Urban Rivers

Urban Rivers 2022-Top Ten Govt Actions: pre-occupation with STPs without accountable governance

(Feature Image:- A boat is anchored on Yamuna bank as toxic foam float in Delhi, June 5, 2021. PTI Photo/TIE)

This report focuses on various plans implemented and under consideration by respective governments vis- a-vis the plight of Urban Rivers in ten cities of India during past one year. It shows the preoccupation of the government in setting up of more and more Sewage Treatment Plants and Industrial Effluent Treatment Plants, even as most of the existing STPs and ETPs are known to be functioning far below the promised levels and many not functioning at all. Without addressing the governance of the STPs and ETPs transparent, accountable and participatory, there is little chance of these helping the rivers. It seems more like part of government’s pre-occupation and faith in infrastructure and no faith in governance or people. It also covers some questionable decisions which would further damage the eco-system of these already degraded and threatened rivers in addition to impacting the dependent urban communities adversely.

1. Nagpur Rs 2,117.54 Cr Nag pollution abatement project approved When the project was conceived in June 2014 the cost was Rs 1,476.96 cr. However as the project was not properly drafted same was rejected and delays cost dearly as new additions were made pegging the pollution control price at nearly Rs. 2500 crores. But after intense negotiations and slashing at unnecessary components, the cost of Nag River rejuvenation is pegged at Rs. 2117.54 crore.

Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is the lead financer and it has entered into agreement with Maharashtra Government for a soft loan of Rs. 1864 crores. Centre will contribute 60 per cent of the project cost, that is, Rs 1,323.51 crore, State will contribute 25 per cent — Rs 496.38 crore while for cash strapped Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) contribution is kept at 15 per cent that is Rs 297.82 crore.

After river rejuvenation, Gadkari has plans for river front development along entire stretch of 17 km. All together 35 settlements would need to be relocated to facilitate development of amusement parks and other tourist facilities on banks of Nag River.

Image source: The Hitavada

As city expanded during the last 50-years the increasing urbanisation contributed to release of untreated sewage into the river that converted it into a stinking nullah. Later on apart from residential localities that sprang up along its bank, industrial estates too came up on its subsidiary the Pili River, namely Uppalwadi and Wanjara Co-operative Industrial Estate. The industrial waste for long used to be released untreated in Nag River. A study commissioned by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) in 2011 had identified 107 polluting streams that empty into the 2 rivers. https://www.thehitavada.com/Encyc/2021/3/3/Centre-approves-Rs-2-117-54-cr-Nag-River-Pollution-Abatement-project.html  (03 March 2021) https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/nag-river-pollution-abatement-project-approved-to-treat-waste-flowing-in-nag-river-govt/2039335  (02 March 2021)

The Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) of the Union Finance Ministry has approved the Nag River Pollution Abatement Project which has been on paper for 11 years. The EFC has reduced the project’s cost by over Rs 100 crore, but the actual cost is estimated at Rs 2,117.54 crore which does not include operation and maintenance of the STPs and other infrastructure involved in the project. A high-powered committee has requested NMC hike the property tax and levy a new component of sanitation in the property tax in order to pay for O&M for the project. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/central-panel-oks-nag-river-project-with-hike-in-property-tax-to-run-it/articleshow/87317713.cms  (28 Oct. 2021)

2. Bengaluru Rs1,500cr project to treat polluted Vrishabhavathi “Under the Rs 1,500 crore project, in the next few years, we will generate the water that can be used for irrigation and filling lakes, I have inspected along with officials from the The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), the KSPCB, the BBMP, and the Minor Irrigation Department about the present condition of the river. After treating the water only clean and treated water from Vrishabhavathi River will be released into Byramangala Lake situated in Bidadi near Ramanagara district in the coming days,” Minister for Environment, Ecology and Tourism C.P. Yogeshwar said.

Vrishabhavathi River (Source: Twitter/Licypriya Kangujam/TIE)

Byramangala Lake, located about 40 km west of Bengaluru, gets most of its water from the Vrishabhavathi river, which has now become polluted. The minister said that around 40% of Bengaluru’s sewage water joins the Byramangala lake through the Vrishabhavathi river. “We are treating river water in two stages, but the water is not suitable for any purpose including agriculture purposes. This scheme aims to treat 1,500 MLD of wastewater in three stages to fill tanks and lakes and can be used for agriculture by the farmers,” he added.

The tertiary treatment for 1 MLD water costs Rs 1 crore, 1,500 MLD will need Rs 1,500 crore. Apart from this, the officials have accepted the suggestion by the NEERI to form wetlands every 5 km to naturally treat the Vrushabhavathi water until it reaches Arkavathi river in Kanakapura, Ramanagara Dist. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/karnataka-govt-to-take-up-rs-1500-crore-project-to-treat-bengalurus-polluted-vrishabhavathi-river-7398897/  (11 July 2021)

The BWSSB has submitted an affidavit to the high court, listing short- and long-term measures for the revival of Vrushabhavathi River. Geetha Misra, a Bengaluru-based lawyer, has filed a PIL in the high court, urging it to direct the authorities to check pollution in Vrushabhavathi and revive the river. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/bwssb-submits-action-plan-for-vrushabhavathi-revival-1023961.html  (27 Aug. 2021)

3. Mumbai Revival of urban rivers Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray: “Mithi has two parts. There is the Powai lake, a drinking water lake. Mithi also has the backflow of the Arabian Sea. That is where Mithi is formed as a river in Mumbai. In the last few years, we have realised that the biggest problem was the deepening and widening of the river which is now being done very successfully in Kurla, Chandivali, airport area and near Powai. A couple of STPs are coming up where the sewage will directly enter two pipelines and not the river. We are also trying to resettle people from the slums into formal homes. Bioremediation is under way. A couple of projects are on with the United Nations Development Programme. We are also trying to rejuvenate the Dahisar, Poisar and Oshiwara rivers. Can they ever be blue? Possibly not. But yes, we are looking at cleaner water today, and wider and deeper navigation.” https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/we-are-trying-to-rejuvenate-mithi-dahisar-other-rivers-in-mumbai/article37859470.ece  (06 Dec. 2021)

BMC to award contracts The BMC project for the rejuvenation of Dahisar and Oshiwara rivers is set to take off after finalisation of contractors. The Rs 1,000-crore project is expected to be completed in the next three years. Proposals of awarding contracts for rejuvenation of Dahisar and Oshiwara-Walbhut rivers will be tabled before the BMC Standing Committee for approval. The work includes construction of STPs at the bank of both rivers, laying of sewer and storm water drain lines, construction of interceptors to prevent sewage discharge if sewer lines are not possible and construction of access roads along the banks of rivers.

While for Dahisar, a joint venture of S K-S P Associates has been finalised by BMC, a joint venture of Shapoorji Pallonji-Konark will take up the Oshiwara river work. (TIE File photo)

According to the proposals, the revamp of Dahisar river will cost Rs 281.15 crore. For Oshiwara, it will be Rs 719.81 crore. The project has been delayed and seen cost escalation due to Covid-19. Proposals show first-time tenders for the projects were invited in 2019. However, after the pandemic outbreak and the suspension of all development work for months, BMC had to significantly revise its upward estimated cost of Rs 503.42 crore and Rs 180.98 crore for Oshiwara and Dahisar, respectively. The work at Dahisar is expected to be completed in two years after excluding the monsoon months. Work on Oshiwara will take three years. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/work-on-dahisar-oshiwara-rivers-to-begin-bmc-to-award-contracts-7538365/  (28 Sept. 2021)

BMC spent Rs 1,000 cr on desilting in 10 yrs As per the RTI information, Rs 460.03 crore was spent on desilting major nullahs, Rs 140.08 crore on Mithi River, and Rs 338.62 crore on minor nullahs. BMC has also paid Rs 26 crore to Railways for desilting drains under its jurisdiction. The length of major nullahs in the city is around 248kms, that of minor nullahs is about 421kms. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/bmc-spent-rs-1000-crore-on-desilting-in-10-years-shows-rti-23194343  (29 Sept. 2021)

4. Delhi Govt bans fishing The animal husbandry dept on June 29, 2021 banned fishing in parts of river Yamuna, citing the high pollution levels. “It is hereby brought to the notice of all concerned that in view of the high pollution levels in the Yamuna waters, as per the provisions made in the rules (formulated under Indian Fisheries Act, 1897), the issuing of fishing licence in two portions of public waters is suspended till further orders,” the notification read.

DPCC said the most recent data on river pollution levels was not readily available with the agency.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT file photo)

The notification further said fishing will be prohibited in a portion of the Hindon canal, Ghazipur drain and Shadipur drain (road drain 0 to 17000); and portion of river Yamuna, from groyne number 85 (downstream), New Okhla barrage, to Delhi boundary. Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) said the most recent data on river pollution levels was not readily available with the agency. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhi-govt-bans-fishing-in-yamuna-says-water-too-polluted-101624988663545.html  (30 June 2021)

Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP said, “The govt should work on improving the water quality of the Yamuna rather than restricting activities like fishing as many communities are dependent on the river for livelihood”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/fishing-banned-at-two-yamuna-stretches-due-to-high-pollution/articleshow/83966448.cms  (30 June 2021)

Govt bans soaps, detergents not conforming to latest BIS standards The Delhi government on June 14, 2021 banned the sale, storage, transportation, and marketing of soaps and detergents not conforming to the latest BIS standards to curb pollution in the Yamuna river. The NGT had in January accepted recommendations of a two-member expert panel which had suggested directing the Delhi government to issue orders “prohibiting sale, storage and transportation and marketing of detergents which do not conform to the revised BIS standards”. The NGT had also directed to launch awareness campaigns about this. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-bans-soaps-detergents-yamuna-pollution-7359122/  (15 June 2021)

YAP Ph-3: delay in nod slow down work In the report on detailing work progress till January 2022, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) said the work was delayed due to a “delay in tree-cutting permission, nod from road-owning agencies, traffic permissions, EPCA ban and slow progress during the monsoon season”. The project components fall in three drainage zones – Okhla, Kondli and Rithala. The rehabilitation of trunk sewer number 4 and Nawana Road, Anand Vihar, Hargovind Enclave and Vikas Marg sewers, which started on November 29, 2017 and was to be completed in November 2019, is now likely to be completed on February 28, 2022.

The rehabilitation and upgradation of the Rithala Phase 1 waste water treatment plant of 40 MGD was to be completed by December 14, 2021. It is now likely to be completed by December 31, 2022. The rehabilitation and upgradation of Kondli Phase 1 (10 MGD), Phase 2 (25 MGD) and Phase 3 (10 MGD) WWTPs should have ended on February 9, 2022 but it has been delayed till the end of this year. The laying of rising and pumping mains at various locations in the Kondli WWTP catchment area, which started in July 2018, was scheduled to be completed in two years. However, the construction agency could only complete it in December 2021. https://theprint.in/india/yamuna-action-plan-phase-3-covid-lockdown-air-pollution-induced-curbs-delay-in-nod-slow-down-work/841037/  (21 Feb. 2022)

DPCC to study microplastics pollution in river In a first-of-its-kind survey by a government body in the national capital, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will conduct a study to ascertain the concentration, distribution and composition of microplastics in River Yamuna, besides soil, vegetables and other edible products. The pollution control body will also examine if the soil in the floodplains of River Yamuna is fit for agriculture. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/in-a-first-dpcc-to-study-microplastics-pollution-in-river-yamuna-101639945758093.html  20 Dec. 2021)

5. Chennai Airport plans to expand across Adyar Chennai airport could be expanded across the Adyar River to handle 50 to 60 million passengers per annum (MPPA) and a masterplan will be prepared for this within 6 months, said airport director. The airport is looking to hire a consultant to prepare the masterplan for the next 50 years. Chennai airport would soon get a new multi-level car parking and Rs 2,000-crore integrated terminal. The new terminal is expected to be ready by August and may be put to use by October.

A portion of the secondary runway, built over Adyar River flood basin, triggered protests after the 2015 floods in Chennai. An inspection report submitted by a panel appointed by the NGT said the Airports Authority of India did not violate any law in constructing the runway bridge across the river. The panel was constituted after a petition was filed by Marvel River View County Owners Association stating that the original river width in the area was 130 metres and the bridge was 200 metres long. IIT-Madras experts also said the bridge piers will not have any noticeable impact on the river’s floodwater-carrying capacity.   https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/jun/12/chennai-airport-plans-to-expand-across-adyar-targets-60-million-passengers-2464611.html  (12 June 2022)

Bed dam planned on Adyar to divert surplus water to quarries The Water Resources Department plans to build a bed dam across Adyar river downstream of Chembarambakkam reservoir and divert surplus water to Sikkarayapuram quarries to be used for the city’s water supply. The Adyar carried flood water joining in the upper portion, apart from the surplus released from Chembarambakkam reservoir, during the recent rain.

The department recently submitted a proposal to build a bed dam across the river near Kavanur and divert water through a 3.9 km-long cut and cover channel to the Sikkarayapuram quarries. This new channel would have a carrying capacity of 400 cusecs. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/bed-dam-planned-across-adyar-to-divert-surplus-water/article33440488.ece  (29 Dec. 2020)

Widening of Adyar expected to prevent floods? As usual a costly civil engineering approach to deal with Nature! The Water Resources Department has started work to widen the stretch of the Adyar near Kundrathur to facilitate free flow of water and prevent spill over to the surrounding localities in the southern suburbs. In a bid to alleviate inundation, the department has started work on widening the 1.8-km portion of the river between the confluence point of the Chembarambakkam lake’s surplus course near Kundrathur and the Anakaputhur bridge. Nearly 20.6 acres of land on the flood plain would be acquired at Kundrathur to widen the river up to 120 metres.

– Once the project was completed, the flood-carrying capacity of the river is estimated to increase to 48,000 cusecs at the stretch. The department is enumerating nearly 676 encroached structures in Anakaputhur under the aegis of the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/widening-of-adyar-expected-to-prevent-floods/article65467431.ece  (27 May 2022)

A file photo of the Adyar River/TNIE

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. After acquiring the land, officials would strengthen the bunds and raise walls. Since there are 7 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)

City Corporation has planned to create a Miyawaki forest along Meenambakkam and Nandambakkam stretch. Officials said the project costs 2.58 crore, covering both sides of the bunds. On one side, 3.9km will be covered with 2,512 native trees, 2,512 flower plants and 2,512 herbal plants. On the opposite side of the river will be planted 1,972 native trees, 1,974 flower plants, and 1,974 herbal plants. Deputy Mayor Mahesh Kumar said the tenders have been floated and the work will begin by the month end. He added that the corporation’s focus was on restoring Cooum bunds as well. Corporation has already planted 60,000 saplings along the Adyar stretch over the years. Officials said they would carry out the drive in coordination with CRRT officials. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/makeover-for-adyar-along-meenambakkam/articleshow/92091580.cms  (9 June 2022)

CRZ clearance for Adyar mouth widening put off MoEF committee meeting on December 8 raised ecological concerns while seeking a comprehensive scientific study before considering the proposal. Earlier this year, it had turned down the project twice, strongly observing that “unless a multi-season detailed study is commissioned to study the impacts of opening of sand bar on riverine/estuarine ecology and biodiversity and Besant Nagar Turtle Nesting Site, this component shall be put on hold.” The committee observed that it may lead to long-term changes in the ecology of the region and should be studied by an institute like the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai.

The CRRT is implementing work on various sub-projects of the restoration project. As part of it, the PWD is entrusted with the implementation of 7 sub-projects, including desilting and widening the river for 16.18 km, construction of flood protection walls for 1.556 km, and river mouth opening and its maintenance. The CRZ clearance was granted for all other sub-projects. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/dec/29/crz-clearancefor-adyar-mouth-widening-put-off-2400778.html  (29 Dec. 2021)

6. Ludhiana 2 more CETPs, 200 cusecs of fresh water to clean Buddha Nullah Two more common effluent treatment plants (CETPs), with a capacity to treat 90 MLD domestic and industrial effluent being directly discharged into the highly polluted Buddha Nullah, a seasonal tributary of the Sutlej, will be made operational by July 31, the government confirmed. Besides, 200 cusecs of clean water from the Sirhind canal will also be released into the drain by the month-end, a senior officer said on July 23, 2021. These 3 CETPs, with a total capacity of 105 MLD will check the discharge of untreated domestic and partially treated domestic and industrial effluent directly into the nullah.

This was part of the Rs 840-crore rejuvenation project to give a new lease of life to one of the most polluted nullahs, which runs almost parallel to the Sutlej through most of Ludhiana district, including 14-km in the city, before merging with the river. The project was launched on January 12 to check the existing 625 MLD untreated domestic waste water discharged directly into the nullah and the future discharge, if any. The major work under the rejuvenation of the 47.55-km-long Buddha Nullah has been awarded for domestic waste water management. While the capital cost of the project will be Rs 519 crore, the 10-year operation and maintenance will cost Rs 321 crore. The entire project will be completed within 2 years. While the project will be completely in operation by November 2022, some components will be put to operation earlier. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/ludhiana/2-more-cetps-200-cusecs-of-fresh-water-to-clean-buddha-nullah-287403  (24 July 2021)

200 cusecs water released in Buddha nullah The Rs 9.80 crore project to clean Ludhiana’s polluted ‘Buddha Nullah’ started on Aug. 22, 2021, with 200 cusecs of freshwater being released into the polluted stream. Clean canal water will be released into the drain daily — through Neelon Drain of Sirhind Canal — so that the stream can regain its former glory.

Samrala MLA, Amrik Singh Dhillon, Payal MLA, Lakhbir Singh Lakha, and Ludhiana Mayor, Balkar Singh Sandhu, on Sunday inaugurated the Rs 9.80 crore project. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Work has been commenced on 2 new STPs for treating domestic waters of total capacity 285 MLD (Jamalpur 225 MLD and Balloke 60 MLD), rehabilitation of existing STPs with a treatment capacity of 418 MLD, 2 ETPs for treatment of 6 MLD wastewater from 2 dairy complex in Tajpur and Haibowal, 6 intermediate pumping stations, laying of 10-km pipeline and 10 years of operation and maintenance of entire infrastructure under Rs 650-crore Budha Nullah rejuvenation project which will be completed by December 2022. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/ludhiana-buddha-nullah-rejuvenation-project-begins-with-release-of-200-cusecs-of-fresh-water-7465920/  (22 Aug. 2021)

7. Pune PCMC to set up SPV for rivers rejuvenation project The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has decided to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to raise Rs 2,500 crore by floating municipal bonds for projects to rejuvenate Pavana, Indrayani and Mula rivers. The proposal for this was to be placed before the civic standing committee on Aug. 18, 2021. “After the standing committee’s approval, it will go before the civic general body meeting. After that, it will be sent to the state government for approval,” PCMC executive engineer Sanjay Kulkarni.

According to the proposal, the SPV will have to take over the river bed land from the state government for maintenance and improvement purposes. “The SPV will have to get funds from the central and state government for the project. It will have to raise the funds through municipal bonds or loans. It can look for funds through Corporator Social Responsibility of industrial units. SPV will have the right to set up a fund and land bank. It will have to take decisions regarding Town Planning Scheme,” said a civic official. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pcmc-to-set-up-spv-for-pavana-indrayani-rejuvenation-project-plans-to-raise-rs-2500-crore-7458407/  (17 Aug. 2021)

MPCB sends eighth show cause notice to PMC, PCMC The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) sent a show cause notice to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) seeking a report on compliance with the steps taken by it to curb pollution in the rivers under its jurisdiction. Sanjay Jagtap, regional officer of the MPCB, in its report said, “Given the poor quality of water, we have issued notices to PMC and PCMC this week regarding failure on their part in using the mandated 25% budgetary allocation to curb river pollution. Earlier too, we had filed a case against both civic bodies and had issued guidelines regarding the same.”

Water pollution in Mula river at Kalyani Nagar in Pune. (HT PHOTO)

This is the eighth notice issued to the PMC in the past four years and the second one this year. Previously, green tribunals have slapped a fine of Rs8 crore on the civic body for polluting rivers. Notwithstanding the NGT’s explicit warning, the PMC has continued to operate the garbage processing plant at Sinhagad road and is still engaged in large-scale dumping of garbage on the Mutha riverbed. After locals and environmental activists complained, MPCB officials even visited the spot and sought an explanation from PMC officials in May this year. The MPCB has also been issuing notices to the PMC for dumping debris and releasing sewage into the rivers under its jurisdiction. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/pune-river-pollution-mpcb-sends-eighth-show-cause-notice-to-pmc-pcmc-101630511640803.html  (02 Sept. 2021)

8. Noida Govt to build dam on Yamuna to keep airport safe  The irrigation department has decided to construct a dam over the Yamuna river at Jewar in order to keep the Noida International Airport coming up in the area safe from any flood damage, said officials on June 20, 2021. The state government has directed the irrigation department, which has control over the river and the land around it, to initiate the process.

Officials said the irrigation department wants to build the dam before the airport becomes operational. “We have started the survey on the Yamuna river in the Jewar area in view of the dam project. The survey will be completed in three months. Once this is done, we will send the report to the UP government for further progress,” said BK Singh, executive engineer of the irrigation department.

The junior engineers, assistant engineers and other staff of the irrigation department have been deployed for the survey work, he said. After the survey is complete, the detailed project report (DPR) will be prepared to make an estimate of the budget to build the dam. “The flood returns in a river in a period of 50-100 years,” said Singh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/up-to-build-dam-on-yamuna-to-keep-noida-airport-safe-101624213594523.html  (20 June 2021)

9. Agra Rubber check dam proposed to strengthen Taj foundation Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) Committee has proposed to construct a rubber check dam on the river Yamuna to revive the water-filled riverbed at the back of the Taj Mahal. The plan to construct a rubber dam came up in 2016 and CM Yogi Adityanth had laid the foundation stone for the project at Nagla Pema in Agra in 2017.

“Before having permission from TTZ Committee, the proposal for rubber check dam on river Yamuna in Agra was sent to NEERI which gave permission but with a rider of compliance of certain terms for which a committee was constituted and Regional Officer (UPPCB) was named as the nodal officer,” said regional officer (RO) for UPPCB Vishwanath Sharma. This committee named by NEERI will comprise representatives from Agra circle of Archaeological Survey of India, MOEF, NEERI, and the nodal officer will be the RO, UPPCB.

Sources said around 3 metres high rubber check dam would allow storage of 3.50 lakh cusec water behind the Taj Mahal. Moreover, environmentalists believe that this rubber dam will assist in raising the ground water level in Agra district where a dozen blocks, out of overall 15 blocks, are already in dark zone. To mention, Agra had a long futile wait for Agra Barrage, a similar project on river Yamuna for which foundation stone was laid by then CM ND Tiwari in 1986-87 and again the then governor Romesh Bhandari laid the foundation stone for Agra Barrage in 1993 for the same project but different location. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/rubber-check-dam-proposed-on-yamuna-to-strengthen-taj-foundation-101650999537457.html  (27 April 2022)

10. Centre bans new industries in river floodplains, Ganga projects exempted The Centre has decided to ban the establishment of industries in river floodplains, changing earlier guidelines that industrial sites shall maintain at least 0.5 km distance from flood or modified floodplain affected by the dam. The MoEF has come up with guidelines for siting industries that are in close proximity to the river said that the aspect related to siting of industries was deliberated in the Ministry, and suggestions were sought from different ministries including Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS).

The guidelines said that the activities undertaken under the Namami Gange Programme like construction, development, renovation of STPs, bathing ghats, crematoria, and toilets for pollution control abatement of river Ganga and its tributaries are not prohibited. It further said that any development project taken by the Ministry of Jal Shakti under the said program is also exempted from these guidelines. “Industries shall not be located within the river floodplain corresponding to one in 25 years flood, as certified by concerned district magistrate from state water resource department or any other officer authorized by the state government,” said the directive issued by the ministry.

According to the last revised “environment guidelines for industries” of the ministry with regard to siting of industries prescribed that industrial sites shall maintain at least 1/2 km, from flood or modified floodplain affected by the dam in the upstream or by flood control systems. “The NGT while considering restoration of measures to Yamuna and Ganga rivers dealt with the issue of floodplains and had said that it is necessary to call upon the authorities to demarcate the floodplain for the flood of once in 25 years and to prohibit any kind of development activity on the area in question,” the ministry said while issuing new guidelines.  It also said that the court in another order observed: “till the demarcation of the floodplains and identification of permissible and non-permissible activities by the state government of this judgment, we direct that 100 meters from the edge of the river would be treated as no development/construction zone.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/feb/18/centre-bans-new-industries-in-river-floodplains-ganga-projects-exempted-2421051.html  (18 Feb. 2022)

Some More Relevant Reports

Sholapur Draft plan to tackle Panchaganga pollution ready Developing sluice gates at barrages along the Panchaganga river, making sure service centres have in-house effluent treatment plant, setting up separate washing centres for clothes and cattle are some of the measures suggested by the MPCB in its draft report prepared on the directions of CM Uddhav Thackeray. The CM after taking cognizance of the complaints about fish deaths in the Panchaganga river had asked the board to come up with a concrete plan to tackle the pollution of the river. District guardian minister Satej Patil and several other public representatives from the district have approved the draft, which will be given to Thackeray soon.

Currently, most of the sewage from Kolhapur city is treated while around 45 MLD from Ichalkaranji is discharged into the river without any treatment, which is the major source of pollution. The expert members associated with the drafting of the report said the major focus of the plan is to develop infrastructure such as treatment plants for Ichalkaranji and villages along the banks of the river.

The plan also includes the diversion of 91 MLD treated wastewater from Kolhapur city for irrigation. Uday Gaikwad, an environmentalist and expert member said the work requires over Rs 25 crore, however, the funds can be recovered by charging fees from farmers for using the treated wastewater. Patil has asked officials to estimate the funds required to implement the measures.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolhapur/draft-plan-to-tackle-river-pollution-ready/articleshow/82438247.cms  (07 May 2021)

Hyderabad 17 new STPs to come up in 2 years “We have informed the agency to complete the works in two years. The agency shall also take care of works (O&M) for 15 years,” said an HMWSSB official. These STPs are being installed along River Musi on the Kukatpally Nala catchment and Hussain Sagar catchment. Once these STPs are operational, the long pending issue including sewage discharge into the Musi, Hussain Sagar and their connecting water channels will end, said an official.

The total project cost of setting up 17 STPs is Rs 1,280.87 crore which includes the STPs cost of Rs 766.22 crore and O&M cost of Rs 514.65 crore. As per HMWSSB records, 1,950 MLD of sewage is generated every day in the city and the 25 existing STPs in GHMC limits are treating 772 MLD of sewerage. The 17 new STPs being installed will treat 376.5 MLD. https://telanganatoday.com/17-new-sewerage-plants-to-come-up-in-ghmc  (9 Aug. 2021)

Haryana 14 STPs sanctioned for Ghaggar-Yamuna areas Chief secretary Sanjeev Kaushal said the central government has sanctioned 14 STPs under a micro-irrigation system in Ghaggar and Yamuna river areas. The construction work on these will start soon, Kaushal said, who chaired a meeting regarding the implementation of the action plan for excessive river pollution and other related matters. The chief secretary said the capacity of 156 STPs is being increased by public health department, Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran, urban local bodies and Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority. Of these, work on 74 STPs is nearing completion and the rest will be completed soon. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/haryana-14-stps-sanctioned-for-ghaggar-yamuna-areas-101652046505591.html  (9 May 2022)

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)

Post Script

Vadodara Vishwamitri rejuvenation plan remains a hollow promise Despite promises by CM and Deputy CM during VMC polls, the state budget presented on Wednesday (March 03, 2021) had no mention of any project related to Vishwamitri river. Interestingly, it has been over 12 years since the project was conceived, but there has been no development so far. In the past too, the state government had included the Vishwamitri river project in its budget.

The 2015-16 budget had proposed Rs 50 crore for the riverfront as well as Rs 20 crore for diverting the river to prevent flooding and increasing the capacity of Ajwa reservoir. The 2016-17 budget had made provisions for the crocodile park. The Vishwamitri river’s banks are yet to see any development and the crocodile park had to be scrapped due to legal disputes.

Sources in VMC said that the delay in the Vishwamitri project has been due to financial constraints as well as environmental issues. Initially, it was planned that a riverfront would come up along Vishwamitri much like the Sabarmati riverfront. Activists approached the NGT in 2016 regarding the riverfront and the VMC had to redraw its plans. In 2018, the SPV to look into the project that was earlier called Vishwamitri Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (VRDCL) was renamed as Vishwamitri River Revival Corporation Ltd.

Funding for the project has been a major concern. The project has also been included in the list of VMC’s Smart City projects. The VMC is hoping for aid from the state government as well as funds under the National River Conservation Programme (NRCP). While the initial estimate for the project was around Rs 800 crore, there is no clarity about the costs after the proposed changes in the project. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/vishwamitri-rejuvenation-plan-remains-a-hollow-promise/articleshow/81316651.cms  (04 March 2021)

Illegal structures cause flood, create reptile scare Due to lack of urban planning and VMC negligence, a number of residential colonies that have come up along the riverbanks get flooded after heavy rains. So much so, that many a resident here has now preferred to migrate to other safer locations if it starts raining too heavily. More than waters, residents of Siddharth Bungalows are scared of what the floods bring with it — snakes and crocodiles — that often swim into their colony. A wall was built around Siddharth Bungalows to prevent the river water flowing into the colony but it too got washed away in 2019 floods.

The 26 km-stretch of the river that flows through the city is home to at least 270 crocodiles and it is densely populated with reptiles between Fatehgunj and Sayajigunj area. Environmentalists, who have been working to save the river, however, claim that most constructions near the riverbank are illegal. “Having concrete structures near the river damage the ecosystem and also cause flooding in other areas as they restrict the natural flow of the river. According to the rules, one has to keep nine metres distance from the river’s floodplain while constructing anything. But many concrete buildings have come up very close to the river. It’s an invited flood,” said Rohit Prajapati, environment activist who has approached the NGT for saving the river. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/illegal-structures-cause-flood-create-reptile-scare/articleshow/85015438.cms  (04 Aug. 2021)

Reviving Vishwamitri isn’t impossible Champions of the ‘Vaho Vishwamitri Abhiyan’ for over a decade have been suggesting that the river can be revived through a scientifically planned and ecologically sustainable bio-shield. M S University too has converted a stretch of Bhukhi Nullah, a tributary of the river that passes from its campus into an ecological experimental zone. Instead of treating it as yet another riverfront project, the river can be revived as a bio-zone — right from its origin from Pavagadh to the sea. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/reviving-vishwamitri-isnt-impossible/articleshow/85077866.cms  (06 Aug. 2021)

VMC proposes sewage-free Vishwamitri river project  VMC is looking to take up the project under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP). In 2018, the state government had even sought an undertaking from the VMC that if the project was taken up under NRCP, the civic body will pay its share. Under NRCP, 60% of the project cost is provided by the centre, 10% by the state government while the remaining 30% has to be borne by the local body.

A proposal put up before the standing committee of the VMC has revealed that the state government had last month asked VMC to prepare a proposal for NRCP. The proposal will have to be routed through the state urban development department. The present proposal will cover the stretch from Vadodara to Asoj and ensure that sewage does not enter the river. This itself will cost around Rs 551crore. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/vmc-proposes-sewage-free-vishwamitri-river-project/articleshow/88460791.cms  (24 Dec. 2021)

You may also like to see:-

Urban Rivers 2022: Top 10 positive stories from India

Top 10 River Front Development Stories 2022: Destroying Rivers, Livelihoods  

India’s Urban Rivers in Crisis in 2022: Top 10 Cases

Top Ten Judicial Actions on Urban Rivers 2022: Executors Deliberately Delaying, Diluting, Defying orders

One thought on “Urban Rivers 2022-Top Ten Govt Actions: pre-occupation with STPs without accountable governance

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