DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 14 Feb 2022: Wake up call: Chairman of Supreme Court HPC Chopra Resigns

(Feature Image: Pillars of elevated road eating into Ganga’s actual riverbed at Rishikesh. Bhim Singh Rawat/SANDRP, 08 Oct. 2021)

The resignation of Shri Ravi Chopra, chairman of the Supreme Court appointed High Powered Committed to report about the implications and dimensions of the Char Dham Highway in fragile Himalayan region is yet another wake up call for all concerned, including the Supreme Court. Chopra has said that following the Dec 14, 2021 order of the Supreme Court in the Char Dham case, the panel “has been shattered”. Chopra’s resignation letter dated Jan 27, 2022 has only now being made public. The order of Dec 14, 2021 was not only contrary to the order of Sept 8, 2020, but also limited the HPC’s role even in monitoring to less than 30% of the road, that too when the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways have consistently ignored the recommendations of the HPC. Will the resignation have any impact on the apex court of the project or the MoRTH?

GANGA Uttarakhand Chairman of SC appointed HPC Ravi Chopra resigns  Environmentalist and Chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed High Powered Committee (HPC) to oversee the execution of the marquee Char Dham road-widening project Ravi Chopra has resigned from his post, stating the panel to protect the Himalayas “has been shattered.”

The Supreme Court on December 14 allowed double-lane widening of roads for the project in view of “security concerns.”

– Mr. Chopra’s letter dated January 27, only just made public and viewed by The Hindu, says that as a member of the HPC, he saw “the desecration” of the Himalayas.

“I have seen engineers armed with modern technological weapons assaulting the Himalayas. They have slashed through pristine forests, wounding vulnerable Himalayan slopes to widen highways. Ever-increasing numbers of tourists speed along them, their vehicles spewing noxious gases that cover the towering peaks ahead in an unsightly haze. The engineers exult and circulate photographs proving their conquest of Nature, little realising that they too are a part of Nature and cannot survive if their own natural environment is destroyed,” he wrote. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/chairman-of-supreme-court-panel-on-char-dham-project-ravi-chopra-resigns/article38412187.ece  (11 Feb. 2022)

Navin Juyal, a member of the HPC and retired geologist from the physical research laboratory in Ahmedabad, had said in February, 2021: “For Himalayan roads, three things are very important to consider; One is the slope. In Rishikesh for example, there are lower slopes and as you go higher up, the slopes are steep, which can be prone to erosion. The other important aspect is the nature of rocks. Are they inclined towards the road or the other side? The third is extent of vegetation and loose material on the hill being cut. One should never do a vertical scarp against the road. The government is saying it wants a 12-metre-wide two-lane road with paved shoulder. If you consider the right of way needed, this means 24 metres. How will you get that much area in the high Himalayas? Then you have to cut the hills. No wonder over 50,000 trees had to be cut to make way for some of these stretches. But have we assessed what’s the collateral damage?”

“I have long been aware that development in the Himalayas must be respectful of the sacred status that these mountains have in our country. Sustainable development demands approaches that are both geologically and ecologically sound. Such development also enhances disaster-resilience and 2 hence national security, especially when climate challenges to slope stability are becoming far more unpredictable. As a member of the HPC, however, I saw at close quarters the desecration of the once impregnable Himalayas,” Chopra added in the letter. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/chairman-of-sc-formed-char-dham-panel-resigns-101644516458571.html  (11 Feb. 2022) 

He wrote that sustainable development demanded approaches that were both geologically and ecologically sound. Such development also enhances disaster-resilience and hence national security, especially when climate challenges to slope stability are becoming far more unpredictable, Chopra added. Chopra continued that “nature, however, neither forgets nor forgives such willful wrongs inflicted on her treasures. Already we have witnessed stretches of roads disappear that have later taken months to repair. Nature sounded warning bells in June 2013 and February 2021 with disastrous consequences.” He called the Himalayas the ‘marvel of Nature’. https://thedialogue.co.in/article/o8p52sV3qc68blvr4Rcx/chairman-of-char-dham-committee-resigns-says-his-belief-shattered  (14 Feb. 2022)

The main reason behind the decision was cited as the apex court’s judgment of December 14, 2021, in which the SC gave away the work to oversee almost 70% of the 900-km all-weather road project to an ‘oversight committee’ headed by retired judge, Justice AK Sikri. The three stretches which the Justice Sikri committee will oversee are Rishikesh to Mana, Rishikesh to Gangotri and Tanakpur to Pithoragarh, which are categorised as ‘defence roads’ in accordance with the security needs highlighted by the ministry of defence to the apex court. The jurisdiction of the HPC headed by Chopra was limited to two ‘non-defence’ stretches – Rudraprayag-Kedarnath (70km) and Dharasu to Janki Chati (70km).

Alleging that the experience of the HPC has been “very disappointing,” Chopra wrote in his resignation letter, “By the judgment dated 14.12.2021, while recognising the hard work by the HPC, the Hon’ble Court has accepted the wider DL-PS (Double Lane-Paved Shoulder) configuration, instead of what the order dated 08.09.2020 envisaged. The judgment has confined the HPC’s role to overseeing the implementation of its recommendations for the project on two non-defence roads only.”

It further reads, “As elaborated in the HPC final report of 13.07.2020, the directions and recommendations made by the HPC in the past have either been ignored or tardily responded to by MoRTH. This experience does not inspire confidence that the response of MoRTH will be much different even in relation to the two non-defence roads.” He went on to add, “The Hon’ble Court has also permitted the respondents to seek legal relief for widening of the non-defence highways. In the circumstances, I do not see any purpose in continuing to head the HPC or indeed, even to be a part of it.” Chopra ended the resignation with English poet, John Donne’s words, “Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know. For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/environmentalist-ravi-chopra-resigns-as-chairman-of-sc-appointed-committee-on-char-dham-road/articleshow/89487286.cms  (11 Feb. 2022)

He noted: As a member of the HPC, however, I saw at close quarters the desecration of the once impregnable Himalayas … I have seen engineers armed with modern technological weapons assaulting the Himalayas. They have slashed through pristine forests, wounding vulnerable Himalayan slopes to widen highways. Ever-increasing numbers of tourists speed along them, their vehicles spewing noxious gases that cover the towering peaks ahead in an unsightly haze. The engineers exult and circulate photographs proving their conquest of Nature, little realising that they too are a part of Nature and cannot survive if their own natural environment is destroyed. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/-assault-on-the-himalayas-chairman-of-char-dham-committee-resigns-81533  (12 Feb. 2022)

The waste dumped into the Saryu river. (Image Courtesy: HPC report) https://indianexpress.com/article/india/as-if-no-rule-of-law-sc-panel-chief-to-govt-on-char-dham-violations-6569980/

Ravi Chopra said: “I feel I’ll be able to do more without the constraints of being part of an official committee — perhaps engage more meaningfully in public education, and also monitor closely and write about how the (Char Dham) project carries on — particularly in the Bhagirathi Eco Sensitive zone where the HPC put precise conditions for roads and the SC asked the MoRTH to follow those unanimous recommendations.” https://indianexpress.com/article/india/char-dham-panel-chief-quits-says-his-belief-is-shattered-7768581/   (12 Feb. 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Arunachal Pradesh Decision-makers in need to take EIAs seriously The recent passage of the Dam Safety Bill by the Indian parliament will only address part of the problem if environmental impact assessments are faulty. Dam Safety Bill regulates dams that have already been constructed, not whether upcoming projects are safe. A useful addition would be for an appropriate authority to undertake a rigorous environmental impact assessment (EIA) during the early stages of decision-making on hydropower projects to ensure the protection of ecosystems and sustainable development. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/energy/hydropower-arunachal-pradesh-decisionmakers-need-to-take-eias-seriously/  (04 Feb. 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Kullu land to be acquired for dam project in Luhri Govt will acquire 343 bighas in Kullu’s Nither sub-tehsil for the 210-Mw stage-I of the Luhri hydroelectric project. The land has 4,632 trees, of which 3,585 are forest trees and 1,047 bear fruit. Some families will be resettled at Koyal village of Nither sub-tehsil. During his visit to Mandi on December 27 last year, PM Modi had laid the foundation stone of Uhri’s hydroelectric project stage-I. In Nov 2020, CCEA had approved an investment of Rs 1,810.56 crore in the state and this includes the budgetary support of Rs 66.19 crore for building infrastructure. Luhri’s hydroelectric project is coming up on the Satluj river near Nirath village along the Shimla-Kullu National Highway-5. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/kullu-land-to-be-acquired-for-dam-project-in-luhri/articleshow/89535438.cms  (13 Feb. 2022)

IEO 2021 Hydro power generation likely to go down According to International Energy Outlook by US Energy Information Administration, Share of hydropower in total generation India is likely to go down from 10% in 2020 to 5% in 2050. In reality, share was already below 10% in 2020. To achieve even 5% share in 2050, the hydro generation would have to more than double from 2020 generation, which is clearly unlikely. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/ieo/IIF_coal/  (07 Feb. 2022)

MoEF Minutes of the FAC meeting held on Jan 27, 2022, Relevant decision: Diversion of 160.4 ha. of forest land in Karlakatti-Chakrageri-Kagihal Villages, Savadatti Taluk, Belagavi Dist (Ghataprabha Division Gokak) for Standalone Pumped Storage Component of Saundatti Integrated Renewable Energy Project for Greenko Solar Energy Private Limited, Bengaluru, Karnataka: Info Sought. http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/21114121312141MoMofFACheldon27-01-2022.pdf 

DAMS

Collections Shekhar Singh has recently put all material / papers etc that are with him, or authored by him, on a website. There is lot of imp Narmada, Tehri and other dams material there.https://shekharsinghcollections.in/

Haryana Dam to “Revive” Saraswati River? Himanshu Thakkar, a coordinator of SANDRP, told NewsClick, “The diversion of water from the Yamuna will spell doom for its ecological flow and aquatic species surviving under it. An environment impact assessment involving both the rivers (Somb and Saraswati) should be conducted by independent agencies, the outcome of which should be put in the public domain. The government agencies like Central Ground Water Board which have been engaged in the project will say what the Central/state governments want them to.” He wondered how many states the Centre was planning to include in the Saraswati rejuvenation project where the river would flow in ancient times; the project comes at the cost of regional tributaries fighting for survival.

Bhim Singh Rawat, an associate coordinator with SANDRP, believes that the Haryana government is availing the maximum benefit of the Yamuna through Hathini Kund Barrage (built on Yamuna river in Yamuna Nagar district ) but in return, it is only exploiting it through widespread sand mining and diverting its water. https://www.newsclick.in/Haryana-Himachal-Pradesh-Planning-Construct-Dam-Revive-Saraswati-River  (05 Feb. 2022)

Since there is no water to flow in the Saraswati river, the Haryana government will spend ₹216 crore on construction of a dam and a reservoir on around 80 acre on the Haryana-Himachal border near Adi-Badri which is considered the origin of the Saraswati river. Water from Somb river, a tributary of the Yamuna that originates in the Shivalik hills, will be stored to flow into Saraswati.

Arvind Kaushik, superintending engineer of Saraswati Heritage Circle Kurukshetra of the irrigation department, said, “A dam and a reservoir will be constructed to store water of Somb river. Later, it will be used to ensure round-the-clock flow of 20 cusecs water into Saraswati river.” He said the land for this project will be provided by the Himachal Pradesh government and construction work will be carried out by the Haryana government. On when the project will be completed because the government is facing problems to acquire land for the river as a 7-km stretch of Saraswati river is missing from the revenue records in villages of Yamunanagar district, he said, “The issues have already been sorted out and work on the project will be completed by 2024.”. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/haryana-to-rejuvenate-saraswati-river-with-water-of-somb-river-101642707694785.html  (21 Jan. 2022)

Pancheshwar Dam The proposed Pancheshwar Dam, which was a burning issue in Pithoragarh in the 2017 state elections, hasn’t even been mentioned by any political party in the fray this time, even in Jhulaghat town, as there is no movement on the dam issue due to Indo Nepal border dispute. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/in-jhulaghat-which-faces-the-threat-of-submergence-due-to-pancheshwar-dam-no-political-party-talking-about-the-joint-indo-nepal-project/articleshow/89487211.cms  (11 Feb. 2022)  

Madhya Pradesh Underground Tunnel of Narmada Valley Project Collapses, 9 Workers trapped A major accident took place in the Katni district  late Saturday (Feb. 12) evening when the underground tunnel of Bargi Underground Canal being built under the Narmada Valley project has collapsed, due to which 9 workers were trapped inside. This accident happened in the tunnel coming out from under NH-30 of the Sleemanabad area. As per administration 5 out of 9 labourers trapped in the debris have been rescued.  https://www.sinceindependence.com/accident/madhya-pradesh-underground-tunnel-of-narmada-valley-project-collapses-in-katni-9-workers-stranded  (13 Feb. 2022)

NVDA के चीफ इंजीनियर राममणि शर्मा ने क्विंट को बताया कि नहर नहीं धंसी है. शर्मा ने बताया, “नहर बनाने वाली मशीन की रिपेयरिंग की जानी थी. उसे रिपेयर करने के लिए तकनीकी स्टाफ को मशीन तक पहुंचाने एक बड़ा होल बनाया जा रहा था. यही होल धसक गया है.”

बरगी से रीवा के लिए बनाई जा रही बरगी नहर का निर्माण कार्य लंबे समय से जारी है. नहर निर्माण का वर्तमान कार्य राष्ट्रीय राजमार्ग 30 पर स्तिथ कटनी जिले के स्लीमनाबाद में चल रहा है. नहर निर्माण के लिए कटनी जिले के स्लीमनाबाद के पास सलैया फाटक से खिरहनी गांव तक 11 किलोमीटर का अंडर ग्राउंड टनल का निर्माण किया जा रहा है. ये निर्माण वैसे तो साढ़े तीन साल में पूरा हो जाना था, लेकिन कई साल बीत जाने के बाद भी अभी तक काम पूरा नहीं हो सका है.  https://hindi.thequint.com/news/states/madhya-pradesh-tunnel-caved-in-katni-many-labourers-trapped-rescue-operation-on#read-more  (13 Feb. 2022)

रात करीब साढ़े सात से आठ के बीच जब मजदूर काम कर रहे थे, तभी मिट्टी बगल से धंसने लगी और मजदूर उसके नीचे दब गए। हादसे के बाद 30 फीट गहराई में मिट्टी भर गई, जिसके कारण रेस्क्यू में समस्या आ रही थी। रेस्क्यू टीम ने मिट्टी हटाने के लिए गड्ढा किया जिससे मजदूरों को सुरक्षित निकाला जा सके।

जानकारी के अनुसार भूमिगत नहर में टीवीएम मशीन सतह से करीब 80 फीट गहराई में थी। मशीन के कुछ हिस्से में सुधार कार्य करने के लिए मशीन तक पहुंचने के लिए खेरमाई के पास कुआंनुमा गड्ढा खोदाई का काम चल रहा था। करीब 25 फीट गहराई में खोदाई हो जाने के साथ उसे ईंट और सीमेंट से मजबूत किया जा रहा था। तभी देर शाम दो हिस्से धंस गए। नर्मदा घाटी विकास प्राधिकरण के कार्यपालन ने बताया कि गड्ढे के नीचे फंसे श्रमिक सुरक्षित हैं। उन्हें मामूली चोटें आई हैं। https://www.jagran.com/madhya-pradesh/bhopal-katni-tunnel-collapse-9-buried-7-laborers-were-rescued-due-to-submergence-of-tunnel-under-underground-canal-in-katni-madhya-pradesh-22463044.html  (13 Feb. 2022)

बरगी व्यपवर्तन परियोजना की स्लीमनाबाद भूमिगत नहर की लागत 799 करोड़ रुपये व लंबाई 11.95 किमी है। इसका अनुबंध मार्च 2008 में हुआ और इसे 40 माह की अवधि में जुलाई 2011 तक पूर्ण किया जाना था। मुख्यमंत्री ने संबंधितों से जून 2023 तक टनल का कार्य पूरा करने के लिए कहा है। https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/katni-underground-canal-collapsed-in-katni-slimnabad-six-laborers-buried-rescue-underway-7295009  (13 Feb. 2022)

Mekedatu dam Centre to seek TN, Karnataka’s consensus The Centre will form a consensus between TN and Karnataka before approving the Mekedatu Project, said Union Minister of State for Ministry of Food Processing Industries and Ministry of Jal Shakti Prahlad Singh Patel. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/feb/10/centre-to-seek-tn-karnatakas-consensus-on-mekedatu-dam-2417583.html  (10 Feb. 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Riverlinking: A whirlpool in making The project, overall, needs to address the fundamental question of quantifying excess water in a river basin. For this, an assessment has to be done on all options of water management such as rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge, watershed development, recycling of treated water, among others, be carefully studying the river’s origin and tributaries. Unfortunately there is no such assessment for any river basin in the country at present, Himanshu Thakkar, co-ordinator of SANDRP says. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/grand-river-linking-plan-whiff-of-fresh-air-or-whirlpool-in-the-making-for-state-1080879.html  (12 Feb. 2022)

Gujarat Tribal leaders demand discussion in Assembly Tribal leaders from south Gujarat including Dang, Valsad, Surat, and Navsari are camping in Gandhinagar to garner support from the elected representatives from the BJP and the Congress for their agitation against the Par-Tapi-Narmada river linking project announced in the Union Budget 2022-23.

A delegation comprising of senior tribal leaders from south Gujarat including Mukesh Patel, Sunil Gamit, Vishram Patel, Mahesh Bagul, Motilal Chaudhary, Mohan Bhoye, Khalpa Chaudhary, Avinash, etc. called on the Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, Sukhram Rathva.

Tribal leaders said they want to bring the issue of the Par-Tapi-Narmada river link project on the floor of the Gujarat Assembly. For this, they are meeting the elected representatives in Gandhinagar.

Talking with TBT, Mukesh Patel alias Mukesh Mama said, “Tribals in Dangs and other districts in south Gujarat are highly agitated following the government’s announcement of the Par-Tapi-Narmada river linking project in the Union Budget 2022-23. We won’t let our tribals get displaced from their forest land in the name of the river link project. Our slogan is ‘dam hatao, Dang bachao’” https://theblunttimes.in/index.php/2022/02/09/par-tapi-narmada-link-project-tribal-leaders-demand-discussion-over-the-issue-in-gujarat-assembly/  (09 Feb. 2022)

Tribals oppose river linking project. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/feb/10/gujarat-tribals-oppose-river-linking-project-2417615.html  (10 Feb. 2022)

Karnataka State will suffer from river projects named in Budget: Devegowda Former PM HD Devegowda on Tuesday (Feb. 08) expressed concern over the planned river linking projects announced in the Union Budget, saying they will cause shortage of drinking water in Karnataka. He sought clarity and details from the Centre on the Krishna-Pennar and Pennar-Cauvery link projects, which have been proposed. Citing the Krishna-Pennar project, he said “nothing has been said about the share of Karnataka” but Tamil Nadu will get nearly 130 TMC. He asked the Centre to intervene in the matter to enhance Karnataka’s share. Devegowda said the Supreme Court had allocated 284 TMC for Karnataka and 400 TMC to Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery water dispute. He alleged that “consideration to allocate drinking water to one-third of Bangalore city” has not been taken as “it does not come under the purview of catchment area”.

Asserting that the issue is about drinking water, the former prime minister said the Supreme Court has given 4.7 TMC for consumptive usage of drinking water for Bengaluru city. However, he said when Bengaluru city population was calculated in 2011 it was 85 lakh but “today the population in Bengaluru is 130 lakh”. “We are using 50 TMC today out of the allocation for irrigation. You can’t have anything in 4.75 TMC for 130 lakh people,” he asserted. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/karnataka-will-suffer-from-river-projects-named-in-budgetdevegowda-101644345794582.html  (09 Feb. 2022)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Excellent article on impacts of dredging for waterways on rivers and why a comprehensive impact assessment is required. https://avliverma.wordpress.com/2022/02/09/on-disposal-of-dredged-material/  (09 Feb. 2022)

Bihar Govt raises river silting with Centre again Water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha on Tuesday (Feb. 08) wrote to union minister for ports, shipping and waterways Sarbananda Sonowal, requesting him for appropriate action to prevent silting in downstream Ganga in the state and the damage caused by the operation of cargo ships in the river near Ismailpur Bindtoli embankment in Bhagalpur district. Days earlier, CM Nitish Kumar had raised the issue during a review meeting with of water resources department.

“Since 2019, Bihar’s water resources department has been requesting Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to look into floods and erosion around Ismailpur Bindtoli embankment,” Jha wrote, adding he has urged the Centre to fix the route and impose speed limits for operation of ships in the area, as heavy cargo ships could pose a threat to embankments. “The CM has always spoken for the need to ensure seamless flow of Ganga. However, no concrete steps have been taken by the Central government for effective silt management even after five years of the comprehensive silt management policy envisaged by the CM,” Jha has written. He has also reiterated the problems caused by Farakka barrage due to excessive silt deposits along the 445-km stretch of the Ganga in Bihar.

The minister said the district administration of Bhagalpur had to stop the operation of a ship in the Ganga last year due to severe erosion in the riverbank areas. “Movement of cargo ships causes waves, ranging from one metre to 1.5 metres in height, in the river, posing serious threat to erosion prevention work, flood protection mechanism, embankments and spurs. For their safety, there is a need to ensure that the ships in the river be operated from the old edge and with the prescribed speed limit,” he wrote. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/bihar-raises-river-silting-with-centre-again-says-cargo-ships-could-add-to-problems-101644337592105.html  (08 Feb. 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

Jhelum, Srinagar LG launches ambitious Riverfront Project LG Manoj Sinha on Monday (Feb. 07) laid the foundation stone for Jhelum Riverfront development to be developed on the lines of Sabarmati riverfront. Costing Rs 75 crore, the riverfront project is being implemented by Jal Shakti Department under the Srinagar Smart City project. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/lg-sinha-launches-ambitious-jhelum-riverfront-project  (08 Feb. 2022)

RIVERS

Madhya Pradesh Narmada Jayanti the birth anniversary of the river Narmada is celebrated today Feb. 07 in Hoshangabad. It is believed that the river came into being on Saptami Tithi, Magh Shukla Paksha. https://www.indiatoday.in/information/story/narmada-jayanti-2022-date-time-celebration-and-significance-1909772-2022-02-07  (07 Feb. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Sinkhole in Brengi stream in Kokernag disrupts flow of water A sinkhole in the Brengi stream at Wandevalgam village of Kokernag in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district has disrupted the water flow posing threat to flora and fauna downstream. The vertical hole, experts believe is a natural phenomenon developed due to the gradual dissolution of limestone rocks in the river. A whirlpool is formed and the entire water discharges into this hole. This is the second such instance in the recent past in the area. Earlier, in the year 1995, one such sinkhole developed in the stream barely a few meters above which was later filled up with sand, gravel, and boulders.

That sinkhole had an outlet at Achabal. However, as of now a team of flood control, irrigation department, geology, and mining, Public Health Engineering (PHEE) department who are monitoring the situation are yet to find the outlet of this sink-hole. “The discharge at Achabal is presently the same. So, the outlet of the sink isn’t there,” a flood control official said. He said for now they are going to divert the water. “The sink is of sizeable dimension with 50 cusec discharge which is quite high. A team of the Geology and Mining Department is here to carry out the geological study,” DC said.

Dr Hamidulah Wani, Professor Department of Geology at Women’s college Pulwama suggested a geophysical and gravity survey to ascertain the path of the cavity- underground river system. “At times entire area can collapse due to denudations. This has happened in many other parts of the world. So, the gravity survey is a must,” Wani said. He said the sinkhole is formed due to the chemical dissolution of lime-stone rocks in the river and has nothing to do with the movement of plates. “There can be several sinkholes in the area, but only become evident once they collapse fully,” Dr. Wani said.

Assistant Director (AD) Fisheries, Muhamad Sidique said they have directed the fisherman to shift the fish to safer locations. “There has been no such damage to trout fish as such. These fish do somehow manage to find the habitat by escaping to the nearby small pools,” the AD said. However, experts believe if the stream downstream would remain dry for a longer period it would pose threat to flora and fauna. “This can also affect the irrigation system and water supply in the villages which rely on the waters of Brengi Nalla (stream),” they said. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/sinkhole-in-brengi-stream-in-kokernag-disrupts-flow-of-water  (13 Feb. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Water pollution trouble residents of Suriyampalayam Most of the textile processing units and tannery industries of the district are located in the zone. In spite of monitoring by the Pollution Control Board officials, discharge of untreated effluents into open drains during night hours continues unabated. The effluents flow into Sunnambu Odai and Pitchaikaran Odai and finally enter River Cauvery. “The stench from the tannery industries is unbearable,” says M. Saroja, a resident of B.P. Agraharam. She wants all the industries in the city limits to be relocated to an industrial area. Efforts by the State government to establish a textile processing park with common effluent treatment plants have failed, as air and water pollution continue to be a major concern for the residents. Since many of the Wards are located near the river, residents demand a permanent solution for the pollution problem. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/air-water-pollution-trouble-residents-of-suriyampalayam/article38415185.ece  (11 Feb. 2022)

Yamuna Delhi Govt seeks Centre’s help to study sources of pollution The proposal was discussed at a meeting on Wednesday (Feb. 09) with the Central government. It was called by K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Central government, for collaborating on scientific projects with States and Union Territories. Currently, there is no mechanism in the city to know the percentage of pollution in the Yamuna caused by different sources, according to the official. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/government-seeks-centres-help-to-study-sources-of-pollution-in-yamuna/article38415585.ece  (12 Feb. 2022)

Biodiversity parks along Yamuna In a 10-part project, the 22-km stretch along the banks of the river from Wazirabad to Okhla will be worked on by the DDA in three phases — the first is the removal of encroachments and the creation of wetlands, planting of trees and laying of walkways; the second phase involves developing the entrance area to these stretches, setting up seating spaces, and providing amenities like toilet blocks; the third phase is to develop a revenue model for the spaces including “outsourcing for adventure play” and cultural events in open air spaces. The sanctioned cost of the project is around Rs 961.93 crore.

The total area under Zone O of the DDA, or the Yamuna floodplain, is 9,700 hectares, of which 1,146 hectares is the river channel itself, as per documents submitted by the DDA to the NGT. At the Kalindi Biodiversity Park, where around 115 hectares of the floodplain ecosystem is being restored, there are wetlands, he said. The Kalindi Biodiversity Park is also part of the DDA’s floodplain restoration project and has been handed over to the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems for work.

On the possible revenue model, Rajeev Kumar Tiwari, Principal Commissioner, Personnel, Horticulture, and Landscape, DDA, told The Indian Express: “If we are maintaining the area, it will require expenditure and it should be self-sustaining. We are looking for avenues, and we are only in the initial phase.” At two out of 10 parts, phase 1 is complete, while the third is partially complete. The section that is complete is one between the Old Railway Bridge and the ITO barrage, called ‘Asita’, which includes the Golden Jubilee Park, and another 100-hectare section between NH-24 and the DND flyway, called ‘Kalindi Aviral’.

Sections of the DDA’s plans have not moved forward in places where they were met with stiff opposition. At Bela Estate close to Shantivan and the Geeta Colony flyover, Hira Lal (40) points to two water bodies that he said the DDA dug up in the area in 2020. Repeated attempts have been made to clear the farmlands in the area after that, he said. “We have been farming here for decades. They tell us that farming can’t be done on the floodplains, because we use contaminated water from the Yamuna, but most farmers draw ground water for farming. If we are to move, some sort of rehabilitation will have to be provided,” he said. Cases are pending in the High Court with regard to clearing jhuggis on the floodplains.

A K Gosain, Professor Emeritus, IIT-Delhi, who is part of the committee that is also monitoring the DDA project, said, “The NGT order says that no permanent structures are allowed. People should be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the river, but without permanent fixtures. The river needs a huge area in case there is a big flood.” “If something is created in the floodplains that is to be maintained every year, public money shouldn’t be spent on that. There shouldn’t be any concretisation… We have told the DDA to go ahead, but it should be in such a way that if a flood comes, there shouldn’t be any issue. Parts of the project that the committee was opposed to have been removed from the project,” Gosain said.

Shashank Shekhar, professor at the Department of Geology, Delhi University, said, “The floodplain has its own distinct ecosystem services in terms of providing drinking water. It sustains its own biodiversity, it’s open fallow land and the lifeline of Delhi. Attempts should be made to conserve the floodplains. If you leave it like that, planners are going to eye it since it is empty land. If it is turned into a recreation spot, there is an identified land use. Any redevelopment should be with the perspective of ensuring minimal change.”

Manju Menon, senior fellow at the CPR said, “It’s a very exclusionary vision for creating open recreational spaces for those who can afford it, when there are people right there for whom these spaces matter much more from a survival point of view. Co-existence should be considered and worked out with farmers.” “For a healthy river, a healthy floodplain is necessary. The city has entered into the floodplain — with Akshardham, Metro, CWG Village, power plants. This has reduced the space that the floodplain occupied and its capacity to take away floodwater safely and rejuvenate ground water,” said Manoj Misra, convenor of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, on whose application the NGT issued an order on the restoration of the river and its floodplains in 2015. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-hardlook-along-the-yamuna-7772000/  (14 Feb. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh Ground report on condition of Yamuna in Mathura amid poll. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqMO_kMYpmQ   (11 Feb. 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Report ‘Big golden mahseer to small kudremukh barb, freshwater fish are richly diverse’ Vidyadhar Atkore is a landscape ecologist a landscape ecologist at SACON. He discusses river biodiversity facing human impacts. He also emphasises need to remove obsolete dams. He says less ecological information is available about riverine systems. His master study was about fish community of the Corbett National Park. Doctoral study was about four major river basins: Malprabha, Mhadei, Tunga and Bhadra in Karnataka, covering over 152 riverine stream landscapes. Tunga and Bhadra were less modifies then Mhadei and Malaprabha. He describes the challenges in riverine research. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/big-golden-mahseer-to-small-kudremukh-barb-freshwater-fish-are-richly-diverse/articleshow/89510523.cms  (12 Feb. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh Crocodile threat major poll issue In Aligarh district, the Kaali flows between the towns of Atrauli and Jawan. Residents of a few villages on either side of the Kaali have no option but to cross the river by boat almost every day. There is no bridge yet and the only other road that connects this region with the main thoroughfare is five-times longer. Pressed for time, many villagers do not choose the longer route. Villagers are keen to vote in the upcoming polls and their commute struggles are a major factor. https://thewire.in/rights/in-some-up-villages-crocodile-threat-emerges-a-major-poll-issue  (07 Feb. 2022)

SAND MINING

Uttarakhand Mining Easier In State Ravaged By Landslides, Deforestation  River-bed minerals, sand and boulders are important to riverine ecosystems, said Bhim Singh Rawat, associate coordinator of SANDRP. He blamed unchecked riverbed mining, masquerading as “river training or dredging” for contributing to the rise in collapses of bridges. Sand, boulders and minerals are important to ensure recharge of groundwater, to keep water clean and to keep it flowing. https://www.article-14.com/post/2-months-before-polls-uttarakhand-s-bjp-govt-made-mining-easier-in-state-ravaged-by-landslides-deforestation–6209c57071518  (14 Feb. 2022)

 नदियों का दोहन और बढ़ता अवैध ख़नन, चुनावों में बना बड़ा मुद्दा सॉउथ एशिया नेटवर्क ऑफ डैम, रिवर एंड पीपल के एसोसिएट कोर्डिनेटर भीम सिंह कहते हैं कि राज्य सरकार खनन को एक राजस्व आय के स्रोत के रूप में देख रही है, इसी कारण प्रत्येक साल खनन और इससे आने वाली आय के लक्ष्य को लगातार बढ़ाया गया है। लगातार बढ़ने वाले इस खनन से राज्य की नदियों और इन नदियों के पारिस्थितिकी तंत्र पर इसका क्या असर होगा इस ओर सरकार का कोई ध्यान नहीं जाता है, खनन के बाद नदियों पर पड़ने वाले प्रभाव का अध्ययन करने के लिए सम्बंधित विभाग के पास कोई नदी विशेषज्ञ तक नहीं है।

भीम सिंह आगे बताते हैं कि नदियों के अंदर पाये जाने वाले प्रत्येक मिनरल का अपना महत्त्व होता है जैसे- रेत बरसात के समय पानी को सोखता है और ग्राउंड वॉटर को रिचार्ज करने का कार्य करता है, बड़े बोल्डर से नदी का पानी टकराने से पानी के अंदर ऑक्सीजन की मात्रा बढ़ती है जो नदी में रहने वाले जीवों के लिए बहुत महत्वपूर्ण होती है और नदी का बहाव भी नियंत्रित होता है। लेकिन यदि नदियों से अधिक मात्रा में इन मिनरल को निकला जाता है तो इससे नदी तंत्र प्रभावित होता है जो कहीं न कहीं पर्यावरण के लिए हानिकारक है। खनन प्रकृति के अतिरिक्त स्थानीय लोगों के लिए भी खतरा बनता जा रहा है, कई बार तो खनन के लिए किये गए गड्ढो में डूब कर लोगो की जाने भी गयी हैं। भीम सिंह आगे कहते हैं कि हमारी सरकारों को केवल आय के स्रोत के रूप में नदियों को न देखते हुए नदियों के प्राकृतिक महत्त्व की ओर भी ध्यान देना चाहिए। https://hindi.newsclick.in/Illegal-sand-mining-big-issue-in-Uttarakhand-election#all/_blank  (29 Jan. 2022)

Tikait meets Matri Sadan seer on hunger strike Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait reached Haridwar on Thursday (Feb. 10) to lend support to Matri Sadan founder Swami Shivanand, who has been fasting for almost three weeks against illicit mining and for the conservation of Ganga. Tikait tried to persuade Shivanand to end his fast, but the seer declined. He has been surviving on three glasses of water a day.

Speaking to TOI, Tikait said, “This party came to power after seeking votes in the name of gau (cow) and Ganga, but now they have allowed illegal mining. This isn’t just polluting Ganga but also impacting farmlands. If the government doesn’t stop illegal mining soon, another seer may lose his life while fighting for the cause.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/tikait-meets-matri-sadan-seer-on-hunger-strike-lends-support/articleshow/89487390.cms  (11 Feb. 2022)

Danger looms large on Yamuna bridge Yamuna bridge built on Dehradun-Paonta Sahib NH 07 has become threatened. Fearless miners have reached the pillars of Yamuna bridge digging sand and gravel. Three dozen officers of various departments in the state have powers to stop illegal mining, but the mining mafia has become unbridled on the state border. https://www.amarujala.com/himachal-pradesh/sirmour/yamuna-bridge-on-dangers-way-due-to-illegale-minning-in-rivers-nahan-news-sml39343489  (14 Dec. 2021)

Illegal mining: 3 bridges in danger, 4 power poles damaged  Indiscriminate mining in the name of channelization has not only ruined the foundation of the bridges, but the continuous movement of overloaded dumpers is also affecting the capacity of the 3 bridges in Kotdwar. The bridges in the area have a capacity of 20 tons. Whereas the mining vehicles are often loaded with 40 to 50 tonnes materials. Sometimes a row of dumpers pass over the bridges. Thus weakening of the pillars of the bridges.

Thousands of tons of minerals are being taken out of the rivers every day from Malan and Sukhro rivers. Surprisingly, this mining in the name of channelization is happening in the forest area and the forest department is completely turning a blind eye on this. While, it is clearly mentioned in the work order issued by the forest department for the channelization work that the mineral will not be taken out of the river. Thus it becomes clear that the mineral extracted from the river had to be collected on both the banks of the river so that the river flow remained in the middle. But this did not happen. As a result, the three bridges built across the Sukhro and Malan rivers are under threat.

Apart from this, the Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) is also suffering due to illegal mining. 4 electric poles of UPCL collapsed due to alleged illegal mining being done in the name of channelization by the Forest Department in Sukhro river of Kotdwar area. The electrical wiring was also damaged. According to UPCL officials, new electric poles and wire were installed in the affected area costing it more than 3 lakh.   https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/pauri-garhwal-illegal-mining-bridge-in-danger-power-corporation-hit-21977144.html  (31 Aug. 2021)

स्टोन क्रशर का विरोध कर रहे ग्रामीण SDM से नाराज रामनगर के जस्सागांजा गांव के लोग यहां लगने जा रहे स्टोन क्रशर का विरोध कर रहे हैं. स्टोन क्रशर नहीं लगाने की मांग करने ग्राम प्रधान निधि मेहरा के नेतृत्व में लोग एसडीएम से मिलने गए. निधि का आरोप है कि एसडीएम ने उनकी बात ठीक से नहीं सुनी. उनका ये भी आरोप है कि एसडीएम ने कोई जवाब देने से इंकार किया.

ग्राम प्रधान नीधि मेहरा ने कहा कि अन्यथा उप जिलाधिकारी गौरव चटवाल को गांव वालों को बताना चाहिए था कि अगर यह नियमों के विरुद्ध स्टोन क्रशर नहीं लग रहा है तो गांव वाले भी अपने बगीचे काटकर स्टॉक का परमिशन, स्टोन क्रशर की अनुमति देनी चाहिए. शासन को उनकी भी फलपट्टी क्षेत्र में स्टॉक व स्टोन क्रशर की परमिशन भेज दे.

फल पट्टी क्षेत्र में स्टोन क्रशर लगने से उससे निकलने वाली डस्ट से फलों को व फलदार वृक्षों को नुकसान पहुंचता है. साथ ही अगर आबादी क्षेत्र में स्टोन क्रशर खुलता है तो उससे निकलने वाली डस्ट से कैंसर, सिलिकोसिस की बीमारी, दमा, आंखों की खराबी, कृषि की फसल खराब होना जैसी समस्याएं देखने में आती हैं. स्टोन क्रशरों का आबादी में खुलने का मतलब ये है कि ये इंसानों के लिए भी, जानवरों के लिये भी और कृषि के लिए भी खतरनाक साबित होते हैं. https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttarakhand/city/ramnagar/villagers-angry-with-sdm-opposing-stone-crusher-in-ramnagar/uttarakhand20211109132111748  (09 Feb. 2021)

Meghalaya Illegal mining needs to stop for protection of environment: DC The Deputy Commissioner during the District Level Task Force (DLTF) Meeting held to discuss and to check illegal mining and transport of minor minerals in the West Garo Hills district informed that all Government departments engaged in constructions, road development, etc are to utilise minor minerals from legal mining lease holders and transport the minor minerals with valid Government Challan. He added that awareness programs would be extensively carried out across the districts by installing signboards, group discussions, etc under District Mineral Fund (DMF). Ram Singh, who happens to be the Chairman of DLTF, also decided to nominate two independent members who may be a retired Government Official or teachers or ex-serviceman or ex-judiciary to the DLTF.

A recommendation was also made by Marak to revoke the mining lease or environmental clearance in cases of minor minerals where the conditions of mining leases or Environmental Clearance have been violated. He further informed that the DLTF shall be at liberty to constitute an independent committee of experts to assess environmental or ecological damage caused by illegal mining and recommend recovery of environmental compensation from the miners of such minerals and such recommendation may also include action under the provision of E(P) Act, 1986. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/02/09/illegal-mining-needs-to-stop-for-protection-of-environment-dc/  (09 Feb. 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Cabinet okays changes in Minerals Act A Cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of CM Jai Ram Thakur on Feb. 11 approved an amendment to the Himachal Pradesh Minor Minerals (Concession) and Minerals (Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage) Rules, 2015 to ensure an optimum use of minor minerals. The decision was purportedly taken to end the stalemate resulting from the strike of the contractors that had resulted in halting of all development works in the state. The Cabinet also gave nod to inserting a rule providing that if a person, who is not a mining lease holder and has not violated rules, could not provide the transit form, he shall be liable to pay royalty at the applicable rates and a penalty at the rate of 25 per cent of the royalty applicable.

It also decided that in cases relating to construction of roads by different departments/ agencies of the state government, the mining officers would grant permission for the use of minor minerals generated during the progress of such works, exclusively for captive use (in-situ) in the same work, which is the construction of roads, retaining walls, breast walls and soling up to the extent of 10,000 MT per month at a time and not exceeding 20,000 MT per work. The report of the engineer in-charge of the work, not below the rank of Assistant Engineer, would be mandatory for the purpose.

In fact, the Cabinet meeting was held to resolve the grievances of the Himachal Pradesh Contractors Association, which had proceeded on strike from February 7 to 22 in support of its demands. The association rued that the payments of contractors had been pending since Diwali last year and they were facing a lot of problems as a transit pass for minor minerals like stones, gatka, grit, and sand had been made mandatory. The contractors had also lamented that the GST on agreements entered into before July 2017 had not been reimbursed till date. They had refused to provide machinery to the government and also decided to boycott all tenders and development works of government departments. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/to-pacify-contractors-himachal-cabinet-okays-changes-in-minerals-act-368527  (10 Feb. 2022)

The bridge over Sukkad Khad on Dhelu-Dohag road in Jogendranagar sub-division has been threatened by illegal mining. The approach to the bridge has become hollow and there are cracks in the pillars as well. The mining mafia has been extracting sand-gravel and stones around the bridge for a long time. Sand and gravel have also been dug under the pillars of the bridge. About 300 cases of illegal mining have been registered in Jogendranagar in last 2 years. https://www.jagran.com/himachal-pradesh/mandi-illegal-mining-in-sukkad-khadd-22398671.html  (20 Jan. 2022)

Despite a 7-member committee set up by NGT, illegal mining is unabated in Swan river during night hours in Una district. https://www.jagran.com/himachal-pradesh/una-illiagal-mining-in-swan-river-of-una-22394288.html  (18 Jan. 2022)

हरोली विधानसभा क्षेत्र के ईसपुर, पंडोगा, बसाल सहित अन्य गांवों में खनन माफिया सक्रिय हो गया है। खनन माफिया ने कई जगह दस से बीस फुट से अधिक गहरे गड्ढे कर दिए हैं, लेकिन प्रशासन इससे बेखबर है। इन गड्ढों में गिरकर कभी कोई बड़ा हादसा हो सकता है। पूर्व में भी खनन माफिया ने इन गड्ढों से तीन हादसे हो चुके हैं। जिनमें गिरकर लोग मौत के मुंह में भी जा चुके हैं, लेकिन बावजूद इसके इस पर कोई कार्रवाई नहीं हो रही है। गांव ईसपुर की काफी ज्यादा सरकारी भूमि स्वां नदी के साथ है। सैकड़ों कनाल इस सरकारी भूमि पर भी खनन माफिया पिछले काफी समय से अवैध खनन कर चांदी कूट रहा है। सरकारी भूमि में भी खनन माफिया ने 10 से 20 फुट से भी गहरे गड्ढे हो गए हैं। रोजाना सैकड़ों टिपर स्वां नदी से बाहर भेजी जा रही है। https://www.amarujala.com/himachal-pradesh/una/panchyat-member-reach-on-swan-river-against-illigal-mining-una-news-sml359805140  (04 Feb. 2021)

एक याचिका में कहा गया था कि केंद्र सरकार ने स्वां नदी के चैनलाइजेशन के लिए 922 करोड़ रुपये जारी किए हैं। चैनलाइजेशन के बहाने राजनीतिक संरक्षण में खनन लाइसेंस के नाम पर अवैज्ञानिक तरीकों को अपनाकर नदी के तट से बड़े पोकलैंड और जेसीबी मशीनों की मदद से बालू का अवैध खनन किया जा रहा है। https://www.amarujala.com/shimla/shimla-ngt-rapped-cs-and-dgp-of-himachal-for-illegal-mining-in-swan-river  (03 Aug. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Floodplain farmers, river dependent communities in Kairana forced to migrate for livelihoods as excessive, illegal sand mining in Yamuna has been causing riverbank erosion, adversely affecting crops, aquatic life including fish. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1493062570327953410?s=20&t=KhF6uUeB1X5dWTVmjXE37Q

पत्रकारों पर हमले के विरुद्ध समिति (CAAJ) ने विधानसभा चुनाव के लिए पहले मतदान की पूर्व संध्‍या पर ‍बुधवार (Feb. 09) को चौंकाने वाले आंकड़े जारी किये हैं। अपनी रिपोर्ट ”मीडिया की घेराबंदी” में समिति ने उद्घाटन किया है कि प्रदेश में पिछले पांच साल में पत्रकारों पर हमले के कुल 138 मामले दर्ज किये गये जिनमें पचहत्‍तर फीसद से ज्‍यादा मामले 2020 और 2021 के दौरान कोरोनाकाल में हुए। समिति के मुताबिक 2017 से लेकर जनवरी 2022 के बीच उत्‍तर प्रदेश में कुल 12 पत्रकारों की हत्‍या हुई है। ये मामले वास्‍तविक संख्‍या से काफी कम हो सकते हैं। इनमें भी जो मामले ज़मीनी स्‍तर पर जांच जा सके हैं उन्‍हीं का विवरण रिपोर्ट में दर्ज है। जिनके विवरण दर्ज नहीं हैं उनको रिपोर्ट में जोड़े जाने का आधार मीडिया और सोशल मीडिया में आयी सूचनाएं हैं। https://www.gaonsavera.com/attacks-on-journalists-in-uttar-pradesh/  (11 Feb. 2022)

नदी की धारा मोड़ हो रहा खनन चायल तहसील क्षेत्र के यमुना बालू घाटों पर अवैध खनन का सिलसिला नहीं थम रहा है। घाटों पर सक्रिय बालू माफिया धड़ल्ले से बालू का अवैध तरीके से खनन कर रहें है। उमरवल घाट पर सक्रिय कारोबारी एनजीटी के नियमों की अनदेखी कर नदी की बीच धारा से बालू निकाल रहें है। स्थानीय लोगों की माने तो खनन करने वालों ने नदी की धारा भी मोड़ दी शिकायत के बाद भी इस कारोबार पर विराम नहीं लग पा रहा है। नदी की बीच धारा में मशीन लगाकर व नाव से भी निकासी की जा रही है। बालू घाटों से अवैध निकासी की शिकायत पुलिस व प्रशासनिक अधिकारियों से की थी, लेकिन कार्रवाई नहीं की गई है। अधिकारियों की खामोशी से राजस्व को नुकसान पहुंचा रहे हैं। साथ ही जलीय जीवों को भी खतरा है। https://m.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/kaushambi-ngt-rules-in-umarwal-mining-is-happening-in-the-rivers-stream-mode-22348258.html  (02 Jan. 2022)

बेतवा पुल के नजदीक फिर शुरू हुआ खनन, पुल को हो सकती है गहरी क्षति  माफियाओं के हौंसले इतने बुलन्द है कि वह बेतवा नदी के सेतु के करीब ही खनन करने में लग गए और पूरा प्रशासन दूर खड़ा तमाशा देख रहा है। आज तक माफियाओं पर कोई भी कार्रवाई नहीं की गई, जिससे उनके द्वारा लगातार खनन किया जाता रहा है और वर्तमान समय में भी किया जा रहा है।

स्थानीय लोगों की माने तो लोगों का कहना है की यदि पुल के करीब चल रहे खनन को रोका नहीं गया तो पुल को नुकसान होने से कोई नहीं बचा सकता, क्योंकि बड़ी-बड़ी मशीनों से कई फीट की गहराई से बालू को उठाया जा रहा है। जब नदी में उफान आता है तो जो बालू पुल के नीचे बने पिलर के पास होती है बो बालू पिलर के नीचे से हटकर इन गढ्ढों में चली जाती है, जिससे पुल के पोलों का क्षतिग्रस्त होना स्वाभाविक हो जाता है। इसके पहले एक बार पुल क्षतिग्रस्त हो चुका था, जिसके एक माह बाद तक यातायत प्रभावित रहा था। अगर इसी तरह पुल के आस पास खनन होता रहा, तो करोड़ों की लागत से बना पुल कभी भी धराशाई हो सकता है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/uttar-pradesh/jhansi/garautha/news/mining-resumed-near-betwa-bridge-there-could-be-deep-damage-to-the-bridge-129320468.html  (21 Jan. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Kerala bishop, 5 priests held for sand mining For illegal sand mining in Tirunelveli in TN, Kerala bishop and five priests have been arrested by TN police. A case had been registered following hearing in Madurai HC in July 2021. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/kerala-bishop-5-priests-held-for-sand-mining-in-tamil-nadu/articleshow/89442030.cms  (09 Feb. 2022)

In a major setback for Pathanamthitta eparchy of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, the bail application filed by Bishop Samuel Mar Irenios, who has been arraigned as an accused in a case pertaining to illegal sand mining from the Thamirabarani river near Pottal in Ambasamudram, was rejected by the Tirunelveli district court on Friday (Feb. 11). The bishop’s bail application was earlier rejected by the judicial first class magistrate court where the Tamil Nadu Crime Branch-CID has filed an FIR arraigning the bishop, vicar-general Shaji Thomas Manikulam and four other priests as accused.   https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2022/feb/12/illegal-mining-tirunelvelidistrict-court-also-rejects-kerala-bishops-bail-petition-2418409.html  (12 Feb. 2022)

Bihar Environmental audit of sand mining sites start Bihar State Mining Corporation Ltd has engaged private entities which will use technology and drones for the exercise, it said. “During the audit, mining plan of sand ghats, their latitude and longitude related details, conditions of consent for operation issued by the pollution control board, standards related to sand mining, its storage, transportation will also be examined by the concerned agency,” the BSMCL statement said. https://theprint.in/india/bihar-mining-corporation-starts-environmental-audit-of-sand-mining-sites/825213/  (08 Feb. 2022)

Punjab Residents stop over 100 trucks over ‘illegal sand mining’ With elections round the corner, the issue of illegal sand mining has again surfaced in Dakha constituency. The residents of Kot Mana and Gorsian Qadar Baksh village in Jagraon staged a protest on Saturday (Feb. 12) and stopped nearly 100 trucks, which according to them were ferrying sand illegally quarried from the banks of Sutlej River. A mining department official, however, said that the sand was collected from a government-approved quarry in Jalandhar.

Gurpreet Singh, a resident of the village, said that despite being a hot poll issue, illegal sand mining is going on unabated on the banks of Sutlej River. “On an average, 377 trucks cross the village in an hour. By all legal means, as per the market rate, a profit of ₹10,000 per truck is made by selling the sand. Going by that reason, the sand mafia is making ₹37 lakh per hour,” said Gurpreet Singh.

On the other hand, district mining officer Harjot Singh Walia said that following the preliminary probe, it was found that the truck was ferrying sand collected from a government approved sand mine located in Jalandhar. “The villagers have demanded demarcation of their land which will be done in the morning,” said Walia. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/ludhiana-residents-of-two-jagraon-villages-stop-over-100-trucks-over-illegal-sand-mining-101644697549338.html  (13 Feb. 2022)

CM Charanjit Singh Channi’s nephew Bhupinder Singh Honey, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged illegal sand mining case, has been sent to a 14-day judicial custody, reported news agency ANI on Friday (Feb. 11) . https://www.livemint.com/news/india/punjab-cm-channi-s-nephew-sent-to-14-day-judicial-custody-in-illegal-sand-mining-case-11644570720268.html  (11 Feb. 2022)

Gurnam Singh, who blew the whistle on illegal sand mining in Charanjit Singh Channi’s Chamkaur Sahib constituency, is worried that the issue will blow over after Punjab elections, leaving villagers to face floods in the absence of embankments. https://www.news18.com/news/politics/ground-report-will-be-business-as-usual-after-polls-says-whistleblower-as-sand-mining-threatens-to-soil-channis-image-4762838.html  (12 Feb. 2022)

Haryana Illegal mining goes on unabated in Mahendragarh The registration of 149 FIRs, seizure of 243 vehicles and recovery of Rs 4 crore in the past 13 months indicate that the mining mafia is still active in the region despite the efforts being made by the district authorities to check this illegal trade. An inquiry conducted by the mining officials into the cases reveals that locals are involved in illegal mining. Recees are carried out to find out the exact location of patrolling parties with an intention to evade action, said sources. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/despite-action-illegal-mining-goes-on-unabated-in-mahendragarh-368592  (10 Feb. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir 8 arrested for illegal sand mining in Reasi The Reasi police arrested 8 persons and seized 11 vehicles for carrying out illegal sand mining. 9 FIRs were also lodged in different police stations. Illegal sand mining was going on at Tanda Seri Khad, Tawi Khad Pouni, Ghayala Anji among other areas when the raids were conducted. In 2 weeks, the Reasi police have registered 15 FIRs, arrested 14 offenders and seized 12 vehicles. Allotees of mining blocks and owners of vehicles have also been booked. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/j-k/eight-arrested-for-mining-in-reasi-369102  (12 Feb. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Panje officially declared a wetland by Space Application Centre Green activists who have been struggling to save the bird-rich Panje wetland in Uran taluka of Navi Mumbai are happy and excited by the latest development in the MoEF&CC as the Space Application Centre has formally reported to the Union ministry that Panje’s status is that of a wetland. Panje was mentioned in the earlier Wetland Inventory Atlas too, but the authorities ignored this fact for years, despite CAT pointing it out, Goenka said.

The latest National Wetland Decadal Change Atlas prepared by the Space Application Centre has been uploaded on the website of MoEF&CC. It highlights the wetlands statistics in terms of diversity, current status and changes in the last 10 years in various types of wetlands. The ‘space-based observation of Indian wetlands’ highlights that the latest total wetland area in India is estimated to be 15.98 Mha (million hectares) including rivers and excluding paddy field areas which is 0.64 Mha — more than the earlier estimates carried out in 2006-07.

With regards to Panje area, the Atlas highlights the inter-tidal water flow area, the mangroves and the salt pans. The wetland is home to over 200,000 local and migratory birds – a fact which has been ignored by the authorities. The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has already declared the area as CRZ-1 category property which requires clearances for any construction. The illegal security at Panje has been forcibly preventing BNHS researchers, media, environmentalists and wildlife photographers from entering Panje. Some miscreants, apparently aided by the security, have even tried to chase away the birds at Panje wetland by bursting firecrackers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-panje-officially-declared-a-wetland-by-space-application-centre/articleshow/89411494.cms  (07 Feb. 2022)

MoEF Integrated project for wetlands, biodiversity allocated ₹31 cr for 5 yrs The Integrated Management of Wetland, Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services project, funded by the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund (GEFTF), has been allocated ₹31.13 crore for a period of 5 years, said Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister of state for MOEF. In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on Thursday (Feb. 10), the minister said that the 3 wetlands included in the project are Sasthamcotta Lake in Kerala, Harike Lake in Punjab, and Kabartal in Bihar. These three wetlands have been awarded a total budget equivalent of ₹19.02 crores from the GEFTF. The funds are to be divided equally between the three states.

A project management unit (PMU) and National Project Steering Committee have been constituted to overlook the progress of the project. The PMU has conducted a technical appraisal of the plans submitted by state governments, analysing the incorporation of ecosystem services and biodiversity values, mapping the interventions with the threats. A framework has been designed to update existing management plans and disburse funds to the state governments for the three demonstration sites. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/integrated-project-for-wetlands-biodiversity-allocated-rs-31-crore-for-5-years-11644493119375.html  (10 Feb. 2022)

Ramsar Sites in India India’s tally of 49 designated wetlands spread over 10,936 sq km in 18 states and two Union Territories is the largest network of Ramsar Sites in South Asia. Of the 49 sites, 10 are in UP, 6 in Punjab, 4 each in Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, 3 each in Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, 2 each in Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Rajasthan and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Ladakh, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.

Indian government’s definition of wetland excludes river channels, paddy fields and other areas where commercial activity takes place. The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/ tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes.” https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/ramsar-sites-significance-wetlands-listing-7757266/  (10 Feb. 2022)

Maldives The mystery of dying mangroves The Maldives is home to 15 mangrove species, known as ‘faa’ in the Dhivehi language, including some that are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List. But among these, the country is most anxious about saving one particular species that the IUCN lists as being of ‘least concern’, the Bruguiera cylindrica.

In December 2021, a four-member team led by Prof. Nandan set off to investigate what plagued the mangroves of northern Maldives, located some 280 km from the capital Malé. “I’ve done research on mangroves since 2011 and I had never seen a situation like this. It was really unusual,” said Dr. S Sreelekshmi, post-doctoral fellow and mangrove researcher at CUSAT. “The mangroves had completely dried up — from the root to the tip. There was no foliage; only dried sticks and stems.”

Ibrahim Marif helping the team of Maldivian and Indian scientists investigating the cause of the deterioration of the mangroves in the northern islands in the Maldives. Photo credit: Ibrahim Marif/TIE

Found in several parts of tropical Asia, as well as in Australia, the Bruguiera cylindrica can grow up to 20 metres in height and has a greyish bark. While the ecological importance of mangroves has been well-documented, in the Maldives, the Bruguiera cylindrica has historically been an important plant, in part because it is a source of food in the country. Its propagules, a vegetative structure that detaches from the plant to give rise to a new plant, can be cooked and eaten in various ways.

In the Maldives, the uses of these mangroves have not been limited to ecological and dietary spheres. Before fibre boats came into existence, the sturdy wood of the Bruguiera cylindrica was used to build boats in the northern islands. “Kelaa and Neykurendhoo would export this wood to other islands. People from other islands would come looking for this wood for boat building,” said Ali.

Beyond its cultural value in the Maldives, these plants also serve as the first line of defence in cases of floods wherever they are found. Mangrove forests act as a buffer between the land and the sea, and help protect coastal communities from storms, wind & erosion. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/maldives-dying-mangroves-india-role-save-them-7767719/  (11 Feb. 2022)

Kerala Revenue officials stop illegal wetland conversion Revenue officials on Friday (Feb. 11) stopped unauthorised filling up of a wetland at Moolepadam in Vazhakkala here. The vehicle used for filling the land was also taken into custody and handed over to the police, as it was found to have been engaged without the requisite pass. Action was taken by a team led by Kanayannur tahsildar Ranjith George and comprising deputy tahsildar T.K. Babu, village officer C. Indulekha, and village field assistant K.A. Beena.

The move comes in the wake of an order from District Collector Jafar Malik and Fort Kochi Sub Collector P. Vishnuraj to crack down on illegal landfilling of vacant plots in Kakkanad and nearby areas. Revenue officials are closely vetting cases in which wetlands were found categorised as dry land in documents. If proved to be unauthorised conversion, steps will be taken to restore them to their original state. A special team has been formed to act against illegal conversion of wetlands across villages. The team is functioning in liaison with the police. Public can inform the tahsildar if they come across what is suspected to be illegal conversions. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/revenue-officials-stop-illegal-wetland-conversion-in-ernakulam/article38415671.ece  (12 Feb. 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Suranaga digger Ramanna with his assistant: Photo by Shree Padre/DC

Karnataka-Kerala Suranga: Tunnelling earth for water Suranga, the traditional water technology of western ghats areas in Karnataka and Kerala, continues to remain relevant in Dakshin Kannada and Kasargod. https://www.deccanherald.com/spectrum/suranga-tunnelling-the-earth-for-water-1080713.html  (12 Feb. 2022)

Kerala Kasargod: Parallel vented dam enriches ground water table Suresh Bhat V S, an enthusiastic farmer from Swarga who also happens to be a social worker, has built this vented dam cum bridge by spending his own money, after making two years of elaborate preparations. He removed loads of silt and sand that had accumulated during the summer months in the stream for the last two years. In order to ensure that sand from the road does not get washed into the canal again and hamper the water accumulation, he also had got silt in the canal from Golikatte to Swarga bridge removed and conducted repairs.

He had also widened the canal to see that more water gets collected there. To stop sand erosion in the canal and to feed water to agricultural fields till the rainy season, he has built a permanent vented dam. He has used about 800 laterite stones to the gate of the dam which is secured with the help of four iron bars and by fixing planks on both sides and filling mud in the gap therein. Boulders have also been stacked to withstand water pressure. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=923873  (07 Feb. 2022)

Karnataka A new filtration system helps increased rainwater harvesting in Karnataka. https://www.thebetterindia.com/269117/rainwater-harvesting-technique-recharge-wells-how-to-karnataka-drought/  (15 Dec. 2021)

Gujarat About work of Neeta Patel and AKRSP in South Gujarat tribal areas of Gujarat for water conservation. https://www.thebetterindia.com/275852/gujarat-neeta-patel-water-champion-villages-water-shortage-builds-dams/ 

Maharashtra Water-prudent village Villages in Bhokardan block created sustainable provisions for drinking water while also managing greywater despite unfavourable non-favourable hydrogeology https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/how-a-water-scarce-village-in-maharashtra-became-water-prudent-81500  (10 Feb. 2022)

Report Recycled pee could save the world Pam Elardo, who leads the Bureau of Wastewater Treatment as a deputy commissioner in the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, says she supports innovations such as urine diversion, because further reducing pollution and recovering resources are key goals for her utility. The most practical and cost-effective approach to urine diversion for a city such as New York, she foresees, would be off-grid systems for renovated or new buildings, supported by maintenance and collection operations. If innovators can work that out, she says, “they should go for it”.

Given the advances, Larsen predicts that mass production and automation of urine-diversion technologies could be around the corner. And that would improve the business cases for this transformation in dealing with waste. Urine diversion “is the right technology”, she says. “It’s the only technology which can solve the problem of nutrients from households in a reasonable time. But people have to dare.” https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00338-6  (09 Feb. 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Study Solar photovoltaic pump sets as a substitute for conventional pump sets In the present study, the cost of running electrical and diesel tube wells has been estimated along with the cost of replacement of the conventional pump sets with solar photovoltaic (SPV) pump sets. It was found that the cost of running the electric and diesel-operated pump sets for shallow and medium tube wells was almost Rs 73.9 million per year. If these are replaced by SPV pump sets, then installation cost of the latter is Rs 212.71 billion without subsidy. According to the Government scheme, the farmer’s share is Rs 96.18 billion and the Government share is Rs 132.71 billion. Further, with replacements using the solar pumping system, green energy will be available and additional energy can be released into the grid system. This might be especially true for a state like Punjab, where 30–35% electricity is consumed in the agricultural sector for irrigating about 72% of the total irrigated area (99%) through groundwater pumping. https://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/122/03/0337.pdf 

Gujarat Wells with depleted water levels up 26% in 2 years Data of CGWB tabled in the Lok Sabha indicates that the number of monitoring wells with water level below 10 meters (33 feet) increased by 26% in two years from 98 in November 2019 to 124 in November 2021. In fact, the deepest water availability in 2019 was 50.6 meters (166 feet), which increased to 52.3 meters (171 feet) in 2021. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/wells-with-depleted-water-levels-up-26-in-gujarat-in-two-years/articleshow/89414573.cms  (08 Feb. 2022)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru HC takes govt to task over Pachanady solid waste clearance Chief Justice pointed out that Karnataka State Pollution Control Board had, in its report submitted in July, last year, had stated that the water in River Phalguni and Maravoor dam was polluted due to the effluents flowing in from the garbage dump. “As many as 19 have lost their lives due to the solid waste. Still, you do not seem to have even an iota of concern. You will understand if you and the officials are made to drink this poisonous water. It is easy to sit at the office and put forward one or the other reason. This has been going on since years. Do you want us to register this as an ‘insensitive government’ in the court proceedings?” he wanted to know.

Advocates for the government requested ten days’ time to provide information about the progress of steps taken to dispose of solid waste. The high court commented that the government has been putting up one or the other reason and that it does not seem to be having any concern about the people. “Now the cabinet approval is being sighted as a reason,’ it said, before directing the chief secretary of the government to take all possible steps to dispose of the waste. It posted the next hearing to February 23. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=925382  (11 Feb. 2022)

Chunchaghatta lake restored Located in the upstream of the Sarakki Lake at J P Nagar, the 18-acre Chunchaghatta Lake in Bengaluru South was rejuvenated by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) at a cost of Rs 2.7 crore recently. The waterbody was restored under the Bengaluru Mission 2022 programme. As many as 24 more water bodies will be developed under the project.

A graveyard, a temple and a few apartments have been built close to the boundary of the lake. (Express photo by Jithendra M/TIE)

A decade ago, the lake bed of Chunchaghatta was not only subjected to encroachment but also to garbage disposal. While the lake has been fenced, locals point to the broken fence along the residential premises built close to the lake. A graveyard, a temple and a few apartments have been built close to the boundary of the lake.

NGO ActionAid Association has prepared a report ‘Harness Every Drop’ which carried a few recommendations for rainwater harnessing in the lakes of Bengaluru and requested for policy changes within BBMP and Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA). The report was submitted to the BBMP and KTCDA in 2021. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/lakes-of-bengaluru-chunchaghatta-lake-restored-experts-recommend-ways-to-improve-water-quality-7769699/  (13 Feb. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Drive begins to free water bodies of encroachments After the Madras high court expressed displeasure over the state’s inaction in removing encroachments from water bodies, Tamil Nadu government has started a drive to remove encroachments from 440 water bodies across the state that is spread over 9,800 hectares. Revenue and water resources departments are jointly carrying out the task. As per the latest data, 197 cases relating to encroachments, including 68 in water course poramboke, 85 in objectionable poramboke and other water course poramboke are pending in various courts.

-In Kancheepuram district, authorities have reclaimed 82 acres of government land worth ₹487 crore. Encroachers had converted it into mango farms, agricultural fields and had even constructed houses, hospitals and places of worship on those lands. In Chennai, authorities are removing encroachments from Eri Ulvai (Kolathur), Periya Eri (Ullagaram), Periya Eri (Pallikaranai), Thangal (Semmanchery), Kazhuveli (Injambakkam), Periya Eri (Velachery), Adyar river (Guindy), Erikarai (Adambakkam) and Adyar river (Nandambakkam).

-Water bodies were either used for agricultural purpose or encroachers had constructed houses and other concrete structures. Survey department staff are engaged in marking boundaries of tanks before handing them over to the PWD for their upkeep. Action is being taken under the provisions of the TN Protection of Tanks and Eviction of Encroachment, 2007, Act. Officials said evicting encroachments is an arduous task in peri-urban areas owing to high market value of encroached land. “Most encroachers in Varadharajapuram in Kancheepuram district were removed after the 2015 floods. We have come to know that encroachments have started again,” said an official.

-In a related development, the state government had last week constituted three committees at divisional, district and state-level for effective reporting/monitoring of developments in identifying and evicting encroachments in water bodies and government lands. This is in supersession of the existing committees. The state-level committee led by chief secretary V Irai Anbu will monitor and review the overall progress in eviction and compliance of court orders in respect of encroachments in water bodies and other highly objectionable poramboke lands. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/drive-begins-to-free-water-bodies-of-encroachments/articleshow/89534992.cms  (13 Feb. 2022)

Pune 60% consumers used 200 ltr water daily: PCMC Around 60% of consumers used over 200 litres per capita per day (LPCD) water against the national norm of 135 LPCD, a pilot study of 24×7 water supply project introduced last year at Sector 25 of Nigdi Pradhikaran found. Altogether 1,559 water connections receiving 24×7 water supply and covering a population of 9,128 were studied from May 2021. The study revealed that around 28% of consumers consumed 500 LPCD water. In the first month (May 2021) of introduction of the seamless water supply at Sector 25, around 13% of consumers used 0-45LPCD water, only around 6% used 45-90 LPCD water, and 8% used 90-135 LPCD water, which comes to only 27% of consumers following the national norm of 135 LPCD water usage.

The readings for the subsequent months, too, were almost on similar lines with minor changes, said an official from the water supply department, adding that there were few complaints of water leakage and hefty water bills, which, too, were being addressed at local level. The official said that the pilot study found a drop in average usage of water from 250 LPCD to185 LPCD, however, it is still high compared to a suggested benchmark of 135 LPCD. Praveen Ladkat, joint city engineer, PCMC, added that once the PCMC starts drawing 100 MLD water from Andra dam, it can go ahead with expanding the 24×7 water supply to Premlok Park, Samrath Nagar, Sangvi, Akurdi, Vijay Nagar, Datta Nagar, Adarsh Nagar and Sambhaji Nagar areas, among others. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/pune-60-consumers-used-200-ltr-water-daily-finds-pcmc-study/articleshow/89519374.cms  (12 Feb. 2022)

Mumbai BMC to install nets to prevent solid waste from entering sea Ahead of Supreme Court hearing on February 17 over the discharge of untreated sewage into the city’s creeks, drains and rivers, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday (Feb. 12) floated a tender to install floating pollutant traps, or trash nets, at various stormwater drain outfalls in the city to prevent the flow of solid waste into the sea. There are at least 85 such outfalls across the city transporting sewage and solid waste into the Arabian Sea. Officials said that nets will be cleaned regularly through labourers of appointed contractual agencies which carry out desilting works.

The BMC was directed to take this step in November 2021 by the NGT, which also directed it to deposit within three months a penalty of ₹28.20 crore with the CPCB for discharging raw sewage into the city creeks, rivers and drains. In October 2020, the NGT had first slapped a fine of ₹29.75 crore over the same violations, which are yet to be paid by the BMC. The NGT’s November 2021 order is subject to pending orders of the Supreme Court.

The BMC had filed a civil appeal before the Supreme Court in March last year, seeking a stay on the NGT’s October 2020 directions. The civic body had also attempted to stay a subsequent execution application that Vanashakti filed before NGT in June, after observing little action by the municipality toward complying with the Tribunal’s orders. The SC however not only allowed Vanashakti’s execution application to proceed but clarified that the municipal commissioner himself will have to satisfy the NGT of compliance with its directions.

The Supreme Court on February 1 rapped the BMC for the delay in establishment STPs along with a sewer network to prevent the discharge of untreated effluents into water bodies and the sea. “We are thoroughly dissatisfied with what the MCGM has done so far. If the state government and the municipal corporation are serious, then they will do it. Otherwise, they can keep dragging their feet forever which is evident from issuance, cancellation and reissuing of tenders for the STPs,” said a bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud.

The SC had also warned that it would consider taking coercive action against the MCGM and responsible authorities if they do not provide concrete timelines for completion of the work on the next date of the hearing. “Against NGT orders, you have the Supreme Court to appeal. But against SC orders you have no remedy but to come back to us,” the bench had remarked. BMC officials declined to comment, saying they will present their submissions directly before the Supreme Court this week. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/bmc-to-install-nets-at-stormwater-outfalls-to-prevent-solid-waste-from-entering-sea-101644762190676.html  (13 Feb. 2022)

BMC to make periodic audit mandatory In order to check the tampering with the water meters causing losses to the civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has proposed to make mechanical audits of meters ‘mandatory’ after five years of installation. The proposal has been brought after the civic body found large scale tampering of the meters by the residential societies to manipulate reading for lower bills.

The BMC has also proposed that it will be replacing the current mechanical meters with upgraded electromagnetic meters, which come with the lifespan of over 10 years, to prevent tampering. At present, there is no such clause of carrying out regular audits of water meters and that a meter could be used by the owners as long as it is in working condition. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/bmc-to-make-periodic-audit-mandatory-to-curb-water-meter-tampering-101644344121997.html  (08 Feb. 2022)

Revenue officials stop excavation work at Kharghar hill The State revenue officials, on Thursday, stopped the excavation and sealed five vehicles after greens complained against cutting of a hill in Kharghar. The State Revenue department has sealed excavators, bulldozers and dumper trucks. The excavation was carried out by a private contractor engaged by CIDCO for taking soil for landfilling for Kharghar Golf Course, revenue officials said. The contractor at the site did not have any document to show the legality of the work, the officials said.

Raising serious concerns over quarrying, environmental groups had contacted the Chief Minister’s office and revenue officials, requesting to look into the matter and immediately halt it. Even as CIDCO officials claimed that they do not need any permissions, revenue officials said that the jurisdiction of the hill is not clear. “In this case, the contractor had not paid royalty to the state government and hence five dumpers and two JCBs were sealed,” Santosh Kachare, revenue officer from Kharghar circle, said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/state-revenue-officials-stop-excavation-work-at-kharghar-hill-seal-vehicles-101644501697536.html  (10 Feb. 2022)

Thane Senior citizen killed in fight over water in Bhiwandi, two held A senior citizen has died due to a clash with her neighbours over water distribution in their building in Bhiwandi. The woman was injured as she tried to save her daughter, who was attacked by her neighbours with a bat. She was taken to the hospital where she died while being treated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thane/thane-senior-citizen-killed-in-a-fight-over-water-in-bhiwandi-two-held/articleshow/89518598.cms  (12
Feb. 2022)

Following the incident, the BNCMC proposed to spend ₹30 lakh on buying additional water. “The additional supply of 2MLD of water for certain areas by the BMC has been sanctioned and work will begin soon,” said Laxman Gaikwad, city engineer, BNCMC. Out of the 2MLD, one MLD of water would be used for distribution and the other one MLD would be filled in an elevated reservoir (a tank). The BNCMC presently has 115MLD of water supply, of which 70MLD is received from STEM, 2MLD is provided by the civic body and 43MLD by the BMC. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/bhiwandi-to-get-additional-2mld-water-from-bmc-as-water-problems-in-city-comes-to-fore-again-101644680508572.html  (12 Feb. 2022)

Shillong 4 places identified for landfill site: Govt The state government has so far identified four locations for the permanent landfill site for Shillong. Informing this, Urban Affairs Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar, however, said that the exercise in selecting the land for the permanent landfill site in Shillong and Jowai is still on.

“75 per cent of the exercise of identifying the location has already been completed. From my side, I would like to complete the exercise at the earliest. But the process of acquisition is not a one-way traffic,” Dhar told a group of reporters here on Wednesday. The Urban Affairs Minister, however, made it clear that he will not be able to reveal the names of the four locations. “It will not be wise to divulge the locations since there are opposition to the proposal for setting up of the permanent landfill site,” Dhar said.

Meanwhile, according to officials, the government has identified two locations in Ri-Bhoi for a new landfill site. “The government is trying to convince the people that the new landfill site will not become another Marten,” an official said, requesting anonymity. It may be mentioned at present, Marten is the only place where garbage from across  Shillong is being dumped since last 87 years. A total of 150 metric tonnes of garbage is dumped at Marten every day out of which only 20 metric tonnes is recycled. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/02/10/4-places-identified-in-shillong-for-landfill-site-govt/  (10 Feb. 2022)

Chandigarh Residents write to MC chief to clean Dadu Majra dumping ground Over 70 city residents, including environmentalists, educationalists, retired personnel and bureaucrats, have written to the Chandigarh Municipal Commissioner to clean the Dadu Majra dumping ground. Last year, prior to the MC elections, people, including residents of Dadu Majra, Warrior Moms, a group of mothers demanding accountability on air pollution and the climate crisis, had organised a peaceful demonstration outside the dumpsite, demanding cleaning of Dadu Majra, which is a health hazard to the communities living there and a source of toxic air pollution. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/chandigarh-residents-write-to-mc-chief-368908  (11 Feb. 2022)

Delhi Leakage in plant to hit water supply  Water supply will be affected in areas like Nizamuddin, South Extension and Greater Kailash in south Delhi due to major leakage at Wazirabad water treatment plant. According to Delhi Jal board officials, repair work has been going on since afternoon at the water treatment plant but pumping of water has been stopped at Kilkori water line, which is affecting the areas where water pressure will be low. The other affected areas are around Ramlila Ground, World Health Organisation building near ITO, Lok Naryan Jai Prakash hospital, Rajghat and adjoining areas. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/leakage-in-plant-to-hit-water-supply/articleshow/89487920.cms  (11 Feb. 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

NGT’s New Fly Ash Order Is First of Its Kind in Environmental Jurisprudence On January 18, the NGT decided to club 8 ongoing cases on fly ash mismanagement and accidents filed between 2013 and 2020. There are several significant directives in the NGT’s order on guidelines for ash pond siting, design and engineering standards and the need for public health and risk impact assessments. In particular, the tribunal’s order is perhaps the first time the courts have recognised the public health costs of fly ash mismanagement in India. https://science.thewire.in/law/national-green-tribunal-fly-ash-management-and-utilisation-mission-public-health-crisis/  (10 Feb. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh Residents protest about effluents In Jagapatti village of Mirzapur, the inhabitants say they won’t vote in protest against effluents from the carpet industry in neighbouring Bhadohi district’s seeping into their fertile fields and destroying their crops. https://en.gaonconnection.com/mirzapur-carpet-industry-bhadohi-farmers-fields-toxic-waste-agriculture-uttar-pradesh-assembly-election-voting-boycott-jagapatti-village-poverty/  (10 Feb. 2022)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

IWP Budgetary provisions for drinking water supply continue to get priority The JJM, which has completed more than two years, has picked up pace in terms of coverage, with about 5.5 crore households or 29 per cent of target beneficiaries, being provided with piped water supply as of 1st January, 2022. However, the coverage of the scheme has seen wide variations across states. While six states/UTs (Goa, Telangana, A&N Islands, Puducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and Haryana) have provided piped water supply to 100 per cent of households, several states, including Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, have covered less than 10 per cent of rural households under the scheme[ii]. Further, until 19th January 2022, about 8.3 lakh government schools had been provided with 32 piped water facilities under the JJM.

Despite increasing allocations for the scheme, the previous year’s utilisation reflects a bleak picture, with only 26 per cent of the allocated amount released in January 2022, with varying fund utilisation levels by states. While 13 states, including West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Tamil Nadu, have utilised less than half of their available funds, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana had spent more than 70 per cent of their funds up to 1st January, 2022.

Source: Compiled by CBGA from Union Budget documents, various years/ IWP

In addition, a large amount of unspent balances, to the tune of Rs 2,436.4 crore and Rs 6,431.9 crore, were 35 already lying with states in FY 2018-19 and FY 2019-20, respectively. This implies that there is a need to identify administrative and procedural bottlenecks in the effective absorption of resources for the sector, especially when the budgetary provision has been stepped up significantly.

In 2021-22, except for Punjab, which has spent 100 per cent of funds available for water quality, many states, including Maharashtra, Telangana, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh, have spent no funds on the water quality component. It should also be noted that up to two per cent of the funds allocated under JJM are earmarked for strengthening of the water quality monitoring infrastructure. However, the Standing Committee on Water Resources (2021-22) pointed out that the decreasing number of water testing laboratories is a cause of concern.

In the case of sanitation, the 2022-23 (BE) allocation for the Swachh Bharat Mission – Rural (SBM-R) has registered a decline of 28 per cent in comparison with 2021-22 BE (Refer to Figure below). The allocation for SBM Urban in 2022-23 (BE) has not registered any change and remained constant compared to 2021-22 BE (Refer to Figure below). Given the rapid growth of urbanisation in the country, a greater allocation for SBM(U) was expected.

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission – Phase II, 7.16 lakh individual household latrines were constructed for households and 19,061 Community Sanitary Complexes were constructed in 2021-22. Recently released data from the National Family Health Survey – 5, also shows that rural households with improved sanitation facilities registered an impressive increase from 48.5 per cent in 2015-16 to 70 per cent in 2019-21. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/budgetary-provisions-drinking-water-supply-continue-get-priority  (10 Feb. 2022)

The draft criteria for determination of Bulk Water Tariff (BWT), 2020-23 prepared by MWRRA. Comments by Pradeep Purandare. Is water tariff an effective tool for regulation of water in Maharashtra? Water users can & do refuse to pay water Percent recovery for irrigation & non-irrigation tariff is hardly 7 & 36 percent. http://jaagalyaa.in/2022/02/bulk-water-tariff-bwt-2020-23/  (09 Feb. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir 3 Poonch localities without drinking water for 2 months Locals said that in the three localities of Upper Sangla village of Surankote, the water supply scheme was lying defunct with no water being supplied for the past two months. “There is a water reservoir tank in the area which is completely dry due to unavailability of water from the scheme,” locals said. Jal Shakti Department through District Information Center issued a statement informing that the supply of water was affected in the area due to the damage of the gate valve by the locals while the recent snowfall, rainfall and landslides also affected the alignment of the supply line. “The department is trying hard to restore the water supply within days,” an official of the department said. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/pir-panjal/3-poonch-localities-without-drinking-water-for-2-months  (13 Feb. 2022)  

WATER

Odisha LiDAR technology for water and soil conservation work in forests The State government, for the first time, is using a 3D scanning technology – light detection and ranging (LiDAR) – to implement soil and water conservation projects in forest areas. The initiative is aimed at improving fodder and water in forests thereby reducing human-animal conflicts and increasing ground water recharge. The laser scanning technology is being piloted in Rayagada forest division to create soil and water conservation structures in the first phase, said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Head of Forest Force (HoFF) Sisir Kumar Ratho.

Contrary to empirical methods, LiDAR technology offers precise 3D measurement data for selection of sites to create these structures. The technology has an accuracy level of 95 per cent and above in recommending suitable sites. The Forest department is implementing the project with the help of Water and Power Consultancy Services Limited (WAPCOS), a Central PSU under the aegis of Ministry of Jal Shakti, utilising CAMPA funds. 

The WAPCOS in its DPR has recommended construction of 945 different structures for conservation of soil, soil moisture and water on 10,000 hectare area within the division. To make the process more scientific, six different parameters including soil moisture stress, land use pattern and rainfall data have been taken into account for selection of the structure sites. The PCCF said if implemented successfully in the division, the Forest department will replicate it in other areas of the State in future. Apart from Odisha, WAPCOS has carried out LiDAR-based surveys of forest areas in 10 other states including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/feb/13/odisha-uses-lidar-technology-for-water-and-soil-conservation-work-in-forests-2418857.html  (13 Feb. 2022)

URBAN FLOODS

Chennai Work to build channel to divert water from Adyar river to begin in March The Water Resources Department (WRD) plans to start work on the construction of a channel from the Somangalam tributary to the Adyar river, and to take up other improvement work at the river, by early March. The project is set to reduce flooding in the southern suburbs. Every year, areas such as Royappa Nagar, Mahalakshmi Nagar, Varadharajapuram and West Tambaram remain inundated for several weeks whenever there is peak flow in the Adyar. As many of these surrounding areas are at a lower altitudes than the river, there is difficulty in draining floodwater when the water flow in the Adyar reaches its maximum capacity.

Officials said the bypass channel was one of the remedies proposed to divert a portion of floodwater flowing into the river as part of the nearly ₹70-crore project to mitigate floods in the city’s southern suburbs. A cut and cover channel would be built at the Somangalam tributary-Adyar river confluence point upstream of these flood-prone areas. About 850 cusecs of excess water would be conveyed through the channel for 2 km and it would join the river about 750 metres downstream of the Outer Ring Road bridge. Moreover, dense rocks in the riverbed near Tiruneermalai would be cut as they often prove to be a hindrance for smooth flow. The department would increase the depth of the river by a minimum of two feet in flood-prone areas to enable improved flood-carrying capacity. Flood protection walls would be built for a height of 4 metres along vulnerable areas, including in Adanur and Tiruneermalai to prevent breaches in the waterway, the officials said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/work-to-build-channel-to-divert-water-from-adyar-river-to-begin-in-march/article38417513.ece  (12 Feb. 2022)

Mumbai Central railways to undertake work to stop flooding at tracks  In order to stop waterlogging on railway tracks during monsoon along the Central Railway, microtunneling work will be undertaken across railway tracks at Kurla and Chunabhatti railways stations. A pipe will be laid that will run across the railway tracks at Kurla and Chunabhatti railway stations in order to stop rainwater from flooding the tracks. In order to complete the work, Reinforced Concrete (RCC) pipes will be connected with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) pipelines. After completion, the stormwater will pass through these newly-laid Reinforced Concrete (RCC) pipes that will eliminate flooding.

Every year, Kurla, Sion and Chunabhatti railway tracks get flooded due to the overflowing Mithi river which disrupts local train services. “We will undertake the microtunneling work in order to ensure that flooding on the railway tracks is prevented. It will be done before the monsoon,” said a senior Central Railway official. Similarly, microtunneling work was undertaken at Masjid Bunder railway station by laying RCC pipes of 1000 mm diameter. Flooding gates at specific locations will be made to prevent water from entering the railway tracks. A meeting with BMC for monsoon preparedness will be conducted with railway officials in the next week. During the monsoon of 2021, Central Railway local train services were suspended for nearly 15 hours in June owing to waterlogging on suburban railway tracks. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/central-railways-to-undertake-work-to-stop-flooding-at-tracks-101644673129240.html  (12 Feb. 2022)

DROUGHT

Nagaland Declared moderate drought hit state The Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) has declared a ‘drought of a moderate nature’ in the entire state for six months from September 2021 to March 2022. Based on the scanty, deficit and less than normal rainfall that has been observed from March to November 2021, the declaration of drought would come into effect from September 15, 2021, and would continue to be in effect for six months, till further order, the NSDMA notification stated.  https://theprint.in/india/nagaland-declared-moderate-drought-hit-state/825687/  (09 Feb. 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

MoEF introducing a series of changes in the regulations through office orders which has become a regular feature now and in many cases are without proper public consultation. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/02/environment-ministry-pursues-ease-of-business-one-office-order-at-a-time/  (09 Feb. 2022)

Pushing Bills through in haste is a bad idea for the environment. But the inadequacy of the provisions may be the reason for the haste in the first place Neha Sinha.  https://thewire.in/environment/centre-haste-wildlife-biodiversity-lwas-amendment  (10 Feb. 2022)

In the new framework, the environmental protection that our natural resources avail is perceived to be a hassle to the free flow of capital. As a result, the onus of creating a hassle-free business environment has fallen to agencies within the environment ministry, which are now forced to abdicate their statutory mandates. https://science.thewire.in/politics/rights/minimum-governance-single-window-green-clearance-system-major-political-reform/  (12 Feb. 2022)

Rajasthan Grove of Gods & Changing Landscape Rajasthan’s sacred groves, locally called orans, were once secure wildernesses that also supported livelihoods. Today, with power lines and green energy projects dotting the landscape, they are no longer safe spaces for their rare and diverse wild residents. https://sustain.round.glass/photo-story/oran-rajasthan/ 

Kindly share in your networks. कृपया अपने साथियों के साथ साझा करें।

Delhi-based Hazards Centre, which provides professional assistance to community groups, is offering internships in the following areas: दिल्ली स्थित खतरा केंद्र, जो जन समुदायों को तकनीकी सहायता प्रदान करता है, निम्न क्षेत्रों में इंटर्नशिप करने का मौका दे रहा है:

1. Setting up a job portal for working people in low income settlements.

१. बस्तियों में मेहनतकशों के लिए नेट पर रोजगार पोर्टल बनाना।

2. Conducting time-motion and energy-expenditure studies with workers’ groups.

२. मजदूर संगठनों के साथ समय-कार्य और ऊर्जा-खपत अध्ययन करना।

3. Mapping pollution impacts using physico-chemical and health studies.

३. भौतिक और स्वास्थ्य अध्ययन द्वारा प्रदूषण के प्रभाव का आंकलन करना।

4. Preparing case studies of empowered communities, based on documents and interviews.

४. दस्तावेज़ और साक्षात्कार के माध्यम से सशक्त समुदायों की कहानी लिखना।

Interested young people with the necessary skills may apply with a note describing themselves to: जिन युवा को इन कामों में योग्यता है वे अपने विवरण के साथ हमे लिख सकते हैं: hazardscentre@gmail.com

CLIMATE CHANGE

Report Are We Ignoring Other Causes of Disasters? Climate change is increasingly seen as the cause of natural catastrophes, from floods to famines. But a growing number of scientists are cautioning that blaming disasters solely on climate overlooks the poor policy and planning decisions that make these events much worse.

– “Disasters occur when hazards [such as climate change] meet vulnerability.” And vulnerability has many causes, including bad water or forest management, unplanned urbanization, and social injustices that leave the poor and marginalized at risk. Some examples:

GERMAN FLOODS IN MID JULY 2021 DUE TO KYLL RIVER: Hydrologists monitoring the river flows say that the spread of farms in the once-boggy hills where the rainfall was most intense had destroyed the sponge-like ability of the land to absorb heavy rains. Field drains, roadways, and the removal of natural vegetation channeled the water into the rivers within seconds, rather than days. That suggested a way to prevent future floods here and elsewhere that would be much faster than fixing climate change. Unpublished analysis of the Kyll by Els Otterman and colleagues at Dutch consultantcy Stroming had found that blocking drains and removing dykes to restore half of the former sponges could reduce peak river flows during floods by more than a third.

DRY LAKE CHAD IN WEST AFRICA: During the final quarter of the 20th century, its surface shrank by 95 percent, and it remains today less than half the size of Rhode Island. Deprived of water, local fishers, farmers, and herders have lost their livelihoods. Deepening poverty has contributed to a collapse of law and order, growing jihadism, and an exodus of more than 2 million people, many heading for Europe. Hydrologists say key reason is that rivers out of Cameroon, Chad, and Buhari’s Nigeria that once supplied most of its water are being diverted by govt agencies to irrigate often extremely inefficient rice farms. A 2019 analysis headed by Wenbin Zhu, a hydrologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found that water diversions for irrigation explained 73 percent of the reduction in flow into Lake Chad from the largest river, the Chari, since the 1960s — a proportion that rose to 80 percent after 2000. Variability in rainfall explained just 20 percent.

MADAGASCAR DROUGHT IN 2021: Climate change played at most a minor role in the drought, which was a reflection of past natural variability in rainfall, as evidenced by records dating back to the late 19th century. The blame for the crisis is also on poverty and poor infrastructure, such as inadequate water supplies to irrigate crops — issues that had gone unaddressed.

BIODIVERSITY LOSS: “Threats to biodiversity are increasingly seen through the single myopic lens of climate change,” complains Tim Caro, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of California Davis. That is hard to justify when his analysis of Red List extinction data shows that habitat loss is still three times more important than climate change in vertebrate extinctions. 

– The danger is that knee-jerk attribution of disasters to climate change creates “a politically convenient crisis narrative … [that] paves a subtle exit path for those responsible for creating vulnerability.”

– Jane Madgwick, CEO of Wetlands International, estimates that sponges across 50,000 square miles of upland river catchments across Germany, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg could be restored to reduce flood peaks downstream. “Yes, of course we need to fight climate change,” she says. But in the meanwhile, “extreme meteorological events don’t have to turn into extreme flooding events. As we work to fix the climate, we must fix the landscape too.” https://e360.yale.edu/features/its-not-just-climate-are-we-ignoring-other-causes-of-disasters  (FRED PEARCE 080222)

FRANCE Paris needs buried river to fight climate change Paris’ last stretch of the Bièvre was sealed up in 1912. Since then, a deep-rooted cultural fascination with the lost river has powered several heritage campaigns to reopen it. But none have succeeded: its waters no longer even run under the city, having been cut off at towns closer to its source, 13 miles southwest of Paris.

– Paris’ Green Party proposed “the rebirth of la Bièvre” during the campaign for elections last year, and Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s Socialist Party agreed to pursue it as part of a coalition deal. A feasibility study is underway and Lert expects to complete the first section within city limits by the end of the mayor’s current term in 2026. It will join several stretches of the Bièvre uncovered over the last few years in smaller towns, in parks and other underdeveloped areas.

– The Bièvre is far from the first urban river to get a new chance at life in the climate change era. A movement to “daylight” rivers has been building for roughly a decade. In 2014, Auckland, New Zealand, stripped away thousands of cubic meters of clay and pipes to uncover streams in its city center. In May of this year, a construction team in Manchester, U.K. uncovered a downtown section of the River Medlock, which was buried in an underground tunnel 50 years ago. Authorities in New York City are currently studying a $130 million plan to reopen the Tibbetts Brook in the Bronx, which was enclosed in a drain around the same time as the Bièvre, to help mitigate growing flood risks.

– Daylighting a river is almost always an expensive process, according to C40’s Garg. But, as with many costly climate adaptation projects, “the cost of damages, from heat and flooding, will be even higher if you don’t do it,” she says. For example, in 2005, Seoul built a $900 million artificial version of the Cheonggyecheon stream on the course of the original river, which had been covered up by a highway during the 1970s. The new waterway, which diverts water from an underground river, acts as a major flood-relief channel, capable of protecting the surrounding area from a 200-year storm. The Cheonggyecheon has also become a major tourist attraction, receiving 60,000 visitors a day, and is credited with revitalizing an economically moribund neighborhood. “Financially, there’s a clear case for these projects,” Garg says.

– The trend represents a reversal among urban leaders, who for centuries saw limiting nature’s footprint as crucial to development, says Snigdha Garg, head of adaptation research at C40, a coalition of 97 cities seeking to be climate leaders. In July, Paris, along with 30 other major cities, signed a C40 pledge to expand blue and green spaces by 2030, either to cover 30-40% of city surface area or to make sure 70% of city residents are living within 15 minutes of them.

– Paris has a district cooling system—an environmentally friendly technology that uses water or another medium to move heat from hotter areas to naturally cooler ones—that’s the largest in Europe. Built in 1991, it pumps chilled water from the Seine across 56 miles (90 km) of pipes to cool hotels, department stores, offices, museums and more. Over the next 20 years, the city plans to triple the length of the network and hook up all of its hospitals and healthcare centers. https://time.com/6131545/paris-bievre-river-climate-change/  (24 Jan. 2022)

Report Glaciers in Karakoram region stable, others melting faster: Govt In reply to a written question in the Lok Sabha, the ministry said the mean retreat rate of the Hindukush Himalayan glaciers was 14.9-15.1 metres per annum, which varied from 12.7-13.2 metres per annum in the Indus, 15.5-14.4 metres per annum in the Ganga and 20.2-19.7 metres per annum in the Brahmaputra river basins. “However, glaciers in the Karakoram region have shown comparatively minor length change (-1.37 ± 22.8 m/a), indicating the stable condition,” the ministry said, citing studies carried out by various institutions associated with the ministry.

The ministry, through its autonomous institute National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, has been monitoring six glaciers in the Chandra basin (2,437 square kilometre area) in western Himalaya since 2013. The Geological Survey of India has taken up a project on melting of glaciers in the Beas Basin, South Chenab basin and the Chandra Basin in Himachal Pradesh, and the Shyok and Nubra basin in Ladakh during Field Season 2021-22. It said the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) was monitoring a few glaciers in Uttarakhand which reveal that the Dokriani Glacier in the Bhagirathi basin was retreating at 15-20 metre/annum (mpa) since 1995, whereas Chorabari Glacier in the Mandakini basin was retreating at 9-11 mpa during 2003-2017. https://www.rediff.com/news/report/glaciers-in-karakoram-region-stable-others-melting-faster-govt/20220213.htm  (13 Feb. 2022)

Arunachal Pradesh Climate studies predict most districts will receive heavy downpour, flash floods: Prof Ravindranath International Climate Change expert at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore Prof N H Ravindranath has claimed that recent climate modeling studies predict that most districts of Arunachal Pradesh will receive heavy downpour and flash floods in the coming days.

Recently, the state has witnessed massive snowfall in various places of the state, such as parts of West Kameng district after two decades, Darya Hill area in Itanagar after 34 years and even in parts of Kurung Kumey district. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/02/10/climate-studies-predict-most-districts-of-arunachal-will-receive-heavy-downpour-flash-floods-prof-ravindranath/  (10 Feb. 2022)

Himalayas Are Experiencing an “Exceptional” Loss of Glacial Mass Researchers found that 40% of glacial area has been lost and that mass loss in recent decades has been 10 times faster than loss since the Little Ice Age. Loss of glacial mass in the Himalayas has been “exceptional” when compared to all other regions in the world, a new paper has shown. The authors mapped 14,798 Himalayan glaciers during the last period of glacial advance, the Little Ice Age, around 400–700 years ago. They analyzed around 2,300 kilometers of the mountains, ranging from India to Bhutan.

Researchers found that 40% of the glacier area has been lost and that mass loss in recent decades has been 10 times faster than loss since the Little Ice Age. The eastern Himalayas experienced the greatest glacial mass loss, with Nepal and Bhutan experiencing the fastest declines. The study is the first assessment of changes in Himalayan glaciers over a centennial timescale.

Many studies have quantifiably assessed the rate of glacial mass change across the Himalayas for recent decades. But “these are still within the time period of anthropogenic climate change and make no comparison with glacier mass loss before their study time period,” said Ethan Lee, a researcher at Newcastle University and lead author of the paper. Studies that have been concerned with glacial mass loss since the Little Ice Age “have either been limited to small regions or watersheds or singular glaciers and cannot be extrapolated to across the Himalaya,” he added. To expand the field of study and get a more holistic evaluation of glacial retreat, the authors aimed to create a data set of glaciers at their Little Ice Age extents and perform glacial ice surface reconstruction to identify the overall mass loss from the Little Ice Age to present. https://eos.org/articles/himalayas-are-experiencing-an-exceptional-loss-of-glacial-mass  (10 Feb. 2022)

Ladakh Glaciers at Pangong in Ladakh retreated 6.7% since 1990 Glaciers at Pangong region in Union Territory Ladakh have receded 6.7 percent for the last three decades, according to recent research with experts warning of serious consequences on the ecology of the cold deserted region of India. This revelation through this research has come to the fore at a time when  the dispute between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh is at a high since April 2020. The research titled Spatiotemporal dynamics and geodetic of glaciers with varying debris cover in the Pangong region of Trans-Himalayan Ladakh India between 1990 and 2019, has ascertained the area changes and frontal retreat of 87 glaciers in the Pangong region on the Indian side. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/glaciers-at-pangong-in-ladakh-retreated-6-7-since-1990-study-8083781.html  (12 Feb. 2022)

Study Climate crisis takes toll on two key glaciers In a study published in a Nature Research journal, the npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, on February 3, researchers said the South Col glacier near Mount Everest has been thinning at an estimated rate of 2 metres per year. The South Col glacier, the researchers said, is a sentinel for the accelerating ice loss in the Himalayas, where glaciers feed rivers. Standing at nearly 26,000 feet above sea level – the highest in the world – the glacier is losing ice nearly 80 times faster than the rate at which it accumulated, and it may vanish by mid-century. The thinning picked up sometime in late 1990s. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/climate-crisis-takes-toll-on-two-key-glaciers-101644601242808.html  (12 Feb. 2022)

Measuring climate change: It’s not just heat, it’s humidity  “There are two drivers of climate change: temperature and humidity,” Ramanathan said. “And so far we measured global warming just in terms of temperature.” But by adding the energy from humidity, “the extremes — heat waves, rainfall and other measures of extremes — correlate much better,” he said.

That’s because as the world warms, the air holds more moisture, nearly 4% for every degree Fahrenheit (7% for every degree Celsius). When that moisture condenses, it releases heat or energy, “that’s why when it rains, now it pours,” Ramanathan said. In addition, water vapor is a potent heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere that increases climate change, he said. https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/measuring-climate-change-heat-humidity-82585400  (01 Feb. 2022)

Thin glaciers suggest Andes faces ‘peak water’ sooner than thought People living in the Andes in South America will reach “peak water” – defined as a declining availability of water – much sooner than expected because the glaciers they rely on have been found to be much thinner than thought.

The area’s glaciers have 27 per cent less ice than than previously estimated, according to a new global assessment of the thickness of the world’s glaciers. The work found stark regional differences in terms of fresh water supplies.

The study, which excludes Antarctica and Greenland, found that glaciers in the Himalayas have 37 per cent more ice than thought. That is good news for the 250 million people in the region who face pressure on water supplies as glaciers disappear under climate change. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2307363-thin-glaciers-suggest-andes-faces-peak-water-sooner-than-thought/  (07 Feb. 2022)

Highest glacier to disappear in middle of this century Researchers in Nepal on Tuesday (Feb. 08) warned that the highest glacier on the top of Mount Everest could disappear by the middle of this century as the 2,000-year-old ice cap on the world’s tallest mountain is thinning at an alarming rate. https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/everest-s-2-000-yr-old-highest-glacier-to-disappear-in-middle-of-this-century-nepal-researchers-warn-1910503-2022-02-08  (08 Feb. 2022)

Mountain’s highest glacier melting rapidly Climate change is causing the highest glacier on Mount Everest to melt at a rapid pace, a new study has found. Researchers led by the University of Maine found that the South Col Glacier has lost more than 180ft (54m) of thickness in the last 25 years. The glacier, which sits around 7,906m (25,938 ft) above sea-level, is thinning 80 times faster than it first took the ice to form on the surface.

The rate of decline has been blamed on warming temperatures and strong winds. Scientists leading the study found that since the 1990s, ice that took around 2,000 years to form has melted away. They also noted that the glacier’s thick snowpack has been eroded, exposing the underlying black ice to the sun and accelerating the melting process. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-60259427  (05 Feb. 2022)

What does the latest glacier research reveal? The Institute of Environmental Geosciences and Dartmouth College have released new findings. Unprecedented research into 250,000 glaciers has found they hold less ice and water than originally thought. Scientists at the Institute of Environmental Geosciences and Dartmouth College say it means melting glaciers will have less impact on rising sea levels. But there are gloomy implications for drinking water, agriculture and power generation in places that depend on glaciers for freshwater. https://www.aljazeera.com/program/inside-story/2022/2/7/what-does-the-worlds-new-glacial-atlas-reveal  (07 Feb. 2022)

Scientists find lost ‘supermountains’ Mount Everest, at its towering height of 8,848 meters, is the tallest in the Himalayan range, but there were ranges that stretched across the continent. Longer than the Himalayas, these mountain ranges helped in the evolution of the planet. Researchers have tracked the formation of these supermountains throughout Earth’s history.

Stretching up to 8,000 kms across, they were nearly four times the length of the present-day Himalayan ranges (2,300 kilometers) and formed twice in Earth’s history — the first between 2,000 and 1,800 million years ago and the second between 650 and 500 million years ago. Researchers believe that there are links between these two instances of supermountains and the two most important periods of evolution in Earth’s history. https://www.indiatoday.in/science/story/scientists-find-lost-supermountains-four-times-longer-than-himalayas-1909718-2022-02-07  (07 Feb. 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan Master plan being developed by FAO to restore Indus River Basin A  master plan is being developed by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to restore the Indus River Basin at the source with three work streams; to protect the source, use the river efficiently and sustainably and protect marine life. The Indus River Basin is under threat from climate change, environmental degradation, population pressure and pollution hence putting a question mark on its resilience to sustain life for future generations. https://nation.com.pk/09-Feb-2022/master-plan-being-developed-by-fao-to-restore-indus-river-basin  (09 Feb. 2022)

Nepal West Seti project to restart? “If things go as planned, work on the West Seti project could begin from the next fiscal year,” said Sushil Bhatta, chief executive officer of Investment Board Nepal, a government body that deals with potential foreign investors for large projects. Long story that does not give clear reasons why this optimism now. https://kathmandupost.com/national/2022/02/09/an-electricity-project-stuck-in-limbo-for-60-years-hopes-to-see-the-light-of-day  (09 Feb. 2022)

Bangladesh Char: Banglapedia Lot of interesting information about Chars in Bangladesh here: Chars in Bangladesh have been divided into five sub-areas: the Jamuna, the Ganges, the Padma, the Upper Meghna and the Lower Meghna rivers. There are other areas of riverine chars in Bangladesh, along the Old Brahmaputra and the Tista rivers. But compared to the chars in the major rivers, these constitute much less land area. It is estimated that in 1993 the total area covered by chars in Bangladesh was 1,722 sq km. https://en.banglapedia.org/index.php/Char

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Report Dams alter rivers temperature affect fish future. https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/02/09/dam-temperatures-fish-future-study/  (09 Feb. 2022)

Spain Ghost village emerges in Spain as drought empties reservoir A ghost village that has emerged as drought has nearly emptied a dam on the Spanish-Portuguese border is drawing crowds of tourists with its eerie, grey ruins.

With the reservoir at 15% of its capacity, details of a life frozen in 1992, when the Aceredo village in Spain’s north-western Galicia region was flooded to create the Alto Lindoso reservoir, are being revealed once more. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/11/ghost-village-emerges-in-spain-as-drought-empties-reservoir-aceredo  (11 Feb. 2022)

GERD Media narratives and state building There almost complete absence of critical writing or contestation of GERD in mainstream Ethiopian media and even among researchers, says this article. The critical voices have been quite either due to censorship or self-censorship. There is nothing even about the impacts of the project or its costs and benefits, leave aside the downstream impact of the project on other countries. https://flows.hypotheses.org/7078  (11 Feb. 2022)

Water dispute on the Nile River could destabilize the region The rapid filling of a giant dam at the headwaters of the Nile River — the world’s biggest waterway, supporting millions of people — could reduce water supplies to downstream Egypt by more than one-third, new USC research shows.

A NASA image shows the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam along the Blue Nile, one of the Nile’s two major tributaries, near the Ethiopia-Sudan border. (Photo/NASA-JPL)

A water deficit of that magnitude, if unmitigated, could potentially destabilize a politically volatile part of the world by reducing arable land in Egypt by up to 72%. The study projects that economic losses to agriculture would reach $51 billion. The gross domestic product loss would push unemployment to 24%, displacing people and disrupting economies. https://news.usc.edu/188414/nile-river-water-dispute-filling-dam-egypt-ethiopia-usc-study/  (13 July 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 07 Feb. 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 31 Jan. 2022  

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

2 thoughts on “DRP NB 14 Feb 2022: Wake up call: Chairman of Supreme Court HPC Chopra Resigns

  1. sandrp,

    As always your weekly posts are very informative and appreciate the hardwork for sharing.

    One request i have is if possible can you make the hyperlinks provided in the article to be opened in a new page if clicked rather than in the same page.

    Thanks
    Prasanth

    Like

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