DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 27 Sep 2021: TN HC: Protest against environment violations fundamental duty

(Feature image: Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the killings of 13 protesters in Tuticorin. Photograph: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty, Source The Guardian report. )

In a remarkable refreshing order, the Madurai bench of Tamil Nadu High Court has held that protest against environmental violations like that of Sterlite factory is a fundamental duty of citizens. The Madurai bench has reasoned that the duties of the state in protecting the environment are basically the rights of the people. The bench relied on Article 51-A (g) of Part IV-A (Fundamental Duties), which deals with the duty to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. A liberal interpretation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the constitution enabled the bench to hold that right to environment, free of danger of disease and infection is inherent in it.

The bench relied on the Supreme Court’s observation in a case that the mere fact that the petitioner was a part of a group and stood in front of a liquor shop and shouted slogans cannot make him guilty of an offence, as the group was only impressing upon the state the need to follow the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in Article 47 of the constitution.

The bench reminded the police that every citizen has the right to comment on the policies of governments and to have their own views with respect to such policies. The bench noted that even the prosecution has not alleged that the petitioner indulged in violence.

The high court’s order, by emphasising that the right to protest is inextricably linked with the fundamental duties of a citizen, will have considerable value as a legal precedent. The HC judgement is not only a slap for the TN police and other authorities, but also for all those criminalising the dissent of the citizens. It is also hoped that this will embolden many more to keep fighting for justice against the atrocities and false cases by the unjust state.

Tamil Nadu Protest against Sterlite is part of fundamental duty: HC  In a refreshing order, Justices M. Duraiswamy & K. Muralishankar of the Madurai bench of the Madras high court have held that there is a colossal difference between complaining that a person is acting against the govt and that person is protesting the policies of the govt. The court was hearing a petition filed by K Siva, a law graduate. When he tried to apply to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry as a member, he was informed that he would not be permitted. A police verification report against Siva had mentioned that 88 criminal cases were registered against him between 2017 and 2019. Most of these cases were lodged after the demonstrations held at Thoothukudi on May 22, 2018 demanding the closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite copper plant for the reason that it had polluted the air and water and caused health hazards to the people. Thirteen persons died during the protests on that day, as police opened fire at them. Following the protests, the Tamil Nadu govt ordered the closure of the plant. The Madras high court had on Aug 18, 2020 upheld the state govt’s closure order. Though appeals were preferred, the Supreme Court has refused to grant any interim order to reopen the plant. https://thewire.in/law/madurai-bench-madras-hc-protest-sterlite-plant-fundamental-duty (25 Sept 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog Don’t Use Climate Funds for Hydro Projects A landmark Global declaration titled “RIVERS FOR CLIMATE” was launched on Sept 21, 2021, endorsed already by 300 organisations from 69 countries calling on governments and leaders attending COP26 (Conference of Parties meeting 26) to protect river ecosystems and stop using scarce climate funds to finance false climate solutions such as hydropower. Plz Read, Share widely. https://sandrp.in/2021/09/22/dons-use-climate-funds-for-hydro-projects-300-organisations-from-69-countries-to-un-govts-at-cop26/  (22 Sept. 2021)

IANS has carried a detailed report on this declaration, see: https://english.lokmat.com/international/no-climate-finance-for-hydropower-rivers-for-climate-declaration/  (23 Sept. 2021)

Press Conference Hydropower dams are false climate solution On Sept. 21, experts and frontline community leaders unveiled the Rivers for Climate Global Declaration, signed by over 290 organizations from 69 countries calling for climate funding to exclude so-called “sustainable” hydropower schemes. https://intlrv.rs/3nNFgxW  

Uttarakhand: Disaster around NHPC’s Dhauliganga Hydropower project The border areas of Pithoragarh witnessed large scale destruction following series of disasters on August 30, 2021 night. The event unfolded after unprecedented rainfall in the region causing flash floods in local streams and Kali River also known as Sarda.

There were at least two cloud burst incidents and landslides leading to human casualties and much of devastation on both sides of the border. Several buildings at Tapovan colony of NHPC Ltd (formerly known as National Hydroelectric Power Corp Ltd) were also flooded due to formation of an artificial lake across Kali river.

The incident has once again amply proven how vulnerable are the hydro power projects and associated infrastructures to increasing disasters in geologically unstable region in changing climate. Meanwhile, NHPC has publicly shared no information on the disaster impact, damages and losses which shows it continues to function in non-transparent, unaccountable, irresponsible manner.   https://sandrp.in/2021/09/27/uttarakhand-disaster-around-nhpcs-dhauliganga-hydropower-project/  (27 Sept. 2021)

Open Letter to PM on Uttarakhand Hydro in Sept 2021 Restarting seven under-construction hydro projects in Ganga Himalaya unjustified. https://sandrp.in/2021/09/23/open-letter-to-pm-on-uttarakhand-hydro-in-sept-2021/  (23 Sept. 2021)

Uttarakhand Restarting hydro projects open invitation to disaster Priyadarshini Patel Of the seven projects that have just received the green signal, two lie under heaps of debris. It is unsound reasoning to argue that these projects must be completed simply due to the initial error of starting them. In fact, the court proceedings and the MoEF which started out on the solid basis of investigating the devastation caused by HEPs in 2013, must now answer how it finds itself today filing affidavit upon affidavit to reopen these projects. It must justify such an ill-considered decision in the face of the numerous reports and warnings about the threat to ecology and the exacerbation of disasters. It must be prepared for the increasing wrath of the citizen, who bears the final brunt, even as it sets off this code red for the Ganga-Himalayas.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/code-red-for-ganga-himalayas-restarting-hydro-projects-in-uttarakhand-an-open-invitation-to-disaster/  (22 Sept. 2021)

Sikkim Wrong to award Teesta-V HEP with Blue Planet Prize There is lot of Fiction here. IHA awards Blue Planet prize to NHPC’s 510 MW Teesta V project, based on claimed (without any substance) independent assessment of the project on some 20 criteria of Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol during Jan to June 2019. Its such a bad example that it would be bad advertisement for IHA claims. https://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/small_hydro/indiaa-s-teestav-hydropower-station-awarded-2021-20210923  (23 Sept. 2021)

Local people protest against the project. (DZONGU is not your gold mine!!! dig your own land don’t try to be a broker of Indigenous People’s land !!!)

Himachal Pradesh Crisis looms large in Lahaul valley EXCELLENT: The first step is to realise that these hydropower projects are a threat to ecology and humans (in Lahaul and Spiti). Therefore, disasters and tragedies, including in places such as the newly opened Lahaul-Spiti district, having a similar topography and vulnerabilities, must be prevented at all costs.

Sources such as solar, wind and hydrogen should be exploited rather than hydroelectric power. The governments must ensure that the people are placed ahead of profit. Lahaul-Spiti is blessed with abundant sun and wind energy sources spread across an area of 11,000 sq km… It’s high time the state government too recognises this potential and revisits its over-dependence on hydropower projects which, evidence clearly shows, are detrimental to human lives in the hilly terrains. In view of all this, various hydroelectric power projects should be halted immediately.

Secondly, the construction of roads and highways should be designed and carried out using modern technology that is eco-friendly and not based on blasting, which destabilises the earth’s strata in the Himalayas.

Thirdly, applied research is needed to assess the risks and the population’s vulnerability to development projects; monitor ecological changes going forward; and identify appropriate local and policy-based mitigation measures.

Finally, any destruction of our environment in the name of development will only be at the expense of our ecology and human welfare. We should adopt development models that put people’s health and well-being before economic progress and profit. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/himalayan-crisis-looms-large-in-lahaul-valley-313931  (21 Sept. 2021)

दरकते पहाड़, कौन ज़िम्मेदार? बढ़े भूस्खलन के मामले कई लोगों की जा चुकी है जान. हाइड्रो-इलेक्ट्रिक पावर प्रोजेक्ट्स के ख़िलाफ़ स्थानीय लोगों में गुस्सा. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BbSdCPX1GU  (23 Sept. 2021)

Nagaland Water-powered generators bring electricity This shows how HYDROGERS, basically micro hydropower projects are providing power to unreached villages in Nagaland and also in Manipur, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. Some lessons also for Uttarakhand, J&K and Himachal Pradesh. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/energy/water-powered-generators-bring-electricity-to-nagaland/  (24 Sept. 2021)

MoEF AMAZING to see EAC meeting having single project agenda! Agenda for the meeting of EAC on River Valley Projects to be held on Sept 27, 2021:

– 500 MW Chitravati Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, at village Peddakotla & Parnapalli, Tehsil Tadimarri, Dist Anantapuram, Andhra Pradesh by New & Renewable Energy Development Corp of Andhra Pradesh Ltd – Terms of Reference.   http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/2109202174572813AgendaRiverValley17thEAC.pdf

Minutes of EAC’s Sept 7, 2021 meeting, key decisions:

1. Kurha Vadhoda Islampur Lift Irrigation Scheme UPSA Sinchan Yojna with CCA 32372 Ha located at Village Rigaon, Tehsil Muktainagar, Dist. Jalgaon, Mah by Tapi Irrigation Development Corp, Jalgaon for Terms of Reference: Project proponent has started construction activity without prior Environment Clearance and some of the work has been completed to the extent of about 60-70%. It is a case of violation of EIA Notification, 2006. The Ministry should take action as per the law. The proposal was returned on above lines.

2. Ujh Multipurpose (196 MW) Project in an area of 4350 ha located at village Barbari, Dist Kathua and Samba, Jammu & Kashmir by J&K State Power Development Corp Ltd – Amendment in Environmental Clearance: “Further, considering the inconsistency and inadequacy in the submission of details, EAC desired that PP may submit the following information for further consideration”

3. 600 MW Tawang Hydroelectric Project-I in an area of 277.06 ha by NHPC Ltd in Jung village, Dist Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh – Ext of Validity of Environmental Clearance: “Ministry may consider the proposal as recommended for grant of extension in validity of EC dated 10th June, 2021 to Tawang Hydroelectric Project Stage-I of 600 MW by M/s NHPC Ltd. in Jung village, District Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh till 9th June, 2024, under the provisions of EIA Notification, 2006 and subsequent amendments/circulars therein subject to following”

4. 800 MW Tawang Hydroelectric Project-II in an area of 237.88 ha by NHPC Ltd. in Yusum/Kundung village, Dist Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh – Extension of Validity of Environmental Clearance: Same as 3 above.

Both Tawang related decisions (as also some others) are controversial, see: https://daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=877365; http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/2009202180688918DraftMoMof16thEACRVHEPheldon7-9-2021.pdf

DAMS

Landslide at Lakhwar dam site. Bhim Singh Rawat, April 2019.

Uttarakhand Lakhwar dam got Centre’s nod The finance committee of the Jal Shakti ministry has given its approval to the tallest dam on the Yamuna — with a proposed height of 204 metres — which will come up in Uttarakhand at a cost of Rs 5,747 crore. The nod to the dam — which was first approved in 1976 and work on which was halted in 1992 due to lack of funds — has reignited a decades-old debate, with environmentalists again red-flagging the project as a “flood risk” to Delhi and “ecological threat to the Himalayas”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/stalled-since-92-tallest-dam-on-yamuna-in-ukhand-gets-centre-nod/articleshow/86461434.cms  (24 Sept. 2021)

ऊर्जा मंत्री डॉ. हरक सिंह रावत हाल ही में उन्होंने दिल्ली स्थित केंद्रीय जल शक्ति मंत्रालय जल शक्ति मंत्री गजेंद्र सिंह शेखावत से परियोजना के लिए व्यय वित्त समिति को लेकर बात की। मंत्रालय की व्यय वित्त समिति ने परियोजना पर मुहर लगा दी है। अब लखवाड़ परियोजना को लेकर मंत्रालय, केंद्रीय कैबिनेट में प्रस्ताव लेकर जाएगा। यहां से मुहर लगने के बाद परियोजना पर काम शुरू हो जाएगा। 5700 करोड़ की इस परियोजना पर 90 प्रतिशत खर्च केंद्र सरकार को करना है जबकि 10 प्रतिशत खर्च उत्तराखंड सहित सभी छह राज्यों को करना है। https://www.amarujala.com/dehradun/uttarakhand-news-lakhwar-project-will-pass-in-expenditure-finance-committee-of-union-ministry-of-jal-shakti-after-29-years?pageId=1  (23 Sept. 2021)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Assam Engineers’ body seeks total revamp of water transport service The All Assam Engineer’s Association said in a media statement, the Nimatighat boat capsizing was an example of complete failure in the traffic management where the authorised IWT officials avoided their call (to decide) on time. There are wild allegations about the practices of some officials to allow private boats to operate on prime time instead of the department run ferries for personal gains. The department could have increased the number of ramps at the site according the demand of daily passengers on Nimatighat-Majui water rout, the statement said, adding that the department now should consider erecting separate ramps for departure and arrival of vessels in all riverine locations across the State. https://www.counterview.net/2021/09/boat-accident-assam-engineers-body.html  (21 Sept. 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Sabarmati; Ahmedabad Riverfront not a flowing river: HC task force The Gujarat High Court appointed Joint Task Force (JTF) has submitted that the waterbody in PM Narendra Modi’s pet project Sabarmati Riverfront is a stagnant water body, which has been polluted by illegal dumping of industrial effluents through Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) waters. The JTF constituted by the Gujarat HC informed the court on Thursday that the water body in the Sabarmati Riverfront was not having an environmental flow (e-flow) of water. “The waters at the Sabarmati Riverfront do not have an e-flow of water and scientifically no discharge could be allowed to be dumped into such a water body,” said Rohit Prajapati, a member of the JTF. “The Sabarmati Riverfront waters are in a bad shape as the STP discharges are released into it. These STP have been legally allowed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to receive industrial effluents,” said Prajapati. https://www.theweekendleader.com/Headlines/69344/modis-pet-project-sabarmati-riverfront-not-a-flowing-river-gujarat-hc-task-force.html  (24 Sept. 2021)

Ulhas; Mumbai Sewage leaks into fresh water After an incident of sewage water getting mixed up with drinking water supply at the Khemani nullah area, a complaint has been lodged against Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC) for criminal negligence.

“We are dismayed by the fact that despite the Ulhas river case being monitored by the Supreme Court, there is hardly any seriousness on the part of the polluter, be it industries or urban bodies like UMC, to stop this reckless endangering of human lives. We urge you to initiate criminal proceedings against the guilty officers. A permanent diversion must be made on a war footing to avoid any such incidents in the future,” Stalin wrote in his complaint. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thane/mumbai-trouble-for-umc-as-sewage-leaks-into-fresh-water/articleshow/86383309.cms  (21 Sept. 2021)

Tawi, Jammu River front project to be completed by Dec 2022 In a meeting, the Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta was apprised of the details of the 7 km long project to be completed at an estimated cost of Rs. 187 crore. Initial 2.7 km from Bhagwati Nagar Barrage to Vikram Chowk Bridge will be taken up under phase I, according to a statement.

The Chief Secretary directed that the period of execution be reduced from 18 to 12 months. Regarding the work on Tawi Barrage at Bhagwati Nagar bridge, which is an integral part of the river front development project for creating a lake in the area, the Chief Secretary directed the Chief Engineer Irrigation & Flood Control to ensure its completion before the onset of monsoon 2022. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/kashmir/tawi-river-front-development-project-to-be-completed-by-december-2022  (22 Sept. 2021)

RIVERS

Book Review “MAHANADI: TALE OF A RIVER” by ANITA AGNIHOTRI, translated from original Bengali book of 2015. “A classic example of realist eco-fiction, it effortlessly straddles the domains of geography, sociology, cultural history and anthropology”. https://www.asianage.com/books/250921/book-review-a-great-rivers-stories-that-inquire-inform.html  (25 Sept. 2021)

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK: The government had directed them to leave behind all the stuff, as well as the unreaped crops and plants, saying, ‘You will be given money that will be equivalent in terms of the price of all those things you have left behind.’ That compensation had never come their way afterwards. They had had to come away after getting Rs 400 per acre. This was the last refugee group of the people displaced by the Hirakud dam who had had to go away from Kutherpali. Until the water level reached up to their nose, they had sat there believing that they might eventually not have to get evacuated from their village – perhaps the work of building the dam would get stalled, or maybe the government would change its decision, and such like. The women were crying in spasms as they went along. They had wept all the way, and in different ways. They had blended the lamentation in their hearts with a sort of broken melody and poured it all into the singing of old songs. The faces of the men were stern, grim and despondent. The government had driven them away. This had really hurt all of them. This was the government of independent India. http://www.millenniumpost.in/books/life-along-mahanadi-454158  (25 Sept. 2021)

Goa 5 tourists rescued from swollen river Five tourists from Delhi needed to be rescued from their vehicle after they overestimated the wading capacity of the Mahindra Thar vehicle they were driving and attempted to cross a fast-flowing stream on their way to Goa’s Dudhsagar waterfalls. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/five-delhi-tourists-rescued-from-swollen-river-in-goa-after-vehicle-stops-midstream-101632312337053.html  (22 Sept. 2021)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh Newly created channel gets lost in floods On detecting large scale irregularities in the project the district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma has not only stopped the payment of Rs 4.8 crore but has also asked the UPPCL and its contractor to bring the channel in the shape as mentioned in the project by incorporating suggestions of river engineering experts and local stake holders to initiate corrective measures for avoiding losses faced by the project due to flood. The DM has also recommended a probe into matter to the state government.

The project was started not only to reduce water velocity on the western bank of river Ganga to check further erosion under the mythological ghats but also for other purposes. The project, which become possible following relocation of tortoise sanctuary, ensured 60% river water in old channel on western bank while 40% water in the new channel towards eastern bank with the depth of new channel is 7-8 meters to facilitate the cargo vessels on national waterway-I. It led to creation of a sand island in over 5 km area. The officials expected that this sand island will not only attract picnickers in normal days but also help in hosting mega cultural events like Rann Mahotsava in future. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/irrigation-dept-comes-under-lens-after-newly-created-channel-gets-lost-in-floods/articleshow/86466888.cms  (24 Sept. 2021)

YAMUNA Delhi Yamuna becoming potential reservoirs of superbugs Manoj Misra, YJA Superbugs in our rivers are a growing concern. These are antibiotics resistant pathogens which develop in the gut of people with a tendency to misuse or overuse traditional antibiotics. Sewage originating from such homes is bound to carry such pathogens and in turn infect others too. Waters of river Yamuna are already known to carry such a superbug named appropriately NDM-1 which is short for New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase, a bacterial gene.  Other sources of these superbugs are hospitals and cattle farms. Superbugs are now being reported from all over the world and there is a fear amongst health experts that unless better sense prevails, humans might be entering a post-antibiotic age.  

If we think that bad as it may be, it’s good riddance once all this sewage and the toxic matter have left our homes, then think again. A significant part of the water in a pond or a river becomes groundwater and despite natural cleansing properties of soil and rocks, persistent pollutants like pesticides manage to re-enter our homes as food and drinking water. This is when either polluted groundwater is drawn to meet our water needs or the so-called fresh vegetables and grains in our house had been irrigated with the water that we had a role in polluting. Circular pollution couldn’t be more perfect and readymade to deliver us ill health.  Yes, state agencies deserve all the flak for failing to ‘rejuvenate’ our rivers, but shall we also look closely inside our homes in search of ‘invited’ though avoidable toxic material that could be responsible too. https://thedialogue.co.in/article/zr7vcBMw6ICocFsWQNqc/yamuna-and-other-wetlands-are-becoming-potential-reservoirs-of-superbugs–  (21 Sept. 2021)

Time to create a real connect between river and people  It needs to be remembered that there are already people whose lives and livelihoods are intertwined with the river – the farmers on its floodplains and its fisherfolk – who have the longest standing relationship with the river and its floodplains. Not only do they sustain through it, they have also helped maintain its floodplains, free from encroachments in the name of development.

Unless the riverfront development integrates them into its future visions, the floodplains face the imminent risk of gentrification. Simply making provision for urban farming without acknowledging and integrating existing farmers and fisherfolk into the overall vision for riverfront development creates an imminent risk of gentrification.

A real “river-people connect” will only be possible if the people who actually know the Yamuna, know it deeply as one only knows home, are appreciated as its natural guardians and incentivised to maintain it as a social, cultural, and economic asset. The Delhi Development Authority must not let go of this opportunity to create a truly inclusive, participatory Plan which creates a lasting impetus towards bringing Delhi closer to the Yamuna. https://scroll.in/article/1005714/delhi-master-plan-2041-what-will-it-take-to-create-a-real-connect-between-yamuna-and-city-dwellers  (21 Sept. 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Western Ghats Major additions to new flora In 2020, 202 new plant species were discovered across the country and 65 new records were added. With these new discoveries the latest estimate of plant diversity in India stands at 54,733 taxa including 21,849 angiosperms, 82 gymnosperms, 1310 Pteridophytes, 2791 bryophytes, 2961 lichens, 15,504 fungi, 8979 algae and 1257 microbes. During the last decade a total number of 3,245 taxa of plants from different plant groups have been discovered from India. Most discoveries have been made from seed plants, with 1,199 (37%) taxa, followed by fungi 894 (27%). https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/new-wild-banana-variety-among-267-new-plants-recorded-in-2020/article36570904.ece  (20 Sept. 2021)

Arunachal Pradesh 2 new species of ants discovered Two new species of rare ants have been discovered from Arunachal Pradesh by a team of researchers from ATREE. The research team which includes two researchers from Kerala has discovered the species from Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary (EWS). One of the species has been named Parasyscia ganeshaiahi in honour of writer, ecologist and one of the founders of ATREE- professor K N Ganeshaiah. It is for the first time the genus has been recorded from Arunachal Pradesh. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/sep/12/two-new-species-of-ants-discovered-2357525.html  (12 Sept. 2021)

Mizoram 2 new ant species found Two new species of a rare ant genus, Myrmecina, have been discovered in Mizoram by a team of scientists from ATREE, a statement said. The discovery marks the first known presence of the genus in Mizoram and pushes up the number of Myrmecina species in India to seven. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/two-new-ant-species-found-in-mizoram-101624215153442.html  (21 June 2021)

Kerala; Tamil Nadu 2 new species of ants discovered Two new species of a rare ant genus have been discovered in Kerala and Tamil Nadu by a team of scientists, the Department of Science and Technology said on Saturday (Jan. 23).

One of the two species found in the Periyar Tiger Reserve of Kerala has been named Ooceraea Joshii in honour of professor Amitabh Joshi — a distinguished evolutionary biologist from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). The other named Ooceraea decamera (decamera refers to the ten-segmented antennal count) was discovered from Alagarkoil in Madurai.

“The species of the ant genus Ooceraea found in Kerala and Tamil Nadu add to the diversity of this rare genus. They differ from others of the same genus on the basis of the number of antennal segments,” the DST said. The discovery has been published in the journal ZooKeys. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/two-new-species-of-ants-discovered-from-kerala-and-tamil-nadu/article33642990.ece  (23 Jan. 2021)

SAND MINING

Uttarakhand Sand Mining Behind Bridge Collapses The latest is the collapse of several bridges, including the critical Dehradun-Rishikesh bridge on the Jhakan river, that left thousands of commuters scrambling for alternate routes.

The vital Dehradun-Rishikesh bridge connected the Jolly Grant airport with premier destinations in Uttarakhand. PWD engineers used to boast that this bridge would last over 100 years. Timely action by the NDRF could rescue those stranded on the collapsed bridge. The state government immediately attributed the bridge collapse to heavy rains, but residents of the nearby Rani Pokhari village blamed the collapse on rampant sand mining.

“We have made several complaints against sand mining to the authorities but no one listened to us,” said Vinod Rawat, an elderly farmer from the village. https://www.newsclick.in/sand-mining-behind-bridge-collapses-uttarakhand  (20 Sept. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Bridge in Kullu suffers damage A resident Gautam said that the bridge connects nine panchayats of Garsa valley and heavy tippers and dumpers also use this bridge. He said that bridge was built by the NHPC for its Parbati Hydro Electric Project in 2001 but no maintenance was carried out since then due to which the bridge was getting damaged. The concrete had started wearing out from a portion of the bridge and a plate had been damaged.

Meanwhile, some residents raised questions on the quality and designs of the bridges being built in the state. They said that some bridges of the British era were still good and while the recently constructed bridges were not lasting even for two decades. They said that Bhootnath bridge at Sarwari area of Kullu town developed cracks within five years of its construction and has been lying closed since January 2019. They demanded that the constructing companies should be made accountable for the stability of the bridges. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/traffic-diverted-as-bridge-in-kullu-suffers-damage-313879  (21 Sept. 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Report Sundarbans rare species threatened by human activities In Indian Sundarbans, conversion of shoreline mangroves to shrimp farms and other pisciculture farms is very popular and it is the main source of income for the local people. However, these livelihoods come at the cost of frequent clearing of the shorelines once occupied by native mangrove species. Thus, the habitats of many species continue to be reclaimed for shrimp culture, in spite of knowing that mangrove destruction could also be counter-productive, as the shrimp industry depends on various ecological services provided by the mangrove ecosystem in order to maintain its continued productivity. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/expert-explains-rare-species-sundarbans-threatened-by-human-activities-7527840/  (23 Sept. 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Goa Curti-Khandepar villagers revive 5 waterbodies Over the past three years, the villagers of Curti-Khandepar panchayat united to bring back to life as many as five community ponds, choked to death with waste and silt. For the most part, if the work required was minor, locals didn’t even bother waiting for government funds to be sanctioned. Now, the villagers’ perseverance has inspired a government scheme, which will aid such efforts by locals across any village in the state.

The village biodiversity management committee desilted this pond. ToI image

The work in the Ponda village was initiated at first by the Curti-Khandepar biodiversity management committee (BMC). The five ponds which have been revived were earlier used for irrigation by the community, but gradually neglect had pushed them to the verge of choking to non-existence. “Currently, locals have cleaned community ponds in Keri, Panchme, Kelbai, Copperwada and Curti area,” said Gurudas Khedekar, sarpanch of the panchayat. Having tasted success with the revival of the five water bodies so far, the locals have begun work on another four to five ponds. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/curti-khandepar-villagers-revive-five-water-bodies-inspire-a-govt-scheme/articleshow/86354032.cms  (20 Sept. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Initiative to clean drains in urban local bodies Nearly one lakh workers have begun cleaning storm water drains in all the urban local bodies in the state to prepare for the rains. The drive from September 20 to 25, including in Chennai, aims to ensure streets and residential areas don’t flood in the northeast monsoon with the risk of water-borne diseases. The state highways department also commenced a mega-desilting exercise along Chennai’s arterial roads.

As many as 23,838 workers in corporations, 42,634 in municipalities and 28,624 in town panchayats are involved. In Chennai, 2,414 workers are engaged in the clean-up in 15 zones, and 722 workers will clear the silt removed from the 83km of drains. “Not only SWDs but macro drains, waterways of major bridges and wells of vehicular subways will also be desilted this week before Friday,” said a highway official.. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/tamil-nadu-1-lakh-workers-begin-to-clean-drains-in-urban-local-bodies/articleshow/86416806.cms  (22 Sept. 2021)

URBAN WATER

Jharkhand $112 million loan to improve water supply infra Govt of India has signed a $112 million loan with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to develop water supply infrastructure and strengthen capacities of urban local bodies (ULBs) for improved service delivery in four towns—Ranchi, Hussainabad, Jhumri Telaiya and Medininagar, in the state. With the project, ADB will establish the state’s first model for continuous water supply, as well as implement policy reforms to ensure sustainability. A total of four water treatment plants will be built, with a combined capacity of 275 million liters of water per day, to provide safe drinking water that meets national standards. Along with this, the project will also establish 940 kilometers of water distribution network to provide continuous water supply to around 115,000 households. https://www.indiainfoline.com/article/news-top-story/india-adb-sign-112-million-loan-to-improve-water-supply-infrastructure-in-jharkhand-121090900562_1.html  (09 Sept. 2021)

Kolkata Where does city get its water from? Kolkata is situated in the world’s largest delta – Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna Rivers – but seems to have become disconnected from its watery roots. In this video Veditum India explores how Kolkata’s water supply systems have evolved over the years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvK6UQfaO3c  (23 Sept. 2021)

Nainital Encroaching Sukhatal in the name of restoration Instead of restoring the degraded Sukhatal, developmental authorities are converting the alive wetland into a dead swimming pool, thereby killing its wetland status forever and creating deadly repercussions for the Nainital Town. https://countercurrents.org/2021/09/encroaching-a-wetland-in-the-name-of-rejuvenation-sukhatal-lake-restoration-project-tells-the-story/  (22 Sept. 2021)

Rajkot Admin exploring possibility to revive Nyari-II dam The Rajkot Municipal Corporation Friday (Sept. 24) said that it is exploring the possibilities of resuming drawing water from Nyari-II dam and supply it as potable water after purifying it at a treatment plant and reverse osmosis (RO) plants after arresting city sewage water currently draining into the reservoir. Officials visited the dam for this on Sept 24, 2021.

– Located on north-western outskirts of the city, Nyari-II dam has designed gross storage capacity of 433 million cubic feet (mcft) water and 407 mcft live storage. However, sewage of almost half of Rajkot city drains into this dam. The sewage had made the Nyari-II water unsafe for drinking and the RMC was forced to stop drawing water from this reservoir around eight years ago. Since the time the RMC was forced to abandon Nyari-II, upstream Nyari-I dam and Aji dam are the only local sources of drinking water for Rajkot.

The irrigation department, which controls Bhadar dam, reserves 10,000 mcft water for Rajkot. (Express Photo)

– Officers have been asked to prepare a feasibility report of diverting the sewage nullahs that take sewage from Rajkot to Nyari dam. They have also been asked to do feasibility of the STP and RO plant to treat the Nyari water and supply to Rajkot. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/rajkot/exploring-possibility-to-revive-nyari-ii-dam-as-source-of-drinking-water-rajkot-commissioner-7533005/  (25 Sept. 2021)

Bengaluru Encroachments cleared from 1500 lakes: R Ashoka Parts of over 1,500 lakes in Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts and BBMP limits were encroached and the authorities have managed to clear unauthorised structures in over 1,100 lakes.

Revenue Minister R Ashoka on Wednesday (Sept. 22) informed the Council that they will continue the drive to clear encroachments in all lakes. “In Bengaluru Urban, 236 acres in 114 lakes were recovered in the last two months.  We have taken up the work on boundary trench, fencing and planting saplings along the lake boundary,” he said. He said in the BBMP limits, they had done a survey of 160 lakes and found that parts of 148 lakes were encroached. Encroachments are cleared in 12 lakes and the drive will continue, he added. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2021/sep/23/encroachments-cleared-from-11-k-bengaluru-lakes-r-ashoka-2362482.html  (23 Sept. 2021)

BWSSB’s cesspool The revamping of Koramangala Valley has been struck by a new hurdle. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had hoped to complete at least the first phase of the rejuvenation project by the end of 2021 but a sudden flow of untreated sewage water into the storm water drain has squashed the civic body’s plans.

So far BWSSB has completed 95 per cent of the sewage diversion work in Koramangala. (Banglore Mirror)

It may be noted, P Ravi Kumar, Chief Secretary, Karnataka, had earlier directed Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to ensure that the drain is free of sewage. BWSSB had laid a new pipeline along the drain from KR Market to Bellandur to ensure that sewage does not flow into the drain. Despite the upgrade in the infrastructure, BWSSB engineers failed to keep the drain sewage-free.  https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/bwssbs-cesspool/articleshow/86384953.cms  (21 Sept. 2021) 

NGT panel favours imposing Rs 24cr fine A joint committee including members from CPCB, BBMP and BWSSB has recommended a fine for Rs 23.71cr from BBMP (Rs 17.83 Cr), BWSSB (Rs 2.94 Cr) and the Madras Enggineering Group and the Centre (Rs 2.94 Cr) for non-implementation of the NGT recommendations last year, after and inspection recently ordered by NGT, related to the Halasuru lake in Bangalore. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/ngt-panel-favours-imposing-rs-24-crore-fine-on-bbmp-bwssb-for-failure-to-upkeep-ulsoor-lake-1034482.html  (26 Sept. 2021)

RWH norms expanded despite low compliance with 2011 law With fewer than two lakh houses in the city of Bengaluru having installed rainwater harvesting systems since a 2011 law made it mandatory for new houses, city officials and experts are not enthused by a new bill that makes it necessary for all large buildings to harvest and utilise rainwater.

The law does not apply to old houses built on 30×40 feet sites but new houses on the smaller sites will also have to install rainwater harvesting systems. Experts believe that the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board will face an uphill task in ensuring compliance. BWSSB chairman N Jayaram said that less than two lakh houses have installed rainwater harvesting structures in Bengaluru since the passage of the 2011 law. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-rainwater-harvesting-norms-expanded-low-compliance-2011-law-7520883/  (21 Sept. 2021)

Delhi Slum residents struggle to stay afloat amid monsoon The Capital City’s poor drainage makes life tougher for the ones living in JJ clusters — as they are at the receiving end of the hazards caused during monsoon, be it water-borne diseases or waterlogging; with no significant help from the authority. https://thepatriot.in/2021/09/21/delhi-slum-residents-struggle-to-stay-afloat-amid-monsoon/  (21 Sept. 2021)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Bihar JJM contracts worth Rs 53 cr given to Dy CM’s family, aides On the ground, the implementation of the scheme has also been marked by political patronage to a sweeping set of beneficiaries that corrodes Nitish’s message of good governance, a four-month-long investigation by The Indian Express has revealed. Top of the list are family members and aides of BJP legislature party leader and Deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad who got projects worth over Rs 53 crore under the scheme. Then come a slew of state-level leaders of the two ruling parties, JD(U) and BJP — a testament to how politics permeates the civil construction business here when it comes to implementing government schemes. https://indianexpress.com/article/express-exclusive/bihars-flagship-scheme-gave-tap-water-to-poor-and-contracts-worth-rs-53-crore-to-dy-cms-family-aides-7525809/  (24 Sept. 2021)

On tap water in Madhubani It was a case of celebration without verification. In mid-August the Centre’s online tracker for Jal Jeevan Mission put out a stunning claim: 1.5 cr families in Bihar had been provided with tap water in the past two years. Implying that 87% of the households in Bihar had tap water. Just two years ao less than 2% of Bihar households had tap water.

– The same day BIhar govt clarified that JJM had contributed less than 6% contribution came from JJM. Rest was due to Bihar Govt’s Har Ghar Jal prrogram.

– All 278 households in Balra Ismail, a village 25 kms south of Muzaffarpur city of Bihar is supposed to have tap water. In reality NONE has it. (Watch a villager express frustration: https://youtu.be/bcs507nfsMA; Also see a video about the reality that a private water supplier provides water in the village: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlihrnPSsHA&feature=emb_imp_woyt )

– Video on tap water supply in a village in Madhubani: https://youtu.be/rEW9RLxBkUY

– Even where the water does come in tap, normal problems are: Erratic and limited timing and poor quality. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/86112296.cms  (13 Sept. 2021)

WATER

New water policy  By Mihir Shah On November 5, 2019, the Ministry of Jal Shakti set up a committee to draft a new National Water Policy (NWP). The earlier NWPs of 1987, 2002 and 2012 were drafted entirely within the government system. This is the first time that the government decided to set up a committee of independent experts to draft the policy. I had the great honour and privilege of being asked to chair the 2019 committee. The members of the committee included the country’s leading water experts from diverse backgrounds, including those who have held key positions within government in the past, as also professionals from academia and civil society.

The committee held 16 meetings over the period of one year. It heard and received 124 submissions by experts, academics, practitioners and stakeholders. This included submissions by governments of 21 states and 5 Union Territories and 35 presentations and submissions by departments and ministries of the Government of India. What we found truly remarkable is the striking consensus in perspectives and suggestions across the spectrum, from central and state governments to stakeholders from outside government. There appears to be a clear recognition that the water crisis we face today is truly unprecedented and that we need to rapidly move towards a new paradigm of water management and governance that reflects both the emerging realities on the ground, as also the growing understanding of water in the 21st century.

As a committee we were heartened by a very similar recognition being repeatedly articulated from the highest echelons of government. The president of India, writing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, said: “Respect for nature may be the next lesson intended for us. Faced with an extraordinary crisis, most people tend to be selfish, but this is a crisis that teaches us to think equally of others. Nature is reminding us to acknowledge, with humility, our quintessential equality and inter-dependency.” In a similar vein, the vice president has said: “Let us accord prime importance to protect Mother Nature, re-orient the development models and consumerism-driven lifestyles. We are living in an inter-connected world and cannot continue with business-as-usual approach in the quest for development and modernisation as every action impacts the environment.”

These statements have immediate and far-reaching implications for water policy. Ever since Independence, our water policy has been dictated by a “command-and-control” approach towards nature. This is inherent in the larger development paradigm that has failed to adequately recognise that the economy is but a small part of the larger ecosystem. What we need to acknowledge is the profound inter-connectedness and inter-dependence that characterises the world we live in and to be humble in our approach to natural systems, showing them the respect they deserve and recognise that prakriti rakshati rakshita (Nature protects those who protect her). The new NWP has also been guided by five key water reforms enunciated by the prime minister: (a) the need to break down the silos into which we have divided water; (b) respect for the immense diversity of India while planning for water; (c) greater focus on management and distribution of water; (d) higher priority to recycling and reuse of water; and (e) raising people’s awareness and people’s participation in management of water.

We concurred with the suggestion of the minister for Jal Shakti that unlike the water policies of the past, the new NWP should not end up as just a token statement of pious intentions, looking good on paper but not getting translated into action on the ground. Thus, the new NWP spells out both specific strategies, as also definite time-lines, within which key provisions of the policy would be implemented. In addition to the usual practice of placing the NWP in the public domain to receive feedback from the people, the minister for Jal Shakti has proposed that different aspects of the NWP should also be discussed threadbare in a series of open workshops with stakeholders concerned with those specific aspects of the policy, before the Government of India takes a final view on the NWP drafted by the committee of independent experts. According to established procedure, the final approval of the NWP, of course, rests with the National Water Resources Council, which is chaired by the prime minister and includes all chief ministers as members.

Even as this process unfolds, through a series of weekly articles over the next one month, I will place before the readers, key provisions of the new NWP and the thinking behind including these elements in the policy. I will also try to highlight aspects of the policy that represent a significant departure from the past, why these departures were considered important and how exactly these are proposed to be implemented on the ground. It is my sincere hope that this background will enable stakeholders who participate in the consultations around the policy, to gain a prior and deeper understanding of the approach, principles, thrust areas and direction proposed by the new NWP. https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/a-new-water-policy-for-india-121092001544_1.html  (20 Sept. 2021)

AGRICULTURE

Odisha From ACHUT DAS: RUPDHAR JANI: PROFILE OF A TRIBAL FARMER OF AN ECOVILLAGE- KANDRAGUDA

Mr. Rupdhar Jani belongs to Kandraguda Village, Pujariguda G.P. of Tentulikhunti Block of Nabarangpur District. Anyone visiting the village will not miss him as everyone speaks about him and his achievements.  He is a small farmer with a piece of land consisting of 1 acre. It has no source of irrigation. He had taken up only maize cultivation under rain fed conditions, which remain fallow during other seasons. From only one crop of maize in rainy season, he was getting average Rs. 9500/- per year. With this meager amount he was not happy to manage his family properly. Therefore every year he was migrating to other places like Kerala, Bangalore and Chennai etc. for wage earning.

According to Rupdhar Jani, “Initially village meetings were organised by Agragamee funded by KKS (Karl Kubel Stiftung), Germany where it was explained the importance of Family Farm through raising fruit orchard development, intercropping of vegetables. After realizing the usefulness of the project, the pre-establishment works of the family farm like land development, fencing and pit digging etc. in 1 acre land has been started.” He was keenly sharing these deliberations. However, in the beginning of the activities under the Eco-Village Development project Rupdhar Jani was convinced to establish family farm. He was provided with 65 fruit plants (35 cashew, 30 grafted mango plants) for fruit orchard development in 0.75 acres and 150 forest species (chakunda- Cassia Siamia, simarua, karanja, subabul, jackfruit and tamarind etc.) for border plantation to fulfill the need of fuel, fodder timber and other requirements. Apart from that in 0.25 acres he cultivated millet, pulses, maize and paddy as annual cropping for food security. During kharif season (rainy season)  he was cultivated different vegetables like tomato, brinjal, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, chili, cowpea, beans, onion and pumpkin as intercropping, this not only supplemented his family income by selling the surplus vegetables in the nearby market, but also provided a rich source of nutrition for his children..  However his wife helped him in every step of family farm development works like land development, plantation, fencing, weeding, hoeing and harvesting etc.

Apart from that he was provided training conducted by Agragamee to understand the significance of family farm development and its impact on livelihood, food and nutritional securities. A manual on sustainable agriculture (regional language) has also provided to him to enhance his skill and knowledge. It helped him to augment his skill on organic farming, millet cultivation, intercropping and soil, water and forest conservation etc. Apart from that he was taken on an exposure visit to nearest organic millet cultivation area where he learnt about the steps of millet growing, treatment, harvest, storage and marketing, rain fed farming and sustainable agriculture etc. by interacting with the progressive farmers.   .

After returning to his village, he took up all the following measures to increase the productivity of his land.

• Bundling of land across the slope to conserve soil and moisture and converted into small plots

• Added sufficient organic manures in all the plots and mixed with soil

• Prepared vermin compost and added in the soil

• Took up green manuring in the plots

With all these above activities, he increased the productivity of land. He took up all his crops under Organic Farming system. This kind of act has been augmented his confidence on family farm and it has become the ultimate source of income for his family. He could realize the benefits of this type of farming system and sharing the practice with other farmer of neighboring villages.

The agriculture  production details of Rupdhar Jani of two years comparison has mentioned below;

Sl. No. Particulars 2015-16 2020-21

 Quantity (kg.) Total Quantity Total Amount

(Rs.) Quantity (kg.) Total Quantity Total Amount

(Rs.)

 Consume Sale Consume Sale

1 Millet — — — — 290 kg. 575 kg. 865 kg. 29367.00

2 Maize 75 kg. 550 kg. 625 kg. 9375.00 — — — —

3 Pulses — — — — 380 kg. 145 kg. 525 kg. 31500.00

4 Vegetable — — — — 770 kg.  560 kg. 1330 kg. 39900.00

5 Paddy 225 kg. — 225 kg. 2700.00

 Total 850 kg. 12075.00 2720 kg. 100767.00

(Facebook does not insert tables. The Income in 2015-16 was Rs.12075 and now in 2020-21 it is Rs. 100767).

The above activities have been encouraged him to make his family farm as a model in the locality. It has been strengthening his livelihood and he has become an ideal farmer for others. His continued effort in promotion of millet cultivation will sustain the culture of traditional agriculture as supportive act in a well-managed manner and inspire other farmers in the locality.

Moreover, Family Farm has been securing sustainable livelihoods and improved standard of living of the tribal farmers. It has direct impact on health, social life and poverty reduction. Natural resources like land, water and forest have been managed to sustain the main livelihood resources of the target population.

What is Rupdhar’s contribution to the community? It is only PERSEVERENCE and BEST PRACTICES. As examples for others to emulate.

What is his future plan? He wants to be a trainer in the entire area- a BAREFOOT EXPERT on Ecological Farming, Fortunately the Department of Agriculture, Government of Odisha has sanctioned a BPKP ( Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati)  Project in his area which he is going to make use of it to improve his quality of life! https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fachyutdas%2Fposts%2F4754963434549489&show_text=true&width=500 

MONSOON 2021

Assam Golaghat hasn’t had normal monsoon in 30 yrs Strange! This report by DTE claims that Golaghat dist has not seen normal monsoon for 30 years, but does not provide, data, reference or quote to support this claim. Is this reporter’s claim without any support? https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/climate-crisis-in-north-east-india-assam-s-golaghat-hasn-t-had-normal-monsoon-in-30-years-79121  (21 Sept. 2021)

Report Sept rain in excess in the country The September rainfall in India is 27% more than what’s normal for the month. With a fresh rain-bearing pressure system forming in the Bay of Bengal, it is also likely that the withdrawal of the monsoon, which normally starts by September 17, is expected to be delayed. Until August-end, a crippling rainfall deficit had brought India dangerously close to a drought like situation with a nearly 9% deficit, but a resurgence of rainfall since September has narrowed the deficit to 3%.

Delayed monsoon withdrawals aren’t unusual. In 2019, the southwest monsoon commenced withdrawal on October 9, and last year, the withdrawal began on September 28. The monsoon also saw delayed withdrawals in 2017 and 2018. From September 1-20, rainfall was excessive in all regions of the country. Central India saw an excess of 71% over what’s normal and northwest India 26% over its normal. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/september-rain-in-excess-in-the-country/article36571419.ece  (20 Sept. 2021)

Kolkata City gets highest rains in 14 years Kolkata broke the record for highest rainfall in 14 years as the city recorded over 200 mm of rainfall in the last two days. The previous such record was in 2007 when the city witnessed 174 mm rain. While airports, hospitals and roads are beginning to inundate, the meteorological department is predicting heavy rains to continue for another day.

The Regional Weather Centre in Kolkata said that in the last two days the areas around Alipore have received 20 centimetres of rain while parts of north Kolkata have seen 22 centimetres of rain along with the Salt Lake area recording 24 centimetres. Senior officials at the Met said that this is a major record for back to back rains and the highest in the last 14 years. https://www.indiatoday.in/science/story/kolkata-rains-imd-bay-of-bengal-cyclonic-pressure-odisha-weather-1855236-2021-09-21  (21 Sept. 2021)

FLOOD 2021

‘WebFRIS’ expected to mitigate flood destruction Researchers from IIT-Bombay have come up with an easy to use web portal that can potentially help in informed policy making in mitigating the disastrous effects of floods on the vulnerable communities.  https://en.gaonconnection.com/flood-disaster-management-webfris-iit-bombay-bihar-poverty-deaths-displacement-agriculture/  (10 Sept. 2021)

W Bengal Galudih dam worsoned floods This mentions the impact in W Bengal of water releases from Jharkhand Barrage on Subarnarekha river during 14-18 Sept 2021. “The situation was worsened after dam releases from the Galudih Barrage Dam on the Subarnarekha river in Ulda in the neighbouring state of Jharkhand.” https://floodlist.com/asia/india-west-bengal-floods-september-2021

Nagaland Never seen before floods This also talks about the dam induced floods brought by NEEPCO’s Doyang HEP in Nagaland in July 2018, besides the climate induced impacts. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/climate-crisis-in-north-east-india-why-nagaland-s-liphi-runchan-villages-saw-floods-never-seen-before-79098  (20 Sept. 2021)

Maharashtra Many dam gates opened Out of the record maintained for 10 rivers flowing through districts under Nagpur division by state’s water resources department (WRD), only two — Bagh and Bawanthadi — in Gondia are flowing above the danger mark. Two out of seven gates of the Nand dam and three of the Vadgaon project in Nagpur district have been opened 0.15 and 0.10 meter, says a note from the WRD. At the Bor dam, 13 have been opened till 4.5 meters. Even Lower Wardha’s 13 gates are opened at a height of 0.3 meters.

The Gosikhurd dam has 21 gates opened at 0.50 meters. At the same time, 24 gates of the Mendigatta barrage in Telangana are opened, says the note. In Amravati division, three gates of the Upper Wardha dam, a large project in Amravati district, have been opened apart from Bembla and Wan in Yavatmal and Akola districts respectively. The Khadakpurna project in Buldhana, which is a drought prone area, also has its five gates open. Vijay Jawandhia, a farm activist from Wardha, said the rains have already taken a toll on the soyabean & cotton crop. Officials of the agriculture dept too expressed concern that continuing rains may hamper soyabean crop. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/many-dam-gates-opened-after-rains-across-region-soya-cotton-at-stake/articleshow/86409173.cms  (22 Sep 2021)

Odisha River Jalka in Subernarekha basin at Mathani road bridge site in Baleshwar district has crossed previous HFL 7.05 m attained on 27.08.2020 by 0.3 m. New HFL is 7.35 m attained at 10:00 hrs on 22.09.2021. It remained above HFL for 10 hrs from 07:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs on 22.09.2021.

Crops damaged over 2000 ha land The heavy downpour under the influence of deep depression over the Bay of Bengal has damaged crops on more than 2000 hectares of farmland, 483 houses in Mayurbhanj district. After assessing the damage caused by the incessant rain, the State Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Sudam Marndi, on Monday, ordered the authorities to prepare a detailed report on the crop loss and submit it to the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) within 10 days.

According to sources, as many as 22 blocks, 127 panchayats and 396 villages in Mayurbhanj have been affected due to the heavy rainfall triggered by low pressure. Along with that, over 5,000 individuals were affected and around 483 houses under Baripada municipality were damaged in the rain. Besides, crops on 2,120 hectares of farmland have been destroyed in the heavy downpour. https://odishatv.in/news/miscellaneous/odisha-rains-crops-over-2000-hectares-of-land-483-houses-damaged-in-mayurbhanj-160153  (21 Sept. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Flood alert issued for 5 districts A flood alert was issued for five districts of Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram and Cuddalore — on Thursday (Sept. 23) after the KRP (Krishnagiri Reservoir Project) dam almost reached its full capacity of 52 feet.

Public works department (PWD) officials said the water level in the dam stood at 51.20 feet on Thursday against its capacity of 52 feet. Inflow was measured at 400 cusecs while the discharge was maintained at 559 cusecs.

Krishnagiri district collector V Jaya Chandra Bhanu Reddy stated that the flood alert would be applicable throughout the Thenpennai river pathways starting from the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border to Cuddalore district, where the river merged with the Bay of Bengal. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/salem/krishnagiri-dam-nearing-full-capacity-flood-alert-issued-for-five-districts/articleshow/86454140.cms  (23 Sept. 2021)

URBAN FLOODS

Kolkata Airport flooded again Torrential rains lashed Kolkata and neighbouring districts since the early hours of Monday (Sept. 20), throwing normal life out of gear on the first working day of the week, as the Met forecast more downpour for at least another day. A video of the Kolkata airport showed cars submerged in water after the city witnessed heavy rainfall.  Severe waterlogging at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, following heavy rainfall in the city.  

More than 100 mm rain was recorded at different places in the city from 1 am to 7 am, submerging many important thoroughfares and low-lying areas under knee-deep water. The drainage pumping stations of Kolkata Municipal Corporation recorded 136 mm rain at Dhapa, 115 mm at Kalighat and 109 mm at Ballygunge, an official said.

As per the Met department figures for 24 hours till 8.30 am on Monday (Sept. 20), Kolkata received the highest rainfall in at 142 mm. The other places which recorded heavy precipitation during the 24-hour period are Canning (113 mm) in South 24 Parganas, Salt Lake (112.8 mm) and Dum Dum (95 mm) in the northern outskirts of Kolkata, as per the Met department data. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/kolkata-airport-flooded-after-heavy-rainfall-watch-video-11632124991036.html  (20 Sept. 2021)

Three members of a family, including a 10-year-old boy, were found dead in a waterlogged home at Khardah near Kolkata on Tuesday (Sept. 21) after a day of heavy rains, with authorities suspecting electrocution was the cause of death. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/kolkata-rain-3-of-family-die-in-waterlogged-home-near-kolkata-trying-to-charge-phone-2548754  (21 Sept. 2021)

After rain ceased on Sep 21 morning, water began to recede from various inundated areas in Kolkata. But the reverse happened in New Town and pockets of Salt Lake with water level continuing to rise even long after it had stopped raining. The chocked Bagjola canal meant that water that was pumped into it flowed back into the township. The rising water level inundated water tanks in residential complexes, raising fear of water contamination. NKDA had to rush water tankers to several neighbourhoods. Most homes purchased drinking water from the market. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/storm-water-flows-back-from-choked-canal-floods-new-town-salt-lake/articleshow/86407713.cms  (22 Sept. 2021)

Chandigarh Sukhna Lake floodgate opened third time One of the three floodgates of Sukhna Lake was on Sept. 21 opened at 10.30 am after its water level reached near the danger mark of 1,163 ft. It is the third time in this monsoon season when the authorities have opened the floodgate. Earlier, the gate was opened on August 9 and August 14.

Two of the three floodgates had to be opened in August last year after the water level of the lake had crossed the danger mark and reached 1,163.4 ft. The gush of water led to flooding in the Baltana area in Mohali district. To avoid a repeat, the department decided to release water in limited quantity, said sources in the department.

Before this, on September 24, 2018, incessant rain in the catchment area had forced officials to open two floodgates of the lake. At that time, the gates were opened after a gap of 10 years. After the opening of the floodgates, the Sukhna choe carries the excess water of the lake into the Ghaggar. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/water-near-danger-mark-sukhna-lake-floodgate-opened-third-time-this-season-314288  (22 Sept. 2021)

The Chandigarh Administration on Thursday (Sept. 22) opened one of the three floodgates of Sukhna Lake after the water level reached near the danger mark of 1,163 feet. It is the fourth time in this monsoon season when the authorities have opened the floodgate. Earlier, the gate was opened on August 9, August 14 and September 21. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/chandigarh-admn-opens-sukhna-lake-floodgate-as-water-level-reaches-near-danger-mark-315144  (23 Sept. 2021)

LANDSLIDES

Uttarakhand Major highway closed due to landslide The Gangotri highway (NH-94) was closed for vehicular traffic from near Sukhi Top area due to landslide amid the incessant rainfall in Uttarkashi district on Tuesday (Sept. 14) after a large portion of it was breached following heavy rains due to which it got blocked at a number of places due to landslide debris.

Earlier, the Rishikesh-Gangotri NH was opened for light vehicular traffic 28 August, a day after a portion of it caved in near Fakot in Tehri district. The Rishikesh-Gangotri highway (NH-94) was closed for vehicular traffic from Narendra Nagar to Chamba on Friday (Sept. 10) after a large portion of it was breached following heavy rains in Fakot and it got blocked at a number of places due to landslide debris.

Meanwhile, the Kharar-Shimla NH number 205 was blocked due to a landslide near Judicial Academy, Ghandal in Himachal’s Shimla district on Monday (Sept. 13), a Disaster Management official said. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/gangotri-highway-in-uttarakhand-closed-due-to-landslide-details-here-11631594530309.html  (14 Sept. 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Interview R S TEJUS spoke to Ritwick Dutta on various issues confronting our environment today and the challenges in litigation.

Q. How difficult is it to get information during the current state of affairs?:- It is not easy. The RTI Act is no longer taken seriously by the Government. From being a ‘legal right’, it is now only a ‘request’ made by citizens for information from the government. The government very well knows that in case information is denied; there is nothing that the citizens can do since “appeals” against the decisions takes years to decide.

The Information Commission is today a retirement home of retired Civil Servants who have all their service life denied information to the public; and to expect them to usher in transparency after retirement is asking for too much. https://greenminute.in/2021/09/21/ritwick-dutta-no-real-victories-in-environmental-cases-only-projects-stopped-indefinitely/  (21 Sept. 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

India Spend Water Insecurity Warming-induced changes in the Himalaya-Karakoram region will impact water availability in the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra basins. Farming, hydropower and megacities such as Delhi & Lahore will face the brunt. https://www.indiaspend.com/climate-change/south-asia-water-insecurity-warming-himalayas-basins-760317  (12 July 2021)

 “When we have more meltwater in the future due to intense [glacier] melting and increase in monsoonal rains, we will have more water in rivers. At the same time, glaciers are melting earlier in the summer. Instead of June, they are melting in April. That means the seasonality of meltwater is changing. This shifting in the seasonality of meltwater will affect livelihoods and the economy,” Mohd. Farooq Azam, the lead author of the research and assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Indore, told India Spend.  https://scroll.in/article/999972/warming-in-the-himalayas-is-pushing-the-indian-subcontinent-towards-water-insecurity  (22 Sept. 2021)

DTE Gap between climate emergency perception, action 73% Indians are optimistic about avoiding climate crisis in their lifetime according to a survey by Epson; 4.1% don’t believe there is a climate emergency. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/renewable-energy/survey-highlights-gap-between-climate-emergency-perception-action-in-india-79072  (17 Sept. 2021)

Study Climate change, pollution, agri practices causing illnesses This interaction between climate, agriculture, and air quality to specific health impacts creates a composite picture of the effects on public health due to anthropogenic (human-induced) environmental changes, says the paper, titled, ‘A systems lens to evaluate the compound human health impacts of anthropogenic activities’. The study, published in the journal One Earth on Monday, calls for the attention of policymakers to consider these diverse and dynamic inter-linkages and approaches to public health through a comprehensive scientific lens. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/climate-change-pollution-agri-practices-causing-illnesses-study/articleshow/86382743.cms  (21 Sept. 2021)

Wildlife and plant species decline ‘a crisis’ Stopping the decline in wildlife and plant species is as important as tackling climate change, the head of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has said. Clare Pillman said nature was in “crisis” and new targets were needed. All five of the UK’s environment watchdogs – including NRW – have published a report with suggestions for how the problem could be turned around. They include limiting use https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-58641886  (20 Sept. 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

Bhutan Hydropower generation decreases by over 12% Hydropower, which has remained the bedrock of Bhutan’s economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, recorded a 12.7 percent decrease in generation in the first eight months of 2021, compared to a corresponding time period last year. Total electricity generation from January to August this year in the six hydropower plants (Tala, Chukha, Kurichu, Basochhu, Mangdechhu and Dagachhu) that are in operation fell to 10,520.778 Gigawatt hours (GWh) from 12,046.747 GWh during the window of time in 2020, according to the Druk Green Power Corp.

– The country exported 7,536.466 GWh of electricity worth Nu 20.72 billion (to India in the first eight months of the year. A total of 1,590 GWh, worth Nu 2.31B, was sold in the domestic market. DGPC attributes the decrease in generation to lower hydrological flows and disruptions in generation at the Tala plant.

– At Tala project, There has been concern over the appearance of concrete masses at the distributors and nozzle injectors of the generating units. “We undertook an underwater investigation of the head race tunnel and the surge shaft in March 2021 through an American firm using remotely operated vehicles (ROV), but without loss of generation,” he said, adding that the findings are being reviewed by expert groups to decide on remedial measures, if required. DGPC also had some problems with the dam intake and desilting chamber gates at Tala. This was followed by a number of problems with the dam radial gates. DGPC, he added, was able to fix each of the problems as and when they emerged, and the powerhouse is currently fully operational. The Tala plant was shut down on July 19 after large chunks of debris clogged the gates of the intake tunnels, due to heavy rain for days. “We had a number of problems with the dam intake and radial gates and with the desilting chamber gates, the rectification of which in a few cases required a lowering of the reservoir. In those events, we had to either partially or fully shut the power house down while maintenance work was being undertaken,” he said.

– The hydropower sector saw significant growth with energy generation in 2020, with an increase of 31.45 percent. Hydropower exports as a share of GDP increased by 18.7 percent. https://kuenselonline.com/hydropower-generation-decreases-by-over-12-percent/  (22 Sept. 2021)

Nepal Budhigandaki hydropower project delay incurs a loss of billions: BRB The former PM and the federal council chairperson of the Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal, Baburam Bhattarai, says the country has faced a loss of billions of rupees due to the delay in the construction of the ambitious Budhigandaki Hydropower Project.

Former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai joins a protest programme demanding the early launch of the Budhigandaki Hydropower Project, in Kathmandu, on Monday, September 20, 2021. Online Khabar

Bhattarai went to a protest programme in Kathmandu organised by locals of his home district Gorkha demanding the early launch of the project and said the delay meant the 1,200 Mw project was unlikely to materialise. He said the project, if it is ever constructed, could also be developed into a tourism destination. “Because it is a reservoir-based project, it would develop a lake that is 15 times bigger than the Phewa lake,” he said, “It is a multipurpose project and if used well, the country can sell water to India also.” https://english.onlinekhabar.com/budhigandaki-delay-loss-brb.html  (20 Sept. 2021)

Bangladesh Good economics key to good health of rivers Sheikh Rokon No doubt that rivers in Bangladesh are suffering from some big and sometimes beyond boundary issues like diversion, dams, deforestation or ‘development’ projects. A distant downstream community may not find the protest as a workable tool to stop those far-setting actions. But there are many localized issues like encroachment, pollution, chemical fishing (using chemicals to stun a school of fish), and indiscriminate sand mining. A little resistance from the community could have reduced such incidents to a great deal. https://ircc.in/single-blog.php?blog=Good-economics-is-key-to-good-health-of-rivers  (20 Sept. 2021)

ASIA

A testimony of water challenges Urban growth, temperature rise and melting glaciers threaten river deltas around the world. South-east Asia – from India to China – in particular will be severely affected. Large numbers of people live in poverty, countries are densely-populated and coastlines are long. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the chance that people in this region will be affected by water-related disasters is about 25 times greater than in Europe. https://next.blue/articles/a-testimony-of-water-challenges-in-south-east-asia 

CHINA

China is testing its newest hydroelectric power plant along the Jinsha River in the southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan. The hydroelectric dam, China’s second largest, is expected to begin full operations in July 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7u-e2IOCxU  (23 Sept. 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

International Rivers Hydropower dams are NOT Sustainable Plz Watch, Share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtmVFgJTeK0  (24 Sept. 2021)

Report Early warning systems for floods & international law Interesting observations about the European floods a few weeks ago: The flood alert system or the early warning system in Germany was a ‘monumental failure’. The gravity and scale of damage during the German floods could have been avoided, only if, the early warning systems were effective and the German government was overall better prepared. The failure arose because early warning was not applied and acted upon “as a matter of policy”, consequently leading to death, distress and disaster. The European Early Warning System had issued a warning of disastrous floods, as early as a week ago. The Dutch government followed this warning with issuance of early evacuation warnings and evacuations, while the German government did not act on the early warnings.

– The Dutch Government has an advanced early warning and alert system for disasters and life threatening situations. They test their sirens regularly in order to ascertain that they signs work properly, specially in emergency situations. The Dutch practice has been considered a good practices due to many proven benefits of the system in this digital age and climate change. The early warning system in the Netherlands had its shortcomings when it was developed initially. However, with habituation and practice the floods’ warning system has become an advanced life saving tool. If this tool in implemented in countries like India and for occurrence like the floods in Germany, then life and property of millions can be saved and damage reduced. https://www.livemint.com/opinion/online-views/early-warning-systems-for-floods-and-international-law-11632318304026.html  (22 Sept. 2021)

USA Dire predictions about drought-stricken Colorado Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the largest artificial reservoirs in the United States, rely primarily on snowmelt. They have been hit hard by persistent droughts in climate change, characterized by warming and dry trends over the last three decades.

Both have fallen to historical lows. According to the Pioneer Department, the total capacity of the lake on Wednesday (Sept. 22) fell from 49% last year to 39%.

The Pioneer Department recently declared the first shortage on the Colorado River. This means that Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will get less water than usual next year. By 2025, Lake Mead, a barometer of the amount of river water acquired by some states, is 66% likely to reach California’s second stage of reduction. The most populous states in the country have the highest rights to river water.

Reservoir on the border between Nevada and Arizona is important for the three states in the lower Colorado River, while Lake Powell on the border between Arizona and Utah is in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah. It is a guide for the upstream area. A small reservoir upstream of Lake Powell discharges water into a huge lake so that hydropower can continue. However, according to the Pioneer Department, the bumps from the release launched this summer are not taken into account in the five-year forecast. https://texasnewstoday.com/u-s-predictions-about-the-drought-stricken-colorado-river-become-even-more-dire/472290/  (23 Sept. 2021)

Why rivers need floodplains Floodplain restoration involves restoring processes that create and maintain floodplain functions, typically by restoring the three-dimensional exchanges of water, solutes, sediment, and organic matter between the channel, floodplain, and subsurface.

Floodplain restoration is needed for at least three reasons. First, floodplain storage reduces downstream hazards associated with floods and excess sediment. Second, fully functional floodplains host high levels of biodiversity and provide ecosystem functions such as clean water. Third, floodplains have not received the legal protection afforded to navigable rivers in the US and other countries.

Floodplains are likely to be in private ownership and to be heavily altered by agriculture and urbanization; consequently, they are endangered ecosystems. https://eos.org/editors-vox/why-rivers-need-their-floodplains  (22 April 2021)

Understanding Human Influences on Rivers Enlightening piece by River scientist Ellen Wohl.

A massive effort to restore the meandering course of central Florida’s Kissimmee River and allow seasonal rains and natural flooding to once again inundate the surrounding floodplain began in 1999 and is ongoing. The floodplain provides habitat for a variety of native wildlife, but damaging floods in the mid-20th century led for calls to straighten, deepen, and channelize the river to mitigate flooding. Through the 1960s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accomplished this by redirecting the river into the C-38 canal. Part of the canal, visible at right here, is now being backfilled as part of the restoration. The episode illustrates how the natural state of rivers as dynamic systems is frequently at odds with societal expectations for attractive, simple, and stable rivers. Credit: JaxStrongCC BY 2.0

https://eos.org/features/forgotten-legacies-understanding-human-influences-on-rivers  (08 July 2021)

Reclaimed Water in Gilbert How Gilbert, a town in Phoenix Metropolitan area reuses 100% of its wastewater, recharges groundwater and revives ecosystems with it! https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/b534711d664f4241b689dac0e7a1f734 

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 20 Sept. 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 13 Sept. 2021   Follow us on: www.facebook.com/sandrp.in; https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers

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