DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 16 August 2021: Landslides in Himachal worsened due to mindless “development” projects

The numerous landslides this monsoon in Kinnaur and other districts of Himachal Pradesh and other Himalayan states have been literally deadly, killing hundreds of people this monsoon. Mindless “development” projects including Hydropower projects, indiscriminate building of roads in mountains, blasting, tunnelling, mining, dumping of waste into the rivers and valleys, deforestation, building townships, all without any credible impact assessment, public consultations, appraisal, monitoring or compliance. While climate change (another anthropogenic factor) leading to more frequent events of high intensity rainfall is worsening the landslide potential of the area, what we are doing in the name of developments is multiplying the disaster potential several fold. The governments at centre and states and judiciary can continue to be blind to this realities, but local people cannot. The local communities in Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti have been opposing such projects strongly and such protests are bound to increase and spread. One hopes this pushes the governments and judiciary to act urgently.

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog Landslide DAM on Chenab in Himachal Google Earth imagery shows scars of several landslips, landslide along the river in the past. The incident reveals how vulnerable is Chenab valley to such disasters where series of hydro power projects are planned on Chenab and key tributaries like Meyar, Chandra, Bhaga rivers.

The site of the proposed 102 MW Rashil hydro project lies about 6 km upstream to the landslide lake site. Currently there is 4.5 MW Thirot hydro project in operation on a right bank tributary of Chenab about 7 km downstream. The other proposed hydro projects can be seen in the map below. https://sandrp.in/2021/08/14/landslide-dam-on-chenab-river-in-himachal-pradesh/  (14 Aug. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Villagers up ante against HEP Kinnaur district is known as the powerhub of the state with several hydropower projects operational or proposed. It has been hit by several landslides, the last such incident happened yesterday August 11. Villagers blame the hydropower dams and have reignited their protests against these projects. https://en.gaonconnection.com/himachal-pradesh-kinnaur-landslide-hydro-power-projects-water-trees-environment-himalayas-climate-change-floods/  (12 Aug. 2021)

A study carried out in Kinnaur between 2012 and 2016 found that a push for hydropower projects in the name of clean energy brought rapid land-use changes that adversely impacting local terrestrial ecosystems and communities inhabiting them. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/himachal-pradesh-hills-creak-under-climate-crisis-construction-101628726630891.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

In the wake of the disasters in Kinnaur, there is a new wave of protests against hydropower projects. Sumit Mahar goes live from Moorang tehsil speaking to youth from the affected area of the proposed 804 MW Jangi Thopan HEP in the Sutlej valley. https://fb.watch/7oQLL471EY/

Webinar on increasing hydro disasters. https://fb.watch/7oSqNF-c9H/

Uttarakhand L&T to sell Singoli Bhatwari HEP Larsen & Toubro on Wednesday (Aug. 11) announced the divestment of 100 per cent stake in the 3×33 MW (99 MW) run-of-the-river ‘Singoli-Bhatwari’ hydroelectric project owned by its subsidiary L&T Uttaranchal Hydropower Limited (LTUHPL) to ReNew Power Services Pvt Ltd for Rs 985 crore. Renew Power Services is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ReNew Power Pvt Ltd. https://daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=862223&fbclid  (11 Aug. 2021)

Arunachal Pradesh Govt signs pact with NEEPCO Govton Aug 14 signed a MoU with NEEPCO for two hydropower projects: 90 MW project in Tawang and 120 MW project in West Kameng. https://in.news.yahoo.com/arunachal-pradesh-signs-pact-neepco-144714821.html  (14 Aug. 2021) 

Report Droughts shrink hydropower Severe droughts are drying up rivers and reservoirs vital for the production of zero-emissions hydropower in several countries around the globe, in some cases leading governments to rely more heavily on fossil fuels.

– The emerging problems with hydropower production in places like the United States, China and Brazil represent what scientists and energy experts say is going to be a long-term issue for the industry as climate change triggers more erratic weather and makes water access less reliable. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/inconvenient-truth-droughts-shrink-hydropower-pose-risk-to-global-push-to-clean-energy/85295072  (13 Aug. 2021)

The Spanish government has launched an inquiry after it emerged that a power company drained two reservoirs during a heatwave and drought in order to profit from exceptionally high electricity prices. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/15/spain-launches-inquiry-after-dams-drained-for-profit-amid-heatwave  (15 Aug. 2021)

LANDSLIDES

Himachal Pradesh Kinnaur Landslide13 people have died and around 30 are missing after a landslide in Kinnaur on Wednesday (Aug. 10) afternoon left several vehicles buried under debris. A state-run bus, a truck and a few cars were trapped after the landslide blocked the Reckong Peo-Shimla highway. The bus, travelling to Shimla, reportedly had 40 people on board. Some 25-30 people are trapped or buried, an official told Reuters. Ten people have been rescued and are in hospital. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/landslide-in-himachal-pradeshs-kinnaur-several-feared-buried-as-some-vehicles-trapped-under-debris-news-agency-pti-2507901  (12 Aug. 2021)

The landslide and shooting of stones occurred at around 11.50 am in Chaura village on national highway number five in Nigulsari of Nichar tehsil in Kinnaur district. https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-himachal-pradesh-landslide-hits-bus-carrying-over-30-passengers/391121  (11 Aug. 2021) CM said over 50 trapped in landslide; rescue ops underway. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/live-updates-landslide-in-himachal-pradeshs-kinnaur-district/liveblog/85236062.cms  (12 Aug. 2021) The landslide had hit about 200 meters patch of the National Highway-5 – about 10 kilometres away from Bhavanagar. https://himachalwatcher.com/2021/08/12/kinnaur-tragedy-hrtc-bus-wreckage-found-death-toll-rises-to-13-and-likely-rise/  (12 Aug. 2021)

Manshi Asher of Himdhara Collective, an environment group based in Himachal, summarised these as three factors that made the region vulnerable to disasters: fragile ecology, climate change and unplanned development. “Kinnaur, located in greater Himalayas, is inheritably fragile. Due to a lot of tectonic movement the region is highly sensitive seismically and geologically,” said Asher. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kinnaur-disaster-highlights-climate-change-unscientific-development-risks-101628712331817.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

Landslides have been a way of life in Himachal, but the level of human exposure to risk of disaster had remained low due to the state’s low population density. However, due to a big push for construction of infrastructure and roads, and the resultant increase in human settlements and road traffic, more lives are in danger than ever before, especially during rains. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/tragedy-in-the-hills-296820  (13 Aug. 2021)

Mining to blame for road cave-in Limestone quarrying, which was underway at the toe of the slope at Kali Dhank till 2019, triggered the July 30 cave-in of 150-m stretch of the Paonta Sahib-Shillai road (NH-707), reveals a preliminary study by the Geological Survey of India (GSI). A three-member GSI team, which visited the site on August 3-4, submitted its report to the district administration on Sunday (Aug. 8).

It states, “The slope was weakened due to mining near its toe. Recent heavy rains triggered the incident.” Sounding a word of caution, the study suggests that the new road alignment must avoid a distress rock mass stretch found at the downstream shoulder of landslide near the road level. A minor slope failure has been recorded at its toe. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/mining-to-blame-for-himachal-pradesh-road-cave-in-294938  (09 Aug. 2021)

Climate change leading to landslides? High-intensity rainfall in a shorter period of time has been recorded in several parts of the country including the hilly regions. With an increase in rainfall, more water seeps into the surface than it can hold. This deteriorates the rocks and surface features as water stagnates due to poor drainage. Growing construction activity and concretisation has led to a stoppage of drainage of water downslope.

“17 per cent of Indian landmass is affected by landslide and most of it is triggered by rainfall along with human activities. If the water that is accumulating in the slope, does not drain out, it poses more pressure and there is a big chance of a landslide. Therefore, there should be no over storage of water in slopes and we should look at placing modes of drainage so that the water moves out,” Professor Sharda Prasad told. https://www.indiatoday.in/science/story/landslides-in-india-climate-change-global-warming-geological-survey-environment-1840456-2021-08-13   (13 Aug. 2021)

Uttarakhand, Himachal see huge rise in landslides One hundred-seventy and counting. That’s the number of landslide incidents, claiming at least 46 lives, in two hill states of north India Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh this year. What’s worrying is that the frequency and number of such disasters have, of late, seen an exponential rise, with Uttarakhand recording an alarming 2900 per cent increase in past five years while in Himachal it has doubled in 2021 from last year.

According to data from Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Department, there were 33 landslide incidents in the state in 2015, claiming 12 lives. The number went up to an alarming 972 in 2020, with 25 deaths. This year, 132 incidents have taken place so far, claiming 12 lives.

It’s no coincidence that both states are witnessing an increasingly aggressive push to a developmental model that completely disregards the fragile Himalayan topography and ecology. Proliferation of dams, unregulated construction activity in name of expansion of road networks and mindless cutting of trees for such infrastructure projects, according to environmentalists, have made the mountains vulnerable and prone to landslides.

While the multiple dams built in Uttarakhand were already believed to have caused massive environmental damage, the Char Dham Pariyojana (CDP) and the Rishikesh-Karnprayag Railway Line project have entailed deep cutting into the hill slopes and felling of trees to the extent that is recipe for an unmitigated disaster. Experts point out that insufficient geological studies pertaining to fragility of Uttarakhand Himalayas and inefficiency of expertise and knowledge in government machinery are key factors behind the unscientific approach adopted while executing such projects. https://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2021/aug/15/uttarakhand-himachal-pradeshsee-huge-rise-in-landslides-2344776.html  (15 Aug. 2021) 

DISASTERS

Himachal Pradesh 218 People Died During Monsoon Season: Govt A total of 218 people have died and 12 are missing in the state in the last three weeks this monsoon season, Jal Shakti Minister Mahender Singh Thakur informed the state Assembly on Wednesday (Aug. 10). Replying to a discussion on climate change on the third day of the ongoing monsoon session, Mr Thakur said the state suffered a total loss of ₹ 451.56 crore due to damaged roads, water lines and power transmission since June 13.

A maximum of 34 people died in Shimla, followed by 25 in Kangra, 23 in Sirmaur, 21 in Chamba, 19 in Mandi, 18 in Lahaul-Spiti, 17 in Kullu, 16 in Solan, 14 each in Una and Kinnaur, 12 in Bilaspur and five in Hamirpur from June 13 to July 3, he added. Several roads, bridges, PWD property, water lines had been fully or partially damaged due to heavy rains, he said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/218-people-died-during-monsoon-season-in-rain-ravaged-himachal-government-2502732  (04 Aug. 2021)

CLOUD BURSTS

उत्तराखंड  फूलों की घाटी में बादल फटा  सुप्रसिद्ध फूलों की घाटी में देर रात (Aug. 9) बादल फटने की खबर सामने आई है। इस वजह से ग्लेशियर पॉइंट के आसपास का पैदल रास्ता बंद हो गया है। बामणधोंण में पुल बहने के साथ ही करीब 20 मीटर रास्ता बह गया है। बादल फटने से रास्ते कई जगह पर क्षतिग्रस्त हो गए हैं। ऐसे में अगर सैलानियों को आगे जाने दिया तो बड़ी दिक्कतों का सामना करना पड़ सकता है। फिलहाल फूलों की घाटी की यात्रा पर रोक लगाई गई है। https://www.rajyasameeksha.com/uttarakhand/18639-cloud-burst-in-the-valley-of-flowers  (09 Aug. 2021)

पौड़ी में बादल फटने से भारी नुकसान पौड़ी जनपद के चाकी सैंण तहसील खिर्सू ब्लॉक में बादल फटने की खबर है। जानकारी के मुताबिक देर रात (Aug. 6) कंडारस्यूं पट्टी के नौगांव में बादल फटने से दो-तीन गौशालाएं पूरी तरह से ध्वस्त हो गईं। इससे गौशालाओं में बंधी 45 बकरियां, 2 बैल, 6 गाय की मलबे में दबने से मौत हो गई।  https://devbhoomisamvad.com/garhwal/cloudburst-in-khirsu-block-of-pauri-garhwal-many-cowsheds-were-demolished/  (06 Aug. 2021)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k475sjMzQpA

How cloudburst occurs In this video we’ll learn how cloudburst occurs. They occur frequently in districts of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand resulting in extreme rainfall, thunderstorm and flash floods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvjONReoSnc (14 July 2021)

DAMS

Mekedatu Project Tamil Nadu moves SC against NGT order In May, NGT’s southern bench had set up a committee of representatives from the Union environment ministry, Cauvery water management authority, Karnataka’s Cauvery Neeravari Nigam and forest department to ascertain the genuineness of the allegations on the preliminary work. The Karnataka government filed a review before the NGT’s principal bench in Delhi in June. “The tribunal disposed of the review application filed by Karnataka based on the assertion made in the application, without affording an opportunity to the appellant (TN government) to file a reply,” the petition said.

The case was disposed of on the first day of hearing on June 17. TN came to know about the application being listed before the NGT and requested the papers to be served by counsel appearing for Karnataka, which were served at 9.45am. When the matter was taken up by the principal bench, counsel for TN sought time to study the papers and file a reply. However, no time was granted, and the bench proceeded, the TN petition filed in the Supreme Court said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/tanil-nadu-govt-moves-sc-against-ngt-order-on-mekedatu-dam/articleshow/85260053.cms  (12 Aug. 2021)

Polavaram Project Start of projects sans EC irks NGT The green tribunal on Monday (Aug. 9) reserved its orders after completing the hearing on the petitions filed accusing violations of rules in Polavaram, Purushothapatnam and Pattiseema projects. The tribunal gave two weeks for filing written submissions and announced that order will be uploaded on or before September 30. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/aug/10/start-of-projects-sans-ec-irks-natl-green-tribunal-2342565.html  (10 Aug. 2021)

MEIL commences Lower Cofferdam work Interestingly the project site was in spate of flood waters till recently. The officials decided to go ahead with the project work little after the flood receded in the area. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/andhra-pradesh-meil-commences-lower-cofferdam-work-at-polavaram-project/articleshow/85179357.cms  (09 Aug. 2021)

Odisha Protest against water diversion project  The Rs 754-crore mega project envisages diverting water from the Kharosotra in Kendrapara district to 0.5 million people in neighbouring Bhadrak district. These people live in 91 Gram Panchayats across 4 blocks in Bhadrak. The water is being diverted for drinking purposes. But locals say the project will destroy agriculture in 220 villages on the river as it will dry up. Some 0.4 million people live in these villages spread across the Aul and Rajkanika blocks of Kendrapara. “The government should first build a barrage on the river to store the water before diverting the river for this project,” Debendra Sharma, the convener of Kharosotra River Bachao Samiti, said. Sabita Baraj, the joint secretary of the Samiti said the project was a ploy to divert water to multinational companies and big business houses to run their plants and industries.

Hemant Rout, an environmentalist and the secretary of Gahirmatha Marine Turtle and Mangrove Conservation Society, said the project would cause an ‘ecological disaster’ in the nearby Bhitarkanika National Park. Rout said: The salinity level will increase after the diversion of the water from the river. Farmers will be the worst sufferers as they will not be able to continue irrigation smoothly. The area’s water-based biodiversity, including fisheries will face extinction.  He noted that it was illegal on the part of the state government to launch the project without obtaining environment clearance and without the approval of the National Wildlife Board. He added that the human-crocodile conflict in riverside villages would increase as more crocodiles would stray into the Kharosotra from the waterbodies of Bhitarkanika due to an increase in salinity level. However, state officials denied these allegations. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/protest-against-water-diversion-project-near-bhitarkanika-turns-violent-78440  (12 Aug. 2019)

Sardar Sarovar Dam Those displaced by development projects have nowhere to return: Nandini Oza The archivist and activist on curating the oral history of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and its importance as a movement of the marginalised. https://www.thehindu.com/society/those-displaced-by-development-projects-have-nowhere-to-return-nandini-oza/article35891772.ece  (13 Aug. 2021)

MoEF Relevant decisions from FAC minutes July 27, 2021:

1. Diversion of 656.347 ha. of forest land in favour of Executive Engineer, WR Division, Kota for Navnera Barrage across River Kalisindh Near Village Abra Tehsil Digod District, Kota (Rajasthan) under Eastern Rajasthan: APPROVED

2. Use of 113.075 ha of forest land for Karapani Irrigation Project with construction of Dam at village Barghat & Dhanijam in Lahunipada Tahsil under Bonai Forest Division in Sundergarh District in the State of Odisha: APPROVED

3. Diversion of 301.96 ha forest land for MP-30 Gandhi Sagar off-stream Pump Storage Project (1440 MW) by Greenko Energies Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad in Neemuch Forest Division, Neemuch Dist of Madhya Pradesh: APPROVED http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/81111121112121Minutes.pdf

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Krishna-Godavari Water Dispute Telangana treads cautiously Though the state govt has been writing letters to the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) insisting to call for a full board meeting to discuss on the gazette notification and its objections and concerns, the government has not been able to take up the issue with the Centre.

Soon after the gazette notification almost a month ago, CM K Chandrasekhar Rao called an emergency meeting with irrigation officials and TRS MPs separately decided to raise the issue in Parliament and also meet Union minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and if possible PM Narendra Modi apart from exploring the ways to file a case in Supreme Court. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/t-govt-treads-cautiously-on-river-water-disputes-with-ap/articleshow/85311986.cms  (14 Aug. 2021)

Restrain Andhra from diverting Srisailam waters Telangana Irrigation Department’s Engineer-in-Chief (General), C Muralidhar, has contended that the KC Canal lift irrigation scheme at Muchumarri, the link canal connecting HNSS LIS at Malyala with KC Canal, and the escape channel from Banakacherla cross regulator for feeding the KC Canal ayacut are illegal and cannot be permitted. Muralidhar argued that Andhra Pradesh can draw only 39 TMC water from Srisailam but by taking up unauthorised lift projects which have no allocation, it is drawing excess water. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/restrain-andhra-diverting-srisailam-waters-telangana-krishna-river-board-153844  (13 Jan. 2021)

Prahalad Singh Patel, Minister of State for Jal Shakti, said the Telangana government didn’t heed the directions of the KRMB to stop further release of water for generation of power from Srisaialm Left Power House, Nagarjuna Sagar dam and Pulichintala project. In a written reply to a question from YSRC MP V Viajasai Reddy in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, the minister said though the KRMB has asked Telangana government to comply with the water release order issued by it, the same was not followed. The KRMB has written two letters, one on June 17 and again on July 15. 

– Prahalad Singh explained that in response to the letter from the KRMB on July 15, director (hydel) TSGENCO on July 16 in a letter informed that they are following the instructions of the Telangana government in generation of hydroelectric power, following which the KRMB wrote a letter to the Telangana government asking it comply with its water release orders. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/aug/10/ts-didnt-heed-krmb-directions-centre-in-rs-2342564.html  (10 Aug. 2021)

The decision of the Telangana state Cabinet to get the Srisailam Left Bank Canal (SLBC) tunnel works moving again, after a three-year hiatus, appears to have injected a fresh dose of enthusiasm among irrigation department officials overseeing the project, as well as engineers of the Jaypee Group, the company executing the tunnel works.

– The tunnel, when completed in about two to two-and-a-half years, will be one of the longest in the world. Tunnel 1 with a length of 43.93km will be the fifth longest tunnel in the world, and the longest irrigation tunnel to have been excavated from only two sides. The tunnel is designed to carry water from the Srisailam reservoir to Nalgonda district with the under-construction Nakkalagandi reservoir, also known as the Dindi balancing reservoir, acting as the receiving station for the water. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/090821/cabinet-ordered-power-restoration.html  (09 Aug. 2021)

Andhra to list out ‘contentious’ projects The state government has agreed to submit details of all ‘unobjectionable’ projects listed in the notification for KRMB and GRMB as per the timelines fixed by the respective boards. The government, however, reiterated that it would like to wait for further communication from the Union Jal Shakti ministry before sharing details of the projects for which it has reservations and sought amendments in the principal notification.

The two boards, which held an emergency meeting in Hyderabad on Monday (Aug. 9), directed the governments of AP and Telangana to comply with the notification issued by the Union Jal Shakti ministry and ready the organisational roadmap as they wanted to enforce the notification as per schedule. The board chiefs stated that the ministry has already requested the Union home ministry to spare personnel from CISF to oversee the safety and security of the irrigation projects in Krishna and Godavari basins in the Telugu states. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/ap-to-list-out-contentious-projects-to-river-boards/articleshow/85189437.cms  (10 Aug. 2021)

KRMB team inspects RLIS site A team of officials from Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) inspected Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS) site in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district on Wednesday (Aug. 10). The 3-member team was headed by KRMB member-secretary DM Raipure. Raipure told reporters the team will submit its report to NGT by August 16. “We have inspected RLIS site. We can’t disclose our findings as we need to submit the report to NGT,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/krmb-team-inspects-rayalaseema-scheme-site-in-andhra-pradesh/articleshow/85260680.cms  (12 Aug. 2021)

Confirming the apprehensions of the Telangana on the RLIS, the KRMB inspection team, in its report submitted to NGT, said the works undertaken at the site were in excess than what was, in general, required for the purpose of the preparations of DPR as per the ministry of water resources guidelines. The team inspected the approach channel, forebay, pumphouse, pipeline, delivery cistern and link canal. The report mentioned that due to the submergence of the approach channel, the team could not ascertain the extent of excavation undertaken in the approach channel. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/140821/krmb-rayalaseema-lift-irrigation-scheme-work-bigger.html  (14 Aug. 2021)

IRRIGATION

West Bengal Canal revamp plan for Bagjola, Kestopur A comprehensive plan for Bagjola and Kestopur canals is being prepared by the irrigation department that will include the dredging of the canals. The Central Water Commission has put its seal of approval on the plan to raise the discharge capacity of the pump house at Kulti outfall off Bagjola canal from 1,650 cusec to 4,000 cusec.

Plans are also afoot to set up new STPs, said officials, adding that the stretches along the canals may be fenced off at the places, where garbage is dumped, thus clogging the canal that is losing its capacity to flush off the rain water. This causes waterlogging in Bidhannagar, Rajarhat, South Dum Dum and New Town. The 38km Bagjola canal, which carries water all along BT Road before entering Rajarhat, is the main drainage outlet for South Dum Dum, New Town and Bidhannagar areas. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/canal-revamp-plan-for-bagjola-kestopur/articleshow/85254003.cms  (12 Aug. 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Mumbai SC instructs BMC to stop polluting water bodies The Supreme Court on Friday (Aug. 13) declined to stay an order of the NGT, dated October 2020, which rapped the BMC for discharge of raw sewage into city creeks, rivers and drains. The SC said prescribed pollution norms are being violated, and directed BMC to expedite compliance with NGT’s orders which includes paying environmental compensation to the tune of ₹34 crore, in addition to future penalties.

BMC had filed a civil appeal before the SC in March, seeking a stay on NGT’s directions issued in response to PIL by NGO Vanashakti. The Apex court also directed that within a period of two weeks, the commissioner shall file an affidavit before NGT “categorically indicating the steps which have been taken to comply with the directions of NGT, particularly with regard to ensuring compliance with the requisite standards for the discharge of effluents including municipal waste and sewage.”

At present, only 1 of the 8 operational STP – the 37 MLD in Colaba – in the city is compliant with the CPCB latest discharge standards. The existing 2,025-km-long sewer network services only 84% of Mumbai’s developed area and 68% of the city’s population, as per BMC. Due to these shortcomings, there are still 93 openings across the city and suburbs which continue to discharge untreated sewage directly into creeks and drains. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/sc-upholds-ngt-order-instructs-bmc-to-take-steps-to-stop-polluting-water-bodies-101628959628359.html  (14 Aug. 2021)

Musi; Hyderabad Musi remains among most polluted river River Musi has once again earned the dubious distinction of being named among the ‘34 most polluted river stretches’. “Every year, these officials pull off an elaborate stunt. Before the arrival of officials for inspection, including from NGT, the industries shut off their discharge into the river and collect clean samples. But, we have to live with the pollution day in and day out,” B Shankar, a resident of Edulabad said.  While the CPCB, and SPCBs are expected to monitor industries with respect to effluent discharge standards and take action for non-compliance, it is a farce, say residents.

The government has been maintaining that Musi would be developed on the lines of any other major river and has even set aside a budget of Rs 2,500 crore for the purpose. Based on the growth in population in the Musi watershed area over the last five decades, the total sewage generation is estimated to be around 1,625 MLD by 2029. The present sewage treatment capacity is 725.8 MLD, said an official from TSPCB. Apart from Musi the other rivers feature in the list are Manjeera, Nakkavagu, Karakavagu, Maner, Godavari, Kinnersani and Krishna. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/lifestyle/environment/080821/musi-remains-among-the-most-polluted-river-stretches.html  (08 Aug. 2021)

17 new STPs to come up in 2 years “We have informed the agency to complete the works in two years. The agency shall also take care of works (O&M) for 15 years,” said an HMWSSB official. These STPs are being installed along River Musi on the Kukatpally Nala catchment and Hussain Sagar catchment. Once these STPs are operational, the long pending issue including sewage discharge into the Musi, Hussain Sagar and their connecting water channels will end, said an official.

The total project cost of setting up 17 STPs is Rs 1,280.87 crore which includes the STPs cost of Rs 766.22 crore and O&M cost of Rs 514.65 crore. As per HMWSSB records, 1,950 MLD of sewage is generated every day in the city and the 25 existing STPs in GHMC limits are treating 772 MLD of sewerage. The 17 new STPs being installed will treat 376.5 MLD of waste. https://telanganatoday.com/17-new-sewerage-plants-to-come-up-in-ghmc  (09 Aug. 2021)

RIVERS

Kerala Greens fear HC order will set bad precedent “It was after two-year-long intense fight by environmental activists and local residents that the government acquired 270 acres in Thusharagiri citing it as ecologically fragile land (EFL). Now, the court has ruled in favour of four land owners and ordered to give back the 24 acres. The court verdict will soon propel others as well to seek legal measures,” said T V Rajan, state secretary of All Kerala River Protection Committee. The government had acquired ecologically fragile land from 67 other owners in Thusharagiri.

Baby Kottupalli, a farmer and green activist, said the two waterfalls at Thusharagiri (Mazhavil and Irattumukku), the path to the tourist spot and ticket counter will be included in the 24 acres of land that the court has ordered to give back to the owners. “If the land is given back, the entire biodiversity of Thusharagiri will be in peril. The Chalipuzha river, which hosts the international kayaking competition annually, originates from the waterfalls. A comprehensive study of the rich wildlife and flora and fauna of Thusharagiri is yet to be undertaken. Further, the two small hydroelectric projects of KSEB-Chembukadavu 1, 2 are situated just a kilometre below the Irattamukku waterfall,” said Baby. The annual kayaking event, being held with the participation of kayakers from foreign countries, had put Kozhikode on the international sporting calendar. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/aug/12/greens-fear-kerala-hc-order-to-return-land-to-private-owners-will-set-bad-precedent-2343782.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

YAMUNA Delhi 13 illegal jeans dyeing units sealed Officials of DPCC, EDMC, BSES and revenue department conducted a joint inspection on Friday (Aug. 6) on receiving a complaint that a large number of illegal jeans dyeing units are functional in Old Garhi Mendu village, the pollution control body said in a statement. During the inspection, 13 illegal jeans dyeing units were found operating in the area. These were sealed on the spot and power supply of each unit was also disconnected, it said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/13-illegal-jeans-dyeing-units-sealed-in-delhi/articleshow/85186876.cms  (09 Aug. 2021)

Another promise by DJB: Yamuna will be clean within 3 yrs “STP is being revamped with low cost and efficient interventions to boost the cleaning process. DJB should make efforts on war footing to clean Yamuna within the next three years,” Jain said at a meeting to review the progress on the work of cleaning the river. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/delhi-government-promises-to-clean-the-yamuna-river-within-three-years/war-footing/slideshow/85267494.cms  (12 Aug. 2021)

Haryana एसटीपी, सीइटीपी मानकों पर फेल पानीपत मेंऔद्योगिक इकाइयों से निकल रहा केमिकल युक्त पानी प्रदूषण का बड़ा कारण बनता जा रहा है। हालांकि इनके समाधान के लिए सीइटीपी लगाए गए हैं। 42 एमएलडी की क्षमता के दो सीइटीपी सेक्टर 29 में लगे हैं। साथ ही घरों से निकलने वाले गंदे पानी को साफ करने के लिए 7 एसटीपी लगाए जा चुके हैं। सिवाह में दो एसटीपी लगे हुए हैं। सीवर प्लांट के साथ सीइटीपी मानकों पर खरा नहीं उतर रहे हैं। यमुना भी प्रदूर्षित हो रही है। https://www.jagran.com/haryana/panipat-stp-cetp-not-meeting-the-standards-pcb-served-notices-21921271.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

एसटीपी की मशीनरी कमजोर कर रहा केमिकल औद्योगिक इकाइयों से निकल रहा केमिकल युक्त पानी प्रदूषण का बड़ा कारण बनता जा रहा है। हालांकि समाधान के लिए सीइटीपी लगाने की योजना तो बनी, लेकिन अरसा बीत जाने के बावजूद धरातल नहीं मिला। नतीजन सैकड़ों औद्योगिक इकाइयों से निकल रहा केमिकल लोगों की सेहत बिगाड़ने व यमुना को जहरीली करने का काम कर रहा है। साथ ही करोड़ों रुपये की लागत से बने सीवरेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट की मशीनरी को भी कमजोर रहा है। https://www.jagran.com/haryana/panipat-chemicals-of-industrial-units-spoiling-the-machinery-of-stp-in-yamunanagar-21909860.html  (09 Aug. 2021)

2 सीईटीपी और 3 एसटीपी फैला रहे प्रदूषण पानीपत मेंसेक्टर-29 पार्ट-2 की डाइंग इंडस्ट्रीज से जुड़े 2 सीईटीपी के साथ ही 3 एसटीपी से निकलने वाला पानी यमुना को प्रदूषित कर रहा है। राज्य प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड ने जल शक्ति मंत्रालय भारत सरकार और केंद्रीय प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड को जो रिपोर्ट भेजी है, उसमें इसका जिक्र है। इसके तहत सेक्टर-29 पार्ट-2 स्थित यूनिट-1 व 2 दोनों में बीओडी की मात्रा तय मानक से ज्यादा निकल रही है। दोनों यूनिट 21-21 एमएलडी की है। यह दिसंबर 2020 की रिपोर्ट है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/haryana/panipat/news/pollution-flowing-into-yamuna-from-2-cetp-and-3-stp-128240121.html  (Feb. 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Assam New snake species found The species is named due to its unique red marking on the back of the neck reminiscent of the red beauty mark adorning foreheads of Indian women, which is called bindi.  It was Das who first found a specimen of the species during a 2007 survey in and around Barail Hill Range in Cachar district of Assam. In subsequent years, 10 other individuals of the species, found at low elevations of below 100 m from sea level, were collected and studied.

The new snake species, Rhabdophis bindi has been discovered in Assam. (Photo Courtesy-Wildlife Institute of India)

“It took 14 years from the time it was first seen till it was classified as a new species because we had to compare the new one with all other closely related species found in different countries and had to study many specimens from across the world. It also took time to do genetic analysis of the species,” said Das. The last snake species discovered in Assam was a red striped one called Oligodon erythrorhachis, which was found in Jeypore area of Upper Assam in 1910 by British herpetologist Frank Wall. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/new-snake-species-found-in-assam-in-over-100-yrs-it-has-a-bindi-on-its-neck-101628996717123.html  (15 Aug. 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Tamil Nadu Small victory for Ennore fisherfolk In a small victory for Ennore fishermen, Tangedco began removing dredged mud and ash dumped in the Kosasthalaiyar and the backwaters. They moved court for an order to remove the material dumped in the last six months. A. Desingu of Kattukuppam said that after several protests against the dumping, they had no option but to go to court. “By completely blocking water flow, they have spoilt our livelihoods. They are constructing the coal belt conveyor across the river. They have built piles inside the river in locations where they have not obtained permission,” he said.

Around 8,000 families from eight villages, including Mugadhwarakuppam, Nettukuppam, Ennorekuppam, Thalangkuppam and Sivanpadaiveedukuppam, depend on fishing in the waterbodies. “It took them six months to dump the stuff and they would need more time to clear it,” he said. A senior official of Tangedco said the sand dumped for developing a temporary road for constructing bridges to carry the coal conveyor belt was being removed, as Electricity Minister V. Senthilbalaji had directed officials to study the possibility of utilising the bridges of the coal conveyor belt already under operation for the north Chennai thermal power stations. The official also pointed out that all construction activities under the two projects, including Ennore SEZ and NCTPS Stage 3, have been stopped temporarily. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-small-victory-for-ennore-fisherfolk/article35867487.ece  (12 Aug. 2021)

A report released by the Save Ennore Creek campaign on Tuesday (Aug. 3) said dredged sea sand dumped into Kosasthalaiyar river’s backwaters in Ennore allegedly by Tangecdo has high levels of toxic metals like Arsenic, cadmium, copper and chromium. Sand samples were taken in July and tested by the Healthy Energy India Initiative, a public health collective which documents pollution in Chennai, at the Chester Labnet in Oregon, US.

This is a serious environmental issue which affects the livelihood of local fishermen, the collective said. “The level of metals in the sea sand is higher than what it should be & is an indication of historical pollution in the estuary & river due to fly ash & coal handling,” said Pooja Kumar, part of the campaign. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/dredged-sea-sand-dumped-into-kosasthalaiyar-has-toxic-metals/articleshow/85018547.cms (4 Aug 2021)  

Sand Scavengers Living on the foggy cusp of land, sea, sand, and sky, ghost crabs are the beach clean-up crew, the vultures of sandy coastal ecosystems. https://sustain.round.glass/species/ghost-crabs/ 

SAND MINING

Andhra Pradesh 135 lorry drivers, cleaners rescued from Krishna River About 135 drivers and cleaners, who were engaged on sand lorries and tractors were rescued from Krishna River, when the flood level increased suddenly in the early hours on Saturday (Aug. 14). However, 132 lorries and two tractors were trapped in the river, and the rescue operations are on.

Water level in the river raised suddenly when the officials opened the gates at Munneru Vaagu in Telangana around midnight, the officials said. “The lorries and tractors went into Krishna River from Chevitikallu village in Kanchikacherla mandal, to load sand last night. Due to flash floods, all the drivers and workers along with the vehicles were caught in the flood,” Mr. Siddharth Kaushal told The Hindu. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/135-lorry-drivers-cleaners-rescued-from-krishna-river/article35908034.ece  (14 Aug. 2021)

Bihar Bhojpur cops launch 24×7 patrolling The police have arrested 74 persons engaged in illegal sand mining and seized more than 30 boats in the past six days. New SHOs have been posted at Koilwar, Barhara, Sandesh, Ajimabad and Chandi police stations under which illegal sand mining had been most rampant. The action has been initiated after the recent suspension of two IPS and many other officers, including the then SPs of Bhojpur and Aurangabad, Rakesh Kumar Dubey and Sudheer Kumar Porika, respectively, for their alleged nexus with the sand smugglers and their failure to curb the menace, resulting in huge loss to state exchequer.

But the sand smugglers are still trying their best to carry their operation. On Monday (Aug. 2), a police constable, Ratan Kumar, was injured in stone-pelting by the sand smugglers near Paharpur village under the Garhani police station area. The police had gone to intercept about 10 overloaded sand-laden tractors. Garhani SHO Santosh Kumar said: “An FIR has been lodged against the tractor owners and the drivers.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/bhojpur-cops-launch-24×7-patrolling-in-sone-to-check-illegal-sand-mining/articleshow/85047296.cms  (05 Aug. 2021)

Rajasthan NGT lens on Illegal sand mining The NGT has sought a report on a plea accusing private khatedari lease holders of excavating bajri from riverbeds and illegally issuing royalty rawannas. The reply has to be filed within four weeks. The order dated August 4 reads, “We deem it just and proper to call a report on the matter in issue in present application from a joint committee consisting of director mines and geology department (GoR, Udaipur), state level environment impact assessment authority, State Pollution Control Board.”

It was mentioned in the application that the khatedari lease holders were issuing rawannas for a distance of 600 to 700 km for a truck having a capacity of almost 20-30 tons whereas mineral allegedly being filled was hardly 2-3 tons simply to legitimise illegality. “The area of leases falls within 5km of the riverbeds, non-compliance of the sustainable sand mining guidelines 2020 issued by MoEF and CC, mining being undertaken in monsoon season, which creates a pit in khatedari land and stops the recharge/replenishment of the riverbed by the water being flown in the adjoining fields and permission of mining without replenishment study,” it said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/green-panel-lens-on-illegal-sand-mining/articleshow/85163663.cms  (09 Aug. 2021)

7 labourers feared dead in mine collapse Seven labourers, including three women, were feared dead when an illegal quartz mine in Bhilwara district, where they were working, caved in on Wednesday (Aug. 10). Two bodies were pulled out while five were buried deep under the rubble till late evening.

The mishap took place at an illegal mining site for quartz stones near Lachhuda village under the Asind Police Station area in Bhilwara. Though the Mines Department had seized the quarry and its equipment about three months ago, the owners restarted the operations after their release from jail last week. The villagers staged a protest after the accident, alleging that the administration had failed to take timely action to stop illegal mining despite being informed about the resumption of activities at the mining site. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/7-labourers-feared-dead-in-rajasthan-mine-collapse/article35867623.ece  (12 Aug. 2021)

Gujarat Limestone Mining Has Pitted Farmers Against Govt Limestone extraction in fertile agricultural lands in south Gujarat continues despite threats to the environment and livelihoods, farmers alleg. Companies have benefited from a change in mining regulations, loopholes in the environmental appraisal process and lax state action against pollution violations by Meenakshi Kapoor. https://www.indiaspend.com/gujarat/how-limestone-mining-has-pitted-gujarats-farmers-against-govt-765778  (06 Aug. 2021)

Goa Govt forms MDC to revive mining Last month, the Goa government passed the Goa Mineral Development Corporation Bill, 2021 aiming to revive mining operations in the coastal state. The bill follows the decision of the Supreme Court of India which dismissed review petitions against its 2018 order ruling against the state government’s decision to renew 88 mining leases. Civil society leaders fear that the government will sublease the contracts to mine owners, bringing the same people back. They also criticised that the new law does not address the concerns of the mining-affected communities. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/08/goa-forms-mineral-development-corporation-hopes-to-revive-mining/  (09 Aug. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Religious bodies protest over mining in scared Braj hills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3PtKPTxPiI  (05 Aug. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Great piece of work, highlighting the issues related to diamond mining in and around Panna Tiger Reserve. https://www.instagram.com/tv/CSbyZ7WBa4a/

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Smooth-coated otters spotted The otters were spotted and photographed by birders S Ramprasad and Sanjeev Balsara near Sector-16 in Kharghar, which is a popular birding area. Their presence has been documented in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts earlier. In 2017, the first-ever census of smooth-coated otters along Maharashtra coast pegged their population at around 500. The census had found between 437 and 591 otters across 12 creeks in Sindhudurg. In 2019, a pair of otters was seen in Roha, Raigad district.

Navi Mumbai-based environmentalist BN Kumar, who runs NatConnect Foundation and has been campaigning for the creation of a biodiversity protection plan, said, “This sighting is all the more reason for authorities to take stock of and find measures to protect such wildlife. We have created a list of 20 areas across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) including Kharghar creek that require a higher level of protection. We will present our findings to BNHS for their consideration this week.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/smoothcoated-otters-spotted-in-kharghar-creek-in-navi-mumbai-101628877596475.html   (13 Aug. 2021)

According to a study by Pune-based NGO Ela Foundation, there was a threat to otters habitat due to sand mining, dredgings, water pollution from pesticides and industrial waste. The pollution has led to high water turbidity in some creeks limiting their capacity to fish.  “The fresh sighting in Kharghar Creek is possibly the first time in several years that these otters have been seen so far north. It indicates that the area may have a healthy fish population. Further vigilance and study are required to know whether these otters were in Kharghar creek in search of food or if they are living there,” the report further quoted Rahul Khot, Assistant Director, Natural History Collection Department, BNHS. https://www.timesnownews.com/mumbai/article/mumbai-endangered-smooth-coated-otters-seen-in-navi-mumbai-s-kharghar-creek/798947  (14 Aug. 2021)

Report 4 more sites added to Ramsar list Four more Indian sites – two each from Haryana and Gujarat – have been recognised as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, taking the number of such sites in the country to 46, the Union Environment Ministry said on Saturday (Aug. 14). https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/four-more-indian-sites-added-to-ramsar-list-as-wetlands-of-international-importance/article35907804.ece  (14 Aug. 2021)

Details of four wetlands that have now been added under the Ramsar Convention.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/4-more-sites-in-india-added-to-ramsar-list-all-you-need-to-know-101628943420153.html  (14 Aug. 2021)

Haryana Sultanpur, Bhindawas wetlands near Delhi get Ramsar tag For the first time, two wetlands of Haryana — Sultanpur National Park in Gurugram and Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary in Jhajjar — have been included in the Ramsar list. The number of protected Ramsar sites in India has now gone up to 46, with two more from Gujarat being included this year.

The inclusion of the two wetlands was announced on the Ramsar secretariat’s website last week, while the state wildlife department said a final notification from the MoEF could come on August 15. Haryana has some 1,441 wetlands, but none were protected under the Ramsar treaty till now, according to data from the ministry. While Sultanpur National Park is spread across 353 acres, Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary covers more than 1,000 acres. Both wetlands are natural homes to a wealth of bird species and attract a large number of migratory birds every year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/sultanpur-bhindawas-wetlands-get-ramsar-tag-a-first-for-haryana/articleshow/85223346.cms  (11 Aug. 2021)

Gujarat Thol, Wadhwana in Ramsar’s list Thol Wildlife Sanctuary near Ahmedabad and Wadhwana wetland in Vadodara are among the four wetlands of the country that have been included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, the Union government said on Saturday (Aug. 15). With this, the number of Ramsar listed wetlands in Gujarat goes up to 3 and the listings come 9 year after Nalsarovar had earned the tag in 2012.

Located 40 km west of Ahmedabad city, Thol was constructed for irrigation in 1912. In 1988, it was declared as a wildlife sanctuary by the state government to protect the birdlife found in this open-water wetland site. Likewise, Wadhawana was also created as an irrigation dam in 1910 in Dabhoil taluka of Vadodara, some 40 km away from Vadodara city.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/4-more-indian-sites-added-to-ramsar-list-as-wetlands-of-international-importance-7453467/  (15 Aug. 2021)

Nalsarovar dirtiest but most vital wetland In its report prepared for the Rs 905 crore Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) fund for ecosystem restoration, the Forest department mentions that the Nalsarovar site is the worst polluted, and worst affected because of poaching and suffers from high infestation of invasive species. The department claims that Nalsarovar suffers major management issues which include, “terrestrialization, higher anthropogenic pressures –pollution, poaching, fishing –and higher dependency of local community on its natural resources.”

One of the five most vulnerable tribal communities of the state –the ‘Padhar’ — live in peripheral villages of Nalsarovar and they depend heavily on the resources of Nalsarovar for their day to day livelihood. Apart from this, the Ramsar wetland also faces major issues, and challenges for management include garbage, uncontrolled growth of reeds and weed, growth of Prosopis juliflora on the fringes of the wetland, poaching of birds, paucity of funds and staff for effective management of the site. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/nalsarovar-dirtiest-wetland-in-gujarat-but-most-vital/articleshow/85162614.cms  (09 Aug. 2021)  

Chandigarh Sukhna flood gate opened One of the three floodgates of Sukhna Lake was on Saturday (Aug. 14) opened at 1 pm after its water level reached near the danger mark of 1,163 feet. Due to rain in the city and catchment area of the lake, the water level reached 1,162.7 feet, just 5 inches below the danger mark. Earlier this week on Monday (Aug. 9), the department had to open the gate for nearly 1.15 hour when the water level had reached 1,162.5 feet.

The two floodgates had to be opened in August last year after the water level of the lake had crossed the danger mark. Before this, on September 24, 2018, incessant rain in the catchment area had forced officials to open two flood gates of the lake. At that time, the gates were opened after a gap of 10 years.  Last year, the floodgates were opened when the water level had reached 1,163.4 feet and gush of water led to flooding in the Baltana area of Mohali district. To avoid repeat of such a situation, the department had decided to release water in small amounts, said sources in the department. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/ut-again-opens-sukhna-flood-gate-after-water-level-reaches-near-danger-mark-297549  (14 Aug. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Irula tribe of Pichavaram is planting mangrove specie From being an obscure tribe living in extreme poverty, the Irulas have transformed into self-sufficient people with help from the MSSRF, the state government and other NGOs. They are now guardians of the Pichavaram Mangrove Forest, living in harmony with nature, a model for sustainability and conservation. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/environment/a-win-win-irula-community-prospers-with-the-mangrove-forests-of-pichavaram-7335841.html  (14 Aug. 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Karnataka New-age check dams built under MGNREGA cost less, give more The State government is promoting construction of new generation check dams across natural streams, rivulets and other waterbodies under the MGNREGA programme. Over 5,000 multiple arch buttress check dams (MACD) have come up under MGNREGA, 1,820 in the last two years. The project is unique because the design consumes less concrete and lasts longer than traditional stone masonry check dams. The cost of MACD is around 25% less than Reinforced Cement Concrete check dams. They harvest rain water, act as temporary impounding structures, and recharge the aquifer. Apart from providing water to farmers in drier months, they act as water holes for wildlife too. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/new-age-check-dams-built-under-mgnrega-cost-less-give-more/article35845690.ece  (10 Aug. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Conserved water goes to river The trench method of sugarcane farming that was started in some districts in 2017, conserves water which is then pumped back into the Karula river, a tributary of the Ramganga. About 300 farmers in the sugarcane-producing districts of Uttar Pradesh have been able to reduce water usage using trench farming and they have saved an estimated 60 million litres of water between 2019 and 2021. Sugarcane cultivation is a water-intensive process and over-extraction of water from the river, for its cultivation, has led to drying up of river patches. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/08/with-water-saving-sugarcane-cultivation-conserved-water-goes-to-river/  (09 Aug. 2021)

GROUNDWATER

Centre 19 States, UTs have adopted model groundwater law In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the Jal Shakti Ministry has circulated a model bill to all the States/Union Territories to enable them to enact suitable ground water legislation for regulation of its development, which also includes provision of rain water harvesting.

“So far, 19 States/UTs have adopted and implemented the groundwater legislation,” he said. These include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry have also adopted the model law.

The Minister also highlighted that the PMKSY-HKKP-GW aims to provide financial assistance to states for assured ground water irrigation to small and marginal farmers. The scheme is applicable only in areas having a stage of ground water development of less than 60% average rainfall of more than 750 mm and with shallow ground water levels. Under this scheme, 15 projects in 12 States namely Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Mizoram, Telangana, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Gujarat have been approved with an estimated cost of ₹1,718.49 crore since inception. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parliament-proceedings-govt-says-19-states-uts-have-adopted-model-groundwater-law-so-far/article35836950.ece  (10 Aug. 2021)

URBAN WATER

Coimbatore Suez drinking water project won’t be scrapped In 2018, the AIADMK government chose French firm Suez to distribute drinking water on 24X7 basis to every household in Coimbatore Corporation limits. The scope of the Rs 2972 cr approx project includes optimization, rehabilitation and operation of the water distribution to ensure continuous drinking water to the city for a period of 25 years. The project would be part funded by the Union government through AMRUT, JNNURM and Smart Cities projects. Suez will draw water from Pilloor and Siruvani dams. A sum of Rs 646 crore was allocated for the first phase in 2019 and work to lay pipeline is in progress. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/aug/13/dmk-makes-u-turn-says-suez-drinking-water-project-in-coimbatore-wont-be-scrapped-2344003.html  (13 Aug. 2021)

Bengaluru Metro work: Slurry leakage in Shivajinagar Shivajinagar residents are said to be facing severe hardships due to Namma Metro’s underground tunnelling work. On Wednesday (Aug. 13), water gushed into the ground floor of a three-storey building in Shivaji Road in the area. The work pertains to the Shivajinagar-Tannery Road Metro section. In the past too, damages to buildings and road cave-ins have been reported during tunnelling work.

Nafeesa Khan, social activist and a Shivajinagar resident, said: “Around 9pm, water started gushing inside the building. People panicked and came out. Earlier too, there have been instances of cracks appearing on buildings due to Metro work, but BMRCL didn’t give any compensation. BMRCL should ensure proper rehabilitation of residents affected due to Metro work.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bengaluru-metro-work-slurry-leakage-forces-shivajinagar-residents-to-evacuate-building/articleshow/85305337.cms  (13 Aug. 2021)

According to reports, the reason for the flooding can be attributed to the metro work going on in the area. A report by The New Indian Express states that the incident occurred due to the pressure applied by the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) on the surrounding weak soil while drilling. The drilling work has been going on for the metro line between Kalena Agrahara and Nagawara. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/bengaluru-home-flooded-due-metro-drilling-work-residents-evacuated-153928  (15 Aug. 2021)

Apartments not keen on Cauvery connection Many homeowners under Bangalore Apartment Federation are complaining that they are not receiving adequate water despite paying more for it. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/bengaluru-apartments-not-keen-on-cauvery-connection/articleshow/85228662.cms  (11 Aug. 2021)

The BBMP said that around 1,300 parks within the BBMP jurisdiction will have 5000 rainwater recharge wells constructed, to save rainwater and recharge groundwater. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/bbmp-plant-75000-saplings-construct-5000-recharge-wells-city-153930  (15 Aug. 2021)

Chennai List of Google map coordinates where construction waste can be dumped. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/aug/10/here-is-list-of-google-map-coordinates-in-chennai-where-construction-waste-can-be-dumped-2342888.html (10 Aug 2021)

Delhi Bids invited for Metro Silver Line’s twin tunnel Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Tuesday (Aug. 10) opened technical bids for the work related for the construction of twin tunnel and four underground stations of Aerocity-Tughlakabad Corridor for Phase-IV of Delhi Metro. A total of seven firms submitted bids for the given contract which has an approximate length of 6.1 km and four Underground Stations at Aerocity, Mahipalpur, Vasant Kunj and Kishangarh. This contract will also be funded by the JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) as a part of loan sanctioned for Phase-4 of Delhi Metro of amount INR 8,390 Crores. https://www.metrorailnews.in/7-companies-in-race-to-construct-delhi-metro-silver-lines-twin-tunnel-and-four-underground-stations/  (10 Aug. 2021)

Mumbai 3K buildings have built RWH units in 14 years: BMC As per the Development Control Regulations (DCR) in 2007, the government had made it compulsory to construct such units while constructing new buildings or redeveloping buildings proposed on more than 300 square metre plots. However, Under the new Development Control and Promotion Regulations (DCPR), 2034, BMC has changed the rule and said new construction or redevelopment on plots having more than 500 square metre area should construct rain water harvesting units. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/3000-mumbai-buildings-have-built-rain-water-harvesting-units-in-14-years-bmc-7453312/  (14 Aug. 2021)

Ahmedabad Groundwater levels third deepest in India At 67 metre, Ahmedabad had the third deepest groundwater aquifer after Jaipur (84.7 metre) and Dehradun (79.2 metre), according to RS data. To put the figure in perspective, the deepest Delhi’s level was at 64 metre, 53.6 metre in Chandigarh and 45.8 metre in Lucknow. Other Gujarat cities fared better with the deepest levels at 12.3 metre in Vadodara, 5.5 metre in Rajkot and 4.6 metre in Surat. The data was collected from four wells in Ahmedabad and Vadodara each, and one well in Rajkot and Surat each. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/groundwater-levels-in-abad-3rd-deepest-in-india/articleshow/84957979.cms  (02 Aug. 2021)

Gurugram Groundwater levels recede again In past 4 years, the average groundwater level of Gurugram block has fallen by over 4 metres to 36.99m below ground level this year. The city has been perilously close to a water crisis since 2013, when it was categorised as “overexploited” by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA). In 15 years, the average depth at which groundwater is available has almost doubled. It was 19.85m in 2006.

In 2018 city’s water table had fallen by 82% in a decade with the pace of decline in the 0.5-2m range annually. According to the groundwater cell’s records, the average pre-monsoon water level in Gurugram was 33.23m in 2018, which dipped to 35.85m in 2019. This further declined to 36.21m in 2020 and 36.99m this year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/groundwater-levels-recede-again-in-gurgaon-depth-nearly-doubles-in-15-yrs/articleshow/85286296.cms  (13 Aug. 2021)

Lucknow Groundwater level falling by 1 m every year Mayor Sanyukta Bhatia on Friday (July 30) emphasized on promoting water recharge facilities in high-rise and upcoming buildings as the groundwater level was falling by one metre every year.

Professor Venkatesh Dutta said, we have lost 70% of water bodies. Groundwater department director VK Upadhyay said, “There are around 2.08 lakh buildings with rooftop groundwater recharge facilities in the state. In Lucknow, according to our records, there are around 20,000 buildings with rooftop rainwater harvesting facilities. But we need to have more buildings to compensate for the water lost during the last so many years.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/groundwater-level-falling-by-1-metre-every-year-says-lucknow-mayor-101627657753645.html  (30 July 2021)

Indore Country’s First “Water Plus” City Yes, but an independent audit will tell us if this is sustainable, and if this is the least cost option. Indore civic commissioner Pratibha Pal informed that 7 STPs were constructed in the city and about 110 MLD treated water from them is being used. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/indias-cleanest-city-indore-is-now-countrys-first-water-plus-city-2508344  (11 Aug. 2021)

Surat First ‘water plus’ city in Gujarat According to the guidelines, wastewater should be scientifically treated before being released. At least 25 per cent of treated wastewater should be reused (in horticulture, fountain air cleaning, industrial use, etc.). https://indianexpress.com/article/india/surat-becomes-first-water-plus-city-in-gujarat-7449757/  (12 Aug. 2021)

WATER POLLUTION

How transparent are PCB? CSE’s new rating report finds most are not. Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh boards/committees rated the most transparent among 35 such organisations studied on 25 parameters: only 14 have scored grades above 50 per cent. https://www.cseindia.org/transparency-index-rating-of-pollution-control-boards-on-public-disclosure-10936  (11 Aug. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Well Water Turned Poisonous A family in Nalagarh town of Solan district has alleged that the solid waste management plant in the area has turned the water of their well poisonous. The family claimed that their cattle died after drinking the poisonous water. The well was built around 20 years ago when the family decided to settle down in Majra village.

The family members said the water quality of the well has been deteriorating for the last few months, and they pointed fingers towards the Shivalik Solid Waste Management plant. The plant, they alleged, treats solid waste poorly and doesn’t follow the standard practice. They said the chemicals which are released after the treatment of solid waste have polluted the groundwater in Majra. https://www.news18.com/news/india/himachal-family-claims-well-water-turned-poisonous-due-to-solid-waste-plant-3994400.html  (22 July 2021)

Goa Microplastics in tap water samples The study report, released Wednesday (Aug. 11), showed that 288 microplastic particles were found in 11 samples — 5 collected from Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, Marcel and Cancona, and 6 from water treatment plants (WTPs) at Opa, Assonora and Selaulim. The study was carried out by CSIR-NIO and Toxics Link. According to the report, the microplastic content found in tap water samples was relatively higher than that found in post-treatment water samples, which suggests that contamination “may be during the process of transportation, since most of the water lines are made of PVC pipes. Plastic pipes in drinking water distribution systems may be an important source of microplastics.” https://indianexpress.com/article/india/microplastics-in-goa-tap-water-samples-study-7449683/  (12 Aug. 2021)

The study—Clean Drinking Water: A Pipe Dream?—assessed Goa’s tap water and found that the potable water supplied to homes is contaminated with microplastics, one of the sources of which could be the PVC pipes. “The main sources of drinking water in Goa are rivers and presence of microplastics in the pre-treated water indicates that the water sources or rivers are polluted. This could be primarily due to plastic littering and waste water discharge in the river systems,” lead researcher from NIO, Mahua Saha, said.

Associate director, Toxics Link, Satish Sinha said that MPs are usually fibres, fragments, colours, tyres, packaging material that disintegrate quickly and become a part of the soil, water bodies and seafood. These are synthetic polymers that are not soluble in water. “It doesn’t lose its original properties and chemical just because it disintegrates and ingesting them could be extremely harmful to human health,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/plastic-flows-through-goas-tap-water-nio/articleshow/85256064.cms  (12 Aug. 2021)

AGRICULTURE

Food grain output to touch new record India’s food grain production is estimated to rise 3.74 per cent to a new record of 308.65 million tonnes in the crop year 2020-21, on the better output of rice, wheat and pulses amid good monsoon rains last year, the agriculture ministry said on Aug. 11. As per the data, rice production is pegged at a record 122.27 million tonnes in the 2020-21 crop year as against 118.87 million tonnes in the previous year. Sugarcane production is pegged at 399.25 million tonnes from 370.50 million tonnes in the previous year. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/food-grain-output-to-touch-new-record-of-308-65-million-tons-in-2020-21-says-government/articleshow/85243856.cms  (12 Aug. 2021)

Area sown to paddy is down marginally at 349.24 lakh hectare so far in the kharif season of 2021-22 crop year (July-June) from the year-ago period, according the Agriculture Ministry data released on Friday (Aug. 13). Farmers had planted paddy in 351.52 lakh hectare in the same season previous crop year. Sowing of kharif picks up with the onset of Southwest monsoon rains, which have been 6 per cent below average so far in the season that began from June 1. Farmers have planted summer (kharif)-sown crops in 997 lakh hectare till August 13 of the ongoing crop year, slightly slower than 1,015.15 lakh hectare in the year-ago period.  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/paddy-planting-marginally-down-at-349-24-lac-hectare-so-far-government-data/articleshow/85306564.cms  (13 Aug. 2021)

Jammu & Kashmir Non-agricultural land can be transferred to ‘outsiders’: Govt The home ministry on Wednesday (Aug. 11) told the Rajya Sabha that non-agricultural land can be transferred to “outsiders” – or people who are not permanent residents or having J&K domicile – by the UT government only for educational, charitable and medical ventures. On Tuesday (Aug. 10), the government had informed the Lok Sabha that two ‘outsiders’ had purchased two properties in J&K since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

Apart from adapting the land laws, the Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, 1950 – which transferred land to the tillers and prescribed a limit to right of ownership of 182 standard kanals (22.75 acres), was repealed. In its place, another legislation i.e. The Jammu & Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, was brought for transfer of land to tillers which is in force. This Act prescribes ceiling restriction of 100 standard kanals (12.5 acres), Rai informed the House. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/non-agricultural-land-in-jammu-kashmir-can-be-transferred-to-outsiders-says-government/articleshow/85256937.cms  (12 Aug. 2021)

Telangana Farmers fail to get PM funds Farmers are yet to receive the first instalment for current fiscal 2021-22. Last year (2020-21), the state government uploaded the details of about 39.33 lakh eligible farmers in Telangana state but the Centre credited the amount in the accounts of only 36.42 lakh. While 63.25 lakh farmers in Telangana are getting the state government’s Rythu Bandhu benefit, the Centre had shortlisted just 39 lakh farmers in Telangana for PM-Kisan, which too is coming down year after year and now the beneficiaries’ number stands at 32 lakh. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/110821/telangana-farmers-fail-to-get-pm-funds.html  (11 Aug. 2021)

MONSOON 2021

FLOOD 2021

SANDRP Blog Why Bihar facing unprecedented floods on India’s 75th Independence Day? As India prepares to celebrate 75th Independence day on August 15, 2021, large parts of Bihar along the Ganga river, including Patna and Bhagalpur are preparing to face unprecedented floods. WHY? While the high rainfall event in upstream Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan during Aug 3-7 created a flood peak that is travelling down the river, there is also a role of FARAKKA infludence Zone here, like was the case in Aug 2016 when too the water levels breached the HFL levels at the same sites. Plz Read, share widely. https://sandrp.in/2021/08/14/why-are-patna-bhagalpur-facing-unprecedented-floods-on-indias-75th-independence-day/  (14 Aug. 2021)

Pulichintala Dam Gate disaster shows improper operation Clearly, violating the rule curves, the dam operators were filling up the reservoirs to full capacity while at least 50 days of active monsoon season are remaining. Thus they had left no flood cushion for accommodating possible heavy rainfall and release all the incoming water into flooded downstream rivers, claiming TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor that they love.

Such dam induced flood disasters are becoming routine as there is no credible, independent inquiry and critical analysis by outside experts. Even in this case, there is no update on two member committee set up to inquire reasons behind washing away of Pulichintala dam gate. https://sandrp.in/2021/08/12/andhra-pradesh-pulichintala-dam-gate-disaster-shows-improper-maintenance-and-operation/  (12 Aug. 2021)

Dam Flood Assam Bhutan Kurichu dam causes flood 2 district A sudden flood in Northern part of Bongaigaon and Chirang district occurred due to the water released by Bhutan. As per sources, Bhutan had released water on Friday night from its Kurichu Dam for which Aie River overflowed. Areas like Chesapani, Balajani, Huramara, Jharaguri came under the attack of sudden flood. Several houses were inundated by flood. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/assam-news/water-released-from-bhutan-kurichu-dam-causes-flood-in-bongaigaon-and-chirang-district-550642  (15 Aug. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Ganga threatens waterway project As the water level in the Ganga breached the danger mark in Varanasi, the dream pier development project of PM Narendra Modi, at Khidkiya ghat, has been swamped. All the 80 ghats of Varanasi are under water. Even the ghats where the cremations take place are flooded. So, final rites have been moved to the lanes adjoining the ghats. At the Khidkiya ghat, two helipads, a CNG station and two platforms have been submerged. The under-construction spur and a 7 km long canal, over which experts had raised questions, have also been swept away.

All the above are adjuncts to a larger project, stretching from Haldia to Varanasi – the National Waterway 1, which is purported to provide an alternative mode of environment friendly and cost-effective transport. It’s total cost is Rs 5,369 crore and the project is to be completed by March 2023. The showcase Khidkiya ghat project at Varanasi includes restaurants, a water sports centre and an amphitheatre. The foundation for the project was laid in November 2020 by Modi. Khidkiya ghat, not as popular as the other ghats, stands by the Rajghat bridge, and the project is expected to draw tourists. Experts have questioned the wisdom of building such a massive project on the flood plain. https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/08/11/ganga-above-danger-mark-in-varanasi-threatens-waterway-project.html  (11 Aug. 2021)

Over 600 villages in 24 districts affected More than 100 villages are marooned amid flood fury in Uttar Pradesh, and at least 600 villages have been affected so far. Of the state’s 75 districts, 24 are battling floods. Houses are partially submerged in parts of Prayagraj that has, according to officials, received “12 times excess rain” in the last 24 hours. In the last 24 hours, “154 per cent excess rain” was received across the state, officials said.

Water levels are above danger-mark in Prayagraj, Ghazipur and Ballia where Ganga flows. Yamuna is flowing above the danger-mark in five places. In Varanasi, cremations were shifted to rooftops because of the flooding at the iconic Ganga ghats. In southern UP, Hamirpur, Banda and Jalaun districts are the worst-hit while 67 villages in central UP’s Etawah are caught in the aftermath. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are among other states that are battling floods. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/up-floods-over-600-villages-battle-flood-fury-in-up-24-of-75-districts-affected-2508477  (12 Aug. 2021)

Auraiya district, situated at a distance of 180 kms from the state capital Lucknow, is facing the worst brunt of the floods in the state caused due to very heavy rainfall in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in the past 10-12 days. Flooding and heavy rain has reportedly destroyed 274 houses with severe damage reported from 722 houses. Authorities have set up almost 880 relief camps to provide shelter to the needy and at least nine lives have been reportedly lost due to the disaster.

The damage caused by floods is far greater in the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is reported that at least 80 people have died and 55 have been injured due to floods in Rajasthan while 24 people have lost their lives in Madhya Pradesh. According to India Meteorological Department, from July 29 to August 4, Uttar Pradesh recorded an excess rainfall of 36 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 52 per cent while Rajasthan witnessed a whopping 168 per cent of above-normal precipitation in the same time period. https://en.gaonconnection.com/uttar-pradesh-floods-deaths-villages-auraiya-etawah-yogi-adityanath-disaster-ndrf-yamuna-ganga-sindh-heavy-rains-monsoon/  (12 Aug. 2021)

It’s been four days since Mirzapur is witnessing massive flooding due to the Ganga river flowing above the danger mark. The rising waters of the Ganges and the Karnavati rivers have cut-off over 400 villages in the district, as the affected villagers are reeling under food shortage and migrating in search of a safer ground. https://en.gaonconnection.com/uttar-pradesh-floods-mirzapur-ganga-river-monsoon-heavy-rains-crop-damage-villagers/?325252  (11 Aug. 2021)

Situation in brings back 1978 memories The entire Gaughat, Baradari of Balaughat and parts of Kareli are submerged in flood water. Flood water has fully submerged the ground floor of many localities situated on the banks of Ganga and boats are being used to ply people and necessary items. Areas like Bagraha, Daraganj, Salori, Beli Gaon, Mehenduari Goan, Ganga Nagar, parts of Rajapur and Ashok Nagar are also marooned.

However, with the flood situation worsening, memories of 1978 flood has started haunting the people. “We still remember that localities, including Mumforganj, Kyganj, Muttuganj, Alopibag, Khatghar, Bairana and Kareli were flooded. Had it not been the efforts of then district magistrate Bhure Lal and the SSP Ajay Raj Sharma along with the strong force of students of Allahabad University and several colleges and social organization, the damage would have been multi fold,” said Anand Prasad, a local.

“The flood of 1978 was so intense that waves of river Yamuna were colliding with the road of the bridge and we still remember Ganga and Yamuna had inundated almost every locality of the city. Barring the inside high land, people of Allahapur used to sit in the boats from the first floor of their houses,” said veteran politician of the city Shyam Krishna Pandey. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/flood-fury-situation-in-prayagraj-grim-brings-back-1978-memories/articleshow/85225458.cms  (11 Aug. 2021)

Some images showing impact of Gang floods. https://indianexpress.com/photos/india-news/up-floods-over-5-lakh-people-affected-ganga-yamuna-above-danger-mark-7451077/  (12 Aug. 2021)

Bihar Ganga above red mark in Patna, Buxar The situation worsened in the last 24 hours as the water discharge through Indrapuri barrage across Sone river also increased causing increased amount of water flowing into the Ganga at Maner on the western outskirts of Patna. Punpun river was also flowing 1.26 metres above the danger level at Sripalpur on the eastern outskirts of Patna.

Furthermore, moderate rainfall from 15mm to 64mm had been received both in Nepal and along the basins of the rivers in north and south Bihar. The rainfall forecast is the same in both Nepal and Bihar till Thursday (Aug. 12) which, in turn, will increase the water level in all the major and minor rivers that also fall into the Ganga in the state.

Water discharge through the Gandak, Bagmati, Burhi Gandak, Kamla, Kosi and Mahananda was not so high, as they were flowing above the danger level only at a few places along their downstream. The levels are expected to go up by Thursday (Aug. 12) due to uniformly spread moderate rainfall till then. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/ganga-above-red-mark-in-patna-buxar/articleshow/85218093.cms  (11 Aug. 2021)

The water discharge through Indrapuri barrage across Sone increased from 1.27 lakh cusecs to 1.35 lakh cusecs. “Since the water discharge through the Ganga was over 22 lakh cusecs on Friday (Aug. 13), its water level was higher than that of Sone. Accordingly, the Ganga was unable to take in water from Sone swiftly,” the WRD source said, adding that the water level of Punpun has been falling. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/ganga-crosses-highest-flood-level-at-hathidah-but-to-start-falling-today/articleshow/85313836.cms  (14 Aug. 2021)

गंगा में बढ़ते जल स्तर को देखते हुए पश्चिम बंगाल स्थित फरक्का का गेट खोल दिया गया है। यह कार्यवाही बिहार व उप्र को बढ़ा से बचाने के लिए की गई है। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi-city-opening-gate-of-farakka-will-provide-relief-from-flood-water-level-of-ganga-will-be-stable-in-two-to-three-days-21920060.html  (11 Aug. 2021)

Raj Bhagat, Earth Observer, WRI India:- Many low lying lands in Pachnada – the confluence of five rivers (Yamuna, Chambal, Sindh, Pahuj, Kunwari rivers – in UttarPradesh) are still flooded and can be seen in the satellite image from yesterday. https://twitter.com/rajbhagatt/status/1424946547033210882?s=20

River Ganga has crossed HFL 34.72 m attained on 26 Aug. 2016 at Bhagalpur site today at 04:00 hrs. It’s currently flowing at 34.75 m with rising trend. River Ganga flood level at Gandhighat in Patna increased to 50.45m which is 0.07 m short of previous HFL 50.52 dated 21 Aug. 2016.    

Madhya Pradesh Tribal villages in Panna turn into islands in the monsoon Even as we celebrate the World’s Indigenous Peoples day today, there are several adivasi villages in Panna district that lack even basic amenities. For four months of the monsoons, the inhabitants of these villages are marooned and the only way to reach the outside world is walking through slushy bogs, swollen streams and deep forests, till they reach a roadhead. https://en.gaonconnection.com/panna-floods-madhya-pradesh-villages-vaccination-pregnancy-tribals-monsoons-adivasi-kudra/  (09 Aug. 2021)

With their houses washed away, grains spoiled, belongings scattered, and knee-deep muck spread all over the village, residents of Khaira Shyampura village in Bhind do not know from where to pick up pieces of their lives scattered and shattered by the floods. They are facing acute shortage of food and safe drinking water.  https://en.gaonconnection.com/madhya-pradesh-floods-chambal-sindh-hunger-food-crisis-shivraj-singh-chouhan-flood-relief-compensation-villages-rajasthan/  (12 Aug. 2021)

URBAN FLOODS

Maharashtra Govt proposes RCC wall along rivers in Mahad, Chiplun The irrigation department has proposed to set up a reinforced cement concrete wall to prevent floodwater of rivers Savitri and Vasisthi from entering the towns of Mahad and Chiplun in the future. The proposed walls, the department said, would be constructed along the rivers as they pass through the two cities.

Vijay Kumar Gautam, the officer on special duty in the irrigation department, said the plan was prepared by the department six years back and was put on a back-burner then. “I have put the proposal before CM Uddhav Thackeray and he has given in-principle approval. We are now preparing a detailed proposal. People living in low-lying areas of Mahad in Raigad district and Chiplun in Ratnagiri district will not stop building houses just because these are low-lying areas. Karad city, which has an RCC wall, is an example of how floodwaters of a river can’t enter a township,” Gautam said Monday (July 26).

The NHAI, meanwhile, has reopened the bridge on Vashisthi river for light traffic. “Part of the bridge was washed away and we have filled up the approaches which were washed away. There is a new bridge being constructed next to the existing one as a part of the highway widening,” said Chief Engineer Santosh Shelar of the NHAI. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/maharashtra-govt-proposes-rcc-wall-along-rivers-in-mahad-and-chiplun-7423960/  (27 July 2021)

Govt mulls walls near rivers to prevent flooding CM Uddhav Thackeray, while chairing a meeting on flood relief measures, told the irrigation department to draft a proposal in this regard. The residents of Vadgaon, Satara Road, Pune-Mumbai highway, and central parts of Pune face flooding after heavy rainfall and have asked for retaining walls to be built. Those affected by the September 2019 floods have also pushed for better river and nullah cleaning work.

PMC officials said areas like Rajput slums, Pulachi Wadi, Patil estates, Ambil Odha, Parvati, Dattawadi, parts of Sinhagad Road, Katraj, Karvenagar, Narayan Peth, Kasba Peth, and Bopodi witness frequent flooding due to their proximity to the river. PMC officials said a decision on building retaining walls will be taken after receiving orders from the government. “The PMC had built such walls in some areas, but demolished them after objections from activists,” a PMC official said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/govt-mulls-walls-near-rivers-to-prevent-flooding/articleshow/84807685.cms  (28 July 2021)

DROUGHT

Gujarat CM orders release of water from dams to save crops “While reserving the water stock for drinking purpose in dams/reservoirs for the period upto September 30, the CM has given instructions to water resources department to release remaining water with immediate effect to save standing crop of farmers,” it said. As per the release, five lakh hectare land of the state government will be benefitted by this decision.

It added that out of the 141 dams of Suarashtra, the water for irrigation purpose will be given from 88 dams catering to 60,000 hectare land. In North Gujarat, water will be given from Dharoi dam covering 15,000 hectare land. The storage capacity of dams in Gujarat is also less than the corresponding figure of last year. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel too has earlier this month expressed concern over the lull in rain during the monsoon season and less water level in Sardar Sarovar or Narmada dam which is the main source of water for Gujarat. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/dry-spell-continues-gujarat-cm-orders-release-of-water-from-dams-to-save-crops-7448062/  (11 Aug. 2021)

Water storage in dams lower than 50% A deficient monsoon has depleted water levels in dams of the state and water storage of dams is 47.54% of their total gross storage capacities, the Narmada and Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpsar Department said on Aug. 11. Even as water levels in more than 200 dams and reservoirs in the state remain less than half of their total storage capacities, the state government has decided to supply water from dams to irrigate around 5 lakh hectares of land to prevent damage to standing crops. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/water-storage-in-state-dams-lower-than-50/articleshow/85253688.cms  (12 Aug. 2021)

In Saurashtra crops could suffer due to long dry spell in monsoon rainfall. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/farmers-worried-due-to-dry-spell-no-rain-in-sight-till-aug-15-7446399/  (10 Aug. 2021)

Gujarat witnessing drought. https://sites.google.com/a/iitgn.ac.in/high_resolution_south_asia_drought_monitor/

Rajasthan Bisalpur dam 34% full due to less rain Engineers at the dam stated that from the 15% water level at the start of the monsoon season, it has now attained 34% level. Its catchment areas, including Bhilwara and Chittorgarh, are yet to receive heavy rainfall which is the reason why the dam is yet to attain good water level. The dam caters to the drinking water needs of Tonk, Jaipur and Ajmer.

A senior officer of Jaipur Met office said, “Chittorgarh and Bhilwara during this year are in the normal rainfall category till August 10, 2021.” Chittorgarh has received a rainfall of 415.55 mm till August 10, compared to 409 mm of rainfall received during the year-ago period. So far Bhilwara is concerned, it has received a rainfall of 314.52 mm till August 10, compared to 348.50 in the year-ago period. Likewise, Rajsamand is still in the category of deficit rainfall. “At Rajsamand the rainfall till Tuesday is 235.86 mm compared to 306.10 mm received till August 10, 2020,” said an officer. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/bisalpur-dam-34-full-due-to-less-rain-in-catchment-areas/articleshow/85226508.cms  (11 Aug. 2021)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Punjab Power regulator allows PSPCL to end pact with 3 NTPC plants The PSPCL had signed the power purchase agreement (PPA) in 1997 for these plants and was getting 49MW from Anta, 83MW from Auraiya and 132MW from Dadri, all gas-based power plants of NTPC. The PSPCL surrendered more than 90% of its share in 2018-19 and 88% in 2019-20 but is still paying fixed charges to Anta, Auraiya and Dadri power stations. The PSPCL paid ₹128.99 crore in 2018-19 and ₹115.11 crore in 2019-20 as fixed charges against power surrendered from these gas-based power plants. It said that continued allocation of power from the generating stations is a financial burden and is leading to higher cost of power purchase that is passed on to consumers and translates in tariff hike. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/power-regulator-allows-pspcl-to-end-pact-with-3-ntpc-plants-101628681730179.html  (11 Aug. 2021)

MNRE MNRE Invites EoI from Consultants The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued an expression of interest (EoI) from consultants to evaluate the program to develop solar parks and ultra-mega solar power projects. The last date for the submission of bids is August 26, 2021. MNRE aims to set up at least 50 solar parks, each with a minimum capacity of 500 MW and above, by 2021-22. For this, central financial assistance of around ₹81 billion will be provided (~$1.08 billion) under the National Solar Mission. Last year, MNRE modified its guidelines for the development of solar parks and ultra-mega solar power projects.

Earlier, MNRE had issued a request for a proposal for consultants to develop a long-term vision, implementation plan, road map, and institutional framework for its One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) program. The ministry also had invited an expression of interest to evaluate its 5,000 MW Viability Gap Funding (VGF) program for solar projects. https://mercomindia.com/mnre-invites-eoi-consultants-ultra-mega-projects/  (12 Aug. 2021)

Interest subvention scheme for WTE biomethanation projects The industrial organic waste-to-energy bio-methanation projects are generally capital intensive and financially sensitive to both operating costs, including waste availability, and revenue, particularly biogas yield and its utilisation scenario. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/mnre-launches-interest-subvention-scheme-for-waste-to-energy-biomethanation-projects/85229553  (11 Aug. 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Survey Tigers largely found in forested regions closer to Karnataka, Goa A year-long occupancy study in the Sahyadri-Konkan corridor, a 4,500 km human-dominated forest landscape, by the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) has found that tiger distribution is largely concentrated in the southern end of the region, closer to the Goa and Karnataka border.

The WCT study titled ‘Monitoring Change: A reassessment of large carnivore occupancy and distribution in the Sahyadri-Konkan Corridor’ has found evidence of the presence of tigers in the forested regions closer to its source population, that is, Mhadei Sanctuary in Goa and Bhimgad Sanctuary-Kali Tiger Reserve in Karnataka. A source population is any place where the reproductive and survival rate of that particular species is high. Since it’s a protected area, the tigers in KTR are protected and are breeding. The excess population from that area then colonises the forest areas nearby, outside of the source.

The linear and montane forest landscape along the northern Western Ghats connects the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR) in the state to the Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR) in Karnataka. In between these two reserves, however, there are some parts that are human-dominated and narrower than one km, fragmented by cash crop plantations, mines, and other infrastructure that negatively impact the movement of the tigers. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/in-sahyadri-konkan-corridor-tigers-largely-found-in-forested-regions-closer-to-karnataka-goa-survey-7449595/  (12 Aug. 2021)

Rajasthan Orans and bustards under threat from green energy infrastructure Local residents and renewable energy companies are at loggerheads over the orans in Rajasthan. Locals are regularly demonstrating against infrastructure development in these areas. Learning about the threats to birds due to power lines, in March 2021, the Supreme Court ordered power companies to lay underground power lines in the Degrai oran in Rajasthan. In its report, Wildlife Institute of India in 2020 mentioned the dangers of the high-tension wires to great Indian bustard. It is estimated that around 83,000 birds die due to these high-tension wires in Jaisalmer region every year. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/08/rajasthans-orans-and-bustards-under-threat-from-green-energy-infrastructure/  (12 Aug. 2021) 

Orissa HC stays NTPC’s Talcher Thermal closure order The Orissa High Court has stayed the operation of an order whereby the union ministry of labour had given the green signal for closure of the Talcher Thermal Power Station (TTPS), a unit of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in Angul district. The HC issued the direction on two separate petitions which were taken up for analogous hearing on Thursday. NTPC Worker Union President Bishnu Mohan Rath and NTPC Men’s Congress President Rama Chandra Khuntia filed the petitions. The HC directed that the stay order shall remain effective till the next date of hearing on September 7, 2021. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/cuttack/orissa-hc-stays-ntpcs-talcher-thermal-closure-order/articleshow/85322397.cms  (14 Aug. 2021)

छत्तीसगढ़   आदिवासी इलाकों में ‘इको-टूरिज़्म सरकार ने बस्तर में एक बार फिर से ज़िला प्रशासन के साथ मिलकर ईको-टूरिज़्म को बढ़ावा देने की पहल की है। साथ ही कहा है कि इससे स्थानीय लोगों के लिए रोज़गार के अवसर खुलेंगे और उनका आर्थिक विकास होगा। सरकार के आदर्श इको टूरिज़्म से स्थानीय लोगों को क्या लाभ है और यह योजना पर्यावरण और आदिवासी जीवन शैली को किस तरह प्रभावित कर रहा है इस लेख के माध्यम से समझते हैं। https://hindi.feminisminindia.com/2021/08/13/eco-tourism-chattishgarh-hindi/  (13 Aug. 2021)

Uttarakhand NGO recycles 6,772 mt plastic waste in 3 years Dehradun contributes the highest plastic percentage in the waste generated by the entire state producing 327.9 tonnes of plastic waste per day which is set to increase to 584.051 tonnes per day in the coming years, the NGO Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA) said. The IPCA has been working in the domain of plastic waste management in 30 states and Union Territories for the last 20 years. https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/uttarakhand-ngo-recycles-6772-million-tonnes-of-plastic-waste-in-three-years-4070441.html  (11 Aug. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Sudher’s mahila mandal is doing its bit to fight poor waste management. https://scroll.in/video/1002710/eco-india-episode-118-sudhers-mahila-mandal-is-doing-its-bit-to-fight-poor-waste-management  (14 Aug. 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

SANDRP Blog IPCC’s AR6: Synergy between Climate Change & Development Impacts This article provides key highlights of the Sixth Assessment of IPCC on Climate Change, part I of which on Physical basis was published on Aug 9, 2021. It also provides some key points of India specific issues in the context of the report. One of the major issue raised here is how the climate Change impacts and development project impacts are working in synergy to create greater disasters, but there is little attention to it.  Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2021/08/10/ipccs-ar6-synergy-between-climate-change-development-impacts/  (10 Aug. 2021)

Alex Ruane, one of the authors of the new report:- The fundamental difference is that there is more energy in the system. There’s more heat. And as the temperature goes up, there is an overall increase in the amount of moisture that the air is trying to hold. So that means when a storm happens, there’s more moisture in the air to tap into for a big, heavy downpour. It also means that when air moves over a region, it has the potential to suck more moisture out of the ground more rapidly. So the same phenomenon is leading both to more intensive rainfalls and floods and precipitation, and also to more stark drought conditions when they do occur.  https://www.theverge.com/22617371/extreme-weather-science-attribution-un-report-climate-change  (10 Aug. 2021)

Climate expert Abinash Mohanty of CEEW:- States across eastern and western coasts are witnessing compounding impacts of climate risks and ecosystem damage. Restoring natural ecosystems like mangroves, forests and wetlands can mitigate the microclimatic changes leading to increased dry spells and desertification, and act as shock-absorbers against other extreme events like floods and cyclones. Further, climate-vulnerable states like Maharashtra must accelerate the climate-proofing of critical infrastructure, industry and communities. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/states-should-spend-to-make-infra-assets-climate-proof/articleshow/85221719.cms  (11 Aug. 2021)

Ulka Kelkar, Director, Climate Program, WRI, said at the release of the report, “For India, the predictions in this report mean people labouring in longer and more frequent heat waves, warmer nights for our winter crops, erratic monsoon rains for our summer crops, destructive floods and storms that disrupt power supply for drinking water or medical oxygen production”. https://www.theweek.in/news/sci-tech/2021/08/09/28-6-million-people-in-6-indian-cities-to-face-flooding-if-sea-levels-rise-report.html  (09 Aug. 2021)

C.P. Rajendran, adjunct professor at NIAS:- The recent IPCC report differs from the previous ones in being definitive in its conclusion. The role of human activity in altering global climate is a reality, it declares, and its ongoing impacts are visible. We no longer have the luxury of buying more time to arrest global warming. It cannot be postponed any further; the time to act is now, not tomorrow. It is not a disaster expected sometime in the future – we are in the middle of it, and humanity’s future is at risk. https://science.thewire.in/environment/ipcc-climate-report-humankind-must-choose-climate-action/  (12 Aug. 2021)

India has already started witnessing so-called compound extreme events, including severe cyclonic storms, floods and heatwaves. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-already-recording-events-ipcc-warned-of-101628712633213.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

India is already facing water stress, thanks to erratic monsoons, falling water table, and use of water-intensive hybrid seeds, and the rise in temperatures has made agriculture hungry for more resources such as water. Farming now consumes over 30% more water due to “high evaporative demand and crop duration due to forced maturity”. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/the-climate-crisis-threatens-indian-agriculture-and-livelihoods-101628692471824.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

NIO regional head GPS Murthy said the rise in sea level will be gradual and not uniform. However, he said the IPCC report is only a prediction and in the next six to seven decades there may be several changes. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/aug/12/prediction-onsubmergence-of-visakhapatnam-may-not-come-true-say-experts-2343601.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

As per the latest report, Visakhapatnam is one among the six cities identified by the scientists that could be exposed to coastal flooding if the sea levels rise by 50 cm due to global warming. The other five cities are Kochi, Kolkata, Chennai, Surat and Mumbai. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/threat-of-climate-change-looms-over-vizag-kakinada-masula/article35866750.ece

Jammu and Kashmir Machoi Glacier Is Retreating A new study has found that Machoi glacier in Kashmir lost 29% of its area between 1972 and 2019. Using satellite data, the researchers, of the Department of Geo-informatics at Kashmir University assessed changes in area, frontal retreat and the mass balance (the difference between the rates at which the glacier is accumulating and losing mass) of the Machoi glacier from 1972 to 2019. https://science.thewire.in/environment/scientists-tell-us-how-fast-the-machoi-glacier-is-retreating-can-we-halt-it/  (13 Aug. 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

Opinion After Melamchi disasters Madhukar Upadhya In a country where more than 80 percent of the land falls under mountains, Melamchi demonstrated the degree to which we are vulnerable to natural events, including earthquakes and the rapidly changing nature of weather patterns. This vulnerability surfaced when the country is aggressively pursuing mega hydropower projects, networks of highways, trans-basin water transfer projects and so on. What will be the fate of these big projects under rising uncertainties, given what we’ve witnessed in Melamchi? The warning signs have been there for a while. https://kathmandupost.com/columns/2021/08/12/after-the-melamchi-disaster  (12 Aug. 2021)

Report 49 most polluted places in 2020 Bangladesh was the most polluted country across the world in 2020, followed by Pakistan, India and Mongolia, according to a report prepared by British company House Fresh. While the Chinese city of Hotan in Xinjiang province has been named the most polluted city, Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh took the second spot on the list with an average PM2.5 concentration of 106.6µg/m3. Of the 50 most polluted cities worldwide, 49 are in Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and India. https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/chinas-hotan-most-polluted-city-in-2020-ghaziabad-at-2nd-place-report-101628678354854.html  (11 Aug. 2021)

ASIA

Singapore Turning sewage into ultra-clean water Recycled wastewater can now meet 40 percent of Singapore’s water demand — a figure that is expected to rise to 55 percent by 2060, according to the country’s water agency. While most is used for industrial purposes, some of it is added to drinking water supplies in reservoirs in the city-state of 5.7 million people. And the system helps reduce maritime pollution, as only a small amount of the treated water is discharged into the sea. This is a contrast to most other countries — 80 percent of the world’s wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused, according to UN estimates. https://www.livemint.com/science/news/how-singapore-is-turning-sewage-into-ultra-clean-water-11628564552806.html  (10 Aug. 2021)

Israel Gravity watering system saves resources N-Drip’s precise agriculture system drip-irrigates fields that were formerly flooded, addressing the world water shortage while improving outcome. https://www.israel21c.org/new-gravity-watering-system-saves-resources-and-raises-yields/  (10 Aug. 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Brazil Corn farmers face devastating drought Brazil, the world’s fourth largest corn producer in 2020, faces drastically reduced exports this season as a result of extended drought followed by frost. Conab, Brazil’s government agricultural agency, estimates a 20% reduction in the size of the 2021 crop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-A3LtRHKoE  (11 Aug. 2021)

California Tourist town Mendocino running out of water. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/07/california-drought-water-mendocino-tourism  (08 Aug. 2021)

ReportPlastisphere’: the synthetic ecosystem Ocean plastic has created a unique home for specialised organisms, from animals that travel on it to bacteria that ‘eat’ it. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/11/welcome-to-the-plastisphere-the-synthetic-ecosystem-evolving-at-sea  (11 Aug. 2021)

Research Collective movements can stabilize ecosystems Schools of herring, herds of wildebeest and countless other groups of organisms that act in concert can help complex ecosystems maintain their diversity and stability, new research by Oregon State University shows. Published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, the study demonstrates that when individuals band together to consume resources as a collective group, the surrounding ecosystem is prone to be more resilient and able to support a wider range of species. https://phys.org/news/2021-08-flocking-birds-schooling-fish-movements.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 09 August 2021 & DRP News Bulletin Aug 02 2021

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

2 thoughts on “DRP NB 16 August 2021: Landslides in Himachal worsened due to mindless “development” projects

  1. Agree with you that mindless construction and the unscientific methods followed therein have ruined the Himalayan terrain. The problem is exacerbated by the climate change impact.

    Like

  2. The Uttarakhand government has proposed Dehradun Mussoorie Ropeway that will be the longest and time saving for tourists (while good road network is already there) as well as to avoid traffic jam on Mussoorie road. There was no mention of how much forest areas will be cleared because of this project.
    Earlier, our union Transport Ministry headed by Mr. Nitin Gadkari and his predecessor Mr Javdekar repeatedly said that hill cutting, blasting, dam construction etc do not trigger landslides. And the recent statement came after Rishiganga valley disaster.
    When these agencies are in constant denial mode, they are clearly violating environmental rules, they are putting millions of peoples’ lives at risk in the name of development, whom do you expect to take action or hope that the judiciary will fight for the cause?

    Like

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