(Feature image:- Rampant sand mining damaging Yamuna’s ecology. Hridesh Joshi/Mongabay India)
The Yamuna river has been facing excessive riverbed mining along Haryana and Uttar Pradesh states in upper segment for over last two years. There have been umpteen numbers of local people, mainly part of Yamuna Nadi Mitra Mandli have shared pictures, videos showing gross violation of norms. They have even been alerting and appealing the respective agencies including pollution control boards, district administration, mining departments to take strict action against the open violations but their pleas have largely been ignored.
This stretch is so mining ridden that in the last two years more than 30 people particularly teenagers have died after falling in deep sand mining pits. Similarly more than a dozen innocent people lost their live in accidents involving the transportation of Yamuna sand. The damage to village roads, flood protection structures, crops is immense. The noise and air pollution due to unabated mining operations have taken heavy toll on villagers’ health.
Against the norms, the heavy machines can be seen digging sand by entering active flowing course of river thus creating havoc for aquatic eco-system. Similarly, creation of cross sectional bunds, diversion of river channel, mining throughout nights is rampant. Local people, reporters are claiming that the local politicians are involved in illegal, destructive mining practices.
The river is facing such a massive scale mining despite it being monsoon deficit for last two years. There has been no attempt by mining departments of both states to assess the replenishment of already excavated minerals. The excessive mining practices have been exhausting the shallow sandy aquifers resulting in river running dry at most of the places upstream of Delhi.
The fishermen, boatmen, riverbed farmers have been adversely affected by sand mafia and a flowless river. Several areas in both the states which are dependent on Yamuna water including Delhi are reeling under severe water crisis but there has been no intention or effort to halt the unsustainable, mechanized mining operations. The prevailing scenario in Yamuna river mirrors the plight of most of the rivers and riverine people across the country warranting serious overhaul of sand mining governance before the nation is made to pay a heavy price.
Jharkhand CBI books top mines safety official on graft charge The CBI has booked a Deputy Director-General (DDG) of the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS), Arvind Kumar, and others on graft charge. The agency has also seized ₹35 lakh, allegedly the first instalment of bribe. “The DDG and two private persons have been detained. The other two have been identified as Kailash Mandal, a relative of Mr. Kumar; and Triloki Nath Singh,” said a CBI official, adding that two more persons were under the scanner.
The DDG is posted at the DGMS Central Zone head office in Dhanbad. It is alleged that the official extended undue favours to 48 candidates who appeared in an oral examination after qualifying the computer-based tests for Manager’s Certificate of Competency (Restricted & Unrestricted). The oral examination was conducted from March 8 to March 20. Members of the interview board were influenced to ensure that such candidates were selected, as alleged. The accused official had agreed to accept ₹1.5 lakh per head for the job. The amount was to be delivered in two instalments in Bihar’s Lakhisarai. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cbi-books-directorate-general-of-mines-safety-ddg-on-graft-charge/article34351807.ece (18 April 2021)
Bihar 3 labourers tragically killed as illegal sand truck overturns A tractor carrying illegal sand overturned uncontrollably near Gulli Tand village on SH-69 of Paliganj divisional headquarters police station area of Patna on Thursday (April 15) morning. Three labourers died on the spot in the accident. The three deceased labourers were residents of Ankuri village in Paliganj divisional headquarters police station area and used to feed the family by paying wages. According to locals, the business of digging and transporting illegal sand from the Sone river in the area is at its peak. It is alleged that this work is being done under the protection of the police. https://english.newstracklive.com/news/3-labors-died-during-a-road-accident-in-patna-bihar-mc23-nu764-ta281-1155157-1.html (15 April 2021)
Man killed over illegal sand mining extortion in Maner Sukhdev Rai, a 37 years old man resident of Chhitnawa village under Maner police station, Patna shot dead on April 27 reportedly due to rivalry over collecting extortion from boats involved in illegal sand mining from river Ganga. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/man-killed-over-illegal-sand-mining-extortion-in-maner/articleshow/82279502.cms (28 April 2021) मनेर थाना क्षेत्र के शेरपुर में अवैध बालू खनन व वसूली में वर्चस्व को लेकर सोमवार की रात दो गुटों में फायरिग हुई, जिसमें एक व्यक्ति की गोली लगने से मौत हो गई। बताते चलें कि तीन-तीन जिलों की सीमा पर पड़ने वाले मनेर में अवैध बालू खनन व वसूली को लेकर इन दिनों अक्सर बंदूकें गरज रही हैं, लेकिन प्रशासन इस पर रोक नहीं लगा पा रहा है। https://www.jagran.com/bihar/patna-city-firing-in-maner-one-man-dead-21597367.html (28 April 2021) दो दिन पहले ही अवैध बालू खनन को लेकर पटना से सटे मनेर में दो गुटों के बीच खूनी झड़प हुई थी और इसमें एक मजदूर की हत्या कर दी गई थी। https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/bihar/patna/mining-department-come-in-action-after-murder-at-balu-ghat/videoshow/76870953.cms (09 July 2020)
My Town Suffers as Sand Mining Pollutes Rohtas Trucks transporting sand extracted from the banks of Sone River in Bihar’s Rohtas district is causing safety and health concerns for residents of Dalmianagar. The bridge which connects one town to another is filled with sand deposit on either side of the road. Due to this, there is increased air pollution and problems while driving. If one stands on the railway overbridge, which is in Dehri-on-Sone, it can be seen that sand has been deposited on both sides. It is caused by the tractors or trucks carrying sand. https://www.thequint.com/my-report/dehri-dalmianagar-air-pollution-sand-mining-sone-river-citizen-report (26 March 2021)
Uttar Pradesh रेत ट्रक में घुसी बाइक, मां–बेटे की मौके पर मौत सहारनपुर जनपद में गुरुवार (March 18) को एक और बड़ा हादसा हो गया। नागल थाना क्षेत्र में नेशनल हाईवे-344 के बाईपास पर बालू रेत से भरे ट्रक के पीछे बाइक घुसने से मां-बेटे की मौत हो गई।
थाना ननौता क्षेत्र के गांव याहियापुर निवासी करीब 26 वर्षीय अरुण कुमार पुत्र नरेश अपनी मां विद्या को लेकर बाइक से गागलहेड़ी की ओर जा रहा था। लखनौर स्थित फ्लाईओवर से करीब 100 मीटर दूर बाइक आगे चल रहे बालू रेत से भरे ट्रक में घुस गई। बताया गया कि बाइक और मां-बेटे करीब 50 मीटर तक घिसटते चले गए। लोगों के शोर मचाने पर ट्रक चालक ने ट्रक को रोका। घटना की जानकारी लगने पर परिजनों में कोहराम मच गया। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/saharanpur/up-news-mother-and-son-dies-in-road-accident-on-national-highway-at-saharanpur (18 March 2021)
रेत से भरे तेज रफ्तार ट्रक ने बाइक सवार को रौंदा जाफरपुर इलाके में रेत से भरे एक तेज रफ्तार ट्रक ने बाइक सवार को रौंद दिया। घटना को अंजाम देने के बाद चालक ट्रक समेत फरार हो गया। लेकिन वहां अपने दोस्त का इंतजार कर रहे फायरकर्मी ने अपनी कार से ट्रक का पीछा किया और करीब ढाई किलोमीटर तक पीछा करने के बाद चालक को दबोच कर पुलिस के हवाले कर दिया। बाइक सवार की मौके पर मौत हो गई थी। पुलिस ने उसके शव को पोस्टमार्टम के लिए भेजकर ट्रक चालक को गिरफ्तार कर लिया।
मृतक के पास से मिले कागजात के जरिए उसकी पहचान प्रह्लादपुर सोनीपत हरियाणा निवासी पवन (23) के रूप में हुई। पुलिस ने ट्रक चालक गांव बेदपुरा इटावा यूपी निवासी जय कुमार के खिलाफ लापरवाही से वाहन चलाने से हुई मौत का मामला दर्ज कर जांच कर रही है। https://www.amarujala.com/delhi/high-speed-truck-loaded-with-dust-crushed-the-bike-rider-died-on-spot-driver-arrest (31 Jan. 2021)
Haryana Mining obstructed, 12 booked The police have booked 12 farmers for allegedly obstructing mining work of a firm in the district’s Jathlana area. On the complaint of Kanwaljeet Singh Batra, a case was registered against Karhera village farmers under Sections 120B, 147, 149, 341 and 506 of the IPC at the Jathlana police station on Saturday (April 10). https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/mining-obstructed-12-booked-237899 (12 April 2021) https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/yamunanagar-12-booked-for-obstructing-mining/articleshow/82023999.cms (12 April 2021)
Rajasthan 1 injured in clash over sand mining A person sustained injuries when two rival gangs engaged in sand mining clashed with each other in Khejadli area of Luni in Jodhpur on Tuesday ( April 13) evening. The injured allegedly sustained a bullet injury and is undergoing treatment at AIIMS.
Though police have not yet confirmed the bullet injuries, eyewitnesses said the attackers fired shots during the clash injuring one person. Attackers also damaged the vehicles at the site and fled from the spot. No arrest has been made by police till late night. SHO (Luni) Parmeshwari said both the gangs belonged to two cousins, Raju Ram and Ashok Bishnoi, who have been staking claim on a piece of land for sand mining in Khejadli village. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/one-injured-in-clash-over-sand-mining/articleshow/82056191.cms (14 April 2021)
Assam Fuel tanker collides with sand truck in Bokajan In a tragic incident, a fuel tanker driver was burnt alive after his vehicle collided head-on with a sand truck in the Sarhiajan locality over NH 39 in East Karbi Anglong on Wednesday (April 21). According to police, the mishap occurred when the fuel tanker (NL 01L 0110) heading towards Golaghat ramped into a sand-carrying truck (AS 01BC 9259) coming from the opposite direction. The impact of the collision was so severe that it triggered a fire in the cabin of the fuel tanker resulting in the death of the driver. The driver, who was stuck in the steering wheel of the truck, could not manage to escape and was burnt alive inside the cabin of the tanker. The driver of the sand truck reportedly escaped unhurt and fled the spot after the accident. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/assam-news/driver-charred-to-death-after-fuel-tanker-collides-with-truck-in-bokajan-536068 (29 April 2021)
Karnataka Alert railway keyman averts possible train accident A potential accident was averted in the Bengaluru Railway Division between Channarayanapatna and Shravanabelagola stations on Wednesday (April 21) morning after an alert keyman alerted a Station Master about a sand tipper that had fallen on the tracks. A localite had tipped him off about the incident, said an official release. According to railway sources, the driver Dharmaraj had parked the sand tipper on a road near the tracks.
‘He had switched off the engine and applied hand brakes of the vehicle before leaving it. When he returned after some time, he found his truck had rolled down a slope leading from the road to the tracks and fallen fully upturned on it. The driver had no clue how the brake got released,” the source said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2021/apr/21/alert-railway-keyman-averts-possible-train-accident-in-bengalurudivision-after-truck-rolls-onto-tra-2293024.html ( 21 April 2021)
Tamil Nadu No illegal sand mining in Srivaikundam dam: NGT Panel The Public Works Department (PWD) has received a clean chit from a NGT panel over an allegation of illegal sand mining in the guise of desilting at Srivaikundam in Thoothukudi. The five-member joint committee constituted by the NGT southern bench to probe the allegations has submitted its report and said that no evidence of any irregularity was found. The report was considered by the NGT bench when the matter came up for hearing on Thursday.
However, the counsel for the petitioner R Nallakannu argued that the joint committee’s observations cannot be taken on face value as the panel visited the site nearly four years after the sand mining was alleged. The PWD had commenced the desilting in 2015 and continued with the work till August 11, 2016, until the NGT interfered after multiple petitions were filed alleging sand mining in the guise of desilting. “In the last four years fresh silt got deposited, erasing all physical evidence,” the counsel for petitioner added. The NGT panel then said that it would like to dispose of the matter and posted it to Friday for judgement. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/apr/16/no-illegal-sand-mining-in-srivaikundam-dam-panel-2290529.html (16 April 2021)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
Arunachal Pradesh Pro-dam group wants 142 power projects scrapped A pro-dam group in Arunachal has demanded the scrapping of 142 power projects across the State. The Pro-Dam Movement of Arunachal Pradesh (PDMAP) said the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed between the State government and private power companies for these 142 projects need to be cancelled for violating the terms and conditions of the agreements. PDMAP president Taw Paul said the organisation had on April 28 submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Pema Khandu seeking the termination of the deals for these power projects as the government failed to commission any of them in more than a decade. “The State government should come clean and give the people all the details of the expenditure incurred on these projects till date, as ₹1,495.73 crore had been collected from private and public power developers as upfront cost for the hydropower projects,” he said.
– Among the other demands of the organisation was a white paper on the revenue obtained from at least three commissioned hydroelectric projects — the 600 MW Kameng, the 110 MW Pare and the 40 MW Ranganadi. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pro-dam-arunachal-group-wants-142-power-projects-scrapped/article34449250.ece (30 April 2021)
Assam 2 die of shock after 6.4 magnitude quake The earthquake, which was felt across Northeast India, Bihar, West Bengal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, also left several buildings and roads in the northern and western parts of the State damaged.
The National Centre of Seismology (NCS) said the epicentre of the earthquake at a depth of 10 km was Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district, and preliminary analysis showed it was located near the Kopili Fault closer to the Himalayan Frontal Thrust. “The area is seismically very active falling in the highest Seismic Hazard Zone V associated with collisional tectonics where Indian Plate subducts beneath the Eurasian Plate,” the NCS said in a statement, adding that the last major earthquake in the region was of magnitude 6.0 on July 29, 1960.
Locals in Dhekiajuli claimed a dry river at Gadhorjuli nearby was filled with water soon after the earthquake. But Sonitpur’s Deputy Commissioner Manvendra Pratap Singh said there was no official confirmation. There were similar reports from agricultural fields elsewhere in Dhekiajuli.
Wednesday’s (April 28) earthquake left a trail of destruction in western Arunachal Pradesh with at least 22 houses — seven of them razed — damaged in Tawang district. Two people, injured after their houses collapsed, were undergoing treatment, officials said. Several buildings in the adjoining West Kameng district suffered damage, too. There were reports of quake-induced landslides, including one between Membachur and Gorbow villages blocking a vital road. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/earthquake-of-magnitude-64-strikes-assam/article34427787.ece (28 April 2021)
Uttarakhand Chamoli avalanche: Army rescues 384 people Meanwhile, informing more about the area of the incident, prominent geologist and director of Uttarakhand Space Application Centre, MPS Bisht said, “According to the satellite images, the incident happened in the upper Sumna area near Rimkhim Nala due to heavy snowfall in the past few days.” “The place is approximately 25 kms upstream from Malari village in the tributary of Girthi Ganga river there,” said Bisht adding that, “In 1991-92 also an avalanche took place in Sumna area which had hit the ITBP camp there. At that time, 11 ITBP jawans had died.”
The BRO, through its official Twitter handle, informed, “The Malari-Sumna road in the area has been extensively damaged due to multiple landslides. BRO teams have swung into action at different locations to clear the debris with dozers and blasting efforts.” Earlier on Friday (April 23) night after receiving information about the incident, CM Rawat had “given the order to stop the work during the night in NTPC and other projects so that no untoward incident occurs”. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/dehradun-news/chamoli-avalanche-army-rescues-384-people-working-with-bro-8-bodies-recovered-101619260380303.html (24 April 2021)
The death toll in an avalanche at Sumna near the Indo-China border in Chamoli district rose to 15 on Monday (April 26) with the recovery of three more bodies, an official said. Three people are still missing and efforts are on to locate them, Chamoli Disaster Management Officer N K Joshi said.
Sumna, where the avalanche occurred on Friday (April 23), is located near the confluence of the Girthigad and Kiogad, two streams that originate from the Dhauli Ganga river, which witnessed a calamitous avalanche in February, killing 80 people and leaving 126 missing. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/uttarakhand-avalanche-toll-rises-to-15/article34415734.ece (26 April 2021)
INTERLINKING OF RIVERS
Ken Betwa Link A huge costly mistake Even though there are some inaccuracies here, it raises the important question of viable alternatives to Ken Betwa Link Proposal. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-huge-costly-mistake/article34361148.ece (20 April 2021)
INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES
Haryana-Delhi SC forms committee to inspect Yamuna water entering Delhi As Delhi and Haryana blame each other for pollution in the Yamuna, leading to a drinking water problem in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Monday (April 19) appointed a committee headed by secretary of the Jal Shakti ministry to inspect and file a report on the quality and quantity of water coming from Haryana to Delhi at the Wazirabad plant.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian decided to set up the committee after allegations from the two states. The committee, also comprising one member each from Delhi Pollution Control Board, Delhi Jal Board, Haryana Pollution Control Board and Haryana Agricultural Board, is to file a report within three days and the bench will examine it on Friday (April 30). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/sc-forms-committee-to-inspect-yamuna-water-entering-delhi/articleshow/82152573.cms (20 April 2021)
Mula-Mutha, Pune PMC starts work on riverfront project On the line of the Sabarmati riverfront development project of Gujarat, PMC had given a green signal to develop the Mula-Mutha river in 2015. PMC has set a target of 10 years to complete the project with an estimated cost of ₹2,619 crore.
In November 2019, Maharashtra State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has given a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the project. Now, PMC is awaiting approval from the state government to form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to operate the project like metro and smart city. It has pending for the last year.
In the 2021-22 annual budget, PMC commissioner has allocated ₹150 crore for the project. According to civic officials, the Mula-Mutha river flows in PMC, PCMC, Khadki and Pune Cantonment areas for 44 kms. PMC will have to spend ₹20 crore per km for the development of the riverfront. It will take more than 5 years to complete the project.
There are 650 hectares of land available for the development green belt of the river which will be given to development to private players to get funds for the project. Out of 650 hectares, only 75 hectares belongs to the government and the remaining is private. Hence, the PMC will get money from development charges from the development of land along the riverfront.
Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporations (PCMC) will have to raise a seed fund of ₹500 crore. The remaining amount of the project will have to raise from private parties. However, it will happen after the approval of the state government to form an SPV for the project. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/riverfront-development-project-pmc-starts-work-on-4km-bund-garden-to-sangamwadi-bridge-stretch-101617283317523.html (01 April 2021)
Pushkar Kulkarni on FB post comment TERI’s report submitted to Govt of Maharashtra mentions a rise of almost 37.5% in annual rainfall in Pune by 2050.
For the last 2 years, the city has already experienced 20-30% higher annual rainfall that resulted in horrific floods.
RFD, River Rejuvenation, Metro pillars inside the Mutha riverbed, massive debris dumping, constructions inside blue floodlines and flood plains, the proposed unified DCPR allowing STPs inside floodlines are a recipe for a #KolhapurSangli level floods or worse given the saucer shaped geography of Pune city. https://www.moneylife.in/article/rti-reveals-kolhapur-floods-caused-by-tampering-with-technically-established-flood-lines-to-please-builders/57983.html (22 Aug. 2019)
Exploring Alternatives to the Sabarmati Model Like the majority of rivers in India, Mula and Mutha rivers of Pune, Maharashtra, have been condensed to severely polluted, vulnerable waterbodies. These rivers are burdened further as they are set to host a riverfront along the lines of the Sabarmati riverfront project, which itself has attracted severe criticism. https://www.epw.in/journal/2021/2/commentary/riverfront-development-mula%E2%80%93mutha.html (09 Jan. 2021)
Vaigai; Madurai How thirst quencher river turned dry Today the Vaigai river that flows through Madurai is bone dry within the city limits nearly 300 days a year, but for centuries it had sustained life along its banks. Encroachment at its origin, release of sewage and lack of desiltation over the years gradually led to the water source turning into a trickle. And now, as the city struggles to find adequate drinking water, the government has embarked on a Rs 1,296-crore project to bring water from the Mullaperiyar dam.
The present degradation is a result of neglect over the past three decades. Records show, the first modern drinking water supply was provided to Madurai city in the year 1892 through head works at Arappalayam of the river Vaigai. The second head works for water supply to the city was established in 1924 in Kochadai. The water sourced directly from the river was filtered and supplied into the pipeline system. British engineer J A Jones was in charge of the first protected water supply to the city, as he led the Arapalayam Water Works, a project commissioned by the Madurai municipality and completed in 1894 at a cost of Rs 6.23 lakh.
This was the major supply system when Madurai became a corporation in 1971, and continued to supply water to the people till the early 1990s, after which the river became too polluted and shallow. In 1959, the Vaigai dam was constructed and water began to be drawn from it.
R Sivakumar, co-author of ‘Vaigai Thadam Thedi’ says the city has undergone severe droughts, but the river had always helped overcome the crisis. “About 25 years ago, the river bed ran dry, and water could not be drawn from the dam, then borewells were laid on the river bed for water supply. This river is a gift to the city and needs proper protection and maintenance,’’ he said. At present Madurai receives 115MLD from the Vaigai dam, where water is brought to Pannaipatti in Theni treated and supplied through pipes to the city. The Cauvery Integrated drinking water scheme provides another 11MLD, river bed sources and infiltration wells provide another 44MLD. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/how-madurais-thirst-quencher-turned-dry/articleshow/79673800.cms (11 Dec. 2020)
Markanda; Ambala 6 rusted bombs found on dry river bed Some locals noticed two bombs on the dry river bed near Panjali village on the Ambala-Kurukshetra border and alerted the authorities. “These were the upper projectile metal part, but there was no marking on them as they were highly rusted. Such recoveries have been made in the area earlier too. A probe has been initiated,” said the SSP. Locals said the bombs could be part of an army drill conducted in the area decades ago. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/6-rusted-bombs-found-on-dry-river-bed-in-ambala-101615654964537.html (13 March 2021)
Pune Forest dept to build 40 check-dams at Taljai hills amid PMC inaction On September 25, 2019, the flash floods in the city had led to the deaths of 14 people, including four people from Sahakarnagar alone, and uncountable wildlife and vehicles had been washed away. A study by environment experts had blamed uncontrolled development and deforestation on the neighboring Taljai hill, known as the sub-range of Sahyadri hills, as the major cause.
Despite the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) claims of fixing the problem and repeated criticism, absolutely nothing was done for two long years. However now, finally, the Pune forest department on Wednesday (April 21) conducted a survey of Taljai tekdi in Sahakarnagar to build 40 check-dams, sanctioned by the state forest department to prevent flash floods. The structures will reduce the high volume of rainwater flowing down the hill and ensure percolation. A small lake will also be created on the hill to collect excessive rainwater. https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/cover-story/forest-dept-to-build-40-check-dams-at-taljai-hills-amid-pmc-inaction/articleshow/82203408.cms (23 April 2021)
Madhya Pradesh Wainganga: A lifeline of Central India This is part 1 of a 3 part series on the Wainganga river and learnings from a research project conducted in 2011. https://veditum.org/2021/04/23/wainganga-a-lifeline-of-central-india/ (23 April 2021)
A river’s story This is the story of the river Kanari and her struggle for survival against all odds! https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/rivers-story (18 April 2021)
Kerala HC sets aside GO levying cess on industrial use of river water High Court has set aside a 2009 government order imposing a cess on industries extracting river water for their use. Justice N Nagaresh passed the verdict while allowing writ petitions filed by FACT, Kochi, MRF Limited, Kottayam, and Sree Sakthi Paper Mills, Kochi, against enhancement of cess on river water.
The court observed that Article 265 of the Constitution of India provides that no tax shall be levied or collected except by the authority of law. Tax, duty, cess, or fee were levied by the State government to raise revenue. In fact, each expression denoted different kinds of “imposts” depending on the purpose for which they were levied. This power could be exercised in any of its manifestations only under any law authorising levy and collection of tax as envisaged under Article 265. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/kerala-hc-sets-aside-go-levying-cess-on-industrial-use-of-river-water/article34379168.ece (21 April 2021)
West Bengal Demolish illegal Teesta pubs: HC The circuit bench of Calcutta High Court here on Tuesday (April 27) asked the government to demolish illegal constructions, including pubs and restaurants, along the Teesta river and in front of residential buildings of judges in Jalpaiguri within 24 hours.
Taking suo motu cognisance of unauthorised constructions coming up at the confluence of rivers Teesta and Korola, Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj directed the district magistrate and police chief of Jalpaiguri to bring down the structures without delay. The court further observed that the illegally built pubs and restaurants were a big draw for people and could turn the area into a Covid-19 hotspot. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/demolish-illegal-teesta-pubs-hc-to-bengal/articleshow/82281494.cms (28 April 2021)
Punjab 200 Cusecs Canal Water To Clean Budha Nullah Chief Secretary, Ms Vini Mahajan, on Tuesday, issued a slew of directions, including release of 200 cusecs water into Budha Nullah from Sirhind canal by next month and setting up of a task force to eliminate the single-use plastic menace to save the environment.
Chairing the 13th state apex committee to review the progress of environment action plans, the Chief Secretary directed the Water Resources department to complete the project of releasing 200 cusecs of fresh water from Sirhind canal into Budha Nullah by May besides immediately stopping the discharge of sewage and effluents, mainly from Ludhiana, into the Sutlej river, of which Budha Nullah is a seasonal tributary.
Reviewing the progress of 120 STPs being set up in various towns of the state, the Chief Secretary directed all the departments concerned to complete these projects in a stipulated time frame. https://orissadiary.com/200-cusecs-canal-water-to-clean-budha-nullah-next-month-punjab-cs/ (28 April 2021)
PPCB not authorised to issue challans reveals RTI In an interesting reply to the right to information (RTI) filed by city-based social activist Rajesh Gupta with Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), it has emerged that the department does not have powers to issue any challans for violation of any norms related to Noise Pollution Rules 2000 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974. According to the activist, the information was received after a second appeal filed by him. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/ppcb-not-authorised-to-issue-challans-against-violators-of-noise-water-pollution-rules/articleshow/82134423.cms (19 April 2021)
GANGA A stirring documentary on the Ganga Filmmaker Siddharth Agarwal walked 3,000 km along the mighty river, gathering myths and true stories from those whose lives are linked directly to its fate. https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/art-culture/not-all-who-meander-are-lost-a-stirring-documentary-on-the-ganga-101619792034917.html (02 May 2021)
An IITian’s walk by Ganga Completed in over 10 months in 2016-17, the walk presented a unique way of knowing the ecosystem. Through assimilation. A documentary, ‘Moving Upstream: Ganga’, brings alive this journey. Siddharth recounts the hiccups, the connections and the learnings when he negotiated the maze of varied landscapes, languages and cultures with Ganga being the constant companion. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/features/an-iitians-walk-by-ganga-from-bengal-to-uttarakhand-240338 (18 April 2021)
West Bengal गंगा नदी की हर साल बढ़ती कटाई से बेहाल हैं लोग पश्चिम बंगाल में गंगा नदी के किनारे स्थित गांव कई वर्षों से नदी के द्वारा कटाई की परेशानी का सामना कर रहे हैं। इस कटाई में नदी गांव की सीमा में प्रवेश कर जाती है और अपने साथ घर और खेतों को बहा ले जाती है। कई स्थानीय विशेषज्ञ नदी की बढ़ती कटाई के लिए फरक्का बैराज के निर्माण को जिम्मेदार मानते हैं। उनका मानना है कि नदी की राह में यह बैराज बाधा बन गया और पानी आसपास के गांव तक पहुंचने लगा। इस कटाव से बचने के लिए विशेषज्ञ स्थायी रणनीति बनाने पर बल देते हैं। आने वाले दिनों में जलवायु परिवर्तन की वजह से बाढ़ और कटाव की समस्या बढ़ेगी। ऐसे में ठोस रणनीति का होना जरूरी हो जाता है। https://hindi.mongabay.com/2021/04/21/erosion-along-gangas-riverbanks-in-west-bengal-finds-new-victims/ (21 April 2021)
Uttarakhand गंगा की खातिर सन्यासियों के संघर्ष की गाथा द्वारा डॉ. संदीप पाण्डेय कहा जाता है कि जब सत्ता और समाज प्रकृति के जीवनदायी संसाधनों की दुर्दशा की तरफ से मुंह फेर लेते हैं तो उनकी तरफदारी में आध्यात्मिक ताकतें खड़ी होती हैं। गंगा की बदहाली से निपटने और उसकी अविरलता बनाए रखने में भी हाल के सालों में सन्यासियों ने बीड़ा उठाया है। https://www.spsmedia.in/people-movement/saga-of-sanyasis-struggle-for-the-sake-of-ganga/ (25 April 2021)
YAMUNA Delhi DDA destroys Yamuna floodplain farmers’ crops On April 19, 2021 noon, half a dozen JCB machines, tractors invaded the floodplain of river near CWG village. For about two hours the machines ran over their farm produces including vegetables and other crops. Most of the farmers are migrants belonging to economically weaker section.
We are in the middle of a pandemic. They have nowhere to go and already suffering livelihoods losses due to lockdown and other restrictions. There is enormous scope to include them in restoration work and generate livelihood opportunity for the deserving lot. Instead of criminalizing their profession and chasing them away, they must be made an important stakeholders in the rejuvenation of Yamuna. https://youtu.be/GlBWYUmfD04 (19 April 2021)
A thin layer of toxic foam was seen floating in the Yamuna river at Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj area today. The toxic foam was seen floating in the Yamuna river on April 26 also. https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/thin-layer-of-toxic-foam-floats-near-yamuna-river-bank-in-delhi-2417890 (20 April 2021) Yamuna Chhath is also known as Yamuna Jayanti. Goddess Yamuna is worshipped as the consort of Lord Krishna, the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. https://www.timesnownews.com/spiritual/religion/article/yamuna-chhath-today-everything-you-need-to-know-about-it/746418 (18 April 2021) Foam-covered, polluted River Yamuna plays host to ancient Hindu festival https://next.blue/articles/foam-covered-polluted-river-yamuna-plays-host-to-ancient-hindu-festival
Jharkhand Dolphin found dead in Ganga ghat A Gangetic dolphin was found dead in river Ganges at the Pranpur Ghat in Sahibganj district near the Jharkhand-West Bengal border.
The death of the dolphin may have occurred due to being trapped in the fishing net but the main cause of the death is yet to be determined, sources said. Earlier, on December 18, 2020, a dead dolphin was also found on the banks of river Ganges near Kaswa village of Jharkhand’s Rajmahal district. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/dolphin-found-dead-ganga-river-ghat-sahibganj-district-jharkhand-1768026-2021-02-11 (11 Feb. 2021)
Gharial nesting threatened by woody vegetation on riverbanks A flood event in 2010 caused a natural shift in the Karnali River reducing water flow on a stretch of the Girwa River where gharials nest. This likely contributed to a subsequent loss of gharial nesting sites on riverbanks and growth in vegetation at those sites.
The number of gharial nest sites and nests declined from 2015 to 2019 in Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary near the Indo-Nepal border. Vegetation restricts access to nesting sites and affects the temperature of incubating eggs; roots of vegetation can damage incubating eggs, the team observed. Cross-border cooperation with Nepal is needed to develop a collaborative conservation plan for gharials. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/05/gharial-nesting-threatened-by-woody-vegetation-on-riverbanks/ (03 May 2021)
FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS
Centre to certify shrimp farms To bolster confidence in India’s frozen shrimp produce, the country’s biggest seafood export item, the Centre has kicked off a new scheme to certify hatcheries and farms that adopt good aquaculture practices.
India exported frozen shrimp worth almost $5 billion in 2019-20, with the U.S. and China its the biggest buyers. But a combination of factors had hurt export volumes in recent months, including container shortages and incidents of seafood consignments being rejected because of food safety concerns.
Frozen shrimp is India’s largest exported seafood item. It constituted 50.58% in quantity and 73.2% in terms of total U.S. dollar earnings from the sector during 2019-20. Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are India’s major shrimp producing States, and around 95% of the cultured shrimp produce is exported. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/certification-scheme-to-encourage-good-aquaculture-practices/article34295794.ece (11 April 2021)
Maharashtra Mumbai coastal road project work leaves fisherfolk in uncharted waters Despite two Covid-related lockdowns in the last year, work on the city’s Coastal Road has continued at a swift pace. At least 217 acres of land has so far been reclaimed from the Arabian Sea for the project, with an additional 50-odd acres yet to be created. Officials estimate that about 30 percent of the work has been completed. The ‘Mavala’ underground tunnel boring machine (TBM) also continues to excavate earth from under Malabar Hill, at a pace of 7 metres (m) every day. About 330m of tunnelling has been finished presently.
While the project is at least two years away from completion, land reclamation along the Worli coast has already begun impacting the livelihoods of fisherfolk, with women and small fishermen’s incomes being the first to be hit. For decades, these groups within the broader fishing community have conducted their trade almost entirely along the rocky shore between Nepean Sea Road and Worli.
They largely include the Kolis, but also consist of members of the Agri and Christian communities who practice artisanal fishing. Boat owners, labourers, migrant workers, daily-wage or subsistence fishers, net-menders, oyster pickers and other vocations tied to the artisanal fishing trade have all been affected by the loss of these coastal commons, HT learnt through interviews and ground reporting. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/mumbai-coastal-road-project-work-leaves-fisherfolk-in-uncharted-waters-101619982717867.html (03 May 2021)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
Uttar Pradesh Dhanauri wetland runs dry, forest department rushes to fill its core Dhanauri wetland, a major sarus crane habitat in Gautam Budh Nagar, has run dry. Officials of the district forest department on Tuesday (April 13) said that they have rushed to fill the wetland, spread across 101 hectares, using borewells.
Located at Dankaur in Greater Noida, about 33 hectares of the wetland was under water, as per a remote sensing exercise in 2015. It is home to about 211 species of waterbirds and is also one of the biggest habitats of sarus crane in the region. In 2019, the forest department had spotted over 80 sarus at Dhanauri out of 140 in the entire district.
The wetland, which has been proposed by the state forest department to be declared as a Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance) and a sarus crane sanctuary, has never dried completely earlier, said the officials and birders. While the forest officials say that they are trying to ascertain the reasons, experts point out mismanagement and exploitation apart from dry weather for the wetland to have run dry.
Meanwhile, the crane experts state that the mismanagement could lead to migration of the birds. “Drying up of such a habitat shows possibility of higher number of borewells in the area or water overdrawing, apart from the mismanagement. Now, sarus cranes, which have over 230 million years of evolution, are getting used to such phenomenon and they often move to better areas. The bird roosts in water at night as a protection against predators,” said KS Gopi Sundar, a scientist at the Nature Conservation Foundation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/dhanauri-wetland-runs-dry-forest-department-rushes-to-fill-its-core-101618338102732.html (13 April 2021)
Maharashtra Supermoon effect restores tidal water in dry Panje wetland The Supermoon phenomenon that occurred early this week has managed to do a tiny ‘super-miracle’ at the parched Panje wetland, which the environmentalists were quite literally begging the government officials to restore.
Due to the strong tidal effects of supermoon, the seawater at Panje has managed to cross over the man-made bunds that were blocking the water movement. As the tidal water gushed through, several migratory birds also immediately started coming into Panje in the last two days.
Bird watchers were delighted to find several tagged greater sand plover birds here, after nearly three years. The greater sand plover is a small yet hardy migratory bird which travels hundreds of kilometers from the central desert areas near Turkey. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-supermoon-effect-restores-tidal-water-in-dry-panje-wetland-migratory-birds-return/articleshow/82310612.cms (29 April 2021)
Tamil Nadu Coastal Violators Push Projects After Centre Weakens CRZ Norms Tamil Nadu, which has the second largest coastline in India of 1,076 km, has been experiencing severe erosion in recent years both due to natural and anthropogenic causes. But the biggest challenge is unplanned and illegal coastal infrastructure projects mushrooming along the coast.
Thanks to well-defined Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules, local environmental activists have managed to halt most illegal projects that lacked prior approvals and violated norms, by challenging them in the National Green Tribunal and the Madras high court.
But on February 19 this year, the Union environment ministry issued an office memorandum (OM) that allows projects that violated CRZ Notification 2011 to get post facto clearance. Before that, there was no provision to obtain such clearances: the projects that started without getting prior CRZ clearance were deemed to be illegal and couldn’t proceed further. https://science.thewire.in/environment/coastal-violators-push-projects-in-tamil-nadu-after-centre-weakens-crz-norms/ (24 April 2021)
Odisha HC Orders Eviction Of Illegal Prawn Gherries The High Court has ordered eviction of illegal prawn gherries at Chilika, Bhitarkanika and other eco-sensitive wetland areas in Puri and Ganjam district. While directing the Collectors of the convened district to execute the decision taken at the meeting chaired by State Chief Secretary recently on illegal prawn gherries, the court has also asked the authorities to destroy the seized materials and machineries from the violators apart from filing criminal cases against them.
The directive comes after hearing into a case registered suo motu by the court on the basis of Supreme Court’s order regarding protection of wetlands. “The High Court has ordered the Collectors of the respective districts to register criminal cases against the violators in this connection. The Court had also previously ordered to file cases, but no action was taken,” Mohit Agarwal, who has been appointed as Amicus Curie in the case said. The eviction of illegal gheries is supposed to be completed by May 2021 in Kendrapara, Ganjam and Khordha districts and by the end of this year in Puri. The illegal prawn gherries spread over around 30,000 acres of areas, he added. https://odishatv.in/odisha-news/orissa-high-court-orders-eviction-of-illegal-prawn-gherries-from-chilika-bhitarkanika-538733 (30 April 2021)
Punjab Initiative To Rejuvenate The Kanjli Wetland WWF India will also undertake capacity building, education and awareness programme to promote the wise use of the wetland and create a network of Wetland Mitras (Friends of Wetlands) to demonstrate a model for multi-stakeholder engagement in wetland conservation. http://www.businessworld.in/article/A-Multi-Stakeholder-Initiative-To-Rejuvenate-The-Kanjli-Wetland-In-Punjab/22-04-2021-387354/ (22 April 2021)
Himachal Pradesh 130 stepwells in rejuvenation mode in Dharamshala This month, Dharamshala block development office launched ‘Rahiman Paani Rakhiye’ project that is aimed at restoration of 130 stepwells in Dharamshala town and surrounding villages.
Under the project, four key factors will be taken care of — hydrological intervention, recharge intervention, storage and regulation. The activities to be undertaken in the restoration project involve reserving the source of stepwells, ensuring good connectivity; fencing; separating the bathing area and animal drinking space. The structures would also be covered. Besides, additional waste flowing water will be tapped by constructing a tank or soak pit nearby the stepwells.
Proper drainage channels surrounding the wells will be constructed to minimise chemicals surface run-off. Plantation will be also done around the spring. The funds will be spent under MGNREGA in convergence with 15th finance commission. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/rahiman-paani-rakhiye-130-stepwells-in-rejuvenation-mode-in-hp-s-dharamshala-101618861894674.html (20 April 2021)
‘Forest Ponds’ to Harvest Rainwater to Replenish Groundwater Under the Parvat Dhara scheme, the government has initiated rejuvenation of water sources and recharging aquifers through the forest department with an outlay of Rs 20 crore. The department spent Rs 2.76 crore in 2020-21 for the construction of 110 big and small ponds, 600 check dams and 12,000 contour trenches along with plantation to store water and recharge the aquifers. The work was started in 10 forest divisions that include Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Jogindernagar, Nachan, Parvati, Nurpur, Rajgarh, Nalagarh, Theog and Dalhousie. https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/himachal-pradesh-is-building-forest-ponds-to-harvest-rainwater-to-replenish-groundwater-3700958.html (02 May 2021)
Kerala कट्टा: कासरगोड का पारंपरिक चेकडैम https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHBJ0CpqxAQ (19 April 2021)
India: A Groundwater Civilisation India’s connection with groundwater is recorded as far back as the Indus Valley Civilisation. What are the consequences of relying on groundwater? How can over-extraction of groundwater resources be contained? What role can you play in water conservation? We discuss all these questions and more in this episode with S Vishwanath the urban planner and water conservation expert. https://open.spotify.com/episode/2OxkEIQlbEqlhmxZmNKQXJ?si=3TYfR4f2TLCc0Kz1LQYopA&utm_source=copy-link&dl_branch=1&nd=1 (15 April 2021)
Mumbai BMC set to wind up project supplying 24-hr water to city The BMC has decided to wind up its ambitious Water Distribution Improvement Programme project that was launched to provide round-the-clock supply to Mumbai. The Rs 275-crore project was launched with much fanfare in 2014 to work towards improving water networks and phase-wise starting of 24-hour supply in all areas.
According to officials of BMC’s hydraulic engineer department, contractor Suez Environment India Private Limited filed for arbitration against the civic body. While only about 20 per cent project work has been completed, its five-year deadline had ended in July 2019. The BMC had given an extension of one year to the project but the contractor had refused to continue, said an official.
The official added that for 24-hour uninterrupted supply, the contractor had asked BMC to provide about 30 per cent additional water for the entire city. Currently, BMC supplies 3,900 million litre of water to Mumbai daily. However, officials said that it is not possible to provide additional water, as no new source of water has been created in recent past. Following this, the contractor has expressed its inability to complete the project. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-bmc-set-to-wind-up-project-supplying-24-hr-water-to-city-7214717/ (05 March 2021)
Bengaluru BWSSB to fix valve responsibility Faced with a barrage of complaints from residents of South Bengaluru recently on reduced water being supplied to them, the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has now given the responsibility of the operation of major valves to senior officials in every Division. The Assistant Executive Engineer and the Executive Engineer have now been entrusted with the responsibility of the operation of all major water valves.
The Banashankari Ground Level Reservoir, which can store up to 19.5 MLD is the point from which Cauvery water enters the City after starting its journey from the T K Halli reservoir and gets distributed to other areas. It also caters to Padmanabha Nagar, Yediyur, Jayanagar and a few others parts of Bengaluru South, explained a top official. Despite the BWSSB increasing pumping of water to the City early this month, complaints of shortage of water perplexed many. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2021/apr/26/to-ensure-equal-distribution-of-water-in-bengaluru-bwssb-fixes-valve-responsibility-2295165.html (26 April 2021)
Chennai With sufficient storage, city may escape water shortage this summer After many years, the reservoirs that meet the city’s needs are brimming with water this summer. As the five reservoirs have 75% of their capacity, the Water Resources Department (WRD) plans to seek Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh only in May. Another reason is the ongoing work to reconstruct the lining of the Kandaleru Poondi Canal on a vulnerable stretch of 4 km. About 50% of the work, executed at a cost of ₹24 crore, has so far been completed.
“We plan to approach the Andhra Pradesh government in May for Krishna water release for the next spell. The quantum to be discharged for the city’s needs and the period of release will be decided after a meeting with the Krishna River Management Board. We will be able to maintain storage at the same level in the reservoirs here once water is released from the Kandaleru reservoir upstream for the next spell and save water for the next year, too,” said an official of the WRD. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/with-sufficient-storage-city-may-escape-water-shortage-this-summer/article34330974.ece (16 April 2021)
Kochi Steps taken to improve water supply, KWA tells HC The Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has informed the High Court that necessary measures, including increasing the number of pumping stations, had been taken for improving water supply to the West Kochi area.
The submission was made when a writ petition filed by M.H.M. Asharaf from West Kochi seeking a directive to provide quality drinking water to the people in the area came up for hearing. According to him, the people of the area were experiencing water shortage even after the construction of a 2.2 mld capacity new water tank at Modi Bathroom Junction at Mattancherry at a cost of ₹2.2 crore and the repair of the old water tank at Fort Kochi. Moreover, not even a litre of water was supplied to the public from the water tank at Koovapadam. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/steps-taken-to-improve-water-supply-to-west-kochi-kwa-tells-hc/article34441640.ece (29 April 2021)
Kozhikode SHRC demands explanation on water pollution in Elathur The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has asked for an explanation from the Kozhikode Corporation on the water pollution in parts of Elathur ward of the civic body. Commission member K. Baijunath has asked the Corporation Secretary to submit a report on steps taken to solve the issue and future plans, within four weeks.
The Commission had suo motu registered the complaint based on newspaper reports on the issue. Councillor from Elathur Manoharan Mangariyil had raised the issue at the Corporation Council meeting on Monday (April 19) and had sought the civic body’s intervention to find an effective solution. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/shrc-demands-explanation-on-water-pollution-in-elathur/article34370955.ece (21 April 2021)
Hyderabad Groundwater table takes a dip with early onset of summer Hit hard by the early onset of summer and meteorological experts predicting sweltering months ahead, here is more bad news in store as Hyderabad’s groundwater department (GWD) has observed a dip in the water table already. Despite receiving 40 per cent excess rainfall in 2020, and authorities allaying fears of any water shortage till 2022, the 1-2 meters dip in groundwater across the city has left authorities worried.
According to the GWD’s report, the groundwater table dip has been measured through a total of 21 piezometers installed in various areas, including Asifnagar, Bandlaguda, Charminar, Himayathnagar, Nampally, Saidabad, Ameerpet, Khairatabad, Marredpally, Musheerabad, Secunderabad, Shaikpet, and Tirumalagiri in Hyderabad district. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/groundwater-table-takes-a-dip-with-early-onset-of-summer/articleshow/81877677.cms (03 April 2021)
Agra Metro aims to recharge 10 lakh litres of groundwater every year As part of conservation efforts, Agra Metro Project authorities aim to recharge 10 lakh litres of groundwater every year. Work has started to construct 300 recharge pits along the 29-km-long metro rail alignment for the purpose. Besides, rainwater harvesting systems will also be developed at half a dozen other locations to maximize the collection of rainwater.
According to the Metro project officials, the initiative is aimed at improving the depleting groundwater levels in the city. Of the 15 blocks in the district, at least 12 are in the “dark zone”. So far, more than 40 recharge pits have been excavated for the three elevated metro stations situated on Fatehabad Road. The Agra Metro rail project is likely to be completed by 2025. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/agra-metro-aims-to-recharge-10l-litres-of-groundwater-every-year/articleshow/81936998.cms (07 April 2021)
Punjab Provide potable water to 84 govt schools in Ludhiana NGT has directed the Punjab chief secretary to take steps to provide safe drinking water to students in 84 government schools in Ludhiana district. While disposing an application filed by Chandigarh-based lawyer HC Arora, the NGT observed that as per RTI information, the water of 63 government schools in Ludhiana district was found to be exceeding laid down parameters of alkalinity, hardness, calcium and TDS. The water being supplied through submersible pumps to 23 other government schools in the district was also found to have bacterial contamination, as per RTI information. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/provide-potable-water-to-84-govt-schools-in-ludhiana-ngt-to-punjab-chief-secy-101618862853318.html (20 April 2021)
JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY
Himachal Pradesh State to become ‘Har Ghar Jal’ State by July, 2022 The State of Himachal Pradesh presented their Jal Jeevan Mission Annual Action Plan for financial year 2021-22 before the national committee chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti through video conference. While presenting their plan, ‘Jal Shakti Vibhag’, Government of Himachal Pradesh reiterated its commitment to achieve ‘Har Ghar Jal’ target by July, 2022.
The State has 17.04 lakh rural households, out of which 13.02 lakh (76.41%) have assured tap water supply. Since the announcement of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in August, 2019, over 5lakh tap water connections has been provided and so far 8,458 villages (46.78%) in the State have been declared ‘Har Ghar Jal’, which means every rural household in these villages has tap watersupply. In 2021-22, Himachal Pradesh plans to provide 2.08 lakh tap water connections across the State.
Based on the plan, the State was requested to make more districts 100% saturated. Three districts of the State i.e. Kinnaur, Una and Lahul&Spiti are ‘Har Ghar Jal’ districts.All the schools and anganwadi centres have already been covered under the 100-day campaignand all these institutions in the State have piped water supply. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1715499 (02 May 2021)
Punjab CM directs completion of ongoing large surface water projects CM Captain Amarinder Singh while reviewing the functioning of Water Supply Department today directed it to complete the ongoing 10 large surface water projects covering 1021 quality affected and enroute villages in Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Amritsar positively by December 2022 with an investment of Rs. 1032 crore.
Meanwhile, Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Razia Sultana apprised the Chief Minister that in addition to these 10 large surface water projects, the State Government has also approved 5 large surface water projects in 701 quality affected villages of District Ferozepur (95), Fazilka (342) and waters scarcity villages of District Hoshiarpur (197) & Ropar (67) with an investment of Rs. 1068 crore. These works would be procured by June, 2021 and commenced accordingly. https://www.punjabnewsexpress.com/punjab/news/punjab-cm-directs-completion-of-ongoing-large-surface-water-projects-136864 (30 April 2021)
Nowhere is the water shortage more pronounced than in Punjab, where India’s government encouraged cultivation of wheat and rice in the 1960s and has since been buying the staples at fixed prices to shore up national reserves. Wheat was a traditional crop, along with mung beans or peanuts, said Singh’s father, Bhupinder Singh, 62. But he and experts say a pound of rice needs up to 500 gallons of water — and irrigation canals couldn’t supply enough.
Farmers turned to well water. When the government started providing free electricity to run well pumps in 1997, Punjab rice raising rocketed — from in 1975 to 11,969 square miles. But groundwater levels plummeted as underground pumps proliferated, with over 1.2 million by 2012. A 2017 federal report warned that the state of 27 million people would exhaust its groundwater by 2039. https://www.columbian.com/news/2021/may/02/indias-water-crisis-all-of-punjab-is-trapped/ (02 May 2021)
Meghalaya 43 percent of water bodies are polluted Government initiated the Community Led Landscapes Management Project (CLLMP) to strengthen community led natural resource management with a landscape approach in 400 highly degraded and degraded villages of the state through World Bank support. A baseline study was commissioned to establish data on the current status of natural resources and to develop an impact monitoring system for various interventions. The study conducted in 71 villages selected through random sampling across the state’s three regions i.e. Garo Hills, Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills had a sample size of 11690 households with a population of 64783.
On average 10 water bodies are found per village, with the highest numbers found in the Khasi region followed by the Jaintia and Garo regions suggesting that conservation and preservation of water bodies and the immediate surrounding will greatly benefit the communities. On average 43% of water bodies are polluted. The highest percentage of pollution is found in the Jaintia region followed by Khasi and Garo regions. The figure is alarming for a small state and calls for an urgent need for sensitization of the community to take immediate steps to mitigate the situation.
It was found that 21% of water bodies are used for domestic purposes and 15% are used for irrigation. Uses of water bodies are found to be more in Garo Region than in the other two regions. Ways and means to gain access for optimal use of water bodies for various purposes need to be explored. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/43-percent-water-bodies-meghalaya-are-polluted (01 May 2021)
RESERVOIR STORAGE BULLETIN OF 29.04.2021
1. ALL INDIA STATUS:- As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 29.04.2021, live storage available in 130 reservoirs is 58.55 BCM, which is 34% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 72.076 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 48.826 BCM.
2. a) NORTHERN REGION:- There are 8 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 19.17 BCM. As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 29.04.2021, the total live storage available in these reservoirs is 4.09 BCM which is 21% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 46% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 35% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. http://cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/29042021-ful-bul.pdf
Himachal Pradesh State stares at drought, CS orders action plan Anil Kumar Khachi, Chief Secretary (CS), today instructed the agriculture, horticulture and allied departments to prepare district-level action plans to tackle the drought-like situation in the state. At a video-conference with DCs, he instructed the Agriculture Department to prepare a database on weather and crop conditions to assist the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).
Of the total 4,13,134 hectares under crops, 1,46,508 hectares have been hit owing to poor rainfall. The maximum loss has been in Bilaspur district where 20,280 hectares of the total 28,020 hectares of cropped area have been affected. Likewise, in Chamba, 3,571 hectares of land has been affected. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/himachal-stares-at-drought-chief-secretary-orders-action-plan-240524 (18 April 2021)
Vegetable growers in Himachal Pradesh are sowing crops but reaping despair. Last year, the nationwide lockdown owing to the coronavirus pandemic caused losses to them and this year, a long dry spell has left them high and dry.
“Owing to scanty rainfall from January to the end of March, crops have been severely hit in the entire area,” says Nasib Singh Thakur, a marginal vegetable grower in Kandaghat tehsil of Solan district. He says that almost 60 per cent of the rabi crops season such as peas, cabbage, capsicum, beans, cauliflower and cucumber have been damaged due to a long dry spell from December onwards. “During this season last year, we left much food on farms to just rot in the fields owing to the nationwide lockdown (March 25, 2020). This time, a hostile weather has taken a heavy toll on the crops,” says CD Verma, another vegetable grower of Jubbarhatti village, on the outskirts of the state capital.
As per government estimates, cultivating off-season vegetables gives a net return of Rs 60,000 to Rs 2 lakh per hectare, whereas traditional crops fetch Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per hectare. Agriculture Department officials say that 146,508 hectares of the 413,134 hectares cropped area have been affected due to less rainfall between January and the mid of April, causing an estimated loss of Rs 108.20 crore. Chief Secretary Anil Khachi has said water supply schemes of the Jal Shakti Vibhag have also been hit due to scanty rainfall. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/dry-spell-leaves-himachal-veggie-growers-in-despair-247143 (02 May 2021)
Assam Drought Hits Tea Gardens The state of Mokrong Tea Estate in Assam’s Golaghat district has turned alarming. Owned by the prestigious B&A Limited, most of its garden’s tea bushes which were pruned by the end of 2020, have not recovered. The otherwise lush green bushes are now wilting at an alarming rate. This is a clear indication of severe drought and an ominous future for the tea garden, which should have its most productive “First Flush” at this part of the year.
The state’s Brahmaputra valley has received only 14.2 mm of rainfall during January-February 2021 as against 28.47 mm in 2020. Similarly, the Cachar region has received only 4.15 mm rainfall as against 8.3 mm last year. Koomtai Tea Estate in Golaghat district of Upper Assam manufactured 84,876 kg of tea in 2019. In the lockdown year of 2020, it produced 10,896 kg. The drought situation this year has brought down the production sharply to 27,260 kg.
Sarabjeet Singh, Manager of Khoomtai Tea Estate explained, “There is a deficit rainfall in April by almost 400% this year. Last year we received 2.87 inches and this year it is just 0.65 inches. In April, plants require the maximum amount of water and any deficit in this month takes a toll on plant health and affects the season’s crop. The projected maximum temperature on coming Monday is 39 degree and the minimum is 17 degree. This is causing extensive evaporation which in turn is harming plants.” https://www.news18.com/news/india/drought-hits-tea-gardens-in-assam-forces-workers-on-2-day-leave-to-tide-over-crisis-3674534.html (24 April 2021)
Jharkhand Taps run dry in Chas as water treatment plant develops snag More than 50,000 people in Chas township are faced with water crisis for a week owing to a snag in the water treatment plant on Damodar river. The Bokaro Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) has written to deputy commissioner Rajesh Singh, asking him to step up efforts to solve the crisis. BCCI president Sanjay Baid said, “People here are faced with a water crisis but the administration doesn’t seem to care.”
There are 168 deep borings in Chas Township, majority of which are defunct as the groundwater level has gone down. Water is supplied through pipelines in more than 6,000 houses across the township, which comprises 35 wards with a total population of 1.25 lakh people. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/taps-run-dry-in-chas-as-water-treatment-plant-develops-snag/articleshow/82247066.cms (26 April 2021)
Andhra Pradesh Acute drinking water scarcity in western part of Kurnool district Drinking water problem is rampant on the western part of Kurnool district. The residents of Hule Beedu, Tumbala Beedu, Manekurthi, Angaskal, A Gonehal and Marakattu villages in Halaharvi mandal allege that they are not getting water even after a fortnight. According to information, the Low Level Canal (LLC) water in Halaharvi mandal is being supplied to Bapuram lift irrigation scheme. From there the water would be again supplied to the villages in Halaharvi and Alur mandals. But the water is not sufficient to cater to the drinking water needs of one mandal. https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/acute-drinking-water-scarcity-in-western-part-of-kurnool-district-684587 (03 May 2021)
Delhi Water supply to be affected Water supply in parts of Delhi will be affected Saturday onwards due to a reduction in the water level of river Yamuna, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) Friday (April 30) said. In a statement, the DJB claimed that Haryana was not releasing the required amount of water in the river which is causing a shortage in the capital. As a result, the board said, water production at three plants has been curtailed to a certain level, which will impact water supply in parts of north, central, south, and west Delhi, the cantonment area and also parts of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/water-supply-to-be-affected-saturday-onwards-in-parts-of-delhi-jal-board-7296774/ (30 April 2021)
Gurugram Water scarcity hits Palam Vihar colony `Palam Vihar area in the Gurugram district has been hit by a severe water crisis. The residents of the locality on Thursday (April 15) met officials of Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) officials and complained about the water shortage. According to the residents, Block A, C-1, E, F and J have been hit by the water crisis for several weeks. The residents of many blocks claimed they are getting the water supply for only 15-minute a day, according to a report in Times of India. The residents accused the contractor of negligence towards their problems.
Meanwhile, the residents of the colony said they are forced to spend Rs 1,100 to 1,200 on a daily basis to meet their water requirements from private tankers. They also accused builders of using drinking water for construction purposes. The local residents alleged that no action has been taken despite repeated complaints to GMC officials. “The municipal body needs to take immediate action to restore the water supply to our colonies from the water tanks. They should also upgrade the infrastructure for regular water supply,” said Sagar Ranjan, president of Palam Vihar residents’ association. https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/article/gurugram-water-scarcity-hits-palam-vihar-colony-private-tanker-operators-make-a-gold/746103 (16 April 2021)
Dave Petley blog on changing rainfall pattern in Indian monsoon. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/04/15/future-warming-1/ (15 April 2021)
-Flood Season for the year 2021 in the basins of Brahmaputra, Barak other Basins of NE, Jhelum sub-basin of Indus basin begins from 1 May. https://twitter.com/CWCOfficial_FF/status/1388017094353059841?s=20
Western Ghats CEC suggests scrapping railway project Central Empowered Committee (CEC) constituted by the Supreme Court has recommended withdrawal of the environmental approval to doubling of the single line railway track between Tinaighat in North Karnataka and the port town of Vasco da Gama in Goa. The line cuts across the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats and the CEC said that the project will only marginally enhance railway capacity but cause big damage to the fragile ecosystem of the Western Ghats, an internationally recognised Biodiversity hotspot. The recommendation is being seen as a big win for environmental activists.
The CEC also recommended that the Goa-Tamnar 440KV power line should be set up along the alignment of the existing power line to save fresh forest areas from intrusion. In the third major recommendation, the panel cleared the four-laning of NH-4A between Anmod and Panajim if done as an elevated corridor to prevent any harm to the wildlife.
All three projects were cleared in April last year by the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (SCNBWL), chaired by Union minister of forests Prakash Javadekar, sparking uproar and protests in Goa. The Goa Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) invested in preserving the ecology, challenged the projects in the SC. A copy of the CEC report was submitted to the top court and another was given to the Goa Foundation.
The SC will now decide whether to accept or reject the recommendations in the CEC report. The Goa Foundation has welcomed the findings of the CEC but said they will consult other environmental activist groups before finalising the stance before the top court in the matter. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sc-appointed-panel-suggests-scrapping-railway-project-in-western-ghats-101619501843506.html (27 April 2021)
Tamil Nadu Girija Vaidyanathan declines to join NGT as Expert Member Former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, Girija Vaidyanathan has declined to take up charge as an Expert Member of the NGT, the Times of India reported. In view of the same, the NGT Principal Bench on Tuesday (April 27) directed the appointment of K Satyagopal to the post, the report further said. The development came close on the heels of the Madras High Court declining to set aside her appointment as Expert Member, which was challenged by G Sundarrajan, Managing Trustee of the environmental NGO, Poovulagin Nanbargal.
Sundarrajan had contended that Vaidyanathan did not possess sufficient administrative experience in environmental matters for her to be eligible to the post of NGT expert member. The High Court, however, dismissed the said contention, although it highlighted certain ambiguities in the law as regards the experience required for bureaucrats to be appointed as Expert Members under Section 5 of the NGT Act. Following the Madras High Court’s dismissal of the petition, Sundarrajan also filed a challenge before the Supreme Court earlier today. https://www.barandbench.com/amp/story/news/litigation/girija-vaidyanathan-declines-to-join-ngt-as-expert-member (28 April 2021)
NGT CPCB, DPCC told to take remedial action against WTE plants NGT has directed Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to take remedial action against the three waste-to-energy plants in Ghazipur, Okhla and Narela-Bawana. CPCB had audited the WTE plants and found violations at three units, before giving its recommendations to NGT. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/cpcb-dpcc-told-to-take-remedial-action-against-wte-plants/articleshow/82123040.cms (28 April 2021)
Centre New fly ash utilisation rule for thermal power plants Seeking to deal with environmentally hazardous fly ash generated from coal and lignite based thermal power plants (TPPs), the Centre has made it mandatory for such plants to ensure 100% utilisation of fly ash within three to five years. It also, for the first time, introduced fines on non-compliant plants under the ‘polluter pays principle’, taking into account utilisation targets from April 1 next year.
Under the draft plan, notified by the environment ministry last week, non-compliant TPPs will have to pay a fine of Rs 1,000 per tonne on unutilised ash which is to be accounted at the end of every financial year based on annual reports. Though fly ash utilisation in India has increased from nearly 10% in 1996-97 to the highest level of over 83% during 2019-20, unutilised ash gets dumped in an environmentally hazardous manner, polluting air, water and soil. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/new-fly-ash-utilisation-rule-for-thermal-power-plants/articleshow/82267046.cms (27 April 2021)
Uttarakhand क्या शुक्लापुर मॉडल धधकते जंगल को बचा सकता है! देहरादून के शुक्लापुर के जंगल में वर्ष 2011 में समुदाय की भागीदारी से पानी रोकने के प्रयोग किए गए। करीब 42 हेक्टेयर क्षेत्र में जगह-जगह चेकडैम बनाए गए। एक जलछिद्र को 1-10 हज़ार लीटर तक पानी भरने की क्षमता के साथ तैयार किया गया।
जंगल में पानी रोकने और भूजल स्तर को बढ़ाने के लिए बनाए गए इन छोटे-छोटे चेकडैम का असर यहां की छोटी आसन नदी पर भी दिखा। छोटी आसन नदी में वर्ष 2010 में 90 लीटर प्रति मिनट पानी बचा था। आज ये 1200 लीटर प्रति मिनट है। भीषण गर्मियों में भी नदी का पानी नहीं रुकता। इसके पानी के चलते 18 गांवों में घराट की वापसी हो गई। https://hindi.mongabay.com/2021/04/19/amid-forest-fire-in-uttarakhand-shuklapur-forest-offers-a-solution/ (19 April 2021)
Delhi Are govt efforts to end manual scavenging working? Two years after the project launch, little appears to have changed for the capital’s sanitation workers. https://scroll.in/article/992483/delhi-is-trying-to-end-manual-scavenging-by-using-sewer-cleaning-machines-are-its-efforts-working (19 April 2021)
Interview What hydrology can tell us about climate change in Central Asia Abror Gafurov, a hydrologist at GFZ-Potsdam, the national research centre for earth sciences in Germany, tells The Third Pole what the latest research shows about the water cycle in Central Asia. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/climate/interview-hydrology-climate-change-central-asia/ 03 May 2021)
India-China Melting glaciers disrupt China’s big dam plan in Tibet The plan to build the mega-dam, which is part of China’s 14th five-year plan beginning from this year, was approved by China’s Parliament, the National People’s Congress in March this year. But the engineers are concerned about the threats posed by landslides and barrier lakes to the dam, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. “But an icy obstacle could put a halt to much of the plan. In 2018, a landslide caused by a melting glacier blocked the Yarlung Tsangpo – the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River – at the Sedongpu Basin in Milin county,” it said. It formed a lake containing about 600 million cubic metres of water. With the river spilling over the top at present, the dam could collapse at any time, it said.
The Sedongpu lake sits just a few dozen kms upstream from the planned construction site of the super hydropower plant. With so much water hanging overhead, no construction workers can move in to clear the ground, it said. To build the big dam, they must get rid of the small dam formed by the landslide first, the report said. Several teams of scientists and engineers have flown to Sedongpu in recent years, including some of the nation’s top experts in civil engineering, glacier study and landslide prevention. They collected a large amount of data on the site using drones and other advanced equipment and were asked by authorities to come up with a solution after finishing their assessment, it said.
“The situation is very difficult. There is not an immediate solution yet,” Xing Aiguo, a professor of civil engineering at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University who was involved in one of the studies told the Post. The experts could not find a way to strengthen the landslide dam or remove it safely. Worse still, they found similar disasters would likely happen again in the same area, thanks to climate change. “The area is large and there are many glaciers,” Xing said. Even if there is a method, treating such a harsh natural landscape with engineering methods could be technically challenging and costly, he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/melting-glaciers-may-disrupt-china-s-plan-to-build-dam-over-brahmaputra-in-tibet-101619621981025.html (28 April 2021)
Report Most of South Asia to record normal or above normal monsoon this year There is likely to be normal to above normal rainfall over most parts of the South Asian region during the June to September southwest monsoon season, according to a consensus statement released by South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) and the Climate Services Users Forum on Wednesday (April 28).
Above-normal rainfall is likely over some areas of the northwest, along the foothills of Himalayas and northeast parts of the region, including Nepal and parts of Pakistan, and many areas of the central part of the region in India. However, monsoon rain is most likely to be below normal over many areas over extreme northwest, northeast and some areas over north-eastern parts of the region. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/most-of-south-asia-to-record-normal-or-above-normal-monsoon-this-year-101619667523765.html (29 April 2021)
Nepal Farmers till the sands of the Kamala river In recent years cultivation has sprung up along a 35-kilometre stretch of the Kamala river, bringing both opportunities and problems. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/livelihoods/farmers-till-sands-of-kamala-river-nepal/ (30 April 2021)
Russia A year after Sardoba dam collapse secrecy prevails A year after Sardoba dam collapse secrecy prevails: All we know – the catfish and rodents not guilty! A year passed since May 1, 2020, when on the territory of Sirdaryo region of Uzbekistan, a breakthrough of the reservoir dam occurred, causing a flood. Buildings, roads, communications were destroyed. More than 60 thousand residents were evacuated in Uzbekistan and similar number in flooded districts of Kazakhstan. According to official data, 6 people died during the incident.
On April 30, at a briefing, First Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations, Major General Abdulla Kuldoshev named several general factors that led to the collapse of the Sardoba dam in Uzbekistan.
According to the General the Ministry of Water Resources failed to organize oversight on planning, design and construction work at a proper level. For example, The Rules for the Sardoba reservoir operation had not been approved by responsible officials prior to its filling. This process grossly violated technical and regulatory requirements. http://www.transrivers.org/2021/3289/ (02 May 2021)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
Australia Blue Mountains City Council becomes First Council to Adopt Rights of Nature as a Foundational Principle “This really is a critically important first step,” said Maloney.
“While it’s not a ‘Rights of Nature’ law, its actually even more appropriate at this stage. It’s a commitment by a Local Council to develop a dialogue in the community, as well as very practical strategies to shift the way we make decisions, to shift the way we see the economy, and change the way we treat nature. Importantly, it also helps create a shift in the way we see ourselves: Rights of Nature invites us to see ourselves as part of a living community – not as the only members of a living community.” https://www.earthlaws.org.au/2021/04/bmcc-rights-of-nature/ (28 April 2021)
Research Millions of Groundwater Wells Could Run Dry As much as 20% of the world’s groundwater wells may be facing imminent failure, potentially depriving billions of people of fresh water. “We found that this undesirable result is happening across the world, from the western United States to India,” said Debra Perrone, a water resources expert at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and co-author of the study.
The research, published in the journal Science, pulled together construction records from 39 million wells scattered across 40 countries. Perrone and co-author Scott Jasechko, a fellow water expert at UC Santa Barbara, first recorded the depths of all the wells. They then compared the wells with the groundwater levels, assisted by data from previous studies.
They found that millions of the wells extended less than 5 meters (about 16 feet) below the water table, putting them at risk of running dry. At least 6% of them, and potentially as much as 20%, appear to be in jeopardy. Those last few meters can dry up quickly, especially in places already stricken by drought. “In areas where we see extreme rates of groundwater depletion, groundwater levels can decline on the order of a meter or more a year,” Jasechko said. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/millions-of-groundwater-wells-could-run-dry/ (27 April 2021)
Report Plastic gets to the oceans through over 1,000 rivers Scientists used to think 20 rivers at most carried most plastic into the oceans, but now they know it’s far more, complicating potential solutions. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-gets-to-oceans-through-over-1000-rivers (30 April 2021)
Scientists Map Rivers of Pollution in the Sky Windy regions high in the atmosphere can transport pollutants like dust or soot thousands of miles around the world and disrupt everyday life for thousands of people. https://scitechdaily.com/scientists-map-rivers-of-pollution-in-the-sky/ (01 May 2021)
Compiled by SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)