DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 15 Nov 2021: District Level Vulnerability Assessment in India

This is the kind of study that was long overdue. In fact such a study should have been done before formulating India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) as SANDRP has been saying since 2009 (see SANDRP critique of NAPCC published under the title “THERE IS NO HOPE HERE) when NAPCC was made public by a dozen wise individuals sitting in a room without any participatory or transparent exercise. One hopes that India will restart the exercise of fresh formulation of NAPCC after doing such a study on an urgent basis, on the lines of the study described below. In any case one hopes the union and state governments will wake up and take up District level vulnerability assessment in India in an independent way on urgent basis.

“This study undertakes a first-of-its-kind district-level vulnerability assessment of India, which maps exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity using spatio-temporal analysis. To do this, we developed a climate vulnerability index (CVI) of Indian states and Union Territories (UTs). Instead of looking at climate extremes in isolation, we map the combined risk of hydro-met disasters and their compounded impacts on vulnerability. By doing so, we aim to inform policy goals in the resource-constrained context of India.

– Climate action needs to be scaled up both at the sub-national and district levels to mitigate the impact of extreme events. An analysis suggests that three out of four districts in India are extreme event hotspots, with 40% of the districts exhibiting a swapping trend, i.e., traditionally flood-prone areas are witnessing more frequent and intense droughts and vice-versa. Further, the IPCC states with high confidence that every degree rise in temperature will lead to a three per cent increase in precipitation, causing increased intensification of cyclones and floods.

– Various studies have highlighted the importance of robust micro-level vulnerability assessments. Given the absence of such an assessment in India, this study undertakes an integrated mapping of exposure (the nature and degree to which a system is exposed), sensitivity (the degree to which a system is affected), and adaptive capacity (the ability of a system to adjust to climate change) using spatio-temporal analysis. We capture the combined risk of hydro-met disasters and their compounded impact on districts’ climate vulnerability.

– Our analysis suggests that the CVIs of Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Bihar are in the high range, making them the five most vulnerable states in India. However, there are marginal differences in the vulnerability of these states, so it is imperative to step up climate action in all of them. The CVI also helps map the vulnerability of populations residing in Indian districts. We find that more than 80% of India’s population lives in districts highly vulnerable to extreme hydro-met disasters.

– The analysis shows that 27 of 35 states and UTs are highly vulnerable to extreme hydro-met disasters and their compounded impacts. Our analysis suggests that India’s western and central zones are more vulnerable to drought-like conditions and their compounding impacts. The northern and north-eastern zones are more vulnerable to extreme flood events and their compounding impacts. Meanwhile, India’s eastern and southern zones are highly vulnerable to extreme cyclonic events and their impacts. The eastern and southern zones are also becoming extremely prone to cyclones, floods, and droughts combined. We find that the southern and western regions are the most vulnerable to extreme droughts and are affected year on year. These regions are predominantly affected by agricultural droughts. Since the 2000s, the northern, eastern, and central zones have been moderately vulnerable and are predominantly affected by meteorological and agricultural droughts. The north-eastern region is least vulnerable to extreme drought events.

– A surge in extreme events has been observed across India after 2005. Our sensitivity analysis shows that this is primarily triggered by landscape disruptions. Various studies have confirmed the impact of landscape changes on the incidence of extreme events. Other factors, such as the urban heat island effect, land subsidence, and microclimate changes, are also triggering the intensification of extreme events in India. Building India’s climate resilience In an increasingly volatile climate landscape, hyper-local strategies can minimise impacts and avert or reduce loss and damage. This will enable communities to map, plan and adapt against the climate extremes.

– Based on our analysis, we make the following recommendations: Develop a high-resolution Climate Risk Atlas (CRA) to map critical vulnerabilities at the district level and better identify, assess, and project chronic and acute risks such as extreme climate events, heat and water stress, crop loss, vector-borne diseases and biodiversity collapse. A CRA can also support coastal monitoring and forecasting, which are indispensable given the rapid intensification of cyclones and other extreme events. Establish a centralised climate-risk commission to coordinate the environmental de-risking mission.

Undertake climate-sensitivity-led landscape restoration focused on rehabilitating, restoring, and reintegrating natural ecosystems as part of the developmental process. Integrate climate risk profiling with infrastructure planning to increase adaptive capacity.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/ht-insight/climate-change/mapping-india-s-climate-vulnerability-a-district-level-assessment-101636642145178.html  (11 Nov. 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

COP 26 Greens reject greenwashing of destructive hydro industry  Reiterating concerns raised around the beginning of the conference by U.N. human rights experts, a diverse coalition of 346 organizations from 78 countries issued a joint statement warning that “the hydropower industry is gearing up for a massive greenwashing effort to present its destructive product—which has been shown time and again to destroy ecosystems and communities—as the pathway out of our predicaments.” “Funding hydroelectric power construction would not only fail to prevent catastrophic climate change,” the statement says, “it would also worsen the climate crisis by exploding methane emissions and diverting scarce climate funds away from meaningful energy and water solutions in a world that is already grappling with severe impacts of climate change.”

“We call instead for just and sustainable solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises that recognize and support the role of natural systems and free-flowing rivers in promoting climate resiliency and mitigation and center the invaluable role of Indigenous peoples and traditional communities on the frontlines of these crises,” the statement continues. While highlighting the harms of dams—from exacerbating methane emissions and jeopardizing freshwater species to violating the human rights of impacted communities—the statement emphasizes that “free-flowing rivers and natural lakes have immense value for the welfare of the ecosystems they sustain, humankind, and survival on the planet.” https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/11/09/hundreds-groups-reject-greenwashing-destructive-hydropower-industry-cop26  (09 Nov. 2021)

Ashish Kothari writes: India’s net zero pledge at Glasgow raises questions about techno-financial feasibility and other doubts https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/narendra-modi-cop26-climate-change-carbon-emissions-7618767/  (13 Nov. 2021)

India’s Obsession With Coal And Delhi’s Air Pollution by Manoj Misra https://thedialogue.co.in/article/N7j4gRC1Krcg3sJRS5fz/indias-obsession-with-coal-and-delhis-air-pollution-?s=08  (15 Nov. 2021)

The Centre on Tuesday (Nov 9, 2021) clarified that India has not signed up to a sustainable agriculture policy action agenda during the COP-26 Climate Summit in Glasgow. https://theprint.in/india/centre-clarifies-india-has-not-signed-up-for-cop26-action-agenda-on-sustainable-agriculture/763651/  (09 Nov. 2021)

Alok Sharma, President at COP26 warns China’s Xi and India’s Modi that they will have to ‘justify’ scheming that forced nations to accept ‘watered down’ deal over coal use to protect their coal interests. The Glasgow Pact was watered down at the last minute with the wording on a section covering unabated coal – the burning of coal without climate change mitigating technology – changed from ‘phase out’ to ‘phase down’, leading to angry responses from European and vulnerable countries. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10200421/Alok-Sharma-says-China-India-justify-scheming-watered-Cop26-deal.html  (14 Nov. 2021)

Arunachal Pradesh Govt adopts declaration on climate change The state government adopted a landmark, dubbed the ‘Pakke Tiger Reserve 2047 Ministerial Declaration on Climate Change Resilient and Responsive Arunachal’ in its cabinet meeting held at the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) here in Pakke-Kessang district on Saturday (Nov. 13). The declaration is aimed at “accelerating comprehensive, smart, climate resilient and inclusive development of the people and the state with all-round efforts,” the PCCF office in Itanagar said in a release.

“These respective domains are underpinned by 75 highly pragmatic and achievable strategic engagements towards climate change adaptation and mitigation in Arunachal Pradesh,” he added. “The action plans would be implemented with sector-wise resource allocation within respective budgetary envelopes for coordinated, systemic, sustained, and ambitious engagements in the state to urgently tackle and mitigate climate change impacts in the state and realize climate resilient and responsive landscapes in tune with the national policies on climate change response,” he said.

The cabinet also adopted the rare Kaiser-i-Hind butterfly (Teinopalpus imperialis) as the state butterfly and “e-Cabinet for greater efficiency to the government decision-making processes and make them more green, climate friendly, efficient and transparent,” according to the release. Further, the government has renamed the environment & forests department as the environment, forest & climate change department to provide greater impetus to the climate change response institutional arrangements. It also unveiled a new logo and flag for the forest force of the state government. The logo reflects the state symbols and the new name of the department. The insignia has the imprint of a Hollong tree, a Hoolock gibbon, the Great hornbill and the foxtail orchid. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2021/11/14/goap-adopts-declaration-on-climate-change-kaiser-i-hind-adopted-as-state-butterfly/  (14 Nov. 2021)

Report Adapt or Abandon? A Hard Choice in the Himalaya  The latest IPCC climate report warns that more changes will come to the Himalaya – and anthropologists believe there will be complex consequences. “Climate change is not just a natural science phenomenon about increased temperatures and glacier melt. It is also a cultural and social phenomenon.” Many Himalayan communities are deeply reliant on the land, so their calendars are synced to nature’s rhythms. And climate change is changing these rhythms. https://science.thewire.in/environment/adapt-or-abandon-a-hard-choice-in-the-himalaya/  (04 Nov. 2021)

Uttarakhand Dealing with climate fury: Why small is big This microcosm from a lesser-known mountainous region such as Kumaon represents the macrocosm — where humanity wears a macabre face and ravages the nature. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/dealing-with-climate-fury-why-small-is-big-80135  (10 Nov. 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Subansiri HEP Our laws fail to address issues in Northeast: Ritwick Dutta “There is no judicial or expert member in the NGT from any state of the Northeast. Against this backdrop, hardly anyone can convince the NGT on various environmental issues of the region,” Ritwick Dutta said. “We are facing many issues when the court hears the case of the Lower Subansiri (Hydropower dam) project. It was because the judicial officers of NGT do not know much about Assam and the Northeast,” Dutta also said. He added that in many instances, the people will have to take a proactive role to make their voices heard in the corridors of power. https://www.eastmojo.com/assam/2021/11/09/our-laws-fail-to-address-issues-in-northeast-lawyer-ritwick-dutta/  (09 Nov. 2021)

Major components will be ready in due time NHPC claims that two units (total 500 MW) of the 8 units of the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri project will be commissioned by Aug 2022 and full project by Aug 2023. The project cost has already gone above Rs 20 000 Crores, the cost of power from the project likely to be unviable. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/major-components-of-subansiri-lower-project-will-be-ready-in-due-time-nhpc/articleshow/87630578.cms  (10 Nov. 2021)

Arunachal Pradesh Compensation to DA causes uproar; deposit based on GoAP’s calculations, says NHPC A tweet by Roing MLA Mutchu Mithi, stating that Rs 220 crore has been deposited in the account of the Lower Dibang Valley (LDV) district administration by the NHPC as compensation amount has caused uproar among the project-affected families (PAF) and the public alike. The PAFs said that they are not in a position to say anything on the subject as they haven’t received the information officially but only through social media. “We will have to discuss the matter amongst ourselves and with the district administration before we can say anything about it,” said a PAF representative. NHPC ED Janesh Sahani confirmed that the amount has indeed been deposited in the LDV DA’s account.

When asked on what basis Rs 220 crore was fixed instead of the earlier stated Rs 329 crore, Sahani said that the NHPC has “amicably settled” the issues of parameters with the PAFs and the state government. “The PAFs have already agreed to that amount set for those parameters. The state government had stated that there were some mistakes in the earlier award. Now the state government has given us a demand note, stating that, according to their calculation of parameters, the compensation money amounts to Rs 220 crore. We acted accordingly and paid up the money. We do not have any role in this. We are not involved as it is a state subject. We only follow and act on the state government’s calculations,” he said.

Sahani further said, “Rs 329 crore is out of question. Rs 220 crore is the final amount of compensation for LDV. The PAFs can take it or leave it; it is up to them as we have already handed over the money to them.” He added that all the PAFs know about the change in the amount. “There has been no objection from the PAFs of LDV, not even in court. The court has clearly said that, if there is no objection and if nobody has approached the court, the PAFs can take their money.” Sahani confirmed that, with the payment of Rs 220 crore by the NHPC, the compensation for LDV has been completed by the construction giant. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2021/11/15/compensation-to-da-causes-uproar-deposit-based-on-goaps-calculations-says-nhpc/  (15 Nov. 2021)

Manipur ‘Revoke MoUs for mega dams, oil exploration, mining, agri-business’

(PHOTO: IFP)

The Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRA) and the Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights in Manipur (YFPHR) have called for revoking of all MoUs for mega dams, oil exploration, mining, agri-business, namely oil-palm. During a “Consultation on Climate Change in Manipur in Context of COP26 of UNFCC” held at the Manipur Press Club, Imphal on Monday (Nov. 8), the two bodies stated that the MoUs were pursued without the people’s consent. https://www.ifp.co.in/10818/revoke-mous-for-mega-dams-oil-exploration-mining-agri-business  (09 Nov. 2021)

Nagaland Land owners oppose plan to divest Doyang HEP Reacting to the state-run NTPC drawing a Rs 15,000 crore divestment plan to list North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) Limited, which runs Doyang Hydro-Electric Plant (DHEP), by March 2024, the Land Owners’ Union (LOU), DHEP has appealed to the state government to impress upon the Centre against selling/divestment of DHEP to any private entities. The union has strongly demanded withdrawal of the disinvestment/privatization of DHEP to any private entities by NTPC Ltd., which it said was against the interest and breach of trust with 17 land affected villages of DHEP by NEEPCO Ltd. and government of Nagaland. https://www.nagalandpost.com/land-owners-oppose-plan-to-divest-doyang-hydro-electric-plant/244243.html  (09 Nov. 2021)

Karnataka Power project along Sharavathi river faces green hurdle The proposed 2000 MW pump storage project of Karnataka Power Corp Ltd on the Sharawathi River will destroy some prime natural forests and biodiversity therein. There are better options available than going for such destructive, unviable projects. This report also provides example of better options.

–  “While the clearances are awaited for Sharavathi, we have already resolved to set up a 25 MW power storage battery unit in Pavagada,” Kumar said. The minister said the government will give more of a push to similar power storage mechanisms under the new renewable energy policy scheduled to be unveiled later this year, or early 2022, to ensure energy security. “We are expecting more private players to get involved in setting up the storage mechanisms for energy,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/power-project-along-sharavathi-river-faces-green-hurdle/articleshow/87615919.cms  (10 Nov. 2021)

Union Power Minister pushes for hydro projects at NHPC raising day, as expected. He or NHPC seem to have no concern about their nonviability, destructive nature or climate disaster they will bring. NHPC talks about talks with Bihar govt for a 3000 MW in Kaimur in BIhar. https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/india-needs-to-tap-hydro-resources-to-achieve-500-gw-re-capacity-target-says-r-k-singh/2364789/  (08 Nov. 2021)

Uttarakhand  छिरकिला बांध में समाई तवाघाटसोबलादारमा सड़क सीमांत में चौथे दिन भी बारिश जारी रही। धारचूला में तो मूसलधार बारिश हो रही है। धारचूला नगर के तलकोट वार्ड के एलधार में लगातार पहाड़ दरक रहा है। नगर के कुछ परिवारों को सुरक्षित स्थान पर रख दिया गया है। मल्ली बाजार में आवाजाही बंद करा दी गई है। धौलीगंगा जल विद्युत परियोजना के बांध स्थल छिरकिला में तवाघाट-सोबला-दारमा सड़क का कई मीटर हिस्सा बांध में समा गया है। मुनस्यारी के धापा गांव में सुबह गिरे बोल्डरों से एक मकान और दुकान ध्वस्त हो चुके हैं। पांच अन्य परिवारों के मकान खतरे में आ गए हैं। जिले में 20 सड़कें बंद हैं। आम जनजीवन प्रभावित हो चुका है। काली नदी चेतावनी लेवल पर बह रही है। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/pithoragarh-part-of-tawaghat-sobla-darma-road-broken-21970783.html  (28 Aug. 2021)

MoEF Agenda for EAC on River Valley Projects to be held on Nov 15, 2021:

1. 1000 MW Gandikota Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, in an area of 190 ha, located at village Kondapuram, Tehsil Muddanur, Dist Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh by New & Renewable Energy Development Corp of AP Ltd – Terms of Reference

2. 800 MW Owk Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, in an area of 390 ha, located at village & Teh Owk, Dist Kurnool Andhra Pradesh by New & Renewable Energy Development Corp of AP Ltd – Terms of Reference

3. Teesta Low Dam – I & II (Combined) Hydro-Electric Project 71 MW (2×30+1x11MW) in an area of 170 ha by W Bengal Electricity Distribution Company Ltd in Triveni town, Tehsil Rangli Rangliot, District Darjeeling – Terms of Reference http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/0911202144489435AgendaRiverValley19thEAC.pdf 

DAMS

Report Rehabilitation of dams on with World Bank loans “Additionally, in most cases there has been minimal investment in operations and maintenance of structures since dam commissioning. High safety standards for large dams are imperative to prevent failure, which may cause devastating damage to environment and property, leading to economic hardship, and, in extreme cases, loss of life. An ever-increasing number of people are living and working in areas that would face sudden and severe flooding in the event of a dam failure,” the World Bank report on India’s dams said.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/rehabilitation-of-dams-on-with-world-bank-funds/articleshow/87635066.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

Mekedatu Project Parties back to padayatra politics  This is sad state of affairs around the proposed controversial Mekedatu Dam on already over dammed Cauvery river. While opposition Congress and JDU are indulging in padyatras to score political points, BJP is also happily playing along, only complaining that Congress should not do padyatra as it is pushing the project. In all this din, there is no discussion about the need for the project, its destructive impacts, viability, legal sanction, alternatives and so on. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/major-parties-are-back-to-padayatra-politics-spar-over-mekedatu-delay/articleshow/87615913.cms  (10 Nov. 2021)

Mullaperiyar Dam Kerala asks SC to decommission Mullaperiyar Kerala has rightly told the Supreme Court about the limits to the usefulness of dam that is over 125 years old and urgent need to decommission it. One hopes the SC does not depend on the same pro dam Central Water Commission to decide this issue and rather goes for independent assessment.  https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/kerala-asks-sc-to-decommission-mullaperiyar-dam-1048912.html  (09 Nov. 2021)

In an affidavit, the state government said, “If water level at Mullaperiyar is kept at a higher level, releases from it will be affecting the already filled Idukki reservoir. In the worst case of a cascading failure of Mullaperiyar and Idukki, it will result in a catastrophe which is beyond imagination affecting the life and property of 50 lakh people residing below the Idukki dam”.https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/mullaperiyar-dams-lifespan-should-not-be-rejuvenated-kerala-tells-sc-157415  (09 Nov. 2021)

A flood warning has been issued by Kerala as the water level in the Mullaperiyar Dam reached 140 feet at 9 am on Sunday, November 14.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/mullaperiyar-dam-level-reaches-140ft-first-flood-warning-issued-157586  (14 Nov. 2021)

As per the data made available to Kerala by Tamil Nadu, 97.655 litre of water per minute are reaching the gallery having 10 feet height. In the second gallery, the water reached per minute is 31.752 litre. According to Kerala, the leak was 89 litre per minute five years ago. So, Kerala argues that the data regarding leak now provided by Tamil Nadu is wrong.

Even Tamil Nadu admits that every year 35 tonnes of lime are seeping through the gallery of the dam built 126 years ago using limestone surkhi-mixture. Now the leaking is prevented by making boreholes in the seepage area first and then plastering the areas with cement glue. Mullaperiyar Special Cell former chairman M K Parameswaran Nair said that at present it was not possible to correctly quantify the amount of seepage water in the Mullaperiyar Dam. https://www.onmanorama.com/news/kerala/2021/11/15/mullaperiyar-dam-leak-kerala-tamil-nadu.html  (15 Nov. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Government on Saturday (Nov. 13) stood firm by its position in the Supreme Court that the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is “hydrologically, structurally and seismically safe”. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tamil-nadu-is-firm-that-mullaperiyar-dam-is-safe/article37471034.ece  (13 Nov. 2021)

Oral History of Narmada Girishbhai Patel, popularly known as the PIL man of Gujarat was a renowned human rights lawyer of Gujarat. Importantly, Girishbhai was into the thick of all important people’s movements of Gujarat since the time of India’s independence; be it the Adhyapak Movement to the Maha Gujarat Andolan, Navnirman Andolan to the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). Founder of Lok Adhikar Sangh, Girishbhai during his life time filed over two hundred public interest litigations for the rights of the marginalised and protection of environment. His involvement went beyond just legal actions, and he actively and directly participated in many struggles of the marginalised communities of Gujarat. Founding member and ideologue of NBA, Girishbhai’s role in the movement has been phenomenal. https://oralhistorynarmada.in/strategies-of-the-movement/girishbhai-patel-1938-2018/ 

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Link UP को 750 एमसीएम पानी देने पर मुहर लगाएगी MP कैबिनेट पानी बंटवारे को लेकर हुए समझौते के तहत मध्य प्रदेश सरकार परियोजना से 750 एमसीएम (मिलियन क्यूबिक मीटर यानी 750 अरब लीटर) पानी उत्तर प्रदेश को देने का प्रस्ताव कैबिनेट से पारित करेगी। प्रस्ताव इस माह के अंत तक कैबिनेट बैठक में प्रस्तुत किया जा सकता है। प्रस्ताव पारित होने के बाद परियोजना का भूमिपूजन प्रधानमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी कर सकते हैं। कार्यक्रम संभवतः झांसी (उत्तर प्रदेश) में होगा।

Image source:- Nai Duniya

– परियोजना : एक नजर में: अनुमानित लागत : 35,111 करोड़ रुपये केंद्र सरकार देगी : 90 प्रतिशत राशि दोनों राज्य सरकारें देंगी : पांच-पांच प्रतिशत राशि केन बेसिन से उत्तर प्रदेश में सिंचाई : 2.27 लाख हेक्टेयर केन बेसिन से मध्य प्रदेश में सिंचाई : 4.47 लाख हेक्टेयर बेतवा बेसिन से मध्य प्रदेश में सिंचाई : 2.06 लाख हेक्टेयर https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/bhopal-mp-cabinet-to-give-approval-to-give-750-mcm-water-to-up-pm-modi-can-do-bhoomipujan-of-ken-betwa-link-project-7125166  (11 Nov. 2021)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Krishna Water Dispute Telangana Minister Demands a Tribunal Telangana Finance and health Minister T Harish Rao Friday (Nov. 11) said that the Centre has to set up a tribunal immediately to address Krishna river water share demand as the state withdrew its case from the Supreme Court. Addressing a press conference, Harish Rao said that the Centre delayed it for seven years. It ignored our appeal made in 42 days of state formation on the same and Telangana moved Supreme Court in 2015. However, there was no decision from the Centre on the issue and we cleared the way by withdrawing the case, he said. Then water resources minister Uma Bharathi failed to react to our appeal and now the Centre has to take a call, he appealed. https://www.news18.com/news/politics/no-truth-in-shekhawat-jibe-on-kcr-over-krishna-river-row-minister-demands-a-tribunal-4436720.html  (12 Nov. 2021)

Karnataka CM asks Centre not to approve ‘illegal water projects of other states “Tamil Nadu is going ahead with the Cauvery-Vaigai-Gundar link project, which is inadmissible in law. The Karnataka government, in a letter dated February 17, urged the Centre not to approve the proposal” said Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai at the 29th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council on Nov 14, 2021. The CM also mentioned the Rajiv Gandhi Sangama Banda barrage proposed by Telangana and the Gundrevula project undertaken by Andhra Pradesh across Tungabhadra river, and highlighted their “illegitimate” status. “No projects in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh in Krishna water are permissible if they are not part of allocation,” Bommai pointed out. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bommai-asks-centre-not-to-approve-illegal-water-projects-of-other-states/articleshow/87705798.cms  (15 Nov. 2021)

Participating at the Southern Zonal Council meeting chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah at the temple town of Tirupati, Jagan Mohan Reddy said water inflows into the reservoirs should be monitored every fortnight and release of water should be on a proportionate basis to maintain a balanced approach. Currently, the upper riparian states will release surplus waters in the event of floods and impound water till all their needs are met in the event of deficit inflows, he said. With regard to the Inchampalli (river Godavari)–Nagarjunasagar (river Krishna) link to carry surplus Godavari and Mahanadi waters to deficit river basins of Krishna, Pennar, Cauvery and Vaigi, Jagan Mohan Reddy wanted the Centre to explore linking the river Godavari to Srisailam and take to other basins through Pothireddypadu which he said would be cost effective. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/151121/jagan-mohan-suggests-plan-to-share-river-water-among-states.html  (15 Nov. 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Pune Chorus against riverfront project grows louder Noted environmentalists and activists have been raising grave concerns against the Pune Municipal Corporation’s ambitious, multi-crore Pune River Front Development project, whose objective is to clean and rejuvenate the 44-km stretch of the city’s polluted rivers. Mr. Yadwadkar along with other activists have already filed a PIL in the NGT opposing the project, says that a river offers enormous scope for exploitation by political parties of all hues as well as the bureaucracy. Despite’s Pune abundant water availability owing to the city lying along the banks of five rivers, having seven upstream dams and being ringed by hills, the city has been witnessing the dark side of precipitation lately, with 25 people being killed and property worth crores of rupees destroyed by sudden floods owing to intense bouts of rain in 2019.

Demanding to know how the PMC could go ahead with the tendering in the riverfront project, noted RTI activist Vivek Velankar of ‘Sajag Nagrik Manch’ said that the civic body’s move was astonishing given the intense discussions on the project for the last few years. “While many environmentalists were protesting, were the engineers concerned [of the PMC] asleep till the tender notice was issued? While approving ₹4,727 crore for this project, why did not any corporator from the PMC feel the need to take necessary information from environmentalists and experts and discuss the potential dangers to the city and its residents arising from the project in the general body meeting,” questioned Mr. Velankar.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/chorus-against-punes-riverfront-project-grows-louder/article37374242.ece  (08 Nov. 2021)

Greens write to CPCB, SPCB against use of Glyphosate Noted environmentalists and activists have been raising grave concerns against the Pune Municipal Corporation’s ambitious, multi-crore Pune River Front Development project, whose objective is to clean and rejuvenate the 44-km stretch of the city’s polluted rivers.

For a long time, they have contended that the project, ostensibly intended to purify and restore the natural flow of the city’s rivers, would only result in the rise of floodwater levels while irreversibly destroying the rich biodiversity along the riverbank. However, the PMC, refusing to pay heed to them, has started the tendering process for the project.

After the environmentalists approached the State Water Resources Department (WRD) with their concerns, the WRD warned the civic body that it would be “solely responsible for any loss of life or property” owing to any flood-like situation arising due to the project.

The Department told the PMC last week that it has been informed of debris being dumped alongside the Mutha riverbed which was obstructing the water flow.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-environmentalists-central-state-pollution-boards-glyphosate-water-bodies-7612650/  (08 Nov. 2021)

They said glyphosate has been linked to probable carcinogenicity, endocrine disruption, kidney and liver damage, reproductive health problems and neurological effects. “While a threat on the health front for humans, it also poses a greater threat to aquatic life and our river ecosystem. The continuous use of glyphosate also means groundwater quality will be at risk and this damage could be irreversible,” they said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pollution-control-boards-urged-to-end-use-of-glyphosate-in-water-bodies-7613538/  (08 Nov. 2021)

Pimpri Over 150 acres of land near 3 rivers become residential zones Over 150 acres of land in close proximity to Pavana, Indrayani and Mula rivers in Pimpri-Chinchwad have been included in the residential zone by the Maharashtra government. A notification to this effect was issued Friday (Nov. 12). The decision comes as a big breather to those who have constructed buildings in the area. It is also likely to open up more space for development purposes.

“Out of the lands falling between the blue flood line (prohibitive flood line) and red flood Iine (maximum/controlling flood line) and lands falling beyond the red flood line in the sanctioned development plans of extended limit and of old limit of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and also in the Development Plan of Pimpri-Chinchwad New Town Development Authority, which are under planning control of Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, shown in No Development Zone (Green Belt I Zone) are included in Residential Zone,” stated the government notification. “The decision will make availability of contiguous Residential Zone and planned development,” it said.

The state government added one condition while opening up the space along the three rivers for development purposes. It has said a minimum 15 per cent of the area developed should be provided as amenity space in any layout having 0.40 hectare or more. As decided by the PCMC commissioner, construction of amenities should be made in the allotted area before it is handed to the municipal corporation for public purposes. “It is binding that development/construction of amenity in such amenity space should be made, as decided by the PCMC commissioner. It is binding to handover the amenity space to Municipal Corporation for public purpose as required by it,” it said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pimpri-chinchwad-residential-zone-rivers-pavana-indrayani-mula-7620847/  (14 Nov. 2021)

Nag; Nagpur Central panel OKs Nag River project The Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) of the Union Finance Ministry has approved the Nag River Pollution Abatement Project which has been on paper for 11 years. The project entails laying new sewage lines for discharging treated water into the river. The EFC has reduced the project’s cost by over Rs 100 crore, but the actual cost is estimated at Rs 2,117.56 crore which does not include operation and maintenance of the sewage treatment plants (STPs) and other infrastructure involved in the project. A high-powered committee has requested Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) hike the property tax and levy a new component of sanitation in the property tax in order to pay for O&M for the project. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/central-panel-oks-nag-river-project-with-hike-in-property-tax-to-run-it/articleshow/87317713.cms  (28 Oct. 2021)

Chandigarh Microbes, plants to treat polluted water in rivulets After failing to plug all sewage leaking points into the seasonal rivulets, now plants and micro-organisms will be put to use to treat polluted water in several locations. The technique of phytoremediation will be employed at Faida village, where the untreated sewage water is flowing into the Faida choe which ultimately mixes into the N-choe. There is no sewer network in the village. The site was recently inspected by MC officials. It was found that the Faida colony is developed on private land at Faida village. There are a lot of points from where the sewage of the colony directly flows into the Faida Choe.

“There is no space available to tap the sewage of this colony into the sewerage system. So, we will have to go in for phytoremediation at the site itself,” said an MC official. Phytoremediation technologies use living plants to clean up water contaminated with hazardous contaminants. “It is a cost-effective plant-based approach of environmental remediation that takes advantage of the ability of plants to concentrate elements and compounds from the environment and to detoxify various compounds,” said the official.

The MC has issued notices against 132 residents of Khuda Lahora, Khuda Jassu and Sarangpur villages who don’t have an adequate sewerage system and the sullage from their residence is flowing to Patiala Ki Rao. The notices have been issued for making alterations in their internal sewerage network to stop the flow of sullage so that wastewater may not flow in the stormwater drainage system within 30 days. The SDE/JE have been directed to meet them personally for this work. “Strict action will be taken against residents who fail to rectify the problem within a month. This will include disconnection of their water supply,” said an MC official.

On the Sukhna choe, Dhaka colony near Raipur Khurd is the only remaining outlet from where untreated water is entering the Sukhna Choe. The MC under the short-term measure diverted the sewage from the village to the sewage treatment plant, Raipur Khurd, after providing a gate in one of the manholes. The work is expected to be completed by year-end. Under a permanent solution, a sewer line will be laid outside the Dhaka colony which will be used for carrying the wastewater of the colony to the STP Raipur Khurd. The expenditure involved is about ₹1 crore. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/chandigarh-microbes-plants-to-treat-polluted-water-in-rivulets-101636917612789.html  (15 Nov. 2021)

RIVERS

India Rivers Week 2021 Webinar video of first session on Polluted Rivers – Healthy Rivers, Fish & Fishers  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGFINL_gIuU  (11 Nov. 2021)  Recording of India Rivers Week’s second webinar on Captive Rivers – Healthy Rivers, Fish & Fishers . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOfD7KJdj3k  (15 Nov. 2021) This article mentions of some community led small rivers revival efforts. https://globalbihari.com/why-rue-a-dead-river/ 

Tamil Nadu Rivers in ICU, state must take steps for revival: Expert  “Every river has three kinds of rights – right to land, environmental flow and cleanliness. As per the right of land, it should only be used by the rivers. Every river has three kinds of land parcels – river flow zone, flood zone and heavy flood zone. But all these land parcels are encroached. All the water bodies in the state including rivers, tanks and ponds in the state are encroached with the help of the government,” Rajendra Singh said while addressing the gathering.

He said that in an attempt to rejuvenate the rivers, he would undertake a yatra to several parts of the state to study their condition. The yatra with the slogan ‘We people of Tamil Nadu will give the Rights to the Rivers’ would be an entry point for the revival of rivers by creating awareness to the people. After the yatra, a white paper report with suggestive measures would be submitted to the state government to take steps for the rejuvenation of rivers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/tn-rivers-in-icu-state-must-take-steps-for-revival-expert/articleshow/87573452.cms  (08 Nov. 2021)

Jharkhand First landmass emerged in Singhbhum: study A new study has challenged the widely accepted view that the continents rose from the oceans about 2.5 billion years ago. It suggests this happened 700 million years earlier — about 3.2 billion years ago — and that the earliest continental landmass to emerge may have been Jharkhand’s Singhbhum region. The study, by researchers from India, Australia and the US, has been published in the journal PNAS. Scientists have found sandstones in Singhbhum with geological signatures of ancient river channels, tidal plains and beaches over 3.2 billion years old, representing the earliest crust exposed to air.

The answer to “when the first landmasses were formed lay in the sedimentary rocks of the region”, lead author Dr Priyadarshi Chowdhury, of Monash University, told The Indian Express. “We found a particular type of sedimentary rocks, called sandstones. We then tried to find their age and in which conditions they have formed. We found the age by analysing the uranium and lead contents of tiny minerals. These rocks are 3.1 billion years old, and were formed in ancient rivers, beaches, and shallow seas. All these water bodies could have only existed if there was continental land. Thus, we inferred that the Singhbhum region was above the ocean before 3.1 billion years ago,” Chowdhury said. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/singhbhum-earth-first-landmass-study-7618871/  (12 Nov. 2021)

SANDRP Blog Uttar Pradesh: Curious Case of Ramna STP in Kashi  Large scale STPs are being promoted as must have infrastructure to control Urban sewage pollution in rivers across the country. However, most of the Large Scale STPs are mired in controversies from planning to construction and during operational phase, often failing to achieve the basic objective for which they are built, investing crores of rupees. A case in point is Ramna STP of Kashi. https://sandrp.in/2021/11/11/uttar-pradesh-curious-case-of-ramna-stp-in-kashi/  (11 Nov. 2021)

In Lucknow, 2 STPs ostensibly prevent pollution of the river Gomti but are they really doing their job? https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/photoessay-sewage-treatment-lucknow  (20 Sept. 2013)

GANGA Uttarakhand ‘Don’t drag defence forces into Char Dham road project’ At the Supreme Court’s hearing on the all-weather Char Dham road project, whose hearing is to be continued on Thursday, ( Nov. 10) locals and environmentalists have expressed dismay at the dragging of defence forces into a “tourism-oriented” project. They say they wish to have “only the existing road to be broadened scientifically, and that, too, in an environment-friendly” way. “The case is not defence versus environment. The issue is that excessive road widening needs vertical cuts which destabilises the slopes and results in landslides. Chronic landslides on all the defence-related roads are detrimental to national security,” said environmentalist Mallika Bhanot. Locals are of the view that the state doesn’t have space for such broad roads and therefore, forceful construction on the pretext of defence requirement would cost both locals and forces dear.

Image source ToI

“We had asked for hospitals, good government schools, jobs for our local youth, which never happened in 61 years since we got the road in 1960. We never wanted a broad road, all we had asked for was better facilities and good roads,” added Matwal. The 889-km all-weather Char Dham road was announced by PM Modi for boosting tourism in the state by connecting all the four Chr Dham shrines – Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Meanwhile fake photographs of the members of the NGO, Citizens for Green Doon, complainant in the all-weather case had been trending on Twitter with incorrect name of their lawyer and morphed photos of its members, against which a police complainant was filed by the NGO in Dehradun. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/dont-drag-defence-forces-into-char-dham-rd-project/articleshow/87634243.cms  (11 Oct. 2021)

Appearing for the NGO, Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves said: “We may want to do many things in the Himalayan regions like taking up a missile. You can make the road as broad as you want, but the real issue is: Are the Himalayas in a state where they can tolerate it or will they break down? …You can’t improve the Himalayas. They are what they are.”

The “best defence for our country are the Himalayas. If those are undone, coming generations will see the impact. If winter precipitation and Ganga flow are hampered, water security will be a huge problem… If you ask me, should development stop in the Char Dham area, I will say yes. Restraint and balance. The restoration of the calmness of these sites rest on your shoulders,” he told the bench. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/char-dham-road-debate-lac-supreme-court-7618852/  (12 Nov. 2021)

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath clarified that it has not made up its mind on the dispute but the questions it is asking is just to elicit better response from the parties on the issue. “We want to clarify that we have not made up our mind. We are open to the arguments. Whatever questions we are asking from the counsels is just to elicit better response,” it said at the outset.

The bench said that the NGO could suggest steps like monitoring of air quality, disposal of muck in a scientific manner, reduced blasting and other measures which would mitigate the concerns in the reports of the High Powered Committee. Mr Gonsalves said that all steps taken to mitigate concerns by the Centre have failed and it is high time that they should leave the mountains alone and halt the project immediately to avoid any further degradation of the environment and endangering the lives of people. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/suggest-additional-safeguards-for-chardham-project-supreme-court-to-centre-2606402  (11 Nov. 2021)

Army Cannot Throw Up Hands On Grounds Of Road Width; If Landslides Occur Despite Precaution & Mitigation, We Have To Tackle It: AG To Supreme Court In. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-char-dham-highway-expansion-project-ag-kk-venugopal-india-china-border-185352  (11 Nov. 2021)

SC-Full Courtroom Exchange:- https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-char-dham-expansion-national-security-defence-environment-protection-185191  (09 Nov. 2021)

This report says blasting being done for last two months to widen 20km Malari-Niti Valley road stretch. Villagers claim explosive weakening hills and caused rock slide Bhal village. The muck is also being dumped in rivers creating potential disasters risk. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/river/river-projects/after-rishiganga-preparations-for-destruction-in-dhauli-also-80140  (10 Nov 2021)

Video report on this by Trilochan Bhatt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDFulaEflkw  (11 Nov. 2021)  

Sept. 2015 on BRO, hydro projects dumping debris in Dhauliganga, Alaknanda rivers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/bro-hydel-cos-still-dumping-debris-in-uttarakhand-rivers/articleshow/49017551.cms 

Rain ravaged rural roads in Rudraprayag still waiting for repairing. https://samaysakshya.co.in/bad-mountain-roads-the-debris-that-came-in-the-rainy-season-has-not-been-cleaned-yet/   (11 Nov. 2021)

SC stays felling of trees on Delhi-Dehradun expressway till Nov 16  The SC on Thursday (Nov. 11) directed the Centre to put a stay on proposed felling of around 11,000 trees for expansion of the Delhi-Dehradun expressway, till the next hearing on November 16. The court’s order came in response to a petition filed by a Doon-based NGO, Citizens for Green Doon. The NGO had initially approached the top court in early September and been told to go to the NGT instead. The matter pertains to a 19.5-km-long four-lane elevated stretch on NH-72A, from Ganeshpur (Uttar Pradesh) to Asharori (Uttarakhand), for which around 8,800 trees would need to be felled in UP and 2,200 in Uttarakhand. The trees on the chopping block include 1,600 British-era Sal trees, which was first reported by TOI in August last year.

Himanshu Arora, secretary, Citizens for Green Doon, said that they had approached the Supreme Court in the matter on September 7. “The court refused to entertain our PIL, saying the NGT should resolve the matter, as it pertains to wildlife and forest clearances. However, when we went to NGT, we were told that this was not an environmental emergency. This was unacceptable to us. Cutting down so much green cover definitely qualifies as an emergency. So, we went back to the Supreme Court.” He added that the court thereafter assured them that it will listen to the case.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath, while hearing the matter, said, “The NGT should apply its mind. It has original jurisdiction over matters related to the environment. The way orders are passed by the NGT nowadays is totally unsatisfactory. The tribunal has to work in a different way and not this way. It cannot just pass any order and shift its burden to the Supreme Court.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/sc-stays-felling-of-trees-on-delhi-dehradun-expressway-till-nov-16/articleshow/87672332.cms  (13 Nov. 2021)

पीठ ने कहा कि वह मामले की सुनवाई करेगी और एनजीटी को वापस भेजने के बजाय याचिका का निपटारा करेगी। पीठ ने कहा,‘एनजीटी को अपना दिमाग लगाना चाहिए। पर्यावरण से संबंधित मामलों पर इसका मूल अधिकार क्षेत्र है। जिस तरह से आजकल एनजीटी द्वारा आदेश पारित किए जाते हैं और पूरी तरह से असंतोषजनक हैं। ट्रिब्यूनल को एक अलग तरीके से काम करना है और इस तरह से नहीं। यह सिर्फ नहीं हो सकता है कोई भी आदेश पारित करें और अपना बोझ सुप्रीम कोर्ट पर स्थानांतरित करें। https://www.livehindustan.com/ncr/new-delhi/story-delhi-dehradun-expressway-supreme-court-bans-felling-of-trees-till-16-5057295.html  (11 Nov. 2021)

50 quintals of solid waste removed from Ramganga in Corbett A 15-day-long cleaning exercise in the Ramganga that flows through the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) yielded almost 50 quintals of trash recently. The trash had come into the river following intense spells of rainfall on October 18 and 19 that left 59 people dead across Kumaon and prompted CTR authorities to shut down the park for two days owing to large-scale soil erosion and waterlogging in several of its zones.

Ramganga being cleaned by forest department staff. ToI

Officials said that the amount of muck and plastic waste that trickled down the river after the rain spell was so huge that it could have choked animals. There was also the fear of an epidemic breakout due to the waste accumulation in the river. In the past, too, tigers and leopards have been spotted near the river with plastic in their mouths, indicating the serious concerns raised by plastic pollution. “The waste mostly consisted of polythene bags, water bottles, shoes, slippers and pipes. It made its way to Ramganga in Dhikala, which forms the core zone of the reserve,” said Rahul (who goes by his first name), director, CTR.

This year, the annual cleaning exercise, which is usually held for three days in February when the water level recedes, was forwarded by a few months due to the trash choking the Ramganga. The drive was conducted with the help of rafts, inflatable boats, and additional contractual forest staff. Volunteers were also deployed for cleaning the Ramganga reservoir, officials said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/50-quintals-of-solid-waste-mostly-plastic-removed-from-ramganga-river-in-corbett/articleshow/87689680.cms  (14 Nov. 2021)

NGT directs govt to take action on waste dumps along Khoh river. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/ngt-directs-uttarakhand-government-to-take-action-on-waste-dumps-along-khoh-river-1040857.html  (15 Oct. 2021)

Commentary Worsening water quality in Ganga’s lower stretches Most lower stretches of river Ganga are in ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ health and remain so across seasons, according to a new study. Resident microbial populations can be applied for cost-effective bioremediation processes by developing a biological consortium using microbes directly from the river water. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/11/commentary-worsening-water-quality-in-gangas-lower-stretches-and-what-it-means-for-us/  (09 Nov. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh IIT Kanpur Develops Self-Sustained Mechanism To Monitor Ganga River  IIT Kanpur has developed a self-sustained Aquatic Autonomous Observatory named ‘Niracara Svayamsasita VedhShala (NSVS)’, for in situ monitoring, real time data transmission and web based visualization of the river Ganga. AR Harish, Dean of Research and Development, IIT Kanpur, inaugurated the system at Laxman Ghat, Bithoor.

In its current capacity, the system can sense three important parameters — pH, conductivity and DO capacity of water. This can be further utilized to estimate TDS, specific gravity and presence of metallic ions in water, IIT Kanpur said. “The system autonomously collect the data in every fifteen minutes and report it through wireless network to the Institute. For self-sustenance, the platform is equipped with energy harvesting systems consisting of solar cells and a unique Vortex Induced Vibration (VIV) system which can extract energy from the flow of river,” it added.

The project has been implemented by a team of earth scientists, mechanical, electrical, and aerospace engineers from the institute, led by Prof Bishakh Bhattacharya as the principal investigator. IIT Kanpur said NSVS system has been developed as a “low-cost, multi-parameter, water quality monitoring platform that would consist of array of sensors and auto sampler placed on a stationary platform which is semi-submersible, all-weather, robust, and perfectly stable.” https://www.ndtv.com/education/iit-kanpur-develops-self-sustained-mechanism-monitor-ganga-river  (12 Nov. 2021)

West Bengal ‘Smaller idols lead to greater water pollution, adverse health impact’ By a conservative estimate, more than 20,000 Vishwakarma idols are immersed in the Ganges and different tanks. But the promptness of civic bodies to recover the structures — which is witnessed after immersion of Durga and Kali idols — is absent in case of other smaller pujas.

“It is impossible to track the number of pujas, like Vishwakarma or Saraswati. But if you assess the impact, the immersion of a 100 times higher number of smaller idols compared to those of Durga Puja or Kali Puja leads to more pollution,” said Naba Dutta, general secretary, Sauj Mancha.

The biggest concern is the presence of heavy metals in the paint on idols, which enters the body through the food chain. Some, like lead, mercury, zinc oxide and chromium, are potent carcinogens, said Sudipta Bhattachary of Saviour and Friends of Environment, who conducted a study on post-immersion water quality. Lead and chromium are toxic to humans even in very small quantities. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/smaller-idols-lead-to-greater-water-pollution-adverse-health-impact/articleshow/86351160.cms  (20 Sept. 2021)

YAMUNA Opinion Sick Yamuna Is Newsy, But How Long? Manoj Misra  It is again a tragedy that hardly anyone in authority it seems has bothered to peruse and follow up on the excellent report on the matter, prepared and submitted to the NGT on 7.12.2020 by the Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC).  For the river Yamuna to not froth yet again in Delhi during Chhath puja next year, we will have to ensure efficient functioning of STPs in the city, zero discharge of any industrial effluent into the river and presence of wholesome flow in it. https://thedialogue.co.in/article/T52XFx7nVWernWNkquHU/the-sick-yamuna-is-newsy-but-how-long  (11 Nov. 2021)

Misra said the high pollutant load shows how the city has failed the river. “We have seen that the river was much cleaner during the lockdown period when the household sewage was still getting added to river stream. If we can restore the river flow, as it happens during the monsoon season, and reduce the industrial pollutants, the river can be revived in this stretch,”. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/at-fault-for-a-frothy-yamuna-raw-sewage-frothing-agents-101636396801259-amp.html  (09 Nov. 2021) 

CNN: “The river in Delhi’s stretch is an ecologically dead river,” said Bhim Singh Rawat, from the SANDRP. “It doesn’t have fish or fresh water birds. That has been the case for years now.” Rawat, from SANDRP, said the polluted river is impacting people living in several cities downstream, including Faridabad, Noida and Agra. “Thousands of villagers take irrigation water from the river, they take buckets to the river for bathing and drinking,” he said. https://www.kten.com/story/45159115/toxic-foam-coats-sacred-river-in-india-as-hindu-devotees-bathe-in-its-waters  (10 Nov. 2021)

Toxic foam continues to float on Yamuna River. https://www.deccanherald.com/video/national/west/toxic-foam-continues-to-float-on-yamuna-river-in-delhi-1050903.html  (15 Nov. 2021)

27 years have passed, several promises made, multiple deadlines missed, 3 Yamuna Action Plans devised and “implemented”, over Rs 5,000 crore spent, yet the 22 km stretch of Yamuna that passes through Delhi remains choked and dying. https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/rs-5000-crore-spent-delhi-27-years-yamuna-continues-die  (13 Nov. 2021)

While a frothing Yamuna is visible and captures our attention every once in a while, there are bigger challenges that threaten the river ecosystems in India that go unseen. https://understandingindia.substack.com/p/where-does-the-river-flow  (14 Nov. 2021)

According to The Indian Express, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee banned the sale, storage of soaps and detergents not adhering to the quality standards set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The was based on recommendation by now disbanded Yamuna Monitoring Committee. Not just this, report by YMC also noted that while the BIS standards have improved, there was no way to check if such standard will actually be enforced. https://www.thequint.com/coronavirus/faq/why-does-yamuna-form-froth-explained#read-more  (10 Nov. 2021)

Every year, Chhath Puja, the four-day festival venerating the sun god, puts the spotlight on the Yamuna’s failing fight against industrial waste. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/toxic-river-no-bar-to-worship/articleshow/87662630.cms  (12 Nov. 2021)

Devotees ignore toxic foam in Yamuna river in Delhi to take a dip on first day of Chhath Puja https://scroll.in/video/1010030/watch-devotees-ignore-toxic-foam-in-yamuna-river-in-delhi-to-take-a-dip-on-first-day-of-chhath-puja  (08 Nov. 2021)

Haryana Yamuna water level falling in upper segment. https://public.app/video/sp_0n3z332zxyou1   (13 Nov. 2021)

As per reports collected from the stakeholders, around 66 MLD is coming from the industrial city of Yamunanagar and mixed in Yamuna water near Nabipur village after travelling to around 80km via Ganda Nallah, a ditch drain and Dhanaura escape canal from Yamunanagar to Indri block in Karnal district.

Sewage generation in the industrial cities of Yamunanagar and Jaghadhri is much higher than the quantum of sewage reaching up to the STPs as in Yamunanagar 29.3 MLD sewage was generated but the actual discharge reaching the STPs was 43.7 MLD and in Jagadhri the actual discharge reaching to the STPs was 18.5 MLD against sewage generation of 16.86 MLD.

Yamunanagar deputy commissioner Parth Gupta said the government has proposed to develop a 75 MLD STP to tap the untreated water flowing through the ditch drain, but which department (urban local bodies or public health engineering) will undertake the task, is yet to be decided.

On the other hand, in Panipat the actual discharge reaching to the STPs was 42 MLD against 81.80 MLD sewage generated, reads the report mentioning that the waste water reaching the STPs for treatment is higher than the estimated generation of sewerage in many towns.

Moreover, of total 59 STPs in the Yamuna catchment area, only six have been upgraded and the rest do not meet the prescribed standards. Only 21 STPs are complying even though the deadlines for most STPs have already expired. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/untreated-effluent-from-haryana-contaminating-yamuna-waters-report-101636574905925.html  (11 Nov. 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Western Ghats Environmental destruction was noted as early as in 1866 As early as 1866, the famous British geographer and explorer Sir Clements Robert Markham had noted the environmental impact of the widespread practice of developing plantations on the Western Ghats of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Perhaps this could be one of the earliest critical documentation on the effects of the destruction of nature in Kerala.

“One obvious consequence of the destruction of forests is an increased rapidity of surface-drainage, giving rise to sudden and destructive floods at the outlet on the plains — The floods caused by the monsoon rains are yearly increasing in size and violence,” wrote Markham, who was then the secretary of Royal Geographical Society. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/western-ghats-environmental-destruction-was-noted-as-early-as-in-1866/articleshow/87632701.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

Microorganism capable of surviving radioactivity, extreme heat traced Zoologists from Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) have discovered one of the most resilient microorganisms growing in freshwater bodies along the Western Ghats, a century since it was first reported in Sikkim in the pre-independence era by British researchers. Tardigrades, which were found growing in northern Western Ghat regions — including Kaas plateau and Amboli — are extremely tiny organisms and can grow anywhere, from the highest of the mountain peaks to the deepest of the oceans, and in fresh or saline water bodies. This makes them one of those organisms with a wide range of habitats, yet comparatively fewer discoveries have been made about them so far.


Tardigrada’s size ranges between 0.1 mm-1.5 mm: TIE 

In the recently-published study, researchers Kalpana Pai and Kalyani Bhakare have described the habitat and abiotic factors under which the tardigrades were found along one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats. “The presence of tardigrada in a freshwater habitat has come nearly 100 years after it was first discovered in the Indian Himalayas. Due to climate change, a threat remains that many species and organisms could go extinct even before they are discovered,” said Kalpana Pai, professor at the department of Zoology, SPPU. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/microorganism-in-western-ghat-water-bodies-sppu-zoologists-7615787/  (10 Nov. 2021)

On The Edge Conservation and Nature in Focus bring to you a seven-part documentary mini-series on the Western Ghats—one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. Older than the Himalayas, this chain of mountains that runs parallel to India’s western coast showcases an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism, at the same time, boasting a high density of human population. https://www.natureinfocus.in/western-ghats-on-the-edge   

Villagers stop harvest to help forest officials rescue jungle cat cubs https://www.hindustantimes.com/trending/villagers-stop-harvest-to-help-forest-officials-rescue-jungle-cat-cubs-101636606883726.html  (11 Nov. 2021) Interesting incident but report does not mention about area to avoid undue human interference.

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Report What Do India’s Fishers Want? In a deep-dive investigation, Supriya Vohra takes a closer look at how the fortunes of India’s small-scale fishers have declined – and who is responsible. https://thewire.in/rights/blue-revolution-small-scale-fishers-rights-deaths-compensation-insurance-bureacracy-uncertainty  (14 Nov. 2021) Draft National Fisheries Policy seeks big growth but ignores fishers. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/07/draft-national-fisheries-policy-seeks-big-growth-but-ignores-fishers/  (20 July 2020)

IWP Mass fish deaths can pose a challenge to the environment, biodiversity and fisherfolk who depend on them for their livelihoods. Why do they happen? https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/water-can-kill  (12 Nov. 2021)

Arunachal Pradesh Over 5K fingerlings released The 37-Assembly Constituency Welfare Forum, in collaboration with the East Siang district fisheries department, on Monday (Nov. 8) organized a river ranching programme on a trial basis, during which over 5,000 fingerlings of various carps and indigenous fish species were released into the rivers and perennial streams in Pasighat West area in East Siang district.

The forum started the programme from Sika Tode village, where the forum’s president Osong Saroh along with District Fisheries Development Officer (DFDO) Doyum Davi, District Fishery Officer Kabang Komut and the villagers released about 1,000 fish seeds into the Tode river.  Later, the members of the forum and the officers released fish seeds into the rivers in Rayang, Niglok and Mirem villages. Saroh appealed to the villagers to adopt environment-friendly fishing practices. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2021/11/09/over-5000-fingerlings-released-into-streams-rivers-in-e-siang/  (09 Sept. 2021)

Seppa residents collecting shield bugs, defying DA’s order Defying the East Kameng district administration’s (DA) order restricting the number of people crossing the ‘Tari bridge’ here at a time, residents of Seppa are reportedly crowding the bridge to collect shield bugs (Gandhi Puk), endangering themselves. While only six persons are allowed to use the weak suspension bridge at a time, dozens of people, including minors, were seen collecting shield bugs on the bridge on Monday.

More than 17 people had drowned in the Kameng river on 30 October, 2011, when the suspension bridge, connecting Seppa township with New Seppa, had collapsed. The incident had occurred as a result of people overcrowding the bridge to collect shield bugs. To avoid another untoward incident, the DA has imposed 144 CrPC at the Tari bridge. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2021/11/09/seppa-residents-collecting-shield-bugs-defying-das-order/  (09 Nov. 2021)

Andhra Pradesh Climate change has forced fishermen from Srikakulam and other states in the country for livelihoods. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/these-ghost-villages-of-andhra-prove-climate-change-is-real/articleshow/87601917.cms  (09 Nov. 2021)

The ‘Science of the Seas’ page hopes to chronicle a different way of engaging with the natural universe, communicated in the language of the fishers, even as Nityanand takes a closer look at his own role as a middle-man between this knowledge and the readers of The Wire Science. https://science.thewire.in/science-of-the-seas/#462903 

SAND MINING

Rajasthan  Compensation / Penalty Cannot Be Restricted To Value Of Illegally-Mined Mineral; Cost Of Restoration Of Environment Also To Be Considered: SC The cost of restoration of environment as well as the cost of ecological services should be part of the compensation, the bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai observed. The polluter, according to the court, is liable to pay the cost to the individual sufferers as well as the cost of reversing the damaged ecology.

The court, however, noticed that , the basis for imposition of exemplary penalty of Rs. 10 lakh per vehicle and Rs. 5 lakh per cubic metre of sand has not been stated by the CEC in its report. The CEC is directed to follow the directions given by the NGT in respect of imposition of penalty / determining scale of compensation for illegal mining and the provisions of the 2020 Sand Mining Guidelines and determine the penalty / compensation afresh and submit a report to this Court within a period of eight weeks from today (Nov. 11), the court ordered. The judgment also observed the damage caused to the environment due to rampant unscientific illegal mining. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-illegal-sand-mining-compensation-cannot-be-restricted-to-value-of-illegally-mined-mineral-cost-of-restoration-of-environment-also-to-be-considered-185341  (11 Nov. 2021)

In its judgment, the court also approved another recommendation of the CEC — the termination of khatedari leases (sand mining leases on agricultural land) which are located within 5 km from the river bed. The apex court directed the CEC to follow the directions given by the NGT in respect of imposition of penalty/determining scale of compensation for illegal mining and the provisions of the 2020 Sand Mining Guidelines and determine the penalty/compensation afresh and submit a report within eight weeks. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/jaipur/sc-legal-riverbed-sand-mining-rajasthan-7618984/  (12 Nov. 2021)

अरावली की पहाड़ियों को निगल गए माफिया, इतना खनन हुआ कि लाखों टन पत्थर खोद डाला https://www.bhaskar.com/local/rajasthan/alwar/news/mafia-got-killed-in-the-mountains-of-aravalli-illegal-mining-happened-so-much-for-many-years-that-many-lakh-tons-of-stones-were-dug-now-ponds-have-grown-in-place-of-the-mountain-129031054.html  (15 Oct. 2021)

Karnataka Welcome policy, but deal with sand mafia Good to see the Deccan Herald writing top edit on the issue of Karnataka’s new sand mining policy and also headlining the sand mafia and also underlining the need to with environment impact issues. It would have been good if the edit had been more forthright also about the need for demand side management measures, not just supply side issues. It also highlights the adverse impact of M sand manufacture.

– On Mafia raj: “The clout exercised by this lobby was in full evidence when the Mularpatna Bridge in Dakshina Kannada collapsed in June 2018 as the district administration took no action even after locals complained about illegal extraction of sand around it, which weakened the structure. In another instance, a lady deputy commissioner who tried to stop illegal mining in Udupi was attacked by goons. In Mandya, a DySP had a narrow escape when a sand-laden lorry rammed into her jeep in an alleged attempt on her life. Many such incidents of assault have gone unreported. No policy will work if this mafia continues to be in business.” https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/first-edit/welcome-policy-but-deal-with-sand-mafia-1049063.html  (10 Nov. 2021)

The report on Nov 8, 2021 highlighted the key features of Karnataka’s new sand policy.

– A truckload (10-15 T) of sand will cost Rs 10 to 12 k, down from current 30-40k.

– Sand extracted from gram panchayat land to cost Rs 300 per T, while sand from river to cost Rs 700 per T.

– Royalty to state will be Rs 50-60 per T. 25% of it will go to panchayats where sand is extracted and 25% to panchayats through which it is transported.

– It says sand can be extracted only with the permission of the local authorities. A district level body is to be formed to permit sand mining based on survey reports. The district level bodies to be responsible for monitoring and enforcement.

– The Minister said an environment impact assessment is to be done of the sand policy. The govt to identify sand reserves, amount to be mined, depth to which it is to be mined, including from lakes, rivers and other sources.

– The traditional sand extraction in Dakshin Kannada district will continue in non CRZ areas, without using machinery. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/karnataka-promises-cheaper-sand-under-new-policy-1048576.html  (08 Nov. 2021)

Tamil Nadu CB-CID initiates inquiry into illegal mining in Salem The district Crime-Branch CID police have launched a probe into the illegal red sand and stone mining at Kannankurichi, Azhagapuram, Suramangalam, Karuppur, Chettichavadi, Jagirammapalayam and Vellakkalpatty villages. The investigation was launched on Tuesday (Nov. 9) after the deputy superintendent of police, CB-CID (incharge) Muralidharan issued an order on Monday (Nov. 8) to a team headed by inspector Palraj to probe into the issue. CM M K Stalin had earlier forwarded a petition that he had received in this regard from an activist to director general of police (CB-CID) Mohammed Shakeel Akhtar to look into the issue. The DGP had subsequently forwarded the petition to the district CB-CID.

Talking to TOI, activist A Radhakrishnan, who petitioned Stalin, said the illegal red sand and stone mining had been happening on more than 60 acres land that falls under the limits of Salem main and west tahsildar offices for the past several years. “Illegal mining is also happening in several other places, including Mettur, Vazhapadi, Attur and Yercaud, in the district.” The activist said he had visited the affected areas on October 31 after the residents raised the issue with him. “A few people have obtained licence from the Tamil Nadu Geology and Mines Department and they have been misusing the same to carry out mining activities in areas where such activities are not permitted. There are also several others who are mining red sand and stones without obtaining licence from the department.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/salem/cb-cid-initiates-inquiry-into-illegal-sand-mining-in-salem/articleshow/87635256.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

Kerala In Nilgiris forests, illegal gold mines trap humans & wildlife On the one hand are mining workers who risk their lives deep underground. On the other hand are elephants and other wild animals who fall into these mines and lose their lives. Both are trapped in a vicious cycle for survival. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/ground-report-forests-nilgiris-illegal-gold-mines-trap-humans-wildlife-157447  (10 Nov. 2021)

Bihar SC allows sand mining A three-judge bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao also directed that exercise of preparation of district survey report for the purpose of mining in Bihar in all the districts shall be undertaken afresh. “It cannot be in dispute that though the developmental activities are not stalled, the environmental issues are also required to be addressed. A balanced approach of sustainable development ensuring environmental safeguards, needs to be resorted to.” “At the same time, it also cannot be ignored that when legal mining is banned, it gives rise to mushroom growth of illegal mining, resulting into clashes between sand mafias, criminalisation and at times, loss of human lives,” the bench also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai said.

The order came on an appeal filed by the government against an order of the NGT which directed the State to undertake further exercise for preparation of a fresh district survey report for Banka. The NGT order had come on a plea filed by Bihar resident Pawan Kumar and other seeking proper sand mining in accordance with law and the regulatory framework including various decisions of the tribunal. The court said the draft survey reports shall be prepared by the sub divisional committees consisting of the sub divisional magistrate, officers from Irrigation Department, State Pollution Control Board or Committee, Forest Department, geological or mining officer.

“The same shall be prepared by undertaking site visits and also by using modern technology. The said draft DSRs shall be prepared within a period of 6 weeks from the date of this order. After the draft DSRs are prepared, the District Magistrate of the concerned district shall forward the same for examination and evaluation by the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC),” the bench said. The draft DSRs shall be examined by the SEAC within a period of six weeks and its report shall be forwarded to the SEIAA within the aforesaid period of 6 weeks from the receipt of it, the court said. “The SEIAA will thereafter consider the grant of approval to such DSRs within a period of 6 weeks from the receipt thereon,” it said. The top court said that while preparing survey reports and the appraisal thereof by SEAC and SEIAA, it should be ensured that a strict adherence to the procedure and parameters laid down in the policy of January 2020 should be followed. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/sc-allows-sand-mining-in-bihar-says-ban-causes-huge-loss-to-public-exchequer-2605997  (10 Nov. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Illegal sand mining rampant, admin turn a blind eye Authorised sand contractor, RK Gupta, owner of RK Gupta Construction, has been allegedly mining sand without paying due royalty for over a month. Illegal mining was carried out in the whole of October month from other mines including Sulgaon, Pitamali and is still continuing, alleged an observer.

After illegal mining, illegal transportation of sand is being done through big dumpers. SDM Om Narayan Singh Badkul initiated action on illegal transportation of sand after joining the Mandleshwar section but for the last one month he seems to have turned a blind eye to the whole loot. His inaction has raised a question mark on their functioning. https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/madhya-pradesh-illegal-sand-mining-rampant-administration-turn-a-blind-eye  (05 Nov. 2021)

Punjab “Mission Clean” To Curb Sand Mining, Liquor, Drug Trade  “CM Charanjit Channi directs Civil and Police administration of the state to launch “Mission Clean” by taking strict action against Drug, Sand and Liquor Mafia besides ensuring zero tolerance for corruption,” tweeted the Chief Minister’s office (CMO). The CM also directed the Mining Department to ensure that sand and gravel should be available in the market at government rates while directing DCs and SSPs to keep a check on it. He also asked the mining department to ensure that no charges are levied on sand being used by panchayats for development works. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/punjab-cm-announces-mission-clean-initiative-to-curb-illegal-sand-mining-liquor-trade-2595115   (01 Nov. 2021)

Uttarakhand  गंगा नदी से 1किमी और अन्य नदियों से 500 मी पर खोले जाएंगे स्टोन क्रशर गुरुवार को सचिव उद्योग (खनन) आर मीनाक्षी सुंदरम ने उत्तराखंड स्टोन क्रशर, स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट, मोबाइल स्टोन क्रशर, मोबाइल स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट, पल्वराईजर प्लांट, हाट मिक्स प्लांट, रेडिमिक्स प्लांट अनुज्ञा नीति 2021 जारी की। पहले इन्हें हरिद्वार में गंगा नदी से 1.5 किमी और अन्य मैदानी जिलों की नदियों से एक किमी दूर खोलने की अनुमति थी। इसमें यह भी कहा गया है कि आबादी से 300 मीटर की दूरी पर स्टोन क्रशर व स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट खोलने की स्थिति में यहां स्थित परिवार अथवा भूस्वामियों की अनापत्ति जरूरी होगी।

इस नीति के अनुसार स्टोन क्रशर व स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट की स्थापना बरसाती नदी से 50 मीटर, सार्वजनिक धार्मिक स्थल, स्कूल, शैक्षणिक संस्थान, अस्पताल, नर्सिंग व आबादी से 300 मीटर की दूरी पर की जाएगी। पहले यह दूरी 500 मीटर थी। स्टोन क्रशर व स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट के लिए लाइसेंस 10 साल के लिए दिया जाएगा। विशेष यह कि उपखनिज के छोट लाट में खनन क्षेत्र में स्टोन क्रशर व स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट लगाया जा सकेगा और इसमें नदी से दूरी के मानक में छूट रहेगी। हालांकि इनके लिए स्वीकृति एक वर्ष के लिए दी जाएगी।

हाट मिक्स व रेडिमिक्स प्लांट के लिए यह अनुमति दो वर्ष और पल्वराईजर प्लांट के लिए यह अनुमति पांच साल के लिए दी जाएगी। नीति में इनके लिए शुल्क भी तय किया गया है। पर्वतीय क्षेत्र में स्टोन क्रशर व स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट के लिए 100 टन प्रतिघंटा के लिए लाइसेंस शुल्क 10 लाख और मैदानी जिलों के लिए लाइसेंस शुल्क 20 लाख रखा गया है। वहीं, स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट के लिए पर्वतीय क्षेत्र में लाइसेंस शुल्क दो लाख और मैदानी क्षेत्र में लाइसेंस शुल्क चार लाख रुपये रखा गया है। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/dehradun-city-stone-crushers-will-be-opened-in-uttarakhand-at-one-km-from-ganga-river-and-500-meters-from-other-rivers-22199299.html  (12 Nov. 2021)

अवैध खनन के बढ़ते मामलों को देखते हुए सरकार ने खनन का परिवहन करने वाले वाहनों पर नजर रखने का निर्णय लिया। इसके तहत इन वाहनों में जीपीएस सिस्टम लगाने के साथ ही खनन व खनन भंडारण क्षेत्रों में सीसी कैमरे लगाने की बात हुई। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/dehradun-city-plan-to-install-gps-and-cameras-for-monitoring-of-mining-is-still-on-file-in-uttarakhand-22199232.html  (12 Nov. 2021)

NGT Orders ₹2 Cr Interim Compensation For Environment Damage In a case pertaining to the alleged illegal mining of dolomite rock by one M/s N.B Minerals Corporation Ltd in Pithoragarh area, the NGT has recently directed the project proponent to deposit Rs. 2 Crore as interim compensation for causing environment damage and spreading muck beyond the leased area. Court, the compensation liable to the paid may be not less than Rs. 14 crore. By way of interim compensation, we direct the Project Proponent to deposit a sum of Rs. 2 crore within one month, which will be condition precedent for allowing resumption of mining, apart from other compliances as already directed.”

 The Tribunal added that the said amount will be in addition to the compensation already assessed for loss to the agriculture. “Considering that the Himalayan region is sensitive and fragile, State Government may review mining operations in the State. If the cost of restoration exceeds the amount of tentative compensation, the project proponent will be liable to pay the same in due course,” it added. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/ngt-dolomite-mining-uttarakhand-2-crore-fine-environment-damage-185128  (09 Nov. 2021) 

Himachal Pradesh खनन अधिकारी के मौके पर पहुंचने से पहले ही भाग जाते हैं शातिर  कांगड़ा, ऊना, हमीरपुर, बिलासपुर, मंडी, सोलन व सिरमौर जिलों में ऐसे कई मामले सामने आए हैं, जहां पर उद्योग विभाग की ओर से मासिक 35 हजार किराये पर ली टैक्सी को चालक खड्ड के किनारे उतारने को तैयार नहीं होता। टैक्सी चालकों का कहना है कि मासिक 30-35 हजार रुपये के लिए गाड़ी का नुकसान नहीं पहुंचा सकते। ऐसी स्थिति में खनन अधिकारी जान जोखिम में डालकर पैदल खनन क्षेत्र तक पहुंचता है। तब तक अवैध खनन कर रहे आरोपित भाग जाते हैं। https://www.jagran.com/himachal-pradesh/kangra-mining-mafia-run-away-before-reaching-the-spot-of-mining-officer-in-himachal-22198777.html  (12 Nov. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh वीडियो 13 नवंबर बाँदा के अच्छरौड खंड 1 से है। यह खदान पूर्व सांसद भैरों प्रसाद मिश्रा के करीबी आनंद त्रिपाठी उर्फ बब्बू त्रिपाठी संचालित कर रहे है। 3 हैवी पोकलैंड जलधारा में खनन कर रही व कनवेयर मशीन (बालू छानने वाले उपकरण ) रिवर बेड पर लगे है। क्या मजाल डीएम अनुराग पटेल रोक लेवे। https://www.facebook.com/voiceofbundelkhand21/videos/1520703618309028/   

Opinion Why beach sand mining is so dangerous Sumaira Abdulali Our most beautiful Indian beaches are under serious threat from recent plans to legalise private-sector beach sand mining. Legalizing sand mining on beaches will destroy holiday and recreational facilities which so many of us take for granted. It will also destroy coastal fishing livelihoods and worsen the effects of climate change and sea-level rise. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/why-beach-sand-mining-is-so-dangerous/  (11 Nov. 2021)

Jharkhand Mica mining docu wins Japan prize  A documentary made by Jharkhand-based filmmaker Deepak Bara that investigates the hidden world of mining of mica, used primarily in cosmetics, bagged the Sustainable Development Goals prize at the 2021 Japan Prize. “The story sheds light on mica, a controversial mineral found abundantly in India. Due to its shimmery qualities, it is used in everyday products from make-up to electronics to car paint. But lingering questions have remained about how it is extracted, and whether children are exploited in the mining process. The tribal filmmaker feels that the documentary raises this issue to the state and central government that they should protect mica dependent communities. https://www.telegraphindia.com/jharkhand/jharkhand-based-filmmakers-mica-mining-documentary-wins-japan-prize/cid/1838304  (11 Nov. 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Kerala Man behind ‘model wetland village’ Credited with helping build the first ‘model wetland village’ in Kerala beside the highly vulnerable Vembanad backwaters, Sanju Soman, an environmental activist all of 28, is one of the 17 young climate leaders picked by the United Nations (UN) from India to spread its message about innovative solutions to climate change-related problems. The campaign, titled ‘We the Change’, brings together young climate activists as they deliberate with the government, media, policymakers and most importantly, millions of other youngsters, to push forward solutions and inspire collective action. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala/young-climate-leader-kerala-model-wetland-village-7615150/  (09 Nov. 2021)

Maharashtra ‘Collaborative efforts needed to save wetlands in NNTR corridor’  Mahendra Bhojram Raut (33) is a wildlife biologist working as a field officer in the Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR) corridor since the last decade under the Central India Tiger Corridor Securement Project being implemented by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). Last week, Raut was awarded a doctorate by Nagpur University for his distinct study on ‘Status, threats and conservation measures of wetland avifauna in the NNTR corridor in the eastern Vidarbha landscape’. In an interview to TOI, Raut talks about the reasons behind water bodies in the corridor and how they have shrunk by over 78sqkm in the last 20 years.

Excerpts…There are 71 non-perennial lakes in the NNTR corridor. I studied 5 perennial lakes. 89 villages located in the corridor are directly dependent on these wetland resources for fish, water for agriculture and other benefits. These wetlands are ecosystem management functionaries. For example, flood mitigation, storm abetment, aesthetic and subsistence etc. In natural conditions, these wetlands store floodwater temporarily and protect downstream areas from flash floods. These wetlands have supported villages in developing agriculture, water systems and fishing. These also help in the dispersal and movement of wild animals for food, water, fodder, shelter, breeding etc.

My study has revealed that 59 species of wetland birds belonging to 30 families, 70 species of aquatic plants belonging to 37 families and the occurrence of 62 fish species belonging to 18 families were recorded from these five lakes. The analysis of data on the residential status revealed that out of 59 bird species, 41 species were residents.

An increase in floods, drought, high heat days and severe storms frequency have affected wetlands in the NNTR corridor. Freshwater biodiversity is vulnerable to such changes in hydrology as they exist between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. However, overproduction of fishes with fast-growing herbaceous fish species was introduced by the fisheries department in open lakes. Invasive and herbaceous fishes destroyed vegetation and affected freshwater biodiversity. Fast-growing ipomoea carnea is also a major threat to all the required aquatic plants in the lakes in the NNTR corridor. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/collaborative-efforts-needed-to-save-wetlands-in-nntr-corridor/articleshow/87230487.cms  (24 Oct. 2021)

CIDCO, the city planning agency of the Maharashtra government, on Saturday (14 Nov.) announced its declaration of intention to prepare a plan for the comprehensive development of 32 villages in Khopta New Town Notified area. The state government has appointed CIDCO as the special planning authority for the Khopta New Town Notified area, which includes 32 villages (seven from Panvel tehsil of Raigad district and 25 from Uran tehsil). https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/navi-mumbai-cidco-to-prepare-development-plan-for-32-villages-in-khopta-new-town  (14 Nov. 2021)

Central govt panel recommends fresh EC for Navi Mumbai airport An expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the Union environment ministry has recommended granting fresh environmental clearance (EC) to the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA). The recommendation was made during the last EAC meeting on October 8, minutes of which were accessed by HT this week. All the terms and conditions of the EC granted in 2010 for the project’s nodal agency – City Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) – have been retained.

Last year, activists had filed objections against granting of fresh EC and CRZ for the project and highlighted the alleged violations and non-compliance of conditions imposed during previous clearances, from objections related to site selection, violation of wetland rules, bird strike hazard safety, furnishing of incomplete information by Cidco to livelihood risks, impact of heritage areas and ecosystems near NMIA.

The present site was selected for this project despite the fact that 26% of the airport site falls in CRZ-1 (most ecologically sensitive) category and comprised 400 acres of mangroves, 1,000 acres of mud flats and 250 acres of forest lands, environmentalists from Mumbai-based Conservation Action Trust (CAT) alleged in a letter to EAC last year. “The haste in [pre-development] reclamation led to flooding across Kombudbhuj, Dungi, Paragaon, Khalche Owale and Bhangarpada villages across Ulwe,” the letter alleged. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/central-govt-panel-recommends-fresh-environmental-clearance-for-navi-mumbai-airport-101636557381450.html  (10 Nov. 2021)

West Bengal Women plant mangrove saplings in Sunderbans Local women are working with a non-profit to plant the saplings, hoping to save the embankments from floods, storms, and cyclones. https://scroll.in/video/1010350/watch-women-plant-mangrove-saplings-in-sunderbans-as-threats-of-powerful-cyclones-loom-large  (11 Nov. 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Tamil Nadu 49 parched irrigation tanks in Tirunelveli get water after 30 years Forty-nine parched irrigation tanks, which remained largely dry for over thirty years due to encroachment of clogged irrigation channels, have now received water from Hanuman River, due to the timely efforts taken by Collector V. Vishnu to remove the man-made obstacles at various places along the 39 km-long watercourse of the river.

This operation has resurrected farming operations on over 10,000 acres after a gap of 30 years. Mr. Vishnu, after visiting a number of dry water bodies – both systematised and non-systematised – across the district in the first week of July, came out with the plan, ‘Nellai Neervalam’ (Tirunelveli Water Resources). The objective was to rejuvenate the ponds and the irrigation tanks with public participation.

Besides digitizing information pertaining to the water bodies of Tirunelveli district, steps were taken to ensure free flow of water into these irrigation tanks and ponds by desilting the neglected irrigation channels and removing illegal structures obstructing the flow of water into these water bodies. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/49-parched-irrigation-tanks-in-tirunelveli-district-get-water-after-30-years/article37455789.ece  (12 Nov. 2021)

Pune Khadki cantonment start rejuvenating water bodies Pune and Khadki cantonment boards have started rejuvenating natural water bodies in their jurisdiction as a part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. Altogether 24 water bodies have been identified in 19 cantonments, including in Pune, Khadki and Dehu Road in the Southern Command area of the army. The Pune cantonment has initiated the work of rejuvenating a natural spring at Muredha garden and a jogging park in the army residential area near turf club, the Khadki cantonment board has desilted and cleaned two British-era water wells in the Khadki bazaar area. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/pune-khadki-cantts-start-rejuvenating-water-bodies/articleshow/87674087.cms  (13 Nov. 2021)

GROUNDWATER

Paper Building resilient agricultural system through groundwater management interventions in degraded landscapes of Bundelkhand This paper quantifies the impact of rainwater management (RWM) interventions on major water balance components, irrigation use, crop intensification and energy consumption and their interrelationships. The study shows a huge untapped potential for sustainable crop intensification by adopting science-based natural resource management approach in fragile eco regions of the semi-arid tropics. RWM interventions harvested additional 35 mm of surface runoff in various masonry structures and facilitated groundwater recharge from 720 mm rainfall received. The net groundwater recharge during monsoon season was estimated 75−80 mm; out of this, 25 % (15−20 mm) was used in kharif and 75 % (50−60 mm) in rabi season. Groundwater recharge largely took place in wet and normal years due to RWM interventions, which supported for meeting freshwater demand in recurring dry years.

– Highlights: Rainwater harvesting interventions build groundwater resilience by diverting fraction of runoff into shallow aquifers. Increased groundwater availability enhanced crop intensification from 120 % to 180 %. Significant fallow land has been converted into productive cultivation with assured irrigation availability. The time required to refill dug wells decreased by 50 % with every meter increment in hydraulic head. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214581821001580 

Maharashtra Average groundwater level up by 2.78m in Marathwada 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. The GSDA, as a part of its groundwater level assessment exercise, surveyed 875 dug wells across different talukas of Marathwada.

GSDA deputy director Bhimrao Meshram said the surplus rainfall observed across Maharashtra during the outgoing monsoon had increased the level of underground water. “It is one of the record rises in groundwater level in Marathwada in the past decade. The increased water table will suffice the needs of drinking water and other purposes till the next monsoon,” he said. “Some of the wells surveyed were almost filled to the brim and water can be taken out in bucket with hands. In September, we had reports of water spilling out on its own from a few hand pumps from the region. Such rise in groundwater level can ensure almost year-round supply of water through borewells for drinking and agriculture needs,” Meshram said.

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, however, has appealed to residents for the judicious use of water highlighting the vagaries of the monsoon. 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)

URBAN WATER

Chennai Drinking water down drain Days of heavy rain have eaten into about two thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of drinking water in the past four days in neighbouring Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts. Authorities were forced to release surplus water from Poondi, Red Hills and Chembarambakkam reservoirs which were fast reaching their full capacities thanks to the spate of showers, a senior engineer from the public works department said.

The engineer explained that PWD’s Compendium Rules and Regulations mandate that all reservoirs must maintain their water level at a minimum of two feet below its full capacity. This is particularly important during the monsoon.

Former PWD assistant executive engineer S Thirunavukkarasu said an amendment should be brought into this provision in the compendium of rules to increase the storage levels. The reservoirs that supply water to the Chennai should be allowed to maintain levels at 1ft below the full reservoir level. Bringing in this change in the rules will help in reducing the amount of surplus water let out into the sea. Conducting soil tests based on permeability at the reservoir’s bed and then taking up the desilting can also help in increasing the water storage capacity in each reservoir, he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-drinking-water-down-the-drain/articleshow/87637143.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

Sewage-mixed drinking water threatens health Though rainwater has receded on Jawahar Street in Kodungaiyur, about 200 families continue to suffer. Sewage has stagnated in front of their houses, and mixed with their drinking water. This is a perennial problem though and the recent rains only made matters worse, they said. While the Health Department has been raising awareness on clearing sumps and boiling water before drinking to prevent infectious diseases, residents of Jawahar Street said the supply from the pipeline is bad and has an unbearable stench. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/nov/15/chennai-sewage-mixed-drinking-water-threatens-health-2383669.html  (15 Nov. 2021)

Bengaluru Inflated water bills vex Jogupalya residents  A building inhabited by 10 people in Jogupalya, near Ulsoor, received a water bill of a whopping Rs 78,830 for the month of October. Owner Sunil Kumar S generally gets a bill of Rs 3,000. Jogupalya residents claim 80% of households in the area faced a similar issue in October. Besides Sunil, TOI spoke to one more resident, Sai Narasimhan, who also complained of excess billing. BWSSB officials conceded that billing has been among the most-discussed issues at its weekly water adalats. They said the board will need to use technology to resolve the matter. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/inflated-water-bills-vex-jogupalya-residents/articleshow/87705807.cms   (15 Nov. 2021)

Chandigarh 24×7 water supply project launched in Manimajra As per the municipal corporation (MC), the project is aimed at switching from intermittent supply to 24×7 continuous pressurised supply system. This project will involve new waterworks with 4 MGD additional storage, 13,700 smart meters, 20km of new lines, and automated monitoring of system. The existing 37 tubewells will be phased out. The project is to be carried out at ₹162 crore, including cost of 15 years’ operation and maintenance. The work is expected to be completed by August 2023. To cover the entire city, the French firm, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) is to provide ₹413 crore for the project in the form of a loan, which is to be repaid in 15 years. In addition to it, the European Union (EU) is also giving a grant of ₹98 crore to the project. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/chandigarh-24×7-water-supply-project-launched-in-manimajra-101636829211997.html  (14 Nov. 2021)

Garbage plant final report in January: Adviser UT adviser Dharam Pal has said the final report, including detailed project report (DPR) and request for proposal (RFP), for the waste to energy plant will be in place only in January. Earlier, the administration and municipal corporation (MC) were aiming for it before the MC poll code of conduct came into force. The elections are scheduled in December. As it is an important document related with the garbage processing plant, the administration did not want it to be finalised in a hurry. There will be detailed discussion before finalising it, the adviser said.

In October, Pal had asked the MC officials to coordinate with IIT, Ropar, and aim for finalising the DPR and the RFP before the code of conduct. It was only after Pal’s warning in the beginning of July that the MC house had awarded the work to IIT, Ropar, in July end. Pal had directed former MC commissioner K K Yadav that if the MC could not finalise a technology for 100% processing of garbage, the UT would directly do it. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/now-garbage-plant-final-report-in-january-chandigarh-adviser/articleshow/87617332.cms  (10 Nov. 2021)

Ghaziabad RO plants to hotels, water at 35 spots fail safety test Chief medical officer Dr Bhavtosh Shankhdhar has written to the district administration after water samples collected from at least 35 establishments, including RO plants and hotels, failed the safety standard test. The water sampling tests were conducted by the health department, in a joint operation with various civic bodies, between September and October across the district. Nearly 80 samples of the total 325 water samples collected by the regional public health laboratory this year since January, failed the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) test, indicating that drinking water contains E.coli bacteria, officials said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ghaziabad/ro-plants-to-hotels-water-at-35-spots-in-ghaziabad-fail-safety-test/articleshow/87705096.cms  (15 Nov. 2021)

Mumbai Massacre of trees at MIDC plot City activists and environmentalists have decried the ongoing illegal cutting of trees inside an MIDC plot near Mhape Naka in Navi Mumbai, as they said that due process of law was not followed to completely clear the green cover from this land.

“As many as 70 big trees and several smaller trees have been deliberately and illegally cut inside the ‘P2’ plot of MIDC in Ghansoli node, near Mhape Naka, even though I had personally pointed out that no proper administrative procedure was followed. This is a fit case for taking MIDC to court for showing no respect to our trees or the environment. What was the big hurry to cut all these trees at once?” said RTI activist Anarjit Chauhan. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-massive-massacre-of-green-trees-at-midc-plot-rues-activist/articleshow/87342776.cms  (28 Oct. 2021)

WATER

CWC As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 11.11.2021, live storage available in these reservoirs is 138.05 BCM, which is 80% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 146.48 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 126.63 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 133 reservoirs as per 11.11.2021 Bulletin is 94% of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 109% of storage of average of last ten years.

Opinion National water policy and action plan for India 2020 Dr. Prashant Prabhakar Deshpande The management of water has to be done in a decentralised way, in partnership with the local communities and the concerned state governments. Different regions of the country, endowed differently with water, in the form of precipitation, surface flows and ground water, need their own region-specific water policy. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/truth-lies-and-politics/national-water-policy-and-action-plan-for-india-2020-part-1/  (08 Nov. 2021)

Report Importance of water data Peter Gleick from Pacific Institute and Rohini Nilekani from Arghyam, join to talk about the role and importance of water data and the trends they have observed in the sector through decades of practice. They will also discuss the challenges and gaps in the water data ecosystem and how we can collaborate better, learn from each other and bring about a culture of using water data in decision making. https://talkingaboutwater.org/episodes/talking-about-water 

AGRICULTURE

Opinion Sustainable farm practices need of the hour Article in TRIBUNE on Nov 15, 2021 by SANDRP Coordinator: One of the impacts of climate change is the increased gap between two rainfall events and high-intensity rainfall when it does occur. Increased soil moisture-holding capacity would help in both cases: provide the roots access to water when the gap between two rainfall events increases and absorb more of the rainfall when it does rain. Thus, increased soil moisture can help farmers adapt to the vagaries of rainfall induced by climate change to a significant extent. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/features/sustainable-farm-practices-need-of-the-hour-338336  (15 Nov. 2021)

Report Book on agrobiodiversity of Meghalaya, Nagaland launched Khweng has the highest agrobiodiversity with over 319 crops followed by Marmain, which are both villages from Ri Bhoi, indicating rich biodiversity in the communities. This was informed by Senior Associate, Research, North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS), Dr. Bhogtoram Mawroh, at a state-level dissemination workshop on findings of micro-nutrient rich and climate resilient crop species at Khweng on Tuesday (Nov. 9).

He highlighted the key factors of mapping study which was held in Khweng and Khliehumstem from Bhoirymbong, Ri Bhoi. The workshop aimed at sharing the findings of the participatory mapping, production plan and assessment of increase production with the communities. The rankings are based on different indicators and it was found that most of the traditional crops were micro-nutrient rich species (MNRS) and climate resilient species (CRS). The book is considered an encyclopaedia of food plants that are found in the Indigenous Food Systems of Meghalaya and Nagaland. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/11/10/highest-agrobiodiversity-of-crops-in-ri-bhois-khweng/  (10 Nov. 2021)

NORTH EAST MONSOON 2021

IMD Forecasts another low pressure; will Chennai get more rain? Even as the depression over the Bay of Bengal is yet to cross the coast, the IMD on Thursday (Nov. 11) said a fresh low pressure area is likely to form over South Andaman Sea around November 13. The IMD tweeted, “A fresh low pressure area is likely to form over south Andaman sea and neighbourhood around November 13. It is likely to move west-northwestwards and become more marked during the subsequent 48 hours.” Weather blogger Pradeep John said there are chances of the new system moving higher in latitude. “Chennai may get rain but not like the one we are seeing now,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/imd-forecasts-another-low-pressure-will-chennai-get-more-rain/articleshow/87645649.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

IMD extended into Wednesday (Nov. 10) evening the timeline for the well-marked low-pressure area over south Bay of Bengal to intensify as a depression, while it touched a raw nerve along the rain-weary Tamil Nadu coast by predicting the formation of a successor low-pressure area around the same region by the weekend and its intensification. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/imd-sees-another-low-taking-shape-in-the-bay-by-weekend/article37412356.ece  (11 Nov. 2021)

FLOOD 2021

Source: The Times of India, Nov 10, 2021.

Tamil Nadu Kanyakumari floods worsened by dam overflow Over flow from the Perunchani dam broke through from a canal at Kutriyani, leading to inundation of paddy fields and homes in the area. Waters of both Nadan Kulam near Erachakulam and Periya Kulam near Senbagaramanputhur broke their banks, leading to flooding in neighbouring villages. Canals in Peyankuzhi and Villukuri villages also overflowed causing flooding on railway tracks at Nullivilai for three kilometres.  Water had been released from Peruchani dam and Pechiparai reservoir, causing inundation of many villages like Nanjil Nagar and Kothai. Both the Thamirabarani and Pazhayar rivers overflowed and flooded villages nearby.

Hundreds of people have been shifted to relief camps as canals and dams overflowed inundating paddy fields and homes. According to a statement by the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority (TNDSMA), Perunchani and Puthan dams both received 220 mm of rainfall, while Suralacode received 140 mm and Kannimar received 100 mm.  Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management KKSSR Ramachandran said that apart from the heavy rainfall, housing encroachments in paddy fields is one of the reasons for the severe flooding witnessed in the district.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/kanyakumari-floods-worsened-dam-overflow-hundreds-relief-camps-157598  (14 Nov. 2021)

Check dam in Villupuram breaks down for second time in a year A check dam constructed across the Thenpennai river at Thalavanur in Villupuram district broke down on Tuesday (Nov 9, 2021) in the wake of incessant rainfall, officials said. This is the second instance of the dam getting damaged within a year. The Public Works Department had restored a portion of the dam that got damaged during rain in January 2021.

The dam is located between Cuddalore and Villupuram districts. (Express Photo)

The dam is located between Cuddalore and Villupuram districts. It has six vents – three in Enathimangalam on the Cuddalore side and three in Thalavanur on the Villupuram side. The dam was constructed during the AIADMK regime at a cost of Rs 25 crore. It was inaugurated by former Tamil Nadu law minister C Ve Shanmugam in September 2020. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chennai/tamil-nadu-rains-check-dam-in-villupuram-breaks-down-for-second-time-in-a-year-7615233/  (09 Nov. 2021)

Northeast Monsoon Coordinator and Monitoring Officer for Virudhunagar district C. Kamaraj inspected Pilavakkal Periyar and Sasthakoil dams and reviewed the state of preparedness in the district to face the monsoon rain, here on Thursday (Nov. 11).  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/dam/article37443958.ece  (11 Nov. 2021)

Several Reservoirs Almost Full Tamil Nadu has recorded 50 per cent plus rainfall above normal during the ongoing North East monsoon season from October 1 till date and 53 of the 90 key reservoirs crossed 76 per cent storage, authorities said. During this period, the rainfall recorded in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry was 38 CM, which is 51 per cent above normal, 25 CM being the usual level. As regards Chennai district, for the same period, the experienced downpour was 61 CM while the usual is 41 CM, which is 50 per cent above normal, Deputy Director General of Meteorology, S Balachandran said. https://www.ndtv.com/tamil-nadu-news/tn-records-50-per-cent-plus-more-rainfall-a-chunk-of-reservoirs-inching-close-to-full-level-2605865  (10 Nov. 2021)

“Authorities have issued a final flood warning for Theni and adjourning low-lying areas and released 1000 cusecs of water from Vaigai dam tonight,” said Vaigai dam’s Assistant Engineer Selvam. https://www.ndtv.com/tamil-nadu-news/flood-warning-issued-for-tamil-nadus-theni-adjourning-low-lying-areas-2605066  (10 Nov. 2021)  

The third and final flood warning will be given at 10 pm tonight when the water level in the Vaigai dam reaches 69 feet against the full reservoir capacity of 71 feet. Following the third flood alarm, 1,000 cusecs will be discharged from the reservoir into river Vaigai. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/water-to-be-released-from-vaigai-dam/articleshow/87611050.cms  (09 Nov. 2021)

The combined storage of reservoirs in Tamil Nadu is inching towards 200 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft). On November 10, it was 199.165 tmc ft, accounting for 89% of the capacity of 90 reservoirs.

In respect of reservoirs supplying water to Chennai, their levels have been lowered in anticipation of further floods. Consequently, their combined storage varies from 73% to 83%.

As for the State’s realisation of Cauvery water, the total realisation since June 1 has exceeded the 150 tmc ft-mark. Up until November 8, it was about 151.64 tmc ft, which was 4.6 tmc ft in excess of the State’s share for the elapsed period. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/reservoirs-combined-storage-inching-towards-200-tmc-ft/article37429320.ece  (10 Nov. 2021)

River Kosasthalaiyar (Part of east flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanyakumari) at Monnavedu level monitoring site in Tiruvallur district has crossed previous HFL 100.3 m attained on 05.12.2020. Present flood level 100.53 m at 17:00 hrs with rising trend which is 0.23 m higher than previous HFL.

River Kallar (part of east flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanyakumari) at Poyyapakkam level monitoring site in Ranipet district has breached previous HFL 100.94 m dated 10.12.2020. Current flood level is 101.55 m at 22:00 hrs, 11.11.2021 which is 0.61 m higher than previous HFL. The trend is rising. Its newly added site by CWC.

River Araniar (part of east flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanyakumari) at Puduvayal newly functioning level monitoring site in Tiruvallur district has breached old HFL 97.47 m dated 27.1.2020. New HFL 99.25m at 08:00hrs on 12.11.2021 which is 1.78 m higher than old HFL. Falling trend but river still flowing at 98.65m 13:00 hrs, 12.11.2021 which is above old HFL.

Its second time this year when Kodaiyar river (part of west flowing rivers from Tadri to Kanyakumari) at Thiruvarambu level forecast site in Kanyakumari district has breached previous HFL. It first set 14.68 m new HFL on 26.05.2021 by crossing old HFL 14.58 m dated 15.08.2018 and now May 2021 HFL is also breached. Present flood level is 15.7 m at 22:00 hrs on 13.11.2021 with rising trend.

Andhra Pradesh River Nagari a tributary of Kosasthaliyar and part of east flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanyakumari  at Buggaagraharam a newly added level monitoring site in Chittoor district has crossed previous HFL 94.75 m dated 27.11.2020 by 0.7 m rise thus setting new HFL 95.45 m at 06:00 hrs on 12.11.2021. Level falling but still above old HFL.

Bihar Several injured as boat hits high tension wire in Ganga A boat carrying around 125-150 people in the Ganga river came in contact with a high tension wire in Vaishali district on Saturday (Aug. 14), leaving at least three dozen people injured. At least 15-20 people are reportedly missing. The boat left from Kacchi Dargah ghat at Fatuha in rural Patna for Raghopur riverine area of Vaishali at around 8 pm. Most of the passengers were daily wagers who came to Mokama and Patna in the morning and were returning home. When the boat reached the middle of the river, it collided with a high tension wire because of which at least three dozen people on board suffered burn injuries and many fell in the river and are reportedly missing. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/bihar-vaishali-boat-accident-ganga-river-injured-missing-1841047-2021-08-15  (15 Aug. 2021)

URBAN FLOODS

Chennai Weather-watchers helps people ride out storm As Chennai faces another severe bout of rains — the city has already exceeded its annual rainfall average with more than a month of monsoon left — its weather bloggers have been hard at work, posting regular forecasts on Twitter and Facebook. Accounts like Tamil Nadu Weatherman run by Pradeep John (377.9K followers), Chennai Rains, run by Srikanth and his group (119.6K), Chennai Weather run by Raja Ramasamy (99.9K) have been buzzing with activity — as have other similar accounts with variations of these words (Tamil Nadu, Chennai, rain, monsoon) in their handles.

“I don’t look at weather blogging as just predicting whether it will rain or not, I try to explain why a certain phenomenon happens,” says Srikanth, who studies weather models, cyclone patterns, wind charts and so on using satellite images available in the public domain. He uses these visual cues to break down information into three parts: a recap of the phenomenon that took place the previous day, how it is looking now, and what different weather models predict for the next 24 hours.

While these are the dilemmas of the urban world, in interior Tamil Nadu, especially in farm regions, weather forecasts are crucial to livelihoods. Greater accessibility to meteorological data has increased its popularity among laypersons. Farmer P Periyasamy has seen his ancestors predict rains by closely observing clouds and paying attention to winds. “I too can tell, to a certain extent,” says the 30-year-old. But he combines his native knowledge with technology. “I started with IMD radar to keep track of the weather,” he says. Some seven years ago, when he had not yet upgraded to a smartphone, he passed on what he learned from the radar to farmers in the neighbourhood.

This cultural wave has mushroomed; there is now a weather blogger in almost each locality in the city. This, VV believes, is essential. “Official rain gauges may be 10 kilometres from your place and during thunderstorms, even one kilometre makes a huge difference in the amount of rainfall received,” he says. The idea, after all, is to create a weather-wise community, which can only happen through repeated observations of which weather models work for which regions, and knowledge of the local infrastructure. Something that Chennai’s kids seem to understand already. All of 16, S Saran, a weather geek, uses Facebook and WhatsApp to talk about all things weather with like-minded people. “I am part of groups in which there are several people my age,” he says. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-weather-bloggers-help-ride-out-the-storm/article37412893.ece  (10 Nov. 2021)

How Mandaveli streets averted waterlogging Ganga Sridhar is an active volunteer for SWM Initiatives in Chennai, and a member of Kapaleecharam. As part of a group of residents who suffered a similar fate during the Chennai floods of 2015, I would like to share my experience on how we managed to avert a similar situation this time. The years after the 2015 floods saw the residents of a few streets of Mandaveli come together to invest time and effort to ensure that the plight they suffered would not be repeated. That we succeeded to a large extent is evident from the fact that we have been able to avoid water-logging in the face of the rain fury a couple of days back. https://chennai.citizenmatters.in/chennai-floods-mandaveli-rains-stormwater-drains-citizen-action-35663  (09 Nov. 2021)

Armed with the expertise garnered from their relief work during the pandemic, Chennai’s online and on-ground volunteers are back in action as the city witnesses heavy spells of rain.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-volunteers-spring-to-action-amid-flood-warnings/article37417185.ece  (09 Nov. 2021)

Broken radars; conflicting weather reports added to flood chaos Two out of three radars were out of order just before the floods of November 6. And a look at weather bulletins show that IMD and Regional Met department made conflicting predictions.

Chennai received rains in excess of 20 cm on the night of November 6, the heaviest spell since the 2015 floods. However, a broken, outdated and ill-maintained weather prediction system used by the Regional Meteorological Department failed to predict that the city would witness such heavy rainfall in a short span of 24 hours. An official from the Regional Meteorological Department, Chennai, confirmed that two weather radars — one in Chennai and another in Karaikal — had been under maintenance on November 6, totally failing to predict the record rainfall on November 7. But this is just one part of the problem.

While old and failed radars are an issue, there are other specific problems too, including different predictions by the same department and the overdependence on single systems. To understand Chennai’s problems, it is important to know the two kinds of weather predictions — nowcasting and forecasting.

This is not the first time that one or more weather radars around the city have stopped working ahead of a major spate of rains. In November 2020, in the week preceding cyclone Nivar, the IMD website showed that the Karaikal doppler weather radar was under maintenance. So in November 2020, the Meteorological department had to rely on the Sriharikota radar.

Three weather bloggers TNM spoke to including Srikant pointed out that dependence on one system was India’s biggest problem. “Just the GFS system is not enough, we need different prediction models and calibration. Or these kinds of events will recur,” one of the bloggers told TNM.

“The issue is that satellite imagery tends to underestimate or overestimate rainfall intensity. For Saturday (Nov. 6), the satellite images did show deep convective clouding over the region. But many bloggers, including myself, failed to predict the scale or intensity of rains that the region would receive. We expected heavy rains, but on Sunday morning the most rainfall was received in a span of 45 minutes in two spells. Such was the intensity,” Srikant explained. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/broken-radars-and-conflicting-weather-reports-added-chennai-s-flood-chaos-157416  (09 Nov. 2021)

Shortage of key device affects accuracy of weather forecasts  An IMD official said they failed to forecast the circulation that brought heavy rain to the city last weekend due to lack of upper air observations. “These instruments can give you the circulation’s location and direction. Last weekend, we could have picked up the circulation, which came close, and forecast its movement if we had upper air data,” an IMD official said.

“In Chennai, we have not generated upper air data using GPS sonde in the last six months because we do not have these instruments. Using satellite data alone is causing a lot of errors in our forecast.” IMD’s upper air instruments division-monitoring system webpage shows that the instrument was flown only in Mangaluru on Tuesday (Nov. 9).

“Data from radiosonde is a major input for running numerical weather prediction models. Satellite data is only a backup and not the actual observation. Satellite data can be verified only with data generated from radiosonde,” former IMD deputy director general Y E A Raj said. “In case of a low pressure area, a satellite can identify it and show how much it has moved. But it cannot forecast.”

M Ravichandran, secretary, ministry of earth sciences said there is a shortage of the instrument as imports were stopped due to the pandemic. “For southern regions, including Chennai, we have mobilised pilot balloons. These balloons can ascend to 12km, which is enough for a forecast, because there won’t be much change in the atmosphere beyond 12km. We also have satellite and radar data,” he said. “We have placed orders. We should get them by November-end.” However, officials said pilot balloons, flown using a lit candle, is an age-old method and is not reliable on cloudy or rainy days. IMD floated a tender to procure 34,400 GPS-based radiosondes. But it may take at least four months for delivery. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/shortage-of-key-device-affects-accuracy-of-weather-forecasts/articleshow/87614398.cms  (10 Nov. 2021)

Chennai Corp makes us cry for water; die in water: HC  “For half of the year we are made to cry for water and for another half we are made to die in water,” Madras high court said on Tuesday (Nov. 9) while pulling up the Greater Chennai Corporation for its failure to take adequate measures to prevent inundation in the city during rain. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu wondered as to what the authorities were doing for the past five years after 2015 floods. The bench also warned of initiating suo motu proceedings if the situation was not brought under control.

Similarly, while hearing another PIL alleging encroachment of waterbody, the court said, “The ongoing rain and the floods in and around Chennai and elsewhere in the state should be a lesson for government officials to take immediate action against any person attempting to encroach on any waterbody or the paths for flowing water during rainy season.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-corporation-makes-us-cry-for-water-and-die-in-water-madras-high-court/articleshow/87599905.cms  (09 Nov. 2021)

What were authorities doing post-2015 floods?  High Court asks some right questions, one hopes it takes action irrespective of the status of floods during the week end. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/what-were-authorities-doing-post-2015-floods-asks-madras-hc-warns-chennai-corporation-of-suo-motu-proceedings-1048755.html  (09 Nov. 2021)

Synopsis: A 2017 flood report says that the Tamil Nadu government desilted over 22,000 tanks, 11,000 km of water bodies and recharged nearly 7,000 pits following the 2015 floods. The way forward is to modernise these operations, instal sensors to monitor water flow and take pre-emptive action against silting. The numbers involved are massive. Timely local action is of paramount import to prevent urban flooding. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/et-editorial/supply-chains-at-risk-from-urban-floods/articleshow/87654037.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

The link between increasing floods in Chennai and shrinking wetlands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRSDejydYRw  (11 Nov. 2021)

Our ancestors understood these facets of India’s water, and to bridge the gap between seasonal supply and perennial demand, they built water storage in the form of tanks. Tanks, or man-made lakes, act as receptacles for the local rainfall to flow into, which then recharges groundwater. Indeed, in a study of over 50 tanks, the Sundaram Climate Institute (SCI) found that areas close to a tank had far higher groundwater levels even while giving a place for intense rainfall to flow into. Thus, tanks reduce rainfall volatility — they lessen the odds of flooding during downpours, and add to your groundwater in the summer. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/to-fix-our-broken-relationship-with-water-lets-look-to-our-ancestors/  (13 Nov. 2021)

Recurring floods in major cities point to need for moving away from land-centric urbanism writes Amitangshu Acharya, Ajaya Dixit:- In the last two decades, floods in South Asia have become urban. All cities in the subcontinent are waterscapes. They are threaded with rivers, speckled with wetlands and springs, and they rest on invisible aquifers. Yet, driven by a thirst for land, our cities are planned to subjugate water, not live with it. It is this land-centrism that undermines urban drainage.

– In 2014, Gubbi Labs, a research collective in Bengaluru, established through geospatial imaging that 376 km of natural storm drains — encroached on and paved over — had disappeared from the heart of the Silicon Valley of India. In 2015, the National Green Tribunal in India formed a committee to report on the status of natural stormwater drains in Delhi. On inspection, out of the 201 “drains” recorded in 1976, 44 were found to be “missing”. In both cases, these “missing” waterways were either encroached and built over or connected to sewage drains. The apathy for restoring disappearing urban waterways, stands in stark contrast to the Indian government’s recent obsession with reviving ancient rivers.

– Poor design and corruption — inseparable bedfellows in South Asian urban planning — significantly contribute to urban floods. The size of their outlets of the stormwater drains should be based on the intensity of rainfall (mm/per hour) and the peak flow inside the drains. In most South Asian countries, however, either design guidelines are missing, or the outlets are too small to accommodate peak flow. In specific areas of Karachi, for example, stormwater drains from real-estate properties are directed towards main roads. Little surprise then that above-average rainfall produces flooded localities.

– Similarly, by violating environmental laws and municipal bye-laws, open spaces, wetlands and floodplains have been mercilessly built over, making cities impermeable and hostile to rainwater.

– Massive quantities of water released during intense short-duration rainfall now get diverted towards drainage networks which are either “missing”, or choked with debris, sewage and solid waste. Whatever water does manage to reach the nearest river finds that the bank has been converted to real estate, and the river bed mined extensively for sand.

– To heal the hydrophobia that has shaped our urban experience, we need to move away from land-centric urbanisation and recognise cities as waterscapes. We need to let urban rivers breathe by returning them to their floodplains. One restored lake or a reclaimed waterway, though welcome, is no longer adequate. The entire urban watershed needs to heal, and for that to happen, we need less concrete and more democracy and science at the grassroots. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/chennai-floods-climate-crisis-7618776/  (13 Nov. 2021)

The floods were no natural disaster, but one stitched over the last half-a-decade, courtesy poor planning by Greater Chennai Corporation.

What’s more, a CMWSSB engineer told me that the sewage system in Chennai is supposed to carry 960 million litres a day, but maybe pumping 5,000 million litres a day, as excess rainwater in many areas drains through their network. However, there is no way to corroborate this because the opaque CMWSSB does not even put out minutes of its meetings online. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/chennai-stagnating-sewage-mandaveli-symptom-bigger-disease-157569  (13 Nov. 2021)

Chennai has received rainfall above 1,000 millimetres during November only thrice during the past 200 years, Pradeep John tweeted November 11, 2021. These dates are: 1985 (1,101 mm), 1918 (1,088 mm) and 2015 (1,049 mm). The city had already recorded 709 mm of rainfall till 2.00 pm November 11 and more than 19 days of the month were still left, he added. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/chennai-may-break-its-own-record-for-november-rainfall-80169  (11 Nov. 2021)

Rs 200 cr for flood mitigation down drain? In T Nagar, the Chennai corporation had spent over Rs 110 crore to construct stormwater drains during 2019-2021 and under area-based development of the Smart Cities Mission, nearly Rs 80 crore was spent to restore the Mambalam canal to help divert rainwater in the area to mitigate floods. However, these expensive projects turned out to be in vain as the Corporation staff are now forced to remove the bunds which were constructed as part of the Mambalam restoration project to enable draining of water. Officials said it was a temporary measure and the bunds will be reconstructed after the rains. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/nov/09/rs-200-crore-for-flood-mitigation-in-t-nagar-down-drain-2381170.html  (09 Nov. 2021)

In West Mambalam, where there were areas under knee-deep water, the civic body removed more than 180 tonne of plastic waste and other solid waste after which water has now begun flowing in the canal. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-rain-when-small-plastic-covers-played-a-role-in-inundating-city-streets/articleshow/87647716.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

The Asian Development Bank and the Central Government have signed a $251-million loan agreement for the Integrated Urban Flood Management for the Chennai-Kosasthalaiyar River Basin Project. As part of the project, flood protection infrastructure will be constructed along with strengthening the capacity of the Greater Chennai Corporation and communities for better preparedness planning to transform Chennai into a more livable city. The project will involve construction of 588 km of new stormwater drains, rehabilitate or replace 175 km of stormwater drains, improve 11 km stretches in the Ambattur, Ariyallur, Kadappakkam, and Korattur channels to enhance water-carrying capacity, and upgrade a stormwater pumping station and construct a new one. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/centre-ties-up-251-m-adb-loan-for-chennai-flood-protection-project/article37180095.ece  (27 Oct. 2021)

Source: The Times of India, Nov 11, 2021

WRD diverts surplus water from Poondi reservoir Excess water from the Poondi reservoir is being released into Kosasthalaiyar river since October 10. On Wednesday (Nov. 10), nearly 5,000 cusecs of surplus water is being let out through floodgates and water level is maintained at 32.9 feet against the full level of 35 ft.

Officials of the WRD said, considerable level of excess water from the Poondi reservoir that flows through the Kosasthalaiyar river, was already stored in nearly 14 storage structures like checkdams, including in Tamaraipakkam, Thirukandalam and Perumbakkam, before draining into sea. A minimum of 1,000 mcft of water would have been released from the Poondi reservoir. In a bid to save more rainwater, the WRD is now diverting 700 cusecs of water from Poondi to Cooum river through the 15-km Link Canal near Aranvoyal, which carries excess water from Poondi to Chembarambakkam reservoirs.

Though the Cooum river in city limits carries some floodwater from local areas, the river upstream still largely remains dry. In Tiruvallur district, nearly 83 of 324 tanks, including Paruthipattu and Koilpadagai near Avadi, have reached their full capacity. Similarly, Ambattur, Korattur, Madhavaram, Retteri and Kadapakkam lakes in Chennai limits have also filled up. Nearly 246 of 528 tanks in Chengalpattu district reached their full capacity as on Wednesday. Similarly, 158 tanks in Kancheepuram district are full and most others, over 25%-75% full so far, officials added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/wrd-diverts-surplus-water-from-poondi-reservoir/article37430595.ece  (11 Nov. 2021)

PWD officials increased the release of surplus water from Red Hills and Poondi reservoirs in Chennai on Thursday (Nov. 11) as the catchment areas received heavy rain. A senior PWD engineer said since 6am, 2000 thousand cubic feet of water per second (cusecs) was released from Red Hills reservoir and 5,000 cusecs from the Poondi reservoir.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-floods-more-water-is-being-released-from-red-hills-and-poondi-reservoirs/articleshow/87645246.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

DISASTERS

Report India lost $87 billion to climate disasters in 2020 The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) noted in its State of the Climate in Asia report that India had suffered losses of $87 billion last year due to disasters like cyclones, floods, and droughts. India’s loss was second to China’s, which lost $238 billion. The past year was the warmest on record in Asia, with a mean temperature 1.39 degrees Celsius above the average from 1981 to 2010, highlighting the upcoming climate crisis. Furthermore, according to the Climate Vulnerability Index by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar are most vulnerable to extreme climate events such as floods, droughts and cyclones in India. There are 27 states and union territories in India that are vulnerable to extreme climate events, which often disrupt local economies and displace weaker communities. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-lost-87-billion-to-climate-disasters-in-2020-report-101635272896946.html  (27 Oct. 2021)

Uttarakhand ISRO inks pact with USDMA for satellite-based mountain As per the MoU, IIRS will monitor glacial lakes, glaciers, landslide zones and avalanche-prone areas through satellites. The move is expected to help the state — which has seen several natural disasters in the recent past – get timely alerts about detectable natural calamities in advance so that it is better placed to respond to such catastrophes. According to an estimate, there are over 1,000 glaciers and over 1,200 small and big glacial lakes in the higher mountainous region.

Girish Joshi, senior consultant, USDMA, told TOI that “the disaster management authority is going to extend Rs 3 crore to the IIRS for the study and regular monitoring of glacial lakes, glaciers, landslides and avalanche for next two years.” Significantly, 298 people have been killed and 66 reported missing in weather-related disasters this year alone in Uttarakhand. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/isro-inks-pact-with-uttarakahnds-disaster-management-authority-for-satellite-based-mountain-hazard-assessment/articleshow/87634681.cms  (11 Nov. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Kangra bans trekking above 3,000 metres mountain passes District administration has banned trekking in all mountain passes above 3,000 metres in Kangra district under Section 34 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Kangra’s Nipun Jindal district magistrate cum Deputy Commissioner issued an order banning trekking above 3,000 metres on Wednesday (Nov. 10). The move has been taken after accidents of trekkers in the Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur districts. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/himachal-pradesh-this-district-bans-trekking-above-3-000-metres-mountain-passes-11636594482811.html  (11 Nov. 2021)

LANDSLIDES

Tamil Nadu 7 coaches of Kannur-Bengaluru train derail after boulders fall on them Seven coaches of the Kannur Bengaluru train derailed early on Friday, November 12, after falling boulders from a hill hit the running train. According to a statement from South Western Railway, seven coaches of train no 07390 Kannur-Bengaluru Express, two of 3rd AC class and five sleeper coaches (B1, B2, S6, S7, S8, S9 and S10), derailed. The accident took place in Muthampatti between Toppuru and Sivadi in Tamil Nadu. There were 2,348 passengers travelling on the train, and all of them are safe, the authorities have said. No casualty or injury has been reported. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/seven-coaches-kannur-bengaluru-train-derail-after-boulders-fall-them-157517  (12 Nov. 2021)

THERMAL POWER

Mongabay  कोयला से बिजली पैदा होने वाले संयंत्रों को बंद करना चुनौतीपूर्ण काम, एनजीटी के आदेश पर तैयार हुआ दिशानिर्देश by Mayank Aggarwal एनजीटी के आदेश का पालन करते हुए केंद्रीय प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड ने कोयला आधारित ऊर्जा संयंत्रों को बंद करने के लिए दिशानिर्देश तैयार किए हैं। एनजीटी ने केंद्रीय पर्यावरण मंत्री से इस दिशानिर्देश के ड्राफ्ट को छह महीने के भीतर अंतिम रूप देने के लिए कहा है। ऐसे बिजली संयंत्रों को बंद करने के लिए एक व्यापक पर्यावरण प्रबंधन योजना और पर्यावरणीय प्रभाव मूल्यांकन (EIA) रिपोर्ट भी तैयार करवाने को कहा गया है। प्रस्तावित दिशानिर्देशों में पानी और हवा के मुद्दों, खतरनाक कचरे के प्रबंधन, राख, इलेक्ट्रॉनिक कचरे, निर्माण अपशिष्ट, जहरीले धातुओं, एस्बेस्टस, राख के तालाबों को बंद करने, रसायनों को निपटाने और संयंत्र बंद होने के बाद इसकी निगरानी सहित कई उपायों का सुझाव शामिल हैं। https://hindi.mongabay.com/2021/11/12/india-proposes-guidelines-for-decommissioning-coal-based-power-plants/  (12 Nov. 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Move to amend forest law raises concerns Comments on the proposed amendments to Forest Conservation Act, 1980: Submission to the MoEF by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.  https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/move-amend-forest-law-raises-concerns  (31 Oct. 2021)

Only six states have the rules necessary to operationalise the PESA Act’s provisions – yet the myth that PESA is alive and kicking prevails. https://thewire.in/rights/how-a-history-of-broken-promises-has-let-down-indias-scheduled-areas  (09 Nov. 2021)

Uttarakhand  ‘India’s first’ grass conservatory A grass conservatory spread across 2 acres and having 90 species of grass, which the Uttarakhand forest department claims to be the first of its kind in the country, was opened in Ranikhet on Sunday (Nov. 14) for the public. The germplasm conservation centre – built by the research wing of the forest department over three years using compensatory afforestation (CAMPA) funds – displays scientific, ecological, medicinal and cultural information related to all 90 grass species. Officials involved said some of the grass species housed at the centre, which is divided into seven segments, play a key role in controlling forest fires while others are good at averting human-wildlife incidents through their pungent grass-blade smell. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-develops-indias-1st-grass-conservatory-at-ranikhet-with-90-species/articleshow/87704347.cms  (15 Nov. 2021)

Forest officer quits Corbett investigation A week after being appointed as the Investigating Officer to probe alleged illegal constructions and tree felling in Corbett Tiger Reserve, Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi quit the probe Tuesday (Nov. 9), citing contradictory statements of senior government officials over his appointment.

Head of Forest Force Rajiv Bhartari had appointed Chaturvedi as the Investigating Officer on November 2 upon receipt of a site inspection report on October 22 by a committee constituted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The committee had prepared the report after visiting the site between Pakhrau Forest Rest House (FRH) and Kalagarh FRH in Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand.

In his letter to Bhartari, Chaturvedi said, “In my career I have conducted unbiased and lawful probes into hundreds of corruption cases… Those probes have earned the appreciation of institutions like the CBI, the CVC and parliamentary panels. But never did my very appointment to probe a case evoke the kind of nervousness, fear, confusion and apprehension as in this case.” He also enclosed a copy of a Hindi newspaper report which quoted Chief Wildlife Warden J S Suhag stating the matter (the right to conduct an inquiry) falls under his jurisdiction. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/forest-officer-quits-corbett-investigation-7615757/  (10 Nov. 2021)

“Under these conditions, it is not possible for the undersigned to conduct this investigation. In future, I should be appointed as the IO only when the department and state government have a clear intention to actually punish the real culprits in any corruption case,” Chaturvedi, the state’s chief conservator of forests in charge of the state forest research wing, said in his letter. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/corbett-tiger-reserve-whistleblower-ifs-officer-withdraws-from-investigation-101636457646869.html  (10 Nov. 2021)

A site inspection by a team of the regional office of MoEF at the Lansdowne forest division, adjoining CTR has revealed the extent of illegal construction happening in and around the premier tiger reserve. The area lies next to the Pakhro range of CTR, where a tiger safari is proposed. The team’s report, exclusively accessed by TOI, reveals that construction work was being carried out without the MoEF’s nod at an eco-park spread across 0.5 hectares of land in the forest division. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/site-inspection-by-moef-team-reveals-rs-9-cr-construction-at-lansdowne-forest-division-without-ministry-nod/articleshow/87572812.cms  (08 Nov. 2021)

Chaturvedi also asked senior officials to direct him to conduct the inquiry only after ‘clarity and surety’ among themselves first and when there is a ‘genuine intent’ to punish the wrongdoers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ifs-officer-chaturvedi-refuses-to-probe-illegal-constructions-in-corbett/articleshow/87613768.cms  (10 Nov. 2021)

I witnessed in Lansdowne recently that a huge tourism complex with a compound wall has been established by the same management in the area used by wild elephants. Several private resorts have come up and there is a proposal to widen the road from Kotdwar to Satpuli (NH 534) overlooking the fact that the area is an elephant habitat. It is reported that the National Tiger Conservation Authority has ordered for demolishing all illegal constructions by Forest Department. But several trees sacrificed for constructions cannot be brought back and also nothing can be done to prevent the expansion of private resorts. Forest officers concerned should be held accountable. https://www.deccanherald.com/specials/sunday-spotlight/diluting-strict-forest-laws-environmentalists-cry-foul-1050439.html  (14 Nov. 2021)

Uttarakhand has won prestigious national level awards in 3 categories in the field of tourism. The state earned Best Wildlife Destination, Best Adventure Destination and Best Spiritual Destination awards. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/uttarakhand-wins-three-awards-in-tourism-categories-2609067  (13 Nov. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh 185 structures to go in a week for 4-laning  As many as 185 structures would be razed in a week to pave way for four-laning of the Baddi-Nalagarh stretch on the NH-105. The owners of these structures were granted one-month period to vacate the buildings by Nalagarh SDM Mahendra Pal, who heads the competent authority for land acquisition. This period has already expired.

Executive engineers of the Jal Shakti Vibhag and HP State Electricity Board have been given directions to snap power and water connections of these structures. Some owners have already started demolishing their buildings. A stretch of 36 km from Pinjore to Nalagarh is to be widened. At least 17.37 km of it lies in Himachal, while the remaining is in Haryana. “A compensation of Rs 34 crore has already been disbursed to the owners of these 185 structures. Nearly 460 structures are to be razed on the entire Baddi-Nalagarh stretch,” said Pal. The four-laning of this section, which is prone to accidents and has hindered development in the area, has been much awaited by locals and industrialists. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/185-structures-to-go-in-a-week-for-4-laning-himachal-road-336053  (10 Nov. 2021)

Report Govt Trying to Exempt Hazardous oil Rigs From Green Clearances Policy reforms to dilute the environmental regime for hydrocarbon industries will help private players more as attempts are underway to weaken oil and natural gas PSUs. https://www.newsclick.in/Modi-Govt-Trying-Exempt-Hazardous-oil-Rigs-Green-Clearances  (11 Nov. 2021)

Haryana Govt’s unending dilemma: Forest or not a forest The govt says if it implements an order passed by Supreme Court in 2018, all the structures that stand on 40 per cent of state’s geographical area would have to be demolished. The state is now again looking to apex court for clarity, and further directions. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/haryanas-unending-dilemma-forest-or-not-a-forest-7621831/  (14 Nov. 2021)

Rajasthan Rare ‘pink’ leopard spotted first time A rare ‘pink’ leopard has been spotted in the Ranakpur region of Rajasthan for the first time. The Ranakpur region falls in the Aravalli hills of southern Rajasthan.  Earlier, pink leopard sightings were made in South Africa in 2012 and 2019. “The strawberry coloured leopard was occasionally claimed to have been sighted by local residents in Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh due to vast forest stretch,” a report in Times of India quoted Fateh Singh Rathore, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF). https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/rajasthan-rare-pink-leopard-spotted-in-ranakpur-region-in-aravallis-hills-for-first-time/830678  (10 Nov. 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

China-Nepal Chinese investment in Nepal faces resistance as it harms Nepali interests, benefits only Beijing Chinese investment in Nepal faces resistance from the local population, as many see Beijing’s promises regarding infrastructure advancement harming the Nepali interests, and benefitting only China. The challenges faced by the 30 MW Chameliya Hydropower Project, which was constructed by China in Nepal’s Darchula district, includes delays in the execution of the project, leading to huge cost overruns. With work started in 2010, it is one of the most costly projects executed. It was expected to be completed in three years, but was completed in 2018. The cost has gone up from Nepali Rs 6 B to Rs 16 B. https://english.khabarhub.com/2021/11/219495/  (11 Nov. 2021)

Nepal How a flood destroyed an entire village Doli Gurnug, 100, who lives in the upper Pisang village of the Manang district, saw this type of rainfall for the first time in his life. He said: “I don’t know if the water has fallen like this year for 300 years. My grandfather did not say that the flood came due to such rain” The flood of June 1 had washed away the settlement of Siran taall village. The river Marshyagadi is now flowing in the place where the settlement used to be. There is no indication of the previous settlement.

According to The District Administration office of Manang, the flood has cost about $40m [£30m] damage in total on one night of floods. However, data from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology shows that Manang has received the heaviest rainfall so far. The rainfall recorded at the Humde Rainfall Measurement Center in Manang was 82.2mm on July 1 – the heaviest rainfall ever recorded. This is shocking when you consider the average rainfall is usually 42mm in June based on the rainfall conditions from 2015 to 2020. https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/cop26-how-a-flood-in-nepal-destroyed-an-entire-village-3448221  (08 Nov. 2021)

Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha dam neither green nor cheap  Construction on the 4,800 MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam began in June 2020, with an estimated completion cost of US $14 billion (likely to go upto $28 B going by past dam costs). It is scheduled to be finished by 2027. A closer examination of the costs, both ecological and financial, belie the expectations that the dam will provide cheap, green power.

– The surface area of Diamer-Bhasha’s reservoir will be 200 square kilometres. Its construction requires about 12 million tons of steel and 22 million cubic metres of concrete. Concrete is hugely carbon-intensive to make: globally, the production of cement contributes eight per cent of CO2 emissions. Then there is the carbon cost of steel, generating 1.85 tons of CO2e for every ton of steel produced.

– A 2016 paper, based on data from 1,473 dams worldwide, estimated that on average a single megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy produced from hydropower generates 273 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) through methane and CO2 emissions from the reservoir.

–  We estimate that in its first 30 years of operations the dam will have a carbon footprint almost as high as the most polluting types of coal plant, at 321 CO2e per MWh. The carbon footprint of Diamer-Bhasha dam could be higher still, if loss of ecosystem services is also factored in.

– Mangroves are among the most carbon-rich trees in the world, and their deforestation accounts for up to 10pc of all emissions due to deforestation, even though they account for 0.7pc of total trees.

– On top of this, there is the social cost of carbon (SCC). This is an estimate of the financial damage caused by emitting CO2. The 170 million tons CO2e generated by the Diamer-Bhasha project in 30 years of operation could cost society another $1-13 billion.

– Adding together the direct costs, costs of financing and SSC brings the overall cost to society of Diamer-Bhasha to more than $70 billion. Just to break even in 30 years, the tariff would have to be kept at Rs22.00 (without consideration of externalities), over five times the current tariff of Rs 4.11 ($0.024) per unit set by WAPDA.

– If true accounting is done and the costs of externalities are added to the project, Diamer-Bhasha could never even break even, let alone become an engine of the national economy. Unless Pakistan realises the real cost of hydropower, it may stay blind to better opportunities in the renewables sector. https://www.dawn.com/news/1657198  (10 Nov. 2021)

ASIA

MEKONG Report Dams, droughts, data & diplomacy By Rajesh Daniel As the Mekong Region faces more intense floods and droughts every year, data sharing and water diplomacy are emerging as new narratives for transboundary water governance. https://bkktribune.com/dams-and-droughts-data-and-diplomacy-in-the-mekong/  (07 Nov. 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Flood attenuation techniques potentially more effective than dams According to the National Agroforestry Center, flood attenuation is an area of the floodplain that is sometimes allowed to flood from a river or a stream — one example of which is ponds.

Antolini proposed that implementing ponds in strategic and different areas of the stream or river will slow the pace of the rain runoff making it downstream.

“The problem is that the water arrives all too quickly to the stream and creates the flood,” Antolini said.

Gabriele Villarini, Iowa Institute for Hydraulic Research director and UI civil-engineering professor, conducted research that found climate change, specifically greenhouse gases, is causing more floods.

“The data supported the notion that the frequency of floods have been increasing over the past several decades,” Villarini said.

Antolini said as a result of the increasing amounts of flooding, dams are failing to control the water as they were designed to.

“We know that large reservoirs like the Coralville dam work —  it failed in 2008, but generally they work,” Antolini said. “However, the climate is changing and they most likely won’t work in the future.”

Eric Tate, UI geographical and sustainability sciences associate professor, said dams are already failing across the country.

“There are all sorts of problems with big dams and we’re seeing a movement, especially around the U.S., to bring dams down because of the ecological damage that they cause, and they have limited lifespans,” Tate said.

Tate said smaller reservoirs scattered across the flood plain would store a little bit of water, as opposed to a massive amount of water in a single place. This could decrease the amount of large flooding seen more frequently in the last several decades, he said.

“I think these small distribution methods are going to be more important than ever,” Tate said.

Antolini said ponds and dams work in the same way as traffic jams.

“Like traffic, you have a jam when people leave all at the same time,” Antolini said. “If you had people leave at five, six, and seven, there is still traffic, but you won’t be jammed.”

Antolini said the benefit of installing small ponds doesn’t end with flood mitigation — it also provides positive ecological and economic outcomes.

Ponds allow native vegetation and species to grow in a healthy and safe environment. The vegetation around ponds also helps clean the water that runs through it, he said.

Dams require a lot of maintenance, he said, whereas ponds only have an upfront cost in installing them but require very little maintenance once established.

Antolini said floods aren’t inherently bad because they benefit the stream’s health in a lot of ways.  Flooding becomes bad when the water affects people and infiltrates the built environment, he said. “We can’t control nature,” he said, “but we can adapt to it.” https://dailyiowan.com/2021/11/07/flood-attenuation-techniques-potentially-more-effective-than-dams/  (07 Nov. 2021)

Parana rings climate alarm The Parana’s crisis is among the multitude of woes arising worldwide associated with global climate change linked to the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. World leaders are set to meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, starting on Oct. 31 in Glasgow, Scotland amid warnings from a U.N. panel about climate-related disruptions for decades, if not centuries, to come.

The river, born in southern Brazil, snakes about 4,880 kilometers (3,030 miles) through Paraguay and Argentina before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. It is a vital waterway for commercial shipping and fishing, provides drinking water to millions of people, powers hydroelectric plants and supports rich biodiversity.

Billions of dollars worth of agricultural commodities such as soy, corn and wheat are transported to ports down the Parana to be shipped around the world. It carries about 80% of Argentina’s farm exports, though some shippers are now looking to move goods over land due to the reduced water levels. https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/mighty-river-muddy-trickle-south-americas-parana-rings-climate-alarm-2021-10-27/  (27 Oct. 2021)

On Colorado Basin and Climate Change. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjU40VX7NXQ  (10 Nov. 2021)

UK Seahorses and sharks living in Thames: Analysis The declines were found to coincide with combinations of stressful environmental changes including fluctuating ocean climate, increases in coastal seals and other competing salmon, warmer water temperatures, and increased watershed logging.

Lower juvenile salmon survival in rivers, impacted by watershed logging, occurred together with reduced survival of adult salmon due to increased risks from predatory seals and competition with other salmon, both wild and from hatcheries. The declines were largest for steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout (80 per cent and 70 per cent among adults between 1976 and 2015), which spend more of their life in rivers. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/10/seahorses-and-sharks-living-in-river-thames-analysis-shows-aoe  (10 Nov. 2021)

Survey ~420 million hectares forest lost since 1990 A little more than half of global forests (52.3 per cent) has been converted to cropland; another 37.5 per cent was lost to livestock grazing between 2000 and 2018. Around 5.6 per cent of forest was converted for urban and infrastructure development and 4.6 per cent to other causes.

Most of the deforestation was in the tropical biomes during 2000-2018, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2020 Remote Sensing Survey. A total of 420 million hectares of forest has been lost since 1990, the survey said. The survey confirmed the slowdown in global deforestation, according to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020. The survey flagged that almost 90 per cent of deforestation worldwide was due to agricultural expansion.  Slowdown was reported in South America and south and southeast Asia; tropical rainforests in these regions recorded the highest deforestation rates of all biomes. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/at-least-420-million-hectares-forest-lost-since-1990-survey-80107  (09 Nov. 2021)

Kenya Water crisis leaves villagers at risk of violence and disease As rivers run dry, the desperate search for water has led to a rise in domestic abuse, conflict and illness. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2021/nov/05/kenyas-water-crisis-leaves-villagers-at-risk-of-violence-and-disease-in-pictures  (05 Nov. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 08 Nov 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 01 Nov 2021  

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

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