DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 190922: Dams bringing unprecedented changes to the World’s Rivers

A new study published this week once again highlights not so well known impact of large dams on the rivers: role of rivers in building, supplying sediment, nutrients to floodplains, deltas, coastlines, estuaries, oceans and supporting so much biodiversity and how large dams are majorly adversely impacting this role of rivers. The study by scientists at Dartmouth using images from the NASA-US Geological Survey for 414 of the world’s largest rivers show the unprecedented changes the dams are bringing to World’s rivers, the impacts that in many cases are outweighing the impacts of climate change. This is particularly true of the northern hemisphere that includes India, World’s third largest dam builder.

Unfortunately in India, there is very little appreciation or acknowledgement of this role of rivers and how dams are affecting it. The least one can expect is that the Government of India should urgently initiate a study to document and understand this phenomena and also highlight what needs to be done about it. The study should be done by an independent team of multidisciplinary experts.

Study ‘Unprecedented’ changes to world’s rivers River sediment—mostly sand, silt and clay—plays a critical ecological role, as it provides habitat for organisms downstream and in estuaries. It is also important for human life, resupplying nutrients to agricultural soils in floodplains and buffering the rise in sea levels from climate change by delivering sand to deltas and coastlines. But these functions are under threat: In the past 40 years, humans have caused unprecedented, consequential changes to river sediment transport, according to a new study by scientists at Dartmouth published in Science.

In the past 40 years, humans have caused unprecedented, consequential changes to river sediment transport, according to a new study by scientists at Dartmouth published in Science. Using satellite images from the joint NASA-U.S. Geological Survey Landsat program and streamflow data, the researchers examined changes in how much sediment was carried to the oceans by 414 of the world’s largest rivers from 1984 to 2020.

“Humans have been able to alter the world’s biggest rivers at rates that are unprecedented in the recent geologic record,” said lead author Evan Dethier. “The amount of sediment rivers carry is generally dictated by natural processes in watersheds, like how much rain there is or whether there are landslides or vegetation. We found that human activities are overwhelming these natural processes and outweighing the effects of climate change.”

The Maroni River on the Suriname-Guyana border was relatively unaltered in 1993, but by 2021, deforestation caused muddy flows. Credit: NASA Landsat/U.S. Geological Survey

The findings show that widespread 20th-century dam building in Earth’s northern areas—North America, Europe and Asia—reduced the global delivery of water-borne sediment from rivers to the oceans by 49% relative to pre-dam conditions. However, in Earth’s southern areas—South America, Africa and Oceania—sediment transport has increased in 36% of rivers due to major land-use changes, most of which are associated with deforestation.

“Rivers are pretty sensitive indicators of what we’re doing to the surface of the Earth—they are like a thermometer for land-use change,” says co-author Carl Renshaw, an earth scientist at Dartmouth. “It’s well-established that there’s a soil loss crisis in the U.S., but we just don’t see it in the sediment export record because it’s all getting stuck behind these dams, whereas we can see the signal for rivers in the global South.”

Rivers are responsible for creating floodplains, sandbars, estuaries and deltas due to the sediment that they transport. However, once a dam is installed, that supply of sediment, including its nutrients, is often shut off. How dams retain sediment and how land-use practices are increasing downstream erosion are principles the researchers hope can be used to help inform planning decisions and environmental management policies in the future. https://phys.org/news/2022-09-unprecedented-world-rivers.html  (13 Sept. 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Lower Subansiri HEP:- Anuraag Baruah @anuraag05:- Major cave-in at Lower Subansiri Dam located along the border of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier experts had warned that the soil and stone of the region are too soft to support a mega dam like the one being made by NHPC. https://twitter.com/anuraag05/status/1570986093448929281?s=20&t=mLpsxNxJuECvhsGn5EMrng  (17 Sept. 2022)

-A massive landslide has been reported near the Lower Subansiri Hydro-Electric Power plant. As per reports, a part of the dam’s tunnel number 2 broke off as a result of torrential rains, giving way to massive flooding in the vicinity. https://www.facebook.com/northeastlivetv/videos/1464542017347520/?extid=CL-UNK-UNK-UNK-AN_GK0T-GK1C&ref=sharing 

Sikkim Vimal Khawas:- NH10 that connects North Bengal and Sikkim. The first and second pictures show the portion taken down by impounded Tista at 29th mile. Its part of over 8 km pondage of TLDP-III. https://twitter.com/vimalkhawas/status/1570421034503016452?s=20&t=osc6siJWHpNnhvkeGuDmlA  (15 Sept. 2022)

HC sets ‘rigid’ December 31 timeline to repair, restore NH 10 Following the report submitted after the joint inspection, the High Court on September 6 observed, “We are of the view that progress of road repair work, especially between Sevoke (West Bengal) and Rangpo (Sikkim) has been extremely tardy and the time has come for this court to set a rigid timeline in order to ensure that not only the above stretch, but the entire stretch of the arterial road between Sevoke (West Bengal) and Ranipool (Sikkim) — being the lifeline for those residing in Sikkim — is fully repaired and restored by the concerned authorities without citing any further excuse whatsoever, preferably within 31st December, 2022, but not later than 31st January, 2023”.

The court will give no option and issue appropriate action against non-compliance. It said, “We are making it clear that in the event the above timeline is not adhered to by any of the concerned authorities responsible for repairing and restoring the arterial road between the entire stretch as mentioned hereinabove, this court will have no option but to issue appropriate directions for fixing responsibility upon those who are responsible for non-compliance, which will result in exemplary punitive action being taken against them in the strictest manner possible.” https://www.eastmojo.com/sikkim/2022/09/09/sikkim-hc-sets-rigid-december-31-timeline-to-repair-restore-nh-10/  (09 Sept. 2022)

The 65 kilometre stretch of the National Highway runs parallel to Teesta River, a mountainous river that originates in North Sikkim and flows through Bengal to join the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. “What we feared long ago came true. The Teesta Low Dam Projects III and IV at Rambi and Kalijhora generating 132 MW and 160 MW hydropower from the river respectively have caused erosion along a large section of the NH10,” said former wing commander Praful Rao, president of Save The Hills, an NGO working on erosions and landslides in the hills of Darjeeling, and Sikkim.

He further added that hydroelectric projects in the Himalayan region have always been risky and their viability questionable due to their adverse impact on the local ecology. “Another big factor for the landscape in the region is the water accumulated to run the turbines that has led to seepage of water into the highway,” Rao said. “The broadening of the highway without properly managing the rainwater and without putting in place the drainage system is another reason landslides hit the road regularly,” Rao said. https://www.firstpost.com/india/as-nh10-hit-by-repeated-landslides-environmentalists-voice-concern-and-experts-warn-of-security-threat-10364461.html  (10 Feb. 2022)

Under-Construction Rail Project Triggers Ecological Concerns  According to locals, the double threat of landslides and floods is particularly problematic along the 40 km of track that will pass through tunnels inside mountains that stand right next to the Teesta. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that this region, part of the Darjeeling-Sikkim catchment of the river basin, is prone to earthquakes and has been categorised as high-risk seismic zone IV on the seismic zoning map. A landslide expert committee of the West Bengal govt had recommended in 2000 that no construction should be allowed on the rivers in this seismic zone. A member of the committee said that the presence of multiple dams on the river Teesta and its tributaries could accelerate earthquakes and increase the damages, as per a report by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People. Residents say that the risk of landslides and earthquakes have increased since the hydropower projects came into being on the Teesta.

Map showing existing and upcoming hydropower projects in Teesta river. Source: International Water Association.

There are currently three hydropower projects–Teesta Low Dam III, Teesta Low Dam IV and Teesta V–running on the river with two others on its tributaries Rangit and Rammam. At least 15 other hydel projects, 14 in Sikkim and one in West Bengal, will come up on the Teesta basin in the coming years. Teesta Low Dam III regularly impounds water for weeks in the region, including Geilkhola, between Teesta Bazar and Rambi where the proposed Riyang station will come up. It threatens the livelihood and security of local residents in the area, as per a 2016 study published in the Journal of Politics & Governance.

The paper, authored by Vimal Khawas of Sikkim University, says that the water level in the area will rise considerably after the dam, and the area may become susceptible to destabilisation thus triggering new landslides and further destabilisation of already active slides. “There are concerns,” Khawas noted, “that building hydro-dams may lead to river-induced seismicity in this geologically young and seismically active region.” The author pointed out that the 2011 earthquake in Sikkim had triggered landslides as far away as 100 km from the rupture zone. “The fragile geology coupled with mega hydro-dams could further induce earthquakes and the resultant landslides and flash floods could result in a disaster,” the paper said. https://www.indiaspend.com/development/under-construction-sevoke-rangpo-rail-project-triggers-ecological-concerns-831457   (20 Aug. 2022)

The track now being laid will pass through 14 tunnels and over 28 bridges across Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal before ending at Rangpo in Sikkim’s Pakyong district. The line runs across steep terrain in the foothills of the Kanchenjunga mountain range in the outer and lesser Himalayas, alongside NH-10 and adjoining the Teesta river. https://www.indiaspend.com/land-rights/indias-plan-to-counter-chinese-border-infrastructure-will-violate-indigenous-peoples-land-rights-831121  (18 Aug. 2022)

Uttarakhand Parts of Joshimath sinking Large chunks of Joshimath, the quaint town located at a height of over 6,000 feet and considered to be of strategic importance because of its proximity to the Indo-China border — and for being the gateway to Badrinath temple, Sikh shrine Hemkund Sahib, skiing destination Auli and Unesco World Heritage site Valley of Flowers — is slowly sinking.

A multi-institutional team constituted to undertake geological and geotechnical investigation around the town in Chamoli found that it is built on an unstable foundation — a thick cover of landslide material – which can give way in case of heavy rain, tremors, unregulated construction or more footfall than the town’s carrying capacity. The team blamed the “sinking” on the numerous homes, resorts and small hotels that have mushroomed along the Joshimath-Auli road “without regard to the bearing capacity of the town”. Poor drainage, sewage and surface runoff disposal of water and erosion by rivers have compounded the situation.

The panel has suggested that for now all construction in certain places that are close to nullahs (drains) must be stopped and, if necessary, people must be evacuated to safer places. Panel experts have suggested managing the seepage and pore pressure of water and improving drainage. As primary measures, it has recommended regulated development and constant monitoring of the affected areas. The “slopes around the town should be subjected to regular instrumental monitoring to ascertain the magnitude of the problem and clearly demarcate population, infrastructure and other elements exposed to high risk”, the panel recommended. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-parts-of-joshimath-sinking-finds-study/articleshow/94255073.cms  (16 Sept. 2022)

The study for unknown reasons has skipped mentioning impact of Tapovan Vishnugad hydro power project in aggravating the Joshimath sinking problem. The independent experts and even government officials in in past has highlighted it. https://uttarakhandhimalaya.in/experts-cautioned-otherwise-joshimath-will-immersed-in-alaknanda/  (17 Sept. 2022)

6 trekkers ‘discover’ lake with Google Earth’s help A group of six trekking enthusiasts has discovered what they claim is “an unexplored lake about 160m in length and 155m wide with turquoise, crystal-clear water at an altitude of 16,500 feet” in Rudraprayag district of Garhwal. “We spoke to old-time trekkers who know the upper reaches of Rudraprayag district well. However, they were also unaware of any such lake near Nandikund,” Negi said, adding that “in order to be sure, we checked old satellite maps of 1986 and 1992, and found traces of the lake on those maps as well”.

Panwar further said, “Following extensive research with locals and other sources, it was found that the lake was unexplored till date. We did groundwork for 8-9 months before starting the trek on August 27, and reached the lake on September 1.” “There were many lakes — Kasni Tal, Asit Tal, Sunder Tal, Naina Tal and Sujal Sarowar — already discovered in the past — en route,” he said, claiming that they spotted these lakes on the way as well. District administration officials, when queried how the lake remained undiscovered so far, said that “there are multiple water bodies at high altitudes and it is not possible to map all of them”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/6-trekkers-discover-himalayan-lake-in-uttarakhand-with-google-earths-help/articleshow/94234508.cms  (16 Sept. 2022)

FB post comment by Emmanuel Theophilus:- I covered this one perhaps a decade ago, when I inventoried high altitude wetlands in Uttarakhand. I do though agree that many such tarns are either not mapped, or only a few local people know of them.

Meghalya TMC flags threat to Umiam dam The opposition Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday raised concern over the safety of the Umiam bridge due to the plying of overloading trucks. Moving a short duration discussion on the second day of the autumn session of the Assembly, the TMC’s Umroi MLA George B Lyngdoh referred to the state government’s contention that the vibration levels of the vehicles crossing Umiam are safe enough for the longevity of the dam. Lyngdoh wondered if the right materials were used to construct the dam bridge. “The dam is under constant pressure. The government needs to ensure that it is safe and not subjected to overloading. Overloaded vehicles have been a major concern,” he said.

In his reply, Transport Minister Dasakhiatbha Lamare said the state govt is concerned about the condition of the Umiam bridge. “We have deployed our officers to ensure overloaded trucks do not damage the bridge. We are trying to find the best solution to this issue,” he said, adding that a consultant has been engaged to study the feasibility of constructing a new 500-m dam. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/09/13/tmc-flags-threat-to-umiam-dam/  (13 Sept. 2022)

Report 12 Under construction hydropower projects have collective time over run of over 100 years and cost over run of over Rs 31530 crores. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/most-hydel-thermal-power-projects-wallowing-in-time-overruns/94291284  (19 Sept. 2022)

Odisha CWC clearance for 600 MW Upper Indravati Pump Storage Project OHPC chairman BP Sethi said the agency has been engaged in investigation, planning, coordination and erection of three large scale Pump Storage Project (PSP) in Odisha. He said the 600 MW Upper Indravati Pump Storage Project achieved a major milestone by obtaining Inter-State clearance from the CWC under Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India on September 13, 2022. The proposal for Upper Indravati Pump Storage Project will now be submitted before Central Electricity Authority (CEA) seeking Techno-Economic Clearance (TEC) after which Detailed Project Report will be finalized and further progress on execution of the project will be diligently made, Sethi said. This pump storage project located in the remote part of Kalahandi district. https://www.theweek.in/wire-updates/business/2022/09/18/ces2-od-hydro-power-psp.html  (18 Sept. 2022)

DAMS

Kaleshwaram Project Union Govt Cannot Pretend to Be Shocked Biksham Gujja Government bodies gave clearances and praised the project, while government-run financial institutions extended hefty loans to the very expensive effort. To claim that the Telangana government is singularly responsible for it is wrong.

Indeed, the Kaleshwaram project is very controversial and its cost and benefits, and that fact that its pumps are submerged in water were extensively reported. The two Union ministers appear to now be accepting what civil society in Telangana had been articulating all along – even before the project work stared. https://thewire.in/political-economy/kaleshwaram-lift-irrigation-project-nirmala-sitharaman-shekhawat  (14 Sept. 2022)

Telangana Plea for EC to Palamuru-Rangareddy project The Telangana govt has urged the Centre to give Stage II clearance for Palamuru-Rangareddy lift-irrigation scheme to speed up works on the project. The request was made at a virtual meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forest with irrigation officials of the State. Special Chief Secretary, Irrigation, Rajat Kumar, who made the presentation to the committee said there was some delay in submitting Environmental Impact Assessment Report and Environmental Management Protocol due to Covid which affected the schedule of the project.

Image Source: The Hindu

– The project envisaged irrigation for 12.3 lakh acres in Mahabubnagar, Rangareddy, Narayanpet, Vikarabad, Nagarkurnool and Nalgonda districts and drinking water for 1,226 villages through diversion of 1.5 tmc ft water per day for 60 days a year. The project was designed with multi-stage reservoirs whose construction was completed at Narlapur (8.51 tmc ft), Edula (6.55 tmc ft), Vattem (16.74 tmc ft), Karivena (17.34 tmc ft) and Uddandapur (16.03 tmc ft). Only the construction of pump-houses was left to be taken up.

– The Centre had asked the State government in 2017 to take up a public hearing on environmental aspects of the project to facilitate environmental clearance. But, it was done only last year and a formal application for clearance was made now. The expert team headed by Prof Gopa of Indian Institute of Science heard the arguments of Special Chief Secretary, Irrigation, Rajat Kumar, at the virtual conference. Mr Rajat Kumar said the works on the project were nearing completion when the National Green Tribunal intervene on a petition by some farmers.   https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/plea-for-environmental-clearance-to-palamuru-rangareddy-project/article65896143.ece  (15 Sept. 2022)

Uttam Kumar Reddy demands experts panel on dams Congress’ Nalgonda MP Uttam Kumar Reddy on Saturday (Sept. 17) demanded that the state government constitute an expert committee to study the safety of all existing dams and implement all its recommendations without any delay. Reddy who inspected the left canal of Nagarjunasagar Project (NSP) which got breached last week, interacted with officials on the extent of damage and the repair works carried out. He spoke with residents of Mupparam, Gantukagudem and Narsimhulagudem, who had lost their crops, spread over 1,000 acres. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/170922/uttam-kumar-reddy-demands-experts-panel-on-dams.html  (18 Sept. 2022)

CWC As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 15.09.2022, live storage available in these reservoirs is 153.033 BCM, which is 86% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs.

Last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 129.127 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 129.871 BCM. http://www.cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/15092022-pdf.pdf 

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

SYL Sharda-Yamuna river link is solution to SYL dispute: Jagmeet Brar Senior vice president of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Jagmeet Brar on Thursday (Sept. 15) appealed to PM Modi to consider the long-pending Sharda-Yamuna river link project in the larger interest of Punjab. At a press conference, Brar said he would work to unite various political parties and socio-religious to press upon the Centre government for the cause. “PM Modi had supported the Sharda-Yamuna link as the interlink of rivers can be a viable solution to mitigate irrigation crisis in Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Punjab has no surplus river water and the project is a solution to the old Satluj Yamuna link issue,” said the former Lok Sabha member. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/shardayamuna-river-link-is-solution-to-syl-dispute-jagmeet-brar-101663259394402.html  (15 Sept. 2022)

Cauvery Water Disputes Tamil Nadu got 3 times the yearly allocation in just 4 years In a reply to a query raised by MLC Dinesh Gooligowda, Water Resources Minister Govind Karjol told Council, “The state has released 416.65 tmcft to TN in just four months as against the allocation of 177.25 tmcft of water made to lower riparian state for the entire water year by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal.” In fact the actual allocation to Tamil Nadu in four months between June and September is 101.08 tmcf. This year, the river water flows into the neighbouring state clocked three times more than the quantum determined by the tribunal. As per the data provided by the government, in the month of August alone, the water released to Tamil Nadu has crossed the allocation made for the entire year. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/cauvery-tamil-nadu-got-3-times-the-yearly-allocation-in-just-4-years-1146213.html  (18 Sept. 2022)

IRRIGATION

Tamil Nadu Govt releases Rs35 cr to build new check dam in Kanchi The State government has released Rs 35.21 crore in the first phase for the construction of a check dam in Cheiyaru river. Water Resources Department (WRD) will begin tendering by month end and the work is likely to begin in November. A WRD source said cultivation in Kancheepuram district depends on Cheiyaru, Palaru, and Vegavathi rivers. As no storage capacity has been built on these rivers, almost all the monsoon water drains into the sea.

Another official said that WRD had planned a 455-metre-long check dam at Uthiramerur taluk in Kancheepuram district to divert water to a few lakes in Thiruvannamalai district and help groundwater recharge in both the districts. WRD had also submitted a DPR to TN government on constructing three additional check dams on rivers Vegavathi and Palaru in Kancheepuram. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/sep/17/tn-govt-releases-rs-35-crore-to-build-new-check-dam-on-cheiyaru-in-kanchi-2499086.html (17 Sep 2022)

Punjab Lookout notice against former SAD minister As the investigation into the multi-crore irrigation scam begins afresh, the Government has issued a lookout circular against three former bureaucrats and two Akali leaders. The circular has been issued against former Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal, former Special Chief Secretary KBS Sidhu and former Secretary KS Pannu. The circular has also been issued against two former Irrigation Ministers (in the then Badal government between 2007-2012 and 2012-2017), Sharanjit Singh Dhillon and Janmeja Singh Sekhon.

Last week, permission was granted by the state government under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act to investigate the role of the three former IAS officers. All suspects, along with some personal staff members of the former ministers, have been accused of taking bribes from contractor Gurinder Singh and allotting him work worth Rs 1,200 crore in the Irrigation Department. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/lookout-notice-against-2-former-sad-ministers-433095  (19 Sept. 2022)

CM orders fresh probe into irrigation scam during the SAD-BJP regime against two ministers and three IAS officers. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/nod-to-fresh-probe-into-irrigation-dept-scam-432133  (16 Sept. 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

Chambal Riverfront Flood, Kota बाढ़ ने बिगाड़ी रिवर फ्रंट के निचले हिस्से की दशा नगर विकास न्यास द्वारा करोड़ों रुपए की लागत से बनाए जा रहे चम्बल रिवर फ्रंट के निचले हिस्से के उखड़े पत्थर उसकी दांस्तां बयां कर रहे हैं। घाटों से नीचे जाने के लिए बनाई गई सीढ़ियों के  अधिकतर पत्थर उखड़ चुके हैं। साथ ही कई छतरियां पानी में बह गई। जिन्हें बनाने में फिर से मशक्कत करनी पड़ेगी। अगस्त के अंतिम सप्ताह में कोटा बैराज से छोड़े गए लाखों लीटर पानी का दबाव जैसे ही रिवर फ्रंट के निचले हिस्से में बनाई गई सीढ़ियों पर पड़ा वैसे ही उसने यहां हो रहे काम की पोल तो खोली ही। साथ ही इंजीनियरों व श्रमिकों के काम पर भी पानी फेर दिया। पिछले करीब दो साल से यहां सैकड़ों श्रमिक व इंजीनियर दिन रात काम कर रहे हैं। बड़ी-बड़ी और भारी भरकम मशीनें लगी हुई हैं। करीेब 250 मीटर ऊंचाई तक रिवर फ्रंट को पहुंचाने में जो मेहनत लगी उस मेहनत पर कोटा बैराज के पानी से आई बाढ़ ने दशा ही बिगाड़ दी। हालत यह है कि कोटा  बैराज के 16 गेट खोलकर सवा पांच लाख क्यूसेक ही पानी छोड़ा गया। यदि वर्ष 2019 की तरह सभी 19 गेट खोलकर 7 लाख क्यूसेक से अधिक पानी छोड़ा जाता तो उस समय 250 मीटर ऊंचाई तक पानी पहुंचने से इससे भी बुरी दशा देखने को मिलती। कोटा बैराज से लेकर नयापुरा स्थित रियासतकालीन पुलिया तक निचले हिस्से की न केवल सीढ़ियों के ही बड़े-बड़े पत्थरों को उखाड़ कर फेक दिया। वरन् कारीगरों की मेहनत से तैयार कर रिवर फ्रंट का सौन्दर्य बढ़ाने के लिए लगाई गई कई छतरियां तक नदी के पानी में बह गई।

पानी के तेज बहाव व थपेड़ों के कारण उखड़े भारी भरकम पत्थरों में से अधिकतर तो बिखरकर वहीं पड़े हुए हैं। जबकि कई पत्थर नदी में पानी के  साथ बह गए। वहीं कई जगह की छतरियां भी पानी में बह गई। यह स्थिति किसी एक जगह विशेष की नहीं है। चम्बल माता की मूृर्ति के पास का हिस्सा हो या शिवदास घाट के पास का । नयापुरा स्थित रियासतकालीन पुलिया के पास का हिस्सा हो या मध्य में बनी दुकानों के पास का हिस्सा। हर जगह की दुर्दशा आंसू बहा रही है। रिवर फ्रंट के दोनों तरफ अधिकतर हिस्से की है। नदी के इस पार और नदी के उस पार कुन्हाड़ी साइड पर दोनों तरफ की हालत इतनी अधिक खराब हो गई कि उसे देखकर लगता है हर साल बरसात के मौसम में  कोटा बैराज के अधिक गेट खुलने व बाढ़ आने पर इसीे तरह के दृश्य देखने को मिलेंगे। एक तरफ बाढ़ से रिवर फ्रंट की दुर्दशा दिखाई दे रही है। वहीं दूसरी तरफ न्यास अधिकारी व आर्किटेक्ट का कहना है कि बाढ़ से रिवर फ्रंट को कोई नुकसान नही हुआ है। https://dainiknavajyoti.com/article/21782/the-uprooted-stones-are-telling-the-plight-of-the-river-front  (05 Sept. 2022)

कोटा के निचले इलाकों में पानी भर गया। गहलोत सरकार को रिवरफ्रंट के काम में बड़ा नुकसान झेलना पडा है। रिवर फ्रंट में समानांतर ब्रिज के नीचे गार्डन बनाया जा रहा है। गार्डन की सेफ्टी वाॅल बनाई गई थी, वॉल के नीचे से पानी रिस कर गार्डन में पहुंच गई। साढ़े 3 किलोमीटर लंबे रिवर फ्रंट के कई घाटों को भी नुकसान पहुंचा है। लगाए गए पत्थर,तेज बहाव में बह गए। रिवरफ्रंट चंबल की जद में हैं। यहां बड़ा नुकसान हुआ है। https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/rajasthan/kota/rajasthan-heavy-rain-leads-to-flood-like-situation-in-kota-and-bundi-latest-update/articleshow/93717387.cms  (23 Aug 2022)

कोटा बैराज के 18 गेट खोलने और 5.20 लाख क्यूसेक पानी छाेड़ने के बाद चंबल रिवर फ्रंट के 247 लेवल तक पानी पहुंच गया। जिससे सीढ़ियां डूब गई। यहां घाट, बिल्डिंग व एलिवेशन सभी लेवल 250 के ऊपर है। इसलिए सारा निर्माण सुरक्षित है, सीढ़ियाें काे नुकसान का पता पानी उतरने पर लगेगा। वहीं बैराज के पास बनाई रिटर्निंग वाॅल में रिसाव हाेने से गार्डन में पानी भर गया, हालांकि किसी नुकसान की बात से यूआईटी के अधिकारी इनकार कर रहे हैं। रिवर फ्रंट का निर्माण वर्ष 2019 में सर्वाधिक पानी छाेड़ने का आधार मानकर किया गया। तब 250 के लेवल तक पानी पहुंचा था। UIT अधिकारियाें का कहना है कि तीन दिन आए पानी से रिवर फ्रंट के काम की एक तरह से टेस्टिंग हाे गई। काेई कमी रही हाेगी ताे पानी उतरने पर दुरुस्त करा लेंगे https://www.bhaskar.com/local/rajasthan/kota/news/water-up-to-10-feet-below-the-river-front-some-stairs-submerged-leaking-in-the-returning-wall-130224243.html (24 Aug 2022)

नयापुरा कुन्हाड़ी को जोड़ने वाला रियासतकालीन पुल जलमग्न हो गया। चंबल रिवर फ्रंट का निर्माण कार्य बुरी तरह से प्रभावित हुआ है। https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/rajasthan/kota/heavy-rain-caused-flooding-in-chambal-river-kota-barrage-an-jawahar-sagar-dam-gate-opened/articleshow/93119158.cms  (25 July 2022)

Some video reports showing flood affecting Chambal river front work and inuntaing local areas. 1. Heavy machines struck in Chambal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mwJLTfA5TQ  (26 July 2022) 2. Chamabl river front work flooded. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLPNVQ-7sZ0  (22 Aug. 2022)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsMXxo6vkpE  (22 Aug. 2022) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQOjhZBc7So  (24 Aug. 2022) 3. Flood in Chambal affecting low lying areas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8FqrMZDHAo  (23 Aug. 2022) 4. Floolding in Kota city along Chambal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFbC19eCCXc  (25 Aug. 2022) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OVsEjGp7O0  (24 Aug. 2022)  5. Chambal river front work after July 2022 flood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uw3Zd-NuEw  (27 July 2022)

हालात यह है कि 2 दिन में हल्की बारिश के बाद ही चंबल नदी के किनारे बसी निचली बस्तियों में पानी भरने लगा है। नयापुरा इलाके की एक बस्ती में तो घरों में पानी घुसने लगा है और लोग परेशान हो रहे हैं। हालांकि इस इलाके से ज्यादातर लोगों को पहले ही शिफ्ट कर दिया गया था, क्योंकि क्षेत्र में चंबल रिवर फ्रंट का काम चल रहा है। लेकिन कम बारिश के बाद भी कॉलोनियों में पानी भरना साफ संकेत देता है कि आने वाले दिनों में कोटा में बाढ़ की स्थिति फिर से बनने वाली है। कोटा की चंबल किनारे बसी सभी निचली बस्तियां, खंड गावड़ी, देवली अरब रोड के इलाके, अंनतपूरा के इलाके हर साल बाढ़ की चपेट में आते हैं। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/rajasthan/kota/news/water-started-filling-in-low-lying-settlements-on-the-banks-of-chambal-rescue-teams-on-alert-mode-130064005.html (Jul 2022)

कोटा में भारी बारिश के बाद बाढ़ के हालात बन गए हैं। मंगलवार (Aug. 23) दोपहर बाद जब कोटा बैराज से 500000 क्यूसेक से ज्यादा की पानी की निकासी हुई तो निचली बस्तियों में हड़कंप मच गया। चंबल किनारे बसी इन बस्तियों में पानी भरने लगा। बस्ती के शिवदास घाट पूरी तरह पानी में डूब गया। इधर हरिजन बस्ती, बाबा घाट मैं स्थिति भयावह हो गई। दो मंजिला मकान पूरी तरह डूब गए। लोग सामान लेकर पलायन कर गए। जाते समय उनके पास घर के कुछ सामान थे और 3 साल पहले आई बाढ़ की याद। कोटा बैराज से भारी पानी की निकासी के बाद दो दिन में 12 से ज्यादा कॉलोनियां जलमग्न हो गई।

साल 2019 में आई बाढ़ में भी यही हाल थे और लाखों का नुकसान लोगों का हुआ था। मकान तक क्षतिग्रस्त हो गए थे। हालांकि साल 2019 में 7 लाख 9 हजार क्यूसेक पानी छोड़े जाने की वजह से ज्यादा तबाही मची थी। पानी उतारना शुरू होने के बाद नुकसान का सही आकलन हो पाएगा। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/rajasthan/kota/news/water-filled-up-to-15-feet-people-left-the-house-before-the-rescue-team-arrived-130234399.html  (26 Aug. 2022)

नयापुरा ब्रिज से रंगपुर ओवरब्रिज तक चंबल नदी पर कुल 13km में उद्यान बनेंगे। यह काम चंबल रिवर फ्रंट के सैकंड फेज में जनवरी में शुरू हाे जाएगा। पहले फेज में 6 km क्षेत्र काे हैरिटेज थीम पर डेवलप किया जा रहा है, जाे दिसंबर में पूरा हाेने की संभावना है। सैकंड फेज पर 1 हजार कराेड़ रुपए खर्च का अनुमान है। दाेनाें फेज पूरे हाेने पर चंबल रिवर फ्रंट 19 किमी होगा जो साबरमती रिवर फ्रंट के बराबर और न्यूयाॅर्क के हडसन रिवर फ्रंट से लंबा हाेगा। फर्स्ट फेज के आर्किटेक्ट अनूप भरतरिया के अनुसार सैकंड फेज की डिजाइन करीब-करीब तैयार है। साबरमती के फर्स्ट फेज की लंबाई 11.5 किलाेमीटर है। जबकि, सैकंड फेज अब शुरू हुआ है।

हाल ही काेटा बैराज से 5.20 लाख क्यूसेक से अधिक पानी निकाला था। बावजूद इसके रिवर फ्रंट के फर्स्ट फेज के कारण बाढ़ से शहर में नुकसान अपेक्षाकृत कम रहा। पिछले बरसाें की तरह तबाही नहीं हुई। सैकंड फेज को भी बाढ़ नियंत्रण के उद्देश्य से डिजाइन किया है। चंबल के दाेनाें किनाराें पर 6.50-6.50 किलाेमीटर रिटेनिंग वाॅल बनाकर गार्डन विकसित किए जाएंगे। रिवर फ्रंट का फर्स्ट फेज पूरी तरह से हैरिटेज लुक पर है। इसमें रेत, सीमेंट, लाेहे के बड़े-बड़े स्ट्रक्चर तैयार किए गए हैं। 6 किलोमीटर में मात्र 10 प्रतिशत ही हरियाली है। इसके विपरीत सैकंड फेज में 10% हिस्से में पक्के स्ट्रक्चर हाेंगे जबकि बाकी 90 प्रतिशत भाग में हरियाली हाेगी। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/rajasthan/kota/news/parks-will-be-built-on-both-sides-of-the-river-with-1000-crores-in-13-km-the-entire-project-will-be-equal-to-sabarmati-front-130266747.html  (3 Aug. 2022)

Kanpur जयपुर की द्रव्यवती नदी की तरह ही गंगा की सहायक नदियों का उद्धार किया जाएगा। इसके लिए प्रोजेक्ट तैयार किया जा रहा है। गंगा की सहायक नदियों (पांडु व नून नदी) को पुराने स्वरूप में लाने की कवायद तेज कर दी गई है। नेशनल इंस्टीट्यूट ऑफ अर्बन अफेयर्स नई दिल्ली और NMCG ने इस पर काम शुरू कर दिया है।  कानपुर में पांडु नदी के अंदर 5 करोड़ लीटर से ज्यादा सीवेज गिरता है। कानपुर के 5 बड़े नाले इन नदियों में गिरते हैं। वहीं बड़ी आबादी पांडु नदी के किनारे बसने से रोज का सीवेज और प्रदूषित पानी गिर रहा है। इसके अलावा नून नदी में सीवेज बड़ी संख्या में गिर रहा है।

गुजरात के साबरमती और लखनऊ के गोमती रिवर फ्रंट की तर्ज पर कानपुर में गंगा रिवर फ्रंट बनाया जाएगा। इसकी तैयारी शुरू कर दी गई हैं। गुजरात कैडर के आईएएस केशव वर्मा द्वारा सितंबर 2020 में किए गए डिजिटल प्रेजेंटेशन पर शासन ने आखिरकार सहमति जता दी है। देश में कानपुर पहला शहर होगा जो गंगा की सेहत सुधारने के लिए अर्बन रिवर मैनेजमेंट प्लान तैयार करेगा। इस प्लान की रूपरेखा तैयार कर ली गई है। जिसमें बताया गया है कि नदी के किनारे 16 किलोमीटर के दायरे को खूबसूरत बनाया जाएगा। प्रमुख सचिव आवास एवं शहरी नियोजन दीपक कुमार ने आईआईटी की मदद लेने का निर्देश दिया है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/uttar-pradesh/kanpur/news/like-the-extinct-dravyavati-river-pandu-and-noon-rivers-will-be-cleaned-pandu-river-jaipur-noon-river-nmcg-kannauj-fatehpur-farrukhabad-ganga-kanpur-129796840.html  (June 2022)

उज्जैन  शहर में लुप्त हो चुकी चंद्रभागा नदी पुनर्जीवित हो गई है। 10 किमी लंबे नदी मार्ग पर 8-20 फीट गहरा पानी है, जबकि चार महीने पहले तक नदी महज बरसाती नाला और पगडंडी दिखती थी। अप्रेल 22 में शिप्रा संरक्षण संस्था के साथ पत्रिका अमृतम जलम् अभियान में नदी को पुनर्जीवित करने का संकल्प लिया गया था। तीन-चार गांवों के लोग अभियान से जुड़े। नदी को कुछ जगह 10-15 फीट तक गहराकर 30 फीट तक चौड़ा किया। तब पानी भी निकल आया था। बारिश के बाद नदी पुराने स्वरूप में लौट रही है।

चंद्रभागा नदी में बारिश का पानी संग्रहित रहे, इसके लिए चार-पांच स्थानों पर स्टॉप डैम भी बनाए हैं। अब नदी किनारे घन पौधरोपण किया जाएगा। इसके लिए जगह भी चिह्नित की गई है। चंद्रभागा नदी के पुनर्जीवन करने को लेकर रास्ते में आने वाले मुल्लापुरा सहित अन्य गावों के रहवासियों ने बढ़-चढ़कर योगदान दिया। ग्रामीणों ने केवल नदी सफाई व गहरीकरण में श्रमदान ही नहीं किया, बल्कि नदी के रास्ते मे आने वाली कुछ जमीन भी दी। यहां तक कि कुछ जगह अतिक्रमण हो गया था, उसे भी हटाया गया।

चंद्रभागा नदी क्षिप्रा की सहायक नदी होकर करीब 50 वर्ष पहले प्रवाहमान थी। यह नदी मोहनपुरा क्षेत्र की कटिली पहाड़ियों से निकलती थी और मुल्लापुरा होते हुए 12-15 किमी का रास्ता तय कर क्षिप्रा नदी में सोमवती कुंड में मिलती थी। बीते सालों में नदी के उद्गम स्थल व रास्तों पर अतिक्रमण होने से यह सूख गई थी। धीरे-धीरे अस्तित्व खत्म हो गया। अब स्थानीय लोगों को छोड़कर लोग इसका नाम तक भूल गए थे। https://www.patrika.com/ujjain-news/lost-chandrabhaga-river-revived-in-mp-7722919/ (21 Aug 2022)

RIVERS

Veditum India Gleaning stories from River Sindh  Very detailed, informative piece with telling photographs and line drawings by Poorva Goel based on a 15 days long walk along  Sindh river under Moving Upstream: Sindh Fellowship by Veditum India.

The Sindh is a conduit of life- culture, local economies, biodiversity and more. The Sindh, 470km long, forms an essential part of this intricate mesh of several tributaries, rivers and distributaries that have cradled and nurtured life across the northern span of India. A better understanding of the river, its significance and why it must flow freely could keep this channel of life from disappearing out of existence. https://veditum.org/2022/09/16/gleaning-stories-from-river-sindh/  (16 Sept. 2022)

Odisha Legend behind origin of River Baitarani The holy Baitarani river has an interesting legend behind its origin. It originates from the Gonasika/Guptaganga (Cow Nose Shaped) hills, and starts flowing over a stone looking like the nostril of a cow. Afterwards for about half a kilometre the river flows underground and is not visible from outside. The Baitarani is known here by the name Guptaganga or the Gupta Baitarani, in Gonasika of Keonjhar district. River Baitarani is also termed as the Ganga of Odisha. https://kalingatv.com/features/here-is-the-legend-behind-origin-of-river-baitarani-in-odisha/  (13 Sept. 2022)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh Govt fined Rs 120 crore for failing to control water pollution NGT on Thursday (Sept. 15) fined the state government Rs 120 crore as environmental compensation for improper management of liquid and solid waste, reported PTI. A bench led by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel held that the state government was accountable for discharging at least 55 MLD of untreated sewage into drains, rivers and other water bodies in and around Gorakhpur.

The bench was hearing a petition seeking action against contamination of water bodies and groundwater because of the discharge from untreated sewage and industrial effluents in and around Gorakhpur district. At the last hearing on March 30, the tribunal had noted serious failure on the part of the authorities in controlling water pollution, PTI reported. The tribunal directed the state government to deposit the amount within a month. It also directed the government to set up a six-member joint committee for planning and exectuing remedial measures to meet the norms, preferably within six months, failing which further compensation could be levied. https://scroll.in/latest/1032954/uttar-pradesh-fined-rs-120-crore-for-failing-to-control-water-pollution  (15 Sept. 2022)

The committee has been asked to prepare an action plan within a month. Besides, it will also run and monitor the sewage treatment plant. The NGT has asked the committee to check encroachment along the rivers and the lake and ensure plantation. It will submit the ‘action taken report’ to the NGT in six months. According to environmental activist Ashish Awasthi, Gorakhpur has been witnessing water borne diseases and floods due to contamination and encroachment. He said that river silt is never cleared and neither is there any treatment of sewage water flowing into it. Awasthi alleged that funds have been allocated for the beautification of water bodies but nothing concrete has been done to check pollution. https://www.freepressjournal.in/india/uttar-pradesh-ngt-acts-tough-on-pollution-of-water-bodies-in-cm-yogi-adityanaths-home-turf-gorakhpur  (17 Sept. 2022)

YAMUNA ‘Grand old river warrior’ passes away at 88 Commander Sureshwar Dhari Sinha, an Indian Navy veteran and environmentalist who played a crucial role in petitioning the Supreme Court in a matter concerning flow of water in the Yamuna, passed away at his home in Delhi on Sep 4. An activist, he tried to draw attention to the state of the rivers, particularly the Yamuna and the Ganga, said C Uday Bhasker, his son-in-law. “He set up his own NGO called Paani Morcha… he was the chairman. They used to work here in Delhi and in Bihar. As he grew older, he was not able to sustain the NGO, and it is now not particularly active. He was also against a lot of the dams and diversions that were being done,” Bhasker said.

Commander Sureshwar Sinha was an Indian Navy veteran & environmentalist. TIE

Manoj Misra, convenor, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, said, “For us, he was the grand old river warrior. The first real Supreme Court case for the Yamuna was filed by him, and he did it single-handedly. He had no lawyer to represent him. This was a case which, for the first time, asked for e-flow in the river. It was the case in which the Supreme Court directed that a minimum of 10 cumecs must be there in the river throughout. It was a very impactful piece of work, though later on, he focused more on Ganga. He was one of the founder members of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan and one of our patrons.” “He had seen the river in better health. When he came back to Delhi after retirement, the kind of river he saw shocked him,” Misra added.

Manu Bhatnagar, Principal Director of the Natural Heritage Division, INTACH, said, “In 1994, he was instrumental in getting the judgment from the Supreme Court which ensured that Haryana had to maintain drinking water supply of Delhi. Thereafter, he formed an organisation, Paani Morcha, through which he continued to fight for water resources and sensible environmental resource management in the Himalayas. Since we both worked on water resources, we got together and he had also made me an official of Paani Morcha.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/sureshwar-sinha-grand-old-river-warrior-who-fought-for-yamuna-passes-away-at-88-8133178/  (6 Sep 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

MoEF Oct 5 to be designated as National Dolphin Day The Union environment ministry has designated October 5 as the National Dolphin Day, to be celebrated annually starting this year. The decision to designate a National Dolphin Day was taken by the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) on Friday according to a statement by the environment ministry.

“It is true that dolphins need community conservation. They also need a minimum flow in the river and less underwater and overwater noise. River projects like waterways or even river interlinking need to take dolphins into mind. India is as important for the Ganges river dolphins as it is for the tiger- most of the global population is here. A day is a good step but the real work will be in letting rivers flow with clean water and saying no to projects that break up rivers,” said Neha Sinha, conservation biologist and author.

A WWF-India and the Uttar Pradesh forest department assessment in 2012 and 2015 recorded 1,272 dolphins in the Ganga, Yamuna, Chambal, Ken, Betwa, Son, Sharda, Geruwa, Gahagra, Gandak and Rapti. (HT FILE PHOTO,)

A WWF-India and the Uttar Pradesh forest department assessment in 2012 and 2015 recorded 1,272 dolphins in the Ganga, Yamuna, Chambal, Ken, Betwa, Son, Sharda, Geruwa, Gahagra, Gandak and Rapti. “Due to multiple threats, including pollution, water diversion, habitat fragmentation, and bycatch, the Ganges river dolphin is seriously threatened. Several major infrastructure projects within its region will impose a real risk for catastrophic population decline in the future,” states the US based National Marine Mammal Foundation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/october-5-to-be-designated-as-national-dolphin-day-101648335157819.html  (22 March 2022).

The day of the dolphin Janaki Lenin The deliberate killing of these aquatic mammals may have declined, but inadvertent drowning in fishing nets alarmingly continues. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/the-day-of-the-dolphin/article38378995.ece  (05 Feb. 2022)

Ghaziabad Villagers find a crocodile basking on sand – on 2 days A crocodile spotted on the banks of the Yamuna in Loni has triggered panic among the villagers of Panchayara. A 30-second video, shot on a mobile phone and doing the rounds of social media, shows an approximately 8ft-long crocodile resting on the sandbars of the river before ambling into the water and disappearing in a series of ripples. The video is believed to have been shot on August 13, while another sighting was reported on August 11.

Bhim Singh Rawat, a Yamuna activist and part of the South Asia Network on Dams, River and People, differed. “There are barrages and dams on both upstream and downstream Yamuna. If one considers crocodile sightings in Panchayara village, the hypothesis that crocodiles may have crossed the dams looks a bit difficult, if not impossible,” he said. “I think that the crocodile may have come via the upper Ganga canal from the Hastinapur wildlife sanctuary and found its way into the Yamuna,” added Rawat. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ghaziabad/ghaziabad-villagers-living-by-flooded-yamuna-in-loni-find-a-crocodile-basking-on-sand-on-two-days/articleshow/93603958.cms  (17 Aug. 2022)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Bengaluru 1,000 dead fish found floating at Haralur Lake Nearly 1,000 fish were found floating in Haralur Lake near HSR Layout on Monday (Sept. 12), setting off alarm bells about deteriorating water quality due to continuous flow of sewage into the waterbody. This is the second instance of fish kill in the lake this year and fourth in the past five years. It should also be noted that in the past five years, 35 incidents of fishkill have been reported in lakes in Bengaluru. The 35-acre Haralur Lake, activists say, is in bad condition and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has to test the water quality immediately.

Image Source: ToI

Amardeep Adiga Kollur, a resident of the area, said that this is repeating as water mixed with sewage is not being treated before being released into the lake. Despite the issue being brought to the notice of the authorities, it hasn’t been resolved. Lake activist Raghavendra B Pachhapur said it is unfortunate that city lakes have witnessed nine cases of fish kill in the past nine months, with sewage being the cause more than 55% of the time. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/second-time-this-year-in-bengaluru-1000-dead-fish-found-floating-at-haralur-lake/articleshow/94186797.cms  (14 Sept. 2022)

Fish die in Kothanur Lake due to entry of sewage A number of fish died in the Kothanur lake in Bengaluru due to the entry of sewage into the lake, said the Pollution Control Board. The SPCB has said that it happened because sewage had entered the lake. It said that the entry of sewage from the storm water drain has been observed and immediate action will be taken in the matter. An activist named Raghavendra Pachhapura said the industries don’t follow the norms, because of which these incidents happen.

Earlier in March also, fishes had died in the wetlands, but this time the incident has taken place in a large water body. KSPCB revealed in a water quality analysis that 36 waterbodies are not suited for aquatic life. According to the data, between 2017, and 2022, a total of 32 fish-kill incidents were reported in Bengaluru, raising concerns among environmentalists. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/bengaluru-news/fish-die-in-bengaluru-s-kothanur-lake-due-to-entry-of-sewage-101661501796054.html  (26 Aug. 2022)

SAND MINING

Report India’s ‘sand mafias have power, money and weapons’ According to the SANDRP, an NGO documenting the impacts of mining, Bihar is, along with Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, one of three states that is “particularly infested with mafia gangs” that have “close links with the police and politicians.”

According to SANDRP, at least 12 citizens and two police officers were killed by these mafias between December 2020 and March 2022. Between January 2019 and November 2020, the NGO had recorded the deaths of at least 23 citizens, five journalists and activists, and 11 government officials. In addition to those alleged murders, there were road accidents, incidents during extraction and drowning of children in pits. In total, hundreds of people die and are injured each year in India, in connection with sand mining. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/09/12/in-india-sand-mafias-have-power-money-and-weapons_5996639_114.html  (12 Sept. 2022)

Opinion Policies and People Why you should worry about sand mining by Kumkum Dasgupta -Illegal sand mining is common across India. In addition to the loss of this precious, non-renewable natural resource, it is also responsible for the killing of people who oppose or expose such episodes. The South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), a non-profit organisation, studied English newspaper reports on accident cases and violence due to sand mining between December 2020 to March 2022. SANDRP found at least 418 people have lost their lives and 438 injured due to sand mining-related reasons during this period. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/policies-and-people-why-you-should-worry-about-sand-mining-101662030345563.html  (01 Sept. 2022)

Kerala Mining the River Pamba for Flood Prevention-Novel ideas for evading Regulations EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Vemband Wetland in Kerala is a Ramsar Site, and also a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area (CVCA).  One  of the three meeting points of the  lake’s waters and the Lakshadweep Sea  is  at  Thottappally  in  Purakkad  Panchayat  of  Alapuzha.  It  is  a  Marma   Point.   About 600,000 cubic meters   of   mineral  sand has  been   dredged   out from the  River   Pamba since 2020.    

As   the   Coastal   Regulation   Zone   Notification-   2011   prohibits   mining   in  this   No-Development   Zone,   this   is   packaged as   a flood   prevention   project   invoking   the   District Collector’s emergency   powers   under   the  Disaster  Management   Act   2005. 

The  organisers invented a fake theory that floods are caused by the obstacles like the sandbar at Pozhy and the silt in the leading. The Government claims that Dr MS Swaminathan and the IIT Madras studied   the   2018   Kuttanad   floods   and   they   recommended   removing   the   obstacles   for prevention of floods. This is a lie. 

MSSRF and IIT-M did not do any study in Kuttanad after 2018; nor did they recommend the dredging for flood prevention. The mining began with police protection in May 2020, in spite of the peoples’ resistance and the local government’s objections.  Cost-Benefits.  

The outrage in the River Pamba may have consequences on the water balance of the Vembanad Lake. A preliminary estimate shows that the Thottappally Enterprise yielded a million tons of ilmenite and 85,000 tons of rutile, worth Rs 2000 crores during the past three years.  The miners paid about Rs 11 crores as price of the sand. 

A writ petition against the illegal mining in Thottappally was dismissed by Hon’ble High Court of Kerala on 17 Nov 21. Another petition has been pending with a Division  Bench of Kerala HC since 5 Oct  2021. The respondents in   that   petition may now wish to file  fresh   submissions, as their original submissions were fictitious. 

A  lie   has  its   own  shelf-life.   This   lie   has   survived   for   1221   days,   undetected   during   the exchanges   in   the   Kerala   High   Court,   in   the   National   Green   Tribunal   and   in   the   Kerala Assembly. The sages say that the “face of truth is hidden by a golden leaf”. It is painful to see faces of sages being used to hide the lies. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/363470466_Mining_the_River_Pamba_for_Flood_Prevention-Novel_ideas_for_evading_Regulations_from_Kerala  (Sept. 2022)

Haryana खनन के चलते मौत के कगार पर पहुंची हमारी यमुना  रेत खनन का यमुना नदी और इसके जलीय जीवन पर किस तरह असर पड़ा है, इस पर अब तक कोई ठोस वैज्ञानिक अध्ययन किया ही नहीं गया। चंबल नदी पर रेत खनन के असर का अध्ययन करने वाले वैज्ञानिक डॉ एसआर टैगोर भी यह सवाल उठाते हैं। वह कहते हैं “इटावा में यमुना की सहायक चंबल नदी पर किए गए हमारे अध्ययन से ये सिद्ध हो चुका है कि रेत खनन से नदी की जैव-विविधता पर खतरा आता है। हमने पाया कि चंबल में रेत खनन से घड़ियाल और कछुओं के प्रवास स्थल, नेस्टिंग पैटर्न, अंडे देने की प्रक्रिया बाधित हुई और इन जीवों ने उस नदी क्षेत्र से पलायन किया”।

“यमुना जिए” अभियान चला रहे पूर्व आईएफएस अधिकारी मनोज मिश्रा कहते हैं यमुना की जैव-विविधता रेत खनन से कैसे प्रभावित हो रही है, इस पर कोई अलग से अध्ययन नहीं किया गया है। लेकिन गंगा या चंबल पर रेत खनन को लेकर किया गया अध्ययन यमुना पर भी लागू होता है।

Image by Varsha Singh, DTE

खनन से जलीय जीव संकट में आ गए जबकि मल्लाह, मछुआरे रोजगार बदलने पर मजबूर हो गए। यमुनानगर के छछरौली तहसील के मंडोलीगग्गड़ गांव में 60 मल्लाह परिवार रहते हैं। जिनका पारंपरिक पेशा यमुना में किश्तियां चलाना और नदी तट पर खेती करना रहा है।  कभी मल्लाह रहे प्रमोद कुमार कहते हैं “अब हमारे समुदाय के लोग शहर की प्लाईवुड फैक्ट्रियों में मज़दूरी करने जाते हैं। नदी में अब किश्तियां नहीं लगती। हम यमुना में लौकी, करेला, कद्दू, ककड़ी, खीरा, तरबूज, खरबूजा जैसी बेल वाली सब्जियां-फल उगाते थे। हमारे पूर्वज यही काम करते आए थे। तब नदी हम सबकी हुआ करती थी, अब सिर्फ खनन वालों की है”।  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/river/yamuna/our-yamuna-has-reached-the-verge-of-death-due-to-mining-84900  (13 Sept. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Activist, who fought illegal quarries, run over by truck in Karur An activist, who had been demanding the closure of illegal stone quarries, was allegedly run over by a truck belonging to a quarry, at Kuppam near K. Paramathi in Karur district on Saturday (Sept. 10) evening. The incident occurred a day after a quarry situated near Kalipalayam, where activist R. Jaganathan lived, was closed by the Department of Geology and Mining on complaints that it was being operated illegally.

According to local sources, a truck reportedly belonging to the Annai Stone Quarry knocked down Jaganathan when he was riding a two-wheeler. After confirming that he was dead, the occupants of the truck were said to have enacted a farce by alerting an ambulance service to conjure up a semblance of a road accident. Jaganathan was declared brought dead at the Government Medical College Hospital.

Incidentally, in 2019, Jaganathan had a narrow escape when a group of persons attacked him with lethal weapons for opposing the functioning of the quarry. Selvakumar and Ranjith Kumar were citied as accused in that case too. E. Sundaravathanam, Superintendent of Police, Karur, told The Hindu that according to preliminary inquiries, there was a prima facie indication that Jaganathan had been murdered for filing a complaint against a stone quarry. Further details would be known only after a detailed investigation. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/activist-who-fought-illegal-quarries-run-over-by-truck-in-karur/article65879537.ece  (12 Sept. 2022)

Punjab Amritsar SHO suspended for failing to check illegal sand mining Taking stern action against the failure of the police in checking the menace of illegal sand mining, Amritsar rural police chief Swapan Sharma has placed Bhindi Saida police station SHO Jaswinder Singh under suspension. Despite the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Punjab Government has failed to check illegal sand mining.

A day before yesterday, the police had booked seven persons in five different cases for indulging in illegal sand mining. The police had found huge trenches and pits in Raipur Kalan, Saidogazi, Ballarwal and Sarandev villages while two JCBs and two tippers were seized at Kot Mehtab village near the Beas on Wednesday (September 14).

The menace of illegal sand mining in the border belt was prominently raised by Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit during his visit to the district a few days ago. He had even advocated the slapping of sedition charges against illegal sand miners. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/criminal-nexus-sho-suspended-for-failing-to-check-illegal-sand-mining-433156  (19 Sept. 2022)

Nawanshahr: Truck driver’s laxity snuffs out three lives Sheer negligence of the driver of an 18-wheel truck driver snuffed out the lives of of three members of a Batala family at Behram near here this afternoon. Batala-based Guriqbal Singh, his wife Ramandeep Kaur and their son Jasmeet Singh were heading towards Nawanshahr when a truck coming from the opposite side suddenly took a U-turn at the Mahilpur T-point. The truck driver took the turn so rashly and on high speed that car drivers coming from the opposite side had no time to stop to save themselves. The hind part of the truck loaded with sand and stones fell over two cars — Etios and Liva, both of which came under its huge impact. Those in the Etios car suffered some injuries while the family in the other car was not so lucky. The eye-witnesses said the canter driver took a sudden U-turn and seemed to have gone out of control. Those who gathered at the site took out the victims from the mangled remains of the car but those in the Liva car were not so lucky. They were declared brought dead in the local hospital.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jalandhar/nawanshahr-truck-drivers-laxity-snuffs-out-three-lives-431193  (13 Sept. 2022)

Ferozepur: Farmers attacked for stopping mining in their fields; two held Two farmers were shot at and another sustained a head injury when they tried to stop illegal mining in their fields at Dineke village in the district’s Makhu block, the police have said. The police have arrested two persons in connection with the attack and booked six others for attempt to murder, among other charges. Meanwhile, illegal sand mining continues unabated in the border district. In the last one month, 22 FIRs have been registered and 12 persons arrested. In the last six months, the police have registered 76 cases against more than 130 accused in connection with illegal mining. Besides, more than 70 tractor-trailers have been seized. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/ferozepur-farmers-attacked-for-stopping-mining-in-their-fields-two-held-430504  (11 Sept. 2022)

Bihar आटो पर पलटा बालू लदा ट्रक, पांच यात्रियों की घटनास्थल पर ही मौत  एनएच 28 पर मुफस्सिल थाना क्षेत्र के बैरिया देवी मंदिर के पास बालू लदे ट्रक के पलटने से टेम्पो पर सवार पांच लोगों की मौत हो गई। वहीं पांच लोग घायल हो गए। टेम्पो चालक फरार हो गया। मृतकों में अधिकांश एक ही परिवार के तथा सगे-संबंधी बताए जा रहे हैं। सभी घायलों को वहां से निकालकर सदर अस्पताल पहुंचाया गया है। सभी की स्थिति चिंताजनक बताई जा रही है। स्थानीय लोग व पुलिस के सहयोग से सभी को निकाला गया। मरनेवालों में चार महिला व एक बच्चा शामिल है।

East Champaran road accident बिहार के पूर्वी चंपारण में तेतरिया के राजेपुर से मोतिहारी के बैरिया देवी स्थान पर शिवचर्चा में भाग लेने आ रहे थे सभी लोग। मरने वालों में चार महिला व एक बच्चा शामिल तीनों घायलों की स्थिति चिंताजनक टेम्पो चालक फरार। Dianik Bhaskar

बताया जाता है कि तेतरिया प्रखंड क्षेत्र के राजेपुर से चालक सहित ग्यारह लोग टेम्पो पर सवार होकर मुफस्सिल थाना क्षेत्र के नेशनल हाइवे स्थित बैरिया देवी मंदिर में शिव चर्चा में भाग लेने आ रहे थे। यहां हर महीने शिवचर्चा का आयोजन होता है। टेम्पो राजमार्ग से अभी मंदिर प्रांगण में प्रवेश करने ही वाला था कि अनियंत्रित बालू लदा ट्रक टेम्पो पर पलट गया। इससे पूरा टेम्पो ट्रक व बालू से दब गया। घटना के जानकारी मिलते ही स्थानीय लोग व पुलिस मौके पर पहुंची और किरान के सहयोग से सभी को निकालने का प्रयास किया। ट्रक व टेम्पो का चालक फरार बताया गया है। ट्रक व टेम्पो को जब्त कर लिया गया है। https://www.jagran.com/bihar/muzaffarpur-east-champaran-road-accident-a-truck-carrying-sand-overturns-on-an-auto-in-east-champaran-five-passengers-died-23060813.html  (11 Sept. 2022)

29 नदियों में बन गए हैं 238 टापू, बालू निकालने से पहले नापेगी सरकार राज्य की कई नदियों में जहां तहां उभर आए बालू के टापू हटाए जाएंगे। खान एवं भूतत्व विभाग इसकी कार्ययोजना बना रहा है। इसके लिए नदियों में मौजूद बालू के टापू का पहले जियो कार्डिनेट सर्वे किया जायेगा। इसके बाद यह देखा जाएगा कि किस नदी से कितनी गाद हटानी है। सर्वे में आकलन करके यह भी पता लगाया जाएगा कि नदियों में खनन योग्य बालू कितना है। फिर इनको हटाने की योजना पर काम शुरू होगा। खान और भूतत्व विभाग ने सर्वे समेत अन्य कार्यों की जिम्मेदारी सभी जिला खनिज विकास पदाधिकारियों को सौंपी है। विभाग ने उन्हें संबंधित जिलाधिकारियों से समन्वय बनाकर यह काम करने के लिए कहा है। https://www.livehindustan.com/bihar/story-238-sand-islands-in-29-rivers-of-bihar-nitish-govt-will-assess-quantity-before-sand-mining-7084100.html  (15 Sept. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh कार पर रेत से भरा ट्रक पलट गया, 5 की मौत रायबरेली में बीते मंगलवार (July 19) देर रात एक बड़ा दर्दनाक हादसा हो गया. यहां एक कार के ऊपर रेत से भरा हुआ ट्रक पलट गया, जिसके कारण दो बच्चों समेत पांच लोगों की मौत हो गई है. इस घटना में तीन व्यक्ति गंभीर रूप से घायल है, उन्हें अस्पताल भेज दिया गया है. ये हादसा इतना भीषण था कि पुलिस को बुल्डोजर से रेत हटाकर शवों को बाहर निकालना पड़ा है.

आज तक की रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक, रायबरेली के भदोखर थाने के कुचरिया गांव के पास प्रयागराज जाने वाले हाईवे के पास ये दुर्घटना हुई. राकेश अग्रवाल नामक व्यक्ति अपनी पत्नी और बेटे के साथ-साथ परिवार के पांच और लोगों के साथ एक ढाबे पर खाना खाने गए थे. भोजन करने के बाद देर रात वे अपनी इको स्पोर्ट्स कार से वापस लौट रहे थे कि तभी मुंशीगंज के पास भीषण एक्सीडेंट हुआ और रेत से लदा हुआ एक डंपर उनकी कार पर पलट गया. https://www.thelallantop.com/news/post/uttar-pradesh-raebareli-big-accident-truck-full-of-sand-overturned-on-the-car  (20 July 2022)

Odisha Bus-Truck Collision Leaves 5 Passengers Injured In Phulbani  As many as five passengers were injured after a state-run OSRTC bus en route to Bandhabahal from Aska collided head-on with a speeding sand-laden hyva truck on Bhetkhol Ghat Road in Phulbani on Thursday (Aug. 11). The impact was so intense that five passengers in the OSRTC bus sustained critical injuries while 15 others sustained minor injuries. On receiving the information, Phulbani Sadar police reached the spot and rescued the injured persons and also detained the truck driver. While the critically injured were sent to Phulbani Hospital for treatment, other passengers were sent safely in another bus. In this regard, the Sadar police have registered a case and are investigating the incident. https://pragativadi.com/bus-truck-collision-leaves-5-passengers-injured-in-odishas-phulbani/  (11 Aug. 2022)

Karnataka Sand-laden truck mows down girl  A sand-laden truck mowed down a college girl on Fort Road on Monday (Aug. 02) morning. The accident happened close to an old vegetable market here. Residents protested as the bar on heavy vehicles entering the city from 6 am to 6 pm is not implemented strictly. A case has been registered in the Market police station. The truck driver surrendered to the police after the accident. In 2015, then city police commissioner TG Krishna Bhatta banned the movement of heavy vehicles during the daytime in the city after an engineering student, Anushka Joshi in Belagavi, was hit by a truck on Congress Road.

After Bhatta’s transfer, heavy vehicles again started moving in the city. This claimed another life on Monday, that of Sadia Shabbir Ahmed Palegar (16), a resident of Ashok Nagar. Police sources said that the accident happened at 7.30 am when Sadia was on her way to college on a scooter. She came under the tyres after the truck hit the scooter from the rear. Sadia was in her first year at Bharatesh PU College. The college announced a holiday as condolence. Residents raised the demand for the heavy-vehicle bar imposition on social media. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/sand-laden-truck-mows-down-girl/articleshow/93286537.cms  (02 Aug. 2022)

Reversing sand truck crushes elderly woman to death in Bengaluru A 60-year-old woman died in an accident in front of her house in Kithaganur near Hosakote Taluk in Bengaluru Rural on Monday (July 25) night. She was crushed to death between a truck and a compound wall. The deceased, Rathnamma, is a former member of the taluk panchayat. Rathnamma’s husband Chikkamuniyappa was a former member of the Bengaluru Urban Zilla Panchayat. According to the jurisdictional Avalahalli police, the incident happened around 7 pm when Rathnamma was standing outside her house and watching a truck reversing to unload sand dust into her neighbour’s property. The truck’s rear wheels on the right got stuck in the soak pit of Rathnamma’s house. The truck tilted towards the right side and crashed on Rathnamma. The villagers managed to pull her out and rush her to a nearby hospital, where she was declared brought dead. Rathnamma is survived by her husband and three sons. Her body was handed over to the family after post-mortem. The police have seized the vehicle and a case has been filed against the driver. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-crime/reversing-sand-truck-crushes-elderly-woman-to-death-in-bengaluru-1130445.html  (27 July 2022)

Maharashtra One killed in road accident in Thane One person was killed and another severely injured when the dumper they were travelling in rammed into a vehicle on a flyover in Thane city in the early hours of Tuesday (April 05), an official said. The accident occurred around 5.45 am on the flyover at Teen Hath Naka on Nashik-Mumbai Road, he said. The truck involved in the accident was carrying 20 tonnes of sand from Gujarat to Kolhapur, he said, adding that the Naupada police were probing the case. https://theprint.in/india/maha-one-killed-dumper-driver-injured-in-road-accident-in-thane/903222/  (05 April 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Kerala SC order paves way for demolition of plush Rs 200 cr lakeside resort After a long drawn legal battle, following a directive from the Supreme Court, the demolition process of a plush Rs 200 crore Kapico resort at Nediyanthuruthu in Alappuzha on the Vembanad lake began on Thursday, September 15. The demolition of the resort buildings, sprawled on the lakeside, will be completed in six months.

Alappuzha Collector VR Krishna Theja told reporters that the demolition process is being done as per the instruction of the Supreme Court. They (apparently the resort owners) have submitted a demolition plan. We have asked them to complete the demolition in six months. The demolition will be monitored by the state Pollution Control Board. We are expecting that the land will be restored to normal in six months. It will be done not using public money, but that of the resort owners,” the Collector said.

The resorts, situated on an island in the backwaters of the Vembanad lake comprising 54 posh villas, were built in 2007-2012. A series of cases for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules were filed even as the construction was going on. Initially, the Kerala High Court ruled against the resort and the defendants then approached the apex court, which also ruled against the resort.

“As per the report of the Tahsildar in 2011, 2.9397 hectares had been encroached to build the resort. Now, the government has retrieved the 2.9397 hectares. Some buildings are still on government land that will also be demolished soon. He added that whatever construction is on government land will be demolished and whatever on the land owned by the resort owners will be retained,” the Collector added. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/sc-order-paves-way-demolition-plush-rs-200-cr-lakeside-resort-kerala-167913  (15 Sept. 2022)

How Vembanad lake of Kerala is shrinking in spite of decades old Ramsar tag. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/20-years-after-getting-ramsar-tag-vembanad-lake-continues-to-shrink-and-decay-1144171.html  (11 Sept. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir HC seeks complete status of 7 wetlands declared Ramsar sites in J&K, Ladakh The High Court of J&K and Ladakh Monday (Sept. 12) sought a report from the government indicating the status of seven wetlands recognised to be of international importance and declared Ramsar Sites in J&K and Ladakh. “To focus first on the wetlands of the Ramsar sites, we require the J&K government to come clean about their status and to file a complete report regarding all these sites within six weeks,” a division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Puneet Gupta said.

The High Court of J&K under the directions registered the affidavit as PIL on its own motion and in its first order on the PIL on August 28, 2018, underlined that the “importance of preservation of wetlands and water bodies cannot be sufficiently emphasised as well as the need to set up a regulatory mechanism for all wetlands to maintain their ecological character and ultimately support their integrated management in the three regions (Kashmir, Jammu & Ladakh) of the then state J & K” https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/state/hc-seeks-complete-status-of-7-wetlands-declared-ramsar-sites-in-jk-ladakh (13 Sep 2022)

Volunteers of the Nigeen Lake Conservation Organisation use shikaras to clean Khushal Sar lake in Srinagar, February 21, 2021.

The revival of Khushal Sar lake in Srinagar has restored optimism about community efforts for environmental conservation By Suhail Bhat https://www.indiaspend.com/jammu-kashmir/community-driven-initiatives-show-way-forward-for-reviving-kashmirs-polluted-lakes-830654  (15 Aug. 2022)

Punjab Sarus cranes find permanent home in Keshopur wetland in Gurdaspur In what wildlife experts’ term as an extremely rare phenomenon, a pair of Sarus cranes has made Keshopur wetland its permanent home despite the fact that this species of birds is known to hop from one wetland to the other in a short span of time.

Image Source: The Tribune

The cranes, said to be the world’s tallest flying feathered creatures, have been staying put at Keshopur for the last seven years. A wildlife official claimed they had to work doubly hard to make sure the humans did not infiltrate into their territories making the cranes feel safe. “In other words we have given them protection from predators,” he said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sarus-cranes-find-permanent-home-in-keshopur-wetland-431778  (15 Sept. 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Bengaluru Treated sewage water for construction: KSPCB approaches BIS to fix parameters Last month the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, completed a study regarding the feasibility of using treated sewage water for construction works. The KSPCB’s study found that the use of treated water had no effect on the strength of cement. The board has now approached the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for the purpose of fixing parameters for the use of treated sewage water for construction purposes, which would be a first-of-its-kind globally. Furthermore, when determining the parameters, the health impact of the treated wastewater on construction workers will also be taken into account. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/treated-sewage-water-for-construction-karnataka-pollution-board-approaches-bis-to-fix-parameters-8140721/  (09 Sept. 2022)

Report Treated wastewater could mitigate rising construction costs The BWSSB is selling secondary treated water at Rs 15/KL, and tertiary treated water for Rs 20/KL from State-run centralised plants. Builders will be able to save considerably even if the BWSSB accounted for additional transportation charges. These tanker rates could be further reduced if a network is established linking the over 2,500 decentralised sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Bengaluru with nearby construction sites. Based on analysis of the BWSSB dashboard and the KSPCB’s masterlist of around 2,500 STPs, we estimate that, currently, around 550 million litres of treated wastewater from centralised and decentralised STPs in Bengaluru winds up in stormwater channels every day.

Moreover, there are policies in place that eases the process of mainstreaming the use of treated wastewater. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) made it mandatory to use treated water from centralised STPs for construction and directed all zonal commissioners not to approve building plans unless the applicant submits a treated water utilisation plan for construction, and proof of payment to the BWSSB for availing the facility. Further, the BBMP will provide no-objection certificates (NOC) to buildings only if they submit an undertaking about the use of treated water during construction. Building owners failing to use treated water for construction will not be given an occupation certificate. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/opinion/real-estate-treated-wastewater-could-mitigate-rising-construction-costs-9165061.html  (13 Sept. 2022)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Kaikondrahalli lake today is in a shambles Located in Bengaluru’s Sarjapur, Kaikondrahalli lake is spread over 48 acres and is home to 70 species of migratory birds. After the heavy rainfall earlier this month, the lake overflowed. Although rejuvenated in 2011, discussions around encroachments and entry of sewage into Kaikondrahalli lake have resurfaced sometime ago.

Kaikondrahalli Lake in Bengaluru. (Express photo by Jithendra M.)

In 2007, Kaikondrahalli lake had turned into a slushy malarial bed of sewage and waste. Rampant encroachment, growth of unhealthy hyacinths and release of sewage and untreated water into the lake had spelt the death knell for this eco-fragile lake. With the joint efforts of local residents, activists and municipal authorities, the lake was restored to its once-pristine state in 2011. However, the lake’s condition has started deteriorating in the last few years. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/lakes-of-bengaluru-publicized-restoration-kaikondrahalli-lake-today-shambles-8157130/  (18 Sept. 2022)

Shimla Two 24X7 water supply projects okayed The Board of Directors of Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam Limited (SJPNL) has approved the two World Bank-funded projects related to 24×7 water supply and augmenting sewerage system in the city. While tender has already been floated for laying the network of pipes in the city for providing 24×7 high pressure water supply, the tender for augmenting sewerage system will be floated soon following the approval in the BoD meeting.

Meanwhile, the annual 10 per cent hike in water charges, which has not been done over the last two years due to the pandemic, was discussed in the meeting but the decision is pending. SJPNL MD Pankaj Lalit said that the tenders for sewerage augmentation will be floated shortly. The BoD also decided to make water ATMs service free of cost. Besides, Chauhan said, the BoD also decided to reduce the formalities to bare minimum for individuals seeking second or third water connection. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/two-projects-for-24×7-water-supply-in-shimla-okayed-432515  (17 Sept. 2022)

WATER

Comment India’s growing water crisis: Seen & unseen Srikumar Chattopadhyay Urban water use:- Examining the urban water management trajectory, it is evident that in the initial stages when a city is small, it is concerned only with water supply; in a majority of cases, water is sourced locally, with groundwater meeting the bulk of the supply. As the city grows and water management infrastructures develop, dependence shifts to surface water. With a further growth of cities, water sources shift further up in the hinterlands, or the allocation of urban water is enhanced at the expense of irrigation water. Almost all cities in India that depend on surface water experience this trend. City water supply is now a subject of inter-basin and inter-State transfers of water.

Image Source: The Hindu

The case of Ahmedabad:- Ahmedabad is an interesting case in this context. More than 80% of water supply in this city used to be met from groundwater sources till the mid-1980s. The depth to groundwater level reached 67 metres in confined aquifers. The city now depends on the Narmada canal for the bulk of its water supply. The shift is from local groundwater to canal water receiving supply from an inter-State and inter-basin transfer of surface water. Dependence on groundwater continues particularly in the peri-urban areas in almost all large cities that have switched to surface water sources. While surface water transfer from rural to urban areas is visible and can be computed, the recharge areas of groundwater aquifers are spread over well beyond the city boundary or its periphery.

Whatever be the source, surface or groundwater, cities largely depend on rural areas for raw water supply, which has the potential to ignite the rural-urban dispute. Available studies covering Nagpur and Chennai indicate the imminent problem of rural-urban water disputes that the country is going to face in the not-so-distant future as water scarcity grows, which will be further exacerbated by climate change. At present, the rural-urban transfer of water is a lose-lose situation in India as water is transported at the expense of rural areas and the agricultural sector; in cities, most of this water is in the form of grey water with little recovery or reuse, eventually contributing to water pollution. Rural and urban areas use water from the same stock, i.e., the water resources of the country. Therefore, it is important to strive for a win-win situation. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/indias-growing-water-crisis-the-seen-and-the-unseen/article65891233.ece  (15 Sept. 2022)

MONSOON 2022

IMD’s State, Sub-Division, District and River Basin Wise Cumulative Rainfall Map from June 1 to Sep 19, 2022.

How climate change is altering Indian monsoon Archana Subramanian Research shows that global warming increases the fluctuations in the monsoon, resulting in both long dry periods and short spells of heavy rains.

Monsoon in India has undergone several changes over the years, especially on account of climate change. A shift in the track of monsoon systems, like low pressure and depression travelling south of their position and flash floods are a result of this change. And these changes spell intense and frequent extreme unprecedented weather events over the places which once struggled to record even normal monsoon rains. With this looming threat having a bearing on food security, it is only a matter of time before it has socio-economic impact.

“It has been very complex to understand the rainfall variability and how monsoon patterns have been behaving of late, especially this year. The problem is that it is very challenging for us to understand the situation, which calls for a lot more research. Persistence of intense La Nina conditions, the abnormal warming of East Indian Ocean, negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), southward movement of most of the monsoon depressions and lows and pre-monsoon heating over the Himalayan region are melting glaciers. This is a very complex mix,” said Dr. R. Krishnan, Executive Director, Centre for Climate Change Research, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM).

The IMD has clearly sighted that 2022 has seen the second highest extreme events since 1902. An alarming case as incidents of floods and droughts have increased, there is more evidence coming our way on how global warming has been impacting the Indian monsoon. “There is no doubt about the fact that most of the monsoon weather systems have been travelling across central parts of the country, changing the area of rainfall. Climate change is definitely behind these changes and thus, it calls for more research on the changes in the behavioural pattern of these systems,” said G.P. Sharma, President, Meteorology and Climate Change, Skymet Weather.

Places that once recorded excess rainfall are today rainfall deficit

1. It is complex to understand the rainfall variability and how monsoon patterns have been behaving of late, particularly this year

2. Alarming increase in floods and droughts provides direct evidence of how global warming has been impacting the Indian monsoon

3. Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Maharashtra have recorded excess rainfall this year

4. In contrast, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar did not receive normal rains

5. Back-to-back active monsoon systems in the Bay of Bengal in July led to excess rainfall to the tune of 8% — actual rainfall recorded was 472.8 mm as against the normal of 437.2 mm

6. August too saw two back-to-back depressions forming in the Bay of Bengal and travelling across Central India

7. While summer monsoon rainfall each year is unique, there has been a large regional and temporal variability in rainfall this year

8. There is evidence that global warming increases the fluctuations in the monsoon, resulting in both long dry periods and short spells of heavy rains

“Monsoon each year is unique, but we did see a large regional and temporal variability in rainfall this year. Our research shows that global warming increases the fluctuations in the monsoon, resulting in both long dry periods and short spells of heavy rains. This year, the monsoon was potentially influenced by La Nina also — the cooler than usual Pacific conditions,” said Dr. Roxy Mathew Koll, Climate Scientist, IITM.

Recent research indicates that monsoon rainfall became less frequent but more intense in India during the latter half of the 20th century. Scientists and food experts believe that a better rainfall scenario could have helped increase the harvest. However, India’s hundreds of millions of rice producers and consumers are being affected negatively with these unprecedented changes which are also raising concerns over food security. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/how-climate-change-is-altering-indian-monsoon/article65900632.ece  (17 Sept. 2022)

FLOOD 2022

SANDRP Blog 2022: CWC Flood Monitoring Sites in East India Comparing the overall number of sites with 2019 year as covered in SANDRP’s previous overview, the region has seen reduction of 28 sites. In 2019, there were 348 sites comprising of 61 LF, 255 LM and 32 IF sites in the region including Bihar (121), Jharkhand (46), Chhattisgarh (40), Odisha (84), and West Bengal (GB) (57) sites.

This is contradictory to CWC’s claim of gradual increase in flood monitoring sites in the country. Instead of increasing the numbers of sites, CWC has been upgrading LM sites into LF sites as is evident from the fact that between 2019 and 2022, while LF sites have gone up to 113 (2022) from 61 (2019) in the same period the number of LM sites has come down to 175 (2022) from 255 (2019). https://sandrp.in/2022/09/12/2022-cwc-flood-monitoring-sites-in-east-india/  (12 Sept. 2022)

Gujarat Sardar Sarovar to release 4 lakh cusecs of water  Several villages in the districts of Vadodara, Bharuch and Narmada, located on the riverbanks of the Narmada river, are on a flood alert as the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) is set to release close to 4 lakh cusecs of water downstream, on Saturday, from the 23 open radial gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, which is flowing over its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 138.68 metres since September 15. With close to 2.8 lakh cusec of water flowing in from the Indirasagar and Omkareshwar dams in Madhya Pradesh as well as the rainfall in the catchment area as of 6pm on Saturday, the SSNNL has decided to increase the outflow from 3 lakh cusecs to 4 lakh cusecs, thus sounding an alert in villages located on the riverbank in the three districts. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/sardar-sarovar-to-release-four-lakh-cusecs-of-water-8157456/  (18 Sept. 2022)

Rajasthan Chambal crosses previous HFL, 40 Agra villages face tough time River Chambal crossed the highest flood level (HFL) on Thursday (Aug. 26), (earlier touched in 1996) and continued to pose a threat to about 40 villages of Agra district on the border of UP and Rajasthan. “The river crossed the previous high level of 1996 which was 136.60 metres and was flowing at 136.70 metres at 4 pm on Thursday (Aug. 26) in Pinahat area of Agra district,” said Prabhu N Singh, the district magistrate of Agra. The alert level of Chambal is at 127 metres while danger level is at 130 metres in Pinahat area which had highest flood level at 136.60 metres in 1996. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/chambal-crosses-previous-highest-flood-level-mark-40-agra-villages-face-tough-time-101661453156129.html  (26 Aug. 2022) चम्बल ड्रोन वीडियो https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj_ur3sD38k  (24 Aug. 2022)

HFL BREACH 2022

Uttar Pradesh River Noon at Orai 2 Magrayan level monitoring site in Jalaun district has breached old HFL 134.04 m (dated 30.07.2021) at 21:00 hour on 15.09.2022 and probably set 134.54 m as new HFL at 05:00 hour on 16.09.2022. Present flood level is 134.5 m at 10:00 hour on 16.09.2022 with falling trend.

Madhya Pradesh River Pahuj at Unnao Balaji level monitoring site in Datia district has missed breaching old HFL 207.76 m dated 15.08.2019 by 0.16 m. Present flood level is 206.1 m at 09:00 hour on 15.09.2022.

URBAN FLOODS

Bengaluru Experts say British-era maps can help to tell property built on storm-water drains As the Karnataka government has directed encroachments on Bengaluru’s storm-water drains be demolished in the wake of the recent floods, experts suggest referring to the base village maps from the 1880s and 1920s as well as 1958s to avoid ending up buying properties that are on lakes, tanks or the drains.

– Urban experts say buyers should also check the kharab land (wasteland) classification. B-Kharab refers to non-cultivable land including forest land, parks, tanks, lakes and drains and cannot be converted by private parties. This land, where all development activity is prohibited, is said to be encroached on by private builders. A-Kharab plots, classified as unsuitable for agriculture, are reserved for school and government buildings. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-experts-british-era-maps-property-built-storm-water-drains-8155702/  (17 Sept. 2022)

FB post comment by Leo Saldanha:-Justice Abhay Oka (now Judge of SC), when he was CJ of Karnataka admitted my plea to list all maps and documents that are officially prepared but systemically ignored by the State complicit in causing this maldevelopment & consequence disaster, and issued a special direction to this effect. It goes beyond the Survey of India maps and adds eight more sources that are highly reliable to determine the water landscape that has evolved with the active engagement of farming and pastoral cmtys with land and water. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fk8TYOLuBFOzKsXpypJTlMH_jKZwFOJjPaupqiPB2vE/edit 

The city needs granular administrative and planning responses to help identify the poor who are forced to live in flood prone areas out of sheer necessity. They cannot be evicted and thrown to the streets: Leo F. Saldanha https://thewire.in/rights/bengaluru-flood-caste-class  (15 Sept. 2022)

Lost, forgotten, found: Old stormwater drains Thanks to the recent rains, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has unearthed old stormwater drains which were ‘lost’ over a period of time. These rajakaluves were missing from maps maintained by the Revenue Department as well. During the recent flash floods, a close scrutiny of the area revealed that these drains were one of the main reasons for the flooding. Now, the civic agency wants to identify this missing drain link so that the encroachments can be demolished all along its way and there is no hindrance to the flow of rainwater in the future. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/lost-forgotten-found-old-stormwater-drains/articleshow/94159495.cms  (13 Sept. 2022)

After floods in Bengaluru impacted the IT belt Mahadevpura the most, lake activists have pointed out that the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) itself killed many lakes and turned them into layouts. Over the years, the Authority encroached lakes and constructed residential areas, they alleged.

The lake activists, terming the present drive to clear encroachments on storm water drains a hogwash, said natural channels of water flow have been blocked, causing water to flow on roads. They said BDA has filled 23 lakes with soil and formed 3,530 plots till now. In a letter to the government, BDA authorities had stated that the lakes had not been in use, filled them and made sites. The letter has been brought out into the open by lake activists. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2022/sep/17/bangalore-development-authority-filled-23-lakes-formed-3530-sites-2499116.html  (17 Sept. 2022)

Of the 696 stormwater drain encroachments identified so far in the city, more than 300 places — or nearly 45 per cent — have permanent structures such as houses and other buildings. The big numbers, stipulated in official records, show that many people may have invested in buying or constructing these properties without knowing that they sit on stormwater drains. Very few of the 696 encroachments are vacant sites. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-infrastructure/drain-encroachment-permanent-structures-built-at-45-places-1144879.html  (14 Sept. 2022)

Heavy rains and floods have battered Bengaluru yet again. Uncontrolled and unregulated development and concretisation of the city that pays no heed to the ecology and hydrology of the region needs to stop! https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/chaos-concrete-jungle  (13 Sept. 2022)

List of stormwater drain encroachments by IT parks, developers compiled by BBMP in Bengaluru’s Mahadevapura zone. Prajwal, The News Minute. https://twitter.com/prajwalmanipal/status/1569287411410284544?s=20

Since August 30, the BBMP has cleared 69 encroachments on drains in the municipal limits. In data submitted to Karnataka High Court on Thursday (Sept. 15), the BBMP said that 2,626 encroachments on drains were identified in the period 2016-17 within the municipal limits, of which 627 are still left to be removed. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/bengaluru-bbmp-encorachments-stormwater-drains-8154828/  (16 Sept. 2022)

BBMP’s slow action against big builders and tech parks draws ire The city’s civic body has been on a demolition spree removing encroachments of storm-water drains (SWDs), especially in Mahadevapura zone, that saw heavy flooding recently. The drive has mostly focused on residential pockets dominated by middle-class residents. Even though a recent survey in August had listed at least 15 encroachments by leading tech parks, IT companies, hospitals, educational institutes and apartment complexes by leading builders in the zone, the civic body is yet to take their JCBs to these high-profile properties.

Of them, BBMP initiated action at Bagmane Tech Park on Saturday. But the techpark approached Karnataka Lokayukta, which directed both the parties to follow due procedure. Chief Civic Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath said that Bagmane Tech Park had agreed to remove the compound wall which is encroaching the SWD. “However, they have raised the issue that if the wall is removed, it will flood the tech park area. We will take up a survey soon and we will remove encroachments there and at the nearby Puravankara property too,” he said.

Senior civic officials said that there was a shortage of surveyors and the drive will gather steam in a week’s time once more surveyors are deployed. However, not many are buying the argument. Residents whose properties are being demolished have alleged they were being targeted while the rich and powerful spared. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/bbmps-slow-action-against-big-builders-and-tech-parks-draws-ire/article65891401.ece  (14 Sept. 2022)

Tech parks, luxury villas among drain encroachers in Bengaluru Marquee tech parks and plush gated communities are among encroachers of stormwater drains in Bengaluru’s IT hub, which last week faced some of the worst waterlogging in recent memory. Municipal authorities, accused of going soft on the rich and powerful, have now started clearing the encroachments in a big way after CM Basavaraj Bommai ordered a crackdown on the root cause of the devastating floods. Experts say silt accumulation and encroachments of these drains are the biggest cause of flooding.

Multiple sources insisted that the BBMP had so far gone soft on big builders because of confusion about the drain sketch, which is based on the 1904 maps. “There was also a lack of clarity because some of the builders and tech parks had received land from the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) along the drains,” an official said. Bommai is learnt to have given clear instructions to the BBMP for removing all encroachments that are blocking the drains. The internal directions were given when engineers brought to Bommai’s notice the names of big builders. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/tech-parks-luxury-villas-among-drain-encroachers-in-bengaluru-1144572.html (13 Sep 2022)

BBMP building parallel drains to stop flooding on ORR With the flood water on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) draining out, the BBMP has started constructing a parallel drain along the service road near the flood-affected RMZ Ecospace. The 300-metre drain, which is a temporary measure, will be linked to the culvert near a private hotel to drain out the water just in case the nearby lakes overflow again. The temporary measure is to stop the ORR, under knee-deep water for three consecutive days, from flooding again. It is learnt that the permanent solution requires the BBMP to break open the Outer Ring Road to lay pipelines across the road as the existing outlet is too narrow. The Outer Ring Road Companies Association (ORRCA) had estimated a loss of Rs 225 crore as the floods have brought traffic movement on the IT corridor to a crawl.

Even as the BBMP started the demolition drive, there are questions on whether it is going after the common man while sparing big tech parks owned by the powerful. A BBMP demolition squad reached Bagmane tech park in the morning and even identified and marked 2.4 meters storm water drain encroachment by the IT park. Officials along with police reached the spot but mysteriously they left the tech park few hours later without demolishing any structure. This has raised questions on whether the officials succumbed to pressure. Citizens in the neighbourhood have constantly pointed out that the tech park has been spared because a sitting minister who is also an MLA from the city has business interest in the tech park. https://www.news18.com/news/india/why-bengaluru-demolition-drive-is-going-silent-near-tech-parks-owned-by-the-mighty-5942287.html  (12 Sept. 2022)

Bengaluru floods: Anatomy of a drainage system gone horribly wrong https://www.newslaundry.com/2022/09/13/bengaluru-floods-anatomy-of-a-drainage-system-gone-horribly-wrong  (13 Sept. 2022)  

High-profile builders, developers and tech parks are among the list of alleged encroachers who closed up around 700 storm water drains in Bengaluru that led to last week’s flood in parts of the city. The list includes Wipro, Prestige, Eco Space, Bagmane Tech Park, Columbia Asia Hospital and Divyashree Villas, found NDTV, which has accessed the list of encroachments by high-profile names. It also appears that while demolitions are on in full swing for common man’s properties, behemoth companies are yet to be touched. https://www.ndtv.com/bangalore-news/on-bengaluru-encroachers-list-wipro-prestige-and-other-big-names-3342189  (14 Sept. 2022)

The BBMP said 696 encroachments have blocked the rajakaluves, a crucial link between the lakes. While Mahadevapura Zone alone has close to 200 rajakaluve encroachments, Dasarahalli Zone has 120 encroachments and East Zone has 110 drains. BBMP officials said an action plan is being prepared to raze illegal buildings. “The 696 encroachments also include buildings that are in the buffer zone. In the first phase, we are only focusing on properties that are narrowing down the rajakaluve. “Once the action plan is ready, we will complete the encroachment clearance drive in 15 to 20 days,” said M Lokesh of the BBMP’s stormwater drain department. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bbmp-building-parallel-drains-to-stop-flooding-on-orr-1141693.html  (03 Sept. 2022)

Motorists using Kasturi Nagar underpass to reach Old Madras Road are fed up with it getting flooded every single time the area receives heavy rainfall.  https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/every-downpour-leads-to-waterlogging-here/articleshow/94183971.cms  (14 Sept. 2022)

Chennai 29% of city may be inundated in 5 yrs While the Chennai Corporation’s draft city climate action plan has been welcomed by various quarters, experts say it may be used as a base document to create a more detailed plan for the future. The report says rising sea levels could submerge 100 metres of coastal area in the next five years. According to the projected flood risks, 29% of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) area could be inundated within five years, and with 100 years, 56.5% would be at risk.

TNIE Infograph

In the next 100 years, 68% of slums are at a risk of inundation due to the population density there being twice as much as in the rest of the city. In the same period, 45% of physical infrastructure, such as MTC bus stops, CMRL stations and suburban railway stations, stands to be affected. Activists said that while the report’s projections are useful, the extent to which they can be used is limited since the original data sets have not been made available. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/sep/16/report-calls-for-rethink-as-29-per-cent-of-chennai-city-may-be-inundated-in-five-years-2498678.html  (16 Sept. 2022)

Pune Highest discharge this year into Mula and Mutha rivers With the highest discharge of water this year in Mula and Mutha rivers after incessant rainfall filled the dams to their capacities, the district administration has issued a flood alert to citizens residing alongside the rivers and using riverside roads for commuting. However, the rainfall slowed down in the evening but still produced a few spells.

The catchment area of dams upstream of Mula and Mutha rivers has been experiencing continuous rainfall for the last few days. The intensity of rainfall increased from Wednesday (Sept. 14). “The four dams upstream of Mutha river are filled to capacity prompting water to be discharged from all dams — Panshet, Varasgaon, Temghar and Khadakwasla. It was increased to 30,677 cusecs on Friday (Sept. 16) and would change as per the inflow of water in the dams,” said Y S Bhandelker, assistant engineer in charge of dams upstream of Mutha river. The discharge of water into Khadakwasla dam is the highest this year, he said.

“Everyone should be careful and vigilant,” Bhandelker said. Similarly, 15,840 cusecs of water was released from Mulshi river while 5,600 cusecs was discharged from Pavna. The water released in the river was at 38,608 cusecs at Bund Garden, in the heart of Pune city. The weather department predicted rainfall to continue in Pune district for the next five days. It will be more intense in the hilly areas, it said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-heavy-rain-mula-mutha-rivers-citizens-alerted-8154990/  (16 Sept. 2022)

Officials from the state irrigation department said all the dams around Pune have already reached their water-holding capacities. The discharge was increased in a phased manner, they said. An official said, “Heavy rain in the catchments continued till Friday (Sept. 16) evening. The catchments of all major dams, including Panshet, Varasgaon, Pavana and Mulshi, recorded over 50mm rainfall each. They will continue to discharge water till there is no drop in rainfall in the catchment areas.”

Meanwhile, huge inflow of water from upstream reservoirs resulted in an increase in water release from Ujani dam. The irrigation department officials said water release was pushed up to 90,000 cusecs from Ujani dam into the Bhima river on Friday (Sept. 16). The valve of a huge water pipeline burst near St Mary’s Church along the Pune-Solapur highway, flooding the arterial road and hampering the movement of traffic. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/pune-riverbank-alert-after-increased-dam-water-release-waterlogging-persists/articleshow/94256984.cms  (17 Sept. 2022)

Rs 250 cr central fund for flood management project The central govt has decided to help urban areas that have faced floods disrupting civic life and critical services. It has identified seven cities, including Pune, under the project. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has approved an annual allocation of Rs50 crore for Pune city for the next five years.

As per the 15th Finance Commission for 2021-26, the seven cities selected under the Urban Flood Risk Management include Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. NDMS conducted a one-day workshop with authorities from these cities on September 13 at Delhi. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/5yr-flood-management-project-pune-to-get-rs50-crore-central-fund-every-year-101663440850970.html  (18 Sept. 2022)

DROUGHT

Goan Connection With the monsoon season coming to an end in India, major rice producing states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand have recorded deficient rainfall. The governments in these states have begun responding to the crop losses but farmers underline that nothing short of a compensation can help them recover the losses sustained by drought-like conditions. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/farmers-bihar-jharkhand-drought-measures-uttar-pradesh-seed-distribution-crop-compensation-51248   (14 Sep 2022)

Deficient monsoon rainfall has affected millions of farmers across 65 districts in Uttar Pradesh. While they are demanding an official declaration of drought, farmers from at least 18 other districts in the state were hit by floods leading to further crop losses. The state government has announced a drought survey and also flood relief. But farmers say it is too little, too late. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/drought-monsoon-floods-uttar-pradesh-farmers-yogi-adityanath-irrigation-varanasi-crop-loss-51247   (14 Sept. 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Supreme Court Plea Challenging Gadgil, Kasturirangan Committee Reports Dismissed   The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice U.U. Lalit & Justice Ravindra Bhat dismissed a PIL challenging the Draft Notification published by Central Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, demarcating over 55 sq.KM area as ‘Western Ghats Ecologically Sensitive Area’. The plea had been filed by a Kerala based NGO, Karshaka Shabdam (Voice of Farmers), alleging that the impugned notification dated 3.10.2018 violated the right to life and livelihood of the farmers guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

At the outset, CJI Lalit enquired why there had been such a delay in challenging the notification. To this, the petitioner stated that they had been contacting stakeholders and the process took some time. However, CJI Lalit was not convinced and stated– “The draft notification was of 2018. You challenged this after 4 years. Draft notification is only to show intention of executive and to seek opinion from general public. You must challenge the latest notification. We cannot entertain such stale petitions.” https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-dismisses-plea-challenging-gadgil-kasturirangan-committee-reports-moef-draft-notification-on-western-ghats-209085  (13 Sept. 2022)

Interview Documenting human-wildlife interactions Documentary photographer Senthil Kumaran from Tamil Nadu is one of the winners of the 2022 World Press Photo Contest for his visual documentary of human-tiger conflicts in India. While the tiger numbers in the country have doubled in the last decade, Kumaran says that forest degradation is one of the reasons that is pushing the animal closer to human-dominated landscapes, leading to negative interactions. In this interview, the photographer talks about the importance of perspectives in documenting wildlife stories and his approach to solving challenges faced on field. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/09/interview-a-photographer-on-his-long-term-effort-to-document-human-wildlife-interactions/  (13 Sept. 2022)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Strong influence of north Pacific Ocean variability on Indian summer heatwaves Vittal Hari, Subimal Ghosh, Wei Zhang & Rohini Kumar Here using observations and controlled climate model experiments, we demonstrate a significant footprint of the far-reaching Pacific Meridional Mode (PMM) on the heatwave intensity (and duration) across North Central India (NCI) – the high risk region prone to heatwaves. A strong positive phase of PMM leads to a significant increase in heatwave intensity and duration over NCI (0.8-2 °C and 3–6 days; p < 0.05) and vice-versa. The current generation (CMIP6) climate models that adequately capture the PMM and their responses to NCI heatwaves, project significantly higher intensities of future heatwaves (0.5-1 °C; p < 0.05) compared to all model ensembles. These differences in the intensities of heatwaves could significantly increase the mortality (by ≈150%) and therefore can have substantial implications on designing the mitigation and adaptation strategies. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-32942-5  (12 Sept. 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh The Bengal Water Machine: Quantified freshwater capture ABSTRACT: Global food security depends on the sustainability of irrigated agriculture. Rising groundwater withdrawals from seasonally humid, alluvial plains across tropical Asia have enabled dry-season rice cultivation. This groundwater pumpage increases available subsurface storage that under favorable conditions amplifies groundwater replenishment during the subsequent monsoon. We empirically quantified this nature-based solution to seasonal freshwater storage capture described as the “Bengal Water Machine,” revealing its potential and limitations. On the basis of a million piezometric observations from 465 monitoring wells, we show that the collective operation of ~16 million smallholder farmers in the Bengal Basin of Bangladesh from 1988 to 2018 has induced cumulative freshwater capture that volumetrically (75 to 90 cubic kilometers) is equivalent to twice the reservoir capacity of the Three Gorges Dam. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abm4730 

ABSTRACT: For decades, millions of farmers in Bangladesh have been capturing more water than even the world’s largest dams. They did so simply by irrigating intensively in the summer dry season using water from shallow wells. The ability to use groundwater to irrigate rice paddies during the dry seasons (January to May) helped Bangladesh become food self-sufficient by the 1990s, which was no small feat for one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Researchers proposed that lowering of the groundwater table as a result of intensive irrigation practices in the dry season created conditions for recharge from monsoon rains (June to September), which then replenishes the groundwater (1). On page 1315 of this issue, Shamsudduha et al. (2) present a quantitative analysis of this depletion-replenish process and show that this recharge has indeed been happening at a large scale, in a process they call the Bengal Water Machine (BWM). https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade0393 

Pumping water in the dry months makes the ground sponge-like for the wet season, a system called the Bengal Water Machine. https://www.popsci.com/environment/bangladesh-farmers-seasonal-floods/  (15 Sept. 2022)

India-Bangladesh Breaking the impasse on the Teesta water-sharing talks Sanjib Baruah writes: It is time we consider having a moratorium on the engineering of the world’s last remaining free-flowing rivers–some of which fortunately, are in these parts of the world — and rethink the framework of regional cooperation on water-related matters

The late Ramaswamy R Iyer, a visionary thinker on water issues, once observed that water disputes rarely come up when a river is free flowing; they occur only when river engineering projects enter the picture. He lamented that official cooperation between countries on water-related issues takes place mostly in the context of harnessing rivers as a water resource. Other important matters such as the protection of waterbodies and aquifers from pollution and degradation, the preservation of wetlands, improving and maintaining water quality, drainage of river basins, the occurrence of arsenic in aquifers, coping with floods and riverbank erosion, water-harvesting and watershed development do not get the same kind of attention. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/bangladesh-and-india-breaking-the-impasse-on-the-teesta-water-sharing-talks-8151638/  (15 Sept. 2022)

60 MT Hilsa arrives from Bangladesh, prices lower this year  At a time when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is on a four-day visit to the country, a consignment of about 60 metric tonnes of Hilsa fish from the neighbouring country arrived in the markets of Kolkata on Wednesday (Sept. 7). On Sunday, the Bangladesh Commerce Ministry gave clearance to 50 agencies in their country to export the huge consignments of Hilsa to India. The ministry also directed the exporting agencies to export 2,450 metric tonnes of Hilsa ahead of Durga Puja.

However, W Bengal Fish Importers Association secretary Anwar Maqsood said Hilsa is being sold at a lower price compared to the last year. “So far, we have received 60 metric tonnes of Hilsa from Bangladesh. However, they are being sold at a lower price this year. Compared to the last year, the price of one kg of Hilsa is Rs 200 less this year. Suppose if one kg Hilsa was priced Rs 1,400 last year, this year it is being sold at Rs 1,200,” Maqsood told the newspaper. “The rest of the consignments will arrive from time to time in the next one month. The fish will be exported to West Bengal and other parts of the country as well,” added Maqsood.

Traders display imported Hilsa at a wholesale fish market in Howrah on Wednesday morning. Patha Paul. TIE

Bangladesh had imposed a ban on the export of Hilsa to India in 2012. However, since 2019, it allowed relaxations on the export, particularly during the festive season. According to the Fish Importers Association, the Bangladesh government had last year given permission to export around 4,600 metric tonnes of Hilsa — the highest quantity since 2019 — when the ban was eased. However, due to the paucity of time, only 1,200 MT could be exported to India. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/60-mt-hilsa-arrives-from-bangladesh-prices-lower-this-year-8137682/  (08 Sept. 2022)

Delay in Teesta pact holding up Hilsa fish supply to India: Hasina Playfully chiding the Indian government for failing to deliver on the Teesta water sharing agreement, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday (Sept. 05) said the treaty, held up since 2011 due to differences between the Centre and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, was also holding up Hilsa fish supplies to India. “You [India] aren’t giving us enough water, so I can’t give you Hilsa fish right now. But I promise I will be able to supply Hilsa by the upcoming Puja season [in October],” she said, laughing, during a diplomatic reception in Delhi, in a reference to the lower water flows in the Teesta and other rivers. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/delay-in-teesta-pact-holding-up-hilsa-fish-supply-to-india-hasina/article65854858.ece  (06 Sept. 2022)

WB fish traders request Bangladesh govt to send 2000 MT Hilsa in festive season “Last year, the Bangladesh government had allowed export of 4,600MT of Hilsa but due to paucity of time, only around 1200 MT could reach us. This year we have requested them to allow export of around 2000MT but increase the time frame from one month to around 45 days so that the entire consignment could be imported,” said SA Maqsood, secretary of Fish Importer’s Association.

In 2021, fishermen in West Bengal could catch only around 6,170MT of Hilsa. The catch has been going down over the years. In 2011, Hilsa catch was around 16,500MT. It went down below 10,000MT over the next three years. In 2017, around 26,000MT of Hilsa was caught, the highest haul in recent times. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, it went down to 2,085MT, the lowest in recent years.

There are multiple factors ranging from unbridled fishing, pollution, rainfall, decreasing depth in rivers because of siltation and river flush around this time of the year, among others. “They are very sensitive to subtle changes. They would migrate from sea to rivers to breed and would swim in that direction where they get favourable conditions. If they don’t find suitable conditions in River Hooghly in West Bengal, they enter the Meghna-Padma estuary in Bangladesh,” said Shyamsundar Das, joint secretary of West Bengal United Fishermen Association. This year too, the catch has been meagre as a result of which prices have soared. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/kolkata-news/wb-fish-traders-request-bangladesh-govt-to-send-2000-mt-hilsa-in-festive-season-101662104676424.html  (02 Sept. 2022)

A 22-day government ban on catching, selling, hoarding and transporting of hilsa will come into effect from 7 October in a bid to save mother hilsa during peak breeding season, reports UNB. The ban will be lifted on 28 October, said Iftekhar Hossain, public relations officer of fisheries and livestock ministry on Thursday (Sept. 15). The ban covers hilsa sanctuaries in six districts-Barishal, Chandpur, Laxmipur, Bhola, Shariatpur and Patuakhali districts. https://en.prothomalo.com/bangladesh/xxz98yegzf  (15 Sept. 2022)

Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha Dam on the Indus River that was supposed to serve as the country’s future lifeline has been caught in a scandal after it was revealed that Rs 9 billion (or $40 million) was raised from the public for its construction – but much more was spent advertising it. According to Pakistan’s Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC), Rs 14 billion or $63 million has been spent on advertising the dam, which is nowhere close to being completed. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/pakistan-collected-40-million-from-public-to-build-dam-then-spent-63-million-on-advertising-it-9182731.html  (15 Sept. 2022)

ASIA

Are ‘Water Wars’ Coming to Asia? A recently published study by a team of scientists from the University of Texas in Austin, Penn State, and Tsinghua University in Nature climate change journal found that terrestrial water storage (TWS) in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China is expected to sustain significant net declines by 2060. The study analyzed seven river basin systems – the Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Salween-Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow river basins – and found that the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, also known as Asia’s “water tower” or “the roof of the world,” is threatened by climate change-induced water loss.

As the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau’s glacier melt and mountain springs provide a significant supply of water flowing out of China to many downstream countries in Asia, this study reinforces that climate change effects are exacerbating water insecurity in Asia. While the water challenges in Asia are due in part to poor water management, they are made worse by other pressures. These include rapid population growth, urbanization, growing water demands, upstream-downstream disputes, and geopolitical tensions over water resources. To avoid further water insecurity concerns and fears of a “water war” or water crisis, governments in Asia should rethink their approach to water security by improving their management of water resources.

Further complicating water security issues, China, the “upstream superpower” of many of Asia’s longest and most important rivers and regional hydro-hegemon, does not have an independent transboundary river policy. Instead, the management of transnational water resources falls under the much broader framework of foreign relations with the many various downstream countries.

Given China’s distrust of multilateral frameworks to resolve international disputes, Beijing has not signed a water-sharing with its neighbors or an international transboundary-governing water treaty, causing concern in the downstream region over the potential for conflict over access to and control of shared water resources. Some of China’s neighbors have not signed these agreements either.

Complicating matters, China’s major approach to water challenges has been engineering-focused, as demonstrated by its construction of mega hydro-infrastructure such as hydropower dams. Hydropower dams can have an enormous impact on water supply by affecting river flow to the downstream region. China has built many hydropower dams on major transnational rivers, both within Chinese territory and downstream, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, China’s dam-building activities on the upper headwaters of various transboundary rivers, including major international rivers such as the Brahmaputra, Mekong, and Salween, have caused significant concern along with ecological, socioeconomic, and environmental damage in the downstream region. This consequently puts further pressure on a region that is already water-stressed.

For the downstream region, particularly India and Vietnam, the project proposal has raised additional concerns about water scarcity and potential growing competition between the downstream area for access to and control water resources.

Asia’s water and water-related challenges are set to increase in the coming decades. As the recent study in Nature notes, the TWS is expected to continue to decline, especially for the Amu Darya and Indus river basins, the latter of which begins in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The challenges posed by water insecurity and poor water management in Asia will also continue to worsen due to the effects of climate change. For the downstream region, this adds another challenge to the existing concerns over water management and water availability, made worse by China’s dam-building agenda.

While the “water wars” narrative may lack historical evidence, it is undeniable that interlinked concerns of rapid population growth and urbanization combined with growing demands for water further challenge the poor water management in the countries. Climate change impacts will further exacerbate these significant concerns, and in such a context, a “water war” or “water crisis” cannot be ruled out. To avoid additional water challenges and to ensure water security, countries must improve water management alongside the implementation of water demand management methods.  https://thediplomat.com/2022/09/are-water-wars-coming-to-asia/  (17 Sept. 2022)

Ukraine war: Houses flooded after missiles hit major dam Russian missiles have hit a reservoir dam near the southern Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, officials say. Residents in some areas were told to evacuate, city head Oleksandr Vilkul said, but he added the situation was under control. Mr Vilkul said that overnight two blasts were carried out to increase the water flow from the dam to the Inhulets river.

Ukrainian officials say as many as eight Russian missiles hit the dam on Wednesday. Reuters/BBC

Water supplies were affected by the attack in the city, which had a pre-war population of more than 600,000 people. Water broke through the dam and overflowed the banks of the river, flooding some houses, officials said. There were no casualities, but some people had to be shifted out of the flood affected areas. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62910245  (16 Sept. 2022)

MEKONG Cambodia One killed, two seriously in sand truck collision One person lost their life and two people were seriously injured when a sand truck rammed into a luxury car. The accident took place at 16:30 on Aug 10 in Boeung Tarong village. Prey Khmum commune, Teuk Chhou district, in Kampot.. https://www.khmertimeskh.com/501130526/one-killed-two-seriously-in-sand-truck-collision/  (11 Aug. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Henderson water company files bankruptcy as Lake Mead ‘straw’ runs dry The company that was the sole water supplier for the City of Henderson for decades has filed for bankruptcy protection, a victim of a 23-year drought that created a problem too expensive to fix. Although Henderson no longer relies exclusively on the Basic Water Company (BWC), industries that built the city out of the desert to meet World War II demands still do. And their water bills threaten to break the bank.

When Lake Mead dropped to “Failure Elevation” — 1,043 feet in July — Basic Water Company’s 40-inch-diameter pipe stopped sucking in water at Saddle Island. The pipelines are commonly referred to as “straws.” The lake dropped as low as 1,040 feet, but it has since risen to 1,043 feet. Forecast models show it dropping under 1,040 feet again by April of 2023. https://www.8newsnow.com/news/local-news/henderson-water-company-files-bankruptcy-as-lake-mead-straw-runs-dry/  (12 Sept. 2022)

Plastic garbage covers Central American rivers, lakes and beaches Soda bottles, medication packets and tattered flipflops are contaminating beaches and rivers in Central America and what floats is just 30% percent of plastic rubbish. The rest sinks to the bottom of the water bodies. Local fishermen say the pollution forces tilapia and cichlid fish deeper into the artificial lake—the largest body of freshwater in the country— here they cannot be reached with fishing nets. “It has been more than two months since we’ve been able to fish,” angler Luis Penate, 25, told AFP.  

Image Source: AFP/Money Control.

To make ends meet, he has started ferrying around tourists in a boat owned by another fisherman. Ducks clear paths through the rubbish, little tortoises climb on top of floating bottles to sunbathe and skinny horses wade into the lake to drink the contaminated water.  Environment minister Fernando Lopez said the country generates 4,200 tons of waste a day, of which 1,200 tons end up in rivers, beaches and streets. One of the worst affected areas of the Central American Caribbean coast is the beaches of the Omoa region in Honduras. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/photos/world/plastic-garbage-covers-central-american-rivers-lakes-and-beaches-9190541.html  (16 Sept. 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 12 Sept. 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 05 Sept. 2022  

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

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