DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 18 April 2022: Clean Hydro does not make much sense in India: Experts

(Feature image:- Following massive landslides in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh sees growing protests against hydropower projects. DTE)

As the following report from Energy Monitor this week says, according to international experts, the idea that hydro is clean does not make sense. They say that for a number of reasons including for the social risks, environmental risks and the increased emissions of methane due to rotting of organic matter flowing in the river and settling in the reservoirs. In spite of some apparent inherent misconceptions, this part of the report is sound and should be a wakeup call for the supporters of big hydro in India. As the report suggests this is particularly true in the context of climate change. Indeed, this has been our own experience in India with increasing disasters related to hydro projects and the increasing unviability of the hydro projects in India.

The climate risk for hydropower “The idea that hydro is clean makes sense in New Zealand – it does not make as much sense in India, particularly if you’re not doing maintenance,” Sydney based director of Climate Energy Finance, Tim Buckley says. “You’ve got to dredge dams every year, and obviously a country as poor as India can’t always afford to do the dredging, so not only does the capacity progressively decline but the methane goes up over time.”

– “Building new hydropower generation projects is expensive and challenging,” sums up Roxana Munoz, an assistant vice-president analyst for Latin America at credit ratings agency Moody’s in Mexico City. “You have environmental risks and you have social risks.”

– But, like all power sources, there are challenges associated with hydropower. Land use, displacement of communities, and biodiversity loss pose major social risks for hydro, while climate change threatens the twin extremes of severe storms – overwhelming dams – and extended periods of drought.

– “Modernisation is critical for the hydropower fleet globally,” says Campbell from the IHA. “Quite a lot of the assets are now quite old – around 50%, 600GW, is now 30 years or older, and something like 400GW, or around a third of the fleet, is 40 years or older. You can usually increase your generation … by about 5–10% with a basic modernisation programme,” he adds. https://www.energymonitor.ai/tech/renewables/the-climate-risk-for-hydropower  (13 April 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Arunachal Pradesh Power company orders people to move away from Ranganadi dam Experts and activists argue it is the wrong approach. What is needed is an early warning system. Water expert Himanshu Thakkar, who is the coordinator of the SANDRP, also emphasised that the river was a commons and not the property of NEEPCO. According to him, the power corporation should withdraw the circular, which seemed to project an unsafe way of operating the dam during the monsoon. He objected to the plan to maintain the dam at full reservoir level throughout the season.

The dam on the Ranganadi in Arunachal Pradesh before the river enters Assam | NEEPCO Website/ The Scroll

“The rule says that they can only fill up the reservoir towards the end of the monsoon,” he said. “During the monsoon, dams should be operated at the minimum drawdown level,” he said. This is the lowest water level that can be maintained to support normal operating conditions in the dam. All dams need to be operated according to the rule curve. This is a plot of how much water should be stored in the reservoir at each point in time, ideally governed by monsoon patterns. According to Thakkar, the dam could not hit full reservoir level before the end of the monsoon. Maintaining high water levels, Thakkar argued, only created the risk of disaster in downstream areas. “The Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments should protest,” he said.  https://scroll.in/article/1021665/power-company-orders-people-to-move-away-from-ranganadi-dam-in-the-north-east-as-monsoons-approach  (14 April 2022)

Centre EC validity for hydropower, nuclear, mining projects extended  “The Ministry should not have done it. The situation in the river valleys is changing so fast, especially in view of climate change. It would be incorrect to assume that the conditions mentioned in the EIA would remain the same in 15 years. Moreover most EIAs do not even mention climate change,” said Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP. https://ommcomnews.com/india-news/environmental-clearance-validity-for-hydropower-nuclear-mining-projects-extended  (14 April 2022)

“Validity of environmental approvals need to be understood from financial, social and regulatory dimensions and linked with the conversation on economic crisis. An increase in the number of years within which projects come into operations indicates that environment clearances are not the reason for delays as signaled for over a decade. In fact, pre-existing environmental clearances are an asset for project developers to secure finances. At the same time, there are social factors, including land acquisition and loss of forests that have to be factored in economic policy and project design. Rendering these concerns as roadblocks only lead to making environment regulation less democratic, without necessarily ensuring sound investments,” Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at Centre for Policy Research, said.

– “Finally, long gestation environmental clearances can allow project proponents to secure and fence off land in their possession for over a decade, without any assurance of the project being set up. This is neither economically rational nor socio-ecologically desirable,” she added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-looks-to-extend-validity-of-environmental-clearance-for-nuclear-hydro-projects-101649959890650.html  (15 April 2022)

Minutes of EAC on River Valley Projects held on March 14, 2022. Key Decisions:

1. Lower Orr Dam project under Ken-Betwa Link Project Ph II (90000 CCA) in 3007.2 ha at Village Didoni, Tehsil Chanderi, Dist Ashoknagar, Madhya Pradesh by National Water Development Agency: for EC: More Info Sought.

2. Phata byung HEP (76MW) in 22.72 ha at Village Byung, Tehsil & District Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand by Lanco Mandakini Hydro Energy Pvt Ltd – Extension of Validity of Environmental Clearance: Not accepted. PP may apply for fresh EC

3. Conventional barrage across the River Tapi in 36.03 ha. at Tehsil – Surat City, District – Surat, Gujarat by Surat Municipal Corp – Terms of Reference: Not under EIA notification.

4. Kurha Vadhoda Islampur Lift Irrigation Scheme UPSA Sinchan Yojna with CCA 32372 Ha at Village Rigaon, Tehsil-Muktainagar Dist. Jalgaon, Maharashtra by Tapi Irrigation Development Corp Jalgaon – Terms of Reference: Site visit by EAC sub com is required. http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/1204202289407967FinalMoM25thEACRVHEPheldon14-03-2022.pdf 

Energy Minister Nitin Raut on Apr 11 2022 said coal is in short supply and added that there is not much scope for generating hydropower due to less availability of water. He said no electricity is available in market too. So some load shedding is inevitable. https://theprint.in/india/load-shedding-inevitable-to-some-extent-in-maha-due-to-shortage-of-coal-water-energy-minister/912305/  (11 April 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir RHPCL, MEIL ink pact for execution of 850 MW Ratle hydel power project The contract agreement was signed regarding turnkey execution of the 850 MW Ratle HEP between Deepak Saigal, CEO, RHPCL, and Umamaheshwara Reddy of MEIL in presence of the governor Manoj Sinha on Apr 11 2022. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/rhpcl-meil-ink-pact-for-execution-of-850-mw-ratle-hydel-power-project/90791323  (12 April 2022)

Maharashtra 19 companies show interest in setting up solar and hydropower at Morbe dam on PPP  In Feb 2022, the civic body had floated a tender to appoint a contractor to set up a 100 MW solar and 1.5 MW hydropower project at the Morbe Dam on a public-private partnership. 19 companies have shown interest in setting up a solar power plant at the Morbe Dam of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corp.  https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/navi-mumbai-19-companies-show-interest-in-setting-up-solar-and-hydropower-at-morbe-dam-on-ppp  (16 April 2022)

DAMS

Centre HPERC chairman on dam safety committee Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (HPERC) chairman Devendra Kumar Sharma has been nominated as a specialist member of the National Committee on Dam Safety by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, for a period of three years. The National Committee on Dam Safety has been constituted as per provisions of the Dam Safety Act, 2021. Sharma, who joined as HPERC chairman on September 26, 2020, has more than 40 years of experience in energy and water resource sectors in India and abroad. He is also a member of the National Security Advisory Board in National Security Council, Government of India. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/hperc-chairman-on-dam-safety-committee-385615  (12 April 2022)

Mullaperiyar Dam How has the panel been empowered? Apart from vesting the supervisory committee with powers and functions of the NDSA, the court has empowered it to decide on all outstanding matters related to the safety of the dam and conduct a fresh review of its safety. For any act of failure, “appropriate action” will be taken against the persons concerned not only for having violated the directions of the court but also under the Act, which talks of one year imprisonment or fine or both for refusal to comply with directions of bodies formed under the law. As required by the Supreme Court in its latest order, the two States are expected to nominate, within two weeks, one representative each to the supervisory committee, in addition to one nominee each.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/explained-how-has-mullaperiyar-dam-panel-been-empowered/article65305805.ece  (10 April 2022)

Tamil Nadu 37 dams to be rejuvenated The State Water Resources Department (WRD) is planning to rejuvenate 37 dams across the State under the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement-2 (DRIP-2) project with funding from the World Bank. Of the 37 dams, work on the Sathanur dam commenced in January, and work on 4 more dams are scheduled to begin soon, according to sources.

Chief Engineer (CE) of WRD (Operation and Maintenance) P Rajendran told TNIE that rejuvenation work on the remaining 32 dams would begin after they are examined by the Central Water Resources Department (CWRD adding that they are hopeful of completing the rejuvenation of all the 37 dams by 2026. According to sources, a sum of Rs 267.37 crore has been sanctioned for rejuvenating five dams.

According to a WRD source, the department had decided to repair and reinforce 37 dams, including Mettur, Bhavanisagar, and Krishnagiri, under the Centre’s DRIP-2 project in 2020 at an estimated cost of Rs 610.26 crore. The project, however, faced delays owing to the pandemic and Assembly elections. Under the DRIP-1 project, which began in April 2012, works on 69 dams were taken up at a cost of Rs 803 crore. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/mar/24/37-dams-to-be-rejuvenated-across-tn-2433546.html  (24 March 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Notify Renuka dam oustees or face stir: Samiti Renuka Dam affected people of Himchal Pradesh have given an ultimatum to the authorities to notify the status of the people by May 10, if they are categorised as most affected less affected or least affected and their entitlements, or face stir. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/notify-dam-oustees-or-face-stir-samiti-385563  (12 April 2022)

Preserve, relocate Bathu ki Lari temples of Kangra, ASI urged INTACH, Himachal, has written to the ASI to preserve and relocate the ancient Bathu ki Lari temples of erstwhile Guler state of Kangra district Bathu ki Lari temples get submerged in the Pong Dam Lake during the monsoons when the water inflow in the Beas increases and the dam is filled. When the water flow in the dam recedes during the summer, the temples emerge from water. These days, the temples are visible out of the Pong Dam Lake. Surprisingly, the temples have been submerging in the lake for the past 50 years, but their structure is still intact and people throng them during the summer.

Raghav Guleria, who belongs to the family of former Guler rulers, says “The Hadoon valley was irrigated by the perennial Beas, Baner, Gaj and the Dehar rivers originating from the Dhauladhar mountain ranges. This prosperous civilisation needs only salt and kerosene from the outside world. The region is exceedingly vibrant and the farming community prays to God Badri Vishal for the safety of their crops and a better yield”. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/preserve-relocate-bathu-ki-lari-temples-of-kangra-asi-urged-386717  (16 April 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Recording of Wednesdays for Water session on Interlinking rivers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHob5tnkKH4&t=5s   (13 April 2022)

Bihar Who Really Benefits from the Kosi-Mechi Interlinking Project?  Avli Verma:- The Kosi-Mechi project is designed to divert part of the Kosi River surplus water through the existing Hanuman Nagar Barrage by way of a 117 km long link canal to the Mechi River in the Mahananda Basin. The diverted water would provide kharif crop irrigation during the monsoon season to the Araria, Purnia, Katihar, and Kishanganj districts in Bihar. The irrigation water, when needed during non-monsoon periods for rabi crops, is dependent on the construction of the Sapt Kosi High dam and is not part of the Kosi-Mechi project as of now.

-Mahendra Yadav, a member of the Kosi Nav Nirman Manch movement, says the Kosi-Mechi project is based on the kalpanik (imaginary) condition that the Sapt Kosi High dam will be built someday. According to Yadav, “Kosi and Mahananda, and even Mechi, which is the tributary of Mahananda, are situated in the same eco-zone. So, when it rains or floods in Kosi, the same monsoon or flood reaches Mechi or Mahananda in a day or two. Rainwater in the monsoon season is there in both the basins, so there is hardly any need for water during the monsoon. If the Kosi-Mechi Project were indeed an irrigation project, the state would look to provide solutions to the water deficit for rabi crops.”

-The Kosi-Mechi project’s public hearing document, the only documentation listing the concerns of the local population from beneficiary districts, also contains similar worries about the providing of water to areas that naturally receive water during monsoon seasons; many locals fear this could make their fields more prone to flooding and waterlogging and lead to the destruction of their land.

-The absurdity of the logic of this project is not the only issue. The project posits itself as having no adverse impacts on the environment and only positive impacts for the people of Bihar. However, there are major gaps in the EIA report.

-While the Kosi-Mechi project has been given the green light, important prior assessments related to land, water, sediments, and compensation remain. Discussing the reasons for such haste, Yadav laments the Eastern Kosi Canal’s existing problems and claims that its utilization potential was revised (decreased) to match its actual utilization. Speaking about the Kosi-Mechi project, he is equally pessimistic. “It is not an irrigation project, it is not a flood protection project, it is not even a river interlinking project,” he says. “The only beneficiaries of this project are the few people involved in the construction of the canal.” https://casi.sas.upenn.edu/iit/avliverma  (11 April 202022)

IRRIGATION

Odisha Water in reservoirs dry up, Rabi crops impacted Deficit rainfall from June 2021 to October 2021 has marred prospects of good yield in Rabi season in the Bhawanipatna district. The situation has also aggravated as irrigation sources other than the Indravati project are far below their target coverage areas.  

TNIE infograph.

According to an assessment of Agriculture department,  a target was fixed to cover 62321 ha in the current Rabi season from various sources like major, medium, minor and lift irrigation systems. Though the Indravati major project has been providing irrigation to over 18680 ha as per the Rabi program, the contribution from other sources has been far low. Hardly 60 to 65 percent of the target given to minor irrigation projects, check dams and lift irrigation projects has been achieved as water levels have depleted. “In view of this, the Rabi prospect this year does not seem bright except in Indravati project programmed areas,” said chief district agriculture officer Pradip Kumar Sahu.

The district has 135 minor irrigation projects of which 97 are reservoir type MIPs. 29 MIPs were programmed to provide irrigation for 1118 ha but only four are providing water to 305 ha.  The Behera MIP is covering only 257 ha against its target of 1214 ha, Pipal nullah three ha against 324 ha, Bagpur 20 ha against 24 ha and Karanjkot MIP achieving five hectares against 305 ha target.  MI division sources said since the reservoir of the MIPS are not filled up, it it difficult to manage water supply.

Similarly the 280 check dams aimed to provide Rabi irrigation to 1073 ha are going dry due to poor flow of water.  The condition of 935 Lift irrigation projects supposed to irrigate 13222 ha are in no way better. As per Odisha Lift Irrigation sources, only 10794 ha have been irrigated through 835 projects. To make matters worse,  flow of water in small rivers like Sandol, Utei has also substantially reduced due to poor monsoon rain affecting LI projects in the banks of these rivers in Narla and Karlamunda blocks.  The 136 Water Harvesting Structures (WHS) of soil conservation department aimed at providing water to 950 ha are mostly in semi dry condition now thus failing to provide water. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/apr/15/water-in-reservoirs-dry-up-rabi-crops-impacted-2442272.html  (15 April 2022)

Gujarat Farmers to get Narmada water for 10 days The SSNNL, in a press statement late on Thursday (April 14), said that CM Bhupendra Patel has instructed to provide 1,500 cusecs water for 10 days in North Gujarat from April 15. “Due to less inflow in Sardar Sarovar Yojana in the current year, there was no plan to provide water for irrigation to summer crops… Recently, farmers of North Gujarat had requested the CM to provide one spell of water from Narmada canals to give a lease of life to fodder sowing for cattle. And adopting a positive approach, the CM has instructed SSNNL to provide 1500 cusecs water for 10 days from April 15,” said the statement. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/gandhinagar/north-gujarat-farmers-narmada-water-for-10-days-7869948/  (15 April 2022)

Kerala ‘MLA using underhanded methods to evade demolition of check dams’ Environmentalists who have been fighting against the unauthorised construction of check dams at P.V.R. Naturo resort at Kakkadampoyil have alleged that MLA P.V. Anvar was using underhanded methods to evade demolition of the check dams as ordered by the Kozhikode District Collector.

State secretary of All Kerala River protection Committee T.V. Rajan, who had approached the Kerala High Court against the construction, alleged that the MLA had sold the property, including the resort, to evade the order. The person who bought the land approached the High Court claiming that he may lose the path to his property if the check dams are demolished and has obtained an interim injunction order against the demolition, he said. Mr. Rajan alleged that the MLA had used the same tactics to evade the demolition of a check dam at Cheenkannipala in Malappuram district.

Meanwhile, the other complainants in the case alleged that they were stopped from submitting documents to the Commission appointed by the High Court to check the veracity of the allegations against the construction. While Mr. Rajan was allowed to meet the Commission on Monday (April 11), other environmentalists such as K.V. Biju, Shabari Mundakkal and K.T. Veeraj were stopped at the gate of the resort where the hearing was being held, they alleged. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/mla-using-underhanded-methods-to-evade-demolition-of-check-dams-greens/article65318269.ece  (13 April 2022)

Tamil Nadu PWD officials wary about devotees climbing up Vaigai check-dams  Public Works Department officials are wary about people climbing on the two check-dams constructed in close proximity to the venue where Lord Kallazhagar would enter into the Vaigai river. Unaware of the high velocity of current downstream the shutters of the check-dams, the devotees might enter the water which could pull them down causing injuries. Besides, diving into the shallow water or an accidental fall on other side of the check-dam might turn dangerous. As a precautionary measure, the PWD has sought police protection to keep the devotees away from the check-dams. PWD would also deploy its workers to prevent the devotees from climbing up the wall of the check-dams. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/pwd-officials-wary-about-devotees-climbing-up-check-dams-across-vaigai-river/article65318608.ece  (13 April 2022)

Haryana Ex-sarpanch shot dead over canal water dispute A 50-year-old ex-sarpanch was allegedly shot dead and his son was brutally injured by their neighbour over canal water dispute at Hisar’s Sultanpur village.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/exsarpanch-shot-dead-son-injured-by-neighbour-over-canal-water-dispute-at-hisar-village-101649963618776.html  (15 April 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

Adyar; Chennai Govt to buy land to widen Adyar river In a first-of-its-kind move to prevent flooding during rain, the Water Resources Department (WRD) will acquire 20.5 acres of land between Thiruneermalai and Anagaputhur for widening the Adyar River in southern parts of the city. According to officials, this is the first time in the department’s history private land would be acquired to widen a river in the State. A senior official told TNIE that the State government has allocated Rs. 70.05 crore for the project. Of this, 50% will be spent on compensating land owners while the rest of the fund will be used for implementing the flood-mitigation project. Officials said, a Government Order (GO) would be issued within a few days and the WRD will start the tender process and other works as early as possible.

A file photo of Adyar river. TNIE

“According to government maps, the river should have a width of 60 feet to 200 feet. But between Thiruneermalai and Anagaputhur, the actual width is below 100 feet. Because of this, it becomes difficult to control flood when the river is in spate. People are affected during monsoons. Hence, we plan to buy land from private parties for widening the river” another official added. After acquiring the land, officials would strengthen the bunds and raise walls. Since there are seven high-tension towers in the area, it is necessary to put in place precautionary measures by constructing the wall, the official said. A total of 4,500 encroachments have been removed from the Adyar river so far and steps were being intensified to evict 5,000 encroachments. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/apr/15/in-a-1st-tn-to-buy-land-to-widen-adyar-2442152.html  (15 April 2022)

RIVERS

Plantation doesn’t address real issues behind degradation of rivers Sharachchandra Lele, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE, told Mongabay-India “The rivers are dead, dying, or degraded because they are being killed first by big dams and then many smaller dams that cut off environmental flows, industrial and domestic pollution, and climate change-led glacier meltdown and extreme weather events. Planting more trees is not going to help address these issues. We can’t just push plantations as a solution for anything and everything,” he said.

Manshi Asher, a researcher with the Himdhara, “Really rejuvenating rivers would require tackling industrial pollution, sand mining, stopping mindless dam construction, and protection of existing forest ecosystems in the catchments. In the case of Himachal and in the upper Sutlej basin we have found how afforestation done through CAMPA has failed and is, in fact, impacting the natural composition of landscapes.

Lele added, “The solutions lie elsewhere: in stopping dam building, regulating effluents, controlling groundwater depletion that immediately affects the base flows in rivers. We need to discuss how to balance human uses and their impacts on river flows, catchment areas and flood plains, all of which have expanded dramatically as our society grew and industrialised.” https://scroll.in/article/1021537/india-wants-to-spend-rs-19300-crore-on-rejuvenating-yamuna-and-12-other-rivers-through-plantations  (13 April 2022)

Experts said they are not convinced for two reasons. There’s no proof the NMCG-funded project succeeded, and the new promises could further deteriorate the rivers, they said.

“This is clear from so many perspectives, including the state of the Ganga’s tributaries, continued release of mostly untreated industrial and urban effluents, and so on,” Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of SANDRP, also said. “To use it as an example of a success story for other rivers is out of the question.” And even as the government talks of rejuvenating rivers on the one hand, Thakkar added, it continues to promote projects that destroy rivers on the other. The government is “working at complete cross purposes with what they are saying”.

The most recent example of such a contradiction could be the Ken-Betwa river-interlinking project. For the project, the Indian government is to fell 2.3 million trees and submerge around 9,000 hectares of land, including a part of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Thakkar said these forests together constitute an important “hydrological asset” because it is the catchment area of the Ken river. “The Ken is one of the most pristine tributaries in the Ganga-Yamuna basins,” Thakkar said. “In the context of the document they have come out with, where they talk of river rejuvenation through afforestation… why are [the Ken catchment] forests not seen as a hydrological asset in governance?” https://thewire.in/environment/river-rejuvenation-ganga-blueprint  (21 March 2022)

Kerala Munnar panchayat sets example in waste management Munnar is not throwing away the seven-tonne waste that it generates daily. Instead it is processing and recycling the huge amount of waste with community participation to achieve the mission of turning it into a zero-waste town. The panchayat has a processing plant in Kallar where waste will be processed scientifically by a private company. In  addition to this, the panchayat plans to set up septage and waste water treatment plants so that rivers flowing through the heart of the town are not polluted. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2022/apr/12/munnar-panchayat-sets-example-in-waste-management-2440869.html  (12 April 2022)

Odisha CMC passes buck to Railways The Orissa High Court on Monday (April 04) issued notice to the East Coast Railways (ECoR), Khurda, on the issue of construction of main drain crossing under the railway track at Matrubhaban for flow of sewage from the city to Matagajapur where a STP is located. The court was hearing a PIL on discharge of untreated sewage into Kathajodi river at Khan Nagar filed by general secretary of Khan Nagar Khapuria Silpanchala Puja Committee Prafulla Kumar Sahoo in 2016.

Kathajodi river. TNIE

The CMC counsel Debashis Nayak claimed before the court that the work on main drain-1 crossing under the railway track at Matrubhaban was entrusted to ECoR on deposit work basis since 2014. For it, the Odisha Water Supply and Sewerage Board (OWSSB) had made a payment of `14.85 crore to ECoR. But it has not completed the work till date, Nayak told the court. Taking note of it, the division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik posted the matter to Friday (April 8) and sought ECOR’s reply to the CMC claim by then. Accordingly, the bench issued notice to ECoR, Khurda through Assistant Solicitor General of India Prasanna Parhi. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/apr/05/water-pollution-cmc-passes-the-buck-to-railways-orissa-hc-issues-notice-2438146.html  (05 April 2022)

Maharashtra Mula and Mutha rivers are part of 5 rivers (Krishna, Panchganga, Godavari, Tapi) covered under pollution abatement scheme of Jalshakti Mantralaya in the last 5 years. Funds released under the central scheme is Rs 1,183 crore. Union minister of state for Jal Shakti department Bishweswar Tudu on Monday (March 28) said, “Maharashtra govt has taken up projects for setting up 76 STPs of total capacity 1279.70 MLD.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/jalshakti-dept-s-river-pollution-abatement-scheme-covers-mula-mutha-101648490666259.html  (28 March 2022)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh Sand Dunes in the Middle of Ganga in Varanasi Chairman of BHU Mahamana Malviya Ganga Research Center and Ganga Scientist Prof. BD Tripathi says that the flow of water in the Ganges is continuously decreasing.  When there is less flow of water in the Ganges, the siltation rate increases. Because of which sand dunes were visible.. These dunes, which were earlier visible in May-June, started appearing again in April-May, but this year, sand dunes have started appearing in March itself. This is happening because of low flow. https://www.india.com/uttar-pradesh/scorching-heat-forms-sand-dunes-in-the-middle-of-ganga-in-varanasi-raises-concern-for-scientists-5312365/  (31 March 2022)

Kanpur admin prepares plan to revive tributaries In a meeting of the District Ganga Samiti held on Wednesday (April 13), DM Neha Sharma directed the officials concerned of all the departments under the District Ganga Conservation committee to prepare a plan for cleaning Ganga and keeping its flow uninterrupted and also to clean river bed under public awareness programme. The tributaries of Ganga in Kanpur are Pandu, Rind and Noon rivers. Sharma asked the officials to develop a green belt on the banks and to ensure that the plantation is according to the river nature. The DM also presented a proposal to raise a pathway from Atal Ghat to Jajmau on the lines of Boat Club. Teams of irrigation and Kanpur Municipal Corporation will conduct a joint survey and it would also assess the cost of pathway and prepare an estimate so that it could be sent to NMCG along with the proposal. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/admin-prepares-plan-to-revive-ganga-tributaries/articleshow/90855190.cms  (15 April 2022)

10K fish fingerlings releasedin Ganga under ranching plan Over 10,000 fish fingerlings of Indian major carps — catla, rohu and mrigal — were released in the Ganga at Sangam nose under the ranching programme organised by ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), Prayagraj, on Monday (March 28). The ranching programme is part of the NMCG project. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/10k-fish-fingerlings-releasedin-ganga-under-ranching-plan/articleshow/90505813.cms  (29 March 2022)

Bihar Ganga Pathway design changed again, cost swells The ambitious Loknayak Ganga Pathway, an elevated bypass to the city through the southern bank of the river Ganga, will undergo another design modification in the wake of changing course of the river near Patna City. Now, another 2.90km stretch from Dharmshala to Deedarganj of the 20.5km long four-lane expressway, connecting Digha in the west to NH 31 in Patna City in east, will be built on an elevated structure, said an officer of Bihar State Road Development Corporation (BSRDC). After the revision in design, the Ganga Path will run through 14.40 km elevated driveway and 6.10 km at grade build up.

After the revision in design, the Ganga path (in pic) will run through 14.40km elevated driveway and 6.10km at grade build up. As a result, the cost of the project would escalate to ₹3,831 crore, ₹441 crore more than the previous estimate. (Santosh Kumar /HT Photo)

As a result, the cost of the project would escalate to ₹3,831 crore, ₹441 crore more than the previous estimate. “The BSRCD is now scrutinising the bid documents to offer work order to a qualified construction firm, as the existing contractor, Navayuga Engineering Company Limited (NECL), refused to carry on with the work as per the previous estimate after a change in the design,” said the officer.

Officials said that the project, the work on which was launched in 2013 at an initial estimate of ₹2,234.46 crore, might jump the deferred deadline once again. At the initial stage of design, the driveway project was to be constructed at grade level, while the rest 11.50km was supposed to be built in elevated mode. Originally conceived in 2007 to reduce the traffic load on the already congested Ashok Rajpath, the project had to be shelved for some time owing to the construction firms’ reluctance to the stipulated terms and conditions. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/ganga-pathway-undergoes-design-change-yet-again-project-cost-swells-101645978952380.html  (27 Feb. 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

CAUVERY Karnataka Microplastics in affecting fish: IISc study A recent study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) found the presence of microplastics in the Cauvery river which may have been contributing to growth defects in fish. Research believe that microplastics in the river might lead to a negative impact on humans in the long-term.

After noticing deformities in fried fish sold on the river’s bank, Nongthomba set out to find the cause. The study found that the water in the KRS Cauvery river was hypoxic or oxygen-deficient. They had also found the presence of microplastics that are at least 5mm small.  Following experiments done on zebrafish embryos with water collected from the river, the researchers found that the fish had suffered early cell death, heart damage, skeletal deformities, an increased mortality rate and DNA damage.

Some studies have shown that microplastics also lead to a decrease in oxygen levels in water, which causes the presence of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), unstable oxygen-based chemicals. ROS were also found in the zebrafish following experiments, with a build-up of the chemicals proven to damage DNA and have similar effects that were found in the fish. However, Nongthomba believes that the level of microplastics in the water is not at a dangerous level. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2022/apr/12/microplastics-in-cauvery-affecting-fish-iisc-study-2440932.html  (12 April 2022)

Though microplastic has emerged as one of the most significant pollutants in the aquatic environments, there has been no study on such contaminants in Cauvery waters. Nongthomba, a regular visitor to the KRS sites, noticed deformities in Rohu, Tilapia and snakehead fish and decided to check if such deformities are caused by any pollutant. “Over the years, I have cherished going to the backwaters of the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam and having fried fish on the Cauvery river bank. But in recent times, I noticed physical deformities in some of them,” he said.

His team collected samples from three KRS stations where Cauvery water is flowing fast, at a moderately slow speed and remains stagnant. The samples were collected between 1991 and 2021 before the monsoon to avoid any surge in the contamination level due to monsoon discharge. All but one of the parameters were within the prescribed limits. The exception was dissolved oxygen, whose levels were much lower in samples collected from slow-flowing and stagnant sites.

Oxygen deficient water along with microplastic and other chemical contaminants might be the reason behind the skeletal deformities and heart damage in fishes, the researchers said, noting further research would be needed to understand how microplastics were absorbed from the gut and which organs would be the most susceptible. “Over the last 20 years, there has been a drastic decline in the number of fish species in Cauvery river and the quantity of the fish captured. Microplastic could be a plausible reason because the embryos are more susceptible. But we need more research,” he said.

 https://www.deccanherald.com/national/microplastic-pollution-in-cauvery-river-may-pose-threat-to-fish-says-iisc-study-1099861.html  (11 April 2022)

Maharashtra Water plugged by crabs brings Mutha to life before monsoon FASCINATING: This is of Sept 2016, but interesting, hence sharing here. Amateur botanist Shrikant Ingalhalikar recently unravelled the mystery behind the water oozing out of the source of Mutha river two days before the arrival of monsoon every year. Ingalhalikar has been studying the sources of Mose, Mula and Mutha rivers for the past one year as he started exploring and studying the tributaries forming Mula-Mutha rivers. “The residents of Mandavgad village located near the source of Mutha river told me that water oozes out of the source two days prior to the arrival of rains in June each year. I saw this actually happen by being present at the site in late June this year,” Ingalhalikar said.

– It was during his study of the life cycle of fresh water crabs found around the source spots that finally unravelled the mystery of the water flowing out from the source spots before the rains. “Large crab species found at 1,000m elevation are locally called as Muthya because they are the size of a fist (muth in Marathi). They belong to the Barytelphusa genus of crabs. These crabs are active on land as long as there is water. As water is about to dry, they enter the source spots from where water is still flowing out. At a specific water flow they dig into holes that let out water and plug them with mud. Here the crabs go into aestivation or summer sleep. The residual water trapped in the aquifer provides moisture to them through the dry months of aestivation,” Ingalhalikar explained.

– As the monsoon rain arrives, the crabs sense increased humidity in air and come out of their summer sleep by breaking the mud shells around them. “This releases the residual water plugged by the aestivating crabs. And this is how the river rejuvenates even before the rains pour water on the hilltops,” he added. Ingalhalikar said when he was tracing the origin of Mutha in January this year and had done some excavation at the source spots he had noticed these crabs and the way they had ensured accumulation of water for survival. Ingalhalikar feels that the river may have been named Mutha after these Muthya crabs. “I have also observed the same phenomenon at the origin of Mose river in Mose village that fills the Varasgaon dam, the origin of Mula river near the Tamhini ghat, and recently at the source of Mutha,” he said, adding that he plans to check if it was true at other rivers and if frogs too behaved in similar fashion. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/water-plugged-by-crabs-brings-mutha-to-life-before-monsoon/articleshow/54159996.cms  (08 Sept. 2016)

Western Ghat Citizen scientists ‘rediscover’ Malabar Tree Toad Malabar Tree Toad is the only toad that dwells on the high canopies of the western Ghats. Scientists do not know why it lives on trees when most toads live on ground near water. Toads are among the first indicators of change in ecology. It was considered extinct in India till 1980 after first discovery in 1876. But since 2014, over 100 citizen scientists have recorded 201 observations, 117 of them in Karnataka. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/citizen-scientists-rediscover-malabar-tree-toad-1101140.html  (15 April 2022)

‘The purple frog’s lineage is 120 million years old. It has seen Earth itself evolve’  The family of this frog, called Nasikabatrachidae, has an evolutionary history which goes back 120 million years — this is one of the oldest lineages among all living frogs on Earth. Human evolution has taken place over 6 million years, so consider what a major chunk of Earth’s history the purple frog’s 120 million years covers. The Indian purple frog, called Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, is closest to the Sooglossidae frog, found in the Seychelles. These two groups split 100 million years ago and since then, the purple frog evolved here without much diversification. It lives underground most of the year, emerges in the Ghats once a year during pre monsoon showers for breeding.

– This ancient species is endangered now — the greatest threat to it is habitat destruction from human activities including agricultural expansion, construction and road building, with dam reservoirs also causing the submergence of its habitat. While we need long-term data for establishing climate change impacts, the purple frog faces a challenge from erratic rain patterns. Over the last ten years, the monsoon has either been delayed or pre-monsoon showers haven’t occurred at all — we’ve seen purple frogs then either not finding suitable mates or their eggs unable to hatch lacking adequate water.

– But every bit of the effort is worthwhile, both in terms of the scientific knowledge we can contribute as well as the conservation efforts we can help. Working with local citizens’ groups, the forest department and tribal communities in these locations, we’ve tried to increase the awareness of the importance of the purple frog. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/the-purple-frogs-lineage-is-120-million-years-old-it-has-seen-earth-itself-evolve/articleshow/90867834.cms  (16 April 2022)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Karnataka River fishermen urge govt to ban illegal fishing The Traditional River Fisheries Association, Dakshina Kannada (DK), urged the government to initiate legal measures against those who carry out illegal fishing in rivers across the district. Association president Harish Putran told reporters at Patrika Bhavan on Tuesday (April 12) that the fishermen from outside the district had been fishing in rivers instead of fishing in lakes. In Phalguni and Nethravathi rivers, the inland fishermen have been using chemicals to catch fish, he charged.

– He also stressed the need to identify sand blocks in places where fishing is not being carried out. After the sand mining was stopped in the CRZ areas, there are algae that serve as food for fish. The fingerlings and clams are also developing. But, if the permission is given for sand mining again, the fish and clam will be lost, he said. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/mangaluru/river-fishermen-urge-govt-to-ban-illegal-fishing-1100238.html  (12 April 2022)

SAND MINING

Tamil Nadu Form permanent panel to check illegal mining: NGT The Southern Bench of the NGT has directed the Chief Secretary to form a permanent committee of senior officials to monitor sensitive areas in Chennai where illegal sand mining is happening and act against such violators. The direction came in a case related to allegations of illegal beach sand mining at the mouth of the Cooum near the Napier Bridge and in the coastal eco-sensitive zones CRZ-1 A and 1 B, where sand mining is prohibited under the CRZ Notifications, 2011 and 2019.

The Bench found from the reports submitted by the authorities that no permission was granted for mining in that area and the Water Resources Department was taking steps to channelise the mouth of the Coocum river that joins the Bay of Bengal to avoid flooding. On the other hand, the joint committee formed by the NGT submitted that even for dredging in CRZ-1 A and 1 B areas, clearance had to be obtained from the Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA). Further, the Additional Chief Secretary for Environment, Forest and Climate Change has been directed to issue instructions on the requirement of clearance for dredging in the eco-sensitive zones of CRZ-1 A and 1 B from the CZMA.

The NGT also directed the police to undertake regular patrolling in such areas; if any heavy vehicles were brought to the eco-sensitive zones, they should take action for carrying out illegal activities and confiscate the vehicles. The Chennai Collector, in consultation with the police, was directed to install CCTVs in such hotspots, monitor them and take action against violators. “It is very difficult for the Tribunal also to monitor each and every allegation of illegal sand mining in the areas where such activities are reported to be taking place. It is for the regulators to take appropriate measures to check such activities and bring those who are committing such illegal activities before law. There must be a regular mechanism and regular committee to be appointed for this purpose,” the Bench said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/form-permanent-panel-to-check-illegal-sand-mining-says-ngt/article65309096.ece  (11 April 2022)

Better to leave Earth in good condition: Madras HC While disposing of a batch of petitions challenging the lower court’s decision not to release lorries seized over alleged illegal sand mining, the Madras High Court observed that it is better to ensure that Earth is in a good condition rather than exploring ways to start afresh in an alien planet. The petitioners contended that if their seized vehicles were left without use for a long time, their value would depreciate and sought to release the vehicles. Replying to this, State Public Prosecutor Hasan Mohammed Jinnah submitted that confiscation proceedings of the vehicles are underway. If the vehicles are released, the petitioners would indulge in the same illegal activities, he added. Stating that data produced by the government showed that in all cases, confiscation proceedings had already been initiated, the judges said, “Therefore, this court is of the view that in the interest of justice, it would suffice if a direction is given for conclusion of the confiscation proceedings within a time frame,” and ordered the authority concerned to complete it within six months. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/mar/25/better-to-leave-earth-in-good-condition-than-explore-new-planet-madras-hc-on-illegal-sand-mining-2433985.html  (25 March 2022)

Madhya Pradesh- Rajasthan An ecocide under the noses of police & forest authorities in Chambal Sahil Zutsi Long believed to be cursed and born from the blood of a thousand animals according to mythological retellings, Chambal, once the haven of fearsome dacoits, is today a meek witness to the massive ecocide happening right under the noses of the police and forest authorities. All this despite the presence of forest department personnel of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh at Chambal Bridge, and police checkpoints on both sides of the State border.

Heedless: Illegal sand mining at Chambal Bridge, Dholpur | Photo Credit: Sahil Zutshi/ The Hindu

Due to the lack of effective monitoring, either owing to resource constraints or safety concerns of investigators, the true scale of illegal sand mining remains unknown. However, satellite imagery clearly shows the gradual disappearance of depositional features that form over long time periods. Conservative estimates from an on-ground investigation in January 2022 suggested that some 40,000 cubic feet of river sand was being extracted from the Chambal Bridge site alone on a typical morning. If unlawful mining is brazenly progressing here, less accessible sites in the interior, away from the public gaze, are likely to be witnessing more devastation.

Conservation biologist Tarun Nair, who has reported on the ecological damage in the region, believes that ending illegal mining is a matter of administrative will. “We have repeatedly seen, most recently during COVID-19 lockdowns, that the government machinery is capable of enforcing restrictions. The reasons for not doing so here lie in the criminal-political economies of the sand mafia. That said, the ‘mafia’ is not an external evil but a home-grown, local menace,” he says.

Attempts to eliminate illegal sand mining continue to prove futile while it has often been suggested that operations are organised by politically well-connected individuals. Widespread local support and participation in illegal mining ensure that activists face an uphill task and considerable personal risk. “This is also why there is little political will to stop illegal mining or why it is seldom part of the ‘promise package’ to legalise sand mining and de-notify protected areas during election campaigns,” says Nair. “In this case, the ‘innocent local vs. evil outsider’ dichotomy is false and does not reflect ground realities.”

The Rajasthan government’s recent decision to lease 60 sites across the State for ‘legalised’ sand mining is expected to come as some relief to protected areas. However, there is an information blackhole on details of these sites, which includes a lack of transparency on ecological assessments undertaken and made available in the public domain. Such blanket clearances for projects set dangerous precedents, making statutory requirements mere formalities. https://www.thehindu.com/society/an-ecocide-is-happening-under-the-noses-of-police-and-forest-authorities-in-chambal/article65245904.ece  (25 March 2022)

Madhya Pradesh 4 booked after labourer dies in illegal mine collapse in Khargone A 35-year-old labourer was killed when an illegal mine collapsed in Kahrgone district. Kasrawad police have registered a case against four persons for illegal mining and also seized dumpers, JCB machines and tractors. The incident happened in Lepa village, 40 km away from the district headquarters, under Kasarwad police station limits. The deceased has been identified as Sukh Lal (35), who died on the spot. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/four-booked-after-labourer-dies-in-illegal-mine-collapse-in-mps-khargone-1916404-2022-02-22  (22 Feb. 2022)

West Bengal CBI Probing Rivalry Over Illegal Sand Mining Angle Behind Bogtui Massacre The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing the angle of rivalry over illegal sand mining rampant in Birbhum district as one of the prime reasons behind the Bogtui carnage. A total of nine persons, including the TMC deputy chief of Boroshal village, Vadu Sheikh, were killed in Bogtui village at Rampurhat in Birbhum district on March 21. Following an order of the Calcutta High Court, the CBI is conducting a parallel probe into Vadu Sheikh’s killing as well as the Bogtui massacre, since both the cases were reportedly interlinked.

CBI sources told IANS that during preliminary investigation, it has come to the fore that tension was going on between Vadu Sheikh and the accused persons over the rivalry in the share of illegal sand mining. CBI sleuths said that they are probing that whether that tension had reached to an extreme level leading to the gruesome incident. In January last year, Vadu Sheikh’s elder, Babar Sheikh was also murdered. Although the case is to be solved, Vadu Sheikh conceived that his rivals like Palash Sheikh and Sona Sheikh had some hands behind the killings. https://ommcomnews.com/india-news/cbi-probing-rivalry-over-illegal-sand-mining-angle-behind-bogtui-massacre  (09 April 2022)

Bihar किऊल नदी में बालक की मौत मामले में विधायक पुत्र ठेकेदार पर केस दर्ज 12 अप्रैल को किऊल नदी में सात वर्षीय बालक की मौत मामले में प्राथमिकी दर्ज की गई है। चानन थाना के अपर थानाध्यक्ष सह एसआई राजकुमार राम ने ठेकेदार त्रिदेव इंजिकॉम प्रा. लि. कलस्टर रामपुर बालू घाट के मालिक अजीत सिंह के अलावा सूर्यगढ़ा के राजद विधायक प्रह्लाद यादव के पुत्र विनय यादव एवं भांजा सुनील कुमार सहित छह नामजद एवं 6-7 अज्ञात पर गैर इरादतन हत्या का केस दर्ज कराया। थानाध्यक्ष राजकुमार राम ने कहा कि 12 अप्रैल 2022 की शाम सात बजे सूचना मिली की रामपुर बालू घाट पर एक बालक की डूबने से मौत हो गई। साढ़े सात बजे रामपुर बालू घाट पर पहुंचा तो देखा कि नदी में जेसीबी मशीन से हुए बालू उत्खनन के गड्‌ढे में एक लड़के का शव है और स्थानीय लोग निकाल रहे थे। उक्त बच्चे की मौत हो चुकी थी। मृतक की पहचान नोनगढ़ निवासी मुरारी रजक के सात वर्षीय पुत्र नंदन कुमार के रूप में किया गया। बालू घाट के ठेकेदार द्वारा जेसीबी मशीन से खनन जरूरत से अधिक करने के कारण जानमाल का खतरा है। इसमें ठेकेदार और बालू खनन करने वाले अन्य सहयोगी के द्वारा अपने मनमानी और लापरवाही के कारण नदी में कई स्थानों पर गड्‌ढ़ा में जमा गहरे पानी पार करने के क्रम में डूबने से मौत हुई। घाट पर बालू खनन में जरूरत से ज्यादा गड्‌ढ़ा खोदने के कारण घटना हुई है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/bihar/bhagalpur/lakhisarai/news/case-registered-against-mla-son-and-contractor-in-the-death-of-child-in-kiul-river-129672156.html  (17 April 2022)

मृतक की चाची प्रतिमा देवी ने बताया कि कबैया थाना अध्यक्ष के मिलीभगत से रात्रि में कवैया के जयनगर से बालू उठाव होता है, जो कि गलत है. बड़ा बाबू और छोटा बाबू की मिलीभगत से रात्रि को कई वाहन बालू उठाव करता है. इसी बीच उठाव को लेकर राहुल को बुलाकर जय नगर निवासी लल्लन यादव के पुत्र हिमांशु और देवांशु कुमार ले गये थे और घटना को अंजाम दिया है.

जब-जब बिहार सरकार बालू उठाव को लेकर नीलामी की प्रक्रिया जारी की है, तब-तब कोई न कोई हादसा हुआ है. इसके पहले भी कई लोगों की हत्या हई है. साथ ही बालू उठाव के बाद बालू लदे अपने वाहनों को छुपाकर ले जाने के क्रम में भी कुछ न कुछ हुआ है. इससे जुड़े दर्जनों मामले थानों में लंबित है. जानकारी के अनुसार राहुल के शरीर पर भी मारपीट के कई निशान देखे गए हैं. यही नहीं इसके बाएं पैर को भी तोड़ दिया गया है. पोस्टमार्टम रिपोर्ट आने के बाद मामले का खुलासा हो पाएगा. https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/bihar/state/lakhisarai/youth-dead-body-recovered-from-kiul-river-in-lakhisarai/bh20220406132850199  (06 April 2022) 

जमुई और लखीसराय में बालू अवैध खनन बदस्तूर जारी है। बंदोबस्ती के बाद जमुई में 27 तो लखीसराय में दो घाटों से खनन की मंजूरी मिली है। लेकिन इन 27 वैध बालू घाटों के अलावा दोनों जिलों में करीब तीन दर्जन अवैध बालू घाटों से खनन हो रहा है। वैध-अवैध मिलाकर दोनों जिलों में 65 घाटों से खनन हो रहा है। जिससे दोनों जिलों की लाइफलाइन कही जाने वाली किऊल नदी के अस्तित्व पर खतरा मंडरा रहा है। भास्कर टीम ने दोनों जिलों में खनन की पड़ताल की, जिसमें पाया कि जमुई में अवैध घाटों की संख्या 25 के करीब है। एनजीटी से इन घाटों से उठाव की मंजूरी नहीं मिली है। लेकिन इसके बाद भी यहां से बालू का उठाव हो रहा है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/bihar/bhagalpur/jamui/news/the-lifting-is-happening-from-65-the-police-station-is-half-a-kilometer-away-still-no-action-129570465.html  (28 March 2022)

जमुई में बच्चे की मौत के बाद लोगों ने जमकर बवाल काटा। शव को सड़क पर रखकर जमकर हंगामा किया। साथ ही बालू ठेकेदार के कार्यालय में भी आग लगा दिया। पुलिस जब समझाने पहुंची तो गुस्साए लोगों ने उनकी गाड़ी पर पथराव कर दिया। गुस्साए लोग मुआवजे और अवैध बालू खनन पर कार्रवाई की मांग कर रहे थे। उनका कहना है कि प्रशासन जब तक मुआवजा नहीं देती तब तक वे यहीं डटे रहेंगे। घटना खैरा प्रखंड अंतर्गत कोल्हुआ गांव में की है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/bihar/bhagalpur/jamui/news/bihar-news-fierce-uproar-over-childs-death-in-jamui-129505556.html  (March 2022)

सोन नदी के किनारे अवैध बालू खनन में लगे करीब 5000 से ज्यादा ट्रैक्टर और ट्रक से 350 करोड़ की तस्करी हो रही है। सरकारी चालान के अनुसार, 100 CFT बालू की कीमत ढाई हजार रुपए है। एक ट्रैक्टर में लगभग एक फीट बालू यानी 100 CFT और एक ट्रक में 300 CFT बालू लोड होती है। बालू माफिया रोजाना 8-10 करोड़ बिहार सरकार के राजस्व का चूना लगा रहे हैं। सरकार के निर्देश का उल्लंघन करते हुए सरकारी चालान लेने के बाद भी क्षमता से डेढ़ गुना ज्यादा बालू लोड कर बेचा जा रहा है। इस खेल में भोजपुर, पटना, वैशाली, सारण, बलिया (UP), बक्सर समेत कई जिलों के माफिया शामिल हैं।

• 7 फरवरी 2021 को बड़हरा के मखदुमपुर गांव निवासी रंजीत सिंह दवा लेकर लौट रहे थे। तभी हथियारबंद बदमाशों ने फायरिंग कर दी। प्राथमिकी में खेत से अवैध रूप से बालू की कटाई को ही जिम्मेदार बताया गया था।

• 10 मार्च 2021 को कोईलवर थाना क्षेत्र के कमालुचक सोन दियारे में 3 बाप-बेटे को गोली मार दी थी। इसमें बड़हरा थाना क्षेत्र के फुहां गांव निवासी 60 वर्षीय दीनबंधु बिंद उसके दो बेटे 35 वर्षीय विष्णु बिंद और 28 वर्षीय भगवान बिंद को गोली लगी थी। पटना में इलाज के दौरान दीनबंधु की मौत हो गई थी। खेत से बालू ले जाने के शक पर गोली मारी गई थी।

• जून 2021 को कोईलवर थाना क्षेत्र के सेमरिया बालू घाट पर गोलीबारी हुई थी। इसमें विजेंद्र राय की गोली लगने से मौत हो गई थी। प्राथमिकी में कहा गया था कि उनकी खेत से जबरन बालू काटी जा रही थी। इसका विरोध करने पर घटना को अंजाम दिया गया था।

• 12 अगस्त 2021 को कोईलवर थाना के दियारा इलाके में खेत से बालू काटने का विरोध करने पर माफिया ने एक युवक को गोली मार दी थी। जख्मी महादेवचक सेमरिया गांव निवासी 38 वर्षीय महावीर राम को गोली लगी थी। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/bihar/patna/bhojpur/news/watch-how-sand-mafia-is-looting-sand-on-drone-camera-129379244.html  (March 2022)

सरकार की ओर से गंगा किनारे खनन को लेकर बढ़ाई गई सख्ती बाद अब दबंगों की नजर कोसी-काली कोसी और बागमती की उजली रेत पर पड़ गई है। प्रतिदिन बड़ी संख्या में जेसीबी से अवैध खनन कर ट्रैक्टर से रेत ढोई जा रही है। मुख्य बात यह है कि अवैध खनन से जहां सरकार को राजस्व का नुकसान हो रहा है, वहीं कोसी-काली कोसी और बागमती नदी की धारा मुड़ने की आशंका प्रबल हो उठी है। पनसलवा से चोढ़ली जमींदारी बांध की दूरी आधा किलोमीटर के आसपास है। आनंदी सिंह बासा से तेलिहार जमींदारी बांध पांच सौ फीट पर है। ऐसे में दोनों जगहों पर बांध के ऊपर खतरे के बादल मंडरा सकते हैं। https://www.jagran.com/bihar/khagaria-khagria-news-22500998.html  (26 Feb. 2022)

लखीसराय-जमुई जिले में बहने वाली किऊल नदी लाल बालू के लिए बिहार में प्रसिद्ध है। पानी से अधिक बालू को लेकर इसकी महत्ता है। लेकिन नदी में पहाड़ी पानी नहीं आने से बालू से अधिक मिट्टी और जंगली घास का कब्जा हो गया है। पर्याप्त बारिश के अभाव में किऊल नदी अपना अस्तित्व खोती जा रही है। एक तरह से यह नदी संरक्षण के अभाव में दम तोड़ रही है। https://www.jagran.com/bihar/lakhisarai-lakhisarainews-20354919.html  (05 June 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Andhra Pradesh NGT directs govt to cancel NCCL project in Sompeta wetland The Chennai bench of the NGT has directed the Andhra government to cancel or revoke the permission granted to Nagarjuna Construction Company Ltd (NCCL) to take up activities related to a proposed industrial zone on the wetlands of Sompeta in Srikakulam till further orders. Justice K Ramakrishnana has said Sompeta wetland is declared as wetland under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. Even if any portion of the wetland was not included as wetlands, it should be treated as a water body, the NGT said and restrained NCCL from doing any work in the area. The judgement came in the petition filed by Paryavarana Parirakshana Sangham and former Union Energy Secretary EAS Sarma.

The Special Chief Secretary to Government (Environment, Forests, and Climate Change) has been asked to submit a periodical report regarding the progress of the exercise done by them in this regard, once in three months, till it is completed. The Special Chief Secretary to the State government  (Revenue Department) was directed to submit a report regarding the action taken to revoke permission granted to NCCL and others within three months. The NGT also directed the department concerned to identify and prepare a brief document regarding the other wetlands in Srikakulam district and other parts of the State, which were mapped in the National Wetland Atlas prepared by the MoEF&CC. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/apr/16/ngt-directs-ap-government-to-cancel-nccl-project-in-sompeta-wetland-2442634.html  (16 April 2022)

Uttar Pradesh NGT asks Noida authorities to report on wetlands encroachment The NGT on Friday (April 15) formed a joint committee comprising officials from the CPCB, UPPCB, the State Wetlands Authority and the district magistrate and asked them to file a report within two months on the encroachment of 117 water bodies and wetlands in Noida. The green court also asked the committee to explain what is being done to conserve the water bodies in Noida.

“We have got to know that about 1,000 ponds with an area of 4.5sqkm (448,418 hectares) are being profiled by the district administration. However, the worst part is that the protectors of these natural resources are themselves encroaching upon the water bodies. A 1,140sqm pond in Dadri was used to build the municipality office, as mentioned in the revenue records. Similarly, there is no care for any water body in Noida. If preserved, these can be natural aquifers to recharge groundwater across Noida,” said Abhisht Gupta, the appellant. According to records, Gautam Budh Nagar is among 255 water-stressed districts in India. According to the case details, of the 1,000 ponds being profiled in Gautam Budh Nagar, 474 ponds are in Dadri, 281 in Jewar, and 245 in Sadar (which covers part of Greater Noida, Noida, Dankaur and Bisrakh). https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/ngt-asks-noida-authorities-to-report-on-encroachment-of-wetlands-101649446925333.html  (09 April 2022)

Haryana Sukhna WS: Govt cancels its EC for 10-km radius The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Haryana, has cancelled the environment clearance within 10-km radius of the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary. The decision is likely to affect the construction activity in the newly developed Sectors 27, 28, 30, DLF of Mansa Devi Complex, Pinjore, Amravati Enclave, many societies of Sector 20 of Panchkula and Peer Muchalla.

Now, a committee has been constituted by the SEIAA to identify the eco-sensitive zone. The committee would inspect the area around the sanctuary and identify the zone, after which further action will be taken. After the committee presents its report, the matter will go to the NGT. It is pertinent to mention here that in 2017, a proposal was also sent to the Central Government to notify one-and-a-half-km area around the sanctuary as eco-sensitive zone, on which Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana had agreed. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/sukhna-wildlife-sanctuary-haryana-cancels-its-environment-clearance-for-10-km-radius-385895  (13 April 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Haryana Treated water from new Karnal STP to irrigate over 6,300 acres With the new 50 MLD STP in Sector 37 in Karnal becoming functional, the work to lay pipeline has been initiated to use treated water for irrigating fields.

Irrigation Department workers lay the pipeline in Karnal. Photo: Sayeed Ahmed/The Tribune

The work to lay around 250-km-long pipeline from the STP has been started and the treated water will be used to irrigate around 6,384 acres of agricultural land in 11 villages. This plant was constructed under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) programme, said Satish Sharma, XEN Karnal Municipal Corporation. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/treated-water-from-new-karnal-stp-to-irrigate-over-6-300-acres-385849  (13 April 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Uttar Pradesh Villagers Living in Fear of Contaminated Groundwater Sonbhadra residents have left their homes due to an increase in the number of deaths due to diseases.

The energy capital of India is dotted with power plants across the district and the toxic fly ash disposed of has been the primary reason for the exodus for many years now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwqCCpAqSAY  (14 April 2022)

URBAN WATER

Nagpur 11% rise in water arrears in a year One of the reasons for Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) precarious finances is the mounting water dues. The dues have risen 11% in one year – from Rs182.7 crore on April 1, 2021 to Rs204.37 crore till March 31, 2022. NMC’s water works department data reveals that bulk consumers – including sprawling housing apartments, Indian Railways, and big commercial establishments – top the list of defaulters. Sources attribute this poor state to NMC’s reluctance to act strictly against bulk consumers and instead act against petty defaulters.

The opening balance of arrears as on April 1, 2021 was Rs187.7 crore – with bulk consumers accounting for the biggest share. Later, NMC generated new bills of Rs170.83 crore and the total demand from water bills was calculated at Rs372.65 crore. But NMC could recover less than half the amount at Rs177.78 crore. Of the Rs177.78 crore revenue, NMC deposited Rs168.28 crore in OCW’s escrow account. TOI recently published that NMC has no record of 267.14 MLD of 658.9 MLD treated water it supplies to the city daily. The recent water audit carried out by OCW reveals that NMC is billing only for 391.76 MLD treated water. So, despite privatisation, 40.54% of treated water remains unbilled, while a large section of people are stlll deprived of the precious commodity, defeating the very purpose of trying to ensure tap water in every household. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/11-rise-in-water-arrears-in-a-year-bulk-defaulters-still-go-unpunished/articleshow/90868788.cms  (16 April 2022)

Pune Crores paid in water taxes, but tanker demand goes up Water tankers made over three lakh trips to fulfil the demand of residents in the Pune civic areas in the 2021-22 fiscal, data revealed. The number of trips went up by nearly 39,000 (compared to the previous financial year), reflecting one of the highest demand for water tankers in recent times. Residents spent an estimated Rs50 crore on buying water via tankers, after paying Rs250 crore in water taxes in the last fiscal. All this, despite promises of improved water supply to homes by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

According to the annual data compiled from the city’s tanker-filling points, PMC-run vehicles made nearly 29,000 trips in 2021-22, up from an average of 23,000-25,000 over the last few years. Tankers operated by private contractors — allowed to fill up at these points — made nearly 2.3 lakh trips, well above the average of 1.3 lakh to 2 lakh trips. Private parties not on contract with PMC made 41,000 and odd trips were made by. Civic officials said this data was just the tip of the iceberg. PMC does not monitor tanker-filling at sources such as borewells, private wells and natural water bodies across the city. Essentially, the number of tanker trips in Pune city is likely to be much higher than the official data.

There’s also the problem of varying prices of tanker water. PMC has fixed rates for private tankers, ranging from Rs950 to Rs1,350 (per trip), based on the distance and the carrying capacity of the vehicles. But some buyers claimed that they were charged anywhere between Rs1,500 and Rs2,000. The cost even goes up to Rs3,000 per trip during the peak summer months. The administration said the demand had increased since the merger of 23 villages 2021 and the subsequent addition of nearly four lakh population. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/crores-paid-in-water-taxes-but-tanker-demand-goes-up/articleshow/90870169.cms  (16 April 2022)

2nd garbage dump awaiting govt approval for a decade PCMC’s joint city engineer Sanjay Kulkarni said with the expansion of the city, the load of garbage is bound to go up. Keeping the future in mind, the civic authority had moved a proposal ten years ago for setting up of an additional garbage dump at Punawale which is exactly opposite side of Moshi and on the other side of Pune-Mumbai highway that divides the city into two parts. However, the government is yet to decide on the proposal.

Aware of the fate of residents around the Moshi dump, the localities in the Punawale area are strongly resisting the move to set up a garbage dump in their backyard. Civic officials believe this might be the main reason for the reluctance of the state government to approve the proposal. The locals have been pushing for a water filteration plant on that site. “That is because water is lifted from the Pavana river in Ravet area which is very close to Punawale. However, the filtered water reaches Punawale after taking a long route of 28 km. Due to this, there is constant low pressure water in areas like Punawale, Wakad, Thergaon, Kalewadi and Pimple Nilakh. The water woes of these areas will reduce to a great extent if the PCMC goes for a filteration plant rather than a garbage dump,” Kalate said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/second-garbage-dump-in-pimpri-chinchwad-is-awaiting-government-approval-for-a-decade-7869998/  (15 April 2022)

Chennai Rs 200cr for Pallikaranai restoration MoEF has approved Tamil Nadu’s proposal to get financial support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to restore Pallikaranai marshland in Chennai. Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Forests, said the government would receive little over Rs 200 crore, which will be used for scientific eco-restoration of Pallikaranai marshland, which is key for the city’s overall well-being — be it groundwater recharge or flood mitigation. “The proposal includes removal of invasive and introduction of natives species; plugging of sewage inlets; and initiating measures to declare the marshland as a bird sanctuary and Ramsar Site.”

(Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

Environment Minister Meyyanathan Siva V said, “To restore Pallikaranai marshland, the biggest challenge is the dumpyard. The land it’s on will be retrieved and handed to the forest department. Likewise, we plan to clear legacy waste in 143 dumpyards across the State and restore the areas.” According to research done by the Care Earth Trust in 1991, the Pallikaranai marsh covered 2,450 ha in 1991, but by 2015, it lost out to various developments, including a railway line, and covered just 600 ha. Despite its reduced area, the marsh acts as a sponge that stores the heavy monsoon rains and releases water in the dry months.

Last year, the Madras High Court ordered the environment and forest department to prevent non-forest activities in the marshland. It also passed an order to relocate the dumpyards in the marsh, and told the government to reclaim unutilised land allotted to government industries and institutions. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/apr/15/soon-rs-200-crore-for-restorationof-pallikaranai-2442129.html  (15 April 2022)

Is Perumbakkam wetland having sewage problem? Prince Frederick On most sides of the Perumbakkam wetland, the water betrays varying degrees of murkiness. As water hyacinths can float following the natural course of the water, concentration of water hyacinth in one area need not necessarily mean that section suffers from greater pollution levels. The presence of water hyacinth in one section of a waterbody/ marsh usually underlines that it has to be freed of sewage as a whole. Sewage may be flowing in from anywhere, and these inlets need to be identified and plugged. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/is-perumbakkam-wetland-havinga-huge-sewage-problem/article65302611.ece  (09 April 2022)

Jamshedpur Erratic water supply in 9k JSR homes for weeks Leakages in pipelines across Mango, Olidih and other areas have resulted in residents of Samta Nagar, which comes under the jurisdiction of Mango Notified Area Committee (MNAC), getting an erratic supply of water for weeks now. Although MNAC has arranged for water tankers for areas facing acute scarcity, they are apparently not enough to meet the residents’ demands. M K Mahto, junior engineer at the district drinking water and sanitation department, said, “The private agency in charge of the upkeep of the pipelines has been directed to fix the problem at the earliest.” “The erratic power supply is also to be blamed for the irregular water supply,” Rahul Kumar, the city manager of MNAC, claimed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jamshedpur/erratic-water-supply-in-9k-jsr-homes-for-weeks/articleshow/90869937.cms  (16 April 2022)

Delhi High ammonia levels briefly hit water supply High levels of ammonia in the Yamuna disrupted water production and supply to parts of Delhi on Thursday, before it was restored on Friday (April 15). The level of ammonia in the water was around 5.8 parts per million (ppm), according to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). Consequently, water production was reduced at the Chandrawal, Okhla and Wazirabad water treatment plants (WTPs) that draw water from the river. The DJB’s water treatment plants can treat ammonia up to a level of 1 ppm. Chlorine is used to remove small amounts of ammonia from raw water, but the compounds formed by the addition of excess chlorine can be harmful. The BIS standard for ammonia in drinking water is 0.5 ppm. The release of industrial effluents and organic waste into the river can cause a rise in ammonia levels.

Technology at the Chandrawal and Wazirabad WTPs is being upgraded to treat higher levels of ammonia, according to another DJB official. The newly installed technology is expected to treat ammonia levels up to 4 ppm. At the Chandrawal WTP, ozonation, which involves the treatment of ammonia using ozone, will be used, and the system is being installed, he said. Consultancy work is under way for a new plant at Wazirabad, and the technology is being worked out to treat ammonia levels in the water, he added. The plant at Chandrawal has a capacity of 90 MGD, while the one at Wazirabad has a capacity of 120 MGD. A government official said that the upcoming Chandrawal plant will also have aerated biological filters that can help remove ammonia with the help of bacteria. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/high-ammonia-level-yamuna-delhi-water-supply-7871182/  (16 April 2022)

The state water utility has the capacity to treat ammonia levels up to 0.9 parts per million (ppm). As part of its efforts to control ammonia levels in the Yamuna, DJB on Friday also sent emergency messages to the irrigation department of Haryana (where the river flows in from) and the Upper Yamuna River Board (an interstate body that regulates the flow of the river, which is the source of most of Delhi’s water). To be sure, it is unclear if the communication resulted in the reduction of ammonia levels. A Haryana pollution body official said they had “not received” the message.

A senior DJB official said ammonia levels had been increasing since Thursday, with the utility’s quality control team recording ammonia levels of 5.0ppm at Wazirabad pond and 7.8ppm near Sonia Vihar, upstream of Wazirabad. The two plants together serve Delhi with roughly a quarter of its daily water supply of 935 mgd. The city’s estimated daily water demand is 1,380mgd. The Chandrawal plant supplies Delhi 100mgd of potable water a day, while the Wazirabad one supplies 134mgd water. HT had earlier reported that official data from the Wazirabad water quality monitoring laboratory shows that the city saw 22 ammonia spike episodes spread over 134 days, when ammonia levels went above 1 ppm last year. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/pollution-in-yamuna-hitting-water-supply-delhi-jal-board-101650067083477.html  (16 April 2022)

The water utility has also urged the Haryana government to increase and maintain the flow in Delhi Sub Branch canal and Munak Canal to tide over the current situation. “Haryana has been requested to increase the flow in CLC canal from 569 cusecs to 683 cusecs and at the DSB canal from 330 cusecs to 385 cusecs,” the official said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/yamuna-pollution-levels-bounce-past-limit-again-101650230770588.html  (18 April 2022)

Toxic heavy metals, high salinity found in groundwater: Report The rampant use of borewells — often illegal ones — in the Capital may have unforeseen health impacts, as a study has found the presence of heavy metals, such as manganese, iron and even uranium, beyond permissible limits in groundwater tested in some areas of Delhi. Delhi gets about 945MGD of piped water against a demand of 1,150MGD, according to the Delhi Jal Board. To be sure, the study only mentions groundwater extracted directly, ostensibly by residents to make up for the 200MGD shortfall. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/toxic-heavy-metals-high-salinity-found-in-groundwater-says-report-101649800252638.html  (13 April 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

Andhra Pradesh 3 die of ‘diarrhoea’, 35 in hospital 3 persons reportedly died due to ‘diarrhoea’ within 24 hours of drinking ‘contaminated water’ at Jambuladinne village in Allagadda mandal on Thursday (April 14). At least 35 others have been suffering with ‘symptoms of diarrhoea’ and are being treated at local health centres and Allagadda and Nandyal government hospitals. The villagers alleged that the Rural Water Supply (RWS) department had in the past two days supplied contaminated drinking water which led to diarrhoea among the locals. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/apr/15/three-die-of-diarrhoea35-in-hospital-after-drinking-contaminated-water-2442285.html  (15 April 2022)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Odisha Water crisis back to haunt Gajapati, Rayagada villages Though the Rural Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation (RWSS) division has reportedly provided piped drinking water to most areas and also sunk bore wells in the region, water crisis keeps haunting villages of Gajapati and Rayagada districts. For instance, in Puturpada village in Gajapati district’s Nuagarh block, there are 3 tube-wells to cater to a population of more than 500. 2 of them are rendered inoperational while the third one releases stench. That apart, the ongoing pipeline work which started last year is going on at a snail’s pace and the water tank construction has not been completed since 2 years. Villagers have claimed that the pipeline laid in the village is damaged at several places and even stand posts broken. Neither the contractor nor authorities concerned are taking up repair works, alleged villagers.

Similarly, Rayagada district’s Khilimisiguda village with a population of more than 400 has 2 tube-wells and a piped water supply project. While one of the tube-wells is defunct since last 3 years, the other has muddy water. The pipe water supply was stalled after the motor got burnt six months back. Villagers, mostly tribals, reportedly contributed money for repairing the motor but it again stopped functioning within two days of repair. Now, most of them consume contaminated water of river Nagavali nearby. Meanwhile in Ganjam, over 100 persons across Dharakote, Khalikote and Purusottampur blocks reportedly took ill in the last fortnight, after consuming polluted water.  As per reports, two persons have died and 150 others got affected with diarrhoea during this period. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/apr/16/water-crisis-back-to-haunt-gajapati-rayagada-villages-2442668.html  (16 April 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Water scarcity triggers protest at Zaindar Mohalla Inhabitants of Zaindar Mohalla area of Habba Kadal here on Friday (April 15) morning staged protest against the Jal Shakti department for failing to provide adequate water supply to them from the last four months. Scores of women from the locality blocked the main road, causing traffic jam in the area. “It has been nearly four months that the consumers in this area are not getting adequate water supply. We have been given assurances multiple times by the authorities, but nothing has been done in this regard,” the residents said. They demanded that Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar and top officials of Jal Shakti department to look into the matter and redress their genuine demands at the earliest. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/srinagar/water-scarcity-triggers-protest-at-zaindar-mohalla  (16 April 2022)

MONSOON 2022

Skymet Southwest monsoon to be ‘normal’ at 98% Private weather forecasting agency, Skymet, on Apr 12, 2022 said that the southwest monsoon in 2022 is expected to be ‘normal’ at 98 percent of the Long Period Average (LPA is 880.5 mm) with an error margin of 5 %. Skymet said the first half of the SW monsoon (June-July) is expected to fare better than the latter half (Aug-Sept).

– Rajasthan and Gujarat along with Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura are at risk of being rain deficient throughout the season. Kerala and North Interior Karnataka will witness scanty rains in July-August. But, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, in North India, and rainfed areas of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will witness above normal rainfall.

– Rainfall in June is expected to be 107 of the LPA of that month, while rainfall in July is expected to be 100 per cent of the LPA. In August, rainfall across India is expected to be around 95 per cent of the LPA while in September, rains are expected to be 90 per cent of the LPA of that month.

– southwest monsoon 2022 has 65 percent chance of being normal, 25 percent chance of being deficit and 10 per cent chance of being ‘above normal’. There is no chance of 2022 being a drought year. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/skymet-predicts-2022-southwest-monsoon-to-be-normal-at-98-of-lpa-122041200283_1.html  (13 April 2022)

IMD New ‘normal’ hints at rainfall dip Under the new ‘rainfall normal’ figure, all-India rainfall for the southwest (summer) monsoon is 87 cm, based on 1971-2020 data, as against the earlier normal figure of 88cm based on 1961-2010 period. Till 2018, the IMD used 89cm, based on a 50-year average from 1951-2000, as the ‘normal’ rainfall benchmark for the monsoon season. The revision is part of a periodic update on the normal rainfall figures. New rainfall normal has been computed using rainfall data of 4,132 rain gauge stations well distributed over the country, representing 703 districts.

Though IMD director general M Mohapatra attributed the decrease in average normal rainfall to “natural multi-decadal epochal variability of dry and wet epochs” of all India rainfall, he did not rule out the possibility of impact of climate change. “Presently the southwest monsoon is passing through a dry epoch which started in the decade of 1971-80. The decadal average of all India SW monsoon rainfall for the decade 2011-20 is -3.8% (minus 3.8%) from the long-term mean. The next decade i.e. 2021-30 is expected to come closer to neutral and southwest monsoon would enter into the wet epoch from the decade 2031-40,” said Mohapatra in an indication that the wet spell may increase the rainfall in future. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/imd-predicts-normal-monsoon-rainfall-in-2022-new-long-term-normal-figure-shows-marginal-decline-in-rainfall-in-india/articleshow/90842211.cms  (14 April 2022)

In its first-stage long range forecast for the 2022 southwest monsoon, the IMD has forecast normal rainfall during the season. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/what-downgrade-in-average-monsoon-rainfall-means-7869816/  (15 April 2022) At a press briefing, the agency said India would get 99% of the LPA rainfall — changed from 89 cm to 88 cm in 2018, and in the periodic update in 2022, again revised to 87 cm. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-likely-to-see-normal-monsoon-for-4th-year-on-trot/article65320551.ece  (14 April 2022) There is a possibility of dry spells and intense rains and a volatile monsoon in these months. https://theprint.in/opinion/volatile-rains-low-crop-yields-what-imd-prediction-of-normal-monsoon-hides/917169/  (15 April 2022)

Assam 7 Killed as Heavy Rains 7 people were killed and a few injured in different districts of Assam after heavy rainfall followed by a severe storm hit the hilly state. Heavy rainfall and thundershowers continued at a few places over Assam-Meghalaya with Haflong in Assam receiving 190 mm and Cherrapunji in Meghalaya 120 mm rainfall, the IMD said. https://www.news18.com/news/india/7-killed-as-heavy-rains-storm-lashes-upper-assam-imd-says-thundershowers-to-continue-4993249.html  (16 April 2022)

At least 69 villages in Ri Bhoi district were affected after a severe storm wreaked havoc in the district and parts of Shillong on Thursday (April 14) morning. Most of the affected areas include – Lumnongrim Dewlieh, Umsning and parts of Umroi. The Block Development Officer (BDO)  of Umsning C&RD Block, Raja Brahma, said apart from houses, offices of the PWD and Veterinary departments were also severely damaged. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/04/14/severe-storm-wreaks-havoc-in-ri-bhoi-parts-of-shillong/  (14 April 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Unusual dry Spring triggering forest fires The ‘unusual’ dry weather in March and April this year and comparatively less snow is being termed as a likely cause for increasing forest fires in north Kashmir. The north Kashmir’s Bandipora has alone witnessed more than six fire incidents wherein the officlas had to fight the raging fires for more than a day. “The grass at this time of the season would normally be damp with the rains on regular intervals. This time it’s dry and catches fire easily,” Divisional Forest Officer, Shabir Ahmad told the Greater Kashmir.

The officials also believe less snowfall in these reaches during winter is the cause as most of these areas are dry. The soil would also be damp, but that’s not the case this season, the officials said. “The March weather mostly being dry has increased the chances of fire incidents many folds,” the DFO said. A forest protection official, not wishing to be named said that the department was facing an acute dearth of safety equipment to fight the fire. “We have to control the fire by our naked hands as there is a dearth of safety equipment,” he shared, adding that “there was no mechanism to utilise water sources if available even in the areas”. The department said that the locals were equally helpful full in supporting them to put off the fires in forests. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/kashmir-todays-paper/unusual-dry-spring-triggering-forest-fires  (22 April 2022)

URBAN FLOODS

Bengaluru Residents reel under water-logging woes The IMD recorded 37.7 mm rainfall Thursday (April 15) evening in Bengaluru. The heavy rain left parts of the city marooned and the control room of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) received complaints of trees getting uprooted, water entering houses and others. The disruption of power supply for several hours during the rain added to the woes of the residents in BTM, J P Nagar, Jayanagar, Bagalgunte and other areas. In Yelachenahalli, water gushed inside over 60 houses.

Meanwhile, the citizens’ group questioned the authorities over the encroachment of drains and lakes which they said lead to waterlogging in just a few hours of rain. Abdul Aleem, president of the citizens’ group Changemakers of Kanakapura Road Association, said, “The revenue department is selling our existing lakes, drains, etc to the encroachers and behaving as if they don’t know the reason for the floods in the low-lying areas. Action must be taken to ensure restoration of Jaraganahalli and Yelachenahalli lakes and the nearby storm water drains.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bangalore-rainfall-monsoons-imd-weather-news-karnataka-7870762/  (16 April 2022)

Heavy rain which lashed Bengaluru on Thursday (April 15) night left around 300 houses in five areas flooded with drain water, other areas water-logged and at least 10 trees uprooted across the city. When filthy water began flowing into their homes around 8pm, residents of Banashankari and Kamakya Layout, around Vidyapeeth in Bengaluru South, spent the night clearing water. Besides, 20 households in Ganesh Mandir ward, 30 houses in Chikkasandra, 150 houses in Uttarahalli area of Bommanahalli zone were also flooded with water from the storm water drain. These areas lie on either side of the storm water drain which runs below Outer Ring Road.

Residents having difficult time after heavy downpour on Thursday late evening near kamakya theatre in Banashankari. BBMP workers were seen clearing water. (Photo | Shriram BN, EPS)

With 73mm of rain descending on the area around Vidyapeetha in just half-an-hour, the drain began overflowing into the houses in Ward 183, Kamakya Layout, and Ward 165, Banashankari 3rd Stage. “Our road and houses were flooded, with water rising to 4ft. Household appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and other items are spoilt. We couldn’t sleep or cook,” said Rajesh, a software engineer who lives on Banashankari 1st Main Road. A wholesale drug distributer Chaithanya E shared, “We’ve lost medical supplies worth at least Rs 15 lakh, as the godown of SK Enterprises was flooded with drain water,” he said. R Sumathi of Millet House in the area, said she had lost millets worth Rs 1 lakh.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2022/apr/16/heavy-rain-drain-water-leave-bengaluru-residents-in-filthy-mess-2442538.html  (16 April 2022)

LANDSLIDES

West Bengal State coast faces most erosion The Ministry of Earth Sciences, in a response to a question, informed the Lok Sabha that of the 6,907.18 km long Indian coastline of the mainland, about 34% is under varying degrees of erosion, while 26% is of the coastline is of an accreting nature, and the remaining 40% is in a stable state. “The National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), Chennai, an attached office of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is monitoring shoreline erosion since 1990 using remote sensing data and GIS mapping techniques. About 6,907.18 km long Indian coastline of mainland has been analysed from 1990 to 2018,” the Ministry said.

– W Bengal, with a 534.35 km-long coastline, suffered erosion along about 60.5% of the coast (323.07 km).  This is followed by Kerala, which has 592.96 km of coastline, 46.4% of it (275.33 km) faced erosion. Tamil Nadu, with a long coastline of 991.47 km, recorded erosion along 42.7% of it (422.94 km). Gujarat, with the longest coastline of 1,945.60 km, recorded erosion along 27.06% (537.5 km). In the Union Territory of Puducherry, with a 41.66 km-long coastline, about 56.2% (23.42 km) recorded erosion.

– Another organisation under the MoES, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), has prepared and published an atlas of Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) maps for the entire coastline of India at a 1:100000 scale using data on sea level rise, coastal slope, shoreline change rate, coastal elevation, coastal geomorphology, tidal range and significant wave height.

– In response to the question of whether the government has formulated any plans to rehabilitate people from low-lying coastal areas, who may be adversely impacted due to rising sea levels in the coming decade, the MoES’ reply stated that the XVth Finance Commission had recommended the creation of a National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) and State Disaster Risk Management Fund (SDRMF) comprising a Mitigation Fund at the National and State-levels (NDMF/SDMF), and a Response Fund at the National and State level (NDRF/SDRF) for the award period from 2021-22 to 2022-26. “The Commission has also made specific recommendations for ‘Mitigation Measures to Prevent Erosion’ under NDMF and ‘Resettlement of Displaced People Affected by Erosion’ under NDRF”. The MoES in its reply added that the XVth Finance Commission had suggested, “The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and/or Ministry of Home Affairs “may develop suitable norms for mitigation measures to prevent erosion and both the Union and the State Governments develop a policy to deal with the extensive displacement of people caused by coastal and river erosion. At present, NDMA is in the process of preparing the suitable norms for mitigation measures and developing a policy to deal with the extensive displacement of people.” https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/34-of-indias-coastline-is-eroding-ministry-of-earth-sciences/article65305899.ece  (09 April 2022)

ENERGY OPTIONS

In a first, India plans standalone renewable battery power bank India is setting up a first-of-its-kind standalone renewable battery power bank envisaging an investment of Rs 2,000 crore to make green energy available on tap for discoms and grid operators during peak demand, but spike in prices of lithium — a key ingredient for making batteries — and supply chain disruptions due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict may weigh on industry response. According to the tender floated by SECI (formerly Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd), the government entity implementing India’s solar and wind energy plans, earlier this week, the project will have storage capacity to supply 500MW for two hours, or 1,000MWh (mega watt hour), the renewable energy ministry said in a statement on Apr 16, 2022.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-a-first-india-plans-standalone-renewable-battery-power-bank/articleshow/90886224.cms  (17 April 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

MoEF ‘Sensitive’ highway projects near border to be exempt from EC The Union environment ministry plans to exempt highway projects near the country’s borders that are critical to the country’s defence or are of strategic importance from the requirement of prior environment clearance – a move that environmentalists fear could lead to environmental degradation in ecologically fragile and biodiversity-rich areas. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sensitive-highway-projects-near-border-may-soon-be-exempt-from-environment-clearance-101649874969707.html  (14 April 2022)

Centre considers delinking oil, gas extraction from mining tag According to the people cited above, the ministry of petroleum and natural gas (MoPNG) has requested the environment ministry to create a separate category for appraisal of oil and gas projects on their Parivesh portal, where various environmental clearances are processed. The minutes of a FAC meeting on March 31 said while the panel has deferred its decision on the matter, it maintained that extraction of natural gas and petroleum is not mining as per interpretation of a 2006 Supreme Court order. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-considers-delinking-oil-gas-extraction-from-mining-tag-101650047571998.html  (16 April 2022)

MoHUA Projects worth Rs 4,152 cr to remediate legacy dumpsites The ministry of housing and urban affairs has approved dumpsite remediation projects worth Rs 4,152 crores to remediate 963 lakh metric tonnes of legacy dumpsites occupying nearly 5,700 acres in more than 600 urban local bodies across 14 states and union territories, officials said. The approved amount includes projects worth Rs 776 crore to remediate 253 lakh metric tonnes covering 186 acres across 3 MCDs of Delhi, they said. Of the approved amounts, Central assistance of Rs 529 crore has already been released to states/ union territories as first installments, including Rs 174 crore released to the Delhi government, it said. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/real-estate/projects-worth-rs-4152-crore-to-remediate-legacy-dumpsites-across-14-states-and-uts-mohua-8346411.html  (11 April 2022)

Opinion Miyawaki technique of planting is unnatural, avoid its indiscriminate use Manoj Misra Miyawaki planting is unfit for non moist locations. What could be acceptable in moist temperate, sub tropical or island ecologies like Japan and similar latitudes would be most unwise in other latitudes, specially tropics, where water is climatically scarce or available unevenly over the year. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/miyawaki-forest-environment-japan-india-climate-change-water-health-plants-trees-50638  (12 April 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

Nepal 710 MW of electricity added to national grid in 2078 BS Nepal added 710 MW of power generation capacity in just completed Nepalese year in Mid April 2022. Cumulative capacity is 2150 MW, of which private sector contribution is 1452 MW.

– During the period, 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project, 52.4 MW Likhu-IV Hydroelectric Project, 24.2 MW Likhu Khola-A project, 20 MW Lower Modi Khola Hydropower Project, 11 MW from Khare Khola, 25 MW from Singati Khola and 22.2 MW of electricity from Upper Chaku Khola-A project were added. 11 MW of electricity produced by solar power plants and sugar factories was also added to the national grid in the past one year. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/710-mw-of-electricity-added-to-national-grid-in-2078-bs/  (13 April 2022)

Bhutan Hydropower export to India is expected to grow by 27.4 percent with the commissioning of two new hydropower projects – Punatshangchhu-II and Nikachhu hydroelectric projects in 2023. https://kuenselonline.com/trade-deficit-to-widen-to-12-5-percent-of-gdp-this-fy/  (12 April 2022)

CHINA

China transforming cities to stop flooding Faced with worsening urban floods, cities in China are embracing nature and building what are termed “sponge cities.” Instead of relying on the “gray infrastructure” of levees, pipes, dams and channels, sponge cities allow urban areas to absorb water in times of high rainfall and release it in times of drought. These concepts could be used in cities across the world to combat flooding, absorb carbon dioxide, increase animal and plant life, and expand green spaces.

Sponge cities are designed to absorb water into the ground, instead of chaneling it away as quickly as possible. Photo: Zhidemai/Costfoto/picture alliance 

– Kongjian Yu, dean of Peking University’s College of Architecture, pioneered research into sponge cities, and has spent more than 20 years campaigning for their adoption in China. He says the current approach of building vast concrete barriers and covering all permeable surfaces is doomed to fail and instead cities should adopt nature-based solutions to flooding.  https://frontline.thehindu.com/dispatches/china-transforming-cities-to-stop-flooding/article38473822.ece  (15 April 2022)

Report China looking to create ‘hydro-hegemony’ through dam projects in Tibet Synopsis:- Since Tibet’s occupation, China has disrupted the natural flow of rivers by pursuing a series of ill-conceived environmental and developmental policies such as the Great Leap Forward, the South-North Water Diversion Project, etc, the report said, adding that, this has led to a dam-building spree on the Tibetan plateau with disastrous impacts on Asia’s major rivers. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/china-looking-to-create-hydro-hegemony-through-dam-projects-in-tibet-report/articleshow/90852686.cms  (14 April 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA New York Clears $4.5 Billion Plan to Bring Hydropower to Big Apple Public Service Commission, the Regulators approved a $4.5 billion, 339 miles long transmission line (to carry 1250 MW hydropower) Champlain Hudson Power Express that will deliver Canadian hydropower to New York City. The environment group River Keeper has been opposing it, saying that hydropower cannot be considered clean or climate friendly source of power. In a statement Thursday, Riverkeeper President Tracy Brown said the group was “disappointed” in the commission’s decision and would continue advocating that rivers “are not unnecessarily sacrificed in the essential rapid transition to clean energy.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-14/new-york-approves-4-5-billion-plan-to-bring-hydropower-to-nyc  (15 April 2022)

The story of Elwha river in Washington state in US after the decommissioning of the Elwha dam in 2012. https://progressive.org/latest/restoration-of-elwha-river-skeggs-220405/  (05 April 2022)

A Lake in Florida Suing to Protect Itself Lake Mary Jane, in central Florida, could be harmed by development. A first-of-its-kind lawsuit asks whether nature should have legal rights. A development planned for a site just north of Mary Jane would convert nineteen hundred acres of wetlands, pine flatlands, and cypress forest into homes, lawns, and office buildings. Mary Jane’s case is a first. Never before has an inanimate slice of nature tried to defend its rights in an American courtroom.

For most of history, people saw themselves as dependent on their surroundings, and rivers and mountains had the last word. Illustration by Marion Fayolle

– The lake has filed a case in Florida state court, together with Lake Hart, the Crosby Island Marsh, and two boggy streams. According to legal papers submitted in February, the development would “adversely impact the lakes and marsh who are parties to this action,” causing injuries that are “concrete, distinct, and palpable.”

– A number of animals have preceded Mary Jane to court, including Happy, an elephant who lives at the Bronx Zoo, and Justice, an Appaloosa cross whose owner, in Oregon, neglected him. There have also been several cases brought by entire species; for instance, the palila, a critically endangered bird, successfully sued Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources for allowing feral goats to graze on its last remaining bit of habitat. (The palila “wings its way into federal court in its own right,” Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, wrote in a decision that granted the species relief.) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/04/18/a-lake-in-florida-suing-to-protect-itself  (11 April 2022)

Drought in Chile enters 13th year As a punishing, record-breaking drought enters its 13th year, Chile on Monday announced an unprecedented plan to ration water for the capital of Santiago, a city of nearly 6 million. https://www.indiatoday.in/environment/story/drought-in-chile-enters-13th-year-govt-announces-plan-to-ration-water-1936962-2022-04-13  (13 April 2022)

Report LISTENING TO A RIVER By Christopher Caskey:- Peter Coates asks us, in “The Strange Stillness of the Past: Toward an Environmental History of Sound and Noise,” why environmental historians don’t delve more into sound and noise as they seek information about the past. This review focuses on Coates’ inquiry on water histories, examining some examples in which scholars and writers have utilized sound to analyze and document past waterscapes, but identifying this as an underexplored area of scholarship. This review also demonstrates how we can use ideas from Coates’ essay as a kind of blueprint to build a framework for studying sound in river histories.  https://editions.lib.umn.edu/openrivers/article/listening-to-a-river/  (2017)

New satellite is a game changer for tracking environment The Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program, or EnMAP, is capable of measuring things that would otherwise be invisible, from the degree of pollution in a river flowing through a forest to the nutrient supply within a plant. The images EnMAP will take are so high in resolution that scientists will be able to study the environment at a previously unachievable level of detail for space-based observing systems, scientists told CNN. The highly sophisticated satellite was designed to study the environmental impact of the climate crisis, observe how environments respond to human activities and to monitor the management of the world’s natural resources.

The satellite reached its destination in Earth’s orbit on April 9 — eight days after it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Now, scientists wait to receive its data. Understanding how light interacts with different materials — like plants, water or soil — makes it easier for researchers identify them and define their characteristics from a distance. The satellite’s technology uses the nearly 250 different colors to more accurately and specifically determine the characteristics of the land or water it observes.

NASA’s Surface Biology and Geology study, for example, aims to collect data by the end of the decade to “address terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and other elements of biodiversity, geology, volcanoes, the water cycle and applied sciences topics relevant to many societal benefit areas,” according to the program’s website. The European Space Agency is also contributing to hyperspectral data with the CHIME satellite. CHIME will provide “support of EU- and related policies for the management of natural resources, assets and benefits,” but no launch date has been set yet. https://edition.cnn.com/2022/04/15/world/enmap-satellite-climate/index.html  (15 April 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 11 April 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 04 April 2022  

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

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