DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 6 Dec 2021: NGT demands accountability for Ganga Cleaning

The NGT demanding that there is need for greater transparency in the Ganga Cleaning efforts by NMCG and others, leading to accountability for the expected results is no doubt welcome if it were to become a reality. It has been required for long, since the Ganga Cleaning Efforts started in 1980s when Ganga Action Plan started, and it is even more required with the promises coming from the Prime Minister, no less today. Unfortunately, there is no real improvement in the state of the river, as the NGT has said. One only hopes that this latest initiative will lead to some real change, even through the track record of judiciary (including NGT) in this regard is far from inspiring.  

GANGA Time to fix accountability for Ganga cleaning: NGT  Observing that the challenge of cleaning Ganga remains despite monitoring it for the past 36 years, the NGT said that it is time to fix accountability for proper and timely utilisation of funds allocated for cleaning the river.

The tribunal said there is a need for due investigation about the funds allocated and their utilisation, in terms of achieving the result of reducing pollution load. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that although initiatives at the level of Central government have been taken up, by the way of Ganga Action Plans I & II and thereafter, setting up of NMCG, the river continues to be polluted.

The green court said timelines are breached without accountability, leading to adverse consequences. “Failure of monitoring and fixing accountability only results in wastage of public funds, continued pollution, and resultant deaths and diseases.

There appears to be a need to consider, at the highest level in the hierarchy of the administration concerned, structural changes in the functioning of the NMCG in terms of fixing accountability for maintaining the timelines and exploring management strategies so as to achieve the targets within foreseeable time,” the bench said. The NGT said that performance parameters and timelines need to be clearly defined and performance audits conducted.

“To the extent failure, causes for the same and persons responsible need to be identified and made appropriately accountable. A mechanism needs to be worked out to be operative on a continuous basis in this regard of identifying those responsible for failure in performance. Without disciplinary and quality control, there may be little chance of success of the laudable mission,” the bench said.

The tribunal said that an in-house review mechanism is required to be strong, which, at present, does not appear to be. If it is found that agencies employed by NMCG for executing its pollution abatement and control plan cannot adequately deliver, structural changes need to be considered by assigning the work to an appropriate agency, be it governmental, private, or hybrid, who can be held accountable in terms of performance and achieving the targets, it said.

“In short, performance needs to be evaluated and accountability fixed. Quarterly reports giving the details of the funds allotted and progress achieved in terms of reduction in pollution load and other parameters may be placed on the website of NMCG so as to enable enhanced community participation and support. Compensation, as directed in the last order, may now be positively collected by the CPCB and the NMCG within two months,” it said.

“In case of non-compliance, coercive measures be taken, including initiating prosecution against the defaulters under Section 26 of the NGT Act, 2010. NMCG and CPCB may file their report of further progress as on March 31, 2022, by April 15, 2022, which may also be simultaneously uploaded on their respective websites,” the bench said in a recent order. The matter is listed for further consideration on April 28, 2022.

The NGT had earlier directed chief secretaries of northern states to periodically monitor the Ganga rejuvenation, saying it is a “pity” that even after constant monitoring by different courts, pollutants continue to be discharged in the river. The green panel had directed the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal to monitor the rejuvenation work periodically.

The NGT had earlier rapped the NMCG over its failure to control pollutants entering the river and other water bodies, saying its report does not show any meaningful action. The NGT had earlier formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to rejuvenate 350 river stretches across the the country by making them pollution-free. The tribunal had said that there has been a deterioration in the quality of water in rivers despite the Water Act, which was enacted in 1974, intended to bring about improvement.  https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/time-to-fix-accountability-for-ganga-cleaning-says-national-green-tribunal-1055802.html   (29 Nov. 2021)

Why UP needs to pay Rs 176 crore for polluting the Ganga. https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/why-uttar-pradesh-needs-to-pay-rs-176-crore-for-polluting-the-ganga  (01 Dec. 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Uttarakhand PM Modi inaugurated incomplete Vyasi HEP A Week before PM Modi’s official December 4 visit to Dehradun; UJVNL started impounding flowing Yamuna river behind Vyasi dam in Vikas Nagar. While work still pending and no actual electricity generation possible for at least next couple of months, still PM inaugurated this incomplete HEP.

-Vyasi HEP is in seismically vulnerable area. Site is riddled with several active landslides. Power station, dam area faced flash flood impacts after cloud bursts on Aug 26-27 this year. Affected locals were forcibly removed, jailed on Oct 5-6 this year for demanding promised R&R.

-All through for past 6 years, this the first &  the biggest 120 MW hydropower dam on Yamuna’s mainstem in Himalayan segment has dumped enormous muck in river and carried massive scale illegal riverbed mining but got scot free with NO effective compliance monitoring mechanism.

– In fact this dam would deprive about 6 km river stretch which is endangered mahseer habitat also of essential e-flows in summer and winter months. With this dam, now  the1376 km long Yamuna would be free flowing just for initial about 110 km before, first Dakpathar barrage, Dehradun then HKB barrage in Haryana turning the river from perennial to seasonal in upper segment upstream of Delhi. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1467159634037260289?s=20

Jammu & Kashmir Dangers of disappearing glaciers Scientists have discovered that glaciers in Kashmir’s north-western Himalayan region are disappearing at a faster rate than in other regions of the Himalayan arc. Using satellite data, fieldwork photographs and ground-based observations, a study published in September showed that Kashmir’s Machoi glacier has lost 29% of its size between 1972 and 2019.

The study’s researchers at Kashmir University noted that the retreating glaciers may have a significant effect on river flow patterns, hydropower generation and agricultural production in the region. “Based on the comparison with earlier works carried out on neighbouring glaciers in the western Himalayan region, Machoi is the fourth highest retreating glacier losing area at 0.66% per year,” wrote the researchers. https://www.newframe.com/the-dangers-of-the-disappearing-glaciers/  (25 Nov. 2021)

Kerala Record power generated at Moolamattom plant This November, the Moolamattom power plant generated a record amount of power, according to KSEB officials. James Wilson, member, expert advisory group, KSEBL, said that 501.592mu power was generated at the plant in November and the average daily generation was 16.67mu. “The maximum power generation capacity of six generators at the power plant is 18.72mu,” said Wilson. Normally, to manage the power demand during summer season, the maximum power generation at Moolamattom is 450mu. A KSEB dam safety official said that the maximum power generation at the plant was to reduce the water level in Idukki reservoir. “For the first time in November, the water level reached 2,400ft. Power generation at the plant was at maximum level on almost all days in November,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/record-power-generated-at-moolamattom-plant/articleshow/88111067.cms  (06 Dec. 2021)

DAMS

Dam Safety Bill passed  The government decided way back in 1987 to draft India’s first dam safety law. The Dam Safety bill has been in the making for the last 34 years. It has gone through several back and forths since then. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha for the first time in August 2010 but was withdrawn following several changes recommended by the standing committee where it was referred. A modified bill was introduced subsequently introduced but it lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. The bill was introduced afresh in the lower house again in 2019.

– Though water is under the state list, the Centre has brought the legislation under Article 246 of the Constitution read with Entry 56 and Entry 97 Of List I in the Union list. During the debate on the bill Thursday (Dec. 2), several opposition MPs vociferously opposed the proposed legislation, which they said encroaches on the states’ rights. The Congress’ Shaktisinh Gohil said the bill is unconstitutional and ultra vires as water comes under the state list. “By bringing this law, the Centre is encroaching on states’ jurisdiction,” he said. Several other leaders including those from the RJD, MDMK, TDP, TMC also opposed the bill, on the grounds that it will put water and dam management under the Centre’s control.  Many opposition MPs also demanded that the bill be sent to the select committee for further scrutiny. https://theprint.in/india/rajya-sabha-passes-dam-safety-bill-which-took-34-years-to-draft-heres-why-it-is-important/774761/  (02 Dec. 2021)

The Dam Safety Bill 2021 was moved in the Rajya Sabha on Dec 1, 2021 but the debate could not be held because of disruptions from the Opposition parties. BJP’s ally AIADMK has decided to oppose the Bill whenever it comes up for debate. There was a view among the Opposition parties that this Bill must be sent to a select committee, because of its wider implication. The Government, however, is in no mood to concede to the demand. On Tuesday, the Government had deferred a debate on the Bill because of the Opposition walkout. The House was adjourned twice on Wednesday (Dec. 1) because of the protests and the Bill could not be taken up for debate.

– AIADMK floor leader for Rajya Sabha A. Navaneethakrishnan said that the Bill will affect Tamil Nadu’s ownership over its dams located in other States. The point of contention are four dams — Mullaperiyar, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu and Peruvaripallam — located in Kerala but owned, operated and maintained by the Tamil Nadu Government. The Bill provides for a National Committee on Dam Safety whose functions include evolving policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards. “The national dam safety authority will have the final word: this is a violation of the federal principles,” Mr. Navaneethakrishnan said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/aiadmk-mps-stall-debate-on-dam-safety-bill-in-rajya-sabha/article37798326.ece  (02 Dec. 2021)

Parliament debate about man made floods in South Bengal due to water releases from Damodar Dams.  http://www.uniindia.com/~/there-are-no-man-made-floods–water-resources-minister-in-response-to-west-bengal-cm/Parliament/news/2580797.html  (02 Dec. 2021)

Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin on Dec 3, 2021 condemned the Union government for being adamant in passing the Dam Safety Bill, which was against the federal principles and powers of the state governments. In a party release, the DMK chief said, “The Centre’s act of usurping the rights of the state governments without regard to democratic-parliamentary ethos or Constitution was authoritarianism. It is dangerous to democracy”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/dam-safety-bill-is-an-act-of-authoritarianism-stalin-says/articleshow/88071397.cms  (03 Dec. 2021)

Tamil Nadu lawyer moves SC seeking central security protection for dam. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-mullaperiyar-dam-case-plea-deployment-of-csf-186999  (05 Dec. 2021)

Kerala Congress (Joseph) Chairman P J Joseph asked CM Pinarayi Vijayan to make an honest assessment of the strength of the aging Mullaperiyar dam. https://www.onmanorama.com/news/kerala/2021/12/06/five-shutters-of-mullaperiyar-dam-raised.html  (06 Dec. 2021)

Karnataka CM seeks national project status for Upper Bhadra Project  Basavaraj Bommai called on Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on December 2, 2021 and urged to declare the Upper Bhadra Project a national project. “The high-powered steering committee under CWC for implementation of national projects would take up the proposal at its next meeting on December 6,” the Chief Minister said. The Upper Bhadra Project will ensure irrigation of around 2.25 lakh hectares in Chikkamagaluru, Chitradurga, Davangere and Tumakuru districts with around 19 tmcft of water. The project also envisages filling up more than 350 tanks using 10.8 tmcft of water, along with augmenting the capacity of Vani Vilas reservoir. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-cm-in-delhi-bommai-seeks-national-project-status-for-upper-bhadra-project/article37805364.ece  (03 Dec. 2021)

Mekedatu Dam Karnataka CM, in his zeal to be showing his support for the controversial Mekedatu project, has demanded from his party colleague, Union Jal Shakti Minister, not to clear TN’s project till Mekedatu is cleared! This is clearly legally untenable. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/cm-dont-greenlight-tns-river-project-till-mekedatu-is-cleared/articleshow/88060698.cms  (03 Dec. 2021)

Polavaram Project AP govt fined Rs. 120 cr for flouting green norms NGT’s principal bench in Delhi on Thursday (Dec. 02) imposed Rs 120 crore fine on Andhra Pradesh government for violating environment norms. In a detailed order, NGT’s judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal said that the attitude of the AP government was similar to that of a feudalistic notion that ‘A king can do no wrong’ when they proceeded to launch/commission/execute welfare schemes namely a few lift irrigation schemes and a river linking project.

The bench also found that in addition to Polavaram project, three other projects – Chintalapudi, Purushottapatnam and Pattiseema – were built without obtaining environmental permits. In this regard, a fine of Rs 24.56 crore was imposed on Purushottapatnam project, Rs 24.90 crore on Pattiseema project and Rs 73.6 crore on Chintalapudi lift irrigation project.

– The NGT ordered that the environmental compensation shall be paid by project proponents (PPs) concerned within three months to Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB). The compensation amount would be utilised for remediation/ restoration of environment under guidance and supervision of an Oversight Committee comprising ministry of environment, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and APPCB.

– The NGT also stated that the Chintalapudi lift irrigation scheme may continue its activities but within three months, the PPs shall obtain all statutory clearance/consent/NOC failing which further construction activities shall be stopped till such compliance. On the other hand, NGT ordered that the Krishna-Godavari River Linking Project shall not be executed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/polavaram-ap-govt-fined-for-flouting-green-norms/articleshow/88061575.cms  (03 Dec. 2021)

The fine imposed on LIS are 1.5% of project cost and for Polavaram project it is 0.75% of the project cost. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/ngt-slaps-fine-of-243-crore-on-ap-govt/article37813546.ece  (02 Dec. 2021)

Polavaram R&R: Part 2/6: Toilets overflow in R&R colonies, residents resort to open defecation; some say they used their compensation money to get constructions fixed. “It feels like I have come from heaven to hell,” 45-year-old Surya Kanta sums up the living conditions in the rehabilitation colonies. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/polavaram-displaced-and-nowhere-to-go-rehabilitation-colonies-are-unliveable-80487  (02 Dec. 2021)

The reporter travelled to West Godavari district and East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh to evaluate the extent of displacement prompted by Polavaram project. This is first in the series.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/polavaram-displaced-and-nowhere-to-go-several-await-houses-compensation-80448  (30 Nov. 2021)

Sardar Sarovar Project Salt workers in Patadi area in Little Rann of Kutch have complained that since last 13 years, every November, their salt works gets submerged and damaged due to overflow of the Narmada Canal, but neither it is stopped nor are they given any compensation for this man made disaster. https://www.gujaratsamachar.com/news/surendranagar/the-problem-of-overflow-of-narmada-canal-in-patdi-desert-has-not-been-solved-for-13-years 

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Gujarat Rajasthan dispute over use of Mahi River Waters in media on Dec 3, 2021. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/rajasthan/banswara/news/gujarat-government-spokesperson-jitu-vaghanis-attack-rajasthan-will-have-to-give-water-of-mahi-we-have-paid-559-crores-129172619.html 

Sabarmati Water Dispute Pali MP PP Choudhary had raised a question in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 30, 2021) over delay in diversion of water from Sabarmati Basin to Jawai Dam leading to a severe water crisis in three districts. The project is meant to provide additional water to Jawai Dam through a series of small dams and tunnels. Choudhary sought the speaker’s attention on the issue which also involves Gujarat. The Sabarmati River Basin is spread in four districts in the state — Dungarpur, Pali, Sirohi and Udaipur — while the remaining part is in Gujarat. “The enormous water from the basin goes to the Arabian Sea in the absence of the implementation of the proposed diversion of additional water. This could provide drinking water in 700 villages and nine cities spread in Pali, Jalore and Sirohi,” said Choudhary. The dam which has a capacity of over 7000 million cubic feet and it has been filled to its full capacity only 5-6 times since its inception 30 years ago.

An MLA from Pali district requesting anonymity saud that the matter was in the hands of the central government to push Gujarat for releasing water. “We have been repeatedly using our contacts in Delhi for the same and the issue raised by the MP was also a result of the constant effort by us,” said an MLA.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/pali-mp-raises-issue-of-diversion-of-water-from-sabarmati-basin/articleshow/88038253.cms  (02 Dec. 2021)

Krishna Water Dispute Telangana and Andhra Pradesh submitted in the Supreme Court on Monday (Nov 29, 2021) that there is no information forthcoming from Karnataka for the past 14 years about how much Krishna river water it has diverted. Karnataka argued that a lot water is going waste —“flowing down into the ocean” — and there is a need to harness it for irrigation and to replenish dry regions.

– The Centre successfully sought two weeks time. A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud posted the case for December 13, but not before exclaiming that seven years have elapsed since the KWDT had pronounced its modified final report and order, but it remains to be published in Gazette and thereafter implemented. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/information-not-forthcoming-from-karnataka-on-krishna-water-telangana-andhra-pradesh/article37749800.ece  (29 Nov. 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Sabarmati; Ahemdabad  Gujarat high court warns all 7 CETPs To bring down pollution levels in the Sabarmati, the Gujarat high court on Friday (Dec 3, 2021) focused on industrial effluent discharge and ordered for efficient functioning of Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs), warning that if the situation does not improve in three months, it would order the closure of all seven CETPs, which are being operated by private companies and monitored by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB).

– When Rohit Prajapati, an environment activist who is part of the HC-constituted joint task force, expressed concerns about the functioning of CETPs except the one at Narol, the judges said, “If nothing happens in next three months, we will order the closure of all seven CETPs whatever may be the ultimate outcome it. That will be our order. We are going to watch what steps are taken against the companies running theses CETPs. Our main goal is to see that these CETPs and 14 STPs start functioning well.”

– The HC pulled up GPCB for its lethargic action and lack of monitoring of the CETPs, which “appear dead facilities”. It hauled up a GPCB official for creation of an “irreversible situation”, who is to be questioned about the monitoring of CETPs and to know the plan to improve the situation.

-HC also said on Dec 3, 2021: “your Phase II (of Sabarmati River Front Project) is going to add to this problem”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/sabarmati-river-pollution-gujarat-high-court-warns-all-7-cetps-of-closure/articleshow/88084328.cms  (04 Dec. 2021)

Kshipra; Ujjain आचमन छोड़ स्नान के लायक भी नहीं है जल  वर्षाकाल समाप्त हुए महीना गुजर गया है, बावजूद मोक्षदायिनी शिप्रा नदी में देश के सबसे स्वच्छ शहर इंदौर और उज्जैन के नालों का पानी सीधे मिलना बदस्तूर जारी है। डेढ़ दशक में शिप्रा नदी का जल स्वच्छ होने की बजाय और अधिक प्रदूषित हुआ है। जबकि शिप्रा की शुद्धि के लिए सरकार 700 करोड़ रुपये खर्च कर चुकी है। प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड तकनीकी रूप से शिप्रा का पानी डी-ग्रेड का करार दे चुका है। परिणाम स्वरूप जलीय जीव और जनस्वास्थ्य पर इसका गहरा प्रभाव पड़ रहा है।

प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड की एक रिपोर्ट के अनुसार शिप्रा के प्रदूषित होने का मुख्य कारण शहरीकरण, उसकी अनियंत्रित दर और बिना उपचारित सीवरेज का पानी नदी में मिलना है। खासतौर से सबसे स्वच्छ शहर इंदौर के गंदे नालों का सीवरेज, कान्ह नदी के रूप में उज्जैन आकर शिप्रा नदी में मिलना है। शिप्रा में सीधे गंदा पानी न मिले, इसके लिए सरकार ने पांच साल पहले इंदौर में सीवरेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट की क्षमता बढ़ाई थीं। उज्जैन में श्रद्धालुओं को पर्व स्नान दूषित जल में ना करना पड़े, इसके लिए 95 करोड़ रुपये खर्च कर राघौपिपल्ल्‌या गांव से कालियादेह पैलेस तक भूमिगत पाइपलाइन बिछवाई थी। मगर ये प्रोजेक्ट पूरी तरह सफल नहीं हो सका।

पिछले महीने 26 अक्टूबर को हुई जिला विकास समन्वय एवं निगरानी समिति की बैठक में विधायक पारस जैन ने उज्जैन को पानी के मामले में आत्मनिर्भर बनाने के लिए उन्होंने सेवरखेड़ी में शिप्रा नदी पर बांध बनाने पर पर भी जोर दिया था।

18 साल पहले प्रदेश में जब भाजपा की सरकार बनी थी, तब शिप्रा को शुद्ध और सदानीरा बनाने का संकल्प लिया गया था। सबसे बड़ा कदम नर्मदा को शिप्रा से लिंक करने का उठाया था। इस पर 432 करोड़ रुपये खर्च हुए थे। पहली बार साल 2016 में सिंहस्थ का स्नान लोगों ने नर्मदा-शिप्रा के संगम जल में किया था। बाद में हालात यह बने कि नर्मदा का जल शिप्रा में दो ही वजह से छोड़ा गया। एक, जब शिप्रा अत्यधकि प्रदूषित हो गई हो और दूसरा जब शिप्रा में पानी सूख गया हो। सिंहस्थ के दरमियान ही शिप्रा की शुद्धि के लिए सरकार ने एक ओर कदम उठाया था। वो था इंदौर के नालों के पानी से बनी कान्ह नदी के गंदे पानी को नहान क्षेत्र, त्रिवेणी से केडी पैलेस तक न मिलाकर राघौपिपल्या से डायवर्ट कर केडी पैलेस के आगे मिलाना। ये प्रोजेक्ट पूरी तरह सफल न होने से हमेशा विवादों में रहा।

इसके बाद नवंबर-2017 में सरकार ने 402 करोड़ रुपये का भूमिगत सीवरेज पाइपलाइन प्रोजेक्ट शुरू कराया, जो अनुबंध अनुसार साल 2019 में पूरा हो जाना था, पर मौजूदा कार्य की गति देखकर लगता है कि ये प्रोजेक्ट साल 2023 तक भी पूरा नहीं हो पाएगा। क्योंकि नगर निगम से अनुबंधित टाटा प्रोजेक्ट्स कंपनी चार साल में सिर्फ 200 किलोमीटर सीवरेज पाइपलाइन ही बिछा पाई है। 239 किलोमीटर पाइपलाइन बिछाना अब भी बाकी है। पाइपलाइन बिछाने के साथ कंपनी को 80 हजार घरों में कनेक्शन भी जोड़ना है। https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/ujjain-shipra-river-pollution-ujjain-mokshadayini-shipra-water-is-not-for-useable-for-bathing-7122775  (08 Nov. 2021)

शिप्रा नदी के शुद्धिकरण को लेकर एक बार फिर साधु-संतों ने आवाज बुलंद कर दी है. निर्मोही अखाड़े के महामंडलेश्वर ज्ञान दास महाराज ने आज उज्जैन जिला प्रशासन को अल्टीमेटम देते हुए अन्न त्याग दिया. महामंडलेश्वर ज्ञान दास महाराज ने बताया कि उत्तरवाहिनी शिप्रा नदी शुद्धिकरण को लेकर केवल कागजों पर ही करोड़ों रुपए खर्च किए जा रहे हैं. शिप्रा नदी के किनारे 12 साल में सिंहस्थ का मेला लगता है. साधु संत हमेशा प्रदूषित जल को लेकर चिंता जताते आए हैं. बरसात में भी शिप्रा नदी के आसपास के नाले उफन कर नदी में मिल जाते हैं. उज्जैन नगर निगम हर बार नालों को रोकने का प्रयास करता है, लेकिन सफलता नहीं मिल पाती है. https://www.abplive.com/states/madhya-pradesh/ujjain-news-mahamandaleshwar-gyandas-maharaj-on-hunger-strike-demands-to-shipra-river-purification-ann-1999325  (16 Nov. 2021)

मोक्षदायिनी क्षिप्रा नदी को प्रवाहमान और स्वच्छ बनाए रखने के लिए पिछले ४० सालों से चल रही कवायद अभी तक पूरी नहीं हो पाई है। सिंहस्थ २०१६ में करीब १०० करोड़ रुपए खर्च कर बनाई गई कान्ह डायवर्सन योजना से उम्मीद थी कि क्षिप्रा का जल अब साफ होगा श्रृद्धालु आचमन भी कर सकेेंगे। बीते सालों में १०० करोड़़ की कान्ह डायवर्सन योजना क्षिप्रा का स्वच्छ रखने में कामयाब नहीं हो सकी। दरअसल कान्ह डायवर्सन योजना सिर्फ ५ क्यूमेक्स पानी को डायवर्ट करने के लिए बनी थी वर्तमान में कान्ह नदी में इससे दोगुना पानी आ रहा है लिहाजा पानी आगे जाकर क्षिप्रा को मैली कर रहा है।

कान्ह डायवर्सन योजना के सफल नहीं होने पर जलसंसाधन विभाग ने ४६५ करोड़ से २४ किमी लंबी नहर बनाने का प्रस्ताव भी तैयार किया था। इसमें कान्ह डायवर्सन पाइप लाइन के साथ ही नहर खोदी जानी थी। यह नहर कालियादेह महल पर आकर मिलना है। इस प्रस्ताव को शासन को भेजे भी दो साल से अधिक होने आए हैं लेकिन अब तक कोई स्वीकृति नहीं मिली है। वास्तव में कान्ह डायवर्सन योजना में पाइप लाइन की जगह नहर खोदी होती तो क्षिप्रा नदी स्वच्छ बनी रहती।

कान्ह का गंदा पानी मिलने से ४५० करोड़ की नर्मदा -क्षिप्रा लिंक योजना पर भी पानी फिर रहा है। नर्मदा का स्वच्छ पानी क्षिप्रा नदी में छोड़ा जाता है तो घाटों पर पानी साफ रहता है। इस बीच कान्ह नदी का पानी क्षिप्रा में मिलता है तो नर्मदा का स्वच्छ पानी भी गंदा होकर प्रदूषित हो जाता है। यहीं नहीं नर्मदा जल से शहर को पेयजल की आपूर्ति भी की जाती है। कान्ह के गंदे पानी के कारण इसमें भी परेशानी होती है और कई बार गंदा पानी भी वितरित हो जाता है। https://www.patrika.com/ujjain-news/kshipra-is-waiting-to-be-rescued-from-the-dirty-water-of-kanh-river-7181410/  (19 Nov. 2021)

शनिश्चरी अमावस्या (4 दिसम्बर) पर श्रद्धालुओं को नर्मदा- क्षिप्रा के शुद्ध संगम जल में स्नान कराने के लिए तीन स्तर पर तैयारी शुरू हो गई है। त्रिवेणी, गऊघाट और रामघाट स्टापडैम के गेट खोल शिप्रा के आंचल में भरा गंदा पानी आगे बहा दिया गया है। दूसरा, पाइपलाइन के जरिये नर्मदा का शुद्ध जल शिप्रा में लाया जा रहा है और तीसरा, कान्ह का प्रदूषित पानी स्नान क्षेत्र में ना मिले, इसके लिए पिछले वर्ष की तरह त्रिवेणी घाट के पास मिट्टी का कच्चा बांध बनाना शुरू कर दिया है।

सिंहस्थ- 2016 बाद से हर साल जल संसाधन विभाग, त्रिवेणी घाट के पास गोठड़ा में कच्चा मिट्टी का बांध बना रहा है। हर बार बांध बनाने में 20 से 25 लाख रुपये खर्च हो रहे हैं। यानी अब तक 1 करोड़ रुपये से अधिक खर्च किए जा चुके हैं। इस वर्ष भी 20 लाख रुपये से ज्यादा खर्च होने का अनुमान है। जानकारों का कहना है कि यहां स्थायी बांध बना देना चाहिए। इसके लिए जनप्रतिनिधियों और अफसरों को मिलकर प्रयास करना चाहिए। इस संबंध में 5 से 7 मीटर ऊंचा और 80 मीटर लंबा बांध बनाने के लिए 4 करोड़ 72 लाख रुपये का प्रस्ताव शासन को पिछले वर्ष भेजा भी जा चुका था।

लोक स्वास्थ्य यांत्रिकी विभाग का कहना है कि शनिश्चरी अमावस्या से पहले नर्मदा का 2 मिलियन क्यूबिक मीटर नर्मदा का पानी पाइपलाइन के जरिये शिप्रा में आ जाएगा। दो दिन पहले से पानी की आवक जारी है। पानी हरियाखेड़ी में बने पाइपलाइन के आउटलेट से शिप्रा में मिल रहा है। इस पानी की कीमत 22 रुपये 60 पैसे घन मीटर है। बीते सात वर्षों में 300 करोड़ रुपये का नर्मदा जल उज्जैन के लिए छोड़ा जा चुका है। https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/ujjain-shipra-riever-ujjain-news-mp-7155672  (28 Nov. 2021)

शिप्रा, जिसे क्षिप्रा के नाम से भी जाना जाता है यह मध्य भारत के मध्य प्रदेश राज्य की एक नदी है। नदी धार जिले के उत्तर में निकलती है और मंदसौर जिले में मध्यप्रदेश के राजस्थान सीमा पर चंबल नदी में शामिल होने के लिए मालवा पठार के उत्तर में बहती है। यह नदी 195 किमी लंबी है. शिप्रा की प्रमुख सहायक नदियां खान और गंभीर हैं।

अपने उद्गम स्थान से सूखने वाली शिप्रा नदी को करीब 432 करोड़ रुपये की लागत वाली परियोजना के जरिये नर्मदा के सहयोग से जीवित किया गया है। प्रदेश सरकार के नर्मदा घाटी विकास प्राधिकरण ने दोनों नदियों यानी कि शिप्रा और नर्मदा को नर्मदा-क्षिप्रा सिंहस्थ लिंक परियोजना के जरिए जोड़ा गया है। नर्मदा शिप्रा सिहस्थ लिंक परियोजना, मुंडला दोसदार – शिप्रा नदी को नर्मदा नदी से जोड़ने वाली एक परियोजना है जो 2012 में शुरू हुई थी और 2015 में पूरी हुई थी। इस परियोजना में बिजली का उपयोग करके नर्मदा नदी से पानी उठाकर इसे पाइप के माध्यम से शिप्रा नदी के स्रोत तक पहुंचाया जाता है। लिंक परियोजना 8000 करोड़ रुपये की नर्मदा-मालवा लिंक परियोजना का पहला चरण है। https://www.herzindagi.com/hindi/diary/origin-history-and-interesting-facts-about-river-shipra-article-188227  (24 Nov. 2021)

An earthen stop-dam at Triveni on the Kshipra collapsed on Thursday (March 18, 2021) morning causing the contained dirty water to mix in river. Dead fish covered the waterbody due to contamination. The administration had commissioned the stop-dam to prevent mixing of contaminated water of the Kanh with that of the Kshipra.

The dam had been repaired before Makar Sankranti in January but the earthen dam was swept away due to rise in water-level in the Kanh. Around 100 MCFT of dirty water got mixed with the clean water in the river and polluted it. PHE sub engineer Rajeev Shukla said that water of the Narmada was saved from contamination as the same was stored at Gau Ghat located stop dam. The water of Narmada was pumped in for the snan-parv of Shanishchari Amavasya some days ago. https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/ujjain-earthen-stop-dam-collapses-kanh-water-contaminates-the-kshipra  (18 March 2021)

मिट्टी के इस डेम को लाखों रुपए खर्च कर शिप्रा नदी और खान नदी के संगम पर इसलिए तैयार किया गया था कि गंदा पानी वहीं पर रो किया जाए। हालांकि बड़ी मात्रा में गंदे पानी के एकत्रित होने के बाद पहले से ही हादसे का अंदेशा लगाया जा रहा था। लेकिन अधिकारियों ने इस ओर ध्यान नहीं दिया और लाखों गैलन गंदा पानी शिप्रा नदी प्रवाहमान हो गया।  स्टाप डेम फूटने के बाद लाखों गैलन गंदा पानी शिप्रा नदी में मिला और बहाव तेज हो गया। देखते ही देखते यह 5 किमी दूर हरियाखेड़ी गांव तक पंहुच गया और शिप्रा नदी का साफ पानी दूषित हो गया। शिप्रा में 13 मार्च को ही अमावस्या पर साफ पानी छोड़ा गया था। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/ujjain/news/stop-dam-built-on-trivani-millions-of-gallons-of-muddy-water-of-khan-river-found-in-shipra-river-shipra-contaminated-by-5-km-128334254.html  (March 2021)

उज्जैन में शिप्रा नदी के त्रिवेणी घाट क्षेत्र में हो रहे धमाकों का पता चल गया है। जांच करने आए भारतीय भूवैज्ञानिक सर्वेक्षण (GSI) के दल ने अपनी प्रारंभिक रिपोर्ट प्रशासन को सौंप दी है। इसमें संभावना जताई गई है कि नदी की चट्टानों से मीथेन-इथेन जैसी ज्वलनशील गैसों के उत्सर्जन के कारण धमाके हो रहे हैं। विशेषज्ञों ने यह भी उल्लेख किया है कि नदी के तट पर भगवान को चढ़ाए जाने वाले फूल-हार के इकट्ठा होने और इनसे बनने वाली प्राकृतिक गैस के ऑक्सीजन के संपर्क में आने से भी धमाके हो सकते हैं। हालांकि यह रिपोर्ट अंतिम नहीं है। जीएसआइ पानी और मिट्टी के नमूनों की जांच भी कर रही है। इसके बाद स्थिति और स्पष्ट होगी। https://www.jagran.com/news/national-know-why-there-were-explosions-in-the-waters-of-shipra-river-21455819.html  (12 March 2021)

RIVERS

IRW 2021 Pledge to protect fish, rivers During the event, activist Raj Kumar Sinha and Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) were awarded the Bhagirath Prayaas Samman (BPS) while the Anupam Mishra Memorial Medal, conferred upon a media professional with a creditable track record of writings on rivers, was given to author-journalist Abhay Mishra and journalist Athar Parvaiz.

Winner of Anupam Mishra Memorial Medal, Abhay Mishra has reported in-depth and with verve on the state of the river Ganga for more than a decade, travelling several times from source to sea to observe and understand events and processes along its banks. Journalist Parvaiz has reported with great insight and courage on various issues related to rivers in Jammu and Kashmir. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/11/28/india-rivers-week-concludes-with-pledge-to-protect-fish-rivers/  (28 Nov. 2021)

Report India’s plastic waste challenges  As befits a country of 1.4bn people with a fast-growing middle class, India’s plastic waste crisis is of enormous scale. The government’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) estimates that 3.5m million tonnes of plastic waste is generated each year in the country, a figure that some experts believe to be an underestimate. The crisis is also growing steadily: per-head plastic waste generation has doubled in the past five years, according to the CPCB. It should, then, be no surprise that India is one of the world’s main sources of marine plastic pollution. By one estimate, India’s rivers emit more plastic waste into the sea (126,500 tonnes per year) than all other countries in the world bar the Philippines. https://backtoblueinitiative.com/india-country-report/ 

UNDP aims to almost triple its plastic waste management to 100 cities in India by 2024, A UNDP executive said, to combat the damaging effects of plastic pollution. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/world/un-plans-to-drastically-expand-plastic-waste-management-in-india-7787781.html  (03 Dec. 2021)

WESTERN GHATS Karnataka CM opposes declaring Western Ghats as ESZ CM Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday (Dec. 4) opposed declaring Western Ghats as an ecologically sensitive zone as it would adversely affect the livelihood of the people in the region. Participating in a virtual meeting on implementation of the Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats, chaired by Union Minister for MoEF Bhupinder Yadav, Bommai strongly presented the state’s stand. “Declaring Western Ghats as an ecologically sensitive zone would adversely affect the livelihood of the people in the region. So the Karnataka government and the people living in the region are opposed to implementation of the Kasturirangan report,” Bommai said. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/karnataka-cm-bommai-opposes-declaring-western-ghats-ecologically-sensitive-zone-158394  (05 Dec. 2021)

“The Cabinet has decided – after consulting residents of the Western Ghats region, officials and other stakeholders – to oppose the implementation of the Kasturirangan Committee report,” Bommai told the meeting, according to a statement from his office. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/karnataka-again-rejects-kasturirangan-report-on-western-ghats-1057633.html  (04 Dec. 2021)

Kerala PWD seeks MoEF nod for Wayanad mega tunnel Meanwhile, ecologists have raised the fundamental question that how can such a mega project be undertaken without conducting a detailed study on the impact of the biodiversity of the region. “It is shocking that a project like this has been envisaged close to Puthumala hills where a massive landslide occurred in 2019. The unimaginable destruction of wildlife habitat due to massive quarrying while boring through the Western Ghats is going to impact the fragile eco-system. Repeated ecological disasters have given enough warnings to Kerala, and it is high time that the government had thought of sustainable projects aimed to protect the environment,” noted ecologist and architect of the WGEEP report, Madhav Gadgil said.

Experts point out that the tunnel project is coming between the scenic Chembra and Vellarimala (silver hills) hill ranges, known as the famous Camel hump mountains, which is one of the most eco-fragile regions in the Western Ghats. “The proposed tunnel is passing through a high-value forest area that needs to be conserved at all costs. The tunnel is just 2km away from Puthumala, which had witnessed a series of landslides in 2019. The western side of this hill also witnessed landslides in the heavy rain in 2019 and 2020. Hence, it is imperative to study the stability of the hills in this area. The government should conduct a geological study before going ahead with the tunnel project,” says C K Vishnudas, director of Hume Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology.

Experts called for conducting geotechnical study in the event of landslides in the proposed tunnel area. “The revised landslide hazard zonation map being prepared by the GSI must be examined before the implementation of the project,” Dr S Sreekumar, former member of state environmental appraisal committee said. N Badusha, president of the Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Smithi, pointed out that to ease the traffic problem of Wayanad there are alternative options like strengthening the existing five ghat roads there. “The tunnel project is inviting a huge ecological disaster and the people of Wayanad, who are already facing severe agrarian distress, are being taken for a ride again,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/kerala-pwd-seeks-moef-nod-for-wayanad-mega-tunnel/articleshow/87730959.cms  (16 Nov. 2021)

Devastation in Western Ghats in the name of unplanned development Activities like rampant stone quarrying, construction of infrastructure in fragile areas and deforestation for commercial plantation have led to massive changes in the Ghats, causing landslides, floods, droughts and other events in which hundreds have died. https://www.forbesindia.com/article/take-one-big-story-of-the-day/devastation-in-the-western-ghats-in-the-name-of-unplanned-development/71845/1  (29 Nov. 2021)

CAUVERY Tamil Nadu 631 tanks, lakes in delta districts are full to the brim An engineer from the Water Resources Department said, “We have a total of 764 lakes and tanks across the Cauvery delta districts under the maintenance of the department. As many as 631 of these are full. This accounts for 83 per cent of waterbodies in delta districts. Besides, 109 tanks and waterbodies in these districts have water to 90-100 per cent of their capacity, 17 are 80-90 per cent full and seven are 70-80 per cent full.”

As regards Thanjavur district, which has the maximum waterbodies, almost 86 per cent of them are full to the brim. Of the 559 lakes and tanks in the district, as many as 479 are 100 per cent full while 60 waterbodies are 90 to 100 per cent full. Apart from the tanks and lakes maintained by the department, waterbodies under the control of the Rural Development Department also have sufficient storage. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/dec/04/631-tanks-lakes-in-cauvery-delta-districts-are-full-to-the-brim-2391705.html  (04 Dec. 2021)

New Highway From Kerala To Kodagu Endangers River Cauvery A new highway from Kerala to Talacauvery in Kodagu district, the birthplace of River Cauvery, has been proposed by the neighbouring State that will threaten the very existence of the river, the lifeline of people of Kodagu, Mysuru, Mandya and Bengaluru in Karnataka and most of Tamil Nadu. The proposed road links Madayi Kavu in Kerala and Talacauvery via Pulingome. A question in this regard was raised by Kasaragod MP K.P. Rajmohan Unnithan in Lok Sabha on Dec. 2. The question was directed at Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.

However, replying to the MP, Minister Nitin Gadkari has replied, “The Ministry is primarily responsible for development and maintenance of National Highways in the country. The Madayi Kavu-Pulingome-Talacauvery road is not part of the National Highways network. Presently, there is no proposal for the development of the above road stretch under any scheme in the Ministry.”

If at all the Madayi Kavu-Pulingome-Talacauvery highway is sanctioned, it will endanger the birthplace of River Cauvery and it will completely destroy the green belt, said environment groups. But they have cautioned the elected representatives and people of Karnataka to be wary of the neighbouring State’s designs. Kerala has been demanding the road for years and there was a proposal to lay a gas pipeline through the forests. As the entire green belt comes under the Greater Talacauvery National Park, these projects are not permitted, said green groups. https://starofmysore.com/new-highway-from-kerala-to-kodagu-endangers-river-cauvery/  (05 Dec. 2021)

Odisha NGT asks JSPL to spend Rs 2 cr on plantation, pollution control NGT has directed Jindal Steel & Power Limited (JSPL) to spend an estimated Rs 1.5 crore on plantation along the banks of the 3.8-km-long alternate channel that it has created by diverting Kurdabahali nullah for free flow of water into the Parang minor irrigation project in Angul district. The Tribunal also directed JSPL to bear the cost of Rs 50 lakh towards continuous monitoring of water quality in Kurdabahali nullah (inlet and outlet) as well as quality in the Parang minor irrigation project by the SPCB. The NGT’s East Zone Bench in Kolkata issued the directions on Friday (Nov. 26) while delivering judgment on a petition filed by one Alekha Chandra Tripathy. He had complained about blocking of the Kurdabahali nullah, a portion of Nadira river and destruction of the surrounding environment and forest. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/nov/28/national-green-tribunal-asks-jspl-to-spend-rs-two-crore-on-plantation-pollution-control-in-odisha-2389070.html  (28 Nov. 2021)

The NGT added that to allow free flow of water to the Parang Minor Irrigation Project, the JSPL had diverted the Nalla by providing an alternate channel measuring an area of 21.29 acres on their acquired area. Due to the Nalla, a big chunk of land within the compact project area of JSPL was getting water logged and plant activity was being hampered, and local people were also getting affected which was creating law and order issue for the administration. https://odishatv.in/news/miscellaneous/ngt-slaps-rs-2-crore-fine-on-jspl-for-damages-to-nandira-river-in-angul-164952  (28 Nov. 2021)

NGT directed the Water Resources Department not to execute the work of sand filling, earth embankment and construction of an RCC retaining wall on the river bed of Baitarani. The NGT’s principal bench also ordered that no work order shall be issued in this regard till environmental clearance is obtained from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Odisha. On its part, SEIAA told the bench that no environmental clearance has been granted with regard to the construction of an RCC retaining wall in the embankment of River Baitarani including sand filling work in the river basin. https://odishabytes.com/ngt-bars-odisha-govt-from-exploitation-of-baitarani-river/  (19 Sept. 2021)

Rampant mining activities and proliferating industries have not only acutely polluted but also choked river Baitarani, the lifeline of Keonjhar district, putting the lives and livelihood of the people at stake. Baitarani, which one of six major rivers of Odisha, is a major source of irrigation for agriculture which is the main occupation of the people. Besides cultivation, the river is utilised for fisheries.

The crystal clear water of the river meandering through hills and deep forest started getting polluted when mines and industries started operation a few years back. In fact, the upper part of the basin is rich in minerals like chromites, iron ore, manganese, pyrophillite and quartzite. As a result, hundreds of mines have come up in the area leading to pollution. Due to use of huge quantity of surface and ground water and generation of solid waste by the mines covering about 300 sq km area including 180 sq km of forest land, the water level has not only come down, the pollutants have made it unsuitable for human consumption. https://www.odishabytes.com/focus-keonjhar-mines-industries-choking-lifeline-baitarani-river-to-death/  (15 Sept. 2021)

NGT has again ordered for a detailed probe into alleged water pollution caused by Brahmani River Pellets Limited (BRPL) at Kalinganagar Industrial Complex in Jajpur district, an official source informed Thursday (July 8). Judicial members of NGT B Amit Sthalekar and Saibal Dasgupta have ordered SPCB to conduct reinvestigation at a time when the BRPL plant is open. A report is to be submitted within seven days. It is pertinent to mention here that, a probe was recently conducted by SPCB when BRPL Plant remained close, which had raised many eyebrows. https://www.orissapost.com/ngt-asks-odisha-pollution-control-board-to-probe-brpl-water-pollution-charges-again/  (08 July 2021)  

NGT has set a 28-day deadline for the CPCB to submit report on the reclaimed Mahanadi river bed or flood plain area upstream of Jobra barrage in Cuttack. A committee comprising representatives of CWC, nominees of MoEF, CPCB, NIH, Roorkee and the SPCB was assigned by the Tribunal to examine the situation and submit a report.

In his application, Pattnaik sought intervention against sand filling that had raised the river bed by nearly 6 feet and pushed back the water stream to at least 500 metre from the bank. He contended that filling of the river bed with sand dredged from the reservoir of Mahanadi barrage at Jobra is causing damage to the environment and river’s ecosystem while affecting the free flow of water.

Besides, it will reduce the water retaining capacity of the river at the barrage. It will affect supply of drinking water and increase the possibility of floods in the city, Pattnaik contended. He has also filed an interim application for a stay order on the ongoing filling of sand in the river bed from Jobra to nearly 3 km upstream. The interim application will be taken up on July 5, the next date fixed for hearing on the matter along with the committee’s report. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/jun/11/ngt-sets-deadline-for-report-on-reclaimed-mahanadi-river-bed-2314674.html  (11 June 2021)

A committee constituted by the NGT held a detailed inquiry at the Mahanadi river upstream of Jobra barrage here for the past two days to ensure the enforcement of applicable rules to prevent irreversible damage to the river’s floodplain. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/cuttack/ngt-panels-probe-to-prevent-damage-to-mahanadi-floodplain/articleshow/82002704.cms  (10 April 2021)

Taking a dim view of government’s attempts to reclaim the river bed of Mahanadi near Cuttack to expand the SCB Medical College and Hospital, the NGT formed a panel of experts from the CWC, NIH, Roorkee, CPCB and SPCB for laying down norms to ensure that the construction of the medical college and river front development takes place without damage to the flood plains of the river. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/to-save-mahanadi-river-ngt-orders-setting-up-expert-panel-to-lay-down-norms/story-sL4SUwQklBXBfCiTz17NoO.html  (20 Dec. 2021)

Odisha government had embarked on ‘Mission Green Mahanadi’ programme and decided to plant two crore saplings along the Mahanadi river banks. “Over 75,760 hectare of government land and 47,470 hectare of private land will get a fresh green cover. The saplings of mango, jackfruit and jamun will be used for the mission,” Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray said. The first phase of plantation will be undertaken on 200 sq km in 2018-19. A member of the team that suggested a Narmada-like plantation programme to the CM said that the objective was to check erosion in the catchment areas, stabilise the embankments and improve bio-diversity along the river. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/odisha-to-plant-2-crore-saplings-along-banks-of-mahanadi/1185144  (09 Nov. 2017)

Himachal Pradesh Waste management plant for contaminating water  In Majra village under largest industrial area of Nalagarh, animals and people are falling sick. The locals allege it is due to contamination of groundwater by a waste treatment plant. Chemicals leaking from a solid waste management plant in Majra are allegedly the reason behind the contamination. Officials at the plant, however, deny any such leakage. Experts also highlight that rivers in Himachal are highly polluted due to waste dumping. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/12/in-a-himachal-village-people-accuse-a-waste-management-plant-for-contaminating-water/  (01 Nov. 2021)

Garbage is being openly dumped in the forests near Nalagarh industrial belt in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. Photo by Kapil Kajal.

Dharamsala losing tourist hotspots to unscientific approach The Bhagsu waterfall, which was the main tourist attraction in Dharamsala city, has dried up. Water is available only during the monsoons. After the monsoon months, the fall dries up as the IPH Department and Army authorities pick up water from the source of the waterfall.  As per the information collected by The Tribune, about 12 lakh litres of water was being lifted daily for various water supply schemes of the Army and the IPH Department from the stream feeding the Bhagsu waterfall. This leaves almost nothing in the stream to create a waterfall. The quantity of water being lifted has increased over the past decade, adversely affecting its flow.

Sarvan Thakur, executive engineer, IPH Department, Dharamsala, said the Army authorities pick water from the stream feeding the Bhagsu waterfall through two six-inch pipes. “We have also laid four pipes through which water is sourced from the same stream. Recently, to cope up with the shortage of water, we added two more two-inch pipes to pick water,” he added. Sanjeev Gandhi, general secretary of the Smart City Dharamsala Hotel and Restaurant Association, said the hoteliers had requested the district administration to lift water from the area below the waterfall and not from its source. The drying up of the waterfall has spoiled the natural landscape of the area, he rued.

Similarly, the Dal Lake, another major tourist spot, has dried up due to unscientific removal of silt from its base. Now the lake dries up just after monsoons and then looks like a mud pool. Satish Sharma, a local environmentalist, said the drying up of the waterfall and the Dal Lake is an illustration of the poor management of precious natural resources. It is a sad state of affairs that tourist spots are losing their sheen due to unscientific approach in their handling, he added.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/dsala-losing-tourist-hotspots-to-unscientific-approach-346770  (06 Dec. 2021)

Punjab Medha Patkar launches ‘Sutlej Bachao’ campaign Accompanied by members of the Punjab Action Committee (PAC) — that comprises activists and volunteers working to save River Sutlej — Patkar launched the campaign in Ludhiana on Sunday (Nov. 21), after taking a tour of Mattewara forest and the villages near Sutlej river bank where Punjab government has proposed to setup an industrial park.

Many NGOs under the banner of ‘PAC for Sutlej and Mattewara’ have been campaigning for months now for saving river Sutlej. Their primary demands include cancellation of a proposal to create an industrial park near Mattewara forest and to bring transparency in the Buddha Nullah rejuvenation project.

Patkar highlighted the issue of pollution of the Sutlej via Buddha Nullah (a polluted stream of Ludhiana city) and other waste water drains of industry and municipalities that emptied out in it. She said that it was a serious violation of environmental laws of the country and citizens need to raise their voice and ask the governments to fix these serious problems.

Kapil Dev petitioner in NGT petition filed against the proposed industrial park — said that the government bulldozed its way through the plan by notifying modifications to Ludhiana Master Plan to allow the industrial park on the river flood plain in designated no manufacturing zone. This despite an NGT order in this case to first demarcate flood plain of the Sutlej, which the government has not paid heed to till date. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ludhiana/medha-patkar-sutlej-bachao-punjab-pollution-green-rights-7634394/lite/  (21 Nov. 2021)

Uttarakhand Muck being thrown in rivers, villagers face ‘existential’ crisis The Uttarakhand government must act fast to clear the path of Dhauli Ganga river about two kilometres ahead of village Neeti and about one kilometre from Ghamsali village, which is about 90 kilometer from Joshi Math town in district Chamoli. The creation of an artificial lake due to throwing of muck and mud can create a catastrophic situation like what happened on February 7, 2021– the Rishi Ganga-Dhauli Ganga tragedy at Tapovan and Raini village in which over 200 people lost their life. https://www.counterview.net/2021/12/muck-being-thrown-in-uttarakhand-rivers.html  (05 Dec. 2021)

Atul Sati revealed this first in if FB post on Dec. 1. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4632726346805211&id=100002036746060  You Tube video report on this by Trilochan Bhat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqemqSz8GVE  (02 Dec. 2021)

चार धाम मार्ग परियोजना: कितने वाजिब हैं केंद्र सरकार के नए तर्क? https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/development/sustainable-development/char-dham-marg-project-how-valid-are-the-new-arguments-of-the-central-government-80523  (03 Dec. 2021)

Big roads, big dams & big money- moving towards disasters? by Ayush Joshi  https://www.pioneeredge.in/big-roads-big-dams-big-money-moving-towards-disasters/  (29 Nov. 2021)

World’s longest road tunnel? The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has invited bids for carrying out the feasibility study and preparing a detailed project report (DPR) for the approximately 30 km tunnel, which would start from Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun and end at Koti Colony near Tehri Dam in the poll-bound state. The project will include a 7-10 km approach road at both ends.

Sources said that the tunnel is likely to be a single tube with two lanes for up and down traffic. “But everything depends on the feasibility of the project. Only a detailed study will find out how the tunnel would have to be constructed. The successful DPR consultant will also carry out the traffic study to project the likely traffic through the tunnel. The plan is to build one tunnel, but we can’t say as of now whether there will be more than one tunnel to cover the stretch,” said an official who did not wish to be named. Officials said they can’t give any rough estimate of the project and the DPR consultant will indicate the cost based on its study. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/will-uttarakhand-get-the-worlds-longest-road-tunnel/articleshow/88058232.cms  (03 Dec. 2021)

A forest officer’s efforts to rejuvenate dying springs and streams of the heval river with the participation of Chamba villagers tastes success, finds out Vineet Upadhyay.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2021/nov/28/bringing-a-river-back-to-life-heval-and-the-story-of-bhagirathi-ji-2388982.html  (29 Nov. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Ganga Canal project in Varanasi scrapped After spending about ₹12 crore on nearly 5.3km long which about 45 m wide and around 7 m deep navigational canal through Ganga riverbed in Kashi for which freshwater turtle sanctuary was shifted, this unviable, unthoughtful project has reportedly been scrapped after it was completely destroyed by monsoon floods in August 2021.

So far no one has been held accountable for for impacting Ganga morphology, damaging turtle sanctuary and wasting tax payers’ money.  Now as the canal stands destroyed and scrapped, NMCG must immediately restore Turtle Sanctuary there. Also despite few new STPs and November 2021 deadline 120 MLD untreated sewage still polluting Ganga in Varanasi (Kashi). Further the river front development is impacting natural course of river there as NMCG has fundamental flaws in planning, execution. Its time, NMCG, govt consult river experts before wasting more public money with no results. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1467080330955747330?s=20  

Satellite images of March, June, August and December 2021 by Raj Bhagat.  https://twitter.com/rajbhagatt/status/1467382538125467648?s=20

Construction waste in huge amount as result of riverfront ‘destruction’ works near Lalita & Jalasen ghats in Varanasi is dumped and left in Ganga which locals find leading to river shifting away from ancient ghats and disturbing its natural course.

Noted river engineer and former professor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Prof. UK Choudhary has written to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath fearing an impending threat to the Ganga in Varanasi due to the construction of a spur (wall) and canal in the river. He has also posed a series of questions regarding the design of the project seeking answers from the authorities concerned. Prof Choudhary was also appointed as the expert member in Gomati riverfront committee and has 35 years’ experience in teaching river engineering to MTech students of Civil Engineering in IIT-BHU. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/river-scientist-questions-building-spur-canal-in-ganga-in-varanasi/articleshow/83443916.cms  (12 June 2021)

June 21 video report sharing basic info on this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2d_Z94oFo0

The ‘Kachhua’ or Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS), the world’s only protected area dedicated to freshwater turtles, is now set to be wiped off the conservation map of India. The state government has submitted a proposal to the Government of India asking for the Kachhua sanctuary in Varanasi to be ‘denotified’ following a meeting of the State Board of Wildlife of Uttar Pradesh on August 30, 2018. https://thewire.in/environment/in-modis-constituency-a-wildlife-sanctuary-is-quietly-being-erased  (24 Sept. 2021)

Govt orders felling of over 8k trees despite NGT notice, later backtracks Two days after the NGT issued a notice and impleaded the DFO of Saharanpur in a matter pertaining to cutting of over 11,000 trees for the Delhi-Dehradun expressway, the UP government released a government order (GO) giving go-ahead for felling of over 8,000 trees for the project. The NGT notice was issued on November 25 while the UP forest department order came on November 27.

When queried, UP forest officials claimed that the GO was ‘just a procedural step’. “The GO is a procedural step after a project gets stage I, stage II and wildlife clearances. We have stayed the felling of trees at present as the matter is sub-judice,” said Shweta Sen, DFO, Shivalik forest division of UP, under whose jurisdiction lies the stretch where the trees are marked for felling. Around 8,800 trees are slated to be axed on the almost 17-km-long stretch of NH-72A between Ganeshpur (Uttar Pradesh) to Daat Kali temple (Uttarakhand).

Interestingly, the order, issued by the UP governmentmentions that “trees across 47.7 hectares of the Shivalik forest division have to be felled in accordance with the permission granted by the Centre and Supreme Court orders.” However, environmentalists point out that the Supreme Court has not given any such tree felling orders. “Which SC order is the UP government citing? The apex court has not passed any such order but has instead referred the matter to NGT,” said Doon-based environmental activist Reenu Paul, who had also filed a case in the Uttarakhand high court regarding the large-scale tree felling being planned for the expressway. She alleged that “even before the UP government issued the order, tree felling had started on the stretch and we have evidence to prove it” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/up-orders-felling-of-over-8k-trees-despite-ngt-notice-later-backtracks/articleshow/87990298.cms  (30 Nov. 2021)

NGT on Thursday (Dec. 3) gave petitioners a week to submit a list of mitigation measures that can be deployed in the matter related to the proposed felling of over 11,000 trees for the Delhi-Dehradun expressway. The court said it will pronounce its judgment thereafter.The 206-km-long expressway will reduce travel time between Delhi and Dehradun to less than three hours from five. A 12-km stretch on the expressway that connects Meerut’s Ganeshpur and Dehradun will have an elevated wildlife corridor. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/tree-felling-for-del-doon-e-way-ngt-asks-for-mitigation-measures/articleshow/88057640.cms  (03 Dec. 2021)

Bridge over Ramganga river on busy highway breaks into three The busy Kolaghat bridge over the Ramganga river in Shahjahanpur district collapsed early on Monday (Nov. 29), breaking into three parts. The incident occurred at about 3am and a major accident was averted as there was very little traffic on the route at that time except for a minivan crossing over the bridge with five men on board that had a narrow escape. District magistrate Indra Vikram Singh said, “Action will be taken against those found guilty following a thorough probe. We’ll repair the bridge within a month.” The 1,800m-long bridge that connects Shahjahanpur with Budaun and Bulandshahr was built in 2011 and its foundation was laid in 1992. Traffic has been diverted via NH 24 and Mirzapur, and locals will now need to travel an additional 60 km until the bridge is repaired and becomes functional. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bareilly/bridge-over-river-on-busy-up-highway-breaks-into-three/articleshow/87990576.cms  (30 Nov. 2021)

कोलाघाट के पुल की लंबाई 18 सौ मीटर है। इस पुल पर 60 पिलर बने हुए हैं। सोमवार (Nov. 29) तड़के पिलर नंबर सात के ढहने से करीब दो सौ मीटर का हिस्सा जमीन पर गिर गया। वेल (कुआं) समेत पिलर जमीन के नीचे धंस गया। पुल का बेस तकरीबन 22 मीटर पानी के नीचे था। जबकि पिलर की लंबाई लगभग सात मीटर थी।

ऐसे में सवाल खड़ा हो रहा है कि डेढ़ दशक बीतने से पहले ही कोलाघाट का पुल कैसे ढह गया। ऐसा हीं था कि इंजीनियरिंग विभाग को इसका बिलकुल अंदाजा नहीं था। पुल में बार-बार आ रही तकनीकी खराबी के मद्देनजर इंजीनियरों की इस पर निगाह थी। छह अक्तूबर को बीस दिन के लिए यातायात बंद कर पुल की मरम्मत की गई थी। इस दौरान बेयरिंग को बदला गया और गॉर्डर को जैक से उठाया गया था। इंजीनियरों को आशंका थी कि पिलर बहुत धीरे-धीरे धंस रहा है।

सूत्रों के मुताबिक सेतु निगम और पीडब्ल्यूडी के इंजीनियरों की एक टीम सोमवार (Nov. 29) को कोलाघाट के पुल का निरीक्षण करने जाने वाली थी लेकिन इससे पहले ही यह हादसा हो गया। टीम के इंजीनियर पिलर पर निशान लगाकर अगले दिन उसका परीक्षण करते जिससे पता चलता कि वह रोजाना कितने सेंटीमीटर धंस रहा है। ऐसे में यह अनुमान लगाना कठिन न होता कि हार्ड स्ट्रेटा (कठोर परत) में परिवर्तन हो रहा है जिसकी वजह से पुल धीरे-धीरे धंसता जा रहा है।

एक्सपर्ट इंजीनियरों के मुताबिक पिलर में गड़बड़ी के संकेत तो मिल रहे थे लेकिन यह अनुमान ही नहीं लगाया जा सका कि इतनी जल्दी ढह सकता है। अभी इंजीनियरिंग विभाग हादसे की वजह पता कर रिपोर्ट तैयार कर रहा है। इंजीनियरिंग एक्सपर्ट का कहना है कि पुल बनाते समय पिलर नदी की ऐसी जगह पर बनाया जाता है जहां पानी के नीचे कठोर परत (हार्ड स्ट्रेटा) मिलती है। कठोर परत के ऊपर बेस पर वेल (कुआं) बनाकर पिलर (पियर) खड़ा किया जाता है। कोलाघाट पुल के गिरने की एक वजह यह भी हो सकती है कि वक्त के साथ धीरे-धीरे परत की कठोरता खत्म हुई हो। परत मुलायम होने से पिलर का भार बर्दाश्त न होने से पुल ढह गया।

इंजीनियर के मुताबिक कोलाघाट के पुल के दो पिलर फिर से बनाने पड़ेंगे। पुल को पूर्ववत स्थिति में लाने के लिए कम से कम एक साल का समय लग सकता है। वह भी तब जब पुल निर्माण की प्रक्रिया काफी तेजी से चलाई जाए। इसमें दो करोड़ की लागत लगने का अनुमान है। हालांकि अभी प्रशासन छोटे वाहनों को निकालने के लिए पैंटून पुल पर विचार कर रहा है।

90 के दशक में कोलाघाट पुल को लेकर जन आंदोलन शुरू हुआ।1993 में तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री मुलायम सिंह यादव ने पुल का शिलान्यास किया था। 2002 में पुल को मंजूरी मिली। 2005-06 में 11 करोड़ की लागत से पुल का निर्माण शुरू किया गया। 2008 में पुल का निर्माण पूरा हुआ। सेतु निगम ने पुल पीडब्ल्यूडी को हस्तांतरित किया। 2009 को पुल का लोकार्पण तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री मायावती ने किया। आवागमन शुरू हुआ।

कुछ स्थानीय लोगों ने बताया कि जब पुल का निर्माण चल रहा था तब कई अन्य पुल के कुएं आसानी से बन गए। पिलर नंबर सात के लिए कुएं का निर्माण शुरू हुआ तो सेतु निगम को काफी दिक्कत हो रही थी। कोई न कोई समस्या खड़ी होने से सेतु निगम के इंजीनियर परेशान हो रहे थे। बताते हैं कि कुछ लोगों की सलाह पर यहां हवन-पूजन करवाया गया जो चार दिनों तक चला। इसके बाद कुआं बनकर तैयार हुआ और उस पर पिलर का निर्माण किया गया। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/shahjahanpur/ignored-for-a-long-time-the-pillar-was-giving-signs-of-disturbance-shahjahanpur-news-bly467713678  (30 Nov. 2021)

Jharkhand नदी- शहर गठबंधन का नारा और नदी तट विकास के नाम पर नदी को सिकोड़कर नहर बनाने वाली परियोजनाओं  के कर्णधारों के साथ-साथ हम नागरिक भी सोचें कि नदी किनारे के हमारे शहरों का क्या होगा.

साहिबगंज में गंगा के कटाव से स्थानीय लोग दशहत में हैं. अबतक राजमहल, उधवा जैसे ग्रामीण इलाकों में गंगा कटाव की खबरें सामने आती थी, लेकिन अब गंगा साहिबगंज के शहरी इलाकों में भी प्रवेश करने लगी है. पुराने साहिबगंज स्थित मलाही टोला, धोबी टोला, कुम्हार टोला और चानन में इन दिनों बहुत तेजी से गंगा कटाव हो रहा है. शहर से सटे इन इलाकों में लोग सालों से रह रहे हैं. लेकिन इन्होंने कभी भी गंगा का ऐसा रौद्र रूप नहीं देखा. कुल मिलाकर गंगा में कटाव ने यहां के लोगों की नींद उड़ा दी है.

साहिबगंज के मलाही टोला समेत तमाम इलाकों में तेजी से कटाव हो रहा है. इसकी वजह से सीवरेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट पर भी खतरा मंडरा रहा है. केंद्र सरकार की महत्वाकांक्षी योजना ‘नमामि गंगे’ के तहत इस सीवरेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट का निर्माण करवाया गया है. गंगा में कटाव की वजह से प्लांट के भीतर दरारें पड़ गई हैं और सीवरेज प्लांट की पाइप टूट कर गंगा नदी में समा गई है.  https://zeenews.india.com/hindi/india/bihar-jharkhand/jharkhand/after-rural-areas-in-sahibganj-erosion-started-in-urban-areas-too-people-in-panic/1038158  (30 Nov. 2021)

Bihar Centre approves bridge parallel to JP Setu The Union minister of road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari, on Saturday (Dec. 4) announced the Centre’s approval to a bridge parallel to JP Setu over river Ganga at Patna. The 5-km-long bridge will have four lanes. “The ministry has given its in-principle approval to a four lane bridge between Digha and Sitalpur, which is a part of Patna- Sahebganj stretch (sic),” Gadkari tweeted.

State road construction minister Nitin Nabin told TOI that the bridge will be a part of NH-139W, which has been formally announced by the Union transport minister. “Construction of a four-lane bridge parallel to Mahatma Gandhi Setu is in progress and it will be ready by 2024. The bridge, being constructed by the ministry of road transport and highways, is 5.634-km-long while the total length of the project (including approach road) is 14.5km,” he said.

“Similarly, work on the six-lane Kachchi Dargah-Bidupur bridge is in the advance stages. It is being constructed by the state government and is likely to be ready by 2023. A six-lane road is also proposed between Sherpur and Dighwara, which will be a part of the Patna ring road,” Nabin added.

New bridges apart, the 39-year-old Mahatma Gandhi Setu is also being rehabilitated by using fabricated steel structures. In fact, the rehabilitation work on the western flank of the Setu has already been completed and work is underway on its eastern flank, which is slated to be completed by March, 2022. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/centre-approves-bridge-parallel-to-jp-setu/articleshow/88095835.cms  (05 Dec. 2021)

A day after laying the foundation stones for construction of a 1.28 KM-long two-lane road over Mandiri drainage, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Sunday (Dec. 5) said that the proposed road over the Mandiri drainage would now be linked with the JP Ganga Path through an elevated road after the Ashok Rajpath. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/double-lane-road-over-mandiri-drainage-will-now-be-linked-with-jp-ganga-path-says-bihar-cm/articleshow/88109805.cms  (05 Dec. 2021)

West Bengal Centre, state fast-track widening of strategic NH 31 “The detailed project report to widen the two-lane stretch of NH31 to six lanes from the Balason river bridge to Sevoke is ready. At the meeting, we said the land required for the project has been acquired. Recently, the MoRTH announced that it would spend around Rs 1,200 crore for the project. It is their call now and we believe the work will start soon along this stretch,” a source in the Bengal PWD said.

At Friday’s (Dec.3) meeting, the officials also discussed the widening and improvement of NH10, which too originates from NH 31. NH10 is the principal highway that connects the Himalayan state of Sikkim, which sits on the India-China border, with the rest of the country. A Bengal PWD official said the landslide-prone zones along the highway, which passes through Kalimpong district and enters Sikkim, have been identified. “The Union ministry is focusing on a third project — building a bridge at Sevoke over the Teesta river to connect the Dooars with NH31,” he said.

The state PWD has for now installed a bailey bridge over a damaged portion of the Balason river bridge to the northwest of Siliguri. Vehicle movement had been stopped on October 20 on the bridge, which is part of NH31, after one of its pillars tilted from the impact of a swollen river. “The state PWD has spent from its pocket to build the bailey bridge. There is a plan to build two three-lane bridges on the Balason river as the highway (NH31) will be a six-lane road from here,” the official said. https://www.telegraphindia.com/west-bengal/centre-state-fast-track-widening-of-strategic-national-highway-31/cid/1841896  (05 Dec. 2021)

Govt fined Rs 2 cr to ensure quality water in 3 rivers  NGT has imposed a fine of Rs 2 crore on the government as interim compensation to be used for restoration of water quality of three rivers – Mahananda, Jorapani and Phuleswari. The six-member bench headed by its chairman Adarsh Goel along with judicial and expert members also directed the Chief Secretary to be present via video conference on the next date of hearing in January 2022. The petitioners had in 2016 taken the grievance about pollution in the three rivers to the green tribunal. During the hearing on September 20, the tribunal pointed out that it had passed nearly a dozen orders on this subject, but there has been no progress. The principal bench of the tribunal stated that the compensation amount, which will be paid to the office of the Darjeeling district magistrate, will be used for restoration of water quality of the rivers.

Observing that there are encroachments at 88 locations on the banks of these three rivers, which are preventing the authorities from adopting appropriate anti-pollution measures, the Tribunal directed that the encroachers and unauthorized structures must be removed by the Siliguri Municipal Corporation before March 31, 2022. The bench noted that the central government had sanctioned Rs 54.28 crore for implementing the Mahananda Action Plan in 2005 for the treatment of sewage and other steps to prevent pollution of rivers. However, the “Siliguri Municipal Corporation failed to discharge its constitutional obligations to prevent and remedy pollution to enforce the rights of citizens to clean the environment.”

The detailed project report revealed that 3 STPs are necessary to combat water pollution, but land issues have jeopardized plans for the same, the tribunal said. Earlier, the same bench had directed the Chief Secretary of the state to personally look into the pollution levels of the three rivers in Siliguri and take remedial measures. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/09/22/w-bengal-fined-rs-2-cr-to-ensure-quality-water-in-three-rivers/  (22 Sept. 2021)

YAMUNA Delhi Wazirabad barrage on Yamuna river built in 1959 is to be upgraded,  Govt has decided. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/wazirabad-barrage-to-be-upgraded-to-be-flood-ready/articleshow/88080531.cms  (04 Dec. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Polluted Yamuna main reason behind Taj Mahal decay While this study to identify the principal corrosion agent was conducted on exposed metals in Taj premises over four years, the authors recommended similar experimentation on marbles for a 10-year-period for a definitive understanding. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/11/polluted-yamuna-not-industrial-emission-main-reason-behind-taj-mahal-decay-study/  (25 Nov. 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

SANDRP Blog WFD 2021: Of looming & existing threats on fish & fisherfolks This third and final part of the 2021 series focuses on remarkable ongoing resistance by fisher-folks showing constant struggle and firm determination. The report also covers relevant studies underlining adverse impacts of dams, hydro projects and climate change on freshwater fish and dependent fisherfolks. It has briefs on how impacts of pollution and encroachment of water bodies, mining, coastal zone development, invasive fish, aquaculture is gradually going up along with concerns and efforts to address them. Some of the pro and anti-fish, fisherfolks decisions by central and state govts are also compiled here.   https://sandrp.in/2021/11/30/wfd-2021-of-looming-existing-threats-on-fish-fisherfolks/  (30 Nov. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Industrialisation gone wrong in coastal Cuddalore Coastal Cuddalore’s future hangs in the balance. Haldia’s takeover of NOCL suggests that there are no plans to reign in private capital nor slow down industrialisation. It is equally unlikely that the government becomes more judicious in ensuring proper EIAs are undertaken and that CRZ is implemented, given its past record writes Ajit Menon, Arunkumar A.S. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/12/commentary-industrialisation-gone-wrong-in-coastal-cuddalore/  (01 Dec. 2021)

Karnataka Hundreds of fish die in Jakkur, Rachenahalli lakes  Several lakes in Bangalore, including the latest ones Jakkur and Rachenahalli lakes in North Bangalore have reported death of hundreds of fish. It is said that this is due to the heavy inflow of sewage and solid waste brought to the lakes by the recent floods. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/hundreds-of-fish-die-in-jakkur-rachenahalli-lakes-1057057.html  (03 Dec. 2021)

SAND MINING

Uttar Pradesh पत्रकार ने अवैध खनन की रिपोर्टिंग करने पर प्रशासन पर लगाया प्रताडित, फोन टैपिंग का आरोप बांदा जिले में एक स्थानीय पत्रकार ने प्रशासन पर उन्हें और उनके साथियों को उत्पीड़न और टॉर्चर करने का आरोप लगाया है. आरोप है कि इलाके में पैलानी क्षेत्र की अमलोर मौरम खदान से नियमों का उल्लंघन कर बालू निकाला जा रहा है, जिसके चलते नदी और पर्यावरण को नुकसान हो रहा है. केन नदी में हो रही इस अवैध खनन की वे पिछले कुछ समय से रिपोर्टिंग कर रहे हैं. इस खदान के संचालक गाजियाबाद निवासी विपुल त्यागी बताए जा रहे हैं.

आशीष सागर बांदा जिले में ‘वॉयस ऑफ बुंदेलखंड’ नाम से अपना एक चैनल चलाते हैं. वे ‘द प्रेस ट्रस्ट ऑफ बुंदेलखंड’ के संस्थापक हैं. पिछले दिनों आशीष अपने ट्वीट और फेसबुक पोस्ट के जरिए लिखा था कि 16 नवंबर की रात पुलिसवाले उनके घर रात में सवा 10 बजे पहुंच गए और गेट खुलवाने का दबाव बनाने लगे. https://hindi.asiaville.in/article/journalist-in-up-harassed-the-administration-for-reporting-illegal-mining-and-accused-of-phone-tapping-73357  (29 Nov. 2021)

Karnataka Revenue minister attacked by sand mafia A day after he ordered seizure of a tractor for illegally transporting sand, revenue inspector Venkataswamy was attacked by four miscreants at his house in Ballari town late Wednesday (Dec 1, 2021) night. His wife and son also suffered injuries in the attack. Police said Venkataswamy, 48, and his wife sustained fractures and were treated at VIMS Hospital. His son is also injured. On Tuesday, Venkataswamy seized a tractor near Tolamamidi village for illegally transporting sand mined from Vedavati river. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysuru/karnataka-revenue-officer-attacked-by-sand-mafia-in-ballari/articleshow/88062861.cms  (03 Dec. 2021)

Punjab Illegal sand mining is being carried out under the patronage CM Charanjit Singh Channi in his own constituency, AAP leader Raghav Chadha has alleged in what he calls an “expose”. In a video showing the “live raid”, the young leader can be seen travelling to the bank of a river in the Jindapur village of Chamkaur Sahib – Mr Channi’s constituency. Visuals of JCB excavators and trucks being loaded with sand can be seen in the video. “Illegal sand mining in Charanjit Singh Channi’s constituency has been exposed. It is the biggest expose which will shake Punjab’s politics,” Mr Chadha told reporters at the site. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/illegal-sand-mining-in-punjab-aap-accuses-charanjit-channi-of-protecting-sand-mafia-2637098  (04 Dec. 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Jammu & Kashmir CS assures NGT of scientific waste management Chief Secretary A K Mehta has told the Principal Bench of the NGT that he would personally oversee the wetland execution plans in Kashmir. A petition on this issue ‘Raja Muzaffar Bhat versus State of J&K’ listed before the tribunal is pending disposal before the NGT for almost 3 years. The petitioner has prayed for the prevention of unscientific dumping of waste and encroachment of Wullar, Hokersar, and Kreentchoo Chandhara wetlands.

– The counsel of the petitioner Saurabh Sharma who appeared on behalf of the petitioner told the NGT that the J&K government had not acted upon the previous orders and advisories of the tribunal as only paperwork was being done and wetlands like Wullar and Hokersar, in particular, were being encroached and polluted by was solid and liquid waste dumping. https://kashmirlife.net/jk-assures-ngt-of-making-waste-dumping-scientific-280759/  (28 Nov. 2021) https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/kashmir-todays-paper/will-personally-oversee-wetland-execution-plans-cs-tells-ngt-principal-bench  (29 Nov. 2021)

Tamil Nadu NHAI proposes new Pamban bridge The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has proposed to build a new Pamban road bridge connecting Ramanathapuram with Rameshwaram-Dhanushkodi island a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists. The new road bridge, measuring 1.880 km, is part of the project turning the National Highway-49 (NH-49) from Paramakudi to Dhanushkodi into a four-lane one, according to documents available with TNIE. It will be built over the Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 1,842 crore.

The road bridge will come up south of the existing two-lane Annai Indira Gandhi bridge which according to NHAI officials, was getting congested owing to increasing traffic. The project would require about 370 hectares of land, of which just over 9 hectares forms part of ESZ of Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. NHAI Project Director MS Pandian on November 16 filed an application seeking wildlife clearance from the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife.

The NHAI officials have given an undertaking to the Union government that since the proposed bridge in the ESZ required an area fewer than 50 hectares, preparation of biodiversity impact assessment report was not applicable for the project. It may be noted that four-laning of NH-49 from Paramakudi to Dhanushkodi is an old proposal and was vehemently opposed by landowners, who objected to the takeover of their land and demanded realignment of the highway. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/dec/05/nhai-proposes-new-pamban-bridge-2391971.html  (05 Dec. 2021)

Goa NGT orders formation of panel to study highway impact NGT has directed that a 10-member joint committee be formed to examine feasibility of the construction of a four-lane highway in South Goa that would require filling up of ponds and wetlands — or ‘khazan land’, as they are called locally. “There can be no doubt that waterbodies, wetlands, mangroves and other natural resources need to be protected. While construction of a road may be a necessity, such construction should not result in destruction of biodiversity and other environmental resources, including waterbodies and wetlands. Floodplains of river Sal also need to be protected,” the tribunal observed in a petition filed by activist Royla Fernandes.

In her petition, Fernandes had stated that Margao National Highway Western Bypass has already been built from Nuvem village in South Goa to Seraulim through wetlands and agricultural land. The petitioner stated that 2.75 km from Seraulim to Varca, yet to be constructed, will destroy a large area of wetlands, agricultural lands and waterbodies of these villages. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/goa-ngt-orders-formation-of-panel-to-study-highway-impact-7374690/  (25 June 2021)

Ownership of controversial bungalow quietly changes hands The construction of the bungalow within the no-go heritage zone was challenged legally on two occasions, and the case is now before the Supreme Court. Unmoved by the government action, the Save Old Goa Action Committee said its satyagraha would continue till the “physical demolition of the illegal structure”. It also wants the state to notify the demarcation of protected, prohibited and regulated areas on the regional plan. For the rich and glitzy from Mumbai and Delhi, Old Goa is just another great setting for their next sprawling bungalow. For Goans, it is a site anchored by centuries of history, architecture and the sacred. It is unlikely this fight will be given up easily. https://thewire.in/political-economy/old-goa-controversial-bungalow-ownership-change-shaina-munot  (05 Dec. 2021)

IWP Mangroves – Wetlands or forests? V. Selvam Mangroves were treated and managed as forests in colonial times, although they are much similar to wetlands. This led to extensive degradation of mangrove ecosystems in India. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/mangroves-wetlands-or-forests  (21 Nov. 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Uttar Pradesh Villagers make & break dam every year People at Khamaria village in Baheri block of Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district are engaged in constructing a temporary earthen dam at Bahgul river to store water and divert it through canals for irrigation. However, this is not unusual. Year after year, for over five years, the locals here have been building storage dams for storing water to irrigate acres of land spread over 125 villages in three Assembly constituencies — Baheri and Meerganj in Bareilly and Bilaspur in Rampur. These villages don’t have any other source of irrigation apart from the dam. But with the onset of monsoon, they have to break the earthen dam — as per the law — by June 25 every year after the river is flooded, failing which the other areas run the risk of being inundated. https://www.newsclick.in/why-people-village-make-and-break-dam-every-year  (28 Nov. 2021)

GROUNDWATER

Bihar High levels of radioactive uranium in groundwater At least ten districts of Bihar have reported high levels of uranium in their groundwater, the primary source of drinking water in rural areas, which far exceeds the tolerable limit prescribed by the World Health Organization. Millions in Bihar are already facing a high disease burden due to elevated levels of arsenic, fluoride and iron in their water. Presence of uranium has multiplied their worries manifold. The state government is still yet to prepare a response plan. A ground report from Siwan, one of the affected districts. https://en.gaonconnection.com/uranium-groundwater-bihar-drinking-health-risks-arsenic-cancer-kidney-liver-rural-healthcare-water/  (03 Dec. 2021)

पानी नहीं जहर पी रहे हैं बिहार के लोग जल नल योजना अभी तक डोम टोली में नहीं पहुंची है जिसके कारण यहां 3000 रूपए प्रति महीना कमाने वाले परिवार को 600 रूपए पानी में खर्च करने पड़ते हैं. https://hindi.theprint.in/report/these-districts-of-bihar-are-drinking-poison-not-water-shocking-revelations-made-in-the-report/254482/  (05 Dec. 2021)

URBAN WATER

SANDRP Guest Blog Indore is Still Very Much Water Minus!! By Rahul Banerjee Recently, the city of Indore was declared the first Water Plus city in India under the Swachh Sarvekshan programme of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for its ostensibly exemplary waste water management (Hindustan Times, 2021). However, the reality is quite different as a detailed study of the prevailing wastewater management situation in the city shows. https://sandrp.in/2021/11/29/indore-is-still-very-much-water-minus/  (29 Nov. 2021)

Bengaluru Very interesting Webinar on Urban Rural Water issues, by Biome Trust of Bangalore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxpuxVP_lbs  (04 Dec. 2021)

The High Court of Karnataka has quashed the government notification dated November 19, 2019, transferring the Puttenahalli Bird Conservation Reserve in Yelahanka to the BBMP. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi has directed the Forest Department to look after the conservation reserve. The PIL was filed by the Yelahanka-Puttenahalli Lake and Bird Conservation Trust and several others. The area was declared a bird conservation reserve in April 2015. The HC ordered that the Chief Wildlife Warden is the competent authority to control, manage and maintain the CR. The HC directed the state govt to release the necessary money and to BWSSB to stop the leakage of sewage into the CR. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/karnataka-hc-quashes-order-transferring-bird-reserve-to-bbmp-1056716.html  (02 Dec. 2021)

HC Quashes GO Transferring Puttenahalli Bird Reserve To BBMP; Orders Forest Department To Take Charge https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/karnataka-high-court-puttenahalli-lake-bird-conservation-reserve-forest-department-bbmp-187035  (06 Dec. 2021)

Hesaraghatta Lake: From drinking water source to haven for mining, open defecation The Hesaraghatta Lake bed and grasslands, created in 1894 across the Arkavathy River by the erstwhile Mysore state to meet the drinking water needs of Bengaluru city, has been rapidly drying up over the last 30 years. The lake is one of the last remaining grassland ecosystems in Bengaluru. A continuous erosion of its water catchment area due to urbanisation and the shrinking of its water storage areas due to silting are resulting in the drying up of the lake.

The 1,912-acre lake and grassland located about 30 km northwest of Bengaluru is now mostly a dry lake with the exception of a few patches of water that has collected due to the recent spell of incessant rains. From a source of drinking water, the lake in recent years has become a haven for sand mining, cattle grazing and open defecation. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/hesaraghatta-lake-drinking-water-source-bengaluru-haven-for-sand-mining-open-defecation-7656303/  (05 Dec. 2021)

Mumbai What it takes to get water connections for 800 families in Andheri’s informal settlements Homes in Siddharth Nagar, a slum in Andheri West, might soon get water connections after a 9-year long struggle. Members of Pani Haq Samiti, an organisation fighting for universal access to water, held a ‘Jal adhikari satyagraha’ on November 15th, after which the Assistant Commissioner of the K West ward promised to write to the Municipal Commissioner (MC) for the connection. The approval of Iqbal Chahal, the Municipal Commissioner, is imminent.

2 million people in Mumbai are denied a legal water connection. This dates back to a policy by the Maharashtra Urban Development Department (UDD) in 1996 that cut off municipal water supply from ‘unauthorised slums,’ in order to discourage them from settling down. Pani Haq Samiti was founded partially in response to this, and has made strides in overturning the policy. Sitaram Shelar is one of it’s founders, and is actively involved in fighting for water connections in informal settlements. https://mumbai.citizenmatters.in/getting-water-connections-for-slums-interview-with-sitaram-shelar-27794  (02 Dec. 2021)

Concrete road runs through mangrove patch in Malad A cement concrete road has come up right amid the mangroves behind Jankalyan Nagar in Malad West. Activists and local residents say massive cutting of mangroves has been underway at various places since early this month in Malad West, even as the BMC, police and the collector’s office refuse to act upon complaints.

Advocate Godfrey Pimenta said the land mafia has destroyed large tracts of mangroves at Marve near INS Hamla. “Despite filing repeated complaints, the Malwani police, as well as the mangrove cell, has failed to take action against the offenders. We demand stringent application of MCOCA against those destroying the environment,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-concrete-road-runs-through-mangrove-patch-in-malad/articleshow/88018668.cms  (01 Dec. 2021)

Hyderabad 100 swanky villas sealed in Dundigal In a major crackdown on unauthorised villa constructions in Dundigal municipality, about 100 villas were sealed by the Town Planning wing of Dundigal municipality on Saturday (Dec. 5), and 160 more are going to be sealed in the next two days. Eight more villas that were constructed in the prohibited buffer zone of Katwa Cheruvu, Mallampet, are being demolished. Four of them have already been razed to the ground, while demolition of the remaining four villas is under process. Municipal officials have booked criminal cases against the developer of these villas. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/dec/05/100-swanky-villas-sealed-in-dundigal-2391990.html  (06 Dec. 2021)

Gurugram 3 yrs after NGT order, Ghata bund revamp begins The Ghata jheel, located in the foothills of the Aravalis in Sector 58, was once counted among one of the biggest natural waterbodies of the city. But the lake dried up to a large extent due to large-scale construction in its catchment area along Golf Course Road (Extension), residents and environmentalists said.

Lt Col Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi (retd), an environmentalist who had filed a petition in 2015 in NGT for the identification, protection and restoration of waterbodies across Haryana, said the Haryana government was supposed to submit a status report on the Ghata restoration project by January 2019. “We have submitted a plea in the Supreme Court on the matter. The state government has to deposit money to court for not following the orders.”  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/3-yrs-after-ngt-order-ghata-bund-revamp-begins/articleshow/88017515.cms  (01 Dec. 2021)

More than a year after Haryana forest minister Kanwar Pal announced that a 100-acre biodiversity park will come up in Manesar’s Kasan village, there has been no progress on the project. At least 89 acres of the land on which the project is set to come up, forest department officials said, belongs to the civic corporation and they were yet to obtain permission for the same. The forest department, officials claimed, has written to the Municipal Corporation of Manesar (MCM) several times to convert the land into a forest area but no action has been initiated as yet. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/manesar-biopark-held-up-by-land-handover-delay/articleshow/88038944.cms  (02 Dec. 2021)

Delhi 10 water bodies to be declared as wetlands 10 waterbodies in the capital are set to be declared wetlands by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change. The identified waterbodies are Sanjay Lake, Hauz Khas Lake, Bhalswa Lake, Smriti Van (Kondli), Smriti Van (Vasant Kunj), Najafgarh Jheel, Welcome Jheel, Daryapur Kalan, Sultanpur Dabas, Poth Kalan (Sardar Sarovar Lake), said a report by Delhi Parks and Gardens Society. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/10-waterbodies-in-delhi-to-be-declared-wetlands/articleshow/88017328.cms  (01 Dec. 2021)

WATER POLLUTION

New report Polluted Power on the water and fly ash pollution from Koradi and Khaparkheda thermal power plants, by CFSD, Nagpur; Manthan and ASAR.  Based on extensive questionnaire based survey and testing of water samples from number of locations in 3 seasons. Report +Summaries in English, Hindi and Marathi + Short VDO  at: https://www.manthan-india.org/polluted-power-how-koradi-khaperkheda-thermal-power-stations-are-impacting-the-environment/

WATER

Opinon By Mridula Ramesh. The article has a number of misconceptions/ misleading statements:- 1. Her statement that India has too little of storages is a typical statement of bid dam lobby that ignores the various storage options available from soil to aquifers to local water systems.

2. Her statement that hydropower has become increasingly valuable in CC does not reflect reality that hydropower is no longer even economically viable, a development of last decade. 3. Her statement that wet areas are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier is contrary to researchers that show that several dry areas of India are getting higher rainfall and wet areas are seeing lower rainfall.

4. She mentions falling groundwater level, but seems to blame the farmers and city dwellers, not mentioning even once that the groundwater recharge systems are being systematically being destroyed both in cities and outside.

5. She mentions slight reduction in rainfall in Punjab and than asks how long farming can continue there, not mentioning that most of the water used in Punjab comes from either outside the state (Himachal Pradesh) or groundwater, not from the local rainfall, and that rainfall is also not getting properly used.

6. The article does not mention the completely unsustainable water practices in Urban India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/as-farmers-exult-lets-not-forget-the-perils-of-ignoring-water-crisis/  (05 Nov. 2021)

AGRICULTURE

Opinon Will ZBNF address complex farming; food demands? PM Modi’s advocacy of Zero Budget Natural Farming comes after the controversial farm laws were repealed. But further critical examination is crucial writes Bhargavi S Rao, Leo F Saldanha https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/will-zero-budget-natural-farming-address-india-s-complex-farming-and-food-demands-158329  (03 Dec. 2021)

NORTH EAST MONSOON 2021

Karnataka Oct-Nov 2021 rainfall departure highest in 60 years  According to data shared by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), the State as a whole recorded an actual amount of 322 mm of rainfall as against the normal rainfall of 173 mm during this period, with the percentage departure from normal being 87%, making it fall under the “large excess” category. This, officials said, is the highest in the last 60 years.

– During the two-month period, South Interior Karnataka recorded a 143% departure from normal, which was the highest in the last 60 years, and for November alone too, which was a 293% departure from normal. Coastal Karnataka had 119% more rainfall for the two months, the second highest in 60 years. For November, it was the highest in 60 years with a 311 % departure. Similar was the case with Malnad, where the 113% departure for two months was the highest in 60 years, and 259% departure in November the second highest for the same period. North Interior Karnataka had only a 12% departure in October-November, but for November, it saw 168% departure, the fifth highest in 60 years.

– “During the northeast monsoon season, the State average rainy days are 10. This year, we had 18 rainy days; South Interior Karnataka had 22 rainy days instead of the normal 12, Malnad 25 instead of 12, and the Coastal region 24 instead of the normal 13 rainy days,” KSNDMC officials said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnatakas-october-november-rainfall-departure-highest-in-60-years/article37816161.ece  (03 Dec. 2021)

Karnataka received an all time high rainfall of 249% excess in Nov 2021. Bengaluru also got third highest rainfall, 224 mm, 329% above rainfall in this month, only 1916 and 2015 had higher rainfall. IMD has forecast above normal rainfall in South Karnataka during Dec to Feb. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/karnataka-received-249-excess-rain-in-november/articleshow/88040259.cms  (02 Dec. 2021)

‘Southern India saw highest rainfall in Nov since 1901’ Peninsular India recorded the highest ever rainfall in November 2021 since 1901, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday (Dec 1, 2021) while noting that even the ‘heavy’, ‘very heavy’ and ‘extremely heavy’ rainfall events last month were the highest over the last five years. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and south interior Karnataka received 169% excess rainfall last month while the country witnessed 645 ‘heavy’ (64.5 to 115.5 mm), 168 ‘very heavy’ (115.6 to 204.5 mm) and 11 ‘extremely heavy’ (over 204.5 mm) rainfall events in November.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/southern-india-saw-highest-rainfall-in-november-since-1901/articleshow/88038875.cms  (02 Dec. 2021)

3 trusted weather bloggers for Telugu states Three independent weather bloggers open up about how they learned about weather analysis and built a growing network of followers on social media for their accurate forecasts. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/meet-three-trusted-weather-bloggers-telugu-states-158215  (30 Nov. 2021)

FLOOD 2021

SANDRP Blog Andhra Pradesh: Dam Induced Flood Disaster in November 2021 Andhra Pradesh November 2021 dam floods has once again raised questions over scientific and efficient operations of irrigation and dam projects specifically before and during the peak floods. Given advance weather forecast, the dam operators clearly once again kept waiting for TINA [There is no alternative, (but to release)] situation and then conveniently blamed heavy downpours for the flood destruction.  No doubt, rainfall pattern is changing, but scientific, efficient and accountable operations of dams, irrigation projects can to great extent help floods don’t turn into a disaster. https://sandrp.in/2021/12/05/andhra-pradesh-dam-induced-flood-disaster-in-november-2021/  (05 Dec. 2021)

A timely alert by a 60-year old man saved hundreds of lives on the night of November 19, when devastating floods, caused due to the breach of the earthen bund of Annamayya project reservoir on Cheyyeru river in Andhra Pradesh’s Kadapa district, swept away several villages downstream. Parna Ramaiah, a retired watchman of the Annamayya project, is now being treated as a messiah by the people of Togurupeta, Ramachandrapuram and Salipeta villages of Rajampet constituency, as they would have been swept away by the swirling waters of Cheyyeru river while they were still asleep but for the timely alert from him.

Ramaiah, who retired from service in June this year on superannuation, has been staying at his house at Togurupeta village, about half a kilometre from the dam. He has two acres of land on which he was growing turmeric. “Even after my retirement, I have been continuing to keep a vigil on the project, as it has become a part of my life for the last three decades. Though I suffered a fracture to my leg three months ago, I have not stopped visiting the dam site regularly,” he told Hindustan Times.

Narrating the events of the fateful day, Ramaiah said due to heavy rains upstream of the river, the inflows into Annamayya reservoir was gradually increasing since the morning of November 18. “The irrigation authorities were controlling the floods by releasing four of the five crest gates of the dam after assessing the inflows. By 8.30 pm, the water level reached 200 metres and within an hour, the water level came down to 190 metres, as all the gates were completely lifted,” he said.

But around 1.30 am on November 19, there was a massive flood to the dam. “In my three-decades-long service, I had never seen such a heavy flood and the reservoir was overflowing and the earthen bund started caving in. I alerted my son, who, with the help of a couple of irrigation officials, brought my family members to the upper part of the concrete dam,” he recalled.

“By 4 am, the earthen bund started eroding gradually. By 5.30 am, the entire bund got washed away and floodwaters gushed into the villages with massive force. Several villages downstream were completely inundated, causing massive destruction to crops, cattle and poultry. Hundreds of houses were razed to rubble,” Ramaiah said. Kadapa district collector V Vijayarama Raju, in his report submitted to the state government, attributed the flash floods to Cheyyeru due to heavy rains, up to 10.7 cm in just 12 hours, which was unprecedented. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/60year-old-man-s-timely-alert-saved-hundreds-from-kadapa-floods-101638191967390.html  (29 Nov. 2021)

Landslides on Tirumala ghat road A landslide on the Tirumala ghat road on the night of Tuesday, November 30 caused temporary obstruction to vehicles. The road remained closed for repairs on Wednesday, December 1. Tirumala recently witnessed unprecedented heavy rains on November 18, resulting in landslides on multiple places on the ghat roads. The TTD had already announced the closure of ghat roads for two days due to the rain forecast. After carrying out repair works, the ghat roads were reopened for vehicular traffic a few days later. TTD said that on the first ghat road, a barricade wall near the Akkagarla temple was damaged, causing boulders to fall onto the street in four places. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/landslides-tirumala-ghat-road-vehicles-temporarily-stranded-158244  (01 Dec. 2021)

Mullaperiyar dam TN released water without warning Kerala has decided to complain against TN for letting out Mullaperiyar water without prior warning. Complaint will be made to CWC, Supervisory Committee and TN. Residents of towns and villages downstream of the Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala were caught unawares early on Nov 30, 2021 night as over 5,000 cusecs of water was released into the Periyar river from the reservoir, when water level reached 142 ft at midnight. 9 of the 13 shutters were raised between 2.30 and 8 am.

– According to sources, this was the third time this year that Tamil Nadu opened the spillway shutters after 10 p.m. The main towns affected in the flood included Vallakadavu, Vandiperiyar, Chappathu and Upputhara. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/mullaperiyar-water-let-out-without-warning-kerala/article37779329.ece  (03 Nov. 2021)

The water level at Mullaperiyar dam touched 142 feet again. Tamil Nadu may open more shutters. The Kerala state government has issued an alert to the people in the vicinity of Periyar.  Two spillway shutters have been opened and 841 cubic feet of water is being let into Periyar. 2708 cubic feet of water reaches the dam every second, out of which 1867 feet of water is taken by Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu informed that even though there is heavy rain in the catchment areas, more spillway shutters will be opened. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/water-level-at-mullaperiyar-dam-touches-142-ft-mullaperiyar-dam-1.6241787  (05 Dec. 2021)

Kerala Panic as landslide hits Kokkayar again A mild landslide was reported from Thazhathangadi in Kokkayar panchayat in Idukki district on Sunday (Dec. 5). As a result, the water level in the Pullakayar rose alarmingly. But no untoward incident was reported. It is the same place where three houses were completely destroyed during the floods last time as a result of the change in direction of the Pullakayar.  https://www.onmanorama.com/news/kerala/2021/12/06/panic-as-landslide-hits-kokkayar-again-water-surges-in-river.html  (06 Dec. 2021)

URBAN FLOODS

Map showing Hebbal valley with development right in the middle of the valley zones. Credit: Raj Bhagat Palaniswamy/Twitter

Bengaluru 50% stormwater drains lost Bengaluru’s drainage system has been badly mismanaged by the city corporation BBMP’s Stormwater Drain (SWD) department, finds the audit report. The report covered the years from 2013-14 to 2017-18. It was based on CAG’s audit of records at BBMP and other government agencies, physical inspections of drains, along with an independent study with the technical support of ISRO. https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/cag-report-stormwater-drains-master-plan-encroachment-70359  (01 Dec. 2021)

Chennai Your inputs could help mitigate flooding Seeing as many in the city were taking to social media to highlight water logging in their areas, Stephen Jayaseelan, the GIS Cell Lead at Care Earth Trust, started compiling the information posted by the residents. Soon the idea of creating a GIS map to plot streets in Chennai that saw flooding during the rains evolved. https://chennai.citizenmatters.in/chennai-flooding-gis-mapping-care-earth-trust-36212  (01 Dec. 2021)

The Greater Chennai Corporation on Sunday (Dec. 5) announced that it would be building newer storm water drains in the Pulianthope area of North Chennai, at a cost of Rs 7.10 crore. The drains would have a higher carrying capacity than the existing ones. Pulianthope was one of the worst flooded areas during the recent rains with water stagnation remaining for days. Officials said the previous drains connecting to Gandhi Canal had a varying capacity of only 2 to 3 cm of rain. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-corporation-to-set-up-storm-drain-costing-rs-7-10-crore-in-pulianthope/articleshow/88105079.cms  (05 Dec. 2021)

Kolkata NGT summons 2 principal secretaries over clogged canals The NGT summoned two state principal secretaries through virtual court proceedings on September 28 in connection with water flowing back from clogged Kestopur and Bagjola canals, flooding New Town, Salt Lake and large stretches along the two channels off VIP Road.

The eastern region bench of NGT of Justice B Amit Sthalekar, a judicial member, and Saibal Gupta, an expert member, said they were “constrained to observe” no step was taken to stop the problem. It said the “irrigation and waterways department has not cared to file its affidavit, showing what action plan has been prepared to prevent the disasters of the previous week and this week … People have fallen into open manholes… Cars have driven into a lake… The fear of the tribunal has been proven correct and colonies have been deluged with dirt, filth and gutter water due to backflow of the Kestopur and Bagjola canals”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/ngt-summons-principal-secys-over-clogged-canals/articleshow/86493190.cms   (25 Sept. 2021)

DROUGHT

IWP Will flash droughts affect India? Flash droughts in India pose challenges for water management during the summer monsoon. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/will-flash-droughts-affect-india  (25 Nov. 2021)

DISASTERS

Himachal Pradesh 2 trekkers go missing 2 trekkers from Dharamsala have gone missing in the Dhauladhar mountain ranges, authorities in the district said on Saturday (Dec. 4). They’d gone trekking to Kundli pass near Kharota and have been missing since Friday (Dec. 3). Authorities suspect that the two trekkers were left stranded on the upper reaches of the Dhauladhar mountain range after snow. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/two-dharamsala-trekkers-go-missing-in-dhauladhar%C2%A0mountain-ranges-346272  (04 Dec. 2021)

LANDSLIDES

Landslide warning system under trial, Parliament told The system, dubbed Landslide Early Warning System (LEWS), is being tested by the Geological Survey of India in the two hilly districts of Darjeeling in West Bengal and Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, and is likely to be operational by 2025, the earth sciences ministry informed the Rajya Sabha. The prototype regional LEWS, being developed by the Geological Survey in collaboration with its British counterpart under the aegis of the National Environmental Research Council’s LANDSLIP project, is based on rainfall thresholds since 2017.

The LANDSLIP project developed a prototype last year based on terrain-specific rainfall thresholds in the two test areas. Since the 2020 southwest monsoon, the Geological Survey has started issuing daily landslide forecasts during the summer monsoon to district administrations in Darjeeling and Nilgiris, the central government said.

GSI has also laid the groundwork to develop regional LEWS in other landslide-prone states like Uttarakhand, Kerala, Sikkim from this year and plans to add five more – Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram – by 2022. “The evaluation and calibration of the models will continue during the next few monsoon years and the regional LEWS will be made operational in phases in all such 10 states, the earth sciences ministry told Parliament.

India’s National Disaster Management Authority has also constituted a group to develop a monitoring and early warning system (EWS) for rock and snow avalanche events including glacier and landslide lake outburst floods to reduce cascading impacts like flash floods and landslides in downstream areas. The authority released guidelines on management of such floods and a summary for policy makers on October 13. India currently does not have a EWS system for glacier-related disasters but has conducted studies on their melting by assessing mass balance studies and monitoring the recession of selected Himalayan glaciers, which have been receding due to global warming.

“It is possible to develop an early warning system for landslides. In Uttarakhand, we have a proposal where landslides or avalanches can be mapped through a careful study of geology, faults, folds, thrusts, curvature, slope, magnitude of slope, vegetation cover, seismicity, etc, which can help us identify a large susceptibility zone. From IMD, we can get rainfall data and forecast for automatic weather station network and use artificial intelligence for quick decision making. An early warning system can be created which gives people 20 minutes time to evacuate. People should also respond to such a system, then it can be successful,” Kalachand Sain, director, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, said. https://wap.business-standard.com/article-amp/current-affairs/india-says-it-s-working-with-uk-on-prototype-for-landslide-warning-system-121120201543_1.html  (06 Dec. 2021)

The evaluation and calibration of the models will continue during the next few monsoon years and the regional LEWS will be made operational in phases in all such 10 states after successful ground evaluation, with effect from 2025 onwards, the Minister said.  https://wap.business-standard.com/article-amp/current-affairs/india-says-it-s-working-with-uk-on-prototype-for-landslide-warning-system-121120201543_1.html  (03 Dec. 2021)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Assam Villages are experimenting with floating solar plants More standards and guidelines are needed to help in the smooth expansion of the sector, say experts. https://scroll.in/article/1011602/in-assam-a-few-remote-villages-are-experimenting-with-floating-solar-plants-to-generate-electricity  (03 Dec. 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

MoEF tags eco-tourism as ‘forestry activity’, not requiring Centre’s permissions MoEF seems to be on a mission to dilute the Forest (Conservation) Act (FCA) 1980, which was brought in to stop de-reservation of forests in the country. The environment ministry has done a complete U-turn and designated eco-tourism as a forestry activity, instead of the earlier non-forestry tag, facilitating unhindered ‘eco-tourism’ activities in all forests. In a similar climbdown, the ministry had earlier exempted National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and state road user agencies from forest clearance if the right of way (RoW) belonged to them.

On October 25, the forest conservation division of the ministry issued a circular amending Para 11.10 of the Handbook on FCA, which will now be read as “Development/construction of facilities which are not of permanent nature, in forest areas for the purpose of eco-tourism by the government authorities shall not be considered as a non-forestry activity for the purpose of FCA, 1980.” Earlier the Para 11.10 said, “Construction of permanent structures for the purpose of ecotourism on forest land shall be considered as non-forestry activity. In such cases, prior approval of the Central government under the FCA is required.”

The MoEFCC also deleted Para 12.13 which states “Eco-tourism is a non-forestry activity, and will be allowed in protected areas (PAs) if the said activities are part of the management plan/tiger conservation plan (TCP) and are duly approved by the Central government.” The environment ministry has also done away with the clause which mentioned that “ecotourism is a non-forest activity requiring prior approval under the FCA.” Suresh Chopne, president, Green Planet Society, said, “The FCA is supreme and such convenient circulars and guidelines cannot overpower the Act. If the eco-tourism activity is exempted from FCA there will be a flood of activities like roads and amenities in forests for unwarranted tourism projects. The authorities and leaders will turn our precious forests into gardens.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/environment-ministry-tags-eco-tourism-as-forestry-activity-not-requiring-centres-permissions/articleshow/88059321.cms  (03 Dec. 2021)

How proposed changes to Forest Act could pave way for more environmental damage

Proposed amendments:-

Proposal 1: Exclude private lands of the forest category  “Considering any private area as the forest would restrict the right of an individual to use his/her own land for any non-forestry activity,” reads the proposed amendment, adding that it would also devoid such private lands of vegetation even when the land has scope for planting activities.

Proposal 2: Exclude land owned by public sectors (such as the Railways Ministry, and Road, Transport and Highways Ministry) from the Act. In some areas, the land acquired by such sectors for development purposes was only partially used and the leftover tracts have been used for forest purposes under various government schemes, according to the proposal. If the Ministry exempts such lands acquired before October 25, 1980, from the purview of the Act, the landholding agency can use it for non-forest purposes.

Proposal 3: Encourage extensive plantations and afforestation in all possible available lands outside the government forests. According to the Union government, this is to (1) meet India’s 2030 target of creating an additional carbon sink (of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent); and (2) reduce the flow of foreign exchange from importing wood and its derivatives to the tune of approximately Rs 45,000 crore.

Proposal 4: Allow non-forestry use of forest land, for strategic and security projects of national importance. “Given the present scenario of obtaining approval for non-forestry use of forest land, many a time, strategic and security projects of national importance get delayed resulting in a setback to the development of such infrastructure at critical locations,” the Ministry pointed out. It proposed letting the state governments issue permits for such projects and ensuring their timely completion, instead of waiting for prior approval of the Union government.

Proposal 5: State governments would not require prior permission from the Union government to lease forest land to private citizens.  The proposal suggested deleting Section 2(iii) of the Forest Conservation Act, which says that the state government requires prior approval of the Union government to allot forest land for lease to any private person or to any authority, corporation, agency or any other organisation not owned, managed or controlled by the government. It also proposed to clarify that Section 2(ii) of the Act — any forest land or any portion thereof may be used for any non-forest purpose — can be invoked for any kind of lease assignment for non-forestry purposes.

Proposal 6: Bring certain technologies to extract oil and natural gas (mining) from forests without hampering the ecosystem. One such technology it had suggested is the Extended Reach Drilling (ERD), which enables exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas deep beneath the forest land by drilling holes from outside the forest areas. The Ministry claims it would not impact the soil or aquifer that supports the forest in the forest land.

Proposal 7: Exclude ecotourism from the non-forest activities. The Ministry proposes that zoos, safaris, forest training infrastructures, etc should not come within the meaning of “non-forestry activity” for the purpose of Section 2(ii) of the Act.

Proposal 8: Private citizens and the public sector should be able to access forests to use roads and railway lines close to the forest region. “These facilities (both private and government) need access (approach roads/rail) and that invariably pass through the strip of notified forest area along the road/rail line,” the Ministry said. Currently, the Act places restrictions on the dereservation of forests or the use of forest land for non-forest purposes. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/how-proposed-changes-forest-act-could-pave-way-more-environmental-damage-158376  (04 Dec. 2021)

Opinon Invisibility of caste in environmental studies Ambika Aiyadurai and Prashant Ingole write: It is our failure that anti-caste discourse, and literature and culture of the marginalised, are yet to become institutionalised in premier educational institutes. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/invisibility-of-caste-in-environmental-studies-7644987/  (29 Nov. 2021)

Gujarat A Dalit women’s collective is fighting for the land it toils on The government is set to distribute 50,000 acres of wasteland to wealthy farmers, but claims there isn’t enough for the landless. https://scroll.in/article/1011700/  (06 Dec. 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Bhutan Significance of Jaldhaka HPPa Partnership Today, Jaldhaka Hydro Power Project resonates more than ever as the finest example of transboundary water cooperation when the world and the region are embroiled in transboundary water sharing issues, differences, and conflicts… The Jaldhaka project deserves recognition for laying the foundation of the Bhutan- India Power Partnership.

– It is the first Indo-Bhutan hydropower cooperation that began in 1961 and was commissioned in 1967 with a total installed capacity of 27 MW. What makes the project truly a showpiece of the Bhutan India friendship is that the majestic dam at Bindu is built right on the Bhutan India boundary where three rivers namely of Jaldhaka Khola, Thoday Khola and Bindu Khola converge. The power project is run of river water and the left foundation of the dam is built in the Bhutanese territory while the right foundation falls in the Indian territory. The pond is built on the Bhutanese side and the powerhouse is located on the Indian side. It is operated by the West Bengal State Electricity Board and for many years the neighbouring areas of Bhutan like Sibsoo received electricity from the project. https://kuenselonline.com/the-significance-of-jaldhaka-hydro-power-project-in-bhutan-india-partnership/  (28 Aug. 2021)

ASIA

MEKONG Cambodia Mekong Commission failure: dam the river and damn the region Cambodia has already shown leadership, by committing to no hydropower dams on the mainstem at the Climate COP26 last month in Glasgow. However, at the 28th Council Meeting of the Mekong River Commission last week, the MRC did not take the serious step of urging the postponement of planned hydropower dams, despite scientific evidence of the negative impacts on food security for millions, agricultural land productivity, fisheries, biodiversity and a climate-resilient delta.

Water levels often run low on the Mekong River downstream from hydropower dams. Photo: AFP Forum / Paritta Wangkiat

Absurdly, while the MRC is going through the approval motions for these major dams, it is simultaneously conducting a joint environmental monitoring (JEM) program that focuses on measuring the impact of the controversial Xayaburi and Don Sahong hydropower dams. The JEM ought to be completed first so that its findings can feed into the approval process for the new dams. https://asiatimes.com/2021/12/mekong-commission-failure-dam-the-river-and-damn-the-region/  (02 Dec. 2021)

Governments in Mekong basin countries, especially China, need to include and work with civil society groups to ensure the river’s survival.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/regional-cooperation/listen-to-mekong-campaigners-to-save-river/  (06 Dec. 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

NILE GERD Africans must stand with Ethiopia in its hour of need! The filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a bone of contention between Ethiopia, whose highlands supply more than 85 percent of the water that flows into the Nile River, and the lower riparian states of Sudan and Egypt. In 2020 the U.S., at the behest of Egypt, tried to force Ethiopia into signing a binding agreement on the filling period. The Ethiopian government declined to sign-off a U.S.-drafted agreement regulating the filling time of the dam, which Egypt insisted should be completed  over 12-21 years, saying it has the right to fill the dam at its own pace and would do so in no more than seven years.

Although Sudan initially supported the building of the dam, since then it has taken Egypt’s side on the ground that filling the dam without the agreement of downstream countries imperiled its national security. Understandably, all parties to the dispute are wary of setting a precedent they may rue later. Egypt and Sudan lack confidence in Ethiopia’s assurances that the manner in which it fills the dam will not significantly reduce the river’s water flow. They are of the belief that they will be adversely affected if Ethiopia does not commit to releasing a minimum amount of water during times of prolonged drought. On its part, Ethiopia is rightfully unwilling to relent, apprehensive of the prospect that acceding to a legally enforceable obligation is tantamount to compromising its sovereign right to use the waters of the Nile in a fair and equitable manner. https://www.thereporterethiopia.com/article/africans-must-stand-ethiopia-its-hour-need  (20 Nov. 2021)

Documentary Sand Mining Is The Global Environmental Issue You’ve Never Heard Of https://www.forbes.com/video/6284432794001/sand-mining-is-the-global-environmental-issue-youve-never-heard-of/?sh=71080d9a32a4  (29 Nov. 2021)

100 renowned photographers team up to promote environmental conservation. https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/news/100-renowned-photographers-team-up-to-promote-environmental-conservation  (05 Dec. 2021)  

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 29 Nov 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 22 Nov 2021  

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

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