DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 051222: World Soil Day 2022: Soil where food begins

(Feature Image:-Several practical principles for soil and water conservations are important to be understood and combined. Source Wiki Farmer)

United Nations is celebrating today, i.e. Dec 5, as the World Soil day, the theme this year is “Soils: Where food begins”. The World Soil Day is held on Dec 5 each year since 2014, following the recommendation the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, the UN General Assembly responded by designating 5 December 2014 as the first official World Soil Day as a global awareness raising platform.

In the context of climate change, the soil organic content assumes additional huge significance. While the organic content in soils is decreasing globally, it can be reversed. If we can increase the soil organic content, it will not only help in mitigation of climate change by helping reduce the carbon in the atmosphere, it can also help in adaptation as soil with higher organic context has much greater capacity to store soil moisture, which can then be helpful in both flood mitigation (as more of the rain water is stored in the soil), and drought mitigation (soils with most moisture storage will help crops survive longer dry spells).

The themes of the World Soil Day since 2014 provides a glimpse of the problems Soil faces globally: “Halt soil salinization, Boost soil productivity” (2021), “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity” (2020), “Stop Soil Erosion, Save our Future” (2019), “Be the Solution to Soil Pollution” (2018), “Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground” (2017), “Soils and pulses, a symbiosis for life” (2016), “Soils, a solid ground for life’ (2015) and “Soils, foundation for family farming” (2014).

There are more living organisms in a tablespoon of soil than people on Earth. Soil is a world made up of organisms, minerals, and organic components that provides food for humans and animals through plant growth. Agricultural systems lose nutrients with each harvest, and if soils are not managed sustainably, fertility is progressively lost, and soils will produce nutrient-deficient plants. Soil nutrient loss is a major soil degradation process threatening nutrition. It is recognized as being among the most critical problems at a global level for food security and sustainability all around the globe.

Over the last 70 years, the level of vitamins and nutrients in food has drastically decreased, and it is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from lack of micronutrients, known as hidden hunger because it is difficult to detect.

With relatively lower and lowering organic content in Indian soils, there is a lot India can do to improve state of our soils and that can help hugely in achieving climate change mitigation and adaptation in both floods and droughts. Incentivising methods like the System of Crop Intensification and greater use of organic fertilisers can be hugely beneficial in multiple ways.

USA The ‘skin of our planet’ is in danger. Here’s how scientists are trying to save it Biological soil crusts, which some researchers describe as “the living skin of the Earth,” are a diverse community of organisms — microbes, fungi, plants and lichens — that plays a crucial role in managing entire ecosystems. From deserts to polar regions, dryland ecosystems support about one-third of the human population and make up about 40 percent of the Earth’s land surface — and 30 percent of that land is covered by biocrusts. They may not look like much, but if you zoom in close, you’ll start to see a complex web of life — one vital to the health of its environment. Though resistant to drought, biocrusts are still “quite sensitive to climate change.”

Biocrust is also an important factor in the water cycle, especially along the Colorado River. Without the crust to hold it in place, dust gets picked up by the wind and deposited on snow, causing the snowpack to absorb more sunlight and melt too quickly. As a result, mountain plants become active earlier in the season, absorbing the water before it can reach rivers. This makes the seasonal cycles of rivers more erratic, causing increased strain on water supply for communities and agriculture. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/the-skin-of-our-planet-is-in-danger-heres-how-scientists-are-trying-to-save-it  (30 Nov. 2022)

From Shri Achyut Das, Odisha: CELEBRATION OF THE WORLD SOIL DAY (5TH DECEMBER):  ZERO-TILLAGE AGRICULTURE IN THE CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

This year, like other years, Agragamee will celebrate the World Soil Day on 5th December  in all its Projects across several districts involving Farmers( Men and Women), School Children,  Panchayats,  Farmers Organisations( FPOs), Government Officials and other institutions.  The Soil Degradation, which has become rampant, has to be stopped by any means, as protection of Soil is the key to our survival. We have to check deforestation and regenerate the existing one. We have to plant millions of trees- in the Family Farms, in the so-called Wasteland, in the urban and peri-urban areas.  We have to take every step that would minimise the soil erosion!

For several years, Agragamee led by Mrs Vidhya Das , has been following Masanobu Fukuoka’s Zero-tillage Agriculture, modifying to the local conditions. Basically mulching, using of bio-mass and waste matters, occasionally applying of cow-dung ( no application of Vermi-compsot or any other bio-fertilisers). There have been magical results. All kinds of vegetables, millets, pulses, tubers, and fruit-bearing trees have come up with the least disturbance of the soil. One has to see to believe that such a range of crops can be harvested in this Zero-tillage method. There is no attack of pests and no need of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Many youths, especially women are attracted to this method and have been trained also. But the mainstream agriculture, which is full of application of Chemicals, has a deep rooted influence on the Farmers and they are not ready to take up Zero-tillage Methods in large scale.  A time has come for a paradigm shift in our throughts and actions. A time has also come to look at the Concept and Practice of Climate Smart Agriculture(CSA) which will have a huge bearing on small land holders.

Agragamee Campus  in Kashipur which  was a barren land and sold to us by the non-tribal farmers as cheap wasteland is an island of greenery round the year. Had there been assured irrigation, things would have been much more dramatic.

What is needed is hard work, perseverance and a belief that Soil Protection will assure you your basic  Food and Nutrition Securities. This will also ensure perfect ecological securities of one and all, especially, the poor and marginalised!

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Power Ministry ISTS charges from new hydro projects waived The Ministry of Power has issued an order for a waiver of the interstate transmission system (ISTS) charges on electricity generated from new hydropower projects as part of its commitment to meet its power requirement from renewable energy sources. ISTS charges will now be waived for new hydropower projects, for which construction work is awarded, and a power purchase agreement is signed before 30 June 2025. ISTS charges for projects for which this happens after June 30, 2025, will go up by 25% every year, and will be 100% by June 30, 2028. The waiver will be applicable for 18 years, and will only be applicable for inter state transmission, not for losses. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/ists-charges-on-transmission-of-electricity-generated-from-new-hydro-power-projects-waived-for-18-years-9641701.html  (03 Dec. 2022)

Union Power Minister R K Singh: “One requirement is storage. The other is the flexibility of thermal power plants. We’ve already issued a regulation that the thermal power plants will be flexible up to 55 per cent. In the next phase, after three years, we have to go down to 40 per cent, which means in the daytime, they would run at 40 per cent and pick up after sunset. Now, battery storage is expensive at Rs 10 per kilowatt per hour. So I’ve got a survey of all pumped hydro sites done and given our hydro PSUs a target of taking up two pumped hydro schemes. Some states have already started exploiting pumped hydro. I have written to the coal ministry to look at opencast mines as they are great sites for pumped hydro, our future. Right now, most states have a capacity to absorb solar energy except those where the sun shines more than their requirement.” https://indianexpress.com/article/idea-exchange/india-is-a-leader-in-energy-transition-and-nobody-has-done-as-much-as-we-have-r-k-singh-at-idea-exchange-8305894/   (05 Dec. 2022)

Chhattisgarh Govt mulls to set up 5 pump storage hydel plants Water and Power Consultancy Services (I) Ltd, a public sector enterprise, will prepare feasibility report and a detailed project report (DPR) for setting up five pump storage hydel electric plants with installed capacity of 7700 MW power in Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh State Power Generation Company and WAPCOS Ltd signed the contract agreement for this on Nov 30 2022.

– Bijoura said that five places in the state have been identified for pumped storage hydropower project, in which Hasdev, Bango, Korba and Sikaser Gariaband reservoirs will have 1200MW each, 1400MW plant in Dangri of Jashpur and 2100MW plant will be set up in Rauni and 1800MW plant will be set up at Kotpalli in Balrampur district. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/chhattisgarh-mulls-to-set-up-five-pump-storage-hydel-plants-to-generate-7700-mw-power/articleshow/95861640.cms  (29 Nov. 2022)

Meghalaya High Court on Thursday (Dec. 01) struck down a NEEPCO order that prevented its employees from joining trade unions or participating in activities pertaining to a workers’ union stating that it was a violation of Article 19 (1) (c) which allows formation of associations or unions. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/12/02/hc-strikes-down-neepco-rule/  (02 Dec. 202)

MoEF Relevant decisions of the meeting FAC held on Nov 7, 2022: – Proposal for non-forestry use of 10.24 ha of forest land of NTPC Ltd. for construction of Ash dyke and water reservoir in Tandwa Block, of District Chatra (Jharkhand): Declined http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/111128122612151download.pdf 

DAMS

Rajasthan Salgaon dam project violates ESZ rules, threatens biodiversity Salgaon dam project is being taken up for supplying water to Mount Abu on Gujarat-Rajasthan border, endangering the fragile ecology of the area. The project is in complete violation of the NGT order of 2009 that banned any construction activity in the area designated as Eco Sensitive Zone. The project is also unnecessary, better options exist. It won’t even be a sustainable solution. https://www.deccanherald.com/science-and-environment/an-oasis-in-peril-1167941.html  (03 Dec. 2022)

Andhra Pradesh- Telangana Govts agree on change of Srisailam rule curve Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have reached consensus on the modification of rule curve pertaining to Srisailam reservoir and recommendations regarding the same will be submitted to the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) for a final decision. However, there is no consensus on the modification of the rule curve pertaining to Nagarjuna Sagar. “Both the States seem to be having reservations regarding drawls. They are set to take up the issue with the Central Water Commission,” KRMB Reservoirs Management Committee (RMC) convener Ravi Kumar Pillai said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/dec/04/ap-telanganaagree-on-change-of-srisailam-rule-curve-2524911.html  (04 Dec. 2022)

Telangana 3 irrigation projects get Central nod The Union Jal Shakti Ministry authorised three key irrigation projects in Telangana on Tuesday (Nov. 29) including the much anticipated Chanaka-Korata Barrage in the Adilabad district, the Choutpally Hanumanth Reddy Lift Irrigation Scheme in the Nizamabad district, and the Mukteshwar (Chinna Kaleshwaram) Lift Irrigation Scheme (LIS) in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district. All three projects received approval during the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting in New Delhi, which was presided over by Pankaj Kumar, secretary of the Jal Shakti Ministry.

Irrigation authorities claim that in July of last year, the Central Administration published a gazette notification declaring that none of the three projects that the Telangana government had undertaken had received official sanction. In response, the State government sent the Central Water Commission (CWC) and Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) a thorough project report in September of last year. As a result, the suggestions were reviewed and approved by all relevant CWC directorates. https://www.siasat.com/three-key-irrigation-projects-for-telangana-get-central-nod-2468759/  (29 Nov. 2022)

Kerala Lost treasure in Banasura dam The gold deposits spots of Thariyode had been gobbled up by the Banasura Sagar Dam project and presently the Thairyode town is under water. But mankind is not going to get access to that treasure as gold mining could be done only after demolishing the Banasura Sagar Dam, which is the world’s second largest earthern dam. Moreover, thousands of acres of forest land should be decimated. And for obvious reasons both are near to impossible. https://www.onmanorama.com/travel/kerala/2022/11/25/wayanad-gold-deposit-mining-history.html  (26 Nov 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa Linking According to this report, 4000 ha compensatory afforestation land for Ken Betwa Link will be transferred to forest department next week, leading to displacement of 13 villages. https://www.patrika.com/chhatarpur-news/4-thousand-hectare-land-will-be-transferred-for-ken-betwa-link-7894498/  (29 Nov. 2022)

IRRIGATION

Gujarat Breaking, Leaking Canals in Kutch Wash Away Farmer Hopes In the past five months, at least, three canals either broke down or leaked in three villages of Mandvi—Rayan, Kedua and Birda.

Govind Ramani, one of the witnesses of the broken canal in the month of July right after testing at the spot in Bidra village narrating the incident. News Click

– In early hours of July 7, 2022, a month before it was to be inaugurated, the Kutch canal broke during the testing, flooding surrounding fields.

– During inauguration, PM Modi said people of Rayan are celebrating. However, the canal in Rayan village is leaking with farmers saying that the water is not accessible due to the lack of a proper pipeline. Rather than helping them, such canals have caused more damage, they allege.

– The most recent incident was reported on Monday (Nov. 28) with the canal in the Adesar Bhangera area of Mandvi breaking down completely, flooding the nearby fields. https://www.newsclick.in/gujarat-elections-breaking-leaking-canals-kutch-wash-farmer-hopes  (28 Nov. 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

Bring back wild and scenic rivers Venkatesh Dutta :-Can we have a few stretches of the rivers even in our cities which are truly scenic — not by ugly ‘concrete riverfronts’ but by naturalness?

-The US Congress passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968 and declared that “rivers that possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations”.

-Canada’s Heritage Rivers System (CHRS), started in 1984, is similar to the US Act. Similarly, wild and pristine rivers in New Zealand are protected by law for their scenic and recreational value as well as their role in maintaining habitat. However, such wild and scenic rivers in India are becoming things of the past. The water quality is deteriorating and the natural flow regime is compromised. Decreasing habitat quality in our rivers is a major contributor to declining biodiversity and altered ecological processes. https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/column/living-rivers/bring-back-wild-and-scenic-rivers/  (Dec. 2022)

Bengaluru Koramangala Challaghatta Watershed Koramangala Challaghatta (KC) watershed -Bengaluru’s technology hub, is one of the major watersheds of Bengaluru, occupying 35.5% of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Unfortunately, the lakes, streams, and their connectivity to the Dakshina Pinakini river are vanishing in the KC watershed due to encroachment and pollution. As a result, citizens have risen for the protection, conservation & rejuvenation of the lakes & streams.

The map shows the significantly altered urban hydrology, including the famed interconnected lake system. The lake area, lake custodian and current state of lake development is given. Lakes driven to extinction are identified and their current land use recorded.  Stressors such as Industrial Areas, Quarries & Sewage Treatment Plants are marked. https://paani.earth/regions/bengaluru_homepage/koramangala-challaghatta-watershed-homepage/  (Dec. 2022) https://paani.earth/regions/bengaluru_homepage/koramangala-challaghatta-watershed-homepage/koramangala-challaghatta-kc-watershed/

Buddha Dariya; Ludhiana Local Government Minister Inderbir Singh Nijjar said the state government has decided that a rejuvenation project of the Tung Dhab drain in Amritsar would be designed on the lines of Buddha Nullah. While focusing on various aspects to clean the Tung Dhab drain, Nijjar said the project should be divided into three parts for dealing with industrial, dairy and domestic waste separately.

The Cabinet Minister was apprised that 39 industries were situated along the 20-km drain passing through the city. Of these, 19 industries discharge 28 MLD polluted waste into the drain. Similarly, domestic sewerage of 17 villages is also being discharged into the drain. Besides, 176 dairies discharge about 550 KLD waste, throw livestock dung and other animal waste into the Tung Dhab drain. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/minister-rejuvenation-project-on-lines-of-buddha-nullah-for-tung-dhab-drain-454927  (26 Nov. 2022)

The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation carried out an anti-encroachment drive along the Buddha Nullah near Kundan Puri here on Monday (Nov. 21). Civic body officials claimed to have removed 22 encroachments — 15 ‘pucca’ (cemented) structures and seven temporary ones — during the drive.

The Rs 650-cr Buddha Nullah rejuvenation project is underway. The civic body had earlier also planned to construct a road along the nullah. In a survey conducted along the nullah, around 965 encroachments, under the jurisdiction of the MC, were identified. However, a number of encroachments are yet to be removed. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/ludhiana/22-encroachments-along-buddha-nullah-removed-by-civic-body-453393  (22 Nov. 2022)

MLA Madan Lal Bagga on Thursday (Nov. 10) directed municipal corporation (MC) officials to remove encroachments alongside buddha nullah in New Kundanpuri area to clear the path for construction of a road. Bagga, MC commissioner Shena Agarwal, MC additional commissioner Aaditya Dachalwal and other officials were inspecting ongoing projects under the Buddha Nullah rejuvenation project between from Haibowal puli and Shivpuri area.

MC has proposed construction of a road on the other side of the nullah starting from Chand Cinema Bridge and authorities need to remove the encroachments in the form of buildings to facilitate the project. Currently, the road has been constructed on one side of the nullah only.

With residents fumed over the slow pace of project to cover the Shivaji Nagar Nullah, MLA (Ludhiana Central) Ashok Prashar Pappi inspected the ongoing work and gave two-month ultimatum to the authorities to complete the project or face music. Apart from pulling up municipal corporation (MC) officials and the contractor, Prashar also criticised the PSPCL for delay in shifting the electricity poles and transformers due to which the contractor is unable to move forward with the project.

The project to cover around 1.4 -km-long stretch of the Shivaji Nullah, from Transport Nagar to Shingar cinema road, worth ₹17.85-crores was commenced in September 2020 with March 2022 deadline. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/remove-encroachments-along-buddha-nullah-in-ludhiana-101668109361454.html  (11 Nov. 2022)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog WMO Global Water Report asks for better & shared water data; reduced terrestrial water storage in North India On Nov 29, 2022, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has published its first State of Global Water Resources report to assess the effects of climate, environmental and societal change on the Earth’s water resources. The aim of this annual report is to support monitoring and management of global freshwater resources in an era of growing demand and limited supplies. For report and other related materials, see: https://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/water/state-of-global-water-resources

The first edition of the report looks at streamflow – the volume of water flowing through a river channel at any given time. It also assesses terrestrial water storage – all water on the land surface and sub-surface and the cryosphere (frozen water). The information and accompanying maps are largely based on modelled data (to achieve maximum geographical coverage) and remotely sensed information from NASA’s GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mission for terrestrial water storage. The modelled results were validated against observed data, wherever available). https://sandrp.in/2022/11/30/wmo-global-water-report-asks-for-better-shared-water-data-reduced-terrestrial-water-storage-in-north-india/  (30 Nov. 2022)

The report highlights the lack of accessible verified hydrological data. WMO’s Unified Data Policy seeks to accelerate the availability and sharing of hydrological data, including river discharge and transboundary river basins information.  https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/state-of-global-water-resources-report-informs-rivers-land-water-storage-and (19 Nov 2022)

Significant drop in volume of water in Ganga (Basin), flags WMO.   https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/significant-drop-in-volume-of-water-in-ganga-flags-wmo-101669744109683.html  (30 Nov. 2022)

IRF jury announces BPS & AMM 2022 awards In the final session of India Rivers Week on Nov 27, 2022 afternoon, the jury of the India Rivers Forum announced the Bhagirath Prayas Samman (BPS) awards for exemplary river conservation work to SCOPE (Kolkata) in Organisation category for work related to East Kolkata Wetlands and to Prof Venkatesh Dutta in individual category for work related to Gomti river in Uttar Pradesh.

The Anupam Mishra Medal 2022 for the exemplary media work on rivers was given to Dheeraj Mishra for his extensive river focussed work over the years. Chief Guest Justice (Retd) Madan Lokur of Supreme Court of India and all the attendees of India Rivers Forum congratulated the award winners for well-deserved recognition. Siddhart Agarwal conducted the award ceremony on behalf of IRF and Prof Amita Baviskar chaired the entire final session of IRF 2022. https://sandrp.in/2022/11/29/india-rivers-forum-jury-announces-bhagirath-prayas-samman-2022-awards-to-scope-kol-venkatesh-dutta-anupam-mishra-medal-2022-to-dheeraj-mishra/  (29 Nov. 2022)

BRAHMAPUTRA Arunachal Pradesh BB to implement anti-erosion project at Remi river The Brahmaputra Board (BB) – a technical department under the union Jal Shakti ministry – is all set to implement two anti-erosion projects worth Rs 50 crore at the Remi river in East Siang district. BB Vice Chairman Sher Singh, accompanied by the board’s Itanagar Regional Office Head Gamno Kamki and EE Migo Basar on Tuesday (Nov. 29) visited the proposed project sites along the Remi river between Mirem and Oyan villages in Ruksin circle of East Siang district.

The proposed project is aimed at protecting fertile croplands and public properties from flood and soil erosion caused by the Remi river. It covers several vulnerable portions at Mirem, Miglung, Remi and Yeken Piigo (Oyan) along the river. “The project may be approved soon after the CWC’s meeting to be held early next month. Experts from the CWC have designed the anti-erosion project, which is composed of both technical and traditional methods,” he said.

In January last year, a team of BB engineers had conducted a technical survey on the Remi riverbed, following identified strategic locations at Sibe-Raglong (Mirem), the Miglung bridge point, the trijunction of the Marbang, Minggo and Remi rivers near the Remi RCC bridge, and Yeken-Piigo (Oyan), within a 14-km stretch.

The Remi river causes flooding on both sides of its banks every year during monsoon. It has already swallowed several acres of cropland and horticulture gardens in Pasighat West area. The river meets the Siang river at Oiramghat portion in downstream Assam. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/11/30/bputra-board-to-implement-anti-erosion-project-at-remi-river/  (30 Nov. 2022)

SUTLEJ Himachal Pradesh Despite ban, trash piles up along river banks Though the Palampur Municipal Corporation is paying Rs 21 lakh per month for the collection and segregation of garbage from 15 wards to different contractors, waste is being dumped on the banks of the Neugal. Moreover, the waste is not being segregated at the dumping site.

The Palampur MC was formed two years ago. However, in the absence of a political and administrative will, it has failed to set up a garbage treatment plant. Even three mini-garbage treatment plants taken over by the MC from panchayats have also become defunct. In the absence of a garbage disposal facility, the MC is dumping its unsegregated waste along the banks of the Neugal, which is also a source of drinking water in the lower areas of Palampur.

Despite public protests, the MC has not initiated any steps for the scientific handling of garbage collected from the town and its satellite areas. The NGT and the SPCB have imposed a ban on the dumping of garbage in the state and had directed all MCs to focus on waste segregation, still there is no check on it. Last year, the HPPCB had imposed a fine of Rs 7 lakh to the Baijnath MC for dumping garbage in the Binwa river.

MC Commissioner Vikram Mahajan said a proposal on the setting up of a waste treatment plant was pending with the Urban Development Department, Shimla. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/despite-ban-trash-piles-up-along-river-banks-in-himachal-pradesh-455489  (28 Nov. 2022)

GANGA Study Bacteriophages could help against infection A certain type of bacteria-eating virus, known as bacteriophage that breeds in the Ganga water has been found more effective in treating severe human infections than some current antibiotics in an AIIMS research. The researchers felt the new bacteriophage was going to be the best replacement for the currently available antibiotic drugs that have lost their potency in treating blood stream, urinary tract infection, severe burns, surgical sites infections, and lung infections like pneumoniae, bed sores and diabetic foot ulcers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/ganga-bacteria-could-help-against-infections-aiims-research/articleshow/95947272.cms  (03 Dec. 2022)

YAMUNA Haryana Najafgarh drain pollution, NGT seeks urgent remedies The tribunal’s observations followed an acknowledgement by the SPCB about sewage finding its way into the stormwater drain. In its report, the board noted that 43.4 MLD sewage from Gurugram is getting into the Najafgarh drain through three ‘legs’ (drains) – 6.6 MLD from Leg I, 6.75 MLD from Leg II & 30.05 MLD from Leg III.

A committee formed by the tribunal to determine the extent of sewage from Gurugram polluting the drain, meanwhile, reported that all the effluents carried by three drains is accumulating at the confluence of Najafgarh drain – where the lake is located – inundating large tracts of land.

There are 5 STPs at Behrampur and Dhanwapur that treat sewage generated in the city. Capacity isn’t a problem, going by the numbers. The STPs can together treat 388 MLD. They receive 330 MLD for treatment. But the report pointed out that treated water at the STPs did not have the desired levels of BOD. The HSPCB said it had issued a notice to the GMDA about the STPs not meeting standards.

A GMDA official told TOI its STPs were functioning fine. Rajesh Bansal, chief engineer, GMDA, said, “At present, the capacity of STPs to handle the present discharge is sufficient. “The next hearing in this case is on December 7. The NGT is hearing a petition filed by Rao Satvir Singh, a Gurugram resident. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/sewage-in-najafgarh-drain-ngt-seeks-remedy-on-a-war-footing/articleshow/95923879.cms  (02 Dec. 2022)

Faridabad Rs 200-cr project to end water woes A Rs 200 crore water supply augmentation plan has been unveiled for the city. The Faridabad Metropolitan Development Agency (FMDA) has proposed to construct storage tanks in the shape of ponds in the bed of the Yamuna river, which passes through the eastern fringe of the district, to tackle the problem of water shortage in the city. Revealing that there is a need of harvesting water that goes waste in many villages located in the vicinity of the Yamuna river during the rainy season, an official of the FMDA said the issue was discussed in length and breadth and it was concluded that a plan be made to have dependable sources of water supply during the lean season. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/200-cr-project-to-end-water-woes-457190  (03 Dec. 2022)

Noida 30 illegal farmhouses in floodplain demolished The Noida Authority on Wednesday (Nov. 30) demolished as many as 30 illegally constructed farmhouses in Sector-151 of Noida in Kondli Bangar village in the submergence area (River bed) of the Yamuna River. Due to the demolition of the unauthorised properties, about 1,20,000 square meters of land with an estimated worth of about Rs 40 crore was freed from encroachment. Taking a serious note of the indiscriminate construction of unauthorised and illegal colonies/farmhouses in the River Bed of Yamuna and Hindon rivers located under the notified area of Noida, the Chief Executive Officer has decided to demolish such unauthorised constructions and take action against land mafia, a press release in Hindi said. https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/noida-authority-demolishes-30-farmhouses-that-were-illegally-built-in-yamuna-river-bed-article-95910483  (01 Dec. 2022)

SAND MINING

Bihar The sand laden trucks creating upto 14 km long jam on Patna to Aara-Chhapra road. This usual scene here on four lane highway. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/bihar/patna/news/left-only-one-way-to-transport-sand-result-14-km-forelane-in-possession-of-trucks-since-5-years-130635001.html  (02 Dec. 2022) https://www.bhaskar.com/local/bihar/patna/ara/news/tragedy-due-to-jam-of-sand-vehicles-on-ara-chhapra-four-lane-129755723.html  (July 2022)

Meghalaya ADE raises concern over illegal mining in SGH The Association for Democracy and Empowerment (ADE), Rongara has raised strong objections against the construction company tasked with the construction of the Ranikor-Baghmara two-laning road, after it was found that the company was illegally mining sand from the river banks in the South Garo Hills (SGH) district. In a complaint to the deputy commissioner of the district, the pressure group provided conclusive proof of the company using heavy machines at two river sites in the district to illegally extract sand and stone gravel. Videos of the same acts were also provided.

The road construction of the highway is being undertaken by two construction companies — Narendra Sharma Construction (NSC) and Niddhi Creative Infrastructure Limited (NCIL). The construction of the Ranikor-Baghmara road began in 2021. The damage caused on the two river banks — Rongdi River near Rongara and Mahadev River near Mahadeo — by the illegal acts of the company was identified by ADE.

“They are using small, medium, and heavy machines to extract the materials from the river sites. These are being done without following due process and in complete violation of the laws. We have met the DC to inform him of the issue and have asked to take action against the company (s) involved in the act,” informed ADE president for its Rongara regional unit, Xenyan D Sangma. Sangma added that such acts were causing irreversible damage to the river and environment. “It is also against the law as river beds are out of the purview of mining activities,” he added. A copy of the complaint has also been forwarded to the director of Balpakram National Park and the DFO of SGH, Baghmara Division. https://www.eastmojo.com/meghalaya/2022/11/27/meghalaya-ade-raises-concern-over-illegal-sand-mining-in-south-garo-hills/  (27 Nov. 2022)

Odisha Man Killed By Miscreants Over Sand Mining A man died and another was critically injured in an attack by unidentified miscreants at Jaripada panchayat within Tangi police station limits on Sunday (Oct. 23). According to sources, police suspect the murderous attack on the duo was a fallout of a suspected dispute over sand mining from the Birupa river bed in the Tangi-Choudwar tehsil area. The deceased man has been identified as Bhusan Mohanty alias Happy, a native of Balichandrapur, who was living with his family in his uncle’s house at Jaripada.

On Sunday (Oct. 23) afternoon, Happy and his aide were sitting in a sweet shop on Gobindpur road, on the side of National Highway 16. Suddenly, some young men arrived in an SUV and attacked the duo with sharp weapons. Happy sustained fatal injuries in the attack and died while being taken to the hospital while his critically injured accomplice is undergoing treatment at the Cuttack SCB MCH. According to sources, some mafia had previous enmity with the deceased Happy over the lifting of sand from the ghat. It has been found that while Happy has previous criminal records, other criminal groups are suspected to have involvement in his murder. https://pragativadi.com/man-killed-another-critical-in-attack-by-miscreants-over-sand-mining/  (23 Oct. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Ban heavy machine use for sand mining, allow manual methods Urging the State government to stop quarrying sand from Vaippar river using heavy machines, activists petitioned District Collector Dr K Senthil Raj on Monday (Nov. 14).  “Quarrying by large machines and transporting by lorries has evidently depleted the natural wealth of the river ecosystem in the State, which will be a desert soon if it continues. Manual quarrying, however, should be allowed as river sand is the major source of raw material for the construction industry. The quarried sand can then be transported through bullock carts to the nearby stockyard,” said activist Gandhi Mallar. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/nov/15/ban-heavy-machine-use-for-sand-mining-allow-manual-methods-2518276.html  (15 Nov. 2022)

Chhattisgarh 7 killed as part of limestone mine collapses in Bastar’s Maalgaon village Seven people — including six women — were killed after some portion of a limestone mine collapsed on them at their village in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh on Friday (Dec. 02), PTI quoted police as saying. The incident took place in Maalgaon village under Nagarnar police station area, around 12 km away from Jagdalpur, the headquarter of the district, a police official said. “The victims were digging soil in the mine when a part of it caved in, due to which they got trapped under the debris,” he said. As per the preliminary information, only seven people were digging the soil but the rescue work is still under way, he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/chhattisgarh-7-killed-while-extracting-limestone-in-bastar-district/articleshow/95938219.cms  (02 Dec. 2022)

Image source: Bhaiyaji News

बस्तर के मालगांव छुई खदान में मिट्टी धंसने की वजह से पांच से ज्यादा ग्रामीणों की मौत हो गई है. जबकि 3 ग्रामीण गंभीर रूप से घायल हैं. ग्रामीण पास के ही सरकारी जमीन पर छुई मिट्टी निकालने के लिए मुरूम खदान गए हुए थे. जहां मिट्टी धंसने से यह हादसा हुआ.  इसके नीचे करीब 9 लोग दब गए. खुदाई के दौरान ही एक और महिला मौजूद थी. जिसने गांव वालों को इसकी जानकारी दी. जिसके बाद गांव वालों ने पुलिस को इसकी सूचना दी. जिसके बाद मौके पर पहुंची पुलिस और SDRF की टीम ने मलबे में दबे 9 लोगों को 3 घंटे की रेस्क्यू ऑपरेशन कर बाहर निकाला. https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/chhattisgarh/state/bastar/mine-collapse-in-chhattisgarh-bastar-villagers-died-in-digging-limestone-malgaon-of-bastar/ct20221203102432023023729  (03 Dec. 2022)

इस खदान में अवैध उत्खनन का काम चल रहा था। गांव के कुछ लोग खदान के नीच उतरकर मिट्टी निकाल रहे तभी अचानक जमीन धंस गई। वहां नीचे मौजूद लोग दब गए। पास में ही खड़े अन्य मजदूरों ने इसकी जानकारी फौरन प्रशासन को दी। मालगांव में जिस जगह पर हादसा हुआ है वहां पर ग्रामीणों ने मुरुम खोद कर करीब 10 फीट लंबी सुरंग बना दी थी। अंदर से रोज छुई मिट्टी निकालते थे। शुक्रवार की दोपहर भी गांव वाले मिट्टी निकाल रहे थे। इस दौरान अचानक मिट्टी धंस गई। जिससे अंदर मौजूद ग्रामीण फंस गए और उनकी मौत हो गई।

मालगांव में शासकीय भूमि पर अवैध रूप से छुई मिट्टी निकालने उत्खनन जारी था। इलाके के लोग रोजाना यहां से मिट्टी निकालकर अपने घरेलू काम के लिए लेते थे। ऐसा बताया जा रहा है कि, इस जगह पर करीब सालभर से छुई मिट्टी निकालने का काम जारी था। इसकी जानकारी प्रशासन को भी नहीं थी। इस हादसे के बाद ग्रामीणों को खनन करने के लिए मना कर दिया गया है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/chhattisgarh/bastar/jagdalpur/news/5-women-and-1-man-among-the-dead-more-people-likely-to-be-trapped-rescue-continues-130633388.html  (02 Dec. 2022) https://bhaiyajinews.com/news/52987/breaking-murum-mine-collapses-in-bastar-7-workers-killed-rescue-operation-continues/ ; https://www.deshdigital.in/chattisgarh/bastar/seven-laborers-died-due-to-mine-collapse-in-bastar/

Haryana NGT panel lists 38 illegal mining sites in Aravalis In its report submitted to the NGT on Nov 26, a committee set up on the directions of the NGT has listed 38 illegal mining sites in the Aravalis of Gurgaon and Nuh based on a study of FIRs filed over the years. The panel of 8 members inspected 22 of these sites this month, of which 15 had mining leases till 2002 — when the Supreme Court had first ordered a ban on the activity within 5km from Delhi’s borders. In seven other locations, rocks were hacked off without any lease for mining. The panel will visit the remaining sites in the coming days.

Of the inspected sites, three of them showed fresh traces of mining that may just be a few days old. At the others, excavation had been carried out over the past three years. “…signs of tractors (tracks), and some broken stones were found,” the report said. The committee was formed after the NGT on May 23 directed the forest department, mining department, state pollution control department, and the administrations of Faridabad, Gurgaon and Nuh to take steps for preventing illegal mining in the Aravalis.

In the report, the panel also pointed out that restoration of hills that had been “shaved vertically was not possible”. For mined areas left with slanted slopes, it suggested ways to naturally revive the forest by fencing the region and sowing seeds of plants native to the Aravalis. The panel said administrations should take into account availability of raw material and sources before issuing new licences to stone crushing units within a region.

Among measures taken to check mining, the panel told NGT, a special police unit called the ‘Anti Vehicle Theft Crime and Mining Staff, Nuh’ had been formed to monitor and scan for any signs of illegal mining at the sites listed. “Bare rock faces at these sites have been painted, marked and highlighted”, so that any new instances of mining are identified, the report added.

Rampant stone quarrying in south Haryana was thrust into the spotlight this July, when Tauru DSP Surender Singh Bishnoi was run over by a dumper truck as he tried to stop illegal mining in Pachgaon, Nuh. According to this year’s data, 81 vehicles were seized in Gurgaon for illegal mining, and Rs 75 lakh imposed in penalties. In Nuh, 93 vehicles were seized and Rs 34 lakh slapped as fines.

The Supreme Court had first banned mining within 5km of Delhi in 2002. Seven years later, it observed widespread damage to the Aravalis and imposed a blanket ban on mining in Gurgaon, Nuh and Faridabad. Environmentalists stress on the need to protect the hill range that spans across Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/ngt-panel-lists-38-illegal-mining-sites-in-aravalis/articleshow/95899702.cms  (01 Dec. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Jammu & Kashmir Hygam wetland on verge of extinction, courtesy govt apathy Detailed and informative report on Hygam wetlands a renowned bird sanctuary spread over 802 hectares, declared a Ramsar site in August 2022, important habitat for migratory water birds in Central Asian Flyway, part of Wullar system and Jhelum floodplains  in Baramulla district is succumbing to govt apathy. 

However, in absence of a regulation, Hygam has been considerably encroached upon and converted into a land for paddy cultivation over the last two decades. Special arrangement/Greater Kashmir

The main factors are excessive habitat destruction, pollution, and heavy human interference. Citing Kashmir’s “geomorphic setup”, experts said that in view of its flat topography, Kashmir is highly vulnerable to flooding, but most wetlands, which acted as reservoirs of floodwaters, have lost their carrying capacity due to haphazard urbanisation and encroachments.

In September this year, the High Court had sought a report on the status and present position of wetlands included in Ramsar Sites in J&K from the government and also directed the Union Ministry of Environment to submit the Action Taken Report (ATR) on the issue. The court has made it clear that the importance of preservation of wetlands and water bodies cannot be sufficiently emphasised as well as the need to set up a regulatory mechanism for all wetlands to maintain their ecological character and ultimately support their integrated management in the three regions of J&K.

As per the recent report of the Government of India, J&K has lost 2372 kanal of wetlands. Over 120 hectares (2372 kanal) of wetland were lost in J&K between 2006-07 and 2017-18, according to a report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), a Department of the GoI concerned with the coverage and quality of statistics. As a result, the total number of wetlands decreased from 404 in 2006-07 to 403 in 2017-18, a decrease of one wetland. This brought the total amount of wetlands down from 1,64,230 hectares in 2006-07 to 1,64,110 hectares in 2017-18. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/vanishing-wetlands-pristine-hygam-wetland-on-verge-of-extinction-courtesy-govt-apathy  (29 Nov. 2022)

Uttarakhand Nainital gets some High Court relief but fingers crossed After 19 months, work at Nainital’s Sukhatal Lake came to a halt last week when the Uttarakhand High Court — acting on a PIL against the government’s beautification plan that allegedly involved laying a layer of concrete on the lake bed — asked for all construction activities at the lake to be suspended till further orders. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/choking-sukhatal-lake-nainital-gets-some-high-court-relief-but-fingers-crossed-8297039/  (30 Nov. 2022)

Romola Butalia:- The hydrological significance of Sukhatal as a recharge zone for Naini Lake is a scientifically established fact. The underground aquifer and lake provide drinking water to Nainital, annually equivalent to the total volume of the Naini Lake, which has repeatedly reached below-minimum level since 2010. Construction of a permanent lake means that during monsoons, runoff from the Sukhatal catchment towards Naini Lake will contribute to its flooding. The overflow drains through Balia Nala, an extremely landslide-prone zone. https://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/voices/2022/dec/04/when-despair-becomes-hope-2524122.html  (04 Dec. 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Ramachandra’s rainfall records. Photo by Abhishek N. Chinnappa/Mongabay India

Karnataka Making sense of rainfall changes in coffee estates through old records Climate change-induced weather events are impacting Karnataka’s coffee farms, testing the resilience of farmers. Karnataka coffee farmers keep meticulous rainfall records that are helping individual and organisational attempts at studying climate change. Farmers are trying to adapt to changes in rainfall patterns, first investing in sprinklers and now in coffee driers. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/12/making-sense-of-rainfall-changes-in-karnatakas-coffee-estates-through-old-records/  (01 Dec. 2022)

Hyderabad Revived Bansilalpet stepwell in Secunderabad to open on Dec 5 The 17th-century Bansilalpet stepwell in Secunderabad which has been restored to its original glory will be inaugurated on December 5 by MAUD Minister KT Rama Rao. The State government with the cooperation of various departments has brought back the past glory of the ancient stepwell that lay in ruins. What began a year ago as the revival of the stepwell, also known as Nagannakunta, has now changed completely. The Bansilalpet stepwell had been neglected for decades, left in a dilapidated condition and filled with debris and garbage.

The newly-renovated Bansilalpet stepwell in Secunderabad. Jwala/TNIE

Restoration of the stepwell began with cleaning, dewatering, and desilting the well, structural strengthening of retaining walls, rebuilding and finishing works etc. The well has an annual rainwater harvesting potential of 30-35 lakh litres. The Rainwater Project, an organization involved in several water management-related projects in the city, is involved in the restoration work of the Bansilalpet stepwell. Around 2,000 tonnes of garbage, silt and debris accumulated over the past four decades has been removed from the well and restoration began. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2022/dec/03/revived-bansilalpet-stepwell-in-secunderabad-to-open-on-dec-5-2524531.html  (03 Dec. 2022)

Chennai An infiltration system to solve silting, flooding & restore gw A German technology using a polymer-based infiltration system has proved to be effective in reducing flooding and water stagnation and replenishing the groundwater. The system, a successful experiment conducted by the Greater Chennai Corporation, is currently in use at Besant Nagar. According to R.R. Sivaraam, rainwater harvesting consultant, the infiltration system is a sustainable solution for recharging groundwater that minimises the impact of urban development on the hydrological system.

The infiltration system to silt floodwater and replinish groundwater is used in Besant Nagar, Chennai, as a pilot project. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement/The Hindu

By using filters and eco-blocks, the system is able to filter the silt in rainwater and replenish groundwater. During heavy rain, excess water is discharged to a nearby waterbody or the ocean. “We first saw the success of this system near the Vadapalani temple tank and are excited about its prospects here as well,” Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/an-infiltration-system-that-may-solve-silting-flooding-and-restore-groundwater/article66170223.ece  (22 Nov. 2022)

Punjab State to use tertiary treated water for irrigation: Hayer Cabinet minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer on Dec 1 2022 said the Punjab government will ensure the use of tertiary treated water from STPs having a capacity of 2,600 MLD for irrigation to save the fast-depleting groundwater across the state. The water treated by the Phagwara STP, having a capacity of 28 MLD, is being used to irrigate 1,000 acres with the help of an 11-km pipeline laid by the water conservation department, saving nearly 7,500 million litres of groundwater. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/punjab-to-use-tertiary-treated-water-for-irrigation-hayer-101669906048224.html  (01 Dec. 2022)

Report A plant-based hydrogel to help farmers tackle water scarcity An eco-friendly hydrogel made from plant cellulose has been developed by scientists of Tripura University with support from the Ministry of Environment. The hydrogel that has the ability to absorb, hold and release water when required by the crops, hopes to help farmers mitigate the problem of water scarcity in agriculture. https://en.gaonconnection.com/a-plant-based-hydrogel-to-help-farmers-tackle-water-scarcity-in-the-face-of-climate-change/  (12 Aug. 2021)

GROUNDWATER

Punjab While flagging Punjab’s dwindling groundwater level, a state Cabinet minister called its residents bewakoof (stupid) for sowing only rice and wheat. He apologised later. Minister for Conservation of Land and Water Inderbir Singh Nijjar said: “We have been pushing farmers to grow wheat and rice for long. There is no one more stupid than us Punjabis.” He said: “By growing rice, Punjab is becoming a desert. The government is doing its bit, but we have a limited budget and we cannot give everything to one occupation. Ask them (he pointed towards farmers) also to be sensitive to Punjab’s water problems.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/jalandhar/minister-says-punjabis-bewakoof-for-sowing-only-rice-and-wheat-8299248/  (01 Dec. 2022)

Karnataka Groundwater extraction has risen in 2022: report “There is marginal increase in the current annual groundwater extraction for all uses from 10.63 BCM (billion cubic meters) in 2020 to 11.22 BCM in 2022 in Karnataka. Hence, the stage of groundwater extraction has increased from 64.85 per cent in 2020 to 69.93 per cent in 2022,” said the report titled, ‘Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India-2022’. The report, prepared by the Central Ground Water Board in the Jal Shakti Ministry, said that as compared to 2020 assessment, there was decrease in annual groundwater recharge in 2022 from 18.16 BCM to 17.74 BCM, and annual extractable groundwater resources from 16.40 BCM to 16.04 BCM. “This is mainly due to a decrease in recharge due to surface water irrigation and groundwater irrigation,” the report said.

Out of the 234 assessment units (taluks) in Karnataka, 49 units (20.94 per cent) have been categorized as ‘Over Exploited’, 11 units (4.70 per cent) as ‘Critical’, 35 units (14.96 per cent) as ‘Semi Critical’ and 139 units (59.40 per cent) have been categorized as ‘Safe’. Kolar, Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Chikkaballapur, Chitradurga and Chamarajanagar districts have been categorised as over-exploited, where the groundwater extraction is more than 100 per cent against annual extractable groundwater resources.  Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Ballari and Kalaburagi districts have been categorised as lowest when it comes to groundwater extraction, which are between 32 per cent to 40 per cent against the annual extractable groundwater resources. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/groundwater-extraction-has-risen-in-karnataka-in-2022-report-1164578.html  (22 Nov. 2022)

URBAN WATER

Gurugram Udyog Vihar, Chakkarpur & Nathupur have GW levels  An ongoing survey by the irrigation department has found that the water table is at 115.9 metres below ground level in the industrial area of Udyog Vihar, far below the city’s average depth of 37.72 metres. It was 112.7 metres in 2020. The strain on aquifers is also visible in the villages of Chakkarpur (74.75m this year, from 73.65m in 2020) and Nathupur (from 60m two years ago to 60.6m now). So far, the survey has found out of 162 villages where the water table was studied, 104 are in the ‘red zone’, which means a level beyond 30m. The reasons, according to the authorities, range from urbanisation, excessive extraction of groundwater for construction purposes, industrial activities and excessive use of illegal borewells in urban slums.

This is the first time that the water table is being mapped village-wise. The exercise to collect village groundwater data as well as rainfall data is being conducted under the Centre’s Atal Bhujal Yojana, a groundwater management scheme launched by the Centre in 2019. As the city has very limited sources of surface water, the overall groundwater table has been going down every year. Industries and slums are illegally extracting groundwater at a faster rate than these areas are able to recharge it. According to the authorities, there is large-scale extraction of groundwater by industries in Udyog Vihar, mostly by textile units. Moreover, there is no mechanism in place to check how much water is being extracted. Overexploitation could make the area underneath the surface unstable.

According to the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), Gurgaon has been in the ‘dark zone’ – an area where groundwater depletion exceeds recharging – since 2008. Asked what the Haryana Water Research Authority (HWRA) plans to reduce the depletion, its chairperson Keshni Anand Arora said, “For Gurgaon, we are focusing on increasing rainwater harvesting structures in city areas. District administration has been asked to ensure that water is recycled and used in industries and horticulture.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/why-udyog-vihar-chakkarpur-nathupur-have-the-worst-groundwater-levels-in-gurugram/articleshow/95869753.cms  (30 Nov. 2022)  

Mohali Panchayat land worth Rs 500-crore ‘grabbed’ by realtors in Mohali According to a list prepared by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, 54 chunks of panchayat land measuring around 80 acres and valued at around Rs 500 crore in around 35 villages of Mohali district have been grabbed by real estate projects. The land mainly pertains to paths and water channels, which once connected agriculture fields and were owned by panchayats.

As per the policy on mega projects, the land should have been acquired by the government for developers and the revenue generated from the acquired land should have gone to the panchayats. The money was to be utilised for the development of the villages concerned. However, the issue has been hanging fire for almost a decade and a half now.

The land is in the possession of mainly 20 companies. These include TDI, Preet Land Pvt Ltd, Wave Estates, Janta Land Promoters, Ansal API, Manohar Construction Company, Omaxe Chandigarh Extension Developers, Puma Realtors Pvt Ltd and Ansal Housing and Construction. One of the main companies in the possession of panchayat land is Janta Land Promoters Ltd. Various projects of the company, owned by the AAP MLA from Mohali, Kulwant Singh, have around 15 acres of panchayat land in their possession. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/panchayat-land-worth-rs-500-cr-grabbed-by-realtors-in-mohali-456381  (01 Dec. 2022)

Tamil Nadu KfW supports India with EUR 500 million for sustainable urban development On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), KfW signed a EUR 500 million loan agreement with the Indian Ministry of Finance today for sustainable and climate-resilient urban development in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The funds are passed on to the municipalities of the state via the Tamil Nadu Urban Development Fund (TNUDF). The states then use these funds to implement projects to improve the climate resilience of urban infrastructure. These include water supply and waste water disposal projects, improved waste management, the construction of rainwater channels, energy-efficient street lighting and parks. https://reliefweb.int/report/india/prepared-climate-change-kfw-supports-india-eur-500-million-sustainable-urban-development  (30 Nov. 2022)

Hyderabad City to have 31 STPs for 100% STP by next year: KTR Come April, Hyderabad will be the first city to treat 100 per cent of sewage generated in the city as 31 sewerage treatment plants are nearing completion. These are being taken up with an outlay of Rs.3,866 crore and will have a capacity of 1,258 MLD, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister KT Rama Rao said here on Tuesday (Nov. 28). https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabad-to-have-31-stps-for-100-percent-sewage-treatment-by-next-year-ktr  (29 Nov. 2022)

The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) will soon be introducing an updated version of its Citizens App that the Water Board promises would be more user-friendly since it has been designed to understand consumer needs, meet consumer expectations and enhance digital engagement.

The existing app has not been as popular as the Water Board expected as it is considered to be obsolete and not user-friendly. The existing app was designed based on functionality without considering user experience or interface. While the Water Board has around 13 lakh consumers, hardly 45,000 to 50,000 use the existing app. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2022/dec/04/water-board-to-introduce-new-user-friendly-app-2524838.html  (04 Dec. 2022)

Chennai Residents can test water samples at new lab Residents and commercial establishments may now test the quality of water on their premises at Chennai Metrowater’s new laboratory in Kilpauk. The lab that has come up at a cost of ₹7 crore, was recently inaugurated by the CM. The water agency checks the quality of about 600 water samples in the city, daily. Households will be charged ₹75, while apartment complexes and commercial establishments will be charged ₹200 to check the quality of their water, a press release said https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-residents-can-now-test-water-samples-at-metrowaters-new-lab/article66209358.ece  (01 Dec. 2022)

Bengaluru Busiest shopping area drowning in sewage The BWSSB official in-charge of the area said pipelines on the road were narrow and work to replace them will begin in a week. “Pipes are either 150 mm or 175 mm in diameter. We have decided to replace them with 300 mm diameter pipes,” said Chennappaji, assistant executive engineer, BWSSB. He blamed the situation on delays in getting road-cutting permission from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). He also urged people not to dump garbage into the sewage line. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/bengalurus-busiest-shopping-area-drowning-in-sewage-and-traders-are-hopeless-1167611.html  (02 Dec. 2022)

WATER POLLUTION

Manipur NGT imposes Rs 200 cr fine for improper waste management The bench said it is high time the state realised its duty to the law and to citizens and adopts further monitoring at its own level. Compliance with environmental norms on the subject of waste management has to be on high on priority, the bench said. The tribunal said the first change required is to set up a centralised single window mechanism for planning, capacity building and monitoring of waste management at the state level. It should be headed by an officer of the rank of Additional Chief Secretary with representation from the departments of Urban Development, Rural Development, Environment and Forest, Agriculture, Water Resources, Fisheries and Industries, the tribunal said.

Fixing accountability of the state authorities for the gap in sewage generation and treatment along with the gap in solid waste management, the tribunal said, we levy compensation of Rs 200 crores on the state on the polluter pays principle for its failure in scientifically managing the liquid and solid waste. The amount may be kept in a ring-fenced account to be operated as per directions of the Chief Secretary, the tribunal added. The funds available for solid waste management can be utilised for setting up solid waste processing facilities, remediation of legacy waste and setting up of STPs and Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSSTPs), the green panel said.

Moreover, there are better alternatives to utilise the wet waste for composting at appropriate locations and the scale of expenditure for STPs may be reviewed in the light of realistic expenses involved in decentralised or traditional systems, it added. The NGT also directed six monthly progress reports with verifiable progress to be filed by the Chief Secretary before it. https://nenow.in/north-east-news/manipur/national-green-tribunal-imposes-rs-200-crore-fine-on-manipur-for-improper-waste-management.html  (03 Dec. 2022)

Karnataka Trash Spoils Serene KRS Backwaters The day-long campaign was launched by Yuva Brigade Mysuru and the students of NIE-IT and they collected thousands of liquor and beer bottles, trash, food waste, paper and plastic plates from the beautiful backwaters of Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam at Meenakshipura that has been converted into a place to dump waste by picnic-goers and party freaks. The cleaning task yielded one tractor-load of waste and another truckload of empty liquor and beer bottles.

Star of Mysore

Meenakshipura is a favourite picnic spot where people come from far and wide to chill out in the water and also on the riverbank. Due to unregulated tourism here, waste is indiscriminately and carelessly dumped at all places. Local residents say that while the KRS Reservoir provides water for irrigation and drinking purposes, the backwater remains unutilised and has turned into a haven for illegal activities. “The grand plans of the govt to utilise the backwaters for tourism activities like water sports have not materialised so far. There are islands in backwaters with strong tourism potential,” said a resident. https://starofmysore.com/after-party-trash-spoils-serene-krs-backwaters/  (28 Nov. 2022)

Punjab NGT seeks factual report on Sidhwan canal pollution Within days of a group of residents moving the NGT over rising pollution in Sidhwan canal, the tribunal has constituted a joint committee comprising officials of the irrigation department, Punjab Pollution Control Board, Ludhiana district magistrate and executive engineer of Sidhwan canal wing. The committee has been directed to submit a factual report on the matter.

Issuing directions, the bench said, “The report shall highlight factual status on waste lying along the banks of canal in question, extent of encroachments and areas demarcated on both sides of the canal as no activity zone and the action taken by the authorities concerned, if any.” The case is now listed for further consideration on February 3. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/ngt-forms-joint-panel-seeks-factual-report-on-sidhwan-canal-pollution/articleshow/95842977.cms  (29 Nov. 2022)

School challaned for burning waste inside canal The Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, imposed a challan of Rs 25,000 on Guru Nanak Public School (GNPS), Sarabha Nagar, for allegedly burning garbage in the Sidhwan Canal near BRS Nagar-Sarabha Nagar bridge, here on Thursday (Dec. 01). As a lot of waste has accumulated in the canal, the school authorities sent a group of students and teachers into the canal to conduct a cleanliness drive. Later, the waste was set on fire. Though the canal was dry as the water was not being released these days, the school reportedly did not take any permission from the district administration to send the students and staff to enter the canal for a cleanliness drive. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/ludhiana/school-challaned-for-burning-waste-inside-canal-456826  (02 Dec. 2022)

WATER

Gujarat Clean Drinking Water a Far-fetched Dream for Village In the rest of India, when people visit their relatives, they take chocolates, biscuits, or sweets for the kids and the family. In Khoda, the story is different. It is probably one of the few villages, where the guests bring mineral water for their families who otherwise are exposed to extremely harmful water – strictly prohibited for human use. In the state that promises a development model to the world, and advertises double income for farmers, villagers of Khoda still search for their turn to have clean drinking water this Assembly election.  https://www.newsclick.in/gujarat-elections-clean-drinking-water-far-fetched-dream-village-north-gujarat  (03 Dec. 2022)

AGRICULTURE

To ensure that sugarcane reaches a height of at least seven feet before another flood, farmers are increasing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. PARI

Maharashtra Floods taking a toll on mental health Tenant farmers and agricultural labourers in Kolhapur district are struggling with mental health issues as excessive rainfall and flooding repeatedly destroy their crops and livelihoods. https://ruralindiaonline.org/en/articles/we-are-drowning-in-the-fear-of-floods/  (30 Nov. 2022)

FLOOD 2022

Mullaperiyar dam Tamil Nadu issues first warning as dam level touches 140 ft Tamil Nadu issued the first warning on Saturday (Dec.03) evening with the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam reaching 140 ft. The upper rule level was 142 ft till November 30, as per the present rule curve for the dam. The warning was issued by the Tamil Nadu assistant engineer. As per a Supreme Court order, the maximum storage level of the dam is 142 ft. Tamil Nadu has been drawing water at 511 cusecs from the dam, while the average inflow was 2,934 cusecs at 7 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 03). https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tamil-nadu-issues-first-warning-as-mullaperiyar-dam-level-touches-140-ft/article66219411.ece  (03 Dec. 2022)

URBAN FLOODS

Hyderabad 18 SNDP works taken up to revamp storm-water drains To address the issue of urban flooding in and around the city, the Telangana government had earlier accorded an administrative sanction for an amount of Rs 985.45 crore under SNDP Phase-I, which is aimed at revamp the storm-water drain network in GHMC limits jurisdiction and its surrounding Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). Among them, while 35 works with Rs. 737.45 crores were proposed in GHMC limits, 21 works with Rs 248 crores were proposed in the ULBs outside GHMC.

“In the GHMC area, while 18 works will be completed by December, another 13 works will be completed by January or latest by February and the target is to complete the entire SNDP projects by March,” officials said. Meanwhile, the GHMC is also executing desilting works at the existing storm-water drains to ensure the free flow of water during downpours and monsoon season.

The total length of storm-water drains maintained by GHMC is 1,302 km and during the year 2021-22, a total of 356 desilting works were taken-up with a cost of Rs 44.45 crore. To date, over 4.6 lakh cubic metres of silt has been removed from open drains and nalas, officials added. https://telanganatoday.com/18-sndp-works-taken-up-to-revamp-storm-water-drains-in-hyderabad  (29 Nov. 2022)

LANDSLIDES

Uttarakhand The Sinking Feeling in Joshimath Joshimath has both religious and tourist significance. But several villages in the area are slowly subsiding, say the local villagers and scientists who have studied the region. Houses have developed cracks making it highly unsafe for people to live in them. Maximum subsidence is observed in the wards of Ravigram, Gandhinagar and Sunil, and thousands of people may be displaced. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/joshimath-landslides-sinking-land-uttarakhand-construction-sustainable-development-environment-cracks-disasters-risks-deaths-51463  (04 Dec. 2022) 

CLOUD BURSTS

SANDRP Blog Himachal Cloud Bursts 2022: Rise in Death, Disaster & Destruction We could compile 39 incidents of cloud bursts in HP between June and September 2022. Of this 2 incidents took place in June before the onset of south west monsoon and the rest 37 occurred during the monsoon season. Of total, 33 cloud burst incidents have taken place in just two months of July (18) and August (15) while 4 such incidents took place in September. District wise, maximum cloud burst incidents have taken place in Chamba (13) followed by Kullu (10). Thus, 23 of such incidents occurred in just two districts. While 4 each of cloud burst disasters occurred in Lahual & Spiti and Mandi, Kinnaur districts and 1 each in the districts of Bilaspur, Shimla, Sirmaur and Kangara.  https://sandrp.in/2022/12/03/himachal-pradesh-cloud-bursts-2022-rise-in-death-disaster-destruction/   (03 Dec. 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Gujarat Potential ecological impacts of chemical complex ignored  Local communities express strong displeasure over the environment report for a proposed greenfield chemical complex in the ecologically rich Gulf of Kutch region. A public hearing for the project was allegedly pushed through a few days ahead model code of conduct for the state assembly polls. https://theprobe.in/potential-ecological-impacts-of-chemical-complex-near-gulf-of-kutch-in-gujarat-ignored/  (29 Nov. 2022)

ASIA

Indonesia Turning Tofu Waste Into Natural Gas Helps Clean Rivers The runoff from tofu factories pollutes rivers and kills fish. Over the last 40 years, Indonesia has built almost 50,000 biogas plants to convert the wastewater. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bP2kWOGl4Q  (29 Nov. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Africa Zimbabwe faces power woes as low dam level halts hydroelectricity Electricity shortages that have been plaguing Zimbabwe are set to worsen after an authority that manages the country’s biggest dam said water levels are now too low to continue power-generation activities.

Officials inspect water levels on the Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe [File: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

The Zambezi River Authority, which runs the Kariba Dam that is jointly owned by Zimbabwe and neighbouring Zambia, said in a letter dated November 25 that water levels at the biggest hydroelectricity supplier are at a record low and electricity generation must stop. The letter said the Kariba South hydropower station had used more than its 2022 water allocation and that the Kariba Dam’s usable storage was only 4.6 percent full.

The Kariba South hydropower provides Zimbabwe with about 70 percent of its electricity and has been producing significantly less than its capacity of 1,050 megawatts in recent years due to receding water levels caused by droughts. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/29/zimbabwe-faces-power-woes-as-low-dam-level-halts-hydroelectricity  (29 Nov. 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 28 Nov. 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 21 Nov. 2022  

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

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