2020-21, Rs 11,000 crore was allocated for Jal Jeevan Mission and grants have been provided to states/UTs based on output in terms of functional household tap connections given and the utilisation of available central grant and matching state share.  https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1708086  (27 March 2021) https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/mar/28/jal-shakti-ministry-approves-rs-465-crore-performance-incentive-to-sevenstates-2282528.html  (28 March 2021)

Water challenge in 4 charts In August 2019, India set off on the ambitious goal to provide tap water connections to all rural families within five years. Less than two-fifths of that goal has been met so far, but the government is about to add a new layer to the mission next fiscal: urban India, through the Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban). A closer look shows the challenge to replicate the goal in cities could be much greater, and time-taking. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/the-great-indian-water-challenge-in-four-charts-11616392755435.html  (23 March 2021)

AGRICULTURE

Rajasthan अंधड़बारिश और ओलावृष्टि से हजारों हेक्टेयर फसल बर्बाद  तूफान के कारण अकेले गंगानगर में जहां 4 लाख 72 हजार 81 हेक्टेयर में से 2 लाख 18 हजार 497 हैक्टेयर में फसलों का 35 प्रतिशत तक नुकसान होने का शुरुआती आंकलन है वहीं अजमेर में ओलावृष्टि और बारिश से 418 हैक्टेयर क्षेत्र में जौ, गेहूं और चना की फसलों को नुकसान की बात सामने आई है। अजमेर, नसीराबाद और मसूदा में 2615 हेक्टेयर में गेहूं, चना और जौ की बुवाई की गई थी। अकेले अजमेर में 150 हैक्टेयर क्षेत्र में गेहूं, 490 हेक्टेयर क्षेत्र में चना, 50 हेक्टेयर क्षेत्र में सरसों के साथ ही 375 हेक्टेयर क्षेत्र अन्य फसलों सहित कुल 1065 हेक्टेयर में बुवाई की गई। इसमें से 15 हेक्टेयर क्षेत्र में गेहूं, 50 हेक्टेयर क्षेत्र में चना और 55 हेक्टेयर में नुकसान हुआ है। बीते हफ्ते देर रात पाकिस्तान की ओर से आए तूफान की अन्नदाताओं को तहस-नहस करने वाली बर्बादी की गूंज लोकसभा में भी सुनाई दी।  खुद सरकार भी अब महसूस कर रही है।

किसानों की मानें तो जीरे, ईसबगोल की 80 फीसदी फसल आंधी-तूफान से बर्बाद हो गई है। सबसे ज्यादा नुक्सान राजस्थान के जैसलमेर, बाड़मेर, जोधपुर और नागौर के इलाकों में खड़ी फसलों को पहुंचा है। रेतीले बावंडर का असर इस कदर रहा की 100 साल पुराने कई पेड़ भी उखड गए और सेकड़ों गांवों और 2000 से ज्यादा ढाणियों में अब तक भी बिजली गुल है। प्रशासन अब भी अलर्ट मोड पर है। जैसलमेर के रेगिस्तानी सम में रेत के टीलों के बीच पर्यटकों के लिए बने 200 से ज्यादा टेंट भी उखड़ गए। इन इलाकों में दिनभर जमीन से लेकर आसमान रेत की गर्द से अटा रहा। लेकिन सरकार के सामने परेशानी वाली बात यह है की किसानों के नुसान का जायजा लेने के लिए अधिकृत राजस्थान के पटवारी इस समय अपनी मांगों को लेकर लम्बे समय से काम रोको हड़ताल पर है और सरकार के पास उनसे हड़ताल को ख़त्म करने की अपील करने के अलावा कोई और चारा नहीं बचा है। https://hindi.news24online.com/news/rajasthan/rajasthan-due-weather-farmers-crop-wasted-loss-now-government-will-assess-devastation-ac68a6d3/  (25 March 2021)

SUMMER 2021

Haryana आधा रह गया यमुना नदी से हरियाणा को मिलने वाला पानी हरियाणा के लोगों को इस बार गर्मियों में बड़े जल संकट का सामना करना पड़ सकता है। हरियाणा को यमुना नदी से मिलने वाला पानी एक साल में आधा रह गया है। ऐसे में पानी की समस्‍या गंभीर हो सकती है। पानी की समस्‍या का मामला दो दिन पहले हरियाणा विधानसभ में भी उठा था। भिवानी जिले में पानी किल्लत को लेकर कांग्रेस की विधायक किरण चौधरी ने ध्यानाकर्षण प्रस्ताव दिया था। इस पर कृषि मंत्री जेपी दलाल ने बताया कि यमुना नदी से मिलने वाला पानी आधा रह गया है। इसके अलावा सतलुज रावी ब्यास का पानी भी प्रतिदिन 7860 क्यूसिक से 6117 क्यूसिक ही रह गया है। कृषि मंत्री ने बताया कि सुप्रीम कोर्ट के निर्णयानुसार दिल्ली को 1050 क्यूसिक पानी प्रतिदिन और 420 क्यूसिक पानी गुरुग्राम को प्रतिदिन दिया जा रहा है।

आंकड़ों में सरकार ने माना कि भिवानी में पिछले साल की तुलना में 18 फीसद पानी कम दिया गया है मगर जल स्रोतों से तो 50 फीसद तक कम पानी मिल रहा है। कैरू, बीरन, रिवासा, कुसुंभी, धानी महू, बजिना, बपोरा, सिवानी, जुई, बेहल और तोशाम गांवों के क्षेत्र सुंदर सब ब्रांच की बुर्जी संख्या 121361 से पानी प्राप्त किया जाता है, जो बुटाना शाखा से निकलकर आगे हांसी शाखा मूनक हेड से निकलती है। जुई और निगाना प्रणाली के पानी के टैंक को छोड़कर उनकी क्षमता का 50 फीसद से अधिक भरा गया। इसके अलावा पशुओं के लिए 234 गांव के तालाब भी भरे गए हैं। https://www.jagran.com/haryana/panchkula-possibility-of-large-water-crisis-in-summer-by-water-from-yamuna-river-to-haryana-reached-to-half-21452445.html  (11 March 2021)

Madhya Pradesh पानी की कमी से जूझ रहे इस गाँव के लोग गर्मियों में नदी किनारे बना लेते हैं बसेरा नर्मदा किनारे बसे मध्य प्रदेश के इस गाँव के ज्यादातर लोग पलायन कर चुके हैं, जो बचे हैं हर दिन पानी की समस्या से जूझ रहे हैं। https://www.gaonconnection.com/desh/world-water-day-water-crisis-in-madhya-pradesh-48886  (23 March 2021)   

MONSOON 2021

Meteorological conditions around world point to normal monsoon “It doesn’t look like a drought year across India,” said Jason Nicholls, a senior meteorologist at Accueather in Pennsylvania. “We are leaning toward a close to normal monsoon overall for the nation.” The La Nina phenomenon, which provides a boost to the Indian monsoon, is drawing to a close, international forecasters said.

“The 2020–21 La Nina is nearing its end, with most oceanic indicators of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) now at neutral levels,” said the widely-respected Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). India has seen excess rainfall over the past two years, but ENSO-neutral conditions are better than El Nino conditions, which have historically brought droughts to India.

BOM has also noted that another phenomenon called the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has turned neutral, which bodes well for normal monsoon rainfall. The phenomenon refers to the dierence in temperature between dierent parts of the Indian Ocean. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is expected to issue its formal monsoon forecast in late April. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/meteorological-conditions-around-the-world-point-to-normal-monsoon-for-india/articleshow/81702414.cms  (26 March 2021)

About CDSP The Climate Data Service Portal serves as a integrated platform to render weather and climate services of India Meteorological Department, Ministry of Earth Sciences.

This central hub, functions as a repository to acquire and disseminate the climate data of the Indian sub-continent region. This is enabled by automatic ingestion and first level quality control management in addition to monitoring, messaging / mailing response and acceptance. A dual communication facility and a secondary level quality control and quality assured procedures are ensured prior to permanent archival.

Incorporating rapid advancements in data technology and applications, this portal serves to skill the future workforce on new-age resources to ensure inclusive economic growth and social development through climate services. http://cdsp.imdpune.gov.in/ 

FLOODS

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Draft EIA 2020 “Thoughtful consideration” to translate draft in 22 languages: Centre The Centre told the Delhi High Court on Friday (March 26) that its views on translating the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in all 22 languages in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution was being given “thoughtful consideration” and some more time will be required to arrive at a decision.

The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan by Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, pursuant to which the court listed the matter for further hearing on April 30. The high court on February 25 had observed that its view that the draft EIA be translated in all 22 languages should not be taken so “combatively” by the central government.

People in remote areas are “our citizens” who need to be heard and may not understand the draft if published only in English and Hindi, the court had said to the Environment Ministry which has been against translating the draft EIA in the vernacular languages. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/giving-thoughtful-consideration-to-hc-view-to-translate-draft-eia-in-22-languages-centre/article34170243.ece  (26 March 2021)

Report Govt eases public hearing rules for legacy mining cases In its latest decision, the Indian government’s ministry of environment has come out with an order to help a certain category of mining projects avoid public hearing while seeking environment clearance.

This decision is mainly for projects which were granted environment clearance under environmental impact assessment notification 1994 after a public hearing was conducted.

But experts note that public hearings should be understood as a critical tool for good governance and an important process for mining-affected communities, who may be suffering from non-compliance of mandatory environmental safeguards in mining projects.https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/government-eases-public-hearing-rules-for-legacy-mining-cases/   (19 March 2021)

Centre limits states’ role in forest matters  State governments cannot impose any additional environmental or conservation directions for infrastructure projects in forest areas other than what has already been stipulated by the Centre while granting forest clearance to a project, the Union environment ministry has said. Independent experts say the move will further centralise powers to monitor infrastructure projects and constrain state governments’s decision-making in issues related to forest and wildlife conservation.

In a letter dated March 22 to additional chief secretary (forest)/ principal secretary (forest) of all state governments and Union territories, the ministry stated that: “A state government/UT administration will not impose any additional condition after in-principle approval has been accorded. However, state governments can enforce certain additional conditions with the permission of the central government in exceptional situations, it added.“…In exceptional situations, giving due justifications, additional conditions may be imposed with the prior approval of the central government,” the letter said.

The ministry has issued this clarification after the Odisha government sought the implementation of a site-specific wildlife management plan in a mining project. The Odisha government had also requested the project proponent to pay a certain portion of compensatory levies towards implementation of the wildlife management plan in the mining lease area, according to the letter that does not elaborate on the details of the project or its timeline. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-limits-states-role-in-forest-matters-101616955823571.html  (29 March 2021)

Uttarakhand 670 ha forest land lost to 551 wildfires in last 5 months There has been an unprecedented rise in wildfires from October 2020 onwards as the state lost over 670 hectares (ha) of forest land to 551 forest fire incidents, data compiled by the state forest department of Uttarakhand has said. This rise in incidents is in stark contrast to the last season when only 173 forest fires were recorded from October 2019 to June 2020.

ToI Infograph

The state forest data says that around 36 hectares of plantation conducted by the forest department and around 9,000 trees have been gutted this season, resulting in a cumulative loss of Rs 24.50 lakh to the forest department. The data also shows further pointed out that out of 670 hectares of forest land that fell prey to the raging infernos, 413 hectares were of reserved forest (RF) area, whereas 255 hectares of land belonged to civil soyam forest and van panchayat area. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ukhand-lost-670-ha-forest-land-to-551-wildfires-in-last-5-months-forest-dept/articleshow/81418062.cms  (09 March 2021)

इसलिए नहीं होनी चाहिए गैरसैंण राजधानी Arun Tiwari writes: समय आ गया है कि अब हां-ना के इस खेल पर विराम लगा दिया जाए। हक़ीक़त को प्रचार दिया जाए कि जनाकांक्षाओं के बावजूद गैरसैंण को स्थाई राजधानी तो क्या, मंडल बनाना भी क्यों अक़लमंदी नहीं है ? हक़ीक़त समझने के लिए समझना होगा कि रिचार्ज और डिस्चार्ज ज़ोन क्या होता है। https://www.satyahindi.com/uttarakhand/gairsain-capital-of-uttarakhand-117698.html  (28 March 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Climate change warms groundwater in Bavaria “Unlike the atmosphere, however, the earth’s sub-surface is very sluggish,” explains Professor Peter Bayer, a geoscientist at MLU and co-author of the study. Because the ground below the surface does not react to short-term temperature fluctuations and thus tends to reflect long-term trends, it is a good indicator of climate change. https://phys.org/news/2020-12-climate-groundwater-bavaria.html  (01 Dec. 2020)

SOUTH ASIA

IWT Talks resolve little, but raise hope for dialogue “The projects are in steep terrain, and there is the slight possibility of soil slippages. If that happens, the engineers may have to adjust the dam height for Pakal Dul or the dam width of Lower Kalnai,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

– In previous meetings of the PICs, Pakistan had objected to the designs of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai projects. It wanted the height of the Pakal Dul dam to be reduced by five metres from the planned 167 metres. It also wanted the dam to have wider spillways. After the 2018 meeting in Lahore, India invited Pakistani officials to visit Pakal Dul and other project sites, a visit that took place in February 2019. At this week’s meeting, the Pakistani delegation also sought details on two other run-of-the-river hydro projects – Darbuk (19 MW) and Nemochaling (24 MW).

– India had also stopped providing water flow data to Pakistan after the 2019 terrorist attack in Pulwama. This is of immediate concern to Pakistan because water flow data, especially during the monsoon, enables it to prepare for floods. The Pakistani delegation raised this issue this week and sought daily water flow data from July 1 to October 10 every year. An Indian bureaucrat said, “The data will be provided this year. I just hope there will be no incident that will vitiate the atmosphere and stop the data flow.”

– work on Lower Kalnai – in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir – was stalled for years until the government terminated the original construction contract in 2019 and started the process all over again. The company that had the original contract had gone bankrupt.

– Pakal Dul is a much larger project being built near Drangdhuran village in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir, at a cost of INR 8,112 crore (USD 1.1 billion). It is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2023. Quite apart from issues between India and Pakistan, the building of dams in the Himalayas by either country has almost always been opposed by locals displaced by the projects, as well as by environmentalists, who have repeatedly shown that none of the dam projects would pass a holistic cost-benefit analysis. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/regional-cooperation/indus-water-talks-resolve-little-but-raise-hope-for-dialogue/  (26 March 2021)

India justifies HPPs’ designs as Pakistan objects India has since cleared several hydropower projects for the region. Of these, Durbuk Shyok (19 MW), Shankoo (18.5 MW), Nimu Chilling (24 MW), Rongdo (12 MW), Ratan Nag (10.5 MW) are in Leh; and Mangdum Sangra (19 MW), Kargil Hunderman (25 MW) and Tamasha (12 MW) are Kargil. Both Leh and Kargil fall in Ladakh. Pakistan has sought information on these projects, sources added. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/india-justifies-designs-of-hydropower-projects-in-jammu-and-kashmir-as-pakistan-objects/81668382  (24 March 2021)

Pak delegation arrives in India for IWT talks  A Pakistan delegation arrived here on Monday (March 22) for a meeting of the Indus Water Commissioners on March 23 and 24 to discuss routine issues as well as New Delhi’s plans for a series of dams on River Chenab.

This will be the first meeting in over two as also the first after the reorganisation of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh into separate UTs and PM Modi’s announcement of several hydel projects in Ladakh UT. The Pakistan team will be led by its Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah and the Indian delegation by Indus Commissioner PK Saxena. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/pakistan-delegation-arrives-in-india-for-indus-water-talks-228950  (22 March 2021)

This article by Uttam Sinha as usual pushes for more dams on the rivers, unfortunately. It says: “The fact, however, remains that the provisions of the treaty entitled for India on the western rivers remain woefully unutilised both in terms of storage capacity and hydropower generation.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/india-must-leverage-the-indus-water-treaty-for-progress-101616423937635.html  (22 March 2021)

India Bangladesh PM assures Bangla oppsition party of inking Teesta water-sharing pact  PM Modi on Friday (March 26) told a delegation of Jatiya party leaders that he will do his best to ink a treaty with Bangladesh on water-sharing of Teesta and other common rivers. Modi came up with the assurance while meeting with a four-member delegation of Jatiya Party, the official Opposition party in Bangladesh. Although Khaleda Zia’s BNP is also an Opposition party, they were not part of the delegation. The delegation raised the longstanding issue of water-sharing of Teesta and other 54 common rivers with India and urged Modi to take effective measures to resolve the issue.

Bangladesh Opposition Leader Raushan Ershad, Deputy Leader of the Opposition G M Quader, Secretary-General of the party Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu and co-chairman Ruhul Amin Hawlader were present. “Discussions at the technical level are going on in this regard. We must sign the treaty,” Bablu quoted Modi as saying. “We have requested the Indian prime minister to introduce an on-arrival visa for Bangladeshi citizens, increasing people-to-people connectivity. We also urged him to increase scholarships for Bangladeshi students,” Quader told The Daily Star. Later, Modi announced scholarships for students.  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/pm-assures-bangla-oppn-party-of-inking-teesta-water-sharing-pact-7247305/  (27 March 2021)

Millions depend on Teesta waters: Hasina tells Modi Bangladesh on March 27 reiterated that the livelihood of “millions” of its citizens depended on the Teesta river and the country should receive a proper share of its waters. The forceful message on the issue was conveyed to PM Modi by his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina during bilateral talks at the end of a two-day visit by the Indian PM.

The two leaders also instructed their Ministries of Water Resources to firm up the Framework of Interim Agreement over the six common rivers — Monu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/millions-depend-on-teesta-waters-hasina-tells-modi/article34179390.ece  (27 March 2021)

The Teesta deal was set to be signed during the then PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in September, 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections raised by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee had expressed strong reservations against giving Bangladesh a greater share of water from the Teesta.

The two PMs directed the joint technical committee, formed for the purpose, to expeditiously commence the feasibility study of the Ganges-Padma barrage and other alternative options in Bangladesh for optimum utilisation of the Ganges waters received by Bangladesh as per the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, 1996. https://thewire.in/diplomacy/from-teesta-river-waters-to-trade-modi-visit-to-bangladesh-a-reminder-of-pending-projects (28 Mar 2021)

Damming Idea “However, the larger point is that too much hydro-power development is not a great idea in a fragile mountain scape… India needs to develop a multilateral response to this development, bringing on board Bhutan, Bangladesh. In this situation, India should be ready for being more pragmatic and long-sighted in Teesta water sharing…. ” https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/editorial/damming-idea/article34054889.ece  (12 March 2021)  

India Nepal Bangladesh Hydropower import deal on final stage Bangladesh, Nepal and India are on the final stage of a deal allowing Bangladesh to import hydropower from the Himalayan state, said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on March 23, 2021. Bangladesh signed an MoU with Nepal in 2018 to oversee investment, development and trade in hydroelectricity between the two countries. Under this arrangement, Bangladesh will import up to 9,000 MW of hydropower from Nepal by 2040. An official of the Power Division today told this correspondent that the power ministry has sent a power purchase agreement to the law ministry for vetting. Once done, this has to be endorsed by Nepal. Then, the issue of power grid needs to be settled with India as it has to be transmitted through India. https://www.thedailystar.net/southeast-asia/news/hydropower-import-bangladesh-nepal-and-india-final-stage-deal-2065557  (23 March 2021)

Opinion Himalayan blunders are ravaging ecology By Sanjoy Hazarika Over 300 dams are being built across the Himalaya, including in China. They pose a challenge to the future of the mountains. Hydro-projects mean that rivers are cleaned of their nutrients, critical for fish, dolphins and farmlands, and which are carried largely in soil and sediments in the water; otherwise, soil and stones would damage power-generating turbines. China has announced a mega project on Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, the lifeline of Assam and Bangladesh. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/himalayan-blunders-are-ravaging-ecology-228679  (22 March 2021)

Report What is the value of water in HKH? The challenge for us in the HKH region today on World Water Day 2021 is to consider afresh the critical role that water plays in our daily lives and in supporting living ecosystems Randall Ritzema  https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/climate/what-is-the-value-of-water-in-the-hindu-kush-himalayan-region/  (22 March 2021) 

Pakistan Surplus power generation capacity has come at a price  The country confronts steep electricity payments amidst persistent blackouts. Khurram Husain https://scroll.in/article/989919/pakistans-surplus-power-generation-capacity-has-come-at-a-price  (21 March 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Australia Flood plain encroachment in flood affected Hawkesbury river basin in NSW – “The Hawkesbury Nepean valley is very dangerous, very flood prone because there are some geographical choke points that cause large floods to back up over some of the inhabited areas,” Jamie Pittock from the Australian National University said. “When you build this kind of flood control infrastructure, it only encourages more development in harm’s way, and indeed that is what’s been proposed in Western Sydney.” There has been rapid urbanisation in the area, with about 70,000 residents currently living on the flood plain. The state government plans to move 130,000 more people into the area by 2050. “That’s a really silly idea,” Professor Pittock said. “I would argue that the best approach is to prevent development on the flood plains … use that land for agriculture, and recreation and nature conservation. But don’t put more houses there.”

– State Emergency Service planner and former deputy commissioner Chas Keys is also opposed to raising the dam wall, saying the government should instead focus on evacuation routes and slowing down population growth in the area. “There is a capacity in places like Windsor to kill heroic numbers of people because they won’t be able to be got out in time,” he said. “That means that you should be focusing in my view on evacuation routes, building up roads so that they are above all of the very worst floods and they buy time to get people out.”  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-22/nsw-weather-ministers-warragamba-dam-stoush-amid-flooding/100020672  (22 March 2021)

‘1-in-100-yrs’ flood talk disastrously misleading & should change: Risk experts “Brisbane had two 100-year floods within a fortnight in 1893,” said environmental historian Margaret Cook from the University of the Sunshine Coast. In 1893, La Niña helped break a drought that had gripped the then colony of Queensland. Brisbane received over a metre of rain in February alone, triggering a series of floods.  They remain Brisbane’s second and third biggest recorded floods. The devastating Brisbane flood of 2011 was also in a La Niña year. Incredibly, that was only Brisbane’s seventh biggest flood.

– “We know that short-duration, extreme rain events — those dumps of rain we get in the space of half an hour or an hour — there’s evidence to say that those are getting more intense,” Dr King said. He said that was partly related to the amount of water the lower atmosphere could hold increasing by about 7 per cent for every degree Celsius of warming.  And the Australian climate has warmed by 1.4 degrees since 1910.  In other words, more water in warmer air leads to more rain and more floods.

– Dr King says storms like those NSW just experienced require more than increased moisture-holding capacity. They need very particular weather patterns and for those patterns to stay in place for a while. “We don’t really know how weather patterns are changing,” he said. “It doesn’t appear that they’re changing a huge amount, but it’s quite hard to tell.  “Our computer models probably don’t do a great job of accurately simulating these kind of weather patterns. So it’s really hard to tell how climate change is affecting them.”  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-28/one-in-100-years-flood-talk-misleading/100030144  (28 March 2021)

Western Sydney ‘greatest concern’ as more rain falls  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.

– Western Sydney is now the “greatest concern” from the worst floods in decades to have ravaged eastern Australia, PM Scott Morrison says. Parts of New South Wales have seen almost 1m (3.2ft) of rain, flooding hundreds of homes and severing roads. Mr Morrison warned of more rain and days of danger to come as the emergency became not “just a coastal event”. He said Sydney’s largest dam would overflow for at least another week, threatening highly populated areas. Warragamba Dam discharged 500 gigalitres on Sydney – equivalent to the volume of Sydney Harbour. “We advise that the rain and flood situation does remain dynamic and extremely complex,” Mr Morrison said on Tuesday (March 23). https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-56485246  (23 March 2021)

Warragamba Dam: would a higher wall have prevented Sydney flooding? As flood water spills into the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, NSW’s plan to increase the reservoir’s height by 17 metres has come to the fore. But experts say it won’t reduce flood risk when it really buckets. Scientific analysis suggests it would not necessarily lead to a lower maximum flood height.

– The dam was at about 97% capacity before the extraordinary rain of the past week. Since Sunday it has been spilling into the Nepean River at a rate of up to 500bn litres a day. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/23/warragamba-dam-would-a-higher-wall-have-prevented-sydney-flooding  (23 March 2021)

Evacuations ordered at Beaudesert as the Logan River reaches major flood levels Areas in Queensland also affected in Australian heavy rainfall. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state had received a “phenomenal” amount of rain, and major flood levels were predicted for the Logan and Albert rivers. “These past three days, much of south-east and western Queensland has been subject to an extreme weather event — a rain bomb that will continue for at least another day,” she said.

“I am advised that supplies to our dams have increased to 59.8 per cent. It is particularly pleasing to see water flowing into Stanthorpe’s Storm King dam. “I am advised at this stage forecasts are unlikely to require releases from Wivenhoe, Somerset or North Pine dams.” On Tuesday afternoon, SEQ Water said 11 dams were spilling over, including the Hinze Dam, which was running at 114 per cent capacity. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-23/queensland-floods-2021-landslips-heavy-rain/100021764  (23 March 2021)

Interesting: “15-Day River Convoy Calls For Healthier River-flows & Waterways: At 3:pm on April 16, 2021, many boats of all descriptions will launch into the 47-kilometer-long weir-pool at Menindee in Western NSW. This action is to demonstrate deep and growing concerns for the water management practices that have almost destroyed The Darling/Baaka River and The Menindee Lakes.” https://www.facebook.com/Darling-Baarka-River-Convoy-136243708266211/

Study Rivers breathing GHGs The reason being, “rivers receive large inputs of carbon and nitrogen from the landscapes they drain”, says Sophie Comer-Warner, a biogeochemist and research fellow at University of Birmingham. “It used to be thought that rivers just transported these elements to the ocean, but we now know that they have high rates of biogeochemical reactivity.”

-In other words, the various forms of carbon and nitrogen the microbes receive are broken down into other forms, usually through aerobic or anaerobic respiration, which release CO2 and may also release methane and N2O. “To some extent rivers acting as a source of CO2 and other greenhouse emissions to the atmosphere is a natural part of the ecosystem,” says Comer-Warner. “However, emissions are likely to become higher due to the condition or health of rivers.”

-For urban rivers in particular, higher emissions are becoming a growing problem. In some cases, urban rivers have been found to emit four times more than of the amount of greenhouse gases than rivers in natural sites. When the river water quality deteriorated from acceptable to polluted, the concentration of CO2 and CH4 in the rivers increased tenfold while N2O concentrations were boosted by 15 times – Long Tuan Ho. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210323-climate-change-the-rivers-that-breathe-greenhouse-gases  (24 March 2021)

UN Failure of govts to value water leading to widespread waste The failure of govts around the world to place a clear value on water is leading to widespread water waste, shortages and high prices for poor and vulnerable people, the UN has warned. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/22/failure-of-governments-to-value-water-leading-to-widespread-waste-un-says  (22 March 2021)

Report Electrified Rivers and Other Attempts to Save the Environment  “The electric fish barriers, the concrete crevasse, the fake cavern, the synthetic clouds — these were presented to me less in a spirit of techno-optimism than what might be called techno-fatalism,” Kolbert writes in the last pages of her book. The overall sense you get after reading “Under a White Sky” is that as much as we fixate on technical issues, we have been trying to ignore the existential one. As Samuel Beckett put it in “Endgame,” “You’re on earth, there’s no cure for that.” https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/10/books/review-under-white-sky-elizabeth-kolbert.html  (10 Feb. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 22 March 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 15 March 2021  

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

4 thoughts on “DRP NB 29 March 2021: Better options exist to resolve water scarcity

  1. Kindly send me some publications on the environmental, social and health impacts of large dams. What would be the impact of extreme heatwave temperatures on the concrete structure of the large dams? Thank you, F H Mughal

    Like

  2. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/india-farmers-water-supplies-irrigation-mgnrega-conserve-water-catch-the-rain-campaign-7249646/

    Drip irrigation as has been suggested by the author might work in favour of farmers where water is scarce.
    A mix crop or rotation of crops can also be practiced for better management of water and the farmers can be incentivised for saving water.

    Participatory management of natural resources is the best in our country where 70 percent area is rural. Locals, villagers and tribal people are not as dumb as they are often mistaken. If our government truly cares for them and us.

    Like

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