DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 21 Mar 2022: Centre’s unconvincing Plan to rejuvenate 13 major rivers

The government of India, through joint announcement of Union Ministries of Jal Shakti & Environment and Forests (such joint addresses are rather rare events) this week announced its plans to rejuvenate 13 major rivers of India (excluding Ganga but including some of the key Ganga tributaries!) through the limited activity of plantations is not every convincing on many counts. Firstly it is welcome to see that the government sees a role of forests as a hydrological asset. Unfortunately, this is clearly and completely absent in government’s forest management, both in policy and practice. If we see the forest governance of India through the functioning of the Forest Advisory Committee of MoEF, we see absolutely no sign of acknowledgement of this reality that forests are major hydrological assets. So for example when a decision is taken to allow diversion of major chunks of existing forests, there is never any discussion, assessment or counting of hydrological eco system services that forests provide. This is apparent in many cases, but most recently in the case of Ken Betwa project where the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee too has acknowledged this reality. So again it seems government’s mind or heard does not seem to know what the tongue is conveying!

Amazingly, the DPR and announcement considers Sabarmati as a successful example of river front development and Ganga as a successful example of river rejuvenation! Nothing can be farther from truth!! Sabarmati river front development in Ahmedabad is an example of destruction of a river. That Ganga is far from rejuvenated or even having made significant progress down that road is apparent from many realities, including the fact that one of its major tributaries is part of this new announcement! Can a river be rejuvenated without rejuvenation of its major tributaries?

There are many other serious lacunas in the process and proposal of this activity, one of the most glaring one is the inclusion of Shri Jaggi Vasudev and his Rally for the Rivers as a laudable efforts. This is most shocking. As they say, you are likely to be judged by the company you have! One only hopes that this whole effort is not a major land grabbing effort, in addition to unaccountable spending of huge sum of public money, while the government goes ahead with destruction of India’s existing forests like in the case of Ken Betwa Project. River Rejuvenation efforts are required, but they can do more harm than good if they are as unconvincing as this one.

MoEF & MoJS  Centre to spend 19k crore for rejuvenation of 13 rivers The Centre (MoEF and Jal Shakti Ministry jointly) on March 14, 2022 released a detailed plan of action to rejuvenate 13 rivers (other than Ganga), spread over 24 states and two Union territories, through forestry intervention. Over Rs 19,342 crore will be spent in the next five years for various afforestation programmes (with support from state forest depts) and related activities in the catchment areas of these rivers. The idea behind the move is to grow green cover along both sides of these rivers and their tributaries to increase ground water recharge, reduce erosion and recharge aquifers as forests absorb rainfall and discharge water slowly into the river stream.

The rivers identified for this rejuvenation model include Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Luni, Narmada, Godavari, Yamuna, Krishna (Rs 3069 Cr), Cauvery (rs 2327 Cr), Mahanadi and Brahamputra. “The projects will alleviate growing water stress and help achieve national goals related to climate change and sustainable development,” said environment minister Bhupender Yadav while jointly releasing ‘detailed project reports’ (DPRs) of 13 rivers with Jal Shakti (water resource) minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. The length of the 13 rivers including 202 tributaries included is 42830 km.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/centre-to-spend-19k-crore-for-rejuvenation-of-13-rivers/articleshow/90211004.cms  (15 March 2022)

The 13 rivers collectively cover a basin area of 18,90,110 sq. km. or about 57.45% of the geographical area. The DPRs say the State Forest Departments will be the key implementing agencies with “convergence of schemes of other line departments in the States”. Technical support would be given by the ICFRE.

These ‘forestry’ interventions are expected to increase the cumulative forest cover by 7,417.36 sq. km. in the vicinity of these 13 rivers and would prevent 50.21 million tonnes of CO2–equivalent in 10–year–old plantations and 74.76 million tonnes CO2–equivalent in 20–year–old plantations. They would help recharge groundwater, reduce sedimentation, generate ₹449.01 crore from non-timber and other forest produce as well as provide employment of 344 million man–days.

The documents propose many kinds of afforestation for the rivers. They include timber species, medicinal plants, grasses, shrubs and fuel fodder and fruit trees. The document proposes 667 treatment and plantation models of which 283 treatment models have been proposed for the natural landscapes, 97 treatments models in agriculture landscapes and 116 models in urban landscapes. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-launches-19000-cr-river-afforestation-plan/article65225046.ece  (14 March 2022)

Addressing the gathering, the Union Environment Minister said that the DPRs are in line with the holistic vision of PM, Narendra Modi of making the coming 25 years as ‘Amrit Kaal’ as these DPRs will create a target of green cover expansion for upcoming 10 years and 20 years, then the future generations will get a ‘Green India’ through the ‘Van Bhagidari and Jan Bhagidari’ of the current generation.

The DPRs focus on protection, afforestation, catchment treatment, ecological restoration, moisture conservation, livelihood improvement, income generation, ecotourism by developing river fronts, eco-parks and bringing awareness amongst the masses. Research and monitoring have also been included as a component. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/environment-ministry-releases-project-reports-for-rejuvenation-of-13-rivers-in-india-11647273729660.html  (14 March 2022)

The rivers identified for the project run through 24 states and two Union Territories.  The 13 rivers collectively cover a total basin area of 18,90,110 sq kms that represents 57.45% of the geographical area of the country. The length of 13 rivers, including 202 tributaries within the delineated riverscapes, is 42,830 km. The largest outlay has been sanctioned for the Yamuna at Rs 3,869 crore and the smallest for Chenab at Rs 376 crore.

“In developing the DPRs, we have not only planned for the rivers, but their tributaries as well. Each river has numerous tributaries – Jhelum has 24, Chenab has 17, Rabi has 6, Brahmaputra has 30, Mahanadi has 7 and Krishna has 13 etc – so we have looked at the entire network of the rivers. Apart from the rejuvenation of the rivers themselves, there are several other important issues which will be tackled through the project including reversal of desertification, the preservation of biodiversity and the protection of wildlife in these areas,’’said Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav.

 “There are three major landscapes along the rivers – natural, agricultural and urban – and plans have been created specifically for these different landscapes including specific plans for each river. The rivers and their basins have been impacted by development – whether it is the expansion of the road network, construction of hydroelectric projects or expansion of agriculture. The most common problems which have been identified include reduced water flow in the rivers, deforestation in the catchment area, fragile ecology, bank and soil erosion, siltation and shifting cultivation. All these issues have led to the poor health of the rivers which is reflected in both the quantity and quality of water. This in turn affects agricultural productivity, livelihood security, public health and aquatic systems,’’said former Deputy Director (Research) ICFRE, S D Sharma, adding that all nine agencies under ICFRE were involved in developing the DPRs, which was initiated in 2019. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/environment-ministry-releases-detailed-reports-for-rejuvenation-of-13-rivers-7820100/  (15 March 2022)

EXCELLENT report by Aathira Perinchery: “There is currently no body to govern the very complex entity that a river is,” Thakkar said. He suggested we need one to monitor the state of India’s rivers and another to coordinate its management. “These are among the bare minimum initial few steps to take to truly rejuvenate our rivers.” https://thewire.in/environment/river-rejuvenation-ganga-blueprint (21 March 2022)

The plan, however, is criticised by experts who note that it is nothing but old wine in a new bottle focusing on plantations without understanding and addressing the real issues behind the degradation of the rivers. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/03/india-proposes-river-rejuvenation-through-plantations/   (18 March 2022)

-The planned plantations could infringe on existing habitation, rights of local people and ownership of land, experts have warned. “The proposal is designed to monetize riverfront land for creating carbon sinks and tourism, both of which can infringe existing habitation, ownership and uses which will need administrative reconciliation,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at the Centre for Policy Research, a think tank. “A socio-ecological audit of the full proposal and entire DPR is essential to map legal conflicts and address potential injustices that such a government-led land monetization exercise may lead to.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-eyes-river-basin-plantation-to-meet-climate-goal-101647922271064.html (22 March 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Study Recently constructed hydropower dams were associated with reduced economic production, population & greenness in nearby areas SIGNIFICANCE: This research provides a global-scale evaluation of the impact of dam construction by using a variety of global spatial databases. In particular, it provides insight into the impacts on economy, population, and greenness of 631 recently built hydropower dams by region and dam size. We discovered that 631 recently built hydropower dams were associated with reduced local economy, population, and greenness in areas within 50 km of the dam sites, particularly in the Global South. This is contrary to claims that dams improve the livelihoods of people as well as ecosystem services. The research highlights that policy interventions are needed to address impacts on populations and urban land near small and medium dams.

ABSTRACT: Hydropower dams produce huge impacts on renewable energy production, water resources, and economic development, particularly in the Global South, where accelerated dam construction has made it a global hotspot. We do not fully understand the multiple impacts that dams have in the nearby areas from a global perspective, including the spatial differentiations. In this study, we examined the impacts of hydropower dam construction in nearby areas. We first found that more than one-third of global gross domestic production (GDP) and almost one-third of global population fall within 50 km of the world’s 7,155 hydropower dams (<10% of the global land area sans the Antarctic). We further analyzed impacts of 631 hydropower dams (≥1-megawatt capacity) constructed since 2001 and commissioned before 2015 for their effects on economy, population, and environment in nearby areas and examined the results in five regions (i.e., Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America) and by different dam sizes. We found that recently constructed dams were associated with increased GDP in North America and urban areas in Europe but with decreased GDP, urban land, and population in the Global South and greenness in Africa in nearby areas. Globally, these dams were linked with reduced economic production, population, and greenness of areas within 50 km of the dams. While large dams were related with reduced GDP and greenness significantly, small and medium dams were coupled with lowered population and urban land substantially, and large and medium dams were connected to diminished night time light noticeably in nearby areas. https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.2108038119  (07 Feb. 2022) https://phys.org/news/2022-03-hydropower-impact-theyre-built.html  (15 March 2022)

Report Dams Becoming More Dangerous to Build as Good Sites Run Out With viable hydro sites scarce, dam builders around the world are pushing into high-risk areas, often based on outdated climate data. Since 1882, when the first commercial hydro plant began operation on the Fox River in Wisconsin, utilities have focused on economically viable spots where rivers flow fast enough to spin turbines. But 140 years later the most suitable sites—especially in the developed world, where financing is easier—have already been tapped, and builders are moving into more hazardous regions such as the Himalayas or deeper into protected areas like the Amazon.

– Swiss Re, which insures hydroelectric projects around the world, insists on 10 years of recent, uninterrupted climate data before offering policies, says Rubem Hofliger, its head of Latin America. “The risk you had in the 1980s isn’t the risk you have in the 2020s. You take a shorter period,” he says. “The problem with developing countries is the lack of data for an adequate index.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-03-15/the-dangerous-future-of-hydroelectric-power  (15 March 2022)

Manipur No impact details given to people of proposed dams over Leimatak River The Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA) and the Nungleiband Village Authority celebrated the International Rivers Day at Nungleiband Village, Noney District, on Monday with the theme “Let us Protect our Rivers for Sustainable Development”. https://www.ifp.co.in/environment/no-impact-details-given-to-people-of-proposed-dams-over-leimatak-river   (15 March 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Opposition by locals leads to rise in project cost Not the public opposition, judicial intervention but absence of proper communication with affected communities, fraudulent EIAs, flaws in planning, corruption are real reasons behind hydro projects facing delays, cost escalation in additional to poor track record of providing promised compensation, rehabilitation to affected people.

Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary on March 16 said that opposition by the local community to hydroelectric power projects and legal cases filed by them were resulting in huge project cost escalation. He was replying to a question asked by Rohit Thakur on the rise in cost in the case of the Sawra Kuddu project during the Question Hour in the Vidhan Sabha.

Chaudhary said that in several hydroelectric projects, people had moved the NGT, leading to an inordinate delay in execution. Rohit Thakur had sought the reasons for escalation in cost of the Sawra Kuddu project and the reduced generation, far below its capacity. The minister said that in several places, difficult geology and terrain also delays projects, resulting in cost escalation. He added that Rs 2,186 crore had been spent on the project. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/opposition-by-locals-leads-to-rise-in-power-project-cost-himachal-power-minister-378219  (16 March 2022)

Uttarakhand Dhari Devi idol to be reinstalled Now, nearly nine years after the deluge in June 2013, the Dharidevi idol that was unceremoniously displaced by the Alaknanda hydro project company days before the disaster is finally going to be reinstalled at the original site on April 6. A temple has been constructed on the location by the hydel power company executing the AHEPP project. Meanwhile, a representative of the company, an entity of the GVK group, said, “The finishing touch was being given as per the demand of the temple association. The date for the formal handover of the temple is yet to be finalised by the administration.”  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/idol-of-dhari-devi-whose-wrath-locals-believe-caused-2013-kedarnath-tragedy-to-be-reinstalled-at-original-temple/articleshow/90209640.cms  (15 March 2022)  

Maharashtra Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has issued a request for proposal for 1.5 MW hydro and 100 MW floating solar power plant at Morbe Dam. https://mercomindia.com/tender-for-1-5-mw-hydroelectric-100-mw-floating-solar/  (17 March 2022)

Under the partnership, up to 1 GW power will be supplied to Adani Group’s proposed industrial complex. Partnership was agreed to on March 14 2022. Greenko has offered upto 6 GW storage capacity from its under development projects in MP and Rajasthan.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/adani-greenko-partner-to-utilise-6-gw-of-pumped-hydro-storage-capacity/90198793  (14 March 2022)

DAMS

Report बांधों पर मंडराता खतरा: टिकाऊ माडल की तलाश संसद द्वारा हाल ही में उपलब्ध कराई जानकारी के अनुसार देश में 100 साल से अधिक पुराने बांधों की संख्या 227 है। उल्लेखनीय है कि इन 227 बांधों को मुख्यतः दो श्रेणियों में विभाजित किया जा सकता है। पहली श्रेणी में वे बांध आवेंगे जिनका निर्माण भारत के परम्परागत विज्ञान के आधार पर किया गया था। दूसरी श्रेणी में वे बांध आवेंगे जिनका निर्माण विदेशी इंजीनियरिंग के आधार पर हुआ है। विदित हो कि पिछली सदी में कुछ परम्परागत बांधों की भंडारण क्षमता बढ़ाने के लिए उनकी मूल डिजायन में बदलाव किया था और उनके मूल वेस्टवियर की ऊँचाई बढ़ाई गई थी। https://hindi.indiawaterportal.org/content/bandhon-per-mandrata-khatra-tikau-model-ki-talash/content-type-page/1319336323  (18 Jan. 2022)

Mekedatu Project CM hints at early implementation Basavaraj Bommai on Friday, March 18 assured an all-party meeting on Inter-State Water Disputes that the government will take all necessary steps to get speedy clearances from the Cauvery Water Management Authority and the Union Environment Ministry.

Speaking to the media representatives after the all-party meeting of both houses of State Legislature in Vidhana Soudha, he also said all-party delegation will be taken to Delhi to exert pressure on the Centre on the urgent need to implement the Mekedatu drinking water project.

He said the government will also take up the issue of Union Environmental Ministry’s approval for utilising the share of water allocated to Karnataka on the Mahadayi river.

He said the Union Government was yet to officially notify the Upper Krishna Krishna Phase 3 project as the matter was pending before the Supreme Court. With two of the judges hearing the matter recusing themselves, the Chief Minister promised to move the apex court Chief Justice to appoint new judges to adjudicate the issue expeditiously.

On the Centre’s proposal on taking Inter-Linking of Rivers, Bommai said the all party leaders demanded that the details of the waters available to Karnataka must be spelt out first and also provide all technical details. The details will be provided as soon as they are made available, he said. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=938410  (18 March 2022)

The Tamil Nadu Assembly adopted a resolution against the Karnataka government’s attempt to build the Mekedatu Dam across the Cauvery river, in what is the latest development in the row between the two states. Earlier this month, Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai had ruled out negotiations with his Tamil Nadu counterpart. The resolution adopted by the Tamil Nadu Assembly was unanimous, with the support of the Tamil Nadu BJP and the Congress. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/mekedatu-dispute-tamil-nadu-assembly-moves-resolution-against-karnataka-162104  (21 March 2022)

Mullaperiyar dam Kerala MP seeks permission to join Mullaperiyar case in SC  https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/mullaperiyar-dean-kuriakose-mp-seeks-permission-to-join-sc-case-on-dam-safety-1.7340021  (13 March 2022)

Sardar Sarovar Project 8 Non-Native Animals Died At SOU Jungle Safari In 1 Year Eight animals brought from different countries for the jungle safari at the Statue of Unity (SOU) have died in the last one year. Forty-five animals and birds brought from other states also could not survive. The state in all brought 22 animals from foreign countries and 141 from other states for the safari park. The park was inaugurated by PM Modi nearly two years ago with much fanfare.

The government said of the three zebras brought to the SOU, only one survived. Four Wallaby and Lama each were brought, of which two of each species survived. Two of the five Alpacas died. Eight of the 22 animals brought from abroad died. A golden pheasant and five other birds brought from other states died. In all, 141 birds and animals from other states were brought, of which 45 died. These include marmoset, blue and silver pheasant and others. Most of them died due to shock while others suffered from respiratory failure, the assembly was told in reply to a question by deputy leader of opposition Shailesh Parmar. https://ahmedabadmirror.com/eight-non-native-animals-died-at-sou-jungle-safari-in-1-year/81825267.html  (18 March 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Linking MLAs demand shifting KBL to Pawai The ruling as well as the opposition MLAs of MP demanded shifting of Ken-Betwa project site from Panna to Pawai in Bundelkhand (Madhya Pradesh, during discussion on Budget in state legislative assembly on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Congress MLA Laxman Singh who interrupted BJP MLA Shailendra Jain, said, “If Ken-Betwa project is shifted to Pawai in Bundelkhand, there will be two benefits. First, Panna Tiger Reserve will not be disturbed and Madhya Pradesh will get maximum water for irrigation in Madhya Pradesh.” BJP MLA Shailendra Jain supported Laxman Singh, stating that if Singh raises the issue, he would support it as it was good for Madhya Pradesh. https://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/bhopal-shift-ken-betwa-project-to-pawai-for-panna-tiger-reserves-safety-more-water-say-mlas  (15 March 2022)

About wildlife clearance:- Subsequently, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) examined the Wildlife Clearance of KBLP, on the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, vide order dated 14.08.2018, in consultation with National Water Development Agency (NWDA), MoEF&CC and Governments of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The CEC submitted its report to the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 30.08.2019. Some issues were raised concerning the likely adverse impact of the project on Panna Tiger Reserve. These concerns have been responded to by the NWDA vide their letter dated 24.07.2020.

– The annual yield of Ken river at proposed Daudhan dam site has been assessed at 6,590 MCM at 75 percent dependability. After reserving 2,266 MCM for upstream requirements in Ken basin and 494 MCM of water for ecological needs, 4,050 MCM of water is proposed to be utilized for irrigation and drinking water. About 442 MCM of water is estimated to be coming back to the streams through regeneration. Thus, there is adequate water available at the location to meet water requirement for the project.

– It is estimated that total submergence due to Daudhan reservoir shall be 9,000 ha including 4,141 ha of Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) core, 1,314 ha of PTR buffer and 2,171 ha of village land of 10 villages. About 1,913 families will be affected in these villages.

– As a part of Stage-I clearance, a Landscape Management Plan (LMP) of entire PTR, including Ken Gharial Sanctuary, is being prepared by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which would provide options for habitat consolidation and conservation of Panna landscape. The proposed Panna landscape has been identified by keeping PTR in the centre and connecting all the adjoining forest divisions as well as Nauradehi (MP), Rani Durgawati (MP) and Ranipur (UP) wildlife sanctuaries. The LMP includes 11 districts (3 in UP and 8 in MP) and a total area of around 47,620 sq. km. Total forest area in the landscape is 12,125 sq. km. The stakeholders as well as the forest managers and experts have been consulted at every stage of preparation of LMP. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1805813   (14 March 2022)

Gujarat Tribals protesting against Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project On March 21, the tribals in Gujarat will hold a public meeting in Kaprada in Valsad district to protest against the Centre’s Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project. This will be the fourth such protest meet after the first on February 28 in Dharampur of Valsad district, the second one on March 5 in Vyara of Tapi district, and the third meet on March 11, in Dang district. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/par-tapi-narmada-river-linking-project-protests-explained-7826710/  (19 March 2022)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Longest vessel sails on Brahmaputra This pilot effort  got stuck at some places as additional dredging was required. https://theprint.in/india/longest-vessel-sails-on-brahmaputra-with-cargo-fit-for-3-trains-how-it-was-done-why-it-matters/876427/ (17 Mar 2022)

IRRIGATION

Uttar Pradesh Irrigation project may lead to waterlogging, floods destruction of agriculture Despite increasing budgets for water conservation and irrigation, real benefits are not reaching the villages of Bundelkhand region. Wrong priorities, poor planning, alienation from people and corruption have all combined to deny badly needed benefits of widely publicized government schemes to the long-suffering people of Bundelkhand. The recent revival of Kachnauda irrigation scheme in Lalitpur district is an example of the authorities refusing to learn from past mistakes. This scheme had been abandoned over a decade back due to the strong opposition of people of several villages. https://www.counterview.net/2022/02/bundelkhand-irrigation-project-may-lead.html  (19 March 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

Mula-Mutha, Pune Comments by Shri Pradeep Purandare on Riverfront Development Project proposal. http://jaagalyaa.in/2022/03/comments-on-the-river-front-development-project/  (16 March 2022)

The city, excluding the newly merged 34 villages, generates more than 744 million litre per day (MLD) sewage while there are 10 STPs installed by the PMC with a capacity of 567 MLD. The gap in treatment is over 200 MLD. The civic body plans to bridge the gap by installing 11 sewage treatment plants of capacity 396 MLD at different locations.

“There has been a delay in the implementation of the project due to administrative failure. The citizens will have to bear the escalated cost of around Rs 550 crore of the project for no mistake of theirs,” said civic activist Vivek Velankar. Moreover, the projection of sewage generation per day was done in 2016 and the situation has changed a lot now, he said adding the PMC is unlikely to fulfil the objective of not releasing untreated sewage water in the river as the actual sewage generation would be much more than estimated by the time the project is complete. “There is no guarantee that untreated sewage will not be released in the river considering the shortage of sewage treatment capacity in the next few years,” Velankar said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-infra-watch-pmc-plans-to-install-11-sewage-treatment-plants-to-clean-mula-mutha-river-7823998/  (17 March 2022)

Godavari; Nasik River dries up before the onset of summer. https://theprint.in/india/as-summer-approaches-godavari-river-drying-up/879284/ (19 March 2022)

NMC urges Smart City body to remove water hyacinth The health department of Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) has urged the Nashik Municipal Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (NMSCDCL) to remove water hyacinth in Godavari river. The civic body has sent a letter to the CEO of NMSCDCL Sumant More in this regard. Civic health officer Rajendra Trimbake said water hyacinth in Godavari is providing breeding spots for mosquitoes. “We need to remove water hyacinth at the earliest before the monsoon begins. The NMC has already started taking precautions to ensure that mosquito breeding spots are not be created in the city. The civic body also conducted a drive to puncture the spot in tributaries of Godavari where water was being accumulated,” Trimbake said.

“The smart city body has already procured trash skimmer to remove water hyacinth. But is being negligent towards removing the water hyacinth. We have already cleared the flow of water that was accumulated in tributaries like Nasardi and Waghadi. Moreover, we also checked 11 nullahs in the city where garbage was being collected. We have urged the solid waste department of the NMC to undertake cleaning activities of these nullahs,” he added. When contacted, More said a private agency has been appointed to operate and maintain the trash skimmer to clean the Godavari river. “The projects are being carried out for the Nashik Municipal Corporation and they are to be handed over to the civic body after completion. The smart city body doesn’t have adequate manpower to operate such things,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/nmc-urges-smart-city-body-to-remove-water-hyacinth/articleshow/90342013.cms  (21 March 2022)

Environmentalists and local representatives on Wednesday (March 16) asked the Nashik Municipal Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (NMSCDCL) to complete the desilting of Godavari river and Gangapur dam. According to them, the measures suggested will protect the works of Godavari beautification being carried out in the red and blue lines on the banks of the river. The demands came during the inspection of the beautification work that the NMSCDCL is undertaking at the banks of the river Godavari in Nashik city. NMSCDCL CEO Sumant More and other officials were present with the environmentalists and other local representatives during their inspection of the works. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/environmentalists-seek-desilting-of-godavari-river-and-gangapur-dam/articleshow/90279417.cms  (17 March 2022)

Tapi; Surat Rs 1,991 cr for riverfront A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) has already been formed for the Tapi riverfront development project with Surat Municipal Commissioner BN Pani as the managing director, and Surat district collector and mayor among other directors. Pani said, “We are happy that the state government is also interested in the Tapi riverfront project and has granted Rs 1,991 crore. The project is estimated to cost over Rs 3,904 crore and will be funded by the state government, the central government and the World Bank. We have sent a Detail Project Report (DPR) to the World Bank for evaluation. If convinced, the World Bank will sanction a loan of Rs 1,500 crore. We are carrying out dredging activity and cleaning of the river.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/surat/rs-1991-crore-for-sabarmati-like-uplift-to-tapi-riverfront-in-surat-7800225/  (04 March 2022)

Gomti, Lucknow River gasps for breath

RIVERS

Veditum India Walking along Sindh This article is written by Bageshwer Singh and Pooja Chand, based on their experiences from walking along River Sindh as part of our Moving Upstream: Sindh Fellowship programme. https://veditum.org/2022/03/14/finding-the-overstory-river-sindh/  (14 March 2022)

Karnataka The govt plan to divert Kali river water to five N Karnataka districts has drawn widespread opposition from people from various walks of life. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/kali-river-project-draws-widespread-flak-in-valley-1093117.html  (20 March 2022)

SPCB presents project on cleaning of rivers, coasts On the lines of Namami Ganga (national mission for cleaning the river Ganga), the government has announced a ‘Blue Plastic’ programme to clean rivers and coastlines in the state. However, no timeline has been decided for the programme. The project, to be executed with funds from World Plan, was proposed by SPCB, but a project plan has not been prepared yet. KSPCB member secretary Srinivasalu said govt will decide who will execute the project.  A senior KSPCB official said the plan will involve district administrations and locals, besides the tourism, revenue, irrigation and forest departments. Plans are also in place to involve tourists in the clean-up drive.

“The project has been delayed because officials from various departments are not able to come on to one platform. While regions in Western Ghats and coastal areas are to be included, choosing the rivers for the project has become a challenge due to political reasons, and also  a matter of image among district administrations and politicians. No one wants their region on the list of polluted water bodies,” the official said.

SPCB presented the project before CM Basavaraj Bommai as a five-year plan, involving experts from the region in the cleanliness and maintenance of water bodies. “So far, a budget estimate has not been prepared for the project. It has been decided that the project will start when everyone is on board, and will be for a five-year duration. This could be after three months or next year, and is for the government to take up,” the official added. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2022/mar/19/kspcb-presents-project-on-cleaning-of-rivers-coasts-to-cm-2431753.html  (19 March 2022)

BRAHMAPUTRA Assam Congress MP seeks Centre’s attention on river bank erosion  Congress MP from Assam, Pradyut Bordoloi, spoke regarding the issue of river bank erosion along the Brahmaputra. He has sought the centre’s urgent attention on the matter.

-Assam is perennially affected by floods and river bank erosion. However, the Government of India does not recognise river bank erosion as a calamity. Floods come twice or thrice a year and go away, but the erosion actually gobbles up large areas of cultivable land. The Centre must address this issue in totality. They should revise their perception of calamity. Assam has lost 4.4 lakh hectares of land due to land erosion.

-It is not just normal land erosion that is happening in Assam. It is river bank erosion. Brahmaputra is widening every year, swallowing hundreds of hectares of land. When the riverbed gets swallowed, flood possibility also gets multiplied. So, the government should view this problem in totality. You have to do topographic surveys, take scientific measures, and you have to change the course of the river.

The government behaves like an ostrich. In the case of Assam, the entire river system is totally dependent on the rivers Brahmaputra and Barak. Brahmaputra originates from Tibet, and the Chinese government has been diverting the course of the river. As a result, the river does not get water inflow from China’s side. They are building multiple dams upstream, which has a cascading effect. All these issues should be examined scientifically, but it is not happening. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/congress-assam-mp-brahmaputra-river-erosion-assam-parliament-7823687/  (17 March 2022)

Arunachal Pradesh 1st Subansiri river rafting competition The ‘Arunachal team’ from Pasighat won the first ever Subansiri River Rafting Competition, finishing a distance of approximately 13 kms from Sippi to Daporijo in 54 minutes. They were followed by the ‘Assam team’ and Daporijo-based ‘Tagin Tigers’, who completed the race in 58 minutes and one hour ten minutes, respectively. The competition was organised by the Arunachal Pradesh Watersports Association (APWA), in collaboration with Arunachal Tourism and the Indian Rafting Foundation (IRF).

Speaking at the award ceremony, Tourism Director Abu Tayeng said that the competition was “a promotional event to study the potential of the Subansiri river for rafting.” “It was also held to study other aspects by the experts to build a future roadmap for such river events in the district,” he said. He said that the competition was supposed to be organised last year but it had to be postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

“Though there was less participation in comparison to national-level events such as the one held on the Siang recently, we look forward to more rafting enthusiasts who will participate in the event in the future,” he said. Tayeng added that this was the first time that a river rafting competition was held in the district. IRF president Shaukat Sikand said that, if the road connectivity improves, the Subansiri river would serve as the best spot for national and international rafting events. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/03/18/arunachal-team-wins-1st-subansiri-river-rafting-competition/  (18 March 2022)

GANGA Uttarakhand Well known Expert and Chair of the Supreme Court appointed High Powered Committee on impact of dams on Uttarakhand flood disaster of 2013 and also on Char Dham Highway, Dr Ravi Chopra to deliver the 2022 River Lecture of India Rivers Forum at 5 pm on March 21, 2022, on the eve of the World Water Day 2022. Plz Join, share and help spread the word.  Registration link:- https://bit.ly/WWD22-IRF

जिस ऑल वेदर रोड की शानदार तस्वीरें नितिन गडकरी ने ट्वीट की हैं, उसकी असली परीक्षा मानसून सीजन में होगी https://www.uttarakhandoutlook.com/2022/03/19/gadkari-showed-pictures-of-all-weather-road-then-questions-started-to-arise/  (19 Dec. 2022)

NMCG DG claims that at several locations Ganga water is bathing quality, a claim that has no independent evidence.

BJP govt ‘prefers’ big business, technocratic, expensive approach Bharat Dogra:-Protection of the Ganga river is one of those tasks in which the government can achieve great success with the enthusiastic involvement of people. Then why is it that success has so far proved so elusive? The available data for Varanasi, the most prioritized place for Ganga protection, reveals that in terms of the essential parameters which define acceptable water fit for bathing, the Ganga here remains much more polluted than what is considered to be clean in scientific terms. https://www.counterview.net/2022/03/cleansing-ganga-bjp-govt-prefers-big.html  (20 March 2022)

Under the Namami Gange Programme, the CPCB is carrying out water quality assessment of the River Ganga at 97 locations in five states through respective SPCBs. A total of 364 projects have been sanctioned under the programme at an estimated cost of ₹ 30,853 crore and 183 projects have been completed and made operational.

“Out of these 364 projects, 160 projects belonging to sewerage infrastructure projects have been taken up for creation and rehabilitation of 5024 MLD of Sewage Treatment Plant capacity and laying of 5,227 km of sewerage network, out of which 76 projects have been completed resulting in creation and rehabilitation of 1,079 MLD of STP capacity and laying of 3,860 km sewerage network,” he said. Rest of the projects are at various stages of implementation, he said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/ganga-river-water-fit-for-bathing-pollution-control-board-2821840  (14 March 2022)

NMCG to sell treated Ganga water to IOCL Approximately 12,000 MLD of sewage is generated in the Ganga basin. DG of NMCG Asok Kumar said the agency will start selling treated water to the IOCL in about a month. “We are starting it with Mathura, a project for 20 MLD of treated water to be given to the IOCL. There is an oil refinery there and the treated water from the Mathura STP will be given as per the requirement of the IOCL. In one month or so we will be able to get that project and it will be the first time in the country that an oil refinery will be taking treated water,” Kumar said.

Kumar said earlier less treated water was generated for sale to industries as very few STPs were functional. “Some of them (STPs) did not even have a power connection, even though they had been completed many years back, which means that they were not running at all. And there was no close monitoring of the water that was coming to the STPs. But now that the STPs are in place and working, we can plan to monetise it (treated water),” he added.

The NMCG DG said the agency is also in talks with the Ayush Ministry on how medicinal plants can be grown on river beds as part of natural farming. “For the last two months, we have been working extensively on Arth Ganga to make that economic connect,” he said. Under the NMCG, a total of 347 projects were sanctioned against a cost of ₹30,255 crore. The projects comprise infrastructure and non-infrastructure development towards rejuvenating the Ganga. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/monetisation-drive-govt-to-sell-treated-ganga-water-to-iocl/article65239962.ece  (19 March 2022)

The Centre is planning to fortify Ganga sludge to use it as fertiliser. NMCG plans to provide it to farmers at subsidised rate. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/centre-planning-to-use-fortified-ganga-sludge-as-substitute-for-chemical-fertilisers/articleshow/90332512.cms  (20 March 2022)

Bihar Embankments, construction projects along rivers ‘devastating’ farmers’ life, livelihood Bharat Dogra:-Reports have pointed to the building up a movement of flood and erosion affected people against denial of promised relief and rehabilitation. In addition longer term issues of the injustice done to people caught between embankments on two sides are also being raised. https://www.counterview.net/2022/03/embankments-construction-projects-along.html  (18 March 2022)

Kanpur Angry workers shut Ganga Barrage pumping stations UP Jal Nigam’s outsourced workers shut down all 12 zonal pumping stations of Ganga Barrage in Kanpur due to non-payment of salaries for 10 months, which resulted in no water supply to nearly half a million population in the city on Monday (March 14). These plants supply 60 MLD water to over 10 lakh population in South city and other areas of Kanpur. On Sunday (March 13), the operators had also closed the raw water plant, which draws water from the Ganga. This led to closure of two water treatment plants, said officials. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/angry-workers-shut-ganga-barrage-pumping-stns-kanpur-s-water-supply-hit-101647268415047.html  (14 March 2022)

Varanasi खिड़किया घाट के पास अतिक्रमण देख डीएम नाराज https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi/story-dm-angry-seeing-encroachment-near-khirkiya-ghat-6047170.html  (17 March 2022)

YAMUNA Uttar Pradesh NGT calls for action against floodplain encroachment NGT directed the DM)of Mathura to initiate action against “encroachment” of the Yamuna floodplain after a joint committee comprising statutory authorities submitted its report confirming some “unauthorised” activities in the area. The committee submitted its report after visiting the site on January 12 and 13. The report suggested the demarcation of boundaries of the river bank. Responsible authorities must be identified for the protection of the floodplain, it added.

“We do not find any reason to reject the report, which is also backed by photographs. Accordingly, the report is accepted,” stated the tribunal during a hearing last week. In his plea to the tribunal, applicant Behari Lal Chaturvedi stated that the Yamuna Mission, which was founded in 2015, had an “evil eye on the ghats” skirting the Yamuna river. “Though they claimed to preserve, beautify, and cleanse the holy river, their acts and deeds, so far, have established the fact that they are perfect encroachers…for wrongful gains,” he alleged.

The joint committee report, which was submitted to the NGT last month, observed that the Yamuna Mission constructed about 25 to 100-metre-wide earthen corridors on the Yamuna river banks, which stretch about six-eight km. In the corridor, a lot of barbed wire fencing and small cemented brick walls were made. Some sewage effluent drains were also diverted. However, no permission was granted to them for carrying out the construction on the bank. While hearing Chaturvedi’s plea, the tribunal directed the DM to take action by implementing recommendations of the joint committee along with the district forest officer, Mathura, and coordinating with the concerned departments. “Demarcation of the floodplain zone be done and development of a green belt and other river-front development activities should be carried out without any unauthorised and unregulated encroachments,” the order stated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/uttar-pradesh-ngt-calls-for-action-against-yamuna-floodplain-encroachment/articleshow/90332800.cms  (20 March 2022)

Rajasthan 50 crocodiles killed at Kota’s Kala Talab in a month, say activists The construction of a park and other beautification activities at Kala Talab under a proposed residential housing scheme by the Urban Improvement Trust (UIT) has allegedly led to the killing of around 50 crocodiles in a month. UIT has denied killing crocodiles. According to Schedule 1 (animals) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, this crime can land a man in jail for seven years.

The project worth over Rs 19.95 crore under the proposed residential housing scheme by UIT in 74,000 square meters has been underway since October last year. The Kala Talab is stretched over an area of 47,700 sqm and is home to hundreds of crocodiles. A huge amount of soil and fly ash is being poured into the Kala Talab to fill up a larger portion of it to develop the park and beautify its surroundings. This has allegedly killed around 50 crocodiles in the last one month, said a resident from a nearby area seeking anonymity, producing pictures of the carcasses of the crocodiles.

Deficiency of oxygen led to the death of the animals, he said. He alleged that the dead crocodiles were buried into the soil under moving trucks before anyone knew. On a few occasions, stray dogs were spotted consuming the meat, he said, adding that he missed clicking pictures of that incident. “Kala Talab falls in the category of wetlands, however, it has not been declared a wetland. It is a richer wetland with surviving crocodiles and it cannot be disturbed by any kind of construction or human activity, said Tapeshwar Singh Bhati, a wildlife activist, who filed a complaint with the UIT on Friday. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/50-crocodiles-killed-at-kotas-kala-talab-in-a-mth-activists/articleshow/90003796.cms  (05 March 2022)

SAND MINING

Uttarakhand HC orders govt to stop mining along Ganga in Haridwar Hearing a petition by Haridwar-based ashram, Matri Sadan, against mining activities along the Ganga in Haridwar, the high court on Wednesday (March 16) ordered the state government to temporarily halt all mining operations between Raiwala and Bhogpur areas of the district. The division bench of acting chief justice Sanjay Kumar Mishra and justice RC Khulbe also made MCG a party in the case and asked the government to submit its response to the petition within two weeks.

In its petition, Matri Sadan has requested the court to stop mining, stone crushing, and quarrying along the Ganga in Haridwar. Besides, the PIL also asks for keeping stone crushers at least 5 km away from Ganga and shutting down all hydel projects on the revered river and its tributaries. The petition also points out that the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change had, in 2020, prohibited mining in the four areas of Haridwar — Bishanpur, Shyampur, Bhogpur and Chidiyapur. The decision was taken after an NMCG order (dated October 9, 2018) to this effect. However, the Uttarakhand forest department is undertaking mining in these areas in violation of the order, adds the petition. Earlier, on January 22, Haridwar district magistrate, in a meeting with Matri Sadan representatives, had said that mining activities ongoing in the stretches that have been given on lease cannot be stopped. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/hc-orders-ukhand-govt-to-stop-mining-along-ganga-in-haridwar/articleshow/90277377.cms  (17 March 2022)

Uttar Pradesh पत्रकार को हिस्ट्रीशीटर बनाने के मामलें में हाईकोर्ट ने मांगा जवाब एक दशक से ज्यादा वक्त हुआ जब आशीष लगातार बुंदेलखंड में पर्यावरण की आवाज हैं। गृहक्षेत्र बाँदा पुलिस प्रशासन (Banda Police) ने कूटरचित तरीके से उन्हें मौरम-बालू माफियाओं की मेहरबानी में पुराने गड़े मुर्दे केस उखाड़कर हिस्ट्रीशीटर बना दिया है। तब जबकि सभी मुकदमों की फेहरिस्त में राजनीतिक रसूखदार और बाहुबली शामिल है। वहीं ज्यादातर मुकदमों में खुद पुलिस ने एफआर कोर्ट में दाखिल की हैं। बुंदेलखंड ज़िला बाँदा के रहने वाले व्हिसिल ब्लोअर और पत्रकार आशीष सागर दीक्षित (Ashish Sagar Dixit) को हिस्ट्रीशीटर बनाने के मामलें में इलाहाबाद हाई कोर्ट की डिवीजन बेंच ने गृह सचिव यूपी सहित एसपी बाँदा से जवाब मांगा हैं। वार्ता में आशीष सागर ने बताया कि 14 मार्च को इलाहाबाद उच्चन्यायालय की डिवीजन बेंच में याचिका की सुनवाई हुई हैं। https://janjwar.com/samaj/banda-ke-whistle-blower-aur-journalist-ko-histrisheeter-banane-ke-mamle-mei-highcourt-ne-banda-police-se-manga-jawab-top-latest-hindi-news-in-ashish-sagar-live-808443  (16 March 2022)

Haryana NGT has fined a BSP MLC and his partner Rs 50 Cr for illegal mining in Haryana in Yamuna riverbed.

CM refuses CBI probe into Dadam incident Congress MLAs led by Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda today walked out of the Assembly after CM Manohar Lal Khattar rejected their demand for a CBI probe into the alleged illegal mining at Dadam hills in Bhiwani. Five persons had died in a landslide on January 1. The government submitted that the Justice Pritam Pal panel had found that the site was part of a seasonal distributary and had got damaged due to plying of heavy vehicles. To further ascertain the damage, satellite imagery was being studied, it said. The government said illegal mining in Aravalli plantation area had been detected and at some places, pits as deep as 350 to 360 feet had been dug up, which was a violation. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/mining-khattar-says-no-to-cbi-probe-oppn-protests-377833  (15 March 2022)

21K illegal mining cases in 7 years According to the Economic Survey of Haryana for 2021-22, tabled before the Legislative Assembly on March 8, a total of 21,450 illegal mining cases were detected in the state, including transportation of minerals without valid documents, from 2014-15 up to September 2021. This comes to eight cases per day or a case every three hours. The penalty realised during the same period was Rs 5,094.95 lakh.

In 2019-20, a total of 1,492 cases were detected and a penalty of Rs 347.12 lakh was realised. In 2020-21, a total of 4,281 cases were detected and Rs 1,076.63 lakh penalty was realised, while in 2021-22 (up to September 2021), Rs 464.87 lakh was realised in 712 cases. From August 28, 2019, to January 15, 2022, a total of 7,113 vehicles found indulging in illegal mining have been seized in the state. With 1,282 vehicles, Yamunanagar tops the seizure, followed by Gurugram and Nuh (916), Mahendragarh and Narnaul (762), and Faridabad and Palwal (755). https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/21k-illegal-mining-cases-across-haryana-in-over-7-years-376497  (10 March 2022)

Maharashtra HC stops govt from giving sand mining contract on Savitri  Taking note of the government not informing it of extending an expired mechanised sand mining contract, Bombay high court has temporarily restrained the award of contracts in any form on an 11 km stretch of Savitri river in Raigad district. “We make it clear that for this 11 km stretch of Savitri river no award in any form of sand mining or dredging whether mechanised or by hand is to be awarded until the next date,” said Justices Gautam Patel and Madhav Jamdar on March 17. They want “the original file of all contracts awarded” on this stretch.

Hearing three petitions, the HC on March 8, 2022 stayed the State’s auction notice for mechanised sand mining/excavation of various tracts of land across the 11 km stretch from Vicharwadi to Dasgaon. The petitions said villagers had an exclusive right to hathpati or manual excavation. Told that the collector permitted mechanised dredging, the HC on March 14 stopped all dredging works. The State’s advocate said it was a 2021 contract that was extended. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/bombay-hc-stops-maharashtra-govt-from-giving-sand-mining-contract-on-savitri-river-in-raigad/articleshow/90339911.cms  (20 March 2022)

Odisha NGT panel to probe illegal sand mining NGT’s East Zone bench in Kolkata on March 15  has constituted a committee to probe alleged illegal mining of sand by a lessee from Budhabalanga river at Dingiria under Badsahi Tahasil in Mayurbhanj district on an application which came up with allegations of illegal mining by a lessee without renewal of environmental clearance (EC) and consent to operate (CTO) and excess mining causing huge loss to the state exchequer.

‘The SPCB shall act as the Nodal office for all logistic purposes,’ the bench said, while directing the committee to inspect the site in question with regard to the allegations made by the applicant and submit its report within a period of one month. The bench fixed April 22 as next date for hearing of the case. Radha Mohan Singh, a resident of the region filed the petition alleging illegal mining of sand over 878 acres leasehold area. Advocate Sankar Prasad Pani appeared on the petitioner’s behalf. The EC and CTO were granted to the lessee in 2017 and were valid up to March 31, 2021.

According to the order, the petition had pointed out that the daily mining permissible limit is 9 cubic metres and annual sand mining capacity is 2,000 cubic metres whereas the lessee is extracting 2,295 cubic metres per day and 4.819 lakh cubic metres per year which is 240 times of the permissible limit. Consequently, it was causing huge revenue loss to the State exchequer of around Rs 43.68 crore considering the value of one cubic metre of sand to be Rs 1,365 in addition to environmental degradation. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/mar/17/ngt-panel-to-probe-illegal-sand-mining-2431070.html  (17 March 2022)

NGT lens on recovery of mining money NGT has directed the district magistrate & collector (Keonjhar) to appear before it in connection with the recovery of Rs 7.30 crore environmental compensation from those involved in illegal mining of laterite stone in Madanpur under Ghasipura tehsil. Expressing dissatisfaction over the sluggish pace of recovery, NGT’s east zone bench in Kolkata asked the district magistrate & collector (Keonjhar), along with the Ghasipura tehsildar “to be present physically before the tribunal on April 29”.

The green body issued the order after state counsel Samapika Mishra informed on Tuesday (March 15) that a total amount of Rs 2,21,746 had been recovered as on that day. The tribunal observed that the total recovered amount is just 0.25% of the Rs 7.30 crore environmental compensation computed to be recovered from illegal miners in 2019. The bench of Justice B Amit Sthalekar (judicial member) and Justice Saibal Dasgupta (expert member) directed the government to file an affidavit indicating what steps have been taken for the recovery of the remaining amount. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/cuttack/odisha-ngt-lens-on-recovery-of-mining-money/articleshow/90307166.cms  (18 March 2022)

What Happens When Conditions of Conditional Green Clearances Aren’t Met? The Supreme Court has directed Odisha to implement a wildlife management plan before it allowed 97 stone quarries to operate near the Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary. The quarries got the licence to operate after the National Board for Wildlife cleared their proposal in 2017, on the condition that the operators implement a “wildlife management plan”. But an attendant ‘monitoring committee’, to supervise the plan, was never formed and a plan has still not been finalised – while quarrying activities kicked off. This is just one of a slew of recent instances in which important conditions attached to clearances have been barely monitored – and much less met. https://science.thewire.in/environment/national-board-for-wildlife-conditional-environmental-clearance-monitoring-lapses/  (17 March 2022)

Jharkhand Opposition attacks govt over illegal sand mining Irfan Ansari, an MLA of the Congress, an ally of the ruling dispensation, also hit out at the police accusing it of minting money from sand truckers in his Jamtara constituency. Pointing out that there are 608 sand ghats in the state, AJSU party chief and Silli MLA Sudesh Mahto said “Of the total, 22 sand ghats are operated by the corporation (Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation). I would like to ask the government as to who has been operating the remaining 586 sand ghats for the past two years.” The AJSU party chief said that in the absence of legal operation of the sand ghats, huge revenue loss was being incurred by the public exchequer. “In 2019-20, as many as 888 sand vehicles were seized and a sum of Rs 409 lakh was realised. In 2020-21, 1,082 vehicles were seized and Rs 248 lakh was realised. A total of 1,325 vehicles were seized in 2021-22 and Rs 268 lakh was realised,” Mahto said.

“The state government had assured that sand trucks used for transporting construction materials within the state would not be seized by the police. But over 10,000 sand trucks are rotting in police stations,” BJP legislator Biranchi Narayan said. BJP legislative party leader Babulal Marandi demanded that until the government can find any solution to un-auctioned sand ghats, sand trucks should not be stopped by the police for carrying construction materials within the state. Independent MLA Saryu Roy, NCP legislator Kamlesh Kumar Singh, and BJP legislator Bhanu Pratap Sahi termed it a serious issue and sought immediate intervention from the government.

Replying to the issue, Jharkhand Minister Badal Patralekh said, “The selection of MDOs (mine developer and operators) is under process for 586 sand ghats, which will be completed within 15 days. Till now, no one is operating them legally.” Badal assured the House that he would write a letter to the police department directing all police stations not to harass vehicles involved in sand transportation and action will be taken if such incidents are reported. https://theprint.in/india/opposition-attacks-jharkhand-govt-over-illegal-sand-mining/863985/  (08 March 2022)

Goa Mining damage, govt apathy push Pissurlem farmers to edge Once the rice bowl of Sattari, Pissurlem’s fields have turned into barren lands over the years. Last week’s farmers’ protest for irrigation water, followed by their arrest and alleged assault by police, has brought the woes of village agriculturists into focus. Iron ore mining accelerated in the 1990s due to mechanisation, which eventually saw perennial water sources of Pissurlem dry up. Recently, the farmers approached the high court, which in 2020 directed that water be pumped from abandoned mining pits to provide irrigation supply to Pissurlem’s farmers.

It was when the supply was not initiated this summer that the farmers decided to protest, in turn, leading to their alleged arrest and assault. Even though the district mineral foundation has agreed to make the necessary financial provision to pump water from mining pits, the farmers remain angry at the government’s apathy. “Under natural conditions, rainwater percolates down into the soil and gradually emerges as lean period flow. But haphazard mining excavation has cut off the lean period flow and this has dried up streams and river beds. This forced us to give up agricultural activities that were once thriving in 80 acres of land at Deulwada,” said Hanumant Parab, who was spearheading the protest.

On Sunday (March 13), social activist Ganpat Gaonkar from Kumbharkhan and Abhijit Prabhudesai of the voluntary organisation Rainbow Warriors held a meeting with affected farmers at Dhatwada, Pissurlem. Here, farmers resolved to launch a state wide agitation to protest the government’s insensitive handling of the issue. The farmers said that they had written to all the authorities concerned, including chief minister Pramod Sawant, about the high court directives on water supply not being implemented. Yet, there has been no action, farmers said. The final nail, said the farmers, was the government not ensuring compliance of the high court orders, even after they fought it out in courts at their own expense to receive favourable directives. Babuso Shablo Gaude from Dhatwada said that frequent erosion of mining dumps and accumulation of its silt in paddy fields has resulted in declined productivity. “We have asked mining companies to desilt fields and provide irrigation water. However, neither the companies nor the government are interested,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/mining-damage-govt-apathy-push-pissurlem-farmers-to-edge/articleshow/90210474.cms  (15 March 2022)

Gujarat Concerned raised over rising land due to lignite mining Land has risen in the period March 9-March 17, 2022 at the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation’s (GMDC) lignite mining site at the Bhuteshwar-Bhumbhali village in Bhavnagar district, according to a statement by Vadodara-based non-profit, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS). The land has risen approximately 10 metres in height and 700 metres in width.

This is the fourth such incident in the last four years, according to Rohit Prajapati of PSS. Similar incidents were observed in 2019 at Thordi village, in 2020 at Badi–Hoidad village and in 2021 at Badi village. All these sites are in Bhavnagar district. Prajapati visited all these sites. “On October 1, 2021, PSS visited the mining waste dumpsite 350 metres away from the residential area of Badi Village. We observed that the dumpsite was sinking. On October 3, we estimated it too have sunk by about 25-30 feet deep and around 150 metres in length,” the statement said.

The environmentalists also observed that the Maleshree river, that flows 350 metres away from the residential area of Badi village and the village pastoral land, located about 1.5 kilometres away from the village, were contaminated due to illegal mining waste being dumped into them. The village pastoral land was being rendered unfit for agriculture and animal husbandry needs, according to PSS. The PSS urged an immediate halt on all mining activities till the reason for the unusual occurrence was ascertained. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/mining/gujarat-environmentalists-concerned-over-rising-land-in-bhavnagar-say-lignite-mining-to-blame-81999  (17 March 2022)

Opinion World is running out of useful sand Much of the world’s concrete will disintegrate and need to be replaced. Unfortunately, as ludicrous as it may seem, the world is running out of the sand needed for reconstruction. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/scientifically-speaking-the-world-is-running-out-of-useful-sand-101647415549457.html  (16 March 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Centre Census to count water bodies Ministry of Jal Shakti has launched the first census of water bodies in convergence with the Sixth Minor Irrigation Census (reference year 2017-18), under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme – “Irrigation Census”. The objective of the census of water bodies is to develop a national database for all water bodies by collecting information on all important aspects of the subject including their size, condition, status of encroachments, use, storage capacity etc. Presently, the field work and data processing activities of the first census of water bodies is going on. However, as per currently available data, the tentative figures of State-wise number of water bodies is provided in Annexure I. The data of water bodies upto fifth minor irrigation census is limited upto village level whereas first census of water bodies, conducted in convergence with sixth Minor Irrigation Census, covers all types of water bodies in both rural and urban areas. Hence, comparison of water bodies data between fifth and sixth minor irrigation censuses is not feasible. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1805815   (14 March 2022)

Jal Shakti Ministry PR on 140322: Government has launched the first Census of Water bodies in convergence with the Sixth round of Minor Irrigation Census (reference year 2017-18), under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- “Irrigation Census”. The objective of the Census of Water bodies is to develop a national database of all water bodies in the country. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1805822  (14 March 2022)

Tamil Nadu Notification for wetlands under process, TNWA tells HC Tamil Nadu Wetland Authority (TNWA) has informed the Madras High Court that it needed to consult the concerned government departments before finalising the draft for notifying 100 wetlands in the State. Additional Advocate General (AAG) J Ravindran filed an additional affidavit before the first bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy on Thursday (March 03), while hearing of a suo motu case on wetland conservation, on behalf of Deepak Srivastava, additional principal chief conservator of forests and member secretary of TNWA.

He said Tamil Nadu Finance Minister announced a programme, Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission (TNWM), for ecological restoration of 100 wetlands in a period of five years for improving the livelihood of the dependent communities. Of the hundred wetlands identified, draft notification proposals for 29  have been submitted to the State. The ecological restoration mandatorily requires notification of the wetlands, for which, the concerned government departments have to be consulted before getting approval on the draft notification from the State government; and this has led to procedural delay, the affidavit stated. Seeking four weeks, the affidavit informed that the draft would be put up in the public domain for a period of 60 days. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/mar/04/notification-for-wetlands-under-process-tnwa-tells-madras-hc-2426110.html  (04 March 2022)

Delhi DDA asks SWA to remove 221 waterbodies from wetlands list State Wetland Authority (SWA) has received requests from land-owning agencies to “remove” as many as 221 water bodies from the official list of 1,043 water bodies identified and geo-tagged by the Delhi government over the last two years, citing ongoing development work or existing finished structures at the spot where the water bodies once stood. Of the requests, 215 locations come under the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the other six belong to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). Delhi lieutenant governor (LG) Anil Baijal has taken strong objection to removal of certain bodies, said officials, adding that he held a review meeting with members of various government departments, experts and SWA officials on Thursday. An expert committee, comprising of at least two wetland experts, is now likely to review the status of these water bodies, officials said.

Data shared by SWA with the LG during the meeting showed among the 221 spots, 62 water bodies currently have a building at the site; 52 are now being used to provide public services; 14 have educational institutes; and 11 sites have been turned into parks and recreational centres. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/remove-221-spots-from-city-wetlands-list-authority-told-101647295457612.html  (15 March 2022)

SWA has asked all land-owning agencies in the Capital to test samples from water bodies to assess how many fail to meet pollution standards in order to take corrective action. While it is mandatory to test water samples monthly as per the CPCB’s Guidelines for Restoration of Water Bodies, 2019, such an assessment was last done in Delhi only from March until May 2020, with 115 water bodies then found to be meeting the Class D criterion (propagation of wildlife and fisheries), officials said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhis-wetland-authority-orders-agencies-to-test-city-water-bodies-101647815930580.html  (21 March 2022)

Noida A wetland waits for conservation Dhanauri is a wetland. But its marshy ground, half submerged in water and covered with foliage, is yet to be declared one. Over the years, birders and environmentalists vying for a sight of the sarus crane — a threatened species — and other winged visitors have thronged the region in Gautam Budh Nagar. Until its notification under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules is pending, there is no mechanism in place to conserve the area. They say this notification as a “Ramsar” site by the UP government will ensure conservation of the 100-150 hectare area and protect its rich ecosystem.

Although identified as a wetland by environmentalists in 2014, the district forest department sent a proposal to the UP government in January to declare Dhanauri as a “Ramsar” site. It is yet to get a formal response. Forest department officials this week reiterated that the process of notification has already begun.

The locals agree too. For them, Dhanauri’s conservation can spur tourism and economy of nearby villages — Dhanauri, Amipur, Thasrana and Bhatta — where most livelihoods still rely on farming. There are also residents like Yasim Khan of Bhatta village for whom protecting Dhanauri is relevant not just for economic welfare but because it’s their home. Experts say conservation models built with the involvement of locals have turned out to be successful in the past.

Dhanauri is not just a stop for hundreds of migratory birds in the winter but also home to sarus cranes — mighty birds with a wingspan of 240cm and grey plumage flushed with red on the head and upper neck. Data from the 2018 bird count shows that UP hosts more than half (14,000) of all sarus cranes in the world, and 150 of these are in Dhanauri – a number birders say is on a decline.

Among the problems they foresee is the possibility of rampant concretization in vicinity of the wetland. “Private players just 2km from here are acquiring lands. Concretisation will further reduce its chances of survival for long,” said Harsh Vardhan, a birder and the grandson of Jaipal Singh Pradhan. Dr Patar also pointed out that Dhanauri is a land-locked area. “So any development work will be done from all sides. Even the construction of high-rises can affect migratory birds and any large settlements can impact ground water levels,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/a-wetland-waits-for-conservation-so-do-youths-in-villages-around-it/articleshow/90341649.cms  (21 March 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir 3 held for allegedly poaching migratory birds in Narkara wetland Police on Monday arrested three men for allegedly poaching migratory birds in Narkara wetland in Budgam district. Quoting official sources, news agency KDC reported that the trio identified as Ali Mohammad Najar son of Mohammad Akbar Najar, Umar Majeed Bhat son of Ab Majeed Bhat and Ishfaq Majeed Bhat son of Ab Majeed Bhat, all residents of Nadir Gund Humhama was apprehended by a police party following a complaint in this regard by Range officer Wildlife Control Room Srinagar. An official said that three bore guns, five live cartridges, one empty cartridge and a mobile phone were recovered from the trio’s possession. A case under FIR no 65/2022 under section 428/IPC, 51 Wildlife Act 3/25 has been registered in Police Station Budgam and investigation has been taken up. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/kashmir/three-held-for-allegedly-poaching-migratory-birds-in-narkara-wetland  (14 March 2022)

Opinion Healthy wetlands vital for sustainable cities Sidharth Kaul, Ritesh Kumar WISAPresently, protection of wetlands supported by the ministry under various schemes includes 250 sites. India has also designated 47 wetlands as Ramsar Sites, of which as many as eight are located within urban and peri-urban spaces. Wetlands are often managed with singular sectoral approaches, such as recreation and amenity values, fisheries, and water storage. The complex drivers of wetlands degradation cannot be addressed by piecemeal, sectoral approaches, which do not always address long-term concerns.

India’s dominant urban planning approaches have been infrastructure-dominated so far, enabling tapping upstream sources for meeting water needs and sending waste and run-off downstream in the shortest possible time. With catchments highly fragmented, in several cases, drained wetlands are filled up with untreated and treated sewage, and touted as restoration projects. The limitations of such approaches are evident in cities being increasingly parched, exposed to floods and droughts, and increasingly water insecure. Management of wetlands within the boundary of urban areas is often missed out within these approaches. There are increasing trends of urban agglomerations worldwide, integrating wetlands restoration within their urban plans and processes.

The future of urban wetlands is closely linked to how these ecosystems are integrated within urban development. Wetlands need to be recognized as natural infrastructure solutions for urban development.  Urban planners need to integrate wetlands within the town and country plans, with due consideration of their connectivity across landscape. Urban wetlands need to be managed in an integrated manner at the catchment scale, considering their ecological, hydrological, and socioeconomic features and factors governing these features.

Improving the connectivity of wetlands with catchments flows in particular is critical. Natural shorelines should be maintained and concretisation prevented. Untreated sewage should not be drained into the wetlands. Urban local bodies, resident welfare committees, and civil society should be meaningfully engaged in managing and restoring urban wetlands. This could be done through sensitisation, behavioural change communication, education, and awareness campaigns.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/ht-insight/healthy-wetlands-vital-for-sustainable-cities-101647528749271.html  (17 March 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

SANDRP Blog World Water Day 2022: India’s Positive Groundwater Stories March 22 is celebrated as World Water Day (WWD) since 1993 to underline the significance of freshwater resources. The theme for 2022 WWD is Groundwater which has become India’s water lifeline at least for the last four decades for most of urban and rural areas, be it supply of potable, irrigation or industrial use. The large scale unsustainable extraction and pollution of this invisible finite resource has been causing grave concern.

However, there are several indigenous viable alternatives and governance mechanism which can reverse the groundwater depletion trend and fulfil water requirements. We here compile top 10 positive groundwater stories of last one year. It is worth mentioning that most of these remarkable efforts are result of MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Authority) scheme. https://sandrp.in/2022/03/21/world-water-day-2022-indias-positive-groundwater-stories/  (19 March 2022)

Maharashtra Mapping step-wells: Rohan Kale sets an example A conservationist has set an example how community mobilisation and participation of people can create wonders for water conservation. Rohan Kale, a Human Resource professional has successfully mapped and documented 1650 step wells across the state in an effort to revive the dying natural water sources. He has travelled over 14,000 km across the state.

– According to Kale, step wells in the state are found on every important pilgrimage routes like Nashik to Tryambakeshwar and Pune to Tuljapur. A lot of the step wells were constructed during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

– Kale’s love for historical structures made him to map different monuments and in the process he learnt the importance of reviving the drying step wells. What started as a passion last year has now turned into a conservation project and Kale is also getting support from 14 architecture colleges for his campaign. https://www.news18.com/news/mission-paani/community-participation-in-water-conservation-maharashtras-rohan-kale-sets-an-example-4865729.html  (14 March 2022)

World Water Heritage 23-AUG-2021, by Ms. Victoria Lautman and Mr. Rohan Kale https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4qIQ8VxIL0  (23 Aug. 2021)

Delhi 9 new waterbodies to be created, mostly near STPs DJB is working on creating nine new waterbodies to recharge the groundwater level in the capital. Delhi government plans to efficiently use the treated water at sewage and water treatment plants. For this, work is on to create lakes and ponds near these plants, while treated water is being provided to large farms for horticulture purposes. LG Anil Baijal reviewed the progress of the steps taken in this direction last Friday (March 04). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/9-new-waterbodies-to-be-created-mostly-near-stps/articleshow/90210569.cms  (15 March 2022)

Bangalore since 2012 has reduced non revenue water from 49% to about 34% and the work is still on: https://www.deccanherald.com/city/reducing-water-loss-drop-by-drop-pipe-by-pipe-1092899.html  (20 March 2022)

Hyderabad Historic Katora Houz gets fresh lease of life After rejuvenating the Langar Houz lake, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Khairatabad zone officials have now cleaned the historic Katora Houz. The Katora Houz was built in the 16th century by Qutub Shahi rulers as a freshwater storage tank. However, hit by apathy over the decades, the water body turned into an eyesore with water hyacinth covering the complete lake. Following this, the civic body deployed a team of 18 personnel equipped with required machinery and within 10 days, were able to remove the water hyacinth and fish out the garbage from the water body using an earthmover.

This tank for several years remained under a sheet water hyacinth and garbage apart from turning into a mosquito breeding ground causing severe inconvenience to nearby residents. In the year 2021, the tank was cleaned using a floating trash collector but the water hyacinth returned to gradually cover the entire tank. This resulted in the civic body having to take up the cleaning exercise. Meanwhile, officials of the civic body said that Shah Hatim Talab, another Qutb Shahi-era water body located in Khairatabad zone is also being cleaned and at present, half of the water body is free from water hyacinth. Here, the water hyacinth is being removed using a floating trash collector at a brisk pace. https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabads-historic-katora-houz-gets-fresh-lease-of-life  (20 March 2022)

Step wells were once an elaborate water management system in Hyderabad, helping slake the city’s thirst and keep the water table up. The city’s administration, with the help of private bodies, is now at at work to revive some of them. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/in-frames-a-step-up-for-groundwater/article65242969.ece/photo/1/  (20 March 2022)

Jharkhand Professor finds a green solution to water hyacinth problem A professor of botany in Jharkhand has formulated a technique to make organic fertilizers and medicines from water hyacinth. Dr Prasenjit, professor at KKM College, Pakur, claimed the technique will not only make chemical-free fertilizers available at a cheaper rate but also help conserve the environment as the presence of water hyacinth decreases oxygen level of the water body.

Water hyacinth is the world’s largest aquatic weed and an invasive plant, as one pair of it could multiply up to 48,000 times in one season. The methanation caused by it makes a direct impact on global warming and hampers fishing activity. Dr Prasenjit said the most effective form of controlling water hyacinth is controlling it physically, which includes huge manpower, but it again gets decomposed. “My research is focused on controlling it through utilisation, for which it is converted into raw material and used for making organic compost,” said Dr Prasenjit. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2022/mar/21/jharkhand-professor-finds-a-green-solution-to-water-hyacinth-problem-2432463.html  (21 March 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Uttar Pradesh GAG seeks policy to check depleting groundwater Groundwater Action Group (GAG) on Sunday (March 20) wrote to UP State Groundwater Management and Regulatory Authority, requesting it to make a detailed policy to check fast depleting ground water resources in the state due to indiscriminate extraction. The policy should be based on the availability and capacity of the ground water acquifiers present in a particular area, it added. The GAG, which includes retired geoscientists, senior hydrologists and water experts, in its letter to UP chief secretary, who is also chairperson of the UP State Groundwater Management and Regulatory Authority, said the use of ground water for various activities has increased manifold in the state for the past two decades. Since the rate of replenishment is not adequate, excessive extraction of ground water resources may directly affect the economy of the state and lead to gio-environment hazards, the experts added.

The GAG said many dynamic or shallow groundwater acquifers have dried up in many parts of the state due to execessive extraction and now static or deep acquifers are being drained out. The static acquifers are recharged by Himalayan resources, but the rate of which is slow in comparison to the extraction, hence a balance is required for better management. “As per the central underground water board, groundwater depletion of UP is under-reported as extraction for irrigation and drinking water is only being counted. It does not include extraction being done through submersible pumps for various other activities such as construction, manning, horticulture and other commercial and domestic purposes,” said GAG coordinator RS Sinha. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/gag-seeks-policy-to-check-depleting-groundwater-in-up/articleshow/90342304.cms  (21 March 2022)

Haryana Kurukshetra preparing water resources plan Kurukshetra is one of the top groundwater extractors among all districts in the state and to improve the groundwater table, the administration is preparing a district water resources plan. There is a shortfall (water gap between availability and extraction) of about 500 million cubic meters of water per year in Kurukshetra.

Executive Engineer of the Irrigation Department Gurvinder Singh, said: “Different departments have been involved. Interventions, including using the defunct borewells of Public Health Department as recharge structures, recharging of the borewell near the Brahma Sarovar so that the excess water could be utilized, and rejuvenation of the Saraswati channel and Bibipur lake, will be proposed in the plan for the first year. There will be a target to reduce the shortfall by 10 per cent in the first year and then, the target will be increased to 20 and 30 per cent in the next two years. The plan is likely to be prepared in two months and will be submitted to the state authorities.

The state government has established the Haryana Water Resources Authority (HWRA) for the conservation, regulation and management of water resources in the state, under which the authorities have made district water resource planning committees across the state to prepare plans comprising block-wise and area-wise plans.

An action plan with a three-year perspective will be prepared and there will be a focus on the optimal use of groundwater and surface water resources, adoption of micro-irrigation techniques and crop diversification to reduce the demand for freshwater, efficient canal water supply system for less groundwater extraction, maximum reuse of treated wastewater to reduce dependency on freshwater, groundwater recharge system and rainwater harvesting structures rejuvenation of ponds and lakes. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/depleting-groundwater-kurukshetra-preparing-water-resources-plan-379264  (21 March 2022)

Gujarat Fifth phase of Sujalam Sufalam Jal Abhiyan launched CM Bhupendra Patel launched the fifth phase of Sujalam Sufalam Jal Abhiyan from Kolwada village in Gandhinagar. This water campaign has been carried out since the year 2018 to raise the ground water level in Gujarat and to create public awareness for the purpose of collecting rainwater.

– In this fifth phase of Sujalam Sufalam water campaign more than 13,000 works will be carried out in the entire state by 31st May 2022. Such works are estimated this year to increase the storage capacity by 15 thousand lakh cubic feet. Through this campaign approximately more than 25 lakh employment will be generated. The four phases of this SSJA in the state have been a resounding success with the help of the people. From the year 2018 – 2021, 56698 works have been done Under SSJA. 21,402 lakes have been deepened and new lakes have been constructed also 1,204 new check dams have been constructed, moreover cleaning of 50,353 km long canals. As a result of these works, the total water storage capacity has increased by 61,781 lakh cubic feet in 3 years and besides, 156.93 lakh employment has been created. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-fifth-phase-of-sujalam-sufalam-jal-abhiyan-launched/articleshow/90323266.cms  (19 March 2022)

The CM stated that the state government was aiming to achieve 100 per cent tap water coverage across the state by the end of 2022. From the year 2018 till 2021, 56,698 works have been done Under SSJA. Under the project so far, 21,402 lakes have been deepened and constructed, 1,204 new check dams have been constructed, and 50,353 km long canals have been cleaned, a government release said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/baroda/100-tap-water-coverage-in-state-by-2022-end-says-gujarat-cm-7827396/  (20 March 2022)

URBAN WATER

Hyderabad Govt mulls zones in GO 111 areas The Telangana government is contemplating demarcating zones within 10km radius of GO 111 areas to continue to ensure water inflows into two lakes Himayatsagar and Osmansagar. These steps, it is felt, will both satisfy environmentalists that the government is not compromising on protection of the lakes as well as address grievances of farmers and developers.

Sources said the empowered committee (expert committee) headed by chief secretary Somesh Kumar, municipal administration department special chief secretary Arvind Kumar and HMWS&SB MD Dana Kishore have done a preliminary exercise on the proposal and prepared recommendations. The committee collected rainfall data of two years in the 84 villages. “CM K Chandrasekhar Rao will hold a meeting with officials in the next few days along with legal experts to give final shape to the proposals. The legal aspect is also crucial as the GO 111 was issued at the instance of Supreme Court. The report will be submitted to the NGT,” a top official in the government said.

According to sources, the government is considering dividing the 10km radius zone into green zones and restricted zones. The categories may include ‘within 1 km’ category, where there will be complete ban on structures and development, and ‘2-4km radius’ category where certain residential activity like individual houses will be allowed. More relaxations will be given ‘up to 6-7km’ radius areas and there will be no restrictions beyond 10km radius. Continuing with the existing rules, sources said, the government would not allow polluting activities and industries even after easing the order. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/state-mulls-zones-in-go-111-areas/articleshow/90279052.cms  (17 March 2022)

The state government’s decision to strike off Osmansagar and Himayatsagar from the list of drinking water sources, and its reliance on lifting water from the Godavari and Krishna rivers to meet the water needs of the city, could be fraught with unforeseen adverse consequences when the impact of climate change is factored into the changing monsoon patterns.

Climate variability and old data on river flows or rainfall were not reliable indicators of how long the ability to draw water from the two rivers through a system of reservoirs and pumping water to the city could be sustained, said Dr C. Ramachandraiah, former professor at the Centre for Social and Economic Studies in the city. “Claiming that we are bringing water to the city from the rivers and that the two lakes are no longer needed as drinking water sources, is a recipe for a disaster,” he said. The old data of rainfall and river flows did not support what could happen in the future, he said. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/200322/repeal-of-go-111-can-be-detrimental-expert.html  (20 March 2022)

Both serving and retired officials expressed concern over the serious impact on the 100-year-old twin reservoirs Osmansagar and Himayatsagar due to the imminent large-scale urbanisation within the 10 km buffer zone. If GO 111 is scrapped, the twin reservoirs are likely to meet the fate of Hussainsagar which has become completely polluted and its water unfit for consumption. The reservoirs are the major drinking water source for the people of the twin cities even today as Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMSW&SB) draws 30 MGD from them through gravity.

Official sources told Express that lifting of GO 111 will prove to be a death knell for these two reservoirs as large scale constructions will come up within the 10 km radius leading to urbanisation and the sewage generated from residential apartments, gated communities and  buildings will flow into these two reservoirs. Constructions will also block flow of rainwater from catchment areas into the reservoirs. Lifting of the ban on constructions would also increase commercial engagements, transform the residential projects in the nearby villages and chances are that it would threaten the ecological balance through encroachments and pollution. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2022/mar/16/osmansagar-himayatsagar-may-meet-the-same-fate-of-hussainsagar-fear-officials-2430536.html  (16 March 2022)

Government’s proposed move to scrap a Government Order meant to protect two reservoirs in Hyderabad has angered the environmentalists and citizens. Environmentalists and green activists have cautioned the government against the catastrophic move to lift the restrictions on construction activity in the catchment areas of Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar.

CM had announced in the Assembly on Tuesday, March 15, that the government would soon lift the GO after receiving the report of the experts’ committee. Singh said the report of the committee will be tailor-made to suit the purpose of the government and not intended to protect the water bodies. He recalled that the GO was issued on March 8, 1996 to protect the catchment areas of Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar, which is the reason for the development of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The two reservoirs were built across Musi River by Nizam of Hyderabad after the devastating Musi floods of September 1908 which had killed thousands of people. The two reservoirs were the main source of drinking water for the twin cities. KCR said the GO became redundant as the two reservoirs were no longer the sources of drinking water as Hyderabad is getting piped supply of water from Krishna and Godavari rivers.

The Waterman of India pointed out that the GO covers 1.32 lakh acres in 84 villages and seven mandals. He said revoking the GO means removing the shield to protect the two lakes and amounts to violation of several judgments of the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. On KCR’s assertion that Hyderabad will have adequate supply of water for next 100 years, Rajendra Singh said this can’t be said based on the water pumped artificially into these lakes. “Further, the state is constitutionally obligated for protection and improvement of the natural resources under the Article 48-A of the Constitution of India too, he cannot escape from it,” Singh said.

The GO 111 was brought to prevent acidification of lakes due to air pollution and to prohibit setting up of industries in the prohibited zone. According to environmentalist Dr Subba Rao, the objectives of the GO were to ensure sustainable water resource management. The reservoirs were part of the only zero-energy water distribution system in the country, where no water was pumped from the sources, and hence they were completely infused into climate change adaptation.

The government’s proposed move to scrap GO 111 has also drawn flak from the opposition parties which alleged that it was aimed at benefiting the real estate. Congress national spokesman Dasoju Srravan warned that if the GO 111 GO was abolished, it will pollute not only Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar but the entire Musi River and Nagarjuna Sagar dam, causing serious environmental issues affecting flora and fauna and humankind in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. He also alleged that out of 1,32,600 acres of land under the GO, one lakh acres have been forcibly acquired by top leaders of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). The Congress leader demanded an inquiry into who were the individuals who purchased lands in the area covered by GO 111 during the last eight years. Srravan said the Chief Minister’s statement that Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar are no longer required clearly shows that the government wants to satisfy real estate vultures. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/waterman-rajendra-singh-urges-kcr-not-scrap-order-protecting-hyderabad-reservoirs-161988  (16 March 2022)

The government’s decision to scrap GO 111 that accorded protection to the twin lakes of Osmansagar and Himayatsagar will be the “biggest disaster for Hyderabad,” the Waterman of India, Rajendra Singh, has said, adding that environmentalists might move the Supreme Court, if need be. Revoking GO 111 would mean going against the Supreme Court verdict in the 2001 case of ‘Hinch Lal Tiwari vs Kamala Devi and Others’ in a PIL, as well as several other judgments given by the Supreme Court and the NGT, Singh said in a statement. “If KCR wants, he can shift the people of these 84 villages from the catchment area and keep the area free for the prestigious Himayatsagar and Osmansagar lakes. Thus he can become a role model for other chief ministers,” he said. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/180322/biggest-disaster-for-hyderabad-if-go-111-goes-rajendra-singh.html  (18 March 2022)

Bengaluru City can now treat all of its sewage The recent operationalisation of a STP at Rajarajeshwari Nagar, the second here, has helped the city attain this landmark. The new Vrishabhavathi Valley Plant, adjacent to the Metro station, can treat up to 150 MLD of sewage. The waste generated reaches the STP by gravity. It has been built at a cost of Rs 470 crore under the Mega City Revolving Fund for which the Centre, State and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board contribute.

BWSSB Executive Engineer Rahul Priyadarshi explained that all the STPs together have the capacity to treat 1,523 MLD of sewage. “The sewage generated daily in Bengaluru is around 1440 MLD. For the first time in the city’s history, the ability to completely handle the water we generate has been made possible after this plant started working,” he added.

The two plants here can treat up to 330 MLD.  The smaller downstream STPs at Mailasandra (75 MLD), Kengeri (60 MLD), Dodbele (60 MLD) and Kempambudhi (1 MLD) have now ensured 526 MLD can be treated per day, Priyadarshi said. Two other mega STPS which became operational this year — at Hebbal and K&C Valley — have played a critical role too. These three major STPs will generate 6-7 MW of power per day. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2022/mar/19/bengaluru-can-now-treat-all-its-sewage-2431735.html  (19 March 2022)

Submit report on action against Yele Mallappa Shetty Lake encroachments NGT has directed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and the minor irrigation department to file independent reports on the actions taken against encroachment and pollution of the Yele Mallappa Shetty lake in eastern Bengaluru on or before March 31. The tribunal has also directed the minor irrigation department to submit a report regarding the construction of a sewage treatment plant within the water body. The lake located in KR Puram is spread over an extent of 508.39 acres of which more than 21 acres have been gobbled up by private and government agencies. Official records state that more than 11 acres have been encroached by the government agencies and more than nine acres by the private bodies, which include the construction of buildings. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-green-tribunal-directs-authorities-submit-report-action-against-yele-mallappa-shetty-lake-7819304/  (15 March 2022)

Land mafia grabbed Chikka Kallasandra Lake This provides detailed account of how the Chikka Kallasandra Lake has been encroached over the years, starting with encroachment of storm water bodies. Even official agencies are also involved in the encroachment, the encroachments are happening with their full awareness and involvement. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/how-land-mafia-grabbed-chikka-kallasandra-lake-1091387.html  (15 March 2022)

Lakes in Bengaluru face extinction as encroachments and contamination remain rampant. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/bengaluru-news/bengalurus-lakes-hit-with-continued-encroachments-and-contamination-101647350462111.html  (15 March 2022)

India’s first digital water bank sets up shop Science and Technology Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, who inaugurated the digital water bank in Bengaluru, extended the state government’s full support for the initiative, undertaken by AquaKraft Ventures, a company that specialises in sustainable initiatives to provide drinking water and sanitation to all. The digital water bank, interestingly, will be based on block chain technology, according to AquaKraft founder and CEO Dr Subramanya Kusnur. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2022/mar/15/indias-first-digital-water-bank-sets-up-shop-in-bengaluru-2430129.html  (15 March 2022)

Pune Drainage water seeping into resident’s bungalow The Damles – who gave the city Prabhat Cinema – have been living in misery ever since the pipeline laying work of the 24×7 water project began on Law college road. The reason is that their home has been surrounded by seeping drainage water ever since the work began, and the family’s pleas and requests to the local municipal authorities have fallen on deaf ears. So much so that the bungalow’s courtyard and parking space are now a puddle of dirty stagnant water and have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Anil Damle said, “This seepage began in November, around Diwali, and it was followed by a foul smell that spread over the entire house. We called the ward office and also raised complaints over the issue but it has not been dealt with and we are suffering because of this.”

Interestingly, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) did repair the seepage some months ago but soon, the kitchen and other low-lying areas of the house were flooded with drainage water and filth. After reading Damle’s posts and pleas for help on social media, the members of the Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti helped re-tweet the same till they caught the attention of the local corporator and ward office. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/drainage-water-seeping-into-resident-s-bungalow-in-pune-101647371755909.html  (16 March 2022)

Thane 4,000 water lines being cut over tax dues The Thane Municipal Corporation has intensified its drive against tax defaulters and has started disconnecting more than 4,000 water supply lines besides warning the defaulters that it will seize and auction their property to recover the dues, said officials from the civic body. Property tax is a prominent source of income for the civic body. Of the total target of at least Rs 700 crore, an amount of nearly Rs 250 crore was still to be recovered from residents and also from commercial units until last week. The civic administration had started disconnecting water supply lines to these defaulting entities and it has now threatened to auction their property to recover the unpaid dues.

“We disconnected water supply to few commercial units, including a mall in the city, for defaulting on property tax bills as their dues collectively ran into crores of rupees. We have also threatened to auction the properties of a few owners who have defaulted on payment of taxes, following which many have assured us that they will clear their pending dues soon,” said an official from the Thane municipal corporation. The administration has also started disconnecting lines of nearly 4,000 water tax defaulters, it has sealed water pump rooms and seized water meters to coerce them to cough up dues. “We will register police complaints if these defaulters try to restore the lines or start using water without clearing their dues,” said a senior official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thane/4k-water-lines-being-cut-over-tax-dues/articleshow/90328644.cms  (20 March 2022)

Udaipur Dam burst threatens city Udaipur, despite being ranked third in the list of smart cities, faces the threat of Badi Pal dam outburst as the water level in the lakes here is being maintained at a very high level than it should be even in the summers only for attracting tourists and doing good business.

“It is the vested interests of hoteliers who are working hand in glove with officials and politicians to ensure Udaipur becomes a round-the-year tourist destination,” alleged Vishvaraj Singh, a member of an ex-royal family of Mewar region in a one-on-one conversation with IANS. “All outlets from renowned Pichola lake have been blocked and the wall has been constructed between Doodh Talai and Pichola lake which is leading to an increased pressure on the dam throughout the year thus bringing up a situation of dam outburst,” he added. It’s not wrong to say that tourism is ruining the lake city, says Vishvaraj. https://daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=938785  (20 March 2022)

Guwahati Ban on extraction of ground water by pvt suppliers lifted The Kamrup (Metro) district administration on Thursday (March 17) put on hold its order banning extraction of ground water by private water suppliers on whom almost 70% of the city’s three lakh households depend on for their daily needs after it found itself in a tight spot for the hasty decision. The administration first issued a blanket ban on the extraction without permission from the Central Ground Water Board on March 10 arbitrarily and without giving an alternative solution to the residents of the city which, despite being located on the banks of Brahmaputra river, is parched for potable water.

Three existing government-owned water treatment and supply plants are archaic and have lived their engineering lives but are still being used to supply piped water to a small percentage of population. Another small segment of population has individual water sources within residential complexes. Four new water supply projects — South East Guwahati, South West Guwahati, South Central Guwahati and North Guwahati — have not yet been completed for more than 10 years now leaving the majority of the residents to turn to private water suppliers.

The DC had on March 10 issued an order “prohibiting all types of extraction of ground water in any form in the district without permission from the Central Ground Water Board (CWCB).” Jha also directed the GMC to ensure strict implementation of the order. But within 24 hours, the DC issued a second order by which households which are extracting groundwater only for domestic uses and the armed forces establishments were exempted from the prohibition.

At present, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), public health engineering (PHE) department and the Guwahati Metropolitan Drinking Water & Sewerage Board (GMDW&SB) supply over 31 MLD water in the city from three archaic existing water treatment plants, which have already lost its engineering life. GMC commissioner Devasish Sharma informed that the state government has allocated Rs 10 crore for repairing the existing water treatment plants. He said, “We accept the fact that we have failed to meet the demand for drinking water in the city. Efforts have been put into finding a solution.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/ban-on-extraction-of-ground-water-by-pvt-suppliers-lifted/articleshow/90301198.cms  (18 March 2022)

Nurpur Water seeps through walls, floors in Nurpur houses People of the town and surrounding areas of Jawali and Fatehpur are facing an unusual situation these days. Water has been seeping through the walls and floors of their houses for a couple of days. People are worried as they fear it could damage the structures, if it persists.  Water coming out like this suddenly has also generated curiosity among others too. The reports have also been received from Jassur, Rehan, Raja ka Talab, Nagrota Surian and surrounding areas within the 50 to 60-kilometre radius of the Pong reservoir.

Environmentalists of Kangra district say that the problem is also being witnessed in certain areas in Bilaspur, Una and Kangra districts. They claimed that this year, severe winter and a sudden rise in temperature in March in the lower areas had resulted in an abnormal climate change which could be one of the reasons for this.  “The melting of snow due to sudden rise in temperature causes more water in reservoirs. It can also be a reason for this problem,” they asserted. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/water-seeps-through-walls-floors-in-nurpur-houses-379346  (21 March 2022)

Indore नर्मदा के पानी का 45 प्रतिशत हिस्सा हो रहा बर्बाद, चौथे चरण की फिलहाल जरुरत नहीं  https://www.spsmedia.in/current-news/45-of-narmada-water-coming-to-indore-city-is-being-wasted/  (20 March 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

NGT orders monitoring of dairies to check air and water pollution NGT has ordered CPCB and state/UT PCBs to set up a regulatory and monitoring mechanism to ensure that dairies and cowsheds do not lead to air and water pollution. Unscientific management of solid and liquid waste in the dairies adversely impacts air and water quality, which in turn adversely affects public health, the tribunal stated. The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by Nuggehalli Jayasimha, a Delhi resident, who sought enforcement of environmental norms in the functioning of dairies.

The petition also requested to make it not mandatory for gaushalas running by charitable institutions on donated lands to obtain consent to establish and consent to operate under Water Act, 1974 as well as Air Act, 1981 as per the categorisation of industries in Orange and Green categories, respectively, but the tribunal turned it down. “The tribunal is bound to enforce ‘sustainable development’ and ‘precautionary’ principles and safeguard against unregulated activities having adverse impact on the environment. We are neither opposed to the functioning of gaushalas nor religious rights,” said the order.

The tribunal ordered the authorities concerned to prepare a list of all such dairies and cowsheds in their respective areas and conduct random inspections. CPCB has been asked to develop an app for redressal of any grievances relating to violation of such norms. According to the siting policy, dairy farms and gaushalas should be located outside city/village boundaries, at least 200 metres away from residential dwellings and 500 metres away from hospitals & schools, the tribunal reiterated. The NGT order also stated that dairies should not be located in floodplains and in areas with shallow groundwater depth of about 10 to 12 feet. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/ngt-orders-monitoring-of-dairies-to-check-air-and-water-pollution/articleshow/90237193.cms  (16 March 2022)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Gujarat Budgetary trends for drinking water Translating budgetary outlays into actual expenditure will only move the needle. Tribal regions have seen money allocated and schemes planned often but much remains to be realized when it comes to money utilized and schemes implemented. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/budgetary-trends-drinking-water-gujarat-special-focus-tribal-communities  (28 Feb. 2022)

WATER

Jammu & Kashmir Water supply scheme in Pulwama village incomplete for 14 years Started 14 years ago, the Achan Astan Water Supply Scheme in Pulwama district is still incomplete and remains non- functional.The Achan Astan scheme was taken up for execution in 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs 1.80 crore as the residents were facing shortage of potable water for many years. However, the project has missed several deadlines and is still non functional.Official sources said that the funds allocated for the scheme had been diverted and used for other schemes and purposes but the scheme had been left unattended.

“The department is going to float new tenders so that fresh funds can be allocated but no one speaks about the Rs 1.80 crore which was allocated in 2008 on the scheme,” the residents said. Locals complained that they were continuously facing water shortage. “Besides water shortage, we get muddy and contaminated water during rains and snow,” the residents said. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/kashmir-todays-paper/water-supply-scheme-in-pulwama-village-incomplete-for-14-years  (21 March 2022)

Panchkula Potable water a pipe dream for Chauki village residents Residents of Chauki village have been forced to drink contaminated water being pumped out of their tube well. Villagers have lodged several complaints to the authorities, who have allegedly not paid any heed to the issue. The village, which has over 350 houses, is located around two kilometres away from Panchkula. For the last eight years, they have struggled to receive supply of potable water. Varied health concerns, skin rashes and mouth ulcers have also become commonplace among residents because of the continued use of the contaminated water.

Councillor Rakesh Valmiki of ward number 16, meanwhile, said an irrigation and public health department team has already inspected the area and a new machine will be installed in the coming days. Speaking about the long delay in the installation, he said, “Earlier, a machine was installed, but it did not function properly. We sent a team to install a new tube well, but a few miscreants attacked them at night and we are in the process of setting up a well again now.” Public health department’s executive engineer Vikas Lather said a tube well has been installed in the Gumthala village, before offering assurance that a tube well will be installed in Chauki village as well by next week. He added that the department has been supplying water tankers to the village. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/panchkula-potable-water-a-pipe-dream-for-chauki-village-residents-101647803467310.html  (21 March 2022)

AGRICULTURE

Karnataka Is groundwater a small price to pay? We went to Chikkahejjaji in the Bengaluru Rural district of Karnataka. We wanted to understand how areca nut, a water-intensive crop, became one of the most important cash crops in the state. A typical areca nut plantation has about 400 trees per acre, and each tree (in semi-arid regions) needs 15 litres of irrigation every day for about six months of the year. This translates to approximately 350 mm/year of irrigation demand, in a place where groundwater recharge probably has an upper limit of 50 mm/year. The crop fetches an average of INR 4,50,000/acre/year compared to the paltry INR 60,000/acre/year for groundnut. Areca sells today at up to a lakh per quintal. Over 800 of the 900 households in the Chikkahejjaji village are engaged in areca nut processing.  https://idronline.org/ground-up-stories/why-are-farmers-in-rural-karnataka-growing-the-groundwater-guzzling-areca-nut/

SUMMER 2022

Uttarakhand State braces for a harsh summer Even before the summer season started, as many as 100 towns across 13 districts in Uttarakhand are already experiencing water scarcity. According to data from Jal Sansthan, the government body responsible for water supply in urban households in the state, only 649.86 mld can be supplied against the demand of 833.77 mld. “The organisation is in bad shape with crores of pending bills and no money to upgrade. Water scarcity is already there due to environmental factors. Other issues are also plaguing the department, giving rise in the gap of demand and supply,” a senior official told this newspaper. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/mar/19/water-scarcity-at-fore-gain-as-uttarakhand-braces-for-a-harsh-summer-2431819.html  (19 March 2022)

DISASTERS

IMD 8 cyclones have formed over 129 years in March, only 2 crossed coasts Between 1891 and 2020, only eight cyclones have been formed in March, including two in the Arabian Sea and six in the Bay of Bengal, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Thursday. Of the eight, six dissipated over sea and one crossed the Tamil Nadu coast as a cyclonic storm in 1926. Another crossed Sri Lanka in 1907. Cyclones normally form during the pre-monsoon months over the north Indian Ocean between April and May. “Climatologically March is not cyclone season. It is April and May. The ocean is cooler in March and solar insolation is not very high. In March, westerly systems are predominant in the northern parts of the country and easterly waves are predominant over the Peninsular region,” said an IMD official. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/8-cyclones-have-formed-over-129-years-in-march-only-2-crossed-coasts-imd-101647574111949.html  (18 March 2022)

RENEWABLE ENERGY

According to an IIT Delhi study, India lost 29% of solar potential due to air pollution between 2001 and 2018. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/india-lost-29-of-its-solar-power-potential-due-to-pollution-iit-delhi-study/90280894  (17 March 2022)

Gujarat A decade on, India’s first solar park has many promises left to fulfil The Solar Park, India’s first utility-scale solar park, sets an example of how renewable energy development, if not done right, can lead to more environmental harm than good. 10 years after the project came up, the villagers of Charanka, the project site, are still waiting for clean drinking water, free electricity, and irrigation. Against the promise of 1,000 permanent jobs, only 60 people in the village have been employed as security guards, grass cutters and for washing panels, with no scope for jobs for women, making families who did not have land or sons the worst victims of the solar park. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/03/a-decade-on-indias-first-solar-park-has-many-promises-left-to-fulfil/   (18 March 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

Myanmar Protesters call for a stop to new Shan State dams  To mark the International Day of Action for Rivers on 14 March communities across Shan State posted slogans on river banks calling for a stop to any new dams. Members of the Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Action for Shan State Rivers and its networks posted slogans such as “Stop damming our rivers” and “Save our rivers” on banners and rocks along the Salween and other major rivers in Shan State. “The rivers are our lifeblood which must be saved for future generations,” said a community member from Tangyan Township. Action for Shan State Rivers, also marked the day by issuing a statement calling on foreign dam-builders to stop colluding with Burma’s murderous regime and pull out of Shan State because any new dams earn revenue for the military regime and cement its energy partnerships with neighbouring countries.  https://www.mizzima.com/article/protesters-call-stop-new-shan-state-dams   (15 March 2022)

IWT Talks on hydropower projects end with some convergences Sources said that in the next meeting to be held before May 31 at the PCIW level, if the objections on Pakal Dul are not resolved, then next provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty would be exhausted, meaning that the issues of Pakal Dul will be taken on the government level. If it is not resolved at the government level, then Pakistan will either move the forum of Neutral Expert or International Court of Justice for the solution of the dispute. On the Lower Kalnai project (48MW), Pakistan wants the freeboard to be one meter in length, while India insists on a 2-meter length.

– In the meeting, India informed the Pakistan side that the construction work on Lower Kalnai project has been stopped since the last flood damaged it. Now India is going to restart construction work but after its design was reviewed. However, Pakistan asked India to share its reviewed design on time and the Indian side responded positively. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/938482-pak-india-talks-on-hydropower-projects-end-with-some-convergences  (04 March 2022)

India-Bangladesh Interview: What now for the Ganges Treaty? The Ganges Water Sharing Treaty was signed by India and Bangladesh in 1996. The 30-year treaty was the culmination of decades of negotiation, and specifies the minimum level of water flow to be shared by India with its downstream neighbour Bangladesh during the dry season, from January to May. The Ganges Treaty had been a principal demand of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) ever since India started work on the Farakka barrage in 1962 – which was commissioned in 1975 – to divert water from the Ganga to the port of Kolkata.

– Malik Fida A Khan is the executive director of the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), a research institution created by the Bangladesh government. He is also a member of the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC), a state institution under the Ministry of Shipping, and has been a member of the Joint River Commission (JRC), a body established as an outcome of the 1972 Indo-Bangla Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace by the two countries. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/regional-cooperation/interview-what-now-for-ganges-treaty/  (14 March 2022)

BANGLADESH WATER SUCCESS STORY: On International Women’s Day, a look at how women in coastal communities next to the Sundarbans are protecting nature, their villages and creating livelihood opportunities. Once the floodwaters retreated, Rani and other women in the village started collecting keora fruits again. But this time they planted them, hoping to replace the mangrove trees and ensure their source of fuel and income.

– In the years since, the communities of Padmapukur have observed another benefit to mangrove reforestation: the trees protect them from storm surges in the Bay of Bengal. So, on the new flood-control embankments that surround villages, they have planted mangroves as a shield. With the extra fruit from these trees they make jams and pickles, which they can sell. This is a significant addition to families’ incomes, and empowers the women of Padmapukur. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/livelihoods/women-plant-mangroves-sundarbans-bangladesh/  (08 March 2022)

Farmers in water-scarce northern Bangladesh are shifting away from tobacco to grow tea, sunflower and mustard, which use less water and offer greater profits. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/livelihoods/shift-away-from-tobacco-farming-saves-water-and-lives-in-bangladesh/  (04 March 2022)

Bhutan According to Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, the Punatshangchhu-II and Nikachhu hydroelectric projects are likely to be commissioned in 2023. https://kuenselonline.com/rma-projects-5-5-percent-economic-growth-in-2022/  (02 March 2022)

Nepal AMAZING river photo by Dhritiman Mukherjee: https://udaipurkiran.in/hindi/it-is-the-seti-river-of-nepal-not-the-tree/  (15 March 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

WeBuild responds to article analysing alleged controversies related to 38 hydropower projects In this paper, we (authors: Antonio, Daniela & Louisa) take the Italian construction company WeBuild (formerly known as Salini Impregilo) as a unit of analysis, aiming at questioning modern Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability reporting of transnational corporations involved in large development projects. Starting from the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice, we collect evidence on socio-environmental injustices and controversies surrounding 38 large hydropower schemes built by the corporation throughout the last century. As a counter-reporting exercise, we code (un)sustainability discourses from a plurality of sources, looking at their discrepancy with the company disclosures under the critical lenses of post-normal science and political ecology, with environmental justice as a normative framework.

– Interestingly enough, after the article was made known to WeBuild by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), the company raised perplexities through a letter on the BHRRC website. We addressed their concerns, and the company declined to comment further.   https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/webuild-responds-to-article-analysing-alleged-controversies-related-to-38-hydropower-projects/  (14 Dec. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 14 March 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 07 March 2022  

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

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