DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 03 Jan 2022: Are we any safer from Dam Disasters?

In the 2021 year-end review by the Ministry of Jal Shakti (Ministry of Water Resources), the passage of the Dam Safety Bill by the parliament figures in headlines. The question is are we any safer from dam disasters due to this? If we take a quick review of the numerous dam disasters just this year and also look at the dam disasters mentioned in this Bulletin that happened just in the last week of the passing year, the answer is clear no. Such disasters include ones in Himachal Pradesh, Nepal and Brazil.

There is also the news here of the Uttarakhand agency report about the Feb 2021 Chamoli disaster, about which the official govt agency has said failure of Early Warning System was a factor in the disaster. The bigger disaster is that the state govt has promptly issued show cause notice to the authors of the paper blaming the lack of EWS!

The Himachal Disaster possibly won’t even be covered by the dam safety bill since it is a case of disaster at a dam project that is yet to be commissioned!

The Deccan Herald EDIT is rightly pointing out that the government should have listened to the states, the opposition and other critical voices to come out with a useful Dam Safety Bill.

2021 Year End review by MoJS: Ken Betwa, Dam Safety Act, PMKSY approval for 2021-26 and NWM Catch the Rain in headlines. https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1786616   (31 Dec. 2021)

Centre should have consulted states on Dam Safety Bill EDIT in Deccan Heralad on Jan 3, 2021 rightly says: The Govt did not pay heed to the views of the Opposition parties on the Dam Safety Bill. The objections have much to do with the fear of the states that their rights and powers with respect to the dams in their territories would be affected. Many of them think that the bill is an encroachment into their jurisdiction and would constrain their powers. The Centre should have taken the state govts on board and allowed greater scrutiny of the proposals before finalising them and getting the bill passed by the parliament. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/centre-should-have-consulted-states-on-dam-safety-bill-1067320.html (January 3, 2022)

Himachal Pradesh बजोलीहोली हाइड्रो प्रोजेक्ट की टनल टेस्टिंग में रिसाव बजोली-होली हाइड्रो प्रोजेक्ट की टनल टेस्टिंग के बीच सोमवार (Dec. 27) रात को रिहायशी क्षेत्र में भी रिसाव आरंभ हो गया है। इसके चलते एक मकान में दरारें आ गई है, जबकि एक अन्य मकान के भी जमींदोज होने का खतरा बन गया है। इस बीच एक सेब बागीचे में जमीन फटने से बड़ी-बड़ी दरारें उभर आई हैं। इसके चलते झड़ौता के ग्रामीणों के बीच खौफ बढ़ गया है। हालात यह है कि ग्रामीणों की रातें अब जाग कर कट रही है। पीडि़तों ने बताया कि गत दिनों कंपनी के अधिकारियों की मौजूदगी में मौके का दौरा किया था।

इस दौरान वहां पानी का रिसाव नहीं हो रहा था। मगर मंगलवार (Dec. 28) को मौके पर भारी मात्रा में कई स्थानों पर पानी का रिसाव होना पाया गया है। हालात यह है कि कुछ मकानों के भीतर तक पानी पहुंच गया है और जमीन भी दलदली हो चुकी है। एक जगह पर जमीन में बड़ी और गहरी दरार उभर कर सामने आई है। ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि कंपनी प्रबंधन ग्रामीणों को झूठे आश्वासन देकर गुमराह कर रहा है, जबकि रिसाव को रोकने के लिए अभी तक कोई भी कदम नहीं उठाया जा रहा है। उनका कहना है कि कंपनी की ओर से अभी भी टनल में पानी भरकर इसकी टेस्टिंग नहीं रोकी है। https://www.divyahimachal.com/2021/12/ground-cracks-due-to-leakage-in-tunnel-panic-among-villagers-due-to-testing-of-bajoli-holi-hydro-project-in-bharmour/  (29 Dec. 2021)

-Uttarakhand State Disaster Management officials served a show cause notice for highlighting lack of early warning system as major reason behind human casualties during Feb 2021 Chamoli Disaster.

रैणी आपदा के लिए रिसर्च टीम ने EWS को बताया जिम्मेदार, नोटिस जारी  रैणी आपदा मामले में उत्तराखंड राज्य आपदा प्रबंधन प्राधिकरण के सदस्यों ने एक रिसर्च पेपर लिखा है. जिसमें उन्होंने बताया कि मौसम पूर्व चेतावनी तंत्र (Weather Early Warning System) न होने की वजह से मौतें हुईं, लेकिन मामले पर अपर मुख्य कार्यधिकारी प्रशासन जितेंद्र कुमार सोनकर ने नाराजगी जाहिर की है. इतना ही नहीं उन्होंने अपनी नोडल एजेंसी को कारण बताओ नोटिस भी जारी कर दिया है.

दरअसल, अपर मुख्य कार्यधिकारी प्रशासन जितेंद्र कुमार सोनकर ने उत्तराखंड राज्य आपदा प्रबंधन प्राधिकरण के सचिव पीयूष रौतेला और राज्य आपदा प्रबंधन प्राधिकरण वरिष्ठ परामर्शदाता डॉ. गिरीश चंद्र जोशी, राज्य आपदा प्रबंधन प्राधिकरण भू वैज्ञानिक सुशील खंडूड़ी, यूएनडीपी एवं ग्राम्य विकास और जीआईएस कनसल्टेंट सुरभि कुंडलिया को कारण बताओ नोटिस जारी किया है. साथ ही मामले में 7 दिनों के भीतर जबाब देने को कहा है. अपर मुख्य कार्यधिकारी जितेंद्र कुमार सोनकर ने रिचर्स करने वाले अधिकारियों पर एक अंग्रेजी अखबार के समाचार का संज्ञान लेते हुए मौसम पूर्व चेतावनी तंत्र को कमजोर दर्शाने में भी स्पष्टीकरण मांगा है. साथ ही रिसर्च पेपर की जानकारी को बगैर अनुमति के अखबारों में प्रकाशित करने पर भी नाराजगी जाहिर की है. https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttarakhand/state/chamoli/notice-issued-to-research-team-for-citing-weak-weather-early-warning-system-as-reason-for-raini-disaster/uttarakhand20211229182251914  (29 Dec. 2020)

Nepal 2 engineers killed as hydropower project’s penstock pipe explodes 2 engineers died as a penstock pipe of the under-construction Solukhola Dudhkoshi Hydropower Project in the Solukhumbu district of eastern Nepal exploded on Sunday (Dec 26 2021). Chief District Officer Ganesh Bikram Shahi says Subas Raj Regmi (26), and Arjun Thapa (29) died in the accident. The pipe had exploded during a test. Falling unconscious after being hit by the water from the exploded pipe, the two were could not be rescued. https://english.onlinekhabar.com/solukhumbu-engineers-killed.html  (27 Dec. 2021)

Trial runs were held at the 86-Mw HEP in Solukhumbu district, 160 km east of Kathmandu. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/two-engineers-killed-in-accident-at-hydropower-project-in-nepal/88533893  (28 Dec. 2021)

Dam Floods Brazil 2 dams give way amid heavy rains Brazilian authorities issued warnings of flash floods after two dams in the northeast of the country burst on Sunday (Dec 26, 2021). At least 35,000 people have been driven from their homes, with almost 19,600 having been displaced and around 16,000 forced to seek shelter, according to the civil protection agency Sudec active in the northeastern state of Bahia.

Rescue teams have been using dinghies to reach residents who have been trapped by flooding

– The IGUA dam which is situated on the Verruga River in the state of Bahia collapsed on Saturday night, forcing the evacuation of residents of the town of Itambe. “A dam with a high volume of water has broken and a strong flash flood is expected to affect the municipality of Itambe in a few moments. All residents should evacuate from the banks of the river Verruga urgently,” city authorities posted on social media. In Vitoria da Conquista, situated close to the collapsed Igua dam, Mayor Sheila Lemos said all residents located near the dam had been evacuated.

– Then on Sunday (Dec. 26) morning, a second dam broke in Jussiape, leading to authorities to renew calls to move to safety.

– While there have been no immediate reports of deaths or injuries, the floodwaters have damaged infrastructure in the area, including roads and bridges. https://www.dw.com/en/brazil-two-dams-give-way-as-heavy-rain-swamps-the-northeast/a-60261697  (28 Dec. 2021)

Bahia’s ‘worst disaster’ ever The death toll from floods hammering northeast Brazil rose to 20 on Monday (Dec. 27), as the governor of Bahia state declared it the worst disaster in the state’s history and rescuers braced for more rain in the coming days. Much of Bahia, home to about 15 million people, has suffered from intermittent flooding for weeks, after a long drought gave way to record rains. Flooding in some areas intensified late on Christmas Eve and early on Christmas Day after a pair of dams gave way, sending residents scrambling for higher ground.

Newspaper O Globo, citing a state firefighting official, said that authorities are monitoring an additional 10 dams for any signs they may collapse. The scrutiny of public infrastructure and urban planning comes just a couple years after the collapse of a mining dam in neighboring Minas Gerais state killed some 270 people. In televised remarks, Costa, the Bahia governor, attributed the chaotic scenes in part to “errors that have been committed over the course of years.” https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/death-toll-brazil-flooding-rises-bahias-worst-disaster-ever-2021-12-27/  (28 Dec. 2021)

Also see 5 massive dam failures incidents that were caught on camera. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWW2Vo4bOb0 (02 Dec. 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Arunachal Pradesh SJVN to invest Rs 60Kcr on 5 HEPs The government has accepted the allotment of 5 hydroelectric projects having a total capacity of 5,097 MW to SJVN, for which a memorandum of understanding will be signed shortly, it is claimed. The projects, namely Etalin Hydroelectric Project (HEP) (3,097 MW), Attunli HEP (680 MW), Emini HEP (500 MW), Amulin HEP (420 MW) and Mihumdon HEP (400 MW), are located in the Dibang basin of Arunachal Pradesh. SJVN Chairman and Managing Director Nand Lal Sharma held a meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 29) with Arunachal Deputy CM Chowna Mein in New Delhi to discuss a road map to develop hydroelectric projects, according to a statement. https://theprint.in/economy/sjvn-to-invest-rs-60000-cr-for-harnessing-5097-mw-hydropower-in-arunachal-pradesh/790806/  (29 Dec. 2021)

Uttrakhand Local agitations against Vyasi HEP Bhim Singh Rawat, an associate coordinator with SANDRP said, “The region is susceptible to cloudburst, flash floods and recurrent landslide incidents. Above that, the careless handling of muck generated during the construction of 2.7 kilometres long, 7-metre dia tunnel in last eight years has added to the woes of local people and Yamuna river.” The dumps are so close to the river that construction debris keeps spilling into the river, more so during Monsoon which has raised the river level. The prevailing situation can trigger more flash floods in future.”

Manoj Misra, head of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan is of the opinion that whether the project shall deliver the benefits as claimed in its benefit: cost ratio is anybody’s guess since most HEPs in the land are underperforming. In the Himalayan belt, the influence of climate change is also an unknown determinant which this and similar projects have not been assessed for. As usual amid cost escalation, delays, looming geological, climatic threats, norms violations and social injustice, the tall claims of the hydro project developers continue to be contradicted by the ground realities. https://www.newsclick.in/Uttrakhand-Local-Agitations-Disasters-Hit-Hard-Already-Delayed-Yamuna-Dam-Project  (29 Dec. 2021)

Tribals oppose hydropower plant to protect fragile ecology Tikender Singh Panwar: Kinnaur tribals launch campaign against the proposed 804 MW Jangi Thopan Powari Hydroelectricity Project on Satluj. https://www.newsclick.in/no-means-no-kinnaur-tribals-oppose-hydropower-plant-protect-fragile-ecology  (31 Dec. 2021)

Please follow Endangered Himalaya & Dibang Resistance to observe the coverage around anti dam sentiments across the Himalayan belt. https://fb.watch/aid4TOeZOU/

HP has immense oil, gas potential: ONGC HP has immense potential in oil and natural gas exploration, said ONGC chairman Subhash Kumar in an interview. He said the ONGC was carrying out surveys to look for oil and gas reserves in Kangra, Hamirpur and Sundernagar areas. “The corporation will enter into renewable energy sector in a big way. It is presently generating 726 MW of power and intends to take it to 10 GW. We will also look for investments in Himachal in this sector,” he said. In an advice to the Himachal Government, he said it should form an advisory committee of experts from various fields to give a vision to the state for its economic growth. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/himachal-has-immense-oil-gas-potential-ongc-356081  (30 Dec. 2021)

DAMS

Polavaram Project Only 25 of affected villages rehabilitated As per the official data, only 20.19 per cent of R&R has been completed. By the end of August, 1,12,555.99 acres were acquired and another 54,226.51 acres needed to be acquired. Out of the 373 habitations that will submerge under the Polavaram project,  rehabilitation of only 25 has been completed so far. As of November 16, the total expenditure incurred on the Polavaram project stood at Rs  18,340.64 crore. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/jan/01/states-polavaram-dream-nearer-to-becoming-a-reality-2401866.html  (01 Jan. 2022)

Joint commissioner, Union Jal Shakti Ministry (MoJS), Anupam Kumar Srivatsav, on Wednesday (Dec 29, 2021) said that the water resources department has handed over details of the progress of Polavaram project works and the pending bills from the central government and added that the details have been reviewed. He along with commissioner, Jal Shakti Ministry, AS Goyal inspected the progress of Polavaram project works. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/central-team-reviews-polavaram-work/articleshow/88575569.cms  (30 Dec. 2021)

Maharashtra 28 out of 35 seismographs near dams are useless: Govt Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil on Friday (Dec. 24) said that 28 out of 35 seismographs installed near major dams in the state are non-operational. The minister was responding to a written question asked by Vilas Potnis in the Legislative Council. “These analog seismographs are either old or their spare parts are not available. So 28 out of 35 seismographs installed near major dams are not in use,” Patil said. “A committee had reviewed seismographs near all major dams in the state. The government is planning to install digital seismographs,” the minister said, without giving any timeline. https://theprint.in/india/maha-28-out-of-35-seismographs-near-dams-are-useless-govt-admits/787718/  (25 Dec. 2021)

Mullaperiyar Dam Plea filed in SC seeking direction to Tamil Nadu The application has been filed by six local residents including one Ajay Jose through advocate Manju Jetley Sharma, who has sought appropriate direction to the Government of Tamil Nadu to construct a new dam as also augment the storage capacity of the Vaigai dam downstream or construct additional dams or reservoirs to store the water drawn from the Mullaperiyar dam so as to allay the fear of the millions whose lives are at risk in the event of the unthinkable, namely the collapse of the Mullaperiar dam and as a fallout the giving away of the Idukki dam which is certain to cause the loss of 35-40 lakhs of citizens in the five districts of Idukki, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Alappuzha, may wiping out of the city of Cochin.

The applicants said that the dam is located in a seismically active area and a minor earthquake is said to have caused cracks in the dam in 1979 and that in 2011, more cracks appeared in the dam due to seismic activity. “Leaks and leaching are also concerning, as the methods and materials used during construction are considered outdated compared to current standards. In response to these structural issues, dam decommissioning has been considered,” the applicant said adding that a dam failure risk would be catastrophic as over 3.5 million people in the lower reaches of Periyar, Azhutha, Meenachilar, Pamba and Manimalayar rivers. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/010122/mullaperiyar-dam-plea-filed-in-sc-seeking-direction-to-tamil-nadu.html  (01 Jan. 2022)

Mekedatu Dam JD(S), Congress lock horns on Mekedatu padayatra. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-politics/jds-congress-lock-horns-on-mekedatu-padayatra-1066042.html  (29 Dec. 2021)

Karnataka KRS dam remains full for 60 days Following incessant rains in Kodagu and other catchment areas during September and October, Cauvery River flowed in full spate and the inflow to KRS Dam had increased. This resulted in KRS Dam reaching its maximum capacity of 124.80 ft. and from Oct. 29 to Dec. 23, the reservoir was full. Today (Dec. 27), there is 48.254 TMC water stored in the reservoir and the level recorded is 123.94 ft. Last year (2020) on Dec. 27, the level of water was 119.25 ft. & 42.103 TMC water was stored.

As the inflow of water to KRS has decreased, the outflow from the reservoir has also been decreased to maintain water level which will be used for drinking and agriculture purpose during summer. The inflow to KRS Dam recorded on Dec. 27, 2021 at 6 am is 2,726 cusecs while it was 1,412 cusecs last year and the total outflow from the reservoir is 4,452 cusecs while it was 2,544 cusecs last year. https://starofmysore.com/in-90-year-history-krs-dam-remains-full-for-60-days/  (27 Dec. 2021)

Sardar Sarovar Project The underground pipelines constructed in Vav and Suigam Taluks in Banaskantha district under the Narmada project is proving to be mirage. https://www.gujaratsamachar.com/news/banaskantha/narmada-underground-pipeline-project-is-like-mirage-for-farmers 

Tehri Dam सस्पेंशन ब्रिज की मास्टिक में दरार, 3 अरब में हुआ था तैयार देश के पहले सिंगल सस्पेंशन डोबरा-चांठी पुल पर बिछी मास्टिक में एक बार फिर दरार पड़ने लगी है, और ये पहली बार नहीं हो रहा। मास्टिक पर दरारें पड़ने का यह तीसरा मामला है। जिससे लोक निर्माण विभाग की कार्यप्रणाली पर सवाल खड़े होने लगे हैं। साल 2020 में टिहरी झील के ऊपर बनकर तैयार हुए इस पुल पर तीसरी बार दरार पड़ी है। इस पुल को आकार लेने में पूरे 15 साल लगे, लेकिन उद्घाटन के महज कुछ ही महीनों बाद इस पुल की ऐसी तस्वीरें सामने आई हैं, जिन्हें देख लोग खुद को ठगा हुआ महसूस करने लगे हैं।

डोबरा-चांठी सस्पेंशन ब्रिज के ऊपर बिछे मास्टिक के जोड़ों में दरार पड़ने से जनता में आक्रोश है। उन्होंने गुप्ता कंपनी पर भी सवाल खड़े किए। स्थानीय लोगों ने कहा कि यह पुल प्रतापनगर की जनता के संघर्षों का परिणाम है, जो कि प्रतापनगर की लाइफ लाइन है। बता दें कि डोबरा-चांठी पुल की लंबाई 725 मीटर है। इसमें सस्पेंशन ब्रिज 440 मीटर लंबा है। पुल में 260 मीटर आरसीसी डोबरा साइड और 25 मीटर स्टील गार्डर चांठी साइड से है, पुल की चौड़ाई 7 मीटर है। https://www.rajyasameeksha.com/uttarakhand/20714-crack-in-mastic-of-dobra-chanthi-bridge   (29 Dec. 2021)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Linking जबर्दस्ती का नदी जोड़ हिमांशु ठक्कर विकास की बदहवासी में आजकल उसी को अनदेखा करने का चलन हो गया है जिसकी कसमें खाकर विकास किया जाता है। पिछले दिनों केन्द्रीय केबिनेट ने मध्यप्रदेश और उत्तरप्रदेश के बुंदेलखंड़ इलाके की सिंचाई और पेयजल क्षमता बढाने की खातिर केन और बेतवा नदियों को जोड़ने की मंजूरी दी है, लेकिन इसमें भी उन बुनियादी शर्तों, अध्ययनों और अनुभवों को अनदेखा किया जा रहा है जिनके चलते नदी जोड़ने की देश की यह पहली परियोजना संकट खड़ा कर सकती है। https://www.spsmedia.in/development/ken-and-betwa-forcibly-connecting-the-river/  (01 Jan. 2022)

A link prompting ecological concerns Mr Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of the SANDRP and a petitioner in a case against the project in the NGT, said there is no evidence to indicate that the project had been redesigned to ensure it meets these conditions. He added that the Cabinet clearance now risks even compromising these checks.

“The government wants to go ahead, but they see these hurdles, which is why they want to bring pressure on all these institutions now,” he told ST. “Once the Cabinet has cleared it and the PM has endorsed it, you can imagine the kind of pressure each of these institutes and committees will be functioning under.”

“It is illegal, it is premature,” said Mr Manoj Mishra, without mincing his words while referring to the Cabinet clearance. The retired government forester and head of the Yamuna Forever Campaign, a movement to protect the Yamuna river, is one of the petitioners in a pending case against the project in the Supreme Court (SC).

“Until and unless the SC has decided the case on merit, a case which is sub judice and does not have all the clearances, how can the Cabinet take a decision on that unless it has been misled about the pending cases,” he told The Straits Times. The project has also been challenged in the National Green Tribunal, which is yet to deliver its verdict. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/india-clears-its-first-river-linking-project-prompting-ecological-concerns  (02 Jan. 2022)

Study KBRIL will sacrifice around 58.03 sq. km (10.07%) of the Critical Tiger Habitat of Panna Tiger Reserve, adding to submergence, indirect loss of 105.23 sq. km of CTH due to fragmentation and loss connectivity. PTR has a success story of zero tiger in 2009 to 54 tiger in 2019 due to favourable habitat and our study also shows the continuing and good growth of forest.

The unique ecosystem of PTR containing wildlife and rich biodiversity will vanish after the inception of the river interlinking project. No amount of mitigation measures can create this kind of unique ecosystem which has evolved over million of years to reach the present level of biodiversity. The height of the dam (77 m) will affect the nesting sites of vultures. Construction of one of the barrages inside the Ken Gharial Sanctuary will adversely affect the sustainability of the sanctuary.

The NITI Ayog report of 2019 provided a major example of the Jakhni village in the Bundelkhand area of Banda district of Uttar Pradesh. The villagers have managed the severe water crisis, which stopped mass out-migration of locals due to drought. Though the construction of dam in Bundelkhand region is a settled fact now, keeping in the view the sensitivity of the Tiger reserve, we should implement the Jakhni village model in the other water-scarce areas of Bundelkhand to avoid mass destruction. https://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/121/12/1572.pdfhttps://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/ken-betwa-river-interlinking-core-forest-area-of-panna-tiger-reserve-will-come-under-water-warns-study-80885  (28 Dec. 2021)

Bundelkhand’s ‘Jal Sahelis’ (friends of water) – a group of women working for water conservation and revival of ponds in the Bundelkhand region – have asked all political parties to include water conservation, revival of water bodies, demarcation of water structures, allotment of land and houses to the landless besides proper implementation of MGNREGA scheme, in their manifestos for the upcoming UP assembly polls. The Jal Sahelis have already handed over their ‘water manifesto’ to heads of all political parties. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=910824  (02 Jan. 2022)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Krishna/Godavari Water Disputes MoJS meet fails cut ice in enforcing river boards’ purview A virtual meeting held with the chief secretaries and Irrigation Department officials of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Tuesday (Dec. 28) by Union Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Pankaj Kumar has not made much headway in the matter of implementation of the purview of Krishna and Godavari River Management Boards (KRMB and GRMB).

The meeting was held to take forward the implementation of gazette notification of July 15 last, which has officially come into force from October 14, as the State governments have adopted an approach of delayed/slow response in submitting the detailed project reports of ongoing and proposed projects, arranging seed money of ₹400 crore each by the two States, transfer of manpower, records to manage projects and handing over of projects for deployment of CISF personnel. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/meet-held-by-mojs-fails-cut-ice-in-enforcing-river-boards-purview/article38081868.ece  (31 Dec. 2021)

Telangana government on Tuesday (Dec. 28), urged the Centre to refer the Krishna water sharing issue between Andhra and Telangana to a Tribunal under Section 3 of Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956. The officials also wanted the Centre to clear the detailed project reports (DPRs) of Godavari river projects submitted four months ago.

During the meeting, the Telangana Chief Secretary observed that as there were no major issues and no common projects for regulation between the two States regarding irrigation projects on the Godavari river, adding that there wasn’t any need for GRMB. However, the Union Secretary said it was not possible to abolish the GRMB at this point.

On providing seed money, the officials said that States were facing financial crisis due to Covid-19 and it was very difficult to provide Rs 400 crore. “Tell us the purpose of the seed money, then we will look into it,” the officials said.

On handing over of the projects, the officials said that unless the operational protocols were implemented, which were mutually agreed by both the States, the handing over of projects wouln’t be possible. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/dec/29/we-withdrew-sc-case-now-you-refer-krishna-issue-to-tribunal-telangana-to-centre-2400735.html  (29 Dec. 2021)

The MoJS on Tuesday (Dec. 28) assured that the DPRs of 6 irrigation projects on Godavari river submitted by Telangana government would be cleared soon.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/dprs-on-godavari-river-to-be-cleared-soon-centre-tells-t/articleshow/88553277.cms  (29 Dec. 2021)

IRRIGATION

Rajasthan Farmers to get less water from January 12 Over a lakh ha of wheat, mustard and other crops face water scarcity in Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar districts in Rajasthan as BBMB refuses to provide any water after January 12 due to low storage levels in Pong and Bhakra dams following below normal rains. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/west-raj-farmers-to-get-less-water-from-jan-12/articleshow/88625613.cms  (01 Jan. 2022)

Punjab Cabinet nod to monitoring wing in soil, water conservation dept The cabinet on Saturday (Jan. 01, 2022) approved setting up of “design, quality control monitoring and evaluation wing” in the soil and water conservation department to ensure precise planning, designing, estimation besides transparent and accountable implementation of public works.  The cabinet also gave a go-ahead to set up a micro irrigation (MI) special purpose vehicle (SPV) in the soil and water conservation department for the promotion of intelligent irrigation systems in the state. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/punjab-cabinet-nod-to-monitoring-wing-in-soil-water-conservation-dept-101641099799496.html  (02 Jan. 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

City-based environment group Vanashakti on Monday wrote to authorities, including chief minister Uddhav Thackeray (Vanashakti)

Ulhas; Mumbai ‘Construction of school on floodplains worrisome’ Vanashakti on Monday (Dec. 27) wrote to authorities, including CM Uddhav Thackeray, raising alarm over continued constructions within the high flood line of the Ulhas River in Badlapur, Thane district. Encroachment in the form of a private school is the latest to crop up in the region, despite previous orders of the NGT prohibiting any building activity on the floodplains, in addition to an amusement park and several real estate projects pointed out Vanashakti (a petitioner in Bombay HC, seeking to revive the water body). https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/construction-of-school-on-ulhas-river-floodplains-worrisome-101640632495625.html  (28 Dec. 2021)

Chennai CRZ clearance for Adyar mouth widening put off MoEF committee meeting on December 8 raised ecological concerns while seeking a comprehensive scientific study before considering the proposal. Earlier this year, it had turned down the project twice, strongly observing that “unless a multi-season detailed study is commissioned to study the impacts of opening of sand bar on riverine/estuarine ecology and biodiversity and Besant Nagar Turtle Nesting Site, this component shall be put on hold.” The committee observed that it may lead to long-term changes in the ecology of the region and should be studied by an institute like National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai.

The Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust is implementing work on various sub-projects of the restoration project. As part of it, the PWD is entrusted with the implementation of seven sub-projects, including desilting and widening the river for 16.18 km, construction of flood protection walls for 1.556 km, and river mouth opening and its maintenance. The CRZ clearance was granted for all other sub-projects. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/dec/29/crz-clearancefor-adyar-mouth-widening-put-off-2400778.html  (29 Dec. 2021)

RIVERS

Jagdish Krishnaswamy calls for a paradigm shift in the management of our rivers. https://www.harmonyindia.org/people_posts/rights-of-a-river/ 

BRAHMAPUTRA Assam Tunnel under river in advance stages of consideration with Centre: CM Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday (Jan. 01, 2022) said that the rail-cum-road tunnel project to be built under the Brahmaputra river is in advance stages of consideration with the central government. When constructed, the proposed tunnel would provide unhindered movement to the Indian Army vehicles towards the Indo-China border, especially in the wake of China’s aggressive strategy along the Arunachal Pradesh border. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/himanta-biswa-sarma-tunnel-brahmaputra-indian-army-china-arunanchal-pradesh-1894947-2022-01-02  (02 Jan. 2022)

GANGA Uttarakhand The first of a two-part interview of Dr C P Rajendran an expert in the field of paleoseismology who is deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court judgment on the Char Dham road project. “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. https://www.rediff.com/news/interview/char-dham-project-will-complicate-army-movement/20211222.htm  (28 Dec. 2021)

The final segment of a two-part interview of Dr C P Rajendran: It is a scientific fact that the Himalayas are an extremely fragile zone given to a great deal of anthropogenic activity. With hill cutting being done in a vertical manner, basic norms of road construction have not been followed, thereby only serving to worsen the situation. Destabilising these slopes is only going to cause irreversible damage. https://www.rediff.com/news/interview/char-dham-highway-damage-will-be-irreversible/20211228.htm  (28 Dec. 2021)

NMCG Video recording of “Ganga Ek Khoj” 58th lecture session delivered by Manoj Misra, Convener, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V58shxFY-rY  (28 Dec. 2021)

Tall Claims by NMCG chief:- According to now retired CEO of NMCG, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, the DO level has improved in 27 locations, the BOD levels has improved in 42 areas and the quantity of Faecal Coliform (FC) in the water has been reduced in 21 places. The important parameter to be met, keeping DO more than 5 mg/l, has now been successfully achieved and attained throughout the 2,525-km-long river, which is a proof of the improved river water quality, he said.

– He said this and more in his new book ‘Ganga: Reimagining Rejuvenating Reconnecting’, co-authored with Puskal Upadhyay, an IDAS official who has been a part of the mission.

– “The BOD level is also under the set standards, i.e. 3 mg/l, except at two stretches of the river, where it is just exceeding the limit ranging 3 mg/l – 5mg/l. Moreover, the water quality has reached Class A, the highest standard for water quality, up till Haridwar in Uttarakhand. This has been a big achievement for the mission,” Mishra said. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/rejuvenating-ganga-can-help-fight-climate-change-keep-sundarbans-alive-nmcg-chief/articleshow/88611742.cms  (31 Dec. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh नए साल के पहले दिन मां गंगा में गिरता रहा सीवेज गंगा को अविरल व निर्मल बनाने की कवायद बनारस में 1980 के दशक से चल रही है। आधा दर्जन से ज्यादा सीवेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट बना दिए गए। इसी कड़ी में गत 23 दिसंबर को PM नरेंद्र मोदी ने नगवां सीवेज पंपिंग स्टेशन व रमना एसटीपी का उद्घाटन किया था। लेकिन मां गंगा में सीवेज गिरने का सिलसिला बदस्तूर जारी है। नए साल के पहले दिन जब स्थानीय व दूर-दराज से आए तीर्थ यात्री मां गंगा में डुबकी लगा रहे थे और आचमन कर रहे थे। उस वक्त भी नगवां नाला से सीवेज का गंदा पानी मां गंगा के आंचल को दूषित कर रहा था, पर इस तरफ किसी जिम्मेदार का ध्यान नहीं गया। https://www.patrika.com/varanasi-news/city-sewerage-continues-to-fall-into-ganga-in-varanasi-7252889/  (02 Jan. 2022)

Water below Ram Temple site delaying foundation design: Trust Shriram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust’s general secretary Champat Rai along with Trust’s treasurer Govind Dev Giri made this remark after a meeting of the Trust’s office-bearers with the experts and engineers of the Larsen and Toubro and the Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd. The Trust office bearers also expressed apprehension over the possibility of the river Saryu changing its course. But they said the Trust has already announced earlier that an underground wall around the construction site would be built to stop the river water seepage and prevent it from reaching the temple foundation. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/jan/22/water-below-ram-temple-site-delaying-finalisation-of-its-foundation-design-trust-2253316.html  (22 Jan. 2021)

YAMUNA Delhi Photo blog on fisher people and Yamuna. https://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/newsdetail/index/14/21272/the-fisherman-and-the-yamuna-  (30 Dec. 2021)

In an interview with PTI, the Jal Shakti minister said the construction of the Renukaji and Lakhwar dams would be critical for the national capital’s water supply needs and also lead to “rebirth” of the river. “Like in the case of Ganga, it has been notified that all dam holding stakeholders have to discharge a particular quantum of water in non-monsoon months. Similarly, we will make it mandatory that some amount of water has to flow in Yamuna too. If effluent treatment plants are working, then fresh and treated water both will improve Yamuna’s water quality,” he said. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/govts-decision-to-build-two-new-dams-will-rejuvenate-river-yamuna-jal-shakti-minister/articleshow/88371822.cms  (19 Dec. 2021)

Opinion by By Niyati Seth and Apoorva Bamal:- While industries and urbanisation have brought about significant deterioration in the water quality of rivers and lakes across the country, an aspect that often stays concealed is the role of cultural activities in contributing to this degradation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/how-cultural-activities-are-impacting-yamuna-s-water-quality-101640795545368.html  (29 Dec. 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Save Ennore Creek ‘Close or shift thermal power plants’ Fisherfolk of 32 hamlets in Ennore on Thursday (Dec. 30) called for shutting down or shifting the polluting thermal power stations that spread harmful fly ash in their area for over four decades now. They questioned the rationale behind allowing their area to be polluted by the power stations while generating power for the development of the rest of the State.

“The fly ash is everywhere, in the air we breathe, the water we drink and even on the food we consume. When we dry fish outside, the ash forms a layer on it. When we return home from work, our people are covered with fly ash and even when it rains, the water washes down as a dark slurry due to ash deposited everywhere. Knowingly, we are feeding poison to our children,” said Rajathi of Sivanpadaiveedu while urging the government to provide them with safe drinking water.

The residents were expressing their anguish at a public hearing convened by members of a joint expert committee constituted by the Southern Bench of the NGT to prepare a detailed project report for remediation of fly ash from Ennore and to prepare a report detailing damages caused to the river basin. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/close-or-shift-thermal-power-plants-say-ennore-fisherfolk/article38073140.ece   (30 Dec. 2021)

Environmental activists urged the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to postpone the public hearing for Tangedco’s 660 MW Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) expansion project on January 6 in the wake of the increasing number of COVID cases. Durga Moorthy of the Chennai Climate Action Group (CCAG), who have been campaigning against the power project, said that people are scared over the increasing cases and it would impact people participation in the public hearing. “A large section of people, including unvaccinated, elderly, youngsters and children, are keen to attend the hearing to register their opposition but now they are scared for their health,” she said.

Environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman said volunteers of the CCAG have been campaigning in Tiruvottiyur, Ernavur, Ennore and Manali for the past one month and mobilised good support against the thermal power project. “Over the last one week, people are expressing fear over attending a crowded public hearing in the wake of increasing COVID cases. The public hearing is being held for the sake of it and anyway they won’t listen to the public view on the project. But the public hearing is a forum provided under the law to express their views. It should be held with the participation of the public. So we are planning to write a letter to the government seeking postponement of the public hearing,” he said. https://www.dtnext.in/News/City/2022/01/03020958/1336946/Power-plant-expansion-Activists-urge-govt-to-postpone-.vpf  (03 Jan. 2022)

Govt firm builds ‘illegal’ road in Kosasthalaiyar The Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation Limited (Tantransco) has started building a temporary road inside the main channel of the Kosasthalaiyar River for erecting transmission towers. The road, being allegedly built by dumping tonnes of debris and dredged sea sand, is coming up where floodwaters from Thiruvottiyur, Manali and Ponneri taluk (Araniyar-Kosasthalai River) enter the sea. This may aggravate the flood situation in the city, say environmentalists pointing to the inundation caused by rain in November.

As per official records, the corporation had obtained Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance from the Union Environment Ministry for erecting transmission tower and transmission line of 765KV from North Chennai Thermal Power Station Stage-3 to North Chennai Pooling Station in Ennore. In 15 out of 20 places, the tower foundation work has been completed and 13 transmission towers have been erected. According to Ennore fishermen, most of temporary roads built to deploy heavy machinery for construction are still intact. According to CRZ rules, the area must be restored to its original shape after the completion of construction. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jan/02/govt-firm-builds-illegal-road-in-kosasthalaiyar-2402147.html  (02 Jan. 2022)

CRP Letter signed by 51 eminent residents flays BMC’s stand Amid a standoff between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and fisherfolk from Worli over the Coastal Road interchange, a letter signed by 51 eminent Mumbai residents including a former municipal commissioner and urban planners to CM Uddhav Thackeray and minister and MLA from Worli, Aaditya Thackeray, has criticised BMC’s attempt to construct the interchange and suppress peaceful protest by fisherfolk. “We are worried that a government that claims to be pro-people and pro-environment has allowed this injustice to continue, and has done very little to address the very legitimate demands of the community,” reads the letter. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/letter-signed-by-51-eminent-residents-flays-bmcs-stand-on-coastal-road-interchange-7702805/  (03 Jan. 2022)

Odisha Kalahandi women develop IoT devices to help fish farmers The prototypes of the products – Dhivara Mitra, Krishi Dhanu and Matsya Bandhu – have been completed and patented. Dhivara Mitra is an integrated solution combining five important components of fish/prawn culture onto a single solar power operated floating device. It can move and cover the entire area of a water body with the help of an IoT enabled smart control sensor system and help in uniform distribution of feed, aeration and maintain uniformity of dissolved oxygen level. The pH measurement scale attached to the device can measure and maintain pH level of the water body proving beneficial for both fish and prawn farmers. While Matsya Bandhu is a fish/prawn feed dispenser, Krishi Dhanu is a solid fertiliser dispenser. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/dec/26/kalahandi-women-develop-iot-devices-to-help-fish-farmers-2399869.html  (26 Dec. 2021)

West Bengal Coastal villagers face threat as land ‘forcibly’ taken away  Fisherfolk allege TMC workers are threatening them to give up their land for the Digha-Mandarmoni Marine Drive in Purba Medinipur district. https://www.newsclick.in/Coastal-Villagers-Face-Threat-Livelihoods-Land-Forcibly-Taken-Away-Mamata-Dream-Project  (28 Dec. 2021)

SAND MINING

SANDRP Blog Overview 2021: Destruction of Rivers, Infrastructures, Governance The rivers and riverine communities have been going through whole range of adverse impacts on account of large scale riverbed mining operations. The illegal riverbed mining has become a pan India menace and there is hardly a river left, not being mined in the most unscientific manner.

The year 2021, despite being a pandemic year – when developmental activities and economy have faced slow down – has only seen escalation in mining related destruction. Be it threatened aquatic eco-system, precious surface and groundwater resources, costly public infrastructures or land and lives of villagers, farmers and manual miners; all have been paying a heavy price of relentless mining.

This first part of SANDRP’s Year End Overview of sand and riverbed mining sector puts together the top 10 stories from across the country showing how the mindless extraction of minor minerals has been causing major destruction to rivers and people. The following parts of the annual review would focus on state governments’ actions and judicial interventions regarding riverbed mining in 2021. https://sandrp.in/2022/01/01/riverbed-mining-india-2021-overview-destruction-of-rivers-infrastructures-governance/  (01 Jan. 2022)

Haryana 4 people, many trapped at mining site in Bhiwani  4 people have been killed and many others are feared trapped following a landslide at Dadam mining site on Saturday Jan. 1, 2022. Police said around half-a-dozen dumper trucks and some machines were buried under the debris caused by the landslide which occurred around 9 am in Tosham block. Bhiwani Chief Medical Officer Raghuvir Shandilya had earlier said that Toofan Sharma (30), a native of Bihar and Binder (23), who hailed from Baganwala in Haryana’s Jind district, have died in the incident. Deputy Superintendent of Police (Siwani) Manoj Kumar said four to five people may still be trapped under the debris. Some locals, however, claimed that the number of those trapped could be more but there was no official confirmation on this. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/10-to-15-people-missing-as-a-dozen-vehicles-busy-in-mining-buried-in-landslide-in-haryanas-bhiwani-356898  (01 Jan. 2022)

Mining work in Dadam and Khanak Pahari area resumed Friday (Dec. 31, 2021), after a two-month ban, imposed by the NGT due to pollution, was lifted Thursday (Dec. 30, 2021) https://theprint.in/india/army-called-for-rescue-as-many-still-trapped-after-landslide-at-haryana-mining-site-4-dead/793097/  (01 Jan. 2022)

The government has formed a committee to probe the landslide at the Dadam mining zone in Bhiwani district. According to officials, since the debris is of a mountain, it may take another day for it to be completely cleared. Stones were also being broken, loading was also being done. Incidentally, demolition activities in the Aravalli mountain range are banned by the Supreme Court over air pollution concerns. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/haryana-forms-committee-to-probe-landslide-at-bhiwani-mine-1894948-2022-01-02  (02 Jan. 2022)

डाडम क्षेत्र में हुए अवैध और अवैज्ञानिक खनन की पोल सेवानिवृत्त जस्टिस प्रीतम पाल कमेटी की अंतिम रिपोर्ट खोलने वाली है। कमेटी की ओर से जुटाई जा रही पहाड़ की सेटेलाइट इमेज में खनन ठेकेदार की पूरी कारगुजारी कैद है। जस्टिस प्रीतम पाल पूरे मामले पर अंतरिम रिपोर्ट एनजीटी को सौंप चुके हैं। इमेज मिलते ही अंतिम रिपोर्ट भी सौंप दी जाएगी। इसमें जिला प्रशासन की विरोधाभासी रिपोर्ट का भी भेद खुलेगा। जिला प्रशासन ने डाडम पहाड़ पर हुए अवैध व अवैज्ञानिक खनन को लेकर दो अलग-अलग रिपोर्ट सौंपी थी। दोनों आपस में मेल नहीं खाती थी, एक में बताया गया कि खनन गलत तरीके से हुआ है, जबकि दूसरी में कहा कि अवैध खनन के कोई साक्ष्य नहीं हैं। 

इस पर एनजीटी के चेयरमैन जस्टिस आदर्श कुमार गोयल का माथा ठनक गया। उन्होंने शिकायतों के मद्देनजर एनजीटी की हरियाणा इकाई के चेयरपर्सन जस्टिस प्रीतम पाल की अध्यक्षता में सात सदस्यीय समिति गठित कर दी। इसमें खनिज एवं भू-गर्भ, वन एवं अन्य क्षेत्र के विशेषज्ञ शामिल किए गए। कमेटी को धरातल की स्थिति का जायजा लेकर अपनी रिपोर्ट सौंपने के निर्देश दिए गए। 

जस्टिस प्रीतम पाल ने कमेटी सदस्यों के साथ अक्तूबर 2021 में पूरे दिन डाडम पहाड़ का दौरा किया। मौके पर सौ से डेढ़ सौ ग्रामीण मिले, जिन्होंने बेतरतीब खनन को लेकर कड़ी नाराजगी जताई। कमेटी उनके बयान रिकॉर्ड कर चुकी है। ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि खनन ठेकेदार ने वन क्षेत्र में भी खनन किया है। पहाड़ पर स्थित मंदिर तक इसकी जद में आ गया। लोगों ने कमेटी को उस समय ही बता दिया था कि अवैध खनन से बड़े हादसे का खतरा है। कमेटी सारे तथ्यों को शामिल कर अपनी अंतरिम रिपोर्ट नवंबर 2021 में एनजीटी को सौंप चुकी है। अब सेटेलाइट इमेज का इंतजार है, जिससे अवैध खनन पर मुहर लगनी बाकी है। https://www.amarujala.com/chandigarh/justice-pritam-pal-is-investigating-illegal-mining-in-bhiwani  (02 Jan. 2022)

Punjab New mining policy, a big gain & loss for farmers The government had recently come up with the new sand and gravel mining policy 2021, which states that landowners can dispose of ordinary earth extracted or removed during the leveling of their Agricultural fields up to 3-feet. Even the government advertisement states that landowners are permitted to extract up to 3-feet sand. Several farmers were already into illegal sand mining in their fields and this new policy now allows all farmers to extract up to 3 -feet earth from their fields without any environment clearance certificate. How farmers unknowingly will cause irreparable damage to their soil quality and thus its productivity implying major soil issue in the state by adopting this practice, the Indian Express explains:

Earlier, farmers were required to take environment clearance for mining their fields and as per norms, no agricultural land can be excavated upto 3-meters after procuring environment clearance certificate. If this rule was flouted then an FIR was to be registered against the owner of the land, panchayat (if it is panchayati land), forest officer (if the land belongs to the forest department), and Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPOs) or any other owner. Agriculture department officials said that Punjab government’s policy will ruin the state’s soil badly because several farmers see the short term gains and also are not aware that the soil of the upper layer is the most fertile and best one. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-in-punjabs-new-mining-policy-a-big-gain-for-farmers-and-a-big-loss-7701902/  (02 Jan. 2022)

‘Rs 25k reward for tip-off on sand mining violations’ CM Charanjit Singh Channi claiming that his government was implementing the common man’s agenda, Channi also said that the Congress government would give a reward of Rs 25,000 to every person who gives a proof or tip-off about any violation of mining norms. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ludhiana/rs-25k-reward-for-tip-off-on-sand-mining-violations-7693946/  (28 Dec. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Threat to houses, Kangra locals protest mining Baidi and Khaidara villages near Gaggal airport have decided to take on the mining mafia. Udham Singh of Khaidara said, “Unscrupulous elements are cutting hills for stones, which has posed a grave threat to around 500 houses in the village. On an average, about 50-100 tractor-trailers are being plied under the nose of the authorities. The villagers alleged local contractors of government departments were resorting to illegal mining for using the material in construction activity.

-Earlier acting on the directions of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, the PWD had stopped the payment of contractors for the want of “X” forms. The “X” forms are issued by the Mining Department certifying that the material used was mined legally. The contractors had threatened to stop work, alleging that the stone crushers and other suppliers did not issue such forms. The matter was taken up in the Vidhan Sabha by some MLAs.. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/threat-to-houses-kangra-locals-protest-mining-355633  (29 Dec. 2021)

Govt urged to follow Punjab’s policy, fix rates of sand, gravel  Punjab government has fixed the rates of sand lifted from natural rivulets at Rs 5.5 per cubic feet, and now local people are urging the Himachal government to adopt a similar policy. They allege that the rates of sand and gravel have gone up considerably in the state, raising the construction cost of residential houses. Raghav Sharma, a resident of Una, says that in Himachal, sand is being sold at rates between Rs 21 and Rs 31 per cubic feet. “People constructing houses are being fleeced and the government should fix the prices of sand and gravel at least for the state residents,” he adds.

Navneet, a government contractor, says that as the government has virtually stopped sand mining in the rivers, the construction material suppliers are fleecing them. The state Public Works Department has asked the contractors to submit M-forms to get their bills cleared. As there are not enough legal sand mines in the state, the mining material suppliers are not giving them M-forms. The government should adopt a policy to ensure easy availability of sand and gravel for developmental works, he adds. The Stone Crushers Association has also supported the demand for an objective policy on sand mining in the state. For the stone crusher owners, the government has not even allowed mechanical loading and unloading of finished and raw material.

Director Industries Rakesh Prajapati says, “The state government does not fix the rates of sand and gravel and the prices are market driven. However, if a proposal comes up from people or the Stone Crushers Association, the government may consider it”. He says that the government is mulling over excluding brick-kilns from the definition of mining. The government will take a decision soon, he adds. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/himachal-govt-urged-to-follow-punjabs-policy-fix-rates-of-sand-gravel-336970  (12 Nov. 2021)

NGT ने उना जिले की सोनभद्र नदी में हो रहे अवैध खनन को लेकर प्रशासनिक अधिकारियो की फटकार लगाई है. न्यायमूर्ति आदर्श कुमार गोयल की अध्यक्षता वाली पीठ ने 30 जुलाई को पारित एक रिपोर्ट में हिमाचल प्रदेश के मुख्य सचिव और डीजीपी को कहा है कि जल्द से जल्द अवैध खनन पर रोक लगाई जाए, उन्होंने कहा कि इससे जुड़े सभी विभागों और अधिकारियों से विचार विमर्श कर कानून व्यवस्था को बनाए रख राज्य में जल्द से जल्द अवैध खनन पर रोक लगाने की जरूरत है.

एनजीटी ने ये दलील एक याचिका की सुनवाई के दौरान दी. जिसमें कहा गया है कि केन्द्र सरकार ने स्वान नदी के नहरीकरण के लिए 922 करोड़ रूपये मंजूर किए हैं. भारी जन खर्च कर चैनलाइजेशन का काम किया गया. लेकिन खनन लाइसेंस की आड़ में राजनीतिक आश्रय रखने वाले रेत माफिया बड़े पोकलैड और जेसीबी का उपयोग कर अवैज्ञानिक तरीके से नदी के तल से रेत और अन्य समाग्री उठा रहे हैं. जो कि नियमों का घोर उल्लंघन है. सरकार और स्थानीय प्रशासन के नाक के नीचे हो रहा यह अवैध खनन, नदी और चैनलीकरण के लिए खतरा साबित होगा. https://hindi.thequint.com/news/india/the-ngt-reprimanded-the-administration-and-the-government-for-illegal-mining#read-more  (02 Aug. 2021)

सरकार ड्रोन से खनन माफिया पर नजर रखेगी। पहले चरण में तीन जिलों ऊना, सिरमौर और कांगड़ा में ड्रोन से नजर रखी जा रही है। जिला प्रशासन के पास खनिज से जुटी राशि से ड्रोन खरीदे गए हैं। जिला प्रशासन के पास खनन पट्टा मालिक प्रति टन 10 रुपये कोष में जमा करते हैं। वर्तमान में जिला उपायुक्तों के पास पांच से दस करोड़ तक राशि जमा है। खनन से होने वाले नुकसान की भरपाई के लिए डीसी राशि जारी करते हैं। यह राशि खनन क्षेत्र में पेयजल योजनाओं और सड़कों के नुकसान की क्षतिपूर्ति के लिए दी जाती है। कोष में जमा राशि से ही ड्रोन उपलब्ध कराए हैं। राज्य के जियोलॉजिस्ट पुनीत गुलेरिया कहते हैं कि पहले चरण में प्रदेश के तीन जिलों ऊना, कांगड़ा और सिरमौर में खनन माफिया पर ड्रोन से निगरानी रखी जा रही है। ये ड्रोन स्थानीय पुलिस के पास रखे हैं। खनन गतिविधियों पर निगरानी रखी जा रही है। ये ड्रोन जिलों के डीसी ने उपलब्ध कराए हैं। https://www.amarujala.com/shimla/himachal-government-to-monitor-mining-activities-with-drone-in-state   (23 July 2021)

Himachal director general of police Sanjay Kundu, who recently visited the border districts to review the situation, has issued an advisory on illegal mining to range inspector generals and superintendents of police. “In recent years, the sand mining industry has grown exponentially as a major economic activity due to the spurt in construction and urban expansion. Due to deforestation, incidents of flashfloods have increased,” Kundu said.

Under the new strategy, the districts will focus on catching the big mining mafia. “These people will work from behind the curtain and can be tied to offences only with methodical investigation. A robust intelligence will be developed for which mobile data of vulnerable areas can be analysed to find out movements during odd hours,” Kundu said. He stressed on better liaison with neighbouring states so that intelligence is shared in real-time.

The DGP said in the past three years and five months up to May 31, 2021, the state police issued 25,437 challans of illegal mining of which 21,597 were impounded and a fine of ₹15.85 crore was realised. A total of 101 cases were registered of which 94 are pending in court and offenders have been convicted in two cases and five are under investigation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/himachal-police-renew-strategy-to-clamp-down-on-illegal-mining-101626090527417.html  (12 July 2021)

NGT constituted an independent 5-member committee headed by a former judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Jasbir Singh, to give an independent report regarding alleged illegal mining at Swan river in Una district. In his application filed on February 20, the applicant alleged that the sand mafia having political shelter under the garb of a mining licence, are lifting sand and other material from the bed of the Swan river in an unscientific manner by using excavators, in utter violation of the norms and rules framed for the purpose under the nose and eyes of the local district administration and government, causing constant danger to the river and its channelisation.

The application further stated that the overloaded trucks-tippers carrying sand are damaging roads, polluting air, and causing inconvenience to the public. There is every possibility that the illegal mining may not only cause loss, damage and destruction to the channelisation work of the Swan river but also damage the bridges, leading to loss of public funds already spent for this purpose. Besides, it may cause loss to the water-level and pose a threat to the pollution-free atmosphere of Himachal Pradesh, it added.

Meanwhile, adjourning the hearing for May 10, the NGT stated that the committee may visit the site and give an independent report of facts found and remedial action required. In its four-page order, the NGT directed the SPCB and Una district magistrate to provide logistic support to the committee. The committee will be at liberty to take assistance from such other institutions, experts or individuals as necessary, the order added. Apart from constituting the five-member committee, the NGT also directed the state environment secretary, the state PCB and Una district magistrate to take remedial action to control the menace of sand mining after verifying the facts stated in the application. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/illegal-sand-mining-in-hp-ngt-sets-up-panel-headed-by-retired-judge-222873  (10 March 2021)

Uttarakhand CMO official dismissed An official of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has been dismissed for allegedly writing to the Bageshwar superintendent of police (SP) asking him to release four trucks impounded for carrying illegal mining material.  The action against the official came after the letter written by him went viral on social media platforms.

As per reports, the police had seized four trucks filled with soapstone, a talc-schist, which is a type of metamorphic rock, on suspicion that the material was extracted from illegal mining. Following this, the CMO’s official in question wrote the Bageshwar SP a letter, asking him to let off the seized trucks. The letter surfaced on social media platforms and started making waves, leading to the officer’s dismissal from service. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/uttarakhand-cmo-official-dismissed-for-asking-sp-to-release-4-trucks-seized-with-illegal-mining-material/839573  (11 Dec. 2021)

कैबिनेट में वन मंत्री हरक सिंह रावत ने शुक्रवार (Dec. 16) को माना कि कोटद्वार में दो नदियों मलान और सुखरो में अवैध खनन किए जाने के संबंध में पर्याप्त सबूत हैं और इन साक्ष्यों को देखने के बाद राज्य ने इस मामले में जांच के आदेश दे​ दिए. पीटीआई की खबर के मुताबिक रावत ने बताया कि इस मामले में एक डीएफओ यानी डिविजनल फॉरेस्ट अफसर के खिलाफ खनन में शामिल होने के आरोप हैं इसलिए उन्हें विभाग मुख्यालय अटैच किया गया है. रावत ने माना कि मानकों के खिलाफ जाकर चैनलाइजेशन के नाम पर नदियों में अवैध ढंग से खनन किया जा रहा है. https://hindi.news18.com/news/uttarakhand/dehradun-pushkar-dhami-govt-accepts-illegal-mining-in-two-rivers-harak-singh-rawat-orders-inquiry-3906185.html  (18 Dec. 2021)

सरकार ने कैबिनेट से खनन नीति में बदलाव करवाकर नवीनीकरण के सारे अधिकार निदेशालय को ट्रांसफर कर दिए. यानि स्टोन क्रशर, मोबाइल स्टोन क्रशर, स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट, प्लांट परिसर में उप खनिज भण्डारण के लाइसेंस का नवीनीकरण करने का अधिकार खनन निदेशालय के पास होगा. हैरत तब हुई जब एक अन्य आदेश के तहत नैनीताल के खनन अधिकारी राजपाल लेघा को निदेशालय में अतिरिक्त चार्ज देते हुए नवीनीकरण के कार्य का नोडल अधिकारी बनाकर बड़े अफसरों को हाशिये पर डाल दिया गया. जबकि निदेशालय में अपर निदेशक से लेकर तमाम अफसर मौजूद हैं. चर्चा यह है कि खनन विभाग के सचिव और खनन निदेशक अब नाम भर के रह गए हैं सब कुछ नोडल अधिकारी ही करेंगे, हालांकि वह फाइल तैयार करके निदेशक के सामने प्रस्तुत करेंगे लेकिन सबकुछ औपचारिक होगा.

अभी तक उत्तराखंड में स्टोन क्रशर, मोबाइल स्टोन क्रशर, स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट, प्लांट परिसर में उप खनिज भण्डारण के लाइसेंस का नवीनीकरण का कार्य शासन से होता था. शासन का मतलब, फाइल जिलाधिकारी के माध्यम से आएगी और निदेशालय उसका परिक्षण करके सचिवालय भेजेगा. सचिवालय में अनुभाग से लेकर प्रमुख सचिव स्तर तक फाइल का अवलोकन करने के बाद अनुमोदन के लिए खनन मंत्री (मुख्यमंत्री) को भेजा जाता था. उसके बाद नवीनीकरण की स्वीकृति मिलती थी. लेकिन मंत्रिमंडल की मंजूरी के बाद ये सारे अधिकार निदेशालय को दे दिए गए. https://www.abplive.com/states/up-uk/uttarakhand-government-gave-the-rights-of-governance-to-the-mining-officer-ann-1971390  (21 Sept. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh चंबल में अवैध रेत खनन मुख्यमंत्री के द्वारा माफियाओं के खिलाफ सघन अभियान चलाया जा रहा है उसके बावजूद भी मुरैना जिले में चंबल नदी के रेत का अवैध खनन खुलेआम किया जा रहा है। यह खनन प्रशासन की नाक के नीचे किया जा रहा हैं, मगर इस पर प्रशासन की कोई कार्रवाई नहीं कर रहा हैं। आइये हम आपको दिखते है कि किस तरह नदी के किनारे पर रखकर जेसीबी मशीन और हाइड्रा मशीन से चंबल का सीना छलनी किया जा रहा है। https://mpbreakingnews.in/madhya-pradesh/morena/morena-illegal-excavation-of-sand-by-thousands-of-tractor-trolleys-in-chambal-forest-department-became-silent-msa/  (31 Dec. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh भारी वाहनों से रजबहे का पुल हुआ जर्जर  मुजफ्फरनगर, पुरकाजी क्षेत्र में निर्माणाधीन फैक्टरी में रेत बजरी आदि ले जाने वाले भारी वाहनों के गुजरने से रजबहे का पुल जर्जर हो चला है। हाल यह है कि पुल के निचले हिस्से में दरार पड़नी शुरू हो गई हैं। ग्रामीण पुल के टूट जाने की आशंका को लेकर भयभीत हैं। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/muzaffarnagar/rajbeh-s-bridge-became-dilapidated-due-to-heavy-vehicles-cracks-came-muzaffarnagar-news-mrt56953626  (17 Dec. 2021)

Kerala Auditing for Sustainable River Sand Mining This study provides an overview of river Sand Auditing carried out in the State of Kerala from 2011 to 2019. The participatory approach applied increased the efficiency of the process of Sand Auditing. The quantity of sand available in rivers above the summer water level helps to decide on the sustainable river sand mining levels at each river. The standard guidelines developed for sand auditing helped to ensure that multiple agencies will follow a standard methodology. Different stakeholders use field-based data collected from 21 rivers through the cross-sectional Sand Audit surveys. This data can play a significant role in developing flood models and in formulating sustainable river basin management strategies in the context of massive floods that occurred in Kerala in 2018 and 2019. http://cwejournal.org/vol16no3/sand-auditing-for-sustainable-river-sand-mining-in-kerala–india—an-overview/  (June 2021)

Tamil Nadu Councillor, dad attacked for plaint against sand mining A woman councillor of DMK sustained injuries as she was run over by a two-wheeler, after her father lodged a police complaint about illegal sand mining at Sundararajapuram village here on Sunday (Dec. 26). According to sources, A Muthusamy, a resident of Sundararajapuram, submitted a complaint with the Seithur rural police station on December 25 stating that two people, Thamilarasan and Muniandi, were involved in illegal sand mining activities and were transporting sand through his agricultural land using tractors.

On Sunday (Dec. 26), Muthusamy was standing in front of his house along with his daughter Muthuselvi, district councillor of the 15th ward. Muniandi and his brother Muniswaran who came to the spot assaulted Muthusamy and ran Muthuselvi over with their two-wheeler and escaped from the spot. Muthuselvi, who sustained a fracture in her right leg, was admitted to Rajapalayam government hospital. Muthusamy also sustained minor injuries in the incident. Seithur police registered a case and an investigation is on. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/councillor-dad-attacked-for-plaint-against-sand-mining/articleshow/88511510.cms  (27 Dec. 2021)

Maharashtra; Goa Beach sand mining could be a permanent feature Beach shacks in Maharashtra and Goa could soon become a permanent feature, as also sand mining on beaches in the name of removal of sand bars. Further, development and production of oil and natural gas and all associated facilities like exploratory drilling operations shall be exempted from prior Coastal Regulation Zone clearance, reports Clara Lewis.

The MoEF last month issued a draft notification to further amend the CRZ notification, 2019. On removal of sand bars, it says, “The state government may permit such removal of sand in specified time period in a particular area along with specific quantity on a yearly basis.” Activists and environmentalists slammed the draft notification. Advocate Godfrey Pimenta said, “Sand bars and their vegetation cover offer natural protection against coastal flooding. Both amendments must be dropped,”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/beach-shacks-in-maharashtra-goa-could-be-a-permanent-feature/articleshow/88557215.cms  (29 Dec. 2021)

Bihar Crackdowns Fail to Stop Illegal Sand Mining Even after repeated crackdowns, illegally mined sand is sold under broad daylight in Patna in full knowledge of the police and administrative officials. https://www.newsclick.in/govt-crcakdowns-fail-stop-illegal-sand-mining-bihar  (09 Aug. 2021)

Jharkhand IIT Dhanbad to set up mining technology centre Dassault Systèmes a french software corporation, has partnered with the Technology Innovation in Exploration & Mining (TEXMiN) foundation to set up a centre of excellence in India which will provide technical support and prepare the workforce of the future, specific to the mining and allied industries.

This partnership aims at offering courses to empower students and professionals. The curricula will be designed by combining virtual worlds on the ‘3DEXPERIENCE’ platform which delivers a single source of truth to unlock the capabilities of complete digital transformation and experience the new reality of sustainable mining and metals, it added. https://www.news18.com/news/education-career/iit-dhanbad-ties-up-with-dassault-to-set-up-mining-technology-centre-4604717.html   (30 Dec. 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Kerala KCA goes ahead with plan to reclaim wetlands in Edakochi In what will slowly pave way for large-scale destruction of mangroves in Vembanad wetlands, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) has gone ahead with the proposal to reclaim a large portion of wetlands in Edakochi. The proposal of KCA to develop an international stadium, spreading over 22 acres, has been revived by planning to fill the sediments extracted from the Vembanad lake, which will be desilted very soon. The proposal to reclaim the wetlands was earlier shot down by the ministry of environment and forests headed by Jairam Ramesh after it was found violating the coastal regulation zone (CRZ)-1 rules.

The irrigation department is now planning to dredge and deepen the 1.5-km stretch of the Vembanad Lake in the first phase from Kannangattu Island to Edakochi at a cost of Rs 1.2 crore. The dredging will remove the sediment accumulated in the lake, especially after the 2018 floods. The plan is to dump the sediments extracted from the lake onto the wetland owned by the KCA as the irrigation department could not find any other place to dump it. KCA officials said that when they purchased the land in 2005, it was in CRZ-2 and there were no mangroves at the site at that time.

“As the project got delayed, mangroves grew there. When the re-categorisation of CRZ norms came, the area fell under CRZ-1 as mangroves grew in an area of 1,000 square feet and no construction was permitted. But we gave a request to the chief minister that KCA needs an international stadium and we will now approach the central government too,” Nair said. “It is suspected that the current move is to reclaim the site. If a large quantity of sediment is deposited, the area will become terrestrial land and the natural habitat of mangroves will deteriorate,” Dr P Sujanapal, a senior scientist in Kerala Forest Research Institute said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/kca-goes-ahead-with-plan-to-reclaim-wetlands-in-edakochi/articleshow/88639085.cms   (02 Jan. 2022)

Maharashtra: 2 Uran villagers jailed for obstructing tehsildar on wetland issue The two Uran villagers, Dharmendra Patil and Hemant Patil, who had earlier threatened environmentalists and also obstructed the work of Uran tehsildar while the group was officially inspecting the Panje wetland site, have been sent to jail on Saturday based on the FIR lodged by the tehsildar Bhausaheb Andhare. The FIR was lodged under IPC sections 323, 341, 353, 504 and 34 against the duo.

Pawar further said,” The last surviving wetlands of Uran will be totally destroyed if one is to heed to the villagers’ demands of choking Panje by blocking the tidal flow. I tried to explain the villagers that we are legally pursuing the matter to save these wetlands. The local Koli fishing community also want the tidal water flow to enter Panje, Dongari areas so that they can continue with their fishing occupation. However, it seems that a few local individuals do not want the natural heritage of wetlands and the lovely birds like flamingos in their area for some other financial gains.”

Tehsildar Andhare earlier said,” The local villagers have some issues with regards to the tidal water flow, which are opposed by some environmentalists. I want to state here that these are not notified wetlands at Panje-Dongari, as per our government documents. Anyhow, I had lodged the police complaint after the incident on December 29.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/maharashtra-two-uran-villagers-jailed-for-abusing-greens-and-obstructing-tehsildar-on-wetland-issue/articleshow/88637973.cms  (01 Jan. 2022)

Mumbai’s mangroves: a world in itself https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/mumbais-mangroves-a-world-in-itself/article38085992.ece  (02 Jan. 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Review Causes & implications of groundwater depletion Sustainable management of groundwater in India is vital for tackling growing challenges related to water availability. Here we discuss the challenges and opportunities related to the measurements and modelling of groundwater, groundwater recharge, cropping systems and irrigation efficiency, and social and policy reforms for sustainable groundwater management in India. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022169421001505

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Cauvery project to supply additional water by March 2023 The Cauvery Water Supply Scheme – Stage V Project, which is slated to supply an additional 775 Million Litres of Water Per Day (MLD) to nearly 50 lakh residents in the City, will be able to do so only by March 2023. The wastewater component of the project will be ready by the end of 2023, said a senior official of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB). When completed, Cauvery water will be supplied to 110 villages spread across Mahadevapura, Dasarahalli, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Byatarayanapura and Bommanahalli.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency is funding the Rs 5,500-crore project. Speaking to The New Indian Express, BWSSB Chief Engineer, Kavery, S V Ramesh, said the pandemic-induced delays had made the project miss nearly four months of work. “It has all picked up pace now, but due to the disruption in work, the first phase of the project will now be ready by the first quarter of 2023 instead of the end of 2022. A total of 35 per cent of overall infrastructure work has been completed as on date. If you take the water supply alone, 45 per cent of the work is over,” he said.

The 14 STPs will take longer to be completed, probably by the end of 2023, Ramesh said. The pandemic has also ensured a shortage of equipment required for the project. “Mammoth pumps that can pump water at the rate of 5,000 cubic metres per hour are being imported from Japan. A total of 27 such pumps needs to be installed at the three pumping stations of Thorekadanahalli (TK Halli), Harohalli and Tataguni,” he said. In addition, hundreds of huge valves being purchased from Germany are yet to be supplied. “The pandemic has ensured shorter working hours for factories there and our orders are yet to be supplied,” he added.

Laying of transmission line from TK Halli to the City, the main trunk line, seven ground-level reservoirs, seven Intermediate Sewage Pumping Stations and the STPs are the key components of the project. The City presently receives 1,450 million litres of Cauvery water per day, which is pumped from a distance of nearly 90 km. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2021/dec/28/hit-by-covid-delays-cauvery-project-to-supply-additional-water-by-march-2023-2400401.html  (28 Dec. 2021)

Surveying maps, roping in authorities and building a community for Bengaluru’s lakes “Lakes are like the organs and rajakaluve, or the storm water drains that connect them, are like nerves. Organs will not survive without the nerves,” says Captain Santhosh Kumar, an army veteran who has been volunteering towards identifying and restoring storm water drains and lakes of Bengaluru. https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/building-a-community-for-bengaluru-lakes-stormwater-drains-70922  (15 Dec. 2021)

SWD work exposes soil near pillar Storm Water Drain silting works undertaken by the BBMP close to the Halasuru Metro station have exposed an exposure of soil around a pier no. 109A, present near the Venkateshwara temple at Halasuru. As a precautionary measure, Metro trains between Indira Nagar and Halasuru, for a few days, will run on a restricted speed of 5 km/hr. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2021/dec/29/bangalore-metro-to-run-slow-after-swd-work-exposes-soil-near-pillar-2400725.html  (29 Dec. 2021)

Kochi Meet to address water shortage With the city facing acute shortage of potable water, the corporation authorities are convening a meeting of the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) officials to discuss the issue. Many parts of the city are already reeling under water shortage and the issue will worsen once the summer peaks. The work on a project to construct a plant to generate 140 MLD at Aluva conceived more than five years ago is yet to start. The total demand of water in Kochi and its suburbs is more than 500 MLD while the total supply is around 400 MLD. The KWA runs two major water treatment plants in the district — one at Aluva and the other at Maradu — which cater to the potable water needs of the city and other places in the district.

The corporation authorities are planning to chalk out measures for meeting the water requirements of the city during this summer. In the past two summer seasons, the requirement of water had declined as many of the shops, other institutions and households were closed due to the pandemic. With business and other establishments operating as normal in the city, demand for potable water has increased. “So, we will be convening a meeting of the KWA officials on Tuesday to discuss the issue. We will be exploring the possibilities of drawing a dedicated water supply line to the city from the main pumping stations so as to address the issue of water shortage,” mayor M Anilkumar said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/meet-to-address-water-shortage/articleshow/88655273.cms  (03 Jan. 2022)

Mumbai Govt to appoint authorities to check misuse of groundwater First time for Mumbai, the state government has issued a gazette notification under Maharashtra ground Water Act 2009 to appoint three district authorities–one for city, and two for suburban, to check the misuse of groundwater by tanker and well owners and take penal action. These officers will have powers to take action against those indulging in illegal extraction and commercial exploitation of groundwater without proper permissions from the groundwater and civic authorities.

It may be mentioned here that Mumbai police has registered probably India’s first and biggest groundwater theft case worth over Rs 80 crore. City collector on the directives of CGWA had appointed his additional collector to take lawful actions against well and tanker owners indulging in illegal practises and also recover from them the environmental damage compensation. The decision to act locally upon the directives of CGWA had come in after a prolonged battle waged by Suresh Kumar Dhoka crusader against illegal use of groundwater. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-govt-to-appoint-authorities-to-check-misuse-of-groundwater/articleshow/88529798.cms  (27 Dec. 2021)

Bhopal बड़ा तालाब 227 में से सिर्फ 11 कब्जे हटाकर एनजीटी को बताया- कार्रवाई कर दी  बड़े तालाब के 50 मीटर के दायरे में एक साल के भीतर 11 अवैध निर्माण हटाए गए। जो कब्जे हटाए गए हैं, वे सभी झुग्गियां हैं। इसकी रिपोर्ट नगर निगम के झील संरक्षण प्रकोष्ठ के प्रभारी अधीक्षण यंत्री संतोष गुप्ता ने हाल ही में एनजीटी के सामने पेश की है। गौरतलब है कि बड़े तालाब के 50 मीटर के दायरे में किए गए अवैध निर्माण के सर्वे के दौरान 227 अवैध कब्जे पाए गए थे, लेकिन नगर निगम की ओर से सिर्फ 11 पर कार्रवाई की गई। यह सभी अवैध कब्जे भदभदा डैम के पास आईआईएफएम के सामने के हैं।

बड़े तालाब का दायरा तय करने के लिए जिला प्रशासन और नगर निगम के अफसर पिछले 3 साल में 3 बार सीमांकन कराने की प्रक्रिया शुरू कर चुके हैं। लेकिन, आज तक 50 मीटर दायरा तय नहीं हो पाया है। इस दायरे में बने अवैध निर्माण को लेकर आए दिन विवाद की स्थिति बनती है। बावजूद इसके तालाब की हद तय नहीं हो पा रही है। बड़े तालाब में नगर निगम द्वारा बनाई गई रिटेनिंग वॉल को लेकर लंबे समय से विवाद चल रहा है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/bhopal/news/bada-talab-removed-only-11-out-of-227-possession-and-told-ngt-action-taken-128702574.html  (July 2021)

Gurugram 2 more check dam projects underway, GMDA mulls more Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) is now examining the feasibility of creating check dams in different locations in the city following their construction in the Aravali hills near Golf Course Road, which, officials said, significantly curbed urban flooding this year. Meanwhile, Bhondsi is set to get two concrete check dams by March 2022.

“We have already developed a water body in the police training centre at Bhondsi, where water used to flow down from the hills and create problems. Two concrete check dams will also be created over there by March next year, in time for the monsoon. In addition, we will be giving shape to and fixing water bodies along the Sakatpur-Gairatpur Bas treated water line,” said the official. Apart from these, this kind of intervention is not required anywhere else, according to GMDA. “There are no other areas in the Aravali hills or the city where the creation of check dams is required. If we identify a requirement later, we will develop more check dams,” said the official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/after-golf-course-rd-success-2-more-check-dam-projects-underway-gmda-mulls-more/articleshow/88511832.cms  (27 Dec. 2021)

Delhi Unearthing invisible layers of life near Bhalswa landfill The leachate from this non-engineered landfill percolates through the ground and contaminates groundwater. With lack of sewage disposal systems and leachate control drains in the surrounding communities, the groundwater is further contaminated by percolation of untreated sewage water. The handpump releases yellow water with a TDS of 5846 ppm, way above the desirable 500ppm fit for consumption.

“During monsoons, homes fill with dirty water and we have to wait 2-3 months for it to dry out. So, families tie the sleeping and kitchen platform 2.5 feet above the ground,” shared Anita. The overall air and water quality in the vicinity is dangerous and one can’t stand for too long next to the black runoff from the landfill without getting a headache.. https://citizenmatters.in/new-delhi-bhalswa-landfill-waste-pickers-recycling-livelihood-28943  (30 Dec. 2021)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Progress and problems in JJM “As on December 25, 8.70 crore (45.32 per cent) rural households from more than 1.29 lakh villages in 83 districts are receiving tap water supply. Goa, Telangana, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Puducherry and Haryana have become ‘Har Ghar Jal’ states/ UTs, i.e., 100 per cent rural households to have taps,” the Ministry data showed. Problems on the ground The Jal Shakti Ministry set out the ambitious target of providing functional household tap connection (FHTC) to the remaining 16 crore (83 per cent) households by 2024.

However, not all is hunky-dory; issues galore at implementation level. The truly remote areas that are otherwise also outside the radar of administration are still waiting. In some, the focus is on raising infrastructure for the scheme without much thought to the location/site. Case in point Anuppur, the tribal dominated Shahdol and Umariya districts in eastern Madhya Pradesh. Around here, the JJM has reached only to those areas that are easily accessible by motorable roads.

Santosh Shukla from Shahdol’s Satguru Mission, an NGO working in the field of rural development, gives the example of a tribal hamlet atop a hill, Dongariya Tola, about a 100 kms from the district headquarters, Anuppur, is where people climb up and down the hills to fetch drinking water even today.

“Where the officials can go or take people to showcase, the taps have reached only those areas. The real needy people are still waiting,” he said. Many other places, its implementation is like any other government scheme. At several places taps don’t yield water; at some places only the pipeline has been laid but no taps are there, and at some other places the taps are there, the pipelines are there but the tank from which these will get water has no connection to the source, Shukla said.

Similar is the problem in remote tribal areas of Arunachal Pradesh, which too has almost 2/3rd of mountainous area. Longding and surrounding areas in eastern Arunachal Pradesh are hilly habitations that are parched for six months of a year. Lines of plastic drums dot the sides of the lanes with people complaining that there is no fixed time for the tankers.

Said a government official from the area, on conditions of anonymity, “The springs that supply water in the mountain areas are all drying up fast. The villages along the rivers and rivulets still have some or the other hope, but places such as Longding, do not even fall in that category. Many residents take their clothes once a week to a riverbank that is about six kms away by road.

Eklavya Prasad of Megh Pyne Abhiyan, an NGO working in the water sector in that state, draws a parallel to the great learnings from the toilet building exercise carried out under the Swachcha Bharat Abhiyan in Bihar. “During the flood times, these toilets were either washed away completely or remained inaccessible due to flooding. The toilet construction should have been done keeping in mind the recurring disasters and also the fact that the facility should not just survive (the disaster) but also provide service in disaster time,” Prasad said.

Major concern for Himalayan states Among the Himalayan states and UTs, Ladakh is amongst the states to catch up fast with the Mission objectives. The UT witnesses minus 30 temperature at night in peak winters and for almost all other normal times, the day time temperature runs somewhere between zero to minus five. The public taps are never shut in this cold desert as running water does not freeze. The tanks atop the houses or hotels are wrapped to keep the cold away. And overall water availability and usage has restrictions because of the freezing cold temperatures.

Now with thermal coated pipes, the taps reaching one home at a time, several villages are becoming ‘Har Ghar Jal’ villages. While Ladakh, as yet, does not have a problem of water sources going dry, other Himalayan states such as Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh are already facing lots of problems owing to the overall water availability near the habitations.

Bringing in the mountain perspective — water scarcity hotspots, changing developmental paradigm and erratic rainfall pattern — that matter most, Vishal Singh of NGO Centre for Ecological Development and Research (CEDAR) from Uttarakhand, asserted this scheme will be successful in the mountains, only when the sources are secure. “There is a need to focus more on source sustainability. Nature based solutions –retain, recharge, release — are necessary rather than engineering solutions,” he said.

He, however, offered a point to ponder: “There is no incentive for saving water. The whole talk is about bringing water to the doorstep of the people, which is understandable. But long term sustainability needs to be regenerative and the government has offered no incentive whatsoever for people who save water and thus lessen the demand pressure.” https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/jal-jeevan-mission-not-yet-har-ghar-jal-but-getting-there-one-tap-at-a-time/articleshow/88582561.cms  (30 Dec. 2021)

Odisha Rs 831 cr Central aid for rural tap water supply The Ministry of Jal Shakti had given a massive budgetary allocation of Rs 3,323.42 crore to the State in July 2021. The Central allocation under the scheme was Rs 812.15 crore in 2020-21. Out of 85.67 lakh rural households in the State, 35.37 lakh (41.28 per cent) households have tap water supply in their homes. Water supply work is in full swing in villages and government plans to cover all the rural households by 2024.

As on date, the State has constituted 3,695 village water and sanitation committees and 2,345 village action plans have been developed. 6 implementing support agencies (ISAs) have been engaged in the State to create awareness about the mission, sensitise the village community on the importance of safe water. As many as 17,756 women have been trained to conduct water quality testing using field test kits. With focus on public health, 77 water testing laboratories have been opened where people can get their water samples tested at a nominal cost. On August 15, 2019, at the time of the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission, only 3.10 lakh (3.63 per cent) households in Odisha had tap water connections. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/jan/02/rs-831-crore-central-aid-for-tap-water-supply-to-rural-odisha-2402225.html  (02 Jan. 2022)

WATER

CWC RESERVOIR STORAGE BULLETIN OF 30.12.2021- As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 30.12.2021, live storage available in these reservoirs is 124.95 BCM, which is 72% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 126.169 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 105.111 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 133 reservoirs as per 30.12.2021 Bulletin is 99% of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 119% of storage of average of last ten years.  http://www.cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/30122021-bulletin-copy.pdf 

AGRICULTURE

Telangana Uncertainty looms large over Rabi The paddy procurement has completely overshadowed an otherwise promising agriculture year (2021-22) that has a good first half — kharif season — in terms of area covered and production in spite of excess rains having adverse impact on some of the major crops, mainly cotton and pulses.

– “Farmers in the State are in a strange situation of having abundant water in projects this season but not in a position to raise paddy on a large scale. It would have easily crossed 60-lakh acre mark this rabi against about 53 lakh acres covered in the last rabi,” a senior official said.

– Uncertainty looms large also over the procurement of entire paddy produce of the kharif season as the Centre/Food Corporation of India (FCI) has agreed to procure an additional 10 lakh tonnes of paddy over 60 lakh tonnes agreed upon initially.

– Against the production of paddy estimated by the Ministry of Agriculture at about 75.4 lakh tonnes from 59.35 lakh acres cultivated, the State government has put the production at around 1.4 crore tonnes from 61.95 lakh acres. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/abundant-water-aside-uncertainty-looms-large-over-rabi-in-telangana/article38057871.ece  (28 Dec. 2021)

Karnataka Farmers Stare at Bleak Future Excessive rains have damaged over Rs 11,000 crore worth crops in Bengaluru Rural, Tumkur, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagar, Chitradurga, Chikkamagluru, Shivamogga and Hassan district. https://www.newsclick.in/karnataka-farmers-stare-bleak-future-submerged-fields-damage-crops-devastate-livelihoods  (30 Dec. 2021)

Gujarat Over 30 talukas in record unseasonal rainfall Over 30 talukas in the northern districts and the Kutch region of Gujarat experienced unseasonal rainfall in the intervening night of Monday (Dec. 27) and Tuesday (Dec. 28). The rainfall is expected to damage standing crops in these districts. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has also issued an alert for dense fog in parts of Saurashtra and Kutch on Tuesday (Dec. 28). https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/over-30-talukas-in-gujarat-record-unseasonal-rainfall-7694560/  (28 Dec. 2021)

The unseasonal rains have triggered fears of damage to standing crops. Kankrej taluka of Banaskantha recorded the highest of 21 mm rainfall in the state, followed by Posina in Sabarkantha district with 12 mm rainfall. Both are northernmost districts of Gujarat bordering Rajasthan. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/gujarat-fear-of-crop-damage-after-rain-7695496/  (28 Dec. 2021)

Odisha Govt seeks satellite solution to find ‘genuine’ paddy cultivators  The government has roped in the Odisha Space Application Centre (ORSAC), a state body for space tech applications, to map the crop areas through satellite. After facing state-wide protests from farmers over alleged irregularities in paddy procurement, the Odisha government is trying to create a database of “genuine” paddy cultivators by mapping crop area and production through satellite imagery and matching it against existing records.

A pilot project has been launched in 7 of the state’s 30 districts — Sambalpur, Bargarh, Subarnapur, Bolangir, Nuapada, Kalahandi and Koraput. “We had received a lot of fake registrations under the online paddy procurement automation system. This, too, had led to confusion and certain kinds of irregularities. Through mapping, we will be able to remove fake cultivators and not issue any tokens in their names so that actual farmers are able to participate in procurement without hassle,” said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ponds-and-forests-shown-as-farm-land-odisha-seeks-satellite-solution-to-find-genuine-paddy-cultivators-7693861/   (28 Dec. 2021)

Kerala Govt promotes urban farming The cost of the vertical garden structure is Rs20,000 and State Horticultural Mission provides 75 percent subsidy in the initial period. A unit will have 16 pots and the buyer will get all the necessary items, including fertilizers and seeds too, upon buying a structure. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/kerala-govt-promotes-urban-farming-offers-75-subsidy-horticulture-mission-arka-vertical-garden-1.6323566  (02 Jan. 2022)

POST MONSOON 2021

SANDRP Blog Post Monsoon 2021: District wise Rainfall in India According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), during the just concluded Post Monsoon Rainfall for 2021, that included rainfall during Oct-Dec months, India received 177.7 mm rainfall, 43.54% above normal rainfall of 123.8 mm. In the same period last year, India received 124.6 mm rainfall, 0.64% above the normal rainfall. As per IMD definition, the rainfall was in surplus category.

This three-month period from Oct 1, to Dec 31 includes the North East Monsoon that mainly affects parts of South India including Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Rayalseema, parts of Karnataka and Kerala. However, since the South West Monsoon had not yet withdrawn from the country by Sept 30, a significant proportion of the rainfall in October was contribution of the SW monsoon. This was similar situation in 2019 and 2020 too. https://sandrp.in/2021/12/31/post-monsoon-2021-district-wise-rainfall-in-india/  (31 Dec. 2021)

IMD 2 WDs to bring rainfall across northwest, central India While the first disturbance extends from January 3-6, the second is expected to occur between January 7 and January 9, the department said. The first distrurbance and its associated induced cyclonic circulation is likely to affect northwest India from January 3 is likely to cause widespread rainfall or snowfall during between January 3 and 7 with the possibility of isolated heavy snowfall/rainfall over Jammu & Kashmir on January 4-5 and over Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand on January 5.

“We are expecting widespread rains over northwest India and parts of central India till January 9 with chances of heavy rain on January 5 and 6 and January 8 and 9. Due to two intense western disturbances back to back, day temperatures may be lower than normal and there is likely to be overcast sky. Night temperatures are likely to be above normal. There is likely to be widespread rain over Delhi also on January 5 and 7. Due to the effect of the second disturbance, there will be rainfall and hailstorm in Telangana, Vidarbha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand also,” said RK Jenamani, senior scientist, national weather forecasting centre at IMD. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/2-western-disturbances-to-bring-rainfall-across-northwest-central-india-imd-101641147865038.html  (02 Jan. 2022)

Chennai 20cm rainfall in 5 hours. IMD couldn’t foresee it “We expected moderate rain on Thursday (Dec. 30). But extremely heavy rain occurred in a small area covering parts of Chennai and its suburbs… between 4.30pm and 10pm. As of now, we do not have the science to forecast such localised, short span extreme events. So, we started broadcasting rainfall alerts and issued a red category warning when we noticed such an event was unfolding,” said S Balachandran, deputy director general of meteorology, IMD Chennai

“We have short and medium-term weather forecasts but these events are not captured in those. There are continuous changes in the atmosphere, a dynamic process just like the human body. We do not expect such rainfall events during this time of the year but we have to expect the unexpected now in weather,” he added. According to Balachandran, the heavy rainfall may be attributed to the interaction between moist, low-level easterlies with the westerly winds, but other interactions may have also taken place.

IMD director general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said about the Chennai rainfall, “This may have happened because of the interaction of northwesterly winds from northwest India and easterlies from the northeast monsoon. There was a trough near the Tamil Nadu coast and a deep trough in the northwesterlies. We were expecting heavy rain from December 31 but not on December 30. The impact of the interaction was advanced, which we did not foresee. It’s important to remember that this was a localised event and short spanned.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/chennai-got-20cm-rainfall-in-5-hours-imd-explains-why-it-couldn-t-foresee-it-101641098959500.html   (02 Jan. 2022)

According to the IMD, an easterly trough, an elongated region of low pressure, which triggered a downpour in Chennai and the suburbs on Thursday (Dec. 30), was originally supposed to bring heavy spells to districts south of the city on Friday (Dec. 31). Instead, it moved fast over the Bay of Bengal, suddenly pushing the rain clouds over the city. Once it reached over the coast, it remained stationary for a long time. This brought heavy rainfall to the city on Thursday (Dec. 30). The ground and satellite observations did not pick up this sudden movement. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/why-imd-could-not-forecast-thursdays-heavy-rainfall-in-chennai/articleshow/88614828.cms  (31 Dec. 2021)

Maharashtra Mumbai, Konkan region witnessed 3.7mm sea level rise every year between 2006-2018 Maharashtra has witnessed around 175 incidents of extreme rainfall events in 31 districts and about 189 incidents of untimely rainfall in 36 districts in the last 5 years besides a four-time rise in extreme drought events to around 80 in 2010-19 from 17 in 1990-99 which all can be attributed to the climate change, indicated a report by Inter Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change. The report was presented by state principal secretary for environment and climate change Manisha Mhaiskar at a function held at the central hall of the state assembly on Thursday (Dec 30 2021). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-konkan-region-witnessed-3-7mm-sea-level-rise-every-year-between-2006-2018/articleshow/88477942.cms  (24 Dec. 2021)

Kerala State set to witness extreme weather events in 2022 The variations in weather, brought on by the effects of climate change, is set to continue in Kerala in the new year too. Extreme weather events like intense rain, heat waves and below-normal cold are in store for the state, according to a top scientist with the India Meteorological Department.

Though the state witnessed unprecedented flooding in several parts in 2018, the fact is that 2021 recorded the highest rainfall over the past 60 years and the sixth highest over the past 120 years. While 2018 saw a rainfall of 3,520.2mm, the just concluded year had the state netting a record 3,610.2mm.K Santhosh, director of the Meteorological Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, said the Arabian Sea generated six low-pressure systems, two depressions and two cyclones in 2021. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2022/jan/02/kerala-set-to-witness-extreme-weather-events-in-2022-2402137.html  (02 Jan. 2022)

FLOOD 2021

Jharkhand Coal town bridge caves in after flash floods A flash flood in river Barkar caused due to  record rainfall of 309mm in Dhanbad, led to a portion of the  Purbi Tundi -Jamtara Bridge to cave in early on Friday (Oct. 1, 2021), leading to disruption in traffic. The incident took place due to strong current of water in the river washing away the soil accumulated for the ongoing repair work and resultant increase of load on the existing pillars. Local residents said that that several pillars of the bridge constructed 15 years ago were in dilapidated condition for long and repair work of the bridge has also been initiated recently according to which huge amount of silt has been deposited on the both the ends of bridge to provide support.

Meanwhile, the incessant also led to increase of water level in Maithon dam situated on river Barakar which as per records of the office the Manager Reservoir Operations of  Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) has reached 492 feet around 3 feet below the highest storage level of 495 feet on Friday morning at around 10 am. In Panchet dam situated on river Damodar, the water level has also reached to 427 feet three feet below the danger level of 430 feet. Apurba Saha, Public Relation Officer of DVC at Maithon said, “The situation is not good as we have to release 1.4 lakh cusecs of water cumulatively from Maithon and Panchet on Thursday and due to grim situation of flood in Asansol we are further storing the water in dam.”  https://www.telegraphindia.com/jharkhand/coal-town-bridge-caves-in-after-flash-floods/cid/1833022  (01 Oct. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Thalavanur dam demolition bid fails On Sunday (Nov. 14, 2021), officials began the demolition process but the structure across Thenpennai river could not be brought down as the explosives used were weak. Collector D Mohan, who inspected the sluices, said the dam will be demolished to stop further erosion of the river banks and prevent water from flooding nearby villages.

The damaged right sluice before the demolition attempt | Express

When a sluice gate on the left side of the dam broke in January 2021. It was not repaired immediately as the elections were around the corner and a new government took over in May. In August, officials said a proposal to reconstruct the dam has been sent to the State government and has not been approved yet.

Due to monsoon rains, another sluice in the right side was damaged on Tuesday (Nov. 9, 2021) after the Saathanur dam in Tiruvannamalai district opened shutters recently. The river bank near the damaged right sluice eroded as the inflow from Saathanur dam was increased to 3,300 cusecs on Saturday (Nov. 13, 2021). It took a mere 8-9 hours for the river bank to erode after water was released from Saathanur dam. Hence, explosives were used to demolish the dam, but the efforts were in vain as the structure could not be brought down. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/nov/15/tamil-nadu-thalavanur-dam-demolition-bid-fails-2383672.html  (15 Nov. 2021)

URBAN FLOODS

Chennai A red alert has been issued for Chennai and three adjoining districts after heavy rain led to waterlogging in several areas. 3 people died in rain-related electrocutions in Tamil Nadu on Thursday (Dec. 30, 2021), state minister for revenue and disaster management K. K. S. S. R. Ramachandran said.

Chennai, Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur, and Chengalepattu are the districts where a red alert, which indicates heavy to extremely heavy rains of over 20 cm in 24 hours, has been issued. Schools, colleges and non-essential government offices in these districts will remain closed on Friday. Up to 20 cm of rains have flooded the capital city Chennai as a cyclonic circulation along the coasts triggered heavy rainfall. Waterlogging has led to traffic congestion, causing hardship for commuters who were unprepared for severe rainfall. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/3-deaths-after-heavy-rain-in-tamil-nadu-parts-of-chennai-waterlogged-2680464  (31 Dec. 2021)

Thousands of motorists and commuters were stranded for several hours on arterial roads in Chennai on Thursday evening as waterlogging caused by sudden and incessant heavy rain led to a gridlock. The city last witnessed such a situation in November 2015.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/chennai-gridlocked-for-hours-after-intense-rains/article38073692.ece  (30 Dec. 2021)

They may not be front-runners in water management — there are more glowing examples across Chennai. But given the limiting factors, one of them being age, Aditya Ashwin Apartments and Anand Apartments on Dr Ranga Road have done well and achieved results, which were on display this monsoon.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/the-cloudburst-of-december-30-the-surprises-on-the-ground/article38092261.ece  (02 Jan. 2022)

Fight to preserve its wetlands and stay above water The monsoons in Chennai failed three years consecutively (2016-2018) which resulted in the reservoirs drying up; residents depended on ground water, desalination plants and water trucked into the city from kilometres away. A new Integrated Storm Water Drain system was started by the Chennai Corporation after the 2015 floods, however there are delays in project completion, due to which many houses and low-lying areas were flooded again in 2021.

There are efforts from the government of Tamil Nadu to conserve the Pallikaranai marsh, the last remaining freshwater marsh that acts like a sponge storing the heavy monsoon rains and releasing them during dry months. The recent inauguration of a walkway in Pallikaranai, complemented by other Government and Court orders and increased public awareness are seen as steps in conserving what’s left of the shrinking wetland. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/12/chennais-fight-to-preserve-its-wetlands-and-stay-above-water/  (29 Dec. 2021)

DISASTERS

Centre Rs 3,000 cr additional assistance to states for natural disasters The Union government has approved additional assistance of more than Rs 3,000 crore to six states this year to cover damages caused by natural disasters, a Home Ministry statement said Thursday (Dec. 30). Gujarat was granted Rs 1,133.35 crore for Cyclone Tauktae and West Bengal received Rs 586.59 crore for Cyclone ‘Yaas’. Similarly, for disasters such as floods and landslides during the monsoon, Assam was granted Rs 51.53 crore, Karnataka was given Rs. 504.06 crore, Madhya Pradesh got Rs 600.50 crore and Uttarakhand Rs 187.18 crore.

“The High Level Committee (HLC), under the Chairmanship of the Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah, has approved additional Central assistance under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), to six States, which were affected by floods, landslides and cyclones during 2021,” said the statement. In all, the additional assistance comes to Rs 3,063.21 crore. This assistance is over and above the funds released by the Centre to states in the State Disaster Response Fund. During this fiscal, the Centre released Rs 17,747.20 crore to 28 states in their SDRF, the Home Ministry said. “Further Rs. 3,543.54 crore has been released to 7 States from NDRF,” the statement said.

According to Home Ministry data presented in Parliament, 1,989 people died in national disasters in 2020-21. As many as 11,85,137 houses were damaged and 66.67 lakh hectares of crops were destroyed. According to the ministry, Rs 1,000 crore was released in advance from NDRF to Gujarat on May 20 and Rs 300 crore to West Bengal on May 29 in the aftermath of Cyclone ‘Taukte’ and ‘Yaas’. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/centre-approves-rs-3000-cr-additional-assistance-to-states-for-natural-disasters-7698632/  (30 Dec. 2021)

PIB release covering this. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1786335  (30 Dec. 2021)

Report 8 Major Weather Disasters India Witnessed in 2021 https://thedialogue.co.in/article/43MhKz890pyTRAXDhnkv/glacier-outbursts-to-cyclones-to-floods-8-major-weather-disasters-india-witnessed-in-2021  (28 Dec. 2021) 

Uttarakhand आपदाओं से जूझते बीता साल 2021 https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/climate-change/climate-crisis/uttarakhand-year-2021-battling-disasters-80889  (28 Dec. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh 150 people rescued Police rescued at least 40 vehicles and around 150 persons from Prashar lake, who had been stuck due to heavy snowfall in Mandi district after 12 hours of operation last night. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/150-people-trapped-near-himachal-pradeshs-prashar-lake-due-to-heavy-snowfall-rescued-2673921  (27 Dec. 2021)

LANDSLIDES

Uttarakhand About 50 metre stretch of Kotdwar Duggada highway falls into Khoh river following a rockslide on Dec. 28. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvV-0fLsYQg

Helang Urgam road in Joshimath closed following landslide; around 300 tourist also stuck there on Dec. 30. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_imtiIBp_3c 

Reminiscing Himalayan Glaciers 2020 by GSI. https://employee.gsi.gov.in/cs/groups/public/documents/document/b3zp/oti5/~edisp/dcport1gsigovi929547.pdf 

RENEWABLE ENERGY  

Opinion Unguided quest for solar energy is bringing about ecological & cultural erasure by Abi T. Vanak; M.D. Madhusudan While it is true that renewable energy projects are well-meaning and seek to reduce our reliance on an energy economy pivoted on fossil fuels, more attention needs to be paid to how and where these projects are established. Sadly, so far they have remained ill-conceived and poorly implemented efforts, paying little heed both to the ecological riches and diversity in the ONEs, and to the human livelihood and cultures that these lands support. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/how-indias-unguided-quest-for-solar-energy-is-bringing-about-ecological-and-cultural-erasure/article38077440.ece  (01 Jan. 2022)

Ladakh Power ministry to decide on way to develop Rs 27K cr for transmission system Stopping short of making a clear recommendation on how the transmission system for the planned renewable energy projects in Ladakh should be awarded for development, the national committee on transmission (NCT) has asked the Union power ministry to take a final call on whether to follow the regulated tariff mechanism (RTM) or to choose the tariff based competitive bidding (TBCB) route.

At September price levels, the estimated cost of the transmission system is Rs 26,966.5 crore which can evacuate power from 9,000 mega-watt (MW) of solar and 4,000 MW of wind plants, along with 12 giga-watt-hour (GWh) battery energy storage system (BESS) capacities at the planned renewable energy parks in the area. https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/power-ministry-to-decide-on-way-to-develop-rs-27000-crore-for-transmission-system/2396391/  (03 Jan. 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

NGT overview of 2021 NGT disposed of 2,288 matters and received 2,083 applications through video conferencing in 2021. The Tribunal followed virtual hearings at its all benches. The Tribunal on its own undertook matters relating to industrial accidents which caused fatalities and directed for compensation, an official statement said here.

The Tribunal dealt with many issues relating to the water quality of rivers which included Ganga, Yamuna, Ghaggar, Hindon, Satluj and others. The Tribunal specifically, emphasised on rejuvenation of the river Ganga and this matter was transferred by the Supreme Court. The issues on river cleaning are comprehensively dealt which relates to the restoration of water quality of 351 polluted river stretches, it said.

The Tribunal also dealt with air pollution, based on the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data on air quality, observed that there are 124 non-attainment cities exceeding ambient air quality norms. The Tribunal has reviewed the collated data on the status and directed it accordingly. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=910514  (01 Jan. 2022)

This also highlights NGT performance in 2021 without any critical observations. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/national-green-tribunal-resolved-to-address-environmental-disputes-in-2021/articleshow/88646205.cms  (02 Jan. 2022)

LIFE:- Disposal of cases is not and cannot be a yardstick to judge the quality of an institution. Every case dismissed is also treated as disposed. It is important to focus on whether appeals were allowed/ relief granted as sought by petitioners. The fact is that most Appeals were in fact dismissed by the NGT – Judicial institutions should be judged by quality of decisions and not by numbers of cases disposed off. Courts are not publication houses to be judged by numbers of copies sold. https://twitter.com/lifeindia2016/status/1477465812227092480?s=20  (02 Jan. 2022)

MoEF Average time for EC down to less than 90 days The average time to grant environmental clearances in all sectors has reduced significantly from over 150 days in 2019 to less than 90 days in 2021 said the MoEF on Dec. 29. The clearance time is as low as 60 days in some sectors, it added. The ministry has granted environmental clearances to 7,787 projects through environment impact assessment (EIA) notifications in 2021, the statement added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/average-time-for-environmental-clearance-down-to-less-than-90-days-govt-101640804729495.html  (30 Dec. 2021)

Measures to conserve Western Ghats to be delayed by 6 months Measures to conserve the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats will be delayed by another six months after the central government extended the deadline to notify the new rules till June 30 citing difficulties in consultations due to the coronavirus pandemic, a notification from the Union environment ministry stated. Earlier, the deadline was set to expire on December 31. The union environment ministry issued a notification on December 31 amending the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986. In rule 5, sub-rule (3) and clause (d), “for the words, letters and figures 31st December, 2021, the words, letters and figures 30th June, 2022 shall be substituted,” the notification stated. The clause applies to prohibition or restrictions imposed by the government on the location of industries or the carrying on of processes and operations in an area.

After floods and landslides in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and Kerala last year, experts had called for an immediate demarcation of the ecologically sensitive areas. The government intends to prohibit or restrict industrial and developmental activities in some 37% of the area of the mountain range, an area of 59,940 sq km spread over five states. The environment protection act rules enjoin the central government to consider all observations and objections within 120 days of publication in the official gazette, and impose the new curbs within 180 days which has been now been amended to extend the timeline. The five Western Ghats states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat – have opposed several of the measures. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/measures-to-conserve-western-ghats-to-be-delayed-by-6-months-101641146425111-amp.html  (03 Jan. 2022)

Review of MoEF work during 2021:- Expect a bleak 2022 after attempts at dilution in environmental laws in 2021: Experts. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/expect-a-bleak-2022-after-attempts-at-dilution-in-environmental-laws-in-2021-experts/88513756  (27 Dec. 2021)

Submit report over allegations of forest encroachment in Shivamogga Based on a complaint against four senior Karnataka forest department officials, who are accused of helping a family encroach forest land at Sagar taluk in Shivamogga district to use it for non-forestry purposes, the MoEF has directed the state government to ascertain the facts of the case and take punitive action if the officials are found to be guilty.

The direction, issued on December 9, also mentioned that the additional chief secretary, department of environment and forest should submit a progress report. The complainant Ganapathi D stated in its complaint to the Central Empowered Committee, constituted by the Supreme Court of India, and to the officials of the Karnataka government that the alleged errant officials from the forest department had turned blind eye to a family who had encroached the forest land.

The Karnataka High Court in its March 4 order stated that if any officers are responsible for allowing non-forest activities in the forest land, criminal law should be set in motion by the state government against them. It also prohibited the state government from denotifying forest land without Central government’s prior permission. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/union-forest-ministry-asks-karnataka-government-to-submit-report-over-allegations-of-forest-encroachment-in-shivamogga-7695978/  (29 Dec. 2021)

Tweaks in green laws may dilute safeguards, warn experts  The government has recently tabled draft legislations in Parliament to modify laws on biodiversity conservation and wildlife protection to improve ease of business that activists said could dilute environmental safeguards in the country. The draft laws are the latest in a series of tweaks carried out the central government to reform processes related to environmental and forest approvals for infrastructure and developmental projects. However, several provisions in the draft laws introduced in Parliament could weaken environmental regulations, lawyers and researchers said.

“The standing committee of the state board for wildlife is a derogatory step, as it will replicate the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife, which had led to a situation where the national board rarely meets and all decisions are taken by a select group of members of the standing committee, who are chosen by the environment minister,” said noted environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta. “The aim of constituting the standing committee of the state board is to exclude vocal conservationists from the decision-making process. All powers will now be vested with a small group headed by the state minister in charge of forest and wildlife.”

Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at Centre for Policy Research said, “The government is redesigning environmental laws to enable the unlocking of natural resources, asking fewer ecological questions and reducing standards of public involvement in decision-making.” Several new guidelines, policies were released by the ministry this year to ease provisions for mining, expansion of industries, and facilitate defence and security infrastructure. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/tweaks-in-green-laws-may-dilute-safeguards-warn-experts-101640542720417.html  (27 Dec. 2021)

Why the proposed amendment to Biodiversity act has triggered trepidation by Rishika Pardikar. https://carboncopy.info/why-the-proposed-amendment-to-indias-biodiversity-act-has-triggered-trepidation/  (31 Dec. 2021)

Nicobar Public hearing on Jan. 27 for development project  Great Nicobar’s development will have environmental impacts, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report has said ahead of a public hearing on January 27 for a project involving the construction of an International Container Transhipment Terminal, a greenfield airport, a residential township and a 450 MVA gas/solar-based power plant there. NITI Aayog has conceptualised the Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands project.

Kanchi Kohli said a proposal of this scale and intent required a socio-ecological assessment at the design and planning stage and not downstream in the decision-making process. “The public hearing and impact assessment process is being carried out in the shadow of the government’s intent to transform the demographic and ecological character of the islands. What will be up for the challenge will be whether the legal process and scientific assessments will be amenable to a predetermined outcome of the government’s version of holistic development.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/public-hearing-on-january-27-for-great-nicobar-development-project-101640943466176.html  (31 Dec. 2021)

Odisha Crackdown on villagers protesting against JSW Utkal project In the latest confrontation between Odisha authorities and local residents opposed to JSW Utkal Steel’s upcoming project in Jagatsinghpur district, at least six protestors were injured in a police lathi charge and two arrested. Locals alleged police repression. Monday’s (Dec. 20) incident in the coastal village of Dhinkia took place after hundreds of protestors joined a demonstration against demarcation work for a new revenue village — a small administrative unit with defined borders, headed by a village administrative officer — in Dhinkia panchayat named Mahala. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/odisha-police-crack-down-on-villagers-protesting-against-jsw-utkal-project-locals-allege-repression-7852141.html  (22 Dec. 2021)

Kerala Kasaragod collector rejects NHAI appeal to lower compensation Kasaragod district collector Bhandari Swagat Ranveerchand rejected the petitions of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to lower the compensation awarded to people who gave up their land and houses for the widening of NH-66.

The collector’s order also reverses the decision of her predecessor D Sajith Babu who unilaterally brought down the base price of the acquired land in Kasaragod village to Rs 10,229 per square metre or Rs 4.14 lakh per cent from Rs 13,776 per sqm or Rs 5.58 lakh per cent. “The collector’s decision is a big relief to us,” said MN Prasad, who is losing a commercial building to the NH widening project. In Kasaragod town, plots are sold for around Rs 10 lakh to Rs 14 lakh per cent. “So when the previous collector reduced the base price from Rs 5.58 lakh to Rs 4.14 lakh, we were in for a shock,” said Ranganath Mallya, a member of the committee of Sri Varadaraja Venkataramana Temple. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/dec/29/nh-66-widening-kasaragod-collector-rejects-nhai-appeal-to-lower-compensation-2400894.html  (29 Dec. 2021)

Uttarakhand CTS: No sanction as govt pushes work, cost up 6 times The government started work on a tiger safari facility in Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) months before it received forest clearance in September from the MoEF, and strikingly much beyond the scope of the Rs 24.60 crore project that was approved. Documents reviewed by The Indian Express show the state embarked on a construction spree worth at least Rs 157 crore — six times the approved project cost of Rs 24.60 crore — without any legal, administrative, or financial sanction.

The project was initially envisaged as an animal rescue facility with open-to-air enclosures and an interpretation centre for tourists. But the state went ahead with unapproved works such as construction of 18 buildings with at least 60 rooms with attached bath at four locations around the tiger safari, creation of a water body requiring felling of trees to attract wildlife for tourists, and reinforcement of a forest road with provisions to widen it as a highway. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/corbett-tiger-safari-no-sanction-as-state-pushes-work-cost-up-six-times-7698848/  (31 Dec. 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Energy transitions, biodiversity-climate change links Mongabay-India, all through 2021, documented the status of the country’s environment and future hopes and challenges. With over 500 stories, maps, videos and webinars, it shone the light on developments in energy transition, biodiversity, climate change and more. Top stories of the year. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/12/editors-review-2021-energy-transitions-biodiversity-climate-change-links/  (31 Dec. 2021)

EDIT in Deccan Herald: The role of glaciers in holding the world together has not entered the public consciousness at all. But the threat from the receding glaciers is real and coming generations will have to pay a heavy price for our neglect. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/an-urgent-but-out-of-sight-threat-1065992.html  (30 Dec. 2021)

Context of the Edit: The study reveals that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking far more rapidly than glaciers in other parts of the world. https://www.deccanherald.com/science-and-environment/himalayan-glaciers-melting-at-exceptional-rate-says-new-study-1062949.html  (20 Dec. 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

China’s building spree casts shadow over Himalayan ecosystem China’s role in Nepal has intensified in the period since the 2015 earthquake, mostly in the form of investments in rebuilding projects. In 2019 alone, China initiated a series of projects, including factories and hydropower plants, worth $2.4 billion in Nepal.

– Many of the infrastructure projects run through sensitive environments, including national parks, and the construction of hydropower plants has been criticized by environmental organizations and local communities for destroying river ecosystems.

– For example, work on the Rasuwagadhi hydroelectric project, part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, resumed in 2016, despite protests from locals who blamed the dam for mass fish deaths. https://news.mongabay.com/2021/12/chinas-building-spree-in-nepal-casts-shadow-over-himalayan-ecosystem/  (31 Dec. 2021)

ASIA

MEKONG Environmental impacts of hydropower on the Mekong? Hydropower dams have had a dramatic effect on the Mekong river over the last two decades, resulting in unseasonable flooding and droughts, low water levels in the dry season, and drops in the amounts of sediment carried by the river, with drastic consequences for biodiversity and fisheries. Exacerbated by climate change and a lack of cross-border communication, the cumulative effects of mainstream dams present a danger to the forests, mangroves and

Illustration: Arati Kumar-Rao/Third Pole

The Mekong’s wider biodiversity relies heavily on the natural and predictable flooding and receding, or pulse, of the river’s waters. Beach-nesting birds and fish are seriously impacted by unseasonable flooding of the Mekong caused by dams and water releases. The decline in the Mekong’s fisheries alone is predicted to cost nearly USD 23 billion by 2040 and poses risks to riparian communities and indigenous peoples who rely on fish for sustenance and livelihoods. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/energy/what-are-the-impacts-of-dams-on-the-mekong-river/  (30 Dec. 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Texas witnesses a rare weather phenomenon as fish ‘rain’ from the sky ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’, the saying goes. But in Texarkana, a city in Texas, it ‘rained’ fish on Thursday (Dec. 30). Many Texarkana residents were surprised when they saw fish dropping from the sky along with rain. Reporting about the bizarre metrological phenomenon, the official Facebook page of The City of Texarkana, Texas, said, “2021 is pulling out all the tricks… including raining fish in Texarkana today.”

The phenomenon, known as ‘animal rain’, is said to be caused by tornadic waterspouts. Elaborating, they explained, “Animal rain is a phenomenon that occurs when small water animals like frogs, crabs, and small fish are swept up in waterspouts or drafts that occur on the surface of the earth. They are then rained down at the same time as the rain. While it’s uncommon, it happens, as evidenced in several places in Texarkana today.” “Animal rain” has previously been reported in places like California and northwestern Serbia. https://indianexpress.com/article/trending/trending-in-india/texas-witnesses-a-rare-weather-phenomenon-as-fish-rain-from-the-sky-7702542/  (03 Jan. 2022)

UK Oxford river swimmers criticise Christmas Day sewage release Dr Tolan said: “Every week we have to check for notifications of sewerage releases before being sure that it’s safe to swim. “It seems that what should be a very last resort in the case of extreme emergency has become a very common tactic of convenience for the water companies.” https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-59801299  (28 Dec. 2021)

Study Microplastics polluting seas; soil A study in Germany presents an environmental regional model to analyse plastic emissions in the country’s agricultural soils. https://scroll.in/article/1011411/  (27 Nov. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 27 Dec. 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 20 Dec. 2021  

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

One thought on “DRP NB 03 Jan 2022: Are we any safer from Dam Disasters?

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