DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 10 May 2021: Velcan Holdings provide another evidence of unviable large hydro in India

Velcan Holdings Group is developing Heo and Tato-1 Hydropower projects with total installed capacity of 426 MW in Siang basin in Arunachal Pradesh since 2007. The international company with deep pockets and access to international capital markets has not been able to start work even in 2021. It obtained a number clearances, some of the like the CEA (Central Electricity Authority) techno-economic clearance has lapsed. No significant progress is seen in Land Acquisition as local people are rightly opposing. It is unable to find any buyers for the power to be generated, no one is ready to sign PPA (Power Purchase Agreement). The company questions if the low allocation to hydropower purchase obligations will at all help in making the projects bankable (clearly implying that the projects are not bankable currently). This is the state what it describes its Siang basin hydropower projects as the “the only hydropower projects of such size in India owned and developed by a foreign investor”, which “are amongst the most advanced private projects and present competitive techno-economic and environmental features”. The state of the rest of the large hydro projects will clearly be much worse. Why is the government pushing such unviable, destructive projects?

Read the excerpts from the company’s statutory filing in Europe on Apr 30, 2021 below.

Velcan Holdings PR of 300421: Group share value reduced from 3.9 m Euro in 2019 to 2.1 m Euro in 2020 also due to: “an increase of the impairment of the Indian (hydropower) projects… an increase of the impairment of the Indian project”.

– “The hydroelectric concessions obtained in 2007 in the State of Arunachal Pradesh could not make significant progress, due to several long lasting administrative and regulatory impediments, aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Techno-Economic Clearance (TEC), Environmental Clearance, Forest Clearance as well as most of the post TEC investigations being complete for the tandem Heo-Tato-1 (426 MW), the main next development steps for these 2 projects are the land acquisition, the transport infrastructure, the amendment of the concession agreements, the stage 2 Forest Clearance and the preliminary search for a bankable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).”

– “During 2020 the land acquisition procedure conducted by the State Government was halted due to a stoppage of the land survey by several land owners who physically prevented the District administration to enter some parts of the land, complaining about land ownership disputes and claiming immediate financial compensations. The discussions initiated between the state government and the concerned owners in February 2020 were suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak, as the required meetings could happen only physically. The procedure could restart only in February 2021. All the on-site surveys and boundary markings were completed by the District Administration in March 2021, without interruption. As of the date of this press release, the Group has not received the official survey report and list of land owners from the District Administration. However the Group’s team attended each survey and it is the Group understanding that significant parts of the land requirement have again been registered by the District Administration as being under ownership dispute, and that the survey may lead to an increase of disputed areas as compared to earlier lists established by the State Government. The Group does not know yet if and how the Government of Arunachal Pradesh (GoAP) will settle these disputes and find a solution that will allow permanent site access and the Projects’ implementation.”

– “Negotiations with the GoAP, for the amendment of the concession agreement, relate to the development timeframe, but also to the amendment of the allocated capacities (still 380MW in the current concession agreement) and other important terms, have not progressed since 2018. This has led to the impossibility to renew the TECs of the Heo and Tato-1 (426 MW) tandem in 2020, as such renewal required either a concession agreement up to date with the 426 MW capacity approved by CEA, or a non-objection certificate (NOC) from the GoAP. TECs of Heo and Tato-1 HEP, granted in 2015 for 3 years and already extended a first time in 2018 for 2 years, were bearing validities until on 27th July 2020 and 28th October 2020 respectively. Applications for renewals of both TECs were submitted to CEA, which requested the Group to obtain from GoAP a (NOC) acknowledging that the GoAP has no objection to the renewal of the projects TECs for the current capacities of 240 MW and 186 MW. After several discussions the GoAP refused, on 1st October 2020, to issue a NOC unless the concession agreements were amended under conditions entailing significant financial costs, some of which the Group does not agree with.”

– “After requesting a draft amendment to the GoAP during Q4 2020, without success, the Group finally sent its own proposed draft amendment in Q1 2021. Its main provisions relate to the allocated installed capacities, the administrative fees, the development timeframe, the obligations of both parties, and the increase of the free power to the GoAP against the withdrawal of its potential equity participation in the projects. The provisions have been proposed by the Group considering the historical difficulties and the ground reality of the projects and of the Indian hydropower market. As of the date of this press release, the discussions are going on with the GoAP, but both TECs of Heo and Tato-1 HEP are technically not valid anymore, and their renewal is depending on the execution of the revised concession agreement (in addition to the CEA renewal procedure).”

– “Two years after the announcement of the new hydropower policy by the Government of India, a first part of the long awaited implementation regulation has finally be issued, imposing a Hydropower Purchase Obligation (HPO) on DISCOMS, setting a percentage of power that shall be procured by them from hydropower sources between 2021 and 2030. These percentages range from 0.18% to 2.82% and are remarkably lower than those of solar power, currently at 10.25% for 2021. The question is raised within the industry whether these provisions will be sufficient to trigger a general revival of the hydropower sector and enough demand for long term bankable PPAs for projects which are not yet under construction.”

– “Despite the above issues, the Group’s projects are the only hydropower projects of such size in India owned and developed by a foreign investor. They are amongst the most advanced private projects and present competitive techno-economic and environmental features.” The Indian projects activities have been detailed in chapter I.4.1 of the annual report available at http://www.velcan.lu/investors/reports-accounts/. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/04/30/2220389/0/en/VELCAN-HOLDINGS-ANNUAL-RESULTS-2020-STABLE-FINANCIAL-RESULTS-BUT-DECREASE-OF-THE-NET-INCOME.html  (30 April 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Meghalaya Umngot HEP threatens tribals’ lives, livelihoods Amid increasing fears of imminent land submergence and acquisition, Merrysha Nongrum an activist from Umsawwar village, stood in solidarity with villagers, demanding to scrap the mega-dam project, starting from 5 a.m. In what felt like a deliberate betrayal, she said, “they excluded us from the public hearing. Hence, we chose to stall their way.”

Image Credit: Syllad/Hitesh Sonar for The Swaddle

“You cannot put a price tag on our ancestral ties to the land,” Merrysha said.

-Once the dam is built upstream, the river downstream will be rendered dry, slowly draining into a watery graveward for fishes. A report by the SANDRP states the diversion of water through dams has collapsed downstream ecosystems and fisheries in the Krishna, Godavari, Mahanadi, Pennar, Narmada, Tapi, Sabarmati, Mahi, and Cauvery rivers.

-The EIA summary for the Umngot project fails to mention the river’s biodiversity. “Unless you specify the aquatic biodiversity under the water, you cannot calibrate the environmental flow needed to sustain freshwater ecosystems,” Navin Juyal, Ph.D., a geologist formerly with the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad noted. More ominously, the EIA report downplays geological and seismic risks.

-“Umngot is a small river,” Rajkamal Goswami, a conservation scientist at ATREE, in Bangalore, said. “When you dam a river, you are killing the river downstream. Once dead, the river cannot be recovered.” https://theswaddle.com/in-meghalaya-the-umngot-river-keeps-tribal-livelihoods-afloat-a-dam-project-threatens-that-balance/  (06 May 2021)

The Joint Action Committee Against Umngot Hydro Electric Project has petitioned Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma to scrap the proposed hydroelectric project on the Umngot river. “Several villages located along the Umngot river have strongly opposed the move of the state government to implement the Umngot project,” the JAC stated in its petition to the CM on May 7, 2021. “We will not allow either the government or any private firm to carry out a survey. We had earlier prevented the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board from conducting the public hearings since it had violated the order of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA),” it stated. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/05/08/scrap-umngot-dam-project-jac-to-cm/  (08 May 2021)

Assam Unfamiliar lineament among earthquake factors An unfamiliar lineament is among four factors behind frequent earthquakes in northern Assam’s Sonitpur area. A lineament is a linear feature in a landscape dictated by an underlying geological structure such as a fault.

According to the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Sonitpur district lies within a tectonically complex triangular area bounded by the east-west trending Atherkhet Fault, the northwest-southeast trending Kopili Fault and a north-south trending lineament.

The two faults and the lineament, along with the oblique convergence of the Indian plate, have caused frequent earthquakes. The National Centre of Seismology recorded 29 earthquakes of magnitude varying from 2.6 to 4.7 in Sonitpur after the 6.4 tremblor on April 28 that damaged several buildings, bridges and a river embankment.

The last of these 29 earthquakes with Sonitpur as the epicentre was recorded early Wednesday (May 4) morning. Five more of magnitudes 2.6-3.2 were also recorded in neighbouring districts during this period. “Sonitpur was the epicentre of this huge 6.4 earthquake after 33 years because of the tectonic complexity. The Atherkhet and Kopili faults, the north-south lineament and the oblique convergence of the Indian plate is causing repetitive earthquakes,” GSI’s Deputy Director-General Sandip Kumar Som said.

“Both the Atherkhet and Kopilli are active but we do not know about the nature of the lineament involved.” Atherkhet and Kopili are not the only faults that impact the Sonitpur region. The Siang Fracture, Yemla Fault, Namula Thrust and Canyon Thrust are spread across the northeast and are active along with Main Himalayan Thrust, Main Boundary Thrust, Main Central Thrust & several subsidiary faults. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/unfamiliar-lineament-among-assam-earthquake-factors/article34491054.ece (5 May 2021)

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter Scale jolted Assam and other parts of the Northeast on Wednesday (April 28) morning. Seven aftershocks were recorded in the hours after the first quake shook up the region. The earthquake originated in Tezpur in Assam and tremors were felt even in North Bengal and other parts of the Northeast. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/earthquake-in-northeast-tremors-felt-in-assam-north-bengal-arunachal-pradesh-1795696-2021-04-28  (29 April 2021)

An earthquake of magnitude 3.6 on the Richter scale occurred at 10.30 am near Tezpur, said the National Centre for Seismology. Earlier on April 29, an earthquake of magnitude 3.6 on the Richter scale had struck Sonitpur. This was the seventh tremor after the earthquake of 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale struck Assam’s Sonitpur on 28 April.  On 28 April, around 10 earthquakes had hit the Sonitpur throughout the day. According to NCS, 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.  https://www.livemint.com/news/india/36-magnitude-earthquake-hit-assam-s-tezpur-11620279676561.html  (06 May 2021)

An earthquake of magnitude 2.8 on the Richter scale hit Morigaon on Friday (May 7) morning, according to the NCS. This is the fourth earthquake Assam has experienced this month. On May 5, an earthquake of magnitude 3.5 had hit Sonitpur with mild tremors in few parts of the state. Another earthquake of magnitude 3.7 on May 3 had hit Tezpur. Tezpur was also hit on May 1 by a quake of magnitude 3.3.  https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/earthquake-of-2-8-magnitude-hits-assams-morigaon-2436743  (07 May 2021)

Uttarakhand One more body found in Sumna, another from Tapovan tunnel The search teams of Indian Army have recovered one more body from the debris of the avalanche in Sumna region along the India-China border in Chamoli district. With this, the toll of the disaster has shot up to 16, while two persons are still missing, according to rescue and relief teams. Around 430 labourers were present in the two camps of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) when the avalanche hit the camps last week.

– Meanwhile, one more body was also recovered from the slush-choked tunnel of NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydro-power project. As of now, 81 bodies have been found from the areas in Chamoli that were hit by the February 7 disaster out of which 19 have been recovered from the tunnel, according to the information provided by the District Emergency Operation Centre. 123 people are still missing in the disaster.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/one-more-body-found-in-sumna-another-from-tapovan-tunnel/82320744  (30 April 2021)

MoEF Decisions of the EAC on River Valley Committee held on Apr 15, 2021:

1. 168 MW Sirkari-Bhyol Rupsiabagar HEP in an area of 30 ha by UJVN LTD in Tehsil Munsiyari, Pithoragarh District (Uttarakhand) for Env Clearance: MORE INFO SOUGHT

2. Expansion of Tidong-I HEP-II (Phase I -100MW+Phase II – 50MW) in an area of 42.2557 ha (without increase in area) by Tidong Power Generation Pvt LTd in village Rispain, Tehsil Moorang, District Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh) – Env Clearance: MORE INFO SOUGHT

3. 390 MW Kirthai Stage-I HEP in an area of 321 ha by J&K Power Development Corp in Tehsil Padder, Kishtwar Dist (Jammu & Kashmir) – Env Clearance: APPROVED

4. 930 MW Kirthai Stage-II HEP in an area of 225.25 ha by J&K Power Development Corp in Village Kirthai, Tehsil Padder, Kishtwar District (Jammu & Kashmir) – Env Clearance: APPROVED

5. 240 MW Uri-I Stage-II HEP in an area of 102 ha by NHPC in Tehsil Uri, District of Baramulla (Jammu and Kashmir) – Terms of Reference: APPROVED. https://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/04052021WTPA38DTApproved_10th_EAC_RiverValley.pdf 

Agenda for 11th meeting of EAC held on 6th May, 2021.

1. 240 MW Kutehr HEP in an area of 85.36 ha in Village Machhettar, Tehsil Bharmour, Chamba District (Himachal Pradesh) by JSW Energy Ltd. – Amendment in Environmental Clearance

2. Enhancement of Capacity of Karcham Wangtoo Hydro Electric Project from 1000 MW to 1091 MW at Sholtu Colony P. O. Tapri, District Kinnaur, H.Psholtu, Kinnaur – 172 104 by M/s JSW Hydro Energy Limited – Reconsideration for Environmental Clearance

 3. Niare Hydro Electric Project (870 MW), a Run of River scheme in an area of 429.585 ha by M/s Andra Power Private Limited near Village Orak District Upper Subansiri, Arunachal Pradesh – Reconsideration for Terms of Reference https://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/040520211HYF0Q3XRevisedDraftAgendaRiverValley11thEAC.pdf 

Opinion Integrated View of All Dam and Hydro Projects in Himalayan Region is Needed Bharat Dogra: “There is generally a very strong tendency in terms of the appraisal of various projects including dam projects on a one-by-one basis. Hardly any effort is made to take an integrated view of the impacts of various projects in a region together, to look at their cumulative impact and inter-actions. This may prove to be a costly mistake particularly in the case when a very large number of projects are being taken up.”  https://countercurrents.org/2021/05/integrated-view-of-all-dam-and-hydro-projects-in-himalayan-region-is-needed/  (07 May 2021)

Industry JSW Hydro Energy to issue dollar-denominated notes to raise funds JSW Energy on Tuesday said its arm JSW Hydro Energy will issue USD-denominated notes (green bonds) in overseas markets to raise funds. However, the company did not disclose the amount to be raised under this issue. This issue is part of a total notes programme of USD 750 million of JSW Hydro Energy, which was approved by the board of JSW Hydro Energy on March 26, 2021. JSW Hydro Energy is a 100 per cent subsidiary of the company and owns and operates the Karcham-Wangtoo (1000 MW) and Baspa II (300 MW) hydro-electric power plants in Himachal Pradesh.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/jsw-hydro-energy-to-issue-dollar-denominated-notes-to-raise-funds/82398065  (05 May 2021)

JSW Energy on Apr 30, 2021 said that Central Electricity Authority has approved the uprating of its Karcham Wangtoo hydro power plant to 1,091 megawatt (MW) from 1,000 MW. This capacity uprating has been done by 9 per cent to 1,091 MW without any additional capital expenditure. The uprating will be done in a phased manner — 1,000 MW to 1,045 MW in the first phase for two monsoon seasons in (calendar year) CY 2021 and CY 2022; and to 1,091 MW thereafter. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/jsw-energy-uprates-its-karcham-wangtoo-hydro-power-plant-to-1091-mw/82325006  (30 April 2021)

Power engineers body condemns move to amend National Electricity Policy  All India Power Engineers Federation on Tuesday condemned the central government’s move to amend the National Electricity Policy “to facilitate privatisation”. According to a statement by the AIPEF, the proposed changes require extensive discussions as such time for submission of comments should be six months. When fundamental changes are being introduced by way of privatization of the power sector, there is no basis to rush through more so under extreme distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it said. “All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) condemns the government of India’s move to amend the National Electricity Policy to facilitate the privatization of the power sector,” the statement said.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/power-engineers-body-condemns-move-to-amend-national-electricity-policy/82390048  (04 May 2021)

DAMS

ENS photo

Polavaram Project 960 mega watt Polavaram hydel power plant works gain steam The contracting agency and authorities have targeted to complete all the foundation works of the power project by May 31, according to the plan. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/may/02/960-mega-watt-polavaram-hydel-power-plant-works-gain-steam-2297534.html  (02 May 2021)

Polavaram lift scheme avoidable burden Samagrabhivruddi Adhyayana Vedika expressed surprise over the state govt’s decision to take up Polavaram lift irrigation project amidst current financial crisis, instead of completing the Polavaram project. https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/polavaram-lift-scheme-avoidable-burden-to-andhra-pradesh-685039  (06 May 2021) 

Sardar Sarovar Dam Revisiting the Kevadia Colony Struggle Nandini Oza: “While the nation is becoming more aware of the ills of what has now been infamously dubbed as the ‘Gujarat Model’, the Adivasis of Kevadia village in Gujarat have seen it all and have successfully built a resistance movement… one of the tallest dams and the tallest statue in the world facing one another are at the centre of and symbolises what the country today know as the ‘Gujarat model’ of development… This piece is a tribute to Prabhubhai, a warrior who fought the skewed Gujarat model, which the rest of the country is waking up to only now, albeit only after paying a very heavy price.” https://thewire.in/rights/revisiting-the-kevadia-colony-struggle-that-challenged-the-gujarat-model  (06 May 2021)

Tamil Nadu Gunderipallam Dam Full After Heavy Rain Heavy rain in the catchment area around the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, on Thursday (May 6) and Friday (May 7), led to the rise of the water level at the Gunderipallam Dam. The water level, at 42 feet, has reached the top. Officials of the Public Works Department said, the dangerous level of the dam forced them to discharge the surplus water of 9,700 cusecs into the canal, which flows into Bhavani River.  By noon, the discharge of the dam water decreased to below 1,000 cusecs and a flood alert has been sounded in Kongarpalayam panchayat area on the either side of the canal. The officials alerted people living on the banks of the Bhavani river too.  https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/gunderipallam-dam-in-tamil-nadu-full-after-heavy-rain-2437223  (07 May 2021)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

The Times of India debate on Ken Betwa/ ILR: http://ofindia.indiatimes.com/india/times-face-off-will-the-proposed-ken-betwa-project-solve-the-regions-water-woes-or-destroy-livelihoods-and-ecosystems-experts-are-sharply-divided/articleshow/82441657.cms

IRRIGATION

Telangana Miryalguda: Foundation stone for check dam construction laid MLA Nallamotu Bhaskar Rao on Sunday (May 9) laid foundation for the construction of check dam on Paleru Vagu under Bommakal gram panchayat in Madgulapally mandal of Miryalaguda constituency. Speaking on the occasion, he said construction of a check dam on Paleru Vagu is a permanent solution to the irrigation problems of this region. Rs3.96 crore were sanctioned through the Irrigation Department for check dam construction in the interest of the farmers, he informed. https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/miryalguda-mla-nallamotu-bhaskar-rao-lays-foundation-for-check-dam-construction-685674  (10 May 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Mula-Mutha; Pune RFD: PMC presentation and public questions The RFD plan is going to cost multiple crores and change the entire anatomy of Pune’s river banks. Is this project ecologically sound? How will it affect the river’s ecosystem? What part of this expense is going to be paid by Punekars?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QA3ilS314Y  (03 May 2021)

Rosamma Thomas: There are plans to use the land in the floodplains as a revenue source, which is blatant disregard for environmental norms, Pune-based architect Yadwadkar pointed out in a Zoom meeting discussing the project on May 2. “If my mother were really old and quite sick, should I take her to the doctor or to a beauty parlour?,” this was a rhetorical question posed by a concerned citizen in a Zoom meeting on May 2, 2021, to discuss the Pune River Rejuvenation Project, estimated in 2018 to cost Rs 2,619 crore. This would cover 44 km of the Mula-Mutha river system that flows through the city limits. These are rivers that flow into the Bhima River, which in turn is a tributary of the Krishna. The meeting was held by NGO Sajag Nagarik Manch, which works for civic education in Pune. https://www.newsclick.in/River-Beautification-Project-Heighten-Flood-Risk-Worry-Pune-Residents  (06 May 2021)

RIVERS

Book review This book flows with the Brahmaputra An excerpt from ‘The Braided River: A Journey Along The Brahmaputra’, by Samrat Choudhury.  https://scroll.in/article/993986/this-book-flows-with-the-brahmaputra-from-tibet-to-the-ganga-blending-travel-memoir-and-history  (04 May 2021)

Veditum Life along River Ken – A colouring series In the years 2017 & 2018, as part of our Moving Upstream project, a walk along River Ken was undertaken in coalition with the amazing folks at SANDRP. It took about 2 months to complete the walk, starting from the confluence of rivers Ken and Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh.

The walk continued along the river through the unique geological landscape of Bundelkhand and the rich forests of Panna. It finally concluded at the source of the river in the Kaimur hills in Madhya Pradesh. A map of river Ken, showing the Panna National Park and the location of the different frames represented in this colouring exercise.

The explorers – Bhim Singh Rawat, Shridhar Sudhir and Siddharth Agarwal – witnessed and recorded through photographs, film and interviews, the incredibly beautiful landscape of River Ken and the life of its people.

With the help of an artist, a friend of Veditum, we have created a colouring exercise. The drawings are inspired by pictures captured while on the walk – along with an additional image by photographer Abhinav Pandey. https://veditum.org/lark/ 

Tamil Nadu Fly Ash From Thermal Plant Covers Seppakkam Keliamma, an elderly person in Seppakkam village, near Ennore, in North Chennai, recalls how her father used to cultivate rice using water from the Kosasthalaiyar river, and how she used to scoop up the river water in her hands to quench her thirst.

“We had pure water and clean air back then. Now, we have fly ash and salt water,” she says, as plumes of white gas billow from the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) in the background. The lands of Seppakkam once had rice fields, salt pans, fresh air, mangroves and clean rivers with fish aplenty. They are now blanketed in a thick layer of fly ash. The groundwater is salty and laden with heavy metals. Acres upon acres of ash ponds have gobbled up the salt pans and crops.

Despite multiple orders by the NGT to contain the pollution, the power plant, owned by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO), continues to discharge fly ash, encroach on ecologically sensitive lands and emit toxic fumes with impunity. https://science.thewire.in/environment/fly-ash-from-thermal-plant-covers-seppakkam-and-its-residents-lose-track-of-time/  (06 May 2021)

Bihar Body of COVID-19 Victim Dumped in Saura River  A video purportedly showing a Covid-19 victim’s body being dumped into the bank of Saura river in Katihar district has gone viral on social media. DM Udayan Mishra has cross verified the video clip and found it to be true. The incident took place on May 7 and came to light after the driver of the ambulance in which the body was transported to the village filed a complaint about it. https://www.india.com/viral/bihar-shocking-viral-video-shows-body-of-covid-19-victim-dumped-in-saura-river-in-katihar-4652175/  (09 May 2021)

In another incident, the Bihar government ambulance was being used to ferry sand at a time when the country is battling a shortage of ambulances. The ambulance was funded under the MPLAD scheme and was being misused. As the patients and families struggle to get an ambulance, it’s tragic to see how precious resources are being misused. The video shows the ambulance is getting loaded with sandbags. https://www.timesnownews.com/india/bihar/article/insensitivity-galore-in-bihar-katihar-hospital-staff-dumps-covid-positive-bodies-into-river-watch/755046  (10 May 2021)

GANGA Bihar 10 of a Family Drown in Ganga Ten of a family died in a road accident in Patna on Friday (April 23) morning. The tragic incident took place when the passenger jeep they were traveling in in Bihar fell into river Ganga from a pontoon bridge. The family was headed to Patna from Chhapra for a marriage function.

As the vehicle reached the middle of the shaky bridge, it plunged into the driver. While 10 people of the family drowned, two of the family survived as they were sitting on roof of the pick-up van and managed to swim to the shore. The local fishermen around tried to help the family out, but all in vain. Expressing grief, CM said that the state government would also conduct an inquiry into the maintenance of the bridge and find out reason as to why the unfortunate incident happened. https://www.news18.com/news/india/10-of-a-family-drown-in-patna-after-vehicle-plunges-into-ganga-cm-announces-ex-gratia-3670163.html  (23 April 2021)

YAMUNA Uttar Pradesh यमुना में बहकर रहे शव, कोरोना संक्रमण की आशंका में मचा हड़कंप  कोरोना संक्रमण के बीच हमीरपुर से चौंकाने वाली खबर आ रही है. यहां यमुना नदी में शव बहकर आने का सिलसिला शुरू हो गय है. ज़िला मुख्यालय की शहर कोतवाली क्षेत्र से निकली यमुना नदी में आधा दर्जन शव तैरते देखे जा सकते हैं. आशंका जताई जा रही है कि ये शव दूर-दराज के इलाकों से बहकर आ रहे हैं. इस बीच नदी के पानी मे भी संक्रमण फैलने की आशंका प्रबल हो गई है. कोरोना संक्रमण के बीच शवों के बहकर आने से नदी के तटवर्ती इलाको में दहशत का माहौल है. बता दें 2 साल पहले भी इसी तरह से बहकर आधा दर्जन शव आए थे. https://hindi.news18.com/amp/news/uttar-pradesh/hamirpur-uttar-pradesh-dead-bodies-flowing-in-yamuna-river-at-hamirpur-stirred-up-in-fear-of-corona-infection-upas-3579788.html   (06 May 2021)

यमुना पुल की रेलिंग से नदी में बहते शव को देखते पुलिस व अन्य – फोटो : अमर उजाला

बुधवार (May 5) सुबह लोग यमुना तटबंध में सैर करने गए। तभी उन्हें दो शव नदी की तलहटी में उतराते दिखाई दिए। इससे लोगों में हड़कंप मच गया। मामले की सूचना कोतवाली पुलिस को दी गई। जिस पर कोतवाल मनोज कुमार शुक्ला ने मौके पर पहुंच कर जांच की। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/hamirpur/dead-bodies-found-in-yamuna-river-in-hamirpur  (07 May 2021)

गांवों में हालात बदतर, लोग नदी में प्रवाहित कर रहे शव  उत्तर प्रदेश में कोरोना से हालात कितने विस्फोटक हैं, इसे इस बात से समझा जा सकता है कि अब गांवों में भी इस महामारी ने तबाही के मंजर दिखाना शुरू कर दिया है। यूपी के हमीरपुर जिले से ऐसी ही दर्दनाक तस्वीरें सामने आई हैं जहां पर यमुना नदी में एक साथ कई शवों को उतरता हुआ देखा गया। https://www.bharatsamachartv.in/web/newsdetails/2368/dead-body-drown-in-yamuna-river-after-death-from-corona  (07 May 2021)

Locals in Hamirpur district spotted dozens of bodies floating on the river Yamuna on May 9, leading to panic among the residents even as speculation grew about the bodies being of those villagers who succumbed to coronavirus.

Some are even saying that the sheer number of Covid-19 casualties in villages in Hamirpur is such that bodies of the victims are being floated on the river as cremation grounds are overwhelmed with the numbers. On the other hand, unconfirmed reports suggest that upon discovering dozens of bodies, the local administration decided to dispose them of in the river. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/dozens-of-bodies-float-in-yamuna-waters-in-up-hamirpur-1800701-2021-05-10  (10 May 2021)

Anoop Singh, the additional Superintendent of Police, Hamirpur, said that many families instead of burning the mortal remains of their dead kin preferred to immerse them in the river as the last rites. He said they were looking into the matter and were also in contact with the police of Kanpur Outer and Kanpur Dehat. “Two of the bodies were partially burnt. We have informed the two districts and have also stepped up vigil in our area,” he added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bodies-found-floating-in-yamuna-in-up-s-hamirpur-cops-101620584714442.html  (10 May 2021)

A local councillor claimed that amid Covid infections, people were fearful and not helping each other, so bodies were being dumped in the river. Police said that people in Kanpur were responsible. https://www.hindustantimes.com/videos/news/watch-bodies-found-floating-in-yamuna-river-in-up-amid-covid-crisis-101620576776328.html  (09 May 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises of India: Incredible news from Kerala! Turtle biologist @Ayushi Jain and her team, along with an active local community network have discovered nesting areas of the ‘Endangered’ and highly elusive Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle, in Kasargod, Kerala.

Conservationists Ayushi Jain and Abdulla Kunji with Cantor’s Giant Softshell turtle hatchlings. Image source: ToI

This softshell turtle also known as Bheemanaama/Paala Poovan in Malayalam, is one of the rarest and largest turtle species in India, and is recognised as an @EDGE species (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered).

Ayushi is working alongside key community member Mr. Abdullah Kunzhi, who discovered three active nests and eggs of the rare turtle along the Chandragiri river, and are gathering crucial life history information that could go a long way in protecting this species.

Through her project supported by Zoological Society of London , National Geographic Society  and The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund , Ayushi has been building a community network, and is working on empowering them to take over the long-term conservation of the Cantor’s Giant softshell turtle. We wish her and the local community involved in the conservation of this species, the very best and look forward to hearing about more interesting discoveries!

Read the article in The Times of India about this discovery here: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/kerala-rare-turtle-nestings-in-kasaragod/articleshow/82474157.cms  (08 May 2021)

SAND MINING

Police personnel inspect the area after a blast at a quarry in Kadapa district, on Saturday (PTI photo)

Andhra Pradesh 10 killed in explosion at quarry in Kadapa Ten workers were killed in a blast at a limestone quarry near Mamillapalli village under Kalasapadu mandal in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh on May 8, 2021. The explosion occurred while workers were unloading gelatin sticks from a vehicle for use in the quarry. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/visakhapatnam/andhra-pradesh-10-killed-in-explosion-at-quarry-in-kadapa-district/articleshow/82492096.cms  (09 May 2021)

Police, revenue, mines and geology and pollution control departments are generally responsible for overseeing blasting operations in quarries and mines. The mines department officials were reportedly well aware that illegal mining was brazenly taking place at the quarry. Also, the police and the revenue departments turn blind eye to those running explosives businesses without any permits or licences. The pollution control board officials do not seem to know which quarries are operating without environmental permits.

First of all, prime responsibility rests with the department of mines. It is a common practice that those in possession of licence mineral extraction licences sell them away to the highest bidder illegally. Officials are said to be in cahoots with the illegal miners and look the other way even as ore worth crores of rupees is illegally extracted and sold. They also do not check if those operating mines have proper environmental permits. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/090521/illegal-mining-goes-on-brazenly-in-kadapa.html  (10 May 2021)

Telangana Sand mining a cause for worry in Bhadrachalam  As many as six people have died in the last 49 days while passing the Godavari river in Bhadrachalam. However, neither the Police Department nor the irrigation department have taken any steps to prevent the deaths. On March 19, four persons, including three women, who went to fetch water for washing clothes died and on Friday (May 7), two girls, aged 20 and 15 years, died at the same place while washing clothes. According to official records, as many as 39 persons, including tourists, have died in the last few years while taking baths and washing clothes. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/may/09/sand-mining-a-cause-for-worry-in-bhadrachalam-2300182.html  (09 May 2021)

Tamil Nadu Activist beaten up for opposing sand mining A 35-year-old activist, who has been crusading against illegal sand mining in his village in Pudukottai district, was beaten up allegedly by family members of the panchayat president after he refused to give up the cause. C Palanisamy of Murugaraja Nagar in Kothandaramapuram panchayat is undergoing treatment at Pudukottaigovernment medical college hospital for multiple injuries.

This is not the first time that Palanisamy was beaten up. He said he was manhandled by a group two months ago after he approached the district collector and superintendent of police against the illegal sand mining. “All my complaints are being ignored by the authorities. There is threat to my life, but I will not give up the cause,” he said. Illupur DSP J Arulmozhi Arasu said a case has been booked against both the sides as both have lodged a complaint against each other at the Annavasal police station. Asked on the charges of illegal sand mining, the DSP said that police are carrying out investigation with both the sides.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/activist-beaten-up-for-opposing-sand-mining/articleshow/82334235.cms  (01 May 2021)

J&K Panel to look into allegations of illegal mining  J&K administration has constituted a four-member committee to look into allegations of illegal mining of minor minerals in and around river Tawi. The committee, headed by Director Geology and Mining O P Bhagat, will have “in depth examination of alleged illegal mining activities/operations of stone crusher units in and around river Tawi in violation of High Court directions”, said an order issued by UT’s Commissioner/ Secretary General Administration Department Manoj Kumar Dwivedi. According to the order, the terms of the committee include examining the issue of stone crusher units in Tawi river since 2018, measures to curb illegal mining in river Tawi in compliance of high court orders, and examine allegations made and representations received about high handedness of the department. It is to submit report in a week.

– On May 3, 2021, senior BJP leader and former legislator Vikram Randhawa had alleged clandestine extraction of minor minerals from Tawi despite ban orders from the J&K High Court. He had also alleged that an official of the Geology and Mining Dept was collecting money from mining mafia for allowing clandestine mining in Tawi river, adding that a part of the money so collected was also going to a Union minister and his personal staff. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-panel-to-look-into-allegations-of-illegal-mining-7303666/  (06 May 2021)

Rajasthan State readies plan to auction 46 cancelled mining blocks  After the amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, about 46 mineral bearing blocks are set to be cancelled and the mines department has issued orders to analyse the status of the each block for either auction or exploration. In a meeting on April 27, additional chief secretary mines Subodh Agarwal told the officials in the geology wing of the department to ascertain the status of the blocks as to whether the earlier applicant had carried out exploration as per the rules.

The blocks pertain to leases where reconnaissance permits or prospecting licences were granted, but mining leases could not be obtained by the block owners due to lack of various approvals. Since the time period to grant them approvals have elapsed as per the amendments to the MMDR Act in 2015, the leases have been cancelled.

The mines department has earned Rs 44 crore from its amnesty scheme that ended on March 31. The scheme was launched in September, 2020 for unpaid royalty and dead rent by mining lessees, contractors and royalty collection contractors. The scheme was applicable to those lessees, royalty collection vendors and contractors of various departments on whom demand has been raised by the department till March 31, 2019.

As per the scheme, mining lessees and brick kiln owners having dues till 1980 will be exempted of 90% on the principal amount if they pay up the demand money raised against by the department. Similarly, if the lessees having dues till 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019, exemptions on the principal amount was given 80%, 70%, 50%, and 30%, respectively. As many as 2,052 persons subscribed to the scheme and exemptions of Rs 100 crore were given under the scheme.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/state-readies-plan-to-auction-46-cancelled-mining-blocks/articleshow/82377324.cms  (04 May 2021)

Odisha Govt diverts DMF funds to urban areas as mining-affected communities suffer Odisha is one of the mineral-rich states and has billions of rupees collected under the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds which according to the law are to be used for the welfare of the mining-affected communities. Instead, the DMF funds are either being used for works that have nothing to do with the welfare of mining-affected communities like the creation of a stadium or diverted for urban areas. Experts note that Odisha has more than Rs. 110 billion under the DMF funds but they are yet to find their way to the mining-affected communities. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/05/odisha-diverts-dmf-funds-to-urban-areas-as-mining-affected-communities-suffer/  (05 May 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Five years on, wetlands yet to be declared as bird sanctuaries More than five years have passed since former CM Devendra Fadnavis, acting as the chairman of the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL), approved a proposal to declare three wetlands in Mumbai, Raigad and Thane districts as bird sanctuaries. However, the respective water area — including wetlands of Mahul-Shivdi, Panje-Funde and TSC-NRI wetlands in Navi Mumbai — are yet to be notified as such, as per provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Activists earlier this week wrote to CM Uddhav Thackeray, drawing his attention to this delay, and urged him to expedite protection for these ecologically sensitive areas, which support a rich biodiversity of migratory birds during winter months. The Fadnavis government had, on December 4, 2015, proposed to declare nearly 1,600 hectares of wetland as bird sanctuary while approving the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link project. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/five-years-after-wildlife-board-nod-wetlands-yet-to-declared-as-bird-sanctuaries-101620241122064.html  (06 May 2021)

Centre notifies revised eco zone around Thane flamingo sanctuary The Union environment ministry has notified a revised eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of 48 square kilometres (sq km) around the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS), spread across Mumbai suburban and Thane districts. The draft proposal, which was sent to the ministry by the Maharashtra government in March, was gazetted on April 30. The ministry has given a 60-day window to receive public comments on the notification.

Environmentalists, however, remained skeptical of the development. “The solution here is to declare TCFS as a wildlife sanctuary under the Wildlife Act. An ESZ notification won’t offer much protection as seen in case of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where developmental activities are undertaken inches away from the boundary of the protected area,” said D Stalin, director, Vanashakti. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/centre-notifies-revised-eco-zone-around-thane-flamingo-sanctuary-101620158239835-amp.html  (05 May 2021)

Bombay HC stays post-facto CRZ clearance for projects The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday stayed a recent office memorandum issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), allowing the ex-post facto approval of projects that have not yet obtained coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance under the CRZ Notification, 2011.

The stay was in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a Mumbai-based environmental group, challenging the constitutional validity of MoEFCC’s direction. The matter has been listed for final hearing on June 30, before a two-judge bench comprising chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice GS Kulkarni.

The impugned office memorandum, dated February 19, and authored by joint secretary of MoEFCC’s CRZ division Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, was also stayed by the Madurai bench of the Madras HC on April 29, in response to a different petition. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/bombay-hc-stays-post-facto-crz-clearance-for-projects-101620415141813.html  (08 May 2021)

Andhra Pradesh UNDP mission to restore nine wetlands The forest authorities have launched the works pertaining to the restoration of 5,000 hectares of mangrove cover in the Krishna and Godavari estuaries and 200 hectares of salt marshes as part of the five-year project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The programme titled ‘Enhancing climate resilience of India’s coastal communities’ is being funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Of the 24 landscapes identified in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Maharastra for restoration at a cost of ₹298 crore, nine are in AP.

– Of the 5,000 hectares of targeted mangrove cover, around 4,250 hectares are in the Krishna and Godavari estuaries in the surrounding areas to the Coringa and Krishna Wildlife sanctuaries. The mangrove restoration will be done by adopting the fish bone method,” Wildlife Management (Eluru Division) Divisional Forest Officer C. Selvan said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/undp-mission-to-restorenine-wetlands-in-ap-begins/article34493010.ece  (05 May 2021)

IWP Frequently asked questions on Ramsar sites in India The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has designated 42 wetlands in India to be protected from degradation. These FAQs answer all your queries regarding the Ramsar sites in India. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/frequently-asked-questions-faqs-ramsar-sites-india  (07 May 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Research Integrated assessment of SRI vs. conventional method of transplanting for economic benefit, energy efficiency and lower global warming potential in India A comparison was made between conventional and the system of rice intensification (SRI) methods of rice cultivation by conducting two experiments. One field experiment was conducted from 2013 to 2017 at 25 locations across India under the All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Project and another experiment was conducted in 2017 using surveys by collecting data from 262 randomly selected SRI farmers using a personal interview method in the Telangana state of India.

– The 5-year experimental data revealed that the SRI method of cultivation produced higher rice grain yield (up to 55%) compared to the conventional transplanting method. Survey data revealed that total costs of rice production reduced by 22.71% under SRI. Break even output under SRI was reduced by 58.1%. Adoption of SRI saved total energy inputs by 4350 MJ/ha.

The energy productivities were 0.16 kg/MJ and 0.21 kg/MJ for conventional and SRI methods, respectively. Also, SRI resulted the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of 0.280 kg CO2e/kg rice grain. Therefore, for ensuring higher productivity, net returns, energy efficiency and sustainable rice production it is recommended to adopt an environmentally friendly SRI method of crop establishment in the Telangana region of India. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21683565.2020.1868648  (07 Jan. 2021)

Study How donkeys digging wells help life thrive in the desert For thousands of years, horses and donkeys have been some of our species’ most important partners. A new study published Thursday (April 29) shows they’re also friends to desert animals and plants, by digging deep wells that provide a vital source of water, especially at the height of summer.

Biologist Erick Lundgren, lead author of the paper in Science, told AFP he first began noticing the phenomenon while working in western Arizona as a field technician studying river systems. “People just didn’t think it was worthy of scientific attention,” said the scientist, who is now at the University of Technology Sydney. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/how-donkeys-digging-wells-help-life-thrive-in-the-desert/article34490518.ece  (05 May 2021)

GROUNDWATER

NGT direction to Ministry on groundwater extraction for swimming pools A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel referred to a previous order for the tribunal and observed, “Extraction of groundwater in water scarcity areas also affects the flow of rivers and potential for recharge of the groundwater sources. Thus, the supply and demand of groundwater were required to be balanced for sustainable development.” “This requires mapping of all areas concerned to determine the extent to which extraction could be permitted and priority areas for which such extraction could be permitted,” the Bench observed while stating that drinking water was the first priority and that “reckless extraction” of groundwater to the determent of the environment could not be permitted.

In its order, the tribunal said, “The Ministry of Jal Shakti may consider the extent to which groundwater extraction can be allowed for swimming pools in water deficit areas, as per data available with it. The applicant is at liberty to make any further representation to the Ministry of Jal Shakti.” The directions came when the green panel was hearing a plea moved by petitioner Neha Singh seeking action against “reckless extraction” of groundwater for commercial purposes, at the cost of causing further shortage of drinking water. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/ngt-direction-to-ministry-on-groundwater-extraction-for-swimming-pools/article34362400.ece  (20 April 2021)

URBAN WATER

Algae and plant growth at Jakkur lake Pic: Laurence Carvalho/Citizen Matters

Bengaluru Why are lakes green in colour? A lake rich in nutrients is known as a eutrophic lake, and in Bengaluru, this mostly happens due to the discharge of industrial effluents, runoff and untreated/treated sewage. https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/why-are-bengaluru-lakes-green-in-colour-59446  (04 May 2021)

Chennai Tamaraipakkam check dam repair work in full swing The Water Resources Department has taken up repair of Tamaraipakkam check dam, one of the oldest structures across the Kosasthalaiyar in Tiruvallur district. This structure is meant to divert surplus water to meet Chennai’s requirement. Built in 1868 near Ammanambakkam in Tiruvallur district, the dam is at 15 km downstream of Poondi reservoir, a primary source of water for Chennai. Officials said water is diverted to the Cholavaram reservoir from here through the 13.20-km-long upper supply channel. The channel has a carrying capacity of 1,226 cubic feet per second (cusecs). Water from Tamaraipakkam check dam could be indirectly transmitted to Red Hills reservoir too through the lower supply channel. This 4.2-km channel carries water from Cholavaram to Red Hills reservoir, another major freshwater source.

However, portions of the 190.80-metre long structure were damaged during the 2015 floods, when the water flow was about 58,385 cusecs. This led to the damage of aprons of the structure, which helps control water flow and dissipate energy of flow effectively. “We have completed about 30% of the work so far and shutters of the structure have been replaced. Work is in progress to strengthen the river bund and also building of masonry wall damaged following heavy flow in the river. Repair of the damaged structures was important to arrest further damage of the check dam,” said an official. The ₹3.89-crore project was taken up with funds from NABARD. It is expected to be completed before the onset of the northeast monsoon. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/tamaraipakkam-check-dam-repair-work-in-full-swing/article34517629.ece  (09 May 2021)

Interview of V G Ramaswami, Superintendent Engineer, Central, Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) to know the water supply board’s plan for the city. https://chennai.citizenmatters.in/chennai-summer-water-scenario-cmwssb-interview-28012  (05 May 2021)

Hyderabad Ground water levels sink to new depths This is the second consecutive month this year, after March, that the groundwater table has depleted in Hyderabad. Alarm bells are already ringing in Marredpally and Saidabad, which are among the worst-hit areas with a depleted groundwater table. Based on data being collected by the Ground Water Department (GWD) from different piezometers installed in 16 mandals in Hyderabad district and across the city, on an average, the groundwater table has depleted by as much as 1.13 meters below to ground level (BGL).

With real estate business picking back up, previous halted construction activity is now being conducted at a brisk pace. This could be a cause for the ground water consumption, a GWD official opined. With the number of Covid-19 cases also rising daily, and the second wave hitting the state in March and April, the official added that this could also be an added strain to the groundwater table, with hospitals working overtime to save people. Predictive models indicate that the ground water table may hit rock bottom in the next couple of months in the city, and citizens are likely to face an acute shortage of water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/as-temperatures-soar-ground-water-levels-sink-to-new-depths-in-city/articleshow/82508626.cms  (10 May 2021)

WATER

Research India’s Water Futures Emergent Ideas and Pathways (K. J. Joy and S. Janakarajan, Ed., Routledge) is now available in paper back. For details, see: https://www.routledge.com/Indias-Water-Futures-Emergent-Ideas-and-Pathways/Joy-Janakarajan/p/book/9780367732769  

Bihar Scarcity in Abundance Erratic monsoon rain, recurrent floods, groundwater contamination, and the unreliability of sources make provisioning safe drinking water a major challenge in the flood-affected region of North Bihar by Eklavya Prasad.  https://soanas.org/scarcity-in-abundance-addressing-drinking-water-woes-in-flood-prone-zones-in-north-bihar/  (21 April 2021)

IWP Clean water, a crucial weapon to combat COVID -19  The recent COVID -19 pandemic highlights the important role that access to clean water can play in dealing with such diseases in the future.  https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/clean-water-crucial-weapon-combat-covid-19-0  (21 March 2021)  

AGRICULTURE

Report A Way Forward to Reduce Irrigation Water Use in India  A new study from the IIT, Bombay, led by graduate student Adrija Roy under the guidance of Subimal Ghosh, professor of Civil Engineering and the convened of Climate Studies at IIT Bombay, shows the way forward. An irrigation decision tool has been co-developed with Sahyadri Farms of Nashik, Maharashtra (this author, Raghu Murtugudde is a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science and Earth system science at the University of Maryland, is part of the team that published the study).

As can be expected, farmers do not simply dump water on their farms to hedge against the vagaries of the monsoon. They use a tank model where they consider soil properties such as porosity, and root zone depths, rainfall, irrigation water input, and leakage of water. They try to maintain the soil moisture above a threshold to prevent stressing the crops and yield loss. Sahyadri Farms is a cooperative of over 8,000 farmers which has invested in monitoring weather and soil moisture over its farms.

The IITB study exploited the farmers’ irrigation tank model and their data  to develop a sophisticated ecohydrological model which balances the water in the tank that farmers define. The additional key advance is to use the weather forecasts at short (days 1-3), medium (days 3-10) and extended (weeks 2-4) range from the IMD, to produce reliable rainfall information at farm level. Forecasts issued by forecast centres across the world are not directly usable by farmers. It is critical to bring the forecasts down to the farm level. https://science.thewire.in/environment/a-way-forward-to-reduce-irrigation-water-use-in-india/  (01 May 2021)

Farmers throw their produce at Bhainibagha village in Mansa. Tribune photo

Punjab Covid-induced lockdown: No buyers, farmers dump veggies Vegetable growers in Punjab are facing a huge trouble in the wake of a Covid-induced lockdown. Farmers of Bhainibagha village in Mansa district have cultivated capsicum on 800 acres, but are now unable to sell it. Traders from other states have stopped visiting their farms due to which their produce has started rotting. Left with no option, many farmers have started dumping their damaged produce in the fields or on roads. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/no-buyers-punjab-farmers-dump-veggies-248743  (06 May 2021)

Hindustan Hindi image

Uttarakhand:- पिथौरागढ़ के कई हिस्सों में फिर हुई ओलावृष्टि से फसलों ओर फलों को भारी नुकसान पहुंचा है। सब्जियां भी ओलावृष्टि की चपेट में आने से नष्ट हो चुकी हैं। डीडीहाट और कनालीछीना क्षेत्र में आम और लीची के फल को 70 फीसदी नुकसान पहुंचा है। कनालीछीना विकास खंड और डीडीहाट विकास खंड में हो रही लगातार ओलावृष्टि से काश्तकारों को खासा नुकसान पहुंचा है।  https://www.livehindustan.com/uttarakhand/story-weather-hit-70-percent-fruit-and-crop-wasted-due-to-hail-storm-in-pithoragarh-4015564.html  (06 May 2021)

Madhya Pradesh COVID19 lockdown leaves fruit and vegetable farmers in a soup Coronavirus has left vegetable and fruit cultivators staring at huge losses as one state after another is imposing full or partial lockdowns. Meanwhile, consumers in the cities end up paying exorbitant rates for the fruits and vegetables. https://en.gaonconnection.com/vegetable-fruits-prices-lockdown-covid19-coronavirus-farmers-loss-income/  (07 May 2021)

IWP Soil erosion threatens agriculture in India Soil erosion is major environmental problem in India. What is soil erosion and what are the factors affecting it? https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/soil-erosion-threatens-agriculture-india  (07 May 2021)

SUMMER 2021

RESERVOIR STORAGE BULLETIN OF 06.05.2021

1. ALL INDIA STATUS

As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 06.05.2021, live storage available in 130 reservoirs is 56.042 BCM, which is 32% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 69.405 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 46.908 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 130 reservoirs as per 06.05.2021 Bulletin is 81% of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 119 % of storage of average of last ten years.

2. REGION WISE STORAGE STATUS:

a) 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 06.05.2021, the total live storage available in these reservoirs is 3.99 BCM which is 21% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 45% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 33% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.

b) EASTERN REGION:- There are 20 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 19.96 BCM. As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 06.05.2021, the total live storage available in these reservoirs is 5.36 BCM which is 27% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 44% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 36% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. http://cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/06-05-2021-fbpdf-f.pdf

Delhi Water supply to be affected in parts In a statement, the DJB blamed Haryana government for reducing the amount of water released in the river, causing a dip in the level of Wazirabad pond, from where water is picked for treatment by three DJB plants. The DJB has twice released similar statements last month – on April 30 and April 24 – blaming the Haryana government for not releasing the required amount of water in the river, and water supply being affected in parts of the city due to this.

“Due to depletion of pond level at Wazirabad pond, at 667.20 ft against the normal level of 674.50 ft and reduction in release of raw water by Haryana in river Yamuna, water production has been adversely affected (at) Wazirabad, Chandrawal and Okhla water treatment plants. Water supply shall be adversely affected on May 6, May 7, May 8 and so on till the pond level improves to normal,” the statement released on Wednesday (May 5) said.

A DJB official claimed water level in the river has been fluctuating since a month. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition on issues being faced in water supply in Delhi, including the DJB’s claim that Haryana has reduced the amount of water Delhi is supposed to receive through the river. A DJB official said that three water treatment plants which are affected due to low water levels in the river require a total of 250 MGD of water to operate on full capacity, against which they were receiving 194MGD as of Tuesday (May 4) afternoon.

Officials within the DJB and also in Haryana government have said that the river has been drier than usual in the past few months due to less snow melt and inadequate rainfall last year. Haryana officials have also claimed that they are supplying the required amount of water to Delhi even as they face a shortage within the State. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/water-supply-to-be-affected-in-parts-of-delhi-from-thursday-7303136/  (05 May 2021)

SC refuses to hear DJB plea against Haryana on water supply shortage The Supreme Court on Friday (May 7) refused to entertain the DJB’s plea against the Haryana government in connection with the shortage of water supply to the city and asked it to approach the Upper Yamuna River Board.

The 3-judge bench of Justice Nageswara Rao, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian granted liberty to the DJB to approach the Upper Yamuna River Board, with their prayer relating to the allocation of water to Delhi and asked the board to consider the representation made by the DJB, clarifying that the top court is not expressing any opinion on merits of the case. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2021/may/08/supreme-court-refuses-to-hear-delhi-jal-board-plea-against-haryana-on-water-supply-shortage-2299964.html  (08 May 2021)

MONSOON 2021

IMD Monsoon likely arriving on time The South-West monsoon, which is about three weeks away from its usual date of onset, will keep its time this year and arrive over Kerala on time around June 1 as per early indications available from national forecaster India Meteorological Department (IMD). https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/monsoon-likely-arriving-on-time-assesses-imd/article34512605.ece  (08 May 2021)

Weather Review for past one week and Weather Forecast for next two weeks (Hindi) Dated 06.05.2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvXdCUpJVFE  (07 May 2021)

CLOUD BURSTS

Uttarakhand  Cloudburst hit roads houses उत्तराखंड में एक बार फिर बादल फटे हैं। उत्तरकाशी के कुमरदा गांव और रुद्रप्रयाग जिले के नकोट में ये घटनाएं हुई हैं। यहां तेज पानी के बहाव में कई घरों की दीवारें और गोशाला बह गईं बहाव के साथ पहाड़ों की मिट्टी का एक बड़ा हिस्सा भी साथ में बह गया। इसके कारण लोगों के घरों में कई फीट तक मिट्टी भर गई। ग्रामीणों ने किसी तरह ऊंचे स्थानों पर चढ़कर अपनी जान बचाई। हादसे में किसी की जान जाने की फिलहाल सूचना नहीं है।

इसके अलावा टिहरी के कई इलाकों में भी अतिवृष्टि हुई है। यहां एसडीआरएफ और स्थानीय पुलिस राहत-बचाव के काम में लगे हैं। उत्तराखंड में पिछले 4 दिनों से मौसम खराब बना हुआ है। पहाड़ी इलाकों में लगातार बारिश और बर्फबारी हो रही है। एक दिन पहले सोमवार की शाम चमोली जिले में ओलाबारी हुई थी। https://thenewhind.com/?p=95792  (03 May 2021)

Chamoli cloudburst: NTPC project halted The ongoing NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) projects in the Tapovan area of Uttarakhand have been halted due to a rise in the water level of the Rishiganga river after a cloud burst in the Chamoli district. According to District Magistrate Swati Bhadoria, villagers residing nearby have been cautioned to stay out of the water. “At around 8 pm on May 4, 2021, the water level had risen in Tapovan area’s Rishiganga river due to which officials halted operations of ongoing NTPC project and villagers residing nearby were cautioned to stay out of the water,” Bhadoria said. A cloudburst in the Binsar hill area of Chamoli district on Tuesday left major destruction in the market with several shops buried under debris. No casualties were reported in the incident. Local officials and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) reached the spot and rescued a man and his two children.  https://in.news.yahoo.com/chamoli-cloud-burst-ntpc-projects-200228744.html   (05 May 2021)

Several Shops, Houses Still Buried Under Debris After Chamoli Cloudburst At least 25 shops and 31 houses are buried under the debris following the cloud burst incident in Chamoli, said DM Swati S Bhadoria on Wednesday (May 5). Earlier, District Magistrate Swati Bhadoria had informed that the ongoing NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) projects in the Tapovan area of Uttarakhand have been halted due to a rise in the water level of the Rishiganga river.  https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/chamoli-cloud-burst-several-shops-houses-buried-under-debris-2430175  (06 May 2021)

Due to incessant rainfall, the water level of Rishiganga and Alaknanda rivers increased by over 2 feet on May 4, 2021 evening. Following this, an alert was issued for people living on the banks of both rivers. Said disaster management officer Nand Kishor Joshi: This was a day after flash floods triggered by rains caused widespread damage in Ghat block of Chamoli on Tuesday. Joshi said no casualties were reported.

– Meanwhile, rivers were in spate in Almora due to heavy rains on Wednesday. Crops were ruined and water entered houses. There was a disruption in power supply, but no injuries. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/water-level-in-rishiganga-alaknanda-rises-alert-issued-for-those-living-on-river-banks/articleshow/82415337.cms  (06 May 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Assessment of basin-wise future agricultural drought status across India under changing climate Farmers in India’s north, north-east and central regions may have to be more cautious of agricultural droughts in the future – reveals IIT Kharagpur study. The data shows a geographically contrasting change in future drought patterns that indicates more intense agricultural drought in north, north-east, and central India as compared to south India due to changing climate.

– The study conducted by research scholar Mayank Suman from the School of Water Resources and Dr. Rajib Maity, Associate Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Kharagpur has been published in the Journal of Water and Climate Change. The researchers have identified vulnerable basins, out of a total of 226 sub-basins across India, considering the future agricultural drought. The area under drought is also expected to increase which might lead to about 20 to 50% of mainland India suffering from extreme to moderate agricultural drought conditions respectively, by the end of this century. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350183206_Assessment_of_basin-wise_future_agricultural_drought_status_across_India_under_changing_climate  (March 2021)

Climate change causing faster snow melt in the Himalayas New study shows decrease in average snow drought duration; this increases the risk of floods. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/climate/climate-change-snow-melt-himalayas/  (03 March 2021)

Glacial lakes threaten millions with flooding as planet heats up A 2016 study found there have been at least 1,348 recorded glacial lake outburst floods so far worldwide, of which 24% had some societal impact. More than 12,000 deaths have been attributed to such floods.

Central Asia was the most affected region, followed by South America, then the European Alps, Iceland, Scandinavia, north-west America and Greenland. The authors identify South America and central Asia as the regions most likely to experience large numbers of deaths, extreme damage to infrastructure, flooding of farmlands and the destruction of homes and roads.

Of the world’s tropical glaciers, 70% are situated in Peruvian Andes, and they are melting rapidly, which has led to several glacial disasters over recent decades. The worst so far was the 1941 glacial lake outburst flood from Lake Palcacocha, which claimed at least 1,800 lives.

Nepal, which is also highly vulnerable to glacial floods, started taking interest in GLOFs after two serious floods in the 1980s. In 1999, Nepal drained a rapidly expanding lake called Tsho Rolpa near Mount Everest to lower the lake levels, a first in the region.

According to Shrestha, Nepal has documented records of up to 35 GLOF events, but the true number is probably higher. International communication and cooperation is also critical to preventing deadly floods; a study published last year identified 47 potentially dangerous glacial lakes that could affect Nepal if breached, but only 21 were in Nepal itself. Twenty-five were also identified in China and one in India. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/02/glacial-lakes-threaten-millions-with-floods-as-planet-heats-up  (02 May 2021)

Receding glaciers causing rivers to suddenly disappear  As glaciers around the world recede rapidly owing to global warming, some communities are facing a new problem: the sudden disappearance of their rivers. River piracy, or stream capture, is when water from one river is diverted into another because of erosion or, in this case, glacier melt.

Scientists predict as we move towards a world with far fewer glaciers, land that has been continuously covered by ice for many centuries will become ice-free, thus redirecting rivers in high mountain areas. In most instances, the redirection will be inconsequential. But in some areas with various user groups that rely on the river’s flow, the changes might have a more significant impact. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/03/receding-glaciers-causing-rivers-to-suddenly-disappear  (03 May 2021)

Climate change at Earth’s poles since at least the 1990s The planet’s spin on its axis is determined, in part, by the distribution of weight around the globe, in the same way the spin of a top is determined by its shape. Satellite data from 2002 and later had already shown that climate change is altering this weight distribution, largely because melting glaciers and ice sheets have caused the North and South poles to drift.

Scientists had also observed polar drift in the 1990s, but uncovering the cause of that drift was tricky, because there were no direct satellite observations of water distribution around the globe from that era. Now, researchers have compared possible scenarios of total water distribution around the world and found that the best explanation for the changes to the poles in the 1990s is human-caused climate change. Melting ice sheets, combined with groundwater pumping for agriculture, altered the water distribution on the planet enough to make the planet’s axis shift. https://www.livescience.com/climate-change-shifts-poles.html  (29 April 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

India-China China’s dam project jeopardised by unstable glacial lake A glacial lake formed by a landslide on the Yarlung Zangbo River in Tibet is proving to be an obstacle for China’s mission to build a major hydropower plant on the river’s lower reaches close to the border with the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The mountain lake has 600 million cubic metres of water, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Apr 28 2021.

– The lake was formed in 2018 following a landslide caused by a melting glacier in the Sedongpu Basin in eastern TAR’s Milin County. “With the river spilling over the top at present, the dam could collapse at any time,” the SCMP report said. The lake in the Sedongpu Basin “sits just a few dozen kilometres 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”.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/chinas-dam-project-near-arunachal-pradesh-jeopardised-by-unstable-glacial-lake-101619638779508.html  (29 April 2021)

Some Chinese scientists have proposed that instead of building a super dam, a 16km-long tunnel could be dug through one of the high mountains in the Yarlung Tsangpo valley.

The water could be directed into the tunnel to push electricity generating turbines. This scheme would reduce the power output to 50GW – or about twice that of the Three Gorges Dam – but reduce the risk of damage from landslides or other natural disasters. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/melting-glaciers-threaten-chinas-plan-to-build-massive-dam-over-brahmaputra-in-tibet-media-report/2072930  (28 April 2021)

Pakistan Farmer offer solutions to govt paddy bans Sharif, an online sensation within the South Asian farming community, has a solution: if rice has to be grown, it should happen without flood irrigation. According to him, the rice plant uses 70% of its energy just to survive the inundation. “Rice can be grown with minimal water,” said the 70-year-old. He added that the ban in parts of Sindh is “unnecessary”. “Give it less water and the yield will be three to four times more,” he said, adding that the soil should be kept reasonably moist. Sharif grows a variety of crops on his 200 hectares of land and has thousands of farmers listening to his every word. He engages with the virtual community and gives advice to people from across the globe.

He has more than 24,000 followers, mostly farmers, including quite a few from Indian Punjab. They share videos on his Facebook page, titled Pedaver, showing how well their crops are doing after they follow his tips. Sharif said “everything can be grown anywhere”. He advocates for farmers to return to doing cultivation on raised beds, without tilling and using organic mulch. Paradoxical agriculture, or paedar qudrati nizam kashtkari (PQNK) as he calls it, is a “comprehensive climate-smart production process total solution”.

“The PQNK process took several years to develop and mature,” said Sharif. “I started with the System of Rice Intensification in 2008. Then merged the crop system of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Conservation Agriculture by 2011. This is how PQNK evolved by 2014.” The results are impressive. “In Punjab, we have reduced the production cost of wheat from 1,500 Pakistani rupees (9.70 US dollars) to PKR 400 (USD 2.60) per 40 kg,” he claimed. And yet, he has been unable to bring about a revolution. He faults the farm munshi or manager for thwarting development. “They get huge kickbacks by creating demand for each input that increases the cost of production,” he said.

Farmers with huge landholdings are also to blame, he said. “In connivance with corporations and businesses, they keep the rural population deprived of knowledge and therefore, prosperity,” he said. He talked of the need for a “crop production management company” that travels to different farmlands, teaching farmers how to grow certified crops that are exportable. Zarif Khero from Sindh’s Irrigation Department supported the idea of training. “Farmers should engage with students from agricultural universities so they can transition to modern methods of sustainable farming which can result in better yields,” he suggested.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/livelihoods/pakistan-bans-water-guzzling-rice-one-farmer-has-alternative/  (05 May 2021)

7 kids killed in Pak water tank collapse Seven children were killed when a water tank made of bricks and cement collapsed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, rescue officials said. The children aged between four and 12 years were playing near the tank in Mohmand district when the walls collapsed on them on Saturday (May 8), Abdullah Mohmand, spokesperson of the state-owned Rescue 1122 in the district, told Xinhua news agency. He added that the children remained trapped under the debris of the tank until the residents and rescue teams retrieved the bodies and the one injured from the rubbles. He said that the tank was in a dilapidated condition, and locals used to fetch water from it for drinking and other purposes. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/7-kids-killed-in-pak-water-tank-collapse-250312  (09 May 2021)

ASIA

The aftermath of the rock slope collapse and rock avalanche on Mount Kekachi in Japan. Image tweeted by the Toyama Prefectural Police Mountain Guard.

Japan Mount Kekachi: an interesting rock slope failure and rock avalanche https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/05/07/mount-kekachi/  (07 May 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Floods & dam damage in Arkansas state. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/apr/30/flash-floods-hit-states-northwest/  (30 April 2021)

Portion of Lake Bella Vista dam washed out Floodwaters washed out an area of the Lake Bella Vista dam in Bentonville on Wednesday while a lawsuit over its fate sits on appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. A press release from the city said the structure “suffered an additional failure” approximately 50 feet in width, west of the east spillway. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/apr/29/forecasters-flash-flooding-remains-concern-northwe/  (29 April 2021)

Report The lure of mega projects Ruling elites of the world, especially those of the Global South, are in awe of large and mega infrastructure projects, pumping billions or in some cases even trillions of dollars into these capital intensive initiatives. Such projects are considered the hallmark of modern civilization with economic pundits declaring them to be the solution to all the economic ills that have plagued the global economy. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/831449-the-lure-of-mega-projects  (07 May 2021)

Pollutants, including plastic, reach deep-sea fans through linked sediment routing systems, as well as from outside the associated catchment(s), via near-shore and shelfal currents (i.e., littoral cells), eolian transport, surface currents, and direct input from oceanic sources such as shipping and fishing. Credit: I.A. Kane and A. Fildani (Modified from Hessler and Fildani [2019].)

Plastic pollution in the deep sea: A geological perspective A new focus article in the May issue of Geology summarizes research on plastic waste in marine and sedimentary environments.  https://phys.org/news/2021-05-plastic-pollution-deep-sea-geological.html  (04 May 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 03 May 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 19 April 2021  

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

One thought on “DRP NB 10 May 2021: Velcan Holdings provide another evidence of unviable large hydro in India

  1. Well, as in January 2021, we almost defeated covid 19 on paper and speeches, like wise, all those factors that contribute to natural calamities, have perhaps, vanished on their own, on paper.
    As a result, there are new dams being passed, new environmental clearances are issued on baseless presumptive studies and the ministry gets down to work on how public money can be siphoned through unviable infrastructures.
    We are witnessing the worst era in terms of political, economical and of course, due to Covid-19, health wise.

    Like

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