DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 200622: Erratic onset & progress of SW Monsoon in India

It is great to see an EDITORIAL on monsoon progress in one of India’s National newspapers, THE TIMES OF INDIA on June 20, 2022. The editorial figure of monsoon deficit of 32% at all India level is hugely outdated as it was for rainfall till 8.30 am on June 15. According to the latest figures of rainfall till 0830 am on June 19 available as we write this, the deficit is DOWN to just 8% as rainfall has been above normal on each of the last five days. The deficit in NW India has also reduced from 77% reported in TOI edit to 63% now. The monsoon has also covered much larger area except in North West India. The rainfall so far has already broken several records in terms of intensity of rainfall.

Nevertheless, the key message of the TOI EDIT, about our wrong cropping pattern and urgent need of the govt to come up with schemes to incentivise farmers to change to more appropriate cropping pattern is very important.

The EDIT should have also highlighted the massive floods in North East India and inability of IMD to forecast such unprecedented rainfall sufficiently in advance. The erratic onset and progress of monsoon should also have been highlighted. Whether we like it or not, want it or not, our reliance on SW monsoon for kharif crop for majority of our farmers and our annual water replenishment for most of India is going to remain a reality. The change in rainfall pattern, largely due to Global Warming induced climate change is also increasingly undeniable and a reality. We certainly need much better forecasts, monitoring, analysis and communication of rainfall on urgent basis and there is a lot that can and should be done on each of these fronts. Similarly our preparedness to use this annual bounty to recharge groundwater, India’s water lifeline, is an area that needs urgent action.

MONSOON 2022

Meghalaya Highest rain in 56 years Cherrapunjee or Sohra and Mawsynram are living up to their reputation as the two wettest places on earth. These two high-altitude places, separated by an aerial distance of about 10 km in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills district, received the highest amount of precipitation in 56 years during the 24-hour period from 8.30 am on June 13 to 8.30 am on June 14. Mawsynram, which currently holds the crown of the wettest place on earth, received 710.6 mm of rainfall in the 24-hour period between Tuesday (June 14, 2022) and Wednesday (June 15). In the 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday (June 16), it received 670 mm of rainfall.

– Mawsynram’s last highest single-day rainfall was in month of June in 1966 — 945.4 mm on 7th, 877.4 mm on 9th, 717.6 mm on the 10th and 737.6 mm on 12th of the month. In terms of average annual rainfall, Mawsynram tops the list with 11,873 mm of rain per annum.

– Its frequent rival to the top position, Cherrapunjee, logged more in the 24-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday mornings — 811.6 mm. In the same period between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning, it has received 700mm of rainfall. The Tuesday-Wednesday rainfall over Cherrapunjee was the seventh rainiest day since 1966. Cherrapunjee’s all-time wettest day was recorded on June 16, 1995, at with 1563.3 mm of rainfall, followed by 973.8 mm on June 5, 1956, 930 mm on June 15, 1995, 924.6 mm on June 21, 1934, 907 mm on June 25, 1970, and 882.1 mm on June 9, 1966. Cherrapunjee is the original holder of the wettest-place tag in the Guinness Book of World Records after it received a whopping 9,300 mm of rainfall in July 1861. It was later overtaken by Mawsynram which received 11,986 mm in 1977.

– What makes the two towns the wettest places? A Met official said, “The typical shape of the catchment area in southern Meghalaya, together with its orography, contributes to the enhancement of convergence of moisture coming from the Bay of Bengal, resulting in such extremely heavy falls.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/wettest-places-on-earth-live-up-to-reputation-with-highest-rain-in-56-yrs/articleshow/92265984.cms  (18 June 2022)

India records 32% deficit in rain in 15 days of monsoon There is a deficiency of 36% in rainfall over the southern peninsula, 65% over central India, and 77% over northwest India. Only in east and northeast India is there an excess — of 14%. Among states, Kerala has a 59% rain deficiency, Karnataka 34%, and Telangana 23%. And even in the northeast, some states have not received their normal quota of rains — highlighting the trend of regional and sub-regional variation in monsoon rainfall that increases the challenge for farmers. Over northeast India, for instance, Manipur has a 50% deficit, Mizoram 46% and Tripura 38%. Among northwestern states where monsoon hasn’t arrived yet, pre-monsoon activity has been missing. For example, Delhi has a 92% rain deficiency, Haryana 92% and Uttar Pradesh 96%. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/parched-india-grapples-with-rainfall-deficit-in-first-15-days-of-monsoon-101655377464157.html  (17 June 2022)

Monsoon to pick pace after weakening of mei-yu front in China A top climate expert from India said the active mei-yu front is dragging significant moisture from the Indian region, resulting in heavy rainfall over parts of China and even in parts of northeast India. Once this front weakens, the southwest monsoon could pick up strength around next week. D S Pai, director of Institute of Climate Change Studies, government of Kerala, said that the unfavourable Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) phase is also responsible for the country’s current below-normal rainfall.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/monsoon-to-pick-pace-after-weakening-of-mei-yu-front-in-china/articleshow/92269773.cms  (17 June 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog Muktadhara Tirthan: How one fish & many people saved a river Story of possibly the only River Valley in India that is a No-Go for Dams and Hydropower Projects. How did this come to pass?

Story of Tirthan is a mixed bag. One free flowing river does not absolve the state from the reality that all other rivers are dammed many times over, the process has not been accountable and transparent, local concerns are not accounted for, EIAs are dishonest, public hearings are a sham, implementation is shoddy, monitoring or compliance is non-existent, water sources are drying up, muck dumped into rivers is making them into ticking time bombs, fish ladders are a joke, environmental flows are for namesake and disasters have multiplied.

All the other projects: from the protests at Kinnaur to blasting at Luhri need to be respected and looked at according to their own merits. One Tirthan is too tiny to absolve the state of all these impacts. We need more Tirthans. https://sandrp.in/2022/06/15/muktadhara-tirthan/  (15 June 2022)

Report Hydro power generation down by 2.2% in 2021 According to Renewables 2022 Global Status Report, India saw reduction in generation from large hydro in 2021 by 2.2%. Global Hydropower Installed capacity increased by 26 GW to 1197 GW, an increase by about 2.1%, but global hydropower generation in 2021 fell by 3.5%. India stood sixth globally in hydropower capacity addition in 2021.

– “India added 843 MW of hydropower capacity in 2021, raising the total to 45.3 GW. Among project completions were the last two 150 MW turbines at the 600 MW Kameng project in Arunachal Pradesh, two 50 MW units at Sorang, 113 MW at Rongnichu and three 60 MW units ready for service by year’s end at the Bajoli Holi plant. As of the end of 2021, India had more than 12 GW of hydropower capacity under development… Although India’s hydroelectricity generation fell slightly during 2021 (-2.2%) to 168.4 TWh, the overall trend in recent years has been a large increase in output, driven mainly by the melting of glacial icecaps. In the five years since 2016, hydropower generation rose 31% while installed capacity increased only 9.2%. Glacial melting in the Himalayas contributes to increased river flow, as the mountain range has lost an estimated half metre of ice (8 billion tonnes of water) on average per year over the last two decades. In early 2021, the Rishi Ganga River in Uttarakhand swelled more than 15 metres in an avalanche-induced flash flood of glacial meltwater. In additions to the many lives lost, the torrent destroyed the 13.2 MW Rishi Ganga plant and damaged the 520 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad plant under construction.”  https://www.ren21.net/reports/global-status-report/ 

Hydro, dam projects facing permafrost thaw threat Permafrost thaw, one of the changes to the mountain cryosphere in the Himalayas triggered by global warming, is causing irreparable damage to the region. ermafrost or permanently frozen ground is defined as the ground (soil or rock and the included ice and organic material) that remains at or below zero degrees Celsius for at least two consecutive years. In the Himalayas, permafrost is “discontinuous” and is found at an elevation of (and above) 4,000 metres above sea level, and in warmer places, it is located above 6,000 metres above sea level. Permafrost is overlain by a layer of seasonally frozen and thawing ground known as “the active layer”. Under the active layer, permafrost can be from three feet to 4,900 feet thick. Scientists estimate that the world’s permafrost holds 1,600 billion tonnes of carbon, almost double the amount of carbon that is currently in the atmosphere. It is thawing, hence, could release more planet-heating carbon than any other emissions in the world.

– “Compound extreme events, such as the Chamoli disaster in India and Melamchi disaster in Nepal in 2021, could be potentially linked to permafrost thawing,” said Prashant Baral, a permafrost research consultant at The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal.

– John Mohd Wani, a researcher who studies permafrost in the Western Himalayan Region, said that preliminary investigation into the Chamoli disaster showed a temperature increase between 2012 and 2016 in the region that warmed at least 40 metres below the ground over four years. “This most likely thawed permafrost in the region, which led to the event along with other processes such as precipitation increase,” he said. “Chamoli disaster is a combination of complex processes involving local geology, snow, glacier, permafrost processes and recent warming of the local climate.”

– Some of the other impacts of permafrost thawing include changed frequency and unexpected location of landslides and changes to vegetation, run-off patterns, and water quality.

– “So, even if we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, deep inside the mountains, it will continue to thaw over many hundreds of years,” Simon Keith Allen, senior scientist, Institute for Environmental Sciences at University of Geneva who studied permafrost in the Indian Himalayas in 2015  said. “So large rock avalanches (like what happened in Chamoli) potentially linked to thawing permafrost are a long-term problem and need to be considered under risk assessment strategies for infrastructure in the Himalayas.”

– “Permafrost characteristics and its distribution is a crucial knowledge gap in the cryospheric system studies of the Indian Himalayan Region,” said Wani. “There is no information or literature about the engineering challenges of permafrost in the region. Furthermore, a detailed permafrost distribution map and its characteristics are missing from the region.”

– Dams and hydropower stations in these regions are at the risk of being damaged if the thawing of permafrost intensifies. Allen said that dam structures hold back water, but dams can slump due to melting and causing damage. https://scroll.in/article/1026302/an-underground-phenomenon-driven-by-climate-change-is-damaging-the-himalayas  (17 June 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Chamera Power Station Dam authorities issue water advisory This means every river on which a hydropower station exists becomes out of bounds for the people? Is this cost of loss of access to river even considered while proposing the hydropower projects? Is there any assessment of what this means in terms of loss to the specific people and the society? Who authorises such use of rivers and under what law? https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/dam-authorities-issue-water-advisory-404523  (17 June 2022)

Assam NHPC officials said two units of the Lower Subansiri dam will be operational in Dec 2022. Singh was present for the erection of Unit 1 (boxing-up) of the project, which is a major milestone towards commissioning of project. The completion of Unit 2 will pave the way for the first phase commissioning of the dam. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/hydropower-needed-to-arrest-climate-change-says-minister/articleshow/92215089.cms  (15 June 2022)

Andhra Pradesh Govt’s bid to set up hydropower project near Odisha’s Kotia Opposing the Andhra Pradesh administration’s project, Pottangi Zilla Parishad said that the neighbouring State should refrain from its attempts to take control of the disputed panchayat. Recently, a team of Andhra Pradesh officials was seen conducting survey to set up a hydropower project near Galigabdar in Koraput’s Pottangi block. The team collected stones and soil from Galigabdar waterfall in Nuagaon panchayat and also from Talaganjaipadar, Naredivalasa and Talapaniki villages under Kotia. The AP team met Koraput Collector Md Abdaal Akhtar and apprised him of the details of the proposed hydropower project. The team members also submitted a field survey report of the project. Contacted, the Collector said he refused to give permission for the project as the Kotia border dispute is sub-judice in the apex court. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/jun/17/andhra-pradesh-governments-bid-to-set-up-hydropower-project-near-odishas-kotia-2466635.html  (17 June 2022)

MoEF Decisions from the Minutes of EAC on River Valley Committee held on May 31, 2022:

1. Channaka-Korata (Rudha) barrage on Penganga River-Interstate Irrigation Project (6677.00 Ha CCA), Dist Adilabad, Telangana by Irrigation & CAD Department, Govt of Telangana – Env Clearance: APPROVED

2. Sitamma Sagar Multi-Purpose Project (320 MW) in 1394.29 ha at Village Ammagaripalli, Tehsil Aswapuram, Dist Bhadradri Kothagudem (Telangana) by Irrigation and CAD dept, Govt of Telangana- Terms of Reference: APPROVED

3. Idukki Hydro Electric Project (800 MW) in 127 ha at Village -Arakulam, Tehsil Thodupuzha, Dist Idukki, Kerala by Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd– Terms of Reference: APPROVED.

4. 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 – Env Clearance: EAC sub com to conduct site visit, MoEF to “initiate necessary action under EP Act, 1986 in view of the start of construction work without obtaining the Environmental Clearance.” http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/2006202238124047FinalMoM_28th_EAC_RVHEP_31-05-2022.pdf 

Some relevant results in the minutes of the FAC meeting held on June 13, 2022:– Diversion of 160.4 ha. of forest land in Karlakatti, Chakrageri and Kagihal Village, Savadatti (Saundatti) Taluk, Belagavi District for construction of Standalone Pumped Storage Component of Saundatti Integrated Renewable Energy Project in favour of Greenko Solar Energy Pvt Ltd Karnataka: APPROVED http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/611171213121811642_1655468956411.pdf 

DAMS

The cover of the book The Struggle for Narmada. The Narmada Bachao Andolan movement, which began in the 1980s, advocated for better compensation and rehabilitation of the people falling in the submergence area.

Book Review The struggle for Narmada The book is a meticulous effort to tell the story of the NBA and highlight the role of tribal leaders and their struggles. It is a compilation of the conversation with two Adivasi leaders Keshavbhau Vasave and Kevalsingh Vasave. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/narmada-bachao-andolan-through-the-eyes-of-lesser-known-tribal-leaders/  (20 June 2022)

Gujarat 50K women write postcards to Modi on water shortage issue Karmavad lake and Mukteshwar dam issue took an interesting turn on Sunday (June 19) after 50,000 women wrote postcards to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to include the water bodies under the Narmada Command area.

– The people in the Vadgam constituency have been agitating for the past few months after the water levels in the Karmavad lake and Mukteshwar dam dipped and now both are running dry. People have been demanding to fill both these water bodies with water from Narmada. https://www.siasat.com/gujarat-50k-women-write-postcards-to-modi-on-water-shortage-issue-2352290/  (19 June 2022)

Maharashtra Software to sync dam water discharge in Krishna basin Govt will roll out a software to manage the water discharge from 22 dams in the Krishna river basin. The software is supposed to help authorities mitigate the floods in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts. The information about the rainfall in the catchment areas of the dams, the storage levels in the dams, the water levels in the rivers will be put in the software to get the results in form of the amount of discharge to be done from which dam, at what time. Hemant Dhumal, the chief engineer of the Krishna Valley Development Corp said, “The software is under consideration. By June-end, we expect it to be rolled out. The govt had set up the Vadenere Committee to study the causes of 2019 floods. I was also a part of the committee. The panel had suggested development of a software for integrated reservoir operating system… We are developing the system to get the details of the rainfall in the free catchment areas on real-time basis. In the second phase, the data thus acquired will be used to make more accurate predictions.” Dhumal said that a few other suggestions by the panel are also being implemented. He said that the Kolhapur type weirs with bridge type barrages are also been implemented. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolhapur/soon-software-to-sync-dam-water-discharge-in-krishna-river-basin/articleshow/92217668.cms  (15 June 2022)

Mekedatu Project Tamil Nadu has called Bommai statement about Cauvery Management authority considering Mekedatu in next meeting a political stunt and have written to PM and filed a petition against it in SC and told Karnataka no work till SC verdict. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/mekedatu-concerns-farmers-livelihood-tamil-nadu-tells-bommai-1118474.html  (15 June 2022)

Tamil Nadu Proposal to desilt Vaigai dam sent for approval A proposal to desilt the Vaigai dam at a cost of Rs 9 crore has been sent, said a Public Works Department official. “The alluvial soil will be dug out and will be sold at a cost of Rs 245 crore within three years. Final proposal has been made and sent to the Research Centre Chief Engineer for ratification,” they added. 

According to the 2012 calculation, 16.46 per cent of the water capacity was reduced due to Alluvial soil (Vandal Mann) deposited in the dam as silt. Following this, officials from PWD asked the WAPCOS Ltd, which is under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, to submit a proposal to desilt the Vaigai dam. The WAPCOS report showed the total alluvial soil deposited in the water channel was 33.481 million cubic metre, and the technical team recommended taking out 9.21 million cubic meter. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jun/13/tamil-nadu-proposal-to-desilt-vaigai-dam-sent-for-approval-2465019.html  (13 June 2022)

Maintain full reservoir level of Siruvani dam, TN CM tells Kerala counterpart Lowering of the water level by 1.5 m from FRL of 878.5 m results in shortage of 122.05 million cubic feet (mcft) of water, which is 19 per cent of the total storage. This creates difficulties in catering to the needs of Coimbatore city in summer months. The Siruvani dam, built across the Siruvani river, a tributary of Bhavani river, is in Palakkad district of Kerala.

– However, keeping the dam water level at FRL during monsoon is hazardous and could lead to avoidable flood disasters in the downstream areas. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/maintain-full-reservoir-level-of-siruvani-dam-tamil-nadu-cm-stalin-tells-kerala-counterpart-vijayan-101655665361257.html  (20 June 2022)

Telangana Oustees of Gauravelli reservoir on warpath Gudatipally village in Siddipet district is on the boil as people whose lands were acquired for building a reservoir are on the warpath demanding fair compensation. The village and its surroundings have been witnessing protests, arrests and police lathicharge for the last 3 days. The entry of opposition parties Congress and the BJP in support of the oustees has turned Gauravelli reservoir into a flashpoint. https://www.telugu360.com/why-are-oustees-of-gauravelli-reservoir-project-in-telangana-on-the-warpath/  (15 June 2022)

How Dam affected are treated in Telangana. That has what happened in case of irrigation projects in Siddipet district, the native of CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao and also being represented by him as well as Finance and Health Minister T. Harish Rao. Heavy police force with head gears and lathis swooped down on Gudatipally village in Akkannapet mandal of Siddipet district in the wee hours of Monday (June 13 2022), switched off power supply and arrested several persons who are reportedly obstructing conduct of a survey to release water to Gouravelli reservoir for the dry run of motors. Officials say that the villagers have been obstructing officials from conducting the survey for the past one week and they were forced to send the force. Villagers claim that about 100 people were taken into custody by the police. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/oustees-at-receiving-end-always/article65526715.ece  (14 June 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Report Monsoon cycles can be adversely affected by river-linking Speaking on the topic, Manoj Misra, convenor of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, told news agency PTI, “When water of a river is diverted and it merges in sea, it takes all its sediments with it to the sea. It is a hypothesis that the kind of inter-linking we have planned is that for all we know the monsoonal systems may get impacted.”

Adding to this, Himanshu Thakkar, of SANDRP, said, “Sea’s thermal and salinity gradient are two drivers of monsoon which can get disturbed by river-linking projects.” “By river-linking, you are stopping flow of fresh water to sea and the salinity gradient is also reduced and the silt component which creates the Gangetic plain is also impacted. So that creates a different dynamic and all these are drivers of monsoon. So when you are disturbing these factors driving monsoon you are disrupting the monsoon season,” he said. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/monsoon-cycles-can-be-adversely-affected-by-river-linking-projects-here-s-how-11655201952352.html  (14 June 2022)

Thousands of people gathered to protest the project on Tuesday. Credit: DH Photo

Karnataka Bedti-Varada river link plan triggers fears of eco destruction The Bedti Varada River linking proposal has been met with strong opposition as it will destroy 2125 acres of forests in Western Ghats and not 600 acres as mentioned in DPR prepared by NWDA recently. The state govt is trying to revive the old project. Thousands of people gathered on June 14 2022 to protest the project. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/bedti-varada-river-link-plan-triggers-fears-of-eco-destruction-1118184.html  (14 June 2022)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Jharkhand Lost Water attempts to bring out the on-ground narratives from the under-construction multi-modal inland waterways terminal in Sahibganj and a thermal power plant in Godda (both in Jharkhand) being set up by Adani Power Corporation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQwe5r4aBkI  (18 June 2022)

Kerala Govt plans to prepare master plan for West Coast Canal project The development of the West Coast Canal, the second-longest man-made inland waterway in Asia, is expected to generate tremendous economic and employment opportunities along the entire 616km long waterway from Kovalam to Bekal. It further said that, out of all 13 reaches, the preparation of a master plan of two reaches — 60 km long waterway between Akkulam and Kollam and 30 km long waterway between Kadalundy and Kallai River — have been assigned to HLL Infratech Services Ltd, and the work has already commenced. The remaining reaches also will be entrusted to eligible consultants soon.

The approximate cost of the entire waterway project is around Rs 6,500 crores and has been submitted to KIIFB for approval. Till now, KIIFB has approved Rs 2,451.24 crore including the development of the Kovalam-Akkulam stretch of WCC and the ‘Kozhikode Canal City’ project. KWIL was commissioned in 2017 to facilitate the development of an Inland Waterway from Kovalam to Bekal. Earlier, it was proposed to commence the project by 2025 in three phases. However, due to several reasons, it was postponed. As per the reports, the first phase will be completed by 2023-2024, while the second and third phases are expected to be complete in 2024-25 and 2025-26 respectively. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2022/jun/14/kerala-governmentplans-to-prepare-master-plan-for-west-coast-canal-project-2465268.html  (14 June 2022)

IRRIGATION

Telangana 1.52 lakh cr spent on irrigation projects in 8 years Govt has spent over Rs 1.52 lakh crore during the past eight years on various irrigation projects. The State govt has completed Kalwakurthy, Nettampadu, Koil Sagar, Yellampalli, Mid Manair and Devadula projects, and as a result over 16 lakh acres of land were brought under irrigation, the release said. Dindi and Gattu lift irrigation and Chanaka project works are being expedited while modernisation of Nagarjuna Sagar, Nizam Sagar and Shriram Sagar was on, it further said. Over 70 per cent of the works pertaining to Palmuru-Rangareddy Project is being executed at an investment outlay of over Rs 35,000 crore. The project would provide water for irrigation of 12.30 lakh acres, the release said. https://www.siasat.com/1-52-lakh-cr-spent-on-irrigation-projects-in-8-years-telangana-govt-2351067/  (17 June 2022)

Tamil Nadu 5 years on, farmers still await water diversion project completion Farmers in Morappur and Harur urged the Dharmapuri district administration and the government to hasten works for the proposed Echambadi project to divert water to 66 lakes in the area. A few years ago, the State had proposed the Echambadi irrigation project to divert excess water stored in the dam to 66 lakes in Harur, Morappur, and Kambainallur area. The previous government had also announced that Rs 300 crores will be sanction for the project. However, since announcement, no works have been undertaken, sources said. Hence farmers urged the Dharmapuri administration and the Tamil Nadu government to hasten the implementation of the project. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jun/13/five-years-on-farmers-still-await-water-diversion-project-completion-in-tamil-nadus-echambadi-2465024.html  (13 June 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Urban Rivers: Top Ten Positive Stories from India The plight of urban rivers in India has been going from bad to worse courtesy systematic neglect and unplanned development projects. On the one hand they are being increasingly deprived of freshwater flows by diverting water for domestic supplies and on the other have been turned into dumping place for mostly untreated solid and liquid waste in massive amounts from residential areas as well as industrial pockets.

Nevertheless, there are some remarkable efforts being undertaken by individuals, organizations, government departments aiming at restoration of urban rivers at some places across the country. This compilation highlights top ten such positive urban river stories taking place during past one year. https://sandrp.in/2022/06/19/urban-rivers-top-ten-positive-stories-from-india/  (19 June 2022)

RIVERS

BRAHMAPUTRA Reflections From A River Sanjoy Hazarika: A traveller returns to the Brahmaputra to traverse seven districts, travelling over 1,000 km, on roads and on the river, to write about this riverine ecosystem.

– Parliamentarian and writer Hem Barua had titled his classic 1954 book on his home state “The Red River and the Blue Hill”, but I think “The Muddy River”, P.A. Krishnan’s title for his novel about power, corruption, insurgency, kidnapping and extortion during the 1990s, is a more appropriate description, as it reflects the many issues on, in, and around the river and the valley through which it runs. https://www.indiaspend.com/river-reflections/returning-to-the-brahmaputra-riverine-ecosystem-822488  (18 June 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir ‘Jhelum water level at all-time low’ Figures show that Jammu and Kashmir recorded a rainfall deficit of 38 percent in the last five months of 2022. The UT has received only 345.4mm of rainfall between January 1st and May 31st against normal rainfall of 559.2mm. Further, data showed that the march of 2022, which is considered to be the wettest month in terms of rainfall, was almost 10 degrees warmer compared to the previous years. Similarly, April too witnessed above-normal temperatures.

“In April, Jhelum, nallahs, and springs witnessed a considerable decrease in water levels. By May-end, some small nallahs had dried up completely. Jhelum too reached its all-time lowest figure for this time of the season. Such low water levels used to reach only in autumn. Only good rainfall in the summer and autumn seasons can help the conditions from getting worse,” Faizan Arif, owner of channel ‘Kashmir Weather’ said. https://www.thekashmirmonitor.net/jhelum-water-level-at-all-time-low-jk-records-38-rainfall-deficit-this-year-so-far/  (17 June 2022)

GANGA Invasive freshwater fish thriving Regional climate model studies in the Ganges river basin predict an increase in the mean annual temperature by 1 to 4 degrees Celsius between 2010 and 2050. This steep incline could potentially open up newer parts of the Ganges river to non-native species such as the common carp, tilapia and African catfish, allowing them to occupy waters previously uninhabited by them. These freshwater species are cultured in water bodies globally, despite being documented as invasive, with farmers and stakeholders prioritising short-term profits over impacts on the ecosystem. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/invasive-freshwater-fish-are-thriving-in-the-ganges-aided-by-increasing-temperatures/  (06 June 2022)

Bihar Great to see Ruchi Shree talking about Bihar’s Rivers and river conservation in this 30 minutes discussion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S4C6qTvap8  (15 June 2022)

YAMUNA Haryana NGT forms panel to verify pollution Taking note of pollution-related problems of a village in Yamunanagar district, the NGT has constituted a joint committee to verify the factual position of the grievances. In his letter, the petitioner had said that there were about 25 plywood industries and five brick-kilns which were being run in Damla village. He said pollution control systems had not been installed in the said industries which were discharging untreated effluents and emitting flyash and smoke, causing air pollution and contamination of groundwater.

The petitioner said the Municipal Corporation, Yamunanagar-Jagadhri, had started dumping municipal solid waste in the vicinity of the village, causing serious environmental problems in the area. He added that there was a drain running alongside their village wherein industries were discharging untreated waste water, which finally went to the Yamuna. In the case, the next date for hearing has been fixed for August 22. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/ngt-forms-joint-panel-to-verify-pollution-in-yamunanagar-village-402164  (09 June 2022)

Delhi Severe water shortage Delhi has been facing a severe water shortage this summer, with water levels depleting in the Yamuna. The DJB relies on the Yamuna for roughly 40% of the water it supplies. Delhi’s share of Yamuna water comes from Haryana, which lies upstream. With the river’s water level dwindling this year, it has been difficult for water treatment plants in Delhi to draw raw water, and meet the demand. With northwest India having recorded an unduly warm summer and a deficit in rainfall over the past few months, the parts of the river bed of the Yamuna are visible as it runs through Delhi. The deficit in rainfall over northwest India from March to May this year is 63%, and northwest India also recorded its hottest March and April in 122 years. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-why-is-delhi-battling-severe-water-shortage-7969193/  (14 June 2022)

As the Yamuna level has dropped drastically, both the ecology and sustenance of people relying on the river for livelihood has been threatened. Delhi University geologist professor Shashank Shekhar said when the river rises, groundwater gets recharged. “Yamuna has a flow of 13 billion cubic metres, nine billion of which is diverted to canals. At Hathnikund barrage, there is hardly any water left. At Delhi-Haryana border, Munak canal feeds the river. The desired environmental flow in Yamuna should be at least 50% of the total flow available in any season. However, states sharing Yamuna water have agreed to maintain a flow of 10 cubic metres per second or 0.86 million cubic metres per day, which is not even in tune with the desired minimum environmental flow,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/as-a-river-runs-shallow-it-squeezes-livelihoods-dry-leaves-delhi-parched/articleshow/92190072.cms  (14 June 2022)

In open violation of NGT order, DDA has again allowed dumping of over 30 trucks construction malba in Yamuna floodplain near CWG Village. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1537022566476357633?s=20&t=mkzD7btmYhdA0CFh5TT9oA  (140622 Video)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Himachal Pradesh Fishing ban in Pong Dam for two months from June 16 to Aug 15 for fish breeding season. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/breeding-season-on-fishing-in-pong-banned-404520  (17 June 2022)

SAND MINING

Himachal Pradesh Great to see villagers in Palampur stopping illegal mining Residents of Garder village of Thural area forced a contractor to stop “illegal mining” in Neugal river. The contractor has been engaged by the IPH Department to construct water tanks for lifting drinking water from the Neugal river for a water supply project. The residents alleged that the contractor had been digging the riverbed using heavy machinery to extract stone and sand to be used in the construction work. On Friday (June 17) evening, a number of villagers reached the spot and forced the contractor to stop the work. They asked him to remove the heavy machinery from the river. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/palampur-residents-force-contractor-to-stop-illegal-mining-in-neugal-river-404841  (18 June 2022)

Help tame mining mafia in Kangra, Modi urged Several environment groups today appealed to PM Narendra Modi, who is in Dharamsala, to save rivers and rivulets of the Kangra valley from the mining mafia. KB Ralhan, Subhash Sharma, Ashwani Gautam and Varun Bhuria, all representatives of different environment protection organisations of Kangra, told mediapersons that during a visit to the state three years ago, the PM had promised to rid Himachal of the mining mafia, which was causing immense revenue losses and spoiling the environment. However in the past four years, the mining mafia had flourished and rivers such as the Beas, Neugal, Baner, Binwa, and Mandh and the Mol khud had been badly affected. Deep trenches made with the help of heavy machinery could be seen on the riverbeds, as illegal mining continues with impunity.

In a representation forwarded to the PMO, they requested the Prime Minister that the Neugal river, which is considered the lifeline of over 100 villages of the Palampur region, had become a victim of illegal mining. The river also feeds dozens of drinking water and irrigation supply schemes in Palampur and Thural divisions of the Irrigation and Public Health Department. Palampur, Maranda, Bhawarna, Sulaha, and Daroh areas also get drinking water from the Neugal. “Large-scale illegal mining going on below the Paror bridge up to Bair Ghatta is a matter of concern. To date, the state agencies have not been able to check illegal mining, which causes huge revenue losses to the state exchequer and damages the environment,” they added. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/help-tame-mining-mafia-modi-urged-404504  (17 June 2022)

Despite the fact that there is a complete ban on mining and quarrying in the Neugal, the practice is rampant in the river. The state government has stayed the allotment of the mining lease on the directions of the NGT, but large-scale illegal mining and quarrying is still going on unchecked in the Naun, Bairghatta Dhook, Dhaniara, Lahar and Umri areas of Thural tehsil. The government had auctioned sites in Dhook, Dhaniara and Lahar areas in January 2019. The mining lease has been granted only on one site. On the second site, illegal mining is going on in the absence of any check from the mining authorities. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/despite-ban-illegal-mining-rampant-in-neugal-river-402230  (09 June 2022)

Cops told not to allow illegal mining Officials of the state government have visited the illegal mining sites in the Neugal where a bridge on the river near Sadwan (Thural ) has been damaged. The Tribune carried a news item in these columns which put the entire official machinery on tenterhooks.

The large-scale unscientific mining has posed a threat to the bridge. The illegal mining with the help of a JCB machine and Poklane has eroded the foundation of the bridge and damaged the outer protection wall of one of the pillars. However, though the mining activities in the river have come to a standstill, illegal roads constructed to reach the riverbed are yet to be dismantled. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/cops-told-not-to-allow-illegal-mining-391554  (04 May 2022)

The outer wall of a pillar of the bridge has developed cracks because of mining. Photo by writer/The Tribune

Large-scale illegal mining near Thural has endangered a bridge over the Neugal river linking 50 villages of the area with Thural. Illegal mining is going on close to the bridge, which has become a matter of concern. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/illegal-mining-bridge-over-neugal-river-linking-50-villages-with-thural-endangered-390250  (29 April 2022)

The local administration, along with police and Mining Department officials has dismantled a road constructed by the mining mafia leading to an illegal mining site in the Neugal river near Thural, 30 km from here. The Tribune had carried a news article in these columns recently, highlighting the large-scale illegal mining going on in the Neugal, which had also damaged a bridge on the Palampur-Hamirpur highway. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/road-leading-to-illegal-mining-site-at-neugal-river-near-thural-dismantled-366890  (04 Feb. 2022)

Maharashtra Good to see production of sand from Steel factory waste slag. https://janjwar.com/environment/fand-crush-news-sand-substitute-found-fand-crush-an-alternative-to-sand-discovered-in-maharashtras-jalna-is-also-better-for-the-environment-aaj-ki-taja-khabar-latest-news-in-hindi-aaj-ki-taza-khabar-14-june-news-top-10-today-news-822005  (14 June 2022)

While steel factories at the Cuncolim industrial estate (CIE) are exploring ways to shift tonnes of steel slag waste dumped at the estate, one factory at CIE has recently got all the required permissions from authorities, including Goa state pollution control board (GSPCB), to a proposal which will convert its slag into sand.

The factory, Puja Ferro Alloys Pvt Ltd, has also set up a steel slag sand mill known as Hammer Mill which will provide an alternative to natural sand. It will be converting its ferro alloy slag lying at the estate into sand. This development assumes significance given that there is a ban on the extraction of sand in India which has resulted in shortage of sand in Goa leading to rising costs. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/cuncolim-steel-factory-gets-green-signal-to-convert-slag-into-sand/articleshow/44528280.cms  (07 Oct. 2014)

Kerala College girl assaulted, threatened for filming illegal A college girl who filmed illegal sand mining near her home in Muvattupuzha faced the wrath of land mafia. Akshaya, a degree student of Nirmala College, was allegedly beaten and threatened by Ansari for filming illegal sand mining in Marady. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/college-girl-assaulted-threatened-for-filming-illegal-sand-mining-near-her-home-1.7613521  (17 June 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Kerala Satellite imagery detects water hyacinth infestation in Kuttanad A novel study involving researchers in India and the United Kingdom has succeeded in using satellite images to detect water hyacinth, an invasive aquatic weed, in Vembanad Lake in Kuttanad. The results of the study show significantly greater positive detection ratings compared to more traditional detectors.

The researchers say they have shown for the first time that SAR could be used to detect water hyacinth in the lake with a high level of accuracy. They also prepared a heatmap, a first of its kind, showing the water hyacinth presence/coverage over a two-year time frame, which could be used to aid the weed management practices within the area. The team collected satellite images of an area near the Thanneermukkam Bund in Vembanad Lake for a period between January 2019 and April 2020 and studied the spread of water hyacinth.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/satellite-imagery-detects-water-hyacinth-infestation-in-kuttanad/article65537153.ece   (17 June 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Report Prof awarded for making water arsenic free Prof. Thalappil Pradeep of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras has been named the 10th laureate of the coveted ‘Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water’ (PSIPW). He was chosen for the Award in the category of ‘Creativity Prize,’ which is presented for a ‘breakthrough discovery’ in any discipline involving water. Prof. T. Pradeep’s research group created ecologically friendly ‘water positive’ nanoscale materials for the removal of arsenic from drinking water that is inexpensive, long-lasting, and quick. Prof. Pradeep has received numerous awards, including the Padma Shri and the Nikkei Asia Prize, and his inventions have provided clean water to over 1.2 million people. https://www.freepressjournal.in/education/iit-madras-professor-wins-international-prize-for-water  (13 June 2022)

Noida Admin digs up 40 pits to harvest rainwater Noida administration is digging 40 new rainwater harvesting pits to help replenish the city’s depleting groundwater levels, officials said on Monday, adding that these will be ready before monsoon. Currently, there are 45 harvesting systems installed in parks and green belts, out of which about 30 are operational and 15, defective. According to officials, around 45% of the city’s water needs are met by groundwater, and levels have fallen rapidly over the past few years. Authorities supply 240 MLD of water daily, but the demand is that of 332 MLD. To address this gap, the Noida Authority is planning to provide an additional 90 MLD of water from Ganga river to the city by the end of this year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/as-monsoon-nears-noida-digs-up-40-pits-to-harvest-rainwater/articleshow/92190846.cms  (14 June 2022)

Delhi 258 MCD parks with defunct borewells to be used as gw recharge zones Welcome, though this could have happened long back. Many more recharge wells can be constructed. “We are identifying parks where groundwater has gone down, and borewells are lying defunct. We will create recharge zones in the form of 5-6 ft deep pits to capture runoff water from the catchment areas of these parks,” a senior official from horticulture department said. Each pit will be filled with natural filtering mediums such as pebbles and charcoal to ensure that water is cleaned before reaching the ground through the borewells,” said a department official who asked not to be named.

He added that a detailed report about the recharge zones is being submitted to the LG office. Delhi has more than 16,000 parks that are spread across 8,000 hectares, and several other open spaces where storm water harvesting can be implemented with a potential of harvesting 12,800 million litres of rainwater every year, the CSE report said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/mcd-parks-with-defunct-borewells-to-be-used-as-ground-water-recharge-zones-101655403683940.html  (17 June 2022)

Bengaluru Malls can now tap into a supply of treated sewage water Bengaluru-based company Boson Whitewater has launched an on-demand supply of treated sewage water to malls and industries across the city.  Boson is a water utility company which converts STP water into high-quality potable water. It has partnered with Tankerwala, an app that allows customers to book water tankers on-demand, to supply Whitewater to malls, industries and any other commercial operations which might require such treated water across Bengaluru.

Boson claims what sets its whitewater apart is that it goes one step further and makes the STP water drinkable quality which is used by the industries for processing, says Vikas Brahmavar, Founder and CEO, of Boson Whitewater System. The benefit is that the industries will not have to add extra chemicals to soften the water, instead, it can be used directly, he adds.The company charges between 14 to 18 paisa per litre for the service depending on the scale of demand. Currently, the company is in talks with 11 apartments and aims to install 10 systems across the city before December, which would help them to save up to 75 crore litres of water annually. By 2025 it aims to save up to 500 crore litres for which it will install 75 systems. The company also intends to expand to Hyderabad and Chennai in the near future. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/bengaluru-malls-can-now-tap-into-a-supply-of-treated-sewage-water/article65524121.ece  (13 June 2022)

Meeting water needs through RWH For 28 years, A R Shivakumar and his family have met all their water needs completely with rainwater. When Shivakumar studied rainfall data from the IMD he realised Bengaluru received enough rain to make this very feasible. “Rainwater harvesting is a very simple process. We have our house, our roof, and a drain water pipe built into every house. What we have done – at the end of the pipe, we have fixed a filter which I have developed. A good filter is basically to separate dust, bird droppings, and leaf litter. Clean water should go into your sump. That is all,” he said.

Mr. Shivakumar said, “Bengaluru receives nearly 900 mm plus, nearly 40 inches of rainfall every year. For a 60×40 plot, it translates into 2,23,000 litres of water in a year. Then I calculated how much water we require for the whole year. It was 1,50,000, I thought if we harvest this water we will have water for the whole year. And the longest gap between two good showers of rain that we can harvest is only 100 days. So if we have water stored for 100 days, then throughout the year we can manage.” https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/only-rainwater-used-in-this-bengaluru-house-3031980  (13 June 2022)

Raj Viraat Sharma on FB post comment:- Mr. Shivakumar is wrong. He is assuming there is no Evaporation at all in Bengaluru. Out of 2,23,000, even if he assumes a conservative figure of 50% Evaporation, the total quantity will be 1,11,000 liters which is less than what he requires.

Beyond evaporation, one cannot assume all the rainwater can be harvested because there are always some losses apart from Evaporation. Further, what will he do if the average annual rainfall in a year plummets to 600 mm as has happened several years in the past!. So, Mr. Shivakumar should stop bluffing and misleading innocent people.

I humbly request that SANDRP should question and ascertain such “claims” made out across the length and breadth of the country instead of blindly giving publicity. Thanks.

SANDRP RESPONSE: We agree with Mr Raj Viraat Sharma that the estimates to be more accurate taking into account all factors including evaporation losses among others. However, it is not always possible to add such corrections with each news report. However, we welcome readers like Mr Sharma to keep making such useful comments.

GROUNDWATER

Punjab GW level to drop below 300 m by 2039 NGT monitoring committee announced recently that Punjab’s groundwater will drop below 300 metres by the year 2039. Punjab’s central and southern districts, such as Barnala, Bathinda, Fatehgarh Sahib, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Moga, SAS Nagar, Pathankot, Patiala and Sangrur, are among the most affected as the average yearly rate of fall of groundwater levels works out to be approximately 0.49 metre per year. While agriculture experts and environmentalists suggest phasing out the paddy crop, as one of the main solutions for the groundwater crisis, farmers expect assured purchase of the alternative crops planted as a replacement for paddy. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/accelerating-rate-of-groundwater-depletion-in-punjab-worries-farmers-and-experts/  (14 June 2022)

विश्व जल दिवस 2022 के मौके पर 21 मार्च को जारी यूनाइटेड नेशंस वर्ल्ड वाटर डेवलपमेंट रिपोर्ट 2022 में भूजल के इस्तेमाल के लिए एक टिकाऊ मॉडल बनाने की वकालत की गई, ताकि भूजल का इस्तेमाल एक तय सीमा में हो। इस रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक भूजल की सबसे ज्यादा निकासी करने वाले 10 देशों में एशिया के आठ देश शामिल हैं। और सबसे ऊपर भारत का नंबर है। यानी भारत सबसे अधिक भूजल पर निर्भर है। कुल भूजल खपत में 75 फीसदी हिस्सेदारी इन 10 देशों की है। सूची में एशिया से भारत, चीन, पाकिस्तान, ईरान, इंडोनेशिया, बांग्लादेश, सऊदी अरब और तुर्की शामिल हैं। जबकि अमेरिका और मेक्सिको भी अत्यधिक भूजल दोहन करने वाले देश हैं। भारत में सालाना लगभग 251 घन किलोमीटर भूजल की निकासी की जाती है, जबकि अमेरिका 111.7 घन किमी प्रति वर्ष, चीन 112 घन किमी प्रति वर्ष और पाकिस्तान 64.8 घन किमी प्रति वर्ष भूजल निकालता है। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/water/ground-water/Cover-Story-Groundwater-is-moving-towards-extinction-83070  (17 June 2022)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Bhattarahalli lake restoration work at sea Spread in over 18 acres, Bhattarahalli lake in Mahadevapura zone is one of the smallest lakes in KR Puram, Bengaluru on which the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has spent more than four years to restore it. But even today neither the walkway nor the fencing work has been done.

Nagaraju A, a volunteer who planted the saplings, also complained about the drunkards and called for a protection wall and a walkway. (Express photo by Jithendra M)

The custody of the lake was handed over to BBMP from Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) in 2015. The civic body took up the restoration of the lake three years later and continues to sit on it. The STP attached to the lake also had some issues and it was fixed only recently. Hundreds of dead fish mysteriously washed up on the edge of the lake on May 31. A BBMP engineer who inspected the lake after the incident ruled out sewage entry into the lake and said the water being discharged from the STP is up to the mark. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-four-years-on-kr-purams-bhattarahalli-lake-restoration-work-at-sea-7965102/  (12 June 2022)

BBMP ignores its own guidelines BBMP has its own set of guidelines on how to ensure effective drainage of rainwater from roads. In reality, however, whether those guidelines are being followed can be a hit or miss across the city. Residents also play their part by encroaching on roads and drains and dumping garbage in drains. https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/managing-drains-how-bbmp-ignores-its-own-guidelines-82930  (20 June 2022)

Coimbatore CCMC to procure robotic weed remover With the Tamil Nadu tourism board set to introduce boat rides in the Valankulam lake, the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) has begun clearing excess hyacinth using earthmovers there. For this, the civic body is also checking the feasibility to procure a robotic weed remover, CCMC Deputy Commissioner Dr M Sharmila told The New Indian Express.  The CCMC has been carrying out beautification and developmental works in several water bodies in the city, including the Periyakulam lake, Selvachinthamani lake and Kurichi lake, for a few years under the Smart City Project mission. As part of this, the CCMC had planned to introduce boat rides and water sports like jet skis in the revamped Valakulam and Periyakulam lakes.

While the boat rides and water sports project in the Periyakulam tank will be implemented and maintained by the CCMC, the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), that has already implemented boat rides in many places including Ooty and Kodaikanal will be handling the same operations in the Valankulam on a revenue-sharing basis. The TTDC will share 30 per cent of its revenue with the CCMC. Meanwhile, CCMC will generate revenue by renting out the shops on the shores of both water bodies. CCMC officials said the ticket prices will be finalised only after the council’s approval. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jun/13/coimbatore-municipal-body-to-procure-robotic-weed-remover-for-clearing-hyacinth-in-water-bodies-2465023.html  (13 June 2022)

Mumbai How changes in central rules for GW affecting Mumbaikars In September 2020, the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) under the union government’s Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation introduced new guidelines for bulk water suppliers – chiefly applicable to tanker water suppliers.  This led to chaos in Mumbai as the city depends on groundwater sourced by water tankers to meet its supplementary, commercial and industrial needs. The tanker water suppliers went on a strike between May 9-13 to protest these restrictions. The strike was called off after the state government assured the tanker water suppliers that it would take up the issue with the Centre. https://mumbai.citizenmatters.in/central-groundwater-authority-extraction-guidelines-mumbai-33069  (14 June 2022)

नागपुर 15 साल में शहर में दो तालाबों का अस्तित्व समाप्त हो गया है। अब शहर में केवल 11 तालाब बचे हैं। इसमें भोसलेकालीन के 4 तालाब भी शामिल हैं। https://www.bhaskarhindi.com/state/news/11-ponds-left-in-nagpur-city-two-finished-379322  (17 June 2022)

Shimla Residents question distribution Residents have started questioning the distribution system of Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam Limited (SJPNL). SJPNL is still pumping out around 35 million litre per day. Many people feel it’s enough to give adequate water to the entire city on alternate days, but several areas are getting water on the fourth day. “Even if we assume there are 3.5 lakh people in the city, every individual can be given 100 litre per day with 35 million litre. So how’s SJPNL not able to provide water in every part of the city even on alternate days?” asked former Mayor Sanjay Chauhan. The SJPNL, however, maintains that the actual water that reaches consumers is much less than the amount of water pumped every day. “There’s a leakage of around 15-20 per cent in distribution and there are unidentified connections as well. So, we can’t make simple calculations,” said SJPNL General Manager RK Verma. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/shimla-water-crisis-deepens-residents-question-distribution-403718  (14 June 2022)

Lucknow Permanently disappearing aquifers A recent study reveals that unsustainable urbanisation is driving intense groundwater depletion in Lucknow. As the city’s population continues to rise (62% from 2001 to 2020), the immense pressure on irretrievable aquifers, accompanied by heavy land use, will adversely impact water security and land subsidence rates in the years to follow. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/lucknow-a-case-study-for-permanently-disappearing-aquifers-in-north-india/  (16 June 2022)

WATER

Gujarat SSP: Over 17k works completed during fifth edition: Govt The fifth edition of Sujalam Suflam Jal Abhiyan (SSJA) initiative of the Gujarat government concluded on June 7 in which 17,812 works were completed increasing the water storage capacity of the state by 24,418 lakh cubic feet. The campaign was launched by Gujarat government in 2018 with an intention to bring up – ground water level and increase storage capacity of water bodies. The campaign is carried out by the state before monsoon since 2018 in which works are being undertaken to deepen village ponds, desilting check dams, repairing check dams, maintaining and cleaning of canals etc. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/gandhinagar/sujalam-suflam-project-over-17k-works-completed-during-fifth-edition-govt-7979074/  (20 June 2022)

FLOOD 2022

42 Dead In Assam, Meghalaya Floods Thirty-one people have died in floods and landslides in Assam and Meghalaya in the last two days including 12 in Assam and 19 in Meghalaya. Some 19 lakh people in 28 Assam districts are affected, while one lakh are in relief camps. Tripura’s capital Agartala also reported a massive flash flood. The city received 145 mm rainfall in just six hours. Meghalaya’s Mawsynram and Cherrapunji received record rainfall since 1940, officials said. Government sources said this was the third-highest rainfall in Agartala in the last 60 years. In Arunachal Pradesh, under construction Lower Subansiri Dam is submerged. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/31-dead-in-assam-meghalaya-floods-agartala-highest-rainfall-in-60-years-3078257  (18 June 2022)

The flood situation has become critical in Bajali after Bhutan released water from Kurichhu dam. In Bajali, two people reportedly died and two persons were missing, authorities said on Saturday (June 18, 2022), warning that the situation could worsen. The water levels of the Kaldia and Pahumara rivers have been increasing and many parts of the district have been inundated and Bajali district administration is working to rescue people from the flood-affected areas. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/assam-news/flood-situation-in-bajali-turns-critical-after-bhutan-releases-water-597942  (19 June 2022)

Within a Month, Second Spell Submerges Half of Assam The continuous rains for the last few days in Assam, Meghalaya and upstream Bhutan, coupled with the opening of gates of the dams in a few hydroelectric projects, have caused the current disaster. This time from the middle to the west lower Assam, on both south and north banks of the Brahmaputra have been underwater for two days now. Situations in many places are tense as tributaries, rivers, and streams are gushing above the danger line; many places have witnessed breaching of the embankments by the rivers and also breaching of the rivers by the banks, inundating huge swathes of land, submerging houses, grain stocks, paddies and livestock. https://www.newsclick.in/Assam-Flood-Within-Month-Second-Spell-Submerges-Half-State  (17 June 2022)

Floods and resultant landslides in Assam have claimed 62 lives this year so far. In the last 24 hours, eight people have died after drowning in flood waters – two each in Barpeta and Karimganj districts, one each in Darrang, Hailakandi, Nalbari and Sonitpur districts and eight people are still missing. https://sahu.news/2022/06/19/assam-floods-landslides-claim-62-lives-so-far-nearly-31-lakh-affected-across-32-districts/  (19 June 2022)

Assam Almost after a month, Kopili river at Kampur level forecast site in Nagaon district has again breached previous HFL (61.79 m attained on 20.07.2004) at 16:00 hrs on 16.06.2022 and flowing in extreme flood situation with rising trend. The river has crossed the HFL on 15.05.2022 at 16:00 hrs setting new HFL 62.17 m on 18.05.2022 at 20:00 hrs and stayed in extreme flood situation for 143 hrs. Surprisingly, CWC has not upgraded May 2022 HFL record so far. https://sandrp.in/2022/06/01/assam-kopili-river-flows-above-kampur-hfl-for-6-days-in-pre-monsoon-season/

River Kopili at Kampur Level Forecast site in Nagaon district continues to be in EXTREME FLOOD SITUATION for past 89 hours. The old HFL (61.79 m dated 20.07.2004) was breached at 16:00 hours on June 16, 2022 attaining new HFL 62.2 m at 14:00 hours on June 18, 2022 and flood levels (62.1 m at 21:00 hours on June 19, 2022) are still above the old HFL. Interestingly, the river at the site had breached HFL on May 15, 2022 also flowing in extreme flood situation for about 149 hours.

River Kopili at Kheronighat level monitoring site in Karbi Analong district has breached old HFL (74.7 m dated 19.07.2004) twice on June 16 & 17 setting new HFL 74.92 m at 01:00 hrs on 17.06.2022. New HFL is 0.22 m higher than old HFL. The river remained in extreme flood situation for about 20 hrs.

1 River Kopili at Kheronighat level monitoring site in Karbi Anglong district has crossed previous HFL 74.7 m attained on 19.07.2004 and flowing in extreme flood situation with rising trend.

2 River Suklai at Suklai level monitoring site in Baksa district has touched the HFL (75.85 m dated 25.06.2020) at 16 hours on 16.06.2022. The water level is declining at the site now.

Arunachal Pradesh Dikrong river at Doimukh level monitoring site in Papum Pare district has breached old HFL (120.7 m dated 26.08.2021) twice on June 16 & 17 setting up new HFL 121.08 m at 12:00 hrs on 17.06.2022 which is 0.38 m higher than old HFL. The river remained in extreme flood situation for about 46 hrs.

River Dikrong at Doimukh level monitoring site in Papum Pare district has breached previous HFL 120.7 m dated 26.08.2021 setting new HFL 120.87 m at 12:00 hrs on 16.06.2022. New HFL is 0.17 m higher than previous HFL. The river stayed in extreme flood situation at the site for about 11 hours.

URBAN FLOODS

Coimbatore CCMC intensifies desilting stormwater drains In view of the southwest monsoon, CCMC workers have intensified desilting the stormwater drains and canals across the city to avoid inundation of streets and houses. As several houses and roads across the city were affected by the floods due to heavy rains last year, the council members had urged the civic body to take necessary measures to prevent the same mistake.

Desilting works of stormwater drains is carried in Coimbatore. (Photo| EPS)

In this situation, the CCMC workers had begun desilting the drainages and canals in many wards, even using earthmovers in Manikaranpalayam. However, the workers who remove the clog and silt from the drainages, allegedly leave them at the side of the road, which has concerned the motorists and residents. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jun/13/coimbatore-municipal-bodyintensifies-desilting-stormwater-drains-ahead-of-southwest-monsoon-2465022.html  (13 June 2022)

SUMMER 2022

North India’s hills are feeling the heat too, but differently India recorded the hottest March in 122 years and since then, there has been hardly any relief from heatwave conditions. To seek relief from severe heat, tens of thousands of tourists either visited or are going to the hill stations in northern India, causing massive traffic jams.

The rush of tourists from plains to hills has highlighted environmental issues plaguing the fragile Himalayas ecosystem such as water shortage and plastic pollution. Experts say that tourism beyond the carrying capacity of such ecologically sensitive regions could cause irreversibly harm to the fragile ecosystem of these areas. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/05/north-indias-hills-are-feeling-the-heat-too-but-differently/  (27 May 2022)

उत्तराखंड गर्मियों के मौसम में कई जगह पर्वतीय क्षेत्र धुंध भरी चादर में लिपटे हैं। देहरादून के विकासनगर पर्वतीय क्षेत्र में इस तरह की धुंध गौर की जा रही है। विशेषज्ञों का मानना है कि चारधाम से लेकर सुदूर पहाड़ों तक पर्यटक वाहनों की आवाजाही बढती जा रही है। इन वाहनों से निकलने वाला धुंआ पहाड़ों के वातावरण में फंस गया है और एक सूखी धुंध का निर्माण हुआ है। जीबी पंत राष्ट्रीय हिमालय पर्यावरण संस्थान के वैज्ञानिक इसे वातावरण में बढ़ता ब्लैक कार्बन बता रहे हैं। इस पर अध्ययन जारी है।   https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/pollution/air-pollution/uttarakhand-mountains-wrapped-in-a-sheet-of-haze-with-pollution-the-ever-increasing-number-of-vehicles-increased-the-trouble-83269  (13 June 2022)

There is a need to pre-empt the disastrous effects of unregulated tourism and learn lessons from the over-exploited tourist destinations in the Himalayan region, a new report highlighted. Demand for tourism has increased pressure on hill stations and is becoming a major concern for change in land use and land cover, the report by Govind Ballabh Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment in Kosi-Katarmal, Almora said. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/urbanisation/too-many-tourists-in-himalayas-new-report-presses-for-pre-empting-disasters-83354  (20 June 2022)

LANDSLIDES

Meghalaya Landslide disrupt road connectivity Uncertainty over transportation of essential commodities to Tripura is looming large, as landslides in Meghalaya’s Lumshnong, washed off a portion of NH 6 that connects South Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram with the rest of the country. A top official of the Tripura food department said, “We don’t know how long the movement of trucks will remain prohibited through the road. Any long-term disruption in transport may result in crisis of essential commodities in the state markets.” “However, if the road is restored within some days, there will be no harsh impact,” the official added. https://nenow.in/north-east-news/tripura/tripura-food-crisis-landslides-meghalaya-road-connectivity.html  (16 June 2022)

The state governments of Tripura and Mizoram have approached the ministry of external affairs (MEA) for approval to ferry essentials via Bangladesh.Notably, Tripura and Mizoram have been staring at a major food and fuel crisis following disruption of railway and road links to both the state via Assam due to floods and landslides. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has also cancelled all goods and passenger trains to these states till June. The Lumding-Badarpur railway line via Dima Hasao district of Assam that connects Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and south Assam was heavily damaged due to floods and landslides. On the other hand, the Mizoram government has also approached the MEA for approval to the transportation of essentials via Bangladesh. https://nenow.in/north-east-news/tripura-mizoram-mea-essentials-bangladesh.html  (23 May 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Landslide blocks Srinagar-Jammu highway Traffic movement on Jammu-Srinagar national highway was suspended after a massive landslide and heavy boulders struck the road near Rehampadi area of Banihal in Ramban district, officials said. https://thekashmiriyat.co.uk/landslide-blocks-srinagar-jammu-highway-traffic-suspended/  (17 June 2022)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Maharashtra State Power Gen Company has invited bids for 105 MW floating Solar Power project at Erai dam in Chandrapur district. https://mercomindia.com/bids-105-mw-floating-solar-project-maharashtra/  (17 June 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Western Ghats It is time to act The Centre has tasked a committee headed by former Director-General of Forests Sanjay Kumar to study the controversies surrounding the proposal to protect the Western Ghats, and submit a fresh report keeping in mind the “conservation of pristine environment and the rights, needs and developmental aspirations of the areas concerned”. 6 Western Ghats states—Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat—have consistently opposed the Madhav Gadgil and K Kasturirangan reports submitted 12 and ten years ago respectively.

While the states may have a point, there is no denying that the Western Ghats are facing a daily onslaught from various quarters, including timber smugglers and mining lobbies, resulting in recurring natural calamities. While there is a need to strike a balance between the livelihood of people and conservation, any further delay in protecting the Western Ghats can be catastrophic, especially in the light of climate change. The new committee will hopefully find a via media so that this biodiversity hotspot can be saved before it is too late. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/western-ghats-it-is-time-to-act-1117621.html  (12 June 2022)

Report SC order on ESZ may not pass the scientific test A forest buffer zone, no matter how necessary it may be ecologically, has social consequences and people need to be convinced, say researchers. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/sc-order-eco-sensitive-zones-may-not-pass-scientific-test-164937  (14 June 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Inadequate compensation of villagers for ecosystem services weakens conservation efforts Rahul Banerjee Government has received hundreds of crores worth of funds for ecosystem restoration from the central government. But instead of designing and implementing appropriate projects with these funds, it is publicising a grossly inadequate project. It is unjust towards compensating the villagers for the ecosystem services they are providing, as a successful example of payment for ecosystem services. Such under-payment not only demeans the efforts of the villagers but also jeopardises the possibilities of ensuring better conservation of natural resources. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/governance/inadequate-compensation-of-villagers-for-ecosystem-services-weakens-conservation-efforts-83340  (17 June 2022)

CLIMATE CHANGE

UN Reports Five million people displaced climate change disasters India in 2021. https://www.livehindustan.com/national/story-un-report-five-million-people-displaced-climate-change-disasters-india-6652223.html  (17 June 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Bangladesh has agreed to boost cooperation in the areas of common rivers and water resource management at the seventh round of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC), held in New Delhi on June 19, 2022.  https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/better-management-bangladesh-india-border-key-priority-indian-minister-jcc-442986  (19 June 2022)https://www.newagebd.net/article/173685/bangladesh-india-to-work-more-closely-on-river-management  (19 June 2022)

India-Nepal What West Seti power project can mean for bilateral ties The West Seti Project covers the far western Nepal region, where Deuba hails from. Completion of the project will be a gift to his electorate and the region at this advanced stage in the career of Deuba, who is now 79. It is still not clear what changes or expansion the NHPC will propose to the project initially planned at 750 MW, but the project will be a storage scheme generating power round the year to be supplied to India, either for domestic  consumption or for the trade through its national grid. And its success is expected to restore India’s image in Nepal and give it weightage in future considerations for hydropower projects, when competition is bound to be tough. West Seti, therefore, has the potential to be a defining model for Nepal India’s power relations in future.

– However, Dipak Gyawali, a former Energy Minister, sounded a note of caution: “Until India agrees to value Nepal’s water and the existing focus on power is not reviewed, mutual distrust will continue to eclipse the potential for progress of both sides in the long term. Once the projects are made multi-purpose — with flood control, navigation, fisheries, irrigation contributing to agricultural growth etc, giving due value to water — the cost of power will be much lower compared to existing rates, and people on both sides will have multiple benefits.” https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/what-west-seti-power-project-can-mean-for-india-nepal-ties-7979073/  (20 June 2022)

CHINA

A rare convergence in China of record rainfall, heatwaves and a tornado hitting the southern megacity of Guangzhou this week displaced millions of people, damaged properties and swamped farmland. Southern China is expected to see torrential rains until Tuesday, Chinese state television reported.   https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/rare-convergence-of-record-rainfall-heatwave-tornado-hits-guangzhou-city-in-china-3075326  (17 June 2022)

ASIA

Plastic river: Following the waste that’s choking the Chao Phraya The Chao Phraya River is born from mountain streams in northern Thailand, flowing hundreds of kilometres south to the sea. By the time the river travels through Bangkok and empties into the Gulf of Thailand, it is carrying huge quantities of plastic waste – an estimated 4,000 tonnes every year. The plastic clogs the river along its course, drastically impacting communities and the waterway’s ecology.


The Chao Phraya’s plastic problem is clear to see even in these upper reaches. One of the main causes is single-use plastics such as water bottles and plastic bags. (Image: Mailee Osten-Tan / The Third Pole)

The Third Pole travelled from the Chao Phraya’s beginnings to the sea to explore what’s happening to one of Southeast Asia’s most important rivers. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/pollution/plastic-river-following-waste-choking-chao-phraya/  (17 June 2022)

EUROPE

Italy Food and energy supplies are at risk Water is so low in large stretches of Italy’s largest river that local residents are walking through the middle of the expanse of sand and shipwrecks are resurfacing. Authorities fear that if it doesn’t rain soon, there’ll be a serious shortage of water for drinking and irrigation for farmers and local populations across the whole of northern Italy. https://apnews.com/article/climate-italy-and-environment-e0274e5f2b4dd6bb2854cc7a970f75f6  (17 June 2022)

Portugal ‘Severe drought’ after hottest May in 92 years Almost all of Portugal was in severe drought at the end of May, the country’s weather service (IPMA) said on Thursday (June 16). Last month was the hottest May on record in the country since 1931, the IPMA said in its monthly climate report.

The average temperature (19°C) was more than 3°C higher than usual, it added. It makes it the hottest May on record in 92 years. At the same time, the average rainfall of just under 9 millimetres was just 13 per cent of what would normally be expected. As a result, the IPMA noted a “very significant increase” in the number of areas under “severe drought”, which now covers 97 per cent of Portugal. This is just one classification lower than the weather service’s worst category of “extreme drought.” https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/06/10/nearly-all-of-portugal-in-severe-drought-after-hottest-may-on-record  (10 June 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Study Alteration of River Flow and Flood Dynamics by Existing and Planned Hydropower Dams in the Amazon River Basin Results indicate that existing dams have substantially altered downstream river flow and flooding patterns across the Amazon River basin. Specifically, large dams in the Amazonian subbasins, including the Xingu, Madeira, and Tocantins, have altered downstream river flow amplitude by up to 3 orders of magnitude. Further, the collective operation of existing and planned dams could increasingly alter river flow patterns, causing ∼10% decrease in flood duration in many parts of the Amazon mainstem. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2021WR030555  (18 April 2022)

USA Flooding Chaos in Yellowstone, a Sign of Crises to Come The floodwaters that raged through Yellowstone this week changed the course of rivers, tore out bridges, poured through homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of visitors from the nation’s oldest national park.

It is difficult to directly connect the damage in Yellowstone to a rapidly warming climate — rivers have flooded for millenniums — but scientists are raising the alarm that in the coming years destruction related to climate change will reach nearly all 423 national parks, which are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/15/us/yellowstone-national-park-floods.html  (15 June 2022) https://edition.cnn.com/2022/06/16/weather/yellowstone-flood-satellite-before-and-after/index.html  (16 June 2022)

Plastitar: mix of tar and microplastics is new form of pollution Researchers in Canary Islands coin term for new type of marine pollution they say could be leaking toxic chemicals into oceans https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/13/plastitar-mix-of-tar-and-microplastics-is-new-form-of-pollution-say-scientists  (13 June 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 13 June 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 06 June 2022  

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

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