(Feature Image Source: Question of cities)
It is good to see that focus on Urban Rivers is increasing not only in media, but also by the government. The focus of the latest edition of “Question of Cities” is on Urban Rivers, carrying articles on, beside the lead article by SANDRP coordinator, Article “Rivers & Cities”, Sabarmati (Ahmedabad), Mula-Mutha (Pune), on River Centric Urban Planning Guidelines from Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning. In addition, this SANDRP DRP update also carries articles on Dravyawati River of Jaipur, Godavari river in Nasik and a report on Mandakini river in Badrinath.
All this increased focus is welcome, but will be worthwhile only when we see an effective impact of this on rejuvenated Urban rivers. We have yet to see that. In fact, if at all, the movement is hugely in opposite direction, with increasing destruction of Urban Rivers.
Question of Cities Articles Make space for rivers in cities, draft policies to protect them Lead article by Himanshu ThakkarNatural rivers and their ecosystems in cities are being ruined in the name of development with projects stripping away them of their ecology, changing their geographical features, and leave a lasting damage on the marine life as well on people whose livelihoods depend on rivers. We are already witnessing the consequences of the worsening state of urban rivers in multiple ways including increasingly destructive floods, water scarcity even in cities with multiple rivers and waterbodies, worsening quality of life especially for the vulnerable, and increasing economic, social, and cultural impact. The age-old river-centric planning is crucial to save our waterbodies, lakes & rivers. https://questionofcities.org/make-space-for-rivers-in-cities-draft-policies-to-protect-them/ (4 Nov 2022)
Rivers & Cities by Jashvitha Dhagey There is a severe stress on our rivers when we treat them like a resource which can be exploited instead of protecting them. Across cities in India, the story of rivers is similar — heavily polluted with industrial and household waste, choking on garbage dumped into it, encroachments and more. The ongoing Rivers of Life festival by the Azim Premji University in Bengaluru charts a journey through India’s rivers, bringing alive their importance, biodiversity, and their relationship with people. It has brought together experts, activists, students, musicians with tens of volunteers to spread the message of conserving and reviving rivers. “Our purpose is to get people who are deeply interested in the issue of rivers collectively involved and to reach students,” says Kunal Sharma, faculty member at the University. https://questionofcities.org/why-do-we-not-see-that-our-cities-have-come-up-around-rivers/ (04 Nov. 2022)
Mula-Mutha; Pune River trapped in ecological disaster by Ishan Sadwelkar The ancient river, Mula-Mutha, has been battered by floods, encroachments, and rampant constructions causing massive environmental damage. Turned into a sewer and a dumping site over the years, the neglected river is heavily polluted and filthy. The plan to ‘develop’ the riverbanks of this non-perennial river spells further disaster. The 44-kilometre riverfront project will cost Rs 4,727 crore and will destroy natural stretches of the river at Bund Garden and Sangam. The project, billed as a rejuvenation of the river, will landfill and concretise areas around the river, narrowing it and affecting its ecosystem. It is of greater importance to ensure flood drainage and limit damage than “beautify” the riverbank. https://questionofcities.org/punes-mula-mutha-sinks-into-ecological-disaster/ (04 Nov. 2022)
Sabarmati; Ahmedabad A river is more than a usable resource by Darshan Desai The redeveloped, concretised, and glitzy Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad is a far cry from the meandering river which flows into the Arabian Sea. A natural river has been transformed into a tank of stagnant water – for commercial and recreational purposes. The downstream of the riverfront has been reduced to a channel carrying sewage and industrial effluents. The second phase of the Sabarmati riverfront project is scheduled to be completed by 2027 but without an honest river-centric evaluation of the first phase. Environmentalists and activists fighting to save the Sabarmati face a huge challenge ahead to save what is left of the river. https://questionofcities.org/the-sabarmati-story-a-river-is-more-than-a-usable-resource/ (04 Nov. 2022)
Dravyavati; Jaipur Tata halts riverfront maintenance work The Tata Group has stopped the maintenance work of the project. After a dispute with JDA in the past, the company had warned to stop the work. Now, it has stopped the maintenance work of the STP plant built there. With the closure of these STPs, now the water here is turning dirty.
According to sources, the company’s demand was that JDA should start the official maintenance of this project, but JDA does not want to start it till the company completes the final work of the project. JDA engineers said that a lot of work is still left near Goner and the company has not worked in many places near Sitapura because of an ongoing dispute in the court. https://www.firstindia.co.in/news/india/tata-halts-dravyavati-river-front-maintenance-work (07 Oct. 2022)
Godavari; Nasik Goda Ghat juggled concretisation & de-concretisation over 2 decades The July 2022 floods at Goda Ghat, Nashik exposed the impacts of trying to tame the Godavari river in the name of riverfront development. In the last three decades, Goda Ghat has gone through a lot of interventions, particularly concretisation that resulted in recurring and devastating floods in 2008, 2016, 2019 and 2022. Goda Ghat got shaped and re-shaped in the last two decades by state interventions, particularly through urban-missions and schemes. These include the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Smart City Mission (SCM) as well as the Kumbh Melas. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/water/in-the-name-of-development-how-nashik-s-goda-ghat-juggled-concretisation-de-concretisation-over-2-decades-85343 (07 Oct. 2022)
MoH&UA River centric urban planning guidelines This (May 2021) report, prepared by the union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, introduces urban river water conservation and its importance in mainstream urban planning. The report goes into great depth to explain the current state of rivers, and their future impact to cities and the ecosystem. Floodplains in cities undergo immense pressure from unauthorised constructions and landfill activities, which in turn deteriorate the biodiversity of rivers and destroy native species of plants and animals that support and thrive from this ecosystem. This exploitation leads to increased frequency of floods during the monsoons and unusually low water levels throughout the year, not leaving enough time for groundwater aquifers to recharge.
The report highlights the high amount of industrial wastewater produced in the city in comparison to the amount of natural river water and a need for that imbalance to be improved. It provides strategies and regulations that could enhance the life of rivers by conserving their environments and restricting activities in zones closer to the flood plains, called the River Zonal Development Plan. The report suggests decentralisation of the approach to river rejuvenation for urban planning to be more sustainable and states that, “It is high-time to prioritise our water resources sustainability and think for the environmental security; else our future might face a serious crisis on water. Life is important, but survival in the 21st century should be equal for all.” https://questionofcities.org/river-centric-urban-planning-guidelines/
Mandakani; Badrinath PM Modi reviews riverfront development work https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-reviews-badrinath-riverfront-development-work/articleshow/95008604.cms (21 Oct. 2022)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
SANDRP Blog Landslide Disaster at Ratle HEP in J&K in Oct 2022 The landslide incident at Ratle HEP in Chenab basin in Jammu & Kashmir in Oct 2022 has again revealed how hydro projects in geologically vulnerable areas have been increasing disaster potential of the already disaster vulnerable areas, killing and injuring the workers and people. The exact reason for the mishap at project site are still unknown. As usual neither NHPC nor JKSPDC have made public information concerning reasons for the tragedy.
Refusing to learn any lessons from such disasters, the administration has set-up routine internal probe under inspector level official. This only shows sheer lack of intention to make the developers accountable and continue to push financially unviable and environmental unsustainable hydro projects at the cost of human lives and tax payers’ money. https://sandrp.in/2022/11/07/landslide-disaster-at-ratle-hydro-project-in-jammu-kashmir-in-oct-2022/ (07 Nov. 2022)
Himachal Pradesh Great to see this No Means No Protest Song by local youth against hydro power projects in Kinnaur. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf__qtPD3Lg (04 Nov. 2022)
MoEF Agenda for EAC on River Valley Project meeting to be held on Nov 9, 2022: 1. Damanganga-Vaitarna-Godavari (Kadva/Dev) intrastate link project at Vil Chinchutara, Bhendipada, Vadachapada, Bedukpada, Udhale, Tehsil Mokhada, Dist Thane (Mah) by National Water Development Agency – Terms of Reference
2. Teesta River Basin Study in W Bengal by W Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd-For TOR http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/_01112022REHRENDQ.pdf
Polavaram Project Backwater effect survey to be taken up from Nov 8 Authority will start on Nov 8, 2022, back water impact study of the Polavarm project in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The survey earlier done for NGT will also be taken into account.
– A survey conducted by an expert committee set up by the Irrigation Department of Telangana recently has found that storage of water at full reservoir level (FRL) of 150 feet/45.72 metres in the project would result in submergence of an additional 892 acres in six villages of four mandals for eight months a year and suggested that the PPA take up the land acquisition process with project cost. Further, the expert panel survey has also stated that 103 villages were submerged during the flood in July this year, particularly due to congestion in local drainage system of 36 major and medium streams due to afflux in the 3-km stretch at Bhadrachalam and changes in the river morphology even with flood of 21.59 lakh cusecs. It has also pointed out that local drainage congestion along the banks obstructing the discharge from local streams such as Peddavagu, Edullavagu, Pamuleruvagu and Turubakavagu and 32 others would cause frequent flash floods in seven mandals – Aswapuram, Bhadrachalam, Burgampahad, Cherla, Dummugudem, Pinapaka and Manuguru – even during the non-monsoon period.
– A survey that got conducted by the NGT earlier has found that the Polavaram backwater effect would be up to 18 km upstream in Kinnerasani river and up to 6 km upstream in Murreduvagu. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/ap-ts-engineers-to-take-up-polavaram-backwater-effect-survey-from-nov-8/article66095591.ece (04 Nov. 2022)
Madhya Pradesh People throng dam site for diamonds Hundreds of people, including those from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, have been digging the soil near an under-construction dam at Vishramganj in Panna district after videos and messages went viral on social media claiming a contractor found diamond gravel there. The construction of the dam over an 8 km area over the Runjh river to irrigate 12,000-hectare farmland started this year. Officials said the land belongs to the water resources department and anybody can dig out a pit up to 2.5 feet. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/bhopal-news/people-throng-dam-site-in-madhya-pradesh-s-panna-looking-for-diamonds-101667295446512.html (01 Nov. 2022)
INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES
Report Centre & State powers over water resources One of the major water-related issues tasked to the Centre, inter-State river disputes in India are governed by the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956. An amendment to the Act was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2019 but is yet to get the Upper House’s nod. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/explained-water-centre-state-powers-river-disputes-laws-drinking-water-supply/article65895481.ece (6 Oct 2022)
Addressing the valedictory session of the 7th India Water Week organised at Greater Noida Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Saturday (Nov. 05) said that inter-state water disputes are in favour of none and go against the interest of the countryand the time has come to take proactive initiatives to resolve these disputes. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/7th-india-water-week-its-time-to-end-all-inter-state-water-disputes-dhankhar-8252002/ (05 Nov. 2022)
Odisha Farmers protest for irrigation water Farmers in Kendrapara, Pattamundai, Jamboo, and Marsaghai get water from the canals in Oct to grow black grams, green grams, potatoes, sugar canes, and vegetables. However, this year the thin flow of water in the canals has caused an alarm, said Madhab Das, the vice-president of the district unit of Krusaka Sabha.
Umesh Sethi, the superintendent engineer of the district irrigation department, said a group of fishermen illegally blocked the Kendrapara canal to catch fish. “This has led to the areas at the tail-end of the canal not getting water. We have unblocked the canal with the help of the police to ensure a good flow of water. Desilting works of other canals are also going on in war footing, and farmers will get water within a week for their Rabi crops,” he said. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/farmers-protest-in-kendrapara-demanding-water-or-irrigating-fields-news-234875 (05 Nov. 2022)
India Rivers Week 2022 We are excited to announce the theme and program for India Rivers Week 2022. Our annual event continues as a virtual dialogue this year, in collaboration with Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, with the theme: “Rivers as Waterways in India: Bane or Boon?”. To join, please register at: https://bit.ly/indiariversweek2022
Odisha Supreme Court Applies R&R Act 2013 For Mahanadi Coalfields Acquisitions Of 1988; Villagers To Get Employment, Rehabilitation Packages Over Compensation. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-applies-rr-act-2013-for-mahanadi-coalfields-acquisitions-of-1988-villagers-to-get-employment-rehabilitation-packages-over-compensation-213360 (05 Nov. 2022)
Jammu & Kashmir Potential of springs for climate resilience As much as 87% of the total spring water of the Kashmir valley can be used for drinking purposes without treatment, says a new study. Local communities living around the springs consider them sacred and their beliefs also play a role in keeping the springs clean.
There is no one concerned authority looking after the springs of the valley. The jurisdiction of various springs remains distributed among various departments. Scientists recommend continuous monitoring and proper management of these water sources in the Kashmir valley, as they have a large potential to meet the rising demands of the growing population in the region. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/09/the-potential-of-kashmirs-springs-for-climate-resilience/ (12 Sept. 2022)
Meghalaya Experts to prepare plan for restoring polluted water bodies A 10-member expert committee headed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) B K Lyngwa will soon come up with an action plan for restoration of polluted water bodies in the state. The committee constituted in June in compliance with a High Court order to advise the state government on measures for restoration and protection of water bodies, will advise the state govt on latest technology & methods to be used for cleaning and rejuvenation of water bodies.
After chairing the second meeting of the committee, Lyngwa said on Thursday (Oct. 13), “We are in the process of formulating the action plan. The question of funding will come later on.” The action plan will be site specific to every river and will cover the whole state except those water bodies in the wildlife protected areas, reserved forests and water-bodies dealt with by the State Wetland Authority and River Rejuvenation Committee and the fish ponds, he said.
The studies will also be carried out in two seasons (dry and rainy season) for collection of baseline data related to pollution and other aspects. It is expected to be completed within six months. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/experts-to-prepare-plan-for-restoring-polluted-water-bodies-in-meghalaya-122101400379_1.html (14 Oct. 2022)
Kerala Protest against giant cut-outs in river The development comes after an activist threatened legal action on the local body citing encroachment and water pollution woes. The Chathamangalam Gram Panchayat in Kozhikode district is worried that the huge cutouts, particularly the one built by Argentina fans, may affect the Kurungatt Kadavu river’s free and natural flow. According to a report by Reporter Live, the Panchayat Secretary has directed both fan units to remove their respective cutouts. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/kozhikode-citing-water-pollution-woes-activist-threatens-legal-action-after-cut-outs-of-lionel-messi-neymar-were-planted-in-river-article-95328779 (06 Nov. 2022)
Maharashtra The authorities in Latur district have launched an awareness and cleanliness drive to make Manjara river pollution free, an official said on Sunday (Oct. 16) . The initiative “Chala Januya Nadila” was launched on Saturday at Gokadi in Patoda tehsil of Beed district, which is the origin of 724-km long river, he said. At least 72 rivers in Maharashtra will be covered under the initiative. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/maharashtra-awareness-drive-launched-to-make-manjara-river-pollution-free-news-230338 (16 Oct. 2022)
GANGA Uttarakhand A remarkable spring near Marchula along Ramganga river: Rainwater first percolating down a hill transforming itself in mineral rich groundwater and then oozing out through gravel sheet as a small yet wonderful spring near hill base in turn offering countless services to all human and animals before merging into a stream or river. https://fb.watch/gDlYVt6vGa/
YAMUNA Opinion Nobody killed Yamuna by Darpan Singh The Yamuna is dead, and nobody killed it! We can now mourn its death and go home. But the river can still revive itself. That’s true. All we need to do is to stop trying to fix it—and do the opposite. https://www.indiatoday.in/opinion-columns/story/nobody-killed-the-yamuna-mourn-its-death-and-go-home-opinion-2292660-2022-11-03 (03 Nov. 2022)
River can be defoamed, but hiding froth won’t ensure it’s cleaned. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/chhath-politics-yamuna-foam-defoamers-bjp-aap-delhi-2291839-2022-11-01 (01 Nov. 2022)
Former LG Anil Baijal on Tuesday (Nov. 01) expressed concern over the rising levels of pollution, including that of water, in Delhi and pitched for the reuse of water for non-potable purposes. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/former-delhi-lg-baijal-expresses-worry-over-water-pollution-news-234081 (01 Nov. 2022)
CAUVERY Seminar talking about the various aspects of riverine biodiversity — especially in the context of the Cauvery river. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v2kYtbaCwM (04 Nov. 2022)
Kerala New species of honey bee spotted after 200 years In a discovery that could open up avenues for large-scale production of high-quality honey, researchers from the state have discovered a new species of honey bee that is endemic to the Western Ghats. The species, discovered after a gap of over 200 years, has been named Apis karinjodian, with the common name, ‘Indian black honey bee’. The honey bee last discovered from India was Apis indica which was identified in 1798 by Fabricius. The latest finding has been published in the September issue of the journal ‘Entomon’. The discovery has increased the species of honey bees in the world to 11. The species has been classified as Near Threatened (NT) in Kerala based on the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, an easily and widely understood system for classifying species at high-risk of global extinction. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2022/nov/04/new-species-of-honey-bee-spotted-after-200-years-in-western-ghats-2514709.html (04 Nov. 2022)
Uttar Pradesh With monsoon season over, the sand mafias are let loose to rob Yamuna of flows, minerals, eco-system & destroy the livelihoods of fishers, floodplain farmers. This in-stream, mechanized river mining prohibited by NGT and MoEF happened today in morning hours at Mandawar area of Kairana in Shamli district where such violations have become a norm as seen in previous years also. https://fb.watch/gDpPwabJTr/ (06 Nov. 2022)
Haryana Illegal mining on Pathrala riverbed threat to ecology Despite efforts of the district authorities to stop illegal mining, the activity is going on unabated in the Pathrala rivulet in Jaitpur and Nagli villages, close to bundhs and stone studs built by the Irrigation Department to protect residential areas and agricultural land. On the complaint of Vinod Kumar, Sub Divisional Officer (SDO), Water Services Division, Jagadhri, two separate cases have been registered against the owners of some screening plants under Section 21 (4) of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation of Development) Act and other charges at the Bilaspur police station on March 15.
The complainant said he inspected the illegal mining sites along with an inspector in Jaitpur and Nagli villages on February 21, 2022. In 2019, a case of illegal mining came to light near the Yamuna. The mafia damaged the right lower downstream embankment of the Yamuna by carrying out illegal mining in Tajewala village. The illegal activity posed a breach threat in the river embankment following which the Irrigation Department had to spend crores of rupees to protect it. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/illegal-mining-on-pathrala-riverbed-threat-to-ecology-379268 (21 March 2022)
The police have arrested two persons for attacking the vehicle of the officials of the Mining Department recently. A case has been registered against as many as 30 unidentified persons. Rajvir Singh, SHO Chandhut Police station, said the two accused identified as Sumit, a resident of Khatka village, and Harender, hailing from Badrola village, have been nabbed for the incident. He said a mob consisting of 30 to 35 persons had allegedly assaulted the official vehicle of the department around 10.30 pm near Khatka village, when the team had gone to look into the complaints of sand theft from the Yamuna river bed at Khatka Mohbalipur village in the district.
He said while one of the accused, who was trying to take away a vehicle loaded with river sand, tried to hit the vehicle of the officials, a mob from the village appeared on the spot and attacked the government vehicle with sticks and stones. It is reported that as the officials managed to escape unhurt from the spot, their jeep got damaged in the attack. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/2-held-for-attacking-vehicle-of-mining-officials-443617 (22 Oct. 2022)
Rampant Illegal Mining Costs Govt Rs 5,000 Cr Loss Annually Besides Human Lives And Crops. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/rampant-illegal-mining-costs-haryana-rs-5-000-cr-loss-annually-besides-human-lives-and-crops-news-221100 (05 Sept. 2022)
Bihar Mining, mafia, murder https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/on-bihar-s-island-of-opportunity-mining-mafia-murder-101666200011916.html (20 Oct. 2022)
Madhya Pradesh In the latest action against sand mafia on the Narmada river banks, a team of mining officials conducted a raid near Raverkhedi village (near Shrimant Bajirao Peshwa Samadhi) in Sanawad tehsil of Khargone district on Friday (Oct. 14). The team seized six tractor-trolleys engaged in transporting sand mined illegally from the banks of the Narmada River. In another incident, two more tractor-trolleys were seized. https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/khargone-eight-tractor-trolleys-seized-in-raid-against-illegal-sand-mining (16 Oct. 2022)
Environmental impacts of sand mining: Excessive sand mining forces the river to change its course as sand and powders prevent the river from changing the course and act as a buffer for riverbed. Sand holds a lot of water and when it is mindlessly mined and transported on trucks, large quantities of water is lost in transit. There are a lot of microorganisms that are not visible and widely known but are critical to soil structure and fertility and illegal sand mining takes away their habitat. https://www.thestatesman.com/lifestyle/sand-mining-in-india-a-major-environmental-issue-1503119172.html (08 Oct. 2022)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
Tamil Nadu What ‘Control’ Means in ‘Pollution Control Board’ We are witnessing in Indian environmental governance, where good laws designed to protect the environment and human health are being broken with impunity. Worse still, the watchdog agencies tasked to implement these laws are often found creating an enabling environment for the violators. In a recent judgement of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) (south), in the matter of Meenava Thanthai K.R Selvaraj Kumar, Meenavar Nala Sangam v. Union of India and Others, a bench headed by Justice K. Ramakrishnan made several observations that underscored the crisis of environmental governance in India.
“Applying the doctrine of proportionality, instead of directing closure of the unit, we feel that directing them to pay an Environmental Compensation of Rs 10 Cr- an interim compensation of both these amounts will have to be paid by them.” https://science.thewire.in/environment/sun-pharma-vedanthangal-misgovernance/ (31 Oct 2022)
Jammu & Kashmir Dal Lake faces existential threat The lake is facing an existential crisis and witnessing illegal construction in broad daylight, an exclusive investigation by Greater Kashmir found out. The current situation revealed that the government has failed to stop these illegal constructions. Although the government has been saying that there is no encroachment in the water body, the situation on the ground is entirely different.
An official from the J&K Lake Conservation and Management Authority (LCMA) said that the lack of manpower in the wing that oversees illegal constructions has affected the working. Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Kashmir (KU) Samiullah Bhat said that multiple factors including encroachments had been affecting the ecology and led to the shrinking of Dal Lake over the years. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/gk-investigation-as-famed-dal-lake-faces-existential-threat-illegal-construction-galore-in-water-bodys-interiors (3 Nov 2022)
Delhi Sanjay Lake to be first water body to get wetland tag “The restoration plan has been reviewed by the technical committee and will be soon sent to the Delhi government to initiate the notification process,” said a SWA member. The plan will be open for comments from the public for two months, after which the wetland will be notified. Work on notifying 19 more water bodies is in advanced stages, said the above quoted official. “A draft notification has been prepared for 8 other water bodies,” said the official.
The Delhi SWA is working on notifying 20 water bodies as ‘wetlands’ before March next year. “Brief documents for most of these 20 documents have already been prepared and will be passed through departments concerned before being released for a 60-day feedback period,” said the official.
Earlier this year, various agencies had requested the Delhi’s SWA to delete 230 water bodies from the official list of 1,045 water bodies identified and geo-tagged by the Delhi government citing ongoing development work or existing finished structures at the spot where the water bodies once stood. But an expert committee, constituted by SWA in April this year, recommended against this and suggested that efforts be made to recharge groundwater at these spots.
A senior DDA official said, “The lake was handed to DJB this May for desilting. The water utility will also lay a pipeline from its Kondli sewage treatment plan to fill the lake and maintain water levels. Work is likely to be finished by early next year and will cost around ₹4-5 crore.” DDA started work on restoring Sanjay Lake, in phases, in 2020. In the first phase of the ₹1.2 crore-project, the land-owning agency has constructed an amphitheatre, walkways and cycle tracks in the area surrounding the lake. “In the second phase, we are carrying out landscaping. We will construct walkways along the lake in the third phase,” said a senior DDA official aware of the development. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhi-sanjay-lake-to-be-first-water-body-to-get-wetland-tag-101667153947761.html (30 Oct. 2022)
Karnataka Solution to watering gardens Deepika and Santosh Shet, who are in their 30s, quit their IT jobs to set up a startup that provides quick solutions to the problem of watering gardens when people are away from home. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2022/nov/06/water-an-idea-solution-to-watering-gardens-when-people-are-away-from-home-2515423.html (06 Nov. 2022)
Haryana HWRA seeks report on illegal extraction of groundwater in Faridabad In a letter addressed to the DC, the Haryana Water Resources (Conservation, Regulation and Management) Authority (HWRA) has reportedly asked the district authorities to conduct a probe and submit a report within a week. The HWRA has also supplied a list of about 112 units allegedly engaged in the illegal extraction of water and its supply in an unauthorised manner. A letter in this regard was also written by the HWRA on June 30. “You are requested to get an inquiry conducted through an enforcement officer and send a report to the office within 15 days,” says the letter addressed to the DC.
Though the communication had been sent earlier, the alleged delay on part of the officials concerned has made the HWRA send a reminder, according to sources. The number of illegal tubewells in the district could be around 500, given the difference in the demand and supply of water in the city, they added. “Around 200 tankers supply water from local resources daily to Delhi,” said an official. Though a disconnection drive of illegal tubewells was also launched in 2020, it was halted after a protest. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/water-authority-seeks-report-on-illegal-extraction-of-groundwater-438567 (06 Oct. 2022)
Haryana & Punjab IWMI is studying the impact of the schemes implemented in these two northern states and is working with governments of the two states. To strengthen the response to the world’s most pressing challenges, IWMI is promoting a year-long ‘Transformative Futures for Water Security’ (TFWS) initiative. A South Asian Drought Monitoring System (SADMS) model has been devised by it. The system has been developed in close partnership with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/haryana-and-punjab-sit-on-a-powder-keg-with-rapid-shrinkage-of-underground-water-resources-447604 (04 Nov. 2022)
IIT Roorkee inaugurates the 9th International Groundwater Conference-2022 (IGWC-2022). The mega event is being hosted by IIT Roorkee from November 2 to November 4, 2022. The conference focuses on the theme of effective management of surface water resources in arid and semi-arid regions. The inauguration witnessed a grand participation of more than 300 delegates coming from 12 countries. In addition to technical sessions, a two-day pre-conference training on groundwater modelling was organized in collaboration with the DHI from October 31 to November 1, 2022. A group of 50 participants from different parts of the country attended the training. https://www.ndtv.com/education/iit-roorkee-inaugurates-9th-international-groundwater-conference-2022-on-subsurface-water-management (3 Nov 2022)
Yamuna Nagar Shocking, on November 5th and 6th, 2022 mornings, we find 5 MLD sewage pumping station at City Centre, Yamuna Nagar, Haryana has been dumping untreated sewage, effluents in huge quantity in Western Yamuna Canal which is a potable water source for large part of Delhi and hundreds of villages in Haryana on daily basis. The sewage pumping station was inaugurated in March 2019 after spending ₹73.65 lakh to prevent local flooding and pump the effluents to the STP located across the canal.
But that’s not happening as 3 out of 4 motors at the SPS are non-functioning for over a month as informed by the care taker there. Local people say it has become a common practice in early morning and late evening hours for a long time. They also claim several such spots from where polluted water is entering WYC in the district. Also there are several sites where solid waste is dumped along the canal which is also reaching and contaminating the water source. The concerned officials have been informed but no action has been taken so far. Its a clear case of criminal negligence and departments seem deliberately playing with the health of dependent population apart from allowing adverse impacts on aquatic life in the canal. This act also exposes the ground realities of Yamuna Action Plan and now Namami Gange Mission in which thousands of crores of tax payers’ money is being wasted without any apparent success. https://fb.watch/gDq81iF3wm/ (06 Nov. 2022)
Chhattisgarh Decentralised Urban Water Management From Rahul Bannerjee: Over the past few years it has become increasingly clear that centralised urban water management in this country is in deep crisis. Water supply is both inadequate and extremely costly, water harvesting and recharging and used water treatment and reuse are mostly absent and storm water management is a disaster. Under the circumstances, the only viable solution is communitarian in situ water management and this is what has been proposed in the latest guidelines of both the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation and the Swacch Bharat Mission.
Our NGO, Mahila Jagat Lihaaz Samiti (https://mahilajagatlihazsamiti.in/), has not only implemented communitarian in situ water management but has also carried out research to provide evidence of the unviability of centralised water management and the suitability of the former.
Here is a film based on a detailed research that I did on urban water management in Chhattsgarh for the National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi, that succinctly critiques centralised urban water management and brings out the importance of communitarian in situ water management. The film has been made by Makarand Purohit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4fqjq5lCYU (01 Nov. 2022)
Delhi Tracking water sources It is learnt that over 90 percent of the water is obtained from surface water sources situated in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh. Thus, Delhi relies heavily on external sources for meeting its water needs. Further, the city government is experiencing difficulties in maintaining desired ground water levels and its quality, treatment of wastewater, and rainwater harvesting. Early resolution of problems will help in ensuring better supply of water to the citizens. https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/tracking-water-sources-for-delhi/ (04 Nov. 2022)
Anti-smog gun sprays water to curb air pollution in Qutub Minar area. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/watch-anti-smog-gun-sprays-water-to-curb-air-pollution-in-delhis-qutub-minar-area/videoshow/95325869.cms (05 Nov. 2022)
Karnataka Contaminated water claims 3 lives A resident of Mudenur village in Ramdurg taluk succumbed to gastroenteritis due to consumption of contaminated water on Saturday (05 Nov. 2022). With this the death toll due to contaminated water has reached 3. Vithal Hanmant Gudihind (40) resident of Mudenur succumbed during treatment at a private hospital in Bagalkot. Mudenur residents complained of gastroenteritis due to consumption of contaminated water on October 27, and 94 persons were hospitalised. Saraswati Ningappa Havalli (70) died on October 23 and Shivappa Yandgeri (70) on October 27. Government has announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh to next of kin of Shivappa. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/uttara-kannada-belagavi-city/contaminated-water-claims-life-in-belagavi-district-1159770.html (05 Nov. 2022)
JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY
Uttar Pradesh Amrit Sarovar Yojna: 1380 में से महज 60 ही हुए तैयार, आगरा में कछुआ से भी धीमी है अमृत सरोवर विकास की रफ्तार https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/agra-city-only-60-out-of-1380-amrit-sarovar-are-ready-in-agra-22997911.html (21 Aug. 2022)
Survey Only 2% Indians get water fit for drinking in their taps Even as India Water Week is being observed from November 1-5, clean drinking water continues to remain a pipe dream for many. Only 2% Indian households get drinkable quality water from their local body and 65% are using some kind of modern filtration mechanism, revealed a survey conducted by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, on Wednesday. When asked how they rate the quality of piped water that comes to their home from the local municipal/water department or panchayat, 5% said “very poor” and 15% “poor”. What’s more, 5% said they don’t get piped water at their home.
And how do they purify water at home for drinking, cooking and other purposes? A total of 34% use a water purifier; 31% a RO system; 1% use chlorination, alum and other minerals; 14% do so by “boiling” and 5% use clay vessels. There were 7% of households who don’t purify water and get bottled water supply, the findings indicated. “The government must consider forming mandatory standards for potable water supply to be followed by all local bodies and give them a few years to comply. Once the majority has complied, the standards must be published for public reference, checks and balances,” said Sachin Taparia, the founder of LocalCircles. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/clean-drinking-water-taps-india-survey-water-borne-diseases-2292481-2022-11-02 (02 Nov. 2022)
West Bengal More than 50 lakh households in rural areas now get drinking water through piped connections, CM Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday (Nov. 05). https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/over-50-lakh-rural-homes-in-west-bengal-now-get-tap-water-mamata-122110501411_1.html (05 Nov. 2022)
Centre Govt panels to assess climate crisis impact on crop yields The Union government has set up two high-level scientific panels to put together an advanced agricultural weather information system across India, and to enable an assessment of crop yields in view of increasing extreme weather events, an official said. The two committees, notified by the agriculture ministry last month, will be headed by the Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre, New Delhi. They will have multidisciplinary experts and representation from states, amid rising concerns over already visible impact of the climate crisis on crops and farm incomes.
– The first panel on a proposed advanced system will recommend and put in place a string of high-tech, automatic weather stations that will generate timely data and forecasts to help farmers and policymakers prepare better for changes in temperatures, drought and extreme rainfall.
– The second panel has been tasked with putting in place faster calculation of yield losses due to extreme weather for quicker farm insurance payouts under the flagship Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. Scientists will work on satellite-based data and technologies such as artificial intelligence for yield calculation. It will submit a report on 45 days. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-panels-to-assess-climate-crisis-impact-on-crop-yields-101667673407836.html (06 Nov. 2022)
DAM FLOODS: During a joint conference of Karnataka and Maharashtra Governors to discuss issues concerning border districts, the Kalaburagi district administration raised key matters of importance, including the sudden release of water from Maharashtra dams causing floods in the district, among other issues. Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner Yeshwant Gurkar, who briefed the meeting about the plight of the district during monsoon, said that when water is suddenly released from Ujjani and Veer dams in the neighbouring state, villages in the district are prone to flooding and crop loss.
– “The district administration then has to take up relief measures in Afzalpur and other taluks. Before releasing water, authorities in Maharashtra should send an alert at least a week in advance to officials in Karnataka,” he said.
– Illegal Sand Transport: To curb the illegal transportation of sand from Karnataka to Maharashtra, a checkpoint has been proposed at Mashal village of Afzalpur taluk. https://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2022/nov/06/karnataka-maharashtra-governors-meet-kalaburagi-dc-talks-of-floods-schools-crimes-2515374.html (06 Nov. 2022)
Andhra Pradesh Annamayya dam flood Victims await homes The oft-repeated allegation of people across villages in the region is that the calamity was man-made and that the dam gates were not opened to release flood waters in order to save the tippers, JCBs and tractors of the sand mafia, which they further allege are connected to ruling party leaders.
– Almost one year has passed since the Andhra Pradesh government promised to build houses for the victims of the floods caused by a breach of the Annamayya project’s earthen bund over Cheyyeru river on November 19, 2021. However, till date, all that G. Siva Reddy, one of the victims of the floods, has to call a home is a makeshift tarpaulin tent erected where his home once stood.
– On the reconstruction of the Pincha and Annamayya dams, Rajampeta MLA M. Mallikarjuna Reddy said, “The designs have been approved and cleared by the chief minister recently for construction of concrete structures at Pincha and Annamayya projects, spending Rs 79 crores and Rs 800 crores respectively. All that the chief minister had promised has been done.” https://thewire.in/rights/annamayya-dam-flood-victims-still-homeless (03 Nov. 2022)
Madhya Pradesh An Example of Dam floods killing people? “The deceased have been identified as Darshana (45) and six-year-old boy Lakshya. Eleven others onboard were rescued with the help of divers. The incident took place at 5pm, when water from Omkareshwar Dam was released into the river,” he (a police official) said. https://www.ptinews.com/news/west/mp-two-dead-11-rescued-as-boat-capsizes-in-narmada-river-in-omkareshwar/451415.html (03 Nov. 2022)
Tamil Nadu Real-time flood forecast becomes a reality The State government has started using the Real-Time Flood Forecasting System, which was under development for the past four years, on a pilot scale to generate more localised rainfall forecasts and moderate the outflows of reservoirs in the Chennai basin. The Real-Time Flood Forecasting & Spatial Decision Support System (RTFF & SDSS), at a cost of Rs 71 crore, will be fully operationalised before next monsoon once the government finalises tenders and set-up the required number of Automatic Rain Gauges (ARGs), Automatic Weather Stations (AWS), Automatic Water Level Recorders (AWLR) and Gate Sensors (GS).
Balaji Narasimhan from the Department of Civil Engineering in IIT Madras, which is providing technical assistance and help to validate the forecasting system said, “To provide inundation forecasting, we need high-resolution topography data or digital elevation model. This job is entrusted with the Survey of India, which as of date has completed close to 50% of work using drones. Otherwise, the numeric models, framework and protocols are ready to carry out the forecasting.”
Narasimhan said, apart from flood mitigation and forecasting, other important projects like floodplains mapping, and assessing the effectiveness of stormwater drains can be carried out using this system post-monsoon. This ambitious project was being implemented under the Project Development Grand Fund managed by Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited (TNUIFSL). SECON Pvt Ltd, Bangalore and JBA Consulting, United Kingdom Joint Venture (SECON-JBA JV) are the consultants for the project. As part of the project, multiple flood modelling control rooms in all the district collectorates of the Chennai basin and a hydro modelling control room, which will be the nerve centre at the State Emergency Operation Centre, are being established. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/nov/03/real-time-flood-forecast-becomes-a-reality-in-tamil-nadu-2514463.html (03 Nov. 2022)
Report How ‘sponge cities’ can help tackle flooding, climate change “Sponginess”, or ability to draw water away from the surface, needs to be a key consideration in urban planning, experts believe. Sponge cities will have a greater capacity to deal with more extreme weather and rising sea levels caused by climate change. Sponge cities work in tune with nature to quickly soak up heavy rainfall, rather than solely relying on grey infrastructure like pipes and pumps.
– A city’s sponginess is affected by the balance between blue (ponds, lakes), green (grass, trees) and grey (buildings, hard surfaces) infrastructure. Soil types and vegetation, as well as the water runoff potential, also have a role to play. Sandy soils are generally spongier than more clay-based soils, but the depth of the soil and the depth to the water table also have an impact. If the groundwater table is close to the surface, this reduces the sponge capacity of the soil.
– We need to measure and place more value on green and blue infrastructure – trees, grass and ponds – we even need to design cities with sponginess in mind. Nature-based solutions to climate change are on average 50% more cost effective than engineered alternatives, and deliver 28% more added value than grey infrastructure. https://theprint.in/world/what-sponge-cities-are-and-how-they-can-help-tackle-flooding-climate-change/1187544/ (30 Oct. 2022)
Gujarat Morbi’s tragedy is a symptom of weak urban local bodies Accountability needs to be fixed for the tragic loss of over 150 lives following the collapse of a century-old suspension bridge over the Machchhu river in Gujarat’s Morbi. The accident at Morbi is a symptom of a crisis at the heart of India’s urban governance. Across the country, there are a series of fatalities because of the poor state of urban institutions that oversee governance. Change will come when voters demand accountability from empowered urban bodies, not state governments with conflicts of interests. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-editorials/dont-just-move-on-morbis-tragedy-is-a-symptom-of-weak-urban-local-bodies-strengthen-these-fix-accountability/ (31 Oct. 2022)
For many people, the horrific scenes of Morbi bridge collapse that has claimed over 130 lives evoked painful memories of the Machchhu Dam disaster. On August 11, 1979, after a week of extraordinary monsoon rains in Gujarat, the two mile-long Machchhu Dam-II disintegrated — listed as ‘worst dam burst’ in the Guiness Book of World Records. The waters released from the dam’s massive reservoir rushed through the heavily populated downstream area, devastating the industrial city of Morbi and its surrounding agricultural villages.
“While no firm figure has ever been set on the disaster’s final death count, estimates in the flood’s wake ran as high as 25,000,” read the 2011 released book “No One Had a Tongue to Speak: The Untold Story of One of History’s Deadliest Floods”. The estimates of the number of people killed in the unprecedented tragedy vary greatly ranging from 1,800 to 25,000. Machchhu dam-II was later rebuilt in the end of the 1980s. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/machchhu-river-dam-burst-in-1979-now-bridge-collapse-3477505 (31 Oct. 2022)
Machchhu river: Dam burst in 1979, now bridge collapse. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/machchhu-river-dam-burst-in-1979-now-bridge-collapse/articleshow/95209406.cms (31 Oct. 2022)
Uttarakhand Record 20,000 visit Valley of Flowers Experts said the rising numbers of tourists is something to be worried about “especially when the valley saw early melting of the Tipra glacier this year in March-end due to excess heat in the Garhwal Himalayas and almost a fortnight-early blooming of flowers”. Excess rainfall in July shook the ‘sliding zone’ in the area, leading to sudden closure of the valley for tourists as debris and boulders were seen rolling down the trek. The construction of a helipad in Atalakudi avalanche zone, which is the buffer zone of Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve where the Valley of Flowers is nestled, has further raised concerns. Senior ecologist and alpine expert Dr SP Singh said, “There is something wrong in this whole ‘economy boom via tourism’ concept.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-record-20000-visit-valley-of-flowers-experts-call-for-cap-on-numbers/articleshow/95216509.cms (01 Nov. 2022)
बद्रीनाथ, औली वैली ऑफ़ फ़्लावर, हेमकुंड जैसी जगहों पर जाने के लिए हर साल लाखों लोग भारत-चीन सीमा के नज़दीक बसे शहर जोशीमठ पहुंचते हैं, लेकिन पिछले कुछ वक्त से जोशीमठ में लोग शिकायत कर रहे हैं कि उनके घर ज़मीन में धंस रहे हैं, उनमें दरारें आ रही हैं. जोशीमठ भारत के सबसे ज़्यादा भूकंप प्रभावित इलाके ज़ोन – 5 में आता है. साल 2011 के सेंसस के मुताबिक यहां करीब 4,000 घरों में 17,000 लोग रहते थे लेकिन वक्त के साथ इस शहर पर भी इंसानी बोझ बढ़ा है. https://www.bbc.com/hindi/india-63426618 (05 Nov. 2022)
Assam Dave Petley Blog on May 2022 landslide cluster in Dima Hasao An article just published in the journal Landslides (Roy et al. 2022) provides a very useful initial analysis of this event. The authors have used satellite imagery to map the landslides. In total they have identified 5,178 landslides triggered by this pre-monsoon rainfall event during 11-18 May 2022. In May 2022 Dima Hasao district received 540 mm of rainfall, based on satellite data analysis by Roy et al. (2022), including 156 mm on 11 May.
The map above shows remarkable clustering of landslides, implying that this area suffered particularly intense precipitation that might not have been captured by the satellite data. At New Haflong Station itself, Roy et al. (2022) have identified multiple landslides on the valley walls that coalesced to form channelised debris flows. Their simulations indicate peak flow velocities of 42 m/sec and simulated maximum flow depths of about 8 metres. These are exceptionally high values. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2022/11/07/dima-hasao-1/ (07 Nov. 2022)
Uttarakhand Landslide Kills Woman, Leaves 5 Injured In Kedarnath. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/uttarakhand-landslide-kills-woman-leaves-5-injured-in-kedarnath-news-205678 (30 June 2022)
India-Bhutan Review of energy cooperation Following bilateral talks on hydropower projects between India and Bhutan: In view of the geological challenges faced while implementing the Punatsangchhu-I Project, both sides agreed to jointly work towards achieving a technically safe and cost-effective solution in a time-bound manner, it added. The power secretary also visited Punatsangchhu-I and II Hydroelectric Power Projects. The delegations expressed satisfaction with the overall progress of Punatsangchhu-II project and the pace of work despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic.
– Both sides underscored the importance to complete the Kholongchhu project and agreed to revise its implementation modality as per the request of the Bhutanese government. The Bhutanese delegation thanked India for the technical support extended by experts from Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL). The Indian side reaffirmed continued support for the successful completion and operation of the project. [A lot can be read between these lines and words.] https://kuenselonline.com/india-bhutan-review-energy-cooperation/ (03 Nov. 2022)
India-Nepal SC issues interim order to not extend GMR’s term The Nepal Supreme Court issued an interim order, asking the Nepal government not to implement its decision to extend the term of GMR, an Indian company of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project. The Cabinet had decided to extend GMR’s term by two years. A single bench of SC Justice Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada issued the interim order on Nov 3, 2022 against the Cabinet decision of July 15 2022. The term of the GMR had expired three years back. The SC questioned why the Cabinet made the decision on extension of the project while it was earlier decided by the Investment Board Nepal (IBN).
– The IBN and GMR had signed the project development agreement seven years ago with a two year term. Later, the company was given one more year twice since the project did not advance as agreed in the contract. Ratan Bhandari, an advocate of Nepal’s water resources and energy sector, had filed the writ petition at the SC. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/sc-issues-interim-order-to-not-extend-gmr-s-term/ (04 Nov. 2022)
Details about power export from Nepal to India, its limitations (no PPA with private projects in Nepal, lack of large capacity transmission lines, limitations due to CEA circular) and prospects. Nepal exported close to Rs 4 B worth of electricity last fiscal, hopes to export Rs 16 B worth in current fiscal and Rs 30 B next fiscal and Rs 70 B annually in next five years. https://kathmandupost.com/national/2022/11/02/power-export-earns-nepal-rs10-billion (02 Nov. 20211)
Both countries have agreed to take forward the Sapta Kosi high dam project through further studies, as senior officials of the two sides met here and comprehensively reviewed the bilateral water-sector cooperation, including the implementation of the Mahakali Treaty and cooperation in areas of flooding and inundation. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/india-nepal-sapta-kosi-high-dam-project-bilateral-water-sector-cooperation-2004389-2022-09-24 (24 Sept. 2022)
Bangladesh Microplastics threaten ecosystems of Dhaka rivers Tiny plastic particles have been found in abundance in the surface water and underlying sediments of several lakes and peripheral rivers of Dhaka, according to a new study which researchers say sheds light on the environmental risks of microplastic pollution.
Published October in the Journal of Hazardous Materials Advances, the study found that the average volume of microplastic particles in water and sediment samples taken from the Bangladesh capital’s rivers and lakes is around 36,000 microplastics per cubic meter and 13,607 microplastics per kilogram of dry weight.
The minute plastic particles with diameters lower than five millimeters persist in the environment, including in the air, soil, water and sediments of ocean, rivers and lakes. Coming in various shapes and forms such as fibers, beads and foams, they are typically derived from personal care products, synthetic textiles, bags, cups and vehicle tires. https://phys.org/news/2022-11-microplastics-threaten-ecosystems-dhaka-rivers.html (02 Nov. 2022)
Fascinating aspects of Dhaka Rivers: https://www.counterview.net/2022/10/nothing-could-have-been-more-tragic.html (31 Oct. 2022)
A conversation with Ruth Mostern GREAT RESEARCH ABOUT YELLOW RIVER BASIN: The Yellow River, the world’s sixth-longest and most sediment-laden, occupies a singular place in Chinese history and national identity. It is often associated with great misery caused by its flooding and changes of course, and Herculean efforts by political regimes across the millennia to “tame” it.
– (In her 2021 book, “The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History”), The historian author Ruth Mostern discusses her book on China’s imperial water management and how its insights relate to the present. She is a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh.
– She wants to understand what exactly humans did on the Loess Plateau that led to particular ecological consequences on the floodplain, and hydro governance responses from the imperial court. She describes the book as a “hydrosocial” (spanning 2000 years) biography of the river and an attempt to “see the Yellow River as a whole”.
– States always act like states, which is to say there are always large-scale policy directives coming from the capital, but there are also always local officials of one kind or another, whose job is to operate within the constraints of large-scale policy directives while also following their own personal incentives. There is always going to be inherent friction between a top-down policy, bottom-up resistance to policy, and also bottom-up effort to make policy work in local circumstances. This is true anywhere in the world at any time.
– Another lesson is that I have a grave suspicion about whether large-scale engineering interventions can ever be successful for more than some number of decades. I look at projects like the South–North Water Diversion, or other large-scale projects like dam building, especially during the era of climate change that we’re living in, and I assume that they can work for a while, but they can’t be successful forever.
– I think the line that really struck me in that Elizabeth Kolbert article that I quoted is that historians and other commentators used to talk about the control of nature. Now, all we can talk about is the control of the control of nature. I start the book with a quote from Edward Burtynsky, a fantastic landscape artist who’s really had an impact on me. He says, there is no sublime nature anymore, what’s relevant for our times is to show how we have changed it in significant ways in pursuit of progress. And that’s really the point I make at the end also with that Elizabeth Kolbert quote – what do humans do next once we have irrevocably transformed nature into a kind of landscape of which we ourselves are the most active and dynamic agent?
– Some of this is that rivers always occupy low-lying areas. Rivers always produce bands of very fertile soil next to them. Rivers allow things to move from place to place. Humans like this. Humans want to be close to water, close to routes of transportation, and close to fertile soil. Rivers, absent human activity, always deposit sediment, change their courses, and move from place to place… rivers will always flood. That’s what rivers do. That’s not to say humans are passive actors by any means. Humans can do many, many things in order to manage that risk, in order to decide upon settlement patterns, to enact engineering and so on. But if you put the agency of rivers, if you put the water itself and the force of gravity moving water from higher to lower elevations in a particular part of the Earth’s terrain, rivers will always flood.
– One of the things I most learned from writing this book is that any of the world’s great rivers are restless. They change their course, they don’t occupy the same channel every season or every year or every century, especially when humans also become landscape actors and increase the rate of erosion upstream and lock the river in place downstream. Rivers and humans are both restless landscape features, and they don’t have the same interests as one another. https://chinadialogue.net/en/nature/seeing-the-yellow-river-as-a-whole-a-conversation-with-ruth-mostern/ (26 Oct. 2022)
Risk of winter drought, drop in hydropower Southern China is expected to face a drought, which will reduce hydropower generation and mean more power output is needed from other sources to meet peak winter demand, a weather scientist said on Thursday (Nov. 03). China’s Ministry of Emergency Management also on Tuesday (Nov. 01) said it expected a drought along the Yangtze basin in November, while central and southern China is at “extremely high risk” of bush fires. https://www.reuters.com/world/china/southern-china-risk-winter-drought-drop-hydropower-2022-11-03/ (03 Nov. 2022)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
Nova Kakhovka dam damaged in shelling A rocket hit the Ukraine’s Russian-held Nova Kakhovka dam’s lock and caused damage. Russia claimed this was from Ukrain, but no evidence was presented to support the claim. The vast Nova Kakhovka dam, which blocks the Dnipro river upstream of Kherson where Ukrainian forces have been making advances, has taken on vital strategic significance in recent weeks. Both Russia and Ukraine have since October repeatedly accused each of planning to breach the dam using explosives, in a move that would flood much of the area downstream in what would likely cause major destruction around Kherson city. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraines-russian-held-nova-kakhovka-dam-damaged-shelling-russian-media-2022-11-06/ (06 Nov. 2022)
NILE Global warming and overuse threaten Africa’s longest river One 2020 study analysed historical and geological data from the past 100,000 years and found that the entire body of water (the Great Victoria lake) could disappear in the next 500 years. This would have a striking impact on the Nile, a river whose basin covers 10 percent of the African continent and which is an essential resource for 500 million people living in its vicinity. “Those who have the least water today will have even less tomorrow because competition for water will be even more fierce,” says Habib Ayeb, geologist and emeritus professor at the Paris-8-Saint-Denis University.
– Every year since 1960 the Mediterranean has worn away between 35 and 75 metres of earth in the Nile Delta. If it were to rise by one metre it would submerge 34 percent of the surrounding region in northern Egypt, displacing 9 million people. https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20221106-crisis-on-the-nile-global-warming-and-overuse-threaten-africa-s-longest-river (06 Nov. 2022)
Research Large dams may threaten survival of platypus populations Scientists have found major genetic differences between groups of platypuses above and below dams which may lead to inbreeding and reduced adaptability
Major dams have disrupted gene flow between platypus populations, making them more vulnerable to threats, according to new research by scientists from the University of New South Wales who examined the genetic makeup of platypuses in free-flowing and dammed rivers in that state. Their results, published in Communications Biology, found there was greater genetic differentiation between platypus populations located above and below dams compared to populations in free-flowing rivers. They said this indicated large dams were major barriers to the movement of platypuses, resulting in limited or no gene flow between separate populations. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/04/large-dams-may-threaten-survival-of-platypus-populations-research-finds (03 Nov. 2022)
River pollution major contributor of plastic waste to oceans According to a research conducted by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, it is discovered that out of 70 percent of total earth’s water, about 60% is polluted. And about 1000 rivers are responsible for roughly 80% of the pollution in the marine ecosystem. It is very important to identify the source of pollution. https://www.thestatesman.com/lifestyle/river-pollution-major-contributor-of-plastic-waste-to-oceans-1503121504.html (14 Oct. 2022)
Compiled by SANDRP (email@example.com)