DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 12 July 2021: Will Bhupender Yadav improve India’s Environment Governance?

It’s rather rare when some of the most well-known environmentalists of India, including Ritwick Dutta and Manoj Misra welcome the arrival of Bhupender Yadav as India’s new Environment Minister. The state of the environment governance under the outgoing minister, Prakash Javadekar has worsened so much, both in perception and substance, that possibly any change would look better. In fact Javadekar may be front runner for the label of India’s worst ever environment minister according to some analysts.

The environment appraisals, the constitution of committees including the various Expert Appraisal Committees, the Forest Advisory Committee and the Standing committee of National Board of Wildlife, the public hearings and consultation processes, the state of pollution and rivers, biodiversity, wetlands, floodplains, sand mining, to name just a few areas, were all seen going downhill on a steep slope during the Javadeker period. The monitoring and compliance remained non existent. Some would argue that was it much different before Javadekar. The point is Javadekar had no pretentions of trying to improve the environment governance. He was out to dilute every available norm and he seemed to have succeded significantly.

Even if Yadav were to genuinely wish to improve matters, how much will he be allowed to do, by the perceived imperatives of the economic fundamentalist agenda, the well-entrenched vested interests and the bureaucracy is a question that only time will tell, but there is little doubt that a lot can and needs to be done rather urgently and none of these perceived obstacles should come in the way if there is will. The climate change is making the improvement in environmental governance rather urgent.

Yadav is known to understand what affects people, possibly apparent from the successful electoral track record he boosts of. He then should know that environment degradation very adversely and immediately and directly affects the vast poorer sections of the society.

Greens welcomed appointment “This is a very welcome move and the important thing is that there is a change in the person heading the ministry,” said Manoj Mishra, the founder of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, a non-profit organisation working on water and river related issues in the country.

Ritwick Dutta, who has helmed high-profile public interest litigation in the Supreme Court, including the challenge to Madhya Pradesh’s Ken-Betwa river linking project, said: “You can’t have a more thorough person in the environment ministry.”

Dutta described Yadav as down to earth and empathetic. He pointed out the vast array of environmental matters that Yadav had engaged with, from compensatory afforestation to wetland development, genetically modified crops, and amendments made to India’s mining law. https://scroll.in/article/999676/why-indias-new-environment-minister-is-sparking-some-cheer  (08 July 2021)

Also see A to do list for new environment minister. https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/a-to-do-list-for-the-new-environment-minister  (10 July 2021)  

New minister may help perform balancing act The environment ministry has been facing public backlash on various controversial decisions in the past few years during Prakash Javadekar’s tenure. The draft environment impact assessment (EIA) notification published on March 23, 2020, has been in the eye of a storm because of widespread opposition to certain clauses which can weaken the process of environmental appraisal of industries and infrastructure projects.

Large infrastructure projects, such as townships planned in the fragile Andaman and Nicobar Islands; the Char Dham road project through Himalayas in Uttarakhand; hydropower projects in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh’s Dibang Valley; mining in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Arand forests are presently being considered by the ministry.

The ministry has also started amending almost all environmental legislations to ensure they meet current requirements according to officials. The ministry’s wildlife division has prepared a Cabinet note to amend the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 which is yet to be cleared by the Cabinet; a similar note on the amendment to Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 has also been finalised after circulating it internally among ministries.

Recently, the ministry has called for expression of interest from consulting agencies, firms, and joint venture consortiums to prepare a new draft amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927. A private law firm is preparing a draft environmental management act which will subsume the Air Act 1981, Water Act 1974, and the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and serve as an overarching law particularly for all infrastructure and industry projects. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/env-minister-bhupender-yadav-s-law-expertise-may-help-perform-a-balancing-act-101625746045333.html  (08 July 2021)

MoEF Pay fine and get green nod despite violations In a kind of ‘paid amnesty scheme’ for violators of environmental laws, the Union Environment Ministry has come up with a set of standard operating procedures (SoPs), laying down penalty provisions for violations and giving post facto approvals. Environmentalists reckoned that with these directions, the ministry has normalised environmental violations and institutionalised the regularisation of violations.

The direction issued on July 7, shows that for projects where operations has not commenced, project proponents will be charged 1 per cent of total cost of the project incurred up to the date of filing of application along with EIA report and 1 per cent of total project cost, plus 0.25 per cent of total turnover during the period of violation. Similar fines have been imposed for expansion of projects where work started without prior approval.

Kanchi Kohli, Senior Researcher, CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program, said this was strongly opposed when the draft EIA 2020 was introduced for public comments, when the country was dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, finalisation of which is still pending. “Such a grant of post facto approvals has also been determined illegal by judgments of the Supreme Court. However, the office memorandum has signaled that the non-adherence with environmental clearances does not need to be a deterrence so long as fines can be paid and post facto approvals can be negotiated,” she said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/jul/10/pay-fine-for-violating-environmental-laws-and-get-green-nod-despite-violations-2328078.html  (10 July 2021)

MoEF directs EAC not to seek ‘unnecessary’ details  The ministry has issued an order, saying during the review meetings for streamlining the Environment Clearance (EC) process, it has come to notice that many EACs are prescribing EC conditions, which are not measurable or monitorable. “In this regard, the member secretaries of the EACs are requested to avoid prescribing ambiguous EC conditions and to ensure that all the conditions that are prescribed are specific to the project and are measurable and can be monitored,” it said.  The ministry had in March and May this year issued two orders for streamlining the essential details sought (EDS), additional details sought (ADS) and prescription of specific environmental clearances conditions by ECCs.

“During review of the pendency at division level, it has come to notice that some sectors are seeking unnecessary and unreasonable details in the form of EDS during Terms of Reference/Environment Clearance which are neither required or mandated as per existing rule position/guidelines/OMs, resulting into undue delay in EC process,” said the ministry’s later order. It further said that this has been viewed very seriously and all member secretaries are hereby directed to maintain consistency in examination of the proposal and raising EDS. “No such EDS shall be raised which is neither relevant for the purpose of appraisal of the project nor required as per TOR/existing rule position.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/jul/10/environment-ministry-directs-expert-appraisal-committees-not-to-seek-unnecessary-details-2328080.html  (10 July 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Meghalaya JAC reiterates opposition to Umngot project The Project has hit a major stumbling block after a conglomeration of pressure groups and traditional heads demanded scrapping of the project while asserting that they would not entertain any discussion on the issue.

Speaking to media persons after a meeting of the Joint Action Committee against Umngot Hydro Electric Project here on Monday, Jaintia Students’ Union general secretary Treibor R Suchen said they would meet the Chief Minister in this regard. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/07/06/jac-reiterates-opposition-to-umngot-project/  (06 July 2021)

Uttarakhand SJVNL completes Natwar Mori HEP tunnel excavation work On Tuesday (July 6), SJVN Limited said that it has completed the work of excavation for 4.3 km long head race tunnel of 60 MW Naitwar Mori Hydro Electric Project. The last blast was triggered by Nand Lal Sharma, Chairman and MD of SJVNL to mark the completion of the heading excavation of the Head Race Tunnel. https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/naitwar-mori-hydro-power-sjvnl-completes-tunnel-excavation-work-of-the-project-details/2285575/  (07 July 2021)

DAMS

Mekedatu Dam Dispute CM Stalin convenes all-party meet on July 12 The meeting has been convened at 10.30 a.m. on July 12 at the Namakkal Kavignar Maligai at the State Secretariat to reflect the views of all the people of the State, and hold consultations on the issue of Karnataka’s proposal to construct a dam at Mekedatu which has been vehemently opposed by the Tamil Nadu government, a press release said.

The Tamil Nadu government said that it has been taking legal steps to stop Karnataka from constructing a dam across the Cauvery river at Mekedatu and that CM M.K. Stalin had put forth Tamil Nadu’s stance on the matter insisting that the rights and interests of the farmers of Tamil Nadu be protected, during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/mekedatu-issue-tamil-nadu-cm-stalin-convenes-all-party-meet-on-july-12/article35230875.ece  (09 July 2021) 

CM to hold meeting to have final call Karnataka home minister Basavaraj Bommai told media persons on Wednesday (July 7) that the CM has called a meeting of the legal and technical experts along with the water resources department officials and to immediately finalise a road map for the commencement of work to the Makedatu dam project. Bommai said that the next meeting to be held by the CM with the legal and technical experts will take a final call on that.

On Monday (July 5), Tamil Nadu water resources minister and senior DMK leader S. Durai Murugan had a detailed meeting with Union Jal Shakti Minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and apprised him of the situation arising out of the Mekedatu dam project in Tamil Nadu. Duraimurugan after emerging from the meeting told media persons that the union minister had assured him that no construction would take place in the Mekedatu dam without the consent and knowledge of Tamil Nadu.

Political observers are worried whether this issue would go forward as one of major confrontation if both the sides stick to their respective antagonistic positions over the Makedatu dam project. C. Rajeev, Director of Centre for Policy and Development Studies, a think tank based out of Chennai, while speaking to IANS said, “The CWMA must immediately intervene in the matter and rope in experts from both sides under the supervision of the Supreme Court and bring about an amicable solution at the drawing-room and not allow the issue to go to streets ….” https://www.dtnext.in/News/TopNews/2021/07/08133506/1305557/Mekedatu-dam-project-turning-into-big-issue-between-.vpf  (08 July 2021)

Will stop Karnataka from going ahead: Minister In a press meet Durai Murugan assured that the Tamil Nadu government would prevent Karnataka from constructing the Mekedatu reservoir. He recalled the letter of CM MK Stalin, who wrote to Yediyurappa that Karnataka should drop the Mekedatu project since it would affect the farmers of Tamil Nadu who cultivate Samba and Kuruvai crops over lakhs of acres depending on Cauvery water.

He further assured that to protect the interests of Tamil Nadu farmers, the government will vehemently oppose any attempt of the Karnataka government to construct a reservoir at Mekedatu or at any other place and will take legal efforts to stop it. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/jul/08/mekedatu-durai-murugan-reassures-tn-vows-to-prevent-karnataka-from-constructing-dam-2327063.html  (08 July 2021)

BSY asks officials to prepare action plan Karnataka Home, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Basavaraj Bommai Wednesday (July 7) told the media that the CM has directed officials to prepare an action plan and that he will be holding a meeting with legal and technical experts in the department this week, to discuss measures required to be taken for implementing the project.

Bommai said only a miscellaneous application is pending in the Supreme Court and all legal and technical issues related to the project will be discussed during the meeting by the CM. Terming it an important project in the Cauvery water management, the minister said it will play a key role in water distribution in distress years. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2021/jul/08/bsy-asks-officials-to-prepare-action-plan-for-mekedatu-while-neighbouring-tn-objects-2327120.html  (08 July 2021)

Karnataka will fight out Mekedatu project legally: Minister Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Monday (July 5) that the state government will continue to fight for the implementation of the proposed Mekedatu balancing reservoir project across the Cauvery river in Ramanagara district legally.

The minister’s remarks assume significance after Tamil Nadu responded negatively to Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa, who had on Saturday (July 3) written a letter to his counterpart M.K. Stalin, urging him not to oppose the Mekedatu project “in the right spirit” besides offering to hold a bilateral meeting to address any issues. On June 18, Stalin had opposed the project when Yediyurappa had tweeted that the state is gearing up to start work on the Mekedatu project. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/karnataka-will-fight-out-mekedatu-project-legally-minister-basavaraj-bommai-151818  (06 July 2021)

Will Implement Project: CM Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa asserted on Tuesday (July 6). “Things are favourable for us in this regard, there is no question of halting it for any reasons. We will implement the Mekedatu project within the legal framework and complete it, no one can stop it,” Mr Yediyurappa said in response to a question.

Mr Yediyurappa had on Saturday (July 3) written to his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin urging him not to oppose the Mekedatu project in the right spirit and offered to hold a bilateral meeting to address any issues. In response, Stalin on Sunday (July 4) urged Mr Yediyurappa not to pursue the Mekedatu project, as he rejected Karnataka’s stand that implementation of the project would not affect the interests of Tamil Nadu farmers. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/karnataka-will-implement-mekedatu-dam-project-across-river-cauvery-bs-yediyurappa-2480384  (06 July 2021)

Reasons behind dispute Encouraged by the Feb. 2018 Supreme Court verdict, Karnataka, which sees the order as an endorsement of its stand, has set out to pursue the Mekedatu project. Originally proposed as a hydropower project, the revised Mekedatu dam project has more than one purpose to serve. Estimated to cost ₹9,000 crore, the project envisages the construction of a reservoir of 67.16-tmc ft capacity, which will come up about 4 km away from the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. A hydropower plant of nearly 400 MW has also been proposed.

Tamil Nadu feels that Karnataka, through the project, will impound and divert flows from “uncontrolled catchments” to it, a component which was taken into account by the Tribunal in the 2007 order while arriving at the water allocation plan for the State. Tamil Nadu’s petitions against the project are pending with the Supreme Court. The project is yet to get environmental clearance from the Centre. A way out can be found if the two parties agree to the idea of a joint execution, operation and maintenance of the project or a third party’s participation. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/explained-why-are-karnataka-and-tamil-nadu-sparring-over-the-mekedatu-dam-project-in-the-cauvery-basin/article35257883.ece  (11 July 2021)

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Sources say even technical experts in Tamil Nadu agree with Karnataka’s contention, but it has now become more of a political and emotive issue and the government there is concerned about its impact on farmers depending on surplus water for cultivation. The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal does not bar Karnataka from taking up the project as long as it honours the release of 192 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu. The release of water is spread over the entire year, with the monthly releases in a normal year.

In fact, the Mekedatu hydroelectric project is not a new one, as Karnataka conceived it way back in the 1970s. However, when the state started planning the project in 2008, Tamil Nadu filed an application before the Supreme Court. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2021/jul/11/damned-again-karnataka-tn-slug-it-out-over-mekedatu-project-2328528.html  (11 July 2021)

Polavaram Project SC to study Odisha’s plea against NGT order  The Supreme Court on Thursday (July 8) decided to examine an Odisha government appeal against a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of September last accepting the recommendations of a committee on a range of issues concerning the Polavaram project, including the submergence and displacement of families across Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.

A Bench led by Justice S. Abdul Nazeer said the court “has to examine” the Odisha petition, which said the NGT had no jurisdiction to go into these issues as they were already pending before the apex court. Besides, Odisha said, it was not issued notice, heard nor even made party in the case before the NGT, which accepted all but one of the committee’s recommendations and directed the States to comply. In fact, the NGT had directed the Project Authority and the States of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana and the Central Water Commission to act on the various recommendations of the committee. It had asked the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to hold a joint meeting and coordinate with the States. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/polavaram-project-sc-to-study-odishas-plea-against-ngt-order/article35208617.ece  (08 July 2021)

Breach in Godavari bund A breach occurred to Godavari bund upstream Polavaram Dam near here, creating panic among the villagers. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/breach-in-godavari-bund-upstream-polavaram-dam/article35166317.ece  (06 July 2021)

Telangana Notification issued for public hearing on Palamuru Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme to get env clearance, Telangana to draw from Krishna river 90 tmcft flood water in 60 days to irrigate 12.3 lakh acres in 5 dists. PRLS to cost Rs 32,500 cr. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/jul/11/notification-issued-for-public-hearing-on-telanganas-palamuru-rangareddy-lift-irrigation-scheme-2328425.html  (12 July 2021)

Karnataka DRIP leaflet on Almatti dam repairing. https://sway.office.com/sWRJU2KqgDDvqVd6 

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa Link  केंद्र ने दरकिनार की थी सुप्रीम कोर्ट समिति की दुष्प्रभाव बताने वाली रिपोर्ट  यह रिपोर्ट केन-बेतवा नदी जोड़ो परियोजना पर छह लेखों की शृंखला का पहला भाग है. https://thewirehindi.com/176661/modi-government-ignored-supreme-court-committee-report-on-ken-betwa-link-project/  (12 July 2021)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Krishna Water Dispute Andhra to launch a campaign over water issue The State government and the YSR Congress Party have decided to launch a campaign and step up pressure on Telangana over the drawal of water from Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala reservoirs.

A virtual meeting held by Minister for Irrigation Anil Kumar Yadav and Adviser, Public Affairs, Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, attended by MPs and MLAs, set the tone for an intense campaign which would voice the anguish of the lower riparian State of Andhra Pradesh.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/ap-to-launch-a-campaign-over-water-issue/article35259347.ece  (11 July 2021)

Telangana stops power generation at Nagarjunasagar dam Telangana government finally stopped hydel power generation at Nagarjunasagar on its own on Saturday (July 10). It had earlier directed TS Genco to generate hydel power at all projects over the Krishna up to 100 per cent of installed capacity. Hydel generation continues at the Jurala, Srisailam and Pulichantala projects.

Though no reasons were cited officially for this, it is learnt that the decision was taken to ease tension with AP over Krishna water sharing after the KRMB agreed to cancel the three-member meeting on July 9 and instead hold a full-body meeting after July 20 as demanded by the Telangana government. It is learnt that the KRMB has decided to hold full-body meeting on July 24 to resolve Krishna water dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/100721/telangana-mellows-on-water-row-stops-power-generation-at-nagarjunasag.html  (11 July 2021)

Telangana asks KRMB to convene full board meet Telangana Special Chief Secretary for Irrigation Rajat Kumar requested the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) to convene a full Board meeting on a mutually convenient date after July 20. The Special Chief Secretary wrote a letter on Monday (July 5), in the wake of KRMB’s decision to convene a three-member committee meeting on July 9.

“It is surprising to note that the member-secretary has only mentioned the issues raised by Andhra Pradesh in the agenda for the three-member committee meeting scheduled on July 9. The agenda failed to mention several critical issues raised by Telangana,” said Rajat Kumar, and informed the KRMB Chairman the points to be discussed in the Board meeting: Revision of the water sharing ratio of Krishna waters for the current water year, steps to stop construction of illegal Rayalaseema LIS and RDS right canal by AP immediately, steps to stop excess diversion by AP from Pothireddypadu head regulator and other projects, to outside the basin.

He also wrote about granting of additional share of 45 tmc-ft to Telangana in Krishna waters subsequent to the clearance of Polavaram project by CWC as per the terms of the Bachawat Tribunal, reckoning 20 per cent of total water drawn as usage towards drinking water supply, and appropriate accounting of the savings by Telangana out of the water releases ordered by KRMB. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/jul/06/water-row-ts-asks-krmb-to-convene-full-board-meet-2326014.html  (06 July 2021)

RLIS: Telangana moves NGT, seeks action against Andhra Telangana government has approached the NGT, asking it to restrain Andhra Pradesh from executing the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS) and to seek action against it for contempt. The government filed a petition in the NGT praying for orders to stop the work on the project and action for willful violation of the NGT’s judgment dated October 29, 2020. It requested the NGT to hold a physical inspection in view of the ‘aggravated form of contempt’.

“Restrain the state of Andhra Pradesh from executing Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme without the prior environmental clearance approvals from the Union Environment Ministry and Union Jal Shakti Ministry and Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) as per Section 84 of AP Reorganisation Act, 2014,” reads the petition.

Telangana also sought action against SPML Infra Ltd, the agency executing the actual work. The Union Environment and Forest Ministry, Union Jal Shakti Ministry, the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, the KRMB, and the agency executing the work have been made respondents. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/rayalaseema-lift-irrigation-scheme-telangana-moves-ngt-seeks-action-against-andhra-151808  (06 July 2021)

Telangana tells MoEF to be careful on EC for RLIP Making a strong pitch against granting environmental clearance (EC) for Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Project (RLIP) by the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), the Telangana government requested the EAC to carefully consider the legal, hydrological and environmental issues mentioned while considering granting clearance during its meeting scheduled to be held on July 7. Special chief secretary of irrigation department Rajat Kumar, in a letter to member-secretary of EAC on Monday, said the RLIP is an ‘illegal project’ and did not have water allocation or the Central Water Commission’s (CWC) approval. On earlier occasions, EAC has not accorded EC for want of water allocation by CWC. In the case of Telangana, in the 19th EAC which was held on October 26, 2018, the committee had deferred the approval of Sitarama Lift Irrigaiton Project (phase I) on the same reasons,” Kumar said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/t-tells-moef-to-be-careful-on-green-clearance-for-rlip/articleshow/84155915.cms  (06 July 2021)

Plea seeks suspension of TS GENCO’s hydel power production Two farmers from Krishna district Andhra Pradesh in have filed a writ petition before the Telangana High Court seeking suspension of a government order directing TS Generation Corporation (TS Genco) to produce hydel power to 100 per cent of installed capacity.

The petitioners contended that the order, GO Rt. No. 34 of the energy (Power-II) department dated 28-6-2021, would affect their right to eke out a livelihood adversely, and would cause great loss to the farmers of Andhra Pradesh. The GO was contrary to the Electricity Act, they said.

Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar are common reservoirs between the Telugu states over which the TS government has no exclusive jurisdiction to draw water as per its whims and fancies, they said. The petitioners sought a direction to the TS government to adhere to the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal award and the mutual agreement of June 2015. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/050721/petition-filed-in-high-court-seeking-suspension-of-ts-gencos-hydel-po.html  (05 July 2021)

Tamil Nadu Govt raises interstate water disputes issues with MoJS State water resources minister Duraimurugan who met the Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Tuesday (July 6) along with a delegation of state officials raised several ongoing interstate water disputes.

On Mekedatu: He said the Centre won’t do and can’t do anything (giving approval to the dam) without asking us,” Duraimurugan told reporters in Delhi. Shekhawat is said to have told the delegation that the dam would not be built just because the Karnataka government got the sanction to prepare a DPR. He even pointed out that sanction was accorded to the National Water Development Agency to prepare a DPR to interlink Cauvery and Godavari, but the project was yet to materialise.

On the dam built across Markandeya river by Karnataka:- “…Shekhawat assured that he would order setting up a tribunal,” Duraimurugan said. The state also urged the Centre to tell Karnataka to stop all work in the Pennaiyar basin.

On Cauvery water dispute:- Duraimurugan said the Union minister assured him that a full-time chairman would be appointed for the Cauvery water management authority immediately.

On strengthening baby dam of Mullaperiyar dam:- “When Shekhawat pointed to the Dam Safety Bill, I said they (Kerala) don’t allow us to enter the premises even though the control of the dam is vested with us,” said Duraimurugan and added that for the same reason, Tamil Nadu was opposing the bill.

On Godavari-Cauvery linking project:- Duraimurugan said the state requested Centre’s financial support to execute the Cauvery-Gundar interlinking project in TN since the state was implementing a portion of a national scheme. The Union minister assured to consider the state’s demand, said Duraimurugan.

On Tamirabarani-Karumeniyar-Nambiyar interlinking:- The state also requested funding for the interlinking project for an eligible central share of Rs 487 crore. The state requested the Centre to release the pending dues of Rs 44.48 crore towards central share for repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/centre-said-no-nod-for-mekedatu-dam-without-asking-tn-minister/articleshow/84186410.cms  (07 July 2021)

IRRIGATION

States leading in micro-irrigation reap benefits from new scheme Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have reaped maximum benefits from the Centrally-sponsored Scheme of Per Drop More Crop component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC). Out of 53.73 lakh hectares covered under the micro-irrigation under this scheme, Karnataka has covered 10,92,874 hectares that is 20 per cent of the total micro-irrigation under the scheme while Tamil Nadu has covered 8,06,966 hectares (15 per cent of the total).

Gujarat (14 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (14 per cent) and Maharashtra (11 per cent) are the other three States which have benefited from the scheme. Interestingly, these top five States have already achieved micro-irrigation of 38-70 per cent. States like Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, which have less than 10 per cent micro-irrigation, have not shown much enthusiasm for the scheme. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/data-stories/data-focus/states-leading-in-micro-irrigation-reap-benefits-from-new-scheme/article35219765.ece  (09 July 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Cities along rivers urged to include conservation plans The recommendations are currently for towns that are on the main stem of the river Ganga. There are, as per the estimate of the policy document, 97 of them encompassing 5 States — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal.

Cities with an ongoing Master Plan tenure, ought to be conducting an “immediate analysis” of the extent to which these the river guidelines could have been adopted and this “will help” in incorporating the appropriate revisions when the current Plan is reviewed. State, town and country planning organisations should identify the river cities which need to adopt these guidelines. The Planning and Development Authorities of these cities should initiate the process of preparing a river-centric Master Plan using this guidance note as a reference, the document notes. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cities-along-rivers-urged-to-include-conservation-plans/article35149029.ece  (05 July 2021)

Mula-Mutha; Pune Clear construction debris from river: HC The Bombay high court on Friday (July 9) took to task Pune municipal authorities over the latter’s failure to stop the dumping of construction debris into Mula Mutha river. A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni asked the district collector and the civic body to immediately clear the river of such debris, and said it will personally visit Pune to check if it had been been removed. The bench was hearing a PIL filed by one Sarang Yadwadkar through advocate Ronita Bector.

The petitioner had submitted photos to show that debris from the construction of the Pune metro rail project was being dumped into the river in breach of environmental norms. The Pune municipal corporation (PMC) initially denied that debris was being dumped as alleged in the PIL. The HC, however, directed the PMC’s counsel Abhijit Kulkarni to ask the civic officials to visit the site and submit photographs. While the authorities submitted a few photographs showing a portion of the river mainly covered by water hyacinth, the petitioner took fresh photograghs of the site, which showed that construction debris had indeed been dumped into the water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/clear-construction-debris-from-river-will-come-to-check-it-bombay-hc-to-pune-officials/articleshow/84266734.cms  (09 July 2021)

Over 60 freshwater invertebrate species identified Researchers have identified 64 species of freshwater invertebrate organisms along Mutha river at Vitthalwadi and 70 species at Mula-Ram confluence. The study has been conducted by Biologia Life Science, Pune-based NGO Jeevitnadi Living River Foundation, and Modern College of Arts, Commerce and Science. The group collected samples from rock pools and wetlands found along these river banks during their field study between November 2020 and January 2021. The group now plans to expand the study during the ongoing monsoon this year.

Despite high levels of pollution and rampant sand mining at these sites along with threat to habitat destruction, researchers argue that the one-kilometre stretch each of Mutha river at Vitthalwadi and Mula-Ram confluence near Aundh-Baner Link Road, have rich biodiversity. The foundation has adopted these stretches, where it conducts weekly cleaning activities along with local residents.

With the PMC now speeding up river front development and beautification plans along these rivers, researchers said there was a need to undertake dedicated field studies, which will not only help document all life forms but also act as a guide while planning conservation. They added that any disturbance to natural habitat will wipe out the existence of even smaller living organisms from the region. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/over-60-freshwater-invertebrate-species-identified-in-mula-mutha-rivers-7392145/  (07 July 2021)

Kosasthalaiyar; Chennai All that ails drainage project The most contentious issue is that the Rs 2,470-crore project undertaken using a loan from the ADB covers ‘missing link’ of drains, built and linked at Rs 200 crore before the Kosasthalaiyar project tenders were finalized. Now, it includes several drains on the ‘missing link’ stretch which doesn’t require any new construction. Contractors say they are ready to compensate it by building drains for equal length in some other area in the city. Also, spending another Rs 200 crore in sandy parts of Madhavaram where concrete drains are not required because water percolation happens naturally and quickly, too has attracted criticism.

ToI Image

The DPR for the drain network was prepared in 2014-2015, but before it could be tendered, the missing link projects were completed by 2020. A contractor allotted a Rs 16 crore project in the Madhavaram zone told TOI about Rs 4 crore worth drain construction was completed under the missing link drain. “I paid earnest money deposit and now I do not know what to do.”

A retired PWD official said there were several floodprone areas in the 128 sq km basin that has eight major lakes and 71 minor tanks. “But the civic body lacks technical expertise. Most times, it doesn’t check gradients and most canals and drains constructed even in 2018 do not carry the water to the river,” he said, citing Ambattur surplus channel as an example. Unless the designs are studied and it is ensured that gradients are right, these drains will only carry sewage as Metrowater hasn’t completed the underground sewerage system, he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-all-that-ails-kosasthalaiyar-drainage-project/articleshow/84191520.cms  (07 July 2021)

Musi, Hyderabad 14 dams, 15 bridges to come up across river The state government in coordination with Hyderabad Road Development Corporation Limited and irrigation department has decided to construct 14 check dams on the Musi River, replicating the one on the Himayatsagar. The idea is to maintain water levels at sufficient levels so as to create boating facilities at 14 locations, all of which ought to be clean.

During a meeting chaired by CM K. Chandrashekar Rao, instructions also given to the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) to lay emphasis on the construction of the 14 dams and ensure that the water would be stench-free given that the spots have the potential to attract tourists. Officials were told that the state government would rope in bankers, financers and agencies to undertake construction of the project.

Musi riverfront image courtesy social media.

Besides, there is a proposal to construct several bridges across the Musi and the Esa. The idea was first proposed when the government decided to shelve the iconic bridge project near Salar Jung Museum for financial reasons. The government has now decided to construct 15 bridges across the Musi and the Esa, one of which would be the bridge near Salar Jung Museum that can provide space to about 300 hawkers who would be displaced from Charminar. The authorities have also prepared a detailed project report and decided to take up the project at a cost of Rs 231.5 crore.

The government later on asked officials to bring the cost of the pedestrian bridge down to Rs 40 crore and prepare a proposal for another 14 across Musi. A senior official, requesting anonymity, said that the nodal agencies, including HRDCL and HMWS&SB, have taken appointments with the irrigation department’s chief engineers to work out the modalities. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/100721/14-dams-boating-facilities-to-come-up-across-musi.html  (11 July 2021)

RIVERS

‘Mahanadi’: novel is now in English An excerpt from ‘Mahanadi: The Tale of a River’, by Anita Agnihotri, translated from the Bengali by Nivedia Sen. https://scroll.in/article/999573/mahanadi-anita-agnihotris-epic-bengali-novel-following-the-course-of-a-river-is-now-in-english  (08 July 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Pharma pollution needs urgent attention The Veterans Forum for Transparency in Public Life (VFTPL), a nonprofit of retired armed forces officers, recently brought to fore the issue of pharmaceutical pollution in the waters of the Sirsa and Sutlej rivers. The effluent released from these pharma hubs is heavily loaded with antibiotic residue that degrades water and soil health and affects human health.

Upon further investigation due to the NGT orders, the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) also confirmed the alarming levels of antibiotic concentration in the river waters. SPCB also noted that the common effluent treatment plant at Baddi could not treat the pharmaceutical effluents despite receiving such effluents since 2016. Barring a couple of responsible ones, all other pharmaceutical companies in the area release up to 200-kilo litres of effluents without any on-site effluent treatment. This also violates the guidelines of the MoEF. https://en.gaonconnection.com/antibiotic-pollution-rivers-microbes-mutation-himachal-pradesh-pharma-companies-national-green-tribunal/  (06 July 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Narmada drying at Amarkantak Very informative report on how deforestation, mining, unabated construction, dredging, concretization work at and around Amarkantak the origin place of Narmada is causing gradual decline of flows in river. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Q5QF08o6Q  (05 July 2021)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh 3 Smart City Awards for Varanasi, But Assi Still Polluted The Assi River, also referred to as Assi ‘nullah’ by many, including the administration of Varanasi, is a very important part of the city. The name Varanasi derives from Varuna and Assi, two rivers that flow through it. For decades, these rivers have been ignored by the administration, so much so that Assi has been turned into a sewage canal.

The river has lost all its character – there is no fresh water source, the banks are illegally occupied, and there are a number of municipal sewage systems connected to the river throughout its 3.5-kilometre stretch. https://www.thequint.com/my-report/india-smart-city-awards-2020-varanasi-polluted-assi-river-ground-report#read-more  (07 July 2021)

वाराणसी में गंगा पार बनी नहर का बालू जस का तस गंगा घाटों के सरंक्षण के लिए समांनांतर बनी नहर के दोनों तरफ से बालू का उठान अब तक शुरू नहीं हुआ है। बालू की उठान बड़ी समस्या बनती जा रही है। जिलाधिकारी ने एक पखवारा पहले ही बालू उठान का निर्देश दिया था, लेकिन इस दिशा में अब तक कार्य शुरू नहीं हुआ। बालू उठान को लेकर कई नीलामी की प्रक्रिया हुई। रिंग रोड फेज दो से जुड़े कांट्रैक्टर भी इसमें शामिल हुए। एक सप्ताह पहले लगभग 2.5 लाख घन मीटर बालू की नीलामी भी फाइनल हो गई थी लेकिन उठान शुरू नहीं हुआ। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi-city-sand-of-canal-built-across-ganges-in-varanasi-remains-same-lifting-could-not-start-21805271.html  (07 July 2021)

No coronavirus in water: BHU, BSIP  The finding bears significance in the backdrop of the fact that BSIP scientists had found coronavirus in the water of river Gomti in the state capital. “A joint team of BHU and BSIP investigated possible presence of coronavirus in the Ganga as many experts had expressed contrasting views after human bodies were found floating in the river during May 2021,” said Prof Gyaneshwar Chaubey of the department of zoology, BHU.

He added, “To investigate possible traces of coronavirus in the Ganga, the team collected two samples every week for seven weeks from Varanasi city beginning May 15 to July 3. The sample collecting point as well as the process to test the sample was the same every time,” said Prof Chaubey. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/no-coronavirus-in-ganga-water-claims-joint-study-by-bhu-bsip/articleshow/84153742.cms  (06 July 2021)

YAMUNA Delhi Debris dumped on floodplain Construction debris was found to be dumped on the Yamuna floodplain near CWG village on Sunday (July 11) in violation of the order of NGT. Delhi Development Authority (DDA) said that the debris is being removed and an FIR has been lodged in the matter. According to an NGT order of 2015, dumping of any kind of waste or construction and demolition debris on Yamuna floodplain is banned. Anyone found violating the order is liable to pay an environmental compensation up to Rs 50,000.

Bhim Singh Rawat, a Yamuna activist and part of SANDRP, who raised the matter on social media said, “Construction debris has been dumped on Yamuna floodplains in violation of NGT order. Those who are involved in the illegal dumping of debris should be booked.” Rawat also shared the images of debris lying on the floodplain. DDA, which is tasked by NGT to remove encroachment from Yamuna floodplain, alleged that some miscreants dumped the debris. “An agency has been working at the project side,” said an official.

In February 2020, the images of construction debris on the Yamuna floodplains under Nizamuddin Bridge appeared on social media. Both CPCB and Yamuna Monitoring Committee (now dissolved) had sought an action taken report in the matter from DDA. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/debris-dumped-on-floodplain-fir-filed/articleshow/84329249.cms  (12 July 2021)

L-G reviews progress of riverfront rejuvenation project LG Anil Baijal reviewed the progress of development work on rejuvenation of Yamuna riverfront on Wednesday (July 7), and asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to complete each phase of the project within the specified timeline “It was advised that provision of eco-friendly amenities and conveniences in the above areas, including zero-waste toilets, drinking water, sit outs, solar lights and signages be made available, so [as] to encourage increased utilisation of these assets and to foster strong ownership of the community,” the L-G tweeted. Baijal has asked DDA to take measures for adequate surveillance. “Advised DDA to take steps for adequate surveillance and security of the area in collaboration with local police to prevent any encroachment/unwarranted activity,” the L-G tweeted.

The DDA is working on rejuvenating and making the Yamuna riverfront accessible to the public by building cycling tracks, walkways, eco-trails in wetlands and a floodplain forest along the 22-km area between Wazirabad Barrage and Okhla Barrage, a senior DDA official said. Under the plan, the DDA will develop close to 1,400 hectares of land on the eastern and western banks of the river. The entire stretch has been divided into 10 projects, of which three — Kalindi Biodiversity, Park Asita East, Asita West — are in advanced stages of construction and will be completed in the next few months, officials familiar with the developments said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/lg-anil-baijal-reviews-progress-of-yamuna-riverfront-rejuvenation-project-101625683822797.html  (08 July 2021)

Work on riverfront without panel’s nod “Not only have encroachments not been removed, but now we are seeing work to build roads by clearing the area. This is a gross violation of the NGT order and it needs to be addressed immediately,” Manoj Mishra, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan told TOI, adding that the violations were flagged to him by a teacher, Raman Khanna, who runs an open-air school for children from Yamuna Khadar.

Professor CR Babu, head of Centre for Management of Degraded Ecosystems, who is a part of the sub-committee and participated in the meeting held by the principal committee in April, said he was shown the video on Sunday (July 4), but he was unaware of any riverfront development work taking place without clearance. Professor AK Gosain from IIT-Delhi, an expert and part of the sub-committee, said inspections were carried out by them along the Yamuna floodplain on Friday (July 2), but this particular area near CWG Village was not checked as it was not a part of the principal committee’s agenda. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/work-on-riverfront-without-panels-nod-raises-eyebrows/articleshow/84124254.cms  (05 July 2021)

Demolition drive leaves many homeless Locals reached out to NGO Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), which says a petition will be filed in Delhi High Court, questioning the eviction without a notice. “This has been done during a pandemic, which is a violation of fundamental rights. People have not been provided rehabilitation elsewhere. These are all rickshaw pullers and people from the lower strata. How will they manage at a time like this?” said Dev Pal, a field researcher with the NGO. When TOI visited the area on Monday (July 5), hundreds of jhuggis lay flattened, with some people still living out in the open. Despite repeated attempts, DDA didn’t respond to queries sent by TOI. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/demolition-drive-on-floodplain-leaves-many-homeless-they-claim-no-notice-given/articleshow/84155112.cms  (06 July 2021)

According to the Draft Master Plan 2041, Yamuna floodplain zone-O shall be characterised into two parts, that is, zone-O and zone-O-ll, where the existing unauthorised colonies will possibly be allowed to exist in the latter division of the floodplain. However, as per the experts, this may put the river ecosystem in peril. https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/article/delhi-yamuna-river-in-vulnerable-state-illicit-farming-construction-taking-a-toll-on-floodplain/778693  (01 June 2021)

Dye units continue to pollute Yamuna While sewage discharged into the river accounts for much of the Yamuna’s pollution, the froth on its surface comes from an entirely different source —illegal jeans dyeing units. These mostly operate without a ‘consent to operate’ certificate or have an effluent treatment plant in place. Water discharged by such units, therefore, is high in ammonia and phosphates compounds, which are not only toxic for aquatic life, but also the cause of the thick foam on the river water.

Following a plea in NGT in 2019, DPCC was asked to act against all illegal jeans dyeing and washing units in the city. Till date, 155 have been issued closure orders after recent detection of these polluting units in the Khayala, Bawana, Narela and the Badli industrial areas to add to those found in the past two years in Sarita Vihar, Mayapuri and Nangli Sakrawat. A DPCC official said that so far, the illegal units, most without effluent treatment plants, had been fined Rs 3.08 crores. More than six units were closed and others served notices. “More closure notices will be served in the next few months,” declared the official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/dye-another-day/articleshow/84251466.cms  (08 July 2021)

CETPs fail to meet norms There are 13 common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) in the city to treat effluents released from 17 industrial areas, but most of them have failed to comply with permissible water quality standards for around two years. DPCC has imposed a total environmental damage compensation of Rs 12.05 crore on a dozen CETPs for not meeting the green parameters. The analysis by the environment department shows that industries in 17 areas are connected to these plants. The 13 CETPs have a total capacity of treating effluent of 212.3 MLD. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/effluent-treatment-plants-fail-to-meet-norms/articleshow/84251506.cms  (09 July 2021)

As per the Delhi CETP Act, 2000, the commissioner of industries is the authority for regulation of CETPs in the national capital. CETP societies, formed for operation and maintenance of CETPs in Delhi, are fully responsible for their operation and maintenance. These are required to adhere to the environmental laws and run the CETPs as per the prescribed environmental laws. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2021/jul/08/yamuna-pollution-rs-12-crore-fine-imposed-on-12-cetps-for-not-meeting-wastewater-standards-2327193.html  (08 July 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Priests ‘ban’ netas’ entry at Yamuna in Mathura Hindu priests in Mathura have put up a huge banner at the ghats of river Yamuna, “banning” the entry of political leaders and officials and any religious ceremonies conducted by them for allegedly failing to keep their promise of cleaning the river. The banner reads: “They all are liars who swear on Yamuna ji… They are only seen when elections are near…These culprits of mother Yamuna and officials are banned from roaming around the Yamuna river and performing puja…”

J J Baba Chaturvedi, a local priest, said, “Several political leaders visit Yamuna ji at the time of elections but disappear after winning polls. But this time we will not let that happen and are making our intentions clear through the banner.” Virendra Chaturvedi, another priest, added, “Political leaders have assured us time and again that Yamuna would be cleared of pollutants but nothing has changed on the ground.” National president of Akhil Bhartiya Teerth Purohit Mahasabha, Mahesh Pathak, also said that the river water was getting worse every day despite the fact that a party which understood the Hindu sentiments attached to the river was ruling the state. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/priests-ban-netas-entry-at-yamuna-in-mathura-say-river-dirty-despite-promises/articleshow/84183560.cms  (07 July 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Threats from red eared turtles Unaware pet owners and weak laws are facilitating the spread of the red-eared slider, an invasive turtle species found in water bodies across India. The exotic, invasive turtle is a threat to the 29 native species of freshwater turtles and tortoises in India. The turtles originated in the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Between 1989 and 1997 farmers and pet traders in the U.S. illegally exported millions of red-eared sliders to different countries around the world, including India. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/06/whats-dangerous-about-these-cute-turtles-which-are-popular-pets-in-india/  (30 June 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Kerala Farmers stare at debt trap Farmers have taken loans and invested Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh to set up tanks; Fries delivered to them are infected or are of poor quality. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/jul/10/biofloc-fish-farming-farmers-stare-at-debt-trap-as-kerala-government-fails-to-deliver-fries-on-time-2328175.html  (10 July 2021)

Karnataka Water pollution killing fish in Bagalkot Last week, hundreds of fish were turning up dead on the banks of river Ghataprabha, a major source of water for the people of Belagavi and Bagalkot. Locals allege toxic industrial waste being let into the river is responsible for the pollution. https://www.deccanherald.com/video/state/karnataka-districts/water-pollution-killing-fish-in-bagalkot-1005410.html  (06 July 2021)

Matsya Setu, an app for the fish farmers On July 6, Giriraj Singh, Union minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, launched a new exclusive app — the Matsya Setu app — which promises to be of great help to all those wanting to become aqua farmers. The Matsya Setu app promises information, awareness and training to fish farmers. Some of India’s best aquaculture experts will share advice, best practices and impart training to fish farmers through this app launched recently by ICAR-CIFA.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research- Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (ICAR-CIFA), based in Bhubaneswar, along with funding support from the National Fisheries and Development Board (NFDB), Hyderabad, has developed this new app which will deliver freshwater aquaculture technologies to aqua farmers in the country.  The scientific methods of fish farming would enhance productivity and income, the minister assured. The app is a part of an NFDB project to impart virtual training to aqua farmers.

The Matsya Setu modules will have video chapters, along with quizzes, tests and options of self-assessment. On completion of each course module, an e-certificate would be generated for the participant. There is also an option in the app, where farmers could get their doubts and questions addressed by experts. Most of the videos are in Hindi and English. There are plans to have them in Odia, Bengali, Marathi, etc. for a wider reach. https://en.gaonconnection.com/matsya-setu-app-fish-farmers-fisheries-giriraj-singh-animal-husbandry/  (08 July 2021)

SAND MINING

India’s deep seabed mining plans Recently, the Indian government cleared a deep ocean mission to explore deep seabed mining and encourage marine biodiversity research. The government aims to develop an integrated seabed mining system for mining polymetallic nodules from 6,000-metre depth in the central Indian Ocean.

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, which is the nodal department for the project, said that they are looking at maintaining a balance between marine ecology and energy security of the country. Environmentalists argue that this quest for deep-sea minerals is without evidence and could damage the marine environment. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/07/indias-deep-seabed-mining-plans-gear-up-for-a-dive/  (02 July 2021)

Uttar Pradesh NGT directs govt to submit report “The Additional Chief Secretary, Mining, UP may furnish report about the compliance status within three months by e-mail. Report may provide the status of DSR and Replenishment studies for Banda district, status of in-stream mining in submerged water and monitoring mechanism in place,” the bench said. The tribunal, however, refused to pass ex parte interim orders in the matter at this stage and listed it for further consideration on November 11, 2021. The NGT directed the applicant to serve a set of papers on the Additional Chief Secretary, Mining, UP.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by UP residents Raj Kumar and Ramkaran against illegal mining in villages Kanwara and Bendakhadar in Banda district by M/s Durge Trading Company and Ashish Kumar Gautam. It was alleged that the mining was being carried out in violation of Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines (SSMMG), 2016 and Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining (EMGSM), 2020 and binding orders of NGT. The plea submitted that no steps are being taken by the State of UP for compliance of directions of this Tribunal. https://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/regulatory/ngt-directs-up-govt-to-submit-report-on-plea-alleging-illegal-sand-mining-in-banda-district/84174475  (06 July 2021)

वाराणसी में गंगा पार बनी नहर का बालू जस का तस ठेकेदारों ने बालू उठान के लिए सबसे बड़ी समस्या रास्ता का न होना बताया था। जिलाधिकारी ने इस बाबत यूपीपीसीएल को रास्ता तत्काल तैयार कराने का निर्देश दिया लेकिन इस दिशा में कोई कदम नहीं बढ़े। उम्मीद जताई जा रही है कि रास्ता ठीक होते ही बालू उठान को लेकर कांट्रैक्टर आगे आएंगे। जिलाधिकारी ने यह भी कहा था कि बालू उठान कर इसकाे कोई एकत्रित करना चाहता है तो इस बाबत भी अस्थाई बालू संग्रह की अनुमति दी जाएगी।

Dainik Jagran image

गंगा घाटों के सरंक्षण के लिए उस पार बनाई जा रही नहर के दोनों तरफ के बालू हटाना बड़ी समस्या बनती जा रही है। बरसात जारी है, बाढ़ की संभावना से भी इंकार नहीं किया जा सकता है। हालांकि अब तक चार बार हुई नीलामी के बाद पांच ठेकेदार बालू उठान को सामने आए हैं। इसमें रिंग रोड फेज दो से जुड़े कांट्रैक्टर भी शामिल हैं। लगभग 2.5 लाख घन मीटर बालू की नीलामी हो चुकी है। कुल छह लाख घन मीटर बालू होने का अनुमान है। इस तरह अभी 3.5 लाख घन मीटर बालू के उठान की नीलामी होनी शेष है। चार बार की नीलामी में मुश्किल से पांच ठेकेदार बालू उठान को तैयार हुए। सरकारी कोई विभाग आगे नहीं आया। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi-city-sand-of-canal-built-across-ganges-in-varanasi-remains-same-lifting-could-not-start-21805271.html  (07 July 2021)

चार खनन अधिकारियों को निलंबित करने की संस्तुति लखनऊ: भूतत्व एवं खनिकर्म विभाग की निदेशक डॉ. रोशन जैकब ने भ्रष्टाचार के मामले में चार खनन अधिकारियों को निलंबित करने की संस्तुति शासन से की है. निदेशक डॉ. रोशन जैकब ने बताया कि आशीष कुमार, खान अधिकारी सहारनपुर, डॉ रंजना सिंह सहायक भूवैज्ञानिक व खान अधिकारी शामली, मुजफ्फरनगर पर कार्रवाई के लिए शासन को पत्र भेजा है.

बांदा और शाहजहांपुर से भी खनन को लेकर निदेशक डॉ. रोशन जैकब ने कार्रवाई की है. खान अधिकारी बांदा सुभाष सिंह और डॉ अभय रंजन खान अधिकारी शाहजहांपुर के बारे में प्राप्त फीडबैक व वरिष्ठ अधिकारियों से प्राप्त भ्रष्टाचार की रिपोर्ट के आधार कार्रवाई के लिए शासन से संस्तुति की है. https://react.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttar-pradesh/state/lucknow/director-of-minerals-recommended-to-the-government-to-suspend-four-mining-officer-in-the-case-of-corruption-in-lucknow/up20210708201919145  (08 July 2021)

Sharp rise in sand prices in the state. https://www.patrika.com/lucknow-news/sand-and-morang-rate-increased-in-uttar-pradesh-6938823/ (08 July 2021)

This video by Uday You Tuber shows the dredging operation going on in Ghaghara river in June 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbSQq9bYxMo  (20 June 2020)

Uttarakhand These dumpers causing fatal accidents seem involved in mining activities though reports do not mention it clearly. There are several such accidents happening in various states lacking proper media reports.

डंपर की टक्कर से बाइक सवार कारपेंटर की मौत सितारगंज में मंगलवार (Feb. 9) शाम करीब 5:15 बजे आरके ढाबा के पास बाइक (यूके06एक्स-1675) को किच्छा तरफ से आ रहे डंपर (यूके06सीबी-2160) ने टक्कर मार दी। इससे बाइक सवार कारपेंटर नकहा गांव निवासी सुल्तान मलिक (26) पुत्र इरफान मलिक की मौके पर ही मौत हो गई। जबकि साथी कारपेंटर भिटौरा गांव निवासी जलीस अहमद (35) पुत्र खलील अहमद गंभीर रूप से घायल हो गए। किच्छा से आ रहे भाजपा नेता गुरदीप सिंह चौहान ने दोनों को अपने वाहन से सीएचसी पहुंचाया। डॉ. संदीप कौर ने सुल्तान की मृत्यु की पुष्टि की। वहीं गंभीर रूप से घायल हुए युवक को हायर सेंटर हल्द्वानी रेफर कर दिया। पुलिस ने क्षतिग्रस्त बाइक और डंपर को कब्जे में ले लिया। https://www.amarujala.com/uttarakhand/udham-singh-nagar/carpenter-died-in-accident-sitarganj-news-hld4142096199  (10 Feb. 2021)  

हादसे में गुरुद्वारा सेवादार के बेटे की मौत शनिवार (May 15) को गुरुद्वारा श्री नानकमत्ता साहिब के सेवादार प्रकट सिंह का पुत्र इंद्रवीर सिंह (27) बाइक (यूके06एयू-8275) से सितारगंज से नानकमत्ता अपने घर लौट रहा था। सत्संग तिराहे पर खटीमा की ओर से आ रहे एक कैंटर (यूके04सीबी-3184) ने उसको रौंद दिया। दुर्घटना में इंद्रवीर सिंह की मौके पर ही मौत हो गई। पुलिस ने कैंटर चालक को हिरासत में ले लिया और शव का पंचनामा भर पोस्टमार्टम के लिए खटीमा भेज दिया। खबर लिखे जाने तक पुलिस को हादसे की तहरीर नहीं दी गई थी। https://www.amarujala.com/uttarakhand/udham-singh-nagar/one-died-in-road-accident-sitarganj-news-hld4244755180  (16 May 2021)

Madhya Pradesh 6 Journalists Booked Six journalists were booked in Khargone district on July 2 for alleged rioting and abusing on the complaint of District Mining Officer (DMO), according to the police. Reportedly, the journalists had gone to meet the DMO on the same evening seeking his comment on the issue of rampant illegal mining and storage of sand in the district.

In the complaint, the journalists have alleged that they were framed in a fake case by the DMO under the pressure of the sand mafia when they raised the issue of illegal mining, storage of sand and theft of taxes prevalent in the district. “Three days ago, NDTV ran a story on illegal mining and storage of sand in the district which had irked the contractors and government officials,” said Praveen Gangle, one of the accused journalists associated with the news website Nation Today. 

In addition to that, a journalists’ union of Khargone has also given a written application to the district collector for a fair investigation in the matter.  In the last three months, nearly 14 journalists have been booked in Madhya Pradesh for reporting on irregularities in the management of COVID-19 and dalit atrocities. https://www.newsclick.in/MP-6-journalists-reporting-illegal-sand-mining-booked-khargone-police-complaint-mining-officer  (05 July 2021)

The FIR was registered on July 2 afternoon by the Khargone police against Asif Khan, Praveen Pal, Wahid Khan, Pawan Kumar Solanki, Pradeep Gangle and Dharmendra Chouhan, who work for different national and local media outlets.

Khargone mining officer Sawan Singh Chouhan said the journalists kept arguing with him and created a ruckus. “I called the journalists to my office to answer their questions. But I received an email from the head office seeking some details on mining in the district. I had to reply within a few minutes. I asked them to wait for some time, but they kept arguing with me.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/fir-filed-by-mp-s-khargone-mining-officer-against-6-reporters-after-questions-on-illegal-mining-101625516113828.html  (06 July 2021)

However, the six accused denied Chouhan’s claims. Speaking to The Indian Express, Pradeep Gangle a journalist associated with web portal Dainik Sach Express, explained that the six had gone to seek Chouhan’s comment for a story based on complaints made by villagers of Kumarkheda, Umarkali and nearby Mohna on increased movement of heavy vehicles loaded with sand.

“We had sought an appointment but when we reached Chouhan’s office, we were asked to wait for 10 minutes. A few minutes after waiting outside his office, Chouhan came out and began leaving. It was then that we asked for a comment as we had been waiting but he responded with harsh words,” said Gangle. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/mp-six-journalists-booked-for-rioting-using-criminal-force-against-mining-officer-7390756/  (06 July 2021)

Despite ban illegal sand mining unabated The NGT ban has made no difference in Budni, the home of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. In the Budni area, the sand mafia is working to sift the Narmada river by taking out the sand fearlessly at the mines. On the instructions of the NGT, Sehore Collector Chandra Mohan Thakur has ordered a ban on mining from sand mines on June 30 but Budni SDM is not aware of the ban on sand mining, Budni SDM has said that there is no illegal mining, sand should not be banned.

The best sand comes at number one, Tawa river of Hoshangabad, Narmada river, Budni of Sehore district at number two and sand of Chambal river at number three. The sand mafia’s spirits are high in his area. In broad daylight, sand mafia is taking out sand by taking tractor-trolley in the beach Narmada. You can see this view every night or day from Circuit House, Vivekananda Ghat in Hoshangabad. https://granthshala.in/illegal-sand-mining-in-narmadas-beach-sdm-said-on-the-ban-of-ngt-our-district-is-not-stopped-the-collector-has-imposed-a-ban-on-june-30-only/  (03 July 23021)

Bihar Govt amends mine rules The government is amending the mines rules to provision for levy of heavy fines following seizure of vehicles involved in illegal sand mining, which has shown no sign of abating, leading to environmental hazard and revenue losses. Under the new rules, trucks ferrying illegally mined sand will be released on payment of ₹4 lakhs in fine and tractors for ₹25,000. This will be in addition to the penalty imposed on the seized sand.

Attempts to regulate sand mining trade since 2016 have failed spectacularly despite formation of a new policy and attempt to cancel mining lease of 25 companies owned by powerful people, who are believed to operate in connivance with politicians, police and officials of mines and geology department, said a government official on condition of anonymity.

Patna, Saran, Bhojpur, Aurangabad, Kaimur and Rohtas are some of the worst-affected districts. Sand in Bihar is being sold for as much as ₹30,000 to ₹35,000 per truck load. Officials say that Chirand village in Saran district, is the favourite spot for the illegal trade as it is situated on the confluence of Ganga and Saryu rivers and connects to National Highway-19. Sand mined from nearby Sone River in Patna and Bhojpur districts is shipped to Chirand in boats to be smuggled to north Bihar and neighbouring districts of Uttar Pradesh. According to locals, around 90% of the population in Chirand village are engaged in sand smuggling. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/bihar-amends-mine-rules-with-aim-to-contain-emboldened-sand-mining-mafia-101625294095934.html  (03 July 2021)

रात के अंधेरे में बालू का काला कारोबार  बिहार में सोन नदी सोना उगल रही है. लेकिन इस सोने से आम जनता या प्रशासन को फायदा नहीं हो रहा है. इस सोने का फायदा बिहार के बालू माफिया उठा रहे हैं. बालू माफिया अपनी दबंगई और धमक के दम पर सोन के सीने पर लूट का खंजर चला रहे हैं. https://www.abplive.com/tv-show/ghanti-bajao/special-report-on-sand-mafias-of-bihar-why-govt-is-silent-1936272  (05 July 2021)  

Gujarat Mallika Slams Sand Mining In River Illegal sand mining around Fatepura near Pethapur in Gandhinagar and the dangerous environmental effects it causes, besides degrading the riverbed with large pits, has raised concern in the area, with activist and noted classical dancer Mallika Sarabhai raising her voice against it.

Sarabhai, who owns a farm house in Fatepura, said that while the PM speaks of saving water bodies and interlinking of rivers, the local administration is turning a blind eye to the sand mafia that is complicit in illegal mining. In her letter to the Commissioner of Industry and Mines, Sarabhai stated “the river is being raped”, and added that her letter to the Jilla Adhikari over the issue failed to evoke any response.

When approached, Commissioner of Geology and Mining, Roopwant Singh, said, “We have taken the complaint filed by Mallika Sarabhai very seriously. Over the past one week, we have conducted checks at 154 sand dealers and have identified over 2 lakh tonnes of unauthorised stock. We have levied a penalty of Rs 7 crore. This was done in 12 districts, including Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. There was no such check for the past year or so. This nuisance will end.” https://ahmedabadmirror.com/mallika-slams-sand-mining-in-river-says-local-adm-complicit/81802495.html  (03 July 2021)

Maharashtra Residents alert authorities illegal sand mining, allegedly going on in the Mula river has has once again been brought to the notice of the authorities by residents of Hinjewadi. Following complaints from residents, officials of the state irrigation department visited the site and found deep holes on the riverbed where miners had scraped sand from. In November 2020, a group of alert citizens kept vigil and managed to catch illegal sand miners red handed. A chance observation by an alert citizen, followed by co-ordinated efforts of residents of Aundh, Baner and Pashan helped crack down on a sand mafia operation going on within the city.

“The current status of the river is such that from being more than 30 metres wide, it has now become only 17 metres wide and the banks have been eroded. Thus, when gates of the dams open, the flow of the river will accelerate and erode faster to cause flooding,” said Pushkar Kulkarni, resident of Baner, who caught the culprits red handed. “When we got closer to the spot we noticed that there were two trailers without registration numbers that were being loaded with sand from the excavators. The damage outside the river is visible, but they managed to extract the sand from the basin where the water level is intact making the damage immeasurable. We are still keeping a vigil on the river,” added Kulkarni. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/residents-of-hinjewadi-alert-authorities-to-sand-mining-on-mula-riverbed-101625505431599.html  (06 July 2021)

Kerala Stir against mineral sand-mining completes 26 days An indefinite relay satyagraha under the aegis of the Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samiti against mineral sand-mining at Thottappally completed 26 days on Monday (July 5). Suresh Kumar S., chairman of the samiti, said that the protest would be strengthened. “We will organise a mass protest proclamation on July 7. It will be attended by environmentalist C.R. Neelakandan, former High Court judge B. Kemal Pasha and others,” Mr. Kumar said.

The samiti is demanding suspension of ‘sea-washing’ activity at Thottappally. “Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. (KMML) and Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IREL), which are engaged in mining and transportation of sand, have created pits in the sea close to the mouth. Sand will automatically fill in the pits, making the entire mineral sand-mining activity much easier. They tried sea washing at Alappad a few years ago, where it was later prohibited. They have shifted all machines here. Sea washing will be detrimental to the entire Thottappally coast,” Mr. Kumar said.

The protesters said they were not against dredging of the channel and removal of sand from pozhi in a limited way, which was an annual process, but were opposed to the transportation of mineral-rich sand to the KMML and the IREL units at Chavara. Local residents, especially fishers who are up in arms, allege that the government is engaged in large-scale mineral sand-mining in the disguise of flood mitigation. The coastline is prone to severe sea attacks and coastal erosion. Residents fear the sand-mining would prove detrimental to people living along the shorelines from Valiazheekal to Punnapra. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/stir-against-mineral-sand-mining-at-thottappally-completes-26-days/article35151272.ece  (05 July 2021)

Karnataka India’s second mining school in Ballari The Department of Mines and Geology will be implementing the project in an area of 50 acres and will train the employees attached to the mining companies operating in Karnataka and other parts of India.

The institute will also conduct short-term training courses for owners and other employees attached to mining firms on legal clauses, best practices in transport and exporting and other such related work. “There is only one such institute in Dhanbad of Jharkhand. We are awaiting final approval from the government and it is expected to be announced by Minister Murugesh Nirani,” said an official from the district administration.

Ballari and Vijayanagara districts are known as mining hubs of Karnataka. There are 32 major mining companies operating in these two districts and lakhs of people are directly or indirectly attached to the mining business in this region.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2021/jul/09/indias-secondmining-school-in-ballari-2327624.html  (09 July 2021)  

Verbal duel between former CM and Mandya MP There are no signs of the ongoing verbal duel between JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy and MP Sumalatha Ambareesh ending, with the latter on Friday (July 9) accusing the former CM’s party leaders in Mandya of benefiting from illegal mining in the district. “Politicians won’t do (illegal activities) directly with their name, they do with benamis, but it is an open secret…If you (JDS leaders) are not involved in it, why are you reacting? Looking at your strong reaction, it looks like you are benefiting from the illegal mining,” Sumalatha said.

Speaking to reporters here, she said barricades were erected at all access roads leading to sites where illegal mining was on in order to stop her from inspecting them, during her recent visit. “I will seek time and meet the CM and Mines Minister on the illegal mining issue,” the independent MP from Mandya added. The verbal spat had begun on July 5 when Kumaraswamy made personal attacks against Sumalatha over the issue of leasing out MySugar factory in Mandya to private industries and illegal mining near KRS dam, which elicited a sharp reaction from the actress-turned politician. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2021/jul/09/verbal-duel-between-former-karnataka-cm-hd-kumaraswamy-and-mandya-mp-sumalatha-ambareesh-continues-2327950.html  (09 July 2021)

Amidst a verbal duel between former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy and Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambareesh over the safety of the KRS dam in Mandya district, the Karnataka government on Friday (July 9) clarified that the dam is safe and there is no structural defect in the body of the structure.

K. Jaiprakash, Managing Director of Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited, clarified that the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project consultant and Dam Safety Review Panel (DSRP) inspected gates of the dam on July 2 and that there is no structural defect in the wall of the structure. Karnataka had received an award in 2017 for excellent civil works at the KRS dam under the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project of the World Bank.

Illegal mining in the vicinity of the dam is said to be the major reason for renewed rivalry between the former CM and the MP. Mr. Kumaraswamy courted controversy when he told the MP to ‘sleep in front of the sluice dates of KRS dam to prevent seepage’. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/krs-dam-is-safe-karnataka-government/article35231709.ece  (09 July 2021)

Telangana Dealers ask govt to extend tenure of mining contracts Dealers, who were granted leases for sand and granite mining by the State government, have requested the Mines and Geology Department to extend their tenure, in view of their businesses taking a hit due to the pandemic. They said that over the past year, the State was under lockdown for nearly five months, halting transportation and other activities.

Reportedly, a few businessmen had lodged complaints on the matter by logging into the Mining Department’s official portal. Due to the heavy load on servers, the portal subsequently crashed. It is still not available for online services. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/jul/12/as-covid-hits-business-telangana-dealers-ask-government-to-extend-tenure-of-mining-contracts-2328917.html  (12 July 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Goa Activists assail CMP at marathon hearings Activists and environmentalists pointed out several discrepancies in the draft of the controversial Goa coastal zone management plan during the much delayed public hearings on Thursday (July 8), with many alleging it was unlikely to protect and restore the coast. “The plan has several omissions of fishing villages, fishing sites and traditional access routes to the coast have not been shown. We are demanding that the plans submitted by the coastal villages which accurately reflect local knowledge, be accepted and incorporated into the final plan,” Abhijit Prabhudesai, an activist said.

The plan, which is a statutory document under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 2011, was initially meant to have been ready by 2015 but has seen several delays forcing the NGT to ban fresh permissions for coastal development or business until the plan is finalized. Environmental activist group Goa Foundations said the draft contained “no management plan for the sand dunes anywhere, no management plan for the turtle nesting beaches, no management plan for the khazan lands [and] no management plan for the mangroves.”

“The local communities for whom the notification was designed and intended to benefit have not been consulted in its preparation. They are now being asked to acquiesce in the draft prepared by experts who have little credible knowledge of local conditions and have made huge errors. The draft plan, therefore, focuses only on geomorphological descriptions of the coastal area,” the Goa Foundation, which refrained from participating in the public hearing, but submitted written submissions, said.

Among the foremost complaints, the activists have said that Goa’s khazan lands, which are an intricate system of low lying lands that are inundated during high tides, have been either only partially marked or erroneously classified in different villages. “A Khazan Management Plan should have been under preparation from January 2011. This was nowhere done and the department of Environment and the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority should be held criminally responsible for this lapse,” the Goa Foundation said.

Activists and ecologists who participated in the hearing alleged that the two sessions held simultaneously in North and South Goa seemed more like an official formality than a sincere attempt to hear public opinion. While only 45 out of more than 700 registered could speak at the South Goa hearing, in North Goa, the hearing concluded well past midnight with speakers not allowed more than 15 minutes each. “To add to this, so many speakers just could not continue till this late. It seems that they just wanted to tick a box and say that the hearing was done. The disregard for the people of Goa and the people in Goa was obvious,” Albertina Almeida an activist, said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/activists-assail-goa-coastal-management-plan-at-marathon-hearings-101625898993714.html  (10 July 2021)

Assam Baghjan restoration may take a decade Ecosystems damaged in the 2020 Baghjan oil and gas leak fire in Assam, which took over five months to douse, might take at least a decade to recover 70-80 percent of their original form, according to a report. The analysis also spelt out ecological restoration recommendations and budget to draw down carbon by managing trees, but a section of experts are sceptical while others have called for long-term monitoring of the region to understand the implications.

While the overall ecological damages estimated amounted to Rs. 25000 crore (Rs. 250 billion), the report of the one-person inquiry commission set up by the Assam government on the Baghjan blowout says that “estimated carbon earnings were valued at Rs. 18234 crores (during restoration) and this resulted in net liability of Rs. 6800 crore over a period of 10 years.”https://india.mongabay.com/2021/07/baghjan-oil-blowout-report-indicates-a-long-road-to-recovery-and-ecological-restoration/  (05 July 2021)

Sonbeel in crisis Sonbeel – 2nd largest wetland in Asia — located under Ratabari constituency of Karimganj, is facing acute water crisis this monsoon. It is drying, sinking, reducing the water to an unprecedented level. Such a phenomenon has not occurred in recent memory. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/assam-news/asias-second-largest-wetland-sonbeel-in-karimganj-faces-crisis-545384  (04 July 2021)

Uttarakhand Hills, entire meadow with lake ‘private property’ Meadows or bugyals in Uttarakhand have legal protection. The high court had previously ruled that no permanent structures should be built in the alpine and sub-alpine meadows and grasslands in the Himalayas. It had also passed a mandate limiting the number of tourists to these places to protect the meadows from exploitation.

In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the private forest should be handed over to the state and petitioners should be paid compensation. Ashutosh Singh, divisional forest officer (Badrinath Forest Division), told TOI that after the judgment, the state government had said that the 660 hectares of land would be declared a reserved forest. “But to do that, the revenue department has to transfer the land to the forest department which hasn’t been done yet.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/in-ukhand-hills-entire-meadow-with-lake-private-property/articleshow/84151344.cms  (06 July 2021)

Locals intensify stir against Sattal ‘development’  The Sattal redevelopment plan involves building a children’s park, a view point along with beautification and landscaping work. But local residents have alleged that any construction in the ecologically fragile area would damage its rich biodiversity.

An online petition to declare Sattal a “conservation reserve” has also garnered 32,000 signatures while a website has been built dedicated to the ‘Save Sattal’ campaign. The region is famous as a bird-watching spot and is one of the few breeding places for the endangered mahseer fish. It is also one of the last remaining oak forests in Uttarakhand. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/Armed-with-online-petition-website-Twitterstorms-locals-intensify-stir-against-Sattal-development/articleshow/84151294.cms  (06 July 2021)

Maharashtra Clear debris, restore Nerul’s Lotus Lake: HC In an oral direction to Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), Bombay high court on Friday (July 9) asked it to remove debris and restore Lotus Lake at Nerul. “This is very serious,” said a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni while hearing a PIL by advocate Pradeep Patole to save the nearly 7.5-acre lake and verified wetland surrounded by marshy areas and mangroves at the foothills of Parsik Hill.

The petition stated till 2020, activists and nearby residents had protected the lake from encroachment and debris dumping. However, in February 2020, before the lockdown, the land/slum mafia cleared most of the lotus plants; debris and garbage were dumped on the lake and huts sprouted in the area.

The judges said NMMC and CIDCO are planning authorities and instead of pointing to each other “must work together and the problem should be solved.” “We would also take precautions for it,” Marne assured. The judges said they were not passing any order. “Next week we want a statement that the debris is removed and the lake is restored to its original position,” the Chief Justice said. The judges were hopeful Marne “will use his good offices with NMMC and see to it that the order is complied with.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/clear-debris-restore-neruls-lotus-lake-says-bombay-hc/articleshow/84280418.cms  (10 July 2021)

Talawe lake turns into mosquito breeding ground Since last week, the residents have been noticing blackish patches on the water level at the second part of the Talawe lake which is bigger than the first one. The patches which are formed due to the blockade of the tidal water flow is being growing bigger and visible. The patches are the outcome of stagnation of water due to which mosquitoes are breeding. The environment lovers and activists from Save Navi Mumbai Environment group have already tweeted to NMMC Commissioner, who replied on July 5 assuring to look into the matter. https://www.newsband.in/?p=22077  (07 July 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Punjab Ex-agriculture officer develops tech to use less water In an effort to save water during paddy cultivation, former district agriculture officer Daler Singh, who has already been promoting sowing of paddy on ridges, has now innovated ‘dry puddling’ technique for transplanting paddy in place of traditional water-guzzling puddling. Even though a few dry seeding techniques have been successfully developed and scores of farmers have adapted to the same, most of the farmers still resort to traditional style of puddling.

Jalandhar-based farmer Harinder Singh Dhindsa, who along with a group of farmers had earlier sent a memorandum to the CM for banning traditional style of puddling, said he used two techniques — dry seeding on ridges and transplanting on wet fields using a machine in 23 acres. “I have not at all used traditional puddling,” he said, adding, “to save Punjab, it is must to put a ban on traditional puddling and farmers should adapt to alternate techniques,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/paddy-sowing-jalandhar-ex-agriculture-officer-develops-tech-to-use-less-water/articleshow/84312365.cms  (11 July 2021)

Delhi Unique stepwells Vikramjit Singh Rooprai wrote a book on Delhi’s stepwells, mentioning 32, profiling 10. Jatin Chhabra catalogues stepwells on his website, visits them & wants to publish a guide on ancient stepwells. National Water Mission has just published such a guide. https://www.theweek.in/columns/bibek-debroy/2021/07/08/bibek-debroy-writes-on-the-unique-stepwells-of-india.html  (18 July 2021)

GROUNDWATER

ACWADAM organizing International Webinar Series on Groundwater Governance (gwG) on 20 & 27 July, 3 & 10 August 2021. For more info and registration see the link: http://www.acwadam.org/images/pdf/Infolet-gwG-for-webpage.pdf

Study Poor groundwater governance threatens subterranean fishes RajeevRaghavan, NeeleshDahanukar- Groundwater depletion is a significant global issue, but its impact on the often-enigmatic subterranean biodiversity and its conservation remains poorly understood. In the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot of India, poor governance of groundwater resources is threatening its evolutionarily distinct subterranean freshwater fauna, some taxa of which represent Gondwanan relics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169534721001804  (09 July 2021)

Alarming Dip in Groundwater Level The research paper, published by IIT Kanpur, has used more than 4,000 groundwater well data from northwest India to demonstrate that groundwater levels in the states of Punjab and Haryana have fallen to alarming levels in the past four-five decades. The study has significant implications for designing sustainable strategies for groundwater management not only for northwest India but for most of the Ganga plains covering parts of UP and Bihar.

Punjab and Haryana are the worst affected region and the study led by Prof. Rajiv Sinha and his PhD student, Suneel Kumar Joshi, at IIT Kanpur shows that shallow groundwater fell from 2 metres below ground level (bgl) during 1974, to about 30 metres bgl in 2010. This translates to an average loss of groundwater of more than 50 km3 (1.0 km3/yr), particularly after 2002.

The study reveals that the rice cultivation area increased from 1,92,000 to 14,22,000 hectares between 1966-67 and 2017-18 for Haryana and from 2,27,000 to 30,64,000 hectares between 1960-61 and 2017-18 in Punjab. As a result, groundwater abstraction increased to fulfil the demand. Also, the most significant decline in groundwater levels is recorded along the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannel (Kurukshetra, Patiala and Fatehabad districts), and in along the incised valley of the Yamuna River (parts of Panipat and Karnal districts).

The research was funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK, with support from the Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) under the Jal Shakti Ministry. https://www.newsclick.in/Alarming-Dip-Groundwater-Level-Punjab-Haryana-Kanpur-IIT-Study  (06 July 2021)

One-sixth of groundwater reserves ‘over-exploited’ Nearly one-sixth of India’s 6,965 groundwater assessment units (block/tehsil/taluka) are ‘over-exploited’ and this along with two other categories of concern — ‘critical’ and ‘semi-critical’ — account for 35% of total assessed units, according to new findings of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) in a report which may soon be made public.

Key points of yet to be released CGWB’s report, accessed by TOI, show that 1,114 out of 6,965 assessment units in the country are overexploited; 270 are critical; 1,057 are semi-critical; 4,427 are safe and 97 are saline. Though the board had taken a higher number of assessment units for its analysis in 2020 compared to 2017, the findings show a percentage decline in numbers of ‘overexploited’ and ‘critical’ units — the first two categories of major concerns.

According to the report, net availability of extractable ground water resources has increased from around 393 billion cubic meter (BCM) in 2017 to nearly 398 BCM last year whereas extraction for all uses declined from 249 BCM to 245 BCM – it means more water remains as a natural reserve. Overall annual recharge was also increased during the period – from 431.86 BCM in 2017 to 436.15 BCM in 2020. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/one-sixth-of-groundwater-reserves-over-exploited-in-india-recharge-shows-result-but-situation-continues-to-be-grim/articleshow/84269196.cms  (09 July 2021)

A geochemical & isotopic study of mid-Gangetic floodplains This article attempts to understand the evolution of groundwater chemistry in the mid Gangetic floodplain through the identification of hydrogeochemical processes including the impact of surface recharge and geological features. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935121008100?dgcid=author 

Uttar Pradesh Hidden water crisis behind sugar dominance Sugar mills and distilleries are one of India’s 17 highest polluting industries, discharging water into the Ganga River. The sugar industry ranks third for the amount of wastewater produced, after the pulp/paper and chemical sectors. A huge amount of water is required throughout the entire cycle, which starts with the production of sugarcane and ends with the release of effluent from the mills. This process has an impact on groundwater levels, with serious implications for human health, livelihoods and the ecology of local water bodies.

In Uttar Pradesh, the biggest 56 sugar mills generate about 32% of the state’s wastewater and discharge up to 85.7 million liters per day (MLD) into the riverine system.  Since 2014, about 23 court cases have been filed against sugar mills for damaging the environment in Uttar Pradesh alone. A landmark ruling in 2014 saw the Simbhaoli Sugar Mill, a unit with a daily production capacity of 1,000 million tonnes, slapped with a fine of INR 50 million (USD 670,000) for polluting the Ganga River.

Himanshu Thakkar, environmental activist and water expert with the non-profit South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), says the pollution agencies lack credibility. According to him, because the parameters that CPCB monitors are not available to the public, trust in the institutions “is hard to maintain.” Thakkar and other wastewater experts are not surprised by the findings. According to the 10 wastewater and pollution experts The Third Pole spoke with, avoiding the cost of water treatment by forging data to mislead pollution agencies is a consistent and widespread clandestine practice among a wide range of industries across India and elsewhere. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/pollution/investigation-water-crisis-sugar-india/  (08 July 2021)

URBAN WATER

Chennai Citizens are fighting to save Retteri lake Retteri lake has been one of the biggest blessings for many households in the areas around Madhavaram and Kolathur and provides a cooling effect to these surroundings during Chennai’s scorching summers. But the neglect of the lake during recent times has residents of these areas seriously worried about the future. While many other lakes have got a facelift and revived focus on maintenance, this, despite being one of Chennai’s largest lakes, has not got the attention that it deserves. The residents of these areas have been fighting against the encroachment of the lake and for better maintenance over the past few years. https://chennai.citizenmatters.in/chennai-retteri-lake-madhavaram-kolathur-sewage-industrial-waste-30899  (01 July 2021)

Water reeking of sewage reach houses With quality inspection of bubble top water cans halted since the pandemic, Chennai residents complain that packaged water is now coming with illegal labels and that most cans are in an unusable condition. Prior to Covid, the FSSAI used to inspect lorries carrying bubble top water cans and seize the unsafe cans. However, all the trucks are now going unchecked.

Also, a label mentioning the company name, date of manufacture, and the FSSAI, which is a must for all the bubble tops, is missing. Many bubble top cans are kept in local shops for months, which people are not aware of. In some places, the labels are removed to conceal the date of manufacture, but water remains the same. When contacted, a senior official from the FSSAI said they would begin quality checks in a week. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/jul/10/now-water-reeking-of-sewage-reach-houses-in-chennai-2328066.html  (10 July 2021)

Illegal diversion of sewage into storm water drains continues Illegal sewage connections to storm water drains have been a continuing issue in the city, resulting in pollution of waterbodies. Even when there is no rain, the concrete drain off Langs Garden road perpetually discharges waste water into the Cooum. According to local residents, the sewage is from establishments in Mount Road nearby.

After inspecting around 37,100 premises in the city, the city Corporation had told Express in 2018 that 461 illegal sewage connections to storm water drains had been identified. An RTI response to city-based civic rights group Arappor Iyakkam in 2017 had stated that there were ‘no records’ to the query on actions taken to plug illegal sewer lines’ from 2013-2016. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/jul/11/illegal-diversion-of-sewage-into-storm-water-drains-continues-2328448.html  (11 July  2021)

Is there a chance of a new ecopark? Two corridors intersect at Siruseri: one a jigsaw of towering infrastructure, and the other, of trees. The second sits atop a bund running along the newly restored Twin Lakes. The bigger of the two, the periya eri, holds over 50 million cubic feet of water, nearly double of what it did in 2019.

Behind this restoration project is Joss Brooks, the man who also restored Adyar Poonga and the Pitchandikulam forest in Auroville. He hopes that the recent push for ecoparks — Municipal Administration Minister KN Nehru recently announced ₹2,600 crores to increase the city’s green cover along its banks — will help. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-siruseri-lake-restored-joss-brooks/article35208954.ece  (08 July 2021)

170-yr-old British-era well set for heritage showcasing A well that dates back at least 170 years, located near Russell Market, is now being restored. Located at Chandni Chowk in Shivajinagar, it once had water throughout the year. Only a part of the well was visible, and its full extent came into sight during an ambitious plan to spruce up the market’s surroundings.

Architects involved in the Smart City project, now at work in the area, are keen to restore the well to its earlier glory, and showcase it as a piece of the city’s heritage. Estimated to be 35 ft deep, it is connected to two other wells in the vicinity, experts told Metrolife. The conservationists plan to desilt the well and rid it of plastic and other debris brought in by the drains connected to it.

Meera Iyer, convenor of Intach, says there was a time when Bengaluru depended on wells for almost all its water needs. “In the 1980s, it was estimated that Bengaluru had an astounding 25,000 wells. Maps of the city of the late 1800s also show a profusion of wells,” she says. In 1875, the British government measured the depth of wells around the city. Oral history has it that Shivajinagar was a maidan and this well served as its source of water, says Krupa Rajangam, founder of Saythu, a heritage collaborative. https://www.deccanherald.com/metrolife/metrolife-your-bond-with-bengaluru/170-yr-old-british-era-well-set-for-heritage-showcasing-1006446.html  (08 July 2021)

Hosur Hike in water charges opposed The Krishnagiri District Residents Welfare Association has objected to the hike in water charges by the Hosur Corporation. The Corporation has raised the minimum water tariff for residential connections to ₹125 per 6,000 litres, from the earlier rate of ₹40. The hike , announced in November, 2020, is being implemented after being put on hold owing to opposition.

Responding to the Hosur All Residents Welfare Associations in a letter in May this year, the Corporation Commissioner had stated that the hike was in consonance with the rates in other major Corporations. The tariff was ₹40 since 1997 and the hike after 24 years was necessitated by the input costs for sinking of bore wells and exploration of water sources. Further, the Hogenakkal water distribution scheme cost was much higher for the Corporation that was purchasing water from the Tamil Water Supply And Drainage Board.

The association contested the letter by pointing out that the Coimbatore Corporation charged only ₹100 for up to 15,000 litres per month. The association wanted the civic body to protect its water distribution assets, contain wastage through pipelines and check unregulated drawing of groundwater by private packaged water distribution units. The association plans to collect 5,000 signatures in support of its demand for a rollback of the hike in tariff. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/hike-in-water-charges-by-hosur-corpn-opposed/article35180237.ece  (06 July 2021)

Pune Saving Vetal tekdi from tunnel construction During the meeting, various citizens’ forums, NGO’s, environmentalists presented the impact of the proposed tunnels on the area and the tekdi. “The tunnel project has serious ramifications. It will have a disproportionate impact on the environment by irreversibly damaging one of the largest urban aquifer complexes – the Vetal tekdi hill range. This will result in growth of tanker lobbies in the areas that presently have no problems of water scarcity,” said Manoj Bhagwat, researcher, ACWADAM (Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management). He further added that the tunnel will permanently impact the capability of the city to sustain development in the future. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/common-platform-formed-for-saving-vetal-tekdi-from-tunnel-construction-101625408762414.html  (04 July 2021) 

Mumbai Water levels in dams freeze to 18% According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s data, the water level is 18% in the seven lakes that will be sufficient for the next 70 days. However, this is less than the last two years. At this time, the city had around 80 days of water stock in 2020 and 100 days in 2019. The lake levels have not gone up significantly owing to less rainfall in July.

The civic body supplies 3,850 million litres of water daily against the city’s demand for 4,200 million litres. To meet the shortfall, the BMC has been exploring several ways to increase the water supply to the city. Two weeks ago, the BMC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the BMC and an Israel-based firm for the city’s first desalination project at Manori in Malad. Under this project, BMC plans to turn seawater into drinking water, and the pilot project is expected to be ready by 2025. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/dry-spell-in-mumbai-bmc-in-a-watch-mode-as-water-levels-in-lakes-freeze-to-18-101625938654608.html  (10 July 2021)

BMC, Israeli co ink pact for first desalination plant The BMC will set up the state’s first desalination plant at Manori in Malad (west) to help increase Mumbai’s water supply. The project is estimated to cost Rs 1,600 crore and is slated to be operational by 2025. CM Uddhav Thackeray who was present at the event said that the 200 million litres desalination project is a “revolutionary step” and that it was his “dream for several years”.

According to the MoU signed with MS IDE Water Technologies Ltd, whose appointment was cleared by BMC’s standing committee last month, the DPR will be ready by May next year. BMC officials said that once work to prepare the report is taken up, various studies for the project — like measurement of tides, waves and currents, analysis of the quality of sea water besides ecology and bio-diversity studies, preparaingcoastal regulation zone map and related clearances — will be pursued.

BMC had plans to set up a plant after a severe water crisis in 2009, but it was shelved. State environment minister Aaditya Thackeray suggested that more such smaller plants be set up along the state’s coastline. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-bmc-israeli-co-ink-pact-for-states-first-desalination-plant/articleshow/83937808.cms  (29 June 2021)

Coastal road project: BMC officials meet environmentalists and residents To make way for its ambitious Coastal Road Project, BMC began felling trees at Tata Gardens earlier in May. Residents had then moved the Bombay High Court and got a stay order on the project. However, on June 30, the court vacated its stay, saying that the petitioners would have to submit Rs 60 crore as a security deposit. BMC resumed the activity, which again met with protests from residents and environmentalists. Intending to have a dialogue, civic officials called a meeting with the protesting citizens on Friday (July 9). During the two-hour meeting, both the parties exchanged their views. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/coastal-road-project-battle-between-bmc-and-citizens-ends  (11 July 2021)

Vetal tekdi turns dumping ground  Despite the forest department extending instructions to people from time to time to not litter on city hills, parts of Vetal Tekdi are often strewn with garbage. There is a sizable number of fitness enthusiasts and others who visit the tekdi on a regular basis, but many fail to follow basic environmental norms. There’s much garbage, including empty alcohol bottles thrown near the quarry and nature lovers are clearly vexed with the constant array of garbage found on this precious green lung. https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/hill-to-landfill-vetal-tekdi-turns-dumping-ground/articleshow/84191286.cms  (07 July 2021)

Hyderabad Road brings doom to Ameenpur lake The privately constructed road, however, has got legal sanction from High Court recently, which penalised the Irrigation officials for damaging the road when repairs were underway. If used as a precedent, the judgment would put into question the full tank levels of several lakes in and around the city, leading to a plethora of petitions and reduced extent of water bodies. Irrigation officials claim that the road was a recent development, and a clear encroachment into the lake.

Traditionally in Telangana, it had been a practice to give land titles within lake bed, for agriculture in summer months when water receded. Ameenpur lake too, has a sizeable chunk of patta land inside, which as per the rule book, should be used only for agriculture. The road is part of such land, claim officials, contending that it comes under FTL. In their defence, the petitioners produced a copy of the Irrigation memoirs from the days before FTL was reckoned, which showed the lake’s extent as just a little over 93 acres.. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/road-brings-doom-to-ameenpur-lake/article35205429.ece  (08 July 2021)

Mussoorie Jincy springs: PWD mulls to change road alignment  A day after TOI raised the issue of Jincy springs—one of the largest water sources of Mussoorie —being threatened due to the construction of a new road on the Thatyur-Kempty route, the administration has decided to temporarily halt the project and work out a way to change the alignment of the road without damaging the springs.

A number of villagers from Jincy village reached the spot, too, and expressed concern over the construction of the road which, they claim, has already led to the damage to one of the springs feeding the village. “Jincy is the main source of water for Mussoorie, and no development work should be done at the cost of damaging the water source. We are glad that the administration is looking into this matter,” said Sandeep Sahni, president of Uttarakhand Hotel Association.

Notably, there are seven springs which are collectively referred to as Jincy springs. These springs have a discharge of close to 2.5 million litres of water per day, accounting for nearly 25% of the water being supplied to the town. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/pwd-mulling-to-change-alignment-of-road-construction-threatening-jincy-springs-in-mussoorie/articleshow/84151258.cms  (06 July 2021)

Road construction threatens springs A new road to connect Thatyur and Kempty is threatening the largest water source of Mussoorie – the Jincy spring that accounts for nearly 25% of drinking water being supplied to the town.

However, now villagers have realised how the project is hampering the local water resources. Residents of the nearby Jincy village have reported that road construction near their village has already damaged their water source.

“A spring that provides water to our village has been submerged under debris from the construction and we are facing water shortage,” said a resident of Jincy who did not wish to be named. The road could potentially add to Mussoorie’s existing water woes especially during summer. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/kempty-thatyur-road-construction-threatens-mussoories-largest-water-source/articleshow/84100116.cms  (04 July 2021)

Gurugram Water supply erratic for a month Residents of Sushant Lok- 1 and South City-2 have been getting erratic water supply for over a month now. They said they receive water only four to five days a week, and that too for a limited period of time. Despite several complaints to the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG), no action has been taken to improve the water distribution system, they alleged. Residents also complained that dirty water is being supplied to them.

They alleged that builders are flouting the rules and have been using potable water for construction purposes which has compounded the water crisis in the area. Residents blamed the authorities for not keeping a check on the misuse and pilferage of water. They also pointed out that water is being wasted through leakages as the pipelines are quite old and aren’t repaired in time. In South City-2, residents are being forced to rely on private tankers to meet their daily requirements. A senior MCG official said supply has been affected in several areas of the city as GMDA is carrying out maintenance work. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/water-supply-erratic-for-a-month-in-sushant-lok-1-south-city-2/articleshow/84306967.cms  (10 July 2021)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Karnataka Rs 5000 cr for tap water to rural homes The Union government has allocated Rs 5,000 crore to Karnataka for the year 2021-22 under the Jal Jeevan Mission, the Jal Shakti Ministry said on July 8. The state had received Rs 1,189 crore under the same in the last financial year. The four-fold increase in the allocation is intended to help the state provide tap water supply in every rural household in Karnataka by 2023, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said.

In 22 months, only 5.44 lakh households in Karnataka have been provided tap water connections. CM BS Yediyurappa, in his letter to Minister Shekhawat, has assured 100% coverage with tap water connection to every household of the state by 2023. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/k-taka-receives-rs-5000-cr-union-govt-provide-tap-water-rural-homes-152065  (09 July 2021)

In Karnataka, out of 91.19 lakh households, 29.96 lakh households (32.86%) have been provided with tap water connections. On August 15, 2019, at the time of launch of Jal Jeevan Mission, 24.51 lakh (26.88%) households had tap water supply.

Karnataka plans to provide tap water connections to 25.17 lakh households in 2021-22, 17.93 lakh tap water connections in 2022-23 and remaining 19.93 lakh tap water connections in 2023-24 to achieve tap water supply for every rural household.

With this enhanced Central allocation, opening balance of ₹177.16 crore, and the State’s matching share of ₹5,215.93 crore, a total outlay of ₹10,401.88 crore under Jal Jeevan Mission is available for water supply work in the State for 2021-22. In 2021-22, ₹1,426 crore has been allocated to Karnataka as the 15th Finance Commission tied grant for water and sanitation to rural local bodies. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/4-fold-hike-in-central-grant-to-karnataka-for-drinking-water-supply/article35230208.ece 

Bihar State performing well in providing tap water supply According to an official statement issued from the Jal Shakti Ministry, an average of 85.53 per cent tap water connections have been provided in all the 15 Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (JE-AES) reporting districts so far. This year too, more than 28 cases of AES have been reported and at least eight children have died with symptoms akin to that of AES.

In Nalanda, 96 per cent of tap water supply connections have been provided while districts of Saran and Gopalganj followed suit with supply connection at 94 per cent. Ninety-one per cent water supply connections were provided in Vaishali and Siwan, 84 per cent in West Champaran, and 80 per cent in East Champaran. On a whole, about 97 lakh households have been provided the tap water supply in five Encephalitis affected states, including Bihar in the last 22 months. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/jul/11/bihar-performs-well-among-four-otherstates-in-providing-tap-water-supply-to-aes-affected-districts-2328585.html  (09 July 2021)

Gujarat Additional Narmada water to Kutch: CM approves work CM Vijay Rupani has given approval to initiate water supply works worth Rs 3,475 crore that will provide an additional one million acre feet of water from Narmada river to the border district of Kutch, an official release stated on July 6, 2021.

Under this project, 38 waterbodies, including Saran lake, will be filled with Narmada water, benefiting farmers and cattle, the release added. The project will benefit 96 villages in six talukas of Kutch district that includes Rapar, Anjar, Mundra, Mandvi, Bhuj and Nakhatrana with about 3.8 lakh population. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/additional-narmada-water-to-kutch-gujarat-cm-approves-work-7390680/  (06 July 2021)

AGRICULTURE

Sowing of almost all major kharif crops takes a big hit Irrespective of when the rains arrive now, the sowing window for crops like moong, urad and, to an extent, cotton might be too short for farmers to commence operations. Normally farmers are advised not to sow groundnut, moong and urad if there is not enough soil moisture by July 15. Cotton sowing would be hit in case the rains continue to play truant till the end of July.

The All India Crop Situation report issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare shows sowing in over 499.87 lakh hectares (lh), against 558.11 lh last year, with area under almost all major crops, including moong, soyabean, paddy and cotton, reporting a dip. Pulses overall have also seen a dip, though minor, to over 52.49 lh from 53.35 lh last year. Sugarcane is among the few exceptions, with sowing in over 53.56 lh, against above 52.65 lh last year. In the absence of rains, farmers are either shifting to shorter-duration crops or waiting for enough soil moisture to commence sowing.

However, 2021 does not mark the most delayed monsoon onset in the parts of the country still to see rains. In 2012, against its normal date of June 29, Delhi had seen rains arrive on July 7. Most previous monsoons between 2010 and 2020 also saw a similar break-phase between June fourth week and early July, though none lasted beyond 11 days. This time the break has stretched to close to three weeks. The monsoon of 2013 holds the record for seeing the fastest advance over the entire country — completed in 10 days — since 1941, the IMD said. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kharif-crop-delayed-monsoon-rainfall-season-7397466/  (10 July 2021)

SUMMER 2021

CWC BRIEF NOTE ON LIVE STORAGE STATUS 08.07.2021

1. ALL INDIA STATUS:- As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 08.07.2021, live storage available in these reservoirs is 54.466 BCM, which is 31% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 58.283 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 43.073 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 130 reservoirs as per 08.07.2021 Bulletin is 93% of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 126% of storage of average of last ten years.

2. REGION WISE 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 08.07.2021, the total live storage available in these reservoirs is 3.26 BCM which is 17% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 39% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 35% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. http://cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/08072021-bulletin.pdf

MONSOON 2021

IMD Faulty monsoon forecast for North India Wrong signals by models, difficulty in predicting the outcomes of the interactions between the easterly and westerly winds were some of the major reasons behind the IMD’s monsoon forecast for parts of north India going haywire, experts pointed out as any relief from the oppressive heat eludes the region.

The Southwest Monsoon has reached almost all parts of the country but has stayed away from parts of north India. It is yet to reach Delhi, Haryana, parts of west Uttar Pradesh and west Rajasthan. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted that monsoon is expected to cover these parts by June — a little less than a month back, but its predictions are yet to come true.

In its forecast on June 13, the IMD had predicted that the Southwest Monsoon will reach Delhi by June 15. However, a day later it said conditions are not favourable for its further advancement in this region. Then began a long ‘break-spell’ during which the Southwest Monsoon was weak over several parts of the country.

On July 1, the IMD said conditions could be favourable for further advancement of the monsoon by July 7. The moist easterly winds in the lower level from the Bay of Bengal are likely to establish gradually over parts of eastern India from July 8, it had said. On July 5, the IMD again said the monsoon is likely to spread into northwest India covering Punjab and north Haryana by July 10. However, there were no signs of any relief even on July 10.

On forecasting the onset of Southwest Monsoon over Kerala, the IMD said it would hit the southern state by May 31. Till May 30, the IMD, in its daily bulletin, said the onset of the monsoon over Kerala was expected to be around May 31. However, by the afternoon of that day, it revised it saying the onset is expected to be by June 3. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/imds-faulty-monsoon-forecast-for-north-india-wrong-signals-by-models-difficulty-in-predicting-wind-patterns-281585  (11 July 2021)

Delhi IMD gets it wrong again IMD has given several dates for the monsoon to reach the parched city, most recently July 10, Saturday, but the winds carrying moisture continue to give the city a miss. The city’s regional weather forecasting division, meanwhile, has been forced to revise its weekly projections too. While the whole week was expected to see light to moderate rain, alongside thundershowers, only light rain and isolated thundershowers are expected through the week now.

In early June, IMD had forecast that the city would see an early monsoon this year and monsoon rains would start on June 15, almost two weeks ahead of schedule. That, however, did not happen. After this, the city missed its regular June 27 date with the monsoon. The IMD then said that the first week of July could bring the rains, but they were wrong again. Delhi, meanwhile, is parched. Between July 1 and July 10, it is supposed to get 114.2 mm of rain. It has, however, got only 44.1 mm, 61 per cent below normal. Central Delhi, IMD data shows, has the highest rain deficit at 93 per cent, followed by south Delhi at 79 per cent. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/imd-gets-it-wrong-again-as-monsoon-continues-to-elude-delhi-7399052/  (11 July 2021)

Monsoon delays So far, the monsoon has repeatedly failed to keep its dates with the capital. The IMD had initially forecast the monsoon’s arrival around mid-June, which would have made it one of the earliest onsets over Delhi. The next likely onset window, July first week, too went by with no signs of the rain-bearing system. If the monsoon finally hits the city on Sunday, it would be the most delayed advent in 19 years. Delhi had last seen a more delayed monsoon onset in 2002, when it reached the city on July 19.

Since July 1, the IMD had been forecasting that monsoon was likely to hit Delhi by July 10. It’s initial forecast of an early onset (mid-June) was thwarted by the monsoon weakening literally at the doorstep of Delhi-NCR. The normal date for onset of the monsoon in Delhi is June 27. Last year, it hit the city two days early, on June 25. The capital recorded a maximum temperature of 39.8 degrees Celsius on Saturday (July 10) at Safdarjung, Delhi’s base station which is 4 degrees above normal. With monsoon playing hooky and scalding westerly winds blowing for several days, the city has had six 40-degree-plus days in July already. Last year, July saw just one such day while 2019 and 2018 had two each. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/after-many-false-starts-imd-says-monsoon-set-to-hit-delhi-today/articleshow/84305626.cms  (11 July 2021)

IMD Monsoon likely to gradually revive There has been a 5% deficiency in the rain in the country since June 1. Central India is 7% rain deficient, northwest India 13%, and east and northeast 2%. Due to the revival of monsoon from July 8, rainfall intensity and distribution is very likely to decrease over Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura from July 9 onwards. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/monsoon-likely-to-gradually-revive-from-thursday-101625657419581.html  (07 July 2021)

No forecast model 100% accurate Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of Meteorology at the IMD argued that the “unpredictable” nature of the monsoon can only provide 55-60% accuracy even with the best of technology and forecasting models in place. “Our goal is to have the technology which will be able to forecast weather phenomenon with 100% accuracy. However, that day is still far. Till then, we need human experience and understanding of the data,” Mohapatra told TOI. The forecast accuracy is over 80% in a 24-hour period and more than 60% over a five-day period, he added.

According to the IMD, it relies on human intervention to assess models, since dependence on technology alone can leave data open to interpretation in some cases. Met officials say while the reliance on technology is 70%, the 30% human interpretation plays a critical role in the forecast for the day. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/no-forecast-model-100-accurate-imd/articleshow/84127022.cms  (05 July 2021)

Study Excessive irrigation shifting monsoon rainfall A study by climate researchers has found that excessive irrigation in northern India shifts the September monsoon rainfall towards the north-western part of the country.

The researchers pointed out that in India, irrigation is exercised in an uncontrolled, unplanned manner. Paddy being a major crop in the northern parts is kept in a submerged field. This results in a lot of evapotranspiration — the sum of evaporation from the land surface plus transpiration from plants. In other words, when a lot of moisture is generated from land in fields, the moisture is again precipitated on the land. This drives the monsoon laden winds towards higher temperature areas.

The research published in the journal ‘Geophysical Research Letters’ also highlighted that extreme rainfall in recent decades in Central India has been increasing and this is also caused by an increase in irrigation and consequent increase in evapotranspiration. Ghosh also highlighted that in terms of moisture contribution, land is the second highest contributor after the Arabian sea. “We found that this irrigation is also pumping a lot of moisture towards intensifying rainfall. When extremes are increasing it affects agriculture productivity and results in crop risks,” he added. https://en.gaonconnection.com/irrigation-northern-india-monsoon-rainfall-northwest-farmers-iit-bombay-paddy-weather-extremes-climate-change/  (07 July 2021)

FLOOD 2021

Reimagining embankments by Nirmalya Chaudhary According to the report of the working group on water resources management for the Eleventh Five Year Plan, there are close to 34,000 kilometres of embankment in India that protect some 18.22 million hectares of land. Around 75 per cent of these embankments are located in Assam, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal, with Bengal alone having around 30 per cent of these structures.

In order to build resilience in flood-prone areas, there is a need to reimagine embankments. Resilience building in such spaces would require capacity-building of the community so that people can anticipate, absorb, adapt, mitigate and transfer the disaster risk. This would require interventions that aim to minimize the occurrence of natural calamities and weaken the factors that create vulnerabilities. 

There is a need for an interdisciplinary and a participatory understanding of the efficacy of embankments on life and livelihoods of riparian populations as well as for the exploration of a novel State-community partnership in the management of embankments. Examining the feasibility of elevated hazard-proof housing, creating safe water and sanitation facilities, a basket of stable livelihood options and risk insurance should be integral to the policy of reimagining embankments. https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/reimagining-embankments/cid/1821626  (08 July 2021)

Uttarakhand Bridge Collapses, Valleys Cut Off  The Darma, Vyas and Chaudas valleys were cut off from the rest of the border districts on Thursday (July 8) after a 48-metre-long concrete bridge was washed away following heavy rains. The bridge was built over the Kulagar rivulet on the Tanakpur-Tawaghat national highway, close to the Indo-China border, district official AK Shukla said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/dharchula-bridge-collapses-in-uttarakhand-valleys-cut-off-2482480  (09 July 2021)

Bihar  कटरा में दाे स्थानाें पर टूटा लखनदेई नदी का बांध  कटरा प्रखंड की चंगेल पंचायत के डुमरी में चचरी पुल के समीप दो स्थानों पर लखनदेई का तटबंध टूट गया। इससे दर्जनों गांव में पानी घुस गया। दरभंगा जिले में शुक्रवार (July 9) को 4 जगहों पर बांध टूटने से हजारों की आबादी प्रभावित हो गई। केवटी प्रखंड क्षेत्र में घाैंस नदी की जमींदारी बांध के पूर्वी हिस्सा, कोठिया गांव में डीह के पास बाबर अली के बगीचे के समीप 20 फीट एवं उसी गांव में रामभर्ती स्थान के पास 20 फीट में टूट गया। करीब साै घराें में बाढ़ का पानी घुस गया है एवं 3000 की अाबादी प्रभावित हुई है। वहीं सिंहवाड़ा प्रखंड की हरपुर पंचायत के बरहुलिया गांव के वार्ड आठ में झूलन बांध टूट जाने से ग्रामीण सड़क करीब 50 फीट पानी में बह गई है। दरभंगा के जाले में भी बांध टूटा है।  shorturl.at/nsyM9  (10 July 2021) 

Swollen rivers drain out water in low-lying areas Situation in areas crisscrossed by Gandak and Kosi rivers might worsen in the next few days, as massive quantum of water was released from Nepal side through Valmikinagar and Birpur barrages in the past 12 hours, officials of water resources department (WRD) said. “About 2.15 lakh cusec water was being released in Gandak from Valmikinagar barrage around 4pm and 1.54 lakh cusec in Kosi from Birpur barrage, which is alarming in early July,” they said.

“We are keeping close watch on all embankments with help of volunteers. All embankments are so far safe. However, dozens of villages in Panapur block of Saran got flooded on Friday (July 1) after some miscreants cut open Rasauli zamindari bund on Dhanauti Nala, a tributary to Gandak, to fill up a nearby wetland with water,” said an executive engineer of WRD, adding that flood protection materials were being rushed to the site to plug the breach. River Ganga is, however, flowing below danger levels in its stretch throughout the state, officials said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/muzaffarpur-villages-flooded-as-swollen-rivers-drain-out-water-in-low-lying-areas-101625243873083.html  (02 July 2021)

Eklavya Prasad, an activist working on issues related to water distress explains about the root of the flood crisis.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJvHHcKiabE  (06 July 2021)

Burhi Gandak river at Sakra level forecasting site in Muzaffarpur continue to flow above HFL for past 60 hrs as on 12:00 hrs on July 12. It breached previous HFL 50.87m attained on 25.08.2017 on July 10 at 01:00 hrs and still flowing at 51.2 m which is 0.33 m above previous HFL. https://ffs.tamcnhp.com/main/hydrograph-detail/033-MGD4PTN  (12 July 2021)

Uttarakhand Kalsi level monitoring site on Amlav river a tributary of Yamuna in Dehradun has breached previous HFL 511.2 m attained on 18.08.2019 by 1.2 m on July 11 at 06:00 hrs thus setting up new HFL 512.4 m. As on July 12, 12:00 hrs its flowing at 511.47 m which is higher than previous HFL by 0.27m. https://ffs.tamcnhp.com/main/hydrograph-detail/033-UYDDEL  (12 July 2021)

URBAN FLOODS

Commentary Long term rainfall patterns and flooding in Pune city by Ayushman Singh, Joy Merwin Monteiro and Bejoy K. Thomas The Mula-Mutha basin and Pune city have witnessed huge transformation in land use over the last three decades. Built-up area has increased from 32% in 1990 to 48% in 2019. In 2015 the city disaster management plan had identified the wards that were at risk of floods and flash floods and outlined several mitigation measures. Stormwater system in the city has not kept pace with its expansion and encroachment has resulted in the decrease in width of rivers and increase in the number of potential flash flood points in the city.

Climate change has become a rallying point for global environmental action, and rightly so. However, at the scale of a city, climate change can easily become a straw man to maintain status quo, suggesting helplessness against natural forces that one does not have control over. This can obscure the multiple stressors that cities and urbanising basins face and also the role of human interventions such as the ones that we noted above in exacerbating flood risk. Recognising the various dimensions of vulnerability allows us to take concrete steps towards making our cities resilient to impacts of extreme weather, anthropogenic or otherwise. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/07/commentary-long-term-rainfall-patterns-and-flooding-in-pune-city/  (09 July 2021)

DROUGHT

Haryana Displacement of Nuh villagers should be prevented Water crisis forcing villagers in Nuh district of Haryana to contemplate migration is a matter of concern. The residents, most of who are into farming, have to buy water from tankers at exorbitant rates to meet their daily needs. While the administration has planned digging of wells and ponds to bring relief, it may prove to be a case of too little, too late. Taking such measures in advance may prove to be more helpful in alleviating the distress.

With water from tubewells turning out to be contaminated and unfit for consumption, villagers are hard-pressed to find clean drinking water, taking recourse to the Bhakra canal. The Covid pandemic has also deepened worries over untreated canal water being used for drinking purposes. Depletion of groundwater has already resulted in a revision of the date for sowing of paddy, a water-intensive crop, in Punjab and while efforts are made to supply uninterrupted power to the rural areas to help in farming activities, non-functioning tubewells add to the problem. A late monsoon in the north is also delaying the recharge of groundwater. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/water-scarcity-278800  (06 July 2021)

DISASTERS

MoJS Atlas of glacial lakes in Ganga basin released Ministry of Jal Shakti has released an updated atlas of glacial lakes that are part of the Ganga river basin. About 4,707 glacial lakes have been mapped in the Ganga basin. Last December, a similar inventory of glacial lakes was prepared for the Indus river basin.

For the present study, glacial lakes with water spread area greater than 0.25 ha were mapped using Resourcesat-2 (RS-2) Linear Imaging Self Scanning Sensor-IV (LISS-IV) satellite data. Based on its process of lake formation, location, and type of damming material, glacial lakes are identified in nine different types, majorly grouped into four categories.

The area mapped spans from the origin of the river to foothills of Himalayas covering a catchment area of 2,47,109 sq. km. The study portion of Ganga River basin covers part of India and transboundary region. The Atlas is available on Bhuvan portal of NRSC, ISRO (https://bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in/nhp/). https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/atlas-of-glacial-lakes-in-ganga-basin-released/article35042242.ece  (29 June 2021)

LANDSLIDES

Uttarakhand 3 of family die after house collapses due to rain-triggered landslide A man, his wife and their seven-year-old son died after their house collapsed due to a landslide, triggered by heavy rainfall, in the Kapkot tehsil of Bageshwar district. The elder son of the couple — 10-years old — somehow saved his life by running away from the house. He has sustained minor injuries. The incident took place around 2.30am on Sunday (July 11) when the victims were sleeping. The local administration was informed of the house collapse at 6.15am. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiBGemJWJQQ

The victims were identified as Govind Singh Panda (40), his wife Khashti Devi (35), and their son Himanshu (7). “A cow tied in the cowshed behind the house also died in the incident. The other two cows in the cowshed were saved by us,” said Shikha Suyal, district disaster management officer, Bageshwar. The official added that vehicular movement on several roads in Kapkot was suspended due to the rain damage. According to the data from the meteorological centre, Kapkot recorded the maximum of 45 mm rainfall in the district on Sunday (July 11), followed by 15 mm rainfall in Bageshwar and Garud towns. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-three-of-family-die-after-house-collapses-due-to-rain-triggered-landslide/articleshow/84320856.cms  (11 July 2021)

रविवार (July 11) की तड़के जिले में सभी जगह मूसलाधार बारिश व ओलावृष्टि हुई। बारिश से सबसे अधिक नुकसान कपकोट ब्लॉक में हुआ है। कपकोट ब्लॉक के सुमगढ़ गांव के इटावन तोक में एक मकान भूस्खलन की चपेट में आ गया। मकान में रह रहे तीन लोग मलबे में दब गए। जिनकी मौत हो गयी है। तड़के तीन बजे का समय होने के कारण घर वालों को बचने का भी मौका नही मिला। गांव वालों के अनुसार सभी एक ही परिवार के है। गांव से 8 किलोमीटर पहले मोटर मार्ग भी बंद है। जिससे आपदा राहत, खोजबीन में देरी हो रही है। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/nainital-three-people-of-the-same-family-died-due-to-landslide-in-bageshwar-21820483.html  (12 June 2021)

Autl Seti on Hathi Parvat landslide in Joshimath that happened on June 28) https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4157390444338806&id=100002036746060

CLOUD BURSTS

Himachal Pradesh Cloudburst in Dharamshala While an incident of cloudburst was reported in Dharamshala, triggering a flood-like situation, the national highway near Jhakri in Rampur area of Shimla district was blocked following heavy rainfall. The state has been receiving heavy rainfall for the last few days. The cloudburst incident in Dharamshala triggered flash floods and caused damages to the public properties.

The MeT office in Shimla said that landslides and uprooting of trees may occur due to rainfall and alerted the general public and tourists not to venture near the river banks as the water level may increase. https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/himachal-pradesh-rains-cloubburst-dharamshala-shimla-weather-national-highway-closed-updates-718581  (12 July 2021)

A cloudburst in Dharamshala has triggered a flash flood, washing away vehicles and causing damage to properties in the Bhagsu Nag area. Several videos have been shared by locals as well as the authorities, including SHO Mcleodganj Vipin Chaudhary, on Twitter. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/cloudburst-triggers-flash-floods-in-dharamshala-s-bhagsu-nag-area-2484548  (12 July 2021)

प्रसिद्ध पर्यटन स्थल मैक्लोडगंज में रविवार (July 11) को बादल फटने के बाद जल त्रासदी जैसी स्थितियां बन गईं। तेज बारिश के बाद सड़कों पर खड़े तमाम वाहन पानी की तेज रफ्तार में बह गए। इसके अलावा कई रास्तों और इमारतों को भी भारी नुकसान होने की खबरें सामने आई हैं।  https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/himachal-pradesh/other-cities/see-the-video-of-cloud-burst-in-mcleodganj-of-dharmshala-himachal-pradesh/videoshow/84336938.cms  (12 July 2021) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cs0OawiCZ1Q

Jammu-Kashmir Cloudburst in Ganderbal triggers flash floods A cloudburst over Ganderbal district damaged the highway, caused damage to residential properties, and triggered flash floods in the area, officials said on Monday (July 12). Major damage was reported at the site of the incident in Watlar area of Lar in Ganderbal. However, no loss of life has been reported, officials said. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/jammu-and-kashmir/story/cloud-burst-jammu-kashmir-ganderbal-flash-floods-update-1826830-2021-07-12  (12 July 2021)

THERMAL POWER

Study 8 major coal ash breach accidents in 2 years A new study, titled ‘Lest We Forget – A status report of neglect of coal ash accidents in India (May 2019 – May 2021)’, has found that despite levying penalties and fines on coal-based thermal power plants for coal ash accidents, several of these plants have failed to deposit the full fine amount and pay compensation to the affected people. The report released on July 7 carried out a detailed analysis of eight coal ash breach accidents in six Indian states in the past two years between August 2019 and May 2021.

The study not only brings to light several gaps in the management of ash related accidents but also documents the plight and sufferings of local residents impacted by the fly ash breaches. The study warned of health impacts brought by the fly ash breach incidences. People are suffering from tuberculosis in affected regions in Central India, the study informed. “Airborne ash has been leading to tuberculosis cases and breathing issues especially across central India,” stated the study. Apart from several health impacts, the fly ash breaches also cause severe pollution in natural water bodies as ash was reportedly dumped directly in rivers. https://en.gaonconnection.com/coal-ash-power-plants-health-pollution-environment-singrauli-sonbhadra-bokaro-water-pollution-tuberculosis/  (08 July 2021)

Report Peak power demand hits new record Peak power demand in the country touched 1,97,060 mega-watt (MW) on Tuesday (July 6), an all-time high, Union power minister RK Singh tweeted. Peak demand reflects the highest power requirement level reached at a particular moment. The installed power generation capacity of 3,83,373 MW in the country is nearly twice the peak demand level, implying that most power plants are running at the low PLF. The PLF of thermal plants fell to 48% in May 2020. Power consumption rose 6.6% y-o-y to 108.8 BUs in May, but was still lower than 120 BUs consumed in May 2019 when there was no impact of the coronavirus. https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/peak-power-demand-hits-new-record/2285234/  (07 July 2021)

ENERGY OPTIONS

The Renewable Energy Data Portal is Prayas (Energy Group)’s effort to collate important renewable energy related data, already available in the public domain, at one place. Data is presented as interactive visualizations which allow users to explore and analyze data as per their requirement. The resulting graphs can then be downloaded. https://www.prayaspune.org/peg/re.html

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

MoEF Govt paves way for ecotourism in forest areas Minutes of the NBWL meeting published on the union environment ministry’s Parivesh website last week stated that the ministry had held all consultations regarding the guidelines following which it had been finalised. A list of protected areas where ecotourism can be developed has also been appended to the guidelines. The guidelines are however not in public domain yet.

Environmental and wildlife experts had raised several concerns with a boost to ecotourism in sensitive forest areas. Ecotourism activities can include creation of temporary or permanent infrastructure which can cause fragmentation of forest areas as well as can disturb both livelihood use and areas important for wildlife, they had said. There has been no public consultation on these guidelines yet. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-paves-way-for-ecotourism-in-forest-areas-experts-remain-wary-101625510770660.html  (06 July 2021)

NBWL Cleared 48 Development Projects in Protected Areas in 2020 A critical finding of the report pertained to the clearance mechanism for these projects. Project clearance is typically given after conducting site visits to the protected areas, which is crucial for assessing the ecological make-up to sustain developmental activities. The 48 projects that were cleared during the pandemic came at a time when ground visits were severely restricted.

Overall, the Standing Committee on NWBL rejected only one project in the last three years. Some projects were approved without indicating the specific area designated for construction, pointing towards laxity on the part of the government to protect eco-sensitive lands. https://theswaddle.com/wildlife-board-cleared-development-projects-on-1792-hectares-of-protected-areas-in-2020-study/  (06 July 2021)

The report by LIFE can be seen here. https://thelifeindia.org.in/Publication/AnalysisofForestClearancesinIndia2020January-December 

Maharashtra MPCB shuts polluting plant The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) regional office of Pune on Monday (July 5) issued a show-cause closure notice to the ready-mix concrete plant (RMC) near the Mamurdi Urban Forest Co-Operative Housing Society, following complaints from residents. The order said the plant should be dismantled in a fortnight, otherwise the water and electricity supplies will be disconnected.. https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/out-mpcb-tells-polluting-plant/articleshow/84160390.cms  (06 July 2021)

Tamil Nadu Miyawaki is not suitable way to afforest Chennai By R.J. Ranjit Daniels, Anjana Vencatesan Restorating natural vegetation within available spaces in urban areas should be the focus of afforestation – based on a scientific understanding of the ecological history of the landscape in question. Chennai has never had dense forests except in the form of mangroves, but has instead been marked by slow-growing, long-lived palms. However, they may be unconducive to instant results, and the quest for such results may be the real problem here. https://science.thewire.in/environment/why-the-miyawaki-method-is-not-a-good-way-to-afforest-chennai/  (09 July 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

Ichthyologists wanted for dam greenwashing Steve Lockett The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank has been a prime mover in organising events to highlight the importance of fish passes. Smaller bodies like Nepal Hydro Lab have also been involved.

Fish passes may make a dam more sustainable than not, but are they truly green just for allowing a strong swimmer like mahseer fish to be able to pass? https://theecologist.org/2021/jul/06/ichthyologists-wanted-dam-greenwashing  (06 July 2021)

India-Nepal SJVNL to develop 679-Mw Lower Arun HEP SJVN has signed a pact with the Investment Board of Nepal (IBN) to develop the 679-MW Lower Arun Hydro Electric Project in Sankhuwasabha and Bhojpur districts of in Nepal. SJVN won the bid through ICB. It will be at tail race of 900 MW Arun-3 HEP. https://www.freepressjournal.in/business/sjvnl-in-pact-with-investment-board-of-nepal-to-develop-679-mw-hydroelectric-project  (11 July 2021)

Pakistan Under construction dam develops crack Hundreds evacuated as under-construction Tarki dam in Sorab area in Pak has developed a crack on Jul 11, 2021. As the water of recent rains started to fill the Dam, the widening crack has put the adjacent populated areas at risk. https://www.brecorder.com/news/40106566/mass-evacuation-as-under-construction-dam-develops-crack  (12 July 2021)

Nepal Tamakoshi HEP starts operation The 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project, Nepal’s largest so far, reached a milestone on Monday with (July 6, 2021) one of its six 76 MW units starting power generation. Once the project starts evacuating power from all its six units to the national grid, Nepal will earn a status of becoming a power surplus country during the wet season. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli inaugurated the project located on the Tamakoshi River in Dolakha district in north-central Nepal, approximately 200km away from Kathmandu, by pressing a button during a video conference from Baluwatar. https://kathmandupost.com/national/2021/07/06/nepal-starts-operating-its-largest-hydropower-station (06 July 2021)

Disruptive start to the summer monsoon Dave Petley on deaths in Nepal during the ongoing SW Monsoon. So far, 51 people have died and 29 are missing. Of these, 27 have died and 7 are missing in landslide events, 135 have been officially recorded so far. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/07/09/nepal-monsoon-2021-part-1/  (09 July 2021)

Bangladesh Jadukata river buzzing with lives, livelihoods again Jadukata is one of 54 transboundary India-Bangladesh Rivers. Starting from the Meghalaya Hills, it flows into Bangladesh through Sunamganj’s Tahirpur & into Bishwamvarpur upazilas. Known for scenic beauty, the Jadukata is a reservoir of natural resources. Shimul Bagan, the garden of cotton trees, is on the other side, this is where another sand quarry called Jadukata-2 has been designated. Ruling of the Supreme Court allowed for sand to be lifted from the river again, after being barred for years over environmental concerns. Mountains stand still near the river and the sky seems to lean on mountains. Barik Tila sits on top of the river. A Supreme Court decision in June designated two balumahal (sand quarries) in Jadukata. Jadukata-1 is flowing beside Barik Tila. https://en.prothomalo.com/environment/jadukata-river-buzzing-with-lives-livelihoods-again-following-sc-verdict  (07 July 2021)

ASIA

Taiwan Drought is exposing just how much water chipmakers use, reuse As Taiwan experiences its worst drought in over 50 years, the world’s largest third-party semiconductor manufacturer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), has resorted to trucking in tanks of water from the island’s greener south side to maintain production.

“So far there is no impact on production, and we are monitoring the water supply situation closely,” the company said in various statements, from February through May. Taiwan’s government began rationing water late last year, as the island experienced zero monsoons for the first time since the 1950s. https://fortune.com/2021/06/12/chip-shortage-taiwan-drought-tsmc-water-usage/  (12 June 2021)

In 2019, the latest year for which data is available, TSMC’s daily water consumption in Taiwan was 156,000 tons per day. At its northern production sites, the company accounted for 10.3% of that region’s daily supply. https://www.bloombergquint.com/gadfly/making-chips-requires-lots-of-water-and-gulp-taiwan-has-a-drought  (26 Feb. 2021)

MEKONG Impacts of dams The Mekong should naturally appear brown due to high sediment levels. As sediment is increasingly blocked or taken from the Mekong, the river will likely turn blue more often in the dry season, as was the case in the 2019 drought and more recently in February 2021. Low river levels in recent years have meant an abundance of green algae blooms, the effects of which are as yet unknown.

Prospects for the future of the Mekong’s fisheries remain grim. According to the MRC’s development scenarios mapped out in 2018, the total weight of fish in the Lower Mekong Basin will fall by 40-80% by 2040, while sediment in the Mekong could be reduced by 67-97%. The fisheries sector, the report states, is likely to decline substantially in all four lower Mekong countries. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/energy/what-are-the-impacts-of-dams-on-the-mekong-river/  (01 July 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Landmark bill to boost dam removal nationwide Bipartisan legislation would deliver $24 billion (to be spent over 5 yrs) to rehabilitate, retrofit, or remove America’s 90,000 dams. Hydropower may be low-emission but comes with a high price for river health. The impacts of climate change — felt first & hardest on rivers and water resources as floods & droughts — threaten fragile ecosystems, public health & safety, cultural heritage, our economy & our future. Restoring healthy, free-flowing rivers must be a top priority. https://www.americanrivers.org/2021/07/supercharging-river-restoration-a-landmark-bill-to-boost-dam-removal-nationwide/  (09 July 2021)

Drone footage of Salton Sea shows California drought impact Drone footage taken at the Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake, shows the dramatic effects of the state’s worst drought since 1977. Its receding shoreline has caused an ecological crisis as exposed silt is carried into surrounding areas. From the air, brown furrowed fields stretch as far as the eye can see and the sun beats down on an almost evaporated canal that looks like a gaping wound. Dusty former boat launches have fallen into disuse, too far from the waters they once served. Drought has scorched much of the U.S. West, prompting farmers in California to leave fields fallow and triggering water and energy rationing in several states. https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/science/drone-footage-salton-sea-california-drought-7393061/  (07 July 2021)

‘Heat dome’ probably killed 1bn marine animals’  More than 1 billion marine animals along Canada’s Pacific coast are likely to have died from last week’s record heatwave, experts warn, highlighting the vulnerability of ecosystems unaccustomed to extreme temperatures. The “heat dome” that settled over western Canada and the north-western US for five days pushed temperatures in communities along the coast to 40C (104F) – shattering longstanding records and offering little respite for days. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/08/heat-dome-canada-pacific-northwest-animal-deaths  (08 July 2021)

Surge in Coastal Flooding by 2030s Led by the members of the NASA Sea Level Change Science Team from the University of Hawaii, the new study shows that high tides will exceed known flooding thresholds around the country more often. What’s more, the floods will sometimes occur in clusters lasting a month or longer, depending on the positions of the Moon, Earth, and the Sun. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/study-projects-a-surge-in-coastal-flooding-starting-in-2030s  (07 July 2021)

Healthy Rivers in Agricultural Landscapes Farms, ranches, and rangelands occupy 44% of US land, making the farmers and ranchers who work these lands and use this water to irrigate them vital voices in any water-related conversations – both because of their water usage and their vast working knowledge of local lands and waterways.

In recent years we’ve heard from our network members that this is a gap; water protectors across the country want skills to engage farmers and ranchers. There is a deep desire to build trust and foster innovation with the goal of improving the health of rivers within working lands and engaging farmers and ranchers in projects and programs related to healthy rivers and clean water. https://www.rivernetwork.org/listening-to-the-network-for-healthy-rivers-in-agricultural-landscapes/  (25 June 2021)

Opinion Many Rivers, Too Many Dams by Philip Fearnside Brazil has other ways to generate electricity — offshore turbines and solar power, for instance — with the existing hydropower plants available to provide backup. There are also ample opportunities to cut electricity use through conservation and to redirect the economy from industries that are electricity-intensive, like aluminum production, for export.

Amazonia’s free-flowing rivers are the lifeblood of its biologically rich forests and the Indigenous peoples who have depended on them for centuries. Treating Amazonia as a sacrifice zone for resource extraction is unjust and unnecessary. The human and environmental costs are too high. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/02/opinion/amazon-illegal-dams-brazil.html  (02 Oct. 2020)

GERD Ethiopia begins second stage of filling mega-dam The United Nations Security Council is set to meet July 8, 2021 on Ethiopia’s mega-dam project, which has sparked fears in downstream Sudan and Egypt over their water supplies, diplomats said. Both nations have been pushing Ethiopia to ink a binding deal over the filling and operation of its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile that broke ground in 2011.

Ethiopia says it has started the next phase of filling a controversial mega-dam on the Nile River, Egyptian authorities said Monday, raising tensions ahead of an upcoming UN Security Council on the issue. Egypt said the move was “a violation of international laws and norms that regulate projects built on the shared basins of international rivers,” and had expressed its “firm rejection of this unilateral measure”, its irrigation ministry said in a statement late Monday (July 5). https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/news/ethiopia-begins-second-stage-of-filling-mega-dam-on-the-nile-angering-egypt-3462592  (06 July 2021)

Egypt on Thursday (July 8) urges the UN Security Council to demand a binding agreement to the parties involved in the dispute over the construction of the GERD in Ethiopia. This was announced by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who participates sday at a meeting of that United Nations body to analyze the issue.

During an interview with an international agency, quoted by the local press, the foreign minister said that after 10 years of talks, it was not possible to ensure that water continues to flow downstream in sufficient quantities towards Sudan and Egypt. Shoukry said that Cairo and Khartoum requested the Security Council meeting in view of ‘the existential threat’ the GERD represents for the inhabitants of both countries. https://www.plenglish.com/index.php?o=rn&id=69291&SEO=egypt-wants-binding-agreement-with-ethiopia-on-dam  (08 July 2021)

UN Security Council members on Thursday (July 8) backed African Union mediation efforts between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan in a dispute over the operation of a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, urging the parties to resume talks. Egypt and Sudan both called on the UN Security Council to help resolve the dispute after Ethiopia earlier this week began filling the reservoir behind GERD for a second year. Ethiopia is opposed to any Security Council involvement. https://www.wionews.com/world/un-security-council-backs-african-union-bid-to-broker-ethiopia-dam-deal-397027  (09 July 2021)

Reasons behind the diplomatic standoff: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/7/8/explainer-ethiopias-massive-nile-dam  (08 July 2021)

Turkey Gas up, hydropower down A tangible drought in Turkey, particularly since the end of last year, has changed power generation dynamics as natural gas plants boosted their share to replace falling output from hydropower plants.

The amount of water in Turkey’s main dams fell by 27% in 2020 compared to the previous year. In the first five months of this year, the amount of water in the main dams dropped by 50% to 24.3 bcm compared to the same period of last year.

The share of hydropower plants during this period was 21.7%, while natural gas power plants generated 27.3% of the total electricity output. Imported coal and lignite plants had a share of 31.9% in the January-May 2021 period. https://www.dailysabah.com/business/energy/gas-up-hydropower-down-drought-changes-power-dynamics-in-turkey  (09 July 2021)

UK Rivercide campaign Live investigative documentary on July 14th revealing the shocking state of Britain’s rivers – by George Monbiot & Franny Armstrong https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/frannyarmstrong/rivercide-stretch-campaign/ 

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 05 July 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 28 June 2021  

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

2 thoughts on “DRP NB 12 July 2021: Will Bhupender Yadav improve India’s Environment Governance?

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/12/the-government-must-take-responsibility-for-the-great-barrier-reef-and-stop-looking-for-someone-else-to-blame

    In 2014, Greg Hunt, then the environment minister, launched a successful diplomatic lobbying effort to try to convince committee members not to place the Great Barrier Reef on the “in danger” list. Australia managed to avoid the in-danger listing of the reef three times from 2012 to 2014, as evidence accumulated of the deterioration of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Each time the committee gave the Australian government one more chance.

    In 2015, a long-term sustainability plan to ensure the survival of the reef was unveiled and the committee finally welcomed Australia’s efforts to protect our global icon.

    Now in 2021, after three severe coral bleaching events fuelled by global heating and very slow progress in meeting the water quality targets promised to the committee, another diplomatic assault is in full swing. This is the most egregious aspect of the current controversy, other than the escalating risk to the reef.

    Important point is they are all the same, once in power. Still we can hope for better(in India).

    Like

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