14th March is celebrated as International Day of Action for Rivers since 1997 after the resolution at the 1st International meeting of People Affected by Dams in Curitiba, Brazil. At this meeting of Dam affected people from 20 countries (including India) it was decided to celebrate this day as the International Day of Action Against Dams and For Rivers, Water and Life. It is thrilling to see the celebration continuing and spreading on 25th anniversary of that meeting. The focus this years is on Rivers for Biodiversity. To illustrate how the celebration of this day has spread, in 2021, even during pandemic, the day was celebrated with over 120 events in 32 countries. For details, see: https://www.internationalrivers.org/take-action/international-day-of-action-for-rivers/.
SANDRP Blog International Day of Actions for Rivers 2022: Resistance against Destructive Hydro March 14 marks 25th anniversary of International Day of Actions for Rivers, a unique campaign dedicated to indigenous communities striving to protect and preserve their rivers from a whole range of destructive anthropogenic activities. The Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs) are among key threats affecting rivers eco-system and riverine communities greatly, in multiple ways.
The resistance against destructive, unviable HEPs growing stronger in India. Over the past one year there has been several protests against hydro projects across the country particularly in Himalayan states. On the occasion of International Day of Actions for rivers celebrating people’s resistance, SANDRP has compiled top ten stories of such community led opposition during the year, along with relevant additional stories. https://sandrp.in/2022/03/13/international-day-of-actions-for-rivers-2022-resistance-against-destructive-hydro/ (13 March 2022)
Statement on this year’s International Day of Action for Rivers by the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), a global network of Indigenous Peoples rights activists, advocates, and organizations committed to advancing the rights of indigenous peoples to self determination, land and life: https://www.counterview.in/2022/03/destructive-hydro-power-projects-mining.html (14 March 2022)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
Uttarakhand Raini: Forgotten victims of Chamoli disaster Dave Petley on the situation in Raini village after the one year anniversary of the Chamoli disaster that originated in the upstream of the village and how the village is facing unstable slopes in the aftermath. The 2022 monsoon could create more problems. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2022/03/08/raini-1/ (08 March 2022)
चमोली आपदा पर किए गए शोध को मिला अंतरराष्ट्रीय सम्मान पिछले वर्ष चमोली जिले में आई आपदा पर किया गया एक शोध ‘ए मैसिव रॉक एंड आइस एवलांच कॉज्ड द 2021 डिजास्टर एट चमोली, इंडियन हिमालय विख्यात जर्नल ‘साइंस’ में प्रकाशित हुआ है, और इसे ‘अमेरिकन एसोसिएशन ऑफ जियोेग्रैफर्स’ के ‘जियोमोरफोलॉजी स्पेशलिटी ग्रुप’ की ओर से विश्वप्रसिद्ध ‘2022 ग्रोव कार्ल गिल्बर्ट अवॉर्ड’ से सम्मानित किया गया है। इस शोध का हिस्सा रहीं नैनीताल निवासी पत्रकार और जल नीति विशेषज्ञ कविता उपाध्याय ने बताया कि इस घटना से चिंतित अमेरिका, ब्रिटेन, भारत, कनाडा और कई अन्य देशों के कुल 53 वैज्ञानिकों और विशेषज्ञों ने चमोली में आई बाढ़ और उससे हुई क्षतियों पर स्वैच्छिक तौर पर यह शोध किया। https://www.hindusthansamachar.in/Encyc/2022/3/9/Chamoli-Aapda-par-shodh-ko-International-award.php (09 March 2022)
Fear over dangerous dams Bharat Dogra: The fragile ecology of the Himalayan region has been increasingly devastated by dams, heavy infrastructure projects and climate breakdown. https://theecologist.org/2022/mar/11/fear-over-indias-dangerous-dams (11 March 2022)
Himachal Pradesh 1st multipurpose RWH dam??? The dam has been constructed by the jal shakti vibhag at Samoor Khad near Samoor village in Una district. Built at a cost of ₹16.38 crore, the dam can store the rainwater in a massive reservoir collected from the catchment area of 10 sq km and will ensure water supply to a population of 5,580 living in water-deficient areas during dry seasons, rural development minister Virender Kanwar said on Sunday (Mach 06). CM Jai Ram Thakur will inaugurate the dam later this month, he added. The dam built on Samoor Khad is able to store up to 767 million litre of water to increase the groundwater level in geographically difficult areas, said Kanwar.
The water from the dam is sufficient to irrigate 233 hectares and combat weather vagaries of the surrounding nine villages for the entire year which will directly benefit 1,088 families living in the area to face an onslaught of incremental heat and eventual drought. Around 44 hand pumps and 31 wells that almost dry up during drought season in the areas will also be recharged through this dam during irrigation activities. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/himachal-gets-its-first-multipurpose-rainwater-harvesting-dam-in-una-101646596680240.html (07 March 2022)
JSW’s 240 MW Kutehar HEP in HP has signed a PPA with Haryana Power Purchase Centre. The agreement, valid for 35 years is to supply power at levelised tariff of Rs 4.5 per unit. The 3X80 MW project is currently under construction in Chamba dist of HP. It is expected to be commissioned in Sept 2024. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/jsw-energy-signs-ppa-with-haryana-power-purchase-centre-to-supply-240-megawatt-hydro-power/90045505 (07 March 2022)
Meghalaya Ensuring Umngot Remains Crystal Clear Shnongpdeng, Darrang and Dawki are the three villages on the banks of the river in the West Jañtia hills. Like the idealistic Lucy who lives in solitude all by herself in William Wordsworth’s poem, the river Umngot too flows in isolation. Umngot flows through the untrodden paths where only few dare to tread and that is one reason why the river remains crystal clear all through its course. In fact, it is not just Umngot that is free from pollution; the river remains clean because its tributaries are also clean. The tributaries which flow from both the East Khasi and West Jañtia hills do not bring any human waste to the river and that makes the river clean throughout. How can the river be kept clean in future too? https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/03/14/ensuring-umngot-remains-crystal-clear/ (14 March 2022)
MoEF Minutes of EAC on River Valley Committee meeting held on Feb 22, 2022, decision about the only agenda item: Teesta Low Dam – I & II (Combined) HEP 71 MW (2×30+1x11MW) in 170 ha by W Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd in Triveni town, Tehsil Rangli Rangliot, Dist Darjeeling, W Bengal – TOR: Site Visit by EAC Committee http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/1403202295245805DraftMoM24thEACRVHEPheldon22-2-2022.pdf
Agenda for the EAC on River Valley Committee meeting held on March 14, 2022:
1. Lower Orr Dam project under Ken-Betwa Link Project Phase II (90000 CCA) in 3007.2 ha at Village Didoni, Tehsil Chanderi, Dist Ashoknagar, Madhya Pradesh by National Water Development Agency – Env Clearance
2. Phata byung HEP (76MW) in 22.72 ha at Village – Byung, Tehsil & Dist – Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand by Lanco Mandakini Hydro Energy Pvt Ltd – Extension of Validity of Env Clearance
3. Conventional barrage across the River Tapi in 36.03 ha. at Tehsil – Surat City, Dist – Surat, Gujarat by Surat Municipal Corp – Terms of Reference
4. Kurha Vadhoda Islampur Lift Irrigation Scheme UPSA Sinchan Yojna with CCA 32372 Ha at Village Rigaon, Tehsil-Muktainagar Dist. Jalgaon, Maharashtra by Tapi Irrigation Development Corp Jalgaon – Terms of Reference http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/0903202226277029FinalAgenda-RiverValley_25thEAC.pdf
Tamil Nadu Dam Safety Act does not encroach upon power of States, Centre asserts before HC The Dam Safety Act of 2021 enacted by the Parliament does not, in any way, encroach upon the power of the States and does not contain any provision to alter dam ownership, water sharing agreements or the operation and maintenance of the dams by the State governments, the Centre has told Madras High Court. The submission has been made in a counter affidavit, filed in response to a writ petition preferred by DMK MP S. Ramalingam, through senior counsel P. Wilson, challenging the constitutional validity of the Act on the grounds that it goes against federalism and is beyond the legislative competence of the Centre.
– Denying the charge that the law was hit by the doctrine of colourable exercise of power, the Centre said all States would benefit out of the legislation and that it creates a neutral body to ensure safety of dams, which extend between two or more States and that it would help ensure mutual trust. “The apprehension of the petitioner that through the said Act, the domain of the State has been intruded into and tinkered with are incorrect and unfounded. The said enactment is in the larger public interest and the States would also benefit out of the provisions,” the Ministry said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dam-safety-act-does-not-encroach-upon-power-of-states-centre-asserts-before-madras-hc/article65211949.ece (10 March 2022)
Kerala HC to govt: Monitor outflow from dams A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has directed the state government and Kerala Dam Safety Authority to take all possible remedial measures for managing reservoir outflow in the state during extreme rainfall and monitor it regularly.
The court passed the directive while disposing of a petition filed by Muhammed Afiffi of North Paravur and one of the victims of the 2018 floods. According to C Ajith Kumar, counsel for the petitioners, the failure of the government, irrigation department and the KSEB in releasing water from reservoirs without conducting a proper study and the impact of opening of dam shutters without following the norms of Central Water Commission had resulted in the 2018 floods, causing threat to the lives of citizens and damage to property.
The KSEB had denied allegations that it did not take steps to bring down the level of water in dams and that was with the sole intention of reaping maximum profit by generating more power. The KSEB also denied the charge that it failed to open dam shutters in time Scientific flood mapping of rivers was not the responsibility of the Board, but of the Central Water Commission. As an operating agency, the Board had published an emergency action plan in respect of dams operated by it, the KSEB said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2022/mar/13/kerala-hc-to-govt-monitor-outflowfrom-dams-2429503.html (13 March 2022)
Mekedatu Dam Faulty ground The stretch of the Cauvery where Karnataka plans to build the Mekedatu dam lies along a fault plane and in a geologically unstable region https://www.magzter.com/stories/Science/Down-To-Earth/FAULTY-GROUND (01 March 2022)
Mekedatu project will create a disaster, says ecologist “The Mekedatu will create a disaster,” said T V Ramachandra, a professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science at a Bengaluru 2040 panel discussion about protecting and restoring the biodiversity of Bengaluru. “The project will submerge 5,000 hectares of forest. Instead, we should look at local solutions like rainwater harvesting.” The forests in the area have a catchment capacity of 100 TMC, replacing that with a dam that has a storage capacity of 65-67 TMC is a myopic decision, he said.
This lack of consultation is nothing new. According to Leo Saldanha, coordinator of the Environmental Support Group, there is a trend towards centralisation. “Is it not a paradox that our leaders are elected for the state but they are focused on the development of one city?” he asked. The Cauvery has been exhausted, and instead of focusing on local systems of water management, the focus is on large-scale projects. “The rajkaluves (stormwater drains) have been encroached upon and we have not followed the recommendations by the Justice N K Patil committee to protect lakes,” he said. “Endemic vegetation can be planted along the drains so natural filtration happens. The need is for low-cost solutions.” https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/mekedatu-project-will-create-a-disaster-says-ecologist-1090325.html (11 March 2022)
Several organisations led by Indian water conservationist and film actor Chetan Kumar Wednesday (March 09) raised objections against the Karnataka government’s move to build the Mekedatu reservoir. In a press meet, Chetan said that the Mekedatu project is not in the interest of the public or environment but “only for political and economic gains of vested interests”. “This project is nothing but political propaganda but it is going to cost the citizens as it will not only displace many poor people but also will cause harm to the environment,” said Chetan. The press meet came after the BJP-led Karnataka government allocated Rs 1,000 crore for the Mekedatu project during the Budget. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/water-conservationist-actor-oppose-mekedatu-project-say-it-will-harm-environment-7813923/ (10 March 2022)
Union Jal Shakti Minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s statement to facilitate talks between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the Mekedatu dam, has led to a war of words among the BJP, Congress and the JD(S) in Karnataka. The BJP, which announced Rs 1,000 crore for the project, has not only suffered a setback but has come under attack by the opposition parties. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=934356 (07 March 2022)
Tamil Nadu Water Resources Minister S. Duraimurugan has said that Tamil Nadu will not allow construction of a dam at Mekedatu by Karnataka. In a statement on Tuesday (March 09), the senior DMK leader said that the construction of a dam at Mekedatu would lead to stoppage of Cauvery water flow to Tamil Nadu. https://www.business-standard.com/article/politics/tamil-nadu-won-t-allow-karnataka-to-construct-dam-at-mekedatu-minister-122030900263_1.html (09 Feb. 2022)
Sardar Sarovar Project Addressing a press conference with Congress MP Digvijaya Singh at the latter’s residence here, Patkar demanded that the report of the Justice Sharavan Shankar Jha commission be discussed in the Legislative Assembly and action taken against the guilty. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/hc-appointed-commission-found-1-589-fake-land-registries-in-sardar-sarovar-dam-rehabilitation-process-patkar-news-185702 (07 March 2022)
अमेरिका ने एक हजार बांध तोड़कर नदियों को किया स्वतंत्र भोपाल स्कूल ऑफ सोशल साइंसेस के सभागार में रविवार को नर्मदा संरक्षण न्यास ने नर्मदा पर्यावरण आस्था और अस्तित्व विषय पर परिचर्चा का आयोजन किया है। इस दौरान पाटेकर ने नर्मदा नदी से अन्य शहरों पर किये जा रहे पानी सप्लाई करने की योजनाओं पर सवाल खड़े किए और इसे रोकने की अपील की और कहा कि नदी के विकास के नाम पर जब हम नदी को तोड़ते और जोड़ते हैं तो अमेरिका ही हमको पहला संदेश देने वाला देश था। आज अमेरिका ने एक हजार बांध तोड़कर नदियों को स्वतंत्र कर दिया है।
पाटेकर ने कहा कि रेत में करोड़ों का व्यवहार चल रहा है। एक कार्पोरेशन जिसका नाम शिवा है पूरा कंट्रोल कर रहा है। एक और घोषणा होती है कि रेत खनन हम नहीं करने देंगे। दूसरी ओर जिस तरह से खनन किया जा रहा है उससे उप नदियां खत्म होने के कगार पर पहुंच जाएगी और नर्मदा का भी खत्म होना शुरू हो चुका है। उन्होंने कहा अनकंट्रोल खनन विशानकारी भी है। हम लोग जान भी दें तो भी खनन करने वाले नहीं रुकेंगे। सबको मालूम है कि सीहोर में सबसे ज्यादा रेत खनन चल रहा है। जहां भी नर्मदा का अंश है। लेकिन यह कैसे हो रहा है। एनजीटी ने सभी चीफ सेक्रेटरी को कई आदेश दिए हैं कि बिना मंजूरी के नदि किनारे रेत खनन नहीं होना चाहिए। इसके बाद भी खनन हो रहा है। https://m-hindi.indiawaterportal.org/content/americabrokethousandofdamstofreerivers/content-type-page/1319336351 (11 March 2022)
BBMB Farmer groups in Punjab are protesting the changes brought by the centre in BBMB. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/bbmb-dam-safety-law-in-punjab-new-challenges-await-new-govt/articleshow/90039758.cms (07 March 2022)
INTERLINKING OF RIVERS
Opinion History of Interlinking Rivers by Major General S.G.Vombatkere, VSM The ILR project is an egregious combination of inexplicable judicial haste, motivated executive hubris, and inexcusable apathy of unquestioning legislatures. It is an unmitigated mockery of established planning processes, and of the checks and balances of constitutional governance, by successive governments. It is a precise, unrivalled example of how a national project should not be planned. ILR is an ill-conceived, ruinously expensive, technically questionable, ecologically devastating and socially disruptive, national project.
The hand of the politician-bureaucrat-corporate-contractor nexus in promoting ILR across successive governments since 2002, is plain as daylight. There is eminent possibility of ILR accelerating the on-going social, environmental, economic and political downturn. The Government needs to scrap the ILR concept and project permanently, and instead invest in intra-basin watershed management for realistic people’s development. Central and State governments need to enforce water conservation by a combination of suitable, region-specific, tried and tested methods, and review agricultural and industrial water-use policy. https://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/13/21452/The-History-of-Interlinking-Rivers- (08 Feb. 2022)
Andhra Pradesh Rs 11,482.37 cr for water resources The government has earmarked Rs 11,482.37 crore for the development of water resources in the Budget tabled in the Assembly on Friday (March 11). The allocation, however, was less than Rs 13,237.70 crore set aside in the financial year 2021-22. As per the revised estimates for 2021-22, the government has spent only Rs 8,428.23 crore on irrigation and now the question is how much will it spend in 2022-23.
Presenting the budget, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy said the Polavaram Irrigation Project is progressing as per schedule and is expected to be completed by 2023. The work of constructing R&R colonies is also going on simultaneously at a brisk pace for the rehabilitation of Project Displaced Families (PDFs). With the assurance of timely release of funds for expeditious completion of the national project from Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shakawat, the state government is confident of completing the project at the earliest.
“Vamsadhara Project Phase-II of Stage-II and interlinking of Vamsadhara-Nagavali are scheduled for completion by June, 2022 to provide better irrigation facilities in Srikakulam. Owk Tunnel-II is scheduled to be completed by August 2022 to carry additional 10,000 cusecs of water to Gandikota dam,” he explained.
Irrigation projects in north coastal districts have been allocated Rs 489.37 crores, those in Ongole Rs 1,094.39 crore, irrigation projects in Anantapur including HNSS Rs 338.67 crore and projects in Kurnool Rs 345.93 crore. An amount of Rs 76.79 crore has been allocated for the modernisation of Godavari Delta System and Rs 599.58 crore for completing projects including Chintalapudi Lift Irrigation Scheme in Krishna Delta. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/mar/12/rs-1148237-crore-for-water-resources-major-share-for-polavaram-project-2429211.html (12 March 2022)
Bihar Irrigation potential on 779,000 ha under water to every farm scheme: Minister Giving the government’s reply on the budgetary demand of ₹4,692.98 crore after two-hour debate, Jha said the statewide technical survey had been completed between January 18-July 29, 2021 and schemes identified for augmenting irrigation potential and ensuring water to every farm in the next four years. The budget was passed with voice vote after Opposition walked out at the fag end.
“The CM has been keen on rejuvenating lost water bodies and ensuring optimal use of surplus water in rivers during floods by diverting them to parched areas as part of the water to every farm initiative. It involves restoring the traditional ‘ahaar-paen’, interlinking of rivers, construction of reservoirs and pipelines and a lot more. Work has already commenced on several projects and schemes. Budgetary provision for schemes has already been made in the 2022-23 budget,” he said, adding the target is to create additional irrigation potential of 143,163 hectares in 2022-23 and restore lost irrigation potential on 211,000 hectares.
The minister said his department was working on rejuvenation of dried-up rivers and intra-linking of small rivers, a new concept given by Bihar in place of inter-linking of rivers, which will not only help in flood mitigation, but also create irrigation potential. “It was due to Bihar’s efforts that the National Water Development Authority (NWDA) has now been entrusted to work on intra-linking of rivers also. Bihar’s Bagmati-Ganga link, Budhi Gandak Noon via Ganga link and Bagmati-Budhi Gamdak link schemes are under the consideration of the central agency,” he said.
The minister said that that at present the state government is working with its own resources on intra-linking of small rivers of Bagmati, Kamla and Kosi Basin in north Bihar and Punpun, Keul-Harohar basin and smaller rivers in south Bihar. “Belwa Dhar scheme in Sitamarhi involving transfer of surplus Bagmati water to Budhi Gandak has already shown a lot of potential. It is the first state intra-linking project and set to be completed this year. The Kosi-Mechi river link project is also moving forward after getting all clearances from the Centre. It has been included in the national project, which will ensure 60% funding from the Centre. However, we want it to be Centre-State sharing on 90:10 basis and we have written in this regard, citing Ken-Betwa project. The project cost was estimated at ₹4900 crore in 2016 and would go further up. It will be a game changer for four Seemanchal districts of Purnia, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria,” he said.
Jha said that the rubber dam project on the Falgu river, inaugurated by the CM on September 22, 2020, is heading towards completion and once completed, it would ensure round-the-year water availability near the famous Vishnupad temple, which draws lakhs of devotees every year. “The government wants to complete it before Pitripaksh Mela and it should be achieved by August 2022, though the scheduled deadline was October 2023. The ‘Ganga Jal Apoorti Yojana’ under the ambitious ‘Jal-Jeevan-Hadiyali’ initiative for environmental protection is set to be completed by June this year despite its extension to include Nawada with Gaya, Bodh Gaya and Rajgir, ” he said.
Listing other major initiatives, Jha said the western Kosi canal project would create additional irrigation potential of 265,000 hectares in Darbhanga and Madhubani and it is being expanded. “The work on the ₹405-crore barrage in Jaynagar has also started and is likely to be completed next year. The work on the strengthening of left and right embankment of Kamla Balan is also on. It will save a large area of Mithila from the scourge of flood and create irrigation potential,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/bihar-eyes-irrigation-potential-on-779-000-hectares-under-water-to-every-farm-scheme-minister-101646843981034.html (09 March 2022)
Chhattisgarh Major boost for water resources dept projects An amount of Rs. 47.49 crore has been approved by the Water Resources Department to increase the irrigation facilities in Raipur, Bilaspur and Korba districts, under Mahanadi, Godavari and Cachar project.The main canal of the Dhamdha development block, Amner Motinala canal in Durg district, will be expanded from 9.90 km to 24.75 km, while other minor canals will be remodeled for which administrative approval of Rs 8.14 crore has been given. An additional 1,741 hectares of land for irrigation will be made possible in this project.
Similarly, Patan’s Bhilai distributary and its five other minor canals falling under Durg district will undergo remodeling and relining for which an administrative approval of 13.61 crores has been issued. With this, the farmers will receive irrigation facilities in an additional 1,216 hectares of land. An approval of Rs 6.22 crores has been sanctioned for the Chirra diversion project. Irrigation will be made possible in a total of 270 hectares of land where 190 hectares Kharif and 80 hectares Rabi will be done.
Besides, under the Podi-Uproda development block an amount of Rs 3.95 crores has been approved for the Nagoi (Kotri) diversion project of Korba. Under this project, irrigation facilities to 145 hectares will be provided to Kharif land. Under the Mahanadi project of the Water Resources Department, an amount of Rs 5.57 crores has been validated for the repair of the Turi diversion scheme of Narharpur development block of Kanker district. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/major-boost-for-water-resources-dept-projects/articleshow/90177406.cms (13 March 2022)
Vishwamitri; Vadodara विश्वामित्री के साथ VMC का ‘पाप‘? वडोदरा की विश्वामित्री नदी में दुर्दशा पर सिविल सोसाइटी ने लोगों ने जताई चिंता। वडोदरा नगर निगम की कार्यशैली पर उठाए सवाल। स्मार्टसिटी का दवा करने वाली VMC सीवेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट संचालित करने में फेल। आरोप खुले में शौच मना है लेकिन वडोदरा का सीवेज विश्वामित्री में जा रहा। GPCB की रिपोर्ट की नवंबर, 2021 में खुलासा, 9 में से नहीं काम कर रहे 7 STP। सामाजिक कार्यकताओं का आरोप, NGT और SC के अनुसार नदी को पुनर्जीवित करना तो दूर, STP नहीं चल रहे। https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACAKs4Vl8fk (06 March 2022)
A graphic perspective on the Rights of Rivers One of the main objectives of RoRSA is to create awareness (as part of advocacy and education) about the emerging framework of Rights of Nature and the case for Rights of Rivers and the people who depend on them. While we are aware that the framework of Rights for Nature, in this case Rights of River is a legal tool which is trying to make way in the anthropocentric environmental laws of the 20th Century, we believe that through the medium of art, we will be able to engage more people and bring them along with us in our work to achieve the Rights of Rivers. https://www.rorsa.org/post/a-graphic-perspective-on-the-rights-of-rivers (16 Dec. 2021)
CAUVERY Karnataka Paani Unravel what is behind the waters Nirmala Gowda has co-founded Paani.Earth with two of colleagues – Nidhi Paliwal and Madhuri Mandava. It is a citizen river research organization (in Bengaluru, South India) whose mission is: ‘To empower citizens with data, information and
analysis that can save rivers’. The focus is rivers of Cauvery Basin, starting with Arkavathi river, that flows past Bengaluru- India’s silicon valley. On March 18th they will be releasing the Arkavathi River Basin Map. This map is a culmination of 8 months of effort. We put it together to tell the story of Arkavathi River. http://paani.earth/
BRAHMAPUTRA Assam Cabinet approves river basin management project, eases agro-forestry rules The Assam Cabinet has approved the phase I of World Bank-aided Assam Integrated River Basin Management Project. The project, worth US $ 83 million, involves work on integrated water management and flood/river erosion-related works at Burhidehing and Beki river basins. Along with this, the state cabinet has eased the agroforestry norms, and it will no longer be necessary to seek permission from the forest department when cutting trees of several species in non-forest areas such as private land or agricultural fields. Additionally, the state has sanctioned Rs 158.4 crore for Disaster Risk Mitigation, which includes setting up 100 climate resilient villages and approximately 50 multipurpose flood shelters. The Water Resources Department will also be restructured to improve administrative efficiency. https://theprint.in/india/assam-cabinet-approves-river-basin-management-project-eases-agro-forestry-rules/839997/ (20 Feb. 2022)
Water Level To Increase By 2050 According to the IPCC, the river run-off in the Brahmaputra is projected to increase by 16% under the climate change scenarios by the end of the century. The changes in the water level in these scenarios are larger in the wet season than in the dry period. In addition, the areas of the Ganga-Brahmaputra region also face the high frequencies of flood-related events. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/assam-news/water-level-in-brahmaputra-river-to-increase-by-2050-new-ipcc-report-claims-582104 (10 March 2022)
Odisha Kharasrota river stuck in tussle Kharasrota river stuck in tussle between protecting ecology and providing drinking water.
– Protests over a drinking water project on the Kharasrota river in Odisha, proposed in 2019, continue with allegations of its threat to local ecology and agriculture.
– While the project is meant to meet the drinking water needs to water scarce Bhadrak district, it is located in Kendrapara district where the residents worry that the project will impact the farmers and biodiversity of Bhitarkanika National Park, a notified Ramsar wetland. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/03/odishas-kharasrota-river-stuck-in-tussle-between-protecting-ecology-and-providing-drinking-water/ (09 March 2022)
Jammu & Kashmir NGT slashes Rs 3 cr penalty on Govt NGT has slashed a penalty of Rs 3 crore on the erring officers of the J&K government and polluters for not taking steps to control pollution and illegal mining in Doodh Ganga and Mamath Kul in Budgam. The petition ‘Raja Muzaffar Bhat versus the Government of J&K’ was listed before the Principal Bench of NGT on Tuesday (March 8).
The NGT order said that the State be held liable to pay an interim compensation of Rs 1 crore each under all the three heads (solid waste, liquid waste, and Illegal mining) which is to be deposited in a separate account of Deputy Commissioner Budgam to be utilised for the restoration of the environment. The bench headed by Justice A K Goel said, “The violations found include dumping of waste on the banks of the river, discharge of untreated sewage into the river, unregulated illegal mining activities, and failure to protect the embankments of the river.”
The NGT order reads: “Once such serious violations have been found by the State authorities, failure to take stringent action shows apathy to the obligation of the State under the constitution, particularly the Public Trust Doctrine of ensuring clean environment by protecting rivers and other natural assets. The attitude of indefinitely waiting for funds from outside agencies is not merely ignorance of the law but the failure of responsibility. The environment being part of Right to Life under the constitution, such pleas are legally untenable and impermissible. It is for the State to arrange resources for its inalienable and basic responsibility. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/kashmir-todays-paper/doodh-ganga-pollution-illegal-mining-ngt-slashes-rs-3-crore-penalty-on-govt (10 March 2022)
The tribunal directed the Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary to take immediate action to remedy the situation and take coercive measures against the erring irresponsible officers for acting in contempt of directions of the Supreme Court and NGT, and causing harm to the environment and public health.
The NGT said the amount recovered may be utilised for restoration of environment. “It is for the state authorities to decide as to which measures are appropriate so as to prevent pollution of the river and prevent other violations of environmental norms and what is the source of funding,” the NGT said in an order on Tuesday while hearing an application moved by activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat.
The principal bench of the tribunal said it found that neither dumping of solid waste, discharge of untreated sewage, and illegal mining were prevented nor legacy waste cleared for which statutory timelines have already expired. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/environmental-violations-pay-1-crore-as-interim-relief-ngt-tells-j-k-admn-101646848179713.html (09 March 2022)
Maharashtra NGT seeks report on Kham River pollution Taking cognisance of a recent news report on pollution in Aurangabad’s Kham river, the NGT has directed Chief Secretary, Maharashtra to convene a meeting of officials concerned and sought action taken report on the issue of discharging untreated sewage to the river. A principal bench of NGT headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has taken up the matter regarding the pollution in the river which is affecting the farmers who have to use the polluted water for irrigation. There is indiscriminate encroachment and dumping of solid waste which has reduced the seasonal river to the flow of garbage, as per the media report.
Noting that restoration of the river by preventing discharge of untreated sewage and dumping of other waste and removing encroachments from the catchment area is a necessary step for restoration of the environment, the green court held that pollution of the river is a criminal offence under the provisions of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Apart from access to clean potable water being a fundamental right of Article 21 of the Constitution, there are also other constitutional provisions requiring local bodies and District Administration to adopt measures for maintaining a clean environment, the NGT said in the order passed on Monday (Feb. 28).
The report shows the failure of the administration in the discharge of their obligations under the Constitution as well as under the orders of the Supreme Court and the Tribunal, it stated. Accordingly, the NGT sought the response of the state authorities. “If there is already an action plan prepared by the RRC Maharashtra in respect of the river in question, the same be executed accordingly. If no such plan has been prepared, the same must be now prepared within one month with appropriate timelines and budgetary support, in terms of the judgment of the Supreme Court, ” the order said. Further hearing has been listed for July 13. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=932104 (01 March 2022)
Rajasthan प्रदेश की नदियों में पानी नहीं बह रहा है जहर बांडी नदी: -पाली स्थित इस नदी के किनारे पर ही कपड़े की इकाइयां संचालित है। कुछ साल पूर्व तक इकाइयों का प्रदूषित पानी नदी में हो छोड़ा जाता था। कहने को तो एनजीटी की फटकार के बाद अब पानी नदी में नहीं बहाया जा रहा। लेकिन चोरी छिपे यह जारी है। नदी में प्लांटेशन समेत कई प्लान बने थे, लेकिन कोई काम नहीं हुआ।
जोजरी नदी:- जोधपुर स्थित इस नदी में शहर के कई इलाकों का गंदा पानी व औद्योगिक इकाइयों का रसायनयुक्त पानी गिरता है। कई किसान इसी पानी से सब्जियां व फसल उगा रहे हैं। सीवरेज पानी को उपचारित करने के लिए प्रस्तावित कई एसटीपी कागजों से बाहर नहीं निकले हैं। करीब 20 करोड़ खर्च कर जोजरी से स्लज निकाला गया था। हालात वैसे ही है। जोजरी रिवर फ्रंट की डीपीआर बनी है, जिस पर दो करोड़ व्यय हुए। मुख्यमंत्री की बजट घोषणा में जोजरी रिवर फ्रंट शामिल है।
चंबल नदी:- कोटा की इस सदानीरा इस नदी की पानी प्रदूषण से काला हो रहा है। गत वर्ष यहां लाखों की संख्या में मछलियां मर गई थी। हालत सुधारने के नाम पिछले सालों में करोड़ों रुपए खर्च हो चुके हैं। वर्ष 2009 में 150 करोड़ तो अब नेशनल मिशन फॉर क्लीन गंगा योजना के तहत फिर 258.48 करोड़ रुपए स्वीकृत हुए हैं।
बनास नदी:- किसानों की जीवनदायिनी इस नदी में प्रोसेस हाउस का काला पानी व एसिड बहाया जा रहा है। इससे आसपास के खेत खलियान उजड़ गए हैं। धीरे धीरे प्रदूषित जल का फैलाव बीसलपुर बांध और कोठारी नदी में भी होने लग गया है। सुधार की योजनाएं कागजों में दम तोड़ रही है।
लूणी नदी:- बाड़मेर की इस नदी में औद्योगिक इकाइयों का केमिकलयुक्त पानी मिल रहा है। कुछ वर्ष तक बालोतरा व आसपास की टैक्सटाइल इकाइयां पूरी तरह बंद करवा दी गई थी, लेकिन नतीजा कुछ नहीं निकला। बिना उपचारित प्रदूषित पानी मरूगंगा को मैली कर रहा है। https://www.patrika.com/pali-news/poison-is-flowing-in-the-rivers-of-rajasthan-10101-7189263/ (24 Nov. 2021)
Haryana Ghaggar: Choked by Sewage and Industrial Effluents https://earth5r.org/ghaggar-river-choked-sewage-industrial-effluents/ (08 July 2020)
हिमाचल के सिरमौर से घग्गर नदी साफ और स्वच्छ जल लेकर निकलती है, लेकिन जैसे ही वह हरियाणा में प्रवेश करती है तो उसके पानी का रंग बदलने लगता है। पंचकूला में कुछ ठीक रहता है, लेकिन इसके बाद से जैसे-जैसे नदी आगे बढ़ती है तो पानी काला होता चला जाता है। इसका कारण है नदी में फ्लो बनाने के नाम पर छोड़ा जा रहा ड्रेनों का दूषित पानी। जैसे जैसे ड्रेनें घग्गर नदी में मिलती जाती हैं, वैसे वैसे ही घग्गर का पानी खराब होता चला जाता है और यह न तो नहाने के लायक रहता है और न ही पीने के। https://www.amarujala.com/chandigarh/ghaggar-river-has-become-polluted-in-haryana (25 Feb. 2021)
GANGA Uttarakhand ‘Glaciers retreat, may cause water shortage in Ganga’ In the first detailed “inventory of glaciers” at the Alaknanda river basin, which contributes the maximum water to river Ganga, scientists from IISc and IITs discovered a reduction of 59 sq km in the glacier area over a period of almost 50 years, between 1968 and 2020. This meant that 8% of the total area of glaciers decreased. This study of the river basin, which took over two years to complete, was published in the Geocarto Journal by Taylor & Francis. The average retreat rate of glaciers in the basin was 11.75 m per year.
– The study was authored by Remya S N and Anil V Kulkarni, scientists from the Divecha Centre for Climate Change, IISc in Bengaluru; Tajdarul Hassan Syed, associate professor, Department of Earth Sciences, IIT Kanpur; and R Anand from the Department of Applied Geology, IIT Dhanbad. It was done on the basis of field visits and satellite data provided by the United States Geological Survey.
– “They are melting faster and forming new water bodies such as lakes near the glacier. If the glaciers melt faster in the future, these water bodies will get added water and may overflow, causing destruction,” Remya said. Apart from the reduction in the glacier area, the Alaknanda basin also witnessed an increase in the formation of debris cover, which is another factor reducing water flow in the river Ganga. “The increase in debris happened due to non-climatic parameters. Results revealed that the total debris of the Alaknanda basin increased by 38% between 2000 and 2020. The glaciers with less debris-covered areas and steep slopes showed a higher retreat than those with a high debris-cover and a gentle slope,” said Syed, another author of the study. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/glaciers-retreat-may-cause-water-shortage-in-ganga/articleshow/90039727.cms (07 March 2022)
Glacier slides down, hits connectivity A glacier slid down in the Darma Valley of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district and covered nearly 800 feet stretch of the road on Wednesday, snapping the road connectivity to villages and defence posts located near the Indo-China border, officials said on March 9, 2022. Such sliding down of ice has happened in the past, but this is the first time that the road has been blocked. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/uttarakhand-glacier-slides-down-hits-connectivity-101646852800125.html (10 March 2022)
Emmanuel Theophilus on FB post comment This is not a glacier at all. Just avalanche debris. The article is misleading. The road has recently been constructed to the alpine villages of Darma. Every winter the road that crosses gullies is blocked at various points during winter.
SC names AK Sikri as chairman of Char Dham panel A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant on Feb. 11 accepted Chopra’s resignation and appointed Justice (retd) Sikri as the chairperson following a recommendation from the Centre. Attorney General KK Venugopal, Centre’s counsel, said since Justice (retd) Sikri was already appointed by this court as chairperson of the oversight committee to look after environmental concerns and other issues related to the Char Dham project, it would be better if he is appointed as the chairperson. After his resignation was accepted, Chopra said careful implementation of the road project in the ecologically-fragile Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone stretch will be a critical task for the panel. Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone is on one of the feeder routes of the Char Dham pariyojana. It stretches from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi, covering an area of 4179.59 sqkm. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/supreme-court-names-ak-sikri-as-chairman-of-char-dham-panel-101647024667785-amp.html (12 March 2022)
Uttar Pradesh Dead bodies of cattle found floating in River Bodies of dead cattle were seen floating near the confluence of river Kali and river Ganga with stray dogs and crows scavenging on them, a government official said on Saturday (Feb. 05). District Magistrate of Kannauj Rakesh Kumar Mishra cited a report from the Chief Veterinary Officer to say 37 dead cattle were found floating at the confluence on Friday. Of them, 20 were buffaloes and the rest were cows, he said.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Sada) Umakant Tiwari said no cattle had died in the district as per the information obtained from the villagers and the cow sheds. He said the possibility of the bodies coming from neighbouring district cannot be ruled out. The SDM said that the bodies of the cattle were taken out from the river and were buried in pits using JCBs. Mr. Tiwari said a probe is on to know about the origin of the dead bodies. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/dead-bodies-of-cattle-found-floating-in-river-ganga-in-up-city/article38383265.ece (05 Feb. 2022)
Journey of plastic pollution in the Ganges The Ganges river network forms the second-largest plastic polluting catchment in the world and is among 14 continental rivers into which over a quarter of global waste is discarded. Some proposed solutions to dealing with the plastic discarded in the river include finding and adopting alternatives to plastic, and then addressing terrestrial sources and dumping grounds, before tackling marine litter. Further research can help identify the key sources and pathways of microplastic to better design intervention measures. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/03/message-in-a-plastic-bottle-ganges/ (10 March 2022)
YAMUNA Delhi Flock of Egyptian vultures choose Yamuna to roost A flock of 58 Egyptian vultures — an endangered species and a rare sight in the city — has been roosting at a sandy island in the mid-point of the river Yamuna near ITO. T K Roy, who has been monitoring the birds in this particular stretch between January and February as well as over the past, said that the number of these birds and their sub-species has been on a rise in the city.
According to the monitoring data, since 2015, the numbers have been on the rise. He added that these birds come to these sandy islands mainly during October and March for roosting, as these temporary islands are undisturbed and safe for them. “They find it safe, as there is no or little human intervention around this time. They move away from here once the water reduces and comes close to the sandbanks,” said Roy. They move away to other sites such as the Ghazipur landfill for nesting, he added. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2022/mar/07/flock-of-egyptian-vultures-choose-yamuna-to-roost-2427290.html (07 March 2022)
No dirty water into Yamuna by Dec-end: NMCG official National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) Director General G Asok Kumar said there are 18 drains that deliver dirty water into the Yamuna, and plans are afoot to tap these drains and divert the dirty water to STPs. “Now that the STPs are in place, we can divert the dirty water flowing into the river to these plants. The treated water which we get from the STPs can then be added to the river so that the flow of the river is also improved. So by December, no dirty water will be coming into the Yamuna river and its flow will also see improvement,” he told PTI. Kumar said once dirty water stops flowing into the river, the next step will be to set a minimum flow of water in the Yamuna to have uninterrupted flow, which will ensure its cleanliness. According to estimates made by the CPCB, Delhi generates 3,800 million litres of sewage per day. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/no-dirty-water-will-flow-into-yamuna-by-december-end-nmcg-official-101647152042305.html (13 March 2022)
7 plants to stop 248 mgd of sewage A DJB official said work for treating 238 MGD of sewage out of the targeted 248 MGD from the minor drains had been completed. The project would start functioning at full capacity by next month. Built at Rs 2,454 crore, Delhi government is implementing the project in six packages with seven STP. Waste water flowing in drains would be trapped and diverted to STPs for treatment. The plants would purify untreated waste water and generate gases to run themselves. The cost includes operation and maintenance for 10 years. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/7-plants-to-stop-248mgd-of-sewage-from-flowing-into-yamuna-every-day/articleshow/89551852.cms (14 Feb. 2022)
Domestic sewage to blame for 80% pollution Domestically generated sewage is the main reason for the Yamuna’s pollution and contributes to more than 80% of the total effluents being discharged into the river, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has said in reply to an RTI query. The RTI revealed that DPCC is currently monitoring the Yamuna’s quality in nine locations as well as 24 drains, including two coming from UP, that discharge effluents into the river on a monthly basis.
It also pointed out the DJB’s low sewage treatment capacity, and said over 200 million gallons of sewage reaches the river daily without being treated. “Delhi’s estimated sewage generation is 720 MGD. The responsibility of proper treatment and disposal of sewage lies with DJB. There are 34 operational sewage treatment plants and about 515 MGD is being treated through these,” the RTI reply said. DPCC also said in the RTI that there are 13 common effluent treatment (CET) plants catering to 28 industrial areas and 24 redevelopment areas. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/domestic-sewage-to-blame-for-80-of-river-pollution/articleshow/88960352.cms (18 Jan. 2022)
Haryana Barhi industrial zone samples fail laboratory test The samples collected from the storm water drain and CETP at the HSIIDC industrial zone at Barhi have failed the laboratory test. The parameters were found exceeding the prescribed limit. The members of the River Yamuna Monitoring Committee (RYMC), along with a team of the State Environment Surveillance Task Force (SESTF), had found violation of pollution norms at HSIIDC industrial zone at Barhi in Sonepat on January 4. Upon checking, the team found untreated industrial effluents being discharged directly into drain no. 6, which connects to the Yamuna at Wazirabad in Delhi.
Delhi-based environmentalist Varun Gulati had filed a complaint with the authorities of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), showing how the untreated effluents were being discharged by the industries in connivance with the local pollution board and HSIIDC officials into drain no. 6 through the storm water lines by bypassing the CETP at Barhi industrial zone.
“Around 700 industries are running here, of which, over 150 are dyeing units discharging their effluents daily. Around 1.6 crore litre water is discharged through the CETP daily, but the untreated effluents which were directly discharged through storm water lines were more than double of the treated discharge,” alleged Varun. In a letter to Principal Secretary, Industries, on January 14, the SPCB had recommended action against the erring officials of the HSIIDC for their alleged connivance with industrialists in the discharge of untreated industrial effluents from storm water lines. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/samples-from-barhi-industrial-zone-fail-laboratory-test-376486 (10 March 2022)
Madhya Pradesh रसायनयुक्त पानी बेतवा को कर रहा प्रदूषित बंगरसिया व चिकलोद के बीच बनी बीयर फैक्ट्री का रसायनयुक्त पानी बेतवा नदी को प्रदूषित कर रहा है। इससे नदी के जलीय जीव जंतुओं का अस्तित्व संकट में है और मानव जीवन पर भी प्रभाव होना संभव है। नदी किनारे के ग्रामीण फैक्ट्री से छोड़े जाने वाले रसायन युक्त जल की बदबू से परेशान हैं। गांव वालों ने समय- समय पर शिकायतें भी की हैं, https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/raisen-raisen-news-7382881 (13 March 2022)
Maharashtra Otters spotted in Kharghar creek Two smooth-coated otters were seen once again by a few locals at Kharghar creek, near sector 16, on Friday (March 04), creating a stir among nature lovers. Last year, two local bird watchers had seen otters near the creek. “We are happy and excited that the otters were again spotted at the creek. Last August, two otters were seen there. We urge the state government to protect and conserve the highly diverse marine biodiversity in our node,” said naturalist Nareshchandra Singh. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-otters-spotted-in-kharghar-creek/articleshow/90042252.cms (07 March 2022)
Madhya Pradesh महाशीर के लायक नहीं रह गया नर्मदा का पानी? रेत खनन ने नर्मदा नदी की इकोलॉजी को बुरी तरह प्रभावित किया है। इस वजह से नर्मदा नदी के जलीय जीवों की कई प्रजातियां विलुप्ति के कगार पर है। इसमें इस नदी की एक बड़ी मछली महाशीर भी शामिल है।
नदी पर अवैध रेत खनन रोकने के लिए हाइकोर्ट और नेशनल ग्रीन ट्रीब्यूनल, भोपाल के हस्तक्षेप के बाद भी धार और बड़वानी जैसे स्थानों पर नर्मदा नदी पर बड़े पैमाने में अवैध रेत खनन हो रहा है। रेत खनन की वजह से न सिर्फ मछलियों और पक्षियों पर असर हुआ है बल्कि इससे मछलीपालन पर निर्भर लोगों का रोजगार भी छिन रहा है। https://hindi.mongabay.com/2022/03/09/sand-mining-has-caused-damage-to-narmada-ecology/(09 March 2022)
नर्मदा नदी में अवैध रेत खनन और तस्करी के चलते इसमें पाए जाने वाले इंडियन टेंट प्रजाति के कछुए विलुप्त होने की कगार पर हैं। नर्मदा-तवा नदी के संगम बांद्राभान के साथ हरदा और खंडवा के आसपास के बहाव क्षेत्र से तो ये पूरी तरह गायब हो गए हैं। यह जानकारी भारतीय प्राणी सर्वेक्षण (जूलाजिकल सर्वे आफ इंडिया) के विज्ञानियों के सर्वेक्षण में सामने आई है। पर्यावरणविदों ने इस पर चिंता जताते हुए नर्मदा के पूरे बहाव क्षेत्र में कछुओं और उनके रहवास की तलाश कर इनके संरक्षण के प्रयास किए जाने की मांग की है। भारतीय प्राणी सर्वेक्षण के विज्ञानी प्रत्यूष महापात्रा कछुओं पर शोध कर रहे हैं। उन्होंने पांच साल पहले साथियों के साथ जबलपुर से नर्मदापुरम, हरदा और खंडवा के नजदीक के नर्मदा के बहाव क्षेत्र में कछुओं का सर्वे किया था। https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/bhopal-turtles-in-narmada-river-on-the-verge-of-extinction-in-madhya-pradesh-due-to-illegal-sand-mining-and-smuggling-7373735 (11 March 2022)
Arunachal Pradesh The deep forest and its many treasures The book covers woody plant species in the tropical lower elevation forests. Their numbers are quite high, says Datta. There are no uniquely temperate or subtropical species in the book. There is also information on habitat, dispersal modes as well as flowering and fruiting periods. It is mostly birds who disperse seeds here and then mammals and not wind or gravity so much. https://civilsocietyonline.com/books-authors/the-deep-forest-and-its-many-treasures/ (11 March 2022)
Odisha Reviving the critically endangered gharials A recent report of a nest of a female gharial, with 28 hatchlings, on the banks of the Mahanadi in Odisha, is one of the first reports of gharial breeding in the wild in four decades in the state. Gharial conservation efforts in Odisha formally began in 1975 with the intervention of FAO and UNDP in collaboration with the state forest department. Between 1977 and 2017, as many as 867 gharials were released into the Mahanadi freshwater system. But only 12 had survived till 2018. Illegal fishing and sandmining practices and depredation by muggers are primary reasons for degrading gharial count. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/06/reviving-the-critically-endangered-gharials-in-odisha/ (22 June 2021)
Odisha Set up special courts to punish illegal mining: AG In a letter to chief secretary, advocate general Ashok Parija said as Odisha leads the country in the production of iron ore, bauxite and chromite and has significant reserves of coal, limestone, dolomite, and sand, the state government should set an example for ensuring speedy trial of offences under the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957. The special courts can be established under section 30 (B) of the MMDR Act which was inserted in 2015 following detection of illegal mining in Odisha, Karnataka and Goa by mining mafia in the preceding years.
In his letter, the advocate general referred to the judgement of the single-judge bench of Orissa high court last month where the court underlined the necessity of such courts. “This court expects the state government to take necessary effective steps in that regard at the earliest in consonance with the provision under section 30-B of the Mines & Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 for constitution of special courts for speedy trial of offences,” justice SK Sahoo had observed while rejecting the prayers for anticipatory bail of a person in a case involving theft of minor minerals.
Officials said the setting up of special courts in districts under the MMDR Act would not just lead to speedy trial of the 943 illegal mining cases pending in subordinate courts, but also help the government in dealing with the theft of minor minerals like sand, gravel, stones, laterites, ballasts and rock fines. Of late, the minor mineral mafia have taken to attacking the revenue department officials during enforcement activities forcing the government to deploy armed policemen in 10 places. Officials said the state government may follow Karnataka model and request the chief justice of Orissa high court to empower the district judges to try the mining cases under MMDR Act. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/odisha-ag-writes-to-state-govt-to-form-special-courts-under-mines-minerals-act-101646765712592.html (09 March 2022)
Madhya Pradesh Govts must be realistic about mining bids: SC The Supreme Court on Tuesday (March 08) orally observed that acceptance of an unrealistically high bid for mining natural resources could lead to the bidder defaulting in payments to the government. A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli appeared to fault the MP government for allocating sand mining lease in the entire Raisen district for Rs 71 crore when the realistic price could have been around Rs 50-odd crore.
The MP government had issued show cause notice to the mining lease owner when the default amount reached Rs 8.5 crore. The lease owner sought more time to pay up but failed. Consequently, the government terminated the lease. The bidder moved the HC and repeatedly sought time to pay up, during which time the amount due had risen to Rs 42 crore with interest and penalties. The HC dismissed the petition finding the lease owner unable to keep promise to pay up.
Justice Kohli pilloried the MP government for accepting an unrealistic bid even when it knew that the highest bidder could not have made that much profit to pay the huge amount of Rs 71 crore. The second highest bidder appeared to have quoted a realistic Rs 44 crore. “You cannot view the mining lease to be a milch cow. The government must be realistic in assessing the value of the minor minerals that the bidder could mine in a year. Accepting the highest bid, which quoted an unrealistic sum, would be of no good as the bidder would not be able to pay up,” Justice Kohli said.. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/govts-must-be-realistic-about-mining-bids-supreme-court/articleshow/90086557.cms (09 March 2022)
Tamil Nadu HC grants one more opportunity to accused Taking note of the fact that an accused in the Tirunelveli illegal sand mining case who was granted anticipatory bail after agreeing to deposit ₹ 10 lakh had moved the Supreme Court, claiming that he was a casual labourer and he was forced to pay the amount, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has sought a response from him. Justice B. Pugalendhi observed that A. Nishad, one of the accused in the illegal sand mining case, had obtained anticipatory bail from the court under the pretext that he was prepared to pay ₹ 10 lakh before the Judicial Magistrate in Tirunelveli. However, he has now preferred a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court.
The State submitted a few materials before the court and said that the accused had made money through illegal sand mining and had also constructed a massive building in Kerala worth ₹1 crore. The investigation also revealed bank transactions worth ₹ 85 lakh. Since the day of the hearing, there was no representation from the side of the accused. The court granted him one more opportunity to respond and adjourned the case till March 17. The court was hearing the petition filed by the CB-CID seeking the cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to the accused. Earlier, the court had ordered a CB-CID probe into the illegal sand mining case.
The main accused in the case Manuvel George, a resident of Kerala, had obtained a licence for storing and processing rough stone, m-sand, gravel and crusher dust in Kallidaikurichi, Ambasamudram in Tirunelveli district. He misused the licence and indulged in the illegal sand mining on the adjacent lands, including Vandala Odai. While transferring the probe to the CB-CID, the court took into account the fact that some government officials were also involved and aided Manuvel George to transport the sand and exploit it for commercial purposes. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/madurai/article65215268.ece (11 March 2022)
Uttar Pradesh Mining contract a threat as river course changed The walls of more than 12 houses at Mandawar village located on the banks of Yamuna in Kairana are full of “for sale” placards hanging outside. Villagers say their farmlands have submerged in water causing extensive damage to the crops. The reason, according to them, is a new sand mining contract in the region. They say contractors have deployed huge machines to extract sand and this has caused the river to change its course towards their village.
According to villagers, at least 30 bigha of fertile land has been affected. Their livelihood is at risk as the eroding river may swallow their farmland. The plea has reached senior authorities and they say a joint committee has been formed to look into the matter. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/mining-contract-a-threat-as-river-course-changed-say-yamuna-bank-farmers/articleshow/89575910.cms (15 Feb. 2022)
Uttarakhand मेडिकल कालेज के शिलान्यास का पत्थर भी ले उड़े खननकारी जिस मेडिकल कालेज के नाम पर बीते दिसंबर माह में सत्ता के गलियारे में रूठने-मनाने का दौर चल रहा था, आज उस मेडिकल कालेज का शिलान्यास पत्थर भी खननकारी ले गए। यूं तो कोटद्वार क्षेत्र में नदियों से उपखनिज की चोरी कोई नई बात नहीं। लेकिन, खननकारियों ने मेडिकल कालेज के लिए चयनित भूमि को ही खुर्द-बुर्द कर डाला। सिस्टम की ओर से खनन के इस खेल में साधी गई चुप्पी सिस्टम को सवालों के घेरे में खड़ा कर रही है।
मुख्यमंत्री ने कोटद्वार मेडिकल कालेज के लिए 25 करोड़ की धनराशि की घोषणा कर दी। सात जनवरी को डा. रावत ने मेडिकल कालेज निर्माण कार्य का शिलान्यास भी कर दिया। मेडिकल कालेज के चारों ओर कई भंडारण अवैध रूप से संचालित हैं। बावजूद इसके सरकारी सिस्टम इस ओर झांकने की भी जहमत नहीं उठा रहा। आलम यह है कि मेडिकल कालेज की भूमि से उपखनिज उठा कर प्रतिदिन उसे डंपरों में भरकर उत्तर प्रदेश की ओर भेजा जाता है। लेकिन, स्थानीय प्रशासन इसकी सुध ले रहा है और न ही वन महकमा। बताना जरूरी है कि खननकारी कई मर्तबा वन क्षेत्र में पहुंच अपनी गतिविधियों को अंजाम दे रहे हैं। कुछ समय पूर्व कोटद्वार कोतवाली की कलालघाटी चौकी के प्रभारी ने भी उपजिलाधिकारी को पत्र भेजकर मेडिकल कालेज की भूमि पर अवैध खनन होने व इससे लगे क्षेत्र में अवैध भंडारण की बात कही थी। लेकिन, प्रशासन ने इस पत्र को भी सरकारी फाइलों में दबा दिया। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/pauri-garhwal-medical-college-miners-also-took-away-the-stone-of-foundation-stone-22507325.html (28 Feb. 2022)
बलुवाकोट के ग्रामीणों ने अवैध रूप से खनन कर रहे लोगों को खदेड़ा काली नदी किनारे अवैध खनन से गुस्साए बलुवाकोटवासियों ने अवैध खननकर्ताओं को खदेड़ा। बार-बार अवैध खनन बंद करने की मांग के बाद भी प्रशासन द्वारा कदम नहीं उठाए जाने पर खनन क्षेत्र में ही प्रदर्शन करते दो दिन के भीतर कार्रवाई नहीं होने पर उग्र आंदोलन की चेतावनी दी है।.
काली नदी किनारे नेपाल सीमा पर स्थित बलुवाकोट वर्ष 2013 की आपदा से खतरे में है। काली नदी के कहर से पूरा बलुवाकोट खतरे की जद में है। नदी से कटाव के चलते यहां पर सुरक्षा के लिए तटबंध निर्माण कि या गया है। जिससे आंशिक राहत मिली थी। दूसरी तरफ अवैध खननकर्ता सुरक्षा दीवारों के निकट अवैध खनन कर रहे हैं। अवैध खनन के दौरान रेत और पत्थर निकाले जाने से खतरा बढ़ चुका है। इस संबंध में जनता कई बार विरोध कर चुकी है। प्रशासन से इसकी शिकायत कर अवैध खनन रोकने की मांग की जा चुकी है। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/pithoragarh-villagers-of-baluwakot-chased-away-people-doing-illegal-mining-22362590.html (07 Jan. 2022)
Meghalaya BJP asks HC, NGT to act against illegal stone quarries The state BJP has pinned its hopes on the Meghalaya High Court and the NGT to take cognisance and end the rampant destruction of the environment through illegal stone quarries in Garo Hills, the illegalities of which extend across the international border till Bangladesh.
“The High Court and NGT should take cognisance of illegal stone quarries in Garo Hills. Several illegal quarries are being run in Pipulbari areas and in East Garo Hills. Illegal quarries run freely in the plain areas and boulders are exported to Bangladesh on payment of ‘Goonda Tax’ at the rate of Rs 2,500 per truck,” state BJP vice president and Tura MDC, Bernard M Marak, said on Sunday (March 06) while appreciating the suo motu cognisance taken by the High Court into the issue of illegal rat-hole mining in Nengchigen village in West Khasi Hills. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/03/07/bjp-asks-hc-ngt-to-act-against-illegal-stone-quarries/ (07 March 2022)
Illegal stone quarries flourish near Phulbari At least 500 illegal stone quarries are reportedly being run near Phulbari. This has come to light after the West Garo Hills (WGH) district issued an order banning the mining the stones without the completion of the legal process. Some locals have said there are almost 300 small illegal stone quarries on the Chibinang-Bikkonggre-Dadenggre road. A visit to the area with members of the Achik Youth Movement for Betterment of Society (AYMBS) showed there are almost twice as many. All the sites visited were small in scale yielding 3-5 pick-up trucks full of stones per day.
One Meher Ali, the owner of the quarry, said he had no permission to operate apart from a note from the Nokma of the area. The land, he added, had been leased out to him for ₹5,000 a year. “This unscientific method of quarrying is threatening to affect groundwater. These acts show that Nokmas have been careless in protecting our lands. They have also sold our forests for peanuts. If this continues, there will no longer be hills in Garo Hills,” AYMBS president, Peter A. Sangma said. The district and forest administration, informed about the matter, expressed shock at the findings while promising to immediately look into the matter. The DFO added they have been fighting these illegal acts, but they keep coming back despite many offence reports in the court. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/03/14/illegal-stone-quarries-flourish-near-phulbari/ (14 March 2022)
Kerala Driver dies after truck falls into water-filled quarry A fully loaded truck, which fell into a water-filled granite quarry here was lifted from the waters using cranes on Saturday (March 12). The body of the truck driver was found inside the vehicle. The vehicle fell into the water-filled quarry at Mariappally near here around 9.30pm on Friday (March 11). The truck could be taken out of water only after an 18-hour effort by local authorities. The truck was carrying fertilizers loaded from a depot in Mariappally and was going to Cheppad. The truck belonged to Ajikumar. Police suspect that Ajikumar lost control of the vehicle near the quarry, which resulted in the accident. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/kerala-driver-dies-after-truck-falls-into-water-filled-quarry/articleshow/90180208.cms (13 March 2022)
Himachal Pradesh Mining to blame for road cave-in Limestone quarrying, which was underway at the toe of the slope at Kali Dhank till 2019, triggered the July 30 cave-in of 150-m stretch of the Paonta Sahib-Shillai road (NH-707), reveals a preliminary study by the Geological Survey of India (GSI). A three-member GSI team, which visited the site on August 3-4, submitted its report to the district administration. It states, “The slope was weakened due to mining near its toe. Recent heavy rains triggered the incident.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/mining-to-blame-for-himachal-pradesh-road-cave-in-294938 (09 Aug. 2021)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
Maharashtra Over 24K mangroves to be felled for Virar-Dahanu railway line expansion The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) will divert 26.5 hectares of forest land across 11 villages in Palghar district to quadruple the existing railway line between Virar and Dahanu stations on the Western Railway (WR). The project will lead to the felling of 25,438 trees, including 24,302 mangroves, official documents show. To offset the loss, compensatory afforestation has been proposed on 54 hectares of degraded land in three nearby villages in the district.
The proposal was given a go-ahead in the last meeting of the Union environment ministry’s regional empowered committee in Nagpur. The project is part of phase III of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-III), and involves the laying of third and fourth railway lines parallel to, and on the west of the existing double line corridor between Virar and Dahanu, for a distance of about 63 km. The cabinet committee on economic affairs, chaired by the PM, had approved phase-IIIA of MUTP in April 2020 to improve the connectivity of mass rapid transport between Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts. The MRVC has also sought permission from the state forest department to divert 12.7 hectares of mangrove forests across Mumbai (suburban), Thane, and Dahanu districts to make way for the fifth and sixth railway lines between Borivali and Virar on the WR, also being executed under MUTP-III. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/over-24-000-mangroves-to-be-felled-for-virar-dahanu-railway-line-expansion-101646590379365.html (07 March 2022)
Fence wetland from construction in CRZ area, greens write to CMO City-based environmentalist Sunil Agarwal of Save Navi Mumbai Environment Group has sent an urgent mail to Maharashtra chief minister’s office, besides other government agencies, including Cidco, about the latest construction activity in pockets D and E at Nerul sector 60 (CTS number 265), which is happening without the protective fencing of the adjoining wetland.
“We have requested the state government to immediately stop the private builder from further digging in this CRZ-2 area. The activity is ongoing, as two underground levels have been dug up for the basement. This will lead to flooding, while no proper representation of this CRZ area was earlier done by Cidco. Hence, we want the authorities to at least fence off the bird-rich wetlands, which we are struggling to protect,” said Agarwal. Local nature lovers have also been informed that a lot of dust has been kicked up due to the irrational construction, which is also affecting the dependent wetland biodiversity. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-fence-the-wetland-from-construction-in-crz-area-greens-write-to-cmo/articleshow/90083876.cms (08 March 2022)
Centre asks govt to inquire greens’ concern over JNPA-SEZ on priority MoEF&CC has asked the state government and the state wetland authority to inquire into the recent concern of green activists on priority, regarding alleged eco-violations in the JNPA-SEZ work at the Savarkhar area. However, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) which was earlier known as ‘JNPT’, have denied any environmental violations at Savarkhar, and added that as per their official information, the Savarkhar region is “not a wetland”.
Dr M Ramesh, Scientist ‘E’ at MoEF&CC, has formally responded to complaints of green activists that the 22-hectare Savarkhar area is being buried with landfill, despite the Uran tehsildar identifying it as part of the 13 wetlands that he listed. “The officials have obviously failed to protect the wetlands identified by them,” noted the director of NatConnect Foundation, B N Kumar. JNPA clarified through their PR agency that the place is not a wetland and that it used to be a paddy field.
NatConnect countered JNPA’s claim by saying that the SEZ project has obtained Environment Clearance (EC), but on the clause that no reclamation will be done. “Yet, a massive reclamation of the 22-hectare Savarkhar wetland is in progress right now. Green groups NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan pointed this out in their emails to the centre and the state recently,” said Kumar. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/navi-mumbai-centre-asks-maharshtra-govt-to-inquire-greens-concern-over-jnpa-sez-on-priority/articleshow/90157073.cms (11 March 2022)
Haryana In 10 yrs, wetland area up by 13% Haryana witnessed a 13.2% increase in wetlands in a decade due to artificial ponds, tanks and water-logged areas, but the state continues to lose its natural wetlands, according to the National Wetland Decadal Change Atlas. Marking World Wetlands Day, the Space Applications Centre released the atlas in February. The report revealed that the total wetland area in Haryana was 29,710 hectares in 2006-07 and 33,649 hectares in 2017-18, showing a jump of 3,939 hectares. However, the natural wetlands along river streams witnessed a decline of 2,028 hectares from 2006-07 to 2017-18.
“Wetlands cover 0.8% of the total geographical area of the state. Decadal changes (2017-18 versus 2006-07) show an overall increase in wetland area (3,939 hectares, mainly by tanks/ponds, water-logged areas, aquaculture ponds) with a significant reduction in the river stream area. There has been a large increase in inland, man-made wetland and a slight decrease in inland, natural wetland categories,” stated the document. The state has 3.3% of the cultivable area in the country, contributing 5.6% of the total food grain production. A total of 1,441 wetlands have been mapped in Haryana. In addition, 10,529 waterlogged areas have also been identified. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/in-10-yrs-wetland-area-up-by-13-in-hry/articleshow/90136878.cms (11 March 2022)
Delhi: Wetland authority begins revamp of Najafgarh lake The Wetland Authority of Delhi has started the implementation of environment management plan (EMP) for the conservation of Najafgarh lake. After the NGT directed Delhi to enforce the EMP for rejuvenation and integration of the lake, the Authority has written to nine departments listing action points for execution. The departments have been asked to complete them within specified timelines. The lake falls partly in Delhi and partly in Haryana. In an order dated January 21, the tribunal directed the ministry of environment and forest and climate change to prepare an integrated EMP for the transboundary wetland. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/wetland-authority-begins-revamp-of-najafgarh-lake/articleshow/90110215.cms (10 March 2022)
Comment Water management needs a hydro-social approach Srikumar Chattopadhyay, ICSSR National Fellow, Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation, and former Scientist, National Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram
There are several IBT initiatives across the world. One recent document indicates that there are 110 water transfer mega projects that have either been executed (34 projects) or being planned/under construction (76 projects) across the world. The National River Linking Project of India is one of those under construction. These projects, if executed, will create artificial water courses that are more than twice the length of the earth’s equator and will transfer 1,910 km3 of water annually. They will reengineer the hydrological system with considerable local, regional and global ramifications. Based on a multi-country case study analysis, the World Wildlife Fund/World Wide Fund for Nature (2009) has suggested a cautious approach and the necessity to adhere to sustainability principles set out by the World Commission on Dams while taking up IBT projects.
Some of the key assumptions:- Recently, inter-basin transfer of water drew attention in India due to a provision made in Budget 2022 for the Ken Betwa river link project which is a part of the National River Linking project (mooted in 1970 and revived in 1999). This decision raises larger questions about hydrological assumptions and the use and the management of freshwater resources in the country. We shall ponder over some of them.
First, the basic premise of IBT is to export water from the surplus basin to a deficit basin. However, there is contestation on the concept of the surplus and deficit basin itself as the exercise is substantially hydrological. Water demand within the donor basin by factoring present and future land use, especially cropping patterns, population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation, socio-economic development and environmental flow are hardly worked out. Besides this, rainfall in many surplus basins has been reported as declining. The status of the surplus basin may alter if these issues are considered.
Second, there is concern about the present capacity utilisation of water resources created in the country. By 2016, India created an irrigation potential for 112 million hectares, but the gross irrigated area was 93 million hectares. There is a 19% gap, which is more in the case of canal irrigation. In 1950-51, canal irrigation used to contribute 40% of net irrigated area, but by 2014-15, the net irrigated area under canal irrigation came down to less than 24%. Ground water irrigation now covers 62.8% of net irrigated area. The average water use efficiency of irrigation projects in India is only 38% against 50%-60% in the case of developed countries.
Agriculture, grey water use:- Even at the crop level we consume more water than the global average. Rice and wheat, the two principal crops accounting for more than 75% of agricultural production use 2,850 m 3/tonnes and 1,654 m 3/tonnes of water, respectively, against the global average of 2,291m 3/tonnes and 1,334m 3/ tonnes in the same order. The agriculture sector uses a little over 90% of total water use in India. And in industrial plants, consumption is 2 times to 3.5 times higher per unit of production of similar plants in other countries. Similarly, the domestic sector experiences a 30% to 40% loss of water due to leakage.
Third, grey water is hardly used in our country. It is estimated that 55% to 75% of domestic water use turns into grey water depending on its nature of use, people’s habits, climatic conditions, etc. At present, average water consumption in the domestic sector in urban areas is 135 litres to 196 litres a head a day. Given the size of India’s urban population (469 million estimated for 2021), the amount of grey water production can be well imagined. If grey water production in the rural areas is considered it will be a huge amount. The discharge of untreated grey water and industrial effluents into freshwater bodies is cause for concern. The situation will be further complicated if groundwater is affected.
Apart from the inefficient use of water in all sectors, there is also a reduction in natural storage capacity and deterioration in catchment efficiency. The issues are source sustainability, renovation and maintenance of traditional water harvesting structures, grey water management infrastructure, groundwater recharge, increasing water use efficiency, and reuse of water.
Planning ahead: -Looking into these issues may not be adequate to address all the problems. Nevertheless, these measures will help to reduce demand supply gap in many places, and the remaining areas of scarcity can be catered to using small-scale projects. The axiom that today’s water system is co-evolving and the challenges are mainly management and governance has been globally well accepted. Water projects are politically charged and manifest an interplay of social relations, social power, and technology.
Rethinking water management issues:- It is important to include less predictable variables, revise binary ways of thinking of ‘either or’, and involve non-state actors in decision-making processes. A hybrid water management system is necessary, where (along with professionals and policy makers) the individual, a community and society have definite roles in the value chain. The challenge is not to be techno-centric but anthropogenic. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/water-management-needs-a-hydro-social-approach/article65208277.ece (10 March 2022)
Blog Conceptualising Small Watersheds as Infrastructures of Immobility to Address Distress Induced Rural-Urban Migration in India In this blog, originally published as one of the inaugural Environment and History ‘Snapshots’ in February 2022, Shashank Deora and Pankaj Sekhsaria discuss rural to urban distress-migration in India and the role small watersheds might play as ‘infrastructures of desirable immobility‘
Studying the emergence and operation of small watersheds as infrastructures of immobility can improve the understanding of the challenges to maintaining healthy watersheds that force mobility upon the rural population. It requires more context-specific research into when and how a watershed fails as an infrastructure of desirable immobility for the poor and vulnerable sections of rural communities; what events, negotiations and decisions lead to this failure; and what are the consequences of this infrastructural failure for the diverse actors around the watershed? https://whitehorsepress.blog/2022/03/10/conceptualising-small-watersheds-as-infrastructures-of-immobility-to-address-distress-induced-rural-urban-migration-in-india/ (10 March 2022)
Gujarat Mumbai group to revive lakes, solve water crisis in Kutch Second and third generation Kutchi businessmen come together to resolve the issue of drought and stop the migratory trends. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/mumbai-group-to-revive-lakes-solve-water-crisis-in-gujarats-kutch-23217251 (07 March 2022)
Centre’s guidelines only new cover to old scheme: NGT The guidelines issued by the Ministry of Jal Shakti to regulate and control ground water extraction in the country is only a new cover provided to the old scheme with minor variations, alterations and modifications, the National Green Tribunal has said. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said the 2020 guidelines broadly do not satisfy directions given by it repeatedly and persistently.
– The NGT said there is a twist when the guidelines says that NOC shall not be granted to new packaged water industries in over-exploited areas even if they belong to MSME category. “In Guidelines 2015, no NOC was to be given to any water intensive industry, even if it is MSME, in over exploited assessment areas. Now it is restricted to packaged water industries. Apparently, a drastic relaxation has been given in respect of water intensive industries, for no reason, and that too in flagrant defiance of order of Tribunal,” it said. https://theprint.in/india/centres-guidelines-on-regulation-of-ground-water-extraction-only-new-cover-to-old-scheme-ngt/849267/ (26 Feb. 2022)
Uttar Pradesh Coke, Pepsi bottlers violated water laws, with help from govt In a stinging order issued in late February 2022, the National Green Tribunal has found little reason to be happy about this Coca cola unit. It illegally used groundwater for at least two years—from 2018 to 2020 – at a time when the water table in the area was already critically low. The NGT order also finds similar illegalities committed by another Coca-Cola unit run by Moon Beverages in neighbouring Ghaziabad, and by a PepsiCo bottling unit run by Varun Beverages Ltd in Greater Noida. The units are located in one of the most depleted aquifers in India, by the government’s own assessment. If this wasn’t bad enough, the NGT order has a more troubling verdict on the state of our government regulators. It says that the union government “aided, abetted and assisted” the companies in their illegal acts while the Uttar Pradesh government “surpassed all degrees of patent illegalities”. Those are big words! What exactly happened here? https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/coke-pepsi-bottlers-violated-water-laws-with-help-from-government/ (09 March 2022)
NGT imposes ₹25 cr fine on bottlers of Coca-Cola, Pepsi The NGT ruled that the companies’ bottling operations were in violation of environmental legislation issued by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) as they operated without the requisite no objection certificate (NOC) to withdraw groundwater. Both companies were also accused of breaking the terms of their licences by failing to meet their requirements to recharge ground water. Moon Beverages (Coco Cola) and Varun Beverages (PepsiCo) were thus ordered to pay a total of around ₹25 crores for illegally abstracting groundwater and inflicting environmental harm.
The NGT also came down hard on the government regulator CGWA, pointing out various flaws in its operations. The UP Ground Water Department (UPGWD) was also held accountable as the body attempted to confer authority to the companies for extraction of groundwater without having the jurisdiction to do so. The tribunal imposed an environmental compensation of ₹1.85 crore on Moon Beverages Ltd located at Greater Noida, ₹13.24 crore on Moon Beverage Ltd’s Sahibabad unit and ₹9.71 crore on Varun Beverages Ltd’s Greater Noida unit.
A joint committee comprising the MoEF and Jal Shakti, the CPCB, the CGWA, the UPGWB and District Magistrates of concerned districts were also set up to ensure that the compensation received is utilised for recharge of ground water. https://www.barandbench.com/news/ngt-impose-25-crore-environmental-compensation-on-bottlers-of-coca-cola-pepsi-in-up-for-illegal-extraction-of-groundwater (07 March 2022)
According to the 246-page judgment released last Friday (Feb. 26), NGT hauled up the three bottling facilities for violation of environmental laws issued by the CGWA by operating without the required “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) to withdraw ground water. Both the companies were also accused of violating the licence terms by not fulfilling the obligations to recharge ground water, said the release.
The Tribunal wrote that the companies “are responsible for illegal extraction of ground water at least after expiry of NOCs, issued to them by CGWA. They continued to extract ground water without any authority. Further, they are also liable to pay environmental compensation for causing loss to environment by failing to comply with the most crucial condition of NOCs, i.e., recharge of water.” https://www.newsclick.in/NGT-fines-coca-Cola-bottler–2m-pepsiCo-cottler-%24-1.3m-damaging-environment-india (05 March 2022)
Meghalaya PCB orders closing of 29 illegal coke plants As per the RTI reply, out of 42 NOCs or coke plants only 8 have obtained trading licence, clearing indicating that the rest are operating without licence. https://www.eastmojo.com/meghalaya/2022/03/07/meghalaya-pollution-control-board-orders-closing-of-29-illegal-coke-plants/ (07 March 2022)
Punjab Malwa groundwater toxic Despite desperate premonition of impending disasters if the groundwater situation is not urgently checked, the Malwa region of Punjab seems to be headed for worse times. Numerous surveys in the past couple of decades have unanimously portended a calamitous scenario. The alarmingly depleting levels of the water table and the rising contamination of the water bodies with heavy metals have necessitated policy overhauls. Various high-level water commissions and authorities have been set up by successive governments with the aim of not only arresting the degradation of this precious resource but also restoring it to its pristine condition. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/malwa-groundwater-toxic-375685 (07 March 2022)
Haryana Building small dams in Shivalik, Aravalli Haryana authorities plan to construct small dams in the Aravalli and Shivalik hills to conserve water flowing through the region’s springs. The water conserved will assist in combating groundwater depletion in the region and will be used for irrigation and drinking. The authorities intend to build six small dams in Morni area of Shivalik Hills, where a few dams were previously constructed. The region was selected for this project due to the low water levels and saline conditions in the area. For this purpose, the government has introduced the Ranney Well Scheme, worth Rs 263 crore. Furthermore, the government has launched the Mera Pani-Meri Virasat Scheme, under which farmers are being given Rs 7,000 per acre for sowing alternate crops in place of paddy to save water for irrigation. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/behind-haryana-building-small-dams-in-shivalik-aravalli-groundwater-loss-7786466/ (23 Feb. 2022)
Rahul Banerjee on FB Post Comment:- Hectares are an unit of area and not volume . Instead of building dams they should be doing, afforestation and soil and water conservation at the watershed level. When will better sense prevail?
Report How falling groundwater levels compact the land above Falling groundwater levels are leading to shrinking aquifers and sinking lands. Over-extraction of groundwater makes regions prone to subsidence. Land subsidence can lead to cracks in civil infrastructure, floods and the aquifers can lose their water holding capacity forever. Experts studying groundwater, recommend sustainable utilisation of groundwater and necessitate the need for more research to understand the effects of land subsidence. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/03/explainer-how-falling-groundwater-levels-compact-the-land-above/ (09 March 2022)
Bengaluru Experts say water shortage claims ‘exaggerated’ According to the Economic Survey, the current shortfall in the water supply in 2021, as estimated by the Bangalore water supply and sewerage board (BWSSB), is 650 MLD, which is likely to go up to 1,450 MLD by 2031.
Urban planner and water conservation expert S Vishwanath said that projections by the government are often exaggerations with political motives behind them. “Bengaluru currently gets 1,470 MLD of water. Apart from that, there is 600 MLD of groundwater in the city. With the current population in the city, even with 150 litre of water per capita, we will have enough water for the entire city,” he said.
Vishwanath, however, pointed out that when the projections are made at 200 litres of water per capita, a shortage could be predicated and such exaggerated numbers are used to allow projects like Mekadattu. “Most of the calculations claiming there is a shortage is based on this outrageous 200 litre per capita calculation, without taking groundwater into consideration. Even by European standards, 100 litres per capita is a good amount. The fact is that with the current water supply, harvesting at least half of Bengaluru’s rainwater and recycling 1/3 of sewage water, Bengaluru will not have a problem till 2050. Such claims of shortage are used to propel projects like Mekadatu,” he pointed out. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bengalurusurvey-points-to-water-shortage-in-near-future-experts-disagree-101647109865839.html (13 March 2022)
Garbage burnt near Hosa Lake irks residents Residents and morning walkers of Singasandra ward were in for a shock on Tuesday, when they found ash across an acre of land around Hosa Lake, also called as Dodda Kudlu lake. Locals allege that the lake is not being maintained properly, after it was taken over by the BBMP. Earlier, an NGO was maintaining it and they were ensuring there were no such incidents, the locals accused. Rashmi Nangia, a resident, said garbage dumping is a major problem near the lake, especially with the area lacking fencing. Even as many complaints are raised in the ward committee meetings, little has been done. At every complaint, the marshals come and inspect the area. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2022/mar/10/garbage-burnt-near-hosa-lake-irks-residents-2428326.html (10 March 2022)
Coimbatore Water crisis. Water from the Siruvani dam is supplied to 28 of the 100 wards in the city. The corporation is entitled to get 101.40 MLD from the dam, which is maintained by Kerala. While the corporation used to get 85-90 MLD, it now receives only 50-60 MLD. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/water-crisis-looms-as-outflow-from-siruvani-dam-dwindles/articleshow/90177645.cms (13 March 2022)
Hyderabad Minster warns of cutting power, water supplies to cantonment areas KT Rama Rao, Telangana’s information and technology minister, has warned of cutting power and water supplies to cantonment areas if the inconvenience caused to citizens does not stop. Stating that it is not fair for the military to close roads whenever they wish to, Rao (also known as KTR) said the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)-led government will hold meetings with the authorities, but if they fail to understand, appropriate action will be taken.
KTR, who is also the working president of TRS and the municipal minister, made the statement while speaking during the Question Hour in the Assembly on the implementation of the Strategic Nala Development Programme in Hyderabad on Saturday. According to reports, Rao further said the state government had complained to the Centre regarding the issue, but to no avail, adding both sides need to share mutual cooperation while living in a city.. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ktr-telangana-minster-warns-of-cutting-power-water-supplies-to-cantonment-areas-101647141541121.html (13 March 2022)
Speaking during the question hour in the state assembly on the Strategic Nala Development Programme being implemented in the city, KTR said both sides need to have mutual cooperation when they are living in a city. Though the state government lodged complaints with the Centre that issues such as roads closure and impediments in executing Nala development works by military authorities was causing severe inconvenience to the people, not much has changed.
He said the military authorities have constructed a check dam on Balkapur nala resulting in inundation of Nadeem colony and Archaeological Survey of India is not allowing the state government to take up nala works near Golconda Fort. The state government will go to any extent to protect the interests of the people. He said the contribution of the central government is zero for the Phase-I of the Strategic Nala Development Programme taken up by the state at a cost of Rs 985 crore. Union tourism minister G Kishan Reddy is a MP from the city but has not been able to bring financial assistance for Nala Development Programme, he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/will-disconnect-power-water-lines-to-cantonment-areas-telangana-minister/articleshow/90167373.cms (12 March 2022)
Pune Stagnant sewage near canal irks residents Residents are irked as stench and grime cover the corner of the canal near housing societies on Shankar Sheth road. Despite many complaints to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), the seeping drainage has gone unnoticed, claim residents. The residents of Jay Kay CHS Ltd., which is nearest to the area want PMC to immediately look into the issue.
In a letter to PMC, the residents have written, “We wish to bring to your notice that the canal beside our building has been stinking and can spread diseases in the nearby area. The cleaning work of the canal and the drainage system was last done five years ago. It has never been cleaned thereafter and all the garbage has piled up now.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/stagnant-sewage-near-canal-irks-residents-of-shankar-sheth-road-in-pune-101646574234532.html (06 March 2022)
Guwahati Protest against decade-old drinking water crisis Ahead of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation election, city residents staged a demonstration at Beltola on Saturday (March 12) demanding solution to the decades-old drinking water crisis at the earliest. Just around 30% of nearly 3 lakh households in the city have access to household tap water. The rest have to depend on the private water suppliers or tubewells. To meet the crisis, the state government had started construction of four water supply projects in the city a decade ago but those remained incomplete to date.
The construction of the South West Guwahati (funded by Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission project was started in 2009, South Central Guwahati (funded by JICA) in 2011, the North Guwahati project (funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency) in 2011 and the South East Guwahati project (funded Asian Development Bank) in 2016. Ashok Das, general secretary of the Mahanagar Unnayan Samiti’s Beltola wing, said, “The city residents have been struggling with the drinking water crisis for decades. Assurances and promises were made by the ministers and MLAs, but nothing happened to date.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/guwahati-residents-protest-against-decade-old-drinking-water-crisis/articleshow/90177770.cms (13 March 2022)
Shillong opposition urges govt to halt landfill project The opposition on Thursday asked Meghalaya Government to keep on hold the proposed plans of setting up of a garbage dump at Mawlawai village, around 60 kilometres from the state capital. Raising a call attention motion, Umroi legislator George Lyngdoh said that the residents of the area were opposing the project of setting up of this sanitary landfill as neither the Urban Affairs department nor the Ri Bhoi district administration gave much information about Government plans to acquire 200 acres of land for the sanitary landfill. The legislator said that the Government should select sites for landfill in those areas where people, water bodies etc., will not be affected
Replying to the motion, Urban Affairs Minister, Sniawbhalang Dhar said that solid waste management had emerged as main challenge for the urban areas of the state. He said that upgradation of Shilllong marten was being done but it would reach a saturation point. He pointed out out that a task force was constituted and public notices were issued and accordingly 11 applications were received for setting up of the landfill. According to Dhar, the site at Mawlwai was inspected and found to be feasible. Admitting that the protest against the proposed project has grown, the Minister said that the public hearing was done not for acquiring land but for creating awareness on the project. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/03/10/meghalaya-opposition-urges-govt-to-halt-landfill-project/ (10 March 2022)
The state government on Tuesday (March 08) faced some heat in the Assembly over the pathetic waste disposal management in Shillong and Jowai. Raising a short duration discussion in the House, AITC MLA from Mawsynram, HM Shangpliang said a mound of garbage is piling up in front of the DC’s office in Jowai and asked the government to show haste and identify a new location to dump the town’s garbage. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/03/09/garbage-generates-heat-in-house/ (09 March 2022)
Uttar Pradesh Sonbhadra Villages Live in Fear of Contaminated Water In the Sonbhadra district, the availability of clean drinking water has become a big challenge over recent months. This is largely because of mining activity in the area, which severely pollutes groundwater and surface water bodies. Mining may have also resulted in the overall lowering of the ground water table in the area. Experts say that the contamination in the water level may have also be caused by the rising number of factories being set up in the district.
According to official figures, between November and December in 2021, more than 40 people succumbed to malaria and jaundice due to contaminated drinking water. After the tragic incident, a 1,000-litre water purifier was installed near the village, but the villagers say that this belt requires at least 30 more such purifiers to meet their needs. The belt has about 45 villages and each village has between 3-5,000 residents. Most people are still drinking unfiltered water, either from the hand pump or a nearby water body, littered with garbage.
In all of Sonbhadra, water and air pollution caused by the rising number of factories is an increasing problem. Among other concerns, some villagers also love in the fear of floods because of nearby dams. During his rally in Sonbhadra, PM Modi said that a policy will be made to “utilise the wealth emerging from the Sonbhadra district” towards its development, referring to the District Mineral Fund (DMF), which focuses on the development of locals through funding of the mining industry. https://thewire.in/rights/sonbhadra-villages-contaminated-water-illness (06 March 2022)
Goa SPCB seeks amendments to rules on water, air pollution Member secretary of the SPCB informed the board members that on receipt of the final Goa Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules 2021 and Goa Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 2021, as notified by the state government, it is seen that certain recommendations submitted by the SPCB have not been considered by the state government. The Board unanimously decided to send the amendments, additions and deletions to the rules to the state government for immediate amendments. Members also took a serious note that in spite of the objections raised in the draft rules, the same were not incorporated. Further it was decided to convey to the department of environment and climate change that any amendments to be done in the rules must be brought to the notice of the Board and that the same shall be notified in consultations with the Board as mandated in the rules. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/board-seeks-amendments-to-rules-on-water-air-pollution/articleshow/90176552.cms (13 March 2022)
Kerala As water becomes scarce, wild elephants raid plantations Wild elephants are constantly raiding the human habitations of Santhanpara and Chinnakanal grama panchayats on the forest fringes, causing large-scale damage to crops. According to local residents, the elephant attacks have gone up with the rising temperature. They say the main reason for wild animals entering the cultivated areas is the shortage of water and fodder in the forest areas of Mathikettan Shola.
The animals, who come in search of water, also destroy the hose and other items used for watering the cardamom plants. Selvaraj said that earlier water used to be stored in tanks inside the forest for wild animals to drink during summer. Tanker lorries used to replenish the tanks, thus ensuring water availability. Now, with streams drying in the forest, wild elephants have moved into human habitations in search of water. According to a Forest department official, a few check-dams turned dry as the temperature rose early this year. Water availability will be ensured in the temporary ponds inside the forest, he said, adding that the rapid response team was active to drive back wild elephants entering the farm areas. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/as-water-becomes-scarce-wild-elephants-raid-plantations/article65217409.ece (12 March 2022)
अल्प वर्षा का असर इस साल जलस्रोतों पर अभी से दिखने लगा है। जिले की सभी नदियों की धार जनवरी में ही टूट चुकी है। हालत यह है कि नदियों में दूर-दूर तक पानी नजर नहीं आ रहा है। जलाशयों व तालाबों का भी यही हाल है। जल संसाधन विभाग के अधीन बांधों व जलाशयों में पानी न्यूनतम जलस्तर पर है। इसके बाद सिंचाई संभव ही नहीं है। https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/sagar-water-problem-started-in-the-district-in-march-itself-7381855 (13 March 2022)
Chhattisgarh भूजल स्तर गिरने से केलो नदी समेत सूखने लगे शहर के तालाब रायगढ़ जिले में मार्च माह में सूरज की बढ़ने लगीं है। दोपहर में गर्मी चुभने लगी है। वहीं गर्मी बढ़ने के साथ ही भूजलस्तर गिरने लगा है। गर्मी बढ़ने के साथ ही शहर समेत ग्रामीण अंचल की तालाब सूखने लगी हैं। शहर व ग्रामीण अंचल के कई तालाब में वर्तमान स्थिति तक निस्तारण का कार्य होता है, परंतु जलस्तर कम होने की वजह से निस्तारी के लिए भी जल नही है। वही दूसरी ओर रबी सीजन के लिए खेतों में लगी फसलों की सिंचाई लगातार हो रही है। यही हाल उद्योग जगत में भी है। फसल व उद्योग के लिए बोर पंप से भूजल दोहन किए जाने से भूजल स्तर लगातार नीचे जा रहा है।
शहर की लाइफ लाइन जीवनदायिनी केलो नदी को कहा जाता है। जिसमें बांध बनने की वजह से यहां पानी नाले की तरह बहाव हो रही है जो एक दौर में अविरलता से बहकर लोग और खेत की प्यास बुझाती थी। अब यह नदी नाले की तर्ज पर दिखाई देती है। वही ग्रामीण अंचल में गर्मी से पहले तालाबों ,झील ,डबरी ,तक को अपने गिरफ्त में ले लिया है । इन जलस्त्रोंतों के सूखने के कारण आसपास के गांवों का भू-जल स्तर नीचे गिर रहा है, अगर यही हाल रहा तो अप्रैल मई माह में जलसंकट की भयावह स्थिति हो सकती है । https://www.naidunia.com/chhattisgarh/raigarh-city-ponds-including-kelo-river-started-drying-up-due-to-falling-groundwater-level-7381716 (13 March 2022)
Fresh landslide near Joshimath. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4970747719669737&id=100002036746060
MoEF Proposal to ease clearance norm for oil drilling The Union environment ministry is considering a proposal on whether extended reach drilling (ERD) in protected forest areas can be exempted from mandatory clearances under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, according to people aware of the matter and official government documents seen by HT. To make a decision on the proposal, the environment ministry sought a report from the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) on the impact of ERD technology, the people added.
Experts said it is important that the government moves cautiously on new technologies. “The environment ministry’s cautious approach on ERD technology in recorded forests and protected areas is a crucial process. The areas in question are not just sensitive ecologically, hydrologically, but have existing habitation and use rights, which will be affected if land areas are secured for oil extraction. This is particularly important as many oil-bearing states like Assam are in conflict, and companies have sought exemptions from public hearings citing the same. Since the ministry is aware of these tensions, they would need to inform the final decision rather than exclude it implications,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher, Centre for Policy Research. (CPR). https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-weighs-proposal-to-ease-clearance-norm-for-oil-drilling-in-protected-forest-areas-101647108197332-amp.html (12 March 2022)
Mumbai BMC to unveil first climate action plan The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is all set to unveil its first Climate Action Plan to achieve ‘net zero’ (zero emission of greenhouse gas) for Mumbai by 2050 on Sunday (March 13). The Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP) has set an ambitious target of reaching complete carbon neutrality by 2050, two decades ahead of the country’s target of 2070, which was committed in COP-26 in Glasgow. BMC officials said that the MCAP will be put in the public domain and subsequently its implementation will start.
The plan has focused on six key areas – energy efficiency, air quality and sustainable mobility, sustainable waste management, urban greening and biodiversity, urban flooding and water resource management – to make the city climate-resilient and set a target of zero emission of greenhouse gases. Besides these six sectors, there are 24 subsectors in the plan that will be considered for implementation. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/bmc-to-unveil-first-climate-action-plan-today-7817241/ (13 March 2022)
Mumbai announced detailed plans to zero out carbon emissions by 2050, a target that puts it two decades ahead of India’s national goal and makes it the first city in South Asia to set such a timeline. In the plan announced Sunday, India’s financial center, home to south Asia’s biggest corporations, stock bourses and the central bank, has proposed exhaustive changes to the way it manages energy, water, air, waste, green spaces and transport for its 19 million residents. “We don’t have the luxury of time,” said Aaditya Thackeray, environment minister of the state of Maharashtra. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/aaditya-thackerays-new-mumbai-plan-to-ward-off-9-billion-damage-2821377 (14 March 2022)
India-Bhutan Troubles in joint hydropower projects On Feb. 6, 2021, “it was found that the dam site of the much delayed P-1 project would have to be abandoned” after a cost of 23 billion Ngultrums (around 301 million U.S. dollars) “with the proposal of building a barrage site,” said the report. Over the years, the newspaper also “reported extensively in the various difficulties caused in formalizing Joint Venture power projects due to unreasonable demands” by the Indian side.
– Interesting to see this in China media, that too without sufficient details of the reports and matter it was reporting. Seems more like fishing for troubles. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/asiapacific/20220312/25756e866cab42b08922e572d7d37706/c.html (12 March 2022)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
River – Official Trailer Throughout history, rivers have shaped our landscapes and our journeys; flowed through our cultures and dreams. River takes its audience on a journey through space and time; spanning six continents, and drawing on extraordinary contemporary cinematography, including satellite filming, the film shows rivers on scales and from perspectives never seen before. Its union of image, music and sparse, poetic script create a film that is both dream-like and powerful, honouring the wildness of rivers but also recognising their vulnerability. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=VCTtLVw0RxE (09 July 2021)
Compiled by SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)