DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 300123: Connect the dots and discover absence of River Governance

(Feature Image: Screen grab of video showing untreated effluents being discharged in Yamuna river downstream Wazirabad barrage in National Capital Delhi, on Jan. 29, 2023). Credit: Santosh Kumar, Principal Correspondent, Amar Ujala, Delhi)

There are number of interesting rivers related stories from India this week as listed in SANDRP’s weekly Bulletin dated January 30, 2023. Let us consider three and try to see the underlying absence of attention to a crucial issue about Rivers. The three stories (see details below) include an editorial in Telegraph about river pollution, interview by director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Govt of India’s flagship program on rivers since 2014-15 and reports about a new committee formed by the National Green Tribunal about Yamuna. NMCG DG accepts some problems in earlier approach to rejuvenation including faulty DPRs and lack of proper planning, but promises all is well now and the river will have no pollution by 2025. The new committee for Yamuna pollution set up by NGT has similarly announced new deadlines for STPs etc. The editorial talks about high level of Ganga pollution, the wrong priorities of river linking and lack of attention of smaller rivers, among other aspects.

There are some welcome features in each of these three development. However, they are unlikely to help in improving the state or our rivers in any effective way. All of them are missing the most crucial aspect: Attention of governance of rivers and various component systems related to rivers. Can we achieve better state of our rivers without ensuring transparent, accountable and participatory governance of our rivers and rivers related systems? Why there is no attention or appetite for these issues right from media (the edit), the judiciary (NGT) and officials (DG NMCG)?

Editorial Poor state of rivers in India The approach to tackle the multi-faceted challenge of river pollution has left a lot to be desired. The Namami Gange project is one example. RTI enquiries had revealed that the pollution levels in the river in several parts remain worryingly high.

River systems are layered. Riverine pollution, therefore, cannot be tackled with a one-size-fits-all policy. A decentralised approach, prioritising local conditions and challenges, could lead the way. The fundamental problem, though, is the propensity to look at rivers as an unending repository of resources. There is policy enthusiasm for the National River Linking Project, wherein water-surplus basins will be linked with rivers which dry up during summers, amidst concerns about the depletion of local ecosystems and disruptions in the water cycle. Specificities of riverine systems remain unacknowledged. For instance, little attention is often paid to the state of smaller rivers and tributaries that serve as important feeder channels. https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/in-peril-editorial-on-the-poor-state-of-rivers-in-india/cid/1912373  (27 Jan. 2023)

GANGA NMCG ‘By 2025, drains will stop flowing into Ganga’: DG Excerpts from an interview: The programme was started in 2014-15 with an outlay of 20,000 crore. And, in 2021, we got extension till 2026. The detailed project reports and planning were not proper, which slowed down the programme. In the last two years, we made sure that all stakeholders were involved, and people who were actually associated with the grounding of the programme were taken on board. The detailed project reports were properly prepared. We built the capacity to handle these programmes. We adopted the hybrid annuity model, which is used in highways’ development. This is now propagated by the World Bank as an effective model. We also came out with ‘one city and one operator’ model, which means the STPs [segmenting-targeting-positioning] operating in a single city are handled by the same operator to prevent shifting of blame.

We are focusing on polluted stretches, and in the next two years we will be able to stop drains from flowing into the Ganga. Cleaning is a continuous process. We are ensuring that the inflow of dirty water into the river is stopped; the drains are tapped and corrected; chemical based agriculture is reduced. The Ganga mainstream is rather clean. We are focusing on tributaries, like the Yamuna. By March we will have another 1,000 MLD capacity for STPs. We have identified various polluted rivers, and are monitoring the works along with state governments.

We are conducting training programmes, along with the National Institute of Urban Affairs, to create urban river management plans. We have formed river city alliance with 30 cities, which has increased to 74 cities with rivers by their side. We are telling them how to use rivers to enhance the capabilities in cities. All big cities along the river, across the world, use their river systems very well. It is used for cruising, riverfront development and property development. We are telling them how to make rivers part of their urban planning. Earlier the focus was on roads, flyovers and parks. We are sensitising people that river is an engine of growth. https://www.theweek.in/theweek/specials/2023/01/28/clean-ganga-mission-asok-kumar-interview.html  (29 Jan. 2023)

YAMUNA Delhi Deploy territorial army to stop waste dumping: Panel The NGT had, on January 9, constituted the HLC for the purpose and asked L-G V K Saxena to head it. The committee met on January 20 for the first time to formulate an action plan and assess important parameters for the rejuvenation of the river, following which a detailed one was deliberated upon and finalised. The plan finalised by the committee includes treatment of all sewage generated in Delhi, trapping of all major drains out- falling into the Yamuna and extending the sewerage network in all unauthorised colonies and JJ clusters. It also included regulation of the Yamuna floodplain including removal of all encroachments and dhobi ghats, enforcement of Delhi Water Board Septage Management Regulations 2018, utilisation of treated STP water and upgradation of 13 CETPs treating industrial effluents among others.

Orders, the official said, had been issued for 100% treatment of sewage generated in the city, construction of new STPs at Okhla by June, Sonia Vihar by September and Delhi Gate within 12 months, and the completion of construction of 40 new decentralised STPs within a year. Three existing STPs at Kondli Phase II, Rithala Phase I and Yamuna Vihar Phase II will be completed between June and September and upgradation of 18 existing STPs by March 2024. All drains out-falling into the Yamuna, including sub-drains, will also be trapped, according to the plan. Out of approximately 200 km of the trunk or peripheral sewerage, 90.34 km will be desilted by June, and a fresh contract will be finalised for the remaining 110 km ‘at the earliest’ with the desilting of the entire network scheduled to be completed by September.

Out of the 18 major drains out-falling into the Yamuna, the trapping of 11 drains had been completed with the remaining as well as sub-drains, to be trapped latest by the end of October this year, the official said. To this end, extending the sewerage network in all the 1,799 unauthorised colonies and 639 JJ clusters in the city, sewer lines are to be laid by the end of December where possible and within a year where clearances are required.

The Delhi Development Authority will undertake a major plantation along vulnerable stretches of the floodplains with a plan to this effect to be submitted by March and implemented by December in addition to undertaking a special drive to tackle unauthorised, illegal drains and nallahs falling into the Yamuna. A company of the Territorial Army will also be provided by the NMCG to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) for ensuring ground-level enforcement and monitoring the identification of all the drains/sub-drains which are yet to be trapped in addition to convincing people not to throw their waste in drains. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/deploy-territorial-army-to-stop-waste-dumping-into-yamuna-panels-orders-to-govt-agencies-8410186/  (29 Jan. 2023)

LG-led panel fixes timelines for cleaning rver The committee constituted by the NGT in January 2022 to clean up the Yamuna River has now issued a time-bound action plan under 15 parameters to achieve its objective. In an order dated January 27, issued by chief secretary Naresh Kumar, who is the convenor of the high-level committee, monthly targets have been assigned to various agencies for the next six months under parameters such as desilting, expanding the capacity of sewage treatment plants, trapping drains, septage collection and floodplain management.

According to the order, 130km of desilting will be completed by June 30, 2023, while the existing sewage treatment plant capacity will be increased from 632 to 727 MGD and 43 drains that discharge effluent into the river will be trapped, over the same period. The plan includes a target of 100% treatment of sewage generated in the city. Currently, there is gap of 238 MGD between the sewage generated by Delhi and the quantum it treats in STPs. “The departments have been directed to ensure three new STPs are constructed in Okhla by June, in Sonia Vihar by September and Delhi Gate within 12 months. Another 29 decentralised STPs with total capacity of 57.57 MGD will be constructed by December,” the order states.

The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has been directed to undertake upgradation of existing 18 STPs to create additional capacity of 93.5 MGD by March, 2024. “The entire desilting will be completed by September 2023.The status of the drain pre and post-desilting will be recorded on video. Independent audit of the desilting will be carried out after execution of the work,” said the official.

There are 18 major drains that discharge into the Yamuna’s Delhi stretch, of which 11 drains have been trapped and the committee has finalised the timeline for trapping the remaining major seven drains. “74 un-trapped sub-drains — 44 in Najafgarh drain and 30 in supplementary drain — are to be intercepted by October while September will be the deadline for trapping large flow in Mori gate drain, Barapullah drain and Maharani bagh drain. Under the interceptor sewer project (ISP) — full trapping and treatment of 242 MGD wastewater will be completed by DJB by June 2023,” the order states. The committee has also decided that it will meet every alternate week under the chief secretary while a meeting chaired by the LG will be held every fortnight.

A government spokesperson said Sisodia checked the progress of the desilting works as well the plans for constructing a road along the drain between Chhawla and Basaidarpur. “In the first phase, the work on removing 10 lakh cubic metres of silt from the drain is going on a war footing, and it will be over before monsoon,” an official said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhi-lg-led-panel-fixes-timelines-for-cleaning-yamuna-river-101674927252671.html  (28 Jan. 2023)

Yamuna Floodplain plans in Delhi. DDA targets completion of 5 projects on floodplain by year-end. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/riverside-story-dda-targets-completion-of-5-projects-on-floodplain-by-year-end/articleshow/97233354.cms  (23 Jan. 2023)

The BOD of Najafgrh drain has reduced by 30%, says this report, since Aug 2022, this is being seen as a sign of recovery following dredging and removal of silt from the drain. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/signs-of-recovery-as-biochemical-oxygen-demand-dips-in-najafgarh-drain-in-6-mths/articleshow/97261241.cms  (24 Jan. 2023)


Joshimath Disaster COVER STORY in FRONTLINE issue dated Feb 10, 2023: JOSHIMATH COLLAPSES: Tapovan Vishnugad: NTPC project at the heart of Joshimath crisis BY Himanshu Thakkar. https://frontline.thehindu.com/environment/tapovan-vishnugad-hydropower-plant-ntpc-project-at-the-heart-of-joshimath-crisis/article66386447.ece  (26 Jan. 2023)

According to Himanshu Thakkar, convenor of SANDRP, an activism and advocacy group, the greater magnitude of the Joshimath disaster and the importance of the town made it big news. “The government never heeded the words of caution of scientists, environmentalists and local people,” Thakkar told The Diplomat. However, the unfolding tragedy at Joshimath “has taken the debate to a new stage and I think it will now be difficult for the government to go ahead with the projects in the pipeline. People would oppose and resist them,” he said. https://thediplomat.com/2023/01/sinking-joshimath-may-submerge-indias-hydropower-ambitions-in-the-himalayas/  (25 Jan. 2023)

Ravi Chopra: ‘It is madness’ https://frontline.thehindu.com/environment/interview-ravi-chopra-on-joshimath-collapse-the-only-way-to-describe-it-is-madness/article66413621.ece  (26 Jan. 2023)

Excellent video report by Hridayesh Joshi of Newslaundry in dialogue with two eminent geologists Dr Navin Juyal and Dr S P Sati explaining what is happening in Joshimath, why it is irreversible and what the future threats in the context of slope instability, climate change, seismicity and major infrastructure projects that should not be taken up here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np3dTjCDh4k  (25 Jan. 2023)

It is, however, becoming increasingly clear from the field and from initial assessment reports that the NTPC project, government apathy, and the continued push given to massive development works have all played a big role in the disaster. https://frontline.thehindu.com/environment/ground-report-at-the-fault-lines-why-joshimath-crisis-is-a-story-of-criminal-neglect/article66408426.ece  (26 Jan. 2023)

Environmentalists want India to rethink its hydropower projects. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/environment/joshimath-sinking-why-environmentalists-want-india-to-rethink-its-hydropower-projects-9913101.html  (22 Jan. 2023)

Opposition to destructive large hydropower projects is spreading and intensifying all across Himalayas. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/analysis-trouble-in-himalayan-town-swells-scrutiny-of-indias-hydropower-push/97265653  (24 Jan. 2023)

Himalayan towns pay the price of massive hydel projects. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/himalayan-towns-pay-the-price-for-massive-hydel-projects/articleshow/97170889.cms  (26 Jan. 2023)

‘NTPC go back’: Angry residents put up posters in town Amid the din of evacuations and demolitions in Joshimath, local residents have been pasting placards on their shops, houses and commercial establishments that says ‘NTPC go back’ to register their anger against the hydro power project which they blame for their town “sinking”. Residents of the town want NTPC to shut down — “ban” — its Tapovan-Vishnugad project completely and not just suspend its works.

Speaking about the anger among the 503 registered traders and shopkeepers of the town driven to near bankruptcy, chairperson of Vyapar Mandal Sangh, Joshimath, Naini Singh Bhandari, said, “Traders are on the verge of killing themselves. The government has announced relief for the residents, but there is nothing for the town’s trader community. We want the NTPC project to be closed to prevent further sinking of our town.” He added, “Only when we save the town can we save our livelihood as well.”

According to Vyapar Sangh, Joshimath, located at 6101 ft, has 200 homestays that are visited by thousands of foreign and Indian tourists during summer every year. “If we have our ‘jal’ and ‘jungle’ (water and forest), we will be able to eke out a livelihood from them, instead of leading the life of a refugee at some unknown new town,” said Ram Singh Negi, who owns a woollen clothes’ shop at Market Road. . https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ntpc-go-back-angry-joshimath-residents-put-up-posters-in-town/articleshow/96998635.cms  (16 Jan. 2023)

In an order issued on January 5, the Chamoli district administration had directed a halt on all construction activity on NTPC’s power project and the Border Roads Organisation’s Helang-Marwari bypass road, given the concerns that the two projects were worsening the land subsidence or sinking process. The administration had also asked both NTPC and Hindustan Construction Company to prepare 2,000 pre-fabricated homes for the rehabilitation of residents. “We haven’t received any information from either NTPC or HCC about the temporary huts. The company hasn’t responded to any of our official communication,” said the senior administrative official, who did not wish to be named.

On Thursday (Jan. 26), slogans of “NTPC, go back” reverberated in Joshimath town, as hundreds of residents holding the tricolour staged a Republic Day demonstration at the local administration’s office. The protestors – including men, women, and children – demanded immediate closure of the power project owned by the company. “This company has destroyed our homes, and our land, and is not even ready to participate in any kind of rehabilitation process. We had demanded that the government must ask the NTPC to pay for the entire damage that has been done to Joshimath but the State is only busy giving clean chit to NTPC,” said Atul Sati, convener of the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, in his public address at  protest.

The residents of Joshimath have long believed that it was reckless and unplanned blasting done by NTPC that had caused the town to sink. “This company has created huge infrastructure for its own officials. They are still working at the site. All government is doing is rehabilitating us in badly managed shelter homes. Some money and displacement in the name of rehabilitation will not serve the purpose. The justice to Joshimath can only be served when NTPC will be held accountable for this disaster,” said Sandeep Singh, a protestor.   https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/joshimath-residents-still-waiting-for-ntpcs-rehab-housing-stage-protests-on-republic-day/article66436839.ece  (27 Jan. 2023)

भू-धंसाव से प्रभावित जोशीमठ और उसके आसपास के गांवों के लोग व व्यापारी शुक्रवार (Jan. 27) को हेलंग-मारवाड़ी बाइपास व एनटीपीसी परियोजना के विरोध में सड़क पर उतर आए। उन्होंने जन आक्रोश रैली निकाली और प्रदर्शन किया। लोगों ने एनटीपीसी वापस जाओ, बाईपास निर्माण बंद करो, प्रभावितों को उचित मुआवजा दो… के नारे लगाए। जोशीमठ बचाओ संघर्ष समिति के संयोजक अतुल सती ने कहा कि सभी लोगों की राय है कि जोशीमठ की बरबादी के लिए एनटीपीसी की तपोवन विष्णुगाड़ जल विद्युत परियोजना जिम्मेदार है। इसे तुरंत बंद करके कंपनी को वापस भेज देना चाहिए। साथ ही मांग की कि एनटीपीसी ने जितना खर्च किया है, उसके दो गुना खर्च करके कंपनी को लोगों का पुनर्वास करना चाहिए। उन्होंने कहा कि 27 दिनों से प्रभावित परिवारों के लोग धरना दे रहे हैं, लेकिन अभी तक पुनर्वास और मुआवजे को लेकर सरकार कोई निर्णय नहीं ले पाई है। https://www.amarujala.com/amp/dehradun/joshimath-sinking-public-protest-and-do-many-demands-2023-01-27  (27 Jan. 2023)

Residents also mention the disappearance of five ponds from Joshimath. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/missing-ponds-responsible-for-joshimath-subsidence/articleshow/97213542.cms  (22 Jan. 2023)

Scientists involved in studying Joshimath’s land subsidence told TOI on Tuesday (Jan. 24) that snow and rain – which began on January 20 – had caused “significant” cracks on the strategically key NH-58, which is the sole motor road leading to the pilgrim town of Badrinath and Mana, the final Indian village towards the China border. Things could get worrisome as the met department has predicted another heavy spell of snow and rain in the coming days, which may further impact the cracks.  The latest development has left the state administration as well as residents in and around Joshimath even more anxious as people usually take the highway route to visit other places in Chamoli district. Supplies pass via this road too.

Another resident, Badri Prasad Nainwal, pointed out that around 25 lakh vehicles used the NH last year, which is way beyond the carrying capacity of a mountainous road. “With Badrinath yatra later this year, the road would again come under a lot of stress,” he added. Convener of Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Atul Sati, said, “Both the roads that lead to Badrinath from Joshimath via Narsingh ward or through the main market have developed fresh cracks and fissures. This is cause for worry for our military too.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/cracks-appear-on-key-badrinath-highway/articleshow/97290781.cms   (25 Jan. 2023)

The first step of the Badrinath yatra — the Gaadu-Ghadi yatra — which traditionally begins from Joshimath, started on Monday (Jan. 23), albeit with an air of uncertainty. It is believed that Lord Badrinath’s winter abode is Narsingh Devta temple in Joshimath. Traditionally, Badrinath yatra begins after the priest community takes Lord Badrinath’s ‘silver pot and conch’ from the Narsingh Devta temple in Joshimath to Pandukeshwar, some 20km away, for prayers. This year, the yatra is happening as an air of crisis looms over Joshimath, where buildings have developed cracks. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/amid-stiff-opposition-to-helang-road-1st-step-in-badri-yatra-starts/articleshow/97267320.cms  (24 Jan. 2023)

Priyadarshini Patel:- Home is what one chooses it to be. Neighbourhood, country and even the planet itself evoke a sense of belonging to the right-minded. And yet there has been an unacceptable indifference to the systematic desecration of four fragile Himalayan valleys through the Chardhaam pariyojana (CDP) road-widening project, the disappearance of the Ganga into tunnels through bumper to bumper hydro-projects, railway tunnels and reckless tourism. It has taken a Joshimath-scale calamity to get people’s attention but by now the ground’s also slipping in several other places in Uttarakhand. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/question-from-the-homeless-in-hills/articleshow/97380438.cms  (27 Jan. 2023)

Researcher Manshi Asher of the Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective said her group had been documenting the damage caused by hydropower projects in the Himalayas for over a decade and campaigning against them. “The sheer scale, magnitude and nature of hydropower construction has been a big contributing factor to Himalayan disasters in recent years,” she said. “It is tragic that we waited for Joshimath to pay attention.” https://www.reuters.com/article/india-renewables-hydro/analysis-trouble-in-himalayan-town-swells-scrutiny-of-indias-hydropower-push-idINL4N34429R  (23 Jan. 2023)

Vikram Soni:- There must also be a complete ban on any hydroelectric power projects in the Himalaya, especially on the source-rivers of the Ganga (Bhagirathi and Alaknanda). This is one of the causes on which the scholar and activist Prof. G.D. Agarwal spent many years, eventually in vain. The very young and frail Himalaya can’t afford more such escapades. Joshimath is a warning, a forerunner of what is to come. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/opinion-the-himalayan-mountains-are-more-fragile-than-they-look/article66413372.ece   (24 Jan. 2023)

Prasenjit Chowdhury:- Indiscriminate building of hydroelectric dams—Uttarakhand’s glacier-fed rivers make it an attractive area for hydropower projects—involving drilling huge tunnels in the hills by blasting rocks, placing enormous turbines in the tunnels, destroying soil vegetation to build water channels and other infrastructure, laying transmission lines, and carelessly dumping excavated muck has been the most damaging.

At the end of the day, an economy that seeks to develop at the expense of the lives of people is a blood economy. Stop exploiting the Himalayas in the name of harnessing their potential.  https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/comment/a-himalayan-blunder-1183081.html   (20 Jan. 2023)

RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) Saturday (Jan. 28) called upon the government to declare the Himalayan region an eco-sensitive zone, saying that parts of India’s “history, rich culture and heritage’’ were on the “brink of collapse’’. The SJM has also cited the Char Dham highway project and NTPC tunnel as reasons behind the land subsidence in Joshimath. The SJM has demanded that the Char Dham road-widening project be limited to a certain width, and tht the government should reconsider the Char Dham rail project. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/unbridled-construction-behind-subsidence-declare-himalayas-eco-sensitive-sjm-to-govt-8410213/  (29 Jan. 2023)

Blasting New Delhi-based policymakers who consider the mountains, the Ganga as ‘low hanging fruit’, Uma Bharti said she is scared that these policymakers will one day eat Uttarakhand, the Ganga, and the Himalayas. Uma Bharti said she moved the Supreme Court in 2017 against the NTPC project in which she had said that the project would create ‘irreversible loss’. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/joshimath-sinking-uma-bharti-says-she-warned-of-irreversible-loss-years-ago-vikas-aur-vinash-101673409580407.html  (11 Jan. 2023)

Dave Petley blog on Jan 23, 2023 on Joshimath:- The lack of clarity in terms of the situation from the authorities is remarkable.  Crisis communication is hard, but there is ample evidence that a vacuum of information will be filled by misinformation.  This is leading to considerable speculation, such as a suggestion that the cause might be the loss of ponds that used to be located around the town.

– The landslide continues to move, snowfall has the potential to add water to the system.

–  Simon Gascoin of CNRS has posted a very useful update on CESBIO Multitemp blog about the use of the Alaska Satellite Facility’s web portal (Vertex) to generate deformation time series data for the Joshimath landslide.  This generates a fascinating result: There was a sharp increase in deformation rate in October 2021, but there is a hint in the data that this might have started earlier for the point located closest to the river.  This might support the suggestion that reactivation of this landslide has been triggered by erosion of the toe, but without a more detailed investigation this is conjecture.

– There is no real doubt that this is a landslide, with the mass slipping down the slope.  https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2023/01/23/joshimath-5/  (23 Jan. 2023)

The crisis in Joshimath is an instance of gradual landslide that might have been accelerated due to human activities, scientists and geologists have said. University of Hull vice-chancellor, Professor Dave Petley in an email interview said that while heavy rain and tectonic activity may trigger such events, human activity can also trigger instability, especially where the slope is undercut for road building, poorly designed hydropower projects, deforestation or where water is not being managed well. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/deforestation-poorly-planned-infra-work-affecting-himalayas-says-petley-101674759200214.html  (27 Jan. 2023)

Joshimath crisis is due to landslide, not subsidence: Experts https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/joshimath-crisis-is-due-to-landslide-not-subsidence-experts-101674588657800.html  (25 Jan. 2023)

1st house collapsed in Joshimath on Sunday, Jan 22, 2023. A temple had collapsed earlier. The first crack in a house in Joshimath appeared in Nov 2021. By Nov 2022, 130 houses had developed cracks. By Jan 23, 2023, 863 houses have developed cracks. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/1st-house-collapse-in-crisis-hit-joshimath-101674500590907.html  (24 Jan. 2023)

Cracks in buildings have appeared in a number of towns in Uttarakhand, besides Joshimath, as per this report. These includes Karnaprayag, Rishikesh, Nainital, Chamba (Tehri Garhwal dist), Mussoorie, Jhalimath basti of Agastyamuni block of Rudraprayag, Almora, among others. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/not-just-joshimath-grounds-also-slipping-under-rishikesh-nainital/articleshow/97361581.cms  (27 Jan. 2023)

जोशीमठ भूधंसाव के बीच टिहरी जिले के चंबा के मठियाणगांव (गुल्डी) व मंज्यूड़ गांव जमीन दरकने के मामले सामने आए हैं। चंबा-उत्तरकाशी राजमार्ग पर बनी सुरंग के ऊपर भू-धंसाव से मठियाण गांव के अस्तित्व पर संकट मंडरा रहा है। कई मकानों में बड़ी दरारें पड गई हैं। गांव के सात परिवारों ने अपने मकान छोड़ दिए हैं। प्रभावित परिवारों ने प्रशासन से उपाए करने की गुहार लगाई है। यहां सुरंग के निर्माण के दौरान ही दरारें दिखनी शुरू हो गई थी, जिसके बाद ग्रामीणों ने कई बार सुरंग का निर्माण कार्य भी ठप रखा। स्थानीय लोगों के अनुसार सुरंग निर्माण के कारण उनके आवासीय मकानों में बड़ी-बड़ी दरारें आई हैं। जांच टीमें और भूविज्ञानियों की टीमों ने भी मौका मुआयना  किया, लेकिन, आज तक कोई नतीजा नहीं निकला। https://thehillnews.in/archives/16181  (25 Jan. 2023)

Uttarakhand Decade on, Char Dham ‘guardian’ reinstated After seven days of continuous prayers commencing January 22, the idol of Dhari Devi, regarded as the protector deity and guardian of the Char Dham shrines of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, was reinstalled at its original location at a temple in the midst of the Alaknanda river near Rudraprayag in Pauri Garhwal on Saturday (Jan. 28) morning.

The original rock on which the temple existed had submerged during the construction of the Alaknanda Hydro Electric Power Plant in June 2013. Subsequently, the idol was moved to a nearby temple on June 16, 2013, and later that day, the Kedarnath deluge happened which killed thousands. This, locals attributed to the ‘wrath of the goddess for having been disturbed from her original place’. However, it took almost a decade for the company executing the hydel project – GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd — to get ready the temple where the deity was finally reinstated on Saturday (Jan. 28). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/goddess-pacified-decade-on-char-dham-guardian-reinstated/articleshow/97409015.cms (29 Jan 2023)

Himachal Pradesh Kinnaur panchayat members urge govt to ban more hydel projects In the wake of the Joshimath land subsidence allegedly triggered by an under-construction power project, panchayat representatives in Kinnaur have urged the government to learn a lesson and ban the construction of more power projects in the district, which has a fragile ecology. The village representatives raised the matter in a four-point demand letter handed over to Jagat Singh Negi, the revenue, horticulture and tribal development minister during his visit to the constituency on Sunday (Jan. 22). More than 50 panchayat representatives endorsed the letter. Through the demand charter, the panchayat representatives also raised the issue of laxity in the implementation of the Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act in Kinnaur.

Dinesh Negi, a block development council (BDC) member, says Kinnaur is the largest district in the state in terms of hydel generation. Due to indiscriminate construction of these projects, it has become vulnerable to disaster. “Landslides and flash-flood incidents have become frequent over the past decade. Hydel projects are threatening the existence of Kinnaur. Our government should learn from Joshimath,” Negi said. He said the people of Kinnaur want local MLA Jagat Singh Negi to take up the matter at the state and central levels for stopping all proposed hydel projects and respect local sentiment. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/after-joshimath-kinnaur-panchayat-members-urge-govt-to-ban-more-hydel-projects-101674465497164.html  (23 Jan. 2023)

Govt wants landslide zone mapping expedited The GSI has identified 17,120 land-sliding zones in Himachal Pradesh. The state government had urged the GSI to map the sinking zones after the landside in Nigul Seri in Kinnaur left 28 bus passengers dead in 2021. Bilaspur district has 446 sites prone to landslides, Chamba 389, Hamirpur, which is in a low-lying area has 137, while biggest district Kangra has 1,779 slide prone areas. Kinnaur, known as the powerhouse of the Himalayas due to its hydel projects, has 1,595 sites. Kinnaur is also in seismic zone 5. Kullu is equally susceptible to landslides with 1,337 such sites. Lahaul and Spiti has 2,295 sites, Mandi 1,799 sites, Shimla 1,357, Sirmaur 2,559, Solan 1,036 and Una 391 such sites. There were 117 incidents of landslides in the state last year, State Disaster Management Authority director Sudesh Mokhta said on Wednesday (Jan. 25).

After the increased incidence of landslides in the Batseri and Nigulseri areas of Kinnaur, local residents launched the ‘no-means-no’ campaign against hydel power projects given the fragile ecology. “Over the past year, all power projects that have come up in Kinnaur got a no-objection certificate not only from government agencies but villagers, too. It’s time the government assess the impact on power projects,” said state tribal development and revenue minister Jagat Singh Negi. Environmental concerns grew after cracks were seen in houses at the village located near the 180 MW Bajoli-Holi hydroelectric projects in Chamba district. “There is extensive use of explosives in building roads and tunnels that loosens the soil strata. Construction companies building power projects should use tunnel boring machines,” said Negi.

Environmentalists have sought a moratorium on large dams in the Himalayas. “The writing is on the wall. We don’t need scientific correlation that certain type of construction disturbs the geology, hydrology and ecology in mountains and will have long-term, often irreparable, consequences. The accountability lies squarely with the international financial institutions, central and state governments who are pushing this infrastructure in the name of development,” said Manshi Asher, an environmentalist and researcher. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/himachal-wants-landslide-zone-mapping-expedited-101674653257639.html  (25 Jan. 2023)

NGT: Forest department nod must for Spiti road While disposing of the case, justice Arun Kumar Tyagi also ordered the government to provide land for compensatory afforestation in lieu of the space diverted to road building. He also asked for an action-taken report. The forest department submitted that on the orders of Spiti’s DFO (wildlife), Tabo range’s forest officer had lodged a police complaint against those who had built this illegal road from Gecha to Helipad. It is illegal because it wasn’t approved under the Forest Rights Act (FRA).” The forest department also stated in its reply that it had sought an explanation from the PWD’s executive engineer at Kaza in Spiti. The forest department’s principal secretary filed this reply after a joint committee formed last year by the NGT concluded that a part of the road was unapproved. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/ngt-forest-dept-nod-must-for-spiti-road/articleshow/97295919.cms  (25 Jan. 2023)

Arunachal Pradesh The Effects of Kameng (Bichom Dam) HEP

The Downstream villages has sought the intervention of the Government and NEEPCO. They stated that it’s led to the extinction of many fish and other aquatic species, the disappearance of birds in floodplains, and huge losses of the forest, wetlands and farmland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGgBuNY3hqE  (30 Jan. 2023)

Rajasthan 3 hydro power plant units start functioning again after 4 years Three 43 MW units of the hydro power plant at Rana Pratap Sagar Dam that submerged nearly four years ago have been made operational by the Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd (RVUNL). Chairman and managing director RK Sharma said, “In 2019, the power units were completely submerged in Chambal water.” One more 43 MW unit will be started soon. The 172 MW (43 MW x 4 units) hydroelectric power station was established on Chambal river in 1968 under the Chambal Valley Project of Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh.

– On December 29, 2021, after spending only Rs 50 lakh the first unit started generation. Power generation was started from it second unit in June-2022. On January 21 2023, third unit was made operational, and efforts are ongoing to start the fourth unit.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/3-hydro-power-plant-units-start-functioning-again-after-4-years/articleshow/97336748.cms  (26 Jan. 2023)

Telangana One more pumped-storage hydel project proposed Another off-stream closed loop pumped storage hydro-electric project with 600 megawatt is being proposed to be established in Telangana with a private firm planning to set up the facility near Mailaram village in Nizamabad district with an estimated cost of ₹3,293 crore. The project proponents plan to have one unit of 300 MW capacity and another two units of 150 MW each capacity in the pumped hydel facility. According to a proposal submitted to the expert appraisal committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) on river valley and hydro-electric projects, the project is being project in an area of 419.43 hectares (1,036.43 acres), including 259.26 hectares forest land.

– The project would have one-time requirement of 0.438 tmc ft water proposed to be drawn from nearby Kappal Vagu, a tributary of Pedda Vagu rivulet, with non consumptive re-utilisation of 0.342 tmc ft water for re-circulation between to the two proposed reservoirs. The capacity proposed for upper reservoir is 0.347 tmc ft and that of lower reservoir at 0.342 tmc ft live storage. It would have a 659.39 metre long circular steel lined penstock to feed the 300 MW unit and another 559.39 metre long steel lined penstock to feed the two units of 150 MW each. All the three units would have reversible turbines to generate power. The EAC in meeting on Dec 28 had asked the project proponent to resubmit the proposal after furnishing the additional information sought.

– In November last, the panel has issued ToR for a pumped storage hydel project in Nirmal district with 1,200 MW capacity after two other proposal for a 3,960 MW pumped project in Mulug district and another 1,200 MW project in Nirmal district have failed to make headway. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/one-more-pumped-storage-hydel-project-proposed-in-telangana/article66424805.ece  (23 Jan. 2023)

Industry Average tariff of hydro projects commissioned in the last 6 years has been around Rs 5.42 per unit. Higher than any other fuel source power price. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/reviving-indias-sleeping-energy-giant-hydro-pumped-hydro-power/97294420  (25 Jan. 2023)

MoEF Key decisions from EAC minutes of the meeting held on Dec 28, 2022:  1. Astha Telangana Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (600 MW), in 419.43 Ha at Village Mailaram, Dist Nizamabad (Telangana) by Astha Green Energy Ventures India Private Ltd – Terms of Reference: More information sought.

2. Malshej Ghat Bhorande Pumped Storage Project (1440 MW) in 116.5 Ha Village Adoshi & Bhorande, Tehsil Junnar & Murbad, Dist Pune & Thane (Mah) by Adani Green Energy Ltd – Terms of Reference: Deferred on request of Project proponent. http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/2301202338061264FinalMoM_39_EAC_River_valley_28_12_2022.pdf 


Polavaram Project CWC agrees to joint survey of submergence areas in Telangana The Central Water Commission (CWC) has agreed to a joint survey on the areas of submergence in Telangana at full reservoir level (FRL) of Polavaram project after considering the proof submitted and explained by the representative of the State at an inter-state meeting held on the issue. Representatives of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha as also those of the CWC and Polavaram Project Authority participated in the meeting chaired by Chairman of the CWC Kushvinder Vohra. However, there was no participation of Chhattisgarh, one of the stakeholders, in the meeting held here on Jan 25, 2023.

– At Wedenesday’s (Jan. 25) meeting, the officials also presented Survey of India maps marking the submergence areas at FRL of Polavaram. Further, they also presented proof of submergence with regard to eight outfall sluices in Bhadrachalam area including Murredu, Kinnerasani and six other major rivulets due to backwater effect of Polavaram at FRL. Convinced of Telangana’s presentation, the CWC Chairman agreed to the joint survey on the submergence areas in Telangana and directed the authorities of AP to cooperate for the survey.

– A joint survey has already been conducted as per National Green Tribunal (NGT) orders in the past on the backwater effect on the water flow in Murredu and Kinnerasani rivulets at FRL Polavaram and it was identified that they would have submergence impact. The meeting asked the authorities of AP to demark the submergence areas found in the survey conducted after NGT orders. The CWC has directed PPA and AP to take up fresh joint survey on the backwater effect on six other major rivulets, Manuguru Heavy Water Plant, Bhadrachalam temple and its surroundings. Odisha ENC Das requested for a submergence study in Odisha areas based on the July 22 flood of last year. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/cwc-agrees-to-joint-survey-of-polavaram-submergence-areas-in-telangana/article66433287.ece  (25 Jan. 2023)

Testing of Polavaram’s D-Wall to begin Tests to ascertain the structural stability of the nearly 700-metres long non-scoured and exposed portion of the diaphragm wall of the Polavaram irrigation project are being taken up from Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023. Experts from the NHPC arrived at the Polavaram irrigation project site on Tuesday for the tests. They would do tests of mainly electrical resistivity and cross-borehole tomography.

– The plan is to have tests on the exposed portion of the diaphragm wall, out of a total length of 1,400 metres. With some 700 meters of diaphragm wall in two portions, like reach-1 and 2, having been scoured and submerged in the river water, there is no chance of any tests on it. This would be replaced with a fresh wall.

– They would find out the health of the 700-metres  portion of the non-scoured and exposed wall. If it is found healthy and intact, a fresh diaphragm wall of 700 metres would be constructed by replacing the scoured and submerged portion of the wall. This would be joined with the healthy diaphragm wall. The tests will take 45-60 days.

– If the non-scoured portion of the diaphragm wall is also damaged, there will be a new wall for the entire stretch of 1,400 metres and the existing damaged diaphragm wall would be turned into a dummy.

– For construction of either a portion or the full length diaphragm wall, the state has to import construction equipment from Germany to construct a 1.5 metres-width diaphragm wall. No such equipment is available here. The width of the diaphragm wall is relatively high as against regular size of one or 1.2 metres. The maximum depth from where the diaphragm wall is to be constructed is nearly 100 metres. It takes nearly a year to take up the construction of the D-wall after mobilizing all the requisite equipment from Germany. This is expected to cost nearly 400-600 crore. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/250123/testing-of-polavarams-d-wall-to-begin-today-nhpc-team-arrives.html  (25 Jan. 2023)

The experts, who included A. Vipul Sagar, N.K. Pandey and M.P. Singh, would carry out the investigation for three weeks. They would assess whether the 700-metre diaphragm wall would support the reconstruction of the damaged portions or not. “The technical studies will be completed in three weeks. However, its final outcome is likely to be known after two months,” sources associated with the irrigation project told The Hindu. The technical experts inspected the project site and gathered inputs from the construction agency and Irrigation engineers. Meanwhile, Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) Chief Executive Officer Shiv Nandan Kumar and Member- Secretary M. Raghuram reviewed the progress of the project construction with the MEIL team at the project site. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/nhpc-experts-begin-technical-investigation-into-structural-stability-of-polavaram-diaphragm-wall-in-andhra-pradesh/article66432514.ece   (25 Jan. 2023)

Tamil Nadu Mettur dam’s surplus water discharge record high this year According to Water Resources Department (WRD) officials, the Mettur dam is breaking many of its previous year’s records this year. For this irrigation year, the dam received 670 TMC of water due to heavy rain in its catchment areas, and a total of 682 TMC was discharged. Of this, 201 TMC was for delta irrigation, while 8.4 TMC was for canal irrigation. The remaining 472.6 TMC was discharged as surplus water from the dam. The officials said that in the 89 years of the dam’s history, this is the highest amount of surplus water discharged, beating its previous record of 321 TMC that was let out during the irrigation year of 1961, 62 years ago. “This year, the Mettur dam was maintained at its full capacity of 120 ft for 136 days, over 100 ft for 361 days and the surplus water was discharged for 129 days,” they added.

On Saturday (Jan. 28) morning, the Mettur dam’s capacity stood at 103.87 ft against its total of 120 ft. The storage level stood at 69.94 TMC, against its full storage of 93.47 TMC. Inflow into the dam increased from Friday’s 896 cusecs to 933 cusecs. The discharge into the Cauvery through the dam and powerhouse tunnel was maintained at 6,000 cusecs. As the dam has more than 100 ft of water, the WRD officials said for delta irrigation in the upcoming irrigation year, there would be no issue in discharging water on the customary date of June 12. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/mettur-dams-surplus-water-discharge-touches-a-record-high-this-year/article66443277.ece  (28 Jan. 2023)

Sardar Sarovar Dam Decades after the Narmada Bachao Andolan began, the struggle over evictions still continues. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/the-never-ending-nightmare-of-narmada-magazine-254813  (20 Jan. 2023)

The only operational floating dispensary, launched by the Maharashtra government a decade ago to provide healthcare to around 12,000 tribals residing in nine hamlets of Nandurbar’s Akkalkuwa tehsil — who were displaced during the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam — broke down on January 20, 2023 developing a crack in its hull. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/only-floating-dispensary-to-cater-to-9-hamlets-in-nandurbar-breaks-down-8408700/  (28 Jan. 2023)

Maharashtra Speaking on the deadline of completion of the Gosikhurd Dam project in Bhandara, the Deputy CM said the Union government had allotted funds for the project and work is progressing as per schedule. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/work-on-patanjali-plant-gosikhurd-dam-on-track-for-completion-fadnavis-122121800790_1.html  (18 Dec. 2022)


Mahadayi Water Dispute CJI DY Chandrachud remarked that while he might not hear the dispute, he would assign a coram for the same. CJI DY Chandrachud stated that he would list the matter on 13th February. However, Senior Advocate Venkatesh Dhond pointed out that the divergence of the rivers would take place before 13th February. Accordingly, CJI DY Chandrachud stated that he would list the matter before 13th February. The Kalsa tributary begins in Karnataka and flows into Goa at Surla becoming Surla tributary that meets the main Mhadei river in Goa. The Bhandura nalla also begins in Karnataka and joins Mhadei. The state of Karnataka has now received permission to divert Kalsa, Hartal and Bhandura to Malprabha basin. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/mhadei-river-dispute-supreme-court-agrees-to-list-before-february-13-220060  (27 Jan. 2023)


Truck falls off vessel into Ganga, driver feared drowned At least one person was feared drowned after a vessel carrying trucks laden with stone chip lost its balance in the Ganga river between Sahibganj in Jharkhand) and Manihari in Bihar on Friday (Dec. 30, 2022) morning, locals and officials said. The accident occurred around 7am at Garam ghat in Sahebganj when stone-laden trucks were being loaded over the anchored transport vessel on the southern bank of Ganga to take them to the site of under-construction bridge joining Sahebganj to Manihari in Katihar, Bihar.

Truck falls off vessel into Ganga, driver feared drowned. HT

“As per the initial investigation, one truck drowned into the river while three other trucks toppled on the ship itself. The driver of the truck that went into the river is missing. Divers have been called from Kolkata who are likely to reach by Saturday (Dec. 31) morning,” said Sahebganj superintendent of police Anuranjan Kispotta. On the reason behind the accident, the SP said it might have occurred as ship got imbalanced due to some reason when the trucks were being boarded on the vessel. Exact reason would be established only after investigation is over, he added. The vessel belonged to Dilip Buildcon Limited (DBL), which is engaged in the construction of a mega bridge on Ganga between Sahibganj and Manihari.

In March this year, at least five persons had drowned after a vessel carrying trucks laden with stone chips had lost its balance midstream in the Ganga between Samda Ghat in Jharkhand’s Sahibganj and Manihari in Katihar. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/truck-falls-off-vessel-into-ganga-driver-feared-drowned-101672417445206.html  (30 Dec. 2022)


Himachal Pradesh Govt seeks Rs. 350 cr for Nurpur irrigation project

Deputy CM Mukesh Agnihotri with Kushvinder Vohra, Chairman of Central Water Commission in Delhi on Jan. 23. The Tribune

Very interesting to see deputy CM of a state presenting flowers to CWC chief and requesting for release of funds. Have not seen such a photo earlier. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/dy-cm-seeks-350-cr-from-centre-for-nurpur-irrigation-project-473186  (24 Jan. 2023)

Jharkhand Solar lift irrigation system helps farmers switch to multicropping In a few blocks of Bokaro last year, the district administration, led by Deputy Commissioner Kuldeep Chaudhary, promoted the installation of ‘solar lift irrigation system’ for achieving year-round cultivation through renewable energy. Chaudhary is among the 19 winners of The Indian Express Excellence in Governance Awards for 2020 and 2021. He said one of the bottlenecks they faced earlier was the drying up of water sources during June and July months, making farming almost impossible. According to the district administration, the solar lift irrigation system has helped more than 800 families in three blocks of Bokaro — Jaridih, Kasmar and Petarbar — to improve their living condition. A door-to-door survey was conducted to understand the need and feasibility of the scheme after which the matter was discussed in the gram sabhas.  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/regional-india/solar-lift-irrigation-system-helps-farmers-switch-to-multicropping-8410084/  (29 Jan. 2023)


Pune River Front Development-Death of a City

This is a presentation by Sarang Yadwadkar chronicling the dark side of “Development”. An injustice being done to the river and the people of Pune. Maybe the future generations can view this and see that there were a few voices that aligned with the truth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zODFzrJquGs  (21 May 2022)

National river conference in February Pune city will host a national-level river conference `Dhara 2023’ from February 13 to 15. The national conference will be on the topic of river improvement, water management, water treatment, groundwater recharge, and management of groundwater, purification of water and sewage treatment. Municipal commissioners of 44 civic bodies from across the country will attend the conference jointly organised by the Union government and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-national-river-february-civic-bodies-take-part-8401972/   (24 Jan. 2023)

Indrayani; Alandi Dr Neeraj Adkar image shows thick froth layer covering river.  https://twitter.com/neerajadkar/status/1618582489605496832?s=20&t=3oMffRChNqDfrVIdpGRD2g  (26 Jan. 2021)

Frequent toxic foam in river worries residents The residents of the temple town of Alandi have raised an alarm over repeated formation of toxic foam on the Indrayani river, attributing it to the release of untreated waste from housing societies and industrial effluents. Arjun Medankar, an activist from Alandi pursuing the issue with the authorities, told TOI, “Earlier, the foam would appear twice or thrice a year. But this year, it is seen almost every fortnight, posing a risk to the health. The authorities need to take corrective measures to stop the pollution.” Amid the rising pollution, the incidents of fish dying have also been reported repeatedly, the residents said.

The residents claimed that despite raising the issue, the MPCB, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and Alandi Municipal Council were yet to pay heed to it. Vilas Kate, a lawyer-activist from the area, said, “Hundreds of devotees take a holy dip in the river. A few also perform the rituals of the last rites. The issue is not only about pollution but also about people’s faith and devotion.”  Ankush Jadhav, the chief officer of the civic council, said, “We have been urging the PCMC authorities to set up STPs to prevent pollution. The Alandi Municipal Council has decided to set up an STP of 4.2MLD capacity.” Sanjay Kulkarni, head of the environment section of the PCMC, said, “The civic body has prepared a DPR on the STPs. The river is getting polluted at multiple locations due to development in Lonavla, Talegaon Dabhade and Dehu.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/maharashtra-frequent-toxic-foam-in-indrayani-river-worries-residents-of-temple-town/articleshow/96142593.cms  (11 Dec. 2022)

Residents from Alandi have raised an alarm as a huge amount of foam has been noticed in the Indrayani river since Sunday (Feb. 14, 2021). On February 1, 2021 the same foam formation was noticed in the Pavana river at the Keju Devi temple boat club and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) sent the water samples for testing.

“Every year we face this issue, but there is no concrete solution by MPCB so far. In the past few occasions incidents of fish dying have also occurred,” said Suresh Kali, who was taking pictures when HT visited the spot. The Indrayani river originates in the Western ghats near Lonavala, passes through Kamshet, Dehu, Pimpri- Chinchwad and Alandi, and later meets the Bhima river at Talapur in Shirur tehsil. “Many residents have a habit of using the Indrayani river water for drinking purposes which we keep on telling them not to, as water pollution is happening at the regular intervals in the river,” added Kali.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/foam-in-indrayani-river-worries-alandi-residents-101613559901978.html  (17 Feb. 2021)

A thick layer of toxic foam on the surface of Indrayani river waters in the temple town of Alandi has caused alarm and concern among local residents, many of whom use it for drinking and domestic purposes. Residents as well as officials of the AMC have alleged that effluents released into the river at multiple locations by industrial units in PCMC limits are causing the problem. Citizens said that water supplied by the AMC is contaminated. They blamed the council and the Pune district administration for failing to address the issue and pointed out that the water was harmful for daily use. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/toxic-foam-on-indrayani-river-triggers-concern/articleshow/76843162.cms  (08 July 2020)

Gomti Only 10% sewage being treated: Health Minister In a shocking admission, Minister of State for Health Mayankeshwar Sharan Singh said that only 10 per cent of the sewage water is getting treated at STPs in Lucknow which is the main cause of pollution in the Gomti river. Municipal commissioner Indrajit Singh claimed that 27 drains are being tapped with the help of STPs and efforts are being made to tap the remaining seven nullahs. The Minister, however, said that those drains are still filled with untreated water which is being dumped directly into Gomti. https://www.businessinsider.in/science/environment/news/only-10-of-sewage-water-is-being-treated-before-being-dumped-in-gomti-river-says-minister-of-state-for-health-mayankeshwar-sharan-singh/articleshow/94978401.cms  (20 Oct. 2022) The Lucknow bench of the High Court took expressed anger when no Municipal Corporation official appeared for a hearing on Gomti river pollution. The court said, this shows the negligence and neglect of the local officials regarding the pollution in the river. With this remark, the court has ordered the Municipal Commissioner to appear on October 19 with full details. https://www.amarujala.com/lucknow/up-high-court-said-local-officer-careless-about-pollution-in-gomti-river  (25 Sept. 2022) Research survey concluded that large number of drains are responsible for pollution in river Gomti that enter directly into the river carrying untreated industrial and domestic waste. In this present article, an attempt is being made to review the various steps should be taken on personal basis to tackle the problem of Gomti river water pollution. https://www.ijcbr.in/html-article/14338  (June 2021)


IWP Why rivers don’t flow anymore In a two-part series, we look at the health of rivers across India. Here’s a comprehensive assessment of the rivers of the north and the east. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/why-rivers-dont-flow-anymore  (07 Jan. 2017)

Video Why rivers shouldn’t look like this The quintessential image of a river you might recognise from post cards and paintings – nice and straight with a tidy riverbank – is not actually how it is supposed to look. It’s the result of centuries of industrial and agricultural development. And it’s become a problem, exacerbating the impact of both extreme flooding and extreme drought. Josh Toussaint-Strauss looks into how so many rivers ended up this way, and how river restoration is helping to reestablish biodiversity and combat some of the effects of the climate crisis

– ‘This is what a river should look like’: Dutch rewilding project turns back the clock 500 years. ‘We make nature here’: pioneering Dutch project repairs image after outcry over starving animals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkmJRJaPBXE  (26 Jan. 2023)

Interview Orijit Sen on creating first Indian graphic novel ‘River of Stories’ Between 1991 and 1994, Orijit Sen created India’s first graphic novel titled River of Stories. This work, as timeless as the ones that inspired it, is a piercing critique of the imagination of development and practice of politics in India. It tells the story of the Rewa Andolan – a fictional people’s movement closely-based on the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Here is an interview of Sen where he describes how and why he wrote the book and why it is relevant even today. https://scroll.in/article/1042587/my-story-springs-from-nature-orijit-sen-on-creating-first-indian-graphic-novel-river-of-stories  (28 Jan. 2023)

Report Shielding hijol, a floodplain tree, from climate impacts Most of the habitats along the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna floodplains, suitable for growth of hijol tree, may disappear because of erratic rainfall and temperature by 2050, a study has claimed. Floodplain tree species are uniquely adapted to flood regimes. Conservation strategies involving the community are needed to rejuvenate the species. Collaborative management actions for conserving the species between India and Bangladesh are also required. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/shielding-hijol-a-floodplain-tree-from-climate-impacts/  (24 Jan. 2023)

Karnataka 17 stretches of rivers are polluted as per CPCB report. The SPCB have only promises to offer about future after the drainage and STP work now onging is done. Clearly lame promises. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/17-rivers-in-karnataka-choked-with-sewage-waste-1183601.html   (22 Jan. 2023)

NARMADA Madhya Pradesh Rare dinosaur nests discovered in Narmada valley A study of the nests and eggs has revealed intimate details about the lives of the long-necked sauropods that walked the region more than 66 million years ago. “The eggs were found from the estuary formed at a place where the Tethys Sea merged with the Narmada when Seychelles had broken away from the Indian plate. The separation of Seychelles had led to the incursion of the Tethys Sea 400 kms inside the Narmada Valley,” Verma, who works in the Higher Secondary School, Bakaner, Dhar district, told PTI here.

The number of eggs in each nest ranged from one to 20. “During the field investigations carried out between 2017 and 2020, we found extensive hatcheries of dinosaurs in Bagh and Kukshi areas in Dhar District, MP, notably from the villages Akhada, Dholiya Raipuriya, Jhaba, Jamniapura, and Padlya,” the researchers said. They said the region falls between the eastern most Lameta exposures at Jabalpur in upper Narmada in valley central India and Balasinor in the west in lower Narmada valley in western central India. https://www.hindustantimes.com/science/rare-dinosaur-nests-discovered-in-narmada-valley-in-mp-report-101674312018842.html  (21 Jan. 2023)

Uttarakhand छोटी नदियों को बचाने की बड़ी मुहिम पानी के बड़े होते संकट के चलते अल्मोड़ा में छोटी-बड़ी नदियों को पुनर्जीवित करने का अभियान चलाया जा रहा है। कोसी नदी पुनर्जनन अभियान राज्य सरकार चला रही है। जबकि स्वाल को पुनर्जीवित करने का अभियान स्थानीय समुदाय की भागीदारी से शुरू किया गया है। https://hindi.newsclick.in/index.php/Almora-Swal-River-Tour-Big-campaign-to-save-small-rivers  (29 Jan. 2023)

YAMUNA Delhi Millennium bus depot land back, DDA plans to restore it DDA recently recovered around 60 acres used by Delhi Transport Corporation for the Millennium Bus Depot for many years. The land is located on the Yamuna floodplain and DDA is working on its restoration.

A DDA official said that the land has a blacktop since it was used for the parking of buses and the restoration, as such, will take time. “We have just got the land back. We will prepare a concept plan befitting the Yamuna floodplain, probably in line with other restoration projects underway on the Yamuna banks,” the official said.

Prior to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, a temporary depot was erected on the riverbank with parking space for around 1,000 buses. Other facilities, including five workshop-cum-scanning centres, a logistics centre and two CNG-filling stations, were also put up. “Whatever we do at the site will be done keeping in mind the NGT order,” said DDA vice-chairman Subhasish Panda. The area is situated next to the Nizamuddin Bridge and behind IP Power Station.

Manoj Misra, convenor of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said that the order to shift the depot and restore the land to DDA was welcomed. “Anand Arya, an environmentalist, and I have been pursuing the matter since 2013 and we even filed petitions in the Supreme Court and high court for restoration of the riverbank land,” said Misra. “In 2011, the Delhi Urban Art Commission had advised that all structure from the bus depot should be removed and the floodplain be restored. I hope that the DDA will do as advised now.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/millennium-bus-depot-land-back-delhi-development-authority-plans-to-restore-it/articleshow/97409531.cms  (29 Jan. 2023)

Haryana Pollution board seeks ATR to make river pollution-free The SPCB has sought the action taken report (ATR) from officials of the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), Irrigation Department, Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP), HSIIDC and Panchayati Raj to make the Yamuna pollution-free.

Sources said 37 per cent of the sewage was flowing untreated in the drains 1 and 2, which was also a major cause of polluting the Yamuna. Besides, the CPCB, in its latest survey report, said ammonical nitrogen load in the Yamuna was 64.2 per cent through textile industries only and Panipat had the maximum role which was 45.07 per cent, which was also a big cause of polluting the river. P Raghwendra Rao, Chairman, HSPCB, at a meeting directed officials to make a concrete action plan to stop it.

The Executive Engineer, PHED, has also been directed to the conduct efficacy study of the CETP of 21 MLD in Phase-1, 2 of Sector 29 part-2. The Chairman has also directed the Irrigation and Water Resource Department to conduct a fresh survey of the sources of untreated discharge into the drains which leads to Yamuna, to remove the silt from the banks of the drains, to stop the illegal discharge points into drains made by individuals, private persons, industries etc and to provide mesh fencing on the bridges of drains, minors and rivers to avoid throwing of the solid waste. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/pollution-board-seeks-atr-to-make-yamuna-pollution-free-474500  (29 Jan. 2023)

Annual Saraswati Mahotsav begins in Yamunanagar https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/annual-saraswati-mahotsav-begins-in-yamunanagar-101674676790378.html  (26 Jan. 2023)

Allahabad Floating air-conditioned restaurant to  come up on river The restaurant being funded by the Smart City Project would be constructed on a floating pre-fabricator structure covering an area of 204 square meters near the Boat club on the banks of the Yamuna and a tender has been floated by the tourism department. The tender is for constructing the restaurant and supply of sporting facilities for water sport, which would also be introduced near the floating restaurant.

The restaurant would be built with the help of a private agency which will be entrusted with the responsibility of running it and providing all the facilities under public private partnership (PPP) model. The selected agency will do all the development work at its own expense. There would be provision of ample lights in the restaurant and all the lights would be using LED panels. There will be proper fire fighting equipment installed in the restaurant. Most of the electrical gadgets would be powered with solar energy for which solar panels would be installed at various points of the restaurant.

The restaurant would hold its position in the water with help of specialised marine anchoring equipment which would be installed by the agency that will construct the restaurant. Equipment like heavy duty sinkers, stability counter weight, specialised marine grade anchors, marine great heavy-duty chains, wires, ropes, chemical concrete anchors, shackles, ropes, etc., will be used to give stability to the floating restaurant. Along with this anchoring would be such that the floating structure is able to get the depth and flood levels during monsoon and summer period of the river. There would be provision for life boats as well to meet any emergency. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/floating-air-conditioned-restaurant-to-soon-come-up-on-yamuna-river-in-allahabad/articleshow/97410966.cms  (29 Jan. 2023)


Report Will India lose its rare Dolphins in silence? Unplanned development and increasing anthropogenic pressures have made this home a deathtrap for the magnificent creature, which is also India’s national aquatic animal. The constant strandings in the multiple barrages over the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Karnaphuli river systems and the ambitious Inland Waterways project have threatened the existence of this endangered species.

“There are many barrages on river Ganga as well as its tributaries along the India-Nepal border, in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, etc. When the river water is diverted, especially during the monsoon, late monsoon (August-September), is when we believe most animals get flushed in the canal system. This has been identified as a serious issue in dolphin conservation action,” explains wildlife biologist Dr Shailendra Singh of Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA). TSA has the only dolphin rescue programme in India and the second in Asia. The only other dolphin rescue programme in Asia is in Pakistan, for the Bhulan or Indus river dolphin.

“Earlier, the dolphins could be seen in river Ganga right from the footings of the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. They were found all across Ganga and its tributaries. But with several barrages built over the river over the years, their presence is now limited to smaller pockets,” says Dr Sandeep Behera, Biodiversity consultant of Namami Gange. He is also a committee member of the newly launched Project Dolphin.

However, while efforts continue, several anthropogenic factors still continue to threaten the endangered dolphin population. Since 2016, when the Central Government announced Inland Waterways on river Ganga, concerns have been raised that the project will threaten the Gangetic Dolphins and their habitat. Experts have warned that dredging activity for inland waterways might disturb the dolphins and other species and cause irreversible damage.

A study conducted by researchers Mayukh Dey, Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Tadamichi Morisaka and Nachiket Kelkar has established that an increase in underwater noise due to motorised vessels resulted in major alterations to acoustic responses, strong masking of echolocation clicks, and high metabolic costs to river dolphins in the Ganga River.  “Vessel noise impacts were the strongest at low water depth in the dry season. Significant increases in vessel traffic during the dry season (March) indicate that dolphins might suffer from the combined impacts of high underwater noise and declining river discharge, and corresponding declines in fish prey availability due to competition with fishing activity,” the report stated. https://www.indiejournal.in/article/will-india-lose-it-s-rare-dolphins-in-silence   (25 Jan. 2023)

Bengaluru Otters in City: Hype vrs reality Seshadri KS Even amid rapid urbanisation and the loss of various species, cities like Bengaluru have managed to retain a lot of bio-diversity. In this light, the presence of the otter is not unusual or surprising or novel. One of the first sightings of the smooth coated otter was from the Roerich estate along Kanakapura road in 2017. Subsequently, in 2018, a lone otter was sighted in the Jubilee Garden of IISc, and then another was observed from the Hesaraghatta lake.  All these sightings appear to suggest that the otters may not be extinct from the city and have, somehow, survived in the fast-changing landscape. Questions about how they persist in this fast-changing, human-dominated landscape are still a mystery.

Further research in this direction could help us understand the needs of an aquatic carnivore such as the otter. For otters, we could think of our lake systems as seasonal interconnected waterways that they were. We could make sewage treatment more efficient. Connecting our green spaces along the waterways and roads to facilitate the movement of biodiversity is what the city should do. Perhaps then, we all could watch otters frolic by the water’s edge. https://www.deccanherald.com/science-and-environment/otters-in-the-city-hype-vs-reality-1185436.html  (28 Jan. 2023)

Andhra Pradesh Mass mortality of Olive Ridley turtles in Godavari region  Hundreds of vulnerable Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) have washed ashore along the coastline between Kakinada and Antarvedi in the Godavari region during the ongoing annual breeding season on the east coast. The breeding grounds – Sakhinetipalli, Malikipuram, Mamidikuduru and Allavaram – have been witnessing the mass mortality of the turtles over the past few weeks. The effluents being released from the aqua ponds along the coastline and the discharges from the pipelines of the onshore oil exploration facilities are also blamed for the mass mortality of the turtles. Since early January, a group of locals have photographed as many as 70 Olive Ridley turtles which have been found dead in their breeding grounds between Kakinada and Antarvedi.

Environmental activist Venkatipathiraja Yenumala, in a complaint to the MoEF&CC, the AP Forest Department and the SPCB, said, “There is mass mortality of Olive Ridley turtles in the Mandals of Sakhinetipalli, Malikipuram, Mamidikuduru and Allavaram in the Konaseema region, where treated water is being discharged into the sea through pipelines by the oil exploration units including ONGC facilities.” In 2021, Mr. Venkatipathiraja waged a legal battle against the marine and groundwater pollution in the Konaseema region in the NGT.  “The waste water from the aqua ponds is also being released into the sea and it is suspected to be one of the reasons for the mortality of turtles,” Mr. Venkatipathiraja told The Hindu. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/mass-mortality-of-olive-ridley-turtles-in-godavari-region-of-andhra-pradesh-raises-concerns/article66426895.ece  (24 Jan. 2023)


Himachal Pradesh Illegal muck dumping by NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) contractors is harming the capacity, environment and fisheries of Bhakra Dam.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/illegal-muck-dumping-pollutes-bhakra-dam-reservoir-in-bilaspur/articleshow/97433651.cms  (30 Jan. 2023)


SANDRP Blog 2022 Riverbed Mining: 5 Bridges Collapsed, 22 Threatened The available media reports reveal that brazen riverbed mining activities have led to damage of a railways bridge in Himachal and found damaging the structures of five other railways bridges one each in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh (two of them are road cum railways bridges) in India in 2022.

Similarly, four road bridges have collapsed and at least structures of 22 other road bridges (including 6 in Jharkhand, 5 in Uttarakhand, 3 in J&K, 2 each in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab and 1 each in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh) have suffered significant damages or faced serious safety threats due to destructive riverbed mining practices which is also found threatening flood safety structures, local roads, farmlands, groundwater table, irrigation and potable water supply structures at scores of places across the country. https://sandrp.in/2023/01/25/2022-riverbed-mining-5-bridges-collapsed-22-threatened/  (25 Jan. 2023)

Chambal Sanctuary Rampant illegal sand mining in Chambal: Uma Bharti Former chief minister Uma Bharti on Friday (Jan. 20) took to Twitter and alleged rampant illegal mining activities in the Chambal river. She claimed that like the army practices with hundreds of tanks in Rajasthan, the scene in Madhya Pradesh was similar with hundreds of vehicles moving in the sand under Chambal bridge. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/rampant-illegal-sand-mining-in-chambal-uma/articleshow/97187770.cms  (21 Jan. 2023)

Rajasthan In mining landscape, the rot runs deep Second part by Devendra Pratap Singh Shekhawat on illegal sand, stone mining affairs in Rajasthan. Dubiously obtained mining leases, unpaid fines running into crores, fake transit passes and overloaded dumpers are routinely overlooked in a rush to meet Delhi-NCR’s construction needs. https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/in-rajasthans-mining-landscape-the-rot-runs-deep  (26 Jan. 2023)

Uttar Pradesh कैराना के नगला राई के खनन पट्टे पर उड़ाई जा रही है NGT के नियमों की धज्जिया. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va5cRFLokmw  (25 Jan. 2023)

Jammu & Kashmir Karewas crumble under infrastructure Karewas are ancient tablelands of the Kashmir Valley. Their soft soils are key to the region’s agricultural prowess in saffron, apples and almonds. Rich in fossils, karewas also hold clues to studying past environments. The karewas are imperilled by rapid urbanisation and illegal extractive land uses. Karewa soils now line the base of highways or railway tracks and karewa sites are being converted to commercial residential areas. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/nourishing-soils-of-kashmirs-karewas-crumble-under-infrastructure/  (27 Jan. 2023)

Tamil Nadu Trichy police arrest six for mining sand from Cauvery Police said on Saturday (Jan. 28) that the arrested people claimed that they were transporting the sand from a point where they had stored it after mining from the river when the permission was given earlier. However, investigation revealed that they had mined the sand from the Cauvery riverbed. All of them were arrested under sections of the Mines and Minerals (development and regulation) Act 1957. They were remanded in judicial custody. The Kollidam police also booked a case of illegal sand mining against an unknown person under the MM Act on Friday (Jan. 27). Police said that the person who was riding the bullock cart loaded with a quarter unit of river sand escaped after seeing the police. The Kattuputhur police booked P Dharmaraj, 21, for illegally carrying river sand in his bullock cart near the Cauvery river in Kaduvetti on Friday. Dharmaraj is absconding. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/police-arrest-six-for-mining-sand-from-cauvery-bed/articleshow/97410484.cms  (29 Jan. 2023)

Assam 2 dies in truck-dumper collision On January 24, under Boko Police station in Kamrup (Rural) district, a Tata dumper collided with a truck traveling in the opposite direction on NH 17. At least two people were killed in the accident.. Both truck drivers were trapped in their seats after the collision, and as the trucks caught fire, they perished from burns. “A Guwahati-bound Tata Dumper carrying sand was parked by the roadside to take a break, and in the meantime, the Goalpara-bound Tata Dumper and the other truck collided face to face,” Chandan Sharma a local person said. Sharma went on to say that the incident only occurred because the truck headed towards Guwahati attempted to pass another parked Tata Dumper. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/assam-news/2-dies-in-kamrup-district-following-a-truck-dumper-collision-634501  (24 Jan. 2023)

Haryana NGT slaps ₹68cr fine on 343 stone crushers for flouting green norms NGT has imposed a penalty of Rs 68 crore on 343 stone crushers in Charkhi Dadri for violating environmental norms. The order came on a petition by local resident Vinod Kumar Jangra, who alleged that dust and dirt from the stone crushers were adversely affecting the environment and public health. Following the plea, the court had asked for a factual report. The stone crushing units have one month to deposit the amount, failing which the pollution board can take ‘coercive action’. The amount collected would be used for the restoration of the environment in the area. The CPCB and SPCB will act as nodal agencies for coordination and compliance of the order. Apart from imposing the environmental compensation, the NGT said that the CPCB could install five machines to monitor the air quality of the area around them.

The tribunal also observed that the fact-finding report had revealed that many of the crushers had not even obtained plantation plans from the authorities concerned. “We fail to understand what the compulsion before the authorities is in ignoring such large-scale violations. Let the chairman, state PCB, take remedial action, including action against erring officers involved in the process, coordinating with all concerned state authorities,” it said, before listing the matter for hearing on May 22. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/ngt-slaps-68cr-fine-on-343-stone-crushers-for-flouting-green-norms/articleshow/97238598.cms  (23 Jan. 2023)


Good to see EDIT in The Hindustan Times on Jan 25, 2023, but the language could have been clearer and stronger. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/focus-on-saving-india-s-wetlands-101674565806039.html  (24 Jan. 2023)

Madhya Pradesh Newest Ramsar wetland covered in invasive water hyacinth Sankhya Sagar an artificial lake in Shivpuri district which was declared a Ramsar site in July 2022 has virtually disappeared under a thick layer of water hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes), an invasive species native to South Africa. The lake spreads across 248 hectares (612.82 acres) with a catchment of 37,522 ha and helps maintain the ecological balance of the Madhav National Park.

Sankhya Sagar supports significant populations of 19 indigenous fish species, which spawn and breed in its habitat, according to the website for Ramsar wetlands. The water body has a mix of riverine and palustrine (marsh) habitat fish populations, making them critical to maintaining the overall biodiversity of the region.  The fish species, in turn, support the population of piscivorous (fish-eating) birds. Waterfowls are also present here in large numbers. The lake is home to 73 species of birds and welcomes migratory birds during winter.  The lake is also home to marsh crocodiles.

The northern side of the water body is a hilly area and several minor drains join it. The Maniyar river connects the Sankhya Sagar to another lake, Jadhav Sagar, which passes through the national park. A few major feeder drains from Jadhav Sagar join it on the eastern side. The lake’s western side is downstream and has a dam line — a barrier to control water levels. The water flows through the spillway towards another waterbody, the Madhav Sagar lake. Both Jadhav Sagar and Madhav Sagar are also covered in water hyacinths.

Sankhya Sagar has virtually disappeared under the water hyacinths, blocking sunlight and reducing oxygen levels in the lake. Photo: Shuchita Jha / DTE

The State Wetland Authority sent a proposal last year to the MP government for notifying both these lakes in Shivpuri under Wetland Rules 2017. After the notification, both these water bodies could apply to become Ramsar sites as well. “The fact remains that even if we spend Rs 20 lakh and clean Sankhya Sagar, water hyacinth from the connecting water bodies will pollute the lake again. All these water bodies need to be cleaned to prevent the invasive plant from spreading,” Uttam Sharma, chief conservator of forest for Madhav National Park, told media personnel.

There was a noticeable lack of migratory birds at the lake this winter, thanks to the invasive plant. “Migratory birds otherwise fly to Sakhya Sagar, were not spotted throughout winters this year,” Abhay Jain, a lawyer working on environment issues in Shivpuri, told Down To Earth.

Collector and District Magistrate for Shivpuri Akshay Kumar Singh told DTE in a telephonic conversation that he has spoken to the local municipal corporation and the CM’s office to get the invasive plant cleared from the local streams and ponds of the city.  However, Sankhya Sagar falls under the forest department and can only be cleaned with the efforts of the director of Madhav National Park.

Chattri Trust, headed by Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia, manages the Jadhav Sagar Lake. “The weather is still cold, so the labourers are unwilling to work. Once the weather gets better, we will call them to clear out the lake. The lake was last cleaned in 1998 and once earlier in 1986. It is a laborious task and will take time,” said Ashok Kumar Mohite, officer for the trust, told DTE. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/madhya-pradesh-s-newest-ramsar-wetland-covered-in-invasive-water-hyacinth-threatening-biodiversity-87293  (24 Jan. 2023)

NGT has directed the CPCB and SPCB to periodically monitor the activities of a cruise vessel polluting the Bhoj wetland in Bhopal, MP. The order was issued January 10, 2023. Applicant Subhash Pandey had approached the NGT, highlighting violations committed in permitting the cruise vessel in Bhoj wetland by the Madhya Pradesh government. The cruise began operating in 2011, as per an August 2022 report from English daily The Times of India.

The wetland is also a Ramsar site with international importance and has two lakes, Upper lake, also called Bhojtal and Lower Lake or Chhota Talaab. It provides drinking water to 1.2 million people, Pandey highlighted during the January 10 hearing. Small cruise vessels with passengers act as floating colonies that pollute water bodies with sewage, wastewater and other contaminants, the petition claimed. A mid-sized cruise vessel can consume 150 tonnes of fuel each day and dump toxic waste in water, Pandey alleged, citing a research paper. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/pollution/ngt-probe-into-cruise-operating-in-bhopal-ramsar-wetland-87254  (20 Jan. 2023)

Uttar Pradesh Dhanauri wetland: Notices to Centre, UP over Ramsar tag Following a birder approaching the Supreme Court and NGT, legal notices have been sent to MoEF and UP govt for protection of Dhanuari wetland in Greater NOIDA in UP. Anand Arya, who sent the notice on Jan 21, 2023, said in it: “It is my considered opinion that not notifying Dhanauri and other wetlands is a serious dereliction of statutory duty leading to criminal breach of trust on part of the officials concerned. They must be punished for delaying legal protection of these wetlands.”

– In an October 2017 order, the Supreme Court had directed that 201,503 wetlands (including Dhanauri) mapped by the union government should be protected under Rule 4 of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. In a March 8, 2022 office memorandum, the MoEF&CC reiterated the apex court’s order and stated that this protection is irrespective of the applicability of/notification as per the Wetland Rules, 2017.

– The union environment ministry has written to the Uttar Pradesh forest department and the Uttar Pradesh Wetland Authority several times since 2019 regarding the submission of a proposal for designating Dhanauri as a Ramsar site but the UP government has not submitted a proposal. “The proposal for designation of any wetland as Ramsar site is required to be submitted by state government concerned,” said a senior MoEFCC official.

– PK Srivastava, divisional forest officer, Gautam Budh Nagar, said the department has already submitted all documents and other details asking the UP Wetland Authority and MoEFCC to declare Dhanauri as a Ramsar site. “For the past four months, correspondence has been going on in this matter with the environment ministry. Queries are raised, and we respond to them and submit the proposal again.The process is going on,” he said.

– “Data regarding the notification of new wetlands could not be found for any state except for Goa in the Indian wetlands portal. In 2021, six lakes in Goa were notified as wetlands. This shows that even though the number of Ramsar wetlands in India has increased, efforts to notify wetlands under the rules are lacking,” lawyer Ritwick Dutta said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/dhanauri-wetland-notices-to-centre-uttar-pradesh-over-ramsar-tag-101674500937119.html   (24 Jan. 2023)

Shrinking Wetlands Keep Migratory Birds Away Shrinking wetlands have kept migratory birds away from Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh this year. According to the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2023, it recorded a decrease in species diversity from 45 to 38 compared to last year and a fall in the number of water birds from 1,521 in 2022 to 931 this year. The 38 species include 20 resident species, 18 winter migratory species and five species of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red-listed threatened birds. Some of the winter migratory water bird species recorded this year include those that migrate from central Asia like Greylag Geese, Barheaded Geese and Ruddy Shelduck among others.

Elaborating on the reason for the sharp decline, AWC state coordinator, Wetlands International, T.K. Roy said: “Unexpected rainfall in the months of October and November last year revived several dried wetlands, especially seasonal marshlands on the Ganga floodplains which attracted a good number of long-distance winter migratory birds, especially ducks, geese and waders as recorded till December 2022. “However, this year, most winged guests did not turn up as the revived wetlands largely dried up and existing bigger wetlands are fully choked by water hyacinth, leaving little space for the birds to thrive.” https://sambadenglish.com/shrinking-wetlands-keep-migratory-birds-away/  (24 Jan. 2023)

Maharashtra Renewed CRZ clearance for ‘scrapped’ golf course Fresh concerns have been sparked over the fate of key wetlands in Navi Mumbai, with the state government renewing Coastal Regulation Zone clearance (CRZ) for a controversial 34-hectare golf course project over the TS Chanakya and the NRI wetland complex in Sector 60, Nerul. The project, Hindustan Times had first reported in May last year, was reportedly scrapped by the Adani group to obtain environment clearance (EC) for the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA). The NMIA’s environment impact assessment (EIA) report, submitted to the union environment ministry in September 2021, categorically stated that the golf course is no longer being pursued.

The NMIA was then recommended for EC by MoEFCC committee in November 2021. The EIA report identifies the TS Chanakya and NRI wetlands as “large-sized roosting sites” for birds, in addition to a third roosting site at Panje in Uran. Despite this, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) on December 7 last year allowed the project — being executed by Mistry Constructions, an Adani subsidiary — a CRZ extension for seven more years after the current clearance expires this March. Minutes of the Authority’s December 7 meeting indicate that the project is very much on the anvil.

“If the golf course project has indeed been scrapped, what is the need to extend its CRZ clearance? What is being told to the MoEFCC in the EIA report for Navi Mumbai Airport, and what is being done at the state level, are two completely different things. The EIA report seems to be making a false claim to help NMIA pass an essential regulatory hurdle,” said Sunil Agarwal, who on Friday (Jan. 28) also wrote to state authorities seeking a probe. “You are requested to please verify the whole EIA report for accuracy and review the environment clearance granted to Navi Mumbai International Airport project based on such… errors & misstatements,” Agarwal wrote.

The two wetlands, which are at risk of being subsumed by the golf course, attract thousands of flamingos during winters when the birds leave their feeding grounds in Thane Creek during the high tide and come to Navi Mumbai to roost. The important ecological function of the wetlands has been pointed out by several environmentalists, the state forest department (which intends to declare the water bodies as conservation reserves) and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), which conducted the biodiversity assessment for the NMIA project at CIDCO’s behest.

The project has been at the centre of a legal battle waged by Navi Mumbai residents Sunil and Shruti Agarwal, challenging CIDCO’s October 2016 notification converting the land use of the site from ‘no development zone’ to ‘regional park zone’, thus paving way for the golf course in a protected wetland area (the land is classified as CRZ-1, per the CZMP for Thane district).

The maximum number of birds observed in a single day during the EIA monitoring period (from December 2019 to February 2020) across these six wetlands numbered 10,861. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/renewed-crz-clearance-for-scrapped-golf-course-sparks-fresh-concern-over-navi-mumbai-wetlands-101674931096899-amp.html  (29 Jan. 2023)

A controversial project by state-controlled CIDCO and private developer Mistry Constructions to build a 34-hectare golf course over the TS Chanakya and the NRI wetland complex in Navi Mumbai has been scrapped to prevent the threat of “bird hit calamities” and related accidents at the upcoming NMIA, which is being developed by the Adani Group (of which Mistry Constructions is a subsidiary). https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/proposed-golf-course-project-near-navi-mumbai-airport-scrapped-101650990598858.html  (26 April 2022)

Kerala Are houseboats to blame for the slow ruin of backwaters? Houseboat tourism is a very visible sector. It is no wonder then that these floating castles are blamed for the slow ruin of Vembanad Lake – a UNESCO Ramsar site. However, a probe by TNIE revealed another story. It is true that the lake is dying. A study conducted by the Thiruvananthapuram-based National Centre for Earth Science Studies estimates that the lake may cease to exist in another 50 years. But the reasons for this are several.

The bowl that drained the lake:- “There are multiple problems plaguing the lake. But 1888 is when it all began,” said K M Poovu, a member of the lake conservation forum. According to him, a large section of the lake was reclaimed for agriculture. Bunds were created and paddy polders were formed. “Though the King of Travancore Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma VI had ordered an investigation, the famine that plagued the land in subsequent years saw his officials turning a blind eye. Several more polders were soon created and thus came to shape what people call ‘rice bowl of Kerala’,” Poovu said. At least 24,000 acres of the lake were lost during this period (1887-1928).

However, there was an unanticipated symbiosis between the paddy polders and fish diversity. However, this changed with the introduction of pesticides in independent India. A surge in population and a looming food crisis demanded that more harvests be had in a single year. This meant more fertilisers and pesticides.

Son of a fisherman, Poovu was disheartened. He knew that all these chemicals were going to end up in the lake, affecting the sustenance of nearly 1.6 million people. Thus began his mission to save the lake. But neither he nor his cohorts could have envisioned what happened next.

The lake’s real monster:- In 1976, a sinister structure rose from the lake, cleaving it into two – a saline north and a more-or-less freshwater south. The Thanneermukom Bund. It disturbed the seamless flow of the waters and created an ecological imbalance that continues to this day. “It was the unanticipated flood of 1949 that paved way for the construction of the barrage,” said Dr S Bijoy Nandan, Dean, Faculty of Marine Sciences, CUSAT. “In the flood, several paddy polders in the reclaimed fields of Kuttanad were lost, including that of the then state agriculture minister. The barrage was his answer to prevent further calamity, but it now threatens the very existence of the lake,” said Nandan.

Tojo T D, project coordinator of ATREE Community Environment Resource Centre (ATREE-CERC) in Alappuzha, concurs. The increased closure time of the barrage as well as its unscientific management have enhanced aquatic weed growth and accumulation of silt deposits on the lake’s southern side. When the barrage was constructed, there was a slew of conditions. One of which was that it will remain open every fourth year. This has not happened yet. “The barrage is only open for a few months. There is no fixed calendar. The incursion of saltwater is essential not only to cleanse the lake system, but it is also vital for fish to breed and thrive. The irregularity of barrage operations makes this difficult,” Tojo added.

ATREE’s yearly fish count, which has become a celebrated event, recently revealed an alarming trend. The fish found in the survey were mostly freshwater species and their count had dwindled to 47 from 150 a few decades ago. Not only that, the water samples taken from 15 points in the lake tested for zero salinity. “This means that the lake is slowly turning into a freshwater system,” Tojo said. With summer rains intensifying on account of climate change, now even if the bunds are opened, it is unlikely that the brackish seawater can push back the fast-moving river waters flowing into the lake. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2023/jan/23/are-houseboats-to-blame-for-theslow-ruin-of-keralas-backwaters-2540428.html  (23 Jan. 2023)

West Bengal A portrait of artist Nobina Gupta as an EKW soldier The drastic transformation of the East Kolkata Wetlands in the past few years has prompted an artist to use her interdisciplinary art practice to spread awareness about its importance and bring city dwellers closer to the green space.

Nobina Gupta broke down the significance of the East Kolkata Wetlands into three main pointers. “The first is waste management as it handles a bulk of the city’s waste. The second is food production. Kolkata wouldn’t survive without the fresh fishes and vegetables we get here. Moreover, while there is no control over the fertilisers in the food we import from other places, wetlands are an organic treatment plant existing just beside us. They even treat the waste water organically, which goes into the Kulti river and becomes the basis for cultivating a variety of fishes. It is not just a waste management system, but a circular economy. Thirdly, this region is crucial for climate mitigation. The East Kolkata Wetlands are the second buffer zone to Kolkata after the Sunderbans and are the reason why we have remained stable in response to so many cyclones. If we don’t take care of this region, the air we breathe will drastically degrade,” she explained.

Gupta at the Wake up to the Wetlands Trail. Telegraph India

Gupta’s work in the East Kolkata Wetlands centres around its community. Terming it as a perpetual ‘work in progress’, Gupta shared that her vision is for the community to feel valued for their services and the work that they do and for society to recognise the lives they lead.  “All over the world, there are many practices which are as recent as our grandparent’s generation, but have been lost. Luckily, many such practices still exist in India, and my work in the Wetlands made me realise that every corner and village has something valuable.” The stark contrast between our lives and theirs is powerful enough to highlight the problem.

Noting the scattered nature of research work in the East Kolkata Wetlands, Gupta is also driven to organise this setup. “We are trying to create a collective that brings together researchers from different fields who can work in a simple form and their findings can easily be understood by common people. Some steps have been taken to prevent encroachment, but the effort is far from enough. Gupta urged people to amplify the movement, for a stronger penalty on encroachment and more funds for rejuvenation. “The waste water we used to generate was more organic, but we use more synthetic products now. This will come back to us with how it is affecting fish production and livelihoods in the wetlands,” she said. https://www.telegraphindia.com/my-kolkata/places/a-portrait-of-visva-bharati-passout-artist-nobina-gupta-as-an-east-kolkata-wetlands-soldier/cid/1907808  (04 Jan. 2023)

Biomethane gas plant, bio-mining work to infuse life into wetlands The Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is conducting bio-mining work of Mollar Bheri to restore the wetland area to its original condition. The civic authorities expect work to be completed fully in another five to six months as a plan is being mulled to set up a biomethane gas plant at the place which will convert waste into energy.

Mollar Bheri was the waste dumping ground for the Bidhannagar civic body for over 35 years along with NKDA and NDITA which also used to dump the waste generated in New Town and Sector V there. Over 400 tonne of waste is daily generated from BMC area. Following court orders, waste dumping in Mollar Bheri was prohibited as BMC started bio-mining work from 2020 to restore the area to its original condition. WBPCB chairman Kalyan Rudra said there are 123 legacy dump sites across the state. “Following court orders, bio- mining has started in 108 dump sites to disintegrate the waste,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/mission-mollar-bheri-biomethane-gas-plant-bio-mining-work-to-infuse-life-into-wetlands/articleshow/97410036.cms  (29 Jan. 2023)

The East Kolkata Wetlands, which was listed as a Ramsar site exactly 20 years ago, is witnessing a steady inroad of outsiders who have interest only in the commercial value of the land and not sewage-based livelihood. While there is constant pressure on the native population to quit farming and give up the bheris, those that are still sticking around with traditional means of livelihood are completely dependent on sewage. What is also adding to the pressure is the lack of basic civic amenities. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/livelihood-of-east-kolkata-wetlands-natives-under-threat-as-outsiders-make-steady-inroads-over-20-years/articleshow/93669290.cms  (20 Aug. 2022)  

Jammu & Kashmir Evicted encroachment in form of trees over 700-800 kanals of land in Hokersar: Warden. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/videos/video-evicted-encroachment-in-form-of-trees-over-700-800-kanals-of-land-in-hokersar-warden  (24 Jan. 2023)


Commentary Decentralised waste water treatment systems to improve water security  The decentralised wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS) approach is considered a cost-effective method of wastewater treatment in rural and semi-urban India. DEWATS in India face challenges over a time, as they are unable to meet the effluent standards. The lack of community participation and the delay in adoption of technology-specific regulations for maintenance are some of the challenges. The decentralised wastewater treatment and reuse system may gain traction with the proper combination of higher water tariffs, stronger enforcement and rewards for early adopters, write the authors of this commentary. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/commentary-decentralised-waste-water-treatment-systems-to-improve-water-security/  (23 Jan. 2023)

IWA Water expert advocates new calculus of resource mapping According to Tom Mollenkopf, President of the International Water Association (IWA), a global collective of water professionals, intelligent water reuse offered the best means to harvest embedded energy of waste water. He also called for tapping into alternatives to groundwater/freshwater resources through rainwater harvesting and exploring the concept of ‘sponge cities’ that check the flow of storm water run-off as a means of resource retention and aquifer recharge. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/water-expert-advocates-new-calculus-of-resource-mapping/article66424201.ece  (23 Jan. 2023)


Punjab Farmers sticks to paddy amid depleting groundwater Stable economic returns, free power for irrigation and procurement by the central government at minimum support price are some of the reasons why Punjab’s farmers are continuing to cultivate paddy, despite its impact on the groundwater levels in the state. There have been several government and other reports, over decades, on the need to diversify crops in Punjab which currently heavily depends on paddy and wheat cultivation.

Despite years of discussions to phase out paddy in Punjab, owing to its impact on groundwater, latest data shows that the paddy crop area still dominates agriculture in the state. Paddy is currently grown over 87% of the total area under kharif crops (June-October) in Punjab, according to data shared by the Punjab Agriculture department which notes that in the current 2022-23 kharif season, the area under paddy, was 3.13 million hectares out of 3.59 million hectares under kharif crops. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/punjabs-paddy-dilemma-amid-depleting-groundwater/  (24 Jan. 2023)

Groundwater charges set to be levied on non-exempted users Charges for extracting ground water jab will be levied on all non-exempted users, including the industry, starting next month, with the state water regulation and development authority notifying directions in this regard. The new directions, however, do not cover groundwater use for agriculture, drinking and domestic purposes, said an official statement here, adding that the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA) has notified Punjab Groundwater Extraction and Conservation Directions, 2023.

The directions also exempt government water supply schemes, military and central paramilitary establishments, urban local bodies, panchayati raj institutions, cantonment boards, improvement trusts, area development authorities and places of worship, it further said. The exemption has also been provided to all users who extract groundwater less than 300 cubic metres per month, it added. All non-exempted users shall have to submit an application to the authority for seeking permission to extract groundwater and the groundwater charges will start from February 1, said the statement.

The groundwater charges have been fixed to reflect the extent of groundwater stress in each block of Punjab. The blocks of Punjab have been categorised in three zones (green, yellow and orange) based on the extent of annual groundwater extraction in comparison to annual groundwater recharge for fixing the groundwater charges, it said.

According to the notification, in the green zone, the charges will vary between Rs 4 to Rs 14 per cubic metre depending upon the volume of extraction of groundwater. In case of yellow zone, the charges will vary between Rs 6 to Rs 18 per cubic metre, and in case of orange zone, the charges will start from Rs 8 till Rs 22 per cubic metre. The charges are meant for different categories of volume of underground water extraction which include more than Rs 300 till 1,500 cubic metres per month, over Rs 1,500 till 15,000 cubic metres, more than Rs 15,000 up to 75,000 cubic metres and more than 75,000 cubic metres per month. Besides, a non-refundable application fee for permission to extract water will also be charged, the notification said. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/groundwater-charges-set-to-be-levied-on-non-exempted-users-in-punjab-123012900017_1.html  (29 Jan. 2023)

CGWB had given Punjab a Rs 6,773 crore plan for constructing at least 11 lakh structures for recharging the fast-depleting underground water in rural as well as urban areas all over the state. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/monsoon-session-6-773-crore-plan-to-recharge-depleting-underground-water-in-punjab-418889  (05 Aug. 2022)


Bengaluru Numbers of polluted lake rising The number of severely polluted lakes in the city have been on the rise over the past few months. According to the latest water quality report of 106 lakes in Bengaluru by the SPCB, the total number of lakes under Class E has reached 37 as of November 2022. While 22 lakes were under Class E in October 2022, only 15 were under this category in September. Moreover, all the 106 lakes studied by the board have unsatisfactory water quality. While 37 lakes have been put under Class E with water quality not even suitable for fisheries, the rest of the water bodies have been classified as Class D, making them unfit for drinking and bathing, even after treatment.

Raghavendra B Pachhapur, a lake activist and program manager of ActionAid Association, said, “Our analysis of KSPCB old reports shows that between April and November 2022, the water quality in 75 per cent (78 out of 106) city lakes have been classified under class E. The BBMP should immediately take note of this report and arrest pollutant entry.”

Activists say that the urban watershed management is not well planned and there is a lot of disconnect in the work done by various departments. Out of many possible reasons behind the poor state of lakes in the city, they point to improper design, poor maintenance, and lack of technical manpower when it comes to conventional STPs installed to treat sewage water before it enters lakes. “The city generates 1400 MLD waste water, as per BWSSB’s conservative estimates. While the total treatment capacity of Bengaluru is 721 MLD, only 520 MLD gets treated on average. Both BWSSB & BBMP lake departments need to work together,” said Vinod Jacob, Namma Bengaluru Foundation.  https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/bengaluru-we-have-a-problem-its-our-lakes/articleshow/97289067.cms  (25 Jan. 2023)

Shimla Tourism industry against water tariff hike A tourism industry association on Saturday (Jan. 28) criticised the Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam (SJPN) for hiking the water tariff for the hotel industry in the city, describing the move as the last nail in the coffin of the crisis-ridden sector. The SJPNL on Friday (Jan. 27) increased water charges for commercial establishments including hotels and restaurants from Rs 87.85 per kilolitre to Rs 96.64 per kilolitre for consumption up to 30 kilolitres and from Rs 126.50 per kilolitre to Rs 177.14 per kilolitre for consumption above 75 kilolitres.

The SJPN has again hiked the tariff for commercial institutions and hotels by ten per cent and it seems to be bent upon ruining the industry in Shimla as about 300 hotels would be affected by the hike, Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association president M K Seth said. Accusing the SJPN of being harsh towards the hotel industry, Seth said the Nigam may have maintained that the hike was as per orders of the high court but the court nowhere said that a separate category of water tariff be created for hotels and the highest tariff charged from them. “The court has neither allowed the SJPN to charge the highest rates from hotels, which is 67.5 per cent higher than the commercial tariff, nor create a special category for hotels,” he said. https://theprint.in/india/tourism-industry-association-up-in-arms-against-shimla-body-over-water-tariff-hike/1340335/  (28 Jan. 2023)

Gurugram GMDA to overhaul sewage network for ₹15.50 cr The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) plans to strengthen the master sewer network in sectors 21, 22 and 23 with cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) technology at a cost of ₹15.50 crore, officials said. The authority officials said that there is heavy pressure of traffic on roads along these sewage pipelines and it is not feasible to replace them and they will use CIPP technology to strengthen the entire network. The GMDA has also put a proposal to repair all damaged points in the entire sewage network of the city, starting from sector 1 to 57. As per a proposal prepared by GMDA’s infrastructure division-II, the present master sewer lines in the city were laid more than 20 years ago and they have been damaged at various points, resulting in overflowing sewage lines and blockages. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/gurugram-news/gmda-to-overhaul-sewage-network-for-15-50-crore-101674757808834.html  (27 Jan. 2023)

Delhi CM urges Centre to provide 1,300 MGD of water Arvind Kejriwal said it will ensure 24/7 water access for residents. The cm was speaking at the launch of 11 million liters underground water reservoir constructed at Rs 32 crore in Patparganj village. The Patparganj village underground water reservoir will be supplied water from Sonia Vihar through a 4 Km long pipeline. Water from the reservoir to different localities will be supplied by a network of 12.90-km pipelines and six pumps, officials said.

Delhi can be provided water from the neighbouring UP and Haryana, Kejriwal said, adding that his government would work for this. Besides water from the Yamuna, Ganga and the neighbouring states, Delhi is also working to boost availability through local sources, he added. In the last seven years, the availability of water in Delhi has increased from 861 MGD to 990 MGD the CM said. Since 2015 when AAP came to power in Delhi, 12 underground water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, one water recycling plant, 500 tubewells and a 2,250 km long water pipeline network that have benefitted 30 lakh people have come up, he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/arvind-kejriwal-urges-centre-to-provide-1300-mgd-of-water-to-delhi/articleshow/97418723.cms  (29 Jan. 2023)


Himachal Pradesh About 150 people fall ill after consuming contaminated water As many as 150 people in the Nadaun sub-division of Hamirpur district, specifically in the Rangas, Kandrola, and Jol-Sappad panchayats, have reportedly become ill due to consumption of contaminated water. The people affected by the contaminated water had been consuming water from a drinking water scheme sourced from nearby khads. Patients from these villages were complaining of vomiting and diarrhoea for the last three days, alleging that consuming contaminated water led to the problem. Ilam Din, a member of Rangas Panchayat, said that he started getting calls from villagers on Saturday morning and it seems that more than 150 people are suffering from stomach-related diseases. Similar complaints are also being reported from the adjoining Kandrola panchayat. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/himachal-pradesh-about-150-people-fall-ill-after-consuming-contaminated-water/articleshow/97403424.cms  (28 Jan. 2023)

The number of people reporting sick after allegedly consuming contaminated water in a dozen villages of Nadaun subdivision in Hamirpur district rose to 535 on Sunday (Jan. 29). Two to three people in every household have taken ill after consuming contaminated water provided by the Jal Shakti department, Rajeev Kumar, the head of Rangas panchayat, said. It is believed that the high amount of bacteria in the water is causing the illness, Kumar said. He attributed it to contamination of the pit from which the water is supplied. Villagers said the water was supplied without being filtered from an under-construction tank, causing the outbreak. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/535-people-affected-by-water-contamination-in-hamirpur-villages-himachal-cm-seeks-report-101675032393795.html  (30 Jan. 2023)


Supreme Court Stays on HC’s order directing tax payment on manufacture of water borehole drilling rigs The Supreme Court has stayed the order passed by the Madras High Court directing the payment of a minimum 4% tax on the manufacturing of the water borehole drilling rigs. The division bench of Justice Krishna Murari and Justice C.T. Ravi Kumar has observed that tax at the rate of 4% has already been deposited by the petitioner. The direction in the order to pay another 4% shall remain in abeyance until the next date of listing.

The petitioner challenged the order passed by the respondent, which rejected the request of the appellants/writ petitioners for a waiver of tax arrears and penalties. The appellants/writ petitioners had earlier sought a direction from the Assessing Authority to redo the assessments based upon a circular issued by the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes.

Though the writ petitions were dismissed on October 15, 2015, the petitioners were permitted to seek a waiver of the disputed amounts raised in the assessments, and the Committee for Waiver was to consider the request and grant it. A Division Bench of the Madras High Court granted the status quo about the recovery of the tax imposed by the assessing authority on the appellants/writ petitioners. The court remitted the matter back to the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes for deciding the issue involved under Section 48A of the Tamil Nadu Value Added Tax Act, 2006, after hearing both parties. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/supreme-court-stays-madras-high-court-order-directing-payment-tax-manufacture-water-borehole-drilling-rigs-220154  (29 Jan. 2023)


Interview Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Director General of Meteorology, Indian Meterological Department (IMD), on extreme weather conditions, rising temperatures and climate change. https://indianexpress.com/article/idea-exchange/director-general-of-meteorology-indian-meterological-department-mrutyunjay-mohapatra-at-idea-exchange-8411675/   (30 Jan. 2023)


Assam Mising community is coping with floods through architectural design To adapt and reduce disaster risk, the indigenous Mising community in Assam constructs and lives in traditional flood-resilient houses called chang ghors that are perched above the ground on bamboo stilts. Assam’s Dhemaji district which borders Arunachal Pradesh is one of India’s most flood-prone areas. Villages along the banks of the river Brahmaputra are inhabited mostly by the indigenous Mising community who live with the fear of losing their property and livestock every year. Besides, they also have to deal with health, water and sanitation issues. The chang ghor design is a component under India’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme, an initiative of the central government which aims at providing affordable housing to the economically vulnerable. Experts stress on the need for long-term partnership between the government, local agencies and other humanitarian players to make chang ghors sustainable. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/how-assams-mising-community-is-coping-with-floods-through-architectural-design/  (23 Jan. 2023)

Study Conserving grasslands to prevent floods in mountain landscapes This study found that replacing natural grasslands and forests by exotic species increased the likelihood of flooding during extreme rainfall events in the Nilgiris.

Understanding the relationship between rainfall and discharge patterns of basins can greatly help in designing mitigation strategies to prevent floods, argues this paper titled ‘Invasion of natural grasslands by exotic trees increases flood risks in mountainous landscapes in South India’ in the Journal of Hydrology.

The paper argues that future flood early warning systems and risk management strategies should take into consideration the differential effects of land-cover such as densities of woody vegetation and catchment properties along with moisture conditions to improve flood forecasting at different rainfall intensities in the region. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/conserving-grasslands-prevent-floods-mountain-landscapes  (21 Jan. 2023)

Local recycling of moisture via wetlands and forests high in North-East The study has brought to light the vital role of locally recycled moisture to precipitation throughout the year (~ 45%), at least to the north of the Shillong Plateau. During the pre-monsoon season, we highlight the increased role of transpired moisture to precipitation, hence, signifying the importance of vegetation and forest cover. During the Indian Summer Monsoon season, influx of oceanic moisture and floods in Brahmaputra greatly increases the surficial water availability in low lying floodplains and wetlands, promoting enhanced recycling via evaporation.

On top of this, the study highlights the vital role of forest cover and wetlands in the regional hydrology and precipitation patterns. Further anthropogenic activities such as rapid urbanization, building of dams or barrages could greatly endanger the regional hydrology and water availability. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/local-recycling-moisture-wetlands-and-forests-high-north-east-india  (21 Jan. 2023)


Himachal Pradesh Snow cover shrinks by 18.5% A decrease of 18.5 per cent has been observed in the total area under snow in Himachal Pradesh in 2020-21 winters vis-a-vis 2019-20. The mapping of seasonal snow undertaken by the Department of Environmental Science and Technology (DEST) through satellite images has led to this startling observation. The data shows that the area under snow of all the four major river basins in Himachal Pradesh — Ravi, Sutlej, Chenab and Beas — shrunk. Lalit Jain, Director, DEST, informed that Sutlej and Ravi basins showed the most drastic reduction of 23 per cent. This was followed by 19 per cent reduction in the snow cover of the Beas basin and 9 per cent in Chenab basin.

– The glaciers in Chenab basin exhibited a reduction in their area by 3.51 per cent during 2001-18 in terms of clean glaciers and 1.17 per cent in terms of glaciers covered with debris cover. In the Beas basin, the reduction is of the order of 5.15 per cent in terms of clean glaciers and 1.88 per cent in terms of debris-covered glaciers during the 17-year period (2001-18). In the Ravi basin, de-glaciation is of the order of 3.21 per cent in terms of clean glacier and 1.46 per cent in terms of debris-covered glaciers during the same period. In Baspa basin, 4.18 per cent de-glaciation was observed with respect to clean glaciers and 2.34 per cent in terms of debris-covered glaciers. In Spiti basin, it was 2.74 per cent and 1.88 per cent in terms of clean and debris-covered glaciers respectively. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/snow-cover-in-himachal-pradesh-shrinks-by-18-5-472584   (22 Jan. 2023)

Jammu & Kashmir Warmer winters leading to early flowering of the gul toor The Kashmir Valley is experiencing warmer winters and as a result the flowering period for the Sternbergia vernalis flower has shifted from mid-March to mid-February. Changing climatic conditions have the potential to disrupt the plant-pollinator interaction, leading to potential mismatches, hence putting plant and pollinator species at a risk of extinction. The irregular weather pattern has also delayed the flowering of saffron to November, when the sunshine is not adequate. About 30 percent of the flowers get aborted within the sprout because temperature conditions are not optimum. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/01/warmer-winters-in-the-kashmir-valley-are-leading-to-early-flowering-of-the-gul-toor/  (25 Jan. 2023)


Telangana Largest floating solar plant installed Hyderabad-based Novus Green Energy Systems Ltd on Saturday (Jan. 28) announced that it has successfully installed and completed synchronization of a floating solar plant with transparent glass-to-glass modules at Singareni Thermal Power Plant, Jaipur, Mancherial district. Novus Green Energy Systems, in a press release said that the initiative was country’s largest floating solar plant with a total capacity of 15 MW (AC) / 19.5 MW (DC) and the phase I, which has been commissioned, has a capacity of 5 MW(AC)/6.5MW(DC). The plant uses transparent glass-to-glass solar modules, which are more efficient than traditional solar modules, and is the first of its kind to be manufactured and used at this scale in India, the company said. https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabad-based-company-builds-countrys-largest-floating-solar-plant  (28 Jan. 2023)


Review Laws & the green movements Excellent review of the book by Mahesh Rangrajan. https://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/laws-and-the-green-movement-123012301332_1.html  (23 Jan. 2023)

Centre Ministerial group proposes quicker ECs for Gati Shakti projects The move has prompted experts to caution that fast-tracking approvals could compromise the quality of appraisals and assessments in ecologically vulnerable regions. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ministerial-group-proposes-quicker-green-nods-for-pm-gati-shakti-projects-101674969593758-amp.html  (29 Jan. 2023)

Ladakh PM urged to save UT from ‘Industrial Exploitation’ Sonam Wangchuk has appealed to PM Narendra Modi, to ensure safety and protection of the region citing studies that suggested the extinction of nearly two-third of the glaciers in the Union Territory. Wangchuk has also announced a five-day long fast from January 26 to get attention towards Ladakh’s “fragile” environment and melting glaciers. The innovator has sought the PM’s intervention to safeguard this “fragile” ecosystem under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution, saying if the carelessness continued and Ladakh did not get protection from the industries, the glaciers will become extinct, creating enormous problems due to water scarcity.

“If measures are not taken, industries, tourism, and commerce will continue to flourish in Ladakh and will eventually finish. Recent studies from Kashmir University and other research organizations have concluded that glaciers in Leh-Ladakh will finish nearly to its 2/3rd if they are not properly taken care of. A study by Kashmir University has found that the glaciers surrounded by highways and human activities are melting at a comparatively faster rate,” Wangchuk told news agency ANI. “In areas like Ladakh, there should be minimal human activities so that the glaciers can remain intact for the locals here,” he continued. Stressing the need for the adoption of sustainable development, Wangchuk has sought protection of Ladakh and other Himalayan regions from “industrial exploitation”. https://www.news18.com/news/india/all-is-not-well-in-ladakh-innovator-sonam-wangchuk-urges-pm-modi-to-save-ut-from-industrial-exploitation-6897853.html  (23 Jan. 2023)

Uttarakhand Illegal Corbett tree felling: SC panel seeks action against ex-minister The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has recommended “appropriate action” against former forest minister Harak Singh Rawat after issuing a notice to him in connection with illegal constructions and felling of trees in the Corbett Tiger Reserve. In a 106-page report submitted to the court on Tuesday (Jan. 24), the CEC said Rawat was largely responsible for “the mess” arrested Indian Forest Service Officer (IFS) Kishan Chand created in the reserve. Chand, who retired last year in July, was arrested in December from Uttar Pradesh after being on the run. In April 2022, the state government suspended him in connection with the case. “The Supreme Court will hear the matter on February 8.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/dehradun-news/illegal-corbett-tree-felling-sc-appointed-panel-seeks-action-against-exminister-101674711401029.html  (26 Jan. 2023)

Supreme Court on Friday (Jan 27) deliberated upon the interpretation of Section 16 of the NGT Act insofar as the period of limitation in filing an appeal was concerned. The question that arose before the bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Dipankar Datta was that if the last date of limitation for filing an appeal in NGT was a public holiday, what would happen. The question came up in a matter concerning orders of the NGT. The matter will now be heard on 1st February 2023. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/if-last-day-of-limitation-for-appeal-to-ngt-falls-on-a-holiday-can-appeal-be-filed-on-next-working-day-supreme-court-to-consider-220142  (29 Jan. 2023)


IWT India wants to modify the treaty Speaking to The Print, environmental activist and water expert Himanshu Thakkar said, “If I had to guess, India is probably seeking to modify Article IX, Annexure F or G which all have to do with the process of dispute resolution. Perhaps they want to include a clause to ensure a graded response in which for every difference/dispute first a neutral expert and then only the court of arbitration is resorted to.”

He, however, added that this might be easier said than done since any modification would require Pakistan’s assent and Islamabad is unlikely to agree to any modifications.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they are also seeking to clarify the role of the World Bank in dispute resolution. As it is, there was inaction from the World Bank from 2017-2022 on how to resolve the Kishanganga and Ratle project disputes,” said Thakkar. https://theprint.in/diplomacy/why-india-wants-to-modify-indus-waters-treaty-with-pakistan/1338494/  (27 Jan. 2023)

This only says India is seeking to modify the IWT, but not clear what modifications India wants. In any case, if Pakistan does not agree, no modifications are possible. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/india-issues-notice-to-pakistan-seeking-modification-of-indus-water-treaty-cites-its-intransigence-sources-3728063  (27 Jan. 2023)

Asked what modification New Delhi wanted in Indus Treaty with Pakistan, a source said: “Whatever small differences that may come up, how they can be resolved without the involvement of any third party, since it is a bilateral treaty. A third party should not be required.” https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/india-wants-keep-third-parties-out-water-treaty-with-pakistan-sources-2023-01-27/ (27 Jan. 2023)

The legal battle between Pakistan and India begins on Jan 27, 2023 at the Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the designs of the 330 MW Kishenganga and 850 MW Ratle Hydropower projects. These projects are being constructed on Jhelum and Chenab rivers respectively. The first hearing by the Court of Arbitration would last for two days (January 27-28), a senior official of the Law Division told The News. “The Court of Arbitration will start preliminary proceedings with restrictions on India, and Pakistan that nothing will be shared with the media till the final verdict. In the first two days, Pakistan will pitch its case. And many more hearings will be heard to satisfy both sides.”

– The World Bank had earlier constituted the Court of Arbitration on the demand of Pakistan. Likewise, it also formed a one-man neutral expert as was demanded by India. The World Bank on October 17 appointed Sean Murphy as chairman of the Court of Arbitration (CoA) and Michel Lino as the neutral expert.

– Pakistan has raised three objections to the Kishanganga project’s design saying that the pondage of the project is 7.5 million cubic meters, which is excessive and it should be one million cubic meters. Pakistan also wants India to raise intake by up to 1-4 meters and also raise the spillways up to nine meters high.

– On the issue of the Ratle Hydropower plant, Islamabad raised four objections. Pakistan wants India to maintain the freeboard at one meter whereas India wants to keep it at two meters. In addition, India wants to keep the pondage of 24 million cubic meters but Pakistan wants it to be restricted to eight million cubic meters. Pakistan also wants the intake of the project should be raised by up to 8.8 meters and its spillways should be raised by up to 20 meters. The 850MW Ratle Hydropower project, if constructed under its existing design, will reduce the water flow of Chenab River at Head Marala by 40 percent, which will be detrimental to the irrigation in central Punjab of Pakistan, Pakistan claims. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1034702-disputed-kishenganga-ratle-hydropower-projects-pak-india-legal-battle-begins-today  (27 Jan. 2023)

Nepal A 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit western Nepal at 2.43 pm local time on Jan 24, 2023 and was felt across Uttarakhand and even in Delhi. A building fell in UP trapping several people. Epicentre was in Mela area of Bajura dist in Nepal. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/earthquake-jolts-western-nepal-1-dead-473564  (25 Jan. 2023)


Overflow at dam sweeps away people; 2 dead, 7 missing Torrents of water spilling over a river dam in central China swept away several people at the start of the Lunar New Year holiday, and authorities said seven were still missing on Monday, Jan 23, 2023. Two people died and 10 were rescued, including two who remain in the hospital. The water rose rapidly before it overtopped the Sanmenxia dam in Henan province, sweeping away people who had gathered below for photographs, the Sanmenxia Municipal Emergency Response Bureau said. The bureau said the incident was under investigation. Water behind the dam was estimated to have risen by almost 2 meters within 10 minutes before it began spilling over the top. The dam on China’s mighty Yellow River was completed in 1960 and has been troubled by sediment buildup. That has caused flooding upstream, leading to complaints about the dam’s design and management. https://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Overflow-at-China-dam-sweeps-away-people-2-dead-17735138.php  (23 Jan. 2023)


Interview ‘Climate change can triple flood damage by atmospheric rivers’ Down To Earth spoke to Tom Corringham, climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, to understand the interrelations between bomb cyclone and atmospheric river phenomena and the current and future impact of global warming, especially in the Arctic region, on their frequency and intensity.

The evidence indicates atmospheric rivers are becoming longer, wider and wetter with global warming. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, reducing the temperature gradient between the equator and the poles. Understanding the effects of these changes is an active area of research. The global atmosphere is a massive dynamical system. Because of industrial greenhouse gas emissions, we are altering some of the fundamental parameters of the system without understanding the potential impacts.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/interviews/climate-change/-climate-change-can-triple-flood-damage-by-atmospheric-rivers–87270  (23 Jan. 2023)

GRED Seismic waves affecting the Renaissance Dam The Great Renaissance Dam of Ethiopia: Dr. Abbas Sharaki, a water and geology expert at Cairo University concluded: “The greatest danger from the Renaissance Dam is not in the multiple storages, as much as the danger of its huge storage capacity of about 74 billion m3 in a geologically and climatically unstable environment. The impact is devastating on Sudan and perhaps Egypt in case of collapse.” https://www.pakistanchristian.tv/the-greatest-danger-water-expert-seismic-waves-affecting-the-renaissance-dam-b/  (27 Jan. 2023)

New Zealand Auckland flooded on Jan 27, 2023 due to sudden torrential rain per this BBC News Report. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1A0VHafBfg

Report Beavers and oysters are helping restore lost ecosystems In this episode of “The Conversation Weekly,” we talk to three experts about how ecosystem engineers can play a key role in restoring natural places and why the human and social sides of restoration are just as important as the science.

Ecosystem engineers are plants or animals that create, modify or maintain habitats. As Joshua Larsen, an associate professor at the University of Birmingham, explains, beavers are a perfect example of an ecosystem engineer because of the dams and ponds they build.

This idea of using ecosystem engineers to do the labor-intensive work of restoration for free is not limited to beavers. Dominic McAfee is a researcher at the University of Adelaide in Australia. He studies oysters and is leading a project to restore oyster reefs on the eastern and southern coasts of Australia. https://theconversation.com/beavers-and-oysters-are-helping-restore-lost-ecosystems-with-their-engineering-skills-podcast-198573  (26 Jan. 2023)

Nature Portfolio of journals launched On 19 January 2023, the Nature Portfolio of journals launched Nature Water. This journal will provide a space for researchers — including those in natural and social sciences, and in engineering — to collectively contribute their knowledge, insights and the results of their learning. The launch issue includes research in fundamental, applied and social science, as well as opinion and analysis.

– A project called the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, co-chaired by economist Mariana Mazzucato and climate scientist Johan Rockström (among others), is promising “new thinking on economics and governance” in time for the UN Water conference in March 2023 in New York City. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00182-2  (24 Jan. 2023) Contents of fist issue: https://www.nature.com/natwater/

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 23 Jan 2023 & DRP News Bulletin 16 Jan 2023  

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

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