After four years (SW Monsoons of 2019 [110.4%], 2020 [108.74% compared to normal rainfall], 2021 [99.3% or almost normal rainfall], 2022 [106.5%]) of normal or surplus monsoon rainfall, SW Monsoon 2023 could face rainfall deficit and uncertainties as per US Govt weather agency NOAA and also India’s IMD. El Nino conditions are many times associated with poor monsoon rainfall in India. Since SW Monsoon provides more than 75% of total annual rainfall of India, this can be critical for India. The shift from particularly prolonged La Nina conditions to El Nino conditions should be a warning sign for India. IMD DG has said that the department will come out with an update on Feb 28, which should be sufficient advance notice to take necessary steps to tackle its possible impacts on upcoming Summer and SW Monsoon. We hope the government is ready to take the necessary steps to tackle any eventuality.
El Nino set to return, monsoon at risk US government weather agency NOAA has for the second month in a row indicated the possibility of El Nino conditions developing in late summer this year. Latest forecast points to a higher probability of its occurrence than was suggested in the January update. The latest release also indicates that El Nino conditions often associated with a poor monsoon in India may set in around July, earlier than what the previous month’s forecast suggested. There’s an inverse relationship between El Nino and the Indian summer monsoon which means rainfall is usually subdued during an El Nino year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/toi-original/warning-of-unprecedented-heatwaves-as-el-nino-set-to-return-monsoon-at-risk/videoshow/97822283.cms (11 Feb. 2023)
IMD also has an outlook similar to NOAA’s. “La Nina conditions are weakening. There is a high chance of neutral ENSO conditions during the pre-monsoon season. Thereafter there is a 50% probability of El Nino conditions emerging during monsoon. It’s difficult to comment on its impact immediately. The forecast is not accurate when there is still three-four months for the El Nino season to begin. We will issue our latest ENSO forecast on February 28,” said M Mohapatra, director general, IMD.
The move from La Nina to El Nino, a given in light of the data, is itself worrying, said an expert. Despite La Nina conditions so far we have seen above normal temperatures and even a severe heat spell last spring. This spring may not be as bad but temperatures are expected to be above normal in February and March is expected to be warm. Summer temperatures may be very high,” said Mahesh Palawat, Vice President, Climate and Meteorology, Skymet Weather, a private forecaster.
The current La Niña has been relatively weak but unusually prolonged. It began in 2020 and returned for its third consecutive northern hemisphere winter making it a rare “triple-dip” event. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/get-ready-for-a-warmer-summer-scientists-say-there-s-a-high-probability-of-el-nino-onset-this-year-101676052235769.html (11 Feb. 2023)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
SANDRP Blog Systemic failures at the root of Joshimath disaster The 520 MW Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower project of NTPC has remained controversial at least since 2009 as it is again now in January 2023. This time it is in the dock over the sinking of Joshimath town in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. https://sandrp.in/2023/02/11/systemic-failures-at-the-root-of-joshimath-disaster/ (11 Feb. 2023)
Uttarakhand Two years after Chamoli Disaster https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOzB-0LIf44&t=6s (07 Feb. 2023)
Anjal Prakash: Micro hydro systems can be tailored to minimise the ecosystem’s negative impact and provide sustainable energy solutions. However, it’s important to note that even micro-hydropower projects can have some impact on the environment and local communities. A detailed assessment should be carried out to evaluate the potential impact before proceeding with the project. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/on-joshimath-hydropower-projects-in-the-himalaya-should-be-reconsidered-given-recent-crisis-8425936/ (06 Feb. 2023)
The government has told Parliament that many parts of the Himalayas have “unstable and dynamic geology, which may lead to land subsidence and landslides”. It also said that the region has been witnessing “gradual subsidence”. This was in response to questions in Rajya Sabha. Though the ministry of earth sciences (MoES), in its written reply, remained silent on the details of heavy construction works carried out in the region and violations, if any, of the extant parameters, it said “geology of many locations in Himalayan region is unstable and dynamic”. The minister, however, remained silent on specific questions asked by AAP member Sanjay Singh on the steps taken by the government to implement the recommendations of the Mishra committee and year-wise details on it. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/silent-on-construction-details-government-says-himalayas-unstable/articleshow/97628190.cms (06 Feb. 2023)
Materials for building construction in the sensitive Indian Himalayas have seen a transition from traditionally used wood, rock and other local materials to bricks and concrete. Experts claim that there is no plan guiding the constructions in hill stations in the region and several of these buildings are built in contravention to building codes, on unstable slopes and are prone to natural disasters. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/02/unplanned-faulty-buildings-tremble-under-weather-events-in-the-fragile-himalayan-regions/ (07 Feb. 2023)
Arunachal Pradesh FAC sends reminder letter on Dibang HEP land diversion The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the environment, forest & climate change ministry has reminded the government of Arunachal Pradesh to submit a report regarding establishment of a community reserve or conservation reserve near the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation’s (NHPC) 3,000 mw Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP). The letter was sent on 2 January.
– The FAC had earlier suggested establishing a national park near the NHPC’s 3,000 mw Dibang Multipurpose Project, but later suggested establishing a community reserve or conservation reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in consultation with the local people, to safeguard the rights of the indigenous community, on 17 October last year. On 10 November last year, the FAC directed the state government to submit its report within three weeks to the ministry regarding the community reserve.
– As of 24 January, the forest & environment department was yet to respond to the reminder letter, though more than three weeks have passed. There is a proposal for diversion of 4,577.84 ha (originally proposed 5,056.5 ha) of forest land for the Dibang project. “If Arunachal Pradesh is serious about hydropower expansion, the least it will need to do is comply with the law. But it seems it has been brazen about compliance,” said an activist. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/01/25/fac-sends-reminder-letter-to-arunachal-on-dibang-hep-land-diversion/ (25 Jan. 2023)
DMAP alleges corruption in Hydropower projects Alleging large scale corruption in hydropower projects, the group says: “Therefore, the public should raise their voices against the present state movement for misusing the rivers and forests for personal gains… Therefore, I appeal to the public to stop any ongoing hydropower work in their areas. Such illegal logging activities are carried out outside the notified submergence area of the project, thereby causing random loss of flora and fauna.” https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/arunachal-news/dmap-alleges-corruption-in-hydropower-projects-in-arunachal-636797 (09 Feb. 2023)
The Pro-Dam Movement of Arunachal Pradesh (PDMAP) President Taw Paul has alleged that Chief Minister Pema Khandu-led state government is involved in huge corruption practices in the Hydro-Power projects in the state.
Speaking to the reporters at the press club, Paul claimed that huge liabilities of about Rs. 1000 crore has been shouldered upon the state government due to the loan amounting to Rs. 225 Crore taken from the National Hydropower Corporation (NHPC) at an interest of 9% per annum, which in years to come will have a worse impact on the state and its people. Therefore, the public should raise their voice against the present state government for misusing the rivers and forests for personal gains, he said. http://www.easternsentinel.in/news/state/pro-dam-body-blames-state-govt-of-high-corruption-in-hydropower-projects.html (08 Feb. 2023)
Himachal Pradesh चंबा स्थित खडामुख-होली मार्ग पर गिरा चोली पुल के लिए लोक निर्माण मंडल भरमौर ने JSW व उसकी सब कॉन्ट्रेक्टर कंपनी भूमि को दोषी पाते हुए FIR दर्ज करवाई है। यही नहीं PWD ने इस पुल को गिराने की एवज में कंपनी को 2 करोड़ की भरपाई करने के लिए पत्र भी जारी कर दिया है। PWD भरमौर के अधिशासी अभियंता संजीव महाजन ने कहा कि चोली पुल की 20 टन तक भार सहने की क्षमता थी, जिससे कंपनी ने 70 टन भार को गुजारा। उन्होंने कहा कि जिस समय वह पुल टूटकर गिरा। उस समय कंपनी के 2 टिप्पर जो मलबे से भरे हुए थे, उन्हें एक साथ गुजारा जा रहा था। जिस वजह से यह पुल टूट गया। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/himachal/chamba/news/chamba-bharmour-news-fir-on-jsw-and-bhoomi-company-pwd-choli-bridge-sanjeev-mahajan-130890650.html (06 Feb. 2023)
Jammu & Kashmir Risk assessment to minimise damage needed “The settlements located over or near the palaeo-landslides, along steep slopes and near watercourses are vulnerable to landslides and subsidence. Thus, it is important to carry out disaster vulnerability and risk assessment of such settlements, villages, towns particularly in the Chenab Valley.” Chenab Valley housing huge dams on Chenab including Dul Hasti in Kishtwar, Baglihar in Ramban, is prone to natural disasters.
“There are several hydropower projects in the Chenab region. It is therefore important that stringent policy guidelines are formulated and implemented in letter and spirit by the government to minimise damage to the fragile environment. In the country, there are a number of institutions and individuals who have expertise to handle such matters and the J&K government should develop research and development programmes in consultation with the specialised institutions and experts to provide proper technical guidance to handle such disasters,” Romshoo said. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/lessons-from-turkey-syria-quake-earthquake-landslide-flood-prone-areas-in-jk-need-risk-assessment-to-minimise-damage (09 Feb. 2023)
Telangana HYDRO DEATHS Three persons drowned in Nagarjuna Sagar dam in Nalgonda district when they went into it to take bath. The bodies of the deceased were pulled out by rescue workers late on Feb 9, 2023. They were identified as Nagaraju (39), Uppala Chandrakanth (26) and Vacahspati (25), all residents of Hyderabad. The incident occurred in Peddapuram mandal of Nalgonda district. https://www.siasat.com/telangana-three-persons-drown-in-nagarjuna-sagar-dam-2523349/ (10 Feb. 2023)
MNRE Scheme for mini hydro projects in the works The Centre is planning to start a programme to support small hydro power projects in the country. There was a scheme till 2017, but there is none since then.
– “We think there is a need to support the small hydro sector. I think the support is required but what kind of support and at what level, how soon, these are yet to be answered,” BS Bhalla, Secretary, Union Ministry of New and Renewable Sources of Energy said. Hydro power plants of 25 MW or below are classified as small, and they come under the purview of the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE). Currently, the installed capacity of small hydro power projects is 4.9 GW, which accounts for 1.2% of the total power capacity. India has an estimated potential of 21.1 GW from 7,133 sites for power generation from small and mini hydro projects. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/scheme-for-mini-hydro-projects-in-the-works-11675791498834.html (08 Feb. 2023)
PSHP Ajay Shankar, former Secretary, Govt of India and now fellow, TERI, about pump storage projects in India. He does not mention the cost viability or how much PSP is viable in India. He also does not mention that several f the existing PSPs in India are not working in PSP mode as the developer does not find it viable. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/pump-storage-plants-the-way-ahead-for-energy-storage-in-india/97661561 (07 Feb. 2021)
MoEF Agenda of EAC on River Valley Projects meeting to be held on Feb 15 2023.
1. Saundatti HEP (1200 MW) Integrated Renewable Energy with Pumped Storage Project at village Karlakatti, Tehsil – Saundatti, District – Belgaum, Karnataka by Greenko Solar Energy Pvt. Ltd. – Amendment in Environmental Clearance
2. Malshej Ghat Bhorande Pumped Storage Project (1440 MW) in 116.5 Ha Vil Adoshi & Bhorande, Teh Junnar & Murbad, Dist Pune & Thane (Mah) by Adani Green Energy Ltd – Terms of Reference
3. Basin Wise Re-assessment of Hydroelectric Potential in the country, draft report of Indus Basin- For Comments
4. Cumulative Impact Assessment and Carrying Capacity Study (CIA & CCS) of Yamuna River Basin in Himachal Pradesh by Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun – Terms of Reference
5. Cumulative Impact Assessment and Carrying Capacity Study (CIA & CSS) of Satluj River Basin Study in Himachal Pradesh by Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun – Reconsideration of Study Report http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/_06022023HBY9KM58.pdf
Agenda for EAC meeting to be held on Feb 23, 2023:
1. Shahpur Pumped Storage Project (2520 MW) in 624.905 ha located at Kaloni, Baint and Mungawali villages, Shahabad Tehsil, District Baran, (Raj) by Greenko Energies Private Ltd – Environmental Clearance
2. Greenko TS01 Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (750 MW) in 319.50 Ha at Village Jhari, Tehsil Talamadugu, Dist Adilabad (Telangana) by Greenko Energies Private Ltd – Terms of Reference
3. Greenko OD01 Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (1200 MW) in 317.52 Ha, located at Village Talgad, Tehsil Jayapatna, Dist Kalahandi (Odisha) by Greenko Energies Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference
4. Astha MP Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (1200 MW) in 348.37 Ha at Village Navrangpura, Tehsil Maheshwar, Dist Khargone (MP) by Astha Green Energy Ventures India Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference
5. Manalar Pumped Storage Hydro Electric Project (1200 MW) in 208.16 Ha at Village Surulipatti, Taluk Uthamapalayam, Dist Theni (TN) by TN Generation and Distribution Corp – Terms of Reference
6. Phata Byung Hydro Electric Project (76 MW) in 23.323 Ha at Village Sitapur, Tehsil Okhimath, Dist Rudraprayag (Uttarakhand) by Lanco Mandakini Hydro Energy Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/_070220230Q53TOXW.pdf
Sujata on FB post comment:- “Pumped storage is by far the largest-capacity form of grid energy storage available, and, as of 2020, the United States Department of Energy Global Energy Storage Database reports that PSH accounts for around 95% of all active tracked storage installations worldwide, with a total installed throughput capacity of over 181 GW, of which about 29 GW are in the United States, and a total installed storage capacity of over 1.6 TWh, of which about 250 GWh are in the United States. The round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80% with some sources claiming up to 87%. The main disadvantage of PSH is the specialist nature of the site required, needing both geographical height and water availability. Suitable sites are therefore likely to be in hilly or mountainous regions, and potentially in areas of natural beauty, making PSH susceptible to social and ecological issues. Many recently proposed projects, at least in the U.S., avoid highly sensitive or scenic areas, and some propose to take advantage of “brownfield” locations such as disused mines” (Will India Nepal scrap Pancheswar project and adopt PSH since its environmental impact is less than large hydro projects that require large area deforestation and displacement of people?)
Polavaram Project March 2024 deadline for Polavaram: Centre Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti Bishweswar Tudu reiterated that the deadline for the completion of the Polavaram project is March 2024 and the distributary canal system of the project should be ready by June of that year. In a written reply to TDP MP Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, he mentioned the deadline for the irrigation project. However, in view of major floods in Godavari in 2020 and 2022, some delay in the proposed schedule is expected.
– According to the Union Minister, the State government has informed that an expenditure of Rs 16,035.88 crore has been incurred on the project from April 2014 to December 2022. Excluding the amount provisioned for the PPA, an eligible amount of Rs 13,226.04 crore has been released by the Centre for the execution of the project since April 1, 2014. Bills amounting to Rs 2,390.27 crore are not found eligible for reimbursement by the PPA.
– Meanwhile, Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat clarified that the GoI is not providing any grant for the 960 MW hydropower project in Polavaram, which is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 5,338.95 crore by APGENCO. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2023/feb/07/march-2024-deadline-for-polavaram-centre-2545129.html (07 Feb. 2023)
NHPC report on diaphragm wall stability awaited AP WR Minister Mr. Ambati Rambabu accompanied by irrigation engineers on Feb 10 2023 visited the project site and observed the diaphragm wall and the earth cum rock fill dam (ECRF). “The NHPC experts have completed their field-level investigation on the structural stability of the diaphragm wall by February 9. It is a key development. The experts are expected to give their report within three weeks,” he told the media at the project site. “We are not prepared to proceed with any work on the diaphragm wall and the ECRF dam till the NHPC report comes. A decision will be taken based on the experts’ findings,” said Mr. Rambabu.
– “We have already built 18,000 houses in the resettlement and rehabilitation colonies for the families affected within the +41.17 contour,” he added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/nhpc-experts-studied-polavaram-diaphragm-wall-stability-report-is-awaited-says-ambati/article66493163.ece (10 Feb. 2023)
Maharashtra SHRC seeks Megholi dam burst relief report The state human rights commission has directed the water resources department (WRD) and revenue department of the district to submit a status report regarding the measures adopted to provide relief to the residents of Megholi village from Bhudargad tehsil which was affected by the bursting of an earthen dam. The commission has asked the authorities concerned to submit a report regarding the reconstruction of the dam.
The hearing of the petitions filed before the commission was held in Kolhapur on Thursday (Feb. 09) and it was presided over by panel members Bhagwantrao More and M A Sayyed. Janata Nagari Niwara Sanghatna, a Kolhapur-based forum of the activists, had filed petition on behalf of the people from Megholi affected by the dam burst.
According to the activists, construction of the dam was faulty as found from the complaints registered by the locals. Also, the WRD had carried out frequent repairs. Shivajirao Parulekar, convenor of the forum, said, “We wanted the incident to be registered not just as natural calamity, but also as human negligence. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolhapur/rights-panel-seeks-megholi-dam-burst-relief-report/articleshow/97814198.cms (11 Feb. 2023)
Tamil Nadu 20 years on, farmers await compensation According to sources, 724 acres of land were taken up by the government in the year 2000 to build the Nallathangal dam at Ponnivadi in Dharapuram. The cost of the project was Rs 44 crore. The structure was commissioned in August 2007.
Speaking to TNIE, counsel for farmers and former Lok Sabha MP Dr SK Kharventhan said, “In 2007, after the dam was inaugurated, 110 farmers who gave up 724 acres decided to approach the court. After a lengthy proceeding, Dharapuram Sub Court decided that the compensation should be enhanced and passed an order fixing Rs 70,000 for dry land and Rs 1 lakh for garden land. The compensation for all farmers was around Rs 20 crore on April 17, 2017. Since it was not released, seizure notices were issued to Dharapuram Revenue Divisional Office, Taluk Office and VAO office on November 30, 2021.”
Sources said the revenue officials have filed an appeal in Madras High Court. The court directed the government to deposit 50% of the compensation on July 19, 2022, but it was not done. Revenue Divisional Officer (Dharapuram) A Kumaresan told TNIE, “Lack of funds is the reason for delay in issuing compensation. We have conveyed the situation to superiors in Chennai. The issue would be resolved amicably.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2023/feb/07/twenty-years-on-farmers-await-compensation-for-land-they-gave-up-for-dam-2545031.html (07 Feb. 2023)
Speedy construction of Marudaiyaru dam Residents and activists have approached K Karpagam, the newly appointed collector of Perambalur, with a bouquet of demands, including expediting the construction of Kottarai-Marudaiyaru dam. Marudaiyaru river has been the main source of water for the residents of Perambalur which flows from the hills of Keezhakanavai to the villages.
The work for the construction of a dam across the river in Kottarai commenced in 2016 at Rs 108 crore. However, it is yet to be completed, rue residents. N Suresh, a resident of Kottarai, said, “Work for the Kottarai-Marudaiyaru dam has been moving at a snail’s pace. The river has breached three times already and water stagnates in the fields of Adhanur and Kottarai, which is in close proximity to the dam, rendering it difficult for farmers to undertake irrigational activities.
A group of residents sought official intervention in putting an end to untreated effluents flowing into the river from the STP in Neduvasal. “Officials claim that the Neduvasal STP is treating sewage; however, the stench emanating from it has been posing health concerns to the residents and affecting cattle,” Ragavan said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2023/feb/11/speedy-construction-of-marudaiyaru-dam-among-bouquet-of-demands-presented-to-new-perambalur-collecto-2546339.html (11 Feb. 2023)
INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES
Mahadayi Water Dispute Villagers oppose water diversion The Cansaulim-Arossim-Cuelim gram sabha on Sunday (Feb. 05) adopted various resolutions to protect the identity of its villages and also unanimously resolved to oppose the diversion of Mhadei water by Karnataka. Mhadei was the major point of discussion in the meeting. The gram sabha members have alleged that Mhadei water diversion will benefit steel plants in northern Karnataka. “Mhadei water diversion is based on the Gujarat model, under which the water of the Narmada was diverted to industries,” said Olencio Simoes, a gram sabha member and senior functionary of traditional fishermen association. “Mhadei water will benefit steel manufacturing plants in Karnataka.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/mhadei-like-gujs-narmada-being-diverted-to-industries/articleshow/97627907.cms (06 Feb. 2023)
Upper Bhadra Project Experts question budgetary allocation, legal sanctity The national status accorded to the Upper Bhadra project in Karnataka by the Central government and the substantial budgetary allocation for the project in the Union Budget will sound the death knell for Rayalaseema region in Andhra Pradesh, intellectuals and the academic fraternity here have said.
“According national status of a project with no legal sanctity is against the federal spirit of the Constitution. The BJP-led Central government has done irreparable damage to the Rayalaseema region downstream,” Rayalaseema Intellectual Forum coordinator M. Purushotham Reddy told the media. “The lift irrigation project was designed in 2008 to store 42 tmc ft of water, to which the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT-1) declined allocation under the Bachawat Award. However, the KWDT-2 allocated 9 tmc ft of water in 2010, which again was struck down by the Supreme Court in favour of Andhra Pradesh,” Mr. Reddy explained.
Despite the stay order of the Supreme Court and the objections raised by the riparian States, the Centre had not only granted the forest clearance and expansion under stage-II to the project in 2017, but also paid no heed to the objections raised by Andhra Pradesh in 2019, 2021 and 2022, he alleged.
The forum flayed the Centre for allocating ₹5,300 crore by recognising the Upper Bhadra as a national project, based on the recommendations made by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti to allocate ₹16,125 crore to the project.
G. Jayachandra Reddy, a retired professor of Sri Venkateswara University, expressed concern that the move could distance the Tungabhadra river from the ‘parched throats’ of Rayalaseema, which has already lost control over the Krishna river. He squarely blamed the successive governments for not completing the storage projects in tune with the allocation. “Construction of this unauthorised project upstream will directly affect the Galeru Nagari, Handri Neeva, Telugu Ganga and SRBC projects in Andhra Pradesh,” said Mr. Reddy.
The forum appealed to the Members of Parliament from the Rayalaseema region to fight against the Centre’s ‘unilateral stand taken against the interests of Andhra Pradesh and in favour of Karnataka’, besides demanding the YSRCP government in State to lead an all-party delegation to Delhi. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/upper-bhadra-project-in-karnataka-will-sound-a-death-knell-for-rayalaseema-region-in-andhra-pradesh-says-forum/article66484780.ece (08 Feb. 2023)
Barak River Dispute Cachar locals patrol riverbank to stop Manipur boats from entering Assam Residents of Sonbari in Cachar district’s Lakhipur assembly constituency in southern Assam, have been patrolling in that area (Sonbari) along the river Barak since Tuesday (Feb. 07) to prevent public transport boats or any other boats of Manipur from entering Assam’s territory via the waterway.
The locals have been patrolling the river bank since Tuesday (Feb. 07) after two women from the Sonbari area going to Manipur to attend a religious programme were allegedly made to disembark the boat and were left at an “unsafe” place along the river by that state’s village defence party (VDP) members as the women did not have inner line permit (ILP) documents.
Since then, the people, who have set up temporary camps with plastic sheets on the river bank, have stopped all the boats coming from the Manipur side in Sonbari along the river and made them turn back towards Manipur. No official from Manipur communicated with the protesters in the past two days, the sources said.
Whenever people of Sonbari (Assam) go to catch fish from the river on Assam’s side, VDP officials of Manipur ask for ILP documents. If someone goes to obtain ILP in Jiribam (Manipur), they (Manipur authorities) say that ILP is not given to people for catching fish. As such, people of Assam are being harassed, the people alleged. They threatened to continue their patrolling activity and prevent boats of Manipur from entering Assam unless a plausible solution is chalked out regarding the ILP issue.
It may be mentioned that a truck driver of Lalpani, Lakhipur (Cachar district) Joynal Hussain was beaten up allegedly by police in Kaimai in Manipur’s Tamenglong district earlier this month after Joynal could not give the cops Rs 300 demanded by them. Movement of trucks remained stopped on national highway-37 (Assam-Manipur road) for long hours following that incident. https://www.eastmojo.com/assam/2023/02/09/cachar-locals-patrol-riverbank-to-stop-manipur-boats-from-entering-assam/ (09 Feb. 2023)
ADB funds canal modernization Canals of Vani Vilas Sagar Dam in Hiriyur Taluk of Chitradurga district of Karnataka are set to be modernised. ADB is funding such projects in Karnataka, Maharashtra (Palkhed dam, 41 000 ha), Haryana (Loharo project, 60 000 ha) and Rajasthan (Indira Sagar Nahar Pariyojna 3.47 lakh ha). The project is to cost Rs 730 Cr. The 116 year dam reached its FRL of 135 ft only the second time in its history last year. https://www.deccanherald.com/amp/state/karnataka-districts/modernisation-on-the-cards-for-canals-of-vani-vilas-sagar-dam-1188919.html (07 Feb. 2023)
SANDRP Blog Do we have space for Rivers in our cities? Is it a legitimate, valid question, or is this question a product of old fashioned, romantic mind? If we go by the way we are treating the rivers and its various essential components in big cities or small, the answer seems a clear no. https://sandrp.in/2023/02/09/do-we-have-space-for-rivers-in-our-cities/ (09 Feb. 2023)
Katri; Dhanbad Dainik Bhaskar 13 Feb 2023 report mentions how Katri a tributary of Damodar river has been facing existential threats in Dhanbad.
Doodhganga; Srinagar SMC issues notice to ‘encroachers’ The Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) on Saturday (Feb. 11) warned ‘encroachers’ to remove the illegal structures built over the Dhood Ganga Nallah, as the flood channel stretching from Alochi Bagh to Chattabal “is an important channel for the management of storm water and for preventing of urban flooding in the Srinagar City.” “Whereas as, rejuvenation and restoration of Dhood Ganga Nallah from Alochi Bagh to Chatabal has been taken up under Srinagar Smart City Limited with Drainage Circle (Civil), SMC as the executing Agency,” said a communication, issued by SMC Commissioner Athar Aamir Khan.
“Whereas, it has been found that a number of encroachments and illegal structures have come up on the site of Nallah; Whereas, removal of these encroachments and illegal structures and restoration of Nallah is important for flood and storm water management in the City,” it added. “Now, therefore, through this Public Notice, all such individuals/encroachers are given 07 days’ time from the issuance of this notice to remove all encroachments/illegal structures erected on and along the Nallah, failing which Srinagar Municipal Corporation shall initiate action including removal of these encroachments at the risk and cost of the offenders/encroachers,” added the communication. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/srinagar/restoration-of-doodh-ganga-nallah-smc-issues-notice-to-encroachers (11 Feb. 2023)
On October 28 last year, the NGT had imposed Rs 35 crore penalty on the Jammu and Kashmir administration for failing to check pollution of Doodh Ganga owing to discharge of untreated sewage into the water body.
The High Court of J&K and Ladakh in its last hearing had directed the government to prevent pollution and environmental degradation of Doodh Ganga and construct a filtration plant over it. The court had closed a PIL, which it had initiated in 2019 after taking cognisance of a news report in Greater Kashmir.
It had also disclosed that heaps of garbage were lying around Doodh Ganga Filtration Plant built in the year 1972, which supplies water to more than 2 lakh people in different areas of Srinagar. The court had closed the PIL as the NGT was monitoring the case. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/front-page-2/better-late-than-never-govt-starts-restoration-of-buried-doodh-ganga-canal-in-srinagar (12 Feb. 2023)
The Times of India, Feb 7, 2023
ISRO 32,392 glaciers draining into India A glacier inventory generated by the Space Application Centre of ISRO using satellite data from 2004 to 2010 show that 32,392 glaciers covering over 71,000 sq km are draining into the Indian territory. These glaciers are in the Indus, Ganga and the Brahmaputra basins encompassing the Himalayas, Trans-Himalaya and Karakoram regions. During the second phase of the project, the work was extended to map glaciers draining into neighbouring countries. This showed 2,527 additional glaciers, a report by the Department of Space tabled in Parliament on Feb 8, 2023 said.
– Changes in the size of glaciers between 1962 and 2001 were assessed for 2,630 glaciers. The data on the glacier size for 1962 was taken from Survey of India (SOI) topographical maps and that of 2001 was taken from satellite details. The study showed loss of 13.4 per cent in area of glaciers.
– In continuation, monitoring of change in the size of 2,018 glaciers was carried out using satellite data. It indicated that 87 per cent of the glaciers had showed no change, 12 per cent had retreated and one per cent had advanced. It showed a net loss of 20.94 sq km in the total area of 10,250.68 sq km for all monitored glaciers mapped in 2000-01.
– Further, 5,234 glaciers were monitored between 2001 and 2018 across the Himalayan-Karakoram region from Kashmir to Sikkim using satellite data and limited Landsat data. The 5,234 ice bodies included 3,435 debris-free glaciers also. In the Karakoram region, 2,058 glacier bodies were checked and mapped. In this region, gain in area (0.056 per cent) has been observed. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/32-392-glaciers-draining-into-india-says-isro-477888 (09 Feb. 2023)
DTE Save the springs Some three million springs flow across the Indian Himalayan region. About half of these have either dried up or are in various stages of disappearing, according to a 2018 report published by the government think tank NITI Aayog. Springs dry up due to four main reasons. One, a reduction in the long-term rainfall in the region. This has happened in several parts of the Himalayan states. While some places see excessive rain that leads to landslides and floods, the average annual rainfall in the region has decreased. This deficit is irregular across districts.
– The second reason is a change in land cover and land use. Some places in the Himalayan states have seen a reduction in forest cover and natural farming, due to both infrastructural development and land-use changes at the local level.
– The third reason is landslides, due to which the earth moves from one place to another and destroys springs, while the fourth cause is rain-related drought. Apart from these four reasons, floods can also result in destruction of springs. Moreover, it is important to note that all these processes are taking place in a fragile and ecologically sensitive region.
– Further, water from the springs form the base flows of rivers such as the Ganga, Yamuna and Brahmaputra. If the springs are lost, naturally the base flow of the river channels will drop, especially during summer. Hence, saving the Himalayan springs is of great importance for the survival of the entire mountain ecosystem. The good thing is that all the state governments have approved springshed management. Stream management is also undeniably easier than groundwater management. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/urbanisation/himalayan-plunder-save-the-springs-of-the-region-87548 (08 Feb. 2023)
Kerala Centre launches Periyar river conservation project Central government has launched a programme for conserving the 244-km-long Periyar river in Kerala. The river is among six rivers across the country that are being covered under the National River Conservation Plan. The other rivers are Barak, Mahanadi, Narmada, Godavari and Kaveri. A two-day workshop was conducted at Thekkady on Feb. 06-07 as part of the conservation project, named “Periyar River Basin Conservation Project. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/centre-launches-periyar-river-conservation-project/article66481924.ece (07 Feb. 2023)
Telangana 9 rivers don’t conform to water quality norms, finds study As per CPCB’s ‘Polluted River Stretches for Restoration of Water Quality – 2022’, report, the water quality of 12 rivers in the state was monitored at 49 different locations. At 37 locations on nine rivers including Godavari, Karakavagu, Kinnersani, Krishna, Manair, Manjeera, Munneru, Musi, Nakkavagu the quality of water did not conform to the prescribed Water Quality Criteria with respect to BOD and Musi is the highly polluted river with BOD at 66.0 (mg/L).
Sai Bhaskar Reddy Nakka, an environmentalist and scientist said Musi, by default, has become a drainage carrier in Hyderabad for many years. Though there are several government bodies were established to monitor it, the improvement is just nominal. Even for the gated communities, there are government norms that the drainage water should be discharged into the water bodies only after minimum treatment but this implementation is also questionable. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2023/feb/09/9-ts-rivers-dont-conform-to-water-quality-norms-finds-study-2545707.html (09 Feb. 2023)
CAUVERY Karnataka Experts oppose bid to stop river flows for pilgrims Wildlife experts have questioned KPCC president D K Shivakumar’s request to the government about stopping the Cauvery’s flow to facilitate the movement of pilgrims, who converge from Ramanagara and Kanakapura, walking to the M M Hills shrine annually during Shivaratri. In a letter to the MD of the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Ltd, Shivakumar has requested to stop the flow of the Cauvery waters on February 13 and 14, when the devotees will be crossing the river. Last year, five pilgrims were washed away while crossing the river.
Wildlife experts pointed out that the entire walking route of devotees goes through the sensitive Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, which has a good population of elephants and crocodiles. The experts are suggesting the department to put an end to the practice of walking through the forest. The experts have also suggested alternative routes. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2023/feb/08/d-k-shivakumarwants-cauvery-stopped-for-pilgrims-greens-upset-2545383.html (08 Feb. 2023)
Jharkhand Industrial wastes adding to Subarnarekha pollution The findings of a recent survey by the Adityapur-based regional office of SPCB has revealed that Subarnarekha, the lifeline river of the state, is getting polluted in areas in and around Jamshedpur. The board has expressed concern over rising industrial effluents being dumped. A social worker said that apart from large scale flow of industrial and domestic waste in the river, encroachment of the bank area was also a matter of grave concern. Many illegal structures had been erected on the banks of the river.
The officials informed that a team collected water samples from the river near Domuhani and Mango (Jamshedpur) and Moubhandar (Ghatshila) to rate it on pollution parameters. After the study it was found that the pH value of water was on the higher side in Mango and Moubhandar. While the pH of natural water ranges between 4 and 9, these two places showed values between 8.5 and 9.6. Only in Domuhani pH value within a limit. Dissolved oxygen (DO), was low near Domuhani, Mango and Bhuiyandih. Against a desirable limit of 5mg/litre, DO in these places was from 3.25mg/ litre to 4.05mg/ litre. Moreover, lead content was high in the water at two points Moubhandar and Galudih. The prescribed limit of lead in river water is 0.05mg/ litre. But, samples collected from these two points had anything between 0.61mg/ litre and 2.85mg/litre. https://avenuemail.in/jamshedpur-industrial-wastes-adding-to-pollution-level-in-river-subarnarekha/ (07 Feb. 2023)
GANGA Editorial The poor state of rivers A study published in May 2022 by the Tata Centre of Development at the University of Chicago revealed that the Yamuna’s acreage had decreased to 14.5 sq km from 18.05 sq km, thereby taking a toll on the livelihoods of those living along the riverbank — over 49% of the surveyed population subsisted on less than Rs 10,000 per month. Marine life is endangered in the Ganga; the river dolphin has been a casualty of largescale pollution in India’s holiest river that now contains 40 different types of plastic polymers. 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.
– Riverine pollution, therefore, cannot be tackled with a one-size-fitsall policy. A decentralised approach, prioritising local conditions and challenges, could lead the way.
– 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. There is thus a need for an overhaul in the attitude — at the public level and at the level of policy — towards this natural resource that has been the cradle of civilisations. https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/in-peril-editorial-on-the-poor-state-of-rivers-in-india/cid/1912373 (27 Jan. 2023)
Rajya Sabha The prime objective of the Namami Gange programme is to make the water of the Ganga suitable for outdoor bathing notified by the MoEF&CC and not drinking water quality, the Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti Bishweswar Tudu said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Feb. 06. The Centre launched the Namami Gange programme in June 2014 for a period up to March 31, 2021, to rejuvenate the Ganga and its tributaries. The Centre subsequently extended the programme up to March 31, 2026. The minister said a total ₹ 13,709.72 crore was released to the NMCG from the 2014-15 fiscal till 31 December, 2022. Of this, ₹ 13,245.68 crore have been disbursed by the NMCG to the state governments, state missions for clean Ganga and other agencies for implementation of the projects related to the river’s rejuvenation, he said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/centre-explains-prime-objective-of-namami-gange-project-for-river-ganga-3759120 (06 Feb. 2023)
Study Tributaries disappearing fast The dean (media and branding) of the institute, Prof Rajni Singh, said the transboundary river basins are shrinking as their tributaries and streams are disappearing at an unprecedented rate, causing changes in their catchment area which, in turn leads to unpredictable climate, floods and droughts, loss of agricultural productivity, pandemic, disaster and disruption of valuable ecosystem services. “It also leads to adversities like groundwater depletion, soil erosion, desertification and surface run-offs. We need 6-8% land cover under surface water on the planet to deliver river-dependent ecosystem services,” she said.
The research, titled ‘Morphometric Delineation of Administrative Boundaries and Classification of Threatened Categories of Watershed in Transboundary Rivers’, under the leadership of Prof. Anshumali of the department of environmental science and engineering, also found decline of vegetation, water bodies and barren land of the river at the rate of 13.9%, 3.6% and 1.6 %, respectively, in the nearby areas of river along the 53.08km long banks of Banki river, a tributary of Ganga, between 1991 and 2001.
“The problem is not confined to any particular continent or country but almost every region is affected as approximately 40% of people in the world live in transboundary lake and river basins shared between two or more countries that cover almost 50% of global land surface and 60% of global water flow,” elaborated Prof Anshumali. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/delineate-administrative-boundaries-to-save-rivers/articleshow/97833697.cms (12 Feb. 2023)
YAMUNA Delhi L-G writes to Haryana CM on setting up of STPs LG Vinai Kumar Saxena on Tuesday (Feb. 07) urged Haryana CM Manohar Lal to “urgently” convene a meeting with Delhi to find a sustainable solution to the Yamuna pollution. In a letter to Mr. Lal, the L-G noted that despite assurances from the Haryana Irrigation Department, there has been no substantial progress in setting up STPs to treat sewage before discharging it into Delhi’s Najafgarh drain, which eventually flows into the Yamuna. Mr. Saxena requested the Haryana CM’s “personal intervention” and sought a meeting at the earliest as per his convenience, preferably in Delhi or Chandigarh.
The L-G heads a high-level committee constituted by the NGT to take corrective measures to tackle pollution in the Yamuna. Earlier, Mr. Saxena had discussed the Yamuna pollution issue at the North Zonal Council Meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Jaipur on July 9 last year. A follow-up meeting was convened by the Union Home Secretary on July 26 that year where the Haryana Irrigation Department had given assurance to set up STPs to ensure 100% treatment of sewage before discharge into Najafgarh Drain, the L-G’s letter said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/yamuna-pollution-l-g-writes-to-haryana-cm-on-setting-up-of-stps/article66481968.ece (08 Feb. 2023)
Noida Demolition drive to free floodplains Amid allegations of illegal concrete constructions on government land causing damage to the Yamuna floodplains, the Noida authority will carry out a demolition drive to raze the farmhouses in multiple villages, officials said on Friday (Feb. 10). The move comes after farmers in the area filed complaints, alleging that the land mafias were constructing illegal farmhouses, and not letting them to carry out agricultural activities on the floodplains. A survey conducted by the Noida authority in November last year found out that there were around 2,000 illegal farmhouses built on the Yamuna floodplains. These illegal farmhouses were built in multiple villages, including Nagla Nagli, Wazidpur, Momnathal, Asgarpur, Jhatta and Badoli. The authority in the past has carried out demolition drives but locals say it has proved little to stop the illegal constructions. The last such drive was carried out in November 2022.
According to a June 2012 directive of the state government, land owners are not allowed to erect permanent concrete structure on the said land. In May 2013, the NGT also directed the Delhi, UP and Haryana governments to clear all concrete structures built illegally from notified no-development zones on the NCR flood plains. However, the unabated sale of land for construction of permanent structures has caused severe damage to the flora and fauna of Yamuna floodplains by blocking water channels, hampering filtering of the water that goes into the ground subsequently destroying vegetation, according to environmental experts.
“The land mafias selling illegal farmhouses have built concrete boundary walls with bricks and cement. They have also constructed the concrete farmhouses using construction material which is banned on the floodplain as it damages the fragile ecology. We fail to understand as to why the authority is not filing FIRs against them,” alleged Teekam Singh Chauhan, a farmer who has filed several complaints in this regard to the Noida authority.
Another farmer, Rishi Bhati from Momnathal village, said, “The Noida authority has carried out demolition drives many times in the past but they razed few of the farms symbolically without acting uniformly against the organised crime which has posed threats to the health of Yamuna river. Why cannot the authority demolish all illegal farmhouses as they dump their sewer and other waste into the soil, affecting not only the river but also the ground water.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/noida-soon-to-begin-demolition-drive-to-free-yamuna-floodplains-101676059127763.html (11 Feb. 2023)
Assam Women saved India’s rarest stork Greater adjutants, reviled as bad omens, were endangered until Indian conservationist Purnima Devi Barman transformed attitudes to the bird – and gave thousands of women a new identity. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/feb/09/assam-hargila-army-women-saved-india-rarest-stork-greater-adjutant (09 Feb. 2023)
FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS
The Conundrum of Sacred Mahseer Shishir Rao There are lessons to be learnt from the events that transpired at the Shishileshwara temple fish sanctuary. Firstly, since mahseer is regarded by some as a popular food fish, and by others as sacred, a fundamental challenge for temple fish sanctuaries is to manage diverging expectations arising out of diverse belief systems. Secondly, when species become locally abundant due to protection and provisioning, they are vulnerable to external threats such as poisoning, predation and potentially to diseases as well.
Thirdly, captive breeding may be a great tool for conserving species under decline but artificially introducing stocked fish outside their range can seriously affect native fish already facing other pressures. Despite these challenges, in the light of ever-increasing pressure on river ecosystems, temple fish sanctuaries may be some of the last refuges for freshwater biodiversity in the Western Ghats. Like the sacred groves of the Western Ghats, the Shishileshwara temple fish sanctuary epitomises the intricate relationships between religious beliefs and biodiversity conservation. https://jlrexplore.com/explore/on-assignment/the-conundrum-of-sacred-mahseer-the-story-of-a-temple-fish-sanctuary-in-the-western-ghats (01 Feb. 2023)
Goa Govt to develop four full-fledged fishing villages Goa will develop four fishing villages under a Central government-funded scheme with the state government providing all the infrastructure, CM Pramod Sawant said. Sawant, who was addressing the inaugural function of the Goa Mega Aqua Fish Festival on Friday (Feb. 10), asked people to join the sector in large numbers and reap the benefits of various schemes introduced by the state fisheries department. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/goa-to-develop-four-full-fledged-fishing-villages-with-central-govt-funding-10055541.html (11 Feb. 2023)
Kerala KGVES moves SC against mineral sand mining The Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samiti (KGVES) has moved the Supreme Court against mineral sand mining on the Alappuzha coast. The apex court will consider the appeal challenging a Kerala High Court order which dismissed a plea to stop mineral sand mining on the coast, including at Thottappally, on February 13. At Thottappally, local residents are on the warpath alleging that the State government is engaged in large-scale mineral sand mining at pozhi (sandbar) and the Thottappally fishing harbour in the disguise of flood mitigation in Kuttanad and development of the harbour respectively. The sand extraction is taking place in an area prone to ‘moderate-to-high’ coastal erosion. Residents fear that the mining would prove detrimental to the people living along the shorelines from Valiazheekal to Punnapra. According to the KGVES, 456 houses had been destroyed in the region in the last five years due to coastal erosion. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kgves-moves-supreme-court-against-mineral-sand-mining/article66486234.ece (08 Feb. 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Mining endangers bridge over Neugal Large-scale illegal mining near Thural has endangered the bridge at Tamloh over Neugal river linking 30 villages of Thural tehsil of Kangra district. The bridge, built at a cost of Rs 1 crore, will be in danger if the illegal mining continued. The mining is going on close to the bridge and has become a matter of concern for half a dozen panchayats whose residents use the bridge daily to reach their villages.
Because of the illegal mining, the foundation of one of the pillars of the bridge has been exposed. No action has been initiated against the mining mafia to ensure that the illegal activity was stopped. The mining mafia has also constructed illegal roads below the bridge to reach the riverbed.
Tractors, tippers and trucks can be seen upstream of the Neugal river extracting mining material near the bridge in gross violation of the directions of the NGT. As per the NGT order, mining within a 200-meter radius of the bridges is banned in the state. The mining mafia has dug five feet deep trenches near the bridge.
The villagers say that Gharana and Bharanta panchayats have lodged protests against illegal mining several times but the Mining Department has remained a mute spectator. Villagers have also approached Assistant Engineer, PWD, Thural, highlighting the mining activities going on unabated near the bridge. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/mining-endangers-bridge-over-neugal-476999 (06 Feb. 2021)
Uttarakhand खनन विभाग में अधिकारियों की मिलीभगत से खनन में की गई अनियमितताओं के आरोप के बाद एनजीटी ने गढ़वाल मंडल के दो खनन पट्टों पर रोक लगाई है. देहरादून विकास नगर क्षेत्र में यमुना नदी के किनारे दो खनन पट्टों को लेकर एनजीटी ने रोक के आदेश जारी किए हैं. साथ ही एनजीटी ने इस मामले में सरकार से जवाब भी मांगा है. https://www.etvbharat.com/amp/hindi/uttarakhand/state/dehradun/ngt-bans-two-mining-leases-of-garhwal-division-in-mining-irregularities-case/uttarakhand20230206161335553553800 (06 Feb. 2023)
Uttar Pradesh Violating norms wilfully, sand mafia again created 2 cross sectional bunds & diverted Yamuna river’s natural flowing course near Mandawar in Kairana under Shamli district as shows Sentinel Feb 08 image. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1625017088216825861?s=20&t=WZJo4hpdt9CtJj77TYn50g (13 Feb. 2023)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
Maharashtra Tunnel to raise bullet train project cost to ₹10,000 cr A 7-km undersea tunnel will be constructed for the bullet train project in a bid to save about 12 hectares of mangrove forests in Thane creek. This will escalate the construction cost of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor project’s 21-km long stretch from Bandra Kurla Complex Station to Shilphata from ₹100 crore to ₹10,000 crore.
“Building an underground tunnel has escalated the cost by 100 times. However, we are conserving nearly 12 hectares of mangroves in the creek,” a senior National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd. (NHSRCL) official told The Hindu. Constructing an undersea tunnel in the Thane creek will be a massive challenge as it will involve two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) which will meet half way under the sea to join two parts of the tunnel by a process called docking.
Further, for civil and building works for 135 km involving viaducts, bridges, tunnels, and maintenance depots at Thane, Virar, Boisar; and some connecting works for Thane depot between Shilphata and Zaroli village on the Gujarat-Maharashtra border, the tender was invited on November 15, 2022. The opening is scheduled for March 15 this year. Another tender for design and construction of the Thane Depot is scheduled to be opened on April 26. These involve construction of viaducts comprising 36 bridges, including 11 bridges on rivers and six mountain tunnels. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/undersea-tunnel-proposed-for-bullet-train-project-to-save-mangrove-forests-in-thane-creek/article66491004.ece (09 Feb. 2023)
Tamil Nadu Heavy metal pollution of Veeranam lake The Veeranam lake supplies drinking water to the surrounding areas as well as to Chennai and irrigates hundreds of hectares of agricultural land with water. The primary source of pollution of the lake due to metals is because of the small, medium, and large-scale industries that include tanneries, battery factories, and distilleries that are transferred to the lake through the Cauvery river.
In addition, the river also collects wastewater from the river basin communities that gets deposited in the lake. The river also carries sewage from the local panchayat, cities, and municipalities and is contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals used for cultivation of crops in the region.
This highly contaminated water can harm both animal and human health, since the lake serves as a source of potable water for a large section of the population. The study highlights the urgent need: To manage, protect and maintain the ecological balance of the lake and protect the health of humans who depend on the lake for their livelihood and survival. To monitor the health of wetlands such as lakes as they provide clean drinking water, support livelihoods and serve as a habitat for many types of animals and birds. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/heavy-metals-poison-veeranam-lake-tamil-nadu (25 Jan. 2023)
Telangana Himayatsagar not a water body The more than 100-year-old Himayatsagar, which was constructed as the city’s main source of drinking water during the rule of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, is not a notified water body. Since Himayatsagar, a smaller man-made lake that runs parallel to the larger and historic Nizam-era Osmansagar, has not been recognised as a notified water body, it has received less attention and has not undergone significant development comparable to Gandipet. The report fixing the full tank level of Himayatsagar was submitted by the revenue and irrigation authorities two years ago, but the HMDA is yet to even give a preliminary report notifying it as a water body.
In an effort to develop eco-friendly tourism attractions, the state government had allocated Rs 35.60 crore for a the landscape park encompassing 18 acres on the banks of Osmansagar. Himayatsagar, on the other hand, was unable to experience development. Authorities contend that the government has suggested an eco-park on 125 acres near Himayatsagar at an estimated cost of Rs 75 crore.
After a survey of 2,688 lakes was complete, 1,838 lakes received preliminary notifications, and 224 lakes received final notifications. The survey of each lake, according to officials, would be conducted after consultations with the irrigation and revenue officials. Sources said it is only after the certification of lake, FTL maps by the irrigation department and superimposition of revenue survey numbers that the preliminary notification would be issued by HMDA duly placing FTL maps with boundaries and buffer zones in public domain.
It should be noted that although the exercise began 10 years back in 2013, HMDA could release final notification of just 224 lakes. It should be noted that even though the exercise began in 2013, the HMDA could only announce the final notification of 224 lakes. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/120223/himayatsagar-is-not-a-notified-water-body.html (13 Feb. 2023)
West Bengal NGT forms panel to curb Sundarbans degradation The principal bench of the NGT constituted a nine-member monitoring committee headed by the chief secretary of the Bengal government to prevent further environmental degradation of the entire Sundarbans and ensure compliance of environmental regulations. The principal bench observed there was neglect by the government resulting in continuous and irreversible damage to environment, wildlife, and biodiversity, in response to the case filed by green crusader Subhas Datta. The committee will also have regional officer, MOEF; chairman, SPCB; member secretary, state coastal zone management authority; 12 DMs; director of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve; and the state wetland authority. The chief secretary can include any other individual or institution. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/ngt-forms-panel-to-curb-sundarbans-degradation/articleshow/97787958.cms (10 Feb. 2023)
The river bank adjacent to Dakshin Durgapur Ferry Ghat, off Mousuni Island in Namkhana block, South 24 Parganas district, is lined with two-foot-long mangrove trees. Locals employed by the district administration are responsible for taking care of the trees, which were planted in 2020 and 2021 as part of the ‘Mission Mangrove’ initiative of the state government to protect the large area of Sundarbans from adverse effects of tropical cyclones. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/mangrove-mission-helps-sundarbans-residents-fight-storms-cyclones-and-unemployment-8439343/ (12 Feb. 2023)
Puducherry French Institute of Pondicherry announces wetland photo contest winners The French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) has announced the winners in four categories of its Wetland Photo Contest 2023 which was organised on the theme, ‘Revive and restore degraded wetlands’.
The grand prize for the 5th edition of the contest was won by Prasad P.K., from Chennai, for a photograph depicting the dire levels of pollution in a marshland outlying Chennai. The locales of the photographs ranged across Ramsar site bird sanctuaries, encroached marshes, farmlands, and polluted backwaters, beach-fronts and lakes. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/french-institute-of-pondicherry-announces-wetland-photo-contest-winners/article66467440.ece (03 Feb. 2023)
Report Earth has lost one-fifth of its wetlands since 1700 Previously, it was feared that as much as 50% of our wetlands might have been wiped out. However, the latest research suggests that the figure is actually closer to 21% – an area the size of India. The main reason for these global losses has been the drainage of wetlands for growing crops. Around half of the wetlands in Europe have gone, with the UK losing 75% of its original area. The US, central Asia, India, China, Japan and south-east Asia are also reported to have lost 50% of their original wetlands.
Whether the total global loss of wetlands is 20% or 50% doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that people stop looking at wetlands as wastelands, there for us to drain and turn into “useful” land. As the UN recently pointed out, an estimated 40% of Earth’s species live and breed in wetlands and a billion people depend on them for their livelihoods. Conserving and restoring these vital habitats is key to achieving a sustainable future. https://theconversation.com/earth-has-lost-one-fifth-of-its-wetlands-since-1700-but-most-could-still-be-saved-199362 (09 Feb. 2023)
Groundwater extraction worst in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana Groundwater depletion continues to be a cause for concern in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, as the three states are the only ones in India where groundwater extraction is more 100%. The nation average is 60%. The recently released Ground Water Resources Assessment for 2022 points the situation in Punjab being the most critical, with the agrarian state being the worst off in extracting underground water at 166% of its extractable groundwater resources.
In the entire country, extractable resources, as per 2022 report, have been assessed at 398.08 BCM and the extraction has been recorded at 239.16 BCM, while the recharge is 437.60 BCM. The extraction rate is 60.08%.
Despite the underground water turning scarcer, there is no perceptible change in paddy growing in these three states. Haryana and Rajasthan witnessed an increase in area under paddy in 2022 as compared to previous year. In Punjab, area under paddy was recorded at 31.33 lakh hectares (31.45 LH in 2021). In Haryana, it was 14.58 LH (13.64 LH). In Rajasthan, it was 2.28 LH (1.94 LH). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/groundwater-extraction-worst-in-pb-hry-close-3rd/articleshow/97834063.cms (12 Feb. 2023)
Punjab Water in 29% wells has uranium concentration Punjab is the worst affected state in India where 29% of the wells have been observed to have uranium concentration more than the limit of 30 parts per billion (ppb), reveals the Groundwater yearbook 2021-22. The report was released recently by the Central Groundwater Board.
Out of the total 329 samples that were analysed for uranium concentration, 96 were found to be beyond permissible limit of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in Punjab. In India, Punjab has the maximum value of uranium at 532 parts per billion (ppb). It was followed by Haryana with 14.4% samples while Uttar Pradesh with 9.2% samples that were found to be beyond permissible limit of BIS. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/water-in-29-wells-in-punjab-has-uranium-concentration-101676181913587.html (12 Feb. 2023)
Industry calls groundwater charges hefty, seeks rollback A day after the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA) announced the charges to be levied on the industry and other non-exempted users from February 1, several leading industry associations in Punjab demanded immediate rollback of the hefty cost imposed for extracting groundwater in the state.
The industry bodies said the charges were high and would make the local manufacturers uncompetitive in a highly cutthroat market. They have been urging the state government to hold prior consultation before putting any such additional burden on the industry. Calling the charges a dampener, Sudershan Jain, president of Knitwear and Apparel Association of Ludhiana, said that industry in Punjab is already burdened with high taxes. “We are already paying charges for use of effluent treatment plants (CETP). These groundwater charges are not justified at all,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/water-regulators-announcement-punjab-industry-calls-groundwater-charges-hefty-seeks-rollback-101675013505098.html (29 Jan. 2023)
Bengaluru Desilting work at Bellandur lake come to a halt The Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA)-appointed contractor is finding it tough to carry the silt to the designated quarry as residents of Suncity Apartments alongside the residents of Mylasandra and Vittasandra have staged a protest.
As on January 31, only 40% of desilting work at Bellandur Lake was completed; the target is to complete 60% of desilting work by end of February and complete the entire desilting work by May, 2023. The NGT had identified quarries to deposit the silt at Mylasandra and Vittasandra in Bengaluru South. The villagers are protesting the dumping of silt in the quarry as the roads are becoming non-motorable with heavy traffic of lorries. With no other option, a BDA engineer has approached the farmers to allow dumping silt in their fields to be used as manure. “As of now, no farmer is willing to allow us to dump the silt on their agriculture fields,’’ said the BDA engineer.
Around 80% desilting of Varthur Lake is completed as farmers cooperated with the BDA engineer by allowing dumping silt on their agricultural lands. Professor TV Ramachandra, a former member of NGT monitoring committee, said that people protesting, stopping dumping of silt or supporting the agitators would be held responsible for the delay of desilting Bellandur and Varthur lakes. “I will inform the NGT about stopping and seizing lorries if the dumping of silt at the quarry near Vittasandra is not allowed. I do not know why the villagers are stopping the dumping of silt while allowing the dumping of garbage,’’ the professor said. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/standsilt/articleshow/97666439.cms (07 Feb. 2023)
Kothnur Lake remains a lethal site for fish The walkers at Kothnur Lake in JP Nagar and the residents of the area have reported the first fish kill incident of 2023 in the city. The fresh episode was reported on Monday (Feb. 06) evening when walkers noticed a foul stench and dead fish on the surface of the water body. By Tuesday (Feb. 07) morning, locals had already spotted at least 25 big fish dead and floating.
Interestingly, this is the fourth episode of fish kill reported in the Kothnur Lake over the last year. The first incident was reported in January 2022, followed by a mass fish kill incident in April 2022 and another one in August 2022. Pachhapur added that though he had reached out to the BBMP on 13 occasions and to SPCB on 5 occasions in last one year with complaints of worsening water quality of the lake, no action was taken by the officials concerned. The complaints were raised on the issues of sewage entry to the wetland, untreated water entry from different inlets, and inadequate maintenance of the water body.
The BBMP officials have always passed the buck on to the BWSSB. He has also raised 4 complaints in the last 12 months with KSPCB. However, no solution has been provided so far. Moreover, he never got any response to his complaints. The authorities are least concerned about pollutants entering into Bengaluru lakes, he informed. Locals say that the continuous flow of sewage from surrounding areas has spoiled the water quality leading to these episodes at regular intervals. They further complain that the BBMP, which is the lake custodian, is not performing its duties. I have raised 4 complaints in the last 12 months with KSPCB. However, no solution has been provided so far. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/kothnur-lake-remains-a-lethal-site-for-fish/articleshow/97706861.cms (08 Feb. 2023)
Avalahalli Lake’s flora, fauna in need of care Spread across 23 acres, the beautiful Avalahalli Lake is native to several species of birds. However, at the same time, the condition of the water body has been deteriorating due to the entry of sewage. The Avalahalli Lake Committee members of Green Circle inspected the lake and pointed out that de-weeding, desilting, and cleaning of inlets and outlets must be done at the earliest. The members stressed on carrying out de-weeding in a scientific way by not affecting the aquatic plants.
Some non-indigenous trees are reportedly dying due to termite infestation. There is also a proposed hospital in the vicinity and the members said that it should not be allowed to be constructed in the buffer zone. This apart, electrical lights along the walking track would affect bird life and the ecosystem. The environmentalists suggested taking care of the needs of nocturnal species so that they do not move out and create an imbalance. It may also attract vandals to use the lake area for illegal activities, they added. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/avalahalli-lakes-flora-fauna-in-need-of-care/articleshow/97783163.cms (10 Feb. 2023)
BBMP’s waterway project exposes BWSSB’s shortcomings Despite investing hundreds of crores to replace underground drainage (UGD) lines and upgrade STPs, the BWSSB is unable to halt huge sewage flowing into the Koramangala Valley. This has exposed shortcomings in the agency’s first-ever attempt to transform a sewage-filled stormwater drain (SWD) into a green and clean waterway with various amenities. Persistent influx of sewage into the drain, specifically from Bellandur, Ejipura, Shantinagar and close to KR Market has also cast doubt on the completion of the Rs 180-crore project, which is progressing at a snail’s pace. The BBMP now estimates that the project will not be finished until July.
Despite lavishing Rs 125 crore to build a brand new UGD system near Ejipura and Shantinagar, the BWSSB is struggling to stem the sewage flow. Except near Shantinagar, the drain brims with silt, garbage and turbid water. Besides changing the UGD lines, the BWSSB has also splurged Rs 750 crore to upgrade a STP in the upstream of Bellandur and install new STPs along the 20-km Koramangala and Challaghatta (K&C) Valley. However, a BWSSB insider pointed out that a majority of these STPs are not performing to their full potential due to weak or non-existent UGD networks. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/bbmps-waterway-project-exposes-bwssb-s-shortcomings-1190120.html (11 Feb. 2023)
Tertiary-treated water fuses life into Nayandahalli lake Last year, civic body BBMP restored the Nayandahalli lake in the Vrishabhavathi Valley at a cost of around Rs 6 crore. Spread over 13.9 acre, it is one of the first lakes in the city which will receive tertiary-treated water. Last week, the BWSSB released 120 million litre of purified wastewater into Nayandahalli lake. BWSSB chief engineer (wastewater management) M Devaraju said, “The projected cost of pumping the water into the lake was Rs 2.5 crore as we had to lay down the pipes and electrical lines. Whenever water from the lake evaporates, we can fill it.” The BBMP has stopped the entry of water into the lake from a stormwater drain adjacent to the water body. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/lakes-of-bengaluru-tertiary-treated-water-fuses-life-into-nayandahalli-lake-8439253/ (13 Feb. 2023)
High levels of radioactive radon in groundwater Researchers who gathered in a training programme on “Health in a Changing Climate: Empowering health professionals” at the Indian Institute of Science brought to light the high radon content in groundwater used for drinking in some areas in the outskirts of Bengaluru. This finding has drawn increased attention to the study of radon in drinking water. As radon comes naturally from uranium, the researchers realised uranium content could be high too. They found high content of uranium in groundwater, in some part in the outskirts of Bengaluru, including Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Chintamani and Pavagada.
Interestingly while some officials at Groundwater Board, now retired had studied the presence of Radon in water, present working officials admitted that they have not taken up further studies on it. Srinivasan said attention was also being paid on how to dispose off waste water after treatment as it also has high content of uranium. He said studies on the wastewater of reverse osmosis (RO) units have found high content of Uranium and has been a matter of concern. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2023/feb/04/bengaluru-outskirts-have-high-levels-of-radioactive-radon-in-groundwater-2544203.html (06 Feb. 2023)
Chennai Groundwater has more heavy metals than WHO recommended levels The study on groundwater contamination conducted in pre and post monsoon periods in 2022 found that in groundwater samples collected from 45 locations in Greater Chennai city, presence of cadmium and nickel was 15 and 7 times higher than what is prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The study found that the presence of lead was high in 25 locations while that of nickel in higher volume was present in 13 locations. Another important factor that the study revealed was that lackluster Metrowater supply had led to increased household expenditure for water. People have to spend money to buy water purifiers due to contaminated groundwater while the poor supply of Metrowater leads to buying bottled and canned water from informal sources. The study also brought to light the fact that a poor man spends one out of every 10 rupees he earns on drinking water. This drops to 50 paise and 25 paise among the lower middle-income groups. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/chennai-groundwater-has-more-heavy-metals-who-recommended-levels-173039 (09 Feb. 2023)
Hyderabad 31 STPs to be ready by June The works related to the construction of 31 STPs with Rs.3,866.41 crore are underway at a brisk pace and the plan is to complete them by June this year. The works are being executed by Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) and among the 31 plants, Durgam Cheruvu STP will be made operational this month. “The Durgam Cheruvu STP is being constructed with 7 MLD capacity and over 95 per cent of works have been completed,” said a HMWS&SB official.
Presently, 1,950 MGD sewage is generated within Hyderabad Urban Agglomeration and among it, 1,650 MGD is produced in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area. Out of this 1,650 MGD of sewage, 772 million gallons of sewage is being treated through the existing 25 STPs in GHMC limits. The government has taken up the construction of 31 new STPs with Rs.3,866.41 crore to treat the remaining 878 MGD of sewage in the first phase and also be able to address future needs and be able to take care of the increase in sewerage till the year 2036. https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabad-31-stps-to-be-ready-by-june (08 Feb. 2023)
Nagpur Green Humour by Rohan Chakravarty:-
Futala Lake, in Nagpur was once the wintering ground for migratory waterbirds. Today it is marked by a concrete embankment, a musical fountain, and deforestation along its peripheries. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/green-humour-by-rohan-chakravarty-on-futala-lake-nagpur-inauguration/article66477338.ece (09 Feb. 2023)
Manali First eco-friendly STP to be constructed The sewerage and drinking water schemes worth Rs 369 crore have been approved to connect the town and seven panchayats in the suburbs of Manali City with the sewer system. This scheme will be built under the sequential batch reactor system. A tender worth about Rs 100 crore has been opened for laying the sewerage network in the first phase and the process is underway to award the job soon.
Jal Shakti Vibhag Executive Engineer Arun Sharma said an STP under the sequential batch reactor system of about 17 MLD capacity would be built in Gojra Bihal. He said this project being built with the latest technique would be completely eco-friendly and the possibility of pollution would be very less. The sequential batch reactor is a type of activated sludge process for the treatment of wastewater. Under this system, five processes take place in the same tank at different times. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/states-first-eco-friendly-stp-to-be-constructed-in-manali-478579 (11 Feb. 2023)
Gurugram No drain link, vacant plot turns into cesspool in this township Developed six years ago, BPTP Township in Sector 37D has no storm water drainage connectivity, leading to waste water accumulation inside the premises. The residents alleged, the facility management is disposing waste water onto a vacant plot in the township, turning it into a breeding ground for mosquitoes. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/in-gurugram-no-drain-link-vacant-plot-turns-into-cesspool-in-this-township/articleshow/97635179.cms (06 Feb. 2023)
Delhi High uranium, nitrates levels in groundwater Groundwater in many parts of Delhi was found to be brackish, the level of nitrates was high in Northeast Delhi, and heavy metals like uranium were found to be above permissible limits in some parts of the city, according to a report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
The Groundwater Yearbook for Delhi-2021-22, which was prepared in September last year with samples collected in May 2021, stated: “Chemical analysis of groundwater samples collected during May 2021 shows that nitrate content in groundwater is within the permissible limit of 45 mg/l in most of the state and the concentration in northeastern parts of Delhi shows higher nitrate content.”
The report said groundwater is fresh at all depths around the Ridge in Central, New Delhi, South and eastern part of Southwest districts and also in the Chhatarpur basin. Areas of Tagore Garden, Nizampur, Jharoda Kalan, and some parts of Shahdara show “exceptionally high EC (electrical conductivity) values” even in shallower depth, the report showed.
The report also said that the Aravalli ridge area is the main recharge zone for the national capital territory. On heavy metal analysis for samples collected in May 2021, the report said: “Out of 77 locations, the highest concentration of manganese i.e. 2.293 mg/l was recorded at Jagatpur.” High iron concentrations of more than 1 mg/litre were recorded at four locations – Rohini Sector-11, Nangli Rajapura, Bhalswa Lake and Burari. https://indianexpress.com/article/delhi/delhi-groundwater-uranium-nitrates-8431164/ (08 Feb. 2023)
How Delhi ate up its village commons Citing development needs, the government took over Delhi’s once thriving commons. Now, much of this land is neglected, walled off or encroached on by the rich. https://scroll.in/article/1043344/how-delhi-ate-up-its-village-commons (08 Feb. 2023)
Uttar Pradesh Over 20 students fall sick after drinking contaminated water More than 20 students of Government Engineering College fell ill allegedly after drinking water from a water cooler on the college premises in Mainpuri district. They were treated and seven were hospitalised after they complained of deteriorating health. In all, 21 students were taken for treatment and seven were admitted because of deteriorating condition. The sample of water in the cooler was taken for testing.https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/over-20-students-fall-sick-after-drinking-contaminated-water-in-mainpuri-101676060931288.html (11 Feb. 2023)
Kerala Government defends water tariff hike citing losses Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine said the hiking water tariff was imperative for the survival of Kerala Water Authority (KWA), as he defended the government action in the legislative assembly on Tuesday (Feb. 07). He explained that the tariff hike was made to cover the losses incurred by the KWA. The KWA has a gross loss of Rs 4911.42 crore. They owe Kerala State Electricity Board Rs 2567 crore. The KWA expects an additional revenue of Rs 400 crore with the new tariff hike. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2023/feb/07/kerala-government-defends-water-tariff-hike-citing-losses-2545224.html (07 Feb. 2023)
Andhra Pradesh Koya tribe’s ‘Vetti’ custom helps keep farm distress at bay In the close-knit Koya tribe, it is rare to see farmers being pushed into distress as there is immense support from the community to minimise the input cost and tide over seasonal challenges. “The Vetti custom has been part of our tribal life. It guarantees that help is available for farmers any time. We enjoy both the work and the feast,” Koya women Bhadramma and Tirupatamma of Ramannapalem tell The Hindu. Each family deputes a person for the Vetti task to help fellow villagers. Irrespective of gender, the entire village comes together for the Vetti meetings. The Koyas believe that the custom would help keep farm distress at bay. Shortage of farm labourers is a non-issue for them as the custom still thrives in the Koya tribe. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/in-andhra-pradesh-koya-tribes-vetti-custom-helps-keep-farm-distress-at-bay/article66474225.ece (06 Feb. 2023)
IIT Hyderabad sets up research unit for rain prediction A Raindrop Research Facility (RRF) to better predict rain was inaugurated at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IITH), on Feb 3, 2023. “This raindrop facility is one of its kind. It will help in understanding the processes involved in the formation of raindrops and its impact on environment,” said V K Saraswat, Niti Aayog member, who inaugurated it.
– Explaining the uniqueness of the Raindrop Research Facility , Kirti Sahu, lead RRF researcher and professor, department of chemical engineering, said, “One of the key limitations in rainfall modelling is the lack of fundamental knowledge of the microphysical processes in the actual atmospheric conditions. Using the novel experimental facility developed at IITH, we can mimic the dynamic atmospheric conditions from cloud to ground and estimate the shape and size distributions of raindrops at various altitudes.” He added, “We use cutting-edge machine learning-based digital in-line holography technology to predict the raindrop size distribution. This methodology is a far better choice than other measurement methods now in use.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/iith-sets-up-research-unit-for-rain-prediction/articleshow/97593212.cms (04 Feb. 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Shimla: just one day of snowfall so far Shimla has received only 6 cm of snow so far this winter – the season extends from November to March – triggering anxiety among environmentalists. This has been the second lowest snowfall recorded since 2008-09, when snowfall data began to be documented as separate from rain. Earlier data was recorded as precipitation, as per the IMD. In 2009-10, Shimla got a scant 1.8 cm of snow. According to the data compiled at local observatories, Shimla received the highest snowfall in 1989-90, when it recorded 262.2 cm. In 2005-06, the town did not receive any snowfall.
The fragile Himalayan area has been witnessing inconsistent snowfall and abrupt weather changes over the past decade. January 14 has been the only day of snowfall across 2022-23 in the State’s capital. It was also limited to Jakhu hill, the highest point of the town, while other areas in the city were deprived of the white cover. Over the past few years, Shimla has received the following amount of snow: 2010-11 (31.5 cm), 2011-12 (119.4 cm), 2012-13 (92.8 cm), 2013-14 (76 cm), 2014-15 (83.8 cm), 2015-16 (25 cm), 2016-17 (106.5 cm), 2017-18 (20.8 cm), 2018-19 (128.8 cm), 2019-20 (198.7 cm), 2020-21 (67 cm) and 2021-22 (161.7 cm).
The figures, experts say, show a gradual trend of inconsistent, abrupt, and decreasing snowfall in Shimla over the past two decades, which is a matter of concern in the ecologically fragile State. Surender Paul, director of the IMD in Shimla said precipitation itself – both snow and rain – has been decreasing, and seasons are showing a shift in pattern. “The winter months are shrinking and the snowfall in peak winter is reducing slightly. Earlier snowfall in the months of December, January, February, and even March was a regular feature in Shimla, but now it’s not the same,” he said.
He said that over the years the IMD has observed, “Climate inconsistency, invariability, and abruptness,” with intense cold or too-warm conditions. “This has resulted in extreme weather events of excess rain or snow at one point in time and little or no precipitation-snow in another season. These days we see it’s bright and sunny in Shimla, while two decades ago the winter months would mostly see overcast conditions,” he added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/shimla-losing-its-white-winter/article66485112.ece (08 Feb. 2023)
J&K; Ladakh Glaciers melting rapidly Scientific studies indicate that Kolahoi, the largest glacier of Kashmir valley’s Jhelum Basin, is retreating rapidly due to spurt rise in temperature triggered by global warming and extreme pollution. Thajiwas, Hoksar, Nehnar, Shishram, and glaciers around Harmukh are also retreating slowly. The Kolahoi Glacier is the main source of water for River Jhelum, which is considered to be the lifeline of Kashmir.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, prominent earth scientist Prof Shakil Romshoo said, “This year, glacier melting in Kashmir and Ladakh regions has been unprecedented. Since we began monitoring the glaciers in Kashmir and Zanskar Himalaya about 15 years ago, this year has seen the highest melting of glaciers, as also reported from the rest of the Himalaya and the Alps.”
In the mountainous Kashmir Himalayas, he said below-normal snowfall during last winter accompanied by high winter temperatures and followed by summer heat waves contributed significantly to high glacier melting that was seen last year.
“Kolahoi Glacier has lost almost 23 percent of its area since 1962 and has fragmented into smaller parts. Our recent study on the Kolahoi Glacier, based on the last 10 years’ observation, showed that the average mass balance of the glacier has increased recently. The glacier is losing mass at the rate of about 1.0 m water equivalent annually, which is significantly higher than the glaciers in the rest of the Himalayas. The mass loss of the glaciers is expected to exacerbate in future as a result of the projected climate change, and thus further diminishing the stream flow of the trans-boundary rivers emanating from the region,” he said.
Experts said unprecedented increase in temperature, deforestation, increasing human activity, especially around Kolhai Glacier and high levels of pollution caused by the emission of greenhouse gases by vehicles and cement plants are major reasons for retreating of Kolhai Glacier. With decreasing precipitation trends including snow over Kashmir, warmer temperatures in winter led to less accumulation of snow and more recession of glaciers in the region. The glacier has developed several crevasses and cracks over the years.
Irfan Rashid of the Department of Geoinformatics at the University of Kashmir (KU) also testified that the glaciers across different mountain ranges of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are showing signs of retreat (area and mass loss). “However, the retreat is more pronounced over Kashmir valley. Kolahoi, the largest glacier of Kashmir, also happens to be the fastest retreating one. Other prominent glaciers that include Thajiwas, Hoksar, Nehnar, Shishram and glaciers around Harmukh are also retreating in the prevailing warming scenario,” Rashid told Greater Kashmir.
Climate warming will not only affect the retreat patterns but might affect dependent sectors of the economy that include agriculture, hydropower, and tourism. The retreating glacier fronts result in formation of proglacial lakes (lakes associated with glacier snouts) dammed by loose moraine material. “These lakes often result in sudden and catastrophic glacial lake outburst floods often destroying the downstream infrastructure, resulting in fatalities and affecting livelihoods of mountain communities,” Rashid said. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/glaciers-in-kashmir-ladakh-melting-rapidly (13 Feb. 2023)
Study 15 Million People Are at Risk from Bursting Glacial Lakes At least 15 million people worldwide live in the flood paths of dangerous glacial lakes that can abruptly burst their banks and rush down mountainsides. They live within 50 kms of these lakes. A study published on Feb 7, 2023 in the journal Nature Communications is the latest warning about the threats posed by melting mountain ice. More than half of the people in the flood paths are concentrated in four countries: India (3 m), Pakistan (2 m), China (1 m) and Peru. The study highlights the fact that glacial flood risks don’t only depend on the number and size of an area’s glacial lakes. The area’s population, proximity of communities to the danger zone and levels of social vulnerability all matter as well.
– Recent studies have found that glaciers outside the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctic are likely losing close to 300 billion tons of ice each year. Those losses are accelerating over time. Meanwhile, research finds, glacial lakes are getting bigger. They’re increasing in area, volume and total numbers around the world. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/15-million-people-are-at-risk-from-bursting-glacial-lakes/ (08 Feb. 2023)
The number of glacial lakes has grown rapidly since 1990 as a result of climate change. These lakes can suddenly burst and create a fast-flowing GLOF that can spread over a large distance from the original site — more than 120 kilometres in some cases.
The researchers point to the relative lack of research on the danger from glacial lakes in the Andes, which runs along South America’s western side, and are among the world’s longest mountain ranges. They noted that further research is urgently needed to better understand the potential GLOF danger on a local level in this area due to the high number of people living in proximity to glacial lakes and their reduced capacity to cope with the impact of a GLOF. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2023/feb/08/three-million-people-in-india-at-risk-of-flooding-by-glacial-lakes-study-2545556.html (08 Feb. 2023)
IIT Bombay team creating model to study evolution of glacial lakes Prateek Gantayat, an independent researcher in India said he was working on improving the current model with a similar project being conducted on a glacial lake in Nepal. Gantayat said there are several limitations to developing accurate models to predict the evolution of glacial lakes. “There is no publicly available data on glacial melt rates in the Himalayan region. Although some researchers have collected this data, it is not published anywhere,” he said.
Apart from this, accurate modelling also requires data on the depth of the glacial lake. “Collecting this data is very challenging. It requires researchers to travel to the location to carry out SONAR surveys. Only a handful of lakes have such data available,” Gantayat said. SONAR (Sonic Navigation and Ranging) is a technique that uses sound waves to measure the depth of a water body. He noted that these surveys could possibly help predict disasters. https://theprint.in/india/iit-bombay-team-is-creating-a-model-to-study-evolution-of-glacial-lakes-predict-breaking-point/1357223/ (07 Feb. 2023)
Andhra Pradesh Are beaches heading towards disaster? Recently referring to a question from Rajya Sabha member G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences Jitendra Singh has said that about 294.89 kms or 28.7% of the coastline in Andhra Pradesh is under varying degrees of erosion. The Minister was referring to findings and surveys by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) and he had quoted that about 28.81 km of coastline in Visakhapatnam is prone to erosion. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/are-beaches-in-visakhapatnam-heading-towards-a-disaster/article66497467.ece (12 Feb. 2023)
Maharashtra Memory of scribe killed after refinery report For over two years, Shashikant Warishe had been documenting farmers’ voices against the refinery: about concerns linked to livelihood and environment, the protesters’ letters to ministers, the lack of a response, and alleged corruption. “He used to say that he would write what he would see; no matter who it was against. He was offered bribes to not write against the refinery but never accepted them,” said Amol Bole, president of the Barsu Solgaon Refinery Virodhi Sanghatana – an organisation protesting against the project. https://www.newslaundry.com/2023/02/11/the-only-journalist-who-cared-memory-of-scribe-killed-after-refinery-report-lingers-on-in-maharashtra (11 Feb. 2023)
Shashikant Warishe, a 48-year-old journalist from Rajapur area of Ratnagiri district died Tuesday (Feb. 07) after he was mowed down by a vehicle which was being driven by a person against whom Warishe had written an article Monday (Feb. 06). The accused was arrested immediately after the incident, the police said.
Warishe, who is survived by his elderly mother, wife and 19-year-old son, worked in a local Marathi newspaper and had been covering issues related to the setting up of the Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPCL) in Barsu which is being opposed by a section of locals. Local environmental activists and the villages have been protesting against the refinery project in Konkan region as they fear pollution and destruction of the region, which is largely dependent on agriculture and famed for the Alphonso mango. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/maharashtra-journalist-killed-article-criminal-pm-cm-8430155/lite/ (08 Feb. 2023)
Haryana 45% of CAMPA funds not utilised in 6 yrs The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), in response to a query filed by Kerala-based activist K Govindan Nampoothiry, stated Rs 1,282.65 crore was released by the ministry of forest and environment between 2017 and 2022 for afforestation but only Rs 579.39 crore was utilised. Targets for each year’s plantation fixed by the state were also not fulfilled. Interestingly, Haryana’s forest cover — 3.9% of the state’s total area — has seen very little change in the past 20 years. In 2005, the forest cover was recorded at 1,604 sq km and in 2021 it was 1,603 sq km, as per the FSI. Despite a low forest cover, environmentalists said, the government had not taken initiatives to improve the status.
According to CAMPA chairman Vivek Saxena, there is flexibility in CAMPA to use the funds. “CAMPA funds are accumulated over a period of 15 years. The Act was formulated in 2016 and that is the reason why the state has a lot of CAMPA funds. Earlier, CAMPA was only with MoEF, but after 2016 states were given 90% of the CAMPA funds while 10% remained with the MoEF. We are using the funds to protect the green cover as well as to increase the tree canopy,” he told TOI. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/45-of-compensatory-afforestation-funds-not-utilised-by-state-in-six-yrs/articleshow/97712917.cms (08 Feb. 2023)
Karnataka HC dismisses PIL against Isha Yoga Center The High Court on Thursday (Feb. 09) dismissed the PIL against the new Isha Yoga Center in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapura. The petitioner in January claimed that the construction of Isha Yoga Center is destroying the ecology of Nandi Hills which is 31kiometers away from the site. A bench headed by chief justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Ashok S Kinagi pulled up the petitioner for not coming to the court with clean hands. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/bengaluru-news/karnataka-hc-dismisses-pil-against-isha-yoga-center-in-chikkaballapura-101676015703613.html; https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/karnataka-high-court-dismissed-pil-against-construction-of-isha-yoga-centre-221150 (10 Feb. 2023)
Ladakh What’s driving the protests? After the Centre took charge in 2019, 10 MoUs have been signed in two years. Activist Sonam Wangchuk’s fast recently drew attention to the simmering anxiety. https://scroll.in/article/1043580/whats-driving-the-protests-against-the-centre-in-ladakh (12 Feb. 2023)
Report Study to help India meet 30×30 biodiversity conservation targets A team of scientists across academia, research, policy and conservation NGOs have conducted a prioritisation analysis to help India meet the 30×30 biodiversity conservation targets. The 30×30 biodiversity conservation refers to conserving biodiversity on 30% of the planet by the year 2030. In the analysis, scientists and conservation practitioners from 15 Indian and international institutions — including the city-based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) — explored how a landscape-based approach can be used to safeguard nature in a future-thinking India.
– The authors of the study, which was published in the international journal Nature Sustainability, used Spatial Prioritization Analysis incorporating 34 attributes encompassing important ecosystems, water- and carbon-related ecosystem services, and diversity of threatened species, together with 11 categories of human-induced threats. They said that their results are stark: a large proportion of landscapes of extremely high importance for nature and human well-being fall outside the bounds of current Protected Areas. “Ours is perhaps the first-ever nationwide assessment that integrates various aspects related to nature, and importantly, nature’s direct benefits to humans (ecosystem services) to guide biodiversity conservation. The landscapes we deem to be of high importance cover ~850,000 sq. km area across the country. We need ways to share spaces with biodiversity through new approaches that go beyond Protected Areas,” said Arjun Srivathsa, DST INSPIRE Fellow, NCBS and the lead author of the study.
– Jagdish Krishnaswamy, from IIHS and co-author of the study, said that across India, 338 districts are key for biodiversity and ecosystem services, and of these, 169 districts currently have optimal levels of both biodiversity and ecosystem services. “Maintaining these areas emerges as an important national goal. In 169 other districts, investment in ecological restoration or healing of land and water ecosystems will be required” said Mr. Krishnaswamy. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/team-of-scientists-conduct-study-to-help-india-meet-the-30×30-biodiversity-conservation-targets/article66481899.ece (07 Feb. 2023)
Commentary Forest carbon offsets are a tool, not a silver bullet by Robert Nasi and Pham Thu Thuy The Guardian recently published an article questioning the effectiveness of forest carbon offsets, immediately followed by another in Die Zeit about ‘phantom offsets.’ These criticisms are not without precedent: carbon offsetting is often presented either as a panacea or as corporate greenwashing that distracts from the difficult task of reducing actual greenhouse gas emissions. But as two leaders from CIFOR-ICRAF argue in a new commentary, “It is neither one nor the other. It is a tool. No particular policy instrument stands out as a ‘silver bullet,’ but improving the coherence and complementarity of the policy mix across government levels can enhance the effectiveness of policies.” https://news.mongabay.com/2023/02/forest-carbon-offsets-are-a-tool-not-a-silver-bullet-commentary/ (07 Feb. 2023)
India-Bangladesh Dam mooted to break Teesta logjam A policy maker in Bangladesh has said the nation doesn’t stand a chance of getting extra Teesta water from Bengal from a realistic point of view and his country should, instead, construct a reservoir or storage infrastructure on the river with financial support from India to conserve monsoon water. Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury, the chairman of the National River Conservation Commission in Bangladesh, said that the proposal was personal.
– River expert Ainun Nishat, however, has a different view. “Such a step will not provide a long-term solution. Rather, I think river experts from both the countries should sit together with an open mind; and try to find a solution which will benefit most people on the banks of the Teesta…. Let politics follow the scientific solution,” he observed. https://www.telegraphindia.com/west-bengal/dam-mooted-to-break-teesta-logjam/cid/1915456 (10 Feb. 2023)
IWT A case for handling discord maturely Sharat Sabhawal, India’s former High Commissioner to Pakistan: We have not utilised even our own share of water under the treaty, much less build the costly and time consuming infrastructure through difficult mountainous terrain to divert to our water starved plains Pakistan’s share from the rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. Without such infrastructure, a unilateral withdrawal by India will be a largely hollow move.
– The modifications in Indus Treaty that India may want: India would like greater clarity in the treaty provisions regarding the issues to be decided by the neutral expert or a COA. Second, the treaty requires India to share with Pakistan the technical parameters of the projects on western rivers that India intends to take up, at least six months before the commencement of such works to enable Pakistan to raise objections if any. However, Pakistan has been using this as a veto indefinitely. India would want greater clarity on this aspect. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/comment/a-case-for-handling-discord-maturely-1188961.html (07 Feb. 2023)
Syrian village submerged after quake-damaged dam collapses Syrians fled their flooded northwestern village when a dam collapsed Thursday (Feb. 09), an AFP correspondent reported, in the aftermath of a deadly quake that struck Turkiye and Syria this week. Dozens of families left their homes to seek refuge in nearby towns, as water partially submerged houses and trees in rebel-held Tloul. Streets, wheat and bean fields were completely flooded in the village near the Turkish border. “The mud dam collapsed because of the earthquake,” said Louan Hamadeh, one of the few villagers who remained despite the flooding. https://www.arabnews.com/node/2247981/middle-east (09 Feb. 2023)
Following the massive Feb 6, 2023 earthquake in Turkey-Syria, a dam in Syria first developed cracks and then gave way on Feb 9, 2023, flooding the small northwest Syrian town of Al-Tloul on the international border. https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/shielded-war-syria-town-emptied-out-by-earthquake-floods-2023-02-09/ (10 Feb. 2023)
Compiled by SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also see: DRP News Bulletin 06 Feb. 2023 & DRP News Bulletin 30 Jan 2023
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