DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 191222: Question marks over viability of pump hydro projects

(Feature Image: 1772 Mw PSHPs Spain. Photo courtesy of Iberdrola/ ENR)

The question marks over viability of huge number of pump storage hydro projects (PSHP) being pushed forward in India currently were flowing in the rivers for long. This week, Moody’s investors Service (MIS) seems to have strengthened this after it downgraded Greenko Energy Holdings’ corporate family rating. It may be noted that Greenko is the biggest investor in PSHPs in India from private sector and a major part of Greenko’s new investments are in PSHP.

This makes the implications of MIS’s downgrade all the more interesting. MIS has noted that PHSPs are capital intensive and each PHSP will generate cash flow only after at least 2-3 years of construction (in reality it can be much longer than 2-3 years, the operative phrase here is at least). It also noted that the additional debt to be raised from Greenko’s capital spending, coupled with a rising interest environment will put further pressure on “GEH’s already weak financial metrics” and that Greenko’s high financial leverage due to its substantial capital spending program will keep its financial metrics below its downgrade trigger “for an extended period of time”.

This is particularly relevant as in India, the tariff of peaking power, the USP of PSHP, is not higher than base load power, putting a question mark on economic viability of PSHP, particularly those in private sector. This because a PSHP typically consumes 20% more power than it generates during peak hours, to pump back the water back to upper reservoir. Moreover most of the even existing PSHPs in India are not finding it viable to operate in PSHP mode. Are the regulators listening?

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Greenko Energy Holdings’ (GEH) corporate family rating (CFR) and backed senior unsecured ratings on USD bonds issued by its subsidiaries to Ba2 from Ba1. “The downgrade reflects Greenko’s high financial leverage due to its substantial capital spending program, which will keep the financial metrics below its downgrade trigger, for an extended period of time,” says Yong Kang, a Moody’s Analyst. The company’s substantial capital spending program, mainly for pumped hydro storage projects (PHSPs), is majority debt financed.

– However, additional debt to be raised for its capital spending, coupled with a rising interest rate environment, will further pressure GEH’s already-weak financial metrics. The rating action also reflects the uncertainty around the revenue structure and customer mix. PHSPs are capital intensive and each PHSP will generate cash flow only after at least 2-3 years of construction. GEH plans to complete the construction of four PHSPs with total capacity 6400 MW, which will provide round-the-clock electricity by using pumped hydro storage, by around fiscal 2026 – 2027. GEH aims to start the operation of its first PHSP by end-fiscal 2024, while the other three are yet to start civil construction. As such, execution and ramp-up risks will remain heightened until the PSHPs programme is substantially complete.

– GEH is exposed to financially weak state-owned distribution companies, resulting in large receivables due to delayed payments. https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-downgrades-Greenkos-ratings-to-Ba2-from-Ba1-outlook-stable–PR_472129

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Study Melting glaciers threaten hydropower ambitions The dams the two countries are relying on may not be able to generate much power if avalanches, landslides and floods continue worsening. A recent study on the state of a glacier on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau raises questions about the region’s long-term water supply and the risk of flooding from more meltwater run-off, with implications for the many dams planned in the Yarlung Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river basin. The study, published in September, found that in the past 20 years this warming has intensified at the Parlung No. 4 glacier, a medium-sized glacier that can be used as a benchmark to track changes in snow and rainfall patterns, and the subsequent shrinking of glaciers, in the area.

Temperatures at Parlung No. 4 have shot up by 0.39 degrees Celsius per decade since 1990. “It’s snowing less and raining more instead here,” says Achille Jouberton, one of the lead authors of the study, which was conducted by a team of European and Chinese researchers. https://scroll.in/article/1039492/melting-glaciers-threaten-china-and-indias-hydropower-ambitions  (14 Dec. 2022) This report refers to this study: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2109796119  (06 Sept. 2022)

Arunachal Pradesh Kameng HEP Turns Bichom River Into A Stream The Kameng hydroelectric project of the NEEPCO is affecting the villages downstream of Bichom river in Arunachal Pradesh. The 600 MW project has reportedly turned the once mighty river to a mere stream now. Villagers residing in the downstream areas of the river said that the aquatic life is getting adversely affected by the NEEPCO’s hydroelectric project. The fish have almost disappeared from the Bichom river as the flow has reduced to an extreme level. Apart from that, People are facing extreme water scarcity in the region. The horticulture and agricultural activities are gradually diminishing because of water shortage in the downstream areas. This eventually is impacting the people of the region financially. The KaHEP Downstream People’s Affected Forum, (KDPAF) has urged government intervention into the matter. The organisation has also approached NEEPCO to take steps on the issue. The villagers has asked for compensation for their losses to the government through KDPAF. It has also advised NEEPCO to maintain the flow of Bichom river. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/arunachal-news/arunachal-pradesh-kameng-hydroelectric-project-turns-bichom-river-into-a-stream-628343  (16 Dec. 2022) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leZfWMIKrzU  (12 Dec. 2022)

This “Save Dibang Valley” film shows how the mesmerising Dibang Valley one of the 34 biodiversity hotspots of the world is under grave threat of destruction due to 17 hydel projects being planned in this highly earthquake prone and climate sensitive region. Join the Dibang Resistance to stop one of the biggest environmental disasters of our planet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iuosfaaHSw

Andhra Pradesh Tribals protest against Yerravaram HEP Tribal communities staged a dharna in Alluri Sitharama Raju district on Saturday (Dec. 17), protesting against the approval given by the State government to the Yerravaram hydro power project. The protest was conducted in response to a bandh call by the Girijana Sangham and all party Joint Action Committee (JAC). Tribals gathered at Lambasingi, popularly known as the Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh, early in the morning and staged a raasta roko. They  continued their stir for at least four more hours. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/dec/18/tribal-communities-stage-protest-against-yerravaramhydro-power-project-2529315.html  (18 Dec. 2022)

Greenko wins NTPC energy storage tender Greenko has won a technology agnostic tender hosted by NTPC Renewable Energy in India to provide long-duration energy storage.

Clean energy independent power producer (IPP) Greenko presented the lowest priced bid in a reverse auction hosted by NTPC Renewable Energy Limited (NTPC REL), a subsidiary of state-owned power company NTPC.

Greenko’s winning submission is for a 500MW/3,000MWh pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) plant. It will serve NTPC REL under a 25-year contract, with the power generation company seeking to use the long-duration energy storage (LDES) resource to offer 24/7 ‘round-the-clock’ clean energy to customers such as large corporates and utilities. https://www.energy-storage.news/greenko-wins-ntpc-energy-storage-tender-in-india-with-pumped-hydro-proposal/  (12 Dec. 2022)

Centre Parliament passes bill to mandate use of renewable energy, carbon trading The Parliament has passed the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 that aims to mandate the use of green energy and enables the government to set up a carbon trading scheme. The Bill also allows the government to specify the minimum amount of non-fossil sources to be used by designated energy consumers. The bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on August 8, got approval in Rajya Sabha on Monday (Dec. 12).

While talking about the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Power Minister R K Singh said that government plans to mandate the use of green hydrogen in sectors like steel, refineries, fertilizer, and cement industries, through green hydrogen consumption obligation. The obligation target would be set by a body headed by the cabinet secretary, Singh said. https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/parliament-passes-bill-to-mandate-use-of-renewable-energy-carbon-trading-122121400854_1.html  (14 Dec. 2022) As per the new carbon credit trading system it proposes, big power consumers will have to meet a certain portion of their energy from renewable sources. https://thewire.in/environment/explained-what-the-newly-passed-energy-conservation-amendment-bill-is-all-about  (14 Dec. 2022)

Vishnoi assumes additional charge as NHPC chairman and MD Rajeev Kumar Vishnoi has assumed the additional charge as the chairman and managing director of NHPC Limited on 13 December. He is also the CMD of THDCIL. Apart from heading the design department, he also held the additional charge of executive director, Vishnugad-Pipalkoti Hydro Electric Project. He has various prestigious achievements to his credit while working with  the Tehri, Koteshwar and Vishnugad-Pipalkoti hydro projects.

He has also served as a member of the World Bank Expert Group to deliberate and constitute guidelines in respect of contracts during various interactions with World Bank headquarters, Washington on their invitation. He is currently representing India in the Indian Committee of International Commission of Large Dams for the Technical Committee on Seismic Safety of Dams. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2022/12/15/vishnoi-assumes-additional-charge-as-nhpc-chairman-and-md/  (15 Dec. 2022)

DAMS

Hirakud Dam Agency yet to study cracks in reservoir Even two years after the dam safety division of Water Resources department flagged cracks in different structures of Hirakud reservoir and recommended further inspection and repairs, a detailed study of the world’s longest earthen dam is yet to be conducted, let alone the restoration part. Sources said the dam authorities continue to scout for an agency having expertise in studying cracks. CWPRS has declined, saying lack of expertise, now CSMRS has been approached. Chief engineer of Mahanadi river basin Anand Chandra Sahu said “There are several private firms, which are approaching us to carry out the study and repair works.”

– A study was supposed to be taken up at least once every five years for mapping of the new cracks and checking the status of old ones. But no fresh survey on the safety of the dam has been undertaken since 1999. 

– In 2020, a team of dam safety review panel (DSRP) had visited Hirakud dam and noticed cracks in its operation gallery, foundation gallery, gate shaft and sluice barrels of both left and right spillways. The team had recommended a drone-based inspection of the downstream face for locating any cracks on downstream glacis of the spillway and underwater videography of the upstream face of the concrete spillway to check its condition as it could not be inspected visually. Sahu, however, claimed the situation is not alarming. The cracks were initially studied in 1995 by a Netherlands-based firm following which Hirakud rehabilitation division was opened and most of the cracks repaired by 2003, he added. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bhubaneswar/2022/dec/17/two-years-on-no-agency-yet-to-study-cracks-in-hirakud-reservoir-in-odisha-2529063.html  (17 Dec. 2022)

Kerala Technical committee approves new dam at Mullaperiyar The agency, Hyderabad-based Pragathi Labs and Consultants Private Limited, studied the environmental impact the proposed structure may cause to the catchment areas of the existing and planned dams. It will hand over the final environmental impact study report to the irrigation department within a month. The site identified for the proposed dam is 366 metres downstream the present one, and is located within the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

With the technical committee approving the draft report, Kerala has initiated steps to prepare a DPR. The site for the new dam was identified in 1979 itself, and Kerala decided to go ahead with the DPR in 2011. The estimated construction cost then was Rs 600 crore. The move to construct the dam did not proceed further with Tamil Nadu objecting to it. Under the current circumstances, the irrigation department has completed 40 per cent of the works for altering the plan. According to the department’s estimates, the construction of the dam would now cost Rs 1,100-1,500 crore.

Kerala will need three months for preparing a new DPR. Once prepared, it will be submitted to the Central Water Commission and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for their approval.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that the new dam could be constructed if both Tamil Nadu and Kerala arrived at a consensus. Once Tamil Nadu approves the construction, the dam could be completed in five to 10 years.  The chief secretaries of Tamil Nadu and Kerala will discuss the Mullaperiyar issue in Chennai on Monday (Dec. 12), based on the directives of the Supreme Court-appointed supervisory committee. The panel had directed both states to hold chief secretary-level talks to sort out the issues. https://www.onmanorama.com/news/kerala/2022/12/12/mullaperiyar-new-dam-approval.html   (12 Dec. 2022)

Telangana Govt yet to take steps to protect Kadem dam The State government’s proposal to add five more crest gates to the Kadem project in Nirmal district to protect the dame in case of heavy flooding, still remains on paper. Though the technical team has submitted its report, the State government has not taken any initiative towards implementing the suggestions. In the last week of July, 2022, flood water flowed over the dam owing to inflow of over 5 lakh cusecs of water into the project following heavy rains.

– Officials heaved a sigh of relief as the dam withstood the gushing floodwater. A breach in the dam came as a blessing in disguise as it opened up an outlet for floodwater, easing pressure on the project. People in several villages downstream of the project spent sleepless nights and hundreds were evacuated to safety as they feared that the dam would be washed away. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2022/dec/14/telangana-govt-yet-to-take-steps-to-protect-kadem-dam-2527979.html  (14 Dec. 2022)

Maharashtra Gargai dam project awaits EC A year after it sent a proposal to the Union environment ministry for its Gargai dam project in Palghar district, the BMC is yet to receive approval from the Centre. The new reservoir will uproot 4.5 lakh trees at Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary and submerge 670 hectares of forest land. As per the project report, the dam will cost an estimated R3,105 crore, including R435 crore towards the rehabilitation of tribals. It will affect 185 families. Vasant Gaikwad, chief engineer of BMC’s water supply project, said, “We are in the process of getting the environmental permission. The ministry had some queries about the project. We are replying to them.” https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/mumbai-year-on-palghars-gargai-dam-project-awaits-centres-green-light-23261008  (17 Dec. 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa Link Union Govt informed Parliament on Dec 15 2022: Ken-Betwa Link project (KBLP) is the first ILR project, for which implementation has been initiated. In December, 2021, Government of India approved for implementation of KBLP at an estimated cost of Rs. 44,605 crore (at year 2020-21 price level), including central support of Rs. 39,317 crore. During the financial year 2021-22, an expenditure of Rs. 4,639.46 crore was made towards implementation of KBLP. For financial year 2022-23, budget allocation of Rs. 1,400 crore has been made for the purpose, while the expenditure made so far during the current financial year is Rs. 394.77 crore. This information was given by the Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Shri Bishweswar Tudu in a written reply in Lok Sabha. (Where has this money been spent for a project that is yet to receive all the statutory clearances?) https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1883860  (15 Dec. 2022)

Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers This PIB PR of Dec 13, 2022 says among other things: “Shri Shekhawat highlighted the remarkable achievement of initiation of implementation of Ken Betwa Link Project (1st ILR Project under National Perspective Plan) after obtaining approval of Government of India in December, 2021.” But the project still does not have the final forest clearance, its Wildlife Clearance has been challenged by the CEC of Supreme Court and is pending before SC and its Env Clearance is under challenge before the NGT.

Interestingly, the UP WRD minister was not even present at the meeting. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1883161  (13 Dec. 2022)  

Dheeraj Mishra of Wire is nominated this year for RedInk Journalist award (Env) for his 6 part report on Ken Betwa Link. He also got the Anupam Mishra medal this year. https://thewire.in/media/the-wires-reports-which-are-nominated-for-the-2022-redink-awards  (13 Dec. 2022)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Karnataka-Tamil Nadu SC directs Centre to form tribunal to resolve water dispute The Supreme Court on Dec 14 2022 directed the Centre to constitute Pennaiyar River Water Tribunal within three months to resolve the dispute over the sharing of water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Pennaiyar is a tributary of the Cauvery river that flows between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

– The TN government filed a plea against the Karnataka government’s move to construct a reservoir across the Markandeya River, a tributary of the South Pennaiyar at a place called Yarkol in Karnataka. TN contended that the rights and interests of the state in the river Pennaiyar and its tributaries have been prejudicially affected by the executive action of Karnataka by its various works. The state argued that it is in violation of the 1892 and 1933 agreements.

– The TN government had earlier requested the central government to set up an inter-state water disputes tribunal to resolve the issues with Karnataka over the river Pennaiyar water. However, as the central government delayed in accepting this request, the TN government filed an additional plea demanding a direction from the Supreme Court to the Centre. During the last hearing, the Centre had said that it will set up the tribunal in four weeks and also informed the top court that it will publish the gazette notification soon.

– However, when the matter case came up for hearing again on Wednesday, the Centre informed that the circular has been issued to four union ministers for their approval and also asked for six months’ time to take a final decision regarding the formation of the tribunal. The judges refused to accept it and ordered the Centre to set up the tribunal within three months. The case has been adjourned to March 14. https://www.news9live.com/state/tamil-nadu/sc-directs-centre-to-form-tribunal-to-resolve-water-dispute-between-karnataka-and-tamil-nadu-214129  (15 Dec. 2022)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Kerala Kochi Water Metro launch date remains up in the air The much-awaited launch of the Kochi Water Metro remains a mystery despite the completion of the terminals at High Court Jn and Vypeen, between which the first service will be run. Despite Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) delivering the first batch of five boats and an emergency response boat, Garuda, officials remain tight-lipped on the start. According to sources, the delay is due to the non-confirmation from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). “There is no confirmation on the launch. We received an intimation from PM Narendra Modi’s office expressing his interest in inaugurating the Kochi Water Metro. But there has been no update on the dates,” a source said.

The launch of the service, the first-of-its-kind in the country, has been pushed back multiple times since December 2020. A Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) spokesperson said that a few more tests need to be completed before the opening, including load and pontoon-charging-time tests. “Efforts are on to launch the service this month itself. So far, there is no confirmation of the launch date. It can be either a soft launch or a big event. Nothing has been finalised,” the official said. “Moreover, five boats will not be enough to maintain frequency, so we are also waiting on CSL to deliver three more boats by this month before we begin the service,” the official added. A total of 36 terminals are envisaged for the project, with 15 identified routes, connecting 10 islands along a network that spans 78km. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2022/dec/16/kochi-water-metro-launch-date-remains-up-in-the-air-2528589.html  (16 Dec. 2022)

IRRIGATION

Maharashtra 4 electrocuted while shifting pump deeper into river Four people, including a father-and-son duo, were electrocuted on Thursday (Dec. 15) morning while shifting a farm water pump deeper into the Gunjavani Nira river at Nigade village in Bhor taluka, about 41km from the Pune city. Police said the accident occurred around 11.45am.

Assistant inspector Nitin Khamgal of the Rajgad police said at least four people were needed to shift heavy farm water pumps from one place to another in the water. “As the water-level in the river had subsided, Vitthal and his son decided to place the pump a little further in the river,” he said. Khamgal said they were electrocuted when they were shifting the pump because the electric current had permeated in the water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/4-electrocuted-in-punes-bhor-taluka-while-shifting-pump-deeper-into-river/articleshow/96264686.cms  (16 Dec. 2022)

Jharkhand Farmers find switching to solar irrigation pumps prudent. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/chhattisgarh-switching-to-solar-pumps-prudent-move-say-farmers/96243390  (15 Dec. 2022)

URBAN RIVERS

Mula-Mutha; Pune PMC rushes to complete 300-m sample stretch of RFD project Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is rushing up with completing a 300-metre sample stretch at Ganesh Ghat near Yerawada ahead of the G20 meeting in the city. The Rs 5,500 crore Mula-Mutha River Front Development (RFD) project includes the development of the 44 km of river stretch, which includes 22.2 km of the Mula river, 10.4 km of the Mutha river, and 11.8 km of the Mula-Mutha river. Meanwhile, the expansion of the city has increased the length of rivers passing through the city. The Mutha river stretch in the city now starts from the Khadakwasla dam as the village is included under the PMC limits as against the earlier boundary of Dhayari.

A temporary bridge is in the making for the construction of the riverside road project on Mula-Mutha river at Bundgarden in June, 2022. (Express Photo by Arul Horizon)

The ambitious project is presently divided into 11 stretches and work has begun on two stretches while work on a few more stretches would begin soon. PMC has said it will ensure 79 per cent of green embankments to reduce the risk of flooding with 33.9 km of rural riparian, 38.8 km of urban riparian and 19.8 km with engineered section. To make the river accessible to the public, it has planned to develop 50 new ghats in addition to the existing 20 ghats. It has proposed 270 new access points to the river as against the existing 53 access points. These will encourage social-cultural, recreational and religious activities.

The project would be implemented on 768 hectare of land, which includes 687 hectare of river land while 81 hectare of land would be acquired to ensure continuous embankments alongside the river. The river section would be 526 hectare, 180 hectare for the area under the embankment, and 62 hectare for public amenities. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/infra-watch-ahead-of-g20-meet-pmc-rushes-to-complete-sample-mula-mutha-river-front-development-8325411/  (16 Sept. 2022)

Phalguni; Mangalore MCC asked to keep check on water discharge NGT has directed Mangalore City Corporation to ensure that no pollutants are discharged into the river or sea along the coast of Mangalore. The NGT took suo motu notice of the case on the basis of Deccan Herald news report about discolouring of water on beaches due to the development of algal blooms on the beach near Suratkal in Dakshina Kannada owing to the release of pollutants in Phalguni river near Mangalore. The Principal Bench of the NGT headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel in its order said that, “City Corporation as well as the industries must ensure that no pollutants are discharged which are resulting in above situation which may be overseen by the SPCB.” “The KSPCB needs to fix accountability of the violators- the concerned industries and the Municipal Corporation. We direct the MS, SPCB to now take further action in the matter and finalise the same within two months following due process of law,” the order said.

Earlier, a joint committee set up by the NGT in its report said that the water quality was found polluted on account of discharge of untreated sewage into the sea by Mangaluru City Corporation, apart from industrial pollution along the coast of Mangaluru. The committee suggested that the Corporation should take up the work of the Under Ground Drainage (UGD) and revive the terminal STP to prevent entry of untreated sewage into the sea. Four STPs at Mangalore – Pachanady (8.75 MLD), Kavoor (43.50 MLD), Surathkal (16.50 MLD) and Bajal (20 MLD) which are underutilised. The state government should take steps to bridge gaps in waste management by properly utilising these STPs. The state government can utilise the amount of Rs 2,900 crores, which was imposed by the NGT earlier, for proper waste management, the NGT said. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/mangaluru/ngt-asks-mangalore-corporation-to-keep-check-on-water-discharge-1164537.html  (21 Nov. 2022)

Beach water discoloured in Surathkal, officials term it as algal bloom https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/beach-water-discoloured-in-surathkal-officials-term-it-as-algal-bloom-1109199.html  (14 May 2022)

With several beaches turning green, a team of experts have inspected various spots across Dakshina Kannada district to collect samples. Several sea bass fish that were part of cage farming initiatives in the Phalguni River in Tannirbhavi and Bangrakulur areas, were found dead on Saturday (May 14). Farmers suspect pollution as the reason for the death of fish. Royce D’Souza, a fish farmer, said he lost at least 45 fish weighing about 2.5 kg each. It is unfortunate that when it is time for harvest they have died, he said. There are about 10-15 fish farmers engaged in cage farming in the area. An official from the fisheries department, said the issue will be brought to the notice of the KSPCB. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/algal-bloom-samples-sent-for-testing-from-dk/articleshow/91569831.cms  (15 May 2022) NGT takes note of algal bloom phenomena on beaches in Dakshina Kannada.  https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/ngt-takes-note-of-algal-bloom-phenomena-on-beaches-in-dakshina-kannada-1112337.html   (25 May 2022)

Buddha Dariya; Ludhiana Environmentalists take out anti-pollution march The fourth leg of a series of anti-pollution ‘padyatras’ along the Buddha Dariya was held here on Sunday (Dec. 11). Apart from the activists of the Public Action Committee (PAC) and other green NGOs, around 20 students of Nankana Sahib Public School, Khasi Kalan, also participated in the march. Activists and students spoke to dairy owners and villagers along the way to discuss the problems of water pollution and plastic pollution of Buddha Dairya and possible solutions for the same.

Col CM Lakhanpal of the PAC said, “Pollution at the Buddha Dariya needs to be fixed at the earliest as it not only affects the health of Punjabis but also the image of Punjab around the world. For Punjab to become an attractive investment destination for eco-friendly industry in the world, we must solve such legacy problems at the earliest. We must get rid of polluters and bring clean and high-tech industries for our future generations.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/ludhiana/environmentalists-green-ngos-take-out-anti-pollution-march-in-ludhiana-460051  (12 Dec. 2022)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Consequences of unplanned Dredging in Vashishti River In the leaning golden sun, 65 year old Hari Ganpat Nikam dived like dolphin under a wooden contraption in the Vashishti River.

He emerged a whole minute later bearing a beautiful woven basket, his right hand placed firmly on its mouth. As he brought the basket closer, he gradually removed his hand. Inside, tens of small fish and crabs shimmered in the evening light. https://sandrp.in/2022/12/13/broken-bandhans-and-mounds-of-muck/  (13 Dec. 2022)

Study How We Studied Problems Affecting India’s River Basins Rashmi Kulranjan, Vidhyashree Katral, Ganesh N Shinde and Shashank Palur CSEI-ATREE’s comprehensive study of three important river basins — the Cauvery, Ganga and Krishna — aims to address data gap in water sustainability space to inform businesses better about where the big problems lie so that projects can be properly planned and executed.  https://medium.com/centre-for-social-and-environmental-innovation/part-2-how-we-studied-the-issues-affecting-indias-river-basins-660ae5f1a9b8  (29 Nov. 2022) Part 1: We Need Better Metrics to Track Progress on India’s Water-Stressed River Basins. https://medium.com/centre-for-social-and-environmental-innovation/part-1-we-need-better-metrics-to-track-progress-on-indias-water-stressed-river-basins-30d573038f4d  (8 Nov. 2022)

River Sharavathi – under siege from microplastics A study finds that microplastic pollution in the river Sharavathi originating in the Western Ghats is growing. Urgent efforts to protect this biodiversity hotspot are needed. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/river-sharavathi-under-siege-microplastics  (16 Dec. 2022)

River Books A list of both fiction and non-fiction books that go deep on our relationship to rivers and the role they play in both our history and our future. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2022/12/16/a-holiday-list-of-river-books/?sh=433e898679c7  (16 Dec. 2022)

The Barachukki and Gaganachukki falls are ranked among the world’s best. Civil Society.

Some interesting historical, cultural and social aspects of Cauvery River Falls around Srirangapatna. https://civilsocietyonline.com/travel/waterfalls-sand-and-a-womans-curse/  (17 Dec. 2022)

River islands in India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/web-stories/new-year-holidays-pretty-river-islands-in-india-for-an-offbeat-holidays/photostory/96226920.cms  (14 Dec. 2022)

Andhra Pradesh ONGC to invest Rs 2,150 cr on drilling 53 exploratory wells State-Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) in a meeting held last month cleared two separate proposals put up by the ONGC for environmental clearance. According to ONGC, it proposes to carry out the onshore exploration of 50 wells during 2021-’28 in Godavari on-land PML block of KG basin in East and West Godavari Districts of AP based on the geological and geophysical studies. “Total of Rs 2,000 crore (approximately Rs 40 crore for each well), ONGC said in case of KG basin exploratory wells.

ONGC proposes to carry out the prospecting and exploration drilling in the CD-ONHP-2020/1 block of Cuddapah basin falling in Kurnool, Anantapur and YSR Kadapa districts of AP, it said in another proposal adding based on the geological and geophysical studies the three exploratory locations are planned to be drilled during the period 2021-24. The estimated project cost for the three wells would be Rs 150 crore and it would take three to five months for exploratory drilling at each well site, ONGC said. ONGC currently produces 4.4 million standard cubic feet of gas and over 700 tonnes of oil from KG Basin per day. https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/ongc-to-invest-rs-2-150-cr-on-drilling-53-exploratory-wells-in-andhra-122121200378_1.html  (12 Dec. 2022)

GANGA UN Recognition to Ganga project UN has just announced the top ten world restoration flagships and included “Ganges River Rejuvenation”.

Unfortunately, what is available on UNEP website does not say through what process and criteria these flagships were selected and if there was any credible independent process. It raises these questions as all available information shows that whatever efforts at Ganga rejuvenation (incidentally, the website says it started in 2014, which is not only wrong, but sounds like a political statement) have been undertaken, they has gone together with the river destruction work like the waterways project, the dredging project, and destruction of the Panna Tiger Reserve land of over 9000 ha, cutting down over 26 lakh trees in a single project.

The announcement also lacks credibility as the UNEP website lists the partner organisations for the Ganga flagship: “This World Restoration Flagship is coordinated by National Mission for Clean Ganga under the Government of India, and supported by the World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the German Development Agency.” But NONE of these are independent agencies. These are either the govt bodies or funding bodies.

This was announced at the 15th Conference of Parties of the UN Biodiversity Conference. These flagships are eligible to receive UN-backed promotion, advice or funding.

UNEP says: “Progress of all 10 World Restoration Flagships will be transparently monitored through the Framework for Ecosystem Restoration Monitoring, the UN Decade’s platform for keeping track of global restoration efforts.” We hope it is independent of the official or funding agencies and peopled by those who have track record of taking independent stand. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/un-recognizes-10-pioneering-initiatives-are-restoring-natural-world  (13 Dec. 2022)

These claims lack authenticity. Allahabad HC, NGT recent orders reveal NMCG money going waste and industrial, domestic waste continuously being discharged in Ganga. Ground realities show increased destruction of Ganga rivers from mouth to head, mostly due to government projects and inefficiency of concerned agencies, depts. “The initiative, with an investment of up to $4.25 billion so far, has the involvement of 230 organisations, with 1,500 km of river restored to date. Additionally, there have been 30,000 hectares of afforestation so far, with a 2030 goal of 134,000 hectares, according to the U.N.” https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/un-recognises-ganga-project-among-10-initiatives-restoring-natural-world/article66262180.ece  (14 Dec. 2022)

NMCG Discussions On Restoration of Rivers & Conservation of Water It was announced on Day 2 of National Water Impact Summit on Dec 16, 2022 by NMCG officials that: 1. A National Framework for River Systems (river, water bodies and catchment) proposed to be set up; 2. Deliberations show that for evaluation of the actual state and measuring the changes in the rivers and streams, the periodic assessment of their health is essential; 3. The focus of this Summit is to pave the way for mapping, integrating and assessing different scenarios/aspects of river health.

– Discussions on the 2nd day also deliberated on the economic, social, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values of rivers including the intrinsic values that are not dependent on people’s will. https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1884302  (16 Dec. 2022)

Uttarakhand Himalayas need springs rather than extravagant temples The irony of the situation is that it is supposed to be the duty of the government to motivate people to respect local fragility and ecology. But the government is busy constructing mega development projects in ecologically fragile and geologically sensitive areas like Kedarnath and Badrinath raising concerns among scientists, environmentalists and religious experts.

It must be noted that the springs play a vital role in the overall development and existence of the mountain communities. However, it will equally affect the people who are directly not dependent on the springs as the drying up of non-glacial rivers will directly affect the glacial rivers. So, rejuvenating springs is much more important than making grand temples. Springs are paramount for the survival of Himalayan villages or communities. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/wildlife-biodiversity/the-himalayas-need-springs-rather-than-extravagant-temples-86510  (12 Dec. 2022)

नदी में मलबा डालने पर केसीसी कंपनी पर 50 हजार का जुर्माना Nanda Devi National Park Administration has imposed Rs 50,000 fine on KCC Company for dumping the Helang-Marwari bypass road widening debris in Alaknanda river. SDM Joshimath Kumkum Joshi also stopped the construction work on Dec. 8, directing the company to build wall along the river bank to stop debris, muck falling into river. https://www.amarujala.com/uttarakhand/chamoli/road-construction-company-fined-for-dumping-debris-in-the-river-gopeshwar-news-drn430929378   (14 Dec. 2022)

Bihar बेगूसराय में भ्रष्टाचार की भेंट चढ़ा बूढ़ी गंडक पर बना पुल बेगूसराय जिला के साहेबपुर कमाल प्रखंड क्षेत्र में कीर्तिटोल आहोक घाट और विष्णुपुर आहोक पंचायत के बीच बूढ़ी गंडक नदी पर नवनिर्मित उच्च स्तरीय आरसीसी पुल उद्घाटन से पहले ही शनिवार (Dec. 17) की देर रात टूट कर धराशाई हो गया. पुल का निर्माण मुख्यमंत्री नाबार्ड योजना के तहत ग्रामीण कार्य विभाग के द्वारा किया गया था. दो दिन पहले ही पाया नंबर दो एवं तीन के बीच क्रैक और धसान देखकर ग्रामीणों ने इसकी सूचना वरीय पदाधिकारियों को दी थी. प्रशासन के द्वारा पुल पर लोगों का आवागमन पूरी तरह से बंद कर दिया गया था. रात के समय हादसा होने से जानमाल की क्षति नहीं हुई, लेकिन निर्माण के तीन वर्षों के अंदर ही पुल के टूटकर गिर जाने से स्थानीय लोगों में आक्रोश है. उन्होंने पुल के निर्माण में घटिया सामग्री का इस्तेमाल करने वाले एजेंसी के विरुद्ध कार्रवाई करने की मांग की. मामले को लेकर अभी थाने में किसी तरह की शिकायत दर्ज नहीं की गयी.

बेगूसराय में भ्रष्टाचार की भेंट चढ़ा बूढ़ी गंडक पर बना पुल प्रभात खबर

बूढ़ी गंडक नदी पर पुल निर्माण को लेकर लंबे समय से मांग उठाई जा रही थी. 2012-13 में तत्कालीन विधायक की अनुशंसा पर मुख्यमंत्री नाबार्ड योजना से इस पुल बनाने की स्वीकृति मिली. 1343.32 लाख की लागत से 206 मीटर लंबा उच्च स्तरीय आरसीसी पुल का निर्माण भगवती कंस्ट्रक्शन द्वारा कराया गया. पुल निर्माण स्थल पर लगाए गए बोर्ड के अनुसार 1343.32 लाख की लागत से बने इस पुल की अनुरक्षण भी 31.72 लाख से होना था.कार्य प्रारंभ की तिथि 23 फरवरी 2016 एवं समाप्ति तिथि 22 अगस्त 2017 है. https://www.prabhatkhabar.com/state/bihar/bihar-bridge-built-on-budhi-gandak-in-begusarai-collapse-before-inauguration-mdn  (18 Dec. 2022)

YAMUNA Panipat Industrial waste water polluting river As many as 88 points have been identified in the district, from where the untreated waste water containing hazardous chemicals is flowing into drain number 1 and drain number 2. The drain number 2 falls into Yamuna and pollutes it. Most of the industries in Sanoli and Bapoli areas in the city are discharging toxic waste water directly into the Yamuna through tankers. “However, the HSVP has gave in written that all 40 points are only for storm water drainage,” the regional officer maintained.

Varun Gulati, a Delhi based environmentalist said scores of legal or illegal dye units were discharging their untreated chemical effluents in the drain number 2 by using tankers also. These tankers could be seen normally in the Sanoli, Bapoli areas in the evening or night time. Besides, scores of bleaching houses are illegally operational and they were discharging untreated effluent directly into Yamuna.

Notably, the Panipat is a textile hub and over 400 registered dyeing units are operating in the city and of which 300 are in Sector 29 part-2 and around 100 in various industrial sectors. Over 200 dyeing units are operating illegally in various areas of the district. Now, the Chairman, SPCB has sought an action plan from six departments concerned and directed to stop flowing of untreated waste water into drains to keep the Yamuna clean. “Although the HSPCB is the overall regulating authority and has also sought an action plan from the HSVP, the HSIIDC, local bodies, the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) and the Irrigation Department, so that only treated waste water flows into drains that fall into Yamuna or Ghaggar,” the Chairman maintained. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/waste-water-polluting-yamuna-462141  (18 Dec. 2022)

Faridabad 3 CETPs to check water pollution Faridabad Metropolitan Development Authority (FMDA) have proposed to set up 3 common effluent treatment plants (CETP) of about 90 MLD capacity costing around ₹943cr in several phases without any deadline set. In the 1st phase, a 15 MLD operational capacity CETP, costing about ₹181cr (₹85cr on construction & ₹96cr O&M for 5 years) will be set up at Badshahpur village. The 2nd 25 MLD capacity CETP costing about ₹263cr (₹134cr on construction & ₹129cr on O&M) will come up at Mirzapur village. The 3rd 50 MLD capacity CETP costing about ₹499cr will be set up at Pratapgarh village. At present, only one CETP, which has an operational capacity of 10.5 MLD, is located at Industrial Model Township and is being maintained by the HSIIDC. An official of the SPCB said over 500 industrial units dispose of untreated effluents in water sources, including the Yamuna, due lack of proper CETP facility. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/3-effluent-treatment-plants-to-check-water-pollution-461833  (17 Dec. 2022)

Sonepat 23 illegal denim dyeing units sealed With the sealing 12 illegal denim dyeing units at Pyau Manyari and Kundli on Monday (Oct. 31), the SPCB has sealed a total of 23 such units within two days. These units were reportedly discharging untreated effluents directly into the drain number 6 that leads to the Yamuna. The team also disconnected electricity connections of these units from the main feeder and issued notices for closure, environmental compensation and prosecution.

Varun Gulati, an environmentalist in Delhi, had filed a complaint with the HSPCB against the illegal denim dyeing units operating at Pyau Manyari, Friends Colony at Nathupur, Jati Khurd, Jatola in the Kundli area and Ferozpur Bangar of the Kharkhoda area in August this year. These illegal units were discharging untreated chemical effluents into the drain leading to the Yamuna, thus polluting the water body, Gulati alleged.

All these units were operating without any consent to operate (CTO) or consent to establishment (CTE) from the HSPCB and extracting huge quantities of water without obtaining permission from the Haryana Water Resource Authority (HWRA), Gulati alleged. HSPCB Regional Officer Naveen Gulia said 23 denim dyeing units had been sealed in two days. These small units operated from residential areas of Kundli and Pyau Manyari, he added. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/23-illegal-denim-dyeing-units-sealed-within-2-days-446417  (01 Nov. 2022)

Shamli Oxbow lake pollution affecting villagers Mamour an oxbow lake of Yamuna in Mamour village has subjected the people to slow poisoning since Kairana’s effluent is directed towards this water body. The contamination has adversely affected the groundwater too, and the Maamour village (population of 2,500) is the worst affected. Villagers claim that around a dozen people have died in the past one year as groundwater has been contaminated up to about 250 feet in the village. Two brothers died due to Hepatitis C last month.

Farmer Rajiv Chauhan said, “The lake is spreading cancer and jaundice here. About 500 people in the village are suffering from black jaundice and the lake is continuously increasing in size. Over a thousand bighas of farmers’ land has already been submerged. We get drinking water from a place 3 km away.” According to the health department, around 2,100 Hepatitis C patients have emerged in the past one year, and most of these are from the Kairana region.

Jasjit Kaur, DM Shamli said, “A water treatment plant is being constructed at a cost of about Rs 38 crore under the Namami Gange scheme to dispose of the contaminated water of Maamour lake. We are preparing an action plan on an ATM-based RO water plant to provide pure drinking water to the villagers.” https://www.timesnownews.com/india/2000-hepatitis-c-cases-in-up-village-locals-say-groundwater-contamination-high-article-96317842  (18 Dec. 2022)

G. Noida Surveys finds govt floodplain land illegally grabbed Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate Suhas LY formed a join team to look into this issue a day after HT reported that the land mafia had built farmhouses on government land in the Yamuna floodplain. “We formed a joint team that has conducted a survey at the site. We will free the government land and also act against those who are grabbing government land. The illegal structures, be they farmhouses or anything else, will be razed according to the rules,” said Suhas LY.

A joint team of the Noida authority and district administration undertake a survey of illegal farmhouses built on government land in the Yamuna River’s floodplain on Dec. 14. (HT Photo)

A joint team led by sub divisional magistrate Ankit Kumar, along with several junior officials, inspected and surveyed the site. According to the survey, as many as 2,000 farmhouses have been built illegally in the Yamuna floodplain. The survey team will compile a report about the site inspection and then the farmhouses will be razed in a joint drive. The administration will take possession of the government land and private land owners will only be allowed to carry out agricultural activities, said officials. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/team-surveys-farmhouses-on-yamuna-floodplain-finds-govt-land-illegally-grabbed-101671041785052.html  (14 Dec. 2022)

Delhi Forest dept completes biodiversity assessment of Najafgarh lake While several agencies have begun executing the environment management plan (EMP) for Najafgarh lake, the forest department has completed a year-long biodiversity assessment of the lake, which will help officials in making strategies to protect the flora, wildlife and ecology of the area. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/forest-dept-completes-biodiversity-assessment-of-najafgarh-lake-rejuvenation-to-gather-steam-101670782092153.html  (12 Dec. 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Study Assessing the health of river Ganga Structures such as locks, dams, barrages, and weirs are known to drastically reduce the longitudinal connectivity of rivers, impact downstream flow, and alter riverine ecosystems. This study titled ‘Impact of barrages on assemblage pattern of phytoplankton in tropical river Ganga, India’ published in Environmental Monitoring Assessment authored by Jeetendra Kumar, Absar Alam, Dharm Nath Jha, Pranab Gogoi, Simanku Borah and Basanta Kumar Das informs that the construction of dams and barrages can not only lead to a decline in the river flows and ecology, but also affect river biodiversity negatively.  Amount of water discharged from dams plays an important role in sustaining and managing river ecosystems through flow regulation, mixing, nutrient supply, light regimes, and volume of suspended matter. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/assessing-health-river-ganga  (08 Dec. 2022)

Report The WWF’s Living Planet Report states that freshwater populations have declined the most, with an average decline of 83 per cent between 1970 and 2018. There are at least 17 species of freshwater turtles that are dying. The population of the Gangetic Dolphin is threatened due to the discharge of pollutants into the river.  Even wild water buffaloes found in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are in the danger zone. https://epaper.timesgroup.com/timesspecial/sci-tech-environment/mass-extinction-why-we-must-save-endangered-species-/1665719189118  (14 Oct. 2022)

App Bird Count India along with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has launched two Indian languages in the Merlin Bird Identification App. Now, birders across Maharashtra and Kerala can read the description of 300 bird species found in the respective states in their local language. https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/

Telangana First white squirrel sighted at Rayasamudram Tank In what is said to be a very rare sighting in the country, a white squirrel, also called a leucistic squirrel, was spotted on the bund of the Rayasamudram tank in Ramachandrapuram of Sangareddy district. Officially, there is no documentation of a leucistic squirrel found in the State so far. Wildlife Biologist at Nehru Zoological Park Lakshman said leucisim was a rare condition in which there is a loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale or patchy coloration of skin or hair. Leucistic animals have lower survival rates because they are easily detected by predators. Experts said leucism was relatively rare in small mammals like squirrels. The occurrence of leucism was attributed to different factors such as pollution, environmental alternations, low-quality diet and follicular damage. https://telanganatoday.com/first-white-squirrel-in-telangana-sighted-at-rayasamudram-tank  (14 Dec. 2022)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Maharashtra Worli fisherfolk win pier fight with BMC An over four-year-long battle between Worli fisherfolk and the BMC’s Coastal Road wing has culminated in victory for the former. The BMC has said that their request for a navigation span of 120 metres between two piers has been accepted, instead of 56 metres, BMC’s original proposal (revised to 60 metres). Worli fisherfolk had demanded increasing the distance between piers to 200 metres to facilitate unhindered and safe access to fishing grounds in the open sea. The chief engineer of the Coastal Road project, Mantayya Swami, said that the navigation span of 120 metres will be only between piers 7-9, while it will be 60 metres for the remaining.

The BMC’s move, conveyed in a letter sent on Monday (Dec. 12), followed a request to CM Eknath Shinde on October 7, who directed the appointment of a committee of experts to scrutinize the issues being faced by fisherfolk. The committee stated that the navigation span gap could be increased till 120 meters. The BMC’s letter was met with massive celebrations in Worli Koliwada, where a procession was taken out to thank the local deity. Nitesh Patil, chairman of the Worli Nakhwa Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society, said, “We are very happy that our efforts have borne fruit. While our demand was for increasing the span to 200 metres, we are satisfied with the middle path that has been worked out,” said Patil.

Coastal Road works are in full swing along the city’s western shoreline and the authorities are targeting a deadline of November 2023. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/worli-fisherfolk-win-pier-fight-with-bmc-span-to-be-120-m/articleshow/96237405.cms  (15 Dec. 2022)

SAND MINING

Kerala Govt to hike illegal sand mining fine from Rs 25K to Rs 5 lakh The state assembly on Tuesday (Dec. 06) considered the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand (Amendment) Bill which proposes to increase the fine for illegal sand mining from Rs 25,000 to Rs 5 lakh. As per the new amendment, the penalty of Rs 1,000 per day will be hiked to Rs 50,000 for continuous violation of rules. The bill, introduced by Revenue Minister K Rajan, seeking to amend the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Rules 2001, has been forwarded to the subject committee. The assembly will pass the bill on December 12. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/illegal-sand-mining-govt-to-hike-fine-from-rs-25-000-to-rs-5-lakh-1.8112878  (07 Dec. 2022)

उत्तराखंड नदियों में मशीन से खनन पर लगी रोक उच्च न्यायालय ने प्रदेश के पर्यावरण के साथ खिलवाड़ कर रहे खनन कारोबार पर गहरी चोट करते हुए उत्तराखंड की सभी नदियों में हो रहे मशीनों से खनन पर रोक लगा दी है। इस संबंध में कोर्ट ने सभी जिलाधिकारियों को आदेश जारी किया है। मामले की अगली सुनवाई 21 दिन के बाद 12 जनवरी को तय करते हुए कोर्ट ने खनन सचिव से नदियों और पट्टे के खनन की रॉयल्टी की विषमताओं पर शपथ पत्र के माध्यम से जवाब भी तलब किया है। जानकारी के अनुसार अनुसार हल्द्वानी के हल्दूचौड़ निवासी गगन परासर व अन्य ने उत्तराखंड उच्च न्यायालय में जनहित याचिका दायर कर कहा था कि प्रदेश में मशीनों से खनन की अनुमति नहीं है। लेकिन उसके बाद भी उत्तराखंड की नदियों में भारी मशीनों के साथ खनन किया जा रहा है। जबकि खनन नियमावली में मैनुअली खनन की अनुमति है, इसलिए मशीनों से हो रहे इस अवैध खनन पर रोक लगाई जाए। https://janjwar.com/environment/ban-on-machine-mining-in-the-rivers-of-uttarakhand-giving-a-big-decision-the-high-court-sent-a-letter-to-all-the-district-magistrates-846578  (19 Dec. 2022)

खनन नीति में बदलाव की मांग देहरादून के डोईवाला तहसील के जीवनवाला ग्राम पंचायत के फतेहपुर टांडा गांव राजाजी नेशनल पार्क की कांसरो रेंज से करीब एक किलोमीटर की दूरी पर सौंग नदी के किनारे बसा है। गांव के इस छोटे से इलाके में सात स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट लगे हुए हैं जहां नदी से निकाले गए पत्थर और रेत को धोया और अलग किया जाता है। स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट में नदी से खनन कर लाए गए उपखनिज जैसे रेत, बजरी और पत्थर को उनके आकार और भार जैसे गुणों के आधार पर अलग-अलग छांट धुलाई करके रखा जाता है।

Mining pits in Song river. Varsha Singh/India Spend

सौंग नदी के किनारे बढ़ती स्क्रीनिंग प्लांट की संख्या और इनसे होने वाले ध्वनि और वायु प्रदूषण के चलते आसपास के ग्रामीणों के सामान्य जीवन और स्वास्थ्य पर बुरा प्रभाव पड़ रहा है। वहीं दूसरी ओर इन उद्योगों के नियमों और प्रदूषण के मानकों पर निगरानी रखने वाले विभाग जैसे राज्य प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड और खनन विभाग इन उद्योगों से जुड़ी अनियमितताओं के लिए एक दूसरे को जिम्मेदार ठहराते हैं।  https://indiaspendhindi.com/cover-story/distressed-by-the-mining-near-the-population-the-residents-of-dehradun-are-demanding-a-change-in-the-mining-policy-846392  (17 Dec. 2022)

स्टोन क्रेशर का विरोध कर रही महिलाओं को धमका रहे खनन माफिया थराली तहसील के कुलसारी गांव में स्टोन क्रेशर लगाए जाने के खिलाफ आंदोलनरत महिलाओं को खनन माफियाओं के गुर्गे प्रशासन की शह पर दरांती से धमकाने तक की स्थिति में पहुंच गए हैं, लेकिन इससे बेपरवाह महिलाएं किसी भी हाल में स्टोन क्रेशर न लगने के लिए कड़कड़ाती ठंड में अलाव जलाकर अपनी जमीन की पहरेदारी कर रहीं हैं। यह अभूतपूर्व स्थिति तब है जब यह मामला उच्च न्यायालय में लंबित है।

चमोली जिले के इस गांव में एक स्टोन क्रेशर लगाया जा रहा है। इस बात को खास तौर पर चिन्हित किया जाए कि जिस इलाके में यह स्टोन क्रेशर लग रहा है, वह राजस्व क्षेत्र है। जो पुलिस के अधिकार क्षेत्र से बाहर है। इलाके के ग्रामीणों का इल्जाम है कि लगने वाले स्टोन क्रेशर की उड़ने वाली धूल से आसपास उनके खेत न केवल बरबाद हो जायेंगे बल्कि छोटे छोटे बच्चों और बुजुर्गों के लिए यह धूल जानलेवा साबित होगी। इसके अलावा इसी इलाके से उनके बच्चे स्कूल पढ़ने जाते हैं, जो उपखनिज लेकर सरपट दौड़ते डंपरों की चपेट में आकर आए दिन हादसों का शिकार होते रहेंगे। स्टोन क्रेशर को न लगाए जाने के लिए ग्रामीण सात महीने के लंबे समय से आंदोलनरत थे, लेकिन प्रशासन की सहानुभूति देखकर ग्रामीण इस मामले को न्यायालय तक लेकर चले गए हैं, जहां इस मामले की सुनवाई जारी है। https://janjwar.com/national/uttarakhand/dehradun-news-henchmen-of-mining-mafia-are-threatening-women-with-sickle-in-hand-administration-is-promoting-confrontation-case-of-stone-crusher-is-pending-in-high-court-842538  (16 Nov. 2022)

Tamil Nadu Officials probe sand mining plaint The revenue department has commenced an investigation on the allegation of Mathvarayapuram Panchayat farmers that a private construction firm is illegally mining sand from the Noyyal river basin. According to sources, farmers raised the complaint during the farmers’ grievances meeting held on Wednesday. They alleged that the firm has piled up over 300 loads of sand at Sappani Madai near Nallurvayal in Mathvarayapuram Panchayat and is transporting it to Perumalkovailpathi for the construction of a resort.

P Nagaraj, a farmer of Mathvarayapuram, said, “The private construction firm owns 40 acres of land close to the Noyyal river basin in Mathvarayapuram Panchayat. The land was fully fenced and others could enter into it. However, for the last few days, we are seeing plying of tipper lorries entering into the land and leaving with sand loaded from the place. When we conducted a check, large piles of sand were found there and this must be taken from the Noyyal river basin as the land is clay soiled.”

On information, Village Administrative Officer from Mathvaryapuram visited the premise on Tuesday (Dec. 1) and temporarily stopped the transportation of sand. P Kandhasamy, general secretary of the farmers association (non-political), charged that an environmental trust is behind the construction firm and they are illegally mining sand from the river. When contacted, Village Administrative Office R Prathap, said, “When Noyyal was dredged by an environmental trust, they took the sand and piled it at the place. Now they are shifting it to Perumalkovailpathi. They have got permission from the mines department for this process.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/dec/02/officials-probe-sand-mining-plaint-in-mathvarayapuram-2524178.html  (02 Dec. 2022)

Madhya Pradesh Dewas illegal sand mining causing huge revenue loss A contractor from Dewas is paying royalty only on paper for eight, nine, and ten cubic meters of area kept for mining at Chichli in Nasrullaganj. Besides, the contractor is allegedly harassing the vehicle owners from other districts, who pay valid royalty for 14 and 16 cubic meters area set aside for sand mining. The vehicle owners are harassed at Deepgaon and Sandalpur Nakas. According to sources, the Nakas run at Sandalpur and Deepgaon, are not legal.The muscle men of the contractor are allegedly extorting money from the drivers of the vehicles that carry legally mined sand. Those people are even assaulting the drivers and abusing them.

An incident occurred at Sandalpur on Tuesday (Dec. 06) night when policemen from Khategaon parked an under-loaded vehicle, but an overloaded vehicle of Devas contractor was allowed to go. Enraged by the incident, the truck drivers blocked traffic on Sandalpur road and created a ruckus. The contractor concerned is giving royalty to the vehicles from Hathner  Tehsil, Kannaud. On the other hand, vehicles loaded with sand from the mines in Cheechli Daiyad are allowed to go, sources further said. Besides, Khategaon-via-Chapra is mentioned in the royalty of Hathner. Although the root is illegal, the police are not taking any action, sources further said. Consequently, the owners of valid vehicle owners are facing problems. https://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/madhya-pradesh-dewas-sand-miner-causinghuge-loss-to-mp-coffers  (08 Dec. 2022)

मुरैना में रेत माफिया और उसके गुर्गों ने वन विभाग की टीम पर हमला बोल दिया। जिस लोडर मशीन से ये ट्रैक्टर-ट्रॉलियों में रेत भर रहे थे, टीम उसे जब्त कर ले जा रही थी। इतने में 40 से 50 लोगों ने टीम का घेराव कर पथराव और फायरिंग शुरू करदी। टीम की तीन गाड़ियों के कांच तोड़ दिए। पथराव में वन विभाग के कुछ कर्मचारियों को चोट भी आई है।

इससे पहले भी लगभग 6 माह पूर्व रिठौरा थानार्न्तगत शनिश्चरा क्षेत्र में पत्थर की खदानों से अवैध खनन करने गई वन टीम पर भी माफिया के लोगों ने हमला किया था। हमले के दौरान वन टीम ने उनकी खनन करने वाली बड़ी मशीन जब्त कर ली थी। लेकिन माफिया के लोगों ने लगभग 70 गोलियां चलाई तथा वह मशीन छुड़ा ली थी। अन्त में माफिया के आगे वन विभाग की टीम के पैर उखड़ गए थे तथा टीम ने रिठौरा थाना प्रभारी संजय किरार से मदद मांगी थी लेकिन उन्होंने मदद नहीं की थी। बाद में इस बात भी खुलासा टीम के सदस्यों ने किया था कि पुलिस की मिलीभगत से अवैध खनन का काम चल रहा था। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/morena/news/sand-mafia-surrounds-breaks-glasses-of-three-vehicles-tries-to-snatch-loader-video-130658997.html  (08 Dec. 2022) रेत माफिया के हमले में जान बचाकर भागी वन विभाग की टीम, वाहनों के शीशे तोड़े https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/morena-morena-news-the-forest-department-team-ran-away-after-saving-their-lives-in-the-sand-mafia-attack-7970078  (09 Dec. 2022)

Jharkhand CM has said that Railway officers seem involved in illegal mining as they are transporting mined materials without checking legal documents. CM said the state govt has set up a high level committee for this and requested the Railway minister to ensure that railway officials cooperate in the investigation and also ensuring that illegally mined materials are not transported. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/jharkhand/news/hemant-soren-wrote-a-letter-to-the-railway-minister-investigating-the-role-of-railways-on-i-130681689.html  (14 Dec. 2022)

Punjab Govt opens first sales centre for sand, gravel in Mohali Mines and geology minister Harjot Singh said his department will impose a fine of Rs 2 lakh if anyone found carrying construction material extracted illegally. If the fine is not deposited within two weeks, then the impounded vehicle will be auctioned to recover the fine. Bains pointed out that middlemen who are into storage of building material and some transporters were creating scarcity of the construction material and selling it at Rs 60 to 80 per cubic feet. One can buy the construction material at Rs 28 per cubic feet. He said that as the supply of mining material increases in future, the rate of sand and gravel will be supplied in the range of Rs 15-16 per cubic feet.

The minister claimed that 90 per cent of illegal mining has been stopped in Punjab. Bains said, “The High court banned mining operations in the state on November 10.” But the minister did not clarify the reason behind the high court’s order. However, the state government after arranging sand and gravel from outside of the state has been daily supplying 90,000 MT of construction material in Punjab, Bains added. The government in August amended the 2021 sand and gravel mining policy to fix the rates of sand at Rs 9 per cubic feet and also the maximum retail price of gravel at Rs 20 per cubic feet, excluding transportation charges. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/punjab-govt-opens-first-sales-centre-for-sand-gravel-in-mohali-462568  (19 Dec. 2022)

Leader of Opposition in assembly Partap Bajwa on Saturday (Dec. 17) wrote to governor Banwarilal Purohit demanding a probe by CBI or ED into cabinet minister Anmol Gagan Mann’s allegations of illegal sand mining in the state. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/partap-bajwa-writes-to-guv-seeks-cbi-ed-probe-into-illegal-mining-101671307332664.html  (18 Dec. 2022)

Haryana In Palwal a forest dept team that went to stop illegal sand mining was attacked.

This lists some incidents of mining mafias attacks in Gurutram, Faridabad and Palwal. https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/punjab-and-haryana/faridabad/dsp-surinder-killed-in-nuh-many-mining-mafia-attacks-on-haryana-police-in-faridabad-palwal-and-gurugram/articleshow/92993862.cms  (20 July 2022)

सरकारी आंकड़ों के मुताबिक, वित्त वर्ष 2019-20 में हरियाणा में 2020 वाहन पकड़े गए, जिन पर 21.65 करोड़ का जुर्माना लगा और 211 FIR भी दर्ज की गईं. इसके अगले साल यानी वित्त वर्ष 2020-21 में 3515 वाहन पकड़े गए, जिन पर 82.77 करोड़ का जुर्माना लगाया गया. इस साल 2021-22 में अब तक अवैध खनन में इस्तेमाल हो रहे 2192 वाहन पकड़े गए हैं, इन पर करीब 29 करोड़ का जुर्माना लगाया गया है. इसके अलावा 977 FIR भी अवैध खनन को लेकर की गई हैं. https://hindi.thequint.com/news/india/dsp-surendra-singh-murder-illegal-mining-and-history-of-attacks-on-officers-in-haryana-nuh  (21 July 2022) हरियाणा में जोरों पर है अवैध धंधा, सख्ती के बाद भी बेलगाम है खनन माफिया https://news.haryana.com/story/Illegal-business-is-in-full-swing-in-Haryana-even-after-strictness-mining-mafia-remains-unbridled  (15 Sept. 2022)   

खनन एवं परिवहन मंत्री मूलचंद शर्मा ने कहा कि पलवल जिला में अवैध खनन पर पूरी तरह से रोक लगेगी, जिला में 25 अप्रैल 2022 को सुबह 10 बजे 7 नई रेत की खानों की पहली बार ई-ऑक्शन होने जा रही है। खनन मंत्री मूलचंद शर्मा ने कहा कि खनन एवं भूविज्ञान विभाग ने पलवल जिला के मकसूदपुर, थंथरी, दोस्तपुर, प्रहलादपुर, चांदहट, सुल्तानपुर और काशीपुर में माइनिंग के लिए नई जगहों को चिन्हित किया है। https://haryana.punjabkesari.in/haryana/news/7-new-sand-mines-will-be-e-auctioned-in-palwal-district-1582033  (13 April 2022)

9 years, 71 hearings, key Aravali rulings Among the most significant outcomes of the NGT proceedings was the deletion of the term ‘gair mumkin farmhouse’ from revenue records by the Gurugram administration in 2020 and their replacement with ‘gair mumkin pahar’ (uncultivable hill). The term, which found its way insidiously into the records, allowed farmhouse owners to circumvent provisions of the Aravali Notification 1992 that recognises ‘gair mumkin pahar’ as protected land. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/9-yrs-71-hearings-key-aravali-rulings-journey-that-began-with-a-toi-report/articleshow/96186120.cms  (13 Dec. 2022)

Meghalaya Mining banned near natural heritage site  The East Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya has prohibited mining activities in the vicinity of the Krem Liat-Prah Cave, a key natural heritage site of the north eastern state, officials said on Wednesday (Dec. 14).

East Jaintia Hills District Magistrate Abhilash Baranwal, imposing the prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC, said that Krem Liat-Prah Cave, located at Shnongrim village, is considered an important natural heritage site of the district and the state. The notification said that any use of explosives within the immediate vicinity of the cave for whatsoever purpose has to seek a mandatory clearance from the office of the District Magistrate. According to the environmental experts, the Krem Liat-Prah is the longest (34 km) sandstone cave in the world, and it is also the longest cave system in the subcontinent. Meghalaya is also home to many caves, 1,580 to be precise, the experts said. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/12/14/mining-banned-near-natural-heritage-site-in-meghalaya/  (14 Dec. 2022)

Maharashtra Kharghar Hills plundered A group of villagers, displaced by the Koyna Dam project four decades ago and resettled at Owe camp village Kharghar Hills, are struggling for drinking water now, thanks to the indiscriminate quarrying, environmentalists say. The quarrying has diminished the Kharghar Hills capacity to absorb and hold rainwater, said activist Jyoti Nadkarni of Kharghar Hills & Wetlands group addressing an International Mountain Day event. “As a result, the water bodies and wells have gone dry and the Koyna-displaced people are forced to run helter-skelter for water,” she added.

There are about 500 homes at Owe camp and they get erratic pipe water supply once in two days, courtesy CIDCO. The pipeline has also rotted and the Kharghar-Taloja Colonies Welfare Association (KTCWA) has taken up the cudgels on behalf of the Owe camp residents. Observing the UN-sponsored International Mountain Day, environment lovers have launched a campaign to save Kharghar Hills from being destroyed by official neglect and public apathy. Indiscriminate quarrying, plans for township and forest fires constantly posing dangers, NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar said. He called for people’s participation in impressing upon the authorities to save the hills. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/koyna-dam-hit-people-go-sans-water-as-kharghar-hills-plundered-101670785389475.html  (12 Dec. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

A handbook on wetlands restoration launched In an effort to reach out to various stakeholders on scientific rejuvenation of wetlands, Care Earth Trust and Okapi Research and Advisory recently brought out a comprehensive handbook on Wetlands Restoration — Learnings from Chennai. It would serve as a comprehensive guide from important technical steps to post implementation management. The handbook would provide overview on wetlands, methods of scientific restoration and ways for sustaining the initiative in the long run. Interspersed with illustration and maps, the 106-page document speaks about various topics, including legal and regulatory provisions for protection and monitoring and evaluation. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-handbook-on-wetlands-restoration-launched-to-encourage-scientific-conservation/article66263356.ece  (14 Dec. 2022)

Telangana Centre not releasing water bodies restoration funds In the last four financial years, the Centre has not released any funds for repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies in Telangana, according to figures from 2018-19 that were placed in the Lok Sabha earlier this week. As per the information placed in the Lok Sabha, a Central assistance of Rs.498.3 crore was released to 11 States between 2014-15 and 2022-23. Of these, Odisha and Telangana have completed the highest number of renovation works of 810 and 437 water bodies respectively. However, the Centre sanctioned Rs 47.96 crore to Odisha while Telangana was sanctioned Rs 15.47 crore, over the last eight years.

No funds were released to Telangana since 2018-19 indicating sheer discrimination. However, the Centre released Rs 17.87 crore to Bihar where renovation works were taken up in only 59 water bodies and Rs.33 crore to Madhya Pradesh, which completed renovation works in 124 water bodies. Till December 6 during this financial year, the Jal Shakti Ministry completed renovation of 20,357 water bodies in Uttar Pradesh, 15,189 in Andhra Pradesh, 12,185 in Karnataka, 9,825 in Odisha, 9,014 in Tamil Nadu, and 7,849 in Chhattisgarh, among others. Only 3,414 water bodies were renovated in Telangana. https://telanganatoday.com/centre-continues-discrimination-towards-telangana-in-restoration-of-water-bodies  (11 Dec. 2022)

Indore Sirpur, Yashwant Sagar ponds to get facelift Ahead of GIS and NRI summit, Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) has launched beautification and development work at Sirpur and Yashwant Sagar ponds that have been declared as Ramsar Sites. City-based ornithologists and environmentalists have, however, claimed that not much was being done to protect and conserve the wetlands.

According to ornithologist and president of Nature & Wildlife Conservation and Awareness Society (NWCAS) Ravi Sharma and vice-president of The Nature Volunteers (TNV) Abhilash Khandekar, the issue of hyacinth in Chhota Talab at Sirpur wetland due to release of sewage of nearby colonies, along with encroachment, illegal fishing and bird hunting, noise pollution, increasing unwarranted activities including motorboat and spillage of oil in Gulawat are major issues to be taken up to help protecting the Ramsar sites. They also claimed that IMC’s focus on carryout works of development and beautification while most of the measures to protect the wetland and making favorable conditions for the migratory and resident birds are being ignored. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/sirpur-yashwant-sagar-ponds-to-get-facelift/articleshow/96331143.cms  (19 Dec. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Dal Lake: 20 navigation channels opened after decades After decades, the J&K govt is opening 20 navigation channels in the Dal Lake, with an aim to improve the quality of water in the lake and free movement of locals and tourists into the interiors of the lake. The opening of the navigation channels will not only allow the inhabitants to move freely but also improve the quality of lake water as these channels help the water to circulate. Along with this, there are plans to lay a sewage system for the houseboats to dispose of the waste in the treatment plant. Sewage coming from the houseboats is one of the major pollutants for the lake, with more than 600 houseboats on the lake, there has not been a proper sewage system in place for these houseboats for decades, however, the new sewerage system will help clean the lake and to nurture the aquatic life in the lake.  https://www.wionews.com/india-news/dal-lake-20-navigation-channels-opened-after-decades-sewage-pipes-laid-for-houseboat-waste-disposal-540160  (05 Dec. 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Vikalp Sangam मरुभूमि में पानी की रिश्तेदारी Baba Mayaram writing about protection of traditional water bodies of Nagaur dist in Western Rajasthan: कुल मिलाकर, रोल गांव का यह तालाब जिंदा है, सैकड़ों सालों से सदानीरा है। यह ऐसा तालाब है, जहां पनघट पर रोज भीड़ होती है। पक्का घाट बना है, जिससे पानी भरने में सुविधा होती है। गांव-समाज ने इसकी सार-संभाल बहुत ही अच्छे से की है। पंचायत ने भी इस संबंध में प्रस्ताव पारित किया है, और नियम-कायदे बनाए हैं, जिसका सख्ती से पालन किया जा रहा है। यहां सामाजिक समरसता भी देखने को मिलती है, जिसमें सभी समुदाय के लोग एकजुट होकर तालाब के रखरखाव के लिए काम करते हैं। यहां के पानी ने सबको जोड़ा है, भाईचारा भी कायम किया है। इसी प्रकार, रामसर गांव में युवाओं ने तालाब के रखरखाव के साथ ही पेड़ लगाने की मुहिम चलाई है, जिससे तालाब तो पानीदार है ही, मनुष्यों के साथ पशु-पक्षियों को पानी मिल रहा है, इस तालाब के किनारे कई तरह के पक्षी देखे जाते हैं। रामसर तालाब की सार-संभाल व रखरखाव भी अच्छा है, युवाओं ने बुजुर्गों की इस धरोहर को संभालने का जिम्मा लिया है। उन्नति संस्था की यह पूरी पहल सराहनीय होने के साथ अनुकरणीय भी है। https://vikalpsangam.org/article/marubhoomi-mein-paani-ki-rishtedaari/  (11 Dec. 2022)

West Bengal Village sees boost in incomes from better farming Dakshinkendbana is a Santhal village in the Indupur block of Bankura district. An obscure tribal village in West Bengal where seasonal migration has been the norm has seen household incomes increase as much as three times in five years with improved paddy and vegetable cultivation and fish-rearing. The increase in incomes follows measures for water conservation and better methods of cultivation like direct seeding of rice. In 2019, the first pond was excavated on 2.13 acres and two more were dug in 2022, with the support of the West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project (WBADMIP). Five ponds and 11 borewells were made under the rural employment guarantee scheme.  https://civilsocietyonline.com/field-report/bengal-village-sees-boost-in-incomes-from-better-farming/  (13 Dec. 2022)

Jammu & Kashmir Watermills still in vogue Scattered across many villages in Ganderbal district that is dotted with streams and canals, these environment-friendly watermills are still in vogue. Muhammad Iqbal Khatana, 58, of Surfraw village of Kangan, Ganderbal operates one such watermill since his childhood and is determined to continue his forefathers’ business. “These Aab-e-Grate had a great significance to the villages in the era gone by. A Grate owner had a better social status in the village as the family could afford both food grains and earn money as a service charge on grinding,” Khatana says.

“Aab-e-Grate is environment friendly but largely forgotten. With the outset of industrialisation, the Aab-e-Grate is rapidly losing the demand due to modern mill,” he says.Special arrangement/Greater Kashmir

“Aab-e-Grate is environment friendly but largely forgotten. With the outset of industrialisation, the Aab-e-Grate is rapidly losing the demand due to modern mill,” he says. “Traditional watermills do not pollute the atmosphere, nor do they require electricity or fossil fuels to run,” he said. Residents of surrounding villages visit Khatana’s water mill and he charges in kind rather than cash, taking a share of the flour from his customers. “I wish to keep my family’s traditional business alive,” he says. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/from-grain-to-flour-with-water-power-aab-e-grate-the-centuries-old-environment-friendly-watermills-still-in-vogue-in-kashmir  (15 Dec. 2022)

Report Beyond the margins of land & water “The massive flooding that is taking place in the world today is the outcome of both carbon emissions, on the one hand, and infrastructured landscapes, on the other,” says Nikhil Anand, Associate Professor of Anthropology. “Anthropogenic climate change—changing weather patterns, melting glaciers, intensifying monsoon cloud bursts—and an infrastructured landscape that magnifies these disasters, work together to produce these massive crises.”

An environmental anthropologist, Anand studies how the intersections of climate change, infrastructure, and state power affect cities and their most vulnerable residents. He is the author of Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai, an award-winning study of how the poor in Mumbai—a city on the western coast of India that sustained heavy flooding in 2005—access water supplies amidst technological uncertainty and political marginalization.

At the heart of Anand’s research is water—its governance, its presence, and its absence. He has co-directed two multidisciplinary initiatives, Rising Waters and Inhabited Sea, that explore the impact of water in its many forms on the past, present, and future of cities. Anand also co-edited, along with UCLA’s Akhil Gupta and Hannah Appel, The Promise of Infrastructure, a volume of essays that examines the politics of infrastructure. He is also the Director of Envirolab, a workspace supporting graduate research on environment-society relations. https://omnia.sas.upenn.edu/story/beyond-margins-land-and-water  (02 Dec. 2022)

Uttarakhand Man’s resolve to recharge groundwater pays off, 3,500 water bodies dug in 7 months. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/mans-resolve-to-recharge-groundwater-pays-off-3500-water-bodies-dug-in-7-months/articleshow/95800340.cms  (27 Nov. 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Goa Who is extracting groundwater? Despite Goa being one of the first few states in the country with a Groundwater Regulation Act, researchers and activists say that its groundwater is being extracted rapidly and, in some cases, illegally. Limited data on water, both on the resource and utilisation side, makes it difficult to fully understand how much water is actually being used and where.

A borewell in Goa. The state has approximately 6,000 registered wells. Of these, 80 percent are open wells and the remaining are borewells. Erratic water supply and high demand has contributed to illegal borewells and groundwater extraction. Photo by Supriya Vohra/Mongabay.

While better rainwater storage and groundwater recharge methods are needed, a more urgent need is a change in policy, since the rate of urbanisation in Goa is faster than the resource infrastructure it can support. Data, on registered wells and tankers, obtained through RTI applications in Goa, is used to understand water use patterns in the state. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/10/who-is-extracting-goas-groundwater/  (18 Oct. 2022)

Punjab NGT notice to CS on ‘distillery hand’ in GW pollution Demanding reconstitution of the joint committee to inspect Malbros International’s distillery and ethanol plant near Zira in Ferozepur district over complaints that it was polluting the local water and air, volunteer organisation Public Action Committee (PAC) has once again moved the NGT, which has given the Punjab chief secretary a two-month notice to file a response and told him to make a personal appearance in court via videoconferencing on February 23.

The people of surrounding villages have been protesting since July 24 to put pressure on the government to close down the distillery. The earlier joint inspection committee had claimed in its status report that the government agencies as well as the NGT’s monitoring committee had checked the factory and, since now it was closed, it will serve no useful purpose to repeat the exercise.

On Nov 11, PAC had approached the NGT with ‘facts and circumstances’ details, demanding reconstitution of the inspection committee with members from outside Punjab and Chandigarh. The PAC said: “No polluter will dig bore holes that naked eyes can detect, so we asked the joint committee to employ technology. Since ethanol degrades within 20 days and the factory is shut for more than two months, the laboratory tests on the groundwater samples won’t detect this actual reason for contamination. But it can reveal in soil samplings at different levels.”

On December 8, the NGT had directed the chief secretary, SPCB chairman, board’s Faridkot regional office executive engineer, Industry department’s principal secretary, member secretary of the CPCB, Ferozepur district magistrate, and the project proponent to file their responses within two months. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amritsar/in-punjab-ngt-notice-to-cs-on-distillery-hand-in-groundwater-pollution/articleshow/96239019.cms  (15 Dec. 2022)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Hesaraghatta lake’s water bodies badly polluted A report by the Bengaluru Rural deputy commissioner has revealed that two waterbodies Nagarakere lake and Chikkatumakuru lake in the upstream of Hesaraghatta lake ahave been pushed to the brink in the last few years. Sprawled over 173 acres, Nagarakere lake, recognised as a major waterbody in the downstream of the Arkavathi river, was found to be polluted along with the 113 acres and 31 guntas Chikkatumakuru lake. The waterbodies’ land has been diverted for works harmful to their ecosystem.

Following complaints from Girish N P, the NGT had ordered the Bangalore Rural administration to file a report. The Doddaballapur city municipal council officials had built a pipeline with 37 underground drainage machine holes in the middle of the lakebed, while inlets of the lake are carrying raw sewage from Doddaballapur city and nearby villages.

A view of the Hesaraghatta Lake. Credit: Special Arrangement/DH

The Chikkatumakuru lake in the downstream, without a fence, has been left open for encroachment. Though a whopping 37 acres of lake land has been given to build a STP, untreated sewage from Bashetthalli Town panchayat area continues to enter the lake. Civic officials have been told to shift the sewage network from the lakebed at a cost of Rs 2.78 crore. SPCB officials, who surveyed the industries after being prodded by the NGT, have submitted that eight red category industries without facility for wastewater treatment exist with just a common septic tank and soak pit. An official said a detailed report, including the lab analysis of the samples collected from the lakes, is expected to be submitted in the coming days. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/waterbodies-on-upstream-of-hesaraghatta-lake-badly-polluted-1171888.html  (16 Dec. 2022)

Prevent polluted water entry into Doddaballapur lakes: NGT A joint committee appointed by the NGT to study pollution of two lakes (Chikkatumukuru and Nagarakere lake) in Doddaballapur Taluk has suggested that Bengaluru Rural District authorities should take immediate steps to prevent entry of untreated sewage water into water bodies and set up STPs at the earliest. The NGT had formed the joint panel after hearing a petition on pollution in both lakes. The joint panel found that untreated water enters into the both lakes and pollute it. There is urgent need to build STPs to prevent entry of untreated domestic and municipal waste water into water bodies, the panel suggested.

The panel in its report also recommended for shifting some sewer lines to prevent entry of polluted water into lakes. The Chikkatumukuru lake comes under Zilla Panchayat Bengaluru Rural District and close to Beshettihalli Town Panchayat and it spread around 33 acres. The water from Beshettihalli Town Panchayat entering to the lake, said the report. Nagarakere lake come under Doddaballapur Municipal Council limits and it spread about 185 acres. The untreated water from Doddaballapur Municipal is entering into lake and there is a need to set up STP urgently, the joint committee said in its report. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-infrastructure/ngt-asks-authorities-to-take-steps-to-prevent-entry-of-polluted-water-into-doddaballapur-lakes-1169306.html  (06 Dec. 2022)

Water meter stolen; a brand new scam Over the last few months, several complaints of water meter thefts have been reported, especially from East and South Bengaluru. While the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) charges Rs 1,200 to replace the meters, those who lost the meters ended up paying nearly five times that cost: Rs 7,000. An East Bengaluru resident who spoke to DH on condition of anonymity said obtaining the meter is a cumbersome process and residents had to bribe the officials. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/water-meter-stolen-it-s-a-brand-new-scam-in-bengaluru-1172202.html  (16 Dec. 2022) Now, BWSSB faces a scam in water bill payments. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-infrastructure/now-bwssb-faces-a-scam-in-water-bill-payments-1172526.html  (17 Dec. 2022)

Rajakaluve turns trash can in Thanisandra Residents of Thanisandra say that the rajakaluve in their area is filled with dirt and silt. Despite repeated requests, the authorities have reportedly not taken any steps to clear the same. They said that the rajakaluve has been ignored for a long time. Residents also complained of bad smell emanating from it. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/rajakaluve-turns-trash-can-in-thanisandra/articleshow/96207632.cms  (14 Dec. 2022)

Delhi UP withdraws from the water exchange pact According to an RTI reply, it has been revealed that the UP has withdrew from a plan to provide 140 MGD of raw water to Delhi in lieu of an equivalent quantity of treated effluent for irrigation despite the LG making a request to CM Yogi Adityanath. The plan envisaged supply of 270 cusecs of fresh water from the Murad Nagar Regulator to the Sonia Vihar WTP in Delhi and the release of an equivalent quantity of treated effluent from the Okhla STP in the Agra Canal. DJB has even paid Rs 70 lakh for the preparation of the feasibility report, however, the UP govt has returned this amount to the DJB without citing any reason for backing out from the plan. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/uttar-pradesh-backed-out-of-water-exchange-pact-with-delhi-rti-reveals-3597104  (11 Dec. 2022)

 Cost of toxic landfills The Bhalswa landfill site was commissioned in 1994 and has accumulated eight million tonnes of legacy waste, with the site exhausting its capacity in 2006. The Okhla site was commissioned in 1994 and holds six million tonnes of legacy waste, with the site exhausting its capacity in 2010. The Ghazipur site is Delhi’s oldest and was commissioned in 1984, and has already accumulated 14 million tonnes of legacy waste. In 2019, following an order by the NGT order, the three municipal corporations started carrying out bio-mining and bio-remediation. However, as fresh dumping still continues, the pace of clearing inert legacy waste has remained slow. https://citizenmatters.in/toxic-delhi-landfills-32399  (14 Dec. 2022)

Ghaziabad  NGT forms panel for report on violations by housing project NGT has formed a committee comprising the state pollution control board (SPCB) and DM to obtain a factual report in one month time on the alleged violations of environmental norms by Siddharth Vihar Yojana in Ghaziabad, a scheme or project by the Awas Vikas Parishad.  The bench also said, “The report besides covering issues raised like STP, developing plantation and others, may also provide status of existing infrastructure in the area to carry treated sewage (sewerage) and solid waste collection and transportation systems for processing at identified sites.” It then directed a copy of the order be sent to the authorities concerned for compliance. The matter has been listed for further proceedings on January 12.

According to the petition, some projects in the scheme were complete and allowed to be occupied in contravention of the environmental norms, such as the non-installation of STPs and the non-development of green belt. “Thereby the constructions raised are causing huge pollution”, it said. https://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/regulatory/ngt-forms-panel-for-report-on-green-norm-violations-by-housing-project-in-ghaziabad/96161003   (12 Dec. 2022)

Gurugram 80 residents fall sick, water contamination suspected  At least 80 residents of Emaar Palm Gardens society in Sector 83 have reported falling sick over the past week, with symptoms of vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea, health department officials said, adding that a probe has been initiated to look into complaints of suspected contamination in the society’s water supply. “Two water samples — one from inlet and one from outlet — in the water supply line were taken and sent to the laboratory at Civil Hospital for investigation.

In October this year, at least 50 residents of a society in Sector 72 had reported falling sick with similar symptoms, prompting residents to raise complaints of contamination in the water supply. The health department had collected water samples for examination at the time. A resident of Sector 83 said, “We will raise the issue with civic authorities also to regularly check water supply pipelines in the area. Several such incidents have happened in nearby societies recently.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/gurgaon-society-water-contamination-8327602/  (16 Dec. 2022)

Shimla Citizen Perception Survey on smart city under way Shimla Smart City Limited is conducting a Citizen Perception Survey, a part of the Ease of Living Index. The survey will gather the feedback of the city residents with regard to liveability. “Their views will highlight how citizens feel about different aspects of the city such as public transport, educational facilities, healthcare services, water availability, cost of living, employment opportunities, among others,” he said. This survey, which is being conducted both online and offline, commenced on December 9 and would continue till January 26. The offline version involving face-to-face interviews would run parallel to the online survey. “Shimla residents can also enter their feedback on https://eol2022.org/ by using the Shimla MC code 800137,” said Ajit Bhardwaj, General Manager, Shimla Smart City Limited. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/citizen-perception-survey-under-way-in-shimla-city-461429  (16 Dec. 2022)

WATER

WHO Accelerated action needed to ensure safe drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene for all. https://www.who.int/news/item/14-12-2022-accelerated-action-needed-to-ensure-safe-drinking-water–sanitation-and-hygiene-for-all  (14 Dec. 2022)

IRCTC The Indian Railways imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on a contractor for selling a bottle of water above the listed price. A show-cause notice has also been issued in the same matter. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/railways-impose-one-lakh-fine-contractor-charging-extra-bottle-of-water-2310608-2022-12-18  (18 Dec. 2022)

AGRICULTURE

Concerns over water intensity of sugarcane based ethanol India aspires to reach a 20 percent ethanol blending target by 2025 for which it will need 1000 crore litres of ethanol. Currently, ethanol – a by-product of sugarcane – production process uses a lot of water. Every litre of ethanol needs 2860 litres of water.

Some studies indicate that converting sugarcane juice to ethanol is a more efficient process, as compared to converting molasses to ethanol because it consumes less water. Meanwhile, sugarcane farmers in Maharashtra are unhappy with the fair and remunerative price rate being offered for the crop, the staggered nature of payment, the lack of transparency in the weighing system, and rising costs of raw materials. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/12/india-aims-to-go-big-on-sugarcane-based-ethanol-but-water-intensity-of-the-crop-throws-up-concerns/  (14 Dec. 2022)

‘India must develop ecosystem centric approach for agriculture’ India’s transition to sustainable farming has to be calibrated and orchestrated well, drawing lessons from the successes of India’s Green Revolution and the recent crisis in Sri Lanka, says sustainable farming expert P.S. Vijayshankar. https://www.indiaspend.com/indiaspend-interviews/india-must-develop-an-ecosystem-centric-approach-for-agriculture-845873  (14 Dec. 2022)

Sadguru’s campaign to save soil is of course suggesting right, but his solutions or actions for this are not helpful, say experts. https://grist.org/agriculture/an-indian-spiritual-leader-is-urging-the-world-to-save-soil-experts-say-hes-not-helping/  (09 Dec. 2022)

WINTER 2022

IMD Peaks still brown due to deficient snow There has been hardly any snow in the upper and lower reaches of Himalayas in December, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD), because of the absence of a strong western disturbance. The result is a milder winter, at least until now. Typically, northwest India sees 2-3 moderate to strong western disturbances in November and 2-3 in December. This year it saw none since November 10, a situation that hasn’t changed thus far in December. The impact is also evident in temperatures.

There is a 97% rainfall/snowfall deficiency over Himachal Pradesh; 80% deficiency over Jammu and Kashmir in December according to IMD. And there was no rainfall or snowfall over Uttarakhand. The Leh region and some more parts of Jammu and Kashmir recorded light snowfall on December 9 due to a feeble western disturbance.

 “This time even the upper reaches of the Himalayas haven’t received snowfall in many areas. This is mainly because no strong WD has affected the region since November. It’s too early to say if this is unusual. We have to see if a strong WD strikes the region in the second half of December. As of today we do not have projections of a WD affecting the region immediately. This doesn’t necessarily mean there will be no cold wave,” said RK Jenamani, senior scientist, national weather forecasting centre, IMD.

 “This is very unusual. Only two feeble WDs affected the Western Himalayan region this month. Starting November, three or four intense WDs that bring winter rain or snow should have impacted the region. This has led to very warm temperatures over many areas and no snow. Due to feeble WDs, humidity is low which is why there is no fog and there is clear sunshine. Clear days increase the daytime temperature,” said Mahesh Palawat, vice president, climate and meteorology, Skymet Weather. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/no-white-winter-peaks-still-brown-due-to-deficient-snow-101671215666457.html  (17 Dec. 2022)

FSI Winter wildfires back: 5 states get maximum alerts Winter wildfires have hit forests across the country once again, just like in 2020, when massive destruction due to these infernos was observed pan-India. The winter wildfire season, which starts from the beginning of November, has witnessed 635 fire alerts being sent out by the Forest Survey of India (FSI). The previous year in the same time span, 510 alerts were sent, while in 2020, as many as 637 alerts went out. Since November 1, the maximum alerts were sent to Madhya Pradesh (102), Maharashtra (59), Uttarakhand (50), Telangana (47) and Arunachal Pradesh (44) by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer (MODIS) sensor.

Uttarakhand received highest number of alerts from December 7 to 14, followed by Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, according to FSI. Absence of winter rain and dry weather is further adding to forest authorities’ worries. In Uttarakhand hills, places like Munsiyari, Uttarkashi and Almora, which are otherwise clad in snow in December, are seeing fires now.

Incidentally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US had recently predicted that La Nina (the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific) will weaken from spring of 2023, which would mean upcoming spring and summer are going to be relatively warmer.

According to FSI, more than 36% of the country’s forest cover is estimated to be prone to frequent forest fires. Nearly 4% of India’s forest cover is extremely prone to fire, whereas 6% is “very highly fire-prone”. Asked if the spike in cases this time would mirror that of 2020, a record year, FSI officials said they are yet to analyse the data to infer anything at this stage. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/winter-wildfires-back-5-states-get-maximum-alerts/articleshow/96238334.cms  (15 Dec. 2022)

Telangana When villages got a ‘snowy’ dressing On January 29, 2013, the villagers in three mandals of the Rangareddy district witnessed an unusual phenomenon when they received a heavy hail storm, which seemed like snowfall. The violent hailstorm led to havoc in seven villages in Chevella, Moinabad, and Shankarpally. The hailstones as large as boulders damaged house roofs, left trees leafless, killed hundreds of animals, and battered vast areas of crops. A thick fog enveloped the towns, and the visibility was almost zero.

According to locals, the severe hailstorm began with violent lightning, drizzling, and thunder at around 8.30 pm but only lasted for around 15 minutes. The ice was said to be one-foot thick everywhere. While India Meteorological Department officials were left clueless about what caused the rare phenomenon, scientists said that global warming is a contributing factor. https://telanganatoday.com/rarest-of-rare-when-villages-in-telangana-got-a-snowy-dressing  (15 Dec. 2022)

FLOOD 2022

SANDRP Blog Dam Floods, Failures & Disasters in 2022 This year, the massive floods in Godavari have exposed the flood vulnerability of giant projects like Polavaram and Kaleshwaram. Also there have been multiple dam failures and dam induced floods in Madha Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In absence of coordianation and data sharing Hirakud induced floods in Mahanadi basin have affected several villages in Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

There have been several instances of unscientific operations of dams and the operators continue to hide behind TINA (There Is No Alternative) excuse. The functioning of CWC as key flood forecasting and management agency has not shown any significant improvement. However, now it has accepted that faulty dam operations can lead to flood in downstream areas. https://sandrp.in/2022/12/17/dam-floods-failures-and-disasters-in-2022/  (17 Dec. 2022)

LANDSLIDES

West Bengal The Gaguney landslide in India: evolution over time Dave Petley writing about Gaguney landslide in India, the blog does not seem to mention, but this is from Darjeeling hill areas in North Bengal. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2022/12/13/gaguney-landslide-2/  (13 Dec. 2022)

Himachal Pradesh NH-5 blocked due to Massive Landslide near Choling/Urni Dhank in Kinnaur district around 10 am today (Dec. 19).

This portion witnessed landslides many times in past years too. If you see, all the major landslides in the region are where heavy construction has taken place. https://twitter.com/shubhamtorres09/status/1604740811350245376?s=20&t=6XHRsCCJ9cOZ8uqd6T-qag  (19 Dec. 2022)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Kerala Govt has set up a high level committee for setting up floating solar projects in brackish and marine water bodies not suitable for agriculture or fisheries. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/kerala-constitutes-high-level-committee-for-setting-up-floating-solar-projects/96231936  (15 Dec. 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

VIDHI (De)Regulating the Environment? An Analysis of Regulatory Changes Introduced during COVID-19 in India. https://vidhilegalpolicy.in/research/deregulating-the-environment/  (06 Dec. 2022)

Kalpavriksh A Monumental Folly – Niti Aayog’s development plans for Great Nicobar Island. https://kalpavriksh.org/a-monumental-folly-niti-aayogs-development-plans-for-great-nicobar-islands/

Report Bill that endangers forest rights Regressive policing allowed by the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill and other forest legislation hinders the full and beneficial scope of the Forest Rights Act Saakshi Samant, Mrinalini Ravindranath. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-conservation-bill-that-endangers-forest-rights/article66259707.ece  (14 Dec. 2022)

Karnataka Lokayukta police find glaring irregularities in KSPCB regional office A team of Lokayukta police found glaring irregularities in files and documents maintained at the regional office of KSPCB during its visit to the office on Dec. 13-14. Led by Superintendent of Police, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, K. Lakshmi Ganesh, the team was in KSPCB office following several complaints from the public during the recently conducted phone-in program as well as through other means.

A Lokayukta police team at the regional office of KSPCB in Mangaluru. Photo: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT/The Hindu

Mr. Ganesh in a release here said prima facie, delays were found in disposing off applications for registration, renewal and those coming under Sakala scheme. The office was found to have not acted on industries that were violating factories Act and rules. The team would collate all the information gathered and initiate suitable action against officials concerned for dereliction of duty, the SP said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/lokayukta-police-find-glaring-irregularities-in-kspcb-regional-office/article66263341.ece  (14 Dec. 2022) The raids were conducted after they had received complaints from the public that officials were accepting bribes for issuing licences and permits and following lapses in matters pertaining to pollution control measures and examinations.   https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1029302  (14 Dec. 2022)

Tamil Nadu HC quashes SPCB order against Isha Foundation The Madras high court on Wednesday (Dec. 14) ruled in favour of Isha Foundation led by Jaggi Vasudev popularly known as Sadguru in a case against the SPCB. The court quashed a prosecution initiated by the pollution control board against the yoga centre for constructing buildings in the Velliangiri hills in Coimbatore without obtaining environmental clearance between 2006 and 2014 as per the Central Government’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/madras-hc-quashes-tn-pollution-board-order-against-isha-foundation-101671043225097.html  (15 Dec. 2022)

Goa 61 scientists appeal to reject railway track expansion in protected areas A group of 61 scientists and researchers have written to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) asking them to scrap the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the doubling of railway track in Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park.  Citing the economic, cultural, ecological, recreational and scientific significance of these protected areas, scientists argued that the terms of reference for the EIA laid out by the Railways are insufficient to assess the full extent of the impact expanding the railway track through the Western Ghats will have. https://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/61-scientists-appeal-to-reject-railway-track-expansion-in-protected-areas/198358  (19 Dec. 2022)

Nihar Gokhale New airport: Death of an ecosystem, science and due process. https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/goas-new-airport-death-of-an-ecosystem-science-and-due-process  (14 Dec. 2022) 

CLIMATE CHANGE

Tamil Nadu Govt releases climate change mission document Tamil Nadu is the first state to launch its own climate change mission to make it a ‘climate smart state’. The state has proposed 13 goals for the mission, along with 11 focal areas for climate action as part of the Tamil Nadu State Action Plan on Climate Change 2.0 (TNSAPCC 2.0). The mission was officially launched by Chief Minister MK Stalin on December 9. TNSAPCC was first implemented in the state in 2015 based on the National Action Plan for Climate Change for 2015-2020. Based on advice from the Union government to revise the action plan, steps have been taken for creating new short term plans for 2023 and long term plans up to 2030. It takes the climate agenda on priority with district missions and climate officers already in place in the state.

– The mission document contains a comprehensive study of climate risks and their impacts based on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the state of Tamil Nadu which showed that Ariyalur is the most vulnerable district to climate risks “due to its high sensitivity and low adaptive capacity.” The other vulnerable districts identified in the study are Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram, Thiruvarur, Thiruvallur, Thanjavur, Perambalur, Pudukottai, and Thiruvannamalai. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/tamil-nadu-releases-climate-change-mission-document-13-goals-set-2030-170892  (13 Dec. 2022)

WMO Loss and damage from floods, storms cost India $7.6 bn in 202 According to the recently released The State of the Climate in Asia 2021 report India suffered huge economic losses from floods and storms in 2021 as climate change has made these events more frequent. In another report published by the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), flooding caused a total loss of $3.2 billion in India, with about 1,300 casualties along with damaging crops and properties. The report further stated that storms also caused significant economic damage, especially in India ($4.4 billion), followed by China ($3 billion) and Japan ($2 billion). As per the estimates by ESCAP’s Asia-Pacific Disaster Reports of 2021 and 2022 India would need an annual investment in adaptation measures at $46.3 billion which is estimated to be 1.7 percent of India’s GDP. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/natural-disasters/loss-and-damage-from-floods-storms-cost-india-7-6-bn-in-2021-report-86233  (28 Nov. 2022)

CoP 15 Indigenous leadership must to stop natur’s destruction The conference will see countries negotiate a global 2030 plan, called the Global Biodiversity Framework, to set worldwide targets for a range of issues, from establishing national parks to habitat destruction. The framework will hopefully be delivered by next Monday (19 December). But so far, the CoP 15 draft text is lacking a fundamental element: adequate inclusion of language and perspectives from Indigenous peoples and local communities. Without Indigenous and local community leadership, any biodiversity targets will remain out of reach. https://theconversation.com/without-indigenous-leadership-attempts-to-stop-the-tide-of-destruction-against-nature-will-fail-196208  (13 Dec. 2022)

Building climate resilience collectively Mansi Sachdev, Pushkal Shivam Active involvement by government, non-governmental, community-based organisations, and academic institutions will help build a sustainability profile and arrive at specific interventions. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/building-climate-resilience-collectively/article66263836.ece  (15 Dec. 2022)

The collapse of insects The most diverse group of organisms on the planet are in trouble, with recent research suggesting insect populations are declining at an unprecedented rate. https://www.reuters.com/graphics/GLOBAL-ENVIRONMENT/INSECT-APOCALYPSE/egpbykdxjvq/  (06 Dec. 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

India Nepal पिथौरागढ़ के धारचूला के आसपास नेपाल अवैध तरीक़े से सारा मलबा नदी में डाल रहा है ताकि नदी बहाव बदले और भारत में चल रहे निर्माण कार्य प्रभावित हो। यह अंतरराष्ट्रीय सीमा के क़ानूनों का भी उल्लंघन है। https://twitter.com/AjitSinghRathi/status/1604744811369889792?s=20&t=QT_i1tM3F6N_bky2Lz1XlQ  (19 Dec. 2022)

Pakistan The occurrence of landslides Dave Petley: A paper (Shabbir et al. 2022) has just been published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research. The researchers have compiled a dataset of landslides across Pakistan from 2003 to 2019 inclusive.  The dataset includes all reported landslides, not just those that have caused fatalities (as in the case of my own research).  In total, 1,089 landslides have been identified, of which 180 led to loss of life.  In total, 1,072 people were killed by landslides over this period.  Rainfall triggered 63% of the recorded events. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2022/12/15/pakistan-1/  (15 Dec. 2022)

Climate Change Victims Risk Everything to Catch Crabs for the Rich  The reflection of the rising sun looks like a shadow in the muddy water lacing through the mangrove. Carrying a makeshift life jacket, a hooked iron stick, and a plastic bag, barefoot 40-year-old Suleiman Mallah wades through a patch of the world’s largest mangrove forest in an arid zone. He’s in torn clothes in search of lucrative mud crabs. He is fearful and hopeful. “We risk our lives, often dodging snake bites, to catch the crabs,” he told VICE World News. Mud crabs, or mangrove crabs, are brown, fast and have strong and vicious claws.

– Catching them can be extremely dangerous, and the increase in snakes following Pakistan’s super floods, have made it harder. Kharo Chhan is in Thatta, one of Pakistan’s poorest districts in Sindh province, and most of it was submerged in floods two months ago. https://www.vice.com/en/article/3adw39/pakistan-dangerous-mud-crab-fishing-climate-crisis  (19 Dec. 2022)

Nepal About B-Ready Project: Designing Anticipatory Actions to Flooding at Dodhara-Chandani Municipality in Mahakali basin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qHlGFkpj4Q  (09 Dec. 2022)

ASIA

Indonesia Bali’s water crisis threatens local culture Bali’s water crisis is worsening from tourism development, population growth and water mismanagement, experts and environmental groups warn. Water shortages already are affecting UNESCO sites, wells, food production and Balinese culture and experts say the situation will deteriorate further if existing water control policies are not enforced across the island. A tropical, volcanic island in the center of Indonesia’s archipelago, Bali relies on water from three main sources: crater lakes, rivers and shallow groundwater. A unique traditional irrigation system, called the “subak,” distributes water through a network of canals, dams and tunnels.

The subak, made a UNESCO site in 2012, is central to Balinese culture, representing the Balinese Hindu philosophy of “Tri Hita Karana”— harmony between people, nature and the spiritual realm. “This is one of the very special cases of living landscapes in Asia,” said Feng Jing, who works with UNESCO in Bangkok. Pressures are severely straining the subak and other water resources, says Putu Bawa, project manager for the Bali Water Protection program, led by a Bali-based nongovernment organization, the IDEP Foundation. https://apnews.com/article/science-business-water-shortages-bali-united-nations-educational-scientific-and-cultural-organization-e4f256207dc24d02ed183d8bb0a314c0  (13 Dec. 2022)

MEKONG Laos Controversial dam faces economic, regulatory hurdles As locals await relocation and environmentalists raise concerns over impacts on the Mekong’s ecology, the future of the planned Phou Ngoy dam looks uncertain. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/energy/phou-ngoy-mekong-dam-laos-faces-economic-regulatory-hurdles/  (14 Dec. 2022)

Dams on the Mekong River, Laos • Map by The Third Pole

Starving the Mekong Lives are remade as dams built by China upstream deprive the Mekong River Delta of precious sediment. https://www.reuters.com/graphics/GLOBAL-ENVIRONMENT/MEKONG/egpbyyadnvq/index.html  (15 Dec. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

NASA to run first global water survey from space A NASA-led international satellite mission is set to take off from Southern California this week to conduct a comprehensive survey of the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers for the first time.

A major Earth science project will use an advanced radar satellite known as the Surface Water and Ocean Topograph (SWOT) which is designed to give scientists an unprecedented view of the life-giving fluid covering 70 percent of the planet to shed new light on the mechanics and consequences of climate change. If the mission goes according to plan, the satellite should produce research data within several months.

It took nearly 20 years to develop SWOT, which incorporates advanced microwave radar technology. According to scientists, it should collect height-surface measurements of oceans, lakes, reservoirs and rivers in high-definition detail across 90 percent of the globe. The data, compiled from radar sweeps of the planet at least twice every 21 days, will enhance ocean-circulation models, bolster weather and climate forecasts, and aid in managing scarce freshwater supplies in drought-stricken regions, according to researchers.

One of the main aims of the mission is to analyse how oceans absorb atmospheric heat and carbon dioxide in a natural process that moderates global temperatures and climate change. Freshwater bodies are another key focus for SWOT, equipped to observe the entire length of nearly all rivers wider than 100 metres (330 feet), as well as more than one million lakes and reservoirs larger than 62,500 square metres (15 acres).

Taking inventory of Earth’s water resources repeatedly over SWOT’s three-year mission will enable researchers to better trace fluctuations in the planet’s rivers and lakes during seasonal changes and significant weather events. NASA’s SWOT freshwater science lead, Tamlin Pavelsky, said collecting such data was akin to “taking the pulse of the world’s water system, so we’ll be able to see when it’s racing and we’ll be able to see when it’s slow”. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/14/nasa-to-run-first-global-water-survey-from-space  (14 Dec. 2022)

The first mission to survey nearly all of the water on Earth’s surface has launched. The international Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission, known as SWOT, lifted off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Dec 16, 2022. The mission, a joint effort between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales, will survey water on more than 90% of the world’s surface and measure the height of water in freshwater bodies as well as the oceans. The two agencies have collaborated for decades to monitor Earth’s oceans — and SWOT is the next step in their partnership.

– The insights from SWOT’s measurements will show how oceans influence climate change as well as how global warming impacts lakes, rivers and reservoirs. The satellite’s data can also help communities better prepare for flooding and other water-related disasters, which are increasing due to the climate crisis.

– After years in development, SWOT’s Ka-band Radar Interferometer, or KaRIn, is ready to fly. The instrument will be able to detect features that are up to 10 times smaller than those picked up by sea-level satellites. Current ground and satellite monitoring only gathers data on a few thousand of the world’s largest lakes, while SWOT will increase that number to over 1 million lakes.

– The KaRIn radar instrument can collect measurements through cloud cover and the darkness of night. The two antenna are positioned on either end of a 33-foot-long (10-meter-long) boom on the satellite. These antennas send radar pulses to the surface of the water and receive signals back. “For freshwater, this will be a quantum leap in terms of our knowledge,” said Daniel Esteban-Fernandez, KaRIn instrument manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The spacecraft will view nearly all rivers wider than 330 feet (100 meters) and capture them in 3D for the first time, as well as measure ocean features less than 60 miles (100 kilometers) across. “SWOT is really going to allow us to understand sort of how water volume changes in our rivers and lakes worldwide,” said Tamlin Pavelsky, NASA’s SWOT freshwater science lead, based at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “It’s going to be a real game changer.” https://edition.cnn.com/2022/12/16/world/nasa-swot-launch-scn/index.html  (16 Dec. 2022)

Report Growing Climate Risks of hydro projects Mississippi had historically low water levels last month. Water managers on the Colorado River just warned of a looming “doomsday scenario” where continued drought would halt electricity generation at Glen Canyon Dam. That scenario has already arrived for Kariba Dam, the second largest hydropower project in southern Africa, which provides more than half of the electricity used by Zambia and Zimbabwe. Kariba’s reservoir—built in 1959 it is the largest reservoir in the world by volume—is at the lowest level in its history, resulting in extreme power cuts to Zimbabwe and power rationing in Zambia. In Europe, drought drove down hydropower generation in Italy, Austria, Spain and Portugal. Similarly in China (e.g. Sichuan province).

– Due to the level of climate change that is already baked in, drought-driven embargos on hydropower’s water fuel are likely to become more frequent and more widespread in the coming decades. In other words, one of the most touted solutions to the climate crisis is becoming less reliable due to the negative impacts from climate change that are already under way.

– A recent study in Nature Climate Change found that, even under the most optimistic climate scenario, more than 60% of existing hydropower projects are in “regions where considerable declines in streamflow are projected” by 2050, rising to 74% of projects with greater warming. I (Jeff Opperman) was lead author on a study that found that approximately one-third of global hydropower projects are in regions projected to have increased risk for water scarcity. It is imperative to understand that hydropower is itself far more vulnerable to climate-driven disruptions compared to other renewables like wind and solar. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2022/12/16/hydropower-and-water-scarcity-the-growing-climate-risks-of-a-climate-solution/  (16 Dec. 2022)

Report Rivers, lakes need better protection The effects of climate change are increasingly affecting rivers and lakes and threatening the ecological balance in these waters. Adaptations are recommended for the European Water Framework Directive, which aims to achieve a “good ecological status” in bodies of water. This is the conclusion reached by researchers at the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development and the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries. Researchers from these institutes have now investigated the specific consequences for rivers and lakes in the project GewässerKlima (Development of the Ecological Quality of Surface Waters in the Face of Climate Change) for the German Environment Agency.

– In general, the mixing regime of lakes can change dramatically. Increased stratification and reduced mixing have consequences for nutrient availability, but also for the exchange of oxygen-rich surface water with deeper water layers. Higher temperatures increase biological activity in water bodies, and thus oxygen consumption, while decreasing the solubility of oxygen. Without sufficient oxygen, many aquatic organisms cannot survive. Low water can also lead to high concentrations of salts and phosphate compounds in the water—the pH value of the waters can become unbalanced. These developments affect the organisms living in the bodies of water in different ways.

– For cold-loving species, the impact of climate change on rivers and lakes can be their downfall. Heat-loving species, on the other hand, have an advantage. Changing conditions in water bodies can thus lead to significant changes in biotic communities. Climate change may likewise favor the spread of invasive species or new diseases and parasites—with unclear consequences for aquatic biodiversity.

– Since 2000, the EU WFD has formed the basis for water protection in all European member states. Its goal is, among other things, to ensure a good ecological status of water bodies. This has hardly been achieved so far. From the researchers’ point of view, the directive would benefit from adaptations that take into account changes in climatic boundary conditions.

– The key is to have a good data basis. Gaps need to be closed here. The researchers recommend, among other things, that additional indicators that could show the effects of climate change be included in water monitoring. Examples include the depth of visibility as a measure of water transparency or turbidity in lakes, or the consistent sampling of zooplankton, i.e. the smallest animal organisms, in water bodies, which represent an important link between plant plankton and higher organisms such as fish. https://phys.org/news/2022-12-climate-rivers-lakes.html  (16 Dec. 2022)

GW resources near major river deltas could run dry in 200 years From the Mississippi to the Niger, river deltas have long drawn people and industry, both with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for fresh water. Much of that water is drawn from underground aquifers deep beneath the sprawling delta systems. But for how much longer? Using computer models to assess these groundwater resources, a new analysis warns they are being depleted—and that several could run dry within 200 years. The study, recently published in Environmental Research Letters, examines the sustainability of groundwater resources at 15 major deltas across the world. Many of these host mega-cities home to more than 10 million people, including Bangkok, on the Chao Phraya delta in Thailand, and Hong Kong, on the Pearl delta.

– “These fresh groundwater reserves are under increasing stress as population increases, sea level rises and agriculture gets more intense,” says paper coauthor Joeri van Engelen, a hydrologist at the Deltares research institute in Delft, the Netherlands. “And although 200 years doesn’t sound so concerning, given that these freshwater ground reserves developed over many thousands of years, it’s quite disturbing.”

– To get a better idea of water stored beneath the 15 deltas, the study used three-dimensional models to simulate the build-up, over the last 125,000 years, of the groundwater resources several hundred meters below the surface. The data for the models was drawn from previously published estimates of delta and aquifer dimensions, as well as prior studies of delta geology and groundwater movement. After using the model to estimate the volume of water available, the study used current rates of extraction across the deltas to estimate how long the groundwater in each location will last.

– The results show that freshwater supplies from four of the 15 deltas—the Ganges-Brahmaputra on the India-Bangladesh border and the Pearl, Yangtze, and Yellow in China—could be exhausted within 200 years. https://www.pnas.org/post/journal-club/some-groundwater-resources-near-major-river-deltas-could-run-dry-next-200-years  (12 Dec. 2022)

USA Emergency response to ‘megaflood’ in Sacramento region Liz Bryson is the Manager of Flood Operations at the California Department of Water Resources. Bryson and the DWR lead the state’s flood response. “One big part of what we do during high water is facilitated discussions between reservoir operators because those releases into the rivers could have major impacts downstream,” said Bryson. “So, we want to make sure that all the appropriate agencies are in the conversation so they’re not just making decisions in silos.”

– “What building in the floodplains does — behind a levee or below a dam — is puts a whole bunch of people in harm’s way and enriches some developers that put houses in the floodplain,” said Cain. “They’re not paying for the dam. They’re delivering a check, almost certainly not a check… a bill, almost certainly to future generations to have to pay for that foolish development.” https://www.abc10.com/article/entertainment/television/programs/to-the-point/emergency-response-flood-northern-california/103-85b1c506-77c0-4644-bf07-dbab26c85434  (14 Dec. 2022)

Climate change is rusting Alaska’s waterways Dozens of once crystal-clear streams and rivers in Arctic Alaska are now running bright orange and cloudy—and in some cases, they may be becoming more acidic. This otherwise-undeveloped landscape now looks as if an industrial mine has been in operation there for decades, and scientists want to know why.

Many of the rusting waterways are located within some of Alaska’s most remote protected lands: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, the Kobuk Valley National Park, and the Selawik Wildlife Refuge. According to the researchers, the rusty coating on rocks and stream banks is coming from the land itself.

The prevailing hypothesis is that climate warming is causing underlying permafrost to degrade. This releases sediments rich in iron, and when those sediments hit running water and open air, they oxidize and turn a deep rusty-orange color. The oxidation of minerals in the soil may also be making the water more acidic. The research team is still early in the process of identifying the cause in order to better explain the consequences.

The rusting of Alaska’s rivers will also likely have an impact on human communities. Rivers such as the Kobuk and the Wulik, where rusting has been observed, also serve as drinking-water sources for many predominantly Alaska Native communities in Northwest Alaska.

The Kivalina village community where Wulik river terminates has seen the river become more and more turbid in recent years, the tribal administrator Millie Hawley says and some people blame the nearby Red Dog Mine. But Hawley says everyone is aware that the permafrost around them is melting, and that increased erosion is causing the level of dissolved minerals and salts in the Wulik to rise.

The Salmon River in the Brooks Range runs orange in the early fall of 2020. (Roman Dial)

In addition to present-day impacts, the researchers are also considering the historical record. “I’m sure it has happened [previously],” Dial says, “because, in some sense, this is a natural phenomenon.” But Dial and Sullivan note that the rate of climate warming is greater than anything recorded in the past. “So it’s very possible that something like this has happened before, but it happened really slowly. And maybe there wasn’t just this massive pulse of orange that wound up in these streams,” Sullivan says.

The team believes there could be more than one climate-change-related factor at play. Two of the warmest summers on record, 2019 and 2020, were both followed by winters with unusually high snowpacks. For now, none of the researchers know for sure whether the orange streams and rivers are an anomalous occurrence coinciding with a handful of unseasonably warm seasons followed by high snowpack. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2022/12/alaska-rivers-rust-climate-change-permafrost/672475/  (18 Dec. 2022)

Congo Residents mourn after deadly floods and landslides At least 120 people were killed around Kinshasa the capital of Democratic Republic Congo on after drenching rain unleashed floods and caused landslides from Monday (Dec. 12) night through early Tuesday (Dec. 13), according to authorities. The damage affected several parts of the city but was particularly bad in Matadi Mayo, in the Mont-Ngafula district, where a section of Congo’s main national highway, the N1, was swept away.

Once a fishing village on the banks of the Congo river, Kinshasa has grown into one of Africa’s largest megacities with a population of around 15 million. Poorly regulated rapid urbanization has made the city increasingly vulnerable to flash floods after intense rains, which have become more frequent due to climate change. https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/residents-congos-capital-mourn-after-deadly-floods-landslides-2022-12-14/  (14 Dec. 2022)

Iguazú Falls or Iguaçu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. Together, they make up the largest waterfall system in the world. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu. https://www.enchantingtravels.com/travel-blog/iguazu-falls-the-worlds-largest-waterfalls/; https://www.bhaskar.com/news/ENT-KZHK-amazing-mocona-falls-a-3-km-waterfall-that-runs-parallel-to-the-river-4735949-PHO.html

UK Livestock farms in England polluted rivers 300 times last year, causing 20 major incidents, according to the latest government figures. Yet only six farms were prosecuted in 2021, with the Environment Agency giving out warning letters instead. The dairy industry – mostly thanks to the waste its millions of cows produce – is the worst environmental offender, linked to half of all farm pollution. The government said prosecution was a last resort for persistent offenders. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-63961659  (16 Dec. 2022)

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

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

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

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