DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 1 Nov 2021: Why is Ganga not ENTHU about Ganga Utsav?

The Government of India, through the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti has announced the celebration of Ganga Utsav this year from Nov 1-3, 2021. The Ganga Utsav is supposed to mark the anniversary of announcement of River Ganga as the ‘National River’ i.e. 4th November, 2008. It is supposed to be celebrated not only in Ganga basin, but across the country as River Festival. There is little enthusiasm or even knowledge about this across the country or even in Ganga basin, though.

Ganga River itself continues to face the onslaughts all across the basin in the name of development, some noteworthy aspect of these include: pushing unviable hydropower project in the upstream; pushing disastrous projects like the Lakhwar Dam project and the Ken Betwa River Link project in the Ganga basin; construction of Char Dham and other highways without any assessment of impacts of the project on the river; construction of huge infrastructure along the river in the name of Ganga waterway, further impacting the river and its biodiversity, again without any impact assessment or participatory decision making; continuously increasing water extraction, diversion, use, pollution and dumping of solid wastes along the river; increasing and indiscriminate sand and boulder mining and quarrying from the river bed and floodplain, without any credible impact assessment; increasing encroachments into the river bed in the name of solid waste dumping, river front development, channelisation etc, in absence of any policy, rules or regulation about the space belonging to the river, to name a few. No wonder, the rivers in the Ganga basin has shown no enthusiasm for the Ganga Utsav!

The publication of the Atlas “Ganga of the past” by NMCG in collaboration with Prof Rajiv Sinha and his team of Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur) on the occasion is welcome on on Nov 1, 2021. A more detailed account of this will be shared soon. The announcement that NMCG plans to announce Environment Flow for tributaries like Yamuna is welcome, but if this is to happen on the lines of what is happening in Ganga since the Oct 2018 discredited notification, it does not inspire much hope, particularly when dams like the Lakhwar and Vyasi continue to be built, destroying the river. Same is the case with the announcement about toolkit for Urban wetlands or Urban Rivers. The “Smart City” program has no word about protecton, conservation or rejuvenation of rivers, on the contrary, all its actions are adversely affecting the Urban rivers and wetlands.

We surely need to celebrate the rivers, but the celebrations are likely to remain in government files as long as the government does not take confidence inspiring steps for improving the state of Ganga and more importantly, its tributaries.

GANGA, Centre Planning to Set Limits for Minimum Flow of Water for Tributaries NMCG Director General Rajiv Ranjan Mishra further said that the NMCG is working to enumerate the floodplains within 10 km of river Ganga by creating the inventories and developing integrated basin management plan to promote recharging groundwater and other waterbodies, which will ultimately contribute towards cleaning and maintaining continuous flow of Ganga river. The wetlands are considered to be an intrinsic part of the Ganga Basin and it is important to protect, conserve and rejuvenate them for the holistic development of Ganga river.

He said to manage the urban wetland, the NMCG collaborated with the School for Planning and Architecture (SPA) to develop a toolkit for local stakeholders — ‘Urban: Wetland Management Guidelines’. The toolkit has showcased the Bhagalpur Wetland case of lost waterbodies over the decades and how it relates to other rivers such as Champa river. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has circulated the toolkit for guiding urban managers of all the cities and rivers situated at the bank of rivers or lakes, he added. Mishra said the NMCG is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare for scaling-up organic farming and agroforestry in Ganga states to boost farmers’ income, improve water use and crop diversification. In phase I, the total land covered for organic farming across the basin states was 23,840 hectares, which has been increased to 1,03,780 hectares. In phase II, the organic farming interventions are expected to benefit more than 18 lakh farmers in the Ganga Basin states,” he added. https://www.news18.com/news/india/after-ganga-centre-planning-to-set-limits-for-minimum-flow-of-water-for-its-tributaries-4383119.html  (30 Oct. 2021)  https://www.amarujala.com/india-news/centre-planning-to-set-limits-for-minimum-flow-of-water-for-its-tributaries-after-ganga  (30 Oct. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Kashi corridor project delayed due to rise in Ganga water level The Kashi Vishwanath Dham (corridor) in Varanasi may get further delayed due to the rising water level in the Ganga River. The deadline for completion of the project was November end. Divisional Commissioner Deepak Agrawal said, “Over 80 per cent work of over Rs 700 crore has been completed. Most of the buildings proposed in the corridor area are nearing completion with the finishing and interior work going on in full swing. But, the rise in the water level of the Ganga has hampered the work.” The rise in Ganga level has not allowed the company executing the project to restart the work on the riverfront side, which will give access to Kashi Vishwanath temple directly from several ghats, including Manikarnika, Jalasen and Lalita ghats. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/10/31/kashi-corridor-project-delayed-due-to-rise-in-ganga-water-level/  (31 Oct. 2021)

Bihar 3 ghats declared dangerous, list of more today The district administration has put up boards of ‘dangerous ghat’ at the entrance of LCT Ghat, Bans Ghat and Pahalwan Ghat after a preliminary inspection by Patna DM Chandra Shekhar Singh with the officials of water resources department (WRD). The DM said around 20-22 ghats are declared dangerous every year due to rise in water level, swamp and soil erosion.“During the inspection, we found that three ghats are not suitable for the Chhath rituals due to marshy land and too much of slush. The list of dangerous ghats will be released on Monday (Nov. 1) after getting the report from the WRD executives. Another round of inspection will be done before declaring the final list of dangerous ghats by November 5,” he told this newspaper on Sunday (Oct. 31). Singh said the devotees will not be allowed to visit dangerous or unsafe ghats for Chhath Puja. Besides proper barricading along with signboards informing the devotees, security personnel will be deployed at such ghats to restrict the people. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/three-ganga-ghats-declared-dangerous-list-of-more-today/articleshow/87441128.cms  (01 Nov. 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog Muddy Kameng River waters & mass fish death in Oct 2021 In a development described as unprecedented, by 1030 hours on Friday, Oct 29, 2021, the waters of Kameng River in Arunachal Pradesh in North East India suddenly became dark with large amount of silt and debris and thousands of dead fish floating on the surface. A video on twitter by 1300 hours showed the dark Kameng waters. (The Feature image above is from twitter post by The Arunachal Pradesh on Oct 31, 2021) https://sandrp.in/2021/10/31/muddy-kameng-river-waters-mass-fish-death-in-oct-2021/  (31 Oct. 2021)

A large landslide or glacial lake outburst in the headwaters of the Kameng River in Northern India? https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/11/01/a-large-landslide-or-glacial-lake-outburst-in-the-headwaters-of-the-kameng-river-in-northern-india/  (07 Nov. 2021)

Meanwhile, the residents of Seppa village, where the incident took place, have blamed China, claiming the TDS level went dangerously high due to the construction activities being carried out by the neighbouring country across the border. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/arunachal-river-turns-black-thousands-of-fish-die-locals-blame-china-report-101635579642411.html  (30 Oct. 2021) The Siang river at Pasighat in East Siang district turned black in November 2017. https://theprint.in/india/thousands-of-fish-die-as-kameng-river-in-arunachal-pradesh-turns-black/759204/  (30 Oct. 2021)

Assam AASU demands govt to halt Lower Subansiri construction On Monday, Oct 25, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) staged a state wide demonstration against the construction work of 2000MW Lower Subansiri hydropower project located at Gerukamukh in Lakhimpur district along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. The students union demanded the state government to immediately halt the construction of this dam, which is believed to pose severe impact on the lives of those residing downstream, i.e., for the residents of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji. According to an AASU leader, construction for the same was ceased after tripartite talks were undertaken between the state government, AASU and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) in 2006. https://www.northeasttoday.in/2021/10/25/assam-halt-construction-of-lower-subansiri-hydropower-project-aasu-to-government/  (25 Oct. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh In protest against Jangi Thopan HEP, tribals to boycott LS bypoll Armed with the stamp of approval from its local deity “Patharo”, the residents of Rarang panchayat in Kinnaur have decided to boycott the Mandi Lok Sabha by-poll in protest against the setting up of 804 MW Jangi Thopan hydel project. They termed it as environmentally degrading. The villagers from Rarang, Khab, Thopan and Khadar have been up in arms against the coming up of the hydel-project. They have been demanding that it should be scrapped as it will be environmentally degrading for the Rarang panchayat. The project work is yet to begin. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/himachal-bypoll-against-hydel-project-kinnaur-panchayat-to-boycott-ls-bypoll-329721  (26 Oct. 2021)

Himdhara PR Representatives of environmental and community organisations of Himachal Pradesh have raised objections to the recent draft published by the MoEF proposing amendments to the Forest Conservation Act 1980. The submission signed by 24 organisations and individuals raises concerns about: http://www.himdhara.org/2021/10/30/moefcc-proposals-on-fca-1980-adverse-for-himachals-ecology-landless-people-benefit-for-companies-and-landed-elite/  (30 Oct. 2021)

Uttarakhand Demolition of ancient culture for Vishnugad Pipalkoti HEP Ten centuries ago, while travelling in the Himalayas, Indian philosopher Adi Shankaracharya established a village — Haat — on the banks of the Alaknanda. In the hamlet, he established a Laxmi-Narayan temple and settled a priest community, which came all the way from Bengal. This temple was the last stop for pilgrims en route Badrinath; those who could not manage the arduous trek offered their devotions here instead. Thus, the cultural significance of this historical and picturesque village, sequestered in the folds of the rising mountains, like all irreplaceable things, is priceless.

Nonetheless, 200 policemen, along with three bulldozers, tore down sixteen houses of the village last month to acquire land for the Vishnugad-Pipalkoti 444 MW hydro project (HEP), which is being developed by Tehri Hydro Development Cor (THDC). The villagers — who had been protesting against the project — were taken aback by the surprise move. Despite vociferous opposition, they were rendered shelterless in the wee hours of the day. They helplessly watched as their houses were reduced to rubble. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/how-demolition-of-an-entire-village-for-a-hydropower-project-scattered-a-community-and-razed-its-centuries-old-existence-to-the-ground/  (29 Oct. 2021) 

SJVN expresses keen interest in tapping Hydro Power Nand Lal Sharma Chairman and Managing Director, SJVN met Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami at Dehradun and expressed keen interest to invest in more Hydro Power Projects in Uttarakhand. Sharma informed CM that 60 MW Naitwar Mori Hydroelectric Project, which is under construction in Uttarkashi District is in advance stages and is likely to be completed by June 2022. He further informed that SJVN has requisite expertise in construction and operation of Hydro Projects in Himalayan terrain and requested to allot more projects in Tons and Yamuna Valley to SJVN. https://www.freepressjournal.in/corporate-gallery/nand-lal-sharma-cmd-sjvn-expresses-keen-interest-in-tapping-hydro-power-in-uttarakhand  (24 Oct. 2021)

DAMS

Kerala Central Water Commission (CWC) is at its favourite game: Push more dams in Kerala when Kerala does not even want them. – Some flood zoning corresponding to at least 5 years to 25-year return period floods may be considered by the Kerala government, CWC said. “Further, for the rivers in Kerala, the inundation mapping may be carried out for 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100-year return period floods, and based on the IMD rainfall forecast, people residing in flood plains should be alerted in order to save the loss of lives. Necessary regulations to avoid the flood plain encroachments are also essential,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-should-explore-the-possibility-of-creating-a-storage-dam-on-achenkovil-river-director-hydrology-south-cwc/article37185211.ece  (27 Oct. 2021)

Maharashtra 291 ha of forest land to be diverted for Kondhane dam The City Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), which is executing controversial Kondhane Dam project on Ulhas River, applied for stage-1 forest clearance on October 16, official documents show. The project’s total land requirement (including non-forested area), is 400 hectares. It is proposed to provide 245 MLD of water a day to emerging localities in the southern end of Navi Mumbai. Construction work is estimated to take five years, though it is yet unclear when construction will resume.

The state water resources department had tried to push the project twice earlier with a much higher cost of ₹443.94 crore and a height of about 71 metres, but could not pass the scrutiny of government agencies. Within months of the KIDC taking up the project, its scope was widened and the cost escalated. Construction began in 2011, and by 2012 the project cost climbed to ₹614 crore from ₹56.16 crore, as per an investigation by the anti-corruption bureau (ACB). The previous contractor had completed about a quarter of the work, as per previous design specifications. The cost of the revived project, Cidco submitted to the forest department, now stands at ₹155,000 lacs (₹1,550 crore). https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/291-hectares-of-forest-land-to-be-diverted-for-kondhane-dam-101634995909797.html  (23 Oct. 2021)

No committee meet on Jayakwadi dam The Canal Advisory Committee for the Jayakwadi major irrigation project has failed to hold the meeting despite the stipulated deadline of October 15 being over. Headed by Maharashtra water resources minister Jayant Patil as its ex-officio chairman, the panel is empowered to decide on the allocation of water for drinking, agriculture and industrial purposes among other needs. Besides Jayakwadi dam, the committee is also for Lower Dudhna major irrigation project in Parbhani district.

The alleged official apathy behind the delay in conveying the meeting of the Canal Advisory Committee has drawn flak from water rights activists, who have sought meticulous planning for the release of water in phases from the nearly filled Jayakwadi dam. “As the per norm, the meeting should ideally take place by mid-October and declare water release schedule in advance. Such an announcement helps the farming community in planning their cropping pattern for rabi season and hot-weather season of crops,” said water rights activist Abhijit Dhanorkar. Highlighting large-scale damage of kharif crops during the outgoing monsoon, farmers’ activist Jayaji Surywanshi said tillers should get all possible support from the water resources department for effectively undertaking rabi season. “The Maharashtra water resources minister and the government authorities should explain reasons behind the delay in holding the meeting of the Canal Advisory Committee,” he said.

When contacted, top officials at Godavari Marathwada Irrigation Development Corporation (GMIDC) said the extended monsoon resulted in the delay in holding the meeting in question. “The Canal Advisory Committee for Jayakwadi major irrigation project is likely to convey its meeting on November 8 to decide different water allocations. In absence of Maharashtra water resources minister Jayant Patil, Aurangabad guardian minister is scheduled to chair the meeting,” a senior GMIDC official said, preferring anonymity. Patil could not be reached for his comments. Both Jayakwadi and Lower Dudhna major irrigation projects were almost filled to the designed capacity, show official data.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/no-committee-meet-on-jayakwadi-dam/articleshow/87437855.cms  (01 Nov. 2021)

Hirakud Dam Spillway in limbo Two years ago, the TATA Projects and the Turkey based AGE Group were entrusted for construction of the additional spillway project pegged at around Rs 370 crore. However, in February 2020, TATA and its partner AGE group backed out from the project after frequent issues over land acquisition, encroachment eviction, protests against displacement.  The project has been in limbo since then. All the machineries and other equipment engaged in the project construction is still biting dust at the site.

The Chief Engineer of the dam Anand Chandra Sahu has said that very soon a fresh global tender will be floated for the spillway project. We have submitted a proposal to the State government and after approval in a week’s time, we will float the tender for the spillway project, said Sahu. But it remains to be seen that while the estimated time frame for the project completion still remains 30 months, the cost of the project has risen by over 68 per cent to over 624 crore. https://odishatv.in/news/miscellaneous/world-s-longest-dam-hirakud-longs-for-a-spillway-but-when-will-its-limbo-end-162661  (28 Oct. 2021)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Godavari-Cauvery Link Telangana wants lion’s share of Godavari water  State irrigation officials, on Friday (Oct. 29), asked the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) to provide 50 per cent of the 247 tmcft Godavari water, proposed to be diverted to Cauvery, to Telangana. It also urged the NWDA to give the Godavari-Cauvery link project the ‘go-ahead’ only after approving this. The Telangana officials, during a meeting with the NWDA officials on the river-linking project held at the Jala Soudha, demanded that the hydrology at Inchampalli be approved by the Central Water Commission (CWC) before proceeding on the detailed project report (DPR). Though the NWDA proposed to use Tupakulagudem as head work for the link, TS officials did not comment on the matter. This is the first meeting convened by NWDA after it finalised the DPR in 2020. Officials from nine States and one UT attended the meeting.

Godavari river in Rajamahendravaram (Photo | Express)

– Godavari Cauvery Link: The plan is to divert 247 tmcft of Godavari water into Cauvery river via Krishna and Penna rivers. Estimated cost – Rs 85,96,236 cr. It includes: Godavari (Inchampalli) – Krishna (Nagarjuna Sagar) link- 299 km; Krishna (Nagarjuna Sagar) – Pennar (Somasila) link – 394 km; Pennar (Somasila) – Cauvery (Grand Anicut) link – 518 km

– ANDHRA PRADESH said at the meeting: There’s no water in the Godavari river. We have requirements at 75% dependability. We will not allow to divert Godavari water at 50% dependability.

– CHHATTISGARH: We are opposing the project outrightly. The State is planning to utilise its allocated quantity in Indravati sub-basin. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/oct/30/telangana-wants-lionsshare-of-godavari-water-2377536.html  (30 Oct. 2021)

Telangana officials wanted the CWC to conduct a detailed study on the availability of water in the Godavari after meeting drinking water and irrigation needs before going ahead with the Godavari-Cauvery linking project. TS officials reiterated the demand that the Centre should first divert the Mahanadi waters to the Godavari and the surplus waters available in the Mahanadi should only be diverted to the Cauvery basin. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/301021/ts-questions-feasibility-of-godavari-cauvery-link-project.html  (30 Oct. 2021)

Ken-Betwa Linking Mihir Shah refuses to take stand on the disastrous Ken Betwa River Link Project. https://theprint.in/india/shift-focus-from-dams-what-india-needs-is-better-water-management-top-water-conservationist/755004/  (25 Oct. 2021)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Godavari-Krishna Water Disputes Telangana govt slams GRMB over scrutiny of 6 DPRs The Telangana government has now strongly objected to the manner of scrutiny of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) of six schemes on Godavari by the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB). The state has asked the GRMB to send the DPRs to the Central Water Commission (CWC) instead, alleging that the board was exercising more powers than mandated under AP Reorganisation Act (APRA), 2014.

In a fresh letter to GRMB chairman, Telangana irrigation engineer-in-chief (ENC) C Muralidhar said, “The government has submitted DPRs of six projects to GRMB. But the board is going into other aspects of DPRs and commenting instead of looking into the basic matter of a project not negatively impacting availability of water. All the projects are old and for which DPRs submitted to CWC and GRMB were either completed or taken up before the appointed day.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/t-slams-grmb-overscrutiny-of-6-dprs/articleshow/87345870.cms  (29 Oct. 2021)

NGT orders govt to stop work on PRLIS NGT has directed Telangana to stop works on Palamuru-Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme (PRLIS) on the river Krishna. The NGT southern bench comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and Dr K Satya Gopal issued the stay order, responding to a petition filed by a group of farmers including D Chandramouleswara Reddy of Kadapa, AV Subba Reddy of Kurnool and Jani Basha from Guntur.

Andhra Pradesh government has impleaded in the case and alleged that Telangana government is going ahead with the works without any clearances from the Centre. They said the case was posted to November 24 for hearing on objections raised on the report of joint committee. “Arguments on merits of the case will be taken up. The NGT rejected the plea of Telangana that the case is not maintainable and gave interim injection orders staying the works till environmental clearance is obtained,” the Telangana irrigation officials said.  The Palamuru Rangareddy lift irrigation scheme was designed to take nearly 90 tmc ft of water from the Krishna. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/ngt-orders-telangana-to-stop-work-on-prlis/articleshow/87382475.cms  (30 Oct. 2021)

In the petition, the AP government alleged that the TS government ‘dubiously and artificially’ divided the PRLIS into two phases – irrigation (83.9 TMC) and drinking water with evaporation losses (6.1 TMC) – to evade legal scrutiny. The NGT’s joint committee inspected projects works in September and submitted a report to NGT in October first week stating that Telangana took up irrigation works in Palamuru-Rangareddy project, instead of permitted drinking water component works. The NGT said that it is a violation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2016. The joint committee suggested imposition of an environmental compensation of Rs  3,70,87,500 on Telangana. Following this, the NGT Chennai bench ordered a stay on Palarmaru-Rangareddy project works. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/291021/ngt-stays-palamuru-rangareddy-lift-irrigation-project-works.html  (29 Oct. 2021)

IRRIGATION

Jharkhand Govt to spend ₹144 cr to augment irrigation facilities The government will spend about ₹144 crore for augmenting irrigation facilities like enhancing the availability of water harvesting and restoration work of waterbodies, an official said. When completed, the initiative will result in an increase of irrigated areas to 13,365 hectares from the present 2,207 hectares in the state.

“Work is being done to increase the availability of water harvesting and irrigation in the state… The Irrigation Department has approved the restoration work of 192 ponds, dams, and other waterbodies at an estimated cost of Rs 143.68 crore,” the official said. The government has kickstarted Nilambar-Pitamber Jal Samridhi Yojana to accelerate water harvesting and conservation, the official said. Renovation works have been started to harness 100% capacity of all the ponds, dams, and waterbodies related to irrigation schemes. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jharkhand-to-spend-144-crore-to-augment-irrigation-facilities/article37196882.ece  (27 Oct. 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Mula-Mutha; Pune Citizens furiously oppose riverfront plan  Citizens’ groups have also pointed out predictions of change in the rain pattern and have warned about the ill effects it will cause. Sarang Yadwadkar, who has been working on the Mula and Mutha rivers for years, also said the project aims at the destruction of the city. “A total of five rivers flow through Pune. This project is like narrowing down rivers. This is going to have an effect on increasing flooding incidents rather than reducing it. There are many lacunae in the project which we are going to bring to the public soon. Our team of experts are working on it.”

Shailaja Deshpande of Jeevitnadi is also against the project and said that they want revival and restoration of rivers. “Our approach is to do things that the river needs and not humans. If the river sustains, only then will humans. Even development at the riverfront will impact the streams merging with the rivers. For example, an Ambil Odha-like stream will merge. However, it will impact the centre of the stream causing flooding which we have already witnessed in 2019. This will put the lives of people living in the line of such streams at risk.

They claim that PMC’s Mula-Mutha river rejuvenation project is eyeing land on the flood plains and riverbeds for real estate benefits. “The project is based on the lines of Sabarmati riverfront development in Ahmedabad,” said standing committee chairman Hemant Rasane. The civic body proposed the move a few years ago and, now, they have given the approval to execute it. In the first phase, a stretch between the Sangam Bridge and Yerawada will be developed.

Under this project, the civic body will develop a riverfront of a total length of 41 km (21 km on either side) at an estimated cost of Rs 4,727 crore. Four barrages will be built on three rivers to store water for the riverfront. The treated water will be made available from the existing STP and proposed STPs which are part of the pollution abatement of the Mula-Mutha river in Pune. Vandana Chavan, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP, said she has a lot of concerns about the project. “There is no clearance from irrigation as well as the Central Water and Power Research Station. There is no transparency, as well. I think this venture needs to be scrutinised.” https://punemirror.com/pune/civic/%E2%80%98disastrous-destructive%E2%80%99/cid5548133.htm  (18 Oct. 2021)

WRD puts onus on PMC for any loss in event of flood On Thursday (Oct. 28), the water resources department communicated to the PMC that it has been informed that debris was being dumped alongside the Mutha riverbed and creating obstacles to the flow of water. “We are once again conveying that the PMC should ensure that there should be no obstacle in flow of river water, water carrying capacity of river should not get reduced and there should not be any changes made to the river. If there is an obstacle to the flow of river water, then the water resource department would take action against the work,” it said.

Environmentalists led by Sarang Yadwadkar have raised doubts over the river beautification project. “The city is already a flood-prone area, so what is the need for a river beautification project? Is the civic administration working under some pressure to implement the project?,” he asked, adding that no elected corporator took detailed information on the project before giving approval to it. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-river-beautification-water-resources-dept-pmc-flood-7597369/   (29 Oct. 2021)

NGT panel to fix fine on realtor, civic body The NGT has set up a committee of central and Maharashtra pollution control boards (MPCB) to assess the environmental compensation to be imposed on realty firm Gokhale Landmarks LLP and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for “negligence and inaction” contributing to environmental damage caused by untreated water flowing from a broken sewage line at a construction site in Kothrud into a nullah and further into the Mutha river. The firm is building a huge commercial complex near City Pride, Kothrud.

On February 10, 2021, an NGT-assigned joint inspection committee of the PMC and MPCB experts submitted a report stating that due to damage of trunk line and chamber (first on June 27, 2019, and later again on April 27, 2020), raw sewage had flown into Mutha river first for 86 days and later again for 115 days.

Architect Sarang Yadvadkar, one of the five applicants who moved the NGT in the matter, told TOI, “In terms of quantity, close to 20.24 millions of litre per day (MLD) or 2,024 tankers of untreated raw sewage is estimated to have flown per day into the nullah/river.” Lawyer Manasi Joshi, who represented the MPCB, said on Friday (Oct. 29), “The environmental compensation will be worked out on a per day violation basis for the 86 days and 115 days, in accordance with a formula laid down by the principal bench of the NGT in an earlier judgment.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/ngt-panel-to-fix-fine-on-realtor-civic-body/articleshow/87376832.cms  (30 Oct. 2021)

Diversion of Mumbai’s major rivers is one of the main reasons for frequent flooding. https://scroll.in/video/1008702/eco-india-diversion-of-mumbai-s-major-rivers-is-one-of-the-main-reasons-for-frequent-flooding  (31 Oct. 2021) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0VssiaVyB4&feature=emb_title

Sabarmati; Ahmedabad Foundation stone of Rs 214-cr barrage laid CM Bhupendra Patel on Oct 29, 2021 laid the foundation stone of the barrage to be built at a cost of Rs 214 crore on Sabarmati river with a storage capacity of 3.47 million cubic metre at Hirpur in Vijapur taluka of Mehsana district.

With this scheme, 3,200 ha area, including 2 villages of Vijapur taluka & 4 villages of Himmatnagar taluka, are to get irrigation.

– AMAZING STATEMENT OF GUJ CM: The chief minister said, “We are seeing the vision of PM Modi in every decision. When he started a separate department of climate change in Gujarat years ago as part of environmental protection planning, no one could have imagined that this step of his would pave the way for the world to face the global problem of climate change.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-cm-bhupendra-patel-lays-foundation-stone-of-rs-214-crore-barrage-on-sabarmati-river/articleshow/87369368.cms  (29 Oct. 2021)

Seaplane service fails to take off India’s first seaplane service connecting the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad with the Statue of Unity at Kevadia, is still to resume operations. According to state government sources, the service was expected to resume in September however, there are no signs of the flights to begin any time soon. With this, seaplane operations have remained suspended for some 221 days since its inception on October 31, last year.  The aircraft which operated the sea plane flight along the route has been sent to Maldives for maintenance earlier this year. It is unclear whether the service will resume on its maiden anniversary this year, say sources.

At a time when the resumption existing service is in doldrums, the upcoming water drome project at Shatrunjay Dam near Palitana in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat has also faced a bottleneck. “A land parcel had been identified for the Shatrunjay Dam project right near the dam site. However, the feasibility study which was conducted for setting up the water drome revealed that the site is a little below the ‘High Flood Level’ of the dam,” said Captain Ajay Chauhan, director – Civil Aviation, Government of Gujarat.

Due to this, the water drome cannot be built at the site. State authorities have already earmarked another land parcel near the previous site and a feasibility study will soon begin.  “We have identified and earmarked another land parcel located some 500m from the previously proposed water drome site for Shatrunjay Dam. A proposal regarding this will soon be sent to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation. Once approved, a feasibility study will soon be conducted,” Chauhan added. Shatrunjay Dam at Palitana in Bhavnagar district and Dharoi Dam in Mehsana district were two sites identified for the proposed seaplane project. SpiceJet is set to operate the seaplane service connecting this water drome. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/seaplane-remains-grounded/articleshow/86466573.cms  (24 Sept. 2021)

On its maiden anniversary on October 31, India’s first seaplane service which has been suspended for over six months, is unlikely to resume operations. Top state government officials said they have not yet heard from the airline SpiceJet, whose 100% subsidiary, SpiceShuttle, operates the seaplane service connecting Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad and the Statue of Unity in Kevadia. “The service was expected to resume in September this year. However, we have not yet heard from the airline regarding resumption of service as yet,” said a state government source privy to the development.

“SpiceJet is in talks with a manufacturer to buy an aircraft. These processes take time and therefore, we are not sure whether and when the new aircraft will be procured and operationalised for the service,” said a source. An email query sent to SpiceJet went unanswered. The service has remained suspended for 244 days since its inauguration on October 31, 2020. The seaplane aircraft was brought for operations to India on lease by SpiceJet.

Sources confirmed that the aircraft is currently in Maldives and is yet to be brought back. Seaplane flights connecting Ahmedabad and Kevadia were suspended earlier this year just ahead of the second wave of Covid-19 infections. This is the second major suspension of the seaplane service. The first one was within a month of its operations in November-end 2020, when the aircraft was sent for a thorough maintenance to Maldives, for lack of a wet and dry dock which is required for the aircraft’s maintenance here. Two round-trip flights from Ahmedabad to Kevadia were operating when the service had resumed. The seaplane aircraft has thus far taken some 284 flights and ferried some 2,458 passengers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/seaplane-may-not-fly-on-1st-anniversary/articleshow/87029237.cms  (15 Oct. 2021)

Hindon; Ghaziabad Notice for waste near Hindon river The GMC has issued a notice to the Khoda Nagar Palika Parishad for dumping garbage alongside the Hindon river. Officials said a fine of Rs 5 lakh will be imposed on the violator for causing damage to the environment. Health officer Mithilesh Kumar told TOI that the corporation had been receiving complaints from residents. “On October 15, an inspection was conducted and an earthmover was found dumping garbage near the river. Now, a notice has been issued and a report sought from the Parishad,” he added. Also, garbage was reportedly being dumped by the Khoda Municipal Council around Nandi Park established by the GMC. Officials said such acts pollute both soil and water. At present, no type of garbage is being dumped at this site, they added.

After objections were raised in designated sites in Rajnagar Extension and Galand, waste could be seen littered all over Ghaziabad for the past two weeks. Sources said there is a possibility that the private body that has been given the contract to lift garbage could be dumping it anywhere. Kumar said the responsibility would be fixed once they receive the reply from the Parishad. Khoda Nagar Palika Parishad executive officer Krishan Kant Mishra said he is yet to receive a notice from the corporation in this regard. Meanwhile, the corporation has started the process to erect a boundary wall on a 44 acre land in Galand meant for garbage dumping and starting a waste-to-energy plant. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/notice-for-waste-near-hindon-river/articleshow/87145744.cms  (20 Oct. 2021)

While monsoon spell has replenished several rivers across country, Hindon river’s sorrow and villagers plight remained unchanged as in place of flood, pollution load from upstream areas continued. This fresh toxic surge reached only last day. (Video: Hukum Singh, Momnathal, 25.10.2021)

Musi; Hyderabad River bridge design competition results on Nov. 2 An architectural competition for the design of bridges on the Musi river in the city that was announced by the Hyderabad Road Development Corporation Limited will close on Monday (Oct. 25). The results are scheduled to be announced on November 2, according to the corporation. HRDCL had in September announced that it plans to construct 14 bridges across the Musi and announced a competition for face development, gateways for the bridges. The proposed bridges include what HRDCL called an ‘iconic’ pedestrian bridge across the river at Afzalgunj.

The bridges are expected to, in addition to improving mobility and traffic distribution across various roads on both sides of the river, reduce traffic distances, help in development of commercial establishments, and property values, reduce carbon emissions from vehicles due to reduced commutes, and encourage tourism. — DC Image

Each of the bridges, according to the corporation, would represent the diversity of Telangana state and heritage of Hyderabad and be a reflection of the legacy of the Musi river. The bridges are expected to, in addition to improving mobility and traffic distribution across various roads on both sides of the river, reduce traffic distances, help in development of commercial establishments, and property values, reduce carbon emissions from vehicles due to reduced commutes, and encourage tourism. When completed, the 14 bridges will add to the existing 23 across the Musi. The Musi, a tributary of River Krishna, flows through a major portion of the city over 54 km and is fed with water from the Himayatsagar and the Osmansagar  reservoirs built on the Esa and Musa rivers which combine to form Musi. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/241021/hyd-musi-river-bridge-design-competition-results-on-nov-2.html  (25 Oct. 2021)

RIVERS

NAPM Sixth webinar on Grounded Voices Conversation “Let Our Rivers Flow: Struggles to Sustain Rivers & Life across India- Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Adhra Pradesh organized on Oct. 31. In this last webinar of the series Parineeta Dandekar, of SANDRP interacted with Pradeep Purandare, Retired Associate Professor, WALMI, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, R. Umamaheshwari, Author, When Godavari Comes: People’s History of a River. Abhijit Prabhudesai, Rainbow Warriors, Goa, Lubna Sarwath, Social & Environmental Activist, Hyderabad, Raghavachary, Palamuru Adhyayana Vedika, Telangana.

CAUVERY Report A lifeline trickling away by Akram Mohammed, ETB Sivapriyan A lifeline for over three crore farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that irrigates about at least 40 lakh acres of land, the Cauvery is now classified as a ‘deficit river’. https://www.deccanherald.com/specials/insight/cauvery-a-lifeline-trickling-away-1045878.html  (31 Oct. 2021)

Tamil Nadu More barrages, check dams planned across the Palar  The Palar may soon have two barrages and more check dams built in Kancheepuram and Chengalpattu districts. There are plans to divert surplus water to city lakes to cater to the city’s drinking water needs. The projects are awaiting the State government’s nod. This year, nearly 3.5 tmcft was stored both as surface water and groundwater recharge in three recently constructed check dams alone across the Palar at Pazhayaseevaram, Esur Vallipuram and Vayalur. However, the river continued to have good flow as the regions upstream, including Kaveripakkam, received good rain during the southwest monsoon. About one tmcft of floodwater had drained into the sea, said officials of the Water Resources Department.

The department has submitted a proposal to build a ₹380-crore barrage across the river near Udayambakkam-Padalam for the benefit of residents and also convert the Vayalur check dam into a barrage. Once these two barrages with shutter arrangements are built, each of them would have a potential to store nearly 2.5 tmc both as surface and groundwater. Officials said there was a proposal to increase the height of the Vayalur check dam up to five metre and convert it into a barrage. There is more scope for constructing such storage structures and recharging water table, and it could be pumped for drinking water and irrigation needs. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/more-barrages-check-dams-planned-across-the-palar/article37276774.ece  (01 Nov. 2021)

Alien plants and water stress in Nilgiris  The unseen impact of exotic invasive plants on the ecology and water security of the Upper Bhavani region of the Nilgiris by Girish Varma and Rasikapriyaa Sriramamurthy

In the south western part of the Nilgiris district is the Upper Bhavani region, which forms the catchment area of the Bhavani River, and is mostly a shola-grassland ecosystem. The grasslands and the adjoining sholas here act like sponges for incoming rainfall, retaining a lot of the water as groundwater and slowly releasing it through streams and ultimately into the river. The Bhavani is a major sub-basin of the Cauvery River. However, all is not well with the balance between the shola grasslands and the water of this region. https://sustain.round.glass/conservation/invasive-plants-nilgiris/ 

Chhattisgarh Villagers oppose opening up of Hasdeo Arand forest for coal mining The grant of stage II or final forest clearance to Parsa opencast coal mine in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Arand region has led to widespread protests by the affected villagers. Ten villagers along with farmer and environmental groups are in Delhi to register their opposition to opening up of 841.538 ha forest land which supports their livelihoods and to the opening up of Hasdeo Arand forests.

The groups met Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, and plans to approach the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) against its decision to grant a final clearance to Parsa. The FAC in a letter dated October 21 granted the final approval for coal mining in 841.538 ha of forest land under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. HT had reported on February 10, 2019 that the FAC had granted stage 1 or the preliminary forest clearance to the mine despite finding that a part of the forest included “very dense” forest cover. The mine falls in one of the largest contiguous stretches of very dense forest in central India called Hasdeo Arand that spans 170,000 ha (hectares). https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/villagers-oppose-opening-up-of-hasdeo-arand-forest-for-coal-mining-in-chhattisgarh-101635572458456.html  (30 Oct. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Kullu: Samples of damaged Bhootnath bridge sent for testing  A team of experts has taken samples of Bhootnath bridge and sent the data to Dubai for examination. Five tests were conducted on the damaged portion. The bridge has been lying closed for traffic for almost three years. A 30-tonne tipper was parked on different parts of the bridge to examine its infrastructure in addition to the static load capacity. The data collected has been sent to experts in Dubai, who will determine further course of action after scanning the data. The sample report will be received within 15 days and the repair work of the bridge will be done based on the report. The expert team of Freyssinet Menard Company and Public Works department (PWD) were involved in taking of the samples.

The bridge has been lying closed for traffic for almost three years. Importantly, the repair work of the damaged bridge is being carried out by spending Rs 2.68 crore, while it was built with a budget of Rs 10 crore. The foundation stone of this 96-metre bridge built on the Beas was laid in 2005. It was completed in 2013 and it developed cracks in 2018. It connects the left bank bypass to the right bank road near the Kullu bus stand in the Sarwari area of Kullu town. The repair work of the damaged portion of the bridge had commenced in January 2020. However, it has been hampered after the outbreak of Covid. The PWD has been postponing the completion of repairs and restoration of the bridge for traffic.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/samples-of-damaged-bridge-sent-for-testing-331700  (30 Oct. 2021)

Uttarakhand Atul Sati on recent landslide in Joshmath along Alaknanda. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4536107269800453&id=100002036746060

 सीधे सरयू नदी में डाला जा रहा है पुल निर्माण का मलबा  राष्ट्रीय राजमार्ग प्राधिकरण एनएचआई की ओर से घाट-पनार मोटर मार्ग पर किए जा रहे पुल निर्माण के दौरान निकल रहा मलबा पनार नदी में धड़ल्ले से धकेला जा रहा है। इससे एक ओर सरयू नदी में लगातार मलबा भरता जा रहा है, दूसरी तरफ वन संपदा और नदी में रहने वाले जीव जंतुओं को भारी नुकसान पहुंच रहा है। पर्यावरण प्रेमियों ने नदी में मलबा डालने पर रोक लगाकर मलबा डालने वालों के खिलाफ कार्रवाई करने की मांग की है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttarakhand/champawat/the-construction-of-the-bridge-is-being-dumped-directly-into-the-saryu-river-champawat-news-hld4235102117   (06 May 2021)

बारहमासी सड़क के निर्माण में एनजीटी के नियमों को ताख पर रखा जा रहा है। सड़क निर्माण के दौरान निकले मलबे से सरयू नदी पाट दी गई है। मलबा डंपिंग जोन में न डालकर धड़ल्ले से नदी में डाला जा रहा है। एनएच ने यह स्वीकार करते हुए ठेकेदार को नोटिस भी जारी किया है। जिला प्रशासन इस मामले की जांच कराने की तैयारी कर रहा है। जिला मुख्यालय से घाट तक 29 किमी के हिस्से में बारहमासी (ऑल वेदर) सड़क का निर्माण किया जा रहा है। हाल यह है कि घाट से करीब ढाई किमी पहले मीना बाजार से मलबा सीधे नदी में गिरा दिया जा रहा है। घाट में कई स्थानों से नदी में मलबा डाला जा रहा है। सरयू नदी का पिथौरागढ़ जिले वाला हिस्सा कई स्थानों में मलबे से पट गया है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttarakhand/pithoragarh/sariu-river-is-divided-into-wreckage  (10 Jan. 2019)

YAMUNA Delhi Biodiversity park to come up on Yamuna banks The Centre on Friday (Oct. 29) informed the Supreme Court that as part of celebrations of 75 years of India’s independence, 118 hectare of land abutting the Yamuna’s eastern and western banks would be converted into biodiversity parks to create additional recreational avenues for Delhiites.

The central government’s counsel Kanu Agrawal informed a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar that the government in its affidavit has explained the fallacy in petitioner Rajeev Suri’s contention that the vice-president’s new residential complex near Rashtrapati Bhavan, under the Central Vista Project, would eat up the land earlier earmarked for public recreational purposes.

“In addition to the same, nearly 118 hectare of land on the eastern and western banks of river Yamuna near Akshardham temple on the eastern bank and near IP thermal power station on the western bank is being developed as Amrut biodiversity park to commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence fulfilling the recreational purpose aspirations of public at large,” it added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/biodiversity-park-to-come-up-on-yamuna-banks-in-delhi/articleshow/87380899.cms  (30 Oct. 2021)

The hearing was based on a petition filed by Rajiv Suri, represented by advocate Shikhil Suri, who said his plea was restricted to the proposed modification of land use in plot number one. The petition has questioned the validity of a notification issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on October 28, 2020, notifying the change in land use by proposing modification to Zonal Development Plan of Zone ‘D’ for plot number one in the Central Vista area of Lutyens Delhi. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/central-vista-sc-asks-govt-to-file-affidavit-on-proposed-change-in-land-use/article37158326.ece   (25 Oct. 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Kerala Odonate fauna documented for the first time A group of entomologists have documented the odonate fauna in Kerala for the first time. Home to 181 species of dragonflies and damselflies, the State also nurtures 68 species that are endemic to the Western Ghats.

According to the study, the current checklist of odonates of the Western Ghats stood at 207, of which 80 species are endemics. A total of 181 species belonging to 87 genera under two suborders and 14 families were recorded within the geographical boundaries of Kerala. The suborder Zygoptera comprises 74 species of damselflies (30 genera in seven families) and the suborder Anisoptera has 107 species (57 genera in seven families).

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species of 2021, the state has one ‘endangered’ species (Idionyx galeata), four ‘near threatened’ and ‘vulnerable’ species each. Besides, 130 species in Western Ghats were considered to be of ‘least concern’, while 50 others belonged to the ‘data deficient’ category. Interestingly, none of the species is listed in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/keralas-odonate-fauna-documented-for-the-first-time-state-is-home-to-181-species/article37250150.ece  (30 Oct. 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Maharashtra Worli fisherfolk occupy sea near coastal road site Between 120 and 150 fishing boats from Worli Koliwada on Saturday occupied a portion of the sea near the coastal road construction site, where work is underway on building an interchange to connect the coastal road and the Banda-Worli Sea Link (BWSL). The fisherfolk said that this segment of the controversial infra project will cut off access to their customary fishing grounds, and have refused to vacate the area until their demand for a redesign is met.

Worli fisherfolk protest against the interchange between coastal road and sea link at Worli, on Saturday. (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)

Meanwhile, pre-construction activities on the interchange have continued, with movement of barges and tugboats in the Koliwada’s customary fishing grounds. Fisherfolk were also informed by the civic body on October 8 that they will not be allowed to fish in a 500-metre strip of water stretching from Haji Ali to Bandra, to facilitate the movement of tugboats and barges, for a period of two years. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/worli-fisherfolk-occupy-sea-near-coastal-road-site-say-won-t-vacate-until-demands-met-101635608341479.html  (30 Oct. 2021)

Odisha 33 rare fish worth Rs 1 crore caught off the coast A group of 10 fishermen caught 33 rare telia bhola fish on of West Bengal’s Digha estuary. According to reports, the group of fishermen took their fishing trawler to the Digha sea for fishing where 33 huge telia bhola fish fell into the nets. The huge rare telia bhola fishes, weighing about 84 kgs, were immediately brought to the open market for auction purpose. A pharmaceutical company in Kolkata bought 33 fish for Rs 1 crore during the auction in the market, added reports.

Earlier on Tuesday (Oct. 26), a team of five fishermen trapped a telia bhola fish weighing over 78 kgs from a bay linked to Kapura river on the coast of Odisha in the Sundarbans of South 24-Parganas in West Bengal. The gigantic telia bhola fish was 7 feet long and weighs 78 kgs 400 grams. The fish was later taken to the Canning wholesale market for auction where the gigantic fish was finally sold at a price more than Rs 36,53,605 at the auction. As per a fish exporter, the Telia Bhola fish has immense medicinal value. https://kalingatv.com/state/33-rare-fish-worth-rs-1-crore-caught-off-the-coast-of-odisha/  (27 Oct. 2021)

The Telia Bhola’ fish was sold for Rs 36 lakh, at the rate of Rs 49,300 per kilogram. It is said that the fish has some valuable resources in its stomach, which makes it so expensive. The resources can be used to make different types of medicines and other items. Fisherman Barman said that he has been fishing for years. He goes to fish the Telia Bhola every year, however, he never thought about catching such a giant fish.

Last year, an elderly woman became rich overnight after she caught a 52-kilogram Bhola fish from a river in West Bengal. Pushpa Kar, a resident of Chakphuldubi village on Sagar Island in West Bengal, sold a massive Bhola fish for Rs 3 lakh. The fish was sold at the local market for Rs 6,200 per kilogram. https://www.timesnownews.com/the-buzz/article/west-bengal-75-kg-telia-bhola-fish-caught-in-sunderbans-river-sold-for-over-rs-36-lakh/827079  (27 Oct. 2021)

SAND MINING

Rajasthan Top court reserves verdict on 2017 sand mining case The Supreme Court on Wednesday (Oct. 27) reserved its verdict on sand mining case after a three-judge bench headed by Justice Nageswara Rao heard all parties in the matter. Sources said the Apex court had asked the parties to file a written submission by October 29, if any. Following which the verdict can be pronounced anytime, they said. Residents and stakeholders had been waiting for more than four years for the hearing.

A source said, “On October 21, today’s date was given by the SC. The argument has been concluded and now judgment is awaited.” A source said, “The CEC was appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the issue of illegal sand mining. After the physical inspection, it recommended the MoEF to issue environmental clearance to valid LOI holders within three months.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/top-court-reserves-verdict-on-2017-sand-mining-case/articleshow/87320368.cms  (28 Oct. 2021)

Karnataka Sand mining in wetlands banned: Govt informs NGT The MoEF has informed the NGT that sand mining in wetlands in the guise of dredging and maintenance of lakes is banned. “Depletion and destruction of wetlands is a serious concern for this Ministry. A number of wetlands are threatened by reclamation and degradation through drainage and landfill, pollution (discharge of domestic and industrial effluents, disposal of solid wastes), hydrological alteration (water withdrawal and changes in inflow and outflow), over-exploitation of their natural resources and illegal construction resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in ecosystem services provided by wetlands,” the Ministry said.

In its affidavit, the Ministry said the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 apply to the wetlands or wetlands complexes categorised as ‘wetlands of international importance’ under the Ramsar Convention and wetlands as notified by the Central Government, State Government and Union Territory Administration. The Principal Bench of the NGT was hearing a plea against dredging and maintenance of the lakes in Raichur and Vijayapura districts in Karnataka. The petitioner alleged that authorities in two districts did not follow sustainable mining while allowing dredging of lakes. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/sand-mining-in-wetlands-banned-government-informs-ngt-1041552.html  (17 Oct. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh This documentary covers illegal sand mining issue in Bundelkhand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfv_m4sv-8I   (04 Aug. 2021)

MoEF Certain mining projects exempted from public hearings  According to a circular issued by the MoEF on October 20, five-star rated mining firms extracting iron, manganese, bauxite and limestone will no longer require public hearings while expanding production capacity by as much as 20%. On the other hand, the circular, issued in the form of an office memorandum by the ministry’s Impact Assessment Division, states that only public consultation—through written submissions—will be sufficient to obtain environmental clearance.

Experts have argued that the new policy is skewed in favour of the mining industry because many mineral-rich areas are populated by some of the most disadvantaged communities with low literacy levels. The latest policy, it has been argued, could be in conflict with provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996—popularly known as the PESA Act, 1996—which bestows upon Gram Sabhas, the lowest unit of local self-governance in Schedule 5 areas, all rights over community resources which may also include minerals.

There is no word on whether the new policy will gradually be extended to other categories of minerals in the future though its provisions will apply only to four minerals for now. The policy note contains no safeguards against possible unethical practices. What course of action will the government adopt if a mining firm, for example, decides to increase its production capacity several-fold in tranches of 20% each without conducting public hearings? The policy note does not cap the number of expansions that can be undertaken by a mining leaseholder.

“Effecting a change to a substantive law through an office memorandum is completely illegal. How can a government curtail substantive rights of people through an office memo? An office memo is meant only for procedural laws meant for running an office,” Ritwick Dutta, cofounder, LIFE told Newsclick. “This memo has been issued despite several Supreme Court and the NGT orders that significant changes in laws cannot be made through office memos. It shows the scant respect that the government has for the rule of law and court orders.” https://www.newsclick.in/Centre-Exempts-Certain-Mining-Projects-Public-Hearings  (26 Oct. 2021)

NBWL Oil & Natural Gas Extraction is not ‘Mining’ National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has exempted oil and natural gas extraction from the definition of ‘mining’ activity, paving the way for rampant hydrocarbon exploitation in and around some of the densest forests of India which are also extremely rich with flora and fauna. The move, which is amongst a series of reforms in environmental regulations vis-à-vis the hydrocarbon sector, will potentially benefit corporate bigwigs in the oil and natural gas industry.

In a meeting – the details of which were released on October 8 – the Standing Committee of the NBWL provided final clearance to six proposals to divert forest lands from the Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary in Tripura after deciding that hydrocarbon extraction cannot be considered as ‘mining’ activity. The exemption was provided after top judicial officers of the country, including the Advocate General of Tripura and the Solicitor General of India, respectively, opined that hydrocarbon extraction could not be construed as ‘mining’ either under the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 – popularly known as the MMDR Act – or under a Supreme Court order of 2006 which prohibits mining in close proximity of protected areas.

“What has been conveniently ignored while exempting oil and natural gas extraction from the definition of mining activities is the Mines Act, 1952. This Act defines oil extraction as a mining activity,” environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta told NewsClick. The Mines Act, 1952, which NBWL allegedly ignored in arriving at its decision, defines mining as “any excavation where any operation to search for or obtain minerals has been or is being carried on and includes all borings, boreholes, oil wells and accessory crude conditioning plants, including the pipe conveying mineral oil within the oilfields.”

“The spirit behind the Supreme Court order of August 2006 has not been considered in exempting hydrocarbon extraction from the definition of mining. By prohibiting mining activities within a 1-km radius of protected areas, the order seeks to create a safety zone or buffer zone wherein no disturbance should take place for the sake of wildlife and ecology. The Baghjan oilwell blowout incident, which took place last year, is a case in point. The oilwell is located at a distance of less than 1 km outside the boundary of Dibru Saikhowa National Park, a protected area, where most of the devastation took place,” added Dutta. https://www.newsclick.in/oil-and-natural-gas-extraction-not-mining-says-wildlife-conservation-panel  (22 Oct. 2021)

IBM ‘Mining set to play big role in nation’s growth’  The mining sector would play a significant role in the development of the country by giving the necessary impetus to the economic growth, Regional Controller of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) Shailendra Kumar has said. Speaking at a national seminar on the “role of critical minerals in the national development” organised by the Mining Engineers Association of India (MEAI) here on Friday (Oct. 29), he said: “Minerals are essential for modern living and the demand for minerals found in the earth is set to increase exponentially with its demand in the manufacturing sector going up by the day”.

Critical miners were being extensively used in the manufacture of smartphones, flat-screen, defence, automobile, medical imaging, television and other electronic products, the IBM executive said, adding that China was topping the world in the exploration of minerals and its export and making huge strides in the manufacturing sector.

He exuded the confidence that the country would emerge leader in the world in the exploration of 12 critical miners used in the manufacturing sector. Stating that there was good demand for rare earth minerals such as Beryllium, Germanium, Rhenium, Tantalum and others in the manufacturing sector across the world, he stressed the need for exploration and excavation of rare earth minerals in the country and it would help realise “Make in India” possible.. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/mining-set-to-play-big-role-in-nations-growth/article37235478.ece  (29 Oct. 2021)

Haryana 3 women protestors crushed to death Three women hailing from Punjab’s Mansa died on Thursday, 28 October, morning after they were crushed by a speeding truck, near Bahadurgarh in Haryana’s Jhajjar district, The Indian Express reported. The women had been participating in the farmer protests at Tikri border. The truck ran over a divider on which the three women had been sitting, reportedly waiting for an auto-rickshaw. Two of them were killed on the spot while the third succumbed on the way to the hospital.

Waseem Akram, superintendent of police in Jhajjar said, “A tipper, carrying dust, rammed into the group of women farmers. Two of them died on the spot.” Later in the morning, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered in the matter at the Bahadurgarh police station under sections 279, 304-A, 336, and 337. https://www.thequint.com/news/india/women-protestors-killed-in-accident-near-tikri-border-protest-site-farm-laws#read-more  (28 Oct. 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Wetlands panel directs Cidco to restore tidal flow into Panje The Bombay high court appointed wetlands protection panel has directed Cidco to open up five choke points at Panje in Uran, in order to allow free flow of tidal waters into the drying land. The panel took this decision at their meeting on Monday (Oct. 25), which has been welcomed by green activists.

Taking up the issue raised by committee member Stalin D, the committee chairman and Konkan divisional commissioner Vilas Patil stressed that the water flow must be maintained which the NGT too directed. The Western Region Bench of NGT, meanwhile, is scheduled to hold the next hearing in the case on November 9 before which Cidco is supposed to file its action taken report.

Stalin also strongly advocated revocation of the lease of the Panje wetland to a private company, in order to properly conserve this wetland. Moreover, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has itself categorised the area as CRZ-1. The Committee chairman felt that the revocation could be considered if there were any violations.

Meanwhile, Panje wetland has gone dry again after the monsoon wet spell threatening the biodiversity, NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar, has complained to CM Uddhav Thackeray. Thackeray has already asked the Forest and Urban Development Departments to look into NatConnect’s suggestion for declaring Panje wetland as a Biodiversity Park and conserve the waterbody and the mangroves around it.

Meanwhile, the stalemate over the wetland status of Panje continued with green groups pointing out the 300-hectare contiguous place meets the Ramsar Convention definition of a wetland and Cidco denying this and sticking to its guns. Since India is a signatory to the Ramsar convention, it is the duty of the government to respect it and conserve wetlands, Kumar said in his letter to Thackeray. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-restore-tidal-flow-into-panje-wetlands-panel-directs-cidco/articleshow/87285821.cms  (26 Oct. 2021)

Govt includes 961ha mangroves in reserved forest  The state forest department has taken over additional 961 hectares of mangroves to be protected as reserved forest under Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. State Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray had tweeted that earlier 1,433 ha mangroves were declared as reserved forest under Section 20 of the Act. With this, the total mangrove area under protection in Ratnagiri is now more than 2,394 ha, Thackeray said in his latest tweet on Friday (Oct. 29).

Cidco itself has said that it has over 1,000 hectares to be transferred, and a recent declaration by JNPT said it has more than 900 hectares, Kumar tweeted in respnose to Thackeray’s tweet. He pointed out that vast sea forests under Navi Mumbai SEZ are yet to be accounted for. Kharghar-based activists such as Naresh Chandra Singh and Jyoti Nadkarni have been drawing the government’s attention to the destruction of mangrove stretches in the node. This delay is only facilitating vested interests to destroy the mangroves for land-grab or illegal crab and prawn farming, greens said.

Meanwhile, landfill and dumping of debris on mangroves in Ulwe and several parts of Uran have also been on the rise, Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, said. Seawoods-based environmentalist Sunil Agarwal said that while it is good that mangroves are being preserved in other districts, they are being illegally destroyed and encroached upon in Navi Mumbai, where there is a plan to make a golf course. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-state-govt-includes961-ha-mangroves-in-reserved-forest/articleshow/87379231.cms  (30 Oct. 2021)

West Bengal Activist assaulted at East Calcutta Wetlands An environment activist was allegedly assaulted at the East Calcutta Wetlands on Saturday while trying to film an alleged attempt to plant dead fish laced with poison into the shallow water bodies. The fish is food for resident and migratory birds which flock to the wetlands in winter. Within minutes of eating a poisoned fish, a bird becomes weak and easy prey for humans. The practice is common this time of the year, when water is pumped out of many bheris (water bodies used for rearing fish).

On Saturday (Oct. 23), Suvrajyoti Chatterjee of the NGO, Human and Environment Alliance League, visited the Goalbari bheri in the wetlands with his driver and a colleague. “We went there around 5.15pm and saw a young man with a basket of dead fish. He was accompanied by a few others. One of them was trying to catch an egret,” said Chatterjee. He was allegedly accosted when he tried to film the men. “They tried to snatch my phone and slapped, punched and kicked me,” Chatterjee said. Another group of residents rushed to their help and stopped the alleged attackers. Chatterjee has lodged a police complaint. https://www.telegraphindia.com/my-kolkata/places/environment-activist-assaulted-at-east-calcutta-wetlands/cid/1836102  (27 Oct. 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Karnataka Mission to restore dilapidated temples, lakes Braving reptiles and brambles, hundreds of National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers, students and civil servant and competitive exam aspirants are on a mission to restore lakes, ponds, kalyanis (temple tanks), ancient temples and other structures in Mysuru and Mandya regions, which lie in a state of neglect. Over the past four years, this group of NSS volunteers from Seshadripuram Degree College in Mysuru, and volunteers of Achievers’ Academy in Srirangapatnahave given a new lease of life to at least 10 kalyanis, four lakes and many temples ruined by the vagaries of nature and time.

National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers, students, civil servants and competitive exam aspirants together clean the kalyani at Jakkanahalli village in Srirangapatna (TNIE)

Most of the tanks, lakes and temples they take up for revival are more than a century old and are said to be built during the period of erstwhile Mysuru kings and Tipu Sultan. “Many tanks would have dried up or become polluted with waste or construction debris. These places were once a lifeline to many in the surroundings, and temple priests would take water from the tanks to offer puja. Ours is an attempt to not only revive them, but also make people aware about their historical importance,” says Raghavendra. Though the task looks simple for a layman, it is not. Students and volunteers manually clear the weeds and remove muck, and no machines are involved. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2021/oct/31/refurbishing-history-this-group-is-on-mission-to-restore-dilapidated-temples-lakes-in-karnataka-2377862.html  (31 Oct. 2021)

Uttarakhand Farmers fall back on gharats Communities traditionally used hydropower, for instance, to run gharats (water mills) to prepare flour. But with time, these gharats were abandoned to a large extent as streams dried and trained repairmen disappeared. Now there is a renewed interest in reviving these mills. In Maldevta, Dehradun, Jai Singh has taken space from the irrigation department to install a gharat. He sells wheat flour at Rs 35 per kilogram to tourists and local residents. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/agriculture/uttarakhand-farmers-fall-back-on-traditional-food-processing-methods-to-boost-earnings-79955  (29 Oct. 2021)

GROUNDWATER

IWP Equity and justice in groundwater access: connecting the dots While groundwater deterioration is rising, inequity in accessing the available groundwater resources is also a growing concern in India informs this paper titled ‘ The need for co-evolution of groundwater law and community practices for groundwater justice and sustainability: Insights from Maharashtra, India’ published in the journal Water Alternatives.

While governments around the world are undertaking groundwater law reforms to address inequity and sustainability issues, there is very little information on how groundwater laws have fared in India in terms of addressing access and equity issues.  The paper discusses the findings of a study that aimed at examining and reflecting on the recent law reforms related to groundwater in India by taking up the case of Maharashtra.

The study aimed at answering the following questions: The study critically analysed the 2009 Maharashtra Groundwater (Development and Management) Act (referred to hereafter as the ‘2009 Groundwater Act’) (Government of Maharashtra, 2009), and the 2018 Maharashtra Groundwater (Development and Management) Draft Rules (referred to hereafter as the ‘2018 Draft Rules’) (Government of Maharashtra, 2018) which operationalise the Act.

The study drew on existing literature on common pool resources, water justice, and sustainability and conducted a content analysis of the 2009 Groundwater Act and the 2018 Draft Rules and looked at the case of Hivre Bazar in western Maharashtra to understand how groundwater was managed at the community level in the village.. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/equity-and-justice-groundwater-access-connecting-dots  (29 Oct. 2021)

Maharashtra Average groundwater level up by 2.78m in Marathwada The monsoon of 2021 has lifted the mood of residents of the Marathwada region with the groundwater level rising by 2.78m at the end of September, as compared to the average water level of the past five years. A Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) report on Saturday (Oct. 30) revealed that all 76 talukas in the eight districts of Marathwada had witnessed a spike in the groundwater level with Latur, one of the highest water deficit districts from the region that had to be supplied water by trains in 2016, reporting the highest 4.37m increase.

Latur was on top of the list in terms of hike in groundwater level at 4.37m, followed by Parbhani (3.94m) Osmanabad (3.85m), Beed (3.16m), Jalna (2.5m), Aurangabad (2.11m), Nanded (1.21m) and Hingoli (1.16m), the data revealed. The GSDA, as a part of its groundwater level assessment exercise, surveyed 875 dug wells across different talukas of Marathwada.

In 2019, 46 talukas from Marathwada had reported drop in the groundwater level due to the deficient monsoon. Contrary to its dubious distinction as a drought-prone zone, Marathwada has received 1,112mm rainfall so far since June 1, which is 153% of the expected showers. In terms of month-wise rainfall, Marathwada recorded 201mm showers in June, which is 150% of the expected showers, followed by 265mm rainfall (142%) in July, 174mm rainfall (90%) in August and the highest 380 mm rainfall (229%) in September, the data showed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/maharashtra-average-groundwater-level-up-by-2-78m-in-marathwada/articleshow/87413318.cms  (31 Oct. 2021)

Goa All 12 talukas have ‘safe’ groundwater levels All twelve talukas of Goa fall under the ‘safe’ category with regard to its groundwater situation. In a report, the central groundwater board also stated that the overall utilisation of the resource has dropped. “The overall stage of groundwater development (utilisation) in the state of Goa is 23.5%, and all talukas fall under the safe category,” said the report titled ‘Dynamic ground water resources of Goa, 2020’, submitted to the state secretary for water resources on Wednesday (Oct. 27). The re-estimation of Goa’s ground water resources was carried out as per data collected up to March 2020.

The board and the state water resources department carried out the assessment as per the groundwater estimation committee methodology 2015, which requires such re-estimation to be done once in three years. The board is monitoring water levels in Goa through 96 dug wells and 45 piezometers under the national hydrograph network monitoring stations. Data from these stations were used for assessing the pre-monsoon and post-monsoon water levels, fluctuations and decal trends. As per the report, there is sufficient rainfall in the state for irrigating the crops during monsoon. The ground water quality is also good, found the report. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/all-12-talukas-have-safe-ground-water-levels-central-body/articleshow/87319400.cms  (28 Oct. 2021)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Lokayukta takes up case over lake that vanished from JB Kaval forest A lake of area 5 acres 36 guntas in North Bangalore has disappeared from the records and now Lokayukta has take up the case after Deccan Herald raised the issue. The lake was under forest dept in 1988, was transferred to revenue dept in 2013 and in Sept 2013, the revenue dept broke it into parcels to sell to individuals. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/lokayukta-takes-up-case-over-lake-that-vanished-from-jb-kaval-forest-1044208.html  (26 Oct. 2021)

BBMP writes to pollution board seeking action In the wake of a series of complaints regarding sewage finding its way into lakes across the city, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has written to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to take action against the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB). BBMP officials said the sewerage board failed to prevent the entry of sewage into lakes. The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) had handed over custody of Hosakere lake in Gandhinagar to the BBMP in 2019. There have been complaints regarding leakage of water from the lake bund, which affects the water storage capacity of the lake. Moreover, untreated sewage water enters the lake.

According to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report on management of storm water drains in Bengaluru urban area, out of the 1,440 MLD sewage generated in BBMP area, about 780 MLD (54 per cent) was discharged into storm water drains without treatment. “Works proposed in the master plan such as interlinking drains and lakes, construction of recharge structures etc, were not taken up,” the CAG report read. Over the years, sewage has entered Amruthalli, Vengaiah, Doddakalasandra, Mallathalli and Puttenahalli lakes. Though the rejuvenation of Doddakalasandra lake is nearly over, the entry of sewage water into it continues. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/sewage-in-bengaluru-lakes-bbmp-writes-to-pollution-board-seeking-action-7597179/  (30 Oct. 2021)

Since 2009, the BBMP has been inking memoranda of understanding with various trusts to maintain the lakes, which encouraged the participation of residents in rejuvenating the waterbodies. The Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT), Mahadevpura Parisara Samrakshane Mattu Abhivrudhi Samiti (MAPSAS), Jalaposhan and Iblur Environs Trust — organisations actively involved in lake conservation efforts — are now lamenting that years of work have come to nothing with the Palike’s termination of lake conservation partnerships.

In a joint statement, the trusts said abandoning lake conservation partnership threatens the existence of the waterbodies, besides affecting public involvement in conserving them by preventing littering, encroachment and discharge of sewage. They said the BBMP has cited an April 2020 direction by the Karnataka High Court that the government shall not execute an MoU with corporate entities to not renew their MoUs. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/trusts-denounce-scrapping-of-lake-conservation-partnership-by-bbmp-1045870.html  (31 Oct. 2021)

Amruthahalli Lake is dying a slow death with sewage entering the waterbody through stormwater drains, but nothing concrete has been done to stem the rot. As the lake was earlier under the BDA and was developed by them, the resident association submitted a written complaint not just to the BDA but BBMP and BWSSB. Officials have visited this place, but there is no visible change.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/sewage-inflow-slowly-killing-amruthahalli-lake/articleshow/87348944.cms  (29 Oct. 2021)

BBMB bags award for work on lake conservation The Earth Day Network Star Municipal Leadership Award was conferred on BBMP on Friday (Oct. 29) for rejuvenating 18 lakes in the city and initiating work on seven more. Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) had nominated the Palike. They have been working with BBMP since 2009-10 for the revival of Puttenahalli lake. The award is marked as a part of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, launched by Earth Day Network India, to commend municipal bodies whose policies and actions have made a significant impact on the environment. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2021/oct/30/bruhat-bengaluru-mahanagara-palike-bags-award-forwork-on-lake-conservation-2377474.html  (30 Oct. 2021)

Noida Residents facing water crisis due to Ganga canal closure Across Noida, residents are complaining of erratic water supply due to the month-long cleaning drive of the Upper Ganga canal. On October 15, the UP Jal Nigam shut down the Ganga jal supply to Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad for the annual desilting work. While residents in several sectors reported low water pressure, others complained of no supply over the past few days. Those residing in sectors 19, 20, 25, 141 and 51, for instance, told TOI that supply had been reduced from three hours to one hour a day while others said they were unable to get water on the first and second floors of their homes due to low pressure. While the Noida Authority has deployed tankers on request, residents living above groundfloors find it difficult to lug water buckets and demand a permanent solution to the annual problem. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/getting-just-1-hour-of-water-supply-in-a-day/articleshow/87266525.cms   (26 Oct. 2021)

Delhi Drainage master plan 2018 remains on paper Till September 16th this year, Delhi witnessed 1159.4 mm of rainfall, the highest since 1964 and the third-highest ever, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data. Delhi has an estimated 2,846 drains, covering a combined length of 3,692 KM.  With the first Drainage Master Plan for Delhi being prepared in 1976, it took 42 years and severe flooding of major areas of the capital that led to the formulation of a 153-page second Drainage Master Plan for NCT of Delhi in 2018. But no steps appear to have been taken to implement this master plan.

Manoj Mishra who heads the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan said that the 1976 Report itself had identified 201 natural drains that were flowing into the Yamuna and certain suggestions were made to repair them. But there was total disconnect between urban planning, the drains and the Yamuna. Manoj Misra said one of the major problems in the capital’s drainage system is that there is no single authority to take care of all the drains. Manoj also says that the NGT was hearing the case on Yamuna Rejuvenation, it  was told by the Flood and Irrigation Department of the Delhi Government that 58 drains were found missing and could not be traced, said Mishra. https://citizenmatters.in/delhis-drainage-master-plan-of-2018-remains-on-paper-27999  (22 Oct. 2021)

DJB will rectify bills that are of high amounts in the current billing cycle compared to the previous billing cycle, according to an order issued by Akriti Sagar, Director (Revenue), DJB. Due to the lockdown and in instances where homes have remained locked for a while, meter readings in some cases have accumulated leading to higher bills in the current billing cycle compared to the previous ones. In such cases, the DJB will rectify the bills through adjustments and recasting of the bills where the reading has accumulated over a period of time. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-jal-board-to-rectify-water-bills-of-high-amounts-7600118/  (31 Oct. 2021)

Pune MahaMetro speeds up excavation The Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MahaMetro) has completed about 70% of the excavation of Metro tunnels on the Range Hills to Swargate underground section. MahaMetro said it has expedited the work and plans to complete the remaining excavation in the next four months. Two parallel tunnels are being excavated for the up and down lines on the section that travels through Shivajinagar, Civil Court, Kasba Peth, Budhwar Peth, Mandai and ends in Swargate. The 6km stretch between Range Hills and Swargate is underground, taking the total length of excavation of both tunnels to 12km. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/mahametro-speeds-up-excavation-aims-to-complete-tunnels-by-feb/articleshow/87376260.cms  (30 Oct. 2021)

Opinion Finding missing pieces of urban planning puzzle in India  Cities are not just a set of buildings. They are living entities where society, economy and environment must co-exist, write Dr K. Rajeswara Rao and Anshika Gupta. https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/finding-the-missing-pieces-of-urban-planning-puzzle-in-india-4374998.html  (28 Oct. 2021)

WATER

CWC RESERVOIR STORAGE BULLETIN OF 28.10.2021

1. ALL INDIA STATUS:- As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 28.10.2021, live storage available in 133 reservoirs is 141.724 BCM, which is 82% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 150.515 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 130.097 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 133 reservoirs as per 28.10.2021 Bulletin is 94% of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 109% of storage of average of last ten years.

2. REGION WISE STORAGE STATUS:

a) NORTHERN REGION:- The total live storage available in 9 reservoirs is 12.37 BCM which is 64% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 67% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 80% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.

b) EASTERN REGION:- The total live storage available in 21 reservoirs is 14.58 BCM which is 73% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 79% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 77% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.

c) WESTERN REGION:- The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 30.80 BCM which is 87% of total live storage capacity of 42 reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 94% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 73% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.

d) CENTRAL REGION:- The total live storage available in 24 reservoirs is 37.45 BCM which is 82% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 89% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 80% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs.

e) SOUTHERN REGION:- The total live storage available in 37 reservoirs is 46.53 BCM which is 89% 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 70% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. http://www.cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/28102021-fb-pdf.pdf 

Opinion What India’s new water policy seeks to deliver Mihir Shah The NWP gives the highest priority to sustainable and equitable management of groundwater. Participatory groundwater management is the key. Information on aquifer boundaries, water storage capacities and flows provided in a user-friendly manner to stakeholders, designated as custodians of their aquifers, would enable them to develop protocols for effective management of groundwater. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/what-indias-new-water-policy-seeks-to-deliver-7595819/  (29 Oct. 2021)

Interview Prof. Geeta Mehta, who teaches at Columbia University, on the imminent water crisis facing India and the role citizens can play in addressing it. https://scroll.in/magazine/1008775/interview-india-is-disregarding-its-traditional-water-systems-in-favour-of-big-infrastructure  (23 Oct. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Villages to pay for property, water, sanitation as state invokes old law Even officials admit that the scheme is facing opposition. Bhopal district panchayat CEO Vikas Mishra said they know it is very tough to impose any tax. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/like-cities-mp-villages-to-pay-for-property-water-sanitation-as-state-invokes-old-law-101635679463363.html  (31 Oct. 2021)

Andhra Pradesh PCB gives consent to set up Kadapa Steel Plant The Pollution Control Board has approved and issued consent for setting up of Kadapa Steel Plant (M/s AP High Grade Steels Limited) at an estimated cost of Rs 16,986 crore with 84.7 mw capacity captive power generation at Sunnapurallapalli and Peddadandluru villages of Jammalamadugu mandal in Kadapa district. The project received environmental clearance on 09-03-2021 and total land required is 3,591 acres. The plant has a total production capacity of three million tonnes per annum and meets total water requirement from Gandikota reservoir. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/281021/appcb-gives-consent-to-set-up-kadapa-steel-plant.html  (28 Oct. 2021)

AGRICULTURE

SANDRP Guest Blog Paddy farming in times of climate change – field notes – A sequel by Dr. Sreeja KG and Dr. Madhusoodhanan CG:- Climate change and its impacts in the tropics are changing the once familiar landscapes, once certain weather patterns, once secure living spaces beyond recognition. The disasters that can be as local as a tidal surge to national level episodes of cyclones, wildfires and massive floods are being managed in the same administrative mode as has been the practice during the more forgiving past: without training, without relevant real time information, without involvement of the communities and often merely with the strong will and dedication of the field staff and local volunteers. With events far in between, episodic and with time to recoup, we have been spared total and irrevocable breakdown of the system and society. But for how long? https://sandrp.in/2021/10/26/paddy-farming-in-times-of-climate-change-field-notes-a-sequel/  (26 Oct. 2021)

NCRB Suicides among farm workers rose 18% in 2020 Overall, 10,677 people engaged in the farm sector died by suicide in 2020, slightly higher than the 10,281 who died in 2019. They made up 7% of all suicides in the country. Most of these deaths were among those whose primary work and main source of income comes from labour activities in agriculture or horticulture. In 2020, 5,098 of these agricultural labourers died by suicide, an 18% rise from the 4,324 who died last year. However, among farmers who cultivate their own land, with or without the help of other workers, the number of suicides dropped 3.7% from 5,129 to 4,940. Among tenant farmers who cultivate leased land, there was a 23% drop in suicides from 828 to 639.

The worst among States continues to be Maharashtra, with 4,006 suicides in the farm sector, including a 15% increase in farm worker suicides. Other States with a poor record include Karnataka (2016), Andhra Pradesh (889) and Madhya Pradesh (735). Karnataka saw a dismal 43% increase in the number of farm worker suicides in 2020. Andhra Pradesh was among the few States that saw an improvement, with 14% fewer people in the farm sector dying by suicide. Tamil Nadu also bucked the national trend; although the total number of farm suicides in the State was slightly higher, most of the increase came from landowning cultivators rather than labourers. In comparison to just six landowning farmers who died by suicide in TN in 2019, 76 died in 2020. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/suicides-among-farm-workers-rose-last-year/article37235086.ece  (29 Oct. 2021)

There has been more than 60 per cent decline in the crop insurance claims of farmers at Rs 9,570 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) for the 2020-21 crop year from the previous year as there were no major crop losses, according to official data. However, much of the crop insurance claims reported for 2020-21 and 2019- 20 crop years have been cleared by the government. Crop insurance claims stood at Rs 27,398 crore in the 2019-20 crop year (July-June).

Maximum crop insurance claims were reported from Rajasthan at Rs 3,602 crore, followed by Maharashtra at Rs 1,232 crore and Haryana at Rs 1,112.8 crore during 2020-21. According to the data, about 445 lakh hectares of farm land was insured by 612 lakh farmers under the PMFBY with a total sum insured amount of Rs 1,93,767 crore during 2020-21. However, total claims reported were of Rs 9,570 crore for 2020-21. Out of which, claims reported from the Kharif season were Rs 6,779 crore, while from Rabi season Rs 2,792 crore. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/crop-insurance-claims-at-rs-9570-cr-for-2020-21-lower-by-over-60-pc-from-previous-year/articleshow/87420718.cms  (31 Oct. 2021)

Karnataka Black paddy cultivation on experimental basis at Asodu  Black paddy variety, which is very rare in coastal Karnataka, was cultivated at Asodu near Kalavara village in the taluk on experimental basis. The species has given good yield. There are indications that this kind of paddy may be cultivated here on a larger scale. Sujith Kumar Shetty from Asodu Bandasale, is a young farmer having special interest in growing paddy. Even now he cultivates paddy in 15 acres of land.

Many farmers who saw this experiment, have approached Sujith with requests for seeds. Therefore, the paddy he has grown this time will be used as seeds entirely. It is said that this rice commands a price of Rs 260 per kg in the market. It is rich with soft and natural flavour, nutrients, fibre, protein, iron, vitamin E, calcium and magnesium. It digests easily and regulates diabetes and constipation. It also keeps cancer at bay, it is said. Because of these qualities, this rice commands a high price. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=887940  (28 Oct. 2021)

Telangana Farmers up in arms against ban on paddy sowing It is not possible to go for alternative crops at this stage, when the rabi sowing is likely to begin in a week or so from November, for which they have made all the arrangements say farmers. They said that the government should have alerted them in advance and put them on a notice at least six months or a year prior, if it wants to impose a ban on paddy in rabi.

Farmers are citing geographic and climatic conditions in Telangana for opting for paddy, especially during rabi. They say that soaring temperatures here during rabi were suitable only for paddy cultivation, and if they opt for other crops, they would not survive and would incur heavy losses. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/281021/farmers-up-in-arms-against-ban-on-paddy-sowing.html  (28 Oct. 2021)

POST MONSOON 2021

SANDRP Blog Unprecedented October 2021 Rainfall in Uttarakhand Uttarakhand has seen unusual rainfall episode in the month of October 2021. The extreme rains during October 17 to 19 across the state and particularly at several places in districts under Kumaon division have been termed as highest rainfall in the recorded history as per Meteorological Circle (MC), Dehradun. This account is an attempt to document the historical rainfall events caused by combination of low pressure and western disturbance (WD) weather phenomena. https://sandrp.in/2021/10/26/unprecedented-october-2021-rainfall-in-uttarakhand/  (26 Oct. 2021)

IMD SW monsoon withdraws “The withdrawal of the southwest monsoon 2021 from the entire country is the seventh-most delayed withdrawal (on or after October 25) during 1975-2021,” the IMD said in a statement.

The southwest monsoon retreated on or after October 25 five times between 2010 and 2021 – in 2017, 2010, 2016, 2020 and 2021, the IMD data showed. The southwest monsoon started receding from west Rajasthan and adjoining Gujarat on October 6, making it the second-most delayed withdrawal since 1975. The withdrawal of the southwest monsoon from northwest India usually begins from September 17. The monsoon withdrawal started on September 28 last year, October 9 in 2019, September 29 in 2018, September 27 in 2017 and September 15 in 2016, according to IMD data. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/southwest-monsoon-withdraws-from-india-seventh-most-delayed-retreat-since-1975-imd-1044034.html  (25 Oct. 2021)

FLOOD 2021

SANDRP Kerala & Uttarakhand floods in Oct 2021: Did forewarnings help?  The October 2021 flood disasters in two ends of India, in Kerala and Uttarakhand have a lot common. Both happened after the end of normal dates of South West Monsoon 2021. In both cases it is repeat of earlier such disasters in respective states. In both cases, there were reports by expert reports warning about the disasters. In both cases the rainfall events were broadly along the lines warned by the climate scientists, but in both cases the state was ill prepared to cope with it. In both cases, inappropriate human interventions have worsened the disasters in major ways. And in both cases disaster management seems to be absent from ground. In both cases, more precise forecasts about the rainfall quantum and location would have helped. https://sandrp.in/2021/10/26/kerala-and-uttarakhand-floods-did-the-forewarnings-help/  (26 Oct. 2021)

Uttarakhand IIT Roorkee asked to study change in rivers course  Environmentalists said encroachments on riverbanks have compounded the problem. “The rivers have not changed their course or taken up new channels, they are simply flowing in their own space – the riverbed – which humans have encroached upon,” said Himanshu Thakkar. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-rains-change-course-of-four-major-rivers-iit-roorkee-asked-to-study-event/articleshow/87324204.cms  (28 Oct. 2021)

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. A cloudburst triggered flash floods at Ramgarh in  Nainital district on Tuesday (Oct. 19), upstream of the national park. The catchment areas of Kosi river received 227mm to 530mm rainfall in the past 24 hours, official data show.

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. 18). The meandering Kosi has flooded like this after many years, according to Ramnagar-based wildlife activist AG Ansari. “Fast moving animals like tigers have the ability to move to safer locations if it rains heavily. Animals like elephants usually get trapped in swirling water,” he said. “Many villagers have voluntarily shifted to safer areas.” It will be clear whether any wild animals were washed away, as their bodies will surely be found downstream after the flood subsides, he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/overflowing-kosi-river-threatens-wildlife-in-uttarakhand-101634666878898.html  (29 Oct. 2021)

It is probably too late to stop many of the impacts of global warming. Cloudbursts, floods and also droughts will be part of the new norm. But we can learn to adapt to climate change and reduce the impacts of these weather events. But to do so we must recognise the importance of seemingly mundane structures like drains, and learn to value critical recharge zones like Sukhatal.  https://mojostory.com/pov/uttarakhand-floods-why-abnormal-weather-is-the-new-normal/  (23 Oct. 2021)

Chukam village affected by Kosi flood. https://youtu.be/yzhBR0Iz8mw   (29 Oct. 2021)

So far in October, Uttarakhand has recorded a whopping 192.6 mm of rainfall against 31.2 mm. Out of this, 122.4 mm of mm was recorded in 24 hours itself. However, the mass destruction caused by inclement weather conditions is not only because of the climate crisis. It is quite evident that development plans and human interference are not complimenting the ecological balance of Uttarakhand.

“There has been a manifold increase in the tourist influx over the years. Roughly counting, the state used to host around 6 lakh tourists per year which have now increased to over 15 lakhs. With this, there has been an increase in vehicular pollution, river pollution, construction activities, and commercialization. The construction of hydropower projects and road widening activities have had a major impact over the region. All these factors have contributed to the increase in temperatures along with changes in rainfall patterns. We now see incessant rains that go on for 2-3 days at a stretch, while several days being left high and dry. Also, during the 1980s and 90s, snowfall was a prominent feature between December 20-25 in the Joshimath region. But that changed over the years, with snowfall even giving a miss to the region,” said Atul Satti, a local environmental activist. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/uttarakhand-floods-marker-climate-change  (26 Oct. 2021)

The state needs go back to its climate plan, update it, and implement its key messages for its development planning. Otherwise, it will face repeated rounds of climate-related devastation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/policies-and-people-uttarakhand-s-climate-plan-shows-state-failures-101635245294719.html  (26 Oct. 2021)

Rain, flood destruction in Darma valley of Dharchula in Pithoragarh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLMegPBNblw   (27 Oct. 2021)

Maharashtra Flood disaster and climate change in Kolhapur and elsewhere. https://www.thedailybeast.com/extreme-floods-caused-by-climate-change-are-drowning-indias-women-farmers-in-debt  (30 Oct. 2021)

Mullaperiyar Dam UN study says dam has outlived its life A report by United Nations University, the academic and research arm of the UN, has stated that Mullaperiyar dam, situated in a seismically active area, faces the risk of failure.

A report titled “Ageing water storage Infrastructure: An emerging global risk”, released (January 2021) by United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, has said that ageing of large dams is an emerging global development issue as they pose threats to human safety and environment. The report said that Mullaperiyar dam, built in 1895, is situated in a landslide-prone area. “If at all any failure occurs in the dam around 3.5 million people will be affected,” it said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/kerala-mullaperiyar-dam-has-outlived-its-life-says-un-study-report/articleshow/87251544.cms  (25 Oct. 2021)

The water level at Mullaperiyar dam remains the same even after raising three shutters the other day. The water level continues to be at 138.85 feet. Currently, 825 cubic feet of water is being let out through spillways. But the water level at Periyar rose by 1.5 feet. The water level at the Idukki dam did not rise even after the opening of the shutters of Mullaperiyar dam but was reduced. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/no-change-in-water-level-at-mullaperiyar-dam-even-after-raising-3-shutters-mullaperiyar-dam-idukki-1.6133646  (30 Oct. 2021)

Shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, operated by Tamil Nadu, were raised further on Saturday (Oct. 30) morning as the water level in the reservoir rose to 138.90 ft, officials here said. The three spillway shutters were raised to a height of 70 cm each and 1,675 cusecs of water was being released to the downstream, they said. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/mullaperiyar-dam-shutters-raised-further-1045652.html  (30 Oct. 2021)

Kerala has shifted 339 families as Tamil Nadu released water from the Mullaperiyar dam on Friday, October 29. The dam, located in the Idukki district of the state, was opened at 7.29 am even as Kerala ministers maintained that preparations have been intact to ensure the safety of the people. Tamil Nadu released 534 cusecs of water by lifting shutters three and four by about 35 cm each. As on Friday morning, the water level in the dam is at 138.70 feet.

Augustine, in the release, said that as the water level in the 24-km stretch from Mullaperiyar to Idukki is expected to rise by about 60 centimetre, a total of 1,079 people from 350 families who would be affected by the two-foot-high flood have been evacuated. All the preparations made during the opening of the Idukki dam have been taken ahead of the opening of the Mullaperiyar dam, he said. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/mullaperiyar-dam-opened-339-families-downstream-kerala-shifted-157031  (29 Oct. 2021)

People familiar with the matter said that at least 3,000 people living downstream of Mullaperiyar dam were evacuated as a precautionary measure. The water is expected to reach Idukki reservoir in the neighbouring Kerala in a few hours, with the district put on high alert.

Many houses have been submerged since the dam opened at 7am on Friday (Oct. 29), however, no untoward incident was reported. Water from the Mullaperiyar dam is being released to maintain its level at 138 feet and will reach Idukki reservoir in two hours. If need arises, Idukki dam might be opened too to ease the pressure, people familiar with the matter said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/tamil-nadu-raises-shutters-of-mullaperiyar-dam-kerala-s-idukki-on-high-alert-101635475411877.html  (29 Oct. 2021)

TIE image.

The Supreme Court on Thursday (Oct. 28) said the States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala will abide by the water level notified by the Supervisory Committee for the Mullaperiyar dam for the time being. A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said the Supervisory Committee may review its opinion if the situation suddenly changes on the ground due to heavy rains, etc.

The Bench deferred the hearing after Kerala requested time to file a detailed affidavit in response to the committee’s views, especially with regard to ‘rule curve’, which means the level maintainable in the reservoir on different days. The court directed Kerala to file its affidavit on or before November 8. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mullaperiyar-follow-water-level-notified-by-expert-committee-for-the-time-being-sc-tells-kerala-and-tamil-nadu/article37205876.ece  (28 Oct. 2021)

Over the years, petitions have been filed in the high courts of both states. These were subsequently transferred to the Supreme Court. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/mullaperiyar-dam-old-dispute-between-tamil-nadu-kerala-revived-after-recent-rains-7596026/  (29 Oct. 2021)

Mullaperiyar Dam is extremely vulnerable, a new one should be built in its place, Kerala tells SC. https://scroll.in/latest/1009239/mullaperiyar-dam-is-extremely-vulnerable-a-new-one-should-be-built-in-its-place-kerala-tells-sc  (28 Oct. 2021)

An online campaign demanding to decommission the Mullaperiyar dam is gathering momentum. Many prominent personalities including film actors have joined the campaign. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/oct/26/decommission-mullaperiyar-campaign-gains-momentum-2375711.html  (26 Oct. 2021)

On the campaign in social media about safety of the Mullaperiyar dam, the Kerala CM has said that there is no fresh scare against the dam’s safety and hence the campaign could be considered as scaremongering. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/vijayan-warns-against-social-media-campaign-over-mullaperiyar-dams-safety-1044091.html  (25 Oct. 2021)

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Tuesday (Oct. 25) said “something new needs to be done” in Mullaperiyar as the existing dam there is very old and people are working to reach an amicable settlement on the matter. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/kerala-governor-arif-mohammed-khan-says-efforts-on-to-amicably-resolve-mullaperiyar-dam-issue-2588301  (26 Oct. 2021)

For long, the Kerala government has been insisting that the dam be replaced by a modern one, but the dispute is stuck in the Supreme Court. The court had ruled that Tamil Nadu could keep the water level at 142 feet. Some five million people living in four downstream districts could face mortal danger if something untoward was to happen at the dam. https://www.indiatoday.in/india-today-insight/story/why-high-water-levels-in-the-mullaperiyar-dam-is-again-dividing-kerala-1871766-2021-10-31  (31 Oct. 2021)

AIADMK, DMK spar over release of water from Mullaperiyar dam. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/india/aiadmk-dmk-spar-over-release-of-water-from-mullaperiyar-dam-1.6137098  (31 Oct. 2021)

Jammu & Kashmir Jhelum flood management plan-II to get approval within 2 months This also has updates on Ujh and Shahpur Kandi dam projects:-It may be mentioned that to prevent 2014-like floods in Kashmir division, the carrying capacity of river Jhelum has been enhanced by 25 percent by dredging of the river and its flood spill channels. The 2014 devastating floods in Srinagar and its adjoining areas wreaked havoc and caused an estimated over 1 lakh crore losses to the public and private infrastructure. Subsequently the government of India announced a comprehensive Flood Management Plan. The Flood Management Plan was divided into two parts: Phase 1 and Phase 2. So far, 98 percent progress has been achieved on phase 1, while for phase 2, J&K administration is awaiting release for funds from the central government.

After the devastating floods of 2014, the government of India sanctioned ‘Plan for Comprehensive flood management of River Jhelum and its tributaries’. The project was funded under the Prime Minister’s Development Package. The flood management plan of River Jhelum was divided into two phases. As per the official document, Rs 399 crore was sanctioned for the first phase, of which Rs 323 crore has been released. Phase-1 is substantially completed, discharge carrying capacity increased at Sangam from 31,800 cusecs to 41,000 cusecs. Two bridges were to be completed by October 2021. After substantially completing the first phase, the government of J&K has sought funds for the second phase. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/front-page-2/jhelum-flood-management-plan-ii-to-get-approval-within-2-months  (30 Oct. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Massive floods in October in Barabanki People living along the Sarayu river are used to the annual cycle of floods during the monsoon season which ends with September. However, this year, torrential rains between October 17-20 have inundated several villages that had barely recovered from the earlier cycle of floods.  https://en.gaonconnection.com/barabanki-floods-uttar-pradesh-damage-farmers-displacement-uttarakhand-water-level-rural-poverty-disaster/  (23 Oct. 2021)

तीन दिन की बारिश में खेतों में हर तरफ तबाही का मंजर, धान, आलू और सब्जियों की फसलें बर्बाद तीन दिन की बेमौसम भारी बारिश ने किसानों के अरमानों पर पानी फेर दिया है। न सिर्फ खेतों में लगी फसलें बर्बाद हुई हैं बल्कि इस बारिश से खेती का पूरा चक्र गड़बड़ा गया है। https://www.gaonconnection.com/desh/paddy-potato-and-green-vegetables-crops-damaged-in-uttar-pradesh-due-to-heavy-rains-49972  (19 Oct. 2021)

DROUGHT

Andhra Pradesh 2 decades of drought emptying out ‘blessed’ district  This report talks about 18 “droughts” in 20 years in Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalseema, calling it the driest district of South India. In 10 of the 20 years, the district had deficient or scanty rainfall, but due to 76% variability of rainfall. In 3 of the last 26 years, it says the district had excess rainfall. The introduction of groundnut as monoculture here in 1990s led to felling of lots of trees, it says, as the crop needs lots of sunshine. The consequences include desertification, lands going out of cultivation, mass migration, women trafficking among others. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/2-decades-of-drought-emptying-out-andhras-blessed-district/articleshow/87408762.cms  (31 Oct. 2021)

DISASTERS

WMO India lost $87bn due to natural disasters last year Cyclone Amphan, one of the strongest cyclones recorded in recent times, hit the Sundarbans region in India and Bangladesh in May 2020, displacing 2.4 million people in India and 2.5 million people in Bangladesh, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) report said, adding that intense cyclones, monsoon rains and floods hit densely populated areas in South Asia and East Asia, and led to the displacement of millions of people in India, China, Bangladesh, Japan, Pakistan, Nepal and Vietnam last year.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/climate-change-india-lost-87-billion-to-natural-disasters-last-year-says-wmo-101635226813893.html   (26 Oct. 2021)

The last seven years have been the warmest on record and global sea-level rise accelerated since 2013, reaching a new high in 2021, a provisional report released by the WMO has stated. The report has attributed the record sea-level rise to warming up and acidification of ocean waters.  https://indianexpress.com/article/world/heat-wave-sea-level-rise-climate-change-wmo-report-7600957/  (31 Oct. 2021)

CLOUD BURSTS

Report Extreme weather becomes the new normal by Soumya Sarkar The IMD’s announcement of a ‘normal’ 2021 southwest monsoon does not reveal the complex regional and temporal variations that the granular rainfall data reveals. Although the aggregate shows normalcy, the wide regional and special variations in precipitation in the four months reveal that the rainfall was anything but normal this year. A detailed analysis of rainfall data shows that the monsoon arrived with a bang in June, played hide and seek, but vanished in the core months of July and August, and returned with extremity before its scheduled withdrawal in September, throwing all weather prediction models off kilter.

An analysis by SANDRP reveals that there were numerous occasions when there were cloudbursts in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand during the June to September monsoon. There has been a sharp increase in the number of cloudbursts and mini cloud bursts in the hilly states in past 126 years from 1926 to 2015, SANDRP said, citing research by scientists at the IITM, Pune, who have sought to redefine rainfall exceeding 50 mm in two hours as mini cloudbursts. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/10/extreme-weather-becomes-the-new-normal-in-indias-main-monsoon-season/  (19 Oct. 2021)

THERMAL POWER

MoP NCT ToR revised to fast-track planning, approval of power transmission projects The Power Ministry has revised the terms of reference of National Committee on Transmission (NCT) to fast-track planning and approval of power transmission projects.  “As one more step in the series of major reforms being carried out in the power sector under the direction of the Union Power Minister RK Singh, the Ministry of Power has revised the terms of reference of National Committee on Transmission (NCT) to fast-track Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) planning and approval process,” a power ministry statement stated.  This will go a long way in further facilitating Renewable Energy development and integration in the power system, it added. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/business/power-min-revises-terms-of-reference-of-nct-to-fast-track-planning–approval-of-power-transmission-projects.html  (29 Oct. 2021)

Amendments in EC Act proposed The Ministry of Power has proposed amendments to Energy Conservation Act, 2001 which include provision for specifying minimum quantum of renewable energy in the overall consumption by establishments and industrial units. The amendments are aimed at promoting consumption of renewable energy. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/power-ministry-proposes-amendments-in-ec-act-to-boost-renewable-energy-consumption-7654791.html  (30 Oct. 2021)

CBI files FIR on corruption charges against NTPC doctor “Preliminary enquiry conducted relating to the allegation of funding of air tickets by one Anoop Kumar through MakeMyTrip in June 2019, for foreign visit of Dr Narendra Mohan Singh….and his wife…on the assurance of getting labour contract in NTPC, it revealed that there was an annual rate contract for hiring tent House for a period from 13 August, 2018 to 12 August, 2020 and the bills…,” it said.

The bills raised by Sonkar’s firm were pending in NTPC with Dr Singh for approval during the period. “Enquiry further revealed that Anoop Kumar Sonkar made an online payment of Rs 1,49,621.70 from bank a/c…maintained in the name of Lucky Tent House with SBI, NTPC, UNchahar in favour of MakeMyTrip on 20 June, 2019. for the foreign tour of suspect officer Dr Singh and his wife to Malaysia and Singapore from 29 June, 2019 to 6 July, 2019,” the FIR claimed. During the investigation, the CBI claimed, it also came to light that a medical representative Shamsher Singh allegedly paid Rs 10 lakh to Dr Singh for getting the order of supply of medicines in return. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/cbi-files-fir-on-corruption-charges-against-ntpc-doctor-1045955.html  (30 Oct. 2021)

The CBI has booked nine officials of the NTPC for alleged involvement in financial irregularities in a 4,000-MW super thermal power plant project in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh. The accused have been identified as former DGM Bishwanath Prasad, DGM Shyama Nanda Mandal, assistant manager Mahesh Kumar Mishra, engineer Rupendra Kumar Sahu and junior engineers Kanak Saha, Harshvardhan Mathia, Sudhir Purohit and Laxmi Prasad Ratre.

The irregularities were first noticed during a physical verification, for which a report was submitted to the NTPC in July, 2016. Subsequently, two more verifications were carried out. In view of a significant shortfall in the two items, a committee was constituted to investigate the discrepancies. The loss on account of shortfall was pegged over ₹1 crore. The NTPC has raised suspicion on some other former officials whose role too may be probed by the CBI. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cbi-books-nine-ntpc-officials-for-alleged-corruption/article33843168.ece  (15 Feb. 2021)

CBI arrested the manager (safety) of NTPC, Barkagaon, Hazaribagh in Jharkhand for “demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 3 lakh from the complainant.” “It was alleged that the accused demanded undue advantage of Rs 7 lakh in lieu of payment of Rs 69.61 lakh (approx.) made to the complainant by the NTPC, Barkagaon, Hazaribagh for the supply of mask, sanitizers, PPE kits by his firm,” CBI said. https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/cbi-arrests-ntpc-manager-for-accepting-bribe-of-rs-3-lakh20200907220859/  (07 Sept. 2020)

CBI has arrested a manager with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur in connection with an alleged graft case. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cbi-arrests-ntpc-manager-in-graft-case/article32110742.ece  (17 July 2020)

CBI registered a corruption case against NTPC’s director for finance Kulamani Biswal, a highprofile executive who had served in senior positions at Coal India and the central power regulator before he was appointed on the board of the power major four years ago.

Biswal, 52, allegedly demanded Rs 5 lakh in foreign currency, on the eve of an overseas trip, from BGR Mining & Infra, which is part of a consortium with NCC that was recently awarded a project relating to mine development and operation of Talaipalli coal block by NSE 0.90 %.  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/cbi-files-corruption-case-against-ntpc-director-kulamani-biswal/articleshow/61991241.cms   (09 Dec. 2017)

Punjab CM approves termination of PPA with GVK for the Goindwal Sahib Power Plant CM Charanjit Singh Channi on Saturday (Oct. 30) approved the PSPCL’s proposal to terminate GVK Goindwal Sahib (2×270 MW) Power Purchase Agreement. Subsequently, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has issued a termination notice to the company. Notably, a preliminary default notice has been served by PSPCL to GVK for cancellation of PPA due to high power cost and falling lowest in the merit order, procurement of energy from GVK that had been restricted only within the range of 25 per cent to 30 per cent during most of the times of a year resulting in higher tariff of about Rs.7.52 per unit for last year. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/punjab-cm-charanjit-singh-channi-approves-termination-of-ppa-with-gvk-for-the-goindwal-sahib-power-plant-332019  (30 Oct. 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Uttarakhand NTCA panel confirms illegal construction at Corbett Confirming illegal road and building construction in Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR), an inspection team from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which recently visited the reserve in the period between September 26 and 30, to probe allegations of illegality, said it found the claims to be true. The committee report, signed on October 22, addressed to ADG forests (Project Tiger) and member secretary, NTCA, confirms violation of some of the most stringent forest and wildlife laws of the country. Going further, the committee also recommended a ‘vigilance enquiry’ for the violations. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ntca-panel-confirms-illegal-construction-at-corbett-recommends-vigilance-enquiry/articleshow/87230062.cms  (24 Oct. 2021)

High Court has set aside an order by the chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which transferred the case of 2002-batch Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi to the tribunal’s Delhi bench. The division bench of Chief Justice RS Chauhan and NS Dhanik while setting aside the order by CAT chairman L Narsimha Reddy stated that the reasoning contained in the order dated December 4, 2020 is “legally unsustainable”. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/oct/31/legally-unsustainable-uttarakhand-hc-sets-aside-cat-order-in-ifs-officers-plea-2377806.html  (31 Oct. 2021)

Arunachal Villagers oppose dumping at designated site The District Urban Development Agency (DUDA) here in Upper Subansiri district has been unable to dispose of garbage for months, reportedly due to opposition from the villagers to dumping of garbage at the designated dumping ground. Several garbage-laden trucks have remained parked for months inside the DUDA’s vendor building complex here.

 Dosh Dasi said that a dumping ground was constructed by the DUDA at Riddi village, around 10 kms from here, a few years ago after properly acquiring a plot of land there. But the villagers have now started to vehemently oppose dumping of garbage at the site, saying that they had donated the land unaware of the fact that the dumping ground may cause environmental hazards in the future. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2021/10/31/garbage-rotting-on-duda-trucks-as-villagers-oppose-dumping-at-designated-site/  (21 Oct. 2021)

Assam A quiet ‘Chipko movement’ to stop 6,000 Sal trees from felling Photographs have emerged of people hugging trees in Assam’s Dabaka district to protest against the government’s proposed plan of cutting around 6,000 Sal (a timber variety) trees, some of which are around 100 years old, to widen a national highway. The protest is reminiscent of the 1970s Chipko Movement when demonstrators embraced trees to impede loggers.

People hug trees in Assam’s Dabaka district to protest against government’s plan to cut around 6,000 Sal trees | Facebook | Debajit Saikia

The government proposes to turn a 13-km-long two-lane highway, which links Hojai to Karbi Anglong in Assam, into a four-lane stretch after chopping the trees. The two-lane highway cuts through the Dabaka reserve forest that is home to pangolins, porcupines, leopards, hornbills, and the endangered Hoolock Gibbon monkey, and is also an elephant corridor. https://theprint.in/neye/a-quiet-chipko-movement-brewing-in-assam-to-stop-6000-sal-trees-from-felling/759048/  (30 Oct. 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

COP 26 Can’t Ignore the Need to Place Grassroots Communities If we consider farmers, what does tilling land and food security in drought prone areas look like? With fisherfolk, how does one plan for good fishing practices so that fish species don’t go extinct and impact the long term livelihoods of coastal fishing communities? How do we ensure children get educated when they are made to stay at home because a drought in the region resulted in large family debt, forcing the children to work instead of study? Most of these are not part of any global – or even national – climate conversation, but they are all first-order impacts of climate change which aren’t being solved for.  https://thewire.in/environment/cop26-cant-ignore-the-need-to-place-grassroots-communities-at-the-centre-of-talks  (30 Oct. 2021)

India’s balancing act and dialogue on material support India today ranks among the few countries on track to meet most of the climate commitments it made under the Paris Agreement. The country’s renewable expansion rate, among the world’s fastest, has translated into 100 GW of installed renewable capacity and is on track to a stated goal of 175 GW. There is an even more ambitious target — installed renewable capacity of 450 GW by 2030. The 450 GW target would mean that India would generate 60% of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, well beyond the 40% target in its Paris pledge. Apart from renewable energy, the National Hydrogen Mission has placed green hydrogen at the core of India’s energy security, and could emerge as a strong alternative to address India’s energy needs. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/at-cop-26-india-s-balancing-act-and-dialogue-on-material-support-101635422807990.html  (28 Oct. 2021)

ASIA

Turkey Grain yield in Turkey at risk due to drought: Experts A forecast by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) has raised concerns on an imminent decline in crop production across the country due to drought. The data obtained show that the output of cereal products will decrease by 15 percent this year compared to last year and will be around 31.6 million tons. It is expected that wheat production will decrease by 13.9 percent to 17.7 million tons, barley production will decrease by 30.7 percent to 5.8 million tons, rye production will decrease by 32.4 percent to 200,000 tons and oat production will decrease by 9.1 percent to 286,000 tons.

The reason for the decrease in production lies in the winter and spring seasons and the droughts that are still continuing in some provinces. Forecasts do not yet include the danger of fertilizers for cereals and pulses, which are currently in planting season, but it is estimated that increasing fertilizer prices will also reduce the yield of next year. https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/grain-yield-in-turkey-at-risk-due-to-drought-experts-168938  (28 Oct. 2021)

Lake Tuz dries up due to climate change, farming The 1,665 square km (643 sq mile) lake — Turkey’s second-largest lake and home to several bird species — has entirely receded this year. Experts say Lake Tuz (Salt Lake in Turkish) is a victim of climate change-induced drought, which has hit the region hard, and decades of harmful agricultural policies that have exhausted underground water supply.

“There were about 50,000 young flamingos. They all perished because there was no water,” said Mr. Tunc, who also heads the regional branch of the Turkish environmental group Doga Dernegi. “It was an incredibly bad scene. It’s not something I can erase from my life. I hope I do not come across such a scene again.”

Several other lakes across Turkey have similarly dried up or have receded to alarming levels, affected by low precipitation and unsustainable irrigation practices. Climate experts warn that the entire Mediterranean basin, which includes Turkey, is particularly at risk of severe drought and desertification. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/turkeys-lake-tuz-dries-up-due-to-climate-change-farming/article37206570.ece  (28 Oct. 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Fight to save Salmon FASCINATING: “Today, the salmon in the waters around Lapwai are endangered. A network of hydropower dams built with federal funds between 1934 and 1984, coupled with warming temperatures and changing ocean chemistry, are sending Idaho’s wild salmon rapidly toward extinction. Only 20% of the salmon that swim above the dams are wild—fish that reproduce in cool mountain streambeds and not in the concrete tanks of a hatchery—and there is growing concern among fish biologists that they will be gone in a decade. As the dams have gone up, tribes have demanded protections for fish. In the creation story passed down from generation to generation among the Nez Perce, the salmon in these waters used to speak, but they gave their voices to humans. “Now,” says Wheeler, the tribe’s vice chairman, “we need to speak for the fish.””

Lytle Denny spears one of three wild chinook the Shoshone-Bannock tribe can take in the season. PHOTOGRAPH BY KILIII YÜYAN FOR TIME

– “Nearly 2,500 miles east, an unlikely coalition has come together in Washington, D.C., to do exactly that. The Nez Perce and 14 other Pacific Northwest tribal nations have joined forces with U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson (R., Idaho), the National Congress of American Indians, sports-fishing enthusiasts and river conservationists in a long-shot bid to convince President Joe Biden and lawmakers to step in and breach four hydropower dams on the Snake River, easing the path for wild salmon to make the 1,600-mile round trip from Idaho’s glacier-fed mountain streams to the Pacific Ocean and back.” https://time.com/6105484/pacific-salmon-endangered-washington/  (18 Oct. 2021)

Technology, agribusiness and what we eat The story of American agriculture and the global food system that it created is a stark warning to the rest of the world. “Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal” by Mark Bittman is a history of processed food and industrialised farming over the last century and a bit, and their reckless remaking of nature and society. It’s a pacy and absorbing story of how the industrial imperative swallowed farming, with mechanisation, growth and monoculture. Early adopters of tractors or any other technology gain an advantage and sell huge quantities, but as everyone adopted the methods, prices would fall and lead to margins so thin that only the biggest producers stayed profitable.

– The largest beneficiaries have been the biggest farmers. The US state encouragement of bigger, more similar, fewer farms lead to the demise of the self-sufficient, decentralised world.

– A chapter also deals with Green Revolution, bad for both health of the soil and the people. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/87371972.cms  (29 Oct. 2021)

NILE ‘Satellites reveal risky land subsidence near GERD’ The Professor of Remote Sensing and Earth Systems Sciences at Chapman University in the US, Hisham al-Askary warned of risks surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, due to land subsidence beneath the dam.

– He explained that the GERD project consists of a concrete dam body and a rocky saddle dam, which has greatly increased the storage capacity behind the concrete dam yet may prove very dangerous to the earth crust in the area that surrounds it as it suffers from cracks in the ground. “A synthetic-aperture radar was able to provide us with multiple data about the variation in the rates of subsidence and height of the land in the area of ​​​​the construction of the Renaissance Dam from 2017 to 2021″, he continued. https://www.egyptindependent.com/satellites-reveal-risky-land-subsidence-near-gerd-egyptian-professor/  (29 Oct. 2021)

Study Meandering rivers more efficient carbon sinks than straightened ones Researchers at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences have now quantified the individual processes of the journey for the first time and report on them in the journal Nature Geoscience. An important result of the work: It is in particular undisturbed meandering sections of a river where carbon is deposited and reabsorbed, and then transported further into the sea. In river sections with straight, stable banks, on the other hand, only the suspended particle load passes through, while the carbon in the river floodplains is slowly decomposed again to CO2 by microorganisms.

GFZ working group leader Dirk Sachse says that “the Río Bermejo was an ideal natural laboratory for us because it has no significant tributaries.” Sachse is also director of the “Landscapes of the Future” topic in the Helmholtz program “Changing Earth—Sustaining Our Future.” He says that “this means that natural river courses that have space to erode floodplains can remove more carbon from the atmosphere than straight river sections. In this respect, straightening of rivers by humans could also contribute to the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. What’s exciting now is answering the question of whether we can help the climate by giving rivers more space again and not impeding natural river meandering.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211029113959.htm (30 Oct. 2021)

Award-Winning Ecology Photos Remind Us That Nature Is Awesome—and Complicated https://gizmodo.com/award-winning-ecology-photos-remind-us-that-nature-is-a-1847963791  (29 Oct. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 25 Oct. 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 18 Oct.  2021  

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

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