DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 10 Jan 2022: Positive Groundwater stories from TN, Haryana

It’s rather rare that we have some positive stories related to groundwater. This week we have two: One each from Tamil Nadu and Haryana. A recent performance audit report, the CAG has lauded the Tamil Nadu Govt for regulating industry’s groundwater extraction. The CAG has also lauded TN for adopting ‘firka’(which are smaller than blocks and encompasses 10-15 villages) as the assessment unit in 2011 because this is expected to help in identification of pockets of groundwater potential within the over- exploited and critical blocks.

In TN, the regulation for groundwater management and issue of no-objection certificates for groundwater extraction authorises the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Bureau of Indian Standards to accord permission only after ensuring that applicants have got the no-objection certificates. All schemes should be formulated through the State Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre, Chennai. However, TN has a long way to go as it has one of the highest extraction rate of groundwater and it is still in the process of formulating fresh regulations for other sectors.

In Haryana, the story is about village level groundwater assessment by the Haryana Water Resources (Conservation, Regulation and Management) Authority (HWRA) for the first time. It is a useful first step as it provides a clearer picture of state of groundwater and also provides clearer guidelines about the steps necessary to address the issue.

In both states, there is a long way to go in terms of achieving sustainable and equitable groundwater use and management. But it is good to see these positive developments in otherwise bleak situation. 

Tamil Nadu Govt lauded for regulating industry’s GW extraction Pointing this out in its performance audit report on groundwater management and regulation, which was placed in Parliament last week, the CAG said such a system was in place only in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Its study covered the period of 2013-18 and information was updated till September 2020. In Tamil Nadu, the regulation for the groundwater management and issue of no-objection certificates for groundwater extraction authorises the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Bureau of Indian Standards to accord permission only after ensuring that applicants have got the no-objection certificates.

Besides, no schemes can be formulated in over-exploited and critical ‘firkas’ (which are smaller than blocks and encompasses 10-15 villages). All schemes should be formulated through the State Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre, Chennai. The CAG’s appreciation assumes importance as its study of 328 cases in 18 States has revealed that 77% of the industrial projects were operating without the no-objection certificates for groundwater extraction.

The country’s topmost auditor has also lauded the State for adopting ‘firka’ as the assessment unit because this is expected to help in identification of pockets of groundwater potential within the over- exploited and critical blocks, leading to optimal utilisation of the resources. For the purpose of effective regulation and implementation of assessment, the the State Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre decided in 2011 to take the ‘firka’ as the assessment unit. As for the variations in guidelines between those of the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) and those of the States and the Union Territories, the CAG observed that in Tamil Nadu, “individual households are exempted from obtaining the no-objection certificate, whereas this is not so in the CGWA guidelines”.

It stated that there was “no specific mention” of mandatory recycle or reuse. After the repeal of the groundwater law for parts of the State other than the Chennai Metropolitan Area, a fresh law has not yet been framed. (The present State government is working on it). More importantly, the CAG clubbed Tamil Nadu with seven other States for having a high stage of groundwater extraction. In respect of Tamil Nadu, the stage was 81%. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tamil-nadu-lauded-for-regulating-industrys-groundwater-extraction/article38059178.ece  (29 Dec. 2021)

Haryana Survey finds GW situation critical in 26% of state villages In the first-ever village-level survey on water table, the Haryana Water Resources (Conservation, Regulation and Management) Authority (HWRA) has reported that 25.9 per cent of villages in the state fall under the “Severely groundwater stressed” category. The survey covered 6,885 villages. The data is for June 2020. As many as 1,780 villages fall in this category as the depth of water table has reached 30.01m or more.

On the basis of the decadal fluctuation, 957 villages have a decline rate between 0-1m per year, 707 have a decline rate between 1.01-2m per year, 79 villages show a decline rate of more than 2m per year and 37 have no decline. In the district-wise analysis, Kurukshetra represents the worst picture, with 97.5 per cent of villages in the “Severely groundwater stressed” category. Out of the 433 villages, 422 are in this zone. The second-worst in the state is Mahendragarh, where 308 out of 378 (81.5%) are in the “Severely groundwater stressed” category. In Fatehabad, 151 out of 245 villages (61.6%) fall in this categorisation, while the figure for Kaithal is 170 out of 284 villages (59.9%).

There are 1,041 villages (15.1%) in the state in the “Moderately Groundwater Stressed” category as the water table here is between 20.01m to 30m. Also, there are 1,807 villages (26.2%) that have a water table between 10.01m to 20m and fall under the “Potential groundwater stressed” category. In total, there are 4,628 villages (67.2%) in the state which fall under the area of concern.

Earlier, the Central Ground Water Board used to bring out the block-level data on groundwater stressed areas. But with the formation of the HWRA, the village-level projections have been made by dividing these into seven categories. There are 1,261 villages in “Good groundwater potential” having water table depth from 5m-10m, 319 in “Potential waterlogged” having a depth of 1.5m-3m, and 85 in “Severely waterlogged” with a depth of less than 1.5m, categories. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/groundwater-situation-critical-in-26-of-state-villages-says-survey-359467  (09 Jan. 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Himachal Pradesh This video report says Bajoli Holi HEP tunnel in Jhadouta village of Chamba district has been leaking continuously for over a week causing landslips and damages to homes, village properties.  

झडौता गांव में जबरदस्त भूस्खलन देखते ही देखते एक शेड और पेड़ हुए जमींदोज होली बाजोली जलविद्युत परियोजना की टनल से हो रहे पानी के रिसाव से सोमवार (Jan. 03, 2022) को झड़ौता गांव के एक और घर के आस पास भारी भूस्खलन शुरू हो गया है जिसके चलते होली खडामुख सड़क मार्ग के किनारे बना शेड देखते ही देखते भूस्खलन की जद में आ गया और मलबे में दब गया  गनीमत यह रही कि कुछ देर पहले ही इस शेड में रह रहे लोगों तथा सामान को बाहर निकाला था आपको यह भी बता दें सोमवार को झड़ौता निवासी चैन सिंह के मकान के गिरने का सिलसिला शुरू होने के बाद अब सैनी राम के रिहायशी मकान पर खतरे के बादल मंडराने लगे है। बहरहाल सोमवार को परियोजना टनल रिसाव के चलते जबरदस्त भूस्खलन हुआ जिसमे कई पेड़ तथा शेड धाराशाही हो गए। https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PpUy6uvDNQ  (03 Jan. 2022)

केवल बांधों का विरोध नहीं, अपना अस्तित्व बचाने की लड़ाई भी लड़ रहे हैं हिमाचल के युवा  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/river/dam/Not-only-opposing-the-dams-the-youth-of-Himachal-are-also-fighting-to-save-their-existence-80547  (03 Jan. 2022)

Nagaland Tribal body shuts hydro project The Yimkhiung Tribal Council (YTC), on January 4, decided to shut down the Likimro Hydro Electric Project indefinitely over the failure of the Nagaland government to declare Shamator as a district. The council also banned visits of all tourists to Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary, Mt. Saramati, and stone caves at Mimi and Salomi which fall under Shamator. In a public notice, YTC executive chairman Y Makezho said all sorts of activities at these sites will remain suspended indefinitely. The council has also asked individuals or officials who are currently stationed there to leave within 24 hours. https://thenortheasttoday.com/states/nagaland/tribal-body-shuts-hydro-project-over-nagaland-govts/cid6170779.htm  (04 Jan. 2022)

Uttarakhand One more unidentified dead body has been recovered from Tapovan Vishnugad HEP tunnel which was flooded after Feb. 7, 2021 disaster trapping several workers. https://www.zerogroundnews.com/uttarakhand-news/body-found-from-tapovan-ntpc-tunnel-not-identified/ 

MoEF Minutes of EAC meeting held on Dec 14, 2021, key decisions:

1. Bahalpur Standalone Pumped Storage Project (1380 MW), in 496.57 Ha at Village Bahalpur, Tehsil Jhalda, Purulia Dist (W Bengal) by Greenko Energies Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference: Withdrawn by PP due to mistakes in Form 1.

2. Ramapur Gurar Pumped Storage Project (3000 MW), in 688.14 Ha at Gurar Village, Teh Robertsganj, Dist Sonbhadra (Uttar Pradesh) by Greenko Energies Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference: Withdrawn by PP due to mistakes in Form 1

3. Bhavali Pumped Storage Project (1500 MW), in 228 Ha at Village Jamunde a& Kalbhonde, Tehsil Igatpuri & Shahpur, Dist Nashik & Thane (Mah) by M/s JSW Neo Energy Limited– Terms of Reference: More Info sought

4. Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project 1380 MW (8325 MWH), in 496.57 Ha at Village Bahalpur, Teh jhalda, Purulia Dist (W Bengal) by Greenko Energies Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference: More info sought

5. Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (3000 MW), in an area of 688.14 Ha located at Village – Gurar, Tehsil – Robertsganj, District – Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh by M/s Greenko Energies Private Limited – Terms of Reference: APPROVED

6. Rana Pratap Sagar Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (2000 MW), in 1376.44 Ha at Village – Semaliya, Teh Rawatbhata, Dist – Chittorgarh, Rajasthan by Semaliya Energy Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference: APPROVED http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/0601202227705589Corrected_FinalMOM20th_RVHEPEAC_14-12-2021.pdf 

Decision in the Minutes of EAC on River Valley Projects held on Dec 23, 2021: Yerravaram Pumped Storage Hydro Electric Project (1200MW) in 297.69ha at village Ganagula, Teh Koyyuru, Dist Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh by New & Renewable Energy Development Corp of AP Ltd. – Terms of Reference: APPROVED (Meeting had only one agenda item) http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/0601202287916378FinalMoM21stEACheldon23-12-2021.pdf 

Agenda for the  EAC meeting for River Valley Projects to be held on Jan 12, 2022:

1. 66 MW Khuitam Hydro Electric Project in 49.14 Ha at Vil Rahung, Teh Dirang Circle, Dist W Kameng (Arunachal Pradesh) by Adishankar Power Pvt Ltd – Extension of validity of Environment Clearance

2. 288 MW Sach Khas HEP in 125.5 ha at Vil Sach Khas, Teh Pangi, Dist Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) by SJVN–Terms of Reference

3. Gond Major Irrigation Project (CCA 28,000 Ha) In Dist Singrauli Madhya Pradesh by MP Water Resources Dept – Reconsideration of Environmental Clearance http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/0401202257365959FinalAgenda-RiverValley_22ndEAC_12-01-2022.pdf 

DAMS

SANDRP Blog Mahim Kelwa Dam leakage: Another case of negligence Heavy water leakage has been detected from the Mahim-Kelwa dam at Zanjroli in Palghar district, Maharashtra causing danger to a few villages situated downstream, officials said on Saturday, Jan 8, 2022.

A massive three-metre breach was detected on Saturday morning in a 41-year-old earthen dam with a 3.34 Million Cubic Meters capacity at Zanzorli in Palghar. About 1200 litres per minute was being discharged downstream. https://sandrp.in/2022/01/09/mahim-kelwa-dam-leakage-in-maharashtra-another-case-of-negligence/  (09 Jan. 2021)

The Mahim-Kelve dam is located around 100 km from Mumbai, at an elevation near the Janjaroli village. Other villages below the dam have been put on high alert. The Palghar Irrigation Department executive engineer has ordered round-the-clock monitoring of the dam condition and directed for all necessary measures for the safety of the villagers falling in its path and also shift them to safer locations. The small dam stores water from monsoon rains, and is a popular picnic spot for people from Mumbai, Pune and south Gujarat, with the surrounding forests a favourite with bird-watchers for the large number of species seen here. https://daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=913104  (08 Jan. 2022)

The massive three-metre breach has been successfully plugged by the Irrigation department on Sunday (Jan. 9) morning. An NDRF team, which arrived from Andheri, returned to base as the breach was eventually repaired.

“Around 300 dumpers of sand and other materials were dumped near the jack well where the breach was noticed to control the seepage,” said Prabhakar Giri, deputy engineer, Irrigation department Palghar. This is a temporary measure and a permanent measure will be taken during the summer season when the water level will be less, said an official. “We believe that a 40-year-old cement pipe may have developed holes or may have been dislocated near the jack well, resulting in the seepage. We will install a 125m high-density polyethylene pipe without disturbing the present structure to avoid further leakage,” said the official.

“As a long term plan, if need be, we may construct a new jack well at the present site,” he added. The pipe is a type of flexible plastic used for fluid and gas transfer and is often used to replace ageing concrete or steel mains. It is used across the globe for applications such as water mains, gas mains, sewer mains, slurry transfer lines, rural irrigation, fire system supply lines, electrical and communications conduit, and stormwater and drainage pipes. As of now, the dam is totally safe and there is no danger or evacuation needed and by Tuesday (Jan. 11) the entire civil work will be completed, the official added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/breach-in-palghar-dam-plugged-evacuation-averted-101641738262874.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

Maharashtra 28 out of 35 seismographs near dams are useless, govt admits In response to a question, the Water Resources Minister revealed that 28 out of 35 seismographs installed near major dams in the state are not operational. These devices detect and record earthquakes. During its review of seismographs near all major dams in the state, the committee discovered that many analog seismographs installed throughout the state do not have spare parts or are old. The government is planning to install digital seismographs.

– According to a report by the CAG of India, out of 28 dams found to have major deficiencies of different kinds, there are still 20 that must be rectified after 11 to 69 months after they were first detected. https://theprint.in/india/maha-28-out-of-35-seismographs-near-dams-are-useless-govt-admits/787718/  (25 Dec. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh CAG raises concern over pending dam repairs Of the 28 dams that were found to have major deficiencies of multiple kinds, deficiencies in 20 are to be rectified even after 11 to 69 months of their being pointed out, a report by the CAG of India has found. The rectification of deficiencies of dams has a direct bearing on the safety of these dams. “Estimates for repairs of only eight dams were prepared but estimates of the seven of them were not even sanctioned by the higher officials,” the CAG report on economic sector for the year ended March 31, 2019, government said. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=907848  (24 Dec. 2021)

Tamil Nadu DMK challenges Centre’s Dam Safety Act The DMK has moved the Madras High Court challenging the newly introduced Dam Safety Act. DMK MP and senior advocate P Wilson made a mention before the first bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice M N Bhandari, which agreed to hear the PIL on January 10. Wilson contended that the impugned Act, hit by Article 246(3), is ex-facie unconstitutional and ultra vires the Constitution as Parliament lacked legislative competence to enact the same which is in the State’s domain. The Act has the effect of taking control over all major dams in the State. The Union government is taking steps to constitute National Committee on Dam Safety and National Dam Safety Authority, whereupon the States will be completely denuded with the control over dams located inside and outside the States covered under the Act. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chennai/dmk-challenges-centres-dam-safety-act-7706922/  (05 Jan. 2022)

Mekedatu Dam Step back and think Amazingly sensible EDIT on Mekedatu project in Deccan Herald on Jan 5, 2022: “But it would be wise to examine the cost-benefit ratio of the project in view of its potential environmental impact in a time of climate change. The Rs 9000 Cr project which aims to store 67 TMCft of water will submerge over 12000 acres of forest land, including 4500 acres of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a prominent elephant corridor and home to several endangered species. The impact on wildlife during construction period itself can be easily imagined – the pre-feasibility report mentions the use of 2000 T of to clear the rocks at the dam site. Post project, even if the government takes up the compensatory afforesatation, a promise that in most cases remains on paper, a man-made monoculture ‘forest’ cannot replace a natural forest… Therefore, it is important to adopt a sustainable approach, including such mesures as wide spread rain water harvesting, use of treated and recycled water, rejuvenation of Bengaluru’s lakes and its storm water drainage system… the government should explore if Bengaluru’s water security can be achieved through more environment friendly means, rather than the conventional way of building dams and reservoirs. An objective environment impact assessment would make  matters clear.” https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/mekedatu-project-step-back-and-think-1068040.html  (05 Jan. 2022)

Project may not happen any time soon The TN government has moved the SC, asking it to restrain Karnataka from going ahead with the project, besides questioning the NGT’s verdict on Mekedatu. “Unless these 2 applications are heard and disposed of, it is unlikely that the project will get clearance from the Centre,” said a senior advocate who has been part of the state’s legal team. However, some experts and several Congress functionaries argue that TN’s petitions pending before the apex court should not come in the way as it is a drinking water project and the nod from CWMA, an independent body formed to implement the Cauvery Water Disputes.  

An expert pointed to the delay by the Centre in framing terms of reference for taking up EIA, citing TN’s objections are not sorted out yet. “The need of the hour is for the Centre and states concerned to sit together and sort out the issues. But unfortunately, that culture has disappeared since 1990. The tendency of leaving it to the courts to settle inter-state water disputes is prevalent. There is no other way but to wait for the court’s verdict,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/why-mekedatu-project-may-not-happen-any-time-soon/articleshow/88783341.cms  (09 Jan. 2022)

Wrong push by Engineers’ body Amid the political slugfest over the Mekedatu project, the 101-year-old Institution of Engineers (IoE) on Friday offered to help the Karnataka government by constituting an expert committee to look into various technicalities. The body is willing to extend its expertise and services to the government free of cost, IoE Karnataka chairperson M Lakshmana said.

The IoE had organised a discussion on the Mekedatu balancing reservoir project. Speaking at the event, Lakshmana said the Mekedatu project will bring the pressure down on upstream dams such as Kabini and KRS. This will be useful to Karnataka, especially in the peak season when there is water scarcity.

In order to help the government iron out the technical glitches in securing permissions, the IoE will constitute a 5-member committee that will include experts who have worked in water resources earlier and are familiar with the processes. An exclusive office will be set up for the purpose. The committee will extend aid to the government, free of cost, he said. A memorandum will also be submitted to the state government urging it to expedite the process. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/engineers-body-offers-to-help-govt-with-mekedatu-project-1068957.html  (07 Jan. 2022)

This report list out how RWH, waste water treatment can help mitigate Bengaluru water crisis:- A city blessed with an annual average rainfall of 787 mm even without a record year, could have avoided the perennial struggle to meet its yearly water demand of 18 TMCft. A robust rainwater harvesting system, a foolproof wastewater treatment mechanism and a strong renewable energy network should have left Bengaluru self-reliant in both water and power supply.

The solutions are clear, and yet every summer, both citizens and the government are caught unawares by the water shortage. While citizens have been slow to warm up to rainwater harvesting, the government’s response to effectively treat and manage the available water has been sluggish at best. But there is still a way out — the city’s 193 surviving lakes can serve as reservoirs for rainwater. Dr T V Ramachandra, from the Indian Institute of Science Centre for Ecological Sciences, believes that rejuvenating lakes can enable the city to retain its rainwater.

“Bengaluru’s topography that allows an interconnected lake system gives us this option. In the Koramangala-Challaghatta Valley alone, we can store about 5.2 TMCft of water,” Ramachandra says. To achieve this, clearing silt in most lakes and connecting canals is essential. “Desilting will enhance the storage capacity of lakes and recharge groundwater with clean water,” he says. However, desilting seems to be a half-hearted effort. A case in point is the slow pace of desilting work at the Varthur-Bellandur lakes.

In the 1800s, Bengaluru had 1,452 water bodies with a total storage capacity of 35 TMCft. Taking advantage of the city’s topography, an interlinked lake system was created in an area of 740 sqkm, the city’s current spatial extent. But the dramatic 79% decline in water bodies, aggravated by a sharp fall in green cover from 68% in 1970 to barely 3% now has left the city’s once-famed green image in jeopardy. In the last five-and-a-half decades alone, the concretised area has risen by 1,055%, says Dr Ramachandra.

The potential of rain:- Rainwater harvesting (RWH) offers a clear way out if the lake storage is smartly executed. Studies have established that about 73% of Bengaluru’s water demand can be met by efficient harvesting. Of the city’s 4 valleys, the Vrishabhavathi valley has an estimated catchment yield of 7.32 TMCft of water, K C Valley (5.2 TMCft) and Hebbal (4.2 TMCft). The city’s total annual rainwater yield stands at about 14.80 TMCft.

Treating 18 TMCft of wastewater generated in the city could yield another 16 TMCft. “This means you end up with 31 TMCft, which is a surplus situation. You can be self-sufficient and also give the excess water to the neighbouring districts.” However, there is a problem of implementation for RWH. In a city with an estimated 35 lakh properties, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has recorded only about 1.65 lakh buildings that have installed RWH systems, domestic, commercial and industrial combined.

Having relied entirely on harvested rainwater for over 27 years, A R Shivakumar, a water management advisor to the UNDP, sees in this slow progress, a public mindset problem. By innovating a simple RWH system at his Vijaynagar home, he has demonstrated how up to 2.23 lakh litres of rainwater could be harvested. “This is adequate for a family to survive without outside water for a year,” he says.

Shivakumar attributes people’s reluctance to the availability of highly subsidised Cauvery water. “The BWSSB charges only about Rs 7 for 1,000 litres. There is also a fear of investment. But the infrastructure required for RWH is very simple. Bring the water from the roof by pipes, connect the end to a filter and divert it to a sump.” An underground sump of about 6,000 litre capacity is a standard built infrastructure in any house. “Upgrading this to 20,000 litres will help store rainwater for up to seven months. To retrofit, all that is required is a filter. The excess flow could be diverted to a recharge pit,” he explains.

Wastewater treatment:- Wastewater treatment is also critical to ensure sustainability. But most STPs in the city, functioning at low efficiency, have not stemmed the inflow of untreated wastewater into the storm water drains. On paper, the BWSSB’s treatment capacity with 35 STPs stands at 1,523.5 MLD. A way out could be to replicate the treatment model perfected in the city’s Jakkur lake.

Drain remodelling:- To stop the sewage inflow into lakes, a massive drain remodelling exercise has been in the process for years. “But in the name of remodelling, they are mismanaging. The drains remodelled in the last eight years have narrowed down and concretised the surface,” says Ramachandra. Concretisation completely halts groundwater recharge. This triggers more overland flow during rainfall, leading to frequent floods. “This is an unscientific method. This is at the cost of the people’s water rights,” he says.

For decades, self-reliance meant digging borewells. While individual wells mushroomed, both the BBMP and BWSSB adopted this as an official policy to quench the thirst of lakhs who settled in the city’s newly added areas on the outskirts. BWSSB estimates that there could be around six lakh borewells in and around the city.

Currently supplying 1,470 MLD of Cauvery water daily to the city, BWSSB has proposed to complete the Cauvery Stage-V by March 2023. This, as the Board’s Chief Engineer (Cauvery) S V Ramesh informs, will enhance the supply by an additional 775 MLD, catering to the 110 villages integrated to the Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in 2007. “About 35% of the work has been completed. There was an eight-month delay due to Covid,” says the official. https://www.deccanherald.com/specials/insight/way-out-of-bengalurus-recurring-water-crisis-1069350.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

Defence PSU stepped in to revive the Doddabommasandra lake  Spread across 124 acres along the Hebbal valley in northern Bengaluru, the Doddabommasandra lake is unique in that defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has built a 10 MLD STP to channel tertiary treated water into it since 2018.

The 300-year-old lake was primarily used for irrigation purposes and experts point out that its restoration has helped improve the groundwater table in the area. The Doddabommasandra watershed region replenishes the groundwater table in Vidyaranyapura, Govindayyanapalya, Doddabommasandra and Thindlu areas. As part of efforts initiated under its CSR program, BEL will also maintain the plant for the next 20 years. Of the treated water, 8 MLD goes into the lake, while the rest is utilised by the PSU.

The oxygen required for the process is supplied through a fine-bubble diffused aeration system with auto control of oxygen levels in the basin. (Express Jitendra M)

Ram Prasad, co-founder of the volunteer group Friends of Lakes, said, “This lake is a shining example of a joint effort from various corners in which the representatives of two different political parties – BJP MP from Bangalore North D V Sadananda Gowda and Congress MLA Krishna Byre Gowda – as well as local political representatives were all involved in its restoration. They got the necessary clearances from the forest and revenue departments.”

“The now-defunct Karnataka Lake Conservation and Tank Authority (KLCDA), Revenue Department and the BBMP put in their best efforts. Last year, encroachments were also evicted and, at present, the lake receives treated water. With the rejuvenation of the lake, open wells in the area are brimming with water,” he remarked, adding that the lake now needs de-weeding. Prasad said over 45 different species of birds have been spotted at the lake. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-doddabommasandra-lake-defence-psu-stepped-revive-7713308/  (09 Jan. 2022)

Polavaram Project likely to be delayed due to delay in sanctioning revised costs, release of money, over 1 cr cubic meter of earth work remaining for the dam, the huge incomplete backlog of R&R, among other reasons. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/jan/08/central-water-commission-polavaram-meet-deferred-until-next-week-2404383.html  (08 Jan. 2022)

Madhya Pradesh Gandhi Sagar needs immediate repair: CAG report Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP added: Dam safety has been in a bad shape. So, these problems prevail and have come out in the report. They can result in two kinds of disasters: One, when the structure fails, and second when the operation is not proper. Both can cause disasters in the downstream area.

– The Dam Safety Act 2021 passed in the Rajya Sabha with much fanfare earlier this month doesn’t elicit much hope, said Thakkar. “The whole idea is to have independent voices. But the act will be implemented by current authorities,” he added. So, essentially the idea of accountability being fixed to change the scenario will hardly be addressed, the expert believed. The act, thus, will not really be of much help, according to Thakkar. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/natural-disasters/india-s-old-dams-gandhi-sagar-in-mp-needs-immediate-repair-says-cag-report-80941  (03 Jan. 2022)

State of Bargi Project Canals: ये है स्थिति:-

– दायीं तट नहर की लगभग 338 किलोमीटर है मुख्य नहर

– जबलपुर से स्लीमनाबाद के बीच 105 किलोमीटर है मुख्य नहर

– स्लीमनाबाद में 13 किलोमीटर लम्बी टनल का हो रहा निर्माण

– टनल बनने के बाद रीवा तक पहुंचना है नहर का पानी

– बरगी स्लीमनाबाद के बीच कई जगह मुख्य नहर जर्जर

– नहर के किनारे टूटे, सिल्ट जमा,उग रहीं झाडिय़ां

– टनल बनने के बाद मुख्य नहर के क्षतिग्रस्त होने से आएगी समस्या

– नहरों का रखरखाव नहीं, किनारे से दौड़ रहे भारी वाहन https://www.patrika.com/jabalpur-news/jabalpur-sleemanabad-is-canal-dilapidated-narmada-water-news-7264570/  (08 Jan. 2022)

Sardar Sarovar Dam Kutch farmers demand Narmada water for irrigation Narmada Dam was justified for these people of Kutch. Now the farmers are agitating for irrigation water when water is going everywhere else, but not to their farms.

– Around 4,000 farmers in nine talukas of Kutch held a protest at local mamlatdar offices demanding provision of Narmada water for agriculture use. Because of non-availability of irrigation water they are forced to take only one crop in a year, said the farmers. The farmers held the protest under the banner of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/kutch-farmers-demand-narmada-water-for-irrigation/articleshow/88676516.cms  (04 Jan. 2022)

Renuka Dam K S Tomar political analyst and ex-senior editor of Hindustan Times, Rajasthan, putting same old rhetoric of water, power benefits in support of destructive Renuka dam project. https://theprint.in/india/governance/why-modi-launched-renukaji-dam-in-himachal-is-solution-to-delhis-drinking-water-problem/792489/  (03 Jan. 2022)

Tehri Dam क्या बांध की झील के ऊपरी क्षेत्र में पहाड़ी धंस रही है?  ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि पहले आर-पार के जो गांव कभी दिखते नहीं थे, अब दिखने लगे हैं। विशेषज्ञों ने गहन अध्ययन की अपील की. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/river/dam/is-the-hill-in-the-upper-area-of-the-tehri-dam-lake-sinking-80955  (03 Jan. 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Linking project will harm and not help Bundelkhand This is based on SANDRP article. https://counterview.org/2022/01/08/ken-betwa-project-will-harm-and-not-help-bundelkhand/ 

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Krishna Water Disputes Karnataka seeks National Project Status for Upper Bhdra Project in Krishna basin, but Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are opposing this. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/andhra-pradesh-objects-to-national-project-status-for-upper-bhadra-1067350.html  (03 Jan. 2022)

IRRIGATION

Maharashtra Bhujbal: Give dam water to locals first Nashik district guardian minister Chhagan Bhujbal has asked the water resources department to reserve sufficient amount of water for the local residents before releasing it for the beneficiaries under irrigation and non-irrigation purposes. A meeting of the canal advisory committee was held on Saturday (Jan. 8). “The department should ensure that at least 20% of water from the projects is reserved for the locals. The Command Area Development Authority (CADA) should therefore submit a proposal with the government to take a decision,” said Bhujbal. He also asked the department to prioritise the supply of water for the areas that need it most during the Rabi season.

The committee has approved three cycles (release of specific quantum of water from projects) each in Rabi and summer season for irrigation and non-irrigation from Nashik Left Bank Canal (LBC) of Gangapur project. Similarly, one cycle – each for irrigation and non-irrigation purpose has been approved from Right Bank Canal (RBC) of Kadwa project; two cycles in Rabi Season and two cycles in summer season for non-irrigation from Palkhed LBC, has been approved. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/bhujbal-give-dam-waterto-locals-first/articleshow/88783595.cms  (09 Jan. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Farmers unable to use water as irrigation canals yet to be built The Kottarai dam across the Marudaiyar river in Perambalur district was filled to the brim twice in the last three months due to rains — in the first week of November 2021, and on January 1 this year. However, farmers could not make use of it for irrigation as the construction of the dam and irrigation canals is incomplete. Farmers and locals have reiterated their demand to complete the work at the earliest.

Work on the 211 million-cubic-feet capacity dam, estimated at a cost of Rs 149.4 crore, was started in 2016. About 464 acres of land in Kottarai village and 180 acres in Adhanur village was acquired for the project. The authorities had promised to complete the work within 2 years, but it was suspended due to many reasons. As of now, 90% of the work has been completed but laying roads nearby and construction of irrigation canals is moving at a slow pace. When TNIE contacted him, Perambalur PWD Assistant Executive Engineer V Velmurugan said, “Almost 80% of the work on the irrigation canals has been completed. The dam would be completed by March 2022.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jan/07/tn-river-filled-to-brim-but-farmers-unable-to-use-water-as-irrigation-canals-yet-to-be-built-2404225.html  (07 Jan. 2022)

RIVERS

Goa Much-loved ‘khube’ resurface in Chapora after over 15 yrs Goa’s marine biodiversity is witnessing a rejuvenation in the river ecosystems. After certain varieties of shellfish made a comeback in the Zuari and Mandovi rivers during the pandemic, the Chapora river is the latest in this list to throw up a pleasant surprise. Over the past two months, hundreds of people have been flocking to the Chapora river for ‘khube’ (byvalves/ clams), which locals say last surfaced 15 years ago. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/goa-much-loved-khube-resurface-in-chapora-river-after-over-15-years/articleshow/88700845.cms  (05 Jan. 2022)

Karnataka The last clams of Aghanashini Seven years ago, every time there was a low tide in the Arabian Sea near Aghanashini village in Kumta taluk of Uttara Kannada district, almost the entire village would descend on shores to collect bivalves, also known as clams. Through generations, the molluscan bivalve shellfish of Aghanashini had functioned as a major source of nutrition and livelihood, sustaining up to 4,000 families. But today, the mudflats wear a deserted look as they are depleted of the bounty of bivalves due to overexploitation.

Non-sustainable harvesting has not only eliminated the bulk of bivalve resources, an indicator of richness of overall biodiversity of the Aghanashini estuary but also resulted in the migration of clam diggers to urban areas to work as construction labourers or employees in cashew factories and hotels. “Till the early 2000s bivalves were collected by these families only for their consumption and were considered as poor people’s food. However, as people started realising the nutritious value of these shellfish, the demand for them started growing especially from Goa and surrounding areas,” said M D Subash Chandran, an ecologist with the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. His team has done extensive study on River Aghanashini and its estuary.

According to one such study, it was recorded that in 2008 alone, nearly 18,000 tonnes of bivalves were ‘harvested’ from the estuaries of Aghanashini and transported to Goa in truck loads. The bivalve collectors would sell one bucket of 10 to 12 kg of bivalves for Rs 100 or Rs 150 in the local market. The star hotels in Goa would sell the same for Rs 200 to Rs 300 per plate of four to six bivalves.

Ramnath Manjunaik, a local trader of clams, said the community did not understand the value of these bivalves till they ‘mysteriously disappeared’ from the river. “Today, when we buy bivalves harvested in Kerala for our consumption for Rs 80 per kg, we are realising that we were big fools.” More than anything, the bivalves would provide nutrition security to these families. More than men, it was the women who were engaged in large numbers to collect clams from river beds. “Earlier, I had the confidence that my one visit to the river to collect bivalves would ensure two meals. But today, I am just a housewife waiting for my husband and son to send money from town to take care of the house,” said Savitri Pategar (53) of the village.

While the mollusc (meat) was used for dishes, its shell was used in various industries including limestone, paint, chemical, poultry, pharmaceuticals among others, as a rich source of organically sourced calcium. This demand resulted in the unabated collection of clams from mud beds of the river and the sea. Along with traditional clam digging, where collectors would dive deep (at least 10 to 12 ft) into the sea or river during low tide, mechanised clam mining also began at the estuaries, which resulted in the fast depletion of bivalves.

Kali estuary of Karwar and Sharavathi estuary of Honnavar, in the past, were also good centres of various bivalve species. Most of them witnessed a serious decline due to the construction of large hydroelectric projects upstream, which made serious habitat changes, notably for estuarine bivalves and fishes, on account of dam-related freshwater releases upsetting natural habitats and salinity decline.

“The escalating demand for Aghanashini clams from new emerging markets prompted professional clam collectors to trample through fragile mudflats, picking and scooping out every bivalve, irrespective of size, ranging from the tiny juveniles to adults of reproductive age, thereby flouting the very basics of sustainable harvests. Very soon, shell production collapsed in the estuary,” said Subash Chandran.

“Bivalves are highly sensitive creatures. They survive and reproduce only when there is a right amount of salinity and biomass in the water,” said Subash Chandran and added that the Aghanashini river used to nurture these bivalves by maintaining these parameters until recently. Experts say that there is a need for further studies to understand the impact of bivalve disappearance from estuaries as these shellfish were part of the food chain for several larger marine fish that would come to the estuaries to complete their reproduction cycle. Subash Chandran says there is still hope for the Aghanashini to regain its past glory of being a cradle for bivalves by following in the footsteps of Ashtamudi lake in Kerala.

“A similar situation prevailed in the Ashtamudi estuary of south Kerala, once known for rich fishery and clam bivalve production. In the 1980s and 1990s, the clam fishers indulged in overharvests causing serious stock depletion. Under the initiative of WWF, India, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute and the Kerala State Fishery Department the fishing community organised and adhered to the norms of sustainable fishery, involving restricting the number of fishing days per week, limiting the family-wise harvest quota, and the minimum size of clams to be collected. These steps ensured clam fishery recovered and reached annual sustainable harvests of about 10,000 tonnes per year, of standard size clams, which fetch premium market prices,” he said.  https://www.deccanherald.com/science-and-environment/the-last-clams-of-aghanashini-1061324.html  (16 Dec. 2021)

Tamil Nadu NGT appoints panel to look into river pollution The Southern Bench of the NGT has constituted a joint expert committee to be headed by retired IAS officer Santha Sheela Nair 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. The NGT has directed the committee to find out whether the damage has been caused due to the soil, water, flora and fauna on account of the deposit of fly ash in the river basin. The committee, to be headed by Ms. Nair, will comprise Dr. Balaji Narasimhan and Dr. Indumathi Nambi, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT- Madras; Prof (retd). D. Narasimhan, Madras Christian College, and Dr. Jayashree Venkatesan of Care Earth. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ngt-appoints-panel-to-look-into-river-pollution/article37905896.ece  (09 Dec. 2021)

Modern times unkind to Amaravathi -the Sangam-era river One of the TN’s longest rivers, the Amaravathi finds many mentions in the literary works of the Sangam era. The modern times, however, haven’t been so kind to her. For centuries, Amaravathi, also known as Aanporunai, has been a vital source of irrigation for farmers of Tiruppur and Karur. It originates near the Manjampatti Valley and flows through the two districts for 282 km before its confluence with Cauvery at Thirumukkudalur; it is Cauvery’s longest tributary.

Over the past few decades, dyeing and other industries along its banks have been dumping massive amounts of effluent into the river, poisoning its water. To make matters worse for the river, Karur municipality is allegedly releasing its untreated sewage into the river, drawing flak from environmentalists.  “Some are smuggling sand and sinking bore-wells on the riverbed, exacerbating the situation. If these thugs are not controlled, the Amaravathi will soon be history,” said Sundar, a social activist from Karur.

It may be recalled that, based on a TNIE report titled ‘A Cooum in the making in Karur’ on November 27, 2020, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court took suo motu cognisance of the matter and initiated proceedings against the polluters. In this series, TNIE looks at the problems plaguing the rivers flowing through TN. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/sep/28/modern-times-unkind-toamaravathi—the-sangam-era-river-2364665.html  (28 Sept. 2021)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh HC Order: 3700 Cusecs Of Water To Be Released Daily For Magh Mela इलाहाबाद हाईकोर्ट ने राज्य सरकार से कहा है कि माघ मेला में आने वाले श्रद्धालुओं के स्नान के लिए रोजाना 3700 क्यूसेक पानी छोड़ने के लिए कहा है। इसके साथ ही काशी विश्वनाथ कॉरिडोर के मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकारी से गंगा में बहाए गए मलबे के मामले में व्यक्तिगत हलफनामे पर जवाब दाखिल करने के लिए कहा है। साथ ही गंगा की सफाई के लिए लगे एसटीपी के बकाए बिलों के संबंध में भी राज्य सरकार से जानकारी मांगी है। सुनीता शर्मा की याचिका पर मुख्य न्यायमूर्ति राजेश बिंदल, न्यायमूर्ति मनोज कुमार गुप्ता और न्यायमूर्ति अजीत कुमार तीन जजों की खंडपीठ सुनवाई कर रही है।

– ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट पर नालों के ेपानी के शुद्धीकरण का काम अडानी ग्रुप कर रहा है। कोर्ट ने बकाए बिलों का जिक्र करते हुए कहा कि हर ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट पर 60 से 65 लाख रुपये बकाया है। कोर्ट ने इसे गंभीरता से लेते हुए कहा कि हलफनामे के आधार पर तो यही लग रहा है कि नगर निगम, जल संस्थान शुद्धिकरण के नाम पर केवल आंखों में धूल झाेंकने का काम कर रहा है। जबकि गंगा को स्वच्छ और निर्मल बनाने के लिए करोड़ों रुपये खर्च किए जा रहे हैं। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/allahabad/high-court-order-3700-cusecs-of-water-to-be-released-daily-for-magh-mela  (06 Jan. 2022) 

UPPCB takes step to keep Ganga clean for Magh Mela Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has taken effective steps to keep Ganga water clean during the Magh Mela to be held in Prayagraj. A couple of days back, the board had collected water samples from Farrukhabad to Fatehpur and found them satisfactory. The Pollution Control Board had already sent the roaster to the tanneries of the city located in the Jajmau area. As per the roaster, the tanneries in Jajmau will have to stop wet tanning three days before each day till March when the Magh Mela will end.

The 47-day mela will begin on January 14 and conclude on March 1 on the Mahashivratri day. There will be six main bathing days during the mela—Makar Sankranti (January 14/15), Paush Purnima (January 17), Mauni Amavasya (February 1), Basant Panchami (February 5), Maghi Purnima (February 16) and Mahashivratri (March 1), Mathur said. The district magistrate has constituted a committee to keep a tab on tanneries and it will go to the field from January 11.

A meeting of the members of the committee was held here and discussed the ways to implement the state government’s directives. Moreover, special directives have been issued to keep an eye on the distilleries situated on the bank of Ganga. Those units would be specifically monitored which had been punished recently, Mathur further said.

Meanwhile, in a PIL, the Allahabad high court has directed the state government to release 3200 cusec water in Ganga so that devotees could get clean water. It must be ensured the discharge of sewer or nullahs is not poured into the river without getting it treated, the court ordered. The court had also directed that discharge from mills and tanneries in Kanpur too should not be dropped into the without getting it treated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/uppcb-takes-step-to-keep-ganga-clean-for-magh-mela/articleshow/88764747.cms  (08 Jan. 2022)

YAMUNA Haryana Pollution norms violated at Barhi industrial zone Environmentalist Varun Gulati had filed a complaint with some videos to the higher authorities of the Haryana SPCB, showing how the untreated effluents were being discharged by the industries in connivance with the local pollution board officials and the HSIIDC officials into drain No. 6 through storm water lines by bypassing the common effluent treatment plant (CETP) in the Barhi industrial zone.

Following Gulati’s complaint with the evidences raided the HSIIDC industrial zone at Barhi today. The CETP of the capacity 16 MLD was being run by a contractor company and industrialists are discharging their untreated effluents directly through their storm water lines by bypassing the CETP, the sources added. Around 700 industries are running here, of which over 150 dyeing units which were discharging their effluents daily. Around 1.6 crore litre water is discharged through the CETP daily, but the untreated effluents which were directly discharged through storm water lines were more than double of the treated discharge, alleged environmentalist Varun Gulati. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/pollution-norms-violated-at-barhi-industrial-zone-358234  (05 July 2022)

The special surveillance task force was in for a surprise during a raid as they found 10 denim-dyeing units operating illegally at the Auchandi border already shut. The unit owners had already fled after vacating the premises. Notably, the Haryana HSPCB had served the closure notice to these units in November last year for violating the pollution norms and disposing chemical effluents directly into drains. In his complaint to the HSPCB in September last year, Varun Gulati, a Delhi-based environmentalist, said scores of industrial units at the Auchandi border (Delhi-Haryana border) and Ferozepur Bangar village of Sonepat district were openly violating the pollution norms. https://m-tribuneindia-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/m.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/10-illegal-denim-dyeing-units-found-shut-during-raid-357156  (02 Jan. 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Uttar Pradesh Gharial rescued from Ganga, died With exactly a week left for the annual Magh Mela to begin, a gharial spotted at the Mela township has created considerable panic in the area. A group of workers engaged for Magh Mela construction projects spotted a two-foot-long baby gharial near a pontoon bridge area on the banks of the river Ganga.

Chief forest officer (CFO) Ramesh Chandra said that a forest department team had rescued a baby gharial whose length is about two feet, near the Triveni Marg pontoon bridge on the bank of the Ganga. “Sadly, it died after being rescued. Its autopsy will be conducted on Friday (Jan. 7) to know the exact reason of its death,” he added. There were three to four incidents earlier when either crocodiles or gharials were spotted in villages under Karchana and Meja tehsils. The forest department teams rescued them and released them into the Ganga. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2022-01-07-baby-gharial-spotted-by-ganga-banks-at-magh-mela-township  (07 Jan. 2022)

Western Ghats 2 new plant species discovered Researchers from SNM College Maliankara, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, and the Payyanur College have reported two new plant species from the biodiversity-rich Western Ghats regions in Thiruvananthapuram and Wayanad districts. They have been christened Fimbristylis sunilii and Neanotis prabhuii, and the findings by the research teams have been detailed in the November and December issues of the plant taxonomy journal Phytotaxa. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/two-new-plant-species-discovered-in-ghats/article38092341.ece  (02 Jan. 2022)

‘It is very easy to destroy the environment’ ‘But extremely difficult, expensive and time consuming to rebuild it.’ Askari H Zaidi reports. The theme of World Environment Day, June 5, was ‘Ecosystem Restoration.’ To help achieve the goal, a significant beginning has been made in Hassan and Chikmagalur districts of Karnataka.

Dr Mithilesh Tripathi and his team have planted about 300,000 saplings in two coffee estates of Hori Khan, Chikmagalur district, and Hosa Giri, Hassan district, in the past four-and-a-half months. Most of these saplings are of medicinal plants and herbs. Spread over 600 acres, Hori Khan estate is located on the Mangaluru-Chikmagalur border. Besides the plantation, several soil conservation measures have also been undertaken.

The estate is completely organic and in this direction, cattle shades, farm yard manure/composting units, gobar gas plants, production of panchamritha units to fertilise the crops have also been created. “Outside the coffee and tea estates there are large open and degraded areas. “We are offering the knowledge and expertise that we have acquired to local communities as well,” says Dr Tripathi. https://www.rediff.com/news/special/medicinal-plants-based-ecosystem-restoration-of-the-western-ghats/20220104.htm  (04 Jan. 2022)

There should be no delay in protecting the Western Ghats by Jayashree Nandi. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/climate-and-us-why-there-should-be-no-delay-in-protecting-the-western-ghats-101641220145199.html  (03 Jan. 2022)

Northeast The last frontier for species discovery The deep woods of Northeast India remain one of the last frontiers for species hunters looking for new animals, birds and insects. The jungles hardly disappoint the biologists. One group at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru found the area particularly rewarding in the last 18 months.

Since last July, a team of researchers led by Krushnamegh Kunte discovered a butterfly, a moth and three cicada species in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya respectively in yet another proof of the rich biodiversity of the Northeast, less explored compared to the Western Himalayas and the Western Ghats.

They also re-discovered a second moth species after more than 100 years in a new area, extending the range where such species were found. The team’s latest discovery is a butterfly named Zographetus dzonguensis, which has been discovered from the Upper Dzongu region in the North Sikkim district. Similar to other butterflies reported from Guangdong and Hainan provinces of China, it has its own distinct characteristics.  https://www.deccanherald.com/science-and-environment/northeast-india-the-last-frontier-for-species-discovery-1061323.html  (16 Dec. 2021) 

Nagaland Elusive clouded leopard sighted A team of researchers have recorded photographic evidence of clouded leopards at an elevation of 3,700 metres in a community-owned forest along the Indo-Myanmar border – arguably one of the highest reported altitudes where the animal has been sighted in the world till date. The findings have been published in the Winter 2021 issue of the Cat News, the IUCN/Species Survival Commission (SSC) Cat Specialist Group’s biannual newsletter.

A clouded leopard photographed near the summit of Mt Saramati in Nagaland’s Thanamir village. (Photo Courtesy: WPSI/Thanamir Village).

The tree-climbing clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), a medium-sized felid (wild cat), is the smallest of the large wild cats and is categorised as ‘Vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Since they are largely known to inhabit low elevation evergreen rainforests, the sighting is significant, experts said. https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/nagaland/clouded-leopard-sighted-nagaland-mountains-7709328/  (07 Jan. 2022)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Tamil Nadu Fishermen oppose amendments to CRZ notification The fisherfolk have strongly objected to the draft notification issued by the MoEFCC on November 1 to make amendments into the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2019. The ministry had proposed eight amendments to CRZ notification, 2019 seeking to delegate powers of giving CRZ clearance to the State Coastal Management Zone Management Authority, exempting statutory CRZ clearance for the exploratory drilling operations, and removal of sand bars from the shoreline, acting on representations given by the state governments and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) channelled through Director General of HydroCarbons (DGH). The National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) had also recommended in favour of these amendments during its 42nd meeting held on March 23, 2021.

National Fishworkers’ Forum’s youth representative Jones Thomas Spartagus told TNIE the amendments are intended to dilute the restrictions on oil, gas and hydrocarbon extraction projects in the Ecological Sensitive Area (ESA) and territorial waters that encapsulates mangroves, swamps, lagoons and traditional fishing grounds. Most of the oil reserves and explorations are carried out in territorial waters that extend up to 12 nautical mile from the shoreline, he said. On the amendment delegating powers to the union government for granting CRZ clearance proposed at the CRZ-1 and CRZ-IV areas, Jone contended that the union is taking the rights of the State government as CRZ-1 and CRZ-IV areas fall under the control of state governments. “It is a transgression on state sovereignty”, he pointed out.

Another controversy is the amendment to remove the sandbars from the coast which are formed naturally along the intertidal areas. The fishermen say the sand bars function as eco-barriers that prevent the fishing hamlets from extreme events, besides maintaining the ecological balance. Such an amendment would open floodgates for the illegal sand miners, they said. “Removal of the sand bars lead to rapid coastal erosion and threaten nesting of seashore birds and endangered turtles which are protected under schedules of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972”, said a fisherman from Vembar. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jan/06/fishermen-oppose-amendments-to-coastal-regulation-zone-notificationcite-damage-to-ecosystem-commu-2403722.html  (06 Jan. 2022)

Karnataka Fish mills causing river pollution near Udupi: Complaint to NGT Alleging that industrial effluents discharged to Udhayavara river near Udupi in Karnataka by industries, mostly fish mills, is leading to the death of fishes in the water body, an applicant has asked the NGT for the closure of such units immediately. Kishore Kumar, a resident of Udhyavara, in his affidavit before the Southern Bench of the NGT alleged that an expert committee formed by the Tribunal earlier failed to go into details of the pollution.

“The Udhyavara river also known as Papnashini is home to various marine species both flora and fauna. The water is being used by human beings also. The office of the Zilla Panchayat has earlier reported that industries discharging industrial effluents from fish mills directly to the Udhyavara river and pointed out its serious impact. Even Udhyavara Gram Panchayat also expressed similar concerns,” the applicant said.

“The joint committee appointed by the NGT earlier falsely reported otherwise. Still some industries discharging the wastages and wastewater directly go to the Udhyavara river and water pollution caused the death of fish. The Committee failed to discharge its duty in a fair manner and failed to report river pollution due to discharge of industrial wastewater,” the applicant said. The Southern Bench of the NGT has been hearing the matter and also formed a joint committee earlier for spot inspection. Due to river pollution, a large number of fish have died near Pitrodi part of Udhyavara river, the applicant said in his counter-affidavit.  https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/fish-mills-causing-river-pollution-near-udupi-complaint-to-ngt-1047386.html  (04 Nov. 2021)

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

Kerala Fishers Who Lost Homes to Sea Erosion Kerala coast is facing severe sea erosion and Thiruvananthapuram is one of the major districts affected by it.

Many have lost their houses and lives in the repeated climate calamities. In August 2020, 16 fisher families from Thiruvananthapuram’s Kocuthoppu village lost their houses due to flooding off the north coast of Vizhinjam. https://www.thequint.com/my-report/refugees-of-sea-erosion-in-kerala-living-in-warehouse-after-losing-their-houses#read-more  (06 Jan. 2022)

SAND MINING

SANDRP Blog 2021 Overview: Judiciary unable to fix Governance The various High Courts and the Supreme Court of the country have been trying to educate governments understand the spirit of Public Trust Doctrine, Precautionary Principle, Polluters Pay and Sustainable Development principles. However, the Judiciary’s approach of forming committees and awarding penalties is not working to curb the menace. The Judiciary also needs to bring into picture the biggest stake holder: the local communities. There is no compensation for the damages that the local communities suffer. https://sandrp.in/2022/01/09/riverbed-mining-india-2021-overview-judiciary-unable-to-fix-governance/  (09 Jan. 2022)

2021 Overview: Govts’ Changing Policies to Mine Revenues Broadly, every single state governments in India has made riverbed mining a revenue generation business where with each passing year the mining operations and revenue targets are only surpassing previous records, while the sustainability and governance issues are being buried even deeper. This has been common feature and sad reality of riverbed mining activities all through the pandemic year in India in 2021. In fact, now most of illegal, unscientific riverbed mining is happening in so called legally approved mining projects across the country. The state governments have been changing the policies only to relax norms to facilitate more mining and rely heavily on CCTVs, GPS, drones etc. for monitoring and norm compliance though these tools have proved of no good so far. However, the governments refuse to provide any key role for the local communities, the biggest stakeholders. https://sandrp.in/2022/01/04/riverbed-mining-india-2021-overview-govts-changing-policies-to-mine-revenues/  (04 Jan. 2021)

Uttarakhand HC stays new mining rules, issues notice to state govt According to the petition, the notification was violative of Article 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India, as it provides for allotment of mining leases by way of recommendatory procedure rather than by way of competitive bidding in total disregard of the State Mining Policy of 2017. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/uttarakhand-high-court-stays-new-mining-rules-issues-notice-to-state-govt-101641579287401.html  (07 Jan. 2022)

-The petition, filed by a resident of Nainital, alleged that the new mining policy was rolled out without taking approval from the MoEF&CC. It also alleged that due process was not followed while issuing mining leases to private parties and potential damage to the environment was ignored. In the new policy, the first right of quarrying on up to 5 hectares of land would be given to its owner and no individual will be leased out the quarrying right for two areas.

-It also entails that the government would give land on open bidding on all those reserved areas where its main three agencies – Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) and Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation (UFDC) do not carry any river-bed mining. https://theprint.in/india/ukhand-hc-puts-stay-on-new-mining-policy/797694/  (07 Jan. 2022)

लालढांग कटेबढ़ निवासी जसविंद्र सिंह ने शासन प्रशासन से उनकी जमीन पर खनन पट्टे को लेकर जांच की मांग की है। जसविंद्र का आरोप है कि खनन पट्टा धारक भाजपा नेता ने निर्धारित जमीन से आधा किलोमीटर दूर तक जबरदस्त खनन किया है। शिकायत के बाद भी शासन प्रशासन इसे अनदेखा कर रहा है। मजबूरी में उन्हें हाई कोर्ट जाकर खनन पट्टे पर स्टे लेना पड़़ा है। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttarakhand/haridwar/story-investigation-sought-in-mining-done-on-mining-lease-of-bjp-leader-5402332.html  (24 Dec. 2021)

नदियों में अब जेसीबी और पोकलैंड से होगी खनिज की निकासी शासन ने नदियों में मलबा, सिल्ट और आरबीएम (रिवर बेड मैटिरियल) के जमा होने से नदी तट में कटाव व आबादी की जान माल के नुकसान की आशंका को देखते हुए नदी से मलबा निकालने को रिवर ड्रेजिंग नीति जारी की है। इसके तहत नदी की सतह से तीन मीटर तक मलबा निकाला जा सकेगा। इसके लिए जेसीबी और पोकलैंड का भी इस्तेमाल किया जा सकेगा।

प्रदेश में अभी तक राज्य के नदी तल के ऐसे क्षेत्र, जिनमें चुगान के लिए स्वीकृति नहीं दी गई है, उनमें मलबा निकालने के लिए रिवर ट्रेनिंग नीति लागू थी। अब इस नीति में बदलाव करते हुए इसके स्थान पर रिवर ड्रेजिंग नीति लागू कर दी गई है। इस नीति में यह स्पष्ट किया गया है कि ऐसी नदी, गदेरे अथवा नहर, जिनमें मलबा, आरबीएम अथवा सिल्ट की मात्रा बहुत अधिक है, का आकलन करने के लिए सभी जिलाधिकारी उप जिलाधिकारी की अध्यक्षता में एक समिति का गठन करेंगे। यह समिति ऐसे क्षेत्रों को चिह्नित करते हुए इसकी जानकारी जिलाधिकारी को देगी। जिलाधिकारी द्वारा समिति द्वारा चिह्नित स्थलों से मलबा, आरबीएम और सिल्ट हटाने के लिए इच्छुक व्यक्तियों अथवा संस्थाओं से आवेदन प्राप्त करने के लिए खुली नीलामी की विज्ञप्ति जारी की जाएगी।

आवेदन करने वाले का राज्य का मूल निवासी होना आवश्यक है। आवेदन का यह कार्य जिलाधिकारी 15 नवंबर तक पूरा करेंगे। अनुमति देने की कार्यवाही 30 दिसंबर तक पूरी कर ली जाएगी। यह अनुमति छह माह के लिए होगी और मलबा निकालने का कार्य आदेश जारी होने के पश्चात अधिकतम 30 जून तक पूरा करा लिया जाएगा। मलबा दोनों किनारों से एक चौथाई भाग और पुल से 100 मीटर दूरी से निकाला जाएगा। राष्ट्रीय महत्व की सरकारी परियोजनाओं के निर्माण कार्य वाले क्षेत्रों में यह कार्य सरकारी कार्यदायी संस्थाओं अथवा उनके अनुबंधित या अधिकृत ठेकेदारों के आवेदन करने पर दिया जा सकेगा। एक ही क्षेत्र में एक से अधिक परियोजना होने की स्थिति में सरकारी कार्यदायी संस्थाओं के अनुबंधित अथवा अधिकृत ठेकेदारों को ड्रेजिंग कार्य की अनुमति प्रदान की जाएगी।

शासन ने खनिजों के भंडारण व परिवहन के लिए भी उत्तराखंड खनिज (अवैध खनन, परिवहन एवं भंडारण का निवारण) नियमावली 2021 जारी कर दी है। इसमें यह कहा गया है कि खनन पट्टाधारक, खनन अनुज्ञा पत्र धारक, स्टोन क्रशर, स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट धारक बिना पास के खनन का परिवहन नहीं करेंगे। ऐसा करने पर न्यूनतम पांच हजार रुपये का जुर्माना वसूला जाएगा। बिना अनुमति के जेसीबी का इस्तेमाल करने पर दो लाख और पोकलैंड मशीन का इस्तेमाल करने पर चार लाख तक का जुर्माना किया जाएगा। इसके साथ ही भंडारण के लिए नदी से दूरी भी तय की गई है। पर्वतीय क्षेत्र में बरसाती नदी से दूरी 25 मीटर और सदानीरा नदियों से 50 मीटर रहेगी। वहीं मैदानी क्षेत्र में बरसाती नदियों से भंडारण की दूरी 50 मीटर और सदानीरा नदी से इनकी दूरी 500 मीटर होगी। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/dehradun-city-minerals-will-now-be-extracted-from-jcb-and-pokeland-in-rivers-in-uttarakhand-22195745.html  (11 Nov. 2021)

This Aug. 29, 2021 report says nearly 32 bridges including foot bridges have been damaged in past 5 years and 27 are in bad shape for reasons including poor quality construction, lack of timely maintenance and excessive mining activities. https://www.livehindustan.com/uttarakhand/story-32-bridge-broken-dehradun-rainfall-27-bridges-dilapidated-rainfall-4464434.html 

सुखरो नदी में नहाने गए किशोर की डूबने से मौत  बुधवार (July 21, 2021) दोपहर डेढ़ बजे नयागांव बलभद्रपुर निवासी प्रियांशु (15) पुत्र मोहन सिंह अपने तीन अन्य साथियों के साथ सुखरो नदी में मंडी के पास नहाने गया था। नदी में तालाब बना होने के कारण वह पानी की गहराई नहीं भांप पाया और डूब गया। किशोर के साथ गए तीन अन्य बच्चों ने परिजनों को उसके डूबने की सूचना दी। सूचना मिलते ही लोग नदी की ओर दौड़े लेकिन नदी में गड्ढा गहरा होने के कारण वे बालक को नहीं निकाल पाए। उन्होंने इसकी सूचना पुलिस को दी।

सुखराे नदी से किशोर का शव निकालती टीम – फोटो : अमर उजाला

बालक के डूबने की सूचना मिलते ही पुलिस और एसडीआरएफ की टीम मौके पर पहुंची। एसडीआरएफ की टीम ने किसी प्रकार गहरी नदी से किशोर को बाहर निकाला। शव बाहर निकलते ही परिजन और स्थानीय लोग आक्रोशित हो गए। उन्होंने प्रशासन पर नदियों में अनियंत्रित खनन कराकर लोगों के जीवन से खिलवाड़ करने का आरोप लगाते हुए किशोर के शव को पुलिस को सौंपने से इनकार कर दिया। पुलिस के काफी समझाने के बाद भी लोग नहीं मानें। https://www.amarujala.com/dehradun/uttarakhand-news-boy-drowns-into-sukhro-river-and-died?pageId=1  (21 July 2021)

This report mentions death of about five people in deep mining pits in Malan, Sukharo and Khoh river of Kotdwar. https://www.pahadsmachar.com/exclusive/uttarakhand-assembly-of-harak-death-by-death-in-mining-pits-who-is-responsible-after-all/  (26 July 2021)

Tamil Nadu River sand mining set to return Clearing the decks for river sand use in construction after about a decade, the government fixed 1,000 per unit as basic cost of sand, and unveiled a set of guidelines to supply sand in a “fair and transparent manner”. To begin with, the department of water resources permitted 16 lorry quarries and 21 bullock carts’ sand quarries, which had EC, to operate. Following this, as many as 63 lorry quarries and 8 bullock cart sand quarries, which are in various stages for obtaining EC, would be permitted to operate as per the existing protocol said an order issued by Sandeep Saxena, additional chief secretary of the water resources department.

The order instructed authorities to give priority to online bookings from the general public for sand and said there will be centralised real time monitoring of sand depots and quarries to prevent pilferage. “The existing facilities like IP/ CCTV cameras with 24X7 live streaming and real-time monitoring of all shunting vehicles with GPS and prefixed geo fence will be strengthened in the centralised control room in Chennai to prevent pilferage and monitor quarrying activities,” Saxena said. Only after supplying sand to online bookings by the public – between 8am to 2pm – can lorry owners book sand between 2pm and 5pm depending upon the availability of the remaining sand, the order said.

Till a decade ago, river sand was a key construction material, but it grew scarce about five years back. Promoted aggressively by the then state government, m-sand replaced river sand almost totally in recent years. The present order marking the return of river sand into construction sector has come amidst allegations from environmentalists that m-sand caused irreplaceable damage to earth and its exploitation was rampant and unscientific.

While S Sridharan, chairman of urban development and housing, CREDAI National, said developers always preferred river sand to m-sand for plastering purposes, G Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal, an environmental voluntary group, said the government should explore alternative technologies in the construction sector so that natural resources are not exploited. Illegal smuggling of M Sand and river sand to neighbouring states must be eradicated, he said. “If smuggling is curtailed, about 40% of our natural resources can be saved,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/river-sand-mining-set-to-return-in-tn/articleshow/88783357.cms  (09 Jan. 2022)

HC restrains sand mining activities The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has restrained a man from carrying out sand mining activities on a portion of land located near a pond in Virudhunagar district. The local villagers had complained that rampant mining activities had reduced the groundwater level. A Division Bench of Justices S. Vaidyanathan and G. Jayachandran restrained R. Chithira Velu from carrying out the mining activities from the land in Kariapatti taluk in Virudhunagar district. The court was hearing the petition filed by C. Panthanam of Kariapatti. She complained that due to the rampant mining on the land, it affected the nearby waterbody and also resulted in reduced groundwater level. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/hc-restrains-sand-mining-activities/article38195188.ece  (08 Jan. 2022)

Bid to steal 100 tonnes of beach sand minerals foiled, 3 held Muthiahpuram police arrested three persons in connection to theft and criminal trespass into a sealed godown stashed with banned beach sand minerals at Pottalkadu village in the outskirts of Thoothukudi corporation area here on Saturday (Jan. 08). The suspects were all workers involved in packing the minerals. According to sources, the trio had gained entry into the godown premises owned by BMC minerals in Pottalkadu village of Mullakadu part-II village, and were preparing to load beach sand minerals into a lorry.

The team of government officials including Mines and Geology department Assistant Director Suhatha Rahim, who inspected the godown subsequently, the godown had only garnet sands packed over 640 bags each having one tonne capacity. Ascertaining that the gang trespassed into the premises to smuggle the minerals, the officials said that the workers had readied 100 tonnes of the minerals to be transported to Chennai in a lorry that brought PDS goods.

The godown had a stock of 640.29 tonnes of processed garnet, and 41719.54 tonnes of semi-processed garnets, as per the final report on the assessment of beach sand heavy mineral stocks. Even though the godown was assessed by Satyabrata Sahoo in 2017 as per court directions, however, it was not sealed by the tasildar, who is the head of the taluk level committee to monitor the beach sand godowns as per the high court order, a senior official said seeking anonymity. While sources said that the godown had a stash of ilmenite sand bags and the culprits had attempted to smuggle them to a private pigmentation factory functioning in Thoothukudi SIPCOT complex, the police said only a detailed investigation would reveal the truth. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jan/09/thoothukudi-police-foil-bid-to-steal-100-tonnes-of-beach-sand-minerals-three-held-2404845.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

Govt likely to stop import of river sand 3 years after introducing a policy allowing for the import of river sand to counter an acute shortage of the key construction material, Tamil Nadu may do away with the policy. While the contractor sourcing sand from overseas has been told not to proceed with anymore imports, new sand quarries to scoop river sand in different districts are in the offing. Consumer organisations have urged the government to make river sand from local quarries available to the public at nominal rates.

About 18,616.5 tonnes of river sand imported through three TN ports including Kamarajar port and Adani Kattupalli port on Chennai’s outskirts have remained unsold since mid-July. Now, according to a Public Works Department (PWD) order, the contractor importing sand has been given till June 2022 to complete the sale of existing stock. The initiative to import natural river sand was launched in September 2018, with most of it received from Malaysia.

PWD officials said import of river sand would be discontinued since there were few takers after the demand for MSand shot up. Pointing out that MSand was cheaper, they said the cost component was a major factor. “The government is planning to reopen 15 new sand quarries across the state, for which steps have been initiated to get necessary approvals,’ a PWD official said. While seven sand quarries are currently operating across the state, the new quarries are set to open in the first quarter of next year.

Tamil Nadu M-Sand Lorry Owners Welfare Association president S Yuvaraj said three units (300 cubic feet) of imported river sand cost Rs 40,000 including the charges for delivering it to construction sites. “But, the same quantity of MSand is available for half the price, Rs 19,500, and covers the transportation charges as well,” he added.

T Sadagopan, an activist who is president of the Tamil Nadu Progressive Consumer Centre at Pattabiram, said the cost of MSand had increased in a couple of months affecting individuals building their dream homes. “It is leading to friction between the contractors and those building their own houses as the construction cost spirals. The state government must ensure that nominal rates are fixed for river sand,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/tamil-nadu-likely-to-stop-import-of-river-sand/articleshow/87148995.cms  (20 Oct. 2021)

Key bridge on TN-AP highway damaged A bridge across Ponnai River in Vellore district has been damaged due to indiscriminate sand mining forcing suspension of movement of vehicles heading to Chittoor and Tirupathi in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh from Chennai and its adjoining places. The 13th pier of the bridge located at Ponnai was found damaged on Wednesday (16 Dec. 2020) and the government authorities were immediately alerted. Top officials, including divisional engineer (DE) of Tamil Nadu Highways Department SS Saravanan visited the spot to inspect the bridge.

A pier of the Ponnai bridge was damaged due to indiscriminate sand mining and the force of gushing water. (Photo | EPS/S Dinesh)

Indiscriminate sand mining by unscrupulous elements is stated to have caused damage to the bridge. “For the past thirty years, sand mining was done on the river bed. There was no action despite representing the issue to the government authorities. It has gradually damaged the bridge leading to the suspension of traffic now,” rued ‘Palleri’ K Raja, a farmers activist. Force of the flow of water, which has been running for about a month, is also cited as a reason for the damage caused to the pier. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/dec/16/key-bridge-on-tn-ap-highway-damaged-traffic-on-chittoor-tiruttani-section-diverted-2237100.html  (16 Dec. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Govt mulling both online, offline booking of sand The State government is considering a proposal to allow both online and offline booking of sand, said principal secretary (Mines) Gopal Krishna Dwivedi said. Recalling that customers faced hardships when the bookings were accepted only online when the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) took care of the sand operations, he felt that the presence of both the systems will allow customers the freedom to pick their preferred choice. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/dec/22/andhra-pradesh-government-mulling-both-online-offline-booking-of-sand-2398305.html  (22 Dec. 2021)

Sand trucks stuck in Krishna flash floods Following flash floods in the Munneru river under Kanchikacherla police station limits in Krishna district in the early hours of Saturday (Aug. 14), around 130 trucks and four tractors, ready to transport sand from the Krishna river, are stuck in the waters. The ramp leading to the quarry and the temporary road laid at the place were washed away in the floods. On being alerted by the truckers about the flash floods and their situation, Nandigama circle police and disaster response force swung into action and rescued more than 300 people using boats and ropes and gave first aid treatment to those who suffered minor injuries.

Meanwhile, truck drivers, who were rescued, are concerned that their trucks stuck in the river might get washed away causing them unrecoverable losses. They were also angry at officials, particularly the tahsildar, for not alerting them of the possible flash floods and demanded compensation for their losses. “It’s purely due to the negligence of officials who failed to alert us when they were aware of the floodwater released from above. Had they alerted us, we would not have ventured into the river to collect sand,” Raja, a lorry driver, told The New Indian Express. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/aug/14/trucks-seeking-to-transport-sand-stuck-in-krishna-river-after-flash-floods-300-people-rescued-2344663.html  (14 Aug. 2021)

Kanchikacherla Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) V. Rajakumari, who monitored the operation, said that the flood occurred suddenly when 75,000 cusecs of water was discharged from the Pulichintala project, besides inflows from Munneru and Kattaleru streams from Telangana.  “We climbed up the lorry cabins and shouted for help. The road laid to the ramp got washed away and the vehicles were caught in the flood water,” the rescued lorry drivers later said.  “As usual, we went into the river around midnight to load sand. Suddenly, flood water surrounded our vehicles and the road laid to the ramp got washed away in the early hours. It’s a rebirth for us,” says a driver Rama Krishna.

Many drivers, cleaners, workers and supervisors from Ibrahimpatnam, Kondapalli, Vijayawada, Nandigama and Kanchikacherla were working at the ramp, said Kanchikacherla SI J. Lakshmi, who visited the spot. “There was no alert on Saturday, which we usually get during floods. We got stuck in the river for about four hours. Police and fire personnel and local boat owners reached the spot and rescued us,” said a worker Rama Rao. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/flood-water-discharged-without-warning-say-rescued-staff/article35920311.ece  (15 Aug. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Govt cancels RKTC’s contract for sand mining, blacklists it The mining department has cancelled the contract of a mining company, digging out sand in Hoshangabad and blacklisted it, sources said. The department in January, 2021, awarded the contract to Chhattisgarh based company RK Transport and Construction (RKTC) for sanding mining in Hoshangabad district at Rs 261 crore. The contract was for three years.

According to sources, the company deposited only Rs 63.49 crore. Despite repeated notices served by the department, the company didn’t pay the installments of October, November and December, a senior officer of the Mining Department said. The officer added that the security deposit fund of the company would also be forfeited. “It has also been ordered to the company to pay interest on the dues,” the officer said, adding that Hoshangabad district Collector has been asked to take possession of the mines. https://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/hoshangabad-government-cancels-rktcs-contract-for-sand-mining-blacklists-it  (05 Jan. 2022)

Odisha Mafia’s Operation At Konark Caught On OTV Cam The notorious sand mafia’s illegal mining operations in Konark is posing a serious threat to the world-famous heritage site. Despite several attempts to curb the illegal practice, the mafias continue to over excavate sand right under the administration’s nose, throwing a challenge to the law enforcers. As per reports, the sand smugglers are carrying out their sly operations during midnight hours.

Hundreds of sand-laden trucks are seen swarming near different sites, from the sea beach to the helipad site. The smugglers have not even spared the Balukhand forest range. While locals have alleged the involvement of government officials with the mafias in the illegal mining operations, exclusive visuals of rampant illegal sand mining and transportation have been captured on OTV’s camera. https://odishatv.in/news/crime/sand-mafia-s-rampant-illegal-mining-operation-at-konark-caught-on-otv-cam-watch-167123  (27 Dec. 2021)

Punjab AAP alleges illegal mining in CM constituency AAP leader Raghav Chadha on Saturday (Dec. 4) alleged that illegal sand mining is being carried out in CM Charanjit Singh Channi’s constituency Chamkaur Sahib as he paid a surprise visit to a village there. Terming it an “expose”, the AAP leader also accused the ruling Congress in the state of “patronising” the sand mafia. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/aap-alleges-illegal-sand-mining-in-channis-constituency-chamkaur-sahib-346239  (04 Dec. 2021)

Haryana Deadly mix of ‘illegal mining’, disputed leases In 2020, after an order by the NGT, a six-member committee had conducted an inspection and submitted a report to the green court, stating that the mining project by Goverdhan had “illegally created a way in the forest area without having any valid permission”. The committee further stated that mining equipment and machines were found parked in non-minable forest areas during the time of inspection.

The 2020 committee had also raised concerns over the fact that mining was being conducted at levels deeper than allowed, and that given the terrain of the area, this was “unscientific”. An eight-member panel formed by the NGT to verify the report of the earlier committee, and which submitted its report in October 2021, also concluded that mining was being conducted in the protected forest areas, but dismissed the earlier panel’s report of the mining methods being “unscientific”. The committee further directed the Haryana government to recover the value of illegally mined stones from Goverdhan in order to compensate for environmental damage.

The NGT had also banned the operation of stone-crushing machines in Dadam for the last two months of 2021, citing high pollution. Operations in the mine resumed from 30 December. The day when the landslide happened, 1 January, was the second day of full-fledged operations in the mine. https://theprint.in/india/in-haryana-tragedy-deadly-mix-of-illegal-mining-disputed-leases-a-village-of-dependents/794927/  (05 Jan. 2022)

Former CM and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Wednesday (Jan. 5) said the state’s biggest scam involving thousands of crores of rupees happened in the Dadam mining zone, where five persons died in a landslide on January 1. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/dadam-states-biggest-scam-says-hooda-358570  (06 Jan. 2022)

पहाड़ खिसकने से हुई पांच लोगों की मौत के मामले में पुलिस ने गोवर्धन माइंस के ठेकेदार व कर्मचारियों के खिलाफ लापरवाही बरते जाने का मुकदमा दर्ज किया है। https://www.amarujala.com/haryana/bhiwani/crime/case-registered-against-unknown-in-bhiwani-mining-accident  (03 Jan. 2022)

घटना के 59 घंटे बीत जाने के बाद आखिरकार सोमवार (Jan. 03) शाम पुलिस ने पहली एफ़आइआर दर्ज कर ली है। बिहार के तूफान सिंह इस घटना में अपनी जिंदगी की जंग हार गए तथा उसके भाई मिथुन शर्मा की शिकायत पर पुलिस ने गोवर्धन माइंस के ठेकेदार तथा कर्मचारियों पर धारा 304 ए के तहत पहला मुकदमा दर्ज किया है। https://www.haribhoomi.com/app-lite/local/haryana/first-fir-in-dadam-mining-accident-case-against-the-contractor-and-employees-of-govardhan-mines-company-408044  (03 Jan. 2022)

भिवानी में सोमवार (Jan. 10) को रोडवेज बस और हाइवा में जबरदस्त टक्कर हो गई। हादसे में बस का पिछला हिस्सा पूरी तरह से क्षतिग्रस्त हो गया। हादसे में हाइवा चालक की मौत हो गई और बस के 20 से अधिक यात्रियों के घायल होने की सूचना है। घायलों को भिवानी के चौ.बंसीलाल नागरिक अस्पताल में दाखिल कराया गया है। हादसे की सूचना के बाद रोडवेज़ के जीएम और सीएमओ ने अस्पताल पहुंच कर घायलों का हाल जाना। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/haryana/hisar/bhiwani/news/haryana-road-accident-one-killed-20-injured-roadways-bus-truck-crash-in-bhiwani-129288288.html  (10 Jan. 2022)

Rajasthan पहाड़ और नदी सब खा गए खनन माफिया https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF2Isg_m8gY  (28 July 2021)

TN granite industry shifting to Rajasthan With raw material inaccessible in Tamil Nadu, many granite processing units are relocating to Rajasthan. About ₹1,000 crore of investments is lost due to this ongoing migration. And, because of the new units coming up in Rajasthan, some 600 small, ancillary units (cutters) are coming up in the State, which could mean another ₹6,000 crore of investment. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/tn-granite-industry-shifting-to-rajasthan/article38133583.ece  (05 Jan. 2022)

Jharkhand पश्चिमी सिंहभूम में 800 वर्ग किलोमीटर में फैला साल के पेड़ों का जंगल सारंडा खोखला होता जा रहा है। एशिया में साल के पेड़ों के इस सबसे बड़े जंगल की तबाही की वजह है खनन और पेड़ों की अवैध कटाई। इस दंश से न केवल जंगल खत्म हो रहा है, बल्कि जिंदगी भी तबाह होती जा रही है।

जंगल के इलाके में सबसे ज्यादा आबादी संथाल आदिवासियों की है, जिनकी भाषा “हो” है। इस भाषा में सारंडा का अर्थ है 700 पहाड़ियों से घिरी जमीन। जमीन के बाद सबसे ज्यादा संकट में यही आदिवासी हैं। इनकी आने वाली पीढ़ियां जेनेटिक बीमारियों के साथ जन्म ले रही हैं। करीब 90% आबादी गंभीर बीमारियों का शिकार है। प्रकृति पर निर्भर इन आदिवासियों के सामने पीने के साफ पानी और जलावन की लकड़ी का भी संकट है। भास्कर रिपोर्टर ललित दुबे और फोटो जर्नलिस्ट सुदर्शन शर्मा जंगल और आदिवासियों की जिंदगी पर माइनिंग के दंश की ग्राउंड रिपोर्ट… https://www.bhaskar.com/local/jharkhand/ranchi/news/430-sq-km-protected-area-in-danger-of-becoming-a-cemetery-90-of-forest-dwellers-are-suffering-from-diseases-129280060.html  (07 Jan. 2022) जंगल में खनन के लिए प्लांट लगे हैं लेकिन यहां रह रहे स्थानीय लोगों के पास रोजगार नहीं है. कंपनियां जिनकी जमीन खोदकर करोड़ों कमा रही है उनके पास हर दिन का पेट भरने के पैसे नहीं है. https://www.pankajpathak.in/2021/11/saranda-forest-jharkhand-truth-and%20fact-file-saranda-scheme-and-ground%20reality.html  (08 Nov. 2021) अफसरों ने रद खनन पट्टे पर दे दी माइनिंग की अनुमति https://www.jagran.com/jharkhand/ranchi-officers-gave-permission-for-mining-on-canceled-mining-lease-in-saranda-forest-saryu-roy-said-will-not-sit-silent-jamshedpur-news-21785949.html  (30 June 2021) सारंडा और चाईबासा के संरक्षित वन क्षेत्रों में भी लौह अयस्क (आयरन ओर) खनन का रास्ता बनाने की तलाश जारी है। केंद्रीय वन एवं पर्यावरण मंत्रालय इस मामले पर जल्द ही एक समिति का गठन कर सकती है। यह समिति यह संभावना तलाशेगी कि इन संरक्षित क्षेत्रों में लौह अयस्क भंडारों का खनन किया जा सकता है या नहीं। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory///centre-may-open-43-000-ha-of-jharkhands-saranda-forest-for-iron-ore-mining-66577  (06 Sept. 2019)

Hyderabad First open rock museum inaugurated Union Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, inaugurated India’s first Open Rock Museum, on Thursday (Jan. 6). The museum displays around 35 different varieties of rocks from different parts of India with ages ranging from 3.3 billion years to around 55 million years. These rocks also represent the deepest part of the Earth, up to 175 km of distance from the surface of the earth. https://telanganatoday.com/indias-first-open-rock-museum-inaugurated-in-hyderabad  (06 Jan. 2022)

Kerala Residents intensify stir against ‘mineral sand-mining’ at Thottappally Protest is brewing against ‘mineral sand-mining’ at the Thottappally coast in Alappuzha. The indefinite relay satyagraha being staged under the aegis of the Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samithi entered its third day on Saturday. In 2020, around 550 trees on a plot in the possession of the Irrigation Department near the Thottappally pozhi were cut down by invoking various sections under the Disaster Management Act. It was said the trees were felled to widen and deepen the mouth of the pozhi. The government further allowed the KMML to extract two lakh cubic metres of sand. “The KMML and IREL have so far transported 10 lakh cubic metres of sand from Thottappally. Apart from destroying the coast, indiscriminate removal of sand will result in the intrusion of saltwater into Kuttanad,” Mr. Kumar added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/residents-intensify-stir-against-mineral-sand-mining-at-thottappally/article34796402.ece  (12 June 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Kerala ‘Silver Line rail project will do more harm to environment than declared benefits’ A cursory glance at the project as projected in the EIA report demonstrates how calamitous the project would be to Kerala’s vulnerability, says former Chairman of the Delhi Urban Art Commission K.T. Ravindran urban designer and former Chairman of the Delhi Urban Art Commission, in an email interview to The Hindu amidst the growing controversy over the Left Front government’s decision to go ahead with the multi-crore project.

-It is a prerogative of an elected government to decide what is the priority for development. But at what social, environmental and monetary cost? The SilverLine project flies in the face of climate crisis. Any linear system of movement, particularly land-based, which is least flexible to accommodate variations in land profile or even curves and deviations remains the most interventionist on land. We already have a rail and road-based movement system that runs north-south against surface water flows in Kerala, one more rail line will spell disaster.

-Kerala’s landform has two side slopes. From the east to west the land slopes steeply from the Western Ghats to the Arabian sea, north to south from the laterite lands of Malabar to Thiruvananthapuram. The watery landscape of backwaters is the lowest where we saw the worst floodwaters during the last few floods. Besides this, the threat of sea level rise and storm surges from the Arabian sea are now even more severe threats. Kerala in other words is under assault from both sides, from the sea and the mountains by aggressive water flows.

-While in its north-south journey the SilverLine avoids the floodable lands, the EIA is silent on the new floodable lands that will result from the 292 km of embankments necessary for the rail gradient. These embankments will have variable impacts on the land and water flows and may completely alter the land west of it as well as land east of it. The EIA report, to its credit, has recognised and made detailed recommendations to mitigate the problems that may occur on the existing floodable land on the west of the line, while is completely silent on the impact the inevitable embankment will have on the eastern side of the line!

-Consider the fact that the embankments would run through paddy fields, bird sanctuaries, innumerable wetlands and wooded areas, rivers and river basins, all together about 101 km of land cutting and 11 km underground tunnel and so on. Let us not forget that most of the new alignment would severe the midlands from the coastlands of Kerala. It is in these midlands that the rich bio-resources of our Ayurveda tradition lie. Multiple streams run through the valleys of the undulating land in this region to create a unique biodiversity of medicinal plants, finally contributing to the river networks that traverse the State.

-Consider also the unpredictable alterations to local conditions that will ensue. Add to that the severe mud and debris wash down that happens from east to west. How will these accumulations of mud and debris affect the lands adjoining the embankments on the eastern side? What impact would it have on Kerala’s fragile food security and shrinking paddy fields? How many people’s livelihood, homesteads and daily movements would be impacted? What happens to nesting and breeding grounds of animals, birds and insects? Very consequential questions that cannot be ignored.

-The rehabilitation of thousands of families is part of the plan. Where is the land for that rehabilitation? How many new roads, bridges and other infrastructure are required to meet these requirements? Station locations also raise many issues. In most cases, they do not coincide with the existing railway stations. All along Malabar they run parallel to the existing line even though separate, are close to the present stations, but requires some commuting by passengers.

-The last mile connectivity from new stations to the settlements, highways, bus terminals, airports etc. would also create the need for a number of new roads, flyovers, parking lots etc. that would become the burden of local municipalities, apart from the added pollution load and social cost for the local people. New real estate demands would arise from the cost recovery plan as well as from opportunity cost consequent to the new station locations. How will these new areas be serviced by physical and social infrastructure? How would one ensure that the opportunities are open to local people? At this stage very little is known to the public about all these. If they are embedded in the ‘copyright-protected’ Detailed Project Report, would the benefits remain open only to those privileged with access to that information? Too many issues of public consequence, too much of environmental cost, too much social cost while the financial trajectories are in closed conduits.

-Overall, the environmental cost, social cost and monetary cost need reconsideration. An effective method could be in decentralised, regionally balanced plan for Kerala that relies on new technologies, which minimises the environmental cost. This could be a planned, slow and sustainable model that gradually grows qualitatively, more equitably and with least disruptions to Kerala’s increasingly vulnerable settlements. Such a plan would also address climate crisis issues softly in localised mode.

-Slow, inward growing, autonomous and locally-controlled circular economies would not require any project of the SilverLine scale. On the contrary, it merely needs modernisation of State-level assets like the railways, road and water networks to grow commensurately in quality. Future technology in transportation would revolutionise the automobile-based movement making much of our road expansion redundant while improved railway networks with local connect could also grow in progressive technology upgradation.

-The challenges thrown up by the climate crisis would anyway demand a total revisit of our patterns of habitation and transport. SilverLine for which the citizens would pay back for the next 35 years or so (till handing over the SilverLine to the Railways) would only add to the burden of the State. Obviously, the best alternative for the State is to modernise the existing Railway networks and stations. The Indian Railways, anyway, plans to increase the speed of few trains to 160 km per hour. If this is possible in the existing railway line in Kerala, we would have a transport system whose environmental cost is already paid.

-As the State’s lifeline, an upgraded railway would certainly see us through the impending uncertainties of the climate crisis. Increasing the burden of the people by additional indebtedness will adversely affect the entire developmental process for reconstructing our flood-ravaged State. The patterns of development based on fossil fuel driven transportation systems will be soon a thing of the past which would, if carefully planned, become the impetus for the next economic leap. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/interview-silverline-rail-project-will-do-more-harm-to-environment-than-declared-benefits-says-urban-designer/article38143758.ece  (06 Jan. 2022)

The suburban rail project proposed by the UDF as a substitute for SilverLine was a project rejected by the railways. Mathrubhumi News has received evidence of Indian railways’ decision to scrap the project in 2017.

Oommen Chandy had said that the Suburban railway is a better substitute for the SilverLine project. It was in 2016 that UDF introduced the proposal for suburban rail when their previous plan for high-speed rail got rejected. A feasibility study of the project was also conducted.

UDF targeted to construct the rail from Thiruvananthapuram to Kannur under a total expense of Rs 10,000 crores. It had been proposed to use the existing rail track for operating services from Thiruvananthapuram to Chengannur in the first phase. The study reports were also submitted to the railway board.

However, the board informed its final decision only in 2017 during the term of the Pinarayi government. By rejecting the proposal for suburban railways, the board asserted that the service will not be possible through the existing track. The board also advised constructing a new railway if it is necessary to take up the Suburban rail project.

The railway has not accepted that the Suburban rail project can be implemented as a substitute for SilverLine. Even if Kerala resorts to adopting the Suburban rail project, a new rail path should be constructed. This finding contradicts Oommen Chandy’s claim over the once rejected proposal.  https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/railway-had-rejected-udf-s-suburban-rail-project-confirms-document-k-rail-kerala-oommen-chandy-1.6344286  (09 Jan. 2022)

Maharashtra It’s ‘now or never’ to save existing wetlands Environmentalists have urged the authorities that the very fact that wetland birds like flamingos and ducks are being painted for beautification, it is high time that the civic body and others also protect the existing wetlands at Seawoods, Kharghar and Uran. The activists said that they are also writing to the Raigad and Thane collectors to include these wetlands in the updated list that will be sent to the state environment department by January 15 this year.

Welcoming the State Wetland Authority’s directive to district collectors to submit fresh, updated lists of wetlands, city-based environmentalists have said “this is the last chance” to conserve water bodies in Navi Mumbai where rapid destruction is in progress under the guise of development. The Wetland Authority, presided over by state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray, has sent instructions to all district collectors to submit their lists by January 15.

Activist Sunil Agarwal of Save Navi Mumbai Environment Group said, “We are already legally fighting to save the Seawoods-Nerul wetland of over 35 hectare, which the Cidco had planned to make a golf course and real estate buildings at the site. If the state government fully declares them as protected wetlands, then the thousands of wetland birds will continue to be seen in our city.”  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-its-now-or-never-to-save-existing-wetlands-or-flamingos-wont-come-back-warn-activists/articleshow/88695587.cms  (04 Jan. 2022)

Inlets to Panje wetland opened, Raigad collector tells NGT Nearly 8 months after the NGT first told the Cidco to ensure that all tidal water inlets to its 289-hectare (ha) property in Uran are opened immediately to ensure flow of seawater to Panje coastal wetland and its mangrove forests, the Raigad district collector informed the court on Monday that it has ensured Cidco’s compliance with these instructions.

Panje wetland, in Raigad district’s Uran taluka (which is known for harbouring flamingoes and other species of migratory wetland birds), has been significantly denuded over the decade due to reclamation, construction and hindrances to water flow. Last November, the Bombay high court (HC) had ruled that blocking the flow of tidal water to the area would be deemed a violation. In September 2018, Cidco had shut 76 sluice gates using a flood-control mechanism to close high-tide water ingress.

Some gates had also been damaged, which environmentalists said was starving the adjacent mangrove forests of water. In October 2019, following complaints submitted to the state mangrove cell and interventions by the wetland grievance redressal committee, these gates were opened by Cidco. However, five culverts, which form the main channel for the flow of water between Panje and the sea remained shut, prompting Navi Mumbai NGO Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) to file a petition in NGT. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/inlets-to-panje-wetland-opened-raigad-collector-tells-ngt-101636463947167.html  (09 Nov. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Govt renews push to get Ramsar tag for 13 wetlands Nearly 2 decades after Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary was designated as the lone Ramsar Site in state, there is a renewed push from the current government to get the coveted international recognition for 13 more important wetlands, for which proposal has been recently submitted to the MoEFCC. 

The Tamil Nadu Wetland Authority (TNWA) has been on mission mode ever since CM MK Stalin announced the Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission providing a budgetary allocation of Rs 150 crore. Environment Secretary Supriya Sahu told TNIE that out of the 13 wetlands, the Pallikaranai marshland in Chennai and the Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve in Ramanathapuram are in advance stages of getting the recognition. “The proposal is currently with the Ramsar Secretariat in Switzerland. The State has already given an undertaking before the MoEFCC that all efforts will be taken to protect and conserve the wetlands once they are designated as Ramsar Sites,” Sahu said. 

Deepak Srivastava, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Member Secretary of TNWA, said the National Atlas prepared by ISRO in 2011 proved that Tamil Nadu is a wetland-rich State. It has a whopping 43,916 wetlands, accounting for 6.92 per cent of its geographical area, as against the country’s 4.7 per cent. Despite this richness, it’s an intriguing fact that floods and droughts are becoming recurrent features. “When we do in-depth analysis of the reasons behind flooding, unplanned urbanisation in the past and loss of natural wetlands due to encroachments and land use changes come up as plausible causes,” he said.

Also, there is a misconception that once the wetlands are notified under Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 or designated as Ramsar site, it will adversely affect the traditional rights and privileges of the local communities, which is not true. “Only problematic and unsustainable development will be prohibited,” sources said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/jan/07/tn-renews-push-to-get-ramsar-tag-for-13-wetlands-2404052.html  (07 Jan. 2022)

NCR Najafgarh lake fails water quality test, finds report A report submitted by Wetland Authority of Delhi (WAD) to NGT says the water quality of Najafgarh lake does not meet the prescribed parameters with respect to pH and DO that will support propagation of wildlife and fish. As the lake falls in both Delhi and Haryana, NGT has directed both governments to ascertain the water quality status.

The lake receives a continuous input of sewage from Gurgaon and surrounding villages of Delhi. WAD told NGT that it was awaiting a green signal from MoEF for executing its environment management plan (EMP) for preventing entry of untreated sewage, removal of encroachment and conservation of the waterbody. “According to Wetland Conservation and Management Rules, 2017, in case of trans-boundary wetlands, the central government shall coordinate with the state governments and Union Territory administrations. Delhi government asked MoEF in August this year to clarify if it could go ahead with the execution of EMP or wait for Haryana’s plan,” said the report. Though Delhi had submitted its EMP in December 2020, Haryana submitted its plan in September this year.

The tribunal was also informed that an expert committee was examining Delhi’s EMP to identify actions that could be carried out independently. In EMPs of both Delhi and Haryana governments, most recommendations for immediate, medium (within 2-3 years) and long term (3-5 years) were almost the same. The common suggestions for immediate plans were notifications under wetland rules, boundary demarcation using geotagged pillars, constitution of Najafgarh Wetland Committee, constituting wetland mitras, commissioning hydrological assessment and species inventory and developing a comprehensive stakeholder-endorsed management plan.

The medium-term plans included providing alternate road connectivity to settlements at two ends of Najafgarh lake, thus reducing vehicular traffic, especially during peak migration season of birds, conducting carbon and greenhouses flux assessments to determine the role of Najafgarh lake in climate change, installing signage at entry and exit and at key vantage points to communicate the value of the lake and dos and don’ts for people while being in the wetland. The common long-term measures included implementing ecological restoration measures. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/najafgarh-lake-fails-water-quality-test-finds-report/articleshow/86922376.cms  (11 Oct. 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Uttarakhand जल संरक्षण की अनोखी मिशालजनमैत्री संगठन  रामगढ़ ब्लॉक के दर्जनों गांव में यही समस्या थी तो इससे समाधान के लिए भी ग्रामीण खुद आगे आये। ग्रामीणों ने जनमैत्री संघठन बनाया। पर्यावरण और जल संरक्षण के लिए वृक्षारोपण, जंगलों की रक्षा, चाल खाल की मुहिम शुरू हो गई। 2017 में ICSR ने इस इलाके के सतबुंगा, लोद, सूफी,पाटा गांवों में शोध कार्य कर ग्रामीणों को प्लास्टिक टैंक बनाने का सुझाव दिया। ग्रामीणों को इसकी तकनीक दी गई। एक टैंक को बनाने के लिए ग्रामीणों ने अपने घर, बगीचों के आस पास 5 फ़ीट का गहरा,10 फ़ीट लंबा और 10 फ़ीट चौड़ा गड्डा खोदा। उसके बाद उसे स्थानीय मिट्टी से लिपाई कर दी और उच्च कोटि के प्लास्टिक ढककर उसमे पानी भर दिया। पूरे इलाके में करीब 350 से ज्यादा ये वॉटर टैंक बनाये गए है। एक गड्ढे में करीब 10 हजार लीटर पानी आता है अब तक ग्रामीणों ने 65 लाख लीटर से ज्यादा पानी का संरक्षण कर लिया है। एक वाटर टैंक को बनाने में 4 हजार की धनराशि खर्च होती है जबकि राज्य सरकार सीमेंट के टैंक बनाने में 25 हजार से ज्यादा खर्च होता है। https://www.theruraltales.in/janamaitree-sangathan-uttarakhand  (27 Dec. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh In Bundelkhand’s Hamirpur district, Sant Krishnanand has alone dug a pond on 8 beegha of land. https://ashishsagarptb.com/Sucess-Story/details/1310/———

Mumbai From ‘nullah’ garden to Borivali’s ‘Palm Jumeirah’ Until four years ago, two 5-acre plots in Borivali west’s Chikuwadi, off the New Link Road, earmarked since 2013 in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) maps as “recreation ground”, were infamously named a nullah (stormwater drain) garden by locals. A stormwater drain carrying tons of the city’s sewage, garbage trucks kept the residents away from the vacant space. In 2014, the BMC decided to transform these plots, divided into two by a road intersection, into a palm garden and a Sugandhi or a scented garden.

6 years later, one of the plots is a dense and lush ‘palm garden’ called Gopinath Munde Manoranjan Maidan, with at least 17 varieties and 800 palm trees, including coconut, fishtail (leaves like the tail of a fish), foxtail, champagne palm, bottle palm. While another named after another BJP stalwart, ‘Pramod Mahajan Manoranjan Maidan’, holds at least 30 varieties of flowering and nectar plants, including garlic wine with vibrant pink flowers, fragrant white flower Anant, Rose, Parijat (Night-flowering Jasmine). https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-greens-nullah-garden-to-borivali-palm-jumeirah-7714416/  (09 Jan. 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Podcast Mridula Ramesh on what it would take to solve India’s water crisis How bad is India’s water crisis? What has led us to this place? And what can be done to solve it? In this episode, Sandip is joined by Mridula Ramesh to talk about India’s groundwater crisis. From the Indus Valley civilisation, to British policies that still affect us, Ramesh tells us about all that has caused India’s grave water crisis. https://indianexpress.com/audio/the-sandip-roy-show/mridula-ramesh-on-what-it-would-take-to-solve-indias-water-crisis/7714102/  (09 Jan. 2022)

Gujarat Study finds increase in salinisation of coastal GW Most parts of the 1,600-km Gujarat coastline is seeing salinisation of coastal groundwater, which results in deterioration of its quality, a research study funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences and National Centre for Earth Science Studies in Trivandrum, Kerala revealed. The study authored by IIT-Gandhinagar researchers — Chandrasekhar Bhagat, Anant Misra, Pranab Kumar Mohapatra — along with DS Suresh Babu of National Centre for Earth Sciences in Trivandrum and Manish Kumar of the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun, also notes that higher micronutrient load in south Gujarat coast owing to higher contaminants, made it more vulnerable.

To estimate the contaminant load reaching the seashore, the study also analysed the porewater samples for various trace metals such as zinc, strontium, cadmium, lead, chromium and iron. (TIE)

The study also raises an alarm on the contaminants entering seawater already being much higher than permissible limits and which is only due to increase with further urbanisation and industrial activities along the coast. The research study, published in the Science of Total Environment journal recently also points out that select points along the Gujarat’s coastline is losing less groundwater to the sea compared to other coastal regions in the country. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/study-says-gujarat-seeing-salinisation-of-coastal-groundwater-7663238/  (09 Dec. 2021)

Delhi Study to identify microplastic sources polluting GW “The Delhi govt has proposed a study on the presence of microplastic in groundwater, including the Yamuna. The study has been proposed in reference to NGT registering a case based on a TOI report carried in the Chennai edition,” said an official of the department, which is inviting an expression of interest to conduct the study. An official said, “As groundwater can stay in the same aquifer for many years, microplastics in the water could lead to long-term contamination. Some studies have linked higher contamination of microplastics to anthropogenic activities, including industrial activity, effluent discharge and dumping of waste.”

Many studies have shown that microplastics are harmful for marine life, including fishes and small organisms, Priti Banthia Mahesh, chief programme coordinator of Toxics Link, said. “Small organisms and fishes consume microplastics and, through that, it enters the foodchain and finally fishes land up on the plates of humans,” she said. “The impact of microplastics on human health needs to be studied urgently. Many toxic chemicals present in plastic are retained in microplastics, they biomagnify and may have a serious impact on all living beings and environment.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/study-to-identify-microplastic-sources-polluting-groundwater/articleshow/88576267.cms  (30 Dec. 2021)

URBAN WATER

Mumbai Take permission for well water’s non-potable use: BMC The BMC’s insecticide branch has issued notices to 251 well owners— of whom 216 illegally extract water and use it for commercial sale through tankers without the civic body’s permission—to seek permission for the use as per Central Groundwater Guthority (CGWA) guidelines. “Interestingly, there are over 19,000 wells across Mumbai, of which over 12,500 are borewells alone,” said groundwater activist Sureshkumar Dhoka. It may be recalled that Mumbai police had filed the first case of groundwater theft worth Rs 80 crore against a well owner. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/bmcs-notice-take-permission-for-well-waters-non-potable-use/articleshow/88699173.cms  (05 Jan. 2022)

Pune 24×7 water supply project under way without adviser The entire infrastructure work of one of the biggest projects of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is progressing without a professional adviser to guide the workers in the right direction. According to the PMC officials, the slow speed of work and obstacles in the project because of the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the exit of the consultant. It had charged the civic body Rs18 crore fees. The PMC’s hunt for a new company is still a “work in progress”, while a section of the civic staffers is now burdened with the additional “advisory” job.

Aniruddha Pawaskar, the head of PMC’s water department, said, “PMC staffers are shouldering the responsibility of all the works under way right now. The tender for a consultancy firm has been floated. Based on the bids and proposals, the decision about appointing the new consultant will be taken.” The lack of proper planning in the absence of a consultant is leading to repetition of works like road-digging, prompting wastage of public funds. Worse, commuters are being hassled.

The proposed scope to lay pipeline for the 24×7 water project was 1669.18km, which was revised to 1378.98km. Of it, only 605.93km pipeline has been laid so far. Around 59% work is pending. According to the revised survey, PMC has to install 2,55,541 water meters. Only 54,257 (about 20%) of them have been fitted so far. Almost 56% work of overhead tanks and service reservoirs has to be finished. Of 82 such facilities, the work for 31 is under way and 13 are stuck because of land acquisition and other issues. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/pune-24×7-water-supply-project-underway-without-adviser/articleshow/88784157.cms  (09 Jan. 2022)

Taking serious cognizance of the report published by the Hindustan Times on January 4 about the water leakage near the Pune Regional Transport Office (RTO) from the pipelines, now both, the PMC and Pune railway division workers have started the repair work. Almost 60 per cent of water leakage has stopped and the work will be completed in the next couple of days, said, officials. On January 4, HT published a report about the water leakage near the underpass bridge of railways near the Sangamwadi RTO as daily thousands of litres of water go waste due to leakage and it is also a threat to commuters. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/ht-impact-water-pipeline-leakage-repair-work-starts-near-sangamwadi-rto-101641490536382.html  (06 Jan. 2022)

PMC appoints consultant to prepare Pashan tunnel EIA PMC has appointed a consultant to study the environmental impact of the proposed tunnel from Pashan to Panchvati in the city. “The civic administration’s proposal to appoint a consultant for pre-feasibility study, techno economy report and environment impact assessment for the proposed tunnel from Pashan to Panchvati has been approved,” said Hemant Rasane, chairperson of standing committee.

He added, “Monarch Surveyors and Engineering Consultants Pvt Ltd has been appointed to carry out the necessary study for the tunnel. The PMC will pay Rs 72 lakh 70 thousand for the purpose.” The proposed tunnel has been receiving opposition from the citizens and environmentalists who cited possible damage to the environment on the Vetal Tekdi hills. The project is estimated to cost Rs 250 crore and is part of the development plan of the city. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-infra-watch-pmc-appoints-consultant-to-study-environmental-impact-of-proposed-tunnel-from-pashan-to-panchvati-7709627/  (07 Jan. 2022)

G Noida NGT asks authorities to end water pollution in urban villages The move comes after an environmentalist, advocate Akash Vashishtha, filed a plea before the NGT. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 provisions are being violated by the Greater Noida authority, thereby contaminating the ground water and creating health issues, alleged the petitioner.

“In view of above, let a joint committee of CPCB, state pollution control board, the Greater Noida authority, district magistrate Gautam Budh Nagar and secretary, urban development of UP, look into the matter and take remedial action,” said a bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel, justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member Dr. Nagin Nanda in an order delivered on January 4. The case will be heard again on April 8.

The NGT said that the CPCB and the UPPCB will be the nodal agencies for compliance and coordination. “The committee may meet within two weeks, undertake visit to the site, interact with the stakeholders and ascertain the action plan for remedial action, if any. The action plan may cover septage management, STPs. The Committee may also identify the authorities responsible for the failure and action to be taken against the violators or erring authorities,” said the order.

In 1992, the government established the Greater Noida authority with an aim to acquire agricultural land from farmers, develop it and allot the same for residential, industrial and other urban schemes. Spread on 38,000 hectares of land between Noida and Dadri, Greater Noida was developed by roping in land from at least 93 villages. Currently, no urban village sewer is connected to the STP for treatment. As a result, the sewage goes untreated into village ponds or spills over internal roads of rural areas, thereby polluting waterbodies and posing health risks to villagers.

“The Greater Noida authority is yet to lay the storm water drains and sewer network in at least 93 villages. As a result, we are failing to conserve rain water and also letting untreated sewage seep into the ground water table and pollute the source of drinking water. The villages are full of filth and untreated sewer causing several health issues,” said Vashishtha. The petitioner alleged that the authorities are not paying heed to their demands with regard to water needs and protection of natural resources.

The NGT observed that “The above averments depict unsatisfactory state of affairs and rampant violation of provisions of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and “Public Trust Doctrine” laid down in M.C. Mehta v. Kamal Nath, (1997) 1 SCC 388. There is also failure of the authorities to enforce citizens’ right to clean environment and the principle of sustainable development.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/greater-noida-ngt-asks-authorities-to-end-water-pollution-in-urban-villages-101641505239344.html  (07 Jan. 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

MoEF Notification on Utilisation of ash from coal and lignite based thermal power plant.

The ash generated from coal or lignite based thermal power plants shall be utilised only for the following eco-friendly purposes, namely:-

(i) Fly ash based products viz. bricks, blocks, tiles, fibre cement sheets, pipes, boards, panels;

(ii) Cement manufacturing, ready mix concrete;

(iii) Construction of road and fly over embankment, Ash and Geo-polymer based construction material;

(iv) Construction of dam; (v) Filling up of low lying area; (vi) Filling of mine voids;

(vii) Manufacturing of sintered or cold bonded ash aggregate;

(viii) Agriculture in a controlled manner based on soil testing;

(ix) Construction of shoreline protection structures in coastal districts;

 (x) Export of ash to other countries; (xi) Any other eco-friendly purpose as notified from time to time. https://moef.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Fly-ash-notification-2021.pdfhttps://moef.gov.in/en/s-o-5481e-notification-on-utilisation-of-ash-from-coal-and-lignite-based-thermal-power-plants/   (31 Dec. 2021)

WATER

CWC RESERVOIR STORAGE BULLETIN OF 06.01.2022  As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 06.01.2022, live storage available in these reservoirs is 124.312 BCM, which is 71% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs.

However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 124.224 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 104.121 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 137 reservoirs as per 06.01.2022 Bulletin is 100.07% 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/06012022-fbpdf.pdf

Book Review ‘Watershed’: Time to get water-wise by Sabita Singh Kaushal Today, water is a word of disquiet, laced with apprehension, foreboding and uncertainty. Heavy rains translate into less water, swift floods follow droughts, plummeting groundwater equals water-rich crops; all these and more ceaseless assaults of water-related news recur in our lives, again and again. The waters are shifting, and Mridula Ramesh’s new book, ‘Watershed: How we destroyed India’s water and how can we save it’, delves deep into this seemingly tectonic shift to the waterscape around us.

At some level, we all seem to sense this not-so-subtle change, but are somehow unable to put our finger on the right spot. This book takes us through a kaleidoscope of the nation’s fluctuating water resources, clamouring demands, the yearnings and the complexity that shape and fulfil our collective and individual water needs. Stitching together water stories from ancient India to modern urban cities, it traverses a journey that is both insightful and thought-provoking. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/book-reviews/lets-get-water-wise-359483  (09 Jan. 2022)

Gujarat 15 rendered unconscious due to gas leak at WTP in Kheda At least 15 people, including children, were rendered unconscious after inhaling chlorine gas that leaked from a cylinder in the premises of a water treatment plant in Matar taluka of Gujarat’s Kheda district, on Friday (Jan. 7), an official said. The affected persons, who lived near the plant, were admitted to a hospital in Tarapur town and were out of danger, fire officer Dixit Patel of Nadiad town fire brigade said. The incident took place at a 16 MLD-capacity water treatment plant of the state Water Supply Department, situated on the outskirts of Pariej village on Kheda-Tarapur state highway, an official said. https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/gujarat-15-rendered-unconscious-due-to-gas-leak-at-water-treatment-plant-in-kheda/847652  (08 Jan. 2022)

AGRICULTURE

Bihar A village in goes organic From blistered hands and racking coughs to financial savings and bright smiles – this is the story of women of Kedia in Bihar who took up organic farming. It has not just improved the health of their families and the soil, but also transformed their own lives. https://en.gaonconnection.com/bihar-organic-farming-women-empowerment-health-education-chemical-fertiliser-agriculture-vermicompost/  (04 Jan. 2022)

Rajasthan Barmer moving beyond desert staples bajra & cumin Agricultural scientists from KVK have helped Barmer to diversify its crops, and many farmers are reaping the gains – up to 5 times the amount of profit when compared to growing traditional crops. While in some areas, there is still no irrigation available for farmers, leaving them to rely heavily on patchy rainfall and thus growing only bajra and chana for sustenance, in others, farmers are now growing pomegranates and dates (since 2010), figs, and vegetables (started in the last two-three years).

Several farmers who grow the new crops have installed RO systems, while some others in areas with good water have taken recourse to drip irrigation. However, currently, these are only limited to affluent farmers with large holdings.  Along with plants, scientists are also experimenting with rearing crustaceans such as lobsters and prawns (jheenga), as well as freshwater rohu and carp (katla) in the desert environment to diversify the income of villagers. https://theprint.in/india/pomegranate-to-prawns-how-barmer-is-moving-beyond-desert-staples-bajra-cumin/795912/  (06 Jan. 2022)

WINTER RAINFALL 2022

Haryana Ambala: Excessive rains damage rabi crops in villages Incessant showers over the past week have damaged a large quantity of crops in various areas of Ambala district. As per India Meteorological Department (IMD) officials in Chandigarh, 42.1 mm rainfall was recorded in Ambala from January 1 to 8, 567% more than the normal 6.3 mm for this time of the year. Several rabi crops like wheat, potato and mustard have been damaged. The maximum losses have been reported from the Naneola-Naggal belt along Hisar Road in Ambala-1 block, officials said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/ambala-excessive-rains-damage-rabi-crops-in-villages-101641759744260.html  (10 Jan. 2022)

Heavy rains have lashed most parts of Haryana in the past couple of days and led to waterlogging in several urban and rural pockets of the state. As per the reports from the IMD, Haryana received 18mm rain in the past 24 hours.

Maximum 49mm rainfall was reported in Gurugram, followed by 30mm in Jhajjar district, 29mm in Yamunanagar, 26mm in Mahendergarh, 22mm in Faridabad, 21mm in Panchkula, 20mm in Ambala, 18mm in Sonepat, 17mm in Kaithal, 16mm each in Kurukshetra and Karnal and 15mm in Jind.

Residents of several northern and southern districts faced problems of waterlogging while farmers struggled to protect their crops from the water retention. Agricultural experts have termed the winter rains at this stage a boon for the wheat, but advised the farmers to protect their crop from waterlogging. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/heavy-rains-bring-back-waterlogging-woes-in-haryana-101641770845247.html  (10 Jan. 2022)

Gurugram 59.4mm rainfall The city has received 59.4mm of rainfall over the past 24 hours, with the IMD predicting more rains on Sunday (Jan. 09) too. The IMD also said that dense fog is expected over the NCR, including Gurugram, on Sunday (Jan. 9) morning. Navdeep Singh, a city-based weather expert, said that the sky will start clearing up after midnight on Saturday. “Upper level fog with reduced visibility is expected on surface level tomorrow and in upcoming days. No major western disturbance is expected at least up to 15 January, hence no rains expected,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/gurugram-receives-59-4mm-rainfall-more-likely-today-101641668759549.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

Heavy rainfall on Friday (Jan. 7) night and Saturday morning led to waterlogging in several parts of the city, including major intersections such as Huda City Centre, Hero Honda Chowk, Bilaspur Crossing and Iffco Chowk. Traffic was disrupted on several stretches such as the service lanes of the Delhi-Gurugram Expressway, between Khandsa and Kherki Daula toll, Narsinghpur stretch, Sheetla Mata Road, Golf Course Extension Road and Sector 10 stretch, said traffic police officials, adding that personnel were deployed at several spots to drain out water using water pumps. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/heavy-rain-inundates-major-intersections-in-gurugram-101641667860516.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

Ludhiana Rainfall in first 8 days of year breaks 5-decade record for January Breaking a five-decade record, the city has received 99mm rainfall in the 8 eight days of January alone, against the average 28.3mm, which is typical for the first month of the year. During the downpour on Saturday (Jan. 8), the city received 47.4mm rainfall, which outshoots the monthly average for January by 51.6mm. The last time the city had received record-breaking precipitation in January was 1992, when the city had received 83.6mm rainfall.

After a dry November and December, a western disturbance is causing heavy rainfall in the region. Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) experts say the city received a whopping 73mm rainfall between 5.30pm on Friday to 5.30pm on Saturday (Jan. 8). More showers are expected on Sunday (Jan. 9), after which the weather will clear. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/ludhiana-rainfall-in-first-8-days-of-year-breaks-5-decade-record-for-january-101641690738538.html  (09 Jan. 2021)

25.8mm rainfall in a week, breaks 23-year record for January The city registered record-breaking rainfall in the first week of January, the highest for the month in 23 years. The city usually receives an average rainfall of 7.6mm in January but this year, Ludhiana logged 25.8mm rainfall in the first week alone.

As per Punjab Agricultural University department of climate change and agriculture meteorology it was last in 1999 that the city had recorded 28.7mm of rainfall in January. Department head Prabhjyot Kaur said, “Usually we witness around 4.6mm rainfall in the first week of January, but this time, the city received 10.2mm rain in 24 hours, double the expected precipitation.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/ludhiana-receives-25-8mm-rainfall-in-a-week-breaks-23-year-record-for-january-101641597829360.html  (08 Jan. 2022)

Waterlogging was seen in almost all parts of the upcoming smart city, leaving motorists and locals a harried lot. Potholed roads and traffic jams added to the commuters’ misery. Some vehicles also developed a snag due to water accumulation. Ferozepur Road, Pakhowal Road, BRS Nagar Market, Gill Road, Model Town Extension, Shastri Nagar, Hambran Road, Chaura Bazar, Shivaji Nagar, and Dugri fared the worse, while the area outside the municipal corporation’s Zone C office was also in a bad shape. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/ludhiana-heavy-rain-water-logging-throw-life-out-of-gear-101641690798459.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

Chandigarh 57.2mm rain makes Jan. 8 wettest day since 2017 The city received 57.2mm rain throughout Saturday (Jan. 08), making it the wettest January day since 2017, according to the IMD. While 27mm rain was logged till 8.30am, another spell of 30.2mm showers was recorded till 11.30pm. This was the highest rain in a 24-hour period in January since 2017 when 59.2mm rain was recorded on January 7, according to IMD records. Just two days ago, the city had seen 30.9mm rain on Thursday (Jan.06) , the second-highest rain spell since 2017. In comparison, just 5.5mm rain was recorded in the entire January last year. Meanwhile, the weather department has forecast more rain on Sunday (Jan. 9) and Monday (Jan. 10). https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/chandigarh572mm-rain-makes-saturday-wettest-january-day-since-2017-101641681961334.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

The city received 30.9mm rain since Wednesday (Jan. 05) night, making Thursday (Jan. 06) the wettest January day since 2017, according to IMD. This spell of rainfall comes after all of December and most of November in 2021 remained dry. Just one day in November received 0.6mm rain, while December recorded only trace rainfall (less than 0.1mm). According to IMD records, Thursday’s (Jan. 6) rain was the highest in a 24-hour period in January since 2017 when 59.2mm rain was recorded on January 7. Interestingly, the 30.9mm showers also surpassed the 5.5mm rain received in the entire January last year. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/chandigarhwith-30-9mm-rain-thursday-was-wettest-january-day-since-2017-101641499900640.html  (07 Jan. 2022)

Delhi Overnight rain spell gives capital its wettest Jan in 22 years A widespread spell of rain on Friday (Jan. 7)night gave Delhi its wettest January in 22 years, just eight days into the new year, showed data from the IMD, as the showers mopped up the city’s pollution, giving the Capital an air quality index (AQI) lower than 100 for the first time since mid-October.

The IMD’s Safdarjung observatory, considered to be the official marker of the city’s weather, recorded 41mm of rain on Saturday (Jan. 08). The last time Delhi saw more rain in January was in 1999, when the city recorded 46mm of precipitation on January 7. The Palam weather station received 47.6mm rain during the same period, which according to IMD, is the highest rainfall in 27 years. On January 9, 1995, the Palam station recorded 52.2mm of rainfall. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/overnight-rain-spell-gives-delhi-its-wettest-jan-in-22-years-101641665279193.html  (08 Jan. 2022)

Rains and snowfall going on in several parts of North West Himalayan states on account of second Western Disturbance spell beginning on Jan. 06. All districts of Uttarakhand has seen large excess rainfall in past 24 hours. The Chauthan Patti of Pauri Garhwal has seen around 90mm rainfall since Jan. 08 noon.

DROUGHT

Karnataka Mild-intensity earthquake reported in Chikkaballapur  An earthquake of mild intensity, measuring 2.7 on the Richter Scale, hit Chikkaballapur district on Wednesday, January 5, the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) said. The tremors were felt in Shettigere, Addagal, Beeraganahalli, Gollahalli, Bogaparti villages for three seconds in the wee hours, according to authorities. Houses were damaged in a number of villages. Till now we have seen a few earthquakes up to magnitude 3.6 on the Richter Scale and there has been damage to mud houses whenever there is earthquake grater than 1.5 magnitude.

– On December 22, 2021, two earthquakes of magnitude 2.9 and 3.0 were recorded in Chikkaballapur. According to A Jagadeesh who is a seismologist at KSNDMC, the recent earthquakes were caused by heavy floods that the district experienced. “Chikkaballapur is a drought prone district and there hasn’t been much rain in the past 30-35 years. In 2021, there have been heavy floods. When there is so much rain suddenly, water enters fractured zones in the ground about 10 km deep and loose rocks start moving. This causes the earthquake,” he said. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/mild-intensity-earthquake-reported-karnataka-s-chikkaballapur-159521  (05 Jan. 2022) 

LANDSLIDES

Jammu & Kashmir 86 passengers rescued as landslides block Heavy rains in plains and snow in the upper reaches of Jammu and Kashmir continued to disrupt normal life on Saturday (Jan. 09). Fresh landslides were witnessed at around a dozen places on Jammu-Srinagar national highway. Poor visibility also affected flights in Srinagar. “All the 40 flights scheduled to operate at the Srinagar airport had to be cancelled due to snowfall,” an official of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) said. He said that snowfall had reduced visibility to less than 600 metres at the airport.

Jammu-Srinagar national highway was blocked due to overnight rains and snow that triggered fresh slides in Ramban district. “From Nashri to Banihal, NH-44 is completely blocked due to landslides, mainly at Cafeteria Morh, Sita Ram Passi in Maroge and Chanderkote. There are shooting stones at multiple locations,” said SSP traffic, national highway, Shabir Malik.

“About 50 light motor vehicles (LMVs) were left stranded due to the closure of the highway. A number of trucks also remained stranded while some 300 trucks carrying essential supplies to Kashmir including fuel and fresh vegetables were cleared,” Malik said. He said that 86 passengers, who were left stranded at Sita Ram Passi, were rescued in the wee hours of Saturday (Jan. 8) and shifted to a community hall in Ramban. The train service between Banihal and Baramulla section was also suspended. “Snow has accumulated in subdivision Banihal, Ramsu, Gool and therefore people are advised to stay indoors,” said MeT advisory.

Jammu-Poonch highway was also closed after fresh snowfall on Saturday. Mughal Road, another highway connecting Kashmir with Jammu via Rajouri, has been also closed due to accumulation of more than three feet of snow. Vaishno Devi cave shrine in Trikuta hills witnessed fresh snowfall on Saturday morning. “The yatra is on from the old traditional route. However, battery car service on Himkoti Marg and helicopter services remain suspended due to inclement weather,” said an official.

Jammu city and other plains were lashed by heavy rains in the past 24 hours. The hilly areas of Jammu, including Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Doda, Reasi, Poonch and Rajouri, experienced major snowfall, disrupting normal life. A head constable, Abdul Rashid, was injured when an official vehicle of a police officer rolled down a gorge at Patnitop on Friday (Jan. 07) evening.

A six month old baby boy was washed away in a flashflood in Kathua’s Malhar on Saturday. Kathua SSP Ramesh Kotwal said, “Despite heavy rains and swollen rivers, a family was crossing a nullah in Billawar area on Saturday, when the boy slipped out of the lap of his mother.”

In Kashmir, the impact of snow was more in southern parts of the valley and upper reaches. Some places in south Kashmir witnessed more than 2 feet of snow. Dozens of snow clearance machines were pressed into service in Srinagar city and other townships. At several places in Valley, the snowfall disrupted electricity. However, in most of the areas, power was restored by the evening.

“In an unprecedented Snow Clearance Exercise, @SMC_Srinagar cleared around 6013 roads, lanes, and bye-lanes in all 74 wards of Srinagar city by 12:00 noon today. The clearance was done throughout the night, early morning and still continues,” Srinagar mayor Junaid Azim Mattu said in a tweet. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/86-passengers-rescued-as-landslides-block-jammu-srinagar-highway-101641706641160.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Heavy snowfall hits road traffic, power supply Heavy snowfall in the higher reaches since Tuesday (Jan. 04) night has brought life to a standstill in the remote areas of tribal Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, Chamba, Kullu and Shimla districts. A total of 248 roads, including two national highways, a state highway and the Rohtang tunnel, have been blocked for traffic due to inclement weather. Maximum 137 roads are closed in Lahaul and Spiti district. Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass has been closed after a foot of snow was recorded at the North Portal, Sudesh Kumar Mokhta, the director of state disaster management authority, said.

The 3,978m Rohtang Pass has got more than four feet of snow. Multhan in Kangra, Prasher Lake in Mandi and Rakchham in Kinnaur also got 1ft of snow each that is still continuing. Sangla got 10 inches of snow, while Chanshal, Kalpa, Gulaba and Shikari got 8 inches each. Solang near Manali got 7 inches of snow, Jalori Jot 6 inches, Koksar and Sissu 5 inches each, Dodra Kwar 3 inches and Pangi valley 2.5 inches.

Triund, the trekkers’ destination above Dharamshala, also received snow, while the Dhauladhar Range wore a white mantle. Shimla SP Monika Bhutungru said the road from Kufri to Fagu has been completely blocked due to snowfall. People travelling between Shimla and Theog may use the Bhekhalti-Mashobra route. We suggest to avoid unnecessary travel during night time, she said.

More than 160 transformers, including nearly 66 in Chamba, were hit due to the snowfall, causing the suspension of power supply in the remote areas. At least 39 water supply schemes, 32 in Chamba alone, have also been affected. CM Jai Ram Thakur has urged tourists and local residents to avoid travelling to snowbound areas. He said the departments concerned are working to restore water and power supply besides reopening roads in the affected areas at earliest. The middle and lower hills experienced moderate to heavy rainfall. Dalhousie got 41mm of rainfall, Manali 40mm, Bhunter 32mm, Palampur 24.6mm, Dharamshala and Chamba 20mm each, Mandi 12.2mm and Shimla 11.6mm. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/heavy-snowfall-in-himachal-hits-road-traffic-power-supply-101641368060906.html  (06 Jan. 2022)

Hills being razed ‘illegally’ along highways in Kangra Hills are being razed with impunity along national highways in Kangra district to bring up commercial establishments. As per information collected by The Tribune, most of these hills are being cut without obtaining a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the national highways department in violation of rules and regulations, right under the nose of law enforcement authorities. Some of the places where hills are being cut using JCB machines include areas from Dharamsala to the Gaggal NH, near the tunnel on the Kangra-Ranital NH and near Narian Pokhar on Ranital to Dehra NH. The machines are cutting the hills from top to bottom and debris is being dumped into gorges along the NH.

Some of the places where hills are being pulled down using JCB machines include areas from Dharamsala to the Gaggal NH, near the tunnel on the Kangra-Ranital NH and near Narian Pokhar on Ranital to Dehra NH. The machines are cutting the hills from top to bottom and debris is being dumped in gorges along the NH. Though the said highways are being used by officials almost everyday to commute, no action has been taken to stop the illegal act. Officials are waiting for formal complaints to take action.. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/hills-being-razed-illegally-along-highways-in-kangra-357424  (03 Jan. 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

MoEF Overview 2021: Very high number of Env, Forests and Wildlife clearances granted in 2021 according to this report. https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/2021-was-a-record-breaking-year-for-environment-and-forest-clearances/  (07 Jan. 2022)

Part I of NGT) Yearly Round Up 2021 https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/national-green-tribunal-2021-round-up-nft-digest-189107  (09 Jan. 2022)

Report Changes to forest conservation act delayed after new objections A proposal to redefine India’s forests is back to the drawing board as the tribal affairs ministry and several states raised concerns that the proposed modifications are not in sync with the law that protects the rights of forest dwellers. The environment ministry had put out a consultation paper on amending the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 on October 2 for public comments. It received over 5,000 comments from individuals, state governments and experts, according to officials familiar with the matter. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/changes-to-forest-conservation-act-delayed-after-new-objections-101641749843786.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

Parliament Panel to hold wider consultations on Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill  The Parliamentary select committee on Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in its first meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 04) decided to consult all stakeholders across the country before submitting its suggestions as members flagged many loopholes in the proposed legislation, and may request for extension of the time period given to it to finalize the process in view of the current surge in Covid-19 cases.

Experts, meanwhile, questioned why the government didn’t seek public comments on the proposed amendment as it not only concerns every part of the country but also pertains to India’s international commitment under Convention on Biological Diversity. The Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) – New Delhi-based environmental research group – in its initial comment on the Bill said that the principal aims of the proposed legislation was to “reduce the compliance burden” and facilitate investment. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/parliamentary-joint-panel-to-hold-wider-consultations-on-biological-diversity-amendment-bill/articleshow/88703064.cms  (05 Jan. 2022)

Opinion Placing biodiversity at the centre of economic decision-making By Ruturaj Gowaikar. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/placing-biodiversity-at-the-centre-of-economic-decisionmaking-101641308642007.html  (04 Jan. 2022)

Himachal Pradesh 5 cases okayed under Forest Rights Act Today was a red-letter day for tribals of Kinnaur as five cases were approved under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 after a long gap. The cases were sanctioned at the meeting of the district-level committee headed by Deputy Commissioner (Kinnaur) constituted under the FRA. Over a period of time the tribals were not getting the benefits under the FRA. Deputy Commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq on Jan. 4 accepted the long-pending demand of tribals for restoring the rights by sanctioning five individual cases in Malling village under Pooh subdivision of Kinnaur district. Seven cases were taken up but two cases pertained to community rights. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/5-cases-okayed-under-forest-rights-act-357953  (04 Jan. 2022)

Chhattisgarh Centre permits mining in Hasdeo Arand area Despite protests by local residents, the environment ministry has permitted further coal mining in 1,136 hectares of land in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Arand, one of the last remaining old growth forests in the country. The forest advisory committee of the ministry on December 23 approved a proposal to extend mining in the Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) block owned by the Rajasthan’s power distribution utility, as coal reserves in the first allotment of 762 hectares was exhausted earlier than estimated. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-permits-mining-in-hasdeo-arand-area-in-chhattisgarh-101641317164153.html  (04 Jan. 2022)

Explainer The cost of plastic waste by Anusha Krishnan In India, landfills — synonymous with open dumping in many countries around the world, including India — are undoubtedly the cheapest, short-term option for managing solid waste, which usually contains about 6% plastic. Today, only 20% of collected waste is sorted and processed, while 80% is dumped as mixed waste into the 1,684 landfills that India currently has. On average, most urban local bodies spend Rs. 500-1,500 per ton of waste in ‘tipping fees’ for collecting, transporting, treating, and disposing of waste in dump sites.

Yet, landfills are not sustainable as mixed waste has severe ecological effects due to substantial emission of greenhouse gas such as methane and production of leachates. Toxic chemicals and microplastics leaching out of untreated waste piles are lowering life expectancies of locals. Calculations show that Delhi’s three landfills at Okhla, Bhalswa, and Ghazipur are collectively responsible for environmental damage worth Rs. 450 crores (Rs. 4.5 billion) as per a 2018 study by the NEERI, CPCB, and the IIT-Delhi.

In 1987, the first waste-to-energy plant in India was constructed at Timarpur, Delhi, in 1987 to generate 3.75 MW of electricity by incinerating 300 tons of waste per day. As the plant received low calorie waste (600-700 kcal/Kg) instead of high-calorie waste (>1462 kcal/Kg) it was shut down 21 days after it began operations. Since then, India has installed 14 more waste-to-energy plants of 130 MW capacity, of which half have been shut down while the operational ones are under scrutiny for environmental safety violations. In February 2017, the National Green Tribunal fined the Okhla waste-to-energy plant Rs. 25 lakhs (Rs. 250,000) for violating environmental safety norms.

A structure made with discarded plastic bottles at Fort Kochi in 2015. Photo by Augustus Binu/Wikimedia Commons.

Waste-to-energy plants have been unsuccessful in India due to several reasons. Firstly, most waste-to-energy projects rely on fuel from municipal solid waste, which in India, is of low calorific value. Secondly, waste-to-energy plants are expensive; despite several financial subsidies and incentives, electricity produced by these plants costs more (Rs. 7/kWh) than electricity from coal/solar plants (Rs. 3-4 /kWh). Lastly, these plants often burn mixed waste unsuited for incineration and manage emissions and fly ash so poorly that they are extremely polluting.

Yet in 2017, the National Thermal Power Corporation invited developers and investors to set up 100 WTE plants in the country. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy aims to generate 0.5 GW of energy from waste-to-energy projects across India, and has reached 40% of its goal. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/12/explainer-the-cost-of-plastic-waste/  (30 Dec. 2021)

Karnataka 77 officers got promotions sans Cabinet nod Promotions of more than 70 officials in the Industries and Commerce Department now seem to be in jeopardy. After the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) declared their promotion in 2016 as void, a section of employees in the department are now demanding the State Government implement the tribunal order directing a redo of the promotion list.

In the last five years, 77 junior officials in the department were allegedly given promotions, not once, but twice, without getting cabinet clearance. The 77 Industrial Promotion Officers (C-cadre) were promoted as Assistant Directors (B-cadre) in 2016 and, 70 of them were promoted again as Deputy Directors (A-cadre) in May 2021.  When the matter went to KAT,  it termed the promotions void. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2022/jan/09/77-karnataka-officers-got-promotions-sans-cabinet-nod-2404788.html  (09 Jan. 2022)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Southern States set for warmer winters, heavier and frequent rainfall From warmer summers and winters to heavier and more frequent rainfall, signs of changes in the climate pattern are expected across all States in South India over the next three decades, says a new study by the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP). The report, ‘District-Level Changes in Climate: Historical Climate and Climate Change Projections for the Southern States of India’, reveals changes in climate patterns that are likely to occur in South India over the next three decades, compared to the historical 30 years (1991-2019) in all the districts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.

– The maximum increase in the kharif season rainfall is projected in the districts of Andhra Pradesh (up to 29% increase). Rainfall during the rabi season is also projected to increase substantially in all the districts of South India, even up to 40% in Andhra Pradesh and 59% in Telangana. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/southern-states-set-for-warmer-winters-heavier-and-frequent-rainfall-study/article38198157.ece  (09 Jan. 2022)

Comment Baton of forest restoration in net zero race For carbon sequestration, India must revisit its policy framework and reverse fading participation of local communities writes Mohan Chandra Pargaien. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-baton-of-forest-restoration-in-the-net-zero-race/article38179497.ece  (08 Jan. 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Nepal MoU for energy corridor approved Union Cabinet on Thursday (Jan. 05) approved phase 2 of the green energy corridor under an intra-state transmission system to facilitate grid integration and power evacuation of approximately 20 Gw of renewable energy projects in 7 states. The scheme is expected to help achieve the target of 450 GW installed renewable energy capacity by 2030 and contribute to the long term energy security of the country.

“This scheme will add approximately 10,750 circuit kms of transmission lines and approx. 27,500 Mega Volt-Amperes transformation capacity of substations,” Union minister Anurag Thakur told a media briefing. With central financial assistance at 33% of project cost, the total estimated cost of phase 2 of the project is ₹12,031 crore. Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajashthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh will be covered under this phase.

Thakur also informed about the approval of a memorandum of understanding which will be signed between India and Nepal to construct a bridge over River Mahakali. The minister stressed that the bridge will help the people living in Uttarakhand’s Dharchula and in the area under Nepal territory. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cabinet-approves-mou-between-india-nepal-for-bridge-construction-over-mahakali-river-101641468315500.html  (06 Jan. 2022)

Pakistan Indus delta is in dire strait, needs to be considered as the fifth stakeholder in the Indus water share, besides the four provinces, experts say. https://www.brecorder.com/news/40144506/downstream-water-shortage-constitutes-serious-threat-to-indus-delta-experts  (04 Jan. 2022)

Nepal Cost of Sunkoshi-III HEP estimated at Rs 160 bl The cost of the 636 MW Sunkoshi-III reservoir type hydroelectricity project is estimated to be Rs 160 billion, the Department of Electricity Development said. A feasibility study conducted by the department is in final stages. The department’s engineer Subas Thapaliya said preparations have been completed for the draft report including the design drawing, geological survey, topography survey, estimated project cost, EIA, and the biological, economic, and social study of the project.

The public hearings for the project under EIA process were held in Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchowk, Ramechhap, and Sindhuli districts. People of three rural municipalities and two municipalities of Sindhupalchowk district, three rural municipalities and two municipalities of Kavrepalanchowk district, two rural municipalities of Ramechhap district, and one rural municipality of Sindhuli district will be affected by the project.  https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/cost-of-sunkoshi-iii-hydropower-project-estimated-at-rs-160-billion/  (04 Jan. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Nigeria Dams cause boat accidents and death among other issues. https://punchng.com/rivers-of-deaths-niger-govt-residents-lament-boat-accidents-as-flooded-dams-wreak-havoc/  (07 Jan. 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 03 Jan. 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 27 Dec. 2021   

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

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