DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 020123: Looking Back to Look forward to 2023

(Feature Image:-River Ken inside Panna National Park from River Stories, Walking Across India-I by Siddharth Agarwal)

This is the first DRP bulletin of 2023 and we would like to begin on a positive note. But to remain grounded in reality we also need to look back at the events in 2022. We see a number of positives in 2022 and we hope that trend continues. The number of new dams and hydropower projects being started has remained on a declining trend. People and civil society has continued its protests against destructive projects and for more decentralised projects and governance.

Dams, Hydro Projects, River Linking In Feb 21, 2022 DRP Bulletin, unviable hydropower project story from India, US, Bhutan and Nepal was in the headline. In March 28 2022 DRP bulletin the lead story highlighted how large dams are becoming more dangerous in changing climate. Similar story was the lead story in DRP bulltin of April 25, 2022. The DRP Bulletin Lead story on April 4, 2022 highlighted how the tribal unity in South Gujarat forced the government to cancel the destructive Par Tapi Narmada River Link. The Aug 15, 2022 Lead story in DRP Bulletin noted that the Central Water Commission of India for the first time acknowledged that improper operation of dams can lead to avoidable disaster, something that SANDRP has been highlighting for over 15 years. On Oct 3, 2022 the bulletin celebrated the victory of People’s movement in Narmada Valley where the MP Govt had decided to cancel the Maheshwar Dam.

The Nov 30 2022 DRP lead story highlighted that the World Meteorological Organisation’s  Global Water Report has asked for better and shared water data. Similarly the importance of soil for food security was highlighted in DRP lead story on World Soil Day on Dec 5, 2022.

Wetlands, Mangroves, Springsheds On Feb 16, 2022 we published the overview that highlighted the untiring civil society efforts to protect wetlands and mangroves of Maharashtra. The March 23, 2022 article on SANDRP website celebrated the contribution of Hill women in protection and governance of springsheds. SANDRP also highlighted positive stories on World Water Day 2022 and the day of action for rivers 2022. The July 8, 2022 article highlighted how Judiciary has acted for Urban Rivers, but the implementation has been deliberately stalled. On Nov 29, 2022, India Rivers Forum announced that the 2022 Bhagirath Prayas Samman for organisation goes to SCOPE-Kolkata for working to protect the East Kolkata Wetlands which also helps protect the rivers there from pollution.

Disasters While the numbers, frequency, intensity and spread of disasters are increasing, there is also inceasing awareness about the role that destructive project play in multiplying the disasters. There was a concerned campaign against illegal and river destroying sand mining, particularly in North Indian states like Punjab and Haryana. Even the ill thought out waterways projects are seeing increasing protests as we saw at the India Rivers Week event in Nov 2022.

Groundwater In January 10, 2022 DRP bulletin, positive groundwater stories was the lead story. Similarly the May 16 2022 DRP bulletin had the lead story about community efforts at groundwater monitoring.

Celebrating Rivers The April 23, 2022 article celebrated the River songs from USA. The June 15, 2022 article by SANDRP celebrated the Muktadhara Tirthan of Himachal Pradesh, Sept 30 2022 photo story celebrated the gharats of Tirthan and Sept 29, 2022 photo story the people of Tirthan. The Aug 12, 2022 article celebrated 30 years effort at protecting a spring in Pune city. Sept 28, 2022 article celebrated the River Carnival of Bengal. On Nov 29 2022 India Rivers Forum announced that Venkatesh Datta gets the Bhagirath Prayas Samman 2022 for individuals working to protect the Gomati river flowing through Lucknow.

On World Fisheries Day 2022 SANDRP highlighted the need for protection of the Aquatic Biodivesity for fish to prosper.

2023 We hope 2023 sees more of such developments in the interest of people and rivers. As suggested by Justice (Retd) Madan Lokur of Supreme Court of India on Nov 28, 2022 at India Rivers Forum, we need to be vocally more aggressive to make a difference.

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Arunachal Pradesh Indigenous groups flag concerns over Etalin HEP 2016 study  Indigenous communities living downstream of the Dibang Multipurpose Project and proposed Etalin Hydropower Project in Arunachal Pradesh have raised concerns with a 2016 study of the Dibang sub basin in the Brahmaputra Valley, saying it has omitted assessment of impacts on areas immediately downstream of these projects. Communities living downstream of the Etalin project pointed out that the July 2016 study on Dibang Valley Cumulative Impact Assessment and Carrying Capacity study has not assessed the impacts on Lower Dibang Valley district. The study assessed impacts on downstream only from 45 km to 490 km, residents of Lower Dibang Valley district said in a letter to the environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee on December 9. The study “completely excludes the downstream-affected areas within Lower Dibang Valley itself… the modelling starts only at 45 km downstream of the project near the Assam-Arunachal border,” said the letter.

– “It can be concluded that in general the impact of peaking of hydroelectric projects of Dibang basin on Brahmaputra River is almost NIL in terms of discharge and water level fluctuations from Bokaghat up to Guwahati,” the study claimed without providing any substantiation.

– The letter has been sent by Amar Mega of service industry management, Lower Dibang Valley; Bhanu Tatak, researcher of sociology, and others. “It is incredible that the FAC and MoEFCC has accepted the Dibang river basin study despite this glaring omission of absolutely no cumulative downstream impact assessment within Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh,” the letter said. “Just to clarify that the cumulative downstream impacts as per the Dibang basin study need to be addressed in two categories: the cumulative downstream impacts below the lower-most project, as well as cumulative downstream impacts in the stretches between two consecutive hydropower projects.”

– The study should have assessed impacts between the dam and the Assam border and it is not enough to look at peaking flows or environmental flows, said Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). “Dams have huge impacts on people, biodiversity, siltation etc. This is clearly a major lacuna. Also, it is not enough to assess the impact of the Dibang Multipurpose project because there are several other hydro projects upstream and the study should capture cumulative impacts. Areas in the immediate downstream need to be assessed because the river meanders, the slope changes, the floodplain conditions also change which altogether impact the flow, biodiversity. Also, the assessment is a must for all seasons not only for monsoon,” Thakkar said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/arunachal-pradesh-indigenous-groups-flag-concerns-over-hydropower-project-study-101672597876750-amp.html  (02 Jan. 2023)

Himachal Pradesh Villagers affected from leakages of Bajoli Holi HEP tunnel demand administration to address the issue. https://bit.ly/3GrPFIQ  (27 Dec. 2022)

Uttarakhand आपदाओं की तीव्रता बढ़ाती जलविद्युत परियोजनाएं साउथ एशिया नेटवर्क ऑन डैम्स रिवर एंड पीपुल के असोसिएट कोऑर्डनिटेर भीम सिंह रावत कहते हैं “जलविद्युत परियोजनाएँ न केवल हिमालयी क्षेत्रों की आपदाओं की पुनरावृति, तीव्रता, प्रसार और प्रकारों को बढ़ाती हैं, बल्कि जब भी इन क्षेत्रों में आपदा आती है, ये योजनाएं आपदा तबाही को कई गुणा बढ़ाने का काम करती हैं। वर्ष 2013 में हुई केदारनाथ आपदा और 2021 में चमोली आपदा ऐसे कुछ उदाहरण हैं। इन योजनाओं में विश्वसनीय सामाजिक, पर्यावरण प्रभाव आकलनों का अभाव, जमीनी हालात को और भी अधिक बदतर बना देती है”। जलविद्युत परियोजनाओं के चलते होने वाली आपदा से निपटने के लिए हमारे आपदा प्रबंधन तंत्र भरोसे लायक नहीं हैं। भीम आगे कहते हैं “बिना निष्पक्ष वैज्ञानिक मूल्यांकनों के जल विद्युत योजनाओं से होने वाली आपदाओं की समुचित रोकथाम संभव नहीं है। सबसे चिंताजनक पहलू ये है कि इन योजनाओं से सीधे तौर पर प्रभावित होने वाले लोगों से रायशुमारी नहीं की जाती है। आपदाओं के लिए ना तो किसी की जवाबदेही तय की जाती है, ना ही इससे कोई सबक सीखने का प्रयास किया जाता है”। https://hindi.newsclick.in/Uttarakhand-2022-Crisis-increased-due-to-big-dams-many-villages-landed-on-the-roads  (27 Dec. 2022)

Joshimath sinking: Cracks in 46 more houses in a week With cracks appearing within the span of a week in 46 more houses of Joshimath, the “sinking town”, petrified locals have found themselves caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. They now have three options before them: stay in houses with cracks, move to safer locations or return to native villages.Some local residents said they had asked tenants to vacate houses. Some of the affected families have moved to safer locations in Joshimath and some have moved back to native villages.

After intense protests by locals, the state government has ordered a survey on Joshimath. Studies have revealed that the town, which is gateway to Badrinath, Auli and Valley of Flowers, is built on an unstable foundation of “thick landslide cover” which can cave at the smallest disturbance. Numerous constructions, high footfall and erosion by rivers has made the situation worse. Structures in the Ravigram, Manohar Bag and Gandhi Nagar wards, and wards that are close to a hydro power plant and those in Signidhar are the worst hit, with the number of cracks increasing and getting larger. Residents here are worried for their life and losing their livelihood.

“Till last week, a total of 513 had cracks. The number grew to 559 within a week. Around 2,500 families have been adversely affected in the small hill town. Eight families simply left their houses and moved away. A family has moved back to their village in Pipalkoti,” said Shailendra Panwar, chairman of Joshimath Municipal Corporation. Seeing the urgency of the situation, Chamoli district magistrate Himanshu Khurana rushed to Joshimath and inspected the sites and assured “full support” to local residents. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/within-a-week-46-houses-in-uttarakhands-joshimath-develop-cracks/articleshow/96557616.cms  (28 Dec. 2022)

Kerala Power, forest ministers hold discussion on HEPs  Power Minister K Krishnankutty held talks with Forest Minister A K Saseendran to expedite sanction for hydroelectric projects in the wake of rising demand for power in the state and the delay in completion of hydropower projects. The ministerial-level meeting also saw top officials of power and forest departments raising the issue of various hydroelectric and hydel tourism projects. The Idukki extension project which has a total capacity of producing 800 MW power is planned on a 12-hectare forest land which needs clearance. It was in 1980 that the forest land for the current Idukki reservoir was acquired.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/2022/dec/28/hydroelectric-project-power-forest-ministers-hold-discussion-2532364.html  (28 Dec. 2022)

Centre MoU signed for EWS for hydro projects The Power Ministry on Tuesday (Dec. 27) signed a MoU with Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for the implementation of an early warning system for vulnerable hydro projects or power.  The ministry and the DRDO will jointly work towards developing suitable mitigation measures against avalanches, landslides, glaciers, glacial lakes and other geo-hazards, an official release said. The expertise of the DRDO will also be utilized in developing comprehensive Early Warning System for vulnerable hydro projects/ power stations in hilly regions.

– The EWS is an integrated system of hazard monitoring, forecasting and prediction, disaster risk assessment, communication and preparedness for timely action to reduce disaster risks in advance of hazardous events. The ministry has already signed MoUs with CSIR-NGRI, IMD, WIHG and NRSC-ISRO for implementation of EWS. https://www.business-standard.com/article/technology/power-ministry-drdo-signs-mou-for-early-warning-system-for-hydro-projects-122122700557_1.html  (27 Dec. 2022)

CERC has on Dec 28 2022 retained the cap on price of electricity traded at electricity exchanges at Rs 12 per unit until further orders. The move could keep the costly power from imported coal or gas out of the spot energy markets. The order has been in force since April 2022. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/indian-power-regulator-retains-price-cap-at-electricity-exchanges/96583271?  (29 Dec. 2022)

DAMS

Polavaram Project CM request centre for release of Rs. 10K fund CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday (Dec. 28) called on PM Narendra Modi and discussed several state issues and reiterated the release of pending funds for the Polavaram irrigation project.

In the nearly 50 minute-long meeting held at Modi’s residence at Lok Kalyan Marg here, Reddy underlined that his state has already spent about Rs 2,900 crore on the Polavaram project so far which the central government has not yet reimbursed. He said his government is facing resource crunch and requested the Centre to provide Rs 10,000 crore fund on an ad hoc basis for early completion of the project, official sources said. The CM also sought early approval of the revised cost estimate of the Polavaram project pegged at Rs 55,548.87 crore.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/andhra-pradesh-cm-jagan-reddy-meets-modi-discusses-polavaram-project-state-issues/articleshow/96567161.cms  (28 Dec. 2022)

Supreme Court sends notice to Centre and states regarding environment clearance to the Polavaram project. https://thewirehindi.com/236031/sc-notice-to-union-govt-on-plea-alleging-violations-in-environmental-clearance-to-polavaram-project/  (30 Dec, 2022)

Madhya Pradesh Agitation against Basania dam in Mandla and surrounding districts in Narmada Valley.

बसनिया बांध को निरस्त कराने के लिए ग्रामीण अब पेसा एक्ट को हाथियार के रूप में उपयोग करेंगे। बसनिया बांध से प्रभावित होने वाले दर्जनों ग्राम पंचायत के लोगों ने ग्राम सभा में बसनिया बांध को निरस्त कराने पेसा एक्ट के तहत प्रस्ताव पारित किया है। मंगलवार को प्रस्ताव के साथ ग्रामीणों ने मुख्यमंत्री के नाम कलेक्टर को ज्ञापन सौंपा। इसके पूर्व बांध विरोधी संघर्ष समिति के तत्वावधान में पूरे शहर में रैली निकाली गई। जिसमें जनप्रतिनिधि भी शामिल रहे।

ज्ञापन में कहा गया है कि इस बांध से मात्र 8 हजार 780 हेक्टेयर में सिंचाई होगी, जबकि 6 हजार 343 हेक्टेयर भूमि डूब में आएगी। क्या काश्तकारों की 2 हजार 443 हेक्टेयर कृषि, एक हजार 793 शासकीय और 2 हजार 107 हेक्टेयर वन भूमि को डूबा कर 100 मेगावाट बिजली उत्पादन उचित है। जबकि ये जंगल जैव विविधता से परिपूर्ण है। इस बांध से मंडला के 18 व डिंडोरी जिले के 13 आदिवासी बहुल्य गांव के 27 सौ 35 परिवार विस्थापित होंगे। ज्ञापन में शंका जाहिर की गई है कि डूब क्षेत्र की गणना अभी तक टोपोशीट से ही हुआ है। जब प्रत्यक्ष गांव-गांव जाकर जमीनी सर्वे होगा तो विस्थापित होने वाले गांव और डूब जमीन के रकबा में बढ़ोतरी होगी। जिसका बड़ा उदाहरण बरगी बांध है।

दूसरा सबसे महत्वपूर्ण बात यह है कि मंडला जिला संविधान की पांचवी अनुसूचि आदिवासी क्षेत्र के लिए विशेष व्यवस्था के तहत वर्गीकृत है, जहां पेसा अधिनियम प्रभावशील है। इस परियोजना के सबंध में प्रभावित ग्राम सभा को किसी भी तरह की जानकारी नर्मदा घाटी विकास विभाग द्वारा नहीं दी गई है। यह आदिवासियों को पेसा नियम के तहत प्राप्त संवैधानिक अधिकारों का हनन है। बांध निर्माण के लिए मुम्बई की कंपनी को ठेका दिए जाने की सूचना स्थानीय समाचार पत्रों से ज्ञात हुआ है। पांचवी अनुसूचि और पेसा अधिनियम के तहत प्राप्त अधिकार के दायरे में हमारी ग्राम सभा बांध बनाए जाने की स्वीकृति प्रदान नहीं करती है। https://www.patrika.com/mandla-news/villagers-take-out-rally-demanding-cancellation-of-dam-7944957/  (27 Dec. 2022)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z51z4imCPhM  (28 Dec. 2022)

मंडला जिले की घुघरी तहसील अंतर्गत ग्राम पंचायत बढझर के ग्राम ओढारी में नर्मदा नदी पर बसनिया बांध प्रस्तावित है। बांध की वजह से मंडला और डिंडौरी जिले के लगभग 31 गांव डूब में आएंगे, इस वजह से होने वाले विस्थापन का ग्रामीण विरोध कर रहे हैं। ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि प्रस्तावित बांध से काश्तकारों की निजी भूमि 2443 हेक्टेयर, वन भूमि 2107 हेक्टेयर और शासकीय भूमि 1793 हेक्टेयर यानी कुल 6343 हेक्टेयर जमीन डूब में आएगी। बांध की वजह से मंडला के 18 और डिंडोरी जिले के 13 सहित कुल 31 आदिवासी बाहुल्य गांव के 2735 परिवार विस्थापित होंगे। जिनकी आजीविका का एकमात्र साधन खेती है।

ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि इस बांध से मात्र 8780 हेक्टेयर में सिंचाई करने के लिए जैव विविधता से परिपूर्ण जंगल सहित 6343 हेक्टेयर जमीन डूब जाएगी। सिर्फ 100 मेगावाट बिजली उत्पादन के लिए 31 गांव के 2735 परिवार विस्थापन उचित नहीं है। उनका कहना है कि जब बांध का जमीनी सर्वे होगा तो विस्थापित होने वाले गांव और डूब जमीन के रकबा में और भी बढ़ोतरी होगी।

ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि 3 मार्च 2016 को विधानसभा में एक सवाल के जवाब में सरकार ने बसनिया बांध सहित प्रदेश के सात बांधों को नए भू-अर्जन अधिनियम से लागत में वृद्धि होने, अधिक डूब क्षेत्र होने डूब क्षेत्र में वन भूमि आने से असाध्य होने के कारण निरस्त किए जाने की जानकारी दी थी। उसके बावजूद प्रस्तावित बसनिया बांध का नर्मदा घाटी विकास विभाग और एफफोन्स कम्पनी मुंबई के बीच 24 नवम्बर को अनुबंध संपादित होने की जानकारी प्राप्त हुई है।  https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/mandla/news/rally-taken-out-against-the-construction-of-basania-dam-demand-for-cancellation-of-the-dam-130730227.html  (27 Dec. 2022) बांध के निर्माण में नर्मदा विकास प्राधिकरण से 2884 करोड़ के लगभग स्वीकृति मिली है, लेकिन निर्माण से पहले ही इसका विरोध शुरू हो गया है. जिला मुख्यालय पर बुधवार (Dec. 28) को बड़ी तादाद में लोग एकत्रित होकर सड़क पर उतर आए. भीड़ को काबू करने के लिए भारी पुलिस बल भी सड़क पर उतरा. प्रदर्शनकारियों ने मंडला कलेक्टर के माध्यम से मुख्यमंत्री शिवराज सिंह चौहान के नाम पर ज्ञापन सौंपकर इस बांध निर्माण को निरस्त करने की मांग उठाई है. https://hindi.news18.com/news/madhya-pradesh/mandla-people-protest-against-basania-narmada-dam-construction-but-why-is-congress-behind-movement-5129421.html  (29 Dec. 2022)

Book Review The Struggle for Narmada An oral history of the Narmada Bachao Andolan told through the lives of displaced adivasis Ajay Saini:- The NBA activists relentlessly battled the state repression with satyagraha. The Andolan laid bare the inadequacies of the project’s resettlement and rehabilitation policy. The World Bank withdrew its support from the project, and the government upped its game. Thousands of families received rehabilitation that would be denied to them had the Andolan not happened. As the dam’s height increased, scores of villages submerged one after another. The hapless adivasis had no choice but to relocate en masse.

Interestingly, when Narmada came to drown Kevalsingh’s house, he offered the river a coconut and worshipped her. “You lost your house! Weren’t you angry?” asked Oza. “How could we be angry? Ultimately, was it Narmada’s fault?… It was human powers that had forced her to act this way,” replied Kevalsingh. “I have the same feeling towards her as I do for my mother.” The adivasis did not protest against the dam to merely seek a better rehabilitation plan. The decades-long Andolan, for them, was a higher calling — to save their “mother”, Narmada. https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/nandini-oza-book-struggle-river-narmada-environment-politics/article66306750.ece  (30 Dec. 2022)

Celebrating K P Sasi: A Chronicler Of Our Troubled Times BIC celebrates his life by showcasing his feature film and documentaries. The screenings will be accompanied by discussions and conversations with Sasi’s colleagues, contemporaries and friends. https://esgindia.org/new/events/celebrating-k-p-sasi-a-chronicler-of-our-troubled-times/  (28 Dec. 2022)

Maharashtra CAG spots lapses in implementation of six surface irrigation projects The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its report on outcomes in surface irrigation for the year 2022 has identified major lapses in the implementation and completion of Andhali, Pimpalgaon (Dhale), Purna, Haranghat, Sondyatola and Wagholibuti irrigation projects. CAG has observed that in one of these six projects, clearance required from the Central Water Commission regarding water availability and interstate aspects were obtained by the Water Resources Department. None of the projects were completed in time and multiple revisions in administrative approvals kept the projects in construction phase for a long time. There was a significant increase in the cost of all the projects due to change in schedule of rates, increase in cost of land, change in design and scope of the works.

CAG in its report, which was tabled by the Deputy CM Mr Devendra Fadnavis in the state assembly, said that the target of creation of the irrigation potential (IP) could not be achieved in any of the six projects and gap between the projected creation and actual creation of the IP ranged from 3.20% to 43.56%. Further, the utilisation of the IP actually created was also inadequate ranging from zero per cent to 85.94% during the period 2014-15 to 2020-21.  In all the six projects, there was considerable shortfall in irrigation of the targeted area of land in all the three seasons. “Cultivation in the command area of these projects was not up to its full potential during all the seasons as provided in their respective Detailed Project Reports (DPR),’’ it added.

According to CAG, there were gaps in the value of agriculture produce as estimated and actually realised. Crop production could not be increased for want of irrigation as planned in the DPRs. No water was provided through the canal system during the period to all surveyed 66 farmers of 12 villages of Andhali, Pimpalgaon (Dhale) and Wagholibuti project. In respect of the Haranghat and Sondyattola project, water through the canal was provided during Kharif season only to the 53 farmers of 16 villages surveyed. In addition, non formation/non functioning of Water Users’ Associations defeated the objective of participatory irrigation management by the farmers. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/maharashtra-cag-spots-lapses-in-implementation-of-six-surface-irrigation-projects  (30 Dec. 2022)

Karnataka Legal experts to to visit Alamatti, Narayanpur dams A team of legal experts and officers will visit Lal Bahadur Shastri Dam, Alamatti, and Basava Sagar Dam, Narayanpur, on December 23 and 24 respectively to collect crucial details to present the state’s case effectively in the Supreme Court in the petition pertaining to Upper Krishna Project. The team will collect details regarding legal hurdles to increase the height of Lal Bahaddur Shastri dam from 519.60 metres to 524.256 metres, its present status and condition of crest gates. Works are in full swing after the verdict of Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II. Land acquisition process is underway, while a network of canals is being expanded. About 500 tmcft water flows to Andhra Pradesh annually. The neighbouring state utilises about 200 tmcft water, while letting about 300 tmcft remaining to the sea.

Farmers in the region want the government to get an interim order from the Supreme Court to install the crest gates that have been cut so that water released annually to the sea is utilised for the UKP-3 till the final verdict. “Two important challenges the state faces include handling legal battles regarding increasing the height of the dam and ensuring a gazette notification from the centre for the implementation of the verdict of Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II. “The team members should consider these two,” urged Krishna Valley Farmers’ Welfare Protection committee president Basvaraj Kumbar.  https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/legal-experts-to-to-visit-alamatti-narayanpur-dams-1173283.html  (29 Dec. 2022)

Kerala Peechi dam wrongly marked in buffer zone map: Locals The buffer zone map of the Forest department has wrongly marked Peechi dam and its reservoir in another panchayat. The Peechi dam and almost 90% of its reservoir are in Pananchery panchayat. Both have been placed under the Puthur panchayat in the map. Local people have alerted the authorities about the mistake. Not only the dam and reservoir, the map has placed some other parts of the Pananchery panchayat also under Puthur panchayat, they alleged. The Kuthiran twin tunnels and Pattikkad, among the main centres in the Pananchery panchayat, are placed under Puthur. Though the forest department claims that the human inhabited areas have been excluded from the map, hundreds of houses and business establishments still figure on the map, the local people alleged. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/peechi-dam-wrongly-marked-in-buffer-zone-map-say-local-people/article66324555.ece   (31 Dec. 2022)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

How Realistic Is CBD COP15 Target Of 30:30? Manoj Misra Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve lost all its tigers to poaching in 2009. After a very elaborate and painstaking effort over almost a decade, a tiger restoration project was successfully accomplished there. Park’s unique geology in form of sehas (deep gorges) opening into the river Ken (its lifeline) which provided secure natal sites to tigers was central to the revival of tiger population there. Now an Rs 44000 crore dam and canal project in the name of linking river Ken with nearby river Betwa has been approved. This shall drown many such sehas in the Park’s core zone and bifurcate the park for all practical purposes. Experts are unanimous in that the said project shall irreversibly impact adversely the park’s biodiversity values.

This is not meant to critique the two projects on merit/demerits but to highlight the fact that perhaps the people who dreamt the GBF 30:30 target were not fully knowledgeable about the facts on the ground. When a country like India with lot going for it in terms of its laws, protected area status and managerial capacity and capabilities has not been able to avoid ‘eyeing’ its existing biodiverse rich protected areas for developmental purposes then how could countries in the developing north and south with economies in transition can be expected to increase manifold in just next 8 years their protection and effective management of lands, inland waters, coasts and oceans, over and above what is already existing, if any at all?  https://thedialogue.co.in/article/uFFT6b6RYH7Qgwnbxwz0/how-realistic-is-cbd-cop15-target-of-3030-  (27 Dec. 2022)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Mahadayi Water Dispute CWC decision in Karnataka’s favour opens up dam of controversies in Goa A political storm has erupted in Goa, another BJP state, after Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai announced that the Centre has cleared the disputed Kalasa-Bhanduri dam project on the Mhadei river. The BJP government in Goa has decided to hold an urgent cabinet meeting on Monday (Jan. 02) and also meet senior leaders in Delhi seeking their intervention to withdraw the approval granted by the Central Water Commission to Karnataka.

Environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar has said, “The Goa government should put the facts properly before the central government. Though Karnataka has got approval from the CWC, it needs a NOC from the Environment Department and the National Board of Wildlife to go ahead with the project. The Goa government should see how they can be stopped from diverting water,” Kerkar said.

Union Minister of State for Tourism and Ports Shripad Naik on Saturday (Dec. 31) said he has no problem tendering his resignation if the Centre fails to withdraw the approval granted to Karnataka’s ‘Detailed Project Report’ for the Kalasa-Bhanduri Nala projects.Naik is the first elected representative from the ruling side to speak about ‘resignation’, after Goa’s Leader of Opposition Yuri Alemao appealed to all to resign to send a strong message to the central government.

Meanwhile, demanding Sawant’s resignation over the issue, Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai alleged that the former compromised with Mhadei to save his chair. “The Goa CM was present at a high-level meeting in Delhi, which was attended by BJP’s senior leader C.T. Ravi, and the Karnataka CM. He was clearly told that the Central government is approving the DPR of the Karnataka government with regard to the Kalasa-Bhanduri Nala project. This means the lifeline of Goa is gone.”

Responding to allegations by the opposition, Goa’s Water Resources Minister Subhash Shirodkar said that the CWC has taken the decision without taking the state government into confidence. “We will meet the Union Minister concerned in Delhi and will also try to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over this issue. He should intervene and withdraw the approval given to the DPR, else Goa will suffer in the long term. Our wildlife sanctuaries will also suffer if water is diverted from Mhadei. This should not happen. People of Goa feel that this decision is not as per rules and law,” Shirodkar said. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1035329  (01 Jan. 2023)

Goa CM Pramod Sawant said on Friday (Dec. 30) that the state government would request PM Narendra Modi to rescind the approval granted to Karnataka for plans to divert the River Mhadei and instead hear Goa’s objections to the diversion. Speaking to reporters, the chief minister also said he would write to the Union environment ministry not to process the environmental clearances necessary for the project. “We will request the PM to recall the Centre’s approval granted to Karnataka’s DPR. Similarly, we will request the Union Minister of Jal Shakti to take back the approval as soon as possible,” Sawant said.

The approval was granted by the CWC based on a project drawn up by the Karnataka water resources department that sought to divert “3.9 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of water — 2.18 tmc from Banduri and 1.72 tmc from Kalasa rivers (two tributaries of the Mhadei) — allegedly for drinking water purposes of the twin towns of Hubli and Dharwad. “The approval is a conditional approval for which there are three conditions and is subject to permissions from the environment ministry, the award by the tribunal and other approvals. It is not a blanket approval. The ministry of environment and forests should not give permissions for the project based on the present DPR,” Sawant said.

Sawant also reiterated his demand that the Union government constitute the Mhadei Authority, a body consisting of members of the three river-sharing states — Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa — to oversee the execution of the tribunal’s award. The Mahadayi Interstate Water Disputes Tribunal, in a verdict in August 2018, granted Karnataka a total of 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water out of their demand from their total claims of 36.558 TMC of water. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/bengaluru-news/mhadei-project-goa-cm-calls-for-revoking-k-taka-permit-101672426273420.html  (31 Dec. 2022)

The Goa government has come under fire for several years now from the Opposition and civil society groups for mishandling the Mahadayi (also called Mhadei or Mandovi in Goa) issue, with the Opposition accusing the ruling BJP of compromising with the Opposition accusing the ruling BJP of compromising with the BJP-led Karnataka government. Apart from an SLP challenging the contents of the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal’s award, the Goa government has also filed two other contempt petitions against Karnataka for illegally diverting water from the Mahadayi river basin. The state government has also formed a special cell to oversee affairs related to the river dispute. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/west/union-mos-shripad-naik-warns-of-resignation-over-mahadayi-issue-says-centres-decision-one-sided-1176816.html  (31 Dec. 2022)

Opposition showing its mindset by finding fault with Kalasa-Banduri project: CM Bommai. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-politics/opposition-showing-its-mindset-by-finding-fault-with-kalasa-banduri-project-cm-bommai-1176947.html  (01 Jan. 2023)

IRRIGATION

Telangana 2022, a year of setbacks for irrigation sector Telangana’s disappointments in water sector in 2022: However, the hopes of Telangana on getting the matter of Krishna river water share referred to a tribunal remain a mirage even 15 months after withdrawal of its petition in the Supreme Court and 27 months after the word given by the Centre.

– “As if it is not enough the Centre has stopped Kaleshwaram additional one-tmc ft works on the grounds that they need fresh approval and also raised some issues pertaining to the clearances given to the Kaleshwaram, lifting of 2 tmc ft water a day, project works”, a senior official said adding that the Centre was also delaying the process of given clearances to other projects such as Sita Rama.

– The delay in clearances to projects such as Palamuru-Rangareddy, Dindi and Sita Rama is dragging on the progress of their works delaying their completion. Restrictions imposed by the Centre on State’s borrowings has also scuttled the pace of progress of ongoing project works. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/2022-a-year-of-setbacks-for-irrigation-sector-in-state/article66306480.ece  (26 Dec. 2022)

Punjab Rs 700-cr canal water charges yet to be recovered Not only farmers, the water user charges have also not been recovered from private firms, and companies using the canal water. An annual review of the Water Resources (Irrigation) wing of the PWD by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has revealed that while Rs 675.37 crore was recoverable from farmers, another Rs 40.48 crore was recoverable from private firms and companies.

In 2014, the state government had approved water cess at a rate of Rs 50 per acre per crop, instead of ‘abiana’ (charges) from farmers at a rate of Rs 150 per acre per crop by amending the Indian Canal & Drainage Act, 1873. Earlier, the farmers were paying Rs 75 for each crop and Rs 150 for two crop seasons in a year for using water for irrigation. The decision was taken for maintenance and cleaning of minors and distributaries which will ensure that proper flow of water reaches farming fields. It is expected to mobilise a sum of Rs 200 crore per annum for this purpose. Punjab’s huge canal network is regularly in need of repairs.

The Revenue Department had been engaged in collecting the ‘abiana’ for decades, before it was abolished in 2014. It was also decided to set up water users committees at the XEN-level. This committee under the respective XEN is meant to collect and deposit the funds in account of societies. The funds are to be used for cleaning minors and distributaries in the jurisdiction of respective committees.

The CAG has conducted audit of 27 PWD irrigation units. Canal division, Bathinda, has the highest recoverable amount of Rs 44 crore, followed by Abohar Canal division with amount of Rs 43 crore. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/700-crore-canal-water-charges-yet-to-be-recovered-from-users-465670  (30 Dec. 2022)

Study Localised impacts of irrigation on economic development  The paper ‘Irrigation and the spatial pattern of local economic development in India’ in the Journal of Development Economics studies the effects of long-term agricultural productivity shocks on local economic development in India. Access to irrigation is considered to be key to agricultural development, and the establishment of irrigation infrastructure has long been one of the leading forms of public investment in the sector in much of the developing world, and particularly so in India.  https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/localised-impacts-irrigation-economic-development  (01 Jan. 2023)

URBAN RIVERS

Mula-Mutha; Pune Activists ask PMC to approach state before starting RFD work Civic activists Sarang Yadwadkar and Pushkar Kulkarni have raised some important points in the NGT order, which directed that the PMC should approach the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) for amendment of the environmental clearance (EC), both in terms of the project scope and additional environmental clearance conditions to be stipulated, and starts the project work after that.

Yadwadkar and Kulkarni pointed out some points from the order, which directed the PMC to take precautions before starting the work on the plan. They said, “The NGT has clearly asked to amend SEIAA and EC before starting the project. That means the PMC should stop the ongoing work till they complete the process of amendment to SEIAA and EC.” “The PMC will start work only after fulfilling the conditions mentioned by the NGT, they added. https://punemirror.com/pune/civic/Activists-ask-PMC-to-approach-state-before-starting-work-on/cid9332101.html    (01 Dec. 2022)

Garbage, construction near Ramnadi lead to pollution The Ramnadi has shrunk due to littered waste, but the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is working to build a STP and drainage pipe to restore the waterway. Families living near the river have complained that the reservoir has been ‘dead’ for more than a decade due to slum-dwellers contamination indifference. Due to the river’s proximity to the NH4 Mumbai-Bangalore highway, the area is frequently subject to illegal dumping. Neither the PMC nor the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) takes responsibility for it.

Regardless of ongoing initiatives, some citizens are sceptical of progress. “For many years, a handful of people living in the area have been trying to rejuvenate the river by doing campaigns every six months, doing clean-ups, and revising the natural springs that come out of the Bavdhan-Ramnadi river,” a resident in Bavdhan who wished to remain anonymous told HT. “However, the work declared by the government is never seen on the ground. We also do not receive the expected support from the PMC or the gram panchayat.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/garbage-construction-near-ramnadi-lead-to-pollution-101672077928062.html  (26 Dec. 2022)

Tripura Rs 86.34 cr ‘Haora RFD Project’ The foundation stone laying ceremony of the Haora River Front Development Project worth of Rs 86.34 crore, has been carried out under the Agartala Smart City Limited (ASCL). This project is initiated under the City Investments to Innovate Integrate and Sustain (CITIIS), and joint programme of French Development Agency (AFD), European Union (EU), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), etc.

The Rs 86.34 crore project will cover a length of 2 KMs from Dashami Ghat to Steel Bridge. ASCL designed project was sanctioned in 2019. The ground implementation work has already begun. Around 1 MLD untreated sewages is falling in river. There are three components under this project and they are – Rs. 84.39 crore for improvement of Haora River Bank, bed protection, construction of Pedestrian Bridges, Roads and Architectural Works; Rs 1.53 crore for construction of In-Situ Nalla Water Treatment Plants; and Rs 42 lakh for development of Horticulture Project through organic farming. https://www.northeasttoday.in/2022/12/08/tripura-cm-lays-foundation-stone-of-haora-river-front-development-project-worth-of-rs-86-34-crores/  (08 Dec. 2022)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Policy Intervention To Reduce Phosphates in Detergents Guest Article by: Manu Bhatnagar The Govt. of India can press BIS to fast forward notifying IS 8180 and revising the proposed limit of 5% to a lower figure, say 1%. [The IS 8180 has been now notified with 5% in detergent soaps and 2.5% in powders, but these are for getting the BIS mark, not mandatory.] The compliance time period may be a short 12 months. Alternately, State Govt.s, particularly Ganga Basin states, can make such a notification.

The BIS standard is not a statutory one so making the standard mandatory will have to be examined. Therefore, GoI can examine imposing highest level of GST on non-complying products over a transition period, thereafter discouraging the sale of the violating product altogether. https://sandrp.in/2023/01/01/a-beginning-of-the-pipe-solution-policy-intervention-to-reduce-phosphates-in-detergents/  (01 Jan. 2023)

Jammu & Kashmir Garbage Gridlock Kangan town in Ganderbal district is facing a difficult situation in terms of proper dumping and disposal of garbage amid unavailability of a proper site, forcing the authorities to dump garbage in the open. Locals said that garbage dumping has been a major problem in Kangan since decades while the concerned authorities have failed to find a solution to this never-ending problem.

They said that on a daily basis, sweepers collect garbage from the nearby localities and markets but dump it in the open near the Kichpara Environment Park, which is also located in close proximity with the nallah Sindh. Many visitors complained that dumping garbage near an environment park was giving a bad impression. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/trash-talk-garbage-gridlock-in-kangan  (28 Dec. 2022)

Punjab Sarsa river dying The Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial complex, one of India’s largest manufacturing hubs, is located near the Sarsa and has made its water completely unfit for human consumption.

Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People told DTE that both the State as well as religious leaders had failed as far as river clean-up in India was concerned. “Religion has a role to play. Religious leaders can create awareness among people to stop polluting rivers. But this is not happening in the case of either the Ganga or any other river in India. This includes the Shipra in Ujjain or the Godavari in Nashik that are considered holy due to their association with the Kumbh Mela. That does not mean the state does not have a role. But the statutory role in this regard has also been a failure,” he said. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/sarsa-rivulet-associated-with-pivotal-moment-in-guru-gobind-singh-s-life-is-dying-86834  (29 Dec. 2022)

CPCB River pollution: Number of worst polluted stretches unchanged The number of polluted stretches in India’s rivers has fallen from 351 in 2018 to 311 in 2022 though the number of most polluted stretches is practically unchanged, according to a report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November but made public this week. 

The CPCB network monitors water quality at 4,484 locations in 28 States and seven Union Territories including rivers, lakes, creeks, drains and canals. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/fewer-polluted-river-stretches-but-worst-stretches-unchanged/article66304409.ece  (25 Dec. 2022)

NMCG Rejuvenation of small rivers under NREGS highlight of PM meet The centre will showcase its initiative of rejuvenating around 75 small rivers, mainly in UP, over the past four years using funds under the national rural job guarantee scheme during the second meeting of the National Ganga Council, which will be held under the chairmanship of PM Narendra Modi in Kolkata Friday (Dec. 31), The Indian Express has learnt. It will be the first meeting since 2019 of the Council, which is the apex authority responsible for cleaning the river and includes the CMs of UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and W Bengal as members. The Council also includes several Union ministers, including the Finance Minister, Rural Development Minister and Power Minister.

Sources said the meeting’s agenda, prepared by the NMCG which implements the Government’s Namami Gange programme, has been circulated to the Union ministries and the five states involved. The NMCG has proposed making urban river management plans (URMPs) and river sensitive master planning mandatory for river cities as one of the agenda items for the meeting, sources said. Pointing out that the country has 53 metropolitan cities, of which 42 are river cities, sources said state governments have to “integrate river sensitive thinking” in existing and upcoming master plans of cities located along rivers. The states and the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs will have to ensure the preparation of URMPs for all metropolitan river cities, sources said, adding that the idea of river cities was discussed in the last meeting held three years ago in Kanpur.

Highlighting work done for the rejuvenation of small rivers in UP, the agenda for Friday’s (Dec. 31) meeting states: “Two small rivers in each district have been identified to implement these measures. This item has also been included as priority under MGNREGA… So far work on 75 rivers along 3,149 Kms (cumulative) in 71 districts have been taken up with a cost of Rs. 139.55 Cr under MGNREGA.” Some of the key small rivers that are being rejuvenated include Gomti, Sai, Mandakini and Varuna in UP, according to the meeting’s agenda. Work on six rivers was undertaken in the state under MGNREGA during 2018-19, 19 in 2019-20, six in 2020-21 and 14 in 2021-22. Work on the Gomti river was taken up across four districts in UP — Pilibhit, Sitapur, Lucknow and Shahjahanpur — during the last four financial years (2018-19 to 2022-23).

The Council will also take stock of various projects, including Project Dolphin, being implemented under the Namami Gange programme. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/rejuvenation-of-small-rivers-under-nregs-highlight-of-pm-meet-8351472/  (30 Dec. 2022)

Govt spent Rs 13,000 cr on cleaning Ganga since 2014 The council met after three years and was chaired by PM Narendra Modi through video conference. As per details available, the Center has released a total of Rs 13,709.72 crore to NMCG from the financial year 2014-15 till October 31, 2022. Most of that amount, Rs 13,046.81 crore, was spent by the NMCG. Of this, Rs 4,205.41 crore was released to Uttar Pradesh, the highest among states.

Uttar Pradesh is followed by Bihar (Rs 3,516.63 crore), West Bengal (Rs 1,320.39 crore), Delhi (Rs 1,253.86 crore) and Uttarakhand (Rs 1,117.34 crore). Other states that have received funds under the Namami Gange program are Jharkhand (Rs 250 crore), Haryana (Rs 89.61 crore), Rajasthan (Rs 71.25 crore), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 3.75 crore) and Madhya Pradesh (Rs 9.89 crore). The government had launched Namami Gange in 2014-15 for a period up to March 31, 2021, to rejuvenate the Ganga and its tributaries. The program was later extended for another 5 years till 31 March 2026. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/govt-spent-rs-13000-cr-on-cleaning-ganga-since-2014-up-got-highest-outlay-among-states-8353140/  (31 Dec. 2022)

Some searching questions about the state of Ganga, contrary to Modi promise of cleaning Ganga by 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQCe6hTWC5E (31 Dec. 2022)

Rs 2,700-cr projects approved for sewerage infrastructure Projects worth about Rs 2,700 for the development of sewerage infrastructure in Ganga basin have been approved at 46th meeting of the Executive Committee of the NMCG held under the chairmanship of DG G Asok Kumar on Friday (Dec. 23).

Out of the approved projects, 12 pertain to the development of sewerage infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal worth more than Rs. 2700 crore, a Ministry of Jal Shakti release said. Afforestation programmes for 2022-23 for Uttarakhand and Bihar were also approved at an estimated cost of Rs 42.80, the release said. In West Bengal, a big project for the Rejuvenation of River Adi Ganga in Kolkata was approved at an estimated cost of Rs. 653.67 crore that includes construction of 3 STPs of 10 MLD, 11.60 MLD and 3.5 MLD capacities.

In Uttar Pradesh, 3 projects were approved, out of which one project pertains to the development of sewerage infrastructure in Prayagraj costing Rs 475.19 crore. The Prayagraj project envisages the construction of 90 MLD STP along with 20 KLD faecal sludge co-treatment facility and effluent station of 90 MLD and interception and diversion works. 2 other projects approved in Uttar Pradesh include the construction of a 50 MLD STP and I&D works at an estimated cost of Rs. 264.67 crore at Loniapurva, Lucknow for River Gomti and works including 24 MLD STP, I&D works at Hathras town for Sengar and Karwan rivers costing Rs 128.91 crore.

In Bihar, one project each for Daudnagar and Motihari towns have been approved at an estimated cost of Rs. 42.25 and 149.15 crore respectively. For Daudnagar, construction of a 10.50 MLD STP along with I&D works and for Motihari, 4 STPs of 4.6, 6.3, 5.8, 6.3 MLD capacities and I&D works etc. is envisaged. 4 projects of cost enhancement were also approved. A major project for pollution abatement in Damodar river approved in Jharkhand includes the construction of 5 STPs of total 192 MLD capacity (18+21+75+60+18), interception and diversion and other works at an estimated cost of Rs. 808.33 crore in Dhanbad town.

Another project titled ‘Scientific exploration of floral diversity near the Ganga river banks for ethnobotanical purposes along with their conservation and economic development of the region via skill development programmes’ was approved in all five states. The project will be implemented in collaboration with Patanjali Research Institute (PRI) and Patanjali Organic Research Institute (PORI), Haridwar, Uttarakhand, and has three components. https://theprint.in/economy/rs-2700-crore-projects-approved-for-sewerage-infrastructure-in-ganga-basin/1285048/ (27 Dec. 2022)

West Bengal CM flags erosion in Ganga Council meeting Mamata Banerjee on December 31 brought to the notice of PM Narendra Modi the issue of river bank erosion and how it impacts the lives of thousands of people at the National Ganga Council meeting in Kolkata, according to officials. “Vast stretches of Malda and Murshidabad districts of the State were affected by erosion of the river bank,” she said and sought the Centre’s help in checking the disaster. “In every deltaic tract, riverbank erosion occurs frequently. West Bengal is not an expectation to this phenomenon,” officials quoted the CM as saying at the closed-door meeting.

“The Ganga has caused significant erosion in the entire Dhulian region in Murshidabad district for many years,” she said adding that the erosion has intensified since the construction of Farakka Barrage. “The people living along the bank of the Ganga in Dhulian are also suffering from erosion-induced problems from past decades,” Ms. Banerjee said. She sought the help of the Central government in checking erosion. “The Farakka Barrage’s downstream part still has a problem with erosion and population displacement. As a measure to manage flooding and river bank erosion, it is advised to establish a Flood Control Commission,” she said.

The CM said that dredging, deforestation, civil construction and several other human activities are the foremost causes of loosening of the topsoil and increase in the discharge of debris that flows through the rivers. “This increases the height of riverbeds and reduces the water retaining capacity of rivers,” she said, urging the Centre to help tackle the issue.

Besides Ms. Banerjee, UPCM Yogi Adityanath, his counterparts in Uttarakhand and Jharkhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami and Hemant Soren respectively, were present at the meeting. Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav was also there. None of the participants talked to the media. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mamata-banerjee-flags-erosion-in-ganga-council-meeting/article66323547.ece  (31 Dec. 2022)

Uttarakhand Microplastics in Dehradun rivers This research estimates a load of microplastic in water and sediments of disappearing tributaries (Suswa, Rispana and Bindal) of the River Ganga at Dehradun. The water and sediment samples were collected from 22 locations and analyzed for microplastic occurrence, characterizations, physicochemical parameters as well. The average microplastic load was found to be in the ranges of 7200–16,400 items/kg in sediments and 2800–4200 items/L in water in the studied sites. The highest microplastic load occurred in Suswa followed by, Rispana and Bindal. ATR-FTIR analysis revealed polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) as the dominant polymer groups of microplastic in the studied sites.

Fibers/ threads (41%) were the dominant shapes found in water samples while fragments (38%) were in the case of sediment. White and black colour microplastic occurred in the highest amount in both water and sediments. Principle component analysis suggested the mixing of urban runoff and sewage as the major contributors of microplastic s in studied tributaries. In summary, illegal dumping of urban solid waste in river catchment areas, human encroachment near the river sides, direct disposal of sewage and industrial effluents, etc. could be a major source of microplastics in such urban rivers. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/microplastics-tributaries-upper-ganga-river  (01 Jan. 2023)

YAMUNA Haryana Plan to control pollution from 11 drains ready The govt has prepared an action plan to control pollution in all the 11 major drains that discharge treated or untreated effluent into the Yamuna river, the state assembly was informed here on Wednesday. Transport Minister Mool Chand Sharma said this in response to a calling attention motion regarding polluted water in Agra and Gurugram canals.

Sharma informed the House that the government has constituted a committee in this regard. The MLAs of Gurugram, Mewat, Faridabad and Palwal districts were made its members and member secretary, SPCB, as Member Convener, the house was informed. Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, and Principal Secretary, Irrigation, have also been nominated as members. Five meetings of this committee have been held, he said. The minister said it is being regularly reviewed at the level of CM Manohar Lal Khattar and the chief secretary. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/plan-prepared-to-control-pollution-from-11-drains-in-yamuna-haryana-min-122122801314_1.html  (29 Dec. 2022)

Delhi नजफगढ़ ड्रेन बनेगी परिवहन का नया मार्ग  यातायात जाम और वायु प्रदूषण से जूझती दिल्ली में नजफगढ़ ड्रेन परिवहन का नया रास्ता होगी। गंदगी व दुर्गंध का पर्याय मानी जाने वाली इस ड्रेन में नाव चलेंगी। इन नावों में सामान भी ढोया जाएगा और सवारियां भी सफर करेंगी। किराया कितना होगा, यह अभी तय किया जाना है। इस ड्रेन में नाव चलने की शुरुआत 26 जनवरी से होगी। पहले चरण में नावें तिमारपुर से भारत नगर तक करीब 12 किमी के क्षेत्र में चलेंगी। शुरुआत में इन नावों में केवल सामान ढोया जाएगा। सवारी सेवा शुरू होने में थोड़ा समय लगेगा। सामान में दैनिक जरूरतों की सभी चीजें- कपड़े, दवाइयां, किरयाने की वस्तुएं, फल सब्जियां सभी कुछ शामिल रहेगा। सामान को चढ़ाने और उतारने के लिए माल रोड, मुखर्जी नगर, कमला नगर, मल्का गंज, रूप नगर, शक्ति नगर और अशोक विहार इत्यादि सभी प्रमुख क्षेत्रों में फेरीजेटी (स्टापेज) बनाए जाएंगे। https://www.jagran.com/delhi/new-delhi-city-ncr-najafgarh-drain-will-become-a-new-route-for-delhi-transport-boat-will-run-from-january26-23273998.html  (27 Dec. 2022)

The Yamuna, one of the main sources of raw water in Delhi, struggled to survive the ecological assault of sewage and industrial effluents. A government report showed that the pollutant load in the Yamuna has increased substantially over the last five years. The Delhi government had promised to clean the river to bathing standards by 2025. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/year-ender-2022-delhi-breathed-better-air-but-yamuna-still-gasps-for-life-101672395769456.html  (30 Dec. 2022)

Water supply in parts of Delhi has been affected due to ammonia pollution in the Yamuna river, the DJB said on Tuesday (Dec. 27). Operations at Wazirabad, Chandrawal, Bawana, Nangloi, Dwarka and Haiderpur WTPs have been hit. Water supply will remain affected till the situation improves, it said. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/ammonia-pollution-in-yamuna-affects-water-supply-in-parts-of-delhi-9773871.html  (28 Dec. 2022)

Delhi’s Urban Poor Continues To Suffer From Toxic Water Of Yamuna And Harmful Gas From Landfills. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/delhi-s-urban-poor-continues-to-suffer-from-toxic-water-of-yamuna-and-harmful-gas-from-landfills-news-244763  (14 Dec. 2022)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Centre 73 species critically endangered in India Seventy-three species in India are critically endangered, the Union environment ministry informed the Rajya Sabha citing a report of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), up from 47 in 2011. The 73 species include nine species of mammals, 18 birds, 26 reptiles and 20 amphibians, according to IUCN criteria. In September 2011, 47 species in India were identified as “critically endangered” in the class of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians, according to information provided by the ministry in Lok Sabha.

Experts said that most of India’s biodiversity is outside India’s protected areas. “Even though the 30% coverage under conservation applies globally and not to individual countries, in India for certain biomes where the absolute area is limited, we have to possibly conserve almost 100% of what remains. Similarly, for conserving our highly endangered fresh-water aquatic fauna and the ecosystem services of riverine ecosystems, we may have to restore ecological flows and sediment regimes through alternative land-use and management of dams and barrages over more than 30% of our rivers,” explained Jagdish Krishnaswamy, dean, school of environment and sustainability, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bengaluru, and senior adjunct fellow at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment.

“Only a fraction (~15%) of high priority biodiversity and conservation potential areas are encompassed under India’s extant protected area network which effectively covers 5% of India. However, to achieve a coverage of 30% of our land and water under biodiversity friendly management that also generates a diversity of ecosystem services including water and carbon services and enhances our resilience under climate change besides providing adaptation capacity, we have to reimagine conservation far beyond the conventional protected area approaches. Our conservation goals must be linked to making our soils healthier, protecting our water and achieving biodiversity targets in all types of ecosystems from the so-called semi-wild areas to agro-ecosystems as well as green and blue spaces in urbanising areas and mega-cities,” he added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/73-species-critically-endangered-in-india-says-centre-in-rajya-sabha-101671991164225-amp.html  (26 Dec. 2022)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Meghalaya Fish preservation effort is commendable but came late The state Fisheries Department is making efforts to preserve indigenous varieties of fish. It declared about 67 rivers or stretches of them as fish sanctuaries where local as well as general species can thrive. The effort, though commendable, came too late. The department has entrusted the task of protecting and preserving the fish varieties to local village committees, dorbar shnong and NGOs.

– Meghalaya has lost many local fish species in the last 50 years and the reasons are manifold. But an important reason is human intervention that altered the fish habitats. Effluents from coal mining, cement plants and other factories contaminate streams and rivers, leading to extinction of several species of fish and other aquatic flora and fauna.

– In Meghalaya, we have many rivers and streams which abound in varieties of fish. The prominent rivers of Jaintia Hills are the Lukha, Myntdu, Amjngur, Umiurem and Myntang; in Khasi Hills the Umngot, Umiam, Umdiengkain, Khasi Mara, Jadkain, Umtrew, Umngi, Rilang, Kynshi, Rwiang, Wahblei, Riangdo, Ryndi, Riangdo, Umshiak and Wahkhri; in Garo Hills the Simsang, Ganol, Jinjiram, Eldek, Manda, Chibok, Rongdik, Ringsa, Chibe, Ringgi, Rongku and Bandra.

– The fish sanctuaries as declared by the Fisheries Department are —

    Umlew in Ri Bhoi

    Jira in Siminaguri, Kynshi at Nongkhnum, Umshiak at Nongpdeng, Riangdo in Pormawlai, Riangdi at Nongshram, Kynshi at Umthied, Riangdo at Nongwardro, all in West Khasi Hills

    Rilang at Rohbah, Phodlongon at Mawiawmah, Tynhiang at Pdemtynniaw, all in South West Khasi Hills

    Rangsakona at Rangsa A’We, Rongdik at Eman Warima, Rongdik Emangre at Eman Dokru A’We, Rongdik Aruwagre at Juwa Wari, Chibe Nengkong at Chibe Nengkong, Rongku Bolkongpara at Bolkolpara, Simsang at Wachi Wari, Ganol at Mandal Wari, Ganol at Rongram, Ringgi at Dadenggre, Bandra at Gambegre, all in South Garo Hills

    Keralgram at Keralgram, Aruare at Aruare, Rongre at Rongre, Ieldek at Tangba, Rari Rangsopgre at Rangsopgre, all in North Garo Hills

    Chibok Nengmandelgre at Chibok Chachalgre, Chibok Rapdigre, Simsang Rongsapgre, Simsang Songmagre, Simsang Warimagre, Simsang Bansangre, Simsang Rongreng Baiza and Rongbing Kusimkolgre, all in East Garo Hills

    Umiew at Umiew, Wah Madan Tyrkhang at Tyrkhang, Wah Synrem at Mawpran, Weilynter at Nongpiur, Umlyngka river at Umlyngka, Umtangphar at Mawkynrew, Weinuir at Umsawwar, Wahumtyrkhang at Lyngkhoi, Wahmawsadang at Mawsadang, Wah Umlangmar at Mawspong, Wah Umdiengkain at Lawbah, Wah Khasi Mara at Thyllaw, Wah Tyrsad at Tyrsad, Wah Jadkain at Diengpasoh, all in East Khasi Hills

    Myntdu Syntu Ksiar, Myntang Wahiajer, Mynrud at Madan Mynrud, Umngot Chere at Shnongpdeng, Umsohkhri at Khonglah, Amjngur at Nongtalang, Amtngui at Nongbareh, Amiurem at Khliehmushut, Myntang at Elaka Mynso, Amkshar at Kudeng Thymmai, Amkahoh at Sohkha Mission, Thwai Sajri at Mustem, Umsalait at Umsalait, Umlamar at Kudengrim, all in West Jaintia Hills

    Stain at Tuber Kmaichnong and Myntdu river at Chamcham, in East Jaintia Hills. https://meghalayamonitor.com/fish-preservation-effort-is-commendable-but-came-late/  (27 Dec. 2022)

West Bengal Sustainable shrimp cultivation provides hope for mangrove restoration in Sundarbans Under the initiative, Sustainable Aquaculture In Mangrove Ecosystem (SAIME), farmers have taken up cultivation of shrimp at 20 hectares at Chaital in North 24 Parganas, and 10 hectares at Madhabpur in adjoining South 24 Parganas. However, they are doing their part in restoring the mangroves as well.

The community-based initiative of sustainable shrimp cultivation is being conceived by NEWS and Global Nature Fund (GNF), Naturland Bangladesh Environment and Development Society (BEDS). Ajany Dey, Joint Secretary and Programme Director of NEWS, says that the initiative — started in 2019 — has established a collaborative ecosystem integrating several key stakeholders from government departments, academia, and research institutes for co-creation and comprehensive advancement of this project.

There are 42 shrimp farmers engaged in the pilot project and a majority of them say that they have had higher incomes compared to previous years. They are also cultivating indigenous varieties of shrimps such as black tiger shrimp (P. monodon) and giant freshwater prawn (M. rosenbergii). https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sustainable-shrimp-cultivation-provides-hope-for-mangrove-restoration-in-sundarbans/article66324538.ece  (01 Jan. 2023)

Odisha Govt turns to cage aquaculture Odisha imports around 40,000 metric tonnes of fish annually, from neighbouring states, to meet its domestic demand. The state has one of the highest fish consumption populations in India. As part of a pilot project, 96 entrepreneurs from across Odisha have taken up cage fish farming under the state’s subsidised policy to augment freshwater fish production. Cage farming can assure production of 20-40 kgs of fish/cubic metre, say experts. However, challenges of market linkage, feed and sustainability remain an issue. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/12/to-increase-fish-production-odisha-turns-to-cage-aquaculture/  (22 Dec. 2022)

Pune Fish culture startup now has annual turnover of Rs 85 lakh. Suraj Apshinge’s company is a pioneer in the biofloc technology and has set up 400 tanks all over Maharashtra in the last few years. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/inspired-by-youtube-popup-fish-culture-startup-8346114/  (28 Dec. 2022)

SAND MINING

Karnataka What is the need for sand extraction in CRZ rivers: Fishermen The Dakshina Kannada District Traditional Fishermen Association on Tuesday (Dec. 20) said that when the traditional fishermen did not face any navigation problem due to purported sandbars in Phalguni (Gurupura) and Netravati rivers under Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), it was surprising that the district sand monitoring committee has identified 17 sandbars to issue sand extraction permits.

Association joint secretary Rithesh D’Souza told reporters here that the survey to identify sandbars was wholly unscientific. No representative of traditional fishermen was included in the committee. “When we do not have any problem to navigate our boats in the rivers, it is an irony that in the name of facilitating smooth navigation channel, the administration was attempting to ruin our life,” he regretted. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/what-is-the-need-for-sand-extraction-in-crz-rivers-ask-traditional-fishermen/article66285857.ece  (20 Dec. 2022)

Bihar M&G dept to form dedicated force to curb illegal sand mining “To check illegal sand mining, exploitation and transportation of minerals in the state, we have decided to create our own force. We are discussing the modalities and other aspects, and will soon send a detailed proposal to the competent authority for the final approval,” Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, Additional Chief Secretary-cum-Mines Commissioner, Mines and Geology Department, told PTI. Assistant sub-inspectors and constables will be part of the ‘mining police’, she said.

Senior officials will lead the ‘mining police’ teams, which would be fully armed, Bamhrah said. “The state has been witnessing incidents of violent attacks by the sand mafia, injuring policemen and senior officers in areas like Patna, Bhojpur, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Saran and Vaishali districts,” she said.

Another reason behind the move is that the department does not get adequate personnel from the state police for carrying out operations to check illegal mining, as they are engaged in other important duties, the official said. Against the sanctioned strength of 315 home guards for the department, it has been currently provided with only 190 guards, and 138 Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) personnel against the sanctioned strength of 269, she said. “In certain districts, the department has its own inspectors, placed under the district collector,” said another senior official. https://theprint.in/india/bihar-dept-to-form-dedicated-force-to-curb-illegal-sand-mining/1291602/  (31 Dec. 2022)

Sand miners open fire, female mining official alleged threat to life A female mining department official was allegedly threatened by the sand mafia in East Champaran district, who opened fire and took back their vehicles laden with sand her team had seized from Sattarghat on the banks of Gandak river, police said on Friday (Dec. 02), adding that one of the accused has been arrested.

Recounting her harrowing experience, district mining officer (DMO) Ragani Kumari told HT on phone that her team came under attack near Sundarapur village under Kesariya police station limits. “It was around 9 am Friday (Dec. 02). We were heading towards Kesariya police station after seizing two tractor-trolleys laden with illegally mined sand when a man intercepted our vehicle. He threatened the Home Guards sitting accompanying me and asked them to release the impounded tractor-trolleys. He also fired at least four times in the air,” she said, adding that she and the Home Guards had to flee for their lives. “Later in the day, I received several messages threatening me to kill for taking action against the sand mafia at Mehsi and Sattarghat,” Kumari said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/sand-miners-open-fire-female-mining-official-alleged-threat-to-life-101670000148789.html  (02 Dec. 2022)

SDM’s bodyguard critically injured in sand mafia attack The bodyguard of a sub divisional magistrate (SDM) Dehri was critically injured in a sand mafia attack on Sunday (Sept. 04) night. The administration and police team led by Dehri SDM Sameer Kumar Saurabh were conducting raids against the illegal sand storage and transportation in coal depot locality and had seized 10 sand loaded vehicles when mafia men attacked on and started heavy stone pelting, police said. The SDM’s bodyguard Santu Kumar was critically injured and admitted to Narayan Medical College and Hospital at Jamuhar. A case under provisions of IPC and mining act were registered against the mafia members and one of the assailants Arvind Kumar of Rudrapura was arrested. Raids were on to arrest the other accused, SDM Saurabh said.

Following a NGT order for preservation of rivers and ecosystem, the auction and mining of sand was postponed from June 1 to September 30. This resulted into a sand crisis and its illegal mining, smuggling to construction companies and dealers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The sand ghats of river Sone in Rohtas, Bhijpur and Aurangabad districts of Bihar and adjacent Garhwa and Palamu districts of Jharkhand are the highest and good quality sand producers. The mining mafia, in collusion with the concerned departments officials, has continued its mining, transportation and sell mostly to UP markets to get lucrative earnings.

At least 28 persons have been killed in mafia gang war to control the lucrative trade during the last two years. Several officers including two superintendent of police, four deputy superintendent of police, two sub divisional magistrate and district mining officers posted in these districts, have already been suspended for their alleged involvement in illegal mining. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/bihar-sdm-s-bodyguard-critically-injured-in-sand-mafia-attack-101662360446109.html  (05 Sept. 2022)

ओवरलोड ट्रक से टकराई टूरिस्ट बस, चालक सहित दो की मौत  कैमूर जिला स्थित कुदरा में एनएच-19 पर चिलबिली के पास सोमवार (Dec. 12) को करीब साढ़े आठ बजे ओवरलोड बालू लदे ट्रक और टूरिस्ट बस में भीषण टक्कर हो गई। इस दर्दनाक हादसे में टूरिस्ट बस के चालक समेत दो लोगों की घटनास्थल पर ही मौत हो गई। जबकि करीब 39 यात्री घायल हो गए। घायलों को कुदरा के पीएचसी से प्राथमिक उपचार के बाद सदर अस्पताल भभुआ लाया गया। जहां से पांच लोगों को स्थिति गंभीर होने के कारण हायर सेंटर रेफर किया गया। शेष घायलों का सदर अस्पताल में इलाज चल रहा है।

मिली जानकारी के मुताबिक टूरिस्ट बस दुर्घटना से कुछ देर पहले कुदरा में एक लाइन होटल पर रुकी थी। उसके बाद टूरिस्ट बस गंतव्य की ओर रवाना हुई। हाईवे की क्रॉसिंग कुछ दूर आगे थी। इसलिए टूरिस्ट बस विपरीत साइड से जाने लगी। अभी वह मुश्किल से करीब एक किलोमीटर ही आगे बढ़ी होगी कि स्थानीय थाना क्षेत्र के चिलबिली पेट्रोल पंप के पास विपरीत दिशा से तेज रफ्तार से आ रहे ओवरलोड बालू लदे ट्रक से उसकी टक्कर हो गई। ट्रक के ओवरलोड व तेज रफ्तार से होने के चलते टक्कर इतनी जबरदस्त थी कि करीब 50 मीटर तक ट्रक के साथ टूरिस्ट बस पीछे घीसटते हुए चली गई। https://www.jagran.com/bihar/kaimoor-tourist-bus-collided-with-overloaded-truck-on-nh-19-two-died-including-driver-in-kudra-23254654.html  (12 Dec. 2022) At least two persons were killed and over 30 were injured when a bus travelling from Calcutta to Agra and other destinations collided with a speeding truck (overloaded sand truck) around 7am on Monday (Dec. 12) near Chilbili under Kudra police station on NH 2, also known as the Grand Trunk Road, in Kaimur district.

The Agra-bound bus from Calcutta and the truck after the collision on NH-2 in Kaimur district. Sanjay Choudhary/The Telegraph

Kudra SHO Sanjay Kumar told The Telegraph. Kumar added that the bus, after halting at the dhaba, was moving in the wrong lane in an attempt to take an opening between the road dividers that lay ahead and go to the correct lane for its onward journey. “It seems the truck, though in the right lane, was travelling at a high speed and hit the bus head-on. The place of occurrence is hardly 300 metres from the dhaba,” Kumar said. https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/two-killed-in-calcutta-bus-crash-in-bihar/cid/1903539  (13 Dec. 2022) A driver was killed, and 35 passengers suffered severe injuries after a tourist bus collided with a soil-laden truck in Kaimur. At least 55 passengers were travelling on the bus when the accident happened. Following the mishap, the injured were rushed to a community health centre by police officers, locals and National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) workers. https://www.etvbharat.com/english/national/bharat/driver-killed-35-injured-as-bus-collides-with-truck-in-bihars-kaimur/na20221212160922490490507   (12 Dec. 2022)

Uttar Pradesh Minor Among 3 Killed In Road Accident Three people, including a four-year-old girl was killed after a sand-laden truck overturned and fell on a motorcycle here on Wednesday (Dec. 07), police said. The driver lost control of the truck while trying to save another vehicle. The truck overturned on a passing motorcycle, killing its three passengers, they said. The deceased have been identified as Mahipal (35), Geeta (40) and her daughter Surbhi, residents of Prakashpur under the Dibai police station area limits, police said. They were on their way to Narora when the accident took place, they said. A JCB machine was used to pull out the deceased, police said, adding that the truck driver escaped from the spot. https://www.republicworld.com/india-news/general-news/up-minor-among-3-killed-in-road-accident-articleshow.html  (07 Dec. 2022)

Three burnt alive in truck pile-up in Unnao Three persons, including two trucks drivers and a cleaner, were burnt alive in a pile-up of heavy trucks on the Kanpur-Lucknow highway near Ajgain in Unnao district on Saturday (Dec. 03). According to police, two dumpers laden with stone pebbles and red sand met with an accident near Jagdishpur village. Another truck carrying wood rammed into the one with red sand from behind. Following collision of the vehicles, fire broke out in all three simultaneously. The fire was so severe that the driver of the wood-laden truck and the driver and cleaner of a dumper, both brothers from Jalaun, were burnt alive.

Circle officer Hasanganj Deepak Kumar said the accident apparently happened when driver of a dumper applied brakes and two others coming from behind rammed into his vehicle. The fire broke out due to the wood. The police have registered an FIR and started an investigation. The victims were identified as Balbir Kushwaha and Satish Kushwaha of Jalaun and Pappu Singh Pooran of Fazalganj, Kanpur. Their identities were established through their Aadhar cards linked to the registration of vehicles. After this accident, there was a miles long tailback on the highway. The traffic was restored after five hours. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/three-burnt-alive-in-truck-pile-up-in-ups-unnao-457639  (04 Dec. 2022)

Jharkhand Sand mafia tries to mow down SDPO, team by dumper A sub divisional police officer (SDPO) and some of his team members sustained injuries after a sand mafia allegedly tried to run over the SDPO’s car by a dumper truck in Gumla district. SDPO Manish Chandra Lal and his team on Sunday (Dec. 25) night were checking illegal transport of sand at the time of the incident. The dumper was escorted by a car which was seized and a person named Wasim Meer was arrested. After the incident, the police have registered an FIR against 17 person. Recently, two similar incidents of attack on police party were reported in the state. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/sand-mafia-in-jharkhand-s-gulma-tries-to-mow-down-sdpo-team-by-dumper-122122700101_1.html  (27 Dec. 2022)

Madhya Pradesh Forest dept claims Police associated with Mafia in Morena In Tentra police station area of Morena, Forest Department team was once again attacked by sand mafia. Forest team caught one truck driver in the clash. Meanwhile, there was stampede among the sand mafia after seeing the forest department approaching them.

According to reports, illegal sand mining is happening near Barotha village. After the Forest Department received the information, they reached the spot at night without informing the police. When the forest team chased them, the mafia united and started stone pelting. The team caught one of the attackers mafia and informed the Tentra police. Police reached the spot and searched the forest but could not make any arrests. On the complaint of the forest workers, the Tentra police station has registered a case against unknown accused.

It is worth mentioning here that a fortnight back there was an attack on the Forest Department team here. During this attack, the mafia looted the tractor-trolley and beat-up forest officials. The official had accused that the police was with the mafias in this incident. Not only this, they had also demanded action against the in-charge of Tentra police station, accusing them of assault. https://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/shocking-claim-by-forest-department-in-madhya-pradesh-police-associated-with-mafia-in-morena  (09 Dec. 2022)

Punjab Sand mining scandal is political hot potato A blanket ban on sand mining imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 10 November is currently in effect in Punjab. The government, on 19 December, inaugurated the state’s first sand and gravel sales outlet in Mohali with much fanfare. But in five days since its launch, it has been able to attract only 36 buyers. The tepid response can be largely attributed to the fact that the price at which the government is offering sand and gravel is the same as that being offered by private retailers, and in some cases even higher. The government is planning to open outlets like the one in Mohali across the state with an aim to provide cheap gravel and sand to consumers. But pricing is a sore point.

Currently, the state-run outlet is not catering to commercial businesses, and selling only to individual buyers. Private retailers miffed at the government encroaching on their territory expressed frustration over how the blanket ban on mining has affected their business adversely.

As for now, confusion looms large in Punjab about the current mining policy. With a blanket ban, the exchequer is losing out on revenue, while the government’s latest outlet is of little use to the average buyer. And all this while, the mining mafia is busy with business as usual. https://theprint.in/india/crater-sized-quarries-bold-sand-mafia-why-punjabs-mining-scandal-is-a-political-hot-potato/1281782/  (26 Nov. 2022)

Gujarat govt advertising that M sand is more environment friendly alternative to river sand.

Meghalaya Year in review: Rampant destruction of natural resources continues Garo Hills has always been known to the world for its varieties of flora and fauna – a scarce resource at this point in time. However as has been happening over the past decade, this year too saw huge tracts of natural resources being attacked by greedy smugglers with no care for what their actions would mean for future generations. All this continues under the careless eyes of a system that feels more at home with bending the rules rather than implementing them.

Quarrying of stones: What can be more damning than the fact that even companies that have been contracted to pave roads within Garo Hills have been quarrying stones illegally? The problem is not only with companies but with small operators as well. A report earlier had found hundreds of illegal stone quarries that were operational near the village of Chibinang. The problem, say locals, is the continued delay by the state departments in providing legal permission for carrying on quarrying activities. The solution, many feel, would be to set up a single window so that people can apply for quarrying permission through a nodal officer and the rest work with those seeking permission to check on the viability of such applications.

Sand Mining: After the direction by the High Court of Meghalaya to put a stop to rampant sand mining in various parts of the state, the state forest department took a strong stance on the act and put a stop to all forms of mining activities without the proper directions being followed. This resulted in a huge number of people losing their livelihoods temporarily. However in time, these operators got the due permissions and began to work as per guidelines of the government. Currently sand mining has become more organized and poses a lesser threat to the immediate environment surrounding it. https://theshillongtimes.com/2022/12/29/year-in-review-rampant-destruction-of-natural-resources-continues/  (29 Dec. 2022)

Telangana Police defuse tension in Peddapalli over illegal sand mining charges High tension prevailed as leaders of opposition Congress and ruling TRS decided to converge at the ancient Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple in Odela mandal on Sunday (Oct. 01) coinciding with Gandhi Jayanti, following charges and counter-charges of illegal sand mining in Peddapalli district. Former Congress legislator Ch. Vijaya Ramana Rao accused sitting TRS Peddapalli MLA D. Manohar Reddy of encouraging illegal sand mining from shores of River Manair and collecting money from contractors. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/crime/021022/police-defuse-tension-in-peddapalli-over-illegal-sand-mining-charges.html  (02 Oct. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Karnataka Wetlands provide benefits worth Rs 284 billion annually: IISc expert Dr T V Ramachandra, faculty at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Wednesday (Dec. 28) said that the total wetland area in Karnataka stands at 2,81,299.5 hectare and the benefits which it provides to the people has an economic value of Rs 284.52 billion. Speaking at the 13th International Biennial Lake Symposium organised by Energy and Wetlands Group, IISc, he explained, “The services of wetlands can be divided into three categories. First — provisioning services which include fishing, fodder etc which sustains the local livelihood. Second — regulating services in which groundwater recharge and bioremediation takes place and third — cultural services which include recreation.”

He said that if a lake has to be protected, its catchment area should be in a good shape. Lakes play an important role in groundwater recharge. In the Nagashettyhalli area, when the lake, Nagashettyhalli kere, existed, the groundwater was available at 60-100 feet and today the groundwater has gone down to 1,900 feet because the lake disappeared a few years ago. In the name of remodelling the drains, they are being narrowed and concretised which also results in flooding and reduces groundwater recharge,” he said.

Ramachandra further said, “Before the construction of the Linganamakki dam in 1965 on the Sharavathi river, the region used to receive 3,000 mm to 4,500 mm of rainfall per year and after the construction of the dam, the region received 700 mm to 1,900 mm of rainfall. We need to urge the government to protect the integrity of the catchment area.” Ramachandra also said that the recurring issue of floods in Bengaluru is due to the loss of interconnectivity between the lakes. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/wetlands-karnataka-benefits-iisc-expert-8349216/  (29 Dec. 2022)

Mumbai Greens secure 7 ha wetland from extinction due to landfill Environmentalists from the city have claimed that they succeeded in securing a nearly seven-hectare wetland that was facing extinction due to landfill. It was part of a 10-hectare wetland at Sector 36 and a portion of which was already reclaimed by CIDCO for creating a housing society called Valley Ship. As truckloads of the soil were being dumped on the banks of the wetland, environmentalists raised an alarm and NatConnect Foundation sent an SOS to the MOEFCC, the CM and the High Court-appointed Wetlands Committee. “With collective action, CIDCO executive engineer Girish Raghuvamshi inspected the area with environmentalists and assured that the pond would be protected,” claimed NatConnect director B N Kumar. The landfill would be confined to an already plotted area by CIDCO, Raghuvamshi assured the green activists.

The officials also agreed to the suggestion to barricade the wetland to prevent any further encroachment. Nadkarni said CIDCO must put up sign boards to prevent debris and garbage being dumped into the wetlands at Sectors 16, 17, 25 and 27 as well. Activist Nareshchandra Singh asked CIDCO to have the waterbody cleaned as a vast stretch of weeds is affecting its health. “This is not a monsoon water body and we have been seeing water here all through the year,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, MOEFCC responded to NatConnect’s complaint and asked the State Environment department to act. CM Eknath Shinde instructed the Urban development department Principal Secretary Bhushan Gargrani to look into the issue as NatConnect complained that the perennial water body, listed in the National Wetland Atlas, faces extinction thanks to continuous burial by CIDCO. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/navi-mumbai-environmental-groups-secure-seven-hectare-wetland-from-extinction-due-to-landfill  (31 Dec. 2022)

WATER OPTIONS

Rajasthan Digging ponds to capture rainwater A state government scheme to encourage rainwater harvesting is bearing fruit as for the first time, the farmers in the water-strapped Gironiya village, are cultivating wheat in the rabi season, and their mustard production has reportedly increased manifold. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/rainwater-harvesting-ponds-farmers-dholpur-rajasthan-state-government-scheme-51405  (07 Nov. 2022)

GROUNDWATER

Punjab Sanjha Morcha, Zira, on Sunday (Jan. 01) announced that they will from January 6 intensify their agitation going on outside Malbros International Private Limited, an alcohol-making unit at Mansurwal village of Ferozepur. In response to an appeal by the factory owners, the Punjab and Haryana high court had asked the state authorities to deposit ₹20 crore into its Registry and also move protesters 300 metres away from the factory gate to ensure hassle free entry and exit of the staff. While ₹20 crore was deposited in the court, the state government failed to remove the protesters and the factory had been lying closed since July 26. The next hearing in the case is on February 28. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/zira-factory-row-mansurwal-sarpanch-calls-for-intensifying-stir-on-jan-6-101672595611259.html  (01 Jan. 2023)

Study Earth’s oldest remaining GW aged at 1.2 bl years old According to a study published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’, an international team of researchers discovered 1.2-billion-year-old groundwater deep in a gold- and uranium-producing mine in Moab Khotsong, South Africa, shedding more light on how life is sustained below the Earth’s surface and how it may thrive on other planets. https://theprint.in/science/earths-oldest-remaining-groundwater-aged-at-1-2-billion-years-old-study/1276835/  (22 Dec. 2022)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Kengeri Lake gets new lease of life after delay The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Lakes Department has commenced the much-delayed rejuvenation of Kengeri Lake. The BBMP has taken up the project at an estimated cost of Rs 4 crore. The civic body had issued the work order last month. The rejuvenation of Kengeri Lake has been pending for many years. The lake was rejuvenated and developed in 2005 by the state forest department, and later, it was handed over to the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which in turn handed it over to Bangalore Metropolitan Rail Corporation (BMRCL) in 2012. However, BMRCL failed to develop the lake due to unknown reasons. Finally, the BBMP Lakes Department floated a tender last May, inviting the bidders for the revival of the lake.

BBMP Lakes Division has floated a short-term tender on Thursday inviting bidders for the rejuvenation of the lake. The last date for receiving the tenders is June 6. According to the rejuvenation plan, the lake, that spreads over 32 acres and one guntas, has to be dewatered and desilted at an estimated cost of Rs 72,12,345. Protection of the main bund (760 meters) is estimated to cost around Rs 39,23,648. Improvements to walkway bund (890 meters) are expected to cost about Rs 33,30,760, construction of surplus weir cum foot bridge Rs 39,31,673, construction of diversion pipe-line Rs 96,75,650, and construction of silt traps (three) Rs 69,75,650. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/kengeri-lake-gets-new-lease-of-life-after-delay/articleshow/96552408.cms  (28 Dec. 2022)

Hubli-Dharwad MC members slam L&T for irregular drinking water supply Lashing out at L&T, which has been tasked with infrastructure development for 24×7 drinking water and also water supply, councillors, cutting across party lines, charged L&T officials with being negligent in their work, and demanded that the agency be divested of the responsibility. The issue consumed major part of the HDMC’s general body meeting held here on Friday (Dec. 30). The members, raising the drinking water issue during the zero hour, alleged that several wards in the twin cities, which were getting water once in five days, were now being supplied once in 10-12 days, and in some cases, once in 15 days for just 2- 3 hours. They further said the water pressure was also low and people were unable to reserve water for next one week. Private water tankers are charging nothing less than Rs 1,000 per tanker, and people are fed-up with erratic water supply, they said.

Responding to this, HDMC commissioner B Gopal Krishna said there is no drinking water issue in 11 demo zones (continuous water supply) and also in 25 wards which have partial 24×7 facility. But at intermittent wards (numbering 46), drinking water problem has surfaced. During a meeting on December 3, L&T was asked to supply water once in five days. But it has been delayed up to 10 days. L&T is facing technical issues which would be resolved in the next 15 days, the commissioner added. The corporators, who were in no mood to accept the commissioner’s version, urged the mayor to divest L&T of the responsibility and hand over the task back to KUWS&DB. https://infra.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/water/hubli-dharwad-municipal-corporation-members-slam-lt-for-irregular-drinking-water-supply/96648412  (31 Dec. 2022)

Hyderabad With the city drastically expanding, there are over 1,200 colonies (most of them new) located beyond GHMC limits and within ORR jurisdiction where drinking water has to be supplied. The ORR Phase-II project being undertaken at a cost of Rs 1,200 crore will provide drinking water to Gram Panchayats, Municipalities, Municipal Corporations, housing layouts, and gated communities. According to Water Board officials, at present, the water requirement of Hyderabad is 37 TMC which is expected to go up to 47.76 TMS in 2035, 58.98 TMC by 2050, 67.71 TMC by 2065, and 70.97 TMC by 2072. https://telanganatoday.com/slew-of-projects-by-hmwssb-in-2022-ensure-steady-supply-of-drinking-water  (26 Dec. 2022)

Mumbai Water enters houses in Ghatkopar area after pipeline burst Water entered the houses in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar area after a pipeline burst on December 31. The pipeline burst happened near Asalpha Station in Ghatkopar, Mumbai. Residents got affected due to waterlogging in the houses. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/city/mumbai/mumbai-water-enters-houses-in-ghatkopar-area-after-pipeline-burst/videoshow/96648373.cms  (31 Dec. 2022)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Uttar Pradesh government has tested over 30 lakh samples of water for providing clean drinking water to households in the state, an official statement said on Saturday (Dec. 31). Of the total 30,39,687 samples tested till the last week of December, 4.22 lakh were found contaminated and remedial action has been taken on 46,000 samples by Jal Nigam (Rural) engineers, it said. The testing of water samples under ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ was carried out by rural women in a span of nine months (April to December 2022). https://www.news18.com/news/india/uttar-pradesh-govt-tests-over-30-lakh-samples-of-water-in-9-months-6732619.html  (31 Dec. 2022)  

WATER

Kerala Drinking water project implemented at tribal colony in Wayanad Conceived under its Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) programme, the Kerala section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has implemented a clean drinking water project at Meenkoli tribal village at Bavali in Wayanad district. Harnessing solar energy, a 30-member team of students and professionals of IEEE came together to execute the project. A 550W pump and 800W solar panel were installed along with a filter to purify water supply. The excess energy harvested was utilised to power streetlights in the colony. Thirunalli grama panchayat president P.V Balakrishnan inaugurated the project recently. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/drinking-water-project-implemented-at-tribal-colony-in-wayanad/article66310855.ece  (27 Dec. 2022)

Odisha Bhubaneshwar restaurant pay Rs. 3000 compensation for charging more than MRP on water bottles. https://kalingatv.com/state/law-student-who-was-charged-more-than-mrp-on-water-bottles-by-restaurant-gets-rs-3000-compensation/  (31 Dec. 2022)

MONSOON 2022

SANDRP Blog Post Monsoon 2022: District wise Rainfall in India According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), during the just concluded Post Monsoon Rainfall for 2022, that included rainfall during Oct-Dec 2022 months, India received 144.1 mm rainfall, 19% above normal (177.7 mm rainfall, 43.54% above normal in Post Monsoon 2021) rainfall of 121 mm. In the same period in 2020, India received 124.6 mm rainfall, 0.64% above the normal rainfall. As per IMD definition, the rainfall was in Normal category.

This three-month period from Oct 1, to Dec 31 includes the North East Monsoon that mainly affects parts of South India including Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Rayalseema, parts of Karnataka and Kerala. However, since the South West Monsoon had not yet withdrawn from the country by Sept 30, a significant proportion of the rainfall in October was contribution of the SW monsoon. This was similar situation in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The period also includes the rainfall that most of North India gets from western disturbances, but that contribution has been very low so far this year. La Nina has also made some contribution in increasing the rainfall significantly above normal, which was also the case in 2021, but not in 2020. https://sandrp.in/2023/01/01/post-monsoon-2022-district-wise-rainfall-in-india/  (01 Jan. 2022)

URBAN FLOOD

Study Unravelling the causes of 2015 winter monsoon extreme rainfall and floods over Chennai: Influence of atmospheric variability and urbanization on the hydrological cycle:-The 2015 winter monsoon season floods over Chennai and its surrounding south India regions are the best example of hydrological cycle variability. It is possible to have such climate extremes in the future due to an increase in urbanization and anthropogenic activity over the region. In this study, we have shown both the observational and simulated effect of the anthropogenic variability on urban climate extreme precipitation. A better understanding of the hydrological cycle’s variability and its influence on extreme precipitation can be ascertained from the climate modelling perspective in future studies. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212095522003133  (Jan. 2023)

DISASTERS

A brief history of Tsunamis in Tamil Nadu. https://tamilnaduweatherman.in/2022/12/26/18-years-ago-we-learned-what-is-tsunami-was-it-the-first-time-lets-see-the-historic-tsunamis-in-india/  (28 Dec. 2022)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

ECs: NGT frets over capacity building of states Highlighting concerns over the capacity of SEIAA, which have been empowered to grant environmental clearances for more projects now, the NGT has asked the Centre to set up a three-member committee to formulate safeguards and guidelines to be followed by these state authorities. “The committee may meet within one month and formulate guidelines/safeguards to be followed by the SEIAAs,” the bench comprising chairperson Justice A. K. Goel, judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member Prof. A. Senthil Vel said in an order passed on 7 December.

The tribunal was hearing an application filed by SAFE, challenging clauses of two notifications — one issued on 20 April and another issued on 9 May.

Through the notifications amending the EIA Notification 2006, the government has “decentralised” the environmental clearance process. It has made changes to the projects and activities included in ‘category B’, which require environmental clearance from the state authorities. While the April notification gave  the state authorities — instead of the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Environment Ministry — the power to grant environmental clearances for certain projects, the May notification shortened the duration of convening rescheduled public hearing and empowered the sub-divisional magistrate to conduct the public hearing.

The NGO alleged that the notifications were ultra-vires the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986 and the rules framed under it. Decentralising the power of appraisal for large projects and assigning such a power to the state-level authorities will be against the interests of the environment, because these authorities do not have the capacity and resources to do justice to such clearances, it claimed. However, the tribunal felt that instead of annulling the notifications, it could ask the Centre to focus on addressing the concerns raised by the application on capacity building for state authorities, and therefore, appointed a committee instead. After its first meeting, the committee has to review the progress at least once in three months. https://theprint.in/judiciary/environmental-clearances-ngt-frets-over-capacity-building-of-states-asks-centre-to-lay-rules/1260169/  (11 Dec. 2022)

NGT extends stay on notification modifying EIA conditions The NGT recently extended the stay on an order of the MoEF&CC which modified EIA conditions for certain construction projects. The bench noted that the notification dated November, 14, 2018 was stayed in December, 2018 along with the proceedings before the tribunal as its validity was being considered by Delhi High Court as well. Since three years had passed and the matter was to be considered expeditiously, it was taken up by the tribunal.

Based on the statutory scheme of the Environment Protection Act and the principles of ‘Sustainable Development’ and ‘Precautionary’ principle to be enforced by the NGT under Section 15 read with Section 20 of the NGT Act, the tribunal determined that the impugned Notification will result in diluting the existing mechanism for Impact Assessment by SEIAA and could not thus be sustained.

The tribunal further recorded that no steps were taken by the MoEFCC either to file a reply or to seek a modification of the stay, and that there was no representation from the ministry before the tribunal. Thus, it determined that no prejudice would be caused if the stay on the notification continued. https://www.barandbench.com/news/ngt-extends-stay-on-moefcc-notification-modifying-eia-conditions-for-certain-construction-projects  (27 Dec. 2022)

Interview Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav says that India can manage a balancing act amid rising pressures to divert native forests and biodiversity rich areas to meet the country’s development and infrastructure needs. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/can-comfortably-achieve-target-of-30×30-by-2030-bhupender-yadav-101672554793531.html  (01 Jan. 2022)

Gujarat ‘Flawed’ EIA stalls Rs 3,500-cr chemical plant Residents and environmental activists have opposed the project for months, citing the pollution it will likely bring to the area as well as alleged flaws in the way the EIA was carried out. They also claim that the agencies that carried out the EIA NEERI and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) — were not appropriately accredited. The panel has asked GHCL for the accreditation certificates of the two agencies. According to information available on the National Accreditation Board website, neither NEERI nor NIO is authorised to conduct EIA studies for the soda ash industry.

This is not the first time that the EIA process has come under scrutiny — in fact, the allegations surrounding the soda ash project point to a deeper malaise in the environmental and coastal clearance process itself. On 8 August, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India released a report on the oversight involved in the process. CAG said in its findings that projects had been granted clearances despite the EIA consultants lacking accreditation — an allegation also made in the current case. The CAG also identified 14 instances of environment clearance being granted when the EIA failed to identify biodiversity hotspots, and another 12 where the EIA relied on outdated data. The scale of violations made it “imperative to assess the implementation” of the process,  the CAG report said. https://theprint.in/environment/flawed-eia-stalls-rs-3500-cr-gujarat-chemical-plant-project-that-sparked-pollution-fears/1286280/  (30 Dec. 2022)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Report 2022: the year rewilding went mainstream – and a biodiversity deal gave the world hope. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/26/2022-the-year-rewilding-went-mainstream-and-a-biodiversity-deal-gave-the-world-hope  (26 Dec. 2022)

Uttarakhand Spring rhododendron blooms in Dec In prominent rhododendron landscapes of Uttarakhand, like Chaurangi Khal in Uttarkashi, a small town located at about 7,000 feet above sea level, and Jakholi in Rudraprayag, at over 5,000 feet, premature blooming of the flowers has been observed by locals, worrying scientists and experts. This year, a feeble western disturbance created an adverse impact on the flora and fauna of various states. Uttarakhand witnessed a dry November and December, with a 100% rain deficit and little to no snowfall in the two months.

Rhododendron is typically found at higher altitudes and their blooming peaks in March-April once the temperature settles around 15-20 degrees Celsius. For the past few years, early blooming in January was observed but this is the first time that the flowers bloomed in December. Experts believe the early blooming is due to climate change, erratic weather patterns and that it may “push the species towards the treeline (line or altitude above which no trees grow).” The scientific community feels that gradual increase in temperatures over the years is leaving its mark on some plant species, including rhododendron.

Decades ago, rhododendrons used to bloom from March to May. In 2014, a study found the blooming had shifted to February to mid-March between 2009 to 2011. Rhododendron isn’t the only flower to bloom unusually early. As reported by TOI earlier, other Himalayan plants like kaafal (small, red berry-like fruits) and the state flower brahmakamal have started blooming ahead of their time over the past few years due to changing climate patterns. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/spring-rhododendron-blooms-in-parts-of-uttarakhand-in-december-worries-experts/articleshow/96558814.cms  (28 Dec. 2022)

Assam Unexpected ‘snow’ covering Assam town hail deposits: Experts A freakish hailstorm in Moran town of Dibrugarh district Dec. 27, 2022 left the town covered with hail and what appeared like snow. More than 4,000 houses in the town were damaged by the storm and Rabi crops were affected. The deposits are of hail that accompanied a storm that was a bit unexpected at this time of the year, according to experts. Such events become more common in February and thereafter, bringing pre-monsoon rainfall with them, according to Phukan. Such hailstorm events were also witnessed in Shillong, Guwahati and some other places in Assam in December 2021. At the time, many people had thought it to be snowfall.

The current hailstorm has occurred due to the interaction of two weather systems. “The first is a low-level moisture incursion from the Bay of Bengal. The second is a low-pressure trough, which is a remnant of a western disturbance that has travelled from northwest India,” Sunit Das, scientist at IMD’s regional centre in Guwahati, told DTE. “Some of the hail has not formed completely because of the sudden nature of the event and therefore, it is soft and flaky like snow. But this is definitely not snowfall,” Partha Jyoti Das, head of the water, climate and hazards division of non-profit Aaranyak based in Guwahati, Assam, told Down To Earth. “If we look at the climatology of the last 30 years, such an event happening in December is rare,” said Ranjan Phukan, scientist at the India Meteorological Department, Pune. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/natural-disasters/unexpected-snow-covering-assam-town-hail-deposits-experts-86827  (28 Dec. 2022)

Punjab In peak season, kinnow in sleep mode In September, the state government formed a committee to assess low production. Its head, principal fruit scientist and PAU former head of fruit science Harminder Singh, said, “We studied the reasons for about a month. A big weather fluctuation was recorded in March, when the temperature was 5 degrees Celsius above normal. The normal heat in the flowering stage should be between 25-28°C or maximum 30°C, but it was to 34-35°C. The flowers dried up fell off the plants and only the orchards on drip irrigation survived.”

Tanker-supplied water saved some plants but not many flowers. The problem aggravated when the canals closed, because Abohar’s groundwater is no more fit for growing fruits. At least 50% of the production was impacted. Award winner kinnow producer Balwinder Singh Tikka of Muktsar said: “Early heat wave reduced even wheat’s yield, and Bangladesh jacked up the import duty on fruit. Two years ago, we’d send a trainload from Ganganagar in Rajasthan to Chittagong in Bangladesh.”

Abohar kinnow grower Ajay Wadhwa said: “The state government, which advocates crop diversification, didn’t come to our rescue. Yes, it can’t do much about climate, but canal water is within its control. It should ask the Centre to raise the import duty issue with Bangladesh, since 28 to 62% is unreasonable duty.” Kinnow growers have last written to Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/in-peak-season-kinnow-in-sleep-mode-market-squashed-as-well/articleshow/96610952.cms  (30 Dec. 2022)

SOUTH ASIA

SANDRP Blog 2022: Hydro Power Projects Disasters, Damages & Concerns in South Asia In addition to India, the local people in Himalayan countries of South Asia have been resisting against the hydro power projects. These countries have also been facing accidents and disasters caused by the hydro power projects.

At the same time, the increasing construction as well as operational cost and climate change threats have been making the future of hydro power projects risky and uncertain in the region. This annual overview highlights the hydro power projects related accidents, disasters and concerns in South Asian countries. https://sandrp.in/2022/12/27/2022-hydro-power-projects-disasters-damages-concerns-in-south-asia/  (27 Dec. 2022)

India-Nepal Policy hurts power export prospects  In a move that will make hydroelectricity generated by Indian projects cheaper than that produced by Nepal, India’s power ministry starting Dec 2, 2022 removed the inter-state transmission charges for new Indian hydropower projects. The waiver or concessional charges shall be applicable for a period of 18 years from the date of commissioning of the hydro power plants.

– Nepal has also been concerned over the Indian Power Ministry’s notification in Jan 2021, modified in July 2022 to the power distribution companies that they must purchase a certain portion of hydropower. As per the notification, a distribution company must have purchased 0.35 percent of the total power it distributes from hydropower projects in fiscal 2022-23, which should increase to 2.82 percent in fiscal 2029-30. But this will not include hydropower imported from outside.  https://kathmandupost.com/national/2022/12/28/india-s-policy-hurts-power-export-prospects-of-nepal  (28 Dec. 2022)

Nepal can now export 452.6 MW electricity to India. The Nepal Electricity Authority said on Dec 27 2022 that India has agreed to buy the power generated by two additional projects— Kabeli B 1 (24.25MW) and Lower Modi (19.4MW). https://kathmandupost.com/national/2022/12/27/nepal-allowed-to-export-another-43-65-mw-to-india  (27 Dec. 2022)

Bhutan DGPC takes over Mangdechhu plant 720MW Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA) officially handed over the project to Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) on Dec 27 2022. The cost incurred until July 2022 was Nu 50.2B. The commissioning of the project has increased Bhutan’s electrical power generation capacity by 44 percent to 2,326MW. Since its commissioning, the project has generated more than 9,500 million units of energy. So far, it earned Nu 43.6B as revenue after the commissioning of the project. The tariff of the Mangdechhu Project is Nu 4.12 per kWh. Four units of Mangdechhu Hydropower Station were commissioned between June 28, 2019 to August 16, 2019.

– It is projected to earn revenue of Nu 12B from the project annually. Of the total revenue earned around Nu 8.5B will be given to the government exchequer and around Nu 5B will be  repaying the loan for 17 years. In total, there is around Nu 47B loan. Every five-year tariff will be increased by 10 percent. After completing the repayment of the loan, the tariff will be increased by 5 percent every five years. https://kuenselonline.com/dgpc-takes-over-mangdechhu-power-plant/  (28 Dec. 2022) ‘

Bangladesh Amid falling rains, GW; farmers turn to vegetables While some parts of Bangladesh have been experiencing record-breaking monsoon rains and flooding, drought has becomes increasingly common in the Barind region, which covers most of Rajshahi and some of Rangpur district. The area’s annual average rainfall has fallen to about 1,100mm, less than half the nationwide average, said Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, a geology professor at the University of Rajshahi. And, due to accelerating climate change, average rainfall in the Barind region has been “going down day by day”, he said.

Because there has been so little rain, farmers in the region rely on deep wells to get water to irrigate their crops, putting intense pressure on groundwater supplies, Mr Sarwar Jahan added. Groundwater levels in Barind are dropping by 50 to 60cm every year, according to the Bangladesh Water Development Board. This spurred some farmers in Rajshahi in the late-2000s to try growing cabbage and pointed gourd — which is similar to cucumber — on land where they had given up on rice, according to Dewan Ali, 55, a farmer living in the village of Godagari. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-02/bangladesh-rice-farmers-vegetable-crop/101820758  (02 Jan. 2023)

ASIA

Report Most striking environmental photos of 2022 This summer saw Europe’s worst drought in 500 years. Record-breaking temperatures and low rainfall led to wildfires, rivers running dry and crops failing. As water levels in reservoirs sank to their lowest levels in decades, all sorts of structures started to emerge. Parts of the old village of Aceredo in northwestern Spain reemerged as drought hit the Lindoso reservoir. It was submerged three decades ago when a hydropower dam flooded the valley.

The old village of Aceredo which was submerged three decades ago when a hydropower dam flooded the valley.AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File
Flood victims from monsoon rain use a makeshift barge to carry hay for cattle, in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province in September.AP Photo/Fareed Khan

Extreme weather conditions driven by climate change also saw Pakistan hit by historic rains and flooding in September. At least 1,700 people were killed and over €40 billion in damages were done across the country. At one point, a third of the country was submerged, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to move to safer places. The waters washed away or damaged 2 million homes.  Pakistan is among the 10 countries worst affected by climate change and led a push at COP27 for rich countries to recognise the vulnerability of the developing world. https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/12/25/from-droughts-to-soup-splashed-paintings-here-are-the-most-striking-environmental-photos-o  (25 Dec. 2022)

Transboundary Water Governance is Regional Security Issue in Asia By Genevieve Donnellon-May and Zhang Hongzhou Hydropower has positive and negative implications for climate change and transboundary river conflict. Considered key to reducing carbon emissions, hydropower has been prioritized by countries such as India and China, which have ambitious plans to cut coal consumption and achieve a carbon peak timeline. However, building hydropower plants and hydropower reservoirs can also contribute to carbon emissions, while frequent climate shocks have significantly increased the uncertainty and unreality of hydropower as a power source. Furthermore, hydropower development can adversely affect river ecosystems and cause water shortages further downstream, potentially leading to water conflicts or disagreements between countries. Careful management of hydropower resources is essential to ensure its positive impacts on climate change and avoid transboundary river conflicts. https://thediplomat.com/2022/12/transboundary-water-governance-is-a-regional-security-issue-in-asia/  (29 Dec. 2022)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Free-Flowing Rivers As Nature-Based Solutions Jeff Opperman This is the fifth in a seven-part series that explores the application of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to climate and nature challenges, with a focus on water management in Africa for climate adaptation (and drawn from the report Waterways to Resilience). This post goes deep on a specific type of NbS: rivers that deliver sediment to build up and maintain downstream deltas and mangrove forests that can provide buffers to coastal storms, floods and erosion. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2022/12/27/free-flowing-rivers-as-nature-based-solutions/amp/  (27 Dec. 2022)

USA Biden admin drafts new rules to protect streams, wetlands The Biden administration on Friday (Dec. 30) finalized regulations to protect hundreds of thousands of streams, wetlands and other waterways, repealing a Trump-era rule federal courts threw out and environmentalists said left waterways vulnerable to pollution. The rule defines which “waters of the United States” are protected by the Clean Water Act. For decades, the term has been a flashpoint between environmental groups that want to broaden limits on pollution and farmers, builders and industry groups that say extending regulations too far is onerous for business. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/30/water-new-regulations-biden-administration-streams-wetlands  (30 Dec. 2022)

USGS remaking of the water cycle diagram Although people have long siphoned water from groundwater and diverted rivers into farm fields and industrial plants, the new diagram is the first time humans have been included in what was presented until now as a “natural” cycle.

Credit: Hayley Corson-Dosch/USGS VizLab/ EOS

The change reflects the latest 20 years of research uncovering humanity’s central role in the cycle and how to communicate it visually. “We need to change how we think about these things to be able to live and use water sustainably for our future,” said Cee Nell, a data visualization specialist at the USGS VizLab, which designed the diagram. https://eos.org/articles/not-your-childhood-water-cycle  (13 Oct. 2022)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 26 Dec. 2022 & DRP News Bulletin 19 Dec. 2022  

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

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