DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 121222: Green Hydrogen from Hydropower is false solution

(Feature Image: Reservoir of Vyasi hydro project dam on Yamuna river in Dehradun. Credit: Varsha Singh/The Third Pole.)

A section of the hydro lobby has been trying to push hydropower in the name of producing green hydrogen as an alternative energy source. However, it has been known for a long time that this is a false solution. There cannot be green hydrogen when sourced from hydropower as not only hydropower projects have huge social and environmental footprint, they also have huge carbon footprint as the following article shows. It would be best to out rightly reject any such claim of green hydrogen when sourced from hydropower project.  

Why Hydropower Can’t Produce Green Hydrogen “Green Hydrogen” was promoted at the U.N.’s COP27, and is promoted by some of the biggest energy corporations in the world. Although hydrogen has been an energy source for well over 100 years, it has recently gained more attention as a major “low carbon” fuel of the future. Further, because hydrogen burns hot, it is considered a replacement for burning fossil fuels in high-heat industrial and transportation processes that cannot be easily replaced by other forms of renewable energy.

– Several methods exist to produce hydrogen including one of the simplest which is “electrolysis” which extracts hydrogen from water, a process that requires electricity. When that electricity is created using renewable energy, and then used to extract and produce hydrogen, that hydrogen is said to be “Green Hydrogen”.

– Hydropower has one of the biggest environmentally negative footprints of all energy sources, including fossil fuels. Almost all forms of hydropower are created by building a dam to block a river and store water in a reservoir that is later run through turbines to create electricity. This is because: Dams block rivers including fish migration, sediment movement, debris flow, nutrient flows, and water; Dams changes the ecology, water temperature, sediment, and habitat of rivers; Dams almost always make water quality worse by hugely changing the hydrological cycle of a river; Dams can cause the extinction of fish and aquatic life; Dams can make flooding in rivers worse; Dams exacerbate coastal flooding, beach erosion, and sea level rise by blocking sediment/debris flow and changing the hydrological cycle of rivers; Dams can increase disease in humans due to unnaturally flooded landscapes; Dams are hugely expensive and create ‘sunk costs’ scenarios that preclude constructing other less environmentally damaging forms of energy production.

– Secondly, almost all hydropower systems that use dams and reservoirs create greenhouse gas emissions that make climate change worse. Hydropower dams create GHGs in three principal ways: Deforestation — These forests are often cut and burned (which emits CO2), and these forests no longer sequester carbon ; when organic material that exists in a reservoir, or flows into a reservoir, decomposes under water, it produces methane. Surface emissions are the biggest source of GHGs in dam/reservoir systems; Downstream Dewatering — when wetlands, mangroves, and riparian areas downstream of a dam are dewatered, they dry up and emit CO2 and methane. https://garywockner.substack.com/p/why-hydropower-cant-produce-green  (24 Nov. 2022)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Himachal Pradesh Green issues dominated election in tribal belts Environmental issues dominated the electoral landscape in the tribal regions, especially in Lahaul and Spiti, and Kinnaur, with the voters asking the candidates to clarify their stand on new hydroelectric projects and implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The tribal districts reverberated with a ‘No Means No’ campaign against new hydroelectric projects after a series of landslides took place last year. The residents were also demanding that the candidates clarify their stance on the amendment made in the FRA earlier this year, which revoked the condition of getting a no-objection certificate from panchayats for construction of dams. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/dec/08/assembly-election-results-how-the-congress-won-himachal-2526252.html  (08 Dec. 2022)

Court seeks property details of Renuka dam to compensate displaced people The Renukajee Dam Project is a widely publicized dam project. Nearly 1142 families face displacement due to this. As reported several of them including people of Deed Bagar village have not received their compensation amounting to around Rs. 420 million and the issue of their dues has been pending for a long time. Finally the distressed people went to court to obtain justice.

– As reported in a leading newspaper Amar Ujala in early December the District and Sessions Judge of Sirmaur issued important directions for attaching the property of the dam management so that the pending compensation payment of dam evictees can be made from this. As a step in this direction information regarding all this property was sought by the court.

Subsequently the same newspaper reported two days later on December 4 that soon after these court orders came the dam management has issued instructions to the land acquisition officer of the dam project to clear the entire pending dues of these evicted persons within 15 days.

– It would have been good if author Bharat Dogra ji should have mentioned that there is no justification for the dam for the cause for which it is being proposed. https://countercurrents.org/2022/12/judiciary-shows-the-way-for-providing-speedy-justice-to-displaced-people/  (06 Dec. 2022)

Himdhara Collective Court ignores Renuka dam EC expired in Oct. 2022 The District & Sessions Judge of Sirmaur issues directions for attaching property of the renuka dam management for pending compensation payment of dam displaced. But what about environment clearance status of the project which MoEF extended to Oct 2022? Minutes of the 2019 meeting when the decision was taken. ‘In case, the construction work is not completed by October, 2022, then the proposal shall be considered as de-novo’. Construction work of the project has not even started. https://twitter.com/EndangeredHimal/status/1600099568187625475?s=20&t=FQYZ55xtu3AadxPbUljEIQ  (06 Dec. 2022)

Following the order of District and Sessions Judge Sirmaur, Renuka Dam Management has directed the Land Acquisition Officer (LAO) to pay the amount to the Renuka dam affected people within 15 days. On last Friday (Dec. 02), the court has ordered to attach the property of Renuka Dam Management. This amount has been estimated around 42 crores. The dam management has not been able to pay this to the oustees. The oustees challenged the matter in the court and demanded payment of their amount. https://www.amarujala.com/shimla/sirmaur-renuka-dam-management-came-into-action-after-court-order-compensation-will-be-paid-within-two-weeks  (03 Dec. 2022)

Arunachal Pradesh Why Indigenous People in Northeast India Fear Hydropower Projects  For the indigenous people of northeast India, large dams often appear as ‘ticking water bombs.’ India has over three dozen large dams with a cumulative installed capacity of over 22,000 MW in the pipeline for this region, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. A large section of local residents fear immense adverse impacts on safety, livelihood, environment and biodiversity. The controversial 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri project in Assam, currently India’s biggest hydel power project under construction, would be dwarfed once India manages to build the two proposed dams, each of about 3,000 mw installed capacity, in the Dibang river valley of Arunachal Pradesh. This report from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim documents the local people’s protests and apprehensions around India’s mega hydel push in the northeastern region, part of two of the world’s 36 global biodiversity hotspots, sitting on India’s most-active seismic zones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaI-pQmINZQ  (11 Dec. 2022)

The NEEPCO’s 600 mw run-of-the-river Kameng hydroelectric project in Bichom river has reduced the once mighty river to a stream. Fishes have disappeared, and the villagers downstream are facing acute water shortage, leading to dwindling of horticulture and agriculture activities. The KaHEP Downstream People’s Affected Forum (KDPAF) has sought intervention by the government and the NEEPCO. It has asked that the flow of the river be maintained, and that the affected villagers be compensated. – Video courtesy: KDPAF. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3425393487745600

The Union Ministry of Power has given its nod for the modification in naming the Ranganadi Hydro Electric Project (405 MW) to Panyor Lower Hydro Electric Project (HEP), an effort to show respect toward the sentiments of local populace. https://www.northeasttoday.in/2022/12/10/arunachal-pradesh-centre-approves-modification-in-naming-ranganadi-hep-to-panyor-lower-hep-effort-to-honour-local-sentiments/  (10 Dec. 2022)

MoEF Relevant agenda of the FAC meeting held on Dec 9 2022: – DIVERSION OF 1165.66 HA (INCLUDING 91.331 HA UNDERGROUND AREA) OF FOREST LAND for ETALIN HYDRO ELECTRIC PROJECT (3097 MW) IN DIBANG VALLEY DIST OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH BY ETALIN HYDRO ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY LIMITED (on Nov 24, 2022, MoEF officer wrote to Arunachal Pradesh: “The undersigned is directed to refer to this Ministry’s two O.M. both dated 23.05.2022 (copies enclosed) vide which two committees were constituted as per the decision of FAC held on 11.05.2022 and it was requested to submit the report within three week followed by reminder letters dt 26.08.2022, 29.09.2022, 21.10.22 & 04.11.2022 (copies enclosed). The requisite report is still awaited.” http://forestsclearance.nic.in/AgendaDetail.aspx?id=278 

Agenda of EAC on River Valley Projects to be held on Dec 15 2022: 1. Singanamala Pumped Storage Project (800 MW), in 480.65 Ha at Salakam cheruvu Village, Tehsil Singanamala, Dist Ananthapuramu, (Andhra Pradesh) by New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of AP – Terms of Reference

2. Warsgaon Warangi Pumped Storage Project (1200 MW) in 169 Ha at Village Teckpole & Warangi, Tehsil Velhe & Mahad, Dist Pune & Raigad (Mah) by Adani Green Energy Ltd – Terms of Reference

3. Damanganga (Ekdare) – Godavari intrastate link project at Village Ekdare, Tehsil Peint, District Nashik (Maharashtra) by National Water Development Agency- Terms of Reference http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/_08122022L4SC3L6J.pdf

DAMS

Polavaram Project Centre seeks time to submit report The Supreme Court, on Dec 7 2022 granted the Union Government two months’ time to submit a report on the inter-state water dispute amongst Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh regarding Polavaram project on Godavari river. SC said that in the meantime, MoWR should hold meetings with the state to resolve the issues.

– Odisha counsel said that in Sept 2022, the meeting of the secretaries of the concerned departments was held and in Oct 2022 meeting of the technical experts was held, after which, written objections were given. No response has been received to the written objections submitted in Oct 2022. Counsels for Telangana and Chhattisgarh had the same submission. The matter will be next heard on Feb 15 2023. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/polavaram-dam-godavari-river-dispute-centre-seeks-time-to-submit-report-before-supreme-court-on-talks-with-states-216078  (07 Dec. 2022)

Project works delayed due to floods The Union government has stated that while the Polavaram project is scheduled to be completed by March 2024 and its distributary network by June 2024, “some delay may occur.” “There is disruption of works due to major floods to Godavari river in 2020 and 2022,” minister of state for Jal Shakti, Bishweswar Tudu, told Parliament.

– The minister said that rehabilitation of 1,06,006 project displaced families (PDFs) had been taken up in two phases under Polavaram Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) programme by the implementing agency, the Andhra Pradesh government. “Rehabilitation of 20,946 displaced families (PDFs) up to +41.15 m storage (phase-I) is currently being targeted. Under phase-I, so far 11,306 PDFs have been rehabilitated. A number of key components of PIP, such as spillway, the upstream cofferdam, concrete dam (gap III), diaphragm wall of earth cum rock-fill dam (ECRF) (gap-I) have been completed,” he said.  https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/091222/polavaram-works-delayed-due-to-floods-parliament-told.html  (10 Dec. 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa Link Running out of space at the Panna Tiger Reserve? The recent death of a two-year-old male tiger in the Panna Tiger Reserve, the most critical tiger habitat in the country, raises hard hitting questions. Is the reserve running out of space for the growing number of tigers? And, what happens if the Ken-Betwa river linking project submerges a major portion of the core area of the Tiger Reserve?

– A study titled ‘The inter-linking of rivers and biodiversity conservation: a study of Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India’ by the wildlife science department of Aligarh Muslim University noted that nearly 10.07 per cent of Critical Tiger Habitat (CTH) in the Panna Tiger Reserve would disappear if the project came through. There would be an indirect loss of 105.23 sq km of CTH leading to major loss of the tiger, its major prey species, and about two million trees, it warned. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/panna-tiger-reserve-death-tigers-murder-hanging-wildlife-forest-space-buffer-zone-ntca-ken-betwa-river-linking-51479  (09 Dec. 2022)

Gujarat River interlinking, Zinc plant turned Adivasis against ruling govt Anxiety about losing their land is central to the distrust that Adivasis in Doswada have come to harbour against the saffron party. Haresh Kanti, an activist working on Adivasi issues in the region, says that if the smelter plant begins here, the resultant water pollution will affect at least 92 villages in a 10-km radius. Similarly, he adds that while the river-linking project will affect the neighbouring Dangs district the most where five dams are being constructed, the canal that will be constructed to transport water in Tapi will displace people from around 22 villages.

Residents of Doswada village. Photo: Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta/The Wire

“The government has proposed acquiring around 800 metre land for the proposed canal passing through Tapi. Most villages around Doswada aren’t even that wide. The canals, therefore, will mean that 22 villages in the area will be entirely uprooted,” Kanti says. “The government is also proposing setting up eco-tourism projects around the river-linking project, which means that Adivasis may have to give up more land,” he adds.

Almost 90% of Tapi residents are Bhil Adivasis, all of whom are agriculturalists. Residents of Doswada recall that the neighbouring Ukai dam built in 1975 forced the Adivasis to migrate to towns, as most displaced people were not rehabilitated properly or given their due compensation. “We don’t want that again. We are happy with what we have,” says college-going Jignesh Gamit.

He believes that the government manipulated the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report that shows negligible pollution as a result of the plant. Similarly, he says that before taking the decision, the government merely informed the gram panchayats which are filled with agents of political parties. “We want the gram sabha to be consulted for all projects here. There is no other way,” he says. https://thewire.in/politics/planned-zinc-smelter-plant-has-turned-adivasis-in-this-corner-of-gujarat-against-the-bjp  (30 Nov. 2022)

IRRIGATION

Telangana Govt focuses on water intensive crops Himanshu Thakker, Coordinator at the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) told Mongabay-India, “In Telangana most of the cultivable land is situated at a higher altitude so there is need to pump water from the rivers to irrigate many of these lands. That is why even the Kaleshwaram dam is mostly pumping water from lower to higher altitude rather than acting as a dam to provide gravity flow irrigation. This is very energy intensive and not sustainable in the long run. Large scale lift irrigation projects have not been successful in the majority of the areas where they were tried.”

He said, “Whenever there is availability of groundwater, there is an increase in the number of tube wells and wells. It is a slow poison and it takes time to show alarming impacts. The groundwater use needs to be regulated at the local level. There needs to be more groundwater recharge. The better way for the government is to go for decentralised rain water harvesting systems. Since the rainfall is good in Telangana, this is a much better option.” https://india.mongabay.com/2022/12/from-paddy-to-palm-oil-telangana-focuses-on-water-intensive-crops/  (06 Dec. 2022)

Gujarat Several villages boycott 2nd phase of poll For the third year in a row, villagers from Varetha, Dalisana and Davol in Kheralu taluka of Mehsana refrained from exercising their franchise in protest against water shortage. The residents of these three villages had not cast their votes during the taluka, district, and village panchayat polls held earlier. The villagers said that though they have been demanding the Narmada water to fill the village lakes, the State authorities have yet to provide water from the Narmada canal. According to officials in Mehsana, nearly 5,200 eligible voters in the district refrained from exercising their franchise. https://www.thehindu.com/elections/gujarat-assembly/several-villages-in-north-and-central-gujarat-boycott-second-phase-of-assembly-poll/article66227647.ece  (05 Dec. 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

GANGA Varanasi Some information on tent city project: तैयारियां धरी रह गईं, अब मां गंगा के मर्जी से बसेगी टेंट सिटी गंगा के जलस्तर बढ़ने के कारण निर्माण करने वाली कंपनी और सरकारी विभाग अभी काम भी शुरू नहीं कर सके हैं. उम्मीद है कि नए साल तक यह टेंट सिटी पर्यटकों के लिए तैयार हो जाएगी.

पर्यटकों के एंटरटेनमेंट के लिए बनारस में गंगा किनारे टेंट सिटी बसाने की प्लानिंग की गई थी। यह प्लानिंग गुजरात के कच्छ और राजस्थान के रेतीले इलाके में होने वाले टेंट सिटी महोत्सव की तर्ज पर की गई थी। प्लान के मुताबिक गंगा किनारे टेंट सिटी बसाने के लिए देव दीपावली तक की डेडलाइन रखी गई थी, मगर नवंबर तक यह काम शुरू नहीं हो पाया.

वाराणसी विकास प्राधिकरण उपाध्यक्ष अभिषेक गोयल से ईटीवी भारत की बातचीत बनारस में गंगा के उस पार टेंट सिटी बसाने के लिए अहमदाबाद की दो कंपनियों का चयन किया गया है. टेंडर प्रक्रिया फाइनल होने के बाद इन कंपनियों को काम शुरू करने की जिम्मेदारी सौंपी गई. इसके निर्माण की पूरी निगरानी वाराणसी विकास प्राधिकरण को सौंपी गई है. प्रस्तावित टेंट सिटी में बिजली, पानी और सीवरेज निस्तारण की व्यवस्था करने के लिए बिजली विभाग, जलकल और नगर निगम को लगाया गया. कुल मिलाकर इस प्रोजक्ट में सरकार के 13 विभाग शामिल थे मगर किसी विभाग का काम शुरू ही नहीं हो पाया.

गंगा किनारे टेंट सिटी बसाने के लिए देव दीपावली से पहले की डेडलाइन रखी गई थी, जो गंगा के घटते-बढ़ते जलस्तर के कारण फेल हो गई. वाराणसी विकास प्राधिकरण का कहना है कि टेंट सिटी का काम शुरू नहीं होने की बड़ी वजह रेत से भरी खाली जगह की कमी है. गंगा में इस साल जलस्तर अचानक बढ़ता और कम होता रहा, इस कारण 600 टेंट बनानेके लिए जगह नहीं मिल सकी है. वाराणसी विकास प्राधिकरण के उपाध्यक्ष अभिषेक गोयल का कहना है कि टेंट सिटी का काम अब तक फाइनल स्टेज में पहुंच जाता, लेकिन गंगा में हुए बदलाव ने पूरा प्लान रोक दिया. जिस स्थान पर काम होना था, वहां पानी आ जानेके कारण काम ही नहीं शुरू हो पाया.

अभिषेक गोयल का कहना है कि टेंट सिटी बसाने के लिए गंगा के पार तीन इलाके चिह्नित किए थे. आज भी 2 स्थानों पर पानी नीचे है, लेकिन एक स्थान पर रेत सूखी नहीं है. वाराणसी विकास प्राधिकरण के उपाध्यक्ष को उम्मीद है कि 15 दिसंबर तक इस काम को फाइनल कर लेंगे और नए साल में यहां पर पर्यटकों को इसका लाभ भी मिलने लगेगा. टेंट सिटी बसानेके लिए टेंडर हासिल करने वाली कंपनी को काम में तेजी लाने और लगाए गए कुल 13 सरकारी विभागों को अपने काम को भी निर्धारित समय तक पूरा करने के लिए कहा गया है. https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttar-pradesh/state/varanasi/tent-city-in-varanasi-tent-city-on-ganga-bank-likely-to-open-before-15-december/up20221122161311677677069  (22 Nov. 2022)

टेंट सिटी अस्सी से रविदास घाट के ठीक सामने गंगा उस पार रामनगर में बसाया जा रहा है। टेंट सिटी निर्माण कार्य अंतिम दौर में है। यह जनवरी 2023 से कार्य करना शुरू करेगा। https://www.specialcoveragenews.in/uttar-pradesh/varanasi/tent-city-is-going-to-settle-in-kashi-passengers-will-have-a-pleasant-experience-on-the-banks-of-the-ganges-1199099   (06 Dec. 2022)

गंगा नदी के किनारे अस्सी घाट के सामने 100 हेक्टेयर में टेंट सिटी बसाई जाएगी। इसमें अलग-अलग सुविधाओं से युक्त 200 टेंट बनाए जाएंगे। पर्यटकों के पैकेज टूर में भी टेंट सिटी नजर आएगी। जेटी के जरिए पर्यटक गंगा में सैर करने के लिए क्रूज व बजरे पर सवार हो सकेंगे। टेंट सिटी नवरात्रि के आसपास शुरू होकर शिवरात्रि तक रहेगी। गंगा में बाढ़ के समय रेत पर पानी आने के कारण तंबुओं का हटा दिया जाएगा।

टेंट सिटी की निविदा से पहले 25 अप्रैल 2022 को एक्सप्रेशन ऑफ इंटरेस्ट में पांच कंपनियों ने रुचि दिखाई थी। इसमें लल्लूजी एंड संस, अहमदाबाद गुजरात, मे. इयाक वेंचर्स प्रा. लि., अहमदाबाद, गुजरात, मे. प्रेवेज कम्यूनिकेशंस (इंडिया) लि., अहमदाबाद, गुजरात, मे. स्वामी सुखदेवानंद ट्रस्ट परमार्थ निकेतन, ऋषिकेश, उत्तराखंड, मे. थार कैंपस प्रा. लि., नई दिल्ली ने भागीदारी की थी। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi/efforts-to-set-up-tent-city-on-sand-across-ganges-started (22 July 2022)

टेंट सिटी के लिए ई-टेंडर जमा करने की अंतिम तिथि 16 अगस्त निर्धारित की गई है। तकनीकी निविदा 17 अगस्त को खोली जाएगी। सफल तकनीकी निविदा वाले प्रस्तावों की वित्तीय निविदा इसके बाद खोल दी जाएगी। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi-city-tent-city-in-varanasi-vda-has-started-tender-process-for-setting-up-a-tent-city-in-one-hundred-hectares-across-ganga-22912725.html  (21 July 2022)

गंगा पार रेती में टेंट सिटी अहमदाबाद की दो कंपनियां बसाएंगी। इसकी जिम्मेदारी मेसर्स प्रेवेज कम्यूनिकेशंस (इंडिया) लिमिटेड व मेसर्स लल्लूजी एंड संस को दी गई है। चयनित प्रेवेज कम्युनिकेशन 400 टेंट पर तो लल्लूजी एंड संस को 200 टेंट बनाने हैं। सोमवार (Sept 12) को निविदा प्रक्रिया फाइनल होने के साथ चयनित कंपनी प्रतिनिधियों को आवंटन इससे संबंधित पत्र सौंप दिए गए।

इसके साथ ही वाराणसी विकास प्राधिकरण रेती में टेंट सिटी स्थल पर बिजली-पानी व सीवेज निस्तारण की व्यवस्था में जुट गया है। इसके लिए टेंडरिंग प्रक्रिया शुरू कर दी गई है। प्रयास है कि बुनियादी व्यवस्थाएं इसी माह पूरी कर एक अक्टूबर तक स्थल कंपनियों को हैंडओवर कर दिया जाए ताकि देवदीपावली तक रेती जगमग हो जाए। बुनियादी सुविधाएं विकसित करने व व्यवस्थापन की जिम्मेदारी वीडीए के नेतृत्व में पर्यटन, बिजली, केंद्रीय जल आयोग, जल निगम, गंगा प्रदूषण नियंत्रण इकाई समेत 13 विभागों को दी गई है। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi-city-ahmedabad-companies-will-set-up-tent-city-in-varanasi-it-will-come-out-in-cross-ganga-till-devdeepawali-jagranspecial-23065319.html  (13 Sept. 2022)

इसके लिए विभागों को 3 करोड़ रुपयेजारी कर दिए गए हैं. लगभग 3 किमी सीवर लाइन बिछाने के अलावा इसे रामनगर एसटीपी से कनेक्ट करने के लिए कहा गया है। https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttar-pradesh/state/varanasi/tent-city-to-be-built-on-banks-of-ganga-river-in-varanasi/up20220914193729311311669   (14 Sept. 2022)

The tent city will likely be opened by Dev Deepawali to be celebrated on November 7. An idea for developing the tent city had been conceived by the local administration in view of the shortage of accommodation in hotels, guest houses, dharamshalas and other facilities after the opening of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham on December 13, 2021.

Talking to TOI on Tuesday (Sept. 27), divisional commissioner Deepak Agrawal said, “If the receding trend in the water level of river Ganga, which is still very high and kept the sand bed inundated, will remain stable, the tent city will become operational before the festival of Dev Deepawali.” Two companies — Praveg Communications (India) Limited and Lalluji and Sons of Ahmedabad — were given the contract to develop two and one clusters, respectively, in the river upstream near Ramnagar, he said adding, VDA had to ensure basic infrastructure including sewage, water and power supply facilities. VDA needed time of 15 days to complete these basic preparations. But, the work would be started only after the river water would recede from the sandy bank. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/tent-city-is-likely-before-dev-deepawali-on-nov-7/articleshow/94494582.cms  (28 Sept. 2022)

The ambitious tent city project is facing a fresh threat of getting delayed with the Ganga registering a rising trend. Officials said the rise in the Ganga level has jolted the bid of VDA the nodal agency responsible for executing the project to complete basic infrastructure of providing power, water and sewage connection in order to ensure that the tent city is ready by the festival of Dev Deepawali on November 7 when it is to accommodate and serve tourists and locals thronging the city.

As per the morning bulletin of the Central Water Commission’s Middle Ganga Division office, the river level was stable in Varanasi at 65.01 meter mark till Tuesday (Oct. 11) morning, although it had adopted a rising trend in Phaphamau and Prayagraj. But, the rising trend downstream of the river started by late Tuesday (Oct. 11) evening and on Wednesday (Oct. 12) morning, an increase of over 40 centimetres was recovered in Varanasi. The rising trend is likely to continue in view of the increasing level of the Ganga upstream.

Regarding the new threat of delay in the tent city project, VDA vice-chairman Abhishek Goyal said, “This year, the level of the Ganga was already above its normal level recorded after September-end. As the process of awarding a contract for developing the tent city was completed last month, we had started work on our part. On the sand bed, which became available after the water level receded, we had started installing electric poles and laying the lines of water supply and sewage.”

“For providing water supply to the tent city, the work of boring had also been started,” he said, adding, “As the river has started inundating the sand bed again, the process of completing the work is getting hampered. The officials are finding them helpless as they don’t have any option than to wait till the water recedes.”

After VDA will end the work, the two companies will start developing three clusters of 200 tents each on the opposite side of Assi Ghat. Goyal said that VDA and both companies have kept them ready to start work with an accelerated pace immediately after the water level would recede and clear the area on which the project has to come up. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/fresh-threat-of-swelling-ganga-to-tent-city-project-in-varanasi/articleshow/94824129.cms  (13 Oct. 2022)

प्रधानमंत्री के संसदीय क्षेत्र वाराणसी में रामनगर से राजघाट तक गंगा के समानांतर लगभग आठ किमी लंबी फोरलेन सड़क बनेगी। वहीं, कटेसर से दशाश्वमेघ घाट तक प्रस्तावित 1026 मीटर लंबे सिग्नेचर ब्रिज की डिजाइन बदली गई है। अब यह लक्ष्मण झूला की तर्जपर नहीं बनेगा। सिग्नेचर ब्रिज के निर्माण पर 369 करोड़ खर्चहोनेका अनुमान है।

श्रीकाशी विश्वनाथ ज्योतिर्लिंग परियोजना के पहले चरण के लिए 500 करोड़ रुपये का बजट स्वीकृत हो गया है। परियोजना शुरू करने से पहले पीडब्ल्यूडी ने अनापत्ति प्रमाणपत्र के लिए गंगा प्रदूषण नियंत्रण इकाई, सिंचाई, वन, रक्षा संपदा, रेलवेबोर्ड, प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड समेत 14 विभागों से संपर्क साधा है। केंद्रीय जल बोर्ड से अनापत्ति प्रमाण पत्र मिल गया है।

लोक निर्माण विभाग ने लगभग 2472 करोड़ रुपये की परियोजना को धरातल पर उतारने का खाका तैयार कर लिया है। परियोजना के लिए 28.63 हेक्टेयर जमीन की जरूरत पड़ेगी। अधिग्रहण पर 383 करोड़ खर्च होंगे। जमीन अधिग्रहण शीघ्र शुरू होगा। कोदोपुर, रामनगर, कटेसर और डोमरी इलाके में जमीन खरीदी जाएगी। इसके लिए राजस्व विभाग को पत्र लिखा गया है। लगभग छह महीने पहले से तीनों गांवों में जमीन की खरीद-फरोख्त पर रोक लगी है। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/story-road-to-be-built-parallel-to-ganga-in-kashi-jyotirlinga-plan-blueprint-ready-two-companies-came-forward-for-tent-city-7036550.html  (05 Sept. 2022)

The VDA is likely to set up a temporary ‘Tent City’ immediately after the end of flood season in October, when tourist load starts increasing massively in the city. “As the turtle sanctuary has been shifted to Mirzapur-Prayagraj stretch of the Ganga river,” they said, “Around 500 hectares of land on the sand bed has become available for establishment of the ‘Tent City’. VDA has selected the site considering its connectivity with highways, prime tourist locations including Assi and other ghats, Ramnagar Fort, Varanasi railway station and Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay Junction. The distance of the airport will be 33 km from the site.”

Regarding the proposal of the ‘Tent City’, VDA vice-chairperson Isha Duhan said, “Expression of interest (EOI) has been invited from the companies engaged in this field by May 15. After it, further formalities including presentations by the companies taking part in the EOI process and others will be followed.”  “VDA, which is the nodal agency to execute this proposal, will facilitate the developer in getting connections for water supply and sewage lines after which internal supply lines will be developed by the developer, who would be awarded the contract,” said Duhan.

“The firm, which will be engaged to develop the ‘Tent City’ will have to meet the best practices/standards provisions as applicable to eco-sensitive-cum-sustainable design under local conditions with feasible financial model,” she said, adding, “The project should comply with the norms of NMCG, NGT, MoEF and other environmental standards.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/tent-city-on-ganga-bank-in-varanasi-to-meet-tourist-rush/articleshow/91131663.cms  (27 April 2022)

The tent city is likely to be ready by October 2021 and will stay for three to five months, after which it will be dismantled and then reassembled the following year. It will come up along a five-kilometre stretch of the river on the lines of the nature camps at Konark in Odisha, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Around a month ago, a team of officials visited the Konark nature camps on the instructions of Varanasi divisional commissioner Deepak Agarwal to collect details, ranging from setting up the camps or tented accommodations and their management. They submitted a detailed report. Agarwal said, “Instructions have been given to the tourism department officials to prepare the DPR of the tent city as soon as they can so that further steps to materialise the project can be taken.”

A monitoring committee and a technical-cum-executive committee for setting up the tent city have been constituted by the divisional commissioner. The monitoring committee is chaired by divisional commissioner and the executive-cum-technical committee by district magistrate Kaushalraj Sharma.

The tent city is likely to have 500 beds and be equipped with electricity supply, water supply, a washroom and a bio-toilet each. Roughly, each tent accommodation will be 200 to 300 square feet in area. Under the guidance of the district administration, the department was planning to develop the tent city in public private partnership (PPP) mode, said regional tourism officer (Varanasi) Keertiman Srivastava.

It is to be decided whether the company will pay bills for water and electricity supply and other facilities to be provided by the municipality and the rent for the land to be provided by the district administration or if it will share revenue from the project, with the potential to generate direct and indirect employment for 4,000 locals. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/tent-city-to-come-up-on-sandy-ganga-bank-in-varanasi-on-the-lines-of-konark-101614331582203.html  (26 Feb. 2021)

Rispna; Dehradun Residents worried as govt plans to turn ‘green zone’ into eco-park A proposal to turn Tarla Nagal, a12.45 hectares forest, into an “eco-park” by the Dehradun district administration has left locals and activists worried as a Rispana river tributary – key to retain a high water table of Dehradun – passes through the “green zone”. Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA), which has sent a proposal in this regard to the chief secretary a few days ago for his approval, said the project would not disturb the forest landscape’s ecological balance.

The area once had a rich presence of various types of birds and animals. Besides, one of the significant tributaries of Rispana – Nala Paniki Rau – passes through the forest landscape. As per the proposal, the government will develop a children’s park, skating rink, meditation and yoga zones, toilets and other facilities for public recreation within a year in Tarla Nagal. TOI found out that the ecological assessment of the landscape has not been done by the MDDA despite the fact that the area was often touted as biodiversity rich by the locals and activists. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/dehradun-residents-worried-as-govt-plans-to-turn-green-zone-into-eco-park/articleshow/95988718.cms  (05 Dec. 2022)

Hiranyavati; Kushnagar कुशीनगर बुद्धकालीन हिरण्यवती नदी का पानी अब मैला नहीं होगा। इसमें नालों से गिरने वाले गंदे पानी पर रोक लगाई जाएगी। पानी के रास्ते को बदला जाएगा। कुशीनगर के बुद्धा घाट के निरीक्षण के दौरान इसको लेकर डीएम रमेश रंजन ने अधिकारियों को सख्त निर्देश दिए। इस ऐतिहासिक नदी के उद्गम स्थल व जल की उपलब्धता के बारे में भी जानकारी ली। इस दौरान मियावाकी वन, नपा द्वारा विकसित समेकित इको पार्क, चिल्ड्रेन पार्क को भी देखा। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/kushinagar-kushinagar-dm-ramesh-ranjan-order-to-stop-fall-of-dirty-water-in-hiranyavati-river-23196995.html  (11 Nov. 2022)

बुद्धा घाट पर हिरण्यवती नदी के किनारे मियावाकी वन क्षेत्र में लगाए गए पौधों के संरक्षण को लेकर एसडीएम गोपाल शर्मा, नपा के ईओ प्रेमशंकर गुप्त एवं वन क्षेत्राधिकारी सत्येंद्र यादव ने स्थलीय निरीक्षण किया और तत्काल सिंचाई करने का निर्णय लिया गया। वन विभाग मेड़ बनवाकर हिरण्यवती नदी में लगे पंपिंग सेट से वन क्षेत्र में पानी चलवा रहा है। पौधों के संरक्षण की जिम्मेदारी वन विभाग को सौंपी गई है। यहां ज्वाइंट मजिस्ट्रेट रहे पूर्ण बोरा ने नदी क्षेत्र को हरा-भरा कर प्राकृतिक सौंदर्य देने को लेकर यह योजना बनाई थी। https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/gorakhpur-city-efforts-to-conserve-miyawaki-forest-intensified-22886423.html  (11 July 2022)

बौद्धकालीन मल्ल गणराज्य की राजधानी कुशीनारा (कुशीनगर का प्राचीन नाम) हिरण्यावती नदी के तट पर स्थित था। बुद्ध चरित के अनुसार, हिरण्यावती नदी का जल पीकर ही तथागत बुद्ध ने बौद्ध भिक्षुओं को अंतिम उपदेश दिया था। इसी नदी के किनारे तथागत बुद्ध को महापरिनिर्वाण प्राप्त हुआ था। जहां अब रामाभार स्तूप है। बौद्ध धर्म के लोगों के लिए यह नदी गंगा के समान पवित्र है। परंतु पानी की कमी और अतिक्रमण के चलते यह नदी मृतप्राय हो चुकी है।

राजस्व अभिलेख में दर्ज बरसाती नालों व जमीनों की पुरानी नवैयत के आधार पर इस नदी का उद्गम रामकोला ब्लॉक के सपहां गांव के ताल को माना गया है। नदी के पुराने रास्ते पर जगह-जगह अतिक्रमण है। कई जगह यह बरसाती नाले के रूप में है तो कुछ जगहों पर अस्तित्व ही खत्म हो चुका है। बाढ़ खंड के अधिशासी अभियंता भरत राम ने बताया कि इस नदी की लंबाई अभिलेखों के अनुसार 49.370 किमी है।

हिरण्यावती नदी का उद्गम स्थल सपहा गांव का ताल है। यहां से सिधावें, बसडीला, मोतीपाकड़, कठघरही, परवरपार, अहिरौली कुसुम्ही से होते नदी कुशीनगर तक पहुंचती है। कुशीनगर से आगे बढ़ने पर कुड़वा दिलीपनगर गांव में घाघी नदी से मिलती है। घाघी नदी आगे छोटी गंडक में जाकर मिलती है।

प्रशासन ने सितंबर 2012 में पहली बार इस नदी को पुनर्जिवित करने के लिए प्रयास किया था। तत्कालीन डीएम रिग्जियान सैंफिल ने हिरण्यावती नदी की खोज के लिए राजस्व कर्मियों की ड्यूटी लगाई थी। लेकिन काम पूरा नहीं हुआ। बाद में डीएम रहे लोकेश एम व शंभू कुमार ने भी इसमें रुचि दिखाई लेकिन उद्गम स्थल की तलाश की बजाय कुशीनगर के पास ही नदी के बचे हुए हिस्से की साफ सफाई कराकर काम बंद करा दिया गया। डीएम रहे आंद्रा वामसी ने भी इस नदी को पर्यटक स्थल के रूप में विकसित करने की योजना बनाई लेकिन उन्होंने भी कुशीनगर में ही इस नदी की सफाई व घाटों को पक्का कराने का कार्य कराया। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/kushinagar/hirnyawati-river-willbe-revived-kushinagar-news-gkp3417839128  (19 Feb. 2020)

Nag & Pili; Nagpur After 12 years rivers likely to be rid of sewage problems After remaining on paper for 12 years, the Nag River Pollution Abatement Project is likely to be executed with the Union cabinet considering the project costing Rs 1,927 crore on Wednesday (Dec. 07). Now, Japan-based Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is likely to execute an agreement with the central and state governments, and release funds.

Of total project cost of Rs 1,927 crore, the Centre will bear Rs 1,115.22 crore, state Rs507.36 crore and NMC Rs304.41 crore. JICA will give long term loan for the project to help the central and state governments pay their shares. The governments will repay the loan. Initially, the project cost was Rs 1,476.96 crore as per common schedule of rates in 2014. Due to delay in the process, the cost escalated to Rs 2,117.56 crore in 2020. Chances of further rise in cost cannot be ruled out, as two years have passed since cost was revised, and the works are likely to take eight years from commencement.

NMC had also proposed beautification of these two rivers and the project is in process. Apart from this, civic body had also proposed rejuvenating city’s third river Pora, and sewage network, treatment etc in remaining parts of the city. Municipal commissioner Radhakrishnan B told 1.31 lakh households will be brought into sewage network. Gosikhurd dam, and Wainganga and Kanhan rivers will get huge relief if pollution in Nag and Pili rivers comes down. Both these city rivers merge into Kanhan, and empty into Wainganga and Gosikhurd dam. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/after-12-years-nag-pili-rivers-many-areas-likely-to-be-rid-of-sewage-problems/articleshow/96093807.cms  (09 Dec. 2022)

Mula-Mutha; Pune PMC to expedite riverfront project work  After the NGT dismissed the petition filed against the riverfront development project, allowing the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to continue work, officials said the project will now pick up pace. The civic body has started work on riverfront development in two phases at the cost of Rs800 crore.

Yuvraj Deshmukh, PMC officer who is heading the riverfront project, said, “The work on the riverfront project has started on ground between Sangamwadi and Bund Garden and Bund Garden to Mundhwa routes. The work cost of Sangamwadi to Bund Garden stretch is Rs 300 crore and Bund Garden to Mundhwa is Rs 500 crore.” Deshmukh said as the NGT has given the decision in favour of PMC and disposed of the petition against it, now we will speed up work. The green activist Sarang Yadwadkar who challenged the riverfront development said, “We are in a view that this project would create a flood-like situation in the city in coming years.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/pmc-to-expedite-riverfront-project-work-101669833763704.html  (01 Dec. 2022)

PMC to construct 2 STPs for 11 villages PMC has decided to construct STPs with a capacity of 105.5 MLD capacity to cater to the needs of the 11 villages that were merged with the civic body in 2017. The civic body will construct a 93.5 MLD plant at Manjari and a 12 MLD plant at Mundhwa-Keshavnagar at Rs 177.88 crore. These STPs will cater to Shivane, Uttamnagar, Dhayari, Ambegaon Budruk, Undri, Uruli Devachi, Phursungi, Mundhwa, Hadapsar and Lohegaon. As per the plan created for developing a network of sewage lines and the treatment of sewage, Rs 393 crore would be required for completing the work in four years.

Jagdish Khanore, incharge of the civic sewage treatment department said the plan would cater to the needs of the villagers 30 years down the line when the population is expected to rise to 18.58 lakh in 2047 as against 2.78 lakh in 2011. The PMC owns the land for the plant in Mundhwa-Keshavnagar while the land required for the plant in Manjari is owned by Mahatma Phule Agriculture University. The university had earlier refused to hand over the land to PMC but has now agreed on the condition that the civic body would undertake various development projects of the university. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pmc-construct-two-sewage-treatment-plants-villages-merged-8315213/  (10 Dec. 2022)

PMC plans to install 11 STPs  The city, excluding the newly merged 34 villages, generates more than 744 MLD sewage while there are 10 STPs installed by the PMC with a capacity of 567 MLD.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-infra-watch-pmc-plans-to-install-11-sewage-treatment-plants-to-clean-mula-mutha-river-7823998/  (17 March 2022)

Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has decided to impose a fine on big residential housing societies if the STP at their premises are found non-functional. The civic administration has warned the housing societies that it would start severing their drainage and water lines if they do not operationalise the STPs.

The big housing societies, officials said, include those with more than 200 flats and Pimpri-Chinchwad has 145 such. “Setting up STPs is mandatory for those with more than 200 flats,” officials said. The PCMC administration said if the STPs are not found functional, the respective housing societies will face a fine up to Rs 500 per day.

Besides the daily fine, civic officials said they will also face an “on-the-spot” fine up to Rs 2,500-5,000. “It will depend upon the capacity of the STPs. The STPs with a capacity of 300 KLD will face a fine of Rs 2,500 and those between 300 to 500 KLD will face a fine up to Rs 4,000 and those above 500 KLD will face a fine of Rs 5,000,” officials said.

Kulkarni said the PCMC administration also plans to appoint squads to conduct sudden raids and take action against guilty residential societies. Kulkarni said the housing societies which have STPs get a rebate in their electricity bills. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pimpri-chinchwad-civic-body-sewage-treatment-plants-drainage-water-8067902/  (03 Aug. 2022)

Indore This makes it clear why the claims of the Kanh and Saraswati Nadi being cleaned in Indore is false claim.

Hyderabad Inspired by the Rhine, the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD) Department of Telangana is now planning to build nearly 14 bridges across the Musi and Esa rivers. The new bridges will essentially reflect the historical significance of the locations where they will be built along the two rivers. The Telangana government will construct the project with a cost of Rs 545 crore by incorporating the modernity of the bridges located on the Rhine and bridges built on the rivers that flow through Paris, officials said. https://telanganatoday.com/europe-like-bridges-on-musi-esa-rivers  (11 Dec. 2022)

RIVERS

Tamil Nadu TANTRANSCO fails to remove towers from river Violating NGT direction, the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation (TANTRANSCO), state-owned power transmission system operator, has failed to remove temporary structures constructed on water bodies in Chennai’s outskirts. This could worsen the flood situation there, say residents. Kumaresan Sooluran from Thiruvallur approached the tribunal in May stating that TANTRANSCO, as a part of the Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) expansion project, had erected towers on Kosasthalaiyar river near ecologically sensitive Ennore creek.

It is to be noted that the environmental clearance (EC), obtained for the project without mandatory public hearing, was challenged before the NGT and subsequently the state agency applied for fresh clearances.Subsequently, the alignment of the towers was ‘illegally’ changed which was a clear violation of Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) rules. Besides this, some of the towers are likely to be constructed in mangrove areas, said Kumaresan in his petition. TANTRANSCO in response said that the ETPS Expansion project was taken up on four different routes and it involves construction of 30 towers. Of this, 17 fall within the waterbody. While some of them were already installed, foundations have been laid for the rest.

In the view of ensuing northeast monsoon, the NGT Southern Zone on October 10 asked the transmission corporation to ‘immediately’ remove structures, constructed for the purpose of installing towers, as there should be a free flow of water on the river to avoid flooding. The authorities were allowed to reconstruct these structures once the monsoon was over. The obstructions created in the river are yet to be removed and, moreover, construction debris, which was dumped, has been removed only superficially thereby reducing the depth of the river to a person’s knee height, according to photos submitted by the petitioner before the tribunal in November. So, the NGT has directed the corporation to immediately act on it and save the city from one more deluge. The case is scheduled to be heard on December 16. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/tantransco-violates-ngt-orders-fails-to-remove-towers-from-river/articleshow/95989075.cms  (05 Dec. 2022)

Telangana STPs to check pollution in Godavari, Krishna State government has proposed to construct sewage treatment plants (STPs) of various capacities, ranging from 0.5 MLD to 20 MLD in about 30 ULBs in the two river basins. In the Godavari basin, 25 ULBs have been identified for the construction of STPs with a capacity of around 285 to 290 million litres per day (MLD) and, in the Krishna basin, five ULBs have been identified with a capacity of around 33 to 34 MLD. In the Krishna basin,  five STPs will come up at Gadwal (14.55 BLD), Alampur (2.72 MLD), Leeja (5.74 MLD), Makthal (4.56 MLD) and Kollapur (5.16 MLD). 

The State government will take up the construction of the STPs by utilising the services of private agencies. For three to 20 MLD STP plants which minimise land requirement, Anaerobic-anoxic-oxic (A2O), Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR), Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR), nanotechnology etc will be preferred, for less than three MLD plants, Soil Biotechnology (SBT) and Phytorid plants will be preferred. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2022/nov/22/telangana-sewage-treatment-plants-to-check-pollution-in-godavari-krishna-2520782.html  (22 Nov. 2022)

GANGA Industrial effluent, sewage water polluting rivers in country: NGT chief Lambasting the seven states through which river Ganga flows, Justice Goel said that the Centre had allocated Rs 25,000 crore under the Mission for Clean Ganga, but none of these state governments has so far taken any concrete steps to stop the flow of dirty water and industrial discharge into the Ganges. The NGT has directed these state governments to submit the expenditure report to the prime minister, who is the head of the Mission for Clean Ganga.

The NGT chief said that imposing penalties on a state government by the NGT will not be enough to control the pollution until the people awaken themselves and raise their voice against it. Justice Goel appealed to people to come forward on their own to help clean the environment as government machinery alone could not do it.

While talking about the Water Act, 1974, Seechewal said that there had been many violations of this law, but the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had not punished anyone under this Act. The people of Punjab were suffering from cancer and other dreadful diseases due to the polluted environment, he added. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/jalandhar/industrial-effluent-sewage-water-polluting-rivers-in-country-national-green-tribunal-chief-8266810/  (14 Nov. 2022)

West Bengal River erosion threatens largest botanical garden India’s largest botanical garden — Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden in Howrah— is under threat due to severe land erosion by Ganga river, experts flagged during a recent site visit.  The erosion has increased significantly in the last few years, observed Ujjal Mukherjee, retired chief scientist of SPCB. The river has encroached around 200 metres of the southern part of the garden, just beside a concrete jetty built around a decade ago, noted Datta.

Erosion along the Ganga bank lining Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden in Howrah, West Bengal. Photo: Jayanta Basu/DTE

BSI Director AA Mao admitted that the erosion has reached critical levels and claimed that the rate has quickened due to the jetty in the southern fringes of the garden. “River water keeps bouncing back from the concrete jetty, affecting the bank. That’s why the area closest to the jetty suffers the worst erosion.” Locals like Hira Devi, who have been living in the nearby makeshift huts for close to five decades, also said that the erosion started since the construction of the jetty began. Large barges also navigate close to the river bank, with Netaji Subhas Dock being located almost right opposite, said another expert. “This creates strong waves that seem to have quickened the erosion.”

The cost of managing bank erosion is very high — around Rs 25 crore per km, another official of the port agency pointed out. A few years ago, a tripartite committee was formed involving senior officials from KPT, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and the state irrigation department, they added. “It was decided that the cost of addressing erosion would be equally divided among the three.”  Both KPT and IWAI asked for funds from the Union government for stopping erosion but received nothing, the official shared. A senior state irrigation department official also mentioned that there is a fund crunch to undertake any detailed remedial work.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/erosion-by-ganga-threatens-india-s-largest-botanical-garden-in-howrah-86440  (08 Dec. 2022)

NMCG Water minister chairs 10th meeting of ETF During the meeting, the minister reviewed the progress of various components under the Namami Gange Programme as central ministries and states provided an update on the developments and mapped out their future plans. He directed them to expedite the work being done for the holistic rejuvenation of River Ganga.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare informed of the steps taken to build organic farming and natural farming corridors along River Ganga. Tourism Ministry said that a comprehensive plan is being worked out for development of tourism circuits along Ganga.

The Ministry of Power is taking steps in the direction of reuse of treated wastewater of thermal power plants by adopting cluster approach whereas the Ministry of Rural Development is actively looking for convergence of activities under MGNREGA for rejuvenation of small rivers and protection of traditional water bodies. Environment Ministry is mulling scaling up of afforestation activities in the Ganga belt and a detailed plan to take ‘Project Dolphin’ forward is also underway. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/gajendra-singh-shekhawat-chairs-10th-meeting-of-empowered-task-force-of-clean-ganga-mission-11670598046732.html  (09 Dec. 2022)

‘Clean Ganga’ changes course to conservation, tourism, livelihood. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/clean-ganga-changes-course-to-conservation-tourism-livelihood/article66251290.ece  (11 Dec. 2022)

YAMUNA Agra NGT forms panel to obtain factual report on pollution The report had to cover various aspects, including the quantity of sewage generation in Agra, its existing sewage treatment capacity, actually-utilised capacities of STPs and quantity of sewage being discharged through drains, the bench said. “The report may also highlight the water quality of river Yamuna at different locations and the steps taken in terms of preventing discharges into the river,” the green panel said. It said the pollution control board in Uttar Pradesh would be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance. The matter has been listed on March 1 for further proceedings.

According to the petition, a huge number of aquatic animals, including fish, died in the past few years while the river had turned into a nala (drain) near the Taj Mahal. The riverbed has risen due to non-undertaking of the requisite desilting and dredging activities and there is high faecal coliform contamination in the river, the petition said. “STPs installed at Agra are not sufficient to meet requirements and whatever is installed is not working at their prescribed capacity,” it said. https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/ngt-forms-panel-to-obtain-factual-report-on-pollution-of-yamuna-river-in-agra/cid/1902153  (05 Dec. 2022)

Noida NGT seeks report on Hindon pollution in 2 months NGT has sought a factual report from a joint committee on all aspects of rejuvenating the Hindon river and its tributaries before meeting the Yamuna. The NGT has given the committee two months to submit the report, on a petition filed by a Noida resident.

The petition was filed by Noida resident Abhisht Kusum Gupta. The NGT referred to its order dated September 20, 2020, in which it directed all states and Union Territories to prepare action plans within two months for bringing all the polluted river stretches to be fit at least for bathing purposes within six months from the date of finalisation of the action plans. February 1, 2023, is the next date of hearing.

A bench comprising justice Sudhir Agarwal and Prof A Senthil Vel, expert member, on November 25, 2022, sought the factual report from the joint committee of the UPPCB, the UP Jal Nigam, the MoEF, the NMCG, and a representative of the principal secretary of the irrigation department. UPPCB will be the nodal agency for compliance and coordination. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/ngt-orders-panel-to-submit-report-on-hindon-pollution-in-two-months/articleshow/95842206.cms  (29 Nov. 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

DTE 2 Indian turtles added to list of threatened species In a step forward towards conservation, two Indian turtle species — the red-crowned roofed turtles (Batagur kachuga) and Leith’s soft-shell turtle (Nilssonia leithii) — have made it to the Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The decision was made at the ongoing 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) in Panama City. The species were moved from Appendix II to Appendix I which means the species is threatened with extinction.

Red-crowned roofed turtle is native to India, Nepal and Bangladesh and known to be widely found in the Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins, according to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). At present in India, the National Chambal River Gharial Sanctuary is the only geographic area where the species is found in substantial numbers. Leith’s soft-shell turtle inhabits rivers and reservoirs mainly in southern peninsular India, in states like Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Its presence is substantial in the Cauvery, Tungabhadra, Ghataprabha, Bhavani, Godavari and Moyar drainages.

Although some of these species are found in protected areas, their habitat is under threat. Major threats for these turtles and other species are increasing loss of habitat due to pollution and unchecked urbanisation. Other reasons for habitat loss include water extraction and irrigation, leading to irregular flow of upstream dams and reservoirs. Sand mining and agriculture activities along the Ganga are significantly affecting the sandbars, which are safe nesting areas for the species, according to WII. Besides, drowning due to illegal fishing nets, poaching and illegal trade further threaten their existence. Earlier in 2019 during the 18th CITES plenary meeting in Geneva, Indian star tortoises were added to the Appendix I. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/cites-cop19-two-indian-turtles-facing-high-risk-of-extinction-added-to-list-of-threatened-species-86179  (24 Nov. 2022)

Report Identifying mugger using drone tech to minimise conflicts Researchers in Gujarat have developed a model to identify individual mugger crocodiles using artificial intelligence. The research team used drones to collect images of muggers in three different locations in Gujarat with very different ecosystems – Vadodara, Kachchh and Anand. The model could be useful in rescue and relocation efforts to minimise human-crocodile conflicts and in analysing mugger biology. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/11/identifying-individual-mugger-crocodiles-using-drone-technology-to-minimise-conflicts/  (24 Nov. 2022)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

IWP Small scale inland open water fisheries of India Inland waters are a rich source of fish. Das, B. K., Parida, P. K., DebRoy, P., and Roy, A. (2022) in “the Vulnerability to Viability, Global Partnership (V2V)” Working Paper 2022-8 titled ‘A situational analysis of small-scale inland open water fisheries in India: From vulnerability to viability’ inform that the inland fishery resources of India are one of the richest in the world and include freshwater and brackish water.

– Inland fisheries produce more than 8.4 million tonnes of fish and support the livelihoods of 23.12 million inland fishers in the country. The inland open water fisheries sector is largely small-scale in nature and includes culture-based fisheries, natural stocking and harvesting, enclosure culture (cage and pen culture) and capture fisheries. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/small-scale-inland-open-water-fisheries-india  (04 Dec. 2022)

Assam Govt’s stake in India’s Blue Revolution Assam dreams of becoming self-sufficient in fish production by 2026. Assam’s annual production has also increased to 4.32 lakh tonnes in 2021-22 from 3.93 lakh tonnes in 2020-21. However, it is a paradox that despite being endowed with a large number of wetlands and a vast river network of the Brahmaputra, Barak and their tributaries the state needs to procure 10-15 Tons fish every day from other states to meet its demand.

– According to official estimates, beels in Assam have a potential for fish production of more than 1000 kg per hectare annually but the production is less than 500 kg/Ha/per year. The degradation of the ecosystem of many beels due to siltation, pollution and other factors has also led to declining productivity. Failure to conserve these floodplain wetlands in Assam will lead to the permanent loss of a huge natural endowment of quality and nutrient local fish production. The river network in the state also has been playing a crucial role in providing livelihood to lakhs of fishermen but the indiscriminate sand mining has destroyed the ecology of several rivers in the state resulting in a decline in fish production not just in these rivers but also the floodplain wetland of these rivers.

– Fish stock in the Kulsi river, for instance, and Dora beel, famous for its natural stock of fish and huge fish production, has depleted posing a threat to the survival of the population of state aquatic animal-river dolphin, locally known as Xihu, of the river. The fish productivity of Dora beel has declined alarmingly as the flow regime of Kusli has changed due to the destruction of the river bed and the process of auto-stocking of fish seeds in the beel by the river has been adversely affected.

– The Fishery department has reportedly estimated a total requirement of about Rs 4,000 crore for the state to become self-sufficient in fish production. The trend of underutilization of funds released by the Central Government, however, indicates that the department needs to enhance its capacity for fund utilization so that the estimated fund required by it to implement the proposed action plan is judiciously utilized. https://www.sentinelassam.com/editorial/assams-stake-in-indias-blue-revolution-626837  (07 Dec. 2022)

Telangana Centre built to train farmers cash in on Murrel Fisheries Department is now focusing on extensive farming of Murrel (Korra Meenu, state fish) to cut down the consumption of hybrid species and promote indigenous species. It has set up a Centre of Excellence at Wyra in Khammam for breeding and seed production. Since July, breeding activity has commenced at the centre and measures are being taken to train farmers in Murrel farming. The idea was to promote entrepreneurship among farmers. Considering the people’s liking for Murrel in the State and the remunerative price it fetches farmers, the department was taking measures to conduct free training programmes for Murrel farming at the Centre of Excellence, Fisheries Commissioner Lachiram Bhukya said. https://telanganatoday.com/cashing-in-on-popularity-of-murrel-in-telangana  (11 Dec. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Thousands of fish found dead in Cauvery Thousands of fish have died and stagnated on the Cauvery river banks in Salem camp, Chinnakavur, Thangamapuripattinam, and near Sangili Muniappan Kovil over the last three days. As the water discharged through the 16-vent surplus sluices was stopped, water stagnated like ponds and between rocks at a few places in these localities. Foul smell emanated from the dead fish at these places.

Meanwhile, local people levelled allegations against some fishermen, who used to catch fish in the river. The fishermen allegedly used explosives to catch big fish at night, which they found in the stagnant water between the rocks. Due to the vibration created by the explosives, the small fish fainted and died, the locals alleged.

Water Resources Department (WRD) officials attached to the Mettur Dam said that fish die when dissolved oxygen levels in the water are low. During every season, fish would die like this. The fish are living in the stagnated water between rocks, and while the heat increases after the rainy season, it reduces the oxygen level in the water. So, the fish cannot survive, officials said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/thousands-of-fish-found-dead-on-the-banks-of-river-cauvery-in-mettur/article66157041.ece  (19 Nov. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh गोमती नदी में तड़प कर मर गईं हजारों मछलियां  गोमती नदी में जहरीले पानी से लाखों मछलियां और जलीय जीवों की मौत हो गई है। कई गांवों के लोग नदी के किनारे तड़प रहीं मछलियों को पकड़कर अपने घर भी ले गए हैं। नदी के किनारों पर मरीं और जिंदा मछलियों के ढेर लगे हुए हैं। जतनगंज पुल से लेकर चपरतला गांव से आगे तक पांच किलोमीटर की दूरी में अत्यधिक मछलियां मरी पाई गईं हैं। ग्रामीणों को आशंका है कि अजबापुर शुगर मिल से जहरीला पानी छोड़ा गया है। जहां गोमती में पानी गिरता है वहां पानी में काफी झाग भी बन रहे हैं। जलस्तर काफी बढ़ गया है। उसकी धार भी तेज हो गई है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/lakhimpur-kheri/thousands-of-fish-died-in-agony-in-gomti-river-lakhimpur-news-bly5060515165  (07 Dec. 2022)

Bengaluru Murky truth of Sarakki Lake Incidents of fishes dying at Sarakki Lake in south Bengaluru were reported in the last week say locals and lake activists. However, they have been removed from the water body promptly and systematically. Lake activists and concerned citizens say there is a total lack of maintenance and accountability mechanisms when it comes to Bengaluru’s water bodies. It appears to be a systematic process of covering things up.

The wetland area is spread over five acre and it receives treated/untreated water from the surrounding before it enters the lake. While the upkeep of the lake inlets is a prerequisite for a healthy lake ecosystem, Sarakki Lake inlets are in shambles and may be one of the main reasons for pollution in the lake which has led to the fish kill. “The inlets are not maintained properly. Although there is a diversion channel, sewage enters the waterbody even with a slight surge in the flow from this channel. While there is a sewage treatment plant of 20 MLD capacity, the lake water quality looks poor as it has turned brackish,” said Dr Khitij, adjunct faculty at the National Law School of India University and a local. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/murky-truth-of-sarakki-lake/articleshow/96010221.cms   (06 Dec. 2022)

Jammu Kashmir Mass fish death in Basantar river due to industrial waste in Sept. 2022.

SAND MINING

Uttarakhand Classification of rivers to set up stone crushers illegal: NGT The principal bench of NGT has declared the state government’s decision to classify streams into “perennial and non-perennial rivers” for setting up of stone crushers illegal for violating the NGT Act, and ordered the government to “revisit the policy”. The order of NGT bench led by chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel read: “We hold that distinction of perennial and non-perennial for locating stone crushers or other such plants for maintaining distance is hit by the principle of ‘sustainable development’ under Section 20 of the NGT Act, 2010 and is ‘illegal’.”

In its 19-page order, the green tribunal gave examples of Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and other states which had met similar fate in trying to violate the NGT Act. “We order the state of Uttarakhand to revisit its policy/regime to do away with such distinction for protection of all streams, water courses/rivers,” the order stated. The chief secretary of the state has been directed to “take remedial action accordingly for compliance” of the NGT order, it stated. Besides, the NGT reminded Uttarakhand that “The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 ‘does not distinguish’ streams as per definition under section 2(j).”

Petitioner Sanjay Kumar, in his plea filed through advocate Gaurav Bansal on September 11, alleged that the government has allowed miners to set up plants as close to 500m from the bank of a “perennial” river and just 50m away from a “non-perennial” river via an amendment made to the mining policy in 2021. These limits were earlier 1km and 500m, respectively. The petitioner had alleged that for the wrongful gain to stone crushers and screening plants, the distinction was done in violation of umpteen significant laws of the land ranging from the NGT Act to Environment and Water Acts.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-classification-of-rivers-to-set-up-stone-crushers-illegal-says-ngt/articleshow/96097783.cms   (09 Dec. 2022)

Odisha Women take up fight against illegal sand mining A large number of locals, mostly women, have taken it upon themselves to fight the sand mafia operating on the banks of Mahanadi river in Mahakalapada block of Kendrapara district.  Residents of Patalipanka, Chanda, Kodakana and other villages stopped sand mining by unscrupulous elements with help of JCB machines near a bridge at Nilachal Market on Thursday (Dec. 08). The also detained sand laden vehicles.

Mandakini Rout of Patalipanka village said, the locals decided to protest against illegal lifting of sand from the river bed and near pillars of the bridge after local authorities did not pay heed to their pleas. “The pillars of the bridge over the river will weaken if illegal sand lifting is not stopped in the area,” she warned. Naliniprava Behera of Kodakana said the roads leading to the villages in the area have been damaged due to movement of sand laden trucks and tractors. Unauthorised sand mining is a lucrative cottage industry for influential persons in the riverside villages, another villager said. Sand mining has also led to deterioration of law and order situation in the villages as members of mafia often clash with each other.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/dec/09/women-in-kendrapara-villages-take-up-fight-against-illegal-sand-mining-2526501.html  (09 Dec. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Dredging Irrigation Canals, Wetlands, Flood Channels Raja Muzaffar Bhat: KAREWAS have been in the news for many years now as they continue to be destroyed through massive clay mining. This illegal activity has gained momentum during recent months as the clay obtained from Karewas is used for filling low lying areas for construction of Srinagar Semi Ring Road project in Budgam , Pulwama , Srinagar districts. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has allotted the construction work to a Private Firm from Gurgaon who are excavating huge amounts of clay from the Karewas in Budgam which is causing large scale plunder of this geological treasure of Kashmir. The situation is very serious now as the destruction is massive from the last 3 to 4 months. The NHAI which has tendered out this work should have explored the alternative ways to get this filling material. It seems no research has been done by them and the company executing the work.

On the other hand, local district administrations of Pulwama and Budgam including the Geology & Mining Department, State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority and Pollution Control Committee are mute spectators to this loot and plunder. Our Geological and archeological treasures are being erased.  https://kashmirobserver.net/2022/12/05/dredging-irrigation-canals-wetlands-flood-channels/  (05 Dec. 2022)

Himachal Pradesh After Chakki bridge washout, illegal mining a threat to road bridge next to it Officials admitted to IANS that road traffic bridge, which was opened on January 10, 2011, is still facing the threat of collapse in a flashflood of similar intensity that damaged the Chakki rail bridge as the illegal mining continues unabated on the riverbed in Punjab. In the August flashflood, two pillars of the bridge were exposed. They were repaired but many lapses in maintenance, an official said, adding “it’s vulnerable owing to callousness”.

As a precautionary measure and considering the history of flashfloods, operation of trains on this line was suspended from July 14. It said the July 31 flashflood in the Chakki river resulted in damage to protection works and scouring near Pier No 3 of the bridge that developed a crack. On August 20, a cloudburst was experienced in the area leading to abnormally heavy water discharge with high velocity in the Chakki river. Protection works done by the Railways to protect the piers of the bridge suffered extensive damages as the river bed downstream was very low. Seven piers and six spans of the bridge were washed away or declared unsafe.

Taking note of the disaster, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought reports from the Punjab government on collapse of the railway bridge on August 20. “The railway bridge was destroyed during floods again, owing to illegal mining. In the circumstances, as there are reports of illegal mining in the said river as well, the authorities and parties are also directed to place on record the steps initiated by the state in this regard,” the bench of Justices R.S. Jha and Arun Palli had observed during a hearing on the illegal mining in Punjab. https://latestnews.fresherslive.com/articles/after-chakki-bridge-washout-illegal-mining-a-threat-to-road-bridge-next-to-it-1092771  (06 Nov. 2022)

Bihar Sand-mining poses threat to Koilwar bridge A railway official at Danapur, on condition of anonymity, said if the illegal mining of sand in the periphery of the foundation of the pillar is not immediately checked, it will be unsafe for the traffic movement. According to sources, the railways took notice of the fact that about three lakh cubic feet sand was being dug out every day from the restricted area around the bridge, and it has weakened the foundation of the pillars.

A letter was sent to the state government in May 1999 to check the mining of sand from the prohibited area, but to no avail. The railways sent a reminder in July 2001, but it, too, evinced no positive response, the sources said. However, irked at the silence of the state government, the railways sent an SOS to the government in April this year. Unfortunately, it, too, failed to wake up the authorities concerned, the sources said.

Realising the gravity of the situation and poor condition of the bridge, the railways have issued a warning that no sand mining will now be carried out within the restricted area of 2,000 feet on the south and 1,000 feet on the north of the bridge, the sources said. Recently, the railway put up a warming board even near the bridge to caution people against mining sand in the restricted area, but it has no desired effect, the sources said.

The state government is charging about Rs 350 per truck for mining and loading of the sand, it is learnt. Crores of rupees are thus realised each month for the government from sand mining under the Koilwar bridge. The Koilwar bridge is one of the oldest road-cum-rail bridges in the country. It was built by the British in 1900  and is the only direct link of Patna with New Delhi and the main lines Howrah end. It is about 4,300 feet long, supported by 29 main foundation pillars. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/sand-mining-poses-threat-to-koilwar-bridge/articleshow/22106825.cms  (14 Sept. 2022)

Sand Mining – A Photo Essay in Koilwar, India https://sagemagazine.org/sand-mining/  (25 Sept. 2022) Sand-mining poses threat to Koilwar bridge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMdewBWiVE8  (2012) https://www.livehindustan.com/bihar/story-bihar-police-came-up-with-unique-trick-to-stop-illegal-sand-mining-in-ara-bhojpur-made-barrier-under-koilwar-bridge-with-seized-boats-4274635.html   (30 July 2021)

Likely Ban on Mining Soon According to a senior official in the state mines and geology department, sand mining is likely to be banned from December 25 in view of an interim order of the Patna High Court. An advisory message sent out from the state mines and geology department to different government departments asks them to stock sufficient amount of sand for construction work. However, the department has officially not announced anything yet. But, common people are worried about the likely sand crisis.

The state mines and geology department recently directed the district officials to finalise the settlement of lease of authorised ghats on different rivers for sand mining.  After realising that it cannot check illegal sand mining by powerful nexus in the widespread riverine belt that also causes huge losses to the public exchequer, the state government has decided to increase sand mining with certain regulations to earn more revenue.

In September, ignoring the absence of a scientific study and data on the impact of sand mining on river beds and the environment in Bihar, the state government had doubled sand mining ghats to increase revenue. This had raised eyebrows among river experts and environmentalists. Until May 30, 2022, sand mining was being done on 435 ghats on different rivers in 16 districts. The state mines and geology department plans to allow sand mining on 900 river ghats in 28 districts.

However, till date, there is no scientific study or data on the impact of sand mining on rivers. River experts and environmentalists have warned that mindless sand mining had already ruined river ecosystems, health and biodiversity. Kiul river is on the verge of extinction, and the Sone river bed is damaged. The yellow sand of Sone is in high demand in the construction sector, unlike Ganga, which is grey said that is mainly used for filling.https://www.newsclick.in/bihar-sand-crisis-people-reports-ban-mining-soon  (10 Dec. 2022)

Mengaluru Lokayukta raids various illegal sand mining spots Three teams of Lokayukta police raided Beltangady, Bantwal and Mulky places in Dakshina Kannada and confiscated JCB, tipper and other assets worth Rs 40 lac and handed over the same to respective police stations. Three criminal cases are registered against the offenders. In the direct phone-in of Lokayukta that was held on Friday (Dec. 09), 25 complaints were heard from public with regards to illegal sand mining. SP Laxmi Ganesh said that these complaints also include those pertaining to revenue department, pollution control board and MUDA and actions will be taken soon against them also. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1027951  (10 Dec. 2022) The SP said that the Lokayukta officials are verifying on illegal sand extraction in other places as well. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/illegal-sand-extraction-properties-worth-rs-40-lakh-recovered-1170224.html  (09 Dec. 2022)

Haryana Set up control room to report illegal mining in Aravalis: NGT NGT has directed the state government to set up a control room and notify a phone number to register the public’s complaints on illegal mining in the Aravalis. The November 27 directive came on a petition, by the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement, which alleged that stones were being cleaved off the hills in 16 locations across Gurgaon, Nuh and Faridabad despite a Supreme Court ban on mining in the protected forests.

The NGT bench of Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi and expert member Afroz Ahmad also summoned senior officials of the Haryana Police, forests and wildlife department, mining department and the state pollution board, asking them to clarify details about illegal mining and measures taken to act against it. The officials — Haryana DGP PK Agarwal, director for mining and geology Mukul Kumar, principal chief conservator of forests Jagdish Chandar and Haryana State Pollution Control Board’s regional officer Kuldeep Singh — have to appear before the tribunal physically or via video conferencing on March 13, 2023, when it next takes up the case. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/set-up-control-room-to-report-illegal-mining-in-aravalis-ngt/articleshow/96123325.cms  (10 Dec. 2022)

Killing the Aravallis Despite a Supreme Court ban 14 years ago, largescale mining continues unabated in the Aravallis. https://www.news9plus.com/shortvideo/killing-the-aravallis  (Dec. 2022)

Meghalaya Social worker demands resumption of limestone export Social worker Evalyni Kharbani has petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to resume limestone export to Bangladesh which has been banned by the High Court of Meghalaya as per its judgment on November 24. In her petition to the PM, Kharbani said export of limestone and other minerals from Meghalaya to Bangladesh has been carried out for the last 50 years after obtaining all the requisite permission for the same. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/12/05/social-worker-knocks-on-pmo-door-for-resumption-of-limestone-export/  (05 Dec. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Bihar “Remove waterbody encroachments in 14 districts in 4 weeks: HC The Patna High Court has directed the circle officers (COs) of Patna, Magadh, and Saran divisions (having control of over 14 districts) to remove waterbodies encroachments in their respective areas within 4 weeks. The 14 districts concerned are Patna, Nalanda, Bhojpur, Rohtas, Buxar, Kaimur, Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Saran, Siwan, and Gopalganj.

Taking into account the statements made on the record by the Circle Officers of all the 14 districts pertaining to the steps taken by them to remove the encroachment, the bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Partha Sarthy, however, expressed satisfaction with the efforts made by them till now. However, the Court did caution the Circle Officers that the Court would not hesitate in initiating proceedings, should the need so arise, if it is found that the affidavit filed is contrary to the factual position at the ground level. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/remove-waterbody-encroachments-14-districts-4-weeks-satisfied-steps-taken-so-far-patna-hc-to-authorities-215871  (05 Dec. 2022)

NGT bans illegal construction around 3 ponds in Darbhanga Taking note of petition filed by Talab Bachao Abhiyan (TBA), an outfit actively engaged in conservation and protection of ponds, the NGT bench, headed by justice B Amit Sthalekar and judicial member Dr Afroz Ahmad, issued an order to ban any illegal constructions around three ponds – Harahi, Dighi and Ganga Sagar in Mithila, situated in Darbhanga city besides issuing directions to constitute a committee to look into the issues in wake of concerns raised by the TBA that untreated sewage and waste water were being discharged through drainage by Darbhanga junction as well as municipal corporation directly into the Dighi pond, due to which flora and fauna of the pond was severely affected. The next date of hearing is January 10, 2023.

Earlier, the curator of Chandradhari Museum, Darbhanga had apprised the railways authorities in February this year to stop discharge of untreated wastewater into Dighi pond. People visiting museum had earlier lodged a complaint regarding a strong stench emanating from the pond. “The three ponds that exist in a linear position were interconnected to each other and considered an engineering marvel of its time continue to served its purpose till date. However, owing to complete neglect and rather continuous damage which is being caused by way of encroachment and illegal dumping of garbage and sewage into these ponds, the conditions had worsened”, said the petitioner, Narayan Jee Choudhary, TBA convenor.

According to an interim application filed by the petitioner, the TBA had prayed before NGT to pass an order imposing an ad interim fine of ₹30 crore on railway ministry and Samastipur DRM for discharging untreated sewage and waste water from Darbhanga station into Dighi pond and immediately stop the same. However, the presiding judge maintained that in the absence of an alternate plan, the railways and municipal authorities be allowed to submit counter affidavits within fixed time to present remedial measures. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/blanket-ban-on-illegal-construction-around-3-ponds-in-bihar-s-darbhanga-ngt-101670558402609.html  (09 Dec. 2022)

Manipur Indigenous Meitei lose floating homestays Manipur state has chosen multimillion-dollar projects over humble tourist attractions on the Loktak freshwater lake. The state has not offered any compensation, resettlement or rehabilitation to the homestay owners. Neither has the government formally notified the lake under the wetland rules, which would have required it to acknowledge the existing livelihood rights of the people.

The people most affected by changes on and around Loktak were never part of any of the government’s plans for the lake. For the people living in the floating village of Thanga, their future has now been cast adrift. And what if the LDA does not make good on its promise to issue designs and regulations to allow homestays to function in an authorised manner? “This was the first time, so we have compromised. But next time, we will agitate,” said Hemanta. “We have a hand-to-mouth existence. What other choice do we have?” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/7/future-adrift-indias-indigenous-meitei-lose-floating-homestays  (07 Dec. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Committee to determine buffers around Dal The government on Friday (Dec. 9) constituted a technical committee of experts to determine the buffers around Dal lake and allied water bodies falling in Srinagar metropolitan region. “The Committee shall be serviced by the J&K Lake Conservation and Management Authority and shall complete its task within two months from the date of Issuance of this order,” said GAD secretary Dr Piyush Singla, while referring to order passed by the High Court in PIL No 159/2002, titled Syed Iqbal Tahlr Geelani versus State of J&K and others on September 8, 2022 and a communiqué of Housing & Urban Development Department.

The terms of reference of the Committee will be to comprehensively examine, after due consultations with the stakeholders, the question of buffers of the Dal and allied water bodies covered by the Srinagar Master Plan 2035, from an environmental or lake ecosystem and urban planning or design point of view for the sustainability and conservation of these water bodies also ensuring that the gains from the efforts over the last two decades are taken to their logical conclusion. Based on this, the Committee will also submit a comprehensive report with clear and unambiguous recommendations on the extant of the buffers around these water bodies and the permissible activities that could be allowed in the buffer zones or in such areas beyond the buffers as would be necessary in the Interest of the conservation of these water bodies. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/kashmir/technical-expert-committee-to-determine-buffers-around-dal-allied-water-bodies  (10 Dec. 2022)

Kerala Greens seek action against filling of wetland Environmental organisations are stepping up pressure on the government to adopt stringent measures to stop reckless filling of wetlands for business ventures at Lakkidi, a highly ecologically fragile area in Wayanad. In a letter to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samiti secretary Thomas Ambalavayal said that a private individual had constructed a vehicle parking area near the “En Uru” tribal heritage village project at Thalippuzha near Lakkidi by allegedly filling a wetland in contravention of the Kerala Paddy Land and Wetlands Conservation Act.

The parking ground, on around 1 acre of land, beside the Kozhikode-Kollegal NH-766, was constructed after bulldozing a nearby hillock and blocking the flow of two rivulets on the catchment area of the Kabani River, Mr. Thomas alleged. The rivulets were demarcated in the village records of the Kunnathidavaka village in Vythiri taluk. The bulldozing of the hillock was posing a serious threat to the houses of tribespeople on the hill top, he added.

Two bridges were also constructed across the Thalippuzha and Anamala rivulets to get easy access to the En Uru project with the alleged support of officials of the NH, Revenue and Mining, and Geology departments as well as the authorities of En Uru project, he alleged. A quick intervention of authorities was the need of the hour to stop the illegal and unscientific land usage. If the authorities fail to adopt steps to ban the construction activities and restore the status of the land, the organisation would legally challenge it, Mr. Thomas said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/greens-seek-action-against-filling-of-wetland-in-wayanad/article66226832.ece  (06 Dec. 2022)

The Vembanad lake which serves as a lifeline for 1.6 million people in Kerala, is also one of the most polluted water bodies in the world. https://scroll.in/video/1038410/eco-india-why-it-is-essential-to-protect-our-wetland-ecosystems-from-degrading  (27 Nov. 2022)

Hyderabad Squatters Usurp Shangri-La Ameenpur lake, once sprawling across 300 acres of land, the lake has now shrunk to just 93 acres, witnessing hundreds of encroachments eating away its buffer zone and full tank level over the last three decades. According to the latest data from the SPCB, there are around 900 encroachments identified on the lake. The latest historical satellite imagery displayed during the presentation showed the rapid decline of the water body from 1985 to 2022.

Activists and nature lovers rue that a private road that has been built dividing the lake into two parts has given an ugly look to the water body. “The road got its legal sanction by the court but it certainly has affected the lake in a big way as many birds, mostly flamingos that usually nest during the winter had drastically reduced. They have chosen to move away to other water bodies that are less impacted by urbanisation,” Ravi Chander, a social activist told TOI.

Experts note that the lake needs to have a large chunk of its encroachments removed to ensure that the surplus water doesn’t flood the residences built on its full tank level. The 440-year-old man-made lake was declared as Telangana’s first water body to be recognised Biodiversity Heritage Site by the state government of Telangana as it was built during the Ibrahim Qutb Shah period, who ruled the kingdom of Golconda between 1550 and 1580 and surrounded by beautiful rock formations. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/birds-paradise-lost-in-hyderabad-squatters-usurp-shangri-la/articleshow/96098600.cms  (09 Dec. 2022)

Maharashtra HC allows felling of 22K mangrove trees The Bombay High Court Friday (Dec. 09) allowed the plea of National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) for the felling of 21,997 mangrove trees in Mumbai, Palghar and Thane to clear the route for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project “in public interest” subject to various conditions. The court asked NHSRCL to abide by its undertaking that it will strictly comply with all terms and conditions set out in the approvals of the projects and its assurances to the court. It refused a request by the NGO Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), an intervenor, to stay operation of its order.

The plea stated that the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) and the MoEF&CC (in its March 29, 2019, direction) had requested to shift the Virar and Thane stations of the project, which were supposed to be situated near the mangroves so that the number of affected trees could be reduced. It added that as per the directions, the NHSRCL changed the alignment and shifted these stations, resulting in the requirement of removing only 21,997 mangrove trees, instead of the 53,467 proposed earlier. The corporation also said it has taken permission from all authorities concerned.

However, BEAG, also known as Conservation Action Trust, had objected to granting such a permission and said the NHSRCL cannot use explosives for construction in the prohibited area and relaxation for such activities should not be granted. The NGO, through advocate Sheetal Shah, also said that no study was undertaken about the survival rate of saplings to be planted as a compensatory measure and the EIA report for felling trees has not been provided. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-bullet-train-project-trees-bombay-high-court-8314908/  (09 Dec. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh Forest minister proposes ‘one district-one wetland’ initiative Forest minister Arun Kumar Saxena has asked his department to come up with ‘one district-one wetland’ initiative to promote eco-tourism on the lines of the ‘one district-one product’ scheme launched by Indian Railways. During a review meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 07), he directed divisional forest officers to ensure wetlands being developed should focus on eco-tourism. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/forest-minister-proposes-one-district-one-wetland-initiative-101670610898292.html  (10 Dec. 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Civil Society.

Karnataka Kasaragod caves: Visiting unique suranga The unique suranga, a traditional water harvesting structure, a narrow cave dug inside a hill which yields crystal-clear water, is a tourist attraction in Kerala’s Kasargod district. There are thousands of them here. Normally 30-40 m long, it can be upto a km long. https://civilsocietyonline.com/lifestyle/inside-kasaragod-water-caves-visiting-the-unique-suranga/  (10 Dec. 2022)

Hyderabad Bansilalpet baoli restored The Bansilalpet stepwell is situated in Secunderabad. Kalpana, who runs the Rainwater Project, had signed a MoU)with the Telangana government to restore the stepwell in 2021. With over two decades of experience as an interior architect and designer she is also looking to create an experience for citizens, to keep the project sustainable.

Kalpana and her team restored the Bansilalpet stepwell in such a way that it is now a matter of pride for the locals there. With six levels, the baoli was reworked on with designs from the Kakatiya period. The exact age of the stepwell is however not known. The stepwell was historically part of a garden of tamarind and palmyra trees during the British period. https://www.siasat.com/model-restoration-hyderabads-bansilalpet-baoli-opens-today-2472412/  (05 Dec. 2022) Once a dumpyard, Hyderabad’s Bansilalpet stepwell has been revived. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUOafx93Omw  (06 Dec. 2022)

Bengaluru Lake activist breathes new life into polluted wetland Moved by the plight of villagers of Neguli panchayat on Kanakapura Road, who had to breathe foul air due to the polluted Naganayakanahalli Lake, lake activist Revathi Kamath marshalled men, material and resources to clear it up. Two acres of wetland here had not been desilted for the past three decades, leading to a pervasive stink around the area.

Kamath, 63, said the silt has been removed and rejuvenation work will start soon. However, she said she is not getting cooperation from Bengaluru Electric Supply Company (Bescom) officials in removing high tension cables across the 7-acre lake, and officials reportedly claimed that they have no funds to do so. “I have been into lake development for the past six years. Recently, villagers here complained about the bad smell. After I visited the place, I decided to fix the issue. I removed the silt from the two acres of wetland using resources and men. After a few days, the polluted silt dumped at one corner will be removed and rejuvenation work will begin in full swing,” she said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2022/dec/07/lake-activist-breathes-new-life-into-polluted-wetland-in-bengaluru-outskirts-2525734.html  (08 Dec. 2022)

Leh Sewer-cleaning robot ‘Bandicoot’ introduced A drain-cleaning robot named ‘Bandicoot’ has been introduced for the first time in Leh city as part of the efforts to rid the area of manual scavenging by Municipal Committee Leh (MCL) on a trial basis. Executive Officer MCL Stanzin Rabgais said that Genrobotics Bandicoot was procured after seeing their operational performance in 17 states and union territories of the country.

The initiative of the Municipal Committee Leh to mechanise sewer cleaning would promote and contribute towards Mission Zero Manual Scavenging and aid in achieving the goals of the Swachh Bharat Mission. It is also in accordance with the advisory issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India (GoI) to set up an Emergency Sanitation Response Unit (ESRU) at the district level under the Responsible Sanitation Authority (RSA) to eliminate hazardous manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.

The ‘world’s first robotic scavenger’ Bandicoot is designed and developed by Genrobotics, a national award-winning startup, to eliminate manual intervention from cleaning confined spaces like sewer manholes and provide a safer workspace for sanitation workers. Bandicoot Robot consists of two units, a stand unit and a robotic drone unit. The robotic drone unit with a multi-functioning robotic arm dives into the manholes for cleaning or unblocking operations. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/sewer-cleaning-robot-bandicoot-introduced-in-ladakh  (06 Dec. 2022)

Report A History of Human Waste as Fertilizer Sanivation’s collection service is somewhat similar to that of eighteenth century Japan, albeit more hygienic. The company supplies residents with simple toilets that accumulate waste in tightly closed containers regularly picked up by Sanivation’s service. As they move from house to house, the collectors wear masks and gloves—and deliver the sealed containers to the processing facility. https://daily.jstor.org/a-history-of-human-waste-as-fertilizer/  (18 Nov. 2019)

GROUNDWATER

Questions raised over latest groundwater assessment by CGWB “There is no ground reality change that will lead to extra reduction. It has been on an upward trend for six decades at the macro level. That recharge upwards also seems problematic as sys- tems like wetlands and riverbeds are getting destroyed. We need convincing evidence,” says Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator with SANDRP. (Business Standard 231122)

– On average, there are only nine assessment units per district. “They are mainly tehsil-level units. This is clearly much larger than an aquifer-level assessment and can lead to mis- leading conclusions,” says Thakkar. Thakkar also says it is important to see if there has been an increase in the areas that are critical or waterlogged.

Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP says, “The findings on recharge and extraction both seem counter-intuitive. What is happening on the ground doesn’t seem to reflect what has been reported.” He also said that given aquifers—except the alluvial formations—are very localised, the assessment units are too large to reflect the condition accurately. Also, whether the additional recharge is happening in water-logged areas or saline areas—accrual in the latter would mean the recharge can’t be used—needs to be seen. “Communities need to be made aware and empowered to collectively conserve groundwater,” Thakkar says. https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/science/explainer-decoding-indias-groundwater-data/2889792/  (24 Nov. 2022)

The latest groundwater data showing an increase in recharge and a decrease in extraction may not be offering an accurate representation, observe water experts, since the assessment units are too large in size and too few in number to present a micro-level picture. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/groundwater-report-does-not-capture-the-aquifer-level-data-water-experts-122112201005_1.html  (23 Nov. 2022)

UN Groundwater Summit 2022 to help raise awareness The importance of protecting groundwater and methods for its sustainable use will be the highlights of the United Nations-Water Summit on Groundwater 2022 that begins December 7, 2022 in Paris, France. The two-day conference will be organised by UN-Water, UNESCO and the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre. The summit that aims to raise awareness on groundwater conservation at the global stage will mark the completion of the “Groundwater: Making the invisible visible” campaign run by UN-Water throughout 2022. The importance of protecting groundwater and methods for its sustainable use will be the highlights of the United Nations-Water Summit on Groundwater 2022 that begins December 7, 2022 in Paris, France.

The two-day conference will be organised by UN-Water, UNESCO and the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre. The summit that aims to raise awareness on groundwater conservation at the global stage will mark the completion of the “Groundwater: Making the invisible visible” campaign run by UN-Water throughout 2022. The key takeaways from the summit will be presented at the UN 2023 Water Conference to be held in New York in March 2023. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/un-groundwater-summit-2022-to-help-raise-awareness-on-aquifer-protection-sustainable-use-86406  (06 Dec. 2022)

West Bengal High salinity forces people to buy water, leave farming Many people like Bibhas Mondal and Shikha Mondal who are facing the problems have raised these issues with CM Mamata Banerjee when she visited their village in North 24 Parganas district last week. Banerjee directed the district authorities to address their problems. Her government also has plans to create a new district, Sundarbans, and the affected area will be included in it.

Expressing concern over the issue, marine scientist Dr Abhijit Mitra said that the salinity in the water of the area is increasing since the early 1980s, especially in the central part of the Indian Sundarbans region. The central sector of the Indian Sundarban biosphere reserve is hyper-saline. No freshwater discharge is coming from the upstream area and this part is receiving only the tidal water of the Bay of Bengal, the Calcutta University teacher said.

“The salinity in water in this zone has been increasing but the rise gained momentum since 2009 after Cyclone Aila hit West Bengal. Now, there is around 20gm of salt in one litre of water which is unthinkable for agriculture,” he said. However, the situation in the eastern sector of the biosphere, in which the village falls, is not so bad. Talking on condition of anonymity, a senior state government official said that the administration is working hard to address every issue in that area. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/dec/09/high-salinity-in-groundwater-forces-people-in-sundarbans-to-buy-drinking-water-leave-farming-2526554.html  (09 Dec. 2022)

Haryana Karnal faces water shortage of 1,205 MCM annually On an average, the district has recorded an alarming downfall of the water table by 12.86 m between 2000 and 2021. The water table of the district was at 8.57 m in 2000 and reached 21.43 m in 2021. As per data of the Irrigation Department, there is an annual requirement of 2,205 million cubic metre (MCM) of water in the district, while the availability from all resources like canals, groundwater, rainfall, ponds and others is only 1,000 MCM, so the district is facing an annual deficit of 1,205 MCM. From the annual water demand, 86 per cent is required only for the agriculture sector, while the remaining sectors such as domestic, livestock, poultry, industrial, fisheries, forestry, establishments and others have a requirement of 14 per cent.

Assandh block is facing an annual shortage of 191.95 MCM, Gharaunda 173.47 MCM, Indri 79.81 MCM, Karnal block 167.34 MCM, Kunjpura block 154 MCM, Munak block 127.6 MCM, Nilokheri block 161.39 MCM, and Nissing block 150.29 MCM, said Navtej Singh, XEN, Irrigation Department. “The non-availability of canal water across the district, over-dependency on groundwater, cultivation of water guzzler paddy crop in Kharif season and wastage of water are major challenges,” said Sanjay Rahar, Superintending Engineer, Irrigation Department. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/karnal-faces-water-shortage-of-1-205-mcm-annually-459429  (10 Dec. 2022)

URBAN WATER

Film on evidence of viability of in situ communitarian urban water management Over the past few years it has become increasingly clear that centralised urban water management in India 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, 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 Chhattisgarh 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.counterview.in/2022/12/film-on-evidence-of-viability-of-in.html  (08 Dec. 2022)

Pune Technical study for 34-km tunnel project almost over The 7.8-meter-wide and 34-km-long tunnel’s (fom Khadakwasla dam to Phursungi in the eastern suburbs) construction is estimated to cost Rs 1,500 crore through the blasting method and Rs 3,000 crore if done through Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).

“The technical study of the Khadakwasla-Phursungi tunnel for water is almost complete. Boring was carried out to study the soil every 50 metres. The study is under scrutiny and a detailed report of it would be submitted to the state water resources department by month-end,” said Pravin Kolhe, executive engineer, of the state water resources department for Bhima valley. The water resources department has also undertaken a seismic refraction survey and electrical resistivity survey of the 5-km stretch of the tunnel from Khadakwasla. 

The state water resources department has approached the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) for funding the project. There is an option of implementing the project with funding from PMRDA as it would ensure the water supply at a concessional rate. Otherwise, the project will have to be implemented through the budgetary provision of the state water resource department. Also, there is an option for land monetization that would be available upon the closing of the canal. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/34-km-tunnel-project-from-khadakwasla-dam-to-phursungi-8313032/  (09 Dec. 2022)

Mumbai 2 die cleaning choked sewer in Rabale MIDC Two labourers attached to a private company died after inhaling toxic fumes emanating from a choked sewer chamber they were cleaning from within. Another sanitation worker has been admitted to the hospital in critical condition. The incident took place on Saturday (Dec. 03) afternoon in the Rabale MIDC area, said police. The deceased have been identified as Jharkhand native Mr Vijay Hansda, 29, and Mr Sandip Hanbe, 35, from Digha in Airoli, while Mr Sonot Hansda, 49, was injured. During the probe, police found the workers were not provided with the necessary safety apparatus and registered a case against the site engineer for negligence.

Jan 2019: Three men including a contractor died allegedly inhaling poisonous gases after entering a manhole to clean it in Panvel’s Kalundre village. The two labourers were not trained conservancy workers but were hired to deliver tools to the contractor. Mar 2022: Three workers died while cleaning a public toilet in Kandivali (West). Apr 2022: Three workers died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a septic tank in Virar. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/navi-mumbai-2-die-cleaning-choked-sewer-in-rabale-midc; https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/2-workers-die-while-cleaning-underground-chamber-in-navi-mumbai-police-3586287  (07 Dec. 2022)

Bengaluru Non-compliance of NGT orders This report lists NGT orders regarding revival of some lakes inclucding KR Puram lake, Yele Mallappa Shetty Lake which remain unimplemented. And last week, on December 2, the NGT dismissed a plea by the government seeking a modification of the Tribunal’s order directing the State to immediately deposit Rs 500 crore as environmental compensation for failing to protect the Chandapura lake in Bengaluru and for violation of the buffer zone at the lake.

In several cases across India, the NGT has ordered criminal liabilities and registration of FIRs, said Vashishta. However, it needs to be ascertained if the orders have been complied with, he added. “In some cases, for example, the Yamuna river, the compliance is low. Water security is vital for the survival of a sizeable population. I think the NGT can call for quarterly reports and create a special monitoring mechanism on the compliance with its orders,” Vashishta added.  https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/despite-multiple-ngt-orders-karnatakas-inaction-against-encroachments-risks-more-floods-9677921.html  (09 Dec. 2022)

Defying high court orders, the BBMP has axed 12 large trees, some at least 100 years old, for road widening at Hosakerehalli Lake. The civic body’s RR Nagar division failed to follow the process prescribed by the court for axing trees while implementing public projects. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/ignoring-hc-directions-bbmp-officials-axe-12-trees-in-hosakerehalli-1170356.html  (10 Dec. 2022)

The fencing around the lake is broken and the waterbody receives industrial effluents as well as untreated sewage from storm-water drains despite the presence of a sewage-diversion drain. (Express photo by Jithendra M)

Sewage and encroachment choke Madavara lake The fencing around the lake is broken and the waterbody receives industrial effluents as well as untreated sewage from storm-water drains despite the presence of a sewage-diversion drain. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/lakes-of-bengaluru-sewage-encroachment-choke-madavara-lake-8317422/  (11 Dec. 2022)

Layout gets BBMP’s ‘silent treatment’ For more than a year, residents of HBR Layout have been complaining about desilting of the stormwater drain (SWD) in their locality. The drain has reportedly become a dumpyard for all kinds of waste, leading to a foul smell emanating from the area. The layout, which was earlier ‘ward number 24’, has now been divided into four wards after the ward delimitation was carried out. The residents revealed that they have been making complaints in every ward meeting about the SWD issue, but Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) SWD engineers have never turned up in the meeting or for a spot inspection to check the problem. A resident of HBR layout 5th Block stated that an earth mover was recently sent to desilt the SWD, but the work was half done and has been left unfinished. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/layout-gets-bbmps-silent-treatment/articleshow/96092313.cms  (09 Dec. 2022)

Coimbatore Corporation releases long pending dues to TWAD Following the increase in revenue collection, the Coimbatore Corporation has started settling the pending dues to Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD). The Corporation has collected ₹151 crore in property tax since July this year when the revised property tax regime came into force. The total property tax demand for the financial year 2022-23 has been estimated at ₹344 crore. On an average, the civic body collects ₹2 crore to ₹2.5 crore as taxes and other charges daily and allocates 37% for water supply and 18% for education, said Corporation Commissioner M. Prathap. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/coimbatore-corporation-releases-long-pending-dues-to-tamil-nadu-water-supply-and-drainage-board/article66247113.ece  (10 Dec. 2022)

Faridabad FMDA to increase water charges The price of bulk drinking water supplied by the Faridabad Metropolitan Development Authority (FMDA) is set to increase by five per cent from April 1 next year. The FMDA has been charging Rs 10 per KLD from the Municipal Corporation Faridabad (MCF).

The FMDA was handed over operations and maintenance of all ranney wells, one of the major source of water, operational in the Yamuna river-bed in the district. Around 1,600 tubewells operated by the MCF in various parts of the city were supplying 80 to 100 million litres per day (MLD) of water, thus ensuring availability of 350 MLD. However, the demand has been around 450 MLD of water.

“The FMDA rate is too much. Consumers are charged between Rs 2.80 and Rs 4.50 per KLD of water and is unchanged for the past 10 years,” said an official on condition of anonymity, adding that the MCF has been unable to clear a bill to the tune of Rs 35 crore. The FMDA has been supplying around 230 MLD of water from as many as 22 ranney wells, which is around 69.7 per cent of the total availability. Neha Sharma, spokesperson, FMDA, said 12 new ranney wells were under construction, which would increase supply to 450 MLD of water next year. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/come-april-shell-out-5-pc-more-for-water-in-faridabad-459422  (10 Dec. 2022)

Delhi Landfills show scale of climate challenge Bhalswa is not Delhi’s largest landfill. It’s about three meters lower than the biggest, Ghazipur, and both contribute to the country’s total output of methane gas. Methane emissions aren’t the only hazard that stem from landfills like Bhalswa and Ghazipur. Over decades, dangerous toxins have seeped into the ground, polluting the water supply for thousands of residents living nearby. Most people in Bhalswa rely on bottled water for drinking, but they use local water for other purposes – many say they have no choice. https://edition.cnn.com/2022/12/10/india/india-bhalswa-landfill-pollution-climate-intl-hnk-dst/index.html  (11 Dec. 2022)

Srinagar Haphazard implementation of Smart City projects Commuters and traders have expressed strong resentment against simultaneous execution works including Smart City projects across the summer capital saying haphazard implementation chokes roads and leads to traffic jams. They said various projects like drainage, roads, and other development projects have forced partial closure of roads and traffic diversions across the city. The experts also believe that coordination under one umbrella, having a city development council, and expert opinions are important aspects of Smart City creation. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/city/haphazard-implementation-of-smart-city-projects-evoke-resentment  (05 Dec. 2022)

भागलपुर बोतल बंद पानी के भरोसे दो लाख आबादी छह वर्षों में 40 हजार से बढ़ कर 1.50 लाख जार पानी का कारोबार पहुंच गया है. उच्च मध्यमवर्गीय व उच्च वर्गीय लोग बंद बोतल पानी का सहारा ले रहे हैं. इससे लाखों के बोतल बंद पानी का कारोबार रोजाना हो रहा है. लोगों को रोजाना औसतन 40 लाख से अधिक रुपये पानी जार पर लगाना पड़ रहा है. https://www.prabhatkhabar.com/state/bihar/bhagalpur/people-of-bhagalpur-drink-bottled-water-after-buying-40-lakh-rupees-daily-asj  (04 July 2022)

धनबाद  रोज 56.6 लाख का पानी पी रहे शहर के लोग

WATER POLLUTION

UN World Toilet Day 2022: Sanitation and groundwater The World Toilet Day 2022 campaign, called ‘Making the invisible visible’, focuses on the impact of the sanitation crisis on groundwater, exploring how inadequate sanitation systems spread human waste into rivers, lakes and soil, polluting underground water resources. As climate change worsens and populations grow, groundwater is vital for human survival. The central message of World Toilet Day 2022 is that safely managed sanitation protects groundwater from human waste pollution. https://www.unwater.org/news/world-toilet-day-2022-sanitation-and-groundwater  (20 Oct. 2022)

World Bank Unintended water pollution externalities of latrine construction in India. Guest post by Kazuki Motohashi. https://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/unintended-water-pollution-externalities-latrine-construction-india-guest-post  (01 Dec. 2022)

Goan Connection Plastic Wastes; Rural India’s Trash Bomb Plastic waste generation is on the rise in the country but there is no separate data on the quantity of such waste generation in rural India. The waste collection and management system is almost non-existent in rural areas of the country. 

Plastic waste chokes the Allupur village nallah that was once a source of potable water for its inhabitants. “Before handpumps came into our village, this is where we got our drinking water from. Today we cannot even stand near the filthy drain,” complained Giridhari, a resident of the Allupur village, 40 km from Lucknow. It is no different in Chincholi village in Maharashtra’s Osmanabad district. “Every village has a natural flow of water which leads towards the pond. In the absence of a proper waste management system, when people just dump polythene bags and wrappers and it rains, the wastes travel down to the pond,” Ashok Pawar, a resident of Chincholi, told Gaon Connection. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/plastic-waste-rural-india-pollution-management-soil-fertility-farmers-health-water-ponds-recycle-data-cpcb-toxic-51474?346436  (08 Dec. 2022)

WATER

Rajasthan Pipelines laid but no water On May 11, 1998 India successfully carried out underground nuclear tests at a site three kilometres away from the Khetolai village in Pokhran. Twenty four years, the village that made India a global leader in nuclear energy, has little drinking water, barely functioning health centres and a problem of drug dealing and gambling. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/pokhran-nuclear-test-village-khetolai-thar-rajasthan-rural-development-atomic-bomb-test-site-healthcare-education-51441 (22 Nov. 2022)

AGRICULTURE

Centre Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Dec 5, 2022, the World Soil Day said the government has approved the National Mission on Natural Farming as a separate scheme with an expenditure of ₹1,584 crore. However, the details of the scheme are yet to be released. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1880936  (05 Dec. 2022) https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/centre-approves-1584-crore-national-mission-on-natural-farming/article66226053.ece  (05 Dec. 2022)

Report India’s rice farmers find themselves on front line of water crisis India’s farmers, despite their vulnerability to water stress, often depend on a series of incentives and subsidies that encourage them to grow water-intensive crops, like rice. For example, many receive free electricity that allows them to pump water from the ground, which depletes groundwater levels.

These farmers also depend on the annual monsoon — the rainy season that sweeps across the subcontinent between June and September. Yet climate change has made these rains more volatile, triggering unpredictable combinations of intense flooding and droughts. Historic flooding in Pakistan this year, for example, devastated crops in the south of the country, while farmers in already dry regions face intensifying water stress. https://www.ft.com/content/92408b4c-f46d-4daf-bc5f-0308bb9ea61b  (20 Oct. 2022)

Punjab State staring at water crisis: Seechewal During the winter session of Parliament, Rajya Sabha member and environmentalist Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal raised the issue of Punjab’s deepening water crisis and appealed to the central government to help Punjab and its farmers who are feeding the nation. Presenting the data, Seechewal said that 80% agriculture in Punjab is being done with underground water, while only 20% farming is done with canal water. According to the report of NITI Aayog, out of 133 blocks in Punjab, 109 blocks have turned into dark zones. At present, 100 million people in about 21 states of India are facing drinking water crisis. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/jalandhar/centre-help-punjab-water-crisis-seechewal-rajya-sabha-8315115/  (09 Dec. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmri Artificial fertilisers harmful for groundwater: Scientist An agricultural scientist has warned against the use of artificial fertilisers in the agricultural fields to get more produce stating that would have harmful effects on the human body and groundwater. The use of modern techniques has given more produce to farmers and eased agricultural activities but it has given birth to multiple diseases. The agricultural scientists term this situation as “alarming” while asking farmers to adopt old farming techniques for sustainability. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/state/artificial-fertilisers-harmful-for-human-body-groundwater-agriculture-scientist  (09 Dec. 2022)

MONSOON 2022

TWM Special – Hippo western bands of Cyclone Mandous to fall over KTCC https://tamilnaduweatherman.in/2022/12/09/twm-special-hippo-western-bands-of-cyclone-mandous-to-fall-over-ktcc/  (09 Dec. 2022)

HFL Breach 2022

Andhra Pradesh River Kalangi part of East Flowing Rivers between Pennar and Kanyakumari has breached old HFL 100.05 m dated 12.11.2021. New HFL is 100.11 m at 08:00 hours on 10.12.2022 which is 0.06 m higher than old HFL. Present flood level is 99.52 m at 14:00 hours on 12.10.2022 with falling trend.

LANDSLIDES

DAVE PETLEY BLOG: Save The Hills (a group based in Darjeeling Himalayas) has produced two short but powerful documentaries about the impact of landslides in a remote village, Pathing.  The first video was made in November 2022, highlighting the way in which the large Gaguney Landslide is steadily and systematically destroying the loves of this rural community.  The video combines testimony from the local people with stunning drone footage. Whilst this landslide has been active for two decades or more, in recent months it has become more active, spalling rocks almost continually.  The debris has inundated land and blocked roads, as well as representing a major hazard for the local residents.

– Tragically, Save The Hills visited the site a week later to find that the situation had deteriorated desperately.  The footage was collected at the end of November, when the landslide had become much more active.  The government ordered evacuation of the village. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2022/12/12/save-the-hills-pathing-1/  (12 Dec. 2022)

CLOUD BURSTS

SANDRP Blog J&K & Ladakh Cloud Bursts 2022: Missing Monitoring & Mitigation Through available media reports, we could compile 36 incidents of cloud bursts occurring in J&K (32) and Ladakh (4) region before and during south west monsoon 2022. 6 incidents have taken place in pre monsoon months of May (3) and June (3), all in J&K region. 22 of these disasters (19 in J&K and 3 in Ladakh) have been witnessed in July. The remaining 8 (7 in J&K & 1 in Ladakh) have been reported in Aug 2022. Unlike in Uttarakhand & Himachal Pradesh, we could not find such incidents in Sep-Oct in these UTs. 

At least, 25 human lives were lost and scores were injured in flash floods and landslides triggered by these cloud burst incidents. Similarly, about 225 cattle were killed and over 80 houses including shops, cowsheds; over a dozen foot and road bridges and water mills were partially or fully damaged in cloud burst aftermath. All the human casualties have taken place in J&K region with maximum at least 17 during July 8 disaster at Amarnath Shrine. This excludes over 30 persons whose bodies have not been recovered as yet.

Almost all the geographical areas in both UTs be it hill stations, religious sites, defence settlements or urban towns have faced the cloud burst disaster severely impacting the public infrastructures and private properties including interior roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, water and power supply lines, agricultural lands, crops and orchards. While the numbers and impact of cloud burst disasters is gradually increasing; the monitoring and mitigation arrangements are totally inadequate. In most of the cases, the destruction has been a result of unplanned developments and encroachments of drainage channels. The death toll in Amarnath shrine is an example of government negligence. https://sandrp.in/2022/12/12/jk-ladakh-cloud-bursts-2022-missing-monitoring-mitigation/  (12 Dec. 2022)

जम्मू कश्मीर अमरनाथ यात्रा के लिए नदी से दूर हो ढांचागत संरचनाओं का विकास एनजीटी ने निर्देश दिया है कि अमरनाथ यात्रा के दौरान बुनियादी ढांचागत संरचनाओं का विकास नदी के किनारे से दूर किया जाए। साथ ही तीर्थयात्रियों की सुरक्षा और पर्यावरण संरक्षण के लिए आवश्यक सुरक्षा उपाय अपनाए जाएं। ट्रिब्यूनल वीरवार (Dec. 8) को एक याचिका पर सुनवाई कर रहा था, जिसमें दावा किया गया था कि इस वर्ष अमरनाथ की पवित्र गुफा के पास सूखी नदी के तल पर तीर्थयात्रियों के लिए टेंट लगाने में पर्यावरण और सुरक्षा मानदंडों का उल्लंघन किया गया था।

इसमें कहा गया है कि नियमों का पालन नहीं करने के कारण एक जुलाई को अचानक आई बाढ़ में 16 श्रद्धालुओं की मौत हो गई। जुलाई में जस्टिस एके गोयल की अध्यक्षता वाली पीठ ने जम्मू-कश्मीर प्रशासन से इस पर जवाब मांगा था। संबंधित प्राधिकारों ने अपने जवाब में कहा था कि वह पर्यावरण के नियमों का पालन करने के लिए प्रतिबद्ध हैं और यह सुनिश्चित करेंगे की भविष्य फिर ऐसी घटना की पुनरावृत्ति न हो। जवाब पर गौर करते हुए पीठ ने कहा, यह हादसा प्राकृतिक आपदा है और यह मानवीय सीमा से परे है।

पवित्र अमरनाथ गुफा के बाहर लगाए गए टेंट 8 जुलाई को सैलाब की चपेट में आ गए थे। बाढ़ में बहने और मलबे में दबने से 16 लोगों की मौत हो गई थी। आपदा प्रबंधन से जुड़ी एजेंसियां कई दिनों तक मलबे में दबे लोगाें को तलाशती रहीं। इस घटना के बाद इंतजाम करने वाली एजेंसियों पर सवाल उठाए गए थे। आरोप था कि जहां से पानी गुजरता है, उसी नाले के पास टेंट लगा दिए, जिससे बारिश का पानी 16 लोगों की मौत का सबब बन गया। https://www.amarujala.com/jammu/augment-infrastructure-for-amarnath-yatra-at-distance-from-riverbed-ngt  (09 Dec. 2022)

Can’t Rule Out Cloudburst: DG, IMD The ferocious flash flood near the Amarnath cave was triggered by a cloudburst in the upper reaches which remain inaccessible to the country’s weather department, said India Meteorological Department (IMD) head M Mohapatra in the aftermath of the tragedy. “We have 15 automatic weather stations along the Yatra route, and one automatic weather station just over the Amarnath cave which reported around 28mm rain. But that does not mean there was no cloudburst. Certainly, there has been rainfall away from the holy cave in the upper reaches because of which the water came gushing down the hills. Since we do not have any observatory up there, we cannot confirm. But we cannot rule it out either,” said Mohapatra, while speaking exclusively to News18.

“A cloudburst is a very highly localized event, with a size of 1 kilometre or even less, and a short life cycle of few minutes or less than an hour. Its detection itself is very difficult, especially in western Himalayan region where there are so many higher reaches and ground observations are nearly impossible. We can only depend on remotely sensed observations from satellites and radars,” he added.

Satellites can provide data every half an hour, which indicates cloud development, intensity and its movement. Based on this, the department issues forecast for heavy or intense rains. But, in between, a cloudburst can occur. Radars, on the other hand, have higher resolution, provide data every 10 minutes, and can detect clouds holding more water.

“Radars are our best bet, but even they have their own limitations. Their radiations can get obstructed by hill ranges. Often these tall, dense convective clouds less than 1 kilometre can escape the radar. We will not get many pixels to describe that type of convective clouds. The clouds behind a hill will also not be covered. It is not possible to increase their number, since there are challenges of accessibility, network connectivity and availability of land,” he said. “The resolution of visual images from these radars is still 1 km, but for Infrared (IR) images (day and night) it is 4 km.”

There are now four X-band radars in the western Himalayan region worth Rs 6.5 crore each with a range of 100 kilometres in Srinagar, Leh, Jammu and another is coming up in Banihal near the Amarnath cave. Hit by operational delays, the radar will be operational within the next few days, said Mohapatra.

“But even then, one cannot predict cloudburst,” said the IMD head. “In fact, not just India, but cloudburst cannot be predicted anywhere in the world because we do not have the numerical models with a capacity to predict events of such small scale. All we can do is predict an intense spell of heavy rainfall. For that type of scale, we need observations and computational models. The current state-of-art numerical models do not have the capacity to predict these events worldwide.” https://www.news18.com/news/india/exclusive-cant-rule-out-cloudburst-says-imd-dg-on-amarnath-tragedy-admits-detection-nearly-impossible-5553799.html  (14 July 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Karnataka Why Wildlife Board Refused To Create A Protected Area An MLA’s son. A mining baron. A pediatric doctor. These are some of the appointments made by Karnataka’s government to the State Board for Wildlife, a body of experts meant to provide advice on the effect of infrastructure projects on wildlife and forests. Many members lobbied for appointments with elected representatives and ministers, who backed nominations and later interfered in board decisions. https://www.article-14.com/post/friends-family-favours-why-the-karnataka-wildlife-board-refused-to-create-a-protected-area–62782784ccfe8  (09 May 2022)

Explainer India’s history with defining open ecosystems Mahima Jain Nearly 70% of the areas which are open natural ecosystems overlap with those which the government calls wastelands. Grasslands, part of open natural ecosystems, sequester 146 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year and support 500 million livestock and over 20 nomadic tribes in India. Land-use change such as intensive agriculture, afforestation drives and renewable energy projects threaten open natural ecosystems. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/12/explainer-wastelands-or-grasslands-indias-history-with-defining-open-ecosystems/  (06 Dec. 2022)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Report Tibetan Plateau lakes seen freezing late, melting early The lakes on the Tibetan Plateau, the world’s highest, showed a trend of delayed freezing and earlier melting compared to what had been usual over the four decades up until 2017, underscoring the impact of climate change on some of the planet’s most vulnerable regions, reported a new study. Around four-fifths of the 132 lakes monitored on the Tibetan Plateau saw the length of time they were covered by ice shortened by a few days to over 50 days between 1978 and 2017. The publication appeared in Scientific Data, Nature’s open access scientific journal, by researchers from the Chinese state-backed China Academy of Sciences.

– Warming global temperatures have led to the disappearance of some 6,000 glaciers on the -Tibetan Plateau over the decades. The average temperature in the region increased by 0.42 degrees Celsius per decade from 1980 to 2018, twice the global average rate. The Dec 2 report is stated to be based on remote sensing and mathematical modeling supported by meteorological data. https://www.tibetanreview.net/tibetan-plateau-lakes-seen-freezing-late-melting-early-due-to-climate-change/  (07 Dec. 2022)

Haryana Nod to revised action plan on climate change The state-level steering committee on climate change met under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Sanjeev Kaushal and approved the revised State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC-2). According to the approved revised plan of SAPCC Phase-2 (2021-30), 73 actions have been proposed. Out of these, 37 are strongly linked to adaptation, 28 are linked to mitigation and eight strategies have linkages to both adaptation and mitigation. The total proposed budget for these activities in 10 years (2021-30) amounts to Rs 39,371.8 crore. For the final approval, the plan will be further submitted to the national-level steering committee, MoEFCC. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/nod-to-revised-action-plan-on-climate-change-459441  (10 Dec. 2022)

World Bank India to experience heat waves beyond human survival limit Severe heat waves, responsible for thousands of deaths across India over the last few decades, are increasing with alarming frequency and soon the country could become one of the first places in the world to experience heat waves that break the human survivability limit, according to a new World Bank report “Climate Investment Opportunities in India’s Cooling Sector”. The peak temperatures will be higher and will stay longer in future. The report will be released during the two-day “India Climate and Development Partners’ Meet” being organised by World Bank in partnership with the Kerala government. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/india-could-soon-experience-heat-waves-beyond-human-survival-limit-world-bank-3584977  (07 Dec. 2022)

Valuing rivers in the era of climate and nature crises Stuart Orr As the Global Center on Adaptation states — ‘The way humans and society will experience climate change is through water’. Yes, that’s rainfall, but it’s mostly rivers. Climate change is water change & angrier weather will make the river basin the most important development, conservation & planning unit we have. We can no longer neglect to plan from source to sea. And in many ways, river basins are more set up to be on the front lines of climate action.

Removing dams will be a key part of restoring 300,000km of river

This is certainly our ‘watershed moment’. A time for water scientists to step into the future, where engineers fear to tread, and lead the way. Interest in river restoration, wetland expansion and Nature-based Solutions — as well as in new forms of finance and nature positive outcomes — is rising. We can revive rivers — as essential cooling, greening connectors in the cross-hairs of the climate-nature crisis. But we have a chance now — through climate change — to restore rivers to their central place in our social and economic narrative. To re-frame the river as the most important landscape unit — not the lines on a map demarcating the 19 countries that share the Danube basin.

Let us break the sectoral blindness — not just of the water community, but of the energy and food sectors too. We must shout more loudly about solutions — because they exist. Like dam removals. They are proven solutions — bringing life and resilience back to rivers in Europe and the US. We need to share these positive stories — at a time when, let’s be honest, people really need them. And Valuing water — yes of course, this is central, but I’d argue Valuing Rivers is just as imperative. We want people to know what catchment they sit in as routinely as they know their postcode. And we need to remind everyone, all the time, that water doesn’t come from a tap — it comes from ecosystems. And more than that — it comes from Rivers. https://medium.com/@WWFWater/valuing-rivers-in-the-era-of-climate-and-nature-crises-c17ff4f1ac17  (01 Dec. 2022)

Rivers Are Key to Restoring the World’s Biodiversity Alessandra Korap Munduruku, Darryl Knudsen, Irikefe V. Dafe Biodiversity is plummeting, but restoring rivers could quickly reverse this disastrous trend. Free-flowing rivers are a critical safety net that supports our existence. To reverse the biodiversity crisis, we must follow the lead of Indigenous groups, elevate women’s leadership, grant rights to rivers, radically reduce dam-building and address other key threats to freshwater. What we agree to do over the next decade will determine our and the next generations’ fate. We are the natural world. Its destruction is our destruction. The power to halt this destruction lies in our hands; we only have to use it. https://www.internationalrivers.org/news/rivers-are-key-to-restoring-the-worlds-biodiversity/  (21 May 2021)

UN Chief sounds alarm at key UN biodiversity event The Secretary-General boiled down the action that needs to be taken in order to save nature, into three main areas. The first involves the implementation of national plans that would divert subsidies and tax breaks away from activities that contribute to the destruction of nature, towards green solutions such as renewable energy, plastic reduction, nature-friendly food production and sustainable resource extraction. These plans would also recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities as stewards of nature.

The second concerns the private sector which, argued Mr. Guterres, must recognize that profit and protection go hand-in-hand, meaning a shift by the food and agricultural industry towards sustainable production and natural means of pollination, pest control and fertilization; the timber, chemicals, building and construction industries taking their impacts on nature into account in their business plans; and the biotech, pharmaceutical, and other industries that exploit biodiversity sharing the benefits fairly and equitably. “Greenwashing”, he said – referring to unsubstantiated environmental claims made by companies – must end, and the private sector needs to be held accountable for actions across every link of business supply chains. https://news.un.org/story/2022/12/1131422  (06 Dec. 2022)

Mongabay Lake and archive diving with Atreyee Bhattacharya Atreyee Bhattacharya’s work takes her to lake beds and libraries. She analyses sediments drilled from old lakes and scours archival records to reconstruct past rainfall changes, understand variabilities, in order to work with policy makers to mitigate the effects climate change.

Bhattacharya says that using paleoclimate research to inform policies is very important. These evidence-based policies will help frontline workers and improve the food security of the country. This is the first episode of ‘Imprints’, a new podcast series in which the host talks to five paleoclimate scientists to understand how unearthing old data helps us to mitigate climate change. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/12/podcast-imprints-lake-and-archive-diving-with-atreyee-bhattacharya/  (09 Dec. 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

Map of Brahmaputra Basin.Source: Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, India

BRAHMAPUTRA Hydropolitics intertwined with geopolitics in the BRB Tanushree Baruah, Anamika Barua, Sumit Vij:- Abstract The legacy of the sub-continent has led to a complex geopolitical rivalry in the Brahmaputra River Basin, shared by China, India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. Each riparian state has a varying interest and development agenda, hindering the identification of common interests for water cooperation. This article presents the intertwining of regional geopolitics with the basin hydropolitics, restraining positive interaction, thus, leading to a status quo in the BRB. While maintaining a purposeful status quo seems to be a prudent move by the riparians, the local communities continue to suffer due to the impasse. https://wires.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wat2.1626  (02 Dec. 2022)

India-Nepal The government has moved the Supreme Court demanding it vacate its interim order on staying the decision to extend the deadline for GMR Energy to complete the financial closure of the 900-megawatt Upper Karnali hydropower project. The government had moved the court in mid-November seeking to vacate its November 3 interim order, which threw the future of the project into uncertainty as GMR won’t be able to work towards financial closure now. Financial closure means ensuring enough resources to implement the project. https://kathmandupost.com/national/2022/12/12/government-wants-top-court-to-vacate-its-interim-order-on-upper-karnali-hydropower-project  (12 Dec. 2022)

Nepal-Bangladesh JV project gets environmental nod The Ministry of Forest and Environment has cleared the Environment Impact Assessment Report for the proposed 160-billion-rupee, 683-megawatt Sunkoshi 3 hydropower project, paving the way for bilateral negotiations between Nepal and Bangladesh to develop the project. The two countries have agreed to develop the project through a joint venture investment as per the agreement reached between the two sides during the fourth meeting of the working group and joint steering committee held in August 2022.

– Officials said the government would share the report with Bangladesh as agreed in August. “Once we share the report with the Bangladeshi side, they will review it, seek needed clarifications and a joint technical team is then expected to visit the project site,” said Madhu Bhetuwal, spokesperson at the energy ministry. “After that, the two sides are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on project development, paving the way for joining project development.” https://kathmandupost.com/national/2022/12/07/nepal-bangladesh-joint-venture-project-gets-environmental-nod  (07 Dec. 2022)

Bhutan Female construction workers harassed at work: NCWC study Women working at hydropower sites, road, and bridge construction reported bullying and harassment at the workplace according to National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) study released recently. The study titled “Assessment of Gender Issues in Major Hydropower, Road and Bridge Construction Project sites in Bhutan 2021” reported that the victims said that no gender-based violence (GBV) awareness programmes were provided to the women and girls living in the vicinity of these workplaces.

– The report stated that women face sexual harassment at 9.23 percent, 12 percent, and 11.11 percent at hydropower construction sites, road construction sites and bridge construction sites respectively. The data indicate that, during the past three years between 2019 and 2021, 12.14 percent, 14.78 percent, and 9.23 percent respectively, of women at hydropower sites reported bullying and sexual harassment. https://kuenselonline.com/female-construction-workers-harassed-at-work-ncwc-study/  (10 Dec. 2022)

Pakistan Engineers warn of ‘severe’ groundwater shortage The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is technically water-abundant, but soaring groundwater use combined with a lack of data, planning and infrastructure is depleting its resources. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/climate/engineers-warn-of-severe-groundwater-shortage-in-northwest-pakistan/  (23 Nov. 2022)

Bangladesh Dhaka: A refuge that needs to be rescued Shamsuddin Illius With homes swallowed by floodwaters and river erosion, migrants from different parts of Bangladesh have opted to move to the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong for ‘safer ground.’ But these options for ‘safer’ ground are also sinking. Chittagong, on the other hand, has been identified as one of the coastal cities in Asia subsiding at a rate almost 10 times faster than the sea level is rising. Similar to Manila in the Philippines, it has sunk by as much as 20 mm per year over a 5-year period, during 2015-2020.

The city, often touted as the country’s commercial capital, also has a groundwater extraction problem. Before 2010, the Chittagong Water Supply and Sewage Authority (CWASA) was able to supply only 190 million liters per day (MLD), not even half the city’s required water supply of  500 MLD. Out of this 190 MLD, 100 MLD was taken from underground aquifers. https://unbiasthenews.org/dhaka-a-refuge-that-needs-to-be-rescued/ 

CHINA

China-funded dams pose a substantial risk to biodiversity  Batang Toru hydropower dam in Indonesia, which threatens to fragment and submerge a large chunk of the orangutan’s habitat, is just one of a staggering 49 hydropower dams China is funding in 18 countries including Pakistan, Laos and Myanmar: mostly across Southeast Asia, but also in Africa and Latin America. New research shows the substantial risk to biodiversity posed by the sheer number of Chinese-funded dams. And yet, environmental regulation of these projects has serious flaws. These dams will impede flow of 14 free flowing rivers.

– These dams overlap with the geographic ranges of 12 critically endangered freshwater fish species, including the iconic Mekong Giant Catfish and the world’s largest carp species, the Giant Barb. The dams exacerbate the threats to these species and may push them closer to extinction. Almost 135 sq km of critical habitat on land is also likely to be inundated and fragmented by the dams and their reservoirs. https://scroll.in/article/1039012/from-asia-to-africa-chinese-funded-dams-pose-a-substantial-risk-to-biodiversity  (06 Dec. 2022)

ASIA

Erosion along the Mekong and in its delta is threatening critical infrastructure and ecosystems (Image: Alamy/The Third Pole)

MEKONG Opinion Delta urgently needs a sand budget Marc Goichot With data on the flow of sand from the upstream Mekong and the amount being extracted, scientists can now calculate how much sand can be mined without further harm to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/nature/opinion-mekong-delta-needs-sand-budget/  (07 Dec. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Dam removal is expected to improve the health of the Klamath River, the route that Chinook salmon and endangered coho salmon take from the Pacific Ocean to their upstream spawning grounds, and from where the young fish return to the sea. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/science-nature/environment/20221209-75986/  (09 Dec. 2022)

Argentina Snapshot of worst drought in decades The drought in Argentina has led to sharp cuts to the country’s wheat harvest forecast and is threatening to derail corn and soy too. The country is the world’s top exporter of processed soy oil and meal and the No. 3 for corn. In Navarro, residents can walk across the 150-hectare local lagoon amid remains of shells and dead fish. With little rain forecast and high temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere summer, it is unlikely to refill any time soon.

The forecast of the National Meteorological Service for the December 2022-February 2023 period is for lower than usual rains in most of the agricultural core, which includes the north of Buenos Aires province and the south of Santa Fe. “There is a high probability of having very extreme maximum temperatures and very high minimum temperatures. Both are very high, that is it’s going to be very hot,” said climatologist and researcher Matilde Rusticucci. https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/arid-wheat-fields-dead-cows-snapshot-argentinas-worst-drought-decades-2022-12-09/  (09 Dec. 2022)

UK Barrister of river Roding ‘The Roding is sacred and has rights’: the hammer-wielding barrister fighting for London’s forgotten river Cleaning up this shunned and abused river and placing it in the hearts of those who live beside it in east London is daunting.

But Powlesland, a compelling, sprite-like young barrister who not only fights for nature in the high court but devises imaginative environmental campaigns and takes hands-on direct action, is undaunted. He moved here – chugging up the Roding on his narrowboat – five years ago, and anointed himself a local “nature guardian”. He created a charity, the River Roding Trust (RRT), found other local people wanting to clean up their river, and began its transformation. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/05/river-roding-barrister-paul-powlesland-london-polluters-footpaths  (05 Dec. 2022)

Amazon Shanay-Timpishka—the world’s only boiling river! As per the reports, he went on an expedition to central Peru in November 2011, to see the Boiling River for himself. He found out that the river is protected by the shaman of the small town Mayantuyacu, which is a secluded healing center. There, he got special permission from the shaman to study the water. He found out the water temperature here ranges from 120 degrees to almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit, while the mud of the riverbank was also too hot to walk on. And, if by any chance you fall in the water, you would suffer from third-degree burns in less than a second. He also found dead animals floating in the water that might have accidentally slipped and lost their lives.

Ruzon collected samples of different areas of the river, and found that the average temperature of the water is 187 degrees Fahrenheit, which is really hot! This feature seemed odd to Ruzo as the spot isn’t near any volcanic or magmatic activity. He conducted some investigation, and after testing different hypotheses, he believes that a fault-led hydrothermal feature was causing the river to reach such high temperatures. Also, as per legends, a giant serpent spirit named Yacumama or the Mother of the Waters, gives birth to hot and cold waters that heat the river. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/shanay-timpishkathe-worlds-only-boiling-river/articleshow/95882719.cms  (30 Nov. 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 05 Dec. 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 28 Nov. 2022  

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

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