(Feature image: Sindh river seen from Duderhama bridge. Source Wikipedia.)
In a noteworthy development this week, on Oct 21, 2021, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Jutice Sanjay Dhar has sought reports about the Sindh River from Secretaty Revenue and Seccretary Irrigation & flood control by Nov 15, and both officers have been directed to be present in the court. The HC has been following up on this issue through earlier orders on Sept 18, Aug 12. The High Court has been asking for demarcation of Sindh River in Ganderbal district of J&K and removal of encroachments.
The River originates in the Machoi Glacier at an elevation of 4800m east of the Amarnath temple and south of the Zoji La and passes through the alpine hill station Sonmarg. The river is facing the worst kind of pollution through constructions- hotels, tourist hut, resorts etc – being undertaken at various places on the river beds and floodplains. The River is the natural habitat of trout, and other fish, the most famous among them are: brown trout, rainbow trout, snow trout, Shuddgurn and Anyour. The River also suffers from mechanised mining and pollution.
The court issued the direction after observing that there was already an order passed by it in 2013 directing for the demarcation of the Sindh nalla. It said the government in its report had indicated that the task of demarcation was underway and would be shortly completed. The court had clarified that construction of any type was banned within 100 meters from the bank of the Sindh river. “If any new construction is sought to be raised, then the Deputy Commissioner and the Chief Engineer would be fully entitled to demolish the same without any show cause notice,” the court had said.
Jammu & Kashmir Sindh demarcation: HC seeks compliance report The High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Thursday (. Oct. 21) directed Secretary Revenue and Secretary Irrigation and Flood Control Department, J&K, to inform it as to what has been done till date for the demarcation of the river Sindh.
Hearing on its own motion a PIL, a bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar directed the two officers to personally attend the court on November 15 and explain the reasons for not completing the demarcation in case the reports were not filed within a period of three weeks. The court issued the direction after observing that already sufficient time was granted to the authorities for demarcation of the Sindh Nallah but the work was not being completed for one reason or the other.
The Court directed Advocate General to ensure compliance of the directions contained in its order dated 11 August, 2021 with regard to convening of meeting of the officers of Gulmarg Development Authority and Sonmarg Development Authority regarding various issues relating to environmental protection and submit a report by next date of hearing. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/sindh-river-demarcation-hc-asks-2-top-officers-to-file-compliance-or-appear-in-person (22 Oct. 2021)
Sabarmati; Ahmedabad HC raps officials as river remains highly polluted Sabarmati river remains highly polluted despite the spending of nearly ₹200 crore that the Centre had allocated to curb pollution in the river from 2014-15 to 2017-18. But the situation has only worsened, inviting wrath from the High Court. The High Court observed that the root cause of pollution in the Sabarmati was the lack of accountability on part of the authorities, as there appears to be a nexus between the officials and industries that discharge untreated effluents into the river stream, polluting its water. This is not for the first time the issue of critical levels of pollution in the Sabarmati has surfaced. In 2019, a report by non-governmental organisation Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) revealed that 120 km of the river, before it meets the Arabian Sea in Gujarat, was ridden with industrial effluents and sewage. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/hc-raps-officials-as-sabarmati-river-remains-highly-polluted/article37155066.ece (25 Oct. 2021)
Ghaggar; Chandigarh Seasonal rivulets still being polluted, admits admn Failing to act on the directions issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the UT administration is yet to plug all the discharge points that release polluted water into the three seasonal rivulets passing through the city. In a report submitted before the environment standing committee of the administrator’s advisory council, UT stated that all the three seasonal rivulets still had discharge points, which continued to pollute them.
“On the N-choe, the administration identified a discharge point in Faidan village. There is a discharge point on Sukhna choe at Dhaka Colony near Raipur Khurd. Similarly, on the Patiala ki Rao, there are multiple discharge points in Sarangpur, Khuda Lahora and Khuda Jassu,” reads the report. The report further states that all other discharge points on the choes have been closed.
In a bid to stop pollutants from entering the Ghaggar river, the NGT had directed the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) to stop the sewage being discharged into the seasonal rivulets. Polluted water from Sukhna choe and N-choe merge into the river near Zirakpur, which ultimately pollutes the river too.
Notably, the NGT had even warned the administration of imposing financial environmental costs on it if it failed to plug all the discharge points. It had also directed the Central Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) to make a fresh survey of such points. After the survey it was discovered that discharges were still being allowed in the rivulets. UT adviser Dharam Pal, too, in September had also directed the MC and the UT environment department to come up with a definitive plan to stop discharge of sewage in the rivulets. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/ghaggar-pollution-seasonal-rivulets-still-being-polluted-admits-chandigarh-admn-101633891021484.html (11 Oct. 2021)
Mihir Shah Shift focus from dams, what India needs is better water management The earlier emphasis on more and more dam construction needs to change and the focus needs to shift towards better management and distribution of water, noted water conservationist Mihir Shah told The Print in an interview. “The country is running out of sites for further construction of large dams. There have also been massive time-lags and huge cost escalation in the construction of large and medium dam projects,” Shah said.
Advocating a shift, he said that there are unacceptable social and environmental costs, including submergence of large tracts of fertile land, as also displacement of people — especially vulnerable communities such as the Adivasis, which have given rise to conflicts and delays in project completion. “As river rejuvenation has become a growing national concern, the impact of dam construction on river flows has also come under increasing scrutiny,” he said. https://theprint.in/india/shift-focus-from-dams-what-india-needs-is-better-water-management-top-water-conservationist/755004/ (25 Oct. 2021)
Third Pole Parliamentarians start understanding rivers The report takes unnecessary and unwarranted positive spin in the title. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/regional-cooperation/parliamentary-standing-committee-floods/ (18 Oct. 2021)
Tamil Nadu Once life-giver, Noyyal river is now farmers’ curse It was sheer desperation that pushed a group of farmers from Tirupur and Erode approach the Madras High Court in 2013, seeking to curtail the flow of Noyyal water through their villages. Reason? The river, a tributary of Cauvery and once a great nurturer of life, had turned into an effluent carrier that reportedly turns even the groundwater toxic.
Originating from the sacred heights of the Vellingiri Hills in Coimbatore, Noyyal meanders through western Tamil Nadu, offering its water to the masses of Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Erode, and Karur before its confluence with Cauvery. Old-timers in these districts said the river is a seasonal one, with peak flow during the monsoon. Over the past many years, however, Noyyal seems to have turned into a ‘perennial’ river, only that its flow mostly contains untreated effluent and sewage from dyeing units and local bodies in Coimbatore and Tirupur, sources said.
R Manikandan, the coordinator of Kovai Kulangal Pathukappu Amaippu, said: “To rejuvenate Noyyal, the previous government had allocated Rs 230 crore in May 2020. The plan, however, focussed on strengthening bunds, not preventing effluent discharge. Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) is a major source of effluent to the river.”
PK Selvaraj, President of Kaushika Neer Karangal said that Noyyal cannot be revived if local bodies do not treat their sewage. When contacted, P Thirumurthi, Executive Engineer of Water Resources Organisation of PWD said: “Almost 85% work of the rejuvenation project has been completed. Yes, the project did not include provisions to prevent the discharge of sewage by local bodies and effluent by industries. The present government, however, has asked us to submit a detailed plan report to address effluent discharge to Noyyal.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/sep/23/water-pollution-once-life-giver-noyyal-river-is-now-farmers-curse-2362520.html (23 Sept. 2021)
Jammu & Kashmir Doodh Ganga Pollution: NGT constitutes 5-member committee The NGT has constituted a 5-member joint committee of officers to probe pollution caused to Doodh Ganga due to dumping of solid and liquid waste into it. As per the order, the members include from Central Pollution Control Board, J&K Pollution Control Committee, Deputy Commissioners of Srinagar and Budgam and Director Urban Local Bodies Kashmir. The Principal Bench of NGT headed by Justice Adrash Kumar Goel issued the orders in response to the petition filed by Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat social activist and Chairman RTI Movement.
The counsel of the petitioner Advocate Rahul Chowdhary argued that Government of J&K had failed to prevent discharge of sewage and dumping of solid waste into river Doodh Ganga and Mamath Kull in violation of provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The petitioner Dr Raja Muzaffar in his application filed before NGT said that large quantities of pesticides, solid and liquid waste were being dumped into Doodh Ganga and Mamath streams by Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Municipal Committee Budgam. He further submitted that the Government had not provided any facility of waste disposal for people in rural areas of Chadoora and with the result that waste is also being dumped in the Doodh Ganga.
“No STPs has been established by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation or any other Government Body in the entire stretch around river Doodh Ganga as a result of which all the untreated sewage from residentials, commercial establishments, shopping malls, butcher houses, poultry shops, laboratories, diagnostic centres and domestic sewage are directly discharged into the river without any scientific treatment,” the petition reads. It added that a large number of Municipal Solid Wastes are unscientifically dumped on the banks of river Doodh Ganga and during the present rainy season there is a grave danger of the entire waste to be flowing into the river which is a tributary to River Jhelum. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/front-page-2/pollution-in-doodh-ganga-mamath-kul (23 Oct. 2021) Details of case can be seen here. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/ngt-pollution-crisis-doodh-ganga-mamath-kull-of-kashmir-joint-committee-to-analyse-water-quality-184229 (25 Oct. 2021)
GANGA Research Natural; anthropogenic drivers of lost groundwater from Ganga River basin Swarup Dangar and Vimal Mishra Abstract:-. Using observations from wells and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites and simulations from a hydrological model, here we show that the Ganga river basin has lost 226.57 ± 25.22 km3 groundwater during 2002–2016, which is about 20 times the storage capacity of the largest (Indira Sagar) reservoir in India. A significant (p-value < 0.05) decline (∼11%) in the summer monsoon (June–September) during 1951–2016, severe and frequent droughts (2009, 2014, 2015), and groundwater pumping for irrigation have contributed to groundwater depletion.
However, the non-renewable groundwater abstraction is the most significant (relative contribution = 80%) contributor to the groundwater depletion in the basin. Renewable groundwater pumping contributed to only 20% of the total groundwater depleted during the 2002–2016 period. Severe and frequent droughts in the basin pose a double whammy of reducing groundwater recharge and increasing withdrawal. Changes in cropping patterns, groundwater metering, and improved water use efficiency are needed to reduce the non-renewable groundwater abstraction for irrigation, which is crucial for water sustainability in the basin. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ac2ceb (20 Oct. 2021)
Ganges and its tributaries have become highways for plastic waste travelling into the oceans. https://scroll.in/article/1008070/ganges-and-its-tributaries-have-become-highways-for-plastic-waste-travelling-into-the-oceans (24 Oct. 2021)
Ganga”s quality improved since 2014, 68 of 97 locations compliant with bathing standards: NMCG DG https://www.nyoooz.com/news/delhi/1621476/gangas-quality-improved-since-2014-68-of-97-locations-compliant-with-bathing-standards-nmcg-dg/ (24 Oct. 2021)
YAMUNA Haryana Notice to HSPCB over environmental compensation waiver The NGT has taken a serious note of “waiver of environmental compensation” worth several crores of rupees to defaulting units of Barhi industrial area of Sonipat. The Tribunal on Thursday (Oct. 21) initiated execution proceedings on an application moved by the complainant in the case. Besides putting Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) on notice, the NGT bench has further directed the pollution watchdog to put the defaulting units on notice and file a detailed reply within a month. The NGT bench, headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goyal, fixed January 19, 2022 as the next date of hearing. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/ngt-notice-to-hspcb-over-environmental-compensation-waiver/articleshow/87214330.cms (23 Oct. 2021)
In Barhi industrial area in Sonepat as 24 units were asked to pay environmental compensation worth Rs 96.01 crore, for illegal groundwater extraction, while one unit has been asked to pay Rs 1.05 crore for failing to meet pollution norms. The action has been taken in compliance with the NGT directions.
An application was filed in the NGT in 2020 against 29 industrial units of Barhi, Sonepat. It was claimed that the units were discharging effluents in open drains resulting in diseases but no action was being taken by the statutory authorities including HSPCB and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/rs-97-crore-fine-on-sonepat-industrial-units-for-illegal-groundwater-extraction-and-pollution-228965 (22 March 2021)
Uttar Pradesh With the sacred Ganga only hogging the focus of river conservation in the state, seers of Shri Panchdasnaam Juna Akhada—one of the 13 ancient recognised Hindu monastic orders of the country—have now decided to undertake efforts to conserve the Yamuna in Prayagraj as well as other villages and towns of Uttar Pradesh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/prayagraj-juna-akhada-to-launch-mega-mission-across-uttar-pradesh-for-yamuna-conservation-101634067204406.html (13 Oct. 2021)
Haryana 11K-acre forest in Kurukshetra may be turned into wildlife, bird sanctuary Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board’s vice chairman, Dhuman Singh Kirmach, on Sunday (Oct. 17) said that the board has plans to propose developing a forest area, spread over 11,000 acres, in Seonsar village near Pehowa in Kurukshetra district as a wildlife and bird sanctuary. Kirmach, who had inspected the forested land to be developed along with some officers on Saturday (Oct. 16), said, “We are going to propose making it into a habitat for endangered birds and keep deer, elephants, bear and other species of wildlife on the banks of Saraswati river and develop it as a tourist destination.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/11000-acre-forest-in-kurukshetra-may-be-turned-into-wildlife-and-bird-sanctuary-7577160/ (18 Oct. 2021)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
Himachal Pradesh हाइड्रो पावर प्रोजेक्ट की भेंट चढ़ा एक गांव! प्रदेश में बन रहे हाइड्रो प्रोजेक्ट्स की वजह से किस तरह वहां आपदाएं बढ़ी हैं, इसका बड़ा उदाहरण है, किन्नौर जिले का गांव उरनी। उरनी ग्राम पंचायत चागांव ग्राम पंचायत के अंतर्गत आता है और सतलुज नदी के दायें किनारे खड़ी चट्टान पर बसा हुआ है। स्थानीय भाषा में इसे ढांक कहते हैं। यहां लगभग डेढ़ दशक से भूस्खलन सक्रिय है।
2009 में यहां करचम वांगटू हाइड्रो इलेक्ट्रिक प्रोजेक्ट बनना शुरू हुआ था। तब से इस गांव के लोगों की मुसीबतें शुरू हो गई थी। सतलुज नदी पर बने इस प्रोजेक्ट की क्षमता 1091 मेगावाट है। इसकी चार टनल (फ्लशिंग टनल, हेड रेस टनल और दो एडिट टनल) इस गांव के ठीक नीचे से गुजर रही हैं। 2013 में हुई भारी बारिश के कारण यहां भूस्खलन की घटना हुई। जो लगभग 600 मीटर लंबा और 300 मीटर चौड़ा था। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/natural-disasters/flood/ground-report-from-himachal-a-village-destroyed-by-hydro-power-project-79785 (20 Oct. 2021)
आपदाओं के बाद हिमाचल के युवा अपने इलाकों में हाइड्रो पावर प्रोजेक्ट्स का विरोध कर रहे हैं, लेकिन… https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/natural-disasters/flood/what-is-the-common-between-the-disasters-of-himachal-and-uttarakhand-79798 (21 Oct. 2021)
Amid coal crisis, windfall for power-surplus “We are generating surplus power. Since per unit price of power has increased, the state has been making profit for the past one month or so,” said an official of the Himachal Pradesh State Load Dispatch Centre (HPSLDC), the agency that monitors the buying and selling of power in the state. The official said the power rate jumped to the highest permissible limit of Rs 20 per unit on several occasions. “The price usually fluctuates between Rs 2.50 and Rs 6, but for at least 10 days in October the average price range has been Rs 11-14 a unit. The past few weeks have indeed been profitable,” he said.
Against the per day consumption of 3 lakh units, the state is currently generating 4.30 lakh units. “Though the generation is coming down gradually, we still have 1.30 lakh surplus units every day,” he said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/amid-coal-crisis-windfall-for-power-surplus-himachal-327255 (21 Oct. 2021)
Kerala Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL)’s first small hydro project in Kerala will be commissioned at the Arippara plant in Kozhikode district on Nov 6, 2021 by state Chief Minister. The Rs 52 Cr project on Iruvazhinji river is expected to generate 14 MU power. The project uses 5 acres land belonging to 32 families. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/after-solar-cochin-international-airport-taps-hydropower-101635074100503.html (24 Oct. 2021)
128 hydropower projects remain incomplete According to a report by Jacob Muthirendikal, former project manager of the Pallivasal project, all these projects together have caused a loss of over Rs 30,000 crore. At present, the state is buying power worth Rs 8,680 crore from outside. Items brought in for various projects were rusted and destroyed. Environmental issues hindered the 40 MW Pampar project and the 30 MW Achankovilar project. The 24 MW Chenkulam Augmentation Project was halted due to a technical glitch.
Mankulam, Upper Chenkulam, Kakkadampoyil, Karikayam, Keezharkuthu, Nakkayam, Chinnapparambu Thodu, Kaithakolli Diversion, Kannankuzhi, Valanthodu, Chembukatti, Lower Vattappara, Thoomboormuzhi, Upper Peringal, Parakkadavu, Anakkayam, Bavali Puzha Second Phase, Chembukadavu-3, Chittoor upper, Kanjirakkolly-1, Palchuram, Marmala, Palchuram, Western Kallar, Karimpuzha and about 100 other projects were stopped halfway or early. Many private hydropower projects are located in the forest area and cannot be started without the permission of the Forest Department. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/128-hydropower-projects-remain-incomplete-kseb-faces-loss-of-rs-30-000-cr-power-loss-state-s-loss-1.6118493
MoEF Agenda for the meeting of EAC on River Valley Projects to be held on Oct 28, 2021:
1. 1200 MW Kurukutti Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, in an area of 638 Acres located at village Chemidipatipolam and Kurukutti, Tehsil Salur, Dist Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh by M/s New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of Andhra Pradesh Ltd– Terms of Reference
2. 1000 MW Karrivalasa Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, in an area of 593 Acres located at village Ganjaibhadra and Kurukutti, Tehsil Salur, Dist Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh by M/s New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of Andhra Pradesh Ltd – Terms of Reference
3. 900 MW Somasila Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, in an area of 183 ha located at village Racheyapeta and Ramapuram, Tehsil Gopovaram Mandal, Dist Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh by M/s New and Renewable Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh Ltd–Terms of Reference
4. Cumulative Impact Assessment and Carrying Capacity Study (CIA & CCS) of Tirap Basin. Inclusion of Chinglum Hydroelectric Project in Subansiri Basin: Recommendations of the study. https://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/2010202136022044ApprovedAgendaRiverValley18thEAC-28-10-2021.pdf
Uttar Pradesh Dried Wells, Broken Dams, Distressed Villagers Define Multi-Crore ‘Bundelkhand Package’ Corruption, poor quality construction materials and the specious implementation of schemes combined with the Centre’s flawed MSP policies have rendered the attempt to transform the region useless. https://thewire.in/rights/uttar-pradesh-agriculture-bundelkhand-package-irrigation-adityanath (25 Oct. 2021)
Hirakud Dam Tender fo another Spillway Odisha government has decided to float a fresh tender for the construction of an additional spillway to enhance the flood water discharge capacity of Hirakud Dam, a senior official said on Sunday (Oct. 17). The revised estimate of the project is Rs 634.21 crore and the work has also been divided into four parts now, he said. The bid document for floating the fresh tender with revised estimate for the World Bank funded additional spillway project has already got the administrative approval.
Tata Projects and AGE Group of Turkey had earlier been entrusted to carry out the construction work of the additional spillway. They had begun working on the project, which was estimated at Rs 369.53 crore in January 2019. The two companies, however, wrote to the state government in February 2020 and backed out from the project saying the reason for it was the delay by the government in handing over the site for construction work. https://odishatv.in/news/miscellaneous/odisha-to-construct-another-spillway-to-discharge-water-from-hirakud-dam-161963 (17 Oct. 2021)
The Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments have informed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that the families displaced by the Hirakud dam project have been duly compensated and properly rehabilitated. No claim for the same is pending, the reports submitted by both the states said.
Following their submissions, the commission sent the copy of the reports to petitioner Radhakanta Tripathy. He will submit his comments within four weeks. The rights panel passed this order on October 14 after hearing a petition filed by Tripathy, a lawyer and rights activist, on March 6, 2017.
The petitioner had stated that 26,561 families were displaced for the construction of the Hirakud dam in 1952-53. Many of these families belonging to Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Bargarh and Subarnapur districts were affected by the project. Due compensation was not paid to them, the petition had said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/families-hit-by-hirakud-dam-project-compensated/articleshow/87256365.cms (25 Oct. 2021)
Himachal Pradesh Politicians remain mum on Pong Dam oustees’ persisting troubles Breaking from a five-decade tradition of offering hollow promises and quiet sympathy, politicians campaigning for the Fatehpur bypoll have remained uncharacteristically mum on the hot-button issue of providing rehabilitation and compensation to those ousted from the Pong Dam area in Kangra after a hydroelectric project was setup on their land.
Experts say with unemployment and inflation a major poll plank during the polls, the persisting issue of the oustees has been swept under the carpet in the face other pressing issues. Fifty years have passed since over 20,000 families living in Kangra were uprooted from their land for the construction of the Pong hydroelectric power project that ushered a new era of prosperity in the arid Rajasthan.
The construction of the dam started in 1961 on the Beas river near Pong village in Kangra district (then a part of Punjab), so that waters from its reservoir could be taken to the desert lands of Rajasthan and feed an extensive network of canal irrigation systems. A total area of 75,000 acres, spread over 94 villages in Nurpur and Dehra tehsil, was acquired for the reservoir. Of the acquired 339 tikkas (revenue estates), 223 were submerged fully and 116 partially, displacing 20,722 families and 1.5 lakh people. The submerged area was the most fertile in Kangra district and was called Haldoon Valley (which means granary).
The displaced people also did not get adequate compensation. Initially, the price was fixed at ₹140 per kanal, which was raised to ₹650 per kanal in 1965 and later to ₹1,000. The central government approached the Supreme Court, and in 1983 the price was revised to ₹750 per canal leaving the displaced people in a quandary. Most of them had already received compensation at the rate of ₹1,000 per kanal and the government had ordered recovery of the differential amount of ₹ 250. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/this-bypoll-hp-politicians-remain-mum-on-pong-dam-oustees-persisting-troubles-101635020692556.html (24 Oct. 2021)
INTERLINKING OF RIVERS
Ken Betwa Linking Bharat Dogra: Ten Strong Reasons Why Ken-Betwa River Link Project Should Be Withdrawn Immediately. https://countercurrents.org/2021/10/ten-strong-reasons-why-ken-betwa-river-link-project-should-be-withdrawn-immediately/ (25 Oct. 2021)
FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS
Maharashtra Koli fishing port to face permanent closure? Cleveland Bunder is one of four artisanal fish landing centres in Worli Koliwada, which is one of Mumbai’s earliest fishing villages, in existence since before the Seven Islands of Bombay were merged through successive land reclamation projects in the 19th century. Now, fisherfolk say, the bunder is under serious threat of permanent closure due to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) coastal road project (CRP), arguably the city’s next frontier in land reclamation.
As of date, Koli community leaders estimate that Cleveland Bunder supports at least a fourth of around 500 families in Worli Koliwada who still rely entirely on artisanal fishing as a source of income. It provides harbour for a varying fleet of motorised and non-motorised boats, which range between 45 to 60 on any given day and also employs several migrant fish workers in addition to the Kolis. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/mumbai-coastal-road-project-koli-fishing-port-to-face-permanent-closure-101634477001367.html (17 Oct. 2021)
Tamil Nadu Fish symbol found on ring well at Keeladi The only ring well with patterned twin coir bands, unearthed during the seventh phase of excavations in Keeladi three months ago, has thrown up another surprise — on the top most of its seven levels, a decorated fish symbol has been found incised. It appears above the first coir band, carved with thumb impressions. The shape of the fish, with tail, fins and scales, is clear. Only the part with its head is broken. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/fish-symbol-found-on-ring-well-at-keeladi/article37081440.ece (20 Oct. 2021)
No decision has been taken on the eighth phase of excavation at Keeladi, said minister for archaeology Thangam Thennarasu who inspected the findings of the seventh phase of excavation at Keeladi. He said that the department would seek the help of IIT-Madras to protect and preserve the brick structures in the quadrants. Thennarsu added that the image of a fish imprinted on a ring well discovered in the seventh phase and engraved coins found here strengthened the theory that the people who lived here had commercial transactions with other parts of the country, namely north India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/no-decision-on-8th-phase-excavation-at-keeladi-minister-thangam-thennarasu/articleshow/87141982.cms (19 Oct. 2021)
Karnataka Cage fish farming gains popularity The number of people undertaking cage aquaculture has exceeded 1,500 now. The increasing interest of the fishermen to undertake cage fish farming, which initially began ten years with a solitary unit in Uppunda in Byndoor taluk, can be evidenced by the fact that a large number of people have filed applications under the Matsya Sampada scheme.
Out of them, over 1,200 applications have come from Kundapur taluk. The officials have a problem on hand in disposing these applications off. The officials have now requested the fisheries college to undertake capacity study to find out whether so many units can be installed. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=886112 (23 Oct. 2021)
Report In Western Ghats, an ancient underground fish species is under threat due to poor water governance Overexploitation of groundwater and drying wells are making the survival of Gondwana fishes difficult. https://scroll.in/article/1007519/in-western-ghats-an-ancient-underground-fish-species-is-under-threat-due-to-poor-water-governance (13 Oct. 2021)
Karnataka Udupi: Raid on illegal sand mining in Shirva, Kundapur On getting information that illegal sand mining was being undertaken from Papanashini rivulet at Shirva by using boat and excavator, Shirva gram panchayat president K R Patkar, panchayat development officer Ananthapadmanabha Nayak and staff visited the spot. The raid was conducted on the basis of information received by the panchayat administration from the villagers about the illegal sand extraction. Sand mining was being undertaken in a plot near the farm belonging to Koshy from Kerala. Land owner, Koshy, fled from the scene, and the gram panchayat has informed the police. The spot where the illegal sand mining was detected happens to be the same area where Kaup tahsildar Pratibha, accompanied by mines department officials and Shirva police had raided and seized three lorries and an excavator. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=885962 (23 Oct. 2021)
Jharkhand A primitive tribe and rare fossils threatened by stone mining Rampant stone quarrying in the Rajmahal hills of Jharkhand has raised concerns on its impact on the indigenous communities living nearby. The impact of mining activities affect the livelihood and habitation of Sauria Paharia, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), that lives on the hills. Rajmahal hosts some of the oldest fossils in the world and there is a need to protect the area, say experts. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/10/a-primitive-tribe-and-rare-fossils-threatened-by-stone-mining-in-jharkhand/ (21 Oct. 2021)
Maharashtra Impacts of unsustainable iron ore mining on Redi Situated in the town of Vengurla in Maharashtra, Redi is the last village on the coast of the state’s Western Ghats region. With a population of around 5,000 people or 1,650 families, Redi has also been a centre of iron ore mining in the Western Ghats. While mining has brought with it some economic prosperity, it has overwhelmingly negatively impacted the health of Redi’s residents, and the overall ecology of this biodiverse region. https://thebastion.co.in/politics-and/the-impacts-of-unsustainable-iron-ore-mining-on-redi-the-last-village-on-maharashtras-konkan-coast/ (13 Oct. 2021)
Centre Govt keen to open beach sand minerals mining The proposal in the PM’s action plan to open two restricted sectors — beach sand minerals and offshore mining — for exploration by the private sector seeks to reverse a series of measures taken by the Centre over the last five years to restrict the involvement of private players in the sector with the stated objective of curbing illegal mining, a review of multiple notifications and guidelines issued earlier reveal.
The proposal to set up a panel to reopen the sector to private participation could have strategic implications, given that monazite and other minerals such as garnet, ilmenite and zircon — commonly known as beach sand minerals as they are found along the coastal regions of peninsular India — are refined and used in stages of the country’s nuclear power programme and hi-tech defence electronics applications. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sand-minerals-mining-modi-govt-private-sector-7585816/ (23 Oct. 2021)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
Maharashtra Centre notifies ESZ around Thane creek Proposed ESZ area reduced from 10 km radius to 3.89 km radius.
On July 30, when after a passage of 90 days, the Union ministry did not issue a notification, chief engineer Vinod Chithore of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) development plan department, issued a circular declaring a 10-km radius around the sanctuary as ESZ. The circular created a scare among builders as many projects were to be affected with the implementation of the plan. Days later, the MoEFCC indicated that the ESZ would be restricted to a radius of 3.89 km from the boundary of the sanctuary. It called a meeting on August 17 and said the final notification would come three months later.
The sanctuary, spread over 16 sq km, was carved out for protecting the habitat of flamingos. It is located between Eastern Express Highway and Sion-Panvel Highway. The ESZ is supposed to act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to less protection. The National Wildlife Action Plan 2002-2016 had identified them as “vital ecological corridor links” and stressed that they must be protected to prevent isolation of fragments of biodiversity. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/centre-notifies-eco-sensitive-zone-around-thane-creek-0-to-3-9-km-7580679/ (20 Oct. 2021)
Powai Lake a wetland, needs to be conserved accordingly: Forest dept The state forest department’s mangrove cell upheld the status of Powai Lake as a protected wetland, in line with previous orders of the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court, in a letter to the BMC earlier this month. As such, the forest department voiced objections to MCGM’s proposal to build a cycle track within the boundary of the lake, which has come under fire from citizens and environmentalists.
Powai Lake itself is a man-made wetland, planned as an anti-famine measure for Mumbai and sanctioned by the Standing Committee in November 1889. It was built in 1891. Since its creation, the water in Powai Lake has been severely polluted and has remained so despite several remediation measures. The water was declared unfit for drinking purposes in 1893. The lake continues to remain polluted due to entry of raw sewage and siltation, which has led to growth of invasive water hyacinths across the water spread. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/powai-lake-a-wetland-needs-to-be-conserved-accordingly-maharashtra-forest-department-101634932245366.html (23 Oct. 2021)
BNHS forced to halt Panje wetland bird study In a shocking development, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has been forced to stop its survey of bird flight pattern at the 300-hectare Panje wetland as part of a Cidco assignment to study its impact on flights at the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA). Over 1,50,000 migratory and local birds visit Panje wetland annually and change in their flight pattern, due to the drying up of the wetland. This could pose bird-hit threats to the flights at NMIA, BNHS and environmentalists have warned. Hence, BNHS supported the NatConnect Foundation’s idea to conserve Panje Wetland at a Biodiversity Park.
BNHS scientific teams, media persons, nature photographers and local fishing community have, however, been stopped from entering the wetland by Navi Mumbai SEZ security and some local vested interests, NatConnect Foundation said in its mail to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray seeking his immediate intervention. BNHS director Dr Bivash Pandav was also asked to leave Panje wetland when he went to study the place. The security and the local interests even filed false, non-cognizable offence cases against the BNHS team.
NatConnect director B N Kumar said this is a very serious issue and appealed to the CM to check the menace and help conserve Panje wetland. The NMSEZ security cabins at Panje are also illegal and the state environment director asked the project CEO and CIDCO to demolish them way back in November 2020. Yet, the cabins are intact and so is the security, Kumar said. The cabins have come up despite environment minister Aaditya Thackeray’s order against construction at the wetland. There has also been intermittent landfill at the place. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-bnhs-forced-to-halt-panje-wetland-bird-study-greens-plea-to-maharashtra-cm-to-step-in/articleshow/87165835.cms (20 Oct. 2021)
Jammu & Kahmir Gharana Wetland’s 10-year management plan prepared However, the plan is facing a stumbling block with the villagers in Gharana seeking compensation at par with market rates. According to the officials, the Wildlife department has given Rs 11.70 crore to the Revenue department for land acquisition from the farmers whose land comes under the management plan.
“They are demanding Rs 5 lakh per kanal and the prestigious project is hanging in the balance even after demarcation and installing of poles on the identified land for the past two years,” they said. The officials said that 408 kanal and 14 marla land had been demarcated with the help of Police for the Gharana Wetland. They said that the people were not permitting any developmental activities like road construction, its widening, and bio-gas plant in the area.
“This is happening due to a communication gap between the concerned department and the people whose land is to be acquired,” Sarpanch Flora, Surjeet Singh Choudhary said. Choudhary said that the department officials should have detailed meetings with the villagers and share details about the developmental plan with them. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/jammu/wildlife-department-prepares-gharana-wetlands-10-year-management-plan (21 Oct. 2021)
Delhi Citizen-led group organises walk to explore Najafgarh Jheel https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2021/oct/25/citizen-led-group-organises-walk-to-explore-delhis-najafgarh-jheel-2375372.html (25 Oct. 2021)
Karnataka Progressive farmer generates power from pond Suresh Balnad, a resident of Bayar in Balnad village of Puttur taluk, uses water from a pond that is above 60 feet to generate power. He has fixed a wind turbine with a pipe to generate electricity. For the last 17 years, Suresh has been producing 2 kilowatt (KV) of power as water flows via canal.
He told TNSE that he decided to generate power at his farm as he was fed up with frequent power cuts and exorbitant power bills. “I did not want to depend on others for electricity. It is only for domestic use and we can use it till January if there is more rain. When I was young, I wanted to make use of all natural resources,” he said. Suresh, apart from generating power, has also put efforts to increase groundwater level by completely depending on rainwater harvesting. He grows pepper, coconut, arecanut, vegetables and does not have borewells at his farm. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2021/oct/17/progressive-karnataka-farmer-generates-power-from-pond-2372353.html (17 Oct. 2021)
Chennai Best rain water harvesting systems Whenever the monsoon is close at hand, rainwater harvesting pitter-patters into the spotlight. Where no rainwater harvesting installation exists, a rude goad can be expected. Where an RWH structure does exist, a possible laurel can be won. Jains Pebble Brook, a gated community in Thoraipakkam, has received laurels for its rainwater harvesting installations and the results it has achieved with them. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/best-rain-water-harvesting-systems-in-chennai/article37160028.ece (25 Oct. 2021)
Delhi Biodiversity parks harvest 1.4mn gallons A recent ecological survey has revealed that 1.4 million gallons of rainwater was harvested by the seven biodiversity parks of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) during the monsoon season between July and September this year. The survey was carried out by the staff of the biodiversity parks.
The amount of water stored in surface waterbodies of four biodiversity parks is close to 1,100 million gallons. Officials at the biodiversity parks said that the survey was conducted for the first time to ascertain the role of these parks in conservation of water resources in Delhi. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/biodiversity-parks-make-most-of-monsoon-harvest-1-4mn-gallons/articleshow/87144620.cms (20 Oct. 2021)
Haryana रासायनिक खेती के गढ़ हरियाणा में किसानों को जैविक खेती से मिली गेहूं की ज्यादा पैदावार : सर्वे में पाया गया कि रबी 2020 में हरियाणा के आत्मनिर्भर जैविक खेती करने वाले किसानों में 45 फीसदी किसानों को गेहूं की पैदावार रासायनिक खेती की औसत पैदावार से ज्यादा मिली। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/agriculture/farmers/in-haryana-the-stronghold-of-chemical-farming-farmers-got-more-wheat-yield-from-organic-farming-survey-79216 (27 Sep 2021)
𝗪𝗲𝗱𝗻𝗲𝘀𝗱𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗪𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿 Webinar on October 20, at 05:00 PM IST to to host discussion on 𝗝𝗮𝗹 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘆𝗮𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗵𝗮 with Medha Patkar. Registration link:- https://bit.ly/2YJpDgA
Webinar Groundwater Governance: Is There An Alternative Paradigm For The future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpSJlJHLLrU (10 Aug. 2021)
Bengaluru ‘Firms rejuvenating lakes without proper nod’ After several areas in Bengaluru got inundated in the wake of heavy rains that lashed the city recently, environmentalists and hydrologists have stressed on the need to treat lakes as flood mitigation zones. Experts have, however, pointed out that lakes in Anekal taluk are being rejuvenated without proper survey or nod from the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA). This not only alters the structure of the lakes, but they also cannot be treated as flood mitigation zones afterwards due to several reasons including reduced water holding capacity, they said.
Social activist Captain (Retd) Santhosh Kumar has informed the KTCDA that some lakes in Anekal, which are under the custody of the zila panchayat, are being rejuvenated by NGOs and corporate bodies through CSR funding without encroachment eviction, boundary fixation, technical study or an approved lake detailed project report (DPR) by the KTCDA. Under the KTCDA Act, 2014, it is mandatory that any development activity with regard to lakes and tanks take approval from the KTCDA. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-ngos-firms-rejuvenating-lakes-without-proper-nod-say-environmentalists-7579750/ (19 Oct. 2021)
BWSSB mantra: Can’t fix sewage, so just leak it into lake The BWSSB is pumping overflowing sewage from sanitary pipes into stormwater drains linked to Hebbal Lake in what is a clear case of the fence eating the crop. Board officials explained the violation by saying houses built on the lake bund had triggered the overflow of the underground sanitary lines (UGD) during the recent rains and forced them to empty the sewage into stormwater drains.
Since raw sewage is flowing through the stormwater drain (rajakaluve), residents of AMCO Layout and Hebbal Sarovara could not step out of their homes or keep their windows open. Sanitary chambers in areas near Hebbal such as Veerabhadrappa Layout, Balaji Layout and Tata Nagar have overflowed in the rains. Residents say the BWSSB’s action violates the NGT orders. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/the-bwssb-mantra-can-t-fix-sewage-so-just-leak-it-into-lake-1043866.html (25 Oct. 2021)
Hyderabad Satellite images show lakes shrank by upto 83% since 1967 TNM looks at five water bodies in Hyderabad — Durgam Cheruvu, Gurram Cheruvu, Mir Alam Tank, Shah Hatim talab and the Ramanthapur Cheruvu and how they have shrunk over the years. The Mir Alam Tank, located adjacent to the Hyderabad zoo, saw its area of water spread decrease by almost 23% — from 18.8 lakh sq m in 1967 to 14.5 lakh sq m in 2021. The historical Shah Hatim Talab located in Golconda decreased by 58%, from 3.8 lakh sq m to 1.6 lakh sq m in the same time period. The Gurram Cheruvu meanwhile shrunk by almost 55% — from 3.3 lakh sq m to 1.5 lakh sq m in this period. However, the worst was the Ramanthapur Cheruvu, which saw its area shrink by over 83% — from 1.2 lakh sq m to a measly 20,000 sq m.
These lakes didn’t shrink overnight. According to some studies, between 1989 and 2001, the city lost 3,245 hectares of water bodies — about 10 times the size of Hussain Sagar. Dr Anjal Prakash, Research Director, Bharathi Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business highlights that across south India, and especially Telangana, the tank management system involved a cascading system of lakes. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/exclusive-satellite-images-show-how-hyderabad-lakes-have-shrunk-upto-83-1967-156774 (22 Oct. 2021)
Chennai 4 lakes will soon be notified as wetlands Lakes in Velachery, Madipakkam, Ambattur and Korattur have been prioritised in the first phase to be identified as wetlands and for conservation efforts, apart from Pallikaranai marshland. The district-level wetland management committee, which was set up by the Tamil Nadu State Wetland Authority, has initiated the process of notifying the identified water bodies as wetlands. All natural water bodies qualify to be identified as wetlands under the Wetland Rules, except for rivers and river channels. Those water bodies created for purposes such as salt production, drinking water and aquaculture also cannot be included.
Sources in the committee said the process has been started for notifying these four lakes as wetlands, at a meeting held earlier this month. Once the committee, comprising the Collector, district forest officer and representatives from various government agencies, recommends the identified wetlands to the State Wetland Authority, measures would be taken up for notification and regulation. The committee has also sought a list of wetlands in the city from the Water Resources Department (WRD) and Greater Chennai Corporation as per revenue records. As of now, 31 water bodies have been identified by the WRD. Steps would be taken simultaneously for notifying them as wetlands too. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/four-chennai-lakes-will-soon-be-notified-as-wetlands/article37124295.ece (22 Oct. 2021)
Ahmedabad AMC digs in to guzzle groundwater Each day the AMC supplies 1,369 million litres of drinking water to roughly 72 lakh citizens. But daily, the municipal corporation receives 1,739 million litres of sewage at its sewage treatment plants! The difference indicates that Amdavadis draw 370 million litres of extra water from the ground every day. There is no state-level groundwater regulation in place. So neither the Central Ground Water Board nor the AMC nor indeed the state water resources department has comprehensive data on the number of borewells dug in residential, commercial, and industrial areas in the city. Almost 92% of the 15.55 lakh housing units have access to a groundwater source.
“The state government has had a groundwater governance code since 2005. It was provided by the Centre,” said a senior official of the Narmada, water resources and water supply department. The official said: “But the government is yet to implement it as a state law.” A senior AMC official said, “While studying water consumption patterns, most state agencies overlook the 7 lakh floating population that travels to the city from the neighbouring talukas, towns, and cities for work or business.” The official added: “They drink water and use toilets. No one accounts for that.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/city-digs-in-to-guzzle-groundwater/articleshow/87171200.cms (21 Oct. 2021)
Sonepat Water shortage in several localities The problem occurred three days ago, when the three motors and pumps at Jajal village, where the Reniwell project was established to supply potable water in the city, failed to pump up water. After visiting the village, officials said all three motors and pumps along with impellers were worn out. Two motors have been temporarily repaired and officials have been asked to supply diesel for the generators.
Dharmender Singh, Commissioner, SMC said the water supply was hit due to some technical problems in the pumps at Jajal village. Water in the areas will be supplied through water tankers, tubewells on alternate days to deal with the situation, he said. It will take 8-10 days to resolve the problem completely, as the impellers of the pumps have to be brought from Pune, the Commissioner maintained. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/water-shortage-hits-sonepat-localities-326379 (19 Oct. 2021)
Pune PMC to take charge of water supply to merged villages The Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (MJP) has demanded Rs14 crore to hand over the water supply of three merged villages to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). This is the first time the PMC will take charge of the water supply of merged villages. So far, the corporation has not supplied water to merged villages.
The PMC has tabled a proposal for the standing committee’s approval to supply water to three villages namely Shivane, Uttamnagar and Kondhawe-Dhawade. The water supply scheme of these villages has been developed and is being run by the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (MJP), which has demanded Rs14 crore for the handover to the PMC.
Despite 34 villages having been merged with the PMC, the latter has not yet taken charge of the water supply scheme of these villages and MJP continues to supply water to them. Now however, the PMC wants to take over the water supply scheme of the merged villages and has decided to take charge of the water supply of Shivane, Uttamnagar and Kondhawe-Dhawade in the first phase. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/pmc-to-take-charge-of-water-supply-to-merged-villages-101635092101872.html (24 Oct. 2021)
Mumbai 40% green cover lost between 1991- 2018 Mumbai lost 81% of its open land (barren spaces without any vegetation), 40% green cover (forests & scrublands) and approximately 30% of its water bodies (lakes, ponds, floodplains) between 1991 and 2018, while the built-up area (areas developed upon) rose by 66% in the same period, says a recent study. It concludes that the city witnessed a 2-degree Celsius average temperature rise across 27 years.
Using satellite imagery (USA-NASA Landsat datasets freely available), the authors studied an area of 603 sq. km of Mumbai region (both city and suburbs) to understand the land-use and land-cover changes, difference in maximum, minimum and average temperatures (for Urban Heat Island intensity), land surface temperatures, changes in vegetation cover versus urban built-up density between 1991 and 2018. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/mumbai-lost-40-green-cover-between-1991-and-2018/article37052861.ece (18 Oct. 2021)
MCGM assures President on action against illegal extraction of groundwater MCGM’s assurance to the President upon his intervention has come upon the complaint raised by RTI activist and crusader against illegal use of groundwater Sureshkumar Dhoka on the President’s grievance portal.
The recent environmental surveys have pointed out a serious threat to Mumbai’s groundwater stock inside the aquifers as it is diminishing and moreover getting replaced by salt water due to over exploitation of sweetwater through tubes or borewells. This situation may eventually affect the greenery that survives on groundwater and turn the whole landscape of Mumbai infertile and unfit for human habitation.
This is for the first time the President of India’s intervention has come in over the issue after Dhoka pointed him out that Mumbai police has registered an FIR against the well owners in South Mumbai for allegedly selling water worth over Rs 80 crore without requisite permissions. The environmental damage compensation is yet to be recovered from the accused.
It may be mentioned, that there were 14,030 wells in Mumbai in 2013, now the number stands at 18, 381. Out of these, nearly 40 wells have been closed while 190 are unused. Similarly, another 186 wells have permission to use water for non-potable purposes but not to transport and commercially sell it. However, 35 of these still indulge in the same, revealed officials. Also, existence of nearly 216 wells is illegal and are being exploited by private tankers to earn commercial gains through sale of groundwater. No such sale is permissible without the NoC of central ground water authority (CGWA). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-mcgm-assures-president-ram-nath-kovind-on-action-against-illegal-extraction-of-groundwater/articleshow/87166044.cms (20 Oct. 2021)
According to a report by the Hindustan Times, the FD reserves of BMC has surged to ₹82,410 crore present in 343 separate FDs at private and public banks. As per the daily, the BMC earns around ₹1,800 crore as interest per year on fixed deposits.
For the construction of coastal roads, BMC has linked FDs worth ₹50,952 crore. The FDs of ₹26,000 crore are part of Employees’ PF and pension accounts. BMC stated that its fixed deposits were at ₹79,002 crore in August this year. Of this, FDs of ₹5,664 crore matured and it made another FDs of ₹9,079 crore including the matured FD amount.
For the FY 22 budget, the BMC presented a budget of ₹39,038.83 crore with no new taxes for the city residents. This year’s budget was 16.74% more than the previous year’s budget. In 2020, the BMC had presented a budget of ₹33,441.02 crore. Moreover, the civic body has also increased capital expenditure to ₹18,750.99 crore in 2021 which is ₹7,847.41 crore more than the 2020’s allocation at ₹10,903.5 crore. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/mumbai-bmc-brihanmumbai-municipal-corporation-india-s-richest-civic-body-s-fixed-deposits-surpass-rs-82-000-crore-mark-11634711591284.html (20 Oct. 2021)
Maharashtra Groundwater agency wary of workers’ stir The Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) fears its work of testing for bacteriological impurities in the water sources in the rural areas could be affected by the agitation of the contractual employees. There are seven laboratories across Nashik district. While six of the laboratories are located in various talukas, one is at the district-level office of the GSDA.
Out of the 95 employees in the rural areas, the contracts of 69 have not been renewed for the past three months. These contract employees have now decided to stop the work. The contractual employees of the water testing laboratories in the rural areas have warned of a statewide agitation from October 25. That is likely to affect water testing across all laboratories. The association has warned of an indefinite hunger strike at Pune from October 26. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/groundwater-agency-wary-of-workers-stir/articleshow/87229383.cms (24 Oct. 2021)
JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY
MoJS Plan to increase frequency of team visits to states NJJM’s multidisciplinary 10-member team returned from a four-day visit to Rajasthan on Thursday. Various aspects of programme implementation and progress made under the mission by the state were discussed to understand the ground situation during the visit. At present, 21.22 lakh rural homes (20.95 per cent) in the state have tap water supply. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/union-jal-shakti-ministry-will-increase-frequency-of-team-visits-to-states-to-monitor-jal-jeevan-mission-328602 (24 Oct. 2021)
Meghalaya MLA reviews water projects in South Shillong. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/10/25/mla-reviews-water-projects-in-south-shillong/ (25 Oct. 2021)
CWC RESERVOIR STORAGE BULLETIN OF 21.10.2021
1. ALL INDIA STATUS:- As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 21.10.2021, the live storage available in 130 reservoirs having total live storage capacity of 171.958 BCM is 141.927 BCM, which is 83% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 150.789 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 131.305 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 130 reservoirs as per 21.10.2021 Bulletin is 94% of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 108% of storage of average of last ten years.
2. REGION WISE STORAGE STATUS:
a) NORTHERN REGION:- As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 21.10.2021, the total live storage available in 8 reservoirs having total live storage capacity of 19.17 BCM is 12.38 BCM which is 65% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 69% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 81% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.
b) EASTERN REGION:- As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 21.10.2021, the total live storage available in 20 reservoirs having total live storage capacity of 19.96 BCM is 14.40 BCM which is 72% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 80% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 79% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.
c) WESTERN REGION:- As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 21.10.2021, the total live storage available in 42 reservoirs having total live storage capacity of 35.24 BCM is 30.80 BCM which is 87% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 94% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 74% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.
d) CENTRAL REGION:- As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 21.10.2021, the total live storage available in 23 reservoirs having total live storage capacity of 45.27BCM is 37.40 BCM which is 83% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 90% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 81% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.
e) SOUTHERN REGION:- As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 21.10.2021, the total live storage available in 37 reservoirs having total live storage capacity of 52.32 BCM is 46.95 BCM which is 90% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 92% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 71% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. http://cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/21102021-fb-pdf.pdf
MoEF notifies regulations for RO manufacturers The Environment Ministry intends to help consumers make informed decisions about what type of water purifier will be required by coming up with the ‘Regulation on Use of Water Purification System (WPS),’ which will go into effect in 18 months. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/govt-comes-regulations-ro-manufacturers (20 Oct. 2021)
Interview Overwhelming focus on wheat & rice aggravated water crisis: Mihir Shah “Water-intensive crops are grown even in relatively water-short regions because these are the only crops for which farmers are assured a steady market, thanks to government procurement operations,” Shah said, adding that crop diversification in line with local agro-ecology, without endangering national food security, is the NWP’s single most important step in resolving the country’s water crisis.
To enable this, Shah said, we need to diversify crop procurement operations in a carefully calibrated manner, to include nutri-cereals, pulses and oilseeds. “As this diversity of crops finds a growing place in public procurement operations, farmers will also gradually diversify their cropping patterns to align with this new structure of incentives. This will lead to a huge saving in water,” Shah noted.
Besides recommending crop diversification, the draft NWP has also recommended setting up of Independent Water Resources Regulatory Authorities (IWRRAs) in all states and UTs. IWRRAs would decide on bulk water fees on the basis of cost determination and cost apportionment across different uses as per an agreed set of criteria. While the individual user charges or retail charges will be decided by the utilities and local self governments, within the upper bound conditions set by the IWRRAs, Shah said. https://theprint.in/india/overwhelming-focus-on-wheat-rice-aggravated-indias-water-crisis-water-policy-panel-chief/753429/ (20 Oct. 2021)
Karnataka Farmers on receiving end of unexpected rains’ ill-effects The paddy seedlings are formally planted in June and the first week of July. The crop is ready for harvest in October. This is the time when paddy corns break out of the stalks and the stalks begin to get heavier. Even a little rain can spell doom for the crop. For the last four days, coastal Karnataka has been receiving rainfall. Thousands of acres of paddy plants which are ready for harvesting have been shoved to the ground by the rain. In the cases where the crops are harvested, the harvested plants are lying drenched either in courtyards or fields.
In Dakshina Kannada district, 11,747 hectares of land has been brought under paddy cultivation whereas in Udupi, 35,726 hectares are under paddy cultivation. In the state as a whole, paddy is grown in 12.4 lac hectares of land. The rain has already devastated the paddy crop. If it continues, the paddy stalks might start to germinate, the farmers of coastal districts are worried. Because of the high cost of labour, lack of government encouragement etc many have moved from paddy crop to cash crops. For the last two decades, this shift has been seen on a regular basis. If the situation continues, there will be a shortage of rice for boiled rice manufacture. https://daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=884502 (18 Oct. 2021)
Kerala Torrential rains dampen business prospects of plantation crops The extended South-West monsoon that has brought torrential rains, especially in the central Travancore belt, has dampened the prospects of many plantation crops such as tea, cardamom, rubber, pineapple at a time when the sector was recouping gradually from the Covid impact. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/torrential-rains-dampen-business-prospects-of-plantation-crops-in-kerala/article37050458.ece (18 Oct. 2021)
POST MONSOON 2021
Report Unusual post monsoon rains From October 1- 21, 22 Indian states and Union territories received excess (6) or large excess (16) rainfall, according to data from the IMD. Excess rainfall is when a region experiences 20-59 per cent more than normal rainfall. Large excess rainfall is when a region experiences 60 per cent more than normal rainfall.
As many as 59 per cent of districts in the country received excess or large excess rainfall till October 21, showing a country-wide spread except North East India, which has been going through an extended dry phase. The overall excess rainfall for India was 41 per cent on the same day. This figure was at 23 per cent on October 7 and 25 per cent on October 18. On October 19, overall rainfall excess jumped up to 36 per cent than normal.
Champawat district received the highest absolute rainfall (115.6 mm), 21 times its normal rainfall for the day. On October 19, the severity of the rainfall and flooding increased by multitudes. The state received more than a hundred times its normal rainfall for the day. In absolute terms, the rainfall was 122.4 mm as against a normal of 1.1 mm. Seven out of 13 districts recorded more than 125 mm of rainfall. Nainital, which experienced the greatest damage and highest number of deaths due to the floods, received almost 280 mm of rainfall on the day as against a normal of 1.1 mm, which would be more than 250 times the normal.
Floods in Kerala started around October 15, but the state has been receiving rainfall since the beginning of the month. As of October 7, Kerala had received 55 per cent excess rains. By October 18, this figure had gone up to 142 per cent. By October 21, the figure came down to 128 per cent, but the state had already received 90 per cent of the rainfall it receives in the post-monsoon season, mainly from the northeast monsoon which will begin only from October 26. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/floods-and-fury-how-multiple-weather-systems-caused-by-climate-change-are-at-play-79816 (22 Oct. 2021)
Uttarakhand At 535 mm in 24 hours, rain in Nainital breaks all records Uttarakhand is witnessing one of the wettest Octobers in recorded history with unprecedented rainfall in Nainital breaking records, said the meteorological department on Oct 18, 2021. The hill town of Nainital — which has remained cut off from the rest of the state following landslides on Monday — has recorded a downpour of 535 mm in a 24-hour period, setting a new record. Bikram Singh, director of the regional meteorological center said, “Before this, the highest-ever rainfall in 24 hours in Nainital town was recorded on Sep 15, 1957 at 313 mm.”
– Two more towns — Pantnagar (US Nagar district) and Mukteshwar (Nainital) — also witnessed record-breaking rainfall. Nearly 403 mm of rainfall lashed Pantnagar in the past 24 hours, breaking the previous all-time record of 228 mm of rain that was witnessed in July 1990. In Mukteshwar, rainfall broke a century-old record after the hill town received 340 mm of rainfall, the department said. Kumaon was lashed by 197 mm of rain while Garhwal witnessed 65 mm of rain in 24 hrs ending at 830 hrs on Oct 19. This is one of the wettest Octobers that the hill state has witnessed. Champawat city received 579 mm of rainfall in a 24-hour period, Pancheshwar and Lohaghat received 508 mm and 392 mm rainfall respectively while Bhimtal was lashed by 402 mm of rainfall. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/at-535-mm-in-24-hours-rain-in-nainital-breaks-all-records/articleshow/87143675.cms (20 Oct. 2021)
Rudrapur 484, Gular Bhoj 473 mm
– In Pantnagar observatory 403.2 mm of rain was recorded in the last 24 hours which is the highest ever since the observatory was set up in the year 1962. The previous highest here was 228 mm recorded on July 10, 1990. In Mukteshwar also a new record of 340.8 mm rain was created which surpassed the previous high of 254.5 mm recorded on September 18, 1914. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/record-breaking-rainfall-in-many-areas-of-kumaon.html (20 Oct. 2021)
10 of Uttarakhand’s 13 districts record between 100 and 500 millimetres of rain, even as 28 die across state in 3 days. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/climate-change-is-real-uttarakhand-rains-break-all-time-records-79767 (19 Oct. 2021)
Uttar Pradesh In 48 hrs, most districts see above average rains As per the data of the IMD, the state received an average of 80mm rainfall between October 1 and 19, which was 178% more than the normal 29mm rainfall expected during this period. The state capital recorded over 300% more rains than normal in the last 48 hours.
The rains alarmed Kharif cultivators who were planning to harvest their produce from this week. “The farmers will have to delay harvest for at least a week now. The rain will cause more damage to the farmers who have harvested their crops, but have failed to store or sell,” said agriculture economist Dharmendra Singh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/in-last-48-hrs-most-up-districts-see-above-average-post-monsoon-rains-101634657392617.html (19 Oct. 2021)
Chandigarh Highest 24-hour rainfall after 2004 Today was not only the coldest October day in the city ever since the observatory came into being in 2011 here, the day also saw the highest 24-hour rainfall in October since 2004. The maximum temperature today dropped to 19.3°C, 12 degrees below normal. Before this, the lowest maximum temperature recorded in the city was 24°C on October 18 this year.
The Met Department has, however, not compiled the data regarding the all-time lowest day temperature in the city. The UT today saw 27.2-mm rainfall in 24 hours. Before this, the highest 24-hour rainfall of 129.16 mm was recorded on October 12, 2004. This whole month has seen unusual rainfall. Till now, a total of 34-mm rainfall has been recorded in October. Before this, it was in 2013 that more rainfall (40.2 mm) was recorded in October. The significant dip in the temperature today forced some people take out their woollens. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/coldest-october-day-in-a-decade-in-chandigarh-as-city-sees-highest-24-hour-rain-after-2004-329239 (25 Oct. 2021)
IMD SW monsoon to withdraw completely around Oct. 26 “With likely setting in of northeasterly winds in the lower tropospheric levels over the Bay of Bengal and extreme south Peninsular India, the Southwest Monsoon is likely to withdraw from the entire country around 26th October 2021. Simultaneously, the Northeast Monsoon rains are also likely to commence over Southeast Peninsular India from around 26th October 2021,” the Met department said.
The withdrawal of the southwest monsoon from northwest India commenced on October 6. The retreat was the second-most delayed withdrawal of the southwest monsoon since 1975. The southwest monsoon withdrawal from northwest India in 2019 started on October 9. The withdrawal of the southwest monsoon from northwest India usually begins on September 17. However, the southwest monsoon remains active over several parts of the country. The IMD said a cyclonic circulation lies over Bihar and neighbouring areas. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/southwest-monsoon-to-withdraw-completely-from-india-around-october-26-imd-1042405.html (20 Oct. 2021)
Rains till Oct 21 due to low pressure systems, WD A western disturbance and formation of two lower pressure systems — one over Arabian Sea and the other over the Bay of Bengal — will continue to cause rainfall in different parts of the country till October 21, the India Meteorological Department said in its latest weather updates on Sunday.
These interactions and heavy wind have primarily led to torrential rainfall in Kerala in the past 48 hours. It is now expected that these systems, mainly easterlies, may trigger onset of the northeast (winter) monsoon over the south Peninsula around October 26. Though intense spell of rainfall activity over south peninsular India (Kerala and Mahe, South Interior Karnataka and Tamilnadu, Puducherry and Karaikal) is likely to reduce, heavy rainfall activity is expected over east and northeast India during October 18-21. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/rains-till-october-21-due-to-low-pressure-systems-western-disturbance-imd/articleshow/87095768.cms (18 Oct. 2021)
Tamil Nadu Northeast monsoon to set in “Normally, the northeast monsoon sets in around October 20. The prolonged southwest monsoon has led to the delay in onset this year…,” The IMD is monitoring the changes in the weather pattern,” said S. Balachandran, Deputy Director-General of Meteorology, Chennai. Nearly 22 districts, including Tiruchi, the Nilgiris, Namakkal, Salem, Kallakurichi and Vellore, are likely to experience heavy to very heavy rainfall at one or two places. The coastal region is likely to receive light to moderate rainfall on Thursday (Oct. 21). Many places in the State and Puducherry would continue to receive rainfall of different intensity till the weekend.
Weather experts noted that many parts of Tamil Nadu had already received a significant share of their annual rainfall. They predicted a good northeast monsoon. Senior meteorologist Y.E.A. Raj said a majority of the places had already received 70%-80% of the annual rainfall. Chennai had so far registered 90 cm against its annual average of 140 cm. A positive southern oscillation and the chances of La Nina — the global weather parameters that have a strong influence on monsoon — indicate subdued northeast monsoon rainfall. But the northeast monsoon could not be easily judged, given its volatile behaviour, he said. “We have not had excess monsoon rainfall after 2015. After 2017, the monsoon performance has been only close to normal. We will have to wait for the monsoon this year to break the pattern,” he added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/northeast-monsoon-to-set-in-over-tamil-nadu-on-october-26/article37100597.ece (21 Oct. 2021)
Weather review for past one week and forecast for next two weeks. https://www.facebook.com/India.Meteorological.Department/videos/696279134666438/ (21 Oct. 2021)
The Untold Story of SW Monsoon’s Exemplary Performance in September 2021 https://weather.com/en-IN/india/monsoon/news/2021-10-22-the-untold-story-of-southwest-monsoon-in-2021 (21 Oct. 2021)
La Nina is here The La Niña, a natural cycle marked by cooler-than-average ocean water in the central Pacific Ocean, is back, U.S. federal forecasters announced on Oct 14, 2021. It is happening for the second straight year. The La Niña (Spanish for “little girl”) climate pattern is one of the main drivers of weather around the world, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring.
– “La Niña conditions have developed and are expected to continue with an 87% chance of La Niña in December 2021-February 2022,” the NOAA said in an advisory. NOAA said this year’s La Niña probably will persist through the winter. In 2020, La Niña developed in August and dissipated in April 2021 as “ENSO-neutral” conditions returned. https://countercurrents.org/2021/10/la-nina-is-here/ (20 Oct. 2021)
Punjab Declining monsoon rainfall over last 2 decades Between 2010 to 2019, there were six years with deficient rainfall including 2014 (50% deficient rain), 2012 (46%), 2015 (31%), 2011 (28%) 2016 (25%), 2017 (22%), while 2010 and 2019 recorded below normal rainfall with (7% less rain) in each. Even in 2020, there was 17 per cent less rain from the average. Between 2000 to 2009, there were four years which had recorded deficient rainfall including 2002 (27.2% less), 2004 (44.1%), 2007 (32.2%) and 2009 (34.9%) and the other four recorded below normal rain out of total eight below average rainfall years in this decade.
From 1990 to 1999, there were only three years of below normal rainfall while there was no deficient rainfall year recorded in this decade. Between 1980 and 1989, there were two years 1982 (24.9%) and 1987 (67.6%) with deficient rainfall. Between 1970 and 1979, there were three years including 1972 (27.6%), 1974 (36.1%) and 1979 (38.3%) with deficient rainfall. From 1960 to 1969 and 1950 to 1959, there were three and one years with deficient rainfall, respectively. According to IMD, there were 35 years of deficient rain in Punjab between 1901 and 2017 (117 years) out of which 10 years of deficient rain were recorded between 2000 and 2019 itself, which means 29 per cent deficient rainfall years in just 17 per cent of over a century. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/the-declining-monsoon-rainfall-in-punjab-over-last-two-decades-7572517/ (19 Oct. 2021)
Reports, Experts debating weather, climate change, anthropogenic activities reason behind monsoon destruction in Uttarakhand, Kerala
No lessons learnt from past flood disasters Himanshu ThakkarAlong with better forecasts, we need better monitoring and reporting of actual rainfall, water levels in rivers and incidents of landslides. More timely and location-specific forecasts that would enable the disaster management authorities to take the necessary advance actions would help. Such emergency action plans would follow only if there is a functional, accountable and participatory disaster management mechanism in place. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/no-lessons-learnt-from-past-flood-disasters-329093 (25 Oct. 2021)
“The non-availability of real-time rainfall data for a sufficient number of locations has been a major limitation for an effective forecast of floods in Kerala,” says Sharad Chandra, Director, Flood Forecast Monitoring, Central Water Commission (CWC), in an e-mail interview on the devastating floods and landslides in Kerala from October 12 to 20. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-flash-floods-were-due-to-excessive-rainfall-says-expert/article37136558.ece (23 Oct. 2021)
Climate crisis, land-use change ruining ecology: Experts Nainital’s Mukteshwar area reported 340.8mm rainfall 24 hours between 8.30 am on Monday (Oct. 18) and 8.30 am on Tuesday (Oct. 19), the highest since the weather station was set up there in 1897. Before Tuesday, the highest rainfall of 254.5mm was reported on September 18, 1914. “Apart from Mukteshwar, the rainfall has also broken records in Pantnagar in Udham Singh Nagar district, which had reported rainfall of 228mm on July 10, 1990, has now in the last 24 hours, received 403.9mm rainfall,” said director of the meteorological centre Dehradun Bikram Singh.
According to IMD data, the state reported 178.4mm rain in first 18 days of October — 485% more than the average. In the last 24 hours starting on Tuesday morning, districts such as Chamoli and Udham Singh Nagar received around 10,000% more rain than the average. Over the last 24 hours, Chamoli has reported 127.5 mm rain, against the average of 0.6 mm; while US Nagar reported 232.1 mm rainfall against the average of 1.6mm.
To be sure, this is in line with the rainfall patterns recorded across the country in recent years. According to IMD, Uttarakhand has reported over 7,750 extreme rainfall events and cloudbursts since 2015 — a majority of them in the last three years. An extreme rainfall event is recorded when a location receives more than 204 mm of rain in 24 hours. Till July this year, the state reported 979 extreme rainfall events. In 2020, this number was 1,632 for the whole year, and went as high as 3,706 in 2018.
Weather experts, however, said that the actual number of cloudbursts or extreme rainfall events in Uttarakhand must be much higher but most areas don’t have weather stations to record them. “Officially, this year we recorded three cloudbursts — in Haldwani, Champawat and Dehradun. Traditionally, cloud burst is defined as over 100mm/hour within a limited geographical area of a few square kilometres. But we have only 25 weather observatories in the state. The state has set up 107 observatories, but more such measuring stations are required to get near to the exact numbers,” Singh said.
Experts say that although the climate crisis was causing extreme rainfall, destruction of local ecology, unplanned development, and unscientific road cutting also contributed to the weather events, which have claimed over 4,000 lives since 2014, and been the cause of 1,961 major landslides in the last seven years. They attributed this to major development projects in higher reaches of the Himalayas, especially hydel power projects; encroachment of seasonal streams; and population growth, which has led to the proliferation of construction activities in narrow valleys, often in close proximity of rivers and rivulets.
Nainital, for example, has over 7,000 structures on its slopes around the Nainital lake — up from 520 in 1901-02. Experts say the increase in rain-induced landslides in the state has also been due to road-cutting, the unscientific disposal of muck, illegal mining activities, increase in hill agriculture, and no significant increase in the forest cover of the state to compensate for these activities. In the last two surveys conducted by the Forest Survey of India, over a period of four years from 2015 to 2019, Uttarakhand did not manage to report even a 1% increase in forest cover.
DP Dobhal, a noted glaciologist and retired scientist from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), said that the impact of the climate crisis on the rainfall and snowfall patters in the Himalayas was clearly visible. Dobhal added that, over the last 50 years, the snowline has gone up from nearly 4,800 metres to 5,200 metres. “Also due to climate change, the average temperature has risen by 0.3 to 0.6 degrees Celsius in the Himalayas in the last 100 years or so.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/climate-crisis-land-use-change-ruining-ecology-experts-on-uttarakhand-flash-flood-101634666873414.html (19 Oct. 2021)
Basics right on tackling natural disasters missing K.S.Sudhi The major lacunae in terms of disaster preparedness, according to S. Sreekumar, former director of the Integrated Rural Technology Centre and member of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, is the delay in updating the landslide hazard zonation mapping, promised after the landslides during 2018 and 2019. “What we have is the map prepared on the 1:50000 scale some two years ago. We need to update it at least in 1: 5000 scale to evolve accurate mitigation plans. It can use its own resources and expertise to validate the map, which would serve as the base document for any government to evolve plans,” says Dr. Sreekumar.
Most of the disaster mitigation plans prepared by the local bodies are found to be not actionable ones. Kerala has also failed to evolve long-term mitigation plans as its focus is more on reactions to emergency situations. No local-level and community-specific action plans and capacity-building exercises are taking place, she points out.
On a positive note, an international expert in disaster management, points out that the government has given more responsibility to the local agencies for disaster management and every local body has been asked to prepare disaster management plans. It has also reinvigorated the civil defence systems by training more people, he says. However, the Rebuild Kerala initiative has been too slow in implementation. There is no conscious effort to increase risk awareness in the community. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/analysis-kerala-yet-to-get-its-basics-right-on-tackling-natural-disasters/article37103205.ece (21 Oct. 2021)
Interview ‘Destructive activities are carried out in name of development’: Madhav Gadgil It is not unprecedented. In the Western Ghats, such disasters have been happening frequently in the past few years. In the Himalayas, we have seen instances of such flooding over the past 50 years. The Chipko agitation in Uttarakhand in 1972 was partly triggered by flooding in the Alaknanda because of cutting of trees and hill slopes.
These activities have only increased over the years. The Himalayas are even more fragile compared to the Western Ghats because they were created out of sediments from the sea during the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates. The Himalayan soil is susceptible to landslides and erosion. The Western Ghats, on the other hand, were created out of volcanic rocks.
In both these regions, we are seeing extremely destructive activities in the name of so-called development. Road projects cutting through hillsides are common to both regions. In 2019, I traveled to Puthumala in Kerala after the landslides and saw several small landslide sites leading up to the big one. These were all along a road construction project. Rock quarries are proliferating along these construction sites to provide construction material. This is leading to a gradual crumbling and weakening of the hills.
Climate change is having a perceptible impact on the entire west coast. Sea level is increasing, and the pattern of cyclone formation has changed. Cyclonic activity had reduced over Bay of Bengal and increased over Arabian Sea, including a spike in severe cyclones. All along the west coast, the coastal regulation zone has been crumpled under the feet. Mangroves are being destroyed and several ports are being built to support the demand for construction. These will be devastated by cyclones in the future. In another five to 10 years, cyclones will impact the entire region. Gujarat and Maharashtra have already seen the impact with Cyclone Tauktae and Cyclone Nisarga but Karnataka, Goa and Kerala will also be devastated. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/madhav-gadgil-interview-destructive-activities-are-carried-out-in-name-of-development-101634668617841.html (20 Oct. 2021)
“The way forward is to actually implement (the WGEEP report) through proper democratic process. The way forward is that the communities living in Western Ghats should assert their constitutional democratic rights,” the ecologist told PTI in a telephonic interview. Gadgil, while blaming the ecologically damaging activities like stone quarrying for disasters happening in Western Ghats, dismissed the suggestion that the time is over for implementing the report to protect the hills. “That is of course a completely nonsensical statement because things are getting worse there. No question of time is over for implementing this,” he said, responding to a query. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/things-getting-worse-in-western-ghats-says-madhav-gadgil/articleshow/87129471.cms (19 Oct. 2021)
Flash floods and back-to-back landslips in Kerala bring into focus, once again, the fragile ecosystem of the mountain chain that runs almost parallel to India’s western coast. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/western-ghats-restless-mountains-shattered-lives/article37143597.ece (23 Oct. 2021)
Uttarakhand’s unstoppable exposure to some of the most heart-rending disasters every year from floods to earthquakes to glacial lake outbursts and to landslides bring provoking questions about its governance. As data reveals decisions have been taken in defiance of limits that nature sets in the form of carrying capacity of any terrain. As causes of disasters, Corruption comes first and climate change later.
The Policy and the Plan for disaster management has not been updated since 2016. The Policy and the Plan document repeatedly refer to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, need for an evacuation plan, organizational structure of disaster management (only posts not names), hazards and vulnerabilities of India and the state per se but nothing in particular to offer to an administrator who has to look back and take action in a calamitous situation.
The key points that enable pre-emptive action for an administrator, key collaborators and friends or partners in need and with rural population being thrice the urban there is an intensive need to identify trained and willing panchayats to come on call for disaster prevention. Uttarakhand loses roughly 20 thousand crores to disasters every year. Does it invest this amount in development that gets washed away due to disasters? Therefore the argument of refining quality of governance led by educated and sensitive people who are grassroot connected and speak the language of their land, is the only alternative to the current chaos and sorrow. https://thedailyguardian.com/what-ails-uttarakhands-governance/ (21 Oct. 2021)
Don’t ignore signals of climate change warn experts Experts say a rise in sea surface temperature in the Arabian Sea is one of the reasons for it and they cite frequent cyclonic circulations over the Arabian Sea to emphasise their point. “The temperature over the Arabian Sea has gone up by 1.2 to 1.4 degrees Celsius in the last two decades increasing the frequency of cyclonic events along the western coast,” said Roxy Mathew, planet scientist with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.
He said usually temperature in the Arabian Sea is 1.5 degrees lower than the Bay of Bengal and this is one of the reasons for less cyclonic circulations and low pressure in the Arabian Sea. But of late, the situation is changing. What is disturbing is that the warming is seen not only in top layers of sea but also in the deeper layers of the ocean, he said. “We all know more than 90% of the heat on earth is absorbed by oceans. Usually the temperature in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal is above 28 degrees Celsius and in Arabian Sea it is between 26 to 28 degrees Celsius. But the Arabian Sea is warming up fast. It is quite visible in the last decade or so,” Mathew said. Experts say one of the reasons for high temperature is chemical reaction in the sea induced by pollution.
Noted ecological scientist Madhav Gadgil, who headed an expert group to study degradation of Western Ghat mountain ranges, said people will have to take more proactive roles to protect their place of living, surroundings and environment. “I agree lopsided developmental activities aggravated the intensity of natural disasters. But I still have hope about Kerala. It was the first to take up decentralised planning. Let people take up their bread and butter issues along with sustenance,” he said adding states like Maharashtra and Goa also experience similar tragedies year after year but Kerala gets wider publicity. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kerala-cannot-ignore-signals-of-climate-change-anymore-warn-experts-101634662613035.html (19 Oct. 2021)
Why is India facing bouts of extreme weather? https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/explained-why-is-india-facing-bouts-of-extreme-weather/article37144380.ece (24 Oct. 2021)
But as per the expert, merely heating up of the oceans as a direct result of global warming is not the only cause of extreme flooding which disrupts normalcy in the coastal state of Kerala. “We need a detailed study of the local factors in order to have a better understanding of reasons that contribute to the frequency of floods and the resulting landslides which cause deaths in Kerala,” Madhavan Rajeevan, former secretary, MoES said while pointing at the lack of substantial meteorological research in the country. However, the expert also talked about changes in land use patterns in Kerala that have increased the chances of casualties during landslides. https://en.gaonconnection.com/uttarakhand-kerala-floods-reason-explained-rainfall-landslides-deaths-gaon-cafe-weather-monsoon/ (20 Oct. 2021)
Madhavan Rajeevan, former secretary, ministry of earth Sciences says that there were clear forecasts of heavy rains in Uttarakhand and Kerala, but the state authorities failed to take necessary advance measures to reduce the disaster impacts. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/uttarakhand-and-kerala-may-have-failed-to-act-on-rainfall-warnings/articleshow/87170924.cms (21 Oct. 2021)
Prior to this, over the weekend, large parts of Kerala and some districts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had witnessed extremely heavy rainfall. There too, over two dozen people lost their lives due to flooding and landslides, and several residential areas suffered massive damages with houses along the riverbank washed away like a pack of cards.
To a question, ‘If this much rain in October in Kerala is common or not?’ a senior meteorologist from IMD Pune, K.S. Hosalikar curtly said, “It is not uncommon.” Low pressure areas in southeast Arabian Sea moved towards the coast of Kerala and Karnataka. This LPA does result in a lot of rain. And even when it was spread over several districts, it was actually a highly localised rainfall event in central Kerala and not widespread.
“There are two different stories for climate change — one at the regional level and the other at the global scale. But what is important is that the experts have warned how climate change will have an unequal impact in a given area. Localised extreme weather events are a cause of worry,” Hosalikar said. Climate change or anthropogenic reasons, fact remains that the extreme weather events are set to rise. No one has disputed that. https://www.sarkaritel.com/what-caused-devastating-rains-in-uttarakhand-kerala-at-this-time-of-year/ (20 Oct. 2021)
A study by scientists of the IITM under the MoES has found a 52% increase in the frequency of cyclones over the Arabian Sea between 2001 and 2019, while there was an 8% decrease of the same over the Bay of Bengal, as compared to the 19-year period between 1982 and 2002.
In 2018 when Kerala witnessed the megaflood, the Indian Ocean witnessed seven cyclones of which three were from the Arabian Sea. In 2019 when the state witnessed the second back-to-back flood, the Arabian Sea contributed five cyclones of the total eight cyclones in the north Indian Ocean.
The IMD stats also show nine cyclones and depressions had formed in 2020, of which four were over the Arabian Sea. The number was seven in 2019. During the 1960-70 period, the Bay of Bengal witnessed 135 cyclonic storms and depressions while the number was 23 over the Arabian Sea. In the 2010-20 period, the number of cyclones and depressions over the Bay of Bengal nosedived to 59, while it increased to 33 over the Arabian Sea.
There is no point in thinking that the number of low pressure formations and cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea will come down in the near future. In fact, a number of studies have pointed out that this phenomenon would increase because of global warming. “In short, we should be prepared to face monsoon calamities by drawing lessons from other parts of the world and following a system reducing the impact of calamities in such a scenario would be ideal for the state,” said Dr Pratheesh C Mammen, climate researcher. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/oct/18/climate-change-knocks-hard-at-doors-of-kerala-time-to-adopt-new-strategy-2372558.html (18 Oct. 2021)
Editorial No state has taken the recommendations seriously and the rampage on nature has continued. The Gadgil Commission recommendations were diluted by the Kasturirangan Commission, and still later by yet another commission. It is all the water that has gone into diluting the Gadgil Commission report that has now come back with a vengeance to drown large parts of the state. If the right lessons are not learnt from the disaster and remedial action taken, it can only get worse in the coming years. The remedy may be painful now but avoiding it will cause more pain later. All other states on the Ghats should also heed the warning from Kerala https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/first-edit/warning-to-western-ghats-states-1042219.html (19 Oct. 2021)
Report What is causing heavy rains in Uttarakhand, Kerala A confluence of cyclonic storms forming in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea is among the biggest reasons behind heavy rains in different parts of the country over the past few days that have claimed dozens of lives in Uttarakhand, Kerala and other states, experts said on Tuesday (Oct. 19). Climate experts also warn the intensity of rains in Kerala and Uttarakhand is “alarming” and must draw immediate attention towards “climate emergency”.
“The latest rains in Kerala are a result of a normal climatic event called retreating monsoon that happens every year. However, the intensity of rains there and in Uttarakhand is alarming and must draw our attention to the severity of climate emergency.
According to V Vinoj, Assistant Professor, IIT Bhubaneswar, states and the country as whole need to be “climate smart”. He suggested specific warning system to be installed to tackle the climate situation better. “It is now well-known that anthropogenic climate change will lead to extreme weather patterns. Therefore, it is now imperative that their impacts on life and property are minimised by following locally relevant adaptation measures. In parallel, efforts on mitigation efforts should be hastened so as to slow climate change. https://www.livemint.com/science/news/explained-what-is-causing-heavy-rains-in-uttarakhand-kerala-over-few-days-11634700464625.html (20 Oct. 2021)
Why is it raining so much in October? In Delhi, October has emerged as the wettest month since 1960. According to IMD, an unusual western disturbance – a rain system that originates in the Mediterranean region – swept across the northern plans and slammed into the Himalayan ranges, triggering extremely heavy rain spells often regarded as cloudbursts.
Water levels in Subarnarekha, Budhabalang and Jalaka rivers in northern Odisha are on the rise, according to the weather department. In Kerala, shutters of Cheruthoni dam, part of the Idukki reservoir in Kerala, were opened on Tuesday to create more storage capacity after IMD forecast of more rainfall over the next two days. The gates of Idamalayar dam in Ernakulam and Pampa in Pathanamthitta were also opened in the morning as water in these reservoirs had almost reached the danger levels. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/monsoon-is-over-but-why-is-it-raining-so-much-in-october-here-s-the-answer-101634696246409.html (20 Oct. 2021)
Reports on impact of extreme rains, flooding, landslides and death toll in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand Rain-hit Kumaon loses 250km of forest land The data, accessed by TOI, said at least 250 km of forest land running along five major rivers of Kumaon — Gaula, Nandhaur, Kosi, Sharda and Ramganga — has been swept away in the past two days following heavy rain. The rivers flow through Corbett Tiger Reserve, Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary and other biodiversity rich zones of the state. A department official said that banks of several tributaries and streams that flow from Shivalik hills were also washed away leading to widespread damage to the existing riverine ecosystem. The department also said that several forest roads — which would measure 600-km combined — were also washed away after the heavy downpour.
Meanwhile, in UP, the forest department has constituted special rescue teams for reptiles that swollen waters of Ganga might carry to the state. At least 25 UP villages on the banks of Ganga have been alerted. Surendra Kumar of Gauspur village said that every time Ganga is flooded, reptiles invade villages and fields. “Many pythons and crocodiles have been sighted in the area during rains. We are taking precautions,” he said. The water level in Ganga marginally decreased on Thursday (Oct. 21) but the river continued to flow with 1.27 lakh cusec water, according to the UP irrigation department. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/rain-hit-kumaon-loses-250km-of-forest-land-teams-formed-in-up-to-save-aquatic-life/articleshow/87192437.cms (22 Oct. 2021)
Stranded tourists around the Kosi were rescued on trackers and buses. There were no reports of rising water in the Ramganga river and its tributaries that flow through the heart of India’s most famous wildlife sanctuary. The Kosi river, which runs on the eastern periphery of the Jim Corbett National Park, overflowed its banks due to extreme rainfall in its catchment areas, endangering iconic wildlife and stranding tourists in forest resorts. An initial assessment showed there have been many landslides in forested areas because of the heavy rains, said Biju Lal, divisional forest officer of Nainital.
The forest department has shifted people from close to 20 villages in Corbett near the Kosi river to safety. People staying in some hotels and resorts near Kosi were also shifted. The national park has been closed for tourists since Monday (Oct. 21). The meandering Kosi has flooded like this after many years, according to Ramnagar-based wildlife activist AG Ansari. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/overflowing-kosi-river-threatens-wildlife-in-uttarakhand-101634666878898.html (19 Oct. 2021)
Even as search for the missing trekkers continues in rain-battered Uttarakhand, complaints of mismanagement, lack of coordination and irregularities in relief work have started emerging from disaster stricken areas while people are still struggling to pick up pieces of life. Rekha Negi, gram pradhan of Umagarh village in Ramgarh area of Nainital district, said, “There has been no help from the administration yet. No one from the government has contacted us. The village mostly has elderly who are facing multiple health related issues which makes it even more difficult for us.”
Nainital district with 25 deaths remains the worst affected. Visuals of elderly being carried on palkis have emerged from the hilly areas of Ramgarh. Many alleged that the district administration failed to arrange food for the teams of National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force. It’s the local residents who are taking care of the relief teams’ food. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/oct/25/uttarakhand-residents-complain-of-laxity-in-relief-operations-death-toll-reaches-77-2375351.html (25 Oct. 2021)
The death count in Uttarakhand rose to 75 on Friday (Oct. 22) as rescue workers found more bodies and also brought to safety score of stranded people after the rains that recently lashed the state. SDRF men rescued 65 trekkers, including six foreigners, stranded near Bageshwar’s Pindari and Kafni glaciers. Twenty-three people were rescued from from Darma Valley of Pithoragarh. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-nainital-rains-live-updates/liveblog/87196611.cms (23 Oct. 2021)
In Ramgarh Talla, it appears that the situation has been particularly devastating. Videos from there also give an idea that a lot of damage in interior areas has taken place which may not capture the attention of officials immediately. This damage has been of longer-term duration and these aspects of the disaster, badly upsetting the life of many ordinary hill households, already leading a difficult life, should be kept in mind while preparing longer-term relief and rehabilitation plan. https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/disaster-like-situation-in-uttarakhand-flags-need-for-ecologically-protective-development-priorities-in-state (21 Oct. 2021)
Rajesh Ghimire, an independent journalist in Kathmandu, Nepal told DTE that many people in his country had been shocked by recent heavy rains in Nepal as well. “Nobody expects heavy rains in Nepal after Dashain or Dussehra. The paddy crops have been destroyed. People are in shock. They used to think that climate change was a subject of the future. But the harsh reality is that we need to act now to prevent it from happening in the future,” he said. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/uttarakhand-floods-respect-himalayan-landscape-if-you-want-to-preserve-it-say-experts-79800 (21 Oct. 2021)
An elephant was stranded in the flooded waters of Gaula river in Nainital. The incident occurred on Gaula river between Halduchaur & Lalkua near Haata village. The elephant was initially stuck on an island in the midst of the river. Later, after much struggle the elephant managed to swim back to the shore. https://www.hindustantimes.com/videos/news/nainital-elephant-almost-drowns-as-it-is-swept-away-by-flooded-river-watch-101634658350116.html (19 Oct. 2021)
The death toll in the disaster that came after heavy rains in the state is increasing. There are reports of five more bodies found in Uttarkashi. While two are missing. However, the official figures put the death toll at 72. On Saturday (Oct. 23), 40 people were rescued and brought to Pithoragarh from Gunji of Vyas valley of Dharchula. https://jsnewstimes.com/utk/uttarakhand-disaster-death-toll-reaches-80-40-more-people-rescued-from-vyas-valley-central-team-arrived-to-take-stock (23 Oct. 2021)
The torrential rains that battered the hilly state for the past few days have left roads blocked with boulders and villages without electricity. Out of four the shrines of the Char Dham Yatra – Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri – the route to Badrinath remains closed due to landslide.
Heavy rains pounded the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim and the tea growing region of North Bengal, causing landslides that cut off National Highway-10, the main road linking Gangtok with the rest of the country. Thousands of tourists, who thronged the hills during the Durga Puja season, got stranded because of torrential downpour in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/oct/21/uttarakhand-toll-at-55-rescue-ops-pick-up-speed-2373807.html (21 Oct. 2021)
Guardian reports that with 46 death and 11 missing in Uttarakhand and 77 death and dozens missing in neighbouring Nepal, the death toll in the heavy rainfall earlier this week is over 150. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/20/many-dead-in-flooding-and-landslides-in-northern-india (20 Oct. 2021)
The death toll in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand touched 54 two more bodies were recovered on Oct. 21. At least five people are still missing. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-west-up-rains-live-updates/liveblog/87148429.cms (21 Oct. 2021)
Four days of heavy rainfall in the state has caused landslides in several places and damaged homes and roads. Ranikhet and Almora areas were cut off from the plains, NDTV reported. Ranikhet is running out of fuel. Phone and internet facilities have been disrupted in several places, according to the news channel. The Nainital-Kaladhungi road, blocked on Tuesday after heavy rain, has now reopened, ANI reported. https://scroll.in/latest/1008136/uttarakhand-rain-toll-rises-to-47-ranikhet-and-almora-cut-off-from-plains (20 Oct. 2021)
This report has details of cloud burst impacts, people trapped and being rescued by SDRF. Landslides, road blocks and resultant deaths. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cloudburst-in-uttarakhand-at-least-10-people-feared-buried-under-muck-101634632778028.html (19 Oct. 2021)
As many as 80 people are stranded in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul-Spiti district due to bad weather, a disaster management official said on Thursday. Eleven tourists travelling in cars are among those stranded at Batal, he added. They are staying at the PWD rest house and Chacha-Chachi Ka Dhabha at Batal, the official said. A plan has been chalked out to take them to safer places in 4×4 vehicles on Friday, he added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/himachal-bad-weather-at-lahaul-spiti-80-people-stranded-101634869343279.html (22 Oct. 2021)
In three separate incidents, at least 9 trekkers and 3 porters have died in Uttarakhand, Himalayas. The SDRF rescue team on Thursday spotted bodies of 5 trekkers from West Bengal while 1 trekker was rescued and airlifted to an Army hospital. Ridhim Agarwal, DIG, SDRF told that an 11 member group including 8 trekkers, 1 cook and 2 guides started on Oct 14 from Harshil in Uttarkhand to Chithkul in Himachal Pradesh. They lost contact after the weather turned hostile on Oct 17.
In another incident in the Bageshwar district of the Kumaon region, a total of 60 people including 24 domestic trekkers, 6 foreign nationals and 30 local villagers were caught in the middle of inclement weather around the Pindari Glacier trek route said an official note.
Besides, several tourists are trapped at tourist spots in the Kumaon region. An Army Chinuk helicopter airlifted 30 people including 11 tourists from Gunji, a small stopover en-route to Kailash Mansarovar in Pithoragarh district. Meanwhile, a tourist from Maharastra died due to cold in the district. At some other places, tourists are also waiting for the roadblock to be cleared as some patches have been washed out. https://www.news18.com/news/india/9-trekkers-3-porters-found-dead-in-uttarakhand-amid-snowfall-4347584.html (21 Oct. 2021)
17 trekkers have gone missing in Himachal’s Kinnaur district, a senior official said on Wednesday (Oct. 20). The trekkers had left Harshil in adjoining Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi for Chitkul in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur on October 14, but they reportedly went missing during inclement weather from October 17 to 19 in Lamkhaga pass, he said.. https://www.ndtv.com/cities/17-trekkers-missing-in-himachal-pradeshs-kinnaur-search-operation-to-begin-police-2582518 (21 Oct. 2021)
“It is unlikely that porters will survive. They are feared dead,” said an official in Dehradun, privy to the incident. In another incident, an Uttarkashi-based agency said it has no whereabouts of the three porters and eight trekkers from New Delhi and West Bengal who left for Chitkul in Himachal from Harsil in Uttarakhand on October 14. https://www.news18.com/news/india/8-trekkers-go-missing-in-uttarakhand-amid-snowfall-3-porters-feared-dead-4343987.html (20 Oct. 2021)
The state government estimated that nearly 70 people from Bengal are stuck there. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/70-from-state-still-stuck-in-uttarakhand/articleshow/87169253.cms (21 Oct. 2021)
Indian Air Force (IAF) on Oct. 19 inducted three Dhruv helicopters at Pantnagar district in Uttarakhand for flood relief efforts caused by heavy rainfall. CM said that 34 people have lost their lives so far and five still missing due to incessant rain in the state. https://www.hindustantimes.com/videos/news/flood-rescue-watch-how-iaf-chopper-team-saved-people-stranded-in-nainital-101634659411733.html (19 Oct. 2021)
As per information received by IAF, a total of 25 people marooned at three locations near Sunder Khal village were airlifted to safer areas by these helicopters. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/uttarakhand-rains-iaf-inducts-3-dhruv-helicopters-in-uttarakhands-pantnagar-for-flood-relief-efforts-2581091 (19 Oct. 2021)
Kalyani river flooded several areas in Rudrapur. Seems water released by some local dams worsened the floods. (Video, Sanjay Gusain, Rudrapur. 21.10.2021)
Nainital Lake overflowed flooding the iconic Mall Road and water entered buildings and houses with people seen wading in knee-deep waters on Oct. 18. Meanwhile, an incident of cloudburst was reported in a village of Ramgarh in the Nainital district as teams of police and administration rushed to the spot. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/nainital-lake-overflows-floods-mall-road-as-uttarakhand-sees-incessant-rain-101634623590473.html (19 Oct. 2021)
At least 13 of them were killed in three separate incidents in Nainital town early Tuesday (Oct. 19) after a cloudburst — an ultra-intense deluge of rain — triggered a landslide and destroyed several structures. Another landslide in the northern Almora district killed five people after huge rocks and a wall of mud demolished and engulfed their home. More than 100 tourists were stuck inside a resort in Ramgarh after the overflowing Kosi river deluged several areas.
The weather office said several areas were drenched by more than 400 millimetres (16 inches) of rainfall on Monday (Oct. 18), causing landslides and flooding. Authorities ordered the closure of schools and banned all religious and tourist activities in the state. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/incessant-rain-claims-24-lives-in-uttarakhand-nainital-cut-off-from-rest-of-state-1042042.html (19 Oct. 2021)
On October 19, bodies of three migrant workers from West Champaran were recovered at Mukteshwar near Nainital town. Five more migrant workers from West Champaran have died in the October 18 landslide in Uttarakhand’s Nainital, taking the toll from the Bihar district in the tragedy to eight, officials said on Oct. 21. “A sum of ₹4 lakh will be given to the next of kin of each of the deceased as compensation,” said the Nainital DM. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/5-more-from-bihar-dead-in-nainital-landslide-101634832028731.html (21 Oct. 2021)
This says 65 families shifted to safe locations after landslide along Balianala in Nainital. It’s a perennial landslide zone since 1975. https://www.frontnewsnetwork.com/landslide-continues-in-balianale-65-families-displaced-in-government-schools/ (22 Oct. 2021)
Road connectivity to Nainital was restored after two days. The hill town had been cut off after landslide debris blocked all three routes to Nainital. “In the last three days, rescue personnel have evacuated and rescued approximately 8,000 people,” Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said. In Himachal, 2 national highways and 15 link roads are still closed. BRO officials said avalanches have occurred in Patseo-Baralacha region and the snow is being removed. Though traffic was restored on the Spiti road, the Manali-Leh highway is still closed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/himalayan-tragedy-uttarakhand-toll-tops-50-5-killed-in-north-bengal/articleshow/87170854.cms (21 Oct. 2021)
Nainital lake’s lifeline is under threat as authorities plan to choke the lake’s most important recharge zone – Sukhatal. https://savekumaon.com/lakes-of-kumaon-nainital-sukhatal/ (20 Oct. 2021) This FB post shares video claiming Sukhatal being dewatered. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?extid=WA-UNK-UNK-UNK-AN_GK0T-GK1C&v=602057724472988 (23 Oct. 2021)
How iconic Naini lake in Nainital got destroyed https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/how-iconic-naini-lake-in-nainital-got-destroyed (21 Oct. 2021)
After heavy rains, Gaula river is in flood spate. This video shows new bypass bridge on Gaula river connecting Gaulapar-Haldwani developed cracks and facing collapse. Recent reports mentioned significant damages to its pillars, safety wall due to excessive mining. (Video Prakash, Haldwani, this morning)
हल्द्वानी में भी बारिश ने खूब कहर बरपाया है। यहां गौला नदी का पुल सुबह बह गया। हल्द्वानी में यह एक प्रमुख संपर्क पुल था। हल्द्वानी शहर से लगते कोठगोदाम रेलवे स्टेशन का एक बड़ा हिस्सा क्षतिग्रस्त हो गया है। यहां आने वाली सभी गाड़ियां रद्द कर दी गई हैं। ऊधमसिंह नगर के टनकपुर में भी शारदा नदी के बहाव के कारण 100 मीटर रेल लाइन बह गई है। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/natural-disasters/flood/22-more-deaths-heavy-losses-due-to-record-breaking-rain-in-uttarakhand-79761 (19 Oct. 2021)
Amid the chaos, the Nainital lake has overflowed, an under-construction bridge over the Chalthi river has been washed away due to a rise in water levels, and a car with passengers inside got caught between two boulders in the middle of a swollen stream. CM said, “So far 34 people have died and five are missing. ₹ 4 lakh compensation will be given to the families of the deceased. Those who lost their houses will be given ₹ 1.9 lakh. All possible help to be extended to those who lost their livestock,” he said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/uttarakhand-rains-live-updates-pm-modi-speaks-to-chief-minister-amid-flooding-in-state-2580241 (19 Oct. 2021)
48 Hours Of Rain, No Electricity Or Phone Signal https://www.ndtv.com/blog/blog-48-hours-of-rain-in-uttarakhand-no-electricity-or-phone-signal-2580514 (19 Oct. 2021)
Winter monsoon, rampant construction & garbage dumping: Decoding the Nainital disaster. https://www.indiatoday.in/news-analysis/story/winter-monsoon-rampant-construction-garbage-dumping-decoding-the-nainital-disaster-1867131-2021-10-20 (20 Oct. 2021)
The Badrinath national highway in Chamoli district has been completely blocked due to debris at seven places following incessant rains over the last 48 hours, the district administration said on Tuesday (Oct. 18). As per the ANI report, a total of 2,500 devotees have taken shelter at the Badrinath Temple and are waiting for the highway to re-open. The Chamoli district received fresh snowfall this morning. The district also received 19.8 mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/dehradun-news/uttarakhand-rain-badrinath-national-highway-blocked-in-7-places-due-to-debris-101634623890625.html (19 Oct. 2021)
In rain-battered Uttarakhand, an under-construction bridge over the Chalthi River in Champawat got washed away due to a rise in water level. The Badrinath National Highway in Chamoli district has been completely blocked due to debris at seven places following incessant rains over the last 48 hours, the district administration said on Tuesday. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/oct/19/watch–river-washes-away-under-construction-bridge-as-rains-cause-havoc-in-uttarakhand-2373145.html (19 Oct. 2021)
All Gates Of Nanak Sagar Dam Opened https://news.abplive.com/news/india/uttarakhand-snanak-sagar-dam-all-gates-opened-in-udham-singh-nagar-water-rushes-out-1488596 (19 Oct. 2021)
At least three people were killed and two others were injured after a roof collapse incident in Lansdowne in Pauri Garhwal district and the Badrinath highway was blocked in Chamoli district due to falling debris following heavy rainfall in Uttarakhand on Monday (Oct. 18), according to a report.
The CM was also told by the district magistrate of Rudraprayag that there were 6,000 devotees at the Kedarnath temple on Sunday and 4,000 of them have returned and 2,000 are at safe locations.
ANI also reported the Badrinath highway has been blocked at the Pagal Nala area due to falling debris after heavy rain and that several passenger vehicles are stuck. Efforts are underway to clear the highway, it added. The Badrinath Yatra has been halted and passengers en route to the shrine have been stopped in safe places. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/3-killed-in-lansdowne-badrinath-highway-blocked-after-heavy-rain-in-uttarakhand-101634551894761.html (18 Oct. 2021)
In view of the red alert issued by the IMD for heavy rains, the Uttarakhand government has halted Char Dham Yatra. Pilgrims have been advised not to proceed further. Pilgrims on their way to Kedarnath have been asked to halt at Guptkashi and Gaurikund and those going to Badrinath were asked to stay back at Joshimath and Pandukeshwar till the weather improves. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/uttarakhand-heavy-rains-landslides-force-govt-to-halt-char-dham-yatra/videoshow/87104050.cms#0 (18 Oct. 2021)
Heavy rains, landslides force govt to halt Char Dham yatra https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/uttarakhand-heavy-rains-landslides-force-govt-to-halt-char-dham-yatra/videoshow/87104050.cms (18 Oct. 2021)
Rains force automobile companies to shut production at Uttarakhand plants https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/technology/auto/uttarakhand-rains-force-auto-companies-to-shut-production-7600981.html (20 Oct. 2021)
Himalayan vulnerabilities: Don’t worsen them https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/himalayan-vulnerabilities-dont-worsen-them/articleshow/87164849.cms (20 Oct. 2021)
Reports on rains, dams operations, flood resuce and related disasters from Kerala
Kerala Ham radios to the rescue in rain-hit The services of ham radio operators were utilised during the 2018 August deluge when the whole state was ravaged. “As the state was flooded, power connection was lost in most parts. This affected mobile communication in many places. Our service was sought by the district administration. Over 40 ham radio operators worked and helped at least 2,000 people during the floods that year,” Sarachandran said.
Ham radio and its operations are considered as the “King of all hobbies” and amateur radio, as it is otherwise known, is internationally accepted as a means of emergency communication. HAM operators use high frequency signals to connect with other operators. “It is basically an amateur radio set that is used for non-commercial exchange of messages, private recreation, self-training, emergency communication, etc,” he said.
From remote places where people are stranded and are unable to communicate with the outer world as their mobile phones are not working, HAM radio operators can track the last location of their phone’s signal, based on which they try to locate the person, another HAM operator said. There are various types of ham radio depending upon on their battery capacity ranging from 10 W to 60 W. While 10 W radio set can transmit messages within a range of 10-15 km, the 60W can transmit messages up to a distance 100 km. https://www.theweek.in/wire-updates/national/2021/10/20/mds1-kl-ham-radio.html (20 Oct. 2021)
Room for Pampa project may have helped prevent flooding in Kuttanad Among the many measures by the Kerala government to tackle the issue of flooding was the Room for Pampa project, drawn from the Room for River project of the Netherlands. When the 2020 monsoons went by without incident in Kerala, there were murmurs that the project, while still in its early stages, was beginning to show some results. But when in October this year, rains created unexpected havoc, fingers were pointed at the state’s precious project – why wasn’t it working?
Because, the project, thus far, is only limited to the Pampa river in Kuttanad, says Ramakumar, State Planning Board member and lead author of the project report. “It worked for Kuttanad – around which Room for Pampa – was built. The flooding happened in other parts of the state and those rivers are not covered under the project, yet,” he says.
As a first step, the Board had created the plan for a single river – Pampa, in specific – because that surrounded Kuttanad, the most flood-prone area. There wasn’t a year when some part of Kuttanad was not flooded –as it lies 2-3 metres below sea level. That’s what first prompted the state to look at what the Netherlands, with a similar low-lying geography, did to face their extreme weathers. It sounded simple and obvious enough. If they didn’t want water from the river to flow out into the land, they had to create space within the river for the water. It is when there is not enough room in the rivers that water flows out and floods the surrounding land. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/how-keralas-room-pampa-project-may-have-helped-prevent-flooding-kuttanad-156852 (24 Oct. 2021)
“Matter Of People’s Lives”: Supreme Court Raps Kerala, Tamil Nadu Over Dam’s Water-Level The Supreme Court today rapped the state governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu over lack of coordination days after Kerala saw heavy rain and flooding in many parts, leading to more than 20 deaths. The top court was hearing a petition that raised concern over the water level in Mullaperiyar Dam, which has been at the centre of dispute between the two states for several years.
“We direct all the parties to consult each other in coordination with (the) state governments. Take a call on the water-level. Do it with immediacy. It’s a very serious issue. It’s a matter of people’s lives and property,” the court said. While the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated from Tamil Nadu.
“If the parties do their job, we don’t have to enter this issue. Tell us what should be the maximum level that is to be maintained and till when it should be maintained,” it added. A two-judge bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar also asked the central government to “understand the anxiousness” of Kerala, and return with a response with urgency. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/mullaperiyar-dam-supreme-court-raps-kerala-tamil-nadu-matter-of-peoples-lives-2587157 (25 Oct. 2021)
Details of discussion in court. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/mullaperiyar-dam-supreme-court-kerala-tamil-nadu-water-level-184233 (25 Oct. 2021)
‘Mullaperiyar Dam Shows Significant Structural Flaws’ : International Body’s Report Cited In Supreme Court. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/mullaperiyar-dams-shows-significant-structural-flaws-international-bodys-report-cited-in-supreme-court-184184 (23 Oct. 2021)
Pinarayi Vijayan urges Stalin to draw water from Mullaperiyar dam as levels rise Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to his Tamil Nadu counterpart M K Stalin, urging his government to draw maximum quantities of water from the Mullaperiyar dam as reservoir levels inched closer to the 142-foot mark after heavy rain pounded the area. Vijayan made the appeal as water levels in the dam, situated on the banks of Periyar river in Kerala’s Idukki district but managed by Tamil Nadu, crossed 137.05 feet on Sunday (Oct. 24) night. “With the current inflow it is feared that the reservoir level may reach 142 ft once the torrential rain intensifies. Hence, there would arise an urgent need for the gradual release of water from Mullaperiyar dam through the tunnel to Tamil Nadu,” Vijayan said in his letter. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/thiruvananthapuram/pinarayi-urges-stalin-to-draw-water-from-mullaperiyar-dam-as-levels-rise-7588813/ (25 Oct. 2021)
Water resources minister Roshy Augustine said that there was no need for any concern about the safety of Mullaperiyar dam. He also dismissed allegations of delay in rescue works following the heavy rains and landslides. Speaking to reporters here on Friday (Oct. 22), the minister said that he had arrived at the spot within hours after the landslide. Ministers V N Vasavan, K Rajan and K Radhakrishnan camped at various places and led the rescue works, he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/no-need-for-concern-over-mullaperiyar-dam-safety/articleshow/87213505.cms (23 Oct. 2021)
Houses submerged at Kallar Dam: Around 30 houses downstream of Kallar Dam were inundated following a delay in raising its shutters. The dam was filled to its capacity after the isolated very heavy rainfall on Oct 20, 2021 night and the level was 821.1 m at 12.30 am. When the level touched 822.5 m at 1.30 am, the Dam Safety Authority sought the permission of the District Collector to raise the shutters. However, the dam could be opened only by 2.50 am after all procedures were completed. By 2.30 am, the reservoir of the dam overflowed and flooded the houses. But, according to Dam Safety Assistant Executive Engineer Sajeev Kumar, the dam overflowed as a result of the waves created by the lifting of shutters. The max level in Kallar dam is 824.48 m. https://www.onmanorama.com/news/kerala/2021/10/22/water-level-rises-mullaperiyar-tamil-nadu.html (22 Oct. 2021)
Idukki Dam in Kerala: The water level at 5 p.m. on Oct 21, 2021 was 2,398.24 ft. The level had dropped to 2,398.10 ft at 9 p.m. on Oct 20, Wednesday, following the opening of the three shutters by 0.34 metres on Tuesday. An official of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) said on Thursday that there was 94.42% storage and the spillway discharge was 0.378 mcm (million cubic metres) per hour. While the gross inflow per hour was 1.361 mcm, the discharge of water for power generation at the Moolamattom power plant was 0.421 mcm. The power generation on Wednesday was 14.86 mu. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/water-level-increases-in-idukki-dam/article37112248.ece (21 Oct. 2021)
The state heaved a collective sigh of relief as the water from three dams including Cheruthoni flowed through Periyar river and reached Aluva without submerging low-lying areas including the Kochi Airport on the night of October 19. After receiving 135% excess rain from October 1 to 19 in 2021, Kerala decided to open the gates of three major dams–Cheruthony in Idukki, Idamalayar in Ernakulam and Pamba in Pathanamthitta, but it staggered the timings to reduce the impact.
The government constituted an inter-departmental committee headed by an additional chief secretary to manage dam safety in the state. The chief minister had asked the Dam Safety Authority and Disaster Management Authority to coordinate with various government departments and chart out action plans to tackle flood-like situations. https://www.indiatoday.in/india-today-insight/story/how-kerala-managed-its-reservoirs-in-2021-floods-1867663-2021-10-21 (21 Oct. 2021)
The water level at Kuttampuzha along the Periyar River increased by around 30 cm around 9 a.m after the two shutters of the Edamalayar dam were raised by 80 cm at 6 a.m on October 19. The authorities had decided to open the shutters to avoid a surge in the water level in the river in view of the water in the Idukki reservoir approaching the red alert level and the IMD predicting heavy rain fall from October 20. No flooding was reported in the Periyar waters after the water level increased by 30 cm at Kuttampuzha in Kothamangalam.
All the shutters in Bhoothatankettu barrage were kept open above the water level to regulate the water flow. The current water level is 27.4 m against the full reservoir level of 34.9 m. The discharge from Edamalayar is expected to reach Kalady-Aluva region along the Periyar river by 12 noon. The water from the opening of shutters in Idukki dam by around 11 a.m. is expected to reach the area within four to six hours. The water level in the river is expected to increase up to 1 m following the release of the shutters. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/water-level-at-kuttampuzha-along-the-periyar-river-increased-by-around-30-cm/article37065200.ece (19 Oct. 2021)
Still, with the rains so far, the reservoirs are now receiving 80 to 100 mcm per day, which is very unusual. Normally it stands below 50 mcm. “We have let out water very marginally, in comparison to 2018, so that we can absorb more if it rains intensely in catchment areas. Post 2018, a lot has changed in KSEB dam management, emergency action plans,” said B Asok, Chairman, KSEB. The dam was last opened during the massive floods of 2018 — the spill then was even upto 2000 cumecs, according B Asok. Shutters to several dams across the state — Idamalayar, Kakki and Sholayar — were opened since yesterday as Kerala struggled with excessive rainfall.
Since Monday (Oct. 18), many reservoirs reached the red alert mark after the unusual, intense rainfall — a departure of 135 per cent from normal rainfall from 1st October till now. The expected rainfall for October till now was around 192.7 mm, but Kerala received 453.5 mm instead. More intense rains — unusual in October — have been predicted for the next two days. Twelve districts — all except Kannur and Kasaragod — are on orange alert on Thursday also. Orange alerts, the second highest level, indicate very heavy rainfall. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/with-lessons-of-2018-floods-kerala-releases-water-marginally-from-dams-2580815 (19 Oct. 2021)
According to the rule curve to regulate the water flow, red alert will be sounded when the water level reaches at 2397.8 feet. Though it is allowed to wait till the water level reaches 2398.86 feet, the shutters need to be opened to maintain it safely. Idukki arch dam and Kulamavu dams do not have shutters. Only Cheruthoni dam has shutters to release water. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/idukki-dam-to-be-opened-after-3-yrs-a-quick-glance-at-what-happened-in-2018-idukki-dam-opening-cheruthoni-dam-1.6100246 (19 Oct. 2021)
As Kerala braces for another spell of rainfall, gates of several key dam and reservoirs have been opened up in a restricted manner to avoid overflowing. The weather department has issued an orange alert in Kerala indicating heavy rainfall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXWhZwQprOQ (19 Oct. 2021)
Three shutters of Cheruthoni dam of the Idukki reservoir, one of the largest in Asia, were opened at 11 am on Tuesday after the water level crossed the red alert level. Wide preparations were done prior to the dam opening which included shifting of 64 families on the downstream area. The water level reached 2,398. 4 ft at 8 am (red alert level at 2,397.86 ft).
Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty and Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine held a top level meeting and reviewed the situation of the downstream area prior to the dam opening.
Following a warning siren at 10.55 am the third shutter was opened first and the second shutter was opened after five minutes after reviewing the water situation downstream and the fourth shutter was also opened after five minutes. Prior to the opening of the Cheruthoni dam, the water from the Idamalayar dam on the downstream was opened at 6 am. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/shutters-of-cheruthoni-dam-open-after-2018/article37066431.ece (19 Oct. 2021)
Water minister Roshy Augustine said that water level in Idukki dam reached 2,396.86 feet at 7am on Monday (Oct. 18) and there is a possibility it would breach the upper limit of 2,398.86 feet by Tuesday (Oct. 19). “In view of the rising water levels of Idukki dam, it has been decided to open two of its shutters by 50 centimeters to let out 100 cubic metre per second of water flow,” said the minister. “The decision is based on past experience and was meant to allay people’s concerns,” Augustine added. The Idukki dam is designed to hold 2,403 feet of water.
Ernakulam district collector Jafar Malik said yesterday that two shutters of Idamalayar dam will be opened by 80 centimetres each on Tuesday (Oct. 19). “Due to this, no significant change in the water level of the Periyar river is expected,” he added. The official said that this move has been taken as a precautionary measure in anticipation of heavy rains and floods in the coming days.
The sluice gates of Kakki and Pamba dams in Pathanamthitta district have already been opened. As release of water from Idamalayar and Idukki dams would flow through Aluva, the commercial hub of Ernakulam, state industries minister P Rajeev held a meeting to deal with resulting consequences.
The announcement regarding opening of the dams comes in the wake of the general directions issued by CM Pinarayi Vijayan in a review meeting held to assess the situation with regard to the rainfall and water levels of various dams in the state. Kerala revenue minister K Rajan and state health minister Veena George said at a press conference that red alert has been issued for 10 dams in Kerala. They also said that pilgrimage to Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala has been put on hold, adding that after opening of the sluice gates of Kakki dam, water level in Pamba River will rise by at least 15cm, and it was not an ideal situation for the pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, the IMD has predicted more rain in Kerala from October 20 to 24. It has already issued yellow alert – a warning for possible severe weather – in 11 districts of the state. Kerala received 412mm rain in the first 17 days of October, a whopping 84% of the usual 492mm of rain between October to December, according to the regional office of the IMD in Thiruvananthapuram. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kerala-rain-gates-of-idukki-idamalayar-dams-to-be-opened-101634603910386.html (19 Oct. 2021)
As the water level at various dams including Sholayar, Pamba, Kakki and Idamalayar are rising, the state government has called a meeting which will be chaired by CM Pinarayi Vijayan to take stock of the situation.
Meanwhile, the state government has appointed ADGP Vijay Sakhare as the nodal officer to coordinate the rescue and relief operations. Thrissur District Collector Haritha V Kumar has asked the public residing along the banks of Chalakudi river to remain vigilant as water level may rise as Sholayar dam may open soon. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/181021/water-level-in-dams-rising-in-kerala.html (18 Oct. 2021)
The death toll following floods and landslides in Kerala climbed up to 27 on Monday (Oct. 18) as more bodies were recovered from under the debris at Koottickal in Kottayam district and Kokkayar in neighbouring Idukki district. Additionally, there have been deaths by drowning in Kozhikode, Thrissur and Palakkad districts.
Meanwhile, an orange alert was sounded at the Idukki dam at 7 am Monday after the water level in the reservoir touched 2396.86 ft. The full reservoir level is 2403 ft. Ernakulam collector Jafar Malik said in a Facebook post that the KSEB, which manages the dam and generates power from it, has conveyed that the water level in the dam is likely to touch the red alert level of 2397.86 ft by Monday (Oct. 18) evening and the upper rule level of 2398.86 ft by Tuesday (Oct. 19) morning.
Malik added that the state-level expert committee will study the water levels and give appropriate directions to the Ernakulam and Idukki administrations. If the dam gates are needed to be opened on Tuesday (Oct. 19) to release the excess water, its timing and the amount of water to be released will be conveyed in advance to people residing in areas close to the river. Control rooms have been set up at the taluk level to answer queries related to the opening of the dam shutters.
Gates of the Kakki dam in Pathanamthitta district were opened at 11 am after the water level touched 983.5 ft following heavy rains in the catchment area of the reservoir. The maximum level in the reservoir is 986.33 ft. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala/kerala-floods-landslides-death-toll-27-imd-more-rain-wednesday-7577694/ (18 Oct. 2021)
A red alert has been issued in respect of 10 dams in Kerala, two shutters of Kakki dam here were opened and pilgrimage to Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala has been put on hold for now, state Revenue Minister K Rajan informed today (Oct. 18). Rainfall across the state led to flash floods and landslides in several areas, with the Indian Army and Navy called out to rescue residents.
After a review meeting held at the Pathanamthitta district collectorate to assess the situation, Rajan and state Health Minister Veena George said at a press meet that it has been decided to open the Kakki dam to release around 100-200 cumex water which would increase the water level of Pampa river by around 15 centimetres. They said the decision was taken in view of the water level in the dam increasing beyond the danger levels and also taking into consideration the heavy rainfall expected from October 20 which might worsen the situation if some water is not released now.
In view of the expected worsening of the weather from October 20 till October 24, according to IMD information, they said it would not be possible to permit pilgrimage to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala for the Thula Masam poojas for which the shrine had been opened from October 16. The ministers said there is “no other option” but to stop the pilgrimage for now, as otherwise it would be difficult to safely rescue everyone if water levels in the nearby Pampa river were to rise further due to the heavy rains predicted from October 20. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/kerala-rains-red-alert-for-10-dams-sabarimala-pilgrimage-on-hold-11634546297172.html (18 Oct. 2021)
The NDRF and defence forces were pressed into rescue and relief operations. Meanwhile, PM Modi spoke to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan about the situation in the state. A bone-chilling video has surfaced where a man and his son can be seen clinging on to a bus to save their lives during floods in Kerala. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhmL8V_d710 (18 Oct. 2021)
Karnataka KRS water level crosses 120 feet With Kodagu region receiving good rainfall, the water level in Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) dam in Srirangapatna taluk in Mandya district crossed 120 feet on Wednesday (Oct. 20). It crossed the 120-ft mark for the second time in a span of three months. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/krs-water-level-crosses-120-feet-1042540.html (21 Oct. 2021)
Hyderabad Increasing microbursts According to data from a report titled ‘Weather and Climatology in Telangana’ from the Telangana State Development Planning Society (TSDPS), the high-intensity rainfall phenomenon is recent and has increased in the last two decades.
If we observe the occurrence of highest rainfall in a 24-hour period in Hyderabad in the last hundred years, four out of five highest rain events were reported in the last two decades. While Hyderabad and its surrounding districts, including Rangareddy, Medchal and Malkajgiri, received the record highest rainfall in a 24-hour period – 431.8 mm – from September 1908, this was followed by 241.5 mm in Begumpet on August 24, 2000, 226.8 mm in Saroornagar on July 21, 2012, 230.2 mm in Quthbullapur on September 21, 2016 and 300 mm in Hayathnagar on October 10, 2020.
Hyderabad city itself witnessed the top three spots of highest rainfall in 24 hours in the rains that wreaked havoc in October 2020. On one day – October 14, 2020 – 258.3 mm rainfall was recorded in Musheerabad, 252.4 mm in Saidabad and 248.3 mm in Bandlaguda.
Environmentalists who have been doing studies in the city over the years say that the rapid urbanisation and growing population alongside pollution are some of the main reasons for the changes in the weather. Hyderabad-based environmentalist BV Subba Rao points out that the city has witnessed rapid concretisation in the last two decades and the fastest growth was observed in the last 10-12 years. However, he adds that the development happened without any regulations or restrictions over which area should be developed, what kind of buildings should come up, and what material should be used. This, he adds, resulted in a lot of violations.
This rapid, unregulated growth has resulted in Hyderabad flooding after short, intense spells of rainfall. “On one side is unregulated concrete development, on the other side is the shrinkage of open spaces, parks and lakes. The lakes, which regulate the microclimate and keep the surroundings cool, have been lost over a period of time. More than 50% of lakes are now gone. So, the net result is that the city has become a radiation pocket, so more the radiation, more the water evaporates and the area becomes a vacuum. It sucks the clouds, especially rain-bearing clouds, so that’s why we’re experiencing these sudden outbursts,” Subba Rao explains. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/climate-change-here-and-increasing-microbursts-hyderabad-are-proof-156661 (19 Oct. 2021)
Sikkim, West-Bengal Heavy rainfall across Sikkim, north Bengal paralyse life The stretch of NH55 that caved in owing to torrential rain under Kurseong subdivision of Darjeeling district on Wednesday. NH55 is the principal highway that connects Siliguri and Darjeeling. Usually, average rainfall in a day here in the third week of October is 3.22mm. It rained around 230mm in the hills in 24 hours till 8.30am on Wednesday. However, despite the major damage, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway tracks are intact.
Extremely heavy rainfall across the Sikkim and Darjeeling hills and north Bengal foothills since Monday (Oct. 18) night has caused flooding and landslides that have damaged roads, houses and key bridges, paralysing life in the hills and plains. Mud, rock and water running down the mountains damaged close to 400 houses in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. At least three people, including two minor girls, were missing and tens of thousands were evacuated away from the swollen, fuming rivers. Hundreds of tourists got stranded.
The Balason river, which flows down the hills and cuts across the NH-31 at Matigara on Siliguri city’s northwest end, has damaged one of the pillars of the 50-year-old bridge that connects the city with Bagdogra airport. With the tilted pillar causing a part of the bridge’s plank to subside, police are allowing only two-wheelers and pedestrians to cross the bridge.
At Rangpokhola in Sikkim, a stream that flows along the Bengal border and cuts across NH-10 swept away two reinforcement pillars of its bridge on Tuesday (Oct. 19) night. “Both bridges are strategically important for the region and the country, and are regularly used by the defence forces,” a retired army officer said.
Principal rivers like the Teesta, Torsa and Jaldhaka have flooded their banks, with 70,000 people being shifted to safer places. Traffic has been affected across landslide-hit highways and roads, such as NH10 at 29th Mile and Swetijhora, creating a nightmare for thousands of local people and tourists travelling to Sikkim and Kalimpong from Siliguri or the other way round.
On (Oct. 20) Wednesday morning, a portion of NH55 — the main highway connecting Siliguri with Darjeeling along which the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway track runs — caved in at Cheuri Vhir near Mahanadi, halting traffic. The Khasimara primary school in Ghoramara island of South 24-Parganas caved into river Hooghly. The two-storey school had been one of the four primary education facilities on the island, with 55 students and three teachers. The state government had earlier decided to relocate the building. https://www.telegraphindia.com/west-bengal/heavy-rainfall-across-sikkim-north-bengal-paralyse-life/cid/1835308 (21 Oct. 2021)
Sikkim CM Prem Singh Tamang on Oct. 19 urged the people not to travel in view of the landslides as the state registered a record tourist footfall during the Durga puja vacation. “In the past couple of days, Sikkim has witnessed incessant rainfall, leading to landslides in several parts of the state, causing roadblocks at multiple spots. I am in constant touch with the line departments and closely monitoring the current situation,” Tamang said. “In order to avoid any untoward incident, I appeal to all our citizens to refrain from travelling in these circumstances, and pray for their safety,” he added.
As landslides hit the state over the last three days, cutting road connectivity to several places, the CM urged people to avoid travelling. Sikkim’s lifeline National Highway 10 is at present blocked with kilometre-long traffic waiting for the road to be cleared, officials said. The rains have caused severe damage to crops with paddy plantations destroyed in several parts of the state, officials said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/travel/sikkim-registers-record-tourist-footfall-cm-urges-people-not-to-travel-101634829749286.html (21 Oct. 2021)
Hundreds of tourists and their vehicles were stranded at Lava in Kalimpong district. In Kurseong and Sikkim several houses were badly damaged due to the incessant rains and landslides. The additional support pillars of Rangpo Bridge connecting Sikkim with West Bengal are severely damaged. “We are trying to restore the roads for at least smaller vehicles by Wednesday afternoon. For heavy vehicles to pass through, it would take time,” said Subodh Chettri, an executive engineer in Darjeeling. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/heavy-rain-in-darjeeling-kalimpong-hills-trigger-multiple-landslides-tourists-stranded-101634706738607.html (20 Oct. 2021)
North-North East Flood Situation Flood level above normal at 17 sites, severe at 8 sites and extreme at 1 location. In Uttarakhand local sites on Sarda rivers in Pithoragarh, Champawat districts are active after 2 days. Purnagiri site is still inactive. Previous HFLs is removed from sites there. Goula river which flooded severely has no flood monitoring site even in Haldwani, U S Nagar. Naukuchiatal the only site inside Nainital was removed in 2020. https://ffs.tamcnhp.com (21 Oct. 2021)
Uttarakhand CWC hydrograph first showed flood level in Sarda river at Pancheshwar site in Champawat higher than 472.5 m at 10:00 hours which came down to 432.7 m at 11:00 hours. There is no progress in hydrograph for past two hours. Though many rivers in state flowing in severe, extreme flood situation, CWC official twitter handle has not shared any update on the issue so far. The HFL at Pancheshwar is shown as 432.5 m dated 16.08.2011. The flood level has breached previous HFL.
West Bengal After 25 years that too in late October month River Teesta at Mekhliganj level forecast site in Koch Bihar district has crossed previous HFL 66.45 m dated 13.07.1996 by 0.17 m reaching new HFL 66.62 m at 11:00 hrs on 20.10.2021. The flood level was above old HFL for 8 hrs.
Uttar Pradesh River Sarda at Paliakalan level forecast site in Kheri district has breached previous HFL 155.33 m possibly attained on 21.07.2014 setting up new HFL 155.82 m at 18:00 hr on 20.10.2021 which is 0.5 m higher than old HFL.
Against HFL breach projection by CWC flood level in river Ganga at Kachhla bridge level forecast site in Badaun district remained parallel to previous HFL 162.79 m attained on 24.09.2010 for 6 hrs from 01:00 hrs to 07:00 hrs on 23.10.2021 and has declined now.
Ganga swells after unseasonalheavy rainfall in Uttarakhand Such heavy rainfall is unusual in the month of October and hence when the water level rises in Ganga, it is noticeable at Ganga Barrage from where a tab is kept on water levels.
But the increased water level is benefiting the Jal Kal department since the water supply to the city is provided from Ganga. Due to increased water level, the department now does not require the use of dredging machines to pull water from the Ganga. Two dredging machines were being used till a few days ago, but now their use has been discontinued. However, the situation may not remain the same in the coming days. Once the water level dips again, then the same procedure of drawing water from Ganga will have to be deployed. The Ganga water is now directly reaching the Bhairo Ghat pumping station.
Over two lakh cusecs of water had been released from the Narora dam into the Ganga. The water level, therefore, increased at Barrage and at Shuklaganj where increase or decrease in water table is recorded on an hourly basis. All 30 gates of Ganga barrage had been opened on Friday to allow increased water flow. However, the increased water level is presently posing no threat to the low-lying Katri region, which is a cluster of about a dozen small villages. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/ganga-swells-after-unseasonalheavy-rainfall-in-uttarakhand/articleshow/87244655.cms (25 Oct. 2021)
50 villages along Ganga in Bijnor at risk of rising water levels Around 50 villages in Bijnor and nearby districts along the banks of Ganga were reported to be at risk with the water level touching the 3 lakh cusec-mark following heavy rainfall in western Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Uttarakhand. An alert was sounded in these villages and locals shifted to safer areas on Wednesday (Oct. 20). Among the villages at risk were Daibalgarh, Gauspur, Kauharpur, Simali, Fatehpur Sabhachand, Ravali and Brahampuri where crops had been completely destroyed.
Meanwhile, seven west UP districts – Bijnor, Amroha, Moradabad, Rampur, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur and Farrukhabad – from where the Ramganga river passes have been put on high alert. “Around 10,000 cusecs of water was released into Ramganga by Kalagarh dam,” executive engineer at Ramganga dam, Narendra Kumar said on Wednesday. “It led to flooding of at least 10 interior villages in the Bhootpuri and Haravali areas,” he added. This is the first time in eight years that the water level has reached 363.7m in October. It had last touched the 362m mark in 2013, officials said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/rain-fury-50-villages-along-ganga-in-bijnor-nearby-areas-at-risk-of-rising-water-levels/articleshow/87168516.cms (21 Oct. 2021)
Karnataka River Shimsa which is part of Cuavery basin at Thoreshettahalli level monitoring site in Mandya district has breached previous HFL 623.9 m attained on 07.10.2019 and established New HFL 624.05 m at 11:00 hrs today (23.10.2021). The new HFL is 0.15 m higher than previous one. The flood level remained above old HFL fore 08 hrs.
India ranks 90 among 181 countries prone to natural disasters India ranks 89th among 181 countries on the World Risk Index and is ‘poorly prepared’ to deal with climate reality making it vulnerable to extreme natural calamities. India is fourth-most-at-risk in South Asia, after Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. India ranks 90 among 181 countries on the World Risk Index and has a score of 6.65 which is calculated based on exposure, vulnerability, susceptibility, lack of coping capacities and lack of adoptive capabilities to deal with climate reality making it vulnerable to extreme natural calamities. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/in-pics-india-ranks-90-among-181-countries-prone-to-natural-disasters-7602321.html (20 Oct. 2021)
Himachal Pradesh Landslides: Rail traffic to Shimla suspended The Northern Railway authorities on Friday (Sept. 23) suspended traffic on the world heritage Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge line for a day as a precautionary measure after multiple landslides triggered by heavy rains led to the derailment of rail car near Barog on Thursday (Sept. 22). Nine passengers had a narrow escape after the rail car ferrying them from Kalka to Shimla went off track on Thursday (Sept. 23).
More than 100 roads in Himachal are still blocked due to landslides after heavy rain. The Nahan to Kummarhatti national highway is blocked at Sadhna Ghat near Naina Tikkar, while the Sataun-Renukaji road is blocked near Tikaar in Sirmaur district. The Powari to Kaza section of National Highway 5 is blocked due to shooting stones in Kinnaur district.
The incessant rain has caused widespread damage to kharif crops, including paddy and maize, besides affecting the harvest of fruit crops such apple and pomegranate and sowing of potato in Una district. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/himachal-landslides-rail-traffic-to-shimla-suspended-today-101632460744683.html (24 Sept. 2021)
SANDRP Blog Himachal Pradesh: Cloud Bursts in Monsoon 2021 The media reports show that the state of Himachal Pradesh has seen at least 30 cloud burst incident in 2021 out of which 12 took place in pre-monsoon months of May and June and 18 during south west monsoon months. The phenomena has been witnessed across the geographical terrain from near glaciated areas to mountain valley in middle and lesser hills of Shiwalik range. The famous tourists as well as religious shrine of Mcleodganj, Manali, Manikaran faced significant destruction due to cloud burst induced flash floods.
At least four HEPs including Brahmaganga, Bane-Sangam, Tiroth, Chamera II have faced minor or major impacts but report detailing damages and official confirmation is not available in public domain. The disaster might have affected more hydro projects as most of the cloud bursts have happened around various built or under construction HEPs locations. Given proliferation of hydro projects in most of river valleys, cloud burst disaster has become significant threat to structural safety of these projects endangering lives of local people. https://sandrp.in/2021/10/21/himachal-pradesh-cloud-bursts-in-monsoon-2021/ (21 Oct. 2021)
Himachal Pradesh Lahaul-Spiti receives fresh snow Lahaul-Spiti Dhankhar village received fresh snowfall on Monday. The village was seen covered with a thick blanket of snow. Authorities on Sunday closed the highway for two days that connects to Leh in Ladakh owing to snowfall. They also advised motorists to avoid travelling on high mountain passes till October 18. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/in-pictures-himachal-pradeshs-lahaul-spiti-receives-fresh-snow-326182 (18 Oct. 2021)
“Due to fresh snowfall at Baralacha pass on Manali-Leh highway and at Kunzum pass on Gramphu-Kaza highway, traffic movement is blocked on both routes,” Verma said yesterday. Earlier on Sunday, the higher reaches of hills around Kedarnath Dham received snowfall following incessant rainfall. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/himachal-pradesh-dhankhar-village-of-lahaul-spiti-district-witnesses-snowfall-2579015 (18 Oct. 2021)
Rajasthan NTPC threatens to end pact with Tata Power over delays State-run NTPC has threatened to terminate the contract with Tata Power Solar for a 320 Mw project at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, alleging lack of significant progress on the site 8 months after the agreement was signed. NTPC is a major client of Tata Power Solar with a significant portfolio of EPC projects from the CPSE ongoing at sites in Gujarat, Kerala and elsewhere.
Apart from land acquisition, Tata Power Solar is said to have made no significant progress with respect to engineering works and ordering of equipment for the project as well. Since Tata Power has not initiated any of the activities eight months after the award of the contract, “in spite of regular follow-ups and several review meetings”, it has been requested by NREL to take necessary remedial measures and submit a firm recovery plan within 14 days of receiving the default notice, failing the EPC contract will be terminated, sources added. https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/ntpc-threatens-to-end-pact-with-tata-power-over-delays/2353690/ (21 Oct. 2021)
Interview ‘Strongest Defenders of Environment Are Those Affected by It’: LIFE Founder In a conversation with The Quint, Dutta says, “We must not forget that only ‘thinking’ is not going to change the world or improve the environment or protect the rights of communities — it is important to think and act.” https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/strongest-defenders-of-environment-are-those-affected-by-it-says-life-founder#read-more (18 Oct. 2021)
Cases of environment offences rose in 2020, but there’s a catch The Crime in India report released by the National Crime Records Bureau for 2020 indicates that the number of cases registered for environment-related offences has increased compared to the previous year. In 2020, 61,767 such cases were registered, compared to 34,676 in 2019 and 35,196 in 2018.
Environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta pointed out that the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act has very little to do with the environment: “It does not fall under the Ministry of Environment or the Pollution Control Boards, and it is not an environmental crime. To show more enforcement, cases have been included under environment-related cases.” “The dismal record shows when we look at the number of cases filed under the Air and Water Act. Under this Act, the Pollution Control Board will have to register a case before a magistrate. There are hardly any cases under this Act in most polluted cities,” Dutta said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/cases-of-environment-offences-rose-in-2020-but-theres-a-catch-7587321/ (24 Oct. 2021)
Top honour for Indian environmental historian The American Historical Association has announced the winners for 2021. Vice Chancellor and Professor of History and Environmental Studies, Krea University, Mahesh Rangarajan (former HoD, Ashoka University), has been made the ‘Honorary Foreign Member’ of the society for exhaustive work in his academic field. The previous honorary overseas members from India include eminent historians Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Prof Romila Thapar and Prof Ramachandra Guha. An author and co-author of several books and papers, Rangarajan talks to The Tribune on the honour, his work, history and its correlation with the past, present and future of environment, upcoming COP-26 and also the manmade disaster unfolding in ecologically-sensitive Kerala and Uttarakhand. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/top-honour-for-indian-environmental-historian-326589 (19 Oct. 2021)
MoEF U-Turn on Enlisting Private Entities to Amend Indian Forest Act The environment ministry has reversed its stance on inviting private entities to amend the Indian Forest Act 1927, The Morning Context has reported. The ministry had courted controversy when, on June 22, 2021, then environment minister Prakash Javadekar invited consultancy organisations to express interest in amending the Act.
In its current form, the Act vests power over India’s forests more with states than with the Centre. This is one reason why many Indian states have state-level forest laws of their own, to administer and manage their forests according to their needs and realities. Given the environment ministry’s decisions until June, to destroy forest tracts around the country to accommodate new airports, railway lines, highways, mining projects, etc., lawyer Ritwick Dutta interpreted the ministry’s idea as a way to wrest control of forests away from states, towards the Centre. https://thewire.in/environment/union-govt-makes-u-turn-on-enlisting-private-entities-to-amend-indian-forest-act (21 Oct. 2021) Environment minister scraps process initiated by predecessor for amending forest Act https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/environment-minister-scraps-process-initiated-by-predecessor-for-amending-forest-act (20 Oct. 2021)
Study Northeast accounted for 76% tree cover loss in India in 2001-20 India lost 1.93 million hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2020, equivalent to a 5% decrease in tree cover since 2000. Of this, about 1.45 million hectares was lost in the Northeastern states. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/environment/tree-cover-loss-heaviest-in-northeast-india-study-7618251.html (24 Oct. 2021)
Report How environmental damage can lead to new diseases Deforestation and intensive farming are linked to outbreaks of zoonotic pathogens. https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2021/10/19/how-environmental-damage-can-lead-to-new-diseases (19 Oct. 2021)
India- Bangladesh Farakka water treaty For Bangladesh and India, the imminent expiry on Dec 12, 2026 of the Gagna River Water Sharing agreement presents opportunities for exploring the appropriate mechanisms for governing flows in river basins. https://www.orfonline.org/research/flow-with-the-times-the-farakka-water-treaty/ (23 Oct. 2021)
Dave Petley on heavy rainfall and landslide induced disaster in Indo Nepal area at the end of SW Monsoon 2021.https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/10/20/south-asian-monsoon-1/ (20 Oct. 2021)
Sri Lanka’s inorganic transition to organic farming https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/sri-lanka-s-inorganic-transition-to-organic-farming-79532 (6 Oct 2021)
Do China’s HEPs on Tibetan Rivers, Benefit Tibetans? As China is struggling to maintain balance between electricity demand & supply, and many parts of its northern provinces are facing water shortage, it is likely to tap more waters from the rivers originating from Tibet to generate hydroelectricity & fulfil water-related demands. This means that more hydro-infrastructure would be built in the TAR whose impact on the local people needs an empirical study. https://thewire.in/world/china-tibet-dam-lianghekou-hydropower (21 Oct 2021)
Bank Watch Public money vs. pristine rivers This report is about the European Investment Bank financing damaging hydropower projects in 7 countries and the need to tighten its safeguards on biodiversity, indigenous people and financial intermediaries. The cases are from Bulgaria, N. Macedonia. Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, Georgia, Ukraine. https://bankwatch.org/publication/public-money-vs-pristine-rivers (21 Oct. 2021)
Green Washing Big Hydros Rishika Pardikar Despite being linked to several disasters, the Asian Development Bank has reaffirmed its commitment to large hydro developments. Rishika Pardikar speaks to people holding it to account. https://newint.org/features/2021/10/04/greenwashing-big-hydropower (04 Oct. 2021)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
USA Itaipu HEP faces energy crunch as river ebbs The giant Itaipu hydroelectric power plant, wedged between Paraguay and Brazil on the Parana River, is facing an energy crunch amid record low river and rainfall levels that experts say could last into next year. The Itaipu dam, which supplies around 10% of the energy consumed in Brazil and 86% of that used in landlocked Paraguay, has recorded its lowest output since the hydroelectric plant began operating at full capacity in 2005. Downstream, the Argentine-Paraguayan Yacyreta plant produced half the normal level of energy in September, an example of how severe droughts are complicating the shift away from fossil fuels by drying up rivers and reservoirs.
“We have available power, what we don’t have is water to sustain that power for a long time,” Itaipu’s Operations Superintendent Hugo Zarate told Reuters, adding that the plant was “meeting the demand but for short periods of time.” Zarate estimated that production at Itaipu would be between 65,000 and 67,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) this year. “That’s about 35% of the maximum value of 2016 and 15% less than in 2020,” he said in his office at the plant, located between the cities of Hernandarias in Paraguay and Foz do Iguacu in Brazil. The low production levels hit power output as well as impacting royalties the countries receive for the use of the water. https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/we-dont-have-water-south-american-dam-faces-energy-crunch-river-ebbs-2021-10-20/ (20 Oct. 2021)
Compiled by SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also see: DRP News Bulletin 18 Oct. 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 11 Oct. 2021
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