This week the weekly DRP bulletin brings news of increasing threats from changing climate in inherently disaster prone Himalayas. The news come from Ladakh in the NW to Nagaland in the NE, and includes Uttarakhand among others. The news is about retreating glaciers, increasing threats of Glacial Lake Outburst floods and landslides. The news also notes that factors like indiscriminate infrastructure development and lack of drainage are worsening the disaster potential of the Himalayan states. Most importantly, implicitly more than explicitly, the news reports highlight complete inattention of the regulators to these increasing threats and risks in inherently vulnerable Himalayas while considering new infrastructure projects like Highways, Railways, Hydropower projects, Dams and urbanization and also in terms of disaster management laws and practices.
It underlines that the threats and risks in the Himalayan states is also increasing due to changing rainfall patterns due to changing climate. This trinity of inherent vulnerability, changing climate and inattention to the risks of indiscriminate infrastructure projects is clearly very very dangerous, but there is little hope for any immediate change. One clear indication is the handling of the Joshimath disaster, a clear case of how not to handle communication as Dave Petley has noted. The Prime Minister’s office is sitting on the report submitted by the investigating agencies several weeks ago. Why should this report be a secret or will we get a negotiated report?
DISASTERS: Uttarakhand 77 new glacial lakes add to Kumaon flood risk A field study conducted by a professor of Kumaun University has revealed the presence of 77 new glacial lakes in the Gori Ganga region of the Kumaon Himalayas. The water bodies, situated at an elevation of over 3,500 metres, formed over three decades — between 1990 and 2020 — due to shrinking of snow-covered areas in the Gori Ganga region in Munsiyari in the border district of Pithoragarh. The Gori Ganga region mainly consists of Milam, Gonkha, Ralam, Lwan and Martoli glaciers. The largest glacial lake, with a 2.7-km diameter, was found in Gonkha. ‘Glacial Gori Ganga watershed saw severe flash floods over 10 years’. Any future geological activities can cause the lake to burst, triggering a flash flood,” the study mentioned.
– “It was found that by the year 2020, a total of 77 glacier lakes (with diameters over 50 metres) were formed. Of these, the maximum, 36 lakes, are present in Milam, seven lakes in Gonkha, 25 in Ralam, three in Lwan and six lakes in Mertoli glacier. Both — the diameter of glacier lakes and formation of new lakes — are increasing rapidly in all glacier regions,” Parihar said. The study was conducted using GIS (geographic information system), remote sensing and satellite photographs, which was followed by “ground truthing” (data collection at the site after field trips). Due to frequent floods, several villages in Gori Ganga valley area have been declared disaster-prone by the district administration.
– In November 2021 the Uttarakhand disaster management department had inked an MoU with the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) to carry out a satellite-based mountain hazard assessment, including monitoring of glacial lakes, glaciers and landslides zones and avalanche-prone areas in Uttarakhand. As per an estimate of the disaster management department, there are over 1,000 glaciers and over 1,200 small and big glacial lakes in the higher mountainous region of Uttarakhand. When glacial lakes burst, they create a Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF), a stream of fast-moving ice, water and debris that can quickly destroy settlements downstream. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/77-new-glacial-lakes-add-to-kumaon-flood-risk/articleshow/98347815.cms (02 March 2023)
Ladakh 2 retreating glaciers alarm scientists Durung-Drung and Pensilungpa, two glaciers in Ladakh, have retreated by 7.8 sq km out of area of 72 sq km (lost 11% area, retreated 13 m per year) and 1.5 sq km out of total area of 16 sq km (lost about 9% area, retreated by 5.6 m per year) respectively from 1971 to 2019. Alarmed scientists hold climate change and several other factors (Snout geometry, glacier size, elevation range, slope, aspect, debris cover as well as the presence of supra and proglacial lakes) responsible for the melting of glaciers that feed Zanskar river through two tributaries. While DDG is the origin of Doda, the largest tributary of Zanskar, PG is the origin of Suru river. The glaciers are located in Pensi-La pass at an elevation of 14,612 feet in Ladakh.
– Scientists are also surprised by the fact that despite being at an aerial distance of just 1km, the glaciers are retreating at different paces. The findings were authored by scientists of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) Manish Metha, Vinit Kumar, Pankaj Kunmar and Kalachand Sain. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/two-retreating-ladakh-glaciers-alarm-scientists/articleshow/98419742.cms (05 March 2023)
LANDSLIDES: Uttarakhand ‘Poor water drainage main cause of Karnaprayag cracks’ A multi-institutional team formed by Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA) that is conducting geological and geotechnical investigation of areas witnessing subsidence in Karnaprayag has found that “poor disposal of surface runoff water aggravated the subsidence problem in some parts of the town, making the ground unstable”. A senior member of the team said on Tuesday, “A part of Karnaprayag is facing subsidence issues. And the primary cause, prima facie, appears to be poor drainage system of surface runoff water. Similar problems exist in other hill towns of Uttarakhand as well.”
Meanwhile, affected families in Karnaprayag have demanded a rehabilitation package similar to the one announced for Joshimath residents. “We should be treated at par with residents of Joshimath. We have lost our houses too,” said Gabbar Singh Rawat, resident of Bahuguna Nagar. Demanding prefabricated structures, Hemant Prashad Sati, a retired supply inspector, added, “How can there be different yardsticks for two places facing the same problem? Why should the affected families in Karnaprayag live in shelter homes?” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-poor-water-drainage-main-cause-of-karnaprayag-cracks/articleshow/98320339.cms (01 March 2023)
Study Extreme rains weakening slopes of Mussoorie, Nainital Extreme rainfall triggered by climate change has led to slope instability and a spurt in landslides in the popular hill townships of Mussoorie and Nainital, both located at elevations above 2,000 metres and on major geological faults, a recent study published by the prestigious Springer journal has revealed. “Landslides in both the townships are known to occur since the geological past. However, the landslides and slope instability in both the hill towns have increased manifold, primarily due to increased and extreme rainfall events,” said the study published in the book ‘Extreme Natural Events – sustainable solutions for developing countries’.
– Vikram Gupta, one of the authors, who is associated with the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), said, “All of Mussoorie and surrounding areas received extreme rainfall during the monsoon of 2020, causing over 40 landslides, including some on the Dehradun-Mussoorie road. Nainital recorded even more erratic and extreme rainfall events, with exceptionally high rainfall in certain years. In 2014, Nainital recorded the highest annual rainfall (4,773 mm) as well as the second highest rainfall during the monsoon season (4,063 mm) in 26 years (1995-2020).”
– Mussoorie, located between an elevation of 900m and 2,290m, and Nainital, which is between 1,380m and 2,542m above the mean sea level, are both on the Outer Lesser Himalaya, to the north of the Main Boundary Thrust, and fall in zone IV of seismic zonation map of India. The MBT, one of the major Himalayan fault lines, separates these towns from the Shivalik range. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/extreme-rains-triggered-by-climate-change-weakening-slopes-of-mussoorie-nainital-says-study/articleshow/98401338.cms (04 March 2023)
The Deadliest Landslides In Recorded History 11 deadliest landslides in recorded history lists one from India: the Uttarakhand flood disster of June 2013. Was it a landslide disaster? https://www.worldatlas.com/natural-disasters/the-deadliest-landslides-in-recorded-history.html
Rudraprayag and Tehri Gharwal of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand have been the most landslide-affected districts over the last two decades, suggests satellite data captured by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The region not only has the maximum density of landslides, but the highest exposure due to population. Thrissur (Kerala), Rajouri (Jammu & Kashmir), Palakkad (Kerala), Poonch (J&K), Malappuram (Kerala), south and eastern district of Sikkim and Kozhikode (Kerala) were listed among the 10 worst-affected districts, apart from the two Uttarakhand districts. It is for the first time that a pan-India rainfall-triggered landslide database has been readied, said the agency.
The satellite and weather data is now being used to provide regional early warnings for selective routes of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and north-eastern states during the monsoons. These are based on rainfall threshold for landslides, which is the amount of rain which could trigger landslides in the areas. The NRSC has also developed a mobile app — FLIM — to collect data of landslides from the field to develop a landslide warning system. The data collected by the app is uploaded in the BHUVAN and NDEM servers for analysis and visualisation, and issues alerts accordingly.
The findings emerged from the latest risk assessment done by scientists from Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre who created an all-India database of nearly 80,000 landslides that occurred from 1998 to 2022. The team used this information to rank the 147 landslide-affected regions in 17 states and two Union Territories for their landslide exposure in terms of key socio-economic parameters. As many as 64 districts of Northeast too figured in the list, apart from southern states like Kerala which witness fewer landslides but face large destruction due to population density.
India is among the top four countries with highest landslide risk, with over 12.6 per cent of land area prone to hazard, excluding snow-covered areas. This covers the Himalayas, Western Ghats, Konkan Hills and Eastern Ghats of peninsular India which are highly susceptible to mass movements due to hilly topography and heavy rainfall events, which have been exacerbated by climate change. https://www.news18.com/news/india/rudraprayag-tehri-gharwal-face-highest-landslide-risk-reveals-isro-ranks-147-most-affected-districts-7216501.html (04 March 2023)
Nagaland Noklak town is sinking; will the govt help? In a two-part series, EastMojo details how a landslide has consumed one-fourth of the Noklak town due to geological factors, accelerated by infrastructure development and deforestation. https://www.eastmojo.com/nagaland/2023/02/18/joshimath-2-0-nagalands-noklak-town-is-sinking-will-the-govt-help/ (18 Feb. 2023)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
SANDRP Blog Comments on Power Ministry Draft Guidelines on Pump Storage Projects in India 1. Need for an independent committee to incorporate the feedback On Feb 15, 2023, Union Ministry of Power issued draft guidelines for Pump Storage Projects inviting comments from stakeholders in 15 days to the email id – email@example.com. The publication of draft guidelines and inviting comments from the stakeholders is welcome step. However, it may have been good if an independent panel had been constituted to go through the submissions and bring out redrafted guidelines along with a report explaining how the comments were taken into account. This would have inspired greater confidence among the stakeholders that their comments would get serious consideration. It may also have been better if there was longer consultation process then just 15 days. https://sandrp.in/2023/03/03/comments-on-power-ministry-draft-guidelines-on-pump-storage-projects-in-india/ (03 March 2023)
India’s norms for pumped storage hydro projects aim to facilitate energy storage The Ministry of Power recently issued draft guidelines to promote pumped storage projects (PSPs) in India. The technology aids in energy storage. The country, as per government estimates, has the potential of 103 gigawatt (GW) of PSP, but currently, it has only eight projects with a cumulative power of 4.7GW. Experts claim that compared to battery storage, PSPs are a more viable, cheaper, and effective option for energy storage. However, some have questioned the proposal of exempting certain types of PSPs from Environment Clearance.
– However, environmental experts are wary about this proposed mandate. Himanshu Thakkar, Coordinator at the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), told Mongabay-India that if the government avoids environmental impact assessment and people’s informed consent for such projects, it can lead to lead to catastrophic events like the infamous incident of Joshimath and others. “India has over 5,000 big dams, and only three percent have hydropower components. One of the best options could be using them first, ensuring the operation of existing PSPs as most are not operating in PSP mode, ensuring optimum peaking power generation from existing hydro, and then thinking of any new PSPs if viable and required,” he said. Thakkar said that since all PSPs will have two reservoirs, submergence of land and possible forests, tunnels, turbines, approach roads, building transmission lines, staff colonies, powerhouses, and others, they will undoubtedly have adverse environmental and social impacts. “In India, currently, we have only on-the-river PSPs. Now there are proposals for off-the-river PSPs. These projects certainly need social and environmental impact assessment. There will be extraction of water from some source, construction, likely loss of terrestrial biodiversity, and other likely threats that need scrutiny and consultations, even more so in the context of climate change,” he said. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/03/new-pumped-hydro-norms/ (02 March 2023)
Experts and activists have questioned the logic of designing Environment Management Plans without conducting environmental impact assessment studies and public hearings. https://www.newsclick.in/govt-says-green-nods-are-barriers-pumped-storage-project-industry-growth-experts-raise-concerns (27 Feb. 2023)
Industry Greenko raises $700 ml to fund pumped storage projects Greenko Group has raised USD 700 million (around Rs 5,700 crore) funding from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, Orix Corporation of Japan, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and its own founders. Anil Chalamalasetty and Mahesh Kolli are the founders of Hyderabad-based Greenko Group. The equity funding will be utilised towards the capex of pumped storage projects which will have storage capacity of more than 25 GWh. https://www.outlookindia.com/business/greenko-raises-700-million-to-fund-pumped-storage-projects-news-266970 (03 March 2023)
Joshimath Disaster Autopsy of an unfolding disaster -The location of the Tapovan Vishnugad HEP barrage is such that it has been prone to natural disasters and taken a heavy toll of human life over the years. The SANDRP has listed 17 instances until now when this project came under the cloud either due to mishaps, natural disasters, and gross violation of environmental regulations by the contractors. https://tatsatchronicle.com/joshimath-autopsy-of-an-unfolding-disaster/ (01 March 2023)
Dave Petley on Joshimath landslide: “This remains a case study in poor hazard communication – for example, the panel set up to investigate the hazard has still to release a report, although it does appear to have been submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office.” https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2023/02/28/joshimath-planet/ (28 Feb. 2023)
Disgruntled by the delay in rehabilitation for those hit by land subsidence and fearing further damage due to ‘unscientific developmental activities’, nine youths have embarked on a nearly-300km foot march from Joshimath to Dehradun. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/march-for-relief-9-joshimath-youths-on-300km-foot-journey-to-call-out-delay-in-rehabilitation/articleshow/98348054.cms (2 Mar 2023)
इस समय भी जोशीमठ बचाने के लिए लगातार विरोध प्रदर्शन और नुक्कड सभाएं चल रही हैं। एनटीपीसी की पनबिजली परियोजना और हेलंग-मारवाडी बाईपास निर्माण का स्थानीय लोग लगातार विरोध कर रहे हैं। पनबिजली परियोजना की सुरंग के लिए किया गया निर्माण कार्य और जोशीमठ की तलहटी में करीब 6 किलोमीटर लंबे बाईपास निर्माण से जोशीमठ की पहाडी के अस्थिर होने का अंदेशा जताया जा रहा है। https://hindi.newsclick.in/index.php/Chandiprasad-Bhatt-letter-Indira-Gandhi-had-taken-action-but-did-not-even-get-reply-from-Prime-Minister-Modi (06 March 2023)
This report claims the viral video of caving in incident inside a tunnel is from Silkyara-Pole village tunnel in Yamunotri area of Uttarkashi on March 01, evening. However, local people deny it. Meanwhile huge boulders fell on Gangotri NH near Dabrani on March 02 damaging and blocking the road for traffic. The report mentions that in past NTPC had built Lohari Nagpala HEP tunnel under the hills there. https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/uttarakhand/dehradun/landslide-in-the-longest-tunnel-in-uttarkashi-laborers-escaped-and-saved-their-lives/articleshow/98358777.cms (02 March 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Power producers upset over cess imposition The government’s decision to impose water cess (Rs 0.1 to 0.5 per cubic meter depending on the head) on hydropower projects in the state has not gone down well with power producers. Stung by the decision, the power producers are mulling options ranging from urging the government to reconsider the decision to taking legal recourse. Rajesh Sharma, president, Bonafide Hydro Developers Association said, “We will present our case before the government. We will demand that the project up to 25 MW be exempted from it”. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/power-producers-upset-over-cess-imposition-485636 (06 March 2023)
CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on Monday (Feb. 27) met Union Minister for Environment Bhupender Yadav to press for expeditious forest-related clearances for ongoing development projects, besides approval for construction of heliports and green corridors to make Himachal Pradesh a ‘Green Energy State’ by the year 2025. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/himachal-asks-centre-for-expeditious-forest-related-clearances-to-make-it-a-green-energy-state/article66559804.ece (27 Feb. 2023)
Kerala KSEB may seek NHPC’s help for making hydel projects viable Under a proposed collaboration, the KSEB will get the designs of hydel projects that are on the drawing board or in early stages of development vetted by NHPC Ltd (formerly National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd). According to a decision taken in late February, the power utility has decided to entrust NHPC with the vetting/review of the design components of the 40 MW Mankulam and the 24 MW Upper Sengulam projects. The Mankulam project is slated for commissioning in 2025-26. The KSEB has floated bids for Upper Sengulam, which is categorised as a small hydroelectric project, according to the Power department.
The proposed collaboration with NHPC is part of a larger strategy of proposed joint ventures with central public sector undertakings for the implementation of power projects. The Power department feels that such collaborations will also help it to obtain the necessary clearances quickly. With the energy demand soaring, the KSEB has 11 hydel projects worth 105.5 MW in various stages of development at the moment. 22 more, with a combined installed capacity of 149.10 MW, are on the cards. These apart, the utility has also proposed a clutch of large hydel projects. The list includes the 800 MW Idukki Golden Jubilee Extension Scheme, the 300 MW Sabarigiri Phase II, and the 240 MW Letchmi project.
NHPC has agreed to associate with the KSEB and share its technical prowess and expertise for reviewing/vetting the design of hydel projects that are in various stages of development, according to the KSEB. The decision stems from the idea that a cost-effective design is vital for the projects to be viable. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kseb-may-seek-nhpcs-help-for-making-hydel-projects-viable/article66580495.ece (04 March 2023)
Niti Aayog Tweaking of funding norms for hydropower projects in works India is looking to tweak the funding modalities for hydropower projects in the country. A senior government official told ET that NITI Aayog member VK Saraswat-led advisory group is firming up an action plan for river basin development and hydropower projects in these states. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/renewables/tweaking-of-funding-norms-for-hydropower-projects-in-works/articleshow/98371965.cms (02 March 2023)
MoEF Relevant decisions of the FAC meeting held on Feb 23 2023: 1. Proposal for diversion of additional 3.7904 ha of forest land in favour of JSW Energy Ltd, Kuther HEP (240 MW) village Machhettar, P.O. Channouta, Tehsil Bharmour, Distt. Chamba, for the Transmission Line for evacuation of Power of Kuther HEP 3*80 MW village Machhettar, P.O. Channouta: More info sought
2. Proposal for Renewal of Collection of Minor Minerals from 1473 ha (originally proposed area is 1497 ha) of forest land of Gaula River under Forest Division Tarai East, Haldwani and District Nainital, Uttarakhand: APPROVED
3. Proposal for Renewal of Collection of Minor Minerals from 112.0 ha (Originally approved area is 223.0 ha) of forest land of Dabka River under Forest Division Ramnagar and District Nainital, Uttarakhand: APPROVED
4. Proposal for renewal of FC Approval for collection of Minor Minerals 181.0 (originally approved 254.0 ha) of forest land of Kosi River under Ramnagar Terai Western Forest Division Ramnagar District Nainital (Uttarakhand): APPROVED
5. Proposal for Renewal of Collection of Minor Minerals from 384.69 ha of forest land of Sharda River under Forest Division Haldwani and District Champawat, Uttarakhand: APPROVED https://forestsclearance.nic.in/FAC_Report.aspx
Polavaram Project NHPC’s Polavaram project verdict Polavaram project Dam Designs Review Panel (DDRP) has decided to make field inspection on March 4. The visit has been planned as the Central Water Commission (CWC) is expecting the report of experts from the DDRP, headed by former CWC chairman A B Pandya, has decided to visit the project site along with NHPC experts. After field inspection, DDRP is expected to discuss the alternatives with the experts from different IITs in New Delhi on March 5.
– The Centre has to give clarity about additional costs involved in taking up the new construction work. Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had promised to take care of additional costs during his visit to the project and also during the review with the Jal Shakti ministry officials. However, according to sources, the Jal Shakti ministry is unable to convince the finance ministry, which is insisting on clearing the bills based only on 2013-14 price level. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/national-hydro-power-corporations-polavaram-project-verdict-soon/articleshow/98326753.cms (01 March 2023)
Dam Design Review Panel approves repairs to diaphragm wall he Dam Design Review Panel (DDRP) of the Polavaram Irrigation Project on March 5, 2023 gave its approval for repairs of damaged portions of the diaphragm wall after it was satisfied with a structural stability report issued by the NHPC. This means new diaphragm wall will not be required. The NHPC, which carried out technical investigations of the dam after the floods, submitted its report on the structural stability of the diaphragm wall a few days ago. 38 experts representing the Central Water Commission (CWC), DDRP, Polavaram Project Authority (PPA), NHPC and State Water Resources Department reviewed the status of the diaphragm wall in Rajamahendravaram during the 21st DDRP meeting held on March 5. The methodology for repair was also discussed. An additional cost of ₹2,000 crore would have to be borne to complete the repairs of the diaphragm wall.
– During the recent Godavari floods, parts of the diaphragm wall had collapsed at two places while the remaining wall up to a length of nearly 700 metres was intact. The NHPC was asked whether the remaining portion of the wall supports repair works or whether a new diaphragm wall needed to be built.
-Meanwhile, addressing the media at the Polavaram irrigation project site, Water Resources Minister Ambati Rambabu said that an additional cost of ₹2,000 crore would have to be borne to complete the repairs of the diaphragm wall as work was delayed by two years. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/dam-design-review-panel-approves-repairs-to-polavaram-diaphragm-wall-damaged-in-godavari-floods/article66584237.ece (05 March 2023)
An expenditure of Rs 16,035.88 crore has been incurred on the project from April 2014 to December 2022, Rs 13226 Crvhas been released by the Centre and Rs 548 Cr is under examination. Rs 2390 is not found suitable for reimbursement. https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/polavaram-project-likely-to-be-completed-by-march-24-786330 (06 March 2023)
The study teams have identified damage to the extent of 485 metres of the diaphragm wall out of its 1,396 metres. They noticed that there were many gaps in the diaphragm wall. Ambati Rambabu said that nearly 46 lakh cubic meters of sand would be required to fill up the holes. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/050323/go-ahead-given-to-engineers-to-start-polavaram-project-works.html (06 March 2023)
According to the team, huge pits were formed near the diaphragm wall in the river bed. Experts said construction of the project should be taken up only after the diaphragm wall is built. AP WR minister Ambati said construction of the earth-cum-rock fill dam (ECRF) will be taken up after repairs to the diaphragm wall are completed. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2023/mar/06/polavaram-irrigation-project-rs-2000-crore-needed-to-repair-diaphragm-wall-2553546.html (06 March 2023)
Sardar Sarovar Project During the budget session on Friday (March 03), the state government told the Gujarat assembly that 5,975km of Narmada canal work was pending as of December 31, 2022. In response to the question when this will be completed, the CM said “at the earliest”, not committing any deadline. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/5975km-of-narmada-canal-work-pending-says-govt/articleshow/98402687.cms (04 March 2023)
WRONG DECISION KEEPING IN MIND DEFICIT MONSOON DUE TO LOOMING EL NINO? SHOULD THE EXTRA WATER NOT BE KEPT TO TAKE CARE OF POSSIBLE RAINFALL DEFICIT NEXT MONSOON? Farmers in Gujarat will get an additional 2.27 million acre feet (MAF) of water for their summer crops as the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has allotted 11.27 MAF of water instead of 9 MAF to Gujarat, state government spokesperson Rushikesh Patel said on March 1 2023. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/farmers-to-get-extra-2-27-maf-of-water-for-summer-crops/articleshow/98349951.cms (02 March 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Bhakra dam losing fish due to dumping of road construction waste
The Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) has tracked the big drop in Bhakra dam reservoir’s fish population to a rise in silt level because of muck dumping from a road-widening project. CIFRI has reported to Himachal Pradesh’s fisheries department how this silt has damaged the breeding and feeding grounds of various fish species in Bilaspur district’s biggest water body and reduced its total annual fish production from 1,492 metric tonnes in 2014 to about 250 MT in 2022, affecting the livelihood of more than 3,000 local families.
– HP fisheries director Satpal Mehta said that a four-lane-highway project had reduced Bhakra’s fish. He said: “We got the CIFRI to conduct this study last year to know why the fish had become fewer. It pointed us to silt coming from the highway project since 2014. The other reasons include the construction of the Kol dam and irregular in monsoon, which is a breeding season.” The Kol dam’s water is released into the Bhakra reservoir, sometimes too much, which has destroyed the fish habitat. In the breeding season, the fish move up the Bhakra’s tributaries to lay eggs but since most of those channels have dried up, this as well has impacted the fish reproduction. The CIFRI has advised the fisheries department to release about Rs 1 crore fish seeds, including those of bigger size, into the Bhakra reservoir.
– The contractor that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has engaged to widen the Kiratpur-Manali road continues to dump muck illegally into the Bhakra reservoir despite stiff opposition from the locals. Four-lane Visthapit and Prabahavit Samiti (FVPS) general secretary Madan Sharma, who represents those ousted or affected by the project, has made futile complaints to the local administration and the NHAI. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/bhakra-losing-fish-due-to-dumping-of-waste-from-road-construction/articleshow/98422274.cms (05 March 2023)
West Bengal Govt push for 2 more canals under Teesta Barrage Project On Friday (March 03), the Jalpaiguri district administration handed over around 1,000 acres to the department in the presence of state irrigation minister Partha Bhowmik to create two canals on the left bank of the Teesta. Water from the Jaldhaka, another river which flows through Jalpaiguri district, will be also diverted to the canals for irrigation. “According to the plan, a 32km-long canal to draw water from the Teesta and the Jaldhaka will be dug till Changrabandha of Cooch Behar district. Another canal, which will have a length of 15km, will be built on the left bank of the Teesta,” said a source in the department.
The Teesta Barrage project was launched in 1975 with a plan to irrigate 9.22 lakh hectares of agricultural land in north Bengal. The project, however, suffered for decades and water reaches only around 1.04 lakh hectares now. “The central government had announced it as a national project (in 2009) but is not providing funds. Even if we do not get funds, we will try to finish the work (of creating the network of canals) in phases,” Bhowmik, the irrigation minister, said on Friday (March 03).
The state government’s decision to dig new canals under the Teesta Barrage project after a gap of over 20 years is set to raise Dhaka’s hackles. New Delhi and Dhaka couldn’t clinch a pact to share the Teesta waters because of objections raised by CM Mamata Banerjee in 2011. A political observer pointed out that by extending the reach of the Teesta project, Mamata is trying to prove that north Bengal needs water from the river. “Now that her government plans to extend the irrigation network, it is evident that more water from the Teesta will be routed through the new canals. This means less water will be available for Bangladesh during lean months,” said a faculty member of the geography department at North Bengal University in Siliguri.
Bangladesh has been waiting for the Teesta water-sharing deal with India for more than a decade to solve the water scarcity in the northern parts of the neighbouring country. Around 100 cumecs (cubic metres per second) of water are available in the Teesta in the summer months. Around 1,600 cumecs are required to irrigate agricultural land both in India and Bangladesh, said sources. https://www.telegraphindia.com/west-bengal/bengals-push-for-two-more-canals-under-teesta-barrage-project/cid/1920297 (04 March 2023)
Hirakud Dam CSMRS expert team to visit Hirakud dam soon: Minister A Team of experts from the Central Soil and Materials Research Station (CSMRS), New Delhi will soon visit Hirakud dam to study damages caused to different components of the dam and underwater survey of cracks and cavities. In a written reply to a question by MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Minister for Water Resources Tukuni Sahu informed the Assembly that CSMRS and Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS) have been approached for the study using the latest technologies.
– An underwater study of both left and right spillways was conducted by CSMRS through a remote operated vehicle in 2015-16 and accordingly repair works completed under phase I of the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP),” she added.
– However, no detailed study has been conducted since 2020 when a team of dam safety review panel had visited the dam and noticed cracks in its operation gallery, foundation gallery, gate shaft and sluice barrels of both left and right spillways. After the visit in January, 2020, the panel besides recommending a drone based inspection of the downstream face to find out cracks, had suggested to repair the erosion on downstream glacis of the left channel spillway and attend the cracks in right channel spillway to prevent further aggravation.
– Even two years after the panel flagged cracks in different structures of Hirakud, the detailed study is yet to be conducted, let alone the restoration part. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2023/feb/26/csmrs-expert-team-to-visit-hirakud-dam-soon-minister-2551118.html (26 Feb. 2023)
Telangana Work on Lower Penganga project on Penganga river on Maharashtra Telangana border is likely to begin soon as per this report. https://newsmeter.in/top-stories/exclusive-works-on-lower-penganga-project-to-finally-begin-708950 (04 March 2023)
Real-time tracking of water levels soon Telangana government is taking steps to speed up the process of installing sensor-based Decision Support Systems (DSS) in all its irrigation projects and pump houses. A total of 77 projects, 75 pump houses and ponds will be connected with the DSS. According to the officials, DSS would increase decision-making efficiency at various levels of a system and would provide alternative information that may be useful in improving water management. https://telanganatoday.com/real-time-tracking-of-water-levels-soon-in-telangana (27 Feb. 2023)
Rajasthan Govt Begins Work on Sabarmati, Sei Dams The government has finally begun work on a key Rs 2,500 crore project that will involve building two new dams on inter-state rivers Sabarmati and Sei, very near to the border with Gujarat. On Tuesday (Feb. 28), the Gehlot government invited bids for both projects to build the dams within the next four years. The new dams on Sei and Sabarmati rivers will become reservoirs from which water will be supplied to the Jawai dam through tunnel pipelines in one of the most challenging projects to be executed in Rajasthan.
The government says the idea is the “diversion of surplus water of Sabarmati Basin” to Jawai Dam in Udaipur. This will ensure filling of Jawai Dam across Jawai River to augment water supply demand in Pali and Sirohi districts of Rajasthan. The CM had announced both projects in last year’s budget. It was the Vasundhara Raje government that began groundwork of these two dams in 2016 by marking a consultancy study for them. Sabarmati is an inter-state river with nearly 20 per cent catchment area in Rajasthan and the rest in Gujarat. Sei is its tributary.
Jawai Dam is the largest dam of western Rajasthan, built in 1957 as a major irrigation project across Jawai River to cater to nearly 39,000 hectares of irrigation area. Later, due to scarcity of drinking water in Pali and Sirohi districts, some part of stored water was reserved every year for drinking purpose. Due to continuous increase in the drinking water demand coupled with deficit of water inflow in Jawai Dam, the two new dams have been envisaged to utilise the surplus water that is available in the Sabarmati Basin. https://www.news18.com/news/elections/polls-near-gehlot-govt-begins-work-on-sabarmati-sei-dams-to-quench-western-rajasthans-thirst-7189339.html (01 March 2023)
INTERLINKING OF RIVERS
Ken-Betwa Link All eyes on tech body’s first meet The Ken Betwa Link Project Authority has called on 1st meeting of the technical advisory group in New Delhi on Feb 26, 2023. The meeting will be chaired by D P Bhargava, former director technical NHPC Faridabad. Engineers from both MP and UP would be present. BEFORE CLAIMING THAT THE PROJECT HAS ALL THE CLEARANCES, QUOTING SOURCES, THE REPORTER COULD HAVE EASILY CHECKED THE VERACITY OF THESE CLAIMS RATHER THAN PARROTING THE CLAIMS OF THE UNNAMED SOURCES. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/ken-betwa-project-all-eyes-on-tech-bodys-first-meet-today/articleshow/98165392.cms (23 Feb. 2023)
Implementation of KBLP will be undertaken jointly (by Centre and states) through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) ie, Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA). Head office of the KBLPA is at Bhopal. Other division offices started functioning at Bhopal, Jhansi and Chhatarpur A steering committee (SC) headed by secretary, department of water resources, river development & Ganga rejuvenation (DoWR, RD&GR), ministry of Jal Shakti, government of India (GoI) for policy decisions and KBLPA for the implementation of Ken-Betwa Link Project has been constituted vide Gazette Notification issued on February 11, 2022. Based on the recommendations of PIB, a Cabinet Note was prepared and circulated to the concerned ministries /departments on November 16, 2021. The project was approved by the Centre in December 2021 with an estimated cost of Rs 44,605 crore at 2020-21 price level. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/joint-spv-to-implement-linking-project/articleshow/98166688.cms (23 Feb. 2023)
THE PROJECT STILL DOES NOT HAVE ALL THE STATUTORY CLEARANCES. SHOULD THE GOVT BE SPENDING ALL THESE FUNDS? The Madhya Pradesh government is gearing up to float tenders, inviting bids for Project Management Consultants (PMC), the cost of which is pegged at Rs 200 crore. PMC plays a multifaceted role, right down to the completion of a project, and is responsible for increasing the efficiency and outcome of a work in construction, said officials, adding that several renowned business houses of the country are vying for it. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/ken-betwa-link-mp-to-invite-bids-for-project-management-consultant/articleshow/98137144.cms (22 Feb. 2023)
According to this Bhaskar report of March 3, 2023, MP govt has provided Rs 6000 as a token for the Ken Betwa Project in 2023-24 Budget. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/bhopal/news/1000-for-the-works-of-irrigation-department-and-pwd-token-amount-6000-rupees-kept-for-ken-betwa-link-130991278.html (2 Mar 2023)
To ensure systematic and time bound implementation of the Greater Panna Landscape Management plan, the Greater Panna Landscape Council (GPLC) has been constituted under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh with members from all the stakeholders. Adequate financial provisions have been earmarked for the implementation of Environment Management Plan and Integrated Landscape Management Plan under the Ken-Betwa Link Project. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1903422 (1 Mar 2022)
NWDA Meeting on river interlinking on March 6 The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) would be holding a meeting of Task Force for Interlinking of Rivers on March 6 at Hyderabad. NWDA director Bhupal Singh will discuss issues related to river connectivity with the secretaries of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kamataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and other States. https://telanganatoday.com/nwda-meeting-on-river-interlinking-on-march-6 (26 Feb. 2023)
Jharkhand Report about how thousands of crores have been spent on irrigation projects, without any benefits over the last five decades.
https://www.bhaskar.com/local/jharkhand/ranchi/news/2-thousand-crore-spent-on-canal-schemes-in-7-districts-of-jharkhand-but-water-did-not-reach-the-fields-130977768.html (28 Feb. 2023)
Ulhas; Mumbai Can we reverse river destruction? How did authorities manage to reverse the state of Thames river in UK? Starting 1976, all sewage was treated before entering the Thames. Legislative interventions such as the Rivers Pollution Prevention Act, 1961; Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act, 1937; River Boards Act, 1948; Prevention of Pollution Bill, 1961; and the British Waterways Act, 1995. In 1989, the National Rivers Authority privatised water companies, directly leading to the improvement in water quality. Recently, a 25 km “super sewer”, the Thames tideway tunnel is being constructed under the river and is expected to be complete by 2025 to intercept, store and transfer sewage.
– The river was monitored to measure and rate pollution, lower scores indicating that organisms would not be able to survive. Some technological interventions, like large oxygenators, or ‘bubblers’ aided this by increasing dissolved oxygen levels. These interventions took six long decades to restore the river. But today, over 120 species of fish are recorded in the river regularly, with occasional sightings of exotic species. If the Ulhas river is to be saved, action needs to start now. https://mumbai.citizenmatters.in/the-destruction-of-the-ulhas-river-45651 (20 Feb. 2023)
Chennai Polluted rivers call CRRT’s restoration strategy into question Many attempts have been made over the years to clean up Chennai’s polluted rivers. Allocations running into thousands of crores have been made for these projects by various governments, but progress has been slow and incremental. With more than a decade of functioning with the mandate of cleaning up Chennai’s rivers, the present state of pollution is a damning indictment of the loopholes in the restoration strategy adopted by the CRRT (Chennai River Restoration Trust).
In January 2023, the SPCB found the Adyar, Cooum and Buckingham Canal to be ‘dead’, as no living species can survive in these rivers at the present levels of pollution. In fact, they found no DO in 23 locations of Adyar and 18 locations of Cooum.
Experts say that sewage outfalls and solid waste dumping are the two major issues contributing to the pollution of Chennai’s rivers. Another issue that environmentalists point to is that the width of the river has become very small due to encroachments which could possibly lead to lesser speed, and therefore stagnancy. “Instead of spending crores of money on various activities, CRRT could focus on plugging the sewage outfalls. In a couple of years, the rains will flush out the existing sewage and the rivers will start to revive,” says S Janakarajan, former professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies and President of South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies.
There is also widespread criticism of the resettlement and rehabilitation efforts of the CRRT as part of river restoration. “They seem to be on a spree to destroy the homes and livelihoods of the economically disadvantaged,” says Darwin, adding that the quality of the rivers has not improved despite the slew of evictions seen by the city. “Temporary settlements across river banks pollute the rivers very minimally compared to high-income households, industries and commercial spaces. People in slums may not have water supply, let alone taps,” says Ranjit, adding that they are not the primary polluters of Chennai’s rivers. https://chennai.citizenmatters.in/crrt-chenna-rivers-adyar-cooum-restoration-eviction-pollution-encroachments-63010 (23 Feb. 2023)
Sabarmati; Ahmedabad HC seeks CPCB river pollution report During the hearing of a PIL that the HC had filed suo motu two years ago, the bench of Chief Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice Vaibhavi Nanavati asked GPCB to supply the report of the central body, which was placed before the parliament by the Union ministry of Jal Shakti.
The report is a cause of concern because two years ago, the HC undertook an exercise to curb pollution in Sabarmati and to rejuvenate it. After getting various government agencies to pull up its socks, the high court ensured that the pollution of the river was mitigated to some extent. Since the elevation of Justice J B Pardiwala to the Supreme Court, the PIL has not been heard for nearly eight months.
As the bench discussed the CBCP report, advocate Hemang Shah, the amicus curiae in the case, submitted that it is not possible for this generation to reap fruits of the exercise to clean the river, and probably the next generation will benefit from it. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-hc-seeks-central-pollution-control-board-sabarmati-river-pollution-report/articleshow/98030635.cms (18 Feb. 2023)
Gomti; Lucknow Water level drops Prof Dhruvsen Singh, a geologist at Lucknow University who has done extensive work on the Gomti, said that there are three main reasons behind this. “The first reason is no winter rains this year, the second is the extremely hot February and the third is the widespread withdrawal of groundwater,” he said. “The river originates from Gomat Taala in Pilibhit and is a groundwater fed river that is enriched with rainwater. Since, this year, all three factors were adversely affected, water level went down,” he said. He further stated, “We cannot control rain or weather conditions, so groundwater extraction should be controlled, and rain water harvesting should be done in every household. If remedial steps are started today, it will take at least two years to restore normalcy.”
According to a senior official at the School of Earth Environmental Sciences (SEES), BBAU, global warming could be the reason behind meteorological anomalies. “If we follow the meteorological department’s “100 Year Rainfall Series”, which was released a few years back, we will find that the rainfall in the upper basin of the Gomti has decreased for the last 20 years. As a result, the tributaries have dried up, but people kept extracting groundwater. All this is slowly drying up the river,” he said.
Ram Kailash Gupta, general manager, Jalkal dept, said, “We are in talks with the irrigation department to release 100 cusecs of water per day from Sharda to Gomti soon to meet the crisis.” https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/lucknow-faces-crisis-as-gomti-water-level-drops-no-winter-rains-to-blame-123022800606_1.html (28 Feb 2021)
Kochi 3 days into fire at Brahmapuram waste plant A blanket of toxic smoke has engulfed most of Kochi and its suburban areas after a fire broke out at the city corporation’s solid waste treatment plant in Brahmapuram Thursday (March 02) evening. The massive hill of garbage and plastic waste has been burning unabated for nearly three days now. State and central government agencies have since been engaged in attempts to douse the fire which has engulfed the 75-acre garbage hill with its deep bed of plastic waste.
Apart from state fire and rescue teams, fire-fighting units of the Navy and the Cochin Port Trust have been deployed to contain the blaze. People in Kochi and suburban areas have been advised to remain indoors on Sunday (March 05) considering the deteriorating air quality. State Industries Minister P Rajeeve told “Water is being pumped from a nearby river using two high-power dewatering pump sets. Temporary arrangements will be made for garbage movement which has been suspended in the wake of the fire at the plant,” he said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/thiruvananthapuram/toxic-fumes-engulf-kochi-3-days-fire-brahmapuram-waste-plant-8480517/; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN8QJQB9W1w (05 March 2023)
Advertisement about 3 kms private river front at the meeting point of 2 Krishna & Paleru Rivers. https://thealakananda.com/
Maharashtra Community participation helps a village become flood-free after years Originating from the Devde village at the foothills of Vishalgad, river Kajli meets the river Kew flowing from Amba Ghat to the east of Kondgaon. Their confluence results in a waterfall where there is a change in its course. Flowing up to Bhatye Bay of Ratnagiri dist, the Kajli river in covers a distance of 72 kilometres with around 75 villages dotting its banks. At the Kondgaon-Sakharpa village (Population 5000), the Kajli overflows annually during the monsoon months, flooding the village.
The residents of Kondgaon-Sakharpa formed the Kajli River Conservation Committee (KRCC), with technical support from water conservationists and NGOs, to restore the river. In 2021, the people’s organisation worked to raise the land on both sides of Kajli and the debris was removed from the riverbed. The residents have survived two monsoons after the restoration, without floods. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/03/community-participation-helps-a-maharashtra-village-become-flood-free-after-years/ (02 March 2023)
Jammu & Kashmir Poisoned waters Large amounts of pesticides continue to be used by fruit growers, especially in areas where horticulture is the predominant commercial crop informs this paper titled ‘Health risk assessment of pesticide residues in drinking water of upper Jhelum region in Kashmir valley-India by GC-MS/MS’ published in the International Journal of Analytical Chemistry. The paper discusses the findings of a study that explores the impact of the use of pesticides on the drinking water of the upper Jhelum region in the administrative districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, and Kulgam in Kashmir. This mountainous region remains snow-clad for most of the year and has plenty of snow-fed springs, rivers with a network of their tributaries, and freshwater lakes. The paper highlights the need for consistent water quality monitoring for drinking water sources in the upper Jhelum basin (South Kashmir) of the Kashmir Valley and the use of bio-pesticides as alternatives because they are less detrimental to the environment. These freshwater sources provide water for drinking, irrigation, and other domestic needs in the region. River Jhelum, the trunk stream of the Jhelum basin originates in the area near Verinag and flows almost through the entire length of Kashmir Valley. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/poisoned-waters-kashmir (27 Feb. 2023)
Tamil Nadu Farmers protest against untreated sewage discharge to Noyyal The farmers of Coimbatore are protesting against the unabated discharge of untreated sewage into the Noyyal river. Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, a farmers’ association affiliated to the Communist Party of India, is spearheading the protest and has petitioned the district administration against the regular discharge of sewage into the river. Vice-president of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, R. Periyasamy while speaking to IANS said, “We are protesting against the destruction of Noyyal river as pollution of river is affecting the groundwater near the water bodies and this is having an impact on the farmers and agriculture.”
He also said that foul smell was emanating from the water drawn from ground water and this is also related to the pollution in Noyyal river. Farmers said that there is a presence of weed plants growing on the banks of the river and this was due to effluent discharge into the river. The association leaders told IANS that they would resort to further action if there is no proper support from the administration.
It may be noted that Water Quality Index (WQI) was collected from 27 locations along the Noyyal river from its source of origin to sink and found that except for two samples, all other samples were categorised as poor, very poor, and unfit for consumption. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1054718 (27 Feb. 2023)
YAMUAN Delhi Najafgarh drain’s revival part of master plan focus A Delhi Development Authority official said on Wednesday (March 01), “The LG had stressed that the water body should be developed in a way to facilitate medical tourism, meet entertainment and film industry needs and support the economy.” The 57-km-long drain enters the city near Dhansa in southwest Delhi and runs through parts of west, central and north Delhi before meeting the Yamuna near Wazirabad. According to officials, two-thirds of the total wastewater discharge of Delhi flows into the Najafgarh drain. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/clean-yamuna-najafgarh-drains-revival-part-of-master-plan-focus/articleshow/98375771.cms (03 March 2023)
Twenty years after starting its construction, the long-awaited bridge parallels to Delhi’s British Era Loha Pul over the Yamuna is finally nearing completion. According to the Northern Railway who started the construction of the new bridge in 2003 has now stated that the structure will be made operational by September 2023. Constructed in 1866 by the British engineer Robert Clarke, Loha Pul was one of the first iron bridges built in India. https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/after-two-decades-new-bridge-parallel-to-delhis-iconic-loha-pul-to-be-opened-this-year-article-98431521 (05 March 2023)
Agra The ghats of the Yamuna were cleaned and the river bed was made litter-free by scores of volunteers of the Nirankari Mission in Agra. Agra’s drinking water problem has been largely solved by the 130 km long pipeline from Bulandshahar district, which brings 150 cusecs of Ganga water. Ten cusecs of water go to Mathura while Agra gets 140 cusecs. https://www.siasat.com/thousands-join-clean-yamuna-drive-in-taj-city-2536547/ (27 Feb. 2023)
Uttar Pradesh Researchers spot a smooth-coated Otter in Gomti For the first time, a smooth-coated otter (SCO) has been spotted in the 929-km-long Gomti river on the Lucknow-Sitapur border by a team of WII while they were carrying out an ecological assessment that is part of the project funded by the NMCG. In Uttar Pradesh, otters are generally found in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Katerniyaghat, Haiderpur wetland and Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary.
Government records suggest that 865 MLD of sewage discharge is directly pumped into the river daily from 68 drains and 30 industries from more than 150 villages. The 30 industries include seven sugar, two slaughterhouses, three textile or yarn dyeing industries, five engineering industries, three distillery units, and ten industries of dairy, fertiliser, paper, food and beverages. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/biodiversity/news/2023-03-06-researchers-spot-first-ever-smooth-coated-otter-in-up-gomti (06 March 2023)
Bihar भागलपुर की गंगा में फिर मिली मरी हुई डॉल्फिन
Sept. 2022 Hindi report mentions suspicious deaths of 3 gangetic dolphins in past 6 months in Bhagalpur, Bihar. https://www.prabhatkhabar.com/state/bihar/bhagalpur/dead-dolphin-found-again-in-bhagalpur-questions-arose-after-three-deaths-in-six-months-skt (14 Sept. 2022)
Arunachal Pradesh 3 new species of cascade frogs discovered Researchers from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and St Anthony’s College, Shillong (Meghalaya) have discovered three new species of cascade frogs from Arunachal Pradesh. The report of the findings was published in the recent edition of the research journal Records of the Zoological Survey of India. Scientifically, all three new species belong to the true frog family Ranidae, and these cascade-dwelling frogs are classified under the genus Amolops.
The new species have been named Amolops chanakya, Amolops tawang and Amolops terraorchis, and were collected from three different locations in Arunachal between 2018 and 2019. Amolops chanakya was collected from Dirang, while Amolops tawang was collected from Tawang, and Amolops terraorchis was collected from the Sessa orchid sanctuary. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/03/05/3-new-species-of-cascade-frogs-discovered-from-arunachal/ (05 March 2023)
FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS
Documentary Changing coastline About the documentary: 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. It has to be accepted that climate change is a global phenomenon and is happening for real. But 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 December 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b6Lh6IV9Uc (22 Feb. 2023)
Maharashtra NGT orders action on polluting fish farm A recent judgement by the NGT, Western Zone bench, concerning aquaculture practices in Vadivale Lake at Maval taluka of Pune, is likely to have far-reaching implications for the industry nation-wide. The NGT has mandated that the industry as a whole be brought under tighter regulatory scrutiny by applying the terms of the EIA Notification and bringing the practice under the consent regime of the Water Act implemented by the centre and state pollution control boards.
The NGT’s judgement, dated February 27, followed a 2022 execution application filed by a Mumbai-based NGO, Vanashakti, which through previous legal efforts had secured a May 2021 order from the NGT’s principal bench, in which the latter formed a six-member committee to study the sustainability of inland aquaculture practices. The aforesaid expert committee found that in the instance of Vadivale Lake, there was indeed a measurable impact on the local ecology. The outfall of the lake is in Indrayani river which is a source of drinking water for 28 villages and parts of Pune city, the NGT had previously observed.
“It is also evident that there is a need to bring inland aquaculture under the Environment Impact Assessment regime,” the NGT remarked in its February 27 judgement, leaving the Union environment ministry to consider the matter further. “As regards to the cage aquaculture activity to be brought under consent regime, the necessary steps shall be taken by the CPCB as well as MPCB within three months,” the NGT also instructed. The MPCB has also been directed to take appropriate action within a month’s time, under the provisions of the Water Act against “one Bhardwaj Yadavrao Pagare, who was found to have conducted the cage aquaculture activity in the Vadivale lake with 24 cages and huge pollution load is found because of that activity”. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/ngt-orders-action-on-polluting-fish-farm-mandates-nation-wide-strict-regulations-101678047108586.html (06 March 2023)
SANDRP Blog 2023: Riverbed Mining Death & Violence in North India At least 69 people have been killed in riverbed mining related violence and accidents in North India between April 2022 and February 2023. The state of Uttar Pradesh have seen maximum 42 human deaths due to sand mining related accidents in this period. Maximum deaths 45 have taken place in road accidents involving sand transporting vehicles including dumpers, trucks and tractors. Of total road accidents death 33 have taken place in Uttar Pradesh. After road accidents, drowning in deep sand mine pits have become a big reason of untimely death of innocent people as at least 15 persons mostly young teens and youths have lost their lives in deep sand mine pits in past 11 months. https://sandrp.in/2023/03/03/2023-riverbed-mining-death-violence-in-north-india/ (03 March 2023)
India’s ‘sand mafias have power, money and weapons’ -According to the SANDRP, an NGO documenting the impacts of mining, Bihar is, along with Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, one of three states that is “particularly infested with mafia gangs” that have “close links with the police and politicians.”
-According to SANDRP, at least 12 citizens and two police officers were killed by these mafias between December 2020 and March 2022. Between January 2019 and November 2020, the NGO had recorded the deaths of at least 23 citizens, five journalists and activists, and 11 government officials. In addition to those alleged murders, there were road accidents, incidents during extraction and drowning of children in pits. In total, hundreds of people die and are injured each year in India, in connection with sand mining. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/09/12/in-india-sand-mafias-have-power-money-and-weapons_5996639_114.html (12 Sept. 2022)
Author Naveen Kumar is advocate on record, Supreme Court in India: “It is extremely necessary to have an effective framework that regulates sand mining and considers the environmental issues associated with it. Sand mining leads to a negative impact on biodiversity. It causes loss of aquatic habitat and also destabilises the soil bed structure of riverbanks and leaves behind deserted islands. These technical, scientific, and environmental matters should be taken note of, and Governments should come up with rules and regulations that can keep a check on illegal sand mining. On the technological front, India is on a high rise, and a lot of development has taken come forward in remote monitoring and surveillance in the field of mining. Hence, it is fair to take advantage of the technological progression and use it to keep an effective check on mining activities, especially sand mining.” https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2023/02/08/sand-mining-in-india-grain-of-despair-failure-of-regulatory-machinery/ (08 Feb. 2023)
Uttar Pradesh All-women team revived a river Sharda Devi was awarded the Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023 by President Droupadi Murmu at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on March 04 among the 56 women change-makers from rural India for their efforts in conserving water. Sharda lives in Vijaypura, a small, conservative village in Lalitpur district. The village had been largely ignored and suffered from severe water scarcity. But Sharda’s determination to give her children a better life led to the revival of a 13-km-long river. The Barua river has since become the primary source of water for the village.
The Barua River originates from the Karenga River and joins the Jamini River. It was on the verge of drying up due to incessant mining activities until Sharda intervened. Sharda held the first ‘paani panchayat’ in 2021. The women decided to move against the mining of the river. They won the support of the gram panchayat. The governmental support kept the illegal private miners at bay as the women cleared the river and the surrounding area of mining residue. They used rocks and sand to make a check dam on the river and planted trees on the river bank. The project began in 2020 and the river was ‘inaugurated’ in June last year. Sharda’s determination and the dedication of all the Jal Sahelis led to an entire village’s revival.
Her journey as a ‘water warrior’ began in 2020 when members of the NGO Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan visited her village. Parmarth has been working to mitigate the water crisis in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh since 1996. They advised Sharda that she should become a Jal Saheli and mobilise more women to join the cause if she wanted to do anything about the water scarcity in her village. Those who take up the role are trained by Parmath to conserve ponds, help build a network of check dams and undertake rainwater harvesting to recharge wells. They are also guided on how to collaborate with authorities or pressurise them to install water pumps where needed. https://theprint.in/features/this-veiled-jal-saheli-her-all-women-team-revived-a-river-their-village-is-now-thriving/1419896/ (05 March 2023)
Rohan Chakravarty illustration on impact of unsustainable, illegal sand mining on aquatic eco-system in Chambal river. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/green-humour-by-rohan-chakravarty-on-sand-mining-of-indias-river-banks/article66535589.ece (24 Feb. 2023)
Manipur Thoubal turns muddy amid water crisis A statement issued by Ningombam Ideal Youth Club, Thoubal on Saturday said quarrying activities using heavy machinery have been going on unabated resulting in mud flowing in the river. When people are reeling under severe crisis as all other water sources have dried up in winter, the river remaining unfit for daily use is a huge setback, it added. According to sources, the powerful people with connections are behind the excessive quarrying activities in the Thoubal River extracting stones and sand from the riverbed by using heavy machineries and vehicles. They alleged that the government officials turned a blind eye to those powerful people engaging in quarrying at the river despite the Manipur High Court putting a total ban on unauthorised stone quarry and sand mining in all rivers of the state in order to prevent river pollution. https://thefrontiermanipur.com/thoubal-river-turns-muddy-amid-water-crisis-in-manipur/ (23 Jan. 2023)
Haryana Sand mafia attacks police team in Panipat The sand mining mafia attacked a police team in the Bapoli area on March 03 night. Hit by a tractor-trailer laden with sand, Bapoli SHO SI Mahabir Singh’s official vehicle overturned on the road. The smashed door of the official vehicle of the Bapoli SHO. The SHO and his team members had a narrow escape as they jumped from the vehicle in the adjoining fields. However, the driver, SPO Nahar Singh, got stuck in the vehicle and was later pulled out of the overturned vehicle.
The driver of the tractor-trailer laden with sand — identified as Monu, alias Gulri, of Hathwala village in Samalkha — tried to flee the spot but was nabbed by the police. The police have registered a case against him under Sections 186, 427, 332, 353 and 307 of the IPC and Section 21(4) of the Mining Act on the complaint of the Bapoli SHO. A probe into the matter has been started.
In his complaint, SHO Mahabir said he along with his team — Head Constables Sandeep and Tejpal, and SPOs Dharambir and Nahar Singh — were patrolling the area in the official vehicle, when they spotted a tractor-trailer laden with sand coming from the Khojkipur village side. “We signalled the driver to stop. As he saw us, he smashed the tractor into the SHO’s official vehicle, overturning it. Driver Nahar got stuck in the vehicle and was pulled out by Sandeep immediately,” he added.
Inspector Sumit Kumar, Mining Department, said no sand mine was officially operational from Gumthala in Karnal to Samalkha in Panipat along the Yamuna banks. However, sand was available along the Yamuna banks in all villages and some locals were involved in the illegal activity, he added. “Action has been initiated against the offenders, but they have a big nexus,” the inspector added. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/criminal-nexus-sand-mafia-attacks-police-team-in-panipat-484982 (04 March 2023)
Himachal Pradesh IIT-Roorkee suggests steps to protect Chakki bridge The IIT-Roorkee has suggested a number of remedial measures for the protection of interstate Chakki bridge on the Pathankot-Mandi NH at Kandwal in Nurpur. Soil erosion around two pillars of the bridge due to flash floods in August last year had endangered the interstate bridge. The NHAI spent lakhs on raising an embankment around those pillars, but it was washed away after around a month on September 25 last year. Since then, the bridge is closed for heavy vehicles, including buses and trucks. The NHAI had sought technical guidance to protect the bridge. A team of IIT-Roorkee experts inspected the bridge on December 5 last year.
Sources maintain that illegal and unscientific riverbed mining has caused damage to the foundation of some pillars of the bridge, but the state authorities have failed to check that menace.
The IIT experts have reportedly suggested the construction of a 335-metre-long and 12-metre-high wall on the riverbed with three-metre-deep foundation downstream the damaged Chakki railway bridge. It also suggested the construction of a 10-metre-wide concrete platform upstream and a 10-metre-wide and one-metre-high scour apron alongside it to reduce the impact of flash floods. The construction of another two-metre-high wall at a distance of 150 metre from the scour apron having three-metre-deep foundation would also be constructed. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/iit-roorkee-suggests-steps-to-protect-chakki-bridge-483995 (01 March 2023)
Bihar Bridge on Kamla river broken into half An old bridge on Kamla river was broken into half during passage of a sand-laden truck at Kusheshwar, Darbhanga. It was the only bridge connecting four districts Madhubani, Saharsa, Khagaria, Samastipur and about 10 panchayats. Following local people’s demand, the CM Nitish Kumar in 2021 had laid the foundation stone of a new bridge here and promised to strengthen the old bridge. But neither the old bridge was strengthened nor the construction work of the new bridge has started. https://kashishnews.com/news/the-truck-was-passing-with-sand-then-the-bridge-broke-and-diveided-into-two-parts-286775 (16 Jan. 2023)
Punjab State to be divided into 100 clusters for mining sand, gravel Official sources in the government said all the 100 clusters of mines would be auctioned in phases. By the end of this fiscal, the government proposes to have 50 public mines operational. At present, there are seven clusters that were made by the previous Congress government in 2018. The new policy aims at reducing the prices of sand and gravel for the common man and removing supply constraints to ease its availability in the market.
The draft mining policy, though not a part of the Cabinet agenda, was presented before the Council of Ministers at a meeting on Feb. 28. The Cabinet was reportedly briefed about how the government proposes to implement its policy in March. This draft policy will be brought before the Cabinet for its approval later. Under the new mining policy, the government proposes to open 150 public mines across the state, where a common man can go and get sand excavated for his personal need and load it on tractor-trailers. Other than the public mines, there will be several other quarries where commercial users can buy sand and gravel. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/state-to-be-divided-into-100-clusters-for-mining-sand-gravel-484008 (01 March 2023)
Odisha Minor mineral sector riddled with illegalities While the illegal mining of sand does not affect the State’s revenue collection, it has had an adverse impact on local ecology and riparian community. “There is no monitoring by pollution control board, considering sand mining poses a threat to the embankment, [leads to] loss of revenue, [is a] violation of mining plan and standard environment clearance conditions, and damages the riparian ecology,” Shankar Pani, an environmental lawyer, notes.
Mining of minor minerals is allowed only if the District Survey Report (DSR) is finalised. Balasore is yet to get its DSR. While there is a provision for mining of sand using only manual method, the use of mechanical methods with earthmovers — in violation of mining plan, environmental clearance and consent to operate conditions — is visible all across the State.
The two major rivers flowing through Balasore — Subarnarekha and Burhabalanga — have suffered much because of it. According to Mr. Chavan, the Burhabalanga’s riverbed is particularly worse in the Dahapada and Balighat areas. “Sand acts as a sponge in riverbed. Machines were used to extract sand beyond its permissible limit. If sand is taken out, river water will flow down at much faster rate. In the event of flood, there is every possibility of water entering newer areas,” he explains.
An expert committee comprising scientists from CPCB, SPCB, IIT-ISM, Dhanbad, appointed by NGT also pointed to this problem, saying, “Sand mining takes place over a stretch of about 26.1 km of Subarnarekha River. About 12.3-km stretch lies on the inter-State boundary of Odisha-West Bengal and remaining stretch of about 13.8 km is in Odisha. Extensive erosion has been noticed of the river.” https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/minor-mineral-sector-in-odisha-riddled-with-illegalities/article66493823.ece (11 Feb. 2023)
Maharashtra MP earned as sand mafia excavated river beds in Nagpur If city police sources are to be believed, records unearthed by multiple teams of crime branch under CP Amitesh Kumar showed illegal excavation from a major part of Nagpur and its suburbs had left the river beds depleted. Over the years, 19 sand ghats of Nagpur district and one (Chandmara ghat) in Bhandara were excavated through electronic transit pass (eTP) isued from Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh for which the revenues were deposited with the local administration. City police crime branch team of investigation officer assistant PI Mayur Chourasiya, under DCP Chinmay Pandit and addl CP Navinchandra Reddy have so far found 872 such dubious eTPs through which around 1,160 brass sand worth more than Rs 60 lakh was stolen.
Around 31 sand racketeers were booked while 30 arrested. One of the many kingpins, Narendra Pimple, had managed to get anticipatory bail order. Around 28 trucks have been seized too. Sources in the investigation team said that Pimple, son of a zilla parishad teacher, owns property to the tune of crores in his name and others in the family. According to a senior official, city police had shared its findings about money laundering with the Enforcement Directorate (ED). “Several top names in government and politics are involved in sand mafia. A politician in the government controlled the sand mafia racket from behind the curtains for several years and made a fortune,” said a police source. It’s also learnt that several racketeers have queued up for anticipatory bails. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/mp-earned-as-sand-mafia-excavated-river-beds-in-ngp/articleshow/95038275.cms (23 Oct 2022)
Tamil Nadu NGT orders inspection into DMK MLA’s quarry The NGT on Wednesday (March 01) ordered inspections at a stone crushing unit owned by DMK MLA Palaniyandi in Karur district for expanding operations without necessary environmental clearances. The order came in response to a petition alleging the unit was engaged in illicit mining of rough stone without obtaining mandatory clearance under the EIA notification 2006 and, thereby, violating the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The petition also said the unit owned by Mr. Palaniyandi, an MLA from Srirangam constituency, expanded the stone crushing unit from its existing capacity without the consent of the SPCB. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ngt-orders-inspection-into-dmk-mlas-quarry-in-karur-for-flouting-environmental-norms/article66577323.ece (03 March 2023)
W Bengal Sand Pit Warriors The Telegraph reports on a riverine community’s determination to save its environs. https://www.telegraphindia.com/culture/sand-pit-warriors-a-report-on-a-riverine-communitys-determination-to-save-its-environs/cid/1875091 (17 Jul 2022)
Mangaluru Police commissioner takes measures to curb illegal mining Kuldeep Kumar R Jain who took over charge as the police commissioner of Mangaluru on February 24, has taken vast measures to control criminal activities and illegal sand mining. Panambur station police took into custody two sand laden trucks which were illegally transporting sand at MRPL overpass on February 25 and another two trucks illegally carrying 12-15 tonne sand on Tannirbhavi road on February 26. Kankanady police station inspector took into custody a tipper lorry and two units of sand and empty tipper at Adam Kudru on February 28. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1055630 (01 March 2023)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
Uttar Pradesh About 20% of the 6908 ha Haiderpur wetland in UP is encroached upon as per a report by the Wildlife Institute of India based on satellite maps. 1300 ha has been encroached upon between 2021 and 2023. In 2015-16, 562 ha of wetland was farmed. https://www.pressreader.com/india/hindustan-times-west-up/20230227/281659669238484 (27 Feb. 2023)
A three-member panel — constituted by the UP government — visited the Haiderpur wetland inside the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Muzaffarnagar on Wednesday (March 01). The team’s visit comes in the wake of authorities carrying out an anti-encroachment drive to free the wetland, a recognised Ramsar site, of the wheat crops sown by nearby villagers in violation of norms. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/state-panel-inspects-haiderpur-wetland-for-encroachment-water-management-101677760665675.html (02 March 2023)
The President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu graced the launch of Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch The Rain -2023 and presented the Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023 in New Delhi on March 4, 2023. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1904145 (04 March 2023)
An approach to Pond and lake rejuvenation by Ramveery Tanvar, known as pond man of India. https://www.counterview.in/2023/03/an-approach-to-lakepond-restoration-by.html (3 Mar 2023)
Tamil Nadu Vinayagar Lake benefitting over 3,000 farmers While several environmental conservatives and NGOs are working towards reviving such dried-up water bodies and water sources, an organisation called Mega Foundations through its 136th Waterbody Restoration Project has successfully revived the Vinayagar Lake in Thanjavur. https://www.firstpost.com/india/vinayagar-lake-in-tamil-nadus-thanjavur-is-alive-once-again-benefitting-over-3000-farmers-12213692.html (27 Feb. 2023)
Punjab PPCB has refused consent for operation: Govt tells HC The factory in question, Malbros International Pvt Ltd, an alcohol-making unit in Mansurwal village of Zira in Ferozepur, is facing protests from the locals, which started on July 24 over allegations of adverse environmental impact of the unit in the area. As state failed to pacify the protesters, the high court had to intervene from time to time and also ordered that ₹20 crore be deposited with the high court as factory was claiming that it had all the clearances, but facing losses due to protests.
On Dec 23, the govt had also constituted four committees to examine various aspects with regard to issues raised by protesters sitting on a dharna & to amicably resolve the issue. The process is still underway. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/zira-factory-row-ppcb-has-refused-consent-for-operation-punjab-tells-high-court-101677603828598.html (28 Feb. 2023)
Listing the deficiencies, the PPCB’s letter states that the factory has not shown that it has “permission to utilise 1,000 kilo litres per day of canal water”, it has also not given details of the “operation of the effluent treatment plant”, nor has the factory given any details of the “utilisation of 2.5 per cent of the total project cost for enterprise social commitment”. The letter further states that the factory has not given any record of the “occupational health surveillance of the workers” or about the development of a green belt. The ‘water balance details” given by the factory about the utilisation of the water in its various processes are also “not in order”, the letter adds. https://theprint.in/india/punjab-govt-maintains-silence-in-hc-on-lack-of-written-orders-backing-zira-factory-closure/1408092/ (01 March 2023)
Bengaluru 90% city lakes encroached, polluted An indepth study of 40 lakes from Bengaluru have found that 95% of them had been encroached upon, 85% had experienced solid waste dumping and 80% had seen sewage water flow freely into them. The study, part of a working paper published by the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) found that citizen groups, NGOs and Residents Welfare Associations played a crucial role in preserving and rejuvenation of lakes. The study titled “How Civic Groups are Meeting the Challenges of Saving Bengaluru Lakes: A study is co-authored by Dr Manasi S. It mentioned the petition filed by Environment Support Group to stop privatisation of lakes. At least 43 lake protection groups are active, the researcher noted, rising from just 3 such groups during 2007-09. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/wake-up-bengaluru-study-finds-95-of-city-lakes-encroached-upon-polluted-1197576.html (06 March 2023)
A typical strategy adopted by the officials and land sharks in cities to encroach on lakes in cities. Slowly, the lake disappears first on ground and then from documents and maps. An Example from Bangalore. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/focus-bengaluru/bengaluru-lake-intact-in-revenue-maps-sold-1197566.html (06 March 2023)
Citizens want custody of Agara lake to be handed back to the forest department as BBMP fails to maintain it. The lake was transferred to the BBMP from the forest department in 2019. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/lakes-bengaluru-citizens-custody-agara-lake-back-forest-department-bbmp-fails-8479479/ (05 March 2023)
The quality of treated water is not being monitored completely or accurately at several major STP, managed by BWSSB, according to a study by Action Aid India. At least 13 STPs were found to not be monitoring important water quality parameters. The study was conducted between November and December 2022 and the report was submitted to BWSSB on February 20, 2023, according to Raghavendra Pachhapur, senior project lead at Action Aid India.
This raises questions about the water quality in the city’s lakes, as many lakes are going to see an influx of treated sewage. Bengaluru generates 1440 mld of sewage every year, which is approximately 30% of the entire state’s sewage generation. Several reports have already pointed out that there are serious issues in the city’s sewage management. An insufficient and inefficient sewerage network often results in untreated water entering lakes in the city.
Over the years, BWSSB has ramped up its efforts and increased the number of STPs around Bengaluru. Currently, the agency manages 33 STPs, which it claims can treat up to 1535 mld of wastewater. Most of these STPs are located close to lakes in the Koramangala-Challaghatta, Vrishabhawathi and Hebbal valleys. https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/after-two-decades-new-bridge-parallel-to-delhis-iconic-loha-pul-to-be-opened-this-year-article-98431521 (06 March 2023)
The BWSSB’s rule suggesting installation of sub-metering systems in apartment complexes for water supply has seen minimal implementation three years since being published. Despite a significant reduction of almost 30 per cent in water usage observed in apartment complexes that implemented sub-metering systems, many are still reluctant to adopt the technology due to lack of guidance and government support. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/bengaluru-three-years-on-apartments-slow-to-adopt-bwssb-s-sub-metering-system-1197570.html (06 March 2023)
NGT expressed displeasure over the non-implementation of its 2016 Bellandur lake encroachment order by Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), and the State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authority. The NGT on May 4, 2016 barred constructions on Bellandur Lake wetlands. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/green-caution/articleshow/98255574.cms (27 Feb. 2023)
Mangaluru Thumbe dam water-level falls With the drastic decline in inflow of water to the Thumbe vented dam, which supplies water to Mangaluru city, there is a strong possibility of the city facing a shortage of water in case the catchment area fails to get pre-monsoon shower. The Mayor has appealed to citizens to make judicious use of drinking water supplied to the city and not to use water for washing vehicles and watering plants in the garden. He has directed officials to prepare a ward-wise action plan for the supply of water without any problem.
The Thumbe vented dam, built across River Nethravathi, supplies water to Mangaluru, Ullal, Mulki and other villages en route to the city. Though it’s a vented dam, with a capacity to store water upto seven metres, water is stored only upto a height of six metres. The water-level in the dam on Friday had reached 5.95 metres. About 160 MLD (million litres per day) of water is pumped to Mangaluru from Thumbe. The water level in the Thumbe dam had come down to 3.48 metres as against the maximum storage capacity of six metres in 2019. Water cannot be lifted if the water level falls below 1.5 metres in the dam. Without any inflow of water to the dam, stored water will be sufficient for 48 days worth of water supply to Mangaluru city. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/mangaluru/thumbe-dam-water-level-falls-mangaluru-warned-of-shortage-1197154.html (04 March 2023)
Chennai High concentration of heavy metals in gw A study found high concentrations of heavy metals like cadmium and nickel in groundwater in around 45 locations in Chennai. The study on groundwater contamination was conducted in pre and post-monsoon periods in 2022. The study found that in groundwater samples collected from 45 locations in Greater Chennai city, the presence of cadmium and nickel was 15 and seven times higher than what is prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The study found that the presence of lead was high in 25 locations, while that of nickel in higher volume was present in 13 locations. Cadmium and chromium were also present above the normal values in the groundwater samples collected from some city areas. Another critical factor that the study revealed was that lacklustre Metrowater supply had led to increased household expenditure for water. People have to spend money to buy water purifiers due to contaminated groundwater, while the poor collection of Metrowater leads to buying bottled and canned water from informal sources. The study also highlighted that a poor man spends one out of every 10 rupees he earns on drinking water. This drops to 50 paise and 25 paise among the lower middle-income groups. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2023-02-08-chennai-groundwater-high-heavy-metal-concentration-detected (08 Feb. 2023)
Work on construction of new storm-water drains in south Chennai to begin next week. The new storm-water drain projects have been proposed in three zones of Alandur, Perungudi and Sholinganallur; the project expected to mitigate the problem of flooding in Kannagi Nagar. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/work-on-construction-of-new-storm-water-drains-in-south-chennai-to-begin-next-week/article66581095.ece (04 March 2023)
Kochi Pipe bursts; water supply to be hit for 2 days High pressure pumping coupled with aged pipelines triggered a pipe burst causing a stretch of the Palarivattom-Vytilla PWD Road near Pallippady Junction to cave in besides inundating scores of shops along the area on Tuesday around 10 a.m. A 700-mm branch pipeline of the 1,200-mm main pipeline carrying water from Aluva to Thammanam pumping station was the one that burst. Consequently, drinking water supply to not less than 20 divisions falling under the Kerala Water Authority’s (KWA) Kaloor and Vytilla sub divisions will be disrupted at least for the next two days.
The primo pipelines drawn through the area are at least 35-40 years old and hence are fragile unlike the new ductile iron pipes. Our primary assessment is that these two factors could have contributed to the pipe burst,” said a senior official of KWA. KWA, however, has not shut down pumping from Aluva but has merely closed the valve on the pipeline concerned at Samskara Junction. Even then it took about an hour for the water flow to stop.
Road along the area of the pipe burst has suffered considerable damage and is left with a gaping crater facilitating a clear sight of the pipe beneath. A 15-metre stretch of the road has developed cracks and remain jumbled up reminiscent of a place hit by an earthquake. About 8 shops in the area suffered damage after a little more than ankle-high water and mud got swept inside. Considerable water swept through the by-lanes in the area forming water pools in front of many houses leaving the families surprised. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/pipe-bursts-palarivattom-vytilla-pwd-road-water-supply-to-20-divisions-hit-for-two-days/article66563069.ece (28 Feb. 2023)
Kozhikode The drinking water pipeline was damaged at Kuttikattoor in Kozhikode on Monday morning (March 06). The broken pipeline from Koolimadu pump house is one of the major pipelines which distributes drinking water to Kozhikode city. A huge pothole was formed on the road when the pipeline burst. The incident may hit water distribution in many major centres such as the Kozhikode Government Medical College Hospital. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/pipeline-carrying-drinking-water-to-kozhikode-city-bursts-road-collapses-1.8367363 2/7 (06 March 2023)
Odisha Groundwater not meeting quality standard in at least 26 cities Groundwater quality of at least 26 major cities and towns including Bhubaneswar does not meet drinking water specifications at many quality monitoring stations, an SPCB assessment has revealed. A comparison of ground water quality with drinking water specifications, carried out by SPCB across 90 locations in 30 districts during April-May and October-November last year, shows parameters like pH, total hardness, calcium, magnesium, chloride, nitrate, iron, ammoncal nitrogen, lead, fluoride in quality monitoring stations of at least 26 major cities and towns do not conform to the prescribed limits. The statistics has been shared with the Water Resources department for necessary action, said one of the Board official. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2023/mar/05/groundwater-not-meeting-quality-standard-in-at-least-odisha-26-cities-2553337.html (05 March 2023)
Ghaziabad 33% drinking water samples have faecal contamination Around a third of Ghaziabad’s potable water is adulterated with faecal contamination, district officials said on Sunday (March 05), citing the findings of spot tests of water samples collected from 359 sources such as residential societies, schools and commercial complexes in the past two months. This puts residents of Ghaziabad at risk of acquiring infections such as typhoid, jaundice and cholera, said Dr Rakesh Gupta, district surveillance officer.
Officials said health department teams collected the samples from different government and private establishments in January and February, and while 238 samples were satisfactory, 121 tested positive for contamination. “The presence of faecal coliform or other type of faecal contamination could be due to mixing of sewerage or broken sewer lines or failure to disinfect water source,” said Gupta. The samples were tested at the district health laboratory in Ghaziabad. Gupta said the test reports have been sent to the Ghaziabad Police, who may take legal action against offenders for not preventing contamination. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/33-drinking-water-samples-in-ghaziabad-have-faecal-contamination-101678042518397.html (06 March 2023)
Haryana Baniyani villagers forced to buy potable water Residents of Baniyani, the native village of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, are grappling with lack of basic amenities such as clean drinking water, sewerage, sanitation and proper disposal of waste water and garbage etc. Villagers lament that they have to buy potable water from private suppliers as brackish water is supplied by the government, which is unfit for drinking.“Most of the people buy water campers from private suppliers on a regular basis. Some residents who cannot afford these have to fetch drinking water from hand pumps installed at a distance of 2-3 km from the village,” says Sahab Singh, a resident of Baniyani. “Khattar had promised that the villagers will get RO water for drinking, but we get brackish water, which is undrinkable,” he remarks. Another villager, Manoj, says canal water is supplied to the local waterworks for a limited period. Rest of the time, brackish groundwater taken out through tubewells is supplied. Narrating their tale of woes, the village residents say they are living in a pitiable condition due to the lack of a good sewerage system, sanitation and proper disposal of waste water and garbage. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/baniyani-villagers-forced-to-buy-potable-water-485514 (06 March 2023)
Karnataka Udupi: Drainage water in well – Residents suffer vomitting, diarrhea Residents of the Sharada Kalyana Mantapa area are experiencing vomiting and diarrhea after consuming well water that has been contaminated by drainage water. During the repair work of the road that connects Beedinagudde from Sharada Kalyana Mantapa, JCB machines dug up the concrete road causing damage to the drainage pipes. As a result, the drainage water mixed with the well water of nearby areas, leading to contamination. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1056894 (05 March 2023)
JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY
Karnataka JJM promises water for all, but state’s progress is a mere trickle The number of deaths and people falling sick after drinking contaminated water is increasing across Karnataka, requiring a hard look at the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). A recent survey shows that 42% of the rural households in the state do not have fully functional tap water connection. The efforts at maintenance and sustainability of the created infrastructure has taken a back seat. Even though 67% of villages get their water from groundwater, but only 5% of them have a recharge structure, says the survey done between Feb and April 2022. The number of water testing facilities is also far lower than required. Only 6% of the villages had chlorination facility to decontaminate water and 68% of samples tested did not have residual chlorine. Water testing labs of all 30 districts did not have capacity to test more than 20-30 samples and had issues of human resources, reagents etc. Only 28% of household reported that their water was tested at least once in last one and in some districts none were tested.
– Only 35% of villages had villages water ans sanitation committees or pani samities, essential requirement and only 16% currently manage the operation and maintenance of water supply. 56% of villages did not have sklled manpower for operation adn maintenance of water supply.
– 34% of households face water scarcity at any time of the year, 66% of them do not have alternative facilities to fall back on. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/karnataka-jal-jeevan-mission-promises-water-for-all-but-state-s-progress-is-a-mere-trickle-1197283.html (04 March 2023)
The Karnataka state is going to miss the March 2024 deadline of covering all rural households with functional tap water connection, by at least one year. There is also issue of sustainability of the water supply. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/jal-jeevan-mission-karnataka-govt-to-miss-deadline-likely-to-stretch-to-2025/articleshow/98437343.cms (6 Mar 2023)
Maharashtra The water reservoir levels across most of the projects across the state have gone down dramatically. In Maharashtra, there are 3,267 dams, and the average water level is 66.6%, compared to 70.23% the previous year on the same day. According to data provided by the Water Resource Department of the Government of Maharashtra, the water level of all dams in the Pune region was 76.08% on March 5, last year, while it is 63.41% this year. Even though the city received more rain than usual in 2022, the dam water level has begun to drop as the temperature in the city has already touched 40 degrees Celsius. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/water-levels-in-maharashtra-dams-are-down-as-compared-to-2022-101678041711826.html (06 March 2023)
Yavatmal An Artificial Neural Network (ANN) underground pipeline burst like a volcano in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district on Saturday. Road cracks opened after the pipeline burst. A woman riding on a scooty was injured in the incident. Earlier in January this, a portion of Bengaluru’s Ittamadu Main Road caved in. According to reports, the road crumbled as a result of nearby smart city construction. A cyclist was hurt in the accident’s impact. https://www.timesnownews.com/india/watch-road-cracks-open-after-underground-water-pipe-bursts-in-maharashtras-yavatmal-1-injured-article-98417421 (04 March 2023)
SANDRP Blog District wise Winter 2023 Rainfall in India
In the just concluded Winter Season 2023 (January 1 2023 to February 28 2023), as per India Meteorological Department (IMD), India received 45% below Normal Rainfall (it was 44% above normal rainfall in winter 2022 and 32% below normal rainfall in winter 2021). This is coming on top of 6.5% above normal in SW Monsoon 2022 and 19% above normal rainfall in Post Monsoon season 2022. https://sandrp.in/2023/03/01/district-wise-winter-2023-rainfall-in-india/ (01 March 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Scanty rain in Feb adds to worries For the seventh time in the past eight years, the hill state witnessed a deficit rainfall in February. The deficiency on six occasions, including this year (71 per cent), has been 60 per cent or more, deficit was 87% (minimum rainfall since 2016) in 2020 and 81% in 2021. “It’s a worrying trend. It could be due to less active western disturbances that cause rain in winters,” said Surender Paul, Director, Meteorological Centre, Shimla. He said the deficit rain this time would pinch more as snowfall had been sparse too. Only in 2019 did the state saw excess rainfall (91% above normal) in Feb since 2016. Even in first two weeks of March, forecast is for slim chances of rain. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/scanty-rain-in-february-adds-to-hps-worries-484613 (03 March 2023)
Report Hottest Feb recorded since 1901 India reported its warmest February since proper record-keeping began 1901, recording the highest average maximum temperature (29. 5 degrees C) across the country, even as IMD on Tuesday (Feb. 28) signalled more bitter days ahead with a forecast of hotter than normal summer in many parts of India during the March-May period. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-feels-the-heat-hottest-february-recorded-since-1901/articleshow/98320212.cms (01 March 2023)
The weather department has said that India experienced the hottest February this year since 1877. During a virtual press briefing held Tuesday, SC Bhan, head of Hydromet & Agromet Advisory Services, IMD, said a combination of factors like the lack of winter rain, clear skies, and anticyclones led to the rise in temperatures. Bhan added that maximum temperatures went past the normal range by 8-9 degree Celsius in February. Notably, heat stress owing to the high temperatures has already affected the standing crops of wheat as well as mango orchards. The department of agriculture has issued advisories for farmers to control the stress. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/india-experienced-warmest-february-this-year-since-1877-imd-8472052/ (01 Feb. 2023)
Gujarat As on Dec 31 2022 Gujarat had 9712 MW (23% of national wind capacity, 4907 MW in Kutch alone, 1948 MW in Jamnagar) of wind energy and 8640 MW (13.6% of national solar capacity, 1584 MW in rooftop solar) solar power installed capacity. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/4-5-lakh-households-in-gujarat-generate-1584-megawatt-of-solar-power/98329027 (01 March 2023)
Australia Rooftop solar set to surpass coal as largest power generator Roof top solar is set to surpass coal as Australia’s largest source of power in April 2023, with that capacity going past 20 000 MW. Australia has over 3.4 million roof top solar systems, with over 300 000 added each year. 3000 MW will be added in roof top solar in 2023 and 3200 MW in 2024. It took just four years to reach from 10000 MW to 20000 MW. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/rooftop-solar-set-to-surpass-coal-as-australias-largest-power-generator/98332945 (01 March 2023)
ACADEMIC USING STRAWMAN ARGUMENT This comes under the category of Strawman’s argument: Create a false case and then demolish it to discredit some effort. It also has misleading statement creating completely false impression. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/twinkle-twinkle/if-you-talk-to-adivasis-themselves-they-dont-usually-think-of-themselves-or-their-culture-as-particularly-endangered/ (5 Mar 2023)
Report Problems with Compensatory Afforestation Critics say compensatory afforestation had legitimised clearing of forests, and see it as an example of ‘greenwashing’. More than Rs 66,000 crore has been realised in the Central fund through different levies prescribed in that law. A substantial part of this — nearly Rs 55,000 crore — has already been sent to the state governments. But as the accompanying investigative report in The Indian Express shows, much of this money remains locked in state government funds.
The land that is made available for afforestation usually cannot be used for any other purpose, and is often extremely unsuitable for growing plantations. Activists working on the ground complain that often the plantations are monocultures, meaning they contain only one species of plants. A key element of any forest is biodiversity. Forest officials on the other hand point to biotic pressures, referring to the challenge the plantations face from nearby human habitations and cattle. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-climate/unused-funds-unsuitable-land-act-as-red-light-before-green-shoots-8479659/ (06 March 2023)
The tribal panel upset with Environment Ministry over forest rights. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/explained-why-is-the-tribal-panel-upset-with-environment-ministry-over-forest-rights/article66581584.ece (05 March 2023)
Karnataka NGT’s tightrope walk on Yadadri Thermal Power Plant The Yaradri case offers an interesting insight into the modus operandi of environmental crimes and the enabling environment created by the system. Needless to say, a systemic change is what is needed – but to achieve that, we need to transform our foundational belief that environmental conservation is an impediment to economic growth. https://thewire.in/environment/yadadri-thermal-power-plant-ngt (27 Feb. 2023)
Study Glacial melt in Indus raises water concerns Increased glacial melt in the Indus river basin due to global warming is likely to raise strategic concerns over the sharing of water in the region, a new research article in the Current Science journal has indicated. Except for the Upper Indus basin (high mountain ranges of the Hindukush, Karakoram and Himalaya (HKH) all other sub-basins show a substantial rate of glacier mass loss, which can affect future water availability, creating a need for relooking into some of the water-sharing practices in the basin, the paper has concluded.
This is mainly because mass loss in the Upper Indus basin is low and glacier stored water is high, indicating longer sustainability of glacier melt water compared to other sub-basins in the Himalayas posing new strategic concerns, the paper said. The impact of climate change is not uniform across the transboundary river basin, which is of strategic importance to India, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, covering an area of around 1 million sq km and supporting a population over of 268 million people, according to the study. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/glacial-melt-in-indus-raises-water-concerns-101678094974028.html (06 March 2023)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
Australia Interesting debate still continues about role of Wivenhoe dam in Brisbane floods of 2011. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-05/brisbane-2011-floods-engineers-dam-management-wivenhoe/102038192 (05 March 2023)
Africa ‘Rivers in the sky’ shape African climate East Africa is much drier than other tropical land regions, including the Amazon and Congo rainforests. The geography of East Africa was always thought to make the region dry and susceptible to drought, but the precise mechanism has been elusive until now. This research demonstrates the east to west river valleys are a crucial factor in the low annual rainfall. Dr. Callum Munday, from the REACH program at Oxford’s Smith School, who led the study, explains, “Normally, when we think of valleys and water, we think of the rivers that flow along the ground. In East Africa, deep valleys, such as the Turkana Valley, channel strong winds and create invisible rivers in the sky. These invisible rivers carry millions of tons of water vapor, the key ingredient for rainfall.”
– Co-author Professor Richard Washington explains, “The experiments show the valleys affect climate on a continental scale. It can’t rain equally everywhere, and the valleys help to sustain high rainfall in the Congo basin, while leaving East Africa prone to drought.”
– The Horn of Africa to the east of the valleys is currently experiencing its longest and most severe drought on record. While the valleys do not affect year-to-year variability in rainfall, Professor Washington notes “by creating a setting where the rainfall is so unusually low to start with, the valleys make East Africa much more drought prone.” https://phys.org/news/2023-03-rivers-sky-african-climate.html (02 March 2023)
Compiled by SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also see: DRP News Bulletin 27 Feb. 2023 & DRP News Bulletin 20 Feb. 2023
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2 thoughts on “DRP NB 060323: India’s regulators blind to increasing threats in Himalayas”
The “development genie” is out of the bottle for quite a long time and the way it is working, is neither sustainable nor authentic. Despite having all the technology and men behind them, our development models are bringing in more damages to the Himalayas and millions whose lives (and livelihood) depend on it.
(For India where both forest and land data are currently dubious, this goal is near impossible as was maintaining 6 feet distance from each other during covid)