(Feature Image: Graph showing annual growth in hydro power capacity in MW. Source: Rivers Without Boundaries, April 01, 2023)
The annual Renewable Statistics 2023 report from IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) says that globally, only 1.6% was added to the hydropower capacity in 2022, that too two thirds in non-democratic China. The capacity added in rest of the world outside China in 2022 was 7.3 GW, lowest figure in last 15 years. Similarly 99% of additional capacity added in pump storage projects in 2022 was in China. The report from IRENA also says that 97% of hydropower finance comes from public or government sources and private sector seems to have little enthusiasm for this sector. The projections for future painted in the report is no better. This is broadly in line with our lead story in DRP News Bulletin last week (dated March 27 2023) painting bleak future of large hydropower projects.
Report Renewable capacity statistics 2023 According to the International Renewable Energy Agency released annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2023, By the end of 2022, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 3372 Gigawatt (GW), with annual addition by a record 295 GW or by 9.6 %. 83 per cent of all power capacity added last year was produced by renewables. China was the biggest contributor, adding 141 GW.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) power accounted for an increase of 191 GW (+22%), wind energy -75 GW (+9 per cent), while hydropower added only 20.5GW (+1.6%). In 2022 the pace of solar power growth was 14 times faster than that of hydropower. By 2025 solar energy will, likely, replace hydro as the type of RE generation with the highest installed capacity worldwide, as it already happened in China.
China installed 13.2 GW of conventional hydropower (60 % of the world’s total), and it also has added 9.4 GW of pumped storage (99% of the world’s total PSH additions), which is an important breakthrough. In 2022 China expanded its conventional hydropower capacity by 3.7% and PSH by 25%. Most of additions in conventional hydro came from completion of dams in Yangtze river basin. With new construction sites available only high in Tibet, future dams (if those projects go ahead) will be more costly and require more state subsidies.
The rest of the world installed 7.3GW (+0.8%) – the lowest figure in 15 years (which still may be increased slightly as governments supply additional data to IRENA). Canada comes second adding 800 MW(+1%), which includes completion of the 685 MW Keeyask hydroelectric station on lower Nelson River by Manitoba Hydro, as well as Kemano T2 project by Rio Tinto, which supports aluminum smelters. Canadian government envision hydropower expansion by only 3 GW all the way till 2050. Ethiopia, adding 750 MW, occupies the 3rd place, likely, due to several units of Great Ethiopian Renascence Dam (GERD) on the Nile River. Pakistan and Laos share the 4th place with 690MW added by each. Both countries have highly unsustainable patterns of hydropower development associated with serious environmental destruction, deprivation of local communities and debt stress. In both cases hydropower development is heavily dependent on Chinese financing and construction companies. In Pakistan China Silk Road Fund financed Karot Hydropower station was completed. . Other countries adding more than 100 MW of hydropower capacity (in descending order) include Chile (482), Zambia (460), India(438), Brazil (388), Portugal (346), Viet Nam(275), Nepal (227), Austria (221),Georgia(113), Afghanistan (102). 20 more countries added between 10 and 100MW each. According to IRENA’s data Costa Rica decreased capacity by 48MW, while Republic of Korea by 29 MW of conventional and 80 MW of pumped storage hydro, reasons for that unknown.
A new sober report from the IRENA “Global landscape of renewable energy finance demonstrates that development of hydropower is by 97% financed from public funds and evokes no enthusiasm from private investors. It also summarizes hydropower woes: “For hydropower, particularly plants with capacity greater than 10 MW, many of the locations available for construction are already utilized, especially in countries that rely heavily on hydropower, with potential new areas usually located in less accessible locations, making construction significantly more expensive. In addition, the construction of new large hydropower plants may encounter opposition from local populations and environmental groups. Comprehensive mitigation measures may be needed to manage possible negative social and environmental impacts.”
All in all, to stick to global warming limit of 1.5 centigrades the world has to triple pace of RE development, but obviously this should be focused on most affordable and easy to expand technologies and overall better design of energy systems. Moreover, as the last IPCC report shows it should be done along with preservation and restoration of 30-50% of natural ecosystems. Therefore, new hydropower, no longer could be a significant contributor to energy transition due to social and environmental impacts, lack of scalable technology, increasing costs and obvious vulnerability to climate change. https://www.transrivers.org/2023/3832/, https://www.irena.org/Publications/2023/Mar/Renewable-capacity-statistics-2023 (Mar 2023)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
Report Hydropower projects vulnerable to warming climate & increased precipitation “I have written several letters to the MoEF&CC and its Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley Projects in the last 15 years. We had been demanding robust climate risk assessment studies before sanctioning hydro projects and dams, especially in the fragile Himalayan regions. There is a need for a course correction in policies governing hydro projects. There should be studies to determine the area’s existing disaster potential before these projects. Also, on what additional disaster elements the new projects can add in such areas post construction and operations,” Himanshu Thakkar, Coordinator at the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), told Mongabay-India.
– The IIT Gandhinagar study also advocated advanced early warning systems (EWS) to prepare the HEPs better to counter adverse conditions. However, Thakkar from SANDRP pointed out that these are not new recommendations. The delay happens at the execution level. “EWS was long recommended by the Ravi Chopra Committee in 2014 and even earlier. But even after that, in most HEPs, it remains non-existent, which could have saved many lives. Be it the February 2021 Chamoli floods or many other floods at HEPs in Himalayan states, the lack of EWS led to more losses. Even today, hardly any HEPs in India have advanced EWS systems with credible, transparent and accountable governance. Moreover, all information related to the EWS must be mandatorily and promptly in the public domain for everyone to know and to fix accountability,” Thakkar added. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/03/climate-change-making-hydropower-projects-vulnerable/ (29 March 2023)
Tamil Nadu EAC defers proposed hydro project in Kalakkad tiger reserve EAC has deferred a hydroelectric project proposed by Tangedco inside the Kanyakumari wildlife sanctuary and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. A central committee is likely to visit Kanyakumari to assess the project. Tangedco has proposed to build a 1,500 MW pumped storage hydroelectric project spread over 40.72 hectares by using Kodayar dam as the upper reservoir, which is a masonry gravity dam, and PWD’s Pechiparai dam as the lower reservoir. A 10.95 km tunnel will be built linking both reservoirs to enable power generation. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2023/mar/30/centre-defers-proposed-hydro-power-project-inside-kalakkad-tiger-reserve-2560848.html (30 March 2023)
Arunachal Pradesh Centre to notify Dibang tiger reserve The Union environment ministry will soon notify the Dibang Tiger Reserve, officials from National Tiger Conservation Authority confirmed, a development that makes it even less likely that the deferred Etalin hydropower project will be developed in the way it was originally envisaged — but the indigenous Idu Mishmi people, who were opposed to the hydropower project aren’t very keen on the tiger reserve either. Once notified, Dibang will be India’s first high altitude tiger reserve and the largest in terms of area, at 4149 sq km, the environment ministry said. The Idu Mishmi are worried that naming Dibang a tiger reserve will restrict their access to the reserve.
– Ambika Aiyadurai in her 2016 research paper titled: ‘Tigers are Our Brothers’: Understanding Human-Nature Relations in the Mishmi Hills, Northeast India’ which has been cited by NTCA also in its 2018 tiger estimation report, said Mishmi people living on the Sino-India border claim tigers to be their brothers and take credit for tiger protection as they observe taboos against hunting tigers. “There is no need to declare Dibang Tiger Reserve. Local people conserve tigers and other biodiversity here. There is no need for the state to interfere in conservation techniques. All big cats are sacred to us. They cannot be killed unless in self-defense and if a tiger is killed then it is as huge a sin as killing a human being. I think the benefits of declaring Namdapha and Kamlang as tiger reserves need to be studied well before considering notifying Dibang. It can go against local sentiment and way of life here,” said Anoko Mega, environmentalist and member of Idu Mishmi community. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-likely-to-soon-notify-dibang-tiger-reserve-101680030771657-amp.html (29 March 2023)
Sikkim Report of the visit to Landslide site of March 26 2023 near Teesta V project in Sikkim by Praful Rao and his group.
https://savethehills.blogspot.com/2023/03/savethehills-survey-of-landslides-near.html (29 March 2023)
Jammu & Kashmir CAG flags slow development of hydro projects “The main objective of hydro policy for small hydro project/mini hydro projects for expeditious development of available hydro power of Jammu and Kashmir was not achieved. Out of 374 identified project sites with power generation capacity of 1,725.53 MWs, only 10 projects with capacity of 79.75 MWs (five per cent) had been commissioned with time overrun ranging between four months and over seven years,” the CAG said in its report tabled in the parliament on Tuesday (March 28).
It said 3 projects with capacity of 12 MWs were selling power outside the UT thereby defeating the objective of hydro policy for providing solution to the energy problems in remote and hilly areas of the Union Territory, where the power demand was estimated at 4,217 MW (21,887 MUs) in 2021-22. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/centres-auditor-cag-red-flags-slow-development-of-jammu-and-kashmir-hydro-power-projects-3907262 (30 Mar 2023)
J&K makes annual losses of Rs 3500 cr in power purchase, when most of the power it purchases is produced within J&K. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/losses-suffered-by-j-k-on-power-purchases-exceed-more-than-rs-3500-cr-annually-chief-secretary/99026590 (27 Mar 2023)
Himachal Pradesh State govt to bring open policy to attract private sector investment in hydropower sector. HP CM claimed that Parvati-II, Tidong-I, Shelty-Masrang, and Lambadag projects will finish, while Renukaji Dam, Chanju-III, Deothal Chanju, Suni Dam, and Dugar projects to start this year. He expects World Bank loan of Rs 2000 cr. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/open-policy-to-bring-privavte-money-into-himachal-pradeshs-hydro-power-projects/99026157 (27 March 2023)
Uttarakhand Search for Meaningful Futures As the tide of visiting tourists rises and the construction of large-scale hydroelectric projects gets underway, “I wish we had more control” becomes a commonly heard refrain in the Tons Valley. Things change in days around here, not years. And the local tussle to domesticate these powerful external forces continues even as men and their aspirations are swept up and transformed into a new reality. By Ritodhi Chakraborty and Mayank Shah https://thebastion.co.in/politics-and/environment/conservation-and-development/tourism-hydropower-climate-change-and-the-search-for-meaningful-futures-in-uttarakhand/ (27 March 2023)
Kerala KSEB mull joint venture with THDCIL for hydel projects The state govt and the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) are pressing ahead with a proposal to form a joint venture company (JVC) with THDC India Ltd. (THDCIL) for taking up new hydroelectric power projects, but the plan, reportedly, has also sparked concern and scepticism in KSEB circles. The JVC will conceptualise, implement, operate and maintain hydropower projects within Kerala, according to a draft memorandum of understanding drawn up by the KSEB planning wing. Equity in the JVC would be held by the Kerala government, THDCIL (formerly the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd.), and the KSEB in a 15:45:40 ratio, respectively. As per the plan, the JVC would be incorporated as a public limited company. Each party would be eligible for energy generated from the JVC-built plants in proportion to its equity holding. The Kerala government will be eligible for 15% of the total generated energy as ‘free power.’ The KSEB will have the right of first refusal on the generated power.
– The department has proposed joint ventures with central public sector companies on the assumption that the JVs would help it obtain statutory clearances quickly and commission the projects on time. The KSEB has already inked an MoU with THDCIL for preparing a detailed project report for two pumped storage projects (PSP) in Idukki district. The MoU, once executed, would initially be for a period of five years, with an in-built provision for extensions by mutual agreement. Big hydel projects on the KSEB list include the 800 MW Idukki Golden Jubilee Power House Project, the 300 MW Moozhiyar Phase-II, the 240 MW Letchmi, and the 210 MW Pooyamkutty project. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/state-govt-kseb-mull-joint-venture-with-thdcil-for-hydel-projects/article66668181.ece (27 March 2023)
Meeting India’s rising peak power demand Peak power demand in India touched 216 GW in April 2022, is likely to touch 230 GW in April 2023. Since gestation period for installation of renewable energy projects is 12-18 months, if we had planned in last April, we may not have had to depend on imported fossil fuels to bridge the peak demand supply gap. Peak power demand was in Sept 2021, moved to April 2022. Also it moved from 8-9 pm to 2-3 pm.
– When in June 2022 peak demand of 211.86 GW was met, 68% of power was supplied from coal, 26% from renewables and hydro and only 2% from gas. Only 13% of the installed gas based power capacity of 24.8 GW was operated. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/meeting-indias-rising-peak-power-demand-is-there-a-long-term-solution/99057216 (28 March 2023)
साउथ एशियन नेटवर्क ऑफ डैम्स, रिवर्स एंड पीपुल्स के संयोजक हिमांशु ठक्कर ने कहा कि दुनियाभर के मौसम विभाग इस साल अलनीनो वर्ष होने की आशंका जता रहे हैं। ऐसे में सामान्य से कम बारिश की संभावना रहती है। अलनीनो वर्ष में बेहद सतर्क रहने की जरूरत है। हमें अपने स्टोरेज को बचाने और बहुत सावधानी से इस्तेमाल करने की जरूरत है। खासकर गर्मियों के दौरान इस पानी का इस्तेमाल सिंचाई के लिए बिल्कुल न किया जाए। https://www.bhaskar.com/national/news/83-of-countrys-reservoirs-full-64-have-more-water-than-10-year-average-131101108.html (30 March 2023)
Odisha Summer tensions over sinking Hirakud levels “Two years later (in 2018), the Centre constituted the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal which got its second extension after the expiry of its tenure on March 11 last. In the last 25 sessions of the tribunal, the hearing could not begin since the common information format was not set. The tribunal is set to commence its field visits to the two states next month to expedite the proceedings. However, concerns for Odisha, the lower riparian state, will linger. Besides, history shows that inter-state river water tribunals in India have not succeeded in resolving disputes.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/editorials/2023/mar/29/summer-tensions-over-sinking-hirakud-levels-2560410.html (29 March 2023)
Sardar Sarovar Project SSNNL losses widen by 56% in 2021-22 The state-run Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) incurred losses worth Rs 1,156 crore in the financial year 2021-22, thanks to a dip in the sale of electricity from the Narmada dam and rising expenses. The annual report of the company, tabled during the recently concluded budget session of the Gujarat Assembly, shows a 56 per cent rise in losses as against the Rs 739 crore posted in the previous financial year. The company was set up by the Gujarat government to execute, operate and maintain the Sardar Sarovar Project comprising the dam, canal system and hydropower project. The revenue, which includes an income of Rs 978 crore from operations, dipped by seven per cent to Rs 1,054 crore in 2021-22, while the expenses rose by 18 per cent to Rs 2,211 crore during the same period.
– The biggest hit to the company’s income came as the sale of electricity dropped by 39.5 per cent to Rs 147 crore. The 1,450-MW hydro project on the Narmada dam produced 174.8 crore units of electricity in 2021-22 of which 16 per cent (Gujarat’s share) was sold to Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL). In comparison to the sale of power, SSNNL’s income from the sale of water rose by almost seven per cent to Rs 831 crore.
– Among the expenses that shot up during the year included operation and maintenance of the pumping station, power house and branch canals and distributaries. The electricity cost of SSNNL also rose substantially to Rs 520 crore. The annual report notes that while only 16 per cent of the share of electricity produced by the hydropower project comes to Gujarat and the rest is distributed to Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the state-run SSNNL has been bearing 100 per cent of the entire operations and maintenance cost of the hydropower project. The accumulated losses of the company stood at Rs 6,741 crore as on March 31, 2022. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/power-sale-rise-expenses-ssnnl-8531587/ (01 April 2023)
The Gujarat high court on March 29 2023 directed state authorities to check feasibility of laying pipelines to supply water to four Kutch villages that are on the hillocks adjacent to the Narmada canal. A PIL complained that though the Kutch branch of Narmada canal passes from near villages of Kanthkot, Jadsa, Dhandhro and Trambo of Bhachau taluka, the Narmada and Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpsar Department does not supply the canal water to these villages. PIL sought direction to department to supply water to these villages. The department informed the HC that these four villages are situated on the hills and at a higher altitude – the heights vary from 44 metres to 110 metres from the ground. It is not possible for the department to supply water to these villages. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-high-court-to-state-check-how-kutch-villages-can-get-narmada-water/articleshow/99103129.cms (30 March 2023)
Sardar Sarovar Affected people of Gujarat are still fighting for justice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUAWEg-cmYo (31 March 2023)
Another Modi scheme stalled in less than a year after launch: The sea plan service between Sabarmati river front and Statue of Unity at Kevadiya, inaugurated by PM Modi on Oct 31 2020 has remained stalled since Apr 2021 for being too expensive. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/seaplane-service-to-statue-of-unity-discontinued-in-2021-gujarat-assembly-told-3886370 (23 March 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Fisheries dept seeks end to illegal muck dumping in Bhakra Raising concern over the dwindling fish population, the Bilaspur fisheries department has written to the local administration against illegal muck-dumping in Bhakra dam reservoir and nearby nullahs. On March 25, the fisheries department officials had inspected the spots along the Bhakra reservoir where illegal muck-dumping is done and submitted a report to the district administration. According to the report, the muck from the Kiratpur-Manali highway four-laning work in Bilaspur section is not being dumped at the designated spots. The report states that the muck is being dumped into the reservoir at a number of spots including at Barmana bridge, Bharari, Baloh and Thapna flyover and also into the Gambhur khad, a prominent rivulet that flows through the Bilaspur district.
– Raghunathpura-Mandi Bharari road is being built by the Himachal Pradesh Road and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd and the railways is laying down rail tracks for the Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Beri line. All this will affect the breeding grounds of fish and may result in a drop in total fish production, adds the report. Last month, the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute had blamed muck-dumping in the Bhakra reservoir as one of the main reasons for substantial decrease in fish production over the years.
– According to the department, total annual fish production has dropped from 1492 metric tonnes in 2014 to around 250 metric tonnes in 2022, affecting over 3,000 local families. Bilaspur-based Fourlane Visthapit and Prabahavit Samiti (FVPS) has written to the district mining department to measure the quantity of muck dumped along the Bhakra reservoir. “Illegal muck-dumping is not only killing the fish in the Bhakra reservoir but has even stopped the natural flow of at least 20 nullahs. The NHAI has dumped debris right where the culverts are, thereby blocking the natural flow of nullahs,” said FVPS general secretary Madan Sharma. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/hp-fisheries-dept-seeks-end-to-illegal-muck-dumping-in-bhakra/articleshow/99104408.cms (30 March 2023)
Polavaram Project Cost put at Rs 47,725.74 cr at 2017-18 price level: Jal Shakti Minister The Centre on March 27 2023 said in Rajya Sabha that the Revised Cost Committee (RCC) constituted by it had revised the cost of the Polavaram Irrigation Project (PIP) to be Rs 29,027.95 crore at 2013-14 price level and Rs 47,725.74 crore at 2017-18 price level, in March 2020. As per the Ministry of Finance approval of 2016, the Government of India is to provide 100% of the remaining cost of the irrigation component of the project only for the period starting from April 1, 2014.
– “In February, 2019, the second revised cost estimate of PIP was accepted by the Advisory Committee on Irrigation, Flood Control and Multipurpose Projects of the Jal Shakti Ministry, at an estimated cost of Rs 55,548.87 crore at 2017-18 price level. Subsequently, in March 2020, the Revised Cost Committee (RCC) constituted by the Government of India recommended the revised cost of PIP to be Rs 29,027.95 crore at 2013-14 price level and Rs 47,725.74 crore at 2017-18 price-level, the minister said. “The reimbursement is being made from time to time. So far, a sum of Rs 13,463.21 crore has been reimbursed by the Centre to AP,’’ he said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2023/mar/28/polavaram-cost-put-at-rs-4772574-croreat-2017-18-price-level-jal-shakti-minister-2560227.html (28 March 2023)
A swansong for Dhone boats of Bison hills in Godavari The Konda Reddi and Koya tribes, which are set to be displaced from the Polavaram project submergence areas, have to abandon their traditional boats as there is no river near the place of rehabilitation
“Our village has the highest number of four Dhones in the two panchayats. By next monsoon, we have to abandon the boats which have been the real breadwinners of our families since generations. We are being rehabilitated to Buttayagudem. We will go away from our lifeline, the Godavari,” says Mr. Bojji Reddy. “What will I do with the boat in Buttayagudem where there is no river? I know nothing other than fishing. I am clueless as to how will I earn my livelihood in the rehabilitation colony,” says Mr. Bojji Reddi.
The next summer will be a swansong for the fleet of less than two dozen Dhones that are now in operation in the Godavari. All of them are crafted and owned by Konda Reddi and Koya tribes living in the Papikonda hill range. The fleet is now engaged in fishing between Ippuru and Gonduru range, where every habitation shares an association with Dhones.
V.R. Puram ZPTC Valla Ranga Reddy puts it “The irony of the Polavaram project reflects in the case of Dhone as the traditional boat has not been considered for the compensation package. No authority can deny the fact that the boat guarantees livelihood.” The curious case of the compensation package is that even a date palm tree gets ₹90. But, a Dhone doesn’t deserve the compensation. What happens if the tribes abandon the Dhones? Mr. Ranga Reddy replies, “Probably, the boats will be left to perish in the Godavari. Our association with Dhones will be a thing of past.” https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/a-swansong-for-dhone-boats-of-bison-hills-in-godavari-of-andhra-pradesh/article66304240.ece (26 Dec. 2022)
Madhya Pradesh CWC team to visit Karam dam in April A team from the Central Water Commission (CWC) is expected to visit Karam Dam site in Dhar district in the first week of April. The team will inquire about the reasons for the damage to the dam. Experts of CWC will give opinion about how to make it again and work on the design.
– After the incident, 11 officers and employees have been suspended and the contractor has been blacklisted due to damage to the dam. However, the responsibility of rebuilding the dam will remain with the same contractor. On the other hand, the process for construction of canals has not begun. In such a situation, it is now being told by the Water Resources Department that the report of the Central Water Commission team will be important for taking initiative for dam construction. https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/karam-dam-leakage-case-central-water-commission-team-to-visit-karam-dam-in-april (28 March 2023)
Punjab CWC has approved prefeasibility report to build a Rs 500 Cr rubber dam on the confluence of Ravi and Unj river at Makoda Pattan in Gurdaspur to stop and divert the excess water of around 20000 cusecs in non-monsoon season water flowing into Pakistan. The site if 2.5 km upstream of the border. In monsoon 3-4 lakh cusecs also flows away at times. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/punjab/pathankot/news/india-will-stop-the-water-going-to-pakistan-by-building-a-rubber-dam-in-gurdaspur-with-a-cost-of-rs-500-crore-131088932.html (27 March 2023)
INTERLINKING OF RIVERS
On April 5, 2023 there will be a meeting of UP and MP officials to decide about the terms of the work of project monitoring firms to be appointed from private sector.
INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES
Mahadayi Water Dispute Not politics alone, but ecology as well On February 13 2023 the Supreme Court told Karnataka that it could not go ahead with construction activities on the Kalasa and Bhandura nullahs of the Mhadei river without obtaining necessary forest and environment permissions. The court essentially upheld the 2018 verdict of the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal which gives 97 percent of the flow of the river to Goa and 5.32 tmc to Karnataka and Maharashtra.
– The total length of the Mhadei river (it joins iconic Mandovi river in Goa) is 111 km with 35 km in Karnataka and the remaining in Goa. The river has a catchment area of 2,032 sq km, with 1,580 sq km in Goa, 375 sq km in Karnataka and 77 sq km in Maharashtra. The water availability in the Karnataka catchment area is 32 tmc, in Maharashtra 7.21 tmc and the remaining 148 tmc is in Goa.
– During the hearing of the Tribunal, Rajendra Kerkar, who deposed as an expert witness on environment, ecology and forest, said the water requirement for environment flow was around 50 tmc (preferred) and not less than 28 tmc. He was the only one who presented a study on environmental flows. Kerkar was, however, hard-pressed for an answer when the tribunal questioned if any study had been done to ascertain the effect on the environment by diversion of 72 tmc by Goa for irrigation through various projects yet to be implemented. In the end, Kerkar’s arguments of environmental flows required in the river were rejected for want of a scientific approach and lack of data. Kerkar made it amply clear that he did not agree with the findings of the tribunal. “The yield in the Mhadei is less than 100 tmc and the tribunal overestimated the total water in the river to favour Karnataka. Mhadei is a west flowing river and old formulae was used to calculate the yield. The Inglis formula used by the tribunal was developed in 1947 since rainfall and runoff data were not available.” Kerkar said transfer of water from the Mhadei to the Malaprabha would intensify the man-wildlife conflict. “Trans-basin transfer of water will destroy the natural flow coming in the direction of the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, while transfer of water from the Bhandura will affect the Bhimgad sanctuary.”
– The DPR of Karnataka projects cleared by CWC on Dec 29 2022 envisages construction of one dam each across the Haltara, Kalasa and Bhandura tributaries. Water from the Haltara dam will be transferred to the Kalasa dam through an interconnecting gravity canal. And from the Kalasa dam a second gravity canal will divert the water to the Malaprabha river. From the Bhandura, water will flow along a gravity canal to another tributary of the Malaprabha river. These three dams and interconnecting canals will have a capacity to transfer 7.56 tmc, but water diversion will be restricted to that permitted by the tribunal. The total land required for these projects is 731 hectares. Of this, 499 hectares is forest land, most of which will be submerged. While the Bhandura project falls within the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary, the first two projects lie on the border of the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary. Water will be diverted during the monsoon season and during the non-monsoon months water will be allowed to flow downstream. https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/spotlight/mhadei-sharing-not-politics-alone-but-ecology-as-well/ (29 March 2023)
RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS
Bihar Local bodies to manage ferry ghats State legislative assembly on March 28 2023 passed Bihar Naukaghat Bandobast evam Prabandhan (Bihar Ferry Ghat Settlement and Management) Bill, 2023, vesting panchayat and urban local bodies with power to settle, control, regulate and manage the ferry ghats across rivers and channels, besides settling them with private entities. The passage of the 2023 Bill has annulled the 138-year-old Bengal Ferry Act, 1885, under whose provisions the ferry ghats were earlier settled with private entities by the DMs involving COs concerned to collect revenue under the overall control of the state revenue and land reforms department (RLRD). Big and small boats operate from ferry ghats to transport people, animals, cattle and goods across rivers and channels.
– RLRD minister Alok Mehta said, “The aim is to decentralise the entire process of regulation of the ferry ghats. It is also in tune with the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution that empowers three-tier panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) and urban local bodies.”
Accordingly, the settlement, control, regulation and management of the ferry ghats would be done by the chief executive officers of the panchayats and urban local bodies. It will add up to the revenue base of these bodies. They will also be involved in revenue collection, as per the rules framed by the government. The Bill warrants that boatmen register their boats to be used in the ferry service. Their loading capacity will be clearly defined, and the time schedule of the ferry service will also be fixed. Besides, the ferry ghats and boats will have life-saving devices to address the safety concerns of passengers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/now-local-bodies-to-manage-ferry-ghats/articleshow/99076581.cms (29 March 2023)
Haryana Farmers allege discharge of nuclear waste water in Bhakra canal The villagers and farm leaders of Fatehabad district are up in arms against the discharge of underground water from the upcoming Gorakhpur nuclear power plant site into the Bhakra Main Line (BML) canal. The villagers — who gave up their land for the setting up of the project — claim that the water being released by the nuclear plant was harmful, especially as it was being used for drinking purposes — allegations that have been denied vehemently by authorities and officials of the concerned nuclear power plant.
According to the villagers, the water being released from the Gorakhpur plant was absolutely salty in nature, which in turn was affecting the quality of the canal water in which it was getting mixed. The authorities of the nuclear power plant have termed the apprehensions of the villagers as baseless, claiming that simple underground water was being discharged in the canal with prior approval from officials concerned.
A bunch of local farmers from Fatehabad also threatened to start a stir if the discharge of salty water was not stopped at the earliest. The residents of village Gorakhpur (Fatehabad) also allege that no development works have taken place in the village as promised at the time of acquisition of land for the project a few years back. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/harmful-saline-water-from-gorakhpur-nuclear-plant-mixing-with-bhakra-canal-water-claim-fatehabad-villagers-officials-deny-8533421/ (03 April 2023)
Tamil Nadu Farmers seek water in 17 canals to save crops Farmers and functionaries of their associations stressed the need to release water in 17 canals to save cash crops, at the monthly grievance day meeting held at the collector’s office on Friday (March 31). Ayilai Sivasuriyan, district secretary of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, expressed concern that banana trees raised on hundreds of acres were about to wither, so were pulses and summer paddy crops as there was not enough water to irrigate them. He appealed to the district collector to release water in all 17 canals including Uyyakondan and New and Old Kattalai Mettu Vaickal. N Veerasekaran, state spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Sangam, said 160 farmers have been waiting to get power supply for their borewells after remitting more than Rs 3 lakh under the tatkal scheme. The government should give preference to farmers while allocating power connection under free power supply scheme, he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/farmers-seek-water-in-17-canals-to-save-crops/articleshow/99160809.cms (01 April 2023)
Gomti How cities swallow rivers Venkatesh Dutta While working on the older Corona satellite pictures of Lucknow, I was impressed by the number of rivers that the city used to have in the early 1970s. A large network of streams is visible in satellite pictures connected with the Gomti river. There are big ponds — sometimes more than 100 hectares, holding water throughout the year.
– As I looked at recent satellite pictures, I was disappointed to see that many of these rivers and ponds had disappeared due to the development of roads, colonies and shopping complexes. Apart from the Gomti, eight rivers used to flow through Lucknow, namely, the Raith, Behta, Kukrail, Bakh, Nagwa, Akraddi, Kadu and Sai. Out of these, four have disappeared in the past 50 years because houses, colonies and roads have been built on their beds. And three rivers are known as nalas or drains. https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/column/living-rivers/how-cities-swallow-rivers/
Report Green maps show changes While the recent changes in cities are visible, mostly there is no validated record of how they came about or what has gone missing — such is the topsy-turvy style in which urban spaces have been evolving in India. But what if it were possible to plot the crazy paths that burgeoning cities take? Could there, for instance, be a map which not only shows what currently exists but what was also once there? Is it possible to freeze-frame cities so that people know what they have and also learn from the past?
– Such an effort has in fact been underway for some time. Green maps of Jaipur and Lucknow have recently been put into circulation. These are cities with much history, culture and natural resources. One is on the Gomti river and in the heart of the Gangetic plains, the other borders the desert in Rajasthan. They are geographically apart but equally caught up in cycles of change. The green maps of the two cities provide an opportunity to pause and think. We can see in these simple but unique maps how Jaipur and Lucknow have come about over hundreds of years with ecological and locational challenges addressed over generations. The maps highlight important landmarks, heritage, greenery, traditional water systems and so on. These get juxtaposed with the teeming present and the challenges that rapid urbanization poses.
– Five other cities have been covered — Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Dehradun. The maps capture current realities, but while that is easy enough to document, their real value is in their tapping into history, community knowledge, environmental expertise, traditions and urban choices made over generations. Behind this thoughtful initiative is a husband-and-wife team of landscape architects — Geeta Wahi Dua and Brijender Singh Dua who have dedicated themselves to a practice which espouses a balance between design and local ecology in the hope of making urban spaces sustainable.
– Despite being well qualified and not short of commercial opportunities, especially since they are based in Delhi, they have instead channelized their skills, energy and resources into the Landscape Foundation India from where these maps have come. They also publish the LA Journal, a quarterly, which addresses issues of sustainability and balance about which they feel their profession should be concerned. https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/cover-story/cityscape-tracking/ (29 March 2023)
Pune Low oxygen levels in rivers put aquatic life at risk According to the CPCB report on ‘Polluted river stretches for restoration of water quality- 2022’, Maharashtra has 55 polluted river stretches, which is the highest number in the country. Every alternate year, the report is released. The CPCB monitored the water quality of these rivers at 156 locations in 2019 and 2021 and found that 147 locations on 55 rivers were found non-complying with the prescribed water quality criteria concerning BOD. The rivers include Mula, Mula-Mutha, and Mutha from Pune.
Recently, the NGT started hearing of the Krishna river case, in which hundreds of fish were found dead alongside the river basin allegedly due to the water pollution near Sangli. Earlier, similar incidents were experienced in the Pune district as well, especially at the Indrayani river in Pimpri-Chinchwad where hundreds of fish were found dead during summer. “The work is in progress, and we are hoping that the proposed 11 STPs in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) area will get activated by 2025. It will benefit the river on large scale,” said Pratap Jagtap, sub-regional officer, MPCB. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/pune-rivers-dissolved-oxygen-below-standard-55-polluted-river-stretches-in-maharashtra-cpcb-report-101680368681954.html (01 April 2023)
Chennai Central Buckingham Canal to get a makeover The govt has sanctioned ₹1,281.88 crore for the restoration of Buckingham Canal and its associated drains and the major drains of the Adyar and the Cooum to ensure a comprehensive restoration of waterways in the city. The Water Resources Department officials said the 2.7-km stretch of the Buckingham Canal from Sivananda Salai to Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai has been chosen for the pilot project. The canal runs for 7.21-km in the central parts of the city covering areas such as Chepauk, Triplicane and Mylapore. “About 5,000 encroachments will be removed along the 2.7-km stretch and the evicted occupants will be rehabilitated as part of the restoration project. A total of 22,000 encroachments have been identified in the Buckingham Canal,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/central-buckingham-canal-to-get-a-makeover/article66688717.ece (01 April 2023)
BRAHMAPUTRA Arunachal Pradesh Committee objects to soil dumping on riverbank The Lichi-Cher Ranganadi Project Affected Area Management Committee has strongly objected to the indiscriminate dumping of soil and debris on the right bank of the Panior river, “in the area from Potin to Possa,” by the highway authority. It expressed apprehension that the dumped soil would have serious environmental impact on the downstream areas “as it will result in siltation in the low-lying areas, affecting Lichi, Par Lichi, Upper Sher, Lower Sher, Komaseki, Upper Jumi and Bada villages in Kimin circle.”
The committee stated that “heavy siltation will make the villages vulnerable to flashfloods, soil erosion, which may destroy human habitations and agriculture fields, causing untold miseries to the dwellers.” It further stated that “the dumped soil will be carried to Ranganadi (Panior) river in large-scale during monsoon season, and thus will pollute the water,” and urged the ADC to intervene and coordinate with the authorities concerned to remove the debris from the riverbank near the dam area within a month, failing which, it said, it would launch a democratic movement to have its demand met. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/03/28/committee-objects-to-soil-dumping-on-riverbank/ (28 March 2023)
KRISHNA Karnataka Stretches of Tunga, Bhadra, Tungabhadra rivers highly polluted: Minister -CPCB has identified stretches along Shivamogga on the banks of the Tunga, Bhadravathi-Holehonnur on the banks of Bhadra and Kudli-Mylara and Ullanur-Hochihalli stretches on the banks of Tungabhadra highly as polluted, Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti Bishweswar Tudu told the Rajya Sabha. The minister also said under the centrally sponsored scheme of the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), the Jal Shakti Ministry has sanctioned Rs 14.61 crore and sewage treatment capacity of 34.12 MLD in Shivamogga, Bhadravati, Davangere and Harihara has been created. “As per the latest CPCB report published in November 2022, a total of 311 polluted river stretches have been identified on 279 rivers in the country,” the minister said. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/stretches-of-tunga-bhadra-tungabhadra-rivers-highly-polluted-minister-1204188.html (28 March 2023)
SUTLEJ Himachal Pradesh Struggling With Mountains of Waste In a mountainous landscape, the dumping of waste on slopes or riverbeds means that it ultimately flows down into rivers and streams. People overwhelmingly rely on fresh – surface and ground – water for both their lives and livelihoods: drinking, bathing, cooking, farming. Water contaminated by waste has resulted in various illnesses for Himachal communities living near dumping sites, and contamination of air (due to burning) and soil pollution is another serious health as well as ecological concern.
The risk of rubbish flowing into Neugal khad, the stream next to the site which is a part of Neugal River and a tributary of the Beas river, is particularly serious, as it feeds into more than 100 water supply schemes in the Palampur and Sullah areas. Two other tributaries of the Beas, Bhiral Khud and Mol Khud, have also been affected by garbage dumping, which the IPH department uses for water supply in lower areas of Palampur. Two other waste treatment plants under the jurisdiction of the Palampur MC have similarly been abandoned with “no efforts” made to upgrade them. https://www.himdhara.org/2023/03/24/its-more-difficult-to-live-struggling-with-mountains-of-waste-in-himachal-pradesh/ (24 March 2023)
Punjab Activists marched for 19 Sundays to save Buddha Nullah The first phase of their marches, or as they were called ‘padyatras’, started on November 20 last year and concluded on March 19. The entire stretch, covered in 20 marches, was divided in three parts — from Koomkalan to Jamalpur where biodiversity is still alive; from Jamalpur to Bachan Singh Marg; and from Bachan Singh Marg to Wallipur. While many NGOs, PPCB representatives and school and college students also joined the march on several Sundays, TOI talks to the frequent walkers — the activists who did not miss a single march and braved the cold weather, dense fog and other hurdles to spread awareness about the waterbody.
The man behind these marches in 74-year-old Colonel Chander Mohan Lakhanpal (retd), who says his only aim was to make those residing beyond the municipal corporation limits talk about Buddha Nullah. He said, “Buddha Nullah starts at Koomkalan where it is clean, but the moment it enters the city the colour turns grey and then dark black.” He said the government was trying to clean it within the MC limits but wondered about the fate of the water body beyond that area. Calling the Rs 650 crore Buddha Dariya Rejuvenation Project a “mere eyewash”, the retired armyman says the nullah is still polluting the Satluj river at the confluence.
A resident of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar at Pakhowal Road, Col Lakhanpal has been working for the environment for about 15 years now. When asked about fatigue at his age, he says his worry for the future generation keeps him motivated. “If we can save the water bodies within a few years, then our upcoming generations will be saved otherwise everything will go to waste. So I cannot stop walking and I want the youth to join us.”
Col Lakhanpal’s friend, also from the army, 63-year-old Colonel Jasjit Singh Gill (retd) accompanied him on every single march to save the nullah.Col Gill tells TOI his major worry is encroachments along the water body that is reducing the green cover. A major part of these marches involved starting a dialogue about the nullah with the rural population.
For 15 years, advocate Yogesh Khanna (49) has been working for various social issues. His major concern is also the name of the water body. “That Buddha Dariya is now called Buddha Nullah is really worrying,” he shares. 40-year-old businessman Gurpreet Singh Plaha has also been actively associated with the group and has led several marches. He says the marches helped them find the real reasons behind the pollution, and they can now work on finding the solutions. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/worried-about-future-activists-who-marched-50km-to-save-buddha-nullah/articleshow/99004840.cms (26 March 2023)
GANGA Uttarakhand Rishikesh-Karnaprayag Rail project: CBRI completes probe in 2 districts with ‘cracks’ Since construction work on the railway line started in 2019, nearby villages complained that the noise and the impact made the houses tremble and develop cracks. Some of these areas are also close to the under-construction all-weather Char Dham road, making them all the more vulnerable to construction-triggered damages.
After sustained protests, the government assigned CBRI, an institute which is also a part of the survey team in subsidence-hit Joshimath, to look into the issue last year. While several villages in the four districts have blamed the construction in fragile mountains for cracks in their houses, the damage has been pronounced in Marora village in Rudraprayag. The RVNL, having admitted that the cracks were due to blasting and tunnelling for the under-construction railway line, has paid Rs 20 crore compensation to 60 families here. RVNL officials on Friday (March 31) told TOI that full breakthrough (end-to-end excavation) had been attained on three tunnels: Gular, Narkota-Khankra and Karkota-Jawari bypass. Work is underway on the remaining 16 tunnels. RVNL sources added that the longest rail bridge near Srinagar, with a total length of 460 km, has also been completed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/rishikesh-karnaprayag-rail-project-cbri-completes-probe-in-2-districts-with-cracks/articleshow/99159260.cms (01 April 2023)
डंपिंग जोन से भागीरथी में गिर रही गंदगी Bhagirathi (Ganga) is getting polluted as it comes out of Gangotri due to dumping ground next to the river. अपने मायके गंगोत्री से महज 100 किमी की दूरी पर ही गंगा मैली हो रही है। यहां भागीरथी नदी के ठीक किनारे नगर पालिका सारे शहर का कूड़ा डंप कर रही है। यह कूड़ा सीधे नदी में गिर रहा है। गंगोत्री के बाद पड़ने वाले पहले ही शहर के कई गंदे नाले भी सीधे भागीरथी में गिर रहे हैं। गंगा अपने मुहाने पर ही प्रदूर्षित हो रही है, इसकी चिंता न जिला प्रशासन को है और न पालिका और न गंगा स्वच्छता से जुड़ी राज्य और केंद्र की नमामि गंगे जैसी एजेंसियों को। नगर पालिका का कहना है कि शहर में कहीं भी डंपिंग जोन के लिए जगह नहीं है। यहां क्षमता से अधिक एकत्र कूड़ा अब पहाड़ का रूप ले चुका है। पालिका क्षेत्र से प्रतिदिन 15 टन कूड़ा निकल रहै है। चारधाम यात्रा के दौरान उत्तरकाशी में प्रतिदिन 20 टन कूड़ा जमा होता है।
तिलोथ के समीप कूड़ा निस्तारण केंद्र के निर्माण के लिए प्रशासन ने उत्तरकाशी-लंबगांव रोड पर पालिका को करीब आठ नाली भूमि उपलब्ध कराई थी। पालिका ने 3.12 करोड़ की डीपीआर भी तैयार की थी लेकिन मंजूर 2.58 करोड़ रुपये ही हुए। ढाई करोड़ से भूमि समतलीकरण व सुरक्षा दीवार का निर्माण किया गया। जांच में बजट खर्च में गड़बड़ी सामने आई है जिससे कूड़ा निस्तारण केंद्र की योजना लटकी हुई है। कुछ समय पहले हाईकोर्ट नैनीताल ने कूड़े की समस्या के निदान के लिए एक ई-मेल आईडी करते हुए आने वाली शिकायतों के तत्काल निस्तारण के निर्देश भी दिए थे। क्षेत्र के अमेरिकन पुरी ने बताया कि उन्होंने तांबाखाणी में डंप कूड़े से नदी के प्रदूषित होने के संबंध में इस मेल आईडी पर कई बार शिकायत दर्ज कराई लेकिन कार्रवाई नहीं हो पाई। https://www.amarujala.com/dehradun/gangotri-dham-dirt-falling-in-bhagirathi-river-from-the-dumping-zone-built-on-banks-of-ganga-2023-03-30 (30 March 2023)
YAMUNA Delhi Bela Estate: Hundreds left homeless as DDA bulldozes floodplains Led by women, residents of Bela Estate have been sitting on dharna in their area for almost one year now. They started the dharna on April 2, 2022, demanding rehabilitation. But the fight over rehabilitation has been long and complicated for the hundreds living and farming on the Yamuna floodplains.
Many of the residents of Bela Estate belong to the Mallah community. Mallahs are a notified Scheduled Caste in Delhi who have been living on the banks of Yamuna for generations. An ethnographic Census study of 1961 traces the Mallahs as boatmen and fishermen staying in Bela Estate and Mayur Vihar, among other places, along the Yamuna river. Kamal Lal, who belongs to the Mallah community, said, “Generations of our community have lived in Yamuna Khadar and farmed on these lands. At least 300 families here are Mallahs. Now that the government has snatched away farming, many of our youths are going to cities to work as labourers for little pay.” https://www.newsclick.in/bela-estate-hundreds-left-homeless-farming-comes-halt-dda-bulldozes-yamuna-floodplains (29 March 2023)
The Delhi High Court recently ruled that encroachment on government property cannot be claimed as a fundamental right, and encroachers cannot claim a right to rehabilitation. The court was hearing a plea by slum dwellers of ‘Bela Estate’ on the Yamuna floodplain, seeking rehabilitation after an eviction notice was issued to them by the DDA. The DDA, through the eviction notice, directed them to remove illegal encroachment and vacate the government land.
While dismissing the slum dwellers’ plea, a bench of Justice Gaurang Kanth observed that the petitioner had neither proved the fact that the jhuggi-jhopdi (JJ) clusters in ‘Bela Estate’ were notified by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), nor has it proved that the jhuggis in these clusters were constructed before January 1, 2015. https://www.news18.com/india/encroaching-govt-land-not-a-fundamental-right-encroachers-cant-claim-right-to-rehabilitation-delhi-hc-7433113.html (31 March 2023)
Four bulldozers, two tractors attached with rakers and police arrived for demolitions. Residents were given 15 minutes to clear their homes, before the machines set to work. “We only got an hour. If they had given us at least two or three days, we could have cleared all our things. Gareebon ko hata rahe hain (They are removing the poor),” said Lali (25).
The Bela Estate area is being reclaimed for Asita West, a 200-hectare project and one of the 10 parts of the riverfront project. A senior DDA official said, “On Tuesday (March 28), there were demolitions at three locations. In the past month, there have been demolitions at around 20 locations. We are not concerned with rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is as per DUSIB’s policy for those places that have been identified…” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/demolition-along-yamuna-floodplains-they-are-removing-poor-people/ (29 March 2023)
How 18 drains add to woes of dirty Yamuna Diwan Singh, a Yamuna activist, said, “The city is put endlessly in a spin of expansion, horizontally and vertically. While the city’s civic agencies are busy building infrastructure to treat the existing sewage output, more sewage is added to the existing quantities.” He added that the situation was turning worse as MPD 2041, in its last phase of approval, was further boosting expansion.
According to another report prepared by DPCC in January this year, around 171 MGD of untreated waste water goes into Yamuna. The report stated that the estimated sewage generation in Delhi was around 768 MGD. However, with an installed treatment capacity of 632 MGD and the utilisation capacity of 597 MGD, there was a gap of 171 MGD, or 22.3%. To fill this gap, the report claimed, the total capacity would be increased to 925.5 MGD by December this year. Of the 18 major drains falling into Yamuna, five drains were yet to be tapped, while remaining 13 had been tapped, the report stated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/how-18-drains-add-to-woes-of-dirty-yamuna/articleshow/99020853.cms (27 March 2023)
Uttar Pradesh Frothing in Yamuna happening frequently downstream Gokul barrage in Mathura where devotees in large numbers keep visiting river for holy bath but respective govt departments have taken no action to stop it. (29.03.2023 Video) https://fb.watch/jFs8ligqID/
Govt must do more to save Ganges dolphin Senha MahaleThere are several threats to the dolphin’s population, the biggest being the declining flow in the Ganga due to the erection of dams and barrages. Also, water-intensive agriculture in the basin results in the base flow petering out, leading to fragmentation of their habitats. That apart, industrial and human pollution has also led to degradation of their ecosystem. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/environment/world-aquatic-animal-day-ganges-river-dolphin-10346131.html (01 April 2023)
FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS
Maharashtra Case filed in NGT after dead fish found in Krishna of Sangli district Farmers’ leader Raju Shetti on Monday (March 13) filed a petition in the NGT seeking an investigation into the death of thousands of fish because of contaminated water in the Krishna river between Udgaon village in Shirol taluka and Ankali village in Miraj taluka of Sangli district. Two sugar factories in the district, the Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad Municipal Corporation and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have been named as respondents.
Aquatic life in the Krishna river basin is under crisis as fish are dying due to pollution of river water caused by the untreated discharge of mixed water from industrial estates and sugar mills, and reduction in the flow of water. Sewage is also discharged into the river by the municipal corporation. Shetti, the president of Swabhimani Paksha, the political wing of the farmers’ outfit, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana alleged that the MPCB does not take strict action and only issues showcause notices each time.
Meanwhile, out of 1,139 villages in Sangli district, 73 water samples from 68 villages have been found to be contaminated. The Zilla Parishad administration has issued notices to these villages and has warned them to take action against the pollution or face action themselves. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolhapur/case-filed-in-ngt-after-dead-fish-found-in-krishna-of-sangli-district/articleshow/98646364.cms (15 March 2023)
Death of thousands of fishes in Neera river in Phaltan due to pollution. https://marathi.abplive.com/videos/news/satara-phaltan-neera-river-fish-death-after-pollution-from-the-factories-outlet-straight-to-river-marathi-news-1164863 (03 April 2023)
Karnataka NGT slaps Rs 50cr penalty on irrigation dept for illegal mining Hearing a petition by Sarvabhoum Bagali, the tribunal underscored that the government cannot sidestep the rules laid down by the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification and pulled up the state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) for remaining a mute spectator. Bagali had challenged a work order issued by the Dakshina Kannada District Sand Monitoring Committee for extraction of sand from Adyapady Dam on Phalguni River in Mangaluru taluk and Shamburu Dam on Nethravati river in Bantwal taluk. The work order was given to the Karnataka State Mineral Corporation Limited to extract 14.51 lakh tonnes of sand and sell it commercially and to the government.
A bench of Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member Satyagopal Korlapati noted that the work order explicitly talks of the sale of sand. “The work order itself is very clear that in the garb of dredging and desilting, sand mining is being done,” it said, adding that prior environmental clearance from SEIAA is required. “In spite of the same, the SEIAA remains as a mute spectator.” Moreover, the bench noted that the Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines require the government to prepare a “detailed study” to verify the economic viability and environmental sustainability of the proposed dredging. The NGT said the deputy commissioner’s work orders were in “gross violation” of the rules. “The chief secretary is directed to issue orders to the Collectors to follow all rules and.. to instruct them that desilting/dredging of water bodies/rivers/reservoirs/waterways shall not be permitted without the prior Environmental Clearance when the desilted/dredged material is sold either to the public or for the government projects,” it said. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/karnataka-ngt-slaps-rs-50-cr-penalty-on-irrigation-dept-for-illegal-sand-mining-1203810.html (26 March 2023)
Tamil Nadu Govt announces M-sand policy 2023 The government on Thursday (March 09) announced the M-sand policy 2023 to ensure zero waste quarrying in the State. It is also to prevent damage to river ecosystems by rationalising the use of river sand in a conserved manner. The policy will enable M-sand or crushed sand manufacturing units in the State to become compliant of relevant statutes, rules and regulations and to formalise the sector. The government wants to standardise the procedure for approval of M-sand manufacturing units. It also wants to promote zero-waste mining and quarrying in the State.
As on July 4, 2022, in the State a total of 378 crushed stone sand manufacturing units were functioning, the policy note said. The manufacturing of M-sand involves the crushing of hard rocks, natural gravel and granite waste. The process is similar to generation of river sand by nature. The policy says that all the M-sand sand manufacturers will mandatorily establish a quality testing lab at their crusher premises and randomly check the quality of the sand produced by them every day. A single window portal will be developed and maintained by the Department of Geology and Mining for registration of M-sand units. The implementation of the policy will be reviewed by the Industries, Investment Promotion and Commerce and Department of Geology and Mining in the government. A centralised controlling system will be developed to monitor the activities of the M-sand units, the policy note said. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/real-estate/tn-government-announces-m-sand-policy-2023/article66600837.ece (09 March 2023)
Village committee seeks action on brick kiln operators The Thadagam Valley Protection Committee has sought action against brick kiln operators who allegedly left electric poles in five village panchayats in precarious condition due to illegal mining of red earth. Though the mining and brick kiln making in Chinna Thadagam, Veerapandi, Nanjundapuram, Somaiyampalayam and Pannimadai village panchayats in the Valley are stopped following the intervention of the Madras High Court in June 2021, several electric poles are left on the edges of mining pits. “The committee counted over 120 electric poles that are either situated on edges of mining pits or left on cylindrical pieces of land around them. They can fall in strong wind or rain and can pose a threat to people and wildlife. Tangedco should impose fines on those who have caused the damages,” said S. Ganesh of Thadagam Valley Protection Committee.
According to Mr. Ganesh, there are 22 tribal villages in forest areas of the Valley and power connections to these places are given through these poles. Elephants move through forest peripheries in the Valley as they avoid steep areas. Electric poles that are unstable can endanger elephants, if they fall on them, similar to the electrocution of a tusker at nearby Poochiyur village on Saturday, he said. The committee has made multiple representations to the Forest Department, Tangedco Chairman and other officials concerned about the condition of the electric poles. Welcoming the decision taken by the Madras High Court Judges Justices N. Sathish Kumar and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy to visit the Valley to physically assess the brick earth mined area, the committee hoped that the Judges would take note of the condition of these electric poles too. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/thagadam-valley-protection-committee-seeks-action-on-brick-kiln-operators-who-left-electric-poles-in-precarious-state/article66664477.ece (26 March 2023)
Kerala On May 27, 2021, the NGT Southern Zone passed an order declaring as illegal the mining operations done by a granite quarry operator named M/s Cochin Granites. This NGT order was affirmed by the Supreme Court in appeal (CA 4643/2021) on August 16, 2021 and in review (RP(c) 1285/2021). However, on June 15, 2022, the Kerala High Court stayed the very same NGT order in a writ petition filed by the State of Kerala. On being told that the Kerala High Court has stayed an order of the National Green Tribunal – which was earlier upheld by the Supreme Court- the Top Court recently directed its Registry to communicate its orders to the Registrar General of the High Court. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/hc-stayed-ngt-order-after-it-was-affirmed-by-supreme-court-sc-directs-registry-to-communicate-its-orders-to-kerala-high-court-224906 (28 March 2023)
Uttar Pradesh HC formed panel to check illegal mining in Yamuna Delhi High court on Monday (March 27) directed Delhi Police to constitute a joint task force with Uttar Pradesh (UP) Police to monitor and stop the illegal sand mining in River Yamuna in the Alipur area. The High Court also expressed its concern over rampant illegal sand mining in the river. The court has also called for a further status report. The High Court also directed that the joint task force (JTF) shall regularly monitor the Yamuna bank and ensure to stop illegal sand mining. The court said that the picket shall also be posted to ensure a stop to illegal sand mining. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/court-directs-delhi-up-to-form-joint-task-force-for-illegal-yamuna-sand-mining-3896321 (27 March 2023)
Jammu & Kashmir Lithium Mining in Reasi Like mining and exploration of other minerals, Lithium mining is also responsible for pollution of air, water and soil. The extraction of lithium from its ore is a highly water intensive process and results in mass scale wastage of water. According to one estimate, to extract one ton of lithium, 2.2 million liters of water is needed. Second, lithium’s extraction is done from hard rocks and underground brine reservoirs. So Lithium extraction can result in Joshimath like incidents in Reasi district and the agencies involved in mining should not ignore the environmental aspect. The human resettlement & rehabilitation in the Reasi district is highly sensitive as the majority of the people in Reasi live below poverty line and there is a good population of pastoralists who earn their livelihood by rearing livestock in the meadows and pastures. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/editorial-page/lithium-mining-in-reasi-jk (21 March 2023) Australia looks to India for wide market for lithium export. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/australia-looks-to-india-for-diversified-lithium-exports-market/article66683236.ece (31 March 2023)
Bihar Govt discovers deposits of critical minerals The government is preparing to auction mining rights for minerals such as limestone, vanadium-bearing magnetite ilmenite, magnetite and glauconite that have been discovered in various non-forest areas of the State, Additional Chief Secretary and Mines Commissioner Harjot Kaur Bamhrah said on Thursday (March 30). Explorations near Patalganga in Gaya, parts of Rohtas district and Majos in Jamui district found the presence of millions of tonnes of mineral reserves, according to an official document seen by PTI.
The general exploration (G2 stage) in Jamui’s Majos has found 48.40 million tonnes of magnetite. Preliminary exploration (G3 stage) in Pipradih-Bhurwa block in Rohtas has established 88.38 mt of Glauconite over a 12.46 sq km non-forest area, Ms. Bamhrah said. The State government has also lined up two mines, worth ₹14,048 crore, of glauconite — a common source of potassium in fertilisers, in Pipradih and Chutia-Nauhatta blocks of Rohtas for auction, she said. Besides, the Mines and Geology Department has decided to auction iron ore deposits, worth ₹6,000 crore, in Jamui district, she added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bihar-discovers-deposits-of-critical-minerals-prepares-for-auctioning-mining-rights/article66678684.ece (30 March 2023)
Hyderabad In a tragic incident, a three-year-old boy drowned in a water sump while playing near his house in Petbasheerabad on Friday (March 31). The boy, K.Ankith, son of Hanslal and Kavitha, both construction workers from Bihar and residents of Devaryemjal, is suspected to have been playing alone when he slipped into the water-filled sump near the entrance of his house. https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabad-three-year-old-boy-drowns-in-water-sump-in-petbasheerabad (31 March 2023)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
West Bengal Water, livelihoods dry up for fish farmers of EKW The fish farmers of East Kolkata Wetlands are fast losing their farm water. Once a major breeding spot of fish such as rui, katla, pona, telapiya, tyangra, parshe, bhetki, chitol and galda chingri, the wetlands are drying up mainly due to the diversion of wastewater from Kolkata city to Vidyadhari river. Developed and perfected by humans over the last century, the wetlands serve as natural sewage treatment unit of Kolkata, while also promoting fisheries and vegetable cultivation. The Bantala Canal area on its eastern side receives most of the sewage from the metropolis.
– “When the sewage accumulates at a height of 9 ft, the wetlands that house 200 fish farms receive water for pisciculture. For the fish ponds to benefit, this water level should be maintained at all times of the year,” explained Bantala resident Sudhir Sardar. If the sewage level is above 9 ft at Bantala station, the water flows to the farms. Conversely, if it falls to 8 ft or below, the water will not reach the wetlands.
– Spread over an area of 12,000 hectares, some portions of the wetlands come under the jurisdiction of ward 36 of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, while some are panchayat areas. Several underground canals bring sewage to the wetlands, with the municipal authorities and irrigation department controlling the flow of water from Bantala pumping station. The problem started when the authorities began to redirect water into the Vidyadhari. “Kolkata’s sewage is so toxic that it will destroy the good bacteria in the wetlands. Things do not work the way they did a decade ago. The Pollution Control Board has directed us not to let out untreated water,” an engineer from New Town Kolkata Development Authority said on condition of anonymity. “The sewage from Salt Lake, Rajarhat and New Town surrounding the wetlands flows into three new treatment plants built in New Town. Once treated, the water is let out into Bagjola Canal, which flows into the Vidyadhari,” he explained. The sewage treatment plant at Bantala, which caters to East Kolkata Wetlands, is in a state of disrepair for a decade now. The redirecting of water into Vidhyadhari even during monsoons not only increases the risk of a breach downstream but also flooding in Kolkata city.
– Environmentalist Sourav Chakraborti is convinced that local goons, ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), realtors and the police have formed a nexus. “They are trapping poor farmers by cutting off the water supply, thus forcing them to sell off fish farms to realtors. Old-timers say the real estate syndicate dates back to the 1990s,” Chakraborti said. Putting the blame on both CPM and TMC governments for the poor state of the water body, Chakraborti felt no political leader wants to acknowledge that the wetlands purify sewage. “They just want to encroach upon the entire area because they need money to fund elections.” Undoubtedly, the biggest gainers from dry wetlands are real estate dealers. As water runs out, more and more fish farmers are forced to sell their lowlands to real estate promoters for constructing multi-storied buildings. “These poor people do not understand the significance of wetlands. So, when the realtors offered them jobs and a sum of Rs 6 lakh, they sold off their farms. However, the twist in the tale is that they have not received the money promised, even five years after the land deal,” added Niranjan.
– In 2020, local NGO Laban Hrad Matsyachashi Kalyan Samiti filed a public interest litigation in the Calcutta High Court on the issues faced by fish farmers. Last December, the court ordered demolition of buildings constructed in the area. However, police or municipal authorities are yet to act. “An atmosphere of fear makes many remain silent. Even if they suffer, they refrain from talking about it. I can name three fishermen — Rabi Ghosh, Tapan Pandit and Roga Jasmin — who have been untraceable ever since they approached the police. That is why we moved court on their behalf,” said Sardar. https://odishabytes.com/water-livelihoods-dry-up-for-fish-farmers-of-east-kolkata-wetlands/ (25 March 2023)
Assam HC upholds notification on Deepor Beel WS Gauhati High Court recently upheld the notification issued by state govt declaring an area of 4.1 Sq. K.M. of the water body commonly known as the “Deepor Beel” a Wildlife Sanctuary within the meaning of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The division bench of Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Suman Shyam observed: “It would be pertinent to note here-in that ‘Deepor Beel’ is a permanent fresh water lake located in the south western part of the city of Guwahati. It is the only wetland of international significance in Assam and is included in the list of Ramsar sites w.e.f. 19.08.2002. Apart from being a staging site for the migratory birds, ‘Deepor Beel’ is the only major storm water storage basin for the city of Guwahati. Therefore, preservation and protection of Deepor Beel is a measure in larger public interest for the residents of the Guwahati city.”
– The Court was hearing an intra-court appeal filed by Assam government against the judgment and order dated December 21, 2017 passed by a Single Judge setting aside the notification dated February 21, 2009 issued by the Assam Government under Section 18 (Declaration of sanctuary) and Section 26A(1)(b) (Declaration of area as sanctuary) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 declaring an area of 4.1 Sq. K.M. of the water body in Guwahati known as the “Deepor Beel” to be a Wildlife Sanctuary.
– The impugned notification dated February 21, 2009 issued by the Government was challenged before the single judge bench of the High Court on the ground that the same was issued without following the due process of law and also without taking into account the traditional fishing rights enjoyed by the petitioners. It was further submitted before the single bench that there was a requirement under the law to publish the proclamation issued under Section 21 (Proclamation by Collector) of the Act in the neighbourhood of the declared area which was never done by the authorities. According to the petitioners, mere publication of the proclamation in the newspaper would not be in sufficient compliance of the mandate of Section 21. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/gauhati-high-court-assam-government-notification-deepor-beel-single-bench-ruling-224795 (26 March 2023)
Govt is now looking at conserving and beautifying all natural wetlands and reservoirs across the state. State minister for housing and urban affairs Ashok Singhal on Thursday (March 29) visited Urpad Beel in western Assam’s Goalpara district and took stock of the progress of construction of a footpath and cycling track around the wetland. The project is being implemented under the State Self-Priority Fund for the year 2020-21. The minister also inspected the work of ‘Mission Flood Free Guwahati’ in various water channels of the city including Bharalu, Mora Bharalu, Basistha-Bahini rivers, etc. https://www.eastmojo.com/assam/2023/03/09/to-woo-tourists-assam-to-beautify-wetlands-beyond-guwahati/ (09 March 2023)
Indore Abhilash Khandekar on how a recent idol immersion event in the presence of police has polluted and defiled Sirpur lake in Indore thus wasting hard efforts by Nature Volunteers to keep the Ramsar site clean:-
Yet, if this kind of religious congregations happen and they damage the ecology of lakes in an educated and a modern city like Indore, it is saddening. Also, what is disturbing is the fact this is happening in the Cleanest City of the country which is also expected to keep the water bodies clean. For me it was quite shocking to see the images of the Saturday (March 26) incident at Sirpur. https://newsroom24x7.com/2023/03/28/lake-is-temple-of-environment-abhilash-khandekar/ (28 March 2023)
Karnataka Power plants, shrinking mangroves threaten coastline & livelihoods Karnataka’s 320km long coastlines stretch flanked by the biodiversity hotspot of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is facing an existential threat. The mushrooming of power plants, rapid disappearance of mangrove forests and the coastal wetlands, and pollution have posed serious challenges to the thriving coastline of the state. https://www.deccanherald.com/amp/state/top-karnataka-stories/power-plants-shrinking-mangroves-threaten-ktaka-coastline-and-livelihoods-1205904.html (02 April 2023)
CEEW Study Reusing treated wastewater in irrigation could’ve reduced emissions The study by ‘Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)’ found that reusing treated wastewater in irrigation in India could have reduced GHG emissions by 1.3 million tonnes in 2021. “Our analysis suggests that the available treated wastewater would have irrigated 1.38 Mha in 2021, which would have reduced pumping in 3.5 per cent of the groundwater-irrigated area. Further, this would have led to a reduction of 1 million tonnes of GHG emissions. Additionally, on account of the inherent nutrient value of treated wastewater, fertiliser consumption would have reduced, resulting in further reduction of GHG emissions by 0.3 million tonnes,” it said.
The market value of the total available treated wastewater in 2021 was Rs 630 million if there was a mechanism in place to sell the treated wastewater to different sectors for reuse. “The market value will substantially increase to over Rs 830 million in 2025 and Rs 1.9 billion in 2050 at the current market rate,” the study found.
The study said nine times the area of New Delhi could have been irrigated using the treated wastewater available in India for the irrigation sector in 2021. “Further, about Rs 966 billion would have been the revenue generated from the agricultural yield produced from this area of land,” it said. Over 6,000 metric tonnes (MT) of nutrients could have been recovered from the available treated wastewater in 2021, generating savings of more than Rs 50 million on account of the corresponding reduction in synthetic fertiliser use, it said.
India, presently, treats only 28 per cent of the total sewage it generates per day from the urban centres (CPCB 2021). “Out of the 72,368 MLD of sewage produced in urban centres, the actual treatment is of only 20,236 MLD (CPCB 2021). Class I cities (those whose population is above 1,00,000) and class II cities (with populations of 50,00099,999), which represent a major share (72 per cent) of the total urban population, produce an estimated 38,254 MLD of sewage, of which only 30 per cent is actually treated (CPCB 2021). The untreated wastewater is then discharged into freshwater bodies such as rivers.
The study said given the exponential amount of wastewater generated in the country, India has immense potential to meet the growing water demand across different sectors and improve the water environment with proper management. https://www.business-standard.com/india-news/reusing-treated-wastewater-in-irrigation-could-ve-reduced-emissions-study-123032800673_1.html (28 March 2023) https://www.ceew.in/publications/reuse-treated-wastewater-india
The study undertook this analysis to understand the comprehensiveness of the treated wastewater reuse policies of Indian states and to determine whether they will be able to realise the market potential of the treated wastewater in the future. The CEEW study found that only 10 states in India have a treated wastewater reuse policy. Of these state policies, most do not have incentives for end users of the wastewater, or define quality standards for the specific purpose of reuse. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/market-value-treated-wastewater-will-rise-rupees-19-billion-2050 (29 March 2023)
Bengaluru Biome Env Trust: Reclaiming vanishing waters Apart from the Million Wells Campaign, Biome has impacted the water and commons landscape of Bangalore in other ways too. Their collaborations with research institutes in the sphere of sanitation and health, their work on water literacy with educational institutes as well as corporates, their expertise in helping communities adopt better water management methods, their insights to policymakers, are just a few highlights of their work. Their work in the areas of rainwater harvesting and water literacy in government and private schools within and around Bengaluru has been particularly impactful. One of the major outcomes of their efforts has been their recent association with the Central government’s Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme. Biome is a technical partner in running a pilot project for tapping shallow groundwater as a water source in 10 cities including Patiala, Agra, Tumkur, Kochi and Surat. This initiative will eventually be implemented in more than 500 cities across the country. Biome is bringing water back to the surface, literally and figuratively. https://blog.rainmatter.org/biome-environmental-trust-reclaiming-vanishing-waters/ (24 March 2023)
EDIT Cities’ effluent management is way behind target and a health hazard A confused EDIT in TOI on March 28 2023 on the issue Urban Effluent treatment, taking the case of Delhi. It talks about decentralised STPs and ecological sustainable ways of treatment, but does not mention to fix governance to make the system transparent, participatory and accountable. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-editorials/waste-is-winning-cities-effluent-management-is-way-behind-target-and-a-health-hazard-eco-friendly-inexpensive-solutions-exist/ (27 March 2023)
Odisha Ancient step-well ‘Dedhasura-Bhaibohu Kua’ found in Jajpur The INTACH has rediscovered an ancient step-well near Chanditala village under Badachana block in Jajpur district. As per locals, the step-well is popularly known as ‘Dedhasura-Bhaibohu Kua’ and it is in existence in the area for the past thousands of years. As per reports, the ancient step-well with deep blue water is situated inside a forest near the village.
As per INTACH officials, the ancient step-well is a unique example of Kalinga architectural style. “We have documented around 40 step-wells in Odisha. However, we have never seen this kind of step-well in the State. It’s sheer size, depth, construction style and the materials used are unique. The condition of the ancient step-well is still very good,” said INTACH project co-ordinator Anil Dhir. The huge step-well, having a length of 120 feet and a breadth of 35 feet, has been constructed with laterite stones. As per the information by INTAC, though many step-wells are found in several parts of the State, this ancient one is the biggest among all. https://odishatv.in/news/odisha/ancient-step-well-dedhasura-bhaibohu-kua-found-in-jajpur-200668 (02 April 2023)
EPW Groundwater irrigation & agricultural output nexus- Analysis of Indian Districts: Author(s): A Narasyanamoorthy, K.S. Sujitha and G. Karthiga Devi:- Not many studies are available highlighting Groundwater role in the value of agricultural output (VAO) using district-level data. This paper attempts to find out the impact of groundwater irrigation on VAO using cross-sectional data for 189 Indian districts covering three time points: 1990–93, 2003–06, and 2017–20. Both descriptive and regression analyses have been used. The descriptive analysis shows that VAO per hectare is significantly higher for those districts having a high level of groundwater coverage (>50%) than the districts having less (<30%) groundwater irrigation. The multivariate regression analysis carried out by using yield augmenting and infrastructure variables shows that the role of groundwater irrigation in impacting VAO has significantly and consistently increased over time.
– The areas irrigated by surface sources like canal and small waterbodies (tanks, ponds, etc) have stagnated or increased at a relatively lesser pace, whereas the groundwater area has increased significantly over time. For instance, while the net canal irrigated area has increased from 12.84 million hectares (mha) in 1970–71 to 16.43 mha in 2018–19, the net groundwater irrigated area has increased massively from 11.89 mha to 45.75 mha. This is an increase of 285%. The share of groundwater irrigated area to the total net irrigated area has also increased significantly from 38% to 64% during this period.
– The groundwater gives better-quality irrigation in terms of certainty, controllability and availability. Over time, farmers have hugely invested in groundwater irrigation structures with the support of subsidised institutional credit facilities. Some estimates indicate that Indian farmers have invested to the tune of $12 billion in groundwater structures. With the expansion of groundwater irrigation, the intensification of agriculture has also increased, especially in terms of multiple cropping around the year. Consequently, the gross contribution of groundwater to agriculture has substantially increased. Shah et al (2003) estimate that the ultimate contribution of groundwater to the Asian agricultural economy is about $25–$30 billion per year and the imputed value of groundwater used in India will be over $8.6 billion per year for the average period between 1987 and 1993. Therefore, one cannot imagine what will be the condition of Indian agriculture if some untoward happens to groundwater irrigation. https://www.epw.in/journal/2023/13/special-articles/groundwater-irrigation-and-agricultural-output.html (01 April 2023)
Kerala Well owners selling water must obtain licenses & conform to FSA: HC The High Court recently issued general directions to the State to bring water drawn from wells that is being sold to the public as drinking water, under the purview of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards & Food Additives) Regulation 2011.
The court was considering two writ petitions filed by a person holding a licence for running the business of selling water. He would purchase water from a well owner and sell it to the public as ‘drinking water’. One petition challenged a communication issued to the petitioner pointing out that the water being sold by him had a lesser pH value than what was prescribed for drinking water under IS 10500:2012 specification read with Regulation 2.10.9 of the 2011 Regulations. The other petition challenged a report that showed the presence of Coliform in the sample and also the communication to the petitioner regarding the same.
The court refused to interfere with the orders challenged by the petitioner and held that even though well water has not been described in the Regulations, the provisions of food operator as defined under Section 2(o) and Section 26 of the 2006 Act cannot be ignored. “I am of the prima facie view that in the absence of the definition of water drawn from well, the petitioners cannot be permitted to urge this Court for issuing a mandate to the respondent not to take action under Regulation 2.10.9. Though it may not specifically be dealing with the water drawn from well as it only provides to dispensation but the fact remains the sum and substance is water meant for drinking.” https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/kerala-high-court-well-water-sold-drinking-water-tankers-food-safety-act-license-225226 (31 March 2023)
Punjab DSR needs a fillip Incentivising direct seeding of rice (DSR) in the coming kharif season has been prioritised in the Punjab Government’s 2023-24 Budget. Primarily a labour-saving technology, its adoption as a water-saving technique is vital for a state which is on the brink of desertification due to overuse of groundwater for rice cultivation. So far, substantial results have not been achieved from crop diversification through plans to divert area from the water-guzzling paddy crop.
The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General for the financial year ending March 31, 2019 (published in 2022) has revealed that despite an ambitious Rs 274-crore crop diversification programme, the area under paddy rather increased by 7.8 per cent between 2014 and 2019 and the area under other crops decreased by 13.49 per cent. Resultantly, there was an increase in the overexploited blocks from 76 per cent to 79 per cent in the state in 2014-17. Of the 138 blocks in total, 109 have already been categorised as overexploited.
The DSR is yet to become an integral part of the farming ecosystem in Punjab. The area under this technique has fluctuated sharply. The precaution-laden technique is recommended to be applied in medium and fine-textured soils only, practising one pre-tilling irrigation, laser levelling and machine sowing after ensuring sufficient working moisture (tar wattar) conditions in the soil. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/features/direct-seeding-of-rice-needs-a-fillip-in-punjab-491710 (27 March 2023)
A high-level committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, was constituted. The committee recommended farmers to take to alternative crops like cotton, basmati, moong etc. Instead of paddy, farmers should grow basmati on which MSP will be ensured. Cotton growers will get canal water from April 1, besides 33% subsidy on seeds. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/groundwater-depleting-grow-moong-cotton-instead-of-paddy-cm-to-farmers-492729 (31 March 2023)
Haryana NGT seeks facts on petition claiming illegal groundwater usage The NGT was hearing a petition claiming the Mitsui Kingzoku Components India Pvt Ltd in the industrial town of Bawal in Rewari district for violating the CGWA’s NOC condition specifying the quantity of groundwater to be extracted and that the CGWA had already categorised the area as ‘over exploited’. The report had to be submitted within two months, the bench said, adding the state SPCB will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance. The matter has been posted for further proceedings on July 10. The NGT noted that according to the petition, the tribunal’s November 2022 order directing the CGWA to take remedial action against non-compliance by the PP, including recovery of compensation equal to 0.5% of the project cost, was not followed. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/ngt-seeks-facts-on-petition-claiming-illegal-groundwater-usage-in-haryana-123030900740_1.html (09 March 2023)
9% area affected by water-logging, soil salinity Of the total 1.1 crore acres of geographical area in Haryana, 9.8 lakh acres (8.89 per cent) is affected with the twin problem of waterlogging and salinity, according to the data provided by the Ground Water Cell. The data also revealed that of the total area, 1.7 lakh acres is under critical condition. The information was revealed in a response to the question raised by INLD MLA Abhay Chautala during Question Hour of the ongoing Budget session of Vidhan Sabha.
The minister added that the problem of waterlogging can be tackled through sub-surface drainage (SSD), vertical drainage, bio-drainage and aquaculture depending upon the nature and extent of the problem and the affected area can be reclaimed within 3-4 years. “Most affected areas are in Rohtak (61.47%), Jhajjar (40.77%), Sonipat (32.95%), Bhiwani (13.19%). Hisar (7.13%), Jind (9.27%), Charkhi Dadri (9.56%), Fatehabad (1.81%), Ambala (3.96%).,” the minister said, adding that the ground situation fluctuates depending on rainfall and cropping pattern. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/ground-water-cell-data-waterlogging-hayrana-rohtak-8511600/ (22 March 2023)
Rajasthan 99% of irrigated land in Jaipur sucks up groundwater The Central Groundwater Board Report 2022 (November) says that of the district’s 15 blocks, Govindgarh has the lion’s share with 40,000 hectares irrigated using groundwater. Blocks like Jhotwara and Sanganer lead in using groundwater for industrial purposes. All the blocks of Jaipur have recorded over-exploitation of groundwater. The report says in 2021, the district recorded a deficit of 918 million cubic metres of groundwater, mainly due to over-exploitation for irrigation purposes. The analysis of the decadal water level trend (2011-2020) indicates that the overall trend in the district is decline at an average rate of 0.50 metres per year. Calling the report alarming, R K Goyal, soil scientist and in charge of Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Ladakh, said that a two-way approach of water conservation and rainwater harvesting is required, at a war footing, else the water-scarce state will face a crisis soon. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/99-of-irrigated-land-in-jaipur-sucks-up-groundwater-report/articleshow/98892703.cms (22 March 2023)
Report NGT seeks report on use of groundwater for cricket playgrounds NGT has directed the secretary, ministry of jal shakti (MoJS), to file a status report within two months in a matter related to regulation of groundwater extraction for maintenance of cricket playgrounds. The tribunal had earlier directed the secretary to hold a joint meeting with nominees of the ministry of youth affairs and sports (not below the rank of joint secretary), representative of BCCI and CPCB to consider prohibiting use of groundwater for maintenance of playgrounds, when the matches were not being played. The matter will now be heard on August 10.
Earlier, NGT had ordered to utilise treated water, ensure rainwater harvesting in all playgrounds and engage experts for every cricket stadium and use sport events for awareness of environment protection. However, the order of the tribunal was stayed. The applicant recently submitted in NGT that “the stay does not apply to the present case and there is no reason for the secretary, MoJS not to take action in terms of orders of this tribunal.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/ngt-seeks-report-on-use-of-groundwater-for-cricket-playgrounds/articleshow/99132656.cms (31 March 2023)
Bengaluru Do we need a reimagination of stormwater drains? Pinky Chandran and Nalini Shekar Professor HS Sudhira points out that natural streams have been engineered into stormwater drains, as many of the original streams have been covered or altered, and some have actually disappeared or are untraceable. Do you then refocus our attention to design? Constructing or designing better stormwater drains, will need diverse elements of policy making, engineering, community participation, innovation, education and a reconfiguration of our view of our natural topography.
Stormwater drains have often been viewed in a conventional approach that is purely hydrological or technological. However, this flawed approach to stormwater management fails to take into account the ability of these drains to transform or disrupt communities, often leaving them with hydro-social scars. The important aspect of reimagining stormwater drains is the negotiations of everydayness – from water, power, waste, transport, and governance. As seen in the recent floods of 2022, inequalities get perpetuated.
The fact of the matter remains that we need collective imagination to expand possibilities that are diverse, equitable, gendered, and sustainable. Mere beautification, without fixing the root cause of the problems, would just remain an isolated capital intensive exercise. We have to remember that water, in the end, has retentive memory and communicative abilities. The recent floods stand as a testimony to our inadequacies as what Henri Lefebvre points out in his Critique of Everyday Life, “the desire to seek aesthetic refuge from the disappointments and horrors of the everyday”, compounds the problems and negates the possibilities of imagination. https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/reimagination-of-storm-water-drains-109889 (28 March 2023)
‘Why no fines collected for lake damage?’ The NGT has issued notices to the authorities for their failure to collect penalties from Mantri Techzone and Core Mind Software and Services. The two companies have been directed to pay approximately Rs 130 crore as penalty for the damage caused to the Bellandur and Varthur lake drains and their catchment area. However, the companies had challenged the order and their appeals were subsequently dismissed by the Supreme Court. The apex court had also dismissed the review petition and the curative petition filed by Mantri.
Forward Foundation stated that the directions in the NGT order with regard to the payment of compensation and demolition of illegal constructions have not been complied with till date. “Neither any effective action has been taken nor the (companies) on their own have paid any compensation. Illegal constructions have not been demolished,” the petitioner said. A bench comprising of Sudhir Agarwal and A Senthil Vel asked the three authorities to explain why they were “inactive”. The bench also demanded to know why criminal prosecution should not be initiated against the two companies for defying the green tribunal’s judgment. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/why-no-fines-collected-for-lake-damage-green-tribunal-raps-ktaka-govt-1202981.html (09 March 2023)
Rampant borewell drilling may leave city high & dry As water demand spikes along with summer temperatures, Bengaluru is witnessing rampant drilling of illegal borewells. Experts say this could adversely impact the groundwater table. Lack of regulation might also encourage more indiscriminate drilling. Poor monitoring will lead to groundwater exploitation, which could have grave effects, they warn. The BWSSB had in 2019 announced that permission would be denied for those digging borewells to meet construction needs. But there has been no monitoring on the ground. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/rampant-borewell-drilling-may-leave-bengaluru-high-dry-1204200.html (28 March 2023)
EDIT in Deccan Herald on March 30 2023: “The BBMP has time and again proved that it cannot be trusted with our lakes. While the officials responsible for this lapse should be identified and punished, the govt should immediately stop the ongoing work and hand the lake back to the forest department.”
It is high time the government evolved a policy on borewells and set up a monitoring mechanism with punitive action to put an end to indiscriminate digging. Lakes are being encroached upon and city roads are being concretised, thereby preventing percolation of water. In such a situation, borewells are adding to the problem, and have emerged as the biggest threat to groundwater. Unless the government and the civic authorities act quickly, Bengaluru could stare at an acute shortage of water in the near future, with the water table depleting or even drying up. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/check-indiscriminate-digging-of-borewells-1206087.html (03 April 2023)
Chennai The Madras High Court on Friday (March 31) called for the response of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) to a public interest litigation petition which alleged that drinking water, snacks and other food items were sold at exorbitant price during the one day international cricket match between India and Australia at the M.A. Chidambaram cricket stadium in Chennai on March 22. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/pil-against-water-eatables-sold-for-exorbitant-prices-at-chepauk/article66684886.ece (31 March 2023)
Kochi The Brahmapuram fire, which catapulted into the air, atmosphere, water, soil and ultimately life, is a classic example of a ‘plastic chain reaction’. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/waste/how-brahmapuram-plastics-caused-fire-affected-air-water-soil-life-88504 (28 March 2023)
Mumbai Rs 13-cr error that punctured water supply for 1 month The BMC’s documents show that on November 8, 2022, while digging a bore well at plot No C-30 on Road No. 16 in Wagle Industrial Estate, the workers punctured the water tunnel. The tunnel carries water from Balkum to the Bhandup purification centre. A civic team visited the site the same day and confirmed the damage; however, the officials neither filed a police complaint nor took action against the developer, the activist said.
According to the documents, the developer got the approval for construction of the IT park from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), which is the planning authority for the zone. The MIDC has told the BMC that the developer did not take its permission for digging the bore well. “The document shows that the bore well was illegal, yet the authorities concerned are unwilling to file a police complaint in this regard,” Pisat told mid-day. There was a loss of 3 million litres of water daily, which is 11 per cent of the city’s daily supply. As the tunnel was punctured 143 days ago, 429 million litres of water has been lost so far, shows the record.
Not just the spot, but the entire Wagle Industrial Estate is a no-bore well zone. The BMC will start repairing work on March 31, which would disrupt water supply to Mumbai and parts of Thane for 30 days. According to the BMC’s document, the water supply from the tunnel would be stopped and diverted to the 2,750 dia Vaitarna main, 2,750 dia Upper Vaitarna main and 3,000 dia Tansa replacement main. After diverting the supply, the BMC will create arrangements for ventilation and lighting in the tunnel. During the 30-day work, the water supply will be slashed by 15 per cent.
In the past, tunnels have been punctured within the city limits during illegal digging of bore wells—once in October 2011 at a housing society in Jogeshwari and another in November 2013 in Malad. The Jogeshwari tunnel between Yari Road and Veravali carried treated water. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/the-rs-13-cr-error-that-punctured-mumbais-water-supply-for-one-month-23278268 (31 March 2023)
Now, Mumbai’s main water line damaged The water woes of Mumbai could worsen further, as another main line has been damaged in Thane, for the second time within a month. Mumbaikars are already getting 15 per cent less supply due to ongoing work of a tunnel at Wagle Estate.
Both these lines bring water to the city from five of the seven lakes. Of the seven lakes that keep Mumbai’s taps running, five are outside the city and 98 per cent of the city’s supply comes from these. Two main pipelines transport clean water from these five lakes to the city–a 5.5-metre diameter tunnel 100 metre below the surface and a 2.5-metre diameter pipeline 8 metre underground. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/now-mumbais-main-water-line-damaged-23278485 (01 April 2023)
Indore जिस मंदिर में हुआ हादसा, उसे मिला था अतिक्रमण का नोटिस तो ट्रस्ट ने दिया था ये जवाब बेलेश्वर महादेव मंदिर जूनी इंदौर थाना क्षेत्र के अंतर्गत स्नेह नगर में पड़ता है. यह इंदौर की सबसे पुरानी आवासीय कॉलोनियों में से एक है. मंदिर की देखरेख निजी ट्रस्ट की ओर से की जाती है. गुरुवार (March 30) को दोपहर करीब 12 बजे उस समय हादसा हुआ, जब श्रद्धालु रामनवमी पर एक विशेष हवन का हिस्सा बन रहे थे. हवन मंदिर के एक चबूतरे पर किया जा रहा था, जो वास्तव में बावड़ी की छत थी. यह 30-40 लोगों का वजन उठाने के लिए पर्याप्त मजबूत नहीं था. भीड़ ज्यादा होने के कारण बावड़ी की छत अचानक छत ढह गई, जिससे श्रद्धालु 40 फीट गहरे बावड़ी में गिर गए. बताया जा रहा है कि बावड़ी में 9 फीट तक पानी भरा था.
अगर इंदौर नगर निगम स्थानीय लोगों की शिकायतों पर गौर करती और कार्रवाई करती, तो शायद 14 लोगों की जान जाने से बच सकती थी. NDTV को पास 23 अप्रैल 2022 को बेलेश्वर महादेव झूलेलाल मंदिर ट्रस्ट को जारी किए गए नोटिस की एक कॉपी है. इसमें कमिश्नर आईडीए को मंदिर के पार्क/बगीचे पर अतिक्रमण की शिकायत मिली है. स्थानीय लोगों ने यह भी कहा कि पार्क पर पहले पानी की टंकी बनाकर और फिर बावड़ी पर मंदिर बनाकर अतिक्रमण किया गया था. इसी जमीन पर अतिक्रमण कर इस मौजूदा मंदिर के करीब एक और मंदिर बनाया जा रहा है. मुख्यमंत्री शिवराज सिंह चौहान ने पूरी घटना की न्यायिक जांच के आदेश दिए हैं. https://ndtv.in/india/exclusive-indore-temple-accident-ida-send-encroachment-notice-trust-replied-interference-in-hindu-religion-3907605 (30 March 2023)
Gurugram Sewage released directly into drain, developer fined Rs 6.8 cr The SPCB has directed the builder of Malibu Town to pay up Rs 6.8 crore as environmental compensation, days after an inspection found that the Sector 47 colony was releasing sewage directly into a GMDA drain without treating the waste. The colony spread over 225 acres is home to 2,500 families.
In its order dated March 24, HSPCB said the colony was found to be “polluting in nature” and “covered under “red category” – among the most polluting areas as per the board’s score – and its builder has to deposit the amount within 7 days. The project came under the pollution board’s scanner earlier this month, when it carried out an inspection of the three sewage treatment plants at the colony. HSPCB officials found that the colony’s sewer line was directly connected to the GMDA’s drain network and all waste was being released into it without treating it first. The colony was also under HSPCB’s scanner late last year. The board in December 2022 slapped a closure notice on Malibu Town for not disposing of sewage water properly and not getting environmental clearance on STP management.
The closure did not affect the residents, but enforced a ban on fresh sale of properties there. The developer also can’t carry out any sale deeds related to the colony plots, flats, houses, shops, or any other unit. Additionally, DHBVN was asked not to release any new electric connections for the project and ongoing construction was halted. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/sewage-released-directly-into-drain-developer-fined-rs-6-8-crore-in-gurgaon/articleshow/99075436.cms (29 March 2023)
JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY
Tamil Nadu Only 2 districts have 100% tap water supply for rural households Only two districts—Ranipet and Kanchipuram—have achieved 100 per cent tap water supply for rural households. On the other hand, Nagapattinam ranks lower on the chart with only 10.51 per cent coverage. Overall, 62.76 per cent of rural households in the State have tap water supply, according to data provided by the government to the Rajya Sabha. At the time of launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission, about 21.76 lakh (17.34 per cent) rural households in Tamil Nadu had tap water supply. As on March 22, 2023, an additional 57 lakh rural households were provided tap water supply under the scheme. In other words, out of the total 1.25 crore rural households in the State, 78.77 lakh (62.76 per cent) households have tap water connections to their homes. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/only-2-districts-in-tamil-nadu-have-100-tap-water-supply-for-rural-households/article66671756.ece (28 March 2023)
Jammu & Kashmir Watermills at the brink of closure due to water diversion Despite the advent of modern technology in grist mills, ‘Dhadats’ is the only option to grind grains (Wheat and Maize) for the residents of 6 villages (Mathola, Tapri, Shankhoja, Banzala, Banni-Batoli, Chakka, and Upper Dandi ) consisting nearly 7,000 population scattered on slopes on Eastern hills of Bhaderwah Valley. Residents of these hilltop villages allege that officials of ‘Jal Shakti Vibhag’ without considering saving the traditional and only natural source of producing energy are diverting the water of Mathola river in an unplanned manner. “They could have easily tapped the water a few hundred meters downstream, from where there is no ‘Gharat’ but only to increase the cost of the project to lay gravity lines, 8 Gharats got closed on Mathola river leaving a large number of the population face the hardships,” said Lumberdar of the area Vinod Kumar (48).
Department has already collected 50 percent of the water from the river as already 3 gravity lines are operational resulting in the closure of 8 water mills. “Now only 2 Gharats are operational which cater to 2000 households and if they go with another gravity line for which they are already laying pipes, these will also get closed,” Kumar added, demanding that the water be tapped 300 meters downstream from the ‘Gharats’. “On one hand the government every now and then comes up with policies and schemes to encourage traditional and ancient modes of using water energy but on the other hand some officials for their petty interests seem hellbent on permanently damaging them,” said Simmer Singh (47) of village Mathola. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/chenab-valley/watermills-in-bhaderwah-remain-at-the-brink-of-closure-due-to-water-diversion (28 March 2023)
Report First global water conference in 50 years yields hundreds of pledges, zero checks The first global water conference in almost half a century has concluded with the creation of a new UN envoy for water and hundreds of non-binding pledges that if fulfilled would edge the world towards universal access to clean water and sanitation. The three-day summit in New York spurred almost 700 commitments from local and national governments, non-profits and some businesses to a new Water Action Agenda, and progress on the hotchpotch of voluntary pledges will be monitored at future UN gatherings. A new scientific panel on water will also be created by the UN. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/24/united-nations-water-conference-new-york-pledges (25 March 2023)
Gujarat ‘Govt’s water conservation scheme yielded nothing’ BJP MLA and former minister Ramanlal Vora on March 29 2023 criticised the party’s government in the state over the implementation of a water conservation scheme.
`Sujalam Sufalam Jal Abhiyan’, the state government’s much-talked- about water conservation initiative, did not yield any results in his area of Idar in Sabarkantha district, he said, blaming the officials. Vora, 70, was speaking on a resolution introduced by BJP MLA Bhagvanji Kargatiya on the importance of saving water and role of Sujalam Sufalam campaign, launched in 2018.
– “You (Kargatiya) are saying that we will rejuvenate rivers under this mission. Show me a single river which has been brought back to life in north Gujarat so far. You mentioned that canals will be repaired. Forget about repairing, no one has bothered to even clear garbage and vegetation from Dharoi canal which passes through my area,” said Vora.
The former social justice and empowerment minister added that he had approached engineers and secretaries of the concerned departments, ministers and even the then chief minister over these issues. https://www.theweek.in/wire-updates/national/2023/03/29/bom44-gj-assembly-bjp-mla.html (29 March 2023)
Goa With Opa level near critical, 1 more check dam opened The WRD opened yet another bandhara (check dam) — the second one this week — after the level of the Khandepar river basin, from where Opa Water Works draws its water, neared the critical mark on Friday (March 31). A similar situation had occurred in May 2020. The WRD has been rejuvenating the river basin by augmenting water from the Ganjem Scheme over the Mhadei river and from the Selaulim dam in addition to water from bandharas along the Khandepar, Kalay and Udnhoi rivers. However, water augmentation from Ganjem has been discontinued since Monday (March 27) as a joint of the pipeline that pours water into the Khandepar river broke. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/with-opa-level-near-critical-1-more-check-dam-opened/articleshow/99155947.cms (01 April 2023)
Unseasonal rains, heatwaves damage crops The ongoing unseasonal rains, hailstorms, and high winds have flattened wheat crops in West and North India. These weather conditions follow premature hot temperatures. This means that wheat, a staple across large parts of the country, has had a double whammy that will affect the yield as well as quality. The harvest of staples such as wheat and mustard and summer delight mango stands disrupted amid unseasonal rain, hailstorms, and high winds. Moreover, the wheat crop has faced the additional brunt of unnaturally high temperature that immediately preceded unseasonal downpour. Before the downpour began earlier this month, India had already experienced the hottest February in over a hundred years. That was critically damning to the wheat crop. No respite is expected for at least next two weeks, according to IMD. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/rain-of-sorrows-unseasonal-rains-rising-heatwaves-damage-crops-push-farmers-into-a-corner-news-274764 (31 March 2023)
Punjab Crops on 13 lakh hectares hit due to untimely rain Incessant rainfall in the state, specially in the Malwa region, have become a major worry for farmers as already over 13 lakh hectares have been affected and more rainfall is predicted in the coming days. A senior agriculture officer, who is conducting the girdiwari (crop loss assessment), said that already in field to get the loss assessment done said that of the 13 lakh hectares under wheat, some fruits and vegetables that have been affected in Punjab, nearly 50,000 hectares is facing 100% loss. “Friday’s (March 31) rainfall have added to the worry of farmers as well as the agriculture department as the area under 100% loss is likely to increase,” he said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/crops-13-lakh-hectares-hit-untimely-rain-punjab-more-showers-likely-8531537/ (01 April 2023)
The state agriculture department claims that the crop has flattened in 15 lakh or 40% of the 35 lakh hectares covered area and it’s unclear how much of it will recover before the harvesting starts. Old timers compare it to 1982, which remained wet from early April to mid-May, and 2015, which remained wet from mid-April to early May.
The region’s farmers had faced their worst natural calamities in 1982, 2008, and 2015, in that order, and survived. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/as-rain-continues-pb-stares-at-2nd-straight-wheat-loss/articleshow/99181621.cms (02 April 2023)
Rainfall and gusty winds when wheat is in its maturity stage are causing a lot of damage to the crop. Rainfall has caused lodging on more than 25,000 hectares in Ludhiana district. Chief Agriculture Officer Narinder Singh Benipal said a few days back a hailstorm lashed some areas in the district. Water was stagnating in fields and lodging had damaged the wheat crop, which was in its hard dough stage, said Benipal. Unseasonal rain in March has damaged wheat crop on least 30,000 hectares in the Ropar district. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/wheat-crop-on-25k-hectares-damaged-in-ludhiana-493021 (01 April 2023)
Latest spell of unseasonal rains in Punjab would delay the harvesting of wheat in almost all the districts by about two weeks. Though, the state government has announced that its procurement centres would be ready for procurement of wheat from April 1 onwards but the officials of the state agriculture department say that harvesting of wheat would only begin after April 15 looking at the weather conditions. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/unseasonal-rains-in-punjab-to-delay-wheat-harvesting-by-two-weeks-492898 (01 April 2023)
Haryana Rohtak A fresh spell of hailstorm that lashed the district on Saturday further damaged the wheat and mustard crops in several villages. Distressed farmers said they were already bearing the brunt of unseasonal rain and the hailstorm had completely destroyed their crops. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/hail-damages-crops-in-rohtak-493327 (02 April 2023)
Past warm & cold spells in Arctic influenced monsoon Scientists have reconstructed the past 1000 years of climate history from the Arctic, a region that’s warming faster than any other place on the planet. They’ve detected warm and cold climatic spells in the Arctic over the past 1000 years.
Warm conditions in the Arctic were linked to intense rainfall over the Indian subcontinent while cold conditions were associated with weak spells of rain over the subcontinent. Arctic’s influence on the short-term changes in the Indian monsoon may become more pronounced as the region experiences further human-driven warming. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/03/how-past-warm-and-cold-spells-in-the-arctic-influenced-indias-monsoon/ (31 March 2023)
Jammu & Kashmir Shooting stones near newly opened T5 tunnel Traffic was disrupted on Srinagar-Jammu NH following shooting stones near the portal of newly opened T5 tunnel in Panthyal (on April 02) prompting DC Ramban to write to NHAI for technical assessment of the zone for protection measures, officials said. They said that heavy shooting stones disrupted traffic movement on both sides of T5 tunnel on highway bypassing Panthyal.
“An army vehicle came under shooting stones while stones hit rear side of another vehicle. All passengers of the SUV are safe, they said. The traffic officials said traffic was moving one by one at T5. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/jammu/shooting-stones-near-newly-opened-t5-tunnel-on-sgr-jmu-highway-dc-writes-to-nhai-for-assessment (02 April 2023)
The 270-km Srinagar-Jammu NH was closed for more than 6 hours on Sunday (April 02) owing to landslides and shooting stones in several locations. http://risingkashmir.com/landslides-shooting-stones-disrupt-traffic-on-sgr-jmu-highway-4bf295d3-9032-45ee-8ed7-ce7d742909ca (03 April 2023)
SJVN Ltd has secured Rs 915 crore ‘GREEN’ finance from Japan Bank for International Cooperation to fund its 90 MW Omkareshwar floating solar project in Madhya Pradesh and 100 MW Raghanesda solar project in Gujarat. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/sjvn-gets-rs-915-crore-green-finance-from-japan-bank-for-international-cooperation-10321401.html (27 March 2023)
Report Congress protests decision to send forest Bill to select committee Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called the decision to send the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 to a Select Committee instead of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, technology, Environment and Forest, headed by Mr. Ramesh, “yet another subversion of Parliament.” https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lok-sabha-sends-forest-conservation-amendment-bill-to-select-committee-congress-protests-decision/article66675096.ece/amp/ (29 March 2023)
12.5k projects given green clearance in 2022, Lok Sabha told The number of environment, forest, wildlife and coastal zone regulation clearances granted in India jumped 21 times in five years — from 577 in 2018 to 12,496 in 2022 (also the highest in five years), the environment ministry informed the Lok Sabha on Monday (March 27). https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/125k-projects-given-green-clearance-in-2022-lok-sabha-told-101679943386547.html (28 March 2023)
Manoj Misra The environment ministry’s proposal to weaken laws that deter environmental and ecological degradation threatens human health as well as important legal principles. https://science.thewire.in/environment/moefcc-dilute-environmental-laws/ (14 July 2022)
Regulators must realise economy is a fully owned subsidiary of ecology Some Gems from this article:
– Ironically, we find no mention of nature anywhere in the draft (Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) of SEBI) report, even if we are among the top rankers in the world on pollution and biodiversity loss metrics.
– Regulators, more than politicians and business leaders, must realise that “the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment”. The message does not come through the BRSR.
– Some broad challenges stand out, fragmented regulatory architecture being one of them.
– Prof Alison Taylor of NYU Stern School of Business says, “The prblem with treating climate change as an auditing task is that you end up with a bunch of auditors signing off on destruction, placing mindless faith in certification schemes, and not knowing basic stakeholder engagement approaches that are supposed to be at the centre of this whole sustainability thing…
– Ethics, like nature bear no mention in the BRSR brief…
– Ranking over 2600 jurisdictions around the world, it (A recently released report of the cross dependency initiative) lists 14 Indian states among the top 100 most climate risk prone territories in the world in 2050. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/panorama/regulators-must-realise-economy-is-a-fully-owned-subsidiary-of-ecology-1204855.html (29 March 2023)
Haryana Over 50% posts vacant in forest department Five districts, where the state’s entire Aravali range is located, are running on severely understaffed forest departments. In Gurgaon, over half (51.8%) of the forest department’s workforce is lying vacant. This figure is 64% in Nuh, 65% in Faridabad, 47% in Rewari and 40% in Mahendergarh. Overall, around 53% of forest department posts (395) in south Haryana (excluding Palwal) are yet to be appointed. A large chunk of vacant positions are also that of forest guards and foresters, who are key to ensuring that there aren’t smugglers or intruders carrying out any illegal activities (poaching, felling of trees, etc.) in the protected area.
For instance, the Gurgaon forest department currently has 20 forest guards, out of a sanctioned strength of 62. In total, 69 posts of 133 are vacant. Nuh has 22 forest guards out of 62. The district’s total vacancies climb up to 91, of the 141 posts. The Faridabad department has 143 posts, of which 93 are to be filled. A 2022 report by the Forest Survey of India said Gurgaon had lost nearly 2.5sqkm of forest cover between October 2019 and February 2020, the highest for any district in the state. Nuh lost 0.55sqkm, Faridabad, 0.71sqkm, and Palwal, 0.41sqkm, in the same time. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/over-50-posts-vacant-staff-crunch-in-forest-department-leaves-aravalis-vulnerable/articleshow/99198500.cms (03 April 2023)
No govt study on shrinking glaciers in 7 decades Despite an increase in extreme weather events in the Himalayan region, no study has been conducted in the government system in seven decades to assess the loss of glacier volume or warming to be able to predict potential cataclysmic changes. This has been observed by the parliamentary standing committee on water resources in its report on “Glacier management in India” tabled in Parliament on March 29 2023. Red-flagging the dangers of lack of data for predictions, the committee has called for urgent establishment of a dedicated Mountain Hazard and Research Institute.
– The recommendation followed the Geological Survey of India’s deposition that it had not conducted any specific studies on the estimated volume loss of glaciers between 1950 and 2020 and also not projected any estimate of loss by 2100. Further, there is no comprehensive information about the volume loss of glaciers in the Indian Himalayan Region nor has the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change conducted any study or awarded any project on the warming of Himalayan glaciers, the panel said. “The Central Water Commission has not issued any advisory to the local governments concerned regarding the anticipation of floods caused by avalanches, cloudburst landslides in the Himalayan region. There is also no specific information on stretches of the Himalayas where the danger of melting of glaciers and consequent glacial lake outburst floods are most severe. ISRO and the GSI have also not conducted any study on temporal changes in glacial lake numbers and their extent,” the committee noted.
– The panel said, “Considering these gaps, we recommend an overarching organisation at the national level that can coordinate with others in handling different hydro-geological and hydro-meteorological hazards, including glacier-related hazards, bring findings at one place and maintain reliable database for everyone to access and issue timely alerts.”
– The panel notes that the Indian Himalayan Region has 9,775 glaciers and 1,306.1 cubic km of ice volume (about 1,110 cu km of water) is locked up in glacierised basins of the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra, though specific information about separate volume of ice and snow water is not available. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/no-government-study-on-shrinking-glaciers-in-7-decades-492408 (30 March 2023)
India-Nepal NHPC will begin development of the Rs 92.3 Bln 480 MW Phukot Karnali Hydroelectric Project in Nepal. The Nepal government has decided to develop the project jointly with NHPC India and Vidhyut Utpadan Company Limited (VUCL), an undertaking of the government. https://www.business-standard.com/india-news/india-s-nhpc-likely-to-develop-480-mw-phukot-karnali-hydro-project-in-nepal-123040100432_1.html (01 April 2023)
Bhutan’s policy toward investing in mega projects has changed. The policy now is to not take up huge projects given the complexities of building them. We learnt it the hard way.
– Bhutan and Bangladesh are ready. If India agrees, it can also benefit from the deal, through wheeling charges or lease charges. The dream to light homes in energy-starved Bangladesh with electricity produced in Bhutan is highly possible. In the spirit of the friendship and relations the three countries enjoy today, it opens a window of opportunity to help each other. https://kuenselonline.com/in-the-interest-of-the-region/ (01 April 2023)
Nepal Thousands of people at risk of being displaced by hydropower The women are all indigenous residents of Purano Syabrubesi village, in central Nepal’s Bagmati province. In August 2021, they had to flee their homes, which were in the path of massive boulders brought down by a landslide. The women and their families are still living with the consequences of the disaster. After the landslide “all of a sudden, we became homeless”, 42-year-old Tamang tells. Thirty-two households were affected, and more than 100 people are still living in two temporary shelters in December 2022. The women tell they believe that the landslide was triggered by explosions to create a tunnel for the 20 MW Langtang Khola hydropower project, just a few hundred metres from their village. The plant is being built on the Bhotekoshi River, which flows into the Trishuli River.
– Nepal plans to reach 15,000 MW of installed hydropower capacity by 2030. There are 123 large hydropower plants (with a capacity of more than 1 MW) operating in Nepal, with a total capacity of nearly 2,150 MW. Data from the Department of Electricity Development shows that projects with a combined capacity of 3,280 MW are being built. A further 100 projects with a total capacity of nearly 7,620 MW are waiting to be granted construction licences, as of 3 March 2023.
– Central Nepal is a particular hotspot for hydropower: more than 60% of large plants in the country are in Bagmati or Gandaki provinces. Of the projects awaiting construction licences, there are about 1.3 times more proposed projects in Gandaki and Bagmati than the remaining five provinces combined. Gandaki and Bagmati have large rivers that carry substantial volumes of water, have high base flows and other favourable conditions for hydropower, as well as access to infrastructure like roads and transmission lines.
– Just on the Bhotekoshi and its tributaries, seven hydropower projects are currently in operation and at least three others are under construction, according to an official from the Sindhupalchowk District Coordination Committee. As of 2018 – the latest year for which comprehensive data is available – there were plans for 36 hydropower projects on the Trishuli river and its tributaries, with 23 at the planning stage with survey licences issued. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/livelihoods/thousands-of-people-at-risk-of-being-displaced-by-hydropower-central-nepal/ (15 March 2023)
Opinion: Bore wells are not the answer to springs crisis
As natural springs dry up across Nepal, many municipalities are pushing for deep bore wells as a solution – but this short-term approach may make things worse. https://www-thethirdpole-net.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.thethirdpole.net/en/nature/opinion-bore-wells-are-not-the-answer-to-nepal-springs-crisis/ (31 March 2023)
Bangladesh 90pc fishes of Teesta extinct About 90 per cent of fishes and most of other aquatic lives that once made the waters of the Teesta, Dharla and Brahmaputra rivers their abode have vanished over the past three decades, according to an estimate by the Rangpur divisional office of the Department of Fisheries. The dramatic decline of aquatic lives in the rivers, which have now transformed into dozens of narrow localised streams crisscrossing the country’s northern region, was caused by a sharp fall in the water flow of the rivers because of interruptions in the upstream in India, said river experts and government fisheries officers.
– ‘In the latest fish census last year, we detected only 27 fish species in the Teesta, Dharla and Brahmaputra,’ said Saifuddin Yahiya, deputy director, Department of Fisheries, Rangpur division. The DoF carries out a fish census every rainy season at the height of water flow in the rivers — which usually falls in October. In 1988, the DoF official said, as many as 267 fish species had been found in the rivers. ‘We fear that the species we still have will be lost over the next few years,’ said Yahiya.
– The number of fishermen dropped to just about 3,000 now from 17,000 in 2010 following the decline of fish species, officials at the fisheries department said. In 1988, sweet-water dolphins and crocodiles were among 317 other species of aquatic lives found in the rivers, the fisheries department said, adding that these species are mostly extinct. https://www.newagebd.net/article/197929/90pc-fishes-of-teesta-extinct (27 March 2023)
Small-scale fishers: Taking care of us but are we taking care of them? The government imposes an annual ban of 65 days to protect the Bay of Bengal’s fish stock. There are two other annual ban periods – from March 1 to April 30, to protect the Hilsa breeding and nursery grounds in some coastal rivers, and a 22-day ban in October to protect female Hilsa in all rivers and the sea. Although these bans benefit the fishing industry, they also result in a loss of livelihood for small-scale fishers. https://www.tbsnews.net/thoughts/small-scale-fishers-bangladesh-taking-care-us-are-we-taking-care-them-607910 (30 March 2023)
Compiled by SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also see: DRP News Bulletin 27 March 2023 & DRP News Bulletin 20 March 2023
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