DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 040722: Stalled, delayed, cancelled Hydro in Bhutan

(Feature Image: Stretch of Punatsangchu River that will be diverted through the tunnel when the dam is commissioned Photo: SANDRP)

Puncturing the prevalent notion about India Bhutan Cooperation on hydropower projects, there is news this week (in fact the news on this score has been coming for more than a couple of years, but Indian media seems to be practicing a self-imposed ban on putting out such stories – but that is another story as they say) that hydropower projects have been stalled, delayed, reconfigured, and even cancelled in Bhutan. This is broadly in line with the increasing economic non viability of hydropower projects.

Kuensel, Bhutan’s national newspaper, has reported about such projects quoting the National Council recommendation to the government of Bhutan to expedite the decisions about the stalled projects like the massive Punatasanchchu-I HEP and the Kholongchu HEP. It has also reported that the government of India conveying to Bhutan that India has sufficient electricity supplies, suggesting that the proposed Nu 200 Billion Sunkosh Hydropower project may not have any definite dateline and hence likely to not go forward. The happenings at the geologically unstable site selection for Punatsanchchu project involving India’s Central Water Commission, Wapcos and Geological Survey of India among others is in fact major scandal and how the whole issue has been dealt with so far. The happenings at the Kolongchu HEP being executed by the SJVN (erstwhile Sutlej Jal Vidhyut Nigam Ltd) as the first ever joint venture project in Bhutan in terms SJVN not giving the promised contracts to Bhutanese companies also does not bode well for Joint Venture projects in future. Both Punatsanchchu and Kholongchu HEPs are stalled and delayed for long, increasing the cost of the projects and power from the projects. While all this is broadly in line with increasing economic non viability of hydropower projects, a lot of this can be avoided by increasing transparency and accountability in governance of these projects.

Bhutan NC asks govt to expedite decision on delayed hydropower projects The government is waiting response from the Government of India (GoI) on the issues of two hydropower projects under construction, Punatsangchu-I Hydroelectric Project and Kholongchu Hydropower Project which have been delayed. The National Council (NC) recommended the government expedite a decision on the problems faced by these projects to avoid any further delays and cost escalation. The NC stated that over the past few years there has been growing concern on the repeated delays and inordinate cost escalation in the construction and completion of hydropower projects. The recommendations came with the Budget Appropriation Bill 2022-2023 that National Council forwarded after review and deliberation to National Assembly.

– For example, PHPA-I began construction in 2008 and was expected to complete in 2016. The initial estimated cost was Nu 35.148 billion (B) which has now escalated almost three-fold to Nu 93.756B. The dam construction at PHPA-I cost Nu 24B from 2013 to 2019, in total it has cost around Nu 45 to Nu 50B incurring interest during construction. During the re-deliberation on the Budget Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2022-23 at the National Assembly (NA), Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the detailed project report on the feasibility of construction of a barrage at PHPA-I is submitted to GoI and that the government was waiting a response. He said that the government is anticipating a decision on the construction of barrage within two months after meeting of the authorities of two countries in July.

– Kholongchhu Hydropower Project commenced in 2015 and was scheduled to complete in 2020. The initial cost projected was Nu 33.05B and estimates of cost on completion have increased to Nu 54.818B. On the delay in the construction of Kholongchhu project, Lyonchhen said that the agreement between joint ventures mentioned that the 20 percent of capital work would be awarded to a Bhutanese contractor. He said that from the Indian agency side, they want to execute 100 percent of capital works and award 20 percent in the construction of roads, bridges and buildings at the site. However, from the Bhutan side, they requested 20 percent of capital work for the construction of tunnels. “The two agencies could not come to a consensus on the capital work award,” Lyonchhen said. There are four members each from the companies in the committee and the chairperson has no voting right according to the agreement if they come to voting. Kholongchu is the first joint venture company formed between Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) and India’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL). Lyonchhen also mentioned that DGPC withdrew from the project and requested the Cabinet for intervention since it will have issues in the future. “We felt that DGPC can execute the tunnel construction and their requests are valid,” Lyonchhen said. Lyonchhen said that the government has directed the economic affairs and foreign affairs ministries to discuss with GoI the award of 20 percent capital work to Bhutanese firm. However, Lyonchhen said that the major issue with the project is after completing the project it has not mentioned clearly the export tariff rates and the rate is comparatively less. “Government of Bhutan is requesting a slightly higher export tariff rate.”

– SUNKOSH PROJECT: Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that the government cannot give a timeline for the project commencement. The Sunkosh project is estimated cost about Nu 200B. Lyonpo said that with solar and hydrogen energy evolving, there is less demand for electricity. “The government of India has also said that they have secure energy.” Lyonpo said that the government has also already informed the people that it is not possible to start the project immediately and not to wait for the project. “Government has also directed the dzongkhag administration not to stop any activities. It is difficult to come in five or six years,” Lyonpo said. https://kuenselonline.com/nc-asks-govt-to-expedite-decision-on-delayed-hydropower-projects/  (28 June 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Himachal Pradesh Hydro power generation dipped by 5% in June Another impact of climate change leading to reduced hydropower generation in June this year compared to June last year in spite of better snowfall in winter. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/power-generation-dipped-in-june-408350  (01 July 2022)

Arunachal Pradesh Overflowing water again rolls over main dam of Lower Subansiri project Notably, water overflowed the under construction Subansiri Lower Hydro Project main dam from June 17 to June 24. This again happened from June 28 night to 12 hrs on June 29, creating havoc in the downstream area. It is not known what damage it has done. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/assam-news/overflowing-water-again-rolls-over-main-dam-of-lower-subansiri-project-599893  (30 June 2022)

Uttarakhand Joshimath will sink if excavation not stopped: Scientists Joshimath, an hour’s drive from Raini where 200 people died last year during floods, will sink unless excavation for various developmental works is not stopped immediately, warned scientists after a recent survey. They added that widening of the 20 km-stretch — between Helong and Marwari — of the all-weather Char Dham road should “only be carried out after state-of-the-art slope treatment”.

– The group of scientists included Dr Navin Juyal from the SC-appointed Char Dham high-powered committee, VC Garhwal University’s Dr SP Sati, and BHU professor Shubhra Sharma. The team was formed at the request of local residents who said they have been worried about the area, particularly its land subsidence (sinking of Earth’s surface) and soil creep (mass wasting process of soil on a slope) that began in November last year. “Locals wanted to approach an independent body of experts to conduct the survey after failing to get any response from the state government after they expressed their fears,” said Atul Sati, convener of the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti. In its report, the team stressed the need for another “integrated study” after involving all stakeholders such as glaciologists, geologists, botanists and environmentalists.

– Work for the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydro power plant and Char Dham road, and rapid urbanisation are ongoing in the town. Experts said such construction was among the “top external forces supplementing the stress” of an already geographically and ecologically weak landscape. The report, a copy of which is with TOI, said, “As an immediate measure, there should not be any excavation activities, particularly of the precariously balanced crystalline boulders.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhands-joshimath-will-sink-if-excavation-not-stopped-scientists/articleshow/92532896.cms  (29 June 2022)

State ravaged by disasters https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/uttarakhand-a-land-ravaged-by-natural-disasters-1123461.html  (03 July 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir  NHPC asks people not to venture near Chenab River for 2 days The management of Dulhasti Power Station NHPC Limited has asked people of Doda and Kishtwar in general and the inhabitants of villages Dul, Benzwar, Cherhar, Bhandarkot, Hasti, Kandani, Prem Nagar and Pul Doda in particular, to not to move near river Chenab on July 5 and 6. Warning has been issued as the gates of Dulhasti Power Station dam will be opened for reservoir flushing during this period. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/state/nhpc-asks-people-not-to-venture-near-chenab-river-for-2-days-from-july-5  (03 July 2022)

DTE बदलती जलवायु से खतरे में पड़े एशिया के ऊंचे पहाड़ों की जलविद्युत परियोजनाएं https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/climate-change/climate-crisis/changing-climate-threatens-asia-s-high-mountain-hydropower-projects-study-83511  (01 July 2022)

Madhya Pradesh Fate of Maheshwar Hydropower project on Narmada.

MoEF Key decisions from the Minutes of the EAC on River Valley Projects held on June 15 2022:

1. Kishau Multipurpose Project 660 MW (4×165 MW) and 97076 Ha, in Chakrata and Shillai tehsil, Dehradun and Sirmaur, District of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh by Kishau Corp Ltd – Terms of Reference: More Info Sought

2. Kopra Medium Irrigation Project (48.43 MCM) in an area of 1044.72 Ha at village Bagaspura Tehsil Rehli, District Sagar, Madhya Pradesh – Terms of Reference: PP absent

3. OA No. 180 of 2021 (SZ) in the matter of Baddam Raji Reddy Vs Union of India before the National Green Tribunal Southern Zone, Chennai regarding change the scope of flood flow canal and Gouravelli reservoir by increasing the capacity of canals and reservoir from 1.410 TMCs to 8.23 TMCs under Re-engineering of Indiramma Flood Canal project in Siddipeta Dist, Telangana: submit the proposal a fresh for terms of reference (ToR) under violation category http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/2806202257406561Finalminutes_29_EAC_River_valley_heldon_15_June_2022.pdf 

Agenda for EAC on River Valley Projects to be held on July 1, 2022:

1. SUKHPURA OFF- STREAM CLOSED LOOP PUMPED STORAGE PROJECT (OCPSP) – 2560 MW at Rawatbhata, Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, by Greenko Energy P Ltd. for TOR Amendment

2. Teesta Low Dam – I & II (Combined) Hydro-Electric Project 71 MW (2×30+1x11MW ) in 170 ha in Triveni town, Tehsil Rangli Rangliot, District Darjeeling by W Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd For TOR http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/_270620225J1E4XQR.pdf 

DAMS

Tamil Nadu Govt constitutes State Committee on Dam Safety The government has constituted a State Committee on Dam Safety and a State Dam Safety Organisation under the provisions of Dam Safety Act, 2021. The Engineer-in-Chief and Chief Engineer (General) of Water Resources Department will be the ex-officio Chairperson of the State Committee, constituted under Sub-section (1) of Section 11 of the Act. The Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department, State Dam Safety Organisation; Chief Engineers of Water Resources Department for Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchi regions; Chief Engineer/Hydro, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd., are members of the panel.

A senior official told The Hindu that Mullaperiyar, being an inter-State dam, would not come under the new panel. But it would be under the purview of the National Dam Safety Authority. According to the National Register of Large Dams, released in June 2019 by the Central Water Commission, of the 5,334 then existing large dams across the country, 118 are in Tamil Nadu. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/govt-constitutes-state-committee-on-dam-safety/article65590263.ece  (02 July 2022)

Polavaram Project Experts inspect damaged Polavaram diaphragm wall A joint team of experts from National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) inspected the extent of damage caused to diaphragm wall of Polavaram dam at the project site in Eluru district on June 28, 2022. NHPC executive director S.L. Kapil, senior official Vipul Nagar (Geophysics), A.K. Bharati (Civil), PPA deputy director Praveen and IIT expert Sandeep, along with AP water resources officials, examined status of the diaphragm wall, which is submerged in Godavari River. They thus assessed the extent of damage based on technical details. Inspection of the damage will continue on Wednesday, June 29. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/280622/experts-inspect-damaged-polavaram-diaphragm-wall.html  (28 June 2022)

Jharkhand Water Resources Dept has sent a notice to TATA Steel and Jusco (Tata Steel Utilities) MD saying that the water that is being released from Chandil dam on Suvarnarekha river is being unauthorisedly sold to 16 other companies linked with Tata Steel, for which Tata Steel has no right. The 15 day notice was given on May 31, but till JUne 27 there was no reply as per this report. https://lagatar.in/illegal-use-of-water-from-chandil-dam-swarnarekha-dam-division-sent-notice-to-16-companies-including-tata-power/  (09 June 2022)

जल संसाधन विभाग ने टाटा स्टील को जो नोटिस भेजा था उसका जवाब एक महीने बीत जाने के बाद भी नहीं मिला है. बता दें कि टाटा स्टील कंपनी पर आरोप है कति चांडिल डैम का पानी अवैध रूप से दूसरे कंपनियों को बेचा है. इसको लेकर विभाग ने 31 मई को नोटिस भेजा दिया था. विभाग ने टाटा कंपनी के अलावे अन्य 15 कंपनियों को भेजा था. नोटिस मे स्वर्णरेखा नदी का पानी बिना अनुमति के उपयोग किये जाने को लेकर कंपनी प्रंबधन को दस्तावेज के साथ जवाब देने को कहा था. लेकिन विभाग की ओर से भेजे गये नोटिस का एक माह गुजर जाने के बाद भी विभाग को अभीतक जवाब नहीं मिला. https://lagatar.in/ranchi-tata-steel-did-not-respond-to-the-notice-chandil-dam-water-issue/  (01 July 2022)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Krishna Water Disputes TN asks A.P. to suspend supply of Krishna water to Chennai from July 1 The Water Resources Department (WRD) has written to the Andhra Pradesh government to suspend Krishna water supply from the Kandaleru reservoir from July 1 as two city reservoirs are filled up. Officials said Chennai has received nearly 2.4 tmcft of Krishna water released from Kandaleru reservoir in Andhra Pradesh since May 8. This was one of the highest quantum to be realised within a short span of time. Though the reservoir at Poondi has only 1.3 tmcft of water, which is nearly one-third of its capacity, the department is not keen on stepping up its storage. The recently-built Thervoykandigai-Kannankottai reservoir is full. “We have asked the Andhra Pradesh authorities to resume water release from September for the next spell,” said an official.

The shutter gates of Chembarambakkam reservoir were opened last week to release water as a precautionary measure when the city received heavy rains. The department let out a small quantum of water on Monday (June 27). Officials said work was on to reconstruct the sluice that releases water to the Institute of Hydraulics and Hydrology, Poondi. “We plan to replace the shutters of the reservoir. The storage in the water body will be increased once these works are finished,” said an official. The combined storage in the five reservoirs, including Cholavaram, was 8.3 tmcft, which is 71% of their capacity as on Monday. This could sustain water supply to Chennai for eight to nine months, the officials added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/tamil-nadu-asks-ap-to-suspend-supply-of-krishna-water-to-chennai-from-july-1/article65572147.ece   (27 June 2022)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

A Case Study of Dispossession in Sahibganj Multi-Modal Terminal Project This report presents a critical analysis of the project, tracing its development since its conception, with emphasis to bring the community’s perspective to the forefront. https://prcindia.in/publications/reports/lost-water-a-case-study-of-dispossession-in-sahibganj-multi-modal-terminal-project/  (27 June 2022)

Delhi-Mathura Waterways हेमा मालिनी के साथ केंद्रीय सड़क परिवहन एवं राजमार्ग मंत्री नितिन गडकरी ने वर्चुअल शिलान्यास करते हुए यमुना की स्वच्छता और दिल्ली से मथुरा तक एक नया जलमार्ग तैयार करने की योजना का शुभारंभ किया। यमुना में प्रदूषण कम करने की परयोजनाओं की जानकारी देते हुए उन्होंने यह भी बताया है कि वाहनों में ग्रीन हाइड्रोजन का उपयोग किया जाएगा, जिससे प्रदूषण कम होगा और पेट्रोल एवं डीजल का उपयोग भी कम किया जाएगा। 11453 करोड़ की लागत से बनने वाला जलमार्ग  देश में काफी प्रभावी होगा।  https://www.thekhabars.com/2022/01/blog-post_72.html  (08 Jan. 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Urban Rivers 2022-Top 10 Govt Actions: pre-occupation with STPs without accountable governance 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. https://sandrp.in/2022/06/30/urban-rivers-2022-top-ten-govt-actions-pre-occupation-with-stps-without-accountable-governance/  (30 June 2022)

India’s Urban Rivers in Crisis in 2022: Top Ten Cases This report highlights top ten cases of the grave crisis faced by India’s Urban Rivers during the past one year. https://sandrp.in/2022/06/29/indias-urban-rivers-in-crisis-in-2022-top-ten-cases/  (29 June 2022)

Arkavathi; Bengaluru Rise & fall of Thippagondanahalli dam -This is the story of how the Thippagondanahalli dam/reservoir (a.k.a Chamarajasagara) on the Arkavathi river rose to prominence as Bengaluru’s drinking water source and 80 years later, became defunct because of pollution and loss of natural river flow. This is also the story of how the Arkavathi river which existed for millennia, was driven to death in the last 100 years.

-With Arkavathi’s death, Thippagondanahalli dam just stood there as a testament to the wanton destruction of the very river that provided us with precious drinking water and not to mention the water for economic progress. While the Arkavathi river’s state of affairs has not changed, Thippagondanahalli dam’s has. It is being restored to hold water from Netravathi, a perennial river 280 kms away in the fragile western ghats. In essence, Thippagondanahalli dam switched rivers: From Arkavathi to Netravathi.

-The history of the Thippagondahalli dam helps us understand, so very clearly, that dams do not mean more water. Rivers that flow do. Thippagondahalli dam on Arkavathi river stands as a living testimony to that. We could either protect and conserve Cauvery, or exploit every drop of her until she goes the Arkavathi way. https://paani.earth/rivers/arkavathi-river/rise-and-fall-of-thippagondanahalli-dam/

RIVERS

Study The delicate balance of river sediments Sediments play a pivotal role in defining river morphology on small scales (such as riverine habitats) and large scales (such as river deltas), as well as in shaping river ecosystems by transporting nutrients and pollutants. Most anthropogenic land use often increases sediment erosion and transport, whereas dam building decreases sediment transport.

In addition, changes in precipitation frequency and intensity—related to climate change—also affect sediment erosion and discharge dynamics. Data concerning these drivers are often lacking but are essential for effective river basin management. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abq6986  (23 June 2022)

BRAHMAPUTRA Assam Economy Of Sand By Sanjoy Hazarika What happens when cities, such as Guwahati, grow with abandon, on the backs of a sand economy? https://www.indiaspend.com/river-reflections/brahmaputras-scowling-sky-and-economy-of-sand-824338  (02 July 2022)

ATREE Opportunity to intern with an innovative project on the Restoration of Tamiraparani River, comprising experts from ATREE for 3-6 months.

To apply, mail your resume along with a statement of purpose to mathi@atree.org by 6th July. https://twitter.com/atree_org/status/1542159975035830273?s=20

SUTLEJ Punjab Proposed mega textile park facing opposition The proposed project site is located near the Mattewara forest and on floodplains of river Sutlej. It touches Mattewara forest from two sides, and also borders river Sutlej on one side. There are fears that the project would not only disturb the biodiversity of the protected forest, but might also lead to chemical discharge from factories into the river. “The project is not going to spell one but multiple ecological disasters. It is not only going to damage Sutlej floodplains but also the biodiversity in Mattewara forest. Thousands of villagers still depend on Sutlej for water for drinking and other needs,” says Jaskirat Singh, a local environmentalist and member of the Public Action Committee (PAC), which is opposing the project.

Despite government’s claim for smooth land acquisition, authorities have not been able to take possession of the ‘acquired’ land at Sekhowal. Whenever officials try to do so, villagers assemble to resist the move. “The Gram Sabha of Sekhowal village has passed a resolution (in July 2020) against this forceful acquiring of their land. They are opposing acquiring 407 acres of fertile land because it is their only source of livelihood. Some villagers have also moved court against it,” said Singh.

A group of residents from Ludhiana have also filed a petition in the NGT against the project. The NGT, during its last hearing on April 8, 2022, constituted a joint committee comprising officials from Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA), district magistrate, Ludhiana and Divisional Forest Officer and asked for a “factual report within two months”. “It is also important that ecology at flood plain zone of river should not get damaged permanently hence we direct that any construction activity if allowed within the flood plain zone of Sutlej, shall be at the risk of the proponent/developer,” said the NGT. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-a-proposed-mega-textile-park-in-ludhiana-pm-mitra-scheme-facing-opposition-7998940/  (30 June 2022)

The Public Action Committee (PAC), which comprises social activists, educationists, ex-servicemen, industrialists and villagers, is vociferously opposing the parks. Accusing the CM of misleading the people, the committee members said the project was sure to violate environmental norms and further pollute the Sutlej river. PAC member and Council of Engineers president Kapil Arora said, “On one hand the CM said that no river pollution would be allowed, and on the other hand dyeing industries, which cause the highest pollution,are slated to be setup at the integrated textile region and apparel parks. If a pollution causing industry is not being established, then why is the government promising to setup a common effluent treatment plant at the parks. Besides, as per the directions of the NGT, construction is not allowed on the floodplains of any river. ”

RTI activist Kuleep Singh Khaira the ill-conceived project was the outcome of a nexus between industrialists and bureaucrats. “If the proposed park is established it will cause irreparable damage to the flora and fauna in the floodplain area and ruin the fragile biodiversity of the Sutlej.”  Jaskirat Singh, a social activist and a chemical expert, said the land in question is in the middle of three protected forests – Mattewara, Jaspal Kadar and Haidar Nagar. “The CM has said nothing new as the previous governments also used to speak about installing CETPs. The decision will damage the floodplain which recharges groundwater. Pollution norms are breached rather than followed in this country. We have a prime example in the shape of the Buddha Nullah,” said Jaskirat Singh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/mega-integrated-textile-region-and-apparel-parks-at-koom-kalan-pac-accuses-punjab-govt-of-reneging-on-its-promise-101656442191770.html  (29 June 2022)

Going by the voices being raised by environmentalists against setting up textile park near Mattewara forest, Punjab assembly speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan has written to state chief minister Bhagwant Mann to look into the matter to save environment from getting polluted and saving Satluj water from getting contaminated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/punjab-assembly-speaker-writes-to-cm-on-mattewara-forest-stresses-on-need-to-save-environment/articleshow/92622622.cms  (02 July 2022)

Punjab Kinnow orchards getting damaged due to pollutants in canal water AAP’s Rajya Sabha member Balbir Singh Seechewal, who is also a member of the monitoring committee of NGT, visited Abohar villages recently to take stock of the drying kinnow orchards. Seechewal, who was accompanied by NGT monitoring committee member Babu Ram, said  said that water in the canals, which are the major source of irrigation and drinking purposes, comes from Harike Headworks in Ferozepur. “Industrial waste gets mixed with Sutlej water, which is further supplied to canals. This chemical-laden water is used for irrigation and over the years it has damaged the kinnow orchards, which have now started drying,” he said, adding that there are many people in these villages who have lost family members due to cancer.

Seechewal said, “We will prepare a report of these villages and necessary steps will be taken. Pollution levels need to be controlled. Soil and water samples of the area will be taken to find out the type of pollutant.” This comes at a time when AAP CM Bhagwant Mann is batting for a textile park near Mattewara forest. While environment activists have said that an industrial plant in such a sensitive ecosystem will harm the flora and fauna of the area and affluents will be released into the Satlej, Mann said that that all green norms will be followed. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/punjab-kinnow-orchards-damaged-water-pollution-aap-mp-8005857/  (03 July 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Ancient idols of Hindu gods and goddesses found carved on a hard rock of a river are becoming the talk of the town with a large number of people visiting the site located in the middle of Darhali River to have a view of these idols. These idols carved on a hard rock are located in the middle of the Darhali River in the Kassian area on the Rajouri-Darhal Road in Fatehpur village. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/kashmir-todays-paper/ancient-idols-found-carved-on-river-rock-in-rajouri  (04 July 2022)

GANGA NMCG set to monetise economic benefits of River Basin The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has called for conducting ‘Water Balance Studies for Ganga River Basin’ for assigning economic value to environmental flow, which could act as trade-off between allocation of water to commercial use and environmental flow. According to NMCG, the idea that the economic values can be monetised and estimates established for environmental services like biodiversity and fisheries. The ministry has called for hiring a global consultant to carry the work.

The ministry’s plan is to have in place a “water accounting dynamic tool” to update the water balance for Ganga River Basin in order to optimize the economic and environmental outcomes from the available water consumed. “An assessment of the gains derived from cascading and coordinate management of water storage in reservoirs, and recommendation of protocols and systems to ensure that these are operated more efficiently leading to the higher economic productivity of available water and improved environmental flow,” the Ganga mission noted.

A total of 373 projects have been sanctioned at a cost of  Rs 30,235 crore This includes 162 projects for sewage treatment of 4948 MLD and a sewer network of 5213 kms sanctioned at a cost of Rs 24,122.70 crore, against which sewage treatment capacity of 989.50 MLD has been created so far. About 95 projects of construction of ghats and crematorium have been sanctioned and 68 have been completed while 17 are under progress. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/jul/02/centre-set-to-monetise-economic-benefits-of-ganga-river-basin-2472010.html  (02 July 2022)

Uttarakhand Hemkund helipad threatens biodiversity, say locals A high-altitude helipad being constructed in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve’s (NDBR) buffer zone, near the Hemkund Sahib gurdwara in Garhwal Himalayas, has begun to face sustained protests from villagers who say that plying of choppers to ferry pilgrims would disturb wildlife and harm the extremely sensitive topography of the region at 13,500ft. They have raised the issue with the Chamoli district administration and threatened a “massive protest” if the construction is not stopped.

Located in Atlakudi, the area is in the buffer zone of the Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO world heritage site, which also houses the Valley of Flowers. The region remains covered by snow for almost eight months and forms one of the finest habitats of Himalayan wildlife, like snow leopards, musk deer, Himalayan bear, along with monals and medicinal herbs (like ‘Himalayan Viagra’) and endemic rare flowers such as blue poppy and Brahmakamal. Moreover, it has many glaciers, a source of several rivers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-at-13500-ft-hemkund-helipad-threatens-biodiversity-say-locals/articleshow/92585336.cms  (01 July 2022)

जैव-विविधता समृद्ध और हिमस्खलन के लिहाज़ से संवेदनशील क्षेत्र में बन रहे हेलीपैड पर उठते सवाल https://hindi.newsclick.in/index.php/Questions-arising-on-the-helipad-being-built-in-the-biodiversity-rich-and-avalanche-sensitive-area  (03 July 2022)

Doon Valley ईको सेंसेटिव जोन के नोटिफिकेशन से निजात चाहती है उत्तराखंड सरकार दून वैली की हरियाली और बायोडायवर्सिटी को बचाने के लिए 34 साल पहले दून वैली ईको सेंसेटिव एरिया की जो अधिसूचना जारी हुई थी, वो अब समाप्त हो सकती है. राज्य सरकार ने इसकी कवायद शुरू कर दी है. सरकार का तर्क है कि यहां विकास की परियोजनाएं एक नोटिफिकेशन के चलते अटक जाती हैं, तो सोशल एक्टिविस्ट इरा चौहान जैसे एक्सपर्ट इस नोटिफिकेशन को खत्म करना दून वैली के लिए खतरनाक बता रहे हैं. https://hindi.news18.com/news/uttarakhand/dehradun-why-pushkar-singh-dhami-govt-wants-to-get-rid-off-from-notification-of-doon-valley-eco-sensitive-zone-4354781.html  (21 June 2022)

बागेश्वर जिले को चमोली जिले से जोड़ने वाली शंभू नदी भूस्खलन के मलबे से पट गई है. शंभू नदी कभी भी बड़ी तबाही मचा सकती है. बागेश्वर जिले के अंतिम गांव कुंवारी से करीब दो किमी आगे भूस्खलन के मलबे से शंभू नदी में झील बन गई है. झील का आकार दिन प्रतिदिन बढ़ता जा रहा है. अगर समय रहते मामले का संज्ञान नहीं लिया गया तो बरसात या उससे पहले बड़ा हादसा हो सकता है.

शंभू नदी बोरबलड़ा गांव के समीप शंभू ग्लेशियर से निकलती है. नदी कुंवारी गांव से करीब पांच किमी आगे पिंडारी ग्लेशियर से निकलने वाली पिंडर नदी में मिल जाती है. ग्रामीणों के अनुसार, झील बोरबलड़ा के तोक भराकांडे से करीब चार किमी और कुंवारी गांव की तलहटी से करीब दो किमी दूर कालभ्योड़ नामक स्थान पर बनी है जहां से करीब चार किमी आगे जाकर शंभू नदी पिंडर में मिल जाती है. शंभू नदी में बनी झील टूटी तो भारी मात्रा में पानी और मलबा बहेगा जो आगे जाकर पिंडर में मिलकर और शक्तिशाली बन जाएगा. https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttarakhand/bharat/flow-of-shambhu-river-stopped-in-bageshwar-due-to-landslide/na20220627184435047047116  (27 June 2022)

Uttar Pradesh Plan for Ganga riverfront State Govt’s Rs 5.50-lakh crore annual budget was tabled on May 26,  of which — Rs 500 crore was for a 4-lane road in Varanasi (“in the opposite side of the Ganga ghat”) aimed at streamlining the flow of people visiting the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the river bank for the evening aarti. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/an-8-km-elevated-road-3-finger-bridges-to-ghats-up-govt-comes-up-with-plan-to-transform-ganga-riverfront-7961450/  (10 June 2022)

YAMUNA Gurugram 5 Illegal dyeing units polluting Yamuna sealed The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) on Monday prepared a list of illegal dyeing units in the district and sealed five of them for violating pollution norms. The factories were found discharging effluents into the drains, which empty out in the Yamuna. The units that were sealed were functioning from Basai, Bajghera, Daultabad, Suraj Nagar and Dhankot. Officials said most of these dyeing units neither had the ‘consent to operate’ certificates nor effluent treatment plants on the premises. Water discharged by such units, they added, is high in ammonia and phosphates compounds, which are not only toxic for aquatic life but also contaminate the groundwater.

The move comes at a time the pollution board found that around 400 MLD of untreated sewage had been making its way into the Yamuna in Faridabad. HSPCB then directed all the districts to launch an immediate action plan to ensure effluents were not directly discharged into the drains. Apart from the respective plans of the districts, the pollution board has now formed three special surveillance teams to crack down on illegal dyeing units. Each team has three members. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/illegal-dyeing-units-polluting-yamuna-five-sealed-in-gurugram/articleshow/92506742.cms  (28 June 2022)

Sonipat HSPCB has repatriated Assistant Environment Engineer (AEE) posted at its regional office in Sonepat to his home department Municipal Corporation (MC), Panipat, and ordered disciplinary action against the regional officer (RO) concerned reportedly for not taking action against illegal denim dyeing units in the Kundli and Kharkhoda area of the district. Varun Gulati, a Delhi-based environmentalist, had filed a complaint against the RO, Sonepat, and AEE on the online portal of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) demanding action against them for not initiating action against the illegal denim dyeing units. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/hspcb-acts-against-two-officials-for-inaction-against-illegal-units-409025  (03 July 2022)

Delhi Less water in Yamuna, canals to affect supply: DJB The water level in he Wazirabad pond stood at 666.8 feet as against the normal of 674.5 feet. Besides less water is being received from Haryana through the Carrier Lined Canal (CLC) and the Delhi Sub Branch (DSB), the utility said. The DJB’s water supply capacity increased to 990 MGD earlier this year, but the utility has not been able to touch this mark for over a month, primarily due to Haryana releasing less water in the river, according to officials. The utility had on June 18 written another letter, the ninth time since April 30, requesting Haryana to release water from the Somb, a tributary of the Yamuna, in addition to increasing the flow in the river and the two canals.

CM Arvind Kejriwal had earlier this month requested Haryana to release additional water in the Yamuna on humanitarian grounds. The city requires around 1,380 MGD of water, while the DJB supplies around 990 MGD. Haryana supplies a total of 610 million gallons of water a day to Delhi through two canals — CLC (368 MGD) and DSB (177) — and the Yamuna (65 MGD). Besides, Delhi receives 253 MGD from Uttar Pradesh through the Upper Ganga Canal, and the rest is drawn from ranney wells and tube wells installed across the city. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/less-water-in-yamuna-canals-to-affect-supply-in-delhi-delhi-jal-board/articleshow/92553407.cms  (29 June 2022)

The water level in Yamuna on Wednesday (June 29) was measured at 666.80 feet – the lowest since 1965 – the DJB said, warning water supply will remain hit across several areas in north, west, central, south Delhi as well as locations in NDMC. Delhi faces a demand-supply gap of over 380 million gallons of water every day. With the low availability of water from the Yamuna, the main source of water for the Capital, the gap may have widened to 465MGD. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/yamuna-water-level-lowest-since-1965-most-areas-to-face-crisis-101656527881928.html  (30 June 2022)

Amid monsoon rains when Yamuna should be flowing with adequate flood waters, the river is seen frothing massively at ITO barrage today (July 02, 2022) morning. Untreated effluents reportedly entering river via Rajghat drain, couple of gates of ITO barrage out of work aggravating the flood situation. Sadly, this is happening after 1year of Delhi govt banning sale, storage, transportation, marketing of soaps, detergents not conforming to latest BIS standards to curb pollution in the Yamuna river. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/delhi-bans-soaps-detergents-not-conforming-to-latest-bis-standards-to-curb-yamuna-pollution-11623683524784.html   (14 June 2021)

CEEW @CEEWIndia:- Toxic foam in the Yamuna & poor airquality have become recurring problems during Delhi winters. What on Earth! urges to create a democratic demand for a pollution free Delhi. https://twitter.com/CEEWIndia/status/1460838743967875073?s=20&t=FKHjFIlFuZAEClRsBUFIKA   (17 Nov. 2021)

SAND MINING

Jammu & Kashmir The Abusive Case of EC Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat THE principal bench of the NGT recently shot a one month notice to the J&K Environment Impact Assessment Authority (JKEIAA) as Environmental Clearance (EC) granted by them for riverbed mining in Shali Ganga in Budgam was violating all the environmental laws and guidelines of JKEIAA. This author was forced to move an appeal before the NGT as both JKEIAA and Project Proponent failed to act over repeated requests to stop illegal mining in Shali Ganga which has been looted and plundered for last six months.

The fact is the mining contracts given across J&K are all illegal. Without environmental impact assessment the RBM cannot be undertaken by any project proponent. Many contractors and companies who had applied for the environmental clearance (EC) for undertaking river bed mining in different rivers, nallahs and streams in J&K could not get requisite clearance as they didn’t fulfil the required criteria.

Is it necessary that people have to seek judicial intervention or file petitions of appeals before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) when it comes to protecting our rivers and waterbodies? How many people can do that? What are our Govt officials doing? Don’t they read rules and regulations that govern riverbed mining in J&K? The NOCs granted by Irrigation, Flood Control, Pollution Control Board, Fisheries department and other authorities are totally flawed. Shali Ganga like Doodh Ganga is not fit for riverbed mining and in fact the entire tendering process is illegal. https://kashmirobserver.net/2022/05/30/the-abusive-case-of-environmental-clearance-in-kashmir/  (30 May 2022)

Budgam Karewas Plundered Dr Raja Muzaffar Despite its geological, agricultural and archaeological importance, karewas are now being excavated to be used in filling wetland areas and used at construction sites. Between 1995 and 2005, massive portions of karewas in Pulwama, Budgam and Baramulla districts were razed to the ground for clay for the 125-km-long Qazigund-Baramulla rail line. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/op-ed/budgam-karewas-plundered  (05 June 2022)

Protest against stone mining in Doodh Ganga The residents of Sogam , Madbal and adjoining villagers in central Kashmir’s Chadoora held a protest against some officials for allegedly facilitating environmental destruction by way of illegal stone mining in Doodh Ganga river . The locals alleged that some officials of Irrigation and Flood Control , Geology and Mining and Revenue Department were facilitating illegal mining by allowing illegal works which have no mention in the DPR. as per norms set under detailed project report (DRR).  https://www.greaterkashmir.com/kashmir/protest-against-stone-mining-in-doodh-ganga  (17 Feb. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Centre CIL asks MoEF to include 5 coal mine pit lakes According to the official release from the Ministry, with the support of the relevant state governments and the MoEF&CC, CIL has decided to undertake the conservation of five coal mine pit lakes, in an attempt of which it has sought the inclusion of such pit lakes in the prestigious Ramsar List for wetland conservation. The five coal mine pit lakes are said to be located in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The government-run coal mining and refining company is currently in the process of preparing the Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS) in order to proceed with conservation efforts.

In addition to the efforts of CIL, the Ministry is partnering with the World Bank and the German International Cooperation agency- GIZ, among other international organisations to repurpose the abandoned mining sites so that they are secure, ecologically sound, and fit for proper commercial use in the future. The Ministry also stated that, with the support of international organisations, the reclaimed land would be used for commercial activities such as solar parks, tourism, sports, forestry, agriculture, horticulture, and townships in the coming future. https://www.businesstoday.in/industry/energy/story/coal-ministry-asks-environment-dept-to-include-five-coal-mine-pit-lakes-339697-2022-06-29  (29 June 2022)

West Bengal Poisoned wetlands, toxic fish Heavy metal pollution is poisoning the East Kolkata wetlands, affecting fish and posing a threat to the health of humans who depend on this fish for their food. Urgent action is needed!  https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/poisoned-wetlands-toxic-fish  (27 June 2022)

Bihar Govt to make health card of 133 wetlands The environment, forest and climate change (DEFCC) department has identified 133 water bodies to prepare documents and ‘ecosystem health report card’ to provide them legal protection under the Wetland Protection Rules. The Bihar State Wetland Authority (SWA) has started the survey work on the wetlands spread over more than 100 hectares with focus on three areas – area of the wetland, hydrology and catchments, biodiversity and governance. The imaging of such wetlands was done with the help of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The wetlands will be examined in different phases by the forest officials, environmentalists, wetland and water experts.

Surendra Singh, director of ecology, said 28 water bodies have been surveyed in the first phase and 36 other wetlands have been identified for the survey. “Altogether 133 water bodies located in 26 districts, mostly in north Bihar, will be surveyed. In this survey, we have selected only the wetlands which are spread in an area of 100 hectares. Other water bodies will also be surveyed on different parameters later on,” he added.

The ecosystem health score between 1 and 0.91 is considered ‘very good’ (rank A), 0.90 and 0.81 ‘good’ (B), 0.80 and 0.71 ‘moderate’ (C), 0.70 and 0.61 ‘low’ (D), and 0.60 and below ‘very low’ (E). Of 133 wetlands, maximum 14 is in Vaishali, 12 each in East Champaran, Samastipur and Katihar, 10 each in Saran and Darbhanga, eight in Siwan, seven each in Khagaria and Muzaffarpur, six in Saharsa and five each in Banka and Jamui. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/govt-to-make-health-card-of-133-wetlands/articleshow/92215024.cms  (15 June 2022)

Uttar Pradesh बलिया: उच्च शिक्षा एवं आइटी-इलेक्ट्रॉनिक्स मंत्री योगेन्द्र उपाध्याय ने बुधवार (June 15) को जननायक चंद्रशेखर विश्वविद्यालय में हो रहे निर्माण कार्यों का निरीक्षण किया। उन्होंने प्रोजेक्ट की देरी पर पीडब्ल्यूडी के अधिशासी अभियंता विजय सिंह और कार्यदायी संस्था की क्लास ली। कहा कि निर्माण कार्य के लिए शासन से धन मिलने के बाद प्रगति तेज हो जानी चाहिए। चेतावनी दी कि कार्य में तत्काल तेजी लाएं। https://m.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/ballia-accelerate-the-construction-of-the-university-the-ministers-warning-22806795.html  (15 June 2022)

Study Recording mangrove damage from cyclones in the Sundarbans In two separate studies, scientists have harnessed satellite images to capture changes in the Sundarbans mangroves and the shores that harbour them, following cyclones. Remote sensing using satellite images can help long-term monitoring and tracking changes in the health of such ecosystems. Eroding shorelines have different features that must be accounted for in mangrove forest management, say researchers. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/recording-mangrove-damage-from-cyclones-in-the-sundarbans/  (27 June 2022)

Commentary Is expansion of aquaculture in Sundarbans an ecological threat? The rapid expansion of aquaculture in the Indian Sundarbans is bringing huge profits to some while short-changing the local communities of their right to a sustainable future. Salinisation is not the foremost driver of rapid aquaculture expansion in the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve. In this commentary, Shaberi Das and Sugata Hazra discuss the economic incentives that lead to the conversion of agriculture to aquaculture in the Indian Sundarbans. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/04/commentary-is-expansion-of-aquaculture-in-the-indian-sundarbans-an-ecological-threat-or-a-pathway-to-sustainable-development/  (20 May 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Meghalaya Rejuvenate water bodies in every district: HC The High Court issued an order on Monday (June 27) directing the rejuvenation of water bodies in every district under a central scheme. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/06/28/rejuvenate-water-bodies-in-every-district-hc/  (28 June 2022)

Haryana Nearly 1.2K farmers switch to alternative crops in Karnal The “Mera Pani Meri Virasat” initiative of the state government is getting a good response in paddy growing Karnal district as around 1,200 farmers have shunned paddy crop and switched to alternative crops like maize, arhar, moong, oilseeds and vegetables by registering themselves for these crops with the agriculture and horticulture departments.

With an aim to shifting the farmers to other crops from paddy, the state government had launched the “Mera Pani Meri Virasat” scheme, under which farmers are given Rs 7,000 per acre for adopting alternative crops instead of paddy. They have to register themselves on the portal of the department and later after verification, the farmers are given incentive. Both Agriculture and Horticulture Departments were given a target to switch 5,600 acres of paddy land to other alternative crops. Out of its target of 4,350 acres, the Agriculture Department has so far achieved success in converting 3851 acres to other crops, while of its target of 1,250 acres, the Horticulture Department got converted 509 acres to other crops. “We have achieved a target of 89 per cent and are hopeful we will achieve the remaining target before the deadline of June 30,” said Aditya Dabas, Deputy Director Agriculture (DDA). https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/nearly-1-2k-farmers-switch-to-alternative-crops-in-karnal-406699  (25 June 2022)

Opinion Farm ponds as agent of rural transformation S Adikesavan After the construction of farm ponds, farmers cultivate more land, and their fields are occupied for a longer duration. An initiative has transformed agriculture in the Hubli-Dharwad area in North Karnataka and Telangana under the initiative of an NGO, the Deshpande Foundation, with awareness creation among farmers, CSR spends by corporates, focused lending by banks like SBI and support of institutions like NABARD. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/farm-ponds-as-an-agent-of-rural-transformation/article65576494.ece  (28 June 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Centre’s deadline expires, but Karnataka yet to wake up Over two months ago CGWA set the June 30 deadline for all bulk users of groundwater to register. However, in 16 states and UTs including Karnataka, it was the state govt that was to take up this procedure as in these states, a state groundwater authority existed as per the Sept 2020 notification from CGWA following a series of orders from NGT. However, Karnataka is yet to start work on this. Even existing rules are enough, but no action has been taken against the defaulters. Karnataka is still discussing the rules with departments, formulated following model act sent by the centre. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/groundwater-use-centres-deadline-expires-but-state-yet-to-wake-up-1122532.html  (29 June 2022)

Rajasthan Groundwater overexploited in 71% blocks  At present, out of 285 blocks, 203 blocks in the state are overexploited in terms of water and it is expected to cause more problems in coming years. This shows that groundwater has been overexploited in 71.22% blocks. Pali, Jodhpur, Jalore, Sirohi are at present suffering from the worst water crisis. People are supplied water through a special water train which is not sufficient to satisfy such a vast population. According to the data provided by the officials in PHED Rajasthan has 5.5% population share in the country but the water resources share is just 1.1%.

In the available water resources, 85% agriculture in the state is dependent on ground water while 65% of drinking and industrial water requirements are met through groundwater. As the population is increasing, connecting all houses through water taps the pressure on the already available resources is also rising. In Jaipur, there is a rule to have rainwater harvesting in every plot with more than 300 sq feet area. This has however never been implemented in the city properly. At present, Jaipur, Tonk and Ajmer are completely dependent on Bisalpur dam which is filled through rainwater. One year of bad monsoon can put all the three districts on an alert. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/groundwater-overexploited-in-71-blocks-in-rajasthan-shows-govt-data/articleshow/91801611.cms  (26 May 2022)

Punjab Rainwater must be tapped optimally in urban & rural areas: Farm unions A pilot project must be initiated to recharge the groundwater, and rainwater must be tapped optimally in both urban and rural areas, according to 22 farmers’ organisations of Punjab. They were speaking at a convention on ‘serious water crisis, its cause and solution’ at Jalandhar’s Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall on Saturday (June 25). The meeting also discussed the issue of giving ownership rights to cultivators. The 22 farm outfits, which are also part of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, said that Punjab today is in deep water because of the faulty policies of the previous governments which could not manage its groundwater, river water and rainwater. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/rainwater-must-be-tapped-optimally-in-urban-rural-areas-farm-unions-7991762/  (26 June 2022)

URBAN WATER

Indore What Makes Narmada Water Project One of the Costliest? By Vaishnavi Rathore Since the 1970s, three phases of the Narmada Project have been supplying drinking water to Indore city and a few villages along the way.

Water from the Narmada River is lifted from Mandaleshwar, from where it is taken to Indore while supplying water to multiple villages [pinned in yellow] along the way | Map by Vaishnavi Rathore

As the Indore Municipal Corporation gears up to launch Phase 4 of the Project, Part 1 of The Bastion’s series highlights why its financial infeasibility begs a relook at Indore’s water supply channels. https://thebastion.co.in/politics-and/environment/resource-management/what-makes-indores-narmada-project-one-of-the-costliest-in-the-country/  (28 June 2022)

Hyderabad Retain curbs in GO 111: Activists to HC The Telangana high court on Thursday (June 30) allowed environmental activists to challenge GO MS No. 69, which is considered the latest threat to the environment around twin lakes Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar, on the outskirts of Greater Hyderabad. With its restrictions on high rises and pollutant enterprises within 10km radius of the twin lakes, GO 111 has been protecting the area from getting environmentally degraded in the past 25-years.

Though this new GO also talks about ‘to be framed guidelines’ to protect the twin lakes, the area will become a concrete jungle and would attain an irreversible situation by the time the guidelines arrive. Since the state in its GO 69 spoke of forming a committee to prepare guidelines to protect the twin lakes, the state should be directed to retain the restrictions on the GO 111 areas and no decision should be taken to relax the norms till a clarity is arrived at by experts, senior counsel KS Murthy, appearing for the petitioners, said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/retain-curbs-in-go-111-activists-to-telangana-hc/articleshow/92585984.cms  (01 July 2022)

Bengaluru The tale of two Byrasandra lakes The restoration work being carried out at Kelagina Kere, also known as Lower Byrasandra lake, in east Bengaluru will get over by next month, said officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Originally spread over 12.21 acre, 3.95 acre of the water body was encroached by residential outlets, a tech park and defence establishment. According to sources, a portion of the lake encroached by the private tech park has been finally taken over by the BBMP. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/byrasandra-lakes-bengaluru-restoration-bbmp-encroachment-8005638/  (03 July 2022)

Kozhikode Residents oppose STP construction New Sewage Plant in Kozhikode faces stiff opposition from the Public. At least 500 Families have taken part in the Protest to show disagreement with the Project. The situation took an uglier turn when the protesters started to block the roads, Forcing the Police to Lathi charge the Public in order to resist the roadblock. The Locals have come up to oppose the sewage plan which is under construction right now in a small stream as according to them a lot of waste will be dumped in the river, it will not just pollute the river but might also cause health issues in the people living around. https://www.timesnownews.com/videos/mirror-now/society/kozhikode-sewage-plant-protest-water-pollution-alarm-raised-by-protestors-latest-news-mirror-now-video-92621420 (2 July 2022)

Mumbai Lakhs of litres of groundwater extracted daily without NoC Major infrastructure and redevelopment projects and several government offices and clubs in Mumbai have been using lakhs of litres of groundwater daily through water tankers for several years now. However, neither the tanker owners nor well owners have any NoC from the central groundwater authorities to extract and sell it for commercial or public purposes.

The documents obtained by groundwater activist Sureshkumar Dhoka, mainly through RTI, suggest that so far the Central Groundwater Authority (CGWA) has not extended powers to any state agency to issue NoCs to well and tanker owners and fine them in case of breach of law. This is because the state water supply and sanitation department is yet to frame its own rules in line with the CGWA guidelines. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/lakhs-of-litres-of-groundwater-extracted-daily-without-noc/articleshow/92094083.cms (9 June 2022)

Lucknow leads in overexploitation of groundwater in Uttar Pradesh with an average of 3.5 million litres of groundwater extracted per one square km which is alarming, to put it rather mildly. Scientists feel that over-exploitation of groundwater may turn the earth water deficient in the coming years. According to a survey conducted by a former hydrologist of the UP groundwater department, R S Sinha, “A total of 1,391 million of litre per day (mld) of groundwater is extracted, of which 356 mld is extracted by tubewells as per the data of UP Jal Sansthan, while the rest of the extraction of about 1,035 mld is for use in commercial buildings, hospitals, flats and others which are not mapped.” https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/lucknow-leads-in-over-exploitation-of-ground-water-in-uttar-pradesh-122042200508_1.html  (22 April 2022)

Dehradun 92 out of 97 water samples ‘unsafe’ As many as 92 out of the 97 water samples collected from different wards of Dehradun failed the lab test conducted recently by the Society of Pollution & Environment Conservation Scientists (SPECS), a city-based non-profit organisation. The water samples were collected from May 1 to June 25 from different wards of the Dehradun Municipal Corporation by Jal Praharis (volunteers) of SPECS.

Speaking on the report, Brijmohan Sharma, senior scientist and founder of SPECS, said, “VIPs are consuming super-chlorinated water which is actually carcinogenic. On the other hand, the lower strata of the Doon Valley are being supplied e-coli-laden water which leads to fatal diseases like hepatitis, vomiting diarrhoea and cholera,” said Brijmohan Sharma, senior scientist and founder of SPECS. Meanwhile, the chlorine content was found as per norms in only localities — Inder Road, Madrasi Colony, Tapkeshwar marg, Poorv Patelnagar and Canal Road. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/92-out-of-97-water-samples-from-dehradun-unsafe/articleshow/92558178.cms  (30 June 2022) 

Uttarakhand -बहते पानी के रास्ते में खड़े होते शहर https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL9UHvg5vqQ  (27 June 2022)

पानी के ये रास्ते बरसात में बाढ़ रोकने, बाकी मौसम में भूजल रीचार्ज का प्राकृतिक विकल्प थे. https://hindi.newslaundry.com/2022/06/27/uttarakhand-canal-natural-water-flooding-rainy-season-groundwater  (27 June 2022)

Dimapur DMC dumping site: NGT notice to State NGT Eastern Zone bench, Kolkata has given four weeks’ time to the State government, Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC), Deputy Commissioner Dimapur and Nagaland Pollution Control Board (NPCB) to respond to a petition filed by Sunrise Colony, Burma Camp Dimapur in connection with dumping of solid waste and other wastes at the dumping site near the colony. After hearing the petition on July 1, through video conferencing, NGT bench stated that the matter required consideration and therefore, directed the respondents to file para-wise reply within four weeks and listed the next date of hearing on August 2, 2022.

The applicant (Sunrise Colony), alleged that dumping solid waste and other wastes at the dumping site was in complete violation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. It alleged that the dumping site was ill-maintained and located in the low-lying area which percolates and contaminates the ground water resources through leaching, which has direct effect on the life and health of the residents including flora and fauna. The applicant also alleged that plastic, rubber and other toxic materials were being burnt openly leading to toxic smell in the air. https://www.nagalandpost.com/index.php/dmc-dumping-site-ngt-notice-to-state/ (3 July 2022)

NCR बंधवारी: कचरे के पहाड़ के साए में जीवन पारिस्थितिक रूप से संवेदनशील अरावली में स्थित बंधवारी लैंडफिल में गुरुग्राम और फरीदाबाद से प्रतिदिन 2000 टन कचरा डाला जाता है। यहां इतना कचरा इकट्ठा हो गया है कि आज इसकी ऊंचाई 40 मीटर से अधिक हो गई है। https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiKYFNrF1Uk  (30 June 2022)

देश में कचरा प्रबंधन की तीन सफल मिसाल https://hindi.mongabay.com/2022/02/14/plasticities-the-role-of-grassroot-initiatives-to-manage-waste-in-cities/  (14 Feb. 2022)

Can a waste-to-energy plant address piling concerns from a landfill site? https://india.mongabay.com/2022/07/video-can-a-waste-to-energy-plant-address-piling-concerns-from-a-landfill-site/  (01 July 2022)

Panchkula Four days after water supply was disrupted in Sector 15 due to fire incidents, around 20,000 residents continue to be on the receiving end, with pipes either bringing muddy water or the supply down to a trickle due to low pressure. Authorities say damage to an underground cable of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam is to blame for the water crisis in the area, and that water from tubewells was being supplied to houses in the meantime. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/four-days-on-muddy-water-low-water-pressure-continue-to-torment-sector-15-residents-in-chandigarh-101656796426461.html  (03 July 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

Gujarat Surat villagers complain about water pollution by textile mills Congress leaders along with residents of Parab village in Surat have complained to district collector Ayush Oak and Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) officials about untreated waste being discharged from textile mills into the Kadodara creek in Kamrej. Parab village in Kamrej taluka of the district, which has a population of 2,000 people, has witnessed such untreated waste discharge into the creek for a long time, and the villagers have been knocking on the door of every government department seeking action. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/surat/surat-congress-leaders-villagers-complain-water-pollution-textile-mills-7971646/  (15 June 2022)

WATER

USA’s PBS (Public Broadcast Service) TV featured a news report about Ice stupas in Ladakh on June 29, 2022 which also has quotes from SANDRP coordinator.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGbXcRwtyyU  (30 June 2022)

By Cartoonist Alok @caricatured. https://twitter.com/caricatured/status/1541675890794446850?s=20&t=FKHjFIlFuZAEClRsBUFIKA

AGRICULTURE

Opinion This year has been a rude awakening. Generations’ worth of knowledge was not enough to prepare us for the climate crisis in my village by Ajay Vir Jakhar https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/a-farmer-encounter-with-climate-change-8003768/  (02 July 2022)

MONSOON 2022

SANDRP Blog June 2022: District wise rainfall in SW Monsoon In the just concluded month June 2022, the first month of India’s South West 2022 monsoon, India received 152.3 mm rainfall, 8% below the normal June rainfall of 165.3 mm as per India Meteorological department. In June 2021, the rainfall was 182.9 mm, about 11% above normal and in June 2020, the rainfall was 196.9 mm, or about 18% above normal and in June 2019 it was 33% below normal.

However, the rainfall has been far from normal this month. Till June 14, the rainfall at national level was below normal on every single day, highest deficit being 68% on June 8. In fact the cumulative monsoon deficit kept going up till June 11, when it was 43%. Between June 15 and June 21, it poured so fiercely that the cumulative monthly deficit became zero by June 21. Daily rainfall was again in deficit from June 23 to June 29, turning in positive zone only on last day of the month, when the day rainfall was second highest of the month at 10.2 mm, the highest being 10.8 mm on June 19. https://sandrp.in/2022/06/30/june-2022-district-wise-rainfall-in-in-indias-sw-monsoon/  (30 June 2022)

Explainer How does the Indian monsoon develop? https://india.mongabay.com/2022/05/explainer-how-does-the-indian-monsoon-develop/  (30 May 2022)

FLOOD 2022

Assam  Why northeast floods are getting grimmer According to Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP, though, embankments are short-term solutions that are most efficient at the time they are built, losing their ability to perform with the passage of time. Embankments along the river have made the problem worse, because the silt gets deposited within them, making it even more shallow,” he said. “When the river breaches one of the embankments, it’s catastrophic because of how the water rushes out.” https://theprint.in/science/another-year-another-deluge-in-assam-why-northeast-floods-are-getting-grimmer/1020323/  (02 July 2022)

Criticising the government approach towards flood management in the region by constructing embankments, independent researcher Mirza Zulfiqar Rahman said, “Flood management in this region means constructing embankments which are nothing but merrymaking for contractors. Since the 1950 earthquake, we are constructing risks (embankments and dams) in the landscape without properly mapping the floodplains. Even small dams like Kopili, Ronganodi and Umrangshu can create huge havoc.” https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/unprecedented-flood-cripples-assam-massive-loss-of-life-and-property-reported/  (30 June 2022)

फूलमती जो असम के udalguri ज़िले के एक गाँव में रहती हैं, 16 जून को भूटान की तरफ़ से आए flood के सैलाब में इनका सब कुछ बह गया https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDD3-V9DBso  (04 July 2022)

Located in the Barak valley in Assam, the 150-bed Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre has been inundated by for days.  https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/at-flooded-cancer-hospital-in-assam-chemotherapy-given-on-road-3104595  (27 June 2022)

Assam’s floods come in multiple waves usually starting from the pre-monsoon period in April. In some years, the fourth wave hits the state as late as September. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/flooded-move-rebuild-repeat/articleshow/92468559.cms  (26 June 2022)

A police station was seen sinking into a river in one of the many scenes of devastation in Assam caused by the worst floods in years. A big chunk of the two-storey building in the Nalbari district submerged after the erosion of Brahmaputra river banks. Nalbari is among the districts where large scale erosion has been reported.  https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/assam-flood-police-station-sinks-into-river-in-flood-hit-state-3109693  (28 June 2022)

Nine days after Silchar saw its worst flood, water lies stagnant, power supply is still out at some places, officials are struggling with rescue, and people have questions over if things will ever change. https://indianexpress.com/article/express-exclusive/down-a-town-on-a-boat-with-a-body-8005726/  (03 July 2022)

A reporter’s account from Silchar, a city that was swamped by the massive floods in Assam https://www.livemint.com/politics/news/marooned-notes-from-a-relief-camp-11656523570409.html  (30 June 2022)

Bihar After 54 years, River Mahananda at Taibpur level forecast site in Kishanganj district has breached old HFL (67.22 m attained on 10.08.1968) setting up new HFL 67.26 m at 07:00 hours on 29.06.2022. New HFL is 0.04 metre higher than old HFL. The flood level stayed over old HFL for 04:00 hours. The river is still flowing in SEVERE FLOOD condition.

URBAN FLOOD

Chandigarh Rainwater flow affected, choes to be cleaned With heavy rain yesterday leaving the tail-end of drainage pipes fully submerged in choes, thereby hampering the flow of water, the authorities have decided to get the courses cleaned. Besides, city’s storm water drainage system does not have enough capacity to handle high volume of rain. While, the city yesterday witnessed 68.2 mm rainfall in two hours, the drainage system has been designed to handle 15mm/hr rainfall in the northern sectors and 20mm/hr in the southern. All drains further discharge into N-Choe, Sukhna Choe and Patiala-ki-Rao. “Due to heavy rain yesterday, the choes ran full, submerging the tailend of drainage pipes. As a result, water started building up at the back end. That is why, water could not drain out,” MC Chief Engineer NP Sharma reasoned during the MC House meeting yesterday.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/rainwater-flow-affected-ut-choes-to-be-cleaned-408771  (02 July 2022)

Chennai Tweet chat on the need for a city-specific climate action plan for Chennai. https://twitter.com/citizenmatters/status/1542500812760354816?s=20&t=V7_5kkGlomRinWZgwLKEtQ  (30 June 2022)

Mumbai The cost of setting shop in the flood prone area of Hindmata junction https://mumbai.citizenmatters.in/hindmata-junction-mumbai-flooding-bmc-33592 (4 Jul 2022)

DROUGHT

Jammu & Kashmir Is J&K Headed Towards a Drought Year & Water Crisis? By Faizan Arif Keng In 2020, J&K recorded 979.1mm of rainfall against an average rainfall of 1258.7mm. There was a deficit of 22%. In 2021, the deficiency reached 29% when the UT recorded just about 894.4mm of rainfall. It was the lowest rainfall since 2010. In the first five months of 2022, J&K recorded a rain deficiency of 38%. Against a normal rainfall of 559.2mm, J&K received only 345.4mm of rainfall between January 01 and May 31. In comparison, 34% deficiency was witnessed in 2020 and 11.5% in 2021 for the same time period. Between June and September 2020, 34% deficient rainfall was recorded in J&K and 29% in 2021. In fact, from March to May 2022, the UT received only 99.5mm of rainfall, which is the lowest Spring rainfall since 2005.

The deficient annual rainfall in 2020 and 2021, especially in the initial five months of the year, led to reduced cover of glaciers. The pattern proceeded this year when the UT received the highest deficient rainfall in recent 3 years. Not just this, an extreme heatwave impacted parts of Jammu and Kashmir in March and April. Temperatures on several days remained above-normal in the range of 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Srinagar recorded its warmest March in at least 131 years. Similar conditions were recorded in other parts of the erstwhile state. This resulted in the rapid melting of glaciers. Jhelum at Ram Munshi Bagh touched 9.86 feet on 17 March, which was just 6 feet below the ‘flood alarm’ level. In April, Jhelum, nallahs and springs witnessed an extensive decrease in water levels. By May-end, some small Nallahs had dried up completely. https://kashmirobserver.net/2022/07/01/is-jk-headed-towards-a-drought-year-and-water-crisis/  (01 July 2022)

LANDSLIDES

SANDRP Blog Manipur’s Ejei river blocking landslide at under construction railway line involved violations, no EIA, NGT pending case 18 Territorial Army personnel among 24 people were killed in a massive landslide in Manipur’s Noney district on Wednesday (June 29, 2022), and at least another 40, including 18 soldiers, are feared trapped or buried in the rubble of an under-construction railway yard. An adjoining construction camp and security camp engulfed in the avalanche of rock and mud. The Railway line is under construction since a decade. https://sandrp.in/2022/07/02/manipurs-ejei-river-blocking-landslide-at-under-construction-railway-line-involved-violations-no-eia-ngt-pending-case/  (02 July 2022)

The image shows extensive slope works being undertaken at Tupul – this is for the construction of the Jiribam to Imphal railway line, which is planned to be completed by December 2023.  Some of the works shown in the image appear to demonstrate questionable construction approaches, including large amounts of sediment being released into the river system. The main part of the SW summer monsoon will occur over the coming weeks.  A key concern right now must be the stability of the other cut slopes at this site. Finally, it goes without saying that this landslide should be investigated independently and in a transparent manner, with the outcomes published and lessons learnt. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2022/07/04/tupul-1/  (04 July 2022)

Manipur Land slide: 14 people killed and 60 others are feared trapped after a massive landslide hit a railway construction site in the Noney district of western Manipur. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/manipur-landslide-so-far-14-people-killed-over-60-feared-trapped-as-rescue-operation-continues-at-railway-construction-site/videoshow/92587255.cms  (01 July 2022) The massive debris has blocked the Ejai River, creating a reservoir that may inundate low-lying areas, according to the Noney Deputy Commissioner. https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/manipur/manipur-landslide-noney-biren-singh-8000610/  (30 June 2022) The North East Frontier Railway said incessant heavy rain for the past few days caused the hillock adjacent to the Tupul station yard to give way. “The under-construction Tupul station building, track formation and camps of construction workers got damaged as a result of the massive landslide,” the NFR said. The site of the accident is around 4km from the highway and about 50km from capital Imphal. https://www.telegraphindia.com/north-east/eight-persons-dead-over-40-missing-in-manipur-landslide/cid/1872577 (01 July 2022) https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/manipur-at-least-one-dead-several-missing-due-to-massive-landslide-101656566706066.html  (30 June 2022)

Meghalaya Devastating landslides and flash floods leave 34 dead While the state government has blamed the unprecedented rain for the landslides and flooding, experts and those on the ground say otherwise. They blamed administrative failure, illegal construction, unregulated mining and structural problems for aggravating the situation. https://scroll.in/article/1026977/meghalayas-record-rainfall-triggers-devastating-landslides-and-flash-floods-leaving-34-dead   (27 June 2022)

Uttarakhand 5 fold increase in landslide-prone areas in Doon Valley A comparison between the data received from the geological mapping of Dehradun in 2021 and the data compiled during a 2011 IIT-Roorkee study has revealed that landslide-prone areas in the Doon valley have increased from 20 to 100 over the last decade. According to experts, human activities, including mining, deforestation and construction of buildings, led to the five-fold increase in vulnerable areas in the once-pristine landscape. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/fivefold-increase-in-landslide-prone-areas-in-doon-valley-over-last-decade/articleshow/92587160.cms  (01 July 2022)

3 pilgrims have died and a dozen received injuries due to falling rocks and boulders on the Sonprayag-Kedarnath route, disaster management officials said on Thursday (June 30). In a similar incident on Wednesday (June 29), one pilgrim was killed and five injured when rocks fell on a vehicle near Munkatiya near Sonprayaag. The victims were on their way back from the Kedarnath shrine and were travelling from Gaurikund to Sonprayag when the incident took place. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/dehradun-news/falling-rocks-along-char-dham-route-kill-3-pilgrims-injure-12-officials-101656602191325.html  (30 June 2022)

कर्णप्रयाग-ग्वालदम हाईवे से गुजर रही कार के ऊपर गिरी चट्टान, हादसे में दंपती की मौत https://www.amarujala.com/dehradun/accident-in-uttarakhand-rock-fell-on-car-passing-through-the-karnprayag-gwaldam-highway   (03 July 2022)

पिछले तीन दिनों में राज्य में पहाड़ी से आये मलबे और बोल्डर की चपेट में आने से दबकर मरने की चार घटनाएं हो चुकी हैं और इन घटनाओं में पांच लोगों की मौत हो चुकी है। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/weather/monsoon/allweather-road-became-fatal-as-soon-as-monsoon-arrived-five-died-so-far-83528  (04 July 2022)

Study GIS-based liquefaction susceptibility mapping This study aims to identify liquefaction potential zones in the North-Bihar region of the East Ganga Plains by performing morphotectonic analysis over six drainage basins and liquefaction susceptibility mapping using Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) while taking site-specific parameters into account. The integrated analysis, which employs both techniques, demonstrates how the individual basins will be affected by liquefaction during an earthquake. The proposed methodology would be beneficial to decision-makers when designing strategies for urban planning projects, as well as structural engineers when selecting sites for field-based surveys.  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12665-022-10468-9  (30 June 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

NITI Aayog The government lost revenue worth Rs 8,000 crore from mid-2018 to mid-2021, and at least 75,000 people were adversely impacted with around 16,000 workers losing their jobs, due to five major environment-related judgements passed by the Supreme Court and NGT, a report commissioned by the NITI Aayog has estimated. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/niti-aayog-commissioned-report-3-orders-supreme-court-ngt-verdicts-cost-govt-8k-cr-revenue-8005786/  (03 July 2022)

MoEF Proposal to amed environment, water, air acts The govt proposes to amend the Environment Protection Act 1986, the Water Act 1974 and Air Act 1981 to divide the offenses with civil and criminal liability. The former, for “minor” offenses, will attract penalties from adjudication officer and later for more serious nature including injuries and loss of life and violation of consent of operate/ establish will be dealt with differently. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=974795  (01 July 2022)

Legal experts are divided on the implications of the proposals. “These proposed amendments not just reinstate the techno-managerial approach to environment regulation, but are also set up to lower the liability of polluters and violators of environmental norms at a time when the global environmental discourse is increasingly demanding higher levels of penalties and adjudication against environmental crimes,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at the Centre for Policy Research, a think tank. The last date for submitting comments on these proposed amendments is July 21. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/violation-of-some-green-regulations-may-be-decriminalised-101656787602806-amp.html  (03 July 2022)

Incidentally, the current EPA provisions will govern the penalties in case of the single-use plastic ban that came into effect Friday (July 01). The ministry has proposed to replace imprisonment with monetary penalty for the “less severe” contraventions under the EPA, an overarching law that supersedes other environment laws such as the Water and Air Act, which will also be decriminalised. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/moef-proposes-amendments-environment-protection-act-decriminalize-provisions-8004120/  (03 July 2022)

Opinion SC’s Reminder: The State Is a Trustee of Natural Resources Ritwick Dutta In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court directed states to set up eco-sensitive zones at least 1 km wide around all protected areas in their territories. The verdict is a reminder – and vindication for those who have been demanding it in lower courts – that states aren’t doing any good by setting up zones only a few metres wide. The compliance responsibility rests with state home secretaries – perhaps the first time they have been responsible for implementing a requirement of environment law. There is also a misconception that declaring an ESZ will curtail the livelihood rights of local communities, but nothing could be farther from the truth. https://science.thewire.in/environment/aniruddha-bose-godavarman-eco-sensitive-zones/ (2 July 2022)

Report Activists Skeptical over Single Use Plastic Ban Implementation “Forget small items such as candy sticks or polythene, the pollution control agencies have spectacularly failed to take any punitive actions against big pollutants, either dumping industrial effluents in the rivers and water bodies or local bodies sending in sewage. It is the same SPCBs/PCCs and their paraphernalia that have failed. How is this ban going to be different,” asked Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP.

“Look at the pitiable conditions of our water bodies and rivers. It is the failure of this existing mechanism that has led to this condition.” https://ommcomnews.com/india-news/govt-says-single-use-plastic-ban-implementation-would-be-strict-activists-skeptical  (28 June 2022)

Uttarakhand Plastic, glass and other waste materials found in elephant dung Plastic, glass, metal, rubber and several other anthropogenic waste materials have been detected in elephant dung. Samples collected from deep within protected areas revealed twice as much plastic as ones from the edges. A majority of studies in the presence of plastic in wildlife scat across habitats in India do not look into microplastics yet. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/plastic-glass-and-other-waste-materials-found-in-elephant-dung-in-uttarakhand/  (27 June 2022)

study, titled ‘Plastic ingestion in Asian elephants in the forested landscape of Uttarakhand’, added that “out of 75 elephant dung samples, 24 had a significant proportion of plastic”. Uttarakhand is home to nearly 2,000 jumbos. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ukhand-jumbos-eating-plastic-glass-wires-study/articleshow/91825173.cms  (27 June 2022)

Microplastics In Oceans, Air And Human Body https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/theyre-everywhere-microplastics-in-oceans-air-and-human-body-3124446  (03 July 2022)  

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Understanding the linkage between snow-capped peaks to flow patterns of streams and rivers Research in the Himalayan regions by Nepal et al. (2014) has already reported reduced glacier melt runoff and changes in the precipitation phase have increased variability of the flow regime affecting economic activities. Similarly, a  study by Rupper et al. (2012) demonstrated that an increase of one-degree celsius in glacierized Bhutan would reduce annual meltwater flux by almost 65%. The impact of increasing global temperature on the cryospheric resources was also evident from the recent study by the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) which reported that Bhutan lost about 17 gigatons of glacier ice since 2004 to date. This calls for an urgent investigation into the influence of annual meltwater flux on the streams, rivers, springs, and groundwater in low-lying areas.

– To address the knowledge gap, the researchers from Sherubtse College and the University of Colorado, USA studied the Chamkhar Chhu in central Bhutan using a combination of in-situ hydrochemistry and isotope datasets that drive mixing models from 2014 to 2017. The research was aimed at analyzing changes in the role of meltwater during different seasons and with distance from the glaciers.

– Hydrologic processes such as source waters and flow paths that control river flow in the Chamkhar Chhu basin were studied using tracer isotopes. Samples including surface water, groundwater, glacier meltwater, and precipitation were collected in pre-monsoon, monsoon, and post-monsoon seasons along an elevation transect from 2,538 to 5,158 metres above sea level. This study for the first time showed that pre-monsoon (March) baseflow consists of mostly rain and snow (38 and 39%, respectively) while ice melt contributed 23%. With the onset of the monsoon, the river changed to a rain-dominated system, with rain making up the majority of June (52%) and August (71%) flow. In the post-monsoon (October) the river transforms into essentially a 2-part system with ice and rain each sourcing nearly half the flow. Because, in the post-monsoon period, glacier ice, no longer protected by seasonal snow cover, is more susceptible to melting and contributes a majority of river flow during this period.

– Overall, the study demonstrated that the Chamkhar Chhu is a rainfall-dominated basin, with seasonally varying snow and ice melt contributions which conceptually agrees with expectations of the annual hydrological cycle typical of the eastern Himalayas. Further, the researchers observed that monsoon rain plays the dominant role in sourcing river flow below an altitude of 3,500 m during monsoon (contributing up to 48%) and post-monsoon (contributing up to 88%) periods (July to November). Even during the drier periods such as the pre-monsoon season, much of the river flow may indirectly be rain-fed.

– The research also demonstrated an increasing contribution of groundwater to river flow in the Chamkhar Chhu basin with decreasing elevation. However, our current knowledge of groundwater hydrology, e.g. residence time and lag time between recharge and streamflow are almost non-existent. Thus, understanding the groundwater dynamics of our major river basins is also a critical area of future research. The same group of researchers is currently engaged in piloting a study on groundwater dynamics using a tracer-based method in Eastern Bhutan, which is expected to gather crucial data on the sources and recharge mechanisms of perennial springs and streams. https://kuenselonline.com/understanding-the-linkage-between-snow-capped-peaks-to-flow-patterns-of-streams-and-rivers/  (28 June 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Bangladesh Teesta treaty? Modi sends ball to Mamata’s court According to a representative of the foreign ministry, the two nations (India and Bangladesh) will hold a Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) meeting before the PM-level summit in New Delhi in early Sept 2022. The JRC has not met at the ministerial level for the past ten years, despite the fact that the sharing of water from transboundary rivers is a major concern for the two nations.

– There are 54 rivers that cross the boundary between Bangladesh and India. In 43 of these, India controls the majority of the seas, which is considered essentially unjust to by its neighbours. In essence, the view is strong in Dhaka, that refusing to sign the Teesta river accord is a denigration of the good neighbourly relations between India and Bangladesh.  (By Samina Akhter, a Dhaka based activist)  https://www.counterview.net/2022/06/teesta-treaty-modi-sends-ball-to.html  (27 June 2022)

Bangladesh This year unprecedented heavy rainfall has brought devastating floods, earlier than usual in the month of May. It’s been almost two months and the north and north eastern regions of the country are still struggling as flood waters have washed away millions of houses and inundated hundreds of thousand hectares of farmlands. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/bangladesh-floods-climate-change-monsoon-rain-agriculture-education-disaster-water-51006  (04 July 2022)

SOANAS Landslide Risks and Transformative Adaptation Agenda Sanchita Neupane -In the emerging world, traditional risk assessment approaches do not work as the past is an unreliable guide for assessing future cascading risks caused by climate and environmental changes. While historical data is useful, an event could unfold in a completely unanticipated scale and direction.

(from left) Nepal’s landscape from Tarai to beyond Himal. Adapted from Tony Hagen; Extreme rainfall in hills can lead to landslide. Basic Water Science, (2003) 

It is important, therefore to focus on systemic risks arising out of interconnections and dependencies among various components. Improved understanding of connectivity and dependencies add insights into the cascades and help identify possible solutions representing a shift I n approach from individual hazard-led linear focus. As the globe warms and risks increase such a response would be termed transformative adaptation. https://soanas.org/landslide-risks-and-transformative-adaptation-agenda/   (27 June 2022)

EUROPE

Finland The first step towards a free-flowing River Hiitolanjoki, the largest river restoration project. https://damremoval.eu/portfolio/kangaskoski-finland/ 

Italy Po River – The Longest River in Italy – Dries Up The Po River, the longest river in Italy, is hitting record low water levels after months without heavy rainfall. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 animation above shows a part of the Po Valley, near Piacenza (a city in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy), and reveals how the river has shrunk significantly between June 2020 and June 2022. https://scitechdaily.com/po-river-the-longest-river-in-italy-dries-up/  (28 June 2022)

Iran Racing against time to revive vanishing wetlands The central provinces have seen mass protests recently against the growing water crisis. Tens of thousands of people took over the dried Zayendeh Rud River in Isfahan, drawing the attention of top government functionaries.

“Vanishing of wetlands and rivers is a cause of serious concern, which necessitates proper water management strategies based on scientific planning,” Farshad Rezvani, an environmentalist from Isfahan who participated in recent protests, said.

“If it continues, we may see larger protests in the future, because water is the lifeline.” https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220202-iran-races-against-time-to-revive-vanishing-wetlands/  (02 Feb. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Why New York Is Unearthing a Brook It Buried a Century Ago The city plans to unearth the brook — an engineering feat known as “daylighting” — at a cost of more than $130 million, because burying it in the sewer system has worsened the city’s flooding problems as a warming planet experiences more frequent and intense storms.

Though out of sight, the brook pumps about 2.2 billion gallons of freshwater a year into the same underground pipes that carry household sewage and rainwater runoff to wastewater treatment plants. It takes up precious capacity in the outdated sewer system and contributes to combined sewer overflows that are discharged into nearby waterways.

So when the remnants of Hurricane Ida overloaded the pipes in September, the brook still had to go somewhere. And it did — gushing over land in some of the city’s worst flooding and pouring onto a highway, the Major Deegan Expressway, where it trapped dozens of cars, buses and trucks in rising waters.

“We became an international symbol of what happens when the city doesn’t prepare for flooding,” said Robert Fanuzzi, president of the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, an advocacy group. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/06/nyregion/tibbets-brook-bronx-daylighting.html  (06 Dec. 2021)

Set the underground rivers free Daylighting success stories like Providence’s demonstrate why cities such as Detroit, Berkeley, Calif., and Yonkers, N.Y., have daylit lost rivers of their own. In the next few years, New York City will spend more than $130 million to excavate Tibbetts Brook, long buried beneath the Bronx.

Stony Brook goes under the Enneking Parkway in Boston.LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF

These projects have a distinct 21st-century utility to them. As record-breaking hurricanes and storm surges become a regular part of life for residents of cities like New York, the need for resilience in the face of climate change strengthens the case for daylighting underground streams and rivers.

The storms that once prompted American cities to bury waterways like Tibbetts Brook and Stony Brook are getting bigger and deadlier as they move across warming oceans. All of that excess water will need somewhere else to go, as Bostonians have learned the hard way. Last September, vehicles on Storrow Drive were immobilized by rising floodwaters after the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through the city. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/01/21/opinion/set-underground-rivers-free  (21 Jan. 2022)

Very interesting story on investing in Rivers by American Rivers https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/daf9f616eba4402cab1cc88400e9d685  ( 10 Jan. 2020)

Historic Yellowstone flooding brings renewal despite destruction Flooding helps seed majestic cottonwood trees and favors native trout. High water allows them to escape to calmer side channels, where they can spawn. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/historic-yellowstone-flooding-brings-renewal-despite-destruction  (29 June 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 27 June 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 20 June 2022  

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

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