DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 11 April 2022: Ken Betwa Affected people protest land acquisition

The residents of about 15 villages affected by the Ken Betwa link project are opposing the land acquisition process being initiated in violation of all norms have opposed the move. The notices have not been pasted in the affected villages, gram sabhas have not been conducted and the information promised in the notice is not available at the designated places. When question, the Madhya Pradesh officials have responded arrogantly. The history of manipulations and violations that has been the norm every step of the way in Ken Betwa Project continues. In fact the project does not have final forest clearance, its wildlife clearance has been questioned by the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee and its Environment clearance is under challenge before the National Green Tribunal. In absence of the clearances, the land acquisition should not even be started if there is any place for prudent norms in such projects. It would be best if the government stops the process and starts it only if and when it gets all the clearances and after taking all the concerned into confidence through a prudent confidence inspiring process.

Chhatarpur: Villagers yet to get land acquiring information  Two months have passed since a notification for acquiring land for the Ken-Betwa link project was issued, but the villagers affected by the project are yet to be informed about it. The residents of 15 villages, affected by the Ken-Betwa link project, have alleged that the district administration is arbitrarily working. Led by a social worker Amit Bhatnagar, the villagers held a meeting near a cowshed in Kadwara village on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 and voiced anger and chanted slogans against the district administration.

– The villagers alleged that the government had issued notification on January 31for acquiring land for the project. Nevertheless, when the villagers came to know about it they met sub-divisional officer (SDO) in Bijawar. He is also the in charge of acquiring land for the project. The villagers met the officers and complained to him about the alleged arbitrary manner in which the officials were trying to acquire land. The officer concerned, instead of listening to their problems, dressed them down. In the notification, it was mentioned that the drawing and plan of the land would be examined in the office of the SDO and land acquiring officer. The administration has, however, failed to give any information about the drawing and plans to the villagers. The officer concerned visited the village on Sunday after the villagers had requested him for that.

– Residents of different villages were waiting for the officer’s visit, but he went only to Kupi and Shahpura hamlets. Besides, he did not give any information about displacement and rehabilitation of villagers. A 75-year-old villager Tulsi Yadav from Kadwara, 80-year-old Barelal Rajgond from Pathapur and 70-year-old Rupa Banjara from Dugria who attended the meeting said that their future is uncertain. They said that they owned a piece of land through which they earned a living, but they had been deprived of that. According to reports, the land acquiring work has begun, but the villagers have not been informed about it. Bhatnagar said that after the notification was issued, there should have been Gram Sabha in the villages to be affected by the project.

– He further said that he had informed the collector about it, and that the collector is very sensitive, so it is hoped the officials would discuss the issue with the villagers. The officials, however, said that a Gram Sabha was held, but neither the Sarpanch nor other representatives of the people were informed about what the administration would do. Sarpanch of Naigua, Ramdayal Adiwasi, said that there was no information about acquiring land in the village. https://www.freepressjournal.in/amp/bhopal/chhatarpur-villagers-yet-to-get-ken-betwa-land-acquiring-information  (06 April 2022)

Ken Betwa Project Affected people protesting against violation of norms in land acquisition notices.

सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता ने कहा कि प्रभावित गांवों में ज्यादातर आदिवासी ग्रामीण हैं। प्रशासन ने उनकी कोई राय नहीं ली। न ही ग्राम सभाएं आयोजित कीं। इस परियोजना से बहुत बड़ा पर्यावरणीय नुकसान होने जा रहा है। उत्तर प्रदेश की सीमा से सटे मध्य प्रदेश के 15 गांवों के लोगों ने बैठक कर केन-बेतवा लिंक परियोजना के खिलाफ मोर्चा खोल दिया है। ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि भूमि अधिग्रहण के लिए अधिसूचना जारी हुए 60 दिन हो गए, लेकिन प्रभावित गांवों के सरपंच और जनप्रतिनिधियों को इसकी जानकारी तक नहीं दी गई। अधिकारी मौका मुआयना कर रहे हैं तब पता चल रहा है कि परियोजना के दायरे में उनके गांव भी आ रहे हैं।

– मंगलवार को केन-बेतवा परियोजना वाले क्षेत्र के कदवारा (छतरपुर) गांव में सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता अमित भटनागर की अगुवाई में 15 गांवों के ग्रामीण एकत्रित हुए। अमित ने कहाकि परियोजना की अधिसूचना 31 जनवरी को जारी हो चुकी है, लेकिन प्रभावित गांवों के लोगों को कोई जानकारी नहीं दी गई।  ग्रामीणों ने कहा कि अधिसूचना में कहा गया है कि भूमि का नक्शा व प्लान का निरीक्षण, अनु विभागीय या भू अर्जन अधिकारी, बिजावर के कार्यालय में किया जा सकता है।

– ग्रामीणों को यह कुछ बताया या दिखाया नहीं जा रहा है। तीन अप्रैल को विभागीय अधिकारी सिर्फ दो गांवों में गए। वहां भी ग्रामीणों को विस्थापन या उनके पुनर्वास संबंधी कोई जानकारी नहीं दी गई। ग्रामीणों ने कहाकि प्रशासन की यह मनमानी प्रभावित ग्रामीणों को स्वीकार नहीं है। परियोजना से प्रभावित क्षेत्र नौगवां गांव के सरपंच रामदयाल आदिवासी ने बताया कि अधिसूचना के बारे में अभी गांव को कोई जानकारी नहीं है। कदवारा गांव के सरपंच भगवती अहिरवार ने कहा कि किसानों के साथ न्याय होना चाहिए।  https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/kanpur/people-of-15-villages-protested-against-ken-betwa-project  (06 April 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Himachal Pradesh Video report on leakages from GMR’s 180 Mw Bajoli-Holi HEP around March 21 affecting local villagers’ land and properties. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHHk2yohUA4  (21 March 2022)

Uttarakhand व्यासी जल विधुत परियोजना के तहत लोहारी गांव के प्रभावित ग्रामीणों को प्रशासन ने 48 घंटे के भीतर खाली करने का नोटिस थमा दिया है। बुधवार (April 06) को प्रशासन से नोटिस मिलने के बाद व्यासी जल विद्युत परियोजना से प्रभावित लोहारी गांव के ग्रामीणों ने भारी मन से अपना सामान समेट कर गांव खाली करना शुरू दिया है। करीब 90 परिवार बांध निर्माण से पूर्ण रूप से विस्थापित हो रहे हैं, जिन्हें प्रशासन ने गांव खाली करने का लास्ट अल्टीमेटम दे दिया है। इतने कम समय में गांव खाली करने को मजबूर ग्रामीण जहां सरकार व प्रशासन के रवैये से नाराज हैं वहीं अपने पैतृक गांव पुश्तैनी खेत खलिहान से बिछड़ने का दर्द उन्हें सता रहा है। https://www.newsnationtv.com/india/news/adminitration-gave-notice-to-vacate-the-village-in-48-hour-to-the-affected-villager-of-vyai-hydroelectric-project-264748.html   (07 April 2022)

व्यासी परियोजना से आसपास के 6 गांव के 334 परिवार प्रभावित हो रहे हैं. इनमें से एक जौनसार-भाबर की अनूठी संस्कृति और परंपरा वाला जनजातीय आबादी वाला गांव लोहारी भी है. 90 परिवार वाला ये पूरा गांव झील में समा जाएगा. लोहारी गांव की महिलाएं यमुना पर बनी झील का गांव की ओर चढ़ता पानी दिखाती हैं. धीरे-धीरे आम के पेड़ पानी में डूब रहे हैं और पशुओं की छानी झील की दूसरी तरफ चली गई है. https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttarakhand/state/dehradun/administration-gave-notice-to-90-families-of-lohari-village-to-vacate-the-village-in-48-hours/uttarakhand20220406210730239  (06 April 2022)

जौनसार बाबर के इतिहास में काला दिवस दर्ज शासन प्रशासन ने खाली कराया लोहारी गांव https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ge2e_ND7lQ  (07 April 2022)

Shivani Azad:-The flash flood that claimed several lives in Chamoli on February 7 has caused Uttarakhand’s hydropower projects to be scrutinised closely. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/why-hydel-projects-in-the-himalayas-are-worrying/articleshow/80761439.cms  (03 April 2022)

SJVN Ltd on Saturday (April 09) said that a bridge on the river Tons in Uttarakhand has become operational to ensure better connectivity in the region and support the activities of its Naitwar Mori HEP. The 60-MW Project is expected to be completed in the current financial year. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/renewables/sjvn-opens-bridge-near-its-hydro-power-project-in-uttarakhand/articleshow/90746542.cms  (09 April 2022)

Arunachal Pradesh Tryst With Anti-Dam Movements Detailed write up about arrest of artists for writing anti dam slogans and anti-dam movement. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/will-a-defaced-mural-two-arrests-renew-arunachal-s-focus-on-anti-dam-movement–news-190158  (06 April 20222)

Despite the arrest and the removal of the slogan, Mahanta is not displeased. “I think the wall painting has achieved its objectives,” he said. Arunachal Pradesh has a long history of anti-dam movements, but it has rarely travelled outside the state. “The anti-dam message has reached all across the country making national headlines, which is a minor success,” he said. “But we will consider it a success only if no more dams are built in the region.” https://scroll.in/article/1021441/can-an-artists-graffiti-breathe-new-life-into-arunachals-anti-dam-movement  (10 April 2022)

CM draws Centre’s attention towards notifying reserved forests without public hearing Pema Khandu on Saturday (April 09) was appealing to union MoEF Bhupender Yadav at the inaugural function of the 20th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on the west bank of the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Seijosa in Pakke-Kessang district.

“The tribal population have been settling since time immemorial in the forest. However, some reserved forest areas were notified without public confidence and hearing. Whenever the state government wishes to bring developmental projects, we are having hurdles from the forest department,” the CM said. He informed that the forest department has been instructed to prepare a list of all such reserved forest areas, so that the state government can verify it and, after scrutinising the list, forward it to the ministry for consideration to de-reserve those areas.

Khandu further called for finding a mechanism to ensure sustainable living and development while protecting the state’s rich biodiversity, adding that his government is focusing on promotion of ecotourism. “Our forest diversities should be our strength rather than weakness. While protecting forests, how can we deliver sustainable living to people? My government is focusing and putting efforts on promotion of ecotourism,” he said. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/04/10/cm-draws-centres-attention-towards-notifying-reserved-forests-in-state-without-public-hearing/  (10 April 2022)

Sikkim The Teesta, in distress! Gurudas Nulkar The Teesta is no longer the lifeline of the locals but has now morphed into an economic resource of national importance. Is this for better or worse? Should we produce more electricity at the expense of the Sundarbans and the marginalisation of the local communities? The British Raj introduced ‘development by exclusion’ to India, and today we roll in the same muck. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/teesta-distress  (25 March 2022)

MoEF Minutes of the FAC meeting held on March 31, 2022, some relevant decision:-Diversion of 160.4 ha. of forest land in Karlakatti, Chakrageri and Kagihal Village, Savadatti (Saundatti) Taluk, Belagavi District for Standalone Pumped Storage Component of Saundatti Integrated Renewable Energy Project in favour of Greenko Solar Energy Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru, Karnataka: More Info Sought http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/4116125112221MoMofFACheldon31-3-2022.pdf 

DAMS

NANDINI OZA’s book “The Struggle for Narmada” published

The book is based on the oral histories of two senior adivasi leaders of the Narmada Struggle, Keshavbhau and Kevalsingh Vasave (with extensive footnotes and references) and a foreword by one of the leading oral historians of the country, Dr. Indira Chowdhury has just been published and released by Orient BlackSwan (OB).

The Blurb on the book says: “One of the most powerful mass movements in independent India, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) brought together thousands of people across the country from a myriad social strata and callings. The central role played by the communities of Narmada Valley, especially the Adivasis, in this decades-long struggle cannot be overstated; yet their lifelong contribution, struggles and sacrifices are neither well-recorded nor known today. This first English translation of the Marathi original Ladha Narmadecha bridges that gap and sees the Andolan from the eyes of the Adivasis who fought to save their forest, their land and their jeeva dori—river Narmada itself…Underlined by humility, candour, dignity and humour, these interviews contain vital lessons for mass movements striving to empower those on the margins of democracy. They also foreground the critical importance of oral history, and show us that listening to memory can be as much a political act as a transformational one; an invaluable volume for all activists, students of ecology, sociology, anthropology, development studies and human rights.” https://www.orientblackswan.com/details?id=9789354422973

Sardar Sarovar Project, the Statue of Unity and the dispossessed Adivasis The tribal people of six villages who lost their lands in 1961 for the Sardar Sarovar Dam’s colony, the Kevadia Colony, still await rehabilitation, 60 years on. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/statue-of-unity-sardar-vallabhbhai-patel-gujarat-adivasi-tribal-sardar-sarovar-dam-narmada-river-kevadia-colony-50613  (06 April 2022)

Mekedatu Dam The reservoir project will submerge more than 52 sq km of forests. According to ecological scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Karnataka is set to lose forests worth about “Rs 81.60 billion”. The first-ever analysis of the economic worth of forest resources by the IISc shows that each hectare of forests in Karnataka is worth Rs 6.56 lakh annually.

The estimation has been carried out as per the United Nations ‘natural capital accounting and valuation of ecosystem services’ (NCAVES) project that was launched in 2017 with a view to improving the measurement of ecosystems and their services (physical, monetary). https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/mekedatu-to-submerge-karnataka-forests-worth-rs-816-bn-1099582.html  (11 April 2022)

Goa More dams will threaten water security: Greens Environmentalists reacting to agriculture minister Ravi Naik’s suggestion that more dams be constructed in the state said that such a move would only serve to threaten Goa’s water security rather than solving the issue of water scarcity. They instead emphasised on the immediate need for intervention with regards to river management, rejuvenation and conservation.

Environmentalists said that the construction of more dams and bandharas will not solve the water shortage issue. “Instead water harvesting and conservation carried out in an eco-friendly manner backed by traditional wisdom is the need of the hour,” they said.  “Goa already has a sufficient number of dams and bandharas. The water scarcity issue is due to the government’s failure to properly manage the existing water resources,” environmentalist Subodh Naik from Latambarcem said. Talking about conserving existing water resources, environmentalist from Bicholim, Ramesh Gauns, told TOI that all construction activities on hill slopes should be stopped. “Forest covers act as a sponge during the rains and release water during the lean period,” he said.

Gauns also highlighted the urgent need to take necessary steps to provide protection on priority basis to the catchment areas of Goa’s rivers. Elucidating his point with an example, he referred to the Anjunem dam. “The deforestation that has taken place in the catchment area of the Anjunem dam over the last quarter century has increased sedimentation and siltation in the reservoir, thereby decreasing its water holding capacity,” Gauns said.

Subodh added that mining activities around dams should also be curtailed and pointed to the presence of 15 mining leases around the Salaulim reservoir, which caters to the maximum drinking and irrigation water needs of South Goa. He also said that the government has failed to take any remedial measures to stop laterite quarrying around the Anthane reservoir. “In order to tap raw water, the Goa government has constructed a bandhara across the Mhadei at Ganje and has also enhanced its height. Despite this, the Opa water treatment plant is struggling for raw water,” Subodh said. Villagers from Bailpar are vehemently opposing construction of a new pump house and bandhara across the Bailpar nalla.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/more-dams-will-threaten-goas-water-security-greens/articleshow/90715175.cms  (08 April 2022)

Amid shortage of potable water reported in several parts of Goa amid early summer, state Agriculture Minister Ravi Naik wants “big companies” to be invited to build a network of dams in the state so that the collected water could be exported to the arid Gulf region. “Dams should be erected between hills in Goa. There should be such a dam network in the entire Goa and the water can be used for horticulture as well as for farming,” Naik, a former CM, told reporters late on Wednesday (April 06).

“The water should be sold to big companies, who should be asked to put up these dams, for the purpose of export. Send it to Dubai, send it to Kuwait, send it everywhere and across India. They sell us petrol, we should sell them water,” he also said. The coastal state has witnessed protests by civil society groups in several parts, including the Bardez, Bicholim and Pernem sub districts, due to shortage of potable water over the past few weeks. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/as-goa-battles-water-shortage-minister-asks-companies-to-build-dams-122040700128_1.html  (07 April 2022)

Mullaperiyar Dam Let supervisory panel continue for a yr: Centre to SC  The Centre on Apr 5, 2022 suggested to the Supreme Court to let the Mullaperiyar dam supervisory committee continue for a year, by which time the National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) under the new Dam Safety Act will become fully functional. “During the period of one year, when the National Dam Safety Authority becomes fully functional, the Supervisory Committee on Mullaperiyar Dam may continue its functioning as per the existing mandate in regulating the operations of the Mullaperiyar dam,” a note submitted by the Centre, represented by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, said. The Centre suggested that the Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu and Kerala be made accountable in order to ensure that the decisions of the supervisory committee on the maintenance and safety of the dam are duly complied with by the two States. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/let-mullaperiyar-dam-supervisory-panel-continue-for-a-year-while-authority-under-dam-safety-act-takes-form-centre-to-sc/article65292302.ece  (05 April 2022)

-The apex court made the suggestion after the Centre said the NDSA under the Act will become fully functional in one year while a temporary structure can be made functional within a month. https://www.freepressjournal.in/legal/mullaperiyar-dam-supervisory-panel-can-carry-out-functions-says-supreme-court?  (05 April 2022)

The Supreme Court Friday (April 08) reconstituted the committee supervising the Mullaperiyar dam by including one expert from each state, a step both had sought. A Bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Abhay S Oka and C T Ravikumar said the committee will only be an interim one; it will remain until the NDSA, as envisaged by the Dam Safety Act, 2021, becomes fully functional. The Bench hoped that the NDSA would be brought in without delay. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sc-rejigs-mullaperiyar-panel-to-have-an-expert-each-from-tn-kerala-7860771/  (09 April 2022)

The Supreme Court on Thursday (April 07) said any “half-baked” arrangement will “destroy the dam” and refused to overhaul the court-formed Mullaperiyar dam supervisory committee, which will continue to oversee the safety and maintenance aspects of the 126-year-old structure until the new authority under the Dam Safety Act, 2021 becomes fully operational in a year. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mullaperiyar-row-supreme-court-refuses-to-overhaul-court-formed-dam-supervisory-committee/article65299232.ece  (07 April 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

SANDRP Blog FAC declines clearance to Bunder mine in Ken Catchment MoEF’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting held on March 31, 2022, in an important decision, has declined to clear a “destructive” diamond mining proposal in the catchment of Ken Betwa Project in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. The High Court has already stayed the mining proposal. The FAC has asked for more information rather than rejecting the proposal. https://sandrp.in/2022/04/10/moefs-fac-declines-clearance-to-bunder-mine-in-ken-catchment/  (10 April 2022)

Video recording of discussion on Ken Betwa Project organized by Bhujan Sanvad on Apr 8, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo8KJlX7s7w

Wednesdays for Water session on Interlinking of Rivers. April 13, 2022, at 05:00 PM IST. Registration link: https://tinyurl.com/427anvkb

Par-Tapi-Narmada River Link Project Should be Fully Withdrawn — by Bharat Dogra https://countercurrents.org/2022/04/par-tapi-narmada-river-link-project-should-be-fully-withdrawn/  (06 April 2022)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Rajasthan says Gujarat has been illegally using Mahi river water that Rajasthan has claim on.

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Bihar 10 persons missing after freight vessel loses balance At least 10 people were feared drowned after a vessel carrying overloaded trucks with stone chips lost its balance midstream in the Ganga between Samda Ghat in Jharkhand’s Sahibganj and Bihar’s Manihari Katihar late on Thursday (March 24) night. Sahibganj deputy commissioner Ram Niwas Yadav said four to five overloaded trucks fell into the river after the vessel tilted. Amar Choudhary, the vessel’s captain, said the tyre of one of the trucks burst and the vessel tilted and five overloaded trucks fell into the river. He said at least 10 persons including the drivers and cleaners of the trucks were missing. In August 1988, about 400 pilgrims drowned when an overcrowded ferry carrying them capsized in the Ganga near Katihar. In 2018 and 2020, two vessels capsized leaving several people dead. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/10-persons-missing-after-freight-vessel-losses-balance-in-river-ganga-101648189465005.html  (25 March 2022)

IRRIGATION

Maharashtra Pradeeep Purandare on need for formulating laws for irrigation acts in Maharashtra. http://jaagalyaa.in/2022/04/not-preparing-the-rules-of-the-irrigation-acts-amounts-to-contempt-of-legislature/  (08 April 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

Mula-Mutha; Pune Greens demand scrapping of RFD project  Nearly 20 environmental groups and civic activists from Pune on Sunday (April 03) approached the state environment department, urging it to scrap the Mula Mutha riverfront development project on the ground that it has many “loopholes”. “If implemented, the project is going to cause more harm than good. It will put the lives of citizens in danger. So, the project should be scrapped permanently,” echoed the activists, who have sent a letter to the environment ministry. Despite repeated meetings, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) could not give satisfactory replies to queries from experts and environmentalists, they claimed.

Some of these groups include the Association of Nagar Road Citizens, Mission Groundwater, Jivitnadi, Aundh Vikas Mandal, Ecological Society, Pashan Area Sabha, Parisar, Devrai Foundation, Punarbharan Foundation, and others. They have raised a number of issues in the letter written to the ministry. They said that the project is going to increase the flood water levels in the city by around 17ft. The activists said that the project may lead to demolition of four bridges and can cause more traffic problems. They added that the project report has not made any reference to climate change. Even many facts and figures given in the DPR are wrong, the activists said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/environmentalists-demand-scrapping-of-river-project/articleshow/90652174.cms  (05 April 2022)

Govt forms panel to examine it After PM Modi laid the foundation stone for Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) ambitious riverfront development project on March 6, the state government on March 16 has ordered a committee to ensure contradictions and doubts” are removed before the project starts in Pune. Meanwhile, PMC has already okayed handing over the Sangamwadi-Bundgarden stretch contract after the general body approved ₹250 crore for the plan. The civic body during 2017-2019 had also completed surveys, base map preparation and environment impact assessment for the project.

Environmentalist Sarang Yadwadkar said, “The riverfront development project is full of contradictions. The project says that it will not disrupt the flow of the river, but also proposes multiple barrages. It states that there would be no built-up area, but over 80% of the funds would be used for concretisation. Also, the project does not consider the over 450 million litres of untreated water which would still be released into the river even after the (Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) project. The project also revises the natural floodlines for the sake of the project which means that the areas around the river could cause flooding during monsoon. The stagnation of water would kill the river and its flora and fauna.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/riverfront-development-plan-after-pm-launches-the-project-mva-forms-panel-to-examine-it-101647095663803.html   (12 March 2022)

Speaking about the consequences, Sarang Yadwadkar said, “The city produces about 1328 MLD of sewage. Of this, 507 MLD of sewage water is treated. 396 MLD of water is expected to be processed the under JICA project. It is proposed to process 903 MLD of wastewater and the remaining 425 MLD of wastewater will not be treated at all. It shows that flood lines, riverine wetlands etc. are not considered. The river needs to be revived. But it requires purification of the river, not beautification. There is a need to reduce pollution of natural ways, stop construction at floodplains, and increase the capacity of the JICA project.” https://punekarnews.in/pune-environmentalists-express-fear-of-rising-floods-due-to-mula-mutha-riverfront-development-project/  (19 March 2022)

Sabarmati; Ahmedabad Effluents from 4 CETPs don’t meet parameters: Reports The untreated influent as well treated effluent from 4 CETPs under the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation jurisdiction do not adhere to prescribed parameters, stated 2 draft reports of CSIR–NEERI. The 2 draft reports submitted to the PCB on March 24 with respect to functioning of 4 of the total 7 CETPs under AMC jurisdiction — Naroda Enviro Project Ltd (NEPL), Gujarat Vepari Maha Mandal Odhav (GVMM), CETP Green Environment Services Co-op Society Ltd (GESCL) Vatva and CETP Narol Textile Infrastructure & Enviro Management (NTIEM) Narol.

The 2 drafts reports were submitted before the Gujarat HC on March 24 by way of an affidavit by GPCB in relation to a suo motu PIL being heard by the Gujarat HC concerning pollution in Sabarmati river. GPCB in its affidavit submitted that pursuant to the CSIR NEERI analyses of the 4 CETPs, the reports have also been forwarded to the concerned CETPs and have been asked to furnish the time frame action to the GPCB at the earliest. Notably, CM Bhupendra Patel had told the Assembly that Rs 136 crore was spent in 2020 and 2021 to clean up Sabarmati river.

In the case of NEPL and GVMM, CSIR-NEERI noted that expenditure on operation and maintenance of the CETPs has become “futile” either owing to “inappropriate treatment system” which is either because the CETPs operations are “highly complex” or “highly haphazard”. CSIR-NEERI, which observed that stages of the treatment process at the NEPL CETP was operating in “highly unscientific manner”, recommended to NEPL CETP that it “must make necessary efforts to optimize the operating cost by optimizing the energy and chemical consumptions” and to GVMM, the agency recommended that it “must make necessary efforts to optimize the operating cost by optimizing the chemical consumptions”.

To the GESCL CETP, which was initially designed for 16 MLD capacity but was subsequently augmented to 35 MLD to meet the requirements of member industries, the agency recommended that it must make necessary efforts to “optimize the operating cost by operating the CETP to its design capacity and optimizing energy & chemical consumptions. Only in the case of the NTIEM CETP, the agency found that while untreated influent does not meet the requisite parameters, the treated effluent indicates that it meets the prescribed discharge standards. With cost of treatment low at the NTIEM CETP, the agency recommended that it can “explore the feasibility” of recycling or reusing the treated effluent. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/sabarmati-river-pollution-effluents-from-4-cetps-dont-meet-parameters-report-7838085/  (27 March 2022)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Narmada and Rappahannock: A Tale of Two Rivers Guest Article by Lori Udall

Narmada is an ancient river that has withstood the ages.  Can she and her peoples withstand all the dams planned for the river? The Narmada bears witness to the efforts to protect her shores, to Adivasis living in harmony and to the dams that restrict her. All of this is transitory in contrast to her timeless history.   At once, the rivers belong to everyone and to no one. https://sandrp.in/2022/04/09/narmada-and-rappahannock-a-tale-of-two-rivers/  (09 April 2022)

Opinion Why MoEF’s “River Rejuvenation Project” Misses Ganga & Much More? Manoj Misra:- As one peruses the overview DPR document one gets a feeling of a desperate author/s trying hard to get all the right words in like ‘river science’, ‘ridge to the valley’ concept et al but with little clue of what river rejuvenation is all about? It reads like a long ‘essay’ with a few pretty pictures and where most (99%) references are from foreign authors and locales.

The DPR authors are also missing the point of most references talking of positive impacts of existing ‘forests’ on the rivers and not of new plantations which may or may not in say 50-60 years ultimately become forests? To make tall claims of improved forest cover, carbon sequestration, improved groundwater recharge, reduction in sedimentation, increase in the availability of forest products and creation of man-days of work without tangible and verifiable benefits accruing to the rivers in question in terms of enhanced flows is in our view dishonest to say the least. 

The only saving grace it seems is that while a long document is in hand but unlike in the case of previous Ganga effort where funds flush NMCG was the client, here there is neither any fixed client nor money insight for the implementation of these 13 DPRs. So no matter a well-orchestrated media event and all the dust and expectations raised by the release of the overview DPR document, nothing may actually come to pass and hence wastage of public funds (other than that spent on the preparation of the DPRs) is avoided.   https://thedialogue.co.in/article/MiuGt4Tsg9D2LyuBeLa0/why-forest-ministrys-river-rejuvenation-project-misses-ganga–much-more-  (25 March 2022)

BRAHMAPUTRA Arunachal Pradesh Activist accuses NHIDCL of violating norms An environmental activist from Dibang Valley district has accused the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) of grossly violating the environmental norms by not obtaining prior consent from the Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (APSPCB) vis-à-vis the construction of National Highway (NH) 313 from Roing in Lower Dibang Valley district to Anini in Dibang Valley.

-Environmentalist Rakhini Mipi, a resident of Anini, has accused the NHIDCL of violating the Construction & Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016, and causing threat to endangered forest species, aquatic lives and wildlife by dumping muck and debris haphazardly. Mipi had filed a petition on 22 August, 2021, before the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Kolkata-based eastern zone bench, claiming that “major environmental norms violations is being found at 183 kilometres NH 313, which is connecting strategic and border district Dibang Valley headquarters Anini.” The NGT will hear the matter on 20 April this year. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/04/06/environmental-activist-accuses-nhidcl-of-violating-norms/  (06 April 2022)

Kameng River Rejuvenation Club: Determination and resolve Dr Indira Khurana The efforts of the Kameng River Rejuvenation Club (KRRC) are inspirational and prove: Don’t get depressed or complain. Take matters into your hands to make the change you want to see. And then see how people join and the movement to clean a river grows.

Speaking about the genesis of this initiative, Dr Rapa Sangno, founder of the club, says: “Every person in Seppa town has seen people dumping their garbage on the Kameng river without any guilt on their faces. I’m sure this is just not the story of Seppa alone, there are many rivers in Arunachal Pradesh suffering the same fate as the Kameng River. All of us should remind ourselves always, that a river is a collective wealth of all the living organisms that depend on it and who benefit from it.” https://globalbihari.com/a-movement-to-clean-kameng-river-grows-in-arunachal-pradesh/ 

Meghalaya HC tells govt how it can keep water bodies clean Hearing a PIL relating to the cleanliness of Umiam river, a division bench said by the last order of February 23, 2022, the scope of the present matter has been enlarged to include all water bodies in the state in addition to the Umiam Lake. “The Amicus Curiae and the State report that some measures have been taken and, even otherwise, it appears that the state may have woken up to attend to the issue,” the court observed. Further, the court said long-term measures, along with immediate steps, need to be taken particularly in the light of increasing footfall of tourists. It is absolutely imperative that the local authorities be roped in and duties and responsibilities be assigned between the state and the local bodies, the court said.

“…the initiative has to be taken by the state. General ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ have to be indicated, levels or distances beyond which tourists may not be permitted should be earmarked, a safe distance be maintained between the edge of the water bodies and vehicular traffic, including parking; and the restriction of certain material like plastics and tetra packs should be indicated…“If it appeals to the state, plastics and tetra pack-free zones around the water bodies should be demarcated, maintained and tourists and local residents be required to adhere thereto,” the bench said.

According to the court, several of the rivers, particularly those passing through Shillong or the larger towns like Nongstoin, need to be rejuvenated. It said the natural system of flow should be restored based on scientific advice in this regard. “In the meantime, appropriate steps should be taken to close the landfill site at Marten, if it has reached the saturation point, upon any alternative site being identified for immediate use,” the court further said. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/04/08/high-court-tells-govt-how-it-can-keep-water-bodies-clean/  (08 April 2022)

Odisha 3 more cities under HC scanner for river pollution The High Court has directed presence of secretaries of the municipal corporations of Bhubaneswar, Rourkela and Sambalpur over discharge of untreated sewage and polluting effluents into the rivers within their jurisdiction. The court was hearing a PIL on pollution of Kathajodi river due to unchecked discharge of untreated sewage from Cuttack city at Khan Nagar, when the situation of other major civic bodies was brought to its notice. SPCB member secretary Kailasam Murugesan on Monday (April 04) filed an affidavit indicating the deteriorating water quality in the downstream of major urban local bodies such as Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela due to discharge of partially treated or untreated domestic waste water into river bodies.

While issuing notices, the division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik directed the secretaries to remain present online on the next date of hearing on April 8.The bench said, “The secretaries of the three corporations shall inform the court of the steps taken for installation of STPs and complying with the norms specified by the SPCB regarding discharge of effluents into the rivers within their respective jurisdictions.” ‘The Orissa Water Supply and Sewerage Board (OWSSB) will inform the court on the next date the current status of completion of the 16 MLD STP at Matagajapur in Cuttack. A representative of the OWSSB shall remain present on the next date in the court,’ the bench directed. SPCB member secretary Kailasam Murugesan on Monday (April 04) filed an affidavit indicating the deteriorating water quality in the downstream of major urban local bodies such as Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela due to discharge of partially treated or untreated domestic waste water into river bodies. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/apr/06/three-more-cities-under-orissa-hc-scanner-for-river-pollution-2438615.html  (06 April 2022)

Kathajodi river situation is alarming, SPCB informs HC SPCB has informed the Orissa High Court that the unchecked discharge of untreated sewage from the city into Kathajodi river at Khan Nagar is alarming. The court had sought a report from the SPCB on the water quality at the spot where it is discharged into Kathajodi river. In pursuance of the order, the central laboratory of SPCB submitted a test report of the samples taken from the water flowing in the Kathajodi river at that spot. During the hearing of the PIL on Monday (March 28), Member Secretary of SPCB K Murugesan who was present in virtual mode stated before the court that test reports indicated a high coliform count and the presence of fecal coliform was far above the permissible limit. Murugesan described the situation as very alarming.

Untreated sewage being discharged into Kathajodi river in Cuttack. (Photo | Express)

Taking note of it, the division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik directed the CMC Executive Engineer to file by April 4 an affidavit listing the steps taken to ensure that the untreated sewage water is not released to the river. The bench further asked SPCB member secretary to file an affidavit explaining what kind of interventions are necessary by the other municipal corporations to reduce the discharge of untreated effluents into the rivers, nallahs, and streams in the State. The next hearing will be on April 4. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/mar/30/kathajodi-river-situation-is-alarming-pollution-watchdog-informs-hc-2435841.html  (30 March 2022)

HC asks SPCB, Cuttack civic body to test water quality After a gap of 2 years, the High Court has taken up the issue of Kathajodi pollution and sought reports on the water quality at the point of discharge of untreated sewage from Cuttack city into the river at Khan Nagar. A division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik has directed the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) and SPCB to depute a team to collect water samples at the point of discharge at Khan Nagar, do a quality test and submit the report before it on Saturday (March 26).

Earlier this week, the bench heard the petition filed by Khan Nagar Khapuria Silapanchal Puja Committee in 2016 and the petitioner’s counsel Khirod Rout placed a video clip and photographs of discharge of untreated effluent into the Kathajodi river. The bench also issued notices to the Chairman and Managing Director of Water Corporation of Odisha (WATCO) besides, Member Secretary of the OSPCB and a representative of CMC to remain present during the hearing on Saturday. WATCO was also directed to take immediate corrective action. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/mar/25/orissa-high-court-asks-pollution-watchdog-cuttack-civic-bodyto-test-water-quality-2434071.html  (25 March 2022)

Andhra Pradesh Govt intensifies research on GW table in Godavari, Krishna regions The State Groundwater Department is installing sub-basin equipment and piezometers in the Godavari and Krishna regions to study the groundwater table, under a World Bank-funded National Hydrology Project. East Godavari Groundwater Department Deputy Director P.S. Vijaya said that two regional study facilities (basins) would be established at Gunduru in West Godavari and Musunuru in Krishna district to study the groundwater table.

In recent years, there was tremendous pressure on the groundwater table in the Godavari and Krishna districts. In Krishna district’s uplands, the exploitation of groundwater has been banned for all purposes, given the dipping levels of the groundwater table. On Tuesday (March 29), the Groundwater Department in collaboration with Adikavi Nannaya University’s Geology Department installed two piezometers on the university campus as part of the National Hydrology Project. Geology Department (AKNU) Head K. Nookaratnam has said that the new piezometers would be monitored and maintained by the university students. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/ap-intensifies-research-on-groundwater-table-in-godavari-krishna-regions/article65271244.ece  (29 March 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Outlet of sinkhole traced 16 km downstream Tracer studies by a team of National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar has revealed that a sinkhole, which developed in Anantnag’s Brengi stream (a tributary of Jhelum river) at Kokernag on February 11, has its discharge 16 kilometres downstream at Achabal. “90% of the water going into the sinkhole has an outlet in Achabal, which is 16 km from the sinkhole,” Kokernag sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Sarib Sehran said after a meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday, Apr 6, 2022. There could be other outlets in nearby areas.

– “Based on the preliminary study and tracer studies conducted by a six-member team from NIT Srinagar, it was inferred that the phenomenon occurred due to underlying karst topography,” Kokemag SDM Sarib Sehran said.

– Ghulam Jeelani, professor and head of department of earth and environmental sciences at University of Kashmir, had earlier said that a sinkhole is an expression of an underground network of caves. “Anantnag, as the name suggests, means numerous springs and their discharge often is high in Achabal, Andarnag, Martand and Verinag. It means there is a lot of storage inside in the form of caves which take millions of years to form,” he said. “South Kashmir requires mapping of this underground cavern system. Today, it happened in the stream; tomorrow it can happen in the built up area. It can be done using foreign collaboration by conducting cave diving and geophysical surveys,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/outlet-of-sinkhole-traced-16km-away-in-kashmir-101649358040196.html  (08 April 2022)

Locals had witnessed a similar phenomenon some 27 years back in the year 1995 when one such sinkhole developed in the stream a few meters above in the same area. It was also later filled up with sand and gravel and the water of the channel had later found its discharge at Achabal Sinkholes are a natural phenomenon formed due to the gradual chemical dissolution of limestone rocks in the river. However, experts besides tracer studies have been suggesting a geophysical and gravity survey to ascertain the path of the cavities- the underground river system and to prevent any disaster. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/brengi-sinkhole-study-says-discharge-16-km-downstream-at-achabal  (07 April 2022)

SUTLEJ Punjab CPCB finds 86% of STPs in Satluj catchment area non-compliant Inspection undertaken by the CPCB has found 86% of the STPs in catchment of the Satluj to be non-compliant with the laid down norms, pointing to the lax attitude of the Punjab government towards discharge of pollutants in rivers. With a large number of towns discharging their wastewater into the Satluj, rising levels of toxicity in the river waters has become a major cause of concern as it poses a great health hazard. The industrial town of Ludhiana which falls within the catchment area of the Satluj contributes significantly to the pollution of the river.

While responding to a question pertaining to checking of industrial effluent samples in Punjab by Rajendra Gehlot, a member of Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan, the MoEF submitted that the CPCB had carried out an inspection of 14 STPs in the catchment of the Satluj in June 2021 and found 12 STPs to be non-complying.

The parliament standing committee on water resources of the Union ministry of Jal Shakti has on a couple of occasions expressed concern over the water pollution in the Ganga canal (also known as Gang canal) flowing from Punjab to Rajasthan and containing harmful and untreated chemicals discharged by the industries located in Punjab. The canal is fed from the Satluj near Ferozepur and passes through the Faridkot and Muktsar districts. The committee, in its report in 2021, had said, “This is a grave issue having a direct bearing on the health and wellbeing of villagers who are using this water for consumption and the number of cancer cases are reportedly increasing day by day.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/cpcb-finds-86-of-stps-in-satluj-catchment-area-non-compliant/articleshow/90716427.cms  (08 April 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Top pollution board official held for graft “The officer had demanded a bribe of Rs 35,000 from a hospital owner at Una for giving consent authorisation for installing a STP. The owner had been directed to install the requisite machinery from a particular vendor but he failed to do so, following which he was pressurised to shell out money,” said bureau DSP Anil Mehta, who supervised the operation. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/top-pollution-board-official-held-for-graft-382553  (01 April 2022)

-डीएसपी विजिलेंस ऊना अनिल मेहता ने बताया कि ऊना के एक निजी अस्पताल में सीवरेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट लगाया। इसके लिए प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड के आवश्यक सहमति पत्र की जरूरत थी। प्लांट के लिए फीस व अन्य औपचारिकताएं पूरी की गई थीं, लेकिन प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड की सेंट्रल लैब परवाणू सोलन के मुख्य वैज्ञानिक अधिकारी तेज बहादुर सिंह निवासी उत्तराखंड ने सहमति पत्र के लिए 35 हजार रुपये रिश्वत मांगी। डॉक्टर ने विजिलेंस को शिकायत की। विजिलेंस ने योजनाबद्ध तरीके से जाल बिछाया, जिसमें उक्त अधिकारी फंस गया और उसे कार्यालय में ही रंगे हाथ रिश्वत के रुपये लेते हुए पकड़ लिया। https://www.amarujala.com/shimla/chief-scientific-officer-of-himachal-pollution-control-board-arrested-red-handed-taking-bribe-of-35-thousand-rupees  (31 March 2022)

GANGA Bihar CAG slams govt for failing to utilise funds As much as Rs 683 crore, meant to be used under the scheme in a span of four years, was left untouched by the Bihar State Ganga River Conservation and Programme Management Society (BGCMS), according to a CAG report that was recently tabled in the Bihar Assembly. “Audit observed that only 16 to 50 per cent funds were being utilised (annually) during the period 2016-17 to 2019-20. The NMCG without ensuring the utilisation of previous installments released funds for next installments and as a result a huge fund of Rs 683.10 remained parked in the savings bank account of BGCMS,” the report said.

It also pointed out that the drainage system of Patna, the second largest urban centre in eastern India after Kolkata, was laid about 200 years ago and was in bad shape at present. “Due to lack of sewerage infrastructure in Bihar (including Patna), the maximum Total Coliform (TC) and Faecal Coliform (FC) which was measured up to the level of 9000 mpn/100 ml and 3100 mpn/100 ml in 2016-17 respectively has increased up to 160,000 MPN/100 ML (for both TC and FC) in 2019-20. This shows that water quality deteriorated during the period,” the audit report noted. The project executing agency, Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (BUIDCO), has also failed to adhere to the stipulated time line for completion of work, it added. https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/cag-slams-bihar-for-failing-to-utilise-funds-under-namami-gange-programme/cid/1859025  (04 April 2022)

रिपोर्ट में यह भी कहा गया है कि पटना की जल निकासी व्यवस्था, पूर्वी भारत में कोलकाता के बाद दूसरे सबसे बड़े शहरी इलाके में करीब 200 साल पुरानी है और वर्तमान में यह खराब स्थिति में है. रिपोर्ट में कहा गया है कि परियोजना क्रियान्वयन एजेंसी, बिहार शहरी आधारभूत संरचना विकास निगम लिमिटेड भी कार्यों को पूरा करने के लिए निर्धारित समय सीमा का पालन करने में विफल रही है. https://ndtv.in/india-news/cag-slams-bihar-government-for-failing-to-utilise-namami-gange-funds-2861699  (04 April 2022)

Uttarakhand Ravi Chopra joins protest against felling of Sal trees Environmentalist Ravi Chopra on Wednesday (April 06) joined the ongoing protest at Dehradun’s Asharodi forest against the felling of British-era Sal trees for the widening of Delhi-Dehradun expressway. Opposing the felling of trees, Chopra said, “Union minister of road, transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari, had assured us that trees wouldn’t be cut but transplanted for all the highway projects. However, the National Highways Authority of India teams on ground are proving the minister wrong. We sincerely hope that this protest reaches the ears of the minister and he looks into the matter.”

The environmentalist pointed out that the biodiversity-rich forest is the habitat of elephants, tigers, leopards, king cobra, numerous species of birds and insects, and several microorganisms. Further, a river also flows through the forest. “Rajaji National Park (RNP) is the western most end of the terai arc landscape which begins in Nepal and goes a little bit beyond Kalaser National Park being the end of it. Being a resident of Dehradun, I understand why it is necessary for us to preserve RNP. Therefore, I support the protests against tree-felling in the biodiversity-rich area,” added Chopra.

Meanwhile, nearly two dozen Dehradun residents — from all walks of life — joined the relay protest to save the trees. As part of the relay protest, residents are taking turns to guard individual trees to protect them from felling. However, several Sal trees were cut on the day and swiftly taken away through tractors, leaving residents infuriated. Besides the felling of nearly 2,500 trees, hillocks are also being flattened for the expressway despite the fact that only 3.6 km of it will run through Uttarakhand, said protesters. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/environmentalist-ravi-chopra-joins-protest-against-felling-of-sal-trees-for-widening-of-delhi-doon-e-way/articleshow/90692964.cms  (07 April 2022)

Dehradun IT Park construction: DM, MDDA get HC notice Nainital High court on Wednesday (April 06) heard a PIL alleging that the construction of an IT Park and other commercial and residential establishments proposed on “submerged land” in Sahastradhara would “harm to the ecologically fragile landscape”. The PIL, which was filed by Dehradun-resident Ajay Narayan Sharma, adds that the “submerged land” has been shown as “barren land” in official records to get clearances for construction activities. After hearing the PIL, the court issued a notice to the state govt, district magistrate Dehradun & MDDA and asked all respondents to file their replies within 4 weeks. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/doon-it-park-construction-dm-mdda-get-hc-notice/articleshow/90695448.cms  (07 April 2022)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Tamil Nadu Ennore is a case study in climate recklessness and environmental casteism Nityanand Jayaraman:- With two power plants under construction and two in the pre-licensing stage, the predominantly working class Ennore-Manali industrial area remains a site of structural environmental and social discrimination. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/tamil-nadu-s-ennore-case-study-climate-recklessness-and-environmental-casteism-162728  (08 April 2022)

Jharkhand Abandoned coal mines in Ramgarh now haven for fish farming Local residents in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh have been creating opportunities for themselves by introducing fish farming in abandoned coal mines of the Central Coal Fields Limited (CCL). People who lost their land for mining projects have come forward to push the initiative after obtaining no objection certificate from the CCL. Officials informed that currently it is being done in four coal pits and is being replicated in other places through the District Mineral Foundation Trust (DMFT) fund.  Notably, there are several coal mines in CCL project area lying empty for the last several years after coal extraction, which remains filled of water throughout the year making it suitable for fish farming.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2022/apr/04/abandoned-coal-mines-in-jharkhands-ramgarh-now-haven-for-fish-farming-2437641.html  (04 April 2022)

SAND MINING

SANDRP Blog South Zone: 25 sand and stone mining workers died since Dec. 2020 The 5 south Indian states have seen at least 64 deaths and 30 injuries (if we exclude the 25 deaths and one injury due to stone mining from the figures in table above) on account of sand mining related violence and accidents between December 2020 and March 2022. 47 people were killed and 9 had injuries due to road accidents involving sand mining vehicles in this period. https://sandrp.in/2022/04/10/south-zone-25-riverbed-mining-workers-died-since-dec-2020/  (10 April 2022)

West Zone: In 16 months 17 children died in sand mine pits In West Zone at least 71 people have been killed and 67 got injured in sand mining related violence and accidents between December 2020 and March 2022. Nearly half of the death toll 42 is attributed to road accidents involving sand transporting vehicles which has also left 21 people injured including some with grievous injuries. About 17 deaths mostly children have occurred due to drowning in sand pits while mine collapse and accidents at mine sites have taken lives of 15 people. https://sandrp.in/2022/04/06/west-zone-in-16-months-17-children-died-in-sand-mine-pits/  (06 April 2022)

East India: 57 govt officials survived sand mafia attacks since Dec. 2020 This report tracks human toll of excessive, unlawful riverbed mining excavation and transportation activities in East Indian States of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh during December 2020 and March 2022. It also documents some sand mining related fatalities in North East states of Assam and Manipur in this period.  https://sandrp.in/2022/04/06/east-india-57-govt-officials-survived-sand-mafia-attacks-since-dec-2020/  (06 April 2022)

North India: 134 people killed in sand mining violence & accidents in 16 months The available reports show that at least 134 people have lost their lives and 181 suffered injuries due to riverbed mining and transportation activities in North Indian states over past 16 months from December 2020 till March 2022. Most of the deaths (110) and injuries (130) have been due to road accidents involving sand transporting vehicles (trucks, dumpers, tractors). This is followed by 22 deaths mostly young and teenage children in sand and brick kilns pits. In the same period mishaps (mine collapse, accidents) at mining sites have killed 19 and injured 19. https://sandrp.in/2022/04/03/north-india-134-people-killed-in-sand-mining-violence-accidents-in-16-months/  (03 April 2022)

Meghalaya ‘Abode of clouds appears to be an abode of anarchy’ Venting its ire on the state government for bringing in the word “incidental” into the Meghalaya Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 2016 on January 29, 2018, the division bench of the High Court of Meghalaya observed that “the abode of clouds appears to be an abode of anarchy and, quite alarmingly, it may be state sponsored.” https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/04/06/abode-of-clouds-appears-to-be-an-abode-of-anarchy/  (06 April 2022)

-“One of the key areas where the state has to be vigilant is in how sand and silt, which have to be considered as minor minerals are allowed to be mined from the riverbeds,” the order said. According to the court, it is normal for licensees to obtain permission over a much smaller area and in respect of a limited quantum to exploit a much larger area and mine much in excess of the quantum contemplated at the time of the grant of license. “The state will also do well to indicate the environmental impact assessment undertaken prior to the issuance of any license by way of a concession for minor minerals,” the order said. The next hearing has been fixed on April 19. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/04/05/remain-vigilant-on-illegal-sand-silt-mining-hc-to-govt/  (05 April 2022)

Odisha Sand Mafia’s ‘Murder Attempt’ On Tehsildar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OaWKYKWMw0  (31 March 2022)

Andhra Pradesh Sand mining row hits Polavaram works Polavaram project head works were interrupted on Tuesday (March 22) after Jaypee Group prevented around 200 tipper lorries deployed by Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Limited (MEIL) from ferrying sand mined from the River Godavari to the construction site. Jaypee prevented the vehicles as it has been awarded a contract to mine sand in the State. MEIL is executing the irrigation project. Stating that sand mining was their responsibility, Jaypee representatives stalled works at the river bank. They said permission from the mining department was required. Although MEIL representatives explained that the executing company of Polavaram project could mine sand and they had the required permissions, Jaypee refused to budge.

In a March 19, 2022, order, Principal Secretary (Water Resources) Shashi Bhushan Kumar had directed the East Godavari district Collector not to allow sand mining by private agencies in the sand reaches near the project area (up to 10 metres downstream) of Polavaram spillway. The collector was also told allow MEIL to ply vehicles for transporting sand to Polavaram project site. Even though the orders were cited to the Jaypee Group representatives, they stood adamant and did not allow the sand mining. Polavaram project chief engineer Sudhakar Babu said steps have been initiated to resolve the issue. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/mar/23/andhra-pradesh-sand-mining-row-hits-works-2433198.html  (23 March 2022)

Telangana Notices served on govt officials over illegal sand mining On Tuesday (March 22), the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Abhinand Kumar Shavali issued notices to the Secretary, Irrigation Department, District Collectors Yadadri-Bhongir and Suryapet, and the Assistant Director, Mining, Bhongir, directing them to respond to the notices within 6 weeks by duly furnishing reasons for not taking action against persons resorting to illegal sand mining in the districts.

The Bench was adjudicating a PIL filed by Vorsu Mallesh and 8 others from Chinnapadishala village, Addagudur mandal of Yadadri-Bhongir district seeking directions to the District Collector and the Director, Mining to restrain persons from illegal sand mining near Bikkeru vagu flowing in Survey No 403 of Janakipuram and Chirragudu villages in Yadadri-Bhongir district and Tatipamula village in Thirumalgiri mandal of Suryapet district. https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-notices-served-on-govt-officials-over-illegal-sand-mining-734654  (23 March 2022)

Tamil Nadu Sand mining all set to start after 2 year gap The Water Resources Department is all set to resume sand mining operations on the banks of the Kollidam River in Tiruchi district after a gap of about two years. Sand quarries would come up at Thalakudi and Madhavaperumalkoil on the outskirts of Tiruchi, sources in the know told The Hindu. The heavy flow of water in Kollidam during the last monsoon season had resulted in accumulation of huge quantity of sand in the river. Sand had also accumulated at the sand quarries at both locations. Private lorries would not be allowed directly to load sand at the quarries. Instead, they could load sand from the depot being set up at Thalakudi and Madhavaperumalkoil.

As per a rough estimate, one unit of sand would cost ₹ 2,120 at the depot. It includes the sand cost stipulated by the State government, conveyance and loading charges. Sand would be sold only online. The buyers would have to provide details of transport for getting permits. They would have to book online for buying sand. The approximate date and time of loading sand at the depots would be intimated to the buyers in advance so as to avoid the lorries lining up unnecessary at the depots. The official said that the website for the online sale of sand was under construction. The work would be completed in a few days. The online sale of sand would begin once the website is ready. Likewise, depots are being established at Thalakudi and Madhavaperumalkoil. All needed facilities would be created at the depots for hassle-free movement of lorries and trucks, official sources said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/tiruchi/article65265203.ece  (27 March 2022)

Farmers can take silt free of cost: Govt The state government on Wednesday announced that farmers could take silt deposited in the water bodies in the state free of cost, since the ponds and tanks had become dry in several places. The silt is very rich in nutrients and would be beneficial to the farmers. An official release said that chief secretary V Irai Anbu had written a letter to all district collectors on Tuesday to allow the farmers to take silt. https://m-timesofindia-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/m.timesofindia.com/city/chennai/farmers-can-take-silt-free-of-cost-govt/amp_articleshow/90694734.cms  (07 April 2022)

Karnataka Large scale illegal soil mining for infra projects, farming activities has affected Gubi village topography, deleted top fertile layer. https://www.deccanherald.com/video/state/top-karnataka-stories/how-the-topsoil-vanished-from-this-village-in-karnataka-1098554.html  (07 April 2022)

Punjab Working to frame new pro-people sand mining policy: CM Bhagwant Mann on Thursday (April 07) said a new comprehensive pro-people sand mining policy will be framed and added that his government is committed to ensure seamless supply of construction material at affordable rates. He said the Mines and Geology Department is in the process to reassess available quantity of sand at the existing mining sites and subsequently new sites will be included in the forthcoming mining policy after a comprehensive study. He asked sand contractors to strictly comply with the terms aofnd conditions of mining stipulated in the agreement with the state government to ensure hassle-free supply of sand to people. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/working-to-frame-new-pro-people-sand-mining-policy-punjab-cm-bhagwant-mann-7858940/  (08 April 2022)

Congress leader Navjot Sidhu on Friday took a dig at CM Bhagwant Mann, who recently announced to bring in a pro-people mining policy to provide sand and gravel at affordable prices. Sidhu said that a sand trolley, which was priced at Rs 4,000 a month ago, now cost Rs 9,000; out of the reach of the ‘Aam Aadmi,’ hence construction had stalled. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/navjot-sidhu-takes-a-dig-at-punjabs-aap-govt-says-construction-stalled-as-sand-out-of-reach-of-aam-aadmi-384646  (08 April 2022)

Bihar सोन में डूबने से संदेश प्रमुख के बेटे की मौत  भोजपुर के संदेश प्रखंड प्रमुख के इकलौते पुत्र की सोन नदी में होली के दिन नहाने के दौरान डूबने से मौत हो गई। मृतक संदेश थाना क्षेत्र के बिछियांव गांव निवासी पूर्व बीडीसी सदस्य सत्येंद्र मेहता व वर्तमान प्रमुख रीमा मेहता का पुत्र अभीषेक कुमार उर्फ सागर (15 वर्ष) था। हादसे के संबंध में बताया जाता है कि होली खेलने के बाद अभिषेक अपने अन्य दोस्तों के साथ संदेश स्थित सोन नदी में नहाने गया था। वह तीर्थकॉल बालू घाट के लिए बनाये गये रास्ते से सोन नदी में नहाने पहुंचा। नहाने के क्रम में अचानक अत्यधिक गहराई में चले जाने से डूबकर उसकी मौत हो गई।

स्थानीय लोगों के अनुसार सोन नदी घाट पर बालू माफियाओं की मनमानी के कारण ऐसे हादसे लगातार हो रहे हैं। इसे लेकर लोगों का प्रशासन के प्रति काफी आक्रोश दिखा। आक्रोशित लोगों ने सीओ के साथ धक्का-मुक्की भी की। वहीं सकड्डी-नासरीगंज एसएच 81 को भी जाम कर दिया। नियमों को ताक पर रख सोन नदी में अवैध ढंग से खनन किया जा रहा है। संदेश प्रखंड के सभी घाटों पर तय मानक के विपरीत नदी में 30 से 40 फुट गड्ढा कर दिया जा रहा है। वहीं संदेश, तीर्थकॉल, चिल्होस एवं नानसागर में नदी में बांध बांधकर नदी की धारा को मोड़ दिया गया है। इससे अक्सर इस क्षेत्र में ऐसे हादसे होते रहते हैं।

बीते वर्ष 4 सितंबर 2021 को दाह संस्कार करने के दौरान नसरतपुर के तीन युवक नदी में डूब गये थे। इसके बाद संदेश टोला पर भी एक व्यक्ति की डूबने से मौत हुई थी। लोगों का आरोप है कि जिला प्रशासन या खनन विभाग इस पर कोई कार्रवाई नहीं कर रहा है। इससे सोन तटीय क्षेत्र में इस तरह के हादसे अक्सर होते रहते हैं। https://www.livehindustan.com/bihar/ara/story-sandesh-pramukh-39-s-son-dies-due-to-drowning-in-son-6068288.html  (20 March 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Navi Mumbai: Wetlands panels have failed, committee member writes to chief Environmentalist D Stalin who is a member of the Bombay high court-appointed wetlands grievance redressal committee, has written a stinging letter to the panel head, the Konkan division commissioner, that both the wetlands and mangroves protection committees have failed to resolve cases of eco damages due to non-compliance from various state departments. Stalin, who is also the director of Vanashakti NGO, has further stated in his letter that the wetlands and mangroves panels should stop trying to resolve complaints and fully update the high court that various state authorities are not cooperating in order to get closure reports for various environmental issues regarding wetlands and mangroves.

“The Wetlands Grievance Redressal Committee and the Mangroves protection committee have failed to restore a single site that was degraded or reclaimed. Complaints have been steadily increasing. The corporations, and urban bodies which were directed to restore the degraded sites have consistently lied and refused to perform their duty,” Stalin stated while addressing the Konkan division commissioner, Vilas Patil. Talking to TOI, Stalin said: “It is frustrating to be a part of the high court appointed committees, yet not be able to restore the damaged or reclaimed wetlands and mangroves although the panels do have the power to pull up officials for non-compliance. I have also mentioned in my letter that the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Managing Authority (MCZMA) has not attended a single meeting of our panels in the last six years, while the MPCB has only attended a few. With such casual approach by various agencies, it is leading to piling up of more complaints with us, but no closure or final solution.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/hc-apppointed-panels-have-failed-to-protect-wetlands-mangroves/articleshow/90694645.cms  (07 April 2022)

He added that only the state forest department, has actively responded to the panel meetings and directions; while various civic bodies and other departments have remained inactive to the problems at hand. “The details of the cases showing dereliction of duty need to be submitted on affidavit to the hon’ble high court. We will need to appraise the court on the true state of affairs. Unless we do that, we should consider ourselves also as being in contempt of the court orders,” wrote Stalin.

Environmentalist B N Kumar of NatConnect Foundation reacted to this development by saying: “Several of the mangroves and wetlands committees’ orders have been ignored by the concerned officials – from Cidco to PWD. For instance, we have been complaining about destruction of mangroves along the Sion-Panvel highway for the past three and half years; but PWD officials did not respond. So the complaints went in the pending stack.” “We have been losing mangroves and wetlands particularly in biodiversity rich Uran with no action from any of the officials despite the high court committees setting deadlines that no one follows,” Kumar regretted. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-wetlands-and-mangroves-panels-have-failed-committee-member-writes-to-chief/articleshow/90669456.cms  (05 April 2022)

Karnataka Govt begins work on conservation of 10 wetlands The 10 lakes/wetlands were selected under a programme launched in 2020 by the MOEF to develop 100 wetlands across the country. A senior official said the Bonal lake in Yadgir, Heggeri lake in Haveri, Hidkal lake in Belagavi and KG Koppa in Shivamogga were four wetlands whose role in hosting rich biodiversity had been recognised.

The Forest department will soon come up with full set of information on the unique ecological role played by these wetlands. The Forest department will also prepare a detailed development plan for the Gudavi bird sanctuary in the Shivamogga district. “To ensure support at the local level, we are ensuring that none of the programmes we take up will have a negative impact on them,” the officer said.

Sources said the BDA was directed to come up with a detailed project report (DPR) for the development of Bellandur and Varthur lakes on the model of Ramsar sites. Another official said a meeting will be held to fix the responsibility of each of the 10 wetlands to a particular department or authority. The Forest department is seeking international recognition of the Aghanashini estuary, which is believed to meet all the criteria of a Ramsar site. Besides coming up with DPRs for further development, the department has been told to submit the documentation for Aghanashini, Magadi lake and Ranganthittu to nominate them as Ramsar sites at the earliest. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/karnataka-govt-begins-work-on-conservation-of-10-wetlands-1091983.html  (16 March 2022)

Video Report Science Behind a Constructed Wetland To Treat Sewage Fresh water is very scarce, take a look at a natural ecosystems technique to purify raw black sewage water to clean water, using the system of constructed wetland. No use of electricity or giant STP’s, mere use of gravity, plants and insects helps clean water. Watch it on Life in Science with Pallava Bagla’ on India Science channel. https://youtu.be/5_2l7FdAMyk  (02 April 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

axman Singh has created a new technique for water conservation, called the ‘Chauka system’. Photo: Indra Shekhar Singh

Rajasthan New Method of Water Conservation Instead of building contours to hold water, the Chauka system is designed to hold a 9-inch water level spread over a field. Once the level is full, the water is drained and the moisture is recycled. Although his work is limited to 100 villages, Laxman is a local water warrior striving to bring water to communities. His method offers an efficient way to transform arid and degraded land, cost-efficiently. It’s not fancy, tech-driven or fossil fuel-guzzling, but is rooted in traditional knowledge and community-driven conservation. Something India really needs to think about right now. https://thewire.in/environment/laxman-singh-chauka-system-water-conservation-rajasthan  (07 April 2022)

Bengaluru With a goal to achieve net positive water use by 2030, Intel has rejuvenated Lake Nanjapura and Lake Dyavasandra in Bengaluru which will add an estimated 120 million gallons of water to the city. https://yourstory.com/2022/03/intel-projects-recharging-bengalurus-groundwater-improving-biodiversity/amp  (22 March 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Uttar Pradesh Pilibhit District Announces Water Wastage as a State Offence Pilibhit district administration has announced that water wastage at automobile service stations and public places will now be a state offence.Pilibhit has become the first district in the state to have announced such a move. The penalty for defying the rule will be decided soon, said, officials. Chief Development Officer (CDO), Prashant Srivastav, said that the administration would also impose a ban on the plantation of eucalyptus in the district since it absorbs large amounts of groundwater. The administration is also planning to launch mass awareness programmes for farmers to opt for tree plantations to replace eucalyptus. The CDO added that prohibiting the cultivation of summer paddy would be more rigorous for the conservation of groundwater. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2022-03-30-ups-pilibhit-district-announces-water-wastage-as-a-state-offence  (30 March 2022)

URBAN WATER

Chennai Silt-choked reservoirs undoing monsoon blessings The combined water storage of the five reservoirs – Chembarambakkam, Red Hills, Poondi, Thervoy Kandigai and Cholavaram – stands at 8,824 mcft while it was 9,337 mcft at the same time last year.

– A project was taken up in 2019 to desilt Chembarambakkam, Red Hills, Poondi, Cholavaram at a cost of approximately Rs 36 crore. The project was also expected to bring in additional revenue with the sale of excavated sand. Chembarambakkam alone was expected to generate Rs 191 crore. The project duration was eight years to desilt the entire lake, which has a storage capacity of 3,645 million cubic feet (mcft). As much as 151.80 lakh cubic metres of silt was to be removed and transported through 25.30 lakh lorry loads. Work orders were sanctioned but the project never really took off.

– “There are more than 500 tanks in Chennai, but none of them are desilted,” said K Varadhan, a water conservation activist. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/apr/04/silt-choked-reservoirs-in-chennaiundoing-blessings-of-bountiful-northeast-monsoon-2437608.html  (04 April 2022)

Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) Mayor, R. Priya, the first Dalit woman Mayor of Chennai, in the Rs 789 crore deficit budget for the financial year 2022-23 has given a major thrust on stormwater drains in the budget as the 2021 floods had led to the city being inundated in water.

In 2021, the floods in Chennai led to five people losing their lives and many becoming homeless. The Madras High Court had come down heavily on the state government and the Greater Chennai Corporation for their “unpreparedness” to tackle the sudden and unexpected heavy rains. The court had observed, “For half the year we are made to cry for water, and the other half we are made to die in it.” https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2022-04-10-chennai-budget-allocated-to-repairing-stormwater-drains  (10 April 2022)

Bengaluru Zilla panchayat fails to protect Gattahalli lake from land sharks Spread over 100 acres, Gattahalli lake located off Sarjapur Road in Anekal has fallen prey to rampant encroachment. Local activists said that more than one lakh square feet of the lake have already been encroached by land sharks.

More than one lakh square feet of the lake have already been encroached by land sharks. (Express photo)

Explaining the significance of the lake, Army personnel Captain (retd) Santhosh Kumar said, “Under the KC Valley lift irrigation project, more than 45 lakes in Anekal will be filled with treated water and Gattahalli lake is important for this project. This lake receives water from Rayasandra lake and through the Rajakaluve (storm water drain) it is connected to Huksur lake, which, in turn, is connected to Singenagrahara lake and finally to Muthanallur lake. Unfortunately, the storm water drain connecting Gattahalli lake to Huskur has been encroached upon. However, the revenue department has cleared the encroachment between Singenagrahara lake and Muthanallur lake.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-zilla-panchayat-fails-to-protect-gattahalli-lake-from-land-sharks-7861756/  (10 April 2022)

Hyderabad Water shortage, erratic supply haunt residents -In its bid to resolve the water deficit issues in Hyderabad, the water board has taken up a two-phase pipeline laying and reservoir construction works at a projected cost of  Rs 1,200 crore.   https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/060422/water-shortage-erratic-supply-haunt-residents.html  (06 April 2022)

Sambalpur Acute water crisis Erratic and inadequate water supply has made life difficult for the people living on the outskirts of Sambalpur reeling under the heatwave. “It is happening due to the low water pressure in the pipeline,” said executive engineer of the public health engineering organisation (PHEO) Bhagyadhara Mohanty, who has received many complaints on this issue.

To mitigate the problem, the PHEO has started pressing tankers into service in the water-starved localities. Enforcement officer of the SMC Subhankar Mohanty said “We are coordinating with the PHEO whenever we are getting complaints about water scarcity. The SMC has procured two tankers to provide water to people. The SMC has also planned to set up 50 water kiosks across the city to provide drinking water to commuters. The kiosks will start operating from April 15. The SMC has started repairing defunct Amrut Dhara (concrete structure to store drinking water) at 20 locations. The Amrut Dhara will also be ready by April 15,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/odisha-sambalpur-faces-acute-water-crisis/articleshow/90719960.cms  (08 April 2022)

Vadodara People illegally charged Rs 500 for supply The water scam got exposed when an audiovisual clip went viral on the internet where an employee of the department can be seen taking Rs 500 for the adequate water supply in the area. The employee can be seen taking the money for the tanker that is supposed to be free. In the audio, the employee is telling that water has been transported by tanker to the nearby villages as well and, right now, its price is running at Rs 500. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/vadodara-water-scam-exposed-people-illegally-charged-rs-500-for-supply-1934489-2022-04-07  (07 April 2022)

Ghaziabad 19 children fall ill, water samples sent for testing A number of children at Landcraft Golflinks, adjacent to National Highway 9, reportedly fell sick on Wednesday, following which teams from the health department had to be rushed to the residential society for medical assistance. Health officials said the 19 children complained of abdominal pain, vomiting and loose motions. They said that residents alleged impurities in the water tank of the residential complex may have been the cause of the children’s sickness. Residents said the lid of the water tanks were found open and litter was found inside. The high-rise has about 1,700 flats. Almost 60-70% of the flats are occupied.

Many residents of the society also staged a protest against the maintenance staff of the high-rise. Meanwhile, environmentalists said the authorities should also check the quality of groundwater. “Apart from testing the water in overhead tanks, the authorities should also test groundwater samples to see if there is any contamination,” said Akash Vashishtha, a city-based environmentalist. Meanwhile, district magistrate has formed a committee, which will be headed by additional district magistrate (city), an additional CMO and general manager (water works) of the Ghaziabad municipal corporation to conduct inquiry in the matter and submit a report within 15 days, said a spokesperson from the district magistrate’s office. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/19-children-in-ghaziabad-condominium-fall-ill-water-samples-sent-for-testing-101649270624549.html  (07 April 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

Delhi 4 Die After Falling Into Sewer A day after three private contract workers and a rickshaw driver fell into a sewer line in Rohini, a NDRF team recovered the four bodies during early hours of Wednesday, 30 March. Bacchu Singh, Pintu, Suraj Kumar Sahni, who had been conducting wiring work for telecom company MTNL, had fallen and got trapped in the sewer at Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar’s Main Bawana Road on Tuesday evening. A 38-year-old rickshaw driver, Satish Ratan Lal, who had attempted to rescue the trapped men, had also fallen into the sewer. Rescue operations were underway to retrieve the trapped men through the night. The bodies of the men were lying on an iron net on the sewer, above which there were MTNL lines, as per the police. https://www.thequint.com/news/india/mtnl-workers-and-a-rickshaw-driver-trapped-in-sewer-in-delhis-rohini-rescue-ops-on#read-more  (30 March 2022)

2 dead after falling in DJB STP Two men who went down a pit at a Delhi Jal Board sewage treatment plant to repair a mechanical part died on Wednesday (March 30) in east Delhi’s Kondli, police said, adding that a case has been registered under relevant sections. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/two-dead-after-falling-in-djb-sewage-plant-101648674832562.html  (31 March 2022)

Were given meagre pay, no safety equipment, say kin of workers who died inside sewer line. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/were-given-meager-pay-no-safety-equipment-say-kin-of-workers-who-died-in-sewer-line/article65275800.ece  (30 March 2022)

3 arrested for negligence a day after STP deaths in Kondli. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/three-arrested-for-negligence-a-day-after-stp-deaths/articleshow/90578741.cms  (01 April 2022)

Massive fire breaks out at Ghazipur landfill site A massive fire broke out at a landfill site in east Delhi’s Ghazipur on Monday (March 28), leading to a huge cloud of smoke enveloping the region and neighbouring areas. No casualty has been reported, a fire department official said.

According to data shared by the fire department, a total of four fire incidents at landfill sites — two each at Bhalswa and Tughlakabad — took place till Sunday (March 28) this year. Last year, during the same period, a total of 16 fire incidents — 12 at Bhalswa and four at Ghazipur — took place. In 2020, a total of 15 such incidents were reported and 37 were reported in 2019, the data stated.

East Delhi Municipal Corporation’s (EDMC) standing committee chairman Beer Singh Panwar said the fire was caused due to “high temperature” as plastic is one of the major components of the legacy waste and methane keeps getting generated. Meanwhile, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to submit a report on the incident within 24 hours. In April last year, the DPCC had imposed a fine of Rs 40 lakh on the EDMC after a fire broke out at the Ghazipur landfill site. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/massive-fire-breaks-out-at-ghazipur-landfill-site-delhi-government-seeks-report-7841877/  (29 March 2022)

Two days after a fire broke out at the Ghazipur landfill, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday (March 30) directed the DPCC to impose a fine of ₹50 lakh on the EDMC for negligence and also sought action against officials on duty at the time of the incident. Rai also said the government will hold a high-level meeting on April 4 to prepare a plan to prevent such fires from taking place across landfills in Delhi. Separately, on Wednesday (March 30), the Environment Committee of the Delhi assembly, headed by MLA Atishi, also issued summons to the EDMC commissioner regarding the fire and the deposition will also take place on April 4. The Ghazipur landfill blaze broke out on Monday (March 28) and firefighting operations went on for over two days, finally ending on Wednesday (March 30) evening. Delhi Police on Wednesday (March 30) said they have filed a FIR against unknown persons and have begun investigation in the matter. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhi-govt-to-fine-east-mcd-50l-over-ghazipur-landfill-fire-101648664696536.html  (30 March 2022)

Chandigarh Fire at Dadu Majra dumping ground A major fire broke out at the dumping ground in Dadumajra near Sector 38 (West) around 1.30 am on Wednesday (April 06), engulfing the nearby areas in thick smoke. With firemen still fighting to douse the blaze till almost 20 hours later, residents of Dadumajra, Sector 38 (West), Sector 25 and Dhanas Colony complained of breathing difficulty, and irritation in the throat and eyes, besides foul smell. Commuters passing by these areas also faced breathing and visibility issues. Four fire tenders and two water bowsers were still at the site till the filing of this report. Fire fighters said the fire was expected to be doused during the night or by early Thursday (April 7) morning.

In April last year as well, a massive fire had broken out at the dumping ground and the flames continued to simmer for around two days. After a similar major fire last year, the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC), along with the MC chief inspector, had inspected the site and found that the solid waste catches fire due to release of methane gas.

MC officials have expressed helplessness at controlling the fires at the dump in summer because of the high concentration of the gas. They say only total cleaning up of the legacy waste can permanently solve the problem, as also repeatedly demanded by residents.

Of the total legacy waste at the landfill, 5 lakh MT (million tonnes) is from before 2005 and is being bio-mined under a Smart City project. More than 3 lakh MT has been removed since December 2019, while the rest will be cleared by December this year.

The ₹77-crore second phase under the Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 will target the remaining 7.5 lakh MT legacy waste dumped at the Dadumajra site after 2005. Of the around 550-600 MT garbage generated by Chandigarh, most of it is dumped at the landfill without processing. As a result, around 9.5 lakh MT of legacy is piled up at the 25-acre landfill.

The dumping ground witnessed, on an average, 30 fires per year between 2005 and 2021. As per information accessed under the RTI Act, 486 minor and major fires were reported at the site since 2005.

The repeated fires are not only creating major health issues for people, but even wastage of water and soil. In the last six years, approximately 40 lakh litres of water have been used to douse the multiple fires at the site. As per a rough estimate, this quantity is enough to meet the daily water needs of approximately 16,000 people. Also, after a major fire in February last year, 2,835 MT soil was used to cover the fire affected area. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/chandigarh-chokes-on-smoke-after-fire-at-dumping-ground-101649229577472.html  (07 April 2022)

Haryana 2 die while cleaning STP Two brothers died after allegedly inhaling poisonous gas while cleaning the tank of a sewage treatment plant on Jogipur road in Nuh on Thursday (March 24) evening. Police said the victims, Javed (35) and his younger brother Zahid (25) were not equipped with protective gear such as masks, safety belts and boots. Police have booked the joint engineer of the plant for culpable homicide after the victims’ family alleged that he had pressured the victims to enter the tank despite repeated refusals and threatened to fire them. The deceased, residents of Sadai village in Nuh, worked as a pump operator and gardener at the plant.

Police said around 5 pm, the brothers entered the 25-feet deep tank and were allegedly forced to clean the tank and fix its motor. Bijender Singh, SHO Nuh City, said, “The STP is under the public health department. One of the brothers first entered the tank and got on a platform and started cleaning the tank, which had some water. When he reached the bottom, he suddenly felt dizzy and fell unconscious. The second brother then went to help him and tried to pull him out, but he also fell unconscious due to the poisonous gas that had built up in the tank.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/two-brothers-die-while-cleaning-tank-of-sewage-treatment-plant-in-nuh-7836799/  (26 March 2022)

161 died while cleaning sewers in 3 years: Govt The Centre on Wednesday (April 06) said that no one succumbed to manual scavenging in India but 161 workers have died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last three years. Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of such deaths at 27, followed by 26 in Uttar Pradesh, the data showed. Kumar also told the Rajya Sabha that 58,098 manual scavengers were identified across the country in two surveys in 2013 and 2018. The highest number of manual scavengers was reported from Uttar Pradesh.

8,098 manual scavengers were identified across the country in two surveys in 2013 and 2018 ( HT File)

The union minister added that the ministry had also launched a mobile app “Swachchata Abhiyaan” in 2020 to obtain data on unsanitary toilets and manual scavengers, if any, associated with them. “However, not a single insanitary latrine has been confirmed so far,” he added. Manual scavenging is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. The caste-based practice was first banned in 1993 but activists allege that it still prevails. The government distinguishes between manual scavenging – a caste-based practice of people cleaning human excreta by hand – and the practice of cleaning sewers and septic tanks though experts point out that the latter is a mere extension of the now-banned practice. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/no-manual-scavenging-deaths-161-died-while-cleaning-sewers-in-3-years-govt-101649247631971.html  (06 April 2022)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Telangana No weddings in 10 adivasi habitations The reason residents of these hamlets give for postponement of weddings is non-availability of water. Officials of Mission Bhagiratha had approved laying of pipelines to these habitations for supply of drinking water perennially; more so in summer, when there is acute water shortage. Locals say adivasis have to travel a kilometre or two for fetching water, as rivulets and streams; apart from borewells, go dry. Tribal people are thus heavily banking on regular water supply through Mission Bhagiratha pipelines.

Officials of forest department, however, have not given permission for laying of the water pipelines through the forest. They maintain that the 10 habitations have come up illegally in the reserve forest, with people migrating there from neighbouring Chhattisgarh district. They maintain that giving permission for water pipelines through the reserve forest will legitimise these habitations. Subsequently, they may even resort for podu cultivation by burning down forests, thereby destroying the reserve forests. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/070422/no-weddings-in-10-adivasi-habitations-this-summer.html  (07 April 2022)

FLOOD

West Bengal CAG report reveals lapses in flood management A performance audit on the implementation of flood control measures in West Bengal by the CAG has revealed lapses in planning, monitoring and the even quality of materials used in flood control works. West Bengal is one of the prime flood-prone areas in the country with 37,660 sq. km. which is 42% of the total geographical area that’s susceptible to floods. The report pointed out that during the period 2013-17, the value of damage caused by floods to crops, houses and public utilities was ₹43,997.27 crore, the average annual damages being ₹8,799.54, which is much higher than the all-India average of the last 60 years. The audit report, which was tabled in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly last week, also refers to non-utilisation of funds for flood management. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cag-report-reveals-lapses-in-west-bengals-flood-management/article65284406.ece  (02 April 2022)

LANDSLIDES

Meghalaya today (April 04) reported as many as seven landslides which claimed  two lives  besides causing damage to public property and infrastructure. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/04/04/landslides-claim-two-lives-in-meghalaya/  (04 April 2022) 

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Anaarkali Blog The Saga of Bhil Adivasi Indigenous People Rahul Banerjee on completing 4 decades of Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath starting from Alirajpur in Western Madhya Pradesh: Whether it is in the sphere of culture, agriculture or natural resource conservation, the Adivasi mass movements have forcefully registered their presence with viable alternatives that are based on their indigenous knowledge. However, these are all on the margins because they do not have any government backing and instead have to fight against the irrational and destructive destructive development policies of the State.

The encouraging thing is that the battle goes on and we have not given up the struggle!!! https://anar-kali.blogspot.com/2022/04/battling-on.htm  (07 April 2022)

Kerala About proposed ESZ in Neyyar & Peppara wildlife sanctuaries On March 25, the MoEFCC issued a draft notification to declare an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) that will encompass large swathes of human-inhabited areas around the Neyyar and the Peppara wildlife sanctuaries in Thiruvananthapuram.

What activities are bound to be prohibited in the ESZ?:- The draft notification chiefly proposes a blanket prohibition on 15 activities. These include a ban on all new and existing commercial mining, stone quarrying and crushing units. New industries and expansion of existing polluting industries shall not be permitted. The restrictions will also prevent the setting up for major hydroelectric projects, solid waste disposal sites, large-scale commercial livestock and poultry farms, saw mills, other wood-based industrial units and brick kilns. It will also stop the use or production of hazardous substances, discharge of untreated effluents in natural waterbodies or land area, manufacture and storage of explosives items, commercial use of firewood, dumping of solid, plastic and chemical wastes in rivers and land areas, and encroachment of riverbanks.

What are the apprehensions and demands of the local populace?:- The local bodies fear that the regulations could adversely impact normal life as well as their growth prospects. The restrictions are likely to hinder the ongoing infrastructure development projects including the Hill Highway project that is aimed at improving road connectivity in the high ranges. The residents, some of whose families settled in these parts over seven decades ago, fear such hindrances could also stagnate the quality of life and eventually lead to a phased migration from the region. Numerous families who have been awaiting the disbursal of title deeds for occupied lands also feared the notification could dash their hopes.. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/explained-proposed-eco-sensitive-zone-in-neyyar-and-peppara-wildlife-sanctuaries/article65298862.ece  (07 April 2022)

Goa Realign power lines to save Mollem forest: SC to Tamnar In a significant order, the Supreme Court has approved the recommendation made by the central empowered committee (CEC) for realignment of the Tamnar power transmission line along the existing one instead of “clearing a canopy of virgin forest cover”. “After examining the report No. 6 and hearing the learned counsel for the parties, we approve the recommendations made by CEC in Report No. 6 and direct suitable steps to be taken in accordance with the recommendations made therein. Consequent to the acceptance of the report submitted by the CEC, the recommendation made by National Board for Wildlife dated April 7, 2020, is set aside,” the Supreme Court has said in its interim order.

In its order, the SC said that the CEC was of the opinion that the project proposed by the Goa Tamnar Transmission Project Ltd (GTTPL) “would be detrimental to the fragile ecosystem of the Western Ghats”. CEC was of the view that instead of clearing a canopy of virgin forest cover along the 10.5km-long corridor with 46m ROW in Goa, the proposed 400 KV line should be drawn along the existing 220 KV corridor line in Goa after establishing a 400 KV corridor connectivity between Mapusa and Sangod and 220 KV line between Sangod and Xeldem, the SC court said on Thursday (April 07). CEC had recommended that the project proposal in respect to the Karnataka section should also be suitably amended so as to make use of the 110/220 KV line corridor, which will ensure that the commitment given by the power grid and CEA to the Karnataka government, that no further transmission line shall be laid in the area, is not violated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/realign-power-lines-to-save-mollem-forest-sc-to-tamnar/articleshow/90735787.cms  (08 April 2022)

CLIMATE CHANGE

IPCC Mitigation of Climate Change IPCC report and related materials released on April 4, 2022: The Working Group III report of 6th Assessment provides an updated global assessment of climate change mitigation progress and pledges, and examines the sources of global emissions. It explains developments in emission reduction and mitigation efforts, assessing the impact of national climate pledges in relation to long-term emissions goals. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg3/

SOUTH ASIA

INDO NEPAL POWER TRADE: PM Sher Bahadur Deuba and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Saturday (April 02) agreed on the Joint Vision Statement on Power Sector Cooperation which talks about expanding cooperation in the power sector to include their partner countries under the Bangladesh Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) framework, subject to mutually agreed upon terms and conditions between all involved parties. https://tkpo.st/3u8YVve  (05 April 2022)

ASIA

Iraq Young Give Lease Of Life To River That Birthed Civilisations Garbage clogs the banks of Iraq’s Tigris River in Baghdad but an army of young volunteers is cleaning it, a rare environmental project in the war-battered country. With boots and gloves, they pick up soggy trash, water bottles, aluminium cans and muddy styrofoam boxes, part of a green activist campaign called the Cleanup Ambassadors. “This is the first time this area has been cleaned since 2003,” shouts a passer-by about the years of conflict since a US-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/tigris-river-iraqs-young-give-lease-of-life-to-tigris-river-that-birthed-civilisations-2874995  (10 April 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

When Rivers Speak: A Storytelling Tapestry of a Regions Waterways “We, at Talking Wings, have woven a new tapestry for waterways that bring life to the valley we call home. We have woven a constellation of stories, sharing the voices of the rivers of the St. Lawrence (Kanniatarowanneneh) River Valley, Haudenosaunee Territory. To honor the human and non-human communities that depend on these vital waterways, we created an animated storytelling platform. This interactive website houses watercolor-animations and poems told from the perspective of the rivers and their non-human guardians.” https://globaltapestryofalternatives.org/newsletters:07:rivers 

Study NASA finds new way to monitor underground water loss Researchers have untangled puzzling patterns of sinking and rising land to pin down the underground locations where water is being pumped for irrigation. Scientists have produced a new method that holds the promise of improving groundwater management—critical to both life and agriculture in dry regions. The method sorts out how much underground water loss comes from aquifers confined in clay, which can be drained so dry that they will not recover, and how much comes from soil that’s not confined in an aquifer, which can be replenished by a few years of normal rains.

This map shows changes in the mass of water, both above ground and underground, in California from 2003 to 2013, as measured by NASA’s GRACE satellite. The darkest red indicates the greatest water loss. The Central Valley is outlined in yellow; the Tulare Basin covers about the southern third. Extreme groundwater depletion has continued to the present. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SVS

The researchers thought these mysterious short-term variations might hold the key to determining the sources of pumped water. “The main question was, how do we interpret the change that’s happening on these shorter time scales: Is it just a blip, or is it important?” said Kyra Kim, a postdoctoral fellow at JPL and coauthor of the paper, which appeared in Nature Scientific Reports. https://phys.org/news/2022-04-nasa-underground-loss.html  (05 April 2022)

The Untold Story Of Grasses:  William Bond https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAoVZoZpqro  (21 Feb. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 04 April 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 28 March 2022  

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

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