DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 160123: Top Court appeals for EIAs for Urban Development: Welcome, but…

The Supreme Court of India, while disposing of a petition related Chandigarh, in its order on January 10, 2023 has said: “Before we part with this judgement, we observe that it is high time that the legislature, executive, and the policymakers at the centre and state levels take note of the damages to the environment on account of haphazard development and take a call to take necessary measures to ensure that the development does not damage the environment… We therefore appeal to the Legislature, the Executive and the Policy Makers at the Centre as well as at the State levels to make necessary provisions for carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment studies before permitting urban development.”

This is most welcome. And urgently required. That India’s urban development is happening at the cost of life sustaining environment resources including rivers, water bodies, forests, wetlands among others is well known. That the government sees all requirements of environmental scrutiny as road blocks is also well known. The consequences of this are clear for all concerned, not only in case of Bangalore as cited by the Supreme Court Bench, but also in case of Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Ernakulam, Faridabad, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Indore, Joshimath, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and so on. So is there a good chance that the apex court suggestion will be followed either in letter or in spirit? Unlikely. So what is clearly required is that the apex court emphatically directs the centre and states in this regard and follows it up with ensuring its implementation.

Supreme Court Make EIA mandatory for urban development While issuing directions to preserve the heritage of ‘Corbusier’ Chandigarh, the Supreme Court on Jan. 10 2023 strongly urged the legislature and executive wings of the centre and the states to consider the harmful effects of ‘haphazard’ urban planning and take mitigative measures to ensure that the environment is not sacrificed at the altar of development.

“We therefore appeal to the Legislature, the Executive and the Policy Makers at the Centre as well as at the State levels to make necessary provisions for carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment studies before permitting urban development”, the Court stated while citing the example of Bengaluru, which was once considered to be among India’s best cities, but was now struggling, on account of such unsystematic and thoughtless city planning, to deal with the problems of heavy floods and waterlogging, shortage of potable water, nightmarish traffic jams, poor garbage disposal, and rapidly shrinking water bodies.

Taking judicial notice of the cover story published in the weekly, “India Today”, dated 24th October 2022, titled as “Bengaluru – How to Ruin India’s Best City” by Raj Chengappa with Ajay Sukumaran and said : “The warning flagged by the city of Bengaluru needs to be given due attention by the legislature, executive and the policy makers. It is high time that before permitting urban development, EIA of such development needs to be done”.

“Before we part with this judgement”, Justice Gavai wrote, “We observe that it is high time that the legislature, executive, and the policymakers at the centre and state levels take note of the damages to the environment on account of haphazard development and take a call to take necessary measures to ensure that the development does not damage the environment.” https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/make-environmental-impact-assessment-mandatory-for-urban-development-recommends-supreme-court-cites-condition-of-bengaluru-as-warning-218641  (11 Jan. 2023)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Joshimath Disaster THE UTTARAKHAND HIGH COURT HAS IMPOSED AN IMMEDIATE STAY ON THE CONSTRUCTION AND BLASTING OF ALL ONGOING HYDROPOWER PROJECTS IN THE JOSHIMATH AREA, AND HAS GIVEN INSTRUCTIONS TO CONDUCT AN INQUIRY BY UNBIASED EXPERTS.

The honourable High Court of Uttarakhand on Jan 13 2023 heard the interim relief application in an ongoing PIL filed after the incidents of 7th February, 2021 Glacial Lake outburst which turned into a flash flood and struck down two HEP namely Rishiganga Hydro Electric Power Project and NTPC’s Vishnugad Tapovan Hydropower Project which claimed life of 204 people. The petitioner who is the social, political and Chipko Movement Activist, P C Tewari, President of Uttarakhand Parivartan Party, had filed this petition seeking formation of an independent committee to analyse the impact or HEPs in upper reaches of the rivers as well as for the stay in construction of all under construction hydro power projects, till early warning systems are put in place along side of many other prayers. The Hon’ble High Court has issued very important directions with regards to land subsidence in Joshimath.

Advocate, Snigdha Tiwari, informed the honourable courts that more than 700 houses have been affected due to landslides and fissures in Joshimath., and that it is having a very serious ramification on the city which has a population of about 23,000. Giving voice to the suffering of the people there, it was argued that in the year 1976 itself, in the report of the Mishra Committee, it had become clear that Joshimath city is a city built in the area of landslides i.e. sands and stones which have been accumulated and settled over the years, and there is no main rock. Hence the town is ecological very fragile. Despite the same, again in 2010, it was warned by experts that big hydroelectric projects should not be operated in and around Joshimath area, but several such articles, reports and voices of the experts, activities landed in deaf ears  and at present the consequences of the same is in front of everyone.

Supreme Court to hear plea on Joshimath sinking on January 16 The Supreme Court on Tuesday (Jan. 10) agreed to hear a petition concerning the Joshimath “land-sinking” incident in Uttarakhand on January 16. The petition wants the incident to be declared a national disaster while blaming large-scale industrialisation as a reason. It sought immediate financial assistance and compensation for the affected people. It also sought a direction to the National Disaster Management Authority to actively support the residents of Joshimath in this challenging time. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-to-hear-plea-on-joshimath-sinking-on-january-16/article66359718.ece  (10 Jan. 2023)

PIL in Delhi HC, seeks direction to constitute high power committee under  chairmanship of retd Justice of HC. https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/joshimath-pil-in-delhi-hc-seeks-direction-to-constitute-high-power-committee-under-chairmanship-of-retd-justice-of-hc20230108140920/  (08 Jan. 2023)  

डॉ0 हेमन्त ध्यानी, साधक हैं और सुप्रीम कोर्ट द्वारा 2014 में गठित विशेषज्ञ समिति के सदस्य रह चुके हैं। DEVELOPMENT FILES से हुई बातचीत में कहते हैं, “हिमालय की तबाही को लेकर अब तो न्यायपालिका की भूमिका पर सवाल है।” https://twitter.com/KISHORE4TRIBALS/status/1613097035858862081?t=BJMhj7mhR1g-nSN5P-yqHg&s=03   (12 Jan. 2023)

Article by SANDRP coordinator published today in Business Line Newspaper on the Joshimath issue. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/development-sinks-joshimath/article66375363.ece  (13 Jan. 2023)  

Stop all hydroelectric projects in Himalayan region to avoid a Joshimath repeat: Experts  However, there is a need for more credible and accountable studies, even from the government agencies, said Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP. “The assessments seem to include wildlife and ecological aspects, but geological and hydrology impacts are being ignored. One should know the impact of debris, changes in the landscape and hydrological changes the area will affect due to construction,” he told DTE. The credibility of the studies needs improvement, said Thakkar. “If the assessment for the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydropower project included geological studies, the situation may have been different today. But the officials who conducted the studies and others responsible are not being held accountable,” he said. The appraisal quality of the studies needs to be boosted dramatically, he said. It is also essential for these studies to be conducted by independent researchers and agencies whom the project developers do not fund. “There is an urgent need to overhaul the process by including independent people who possess a track record of taking independent positions with an independent mind,” Thakkar said. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/test/news/ecological-assessment-pending-for-hydropower-projects-plans-in-himachal-87095  (12 Jan. 2023)

Excellent interview of Dr Ravi Chopra in CIVIL SOCIETY There are a couple of places where they have done some mistakes. For example in this sentence: “So, 700-800 millionlitres of water wasbeing discharged per second and the aquifer was discharging 60-70 million litres per day. At that time a report by two scientists from Garhwal University says: “This sudden enlarged descale watering of the strata has the potential of initiating ground subsidence in the region.””

It should have read: “So, 700-800 litres of water was being discharged per second and the aquifer was discharging 60-70 million litres per day. At that time a report by two scientists from Garhwal University says: “This sudden enlarged scale dewatering of the strata has the potential of initiating ground subsidence in the region.”” https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/interviews/all-good-advice-on-joshimath-was-ignored-says-ravi-chopra/  (14 Jan. 2023)

Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP, shares that the geography and hydrology of Joshimath are very fragile. “Over the past few years, many incidents occurring in and around Joshimath point towards something disastrous happening in Joshimath,” he indicates.

Thakkar talks about past disasters like the 1970 landslide, the sudden gushing of a water stream while building a tunnel for the Tapovan-Vishnugadh project, and flash floods at Raini village in 2021. He adds, “The administration ignored people’s complaints regarding cracks developing in their buildings for months. In December 2022, the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) used explosives to drill a tunnel at one of its project sites. After this, there have been reports of large quantities of water gushing out at some spots.” “Joshimath falls in the seismic zone. Hence, commissioning a project like the Tapovan-Vishnugadh one in itself is a disaster. In the upper Himalayan region too, many such projects may eventually prove fatal,” Thakkar says. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/a-sinking-town-in-uttarakhand-what-went-wrong-in-joshimath/  (11 Jan. 2023)

Over 3,700 landslides in 7 yrs; experts question EIA (IANS story): However, Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator at SANDRP, pointed to flaws in the process of carrying out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). “There has been no proper assessment of a project’s impact on the environment and vulnerability of the area. Similarly, there is no proper system of assessment that how the project is going to perform in such cases of vulnerabilities. I have written on these issues to the concerned authorities, but, nothing substantial has happened.”

– Similarly, we have failed in technical clearance. There should be cumulative impact assessment. “There is no concrete post disaster assessment even in case of major landslides. That, how it happened, how agencies performed and how it could be improved….such crucial exercises are not carried in proper manner, this did not happen properly even in major landslides of Kedarnath and Chamoli,” he added. https://latestnews.fresherslive.com/articles/over-3-700-landslides-in-7-years-experts-question-environment-impact-assessments-1137540  (14 Jan. 2023)

Webinar HIMALAYAN BLUNDER Joshimath shows the cracks in India’s Development Narrative on 16th January, at 03:00 pm. https://twitter.com/cfa_ind/status/1614198023411871745?s=20&t=9Xir_DkU2qaSqIKmCT5JIQ

Sunita Narain says here when she was part of a committee on Uttarakhand Hydropower projects: “the engineers from the prestigious IIT-Roorkee manipulated data to convince the committee that all was well… Why is it that all the institutions set up to design projects — and there are many located in this very region — are unable to provide this technical advice? Is it because their “science” has become so fossilised and arrogant that they cannot comprehend the “nature” of their business? Or is it because policymaking has become so obstinate and obdurate that it refuses to entertain positions that are not in conformity with its chosen view?” https://www.millenniumpost.in/opinion/joshimath-a-well-engineered-calamity-505142  (12 Jan. 2023)

Govt to probe if NTPC responsible for sinking? The Uttarakhand government will probe if power firm NTPC is responsible for the sinking of land in Joshimath. Eight institutes will investigate the cause of subsidence in the Himalayan town and carrying capacity of all hilly areas will be checked. The key decisions were made at a Cabinet meet to assess the situation in the “sinking” town. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/power-firm-ntpc-responsible-for-joshimath-sinking-uttarakhand-to-probe-3689272  (13 Jan. 2023)

The Centre has dismissed allegations by environmentalists and geologists that tunnelling associated with the National Thermal Power Corporation’s 520 MW Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath town may have triggered land subsidence in the region. In a letter drafted to be sent to the Uttarakhand government, the Union power ministry said the NTPC tunnel does not pass under the town and that sub-surface seepage erosion caused by natural drainage, occasional heavy rainfall, periodic seismic activities and increased construction activities appear to be the main causes of subsidence.

“We have absolutely no doubt that NTPC’s tunnelling has suddenly exacerbated land subsidence… Restoration work in the tunnel started after the Rishiganga deluge… This (crisis) is certainly linked to the restoration works,” said Mallika Bhanot, member of Ganga Ahvaan. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/joshimath-crisis-centre-s-letter-puts-focus-on-ntpc-tunnelling-101673636041249.html  (14 Jan. 2023)

Micro-seismic observatories to be set up in Joshimath this week: Union minister Jitendra Singh India’s first Micro seismic observatory to be set up around Joshimath by January 12, 2023, says Union Earth Sciences Minister. While this is a welcome move, why was this not done earlier? The report says that India has some 157 seismic observatories that can measure seismic activity higher than 3.5 on ritcher scale, but not lower than that. The lower scale seismic activity may not be as impactful, but it can have huge impact on slope stability as is the case in Joshimath. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/micro-seismic-observatories-set-up-joshimath-week-union-minister-jitendra-singh-8373957/  (11 Jan. 2023)

Cost of Tapovan Vishnugad Project has gone up to Rs 7103 Cr according to this report. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/environment/joshimath-sinking-delayed-by-a-decade-cost-of-tapovan-vishnugad-hydroelectric-power-project-increased-by-138-9842011.html  (10 Jan. 2023)

This report narrates how the Tapovan Vishnugad HEP has been in the eye of the storm now for the fifth time. Earlier it was in such a situation in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2021. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ntpc-project-in-eye-of-storm-again-5th-time-since-inception-in-2006/articleshow/96867262.cms  (10 Jan. 2023)

On Camera, 2 AM Drilling At ‘Sinking’ Joshimath Despite Ban Another report showing that drilling and crushing activities going on just outside Joshimath, where all such activities are supposed to be banned. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/joshimath-sinking-uttarakhand-town-ndtv-exclusive-on-camera-2-am-drilling-at-sinking-joshimath-amid-ban-3681707  (11 Jan. 2023)

A 2010 study done by the Dehradun-based DMMC and the Garhwal University says that on December 24, 2009, a tunnel, which lies about a kilometre below Auli (near Joshimath) was being constructed for the Tapovan Vishnugad project. The tunnel boring machine (TBM) being used punctured an aquifer over 3 km from Selang village (Selang is about 5 km from Joshimath), resulting in water discharge at the rate of about 700-800 litres per second. It was “enough to sustain 2-3 million (20-30 lakh) people” per day, the report says. Puran Billangwal (43), a Joshimath resident, said, “Soon after the incident, groundwater sources in Joshimath started drying up including ‘Sunil Kund’, which was a major freshwater source here, suddenly went dry.” While the discharge reduced over time, it never stopped completely, Billangwal said.

Joshimath built and built amid alerts: ISRO maps 5-cm dip in just 12 days. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/rapid-subsidence-recorded-joshimath-built-built-amid-alerts-isro-maps-5-cm-dip-in-just-12-days-8380715/ (14 Jan. 2023)

Locals and few independent experts believe the water that has continued to release through the puncture may have added to land subsidence. However, lack of thorough scientific studies has made it difficult to establish a direct connection between the aquifer puncture incident, drying water sources in the town, and land subsidence. Considering which, the NTPC, through a press release, has denied any role of its tunnel in adding to land sinking.

Recently, muck-laden water began seeping into the town. Sati said, “We (the residents) believe that the water is from the February 7, 2021 flood in the Rishiganga and Dhauliganga rivers, which may have entered the Tapovan Vishnugad project’s under-construction tunnel, and is oozing out in Joshimath.” The water has currently been sent for testing to establish the connections being claimed by the locals.

Following the sudden increase in land sinking, on January 5 the Chamoli administration temporarily halted the construction works on the Helang-Marwari bypass and the Tapovan Vishnugad project. The Joshimath-Auli ropeway was also instructed to stop operations. Sati said, “The order is only a temporary and doesn’t give much hope.” It is perhaps too little, too late, he added. Many houses are on the verge of collapsing, several are beyond repair. Joshimath cannot be saved now, Sati said. https://www.indiatoday.in/news-analysis/story/how-heavy-unplanned-construction-complex-geology-sinking-joshimath-uttarakhand-2319530-2023-01-10  (10 Jan. 2023)

Local environment activist Sati of Joshimath has several demands of the government. One is to stall the NTPC-run Tapovan Vishungad hydel project immediately. Others include closing the Char Dham all-weather road (Haleng-Marwari Bypass), implementing the NTPC’s pact that insures houses, and developing a committee to rehabilitate affected people of Joshimath within a set time frame.

Planning is crucial as climate change also compounds the existing concerns, according to scientists Anjal Prakash and Sundriyal.  Climate change is a force multiplier and its manifestation in the hilly states of India has been unprecedented, said Prakash. Over the last two years, Uttarakhand has witnessed numerous climate risk events such as high rainfall events triggering landslides. We need to understand that these areas are very fragile and small changes or disturbances in the ecosystem will lead to “grave disasters”, which is what is happening in Joshimath, said Prakash. “Joshimath is a very grave reminder that we are messing up with our environment to an extent that is irreversible.” https://thewire.in/environment/joshimath-himalayas-explainer-warnings-reports-construction-ntpc  (11 Jan. 2023)

Badminton Court Caves, Walls Collapse  Interestingly, the Jaypee colony of Jaypee Power Plant as NDTV describes in this report is one of the first to crash down. The cracks developed here on January 3, the report says and now they say it will crash any time. They possibly mean this is the township of the Vishnuprayag HEP, which is a Jaypee Power plant. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/joshimath-uttarakhand-exclusive-pics-show-extent-of-damage-in-sinking-joshimath-3682622  (11 Jan. 2023)

The historic town of Joshimath would not survive if the under construction Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower project neat it, is not shelved, said experts. While a lot being is talked about rehabilitation and emergency measures now, the question however remains as to why were warnings being ignored for so long? And why were such rampant constructions being allowed in the fragile and seismically active Himalayan ecology? A related question also is who is funding these projects? Where is money coming from? And the worst part is that it is happening in our name and with our money.  https://chauthiduniya.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/82a453da-0ad9-4db3-9fed-9121d8d599d7.pdf ; https://heyzine.com/flip-book/9b057028af.html#page/1 

Y P Sundriyal, geologist and professor, HNB Garhwal University, Uttarakhand blamed construction of the tunnels for hydro-power projects, saying it is being done through blasting that created tremors, shaking debris above the rocks and leading to the cracks. He, at the same time, clarified that the geologists and others are not against development, but it should not have been done at the cost of the natural ecosystem. “Opposition to any government project on scientific facts should not be considered as opposition to the government,” said Sundriyal. Other experts too have similar observations. “Joshimath is a very grave reminder that we are messing up with our environment to an extent that is irreversible,” said Anjal Prakash.

– “Our voices were blatantly ignored and our worst nightmare has come true today. The entire responsibility of Joshimath caving in is on NTPC’s Tapovan Vishnugad Hydro Power Project. Continuous blasting in the tunnels has shaken the foundation of our town. We demand instant action from the government that must include immediate stalling ofthe NTPC project, closure of Chardham all weather road (Haleng-Marwari Bypass) and implementation of NTPC’s pact that insures houses,” said Atul Satti, a local environmental activist. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/experts-blame-hydro-power-projects-mindless-growth-in-ecologically-fragile-region-for-joshimath-crisis/articleshow/96836089.cms  (08 Jan. 2023)

Joshimath was a disaster waiting to happen, but nobody paid heed writes Joydeep Gutpa of Third Pole: Less than a week ago on Jan 4, 2023, a delegation of Joshimath residents who went to Uttarakhand capital Dehradun to complain about cracks in their houses due to construction work reportedly only managed to get five minutes with the CM. “He told us our fears are unfounded and sent us away without listening to us,” a member of the delegation told The Third Pole, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

– NTPC was quick to point out on January 5 that its tunnel did not pass below Joshimath and should not be considered responsible for the disaster. But it does pass through the same aquifer that is below Joshimath. https://scroll.in/article/1041559/opinion-joshimath-was-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen-but-nobody-paid-heed  (11 Jan. 2023)

R. Sreedhar: The geology of the Himalayas is complex, diverse and risk-prone. Because of Joshimath, today almost everyone acknowledges the fragility of the Himalayas. Human activities in the fragile region need a deep scientific understanding and must be accommodated in this reality. If we learn from what natural geological processes in the Himalayas teach us and plan settlements on the basis of existing scientific knowledge, long-term solutions are definitely possible. https://science.thewire.in/environment/joshimath-band-aid-solutions-wont-work/   (13 Jan. 2023)

Mridula Ramesh:-To get unstuck, let us (rightly) descry dams and roads built in sensitive areas, but also ask how Delhi can do without Tehri’s water in May 2023, how to secure livelihoods of Joshimath’s residents, how to supply low-carbon stable electricity in a raucous democracy. But with the climate changing, the equilibrium is shifting. Who wants a dam that is overwhelmed by constant flooding and who wants to travel on roads which can slip away? The end of this road is approaching, and a new path where roads and homes are built more thoughtfully, fewer dams in fragile areas and better managing how our electricity is consumed and our water managed, is emerging. Down that path lies Joshimath’s salvation, but will we walk it? https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/joshimaths-salvation-lies-on-a-new-path-but-will-we-walk-it/  (15 Jan. 2023)

Madhav Gadgil:-The Chamoli disaster of February 2021 and Joshimath disaster are not only tragedies for the environment and the local communities, but have entailed serious economic losses far outweighing the gains from the projects imposed on these fragile mountains. https://www.newindianexpress.com/web-only/2023/jan/09/how-green-was-my-valley-the-himalayan-loot-that-triggered-the-joshimath-disaster-2536163.html  (09 Jan. 2023)

जाने-माने पर्यावरणविद् शेखर पाठक कहते हैं कि हिमालय का इलाक़ा ख़ासतौर पर जोशीमठ, जो कभी ढीले पत्थरों और मिट्टी पर खड़ा है, बड़ी परियोजनाओं के लिए है ही नहीं. इस बात को बार-बार जियोलॉजिकल सर्वे ऑफ़ इंडिया भी दोहरा चुका है, लेकिन सरकारें विकास के नाम पर उसकी अनदेखी करती रही हैं. https://www.bbc.com/hindi/india-64217195  (10 Jan. 2023)

Yet another effort has been made by the state government for a scientific study with the help of satellite imagery of the crisis in the sinking town, Bhatt, who is associated with the Chipko Movement, said. However, a detailed zonation mapping of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, warning of the lurking dangers in Joshimath, had been submitted to the state government more than two decades ago, he said. “What is needed is action, not just another study,” Bhatt said. https://www.rediff.com/news/report/joshimath-crisis-govt-ignored-warnings-says-expert/20230109.htm  (09 Jan. 2023)

Hridayesh Joshi:- Joshimath Sinking: Chronicle Of A Disaster Foretold. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/joshimath-sinking-chronicle-of-a-disaster-foretold-magazine-252967  (14 Jan. 2023)

How much is char-dham road widening responsible for Joshimath peril? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou92J0pI4wk  (13 Jan. 2023)

Dinesh C Sharma: As if the hydropower assault on the Himalayas was not enough, the Centre in 2016 launched the Char Dham Highway Project to construct 800 km of four-lane highway in the hills. The project followed the same road design as in the plains — 12-metres-wide ‘double lane with paved shoulder’. This meant widespread cutting of trees, destabilisation of valley slopes, destruction of natural springs, and dumping of muck and debris in valleys below.

The government response, even after the unfolding disaster in Joshimath, is superficial. At a meeting called by the PMO, it was mentioned that only a strip of 350 metres was affected. When the PM and PMO are monitoring projects like Char Dham, the buck should stop with them for the sinking. It’s time for remedial action and not window-dressing. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/joshimath-a-policy-disaster-469263  (11 Jan. 2023)

C. P. Rajendran: In the next decade, the Government proposes to build 66 tunnels in the Uttarakhand Himalaya and 18 tunnels are already in operation. Building these subsurface structures could result in gross damage to the environment, including the concentration of pollutants from traffic exhaust compounded by a microenvironment with no sunlight and limited dispersion in such long-distance tunnels. The rail traffic may rely on electric locomotion, but constantly generated vibrations during the train movements will keep the mountain slope eternally unstable and thus, make it vulnerable to slide at the slightest trigger. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-mountain-reeling-under-human-aggression/article66356312.ece  (10 Jan. 2023)

Bharati Chaturvedi:- The saga of Joshimath sinking is exactly the chronicle of a death foretold. In fact, it’s been foretold for 30 years, from a 1976 MC Misra Commission report to the 2006 report from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology. Both these warned against undertaking any construction or activities, because the area is vulnerable. Yet, tunnels are being blasted in this Seismic Zone V area, putting the town in great danger. Roads and other infrastructure are being proposed and dams have been built upstream. It is clear that this region cannot take anymore. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/dehradun-news/greenpiece-all-across-himalayas-india-needs-to-rethink-101673224634568.html  (09 Jan. 2023)

Patralekha Chatterjee:- On a wider scale, we need to question the prevailing model of generating large amounts of electricity in one place and then carrying it all over India. We need to ask if the region and the country will be better served by a combination of decentralised solar, wind and small hydropower. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/opinion/columnists/130123/patralekha-chatterjee-joshimaths-lesson-dont-over-develop.html  (14 Jan. 2023)

Dave Petley This appears to be a conventional landslide, almost certainly a reactivation of a part of the existing relict failure.  The landslide is affecting the main part of the town, and extends close to the toe of the slope (the InSAR data may be unreliable in the very steep sections of slope close to the river).  This might indicate that an element of the issue is toe erosion, raising the intriguing prospect that the Chamoli debris flow might have played a role.  Some of the worst affected buildings, such as the two hotels that are being demolished, appear to be in the area of the lateral scarps. 

ISRO InSAR map of deformation at Joshimath over a seven month period to November 2022.

Finally, there is a very interesting proposed paper on the NHESS website (Sundriyal et al., for comment 2023), submitted in late December, that considers the problems at Joshimath.   This paper is open for comments.  The paper highlights the state of instability and indicates that large amounts of deformation (in the order of metres) are possible.  If this were to occur then a very large number of buildings in the town will be lost. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2023/01/13/joshimath-insar/ ; (13 Jan. 2023)

Joshimath saw a rapid sinking of 5.4 cm in just 12 days, according to a report by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Satellite images released by ISRO’s National Remote Sensing Centre show the town sank 5.4 cm between December 27 and January 8. The report, quoting witnesses, said the massive soil sinking occurred due to “a rapid subsidence event that was triggered on January 2, 2022.”

– The rapid shifting of soil occurred in the central Joshimath, in the region around an Army Helipad and a temple. “The crown of the subsidence is located near Joshimath-Auli road at a height of 2,180 metre,” ISRO’s report said. “Slow subsidence up to 9 cm within the Joshimath town is recorded over a period of 7 months, between April and November 2022,” the report said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/joshimath-land-sinking-uttarakhands-joshimath-saw-rapid-sinking-in-12-days-shows-satellite-images-3688243  (30 Jan. 2023)

A day after the ISRO report revealed that Uttarakhand’s Joshimath saw a rapid sinking of 5.4 cm in just 12 days, the National Disaster Management Authority has barred government institutions from interacting with the media and sharing data on social media regarding ground subsidence. It said the organisations’ “own interpretations” of data are creating confusion. “It is observed that various government institutions are releasing data related to the subject matter in social media platform, and also they are interacting with media with their own interpretation of the situation. It is creating confusion not only among affected residents but also among citizens of the country,” the NDMA letter said, adding that the issue was highlighted during a meeting chaired by Union Home Minister on January 12.

– Pointing out that an expert group has been formed for assessment of ground subsidence at Joshimath, the disaster management agency requested several institutions, including ISRO, to “sensitise their organisation” about this matter and refrain from posting anything on social media platforms until the final report of the expert group is released by it. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/joshimath-latest-update-after-space-agency-isro-shared-satelite-images-of-sinking-town-a-gag-order-3691705  (15 Jan. 2023)

Cartoon in TOI 100123
Deccan Herald, Jan 14 2023

Joshimath, neighbouring areas, sink 2.5 inches every year Satellite images collected from July 2020 to March 2022 show the entire area is slowly sinking. The red dots mark the sinking parts. They are spread across the Valley and not limited to Joshimath, data shows. Joshimath and its surrounding areas have been sinking at the rate of 6.5 cm or 2.5 inch per year, a two-year study by the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing has found. The Dehradoon-based institute has been using satellite data of the area, which sees a lot of tectonic activity and is very sensitive. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/every-year-joshimath-and-neighbourhoood-sinks-by-2-5-inch-study-finds-3680887  (11 Jan. 2023)

While slow subsidence up to 9 cm within the town was recorded over a period of 7 months since April 2022, Cartosat-2S satellite data acquired by ISRO found the area sunk by around 5 cm in just 12 days since December 27. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/rapid-subsidence-recorded-joshimath-built-built-amid-alerts-isro-maps-5-cm-dip-in-just-12-days-8380715/  (14 Jan. 2023)

Researchers at Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, identified three other potential contributing factors to regional disasters, particularly in the Uttarakhand region of the northwest Himalayas: Reducing green cover, decreasing glacial area and increasing radiative surface temperature. The researchers compared the satellite data of land use and cover over 30 years (1991-2020) to track the spatio-temporal changes over these years.

– In 1991, nearly 4,316 sq km was the total extent of the moderately dense forest area captured via satellite imagery. In 2020, it decreased to around 3,856 sq km and 10.6 per cent of this was observed between 2001 and 2011. In 1991, approximately 6,418 sq km was the total dense forest area. In 2020, it decreased to about 6,073 sq km. Of this, a 5.3 per cent decrease mostly occurred from 2011-2020. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/natural-disasters/grasslands-forests-and-glaciers-decreased-in-the-kedarnath-joshimath-region-over-3-decades-87065  (11 Jan. 2023)

Warnings that Joshimath was situated on an old landslide zone and could sink if development continued unabated were ignored. By 2013, 292 big hydro projects were under construction or planned for India’s Himalayan region, one every 10 kilometres or so. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/opinion/joshimath-disaster-time-for-a-moratorium-on-dam-building-in-the-himalayas-9840711.html  (10 Jan. 2023)

– “This MCT-2 zone has reactivated, which is causing the sinking of ground in Joshimath and no geologist can predict when this reactivation will happen. We have been warning governments for two decades now, but it was all ignored till now. You cannot fight geology, you cannot fight and win with nature,” says Dr Bahadur Singh Kotlia, Professor of Geology at Kumaun University. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/joshimath-sinking-uttarakhand-crisis-uttarkashi-nainital-also-at-risk-of-sinking-2318863-2023-01-08  (09 Jan. 2023)

Uttarkashi, Nainital also at risk of sinking, say experts Land subsidence is one of the biggest overlooked environmental consequences as human-led activity increases without any regard for the geology of the local region. Joshimath is experiencing a similar situation with the land underneath moving because of weak foundation and enhanced toe erosion due to the incessant rainfall and floods in the recent past. Human activity remains the biggest contributor. However, the prime reason behind this sudden trigger in the situation is the reactivation of the Main Central Thrust (MCT-2). It is the geological fault where the Indian Plate has pushed under the Eurasian Plate along the Himalayas.

The state has a long history of natural disasters. More than 1,300 people lost their lives in just five adverse events – quakes and landslides- between 1880 and 1999. Landslides, cloud bursts and flash floods claimed at least 433 lives between 2000 and 2009, according to official data. Between 2010 and 2020, 1,312 people were killed in such extreme weather events. Some 400 villages have been marked unsafe for living. In 2021 alone, landslides, flash floods and avalanches claimed more than 300 lives in Uttarakhand, according to a study by Sushil Khanduri, a disaster management official. “These are mainly attributed to changes in the weather regime and abnormal rainfall patterns together with indiscriminate manner of human initiatives in high-risk areas,” Mr Khanduri noted. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-64201536  (10 Jan. 2022)

Joshimath, Darjeeling, Sikkim … it’s time to save our hills Anand Soondas https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/broken-back-mountains-joshimath-darjeeling-sikkim-/articleshow/96861043.cms  (09 Jan. 2023)

Other Uttarakhand towns at risk listed here: Tehri, Mana, Dharasu, Harshil, Gauchar, Pithoragarh. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/not-just-joshimath-these-six-towns-in-uttarakhand-are-also-at-the-risk-of-sinking-9863731.html  (14 Jan. 2023)  

The unfolding Uttarakhand disaster — sadly a manmade and preventable one — has put the spotlight on a similar hazardous situation prevailing at McLeodganj in the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. The alarm bells are ringing loud as attention is directed towards the increasing occurrences of landslides, sinking of the main McLeodganj-Dharamsala road, the recent cave-in of a market and the yet-to-be-rectified drainage system. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/joshimaths-in-the-making-469546  (12 Jan. 2022) Regions in Himachal h facing Joshimath-like threat: CM Sukhu. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/regions-in-himachal-pradesh-facing-joshimath-like-threat-cm-sukhu-101673806034931.html  (16 Jan. 2023)

Very touching article by some close to Joshimath. https://www.bhaskar.com/opinion/news/lakshmi-prasad-pant-column-not-joshimath-religion-history-natures-triveni-is-dying-130780027.html  (10 Jan. 2023)

People from Mana, which is the last Indian village on the India-China Border, also visited Joshimath on Wednesday (Jan. 11) in solidarity with the town’s people. “We are people of snow. How will we live in the plains? We can’t live anywhere else. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/we-belong-in-snow-dont-force-us-to-plains-joshimath-cries-in-songs/articleshow/96923832.cms  (12 Jan. 2023)

Arunachal Pradesh Indigenous People Fear Hydropower Projects For the indigenous people of northeast India, large dams often appear as ‘ticking water bombs.’ India has over three dozen large dams with a cumulative installed capacity of over 22,000 megawatts in the pipeline for this region, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. A large section of local residents fear immense adverse impacts on safety, livelihood, environment and biodiversity.

The controversial 2,000 mw Lower Subansiri project in Assam, currently India’s biggest hydel power project, would be dwarfed once India manages to build the two proposed dams, each of about 3,000 mw installed capacity, in the Dibang river valley of Arunachal Pradesh. This report from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim documents the local people’s protests and apprehensions around India’s mega hydel push in the northeastern region, part of two of the world’s 36 global biodiversity hotspots, sitting on India’s most-active seismic zones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaI-pQmINZQ  (Dec. 2022)

Govt to hand over five hydropower projects to two CPSUs The Arunachal Pradesh government has decided to hand over five terminated hydropower projects with a generation capacity of 2820 MW to two Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs), officials said here on Jan 11 2023. These five projects would require an investment of Rs 40,000 crore in next 5-7 years. Of the five projects, two — Naying (1,000 MW) and Hirong (500 MW) — would be handed over to NEEPCO; and Emini (500MW), Amulin (420MW) and Minundon (400MW) to the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. The state cabinet in its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday approved the indicative procedure for transferring the stalled hydropower projects to CPSUs.

– “An action plan has been prepared to commence work on 13 priority projects with 12,343 MW generation capacities. This would lead to an investment of Rs1.5 lakh crore and would provide revenue of Rs 2,000 crore to the state and around Rs 350 crore per year for LAD,” an official statement said. https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/arunachal-govt-to-hand-over-five-hydropower-projects-to-two-cpsus-123011100612_1.html  (11 Jan. 2023) The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by CM Pema Khandu at the state secretariat here on Tuesday (Jan. 10). https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/01/11/govt-decides-to-hand-over-5-stalled-hydel-projects-to-cpsus/  (11 Jan. 2023)

Meghalaya CM counters criticism on Ganol hydro project Under pressure of criticisms, CM Conrad Sangma has clarified that one unit of the recently inaugurated Ganol Hydropower project has been made functional while other two units will be made functional in the next 15-20 days. The statement comes from the CM following criticism regarding the project alleging that it is not functioning fully. Maintaining that the project would slowly move forward, the CM said power generated from the project has not been put into the grid since tests need to be conducted and stability has to be tested. https://theshillongtimes.com/2023/01/12/cm-counters-criticism-on-ganol-hydro-project/  (12 Jan. 2022)

Himachal Pradesh Cracks in houses in Bajoli-Holi HEP tunnel area A staircase ends mid-air, the ground below has slipped away. A pillar has unmoored itself from the balcony above. This isn’t a scene from Joshimath but Jharauta, a village about 400km from Shimla in Chamba district. Unlike Joshimath, where 25,000 lives are at stake, Jharauta has remained out of the news because it is tiny – only about 200 people live here. But as in Joshimath, the needle of suspicion in Jharauta also points to a hydropower project.

– The village lies below the 15 km-long and 5.6 m-wide tunnel of the 180 Mw Bajoli-Holi hydro project. Residents say they first noticed cracks on the walls of their houses in the winter of 2021, right after a big leakage in the tunnel. At least six houses collapsed and many others became unsafe to live in, so the people shifted to temporary shelters and even spent nights in tents.

– A year on, seepage from the tunnel continues and fissures have appeared on the village land. “The fissures are hardly 100m from the village. The entire village is sinking and it might get worse during the monsoon,” says Anoop Kumar, a resident.Chamba Jharauta. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-chamba-a-village-cracks-under-shadow-of-another-hydro-tunnel/articleshow/96952802.cms  (13 Jan. 2023)

HIMDHARA Emerging youth resistance: ‘No Means No’. https://reframe2022.mhi.org.in/engage/from-collective-trauma-to-collective-action-2/

Maharashtra PMC to start own hydro plant on Mula-Mutha Pune Municipal Corporation is all set to start its own 350 kW hydroelectric power plant by using the water from Mula-Mutha river that cuts across Pune city. The power station is proposed at Bund Garden weir in Pune city. “The power station has been planned on the left bank of the weir and the entire land for the project is in possession of the civic body,” said Srinivas Kandul, chief engineer of PMC. The energy generation is estimated at 2.46 Million Units (MUs) per annum.

– Bund Garden weir has been constructed across the confluence junction of the Mula-Mutha- Pawana rivers, which are the tributaries of the Bhima river in the Krishna river basin. The weir has been renovated to cater to downstream irrigation needs by utilising treated sewage water which is collected through the weir. There are several sewerage treatment plants located in the PMC and the neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) areas that drain treated water into respective parent rivers or ‘nallas’ (canals). The water is then collectively stored at the Bund-Garden weir.”

– During the no-flood period, ascertained as 335 days in a year, the discharges from all STPs and post-monsoon flows are collected across the weir while the spillway gates are closed. “The difference in water level between upstream and downstream is almost constant and is 4.2m. All STP releases and free catchment inflow are totalling 842mld, thus providing 9.75 cumecs discharge into the river. This offers a good site for continuous power generation of 306 kW for 335 days.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-infra-watch-pmc-to-start-own-hydropower-plant-on-mula-mutha-river-8377116/  (12 Jan. 2023)

Study Risk of reservoir operations under the warming climate Notwithstanding major hydropower dams in India are in diverse climatic regions and exposed to risks due to the warming climate, potential changes in hydroclimate remain largely unexplored.

Using observations and climate projections, we show the hydroclimatic changes in the upstream catchments and their implications for the hydropower generation of 46 major hydropower dams in India. https://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(23)00063-9  (13 Jan. 2023)

MoEF Key decisions in Minutes of the EAC on River Valley Proejct held on Dec 15, 2022:

1. Singanamala Pumped Storage Project (800 MW), in 480.65 Ha at Salakam cheruvu Vil, Teh Singanamala, Dist Ananthapuramu, (Andhra Pradesh) by New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of AP Ltd Project–Terms of Refrence: Approved

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

3. Damanganga (Ekdare) – Godavari intrastate link project at Vil Ekdare, Teh Peint, Dist Nashik (Mah) by National Water Development Agency- Terms of Reference: Approved

4. Lower Orr Dam project under Ken-Betwa Link Project Phase II (90000 CCA) in 3007.2 ha at Vil Didoni, Teh Chanderi, Dist Ashoknagar, Madhya Pradesh by National Water Development Agency – Site visit report: The EAC after detailed deliberation on the EAC Sub- Committee site visit report recommended that the Ministry may consider for taking necessary action on the violation against the project proponent as per law. The Project Authorities may conduct study as per following additional ToR for assessment of environmental damage caused due to start of construction of project without obtaining prior Environmental Clearance, in terms of Office Memorandum dated 7th July, 2021 and submit revised EIA/EMP report for further consideration of the proposal under the provisions of EIA Notification, 2006, as amended http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/0501202391239719Final_MOM_38_EAC_15_December_2022(27Dec2022).pdf 

DAMS

Polavaram Project Centre directs AP to conduct joint survey with Telangana on backwater effect Following the Telangana government’s appeal to the Centre to conduct a study to observe the effects on the backwaters of Godavari River due to the construction of Polavaram Irrigation Project in Andhra Pradesh, the Ministry of Jal Shakti on Friday (Jan. 06) wrote a letter directing the Andhra Pradesh government to conduct a joint survey on the effect of Polavaram backwaters. Since the meeting of riparian States — Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha on Godavari basin is scheduled to take place on January 13, the Ministry of Jal Shakti’s direction to AP has gained significance as Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh have been complaining that there was a big difference between the permissions obtained for the construction of the Polavaram project and the ongoing works, which would result in flooding in their respective States.

– The States claimed that the technical studies on backwater effect were based on the river cross sections surveyed prior to 1990 and that the river course had undergone several changes in the last 30 years due to climate change, land use and sedimentation. Therefore, a fresh survey has to be conducted on the cross sections of the river upstream of Polavaram to assess the correct discharge of river from the project. https://telanganatoday.com/centre-directs-ap-to-conduct-joint-survey-with-telangana-on-polavaram-backwater-effect  (07 Jan. 2023)

Project gates’ closure affects fishermen. https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/polavaram-irrigation-project-gates-closure-affects-fishermen-777191  (11 Jan. 2023)

Kaleshwaram Project SC allows review of proposal for additional water lifting In a significant ruling that benefits the Telangana government, the Supreme Court on Jan 9, 2023 amended its previous orders maintaining a status quo on the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) and allowed the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) and the Central Water Commission (CWC) to review proposals for the lifting of an additional 1 tmcft of water from the Godavari river through KLIS. Any permissions granted by the CWC will be subject to the final judgement of the Supreme Court. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2023/jan/10/sc-allows-review-of-proposal-for-additionalwater-liftingfrom-godavari-through-klis-2536262.html  (10 Jan. 2023)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Linking About vultures in Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Their habitat will almost fully be destroyed by the proposed Panna TIger Reserve, but the EIA for the project does not mention this impact at all!

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Mahadayi Water Dispute Traditional fishermen cast their net of support for Mhadei  The fight for Mhadei which is being taken to the Chief Minister’s doorstep at Sanquelim, has been strengthened by the pledge of support for Goa’s strongest sons of the soil and their families- its fishermen. The traditional fishermen from Assolna, Velim, Betul and Chinchinim issued a clarion call of ‘chalo Sanquelim’, urging the public, especially the fishermen community to attend the mega public meeting on Mhadei that is scheduled to be held in Sanquelim on January 16 2023. Members of the association also emphasised on how important Mhadei river is to Goa and they demanded that action be taken to ensure that the river is protected and that the Karnataka government is not allowed to divert the water. https://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/Traditional-fishermen-cast-their-net-of-support-for-Mhadei/199416  (12 Jan. 2023)

The BJP ruled States of Karnataka and Goa are at loggerheads over a water diversion project on River Mahadayi, reflecting the “true” side of the double engine governance boasted by the saffron party. Leaders from both the States are engaged in verbal duels ever since the Karnataka government announced its decision to go ahead with the project. Karnataka Water Resources Minister Govind Kajrol reportedly said that tenders would be floated to construct the Kalasa-Banduri project. https://telanganatoday.com/mahadayi-river-dispute-bjp-ruled-karnataka-goa-at-loggerheads  (09 Jan. 2023)

Krishna Water Dispute No need to notify KWDT-2: Telangana tells SC Telangana on Wednesday (Jan. 11) informed Supreme Court that Karnataka had not utilised its share of 173 tmcft of water allocated to it by Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal (KWDT)-1 in 1976 and there was no need to notify KWDT-2. A bench of Justices Suryakant and V Ramasubramanian started hearing Krishna basin states Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra petitions. Karnataka and Maharashtra have sought early notification of the KWDT-2 final award delivered in 2013, while Telangana and Andhra Pradesh wanted fresh allocation of water following the bifurcation. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/no-need-to-notify-kwdt-2-telangana-tells-sc-1180121.html  (11 Jan. 2023)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS

A luxury cruise has been hailed as the start of a new age of Indian tourism. But conservationists fear the impact of increased river traffic and pollution. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/13/india-worlds-longest-river-cruise-endangered-ganges-dolphin-aoe  (13 Jan. 2023)

वाराणसी से डिब्रूगढ़ तक गंगा विलास यात्रा शुरू होने के बाद प्रयागराज और काशी के बीच गंगा की ड्रेजिंग पर मंथन होगा। गंगा की ड्रेजिंग के लिए मुख्यमंत्री कार्यालय से भारतीय अंतर्देशीय जलमार्ग प्राधिकरण के प्रयागराज कार्यालय में आया पत्र पटना के क्षेत्रीय कार्यालय भेज दिया गया है। अब भारतीय अंतर्देशीय जलमार्ग प्राधिकरण के क्षेत्रीय कार्यालय को गंगा की ड्रेजिंग पर निर्णय लेना है। क्षेत्रीय कार्यालय गंगा की ड्रेजिंग का निर्णय लेकर मुख्यमंत्री कार्यालय से आए पत्र के साथ एक प्रस्ताव नोएडा स्थित भारतीय अंतर्देशीय जलमार्गप्राधिकरण के मुख्यालय भेजेगा। मुख्यालय से हरी झंडी मिलनेके बाद क्षेत्रीय कार्यालय ड्रेजिंग पर खर्च के लिए बजट की मांग करेगा। प्राधिकरण के स्थानीय कार्यालय के पास यहां से मिर्जापुर के बीच गंगा की गहराई का डाटा उपलब्ध है। इसी डाटा के आधार पर क्रूज चलानेके लिए गंगा की गहराई बढ़ाई जाएगी। एक अधिकारी ने बताया कि हर महीने गंगा की गहराई का सर्वे होता है। कई जगह गहराई बहुत कम है। ड्रेजिंग के जरिए गहराई बढ़ाने से पहले गंगा में चलने वाले क्रूज के आकार की जानकारी लेनी होगी। क्रूज के अनुसार ही गंगा की गहराई बढ़ाई जाएगी। प्राधिकरण के निदेशक रमेशचंद्र पांडेय ने बताया कि गंगा की गहराई बढ़ानेके लिए मुख्यमंत्री के कार्यालय से पत्र आने की जानकारी हुई है। गंगा विलास क्रूज की यात्रा शुरू होनेके बाद प्रयागराज-वाराणसी रूट पर गंगा में ड्रेजिंग पर बैठक होगी। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/prayagraj/story-after-the-ganga-vilas-yatra-there-will-be-a-churn-on-dredging-7622460.html  (12 Jan. 2023)

वाराणसी से डिब्रूगढ़ के लिए रवाना हुआ गंगा विलास क्रूज (Ganga Vilas Cruise) बिहार के छपरा में फंस गया। मामला जिले के डोरीगंज इलाके का है, जहां गंगा नदी में पानी कम होने की वजह से क्रूज को किनारे पर लाने में मुश्किल हो रही है। इस सूचना के मिलते ही प्रशासन तुरंत अलर्ट हुआ। एसडीआरएफ की टीम छोटी नाव के जरिए सैलानियों को चिरांद लाने की कोशिश में जुट गई है। ये सैलानी चिरांद के पुरातात्विक महत्व को देखेंगे। https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/bihar/saran/ganga-vilas-cruise-got-stuck-chhapra-bihar-sdrf-took-step-tourists-taken-to-chirand-archaeological-site/articleshow/97021371.cms  (16 Jan. 2023)   

गंगा विलास क्रूज़: जानिए क्या है ख़ास और बिहार में क्यों हो रहा है विरोध https://www.bbc.com/hindi/india-64247542  (12 Jan. 2023)

URBAN RIVERS

Mula-Mutha; Pune RFD will do more harm than good Sarang Yadwadkar: Unfortunately, the decision makers are ignoring this vital difference and converting the precious rivers into lifeless canals. We have tried innumerable times to discuss with the authorities concerned on logical and scientific grounds. Through the medium of Pune Mirror, we again invite them to debate with us on any open forum on the River Front Development (RFD) project. Let the truth come out.

Today it is Joshimath in the news for land subsidence and tomorrow it could be Pune for floods. The monsoons have been erratic, with sudden downpours or cloudbursts. And here the PMC is reducing the river width by 40 percent. They say that they have studied it, got the requird clearances and approvals. They also claim that floods will recede by pinching rivers. Every single word is a hogwash.

Their studies are based on unverified assumptions as they say. Their clearances are fraudulent and approvals a farce. Ultimately, by paying for the city’s river project, the common citizen of Pune is buying his own death. The consultants, contractors, bureaucrats and even the corporators will wash their hands of responsibility in case of any untoward incident. The common citizen will be the victim. https://punemirror.com/pune/others/ready-for-open-debate/cid1673548684.htm  (13 Jan. 2023)

Sabarmati; Ahmedabad HC directs govt to take immediate action on pollution The Gujarat High Court has taken up the issue of polluted water of the Sabarmati River. The court has directed the Gujarat government to take note of the issue that needs immediate action. Advocate Hemang Shah informed the Gujarat High Court about polluted water of the Sabarmati River. Shah also brought samples from the polluted river and submitted them to court. Next hearing on January 13, 2023. https://www.indiatoday.in/amp/law/story/gujarat-high-court-takes-up-sabarmati-river-pollution-issue-2319751-2023-01-10  (10 Jan. 2023)

RIVERS

India Rivers Week 2022 videos are now live on you tube at this link – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJ8rxzbM8khcrr-k46vtvbY5JAyUc2xsu  The timestamps for different sections will happen over time.

EDIT Rejuvenating rivers needs political will Hindustan Times (Jan 13, 2023) rightly emphasizes that if Yamuna is to be cleaned than we will need to go beyond STPs and also institute accountability. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/rejuvenating-rivers-needs-political-will-101673533814835.html   (12 Jan. 2023)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh 29 STPs not complying with standards  This says as per NMCG report 26% of STPs in UP were not complying with standards in Sept 2022, leaving Ganga dirty. Moreover, 8 of the STPs are not functioning. Furhter, there is gap of over 1836 MLD between existing STP capacity and sewage generated. What will be the fate of Ganga under the circumstances? https://indianexpress.com/article/india/clean-ganga-29-sewage-treatment-plants-in-up-8376982/lite/   (13 Jan. 2023)

प्रयागराज में गंगा-यमुना में गिरने वाले नालों के पानी की जांच पूरी हो गई। नालों के पानी की सफाई को लेकर न्यायालय की नाराजगी के बाद जिलाधिकारी संजय कुमार खत्री ने तीन विभागों की तीन सदस्यीय जांच टीम गठित की थी। प्रशासन, प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड और नगर निगम के अधिकारियों की टीम ने शनिवार से बुधवार तक गंगा-यमुना में गिरने वाले 60 नाले और 7 STPs की जांच की। जांज रिपोर्ट जिलाधिकारी को सौंपी जाएग https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/prayagraj/story-investigation-of-drains-falling-in-ganga-yamuna-completed-7620439.html  (12 Jan. 2023)

अधूरी तैयारियों के बीच छह जनवरी से शुरू हो रहे माघ मेला से पहले दो दिन से रसूलाबाद से संगम तक घाटों पर गंगा जल के लाल दिखाई पड़ने से खलबली मच गई है। संगम क्षेत्र में सुबह से शाम तक रहने वालों का दावा है कि गंगा में कानपुर और उन्नाव सेटेनरियों का पानी छोड़ा गया है। माघ मेला से पहले टेनरियों का पानी निस्तारित करने के आरोप लग रहे हैं। माघ मेला के प्रथम स्नान पर्व से पहले गंगा में डिस्चार्ज बढ़ाया गया है। कानपुर बैराज से रविवार (Jan. 01) सुबह लगभग साढ़े सात हजार क्यूसेक पानी छोड़ा गया। इससे पहले लगभग पांच हजार क्यूसेक बैराज से छोड़ा जा रहा था। सिंचाई विभाग के इंजीनयिरों का कहना है कि मंगलवार (Jan. 03) दोपहर तक बैराज का पानी पहुंचने की संभावना है। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/story-ganga-river-water-suddenly-become-red-before-magh-mela-monitoring-increased-prayagraj-7572379.html  (02 Jan. 2023)

मकर संक्रांति का शाही स्नान कल होना है, इसके बावजूद मिश्रा कॉलोनी से लेकर जाजमऊ चंदन घाट के आगे तक कई छोटे-बड़े नाले सीधे गंगा में गिर रहे हैं। जबकि शासन ने माघ मेले को लेकर सभी नालों की टेपिंग कराने के निर्देश दिये थे। इसके बावजूद जिम्मेदारों ने इस ओर कोई ध्यान नहीं दिया। जिससे स्नान के दौरान श्रद्धालुओं की आस्था को ठेस पहुंचेगी।

हर बार जिला प्रशासन के निर्देश पर पालिका की ओर से बडे नालों की टेपिंग कराई जाती थी लेकिन इस बार स्नान को लेकर पालिका गंभीर नहीं दिख रही है और नालों की टेपिंग तक नहीं कराई। शाही स्नान से पहले शासन ने डकारी एसटीपी का कार्य पूरा करने के निर्देश दिये थे, अभी तक एसटीपी का कार्य पूरा नहीं हो सका है। जिससे नालों का गंदा पानी सीधे गंगा में गिर रहा है। वहीं इंद्रा नगर का एसटीपी का कार्य भी पूरा नहीं हो सका है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/uttar-pradesh/unnao/news/the-royal-bath-of-makar-sankranti-is-to-be-held-tomorrow-the-result-of-the-officers-meeting-is-clear-130793665.html  (13 Jan. 2023)

उन्नाव में मकर संक्रान्ति और माघ पूर्णिमा के अवसर पर गंगा जल को अविरल निर्मल रखने के लिए प्रशासन और प्रदूषण विभाग ने बड़े दावे किए थे, लेकिन प्रशासन के ये दावे हवाई साबित हो रहे हैं. राष्ट्रीय ग्रीन ट्राइब्यूनल के आदेशों की खुलेआम धज्जियां उड़ाई जा रही हैं. गंगा में सीधे गंदे नालों का पानी गिराया जा रहा है. उन्नाव के शुक्लागंज स्थित शक्ति नगर क्षेत्र से गंगा नदी की एक्सक्लूसिव तस्वीरें सामने आई हैं. जहां बड़ा नाला सीधे गंगा में गिर रहा है. https://www.abplive.com/states/up-uk/unnao-magh-mela-2023-sewerage-water-dumped-in-ganga-read-story-ann-2307468  (13 Jan. 2023)

Uttarakhand Curb ecological destruction during Char Dham yatra: NGT panel A Joint Committee appointed by the NGT has slammed what it termed “gross mismanagement of solid waste, liquid waste and plastic waste pollution and the appalling lack of infrastructure to deal with the huge influx of pilgrims and tourist population during peak seasons” on the Char Dham Yatra in a report released January 13, 2023. The panel has made several recommendations including the commissioning of a study on the impact of tourism on biodiversity in the region as well as strict enforcement of waste management rules, according to a statement by the Public Policy Foundation and People for Animals.

The panel made some scathing observations. It said a common practice executed by Zilla Panchayats of the respective pilgrim track regions involved the dumping of solid and plastic waste into Nagar Palika trenching areas in flagrant violation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. It noted “overflowing soak pit toilets, insufficient number of public toilets, poor strength of manpower (sweepers) to clean the tracks, non-existent disposal mechanism to deal with equine dung, wastewater and equine carcasses and the overall lack of regulation of the number of equines plying the track”.  The NGT’s Principal Bench will assess the report January 25. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/curb-colossal-ecological-destruction-during-char-dham-yatra-ngt-appointed-panel-87120  (13 Jan. 2023)

Over 23 lakh pilgrims visited the Char Dham sites between April and November last year. The committee submitted its report to the NGT on December 8. Formed following an August 12 order of the NGT on Urvashi Shobhna Kachari vs Union of India, the committee surveyed four pilgrimage sites on the Char Dham trail – Kedarnath, Yamunotri, Gangotri and Hemkund Sahib. The panel’s report ‘On ground evaluation of the issue of colossal environmental degradation in the prominent pilgrim track regions of Uttarakhand’ stated: “During the (Committee’s) visit, it was observed that there appeared to be more pilgrims than infrastructure for managing pilgrim traffic, solid garbage, plastic waste, and the manure of mules or horses.’’ Equine entry on the trek routes was not regulated. “A large number of animals can cause ecological disturbance in the pristine areas,” it stated. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/more-pilgrims-than-infra-waste-disposal-lacking-ngt-panel-8380735/  (14 Jan. 2023)

YAMUNA Haryana Panipat factories top polluters A total of 413 industries in the state have been discharging untreated effluents into the Yamuna, a survey by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has found. These industries will now be asked to submit in 30 days a plan on how they intend to stop the discharge of pollutants into the river. Industries dealing in textiles, oil and refinery, fertilisers, chemicals, and food and beverages operate in clusters in Gurugram, Ballabgarh, Faridabad, Panipat and Sonipat. Since these factories use a huge quantity of chemicals for production, they end up generating effluents that are high in ammoniacal nitrogen and nitrates. In the absence of any treatment plants in most of these units, the polluting effluents end up in the Yamuna and increase its toxicity.

The CPCB survey inspected 924 gross polluting industries (GPI) across the state and tested their effluents. Of these, the samples of 413 industries were found to have high contents of ammoniacal nitrogen and nitrate. At 45%, industries in Panipat were found to be discharging the highest quantity of pollutants. While Gurugram was second on the list, accounting for 25.2% of the discharges, Faridabad contributed 15.2%, Sonipat 10.1% and Bhiwani 2.3%. In numbers, 181 of the polluting industries were identified in Panipat, 100 in Gurugram, 32 in Faridabad and the remaining in Sonipat, Jhajjar and Rohtak. Among sectors, textile accounted for 64.2% of the polluting industries discharging effluents into the Yamuna.

The CPCB asked its Haryana counterpart to ensure that all the identified industries curtailed the discharge of ammoniacal nitrogen, nitrate and phosphate and adopted a cleaner technology to treat waste. Haryana pollution board officials, however, said they would act accordingly to reduce the effluents into the Yamuna. “Haryana has many unauthorised units. There is hardly any action on such units,” said Varun Gulati, a Delhi-based activist. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/panipat-factories-top-yamuna-polluters-those-in-city-second/articleshow/96925884.cms  (12 Jan. 2023)

The untreated effluent being discharged into Yamuna from Karnal’s Indri block is a major source of pollution in the river water. As per reports, around 70 MLD untreated effluent is coming from the industrial city of Yamunanagar and mixes in Yamuna near Nabipur village via Dhanaura escape canal. Even as the issue was highlighted in almost all monthly meetings of the River Rejuvenation Committee, as of now, there is nothing visible on ground to check the flow of toxic water into the river.

The status report of the implementation of river action plans submitted in the monthly meeting on November 2, highlighted that the sewage generation in the industrial cities is much higher than the quantum of sewage reaching up to STPs, “as in Yamunanagar 29.30 MLD sewage was generated but the actual discharge reaching the STPs was 43.70 MLD. And in Panipat, the actual discharge reaching to the STPs was 42MLD against the 81.80 MLD sewage generated”. “Also, of total 59 STPs in the Yamuna catchment, only six STPs have been upgraded and rest do not meet the prescribed standards. Only 21 STPs are complying even though the deadlines for most STPs have already expired,” reads the report. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/haryana-told-to-check-pollution-in-river-yamuna-101640891204876.html  (31 Dec. 2021)

यमुना प्रदूषण के मुद्दे पर हरियाणा राज्य के प्रदूषण निकायों को 30 दिनों में एक ठोस एक्शन प्लान देने का केंद्रीय प्रदूषण कंट्रोल बोर्ड की तरफ से निर्देश दिया गया है। ठोस जवाब नहीं मिलने पर बोर्ड की ओर से राज्य की टेक्सटाइल इकाइयों को लेकर बड़ा फैसला लिया जाएगा। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/haryana/news/haryana-cm-manohar-lal-controversy-yamuna-pollution-cpcb-130781608.html  (10 Jan. 2023) सीपीसीबी ने वर्ष 2021-2022 के दौरान दिल्ली प्रदूषण नियंत्रण समिति की टीम के साथ दिल्ली में और हरियाणा राज्य प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड की टीम को साथ लेकर हरियाणा में यमुना की स्थिति का जायजा लिया। दिल्ली में यमुना बेसिन की 210 औद्योगिक इकाइयों का निरीक्षण किया गया, जिनमें से 96 में अमोनिकल नाइट्रोजन और नाइट्रेट पाया गया। जबकि हरियाणा में 924 इकाइयों का निरीक्षण किया गया एवं इनमें से 413 इकाइयों के डिस्चार्ज वेस्ट में अमोनिकल नाइट्रोजन व नाइट्रेट मिला। https://www.jagran.com/delhi/new-delhi-city-ncr-delhi-cpcb-seeks-answer-from-delhi-and-haryana-on-pollution-in-yamuna-allegations-on-textile-industries-23289423.html  (09 Jan. 2023)

Uttar Pradesh Resembling some ice-sheet, thick foam layer which is a sign of untreated toxic effluents; floating in Yamuna at Gokul barrage in sacred Mathura city where the holy river is worshipped most. (13.01.2023 Video) https://fb.watch/i4yxlC8oh2/

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Telangana Rare Otters sighted in Godavari Rare and endangered giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) were sighted in the waters of the Godavari River near Kalamadugu village in Jannaram mandal on Tuesday (Jan. 10) , surprising many. Some tribals, who were taking part in gathering of water from Godavari at Hasthanamadugu near Kalamadugu village as part of Nagoba Jatara, were surprised to spot the semiaquatic mammal in the riverbed. Jannaram Forest Divisional Officer S Madhav Rao told ‘Telangana Today’ that the otters were sighted in this region for the first time. He said forest staff had not seen the mammal in this region so far. He added that he had no clue as to why and from where they had come and the discovery of the rare mammals indicated rich biodiversity of this region.

A giant river otter spotted in riverbed of Godavari near Kalamadugu village in Jannaram mandal. Telangana Today

The otters used to inhabit a crocodile sanctuary at Shivvaram village in Jaipur mandal, about 100 kilometres from Kalamadugu, but were not spotted in recent history. They are classified as ‘Endangered’ in the IUCN Red List (2008) and have been included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) since 1973. https://telanganatoday.com/telangana-rare-and-endangered-giant-river-otters-sighted-in-mancherial  (11 Jan. 2023)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Andhra Pradesh Polavaram Irrigation Project gates’ closure affects fishermen Closure of Polavaram dam gates snatched away the livelihood source of fishermen. They lamented that they couldn’t catch fish in large numbers in Godavari River for the last two months and incurring loss as they have to spend on diesel for the boats. There are about 9,200 fishermen in West Godavari district as per Fisheries department officials. A few years ago, fishermen enjoyed a roaring business as Godavari fish was tasty and in high demand. But floods and rains including closure of dam gates in the recent months have made them lose their livelihood. https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/polavaram-irrigation-project-gates-closure-affects-fishermen-777191  (11 Jan. 2023)

SAND MINING

Madhya Pradesh Mining threatens Chambal Species The future of the gharial, red-crowned roofed turtle, Indian Skimmer and several other species of the Chambal River is threatened by the Madhya Pradesh government’s plan to legalise sand mining on the banks, a crucial part of their habitat. Riverside observers report an increase in illegal sand mining at the river over five years. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, this activity greatly accelerated as people returned to the area and figured out ways to make money. Everyone with a tractor and trolley at the ready, began excavating sand from the Chambal for cash in hand. A SANDRP report notes large-scale illegal sand mining throughout the NCS across shorelines in MP, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.  https://sanctuarynaturefoundation.org/article/sand-mining-legalisation-threatens-chambal-species  (05 Jan. 2023)

Arunachal Pradesh Rivers facing threat from illegal mining Many of the rivers in Papum Pare district are facing a threat from the ever increasing illegal mining activities. Rampant sand and stone mining, along with establishment of illegal stone crushers in areas like Kimin, Sangdupota, Sagalee and the capital region, have become a big threat to the environment.

Raising concern over the growing number of stone crushers operating illegally in places like Sopo village here, former president of the All Papum Pare District Students’ Union, Nabam Tado has lodged a complaint with the deputy commissioner. In his letter, Tado alleged that stone crushers are being operated illegally in Sopo village, Doimukh, without licence.

“Unchecked use of huge numbers of crawler excavators, wheeled excavators and dump trucks for extracting minor minerals from the riverbeds of Sopo and Rose villages are going on. This uncontrolled illegal quarrying from the riverbeds has not only endangered the age-old fish species but put the fish species once found in the Pare river on the verge of extinction,” Tado wrote. The activities also create noise and dust pollution in the village settlement areas, making the environment unhealthy to live in.

“Many landowners whose agricultural lands are located adjacent to the river banks of Sopo and Rose villages have seen their lands washed away every year in different locations during the monsoon season. Illegal mining of river sand and quartzite deplete the natural bed of the rivers and it causes soil erosion and reduces the water retention capacity of the water body, increasing the speed and scale of water flow,” he added. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/01/13/rivers-in-p-pare-facing-threat-from-illegal-mining-activities/  (13 Jan. 2022)

Punjab Ensure sand mining activity doesn’t damage environment: HC The division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli passed the directions to the Punjab government while hearing a petition by the state challenging the order/letter dated November 21, 2022, wherein Punjab had been ordered by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to immediately stop all mining activities at various desilting sites in the state. The bench in its detailed order released on Wednesday (Jan. 11) also asked the state (the petitioner) as well as the SEIAA (the respondent) to furnish reports as to the manner in which the sand mining activities are commenced and undertaken by the state at Pathankot, Rupnagar and Fazilka.

On Tuesday (Jan. 10), hearing a petition filed by the Punjab government claiming shortage of construction material in the state, the high court had allowed the state to carry out mining in these three districts – Rupnagar, Pathankot and Fazilka. The high court had permitted the state to undertake sand mining operations strictly in accordance with the conditions stated by SEIAA in its order dated December 30, 2022, at Rupnagar, Fazilka and Pathankot except the area in and across river Ravi in Pathankot district adjacent to international border with Pakistan.

The high court had agreed to allow the state to undertake mining operations after the counsel for the other respondents as well as the intervener(s) also did not oppose the prayer of the petitioner (Punjab) to commence sand mining in accordance with the permission granted by SEIAA. The bench has now posted the matter for January 23 for further hearing. It will now be heard along with a petition already filed in public interest in the matter. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/punjab-and-haryana-hc-punjab-govt-sand-mining-8376612/  (12 Jan. 2023)

The Pathankot police on Monday (Jan. 09) arrested 10 persons for illegal sand mining and confiscated six trucks and three Poclain machines from Datial Feroza village in Pathankot. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/illegal-sand-mining-racket-busted-in-pathankot-10-held-101673289184341.html  (10 Jan. 2023)

Himachal Pradesh Beas tributary changes course due to illegal mining Rampant illegal mining along the Beas has forced one of its tributaries to change its course, made the riverbed unstable and harmed Mol Khud, which feeds several drinking water supply schemes and irrigation channels in lower areas of Palampur. https://www.newsclick.in/Beas-Tributary-Changes-Course-Illegal-Sand-Mining  (09 Jan. 2023)

Rajasthan Battle against illegal sand mining, violence wins A four-year ban on riverbed sand mining in the state spurred musclemen using coercive tactics to continue excavating. The restrictions have been lifted, but they carry on brazenly. https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/in-rajasthans-battle-against-illegal-sand-mining-violence-wins  (14 Jan. 2023) CM Ashok Gehlot said the Supreme Court’s delay in the decision has led to an increase in the cases of illegal sand mining in the state. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/supreme-court-s-delay-in-decision-led-to-rise-in-illegal-sand-mining-cases-in-rajasthan-cm-news-251218  (05 Jan. 2023)

West Bengal First M sand facility through CIL Coal India Limited (CIL) has started a facility to produce manufactured sand, the first such initiative in the State. The manufactured sand is being produced, an estimated 3 lakh cubic metre per year, in the Kajora area of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), a subsidiary of CIL, from overburden material of open cast mines. Set up through private participation, the M Sand facility has started operations since September 2022. According to sources, ECL needs 12 lakh cubic metre per year sand for stowing (sand filling mined out portions) purposes in its underground mines. M Sand will, therefore, meet 25% of the sand requirement of ECL, bringing home immediate savings of an estimated ₹6 crore per year.

CIL forayed into OB (overburden)-to-sand manufacturing through a small pilot project at Nagpur-based Western Coalfields (WCL), a few years ago. PSU officials said that overwhelmed by the project’s success, a second facility was established in WCL in 2021. At 6.10 lakh cubic metre per year production capacity, this is the largest such facility in India.With the West Bengal facility, the CIL’s total M Sand producing capacity stands at 9.86 lakh cubic metre per year. According to the company, six more M Sand projects of a combined capacity of 19.80 lakh cubic metre per year are under implementation. Of them, the 3.05 lakh cubic metre per year facility at Amlohri under Madhya Pradesh-headquartered Northern Coalfields (NCL), is scheduled to be on stream in the fourth quarter of 2022-23.

In July 2021, CM Mamata Banerjee had announced that her government will come up with a centralised sand mining policy for the auction of sand quarries. However, environmentalists and river experts point out that not much has changed. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-gets-its-first-m-sand-facility-through-cils-green-mining-initiative/article66353755.ece  (09 Jan. 2023)

Madhya Pradesh Coal India’s subsidiary Northern Coalfields Ltd will soon start production of M-Sand from its unit in Amlohri, a Coal Ministry statement said on Jan 10 2023. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/coal/coal-india-subsidiary-ncl-to-start-m-sand-production/96885051  (10 Jan. 2023)

Jharkhand बालू तस्करों ने खोद डाली हजारीबाग के सोनपुरा पुल की नींव हजारीबाग जिला अंतर्गत बड़कागांव प्रखंड क्षेत्र में लगातार बालू के अवैध उत्खनन से नदियों का अस्तित्व खतरे में आ गया है. ऐसा ही एक नजारा सोनपुरा नदी में देखने को मिल रहा है. बालू माफिया ने इस नदी से इतना बालू निकाल लिया कि इस पर बने पुल के पिलर से छड़ तक दिखने लगा है. साथ ही बालू कम और मिट्टी अधिक दिखाई देने लगा है. सोनपुरा पुल के पांच पिलर के पास मिट्टी और बालू नहीं है. पिलर से छड़ दिख रहा है. इसके कारण पिलर गिरने की संभावना बढ़ गयी है. कांडतरी के ग्रामीणों के अनुसार, कांड़तरी का पुल भी बालू की अवैध उत्खनन के कारण सात साल पहले ध्वस्त हो गया था.

इस क्षेत्र का मुख्य पेशा कृषि है. यहां दो बड़ी नदियां हाहारो एवं बदमाही दो अलग-अलग छोर से निकलकर बिश्रामपुर के निकट महुदी में जाकर मिलती है. ये नदियां आगे जाकर दामोदर का रूप धारण कर उरीमारी, रामगढ़ होकर पश्चिम बंगाल की ओर कूच कर जाती है. यहां की नदियों की सुंदरता एवं चिकनी अच्छे किस्म की बालू पूरे प्रदेश में विशेष महत्व रखता था. इन नदियों में बालू की भंडारण इतनी थी कई पीढ़ियों तक इसे उपयोग में लाया जा सकता था. लेकिन, बालू के कारोबारियों की नजर पड़ते ही महज चार से पांच साल में नदियों का बालू ही खत्म नहीं हुआ, बल्कि नदी इतने गहरे हो गए कि नदी किनारे खेत बंजर में तब्दील होने लगे हैं. जलस्तर भी काफी नीचे चला गया है.

इन नदियों पर बने 5 बड़े पुलों के साथ छोटे दर्जनों पुल-पुलिया का अस्तित्व खतरे में है. कई पुल ध्वस्त हो चुके हैं तथा कई गिरने के कगार पर हैं. अगर समय रहते इस पर ध्यान नहीं दिया गया, तो करोड़ों रुपये से आवागमन के लिए बनाया गया पुल जमींदोज हो जाएगा और कई गांव का संपर्क प्रखंड मुख्यालय से टूट जाएगा. https://www.prabhatkhabar.com/state/jharkhand/hazaribagh/sand-smugglers-dug-the-foundation-of-sonpura-bridge-of-hazaribagh-it-may-collapse-anytime-smj  (06 Dec. 2022)

अवैध बालू खनन से फल्गु नदी का अस्तित्व पड़ा खतरे में  झारखंड और बिहार की सीमा पर स्थित चतरा जिला अब बालू तस्करी का अड्डा बन गया है। मोक्षदायिनी निरंजना नदी (फल्गु नदी) का इस कदर दोहन हो रहा है कि इसके अस्तित्व पर ही संकट मंडराने लगा है। फल्गु नदी चतरा जिले के हंटरगंज से होकर गुजरती है, जहां करीब 100 घाटों से बालू का धड़ल्ले से अवैध उत्खनन हो रहा है। प्रखंड के जोरी गांव के पास से ही नदी से सैकड़ों ट्रैक्टर से प्रतिदिन बालू निकल रहा है। बालू लुटेरों की मनमानी से कौलेश्वरी पुल पर भी खतरे के बादल मंडराने लगे है। निरंजना नदी में बालू की लूट काफी दिनों से चलती आ रही है। जिसको लेकर दो वर्ष पूर्व एक बड़ा आंदोलन भी चला था। उसी निरंजना बचाओ आंदोलन की वजह से राज्य सरकार हरकत में आई थी। लेकिन फिलहाल बालू का अवैध उत्खनन बदस्तूर जारी है।

बालू का खेल चतरा के अलग-अलग जगहों में बड़े पैमाने पर फैला हुआ है। सिर्फ निरंजना नदी ही नहीं, बल्कि चतरा जिले के हंटरगंज, इटखोरी के मुहाने, टंडवा के बड़की नदी, पथलगड्डा, गिद्धाौर और मयूरहंड प्रखंड की विभिन्न नदियों में भी अवैध बालू का कारोबार खूब फल फूल रहा है। खनन माफिया बिना रोक-टोक के मुहाने नदी, निरंजना नदी और गेरूआ जैसी नदियों से बालू निकालकर बेखौफ बेच रहे हैं। समाजसेवी विनय सिंगर का कहना है कि इन प्राकृतिक संसाधनों की लूट राज्य सरकार के साथ-साथ प्रशासनिक अधिकारी की मिलीभगत से की जा रही है जो लोगों के लिए गंभीर विषय बना हुआ है।

एनजीटी नियम लागू होने के बावजूद अवैध तरीके से नदियों से बालू निकालने का न सिर्फ रात में बल्कि दिन के उजाले में भी अनवरत जारी है। सरकार इस पूरे प्रकरण पर चुप्पी साधे हुए हैं। खनन विभाग के अधिकारी कुछ भी बताने से इंकार कर रहे है। सबकुछ जानकर भी प्रशासन तमाशबीन बना हुआ है। खनन माफिया इतने मजबूत है कि प्रशासन उन पर हाथ डालने की कोशिश तक नहीं करती और अगर कोशिश होती तो दिन के उजालों में दिनदहाड़े लूट का खेल नहीं चलता। https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/jharkhand/chatra/existence-of-mokshadayini-falgu-river-is-in-danger-due-to-illegal-sand-mining-illegal-business-is-flourishing-in-many-other-rivers-as-well/articleshow/95665129.cms  (22 Nov. 2022)

Goa Illegal sand mining poses threat to Mhadei Illegal sand mining undertaken without any permissions from the authorities threatens both banks of the Mhadei in Savarde and Nagargao panchayat areas, in Sattari. Soon after a TOI report on the massive illegal sand mining being carried out in various parts of Sattari, those involved took steps to transport the extracted material. However, officials of the water resources department (WRD) on Monday (Dec. 05) closed down all outlets of vasant bandharas constructed by the water resources department in many areas of Sattari.  with wooden planks as a measure to prevent transportation of the extracted sand from the location.

Sand mining on many stretches of the river in the areas of Nagargao and Savarde panchayats has threatened the river’s banks and also the vasant bandharas. Though the directorate of mines and geology has never permitted any sand extraction, the activity has been rampant on either bank of the Mhadei and its tributaries in Sattari. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/now-illegal-sand-mining-poses-threat-to-mhadei/articleshow/96052301.cms  (07 Sept. 2022)

Sattari illegal sand mining poses threat to Mhadei Though the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority has approved the government’s proposal to resume legal sand mining, in Sattari’s Savarde ongoing illegal sand mining is posing a serious threat to the Mhadei.In many areas, rampant extraction of sand on both the banks of the Mhadei has deepened the river bed resulting in its erosion.

At Teenphato, in the village of Savarde, sources allege that government officials too, are involved in the illegal activity. Following directions of the high court of Bombay at Goa, the directorate of mines and geology had constituted taluka-wise flying squads under the mamlatdar of respective talukas to curtail unauthorised sand extraction and quarrying in the state. “Despite this, massive scale illegal extraction and transportation of sand is going on, thereby posing a serious threat to the river by degrading its banks, as well as destroying the flood plains,” alleged Khandola resident Madhu Gaonkar, who visited the area.

Every year, during the monsoon, land collapse has been observed along either banks of the Mhadei. As machines are also used for the extraction huge pits have been created in some areas. The stretches where the illegality is presently in progress in Savarde also fall in the ecological sensitive zones notified for the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/goa-sattari-illegal-sand-mining-poses-threat-to-mhadei/articleshow/95842796.cms  (29 Nov. 2022)

Illegal sand mining: Disaster in Goan rivers Rampant illegal sand mining is taking place in various parts of Goa along the river beds. This is an issue which is not just restricted to one part of go alone rampant violation of the High Court orders in keeping proper checks on the sand mining mafias, use of CCTV cameras to monitor it and the action the State should take in order to prevent rampant cutting of the riverbed in view of the environment disaster that is happening or some of the key issues that are affecting the State. Sujay Gupta in the weekly Herald TV debate Point-Counterpoint explores what is leading to the unabated illegal sand mining in Goa, how is it damaging the State’s environment and its long term implications on the fragile ecosystem. https://www.heraldgoa.in/Review/ILLEGAL-SAND-MINING-DISASTER-IN-GOAN-RIVERS/193397  (28 Aug. 2022)

Telangana Fishermen in Konaseema Protest On Boats Over Illegal Sand Mining in Godavari river. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvfvMMuIj0w  (30 Sept. 2022)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Interview  ‘We must do everything we can to protect our wetlands’ A few recent reports suggest that the country has lost a large number of wetlands in the past couple of decades.

Manoj Misra, a former IFS officer who is now convener of ‘Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan’ spoke to TOI on various aspects of wetlands. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/wetlands-deserve-a-law-specifically-for-their-conservation-urbanisation-must-be-planned-around-them/articleshow/97010421.cms  (15 Jan. 2023)

Madhya Pradesh Wetland conservation limited by low notification of wetlands Madhya Pradesh’s three sites got the tag of Ramsar sites in 2022, taking the total number to four. However, official steps towards conservation of wetlands in the state are still going slow. Notification of wetlands clears the path of conservation and perhaps future Ramsar nomination. It is vital as it provides legal status to the water body besides demarcating the boundaries of the wetlands and identifying its zone of influence. Madhya Pradesh has six wetlands that it wants to propose as contenders for Ramsar sites. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/madhya-pradesh-fails-to-notify-a-single-wetland-a-hurdle-in-conservation/  (11 Jan. 2023)

Tamil Nadu Govt needs innovative wetland conservation strategy Wetlands in Tamil Nadu are important biodiversity hotspots, serving as vital habitats for a diverse array of plants, birds and animals, which include many species that are at risk. Land conversion, pollution, invasive species, alteration to natural water levels and climate change pose as threats to Tamil Nadu’s wetlands. The state needs an innovative wetland conservation strategy with an integrated approach and a shared commitment among all sectors. The Kazhuveli wetland, Tamil Nadu’s 16th bird sanctuary, is an important wintering ground for several thousand waterbirds and shorebirds during the migration period and needs a special attention. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/commentary-tamil-nadu-needs-an-innovative-wetland-conservation-strategy-starting-with-kazhuveli/  (12 Jan. 2023)

Kerala Kuttanad is sinking again: Report Researchers have found that many areas in Kuttanad have subsided by 20 cm to 30 cm after the 2018 floods. Kuttanad region mostly falling in the Alappuzha district lies below sea level. The dry lands and fields remaining flooded for prolonged periods during the 2018 floods is the reason for the subsidence that is being experienced now, the report said. The flood water seeped down into the earth and compacted the soil underneath. The land began to sink after this. The study says that this is the reason why tides have been causing water logging in recent years. The study recommends that the problem could be solved by strengthening the bunds by raising their height and width. https://www.onmanorama.com/news/kerala/2023/01/10/kuttanad-joshimath-uttarakhand-sinking-report.html  (10 Jan. 2023)

WATER OPTIONS

Bundelkhand De-silting of tanks brings many-sided benefits In Bundelkhand region of Central India water tanks have constituted a very important component of efforts of communities to meet the water needs of people over the centuries. In particular the period of Chandela and Bundela rulers from 9th to 18th century has been identified as a time when royal patronage was extended to communities for creation of several thousand such structures, many of which are still admired for the wisdom of communities which helped to create these water-bodies with a very sound understanding of local conditions. https://countercurrents.org/2023/01/de-silting-of-tanks-with-community-participation-brings-many-sided-benefits/  (11 Jan. 2023)

GROUNDWATER

Study Impact of intensive farming systems on GW availability in dryland This paper aims to understand the impact of intensified forms of agriculture on the availability of water resources in a dryland watershed in Telangana. To achieve this, we first assessed the water use of three main farming systems in the study region. We then calculated the water balance at the watershed level to understand the agricultural impact on groundwater availability within the watershed. The three farming systems studied were the crop without livestock system (CWL; 48% of households), the crop-dairy system (CD; 38% of households), and the crop with small ruminants system (CSR; 6% of households).

The results indicated that the CD system used the highest quantity of water (19,668 m3/household/y), followed by the CSR (8645 m3/household/y) and CWL (4403 m3/household/y). CWL and CD systems comprise 86% of the households, making these systems the largest water users. Finally, the water balance of the whole watershed showed a deficit of – 13.9 Mm3/y. Cultivation of water-demanding non-dryland crops, increased specialization of farming systems, and management practices in current farming systems are the factors causing over-utilization of water and subsequent groundwater depletion. We also realize that the current policy environment and other drivers such as decreasing landholdings and market forces, also induce increased water use in production. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666049022000767?fbclid 

Bihar High arsenic concentration in groundwater in 18 districts: Study High arsenic concentration has been found in groundwater in 18 districts of Bihar, as well as its correlation with incidences of gallbladder cancer at these places, according to a new study, a senior official said. People in these districts are drinking water with arsenic concentration greater than the World Health Organisation’s permissible limit of 10 microgram per litre, he said. “The study by experts has found that out of the 38 districts, 18 have high arsenic contamination in groundwater. The worst-affected districts are Buxar, Bhojpur and Bhagalpur. The highest arsenic contamination (1906 ug/L) in groundwater is in Buxar,” Ashok Kumar Ghosh, Chairman of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), told PTI.

“Now, arsenic as a possible risk factor for gallbladder cancer has been found in the study. Public health intervention in the form of removing arsenic from drinking water is the need of the hour in the endemic regions of Bihar and Assam. Tackling arsenic pollution may help reduce the burden of several health outcomes,” Ghosh said. The experts collected and analysed 46,000 groundwater samples from different areas of the 18 districts before arriving at the conclusion, he said. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/high-arsenic-concentration-in-groundwater-in-18-districts-of-bihar-study/articleshow/96988109.cms  (14 Jan. 2023)

Rajasthan High fluoride in water takes its toll on villages Several wells in the villages of Devpura and Moondwara in Sambhar block, about 80 km from the Sambhar salt lake, India’s largest inland salt lake. The villagers, many of them unlettered, blame the lake water that has contaminated the groundwater as the main reason for high salinity and fluoride content in drinking water. According to Om Prakash Sharma, head of the NGO Gram Chetna Kendra that works in the area, disability in the two villages about 50 km from Jaipur averages about 10 in 1,000. The national number is 5 in 1,000 people. That is almost double the normal average, he pointed out. The disability is directly linked to high fluoride content in the area, a fact backed by studies, he said.

According to a Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) report, high fluoride in groundwater in Jaipur district where the villages are located is a matter of great concern with fluoride concentration going up to 16.4 mg/litre in some places at Sambhar block against the permissible 1mg/l.In the Sambhar lake itself, it is 2.41 mg/l. The government’s Jal Jeevan Mission has promised to provide clean tap water connection to entire rural India by next year. But villagers say the mission is yet to reach these villages. The pipeline for clean water started long back but it’s still not complete. There is just 39 per cent coverage in rural Jaipur district of tap connection till now, according to official data. In 2019, thousands of migratory birds of about ten species were found dead around Sambhar lake with officials attributing water contamination as one of the reasons for the deaths. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2023/jan/15/living-with-disability-high-fluoride-in-water-takes-its-toll-on-villages-in-rajasthan-2538140.html  (15 Jan. 2023)

URBAN WATER

Mumbai Samruddhi Mahamarg could endanger water sources The forest department has diverted 4.3 hectares of forest land for the last phase of the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg. The affected area is in Washala, Fugale and Dhakane, villages of the Shahapur area of Thane that houses most lakes that supply drinking water to Mumbai.  The order to divert the forest land was issued on Friday (Jan. 06). Radheshyam Mopalwar, managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation said that this was the last patch of forest land to be diverted.

The expressway passes very close to Bhatsa Lake which supplies over 50 per cent of water to Mumbai city. The highway’s path is through the eco-sensitive zone of the Katepurna and Karanja Sohol wildlife sanctuaries, and cuts through 166 hectares of forest land. In Shahapur tehsil, it also passes through the eco-sensitive zone of the Tansa sanctuary. More than two lakh trees have been cut for the project so far.

“Mumbai gets 96 per cent of its water supply from the Thane and Nashik districts,” said environmental activist Amrita Bhattacharjee. “The patch which is being destroyed is closer to these lakes. We don’t have enough water in the city and these mega projects are destroying forests that get us water. Instead of creating new roads, the authorities should have expanded the current road. Instead of cutting lakhs of trees, we must look for alternative solutions.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/samruddhi-mahamarg-could-endanger-mumbai-s-water-sources-101673204988607.html   (09 Jan. 2023)

Gurugram Pond destroyed for expressway? NGT seeks report NGT has sought a report on the allegation that a portion of the Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway (NH-148NA) was illegally built on a village pond in Nuh and by felling trees at a forest in Gurugram. The tribunal on Wednesday (Jan. 11) asked the Haryana government to form a joint committee of the state pollution board, forest department and the Gurugram administration. The panel will have to inspect the sites and submit a factual report within two months, it ordered. NGT was hearing a petition by resident Prem Mohan Gaur, who said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) started constructing a 60km stretch of the six-lane expressway in November 2021 by using up the catchment area of a two-acre pond in Kiranj village, Nuh.

The pond, located close to the Gurugram border, was used by villagers for irrigation and was also a source of groundwater recharge, Gaur argued. The authority also chopped down trees in nearby Hajipur forest in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, the plea said. Though the land was acquired from the village panchayats in 2020, the petitioner said NHAI did not take necessary clearances to construct on the pond and cut down trees. “While constructing a part of the National Highway-148NA (Faridabad-Ballabgarh bypass to KMP interchange), NHAI covered a pond that was notified under Haryana Pond Waste Water Management Authority Act, 2018.

NHAI officials said they were aware of the issue. When asked what remedial steps were taken, an official said that they “had already deposited money to the village panchayats while acquiring the land”. In November 2021, TOI reported about the expressway being built on the Kiranj pond. NHAI officials had said they would take steps to restore the water body. The petition will be taken up next on March 17. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/pond-destroyed-for-del-mum-e-way-ngt-seeks-report/articleshow/96925903.cms  (12 Jan. 2023)

Arunachal Pradesh Flooded under construction road causing hardship for commuters The under construction state highway between Gohpur Tinali to Zoo road is in a pathetic condition presently. Despite being mid winter now with consistently dry weather everywhere, the stretch from Gohpur Tinali to Zoo-Ganga Lake Tri-junction remains muddy making commuters’ journey difficult. Water from multiple drains of roadside residential buildings multiplied by unmanned leakage of main water supply lines openly flow on the road side. Gujarat-based construction agency Bhimji Pvt. Ltd. has undertaken the construction of the said highway under the supervision of Doimukh PWD division. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/01/12/flooded-under-construction-gohpur-tinali-to-zoo-road-causing-hardship-for-commuters/  (12 Jan. 2023)

Chennai Rs. 100 crore lake-front project “A letter has been sent to the state government to constitute a coordination committee and to float an open design competition for lake-front development,” the sources added. The project was recently reviewed by CMDA Minister PK Sekar Babu. The lake-front development, proposed by CMDA is likely to be taken up at Rs 100 crore.

Retteri lake in Chennai. P Jawahar/TNIE

The 10 lakes that have been identified are Perumbakkam, Retteri, Mudichur, Madambakkam, Sembakkam, Ayanambakkam, Velachery, Adambakkam, Puzhal and Kolathur. The lakes have been chosen considering the geographic spread around Chennai Metropolitan Area. There are, however, challenges in implementing the project. One is preventing waste discharge into the lakes. It is learnt that CMDA is seeking help from municipal administration and water supply department to build infrastructure that will help prevent waste discharge into the lakes. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2023/jan/15/lake-front-project-to-turn-10-chennai-waterbodies-into-vibrant-public-spaces-2538070.html  (15 Jan. 2023)

Bengaluru Nothing alarming, say experts after sewage tests reveal low Covid viral load https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/bengaluru-nothing-alarming-say-experts-after-sewage-tests-reveal-low-covid-viral-load-1180917.html  (14 Jan. 2023)

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan Rs3bn needed to remove NJHPP blockage The government said on Jan 9 2023 that over Rs3 billion including the cost of consultancy services is needed for removing the blockage of 969-MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project. The committee was informed that Rs2.69 billion would be the cost on opening of the blockage of the tunnel plus, daily work and consultancy service cost would be Rs415 million. https://www.brecorder.com/news/40219327  (10 Jan. 2023)

Rs11.92 bl contract for Mangla Refurbishment Project WAPDA is implementing Mangla Refurbishment Project with an approved PC-I cost of Rs 52.224 billion. The project is being carried out in various phases, wherein the generating units are to be refurbished by closing down one tunnel (two generating units) at a time. WAPDA has awarded Rs 11.922 billion contract for Package XI of Mangla Refurbishment Project for Units 9 and 10 to G.E Hydro France. https://www.nation.com.pk/11-Jan-2023/wapda-awards-rs11-92-billion-contract-for-mangla-refurbishment-project  (11 Jan. 2023)

ASIA

MEKONG Cambodia Upstream dams are drowning protected flooded forest High water levels during the dry season at the Stung Treng Ramsar site have been catastrophic for its unique ecosystem and residents. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/nature/upstream-dams-are-drowning-cambodias-protected-flooded-forest/  (13 Jan. 2023)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Study World’s large dams could lose quarter of capacity by 2050 A new study from the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health found that, by mid-century, dams and reservoirs will lose about 1.65tr cubic metres of water storage capacity to sediment. The figure is close to the combined annual water use of India, China, Indonesia, France and Canada.

Most of the world’s 60,000 big dams – constructed between 1930 and 1970 – were designed to last 50 to 100 years, after which they risk failure, affecting more than half the global population who will live downstream. Global warming compounds the risk in ways that have yet to be fully measured. “Climate change extremes like floods and droughts will increase, and higher intensity showers are more erosive,” Smakhtin said. This not only increases the risk of reservoirs overflowing but also accelerates the buildup of sediment, which affects dam safety, reduces water storage capacity and lowers energy production in hydroelectric dams.

To address looming challenges of ageing dams and reservoir sedimentation, the study authors list several measures. Bypass, or sediment diversion, can divert water flow downstream through a separate river channel. Another strategy is the removal, or “decommissioning”, of a dam to re-establish the natural flow of sediment in a river. But addressing water storage issues is especially complex because there is no one-size-fits-all solution, Smakhtin said. “The loss of water storage is inevitable for different reasons,” Smakhtin said. “So the question we should be asking is what are the alternatives?” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/11/worlds-large-dams-could-lose-quarter-of-capacity-by-2050-says-un  (11 Jan. 2023)  

Nearly 50,000 large dams worldwide could lose more than a quarter of their storage capacity by 2050 as a result of sedimentation build-ups, eroding global water and energy security, according to United Nations research on Jan 11, 2023. Dam capacity is expected to drop from 6 trillion cubic metres (cu m) to 4.655 trillion cu m by 2050, and action must be taken to address the problem and protect vital storage infrastructure, the United Nations University said. The U.N. study looked at data from more than 47,000 dams in 150 countries and said 16% of original capacity had already been lost. It said the United States is facing losses of 34% by 2050, with Brazil estimated to lose 23%, India 26% and China 20%.

– Vladimir Smakhtin, director of the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health and one of the study’s authors, said dam building worldwide had already declined significantly, with around 50 a year now being built, compared to 1,000 in the middle of the last century. https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/worlds-dams-lose-quarter-storage-capacity-by-2050-un-research-2023-01-11/  (11 Jan. 2023)

New understanding of how particle shape controls grain flow As a river cuts through a landscape, it can operate like a conveyer belt, moving truckloads of sediment over time. Knowing how quickly or slowly this sediment flows can help engineers plan for the downstream impact of restoring a river or removing a dam. But the models currently used to estimate sediment flow can be off by a wide margin. An MIT team has come up with a better formula to calculate how much sediment a fluid can push across a granular bed—a process known as bed load transport. The key to the new formula comes down to the shape of the sediment grains.

“Sediment transport is a part of life on Earth’s surface, from the impact of storms on beaches to the gravel nests in mountain streams where salmon lay their eggs,” the team writes of their new study, appearing in Nature. “Damming and sea level rise have already impacted many such terrains and pose ongoing threats. A good understanding of bed load transport is crucial to our ability to maintain these landscapes or restore them to their natural states.”

The team says the new model more accurately represents sediment flow. Going forward, scientists and engineers can use the model to better gauge how a river bed will respond to scenarios such as sudden flooding from severe weather or the removal of a dam. “If you were trying to make a prediction of how fast all that sediment will get evacuated after taking a dam out, and you’re wrong by a factor of three or five, that’s pretty bad,” Perron says. “Now we can do a lot better.” https://phys.org/news/2023-01-particle-grain-coastal-erosion.html ; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-05564-6  (11 Jan. 2023)

USA New cyclone to hit California A major cyclone is set to hit the US state of California with up to seven inches (18 centimeters) of rain on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said, after tens of thousands of people were placed under evacuation orders due to a barrage of storms that killed at least 17 people. On Jan 10, 2023, torrential downpours caused flash flooding, closed key highways, toppled trees and swept away drivers and passengers — including a five-year-old boy who remains missing in central California.

– Around 66,000 homes and businesses in the most populous US state were without power early on Wednesday, according to tracking site Poweroutage.us. The new storm will hit northern California and is forecast to bring several more feet of snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains, the NWS said. The NWS described an “unrelenting series of atmospheric river events” that is the most powerful storm system since 2005.

– California Governor Gavin Newsom said at least 34,000 people had been told to flee the storms, with more danger expected. “The fact is that we’re not out of the woods; we expect these storms to continue at least through the 18th of this month,” he told reporters on Tuesday (Jan. 10). https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/new-cyclone-to-hit-california-after-historic-storm-kills-17-report-3683180  (11 Jan. 2023)

California has seen so much rain over the past few weeks that farm fields are inundated and normally dry creeks and drainage ditches have become torrents of water racing toward the ocean. Yet, most of the state remains in severe drought. All that runoff in the middle of a drought begs the question — why can’t more rainwater be collected and stored for the long, dry spring and summer when it’s needed?

– Local agencies have proposed more than 340 recharge projects in California, and the state estimates those could recharge an additional 500,000 acre-feet of water a year on average if all were built.

– One method being discussed by the state Department of Water Resources and others is Flood-MAR, or flood-managed aquifer recharge. During big flows in rivers, water managers could potentially divert some of that flow onto large parts of the landscape and inundate thousands of acres to recharge the aquifers below. The concept is to flood the land in winter and then farm in summer.

– Another challenge is that most of the big river flows are in the northern part of the state, and many of the areas experiencing the worst groundwater deficits are in central and southern California. To get that excess w ater to the places that need it requires transport and distribution, which can be complex and expensive.

– It’s going to take many methods and several wet years to make up for the region’s long period of low rainfall. One storm certainly doesn’t do it, and even one wet year doesn’t do it. https://theconversation.com/how-california-could-save-up-its-rain-to-ease-future-droughts-instead-of-watching-epic-atmospheric-river-rainfall-drain-into-the-pacific-197168  (06 Jan. 2023)

Evacuating a town The star-studded California town that is home to Britain’s Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle was ordered evacuated Monday (Jan 9, 2023), with firefighters warning mudslides could engulf luxury homes. Montecito, which is also a favorite of American entertainment royalty such as Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Aniston, was expected to get up to eight inches (20 cm) of rain in 24 hours — on hillsides already sodden by weeks of downpours. Emergency authorities in the town 90 minutes from Los Angeles said anyone in the area should get out. “LEAVE NOW! This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please pay close attention to emergency alerts,” a fire department website said.  https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/prince-harry-meghan-markles-california-town-gets-evacuation-orders-3678367  (10 Jan. 2023)

“Leave now,” emergency managers warn Wilton, California residents. The next rainmaker is closing in on the state. It’s just the latest in the parade of storms fueled by the atmospheric river known as the Pineapple Express. As of Sunday, the parade has knocked out power to nearly half a million California homes and businesses. Wilton, bordered by the Cosumnes River, is in danger of becoming an island as inches more rain are expected to fall and runoff into the already swollen river. “Rising water may spill over onto the nearest roadways and cut off access to leave the area,” Sacramento County’s Office of Emergency Services posted. “Flooding in Wilton is imminent.” https://www.foxweather.com/extreme-weather/half-million-still-without-power-in-california-as-next-in-parade-of-storms-slams-coast  (08 Jan. 2023)

UK Paint firm fined after toxic chemical released into Devon river A large marine paint-making company has been fined £650,000 after a highly toxic banned chemical was washed out from a holding tank into a “pristine” river in south-west England. International Paint Ltd “utterly failed” to control a substance called TBT that it had stored at its mothballed plant on the banks of the Yealm in Devon, a judge concluded.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/15/paint-firm-fined-after-toxic-chemical-released-into-devon-river  (15 Jan. 2023)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 09 Jan 2023 & DRP News Bulletin 02 Jan 2023

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

3 thoughts on “DRP NB 160123: Top Court appeals for EIAs for Urban Development: Welcome, but…

  1. When policy makers and legislatures allowed to “divide 900 km Char dham highway widening project into 53 smaller parts to avoid comprehensive EIA study” then it must be understood that corruption on a mass scale has reached in the name of development.
    While we are looking at Joshimath, Uttarakhand, somewhere else, the authorities are planning to get more hydropower projects (Arunachal Pradesh).
    The entire Himalayas from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh is ecologically fragile because Himalayas are young mountains and are still growing, changing inside which results in increasing height of Mt. Everest.
    All hydropower projects start with a budget and time line and then have escalated throughout years. If it is not due to corruption then what is?
    It is not that we don’t have good scientists or institutions that cannot monitor and give complete study reports to our government but the latter has decided to ignore all warning signs and go ahead at a lightning speed to compete with their northern neighbour across LAC. They are also facing crisis due to environmental damages, droughts, floods etc. Only difference is that the Northern slope of Himalayas are not frequently visited by monsoon or rain. And their slopes have stabilised due to certain geological reasons.
    If we don’t take part in rat race and instead take cautious approach towards development ie constructing highways, tunnels, dams in this part of our country that has attracted millions of people across the globe, increasing our soft power, we will do great service to the human settlements who are there for thousands of years as well as those who are watching consequences of catastrophic developmental crisis.
    We should reconsider on our “hero warship” through the eyes of reality and not through the coloured glasses while our minds are still bogged with weeds of religion based philosophy. Because unless we are aware of all the ground realities, our dream of becoming Shanghai or Tokyo will go down in drain. Only history will enlist us as “once upon a time civilization ” that went down aspiring more, biting more than it could chew, for sure.

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