Dams

DRP NB 150822: CWC accepts faulty operation of dams can lead to floods

(Feature Image:- Cauvery water flows to the brim at the Amma Mandapam padithurai in Srirangam, after discharge of waters from the Mettur dam at Tiruchi on Friday Aug. 05, 2022. Photos: M. Moorthy/@THChennai)

In a major development, the Union Jal Shakti Minister and Central Water Commission (CWC) has accepted that faulty operation of dams can lead to floods. SANDRP has been at the forefront of pointing this reality for more than a decade and a half and authorities were in denial till recently. So this acknowledgement that came through a statement in Parliament by Union Minister of state for Jal Shakti on Aug 8, 2022, as reported by PIB (Press Information Bureau) Press Release. One hopes this is only the first step that will ultimately ensure that dams are operated in a optimal, completely transparent way to reduce the flood risks in the downstream area to the maximum possible extent and where this does not happen, there is accountability.

Unfortunately, as the same PR noted, no data on flooding caused by faulty operations of reservoirs are maintained centrally. In fact such data is not available with any official agencies anywhere in India. This needs to be corrected urgently. It is also necessary to define the norms of safe operation of dams and to ensure that all the relevant information in this regard is put up in public domain on daily basis for each dam in India. Similarly for each dam, rule curves should be updated and put in public domain so that everyone can see if the dam is operating according to rule curve or not. At the end of each monsoon, a credible independent review should be undertaken to see where we have faltered, who are responsible and what corrective measures are required.

The disaster at the Karam dam in Madhya Pradesh that ultimately led to collapse of the dam well on Aug 14 2022 night is reminder how problematic is CWC’s and state water resources’ performance in terms of an updated National Register of Large Dams, approving design of each large dam before starting construction and ensuring independent monitoring of construction of each dam as each such dam is a potential source of disaster. All this needs to be brought under the Dam Safety Act passed by the Parliament as the current act does not include all this.

MoWR Conditions of Dams Interesting to see MoWR/ CWC informing the Parliament that “faulty operations of reservoirs may sometimes result in flooding of downstream region”. However, they have no qualms in acknowledging: “Data on flooding caused due to faulty operations of reservoirs is not maintained centrally.” However, their claim “The Dam Safety Act 2021 very comprehensively provides for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of the dams for prevention of dam failure related disasters and to provide for institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto” is not correct on many counts. Similarly their claim about flood forecasting is far from correct. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1849943 (8 Aug 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Report NHPC launches EWS for hydro projects NHPC has on Aug 8, 2022 launched an Internet cloud-based software application for Early Warning Systems (EWS) that will involve monitoring of river water levels and discharges both upstream and downstream of hydropower projects that have been identified as ‘vulnerable’. The systems will have the ability to issue alerts and warnings to concerned project authorities and stakeholders, giving local people time to react during floods.

Hydroelectric projects in mountainous areas can be vulnerable to incidents such as landslides, cloudburst, glacial lake outburst foods and landslide lake outburst floods etc. In recent years, the Himalayan region has witnessed several incidents, resulting in flash floods in the downstream areas where lives have been lost, and hydroelectric projects and other infrastructure have been damaged.

– One such incident occurred in February 2021 in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand when some hydroelectric projects were badly damaged and there was great loss of human lives and property.

– The Ministry of Power (MoP) subsequently constituted a committee for Short-Term & Long-Term Weather Forecast and said Early Warning Systems should be put in place at such vulnerable projects. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) identified 47 vulnerable projects across the country, which are generally located at EL 1500m and above or those which are first in the basin. Out of these, 10 projects belong to NHPC Limited and two belong to CVPPPL (A Joint Venture Company between NHPC and JKSPDC). As per the guidelines issued by CEA/ MoP, such projects were directed to establish Early Warning Systems (EWS) in the form of Automatic Water Level Recorders (AWLR) with telemetry at Gauge & Discharge sites at an appropriate distance upstream of the dams, or maintain close coordination with upstream projects (if any) so that the sufficient lead time is available to project authorities to establish safety measures.

– NHPC was also given the responsibility for setting up a master control room facility to monitor the EWS’ of such vulnerable hydroelectric projects. The software application has been integrated with inputs from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on a real time basis to strengthen the forecasting / alerts. Presently all projects associated with NHPC and CVPPPL have been configured with this application, and hydroelectric projects belonging to other developers can also take advantage of this software portal in future. https://www.waterpowermagazine.com/news/newsnhpc-launches-early-warning-system-9917582  (10 Aug. 2022)

Arunachal Pradesh SMRF reiterates opposition to hydropower projects in Tawang Save Mon Region Forum (SMRF), the Tawang-based organisation led by monks, has said that it is opposed to the government’s plan to hand over proposed hydropower projects in Tawang district to the NEEPCO. In a letter to the chief minister, the SMRF said that “all the projects should be terminated in the region, given that people of the area have been consistent in their opposition to hydropower, instead of transferring it from one group to the other.” The forum said that it has learnt that the Tawang Stage 1 and Stage 2 projects are being handed over to the NEEPCO Ltd for execution. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/08/09/smrf-reiterates-opposition-to-hydropower-projects-in-tawang/  (09 Aug. 2022)

Org writes to UNPFII regarding indigenous issues vis-à-vis hydropower projects The Indigenous People of Arunachal Pradesh and India has written to delegates of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), expressing concern over “the interests of corporate and political groups that seek to erode the cultural ethos and livelihoods of the indigenous people here under the garb of ‘development’.” Stating its opposition to hydropower projects in Arunachal, the organisation said that, prior to drafting memorandums of understanding and pre-feasibility reports, the state and the union governments must consult the affected upstream and downstream indigenous people and communities in public hearings. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/08/09/org-writes-to-unpfii-regarding-indigenous-issues-vis-a-vis-hydropower-projects-in-arunachal/  (09 Aug. 2022)

EWS installed in Subansiri hydro power plant The NHPC has claimed that it has installed cloud-based early warning system in Lower Subansiri hydro power plant. It will enable tight monitoring of river water levels and discharges both upstream and downstream of hydropower projects that have been identified as ‘vulnerable’. The systems will issue alerts and warnings to concerned project authorities and stakeholders, giving local people time to react during floods, it is claimed. https://nenow.in/north-east-news/arunachal-pradesh/arunachal-pradesh-early-warning-system-subansiri-hydro-power-plant.html  (12 Aug. 2022)

19 workers fled Arunachal border road project. Only 10 survived. Their ordeal tells a larger story  https://scroll.in/article/1029290/19-workers-fled-arunachal-border-road-project-only-10-survived-their-ordeal-tells-a-larger-story  (11 Aug. 2022)

Uttarakhand Govt working on policy for SHPs: Official Govt has decided to formulate a policy to encourage power generation from village rivulets by setting up small hydropower projects up to 25megawatts (MW), a senior government official said. Sandeep Singhal, managing director of Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL), who was part of this committee, said they have submitted their report.

– “I was one of the members of the committee and after a detailed study, we have submitted the recommendation that there are immense possibilities of increasing power generation in the state and for that, we have proposed some relaxations in the policy so that more people can take up to power generation at a micro level.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/dehradun-news/uttarakhand-working-on-policy-for-small-hydropower-projects-official-101660387266099.html  (13 Aug. 2022)

Podcast GigaWhat: Clean-washing by dams? The fifth episode of GigaWhat tries to unpack the social, economic and environmental impacts of hydropower projects in India and the controversies surrounding the megastructures – dams. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/08/podcast-gigawhat-clean-washing-by-dams/  (13 Aug. 2022)

DAMS

“धार में मंत्रियों ने किया हवाई सर्वेक्षण,डैम में भरे पानी का किया आंकलन,पानी वाले हिस्से का भी लिया जायजा,डैम से निकल रहे पानी और जल भराव वाले स्थानों को देखा” Brajesh Rajput @brajeshabpnews ABP News https://twitter.com/brajeshabpnews/status/1558749425589432321?s=20&t=0eDJ_3e_HwUhHJ9y193w5Q

SANDRP Blog Bharudpura Dam in MP faces disaster after first filling in Aug 2022 Bharudpura dam (also called Karam dam) on Karam river, a tributary of Narmada river, near Gujari village in Dharampuri Tehsil of Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh faced major disaster after the very first filling in August 2022 when there was seepage from and massive erosion of the dam wall starting from Aug 11, 2022. The disaster at the Rs 304.44 crore project whose construction started in 2018 created a major turbulence in Madhya Pradesh with allegations of sub-standard work, corruption and attempts to hush up the safety issues. As a precaution, the administration has on Aug 12, 2022 vacated 12 downstream villages in Dhar district and 6 in Khargone district and stopped traffic on roads close to the dam. Dhar Collector also said that the efforts to stop the seepage were not successful and that possible reason for erosion is the use of black rather than red soil in the construction of the earthen dam. https://sandrp.in/2022/08/13/bharudpura-dam-in-mp-faces-disaster-after-first-filling-in-aug-2022/  (13 Aug. 2022)

Dainik Bhaskar, Aug 15 2022 quotes SANDRP on the issue of Karam flood disaster in Madhya Pradesh.

Karam Dam demolition cost is Rs 1.5 cr, the cost of repair will be Rs 30 Cr.

Quite serious charges against the Water Resources Minister and others here in the context of corruption in the Karam dam contract given to a tainted company which then, it is alleged, distributed Rs 93 Cr kickbacks. https://theprint.in/india/tainted-company-awarded-contract-to-build-dam-in-mps-dhar-which-developed-breach-cpi-m-seeks-ministers-resignation/1082673/  (14 Aug. 2022)

धार जिले के लीकेज वाले कारम डैम से अब पानी का बहाव कम हो गया है। शासन-प्रशासन का दावा है कि अब खतरा टल गया है। बताया गया कि डैम में 15 MQM पानी में से करीब 10 से 12 MQM से ज्यादा पानी खाली हो चुका है। धरमपुरी तहसील के कोठिदा गांव में कारम नदी पर बन रहे डैम में लीकेज के बाद पानी खाली करने के लिए चैनल बनाई गई थी। रविवार (Aug. 14) शाम इस चैनल के पास बांध की वॉल धंसने लगी। इससे चैनल और चौड़ी हो गई, जिसके बाद डैम से पानी काफी तेजी से निकला। फ्लो इतना तेज था कि बाढ़ जैसे हालात नजर आए। खेतों में पानी भरने लगा। हालांकि प्रशासन ने दावा किया कि किसी भी गांव में पानी नहीं भरा। कहीं से कोई नुकसान की खबर नहीं है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/dhar/news/leakage-in-dhar-dam-in-madhya-pradesh-latest-live-updates-130186149.html  (15 Aug. 2022)

माना जाता है कि करीब 60,000 बड़े बांध हैं, जिनकी मदद से दुनिया के कुल वार्षिक नदी प्रवाह का लगभग छठा हिस्सा समुद्र में जाने से रोक लिया जाता है और जमा कर लिया जाता है। इसके अलावा, लगभग 306,000 किमी (लगभग 120,000 मील) के कुल 100 वर्ग मीटर (1,076 वर्ग फुट) से बड़े जलाशय क्षेत्रों के साथ कम से कम 16 मिलियन छोटे बांधहैं, जो पृथ्वी की स्थलीय साफ पानी की सतह को 7 प्रतिशत से बढ़ा देते हैं।

बांध सीधे तौर पर मछली और अन्य जलीय प्रजातियों के प्रवास का नुकसान करते हैं, उन्हें प्रजनन के उनके आधार से अलग-थलग कर देते हैं और उनकी जनसंख्या को कम करते हैं। हाल के वर्षों में शोधकर्ताओं ने बांधों के बारे में पिछली धारणाओं को खत्म करना शुरू कर दिया है। यह निष्कर्ष निकाला गया है कि वे कार्बन चक्र के संशोधन और ग्रीनहाउस गैस एक्सचेंजों के साथ जटिल तरीकों से पृथ्वी की जलवायु को प्रभावित करते हैं। https://hindi.mongabay.com/2022/08/10/dams-are-a-necessary-evil-across-the-world-but-can-we-manage-their-consequences/  (10 Aug. 2022)

Polavarm Dam Floods shed lights on displaced tribals Recently, a statistical analysis tried to estimate probable flood discharge values for 1,000 and 10,000 years. The two-dimensional flow simulations revealed that at improper gate operations, even with a flow of 0.1 million cubic metres per second (m3/s), water levels at Bhadrachalam town will be high enough to submerge built-up areas and nearby villages. The study further cited that the peak flood flow in the Godavari in the last 100 years was 0.09 million m3/s and the Polavaram dam was designed for 0.10 million m3/s. The CWC had determined the possible maximum flood as 0.14 million m3/s and the dam’s spillway was redesigned accordingly. If the same phenomenon of the Krishna River occurs in the Godavari River, the flood flow would be 0.23 million m3/s, resulting in a major catastrophe, according to the report. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/natural-disasters/international-day-of-indigenous-people-floods-in-godavari-shed-lights-on-tribals-displaced-by-polavaram-84212  (09 Aug. 2022)

Sardar Sarovar Project SSNNL sets up probe over farmers ‘seizing’ computers The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) Tuesday (Aug. 09) set up a probe into the incident of a group of farmers from Vadodara allegedly taking possession of moveable assets from the department’s office in Gandhinagar on Saturday (Aug. 06)  to recover their long-pending dues as ordered by a civil court. A group of 25 farmers from Abhol village in Padra taluka of Vadodara district have claimed that the SSNNL owes them a total of Rs 68.92 lakh at the rate of Rs 1,625 per arey (about 100 sq metres) of land acquired in 1988. The litigants have contended that the SSNNL paid them Rs 1,400 per arey in 2005, which was Rs 225 per arey lesser than the promised compensation. The advocate of the farmers has said that the court had dismissed the SSNNL’s review petition earlier this month and once again issued attachment warrants so that farmers can seize the movable property and recover their dues by selling it. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/gandhinagar/sardar-sarovar-narmada-nigam-limited-sets-up-probe-over-farmers-seizing-computers-8081146/  (10 Aug. 2022)

Telangana Lower Manair Dam gates’ iron cables needs replacement Lower Manair Dam (LMD) authorities have proposed the replacement of iron cables of the floodgates as a precautionary measure. The dam safety committee informed authorities that frequent flooding has weakened the iron ropes. However, Superintended Engineer P Shiva Prasad told Express that the dam gates and bund were safe. “For the safety of the dam, we have recommended that the iron cables be replaced,” he said. Notably, the recent floods damaged the gates of the Kadam dam, which made the LMD authorities seek sanction for the maintenance work on a priority basis as the proposal was postponed until after the monsoon. Irrigation Department officials said they were monitoring the dam’s safety. They added that the department would replace the cables of another 10 gates before the next monsoon. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2022/aug/12/telanganas-lower-manair-damgates-iron-cables-needs-replacement-2486748.html  (12 Aug. 2022)

Karnataka Trial blasts around KRS dam start amid ‘go back’ stir A team of scientists began trial blasts on Monday (July 25) to study the likely impact of blasts and mining activities on the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) dam in Srirangapatna taluk. This came even as farmers and activists held a ‘go back’ protest against the team. The scientists will conduct trial blasts at five places in Pandavapura and Srirangapatna taluks in the district till July 31. The scientists conducted spot inspections at Neelanakoppal in Srirangapatna taluk and Bebi Betta in Pandavapura taluk. The inspections were conducted amidst police security.

The protesters demanded that the scientists return without conducting the trial blasts. The blasts must not be conducted when the dam has water up to its full reservoir level, they said. Members of the Raitha Sangha, KRS Ulisi Janandolana Samiti and others took part in the protest. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/trial-blasts-around-krs-dam-start-amid-go-back-stir-1130047.html  (25 July 2022)

Maharashtra Water supply to 40% hit due to fly ash from KTPS in Kanhan Release of fly ash from Khaparkheda Thermal Power Station’s (KTPS) ash pond has once again forced Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) to stop pumping water from Kanhan River on Monday (Aug. 8). The move will affect water supply to north, east and parts of south Nagpur, confirmed NMC’s water works department official. “Fly ash from KTPS’s ash pond has again started overflowing as observed in Kanhan River near intake wells,” the official said. As a precautionary measure, the raw water pumps on the right bank of the river have been stopped. This will adversely impact the supply to 28 elevated storage reservoirs (ESRs) command areas dependent on the Kanhan water treatment plant feeder mains from north, east and parts of south Nagpur, stated a press note issued by OCW. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/nagpur-water-supply-to-40-of-nagpur-hit-due-to-fly-ash-from-ktps-in-kanhan-river/articleshow/93437480.cms  (08 Aug. 2022)

Release of fly ash in Kanhan river since July 10 has forced NMC and Orange City Water to repeatedly stop pumping water from the Kanhan WTP. So, despite incessant rains in the city over the last few days, citizens of North and East Nagpur, especially those receiving water from 28 water tanks located in Satranjipura, Lakadganj, Ashi Nagar and Nehru Nagar zones, making up 40% of the city, are facing severe drinking water supply issues.

Due to incessant rainfall since July 10, Kanhan river is in spate. However, the flowing river water turned grey due to the contamination by fly ash slurry. “The source of this fly ash slurry was traced back to the ash pond of Khaperkheda Thermal Power station. On July 10, at around 3.30am, substantial fly ash was observed in the river near the intake well on the right bank of the Kanhan river by vigilant NMC-OCW Kanhan WTP officials,” said officials from water works department.

“No water treatment plant is designed to treat water mixed with fly ash. That is the reason Kanhan plant operations had to be stopped. The water mixed with fly ash is dangerous for human health, so as a precautionary measure all the intake well pumps in dry well on the right bank of Kanhan River were stopped,” the official said in a press statement. Treated water pumping was also stopped and the entire WTP was cleaned and flushed out. Since July 10, fly ash has been seen in Kanhan river on a daily basis and pumping from Kanhan WTP is being stopped at regular intervals. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/fly-ash-in-kanhan-river-hits-water-supply-in-40-areas/articleshow/92908309.cms  (16 July 2022)

State power generation company Mahagenco has given compensation of Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000 to families that were affected by the Khasala ash bund mishap on July 16. Due to heavy rains, the bund collapsed sending fly ash slurry into houses and farms in three villages in the area. A total of 13 villagers were compensated for their losses, the release stated. Bawankule has further assured that the panchnama for the losses faced by farmers was underway and they will get compensation soon. He has also demanded a high-level enquiry into the incident.

According to environmentalists, the long-term damage to the agriculture and human lives is more worrying. “Everything right from the groundwater, surface water to soil is contaminated with toxic fly ash. Farmers will not be able to grow crops for several years now,” they said. They added that just compensation is not enough. “What about accountability and punishment? Important norms were violated, lives were put at risk, but no action has been taken against the concerned authorities yet,” said activists. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/compensation-for-those-hit-by-ash-bund-collapse/articleshow/93331813.cms  (04 Aug. 2022)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Is Andhra Pradesh planning check dams near Tamil Nadu border? The Water Resources Department has initiated an inquiry with the Andhra Pradesh authorities on the reported move to construct storage structures in rivers that feed many waterbodies, including Poondi reservoir in Tiruvallur district, which caters to the drinking water needs of Chennai. If the authorities in Andhra Pradesh confirm the move, the State government would be apprised of the situation to decide on further course of action, the officials said.

According to sources in the Water Resources Department, construction of storage structures in the waterways in Andhra Pradesh border would affect inflow into the Poondi reservoir. It was learnt that the Andhra Pradesh government has planned to build a check dam or create a waterbody in the Lava river, which is one of the tributaries of Nagari river originating in Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, another storage structure is being proposed across the Nagari river in Andhra Pradesh limits, about 10 km away from the Tamil Nadu border. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/is-andhra-pradesh-planning-check-dams-near-tamil-nadu-border/article65762516.ece  (13 Aug. 2022)

IRRIGATION

Rajasthan MP water sharing dispute in the context of Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project.

Rajasthan CM on Aug 9, 2022 said the Madhya Pradesh govt’s consent is not required for executing the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project, citing a decision of an interstate board way back in 2005. Gehlot said he talked to Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan over the phone after which his counterpart agreed to meet him to build a consensus over the issue. The development comes days after the Centre directed to stop the project, citing the lack of consent from other states. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/mp-government-s-consent-not-needed-for-eastern-rajasthan-canal-project-cm-gehlot-news-215186 (9 Aug 2022)

Chouhan has agreed to hold a meeting at the level of chief ministers of both the states to discuss all the issues. Gehlot said in this project based on the water being received from tributaries of Chambal in Rajasthan, less than 10 per cent water coming from Madhya Pradesh would be utilised. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/meet-to-talk-about-canal-to-be-held-with-mp-soon/articleshow/93466288.cms  (10 Aug. 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Celebrating 30 years of protecting a Spring in a City On the August 7 2022, more than 1500 Punekars made their way to the Hills of the city and came together to protect “Tekdi” from multiple shortsighted developmental pressures. Hills of Pune are the last bastions for urban wild spaces and are also the watersheds for several streams flowing in the city, now bundled under the misnomer of Nallas or drains. https://sandrp.in/2022/08/12/celebrating-30-years-of-protecting-a-spring-in-a-city/  (12 Aug. 2022)

RIVERS

BRAHMAPUTRA Commentary Scope for more nuanced reporting by media on Brahmaputra basin A recent study on media coverage of the Brahmaputra river basin shows substantial media attention on disasters (floods and erosion) in India and Bangladesh and infrastructure development in the river basin. The low number of science articles implied the lack of science-based reporting in the basin. There is limited coverage on the theme of research and data sharing. Reporting by media can be more nuanced and look beyond conflicts and controversies to highlight the politics of why and how the Brahmaputra river basin is in a status quo. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/08/commentary-scope-for-more-nuanced-reporting-by-media-on-the-brahmaputra-river-basin/  (09 Aug. 2022)

Book: Restless River on Brahmaputra River from The World Bank: This report on the Yarlung-Tsangpo-Siang-Brahmaputra-Jamuna River Basin, is an attempt at documenting the Brahmaputra as a one river system and presenting a perspective of the river basin from the perspectives of the four riparian countries. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/36258?fbclid 

Uttarakhand 28 lakh pilgrims in 60 days, experts warn of consequences Geologists, glaciologists and experts said this huge turnout at the shrines “could lead to consequences”, as the hills are still shaping into mature mountain ranges, which is why the least disturbance could lead to loss of human life. “Himalayan mountains fall under earthquake zone V. Being among the youngest mountains of the world, they can’t sustain constant human activities,” said DP Dobhal, former senior glaciologist of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology. Moreover, the state government is yet to calculate a scientific carrying capacity for the region that houses the shrines. State tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said, “We haven’t carried out any scientific study to determine the carrying capacity of the four shrines yet. Keeping in mind the significant rise in tourist numbers, it has become the need of the hour to do one now.” Experts believe the shrines should have a fixed footfall limit, considering they are located on fragile zones.

While both Kedarnath and Badrinath, the two most popular Char Dham shrines, are situated on moraine (trail left behind by a moving glacier), Gangotri and Yamunotri fall in an eco-sensitive zone identified by the Union ministry of environment. Both of these Uttarkashi shrines fall on the Main Central Thrust (MCT), a major geological fault line separating the greater and the lesser Himalayas. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-28-lakh-pilgrims-visit-char-dham-in-60-days-experts-warn-of-consequences/articleshow/93465787.cms  (10 Aug. 2022)

YAMUNA Yamuna river in upper segment witnessing first spell of low scale flood in this monsoon season. Since 07:00 am 11.08.2022, there have been 1.50 lakh cusec discharges from Hathini Kund Barrage in Yamuna Nagar, Haryana. The peak discharges today have been 2,21,785 for two hours (14:00 hours & 15:00 hours)

Yamuna is flowing above the danger mark in New Delhi https://www.hindustantimes.com/photos/news/yamuna-is-flowing-above-the-danger-mark-in-new-delhi-see-photos-101660320910638.html ; https://www.livemint.com/news/india/delhi-flood-alert-yamuna-river-crosses-danger-mark-of-205-33-mts-11660304613259.html  (12 Aug. 2022) Evacuation efforts intensified as Yamuna flows above danger mark in Delhi https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/evacuation-efforts-intensified-as-yamuna-flows-above-danger-mark-in-delhi-101660392762773.html  (13 Aug. 2022)

Delhi Bamboo abode on floodplain LG Vinai Kumar Saxena on Tuesday (Aug. 9) laid the foundation for Delhi’s first bamboo theme park — Baansera. With bamboo curtained enclosures, the park on the Yamuna floodplain aims to bring Delhiites closer to nature, while offering amenities like kiosks, huts, watchtower, conference spaces and a proposed Bamboo Cafe.The park is part of Delhi Development Authority’s project of restoration and rejuvenation of the floodplain, which is being carried out to enhance the river’s ecological character. DDA said in a statement that the Baansera project, which derives its name from the Hindi word “Basera” (abode), has been conceived and guided by the LG himself.

DDA said the theme-based multipurpose area was being developed on 10 hectares of the floodplain south of NH-9 on the western bank by using bamboo as a material in both biotic and abiotic form. More than 25,000 bamboo saplings of 15 different varieties were being brought from Assam for plantation. Out of these, 20,000 saplings were planted in a nursery in July for adaptation to Delhi’s climatic conditions. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/coming-up-bamboo-abode-on-yamuna-floodplain/articleshow/93463623.cms  (10 Aug. 2022)

The park will be spread over 10 hectares on the western bank near the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) will plant 20,000 bamboo saplings of 15 varieties this monsoon season, officials in the know said. In June this year, the LG had directed the DDA to start work on this park. DDA officials said that currently 10 hectares of area are being developed, but more area will be developed later.

However, ecologists say the bamboo plantation will serve no ecological purpose on the floodplains of the Yamuna. Vijay Dhasmana, an ecologist who is also the curator of the Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram, said bamboo is not native to Delhi and while it can be grown in some parts of Delhi, it will serve no ecological purpose. “The floodplains should be left alone to carry out their natural process of regulating the flow of the river during the rainy months and even if plantation has to be done near the floodplains, they should be species native to the Yamuna. We can find bamboo in Delhi in places like Sunder Nursery for instance, but they serve no ecological purpose, especially on the floodplains,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhis-first-bamboo-park-to-come-up-along-yamuna-riverfront-101660068973343.html  (10 Aug. 2022)

16 of 26 STPs do not meet standards: DPCC 16 of the 26 STPs in Delhi are currently not meeting the quality parameters set by the Central Pollution Control Board, findings of a report prepared by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee which analysed samples collected in June 2022, shows. Some of the STPs that were found wanting include newer facilities that have been inaugurated or made operational within the last two years, including the Coronation Pillar STP, the Kondli STP and the new Keshopur plant. Water from these STP, which are operated by the DJB, is either released into the Yamuna or used for reviving water bodies. In both the cases, water with higher levels of toxic elements will further add to the river pollution and pollute groundwater.

Delhi government has also announced that the water from STPs will be utilised to revive water bodies under the ‘city of lakes’ project, and once the groundwater levels in the areas surrounding the water bodies becomes high enough, water will be extracted to augment the city water supply. In fact, the water from new Coronation Pillar facility is to be used for government’s ambitious Singapore NEWater model under which water will be further purified and dumped in Yamuna near Palla to increase the raw water availability in the river.

Manoj Misra, convener of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, said if oxygen content is low and both nitrogen and phosphate levels are high, then the water will not be able to sustain any form of life. “A major portion of the STP water released in the Yamuna has high phosphate and nitrogen levels, and it can lead to frothing or growth of algae. Water from these STPs is also used to revive water bodies, but again over time, the water quality will go down due to these high toxicity. The same water also percolates down to the ground, so it is important that this water which is supposedly treated, is being purified to the correct levels,” he says.

Misra added that what is even more surprising is that even the new plants are failing to meet the norms. “It is a shame that so much money is being pumped into cleaning the Yamuna and still the new plants are found to be failing to meet the standards. This may also prove to be a public health hazard if the treated water from these STPs is being used to revive the wetlands and recharge the groundwater,” he added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/16-of-26-sewage-plants-in-delhi-do-not-meet-standards-study-101660069813494.html  (10 Aug. 2022)

Haryana Bridge in Samalkha fails to meet deadline The high-level bridge on the Yamuna river, to improve connectivity, between Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the Samalkha area, has not been completed even after six years of laying of the foundation stone. The deadline for the project was November 2020. The deadline to complete the project has been fixed for November 26, but only 62 per cent work has been completed so far. Now, the contractor company has again sought time up to December 2022 to complete the project.

Foundation stone of the high-level bridge was laid on December 23, 2016 at the cost of Rs 126 crore. The PWD B&R Department, nodal agency for construction work, had allotted the work to Jandu Construction Company and the company had started the work in November 2018 and the deadline was fixed for November 2020. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/high-level-bridge-on-yamuna-in-samalkha-fails-to-meet-deadline-418930  (05 Aug. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh बांदा: नाव हादसा या लापरवाही बांदा जिले के मर्का कस्बे में हुए नाव हादसे में 24 घंटे बीत जाने के बाद भी लापता हुए लोगों का कोई सुराग नहीं लग सका है। नाव में सवार 50 लोग डूबे थे। तीन के शव बरामद हुए, 15 लोग तैर कर निकल आए थे। इसमें 32 लोग अभी लापता है। यहां हर कदम पर लापरवाही दिखाई दी। एनडीआरएफ और एसडीआरएफ की 60 सदस्यीय टीम सुबह सात बजे से ही लापता लोगों को ढूंढने में लग गई। थाने से महज 120 मीटर की दूरी पर यह हादसा हुआ है, मगर किसी जिम्मेदार ने कोई यहां इंतजाम नहीं किया। मर्का कस्बे से 2011 में यमुना नदी पर पुल बनना शुरू हुआ था। 2014 तक पुल चालू करने का लक्ष्य था, लेकिन बजट की कमी के चलते ऐसा नहीं हो सका। इसमें अधिकारियों की लापरवाही भी है। इसके लिए तीन बार इस्टीमेट रिवाइज किया गया। पहले 54.89 करोड़ की लागत से पुल बनना था। इसके बाद 65 करोड़ और फिर 89 करोड़ का रिवाइज इस्टीमेट बना। पहले इस काम को चित्रकूट इकाई करा रही थी। अब बांदा डिवीजन सेतु निगम के पास काम है। तीसरी बार बजट रिवाइज होने के बाद जनवरी 2022 से काम शुरू हुआ था, लेकिन अब तक काम पूरा नहीं हो सका है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/kanpur/banda-boat-accident-even-after-24-hours-there-is-no-clue-of-missing-people-the-negligence-of-the-administra?pageId=3  (13 Aug. 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Report Involvement of communities could help mitigate threats to Ganges dolphin River pollution, dams and indiscriminate fishing are among the threats to the Ganga river dolphin. The fishing community could play an important role in conserving the dolphins in Ganga but there are several challenges such as delayed pay and lack of official recognition of their role. There are various projects by the government to protect the national aquatic animal and transboundary cooperation could help further the species protection in the region. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/08/involvement-of-fishing-communities-transboundary-cooperation-could-help-mitigate-threats-to-ganges-river-dolphin/  (03 Aug. 2022)

SAND MINING

Andhra Pradesh Dalit activist assaulted and arrested A 35-year-old Dalit activist was allegedly physically assaulted by MLA Rapaka Varaprasad, also a Dalit, his gunman and other police. Describing the incident, the activist said that he had stopped his bike on the roadside after receiving a call. “A friend who saw me parked his bike next to me and we started chatting. This is when a car stopped near us.”

Image: TNM

“Hurling abuses at me, the MLA got down from the car and charged at me. He immediately slapped me. As I was on the edge of the road, I fell down along with my vehicle. Then the gunman also came and beat me up. I got punched on the nose and eyes. The MLA then called up the Sub Inspector who visited the spot with ASI and beat me up with their lathis without even asking for any explanation,” Venkateswara told TNM.

“The MLA has a grudge against me for the work I do. I have filed numerous complaints against illegal sand mining done by him and his associates. In the past, he has threatened me several times. He even gave me death threats. As nothing has worked, he has used this incident as an excuse, attacked me and filed a false complaint against me,” he claimed. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/dalit-activist-andhra-assaulted-and-arrested-allegedly-behest-mla-166503  (04 Aug. 2022)

Floods spur illicit sand mining, transportation in Mancherial, Asifabad  The heavy rains registered from July 9 to 15 affected normal life and wreaked havoc to farmers by damaging standing crops being raised in over 1 lakh acres in Mancherial and Kumram Bheem Asifabad districts. And due to the downpour, the streams and rivulets received fresh sand, delighting the miners who are reaping riches by illicitly mining and transporting the mineral in several parts of the district.

According to information provided by authorities of the Mines and Geology department, the district recorded 438 cases of illegal sand mining and transportation and fines worth Rs 38.59 lakh were imposed against the offenders from April 1 of 2021 to March 31 of 2022. A total of 98 cases were booked against the miners from April 1 to June 30. A fine of Rs 5,000 is imposed against the first timers, while Rs 15,000 is slapped against the habitual offenders,

They are using the laborers as cover to prevent cases and evade arrests. They are resorting to abusing and assaulting the staffers of the mines and geology department for conducting raids on the spots and books cases. Poor vigilance, monthly mamools and apathy in curbing the menace by revenue, police and mines and geology department is attributed to the menace. https://telanganatoday.com/floods-spur-illicit-sand-mining-transportation-in-mancherial-asifabad  (05 Aug. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Activist urges Puducherry L-G to look into illegal sand mining Illegal sand mining continues to thrive in the Then Penniyar River around Soriankuppam, Commandamedu, Aratchikuppam, Kuruvinatham in Bahour Taluk, with the government taking no action to curb it, said activists. The mining had stopped for a few years after an NGT order banned it, the PWD set up a joint collaborative monitoring system, police and revenue officials were put in place, and designated check posts were set up to monitor the movement of illegally mined sand. However, after the former Lt Governor Kiran Bedi left the UT, the practice has been again raising its head, said V Chandrasekhar, president, Bangaaru Vaickal Neeraadhara Koottamaippu (a tank users association), on whose petition the NGT had passed the orders.

According to Chandrasekhar, the sand is now being transported through the Graveyard Road (Sudukadu Road) and Nagammal Koil, the exact locations where the NGT ordered to set up check posts. Both the check posts have long been closed and repeated requests to reinstate them have fallen on deaf ears, he added. “Sand is now mined even in broad daylight, and transported in lorries. The officials are turning a blind eye to it, which raises a doubt that they are even a party to the ongoing sand-theft which is threatening the fragile river-sand-ecosystem,” he said.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/aug/12/illegal-sand-mining-then-penniyar-river-activist-urges-puducherry-l-g-to-look-into-it-2486616.html  (12 Aug. 2022)

Sand lorries in 8 districts to be off the road from August 18 Nearly 20,000 lorries in eight districts, including those plying in Chennai, will be off the road from August 18. All M-Sand and River Sand Lorry Owners’ Federation had called for an indefinite strike seeking regulation of heavy vehicles and opening of more river sand quarries to cater to the growing demand. Members plan to stage a demonstration near Valluvar Kottam on August 18 in support of their charter of demands, including streamlining of m-sand manufacturing units.

Lorry owners also complained that corruption was rampant in the Transport department and action was not taken against overloading of vehicles. Alleging that there were 4,000 sand manufacturing units functioning in the State without approval, Federation president S. Yuvaraj said the State government must take stringent action against such units to ensure quality m-sand. S. Dheenan of Tamizhaga Manal Lorry Urimaiyalargal Munnetra Sangam said overloading of vehicles at source led to accidents. Lorry operators were severely affected as they had to transport material without a proper GST bill and transit pass. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/sand-lorries-in-eight-districts-to-be-off-the-road-from-august-18/article65762213.ece  (12 Aug. 2022)

Villagers in Kollidam upset over rampant sand mining irregularities Villagers from Paaluran Padugai have alleged rampant sand mining corruption is taking place at Kollidam bay, which is a tributary of the river Cauvery. A district secretary in the area said that PWD officials and the company extracting the sand are involved in corruption through which they are selling more than the permitted amount of sand for exorbitant prices. After Cauvery water reaches Mettur damn, it is diverted to Kollidam, which is the life source for 2.5 crore people in Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Sivagangai, Ramanathapuram and Mayiladuthurai districts.

Environmentalists monitoring the situation claim that the government permitted a sand quarry at Kollidam, which was acquired for lease by SR Group. An app called TNSands was launched to make the process of buying sand transparent. As per norms, one unit of sand was to be sold for Rs 1,050 and the buyer should provide the vehicle details including chassis number and construction details to get the sand. A six-wheeler is allowed to carry two units of sand, while a ten-wheeler is allowed to carry three units of sand. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/villagers-tamil-nadu-kollidam-upset-over-rampant-sand-mining-irregularities-1961424-2022-06-12  (12 June 2022)

Kerala Hunger strike staged against mineral sand-mining In protest against the ongoing mineral sand-mining on the Alappuzha coast, the Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samiti (KGVES) and Ekta Parishad jointly organised a hunger strike in front of Alappuzha district collectorate on Thursday (Aug. 11). It was inaugurated by P.V. Rajagopal, the founder of Ekta Parishad. He alleged that the government had misused the Disaster Management Act to remove mineral sand at Thottappally. “The government is engaged in mineral sand-mining at Thottappally in the name of flood mitigation in Kuttanad by invoking various sections under the Disaster Management Act. It is a blatant violation of the law. The mining is causing serious environmental problems. The government should immediately stop mineral sand-mining at Thottappally,” Mr. Rajagopal said. KGVES chairman Suresh Kumar S. presided. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hunger-strike-staged-against-mineral-sand-mining/article65757667.ece  (11 Aug. 2022)

Punjab Ropar executive engineer suspended The government on Tuesday (Aug. 09) suspended a mining executive engineer in Ropar with immediate effect. Mining Minister Harjot Singh Bains said regular complaints of illegal late-night mining at Khera Kalmot and other surrounding areas of Ropar district were received. The areas were under the jurisdiction of Puneet Sharma and action was initiated against him.

According to the government directive, mining is prohibited during monsoon. Bains said Sharma failed to issue notices in time to the contractors for installing under-capacity weighing bridges. Bains added that Sharma did not take steps to achieve the target of legal mining in the district which caused severe losses to the state exchequer. The minister said no-one would be allowed to indulge in illegal mining and any officer found involved in illegal activities would face departmental and legal action. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/punjab-minister-harjot-bains-suspends-ropar-executive-engineer-following-reports-of-illegal-mining-420365  (09 Aug. 2022)

Cabinet approves revision in sand rate, fixes MRP for gravel The Cabinet on Thursday (Aug. 11) gave nod to revise rates of sand to Rs 9 per cubic feet and also fixed the maximum retail price of gravel at Rs 20 per cubic feet by amending the state’s mining policy. The Cabinet also approved a new policy for crusher units and decided to impose an environment charge of Rs 1 per cubic feet on output material, which will fetch Rs 225 crore to the state exchequer.

Mining Minister Harjot Singh Bains said the existing policy has been amended and the rate of sand has been revised from Rs 5.50 per cubic feet to Rs 9 per cubic feet. He claimed that people did not get sand at the rate of Rs 5.50 per cubic feet. The previous Congress government had reduced the rate of sand from Rs 9 to Rs 5.50 per cubic feet.

The minister said a policy for crushers has been approved by the Cabinet. As per the new policy, crushers will be allotted a mining site of five hectares or a multiple of five hectares to check illegal mining. But it will not be mandatory for every crusher to take these sites, he said. The allotment of these mining sites will be carried out through e-auction, he said. The contracts will be allotted for a period of three years extendable up to four years provided there is material available at the site. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/punjab-cabinet-approves-revision-in-sand-rate-fixes-mrp-for-gravel-421081  (11 Aug. 2022)

Edit Tackling mining mafia Warning humanity that it was on the cusp of a sand crisis as unsustainable extraction was adversely affecting rivers, lakes and coastlines — which, in turn, harms the ecology and destroys habitats of biodiversity — a UN report in April bracketed India among the world’s worst offenders vis-a-vis sand greed.

Undoubtedly, a case is made out for the Centre’s intervention for curbing this nefarious activity that has also cost lives of cops and other law enforcers, activists and journalists. Parliament last year amended the mining Act and the Environment Ministry in 2016 laid out guidelines to effect reforms in the beleaguered sector. While the Centre is proactively monitoring the mining of coal and minerals, including iron, gold and manganese, to help the states, it would do well to also pay attention to sand and gravel quarrying. The use of remote surveillance to keep an eye on the mining sites and aggressive tapping of crop residue and municipal waste as alternatives to sand in construction can help the authorities tackle the menace. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/tackling-mining-mafia-421417  (13 Aug. 2022)

Report Deep-sea mining talks end with no agreement on environmental rules Mining could begin in less than a year after talks fail to produce regulatory framework despite growing calls to halt harm to oceans. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/10/deep-sea-mining-talks-end-with-no-agreement-on-environmental-rules  (10 Aug. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Audit lays bare numerous breach of India’s coastal regulations An audit has identified dozens of public and private projects that have breached India’s coastal regulations — beach resorts, ports, roads, a racetrack, and even a jail near an Olive Ridley turtle nesting site. The exercise by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has flagged deficiencies in the Union environment ministry’s project approval mechanisms and lapses by state coastal regulatory authorities that threaten efforts to conserve coastal ecosystems.

It has also cited instances of marine pollution — from a poorly functioning sewage treatment plant in Digha that is releasing polluted water into the sea and from the Veraval fishing harbour in Gujarat that is discharging untreated effluents into the sea. File picture/The Telegraph

It has also cited instances of marine pollution — from a poorly functioning sewage treatment plant in Digha that is releasing polluted water into the sea and from the Veraval fishing harbour in Gujarat that is discharging untreated effluents into the sea. Examples of projects that have violated Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules include a jail complex near Bangar in Odisha, within the Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary that has an Olive Ridley turtle nesting site on the beach, resorts in Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu), the Vembanad lake region (Kerala), an illegal road in Udupi (Karnataka), and a racetrack in Pattipulam (Tamil Nadu), the CAG said. https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/audit-lays-bare-numerous-breach-of-indias-coastal-regulations/cid/1879239  (10 Aug. 2022) 

Several projects in coastal regulation zones were approved during 2015-2020 despite inadequacies in environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports, according to a new CAG report. Coastal land up to 500 metre from the High Tide Line (HTL) and a stage of 100m along banks of creeks, lagoons, estuaries, backwater and rivers subject to tidal fluctuations is called coastal regulation zone (CRZ).

The government had in 2019 notified CRZ norms under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 to conserve and protect the environment of coastal stretches and marine areas, and ensure livelihood security to the fishing communities and other local communities.

The CAG report on ‘Conservation of Coastal Ecosystems’ said instances were observed where Expert Appraisal Committees (EAC) of the Union Environment Ministry granted clearances to projects, though domain experts were not present during the deliberations.  Also, cases were noted where the members of EAC were less than half of the total strength during the deliberations as there was no fixed quorum for EAC members, said the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG).

“Projects were approved despite inadequacies in the EIA reports which included non-accreditation of the consultant involved with the preparation of the EIA report, usage of outdated baseline data, non-evaluation of environmental impacts of the project, non-addressal of disasters which the project area was prone to,” the CAG said. Activities forming a part of the mitigation plans like mangrove conservation, replantation, biodiversity conservation plan, rain water harvesting plan were not included in the environment management plan as the same was left to the project proponent to be carried out, the report said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/several-coastal-zone-projects-approved-despite-environmental-impact-assessment-inadequacies-cag-report/article65749308.ece (9 Aug 2022)

MoEF India adds 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites to make total 75 Ramsar sites covering an area of 13,26,677 ha in the country in the 75th year of Independence.  The 11 new sites include:  Four (4) sites in Tamil Nadu, Three (3) in Odisha, Two (2) in Jammu & Kashmir and One (1) each in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Designation of these sites would help in conservation and management of wetlands and wise use of their resources, claimed the MoEF PR, but this is unlikely to be the case considering past experience.  

During 1982 to 2013, 26 sites were added to the list of Ramsar sites, however, during 2014 to 2022, the country has added 49 new wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites.  During this year itself (2022) a total of 28 sites have been declared as Ramsar sites. Based on the date of designation mentioned on Ramsar Certificate, the number is 19 for this year (2022) and 14 for previous year (2021). Tamil Nadu has maximum no. of Ramsar sites (14), UP has 10 Ramsar sites.   https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1851484   (13 Aug. 2022)

Ramsar wetlands numbers reaches 75 The new addition has put India at the top in terms of having the highest number of Ramsar sites among Asian countries, surpassing China’s 64.

The new 11 sites, covering an area of 76,316 hectares, include four in Tamil Nadu (Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary, Suchindram Theroor Wetland Complex, Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary and Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary); three in Odisha (Hirakud Reservoir, Tampara Lake and Ansupa Lake); two in Jammu & Kashmir (Shallbugh Wetland and Hygam Wetland; and one each in Madhya Pradesh (Yashwant Sagar) and Maharashtra (Thane Creek). Hirakud Reservoir with 65,400 hectares is the biggest in the list of 11. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india-at-75/news/india-at-75-no-of-wetlands-with-international-tag-reaches-75-highest-in-asia/articleshow/93551116.cms  (14 Aug. 2022)

Manipur Loktak lake is losing its signature fishing rings Last month, the government ordered all fishing rings and homestays to be dismantled. It has caused disquiet in the local fishing community. https://scroll.in/article/1030366/manipurs-loktak-lake-is-losing-its-signature-fishing-rings-that-may-not-help-conserve-it  (13 Aug. 2022)

Maharashtra First Ramsar site within an urban metropolis Thane Creek was on Saturday (Aug. 06) designated as a Ramsar site. This is the first time a wetland in India located within an urban metropolis has received such a designation. Encompassing a total area of 6,522.5 hectares of which 1,690.5 ha has been declared as the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) and 4,832 hectares notified as Eco Sensitive Zone around the Sanctuary, this is now the largest wetland area declared as a Ramsar site. The state now has 3 Ramsar sites, after the 801-hectare Nandur Madhmeshwar in Nashik district, and the 427-hectare Lonar Lake in Buldhana district were declared Ramsar sites in January and November 2020 respectively. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/west/india-gets-first-ramsar-site-within-an-urban-metropolis-in-maharashtra-1135763.html  (13 Aug. 2022)

The status comes over a year after the Maharashtra forest department moved a proposal for the same, making it the third such site in the state and the first of its kind where a wetland located within an urban metropolis has received such recognition.

The Maharashtra State Mangrove Cell first proposed Thane creek as a Ramsar site on July 8, 2021. The proposal was authorised by the Maharashtra Environment and Climate Change Department on December 9, 2021, but it wasn’t until February 12 of this year that it was formally sent to the MoEFCC by the Maharashtra government. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/thane-creek-gets-ramsar-status-third-site-in-state-101660415891034.html  (14 Aug. 2022)

Madhya Pradesh Raja Bhoj, the great Bhojpur lake and its Mandideep ‘island’ 25 km south east of Bhopal and few kms downstream of Mandi deep is the ancient township of Bhojpur (after Raja Bhoj) straddling an outlier of the Vidhyan system where river Betwa enters a gorge having collected the tributes from its nine founder streams namely Kaliasot, Kerwa, Bangna, Segru, Bansi, Jamni, Godar, Gerwa and Ajnar.

Today the Betwa at the mouth of the gorge is but an apology of a river ferrying largely in non-monsoon months the polluted effluents of industries at Mandideep & the untreated sewage from parts of poorly planned ‘sprawl’ called Bhopal. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/worlds-oldest-dam-bhojpur-lake-raja-bhoj-mandideep-madhya-pradesh-bhopal-india-history-lake-hom-51129 (10 Aug 2022)

Opinion Wetlands must form part of biodiversity framework Ritesh Kumar In November this year, countries will convene in Montreal Canada, to set the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The draft, unfortunately has clubbed wetlands within the terrestrial for land and sea, a trend which has continued since the previous Aichi Targets.

This does not augur well for wetlands as these vital parts of landscapes are left at the margins of policy making and programming. The Global Biodiversity Framework is a vital window for the global community to set a nature positive path – with significant impacts on plans, programmes and investments at all levels. Putting wetlands within this framework would be an important policy signal from decision-makers that they recognise the criticality of wetlands in halting and reversing biodiversity loss and are prepared to act on it. We must therefore do everything in our power to make sure the importance of wetlands is recognised in Montreal later this year and beyond. https://www.thestatesman.com/opinion/wetlands-must-form-part-biodiversity-framework-1503099177.html  (11 Aug. 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Ladakh The Changpas’ way of life is undergoing shocks and disruption The cold desert of the Changthang plateau, situated between the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges and extending up and into Tibet, is a bioculturally unique region. The indigenous people here, the Changpas, embody custodianship as a model of relationship with nature, embedded in ecological pragmatism, an alternative to the modern construct of ownership.

The Changpas’ way of life, based on spatial and temporal choices, is undergoing shocks and disruption because of modern ideas of development and property ownership, encroachments and take-over of lands by the army and other outsiders, and climate change. However, some innovative attempts are being made to deal with the multiple crises that Changthang and the Changpas face. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/08/the-changpas-way-of-life-is-undergoing-shocks-and-disruption/  (05 Aug. 2022)

Chhattisgarh MGNREGS becoming the quintessential scheme for tribal agriculture In the past ten years, 22 farm ponds in Bhiraud and 17 farm ponds in Marrampani have been constructed costing approximately Rs 81 lakhs (material and labour cost). This is the data from the NREGS dashboard. The latest data from the field revealed that in Bhiraud there are 90 farm ponds (many constructed in year 2021) and 50 more are planned. This is particularly celebratory from the point of groundwater conservation as during the same time the number of wells constructed in these two villages was 7 (six individual wells in Bhiraud and one community well in Marrampani).

A farm pond with water in the month of May (Gariabandh, Chhattisgarh). Farm Ponds have brought water security to the tribal villages even in peak summer months. (Image: Meenakshi Singh)

– The villagers stated that they have availed many benefits from these farm ponds and the farm ponds in a way have been life changing for them. Construction of these farm ponds through NREGS has provided them employment and water security. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/mgnregs-becoming-quintessential-scheme-tribal-agriculture  (09 Aug. 2022)

Rajasthan Nadis, an insurance against a dry summer There are areas in Jodhpur, Barmer in W Rajasthan where Orans and Nadis, local water harvesting structures still survive, thanks to Bishnoi community maintaining them. These need strengthening. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/special-story-monsoon-rains-fill-up-traditional-water-harvesting-structures/article65737048.ece  (06 Aug. 2022)

Karnataka ‘Ingu Gundi’ to increase ground water level in Basavanagudi Despite torrential rains in the city, the ground water level is not rising. In this background, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike(BBMP) is interested in the implementation of Ingu Gundi construction and other water restroration projects. A model ground water recharge project is being implemented at cost of Rs 8.79 crore in Basavanagudi assembly constituency. The city receives an annual rainfall of 900 mm. If this water is stored, half of the drinking water problem will be solved. Dependence on Cauvery water will also be avoided. However, in most parts of the Bengaluru, asphalt and concrete roads can be seen along with buildings. Therefore the rainwater is not stored. Meanwhile, mandatory implementation of rainwater harvesting is also difficult. In this background, BBMP has taken interest in the groundwater recharge project. Rs 2.41 crore for Ingu Gundis. https://www.thehansindia.com/karnataka/ingu-gundi-to-increase-ground-water-level-in-basavanagudi-757400   (12 Aug. 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Uttar Pradesh ‘Paddy cultivation leading decline in water table’ The shift towards paddy cultivation is posing a serious environmental challenge for the state, said RK Upadhyaya, head of department of agriculture division of UP remote sensing application centre. He said as the area under rice begins to increase in UP, the problem of farm fires has begun to rise. Since 2010, the state has witnessed a steady rise in incidents of farm fires. “We had identified 25 districts where the incidents of stubble burning were reported. Out of the 25 districts, malpractice of farm fire was rampant in eight districts in NCR region with Mathura topping the list of violators,” said Upadhyaya.

Mathura and Maharajgunj witnessed 1,017 and 975 cases in 2018-19. The government took note of it and due to effective penal and awareness measures, the cases of residue burning dipped to 585 and 365 in Mathura and Maharajgunj respectively in the year 2020-2021. The total number of fire incidents in the state also declined from 5,451 in 2018-19 to 3,412 in 2020-2021, said Upadhyaya.

Upadhyaya said the increasing biannual paddy cultivation, particularly in Pilibhit district, has led to drying up of ground-fed Gomti River at many places. He said the river land was encroached upon and due to conventional puddling methods, water flow was blocked for rice cultivation. This was leading to evaporation of surface water and stoppage of groundwater recharge which further led to decline in water table. He said that in May, the Pilibhit administration launched a month-long project to ensure free flow of river Gomti on a 47-km stretch from its origin at Phulhar lake at Madhotanda village to the boundaries of Shahjahanpur district by removing obstructions in the channel. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/paddy-cultivation-leading-to-rise-in-stubble-burning-decline-in-water-table-in-uttar-pradesh-101660252456796.html  (12 Aug. 2022)

URBAN WATER

Pune 11 organisations from move Bombay HC 11 organisations from the Pune city have approached the Bombay High Court, seeking directions to respective local authorities to supply 135 litres per day to each citizen through a pipeline or any other alternative way immediately, stating that it was the fundamental duty of the civic bodies to do so.

– The 11 organizations that have filed a public interest litigation include Wagholi Housing Societies Association, Pune District Cooperative Housing societies and Apartments Federation, Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat, Pimpri Chinchwad Cooperative Housing Societies Federation Ltd, Baner Pashan Link Road Welfare Trust, Balewadi Residency Cooperative Housing Welfare Federation, Dear Society Welfare Association, Bavdhan Citizens Forum, Hinjewadi Employees and Residents Trust, Aundh Vikas Mandal and Association of Nagar Road Citizens Forum.

– The petition states that the residents, housing societies, and apartment complexes are forced to spend huge amounts of money to purchase water for daily domestic use and drinking water from private vendors. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/water-crisis-11-organisations-from-city-move-bombay-high-court-8079095/  (09 Aug. 2022)

Pushkar Kulkarni on FB post comment:- A picture says a thousand words. Thousands of tankers plying through Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, in the newly merged 23 villages in PMC, PMRDA region while parts of the city receive record rainfall.

Instead of assessing the carrying capacity of the Bhima basin on the whole; the administrations in the region r borrowing+splurging money on unwanted projects like metro and Riverfront development.

The agri economy in peri urban and rural areas of Pune district continue to be hit with alternating bouts of excessive rainfall and water shortage thereby expediting migrations to urban centers ultimately worsening the larger scenario.

Ease of doing business, Transit Oriented Development mean squat in real life.

Bengaluru BWSSB slashes wastage to all-time low The BWSSB has brought down the Unaccounted-for-Water (UfW) to an all-time low of 30 per cent by legalising 60,000 connections, plugging leakages, and replacing old pipelines. UfW is the difference between the amount of water Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) receives and the amount of water that reaches the consumer. BWSSB officials told DH that most initiatives have been made in the last one year. “Over the last 18 months, 60,000 illegal connections have been legalised. Also, wherever there were visible leakages, we have plugged them and replaced the old PVC pipes with MS pipes,” a senior BWSSB engineer explained.

That apart, under the UfW project, the BWSSB has spent close to Rs 600 crore to replace the pipelines in a few areas and has been able to save close to 5,000 million litres of water a month. In March 2017, UfW was at 42.22 per cent and the BWSSB had only managed to bring it down marginally to 38.27 per cent by March 2021. However, from March 2021 to June 2022, the wastage has dropped every month with June recording the lowest at 30.05 per cent. Last year, the then CM, who had reviewed the various projects, had directed the BWSSB officials to bring UfW down to 20 per cent.

However, officials said it is a financially lofty task. “We will need at least Rs 2,000 crore to bring it down to 20 per cent. Now, we have addressed and plugged the loopholes in the soft components,” an official explained. “To further reduce it, we will have to replace all the old pipes, which we have identified during the inspection. We have not been able to take up the work immediately, owing to the financial burden it comes with,” an official further said. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/water-feat-bwssb-slashes-wastage-to-all-time-low-1135328.html  (12 Aug. 2022)

Concrete jungles speed water table depletion In many regions of the city, including Bengaluru East, the water table has recorded a drop of four metres below ground level With rapid concretisation, negligence of city lakes, groundwater levels are dipping While the excess southwest monsoon showers are filling up most of the reservoirs in and around the city and state, the groundwater table has a different story to narrate.

According to a report on groundwater levels in Bengaluru by the Ground Water Directorate Bangalore, the water table in some parts of the city has recorded a drop of more than four metres in June this year, compared to last June. The water table in the Nelamangala area has gone down by over four metres, and in Yelahanka, it has dipped by more than two metres. When it comes to the decadal mean, the water table has recorded a drop of four metres below the ground level in the Nelamangala and Bengaluru East region.

Experts say that rapid urbanisation leading to an increase in impervious surfaces, the poor state of waterbodies, and over-exploitation of groundwater are only some of the reasons behind the depleting water table. “We have concretised all urban spaces and over-extracted water from under the ground. For instance, the Yelahanka area is bustling with construction activities. Such actions will dwindle the groundwater table in the region. It is like your bank deposit. If you will only withdraw and not deposit, the balance will gradually decrease,” said Dr TV Ramachandra, Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/concrete-jungles-speed-water-table-depletion/articleshow/93507212.cms  (12 Aug. 2022)

Chennai CMDA plans Rs 100-cr lake-front projects at 9 places The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) plans to take up lakefront development in nine major lakes at an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore. The nine lakes are: Perumbakkam, Retteri, Mudichur, Madambakkam, Sembakkam, Ayanambakkam, Velachery, Adambakkam and Puzhal. A consultant will also be appointed for the preparation of a detailed project report once the GO is passed.

However, town planners are cautious. “There is no doubt that we need to protect the waterbodies, but cost-benefit analysis has to be done before implementing the project as the cost is huge,” said Association of Professional Town Planners (APTP) president K M Sadanand. “Waterfront development is good but it should not be done just for the namesake. The officials should involve professionals and ensure such developments are maintained,” he said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/aug/13/cmda-plans-rs-100-crore-lakefront-projects-at-nine-places-in-chennai-2487035.html  (13 Aug. 2022)

City lakes to become drinking water sources? Prof. Janakrajan says, “Now, however, the WRD maintains only a few tanks. It’s possible to prevent floods and store rainwater if these tanks are identified and restored,” he said. He said the city now depended on Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh. If, however, the city enhanced its rainwater storage capacity, it could end this dependence.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/aug/01/few-chennai-city-lakes-to-become-drinking-water-sources-2482842.html  (01 Aug. 2022)

Patiala City to get canal-based water by 2023 A new pipeline in the city will ensure supply of canal-based clean drinking water. The pipeline will cover 312 km in the city. At present, the city gets water supply from government-run tube wells installed at 850 feet depth. The MC is currently supplying water pumped out with tube wells. The Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board will install pipelines in the entire city to provide canal-based water. Board officials said once the project was implemented, the city would receive clean drinking water from the Bhakhra canal. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/patiala/patiala-city-to-get-canal-based-water-by-2023-421645  (13 Aug. 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

NGT directs CPCB to drains, canals to minimise sewage pollution NGT has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to take strict measures to prevent the discharge of sewage effluents to water bodies, stressing that stormwater drains, canals and water bodies need to be geo-tagged and given Unique Identification (UID). “CPCB may issue appropriate directions to all PCBs/PCCs within two months, to give effect to section 24 of the Water Act, to the effect that Canals, water bodies (lentic or lotic), and the Natural Storm water drains are not to be used for discharge of treated or untreated trade or sewage effluents. The storm water drains, canals, and water bodies need to be geo-tagged and given UID,” the tribunal’s principal bench headed by Justice (retd) Adarsh Kumar Goel said in a recent order. The direction came during the plea hearing regarding the remedial action for preventing untreated sewage from going to the ‘irrigation canal’, which joins the Yamuna and then Ganga, in Sector 137, NOIDA. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/pollution/news/2022-08-10-cpcb-to-get-tag-stormwater-drains-canals-with-unique-ids  (10 Aug. 2022)

CAG red flags railways’ waste management system The Comptroller and Auditor General has criticised the railways over its waste management system in almost all sectors from stations, coaching depots, maintenance and production units as well as bio-medical waste generated in its hospitals. The CAG report on Waste Management in Indian Railways was presented in Parliament on Monday (Aug. 8). It also pointed out that there is no single body or agency in the Indian Railways solely responsible for handling waste management related issues, adding that there is no system of dedicated fund allocation specifically for waste management.

The report also said the national transporter failed to fully comply with directives of the NGT for implementing 24 verifiable indicators for monitoring of waste management at 36 major stations. In 65 other major stations selected, the progress on implementation of verifiable indicators was not encouraging, it said.

“Effluent Treatment Plants/Sewage Treatment Plants (ETP/STPs), though planned for commissioning in 19 major coaching depots and 40 workshops, were not commissioned as of March 2020. Slow progress in providing water recycling plant and automatic coach washing plant defeated the objectives envisaged in the Indian Railways Water Policy, 2017,” it said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cag-red-flags-railways-waste-management-system/article65749119.ece  (09 Aug. 2022)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

IWP The missing frontline worker Sunderrajan Krishnan India is gearing up to take water to every rural household, but a crucial community connection is missing! https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/missing-frontline-worker  (03 Aug. 2022)

Karnataka New water policy aims at using surface resources The state government on Friday (Aug. 12) approved the State Water Policy-2021, which will look at implementing projects that aim to utilise surface water to ensure adequate water supplies to its citizens. The cabinet also gave the nod to constitute an inter-departmental state water resources authority, headed by the water resources minister. The cabinet also approved various projects worth over Rs 1,000 crore across the state to ensure tap water to every household under the JJM.

As per the proposal by the Water Resources Department, 56 per cent of land in the state is irrigated by groundwater. Karnataka is one of the most water-stressed states in the country with 61 per cent area drought prone. The new policy will address issues of overexploitation of groundwater, geogenic pollutants and biological contamination of water. A system will be evolved to collect water data, its analysis and a decision support system to manage water efficiently, it was suggested. The Advanced Centre for Integrated Water Resources Management, following a recommendation from Jnana Aayoga, had prepared the state draft water policy 2021 for the government. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2022/aug/13/karnataka-okays-new-water-policy-aimed-at-using-surface-resources-2487072.html  (13 Aug. 2022)

Odisha CS sets March 2023 deadline for Keonjhar water project Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra on Thursday (Aug. 11) directed Keonjhar administration to ensure tap water connection to all households of the district by March 2023. Since the State government is giving priority to tap water supply, all the projects taken up under the scheme are to be completed by the end of this financial year. He also reviewed the projects for supply of drinking water round the clock in urban areas. He also asked the officials of Water Resources and Forest departments to speed up the process of obtaining forest clearance for expansion of irrigation canals in the area and dam spillway. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/aug/12/chief-secretarysets-march-2023-deadline-for-keonjhar-water-project-2486789.html  (12 Aug. 2022)

MONSOON 2022

SANDRP Blog High Rainfall days in India’s districts in July 2022 For July 2022, an analysis of the daily district wise rainfall data from India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows that there were 809 (717 in July 2021) instances when district rainfall of a day was above 50 mm. [Considering that the normal monthly rainfall of India July is 285.3 mm, the average daily rainfall in this month is about 9.2 mm.] Such high rainfall instances included 663 (595 in July 2021) instances when rainfall was 50-100 mm, 107 (98 in July 2021) instances when it was 100-150 mm, 28 (17 in July 2021) times it was 150-200 mm and 16 (7 in July 2021) times above 200 mm. Interestingly, in June 2022 there were twenty seven instances when rainfall was above 200 mm, when the rainfall is supposed to be much below July rainfall. As noted in detailed article, the July 2022 rainfall all over India was 16.8% above normal. https://sandrp.in/2022/08/12/high-rainfall-days-in-indias-districts-in-july-2022/  (12 Aug. 2022)

FLOOD 2022

Odisha Nearly 100 Houses Submerged In As Water Released From Hirakud Dam As water was released from the Hirakud dam after heavy rain, about a hundred houses in the vicinity in Odisha’s Sambalpur were submerged. The District Magistrate of Sambalpur informed that several relief centres were also started amid the flood-like situation. “Incessant downpour and opening of 34 gates of Hirakud dam by 9 am on Aug 14 have led to a flood-like situation in Sambalpur. Over 100 houses submerged. Relief centres opened,” DM Ananya Das, Sambalpur. The water level of the dam stood at 616.60 ft against the full reservoir level of 630 ft. The inflow of the water into the dam was 5,79,680 cusecs while the outflow was 5,60,614 cusecs. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/nearly-100-houses-submerged-in-odishas-sambalpur-as-water-released-from-hirakud-dam-3254241  (14 Aug. 2022)

Telangana 26 gates of Nagarjuna Sagar Project lifted to discharge heavy flood All the 26 crest gates of Nagarjuna Sagar Project were lifted for the second day on Friday (Aug. 12) due to heavy inflow from Srisailam reservoir to the project. The inflow to the project was recorded as 4,14,014 cusecs and combined outflow/discharge from all gates was 4,22,292 cusecs. The full water level in the project touched 587.50 feet against full reservoir level of 590 feet. Current water storage in the project was recorded at 305.8030 tmcs against full water storage of 312 tmcs. In 2009 and 2019, when the Krishna River experienced unprecedented floods, all the crest gates were lifted. https://www.indiatoday.in/cities/hyderabad/story/hyderabad-news-sagar-gates-nagarjuna-sagar-project-heavy-flood-water-discharge-1987241-2022-08-12  (12 Aug. 2022)

Gujarat Narmada dam gates to be opened Sardar Sarovar Dam water level have reached 133.6 m, and five gates of the dam are likely to be opened at noon on Aug 12, 2022 to release 10 000 cusecs water. This is in addition to release of 45000 cusecs from riverbed  power  house. Dam level is  going up by 5 cm per hour. Current inflow is 1.57 lakh cusecs. CHPH is releasing 4876 cusecs and 5100 cusecs is being released from Godbole gate. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/narmada-dam-gates-to-be-opened-gujarat-districts-on-alert-8085811/  (12 Aug. 2022)

Residents of villages along Narmada river in Karjan, Dabhoi and Shinor talukas were asked to shift to safer locations on Sunday (Aug 14 2022) owing to rise in the water levels in the river. The move came after over 1.5 lakh cusecs of water was released from Narmada dam on Sunday evening. SSP dam water level has reached 135.11 m, FRL is 138.68  m. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/gujarat-narmada-rivers-gets-1-5-lakh-cusecs-dam-water-villagers-shifted/articleshow/93564868.cms  (15 Aug. 2022)

The water level in the Narmada Dam went up over 135.2 metres on Sunday, just 2.57 metres short of the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 138.68 metres, even as Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) authorities opened 23 of the 30 radial gates of the dam on Sunday afternoon to release about 1.94 lakh cusecs of water into the river. According to a release from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), although two of the five radial gates that were first opened on Friday morning were closed Saturday morning after the inflow from Madhya Pradesh reduced, the heavy inflow recorded over Saturday night prompted the SSNNL to open 15 gates until Sunday morning.

– The Riverbed Powerhouse (RBPH), which started operating at its full capacity in mid-July when the dam was positioned at 119 metres, has generated electricity worth Rs 104 crore in the past 26 days, the release said. – The Canal head powerhouse (CHPH), which has been operating its four units at full capacity since August 12, also produced power worth Rs 2.94 crore in three days until Sunday. [Shows that CHPH was not operating to full capacity till Aug 12.] Inflow int the dam has increased to 2.33 L cusecs by Sunday evening. The water release from the spillway can be increased upto 3 lakh cusecs when needed, officials said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/city-others/23-gates-of-narmada-dam-opened-flood-alert-sounded-in-3-districts-8090266/  (15 Aug. 2022)

Maharashtra Radhanagari Dam in Kolhapur district is100% full and two gates have been opened to release water. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYJVdjRhNQM  (10 Aug. 2022)

On Aug 10, 2022, four gates of the Radhanagari dam were opened to release over 7000 cusecs water. http://www.uniindia.com/~/radhanagari-irrigation-dam-overflowed/States/news/2799307.html  (10 Aug. 2022)

Karnataka Hampi monuments remain flooded in Tungabhadra waters  Continuing rainfall in the Tungabhadra catchment areas and the resultant discharge of over 1.64 cusecs of water from the Tungabhadra reservoir continued to flood many monuments at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi in Vijayanagara district on Wednesday (Aug. 10). 

As per the information provided by the Tungabhadra dam authorities at 6 p.m. on Wednesday (Aug. 10), the reservoir level was 1,631.62 feet, holding 100.289 tmcft of water against the full reservoir level (FRL) of 1,633 feet that could hold 105.788 tmcft. The dam was receiving 1.6 lakh cusecs of water and the authorities maintained the discharge of 1.81 lakh cusecs, including 10,638 cusecs to different canals. As much as 1.7 lakh cusecs of water were being released to the river through the spillway by lifting all the 33 crest gates – 28 gates by 4 feet and 5 by 1 foot.   https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/hampi-monuments-remain-flooded-in-tungabhadra-waters/article65754712.ece  (10 Aug. 2022)

Assam Re-conceptualising flood The conventional flood control measures such as embankments and cognate infrastructures have created a separation between water and land, or between the river and human habitat. This separation has had adverse impacts on local ecologies in the Brahmaputra floodplains. In Majuli, for instance, the wetlands are the biggest casualty of this separation.

Historically, Majuli has been full of wetlands of a wide variety such as beel, jaan, dubi, hola, ghuli and so on. There were over two hundreds of these wetlands on the island, including some legendary ones that dated back to the medieval period and were part of the island’s folklore. Because of the twin processes of flooding and erosion, many of these wetlands have now disappeared. The existing ones, on the other hand, are highly degraded today, as the embankments have severed their connection with the river.

A case in point is the iconic Tuni river. A natural anabranch of the Brahmaputra, the Tuni river once flowed through the center of the island, replenishing a large number of beels along its course. Today however, this river has almost turned into a morasuti (dead channel), chocked with water hyacinth and household and urban wastes. The embankments have ruptured the hydrological cycle on the island with serious ecological consequences. https://www.eastmojo.com/assam/2022/08/08/re-conceptualising-flood-the-assam-floods-in-context/  (08 Aug. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh अपने ही हाथों अपना घर क्यों तोड़ रहे लोग रमेश तिवारी और उनके तीन भाइयों ने टेंट हाउस में नौकरी करके 2 साल पहले पक्का मकान बनवाया था.. लेकिन पिछले हफ्ते उन्होंने उसे अपने ही हाथों हथौड़ों से तोड़ डाला… एक एक पाई जोड़ बनाया मकान तोड़ना उनकी मजबूरी थी, क्योंकि अभी कुछ ईंट और लोहा हाथ आ गया है.. देर करते तो पूरा मकान सरयू में समा जाता…

रमेश तिवारी उत्तर प्रदेश के सीतापुर जिले के रामपुरमथुरा ब्लॉक के अखरी ग्राम पंचायत में रहते हैं..  सीतापुर की महमूदाबाद और बिसवां तहसील के कई गांव बाढ़ की चपेट में आ गए हैं..  पहाडों पर हो रही बारिश से शारदा और सरयू नदी का जलस्तर खतरेे के निशान के ऊपर पहुंच गया है.. जिसके चलते कई जगहों पर कटान जारी है..  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v1P2DlrcwU  (08 Aug. 2022)

URBAN FLOODS

Delhi Why rain brings city to knees in a few hours Experts say that drains in many places have gradients that haven’t been estimated or are sloped wrongly against gravity, due to which flood water cannot flow out without the help of a powerful pump. Also, due to lack of local drains, the stormwater and sewage often flow together in the same line, causing overflowing and aggravating the problem.

“The issue of waterlogging can’t vanish overnight. Merely digging new drains won’t resolve the problem,” asserted professor A K Gosain of the department of civil engineering at IIT-D. “We analysed all the three basins of Delhi — trans-Yamuna, Barapullah and Najafgarh basins — and found each had distinct setbacks. He said in the trans-Yamuna basin, comprising parts of northeast and east Delhi and Shahdara, the majority of drains flowed west to east from the Yamuna to the eastern side of the basin against the natural east to west slope, an example of wrong planning and the cause of waterlogging. In south Delhi, the Chirag Delhi drain too is against the natural gradient from IIT Gate towards Modi Mill.”

Gosain also remarked that the multiplicity of agencies managing the city’s drains has led to a lack of coordination. “The departments managing the drains don’t have exact data or information about the ground, due to which high capacity drains are routed towards those of lesser capacity, leading to flooding. The same is true of data on sewerage,” said Gosain. The absence of local drains is a factor too for flooding, with the stormwater flowing into sewage networks and overflowing. “We made several recommendations backed by plans, but it seems there was a lack of intention on the part of government officials,” Gosain claimed.

There are other reasons that experts cite for the problem of waterlogging in Delhi. Professor C R Babu, head, Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, said, “Several low-lying areas that are plagued by waterlogging have actually lost their wetlands or have been concretised to an extent that their natural drainage system, or raw drains carved naturally in soil to carry water to the wetlands, has disappeared. There used to be hundreds of wetlands across Delhi. But they were neglected, levelled and built over. As a result, so many areas now become waterlogged.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/why-rain-brings-delhi-to-knees-in-a-few-hours-waterbodies-in-disrepair-lack-of-local-drains/articleshow/93415662.cms  (08 Aug. 2022)

Chennai Unscientific SWDs being drained out of Chennai Recognising that several stormwater drain (SWD) projects were implemented in Chennai over the years in an unscientific manner leading to water stagnation during monsoons, the Chennai Corporation has initiated steps to rectify them. As a first step, the civic body has identified 568 places across the city prone to water stagnation during rain. Of these, it was found that stagnant water took five or more days to drain in at least 100 places. As a temporary solution, the civic body has been resorting to relay pumping where several pumps were used to drain water. But the method was only 30% effective compared to water getting drained naturally. Apart from designing and construction/reconstruction of drains, the corporation has identified around 350 locations with defunct drains where water does not flow due to reasons such as cracks in the line or accumulation of silt. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/aug/10/unscientific-swds-being-drained-out-of-chennai-2485962.html  (10 Aug. 2022)

HFL BREACH 2022

Chhattisgarh River Pairi in Mahanadi basin at Malgaon level monitoring site in Gariaband district has crossed old HFL 326.71 m dated 14.07.2022. Present flood level is 327.2 m at 16:00 hours on 10.08.2022 with falling trend.

River Maniyari in Mahanadi basin at Maniyari level monitoring site in Mungeli district has crossed previous HFL 235.88 m dated 30.08.2020. Current flood level is 236.21 m at 11:00 hours on 13.08.2022 with rising trend.

River Hamp in Mahanadi Basin at Andhiyar Khore level monitoring site has crossed old HFL 260.15 m dated 09.10.1994 and has set 260.2 m as new HFL at 15:00 hours on 12.08.2022. which is 0.05 m higher than the old HFL. Present flood level is 259.2 m at 11:00 hours on 13.08.2022 with declining trend.

Madhya Pradesh River Parwati in Chambal basin at Astha level monitoring site in Sehore district has breached old HFL 480.195 m dated 22.08.2020. Present flood level is 480.64 m at 17:00 hours on 10.08.2022 with stable trend.

Maharashtra River Wardha in Godavari basin at Ghugus level monitoring site has crossed old HFL 182.43 m attained on 17.07.2013. Present flood level is 182.65 m at 16:00 hours on 10.08.2022 with rising trend.

Odisha:- River Mahanadi at Boudh level monitoring site in Anugul district has crossed previous HFL 88.6 m dated 14.08.2019. Present flood level is 88.97 m at 10:00 hours on 15.08.2022 with rising trend.

DROUGHT

Report Drought is looming over UP, Jharkhand and Bihar Never have Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand experienced such poor monsoon rainfall in the last 122 years. As farmers in the two states await a good spell to take up sowing, the administration is finalising contingency plans. Food and water scarcity are going to be the real issues in the country’s major rice producing states, with a potential to affect India’s kharif produce this year.

Between June 1 and August 12, the rainfall recorded over Jharkhand was 371.9mm against a normal of 627.6mm, a 41 per cent seasonal deficit. This is the lowest ever rainfall recorded over Jharkhand (June to August) since 1901, the IMD’s rainfall data stated. Only twice before in the last 122 years has Jharkhand experienced such poor rainfall (below 500mm for June to August period) — in 2010 (439mm), and 1993 (469.6mm). A closer rainfall deficit was reported in 2019 (593mm).

For Uttar Pradesh, too, the picture is grim, as the state has recorded only 251.7mm of the seasonal average of 449.1mm till August 12. UP is the most rain deficient Indian state this year and has remained so since the start of the monsoon season, like Jharkhand. Between 1901 and 2021 , UP’s driest monsoon months (June to August) were during 1987 (349.3mm), 2009 (365mm), 1996 (392mm), 2014 (394.3mm), and 1972 (424.3mm).

In a departure from the norm of overflowing Ganges and flooding, the 2022 monsoon has been anything but normal for Bihar. During the ongoing season, Bihar has recorded 376.5mm versus a normal of 602.6mm, a deficit of 38 per cent, till August 12. The 2022 monsoon could turn out to be Bihar’s worst — only once before, in 1972, the state received 375mm during June to August. Earlier poor monsoon seasons for these three months have been in 2010 (466.6mm), 2013 (50.32mm), 2012 (573.9mm) and 1992 (588.7mm).

Overall, the month of July was the driest over the East and Northeast India since 1903; it ended with a 45 per cent rain deficit. Since the monsoon onset, Manipur (-41 per cent), Tripura (-29 per cent) and West Bengal (-21 per cent) remain in the rainfall ‘deficient’ category. Only Assam and Meghalaya, Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim (5 per cent each) and Arunachal Pradesh (-12 per cent, but normal) in the east and northeast India regions have recorded normal rainfall this monsoon season.

This season, only three low pressure systems developed in the Bay of Bengal, mostly off the coast of Odisha. None of these systems impacted Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. Thus, one of the two rain-bearing causes remained out of favour for these states. In addition, this year, the monsoon trough — an east-west low-pressure area extending from the heat low over Pakistan to head Bay of Bengal – remained to the south of its normal position for majority of the days in July-August, so far. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/india-monsoon-rainfall-deficit-uttar-pradesh-jharkhand-bihar-farmers-drought-8087529/ (13 Aug 2022)

W Bengal Trouble in the Rice Bowl Bardhaman region, which is known as the rice bowl of Bengal, has received 47% deficient rainfall leading to a drastic reduction in paddy sowing. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/bengal-rice-production-bardhman-farmers-rainfall-deficit-water-supply-irrigation-paddy-sowing-food-security-51132  (11 Aug. 2022)

LANDSLIDES

Himachal Pradesh Opened last year, highway stretch caves in A portion of the highway between Parwanoo and Solan, inaugurated last year, collapsed Thursday (Aug. 11), bringing traffic on the route to a standstill. Two vehicles were damaged in the collapse. Local residents travelling on the route said the road had shown signs of degradation in the past few days before caving in.

The 39.14 km four-lane stretch between Parwanoo and Solan is part of the 90-km Shimla-Parwanoo project that was conceptualised to reduce travel time from Delhi, Punjab, and Chandigarh. The project began in 2015 and ran into several delays, including a tribunal order halting construction, and the unavailability of labourers during the pandemic among others.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/shimla/opened-last-year-himachal-highway-stretch-caves-in-8087220/  (13 Aug. 2022)

Slush generated from seepage of water from a nullah lying at the base of the road at Shamlech, whose 50-m stretch had caved in, eroded the road on the Solan-Shimla section of National Highway No. 5. Though a culvert had been constructed to regulate the flow of water from the nullah it did not prove effective.

Since such instances of the road having caved in had occurred in the past too on the 39-km stretch of Parwanoo-Solan section of the highway, it has been decided to undertake a geo-technical survey to identify vulnerable sites prone to landslides. The survey will also help understand whether the design was faulty or the executing company failed to adhere to the requisite measures while constructing road at the affected site. The construction of this Rs 748 crore stretch has been mired in controversy ever since its work began in September 2015. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/water-seepage-slush-caused-solan-shimla-road-cave-in-421527  (13 Aug. 2022)

A landslide near Gajj river in Ghera area, about 5 km from Dharamsala has led to formation of a lake on Aug 6, 2022. Water is flowing out from it, but the local residents staying close to the river in the downstream area are afraid of the lake breach bringing floods. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/landslips-form-lake-give-dsala-residents-the-jitters-419557  (07 Aug. 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Bangladesh Talks for major river agreement ahead of PM Hasina’s visit India and Bangladesh are likely to ink at least one major river agreement later this month, The Hindu has learned. The planning for the agreement is being tightly guarded by officials on both sides as water sharing between the two countries is considered to be a sensitive subject given the fact that it often takes political meaning. Apart from the major agreement(s) under discussion, sharing of data of river waters and better flood control planning are expected to feature in the upcoming meeting of the Joint River Commission (JRC) that will meet in the last week of August ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s September 6-7 India visit. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-and-bangladesh-in-talks-for-major-river-agreement-ahead-of-pm-hasinas-visit/article65751288.ece  (09 Aug. 2022)

Bangladesh Thousands Fleeing River Islands These stories are similar to that of the river islands in the Brahmaputra flowing through Assam, a river that then makes its way to Bangladesh, meeting the Meghna and flowing into the Bay of Bengal. The Meghna receives the combined waters of the Padma and Jamuna (as the Brahmaputra is known in Bangladesh). The widest river flowing completely within Bangladesh, the Meghna is 13 km at its widest.

Trawlers are the only means of travel between the islands and the mainland. Photo from Telir Char, June 15, 2022.

Floods in the Meghna riverine system, just like in the Brahmaputra in India, are common, but these are today exacerbated by human activity. For instance, an extensive system of coastal embankments built since the 1960s have reduced flooding, helped manage water levels and enhanced agriculture, according to an August 2019 study on the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta. But these have, the study noted, led to “prolonged water logging due to silting up of river beds and hence reduced drainage capacity of floodplains”, which is further exacerbated by “ill-planned or ill-executed infrastructure projects, such as internal road system, water control infrastructure not being properly maintained and aquaculture and other economic activities obstructing drainage”. https://www.indiaspend.com/climate-change/as-bangladeshs-river-islands-erode-people-struggle-for-a-stable-life-and-livelihood-829569 (6 Aug. 2022)

Bhutan Lost paradise? The hydropower projects and developments along the banks of Punatsangchhu river have scared the birds away. The last herons sighted in the zone was in 2018. No herons were sighted in Zone I for the past two consecutive years. Going by the study, it is evident that disturbance caused by construction activities is affecting their breeding grounds. The Kuri-Gongri basin until Bumdeling, Trashiyangtse was once a rich habitat. No birds were sighted in the last two years. It coincided with the construction of the Kholongchhu hydropower project. https://kuenselonline.com/lost-paradise/  (10 Aug 2022)

India-Nepal NHPC to develop 2 HEPs The $2.4 billion projects include 750MW West Seti and 450MW Seti River, a joint storage project, in western Nepal. The Investment Board of Nepal gave permission to NHPC to study and develop the two projects. https://kathmandupost.com/money/2022/08/09/nepal-gives-nod-to-india-s-nhpc-to-build-two-projects-totalling-1-200mw  (09 Aug. 2022)

Nepal No critical examination of flawed EIA: Experts Nepal has for decades required an environmental impact assessment (EIA) be conducted for development projects, but their quality and monitoring has been largely ineffective, experts say. The issue came to light earlier this year when the top court canceled an airport project in part because of its flawed EIA, which included entire passages lifted directly from a hydropower project’s EIA. Experts say the laws and monitoring mechanisms are in place to ensure the EIA process is effective in mitigating harm to the environment, but that the political will is lacking. https://news.mongabay.com/2022/08/no-critical-examination-of-flawed-environmental-assessments-in-nepal-experts-say/  (11 Aug. 2022)

EUROPE

European drought dries up rivers, kills fish, shrivels crops There has been no significant rainfall for almost two months in Western, Central and Southern Europe. And the dry period is expected to continue in what experts say could be the worst drought in 500 years. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/european-drought-dries-up-rivers-kills-fish-shrivels-crops/articleshow/93523278.cms  (12 Aug. 2022)

The levels of the Rhine River fell to a new low on Friday due to the ongoing drought in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, further restricting the distribution of coal, petrol, wheat and other commodities amid a looming energy crisis. The water level at Kaub near Frankfurt – a key waypoint where the fairway is shallower than elsewhere on the river – fell below 40cm on Friday (Aug. 12) afternoon, the level at which it is no longer economical for many barges to transit the river.

According to a daily bulletin by Germany’s Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration, water levels on the key waterway were at an unusually low level for this point in the year, and was estimated to drop by a further 10-15cm over the coming three or four days. While 14-day weather forecasts predict rising water levels from the middle of next week, the administration said this was unlikely to have a significant impact.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/aug/12/germany-drought-rhine-water-levels-new-low  (12 Aug. 2022)

Water levels on the Rhine River could reach a critically low point in the coming days, German officials said Wednesday, making it increasingly difficult to transport goods — including coal and gasoline — as drought and an energy crisis grip Europe. Weeks of dry weather have turned several of Europe’s major waterways into trickles, posing a headache for German factories and power plants that rely on deliveries by ship and making an economic slowdown ever more likely. Transporting goods by inland waterways is more important in Germany than in many other Western European countries. “The situation is quite dramatic, but not as dramatic yet as in 2018,” said Christian Lorenz, a spokesman for the German logistics company HGK. https://www.euronews.com/2022/08/10/germany-drought-river-rhine-water-levels-could-fall-to-critical-low  (11 Aug. 2022)

A prolonged dry spell and extreme heat made July the hottest month in Spain since at least 1961. Spanish reservoirs are at just 40% of capacity on average in early August, well below the ten-year average of around 60%, official data shows. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/hitting-rock-bottom-drought-heat-drain-spanish-reservoirs-2022-08-10/  (11 Aug. 2022)

South-east England could be tipped into severe and devastating drought without above-average rainfall this winter, while current water use restrictions in London and surrounding areas are expected to last until the newyear even if rainfall returns, ministers have been told. Severe drought would mean even tighter restrictions, such as bans on non-essential uses of water including cleaning windows and filling and maintaining swimming pools. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/14/drought-in-england-could-carry-on-into-new-year-experts-warn  (14 Aug. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Lake Powell Inching Towards Deadpool Lake Powell is rapidly drying up as a result of the scorching mega drought in the Western U.S., and may completely disappear in just decades.  The water levels in Lake Powell are dramatically lower than they were in 2021, which in turn were lower than they were in 2020.

The second largest reservoir in the U.S. by total capacity after Lake Mead, Lake Powell spans the Utah/Arizona border, and is an artificial lake created from damming the Colorado River. As of August 10, water levels were measured to be 3,534.51 feet above sea level. At full pool, Powell’s water line lies 3,700 feet above sea level, and at 3,490 feet, it will reach deadpool levels.  https://www.newsweek.com/lake-powell-drying-deadpool-drought-1733185 (12 Aug 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 08 Aug 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 01 Aug 2022  

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

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