DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 200223: US EPA starts reporting methane emissions from dams

(Feature Image:-Vyasi HEP dam reservoir on Yamuna river in Dehradun. Credit: Varsha Singh/Third Pole, Jan. 2022)

In a landmark move, United States Environment Protection Agency has started reporting methane emissions from dams and hydropower projects in its annual reporting to UN in 2022. It needs to go a step further and make it mandatory for all dams and hydropower projects to annually report such emissions on their websites. This will not only help clear the mistaken notion that hydropower projects are climate friendly, it will also help take right policy measures and project construction or decommissioning decisions. It will also lead to more scientific accounting of global warming causing emissions. It will also give the consumer right picture about GHG emissions from such projects when they look at options for electricity supply. There is a lot that India and rest of the world that needs to learn from this and implement on urgent basis as US EPA seems to be the first agency to do this.  

Dam emissions included in UN climate reporting For the first time, the U.S. government in 2022 included methane emissions from dams and reservoirs in its annual report of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions to the Inventory of Greenhouse Gases and Sinks required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Emissions from some reservoirs can even rival that of fossil fuel power plants. Yet, until now, there’s been no real accounting at the national or international level for these emissions, which fall under the category of “flooded lands.” “To our knowledge, the U.S. is the first country to include estimates of methane emissions from flooded lands in their greenhouse gas inventory,” the EPA press office said.

Tracking emissions from reservoirs is complicated and highly variable. Emissions can change at different times of the year or even day. They’re influenced by how the dam is managed, including fluctuations in the water level, as well as a host of environmental factors like water quality, depth, sediment, surface wind speed and temperature.

EPA researchers are working to improve how they calculate those emissions, and they’re also conducting a four-year study of CO2 and methane emissions from 108 randomly selected U.S. reservoirs. This aims to “inform a greater understanding of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from U.S. reservoirs, and the environmental factors that determine the rate of greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs,” according to the agency’s website.

If operators of hydroelectric dams are required to regularly report emissions, that would help agencies, nonprofits and the public better assess whether current dams should be relicensed or decommissioned — and whether new projects should be built. The result, the petitioners say, would be “better-informed climate policies and better-informed permitting decisions.” A win-win. The United States continuing to report dam emissions to the United Nations, and at home, would also send an important international signal. https://therevelator.org/dam-emissions-reporting/ (3 Feb 2023)


SANDRP Blog Sikkim HC Order on Public Safety at Hydropower projects Sikkim High Court Order on Dec 5, 2022 in the matter of death of two persons on May 23 2020 due to drowning following sudden release of water from a private hydropower project flags very important lessons that are relevant for all hydropower projects in India. https://sandrp.in/2023/02/18/sikkim-hc-order-on-public-safety-at-hydropower-projects/  (18 Feb. 2023)

Uttarakhand Opinion Rampant construction, including several hydropower projects, in the sensitive western Himalayan terrain will disturb the ecological balance of the fragile highlands, environmentalist Ravi Chopra said on Sunday (Feb. 12). Unanimous voice at Haridwar meeting: Govt responsible for pushing hydropower projects in fragile Himalayas that has lead to the Joshimath disaster. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/uncontrolled-constructions-to-affect-terrain-in-west-himalayas-101676227310330.html  (13 Feb. 2023)

गंगा की सबसे बड़ी सहायक नदी कहे जाने वाली अलकनंदा नदी श्रीनगर में नाले के रूप में बह रही है. यहां 3 किलोमीटर के दायरे में नदी पूरी तरह सूख चुकी है, जिसकी वजह से मकर संक्रांति के अवसर पर श्रीनगर में स्थित श्रीकोट घाट, किल्किलेश्वर घाट और शारदा घाट से श्रद्धालु बिना स्नान किए ही वापस लौट रहे हैं. तो वहीं लोगों में इस बात को लेकर रोष देखने को मिल रहा है. कमलेश्वर मंदिर के महंत आशुतोष पुरी ने कहा कि पिछले एक दशक से लोग अपने त्योहारों में स्नान और आचमन तक नहीं कर पा रहे है. अलकनंदा नदी में जहा-तहां गंदगी का अंबार लग गया है. समाजिक कार्यकर्ता भोपाल सिंह चौधरी का कहना है कि आज अलकनन्दा नदी में बने श्रीनगर जलविद्युत परियोजना के कारण ये हालात बने है, सिर्फ एक कंपनी को फायदा पहुंचाने के लिए अलकनंदा नदी का पानी रोक दिया गया, जिसके कारण आज लोग नदी में स्नान तक नहीं कर पा रहे हैं. उन्होंने सरकार से मांग की है कि परियोजना से 25 फीसदी पानी अलकनन्दा नदी में छोड़ा जाना चाहिए.  https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttarakhand/state/pauri-garhwal/devotees-could-not-take-a-holy-dip-in-alaknanda-river-on-makar-sankranti-in-srinagar/uttarakhand20230115153703215215482   (15 Jan. 2023)

अलकनंदा नदी पर बांध बनाये जाने और अत्यधिक पानी रोके जाने से अलकनंदा नदी एक बार फिर लगभग निर्जल हो गयी है. नदी का जलस्तर इतना कम हो गया है कि नदी नाले की तरह दिखाई दे रही है. हालात इतने बुरे हैं कि लोगों नदी में शवदाह करने में भी बड़ी दिक्कतों का सामना करना पड़ रहा है. कई बार तो अधजले शव नदी मेंछूट जाते हैं, जिनसे संक्रमण का खतरा भी बना रहता है. श्रीनगर में अलकनंदा नदी एक पतली धारा के रूप मे दिखाई पड़ रही है. ऐसे में नदी पूरी तरह सूखने की कगार पर पहुंच गयी है. इन दिनों सर्दियों का मौसम भी है. जिसके कारण नदी का जलस्तर वैसे भी सामान्य रूप से कम होता है. मगर इसके साथ-साथ श्रीनगर जल विद्युत परियोजना अलकनन्दा नदी का पानी बिजली बनाने के लिए रोके हुए है. जिसके कारण नदी में पानी ना के बराबर बह रहा है. श्रीकोट एवं श्रीनगर के मध्य जल संस्थान का पम्प लगेहुए हैं. हालत इस कदर खराब हो रहे हैं कि पंपों तक पानी नहीं पहुंच पा रहा है. https://www.etvbharat.com/hindi/uttarakhand/state/pauri-garhwal/alaknanda-river-flowing-as-a-drain-in-srinagar/uttarakhand20201203162928843  (03 Dec. 2020)

According to this report, due to the incomplete, abandoned tunnels of the cancelled Loharinag Pala hydropower project of NTPC in Uttarkashi district, there is land subsidence in four villages of Uttarakhand.

Himachal Pradesh ‘HEPs causing disasters in Sutlej basin’ In a memorandum to the chairperson of expert appraisal committee, river valley projects, MoEF&CC, activists of over 10 NGOs of Kinnaur district have alleged that hydropower dam projects are triggering landslides and land subsidence in already hazard-prone upper Satluj basin. Kinnaur is already bearing the brunt of 22 hydel projects of almost 4000 MW capacity (commissioned and under construction), which is far more than what can be harnessed from a geologically and ecologically sensitive area, they added.

“We have expressed our objections and resultant opposition to further construction of hydropower projects in the upper Satluj river basin. If projects like the 804 MW Jangi-Thopan, Yangthang Khab, Tidong II and Kashang II, III and IV are allowed to come up, we will see a situation worse than in Joshimath currently,” they said in the representation.

The written representation, which has been mailed to the committee chairperson, added that the process of cumulative impact assessment for the cascade of 153 hydropower projects in the Satluj river basin began over a decade ago. “As the expert committee is well aware, the north western Himalayan region, in which this river valley falls, has witnessed a spate of climate disasters in the past decade, causing loss of lives and property in the region. Unprecedented flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides in Himachal took more than 1,500 lives in the last five monsoons, according to an August 2022 report of the state’s disaster management authority,” it added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/we-will-see-a-situation-worse-than-in-joshimath/articleshow/97934320.cms  (15 Feb. 2023)

Water cess on hydro projects to vary from 10 to 50 paise According to a notification, hydroelectric project with head upto 30 meters will have to pay 10 paise per cubic meter cess; hydroelectric project with head above 30 meter and upto 60 meter will have to pay 25 paise per cubic meter cess; hydroelectric project with head above 60 meter to upto 90 meter will have to pay 35 paise per cubic meter cess and hydroelectric project with head above 90 meter will have to pay 50 paise per cubic meter cess. According to sources the state government intends to collect revenue of over Rs 1000 crores through this water cess. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/himachal-pradesh-water-cess-on-hydro-projects-to-vary-from-10-to-50-paise/articleshow/98047948.cms  (18 Feb. 2023)

Himachal Pradesh’s power projects now will have to pay a cess on the water that runs their turbines. Bringing this ordinance when the assembly is not in session, the government has also proposed a state commission to recover this levy. Within six months of notifying this ordinance, the state government will establish the State Commission for Water Cess on Hydropower Generation. Until then, the secretary of jal shakti department will do the commission’s job.

– The state’s governor promulgated the ordinance by his powers defined under clause (1) of Article 213 of the Constitution. The state’s water resources are now the government’s property, while any proprietary, riparian, or usage rights with any individual, group, company, corporation, society, or community are deemed to be terminated. The ordinance says that: “However, for interstate rivers and waters under the international treaty, the Himachal Pradesh government’s ownership rights shall be limited to non-consumptive use of water.”

– Those wanting to install a hydroelectricity plant in the state will have to submit a detailed sanctioned project report to the water cess commission along with a fee. The registered user will pay cess for the water drawn for hydropower generation. The existing project will must register anew within six months or pay a penalty, which will be enhanced in case of prolonged default. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/water-cess-imposed-on-hp-power-projects-recovery-panel-proposed/articleshow/97998024.cms  (17 Feb. 2023)

Jammu & Kashmir Administration in July 2022 approved the contentious 1,856 Mw Sawalkot hydroelectric project in Chenab valley, where several hydropower projects are operational and more are under construction. Improper environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports were prepared for this project, environmentalists alleged. In 2015, experts had pointed out many shortcomings in the open letter to the then SPCB. The following year, they asked SPCB to cancel public hearings for the project’s environmental clearance.

“I am unable to understand how the government gave a nod to the project when there were several lacunas in the EIA document?” said Faiz Bakshi, convener of the Environmental Policy Group (EPG), a Srinagar-based advocacy group for conservation of natural resources and one of the signatories of the letter. A fresh EIA should be conducted for the project planned over 1,000 hectares, taking into consideration the Joshimath incident, he suggested. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/mining/himalayan-plunder-experts-fear-frequent-landslides-floods-cloudbursts-in-j-k-following-joshimath-crisis-87658  (13 Feb. 2023)

Arunachal Pradesh Hydroelectric plans will effect downstream Assam too However, analysts fear that the Arunachal Hydro projects may heavily affect the downstream areas in Assam. There will be a massive change in the state’s economic and socio-cultural life, along with the river ecosystem, said Keshoba Krishna Chatradhara, an environmental activist from Assam.  “The rivers will carry huge amounts of debris and sediments downstream due to deforestation and earth cutting for the projects upstream, which will change the behaviour of the rivers,” Chatradhara said. “The regulation will determine the flow regime, which can result in floods, droughts and erosion.”

– Massive landslides have already been experienced in the project site Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project at Gerukamukh. Last year, in the monsoon, landslides heavily affected the diversion tunnels and the tunnel of the powerhouse collapsed. The regular landslides of different intensities are enough to prove that the rock structures in the hills of the project site are very fragile. Moreover, just about 10 kilometres east of the project site, near Jiadhal river, massive landslides have been occurring naturally for the past decade. These incidents indicate that the Eastern Himalayan part is more susceptible to landslides and the slightest tampering may cause huge devastation. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/urbanisation/himalayan-plunder-hydroelectric-plans-in-arunachal-will-effect-downstream-assam-too-87659  (13 Feb. 2023)

A team of central government officials, led by PMO Deputy Secretary Mangesh Ghildiyal, visited West Kameng district on Monday (Feb. 13) to inspect the Bichom dam area for infrastructure planning and developing a tourist circuit in and around the dam under the Pradham Mantri Gati Shakti master plan. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/02/14/central-team-inspects-bichom-dam-area/  (14 Feb. 2023)

The Project Affected People’s Forum (PAPF) has written to Chief Minister Pema Khandu and the forest principal secretary, seeking action for early forest clearance for the 3,097 mw Etalin hydroelectric project (HEP). The PAPF’s request comes after the MoEFC’s assistant inspector general wrote to the state government, seeking a revised proposal for the diversion of 1,165.66 hectares of forest land for construction of the project as per the Forest Advisory Committee recommendation. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/02/20/etalin-hep-affected-forum-seeks-early-clearance/  (20 Feb. 2023)

Opinion Hidden waters of the Himalayas are key to mitigating disasters Omair Ahmad In the Himalayas, much of the focus to date has been on the glaciers. As Pakistan, China, India, Nepal and Bhutan build hydropower projects, part of their calculation is that the overall amount of water will not decrease and may marginally increase for some years. What this does not factor in is what the retreat of glaciers and melting of permafrost will do to the stability of the Himalayan slopes. In response to the sinking of Joshimath, there has been a rare focus by the mainstream media on the long-ignored issue of human security in the Himalayas. Hopefully, this will drive a more engaged discussion on what is happening, and the dangers that the water tower of Asia faces. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/climate/opinion-the-hidden-waters-of-the-himalayas-are-key-to-mitigating-disasters/  (07 Feb. 2023)

Andhra Pradesh Greenko to invest $6 b into pumped storage, green hydrogen business in next 3 years The Greenko group, which is building the world’s largest pumped hydro storage facility—1,680 MW—at Pinnapuram village near Kurnool spending “upwards of a billion dollars” for the off stream project, plans three more such facilities, in the next three years. The electricity for pumping the water to the upper reservoir comes from Greenko’s 1,000 MW of solar and 550 MW of wind plants. The facility can supply peak-time electricity for 6 hours. A part of the power has been contracted to be sold at a tariff of ₹4.23 a kWhr.

– Two of these will be roughly of the same size and the third one-and-half times as big. Together, these will have a storage capacity of 50 GWhr. The Kurnool plant is expected to be commissioned by December 2023. A third of the power will be supplied to Greenko’s green hydrogen and green ammonia facility coming up at the port city of Kakinada, from where the green ammonia will be exported. 

– In all, Greenko will invest $6 billion into this business, the Chief Operating Officer of Greenko ZeroC Pvt Ltd, Gautam Reddy said. B C Tripathi, a Senior Advisor at Greenko, said that the group would produce 3 million tons per year of green hydrogen. The first shipment will happen by Dec 2025. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/greenko-to-invest-6-b-into-pumped-storage-green-hydrogen-business-in-next-3-years/article66506985.ece (14 Feb 2023)

Centre Govt proposes green finance support for PSHPs Union Ministry of Power has proposed that pump storage projects be supported through concessional climate finance including green bonds. The Ministry has issued draft guidelines for Pump Storage Projects, inviting comments from stakeholders in 15 days. The draft guidelines suggest that the Central govt decide a bench mark storage cost and projects whose levelised storage cost is within the benchmark cost may be supported by CPSU and others. It also suggests that the state govts should consider reimbursement of SGST  levied on hydropower projects. It also suggests that state govts exempt land acquisition for hydro projects from paying stamp duty and registration fees.

– The guidelines say that an appropriate commission should ensure monetization of services like spinning reserves, quick starting and shut downs, peaking supply, reactive support, grid stabilisation, ramping support. It added that the commission should notify peak and off peak tariffs for generation. PSP should be able to trade in the proposed day ahead market. Non usage of the capacity by the contracting party should allow the developer to sell it to others.

– The projects can be allotted based on nomination, competitive bidding on non-tariff basis and competitive bidding on tariff basis. Discarded mines can be used for hydro storage projects. Off stream projects (with one or both reservoirs off stream) may be treated differently in awarding of environment clearance, they may be exempted from EIA and may be treated as B2 category project. https://mercomindia.com/government-proposes-green-finance-pumped-storage-projects/  (16 Feb. 2023)

India’s Power Minister indulges in all kinds of unsupportable statements. Now he says a govt committee (report yet to be released) found that hydropower projects reduce landslides and increase greenery. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/govt-committee-has-found-hydro-power-projects-reduce-landslides-power-minister-r-k-singh/98038898  (18 Feb. 2023)

MoEF Key decisions in minutes of EAC meeting for River Valley Projects held on Jan 25, 2023:

1. Expansion of Krishna Koyna Lift Irrigation Project (CCA 109,127 Ha) at Village Jath, Dist Sangli & Solapur (Mah) by Dept of Irrigation, Govt of Mah – Terms of Reference: APPROVED.

2. Basania multi-purpose project (CCA 8780 & 100 MW) in 6343 Ha Village odhari, Tehsil Ghugari Dist Mandla (MP) by Narmada Valley Development Authority – Terms of Reference: Deferred as no alternative analysis to optimise use of forest land

3. Directions of the Hon’ble NGT in the matter of OA No. 212 along with OA No. 148 of 2021 regarding alleged illegal and unauthorized construction of Palamuru Rangareddy Lift

Irrigation Scheme (PR LIS) & Dindi Lift Irrigation Scheme (Dindi LIS): Sub Committee formed to visit the project and submit report as desired by NGT. http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/1402202389341085Final_MOM_40_EAC_River_25_Jan_23.pdf 






Relevant Decisions of FAC meeting held on Jan 27, 2023:1. Proposal for non-forestry use of 406.79 ha. of forest land in favour of HPPCL for the construction of Thana Plaun Hydro-Electric Project (191 MW), in Mandi & Jogindernagar forest Divisions, District Mandi, Himachal Pradesh: More Info Sought

2. Proposal for diversion of 75.92 ha. of forest land (near M.L. No.2396 of NMDC) in Donimalai (DM) forest Block, Sandur, Taluk, Ballari District for new Screening Plant-II, Two Tailing dams (I & II) and laying of Water pipeline: Approved https://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/21117122912141Approvedminutes.pdf 


Polavaram Project Work on lower cofferdam over The Andhra Pradesh state government has finally completed the works on the lower cofferdam at Polavaram project. The diaphragm wall was damaged in the Godavari flood a few years ago as the cofferdam was not completed before the river was in spate.

This is led to delay in project completion. Also, there were two major floods in two successive years (2019 and 2020) and damage to the key structure in the project-diaphragm wall. The lower cofferdam was constructed with 1,655 metres length and at 31.5 metres height. The height of the cofferdam was increased by one meter from original design of 30.5 meters to 31.5 meters in view of the massive floods received to Godavari river in 2022. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/andhra-pradesh-work-on-lower-cofferdam-at-polavaram-project-over/articleshow/98001671.cms  (17 Feb. 2023)

Rajasthan Parwan dam rehab: 16 villages unhappy with compensation Over 600 families living in 16 villages of Chhipabarod tehsil in Baran district that are going to be submerged under the Parwan Dam Project (PDP) are struggling to get revised compensation of their acquired land from the state. “Then CM Ashok Gehlot in 2012 fixed the compensation amount varying between Rs 2-4 lakh per bigha depending upon the quality of fertility of the land. The project got delayed due to several reasons leaving the villagers in a limbo. Now, in 2023 they are forcing them to take the compensation amount fixed in 2012, which is unjust. The only plea of the villagers is that they want a revised compensation package with a 10% increase in fixed-rate (in 2012) in 2023,” said Singhvi.

– The anomaly in deciding villages into categories like submerged and partly submerged is also adding to the woes of villagers. Kalyan Singh, a villager from Bhilendi village, which is declared partly submerged, told TOI, “Our village is surrounded by low-lying area and once the dam is operational, it will be surrounded with water up to 20 feet making it non-accessible. In such a situation, none of the 300 households will be able to reach the village. But the government has put our village in the partly submerged category and offered us compensation on the minimum scale that too in 2012. The amount will fetch us nothing.” An official requesting anonymity said a total of 47-50 villages will be impacted by Aug 2024 with 17 submerging completely. The dam is to provide water for drinking and irrigation to 1,871 villages of Kota, Jhalawar and Baran. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/parwan-dam-rehab-16-villages-unhappy-with-compensation/articleshow/97934185.cms  (15 Feb. 2023)

Mekedatu Project Vaiko condemns Karnataka’s dam plan MDMK general secretary Vaiko on Saturday (Feb. 18) condemned Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai’s announcement in the Budget that his government was committed in implementing the Mekedatu project across Cauvery river. In a statement here, he urged the Tamil Nadu government to prevent Karnataka from going ahead with its plan to construct the dam to provide water supply and generate electricity. “In the last 48 years, we have lost cultivation in 15.87 lakh hectares while Karnataka was able to increase its area of cultivation from 9.96 lakh hectares to 38.25 lakh hectares. If the Mekedatu project is allowed, the Cauvery delta will become a desert,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/vaiko-condemns-karnatakas-plan-to-construct-dam-at-mekedatu/article66526014.ece  (18 Feb. 2023)

Bhakra Dam Govt to protect interests of dam oustees: MLA Ghumarwin MLA Rajesh Dharmani has said that the state government is committed to protecting the interests of Bhakra Dam oustees in Bilaspur district. Dharmani, while addressing the Bhakra Dam Oustees’ Committee members, said the people of Bilaspur had given up their land and homes for the construction of the Bhakra dam. The dam provided power to several states as well as irrigation water for barren land of Rajasthan, he added. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/govt-to-protect-interests-of-dam-oustees-mla-481225  (19 Feb. 2023)

Bihar 3 dead, 21 hurt as vehicle plunges 70 feet-deep into dam At least three pilgrims, including two women, died and 21 got injured, when the vehicle carrying them fell into Karamchat dam from 70 feet on the Kaimur hills at Gaighat under Chenari police station area in Rohtas district on Friday (Feb. 17) morning. The driver, identified as Mithun Dubey (25), also died. They were on way to Gupta Dham on the Kaimur hills to offer prayer to Lord Shiva. Those seriously injured have been admitted to Sasaram Sadar hospital while others were taken to the primary health centre at Chenari, about 25km away from Sasaram.

Last week, the local forest department, following a report of landslide apprehension, banned vehicles on the stretch of the hills as hundreds of pilgrims from and outside the district were expected to visit the Lord Shiva cave during Mahashivaratri. But due to lack of adequate infrastructure and manpower at the check-post, the pilgrims forcibly crossed the barrier with their vehicle. The ill-fated vehicle was one of them. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/3-dead-21-hurt-as-vehicle-plunges-70-feet-deep-into-dam-in-rohtas-district/articleshow/98030595.cms  (18 Feb. 2023)


Bihar Strange direction from Patna HC to link Kosi-Mechi rivers The Patna High Court has directed the Centre and Bihar government to set up Kosi Development Authority and interlink Kosi and Mechi rivers to tackle annual floods often caused due to excess water discharged from Nepal.

– Responding to a PIL filed by a Gopalganj resident, Lal Babu Singh, a division bench of Patna High Court comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Karol (now elevated as a Supreme Court judge) and Justice Partha Sarthy in its order directed the authorities (the Centre): “Having due regard to the bilateral nature of the Kosi dam as also the extent of damages suffered by the state of Bihar …the constitution of the Kosi Development Authority with all relevant officials as members so as to ensure that the authority so constituted has the required wherewithal and understanding to carry out various tasks required by the precarious task of balancing diplomacy on one end as also ensuring the safety, liberty and development of the people impacted by it.”  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/patna/create-a-development-body-link-kosi-and-mechi-rivers-hc-to-centre-state-8439498/  (12 Feb. 2023)


Mahadayi Water Dispute While declining to stay the work on Karnataka Kalasa Banduri Project to divert Mahadayi water, the Supreme Court on Feb 13, 2023 asked Karnataka not to start work before getting all the statutory clearances. The Goa challenge to the Mahadayi tribunal award is still pending in SC. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/west/sc-order-on-mahadayi-protects-goas-interests-sawant-1190964.html  (14 Feb. 2023)

Krishna Water Dispute The meeting convened by the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) to finalise sharing of water reserves between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh remained deadlocked as irrigation officials from Andhra Pradesh did not turn up. As a result, the three-member committee adjourned the meeting with the next one likely to be held in the first week of next month. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/170223/issue-of-krishna-water-sharing-remains-deadlocked.html  (18 Feb. 2023)

Irrigation engineer-in-chief C Muralidhar wanted the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) to allow Telangana to utilise 141 tmcft water available in Krishna river. At a three-member committee meeting of the KRMB held here on Friday (Feb. 17), the ENC alleged that the Andhra Pradesh utilised more than its quota in Krishna river this year. He demanded the Board should allow Telangana to utilise 141 tmcft water available in the river this year.

The Telangana officials also urged the KRMB to convene the full board meeting shortly, as the new chairman Shiva Nandan Kumar assumed charge recently. The three-member committee is likely to meet again in the first week of March to discuss the water utilisation. The TS officials urged the Board to be strict in determining the water utilisation by two states. AP officials skipped the meeting. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2023/feb/18/telangana-wants-141-tmcft-of-krishna-waters-2548466.html  (18 Feb. 2023)

Since Andhra Pradesh Engineer-In-Chief Narayana Reddy could not attend the meeting, the three-member committee adjourned the meeting. The next meeting was likely to be held in the first week of March. https://telanganatoday.com/telangana-urges-krmb-to-calculate-krishna-water-usage-by-telugu-states  (17 Feb. 2023)

As things stood, the storage in Srisailam plummeted below the minimum draw down level with the two States vying with each other in using water for hydel generation and irrigation. Against the maximum storage of 215 tmc ft, the available water was now just 51 tmc ft. The minimum draw down level was supposed to be 834 ft for the full reservoir level of 885 ft but the level dropped to 830 ft on Friday (Feb. 17). The two States continued hydel generation to tap the 51 tmc ft water available raising concerns about drinking water if the level touched the dead storage. Last year, reverse pumping was resorted in summer from Nagarjunasagar to Srisailam to lift water for meeting drinking water requirement of Mahabubnagar. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/telangana-blames-ap-for-excessive-utilisation-of-water-in-krishna/article66522094.ece  (17 Feb. 2023)


Telangana SC stays NGT panel’s fine on irrigation project The Supreme Court on Feb 17 2023 granted a stay on the NGT order imposing a penalty of ₹920 crore on the Telangana government for allegedly violating environmental norms in the construction of Palamuru Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme (PRLIS) on the Krishna river at a cost of ₹35,200 crore. The SC ruled that the Telangana government could go ahead with the construction works on the irrigation project, but only for the drinking water component aimed at diverting 7.15 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of water from the Krishna river.

– On December 24, 2022, the NGT, which heard a batch of petitions filed by several farmers from Andhra Pradesh, ordered that the Telangana government pay ₹528 crore as environmental compensation for continuing the project works on PRLIS, besides ₹300 crore as penalty, apart from another ₹92 crore fine for violating environmental norms in Dindi project, which is part of the PRLIS.

– Counsel for Andhra Pradesh Jaideep Gupta argued before the SC that though only 7.15 tmc of water was required for drinking water component, the Telangana government was going ahead with irrigation works towards which it has finalised bids for lifting and pumping around 90 tmc water without environmental clearances. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/scstays-ngt-panel-s-fine-on-telangana-irrigation-project-101676751177231.html   (19 Feb. 2023)

Forest & wildlife violations aplenty in govt. projects Several violations of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and Forest Conservation Act 1980 have been noted by the National Board for Wildlife during its meeting held at the end of the year 2022. As per the minutes of the meeting uploaded recently, State government agencies, including the Panchayat Raj Department and Irrigation Department, have flouted the wildlife and forest norms at will, and with impunity.

Most glaring among the transgressions are the canal works for the Nilwai Medium Irrigation project in Mancherial district for which alienation of over 18.083 hectares (close to 45 acres) of land has been sought in the default eco-sensitive zone of the Pranahita Wildlife Sanctuary. A probe by the Inspector General of Forests, Integrated Regional Office, Hyderabad, revealed that the canal work had been almost completed in one patch, and partially completed in two patches. In case of another patch for which work was not initiated, the distributary canal was intended to cater to forest land encroached upon by villagers, which prompted the IGF to make recommendations against it.

These are not the isolated instances of state agencies going ahead with projects even before permissions are obtained. Flagship projects such as Mission Bhagiratha and Kaleshwaram too are not devoid of such violations. In all cases, the forest officials merely serve notices on user agencies, without any action to stop the works. Action against foresters is almost never taken, or even when taken, is limited to increment cut. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/forest-and-wildlife-violations-aplenty-in-govt-projects/article66508510.ece   (14 Feb. 2023)

Rajasthan Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) with an estimated cost of Rs. 37,247.12 crore (at 2014 price level) was submitted by the Government of Rajasthan in November, 2017 for techno-economic appraisal. As per the prevailing norms, the projects on inter-State rivers are required to be planned for 75% dependable yield. Appraisal of the project could not be completed as the project is planned on 50% dependable yield, which is not as per prevailing norms and also not acceptable to Government of Madhya Pradesh (MP), which is a co-basin State. The Central Water Commission, vide letters dated 15.04.2019, 29.02.2020 and in various meetings, has inter alia requested the Government of Rajasthan to revise the project planning at 75% dependability. However, the revised DPR based on 75% dependable yield has not been submitted by the Government of Rajasthan.

– The Task force on Interlinking of Rivers (TF-ILR) in November, 2019 decided to explore the integration of the ERCP with Parbati- Kalisindh-Chambal (PKC) Link Canal Project. Accordingly, National Water Development Agency (NWDA) prepared a draft Pre-Feasibility Report (PFR) for Parbati-Kuno-Sindh link project pertaining to the components in MP and proposing to integrate the same with ERCP to make it an inter-State interlinking project benefiting both MP and Rajasthan.

– The issue of integration of ERCP with PKC link has been deliberated with both the States at various platforms, with a view to bring them to a consensus with regard to particularly the issue related to the dependability criteria. Based on these deliberations, a proposal of the modified Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal (Modified PKC) link, incorporating the components as proposed by Government of MP in Kuno, Parbati and Kalisindh sub-basins along with components of ERCP corresponding to divertible water available at 75 percent dependability, has been framed. The Modified PKC link project duly integrated with the ERCP has subsequently been identified as a part of the NPP and the phase-I of the project as one of the priority link projects, as approved by the Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers (SCILR) in its 20th meeting held on December, 2022.https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1898806  (13 Feb. 2023)

Jharkhand Interesting case of an irrigation canal project on Ajoy River started in 1975 at a cost of Rs 10.34 Cr, to be completed in 5 years. The 117 km long canal has been built, but 47 years later and after spending over Rs 400 Cr, the canal has not irrigated any land.

https://www.bhaskar.com/local/jharkhand/jamtara/news/400-crore-rupees-were-spent-in-47-years-but-the-farmers-of-jamtara-did-not-get-the-canal-till-date-130927317.html  (14 Feb. 2023)


Sabarmati; Ahmedabad How beautification led to a polluted river “We don’t have a river anymore, just a reservoir that stinks all the time,” says Sunil Bhai, who runs a learning centre for slum children in Shankar Bhuvan in Ahmedabad. Shankar Bhuvan Basti is on the banks of the Sabarmati, which was recently declared the second most polluted river in India by the CPCB. With a BOD of 292 mg/l, it is next only to the Cooum in Tamil Nadu, which has a BOD of 345mg/l. The CPCB considers water under 3mg/l BOD as safe for bathing. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/how-beautification-led-to-a-polluted-sabramati/articleshow/97861595.cms  (13 Feb. 2023)

Gandhinagar ‘A green ghost capital city & hardly Gandhian’ When Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar was conceptualised, it seemed like an ideal place to live in with a vast expanse of greenery. The city has grown in all directions, ignoring the Gandhian principles of minimalism, sustainability, and liveability which are crucial for a city to grow organically. “The city layout itself has its back to the river, it is not attentive to the river at all. So, though there may have been an attempt to conserve the river with greenery around, we find that people of Gandhinagar do not really associate with the river’s presence,” says Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava, locally-based transdisciplinary learner of the built environment from sustainability and liveability perspectives. https://questionofcities.org/gandhinagar-is-a-green-ghost-capital-city-and-hardly-gandhian/  (15 Feb. 2023)

Mula-Mutha; Pune Riverfront project to be completed by 2025: Minister Rs 1,450 crore Mula-Mutha riverfront project will be completed by March 2025, Union Minister of Jalshakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said while inaugurating a two-day conference of River Cities Alliance (RCA) on Feb. 13 in Pune. The conference comes against the backdrop of the first Infrastructure Working Group meeting of G-20 held in Pune last month, where the PMC displayed river improvement and riverfront beautification project among others. The civic body has already undertaken 300 metre of riverfront development near Bund Garden as a part of development of riverfront of Mula and Mutha rivers. It is also working over a JICA funded project of nearly Rs 1,000 crore to keep the untreated sewage water away from the river. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/mula-mutha-riverfront-project-to-be-completed-by-2025-minister-8443134/  (14 Feb. 2023)

All members of the RCA, an initiative of the Union government, on Tuesday (Feb. 14) signed a declaration pledging to pursue holistic management of rivers flowing through cities while factoring in the environmental, economic and social aspects of the cities. The declaration was made during a two-day conference DHARA, which stands for Driving Holistic Action for Urban Rivers, during the RCA’s first anniversary which saw representatives of over 100 cities participating in the discussion to manage rivers. The event was organised by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) under the Union Housing and Urban Affairs ministry. Gwalior has been chosen as the location for the next RCA international meeting – DHARA 2024. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/two-day-conference-concludes-with-pledge-for-holistic-management-of-rivers-flowing-through-cities-8445341/  (15 Feb. 2023)

Doodhganga; Srinagar ‘Not a single house will be demolished for river restoration’ Mayor Srinagar, Junaid Azim Mattu on Monday (Feb. 13) held a detailed meeting with the residents and community elders of various localities and colonies on the stretch of Aloochi Bagh to Chattabal Doodh Ganga Rejuvenation and Restoration Project and assured the residents that no colonies will be displaced, nor any houses demolished – including the downtrodden colonies and slum settlements on this stretch. The meeting was also attended by Commissioner SMC and CEO Srinagar Smart City, Athar Aamir Khan, SE City Drainage in addition to senior officials and engineers. The Mayor assured the local residents that the Doodhganga Canal Restoration and Rejuvenation Project was a vital flood mitigation project that would first and foremost benefit the residents and colonies in Aloochi Bagh, Haft Chinar, Batamaloo and Chattabal. The Mayor said he has passed strict directions to ensure that no scope is left for misinterpretation of steps being taken for public and community welfare, such as the Doodhganga Rejuvenation and Restoration Project. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/city/not-a-single-house-will-be-demolished-for-doodh-ganga-restoration-mayor-srinagar  (15 Feb. 2023)


Study Shrinking rivers hit farming Research by IIT Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad, has revealed that the shrinking of transboundary rivers across the world because of disappearing tributaries and streams is leading to unpredictable climate and loss of agriculture productivity. The finding is part of the 18-month institute-funded research worth Rs 21 lakh, titled “Morphometric delineation of administrative boundaries and classification of threatened categories of watershed in Transboundary rivers”, conducted by a team of IIT (ISM) researchers, led by faculty in the department of environmental science and engineering, Anshumali along with projects assistants Rahul Kumar Pandey and Rahul Kumar Gupta, besides Sanchit Kumar, a senior research fellow of the institution. The research highlighted the need for the delineation of administrative boundaries of rivers along small watersheds as it plays a vital role in interlinking ecological and geological entities which are crucial for ensuring the continuous and pollution-free flow of rivers.

– “The team which conducted the study on 53.08km of Banki River, a tributary of the Ganga in Jharkhand, in this regard also found a decline of vegetation, water bodies and barren land of the river at the rate of 13.9 per cent,3.6 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively in the nearby areas of the river between 1991and 2001,” the spokesperson claimed. The study further noted that irreversible loss in the number of streams, length of the stream and drainage density resulted in the conversion of the 6th-order Banki River into a 4th-order river (degradation in flow and catchment). “The Banki watershed showed a significant decrease in the drainage density indicating spacing between streams of different orders between 1977 and 2021,” said Anshumali, adding that extreme morphometric changes led to the categorisation of Banki into a critically endangered category. https://www.telegraphindia.com/jharkhand/shrinking-rivers-hit-farming/cid/1915946  (12 Feb. 2023)

CAUVERY ONGC to drill for oil & gas in ultra deep waters in FY24 State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will start drilling in the ultra-deep waters of the Cauvery basin in the next financial year beginning April 2023.

Situated along India’s east coast, the Cauvery basin is spread over 1.5 lakh sqkm, which comprises on-land (25,000 sqkm), shallow offshore areas (30,000 sqkm) and deep water offshore areas (around 95,000 sqkm). For exploration and extraction of oil & gas from complex and ultra deep waters along the east and west coasts, ONGC has inked memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron. “The MoUs are for conducting joint and individual technical studies. We expect Exxon’s study to end by March and Chevron’s by December 2023. They will move ahead once these studies are over,” ONGC Director (Exploration) Sushma Rawat told businessline. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/ongc-to-drill-for-oil-gas-in-cauvery-ultra-deep-waters-in-fy24/article66528432.ece  (19 Feb. 2023)

Tamil Nadu ‘Encroachments affecting flow of Sanathkumar river’ Farmers and environmentalists urged the Dharmapuri administration to clear encroachments along the Sanathkumar river, saying the water flow to over a dozen lakes is getting disrupted, leading to the shrinking of the river. Sanathkumar river is one of the key rivers flowing through Dharmapuri and is crucial for the groundwater recharge in Nallampalli and parts of Palacode. This rain-fed river originates in the foothills of Vathalmalai and crosses over dozens of lakes and finally flows into the Thenpennai river. However, massive encroachments along the river basin have disrupted the flow of the river, causing the shrinkage. Environmentalists claimed that, if encroachments are not removed the Sanathkumar river would cease to exist.

A farmer from Dharmapuri K Palani said, “Last year Dharmapuri received over 1,050 mm of rainfall, which is nearly 200 mm over the average rainfall. While most of the PWD lakes in the district have been filled, Annasagaram lake is still dry and this is due to the encroachments. This encroachment is not only in the Municipality limit but also in villages like Ungaranahalli, Emakuttiyur, Oddapatti and other areas.” Municipality officials stated that to protect the Sanathkumar river a special scheme was proposed at a cost of Rs 50 lakh and is waiting for the approval of the state government. Repeated attempts to contact PWD (RDO) officials went in vain. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2023/feb/19/encroachments-affecting-flow-of-water-to-sanathkumar-river-through-dharmapuri-2548804.html  (19 Feb. 2023)

Jammu & Kashmir Lithium a long journey remains ahead An August 2022 report published in Nature Conservancy claimed that the proven technologies of lithium extraction through surface mining or brine evaporation would need hundreds of acres of land for extraction and could lead to the complete removal of native vegetation of the area. It also said that such projects are most likely to happen in rural areas and wild zones, affecting the local population and batting for sustainable mining methods for the metal.

According to experts, extracting lithium for use is a long process and India could face certain challenges such as low or no expertise in lithium extraction, shortage of processing units, and the potential impacts on local ecology since these reserves are in eco-sensitive zones.

The Reasi district in J&K, where the lithium deposits have been discovered, has rural households, vegetation and the Chenab river and tributaries near its hills. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/02/preliminary-exploration-of-lithium-in-india-offers-early-hope-but-a-long-journey-remains-ahead/  (16 Feb. 2023)

Road to Amarnath cave within 4-5 years: LG Manoj Sinha expressed confidence Thursday (Feb. 16) that a road project connecting the Amarnath cave shrine will be approved this year as the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation has completed its preliminary project report. He said the route would start from Pahalgam via Panjtarni and Sangam top to Baltal. “Government of India’s NHIDCL has made its preliminary report. I am assured that this year, the road (project) will be approved,” he said.

The LG said the project will be completed within four to five years. The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways has assigned the construction of the ‘Sheshnag Tunnel’ on the Khanabal-Baltal section of NH-501 to the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). The NHIDCL has invited Request for Proposals (RFP) and the bidding will start from February 13. The due date for bidding is February 20. https://kashmirobserver.net/2023/02/16/road-to-amarnath-cave-within-4-5-years-lg-sinha/  (16 Feb. 2023)

SUTLEJ Punjab Sufi singer Rabbi Shergill on Friday (Feb. 17) took to the stage on the banks of Sutlej River near Mattewara forest range in Ludhiana to raise environmental awareness. The performance by Shergill, his second such ever to raise environmental consciousness, saw the noted singer enthrall a crowd of hundreds with his popular numbers. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/pollution-rabbi-shergill-invest-punjab-environment-8452228/  (18 Feb. 2023)

Haryana Saraswati revival: MP seeks ₹100 cr central funds BJP MP from the Ambala Lok Sabha seat Rattan Lal Kataria has sought a grant of ₹100 crore from the Union government to help in the ongoing revival plan of the mythical Saraswati river in Haryana. The three-time MLA kept his demand for the package during the Budget session of the Parliament on Monday (Feb. 13). Kataria, a former Union minister, asked for the funds under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme of the Union ministry of tourism.

In January last year, the governments of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh signed an MoU to build a dam at Adi Badri aiming at rejuvenating the river and the region as a pilgrimage site. Deputy chairman of the board Dhooman Singh Kirmach said the formal process to build the dam is in advance stage and is expected to be complete by March 31, after which the construction will pave way. “The facility and four river fronts that we are creating in Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra and Kaithal will promote tourism in the region,” he added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/saraswati-river-revival-ambala-mp-rattan-lal-kataria-seeks-100-crore-central-funds-101676406088434.html  (15 Feb. 2023)

GANGA Uttarakhand MoEF issue OM on NH construction in 100-km range of border The MoEF&CC issued an office memorandum (OM) on February 6, 2023 over the construction of national highways. Certain environmental safeguards will now have to be followed during the construction and operation of all highway projects that were earlier exempt, according to the latest SOP. For example, if the national highway passes through a hilly area, a comprehensive study of landslides, slope strength, seismic activities in the project area, fragility of ecology, etc, will have to be conducted by a reputed technical institute.

Along with this, a landslide management plan will also have to be prepared. The plan will look into safeguarding the environment during the construction work, like what steps should be taken before and after the construction under the supervision of the experts.

Extensive arrangements will also be needed while cutting the mountains to prevent the falling of rocks and soil erosion, the SOP stated. The SOP includes other instructions like special precautions while drilling tunnels as well. Comprehensive studies will need to be done to understand the effect of boring holes into a structure and the effect on trees, plants and vegetation. It has to be ensured that there will be no loss of life, property or environment due to the highway project, the SOP stated. The debris and soil coming out due to construction will also have to be disposed of in a scientific manner. Also, it has to be ensured that the river, reservoir, etc will not be harmed due to the project. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/urbanisation/joshimath-sinking-national-highway-construction-in-100-km-range-of-border-now-has-riders-87713  (15 Feb. 2023)

The new SOPs issued by MoEF for roads in Border areas and LAC is neither mandatory nor comprehensive. It is unlikely to help, unless there is change in attitude among all concerned towards environment regulations being seen as obstacles. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/on-green-laws-need-a-change-in-attitudes-101676382033209.html  (14 Feb. 2023)

NMCG Mission-II approved with budgetary outlay of ₹22,500 cr till 2026 The government has approved Namami Gange Mission-II with a budgetary outlay of Rs.22,500 crore till 2026, including projects for existing liabilities of Rs.11,225 crore and new projects/interventions of ₹11,275 crore, minister of state for Jal Shakti, Bishweswar Tudu said on Monday (Feb. 13) in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha. Tudu added that a total of Rs.14,084.72 crore is released by the Centre to the NMCG, from FY 2014-15 till 31 January 2023. “Out of this, Rs.13,607.18 crore is released by NMCG to state governments, state missions for clean Ganga and other agencies for implementation of projects related to Ganga rejuvenation.”

“A total of 409 projects are taken up at an estimated cost of Rs. 32,912.40 crore till 31 December, 2022. Out of this, 232 projects are complete and made operational. Majority of the projects pertain to creation of sewage infrastructure as the untreated domestic/industrial wastewater is the main reason for pollution in the river,” the minister added.

Tudu said that 177 sewerage infrastructure projects are taken up with a cost of Rs. 26,673.06 crore for creation and rehabilitation of 5,269.87 MLD of STP capacity and laying of around 5,213.49 km sewerage network. “Among these, 99 sewerage projects are complete, resulting in creation and rehabilitation of 2,043.05 MLD of STP capacity and laying of 4,260.95 km sewerage network. In order to sustain the continued operation of the sewage treatment infrastructure, hybrid annuity-based PPP mode has also been adopted.” https://www.livemint.com/news/india/namami-gange-mission-ii-approved-with-budgetary-outlay-of-rs-22-500-cr-till-2026-11676289486061.html  (13 Feb. 2023)

Srinagar Alaknanda river facing lack of environmental flows downstream hydro power project, solid waste, untreated sewage polluting the river. https://twitter.com/PiramPrem/status/1626219668137717762?s=20  (16 Feb. 2023)

Varanasi Situation of Ganga at Manikarnika ghat, Kashi. (Dainik Jagran, 07 Feb. 2023)

Assi river shrinks into a nala As the parliamentary constituency of PM Modi, and the main host of the forthcoming G-20 meetings in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi’s strategic importance is escalating. Yet, there are now more than two dozen nalas (sewers) carrying the city’s waste into the Assi. Along with the Varuna that borders the city on its north, the Assi river is considered holy, and earlier used to join the Ganga near Assi Ghat. However, it was diverted and now joins the main river about a km earlier, due to a sewage-pumping system built in 2017.

At the UP Global Investors Summit, a MoU was signed between the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Denmark, committing to a ₹1,000 crore investment to clean up the Ganga and its tributaries.  A Smart River Laboratory will also be set up, but it is unclear if or how much time and money will be put into the Assi. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/as-varanasis-standing-swells-the-assi-river-shrinks-into-a-nala/article66500294.ece  (13 Feb. 2023)

Prayagraj Houseboat stays, boat rides on cards A proposal to invest ₹75 crore floated by an investor Tanmay Kishore Agarwal at the ongoing Uttar Pradesh Global Investors’ Summit-2023. “The ‘Ganga Dweep’ is envisioned as a river tourism project on an island in Gangapur and Dhuipur Kachhar areas of Lawayankala located about 21km downstream from the Prayagraj. A Vedic tent city on the island, houseboats, floating jetties, boats and catamarans will be part of the project to showcase the Ganga dolphins and life along the holy Ganga,” said investor Tanmay Kishore Agarwal of Daraganj locality of Prayagraj. The project would also provide direct employment to around 50 people,” said Agarwal, who has submitted the investment intent form online through the state government designated ‘Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency’ located in PICUP Bhawan in Lucknow.https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/houseboat-stays-boat-rides-on-cards-in-u-p-s-prayagraj-101676142567189.html  (12 Feb. 2023) Regional tourism officer, Prayagraj, Aparajita Singh said that her department has received a number of projects for cruises and other such initiatives. “We will look into the details of all the proposals and assess them on merit. Only those which meet the norms for not causing environmental pollution and adhere to set guidelines of state government regarding cuisine to serve and other aspects would be given a go ahead,” she said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/now-enjoy-a-stay-in-houseboats-on-ganga/articleshow/97833842.cms  (12 Feb. 2023) The waters of Lawayankala is home to Gangetic dolphins and the species is going to be showcased as one of the major attractions. The houseboats will also have facilities for overnight stays. The idea is to develop Lawayankala like Kashmir’s Dal Lake. Layawankala area has a number of river islands and the islands of Gangapur and Dhuipur Kachhar will be a part of the river tourism project called the Ganga Dweep. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/travel-news/lawayankala-in-prayagraj-to-soon-emerge-as-river-tourism-destination/articleshow/97858521.cms  (13 Feb. 2023)

West Bengal Transborder project to combat Adi Ganga pollution A joint dialogue is on the cards to stop pollution of the Adi Ganga, also known as Tolly’s Nullah and Buriganga rivers, located in Bengal and Bangladesh respectively.

An international water conference, recently held at Sylhet; Bangladesh, decided to explore the possibility of a pan-south Asia project to address the pollution of one key river in each of five countries — India, Bangladesh, Nepal, China and Malaysia. The conference was organised by the non-profit, Action Aid of Bangladesh. “The river chosen in Bangladesh is the Buriganga which flows beside Dhaka; while the Adi Ganga that flows through Kolkata, is the one chosen from India,” said professor Imtiaz Ahmed, an expert on south Asian water geopolitics who was a key figure at the conference. The other rivers chosen for the study are the Puyang in China, Bagmati in Nepal and the Klang in Malaysia.

Environment activist Subhas Datta who had filed the first case on the Adi Ganga pollution more than two decades ago said “nothing has happened on the ground despite several orders being passed by Calcutta High Court and the NGT. Recently the World Bank has cleared around Rs 700 crore for rejuvenation of the Adi Ganga under the NMCG. The green tribunal has directed that the work be completed within September 2025”. https://www.telegraphindia.com/my-kolkata/news/transborder-project-to-combating-adi-ganga-pollution/cid/1916272  (13 Feb. 2023)

Study Long-term groundwater storage declining in basin According to new research published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, groundwater storage levels have been declining by 2.6 centimetres per year in the Ganga Basin in India. The research is an international collaborative study involving scientists from IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Roorkee, IIT Bombay, University of Bergen, Norway, and CSIRO, Australia.

The estimates say that the groundwater storage decline is more prominent in Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi, with approximately 14 centimetres, 7.5 centimetres and 7.2 centimetres per year, respectively. The team of researchers used multiple approaches to reach the conclusion. They used three different methods to study the long-term decline in groundwater storage in the Ganga Basin in six Indian states. 

It is important to mention here that the Brahmaputra basin has shown more groundwater depletion in recent times than the Ganga basin. In a study by Abhijit Mukherjee and his colleague in 2019, it was revealed that groundwater depletion in Assam, which is in the Brahmaputra basin, was greater than 5 cubic kilometres per year. https://www.newsclick.in/Ganga-Basin-Long-term-Groundwater-Storage-Declining-Reveals-Study  (06 Feb. 2023)

YAMUNA NGT Gap in sewage generation, treatment to be remedied urgently  Haryana:- A bench led by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel noted the report submitted by the state of Haryana stated that there was a gap of 240 MLD between the generation and treatment of sewage. It directed the chief secretary of Haryana to monitor the issue and file a progress report by April 30.

Uttar Pradesh:- Noting that the state of Uttar Pradesh did not submit a report regarding the Yamuna pollution, the tribunal said it was a matter of “serious regret”. The chief secretary may ensure the filing of such a report… Further progress report…be filed by April 30, the bench said.

Delhi:- Noting that the report submitted by the Delhi government, the bench said there was a gap of 238 MGD in sewage treatment and the gap needed to be duly considered and addressed. The bench also noted the compliance status of STPs, according to which, out of 35 STPs, 23 were consistently non-compliant with the norms prescribed by the DPCC.

“CPCB is directed to monitor the performance of STPs in Delhi, Haryana and UP including the drains joining river Yamuna on a quarterly basis, the bench said, adding “the first report…as on Match 31, 2023, be filed by April 30. the bench said. It further said the issue of levying environmental compensation on the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana will be dealt with separately.

The tribunal also said the existing committee to deal with the issue of pollution in the Yamuna river could now deal with all related issues of Yamuna cleaning and sewage management, including the quality of water discharged in Yamuna from the STPs. The committee has to submit a progress report by April 30, it said. The matter has been posted for further proceedings on May 16. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/gap-in-sewage-generation-treatment-to-be-remedied-urgently-ngt-on-yamuna-123021700774_1.html  (17 Feb. 2023)

Delhi NGT directs govt to pay Rs 2,232-cr fine “On the pattern of compensation awarded in respect of other states (at the rate of Rs 2 crore per MLD of untreated sewage and Rs 300 per tonne of untreated legacy waste), compensation of Rs 3,132 crore is liable to be levied on the Delhi government — Rs 990 crore for liquid waste and Rs 2,142 crore for solid waste,” the bench, also comprising judicial members Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi along with expert members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad, said. Deducting the compensation for solid waste already levied (Rs 900 crore), the remaining amount of Rs 2,232 crore has to be paid by the city government on the “polluter pays” principle, the bench said. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/ngt-directs-delhi-government-to-pay-rs-2232-crore-fine-for-improper-management-of-solid-and-liquid-waste/articleshow/98014949.cms  (16 Feb. 2023)

Uttar Pradesh Ken, Betwa rivers facing threats from riverbed mining, pollution.

https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/banda/river-water-is-getting-poisoned-by-dirty-drains-banda-news-c-12-1-77644-2023-02-13  (13 Feb. 2023)


Karnataka Lack of funds, manpower hits conservation in protected areas Similarly, the Tungabhadra Otter Conservation Reserve near Hampi lacks manpower. Environmentalists say though dynamite fishing has been brought under control in the area, the threat for these endangered species continues due to habitat loss caused by sand/stone mining and depletion of food due to excess fishing. At Magadi lake in Gadag, where thousands of bar-headed geese migrate in winter, the department used to depute only one forest guard all these years. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/lack-of-funds-manpower-hits-conservation-in-karnatakas-protected-areas-1190619.html   (13 Feb. 2023)


Meghalaya World’s largest cavefish named after Pnar community The largest known cavefish from Meghalaya has been named after the state’s indigenous Pnar community. Roughly three years back, an international team of cave explorers from India and other countries encountered a new cavefish in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya and a return visit was made in January to gather more information on the fish. But they could not ascertain the fish species. Dan Harries of Grampian Speleological Group was one of the members of the expedition. After a detailed analyses and molecular analyses, scientists have found that the world’s largest cave fish from Meghalaya, is actually a new species, Neolissochilus pnar.

World’s largest cave fish Neolissochilus pnar. East Mojo

The world’s largest subterranean fish was discovered in 2019 and was tentatively identified as a troglomorphic form of the golden mahseer, Tor putitora. Detailed analyses of its morphometric and meristic data, and results from molecular analyses now reveal that it is a new species of the genus Neolissochilus, the sister taxon of Tor. The authors in the paper say they have formally described the new species as Neolissochilus pnar, honouring the tribal communities of East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya, from where it was discovered. ‘Pnar’, is the sub-tribal group of the Khasi people in Meghalaya.

The study says the description of the world’s largest subterranean fish Neolissochilus pnar is, therefore, likely to drive further explorations and understanding of this unique habitat and its remarkable fauna. https://www.eastmojo.com/meghalaya/2023/02/07/meghalaya-worlds-largest-cavefish-named-after-pnar-community/  (07 Feb. 2023)

Punjab First shrimp fair organized on Feb. 17 Shrimp farming began in the state in 2016-17, the mela is a state government push to create more awareness about it. Shrimp farming is done in five south-western districts of Muktsar, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Bathinda and Faridkot. South-west Punjab has saline underground water not fit for agriculture. Also, waterlogging is a perennial issue in this belt. Therefore, shrimp farming was proposed as a solution for farmers whose land was lying unutilised. The farming began in 2016-17 on a one-acre plot in Ratta Khera village of Muktsar district. According to Kokam Kaur, senior fisheries officer of Muktsar and Ferozepur, “As of 2022-23, a total of 1,212 acres of land in south-west Punjab is under shrimp farming, with a total production of 2,413 tonnes of shrimps.”

The government has claimed that shrimp farming is progressing well in the state. However, recently, a group of farmers met CM Bhagwant Mann — at the first government-farmer meeting held at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana — saying that more than 6000 acres of saline-water area that could be used for shrimp farming was lying unutilised, as farmers were unwilling to get into it. The reason for this is that the electricity connection of these fish farms are treated not as agricultural connections but commercial connections, resulting in hefty power bills. The farmers demanded that the government convert these into agriculture connections or at least provide subsidised electricity. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/punjabs-shrimp-farming-push-why-what-are-farmers-demands-8449744/  (17 Feb. 2023)

Jammu & Kashmir 6000 Trout fish killed in Pulwama. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJrIzrMBmO0  (18 Feb. 2023)


Punjab 60-year-old tries to stop mining, run over by tractor-trailer in Lalru One suspect was arrested and two more booked for the murder of a Barana village resident, who was run over by a tractor-trailer, after he tried to stop them from mining sand from the shamlat land in the wee hours of Friday (Feb. 17). The deceased, identified as Gurcharan Singh, in his early sixties, and his son Bhupinder tried to stop a tractor-trailer, which was taking sand from the shamlat land around 3.30 am.

Deceased Gurcharan Singh. The Tribune

The suspects got aggressive when Gurcharan tried to stop sand-laden tractor-trailer (from mining on shamlat land). He was run over, while others ran for cover and saved their lives. —Dr Darpan Ahluwalia, ASP, Dera Bassi. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/60-year-old-tries-to-stop-mining-run-over-by-tractor-trailer-in-lalru-480778  (18 Feb. 2023) The area where the incident had happened is notorious for illegal sand mining. The victim Gurcharan Singh was a known farmer leader. His father Sardara Singh too was a farmer leader and was the former block president of BKU (Lakhowal), Dera Bassi. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/farmer-union-leader-die-mowed-down-to-stop-illegal-sand-mining-8452246/  (18 Feb. 2023)

No mining in core river areas Govt has stopped giving permission for sand mining in the core area of water flow of all rivers. Confirming the development, Secretary (Mines and Geology) Gurkirat Kirpal Singh said, “It has been decided that desilting in the natural water flow area of the rivers will not be allowed.” Mining in many desilting sites had earlier been allowed following a Cabinet decision in 2018. In a departure from the decision, the department has now started confining mining only to areas which were a part of the original tenders before the Cabinet decision. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/no-mining-in-core-river-areas-in-punjab-479155  (13 Feb. 2023)

CM opens 17 new public sand mines Inaugurating 17 new manual, public mines from Mao Sahib falling in Phillaur CM Bhagwant Mann announced that sand would be available from here for just Rs 5.5 per cubic feet. “We had made 16 mines in six districts operational earlier. We have now opened 33 new mines. We have set a target to open 50 new mines soon in 14 districts and eventually we will have 150 total mines. We have already dug out 61,580 million tonnes of sand since the opening of these mines. We have an online app to monitor everything “, said Mann, accompanied by Raghav Chadha and minister Gurmeet S Meet Hayer. “We will not allow JCBs and other machines for these mines which will close in the evening. We have deployed security under PESCO here to check that no mining takes place after sunset”, he said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/punjab-cm-bhagwant-mann-opens-17-new-public-sand-mines-480711  (17 Feb. 2023)

Ludhiana district logged the second highest sale of sand at concessional rate from public mines opened by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann during the first three days of operations. Not only sand is now available at Rs 5.5 per cubic foot at the mines, prices in the open market have also reduced as a ripple effect. The development comes when the prices had been sky high for the past almost a year, dealers in construction material said.

Among other districts, Fazilka has been on the top spot in the state, with the maximum sale of 3,017.92 MT sand during the first three days, followed by Tarn Taran 1,055.22 MT, Ropar 382.64 MT and Nawanshahr had so far extracted 1,765.4 MT of sand from February 5 to 7. Sand was being sold at up to Rs 55 per cubic foot (coarse) and Rs 40 per cubic foot (white) till the opening of the public mines in the state. These exorbitant rates had been charged for almost a year due to an acute shortage of construction material, especially sand and gravel, following the closure of all mines since the Aam Aadmi Party-led government took over the reins of Punjab. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/ludhiana/public-sand-mines-prices-slashed-by-10-times-consumers-rejoice-478018  (09 Feb. 2023)

Former minister and senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia on Thursday (Feb. 16) demanded a CBI probe against the AAP government for allegedly indulging in a ‘Rs 400 crore scam in collection of royalty from vehicles carrying sand and gravel into the state besides reviving the contracts of two sand mining mafia kingpins associated with the previous Congress government one month after they had been terminated.’ https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/sad-demands-cbi-probe-into-400-crore-sand-mining-scam-of-aap-govt-8450044/  (18 Feb. 2023)

Bihar पटना के बाद मुजफ्फरपुर मेंबालू माफिया द्वारा खनन विभाग की छापेमारी टीम पर जानलेवा हमला किया गया। महिलाओं ने धारदार हथियार के बल पर टीम के सभी सदस्यों को एक घंटे तक बंधक बनाए रखा। इस दौरान पकड़े गए कई आरोपियों को छुड़ा लिया। बंधक छापेमार टीम के जिला पुलिस बल ने मौके पर पहुंच कर निकाला। मुजफ्फरपुर के बूढ़ी गंडक नदी मेंसंगमघाट पर बालूके अवैध खनन की सूचना पर छापेमारी टीम पहुंची थी। खनन विभाग की टीम को बालूमाफिया और उसके लोगों नेघेर लिया। हमलावरों नेटीम सेमारपीट और धक्का-मुक्की की। अवैध खनन कर रहेमजदूरों को टीम सेमुक्त कराकर भगा दिया। खनन विभाग की टीम को एक घंटे तक बंधक बनाकर रखा। https://www.livehindustan.com/bihar/story-terror-of-sand-mafia-in-bihar-raid-team-of-mining-department-attacked-in-muzaffarpur-taken-hostage-7699435.html  (30 Jan. 2023)

Uttarakhand पौड़ी जनपद के श्रीनगर क्षेत्र में बहने वाली अलकनंदा नदी में अवैध खनन का खेल चल रहा है। इस संबंध में जिलाधिकारी डॉ. आशीष चौहान के निर्देश पर अलकनंदा नदी में अवैध खनन करते हुए पकड़ी गई पोकलैंड मशीन के स्वामी राजेंद्र सिंह बिष्ट पर चार लाख रुपए का जुर्माना लगाया गया। https://devbhoomisamvad.com/garhwal/four-lakh-rupees-fine-imposed-for-illegal-mining-in-alaknanda-river-in-srinagar/  (19 Jan. 2023)

Haryana Mining despite ban, 11 vehicles seized The mining of riverbed sand, which is banned in the Mahendragarh district, is going on unabated even as the authorities impounded 11 vehicles involved in the illegal activity this month so far. Sources said most of the sand and gravel, extracted from the Krishnavati and Dohan rivers, were sold to people carrying out construction activity in nearby areas. Of the 11 impounded vehicles, nine were found loaded with sand. An official of the Mining Department said, “Since the riverbeds are spread over a long area in Nangal Choudhary and Narnaul subdivisions in the district, it is not possible to keep tabs on the entire area round the clock. Those involved in this illegal activity do so either early in the morning or late in the evening to evade action.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/mining-despite-ban-11-vehicles-seized-479478  (14 Feb. 2023)

NGT ropes in CS to check illegal mining in Gurugram  NGT has passed strictures against the Gurugram administration for failing to check illegal mining. It directed the Chief Secretary to take remedial measures, including providing necessary infrastructure in terms of manpower and equipment and plugging loopholes. The directions came in a case of illegal mining on private and panchayat land at Rithoj village in the district.

– “The mining officer seems to be helpless in controlling the menace. Now, a deputation of a mining guard with a local committee (formed by the village panchayat) may help in the prevention of the illegal activity,” the NGT said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/paralysis-of-administration-ngt-ropes-in-chief-secretary-to-check-illegal-mining-in-gurugram-478544  (11 Feb. 2023)

Tamil Nadu Quarry shut after collector’s sign on lease document found forged The Tirunelveli district registrar has cancelled the lease document of a stone quarry operating at Sathankulam in Thoothukudi after a probe recently revealed that the lessee identified as SK Franklin allegedly forged the signatures of Thoothukudi collector and Assistant Director of Mines on the quarry documents. TNIE has accessed both the original and the forged documents, and also the cancellation order. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2023/feb/19/quarry-shut-after-collectors-sign-on-lease-document-found-forgedin-thoothukudi-2548801.html  (19 Feb. 2023)

Opinion Environment laws need stronger implementation Shivkrit Rai Despite such long and detailed judgments passed by the Supreme Court as well as by different benches of the NGT, there seems to be a failure on part of State authorities to implement the law. Clearly, despite having a crystal-clear law, there seems to be a complete failure on behalf of Executive in implementing it. This calls for additional reforms such as imposing high punitive costs on state officials for blatant non-compliance with already existing rules and regulations.

The responsibility of appraising the mining projects for EC after the grant of auction lies with the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). An effective way to ensure that sand mining does not commence without a valid DSR is to hold SEIAA accountable for issuing EC’s in the absence of DSR. A possible solution is to establish a specialized compliance oversight committee for monitoring the preparation of the DSR as well as for auction and grant of Environmental Clearance (EC) to the project proponents. https://www.livelaw.in/columns/indias-environment-laws-need-stronger-implementation-221416  (13 Feb. 2023)

Centre Khanan Prahari Mobile app to Curb Illegal Mining Govt can initiate such step to check illegal mining of minor minerals. The objective of development and launching of this CMSMS application was to detect citizens’ participation against illegal mining by receipt of citizen’s complaints through mobile app – Khanan Prahari and to monitor and take action on any kind of illegal coal mining activity being carried out within the leasehold boundaries of any Coal Mining Project in the Coalfield Areas. It is a Mobile App of Ministry of Coal for Reporting Illegal Coal Mining and a tool for reporting any illegal coal mining incident through geo-tagged photographs as well as textual information by any citizen from the place of incidence. This information was given by Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Pralhad Joshi in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today (Feb. 13). https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1898772  (13 Feb. 2023)


Jammu & Kashmir Hokersar in last throes Talking to Greater Kashmir, noted environmentalist Ajaz Rasool said, “There has been a massive deterioration of the ecological status of Hokersar Wetland due to encroachment which has squeezed its area. Poor management strategies of the wetland have resulted in its siltation, uncontrolled growth, and proliferation of weeds in it and affected navigability in the water channels within it.” Ajaz, a hydraulic engineering expert, who had recently made a spot assessment of Hokersar, said major deterioration to its aquatic ecology occurred due to the highest recorded floods of 2014.

“The heavily silt laden floodwaters deposited enormous silt in the wetland along with other solid waste and compounded the already existing problems. A fatal blow to its hydrology occurred when the Irrigation and flood Control Department envisaged to mechanically dredge a deep channel across it through contract as part of their flood recovery work in phase-1,” he said.

The proposal for the dredging was studied and approved by the Departments of Water Resources and Environment. The approval had put conditions based on the Environmental Impact Study that the executive agency should ensure maintaining a water depth of 4 feet (1.2 m) in the Hokersar wetland at all times of execution of work as also before and after execution. Besides, there was a condition that the contractor would dispose of dredged material from the wetland area at least 2 km away from the boundary.

A large stretch of the wetland has been converted into built-up areas.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

“Unfortunately both these conditions were violated by the contractor despite the Irrigation and Flood Control Department and Wildlife Department putting him on notice to do that,” Ajaz said. The deep dredging of the channel across the wetland drained off its water, rendering a large area of it dry. The dredged material was disposed of within the wetland, raising the ground level further.

“These adverse impacts resulted in Hokersar losing its hydraulic function of absorbing high inflow waters to release the same during dry spells. The biotic complex physical, chemical, and biological functions also got affected and the quality of water entering did not improve during its retention or outflow as should have been in a wetland,” he said. Ajaz said that the visits by the experts of the Environment Policy Group (EPG) made the authorities implement execution of water regulatory gates at inlet and outlet of dredged channel in Hokersar to ensure maintaining required stipulated water depth. This work taken up through IFC in the phase 2 of the flood recovery projects is scheduled to be completed by this year. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/once-known-as-queen-of-wetlands-hokersar-in-last-throes  (16 Feb. 2023)

Uttar Pradesh After dewatering, Haiderpur wetland faces encroachment Wheat has been sown on a large area in the swampy part of the wetland along the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary, environmentalists and local birders said. This has also led to removal of typha grass, which provides habitat for the swamp deer, and also the elusive Indian Grassbird, which breeds in the wetland. “We now fear the entire wetland region including grassland and swamp is threatened by encroachments,” Birder Asish Loya added. Sub divisional magistrate of Jansath area, Abhishek Singh said he has received report of encroachments and is sending a team to verify the situation on ground.

– Shailendra Singh, director of Turtle Survival Alliance who works on turtle species in Haiderpur, said encroachment inside the wetland which is a part of Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctaury which is a protected area, is a very serious matter.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/after-dewatering-haiderpur-wetland-faces-encroachment-101676321040747-amp.html   (14 Feb. 2023)

Agricultural activity is being carried out on Ramsar Site Haiderpur wetland’s fertile stretches with impunity, so much so that tractors are seen ploughing land in this protected place. All this is happening right under the nose of the administrations of the two districts (Muzzafarnagar and Bijnor) and the UP irrigation department.

– Asked about it, divisional forest officer of Muzaffarnagar, Kanhaiya Patel said:: “This wetland is on the border of Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar and the land is divided between revenue departments of two districts, the UP irrigation department and the forest department. As of now, there is no clarity as to whose land is being used for cultivation.” Interestingly, the entire area falls under Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary but the forest division of Bijnor claims that “none of the land comes under the forest department’s jurisdiction”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/tractors-run-through-ravage-ramsar-site-in-uttar-pradesh/articleshow/97898081.cms  (14 Feb. 2023)

A joint team of forest department, district administration, and the irrigation department has launched a week-long drive to remove encroachment from Haiderpur Wetland inside the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Muzaffarnagar. Confirming the report, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Abhishek Kumar said, “Multiple tractors are being used to remove the encroachment from a large area. It will take at least a week for us to remove it. Lokesh M, the divisional commissioner of Saharanpur, has been physically monitoring the encroachment drive. Local officials have been directed to ensure that no encroachments take place inside the wetland in the future.”

The problem began in the second week of January when the irrigation department drained off water from the wetland into the Ganga. This is an annual exercise to maintain a level of 10,000 cusecs of water at the barrage in the downstream of the river at Narora. However, taking advantage of the water being drained into the Ganga, people from neighbouring villages gradually entered the wetland and started sowing wheat after destroying typha grass, the natural habitat of swamp deer. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/drive-launched-to-clear-haiderpur-wetland-of-encroachment-101676717913563.html  (18 Feb. 2023)

The wetlands in the basin, however, have been under severe pressure. Deforestation and erosion, shifting of wetlands to paddy fields, pressure due to developmental activities of industry or residential areas, pollution due to industrial- and domestic-waste dumping, overfishing, and the introduction of exotic plants and animal species have taken a toll on them. Some have degraded. Others have disappeared. In the end, conserving these small yet extremely crucial parts of India’s riverine systems may seem insignificant, but it could emerge as the biggest step in the rejuvenation of the Ganga. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/environment/why-namami-gange-success-lies-in-wetland-conservation-10063591.html  (12 Feb. 2023)

Tamil Nadu First biodiversity heritage site Arittapatti needs attention M. Mathivanan, T. Ganesh There are over 72 lakes, three check dams, and more than 100  sunais in the Arittapatti area composed of seven hillocks—Kalinjamalai, Vayuthupullamalai, Ramayimalai, Aaputtanmalai, Kazhugumalai, Thaenkoodumalai, and Kodangimalai—which are an integral part of the local people’s lives. Besides hosting a wide variety of wildlife, the hillocks are also steeped in history, with the Kudaivarai Koil, rockbeds of Jain monks, and Tamil Brahmi inscriptions dating back to 2nd century BCE found here.

When we talked to the local people, we got a sense that there is support as well as disgruntlement concerning the BHS tag. Veerammal (80), the panchayat president of Arittapatti, said: “The Kalinjamalai hillock is an integral part of our life. Ten years ago, the granite mafia tried to start mining here but our village stood united in protest against it. The then Madurai District Collector, U. Sagayam, visited the area and managed to save it. Since then we have been seeking protected status for the hillock, and we have got it now. I believe that the BHS status will save the hill from mining.”

But there are fears among the local pastoral communities that the government might stop them from using the land for activities like grazing, fishing, and herb and honey collection, which they have been doing for generations. Herding her goats on the hills, 60-something Nachiammal (name changed) said: “This hillock quenches our thirst, so we cannot allow mining here. We thank the government for protecting it. However, we should be continued to be allowed to graze our livestock.”

Along with Arittapatti, Vagaikulam wetland, a well-known heronry in Tenkasi district, was also proposed as a BHS. But the local community strongly opposed the proposal during the public hearing. They believed that the declaration would affect their existing rights. Not only the community but also the Public Works Department, which maintains the wetland, refused to issue a no-objection certificate to the proposed BHS on the grounds that it would give more power to the Forest Department in managing the lake.

The TNBB had not framed the rules for implementing the Biological Diversity Act until 2017. The government should be proactive in creating awareness among people and line departments before declaring an area as BHS. The myth of “no access”, which tends to make local people wary of conservation tags, needs to be dispelled so that communities cooperate with the government in protecting ecologically and historically sensitive zones. https://frontline.thehindu.com/environment/tamil-nadu-first-biodiversity-heritage-site-arittapatti-needs-your-attention/article66449484.ece  (09 Feb. 2023)

West Bengal  NGT orders razing of Sundarbans hotel NGT has ordered the demolition of a luxury hotel-cum-private tourist resort in Dulki village at Gosaba in South 24 Parganas for violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification in the Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area (CVCA) of the Sundarbans.

A petition was filed by the Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF), an organization working for small-scale fisherfolks of southern Bengal, before the Eastern Zonal Bench, Kolkata of the NGT highlighting the illegal construction of Hotel Sonar Bangla Sundarban. The hotel, which covers an area of approximately 8.5 acres along the Datta river surrounded by mangroves, is a part of the Hotel Sonar Bangla chain and offers luxury jungle accommodation. However, the construction of the hotel is in blatant violation of the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification envisaged by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, they alleged. The DMF members said the demolition of the hotel will serve as a deterrent against any future violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms and protect the critically vulnerable coastal ecology of the Sundarbans. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/ngt-orders-razing-of-sundarbans-hotel/articleshow/98076988.cms 19 Feb. 2023; https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/ngt-directs-authorities-to-demolish-hotel-constructed-in-sundarbans/article66528389.ece  (19 Feb. 2023)

A Wetlands Requiem? Das Gupta The East Kolkata Wetlands need protection and replication, where the community can stay on as a part of this ecosystem without compromising its livelihood. That will retain the ecological character of the wetlands, cater to the dietary needs of the city population and ensure the longevity of the ecosystem. These ecological functions must be replicated or else West Bengal will be forced to spend many more thousands of crores to keep its waters clean. https://www.thestatesman.com/opinion/a-wetlands-requiem-1503154521.html  (14 Feb. 2023)

CHANGING COASTLINES DOCUMENTARY: The documentary primarily focuses on the impact of climate change and developmental projects among small-scale fishers in the East Midnapore district of West Bengal.

In the East Midnapore district of West Bengal, hundreds of coastal villages inhabited by fish workers are facing threats to their livelihoods due to erosion and government development projects. Coastal villagers from Dadanpatrabar, Dakshin Purosottampur, and Baguran Jalpai in the district faced adverse effects of sea erosion which led to the loss of their land as well as livelihoods. Recent development projects have further impacted their plights. The 29.5-km-long coastal road which will connect the four sea beaches in Digha, Tajpur, Shankarpur, and Mandarmoni, not only threatens to disrupt the lives and livelihood of thousands of fishers but also the fragile coastal ecology of the region. As part of the Youth For The Coast Fellowship, Tanmoy Bhaduri produced the documentary with the support received from Delhi Forum in Dec 2022. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pV0fg89vftdRFcXQbVjX1L9kQfOvDRBn/view

Meghalaya Panel dedicated to Umiam lake mooted The Expert Committee constituted by the state government to suggest measures for restoration and protection of water bodies in the state, in its third meeting, has resolved to set up a sub-committee to formulate guidelines and setting up by-laws specifically needed for Umiam lake. https://theshillongtimes.com/2023/02/20/panel-dedicated-to-umiam-lake-mooted/  (20 Feb. 2023)

Madhya Pradesh State’s first wetland complex to come up in Dhar Over the next five to six years, the state’s first wetland complex will be built in Dhar. The project has already received Central department’s approval at a cost of Rs 40 crore. The project will protect and preserve Raja Bhoj’s Devi, Munj and Dhoop Sagar ponds’ water, biological and environmental resources. Administrative approval was granted in March 2022, and technical approval is expected soon. Following that, work on the five-year project will begin once Central funds are released. This project’s first phase is expected to begin by the end of 2023. https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/madhya-pradesh-states-first-wetland-complex-to-come-up-in-dhar  (04 Feb. 2023)


Uttarakhand Dig a pond in memory of a loved one On his mother’s birthday, Chamoli decided to honour his parents’ memory with an unusual gesture. He dug a tiny pond on his family field in Chamkot village in Uttarkashi district. “They will bless me for recharging the earth with water and rejuvenating my small field,” says Chamoli. He was inspired by Dwarika Prasad Semwal, an elderly Gandhian activist, who has been leading a pond digging campaign across Uttarakhand called Kal Ke Liye Jal (Water for Tomorrow) since 2021. “you must align people’s emotions with the change you seek to bring. The emotional connect is so important,” says Semwal. “Water, land and forest are organically related, intrinsic to survival and close to people’s hearts.” In three villages, Chamkot, Kulhad and Siror, he set up a Ganga Sakhi Sangathan (GSS).

Image source: Civil Society.

– The GSS, consisting of 70 members, took a pledge to dig small water pits. “In the old days kings, landlords and rich traders would dig ponds. The government pays zero attention to this so we the ordinary people have initiated this movement. Every member will dig 50 water pits or jalkunds, three feet wide and 1.5 feet deep in the memory of their ancestors or for a birthday or anniversary,” says Ramkumar Chamoli, pradhan of Chamkot village.

– Altogether 3,500 water pits have been dug in Chamkot village and its adjoining mixed forest of three sq. km. Last year the water mission spread to other parts of Uttarakhand. In Srikalkhal village of Uttarkashi district, 50 students of the Government Inter College dug four ponds to honour  their teacher, Suraksha Rawat. They even harvested rainwater from the school building terrace, directing it to the four ponds they had dug.“It was my birthday on August 12 and my students gave me this precious gift,” says Rawat. https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/agriculture/a-pond-mission-from-the-heart/  (14 Feb. 2023)

Report Exploring groundwater, encountering millets Dhaval Millets share the story of groundwater. They have always been there on the farmer’s fields, like various forms of subterranean water- soil moisture, water in aquifers, emerging in nearby streams etc. They are being consumed by millions of farming households- like the millions of groundwater sources owned by small farm holders, they both are touted to be resilient to droughts (by being productive and being available during hard years). And most importantly, both have managed to miss the eye of policymakers, the people in charge, alteast until till recently. 2022 was declared as the year of groundwater by the UN, it will take some time to understand how it contributed to take the groundwater agenda forward. The government of India has declared 2023 as the year for millets, let us see what it will mean for the millets going forward. https://groundwaterandbeyond.in/2023/02/15/exploring-groundwater-encountering-millets/  (15 Feb. 2023)

Sustainable groundwater development through solar irrigation Both over and under development of groundwater is limiting the adaptive capacity of Indian agriculture to climate change. Solar irrigation, expanding across India, may provide an opportunity to manage groundwater in both over and underexploited areas. Mohammad Faiz Alam and Alok Sikka https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/groundwater-solar-irrigation-climate-change-india-agriculture-electricity-environment-pollution-water-security-farming-51696  (14 Feb. 2023)


Punjab 140 check dams on rivulets to control groundwater depletion Confirming the development, Principal Secretary (Water Resources) Krishan Kumar said the project being executed under the MGNREGA had been drawn up for the dams and tree plantation in Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Bathinda, Sangrur, Ferozepur, Moga, Patiala, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Muktsar districts. The government has also tied up with the Israel Government to check groundwater depletion and its recharging. The senior officer said: “Till the time state farmers do not come out of paddy-wheat cycle, groundwater depletion can’t be prevented. A lot more needs to be done than just check dams.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/140-check-dams-on-rivulets-to-control-groundwater-depletion-481326  (20 Feb. 2023)

Govt mulling replicating Telangana model The CM said the need of the hour is to channelise canal water in Punjab for saving the groundwater for the coming generations. He said that the sole motive for examining this model is to check the depletion of groundwater levels. He also took an insightful view of new techniques for saving rapidly decreasing groundwater during his visit to dams and lauded this new and unique way to save the water on one hand and increase the level of groundwater on the other. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/punjab-mulling-replicating-telangana-model-for-groundwater-conservation-bhagwant-mann-101676557953361.html  (16 Feb. 2023) To check depleting ground water table in CM Bhagwant Mann on Feb 15, 2023 announced that the feasibility of replicating Telangana model for recharging the water table would be examined in Punjab. Mann, along with officers of the irrigation department recently visited Hyderabad to analyse the Telangana model of water conservation. He added that the Telangana government had constructed small dams in the villages for conserving ground water and as a result, ground water level had increased by up to two metres in the villages. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/will-replicate-telangana-model-for-recharging-water-table-says-mann/articleshow/97998195.cms  (17 Feb. 2023)

Andhra Pradesh Groundwater level declines due to excessive use The groundwater level in the State has decreased. Compared to last January, the average groundwater level in the State has decreased by 0.47 metres below ground level (MBGL) this January, indicating over-exploitation. The State recorded 6.85 MBGL this January, compared to 6.39 MBGL last January. The depletion of groundwater level was more pronounced in Coastal Andhra districts, while it was nearly the same as last year in Rayalaseema districts.

YV Malla Reddy, an expert in groundwater working with the Rural Development Trust (RDT), said, “Buoyed by the rise in the groundwater table, the extent of land under cultivation has been increased, more so that of the land under borewells. Owing to increased evaporation of water due to rise in daytime temperatures, even before the onset of summer, the need for more water to irrigate the standing Rabi crop, might have caused the overuse of groundwater,” he said.

Elaborating further, Malla Reddy said the daytime temperatures increased more in January itself compared to the past, but at the same time night temperatures decreased. The increasing gap between the minimum and maximum temperatures has resulted in more water evaporation. “Farmers are forced to draw more water to irrigate their crops due to speedy evaporation of water,” he reasoned.  The best solution to overcome the situation is the regulation of groundwater, which experts say is next to impossible, given the fact that farmers never agree to it.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2023/feb/19/groundwater-level-in-andhra-pradeshdeclines-by-047-mbgl-due-to-excessive-use-2548809.html  (19 Feb. 2023)


Mumbai Taps run dry in posh Goregaon east colony Members of the Mumbai Water Tanker Association told mid-day that the authorities have implemented a Central government guideline that was passed in September 2020. “We have been asked to strictly follow the guidelines laid out by the Central Ground Water Authority. But the guidelines are such that we cannot run our business if we follow it,” said Rajesh Thakur, secretary of the association.

– As per the rules, all users who abstract ground water and use it to supply water in bulk through private tankers will now mandatorily have to seek no-objection certificate (NOC) for ground water abstraction. These NOCs will be valid for 2 years. “The officials want us to pay in advance to seek NOC. But there are users who have paid in advance but the licence is yet to be issued. So, how will we carry out business?” said Jeetu Bhai Shah, vice-president of Mumbai Water Tanker Association. He said, “The users, who are abstracting groundwater and using it for bulk water supplies, need to submit documents with an application including proof of ownership of land measuring 200 sq metre or more on which abstraction structure is installed as well as proof of ownership/lease of tanker and groundwater quality report. How can one have 200-sq m land in a space-crunched city like Mumbai to extract water?” “Besides this, we have also been asked to use ‘potable water’ label on all tankers, fit abstraction structures with tamper-proof digital water flow meters with telemetry. These flow meters are to be calibrated by an authorised agency once a year. The guidelines also stipulate that the water shall be used for drinking or domestic purposes only, and that the tankers can be filled only within the premises,” he added.

– Shah said, “If we don’t follow the guidelines, we will be booked under Sections 379 (punishment for theft), 426 (punishment for mischief), 430 (mischief by injury to works of irrigation or by wrongfully diverting water) of the Indian Penal Code as well as certain provisions of the Maharashtra Groundwater Act, 2009.” In a bid to enforce implementation of the guidelines, Mumbai Commissioner of Police Vivek Phansalkar on February 3 ordered all police stations to check whether the tanker association was abiding by the order. mid-day has learnt that the cops from Mahim, Shivaji Park and other police stations held a meeting with the tanker association on February 6 and informed them about the order. The tanker association sought a day’s time and held an internal meeting wherein it was decided to stop their services, forcing thousands of residential as well as commercial buildings to face severe water crisis.

– Kiran Paigankar, a local, on Sunday said, “We don’t even know what is wrong, but we have not had any water since February 9. Today is the fourth day that we didn’t get a single drop of water. We have been purchasing water bottles and jars from the market, which is costing us a bomb.” “There are 38 societies in Royal Palms where nearly 15,000 residents live. Most of the buildings do not have BMC water connection. Even the buildings that have BMC connection are not getting adequate water,” said Asirvad Pareek, another resident. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/mumbai-taps-run-dry-in-posh-goregaon-east-colony-23270159  (13 Feb. 2023)

Mumbai Water Tanker Association Secretary Rajesh Thakur says stopping tankers will not just affect homes, but will hit hospitality industry and large projects like Coastal Road and Metro, too. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/mumbai-stoppage-of-water-tankers-could-cripple-city-23270160  (13 Feb. 2023)

Bengaluru BBMP failed to deposit Rs 2.40 cr environment compensation The SPCB has informed the NGT that BBMP has failed to deposit Rs 2.40 crore as environment compensation for violating municipal solid waste management rules. The SPCB in its status report submitted to the NGT regarding cleanliness of Yele Mallappa Chetty lake at Basavanapura village in K R Puram Hobli in Bengaluru Urban District, said that despite sending reminder to the BBMP and its  Mahadevapura Zonal office, the municipal body did not deposited the money. The NGT was hearing a petition related to pollution in the lake and sought an action taken report from the SPCB about the steps taken to its cleanliness. Earlier, the NGT had imposed Rs 15.36 crore environment compensation against the BBMP for the period from April 1st 2020 to March 31, 2022 including Rs 2.40 crore on Mahadevapura Zone for violation in following solid waste management rules. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/bbmp-failed-to-deposit-rs-240-cr-environment-compensation-kspcb-to-ngt-1191554.html  (15 Feb. 2023)

Residents worried about water quality of Benniganahalli lake Located along Old Madras Road, Benniganahalli lake, according to the local residents, has been restored four times in the last 20 years, including as recently as 2019. However, the lake is choking owing to a lack of maintenance and the inflow of untreated sewage into the water body.

Despite restoration, the Benniganahalli lake continues to receive untreated sewage from nearby areas. (Express photo by Jithendra M)

In 2019, civic body BBMP restored the lake at a cost of Rs 3 crore. The lake was cleared of weeds and garbage and was de-silted. Previously, the lake was cleaned by Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). The custody of the lake was handed over to the BBMP from the BDA in 2016. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/lakes-of-bengaluru-benniganahalli-water-quality-residents-worried-8453165/  (19 Feb. 2023)

Kochi Apathy of water authority leaves residents of West Kochi seething The apathy of Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has hit several West Kochi localities hard, with some residents forced to live without enough water for nearly a month. Residents of Chellanam, Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Mundamveli, Kumbalangi, Kumbalam, Vyttila and other areas in West Kochi have been facing acute water shortage as KWA failed to carry out proper and timely maintenance of pumps at the pumping stations.

The Facebook post by District Collector Renu Raj, about pressing water tankers into service to mitigate the scarcity, has not gone down well with residents. Mundamveli councillor K J Prakashan said several residents in the far reaches of the locality are struggling to get water. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2023/feb/17/apathy-of-water-authority-leaves-residents-of-west-kochi-seething-2548156.html  (17 Feb. 2023)

Coimbatore With the water level in Siruvani dam falling to 20 feet, the city is heading towards an acute water scarcity this summer. The Siruvani dam has a capacity of 50 feet. With the water level declining, the state water authority officials are worried about the water shortage in Coimbatore, which mainly receives water from the dam.

Notably, the Siruvani dam and its catchment area are located in Palakkad, Kerala, and due to a weak monsoon, the water level in the dam has come down. Coimbatore city requires 265 MLD of water per day, of which 101.40 MLD is from the Siruvani dam and with the storage coming down, the water received from the dam is reduced to 64.28 MLD. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2023-02-14-coimbatore-heading-to-water-scarcity-decline-in-siruveni-dam-water  (14 Feb. 2023)


Karnataka Probe deaths caused due to bad water: Lokayukta Taking cognisance of a report — 2 die, 34 falls ill after drinking contaminated water in Yadgir — published in TNIE on February 16, 2023, Karnataka Lokayukta Justice B S Patil has ordered a probe. “As per Sec 58 of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act, it is the basic function of the Gram Panchayat to maintain and monitor water supply schemes within the GP area.

However, as could be seen from the news item in TNIE, there was failure/negligence on the part of authorities concerned in providing safe drinking water to the villagers of Anupur. It is the duty and obligation of the GP to provide safe drinking water. Failure on the part of authorities to provide safe drinking water amounts to a violation of fundamental rights,” he said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2023/feb/18/probe-deaths-caused-due-to-bad-waterkarnataka-lokayukta-justice-2548445.html  (18 Feb. 2023)

Karnataka Lokayukta has taken suo motu cognisance of a water contamination case in which three persons died and more than 80 fell ill in Anapura village of Gurmitkal in Yadgir district. Lokayukta Justice BS Patil has directed officials to investigate the matter thoroughly and submit a report before March 1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/report-sought-on-water-contamination-case-in-yadgir/articleshow/98054797.cms  (19 Feb. 2023)


Kerala Latest water tariff hike hits hard residential flats. https://www.onmanorama.com/news/kerala/2023/02/18/lates-water-tariff-hike-hits-hard-residential-flats.html  (18 Feb. 2023)


Report India’s push to use sugar for fuel may create more problems than it solves Arun Kumar Singh, a 35-year-old sugarcane farmer in Nanglamal village, about half an hour’s drive from Meerut, is worried. In the 2021-’22 growing season, Singh’s cane harvest shrank by nearly 30% – normally he would expect a yield of 1.4 lakh kilograms from his five-hectare farm, but last year he got 1 lakh kg. Singh blames last year’s record-breaking heatwave, erratic monsoon and pest damage for his poor harvest. He said that high demand for sugarcane is leading farmers to plant new, more productive but less-resilient varieties. Gesturing at his fields, he said: “This variety was introduced only about eight years ago and has been demanding more water each year. Our region anyway has water shortages.”

– Across Uttar Pradesh – and indeed, the whole of India – sugarcane production is falling. At the same time, the central government wants sugar mills to produce more ethanol from excess sugarcane.

December 2022: Sundar Tomar, a farmer in Nanglamal, points to his recently harvested sugarcane. He says he needs more fertiliser and pesticide now to get the same yield. (Image: Cheena Kapoor/Third Pole)

– In the 2021-’22 sugar season, it produced 39.4 million metric tonnes. Around 26 million tonnes is consumed domestically every year, according to government data. Since 2019, India has dealt with its sugar surplus by exporting a large portion – more than 10 million tonnes last year – but ministers have said using it to produce ethanol is preferable as it means faster payments and better cashflow for mills. Blending ethanol with petrol is proposed as a way to use sugar not consumed domestically while achieving energy independence. Niti Aayog estimates that a 20-80 blend of ethanol and petrol will save the country at least $4 billion a year by 2025. Last year, India used 3.6 million tonnes (about 9%) of its sugar to make ethanol; in 2022-’23 it aims for this to reach 4.5-5 million tonnes.

– Currently, ethanol accounts for about 10% of the mix. By 2025-’26 the Indian government is targeting for this to reach 20%, presenting the policy as a win-win that “will help India strengthen its energy security, enable local enterprises and farmers to participate in the energy economy and reduce vehicular emissions”. To incentivise the setting up and expansion of sugar mills, since 2018 the government has offered a subsidy scheme, with financial assistance available on loans.

– Research into biofuels in the US last year found that the carbon intensity of ethanol may be 24% higher than petrol, due to emissions as a result of land-use change, increased fertiliser use and damage to ecosystems. Since 2001, 6.6 lakh hectares of land in India have been converted to sugarcane, according to government data.

– Sudhir Panwar, an agriculture scientist and former member of Uttar Pradesh’s state planning commission, said that as the price of sugarcane will increasingly be connected to petrol, “it will be termed an energy crop”. He said that this will “lead to large areas coming under mono-cropping, which deteriorates soil fertility and makes the crop more prone to pests. It will also lead to food insecurity owing to land and water resources moving towards the energy crop.”

– As well as farmers having to bear the cost of climate-induced losses, such as last year’s heatwave, Singh said that the variety at his farm, which has been planted across India, has needed more fertiliser and pesticide every year. “From spraying pesticide only once per crop cycle or sometimes not even that, I have come to spray seven times this year,” he said. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/energy/indias-push-to-use-sugar-for-ethanol-may-create-problems/  (09 Feb. 2023)

The sinking pulse of Green Revolution Arun Sinha When rainfall vanished for two years in the mid-1960s and India became a global feast for starvation photography, it had to beg a taunting America for shipments of wheat. A mortified State clutched at Norman Borlaug’s high-yielding wheat varieties as a boon. Soon, it also found high-yielding varieties of rice. But a desperate State made an epochal error there. It bet on Punjab, Haryana and west Uttar Pradesh to produce wheat and rice for the nation. These states were relatively suitable for wheat, but not rice. The best states for rice were West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Assam. However, the State, faced with the choice of a begging bowl or a boiling pot, would not care.

The three northern states were fostered and pampered for growing rice along with wheat because they had good irrigation, unlike the eastern states that were largely rainfed. As a consequence, rice has been corroding the Punjab-Haryana-western UP farms as rust does iron. Every sowing adds another coat of rust to the iron. The farms are rusting away. Both the State and the farmers have been making a wild noise over emaciation of farms, but neither of them have done anything transformatory. Chemicals have swallowed the soil’s innate nutrients. A crippled soil has now become their slave. The water for irrigation is depleting.

Agriculture in green revolution states cannot be saved unless a substantial part of rice cultivation is moved from there to eastern states. And that can be done only when the State builds robust ecosystems for alternative crops as it had done for rice and wheat. The State need not procure the harvests of alternative crops. Once there is a legally guaranteed MSP, farmers can sell their harvests to private players. And that can lead to higher private investment in storage, processing, marketing, transportation and exports of alternative crops. That can also prick a hole in the balloon of State expenditure on edible oils and pulses imports. https://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2023/feb/14/the-sinking-pulse-of-green-revolution-2547145.html  (14 Feb. 2023)


Most global models see El Niño on the horizon, but unsure of intensity The spring predictability barrier, the bugbear of weather forecasters during this time of the year, has continued to disrupt attempts by global models to arrive at an informed decision about a building El Niño in the tropical Pacific and its likely impact on weather during the ensuing Northern Hemisphere summer.

According to the US National Weather Services, there are increasing chances of an El Niño at longer forecast horizons (next four-six months) | Photo Credit: VIVEK PRAKASH/THBL

Models have a hard time making accurate forecasts during this period. The Climate Prediction Centre of the US National Weather Service put it succinctly; there are increasing chances of an El Niño at longer forecast horizons (next four-six) months, though uncertainty remains thanks to the lower forecast accuracy.  https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/most-global-models-see-el-ni%C3%B1o-on-the-horizon-but-unsure-of-intensity/article66520591.ece  (17 Feb. 2023)

M Rajeevan:- However, there is no one-to-one correspondence between El Niño and the Indian summer monsoon; the relationship is much more complex. The exact impact may vary depending on the strength and timing of the El Nino event as well as the transition phase. In addition, other important global influences from the Indian Ocean (Indian Ocean Dipole) and the Atlantic Ocean (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) also play an important role in modulating the Indian monsoon.

A more reliable forecast will be available by May/June, which will give us more accurate information on the intensity and spatial structure that will determine the impact on the Indian monsoon. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/opinion/el-nino-indian-monsoon-instead-of-panic-lets-be-vigilant-10107921.html  (17 Feb. 2023)

Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis has reportedly warned his cabinet colleagues about possibility of a drought situation on account of the El Niño and has advised them to come up with a comprehensive mitigation plan.

“However, this time we are coming off our third La Niña, during which the tropical Pacific has filled up with warm water, so any small trigger can give birth to an El Niño. The transition from a La Niña winter to an El Nino summer has caused some of the strongest monsoon deficits we’ve seen,” earth system scientist Raghu Murtugudde, visiting professor at IIT-Bombay and emeritus professor at the University of Maryland said. The forecast is likely to gain accuracy in summer, when the severity of the El Niño is also likely to become clearer, he added. https://theprint.in/india/el-nino-forecast-too-early-to-predict-its-effects-need-to-wait-and-watch-say-scientists/1379908/  (19 Feb. 2023)


उत्तराखंड में ऐसा पहली बार हुआ है जब मौसम विभाग ने फरवरी में अत्याधिक तापमान होने का यलो एलर्ट जारी किया है। मौसम विज्ञान केंद्र, देहरादून ने आशंका जताई है कि अगले कुछ दिन तापमान सामान्य से दस डिग्री तक ज्यादा रहेगा।  इस बार केदारनाथ को छोड़कर बाकी तीनों धामों में बर्फ नहीं है और स्थानीय लोगों के अनुसार, ऐसा पहली बार हुआ है। 

उत्तराखंड में मौजूद हिमालयी ग्लेशियर इस बार बेहद कम रिचार्ज हुए हैं। भागीरथी का उदगम जिस गोमुख ग्लेशियर से होता है, वहां औसतन हर साल औसतन 55 फीट तक हिमपात होता था। लेकिन इस बार 15 फीट से भी कम हुआ है। वहीं अलकनंदा का उदगम अलकापुरी ग्लेशियर में भी कम हिमपात हुआ है। वरिष्ठ ग्लेशियर वैज्ञानिक डीपी डोभाल बताते हैं कि उत्तराखंड में ही तीन हजार से ज्यादा ग्लेशियर है। इस बार कम हिमपात होने से कम रिचार्ज हुये हैं। जिससे गर्मियों में नदियों के जल स्तर पर भी फर्क पड़ेगा और नदियों के जल स्तर से जल विद्युत परियोजना में भी कम उत्पादन होता है। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/weather/heat-and-cold-wave/weather-like-may-in-february-in-the-mountains-of-uttarakhand-met-department-issued-yellow-alert-87745  (16 Feb. 2023)


Jammu & Kashmir Threats of  Glacial Lake Outburst Floods On the basis of extensive scientific studies, Dr Rashid said in Kashmir valley, two proglacial lakes in the upstream of Vishaw in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district are susceptible to GLOFs that might affect Asthal village downstream. He said Gya village located some 74 km from Leh experienced GLOFs moderate in August 2016 affecting built-up and agriculture downstream.

2 Proglacial lakes (L1 and L2) in upstream of Vishaw in Kulgam.Photos courtesy: Dr Irfan Rashid/GK

Another high-intensity GLOFs was experienced in Rumbak in Leh that destroyed three bridges and washed away several kilometers of roads in August 2021. “While the number of proglacial lakes are high in Ladakh, downstream areas in Kashmir valley are more vulnerable owing to high population and greater area under infrastructure,” he said.

In the mountainous Kashmir Himalaya, below-normal snowfall during last winter’s accompanied by high winter temperatures and summer heat waves contributed significantly to high glacier melting. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/climate-change-jk-ladakh-vulnerable-to-glacial-lake-outburst-floods  (14 Feb. 2023)

Ladakh, a fragile region, needs autonomy Ashish Kothari A constitutional status that enables locally determined pathways can help avoid the disastrous track that many other parts of India have tread. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/ladakh-a-fragile-region-needs-autonomy/article66508199.ece  (15 Feb. 2023)


Jammu & Kashmir Landslide in damages over dozen houses Over a dozen houses were damaged due to a massive landslide in Ramban district on Monday (Feb. 20). Affected families have been moved to safer locations. The landslide occurred in about 1 sqkm at Duksar Dalwa in Sangaldan of Gool Tehsil on the upper side of Ramban-Sangaldan Gool road, rendering 13 families homeless. SDM Gool Tanveer-ul-Majeed Wani said on Friday (Feb. 17), the land began to slide, also impacting a nearby cemetery, which led to the exhumation of a local resident’s mortal remains and their subsequent burial at a different location. The landslide has posed great danger to the 33KV Power line and a major Water pipeline. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/landslide-damages-over-dozen-houses-in-j-k-s-ramban-affected-families-shifted-101676866420327.html  (20 Feb. 2023) The incident comes barely a fortnight after 19 residential houses, a mosque and a religious school for girls developed cracks due to land sinking at Nai Basti village of Doda district. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/j-k/13-ramban-families-evacuated-as-landslide-hits-several-houses-481315  (20 Feb. 2023)

Landslide damages houses in Sonmarg A landslide that occurred in the Gagangeer area of Sonamarg, located in the Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir, has resulted in the blockage of the National Highway and the destruction of three to four houses, a police statement said. As per the police, the landslide caused damage to several houses, but fortunately, there have been no reported casualties or injuries.

Irshad Ahmed Raina, a resident of the area said, “We live here. Our home as you can see has been affected by this landslide. The incident happened last evening. The landslide severely damaged three to four houses. We had given an ultimatum and proved the cracks. We want the administration to estimate the loss and do the needful.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/srinagar/landslide-damages-houses-in-jammu-and-kashmirs-sonmarg-no-casualties-reported/articleshow/98079594.cms  (20 Feb. 2023)

Initial reports said that besides the damage to the structures, 10 sheep and five horses have been killed due to the landslide. Official sources said that the death toll of livestock is more than what has been initially reported. Local sources said that debris to the height of 20 feet is on the road and it will likely take more time to throw the road open for traffic. Locals said that landslide occurred due to the loosening of the soil as blasting is being done for the Z-Morh tunnel. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/kashmir/srinagar-sonmarg-road-blocked-due-to-massive-landslide  (20 Feb. 2023) Quoting an official the news agency KNO reported that the landslide at Rezin triggered by heavy rainfall caused massive damage to houses and a cowshed and also blocked the Leh highway. https://kashmirlife.net/leh-highway-blocked-several-houses-cowshed-damaged-in-landslide-in-sonamarg-310760/  (20 Feb. 2023)

IWP Getting a grip on landslides The National Landslide Risk Management Strategy document addresses all the components of landslide disaster risk reduction and management, such as hazard mapping, monitoring and early warning systems, awareness programs, capacity building and training, regulations and policies, stabilization and mitigation of landslides, etc. The document envisages specific recommendations for the concerned nodal agencies, ministries, departments, states, civil society organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders, to avert or reduce the impact of future landslide calamities. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/getting-grip-landslides  (18 Feb. 2023)


SC pulls up NGT for passing orders based on committee reports The Supreme Court Tuesday (Feb. 14) took strong exception to the manner in which many tribunals were passing orders based on reports of committees and experts, without actually hearing the parties to the case [M/S Jindal Saw Limited vs State of Rajasthan and anr]. A bench of Justices BR Gavai and CT Ravikumar pulled up the NGT for passing one such order without hearing the party to the case.

Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the appellant in a case challenging the NGT order, submitted that the ruling by NGT imposing a heavy fine was passed without hearing his client. Further, it was contended the tribunal had ignored findings that the damaging blasts in question were not attributable to the appellant-company.

“How are these tribunals functioning, passing orders based only on committee reports, without giving notice to parties? Total violation of principles of natural justice,” Justice Gavai remarked. Justice Ravikumar weighed in saying that there were several such instances with the matters ending up before the top court.

The Supreme Court had in April 2022 bemoaned the fact that every case before a lower court or tribunal was ending up before the top court. “We do not want to use the word, but legislature has been dumb in this regard. We don’t want to use the word but that is the word … every case ultimately ends up in this Court,” Justice KM Joseph had remarked. https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/supreme-court-pulls-up-ngt-tribunals-passing-orders-based-committee-reports-not-hearing-parties  (14 Feb. 2023)

MoEF minister Bhupender Yadav said on Tuesday (Feb. 14) in Kolkata that there is 11,000 billion tonnes of garbage accumulated in India which has an opportunity to be recycled.https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/11000-billion-tonnes-of-garbage-accumulated-in-india-environment-minister-bhupender-yadav/articleshow/97940170.cms  (15 Feb. 2023)


Indus Water Treaty Why is India clashing with Pakistan on landmark water deal?  New Delhi’s stance is that the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration) is not competent to consider the questions on the IWT, and that an alternative, expert-led process is needed.  The PCA has signaled it would issue a decision regarding its competence in June.

– “The trust deficit is so wide that I don’t think even a purely professional review of the treaty, in light of the serious overarching issues like climate change, is possible. Both sides should focus on building further from the treaty rather than dismantling what is already achieved and trying to rebuild something different,” political analyst Reyaz Ahmad said. https://www.dw.com/en/why-is-india-clashing-with-pakistan-on-landmark-water-deal/a-64684832  (13 Feb. 2023)

Brahma Chellaney: India’s renegotiation plan – which focuses on barring third parties from intervening in bilateral disputes under the IWT – appears to be a direct response to these developments. But, as India well knows, Pakistan is highly unlikely to agree to negotiations. This suggests that India’s recent notice to Pakistan is just its opening gambit.

– Such action (India’s withdarwal from IWT) would not cause river flows to Pakistan suddenly to stop, as India lacks the kind of hydro infrastructure this would require, and has no plans to change that. But it would enable India to pursue reasonable hydro projects without dam reservoirs, regardless of Pakistani objections. More fundamentally, it would sever a crucial diplomatic thread between India and Pakistan.

– For any treaty to survive, the advantages it confers on all parties must outweigh the duties and responsibilities it imposes. The IWT is nowhere near meeting that standard for India, which has so far accrued no tangible benefits from it. What has been called the “world’s most successful water treaty” has overwhelmingly benefited Pakistan, which has a powerful incentive to abandon its combative approach and embrace the compromise and cooperation needed to save it. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/india-pakistan-indus-waters-treaty-renegotiation-by-brahma-chellaney-2023-02  (16 Feb. 2023)

India-Bangladesh India will assist Bangladesh in importing hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan through the Indian Territory. However, India has asked Bangladesh to increase the capacity and network of transmission lines. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said these issues came up in the Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) meeting of the two countries in Dhaka on Feb 16 2023. https://www.tbsnews.net/world/south-asia/delhi-assist-hydropower-import-nepal-bhutan-thru-india-585722  (15 Feb. 2023)

Pakistan A culture of neglect Unfortunately, save Unesco’s frantic efforts to salvage the rain-wrecked site, there is little on the ground to reflect governmental resolve or corresponding urgency. Indeed, it is painful to see Mohenjo-Daro — a metropolis of the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley Civilisation — in a pitiable state, beset with a host of threats, both natural and anthropocentric. It is grappling with two mortal dangers: waterlogging and salinity. A fast-changing climate is a new entrant to this list of menaces, particularly in the wake of last year’s monsoons, which lashed it with a record-breaking 1,400 millimetres of rain. Luckily, the devastating rains affected its outer protective layers, leaving the main structure intact, though much sapped.

Behind the site’s miraculous survival lies its own ancient drainage and water management system, which saved its precincts from complete inundation even as the adjacent city of Larkana was drowning in four feet of water. Considering the official neglect and the perennial dearth of financial, human, and technical resources, it is a miracle that Mohenjo-Daro has outlived a 1964 forecast made by the conservationist H.J. Plenderleith: “If nothing is done to preserve them, all the excavations will crumble in the next 20 to 30 years.” https://www.dawn.com/news/1737431/a-culture-of-neglect  (16 Feb. 2023)


USA Study shows benefits to local economies decline with improvements in transmission capabilities Large-scale infrastructure projects can profoundly affect local economies, but assessing these effects is challenging. In a new study, a researcher evaluated all large-scale hydroelectric dams built in the United States in the 20th century. He found that dams constructed in the first half of the century spurred short- and long-term growth, while dams constructed in the second half affected growth only modestly. The study, by Edson Severnini, associate professor of economics and public policy at Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), appears in The Economic Journal.

– Dams constructed before 1950 spurred short-run local growth, in large part thanks to what Severnini terms a cheap local power advantage. They also spurred local economic development in the subsequent two to three decades, increasing local population density more than 50% over 50 years, on average.

– Dams constructed after 1950 had only modest effects on growth, even in the long run, Severnini found. This is when a rapid evolution of the electricity-providing infrastructure was under way, which led to a sharp decline in the cheap local power advantage. https://techxplore.com/news/2023-02-hydroelectric-benefits-local-economies-decline.html  (16 Feb. 2023)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 13 Feb. 2023 & DRP News Bulletin 06 Feb. 2023  

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

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