DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 24 May 2021: Campaign to protect Pune Rivers

An active campaign has been going on for several months now to save the Pune Rivers from the so called “River Front Development” Project as can be seen the following stories of just last one month. The RFC supporters are also out to push multi crore project, as can be seen from the numerous stories being planted in the media on regular intervals. There is no doubt that the Pune Rivers will be destroyed and the city will face increasing flood disasters if the project goes ahead. One hopes the Civil Society campaign continues and judiciary steps in to stop this destruction at the earliest.

River Front Project will destroy Pune Rivers 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  (Rosamma Thomas, 6 May 2021)

Mula-Mutha; Pune WRD directs MahaMetro to remove debris from riverbed The Maharashtra water resources department’s Pune irrigation circle has issued an order to the Maharashtra Metro railway Corporation Limited (MahaMetro) to remove the dumpings made in the Mutha riverbed immediately. The department has also warned the metro that it shall be entirely responsible for flood situation in rainy season due to the debris. Pune irrigation circle superintendent engineer Sanijiv Chopade has sent a letter to MahaMetro to remove the debris immediately before monsoon begins.

Chopde stated in a letter that we were assured from time to time through letters against dumping in the river. In spite of this, the dumping made near Deccan to construct the pillars and the huge filling at Mula Mutha confluence behind CID office has not been removed. The letter pointed out that a visit and inspection of the Mutha river was conducted in the first week of January and it was noted that the aforementioned dumplings were not removed. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/water-resources-department-directs-mahametro-to-remove-debris-from-riverbed-101621782123051.html  (23 May 2021)

Giving life back to Pune’s life-giving Mula-Mutha river The intention of the river rejuvenation programme must be to improve the health of the river as a natural entity. A healthy riverine ecosystem requires that its natural processes, flow regimes, and biodiversity be retained. CEE and the Ecological Society conducted a scientific study of the Mula-Mutha river to develop an approach for restoration of the river ecosystem. A summary of the key recommendations are presented here. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/civic-sanskriti-giving-life-back-to-pune-s-life-giving-mula-mutha-river-101620732867822.html  (11 May 2021)

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 (3 May 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)

PMC riverbank project to offer boating, chowpatty The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has undertaken the Mula-Mutha riverbank development project. This will take place over 11 stages. One of the initiatives under this project is to start boating at several points along the Mula-Mutha river. Around 16 points are going to be considered for boating. 23 new tanks will be built for Ganpati Visarjan, 11 places along the riverside will be considered for chowpatty and snack corners. In the 2021-22 annual budget, the municipal commissioner has granted Rs 150 crore for this project. The civic body has started work of demarcation of land, design. In November 2019, Maharashtra State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) gave a no-objection certificate. Now, PMC is awaiting approval from the state govt to form a special purpose vehicle.  https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/pmc-riverbank-project-to-offer-boating-chowpatty/articleshow/82749917.cms  (19 May 2021)

POST SCRIPT: On reading this lead story, Sarang Yadwadkar, who has been most consistent, persistent campaigners, particularly with his series of NGT petitions, wrote:

“We also should highlight the 3 barrages proposed in this project to store water (sewage?) in the rivers. These barrages are going to cause huge impacts.

The EC accorded to this project is without any assessment of the barrages. The minutes of the SEAC meeting categorically mention that they have no expertise to assess the impacts of the proposed barrages. I completely fail to understand, how EC could be given in that case?

We have therefore challenged the EC in NGT.” He also shared the image of one part of his NGT petition to highlight why the SEAC clearance to the project is untenable:

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog Himalayan Disasters: EWS must, but much more needed In this Guest Article, well known Uttarakhand scientist  Prof S P Sati talks about the suggestion of a robust early warning system, need for more comprehensive action plan for the Himalayan disasters, use of existing institute for the same, need for academic independence and involvement of independent scientists in policy making. All VERY important issues. Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2021/05/18/himalayan-disasters-early-warning-systems-must-but-much-more-needed/  (18 May 2021)

Death & disaster at NHPC Parvati II HEP In a tragic incident, 4 labourers were killed and one was injured after part of an under construction tunnel of NHPC’s Parbati-2 hydropower project collapsed on Friday evening around 5.40 pm, May 21, 2021. This happened at Pancha Nalla in the Garsa (Bhuntar) Valley of Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district.

The accident happened when the labourers were doing drilling work in the 600m-long diversion tunnel (a sub tunnel of the main 31.52 km long tunnel. This description possibly shows signs of neglect of NHPC and the contractors.[iv]  https://sandrp.in/2021/05/22/deaths-and-disaster-at-nhpcs-parbati-ii-hydro-project/   (22 May 2021)

Himachal Pradesh एनएचपीसी टनल धंसने से 4 की मौत https://www.amarujala.com/shimla/under-construction-tunnel-of-nhpc-collapsed-in-kullu-himachal-five-workers-trapped  (21 May 2021)

Arunachal Pradesh Construction work of Subansiri Lower HEP underway It is alleged that the COVID-19 protocol has not been followed in the project site. The water level of the catchment area of the project has risen since Friday due to the heavy downpour. As a result of it, the overflowing water, penetrating through the diversion tunnel, has once again posed threat to the cofferdam of the project like the previous years. The overflowing water has also posed threat to the guard wall of the power house which collapsed last year. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/assam-news/construction-work-of-subansiri-lower-hydroelectric-project-underway-in-lakhimpur-538559  (16 May 2021)

5.8 Magnitude Earthquake Near Changlang An earthquake of magnitude 5.8 was reported near Changlang on Friday evening (May 21), according to India’s National Center for Seismology. The epicentre of the earthquake was 402 km southeast (SE) of Changlang, the agency said. The earthquake struck at 7:18 PM IST at a depth of 100 km from the surface. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/earthquake-in-arunachal-pradesh-today-with-magnitude-5-8-earthquake-in-india-2446759  (21 May 2021)

Anini still cut off Anini, the ‘last town of India’ near the sensitive India-China border, has been completely cut off for all types of vehicles affecting transportation of medical and essential supplies amid a surge in COVID-19. Speaking with East Mojo, Dibang Valley deputy commissioner Minga Sherpa said, “This is the second time in less than two months that the town has been cut off from the rest of the country.”

The Bailey bridge near Ambili over Dri River, a “crucial link” on National Highway 313 between Roing and Anini, is merely 10 km from the town. https://www.eastmojo.com/arunachal-pradesh/2021/05/24/indias-last-town-anini-in-arunachal-still-cut-off-but-not-for-these-covid-warriors/  (24 May 2021)

Bailey bridge collapses in Arunachal’s Dibang Valley district. Image source East Mojo

The movement of troops, government officials and citizens were hit after a Bailey bridge over Dri River in Dibang Valley district collapsed on Tuesday (April 6), cutting the last town near the sensitive Indo-Sino border, Anini, from the rest of the country.

The driver of a dumper sustained injuries but is said to be out of danger, a source said. The process of removing the debris of the steel bridge is on so that it doesn’t obstruct the river from its natural flow. https://www.eastmojo.com/arunachal-pradesh/2021/04/07/arunachal-bailey-bridge-collapses-in-dibang-valley-last-town-anini-cut-off/  (07 April 2021)

Uttarakhand Tributes to Sundarlal Bahuguna The Best Homage to Sunderlal Bahuguna is to Strengthen People-Centered Protection of Environment and Forests. https://countercurrents.org/2021/05/the-best-homage-to-sunderlal-bahuguna-is-to-strengthen-people-centered-protection-of-environment-and-forests/  (21 May 2021) Generations of activists learnt from him about the connection between forests, livelihoods, gender inequalities, and the sheer injustice of ‘development’ that stole trees, soil and water away from villagers for the benefit of city-dwellers. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/sundarlal-bahuguna-chipko-andolan-himalayan-forest-7324932/  (22 May 2021)

MoEF The agenda of the EAC meeting on River Valley Projects to be held on May 25, 2021 has just one agenda item:- 1070 MW Naba HEP near Naba village, Upper Subansiri dist of Arunachal Pradesh by Naba Power Pvt Ltd – Terms of References http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/19052021RMU2A9J4FinalAgendaRiverValley12thEAC.pdf 

DAMS

Polavaram Project Two firms bid for additional works  Two firms have filed bids for the additional head works of Polavaram Irrigation Project (PIP) in the second call given by the water resources government earlier this month. The technical evaluation of the bids will be done on Wednesday (May 19), followed by commercial/financial evaluation on Wednesday (May 19) before going for reverse tendering, the officials said. The additional head works include investigation, survey, preparation of designs and construction of RCC diaphragm wall end cut-off for spill channel, vibro stone columns and others. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/may/19/two-firms-bid-for-additional-works-of-polavaram-irrigation-project-2304547.html  (19 May 2021)

6 gates lifted  Irrigation officials lifted six gates at the Polavaram project on Friday (May 21). A team of senior officials, led by engineer-in-chief C Narayana Reddy, monitored the operation. The irrigation department is determined to complete a major part of the works before the arrival of monsoon. This is because, the government has decided to divert flood water through the project spillway during the coming monsoon. For this, the operation of gates is crucial. The gates would be opened to allow floodwater to flow downstream after the water table reaches full reservoir level (FRL) during flood season.

To put this in context, the Polavaram project area was flooded with 36 lakh cusecs water on August 16, 1986. It was with this in mind that the Central Water Commission (CWC) designed the project capable to take maximum flood flow of 50 lakh cusecs. The project contractor — Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL) — has already erected 42 radial gates of the total 48. Fixing of six gates is pending due to a delay in import of hydraulic cylinders from Germany. Nevertheless, the irrigation department has decided to launch operations of gates already erected. MEIL has also set up 17 power packs to operate the gates from the control room. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/getting-ready-for-the-rains-six-gates-lifted-at-polavaram-project-in-andhra-pradesh/articleshow/82851784.cms  (22 March 2021)

Kerala KSEB takes steps to keep reservoir storage at safe levels With just days left for the start of the 2021 southwest monsoon season, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has put in place measures to keep the water storage in major reservoirs at safe levels, officials of the State-run power utility said. As of May 20, the combined storage in the reservoirs managed by the KSEB stood at 35%, adequate to generate 1,436.23 million units (MU) of electricity. It stood at 1,298.16 MU on the same day last year, 855.35 MU in 2019 and 1,067 MU in 2018. Among the bigger reservoirs, the Idukki reservoir has 35% storage at present, Idamalayar 29% and Sholayar, 30%. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/with-monsoon-around-the-corner-kerala-state-electricity-board-takes-steps-to-keep-reservoir-storage-at-safe-levels/article34614634.ece  (21 May 2021)

RIVERS

GANGA Uttarakhand Treatment of chronic landslide zone on Badrinath road  With the completion of the Rs 107 crore treatment of the 500m-long chronic slide zone — to be dedicated to the people on January 26 — Badrinath Yatra for lakhs of pilgrims promises to be a smooth ride from this year. After the Dobra Chanti bridge in Tehri — completed after 14 years and inaugurated on November 9 last year — this will be another major infrastructural work done.

Lambagad became a slide zone area after a crack in the mountain near Pandukeshwar, around 26 years ago. Even the slightest rains triggered landslides and brought debris sliding on the road. Each year, Badrinath Yatra was impacted due to the 500m-long landslide zone. Initially, the plan was to dig a tunnel, but the plan could not be implemented and the matter was left hanging for a long time.

After a landslide at Lambagad damaged the entire stretch of highway in the June 2013 calamity, the road transport ministry assigned the project to the Public Works Department and National Highways Authority of India. Initially, clearances created hurdles and the project was delayed. But after getting all required clearances, the project gained pace in December 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/treatment-of-chronic-landslide-zone-on-badrinath-road-completed/articleshow/80158597.cms  (08 Jan. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Holiest river Ganges is swollen with Covid victims The discovery of the graves and rotting bodies, and the fear that they could be infected with the coronavirus, has sent shockwaves through the villages along the river’s banks. The discovery of the graves has triggered panic in the area. People fear that the bodies buried on the surface will begin to float in the river once it rains and the water levels rise. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-57154564  (19 May 2021)

Operation Ganga: Corona के सरकारी आंकड़ों को झुठलाते हैं Ganga किनारे बने श्मशान घाट https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9G389JfNRU  (23 May 2021)

Haridwar To Buxar: The Truth Behind The Floating Corpses https://www.ndtv.com/video/shows/reality-check/haridwar-to-buxar-the-truth-behind-the-floating-corpses-587000  (20 May 2021)

Drone footage shows hundreds of graves along the banks of the River Ganges. Many of those buried are thought to be have died from COVID-19. https://news.sky.com/video/covid-19-mass-graves-on-the-banks-of-the-river-ganges-in-india-12313152  (21 May 2021)

Local officials say that decomposition makes it difficult to determine whether they died of the coronavirus. But villagers say that fear of the disease and lack of funds to cremate are likely reasons for families to leave their dead. https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/05/20/abandoned-corpses-rural-india-indicate-surge-covid-19-deaths  (20 May 2021)

A view shows shallow sand graves of people, some of which are suspected to have died from the coronavirus, on the banks of the river Ganges in Phaphamau on the outskirts of Prayagraj, India, May 21, 2021. https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/india-reels-under-massive-covid-wave-idUSRTXCIAI1  (21 May 2021)

लाशों की राजधानी बना प्रयागराज From the Hindi news website Janchowk, this deeply disturbing but insightful video report on the Shringverpuram ghat of Allahabad/Prayagraj (“from the king of teerthas, to the capital of corpses”) made by their intrepid special correspondent Sushil Manav: Word of warning: watching this becomes unbearable at parts. I averted my eyes but continued to listen to Sushil Manav’s commentary on what we are seeing, and where those that are buried in these sands come from.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyfuFbmc3ig  (19 May 2021)

Govt begins collating data on bodies In a letter to 72 district magistrates, Achchhe Lal Singh Yadav, Additional Project Director, State Mission for Clean Ganga (SMCG)-Uttar Pradesh, asked them to report the “number of unidentified dead bodies/unclaimed corpses fished out/recovered from river/river bed or bank of the river Ganga and its tributaries and disposed/cremated as per the Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines.”

A source said that the district magistrates have also been asked to send a report on the “Audit of the infrastructure for crematoria/ burial grounds and their utilization.” Besides, the DMs have also been informed about the NMCG’s directions on “Immediately stopping dumping /burial of dead bodies/ unclaimed or unidentified corpses into river/river bed or bank of the river Ganga and its tributaries.” https://indianexpress.com/article/india/up-government-begins-collating-data-on-bodies-fished-from-ganga-7325066/  (22 May 2021)

YAMUNA Uttar Pradesh  नोएडा प्रशासन पर लगाए गंभीर आरोप महीनों के निरंतर प्रयास के बावजूद सफलता नहीं मिलने से क्षुब्ध पर्यावरणविद विक्रांत तोंगड ने प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी और पीएमओ को नोएडा पुलिस-प्रशासन के खिलाफ पत्र भेजा है। इसमें उन्होंने जिला प्रशासन और प्राधिकरणों पर कई गंभीर आरोप लगाए हैं। दरअसल केंद्र सरकार की संस्था राष्ट्रीय स्वच्छ गंगा मिशन ने अगस्त 2020 में गौतमबुद्ध नगर और ग़ाज़ियाबाद में हिंडन नदी के किनारे स्थापित और संचालित सीवर जल शोधन (STP) प्लांट का औचक निरीक्षण किया था। जांच टीम ने 11 संयत्रों में मानकों के मुताबिक जल का शोधन नहीं पाया था। इनमें काफ़ी गड़बड़ी मिली थी। STP का उचित संचालन न होने की वजह से हिंडन में गंदा पानी जा रहा था। इससे हरनंदी में प्रदूषण के स्तर में इज़ाफ़ा हो रहा था। दूसरी तरफ़ करोड़ों रुपये इन STP के नाम पर अधिकारियों एंव ठेकेदारों के पास जा रहा है। जांच के बाद NMCG ने उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार को STP संचालन में शामिल सरकारी अफसरों और संबद्ध निजी कम्पनियों के अधिकारियों के ख़िलाफ़ पर्यावरण क़ानून के साथ-साथ आपराधिक धाराओं में मुक़दमा दर्ज करने का आदेश दिया था। लेकिन करीब एक साल बीत जाने के बाद भी अब तक मामला दर्ज नहीं हुआ https://tricitytoday.com/greater-noida/environmentalist-vikrant-tongad-wrote-letter-to-pm-narendra-modi-put-serious-allegations-to-noida-administration-19307.html  (18 May 2021)

Yamuna shockingly dirty, NGT directs UP look into discharge in river Contrary to the claims of NMCG that the work on sewerage has been completed in Vrindavan last year, NGT on Thursday (May 20) said that sewage and industrial effluents were still being discharged into the Yamuna from Kosi and Vrindavan and directed the chief secretary to look into the matter and take remedial steps.

The petitioners’ counsel, Akash Vashishtha, submitted that there were about 40 small and big channels, including 19 storm water drains carrying sewage and industrial effluents into the Yamuna in Vrindavan. The tribunal has also directed the monitoring committee, headed by former judge of the Allahabad high court, Justice SVS Rathore, to look into the matter and submit an independent report of the compliance status as on September 30, 2021. The matter is next listed for October 25. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/yamuna-shockingly-dirty-ngt-directs-up-to-look-into-discharge-in-river/articleshow/82838487.cms  (22 May 2021)

Bubble curtain to stop plastic waste Geocycle will implement the innovative ‘bubble curtain’ technology for the first time in India to stop plastic from entering the Yamuna river. The Geocycle Bubble Barrier has been established on the Mantola Canal of Agra City, which carries 40% of the storm and wastewater of Agra City.

The Mantola canal has been selected for this unique project as it carries 40% of Agra city’s wastewater. Moreover, the plastic leakage into the canal is significant. The plastic waste extracted from the canal will be taken to a Municipal Solid Waste treatment and Materials Recovery Facility. The recyclable plastics will be sent to recycling facilities, while the non-recyclable plastics will be taken to Geocycle’s facility for pre-processing followed by co-processing in ACC or Ambuja cement kilns. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/yamuna-to-get-bubble-curtain-to-stop-plastic-from-entering-the-river-11621354904056.html  (18 May 2021)  

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

WII Corpses in Ganga may infect dolphins, gharials Scientists at Wildlife Institute of India have expressed fears regarding the Gangetic river dolphins (Platanista gangetica) and gharials (Gavaialis gangeticus) in the Ganga being infected by Covid-19 mainly by the corpses of those who died due to the disease. The scientists’ fears are compounded by the fact that Bihar and Uttar Pradesh – where infected corpses were found floating in the river recently – is a major stretch of the Ganga where Gangetic Dolphins and gharials and various other aquatic mammals are found.

According to WII scientists, gharial and Gangetic Dolphin are both quite vulnerable as they breathe through lungs unlike other smaller fishes which breathe through gills. Speaking to TOI, K Sivakumar, senior scientist, WII, said, “Since lions are mammals and they were found infected, aquatic mammals like Gangetic Dolphins and ghariyals are also susceptible. We are really worried about the threat as the government has spent a lot of money in the conservation of these species.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/floating-corpses-in-ganga-may-infect-gangetic-dolphins-gharials-say-scientists-at-wildlife-institute-of-india-raise-alarm/articleshow/82688931.cms  (17 May 2021)

Report Checking spread of invasive alien fish as India faces climate extremes Degrading quality of natural water bodies and rivers, coupled with climate change impacts, could set the stage for alien (invasive) species to take root, multiply and alter aquatic flora and fauna in biodiversity hotspots, warned scientists, documenting alien fishes in the Western Ghats.

In a paper, scientists at the University of Kerala reiterated concern over the expansion of alien, or non-native species in biodiversity hotspots triggered by extreme climate events, such as the flood-driven release of alien species from illegal aquaculture in Kerala, an Indian state on the southwest tip of India that sees the onset of the southwest monsoon as it sweeps into India in June.

“In India, there are no specific policies to address the issue of invasive alien species (IAS), though it is part of several existing biodiversity legislation and regulations,” explained Smrithy Raj, lead author of the paper and a PhD student working on alien species at the university.

High magnitude floods in August 2018 and 2019 resulted in the escape of at least ten alien fish species that were recorded for the first time in the water bodies and rivers snaking through the Western Ghats following the floods. Illegal farming systems, aqua-tourism destinations and amusement parks, and reservoirs facilitated the escape of alien species.

Most of the alien species that enter India are principally for ornamental trade. West Bengal is the largest ornamental fish producer in India, followed by Tamil Nadu; the trend is catching up in Kerala, fanned by a swelling rank of aquarists, many of who are not aware of the potential pitfalls of dumping exotics in water bodies after they exceed the length of their tanks.

India’s share in the global ornamental fish trade (export) is less than one percent. The majority of fish breeders in India breed exotic fishes and very few breed indigenous fishes. Over 300 exotic species are believed to be integral to India’s ornamental fish trade. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/05/checking-spread-of-invasive-alien-fish-as-india-faces-climate-extremes/  (19 May 2021)

The fight to save India’s most elusive cat By Kamala Thiagarajan The fishing cat is one of India’s most enigmatic predators, hunting the waterways of its remaining wetlands and swamps. The efforts to save it may also help save a vital buffer against climate change. “The name fishing cat is a misnomer,” says Kantimahanti. The cat is a markedly versatile predator. “It can hunt animals bigger than itself, survive anywhere, feed on anything.”

The fishing cat is usually found in two types of habitat within a wetland: mangroves and marshes. They take refuge in the reed fields – the long-bladed wetland grasses that grow in swamps. “They prefer shallow wetlands and are nest-making cats,” says Tiasa Adhya, a Kolkata-based conservationist and co-founder of The Fishing Cat Project. Their nests, made with marshy reeds and secluded in the tree holes of mangroves, are why the habitat is so inseparable from the species. “It’s here, where you can find a rich haul of snake-head and cat-fish, on which the fishing cat thrives,” says Adhya.

Predators like wolves are known to shape the landscape in which they live through their predation, but the extent to which the fishing cat influences the nature of the wetlands remains unknown. What is clear, is that a healthy population of fishing cats means a healthy environment to sustain them. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210416-the-fight-to-save-indias-most-elusive-cat  (19 April 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Karnataka Hundreds of dead fish float in Mottanalluru lake Hundreds of dead fishes have been floating for the last one week on Mottanalluru lake in South Bengaluru due to an inflow of chemicals, effluents, and pesticides from surrounding industries and agricultural fields.

Local residents allege that they were forced to live with the stench of dead fish despite complaining to the officials for the last week. (The Indian Express)

Local residents allege that they were forced to live with the stench of dead fish despite complaining to the officials for the last week. After the stench became unbearable, lake activists and residents complained to local authorities including the KSPCB and a team of officials inspected the site on Saturday and collected samples of the waterbody.

Meanwhile, the residents said that the chemicals and effluents discharged from the industries located in Chandapura are flowing towards the Mottanalluru lake which is the main reason for dead fish found in the lake. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/hundreds-of-dead-fish-float-in-bengalurus-mottanalluru-lake-residents-blame-pollution-7318416/  (18 May 2021)

Kerala Hundreds of dead fish wash up riverbank On Tuesday (April 13), residents living near Thamalam in Thiruvananthapuram, on the banks of the Karamana river, saw a huge swarm of predatory birds fly down to eat a number of dead fish that were floating on the water and had washed ashore. The fish, which included many small varieties of fish including karimeen, have started to decay, which has caused a foul smell to persist. 

Residents say this is the first time they have witnessed the phenomenon (TNM)

“When the birds began to fly down in large numbers, I noticed the dead fish. A foul smell also began emanating from the river. I have been living here for 10 years, and this is the first time this has happened,” TC Cherian, a resident of Pearl Garden on the banks of the Karmana river told TNM. The river originates from the Western Ghats and flows through the city of Thiruvananthapuram. Drinking water from Thiruvananthapuram comes from upstream of the river. Both the Aruvikkara and Peppara dams are built over the river. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/hundreds-dead-fish-wash-kerala-riverbank-residents-concerned-147324  (17 April 2021)

Punjab Hundreds of fish die in Kali Bein Days after the water supply from the Mukerian hydel channel was snapped, hundreds of fish have died in the Kali Bein at Sultanpur Lodhi. Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal said, “It is the fourth time that this is happening. The water flow from the Mukerian hydel channel was stopped on April 17.

We had informed the PPCB that the pollutants from the toxic discharges into the Bein might kill the fish. While officials came to visit the spot, fresh water in the Bein was still not released. The level of the oxygen in the water has been reduced to 0.4 mg/L. Dead fish began turning up yesterday. The number is likely to rise tomorrow. The toxic discharges from the Bhalane Dian Colonian and the partially operational STP, Kapurthala, have also choked the Bein. Without fresh water, the fish die due to the toxic discharge.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jalandhar/hundreds-of-fish-die-in-kali-bein-242359  (22 April 2021)

एनजीटी की बैठक में उठा बेई में मरी मछलियों का मुद्दा सुल्तानपुर लोधी बहती काली वेई में गिर रहे गंदा पानी के कारण आक्सीजन का स्तर कम होने से पिछले ग्यारह दिनों से मछलियां मर रही हैं। संत सीचेवाल के कारसेवकों ने पिछले दो दिनों से एक्सावेटर और जेसीबी मशीन से मरी हुई मछलियों को बाहर निकालना शुरू किया है। मंगलवार (April 27) को एनजीटी पंजाब की निगरान कमेटी के सदस्यों की आनलाइन बैठक में निर्मल कुटिया से पर्यावरण प्रेमी संत बलबीर सिंह सीचेवाल हिस्सा लिया तथा बेई में मर रही मछलियों के मुद्दे को उठाया। उन्होंने एनजीटी के चेयरमैन, केंद्रीय जल शक्ति मंत्री, मुख्यमंत्री पंजाब, मुख्य सचिव पंजाब और पंजाब प्रदूषण कंट्रोल बोर्ड को पत्र लिखकर उचित कार्रवाई करने की मांग की है।

नहरों की मरम्मत का कार्य करने के लिए हर साल बैसाखी के मौके पर बेई में साफ पानी छोड़ना बंद कर दिया जाता है। सैदो भुलाना की कालोनियां और कपूरथला शहर के गंदा पानी बेई में गिर रहा है जिसे बेई की कार सेवा के 21 साल बाद भी सरकार बंद नहीं करवा सकी। वेईं नदी में गंदे पानी के कारण बड़ी संख्या में मछलियां मर गई है जिससे पर्यावरण प्रेमियों और संगत के मन को ठेस लगी है। उन्होंने कहा कि प्रशासनिक आधिकारियों की संवेदनशीलता खत्म हो चुकी है। साल 2012, 2013, 2015 और 2017 के बाद साल 2021 में भी पावन वेईं नदी में गंदा पानी पड़ने से मछलियां लगातार मरी हैं। बताते चलें कि बेई में 250 क्यूसिक साफ पानी लगातार छोड़े जाने के बारे भी पंजाब सरकार ने आदेश दिया था लेकिन साफ पानी हर साल बैसाखी के मौके बंद कर ही दिया जाता है। वहीं, बेई में गिर रहे गंदा पानी को रोकने के लिए कार्रवाई नहीं की जा रही है। https://www.jagran.com/punjab/kapurthala-issue-of-dead-fish-in-the-bay-raised-in-ngt-meeting-21604789.html  (30 April 2021)

Madhya Pradesh गौरी सरोवर में मरी मिलीं मछलियां गौरी सरोवर में पिछले दो दिनों से मछलियां की मौत हो रही है। नगर पालिका के अफसरों के मुताबिक तालाब के पानी में ऑक्सीजन की कमी हो गई है। अब तक करीब 10 क्विंटल से अधिक मछलियां निकाली जा चुकी हैं। नगर पालिका के कर्मचारी गौरी सरोवर की सफाई में जुटे हैं। वहीं, गौरी सरोवर के आस पास रहने वाले लोग इससे उठने वाली दुर्गंध से परेशान हो रहे हैं।

Image source Dainik Bhaskar

गौरी सरोवर में नाले का गंदा पानी छोड़ा जाता है। इसके अलावा तालाब किनारे लगने वाली मीट मंडी का कचरा भी सरोवर में फेंका जाता है। इस कारण हर साल गर्मी आने से पहले या गर्मी के मौसम में हजारों मछलियाें की मौत होती है। इसके बाद भी मामले को रफादफा कर दिया जाता है। अब तक अधिकारियों द्वारा सख्त कदम नहीं उठाए जा सके। मत्स्य पालन विभाग का दावा है कि मछलियों की मौत की वजह नाले का गंदा पानी आना है। तालाब की साफ सफाई नियमित न होने से हर साल मछलियां मरती हैं। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/bhind/news/death-has-been-continuous-for-two-days-10-quintal-fishes-were-removed-the-officer-said-there-is-a-lack-of-oxygen-in-the-water-128325124.html  (March 2021)

SAND MINING

Tamil Nadu NGT refuses total ban on dredging “It is for the State Government to protect environment against over exploitation while utilizing the natural resources gifted by Mother nature, using it for sustainable development and economic development keeping into account the responsibility of maintaining equilibrium of protecting environment by applying principle of Public Trust Doctrine, Precautionary Principle, Sustainable Development and Intergenerational equality,” said a bench comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member Dr. K. Satyagopal in a recent order.

The NGT was dealing with a bunch of pleas which contended that in the guise of desilting the Srivaikundam dam in Tuticorin district, illegal mining was being carried out. The petitions also alleged that desilting was not being done in a scientific manner causing serious environmental damage. Though the NGT held that that no environmental clearance is required for in the matter, it however, said no illegal mining be permitted in the guise of de-silting or dredging of dam sites or lakes or rivers. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/ngt-refuses-total-ban-on-dredging-in-tamil-nadu-says-resources-of-nature-be-used-scientifically/articleshow/82829617.cms  (21 May 2021)

Cannot ban dredging, desilting of dams: NGT The bench further directed the government to have adequate control and monitoring mechanisms for mining, desilting or dredging, while instructing enforcement authorities to take stringent action against persons violating the norms and engaged in illegal sand mining or other exploitation of the mines or minerals than the permitted quantity. The government has also been directed to have a permanent Expert Appraisal Committee in each district. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/cannot-ban-dredging-desilting-of-dams-ngt/article34610256.ece  (21 May 2021)

10 journalists who are under threat  This also includes Sandhya Ravishankar (India) a freelance journalist reporting on elections, politics, and corruption, including on Tamil Nadu’s sand mafia and beach sand mining who has faced years of threats and harassment, including death and rape threats, doxing, and a 2018 attempt to sabotage her motorbike. https://fortune.com/2021/05/03/most-urgent-cases-journalists-human-rights-ranked-may-2021/  (04 May 2021)

Karnataka HC upholds order on river sand extraction during monsoon The High Court of Karnataka has upheld the order of the Department of Mines and Geology prohibiting sand extraction from rivers during rainy season. It observed that the ban was incorporated into the law for protecting the environment. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj passed the order while rejecting a petition filed Fakkirappa M. Murgod, who had a lease for sand extraction in Chamarajanagar district for a period of five years from August 10, 2017.

The petitioner had questioned the decision of the Deputy Director, Department of Mines and Geology, Chamarajanagar, prohibiting sand extraction from June 5 to October 15 every year. The petitioner contended that his mining lease did not contain a condition of sand extraction being prohibited during monsoon. However, the Bench agreed with the contention of the government that the Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1994, and the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016, clearly prohibit river sand mining during rainy season.

The court also pointed out that the legislature was conscious of the fact that the period of actual quarrying operations could be affected by rains or floods, and had therefore provided the sand quarrying permission for up to five years, inclusive of the non-quarrying periods such as rainy season, floods, and natural calamities. In Karnataka, the period between June 5 and October 15 is considered rainy season, the Bench noted. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-hc-upholds-order-on-river-sand-extraction-during-monsoon/article34590679.ece  (18 May 2021)

Diversion of Unused DMF for COVID Raises Eyebrows Minister for Mines and Geology, Murugesh Rudrappa Nirani on Saturday announced that a decision was taken to utilise the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds to purchase oxygen tankers, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximetres, to fulfil other emergency needs and set up oxygen generation plants. As of January 2021, the Karnataka government had already spent around Rs 118 crore out of the DMF specifically toward COVID-19. Experts say that just because such special funds remain unspent does not provide legitimacy to utilising these for other purposes. https://www.newsclick.in/Karnataka-Diversion-Unused-District-Mineral-Funds-COVID-Raises-Eyebrows  (17 May 2021)

Bihar Mines secretary asks DGP to stop illegal sand mining Mines and geology department principal secretary Harjot Kaur Bamhrah has written to DGP S K Singhal on Sunday (May 16) for strict action against the police personnel who were helping the mafia in illegal sand mining and its transportation. Videos had gone viral a few days back showing police vehicles escorting trucks overloaded with illegally mined sand. The secretary has pointed out in the letter that illegal mining, storage and transportation of the sand is not possible from the bordering areas of districts like Patna, Bhojpur, Saran, Aurangabad and Rohtas without the connivance of the police personnel concerned.

The alleged rampant illegal sand mining in the five districts started after private firms having tenders for mining sand from hundreds of ghats in the five districts stopped their work due to frequent attack by criminals and lack of security from the administration. In fact, the lockdown paved the way for the organised gangs to carry out illegal sand mining. At least two separate videos had surfaced in the last three days in which police vehicles could be seen moving with trucks overloaded with illegally mined sand. Sources said both the videos are from Bhojpur district.

Bamhrah has also written to the DGP that serious complaints of illegal sand mining were being received from the bordering areas of the five districts besides media reports of police vehicles ‘escorting’ trucks loaded with illegal sand. She has asked the DGP to direct the senior police officers in districts to stop illegal sand mining and maintain vigilance by deploying the required police personnel. This is the second time in the last ten days that the secretary has written a letter regarding illegal mining. Earlier, on May 7, she had first written to the DMs and SPs of the districts concerned to stop illegal sand mining.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/mines-secretary-asks-dgp-to-stop-illegal-sand-mining/articleshow/82747640.cms  (19 April 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Mining contractors in Gwalior allege harassment by cops  Mining contractors who won tenders in Gwalior are finding it hard to operate following alleged interference of policemen from Datia district for extortion. The Datia police had been harassing them by manhandling their employees and taking away their machines crossing their jurisdiction, says a complaint to the director general of police (DGP) Vivek Johri by MP Sales Corporation which had won a Rs 100 cr tender for sand mining in Gwalior.

According to their complaint policemen from Goraghat police station in Datia went to the Belgada sand mine, which falls under Dabra tehsil of Gwalior district and thrashed the employees and damaged their vehicles. Complaint also said that they are demanding money for releasing their vehicles and have also detained three people without any reason. “One was released after taking money while no whereabouts of two others,” the complaint alleges.

Social activist Ashish Chaturvedi has also tweeted the issue saying that the police are at war over mining. “The legal contractor is being troubled for money. Due to Covid lockdown he is not able to work, so there is no point in pressuring him for money at this hour,” he says. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/mining-contractors-in-gwalior-allege-harassment-by-cops/articleshow/82352273.cms  (02 May 2021)

Odisha RI Brutally Attacked By ‘Sand Mafias’ Before Police The Revenue Inspector (RI) of Mahanga Tehsil was allegedly attacked by some sand mafias in presence of police personnel at Koliatha area here in the district on Saturday (May 22). Acting on a tip off on illegal sand mining in Birupa river, a team from Mahanga tehsil headed by Herman raided the spot and found a tractor without a registration number is carrying sand illegally.

According to sources, the RI identified as Ganeswar Hemram and his team was attacked by the sand mafias for opposing illegal lifting of sand. When the team attempted to seize the vehicle, the owner of the tractor and his relatives attacked the officials. Hemram sustained head grievous injuries in the attack and has been admitted to Mahanga community health centre, sources informed. Meanwhile, local police have launched an investigation into the matter and assured stringent action will be taken against the accused. https://odishatv.in/news/crime/revenue-inspector-brutally-attacked-by-sand-mafias-before-police-in-cuttack-47146  (22 May 2021)

RI Attacked By Sand Mafia During Raid In Balasore The Revenue Inspector (RI) of Jaleswar town has been attacked sand mafia during a raid at sand quarry in Balasore district. Acting on the tip-off, the RI of Jaleswar Dillip Kumar Chand intercepted the vehicles near Jaleswar and investigated the illegal sand mining. During this investigation the sand mafia tried to run the dumper over the RI. The RI sustained critical injuries and has been admitted to the G.K Bhattar Hospital in Jaleswar for emergency medical treatment. On getting the information, the local police arrived at the scene and initiated an investigation into the matter. https://kalingatv.com/state/ri-attacked-by-sand-mafia-during-raid-in-balasore-district-of-odisha/  (05 March 2021)

Punjab Govt imposes ban on sand mining at night  The government on Saturday (April 24) imposed a ban on sand mining at night, according to a statement. CM Amarinder Singh, who chaired a review meeting over the issue, directed police and the Enforcement Directorate (Mining) to take strict action against those found engaged in mining operations at night. Singh asked the Mining Department to ensure that no mining is undertaken by any authorised contractor in river beds or other areas after 7.30 pm and before 5 am, according to the government release.

The CM, however, ordered that there should be no hindrance to smooth movement of sand and gravel during the night in view of the construction activity going on in the state. The availability of the material at affordable prices should also be ensured, he said, directing the Principal Secretary (Mining) to coordinate with authorised contractors to bring down prices of sand and gravel. https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/punjab-government-imposes-ban-sand-mining-night-chief-minister-amarinder-singh-700173  (24 April 2021)

SHO suspended in illegal mining racket busted Amritsar (Rural) Police have unearthed an illegal sand mining racket near Kassowal village in which two persons were arrested in this connection while the SHO of the area police station has been suspended, officials said on Sunday (May 2). Police seized a heavy earthmoving machine, nine trucks, four tractor-trolleys and some other equipment from the site on Saturday (May 1). The SHO of Ramdas police station has been suspended for alleged negligence in effectively curbing illegal mining, police said.

On the basis of specific information, Amritsar (Rural) police conducted a raid and found that large-scale illegal mining was going on along the banks of Ravi river in Kassowal village of Ramdas. The raids unearthed a systematic and large-scale illegal mining operation being conducted on the banks of the river, police said. The SHO of Ramdas police station has been suspended for alleged negligence in effectively curbing illegal mining, police said. https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/amritsar-sho-suspended-in-illegal-mining-racket-busted-701963  (02 May 2021)

Gangster involved in illegal sand mining held Khanna police on Friday (April 9) arrested an alleged kingpin of a gang involved in illegal sand mining along the Sutlej. Gurinder Singh, alias Ginda, of Bhorla in Samrala, is also wanted by Gujarat Police in a high-profile murder case of Ashish Maharaj in Kutch. Police said Ginda has links with the gangsters of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/gangster-involved-in-illegal-sand-mining-held-with-weapons-in-khanna-101617996676251.html  (10 April 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra ‘Attempts being made to drive away flamingos’ A Navi Mumbai-based green activist has alleged that ‘systematic attempts’ were being made to drive away the flamingos from the NRI Wetlands. He has also written a letter regarding the same to the Mangroves Cell, police commissioner and other departments concerned. Environmentalist Sunil Aggarwal said, “Systematic attempts are being made to drive away the flamingos from the NRI Wetlands. Earlier the outflow of water was blocked to make it stagnant and unattractive for the birds.” He further said that since the last two days a huge number of birds were coming to the wetlands. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/attempts-being-made-to-drive-away-flamingos-navi-mumbai-green-activist-23174119  (20 May 2021)

GROUNDWATER

Study Frequent earthquakes around Delhi linked to groundwater pumping  The study adds to the growing body of evidence on how modest stress changes from non-tectonic loads can influence the activity of small earthquakes. “They are still tectonic earthquakes, but apparently influenced by changing amounts of water at the Earth’s surface and in the ground,” said Roland Burgmann, Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California, Berkeley. With improved seismicity records and continuous studies, it should be possible to solidify these linkages, he said. https://www.natureasia.com/en/nindia/article/10.1038/nindia.2021.72r  (17 May 2021)

ToI Infograph

“Interestingly, the seismicity of the Delhi region exhibits strong semi-annual periodicity. Moreover, during the seasonal loading period (June-September, i.e., during the monsoon), the seismicity is lowest, whereas it is relatively high during the unloading period,” the study adds. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/groundwater-role-in-capital-tremors/articleshow/82867179.cms  (23 May 2021)

Punjab Crop diversification to address water crisis The paper titled ‘Can crop diversification be widely adopted to solve the water crisis in Punjab?” published in Current Science informs that groundwater depletion has reached alarming levels in Punjab, a pioneer of green revolution in India. While Punjab continued to grow a diverse variety of crops before the green revolution,  this was rapidly replaced by paddy–wheat cultivation post the green revolution. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/crop-diversification-address-water-crisis-punjab  (23 May 2021)

URBAN WATER

Delhi NGT directions to protect Bhalswa lake Observing that the mandate of law is to maintain waterbodies in their pristine glory as they perform important ecological functions, NGT directed the Delhi chief secretary to hold a meeting and take remedial steps to protect Bhalswa lake in northwest Delhi against pollution and encroachment.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice A K Goel ordered the chief secretary to call a meeting of representatives from the Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Jal Board, Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation and North Delhi Municipal Corporation to take cognizance of the problem and plan remedial measures in accordance with law. The tribunal also asked the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to monitor water quality data of the lake periodically and place the same on its website. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/ngt-directions-to-protect-bhalswa-lake/articleshow/82867778.cms  (23 May 2021)

Darjeeling Water, at a price! The paper titled ‘Estimation of price and income elasticity of water: a case study of Darjeeling town, West Bengal, India’ published in Current Science informs that the typical hydro-geological setting and steep alignment of rocks in the region makes it very difficult to construct borewells to procure groundwater and also to access water from rivers and streams. The people of this town thus depend on springs (groundwater) to meet their water needs. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/water-price  (21 May 2021)

Hyderabad 50% reduction in water tanker bookings this summer  While in 2019, a total of 2.75 lakh bookings were made in Hyderabad during the summer months of March, April and May, in 2020, the number of bookings reduced to 2.09 lakh bookings during the same time period. If this year’s data from March 2021 to May 17 is considered, the total number of bookings stands at a mere 95,012, which is approximately less than half of the bookings made in 2020 and around 65% lesser than 2019.

Speaking to TNM, TV Sridhar, Chief General Manager Revenue of HMWSSB said, “The demand has been much lesser this year. This is because of a couple of factors. The temperature in Hyderabad hasn’t been too high like the usual summers. The water levels have also improved in the city. Another important reason is that as commercial establishments are all closed ever since the pandemic began, the bookings have reduced.” https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/hyderabad-records-more-50-reduction-water-tanker-bookings-summer-149235  (20 May 2021)

Mumbai Work on underground water tanks to be finished before monsoon The BMC’s ambitious project of constructing underground water holding tanks near Hindmata to deal with flooding in the area is expected to be completed before monsoon. BMC officials said the tanks have a capacity to store rainwater for three hours during heavy rain. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/work-on-underground-water-tanks-near-hindmata-to-be-finished-before-monsoon-7326262/  (23 May 2021)

AGRICULTURE

Chhattisgarh Rs 10K subsidy for farmers to grow crops other than paddy  Farmers will get an input subsidy of Rs 10,000 per acre for cultivating some crops identified by the government other than paddy from the Kharif season 2021-22, an official said on Thursday (May 20). The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by CM Bhupesh Baghel here on Wednesday (May 19) in a bid to encourage cultivation of crops other than paddy in Chhattisgarh, which known as the ‘rice bowl’ of central India because of extensive cultivation of rice in the state.

The CM decided to expand the scope of Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana and to cover all the major Kharif crops like maize, soyabean, sugarcane, kodo-kutki, pulses along with paddy under it from the next season, the public relations department official said. Under the scheme, farmers will be provided an input subsidy of Rs 9,000 per acre for paddy cultivation in the Kharif season 2020-21 and on all major Kharif crops, including paddy, from the next season, he said. In the Kharif season 2019-20, the state government provided an input support of Rs 10,000 per acre to farmers for paddy cultivation.

“If the farmers, who had sown paddy in 2020-21, cultivate kodo-kutki, sugarcane, maize, soybean, pulses, oilseeds, aromatic paddy, other fortified varieties of paddy or carry out tree plantations in place of paddy in the same land, then they would be provided Rs 10,000 per acre as input subsidy, instead of Rs 9,000 per acre,” he said. Farmers who will plant trees in the fields will be given an input subsidy of Rs 10,000 per year for the next three years, he added.The subsidy amounts will be directly transferred to the accounts of beneficiaries, he added. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/rs-10000-subsidy-for-chhattisgarh-farmers-to-grow-crops-other-than-paddy/articleshow/82794361.cms  (20 May 2021) 

DAM FLOOD 2021

Karnataka AMR dam release causes losses to under construction Harekala-Adyar dam Chairman of Karnataka State Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Corporation, K Ravindra Shetty Ulidottu, promised to make the state government abreast of the loss of crores of rupees suffered by the company executing the Harekala-Adyar dam project. He was speaking after visiting the Harekala-Adyar dam site which is under construction at a cost of Rs 200 crore. On account of the river water which gushed into the dam site due to the cyclone, the dam has suffered extensive damage, and Ravindra Shetty, who inspected the loss, was accompanied by Harekala villagers.  The works at the dam site have suffered extensively due to the cyclone. Due to the flood, cement, steel, machinery etc have submerged in water, causing a loss of ten crore rupees to the builders which I have personally seen.

The work of extricating three excavators and a crane which are stuck in the middle of the river is under way. Project in-charge, Gurumurthy, said that rescue work is continuing day and night and the company has lost heavily as the pipe tunnels which were erected at six places were washed away. Thirty-two pumps, and seven 125 kv generators have also been consumed by river water. 7,000 cement bags, steel rods and iron centering materials also got swept away. The loss has been estimated at ten crore rupees,” he stated.

He said that the tragedy could have been avoided if the company had been informed in advance about the release of water from the AMR dam at Shambhoor. AMR dam officials, who were aware about the Harekala dam work going on, should have given advance information so that the losses could have been avoided. As water came rushing in suddenly at 3 am on Tuesday, there was a huge flood which washed away everything.

One of the workers, Reepul Sarkar, said that 50 workers were asleep in a temporary shed near the work site and when water came charging in at 3 am, all the workers ran away and reached the shore. Cooking materials and other things in the shed were washed away. Because of the failure to issue advance warning, all the things were consumed by the flood, and now we are busy recovering the things from the river, he added. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=834310  (18 May 2021)

Uttar Pradesh बनवसा बैराज से अचानक छोड़े गए 75 हजार क्यूसेक पानी ने शारदा उफनाई, पैंटून पुल बहा बृहस्पतिवार (May 20) रात बनवसा बैराज से अचानक शारदा नदी में 75 हजार क्यूसेक पानी रिलीज किया गया, जिससे शारदा उफना गई। पानी बढ़ने से पूरनपुर तहसील क्षेत्र में शारदा नदी के धनारा घाट पर बना पैंटून पुल तेज धार के साथ तीन टुकड़ों में बंटकर बह गया, जो करीब चार किलोमीटर दूर गांव राहुलनगर के समीप जंगल में नदी किनारे फंसा मिला। पैंटून पुल बहने से तहसील क्षेत्र के शारदा पार इलाके में आने जाने का रास्ता बंद हो गया। यहां से पूरनपुर की दूरी करीब 30 किलोमीटर होगी। पैंटून पुल बहने से लोगों को पूरनपुर तहसील मुख्यालय जाने आने के लिए 30 के बजाय करीब 130 किमी की दूरी तय करनी होगी।

-शारदा ऊफनाने से ग्राम राहुलनगर में पानी घुस गया। बाढ़ की आशंका से लोग घरेलू सामान समेटने लगे। शारदा नदी के किनारे कई गांव के लोग सब्जी, तरबूज, खरबूजा की फसल करते है। यहां होने वाली कई सब्जियां दिल्ली तक सप्लाई की जाती हैं। अबकी शारदा किनारे परवल, शिमला मिर्च, तरबूज, खरबूजा, लौकी, खीरा आदि फसलें खड़ी थीं। जो पानी के साथ बह गई। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/pilibhit/civic-amenities-pilibhit-news-bly4472848157  (22 May 2021)

URBAN FLOODS

Pune PMC sets up flood control cell to monitor water level in dams  The PMC has decided to set up a 24×7 flood control cell to monitor the Khadakwasla, Mulshi and Katraj lake water levels. On Monday (May 17), PMC took the decision to provide adequate manpower to operate the flood control cell 24×7, from June 1 till December 31, 2021. The cell will help alert the respective officers to plan rescue and rehabilitation operations where needed.

Against the background of the Ambilodha flood situation in the past, the cell will also monitor the Katraj lakes (upper and lower). When the upper Katraj lake is overflowing, excess water flows into the lower lake located at the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park. From there it flows into the Ambil odha (stream), before it meets the Mutha river. Additional municipal commissioner Rubal Agarwal issued the order to set up the cell.

Pune was hit twice by floods in 2019. First, in early August, and then, in September, heavy rain (87.3 mm) caused the Ambil odha and other smaller canals to overflow. At least 17 people were killed. The water flooded residential areas of Katraj-Kondhwa road, Sahakarnagar, Satara road, and Sinhagad road. It caused mass destruction of properties. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/pmc-sets-up-flood-control-cell-to-monitor-water-level-in-dams-101621265050343.html  (17 May 2021)

Mumbai In 2 years, flooding spots increase by 132 Twenty-four new spots have emerged in the island city since last year’s monsoon. According to data from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), there are 139 flooding spots that need to be tackled this monsoon.

In the last two years, flooding spots have increased by 132. This year, there are 405 flooding spots, of which 176 are in the western suburbs and 139 in the island city. Till last year, there were 386 such spots and the year before that 273.

Activists and experts point to infrastructure projects like the coastal road project and metro work as reasons, but the administration emphasises that extreme weather events should be factored in.

The civic body blames the unprecedented amount of rainfall, development works including metro construction, housing projects, for the increase in flooding spots. According to a study by the CEEW, a Delhi-based think tank, Mumbai has witnessed a three-fold increase in the frequency of extreme flood events between 1969 and 2019. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/in-2-years-flooding-spots-in-mumbai-increase-by-132-7288720/  (25 April 2021)

Guwahati Residents urge CM to solve flash floods problem There are five major channels — Bharalu, Mora Bharalu, Basistha, Bahini and Lakhimijan — in the city, which need to be cleaned by the GMC before every monsoon to deal with the flash floods. Due to the decrease in the carrying capacity of these channels because of siltation, maximum parts of the city, including Tarun Nagar, Rajgargh, entire Zoo road, parts of GS road, parts of Maligaon and Birubari reel from flash floods if it rains for just 30 minutes.

An official of the GMC said the civic body had floated tender for cleaning the drains of the city so that the rain water could be diverted to drains during the monsoon. “But the entire process has been halted since the model code of conduct came into force in the state. Now, the code has been lifted and the process of awarding the work to an agency has started,” he added.

Abani Kumar Bhagawati, professor of Geography department in Gauhati University, said the flood situation in the city worsened in the last 20 years due to rapid urbanization. He added that the situation will worsen so much that it will eventually force people of a few areas to leave the city.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/guwahati-residents-urge-new-cm-to-solve-flash-floods-problem/articleshow/82543420.cms  (11 May 2021)

DROUGHT

Research Southern India’s 2016-2018 drought was the worst in 150 years After examining rainfall data over the past 150 years, researchers in India and the US conclude that the 2016-2018 northeast monsoon drought was unprecedented with more than 40 percent deficit in northeast monsoonal rainfall during the three years.

The recent drought was worse than the Great Drought of 1874-1876 that led to crop failure, which in turn resulted in the Great Madras Famine of 1876 to 1878 that claimed millions of lives. The team demonstrates that cool phases in the equatorial Indian and Pacific Oceans are associated with the rainfall deficit. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/05/southern-indias-2016-2018-drought-was-the-worst-in-150-years/  (20 May 2021)

DISASTERS

Cyclone Yaas IMD says Amphan-like intensification can’t be ruled out After severe cyclonic storm Tauktae in the west coast, another cyclone named Yaas is likely to hit the east coast on May 26, the IMD said on Wednesday (May 19). A low pressure area is very likely to form over north Andaman Sea and adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal around May 22, it said. It is likely to intensify gradually into a cyclonic storm in the subsequent 72 hours, the IMD added. Under the influence of the system, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya are likely to receive light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy falls at isolated places from evening of May 25, the weather department said.

The pre-monsoon months of April and May usually witness formation of cyclones on the eastern as well as the western coast. May 2020 saw two cyclones – super cyclonic storm Amphan and severe cyclonic storm Nisarga – which hit the eastern and western coast, respectively.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cyclone-yaas-imd-warns-of-amphan-like-intensification-101621481917684.html  (20 May 2021)

CLOUD BURSTS

Uttarakhand  A cloud bust in Bijnu village under Chakrata Tahsil Dehradun in May 20, morning hours has killed two people while two are missing. https://rajkajlive.com/uttarakhand/breaking-news-uttarakhands-kaal-breaks-rain-four-people-killed-two-missing-and-two-injured/  (20 May 2021) https://eng.bharattimes.co.in/cloud-burst-in-chakrata-of-dehradun-4-missing-got-red-alert/  (20 May 2021) https://www.livemint.com/news/india/cloud-burst-in-dehradun-s-district-red-alert-for-heavy-rain-in-uttarakhand-11621492985757.html  (20 May 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Report Throughout the Pandemic, EC Laws Under the Chopping Block  Even the global health crisis that unfolded in the past year has not deterred the current government from executing its plans for ‘ease of doing business’.

2011 to 2020 – A green law is altered close to 300 times. 2020 – A brand new iteration of the law is proposed. 2020-2021 – No decision on the proposal, but the current law undergoes 33 alterations.

This, in a nutshell, is the onslaught that India’s law for granting environmental permissions to projects has been subject to in the last decade, largely to facilitate the ‘ease of doing business’. https://thewire.in/environment/throughout-the-pandemic-environmental-clearance-law-has-been-under-the-chopping-block  (22 May 2021)

Western Ghats Threatened species found in North Western Ghats Maharashtra is rich with varied biodiversity ranging from forests, to wetland, to grassland to coast to evergreen forest and Western Ghats. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Western Ghats is a treasure trove of biodiversity and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. It is home to more than 30 per cent of all plant, fish, bird, and mammal species found in India and many of these species are endemic.

According to WWF India, 50 per cent of India’s amphibians and 67 per cent of fish species are endemic to this region. Endemism refers to any species which is exclusively confined to a particular geographical area and occurs nowhere else in the world. Here is a list of a few threatened species that are found in North Western Ghats, Maharashtra: https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/science/international-biodiversity-day-threatened-species-found-in-north-western-ghats/2256958/  (22 May 2021)

Report Ships water-pollution footprint is rising While the ban on sulphur-rich fuel has driven up fitting of scrubbers—250 ships in 2015 versus 4,300 ships in 2021—data from early last year showed the scrubbers were overwhelmingly open-loop. Both kinds of scrubbers have led to the dumping of 10 gigatons of scrubber wastewater containing dangerous pollutants and toxic chemicals, including carcinogenic hydrocarbons.

This has endangered not just sensitive marine ecosystems along the most popular sea routes, but also threatens human health through seafood-consumption. Against this backdrop, as India embarks on its Sagarmala programme, it will need to keep in that it can’t allow one kind of pollution to mutate into another in the name of green action.  https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/dark-water-thanks-to-exhaust-scrubbers-while-ships-are-polluting-the-air-less-their-water-pollution-footprint-is-rising/2254503/  (19 May 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Report How soil can help solve our climate problem The idea that farmers can capture carbon and improve their bottom lines at the same time is gaining ground in the agriculture community and among business leaders and policy makers. They would like to pay farmers for adopting practices, such as using cover crops and low-till methods, that take carbon from the atmosphere and store it, presumably for centuries, in the soil. Large-scale adoption of so-called carbon farming, proponents say, can transform the industry from a greenhouse gas emitter to a global carbon absorber.

– One way farmers can get paid is to sell carbon credits for each metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent they sequester. Private marketplaces for those credits are popping up now, and while their methodologies for verifying carbon practices and certifying credits appear robust, they are not all the same.

– The Biden-Harris administration has directed the US Department of Agriculture to help farmers adopt practices that sequester carbon. And in the Senate, the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act would enable the USDA to standardize private carbon credit markets and certify third-party verifiers to boost farmers’ confidence in the schemes. The European Commission is crafting similar farm supports and plans to launch a verified carbon market this year for the European Union.

– But opinions vary in the farm and environmental communities about the best ways to help growers transition to climate-smart practices. Some experts say focusing just on carbon credits takes too narrow a view of soil health practices, while others fear the programs will benefit only large landowners. Meanwhile, scientists are still researching the mechanisms of soil carbon sequestration, including how much carbon can be stored, for how long, and how to measure it. https://cen.acs.org/food/agriculture/Soil-depletion-carbon-credit-market-climate-change/99/i18  (16 May 2021)

Research Direct link between Cyclone Tauktae & climate change According to a paper by Climate Trends, a Delhi-based agency cyclones are fueled by available heat in the water bodies and the conducive temperature for the intensification of the cyclone is 28°C and above. The Bay of Bengal is usually warmer than Arabian Sea and therefore hosts more tropical storms. However, the scenario is now changing, “as we have seen Sea Surface Temperature (SSTs) increasing rapidly in the last century”. The paper said that as a result, SSTs in the Arabian Sea are over the threshold values which leads to active convection, torrential rainfall, and intense cyclones. https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/research-paper-sees-direct-link-between-cyclone-tauktae-and-climate-change-121051600589_1.html  (16 May 2021)

Arabian Sea to see more cyclones than Bay of Bengal: Murakami  Hiroyuki Murakami, a climate scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’ Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory was among the first to make the linkages between global warming and increase in extremely severe cyclones over Arabian Sea in his paper published in Nature journal in 2017. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/tauktae-rare-but-arabian-sea-will-see-more-cyclones-than-bay-of-bengal-in-future-murakami-101621425332117.html  (19 May 2021)

NASA on cyclone Tauktae: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/148325/cyclone-tauktae-strikes-india  (17 May 2021)

Bihar State highly vulnerable but lacks action plan Fourteen out of 50 districts most vulnerable to climate change in India are in Bihar, according to a latest study, “Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Adaptation Planning in India Using a Common Framework”. The study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi and IIT Guwahati in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru identifies the most vulnerable states and districts of India with respect to current climate risks and finds Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam have over 60% districts in the category of highly vulnerable districts.

The study recommends the prioritisation of adaptation interventions in all these states. The state is unique in its vulnerability to hydro-meteorological disasters as the northern part of Bihar faces annual floods and the southern part is prone to droughts. According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Natural Sciences Research, 21.1% of the total area of Bihar falls in seismic Zone V.  https://india.mongabay.com/2021/05/bihar-highly-vulnerable-to-climate-change-says-study-but-lacks-action-plan/  (19 May 2021)

Uttarakhand Climate change forces farmers to migrate Climate change in Uttarakhand will increasingly force people to abandon farming at high altitudes and move to the plains over the next 30 years. A new study on the state in the middle of the Himalayan range by the Germany-based Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi has forecast the worst impacts will be in higher elevations. This may accelerate the trend of people migrating and leaving land fallow. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/climate/climate-change-forces-migration-uttarakhand-farmers/  (17 May 2021)

NASA NASA Releases Stunning Image Of Huge Glacier Melting Away NASA has released a new, stunning image on its Instagram account that shows a huge glacier melting away. The image captured by Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut, from the International Space Station (ISS), is of the Upsala Glacier, the third-largest in the Southern Patagonian Icefield of Argentina and Chile.

The American space agency said glaciers are getting smaller and this is becoming noticeable by astronauts in space as well as Earth observation satellites that monitor their progression for climate scientists. The image shows the Upsala Glacier suffering a significant retreat due to the climate crisis as a large chunk of it breaks away. https://gadgets.ndtv.com/science/news/nasa-releases-image-of-upsala-glacier-in-retreat-captured-from-iss-2445505  (20 May 2021)

World’s largest iceberg breaks off  Iceberg A-76 calved from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica and is now floating on the Weddell Sea, the European Space Agency said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/worlds-largest-iceberg-3-times-the-size-of-delhi-breaks-off-in-antarctica-101621497626358.html  (20 May 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

Study COVID-19 lockdown slows snowmelt in Indus River Basin Extensive emissions from various sources, including industries, vehicles and crop residual burning in the region, have been polluting the basin for years. But during the lockdown, the concentration of dust and soot on the snow and ice surface decreased by 30 percent in 2020, the lowest in the last 20 years, said a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday (April 27).

“Around 6.6 cubic kms of ice and snow were prevented from melting, which is equivalent to the largest reservoir in California,” Edward Bair, lead author of the study from the University of California, told CGTN. These pollutants accelerate the snowmelt rate and contaminate the Indus River, which originates from the Himalayas and provides water to more than 300 million people in India and Pakistan. https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-04-27/COVID-19-lockdown-slows-snowmelt-in-Indus-River-Basin-ZMeZAGxM4M/index.html  (27 April 2021)

Nepal Earthquake of magnitude 5.3 strikes An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter Scale struck Nepal on Wednesday morning (May 19) as per the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC). The quake took place around 5:30 am (Nepal time), 113 km North-West of the capital Kathmandu. “The epicenter of the earthquake lies at Bhulbhule of Lamjung District, where it occurred around 5:42 NPT. It has been recorded at 5.8 magnitude,” Dr. Lok Bijay Adhikari, Chief Seismologist at National Earthquake Monitoring & Research Centre said. https://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-breaking-earthquake-of-magnitude-53-strikes-nepal-east-of-pokhran-nepal-eathquake-today-2890950  (19 May 2021)

Afghanistan Heavy flooding kills at least 37 people Heavy rains brought severe flooding to nine provinces around Afghanistan in recent days, killing at least 37 people, some of them children, officials said on Tuesday (May 4). According to the local government, at least 12 people were killed as heavy rains and flash floods hit parts of western province of Herat that began Sunday (May 2).

In Western Ghor province at least 10 people, including six children, were killed by floodwaters that flowed from area mountains. The spokesman for Afghanistan’s natural disaster ministry, Tamim Azimi, said over 405 families were displaced in different provinces around the country. The flooding is said to have come from overflowing rivers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxOR4PwLFBo  (06 May 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Rerouting the Mississippi River could build new land—and save a retreating coast In a swamp at the edge of Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, plastic-capped GPS antennas sprout like oversize mushrooms from four small wooden platforms. The gear, which helps scientists monitor changes in the surrounding marsh, is easy to miss in this expanse of water and swampland the size of Delaware. But it represents something even bigger: the beginnings of a grand ecosystem engineering experiment that has been 50 years in the making and could ultimately cost some $50 billion.

– If all goes as planned, 2 years from now engineers will punch a massive hole in a nearby levee that holds back the Mississippi River. A 3.5-kilometer-long canal will carry sand and muck from the muddy river into the bay, helping rebuild vast wetlands eroded by sinking land and rising seas. Over 5 decades, researchers forecast that the project—formally known as the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion—could move enough sediment to bury the island of Manhattan under 3 meters of muck and create at least 54 square kilometers of new wetlands. The diversion, expected to cost $2 billion, is a critical part of a much larger effort aimed at preventing coastal Louisiana, and the human and wild communities it supports, from slipping beneath the sea. Such a project has not been undertaken anywhere ever.

– But it is not universally loved. Fishers who make their living pulling oysters and shrimp from nearby waters fear the influx of freshwater could harm their livelihoods. Local officials are questioning the cost. And some scientists are skeptical it will achieve the desired results, given the complexity of trying to tinker with one of the world’s largest and most dynamic rivers.

– Törnqvist agrees, even though he concluded in a 2020 study published in Science Advances that efforts to save the Louisiana coast are probably doomed in the very long run if seas continue to rise. The mid-Barataria diversion and similar projects, he says, will be worth the cost if they buy time for vulnerable cities in the delta, including New Orleans, to adapt to climate change. “A few more decades can make the difference in the long run,” he says, “between managed retreat and complete chaos.” https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/04/rerouting-mississippi-river-could-build-new-land-and-save-retreating-coast  (22 April 2021)

Mid-Michigan dam failures: Looking back one year later Exactly one year ago, many in Mid-Michigan had their lives changed forever when dams failed and brought catastrophic floodwaters, causing millions of dollars worth of damage. Heavy rains beginning on May 17 inundated the Tittabawassee River watershed with 5 to 8 inches of rain in two days. Water from the 200-year rainfall event in Gladwin and Arenac counties rushed south toward the Edenville Dam near the Gladwin-Midland county line.

– Around 5:45 p.m. on May 19, 2020, the Edenville Dam failed and allowed the contents of Wixom Lake to rush downstream toward the Sanford Dam, which quickly was inundated and failed hours later. More than 10,000 people were evacuated that evening as floodwaters rose to record levels. The Tittabawassee River crested at its highest level in recorded history the next day before floodwaters eased. https://www.abc12.com/2021/05/19/dam-failures-one-year-later/  (19 May 2021)

Residents concerned after Green Lake Dam collapse Lisa and John Parker live near the dam and said it’s concerning and stressful that the the dam collapse has caused erosion on their property. They said the dam has been slowly deteriorating for about four years, especially after Hurricane Harvey. The couple is worried that if there is more erosion on their property, the erosion could potentially cause their house to collapse as well. https://www.kristv.com/news/local-news/residents-concerned-after-green-lake-dam-collapse  (21 May 2021)

Brazil As Brazil runs out of water, world could lose out on coffee Brazil, the world’s biggest exporter of coffee, sugar and orange juice, just had a rainy season that brought hardly any rain. Soils are parched and river levels are low in the nation’s Center-South region, a powerhouse of agricultural output. The drought is so severe that farmers are worried they’ll run out of the water reserves that help keep crops alive over the next several months, the country’s dry season. https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/5/18/bbas-brazil-runs-out-of-water-world-could-lose-out-on-coffee  (18 May 2021) And yet, Brazil is creating the world’s largest hydrogen plant! https://www.smart-energy.com/renewable-energy/brazil-to-host-worlds-largest-green-hydrogen-plant/  (23 March 2021)

Australia Dam engineers weren’t bound by rain forecasts ahead of Brisbane flood crisis, court told Engineers weren’t obliged to start releasing water from rising dams based on rain forecasts in the days before Brisbane’s 2011 flood crisis unfolded, a court has been told. Two Queensland water authorities are appealing against a landmark 2019 judgment that a group of their flood engineers failed in their duties and triggered millions of dollars in damage in January 2011. NSW Supreme Court Justice Robert Beech-Jones ruled four engineers were negligent by not releasing water from the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams in the lead-up to a large release on January 11, resulting in the inundation of 23,000 properties in the state’s southeast. Earlier in the hearing, Seqwater’s lead barrister Jeremy Stoljar SC said it was “far-fetched and fanciful” to say the engineers knew if they didn’t start to release water on that date the Brisbane River would overtop its banks just days later. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/breaking-news/dam-engineers-werent-bound-by-rain-forecasts-ahead-of-brisbane-flood-crisis-court-told/news-story/ebe5637bb9e4f7dd5ea476abc35f5ac9  (18 May 2021)

Research Trillions of litres of water released into Murray-Darling fails to help threatened species In a damning assessment of the monitoring of eight threatened species, the research from Australian National University scientists says the public reporting of the benefits of environmental watering was fragmentary and not backed by evidence. A “major rethink” of the way water was released for the environment through the $13bn basin plan was now needed, the research said. Since 2007, some 19,800 gigalitres of environmental water had been released into the Murray-Darling Basin – the equivalent of almost 40 Sydney Harbours of water.

Research at the university’s Fenner School of Environment and Society looked at eight species listed nationally as threatened: two frogs, two waterbirds and four fish. After reviewing all available data on the location and number of the species, the analysis published in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research found “no overall beneficial effect in terms of population increase of threatened species from environmental watering under the Basin Plan”.

Prof Jamie Pittock, a co-author of the research, told Guardian Australia: “Our overall finding is that there is no evidence of any improvement after reallocating about 2,000 billion litres of water and spending those billions of dollars.” He said they found there was no monitoring at all of the threatened species in one-quarter of all the places where water was released. Some environmental watering had undoubtedly benefited some species, but the evidence for this was scarce, the report said. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/21/trillions-of-litres-of-water-released-into-murray-darling-fails-to-help-threatened-species-research-finds  (21 May 2021)

GERD Ethiopia set to start generating power from Blue Nile dam Ethiopia plans to begin generating power from its controversial Blue Nile River dam during the upcoming rainy season between June and August, the foreign ministry announced Thursday, May 20 2021. The $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is expected to collect 13.5 billion cubic meters of the Blue Nile River water in the rainy season, swelling its reservoir to 18.4 billion cubic meters, the ministry statement said. The dam is now 80% complete and is expected to reach full generating capacity in 2023, making it Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant and the world’s seventh-largest.

– “Ethiopia will not tolerate any move that’s aimed at disrupting the water filling process, its operation and water releasing scheme,” the ministry stated. Ethiopia welcomed a recent report that Egypt does not object to the plans to continue filling the dam this year. Egyptian officials have said they can deal with shortages that may be caused by the water filling process, according to foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country can “deal with the second filling of the Renaissance Dam through tight procedures in managing water resources,” according to reports on Wednesday in Egypt’s media.  https://apnews.com/article/ethiopia-africa-middle-east-business-e3ac3440da1ebb71c1d239132647086c    (20 May 2021)

Georgia Hydropower project stirs environmental controversy A hydropower project on one of Georgia’s largest rivers has sparked the biggest environmental movement in the country in years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT7YFcV8WmY  (23 May 2021)

Study Just 20 firms behind more than half of single-use plastic waste That’s the conclusion of analysis of the corporate network behind plastic production. The study looked at approximately 1,000 factories that make the raw materials needed for single-use products. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-57149741  (18 May 2021) 

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 17 May 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 10 May 2021

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

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