DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 31 Jan. 2022: Withdraw the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021

A number of groups have rightly demanded that the proposed Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021, introduced in the Lok Sabha on Dec 16, 2021 and referred to a select committee be withdrawn.  

The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was tabled in Parliament on December 9/ 16, 2021 by Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav. It aims to make scientific research and use of biological diversity for traditional medicines. What the government stated in the objective of the biodiversity amendment bill is that the amendment seeks to reduce the pressure on wild medicinal plants by encouraging the cultivation of medicinal plants, that is, ex-situ conservation of medicinal plants, increasing the farming of medicinal plants, increasing the scope of the AYUSH system (the traditional medicine systems in India), facilitating fast-tracking of research patent application process, transfer of research results by utilising the biological research resources available in India, without compromising the objectives of the Nagoya Protocol (which promotes access and benefit sharing of resources). This is the stated objective of the biodiversity amendment bill.

The second significant point was that it expanded the NBA composition by adding many ex-officio members from different central government ministries. It aims to give more importance to the position of the secretary of the NBA. The position was upgraded to member secretary and gave it more power, such as the signature of the chairperson or member secretary would be enough to pass orders. One of the provisions in the amendment is that if a seed company or a farmers’ group has an approval or a right granted under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001 (PPVFR Act), then similar permissions are not needed under the Biodiversity Act. http://164.100.47.4/BillsTexts/LSBillTexts/Asintroduced/158_2021_LS_Eng.pdf

The Objections The Amendment is being pushed through rather fast and without much public discussion. The Biodiversity Act was developed in the 1990s through a systematic process of public discussions. The speed at which the amendment Bill was being pushed through raised the controversy. The Bill raised concerns since it gave exemptions to Indian medicine system. Critics felt that this could be used as a loophole by corporate interests to exploit the country’s biological diversity and the associated traditional knowledge. By referring the Bill to amend the Biological Diversity Act of 2002 to a joint parliamentary committee, the national government has temporarily put to rest the opposition and the controversy regarding the proposed amendment. However, resentment is there as the Bill has been referred to a JPC rather than a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

It seeks to bring in more “foreign investment” and fast-track the research and patent application processes as part of using India’s biological resources. Parts of the Bill seem to favour AYUSH medicine practitioners and Indian companies with foreign shareholding over scientists and local communities. LIFE called parts of the bill regressive.

On December 17, Rajya Sabha member and former environment minister Jairam Ramesh wrote to the Lok Sabha speaker protesting the Bill being referred to a ‘select committee’ instead of to the standing committee under the environment ministry – which is the norm. ‘Select committees’ that examine Bills comprise members of only one house of Parliament and typically those belonging to the ruling party. The members of the opposition usually chair the standing committees. Ramesh is the chairman of the standing committee under the environment ministry. “The motivations are obvious,” he added in his letter. (Dec 21 2021: https://science.thewire.in/environment/proposed-amendment-biological-diversity-act-trojan-horse-ayush-businesses-centre/) (Dec 24 2021: https://india.mongabay.com/2021/12/video-explainer-what-is-the-significance-of-the-biodiversity-amendment-bill/) (Dec 28 2021: https://www.barandbench.com/view-point/biological-diversity-amendment-bill-2021-implications-for-indian-entities)

LIFE: Excluding Codified Traditional Knowledge will be detrimental to the interest of farmers, conservers and holders of knowledge and will be in violation of CBD and Nagoya Protocol. Excluding Cultivated Medicinal Plants will be deprive farmers and cultivators of the benefit under ABS. Absurd to say that Farmers will benefit by being excluded from requirement of ABS. A Bill aimed to facilitate the destruction of India’s Biodiversity and usurp people’s right. (Jan 30 2022: https://twitter.com/lifeindia2016/status/1487808955254722561)

Monetising that which sustains life Since monetising the life sustaining systems is the premise on which these amendments are constructed, it is not surprising that they demonstrate an emphasis on a centralised rather than a federated, decentralised approach in developing plans and strategies for biodiversity conservation and regeneration. With this approach how will the stated objectives of the Act “conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits” be achieved? How will fair and equitable sharing of benefits (a phrase that the draft Bill has proposed as amendments to be included at several points in the principal Act) be achieved without clear and explicit provisions to enable a community-led process, embedded in local contexts? https://countercurrents.org/2022/01/biological-diversity-amendment-bill-2021-monetising-that-which-sustains-life/  (25 Jan. 2022)

Comments submitted by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy: https://vidhilegalpolicy.in/research/comments-to-the-joint-committee-on-parliament-on-the-biological-diversity-amendment-bill-2021/

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog Hydro Power Projects, Dams Accidents & Damages in 2021 Hydroelectric projects (HEPs) in India have been causing avoidable accidents and amplifying disaster potential, thus damaging the rivers eco-system, local environment and lives & livelihoods of communities. There have been several of such incidents across the country in 2021. In this report we put together a state wise account of most such incidents.  https://sandrp.in/2022/01/28/hydro-power-projects-dams-accidents-damages-in-2021/  (28 Jan. 2022)

Report Hydro capacity addition remains sluggish Hydro capacity addition in India has remained sluggish with the significant execution challenges, capacity addition being 22GW since 2000. Incremental hydro power generation capacity requirement is estimated to be 18 GW by 2030 as per projected Hydro puchase obligation trajectory, but that is clearly unlikely. HPO norms have been notified in a few states only. There is much better tariff competitiveness of solar and wind compared to hydro. The suggestion here that hydro is requierd for peaking supply has clearly not asked why existing hydro is not being used for optimum peaking supply. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/india-has-to-add-18000-mw-of-hydro-power-capacity-in-9-years-to-meet-hpo-norms-icra/89087673   (24 Jan. 2022)

उत्तराखंड  में चुनाव चमोली आपदा के ठीक एक साल बाद हो रहे हैं. भूस्खलन, उफनती नदियां, जल संकट और बर्बाद होते जंगल जिन पर सामुदायिक जीवन और मवेशियों का चारा निर्भर है. ये सवाल दलबदल, तोड़फोड़ और लूटखसोट की राजनीति में कहीं खो गए हैं. https://hindi.newslaundry.com/2022/01/25/climate-change-uttarakhand-elections-chamoli-disaster  (25 Jan. 2022)

MoEF Minutes of EAC on River Valley Projects held on Jan 12, 2022, key decisions:

1. 66 MW Khuitam HEP in 49.14 Ha at Village Rahung, Tehsil Dirang Circle, Dist West Kameng (Arunachal Pradesh) by Adishankar Power Pvt Ltd – Extension of validity of Environment Clearance: EC dated 28 Jan 2011. Work not started. No PPA (even now). EC can be extended by three years. APPROVED

2. 288 MW Sach Khas HEP in 125.5 ha at Village Sach Khas, Tehsil Pangi, Dist Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) by SJVN Ltd – Terms of Reference: APPROVED

3. Gond Major Irrigation Project (CCA 28,000 Ha) In Dist Singrauli Madhya Pradesh by MP Water Resources Department – Reconsideration of Environmental Clearance: PP Absent http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/2701202288535590ApprovedMoM22ndEACRVHEPheldon12-1-2021.pdf

MoEF Relevant agenda for FAC to meet on Jan 27, 2022: – DIVERSION OF 160.4 HA. OF FOREST LAND IN SAVADATTI (SAUNDATTI) TALUK, BELAGAVI DISTRICT (GHATAPRABHA DIVISION GOKAK), Karnataka FOR STANDALONE PUMPED STORAGE COMPONENT OF SAUNDATTI INTEGRATED RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT (IREP) IN FAVOUR OF GREENKO SOLAR ENERGY PVT LTD http://forestsclearance.nic.in/AgendaDetail.aspx?id=266!dis1&fbclid 

DAMS

Satellite image, collected on 22 January 2022, possibly showing the aftermath of the tailings failure at Thelkoloi. Image copyright Planet Labs, used with permission.

Odisha Thelkoloi: another tailings failure Dave Petley on Mining waste storage dam breach on January 20, 2022 in a slurry pond from the JSW Bhushan Power and Steel Limited works in Sambalpur district.  It seems that a tailings pond wall was breached, releasing tailings that inundated 20-30 acres (8-16 hectares) of farmland near to the village of Banjhiberana in Rengali block. The lat long of the location is likely to be 21.753, 84.036. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2022/01/24/thelkoloi/  (24 Jan. 2022)

Mekedatu Project Opinion Don’t kill the forest for the water AC Lakshmana former environment secretary Karnataka:- Series of Protected Areas of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu starting from Bannerghatta National Park and all along Cauvery Sanctuary, MM Hills Sanctuary, BRT Sanctuary, Satyamangala Sanctuary and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu, Bandipur and Nagarhole Tiger Reserves, Wayanad Sanctuary of Kerala are connected. The connectivity goes further northwards all along the Western Ghats and the coast of Karnataka right up to Kali Tiger Reserve in Uttara Kannada district and beyond.

Cauvery Sanctuary is the important constituent of the connectivity necessary for the movement for long-ranging animals starting from Mahsheer fish (T Rama Devi) to elephants and tigers; the schedule-I species under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The question often asked by those in favour of the project is, why not sacrifice some more forests for another project when the forests have already been diverted for several projects in the long chain of Protected Areas (PAs). Some others ask, how can conservation of forests and wildlife take precedence over the need of the human being?

We have already lost 14,000 hectares of forests in Saravathi Linganmakki submersion, 6,800 hectares for the Varahi project, 1,000 hectares for Talkalale reservoir, 1,880 hectares for Chakra dam, 2,000 hectares for Karnataka Power Corporation Township, 800 hectares for Saravathy tailrace project, 800 hectares for KPTCL projects and several thousand hectares for rehabilitation of evacuees from these projects. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/panorama/mekedatu-dont-kill-the-forest-for-the-water-1075344.html  (28 Jan. 2022)

Mullaperiyar dam CWC demands security checks Central Water Commission informed the Supreme Court that a new examination over the security of Mullaperiyar dam is imperative. The commission noted that the inspection of the supervisory committee suggests the safety of the dam as satisfactory. The Deputy Director of the commission Rakesh Kumar Gautham filed the report based on the present condition of the dam when the Supreme Court is about to consider the last hearing of petitions related to the Mullaperiyar dam on February 2.

The last scientific inspection of the Mullaperiyar dam had been conducted in the period 2010- 2012 under the Central water Commission, selected agencies of central government and a team of experts. It found that the dam is safe then. However, no detailed scientific examination of the dam has been carried out after this. Only the inspections of the supervisory committee appointed by the Supreme Court followed. The recent report of the commission also stated that the Kerala government is not giving permission to fell trees in the vicinity of the dam to strengthen it. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/central-water-commission-demands-security-checks-in-mullaperiyar-dam-supreme-court-dam-supervisory-committee-1.6396990  (28 Jan. 2022)

The status report said that in addition to the study conducted by the empowered committee, the supervisory committee had also visited the Mullaperiyar dam during the annual meetings held at the project site. Till date, 14 meetings of supervisory committee have been held, the last one being on February 19, 2021, it said.

In the minutes of meeting of 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th meetings of supervisory committee, it has been recorded that overall condition of the dam and its appurtenant structure, based upon visual inspection, is found to be satisfactory, the status report said. However, a fresh review of the safety of the Mullaperiyar Dam is now due and is required to be undertaken, it said.

The status report said that in a recent meeting of the supervisory committee held on December 8, 2021, Kerala had expressed displeasure on the erratic spillway shutter operation at the Mullaperiyar reservoir and the release downstream by the state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu submitted that as the rainfall data was made available to them by Kerala on daily basis and not on an hourly basis as envisaged from installing telemetry system, they don’t have sufficient time for making decisions in advance, it said.

The report said the supervisory committee, at its level, has requested Kerala to expedite the installation of requisite number of such telemetry stations so as to facilitate Tamil Nadu to provide timely inflow forecast which is used to release water from Mullaperiyar dam by opening gates. However, Kerala has not yet acted on its commitment to install the telemetry stations, it said.  https://www.news18.com/news/india/fresh-review-of-mullaperiyar-dams-safety-now-due-required-to-be-undertaken-sc-told-4708484.html  (28 Jan. 2022)

A CWC report to the Supreme Court, based on visual observation of the Mullaperiyar dam by the SC appointed Supervisory Committee over the years including last in Feb 2021, says that the dam is safe, but a fresh safety review of the dam is due. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/condition-of-mullaperiyar-dam-satisfactory-cwc-tells-top-court/article38336520.ece  (28 Jan. 2022)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Odisha Survey to determine profile of Mahanadi A hydrographic survey is being conducted at Hirakud Dam reservoir to ascertain the profile of Mahanadi river. The survey was launched after the Mahanadi River Dispute Tribunal asked Odisha government for the current profile of the river.

Mahanadi River (Photo | EPS)

The chief engineer of Upper Mahanadi Basin Ananda Chandra Sahu said the Tribunal has sought the survey report to know about the changes in the cross-section and longitudinal section of the river. Mumbai-based firm Siet Engineering Pvt Ltd has been entrusted with the survey work after tender process. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/jan/26/survey-to-determine-profile-of-mahanadi-river-2411509.html  (26 Jan. 2022)

Godavari Water Dispute Projects stay with us, TS tells GRMB Telangana irrigation officials once again made it crystal clear that the State would not hand over irrigation projects on the Godavari, except Peddavagu, to the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB). Participating in the GRMB sub-committee meeting held here on Monday (Jan. 24), the officials informed the Board that they had raised their objections in the 12th meeting of the Board about the inclusion of some projects in the gazette notification of the Jal Shakti Ministry.

TS officials said that they were not going to discuss any other project, as they were committed to hand over only Peddavagu, an inter-State project. TS officials also found fault with the GRMB for unilaterally preparing the handing over notes, without involving the subcommittee members. “Place all the issues relating to handing over of the projects in the full Board meeting and involve the sub-committee members in preparing the handing over notes,” TS officials demanded. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2022/jan/25/projects-stay-with-us-ts-tells-grmb-2410982.html  (25 Jan. 2022)

The government told the board that all the other projects and components on the Godavari mentioned in Schedule-2 of the Centre’s gazette notification exclusively serve Telangana and must be removed from the list. The government said that the visit of GRMB officials to project sites and the preparation of handing-over notes must be done only with prior approval of the board or the sub-committee. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/240122/telangana-tells-grmb-to-back-off.html   (25 Jan.2022)

Krishna Water Dispute Notice to TS on Dindi LI project  The Ministry of Environment and Forest has issued a show-cause notice to the State government recently seeking explanation on the execution of Dindi lift-irrigation project without environmental clearance from it. The issue of notice came to light after the Ministry filed an affidavit with the NGT when the latter sought clarification on a complaint lodged by Andhra Pradesh government that the project did not have environmental clearance. The Superintending of Engineer of the project Venkateswara Rao told The Hindu that they will reply to the notice saying the project did not require environmental clearance because it was initially grounded as a drinking water scheme. The question of clearance will arise In future when it was integrated as an irrigation project. The project was taken up with a capacity of 30 tmc ft to irrigate 3.40 lakh acres, he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/notice-to-ts-on-dindi-li-project/article38314443.ece  (23 Jan. 2022)

Telangana didn’t submit DPRs for Palamuru, Dindi lifts: NGT Panel  “PRLIS and Dindi LIS in Telangana are listed as major, ongoing, unapproved and non-operational in the gazette. The DPRs are required to be approved by the apex council within six months after publication of the notification. However, we haven’t received the DPRs in respect of PRLIS and Dindi LIS,” KRBM executive engineer Iva Sankaraiah informed the NGT. He recalled that the notification clause states that if any such completed unapproved projects in both the states must cease to operate if they fail to get approval.

As per the minutes of the second apex council meeting held on October 10 2020, it was resolved that both the states would submit DPRs of new projects to the boards immediately for appraisal and for subsequent sanction by the apex council. Both the chief ministers agreed to submit DPRs. On July 15, 2021, the Union ministry of jal shakti had notified the jurisdiction of Krishna River Management Board, which provides the required authority and power to the board in terms of administration, regulation, operation and maintenance of listed projects on Krishna river in the two States.

“Both the state governments shall stop all ongoing works on unapproved projects as on the date of publication of the notification until the said projects are appraised and approved as per the provisions of the (AP Reorganisation) Act in accordance with the decision taken in the second meeting of the apex council. If approvals are not obtained within six months after the publication of the notification, full or partial operations, if any of the said ongoing unapproved projects, shall cease to operate,” it said. “Within six months of the publication of the notification both state governments shall complete the unapproved projects appraised and approved as per the provision of the second meeting of apex council. If approvals are not obtained within the stipulated time of six months, such completed unapproved project shall cease to operate,” it added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/krmb-to-ngt-t-didnt-submit-dprs-for-palamuru-dindi-lifts/articleshow/89102730.cms  (25 Jan. 2022)

Cauvery Water Dispute Explainer on Hogenakkal project  On January 20, Tamil Nadu announced that it will implement the second phase of the Hogenakkal Water Supply and Fluorosis Mitigation Project at a cost of Rs 4,600 crore. Karnataka immediately raised objections, saying Tamil Nadu cannot go ahead with any scheme that utilises Cauvery water without its concurrence. Here is a detailed look at the project, why Karnataka is objecting to it and whether it can really block it: https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/dh-deciphers-what-is-the-hogenakkal-project-and-can-karnataka-really-block-it-1075790.html  (19 Jan. 2022) 

URBAN RIVERS

Musi; Hyderabad A cocktail of chemical waste The Muchukunda river popularly known as the Musi river once a fresh water river, which used to be a matter of pride has become an embarrassment for the citizens of Hyderabad. With the much-needed Musi river development and beautification project shelved, the water body continues to die a slow death as it currently stands as a cocktail of sewage, solid and chemical waste.

After incurring Rs 2 crore expenditure in the Musi rejuvenation project, the Musi River Front Development Corporation Limited (MRDCL) shelved it back on August 28, 2021, after heavy rains washed away their efforts. Officials said that they are preparing a DPR and creating a plan to keep all contingencies in mind. Currently, almost nothing is being done to stop the dumping of waste and polluted waste seeping into the river. Even the Rs 5.64 crore rubber dam had failed to filter the waste within 3 months after its installation, back in 2009 after it became choked with sewage and solid waste. The floating trash barriers set up to block the solid waste from entering downstream too failed as the dumping of trash and seepage of sewage is taking place across the stream.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/pride-of-city-musi-turns-into-a-cocktail-of-chemical-waste/articleshow/89081681.cms  (24 Jan. 2022)

Musi, Esa rivers to be adorned with 15 bridges worth Rs 545 crore The State government on Saturday (Jan. 29) accorded administrative sanction of Rs 545 crore for construction of 15 bridges along Musi and Esa rivers. https://telanganatoday.com/musi-esa-rivers-to-be-adorned-with-15-bridges-worth-rs-545-crore  (29 Jan. 2022)

As part of the project, some of the existing bridges are also proposed to be strengthened, besides development of surrounding areas along the river. While the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) would bear 50 per cent of the project cost, the remaining would be borne by way of bank borrowings by GHMC.   https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/300122/15-new-bridges-on-musi-esa-rivers-soon.html  (30 Jan. 2022)

The expenditure for the construction of the 15 bridges will be equally divided between HMDA funds and through bank borrowing by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), the order said. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/15-bridges-sanctioned-hyderabad-s-musi-esa-rivers-ease-traffic-160388  (30 Jan. 2022)

Chennai Buckingham Canal beautification project to be over by next month The beautification project, which was launched in June last year and proposed to be finished in six-month’s time, had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ₹20-crore project being developed under the MRTS railway line from Thiruvanmiyur to Kasturibai railway station once completed is set to give a makeover to the Buckingham Canal and attract hundreds of visitors. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/buckingham-canal-beautification-project-to-be-over-by-next-month/article38326336.ece  (26 Jan. 2022)

RIVERS

BRAHMAPUTRA Arunachal Pradesh Board begins survey for anti-erosion project at Remi river The Brahmaputra Board’s (BB) Itanagar Regional Office Head Gamno Kamki, accompanied by EE Migo Basar and two others on Friday (Jan. 28) visited the Mirem, Remi and Oyan portions of the Remi river and identified the “strategic sites for conducting technical surveys.”

In April last year, a three-member team of BB engineers, headed by Kamki, had visited different portions of the river. The engineers had assured to submit a DRP to the jal shakti ministry after conducting the final survey, but could not do so due to the Covid-19 situation.

“Pasighat West MLA Ninong Ering who had met the BB engineers last year, requested them to expedite the official procedures to get the project sanctioned at the earliest. He sought a project worth not less than Rs 300 crores, so that it can cover all the vulnerable areas along the Remi riverbed.

The Remi river, flowing down from the hills in Mirem, causes flooding on both sides of its banks every year during monsoon. It has already swallowed several acres of cropland and horticulture gardens in Pasighat West area. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/01/29/brahmaputra-board-begins-survey-for-anti-erosion-project-at-remi-river/  (29 Jan. 2022)

CAUVERY 2.1 cr saplings planted in 2 years by Isha Foundation Farmers in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have planted a record 2.1 crore tree-saplings in two years as part of Cauvery Calling, an initiative of Isha Foundation. The initiative encouraged 1.25 lakh farmers in the 2 States to adopt tree-based farming, coordinator of Cauvery Calling Tamilmaran told reporters on Saturday (Jan. 29). https://theprint.in/india/cauvery-calling-has-planted-of-2-1-crore-saplings-in-2-years-isha-foundation/816123/  (29 Jan. 2022)

GANGA Study Research identifies fresh ‘mixers’ in river pollution ‘cocktail’ Pollutants can move at different speeds and accumulate in varying quantities along rivers where the mix of the complex ‘cocktail’ of chemicals that is making its way towards the ocean is constantly changing, the study reveals. Researchers found that characteristic breakpoints – often found when a tributary joins the main river or significant point sources exist – can change the behaviour of some compounds, causing the concentration of these chemicals to change drastically, depending on where they are on their journey down the river. “The breakpoints we have identified in India change the behaviour of some compounds, altering the composition of the cocktail of chemicals flowing down the Ganga to the ocean,” Stefan Krause, Professor of Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry at the University of Birmingham said.

The professor said breakpoint analysis could be a “game changer” in understanding how pollutants travel along major watercourses – allowing us to identify the ‘hotspots’ which will shed new light on the behaviour of aquatic pollution and how better to tackle this global challenge. Experts discovered the phenomenon after piloting a new, systematic approach to understanding hydrogeochemical dynamics in large river systems along the entire length of India’s River Ganges (Ganga) – from close to its source in the Himalayas down to the Indian Ocean.

This new research approach proven successful at the iconic Ganga can be applied to other large river systems across the world – hopefully shedding new light on how to tackle the global challenge of aquatic pollution by multiple interacting contaminants. Publishing its findings in Water Research journal, the international research team reveals that chemicals including nitrate, chloride, sulfate, calcium, sodium and strontium are cut and boosted in different proportion by a series of breakpoints along the Ganga. They found that mixing, dilution and weathering are key processes controlling major hydrochemistry – identifying four major breakpoints which alter the concentration of at least four chemicals in the river. Five minor breakpoints affect the water mix of 2-3 chemicals, with two ‘single’ locations impacting on just one parameter.

Informed by a 2019 post-monsoonal survey of 81 bank-side sampling locations, researchers identified five major hydrogeochemical zones – characterised, in part, by the inputs of key tributaries, urban and agricultural areas, and estuarine inputs near the Bay of Bengal. “Our research helps to understand the downstream transitions in the chemistry of the River Ganga providing important baseline information and quantification of solute sources and controls,” said Laura Richards, the study’s lead author from the University of Manchester. “In addition to improving the understanding of a river system as environmentally and societally important as the Ganga, the systematic approach used may also be applicable to other large river systems,” Richards said. https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/science/research-identifies-fresh-mixers-in-river-pollution-cocktail/2416490/  (26 Jan. 2022)

NMCG After 7 years Centre mulls foreign model for river management After spending seven years and over Rs 20,000 crore for the Centre’s flagship Namami Gange project for cleaning of the river and its tributaries, India is looking towards the European and US river rejuvenation model for future policy planning and river management in the Ganga basin. After a recent meeting, the National Mission for Clean Ganga’s (NMCG) Executive Committee, recommended a proposal by the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) on the relevance of the European experiences for Namami Gange Programme (NGP).

The second project calls for developing new and innovative methods of mapping environmental changes along nallas throughout the Ganga Basin by Professor Anthony Acciavatti, Yale University, United States. This comes when the NMCG has repeatedly said that the foreign river cleaning experiences are not suitable for the Ganga programme. That’s because rivers in India are mainly rain-fed and the flow of water keeps changing throughout the year. Plus, lakhs of people are dependent on the rivers for survival. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/jan/26/after-sevenyears-of-namami-gange-now-centre-mulls-foreign-model-for-river-management-2411463.html  (26 Jan. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh Ganga missing from poll debate in Kashi Ganga activist Rajesh Shukla and local people, who revere the river as a goddess, are disappointed at the river’s absence from the poll debate this time and call it strange. Shukla, who cleans a stretch of the Ganga along a ghat daily, says, “In this election season, politicians (in Kashi) are quiet about cleaning the Ganga. It appears that this plank has been lost in the noise of other issues such as caste and creed. It is really disappointing.”

Government has built 7 STPs of 421 MLD capacity in Varanasi and come up with schemes like Namami Gange for cleaning the river. Varanasi generates around 350 MLD sewage, which used to flow untreated to the Ganga through 30 drains earlier. 22 of these drains have been tapped fully, while 2 others, including the ones at Khidkiya Ghat and Nagwan, have been partially tapped. The Samne Ghat and Nakkhi Ghat drains and two others have to be tapped yet, says an official of the state pollution control board, pleading anonymity.

Despite 7 STPs, including 5 new ones 100 MLD sewage, including 40 MLD from a drain at Khidkiya Ghat, 30 MLD in Nagwan, and 30 MLD from a drain in Mughalsarai, falls into the Ganga untreated because some drains have been only partially tapped. Executive engineer and project manager (Ganga Pollution Control Unit) SK Burman says except Goithaha, all STPs are working at full capacity. All the networks (pipelines) that carry sewage to the STPs are not yet fully connected, due to which only 40 to 45 MLD sewage is being treated at the Goithaha STP. Soon, all the networks will be connected to the STP and the sewage treatment will start working here soon at full capacity, he adds. UP Pollution Control Board regional officer Kalika Singh says a DPR is being prepared for one more STP of 50 MLD capacity to treat surplus sewage. https://www.hindustantimes.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly-election/ganga-missing-from-poll-debate-in-kashi-101643570063968.html  (31 Jan. 2022)

YAMUNA Delhi DJB starts sealing of industrial units polluting Yamuna  Yamuna cleaning cell has formed 11 teams to survey industrial and redevelopment areas to catch violators of norms. The teams will also have Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) members. The assistant chief engineers of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) will be heading these teams. The cell has focused mainly upon 25 redevelopment areas, where new surveys and checks have commenced. The teams have been directed to take action against illegal water-polluting industries with immediate effect. The exercise will be carried out assembly constituency-wise and action will be taken accordingly.

According to the DPCC, around 2,000 water-polluting industries are currently operating in Delhi in just the notified industrial areas. As per the latest directions, DJB officials shall issue a notice to the water-polluting industry if it finds that the establishment is not connected to any common effluent treatment plant. If, even after that, the industry does not comply with the rules and regulations, then it will be sealed and further notices will be issued to discoms and DJB to disconnect water and electricity supply to the unit. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/djb-starts-sealing-of-industrial-units-polluting-yamuna/articleshow/89143311.cms  (27 Jan. 2022)

Haryana NGT orders shut 15 chemical industrial units in Haryana for flouting norms https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/pollution/ngt-orders-shut-15-chemical-industrial-units-in-haryana-for-flouting-norms-81269  (DTE 250122)

Uttar Pradesh Yamuna lifeline of Braj region, but not talking point in polls Construction of Gokul Barrage in Mathura and Ganga water pipeline reaching Agra has reduced dependence of locals on the Yamuna as a source of drinking water. Both cities are in the Braj region. Lakhs of devotees, who reach the Vishram ghat and other prominent ghats in Mathura and Vrindavan, often find the water not matching the standards required for rituals or even for bathing, barring important occasions when extra flow of water is ensured.

Devotees offering prayers at Vishram Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna in Mathura, a key city in the Braj region of western Uttar Pradesh. (HT FILE PHOTO)

“The Yamuna had been an important source of drinking water on which a large population of Agra relied on for long. It was the lifeline for residents of Agra. However, the Gangajal project bought 140 cusec of Ganga water every day to Agra from the Palda headworks of the Bulandshahr Upper Ganga canal through a 165-kilometre pipeline and this resolved much of the drinking water crisis in Agra,” says environmentalist Braj Khandelwal who heads the River Connect campaign in Agra.

“Yamuna had been an issue in the polls of the past but is now only so for the Chaturvedi community residing near the Yamuna ghats. They complain of degradation in the quality of water available in Yamuna. Lakhs of devotees reaching Yamuna in Mathura and Vrindavan often hesitate to perform aachman (drinking river water as a ritual),” says Chandra Pratap Singh Sikarwar, a veteran journalist and member of the UP Bhujal Sarankshan Parishad, a body for underground water preservation.

“Yamuna faded as an issue in polls Mathura because the release of water, as required from the Hathini Kund dam in Haryana and from the Okhla Barrage in Delhi, is an inter-state matter where the elected MLA has no say. While those living near the river may press the issue before candidates for the Mathura city assembly seat, for other four assembly constituencies in rural Mathura, Yamuna is not that a big issue now. Further, Mathura has got a barrage at Gokul which helps in ensuring water quality at the Vishram Ghat in Mathura,” Sikarwar says about the situation in the Braj region. https://www.hindustantimes.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly-election/yamuna-lifeline-of-braj-region-but-not-a-talking-point-in-polls-101643570903900.html  (31 Jan. 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

West Bengal Sundarbans may be the last hope for critically endangered river turtles The Northern River Terrapin in the Sundarbans represent one of the largest colonies of the species in the wild. The release of the ten sub-adults this past week, tagged with transmitters that can last for 18 months, has been a cautious attempt to release them into the wild to measure how well the species is able to cope on its own.  “Releasing ten would not mean that you are rewilding the whole area with the Batagur baska. This is just an initial release to study their habitat preference, their mating patterns, their range, their preferred salinity levels, their food etc. We have very little data on them. These will be our pioneers from whom we collect data so that we can plan conservation efforts,” explained Jones.

The Batagur baska is a large river turtle with a carapace or hard upper shell that can grow up to 60 cm in length. This is a photograph of one of the ten sub-adults that were rewilded this past week, tagged with a transmitter. Photo credit: Dr. Shailendra Singh

In addition to predators, human interference is also a threat to these endangered turtles.  One of those threats includes the demand for turtle meat, considered to be a delicacy, especially across the border in Bangladesh, a large amount of which is transported from India. “The population has been declining for years and by the 2000s, the decline was so significant that we realised that the species needed support through conservation, breeding and repopulating so that they can survive in the wild,” said Jones. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/batagur-baska-the-sundarbans-may-be-the-last-hope-for-these-vanishing-river-turtles-7745742/  (28 Jan. 2022)

Odisha Gharials In Mahanadi: Govt Says Don’t Panic People living in villages alongside the Mahanadi river should not fret after spotting gharials in the waters and instead take care to promote peaceful co-existence with wildlife, appeals a top Forest official in Odisha.

Prof Sudarshan Maharana, the Forest department official while speaking on the sightings of a gharial near Madhusudan bridge over Mahanadi river in Cuttack ruled out any reason for panic over the reptile. Maharana assured that in order to raise the population of gharials in natural ambience, the Odisha government has released as many as 17 of them in the Mahanadi river system. Four gharials have been fitted with GPS device for tracking. Forest staffs are monitoring their movement in and around the areas of Banki and Naraj. Maharana informed that 13 of those released into the waters have not been spotted. Therefore, efforts are underway to trace them.

On May 2021, a forest protection team from Satkosia wildlife division had spotted a gharial nest with 28 hatchlings on the banks of Mahanadi river. The sighting of the hatchlings has brought about a fresh lease of hope in the years-long efforts of the Odisha Forest department which had been desperately trying to increase the gharial population naturally. Experts opine that lately, the habitats of gharials are under threat due to encroachment and extensive fishing. https://odishatv.in/news/miscellaneous/gharials-in-mahanadi-govt-says-don-t-panic-calls-for-awareness-to-promote-peaceful-co-existence-169442  (28 Jan. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Mudskippers spotted at Ennore estuary Almost every weekend, two youth in the city spend their evenings ‘herping’ at Ennore estuary. Since last year, more than their interest in usual reptiles, the duo have found a new amphibious fish, mudskippers, more interesting. They are found only in a few estuaries and mangroves unlike other fish and amphibious species, says Aravind Manoj, a techie. He and his his friend Sudharshan Kuselan are attempting to document mudskippers and their habitats. The duo has been in touch with academicians, who research on the species. They have spot five species of the reptile during their weekend ‘herping’.

“We were actually looking for the dog-faced water snake in Ennore and that was when we chanced upon the mudskippers. Initially, we were surprised to see the species and had several questions about them. So, I looked for more information about mudskippers and got to know they are rare and are found only in estuaries and mangroves.” They have taken images and are comparing notes with academicians researching mudskippers.

G. Mahadevan, Research Associate in Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology in Parangipettai, part of Annamalai University, says 13 mudskipper species are found in India. “My doctorate was in mudskippers and I have surveyed them in estuaries along with entire east coast and up to the Sunderbans. In Tamil Nadu, they are found near Ennore, Pichavaram and Muthupettai.” Mudskippers are said to be ‘pollution indicators,’ Mr. Mahadevan says. “When the pollution level in that locality rises, some studies suggest that the mudskippers move elsewhere. Since they burrow, they are believed to benefit the entire mangrove ecosystem.” He said he has read reports of mudskippers, located from Gujarat in the north and up to Karnataka in the South on the west coast. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/mudskippers-spotted-at-ennore-estuary/article38338767.ece  (28 Jan. 2022)

Arunachal Pradesh Villagers develop community reserve forest At a time when the state has been seeing a constant decrease in its forest cover over several years, the villagers of Chopnu in Longding district have set an example for others to follow by developing a community reserve forest on their own. “In 2008, the villagers unanimously adopted a resolution to develop a reserve forest in the Nanjunhua area. As decided, they purchased the land from the owners with fund collected from the villagers,” Chopnu village raja Choiwang Wangham said over the phone.

Wangham said that they are planning to convert the reserve forest into a wildlife sanctuary in the future. He sought help and assistance from the government “to fulfil the villagers’ dream.” “Even the village authorities have purchased land from villagers to extend the protected area having natural lakes and water bodies,” Kanubari MLA Gabriel D Wangsu said. “Jhumland, including pineapple gardens, were abandoned to further extend the area that today houses wild animals and birds,” he said.

Khiham, who played an important role along with the raja, the panchayat leaders and the village elders in developing the reserve forest, said there are two natural lakes, streams and nallahs within the reserve forest. “However, the waters in the lakes and the nallahs are slowly drying up,” he said. Khiham said that Wangsu has assured to get a project under the PMKSY sanctioned to conserve the water bodies in the community reserve forest. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/01/31/villagers-develop-community-reserve-forest/  (31 Jan. 2022)

Study Documenting the songs of frog species Frogs have different types of call to suit different occasions, a new study finds. It was known that birds sing different songs depending on context, yet this kind of behaviour has not been documented among the so-called simpler animals, the anurans (frogs and toads). This study, conducted by researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, has been published in the journal Animal Behaviour. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/new-study-documents-the-songs-of-frog-species/article38346057.ece  (29 Jan. 2022)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Maharashtra Deadlock with BMC stalls Mumbai CRP A part of the construction work on the ambitious coastal road project (CRP) in Mumbai has been stalled for over three months now, after fisherfolk and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) got locked in a tussle over the proposed distance between pillars.

Around 200 fishermen in the Worli Koliwada area, a traditional fisherfolk colony, are protesting the construction of pillars over the sea near Cleveland Bunder in Worli. They have only one demand — the navigation span between two proposed pillars should be around 200 metres. However, according to the BMC, a span of around 60 metres is enough.

The protest started a couple of months ago, but since then, the BMC has formed a panel to interact with the fisherfolk. The panel has held three meetings — on 1 November and 7 December last year and 7 January this year — and has expressed difficulty in changing the design plans at this stage. So far, however, there has been no resolution. The coastal road project is about 50 per cent completed and if this issue is resolved on time, then the project will be completed by December 2023, according to the BMC. https://theprint.in/india/what-will-we-eat-ask-fisherfolk-as-deadlock-with-bmc-stalls-mumbai-coastal-road/813379/  (27 Jan. 2022)

Karnataka Matsya Sampada offers lucrative fish farming subsidy The state government has introduced several new schemes in order to encourage pisciculture or fish farming activities in the state. It has been decided to increase fish farming in agricultural pits through the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY). The scheme has several plans like extending subsidy to those who conduct pisciculture, producing different fish breeds in the state and so on. The demand for fish is so high the fishing industry is unable to cater to it. Therefore the government has decided to encourage freshwater pisciculture and is extending grants and subsidies for this activity through the PMMSY.

For the scheduled caste and tribe individuals engaging in this activity, 60 percent subsidy is being provided. The state has decided to set up fingerling production units in the state to avoid dependence on Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Vehicles with freezer facility are available for transporting fish to the markets and arrangements to run them on solar and electricity have also been made, says minister for fisheries and ports, S Angara. A cooperative society of fish farmers will also come up to extend facilities like fingerlings, fish food etc. There is therefore hope that this will become a lucrative income generating activity. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=919570  (26 Jan. 2022)

SAND MINING

Punjab Illegal mining is no secret, but still an election issue Local activists allege that the sand mafia often works in cahoots with the local administration and the government of the day. Advocate R.S. Bains, who is fighting cases against illegal sand mining in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, claimed that the highest authorities in the state are involved. “The sand mafia owns the state cabinet. The state cabinet then makes rules so vague they can be easily bent for illegal activities to be carried out,” Bains alleged.  https://theprint.in/india/sand-mafia-goonda-tax-illegal-mining-is-no-secret-but-still-an-election-issue-in-punjab/814363/  (28 Jan. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh NGT seeks SEIAA response on plea on Betwa mining NGT has sought the response of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) over a plea filed against its Environmental Clearance granted for sand mining from Betwa river in Jalaun district. The NGT bench headed by its Chairperson, Justice (retd) Adarsh Kumar Goel, in a recent order, sought SEIAA and the sand miners — MPL Infra, Lucknow, and Mankemeshwar Infrastructure, Hamirpur to file their response within two months. However, declining to stay the operations, the bench said: “We are not inclined to entertain an application for ex parte interim stay, without considering the response of the affected parties, and the plea is accordingly disposed of.” It listed the main matter for further consideration on April 22.

According to the plea, Mankameshwar Infrastructure leased an area of 20.242 Ha for sand mining from river Betwa at Bhedikurd village of the district and MPL Infra leased an area measuring the same. The plea was challenging the ECs on the ground that the area falls in cluster being within less than 500 metres and thus EC has to be granted in accordance with notification dated January 15, 2016. The appellant has relied upon the order of the Tribunal dated September 23, 2021, in Ravi Kumar v. MoEF&CC & Ors, as per the order. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=919663  (26 Jan. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Najafgarh Lake NGT says Wetland Rules be strictly followed along with Guidelines by Ministry of Environment for rejuvenation of Najafgarh Lake, both by Delhi and Haryana. https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/ngt-says-wetland-rules-be-strictly-followed-along-with-guidelines-by-ministry-of-environment-for-rejuvenation-of-najafgarh-lake20220124144406/

The implementation of these Environment Management Plans (EMP) is to be monitored by the National Wetland Authority through the respective State Wetland Authorities. A status report on it is to be submitted to the NGT as of July 31. The NGT order also stated the outlet of the Najafgarh jheel, which leads to the Najafgarh drain, should remain free from sewage before it joins the Yamuna river.

The plans submitted by the two governments were integrated into a single framework that was approved by the MoEF in December last year. According to this plan, the top priority would be to notify the Najafgarh jheel and its area of influence under The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. The rules prohibit and regulate certain activities within wetlands and their ‘zone of influence’. Within notified wetlands, conversion of land within the area for non-wetland uses, and permanent constructions within 50 metres from the mean high flood level are prohibited.

In addition to notification of the wetland, the integrated plan lists immediate measures to be taken including demarcating the boundary of the wetland using geo-tagged pillars, and commissioning a hydrological assessment and species inventory. Medium-term measures to be implemented in two to three years include in-situ treatment of major drains meeting the Najafgarh jheel, regular monitoring of the waterbird population, and relocating flow obstructions such as power sub-stations. The jheel is known to be a habitat for migratory and resident waterbirds.

The plan submitted by the Delhi government also proposes a detailed estimation of sewage generation in the area considering 15 years of projected population, and identification of all drains contributing to pollution in the jheel.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/ngt-directs-delhi-haryana-to-enforce-najafgarh-jheel-restoration-plan-7739932/  (25 Jan. 2022)

Maharashtra A mural on Carter Road on mangroves In November 2015, as part of the Celebrate Bandra festival, sisters Aashika and Tanishaa Cunha were approached by the Bandra West Residents Association to create a public artwork that would pay homage to one of Carter Road’s oldest residents, the mangroves. The sisters — self-taught mosaic artists who go by the name A&T Cunha — turned over 25,000 pieces of glass and vitreous tiles into a mural called “Man Grows with Mangroves”. It’s a slice of mangrove paradise — a painted stork and a kingfisher sheltered between the branches and the water so blue, the kind Mumbai-residents haven’t seen in decades.

“The idea was to focus on the destruction of the mangroves and to create awareness around it,” Aashika, who is now based out of Singapore, said. While the mangroves that stretch along the promenade add to Carter Road’s beauty, they have become burdened with plastic waste over the years. In the mural, the mangroves appear free of plastic at their roots, as they once must have been. Aashika, 32, and Tanishaa, 25, researched the particular mangrove species, Sonneratia alba, that grows here. They learnt that mangroves have peculiar flowers, not always noticeable to the passers-by, as they bloom for a night or so.

In recent years, Mumbai’s mangroves have become a challenge to protect, with a number of infrastructure projects that threaten their very existence. Some weeks ago, the Maharashtra Maritime Board had approached the Bombay High Court seeking permission to cut the mangroves on Carter Road to place tetrapods to prevent coastal erosion. It was an application that has since been rejected after residents urged that the mangroves offer natural protection. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/man-grows-with-mangroves-a-mural-on-carter-road-on-mangroves-7747073/  (29 Jan. 2022)

Survey Gondia lake to declare it as wetland for Sarus conservation: HC Upset with little progress made by respondents to protect the Sarus crane species in Vidarbha, Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Thursday (Jan. 27) directed the State Wetland Authority (SWA) to survey a lake and adjoining areas near Gondia airport to inform whether it could be declared as wetland for conservation of the bird. The directives came after the HC was informed that the lake spread over 22 hectares is an excellent place, where Sarus are found in abundance and thrive, and therefore, it should be declared as wetland.

While adjourning the hearing by four weeks in suo motu PIL over dwindling habitat of the world’s tallest flying bird, and the challenges faced in its conservation and protection, the bench asked all respondents to file compliance report as per its January 5 directives. Earlier amicus curiae Radhika Bajaj pointed out that though several directives were issued in the last hearing, the compliance reports by respondents are yet to be submitted and it is not known what steps are taken by each of them. However, assistant government pleader NS Rao and Kartik Shukul appearing for other respondents pointed out that the two-month period for submitting replies were yet to be over and they would complete the formalities before the deadline. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/survey-gondia-lake-to-declare-it-as-wetland-for-sarus-conservation-hc/articleshow/89210988.cms  (30 Jan. 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Gujarat Opinion Reviving defunct bore wells, the Gujarat experiment  About success of the Motirayan village of Mandvi taluka, Kachchch district, in reviving the defunct bore wells and giving hope to the farmers sound elixir in the midst of the failing bore wells through K-MARC (Kankavati-Manage Aquifer Recharge through Communities) project in Kachchh. One of the meanings of the word kankavati is the ‘golden bowl’, which is used to keep turmeric and kumkum (red turmeric powder). And in the context of Kachchh, kankavati is water, and water is gold.

Interestingly, the entire financial resources for the project came from community organisations, religious groups and participating farmers. For instance, in Moti Rayan village, where it benefitted 65 bore wells, contributions came from Patidar Samaj (₹1 lakh); and its leaders (₹5,000); Jain Samaj (₹20,000); bore well owners (₹12,000 -14,000 each) and the 170 farmers in the bore well recharge command area contributed ₹1,000 each.

This project implemented in about 19 villages in Mandvi area of Kachchh has caught the attention of other villages also. Now an initiative is underway to identify the defunct bore wells in each village of Mandvi so that the project could be undertaken under the MNREG scheme. If this project materialises and is implemented according to the suitability of the places, it would benefit the enterprising farmers of the rain starved Kachchh district and inspire farmers in other rainfed regions of the country to save rainwater and revive the bore wells. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/elixir-in-the-midst-of-failed-bore-wells-evidences-from-kachchh-gujarat/article64943487.ece  (28 Jan. 2022)

Ladakh Artificial glacier gains popularity to solve water crisis People in several areas of Kargil and Leh districts in Ladakh have started creating artificial glaciers in many areas to overcome water scarcity in summers. Besides solving the water crisis in the region, these inventive stupas have also become an important tourist attraction in Ladakh. ” We face difficulties in summers when there are minimal water resources available for agriculture, thus over the years we have started creating artificial glaciers in many areas near to our fields that help us in irrigation during summer season for farming ” Asgar Ali , a local from Kargil said.

When the warmer, arid growing season arrives, the lower altitude streams quickly dry up and there is little water available again until June when the glaciers provide meltwater again. It is in this crucial window that the Ice Stupas start melting, offering an invaluable source of water for irrigation early in the growing season, extending the cropping season by a few weeks – which makes all the difference in this extreme agricultural environment.

Prominent Social activist from Kargil, Sajad Hussain Kargili said that these artificial glaciers are also called as ‘Gangri’ in local Balti and Purgi languages. He said that the government should come in support for creating such artificial glaciers here that will help to overcome water scarcity to a great extent here. “At the time when the government is talking tall over the Jal Jeevan mission scheme, however, it should focus on maintaining the glaciers and preservation of ecology and environment of this eco fragile region” Kargili said.  https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/artificial-glacier-innovation-gains-popularity-to-solve-ladakhs-water-crisis-in-summers  (25 Jan. 2022)

Hyderabad Start-up revives lost wells to help city’s sustainable development Over the last two years, The Rainwater Project has revived at least six wells in and around Hyderabad with support from other NGOs, private donors, etc.

Learning about traditional water systems, understanding the engineering behind it, location of water collection, and distribution points — the group has found and documented more than 200 heritage wells across Telangana in the last four years. “Along with the revival of wells, connecting water stories to urban stories, too, is important. These wells were public spaces of cultural importance. Restoring the structure and ensuring the quality of catchment, too, is important for its survival,” she noted. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-start-up-revives-lost-wells-7744614/  (28 Jan. 2022)

Tamil Nadu WRD plan to restore 83 tanks will benefit 14K acres With the Central government’s assistance, the Water Resources Department (WRD) has chalked out plans to renovate, repair and restore waterbodies across the State to increase the storage capacity, availability of drinking water, agricultural productivity, and groundwater levels. WRD sources said there were over 2 lakh tanks and minor irrigation sources in the State, but less than 90,000 are in use now. Most of these waterbodies have gone into disuse because of poor maintenance, encroachments, illegal use of land for construction, and the like. Thus, lakhs of hectares of land with irrigation potential have been lost in recent years, the sources said.

A senior WRD official told TNIE the initial plan was to restore 83 tanks in Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, Tiruppur, and Virudhunagar at a cost of Rs 46.81 crore.  Work on 50 tanks has been completed, and the rest is under way. Once these waterbodies are restored, 14,462 acres of agricultural land are set to benefit. The official also said removing encroachments is a major challenge. Though the Madras High Court directed the State and Central governments to evict encroachers, the revenue officials, who are tasked with this, face problems due to political pressure.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jan/26/water-resources-departmentplan-to-restore-83-tn-tanks-will-benefit-14k-acres-2411443.html  (26 Jan. 2022)

Maharashtra Over 1,000 ponds built along E-way spell boon to drought-prone farmers Over 1,100 artificial farm ponds and check dams have been built along the Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Mahamarg by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) in Vidarbha and Marathwada region over the last three years keeping in mind the drought faced by farmers in these regions almost every year. As farmers in Vidarbha and Marathwada region face water scarcity, government officials say that these new ponds and check dams will help store over 2,500 crore litres of water that can be used by them well after the monsoon. At the same time, the soil obtained by digging of ponds has been utilised for the elevation and construction of the expressway.

According to officials, the new farm ponds and deepening and broadening of check dams or rivulets have increased the water storage capacity of farmers in the area. It is expected that this will improve farm produce in the region as farmers would now be able to produce crops that they could not earlier due to scarcity of water after monsoon, they added. The scheme has been implemented by MSRDC following the nod from Maharashtra government to build these ponds alongside the Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg as part of water storage and management solution. Under the plan, the soil from the dug-up ponds along with the deepened and broadened rivulets was utilised for construction of expressway. Similarly, rivulets and small check dams were also revived by deepening, broadening and cleaning them.. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/maharashtra-over-1000-ponds-built-drought-prone-farmers-7749056/  (31 Jan. 2022)

Jharkhand School dropout cycles to pump water from pond Faced with financial constraints, Mahesh Manjhi the farmer from Murki village in  Hazaribagh ‘tweaked’ his damaged water pump to run on pedal power. Unlike conventional pumps that run on electricity and fuel, Manjhi’s pump can be operated by paddling an old bi-cycle which in turn generated power to pump out water from the ground to water his crops.

After a week’s trial, the farmer succeeded in his mission. Manjhi said he removed the motor fan from the pump and connected its bush with the bicycle wheel through a free-wheel with the help of chain, which rotates when paddled. Manjhi now irrigates his vegetable crops in his 2.5 acre plot using this pump efficiently from the nearby pond without investing a single rupee, he said. “It only requires one person to paddle the cycle.” The drawback is that the pump cannot extract deep underground water but Manjhi is making changes to make it more powerful.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2022/jan/26/school-dropout-in-jharkhands-hazaribagh-cycles-to-pump-water-from-pond-2411473.html  (26 Jan. 2022)

Report Innovative sewage solutions -But while wastewater pollution is a dangerous multiheaded hydra, there are a plethora of technologies and innovations being tested and implemented to tackle the crisis. The good news: each local solution that works, and can then be scaled up globally, offers an opportunity to start backing away from not just one planetary boundary breach, but several.

-Efforts are currently underway across the world not only to treat wastewater and offer adequate sanitation, but also to recover and reuse the valuable nutrients and freshwater we flush away daily as waste. https://news.mongabay.com/2022/01/innovative-sewage-solutions-tackling-the-global-human-waste-problem/   (25 Jan. 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Informative documentary on arsenic contamination of groundwater by Hridayesh Joshi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4eLpCQtQxg 

URBAN WATER

Mumbai BMC to spend additional Rs 360 cr on Powai-Ghatkopar After failing to get the stuck tunnel boring machine (TBM) removed safely, the civic body has decided to close the current contract and issue a new one to finish the Powai-Ghatkopar tunnel. For the work done so far—on the completed Powai-Veravali tunnel and incomplete Powai-Ghatkopar one—the BMC has decided to clear the payment of Rs 147 crore. The BMC will spend an additional Rs 360 crore to complete the project.

The Powai to Ghatkopar tunnel is supposed to be 4.4-km long

The project included a 2.2-km tunnel from Powai to Veravali and a 4.4-km tunnel from Powai to Ghatkopar. It was first awarded for Rs 182 crore in 2012 and was supposed to be completed within 52 months. Later, the cost escalated to Rs 223 crore. As per the proposal by the civic administration, which will be discussed in the standing committee meeting on Friday (Jan. 21), the BMC will now complete the transaction of Rs 147 crore for the work done so far, including Rs 38.5 crore to the contractor as the machine is stuck. While the tunnel between Powai and Veravali was completed and commissioned in November 2018, the one from Powai to Ghatkopar got delayed after the TBM got stuck in 2016.

The TBM of 2.8 metres in diameter got stuck after excavating 1,108 metres in June2016. The BMC approached several experts to remove the TBM safely, but to no avail. The next 90 metres of the tunnel was excavated with the support of steel ribs, but that took three years. Thereafter, the work was halted, as a geophysical survey found out that there is at least 120-metre patch ahead of the TBM that cannot be excavated through the machine. Now, the BMC will issue a fresh contract to finish the remaining portion of the Powai-Ghatkopar tunnel. It floated a tender last year to complete the project using another technique where 400 metres will be excavated using manpower. The tender process is being finalised, said officials.

The work of dismantling and removing the stuck TBM and finishing the remaining work will take another three years to complete, said an official. He added that as per the new contract, the design, planning and construction will be done by the agency, and in case of any accidents, the contractor will have to bear the cost. “We have completed at least 100 km of the water tunnel projects across the city, but this happened for the first time. The TBM got stuck due to geological formation and we weren’t able to push the project forward despite all efforts,” said Shirish Uchgaonkar, chief engineer of water supply projects. He added that the cost escalated as 10 years have passed. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/bmc-to-close-current-powai-ghatkopar-tunnel-project-contract-to-spend-additional-rs-360-crore-23211336  (26 Jan. 2022)

In a fresh attempt to tame the mountains of waste at India’s oldest landfill, in Deonar, an eastern suburb of Mumbai, the BMC has proposed a new WtE plant that can process about 600 tonnes of municipal waste a day and generate 4 Mw of electricity. The Rs 504-crore plant received environmental clearance from the MoEF earlier this month and is now awaiting approval from the SPCB. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/as-cities-buckle-under-urban-waste-waste-to-energy-plants-make-a-comeback-7979041.html  (25 Jan. 2022)

Mumbai has forsaken Deonar and its communities Journalist-activist Saumya Roy, whose non-fiction book charts the rise of Deonar’s waste peaks, talks about its past and possible future. https://scroll.in/magazine/1015800/  (27 Jan. 2022)

Hyderabad Govt to permanently solve drinking water problem Govt plans to bring the Godavari river water to Hyderabad from Kondapochamma Sagar and Mallanna Sagar reservoirs to permanently solve drinking water problem in Greater Hyderabad and surrounding municipalities. The two reservoirs were built as part of Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation scheme. The Telangana capital and surrounding municipalities are currently getting the Godavari and Krishna river water from Ramagundam and Sunkishala respectively.

Minister for municipal administration K. T. Rama Rao said CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao is working on long-term plans to take care of drinking water needs of Hyderabad and surrounding municipalities till 2051 and is keen to draw water from Kondapochamma Sagar to Gandipet (Osman Sagar lake), one of the oldest sources of drinking water to the city. He was speaking after laying the foundation stone for the Outer Ring Road (ORR) Phase-II drinking water supply scheme at Alkapoor Township, Manikonda on Monday.

The project being taken up at a cost of Rs 1,200 crore will cater to drinking water requirements of 980 colonies and gated communities within ORR jurisdiction. Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) has already completed ORR project Phase-I at a cost of Rs.775 crore providing water to 190 villages situated beyond Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and within ORR limits. KTR said Hyderabad and 25 surrounding municipalities are being currently supplied 600 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) water and the requirement by 2051 in estimated to be 1,000 MGD. He said the state government was working to ensure supply of 140 litres per capita per day (LPCD).

KTR said during the last seven-and-a-half years, the state government spent Rs 6,000 crore on improving water supply to Hyderabad and its surrounding municipalities. In its first term, the TRS government took up Rs 2,000 crore drinking water scheme in all municipalities and corporations around Hyderabad. Work is currently on to lay an additional pipeline from Sunkishala reservoir at a cost of Rs 1,400 crore. The first phase of ORR drinking water supply was taken up at a cost of Rs 775 crore while the foundation stone was laid on Monday for the second phase at a cost of Rs 1,200 crore. https://telanganatoday.com/telangana-to-permanently-solve-drinking-water-problem-in-hyderabad  (24 Jan. 2022)

Groundwater level reaches ‘critical’ mark The findings were revealed in the Dynamic Groundwater Resources of Telangana State -2020 report on Tuesday (Jan. 25). The three volumes of the report ‘Dynamic Groundwater Resources of Telangana State -2020 report’ was released by the Irrigation Special Chief Secretary Rajat Kumar. https://www.indiatoday.in/cities/hyderabad/story/groundwater-level-reaches-critical-mark-hyderabad-report-1904792-2022-01-26  (26 Jan. 2022)

According to the report, Hyderabad is the only district in the State that has been categorised as ‘critical district’ for groundwater. Mahabubnagar, Rangareddy, Jangaon and Rajanna Sircilla have been categories as ‘semi-critical districts’.

All the other 28 districts in the State have been categorised as “safe” for groundwater. Presently, about 93 per cent of villages and 70 per cent watersheds in the State come under the safe category, Rajat Kumar said. “Stage of groundwater extraction is 50 per cent (36 per cent in command and 61 per cent in non-command areas), which is 15 per cent lesser than the previous assessment. There is a reduction in the number of overexploited mandals — from 70 to 25 — and villages — from 1,745 to 721 — compared to the previous assessment,” Rajat Kumar said.

Rajat Kumar said that the reasons for increase in groundwater availability, decrease in groundwater extraction for all uses and stage of groundwater extraction are attributed to the initiatives taken up by the Telangana government through Mission Kakatiya, Mission Bhagiratha, construction of Kaleshwaram scheme and others.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2022/jan/26/ts-schemes-halt-groundwater-depletion-2411424.html   (26 Jan. 2022)

Vijayawada VMC ties up with start-up for disposal of cigarette butts to curb water pollution Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has tied up with SuP Eco App, a social entrepreneurship start-up, for scientific disposal of cigarette butts. Explaining the initiative to TNIE, VMC Additional Commissioner General (Projects) U Sarada Devi said it takes at least a decade for a cigarette butt to get decomposed. As part of the project, smokers can stub out cigarettes and dump them in plastic bins placed by the start-up at public places in the city. Sanitation workers will empty the bins and hand over the collected cigarette butts to a hired agency. It will transfer the butts to Noida-based Code Effort Private Limited, which recycles them into useful materials, she said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/vijayawada/2021/dec/10/vmc-ties-up-with-start-up-for-disposalof-cigarette-butts-to-curb-water-pollution-2393870.html  (10 Dec. 2021)

Bengaluru Industrial waste, sewage and encroachments take a heavy toll on Muthanallur lake The Muthanallur lake, spread over 600 acres and home to several bird species such as the Indian spot-billed duck, great cormorant, Indian cormorant and the little cormorant, is one of the largest in Bengaluru Urban district. Till a decade ago the lake could boast a good water quality, but it’s on the decline now, local residents lament. “Water from the lake has always been used for irrigation. It is sad to see the decline. With the increase in urbanisation, unfortunately the Muthanallur lake is paying the price,” said Veeresha Kumar, a local resident.

Till a decade ago Muthanallur lake could boast a good water quality, but it’s on the decline now, local residents lament | Express photo

As it is connected to other lakes such as Yerandahalli, Kachanayakanahalli and Chandapura, effluents from industrial houses reach the Muthanallur lake. The Yerandahalli lake, located in the Bommasandra industrial area, is highly polluted because of the untreated industrial discharge entering it. The lake also receives water from the KG Veerasandra lake, Hebbagodi lake, Kammasandra lake, Bommasandra lake, Helaligae lake, Jigani lake and finally connects with the last lake of Karnataka, the Bidarguppae lake. Most of these lakes and the storm water drains connected to them are polluted because of the industrial discharge from the Jigani and Bommansandra areas.

In 2019, social activist Captain (retd) Santhosh Kumar fought with the water tanker lobby. “Over 250 tankers could be seen on the lake bed pumping around 15 lakh litres of water to supply to areas like Electronic City and Bellandur during the peak summer season. It was a long fight and today not a single water tanker is seen around the lake,” he said.

Kumar said gram panchayats and municipal corporations were openly discharging sewage into lakes and storm water drains. Local residents also accused the Hennagara gram panchayat, Chandapura municipal office and the Bommasandra municipal council of failing to establish an effective waste management system. At the same time, government officials said five per cent of the lake’s total area had been encroached on for agricultural purposes.

In last May, dead fish were seen floating in the lake. “We tested the water in March 2021 and it was found to be fit for irrigation. A sewage treatment plant is needed at the lake so that only treated water enters the lake. The reason behind the fish deaths was untreated sewage entering the lake,” a senior member of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-industrial-waste-sewage-encroachments-heavy-toll-muthanallur-lake-7747666/  (30 Jan. 2022)

Ullal Lake is now a stinking bed of sewage The Ullal Lake, which sprawls over an area of 31.1 acre in the south-western part of Bengaluru, has lost its charm in the last one decade. Local residents say unplanned development activities of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), encroachment of the lake bed and lack of maintenance by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are the prime reasons for its pathetic state today. From outside, the lake seems fully fenced, guarded and equipped with a walking path. But upon entering the premises, the real state of the lake is exposed — partially filled with sewage water, there are layers of weed and algae on the surface of the lake and a stench in the air. Even a STP has not come to help.

“I have seen this lake filled with fresh water, a haven for birds and fish but today, it seems that a last nail on the coffin is being hit,” says D S Gowda, a resident of Sir M Vishweshwaraiah Layout and president of the local resident welfare association. According to Gowda, the lake was one of the best freshwater lakes in the city but died in just one decade. “I saw this lake in good condition in 2010 but now it is horrible. It is more of a fenced land now than a lake,” he says. According to Gowda, it is one of the oldest lakes of Bengaluru which was doing all good till Bengaluru started rapidly expanding. The lake is surrounded by the Sir M Vishweshwaraiah Layout, Railway Layout and other private layouts. BDA, which took the responsibility to develop the lake, damaged it more before handing it over to BBMP. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/development-bengaluru-ullal-lake-stinking-bed-of-sewage-7667940/  (12 Dec. 2021)

BBMP rejuvenates 8 out of 39 lakes 8 of the 39 lakes that the BBMP started rejuvenating about two years ago are almost ready while 7 more waterbodies will sport a new look by the end of next month. All the 39 lakes will be overhauled by the end of this year, officials said. Under the state government’s Bengaluru Mission 2022 programme, the civic body had set out to develop 39 city lakes that were in serious disuse. Then CM B S Yediyurappa had announced special grants of Rs 221.4 crore for the project.

The BBMP’s grand claims aside, several lake activists said they weren’t happy with the quality of work because important works had been dropped due to a funding shortage. Raghavendra B Pachhapur, who’s associated with NGO ActionAid, said the restoration of Dodda Kallasandra Lake had left a lot to be desired. “The BBMP didn’t follow the Justice NK Patil committee report which has laid down certain standards for desilting lakes. The BBMP didn’t listen to us when we pointed this out,” he said. “The lake bed is flat, and we fear different kinds of birds will just stop coming.” The lake fencing is also incomplete, he added.

Chaitanya S, who lives close to Thalaghattapura Lake, said the waterbody’s rejuvenation wasn’t up to the mark either. “The lake was last developed in 2011 but continued sewage flow had completely destroyed it,” she said. According to him, before the latest round of development, the lake resembled a ground covered with a thick layer of hyacinth. “The BBMP has removed weeds and silt, and built a sewage diversion channel, but sewage keeps flowing in,” Chaithanya said. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/life-in-bengaluru/bbmp-rejuvenates-8-out-of-39-lakes-under-mission-bengaluru-2022-1075381.html  (28 Jan. 2022)

KSPCB to take action against polluters of lake in Bengaluru outskirts SPCB has informed the Southern Bench of the NGT that it will take steps to identify polluters of Yele Mallappa Shetty Lake in Avalahalli village on Bengaluru-Hoskote Road and issue notices to them. The KSPCB in its affidavit before the NGT said that the entry of sewage into the lake was from unauthorised layouts in 110 villages near the water body.

The Bench was hearing a petition seeking remedial action against pollution in Yele Mallappa Shetty Lake. It earlier asked the KSPCB to submit an action taken report on maintaining the cleanliness of the lake. The Board also said the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) stated that the work for providing underground drainage systems to 110 villages along with terminal STPs will be completed only by 2025. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/kspcb-to-take-action-against-polluters-of-lake-in-bengaluru-outskirts-1071662.html  (16 Jan. 2022)

Chennai Drive launched against encroachments in Chitlapakkam lake amid protests The Water Resources Department (WRD) started the drive to clear encroachments from Chitlapakkam lake amid protests on Friday (Jan. 28). The exercise to demarcate Chitlapakkam lake’s boundary was started near Periyar Street. However, residents protested against demolition for a few hours.

Officials said portions of houses built near the waterbody were identified as encroaching into the lake area in Periyar Street. Steps were taken to clear the 14 encroachments and demarcate the water body’s boundary. Nearly 403 encroachments have been identified in the lake. The department has completed about 70% of the ₹25-crore project to rejuvenate the waterbody, including deepening and provision of flood regulators. Spread over 219 acres, it has a storage capacity of 7.02 million cubic feet.

Meanwhile, the Chitlapakkam Residents’ Associations Coordination Committee wants the Selaiyur lake to be restored and a new channel constructed to carry surplus water to Thiruvanchery lake. Committee convenor P. Viswanathan said sluices must be operated to divert excess water to Thiruvanchery lake. As the entire surplus water flowed to Chitlpakkam, it caused floods in the area, he said. Besides a detailed project for rejuvenation of the lake, the authorities concerned must also take steps to stop discharge of raw sewage into the cut and cover drain linked to the Sembakkam lake. The underground sewerage scheme in Chitlapakkam, which was dropped a decade ago, must be resumed, Mr. Viswanathan added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/drive-launched-against-encroachments-in-chitlapakkam-lake-amid-protests/article38340723.ece  (28 Jan. 2022)

Nearly 403 encroachments have been identified on Chitlapakkam lake. (File photo)

Following the encroachment, the Tamil Nadu government is set to reclaim at least 20 acres of the lake land on the western side of the lake, according to a report published in The Times of India (TOI).

After years of delay, the removal drive has been initiated after a recent Madras high court order to protect waterbodies and make the Chitlapakkam Lake a model waterbody for the rest of the state. The court insisted upon ensuring adequate safeguards, including deployment of personnel, to keep a watch on the waterbody, and make sure that no further encroachments take place in the future. https://www.indiatoday.in/cities/chennai/story/chennai-encroachment-removal-begins-on-chitlapakkam-lake-1905923-2022-01-28  (28 Jan. 2022)

E-coli found in drinking water samples  As per the recent data available, between January 1 and January 19, 2022, Greater Chennai Corporation’s health department lifted 356 water samples. In those, 17 contained E-Coli and in in Tondiarpet, Royapuram sewage contamination was found in 12 places. As 30 other locations had sewage overflow, they were referred to the Chennai Metrowater and Sewerage Board for rectification.

There are more than 17,000 public fountains in the city and 2,000 of them are in core residential areas. More than 4,500 water tankers supply water of which about 500 belong to metro water. Metrowater supplies about 895MLD every day and piped connection is given to 8 lakh houses.

R Ulaganathan, a retired Metrowater official, said a major project on leak detection of water supply system was done 20 years ago, and could be undertaken again to study the reasons for the contamination. A Metrowater official said the agency was planning a zone-wise comprehensive water distribution in the core areas where the water pipelines were 30-50 years old.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/e-coli-found-in-drinking-water-samples/articleshow/89126475.cms  (26 Jan. 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

Telangana Dumping yard create nightmare for residents The Shadnagar municipality dump yard is located between Solipur and Chilkamarry villages. During TNM’s visit to Solipur, several residents alleged that they’re facing skin and lung related ailments due to the heavy presence of polluted air in the region. The dumping yard emerged around 2014-2015, but in the last two-three years, nearly 40 to 50 acres of agricultural land around it has been left uncultivated or abandoned, residents say. Lavanya Gaddam, a 30-year-old farmer from Solipur, lives with her family in a newly-constructed home just 200 metres away from the dumping yard. The waste at the dumping yard is burnt at regular intervals during the course of the day. “We are falling sick regularly. Beside this, our vegetable crops are getting ruined due to the polluted groundwater and poisonous smoke,” she alleges.

Farmer Srikanth Goud showing his abondoned crop

And it’s not just the people of Solipur who are facing issues because of the dumping yard. The people of Chilkamarry village in Farooqnagar mandal have also complained of the immense air and groundwater pollution caused by the waste collected at the site. Srikanth Goud, another young farmer from Solipur, said they stopped cultivation on their four acres of land due to the pollution from the dumping yard. According to him, impurities seeping into the groundwater have made it impossible to continue their work. Some farmers even allege that their livestock have suffered dire consequences as a result of the dumping yard.

Much of the waste is reportedly being generated by the town of Shadnagar. The regular solid waste generated by households, hotels, hospitals and markets is collected and transported to the dump yard by Shadnagar municipality.  Singapaga Jangaiah, an environmental activist and Rangareddy district president of Telangana Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (T-MRPS), said that officials have long ignored their demands to shift the dumping yard from their locality. “The dump yard has no security. No one knows what actually gets dumped here. When the yard is overfilled, they will set the waste on fire, which lasts for two months.” In 2017, the Shadnagar Municipality had proposed a plan for a solid waste management system, through which a new site would be procured along with a processing facility and sanitary landfill. The project was supposed to take three years to complete, but it has still not been implemented. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/smoke-foul-stench-dumping-yard-create-nightmare-telangana-residents-160185   (24 Jan. 2022)

AGRICULTURE

Rains, hail affect rabi crops -For mustard and gram crops, especially in Rajasthan, hailstorms this month has been detrimental specially in districts like Bharatpur, Dholpur and Kota due to which there has been significant damage to the standing crop, said Hetal Gandhi, director, Crisil Research. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/unseasonal-rains-and-hail-affect-rabi-crops-in-north-india/articleshow/89076956.cms   (23 Jan. 2022)

NORTH EAST MONSOON 2021-22

Chandigarh Wettest January in history After three days of rain, clear sky is expected in the city from tomorrow. However, around January 29-30, another western disturbance is likely. This month, the city has already recorded 203.9 mm of rainfall, making it the wettest January ever in the history of Chandigarh. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/expect-clear-sky-from-today-364111  (25 Jan. 2022)

IMD South India records highest rainfall since 1901  As the northeast monsoon ended on Saturday, South India received 579.1mm of rainfall, its highest since 1901, said India Meteorological Department (IMD). As per the Annual Climate of India 2021 statement, released by the IMD, South India registered 171 per cent surplus rainfall during October-December season last year. For Tamil Nadu, this is the main season of rainfall as the state received as much as 48 per cent (447.4mm) of its annual rainfall during this season, reported the Indian Express.

During the northeast monsoon season, Kerala witnessed 109 per cent rains as compared to 2020. Likewise, Karnataka saw a surplus of 104 per cent rainfall as compared to 2020. Tamil Nadu and Puducherry also recorded 59 per cent excess rainfall. Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Yanam received 40 per cent and 24 per cent surplus rain in 2021 and 2020, respectively. During the season, all southern meteorological subdivisions recorded either normal or ‘excess’ or ‘large excess’ rainfall. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/northeast-monsoon-ends-south-india-records-highest-rainfall-since-1901-imd/852208   (23 Jan. 2022)

LANDSLIDES

Himachal Pradesh मैहला पुल के पास दरका पहाड़, मंडराया खतरा पठानकोट-भरमौर नेशनल हाईवे पर मैहला पुल के पास अब बड़ा खतरा मंडरा गया है। ब्लास्टिंग के बाद पहाड़ में लंबी दरार पड़ गई है। एक तरफ जहां पहाड़ी से भूस्खलन के कारण जहां बार-बार मार्ग बाधित हो रहा है तो वहीं, पहाड़ दरकने का नया खतरा देख ग्रामीणों में हड़कंप मच गया है। कुल मिलाकर मैहला से अब आवाजाही काफी ज्यादा रिस्की हो गई है। जानकारी के अनुसार मैहला पुल के पास संकीर्ण मार्ग को चौड़ा करने के लिए एनएच प्रबंधन की ओर से गत माह ब्लास्टिंग की गई है। ब्लास्टिंग के चलते जहां सड़क किनारे पहाड़ जर्जर हो गए हैं तो वहीं, दूसरी तरफ ब्लास्टिंग की धमक से अब पहाड़ में भी दरारें आ गई हैं।  https://www.amarujala.com/himachal-pradesh/chamba/mountain-cracked-near-maihala-bridge-danger-hovered-chamba-news-sml397722872  (25 Jan. 2022)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Green hydrogen policy to be unveiled in next 10 days: R K Singh The green hydrogen policy will be unveiled in the next 10 days featuring incentives like free transmission for 25 years to boost production of this clean source of energy, Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said on Thursday (Jan. 27). The minister also said that the policy will feature dollar denominated bids, offer of land in renewable energy parks and land allocation near ports for creating bunkers for green hydrogen or ammonia. About smart metering, the minister informed that the government will come out with an approved list of models and manufacturers for smart meters. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/green-hydrogen-policy-to-be-unveiled-in-next-10-days-r-k-singh/89174332   (28 Jan. 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Edit Wrong priority, wrong incentive Deccan Herald EDIT on Jan 27, 2022 on MoEF’s planned SEIAA rating concludes: As it is, the environmental impact assessment system has been diluted and is considered inadequate. The new grading system is likely to weaken it further. The government should drop this plan. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/first-edit/wrong-priority-wrong-incentive-1074983.html 

The Hindustan Times EDIT on Jan 24, 2022 says MoEF intention of rating SEIAAs is absurd. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/green-clearances-don-t-dilute-the-process-101642949523173.html 

All-India environment service The country’s response to environmental issues has mostly been reactive, with action being taken only when a problem arises. While this has entailed death and destruction, it cannot be denied that progress has been made to minimise damage, like in the case of Odisha that has reduced losses due to cyclones. Environmental issues may need an active approach which includes harnessing of resources, ensuring sustainability, creating awareness and an early warning system to minimise risks. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/all-india-environment-service-363842  (24 Jan. 2022)

Opinion Madhusudan M D While a recent India State of Forest Report (ISFR) said India’s forest cover has increased by hundreds of thousands of sq km, in reality it has declined. ISFR not only juggles data, but also passes off private tea estates, coconut plantations and even desert scrub as forests. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sorry-india-you-were-fooled-your-forest-cover-has-not-increased/articleshow/89076511.cms  (24 Jan. 2022)

Report ‘Inaccuracies, procedural violations’ in Great Nicobar draft EIA  Pankaj Sekhsaria Public hearing scheduled for January 27 amid concerns over the independence and expertise of the consultant appointed to prepare the report. “Can there be bigger evidence that this EIA has been approached less as a document to ask important questions and more as an exercise in merely facilitating clearances and ensuring that the project goes ahead,” asks a senior tribal researcher who did not wish to be named. Environmental lawyer Sreeja Chakraborty says, “It is evident that there are serious procedural lapses, lack of transparency and a lack of any seriousness in this EIA process. The EIA has been reduced to a mere ‘tick box’ exercise and inspires no confidence at all.” https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/inaccuracies-procedural-violations-in-great-nicobar-draft-environment-impact-assessment/article38324776.ece  (25 Jan. 2022)

Karnataka Take up plantations more in dry regions: Experts Ecological Experts have pointed out that the Karnataka forest department should concentrate more on plantations in dry regions than in notified forest areas in the Western Ghats. Dry regions like Vijayapura, Raichur, Gadag, and Koppal have less than 5 per cent green cover and plantations there would contribute more to carbon sequestration (the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide to mitigate global warming), said experts.

Former principal chief conservator of forest BK Singh said: “Annually the forest department has been taking up plantations of 50,000 hectares in the state of Karnataka. There is a greater focus on planting in Western Ghats areas than in dry areas. The growth in Western Ghats areas is on average 30 cubic metres per hectare per year, while that in dry areas is three cubic metres per hectare per year. But the problem is that the Western Ghats areas are fully saturated and newly planted trees do not record good growth. I would advise that the focus is shifted to dry areas that will generate more overall biomass in the state, which will have more carbon sequestration potential.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/karnataka-forest-department-plantations-western-ghats-7742416/  (26 Jan. 2022)

Is soil Alive? Informative animation video on soil properties.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIISMpJKEAU 

CLIMATE CHANGE

New Report Climate change and water resources in India.https://moef.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Climate%20Change%20and%20Water%20Resources%20in%20India(1).pdf 

Climate and food price rise: Extreme weather events triggering unprecedented food inflation. https://rainfedindia.org/published-page/news (DTE 280122)

Nepal Rising mercury making glaciers vulnerable Rijan Bhakta Kayastha, a glaciologist at the Himalayan Cryosphere, Climate and Disaster Research Center, Kathmandu University in Nepal, speaks about glaciers in Nepal and the impact of climate change on them:

– UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS OF HIMALAYAN GLACIERS IN NEPAL: Nepal has summer accumulation-type glaciers because the country receives more than 80 per cent of its precipitation during the summer. Another characteristic of the glaciers is that the ice is covered with layers of debris such as soil, sand, rocks, pebbles and even big boulders. If the thickness of the debris is more than 1 metre then the melting rate of the ice is slow. If the debris is thin — 2-3 centimetre — then the rate of melting becomes high. The debris absorb more solar radiation as they are black or brown in colour. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/interviews/climate-change/-rising-mercury-is-making-nepal-glaciers-vulnerable–81204  (25 Jan. 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

Nepal Construction of Rs 357 B, 21.3 MW Thulo Khola hydropower project has begun at Raghunga rural municipality in Myagdi district. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/construction-of-thulokhola-hydel-project-begins/  (29 Jan. 2022)

The Department of Electricity Development (DoED) of Nepal will be carrying out the feasibility studies of four hydroelectricity projects with total capacity of 1,371.85 MW: the Mugu-Karnali HEP (111.5 MW), Lower Badigad Reservoir HEP (350 MW), Kaligandaki-2 Reservoir HEP (503 MW) and Humla-Karnali Cascade HEP (229.77 MW). In this regard, the DoED through a public notice on Jan 23, 2022, called for letters of intent from 22 shortlisted companies. These companies will have to accomplish the environmental impact assessment and feasibility study in the next four years. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/govt-to-build-4-hydel-projects-with-capacity-totaling-1-371-85-mw/  (24 Jan. 2022)

ASIA

MEKONG 224 new species found in Mekong region A monkey with ghostly white circles around its eyes is among 224 new species listed in the World Wildlife Fund’s latest update on the greater Mekong region. The conservation group’s report, released on Wednesday (Jan. 26), highlights the need to protect the rich biodiversity and habitats in the region, which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

A popa langur is among 224 new species listed in the World Wildlife Fund’s report on the Mekong region which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. Photograph: AP

The species listed were found in 2020 but last year’s report was delayed. The monkey, a new species of Popa langur found on the extinct Mt. Popa volcano in Myanmar, was the only new mammal. There are also dozens of newly identified reptiles, frogs and newts, fish and 155 plant species, including the only known succulent bamboo species, found in Laos.

The Mekong region is a biodiversity hotspot and home to tigers, Asian elephants, saola — an extremely rare animal also called the Asian unicorn or spindlehorn — and thousands of other species. Including this latest list, scientists have identified more than 3,000 new species in the region since 1997, the WWF said. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/26/ghostly-monkey-and-slug-snake-among-224-new-species-found-in-mekong-region  (26 Jan. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Study Rivers recover faster than expected after dam removal Abstract: Dam removal is widely used as an approach for river restoration in the United States. The increase in dam removals—particularly large dams—and associated dam-removal studies over the last few decades motivated a working group at the USGS John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis to review and synthesize available studies of dam removals and their findings. Based on dam removals thus far, some general conclusions have emerged: (1) physical responses are typically fast, with the rate of sediment erosion largely dependent on sediment characteristics and dam-removal strategy; (2) ecological responses to dam removal differ among the affected upstream, downstream, and reservoir reaches;

Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River in Washington State, during demolition activities in October 2011. Photo courtesy National Park Service

(3) dam removal tends to quickly reestablish connectivity, restoring the movement of material and organisms between upstream and downstream river reaches; (4) geographic context, river history, and land use significantly influence river restoration trajectories and recovery potential because they control broader physical and ecological processes and conditions; and (5) quantitative modeling capability is improving, particularly for physical and broad-scale ecological effects, and gives managers information needed to understand and predict long-term effects of dam removal on riverine ecosystems. Although these studies collectively enhance our understanding of how riverine ecosystems respond to dam removal, knowledge gaps remain because most studies have been short (< 5 years) and do not adequately represent the diversity of dam types, watershed conditions, and dam-removal methods in the U.S. https://deeply.thenewhumanitarian.org/water/community/2017/09/11/study-rivers-recover-faster-than-expected-after-dam-removal  (2017)

Dam removal: Listening in https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2017WR020457 

USA Lawyers challenge water firm’s immunity over sewage discharge The Good Law Project (GLP) and the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) are challenging a decision by the high court that the water company United Utilities cannot be subject to any private legal action for its discharges of raw sewage from storm outfalls into the Manchester ship canal. The decision made last April is being reviewed by the court of appeal, which this week granted permission for the legal groups to submit evidence as part of the case.

Jo Maugham, the director of the GLP, said if United Utilities was to win the case it could end a vital legal option to hold water companies to account for sewage dumping. Lawyers for the GLP say the decision would effectively act as a precedent which all water companies would seek to rely on. The environmental groups will tell the court of appeal it has now become clear that sewage dumping from storm overflows has been occurring with alarming regularity and does not just take place in exceptional circumstances, for instance after very heavy rainfall. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/26/lawyers-challenge-water-firms-immunity-over-sewage-discharge  (26 Jan. 2022)

Chicago tried to dig its way out of urban flooding Hobbs adds. “But we have this tendency in this country to think we can build our way out of stuff. And we can’t always build our way out.”

– Philadelphia is trying to transform itself into a sponge with park space, street trees, and permeable pavement. The city is spending $2.4 billion to implement the nation’s largest green infrastructure plan, an experiment that positions it as the anti-Chicago. The city thinks keeping water out of the system will save billions of dollars compared to a rejected tunnel proposal—and that green initiatives will produce positive externalities, like improving air quality and creating verdant streets.

– Milwaukee, a deep-tunnel city that now believes its green infrastructure will, by 2035, surpass the capacity of the tunnels and hold up to 740 million gallons of rain where it falls. https://slate.com/business/2019/01/chicagos-deep-tunnel-is-it-the-solution-to-urban-flooding-or-a-cautionary-tale.html  (02 Jan. 2019)

Report CoE to vote against mining company chairs over dam safety The Church of England Pensions Board said on Jan. 25, 2022 it planned to vote against the re-election of company chairs of 183 mining companies unless they sign up to a new global standard on managing mine waste. Created by a 100-strong group of investors representing $20 trillion in assets in partnership with industry, the standard was initiated after 270 people were killed in the Brumadinho mining disaster in 2019, when a dam holding back waste known as tailings collapsed. Since then, a further 12 accidents have occurred in countries from Angloa to India and Turkey, three of which involved fatalities and all damaged the environment, the group said.  https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/coe-vote-against-mining-company-chairs-over-dam-safety-2022-01-25/  (25 Jan. 2022)

Brazil Unfolding Disaster: Warning of What’s to Come Close to four hundred municipalities in the central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais declared a state of emergency after unusually heavy rains hit the region in early January.  Widespread flooding submerged houses, blocked roads, and led to dozens of deaths and hundreds of thousands of evacuations. While extreme flooding is devastating under any circumstances, many communities in the region face another even more threatening situation: potentially unstable mine waste storage facilities that could collapse at any moment.

While mining companies are quick to blame heavy rainfall for the problems with their tailings dams, dam instability is the result of years of decisions that prioritize profits over safety.  Safer, more resilient tailings dams are more expensive to build and maintain. Mining companies have chosen cheaper options, like upstream dams, for tailings disposal. As climate change brings increasingly severe and extreme weather conditions, tailings dams designed and constructed to maximize profits will put more and more downstream communities at risk.  https://earthworks.org/blog/the-unfolding-disaster-in-brazil-a-warning-of-whats-to-come/  (25 Jan. 2022)

Brazil’s installed power generation capacity is expected to rise by 37% to 275 GW over the next 10 years, from current capacity of 200 GW, the government said, as both wind and solar (including roof top solar contributing hugely) increase at the expense of Hydro. Hydroelectric power’s stake will drop to 45% of the total capacity, from 58% in 2021 and 83% in early 2000s. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/brazil-power-generation-capacity-to-grow-37-in-10-years-hydro-loses-ground/89110179  (25 Jan. 2022)

UK King crabs threatening native species Invasive king crabs have made their way to British shores, sparking fears that local brown crab and scallop populations could be decimated. This week, fishers in North Yorkshire found their pots heavy not with brown crab, but with the bright-red invader with long, spindly legs prized for their sweet flesh. London restaurants have already snapped up the haul, ready for weekend menus. The fishers were shocked – bar rumours of one or two pulled up over the last couple of years, these crabs had never been seen off British shores.

The species, native to North America, was introduced to Russia in the 1960s by scientists who wanted to establish a new, lucrative fishery. Thriving in cold seas, the crab population exploded, and they travelled to Norway, where they caused a fishing industry boom. And now they seem to have travelled all the way to Britain. Fishers in the UK are tentatively excited, as many fisheries in Norway became rich off the invasive species, though environmentalists are alarmed about the potential impact on native species. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/28/king-crabs-invade-uk-waters-threatening-native-species  (28 Jan. 2022)

Study New economic model finds wetlands provide billions in filtration value Southern Ontario wetlands provide $4.2 billion worth of sediment filtration and phosphorus removal services each year, keeping our drinking water sources clean and helping to mitigate harmful and nuisance algal blooms in our lakes and rivers. The total value of $4.2 billion in sediment and phosphorus filtration services was found based on the average rate of sediment accretion in each type of wetland in Southern Ontario and estimating how much the removal and disposal of the same amounts of sediment and phosphorus in stormwater management facilities in Ontario would cost.

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

This is the first economic valuation study to separate the values of the major types of wetlands in Southern Ontario: marshes, bogs, swamps, and fens. “We found that marshes were the most valuable wetland type for sediment and phosphorus filtration, based on the removal rates per hectare,” said Aziz. “However, because swamps make up 87 percent of Southern Ontario’s wetlands, they contribute about 80 percent of the overall filtration services we benefit from, at a value of about $3.4 billion per year.”

This study also calculated how much it would cost to replace wetlands’ existing phosphorus filtration function with three different human-engineered solutions. Building artificially constructed wetlands would cost an average of $2.9 billion per year to replace the free phosphorus filtration service our natural wetlands currently provide. Implementing agricultural Best Management Practices to remove an equivalent phosphorus load would cost society $13 billion annually, while expanding current wastewater treatment capacity to replace wetlands’ filtration service would cost $164 billion per year.  https://phys.org/news/2022-01-economic-wetlands-billions-filtration.html   (25 Jan. 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 24 Jan. 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 17 Jan. 2022  

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

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