(Feature image: A protest by Narmada Bachao Andolan in Nov. 2006. Source: @Sripadmanthan)
On Sept 27, 2022, the Madhya Pradesh Government cancelled all contracts related to the Maheshwar Dam Project on Narmada. This massive dam on Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh upstream of Sardar Sarovar Project and downstream of the Omkareshwar Project was to be a multi-purpose project with a 400 MW hydropower component and water supply component among others. It was opposed by the people’s movement lead by Narmada Bachao Andolan for over two decades now. The project being implemented by the private textile company S Kumars showed no will or intention of taking care of the social or environment impacts of the project. Madhya Pradesh government so far was trying to push ahead with the project by hook or by crook, but finally had the sense to realise that this is going to be a massively costly affair at estimated Rs 42000 crores and the state and the people of state are only going to suffer costs and adverse impacts. The cancellation of all the contracts for the project signals a major victory of the people’s movement.
While congratulating the state government for cancelling the contracts, we would also suggest that the government needs to quickly decide about decommissioning of the dam, so that it does not pose safety risk to the people upstream and downstream and also perpetuates unnecessary adverse social and environment impacts. Earlier the dam is decommissioned, quicker will be the relief from these impacts. Moreover, the MP government should also not let the private company go scot free and all attempts should be made to recover the money spent and also penalise them for breach of the contracts. The private company should also be made to pay for the decommissioning costs.
NBA PR प्रेस विज्ञप्ति: 28 सितंबर 2022: महेश्वर विद्युत् परियोजना के सभी समझौतों को रद्द करने का मंत्रिमंडल द्वारा अनुमोदन; नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन के तहत प्रभावितों के 25 के संघर्ष की एतिहासिक जीत; जनता का 42,000 करोड़ रुपया लुटने से बचा
एक महत्वपूर्ण घटनाक्रम में कल उज्जैन में मध्य प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री श्री शिवराजसिंह चौहान की अध्यक्षता में हुई मंत्रिमंडल की बैठक में महेश्वर जल विद्युत परियोजना के सम्बंध में निजी परियोजनकर्ता के साथ हुए सभी समझौतों के रद्द करने का अनुमोदन कर दिया गया।
महेश्वर परियोजना के खिलाफ नर्मदा बचाओ आन्दोलन के तहत प्रभावितों के 25 वर्ष के निरंतर संघर्ष की यह एक एतिहासिक जीत है और इस प्रकार इस परियोजना के रद्द होने से प्रदेश की जनता का 42000 करोड़ रुपया लुटने से बच जायेगा. कौन से समझौते रद्द हुए? राज्य मंत्रिमंडल ने महेश्वर जल विद्युत परियोजना के संबंध में निम्न समझौतों के रद्द करने का अनुमोदन किया है –
★ 11 नवंबर 1994 – विद्युत क्रय समझौता
★ 27 मई 1996 – विद्युत क्रय समझौता संसोधन
★ 27 मई 1996 – इम्प्लीमेंटेशन एग्रीमेंट
★ 24 फरवरी 1997 – पुनर्वास व पुनर्स्थापना समझौता
★ 16 सितंबर 2005 – अमेंडेटेरी एंड रीस्टेटेड एग्रीमेंट
साथ ही इन समझौतों से जुड़ी राज्य सरकार की सभी गारन्टीयों और काउंटर गारन्टीयों को भी रद्द कर दिया गया है।
क्या है महेश्वर परियोजना:
महेश्वर जल विद्युत परियोजना के तहत नर्मदा नदी पर मध्य प्रदेश के खरगोन जिले में एक बड़ा बांध बनाया जा रहा है. 400 मेगवाट क्षमता वाली इस बिजली परियोजना को निजीकरण के तहत 1994 में एस कुमार समूह की कंपनी श्री महेश्वर हायडल पावर कॉरपोरेशन लिमिटेड को दिया गया था. राज्य सरकार ने कंपनी के साथ सन 1994 में विद्युत क्रय समझौता और सन 1996 में संशोधित विद्युत क्रय समझौता किया था. इस जनविरोधी समझौते के अनुसार बिजली बने या न बने और बिके या न बिके फिर भी जनता का करोड़ों रुपया 35 वर्ष तक निजी परियोजनाकर्ता को दिया जाता रहना था. इस परियोजना की डूब में 61 गाँव प्रभावित हो रहे थे.
विस्थापितों के 25 वर्ष के संघर्ष की ऐतिहासिक जीत:
महेश्वर परियोजना के खिलाफ नर्मदा बचाओ आन्दोलन के तहत महेश्वर बांध प्रभावितों के नेतृत्व में गत 25 वर्षों से अनवरत संघर्ष किया जाता रहा है. नर्मदा आन्दोलन ने आंकड़ो और दस्तावेजो के आधार पर प्रारंभ से ही यह दर्शाया था कि इस परियोजना से कम बिजली बनेगी, और वह बहुत महंगी होगी. साथ ही परियोजनाकर्ता एस कुमार्स के साथ हुए जन विरोधी विद्युत् क्रय समझौते के कारण, मध्य प्रदेश सरकार को यह बिजली 35 साल तक खरीदनी ही पड़ेगी, और यदि नहीं भी खरीद पाए, तो भी हर साल भारी भरकम भुगतान करना होगा. अतः आन्दोलन ने लगातार मांग की कि चूँकि यह परियोजना प्रदेश की आर्थिक व्यवस्था को बर्बाद कर देगी अतः इसे जन हित में रद्द कर देना आवश्यक है. आन्दोलन ने परियोजनकर्ता द्वारा की गयी सैकड़ों करोड़ रूपये की वित्तीय अनियमितताओं को उजागर किया. आन्दोलन ने ज़मीनी हकीकत के आधार पर यह भी स्थापित किया था कि इस बांध से प्रभावित होने वाले 60,000 किसान, मजदूर, केवट, कहार, आदि प्रभावितों के लिए पुनर्वास नीति के अनुसार कोई व्यवस्था नहीं है.
इन मुद्दों को उठाते हुए, 25 साल के संघर्ष के दौरान हज़ारो परियोजना प्रभावित महिला और पुरुषो ने बार- बार धरने, प्रदर्शन, अनशन किये, लाठी चार्ज, गिरफ्तारी, जेल के शिकार बने. परियोजनकर्ता और सरकार ने आन्दोलनकारियों को प्रताड़ित करने के लिये मंडलेश्वर, खरगोन, भोपाल, मुंबई आदि न्यायालयों में सैंकड़ो झूठे केस दर्ज किये. आन्दोलन ने परियोजना प्रभावितों के पुनर्वास के सम्बन्ध में उच्च न्यायालय व् नेशनल ग्रीन ट्रिब्यूनल में याचिकाएं भी दायर कीं. नेशनल ग्रीन ट्रिब्यूनल में लंबित याचिका में ट्रिब्यूनल ने अपने अंतिम आदेश में निर्देशित किया था कि जब तक पूरी योजना के समस्त लोगो का सम्पूर्ण पुनर्वास पूरा नहीं हो जाता, बांध में पानी नहीं भरा जा सकता है. उल्लेखनीय है कि आज तक कि महेश्वर परियोजना प्रभावितों का 85% से अधिक पुनर्वास बाकी है.
घोटालों से घिरी रही है महेश्वर परियोजना : 5 सी ए जी (CAG) रिपोर्ट में जिक्र अनियमितताओं का
महेश्वर परियोजना में तमाम वित्तीय अनियमितताएं हुई और इसके कारण बार-बार परियोजना का कार्य बंद हुआ, परियोजना स्थल की कुर्की हुई और पिछले 12 वर्षों से परियोजना का काम ठप्प पड़ा था. कांग्रेस हो या भाजपा सभी सरकारों ने निजी प्रयोजनाकर्ता को जनता की कीमत पर फायदा पहुंचाने का प्रयास किया. भारत की सर्वोच्च संस्था नियंत्रक एवं महालेखा परीक्षक, सी ए जी (CAG) ने वर्ष 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005 और 2014 की पांच रिपोर्टों में महेश्वर परियोजना के सम्बन्ध में गंभीर भ्रष्टाचार का खुलासा किया है, 2014 की रिपोर्ट में CAG ने यहाँ तक लिखा कि सरकार क्यों नहीं महेश्वर परियोजना का समझौता रद्द करती है.
इसके अलावा भारतीय औद्योगिक वित्त निगम (IFCI) ने अपनी सन 2001 के रिपोर्ट में भी स्पष्ट कहा था कि परियोजनाकर्ता एस.कुमार्स ने तमाम बैंक व् सरकारी संस्थायों से महेश्वर परियोजना के लिए लिये गये 106.4 करोड़ रुपये को उसी ग्रुप की अन्य कम्पनी को डाइवर्ट कर दिया था. इस कारण नर्मदा बचाओ आन्दोलन ने बार बार यह मांग की थी कि परियोजना के लिए आये सार्वजनिक पैसे का फोरेंसिक ऑडिट (forensic audit) किया जाए.
मध्य प्रदेश की जनता के 42000 करोड़ रूपये लुटने से बचे
400 मेगावाट क्षमता की महेश्वर जल विद्युत् परियोजना से मात्र 80 करोड़ यूनिट बिजली पैदा होना प्रस्तावित है. अभी जारी आदेश में स्वीकार किया गया है कि इसकी बिजली की कीमत 18 रूपये प्रति यूनिट से अधिक होगी. मध्य प्रदेश में वर्तमान में बिजली प्रदेश की समूची मांग पूरी करने के बाद भी 3000 करोड़ यूनिट अतिरिक्त है और वर्त्तमान में बिजली 2.5 रु/ यूनिट की दर पर उपलब्ध है.
अतः महेश्वर की बिजली बनती भी तो खरीदी नहीं जा सकती थी. परन्तु महेश्वर परियोजनाकर्ता से हुए विद्युत् क्रय समझौते के अनुसार बिजली न खरीदने पर भी सरकार को निजी परियोजनाकर्ता को लगभग 1200 करोड़ रुपया प्रतिवर्ष, 35 वर्ष तक देना पड़ता. अतः साफ है कि 35 वर्ष में बिना बिजली खरीदे 42,000 करोड़ों रुपए मध्य प्रदेश की जनता के लूट लिए जाते. अतः परियोजना रद्द होने से जनता के यह 42,000 करोड़ रु लुटने से बच गये.
निजीकरण के नाम पर जनता की लूट बंद हो:
महेश्वर परियोजना निजीकरण के नाम पर जनता की लूट का एक वीभत्स उदाहरण है. शुरू से ही इस परियोजना का उद्देश्य जनता के पैसे की लूट था, जिसे विस्थापितों के आन्दोलन ने लगातार भयावह दमन सहते हुए पूरी ताकत से उठाया. नर्मदा आन्दोलन मांग करता है कि जनता का सारा पैसा वापस लाया जाये और इस उदाहरण से सबक लेकर आगे निजीकरण के नाम पर सार्वजनिक पैसे की लूट को बंद किया जाये. मीडिया सेल, नर्मदा बचाओ आन्दोलन, खंडवा https://sangharshsamvad.org/after-two-and-a-half-decades-the-struggle-of-maheshwar-project-affected-and-displaced-wins-the-agreement-of-the-project-canceled/ (28 Sept. 2022) https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/khargone/sanavad/news/cabinet-seal-in-ujjain-to-cancel-all-contracts-of-maheshwar-project-130372196.html (28 Sept. 2022); https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/madhya-pradesh-govt-cancels-all-maheshwar-hydroelectric-contracts-85235 (30 Sept. 2022)
Madhya Pradesh cabinet resolves to cancel all MoUs with #MaheshwarHydroPowerProject on Sept 27 2022. Final nail in the coffin of a project that should never have been taken up. Huge success for people’s movement there led by Narmada Bachao Andolan. https://mpinfo.org/Home/CabinetDetails?newsid=220927S1&fontname=Mangal&LocID=32&pubdate=09/27/2022#
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
SANDRP Blog In Photos: People of the Free-Flowing Tirthan River Tirthan, a tributary of the Beas in Himachal Pradesh is one of the rarest rivers in India. Not because it is teeming with trout, not because the tiny valley is home to nearly 100 species of butterflies, not because it has several functioning water mills running with flow of the river, but because it is protected by the Himachal Legislature as a perpetually free-flowing river: A No-Go River for Hydropower and other dam projects. Read about how it came to pass here: Muktadhara Tirthan
While we calculate the costs and benefits of building dams, we do not enter into similar discussions when it comes to a free-flowing river. How does a free-flowing river touch the lives of its people? Does it provide them with services, with succour, with hope? What are the tangible or intangible benefits people get from free flowing rivers? At the cusp of spring this year, photographer Abhay Kanvinde spent some time with the people of Tirthan Valley. Here are some of his impressions: https://sandrp.in/2022/09/29/in-photos-people-of-the-free-flowing-tirthan/ (29 Sept. 2022)
In Photos: Gharats of Tirthan: For the tastiest Parathas In the Tirthan Valley of Himachal Pradesh, as we crisscrossed tiny wheat fields moist with dew and apple orchards laden with white blossoms, a rhythm accompanied the steps: a constant ghrr-ghrr-ghrr. It came from small slate shelters with sloping roofs, which looked like tiny shrines. Sometimes, the shelters were made directly over a stream, but many times they were on the banks, with a channel diverting some water to them. These were the Gharats: water-mills running on the kinetic energy of flowing water and milling fresh, cool flour. https://sandrp.in/2022/09/30/in-photos-gharats-of-tirthan-for-the-tastiest-parathas/ (30 Sept. 2022)
Arunachal Pradesh Floodwater inundates powerhouse of NHPC’s Subansiri hydro project Floodwater has entered the powerhouse of the NHPC’s under-construction 2,000 mw Subansiri hydro project along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary, officials said on Monday (Sept. 26). A portion of the temporary guard wall at the powerhouse collapsed on Sunday (Sept. 25)night after seepage started due to flooding of the Subansiri river, following heavy rain in upstream areas in Arunachal, a company source told PTI.
“We will now have to dewater the premises. Then, cleaning will take place as the floor will be very slurry. Work at the powerhouse will be delayed by four-five months,” another official said. He also said that the damage is recognised as a threat to the ongoing last phase of construction work of the powerhouse. On Friday (Sept. 23), a diversion tunnel of the project was damaged due to landslides. No one was injured in the incident, the officials said.
The company had constructed five diversion tunnels as temporary measures to divert the river for construction of the dam foundation. However, Tunnel 5 was blocked at the outlet during 2020 and Tunnel 2 was blocked near the entry point on 16 September this year due to landslides.
In June, one person was killed and another seriously injured when the roof of Intact Tunnel 2 collapsed. The Assam government in March this year had informed the state assembly that partial commissioning of the ambitious project has been further postponed till August 2022. The project is likely to be completed in August 2023, as per information on the NHPC website.
In December 2020, the company had set a target of March 2022 for commissioning the project at Gerukamukh along the Assam-Arunachal boundary. According to a company estimate in January 2020, the cost of the mega project, which was scheduled to be commissioned in December 2012, has escalated to around Rs 20,000 crore from the initial sum of Rs 6,285 crore. The Centre had allocated a total of Rs 11,000 crore as of December 2010 for construction of the dam. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/09/27/floodwater-inundates-powerhouse-of-nhpcs-subansirihydro-project/ (27 Sept. 2022)
Lower Subansiri HEP disaster: The machines of one unit of the project, touted to be the biggest hydroelectric project undertaken in India so far, have been installed, while work on the second unit was underway when water entered the building when the guard wall collapsed on Sept 25 2022 night.
– “We will now have to dewater the premises. Then, cleaning will take place as the floor will be very slurry. Work at the powerhouse will be delayed by four-five months,” another official said. He also said that the damage is recognised as a threat to the ongoing last phase of construction work of the powerhouse.
– On Friday Sept 23, 2022, a diversion tunnel of the project was damaged due to landslides. No one was injured in the incident, the officials said. However, tunnel 5 was blocked at the outlet during 2020 and tunnel 2 was blocked near the entry point on September 16 this year due to landslides. In June, one person was killed and another seriously injured when the roof of Intact Tunnel 2 collapsed. https://www.eastmojo.com/assam/2022/09/26/flood-water-inundates-powerhouse-of-nhpcs-mega-project-along-assam-arunachal-border/ (26 Sept. 2022)
NHPC, in a filing before the stock exchange, has claimed that the “partial” flooding of the powerhouse on Sept 25 2022 will not “significantly” affect its planned commissioning schedule of the project and it will only need some extra time to dewater and clean the powerhouse. It claimed the flooding happened due to incessant rain and heavy discharge, but no figures are given about the discharge or the design capacity of the guard wall that broke to inundate the powerhouse. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/power-house-at-nhpcs-under-construction-subansiri-lower-he-project-partially-flooded-statement/94494032 (28 Sept. 2022)
Dibang HEP: Govt says no land for national park, NGT drops its own case The NGT has dismissed the case it took up suo motu on the grant of forest clearance for the 3000-MW Dibang hydel project without meeting the precondition of declaring a national park. The Tribunal did so after it was informed by Arunachal Pradesh that “the local people… are not willing to part away their land for declaration of National Park”.
Responding to the NGT notice, the Arunachal government, in an affidavit on August 22, said “the local people in the Unclassed Forest/Community Forests enjoying customary rights since time immemorial are not willing to part away their land for declaration of National Park” and the “development has been communicated to the Ministry of Environment” on August 17. Taking note of this submission and a compliance report of other FAC conditions, the NGT on September 22 ruled that “nothing further remains for adjudication” and dismissed its own case.
Environmentalist Ashish Kothari, who served in several expert panels of the Ministry, said the state government’s stand “puts a big question mark on the project which was anyway rejected twice for the damage it will cause to forests and communities” in Dibang. “The condition for a national park was put to justify its eventual clearance, without taking into consideration local people’s rights. Now if that condition can’t be met, the project’s clearance process must start again or the project be abandoned,” Kothari said. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/dibang-hydel-project-arunachal-says-no-land-for-national-park-ngt-drops-its-own-case-8176877/ (28 Sept. 2022)
Study How climate change is threatening Himalayan hydropower projects More than 650 hydropower projects planned or under construction in the Himalayan region are at risk from hazards related to melting glaciers, warns a study published recently in Nature Geoscience. Many of the new projects are significantly upslope compared with existing ones, in locations closer to glaciers and glacial lakes in high altitude areas, making them more hazard-prone, the study notes. Those hazards include landslides, rock-ice avalanches, debris flow and lake outburst floods, all of which could increase with glacier melt and slope destabilisation. The biggest threat may be lake outburst floods, including landslide-driven lake outbursts and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFS), said Dongfeng Li, a scientist with the National University of Singapore and the study’s lead author. Glacial lake outbursts refer to the sudden release of water from a lake formed by glacial melt. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/times-special/how-climate-change-is-threatening-himalayan-hydropower-projects/articleshow/94545599.cms (30 Sept. 2022)
Centre Hydro policy may link free power with project progress Govt plans changes in hydropower policy to try to make the unviable hydropower little less unviable and hopes that private sector again gets interested in hydro, it is clearly not interested now. The time and cost overruns have pushed the cost of power from hydro projects to Rs 8 per unit. They want to reduce it to 4.5, which is clearly unlikely and even if they do, it will still be double the cost of solar wind power. The draft proposal circulated to the states talks about linking free power to early completion, offering annuity to project affected families, among other measures. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/hydro-policy-may-link-free-power-with-project-progress/94493080 (28 Sept. 2022)
Jammu & Kashmir Govt sets March 2023 target for Rs 2793 Cr Shahpur Kandi project. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/front-page-2/deadlines-and-delays-govt-sets-march-2023-target-for-rs-2793-cr-shahpur-kandi-project (01 Oct. 2022)
Sikkim: Pro-dam supporters protest, demand initiation of Teesta Stage 4 https://www.eastmojo.com/sikkim/2022/09/22/sikkim-pro-dam-supporters-protest-demand-initiation-of-teesta-stage-4/ (22 Sept. 2022)
MoEF Agenda of the EAC on River Valley projects to be held on Oct 11, 2022:
1. Ranapur Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (1200MW) at Village Ranapur, Tehsil Sarangapur & Neradigonda, Dist Adilabad & Nirmal (Telangana) by Sri Siddharth Infratech & Services (I) Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference
2. CHIREC Pumped Storage Project (75MW) at Chikni village, Tehsil Odagi, District Surajpur (Chhatisgragh) by Venika Green Power Pvt Ltd– Terms of Reference http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/_29092022PTW6LDRV.pdf
Sardar Sarovar Dam Nandini Oza:Who, Indeed, Are the ‘Urban Naxals’, Who Delayed the Sardar Sarovar Project? https://thewire.in/rights/who-indeed-are-the-urban-naxals-who-delayed-the-sardar-sarovar-project (29 Sept. 2022)
SG Vombatkere Shows how PM’s statement on SSP delay was factually wrong. https://countercurrents.org/2022/09/the-narmada-sardar-sarovar-project-the-truth-about-the-damned-delay/ (26 Sept. 2022)
Farakka Barrage Impact of Farakka barrage is felt in Bhagalpur with reduced river depth, lower carrying capacity, the floods come more frequently. This says a study by Central Govt is going on and will be completed in two months.
Kaleshwaram Project Telangana requests SC to vacate stay The Telangana government on Sept 29, 2022 filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to vacate a stay ordered on the ongoing works of Kaleshwaram lift irrigation scheme expanding its scope for drawing more water from Godavari river to provide more irrigation facilities. “The project already has all statutory clearances from the Central Water Commission. Yet, we have submitted the detailed project report (DPR) on this additional component to the CWC as well as the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) under the Union Jal Sakthi ministry,” the official said. However, the GRMB had refused to examine the DPR and stopped the process of according statutory clearances for additional 1 tmc ft works of Kaleshwaram project on the grounds that the Supreme Court had ordered maintenance of a status quo. “Hence, we requested the court to vacate the status quo order, so that the Centre can examine the DPR and grant permission for the same,” the official said.
– It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court on July 27 ordered status quo on the project works, after hearing a batch of petitions which alleged that the Telangana government was increasing the capacity of the project without any clearances. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/telangana-requests-supreme-court-to-vacate-stay-on-kaleshwaram-project-101664563673163.html (01 Oct. 2022)
Karnataka Govt to spend Rs10K cr to increase Almatti dam height: CM “The government is anticipating orders from the court to facilitate all works under the Upper Krishna Project-3rd stage. Once the verdict comes, it has been decided to take up R&R of villagers which will submerge in the project, at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore,” he said. The CM said that two to three rounds of meetings have already been held with the finance, water resources departments regarding increasing the dam height. “Out of 14 villages to be affected, four villages have come for payment of compensation for which Rs 3,900 crore will be released within a month. The other villages will get compensation in January, 2023. The survey of another six villages has started and necessary action will be taken for the disbursal of compensation,” he added. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/011022/karnataka-to-spend-rs-10000-cr-to-increase-almatti-dam-height-says-b.html (01 Oct. 2022)
Maharashtra State government prohibits construction within 200 m of dams In order to prevent water pollution, the state water resource department has banned any kind of construction activity within 200 metres from both sides of catchment area of all dams across Maharashtra. The decision was taken earlier this month, amending the previous directive, where construction at one metre height from the water level was prohibited. Under the new decision, local bodies have been empowered to take action against properties (construction) developed within 200 metre periphery of catchment area of dam. However, the latest notification is silent on the existing constructions.
Recently irrigation department had filed the complaint with the MPCB for getting sewage in dam water from many resorts in Pune district, said Yogesh Bhandalkar, Assistant Engineer of Khadakwasla division. Pune district has 29 small and big dams and properties, resorts are mushrooming along water bodies. A senior official from the irrigation department, requesting anonymity, said that this decision has been made late and construction is already underway.
PMC water department head Aniruddha Pawaskar said, “We had raised the issue of polluted water at dam level many times. As there is development around dams, sewage is directly coming into dam water. So, the PMC is now required to carry out additional treatment of this water.” Another senior officer from PMC working with the water filtration plant said, “As the sewage water has increased in the dam water, the raw water quality is fast worsening. We need to treat this water. There is an urgent need to divert the sewage coming in dam water. The situation is similar in the lower parts of Pune city where sewage is being mixed with river water.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/state-government-prohibits-construction-within-200-metres-of-dams-101664219162354.html (27 Sept. 2022)
CWC As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 29.09.2022, live storage available in these reservoirs is 154.181BCM, which is 87% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs.
However, last year the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 142.371BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 136.859BCM. http://www.cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/29092022-fb.pdf (29 Sept. 2022)
INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES
Krishna Water Disputes A fresh Row A fresh row over water sharing in river Krishna has surfaced between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh with focus on hydel generation on Srisailam left bank canal. The Andhra Pradesh government has written to the Krishna river management board that Telangana had taken up generation at the power station on the canal of its side though it was not required. The Engineer-in-Chief of irrigation of AP said in the letter that the water storage at Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar reservoirs was full to capacity. However, the generation by Telangana on left bank amounted to wastage of a significant quantity of water from Srisailam. It will lead to shortage of drinking and irrigable water at the end of the season. Therefore, Telangana government may be stopped from continuing generation immediately. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/fresh-row-over-krishna-water/article65956476.ece (30 Sept. 2022)
Sabarmati; Ahmedabad Polluted river forces triathlon to indoor pool Triathletes at the 36th National Games were to swim in the Sabarmati River to compete for over 750 metres in open waters, in addition to biking 20 kms and running 5km. But they will now swim within the confines of an Olympic-size pool — 50 metres in length — at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar instead. The reason: the green-coloured water of the Sabarmati river, described by organisers as ‘unhygienic and infectious’ that could result in swimmers getting infections.
Since July, when the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) announced Gujarat as the host of the National Games, Amdavad Municipal Corporation officials had conducted multiple tests to check the quality of the Sabarmati water. “The results showed the quality of water wasn’t nice at all. And since the water is very polluted, it was suggested the event should not be held here,” Virendra Nanavati, the vice-president of the Gujarat State Olympic Association, told The Indian Express. “We argued that in rowing (the other sport that’s being held at the venue), they put boats in the water and people don’t come directly in contact with it. That’s not the case in swimming and we’d risk infecting people if they swam in the water.”
Nanavati added that as drainage water is released into the river, it made the venue unsuitable. “We hoped that it would get better once the monsoon began, assuming that the water will get washed and cleaned. But nothing really happened,” Nanavati, also a veteran swimming administrator, said. Hence, at the last moment, the triathlon venue was moved to Gandhinagar. https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/sport-others/unhygienic-sabarmati-water-forces-triathlon-to-indoor-pool-8183487/ (01 Oct. 2022)
SANDRP Blog Boat Races of Bengal: A River Carnival In the Nadi-Matrik land (born to the river) of Bengal, where a blade of grass takes on layered meanings, river boats are not to be taken lightly. For boatmen who row down a vast river for days at end, a boat is more than a mode of transport. It is symbolic of the mortal body: frail, tattered and adrift, in search of a safe harbor.
For the people who have been making these boats, the mistris, the boat-makers, crafting a boat out of wood is like birthing a precious daughter. The bow of a boat (front) is her head, marked with vermillion, oars are hands to propel her forward, Haal are legs to give her direction. When such a boat is chiseled and crafted out of light, strong wood, boat makers are worshiping “Lokkhi” or Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity.
And then when a new owner comes for the boat, it is dressed in a red and white sari, decorated with flowers and betel leaves, and given away with ceremony. This is irrespective of the religions: a cultural practice, rooted in the land and the rivers of Bengal. https://sandrp.in/2022/09/28/boat-races-of-bengal-a-river-carnival/ (28 Sept. 2022)
RIVER OF STORIES (25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION) “Generally recognized as India’s first graphic novel, Orijit Sen’s River of Stories has been out of print for many years. We are excited to bring out the 25th anniversary edition (on Nov 22 2022) in a handsome hardcover binding with forewords by Arundhati Roy and Paul Gravett, along with a collection of images from Orijit’s sketchbooks.”
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Sardar Sarovar Dam project in Western India became the focal point of a massive grassroots protest. People from all over the country converged to voice their opposition to environmental destruction and the forced relocation of Adivasi communities, all being done in the name of irresponsible and poorly planned development.
Orijit Sen’s account of the Narmada Bachao Andolan is drawn from his personal experiences from 1991-1993. Weaving together the history of the resistance movement with stories of local people and tribal folklore, River of Stories is an inspiring document of environmental activism, as well as an important milestone of Indian comics history. https://www.blaft.com/products/river-of-stories-25th-anniversary-edition (22 Nov. 2022)
Arunachal Pradesh NGT issues directions to IMC regarding waste mgmt While disposing of a petition filed by advocate SD Loda, the NGT asked the state government to submit an action taken report on the series of directives issued by it. Loda had filed the petition before the NGT, urging it to direct the state government to clean the Senki, the Pachin and the Dikrong rivers in the Itanagar Capital Region (ICR).
The Itanagar Municipal Corporation (IMC) and the Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (APSPCB) were made parties to the petition. The NGT urged the IMC to complete the construction of the 3 mld STP in Naharlagun township by 1 September, 2024, and to file an affidavit of compliance in this regard, “to be sworn by the IMC commissioner.”
The NGT ordered the IMC to complete sewerage network pipes and sewage pump work by 31 December, 2023, and to file the affidavit of compliance by 15 January, 2024. Regarding augmentation of the waste management system in the ICR and development of external infrastructure of landfill sites in Chimpu, the NGT directed the IMC to complete the work positively by 31 May, 2023, and file an affidavit of compliance.
For rejuvenation of the Pachin and the Senki rivers and their tributaries, the IMC informed the NGT that it has submitted its proposal to the government, “amounting to Rs 1,000 crore.” For this, the tribunal directed the chief secretary to “file his personal affidavit of action taken in this regard for providing adequate funds for rejuvenation of the Pachin and the Senki rivers and their tributaries by 31 October this year.”
The NGT also asked the government to complete the tender process for rejuvenation of the Yagamso river – which is being taken up by the Itanagar Smart City Development Corporation Limited – by 31 October this year.
The NGT also suggested some short-term measures to deal with solid wastes. “State government, particularly IMC, as an interim measure till adequate number of STPs are established in both Itanagar and Naharlagun and other towns of Arunachal may establish adequate number of faecal sludge treatment plants, which are easier to construct and cost much less.”
“This may adequately address the immediate problem of pollution of sewage into the Senki/Pachin/Dikrong rivers till such time that the main STPs are established,” the NGT stated. It also suggested using “green plants and associated micro ?ganisms to clean up soil, air and water contaminated with pollutants.” “Phytoremediation is also an effective way to remove all the pollutants from the polluted river,” it said. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/09/30/ngt-issues-directions-to-goap-regarding-waste-mgmt/ (30 Sept. 2022)
Odisha NGT directs to revive Sukapaika river in next 6 months NGT has directed the government to revive a dead river in next six months by earmarking dedicated fund for the purpose. It was alleged that the river Sukapaika (a branch of river Mahanadi) in Cuttack district became dead after its mouth was closed restricting its free flow in 1950s. The entire river bed was converted into a dumping ground for garbage and solid and liquid waste. Seven petitioners had moved the tribunal seeking its revival. Amit Sthalekar, Judicial Member of the eastern zone bench of NGT, and Saibal Dasgupta, expert member, directed the State to make Budgetary allocation of ₹49.67 crore for rejuvenation of Sukapaika within a period of one month and complete the entire project for rejuvenation by March 13 next year. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/national-green-tribunal-directs-to-revive-sukapaika-river-in-odisha-in-next-six-months/article65958091.ece (01 Oct. 2022)
Jharkhand The villagers with no option but to drink toxic water But many of the factories thronging the Damodar river bank still dispose of untreated liquid waste from manufacturing in poorly concealed pipes, which run directly into the river’s channel.
Large mountains of ash – a byproduct of local power stations and mining companies that illegally extract sand from the river beds to use in construction – are also dumped into the river to save money. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/indias-polluted-rivers/ (27 Dec. 2022)
Karnataka Villagers of Chantaru oppose waste disposal unit Villagers of Chantaru are opposing the proposed establishment of a waste disposal unit and gheraoed the panchayat office on Thursday (Sept. 28). Gram panchayat is proposing to set up a waste disposal unit on 11 acres of land at Chantaru. The villagers had opposed the project earlier as well. The villagers said that the land on which the Chantaru gram panchayat is proposing to set up a waste disposal unit has government higher primary school nearby and the Madinaru rivulet at a distance of just 200 meters. There are many houses in the vicinity. In addition to pollution of environment, the unit will have detrimental effect on the health of villagers. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1005078 (29 Sept. 2022)
Himachal Pradesh Pharmaceutical unit in Parwanoo sealed Taking stern view of the water pollution caused by letting out of untreated toxic effluents into open, a committee headed by SDM Kasauli on Oct. 01 sealed the erring pharmaceutical unit at Sector-5 in Parwanoo. An environmental compensation of Rs 88,500 has been imposed for violating the provisions of the (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Water Act on unit-III of Hanuchem Laboratories Unit-III operating from Parwanoo. A seven-day period has been granted to pay this compensation.
A committee headed by SDM Kasauli and comprising representatives of police, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and naib tehsildar was constituted by the Member Secretary, SPCB, after the wrong-doing came to light. The committee examined the unit and its vicinity today and found the unit management guilty of letting out untreated effluent in the drain which made way into the Shivloti nullah. Huge foam was observed over a large stretch of the nullah and a large quantity of untreated effluent was also found stocked in drums in the unit premises in violation of the norms on its premises. The drain connecting the unit finds its way into the Sukhna Nullah which confluences into Kaushalya river in the neighbouring Haryana. Contamination of this water with industrial effluents is an inter-state issue. A district-level task force has been constituted to improve its quality. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/pharmaceutical-unit-sealed-for-flouting-norms-437046 (01 Oct. 2022)
GANGA Uttar Pradesh Allahabad HC expressed displeasure over pollution in Ganga The Allahabad High Court has expressed displeasure over the apathy of the government departments in making the river Ganga pollution free in Uttar Pradesh and said that the ambitious National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was throwing dust in the eyes and little work to clean the river was visible on ground. A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justice Ajit Kumar and Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta made the observations while hearing a batch of PIL pertaining to river pollution in U.P. The court also added that the NMCG had become a machine to disperse money and no one was serious about cleaning the river Ganga.
Earlier on August 31, the court had asked the NMCG, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), Jal Nigam and Nagar Nigam, Prayagraj to file affidavits till September 26. But the High Court expressed dissatisfaction with the replies filed by the concerned departments. The court directed the departments to provide copy of the affidavit to the petitioners Vijay Chandra Srivastava, Shiv Kant Mishra and others, and also to Amicus Curiae Arun Kumar Gupta. The next date of hearing in the matter is November 1.
In the earlier hearings as well, the Bench had criticised the authorities and had remarked that, “We all know that thousands of crores of rupees have already been spent to clean river Ganga under Namami Gange Project but with hardly any result”. Few months back, a different Bench under the Allahabad High Court, had remarked that the future of the country to a large extent will depend on the well-being of the river Ganga, hence it is “imperative to make every effort to revive and make it pollution-free”. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/allahabad-hc-expressed-displeasure-over-pollution-in-ganga/article65941748.ece (27 Sept. 2022)
गंगा प्रदूषण पर इलाहाबाद हाईकोर्ट ने कहा- ‘स्वच्छ गंगा मिशन का काम आंखों को धोखा देने वाला है’ https://hindi.indiatomorrow.net/2022/09/27/allahabad-highcourt-expressed-displeasure-over-pollution-in-ganga/ (27 Sept. 2022)
NGT Orders Closing Tanneries The NGT has directed the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to take remedial measures to prevent pollution in the Ganga river from tanneries in a “realistic manner”. The bench dealt with two issues of water pollution in Jajmau, an industrial suburb on the banks of Ganga. The first issue relates to the chromium dumpings at Rania, Kanpur Dehat and Rakhi Mandi, Kanpur Nagar, which have been in existence since 1976 and contaminating groundwater, adversely affecting their health and depriving the inhabitants of access to drinking water.
Another issue is continuing water pollution by tanneries discharging untreated industrial effluents containing toxic chromium into the irrigation canal through an inadequately functioning effluent treatment plant at Jajmau. The green court notes that, on both issues, some progress has been achieved, but chromium dump remains, and effluent continues to be let out through drains.
The green court also directed the state pollution body and the Central Pollution Control Board to immediately find out the suitability of setting up of pilot plant model to treat chromium by way of setting up a filtration process and application of biotechnology to remove chromium as being done at other places for removal of arsenic/fluoride within three months. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/pollution/news/2022-09-30-ngt-orders-closing-tanneries-in-up-until-measures-taken-to-clean (30 Sept. 2022)
“The problem is still persisting in absence of adequate action on the part of the State authorities which calls for remedial action in mission mode, including fixing of responsibility of the erring officers for such continuing failure,” the bench said. The bench then said that further action had to be taken expeditiously and a report about the compliance status as on January 31, 2023, be filed before February 15, 2023. The green panel was hearing a matter about the water pollution by tanneries in Kanpur discharging untreated industrial effluents in river Ganga. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/ganga-pollution-ngt-asks-up-authorities-to-take-remedial-action-in-mission-mode-news-226757 (29 Sept. 2022)
Venkatesh Dutta narrates the experience of traveling 960 km over ten days along Gomti river from its origin in Philiphit to the point in Gazipur where Gomti confluences with Ganga in the spring of 2011. The Gomti is one of eight major perennial rivers — the others being the Ganga, Yamuna, Ramganga, Ghaghra, Rapti, Gandak and Sone. https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/cover-story/on-the-trail-of-the-gomti/ (28 Sept. 2022)
Uttarakhand NGT asks panel to inspect river pollution allegedly caused by ashram NGT has directed a joint committee to look into a plea alleging pollution in Bhagirathi river caused by an ashram engaging in the commercial manufacture of soap. In the plea, applicant Madan Singh Gusain said that Arya Vihar Ashram, situated on the banks of the river and running the soap manufacturing unit, is discharging untreated effluent in Eco-Sensitive Zone. It has no Environmental Clearance or consent from the competent statutory regulators under the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the applicant alleged.
The NGT bench comprising Judicial Member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Expert Member A. Senthil Vel noted that a committee need to check the issue. “In our view, a substantial question relating to environment arising from the enactments scheduled in NGT Act, 2010 has arisen. We, however, find it appropriate to first obtain a factual report for which purpose we constitute a joint Committee comprising Uttarakhand State PCB and District Magistrate, Uttarkashi who shall visit the premises and submit a joint report within one month,” the recent order said. The matter will be further heard on November 10. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1005541 (01 Oct. 2022)
West Bengal “Course Of River Should Not Be Changed By Anyone”: SC The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice J.B. Pardiwala transferred a petition concerning diversion of the flow of a river in West Bengal to the Calcutta High Court and directed the Calcutta High court registry to list the matter before an appropriate bench. The petitioner in the case was a public spirited citizen who stated that the respondent, by cutting the embankment of a river was trying to divert the flow of the river for private gain and in the process, putting the entirety of the population from the surrounding villages to prejudice. CJI Lalit remarked that the petitioner was right in stating that the course of the river should not be changed by anyone and that a reportable judgement in the M.C. Mehta v. Kamal Nath had held the same, however, the same issues could be raised before the Calcutta High Court through a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/course-of-river-should-not-be-changed-by-anyone-supreme-court-asks-calcutta-hc-to-take-up-plea-concerning-river-210727 (01 Oct. 2022)
NMCG 14 projects worth ₹1145 cr approved The decision was taken at the 45th meeting of the executive committee under the chairmanship of director general G. Ashok Kumar, the Ministry of Jal Shakti said in a statement. These include 8 projects of sewerage management in five main stem Ganga basin states – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.
For sewerage management, 4 projects in Uttar Pradesh were approved including tapping of Assi drain in Varanasi by constructing a 55 MLD STP and other works costing Rs. 308.09 crore. The project was sanctioned with the objective of achieving zero untreated discharge from three drains – Assi, Sanme ghat and Nakhha. Other projects include construction of 13 MLD STP, renovation of existing structures etc. in Vrindavan City costing Rs. 77.70 crore, construction of 12 MLD STP, laying of interception and diversion (I&D) network etc. in Kosi Kalan town in Mathura district costing Rs. 66.59 crore and 6 MLD STP, laying of I&D network etc. in Chhata town in Mathura district. All the above projects are inclusive of Operation and Maintenance of the assets for 15 years.
One project each of sewerage management has also been approved for Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand including construction of 2 STPs (17 MLD and 23 MLD) including necessary ancillary infrastructures, SCADA and online monitoring system etc. in Ramgarh town, Jharkhand costing Rs. 284.80 crore, construction of 50 MLD STP, renovation of existing structures etc. in Keorapukur, West Bengal costing Rs. 67.06 crore.
The project in Bihar at an estimated cost of 47.39 crore consists of 2 STPs (2.5 MLD on River Harbora and 4.5 MLD on Belwa Sathi canal), I&D networks, intake wells etc. A project for construction of 13 MLD STP and other works was also approved in Sapera Basti, Dehradun, Uttarakhand costing Rs. 74.38 crore. This project will stop the untreated sewage from flowing into River Sushwa.
A big project for establishment of four Biodiversity Parks in four districts of Uttar Pradesh – Hapur, Bulandshahar, Badaun and Mirzapur – has also been approved at an estimated cost of Rs. 24.97 crore. Under the Afforestation component, a project at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.56 crore was approved for the State of Jharkhand. For River Front Development, a ghat development project in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh was also approved at an estimated cost of Rs. 5.07 crore.. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/national-mission-for-clean-ganga-approves-14-projects-worth-rs-1145-crore-11664609769623.html (01 Oct. 2022)
YAMUNA Delhi Govt to Connect All Unauthorised Colonies with Sewer System to Prevent Yamuna River Pollution https://www.news18.com/news/india/delhi-govt-to-connect-all-unauthorised-colonies-with-sewer-system-to-prevent-yamuna-river-pollution-6083041.html (02 Oct. 2022)
Uttar Pradesh Hindon river top among polluted rivers of India https://www.navjivanindia.com/news/the-hindon-river-ranks-first-in-the-list-of-the-most-polluted-rivers-of-the-country-the-possibility-of-survival-of-the-aquatic-organism-is-negligible (26 Sept. 2022)
Tamil Nadu Pollution along rivers in Nilgiris could pose threats to otters With anthropogenic pressures on the rise in riverine ecosystems in the Nilgiris, researchers and conservationists have called on the state forest department to increase restrictions that will safeguard the populations of two species of river otters in the district.
According to K. Narasimmarajan, a wildlife biologist and associate with the zoology department at the Madras Christian College (MCC), Chennai, the smooth-coated otters prefer perennial rivers like the Moyar as part of their habitat, while the Asian small-clawed otters, which is the smallest species of otter in the world, inhabits smaller streams further up the Nilgiri slopes. Due to the elusive nature of the animals, the population health of the two species, which are key indicators of the health of the rivers which they inhabit, remains extremely difficult to understand, state researchers. Mr. Narasimmarajan said that threats such as hydroelectric dams, which arbitrarily alter water flows along rivers have always been a significant factor that researchers believe could affect the population of the two species. “However, in the recent past, pollution of the rivers with the usage of chemical pesticides used by farmers, as well as effluents from a Laundromat located near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), could potentially exacerbate such pressures on the existing population,” said Mr. Narasimmarajan, who studied otters in the Nilgiris between 2015 and 2017. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/pollution-along-river-systems-in-the-nilgiris-could-pose-threats-to-otters-warn-researchers/article65861123.ece (07 Sept. 2022)
Madhya Pradesh Mahseer fish Facing Existential Threat The existence of Mahseer fish, popularly known as the tiger of freshwater, is under threat following increasing hindrances in the Narmada river’s natural flow after the construction of various dams on it, a conservation expert said on Sunday (Sept. 25). Taking cognisance of it, the government has announced that it is going to start a campaign from next month to save the endangered Mahseer fish species.
Dr Shriparna Saxena, an aquaculture expert working in coordination with the forest department for two decades for the conservation of Mahseer, told PTI that a survey conducted in 1964 had showed there used to be 25 Mahseer out of every 100 fish in the Narmada river. But due to the construction of many dams across the Narmada river and its tributaries and human intervention, the number of Mahseer in the Narmada has now decreased to less than one per cent, she claimed. “Fishermen living on the Narmada river banks say if lucky, they are able to spot a Mahseer once in six months,” she informed.
“We had found a five-feet four-inch long Mahseer weighing 17 kg in the river at Khalghat in Dhar district in 2017. We have not seen such a big fish till date,” the expert said. Asked about the Mahseer fish facing existential crisis following the construction of reservoirs, MP Fishermen Welfare and Fisheries Development Department’s principal secretary Kalpana Shrivastava said “dams are also necessary like Mahaseer.” https://www.outlookindia.com/national/mp-mahseer-fish-facing-existential-threat-state-to-start-conservation-campaign-from-next-month-news-225737 (25 Sept. 2022)
Uttarakhand NGT notice to govt over arbitrary classification of rivers Tribunal has issued notice on Sept 27, 2022 to state government seeking its response within 4 weeks on how and under what law the classification of perennial and non-perennial rivers in the state has been changed. Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, appearing for petitioner Sanjay Kumar, argued before a four-judge bench headed by Chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel that the state government has unconstitutionally amended the law of river mining to benefit the mining lobby. The standard of retail dumping from the river bed has been reduced from 500 metres to 25 metres, which will encourage illegal mining.
– The petition also said that the government has changed rules in favour of stone crushers, screening plants and ready-mix plants among others to unfairly benefit them and thus failed to maintain the hydrological, ecological and biological quality of non-perennial rivers of the state. The said circumstances not only violate the Environment Protection Act, Water Act etc but also cause damage to non-perennial rivers of the state, hence the said rules need to be quashed, the plea said.
– Further, the petitioner has also alleged that the state government has also barred forest officials from collecting transit charges and the said act of preventing forest officials from performing their duty is in violation of the provisions of the Indian Forest Act. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/sep/29/ngt-notice-to-uttarakhand-overarbitrary-classification-of-rivers-2503081.html (29 Sept. 2022)
Bihar 4 shot dead in gang war over illegal sand mining in rural Patna Four people were killed and several others injured in a shoot-out between two rivals gangs involved in illegal sand mining on the bank of river Sone near Patna on Thursday (Sept. 29), police said. According to police, more than 500 empty cartridges were recovered from the shoot-out site at Amnabad-Katesar village, which falls under Bihta police station limits, and the bodies were either thrown in the river or dumped in sand.
However, Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manavjit Singh Dhillon told HT that no bodies have been found so far and that a search operation has been initiated. According to police, a war of supremacy is going on between two gangs who are active in the riverine areas of rural Patna. A senior official of police headquarters said that an additional police force, including BSAP and a team of Special Task Force (STF), has been dispatched to Bihta for a crackdown on the two rival gangs. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/4-shot-dead-in-gang-war-over-illegal-sand-mining-in-rural-patna-101664470595923.html (29 Sept. 2022)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
“Looking Back at My Guru “Professor Brij Gopal”: An Extraordinary Wetland Ecologist” by Somnath Bandyopadhyay, lead article in Feb 2022 (Vol 48 issue 1) issue of International Journal of Ecology and Env Sciences https://www.nieindia.org/Journal/index.php/ijees/issue/view/79
Tamil Nadu Can a price tag on the wetlands of Chennai spur restoration efforts? Wetlands in Chennai provide more than just a living to the local folks. They are home to different flora and fauna, in addition to making the area flood-resilient. They also play a part in recreation and bear cultural significance. Therefore, researchers have tried to put a price tag on all these services that the wetlands provide, and estimate the loss caused due to pollution and degradation with a view to accelerating restoration efforts.
Putting a price tag on the wetlands can definitely bring accountability to the existing restoration efforts and serve as an eye-opener about the economic loss caused due to encroachments, pollution and other harmful causes of wetland degradation. However, as the experts point out, improvement initiatives for the wetlands must involve the local communities. This will ensure the survival of the people as well as the wetlands of Chennai. https://chennai.citizenmatters.in/economic-value-wetland-pulicat-velachery-lake-pallikaranai-environment-chennai-50337 (03 Oct. 2022)
Maharashtra MoEF nominates noted scientist to monitor Panje wetland Environment ministry nominated Prof Sanjay Deshmukh, Department of Life Sciences, University of Mumbai, for the joint committee as mandated by the NGT’s Western Zonal bench in February this year. This follows an RTI application filed in May by NatConnect Foundation for information on the committee’s status and reminders to the ministry to comply with the NGT order. Union Environment secretary Manju Pandey too intervened and asked the officials to act quickly.
Confirming the wetland status of the intertidal area of Panje, the NGT ruled in February that a joint Committee of nominees of National Wetland Committee, State Wetland Authority, Maharashtra, MCZMA and Raigad District Collector needs to take all necessary steps for the “protection, conservation and management of the wetland” in question.
The joint Committee will be free to permit any protective measures during monsoon to prevent flooding, the NGT said and clarified that there is no bar to de-silting, subject to necessary approvals of the statutory authorities without adversely affecting the mangroves and the tidal flow.
The 289-hectare wetland stretching from Panje to Dongari villages has been allotted to Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone (NMSEZ) and City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has even marked it as Sectors 16 to 28 as part of the Dronagiri Development Plan which the environmentalists have vehemently opposed. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/navi-mumbai-union-environment-ministry-nominates-noted-scientist-to-monitor-panje-wetland (29 Sept. 2022)
Tamil Nadu Remove aqua hatcheries operating in prohibited zones The NGT on Friday (Sept. 30) directed the Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA) to remove all aquaculture hatcheries in prohibited zones (which is up to 200 meters from the high tide line), initiate prosecution and impose compensation for past violations. The NGT bench of judicial member justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member K Satyagopal delivered this landmark judgement in a suo moto case registered based on a 2021 TNIE article. It directed the CAA to undertake a detailed survey of all aquaculture hatcheries along the coastline of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and ensure compliance of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011.
According to Section 13(8) of the CAA Act, 2005, aquaculture facilities are prohibited within 200m from the ‘High Tide Line’, which is consistent with CRZ notification where it is declared a ‘No Development Zone’. Any operations beyond the 200m requires clearance by CAA, and under the CRZ notification. To date, hatcheries had been established in the CRZ area and many were operating within prohibited intertidal waters without prior clearance, as found by the Joint Committee appointed by NGT. After the judgement, hatcheries can’t be located within 200m from the high tide line or in CRZ-I areas.
Hatcheries were kept out of the CRZ norms as the CAA argued that aquaculture was a permissible activity, needing waterfront and doesn’t fall in the ambit of the notification. There was a SC ruling in S Jagannath Vs Union of India, which said no shrimp culture pond can be constructed within the CRZ area. To nullify the judgment, a separate section was inserted in the CAA Act, 2005 and hatcheries were given a free run. No hatcheries are issued with consent to establish operation by CZMA or Pollution Control Board of the State governments. The CZMA said they do not come under its purview, the view which NGT struck down. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/oct/01/remove-aqua-hatcheries-operating-in-prohibited-zones-ngt-tells-tamil-nadu-2503749.html (01 Oct. 2022)
Andhra Pradesh Minister calls for efforts to protect 30,000 acres of wetlands in the State Minister for Environment and Forests Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy said Andhra Pradesh was home to 30,000 acres of wetlands as per a survey done by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate, and exhorted the AP Wetland Board to take all steps to conserve the rich variety of flora and fauna flourishing in those lands.
Addressing the maiden meeting of the AP Wetland Board at the Secretariat on Wednesday (Sept. 28), Mr. Ramachandra Reddy said the wetlands were encroached to some extent by farmers while fish ponds devoured the Kolleru lake from the 5th to 2nd contours. A committee was being constituted to submit a preliminary report on these encroachments in a couple of months. A fine balance should be maintained in protecting the fragile ecosystem of wetlands and the livelihood issues of people settled in those areas, he exhorted the officials. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/minister-calls-for-efforts-to-protect-30000-acres-of-wetlands-in-the-state/article65947294.ece (28 Sept. 2022)
Haryana Treated water to be used for irrigation: CM Stating there are over 8,000 overflowing ponds in the rural areas out of the total 18,000 ponds in Haryana, CM Manohar Lal Khattar Friday (Sept. 30) said after treating the water of such ponds it can be used for irrigation and added the schemes for micro-irrigation were being prepared.
“The use of treated wastewater from the pond will be made mandatory for micro-irrigation in the area near the pond. For this, the Irrigation and Water Resources Department, Development and Panchayat Department and Micro Irrigation and Command Area Development Authority (MICADA) are working together to prepare the blueprint,” Khattar said. MICADA administrator Satbir Singh Kadian said the work to rejuvenate 50 overflowing ponds has been completed while a process has been initiated for several other ponds.
NGT chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, who also attended the annual conference in Panchkula on implementation of the District Environment Plan as special guest, speaking on the occasion showered praises on the Chief Minister for taking environmental protection initiatives. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/overflowing-ponds-rural-areas-treated-irrigation-haryana-cm-khattar-8184028/ (01 Oct. 2022)
Madhaya Pradesh ASI discovers 9th century treasures after 85 years in Bandhavgarh The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), after a gap of nearly 85 years, has resumed exploration and documentation work of ancient caves, temples, remains of Buddhist structures, and statues of Vishnu Dashavataras in the Bandhavgarh reserve forest area of Madhya Pradesh.
The last time such an exploration took place was in 1938, when the exercise was led by ASI archaeologist N P Chakravarti. Reports suggest that in course of the exploration, more than 26 temples, 2 monasteries, 26 caves, 2 votive stupas, 46 sculptures, 24 inscriptions as well as other scattered remains and 19 water structures were also recorded. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/travel-news/asi-discovers-9th-century-treasures-after-85-years-in-bandhavgarh-madhya-pradesh/articleshow/94569271.cms (01 Oct. 2022)
Centre JALDOOT App launched: to enable monitoring of ground water tables across the country Union Minister of State for Rural Development and Steel, Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste launched the “JALDOOT App and JALDOOT App e-brochure” at a function in New Delhi today, in the presence of Union Minister of State for Rural Development, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Union Minister of State for Panchayati Raj, Shri Kapil Moreshwar Patil. Secretary, Department of Rural Development, Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Shri Sunil Kumar and senior officers from the Ministry were also present on this occasion. Representatives from all States/UTs were also present through Video-Conferencing. JALDOOT app has been jointly developed by Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. This app will be used across the country to capture the water level of selected 2-3 wells in a village. Manual monitoring of water levels in open wells will be measured twice in a year, from 1st May to 31st May as pre-monsoon water level and from 1st October to 31st October for post-monsoon level for the same well. Jaldoots, that is, officers assigned to measure the water levels, should also upload the geo-tagged photographs through the app on every occasion of measurement. A resource book for grass root level functionaries- Jaldoot can be accessed at http://cgwb.gov.in (JalDootRsourceBook.pdf). https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1862606 (27 Sept. 2022)
Government app Jaldoot to capture data on ground water tables. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-app-jaldoot-to-capture-data-on-ground-water-tables/article65942349.ece (27 Sept. 2022)
Telangana State now consumes only 42% of its groundwater In a heartening development, groundwater exploitation has reduced from 50 per cent to 42 per cent in the State. As much as 83 per cent of mandals in the state fall under the safe category. The total annual extractable groundwater resources are 19,251 million cubic meters (mcm) and groundwater extraction for all uses is 8009 mcm. Overall, the groundwater extraction came down by 29 per cent since the formation of the State. There is an improvement in groundwater quality as the concentration of total dissolved solids, fluoride and nitrate decreased considerably, according to Telangana Ground Water Department.
The department developed an online application for permissions for new borewells for various purposes under ease of doing Business (EODB) through the TS-i-PASS website (http://ipass.telangana.gov.in) with the help of the Commissioner of Industries and Commissioner of Rural Development Department. The average groundwater levels in the state are analysed with respect to rainfall after the formation of Telangana state. The average pre-monsoon (May) groundwater level in the state during 2015 is 13.27 metres below ground level (m bgl) and 9.01 m bgl during 2022 and thus showing a rise of 4.26 metres in the last seven years. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2022/oct/02/telangananow-consumes-only-42-of-its-groundwater-most-areas-marked-safe-2504074.html (02 Oct. 2022)
Punjab Groundwater level dips, farmers go in for robust pumps The alarming depletion of groundwater in the state has forced farmers to increase the power load of their agricultural pump sets. The situation has reached a critical juncture in 12 districts, so much so that farmers are bearing huge expenses on installing tubewells. According to the data of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), 1.84 lakh farmers have increased the load of their motors in the past four and a half months since the state government reduced the charges for increasing the power load. The load has increased by 7.49 lakh brake horsepower (BHP).
CM Bhagwant Mann had, on June 9, announced a reduction in the fee for increasing the load. It was reduced from Rs 4,750 to Rs 2,500. More than 51,359 farmers in seven districts of the western zone have increased the load of motors by 2.24 lakh BHP.
At 17,245, Bathinda and Mansa districts have seen the highest number of farmers getting their load increased. They have increased their load by 81,802 BHP. In all, 15,383 farmers in Barnala and Malerkotla districts have increased the load by 70,964 BHP. In Tarn Taran, 19,603 farmers increased the load by 76,785 BHP. There are about 14 lakh agricultural motors in Punjab. As soon as the government had reduced the fee, farmers started submitting applications for increasing the load of their pump sets. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/groundwater-level-dips-punjab-farmers-go-in-for-robust-pumps-433688 (21 Sept. 2022)
Bengaluru Faecal coliform plagues BWSSB’s treated water Documents showed that many quality checks done by the KSPCB at 1.5 MLD Lalbagh tertiary treatment plant since 2017 have shown the treated water to be of substandard level. One main issue is the presence of faecal coliform, way beyond acceptable levels—12,000 and 490 in two cases, while the acceptable limit for D category use (wildlife and fisheries) is less than 100. In a tertiary treatment plant, it should be ideally zero.
KSPCB officials privately admit that no sewage treatment plant in Bengaluru is capable of producing potable water, though BWSSB produces 90 MLD of it. Documents show that despite being served notices by KSPCB, the situation in Lalbagh tertiary treatment plant did not improve. Yet, the KSPCB extended the consent for it to operate in June 2022.
“Shutting down STPs is just a matter of one order,” says a source at KSPCB, explaining the complications of doing so. “What’s the alternative? We know BWSSB has been lax in maintaining the quality of treated water. But if we shut it down, whatever that’s treated will also remain untreated. That will be a bigger mess,” says the source. In effect, if the BWSSB does not take enough care to ensure quality, no other government body including the KSPCB can do anything to fix the issue.
Data for 8 of the STPs are absent from BWSSB real-time water quality monitoring system website. More importantly, faecal coliform data is totally absent from the dashboard. Bengaluru has more than 3,000 apartments that have STPs. KSPCB sources say the staff shortage at the board made sure they could not inspect private apartments often. This means that apartments are completely on their own to ensure the quality of treated water in their STPs, with no serious oversight. https://www.deccanherald.com/specials/point-blank/faecal-coliform-plagues-bwssb-s-treated-water-1149780.html (01 Oct. 2022)
Chandigarh Rs 512 crore loan for 24×7 water supply A city that is already drawing more than the mandated national norm is looking at 24×7 water supply. Although Chandigarh has received Rs 512 crore — Rs 412 crore as loan from the French government and Rs 100 crore as grant-in-aid from EU — for the 24X7 water supply project, residents fear financial burden will be transferred to them and they will be paying higher bills. Chandigarh requires more of rationing of the available water supply than the 24X7 service.
Earlier, when a representation was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office about why Chandigarh required this 24X7 water supply when it was already using excess water, the Chandigarh Smart City Limited had stated that the project aims to increase saving/minimise wastage of water as there will be no storage of water by the public. According to the Smart City Limited, 24×7 supply delivers better quality water for public health. Also, 24×7 supply gives better service to all consumers as there is access to clean water with improved quality and quantity, timing and pressure, it was stated. The Chandigarh Smart City Limited said that with this 24×7 supply, they aim to “revolutionise service to the poor”.
For the much talked-about project, Chandigarh had been seeking a loan of Rs 412 crore which they would repay within time. The residents, however, felt that the loan would be a burden on residents as it is they who will have to shell out more water tariff for the 24X7 water supply. The residents maintain that the city is already drawing more than the mandated national norm. Their question is: “But do we really need continuous water supply even when the consumption is already high?”
Officials stated that the loan is to be repaid in 15 years with a six-year moratorium period. The amount will be repaid through water bills that is to be paid by residents. Rates will be increased after a few years. The total cost of the project is Rs 590 cr. As water tariff was recently hiked, residents stated that the hiked water tariffs would be a routine now. For, the loan has been taken from the French agency AFD and would have to be repaid. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/chandigarh-gets-rs-512-crore-loan-for-24×7-water-supply-but-residents-fear-higher-bills-8186651/ (03 Oct. 2022)
Gurugram NGT asks govt to pay Rs 100 cr for ecological damage at landfill NGT has directed the Haryana government to pay environmental compensation of Rs 100 crore for the continuing damage the environment has suffered in and around the Aravali forest area of Bandhwari, which the corporation uses as its primary landfill for Gurugram .
The tribunal, which called for a “mission mode approach” to remove the large deposits of legacy waste rotting at the site, also ordered a stop any more municipal waste being deposited at the landfill. It asked the sum to be deposited with the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) within a month. The NGT bench, headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said the money would be used to make alternative arrangements to tackle waste from the Bandhwari plant, including replacing the contractors if they had failed to perform.
The NGT rejected an action plan submitted by the Haryana government on September 22 to tackle the legacy waste problem at Bandhwari and formed a nine-member stocktaking committee. The committee, headed by the HSPCB chairperson, was asked to submit an action-taken report to the NGT by January 15 next year. The NGT order came on two petitions – one by Gurugram resident Poonam Yadav and another by environmentalist Vivek Kamboj – alleging the government’s failure in handling legacy waste at the dumpsite and its effect on the public health and environment. The Bandhwari landfill has around 33 lakh tonnes of waste, which forms a mound that rises to a height of 38 metres (125 feet).
The NGT heard the petitions on September 23 and the order was released on Tuesday. The next hearing is on January 30. The 10 acres at Bandhwari that would be cleared of solid waste in the future could be used for setting up waste processing facilities, the order said. In the case of non-suitability of land, alternative arrangements should be explored, it further stated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/ngt-asks-haryana-to-pay-rs-100-crore-for-ecological-damage-at-landfill/articleshow/94491795.cms (28 Sept. 2022)
As the 38m-high mountain of waste at Bandhwari landfill haunts the region, an MCG plan to set up an alternative waste processing site at Basai is giving residents nightmares. Ecogreen, the firm assigned by MCG to manage waste, will get a five-acre land in Basai for the work. Residents, however, pointed out that the Basai site will force people within a one-mile radius to live with the foul stench of garbage and other problems, including leachate percolation and groundwater contamination, like in Bandhwari.
Experts pointed out that the city does not have a waste management plant and faces waste segregation and recycling issues. Gurugram generates nearly 1,100 tonnes of waste per day. The solid waste generation in 2041 is likely to reach 2,900 metric tonnes per day. Currently, waste management constitutes only the collection and transportation of waste, with tonnes dumped at landfill sites and several areas in the city. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/gurugram-is-basai-plan-viable-leachate-threat-more-at-site/articleshow/94520088.cms (29 Sept. 2022)
No water, power and sewage connections in around 2500 EWS flats in Gurugram; town planning dept summons seven developers. https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/no-water-power-and-sewage-connections-in-around-2500-ews-flats-in-gurugram-town-planning-dept-summons-seven-developers-article-94564815 (30 Sept. 2022)
Delhi Poisoned groundwater near Bhalswa landfill
Lead up to 50 times the acceptable limit, cadmium up to seven times — an analysis of groundwater near Bhalswa landfill by The Indian Express has thrown up findings that raise concerns for those living there. https://indianexpress.com/article/express-exclusive/express-investigation-in-groundwater-near-a-delhi-landfill-heavy-metals-like-lead-and-cadmium-8186569/ (03 Oct. 2022)
Manthan Study Loss of 17.6 billion Units of power generation due to flyash related shut downs in Indian thermal power plants between April 2019 and March 2022:- Between April 2019 and March 2022, coal based thermal power plants in the country faced a loss of power generation of 17625.46 Million Units (MU) due to ash related issues (calculated at an assumed 80% PLF). 17 units were shut for over a month at a time during these years, some of them being closed repeatedly, and 5 units were shut for more than 100 days at a time.
The ash pond breaches of Bokaro TPS (September 2019) and Kahalgaon TPS (November 2020) are listed as part of the highlights above because, on the dates of their occurrence, the respective DGRs also showed these plants as closed due to ‘ash handling system problems.’ However, it is to be noted that this may not always be the case. Anecdotal evidence and media reports suggest that plants are not always shut down in the event of ash related accidents (such as pond breaches, pipeline leaks, deliberate discharge of ash slurry), and so, not all ash related accidents are reflected in the DGRs.
For instance, the ash pond of MAHAGENCO’s Koradi Thermal Power Station in Maharashtra breached on 16th July 2022. At least three villages were flooded by ash slurry. The ash even mixed with the water of the Kanhan and Kolar rivers. The DGRs of 15th – 20th July 2022 however, do not make note of any unit shut downs due to ash issues (or any other reasons). Only one unit of the plant is reported as shut since 4 th July due to ‘overhauling works.’ Similarly, there was a large scale flyash slurry leak from MAHAGENCO’s Khaparkheda Thermal Power Station ash pond in Maharashtra on 6th and 7th July 2022. There is no reflection of this in DGRs from 4th to 8th July 2022. Instances when the ash slurry pipelines of some thermal power plants have burst and leaked slurry into surroundings also do not always entail a unit shut down, and do not reflect in the DGRs. https://www.manthan-india.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/DGR-Ash-Note-September-2022.pdf
Gujarat 3 power plants dumping fly ash without GPCB approval: CAG report Three thermal power plants operated by Torrent Power, Adani Power and Tata Power dumped fly-ash (a by-product generated from coal burnt in a thermal plant) in low-lying areas without permission from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), stated a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) tabled in Gujarat Assembly Thursday (Sept. 22). The audit watchdog also pulled up GPCB for not taking any stringent action against the private electricity producers for dumping fly ash—a major pollutant that contains toxic and heavy metals. The dumping was carried out between 2014 and 2019 in contravention to the regulations of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
In the report titled “Performance Audit of Air Pollution Control by Government of Gujarat”, CAG pointed out that between 2014 and 2019, Torrent Power Ltd, Ahmedabad dumped 1.92 lakh metric tonnes of fly ash at four different sites, including farmlands near Gandhinagar city and Sabarmati riverbanks with the consent of the landowners. “After being pointed out in audit, GPCB monitored these four sites in September 2019 and observed that at one of these sites, fly ash was dumped in adjoining land towards the riverbank without a protection wall and ash spread towards the riverbank due to rain. At two other sites, fly ash was dumped for levelling land. The remaining site was surrounded by residential and commercial areas and the dumped ash was not covered and levelled,” CAG pointed out adding that GPCB issued a show-cause notice only in January 2020 and no action was taken against the company till June 2021. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/gujarat-fly-ash-gpcb-cag-report-8168150/ (23 Sept. 2022)
JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY
Report More than 50% of rural households are reported to have functional household tapwater connections under the JJM. But does this translate into availability of water for the rural poor? (By Shreehari Paliath, Geeta Devi, Meera Devi, 26 Sept 2022) https://www.indiaspend.com/governance/few-taps-in-banda-taps-but-not-enough-water-in-baghpat-up-shows-where-the-jal-jeevan-mission-is-faltering-836208 (26 Sept. 2022)
SANDRP Blog SW Monsoon 2022: District wise rainfall in India In the just concluded South West Monsoon 2022, India received 925 mm rainfall, about 106.5% of the Normal SW Monsoon rainfall of 868.6 mm or 6.5% more than the normal SW Monsoon rainfall as per India Meteorological department. This rainfall will now be categorised as normal rainfall though the distribution has been far from normal, both temporally and spatially. The monsoon withdrawal, however is yet to happen from most of India, except a small part in North West India including parts of Rajasthan and Haryana. IMD has predicted that the withdrawal of monsoon will not be completed till at least Oct 15 as due to a fresh cyclonic activity in Bay of Bengal, rainfall over MP and UP is likely to continue in first week of Oct 2022. https://sandrp.in/2022/10/01/sw-monsoon-2022-district-wise-rainfall-in-india/ (01 Oct. 2022)
High Rainfall days in India’s districts in Sept 2022 An analysis of the daily district wise rainfall data from IMD for the month of September 2022, the last month of India’s South West Monsoon 2021 shows that there were 417 (489 in Sept 2021 instances when district rainfall of a day was above 50 mm. Such high rainfall instances included 365 (374 in Sept 2021) instances when rainfall was 50-100 mm, 47 (84 in Sept 2021) instances when it was 100-150 mm, 3 (20 in Sept 2021) times it was 150-200 mm and twice (eleven in Sept 2021) times above 200 mm.
Out of 703 districts of India, 285 districts or about 40.5% of the districts experienced such high rainfall in Sept 2022, many districts had more than one such high rainfall days. The highest number of such instances were seen in Uttar Pradesh, where for the 75 districts (only 47 of them saw such instances) there were 68 instances when rainfall was above 50 mm. Maharashtra was second with 34 instances involving 18 of state’s 36 districts. https://sandrp.in/2022/10/02/high-rainfall-days-in-indias-districts-in-sept-2022/ (02 Oct. 2022)
Report Shifting monsoon patterns This year the monsoon is already in surplus by about 6% and a vigorous September is likely to see India post yet another year of surplus rain. Three years of above normal rain in a block of four years is unprecedented in more than a century of IMD’s record keeping, data suggests.
Rains in Central India were surplus by 20% and in southern India by 25%. The east and northeast of India have reported a 17% shortfall and the northwest 2%. This has impacted sowing of the kharif, or summer crop. India is seeing an extended spell of the La Nina, called a ‘triple dip’ La Nina which is a phenomenon lasting across three winter seasons in the northern hemisphere. This, in part, is why India is seeing surplus rain in September. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/shifting-monsoon-patterns/article65935590.ece (25 Sept. 2022)
Haryana Delhi on ‘high flood’ alert as Yamuna river breaches danger mark The water level at the barrage rose to 2,95,912 cusecs between 5 am to 6 am on Monday (Sept. 26). Water flow from 70,000 cusecs to 1.5 lakh cusecs is considered a ‘low flood’ situation, from 1.5 lakh cusecs to 2.5 lakh is considered as ‘medium flood’ and the water flow above 2.5 lakh cusecs is ‘high flood’, officials said. According to RS Mittal, superintendent engineer, irrigation and water resources department, Yamunanagar, this is the highest water flow from the barrage of this monsoon season as the discharge increased after heavy rainfall in the catchment areas. As per figures, the water levels started receding early morning after the discharge and was recorded at 2,13,908 cusecs at 1pm, 2,04,410 cusecs at 2 pm and 1,95,906 cusecs at 4 pm.
Following the discharge, the water is likely to enter low-lying areas of Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat and other districts of Haryana. Moreover, it takes 48 to 72 hours for the water flow to reach Delhi. Mittal said that earlier, the water flow had been recorded at 2,21,786 cusecs on August 11 this year at the barrage. On being asked about water entering villages in Yamunanagar district, he said, “After rise in the water flow, it is likely that water must have entered in local villages, but we are keeping a strict vigil. The water level will gradually decrease and if it won’t, we will install pump sets to do so.”
After the discharge, Yamuna reportedly swelled near Haryana-Uttar Pradesh border and damaged a portion of soil under the Ambala-Saharanpur rail line, following which railway officials from Ambala division rushed to the spot. The railway operations were shut due to the incident, affecting nearly 20 trains on the route, Hari Mohan, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager (Sr.DCM), Ambala, said.
“Many trains bound for Ambala or beyond were diverted via Panipat. The number of trains affected will gradually reduce as we will try to run them through the original route after the restoration work completes which is carried out at full pace by teams from Saharanpur and Ambala,” he added. Gurinder Mohan Singh, divisional railway manager (DRM), Ambala, said, “the incident took place nearly 1.5 kilometers from the river in Shahjahanpur village of Saharanpur district and teams were rushed to the spot immediately to carry out the restoration work.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/haryana-delhi-on-high-flood-alert-as-yamuna-river-breaches-danger-mark-101664222673356.html (27 Sept. 2022)
As per the record of the Irrigation and Water Resources Department, Yamunanagar, the water in the Yamuna river at Hathnikund barrage had been recorded at 8,28,072 cusecs in August 2019, the highest in the past more than 100 years. Executive engineer Vinod Kumar said the water flow from 70,000 cusecs to 1.5 lakh cusecs is considered low flood, from 1.5 lakh cusecs to 2.5 lakh medium flood and the water flow above 2.5 lakh cusecs is considered high flood. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/water-flow-in-yamuna-at-hathnikund-barrage-in-yamunanagar-rises-to-danger-level-435512 (27 Sept. 2022)
River flowing above danger mark It is not uncommon for Yamuna to swell during September. On several occasions in past Yamuna flooded during September including in 1978 when one of the biggest floods was reported in Delhi, and also in 2010. In 1998 Delhi saw Yamuna floods in October close to Diwali. The flood cycle indicates that a major flood may be expected in near future. It is important to keep the floodplain free from encroachments including govt’s riverfront beautification and plantation projects to ensure that floods do not wreck havoc,” said Bhim Singh Rawat, assistant coordinator South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/over-10-000-evacuated-as-yamuna-flows-above-danger-mark-101664303453487.html (28 Sept. 2022)
HFL BREACH 2022
Uttar Pradesh River Yamuna at Bateshwar level monitoring site in Agra district has breached old HFL 131.56 dated 30.09.2021. Present flood level is 131.76 m at 12:00 hour on 01.10.2022 with rising trend.
Uttarakhand River Amlav in Yamuna basin at Kalsi level monitoring site in Dehradun district has breached the HFL (512 m dated 22.08.2022) at 01:00 hour on 29.09.2022 and continues to be in extreme flood situation for past two days. Present flood level is 513.19 m at 10:00 hour on 01.10.2022. CWC has wrongly maintained the HFL 512 m dated 22.08.2022 for the site as the river has attained 512.8 m here on same date and had risen to 512.89 m on 23.08.2022. It has even attained 512.4 m on 11.07.2021.
Gurugram Continuous rain leaves Gurgaon feeling under the weather Visuals of a cab stranded in a waterlogged service lane on the Gurgaon-Delhi expressway, with its driver sitting behind the wheel as rainwater came up to his waist and the passenger sitting helplessly on the roof with his suitcase, encapsulated the deluge as rain continued to lash the NCR for the fourth consecutive day, inundating several areas. A portion of a road caved in, a wall of a house collapsed and a subway was flooded as intermittent rain continued through the day, stopping briefly in the evening.
In the past, similar cave-ins have been reported at the Iffco Chowk, a busy intersection on the highway. In May 2022, a trench dug up to shift a sewer line had led to a cave-in on the service lane of Delhi-Gurgaon expressway near Iffco Chowk after heavy rain, while in August 2020, a sizeable chunk of road at Iffco Chowk had caved in after rain and subsequent waterlogging.
“Because of the slope of the surface drain at Narsinghpur, the rain water used to flow to the culverts before it got scattered, but over time due to habitation and urbanisation, the culverts have been rendered useless. So, when the intensity of rainfall is heavy at this low lying area, it gets flooded,” said an official of GMDA, adding that a partial solution to flooding at the stretch on NH-48 lies in the construction of leg 4 of a 5.5 km storm water drain, which will connect Vatika chowk to railway culvert on SPR, whose tender has been floated.
District administration officials said Gurgaon recorded 59 mm of rainfall between 8 am and 5 pm on Saturday (Sept. 25). In the last two days, over 140 mm rainfall was recorded. One of the heaviest spells in September in the city in the past few years has brought the Millennium City to a standstill as the drainage infrastructure struggles to withstand the intensity of rainfall. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/under-the-weather-delhi-ncr-gurgaon-rainfall-waterlooging-8171095/ (25 Sept. 2022)
140 mm of rainfall brought Millennium City to its knees Behind the mayhem, experts say, is a drainage infrastructure unable to withstand such a high intensity of rainfall. Gurgaon, which is located at foothills of Aravallis, earlier had hundreds of water bodies, lakes and bunds (embankments) in low lying parts, which acted as natural drainage columns by storing water and preventing flooding. Over the years, urbanisation and concretisation has taken place either on top or in the route of natural drains, blocking the natural course of water. According to a report of district administration from 2018, Gurgaon had over 640 water bodies in 1956, which reduced to 251 by 2018. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/why-130-mm-rain-brought-gurgaon-to-knees-8168869/ (24 Sept. 2022)
Traffic congestion and waterlogging were reported from several areas of Gurgaon on Thursday (Sept. 22) after the city received continuous spell of rainfall throughout the day. The Narsingpur-Khandsa stretch of national highway-48 was the worst affected where the service lane was completely submerged and a carriageway was also inundated.
The Indian Express had reported earlier that inadequate drainage infrastructure, rapid urbanization and disappearing water bodies and lakes due to concretization, change in land use patterns, disruption of natural drains, encroachment at stretches along storm water drains and choked drainage lines were major reasons for flooding across the city every year. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/gurgaon-faces-waterlogging-and-traffic-snarls-after-heavy-rainfall-8167253/ (22 Sept. 2022)
A spell of moderate rain for over two hours on Sunday (Aug. 8) morning caused severe waterlogging in many parts of Gurgaon. Several vehicles broke down, pedestrians had to wade through knee-high water, and traffic was hit as water inundated key roads and internal sector areas.
Sewa Ram, an urban transport systems design expert and faculty member at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in Delhi, said, “Over the years, concretisation has taken place either on top or in the route of natural drains, which blocks natural course of water. Many newer sectors and parts of Old Gurgaon along the Dwarka expressway do not have drainage infrastructure. In several areas, drainage lines are choked due to construction debris or encroachment, so they do not have sufficient capacity to carry heavy surface runoff during monsoons. If the drainage network is discontinuous, roads will be submerged with rainwater. The drainage infrastructure has not been designed to withstand a high intensity of rainfall.”
At present, Gurgaon’s rainwater is disposed from three master stormwater drains – leg 1, leg 2 and leg 3 (Badshahpur drain), with Badshahpur drain accounting for over 60% of the drainage network carrying runoff from over 24,000 hectares of land. These master drains collect rainwater and channel it into the Najafgarh drain in Delhi. Experts said Gurgaon, located at foothills of the Aravallis, earlier had hundreds of water bodies, lakes and bunds (embankments) – indigenous structures – in low-lying parts which acted as natural drainage columns by storing water, and prevented flooding.
According to a report from the district administration from 2018, Gurgaon had over 640 water bodies in 1956 which reduced to 251 by 2018. “The natural drains also helped recharge groundwater. With urbanisation and subsequent construction, roads were built over these natural drains. Ghata, Chakkarpur, Nathupur, Kadarpur, Jharsa etc all had natural drains and ponds in villages which acted as recharge zones. Surplus water would flow downstream to many smaller nullahs and prevent waterlogging. All these have been filled up and their water carrying capacity has been reduced due to encroachment or dumping of waste and debris. Moreover, drains are not cleaned or desilted regularly compounding the problem,” said an expert, requesting anonymity.
One of the worst affected stretches during monsoon is the service lane on the Khandsa-Narsinghpur stretch on NH-48 and low-lying areas of Laxman Vihar and Sector 4A. Officials said water accumulates in these areas due to topography, adding that a long-term solution to flooding at the Khandsa stretch lies in the construction of leg 4 of the 5.5-km stormwater drain between Vatika Chowk and NH-48, whose tender has been floated recently. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/gurgaon-rain-waterlogging-several-areas-8076161/ (08 Aug. 2022)
Bengaluru A tale of vanishing lakes and drains that bring the city to its knees during rain Quoting the Indian Institute of Science studies, the CAG report states that the city (covering an area of 741 sq km) had 1,452 water bodies with a total storage capacity of 35 tmcft during the early 1800s. By 2016, the number of water bodies in the same area reduced to 194 with a storage capacity of 5 tmcft. The current storage capacity which has further declined due to silting is merely 1.2 tmcft (2016).
The report made a revelation that 41 and 51 water bodies, which existed in Koramangala and Vrishabhavathi valleys, respectively, as per the cadastral map (prepared through field survey during early 1900s) were reduced to 8 and 13 by the year 2008 indicating the severity of lake conversion. Further, the wetland system (lakes, tanks, kere and katte), which contributed about 479.48 ha (0.75%) and 215.46 ha (2.24%) to the geographical area of the valleys as per the cadastral map decreased to 262.37 ha and 62.05 ha during 2016/2017 indicating erosion due to land use changes. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/what-ails-our-lakes-a-tale-of-vanishing-lakes-and-drains-that-bring-the-city-to-its-knees-during-rain/article65937389.ece/amp/ (28 Sept. 2022)
Chennai 130 km drains ready, Chennai’s bracing for NE monsoon on a war footing https://theprint.in/india/ghost-of-floods-past-130-km-drains-ready-chennais-bracing-for-ne-monsoon-on-a-war-footing/1143393/ (27 Sept. 2022)
Delhi According to data from the IMD, Delhi received 46.2 mm of rainfall between the morning of September 22 and the morning of September 23. This is more than 10 times its normal rainfall of 4.1 mm. The rains have also led to flooding in many areas. The districts of South Delhi and East Delhi were worst hit, with 106.2 mm and 75 mm rains respectively. South West Delhi got 2,044 per cent excess rains. But the rainfall did not just affect Delhi. Gurugram, received 92.6 mm of rainfall which is an excess of 2,887 per cent whereas Faridabad received the maximum rainfall of 110.7 mm, an excess of almost 2,000 per cent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf-3kGlapvI (26 Sept. 2022)
India Drought Monitor:-Drought in the Indo-Gangetic plain has improved due to recent rainfall in UP and Bihar. Overall deficit remains primarily due to less rainfall in June and July.
Uttarakhand Kedarnath hit by second avalanche in 2 weeks After heavy overnight showers in Kedarnath and adjoining areas, an avalanche occurred in the region early Saturday (Oct. 2) morning. There was no damage to the Kedarnath temple and the Char Dham yatra was not interrupted either. This is the second avalanche in a fortnight in the Kedarnath region. Experts will be heading to the area on October 3 to look into the reasons for frequent avalanches in the area. On September 22, an avalanche had occurred in the catchment area of Chorabari glacier, around 5 km from Kedarnath. No damage was reported.
Taking into account the two incidents, the USDMA has formed a committee for a survey and ground study. The committee has been directed to conduct a survey and ground inspection at the earliest and submit its report. A team of two glaciologists will also visit Kedarnath on October 3, said Kalachand Sain, director, WIHG. “It seems that it is a powder avalanche that would do more good to the Himalayas than otherwise. The phenomenon of avalanches is normal and rather good for nature. Powder avalanches are known to replenish existing glaciers,” Manish Mehta, glaciologist at WIHG, told TOI. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/kedarnath-hit-by-second-avalanche-in-two-weeks-experts-to-hunt-for-clues/articleshow/94592159.cms (02 Oct. 2022)
Nepal Fresh avalanche hits Manaslu base camp Manaslu Base has been hit by another avalanche in a span of a few days. The eighth-highest mountain in the world, Manaslu is among favourite destinations for ski mountaineers who arrive from across the globe to scale the peak. In a fresh incident on Sunday, an avalanche hit the base camp, a week after the previous incident claimed two lives, among them being Hilaree Nelson- a famous US-based ski mountaineer. The previous incident – which took place on September 26 – had claimed two lives while over a dozen people were injured, including an Indian, after an avalanche ripped through just below camp 4. https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/video-fresh-avalanche-hits-nepal-s-manaslu-base-camp-a-week-after-snow-storm-claims-2-lives-101664696406729.html (02 Oct. 2022)
Landslides in 1960s Among the list of major landslides of 1960s put together by Dave Petley, there is one from India: “The October 1968 Darjeeling landslides. It is estimated that heavy rainfall triggered over 20,000 landslides, killing thousands of people.” https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2022/09/30/1960s-landslide-disasters/ (30 Sept. 2022)
Himachal Pradesh 5 of family killed in landslide in Sirmaur Five members of a family were killed while another was seriously injured after their house collapsed due to landslide following heavy rainfall at Khijwari village under Raast Panchayat in Ronhat area in Sirmaur district during wee hours on Monday. Apple orchards in Koti panchatyat of Ronhat area have also suffered extensive damage due to landslides and heavy rains. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/himachal-pradesh-five-of-family-killed-in-landslide-in-sirmaur-district/articleshow/94449443.cms (26 Sept. 2022)
The rain-related incidents have claimed 384 lives while 711 persons have been injured. The state has suffered a loss to the tune of Rs 2,097 crore during the ongoing monsoon season. As many as 81 road accidents, 69 flash floods 87 landslides and 14 cloudbursts have been reported so far. About 181 houses were completely damaged while 864 were partially damaged and loss to private property was estimated at Rs 22.8 crore. The Public Works Department has suffered a loss of Rs 989 crore followed by the Jal Shakti Vibhag (Rs 919 crore) and the electricity department (Rs 36.4 crore.) As many as 38 roads were still closed and 460 transformers were damaged. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/downpour-triggers-landslips-flash-floods-in-sirmaur-chamba-435333 (25 Sept. 2022)
A major landslide hit a water pump house at Chaba near Sunni tehsil of Shimla district following intermittent rain, damaging property worth Rs 5 crore. The pump house lifts water from the Sutlej and supplies it to the Gumma pumping house from where the water is supplied to Shimla through a pipeline. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/landslide-damages-water-pump-in-shimla-435029 (25 Sept. 2022)
Uttarakhand साहिया मैं बादल फटने से अमलावा नदी से साहिया छानी एवं साहिया बाजार में भारी नुकसान https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc69iaEAbSg (26 Sept. 2022)
Comment In nature’s warning signs, a nudge to riparian states Anwar Sadat With the devastating effects of climate change visible, riparian states across the world must comply with all the procedural duties pursuant to the ‘no harm rule’ https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/in-natures-warning-signs-a-nudge-to-riparian-states/article65946194.ece (27 Sept. 2022)
India-Nepal Downsizing planned Saptakoshi high dam Nepal and India have agreed on potential reduction in the height of the proposed Saptakoshi High Dam amid concerns that if built, the gigantic structure could inundate large swathes of area on Nepal’s side. During a meeting of the Joint Commission on Water Resources (JCWR), a secretary-level joint mechanism, held on September 21-23, the two sides agreed to review the project considering the inundation area, various hydropower and irrigation projects upstream of the proposed Saptakoshi dam and social and technical aspects.
– According to the Feasibility Study of Saptakoshi High Dam Project undertaken by Central Water Commission of India in 1981, a 269-metre tall dam—to be built above the level of foundation rock across the river about 1.6 km upstream of Barahkshetra—will inundate 194.2 square kilometres of lands. Citing the potential loss upon construction of the high dam, residents of the area are up in arms about the project. As a result, the joint project office set up in Biratnagar has not been able to carry out any field work such as drilling, hydrological study and environment impact assessment to build the high dam. In the last meeting of the JCWR in New Delhi, the Nepali side had even proposed closing down the joint project office considering the difficulty of carrying out the fieldwork. India opposed the proposal.
– A 756MW Tamor Storage Hydro-electric Project has been planned on Tamor river while 635MW Dudhkoshi Hydropower Project is also on the pipeline. Nepal and Bangladesh have agreed in principle to develop the 683MW Sunkoshi 3 Hydropower Project. “Besides these hydel projects, Sunkoshi Marin Diversion Multi-Purpose Project, upstream of the proposed dam site, will also reduce the flow of water in the Saptakoshi river and higher dams may not be required,” the senior official said. https://kathmandupost.com/national/2022/09/27/nepal-india-mull-downsizing-planned-saptakoshi-high-dam (27 Sept. 2022)
India-Bangladesh Cabinet approves MoU between India and Bangladesh on withdrawal of upto 153 cusecs of water each by India and Bangladesh from common border river Kushiyara PIB PR on Sept 28, 2022: The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Republic of India and the Republic of Bangladesh on withdrawal of upto 153 cusecs of water each by India and Bangladesh from common border river Kushiyara.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 6th September, 2022 between the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of the Republic of India and Ministry of Water Resources, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on withdrawal of upto 153 cusecs of water each by India and Bangladesh from common border River Kushiyara during dry season (1st November to 31st May) for their consumptive water requirement. A joint monitoring team will be set up. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1862941 (28 Sept. 2022)
Pakistan Unpacking the floods Interview of Dawar Butt on root causes, challenges and gaps in state capacity.
https://www.himalmag.com/unpacking-floods-in-pakistan-dawar-butt-interview-2022 (23 Sept 2022)
Mass fish deaths in Europe’s Oder river blamed on brackish water algae. https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/mass-fish-deaths-in-europe-s-oder-river-blamed-on-brackish-water-algae-122100100108_1.html (01 Oct. 2022)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
Study ‘Unprecedented’ Changes to World’s Rivers The way rivers function is significantly affected by how much sediment they transport and where it gets deposited.
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 Dartmouth study published in Science. https://home.dartmouth.edu/news/2022/07/study-shows-unprecedented-changes-worlds-rivers (07 July 2022)
USA Can L.A. River be rejuvenated without displacing low-income communities? The L.A. River Master Plan will guide river revitalization efforts for decades to come. The new plan stakes out bold visions for the river’s future, including more parks, public spaces, bike and walking paths, and habitat improvements. The plan also is strongly committed to helping low-income communities along the river thrive in place instead of seeing them displaced as the river region is rejuvenated.
An initial $50-million investment would enable the proposed land bank to purchase land sufficient for more than 800 new units of affordable housing along the Los Angeles River, according to a report commissioned by the Board of Supervisors.
That would account for only 15% of the 5,200 new units that the master plan estimates will be needed to avoid displacement of residents in neighborhoods that may be gentrified on the river in the coming years. But it would be an excellent start. And the board’s motion would direct the county to secure additional funding from state and federal sources for the land bank. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-06-10/los-angeles-river-master-plan-affordable-housing-land-bank (10 June 2022)
Paul Nicklen Photographs the Colorado River as It Etches Itself Like Veiny Branches into the Landscape Paul Nicklen, pioneering conservation photographer (previously), calls nature “the first and greatest artist” in his latest collection, the Delta Series. In the series, he captures the vestiges of the Colorado River that trickle, roar, and finally, crawl their way down to Baja, Mexico. Though the silt itself is the site of tragedy, traces of freshwater gorgeously spread like branches, or fingerprints, or lungs, or as Nicklen writes, like veins. Nicklen’s Delta Series is on view as part of Evolve, which opens on October 1 at Hilton-Asmus Contemporary in Chicago. See more of the photos on his website and Instagram. https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2022/09/paul-nicklen-delta-series/?fbclid (27 Sept. 2022)
EA knew sewage was being dumped into rivers years ago However, the agency’s chief executive told MPs in May that the practice had only recently come to light. The Environment Agency’s 2012 inspection report for the north-west region shows that a number of sewage works belonging to the water company United Utilities were dumping raw sewage into rivers while failing to treat the required amount of sewage stipulated in their permits. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/01/environment-agency-sewage-dumped-england-rivers-leak (01 Oct. 2022)
Compiled by SANDRP (email@example.com)
Also see: DRP News Bulletin 26 Sept 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 19 Sept 2022
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