DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 20 Dec 2021: Judiciary fails the environment AGAIN

By allowing the Char Dham Highway to go ahead, putting aside all the environment, safety, disaster vulnerability and even norms and affidavits of the Ministry of Highways and the Defence Ministry, as well as the report of the expert panel set up by the apex court, the Judiciary has again failed the Environment, among other things. This is contrary to the generally held belief that Judiciary stands up for the cause of the environment. That belief has no real basis, as can be seen again. This is also failure of the governance, experts and environmental groups, besides also the failure of the media too.

GANGA Uttarakhand SC allows defence ministry’s plea for doubling road width The Supreme Court on Tuesday (Dec. 14) allowed an application filed by the Ministry of Defence for the double-lane widening of roads that are part of the 899-km Char Dham project in Uttarakhand. A bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Vikram Nath pronounced orders in the application filed by the Ministry of Defence seeking modification of the order dated September 8, 2020, which was passed by a three-Judge Bench headed by Justice Rohinton Nariman, in order to permit the Union of India to make roads with 10 Meters tarred surface as opposed to the 5.5 meters as ordered by the Court.

The Court today modified the order dated September 8, 2020, and allowed the Defence Ministry to widen the road as sought. At the same time, the Court took note of the environmental concerns raised by the High Powered Committee and directed the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway to implement the recommendations made by the HPC. The Court also appointed former Supreme Court judge Justice AK Sikri as the head of the oversight committee to oversee the implementation of the HPC recommendations. The Court noted that the MoRTH circulars do not forbid the double-laning of roads in hilly and mountainous terrains if the roads are of strategic and border importance. The Court also noted that there cannot be judicial review over defence requirements. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/char-dham-highway-project-supreme-court-allows-defence-ministrys-plea-to-allow-double-lane-widening-187588  (14 Dec. 2021)

A piece by Kavita Upadhyay analysing the December 14 Supreme Court judgment on the Char Dham project. https://science.thewire.in/environment/supreme-court-char-dham-highway-national-security-wider-landslide-prone-roads-uttarakhand/  (20 Dec. 2021)

“The Char Dham road project is a fundamental violation of all environmental norms and conservation strategies that need to be followed in the Himalayan mountain terrains for any constructional activities,” Dr Rajendran tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Rashme Sehgal.

The first of a two-part interview:

https://www.rediff.com/news/interview/char-dham-project-will-complicate-army-movement/20211222.htm

Besides this, the following reviews of the judgement have also come out:
https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/environment/when-the-himalayas-lose-assessing-chardham-pariyojana-judgment-80755

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/development/sustainable-development/assessing-of-the-decision-of-chardham-project-when-himalayas-lose-india-does-too-80756

https://www.nainitalsamachar.org/faisla-hai-ya-do-navo-ki-savari-me-lord/

चारधाम परियोजना को डबल लेन किए जाने की वाले फैसले में कई तरह की विसंगतियां हैं। हालांकि हिमालय यह साफ कर चुका है कि वह इस तरह का चौड़ीकरण नहीं झेल सकता।  By Priyadarshini Patel https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/development/sustainable-development/assessing-of-the-decision-of-chardham-project-when-himalayas-lose-india-does-too-80756 (20 Dec. 2021)

The ‘Char Dham Pariyojana’ is a fundamental violation of all environmental norms and conservation strategies that need to be followed in the Himalayan mountain terrains for any constructional activities. From EIA, forest clearances to circulars, concealment of documents – this has turned out to be an unscientific road-widening project with catastrophic consequences. A mission document released by the ministry of science and technology in June 2010, highlights some caveats under the heading ‘Green Road Construction’.

While implementing a free-way project in the Himalaya, a major question that stares you down is whether the mountain morphology with steep slopes and sharp gradients is easily amenable to human engineering. A key driver in regulating the Asian climate, the Himalaya is now in grave danger of losing its original splendour and power as a major climatic regulating force thanks to human-induced climate change and global warming. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/the-char-dham-road-project-a-freeway-to-disaster-in-hills/  (14 Dec. 2021)

Destabilising slopes will cause irreversible damage  Unhappy with the court order, Hemant Dhyani, environmentalist and one of the members of the SC-appointed high-powered committee of the all-weather Char Cham road project, told TOI, “With all due regards to the judgement, I see a lack of reasoning or explanation as to why the court has allowed widening of the road to 10 metres when the ministry of defence, in its November 2020 application, had sought a seven-metre wide road.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/destabilising-slopes-will-cause-irreversible-damage-to-himalayas/articleshow/88284418.cms  (15 Dec. 2021)

NGT allows Delhi-Dehradun expressway NGT on Monday (Dec. 13) allowed the Delhi-Dehradun Economic Corridor Expressway and set up a committee to ensure no damage is caused to the environment. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that the corridor is vital for Strategic defence purposes for timely and seamless movement of Army/warheads to higher reaches of the Himalayas. The NGT said that the Committee should ensure that no unscientific muck dumping or obstruction of animal corridors on the Ganeshpur Dehradun Road (NH-72A) stretch. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/ngt-allows-delhi-dehradun-expressway-forms-panel-to-ensure-no-environment-damage-1060316.html  (13 Dec. 2021)

The petitioners, Doon-based NGO ‘Citizens for Green Doon’ had approached the Supreme Court earlier this year to avoid the tree felling. The apex court had referred the matter to NGT. The petitioners contended that being almost 210-km-long, the project should have undergone a mandatory EIA, which it didn’t. However, the tribunal ruled that it “wasn’t required.” “Overall road connectivity cannot be taken to be one project for the purpose,” the bench stated.

19 दिसंबर को विभिन्न संगठनों द्वारा आयोजित हल्लाबोल कार्यक्रम में कम उपस्थिति के बावजूद एक अच्छा संदेश गये। काफी संख्या में युवाओं ने हिस्सा लिया। सिटीजंस ऑफ ग्रीन दून, फ्रेंड््स ऑफ दून, खुशियों की उड़ान, ईको ग्रुप, तितली ट्रस्ट, बीटीडीसी, आईडीईएसल, प्राउड पहाड़ी सोसायटी, एसडीसी फाउंडेशन और वेस्ट वॉरियर्स जैसे संगठनों से जुड़े लोगों ने हिस्सा लिया। http://baatbolegi.com/environment-movment-dehradun-sahasradhararoad/

Since most of the trees being felled are Sal and date back to colonial times, the NGT also ordered the NHAI to deposit Rs 1 crore with the FRI for research on Sal regeneration, in collaboration with the forest departments of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and “any other institution as may be found necessary.”

After the tribunal’s ruling, the petitioners, Citizens for Green Doon, said they were unhappy with the order and the formation of a committee which did not have an independent expert or environmentalist. General secretary of the NGO, Himanshu Arora, told TOI, ” The committee only has representatives of the government who are responsible for the project in the first place. Despite two rounds of litigation, there has been no expert consideration of the issues raised.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ngt-allows-construction-of-delhi-doon-e-way-11k-trees-to-be-axed-for-road/articleshow/88263218.cms  (14 Dec. 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Manipur Hydropower devastated Loktak lake, Livelihoods The Meitei people call the Loktak Wetlands in India’s North East region Loktak Lairembi or, the mother goddess.

The wetlands are the foundation of their socio-economic development and rich cultural heritage, but has been decimated by the construction of the contentious and controversial 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project (Loktak HEP). https://www.internationalrivers.org/news/how-hydropower-development-devastated-the-loktak-wetlands-and-the-livelihoods-of-women-and-communities/  (08 Dec. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Glacier loss pushing towards water insecurity The area under snow cover in 2019-20 was 23,542 sq km, which dropped to 19,183 sq km in 2020-21, a decline of 18.52%. The snow cover in the Chenab basin fell by 8.92%. The Beas, Ravi and Sutlej basins show a decrease of about 19%, 23% and 23.49% respectively. The shrinking of Indian glaciers will impact food and water availability for nearly 13% of the global population. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/12/glacier-loss-pushing-indias-mountain-region-towards-water-insecurity/  (13 Dec. 2021)

Arunachal Pradesh Rare mammal spotted It is first photo of Takin from East Kameng district, DFO Seppa, Vikas Swami said. The Takin is adapted to its mountainous environment in Asia. Due to overhunting and the destruction of its natural resources, it is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. https://arunachal24.in/arunachal-rare-mammal-takin-spotted-in-forests-of-east-kameng/  (17 Dec. 2021)

SOS call to save Thung thung karmo (Black-necked crane) and their habitat by Chukhhu Loma DFO, Bomdila Division, West Kameng. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2021/12/04/thung-thung-karmo-black-necked-crane/  (04 Dec. 2021)

Rajasthan Hydropower added into RPO targets The Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) has included hydropower purchase obligations in the seventh amendment to its renewable power purchase obligations (RPO). The Commission revised the RPO target for financial years (FY) 2021 to 2024 and included hydropower purchase obligation under the non-solar RPO.

– It has specified 8.50% solar RPO while non-solar RPO included 8.90% wind, 0.90% biomass, and 0.18% hydropower purchase obligations for FY 2021-22.

– For FY 2022-23, the solar RPO is set at 9.50%, wind at 9.10%, biomass at 1%, and hydropower purchase obligations at 0.35%. The total RPO target for FY 2023-24 is 21.66%. Of this, 10.50% is allocated to solar, 9.4% to wind, 1.1% to biomass, and 0.66% to hydropower.

– Hydropower imported from outside India should not be considered for meeting hydropower purchase obligations. In September, RERC issued a draft paper to amend the RERC (Renewable Energy Obligation) Regulations, 2007. In February, the Ministry of Power specified  RPO targets, including large hydropower projects commissioned after March 8, 2019. https://mercomindia.com/rajasthan-adds-hydropower-renewable-targets/  (16 Dec. 2021)

Jammu & Kashmir Over 20,000 staff protest decision of merging state power grids The strike began after two rounds of talks failed to break the stalemate. The protesters — who said they will ensure supply of power for essential services — are opposed to the merger with the central government entity. It was announced by the J&K administration on December 4.

“We had already warned the government of such situation (indefinite strike),” a protesting engineer said on the condition of anonymity. Employee leaders also said that since the initial division of the Power Development Department in 2019, staff members have not been paid their salaries on time. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/staff-jammu-kashmir-protest-merging-power-grids-7679658/  (19 Dec. 2021)

Centre No RE investor will come if energy bills not paid: R K Singh Taking to reporters on the side lines of National Energy Conservation Day Function, on rising dues of renewable energy (RE) producers from discoms, the minister said, “It is a matter of worry because the quantum is just Rs 15,000 crore or Rs 16,000 crore. But it amounts to 11-month of their billing.” A latest status report of the power minister finalised on November 29, 2021 showed that the total overdue amount of discoms towards RE producers stood at Rs 19,013 crore as on October 31, 2021, which constitutes 20 per cent of total amount of overdues of Rs 93,906 crore.

The overdues of discoms towards RE producers stood at Rs 14,741 crore in January this year. The report showed that the amount of Rs 19,013 crore overdues toward RE producers was 11.8 times of their average monthly billing. Andhra Pradesh utilities owe the maximum amount of the overdues towards RE producers at Rs 6,279 crore followed by Tamil Nadu at Rs 3,215 crore and Telangana at Rs 2,159 crore. Thus, the power ministry is embarking upon a robust payment security mechanism for the power producers so that energy bills are paid well in time. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/no-renewable-energy-investor-will-come-if-energy-bills-not-paid-stringent-action-needed-says-r-k-singh/88289387  (15 Dec. 2021)

The overdues of power distribution companies (discoms) towards generating companies (gencos) is on the rise again. However, this time, it is the RE projects that are bearing the brunt. Despite an incentive announced last year to assist discoms clear their dues, renewable developers have benefited the least. RE developers are fighting legal battles with several states over non-payment of dues, and in some cases, renegotiating tariffs. The dues of RE power generators have increased by close to 40 per cent since January, the highest among all categories https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/renewable-energy-projects-bear-the-brunt-of-discoms-financial-woes-121121600053_1.html  (16 Dec. 2021)

The matter of increasing overdues of power generation firms (gencos) was also deliberated and it was advised that distribution companies (discoms) must immediately undertake loss reduction measures through proper metering, billing and energy accounting.

Proper accounting of subsidies being announced by respective state governments and payment to discoms also need to be ensured. It was reiterated that improved financial sustainability of the discoms will not only attract investments in the power sector as a whole but will also benefit the consumers through reduced cost of electricity and improved consumer services, it stated.  https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/power-minister-urges-states-to-be-financially-viable-in-view-of-high-oustanding-dues-of-gencos/2383024/  (18 Dec. 2021)

MoEF Minutes of the meeting of EAC on River Valley Projects held on Nov 15, 2021. Key decisions:

1. 1000 MW Gandikota Pumped Storage Hydro-electric Project, in an area of 190 ha at village Kondapuram village, Tehsil Muddanur, District Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh by New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of Andhra Pradesh Ltd. (NREDCAP) – Terms of Reference: APPROVED

2. 800 mW Owk Pumped Storage Hydro-electric Project, in an area of 390 ha at village & Tehsil Owk, District Kurnool Andhra Pradesh by New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of Andhra Pradesh– Terms of Reference: APPROVED

3. Teesta Low Dam – I & II (Combined) Hydro-Electric Project 71 MW (2×30+1x11MW) in 170 ha by W Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company in Triveni town, Tehsil Rangli Rangliot, Dist Darjeeling, W Bengal – Terms of Reference: More Info Sought http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/1312202112363327FinalMOM19th_EAC_21-11-2021.pdf 

ONLY ONE Agenda ITEM for the EAC meeting on River Valley Projects to be held on Dec 23, 2021:  Yerravaram Pumped Storage Hydro Electric Project (1200MW) in an area of 297.69ha located at village Ganagula, Tehsil Koyyuru, District Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh by M/s New and Renewable Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh Ltd. (NREDCAP) – Terms of Reference http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/1712202145950328DraftAgendaRiverValley21stEAC-23-12-2021.pdf 

Minutes of the FAC meeting held on Nov 26, 2021, relevant decision: Diversion of 397.8863 ha forest land in favour of SJVN Ltd for Sunni Dam Hydroelectric Project (382 MW) in Shimla, Kotgarh and Karsog Forest Divisions, in District Shimla and Mandi, Himachal Pradesh: APPROVED http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/121114125412151approvedMoMof11FAC.pdf

DAMS

Dam safety bill: Devil lies in details Himanshu Thakkar, co-ordinator at SANDRP, believes that the guarantee of states’ autonomy could have been made explicit in the legislation. “While it is necessary to have a national-level body to deal with issues of dam safety, the Bill could have been more carefully drafted to ensure states’ autonomy will be maintained, except in cases of inter-state dams,” he explained over a telephonic interview with The Bastion. These finer points are currently missing from the Bill.

But, the new legislation misses out on a crucial aspect. “The Bill does not talk about compensation for the people who might get impacted by dam-related accidents,” Thakkar says. The only mention of compensation is under the functions of the National Committee on Dam Safety who aim to “explore compensations, by means of insurance coverage for the people affected by dam failures.”

The absence of legal provisions for compensation leaves impacted people with the only option of approaching courts, which does not always lead to desired results. In a 1997 dam disaster in Gujarat’s Aravalli district, water released by dam operators of Mazum Dam damaged berry trees spread over 8 bighas of land, destroying the livelihood of the families that owned them. The families took the matter to the Court in 1998, seeking a compensation of around ₹21 lakh. The final judgement came 23 years later, where the Supreme Court awarded a much lesser compensation of ₹5 lakh to the petitioners. “The mention of compensation should have been legally mandated in the Bill,” Thakkar argues.

“There is also a lack of independent voices of NGOs, and there is no representation of those people whose lives are unsafe because of such dams. Dam safety is not just about technicalities alone, it is also about the public’s interest,” Thakkar added. A look at the Bill confirms this. Both the state- and national-level committees and organisations are composed of a range of engineers, hydrological experts, and representatives from the CWC, and Central Electricity Authority amongst others. People living in proximity to dams are yet to make the cut. https://thebastion.co.in/politics-and/in-the-dam-safety-bill-2019-the-devil-lies-in-the-details/  (14 Dec. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Centre okays Renukaji dam project Renuka project does not have all the statutory clearances and still the Cabinet has cleared it! Such clear disrespect for the statutory processes. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/cm-centre-has-okayed-renukaji-dam-project-350894  (16 Dec. 2021) 

Controversial destructive projects are being pushed again. https://www.amarujala.com/shimla/sirmour-himachal-news-pm-narendra-modi-may-lay-foundation-stone-of-renuka-dam-project-on-27-december-2021  (10 Dec. 2021)

Renuka Dam Sangharsh Samiti members take out a protest march at Dadahu in Sirmaur district on Dec. 18. Tribune photo

The 1,142 affected families protested under the banner of the Sangharsh Samiti headed by its president Yogendra Kapila. He said, “It is lamentable that successive state governments and the dam authorities have not accepted their demands being raised since 2007 while they have been running from pillar to post”. Around 300 persons also took out a protest rally at Dadahu town demanding an immediate solution to their long-pending demands, including issuance of cards to those displaced, and rehabilitation and jobs. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/renuka-dam-oustees-seek-relief-351946  (19 Dec. 2021)

Jai Ram Thakur said that the construction of the project was expected to start by December, 2022 and would be completed in six years. He said that CAT plan works with total outlay of Rs 160.34 crore would be done to improve the health of catchment. After commissioning, one percent of annual revenue would be distributed in affected areas every year.

But the environmentalists have raised serious concerns over the ecological impact and serious blow to the Himalayan biodiversity as the district of Sirmaur is an ecologically fragile region bordering Uttarakhand and Haryana. The center is reported to have already released Rs.457.57 crore for the project as enhanced compensation for land acquisition. The project had faced opposition from the families who will be displaced due to submergence and other infrastructure building activities,apart from environmental activists . https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-himachal-gets-approval-of-renuka-dam-ahead-of-pm-modis-visit/405251  (15 Dec. 2021)

The report is full of misinformation and misleading claims:- The Union government last week decided to execute it under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) during 2021-26 by outlining a budget of 90 per cent out of the estimated cost over Rs 6946.99 crore whopping cost escalation of over Rs 5,500 crore. The cost of the project was estimated as Rs 1,224.64 crore at the May 1997 price level, which was revised to Rs 3,498.86 crore (price level March 2009).

The DPR for Rs 4,596.76 crore was accepted in 2015, but as there was no agreement among the beneficiary states the project could not be taken forward. Later, the revised cost estimate of Rs 6,946.99 crore (price level of October 2018) was accepted by the central government on December 9, 2019.

The Renukaji Dam Multipurpose Project envisages construction of a 148-metre high rockfill dam across the Giri river in the upper Yamuna basin with live storage of 498 million cubic metres (MCM). CM Thakur said with the construction of the dam the flow of Giri river would increase about 110 per cent which will meet the drinking water needs of Delhi and other basin states up to some extent in the lean period.

It will ensure supply of 23 cumecs of water to the National Capital Territory of Delhi and generate 40 MW of electricity for Himachal Pradesh. As per official estimates, the share of water component cost of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi is 47.82, 33.65, 3.15, 9.34 and 6.04 per cent, respectively.

The project will submerge 1,508 hectares land comprising 909 hectares of forest area. Officials say the project involves 49 hectares of the Renukaji wildlife sanctuary. A total of 141,944 trees are coming into the submergence area, which if not removed, will decay and generate greenhouse gases, including methane. Project-affected villagers united under the banner of the Renuka Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti claim that more than 700 families from 37 villages will be affected. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/dam-to-generate-power-for-himachal-may-see-light-of-the-day-now/88368070  (19 Dec. 2021)

Polavaram Dam Several disqualified from rehabilitation process on absurd grounds (Final part of 5-part series by the same reporter): Those displaced by the Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh have found themselves in the middle of yet another quandary: Scores of them are ineligible for rehabilitation by the state government. The Polavaram irrigation project, set to be operationalised by April 2022, will displace the highest number of people in India’s history of such projects: 106,006 families across 222 villages (total 373 habitations) in Andhra Pradesh, upon completion. Many who haven’t been given a house or compensation yet have been living in the hope of a promised rehabilitation. But those who have been disqualified from the rehabilitation process on absurd grounds after being displaced find themselves at the bottom rung of the ladder. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/polavaram-displaced-and-nowhere-to-go-ineligible-for-rehabilitation-many-in-a-fix-80700  (15 Dec. 2021)

Sardar Sarovar Dam Narmada Canal leakage leads to destruction of crops in Banaskantha in Gujarat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asDrMuvMwi0  (16 Dec. 2021)

More details about the Narmada Canal breaches in Banaskantha district in Bhabhar near Runi in Gujarat. https://www.gujaratsamachar.com/news/banaskantha/a-gap-of-10-feet-in-narmada-canal-near-bhabhar  (20 Dec. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Activists question poor construction of Anakkatii dam The check dam which was constructed using the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) under the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) funding of around Rs 8 lakhs, psed during the recent incessant rains.

K. Kalidas, founder of Osai, said: “The work was carried out in a hurry and the money spent was not utilised properly as there was no chance for such a check dam to collapse in rains if the total money allotted was properly used. The contractor seems to have used poor quality materials leading to the collapse of the dam within months of its construction, and this has to be probed properly.”

The environmentalist said that the construction of check dams that stop the perennial streams free flow and the dam should be constructed so that movement of micro and aquatic organisms should not be curtailed. Environmentalist K. Mohanraj also said that the construction of check dams is against scientific wildlife management. He also said that a total audit has to be conducted on the check dams constructed in Tamil Nadu over the years.

Mohanraj told IANS: “95% of the check dams constructed in Tamil Nadu under various schemes are a major failure. Government officials are still insisting on constructing such check dams, which are not useful and draining of taxpayer’s money. We should revive streams, and revival of streams is a revival of biodiversity.” https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2021-12-15-environment-activists-question-poor-construction-of-anakkatii-dam  (15 Dec. 2021)

Mullaperiyar Dam SC asks Kerala, Tamil Nadu to behave like ‘normal litigants’ Pointing out that matters related to day-to-day management of the dam should not be brought before the Supreme Court, the bench said the neighbouring governments should resolve the issues by consensus before the committee. “The committee is the best judge … it will take into account the request for release of water and also on whether there is a need for that.” The Mullaperiyar dam case is slated for hearing on January 11, 2022. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/top-court-asks-kerala-tn-to-behave-like-normal-litigants/articleshow/88308080.cms  (16 Dec. 2021)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Linking Cabinet approval illegal Himanshu Thakkar, a coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People, said, “The cabinet approval is illegal as the Supreme Court is yet to give its order based on the report of Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on this matter. Similarly, the petition concerning environment clearance is also pending before the NGT.” https://www.newsclick.in/cabinet-approval-ken-betwa-interlinking-project-creates-furore-conservationists  (16 Dec. 2021)

EDIT in Deccan Herald on Ken Betwa Decision of the Modi Govt. There are a number of inaccuracies here (e.g. It says 4000 Acres of tiger reserve will be lost when even submergence is of over 22000 acres, the areas to be cut off will be even bigger). Good to see it highlights political decision and calls it a LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/for-poll-gains-a-leap-into-the-unknown-1060845.html  (14 Dec. 2021)

Very interesting, Deshdeep Saxena highlights the sighting recently of rare species like the Indian Desert Cat and Fishing cat in Panna Tiger Reserve that is itself under threat from the proposed controversial Ken Betwa River Link Project. https://www.thewildlifeindia.com/2021/12/Elusive-Cats-of%20Panna-As-Threatened-As-The-Park.html  (18 Dec. 2021)

The project has two phases, with mainly four components. Phase-I will involve one of the components — Daudhan Dam complex and its subsidiary units such as Low Level Tunnel, High Level Tunnel, Ken-Betwa Link Canal and power houses. Phase-II will involve three components — Lower Orr Dam, Bina Complex Project and Kotha Barrage.

As per an official statement issued after the Cabinet approval on Wednesday, the total cost of Ken-Betwa link project has been assessed at Rs.44,605 crore at 2020-21 price levels. The Union Cabinet has approved central support of Rs.39,317 crore for the project, covering grant of Rs.36,290 crore and loan of Rs.3,027 crore, the statement said. The statement further said that the project is proposed to be implemented in 8 years with “state of the art technology.

According to the statement, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA) will be set up to implement the project. In fact, the Centre has set in motion the process of creation of National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA), an independent autonomous body for planning, investigation, financing and implementation of the interlinking of river (ILR) projects in the country. The NIRA will have powers to set up SPV for individual link projects. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/ken-betwa-river-linking-project-explained-7664323/   (12 Dec. 2021)

Announcing the cabinet decision, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said the river linking project has been deemed a “national project”. This means the Centre will foot 90 per cent of the cost while the remaining 10 per cent will be shared by the two states. https://theprint.in/india/ken-betwa-river-linking-project-is-1st-in-india-to-get-cabinet-nod-move-comes-ahead-of-up-polls/778687/  (08 Dec. 2021)

Opinion Inter linking rivers to achieve atmanirbharta? ByJyotiraditya Scindia The broad stroke statements that completely lack in details or ground realities of water sector in India. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/interlinking-rivers-to-achieve-atmanirbharta-101639579775623-amp.html  (15 Dec. 2021)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Krishna water dispute Telangana: Consider 2 components of KLIS as one The Telangana government on Sunday wrote a letter to Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) requesting it to consider the two components in Kalwakurty Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) as one. In the letter to the Board Chairman, Telangana Irrigation and Command Area Development (CAD) Engineer-in-Chief (General) Muralidhar said that the mentioning of the second component of the scheme by stating that it has been increased to 40 TMC from 25 TMC was wrong. The Engineer-in-Chief said that the allocations were not increased to Kalwakurthy Ayacut although it had been increased from 2.5 lakh acres to 3.64 lakh acres. He made it clear that the State government had increased the allocations as per the increased ayacut. https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/telangana-consider-2-components-of-klis-as-one-720617  (20 Dec. 2021)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

The Draft National Regional Plan 2041 for NCR is open for public comments till 7th January 2022. Among other things, the draft proposes speedy implementation of Yamuna Waterway which according to IWAI’s studies has been found unviable. The draft also proposes (at-least) three Water Aerodromes (for Seaplanes) at Alwar, Faridabad and Delhi by 2030. http://ncrpb.nic.in/pdf_files/NoticeDRP.pdf

IRRIGATION

Cabinet nod to extend PMKSY for another 5 yrs PMKSY has failed to complete the targeted projects, so the deadline has been extended. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-nod-to-extend-pmksy-for-another-five-years/article37963526.ece  (15 Dec. 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Sabarmati; Ahmedabad Sewage used to dilute industrial waste: Task force A joint task force (JTF) constituted by the high court visited three major CETPs and was surprised to find the supply of raw sewage of the AMC for “dilution” purposes, which is against the Consolidated Consent and Authorisation (CCA) issued by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB).

The JTF in its October report pointed out that drawing sewage from outside industrial estates should be immediately stopped as industrial discharge and domestic sewage have different sets of parameters and one should not be used to dilute the other. “The AMC is yet to disconnect these sewage supplies to CETPs,” said a senior GPCB official.

The JTF in its report mentioned that it visited a CETP in Odhav and found that it was drawing 0.5 MLD of AMC sewage everyday for dilution. Similarly, a CETP in Naroda used a 3 MLD mixed wastewaster stream consisting of sewage, food and textile waste, while another CETP was receiving 2 MLD of treated sewage from AMC’s Vinzol STP everyday for dilution purposes. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/amc-sewage-used-to-dilute-industrial-waste-task-force/articleshow/88245380.cms  (13 Dec. 2021)

Cooum; Chennai 3 more check dams proposed Water Resources Department has drawn up plans to build more check dams in three more locations at Perambakkam, Adigathur and Sorancheri and restore dilapidated structure in Aranvoyal. The project for 85-metre check dam at Perambakkam and the 100-metre structure at Sorancheri have been submitted to the State government. The cost for the two storage structures was estimated to be ₹12.6 crore.

The proposal to construct check dam at Adigathur across the 200-metre wide river and store 15 mcft of water is under study. The British-era Korattur anicut, which was recently reconstructed, overflowed last month and discharged about 500 cusecs of water on Friday (Dec. 16). A minimum of 130 mcft of water will be stored in the existing five check dams across the unpolluted portion of the river. The flow in the river till the Napier bridge had helped flush the stagnant sewage in the urban stretch. Steps were taken to tap the potential of the river in feeding more tanks, said the officials. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/three-more-check-dams-proposed-across-cooum/article37981794.ece  (18 Dec. 2021)

RIVERS

Karnataka 1,746 MLD sewage dumped into rivers This is when all the 140 STPs work at full capacity, when they don’t, a lot more untreated sewage is dumped into the rivers. Data for urban areas from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shows that Karnataka, on average, generates 4,458 MLD sewage and has an installed treatment capacity for 2,712 million litres, leaving around 40% of the waste generated to flow into rivers untreated.

This means that at least 6.3-lakh million litres of untreated sewage flows into rivers annually. This is affecting water bodies across the state leaving tens of habitations struggling with highly polluted water. Nationally, 72,368 million litres per day is generated against which a treatment capacity of 31,841 million litre is available. In line with observation, the data shows that not even one state/UT in the country has a treatment capacity that matches the generation, while seven of them — Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland — have zero installed capacity. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/ktaka-dumps-1746m-litres-sewage-into-rivers-each-day/articleshow/88287378.cms  (15 Dec. 2021)

CAUVERY Karnataka MP demands upgradation of Hassan-Makutta road to NH  Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha met Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Dec. 15 and appealed to him to upgrade the State Highway connecting Channarayapatna in Hassan district and Makutta on the Karnataka-Kerala border to a National Highway (NH).

The road passes through Channarayapatna, Holenarasipura, Arkalgud, Shanivarsanthe, Kodlipet, Somwarpet, Madikeri and Virajpet to reach Makutta via the Perumbadi check post to reach Kannur in Kerala. The NH will extend up to 183 kilometres and Rs. 1,600 crore funding is necessary to upgrade the existing road. https://starofmysore.com/upgrade-hassan-makutta-road-to-national-highway/  (16 Dec. 2021)

Kerala Bharathappuzha drying up as check dams remain open As rains receded, the water flow in the Bharathappuzha river also decreased and the water level is diminishing. The river is drying up fast in the scorching heat. Many of the check dams in the river are still open and even the remaining water is flowing out. When the check dams are not closed at the right time, the water level would decrease and affect the pumping of drinking water in the nearby areas. If Cheruthuruthi check dam, Deshamangalam Changanamkunnu check dam in the Bharathappuzha river are closed, more water can be stored in the river. The check dams were opened in view of flood havoc. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/offbeat/bharathappuzha-river-drying-up-as-check-dams-remain-open-palakkad-1.6269119   (14 Dec. 2021)

Odisha 9 day ‘Mahanadi Utsav’ kicks off in Sambalpur While such Nadi Utsavs are good, people should also use it to make the authorities responsive on the Govt policies, programs and institutes that are responsible for the state of the river now. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/dec/16/nine-day-mahanadi-utsav-kicks-off-in-sambalpur-2396166.html  (16 Dec. 2021)

Goa’s lifeline, the Mandovi river, hosts half a dozen floating casinos and swallows untreated sewage on a daily basis.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/goa-needs-to-wake-up/articleshow/88366806.cms  (19 Dec. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh PM laid foundation stone of Ganga Expressway PM Modi laid foundation stone of the 594-km long Ganga Expressway in Shahjahanpur on Saturday (Dec. 18). The 6-lane expressway, built at a cost of Rs 36,230 crore, is being tipped as the longest expressway in Uttar Pradesh.

ToI 18 Sept 2019 info graph. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/ganga-e-way-alignment-plans-ready-for-cm-nod-before-consultant-invite/articleshow/71175909.cms

The expressway will pass through twelve districts including Hapur, Bulandshahr, Amroha, Sambhal, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, Hardoi, Unnao, Rae Bareli and Pratapgarh.  Seven railway overbridges, 14 major bridges, 126 minor bridges, 375 underpasses, nine public convenience complexes, two toll plazas and 15 ramp toll plazas will be constructed in Ganga Expressway. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/pm-modi-lay-foundation-stone-ganga-expressway-shahjahanpur-uttar-pradesh-1889211-2021-12-18  (18 Dec. 2021) A government spokesperson said that the state government had approved the Ganga Expressway project on November 26 last year https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/ganga-expressway-all-you-need-to-know/articleshow/88351893.cms  (18 Dec. 2021)

Kashi Vishwanath Dam launch Within days of the grand opening of Kashi Vishwanath Dam by PM Modi on Monday (Dec. 13), the agency involved for executing this mega project has re-intensified the work proposed in the phase-II. TOI took stock of the KVD on Wednesday (Dec. 15) and found that the labourers were in action mode once again, especially at Manikarnika, Jalasen and Lalita ghats, where the entry route of KVD from river bank is being constructed. Now, the construction material, especially stone plates could be seen being brought through the river route instead of the Godowlia-Maidagin route, which was used for transportation of construction materials for the initial phase.

Raj Bhagat P #Mapper4Life @rajbhagatt Snapshots of satellite images showing sewage mixing (mostly untreated) in #Ganga river, Varanasi

“Apart from ghat steps, Ganga Gallery with cafeteria with a gate at Jalasen Ghat, a building with viewing gallery where physically challenges pilgrims will reach through ramp, a boundary wall and block of four buildings have to be constructed as remaining work of phase-II, for which the state government has already sanctioned Rs 55-crore and a revised estimate has been sent for increasing it to Rs 65-crore,” said Gore.

These officials and the construction company are facing challenges in executing the work at the river bank as the level of the Ganga is still high. Gore said, “As level of water in the Ganga is maintained above normal level in November and December, half of the 55-meter-long jetty is still inundated. So, we have started work at higher points.” For the second phase of the Rs 900-Cr KVD project, construction material has started reaching the project site through the river route. The second phase, which is targeted to be completed by February end, will open the Ganga route for entering KVD. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/after-opening-of-kvd-phase-ii-of-project-launched-with-full-vigour/articleshow/88306407.cms  (16 Dec. 2021)

Suhas Palshikar writes: The master-narrative unfolding through events like the inauguration of the Kashi-Vishwanath corridor popularises a new social contract for a Hindu state. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/kashi-vishwanath-corridor-inauguration-hindu-state-7676653/  (17 Dec. 2021)

CSIR-NGRI study unravels 45-km long buried river in Ganga-Yamuna region A high resolution airborne electromagnetic study in the Ganga-Yamuna region, supplemented with drilling and logging data to address the groundwater crisis, by scientists of the CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), has unravelled an exhaustive aquifer information with discovery of a 45-km long buried river equal to these two rivers.

Image source: The Hindu

– The river falls within a region where a lost mythological river ‘Saraswati’ was believed to be flowing in the past, says the CSIR-NGRI study titled “Airborne Electromagnetic Signatures of an Ancient River in the Water – Stressed Ganga Plain, Prayagraj, India: A Potential Groundwater Repository”. The findings were published in the latest ‘American Geophysical Union – Advancing Earth & Space Science’. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/csir-ngri-study-unravels-45-km-long-buried-river-in-ganga-yamuna-region/article37966598.ece  (16 Dec. 2021)

Bihar Why does Koshi change course so often? byRaj Bhagat Palanichamy After flowing in higher gradients cutting through the Himalaya, the Koshi river exits and meets a flatter plains section with a very low gradient. This leads to millions of tonnes of silt being deposited in this section every year. The deposition has led to the formation of an alluvial megafan that is the largest of its kind in the world. The exaggerated relief below shows this fan. When the river deposits silt in its course, the height of the river bed increases with respect to its neighbouring land, and cause the river to change to a new course.

Image: Raj Bhagat Palanichamy

Currently, we have walled the entire river. This has heightened the risk related to embankment failures, which magnifies the effects of floods and also water stagnation in places where water is unable to drain into the river, leading to chaos every year. Damming and embankments don’t help. All the river wants to do is to deposit sediment in one place and run in a new course. It is up to us to decide how to facilitate this without affecting the livelihoods of people living nearby. After all, this fertile soil deposited by the river that gave birth to civilisation. https://science.thewire.in/environment/koshi-river-avulsion-sedimentation-embankments-bihar-floods/  (01 July 2020)

Why Ganga river is eroding banks in Nov-Dec months. First in Dhobi, Kumhar, Malahi Tolas of Rajmahal area in Sahibganj district of Jharkhand where a STP structure has been affected. https://zeenews.india.com/hindi/india/bihar-jharkhand/jharkhand/after-rural-areas-in-sahibganj-erosion-started-in-urban-areas-too-people-in-panic/1038158 Second in  Jhabbu Tola village under Amdabad block of Katihar district in Bihar where 2 rooms of a school has been engulfed. https://ndtv.in/india-news/bihar-school-demolished-in-ganga-in-katihar-watch-video-2646289

YAMUNA Delhi DPCC to study microplastics pollution in river   In a first-of-its-kind survey by a government body in the national capital, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will conduct a study to ascertain the concentration, distribution and composition of microplastics in River Yamuna, besides soil, vegetables and other edible products. The pollution control body will also examine if the soil in the floodplains of River Yamuna is fit for agriculture, according to officials.

The Yamuna floodplains, stretching 48 kilometres from Palla to Okhla, will be divided into three stretches of 16 km each for the study: Delhi Segment I (Palla to Wazirabad), Delhi Segment II (Wazirabad to Nizamuddin Bridge) and Delhi Segment III (Nizamuddin Bridge to Okhla), according to the terms of reference prepared by the DPCC. A DPCC official said the idea to study the presence of microplastics in River Yamuna and the national capital originated after an MP asked a question in Parliament about microplastics in River Ganga.

“It is sad that we have not conducted any such study in the national capital,” the official said, citing a report by environment research and advocacy organisation, Toxics Link. The Toxics Link study on River Ganga threw up alarming results as “microplastics were found in all the samples”.  “Locations with higher population density and greater industrialisation (textile, tannery, etc.) had a higher microplastics concentration in the river,” the report says. “Compared to the concentration of microplastics in rivers such as the Rhine in Europe, the Patapsco, Magothy, Rhode in North America, the Elqui, Maipo, Biobio, and Maule in South America, the pollution is much higher in the Ganga,” according to a report by Dr Mahua Saha, a senior scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, and his team.

As part of another study, the DPCC will examine the soil of the Yamuna for various contaminants and its fitness for agriculture and remediation possibilities. The river water and the adjacent soil are contaminated with various pollutants, including heavy metals. In this study, the effects of seasonal variations and heavy metal contamination in Yamuna water on physicochemical  properties and enzyme activities of soil will be observed,” the terms of reference read. Sampling will be collected from 10 points along the river course in summer, monsoon and winter. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/in-a-first-dpcc-to-study-microplastics-pollution-in-river-yamuna-101639945758093.html  20 Dec. 2021)

Water from Badshahpur drain to be treated by govt Delhi government plans on treating around 95 MGD of water in the Badshahpur drain that comes from Haryana and falls into Najafgarh drain, which further meets the Yamuna river, according to Water Minister Satyendar Jain. A senior official at the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) said that water in the Badshahpur drain will be treated using ‘in-situ technology.’ Floating wetlands and aerators are likely to be deployed in the flowing water to treat it, he said. Water from another drain that comes from Haryana, drain number 6, is being treated at the STP at Narela, according to a communication from the DJB.

The DJB had announced in September that Reverse Osmosis (RO) water purification plants would be set up in areas that depend on water tankers and where ground water level is high but not usable due to salinity or suspended solids. Okhla, Dwarka, Nilothi-Nangloi, Chilla, Rohini and Najafgarh are the areas that have been identified so far to set up these plants, according to the DJB. A total of 90 MGD of water is likely to be produced using these plants, which are likely to be completed in a year. The plant at Najafgarh is likely to process around 10 MGD. These RO plants are being set up by private companies and the DJB will purchase water from them. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/water-from-haryanas-badshahpur-drain-to-be-treated-by-delhi-7673725/  (15 Dec. 2021)

Mathura NGT seeks report on Yamuna Mission ‘encroaching’ floodplains NGT has directed a joint committee of the CPCB, SPCB, Mathura district magistrate and executive engineer, upper division, Agra canal, to file within two months, a factual and action taken report in connection with the alleged encroachment of Yamuna floodplain by Yamuna Mission in Mathura.

In his plea, applicant Behari Lal Chaturvedi claimed that the mission was encroaching on Yamuna floodplains in the name of preserving and clearing the river and undertaking a plantation drive. He filed photographs showing construction on the ghats and copies of the various complaints made to the authorities. The tribunal has listed the matter for further consideration on February 28, 2022. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/ngt-seeks-report-from-govt-on-yamuna-mission-encroaching-on-floodplains-in-mathura/articleshow/88347533.cms  (18 Dec. 2021)

Agra Greens mark ‘Jhunjhuna Day’ On Thursday (Dec. 16), environmental activists marked ‘Jhunjhuna Day’ (Rattle Day) in Agra to draw attention to the polluted state of the Yamuna river. They gathered at the aarti (prayer) site on the banks of the river and shook their rattles for five minutes to express their dissatisfaction.

Activists marked ‘Jhunjhuna Day’ in Agra to draw attention to the polluted state of the Yamuna river. India Today

Journalist Brij Khandelwal said the MLAs, MPs and mayor had not done anything to improve the condition of the Yamuna river, which is the lifeline of Agra city. Environmental activist Devashish Bhattacharya said, “The Yamuna was dirty in the past, it is dirty today and will remain like this in the future by the grace of Agra’s public representatives.” https://www.indiatoday.in/cities/agra/story/environment-activists-jhunjhuna-day-yamuna-river-pollution-1888753-2021-12-17  (17 Dec. 2021) पर्यावरणविद डॉ. देवाशीष भटटाचार्य ने बताया कि, पहले ही आगरा में कालिंदी दम तोड़ रही है. और ऐसे में अब उत्तराखंड पर एक और नया बैराज बनाए जाने से आगरा की जनता को कहां पानी मिलेगा. यहां लगातार बैराज बनाने की मांग की गाड़ी है. लेकिन, अभी तक धरातल पर कुछ नहीं है. आगरा के अधिवक्ता और जनता हाईकोर्ट खंडपीठ को लेकर के भी मांग कर रही है. उस पर भी कोई सुनवाई नहीं हो रही है. https://naukari360.com/why-environmentalists-and-yamuna-devotees-are-playing-in-agra-see-the-strange-protests/  (16 Dec. 2021)

Bundelkhand नदी से बुझती नहीं प्यास, लेकिन करती हैंरोटियोंकी तलाश पहूज नदी के पानी में डूबे सतही किनारों की माटी छानती विधवा महिला जमुना कहती है, क्या करें..? आसानी से मजदूरी नहीं मिलती है. इधर उस जैसे गरीबों की ओर कोई भी ध्यान नहीं देता. जिस कारण उसे जो समझ में आता है वह करती है. अपनी बेटी के साथ यहां आती हूं. पानी में सिक्कों को थथोलती हूं. कबाड़ भी बटोर लेती हूं. पूरे दिन की जद्दोजहद के बाद लगभग 50-60 रुपए जुटाना मुश्किल होता है. परिवार ऐसे ही पल रहा है.

बुंदेलखंड की लगभग सभी नदियों में यही नजारा दिख जाता है. वह नदियां जो आबादी से जुड़ी हैं या फिर वहां से आवागमन होता रहा है तो वहां लोग नदी के प्रति अपनी आस्था में चढ़ावा चढ़ाते रहते हैं. झांसी में बेतवा, पहूज, केन और मंदिकिनी जैसी नदियों से लोगों की गहरी आस्था है. यहां पूजा समग्री विसर्जन और चढ़ावा चढ़ाने का चलन है. यही कुछ गरीब परिवारों के लिए रोटी की उम्मीद भी है.

पहूज नदी के मिटते अस्तित्व को बचाने साल 2014 में झांसी की सांसद और केंद्रीय मंत्री उमा भारती ने इसे गोद ले लिया था. इसके प्रति बुंदेलखंड के लोगों की धार्मिक आस्था है. बावजूद इसके शहर भर का गन्दा पानी इसी नदी में प्रवाहित किया जाता है. इसके संरक्षण को लेकर प्रशासन बेफिक्र है, जिसके चलते झांसी में पहूज नदी के किनारे अवैध रूप से कॉलोनियां बन रही हैं. नदी के डूब क्षेत्र में भी लोग अतिक्रमण कर आवास निर्माण करा रहे हैं, जिन्हें रोक पाने में सिंचाई विभाग, नगर निगम, जिला प्रशासन और झांसी विकास प्राधिकरण पूरी तरह नाकाम साबित हो रहा है. https://hindi.news18.com/news/uttar-pradesh/jhansi-picture-of-hunger-poverty-in-bundelkhand-women-searching-coins-in-pahuj-river-nodelsp-3895572.html  (12 Dec. 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Punjab Wildlife officials expect the endangered reptiles to begin breeding in the riverine system of Punjab in a few years https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/reintroduced-gharials-thriving-in-beas-reserve-experts/article37986822.ece  (18 Dec. 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Maharashtra BMC’s set to unveil CRP The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is set to unveil its ambitious Mumbai Coastal Road project. The Rs 12,750 crore Mumbai Coastal Road Project’s construction commenced in the metropolis in October 2018. The ambitions project, however, faced stiff opposition from local residents, environmentalists and the fishermen community of Koliwada. Activists raised concerns over the environmental consequences of the project, while the fishermen feared that the project would ravage their livelihoods. Local residents, meanwhile, were concerned about the sea view.

In April 2019, the Bombay High Court stayed the construction work after it received a number of petitions against the project. The BMC then knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court. In May 2019, the apex court gave a green flag to the construction work. https://www.timesnownews.com/mumbai/article/sneak-peak-into-bmcs-dream-coastal-road-project-which-costs-around-rs-12750-crore/841341  (17 Dec. 2021)

SAND MINING

Tamil Nadu M-Sand manufacturers challenge rules on mineral transportation The Madras High Court on Tuesday (Dec. 14) directed the State Government to file its counter affidavit to a writ petition filed by the Tamil Nadu M-Sand Manufacturers’ Welfare Association to declare the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals and Mineral Dealers Rules of 2011 illegal and unconstitutional. Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu directed State Government Pleader P. Muthukumar to ensure that the counter affidavit is filed in two weeks.

The orders were passed after the court heard elaborate arguments made by advocate Naveen Kumar Murthy, representing the petitioner association. He said the 2011 rules were ex facie illegal, since they brought within their ambit subject matters that did not fall under the definition of ‘minerals’, as found in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act of 1957. According to him, products such as blue metal or M-sand could not be termed ‘minerals’. Counsel also told the court that members of the petitioner association and other stone crusher unit operators in the State were being harassed by government officials citing the 2011 rules by demanding permits for the transportation and storage of M-sand, widely used for the construction of buildings. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/m-sand-manufacturers-challenge-rules-on-mineral-transportation/article37956643.ece  (15 Dec. 2021)

Kerala NGT begins action against quarries violating norms  In a recent order issued based on the report of the joint committee appointed by it, NGT has asked the state environmental impact assessment authority (SEIAA) to submit an action taken report against the violating company RDS Project (Pvt) Ltd in Kuttur village of Payyannur taluk. The committee submitted that compensation for environmental damage is Rs 1.58 crore and Rs 15 lakh as penalty for mining 21,170 metric tonnes more than permitted quantity.

The company had permission to extract granite building stone from an area of 0.9933 hectare from 2018 to 2021. While it had the necessary permissions, the petition filed in the court alleged that the company had violated environmental clearance conditions by conducting excess mining, causing loss to the exchequer and damage to the environment. The case will be heard on January 5, 2022.

In yet another case, the expert committee appointed by the green court has found that Naveen Mathew Philip, who has a quarry site at Anicaudu village in Mallappally taluk of Pathanamthitta, has violated the rules. They submitted that the penalty for illegal extraction is Rs 13.42 crore and the total interim environmental damage assessed for illegal mining activity is a whopping Rs 158.99 crore (Rs 158,99,95,103) for damages caused to more than 500 acres in eight years. Most of the cases are likely to come up early next year for final judgment as notices have been issued for action-taken reports.

The green tribunal is also hearing a case against Convenant Stone Pvt Ltd in Manikkal and Thekkada villages of Nedumangad taluk of Thiruvananthapuram district. The joint committee has sought environmental compensation of Rs 38.74 crore while the penalty collected is Rs 6.71 crore. A senior advocate appearing for the government before the NGT said that the green tribunal’s strong stand has led to many quarry owners looking at the environmental laws. “Earlier, they would just look at the mining laws and they weren’t bothered about environmental damages,” the advocate said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/ngt-begins-action-against-quarries-violating-norms/articleshow/88263926.cms  (14 Dec. 2021)

NGT has constituted a 7-member joint committee to study the impact of blasting in various stone quarry sites in Kerala with nonel detonation technology at distances of 50m, 75m, 100m, 125m, 150m, 200m and 250m. The study will include the impact caused by vibrations on different soil strata or earth profile in the area, and noise and air levels, building human and wildlife. The study may be completed within three months and report furnished within four months, NGT said in an order dated December 9. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/ngt-panel-to-study-impact-of-blasting-in-stone-quarries/articleshow/88230914.cms  (12 Dec. 2021)

Goa Serve notice to SEIAA for sand mining nod: NGT The NGT has ordered that notices be served to the SEIAA after a voluntary organisation challenged the permission granted by the authority permitting sand extraction in River Chapora. The Goa-SIEAA has been given time till February 9, 2022 to respond. “The impugned order (by Goa-SEIAA) did refer to the order of the Supreme Court of India in Deepak Kumar’s case as well as the orders passed by this tribunal and also the EIA Notification, 2006 (as amended till date) and, however, did not state anything as to the compliance of the said judgment and EIA notification appearance. In the light of the same, the tribunal is inclined to entertain this appeal,” the tribunal said.

The Goa River Sand Protectors Network, functioning under the Goa Foundation, approached the tribunal against the Goa-SEIAA order stating that ‘there has been no due and proper application of mind before according environment clearance and hence prays for interference’. The Goa-SEIAA had approved sand mining in four stretches of River Chapora at its meeting held on October 5, 2021. The extraction in the four zones, where the activity has been approved, has to be carried out only the manual method, the Goa-SEIAA had said. To begin with, sand extraction in these four zones will be taken up only at 50% capacity for the first 3 years. The capacity, thereafter, will be decided after this three-year period ends, Goa-SEIAA had stated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/serve-notice-to-govt-authority-for-sand-mining-nod-says-ngt/articleshow/88286389.cms  (15 Dec. 2021)

Andhra Pradesh NGT suggests green compensation, penalty A joint committee appointed by the NGT southern bench has recommended Rs 2.45 crore compensation and Rs 7 lakh penalty on the sand reach contractor for damaging the environment at river Godavari mouth situated between Andhra and Puducherry. Sunkara Swamy Naidu Welfare Organization, represented by president Sunkara Karthik had filed an application at the NGT, Southern Zone, regarding the illegal mining of sand from Godavari estuary at Yanam on the AP and Puducherry border. The Godavari river enters the sea at Yanam. The river mouth area is known as Vurudha Gowthami Godavari, a highly sensitive, and ecologically fragile area. There is drifting of sand and it flows back and forth into the sea four times a day.

The petitioner alleged that indiscriminate, sand mining is being carried out at Yanam and in border areas of Andhra and Puducherry, without environment or other clearances from statutory authorities. Contractors are also involved in in-stream mining using huge machinery sand boats, and large number of trucks are being used for transport of such illegally mined sand, it was alleged. In 2020 January the committee submitted the report and indicated the areas where illegal sand mining was taking place. The NGT directed the committee to assess environmental compensation and to submit further report. The latest reports say that district survey report shall be prepared and the quantity of sand reserves shall be assessed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/sand-mining-ngt-suggests-green-compensation-penalty/articleshow/88348526.cms  (18 Dec. 2021)

India Cements moves HC to quash CBI case India Cements company, which is facing a chargesheet in the quid pro quo case, on Dec 16, 2021 urged the Telangana high court to quash the CBI case against it. Appearing for the company, senior counsel T Niranjan Reddy said the company was granted the lease of mines and water allocation for running its business and it was there even prior to YS Rajasekhara Reddy government in AP. The lease was renewed during the YSR government. “Since we were going for expansion of our cement factory, we had asked for additional water allocation. The same was granted to us from Kagna river, a tributary of the Krishna,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/india-cements-moves-hc-to-quash-cbi-case/articleshow/88306927.cms  (16 Dec. 2021)

Punjab Forest official says police not taking any action Illegal sand mining is continuing unabated in a piece of Punjab government land near Chandigarh even though the Forest Range Officer of the area has complained to civil and police authorities repeatedly to take action. Documents in possession of The Indian Express show that the Forest Range Officer of Dera Bassi has complained to the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Dera Bassi and the SHO of the area that illegal mining is taking place in forest land in Bir Peer Muchhalla and that the police is not taking cognisance of complaints made to them on the plea that the area does not fall under their purview. However, no action has been taken yet on his complaints.

The officer, Sukhminder Singh, has also written to the SHO of Dhakauli Police Station bringing the same facts to his notice and pointing out that illegal mining is taking place in forest land which has washed into Ghaggar river due to heavy rains of past few years. The official has informed the SDM and the SHO through letters dated December 6, 2021 and December 9, 2021 that there is danger to the life of the forest staff who have been verbally attacked by people involved in mining mafia. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/illegal-sand-mining-in-dera-bassi-forest-official-says-police-not-taking-any-action-7679777/  (19 Dec. 2021)

Villagers in Ropar district urge authorities to act against illegal mining The illegal mining action committee formed by the villagers of around 13 villages in Ropar district to curb the menace in their area has now decided to write and appeal to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Minorities, and higher officials in Punjab to get action done in the case of attack on mining officials.

Mining officer S S Kang was attacked and given life threats by illegal miners after he raided an illegal mining site near Gobindpur Bela village in Nurpur Bedi tehsil and confiscated three tippers, besides handing over three accused to the police. The accused were held by the villagers in Gobindpur Bela who had informed the mining officer. On his way back to police station, Kang was attacked by illegal miners. Later, one of them threatened the officer and his family over a phone call, but police failed to arrest the accused so far despite his locations were allegedly traced out. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/punjab-villagers-in-ropar-district-urge-authorities-to-act-against-illegal-mining/articleshow/88354726.cms  (18 Dec. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh अमलोर मौरम खंड 8 से पीड़ित किसान चुन्नू सिंह ने लिया रक्षामंत्री के बेटे का नाम  बाँदा क्षेत्र पैलानी में संचालित अमलोर मौरम खदान खंड 8 से दो दर्जन किसान प्रभावित है। किसानों की केन नदी तरी से लगी निजीभूमि में फसलें खड़ी है। इस जमीन में बालू है तो ठेकेदार इसको भी अवैध खनन से हासिल करना चाहते है। किसानों की बिना सहमति और खदान क़ा बगैर सीमांकन किये उनकी निजीभूमि से खनन या परिवहन निकासी पर डीएम अनुराग पटेल स्वयं रोक लगाएं है। सरकार भी यही चाहती है कि गांवदारी में खनन के विवाद न हो। बावजूद इसके यह होता है।

पैलानी एसडीएम नवनियुक्त है तो उन्हें तहसीलदार ही इस मामले में गाइडलाइंस बतलाते है। किसानों के हित को नैपथ्य (पर्दे के पीछे ) में रखकर तहसीलदार खदान संचालकों के साथ खड़े नजर आते है। गांव के किसान चुन्नू सिंह अमलोर खंड 8 में मोंटी अग्रवाल के बतलाये मुताबिक देश के रक्षामंत्री के बेटे व विधायक का लिंक इस खदान पर आशीर्वाद के रूप में है यह बतलाते दिखते है। उन्होंने बेबाक होकर इस बात को वीडियो बयान में रखा है। अब सच्चाई तो सरकार और ठेकेदार ही जानें लेकिन किसान पीड़ित है और वे मुख्यमंत्री से न्याय की उम्मीद रखतें है, उन्हें बाँदा प्रशासन पर भरोसा नहीं है। https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T-qCqY-lO8 

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Mumbai Panje wetland brims with life again In a successful conservation story, the Panje wetland in Uran in Raigad district across Mumbai harbour has come back to life with the resumption of free flow of tidal water. The water started attracting migratory birds after a gap of close to two years and the fishing community too started having a good catch. Studies by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have shown that over 50 species of birds numbering close to 2,00,000 land at the Panje wetland during the October-May season of avian flights via the Central Asian Flyway.

“This signals the tremendous potential the wetland has,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishthan. Crabs and fish are found in the saline water and most importantly, they breed in the adjoining mangroves, said Pawar, who hails from the fisherfolk community. He added, “The quality of fish caught here is so good that they fetch over Rs 400 a kg in the market, crabs sell at over Rs 1,800 a kg and lobsters Rs 700 a kg.”

It was at Pawar’s instance, the National Green Tribunal had ordered the clearing of the choke points at Panje, he said. Credit: NatConnect Foundation

“This wetland with its fantastic biodiversity can contribute to the socio-economic development of the fishing community-dominated four villages – Panje, Diongari, Funde and Bokadvira – surrounding the 289-hectare water body,” said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation. Any delay would only cause damage to the biodiversity property, Pawar said and pointed out that vested interests have managed to block tidal water entry and exit at Panje wetland to render it dry to suit plans to convert the place into a concrete jungle. It was at Pawar’s instance, the NGT had ordered the clearing of the choke points at Panje, he said.  https://www.deccanherald.com/national/west/mumbais-panje-wetland-brims-with-life-again-villagers-net-huge-fishes-crabs-1061452.html  (16 Dec. 2021)

Goa Pilerne’s Saulem lake is 7th notified wetland  Saulem lake at Pilerne in Bardez, with an area of 46,010 sqm, has been notified as Goa’s seventh wetland under the central government’s 2017 Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules. The lake has been declared a wetland for being critically significant for its ecosystem services and biodiversity values to the local communities.

Once an area is declared a wetland, any polluting or encroachment activities that are detrimental to this ecosystem are prohibited in the area, including setting up or expansion of any industry, disposal or handling of any construction waste, solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated wastes, among others. Encroachment or any construction of a permanent nature except for boat jetties will also be disallowed from notified wetland areas. However, any traditional fishing activities in the wetlands will be allowed to continue and water from the wetland will be pumped for the use of locals, if required. Planting of any indigenous trees will also be permitted, provided they are suitable to the ecosystem.

Thirty-five major water bodies have been identified in the state in all — with the help of the National Institute of Oceanography — which can qualify to be declared as wetlands. Apart from the seven waterbodies notified until now as wetlands, at least 13 others are in the final stages of being declared as wetlands. These include Bondvoll lake, Parra lake, Banastarim lake, Vodle tollem and Dhakte tollem in Benaulim, Sapu tollem in Velim and Maimollem lake in Mormugao, and Curca lake and Canturlim, Malebhat and Gawali-Moula waterbodies in Curca. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/pilernes-saulem-lake-is-states-7th-notified-wetland/articleshow/88286710.cms  (16 Dec. 2021)

West Bengal EM Bypass-New Town flyover plan spares core EKW Senior KMDA engineers involved with the project said 5km out of the proposed 7km-long flyover would stand on 36 piers instead of the earlier plan of 86 and precautions would be in place to ensure that the ecologically fragile wetlands are not affected. A team of officials from KMDA has met their counterparts in the East Kolkata Wetland Management Authority to discuss the new project report and the conditions laid down by the Union environment ministry.

A team of experts from the Wetland Management Authority of the state government will scan the report further before it is sent to the National Wetlands Committee for approval. Senior officials in the East Calcutta Wetland Management Authority, who have gone through the new project report, said there were provisions for creating compensatory water bodies for the land to be used to build the piers of the proposed flyover in the vicinity of the wetlands.

Bonani Kakkar, an environment activist who had gone to court against the previous alignment of the flyover, said: “Just for cutting down 10 minutes of journey to the airport we are trying to build a flyover over the wetlands. The project will specifically affect the migration of water fouls in the area along with hundreds of other birds. Even fishing activity will be hit and Calcutta will lose the only repository of storm water.” https://www.telegraphindia.com/my-kolkata/news/em-bypass-new-town-flyover-plan-spares-core-east-kolkata-wetlands-area/cid/1842826  (11 Dec. 2021)

Rajasthan 4,000MW solar plant at Sambhar may spell doom for prized wetland At a time when the state forest department is at an advanced stage of creating a development agency to protect and conserve the natural ecosystem of Sambhar Lake, a wetland of international importance, plans are afoot to set up 4000 MW Ultra Mega Solar Power station at this Ramsar site, the plant is likely to destroy the lake. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/rajasthan-4000mw-solar-plant-at-sambhar-may-spell-doom-for-prized-wetland/88222777  (11 Dec. 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

कुंडी भंडारा नेटवर्क को पुनर्जीवित करने के लिए शहर से सटे जंगल में भी इको रेस्टोरेशन का काम हुआ। सतपुड़ा पहाड़ी के इस जंगल से कुंडी भंडारा को पानी मिलता है। तस्वीर- लोकेंद्र ठक्कर, Monga Bay India

Madhya Pradesh कनात सिस्टम से बुझ रही बुरहानपुर की प्यास बुरहानपुर में मौजूद 400 साल पुराने अंडरग्राउंड वाटर सप्लाई सिस्टम को दोबारा चलन में लाने की कोशिश हो रही है। जल संकट से निपटने के लिए मुगलों ने इस संरचना का विकास किया था जिससे कुंडी भंडारा कहते हैं और शहर के एक बड़े इलाके में पानी की आपूर्ति होती रही है। ऐसे पारंपरिक जल आपूर्ति तंत्र मध्य प्रदेश सहित देश के कई पुराने शहरों के लिए जल संकट का एक समाधान हो सकता है। https://hindi.mongabay.com/2021/12/14/reviving-400-yo-mughal-era-water-structures-to-combat-climate-change-in-burhanpur-madhya-pradesh/  (14 Dec. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh सूखाग्रस्त गाँव बन गया देश का आदर्श मॉडल बुंदेलखंड  के बांदा जिले के रहने वाले उमा शंकर पांडे ने सूखे और बदहाल अपने गांव जखनी में पानी स्थिति सुधारने का काम 15 साल पहले शुरू किया था। ग्रामीणों को जलसंरक्षण के बारे में समझाकर उन्होंने बिना किसी सरकारी मदद के किसानों और श्रमिकों के साथ मिलकर ” मेड़बंदी” का काम शुरू कियाअपने पुरखों की जलसंरक्षण की तकनीक को अपनाकर उन्होंने अपने गांव को एक आदर्श गांव बना दिया है जखनी गांव को आदर्श माॅडल बनाकर  देश के 1034 गांवों को जलग्राम बनाने की घोषणा की गई है। वही  जलशक्ति मंत्रालय ने देशभर में 1050 जलग्राम बनाये इतना ही नहीं केंद्र सरकार की अटल भूजल परियोजना भी जखनी मॉडल पर ही तैयार की गयी है । उमाशंकर इस सफलता का श्रेय गांव वासियों और जलग्राम समिति को देते हैं। और उनके इस प्रयास क   भारत के विभिन्न राज्यों में किसान भी अपना रहे है। https://hindi.indiawaterportal.org/content/sukhagrast-gaon-ban-gaya-desh-ka-desh-ka-adarsh-model/content-type-page/1319336268  (02 Nov. 2021)

Karnataka Dried Up Lake In Yelwal Filled Up After 20 Years ! Thanks to the efforts of Sri Dharmasthala Gramabhivrudhi Yojane’s B.C.Trust, the dried up  Karakanahalli Chikkakere near Yelwal in the taluk, is now full to the brim with water. Noting that rejuvenation of a lake also meant recharge of wells, borewells etc., and sustenance of birds and animals in the surroundings, he said that this was the 369th water body to be developed by the Trust. Pointing out that 7 water bodies have been rejuvenated in Mysuru district at a total cost of Rs. 45 lakh, he highlighted the support of Karakanahalli villagers, who pooled in Rs. 2.5 lakh for rejuvenation of Chikkakere. https://starofmysore.com/dried-up-lake-in-yelwal-filled-up-after-20-years/  (18 Dec. 2021)

Uttarakhand Women revive traditional water sources Maya Verma, a resident of Chanoli village in  Almora district, is a water champion who has helped revive naulas and dharas, traditional Himalayan water sources, in 15 villages of Almora.

Since October 2017, because of the efforts of Verma and her fellow village women, the revived naulas now have water in them throughout the year. Earlier, they would go dry in the summers. While naulas are found in the mid-Himalayan elevations, dharas mostly occur in the upper Himalayas, just below the snow line. https://vikalpsangam.org/article/women-revive-traditional-water-sources-in-uttarakhand/  (11 Nov. 2020)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Industrial discharge, sewage pollute Hennagara lake While the lakes within the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits have been in the spotlight for encroachments and violations in the buffer zone, the water bodies falling outside the ambit of municipal limits have either been turned into a garbage ground or the lake beds are being used to pump water to cater to the people in Bengaluru Urban, rued environmental activists and locals.

Located off the Jigani-Bommasandra Ring Road, the Hennagara lake is spread over 700 acres, with the water-holding area measuring 380 acres. The lake has traditionally been used by the farmers to irrigate their lands. The village dwellers, however, point out that the construction of apartments and industries around the lake in the last one decade has affected the lake.

The local residents say that unlike the BBMP limits where solid waste management rules are applicable to apartments, the panchayat seldom cares about the segregation of the waste in Hennagara and the lake bed has been used as a dumping ground. One of the major concerns is that the small-scale red-category industries in Jigani have not only encroached the buffer zones of the storm water drains (SWD) but are also discharging industrial chemical effluents into the canals connected to the major drains that finally empty into the lake. A recent visit to the lake revealed that there were rampant violations.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/lakes-of-bengaluru-industrial-discharge-sewage-pollute-hennagara-lake-7679231/  (18 Dec. 2021)

NGT panel to probe violations around Chandpura lake  NGT has constituted a 7-member joint committee to look into alleged violations of buffer zone and solid waste management guidelines at Chandapura lake in Anekal taluk of Bengaluru Urban district.

The move comes after the NGT took suo motu cognizance of The Indian Express report ‘Lakes of Bengaluru: Industrial effluents, raw sewage; stinky tale of Chandapura lake’ published on November 21. Built during the Chola dynasty to meet the drinking and domestic requirements of the local settlers, the report highlighted that rapid encroachments and industrial effluents were choking the lake. Industrial effluents from the Kachanayakanahalli lake upstream drains into the Chandapura lake without being treated. Moreover, the lake also receives untreated sewage from Chandapura town through stormwater drains.. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-ngt-7-member-joint-panel-violations-chandpura-lake-7678155/  (17 Dec. 2021)

Varthur, Bellandur lakes continue to froth Though the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has submitted before the NGT that it would put an end to sewage entering the Bellandur and Varthur lakes after the commissioning of STP, activists point out that it is yet to be materialised. Channels carrying sewage are yet to be connected to the plants, they say as the lakes continue to froth.

The NGT in March 2021 dissolved the independent monitoring committee formed to oversee the rejuvenation works at both the lakes. TIE

“The sewage is yet to be treated. Water quality has not improved although the BWSSB had submitted before the NGT that it would treat sewage by March 2021, it is not being done. The connection of the channels carrying sewage with the STP is yet to be done,” said Jagadish Reddy, a member of the Varthur and Bellandur lakes rejuvenation initiative.

He pointed out that through the diversion of the drains carrying sewage from Bellandur and Varthur, it has entered the downstream of Kelavarapalli dam near Hosur. “The water of the dam has turned foamy. The diversion is done to carry out desilting but the major issue is lack of treatment of sewage,” Reddy added. Reddy highlighted that the desilting of Bellandur and Varthur lakes has stopped due to heavy rains in Bengaluru but pointed out that though the wetlands could have been constructed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) during the same period, it was not done. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/varthur-bellandur-lakes-bwssb-sewage-7672459/  (14 Dec. 2021)

Contractors threaten stir over kickbacks The association, which has over 1 lakh contractors as members and 51 organisations under its umbrella, had written to Modi complaining that several ministers cutting across departments of PWD, irrigation and urban development are seeking bribe to award contracts, and the kickback amount has risen to 40%. They said these departments have collective dues of about Rs 20,000 crore. The members alleged that the government’s move to entrust Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited to execute contracts is the main cause of corruption and demanded effective policies to check it and an independent judicial probe into the allegations. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/contractors-threaten-stir-over-kickbacks/articleshow/88245867.cms  (13 Dec. 2021)

BBMP limits expand by 4 sqkm as govt adds 5 villages With the additions, BBMP limits that sprawl over 712 sq km will now stretch over 716 sq km. The villages were added in March 2021 and notified in the gazette, months before the BBMP delimitation committee held its first meeting. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/bbmp-limits-expand-by-4-sq-km-as-govt-adds-five-villages-1060551.html  (14 Dec. 2021)

Mangaluru Jackwell upgradation at Thumbe gains momentum The 18 mgd and 81.7 MLD purification plants of the Thumbe vented dam which provided drinking water to the city, are being upgraded along with the jackwell. 70% of work has been finished, and a deadline of December 24 has been set to complete the task. The work is expected to be completed before the deadline.

The project has been undertaken under the smart city project. Out of the tender amount of nine crore rupees, Rs 1.5 crore is being used to upgrade the purification plant. The remaining amount will be used to reconstruct the protective wall of the dam. The protective wall on one portion had collapsed due to heavy rain and flood two years back. The jackwell that is being upgraded now was built in 1971. It had become very old and because it was built of rocks, it had developed cracks. As water supply was being restricted because of this problem, it was decided to repair and upgrade it. https://daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=905887  (18 Dec. 2021)

Chennai People were taken aback as the sea water in Marina and Pattinambakkam beaches receded by 10-15 metres on Wednesday midnight. https://www.dtnext.in/News/City/2021/12/16100250/1334149/Sea-water-recedes-in-Chennai-beaches-creates-panic-.vpf  (16 Dec. 2021)

Hyderabad NGT constitutes committee for restoration of water body The NGT on Dec. 14 has on Dec 14, 2021 decided to constitute an independent Committee for protection and restoration of the heritage water body Bum-Rukn-ud-Dowla at Shivrampally, Hyderabad, and noted that satisfactory action still remains to be taken and exact status is not clear. The applicant Dr. Lubna Sarwath stated that there is continued concretization and constructions in the lake as well as change in the FTL markings. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/161221/ngt-constitutes-independent-committee-for-restoration-of-hyderabads-w.html  (16 Dec. 2021)

HMWS&SB to charge consumers not availing free drinking water scheme  From January 1, 2022, the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB), will be issuing water bills to consumers who have not availed of the free drinking water scheme. However, interest or penalties will not be levied and consumers can pay the bills in four instalments.

To facilitate consumers, the board stopped billing from Dec 2020 to August 2021 and extended the enrollment to December 2021. As per the board’s records, out of the 9,84,023 Consumer Account Numbers (CANs), 4,90,186 have enrolled themselves and the remaining are likely to be enrolled by the month. The expected enrollments in December 2021 is 60,000, said HMWS&SB in a press release. https://telanganatoday.com/hmwssb-to-charge-consumers-not-availing-free-drinking-water-scheme  (17 Dec. 2021)

Residents of Noor Khan Bazar receive contaminated water Residents of Noor Khan Bazar have been complaining about receiving contaminated water for the last few days. They alleged that the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) is not acting on their complaints. https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-residents-of-noor-khan-bazar-receive-contaminated-water-719431  (13 Dec. 2021)

Second cable bridge along Mir Alam tank The six-lane structure is likely to extend over two km, connecting Bengaluru Highway with Chintalmet near Attapur. The structure is being proposed along the D Mart-Gurudwara-Kishanbagh-Bahadurpura crossroads route, a senior HMDA official told Telangana Today. “We have invited consultants to prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project. The consultants will study different aspects including technical and financial feasibility and make recommendations. Based on the DPR, a decision will be taken,” the official said. https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabads-second-cable-bridge-along-mir-alam-tank  (12 Dec. 2021)

Centre approves proposal for more WTE plants The State government’s proposal for more waste to energy plants has been approved by the MoEF. “In Jawahar Nagar there is already a 20 Megawatts (MW) waste to energy plant. Recently the Ministry of Environment and Forest gave a nod for one more 28 MW waste to energy plant,” Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister KT Rama Rao said.

“After the plant is made operational, with a total 48 MW waste to energy plant, Hyderabad will be the city which has the highest capacity plant that converts waste to energy,” he said, hoping that with the new 1,350 autos flagged off on Monday, better sanitation standards will be achieved. https://telanganatoday.com/centre-approves-telanganas-proposal-for-more-waste-to-energy-plants  (13 Dec. 2021)

Mumbai BMC scraps plans to build a dam  In an era when building dams is the norm, the cancellation of the plan came as a pleasant surprise. What was even more heartening was the reason given by the BMC. Iqbal Singh Chahal, the BMC chief, said the decision was based on learnings from the last two big cyclones that Mumbai has faced since 2020. The cyclones, rare on the west coast, were attributed to climate change. Taking note of this, Chahal said that one of the reasons for not opting for a dam was that it would have meant cutting down 4.5 lakh trees which, in turn, would have had an obvious detrimental impact on the climate.

The dam would have been built at the cost of Rs. 3,105 crore and augmented the city’s water supply by just 440 million litres a day, far less than what the desalination plant plan offers. The BMC had realised the Gargai dam would be inadequate and had also planned another dam, Pinjal, as well as a river linking project called the Damanganga-Pinjal. All these projects had been hanging fire for more than 10 years. The human and environmental costs would have been extensive if the BMC had not scrapped them. https://frontline.thehindu.com/dispatches/bmc-scraps-plans-to-build-a-dam-to-augment-mumbais-supply-instead-opts-for-a-desalination-plant/article37979329.ece  (17 Dec. 2021)

KDMC seeks water from Kushiwali dam in Ambernath The Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) has initiated the planning for the water requirements for the future. The KDMC chief, Vijay Suryavanshi, has written to the principal secretary of water resource department, Mantralay, Mumbai, asking to be allowed to take water from the upcoming Kushiwali dam in Ambernath taluka, considering the requirement for the population of KDMC limits. As per the civic body, if it is allowed a quota for taking water from the dam, it will be able to solve the major water woes in 27 villages that were included in the KDMC in June 2015.

Presently, the KDMC has a quota of 320MLD of water from Ulhas River and 40MLD from Kalu River. In total, 360MLD of water is taken from these rivers and supplied to the KDMC limits. Meanwhile, 55MLD of water is also provided by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to the 27 villages. In total, 415MLD of water is available for the KDMC limits for an estimated population of around 21 lakh. The civic body says that this is not sufficient for its population.

The civic body has also urged to divert the quota of 140MLD water by MIDC for NMMC from Ulhas river to KDMC. A decision was taken in a meeting of water resource minister and senior officials in 2009 to divert this quota to KDMC. However, it was not done. “This diversion is not yet implemented for which we have asked the department to help implement it in the coming days,” added More. In the letter, the civic chief has also asked for funds to take up the work at dams like Pesheer and Kondane in Raigad district and have an independent water source in the future from these resources. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/kalyan-dombivli-municipal-corporation-seeks-water-from-kushiwali-dam-in-ambernath-101639742999682.html  (17 Dec. 2021)

Housing societies need not pay for water tankers, assures CIDCO in writing After several agitations by the residents of Kharghar, Taloja and Kamothe over water scarcity, the CIDCO has now given in writing that the societies would not have to pay any money to the tankers provided by it. “We had been protesting against the water scarcity for many months. Last time, our delegation was adamant that we needed a letter in writing by CIDCO and not just verbal assurance. Finally, CIDCO has given us the letter,” Mangesh Adhav from Kamothe Colony Forum said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/housing-societies-of-kharghar-taloja-kamothe-need-not-pay-for-water-tankers-assures-cidco-in-writing-101639660366556.html  (16 Dec. 2021)

Pune PMC suspends water supply to Cantonment areas over Rs 77 crore dues The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Wednesday (Dec. 15) suspended water supply to areas being served by the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) over outstanding water tax dues amounting to Rs 77 crore. There was no water supply from morning till late evening.

As per the PMC, not only the board but a majority of residents in PCB areas have not paid their water tax. Pawaskar said a decision regarding future water supply would be taken based on the response received from the PCB after Wednesday’s action. According to PMC officials, residents in the PCB areas owe Rs 29 crore while the board owes Rs 48 crore. These payments are due for over four years. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/pmc-suspends-water-supply-to-pune-cantt-areas-over-rs-77cr-dues/articleshow/88306818.cms  (16 Dec. 2021)

Dehradun How not to develop a hill station Dehradun was once a pristine town dotted with canals and fruit orchards. Today, it is choked and polluted, testament to a colossal failure of urban planning. https://scroll.in/article/1012794/how-not-to-develop-a-hill-station  (15 Dec. 2021)

Delhi 10 water bodies to be notified as wetlands A 7 member technical committee has recommended 10 wetlands for notification by the government. These are the Sanjay Lake, Hauz Khas Lake, Bhalswa Lake, Welcome Jheel, Najafgarh Jheel, and water bodies in Sultanpur Dabas, Daryapur Kalan, Smriti Van (Kondli), Smriti Van (Vasant Kunj), and Poth Kalan.

The Wetlands Authority is preparing the draft notifications for these after ground-truthing, and drafts are likely to be forwarded this week to the Delhi government for approval, said a senior official of the environment department. It will then be placed in the public domain for 60 days for comments. Suggestions received will have to be resolved before a final notification is issued. The Wetlands Authority was constituted only in 2019, two years after the rules were notified. Though the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules were notified in 2017, no water body in Delhi has been notified as a wetland so far. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/hauz-khas-sanjay-lakes-on-list-of-10-water-bodies-that-may-soon-be-notified-as-wetlands-7671523/  (14 Dec. 2021)

Delhi Government on Thursday (Dec. 9) said it will revive a lake in Tikri Khurd and the remaining treated water will be discharged back into drain number six which further meets the Yamuna. Water Minister Satyendar Jain said revitalising the Tikri Khurd lake will not only save the environment from contamination but will also help in improving the depleting groundwater level in Delhi and simultaneously improve the natural ecosystem. “The remaining water will be supplied to nearby farm houses for gardening and other purposes,” Jain said.

He also instructed officials from the Flood and Irrigation department to develop a ten kilometer stretch of drain number six and develop it as a recharge zone. Jain who inspected the Sewage Treatment Plant at Narela, also added that Delhi government has set a target to clean Yamuna before the next assembly elections. “The Yamuna receives 155 MGD of wastewater from neighbouring States, with 15 MGD coming from Haryana through Drain No. 6, 90 MGD coming from Badshahpur Drain, and 50 MGD coming from Uttar Pradesh,” he added.

The DJB classifies ponds of around 1 to 1.5 acres as ‘water bodies’ and larger ones as lakes. Lakes are being connected to existing treatment plants to ensure a source of water. The Delhi government will rejuvenate the lake at Tikri Khurd under its  ‘city of lakes’ project, by using the recycled water discharged from the Narela STP. This ‘city of lakes’ project was launched in 2018 to supplement water supply by recharging groundwater and recycling treated wastewater in order to meet the city’s daily water demand. The focus was to build new groundwater recharge reservoirs and rejuvenation of existing lakes. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/govt-to-revive-lake-in-tikri-khurd.html  (10 Dec. 2021)

Large parts of NCR out of conservation zone in new plan The final ‘Draft Regional Plan 2041’ for the National Capital Region has proposed to replace the provision of ‘Natural Conservation Zone’ (NCZ) with ‘Natural Zone (NZ)’ and specified which natural features would qualify to be part of the new categorisation. Going by this, a substantial portion of the NCR area, including the Aravalis, which now qualifies to be conserved, would fall out of the bracket.

Environment analysts said 70-80% of the current NCZ would not qualify to be included under NZ. The NCR planning board, which published the draft plan, has sought feedback before finalising it. “The new draft is a major change in planning. The entire Aravali hill in Faridabad will be out of the Natural Zone. A large chunk of area which is now treated as forest due to the Supreme Court order will not get the protection of the Natural Zone once the government changes the definition of forest. Nearly 70-80% of the current NCZ area will not be eligible to be part of the Natural Zone. Most of the Aravalis in Gurgaon and Haryana have been privatised and are not recorded as forest in revenue records,” said environment analyst Chetan Agarwal. The Centre has proposed changes in laws to amend the definition of ‘forest’. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/large-parts-of-ncr-out-of-conservation-zone-in-new-plan-entire-aravali-hill-to-lose-protective-cover/articleshow/88380127.cms  (20 Dec. 2021)

WATER POLLUTION

Odisha Jajpur transforming rural sanitation Through this initiative, the block has implemented a scientific garbage disposal system to ensure safe sanitation and solid and liquid waste management for rural areas. https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/transforming-rural-sanitation-in-odisha-jajpur-leads-the-way/2381660/  (16 Dec. 2021)

WATER

Gujarat HC: Don’t disturb natural or artificial waterbodies The Gujarat high court on Tuesday (Dec 14, 2021) granted interim relief in a PIL and restrained the state authorities from disturbing or changing the use of any natural or artificial ponds, check dams or other waterbodies in the state. While issuing interim directions to the state authorities and chief town planner, the bench of Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Niral Mehta issued notices to the authorities concerned in response to the PIL filed by two NGOs — Paryavaran Mitra and Ahinsa Mahasangh — demanding a survey of all water bodies including check dams and artificial waterbodies in urban areas. The NGOs want the authorities to publish a complete list of waterbodies in the official gazette with details such as depth and location and sought court directions for their maintenance and preservation. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/hc-dont-disturb-natural-or-artificial-waterbodies-in-gujarat/articleshow/88284959.cms  (15 Dec. 2021)

Karnataka 166 lakes will be conserved Lakes are considered as the lifeline of the rural economy. However, many lakes are now dried up or encroached. Under the ‘Nammura Namma Kere’ initiative, one such lake, which was unfilled for the last two decades, has been conserved in Karakanahalli village located on the outskirts of the city by the SKRDP BC trust and a group formed by the villagers.

‘Karakanahalli Chikkakere’ of Karakanahalli village is spread over 4.3 acres of land. It was conserved at an estimated cost of Rs 5.7 lakh. About 150 families are now benefited by this lake. Over 20 bore-wells, which were dried up, are now recharged as lake water improved the groundwater table in the village. This lake has now become an important source of drinking water for cattle too. On Thursday (Dec. 15), Dr D Veerendra Heggade, Dharmadhikari, Shri Kshetra Dharmastala offered bagina to the lake. Speaking on the occasion, Heggade informed that in the next year, 166 lakes will be conserved across the state. “We are launching Kere Sanjeevini programme in collaboration with the state government,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysuru/166-lakes-will-be-conserved-in-karnataka/articleshow/88369658.cms  (19 Dec. 2021)

Kerala HC stays govt order that capped MRP of bottled water at Rs 13 Justice PV Kunhikrishnan issued the stay order on a petition filed by Kerala Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association. The high court observed that Kerala lacked jurisdiction in declaring packaged drinking water as an essential article under the Kerala Essential Articles Control Act, 1986. It also said that the state government could bring other provisions to control the prices of bottled water, currently sold at different rates. https://www.indiatoday.in/law/story/kerala-high-court-stays-government-order-that-capped-mrp-of-bottled-water-at-rs-13-1888530-2021-12-16  (16 dec. 2021)

Meghalaya NGT acts on plea against coke plants NGT has directed the MoEF, SPCB, the deputy commissioner of East Jaintia Hills and SEIAA to file their counter-affidavits within 4weeks with regard to a petition filed by the Environment Coordination Committee (ECC) of Elaka Sutnga on the illegal coke plants operating in East Jaintia Hills District. “There are 41 coke plants in the district alone owned by non-tribals,” the ECC stated. The NGT has listed the matter for hearing on January 31, 2022.

The ECC had filed the petition with the NGT on October 25 with the allegation that environmental pollution is being caused due to operation of coke oven plants in the area of Elaka Sutnga under East Jaintia Hills District. The petition also alleged that several coke oven plants have been established and are operating in the district in violation of environmental norms causing air and water pollution leading to health concern among the people.

During the submission before the NGT, the ECC’s legal counsel mentioned that some of these open coke ovens are located within 100-300 meters of human habitation. Singh stated before the NGT that the minimum distance between two clusters of coke units should be 5 km. According to them, there was no verification or scrutiny by the Single Window Agency before granting approval to the project proponents of the coke plants. There was random and irregularity issuance of SWA approvals by the Department of Commerce and industries, the ECC claimed. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/12/14/ngt-acts-on-plea-against-coke-plants/  (14 Dec. 2021)

The state unit of All India Trinamool Congress said the NGT order asking the state government to send a reply on the illegal coke factories under Elaka Sutnga substantiated the findings of the Meghalaya Assembly Committee on Environment. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/12/17/ngt-proves-house-panel-right-on-coke-plants-aitc/  (17 Dec. 2021)

CWC RESERVOIR STORAGE BULLETIN OF 16.12.2021 As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 16.12.2021, live storage available in these reservoirs is 131.325 BCM, which is 76% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 133.599 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 112.659 BCM.

Thus, the live storage available in 133 reservoirs as per 16.12.2021 Bulletin is 98% of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 117% of storage of average of last ten years. http://cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/16122021fb.pdf

AGRICULTURE

Maharashtra Farmers say drought is better than rains? Crops standing over 11.28 lakh hectares (provisional) have been affected due to hydro metrological calamities, including floods in Maharashtra in the year 2020-21 according to the union government data. In 2019-20 about 4.17 lakh hectare crops were affected due to rains. In the current financial year (from July to November 2021) crops of over 4.55 lakh hectares have been affected due to natural calamities and 489 people have died. Also there was loss of 4,400 livestock and over 53,000 houses were damaged during this period.

Farmers claim that the damage is much more than the government figures adding that the crops on 25 lakh hectares have been damaged this monsoon. “During the 2016 drought, rains evaded the region after sowing. We suffered losses. But in the last few years, we have suffered double losses as the crop ready for harvesting has been damaged. It takes huge effort and money to raise the crop and we are not even able to recover sowing cost” says Radhabai Yadav from Latur.

As per the flood forecasting network of CWC, during the last 3 years, in addition to existing flood-prone States of Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, extreme floods (water level above previous highest flood level) were witnessed in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan due to excess to large excess rainfall in these States combined with extremely heavy rainfall in short duration. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/why-do-maharashtra-farmers-say-the-drought-is-better-than-rains/article37975066.ece  (17 Dec. 2021)

NE Monsoon affecting agriculture India has received 52 per cent excess rainfall to date during the current North-East monsoon with north-west parts receiving double the normal showers and the southern peninsula 69 per cent more than normal, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/how-excess-north-east-monsoon-rainfall-is-affecting-agriculture-across-india/article37909984.ece  (09 Dec. 2021)

Telangana Farmer burns standing paddy crop Peddanna said he along with some other farmers in the village cultivated a fine variety of paddy based on advice from experts. Suddenly, the crops were infected with pests and insects. “We used insecticides and pesticides at high costs to protect our fields. But the standing crops started wilting. I hope the state government will help me and the other farmers who faced a huge loss and bail them out of their present plight,” he said. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/161221/farmer-burns-standing-paddy-crop-in-peddapalli-after-massive-damage.html  (17 Dec. 2021)

Report While the zero budget natural farming technique promotes chemical-free agriculture, data regarding its effectiveness is still not sufficient. https://scroll.in/article/1012961/  (17 Dec. 2021)

NORTH EAST MONSOON 2021

SANDRP Blog High Rainfall days in India’s districts in SW Monsoon 2021 An analysis of the daily district wise rainfall data from IMD for India’s South West Monsoon 2021 shows that there were 2079 instances when a district rainfall of a day was above 50 mm. Such high rainfall instances included 1712 instances when rainfall was 50-100 mm, 288 instances when it was 100-150 mm, 53 times it was 150-200 mm and 26 times above 200 mm. Out of 694 districts of India, 527 districts or, about 76% of the districts experienced such high rainfall days during SW monsoon 2021. https://sandrp.in/2021/12/14/high-rainfall-days-in-indias-districts-in-sw-monsoon-2021/  (14 Dec. 2021)

DROUGHT

Maharashtra Godavari Dange worked with women farmers to beat the Marathwada drought An excerpt from ‘Raindrop in the Drought: Godavari Dange’, with text by Reetika Revathy Subramanian and illustrations by Maitri Dore.

– A school dropout at 13, bride at 15, and widow at 19, Godavari Dange grew up against a backdrop of mounting debt, wilted crops, and recurring disaster in the epicentre of India’s agrarian crisis, Marathwada. Driven by her personal tragedies and everyday exclusions of other marginalised women in the region, Godavari has spent over two decades in feminist organising around building Indigenous, sustainable climate solutions such as the innovative “one-acre model”. Ever since, supported by NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog, she has backed over 50,000 women in Marathwada and has addressed various public platforms. This is an excerpt from a comic book telling the story of her life and work. https://scroll.in/article/1012729/this-comic-book-shows-how-godavari-dange-worked-with-women-farmers-to-beat-the-marathwada-drought  (14 Dec. 2021)

DISASTERS

125-year-old Indian seismic puzzle solved On June 12, 1897, a magnitude-8+ earthquake rattled much of the Indian subcontinent. Since then, several locations have been proposed as the origin of the earthquake. Now, using original records of the event and 3D models of earthquake behaviour, researchers have identified the epicenter, according to a new study published in The Seismic Record. Their work places the starting point at the intersection of the Chedrang and Oldham faults in the northwest region of the Shillong Plateau — a broad, flat area of the Himalayan foreland in north eastern India. https://temblor.net/earthquake-insights/125-year-old-indian-seismic-puzzle-solved-13536/   (14 Dec. 2021)

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Maharashtra Impractical conditions lead to poor adoption of grid-connected rooftop solar energy Between September 2020 and November 2021, only 8MW (of the 25MW goal) had been installed at the residences of 201 beneficiaries across Maharasthra. Currently, a beneficiary applies online for rooftop solar panel installation (RTS) on the MSEDCL website and selects an empanelling agency, which has to approve or reject the proposal by the consumer within three days. MNRE provides 20-40% financial assistance to residential consumers. It offers 40% central finance assistance (CFA) for capacity of 3kWp and 30% CFA for capacity beyond 3kWp and up to 10kWp. Group housing societies (GHS) and residential welfare associations (RWAs) receive 20% CFA for generating up to 500kWp (limited to 10kWp per house). The empanelment agencies were required to offer five years of warranty and maintenance support for five years.

– “The operational guidelines are impractical, irrational, and arbitrary. Hence the majority of solar manufacturers could not participate in the tender process and could not get the contract,” claimed Jayesh Akole, former chairman of the Maharashtra Solar Manufacturers Association (MASMA). https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/environment/impractical-conditions-lead-to-poor-adoption-of-rooftop-solar-energy-in-maharashtra-7815981.html  (12 Dec. 2021)

63 farmers apply to use land for solar power This is under PM KUSUM scheme. 63 farmers have applied to Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd to set up Solar Generation in their farms. Under the scheme, 0.5 to 2 MW plants can be set up and electricity generated sold to MSEDCL. MSEDCL will purchase the power at the rate of Rs 3.1 per unit for 25 years from the date generation is started. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/maharashtra-63-farmers-apply-to-use-land-for-solar-power/88247816  (13 Dec. 2021)

Rajasthan Govt urges SC to modify order on underground cables The Centre has approached the Supreme Court seeking modification of its order directing that all transmission cables in the habitat of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) be laid underground, saying that the area falling in Rajasthan and Gujarat contains a large proportion of the country’s total solar and wind energy potential and the process will escalate the cost of renewable energy production and hurt India’s renewable energy cause.

The government said India has made international commitments including under the climate agreement signed in Paris in 2015. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the plea before Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and urged him to list it for hearing. The CJI said he will look into it. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/great-indian-bustard-habitat-govt-urges-sc-to-modify-order-on-underground-cables-7671557/  (14 Dec. 2021)

BiharFirst solar village’ becomes a makeshift cattle shed The 100-kilowatt mini-grid launched by Nitish Kumar in Dharnai village was once believed to be a gamechanger for the state.  https://scroll.in/article/1013053/  (18 Dec. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Rusting turbines showcase challenge in generating more wind power The state’s ageing wind energy infrastructure urgently needs to be upgraded. But how can this be financed?  https://scroll.in/article/1012923/in-tamil-nadu-rusting-turbines-showcase-indias-challenge-in-generating-more-wind-power   (16 Dec. 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

BDA Greens oppose proposed changes to Biological Diversity Act Environmentalists have expressed concern over amendments to the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 on the grounds that it prioritises intellectual property and commercial trade at the expense of the Act’s key aim of conserving biological resources.  Amendments to the Act were introduced as a Bill in the Lok Sabha by Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav on Thursday (Dec. 15).

A statement from the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) said the Bill would “undo all the efforts made in the last few years to implement the Biological Diversity Act.” There was not a “single provision in the proposed amendment to protect, conserve or increase the stake of local communities in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity.” LIFE said the amendments were done to “solely benefit” the AYUSH Ministry. The Bill in the current form would pave the way for “bio piracy” and would mean AYUSH manufacturing companies would no longer need to take approvals and thus defeat the purpose for which the Act was created in the first place. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/environmentalists-oppose-proposed-changes-to-biological-diversity-act/article37980391.ece  (17 Dec. 2021)

TNIE has done a comparative analysis of the amendment bill and the existing BD Act, and found that certain provisions were decriminalised allowing companies, who commercially exploit the bio-resources and violate ABS guidelines, to walk free by paying a fine. A senior officer in the Department of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change told TNIE State governments were not consulted before proposing such amendments to the BD Act. Official records accessed by TNIE showed over 650 companies/traders were accessing biological resources for commercial gains without paying ABS share to the TN Biodiversity Board, which was contemplating to issue legal notices and slap cases.

Ritwick Dutta told TNIE besides decriminalising crucial provisions, the amendment bill exempts registered AYUSH practitioners from the ambit of the law. “Majority of the AYUSH firms are registered under the name of the practising AYUSH doctors and excluding them could exempt their companies as well. This will leave a wide section outside the purview of the BD Act,” he said.  “The principal aim of the amendment bill was to reduce the compliance burden and facilitate investment. Conservation of biological resources is the last priority. The Bill will undo all the efforts made in the last few years to implement the BD Act,” Dutta said.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/dec/18/bio-resources-amendment-bill-dilutes-bd-act-raises-concerns-2396807.html  (18 Dec. 2021)

MoEF allows mining on non-forest land MoEF has written to all states allowing mining activities in those parts of a mining block that fall outside forest areas, as long as user agencies have obtained stage one approvals and comply with certain conditions.

Stage one approvals are “in principle” permits and are given subject to conditions, such as paying and providing land for compensatory afforestation. Under the Forest (Conservation) Act, forest clearance for projects is not considered granted till stage two approvals — awarded once the conditions for stage one approvals are met — are given, after which work in the concerned area may begin. https://theprint.in/environment/modi-govt-allows-mining-on-non-forest-land-with-conditions-experts-fear-spillover/781956/  (16 Dec. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh SC gives nod for several projects The apex court has allowed the govt to divert 23,5726 hectare forest land for construction of 54 public projects, including 47 roads, in the hilly state.

The top court also directed the state to file an affidavit giving particulars of the land identified and the steps taken in accordance with law for the reafforestation. The application for permission of diversion of forest land for public purpose had been examined by the Centrally Empowered committee (CEC) which had made recommendations for granting clearance, it noted.

The SC had on February 15 given clearance to 138 projects, including several Hydro and one Hybrid Electric Projects, involving diversion of 614 hectare land. It had also given the green signal for 289 other projects involving diversion of 122 hectare forest land subject to certain conditions. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/sc-gives-nod-for-several-projects-in-himachal-allows-diversion-of-forest-land-350373  (15 Dec. 2021) https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/supreme-court-himachal-pradesh-forest-land-forest-conservation-act-afforestation-steps-187545   (13 Dec. 2021)

Delhi Plea in HC against ‘Ex Post Facto’ EC The High Court on Dec. 14 issued notice on a PIL challenging an office memorandum issued by the MoEF providing for ex post facto Environmental Clearance (EC), i.e., the opportunity to obtain an EC for the projects which have already begun. The plea has been filed by Nishtha Shukla states that the impugned OM dated July 7, 2021 is passed without jurisdiction and its continued enforcement shall be violation of law established under EIA Notification 1994 and 2006 which provide for a mandatory Environmental Clearance (EC) to be taken prior to the initiation of any work on a project. Further, it will be a violation of the fundamental rights of the people under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/delhi-high-court-notice-to-environment-ministry-over-ex-post-facto-environmental-clearance-187616  (14 Dec. 2021)

Uttarakhand CAT tells Centre to show ‘magnanimity, openness’ Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) while hearing a case of 2002-batch IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi pertaining to deputation in investigation wing of Lokpal stated that center must display ‘Magnanimity and Openness’ in the issue. The CAT in its order dated Dec 15 stated, “In our view this is a bit hyper-technical objection, we expect MOEF to display magnanimity and openness in this issue and take an expeditious and considered view in accordance with rules on the request made by the officer seeking deputation in the office of Lokpal.” Next hearing of the matter has been scheduled on January 25, 2022.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/dec/18/uttarakhand-forest-officer-deputation-cat-tells-centre-to-show-magnanimityand-openness-2396999.html  (18 Dec. 2021)

Kerala K-Rail project report manipulated, says railway officer In a serious charge against the government’s prestigious Silver Line rail project, a former railway engineering service officer who had prepared the preliminary feasibility report for the project on behalf of the project consultant, said that the present report on the basis of which the government is going ahead with the project is a completely manipulated and a fraudulent one. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/k-rail-project-report-manipulated/articleshow/88286321.cms  (15 Dec. 2021)

Opinion Ordinary people must be allowed to question growth models Our elitist approach makes it impossible to decouple economic growth from the extraction of natural resources, and our paths to net zero are paved with accelerating extraction writes Peter Sutoris.

Today’s elites, too, speak of climate change as a war. And they, too, don’t want citizens to think too hard about alternatives to the narrative of green growth and clean tech. But if we can learn one lesson from India’s recent history for how the world should deal with the environmental crisis, it is that we should not be too quick to dismiss alternatives. Or else we might end up wasting valuable time moving in a direction that doesn’t take us much closer to our goal. https://thewire.in/environment/climate-crisis-nehru-gandhi-economic-growth  (15 Dec. 2021)

Reporters Without Borders India among most dangerous countries for journalists The report, published on Tuesday (Dec. 14), said that 46 journalists were killed this year in connection with their work. Of these, the highest number of deaths were reported from Mexico with 7 fatalities, followed by Afghanistan with 6, Yemen and India with 4 each and Pakistan with 3. In India, the ones who were killed were Avinash Jha, a journalist working with BNN News, Telugu news channel EV5 reporter Chennakeshavalu, Hindi news channel Sudarshan TV’s Manish Kumar Singh and ABP News’ Sulabh Srivastava. Asia has proved to be most dangerous continent for journalists as a total of 109 journalists have been killed in last five years. https://scroll.in/latest/1013070/record-number-of-488-journalists-detained-in-2021-says-media-watchdog-reporters-without-borders  (17 Dec. 2021)

Report A music series, titled Blue Planet, is documenting performances of Hindustani and Carnatic at vulnerable public spaces around India. https://scroll.in/magazine/1012714/what-happens-when-a-classical-musician-gets-off-the-concert-stage-to-perform-at-a-site-of-activism  (16 Dec. 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Book Climate change and community resilience: Insights from South Asia This book by ICIMOD and SANDEE draws on stories from seven countries in South Asia to highlight how communities are building resilience to climate change. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/climate-change-and-community-resilience-insights-south-asia  (15 Dec. 2021)

ASIA

Malaysia Thousands displaced by floods Torrential rains have caused flooding that has driven more than 11,000 people from their homes, closed dozens of roads and disrupted shipping, authorities said on Saturday (Dec. 18). More than 66,000 personnel from the police, army and fire department have been mobilised nationwide to help rescue people stranded by flood waters and take them to shelters, PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a news conference late on Saturday.

Floods in Malaysia are common during the annual monsoon season between October and March, particularly on the country’s eastern coast. But the downpour that started on Friday (Dec. 17) morning and continued into Saturday (Dec. 18) hit worst in the western state of Selangor – Malaysia’s wealthiest and most populous region surrounding the capital Kuala Lumpur. https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/thousands-malaysia-displaced-after-non-stop-rainfall-2021-12-18/  (18 Dec. 2021)

Indonesia People protesting against mines run growing risk of ‘criminalization’ Indonesians defending their lands against mining operations are frequently met with criminal persecution on dubious charges, observers say. The people of Jomboran village on the island of Java are the latest example, with police questioning them for staging a protest at a mining site near the village. In 2020, 69 Indonesians were “criminalized” in with cases involving disputes with mining companies, according to data from the watchdog NGO Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam). https://news.mongabay.com/2021/12/indonesians-protesting-against-mines-run-growing-risk-of-criminalization/  (17 Dec. 2021)

Webinar Removing ‘road’ dams in Europe Very interesting webinar: “Removing “Road Dams” in Europe?” on 19th January, 2022 from 15:00-18:00 CET. River fragmentation from constructed barriers poses one of the greatest threats to freshwater biodiversity and river ecosystem function. In Europe, there are an estimated 1.2 million barriers; over 200,000 of these are mapped culverts/road crossings. Dams and weirs get much needed attention, but river fragmenting culverts and road crossings are more common and often overlooked. These structures have an outsized impact on critical headwater rivers and streams. It’s time to shed light on this critical issue! All river and restoration practitioners, policy makers, researchers, and students, as well as road planning, maintenance, design and construction experts are invited to join! The full program and registration details can be found by following this link. https://damremoval.eu/culvertwebinar/  (18 Nov. 2021)

How Hamburg city in Germany plans flood protection for immediate future. https://www.deccanherald.com/international/in-hamburg-surviving-climate-change-means-living-with-water-1062455.html  (19 Dec. 2021)

Russia Volga River machine broke Too many dams have made Russia’s most important river dysfunctional. About 2,300 miles long, the Volga—sometimes referred to as “Volga-matushka,” or “Mother Volga”—is the longest river in Europe and the biggest by water flow, arcing from northwest of Moscow around and down to the Caspian Sea. Some 60 million people—about 40% of Russia’s population—live in its basin, which spans almost a tenth of the country’s vast territory.

The Volga, with its largest tributary, the Kama, is a massive cascade of 11 reservoirs with hydropower plants responsible for about 5% of the total electricity production in Russia.

Moscow, with its 12 million people, gets most of its drinking water from the Volga via the Moscow Canal. About 1,500 miles downstream, the strategic port city of Volgograd. As an artery of commerce, a source of energy and drinking water, and a conveyor of history, the Volga touches nearly every aspect of life in Russia. It is what the Mississippi is to the United States or the Rhein to Germany. https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/12/15/1041312/volga-river-dams-russia-soviets-infrastructure/  (15 Dec. 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Promoting hydro Africa continent-wide in a “sustainable” manner. https://www.waterpowermagazine.com/features/featurean-investors-guide-to-hydropower-in-africa-9297435/  (03 Dec. 2021)

Australia First fires, then floods Many of the same areas that suffered through the Black Summer bush fires in 2019 and 2020, the worst in the country’s recorded history, are now dealing with prodigious rainfall during the wettest, coldest November since at least 1900.

Hundreds of people across several states have been forced to evacuate. Many more are stranded on floodplain islands with no way to leave except by boat or helicopter, possibly until after Christmas.

And with a second year of the weather phenomenon known as La Niña in full swing, meteorologists are predicting even more flooding for Australia’s east coast, adding to the stress from the pandemic and a recent rural mouse plague of biblical proportions. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/11/world/australia/flooding-fire-climate-australia.html  (11 Dec. 2021)

Report La Nina threat extends beyond farming The Australian Bureau of Meteorology sees La Nina persisting until at least the end of January, while the U.S. Climate Prediction Center assigned a 95% chance of it lasting through February. In Brazil, rainfall in the first three months of La Nina years has been 45% higher than other years, according to CRU, which sees “a high chance that iron ore shipments from northern Brazil can be disrupted over the first half of 2022.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-12-14/la-nina-s-threat-extends-beyond-farming-to-iron-and-coal-fields  (14 Dec, 2021)

Plastic pollution threatening world’s oceans On a per-capita basis, the US produces more plastic waste than China – a nation often vilified over pollution-related issues. https://scroll.in/article/1012139/plastic-pollution-is-threatening-the-worlds-oceans-and-the-us-shares-much-of-the-blame  (13 Dec. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 13 Dec 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 06 Dec 2021  

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

3 thoughts on “DRP News Bulletin 20 Dec 2021: Judiciary fails the environment AGAIN

  1. Since time immemorial, people have visited char dham in India and only recently, there are so much importance on widening char dham road as if the project in the name of national security is more important than people’s lives depending on the stability of the mountain itself, their livelihood, their own movements which is frequently being blocked due to landslides in rainy season. I mean what’s national security without the inclusion of lives of the people in the region? As if this government is the only one taking care of our borders after 75 years of Indian independence. Using the fear of foreign invasions from North, alibi of moving big machineries through the unstable roads of Uttarakhand mountains, government is siphoning out tax payer’s money to private contractors. What an easy way out to win elections!
    I had a glimmer of hope from the Supreme Court which has diminished on the day, I read the report. I’m just trying to figure out the areas in the higher himalayan glacial moraine or sinking zones where starting rainy seasons, roads remain blocked all these years, not leaving a single one since I can remember. I wonder what kind of expertise in our government suggests them to widen the road for 10 metres! I don’t remember any point beyond Uttarkashi or Joshimath or Niti valley where the road can be widened upto 30 feet. What kind of development takes place at the cost of ecological and environmental disaster in the making?

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  2. Among many of the projects of our union government, there are some recent add ons at Kedarnath. One of them was changing route of Saraswati river(!) and building ghats on it so that the pilgrims can take a dip and visit the shrine. (I added a [ ! ] Sign as I’m not sure how Saraswati River can flow near Kedarnath when it can be visited as a stream near Bhim pool at Mana village which is 3 kms further north on Badrinath road and how it could be changed from its course? ) But according to a YouTube blogger in recent times, those ghats lay empty because pilgrims visit the temple straightway after disembarking from chopper or reaching on foot. Crores have been spent to catch public eye. There are also 3 tier walls being constructed to resist 2013 like flash flood but according to experts, those walls will only add to any catastrophe like that of 2013 as these are mostly made of concrete and iron bars with high barb wire fencing.
    Please verify this from your other sources.

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  3. https://www.amarujala.com/dehradun/rishikesh-karnprayag-railway-line-village-in-trouble-due-to-tunnel-explosions

    Uttarakhand villagers are facing eviction from Rishikesh Karnaprayag railway construction works due to too much use of blasting.

    How can such a fragile zone be declared safe for wide highway construction in the name of defence. These roads won’t even sustain one season as the aforementioned strategic posts located at Mana Pass, Niti Pass, Lipulekh Pass and even roads to Nelang Valley are all located in glacial moraine area of loose boulders and less water holding capacity soil.

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