A Supreme Court appointed Appeal Forum, appointed as per the SC order in 2012 has directed the Madhya Pradesh (MP) Govt to provide minimum 2 ha land to every displaced family as per the policy. This has raised hopes for just rehabilitation for the thousands of people displaced by the Maan dam in Dhar district of MP by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA). This is a major victory for the three decades long struggle of the affected people, led by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). The Forum has asked the govt to provide land to the affected in three months. The dam has been constructed on Maan river, a tributary of Narmada. One hopes the displaced get the justice soon as per the orders of the SC appointed appeal forum. Salutes to NBA for this. One hope the Supreme Court will ensure this happens in a just and expeditious way.
Madhya Pradesh मान सिंचाई परियोजना विस्थापितों को 30 साल बाद न्याय मिला https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/bhopal-bhopal-news-migrants-getting-relief-from-human-irrigation-project-got-justice-after-30-years-6789133 (2 April 2021)
FROM DRP ARCHIVES: The Oct Nov 2009 issue of “Dams, Rivers & People” carried this article on Maan Dam by Rahul Banerjee:
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
Sikkim Resolution of stressed Rangit IV hydel power proj complete: PFC “Power Finance Corporation (PFC) as lead FI (Financial Institution) and PNB as co-lender of the consortium, completes successful resolution of a stressed asset – 4×30 MW Rangit-IV HEP (Hydroelectric Project) of Jal Power Corporation Ltd (JPCL) and handed over the project to NHPC Ltd on March 31, 2021,” it said in a statement. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/resolution-of-stressed-rangit-iv-hydel-power-proj-complete-says-pfc/81809851 (01 April 2021)
Gujarat Narmada downstream dries up as Riverbed Powerhouse shuts The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) has shut down the 1200 MW capacity Riverbed Powerhouse (RBPH) of the Sardar Sarovar dam from April 1 as the level of the dam lowered to 125.57 meters from its maximum capacity of 138.68 metres.
– Along with the closure of the RBPH, the SSNNL also opened the gates of the Garudeshwar Weir, located 12 kilometres downstream of the dam, thus causing the river to dry. The RBPH, after generating power, releases the water downstream, which is then held by the Garudeshwar Weir to allow the Ekta Cruise of the Statue of Unity to run. The closure of the RBPH would also mean a break from the cruise service.
– In a statement on Thursday, RD Bhatt Additional Collector, Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Authority (SoUTA), said that the suspension of the Ekta Cruise has been “planned” in advance in order to also allow the work to commence on the development of the Narmada riverbank from Shoolpaneshwar temple to Tyagi ghat as the ‘Narmada Ghat’ on the lines of the ghats along the River Ganga in Varanasi, where evening prayers are offered. The statement said, “The Ekta Cruise has been functional continuously for six months and it is necessary to give it a break for maintenance work. The summer is the suitable time since it has been decided that from March 29 to April 15, less water will be released downstream to maintain the level of the river at 26 meters. The Ekta cruise bookings closed for this period in advance as it was reserved for maintenance activity.” https://indianexpress.com/article/india/narmada-downstream-dries-up-as-riverbed-powerhouse-shuts-7254918/ (02 April 2021)
Jammu & Kashmir Govt Clears Transfer of Land for Ujh Project Setting aside grave environmental concerns, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has set the ball rolling to transfer forest land for the Ujh multipurpose project in the Jammu region. The Rs 9,167 crore project is being constructed Ujh, a tributary of the Ravi river, for which 4,350 ha of land has been identified by the J&K administration in Jammu’s Kathua district.
– “The project has got Stage 1 forest clearance. We (forest department) will divert 680 ha while the rest is state and private land,” said chief conservator of forests (CCF), Jammu, K. Ramesh Kumar. Officials said 621 ha of the forest land being diverted and over 3000 ha of the total land being acquired for the project would be submerged by the 116-m high dam to be built near Kathua’s Deoli village. Over two lakh trees have been marked by field officers in Billawar, Kathua and Samba forest divisions that will be axed for the project, the govt of India’s forest advisory committee noted last year. The project will have 212 MW hydropower capacity, irrigate 31380 ha land and provide 20 cusecs drinking water for Kathua and Samba districts.
– In a report, the J&K government told the Centre that 44% of the Ujh project’s catchment area of 14,14,700 ha in the Billawar division falls under the “high erosion category” which will increase sedimentation in the river. “It is not good for hydropower generation. Due to high sedimentation, there will be an increase in siltation in the dam,” said professor R.K. Ganjoo, who is a professor at the Department of Geology at the University of Jammu. https://thewire.in/government/jammu-kashmir-ujh-multipurpose-project-forest-land-transfer-environemnt-concerns (03 April 2021)
SANDRP Blog Aging Bhimtal Dam Raising Serious Safety Concerns All is not well with Bhimtal dam in Nainital district, Uttarakhand. On March 8, 2021 morning, the fillers from its protection wall wobbled out. It sparked panic among local residents living near the largest lake of Kumaon region. For past couple of years they have been concerned about the structural safety of the aging dam. The 138 years old dam has already been in news for vertical cracks and recurring seepages. https://sandrp.in/2021/04/01/uttarakhand-aging-bhimtal-dam-raising-serious-safety-concerns/ (01 April 2021)
भीमताल थाने के पास झील का जलस्तर लगातार गिर रहा है। ऐसे में झील मैदान में तब्दील होने लगी है। साथ ही झील में गंदगी भी दिखाई दे रही है।
-झील की क्षतिग्रस्त दीवार की मरम्मत के लिए भी पानी छोड़ा जा रहा है। इससे पर्यटन कारोबारी परेशान हैं। उनका कहना है कि यदि इसी तरह से मार्च में झील का पानी कम होता रहा तो जून में क्या हालात होंगे। इसे लेकर क्षेत्रवासी भी चिंतित हैं। हालांकि, सिंचाई विभाग के अधिकारी झील की टूटी हुई सुरक्षा दीवार की मरम्मत और फसलों की सिंचाई के लिए पानी छोड़ने की बात कह रहे हैं। https://www.amarujala.com/uttarakhand/nainital/drought-eclipse-on-the-beauty-of-bhimtal-lake-bhimtal-news-hld4193197128 (24 March 2021)
Kerala ‘Rule curve violated at major dams’ No rule curve was followed at major dams in the state, including Idukki, during the 2018 August floods, said a study report by Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. If the rule curve was followed, the dams would have been able to hold the entire volume of water, the report added. The study report was prepared as per directions from the comptroller and auditor general (CAG).
The report also pointed out that there was negligence in operations of Mullaperiyar dam during the flood period. According to sources, the contribution from Mullaperiyar dam to the inflows at Idukki dam during August 14-18, 2018, was 2.58%, 27.93%, 36.92%, 30.32% and 35.95%, respectively. Mullapperiyar dam had a negligible flow on August 14, but its contribution to the inflows at Idukki reservoir was significant at over 25% during August 15-18, said the report. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/rule-curve-violated-at-major-dams/articleshow/81786467.cms (01 April 2021)
Polavaram Project NGT team inspects Polavaram dump yard A high-level committee appointed by NGT visited the Polavaram project on Tuesday (March 30) to take stock of the environmental issues, particularly of the dumping yard close to a residential area. The panel, led by former high court judge Justice B Seshasayana Reddy, sought all details from revenue and irrigation officials about measures initiated for disposal of project waste.
Senior officials at the site told the committee that they had acquired 203 acres of land in 2016 to set up a dumping yard close to project site. They said compensation has been paid to all but 98 land owners who refused to accept the amount fixed by government. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/ngt-team-inspects-polavaram-dump-yard/articleshow/81765471.cms (31 March 2021)
As some affected farmers had got compensation while others did not, the panel members asked for details of those who have failed in getting relief and reasons for the delay in making payments to them. They also inquired from forest officials whether there is a proposal to develop a plantation at the dump yard to minimise its impact on the environment. Panel members will hold a public hearing on Wednesday (March 31) morning at the government high school grounds in Polavaram village on the dump yard and its impact on people and the environment. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/300321/panel-inspects-dump-yard-at-polavaram-project-site.html (31 March 2021)
During the discussion on spillway and cofferdam works, it was opined that constructing cofferdam before completing spillway delayed the works. It was opined that even cofferdam works were left incomplete, resulting in gaps and this led to the floods in the river at the project site at a discharge rate of 13 meters per second.
Officials said floods at such high velocity led to erosion at Gap 1 and Gap 2, which in turn created several problems in construction of the spill channel. They said they are now completely focusing on these issues.
The project engineers and water resources department officials made it clear that there was never a scope for the reduction in height of the project. They said the Central Water Commission and Union Ministry of Water Resources have made it clear that there were no discussions or meetings on the issue and rule out any scope for such a meeting in future. As per the project design at the set height, shutters (gates) are being fixed, they added.
Jagan also reviewed the inter-linking of rivers and instructed the officials to prepare proposals from the state to be submitted to the Centre. He wants those proposals to be such that interests of the State are safeguarded. The proposals for inter-linking of rivers were discussed in view of the Centre’s proposals for interlinking Mahanadhi, Godavari, Krishna, Penna and Kaveri rivers. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/mar/02/coffer-dam-works-to-be-completed-by-may-end-no-change-in-height-2270904.html (02 March 2021)
Telangana Kaleshwaram water reaches Upper Manair Dam With the arrival of Kaleshwaram water at the Upper Manair Dam (UMD) in Gambhiraopet mandal, farmers are in a celebratory mood. As the water level in the UMD touched 1.4 tmcft as against its capacity of 2.2 tmcft, irrigation officials released water into the left canal of the dam on Saturday (April 3). Executive Engineer A Amarender Reddy said that the water would feed Venkatadri, Singasamudram and Pedda Cheruvu canals. “Since these canals were not being used, they are covered with weeds. After cleaning these out, restoration service to improve water flow in the canal has begun,” he said.
About 13,086 acres of land under UMD ayacut is in Gambhiraopet and Yellareddypet mandals. Elated farmers see this as a summer gift and have begun cleaning out weeds in the canals on their own. It may be recalled that the UMD was to initially receive water from Package 9 of the Kaleshwaram Lift irrigation Scheme (KLIS) through Mid Manair Dam via the Malakpet reservoir. However, since the work there is still in progress, MAUD Minister KT Rama Rao directed authorities to divert water from Package 10 of Konda Pochamma Sagar canal through Kudavelli vagu. Konda Pochamma Sagar receives water from Mid Manair, Annapurna pumphouse and Ananthagiri reservoir. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/apr/04/telangana-kaleshwaram-water-reaches-upper-manair-dam-ryots-rejoice-2285482.html (04 April 2021)
Uttar Pradesh -CWC on March 26 has signed MOU with Irrigation & Water Resources Department, Uttar Pradesh for Design Consultancy and preparation of DPR of proposed Ayodhya Barrage across river Saryu (Ghaghra) at Ayodhya. https://www.psuconnect.in/news/CWC-and-IWRD-UP-signed-MoU-DPR-of-proposed-Ayodhya-Barrage/27168/
INTERLINKING OF RIVERS
Song to Save Ken River, Panna District and Bundelkhand. People of Panna are opposing the destructive Ken Betwa River Link Project. https://youtu.be/HjeJqMq17mo
Ken Betwa Linking Clearances pending; but govt to begin construction this year? Oblivious of the various pending clearances (he says 99% are done!) the MP minister says the work on Ken Betwa Project will start this year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/madhya-pradesh-amidst-protests-ken-betwa-project-may-begin-this-year/articleshow/81874854.cms (02 April 2021)
“The project does not have all the necessary clearances and cannot proceed,” says Ritwik Dutta, an advocate representing petitioner Manoj Mishra, based on whose complaint the Supreme Court had sought a report from the CEC. “We will move the court for [another] hearing if project implementation begins.” https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/up-front/story/20210412-the-ken-betwa-battleground-1786761-2021-04-03 (03 April 2021)
The government does not put out the discharge data of trans-boundary rivers on grounds of national security. Apart from the environment and ecological challenges, the link itself is on weak legal grounds. The three key clearances — forest, environment, and wildlife — are missing.
Thakkar said the project would need a fresh detailed report and a landscape management plan. Several experts are of the view that local irrigation means should be exhausted before the government embarks on such a mammoth project. Agarwal points to two local irrigation programmes — Apna taalab abhiyan in Banda by Pushpendra Bhai and Awartansheel Kheti by Prem Singh. The two, when combined, propagate the idea rainwater should be harvested and organic farming practised. This entails creating lakes and producing local cereals, crops, and fruit. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/ken-betwa-linking-project-for-want-of-water-a-river-may-be-lost-121033000563_1.html (31 March 2021)
How villagers in drought prone Bundelkhand revived this river using MGNREGA funds Odi starts at a place called Madawara, in Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Before it empties its water at the reservoir of the Jamni dam. But in this journey, Odi also satiates the water requirements of eight villages. Work on reviving the stream began in 2018. It was completely funded by money from MGNREGA. The villagers along with an NGO drew up a three-stepped plan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc2ySdzYdtI (30 March 2021)
Gujarat Narmada canal broke 100 times in last 2 yrs: Govt The Narmada canal broke 100 times during 2019 (41 times) and 2020 (59) in Banaskanta district of North Gujarat, the state government said on Apr 1, 2021 in a written reply to a question asked by Congress MLA Gulabsinh Rajput during the Question Hour. In 72 cases, the cost of repairing the canal was recovered from 10 contractors. The highest number of such recovery (30 cases) was from Jalaram Project Pvt Ltd, the government stated. The firm was also fined in six cases. In 13 cases, where farmers suffered crop loss a total of Rs 2.42 lakh was given as compensation.
– In response to a different question asked by Congress MLA Ritvik Makwana about the status of construction of Narmada canals, the government stated that 7,729 kilometers of canal network was yet to be built. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/narmada-canal-broke-100-times-in-last-2-yrs-gujarat-govt-7254991/ (02 April 2021)
50% of the breaches happened in Vav Taluka alone. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/narmada-project-11-of-canal-work-still-incomplete/articleshow/81862681.cms (02 April 2021)
Mithi; Mumbai Landfilling near River poses huge flood risk: Activists Environmentalist Sanjeev Valsan has also filed a police complaint against the ongoing landfilling. “It is sad to see landfilling is underway on five acres of land that is a floodplain and also the catchment area of Mithi River. This land is between old Aarey forest nursery at Marol toll naka and JVLR. There is a huge flood risk due to landfilling. Who is doing this? Does the Aarey CEO know about this?” “Our sources in the Aarey CEO office have said that a fuel station is coming up on the plot. We think that the CEO office has given approval to the project…” Valsan added. Activist Stalin D from NGO Vanashakti has written a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking his intervention to stop the landfilling work.
“The entire catchment on the SEEPZ side of Aarey is being buried… Please pay serious attention to the conservation of Aarey. Moving the Metro car shed out of Aarey was no doubt important, but to allow the rest of Aarey to be destroyed is not in tune with the conservation [promises],” Stalin stated in his letter. “Please…protect the remaining ecology of the Aarey forests and Mithi river,” the letter further read. Nathu Rathod, the chief executive officer of Aarey Milk Colony, said, “A plot measuring 200X200 square feet was handed over to the Indian Oil Corporation in 2016 and they are carrying out levelling work right now. It will be wrong to say that this is a fresh allotment of land.” https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/landfilling-near-mithi-river-at-aarey-poses-huge-flood-risk-environmental-activists-23166398 (01 April 2021) https://www.mumbailive.com/en/environment/environmentalists-warn-of-flood-risk-due-to-landfilling-near-mithi-river-at-aarey-63310 (01 April 2021)
Mula-Mutha; Pune Delay in cleaning project pushes up cost by over 50% The National River Conservation Directorate of the Union government had given its go-ahead for the project in 2016. Of the original estimate cost of Rs 990.26 crore, the Centre was to provide 85 per cent of the funding by taking a soft loan from Japan Industrial Cooperation Agency (JICA). As per the agreement with the Union government, Rs 841.72 crore (85 per cent of Rs 990.26 crore) was to come from the Centre, while the remaining amount had to be raised by the civic body. The delay in implementation of a project to curb pollution in Mula and Mutha rivers has hiked the project cost to Rs 1,511.34 crore from the Rs 990.26 crore estimated in 2016.
Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar said the PMC needed to make budgetary provisions to contribute some money for the project considering the increased project cost. According to civic administration, the construction cost had increased by Rs 305 crore and there is addition of another Rs 216.08 crore for its maintenance and repair, which has taken the overall project cost to Rs 1,511.34 crore. The PMC had estimated expenditure of Rs 764.40 crore for construction of STPs and laying sewage lines in riverside and central part of city and got approval in 2015. However, the revised estimate has increased its cost to Rs 1,080.02 crore. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-mula-mutha-river-project-cost-increases-7253928/ (01 April 2021)
Apra, Bilaspur Riverfront: ‘Devaluing’ water, environment The politicisation and scientisation of the riverfront development projects are very much part of the India’s water agenda now. How are the policy makers making such promises and how are the planners/architects endorsing as well as ensuring such promises without much established facts? It is more about the perception of valuing water, as the perception is sold in the political arena and bought by the urban populace?
The rush to riverfront projects is more in the last decade after the completion and public/political appreciation of the Sabarmati Riverfront Development in Ahmedabad which is kind of a model project for the country. There lies a warning for other riverfront development projects in considering Sabarmati Riverfront as a model development without judiciously learning and adapting from its social-ecological and institutional impacts. A mere copy-paste of the concretisation model of the Sabarmati is likely to end up with similar impacts as that of in Ahmedabad city and the villages of the upstream and downstream of the river. https://www.counterview.net/2021/04/chhattisgarhs-apra-riverfront-imitates.html (2 Apr 2021)
Sabarmati, Ahmedabad RFD phase 2 in the offing The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, in its draft budget for 2021-22, has set aside Rs 1,050 crore for the Sabarmati River Front Development phase 2, work on which is to begin soon. Here is what the project seeks to achieve.
-By channelling the river to a constant width of 263 m along the part that passes Ahmedabad city, 204 hectares have been reclaimed along the 11-km stretch of the Sabarmati Riverfront in the first phase of the project, on both the banks. This land is excluding the Central Business District (CBD) area of 126 hectares. The reclaimed land includes roads, both upper and lower promenades, as well as the land to be developed. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-is-the-sabarmati-river-front-development-project-what-it-seeks-to-achieve-7249497/ (30 March 2021)
Musi; Hyderabad River water unfit even for agriculture Water of Musi river is unfit even for irrigation, said researchers from Osmania University’s Centre Of Exploration Geophysics who made a recent study of the water quality. The researchers tested groundwater samples in the 60 km stretch of the river from Peerzadiguda on the city outskirts to Valigonda, where the Musi meets River Krishna, and found that till a depth of 40 metres the DO and BOD were way beyond prescribed parameters, due to the very high levels of contamination.
Researchers have noticed that indiscriminate disposal of urban and industrial wastewater into open nalas (drains) or other water bodies has been common practice in the agglomerated metropolis of Hyderabad. This has a negative impact on the plants, animals and human life and also the agrarian produce, they stressed. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/300321/musi-water-unfit-even-for-agriculture.html (30 March 2021)
Gomti; Lucknow करोड़ों लीटर गंदा पानी जज़्ब करती गोमती नदी गंगा की सहायक नदी गोमती प्रदूषण का दंश झेल रही है। गोमती में करीब 68 नालों का गंदा पानी घुल रहा है। लखनऊ और सीतापुर जैसे छोटे-बड़े शहरों का करोड़ों लीटर गंदा पानी रोज इस नदी में गिराया जाता है।
गोमती प्रदूषण नियंत्रण इकाई ने साल 2019 में ‘नमामी गंगे’ के तहत तीन सीवेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट बनाने का प्रस्ताव केंद्र सरकार को भेजा। हालांकि 2 साल बाद भी इसपर कोई काम नहीं हुआ है। विशेषज्ञों के मुताबिक गोमती में प्रदूषण की स्थिति ऐसी ही बनी रही तो जल्द ही यह नदी नाले में तब्दील हो जाएगी। https://hindi.mongabay.com/2021/04/05/gangas-tributary-gomti-is-converting-to-nullah/ (05 April 2021)
Report Drones to Clean up Rivers? Seems most unlikely considering the state of India’s rivers. https://www.fastcompany.com/90618192/these-drones-look-for-trash-in-waterways-and-then-send-sailing-drones-to-clean-it-up (30 March 2021)
Odisha Villagers skip Holi demanding revival of river Led by eminent cardiologist, Dr PC Rath, the convenor of ‘Save Suku Paika’ campaign, residents of Bodhapur gram panchayat did not celebrate Holi this year. They have decided to observe ‘Chuli Bandh’ (no cooking in every household) from 7 am to 7 pm on April 22 and organise ‘Jalabhisheka’ by lifting water from Mahanadi and pouring it into the dry Suku Paika river on May 16. On June 7, farmers and fishermen of the locality would take out a rally to the local tehsil office and stage demonstration over the issue.
“All protests and agitations will organised in a peaceful manner to press the government for revival of the dead Suku Paika river which vital for the lives and livelihood of 10 lakh people,” said general secretary of ‘Save Suku Paika’ campaign Swarup Rath. The Suku Paika river which originated from the Mahanadi at Ayatpur village in Cuttack, ran its course for 27 km only to rejoin the parent river at Bankola near Tarapur. The river’s course covered 425 villages of 26 gram panchayats in Cuttack Sadar, Nischintakoili and Raghunathpur blocks.
In 1950s, the State government had blocked the originating point of the river with an embankment, completely disconnecting it from Mahanadi, to check floods without considering its consequence on environment in future. Since then the river has been lying dead. It gets filled up only during monsoon.
The dried river has an adverse effect on environment, people and their livelihood in the localities. It has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes leading to rise in diseases like malaria, dengue and diarrhoea in the area. The environmental disaster and health hazard is affecting about 10 lakh people living along the river belt. The locals have been campaigning for the river’s reconnection with Mahanadi since 2016. Cases too have been filed in Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and NGT by the residents. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/mar/31/villagers-skip-holi-demanding-revival-of-river-2283858.html (31 March 2021)
Arunachal Pradesh Under-construction bridge over Kumey river collapses In a major setback in the effort to connect Tali ADC headquarters in Kra Daadi district by road, the under-construction steel arch bridge over the Kumey river at Kuwa Camp on the Gangte-Tali road reportedly collapsed on Sunday (March 29) evening. The bridge is funded under the cabinet committee infrastructure of the state plan, with an amount of Rs 1,368.16 lakhs under the Tali PWD division. The work is being executed by M/s Vivek Enterprise; the supply of steel parts is being done by Guwahati (Assam)-based M/s KP Construction. The bridge’s completion deadline is 13 November, 2022. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2021/03/31/under-construction-bridge-over-kumey-river-collapses/ (31 March 2021)
Gujarat Rivers highly toxic In a letter to the chairman and member-secretary, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Government of India’s anti-pollution watchdog, and to officials its Gujarat counterpart, senior environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), have said that one of the state’s biggest rivers, Mahisagar, which flows off the state’s cultural capital Vadodara, has turned into “disaster in motion.” https://www.counterview.net/2021/03/gujarat-rivers-highly-toxic-discharge.html (28 March 2021)
GANGA Uttarakhand Monks on hunger strike Yet out of sight of the pilgrims, two Hindu monks are on hunger strike in an attempt to protect the holy, but increasingly threatened, river. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/culture/monks-on-hunger-strike-for-the-ganga/ (30 March 2021)
A letter from the director-general of National Mission for Clean Ganga, Rajeev Ranjan Mishra, was handed to Swami Shivanand Saraswati by Ganga Vichar Manch national convener Bharat Pathak at Matri Sadan ashram. Soon after reading the letter, the seer broke his three-week-long agitation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/dehradun-news/matri-sadan-founder-gives-up-agitation-on-ganga-after-assurance-by-mission-director-101617377885141.html (02 April 2021)
YAMUNA Haryana Increasing E-flow Can Lead to ‘Environmental Disaster’: Govt A study conducted by the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee had earlier recommended that 23 cubic metre per second (cumec) water be released in the river from the Hathnikund barrage in Haryana’s Yamuna Nagar district instead of 10 cumecs in January and February (lean season) for sustaining downstream ecosystems.
“The State is already releasing 10 cumecs of Yamuna water from Hathnikund barrage on a daily basis as per the MoU of 1994. Further, this MoU can be revisited after 2025 if any of the partner States so desire,” the Haryana government said in its response submitted to the NGT recently. The State is “completely in disagreement” with the recommendations of NIH to increase the quantum of e-flow as its implementation can cause an “environmental disaster” in Haryana, it said.
The Haryana government has also taken up the matter with the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) and urged it “not to accept the NIH report in this regard”. Based on the report, the NGT-appointed Yamuna Monitoring Committee had last year recommended revisiting the 1994 water-sharing agreement between Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi to ensure environmental flow in the river throughout the year.
The NIH report had said 26 cumecs, 29 cumecs, 34 cumecs and 44 cumecs water should be released in the river in March, April, May and June, respectively. At present, 10 cumecs is being released in the river in March, April and May and 18 cumecs in June.
A minimum release of 158 cumecs, 220 cumecs and 149 cumecs is recommended in July, August and September instead of 275 cumecs, 298 cumecs and 160 cumecs, the report had said. Based on the NIH report, the panel had said the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Upper Yamuna River Board and the riparian states should ensure release of 44 cumecs, 27 cumecs and 24 cumecs water in the river from the barrage in October, November and December, respectively.
The NIH report had also recommended reduction in diversions to WYC and EYC by increasing irrigation efficiency in their command areas. At present, 78.5 per cent and 13 per cent of inflows at the Hathnikund barrage are diverted to WYC command and EYC command during non-monsoon season. Thus, only a meagre 8.5 per cent of inflows are released into the river. “Regulate groundwater withdrawal in the basin, especially in the Mawi-Baghpat stretch and augment groundwater recharge to sustain baseflows,” the report had said. https://www.news18.com/news/india/increasing-e-flow-for-delhi-stretch-of-yamuna-can-lead-to-environmental-disaster-haryana-govt-3284015.html (13 Jan. 2021)
Delhi Cleaning work facing delays According to a government statement, out of the four drains, the work on interception of two major drains supplementary and Shahdara is almost complete. “The untreated water from the supplementary drain will be completely tapped and treated by December 2021. The untreated water from the Shahdara drain will be completely tapped in the next few months. The remaining two major drains Najafgarh and Barapulla will be completed within the stipulated deadline,” the statement noted.
While stressing upon completion of projects before the scheduled timeline, Kejriwal also directed the officials to ensure that no untreated wastewater flows into the river and instructed them to have a detailed plan ready by next week, wherein every project is scrutinised as per the revised timelines. The chief minister also reviewed the flagship project of septic tank cleaning in unauthorised colonies of Delhi. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2021/apr/02/cm-kejriwal-unhappy-over-delay-in-yamuna-cleaning-works-2284794.html (02 April 2021)
FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS
Study 1 in 4 fish species in Narmada & Indus basins will be at risk If global temperatures had the least projected rise of 1.5°C by the end of the century, the warmer waters would affect more than half of the habitat of about 4% of freshwater fish species in the world. But in some major river basins of India, the impact could be greater, putting about 25% of species at risk, the first study on the impact of climate change on freshwater aquatic life has found.
“We also found that increases in water temperature might play a much bigger role than altered stream flows in threatening fish habitats in the future. Also, we noticed that impacts of climate change in tropical areas might be as severe as or even greater than in temperate regions, different from what previous studies found,” lead author Dr Valerio Barbarossa told TOI.
For instance, fish species in highly biodiverse rivers, with more than 100 riverine fish species, like the Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Indus, Ganges will report different threat levels. “In a scenario of 1.5°C warming, almost a quarter of riverine species in the Narmada or the Indus will have their habitat threatened by altered flow and water temperature extremes,” Barbarossa said. “The Ganges, the richest in fish species among the Indian basins … reported lowest overall average PAF (potentially affected fraction, or the ratio of species that will be affected to the total number of species). However, by hosting more species (454 in the dataset), it might be that more species are threatened by climate change there than in the Indus.”
In fact, their study found that the India-Pakistan river basins will be among hotspots of future climate threat with both high warming levels (3.2°C and 4.5°C) and low warming levels (1.5°C and 2°C). The magnitude of impact, however, will vary greatly. “Fish species in these river systems will greatly benefit from limiting global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C rather than the higher scenarios of 3.2°C. For instance, the average affected fraction of freshwater fish species might more than double with a 3.2°C scenario compared to a 2°C model,” Barbarossa said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/in-a-world-warmer-by-1-5c-1-in-4-fish-species-in-narmada-indus-basins-will-be-at-risk/articleshow/81726646.cms (27 March 2021)
Report Hilsa set to travel upstream Farakka? Pure Propaganda news, possibly floated in view of Bengal elections. With lots of inaccuracies and falsehoods. A new navigation lock is in the making at the Farakka barrage. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) had contracted L&T Geo Structure for the new Farakka navigation lock in Murshidabad district, as a part the Jal Marg Vikas Pariyojana, and said it will try to make arrangement to allow passage of the hilsa to upstream of the barrage. The movement stopped due to the barrage and faulty fish pass designed earlier since 1976. The new lock is still under construction, likely to be completed by June at a cost of Rs 361 Cr. The report says “due to the inefficiency of the existing navigation lock gate at Farakka” the movement of fish stopped. CIFRI, quotes in the report, is majorly responsible for the failure of the existing fish pass and has abysmally poor track record in its work for inland fish conservation. If the same body is working on the new effort, there is little chance of success. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/mar/31/prized-hilsa-fish-set-to-travel-upstream-in-ganges-after-four-decades-2283996.html (31 March 2021) Same covered here. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/east-and-northeast/prized-hilsa-fish-set-to-travel-upstream-in-ganges-after-40-years-968704.html (31 March 2021)
Tamil Nadu Residents protesting plan to reduce Pulicat sanctuary buffer zone A new proposal by the Tamil Nadu forest department to reduce the mandatory 10-km eco-sensitive zone or ESZ around the Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary near Chennai has sparked fresh protests from members of the fishing community, scientists and wildlife experts.
If it is allowed, the proposal will smooth the way for the expansion of the Kattupalli port 2.1 km south of Lake Pulicat Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu’s Thiruvallur district by the Adani group, activists and fisherfolk say. This will threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. https://scroll.in/article/991044/adani-will-gain-why-tn-residents-are-protesting-plan-to-reduce-pulicat-sanctuary-buffer-zone (01 April 2021)
Jammu & Kashmir Trout swims to success Kashmir’s trout is in demand, with states in India seeking its eggs to rear the Union Territory’s (UT) famed fish breed. Just this year, in January, 500,000 trout ova were dispatched from its famous Kokernag farm in the Anantnag district to Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Uttarakhand. Then, in February, another 200,000 trout eggs were sent to Sikkim through the Directorate of Research Centre, Bhimtal (ICAR) in Uttarakhand. The 700,00 trout ova sent to these states were airlifted so the progeny reach the respective destinations safe and unharmed.
“The Kashmir trout is believed to be healthier and genetically improved than its counterparts in other states. It also grows fast and accepts pellets (fish feed) easily, which is why it is so popular, both within the state and outside,” says Mohd. Muzaffar Bazaz, Joint Director, Fisheries (Kashmir division). Incidentally, both varieties of trout found in Jammu & Kashmir – brown and rainbow – are successful immigrants to its cold waters. Their origin story dates back to over 100 years ago, according to the website of the J&K fisheries department. Although an indigenous variety, the snow trout, existed, the noted angler and owner of a carpet factory, Frank J. Mitchel convinced the then state’s ruler, Maharaja Pratap Singh, to ask the British for more varieties. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/trout-swims-to-success-in-jammu-and-kashmir/ (29 March 2021)
Maharashtra Fish found dead in Salim Ali lake Several dead fish were found floating in the historic Salim Ali lake in Aurangabad on Sunday (March 21) morning, prompting the environmentalists to train their guns on the civic body for its failure to stop water pollution. Environmentalist Kishor Pathak said this was the second such incident — of mass fish death — within a short span of time at the lake. “In July 2020, many fish had died due to contaminated water. The civic authorities failed to take cognizance of that incident, which has led to a repeat,” he said. The excess growth of algae in the lake due to high level of pollutants has been blamed for the lack of sufficient oxygen in the water — eventually causing the fish and other aquatic creatures to die. The issue of water pollution at the Salim Ali lake remains unaddressed till date as the direct release of sewage from nearby localities continues unabated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/fish-found-dead-in-salim-ali-lake/articleshow/81619068.cms (22 March 2021)
Himachal Pradesh Mining Mafia at Work in Broad Daylight Illegal sand mining is a major environmental hazard but doesn’t appear in news so often, and even if it does, then it doesn’t make much difference. Some locals wrote to Himachal Watcher (HW) and shared some videos and pictures showing JCB machines carrying out sand excavation at two spots on the river basin of Sutlej near ITI College in Sunni Gram Panchayat of Shimla district between 26th March and 28 March.
The locals alleged that the entire area is under NTPC and mining is completely prohibited here. But for two days (24×7) two machines and several tippers/trucks allegedly extracted a huge amount of sand illegally in broad daylight. They alleged that when they made a complaint to the concerned mining officer, they were told to call the police. No action was taken. On March 28th, the culprits were seen covering up the ditches created by mining and flee the spot. Locals alleged a corrupt nexus between culprits and authorities is behind such blatant illegal mining with no fear at all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7fHC_SJoA4 (29 March 2021)
Karnataka Govt cites financial loss to allow quarry, crusher units to resume operations After over a month since quarry and stone-crushing units were shut in Karnataka, the government has decided to allow them to resume operations. Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh R Nirani said the closure of these units had led to job losses and had an adverse impact on the state’s revenue. “The state exchequer has suffered a loss of over Rs 300 crore due to closure of quarries and crusher units following the recent blasts (in Shivamogga and Chikkaballapur). Their closure has also led to the sudden hike in prices of raw materials required for construction activities in the state,” he said. Nirani added that operators need to obtain no objection certificates from the Director-General of Mines Safety (DGMS). https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/karnataka-govt-financial-loss-quarry-crusher-units-resume-operations-7251147/ (31 March 2021)
Sand Mining and Road Work Threaten World Heritage Site at Hampi Indiscriminate soil digging threatens Hampi’s monuments, a UNESCO world heritage site in Karnataka, the New Indian Express reported on March 27. Residents of the town reported finding road contractors lifting the soil near a hillock recently, and alerted authorities and halted the work. The newspaper reported the locals saying the soil was mixed with thin sand for use in several civic works, including road construction. A part of the fort around Kamala Mahal at Hampi, built with heavy stone blocks, had collapsed on March 12, according to The Hindu. https://science.thewire.in/environment/sand-mining-and-road-work-threaten-world-heritage-site-at-hampi/ (29 March 2021)
Telangana Sand smugglers attack Forest Dept officials A few persons, who were illegally transporting sand from tanks and streams in a forest area, allegedly attacked Forest Department officials in Burgampad mandal in Bhadradri-Kothgudem district on Saturday (March 27). Sources said that when the Forest Department received information about illegal transportation of sand from Domalavagu forest area in the district, forest beat officer B Ashok Kumar and two other staffers rushed to the spot to inquire into the matter. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/mar/28/sand-smugglers-attack-forest-dept-officials-cop-in-kothagudem-2282566.html (28 March 2021)
Tamil Nadu Action sought against min for ‘false’ claims on sand mining Tamil Nadu Environmental Protection Movement has sought the disqualification of Karur AIADMK candidate and transport minister M R Vijayabhaskar for allegedly giving false information on the permission given to bullock kart owners to take river sand from Cauvery. Petitioning the Karur district collector on Friday (April 2), coordinators of the movement, N Shanmugam, K Vijayan and Mukilan, said the minister was spreading lies. Vijayabhaskar has said the state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) had given permission for 15,000-odd bullock kart owners to take sand from four places in Cauvery river. He was responding to the claims of DMK candidate V Senthil Balaji that bullock kart owners will be allowed to take sand from Cauvery.
Irregularities in mining river sand had led the Madras high court to direct the state government to close all sand quarries operating in Cauvery and Kollidam rivers in 2017. While the ban has affected 15,000-odd bullock kart owners, they ha sought permission to take river sand. Senthil Balaji had promised bullock kart owners that DMK would take steps to allow them to take river sand once they come to power. Countering him Vijayabhaskar said that Balaji wants to take credit for an issue solved by the AIADMK government. “Vijayabhaskar claimed that SEIAA has given its nod and four places have been identified for bullock kart owners to take river sand based on an official document. However, the official documents neither had date nor signature,” said Mukilan. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/action-sought-against-min-for-false-claims-on-sand-mining/articleshow/81878659.cms (03 April 2021)
Punjab Ropar villagers protest illegal mining as tubewells go dry As the authorities have failed to keep a check on illegal mining in the district, residents of several villages on the banks of Swan and Sutlej have decided to take up the cudgels against the mining mafia. A large number of people have been sitting on a dharna near Algran bridge since March 15, demanding a clampdown on the mafia.
Protesters said deep pits left after illegal mining not only posed a threat to their lives, but had also pushed groundwater further down, rendering several tubewells useless. The issue was also highlighted in the columns of this newspaper on July 15, 2019. Earlier, the riverbed was dug up to 10 feet and groundwater recharged through it used to maintain high levels in adjoining villages. Experts say a riverbed is dug up to 50 feet and the water recharge also starts from the same depth, resulting in groundwater depletion. This also leads to groundwater pollution. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/ropar-villagers-protest-illegal-mining-as-tubewells-go-dry-232845 (01 April 2021)
Govt clears ED to curb illegal mining Elections approaching, the Punjab Cabinet on April 1 cleared the setting up of an enforcement directorate (ED) to check illegal mining. An announcement in this regard was made by Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh during the Budget Session.
The ED is to be set up under the Mining and Geology Wing of Water Resources Department. Headed by a senior police officer not below the rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG), it will ensure that those involved in the sand and gravel business do not charge above the sale price ceiling laid out in the mining policy. It will also stop unauthorised movement of minor minerals within the state and at inter-state borders in conjunction with mining officials and facilitate prosecution of the accused under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/poll-in-mind-punjab-clears-enforcement-directorate-to-curb-illegal-mining-232827 (01 April 2021)
Uttar Pradesh This Hindi report mentions about decline in water level in Bhagen river in Banda and attributes continuous sand mining as main reason; finds same happening with Ken and Yamuna for years; further adds sand in rivers essential for maintaining groundwater level in wells, ponds, handpumps. https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/kanpur-city-sadanira-bagai-river-in-banda-is-slowly-turning-into-a-drain-due-to-lack-of-flowing-water-causing-a-crisis-in-these-villages-21510024.html (30 March 2021)
बूड़िया थाना क्षेत्र के गांव कनालसी से खनन के वाहनों को निकाले जाने पर विवाद हो गया। ग्रामीणों ने पंचायती रास्ते को बंद करा दिया। आरोप था कि खनन के वाहनों की वजह से सड़क टूट रही है। हर समय वाहनों का शोर आता रहता है। इस वजह से परेशानी होती है। धूल व मिट्टी की वजह से फसलें खराब हो रही हैं। हंगामा बढ़ने पर पुलिस भी पहुंची, लेकिन ग्रामीणों ने रास्ता नहीं खोला और वाहनों को नहीं निकलने दिया गया। https://www.jagran.com/haryana/yamunanagar-villagers-of-kanalasi-did-not-allow-mining-vehicles-to-come-out-of-the-village-21506429.html (28 March 2021)
Activists allege illegal mining continuing in Aravallis A group of environmentalists said they had found evidence of large-scale stone mining in the Aravallis during a ground check near Gurugram. In 2009, the Supreme Court had banned all forms of mining in the sensitive mountain range, considered to be the oldest in the country and a rich quarry for construction stones and sand. This had not stopped miners though with much of the range withering every year.
On Sunday, Neelam Ahluwalia from the Aravalli Bachao, a citizen’s movement to save the range, visited areas near Pandala and Bhardwaj lake along with eight others. The team said they saw around eight to ten illegal mining sites only in the Pandala hills area. Prabhat Verma, a resident who is a regular visitor to Pandala hills said that mining had intensified over the last six months. He said that sand mining was rampant near Bhardwaj lake. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/gurugram-news/environmentalists-allege-illegal-mining-continuing-in-gurugram-aravallis-101617300839177.html (01 April 2021)
Rajasthan Limestone Reserves to be auctioned The Geological Survey of India has discovered large deposits of limestone to the tune of 690 million tonnes in three blocks of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Based on the G-2 and G-3 reports received from the Geological Survey of India, the blocks will now be developed for auction by the department of mining.
According to principal secretary Ajitabh Sharma, the report states that in Ramgarh, Jaisalmer there is a possibility of about 9 million tonnes of deposits of SMS grade limestone spread across an area of 2.56 square kilometres. At the same time, deposits of 4.67 million tonnes of chemical grade and 180.471 million tonnes of cement grade limestone have been found.
The principal secretary further said that in Goram Khan, Jaisalmer, there is a possibility of reserves of 76.198 million tonnes of SMS grade and 135.732 million tonnes of cement grade limestone spread across an area of five square kilometres. In the report submitted by the Geological Survey of India, the deposits of 44.858 million tonnes of SMS grade, 80.251 million tonnes of SMS OS grade, and 162.664 million tonnes of cement grade limestones have been detected in five square kilometre area of Mian in Jaisalmer. The mining department based on the report will now develop blocks for auctioning. https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/limestone-reserves-of-rajasthan-weighing-690-million-tonne-to-be-auctioned-under-mining-department-3600416.html (02 April 2021)
Jharkhand राजमहल पर्वत शृंखला के 12 पहाड़ ही निगल गया माइनिंग माफिया झारखंड के चार जिले-दुमका, गोड्डा, पाकुड़ और साहिबगंज तक में फैली 10 करोड़ वर्ष पुरानी राजमहल पर्वत शृंखला की 12 पहाड़ियां गायब हो गई हैं। ये पहाड़ियां हिमालय से 5 करोड़ वर्ष पहले बनीं, पर इनका वजूद मिटाने में चंद साल ही लगे। गदवा-नासा, अमजाेला, पंगड़ाे, गुरमी, बाेरना, धाेकुटी, बेकचुरी, तेलियागड़ी, बांसकोला, गड़ी, सुंदरपहाड़ी, माेराकुट्टी पहाड़ियाें का अस्तित्व पत्थर माफिया ने अवैध खुदाई कर खत्म कर दिया है।
साहिबगंज के पीजी काॅलेज में भूगर्भशास्त्र के प्राध्यापक डॉ रंजीत प्रसाद सिंह के अनुसार अत्यधिक खनन के कारण गदवा पहाड़ी का वजूद बीते 17 साल में खत्म होने के कगार पर है। हाल में जब झारखंड में अवैध पत्थर खनन की खबरें सुर्खियां बनीं तो भास्कर ग्राउंड जीरो पर पहुंचा। पता चला नियम-कानून ताक पर रखकर पत्थर माफिया गदवा के बचे हिस्से की दिन-रात खुदाई कर रहे हैं। इसमें उनका साथ दे रहे हैं खनन विभाग, पुलिस-प्रशासन के अधिकारी और कुछ सफेदपाेश। इस मिलीभगत पर जब भास्कर ने साहिबगंज के डीसी रामनिवास यादव से सवाल पूछे तो उन्होंने उल्टे हमसे ही अवैध उत्खनन के सबूत मांगे। कहा कि यहां आकर प्रमाण दें। हालांकि माना कि जिला टास्क फोर्स लगातार छापेमारी कर रही है और अवैध क्रशर सील किए जा रहे हैं।
माफिया ने 2 चेक डैम भरकर मैदान बना दिया:- बड़ी भगियामारी में ग्रामीणों के लिए चेक डैम बना था, पर डैम से 50 मीटर दूर ही खनन पट्टा व क्रशर का लाइसेंस दे दिया गया है। क्रशर के डस्ट से डैम का अस्तित्व ही खत्म हाे गया है। सकरीगली के किरुकुड़िया में भी जमुनी डैम था। अब यह डस्ट का मैदान बन गया है। जबकि संकरीगली स्टेशन, रेलवे लाइन और एनएच-80 के किनारे भी कदम-कदम पर पत्थर के डस्ट की डंपिंग हो रही है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/jharkhand/news/mining-mafia-was-swallowed-by-12-mountains-of-the-100-million-year-old-palace-mountain-range-128374664.html (01 April 2021)
Odisha 2 killed as sand vehicle overturned Two persons were killed after a sand-laden tractor overturned at Brahmani ghat near Kaluria in Dhenkanal district. The deceased have been identified as Narottam Behera and Rajeev Behera of Kaluria village. The incident took place last night while they were lifting sand. The tractor overturned on three persons after losing control. They were admitted to Dhenkanal district headquarters hospital where doctors declared the duo dead. Another person is currently undergoing treatment. His condition is stated to be critical. https://odishatv.in/odisha-news/holi-tragedy-5-killed-in-road-mishaps-2-drown-in-odisha-530534 (29 March 2021)
LoP demands security for RTI activist’s family Naik said the RTI activist had raised the issue of corruption in Dankari Pahad mining and allotment of houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Alleging that the law and order situation in the State has completely collapsed, Naik said such an attack would not have been possible without support from the powers that be. He said though the MLA has been named in the FIR filed by the RTI activist’s wife, he is yet to be questioned by the police. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/mar/31/leader-of-opposition-demands-security-for-rti-activists-family-2283861.html (31 March 2021)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
The need for seriously safekeeping our wetlands Excellent article advocating protection of wetlands. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/the-need-for-seriously-safekeeping-our-wetlands.html (29 March 2021)
Maharashtra SC stays cutting of mangroves to build overbridge at Yari Road Supreme Court recently stayed cutting of mangroves for construction of a vehicular overbridge at the junction of Yari Road and Lokhandwala back road in Versova, Andheri. The bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Rama Subramanian issued notices to the central and state governments, BMC, MMRDA and Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority in a petition filed by group of residents largely from Versova. Their counsel Devadutta Kamat argued that forest clearance for the project was pending and, hence, felling of mangroves must be stayed.
The residents had gone to the apex court against the December 2020 dismissal of their PIL by the HC. The PIL filed in 2019 had expressed concern at the destruction of mangroves that would be caused by the bridge project. It had also asked the BMC and MMRDA to reconsider the plan to connect Versova and Lokhandwala. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-sc-stays-cutting-of-mangroves-to-build-overbridge-at-yari-road/articleshow/81817273.cms (01 April 2021)
Greens spot another fire at Nerul mangroves Another fresh fire incident inside the protected mangroves in Nerul was reported by the local environmentalists in Seawoods on Monday (March 29), despite the presence of private security guards in this isolated stretch of the green zone.
The director of NatConnect Foundation, B N Kumar, said, “The recurring fires in mangroves, forests and mangrove buffer zones appear to be part of a land grab racket. Dumping garbage and then burning it is also an encroachment ploy.”
Last week, a fire was reported on the edge of the mangroves near Vashi railway station complex. RTI activist Anarjit Chauhanexplained, “As per the Forest Fire Rules of 1981, such deemed forests like the mangroves can be taken over by the forest department even if fires are observed within 1 km of its buffer zone.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-greens-spot-another-fire-at-nerul-mangroves/articleshow/81749814.cms (30 March 2021)
‘Uran mangroves ideal for Bollywood’s desert locations’ “With concerned authorities remaining unconcerned over the relentless destruction of the fragile biodiversity, Bollywood producers might as well make use of the man-made deserts and barren lands for their shoots,” said BN Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation. “This is no exaggeration as innumerable complaints to the government and the orders from the environment department and even the high court-appointed wetlands and mangroves committees have not yielded any results to save nature in Uran,” he said.
“The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which has all along been neglecting the environment, might as well be the nodal agency for booking film-shoot sites,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan. Priya Ratambe, CIDCO public relations officer, said, “CIDCO is committed to preserving the environment and all efforts have been made in this regard. The allegations are baseless and all notified wetlands and mangroves are being protected as per orders of the authorities and rules and regulations governing them.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/uran-mangroves-ideal-for-bollywood-s-desert-locations-101617131570091.html (31 March 2021)
Mumbai: Nerul’s protected lake is a dumping ground now There seems to be no end to the destruction of wetlands in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The famous Lotus Lake in Navi Mumbai has become the latest target, with CIDCO allegedly dumping construction debris in it. Even though the lake is a notified wetland according to the Thane tehsildar’s report on January 20 and the National Wetland Inventory and Assessment, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has taken no measures to protect it.
Navi Mumbai-based environmentalist Sunil Agarwal has written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray about the ongoing dumping of debris in the lake at Sector 27, Nerul. “The residents are surprised by the debris dumping happening in this wetland. This is more than 2.25 hectares and protected by the Supreme Court order of October 2017. This is also a verified wetland… Still instead of protecting this, CIDCO has started dumping debris in this wetland claiming it to be a plot no. 2. They applied to the NMMC for transportation of the debris and the civic body gave permission without any inspection or verification. Thane collector, sub divisional officer and tehsildar are clueless about this,” his letter stated. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/mumbai-neruls-protected-lake-is-a-dumping-ground-now-23163387 (12 March 2021)
Jammu & Kashmir Mismanaged flood plan wreaks devastation at Hokera wetland Govt efforts to address the flooding of Srinagar city have caused serious damage to the Hokera Wetland in Kashmir, due to persistent failure to abide by the environmental protection measures set out as preconditions to the project.
The excavation of channels aimed at draining excess rainwater has dried up a major portion of the 1,375-hectare wetland. Meanwhile, wildlife officials have reported that around 80% of the excavated material is still lying in the wetland. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/nature/mismanaged-flood-plan-wreaks-devastation-at-vital-kashmir-wetland/ (25 March 2021)
Wetland degradation in Kashmir: Issues and remedies It is pertinent to mention that the geomorphic setup of Kashmir Valley is such that areas close to the water bodies especially in the valley plains are prone to flooding. The vulnerability of the population to floods is exacerbated when the infrastructure development is planned close the vicinity of rivers and wetlands. Research conducted at our Department to understand the flooding in Kashmir Valley indicated that there has been a 266% increase in the area under built up within the traditional floodplain of Jhelum since the 1970s. It is important to mention that the floodplain of Jhelum hosts some of the very important wetlands (like Hokersar, Mirgund, Narkara, Haigam, and Wular to name few prominent ones) which used to act a flood buffers. However, the unplanned urbanization within and around these wetlands has impaired their flood absorption potential thereby increasing the vulnerability of people and infrastructure to floods.
In the past 5 decades, we have lost 20 wetlands in and around Srinagar City. The posh areas along the bypass which used to act as sponges during floods have now turned into a concrete jungle. A small precipitation event brings the city to a complete halt as rain waters choke most of the roads since storm water gets all clogged up in the impervious concrete surfaces. Rakhi Aarat which used to be a small wetland has been turned into a rehabilitation colony for Dal dwellers. An earthquake of the magnitude like that which occurred in October 2005 could put the lives of people living around such areas in peril as the soil is not consolidated. Studies conducted so far at our institute and also elsewhere indicate heavy anthropogenic interference, especially during the last half of the 20th century, which could be detrimental to the health of these natural ecosystems. http://risingkashmir.com/home/news_description/374373/Wetland-degradation-in-Kashmir-Issues-and-remedies (31 March 2021)
Dal Lake among several others to be declared protected wetlands Srinagar’s Dal Lake along with five other famous ones are to be declared protected wetlands, an official said on Wednesday (March 31). The other lakes which are to be declared protected wetlands include Purmandal lake, also called Chotta Kashi, located in Samba district, an official spokesman said. The decision was taken in the maiden meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir Wetland Authority, chaired by Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam. The meeting was held to chalk out a strategy for the conservation and management of wetlands.
The chief secretary passed directions to declare Wular, Dal, Nigeen lakes in the Kashmir region and Sanasar, Manasbal and Purmandal lakes in the Jammu region as protected wetlands, the spokesman said. Chief Secretary Subrahmanyam also directed the Forest Department which is the nodal department for the preparation of digital inventory, documentation and development of a geo-spatial database on wetlands, to profile various wetlands of Jammu and Kashmir and recommend their notification under the Environment Protection Act and Wetland (Conversation & Management) rules. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/dal-lake-among-several-others-in-jk-to-be-declared-protected-wetlands/article34211738.ece
Opinion Wake-up call for Lakes & Waterways Development Authority by Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat Our institutions have also been crippled, corruption having shattered us. At a time when J&K faces so many challenges at socio-economic and political level, if some public spirited citizens of Kashmir take initiatives for public good the authorities at the helm should come forward and support them. But when Government institutions start blaming each other for the mis-governance, incompetence and inefficiency, then how can things be streamlined? https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/a-counter-response/ (03 April 2021)
Bihar Biggest lake left high and dry despite Ramsar tag Kanwar lake, Asia’s largest freshwater oxbow lake and Bihar’s only Ramsar site, located in Begusarai district, is facing threat of running dry. Unrestrained encroachment of land and construction of embankment on Burhi Gandak river near Majhaul village of Begusarai have choked the major water inlet to the wetland and have taken a toll. “Excessive use of groundwater for irrigation in the protected area has taken a toll on the rich biodiversity of the lake and created a kind of climate crisis in the region,” says Ashok Ghosh, chairman of State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB).
Ghosh, also an environment expert who carried out a research on biodiversity of the lake, said size of the wetland has reduced considerably over the last few decades owing to encroachment by individuals and dumping of municipal waste. “I have seen the lake speared on around 7,000 hectares in 1986, which has now been reduced to a little over 2500 hectares,” he said.
Water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha said the department would assess the situation and take corrective steps. “Engineers would be asked to see how the natural outflow of Burhi Gandak could be restored,” Jha said. Dipak Kumar Singh, principal secretary of forest and environment, said, “Nearly 3,000 hectares out of the total 6,700 hectares covered by the lake are said to be private holding. The department would soon come out with a comprehensive plan to protect and develop the wetland,” said Singh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/bihars-biggest-lake-left-high-and-dry-despite-ramsar-tag-101617208132502-amp.html (31 March 2021)
Kabar lake’s Ramsar site tag fails to enthuse farmers While the declaration of Kabar lake in Begusarai as the state’s first Ramsar site has enthused the bird watchers and eco lovers, there has been a growing discontent among farmers living in surrounding areas of the lake, who think they are devoid of their farming rights and other related activities in the lake area.
Ram Jiwan Singh, former Union agriculture minister said there has always been two streams of thought on the issue. “The first is to develop the entire notified area of the bird sanctuary to sustain the local eco bio-diversity and another is to contain the bird sanctuary area to about 2,000 acres of land and develop the site as ‘krishi-cum-pakshi vihar”, he said. “As per the 1901 survey of land, the total taal area is about 15,000 acres. However, with the water level receding in the Gandak over a period of time, farming activities in 16 villages have taken the hit. The state government notified the entire taal area as the bird sanctuary, but the land compensation issue is yet to be resolved,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/kabar-lakes-ramsar-site-tag-fails-to-enthuse-farmers/articleshow/79630498.cms (09 Dec. 2020)
Maharashtra Sindhudurg area named as biodiversity heritage site Govt on Wednesday (March 31) declared an area at Amboli in Western ghats in Sindhudurg district, where a rare freshwater fish species was discovered, as a biodiversity heritage site. The State government on March 31, 2021 issued a notification declaring the area at Amboli as a biodiversity heritage site. “The decision to declare the habitat of these freshwater species as the bio-diversity heritage site is taken because it is rare species, and due to fishing activities, it might have faced extinction. It was important to conserve the species,” reads the government notification. The discoveries of the freshwater fish species were published in the International Journal of Ichthyology in the October 2020 edition by Tejas Thackeray and co-authors. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/area-in-maharashtras-sindhudurg-named-as-biodiversity-heritage-site/article34211679.ece (01 April 2021)
Kids lift Latur village out of water scarcity Modelled on a gram panchayat and informally recognised by the district administration, many villages in the state have witnessed this unique revolution of a powerful children’s collective. They usually comprise 25 children aged 11-18 and are guided by local NGOs. The small, dusty village of Sategaon in Parbhani district was the first in Maharashtra to develop this model of child governance in 2000. Today, the state has over 200 bal panchayats. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-kids-lift-latur-village-out-of-water-scarcity/articleshow/81749804.cms (30 March 2021)
Bengaluru Jakkur lake sets an example for inclusive rejuvenation projects Jakkur Lake in north Bengaluru has received many accolades for creating and sustaining the rejuvenation and conservation initiative.
The lake supports and provides livelihoods for 70 fishermen families and their role has been crucial to the success of the lake rejuvenation project. Jockim, a fisherman, and other members of his community rue the general attitude to keep local communities out of conservation plans and not recognise their contribution. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/04/the-story-of-jakkur-lake-sets-an-example-for-inclusive-rejuvenation-projects/ (05 April 2021)
IWP Strengthening the frontline for water security Is it possible to value water without celebrating and valuing these frontline workers? How can the sector recognize them for their skills and contribution and help them build livelihoods out of it? What can the government do to engage them in the long term? https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/strengthening-frontline-water-security (12 Feb. 2021)
TISS report Maharashtra Participatory Irrigation Management, March 2021 Ex Summary includes: The current status can be summarised as ‘WUAs are born weak, nurtured weak and eventually they die weak’. However, considering the challenges of managing the irrigation system, the involvement of farmers and strengthening their participation is the only feasible option for efficient and equitable management of irrigation service delivery. In a way, the only alternative to a (weak) PIM is a stronger PIM.
Much of our recommendations are geared towards addressing the existing constraints and using emerging opportunities, which could make the PIM stronger. https://wrd.maharashtra.gov.in/Upload/PDF/TISS_PIM_Report_March2021_compressed.pdf
Bundelkhand How villagers in drought prone Bundelkhand revived this river using MGNREGA funds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc2ySdzYdtI (30 March 2021)
One Year of Atal Bhujal Yojana Launched on Dec 25, 2019, its implementation started on Apr 1 2020, it is partly funded by the World Bank. In the last one year , the scheme has managed to sign Memorandum of Association (MoA) with all seven states, and funds to the tune of Rs 24.05 crore under Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building Component has been released to four states– Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. However, proposals for release of funds for Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are under approval, whereas proposals are awaited from Rajasthan, the Ministry of Jal Shakti said.
– From January 1 to November 30 last year, Aquifer Maps and Management Plans for 1.67 lakh square km have been prepared covering various parts of the country, said the Ministry. “Under the Aquifer Mapping programme, an area of 13.50 lakh square km was covered till December end last year out of the total 24.8 lakh square km area identified for mapping in the country.”
– An innovative scheme on Aquifer Rejuvenation has also been undertaken by CGWB in which innovative artificial recharge techniques for aquifer rejuvenation has been carried out in aspirational districts of the states of Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The work has been executed in three blocks- one each in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra state. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/1-year-of-atal-jal-scheme-key-to-raising-indias-groundwater-resources/articleshow/81758811.cms? (31 March 2021)
Goa Water-rich village become entirely dependent on tankers The village of Pissurlem in the mining-belt of north-east Goa used to be brimming with water; it is now entirely dependent on government tankers. Opencast iron ore mining reduces the groundwater table and causes surface water pollution. People in mining-affected villages are dependent on an erratic supply of water from piped connections and tankers.
– Pissurlem is one of many villages affected by iron-ore mining in Goa’s eastern belt. The once self-sufficient, water-rich villages, teeming with springs, streams and wells, brimming with water, have been sucked dry. As a result, they are now completely dependent on an external, erratic supply of water by tankers and piped connections. There are days when tankers don’t turn up, and there are months when water is unable to snake its way through the pipes to reach households. There are disparities in water distribution, access, and storage. “Every day, we have to wait and watch: are we going to get any water today? What time will it come? How long will it last? It’s a mystery every day. Oh, and we have absolutely NO water for our fields,” said 65-year-old Babuso Shabulo Gawade, a resident of Dhatwada.
– Goa has two aquifer systems that are the source of its groundwater: the top laterite layer and the powder ore. The laterite layer forms an unconfined aquifer, or the water table, with a continuous surface. It is permeable and gets recharged immediately after rains. Generally, this aquifer is tapped into through dug wells for both domestic and agricultural purposes. Another important aquifer in the mining area is the iron ore itself, consisting of blue dust including chert, manganiferous gravel, and sand. These aquifers are long and narrow and confined within clay layers. Groundwater occurs under semi-confined and confined conditions. In other words, the source of the mineral is the source of storage of water. The porous rock and the ore are like little vessels that hold water. When the rock and the ore are removed, the capacity to hold water is removed. (by Supriya Vohra) https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/how-did-a-once-water-rich-village-in-goa-become-entirely-dependent-on-tankers/ (30 March 2021)
Haryana 7 districts will have zero availability of groundwater: Report Seven districts in Haryana will have zero availability of groundwater in future as the state is over extracting water by 138.91%, according to a report by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), prepared on the basis of a survey in 2017. The situation is likely to worsen as CGWB is compiling details of surveys carried out last year. Scientists said preliminary findings suggest water levels have dropped from four metres to 14 metres. Reports suggest the state has only 10.15 billion cubic metres (BCM) of groundwater.
Gurugram, Faridabad, Palwal and Mahendergarh are the four NCR districts, while the remaining three are Fatehabad, Kaithal, and Sirsa. Kaithal has 227% “over extraction” of water, followed by 220% in Gurugram, 197% in Sirsa, 187% in Palwal, 161% in Fatehabad, 125% in Faridabad and 106% in Mahendergarh. The report said of the 128 blocks of the state, only 26 were found to be safe when it came to groundwater availability. Also, 78 were found to have been overexploited, 21 were semi-critical and three were found to be critical. Rapid urbanisation and unchecked exploitation are said to be behind the trend in Gurugram.
The state government, in January this year, set up the Haryana Water Resources (Conservation, Regulation and Management) Authority headed by former chief secretary Keshni Anand Arora. “Saline water too has emerged as a major threat. Government has made a two-pronged approach: one, asking paddy farmers to go for crop diversification; and two, programmes for recharging groundwater and encouraging rainwater harvesting in urban areas,” said an official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/report-7-haryana-dists-will-have-zero-availability-of-groundwater/articleshow/81639549.cms (23 March 2021)
HSPCB recommends ₹4.13 cr penalty for Panipat sugar mill Already facing the ire of the NGT for violation of environmental norms, the cooperative sugar mill at Panipat is in for more trouble as the SPCB has recommended a penalty of ₹4.13 crore on it for illegal extraction of groundwater. A complaint in this regard had been moved to the NGT by a local councillor last year following which the Tribunal had formed a joint committee under HSPCB to look into the matter.
After ground inspections, the HSPCB, in its report, stated that the sugar mill was located in an “over-exploited area” but it had been extracting groundwater, using a borewell, to meet its raw water requirements. This was done without the permission of the CGWA, and hence illegal. The illegal extraction had taken place from April 15, 2015 to December 12, 2020. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/illegal-groundwater-extraction-hspcb-recommends-4-13-cr-penalty-for-panipat-sugar-mill-101617567612302.html (05 April 2021)
Bengaluru Pollution board makes STP compliance a pricey affair The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) recently issued a circular with revised charges for obtaining consent for establishment (CFE) and consent for operation (CFO) for apartment complexes that ought to have STPs. The annual fees vary between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10 lakh, covering both standalone and integrated projects. Now, residents are wondering why the regulatory body is charging apartment owners for compliance.
The circular, which follows a government notification issued in November last year, is applicable for all STPs including the BWSSB-owned plants and private ones operated by apartments, hospitals, IT parks and others. While the CFE is a one-time charge, the KSPCB will levy fees for obtaining CFO annually, followed by an inspection of the plant. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/pollution-board-makes-stp-compliance-pricier-pursuit/articleshow/81765124.cms (31 March 2021)
Lockdown, rain revive groundwater level The four talukas of Bengaluru—North, South, East and Anekal—have seen a marginal average rise in static water levels ranging from 0.30 metre to as high as 8.75 metres between 2016 and 2020, government data shows. Bengaluru received 1,082 mm of rainfall in 2020, 28% more than its normal, according to the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre. But the rise in water levels cannot be mistaken for a reversal of the downward trend in the long term as excessive commercial activities, high-rise residential buildings and lack of reusing water have weighed in on India’s IT capital, experts and officials said.
The city, despite all the money it spends on lake rejuvenation and other exercises, remains firmly in the grip of water tankers that deliver the precious resource as a business model to apartments and other households in Bengaluru. Having lost the river Vrishabhavathi to over exploitation and several lakes to encroachments, sewage inlets and bad maintenance, Bengaluru is heavily dependent on the inflow of Cauvery water from about a 100 km away to quench its thirst, experts said. Being Karnataka’s biggest revenue generator, successive governments have followed a predictable path of diverting Cauvery water into the city even if it deprives surrounding districts of their requirements.
With no river water in close proximity, people in hundreds of villages in erstwhile Bengaluru built lakes and tanks as a resource for irrigation and drinking. Out of the remaining 210 lakes, around 19 are encroached and most others are in a pitiable state that neither quench the city’s thirst nor improve the groundwater table due to over three to four decades of accumulated silt, experts said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/lockdown-rain-revive-groundwater-level-101616526537380.html (24 April 2021)
Delhi Groundwater table declining at the rate of 0.2 metres each year As per the report by Central Groundwater Board (CGWB), the groundwater table in the national capital is declining at a rate of 0.2 metres each year. Also, the groundwater table in the south and southwest Delhi has witnessed 80 metres decline below the ground level. Till March, a survey revealed that 12,350 illegal borewells were identified in various districts in Delhi. Also, currently, only the Central district lies in the ‘safe zone’. The remaining districts are either in the ‘critical’ or ‘over-exploited’ zone, as per CWGB. The groundwater depth in 15% of the national capital lies at 40-80 metres depth.
Also, in accordance with NGT orders, the borewell points which are deployed in irrigating the municipal parks are sealed. However, the decision does not go well with the civic authorities as they want the drive to be halted until further arrangements are made. Over 15,000 parks with more than 4,000 tubewells are being managed by the three corporations- North, south, and east.
In the north, out of the 1,862 borewell points, 99 have been sealed. The drive has already affected 400 parks, as per the officials. South Delhi Municipal corporation has 6,872 parks and 1,398 tubewells. Out of these, 167 has been sealed. Estimates suggest that north corp will need at least 540 tankers to replace borewell-based irrigation, which will cost at least 162 crores. SDMC may need 600 tankers worth Rs 180 crore. Talking about east Delhi, 20 tankers are in use for irrigating key parks. Almost 474 borewells have been closed. https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/article/delhi-groundwater-table-declining-at-the-rate-of-0-2-metres-each-year-says-report/741189 (05 April 2021)
Pune PMC to raise demand for 5 TMC of water from Mulshi dam Against the background of the inclusion of 23 villages in the Pune city limits, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has prepared a proposal to raise a demand of five thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water from the Mulshi dam for Pune city. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/pmc-to-raise-demand-for-5-tmc-of-water-from-mulshi-dam-101617535150444.html (04 April 2021)
Nagpur STP saves 190 million litres of fresh water per day This claim needs to be verified. https://www.indiatoday.in/india-today-insight/story/good-news-how-a-sewage-treatment-plant-in-nagpur-saves-190-million-litres-of-fresh-water-per-day-1783248-2021-03-24 (24 March 2021)
Hyderabad Water crisis grips Alkapur Township in Manikonda Around 15,000 people in Alkapur Township in Manikonda municipality are facing hardships due scarcity of water since more than a decade. Ever since the township came into existence water crisis remained a major issue as the place it is yet to get basic water supply infrastructures such as water pipelines. Out of the 25 colonies in Manikonda only four of them have water pipeline connections while the rest of them are still struggling for water.
Speaking to Hans India, Manoj, secretary, Alkapur Township Residents Forum, said, “From almost ten years we are dependent on water tankers. Despite several representations and request the government to consider our basic water need as a priority, they remain deaf. Now that summer has already arrived the water tankers would cost us somewhere between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000, which is too much for any middle-class family to spend almost every week.” https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-water-crisis-grips-alkapur-township-in-manikonda-679274 (30 March 2021)
Heritage step-well cries for attention A historical Baoli (step-well) built in memory of Hazrata Saide-bi-ma-Saheba in the middle of 19th century, situated opposite to Sailing Club near Tank Bund, is lying in a disused state, uncared for and totally in a state of neglect.
The age-old well, which once used to be unique and popular in those days with a ‘lighting lamp’ in it, now being looked uncared for, leading to encroachments. Usually, for lighting a lamp one needs electricity, battery, oil or ghee but a unique and magical lamp present in this heritage Baoli lights up with the water. https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-heritage-step-well-cries-for-attention-679286 (30 March 2021)
Free drinking water for GHMC area residents only The state government has decided to restrict the scheme only to those living in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits. The earlier announcement was that the 20 kl free water scheme would be available in the areas till the Outer Ring Road. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/050421/free-drinking-water-scheme-to-benefit-only-those-in-ghmc-limits.html (05 April 2021)
Faridabad Villages protest against waste dumping in Aravallis At a mahapanchayat held in Faridabad on Friday (March 26), 12 villages resolved to take legal action against civic authorities for dumping waste on Aravalli land.
The mahapanchayat appointed lawyer Bhagendar Bhadana, also a resident in one of the villages that took part in the deliberations on Friday, to take the issue up in court. “It is not just the matter of the village common land being used,” he said. “It is also about how in the coming years, our underground water will be contaminated, the air will be even more polluted and the health of residents from all these villages will be affected. We will be submitting an application in the high court in this regard and also file a case in NGT against the cutting of trees and harm to the environment.”
Karambeer Bhadana, resident of Pali village said, “For years now, we have anyway been breathing dust particles in polluted air from the crusher zone; we do not want to start drinking contaminated water at least.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/gurugram-news/in-faridabad-12-villages-come-together-to-fight-civic-bodies-attempt-to-dump-waste-in-aravallis-101616784271026.html (27 March 2021)
Nurpur Water coolers pose health threat The Nurpur Municipal Council (MC) had installed a number of drinking water coolers at various locations in the town over a decade ago to provide cold and clean drinking water to people. However, due to the poor upkeep, some of these water coolers are in a bad condition. Neither the Jal Shakti Department nor the local MC shows any interest in maintaining or repairing these coolers.
With the onset of summer, the need to maintain and clean these water coolers has increased so as to check contamination and risk to people’s health. The successive MCs have never bothered to give due priority to the issue. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/water-coolers-pose-health-threat-in-nurpur-234231 (04 April 2021)
Mohali Fine for wasting water from April 15 To address water shortage this summer, the Mohali municipal corporation on April 15 will start issuing challans to people found wasting it. The restrictions will remain in place till June 30, and will also cover Sectors 66-69 and 76-80, where the MC had taken over water supply and sewerage from Greater Mohali Area Development Authority on January 1. According to the notice, watering lawns and washing courtyards and vehicles are prohibited between 5:30am and 8:30am. Violators will get a notice for the first offence. If it is repeated, a challan of ₹1,000 will be imposed. Three-time offenders will have to pay ₹2,000. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/come-april-15-pay-fine-for-wasting-water-in-mohali-101617561252056.html (05 April 2021)
Report NGT order will shape the future of PCBs The NGT, in a landmark judgement, directed Haryana State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) March 23, 2021 to strengthen its capacity, both in terms of human resource and setting up of modern laboratories. The order was to ensure better monitoring for improved compliance of environmental norms. NGT also directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prepare recruitment rules to be followed by all states, mechanism for annual performance audit of SPCBs or pollution control committees (PCC), among other things.
Debadutta Basu, former additional director, CPCB, said: The important part of the judgement is asking CPCB to come out with standard recruitment rules which can be followed by all states. The existing SPCBs recruitment rules have not been updated for decades. The result is if they want to hire a communication officer or health officer, they cannot do so as recruitment rules do not allow. Also, the salary structure mentioned in decade old recruitment rules is not appropriate even for the position of the clerk, forget about qualified graduates and engineers.
The order is the latest among a slew of similar directives from the green court. In February, NGT asked all the states and Union territories to fill up vacant posts, commission and upgrade laboratories using environmental compensation funds. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/pollution/how-this-landmark-ngt-order-will-shape-the-future-of-india-s-pollution-control-bodies-76187 (30 March 2021)
JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY
Himachal Pradesh State qualifies for Rs 221-cr incentive under water scheme The state has qualified for “performance incentive grant” of Rs 221 crore for 2020-21 under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) – “Har Ghar Jal”- from the Centre. Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat rated Himachal as a high performer state at a review meeting to assess the performance of states in the implementation of JJM. Consequently, the Ministry approved the incentive fund to the state.
The mission was announced by PM Modi. In the current financial year, Himachal Pradesh was allocated an amount of Rs 326.20 crore and the entire amount was drawn by the state on account of excellent physical progress. The state plans 100 per cent coverage of tap water connection in its rural areas of by August, 2022 ahead of national goal of 2024. “By doing so, Himachal Pradesh will be one of the leading states to accomplish the ambitious target of providing tap water connection to every rural household,” Jal Shakti Ministry said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/himachal-qualifies-for-rs-221-crore-incentive-under-water-scheme-232274 (31 March 2021)
हर घर नल से जल योजना का चेहरा सामाजिक है, लेकिन एजेंडा कारपोरेट नज़र आ रहा है नल जल योजना में स्रोत से लेकर गांव की हद तक पानी पहुंचाने का काम कंपनियों को सौंपा गया है. कोई गारंटी नहीं कि कंपनी आपूर्ति के मूल जल-स्रोत पर अपना हक़ नहीं जताएगी. एकाधिकार हुआ तो सिंचाई आदि के लिए पानी से इनकार किया जा सकता है, वसूली भी हो सकती है. मोदी सरकार की अन्य कई योजनाओं की तरह नल-जल का एजेंडा काॅरपोरेट नहीं होगा, इसकी क्या गारंटी है? (By Arun Tiwari) https://m.thewirehindi.com/article/jal-jivan-mission-tap-water-connection-ministry-of-water-resource/164306 (04 May 2021)
SANDRP Blog 2021 Summer: North India staring at severe water crisis? Even before the full onset of summer, alarm bells have started ringing that the summer of 2021 may be quite severe in the North West India, including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Wester UP and Northern Rajasthan. Analysis of the rainfall since the SW Monsoon 2020, reservoir levels and even statements of ministers are all conveying this.
But do we see any concerted planning and action either by the concerned Union Government ministries with or without coordination with the state governments? None so far. May be we will see some signs of it once the electioneering ends by end of April? But it may be a bit late by then? Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/31/2021-summer-north-india-staring-at-severe-water-crisis/ (31 March 2021)
CWC Reservoirs storage status upto 01 April 2021 As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 01.04.2021, live storage available in these reservoirs is 71.85 BCM, which is 41% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 85.917 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 58.498 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 130 reservoirs as per 01.04.2021 Bulletin is 84% of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 123% of storage of average of last ten years.
NORTHERN REGION:- The northern region includes States of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. There are 8 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 19.17 BCM. As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 01.04.2021, the total live storage available in these reservoirs is 4.11 BCM which is 21% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 49% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 33% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the corresponding period of last year and is also less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period. http://cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/01042021-full-bul.pdf
Alarming dip in Bhakra, Pong levels, BBMB calls meeting of 3 states On Apr 4, 2021, the water level in Bhakhra dam’s reservoir was 1,533.3 feet (Min level is 1462 ft), 64 feet lower than the level at the same time last year, and nine feet lower than the 40-year average; Pong dam had water level at 1298.8 feet (Min level is 1260 ft), 60 feet lower, and at least 23 feet below its 40-year average. The BBMB has called an emergency meeting. Partner states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan will attend this technical committee meeting (TCM), where a plan for conservation of water will be drawn up. A BBMB source said the meeting would take place before April 10. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/alarming-dip-in-bhakra-pong-levels-bbmb-calls-meeting-of-three-states-101617563832085.html (05 April 2021)
Data compiled by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reveals that from March 1 to March 30 the deficiency was as high as 70 per cent in Punjab. In Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, the shortfall was 62 per cent each. During the aforementioned period, Punjab received 7.1 mm rain against the normal of 23.4 mm. Haryana recorded 4.4 mm against the normal of 11.8 mm while Himachal Pradesh received 41.7 mm against the normal of 108.9 mm for this duration. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/rainfall-storage-in-dams-significantly-below-normal-in-northern-region-during-march-232196 (31 March 2021)
Himachal Pradesh Kangra stares at water paucity Owing to lesser snowfall in the Dhauladhars this year, the Kangra valley is staring at a water shortage. With summers yet to set in, about 25 per cent water supply schemes in Kangra district are facing water paucity. Enquiries from Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) officials reveal that water sources near Bhagsunag, from where water is lifted for supply to Ram Nangar and Shayam Nagar areas, has dried up. Many areas in Mcleodganj, a tourist hub, have been hit too.
Superintendent Engineer Suresh Mahajan says a proposal has been mooted to interlink water supply schemes. “The department tried to lift water from the Manji river but faced resistance by locals,” he said. Villagers fear if the IPH Department lifts water from rivers, there will be no water in khuls (natural drains) to irrigate their fields. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/sources-drying-up-kangra-stares-at-water-paucity-231893 (29 March 2021)
Districts clash over water source Tension prevailed at Ghatta, 25 km from here, as two groups of villagers from Mandi and Kangra districts clashed over the lifting of water from Bhatwali ‘khud’, a local source. A large number of women from Ghankhetar area of Baijnath in Kangra yesterday reached the construction site near Ghatta and allegedly damaged the pipeline being laid by the IPH Department for a drinking water supply scheme for Pandol area in Mandi.
Amit Kapoor, a municipal councillor who reportedly led the agitated women to the site, claimed the proposed scheme would result in overexploitation of their local irrigation channels, thus adversely affecting their agricultural prospects. “The ‘khud’ is our lifeline. The lifting of water will render it dry,” said Kapoor. A senior IPH official said Bhatwali ‘khud’ had enough water and refuted the claims of the Ghankhetar women that villages downstream would face a water crisis. The Mandi administration too sought the assistance of the Kangra Deputy Commissioner for laying of the pipeline amicably. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/himachal-districts-clash-over-water-source-233988 (03 April 2021)
Odisha Water crisis stalks Rourkela With Koel river running dry and the proposed barrage project in a limbo for years, a vast population of Rourkela is staring at an impending water crisis ahead of peak summer. The Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) uses water from Koel river for around 70 per cent population of its captive township.
Similarly, the Public Health and Engineering Organisation (PHEO) sources water from the river for supply to Koel Nagar and Shakti Nagar areas in Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) limits. Koel Nagar resident Kapileswar Maharana said, water supply gets regulated during peak summer and the PHEO provides water tankers on being informed. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/mar/23/koel-barrage-project-in-limbo-water-crisis-stalks-rourkela-2280326.html (23 March 2021)
Manipur As rivers go dry, many areas around Imphal run out of treated water People in the Imphal west district and adjoining areas will not get treated water because the main source of raw water, the rivers, have gone bone dry. An official notification said that the water level at the Singda dam had gone down alarmingly. It supplies potable water to vast areas, including Imphal city.
For a long time consumers have been depending on the bottled ‘mineral water’. A 20-litre jar of this water is sold at ₹50. On the other hand, private traders have been delivering raw water to houses at ₹250 per one thousand litres. Several businessmen store river water in the giant underground tanks and sell it to the increasing number of water tanker drivers. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/as-rivers-go-dry-many-areas-around-imphal-run-out-of-treated-water/article34096803.ece (18 March 2021)
IMD IMD to forecast water-level rise in all dams, river basins “In order to enhance hydrological services, we plan to issue forecasts and predictions about possible rise in water level or water availability in river basins and reservoirs towards the end of every month during the monsoon between June and September. This can also be done bi-monthly or on a weekly basis,” said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general, IMD, on Monday (March 29).
“There is demand and users seek information on the volume of water available in reservoirs and rivers, especially during monsoon, which aids effective management,” Mohapatra said, adding that countries like US and Australia already had such services and forecasts being issued under probabilistic stream flow forecasts. Mohapatra also said sub-seasonal to seasonal weather predictions could also be handy in dealing with floods or drought-like situations during the monsoon.
While the Met department started these services on a pilot basis for a select 10 reservoir basins, namely Hirakud, Almatti, Krishna Raja Sagara, Idukki, among others, last year, the scheme will be expanded to all rivers and reservoirs during the upcoming monsoon. “The forecast accuracy is higher for large river or reservoir basins in comparison to smaller basins,” Mohapatra said.
M Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) gave an update on India’s efforts to strengthen its meteorological services, observational networks and computational capacities. “Since soil moisture is a vital parameter required in extended range predictions, the IMD is currently in the process of installing a national network of soil moisture observation stations. Initially, 200 stations will be deployed within the next few months and this will scaled up to 500,” Rajeevan said. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/monsoon-2021-imd-to-forecast-water-level-rise-in-all-dams-river-basins-for-effective-reservoir-7250692/ (29 March 2021)
Intense Wet Spell in Northeastern States The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued an orange colour alert for Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura for March 30-31 with a forecast of rains and thunderstorm over these northeastern states. It has also predicted an “intense wet spell” over northeast India until April 2. https://www.news18.com/news/india/imd-predicts-intense-wet-spell-in-northeastern-states-issues-orange-alert-from-march-30-31-3586220.html (29 March 2021)
Assam Flood free Assam a false dream “It is impossible to make Assam flood-free, not just in five years but in 50 years actually. Another thing to be pointed out here is that flood does not equal to disaster. All floods need not be avoided and sometimes stopping floods will do more harm than good.
The question we need to ask is what did they do in the last five years? They have been in power in the state for the last five years and in the Centre for the last seven years.” Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP. https://www.thequint.com/assam-elections/assam-flood-free-promise-by-bjp (31 March 2021)
Bihar Villagers oppose embankment on Bagmati Only a short stretch of the Bagmati river flows free. Farmers in Muzaffarpur are up in arms against the state government’s proposal to embank that portion too.
They fear this will lead to worse floods and increase sand deposits on their farmlands. https://en.gaonconnection.com/were-ready-to-die-but-wont-let-an-embankment-be-built-on-the-bagmati/ (03 April 2021)
Report Deadline for coal-fired utilities to adopt new emission norms pushed back India has pushed back deadlines for coal-fired power plants to adopt new emission norms by up to three years, and allowed utilities that miss the new target to continue operating after paying a penalty, according to a government notice. India had initially set a 2017 deadline for thermal power plants to install Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) units that cut emissions of sulphur dioxides. But that was postponed to varying deadlines for different regions, ending in 2022.
The new order dated April 1 from the environment ministry says plants near populous regions and the capital New Delhi will have to comply by 2022, while utilities in less polluting areas have up to 2025 to comply or retire units. Operators of coal-fired utilities including state-run NTPC Ltd and industry groups representing private companies such as Reliance Power and Adani Power have long been lobbying for dilution of the pollution standards, citing high compliance costs.
The latest notice follows suggestions from the power ministry that plants be given deadlines to adopt norms in line with the severity of pollution in the region where they are located. A task force will be constituted by the Central Pollution Control Board to categorise plants in three categories “on the basis of their location to comply with the emission norms”, the environment ministry said in its order. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/india-pushes-back-deadline-for-coal-fired-utilities-to-adopt-new-emission-norms-6723791.html/amp (02 April 2021)
Bharat Dogra on forest fires this year in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh even before the onset of summer. https://countercurrents.org/2021/04/increased-risk-of-forest-fires-in-himalayan-region/ (05 April 2021)
Uttarakhand The forest fires are a result of 80% lesser rains the state received than usual, leaving the entire forest floor dry, and leading officials to anticipate a rerun of the 2016 situation when IAF helicopters had to be deployed as 4,538 hectares of forest area was turned into ashes in wildfires causing loss worth Rs 46.29 lakh. Notably, in 983 fire incidents this year, over 1,291 hectare forests have been gutted and six human lives were lost, which resulted in loss of Rs 38.29 lakh. The state has lost 735.22 ha forest in Garhwal region followed by 531.01 ha in Kumaon and 24.9 ha of wildlife administration. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-govt-asks-defence-ministry-for-choppers-to-control-forest-fires-in-hills/articleshow/81890290.cms (04 April 2021)
Tamil Nadu Parties compelled to include green issues in manifestos The ‘Tamil Nadu Environmental Report Card’ released by local group ‘Poovulagin Nanbargal’ mentions there is an increased environmental consciousness in the state. People are better informed about how development projects have come up at the cost of the livelihoods of the poor. https://en.gaonconnection.com/tamil-nadu-elections-climate-change-dmk-aidmk-kamal-haasan-chennai-water-crisis-tuticorin/ (03 April 2021)
Also see In Tamil Nadu Environment is a Good Politics https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/in-tamil-nadu-environment-is-good-politics/article34239016.ece (05 April 2021)
Commentary Rivers can be climate change solutions too The usual avenues for addressing and adapting to climate change–like protecting forests and ramping up clean energy sources–typically overlook one powerful solution: rivers. Rivers and their floodplains have the potential to act as shock absorbers to climate change, and are powerful agents for keeping wildlife and communities healthy and resilient. The most effective climate action plans will account for this and incorporate rivers into their plans for* a climate-resilient future, argues Michele Thieme, a freshwater scientist at WWF. https://news.mongabay.com/2021/03/rivers-can-be-climate-change-solutions-too-commentary/ (30 March 2021)
SANDRP Blog Massive Landslide on Yarlung Tsangpo on March 22, 2021 News of Massive Landslide of about about 100 Million Tons on Yarlung Tsangpo on March 22, 2021, fall of rock mass from a height of 3900 m. Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/30/massive-landslide-on-yarlung-tsangpo-on-march-22-2021/ (30 March 2021)
India-China Loose statement from such a senior former official: “a massive dam — three times the size of the Three Gorges Dam in Sichuan province — will be constructed on the Great Bend on the Brahmaputra.” The proposed Dam won’t be three times larger than Three Gorges Dam, the power generation capacity is proposed to be three times larger.
– There are other mistakes too. But this is welcome statement: “The dams to be constructed on the young and fragile Himalayas will pose an ever-present danger to those living downstream, and adversely impact livelihoods of millions of people who reside in the Indo-Gangetic plain.”
– That is indeed true for all dam proposals in this region, including those by India. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/chinas-plans-on-tibet-and-border-infra-will-pose-a-threat-to-india-101617191632382.html (31 March 2021)
Pakistan Indus, Ganges river dolphins declared separate species The research work, which took 20 years to complete, was led by Dr Gill Braulik of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews, who travelled across India and Pakistan to gather data for the study. The research shows that the two river dolphin species have different numbers of teeth, coloration, growth patterns and skull shapes as well clear genetic differences. “Recognising the differences between Indus and Ganges river dolphins is extremely important as only a few thousand individuals of each species remain,” said Dr Braulik. https://www.dawn.com/news/1614222/ (24 March 2021)
Bangladesh Could Floating Gardens Protect Flood-Prone Communities? Fascinating traditional way to deal with floods. Floating gardens — known as dhap, or locally as baira — have been used in south-central Bangladesh for 300-400 years, BBC reported. Farmers build their own floating gardens out of plants, and like rafts, the gardens fall in and out with the moving water, according to Ohio State News. In a study published recently in the Journal of Agriculture, Food and Environment, researchers interviewed families who use this farming method to determine how the gardens could provide food and income security, despite the impacts of a changing climate, like heavier rainfall and stronger cyclones, Ohio State News reported. https://www.ecowatch.com/floating-gardens-bangladesh-flooding-2651320228.html (01 April 2021)
Bangladesh Produces 86 per cent of the world’s hilsa, that is, 533,000 tonnes. Four years ago Bangladesh would produce 65 per cent of the world’s hilsa. India ranks second in producing this fish and Myanmar third. Hilsa is also found in small amounts in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Pakistan.
– Bangladesh ranks third, globally, in the production of freshwater fish. Despite the pitiful state of its rivers and streams, FAO says Bangladesh produces 10 per cent of the world’s freshwater fish. China is first, making up 16 per cent and India second with 14 per cent. https://en.prothomalo.com/business/bangladesh-among-worlds-top-10-in-13-sectors (27 March 2021)
Critics query HEP path to carbon neutrality On July 1, the day China’s Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary, the country will also mark another milestone – when its newest hydropower plant is powered up for the first time. The 170 billion yuan (US$26 billion) Baihetan Dam on the Jinsha (Yangtze) River, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, has raised eyebrows for the speed of its construction. It took only four years to build the world’s largest arch dam, despite the treacherous terrain and remote location, with the help of artificial intelligence technology.
– By the end of 2018, Chinese hydropower had 352GW of capacity, 28 per cent of the global total and more than three times that of any other nation.
– Fan Xiao, a geologist and chief engineer of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau, said “Talk of hydro development only serves vested interests and local governments, to spur GDP, disguised as pursuing carbon neutrality.” https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3127812/chinas-dam-rush-critics-query-hydropower-path-carbon-neutrality (01 April 2021)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
Australia Fire & floods: ‘Whole areas will be uninsurable’ This report discusses issues related to insurance in climate change induced disasters, relevant mostly in more developed countries. In the context of NSW floods recently in Australia. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/apr/02/fire-and-flood-whole-areas-of-australia-will-be-uninsurable (01 April 2021)
GERD Egypt leader says Nile water ‘untouchable’ Egypt’s President has said his country’s share of the Nile River’s waters are “untouchable” in a stark warning to Ethiopia, which is building a giant dam on the Nile’s main tributary. The comment from President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi comes amid a deadlock in the years-long talks over the dam between the Nile Basin countries, which also includes Sudan. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/in-stark-warning-egypt-leader-says-nile-water-untouchable/article34203368.ece (31 March 2021)
Study A third of global farmland at ‘high’ pesticide pollution risk The study did not look directly at impacts on human health, but researchers said the leaching of pesticides into water used for drinking could pose a risk and called for a greater analysis into contamination of rivers, estuaries and lakes.
The report found that Asia has the largest land area, 4.9 million square kilometres, at high risk, with China accounting for 2.9 million square kilometres of that. Researchers said estimates of elevated contamination in Russia, Ukraine and Spain meant nearly 62 percent of European agricultural land (2.3 million square kilometres) is at high risk of pesticide pollution.
The researchers also broke down risks in terms of type of environment—soil, surface water, ground water and atmosphere. Of these, Tang said surface water is the most vulnerable because run-off can pollute waterways. The study called for a global strategy to transition towards “sustainable agriculture and sustainable living”, involving low pesticide use, reduced food loss and food waste. https://phys.org/news/2021-03-global-farmland-high-pesticide-pollution.html (29 March 2021)
WMD 2021 Oceans seriously threatened Unless more efforts are channelled towards addressing the rising ocean levels, the future of the global environment could be in peril. That was the message of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to mark the 2021 World Meteorological Day. http://ecotech.live/2021/03/23/world-meteorological-day-oceans-are-seriously-threatened/ (23 March 2021)
Compiled by SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also see: DRP News Bulletin 29 March 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 22 March 2021
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