DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 100423: Abysmal track record of water pollution control in India

(Feature Image: Stagnant waste water pools amid residential plots in Kashipur, Uttarakhand, Bhim Singh Rawat 10 April 2023)

That India’s track record in water pollution control is abysmal is self-evident. This is particularly important to note as India prepares to mark 50 years of Water Pollution Control Act enacted in 1974, next year. It was after that act that the huge institutional architecture of central and state pollution control boards and laboratories were created with huge bureaucracy. That whole institutional architecture is more known for inefficiency and corruption than for achieving any clean rivers or cleaning other water bodies. During the existence of this act the bureaucracy that came with it, the state of our rivers and water bodies have only gone worse with every passing year.

The Union government informed the parliament last week, as reported below, that 1/3rd posts in Central Pollution Board are vacant and the situation is worse in most states.

This does not mean that if the posts were filled up, the situation of pollution would have improved significantly considering the abysmal track record, but this is only one of the many obvious indicators of low priority of the Union Govt, which sets poor example for the states. If only the Union government were to put its house in order to achieve a transparent, participatory and accountable governance of CPCB, it would make a huge difference across the country. But where is the will for this?

1/3rd posts in CPCB vacant, states in worse position Neither the country’s national pollution watchdog — Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) — nor the state/UT boards/committees has adequate staff strength to perform their respective duties. One-third (193) of the total sanctioned posts (577) of the CPCB is currently lying vacant whereas the vacancy position in states/UTs goes up to almost half (5,873) of the sanctioned positions of 11,956.

– Data shared by the environment ministry in the Lok Sabha shows that while Jharkhand reported the highest vacancy of 87% followed by Bihar (78%) and Haryana (68%) among states, Delhi faced the highest vacancy of nearly 56% followed by Jammu & Kashmir (44%) among the big UTs. (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/1/3rd-of-posts-in-central-pollution-body-vacant-its-worse-in-states/articleshow/99349903.cms April 9 2023)


SANDRP Blog Sikkim: Landslide near NHPC’s Teesta V dam in March 2023 This disaster could have taken heavy toll of human lives. The Sikkim government is expected to conduct independent inquiry and put the report in public domain soon.

Putting the investigation reports promptly in public domain is becoming quite rare in several such disasters involving hydro power projects in Himalayan states. https://sandrp.in/2023/04/08/sikkim-landslide-near-nhpcs-teesta-v-dam-in-march-2023/  (08 April 2023)

April 2023: Another Landslide at Lower Subansiri HEP The site of Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power (HEP) has witnessed another massive landslide on April 3, 2022. As per North East India 24 report, the landslide triggered by rainfall has caused damage in the main part of the dam and the workers had to be evacuated to a safe place. No human casualty has been reported from the incident. While the controversial project site has been facing repeated disasters, the indifferent NHPC continues to underplay the safety concerns and ignore the frequent warnings. https://sandrp.in/2023/04/08/april-2023-another-landslide-at-lower-subansiri-hep/  (08 April 2023)

Arunachal Pradesh Delay in construction hits NHPC’s Subansiri HEP The prolongation of the project and scouring below the structures which are constructed for temporary purposes are the reason behind the damage caused to Lower Subansiri Hydropower Project at Gerukamukh on the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border, said an official. “Damages in these areas are due to prolongation of the project and scouring below the structures which are constructed for a temporary purpose,” said Central Electricity Authority (CEA) member (hydro) MAKP Singh.

– CEA member Singh on Friday (April 06) visited NHPC’s 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Project (SLP) to review the ongoing construction activities at different sites of the project. Singh, accompanied by CEA’s hydropower monitoring division chief engineer Manoj Tripathi inspected all the sites of the project, including the diversion tunnel inlet area and the guard wall at the powerhouse, NHPC said in a statement. https://nenow.in/top-news/arunachal-delay-in-construction-hits-nhpcs-lower-subansiri-hydropower-project.html ; https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/04/09/central-team-reviews-construction-activities-at-slp/  (09 April 2023) Landslide at the NHPC project site raises major safety concerns for the workers engaged at the site. https://nenow.in/north-east-news/arunachal-pradesh/arunachal-massive-landslide-damage-subansiri-project.html  (03 April 2023) The article gives a full list of landslides that has hit the project since the work started in 2005. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/subansiri-landslides-cea-sought-safety-audits-nhpc-said-not-needed-8541053/  Timelapse of Lower Subansiri HEP from 2009-2022 showing slope failures and landslides. https://www.planet.com/stories/lower-subansiri-hep-2009-2022-Ui5SFpSVR  (14 Oct. 2022) 

50 micro to mini hydro units are being set up in Tawang district for the people as well as the army. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/itanagar/pm-narendra-modi-lauds-arunachal-pradeshs-bid-to-set-up-50-hydel-projects/articleshow/99284395.cms  (06 April 2023)

Report HEP projects increasing disasters The 2022 compilation report by SANDRP shows that hydropower projects act as force multipliers when cloud bursts happen close to them. In 2021, at least 11 hydropower projects (four each in Uttarakhand and Himachal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one in Ladakh) had faced cloud burst-induced deluge and damages in lesser or greater degrees. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/urbanisation/himalayan-plunder-how-hydropower-projects-in-the-hills-have-increased-disasters-there-87660  (03 April 2023)

Expensive Himalayan hydropower projects Most of the finance for new hydropower projects in the Himalayas is coming from state coffers, through public sector banks, state governments or other public sector units. In the event of a disaster caused or exacerbated by these projects, the cost for rehabilitation and compensation will also come from public money.

– India can ill afford such a waste of public funds, which in effect are being transferred to a small dam-building lobby, with little discernible benefit to the country. Given the success and scalability of solar and wind projects, planned investment in energy storage technologies and the decline in power storage costs, new investment in hydropower in the Himalayas are a high-risk low-return bet. (Also quotes SANDRP) https://scroll.in/article/1045251/crores-for-construction-crores-for-disaster-relief-indias-expensive-himalayan-hydropower-projects  (06 April 2023)

Himachal Pradesh This AP story provides all the reasons why India should not push more hydroprojects. If only the message was given in clearer terms. https://apnews.com/article/india-hydro-energy-climate-renewables-dams-da673164d0b0a653a2291f4cab16742a  (05 April 2023)

Public Works Minister, Vikramaditya Singh, has issued a blunt warning to contractors working on the SJVNL’s Luhri & Sunni hydropower projects in the Rampur constituency. In a social media post, Singh demanded that contractors give employment opportunities to local youth, warning them to pack bags if they failed to comply. https://thenewshimachal.com/2023/04/employ-local-youth-or-pack-your-bags-vikramaditya-singh-warns-hydro-project-contractors/ (8 Apr 2023)

Uttarakhand Won’t allow Badrinath yatra on day 1, warn locals Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a citizens’ collective that has participation from almost all residents of the town hit by land subsidence, has threatened to block traffic on April 27, the day the Badrinath yatra is scheduled to start, if their demands were not met. “we will be forced to close the Joshimath market and call for chakka jam (stop vehicles from plying) on April 27… We demand complete scrapping of NTPC’s under-construction Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project and the Helang bypass road,” said Atul Sati, convenor of the group, on Tuesday, April 4 2023. The group has been demanding rehabilitation for all 3,000 families of Joshimath, compared to the 300 identified by the government.  They have also demanded that the report submitted to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) after a ground survey by several scientific institutes in Joshimath be made public. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/wont-allow-badrinath-yatra-on-day-1-warn-locals/articleshow/99252893.cms  (05 April 2023)

Centre This mentions a study (not in public domain as yet) by Indian Institute of Remote Sensing that claims that hydropower project construction has helped stabilise the area and reduce the landslide in the area! This clearly is not going to help!! https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1914058  (05 April 2023)

Govt looking to merge hydro power units The Indian government is considering selling state-owned NTPC Ltd’s two hydro power firms to NHPC Ltd to create a single hydro power company that would improve efficiency and cut costs, power minister R K Singh said. NTPC, the country’s largest power producer, acquired the two hydro companies — THDC India Ltd (THDCIL) and NEEPCO — three years ago for about $1.34 billion. The combined entity after the merger of THDCIL and NEEPCO with NHPC would have 20 GW of hydro assets. NHPC, which is also state-owned, currently has 12 GW of hydro assets. https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/india-looking-merge-hydro-power-units-create-single-company-minister-2023-04-03/  (03 April 2023) “We have a number of hydro PSUs. We are thinking whether these hydro companies can come together as a hydro large PSU. Then it becomes a specialised hydro company,” Power and Renewable Energy Minister Singh said in an interview on Apr 3 2023. The minister did not give details of other companies that could be merged into NHPC. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/india-looking-to-merge-hydro-power-units-to-create-single-company-power-minister/articleshow/99217509.cms (3 Apr 2023)

Unseasonal rains in March have lifted reservoir levels, easing temperatures and boosting hydropower supply, offering some respite from the impending summer heat, even as the wet weather destroyed winter crops in their wake. The rains also eased power demand. In the first two weeks of March, the peak power demand met was around 205GW, which has now fallen below 190GW. Peak power demand this year is expected to reach 229GW, against 211GW recorded last year. The government has taken several steps to ensure adequate power supply during the summers, including directing all hydropower producers to operate hydropower plants optimally at peak hours in April and May. https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/unseasonal-rains-may-boost-hydro-power-supply-11680720503542.html  (06 April 2023)


Report House panel red flags 234 dams  A parliamentary panel has expressed concerns over the safety of aging dams in the country, saying there are 234 functional large dams in India which are more than 100 years old – some of them over 300 years old – but so far none of these dams have been decommissioned.

– The parliamentary panel – standing committee on water that submitted its report to Parliament on March 20 – recommended the Jal Shakti ministry take suitable measures for evolving a “viable mechanism to assess the lives and operations of the dams” and also persuade the states to decommission those which have outlived their lifespan.

– The panel was informed by the ministry that “there is no mechanism to assess the viable lifespan and performance of dams”. The TOI report claims without basis that regular maintenance of dams is, however, undertaken for their health assessment and safety. The TOI report also says dams are mostly owned by state governments/public sector undertakings (PSUs)/ private agencies which carry out the operation and maintenance (O&M) works of the dams in their jurisdiction, but there is no credible supervision or checks and balances to ensure this is actually happening. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/over-100-year-old-yet-functional-house-panel-red-flags-234-dams/articleshow/99195838.cms   (03 April 2023) Ranjan Panda The same panel flagged several dam disasters. Reports point to 36 such disasters so far. The worst has been the 1979 Machhu dam disaster in Morbi, Gujarat, in which about 2,000 people died and 12,000 houses were destroyed. But the damages go beyond just the bursts — they have ecological consequences too. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/water/old-temples-of-modern-india-can-india-decommission-ageing-dams-it-has-been-warned-about–88654  (07 April 2023)

Madhya Pradesh Dam Floods इंदौर के पास ओंकारेश्वर में रविवार (April 09) को बड़ा हादसा होते-होते बच गया। बांध की देखरेख करने वाली एचएचडीसी कंपनी ने सुबह 11 बजे ओंकारेश्वर बांध से पानी छोड़ दिया। इससे नर्मदा नदी का जलस्तर एकाएक बढ़ गया। उस समय नदी में स्नान कर रहे 30 से श्रद्धालु मंझधार में फंस गए। उन्होंने नदी की चट्टानें पकड़कर अपनी जान बचाई। बाद में नाविक उन्हें बचाने गए। रस्सियों की मदद से उन्हें नाव में बिठाकर किनारे पर लाया गया।  

– रविवार (April 09) होने के कारण ओंकारेश्वर में काफी भीड़ थी। कंपनी ने भीड़ की परवाह न करते हुए 11 बजे हूटर बजाया और पानी छोड़ दिया। दूसरे प्रदेशों से आए लोगों को हूटर की जानकारी नहीं थी। इससे वह समझ नहीं सके कि हूटर बजने के बाद बांध का पानी नदी में छोड़ा जाएगा। वे नदी में नहाते रहे। स दौरान पुलिस-प्रशासन की लापरवाही भी साफ नजर आई। ब्रम्हपुरी घाट पर भी छह लोग डूबने लगे थे। उन्हें भी नाविकों ने बचाया। https://www.amarujala.com/madhya-pradesh/indore/water-released-from-omkareshwar-dam-more-than-thirty-people-trapped-in-the-river-saved-their-lives-by-holdin-2023-04-09  (09 April 2023)

The people in 31 villages of Mandla and Dindori districts are yet to figure out an answer as the proposed Basania dam on the Narmada set to submerge cultivable lands and forests that help them survive. https://101reporters.com/article/development/Why_do_weak_people_always_have_to_pay_the_price_of_development  (05 April 2023)

The work of Rs 671 Cr Pancham Sagar irrigation project to irrigate 25000 ha in Sagar-Damoh dists in Bundelkhand remains stalled as 15 km underground pipe work has stalled due to lack of acquisition of 4.5 ha land from diamond cement factory. Now after a meeting cement factory has proposed to change the route of the canal and has offered to pay the additional 2.5 km work of the canal, but that is unlikely to be completed before the monsoon. (Dainik Bhaskar, 05 April 2023)

Polavaram Project The Central Water Commission (CWC) has called for a meeting on Polavaram project flooding issue on April 10. The crucial meeting will be chaired by Secretary of Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) Pankaj Kumar in which the government will discuss ways to evaluate the backwater impact on upstream of the Polavaram dam during floods. In view of the upcoming meeting of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the PPA authorities have cancelled the meeting of concerned officials from both the Telugu States which was scheduled to be held on the same day (April 10) in Hyderabad. https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/cwc-meeting-on-polavaram-backwater-effect-on-april-10-791493  (06 April 2023)

CWC Chairman Kushvinder Vohra has on April 3 2023 directed the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) and AP government to conduct a joint survey on submergence areas of Polavaram project full-reserve level (FRL) in a time bound manner. The CWC chairman Kushvinder Vohra asked the PPA to hold a meeting with Telangana and AP irrigation officials for taking up the survey. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/cwc-hold-survey-of-polavaram-submergence-area-immediately/articleshow/99227086.cms  (04 April 2023)


Ken Betwa Linking “For example, the Ken-Betwa River Link Project could completely destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh)” said former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, possibly India’s best ever environment minister. https://www.news9live.com/india/jairam-versus-javadekar-former-environment-ministers-spar-over-tiger-habitats-au2305-2097955  (08 April 2023)


Mahadayi Water Disputes Sending notice to Maharashtra govt for work on Virdi dam: Goa CM Pramod Sawant on Monday, April 3, 2023 said that Goa is issuing a notice to authorities in Maharashtra, after the latter was found constructing a dam at Virdi to tap water from Goa’s Valvanti. “We are issuing notices to Maharashtra for the construction being carried out. We will also see what promises Maharashtra has made before the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal and we will investigate what is the status of it on ground. The notices to Maharashtra will go today itself,” said Sawant. On Monday (April 03), an official from Goa’s water resources department (WRD) also visited the Virdi dam site in Dodamarg and he found that the Maharashtra government has resumed work on the dam. Following media reports that Maharashtra had restarted work on Virdi dam, WRD chief engineer Pramod Badami directed executive engineer Deelip Naik to visit the site at Shidbache Mol in Virdi, and submit a report. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/sending-notice-to-maharashtra-government-for-work-on-virdi-dam-goa-cm-pramod-sawant/articleshow/99223005.cms  (04 April 2023)


Mula-Mutha;Pune: SC rejects petition against RFD project The court’s order stated that the petition did not provide sufficient facts to interfere. https://www.punekarnews.in/pune-supreme-court-rejects-petition-against-mula-mutha-river-rejuvenation-project/  (04 April 2023) The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has put forth a proposal before the tree authority seeking permission to raze 6,062 trees and bushes from Mula-Mutha riverbed for execution of riverfront development project. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/pmc-seeks-permission-to-cut-6-062-trees-bushes-for-riverfront-development-project-101678980272536-amp.html  (16 March 2023)


SANDRP Blog Eternal Ganga: A Journey Through Artistic Depictions Guest Article by Anantaa Ghosh The Ganga, often termed as the ‘River of Heaven’ has always been deemed as the purest and most sacred of all rivers.

In the west, Ganga was believed to be Phison, a river flowing in Eden. The river has found its place in the works of several famous authors, including Kalidasa who describes the river in words of unique grace. https://sandrp.in/2023/04/05/the-eternal-ganga-a-journey-through-artistic-depictions-of-indias-sacred-river/  (05 April 2023)

CAUVERY Tamil Nadu ‘Will never allow lignite mining Cauvery delta: CM M.K. Stalin on Wednesday (April 05) declared in the Assembly that the govt and especially he, who “hailed from the Delta region”, would, under no circumstances, allow any project that would affect the farmers in that region. Mr. Stalin was responding to a special call attention motion moved by members of all political parties regarding the recent notification by the Union Ministry of Coal, to auction 101 blocks across the country, which include three in Tamil Nadu. Of the three, East of Sethiathope and Vadaseri fall within the regions protected under the Tamil Nadu Protected Agriculture Zone Development Act, 2020 while Michaelpatti is a major paddy-growing area adjoining a fertile part of the Cauvery delta. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/under-no-circumstances-will-tamil-nadu-allow-lignite-mining-in-delta-region-declares-cm-stalin/article66701949.ece  (05 April 2023)

The joint movement for the protection of Cauvery basin on Sunday (Apr 9, 2023) announced that it would launch agitations if the lignite and coal mines from Tamil Nadu were not officially cancelled and taken out of the list of blocks for auction. A resolution to this effect was adopted by the Federation of farmers’ movements at the end of its consultative meeting here the same day. Earlier TN CM also opposed the proposal of the Union Govt without even consulting the state and stated that TN will oppose it as three of the blocks are in agriculture protected areas and the fourth is in rich Cauvery delta, that he belongs to. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2023/apr/10/tn-farmers-want-coal-blocks-auction-cancelled-officially-2564432.html  (10 April 2023)

Road expansion will cut off wildlife’s access to water A State Highways Department project, to expand a road between Kattery to Udhagamandalam from 5 metres to about 20 metres, will prevent animals, including deer, leopards, sloth bears and others, from accessing the Katerry stream and will also cut off their access to different habitats, conservationists say. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/expansion-of-road-to-udhagamandalam-town-will-cut-off-wildlifes-access-to-water-source-say-conservationists/article66694338.ece  (03 April 2023)

GANGA Uttarakhand Kosi river up and dwn stream of Kosibarrage. While canal is full of water, the river is struggling to flow in Ramnagar, Nainital on April 05, 2023. This represents tragic fate of most of the rivers in country who lacking environmental flows barely manage to survive downstream dams and barrages. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1645250047813222400?s=20

YAMUNA Delhi In 2017, the DDA had ordered a cricket academy running on the floodplains to stop activity till ownership of the land could be established. Cricket pitches continue to function out of the Yamuna floodplains alongside the DND flyway. This, even as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) carries out demolitions of jhuggis and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) shelters in parts of the city as it reclaims the floodplains for a “restoration and rejuvenation” project that involves landscaping work, waterbodies, and pathways along the floodplain in a 10-part project along the 22-km stretch of the banks of the Yamuna. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/restoration-of-yamuna-floodplains-in-full-swing-3-cricket-grounds-untouched-8541129/  (06 April 2023)

Territorial army face several challenges Since February, personnel of the Territorial Army have been standing guard along bridges and other areas near the Yamuna to ensure waste is not thrown into the river. They work from 6 am to 8 pm, with Sundays off. “Around 35-40 of us are deployed every day, at different locations, including all the bridges spanning the Yamuna like the Signature Bridge. Work involves patrolling as well. We also patrol the banks of the river to stop people who may be throwing waste from there. Along the banks of the river, it’s easier, people still listen to us. But on the bridges, the issue is that we may have told them not to, but as they’re driving away, they end up flinging the waste into the river anyway. It’s not possible to stop that. Then all we can say is that we tried and did our duty,” said the officer.

According to details submitted at the third meeting of the high-level committee held in March, the NMCG had provided “one platoon of company consisting of one officer, 02 JCOs and 31 other ranks was deployed on 17.02.2023 in accommodation provided by I&FC (Irrigation and Flood Control).” The NMCG has also asked for accommodation for another two platoons of the GTF (Ganga Task Force) for at least one year, according to the presentation made at the meeting. DUSIB shelters or sheds were being considered for this in the floodplain area.

This is not the first time that the Territorial Army, an auxiliary group consisting of part-time volunteers who provide support and services to the Indian Army, is being deployed for environment-related duties in Delhi. The Eco Task Force of the Territorial Army has been deployed in the Southern Ridge from 2000-2001 onwards. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/people-dump-clothes-waste-personnel-tasked-with-keeping-the-yamuna-clean-face-several-challenges-8534369/  (03 April 2023)

Water Cut in Delhi Due to High Ammonia Levels in Yamuna; CM Seeks Daily Report as Crisis Deepens. https://www.timesnownews.com/delhi/water-cut-in-delhi-due-to-high-ammonia-levels-in-yamuna-cm-seeks-daily-report-as-crisis-deepens-article-99227107  (04 April 2023)


Report Small-scale fisheries a big contributor to jobs, diets Small-scale fisheries make up 40% of the global fishing catch, with Asia contributing roughly 23 of 37 million tonnes caught between 2013 and 2017, according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

Small-scale fisheries comprise low-tech and low-cost family or community-level fishing along coastlines and rivers with the haul most often sold in local markets. The report highlights the importance of such enterprises for livelihoods and nutrition, especially in Asia, and for women. It suggests that the value of the sector has been underestimated.

– Most of those employed in small-scale fishing, whether fullor part-time, live in 10 countries led by China, where 35. 5 million people are involved in the sector. India has the second highest figure at 13. 1 million. The sector is also an important employer for women. Globally, an estimated 44. 7 million women participate in the value chains or engage in subsistence activities related to the secto r, representing 40% of the people engaged in the sector. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/how-small-scale-fisheries-are-big-contributor-to-jobs-diets/articleshow/99226498.cms  (04 April 2023)

Tamil Nadu Artisanal fishers resist polluting shrimp farms Artisanal fishers of Ariyankundu in Rameswaram, allege that the shrimp farms behind their village have polluted their groundwater, encroached their commons and that some farms don’t abide by the government rules. While the fishers complain that their livelihood is affected due to pollution from the shrimp farms, the shrimp farmers say that the business, although lucrative to pursue, is financially challenging.

Researchers are developing sustainable feed for the shrimp, that doesn’t pollute the water. They also recommend using remote-sensing tools to monitor land-use change and advocate for stronger regulations for effluent treatment systems, to make shrimp farming environment-friendly. Meanwhile, shrimp farms are rapidly expanding in India and the export of shrimp continues to increase each year. Both the central and state government policies favour the growth of aquaculture. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/03/artisanal-fishers-of-rameswaram-resist-polluting-shrimp-farms-on-the-island/  (30 March 2023)


SANDRP Blog 261 deaths in Violence & Accidents in 11 Months From the available reports, we could track at least 261 people have lost their lives and about 351 persons have faced injuries, threats due to riverbed mining related violence and accidents in India between April 2022 and February 2023.

Maximum 135 human casualties have taken place in East Zone followed by 74 deaths in North; 23 deaths in West and 24 deaths in South Zone & 5 in North East in this period. Just two regions of North and East have cumulatively seen deaths of 209 persons and injuries or attacks on 298 persons in the reporting period while West and South zones accounting for 47 human deaths and injuries or attacks on 53 persons in this period. https://sandrp.in/2023/04/04/2023-riverbed-mining-india-261-deaths-in-violence-accidents-in-11-months/  (04 April 2023)

Delhi HC forms joint panel to check illegal mining in Yamuna Justice Prathiba M Singh directed the joint task force to regularly monitor the river banks and ensure that “proper pickets” are posted for stopping any kind of illegal sand mining. “…. it is directed that the DCP of the concerned area of Outer North – Mr. Ravi Kumar Singh shall coordinate with the concerned SSP of the U.P. Police and constitute a Joint-Task Force to ensure that the illegal sand mining on the banks of Yamuna River is stopped,” the court said.

It also observed that the matter is of “great concern and emergency” as there is a “large scale environmental impact” due to illegal sand mining. The court was hearing a plea moved by one Ravinder seeking to stop the sand mining at the Yamuna River bank near Delhi’s Hiranki village area. He has alleged the illegal sand mining is taking place near the marginal embankment along the Yamuna river by deployment of Hydraulic Excavator and Dumpers.

Justice Singh also expressed concern about the fact that a lease-deed was entered into between the District Magistrate of Ghaziabad and an entity namely M/s New Penther Sicurity Guard Services Prop Bani Sing permitting use of hydraulic excavators and JCB machines. While directing the constitution of joint task force, the court directed the authorities to file a further status report in the matter before July 21, the next date of hearing. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/delhi-high-court-joint-task-force-illegal-sand-mining-yamuna-river-banks-225884  (10 April 2023)

Recent reports by local media on unabated illegal sand mining in Ken river in Panna, MP and Banda, UP.

Meghalaya Forest dept to probe illegal sand mining in Manda river Disregarding the order of the High Court of Meghalaya over unregulated sand mining and without any form of permissions of any of the departments concerned, sand mining on the Manda river near the village of Wageasi in North Garo Hills (NGH) has been going on in full tilt. In what can be termed worrisome, the destruction caused by the illegal sand mining has been so extensive that the river now has a pond in place of where the river bed should have been. The fact that such illegal excavation of the river bed has been going on for quite a while is borne by not one but multiple such ponds coming up in the same area. As to who has been the progenitor of such an act is still under investigation. https://theshillongtimes.com/2023/04/10/forest-dept-to-probe-illegal-sand-mining-in-manda-river/  (10 April 2023)

Jammu & Kashmir No let-up in illegal riverbed mining The failure of the authorities to ensure scientific extraction of mineral resources is taking a heavy toll on Kashmir’s fragile river ecosystem mainly due to the use of heavy machines. Reports of illegal mining are pouring in from various districts including Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian, and Kulgam in south Kashmir. Though authorities have been routinely seizing vehicles and machines involved in illegal mining, the problem persists. Bhat, who has been fighting for protection of water resources, said organised mining mafia was devastating River Jhelum and its major tributaries like Doodh Ganga, Vaishav, Rambiara, Shali Ganga, and other streams. Illegal mining is fast silting up Hokersar Wetland as Doodh Ganga passes through this wetland, which is a designated Ramsar site. The flow of silt has also converted a vast chunk of Hokersar Wetland into a marsh, disturbing the habitat of lakhs of migratory birds.https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/front-page/no-let-up-in-illegal-riverbed-mining-in-kashmir  (04 April 2023)

Gujarat Illegal sand miners attacked the Sarpanch of village Kahanvadi in Anklav Taluka of Anand district on April 7, 2023 when the sarpanch confronted the illegal sand miners taking away tractor load of illegally mined sand from Mahi river.

A complaint have been filed and police & mining department have launched investigation. The illegal miners tried to drive the tractor over the sarpanch, but managed to drive it only over his foot. Injured sarpanch is under treatment.

Chhattisgarh Naxals torch three vehicles engaged in sand mining Naxals set fire on three vehicles engaged in sand mining near the Minganchal river on Tuesday (March 14, 2023. The incident took place near the Peddakodepal area under the Naimed police station limits of the Bijapur district. Sources said that though the Naxalites torched two tippers and a tractor engaged in sand mining but they let the drivers and the laborers in the vehicles go. The Naxals warned the drivers and the laborers not to transport sand. This incident comes days after Naxalites set a crusher plant on fire on Thursday (March 09, 2023) night. The crusher plant was located near the police station in Murdonda on Awapalli Basaguda Road in police have registered a case and are investigating into the matter. According to the police, armed Naxalites barged into the crusher plant, vandalised it and then set in on fire. https://www.etvbharat.com/english/state/chhattisgarh/naxals-torch-vehicles-engaged-in-sand-mining-in-chhattisgarhs-bijapur/na20230315102519757757150  (15 March 2023)

West Bengal 20 trucks set blaze after man dies in road mishap An unruly mob staged a road blockade and set at least 20 trucks on fire on Jhargram-Midnapore road after a truck loaded with sand hit a cyclist and critically injured him. The accident happened under the jurisdiction of Kotwali police station in West Midnapore district on late Friday (07 July 2017). The injured cyclist was taken to Midnapore Medical College and Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries the same day. After the incident, the angry locals staged a road blockade and set at least 20 trucks on fire after they got the news of the cyclist’s death. Due to the protest, the vehicle movement came to a standstill. After being informed of the incident, the police officers reached the spot and tried to bring the situation. https://zeenews.india.com/west-bengal/west-bengal-20-trucks-set-blaze-in-west-midnapore-after-man-dies-in-road-mishap-2022199.html  (08 July 2017)


Maharashtra HC warns builder over construction on CRZ-protected wetland in Nerul The Bombay high court has put a private developer on notice for a massive construction project – both residential and commercial – in Pockets D and E of Nerul, Navi Mumbai. The project allegedly violates the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules and the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MTRP) Act. It is alleged that the project received its commencement certificate (CC) from City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), and not Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), under whose administrative jurisdiction the plot falls.

In a warning to the builder – Mistry Constructions – the HC has said that any work being carried out on-site may be subject to the outcome of the petition filed by Navi Mumbai resident Sunil Agarwal seeking to halt construction on the upmarket Palm Beach Road, next to the Seawoods NRI complex. It is contiguous with the NRI and Talawe wetlands, which are important flamingo habitats. (HT PHOTO)

In a warning to the builder – Mistry Constructions – the HC has said that any work being carried out on-site may be subject to the outcome of the petition filed by Navi Mumbai resident Sunil Agarwal seeking to halt construction on the upmarket Palm Beach Road, next to the Seawoods NRI complex. It is contiguous with the NRI and Talawe wetlands, which are important flamingo habitats. “Pocket ­A and Pocket ­D are wetlands under both 2010 and 2017 Wetland Rules,” the HC observed in November 2018, in response to a PIL filed by Agarwal. In an affidavit submitted to the HC, the state forest department maintained that Pocket D, “…is low lying and contains tidal water. Sparse mangroves are seen on the fringes. Several birds, including flamingos, visit the area. It is a water body as per the map and as per field observation.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/bombay-hc-warns-mistry-constructions-over-alleged-crz-violations-in-navi-mumbai-project-construction-may-be-halted-pending-petition-outcome-101680462586629.html  (03 April 2023)

Agarwal added, “Despite several complaints lodged by the residents, green activists, and members from Save Navi Mumbai Environment group against that construction, it has been going on at high pace. Currently, booking for three towers of thirteen floors each has been started, and buyers, without knowing the future, have been investing in this project. Our main purpose is to inform the prospective buyers about the end result of this project as there are several projects lying in this area waiting for the clearance and OC.” https://newsband.in/?p=39635  (03 April 2023)

NGT Dismisses Film Studio’s Appeal Against MCZMA Order Declining Extension Of Temporary Sets For Shooting https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/ngt-dismisses-film-studios-appeal-against-mczma-order-declining-extension-of-temporary-sets-for-shooting-225840  (08 April 2023)

NMMC draft development plan ‘lacks’ green focus The draft development plan by NMMC has been criticised for the absence of concrete plans for environmental aspects such as rainwater harvesting, green energy, tree cover and wetland protection. The NatConnect Foundation said the plan failed to address the impact of the ongoing redevelopment of housing colonies, which will lead to 20-plus storey buildings and put pressure on water, sewerage, power and traffic.

Though Navi Mumbai is touted as Flamingo City, the city will have to remain happy with the paintings and statues of the pink birds if the wetlands continue to be under attack. The three major wetlands – DPS Lake, NRI and TS Chanakya – must be protected and conserved at any cost. We are happy that on our suggestion, NMMC has written to CIDCO in this regard, but this is not enough. NMMC must take over these wetlands and conserve them with the help of the State Mangrove Foundation which is also very keen to preserve the water bodies as part of the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary’s satellite wetland protection plan, NatConnect said in its submission. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/navi-mumbai-s-draft-development-plan-infuriates-activists-over-lack-of-focus-on-environmental-aspects-open-spaces-and-wetlands-conservation-101680369999515.html  (01 April 2023)

Assam From a troublesome weed into biodegradable paper The duo has found a way to turn the weed into a livelihood source for the communities dependent on the wetlands by engaging them in the collection of water hyacinth. The team comprises of two employees and 14 to 15 people are indirectly associated with the paper making procedure. While Rupankar looks after the business and factory management, Aniket on the other hand looks after branding and IT department.

Water hyacinth in Deepor Beel. AT Photo

Both Rupankar Bhattacharjee and Aniket Dhar believe that although the procedures like collection, treating, cleaning and drying of water hyacinth is time consuming, the result is worth it. They are hopeful that the business will thrive following which they will expand it and explore more possibilities. As of now they are focusing on the conservation of Deepor Beel by extracting the invasive weed and making sustainable and eco-friendly material that have minimal impact on the environment. https://assamtribune.com/assam/this-duo-from-assam-turned-a-troublesome-weed-into-biodegradable-paper-1470873 (8 April 2023)


Tamil Nadu Engineer restored 142 lakes The Kenikarai lake in Ramanathapuram district has been dry for 15 years. But now, villagers are celebrating. The lake is going to be filled up again. In March, villagers in Ramanathapuram district showed up at the Siva temple dressed up in traditional silk sarees and veshtis, and Nadaswaram music blared from the speakers at the inauguration ceremony of the project that people never thought was even possible.

– But 35-year-old engineer Nimal Raghavan who returned from Dubai five years ago has made it his mission to rejuvenate Tamil Nadu’s lakes. It’s almost like a page from Shah Rukh Khan starrer Swades. “[The] Kenikarai lake is dry, the region has saltwater intrusion. Once the restoration is done in the next two years, the entire problem here will be solved,” he said confidently. And he should know. He has a track record of having rejuvenated 142 lakes across India, he said.

– Raghavan also wants to raise a forest by creating artificial landfills around the restored lakes. The dug-out mud is used to make thick boundaries for the lake, creating an artificial lake island. https://theprint.in/ground-reports/a-tamil-nadu-engineer-restored-142-lakes-in-india-wont-stop-now-next-station-is-kenya/1507248/  (09 April 2023)

Gurugram Revival ponds raises water table Groundwater level in villages of the district has increased considerably in the past three years. Thanks to the “GuruJal” initiative, which aims to address the issues of water scarcity, groundwater depletion, flooding and stagnation, dry ponds in 27 villages of the district have been revived and, as a result, the average water table has increased by 100 per cent.

– About 80 per cent of the ponds have been revived with treated water. The district administration has so far revived 27 ponds. The work is in progress to revive 33 more ponds, while the authorities have shortlisted 18 more water bodies that will be reclaimed.

– Deputy Commissioner Nishant Yadav said, “The revival of ponds has been a game-changer for the city. The city was in the dark zone and struggling to treat waste water. The revival of ponds not just ended water table woes in many areas, but also helped the authorities design a model for treating and reusing waste water.” The GIS mapping by the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority has identified 320 ponds on panchayat land and 18 water bodies in urban areas that can be revived. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/revival-of-ggram-ponds-raises-water-table-494976  (07 April 2023)

Hyderabad Historic stepwells to get a facelift Two historic stepwells of Osmania University are set for a facelift. On Monday (April 02), over 100 students and volunteers from various organisations joined hands in cleaning the periphery of the stepwell. The restoration is being carried out under the guidance of ‘The Rainwater Project’ team. “The well near Adikmet bus stop has a lot of waste being dumped by fruit sellers. The other well inside University College of Education is secluded but filled with vegetation. As a first step, the waste will be removed, then de-vegetation and de-silting will be done with the help of HMDA. After that the structure will be restored,” said Kalpana Ramesh of “The Rainwater Project” who had also restored the stepwell in Bansilalpet.

About two tonnes of legacy waste was removed in and around the two stepwells on Monday (April 03) by the Lions Club, St Francis college, Clean Green team and Fenko Matt. “The biggest challenge will be architectural restoration and mobilising funds. But we are hopeful that organisations will come forward in restoring these heritage structures,” said Ramesh. Apart from these two stepwells in OU, there is also a plan to restore two more in the adjacent EFLU campus. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/two-historic-stepwells-on-osmania-university-campus-all-set-to-get-a-facelift/articleshow/99226450.cms  (04 April 2023)  The historical stepwell at the College of Education was built as a source of water during the arid season as well as a meeting place for artists and scholars, but it was neglected for several years by the successive governments. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/030423/mah-laqa-bai-stepwell-restoration-begins.html  (03 April 2023) After completing the restoration works of the Mah Laqa Chanda Bai stepwell, the varsity administration is planning to revive two more stepwells in the campus. https://telanganatoday.com/reviving-historical-bowlis-telangana-govt-takes-up-restoration-of-stepwell-on-ou-campus  (04 April 2023)

Rajasthan RWH in govt buildings The govt’s has decided to construct water harvesting structures in the govt buildings on the basis of feasibility in the rural areas of 17 dists under the incentive component of the Atal Bhujal Yojana. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/water-harvesting-structures-in-rajasthans-villages-set-to-promote-sustainable-management/article66703205.ece (6 Apr 2023)

Report Restoring soil health in the age of climate change Gives examples of how people of successfully and effectively achieved results in agriculture reducing chemicals use, improving biodiversity, soil health and also water use. For example, Sarvadaman Patel of Gujarat in 1970s started work that has over the years improved the soil organic content to upto 1.42%, with produce stays fresh longer and also improving the water absorption four fold for each 0.5% increase. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/comment/restoring-soil-health-in-the-age-of-climate-change-1208133.html  (10 April 2023)


Punjab Panel finds toxins in groundwater samples In a “moral” victory for hundreds of protesters, under the banner of the Sanjha Morcha, a three-member fact-finding team has submitted its report, confirming the presence of various toxic substances and certain harmful chemicals in the samples collected from the Zira ethanol plant. The team was constituted by the state government to ascertain the quality of groundwater in and around the plant. It said the parameters were above the permissible limit set by Indian standard for drinking water. The team also found high concentration of volatile fatty acids, besides other toxic elements in soil samples collected from the plant site.

Sanjha Morcha members Fateh Singh Dhillon, Roman Brar and Gurmail Singh Sarpanch during a press conference in Ferozepur on Tuesday. Tribune photo

According to information, the team had collected 13 samples, including seven within the plant premises besides six within a five-kilometre radius around the unit. The report, however, said in the absence of limited understanding of the manufacturing process of the ethanol industry and consumption of raw materials, the sources of toxic elements used by the industry could not be ascertained. It said this further needed specialised expertise to check mass balance approach in the flow diagram of ethanol production. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/zira-protesters-claim-victory-as-panel-finds-toxins-in-groundwater-samples-494198  (05 April 2023)

Water and soil samples collected from in and around the Zira liquor factory contain toxic substances such as lead, chromium, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), among others, way more than the permissible limit set by the Indian standards for drinking water. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/zira-liquor-unit-survey-lead-arsenic-above-permissible-limits-water-samples-8538897/  (05 April 2023) The Sanjha Morcha members also urged the CM to impose a penalty on the plant and provide monetary help to the affected families. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/zira-liquor-factory-committee-finds-toxic-substances-in-underground-water-samples-around-distillery-unit-494176  (04 April 2023)


Bengaluru Bellandur lake: Experts concerned by ‘unscientific’ approach Experts and scientists are worried about the unscientific methods being used to rejuvenate Bangalore’s largest lake, Bellandur Lake. A pipeline laid by the minor irrigation department and BWSSB from KC Valley to Anekal has divided the lake into two, damaging its ecosystem. Prof TV Ramchandran of IISc has expressed disappointment about this. It is good idea to supply treated water to Anekal, but why should that happen at the cost of lake ecosystem? The left out area could be encroached. Sewage still flows into the lake even after the 2019 deadline. Only 52% work is complete even through deadline was Aug 2022. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bellandur-lake-rejuvenation-experts-concerned-by-unscientific-approach-1206438.html  (04 April 2023) “The BWSSB promised a hundred per cent treated water at Bellandur by 2019, but it is yet to happen,” he said. The project of carrying water from KC Valley to Anekal has resulted in BWSSB laying pipes in the middle of lake resulting in its bifurcation, he said, adding that buffer zone encroachment is still visible. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2023/apr/04/95-per-centsilt-in-varthur-lake-cleared-confirms-inspection-2562434.html  (04 April 2023) Professor Ramachandra directed the BDA engineers to take measures to prevent the construction of buildings in the buffer zone of the waterbody. “The debris and construction material are dumped in the buffer zone. The construction of a building is in progress. The authorities have to take measures to stop the construction in the buffer zone,’’ he said. “The BDA and BBMP are not following the NGT guidelines. There is a lot of pending work at the lake. Encroachments are yet to be cleared and construction of structures continues in the buffer zone,’’ said Jagadeesh Reddy of Varthur Rising. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/lakelustre/articleshow/99222365.cms  (04 April 2023)

Varthur lake. File Photo/TNIE

KSPCB reports sewage discharge in lakes linked to Hesaraghatta Lakes upstream of Hesaraghatta are being polluted by sewage from Doddaballapur and Bashettihalli, the KSPCB has found. It sought three months to inspect the sewage network and find out the full extent of the pollution. The board cited the Assembly polls as the reason for seeking three months’ time. The board presented a status report before the NGT in which it identified Nagarakere, Majarahosahalli (Chikkatumakuru), Doddatumakuru, Veerapura and Muttur lakes in and around Doddaballapur as polluted. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/kspcb-reports-sewage-discharge-in-lakes-linked-to-hesaraghatta-1206114.html  (03 April 2023)

Kothanur Lake witnesses second fish kill of year In yet another unfortunate incident, Kothanur Lake has been hit by a fish kill for the second time this year. Over 25 dead fish were spotted by a walker during his morning walk on Sunday (April 02), raising concerns among residents and lake activists. This issue is not new to the residents, who had complained about a similar incident in February this year. Despite raising complaints and sending emails to the BBMP and BWSSB, no actions have been taken to improve the condition of the lake. Lake activists have once again registered a complaint officially over email to both the Chief Commissioner of BBMP and SPCB Integrated Command Centre. They hope that this time, the authorities will take some measures to save the lake and prevent such incidents from happening again in the future. So far, three instances of fish kill have been reported in 2023, twice in Kothanur Lake and one at Iblur Lake. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/the-fish-keep-dying/articleshow/99194484.cms  (03 April 2023)

No questions asked as lake turns debris dump The residents’ fight to save Hosakerehalli Lake in south Bengaluru seems to be reaching nowhere as the authorities continue to stonewall the concerns raised by locals over the revival of the waterbody. Locals say while the BBMP had promised to clear mud that was dumped for roadwork encroaching the lake area, it has been sliced and dumped into the water body.

“Instead of removing the mud that was dumped to create a 20-feet-wide road, they have pushed it into the lake. All the debris has gone inside the water body. Moreover, BBMP has started desilting the southern part of the water body. The lake was de-silted in 2017 by BDA, so it is unnecessary to desilt it again. Too much dredging will destabilise the water body,” said Joseph Hoover, a conservationist who has been involved in the issue.

Locals also claim that while the citizens have repeatedly attempted to get in touch with officials to be involved in the lake revival process, the officials have only stonewalled them so far. “The civic body should sit with the locals and decide on infrastructure facilities. However, it has become a one sided game in the case of Bengaluru. All the unnecessary infrastructure projects are pushed down on us. We have been enquiring about the timeline for the rejuvenation of Hosakerehalli, but BBMP has constantly maintained that there is no funding available for the project. It is high time that the civic body should work on rebuilding people’s trust,” said another resident. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/no-questions-asked-as-lake-turns-debris-dump/articleshow/99249122.cms  (05 April 2023)

BBMP requests approval for Hosakerehalli lake development after causing damage The BBMP earlier this week sought approval from the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA) to “develop” Hosakerehalli lake, after nearly destroying the waterbody by dumping truckloads of soil. The move has put the BBMP in a spot as it did not follow due process before undertaking improvement works in and around the lake. The civic body needs KTCDA’s prior approval for lake development. This requires a review of the BBMP’s Detailed Project Report by the authority, a measure introduced due to local bodies’ neglect of the vital role lakes play in recharging groundwater, instead treating them as tourist attractions.

The BBMP’s latest plan, valued at Rs 14 crore, reveals that the civic body intends to desilt the lake, build a walking path, clear encroachments, and fence the boundary. It also wants to complete work to build a retaining wall. The KTCDA is likely to knock off some of the proposals since they may fall outside the scope of improving the waterbody. V Ramprasad, convener of Friends of Lakes, said desilting lakes is an inadequate measure unless the BBMP simultaneously tackles the problem of sewage discharge into these waterbodies. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-infrastructure/bbmp-requests-approval-for-hosakerehalli-lake-development-after-causing-damage-1207689.html  (08 April 2023)

Sewage continues to pollute Gubbalala lake The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s (BWSSB) apathy in setting up well-connected Underground Drainage (UGD) channels in the city is leading to the unabated entry of untreated sewage into city lakes. One such waterbody is the Gubbalala Lake in south Bengaluru. According to the walkers and residents of the area surrounding the waterbody, untreated wastewater to the tune of 20 MLD is flowing through the stormwater drains surrounding the lake. With the monsoon season around the corner, local residents fear the recently revived waterbody will further deplete again if BWSSB’s sewage network is not ready by then.

Gubbalala Lake was developed recently at a total cost of Rs 3.5 crore; it is located near the 100 villages in the city periphery, which were added to the BBMP limits back in 2008. Residents also raised the issue of the lack of STPs in the area despite adequate funding. “As many as 7 STPs were sanctioned almost four years ago for all the 110 villages combined, but no development has taken place on that front. BWSSB is polluting the waterbodies; there should be a criminal case filed against the board,” said another resident and regular walker at Gubbalala Lake. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/la-la-lake/articleshow/99305159.cms  (07 April 2023)

NGT order prompts Rs 967 cr grant for sewage, garbage management Complying with the NGT order, a sum of Rs 967 crore has been sanctioned for clearing legacy waste (old landfills) and upgrading 13 STPs. The development comes five months after the NGT imposed compensation of Rs 2,900 crore on the state government for causing harm to the environment by not managing solid and liquid waste well.

Bengaluru was one among the many cities that were slapped with penalties under the ‘polluter pays’ principle. During the course of the hearing, the NGT found that the state was processing only 1,929 MLD of the 3,356 MLD of sewage generated per day. This means, around 1,421 MLD of sewage was polluting the water bodies, be it rivers or lakes. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/bengaluru-ngt-order-prompts-rs-967-cr-grant-for-sewage-and-garbage-management-1206943.html  (05 April 2023)

Waterlogging at metro station inaugurated by PM Modi in March Rains in Bengaluru on Tuesday (April 04) resulted in waterlogging in Nallurhalli metro station, days after PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the 13.71km stretch of the Bengaluru Metro Phase II project. The new metro line between KR Puram and Whitefield was inaugurated on March 25. Roads in Varthur Kodi and Kadubeesanahalli also reported waterlogging. Heavy downpour in the Whitefield area on Tuesday (April 03) evening also led to waterlogging at several locations, like Varthur Kodi, ITPL Main Road, Mahadevapura and surrounding areas. Netizens took to Twitter to slam the civic agencies for the poor road work and drainage system that has once again brought Bengalureans to their knees. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/waterlogging-at-bengaluru-metro-station-inaugurated-by-pm-modi-8538559/  (05 April 2023)

A day after rains wreaked havoc in certain areas of Bengaluru, BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Girinath conducted a review of flood-prevention projects designed for the monsoon season. Currently, the BBMP has undertaken 512 stormwater drain projects, including desilting and strengthening of rajakaluves, at an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore. The Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority has identified 200 sensitive areas in the city at a high risk of floods. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bbmp-chief-reviews-city-s-flood-preparedness-ahead-of-monsoon-1207125.html  (06 April 2023)

Hubballi-Dharwad Drinking water supply to take centre stage in polls Continuous disruptions in the supply of drinking water will be a major issue in the election campaign for the opposition parties in Hubballi-Dharwad. Earlier, water board officials managed the system properly even during periods of low rainfall. The twin cities now receive water supply once in 10 to 12 days, despite having enough water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/drinking-water-supply-to-twin-cities-to-take-centre-stage-in-polls/articleshow/99228270.cms  (04 April 2023)

Chennai Metrowater has revised the water and sewerage charges for domestic and commercial consumers in the city from this month. It has increased water and sewerage charges for residential buildings by 5%, while commercial ones will witness a 10% increment compared with the previous fiscal. Sources noted that the decision was taken last year to bridge the widening gap between revenue and expenditure. The water tariff revision was previously carried out in May 2018. The water and sewerage charges had to be raised due to the increasing operation cost. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/metrowater-revises-water-and-sewerage-charges-in-the-city/article66714175.ece  (08 April 2023)

Hyderabad With summer comes its myriad issues and the residents reportedly are receiving toxic drinking water in most of the areas across the city. It is learnt that the HMWS&SB are not responding to complaints of supply of contaminated and toxic water. https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-toxic-drinking-water-supply-poses-a-threat-to-residents-791501   (06 April 2023)

Over 2 lakh households within ORR to get potable water by June. Telangana government formulated the ORR Project Phase-II and sanctioned Rs 1,200 crore exclusively to provide new drinking water connections and boost the existing supply, putting end to the water crisis. Under this project, the HMWS&SB is developing a 2,093 km of water pipeline network and building 75 reservoirs with 137 Million Litres (ML) capacity in the municipalities, corporations, gram panchayats, colonies, and gated communities located outside GHMC and within ORR. https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabad-over-2-lakh-households-within-orr-to-get-potable-water-by-june  (10 April 2023)

Alappuzha A garbage dump that metamorphosed into a lush mini-forest Perambulating the lush green Shanthisthal on a quiet corner of the 22-acre Christian College campus at Chengannur in Alappuzha district, it is hard to imagine that the place was once a stinking garbage dumping ground. Today, it resembles a teeming forest ecosystem with trees, plants, small mammals, snakes and chirping birds. Its transformation, which began almost a decade ago, is a source of pride for Biji Abraham, an assistant professor of Economics at Christian College, and the institution’s biodiversity club. The mini-forest on 15 cents of land is home to 176 trees and plants of 116 species, including several rare, endangered and threatened ones. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/shanthi-sthal-in-chengannur-a-garbage-dump-that-metamorphosed-into-a-lush-mini-forest/article66695339.ece  (03 April 2023)

Pune Lifting dams’ water proves costly Lifting water from dams is proving costly for the Pune Municipal Corp (PMC) as the state government has asked it to clear dues of Rs 21 crore. The PMC has objected to the state water resources (irrigation) department’s demand arguing that the bill has been wrongly calculated at industrial water usage rates. It said that 100% of the water lifted from dams is for domestic water supply, and so calculating water charges at “industrial rates” is not justified.

– “Many industries operate in PMC areas. The civic administration should give us the exact figures about how much water is being used for industrial purposes under its jurisdiction. But in absence of exact data, the rates are being charged in percentage of water usage,” said Vijay Patil, superintendenting engineer, Khadakwasla irrigation circle.

“A standard rate chart has been defined and rates are charged accordingly. It included 15% of total usage as commercial and 5% as industrial.” “Even though the industrial areas get water, it is not used for processing. Most of it is for drinking purpose. The charges should be at commercial or residential rates and not industrial,” said Aniruddha Pawaskar, head of PMC’s water supply department. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/lifting-dams-water-proves-costly-pmc-told-to-pay-industrial-rates/articleshow/99329360.cms (8 Apr 2023)

Mumbai Suburbs face acute water crisis; tankers costly Citizens in pockets of Jogeshwari and Goregaon, in Mumbai’s western suburbs, are reeling under a severe water crisis. While some neighbourhoods have gone without water for a few days at a stretch, others who have had to resort to additional supply from water tankers are shelling up over ₹6000 for a 20,000-liter tanker. The condition in parts of Ghatkopar, Khar, Kandivali and Chandivali are similar, although not as dire.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/mumbai-water-crisis-citizens-in-jogeshwari-and-goregaon-suffer-as-exorbitant-water-tanker-prices-and-low-pressure-leave-them-parched-101680635698953.html  (05 April 2023)

 A water tanker supplying water as residents of Videocon Tower face acute water scarcity, at Kandivali (East), in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, April 04, 2023. (Photo by Vijay Bate/HT Photo)

BMC speeds up repair of tunnel amid deepening water crisis The BMC is scrambling to repair the pipeline in Thane that ruptured last week when Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) was carrying out excavation for an infrastructure project. Civic sources said the repairs will cost the BMC Rs 13 crore. The BMC meanwhile had imposed a 15% water cut in Mumbai for a month starting March 31, citing repair of the water supply channel that provides water to several parts of the island city and the suburban belt. The portion of this main tunnel that was damaged was also in Thane. In addition to this, the latest rupture in the Thane pipeline has affected water supply. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/bmc-speeds-up-repair-of-tunnel-amid-deepening-water-crisis-8538678/  (05 april 2023) The repairs of the tunnel punctured while a borewell was being dug on February 8, will only start after another week, as the BMC will have to pump out nearly 200 MLD water from it. It is only when the tunnel is completely dry that engineers and the contractor will be able to work in it. This will take at least eight more days. Already Mumbai is facing a 15 per cent water cut and this means Mumbaikars will have to wait longer for normal water supply to be restored. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/mumbai-repair-work-of-punctured-tunnel-delayed-bmc-to-pump-out-200-million-litres-of-water-23279629  (07 April 2023) Starting from March 31 onwards, the BMC had announced a 15% water cut all across Mumbai for the next 30 days. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/its-a-15-water-cut-but-many-areas-in-mumbai-dry-or-down-to-a-trickle/articleshow/99252346.cms  (05 April 2023)

MBMC hikes water tariff by 23% for first time in 5 years The hike will come into effect from May, this year. Justifying the hike, civic chief Dilip Dhole said, “The Surya project will bring a permanent end to the water woes of the twin city. For this, we will have to ensure financial stability from our own resources. Moreover, expenditures like electricity, administrative and maintenance charges have hit the roof in the past five years making the hike inevitable.”

With Surya Dam at Dhamani village in Jawhar as the source of raw water, the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) will provide bulk water supply amounting 403 MLD, which will be divided between Mira Bhayandar and Vasai-Virar in a proportion of 218 MLD and 185 MLD, respectively. Although the MMRDA will lift water and channelise it to the doorstep of the twin-city, the MBMC has to shoulder the responsibility of overhauling the entire internal pipework networking system estimated at ₹516.78 crore. There are more than 40,000 water connections in the twin-city. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/mira-bhayandar-mbmc-hikes-water-tariff-by-23-for-first-time-in-5-years  (08 April 2023)

On April 8, a sudden leakage in the Tansa river water pipeline was reported around 3.30 pm. The incident caused concern in the BMC’s ‘East’ division and ‘G North’ division, as it resulted in the disruption of the water supply in parts of the city. This was the third water leakage incident in the past one month. Due to the leakage, parts of the city including Andheri (East), Dadar, Dharavi, Mahim and Matunga faced temporary water cuts on Saturday (April 08). However, the officials from the BMC took immediate action to repair the pipeline, ensuring that the water supply was restored by 4 am on Sunday (April 9) morning. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/mumbai-sudden-leakage-in-tansa-water-pipeline-repaired-promptly-by-bmc-officials  (09 April 2023)

Indore Death count in temple tragedy hits 36 Recounting the horror, the survivors said that the top of the stepwell was constructed without any concrete reinforcements, and that the unchecked crowding at the temple on Thursday (March 30) led to it collapsing. The stone slabs and iron bars covering the 20-feet-deep pool of water and mud collapsed at around 11.30am on March 30 when at least 50 people were at the temple for the Ram Navami prayers. Temple trustees said that the stepwell was covered after a spate in suicides at the spot, following which the municipal corporation in 1984. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/23-more-bodies-recovered-from-collapsed-temple-stepwell-in-madhya-pradesh-death-toll-rises-to-36-101680287128890.html  (31 March 2023)

Jamshedpur Jugsalai Old Ward No 10 residents have already started feeling the summer heat with lack of regular water supply in residential areas around Ram Janki Kanya Vidyalaya. The matter was aggravated by a leaking water line with the water literally flowing down the drain. A delegation of the local residents led by social worker Damodar Shani Baba handed a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner on Monday (April 03) demanding immediate reapair of the leaking water line. https://avenuemail.in/jamshedpur-residents-demand-repair-of-leaking-water-pipeline/  (03 April 2023)

Delhi’s groundwater recharge has improved and extraction reduced as per this CGWB report for 2021-22. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhi-improves-groundwater-recharge-extraction-rate-drops-to-98-16-cgwb-report-101680721475042.html (6 April 2023)


Gujarat 3 sanitation workers allegedly die while cleaning septic tank Three sanitation workers allegedly died of asphyxiation while cleaning a septic tank of the local panchayat office in Dahej town in the Bharuch district on Tuesday (April 03), police said. This is the second such instance in the last two weeks. On March 23, a sanitation worker, and his contractor died in Rajkot while cleaning an underground drainage. On March 16, the government informed the state legislative assembly that 11 sanitation workers have died of asphyxiation while cleaning drains in different parts of the state during the last two years. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/three-sanitation-workers-die-of-asphyxiation-while-cleaning-manhole-in-dahej-town-lack-of-safety-equipment-suspected-cause-of-death-in-gujarat-tragedy-101680676326205.html  (05 April 2023)

The Gujarat government has failed to enforce its own rules on sanitation workers and septic tank cleaning. The rule says a class II officer of the corporation will be held liable if a sanitation worker dies while cleaning the underground drains or septic tank. But no government official has been charged was charged with a crime despite numerous cases, according to a sanitation worker rights activist.

Manual scavenging (File | EPS)

In the past 15 days, three different instances in Gujarat resulted in the deaths of seven sanitation employees. Despite a court ruling against it, in some parts of Gujarat excrement is still manually cleaned from private and public dry toilets and open drains. Three workers died in Bharuch while, two in Umargam, Valsad, and two in Rajkot while cleaning underground drains due to a gas leak. https://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2023/apr/09/gujarat-government-failsto-enforce-manual-scavenging-rules-2564049.html  (09 April 2023)


Opinion Outcome of U.N. water conference? Veena Srinivasan The complexity of today’s water problems was reflected in the conference’s proceedings: lots of talk, fragmented discussions, no binding commitments. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/un-water-conference-proceedings-commitments-technology/article66698127.ece  (04 April 2023)

EDIT Deepening water crisis India remains the largest ground-water extractor in the world. Policies that favour water-guzzling crops such as paddy, sugarcane, etc—procurement at assured prices and state-administered pricing—need to change. The Centre’s attempts so far to contain the water crisis, though much-needed, are far from adequate. Whether it is the Per Drop More Crop vision to encourage micro-irrigation or the Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, progress needs to take off at a much faster pace to steer the country away from acute water-scarcity in the coming decades, when even worse climate change effects play out. https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/deepening-water-stress/3026307/ (30 March 2023)

Telangana The Ministry of Jal Shakti launched the Census of Water Bodies in convergence with the 6th Minor Irrigation Census under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Irrigation Census”. According to the Census report, Telangana has a total of 64,056 water bodies, out of which 98.5 percent are in rural areas and 1.5 percent in urban areas. Of the total water resources, 10,170 are naturally formed and 53,886 are man-made. Of these, 20.3 percent are filled annually, 41.9 percent usually, 29.8 percent rarely and 8 percent are never filled.

As per the Census 80.5 percent of the water resources in Telangana are under the control of the government and 19.5 percent of the private owners . However, only 80.8 percent of the total water resources are in use and 19.2 percent have become unusable due to drying, accumulation of silt, destruction beyond repair and high salt content, the report said.

The Census report reveals that as many as 3032 water bodies have been encroached in the State, out of which 50.8 percent are ponds and the remaining 49.2 percent are ponds, lakes, reservoirs, water conservancy schemes and check dams . Out of this 2028 resource encroachments have been identified. Out of them 69. 8 percent of water resources are under 25 percent encroachment, 19.8 percent between 25-75 percent and 10.4 percent of them were under more than 75 percent encroachment. https://telanganatoday.com/telangana-in-top-four-in-national-water-bodies-census  (09 April 2023)


Punjab In Muktsar, rain-hit farmers may ditch cotton for paddy The ongoing inclement weather has left the cotton growers in the district worried, who are even thinking of dumping this cash crop in favour of paddy. According to them, the sowing of cotton is more labour intensive and the input cost is higher and in case of its failure, they will have to incur heavy losses. The sowing of cotton has started in the region and will continue till mid-May. Since the harvesting of the wheat has been delayed due to the recent rain, only the farmers who have harvested mustard are sowing cotton.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/in-muktsar-rain-hit-farmers-may-ditch-cotton-for-paddy-493868  (04 April 2023)

Chilli growers of Ferozepur are setting an example for other farmers for coming out of the wheat-paddy crop cycle and successfully reaping rich dividends without depending on the traditional crops. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/chilli-growers-of-ferozepur-set-example-move-away-from-paddy-wheat-cycle-495478  (09 April 2023)

Wheat crop loss likely to be 1-2 MT due to untimely rains, overall output to reach record level, says government. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/wheat-crop-loss-likely-to-be-1-2-mt-due-to-untimely-rains-overall-output-to-reach-record-level-says-government/articleshow/99320194.cms  (07 April 2023)


Report El Nino could push the world past 1.5 C rise for the first time A switch to El Niño will almost assuredly bring warmer global temperatures along with it. Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with the University of California, Los Angeles, said there is already a “dramatic transition” from La Niña to El Niño happening in the tropical Pacific. What is clear is that, layered on top of human-caused global heating, the signs point to El Niño ushering in severe and unprecedented impacts for many parts of the world. Here are six weather and climate extremes to look out for.

– South Africa and India are at risk of drought and extreme heat, as are nations near the West Pacific including Indonesia, Australia and Pacific island nations such as Vanuatu and Fiji.

– It could weaken monsoon in India. Raghu Murtugudde, an Earth systems scientist at the University of Maryland said:

“The overall [monsoon rainfall] deficit can be as high as 15%”. It’s a “compound hazard because heat waves and El Niño tend to delay the onset of the monsoon,” said Kieren Hunt, a research scientist at the University of Reading in England. Months of dry spells would “put a tremendous strain on water security,” he said.

– El Niño could – for the first time – push the world past 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above the pre-industrial levels of the mid-to-late 1800s.

–  Once El Niño kicks in, much of the California state will likely see an elevated chance of above-normal rainfall with an increased risk of flooding, landslides and coastal erosion. It could even deliver “meaningful drought relief” to the Colorado River Basin, said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the US Department of Agriculture.

– El Niño tends to reduce Atlantic hurricane activity, but creates the opposite effect in the Pacific, where warm waters can fuel more intense typhoons.

– El Niño is an ocean heater, and warmer water is bad news for coral reefs.

– Antarctic ice is already in trouble and El Niño could make it worse. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/04/01/world/el-nino-forecast-weather-climate-impacts/index.html  (01 April 2023)  

IMD ‘Unseasonal rains are not because of climate change’ While the impact of climate change is manifesting in extreme weather events with growing frequency, the recent unseasonal rainfall cannot be attributed to climate change, says Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, DG, IMD. However, Mohapatra noted that the frequency of heavy rainfall is rising while the frequency of light-to-moderate precipitation is declining due to manmade climate change. Mohapatra highlighted that the overall number of cyclones is decreasing, but the incidence of intense cyclones is on the rise. https://www.livemint.com/economy/unseasonal-rains-are-not-because-of-climate-change-11680890667222.html  (08 April 2023)


Sikkim 7 tourists dead, several feared trapped as avalanche hits Nathu La At least seven tourists were killed and a dozen injured after an avalanche struck the Gangtok-Nathu La road in Sikkim on Tuesday (April 04) afternoon, the Army said. An estimated 20-30 tourists were feared to be trapped under the snow along with five-six vehicles, the Army added. According to BRO, the avalanche struck 14th mile on Jawaharlal Nehru Road connecting Gangtok to Nathu La pass at approximately 12:15 pm.

“By 3 PM, 14 persons were rescued and taken to nearby Army medical facility. However, seven persons succumbed. The other seven persons were administered first aid and returned to Gangtok,” the Army said in a statement. About 350 tourists and 80 vehicles, which were stranded on the road because of the snow, were also rescued, news agency PTI reported. Nathu La Pass, a major tourist destination because of its scenic beauty, is situated on the border with China. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sikkim-avalanche-nathula-live-updates-tourists-trapped-8537784/  (04 April 2023)


Report Forest conservation bill trades forests for trees In focussing on building carbon stocks in plantations, the proposed amendments to The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, weaken the very purpose of the legislation, which is to protect and conserve India’s forests writes Jay Mazoomdaar. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-climate/trading-forests-for-trees-8540990/  (06 March 2023)

Over 80K ha forests diverted for infra projects in 5 years: Centre Forest area measuring over double the size of Mumbai suburban district was diverted for various infrastructure and development projects in the past five years, the Union environment ministry informed Rajya Sabha on Thursday (April 06). Junior environment minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey told the Upper House that it gave its nod to divert 88,903.80 hectares (889.03 sq km) of forest area, mostly for road projects (194.24 sq km) followed by mining (188.47 sq km), in the past five years. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/union-environment-ministry-diverts-double-the-size-of-mumbai-suburban-district-forest-area-for-infrastructure-projects-in-5-years-rajya-sabha-101680806691810.html  (07 April 2023)

NGT’s Stand on Nicobar Mega Project Disappointing The green court ruled that it will not “interfere” with the Forest and Environment Clearances accorded to the mega developmental project on Great Nicobar Island. https://thewire.in/environment/ngt-great-nicobar-project-disappointing  (08 April 2023)

Karnataka 17,000 tonnes of multi-layered plastic choking state Last year, Krishna A and others moved the NGT over the failure of the state pollution control boards to implement the rules, specifically targeting the menace of multi-layered plastic. In its seven-page counter affidavit dated January 31, 2023, KSPCB says there are 263 producers, importers and brand owners (PIBOs) of multi-layered plastic, who generate 17,222.89 tonnes per annum. The affidavit says PIBOs have EPR targets of 5,799.56 tonnes for 2022-23. The SPCB lists as its achievements 112 notices issued to manufacturing units, of which 55 were withdrawn due to various reasons. It says 12 cases have been filed against the units.

However, without providing any information on the achievement of EPR or recycling targets, SPCB says it “is making efforts for strict implementation” of the rules. Further, it requests the NGT to impose cost on the petitioner. An activist said officials have failed to understand the gravity of the issue. “Unlike single-layer plastic, a major portion of the multi-layer plastic is impossible to recycle because they contain materials other than plastic. Tetra packs contain paper material and can’t even be used for energy in industries due to the huge amount of ash it generates. The KSPCB has failed to provide details on recycling facilities, let alone targets met by PIBOs. This goes to show the extent of the implementation of the rule,” he added. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/17000-tonnes-of-multi-layered-plastic-choking-karnataka-kspcb-says-all-is-well-1199566.html  (12 March 2023)


Study ‘Himalayan glacial melt underestimated by 6.5%’ Glacial ice melt in the Himalayas between 2000 and 2020 may be underestimated by approximately 6.5% , and as much as 10% in central Himalayas, as per a new study published in Nature Geoscience. The finding is important because lake-terminating glaciers comprise about 25% glacier area in the Himalayas, said Tobias Bolch, study co-author and professor at Graz University of Technology in Austria. The study looked at one particular kind of glacier: those that terminate in a lake or a body of water. Glacial lakes are growing in the Himalayas and other high mountain areas due to rising temperatures.  The study is based on satellite data along with field measurement at 16 glacial lakes for cross checking.

– The study found that glacial lakes had increased in number by roughly 47% between 2000 and 2020, or an increase of 179 lakes per decade. Lakes increased by 33% and lake volume by 42% in the same period. The expanding glacial lakes resulted in roughly 2.7 gigatonnes of under-water ice loss, scientists calculated, adding to the total ice loss numbers. Most of these “lake-terminating” glaciers are located in the central Himalayas, eastern Himalayas, and the Nyainqentanglha mountains in Tibet. It is also in these areas where the underestimation of ice loss has been highest, the study found, as glacial lakes have grown. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/himalayan-glacial-melt-underestimated-by-6-5/articleshow/99252599.cms  (05 April 2023)

EDIT in Deccan Herald (April 10 2023): The parliamentary standing committee report of Jal Shakti Ministry submitted last week highlighted the strategic importance of glaciers as a vital national resource and recommended the setting up of an overarching apex body for their management. It has proposed a dedicated mountain Hazard and Research Institute for glaciers. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/coordination-a-must-for-glacier-research-1208136.html  (10 April 2023)


Indian-Bhutan “In the field of hydro-power specifically, which has been the cornerstone of our economic relationship, we have agreed to an upward revision of tariff of the Chhukha hydro-electric project. This is the oldest hydroelectric project in Bhutan and is of great significance. Two, in the space of hydro-power itself, we will consider positively Bhutan’s request to sell power from Basochhu hydro-electric project. This would be perhaps done through the energy exchange mechanism of the market. The details are yet to be worked out but the discussion is that it could be done through the market exchange mechanism,” he said. India’s foreign secretary Kwatra said India would extend favourable consideration to Bhutan’s request regarding power trade and access to financing for new and upcoming hydropower projects. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-to-step-up-support-for-bhutans-five-year-plan-work-for-expediting-rail-link-project/articleshow/99247914.cms  (04 April 2023)

Bhutan’s fifth king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck’s visit to India this week had both substance and subtext. Hydropower, the “cornerstone” of India-Bhutan ties, also received a boost, with the government agreeing to consider Bhutanese requests for expediting long-delayed projects (Sankosh and Punatsangchhu), revising upwards the tariff on Chhukha, the oldest project, and buying power from the Basochhu power project. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/substance-and-subtext-the-hindu-editorial-on-india-bhutan-ties/article66706846.ece  (07 April 2023)

Both sides reiterated their commitment to finding a technically sound and cost-effective way forward for Punatsangchhu-I HEP. https://kuenselonline.com/india-bhutan-embark-on-bigger-milestones/  (06 April 2023)

With the revision of the export tariff of the Chukha hydropower by Nu 0.45, the 336MW Chukha hydropower project is estimated to earn an additional revenue of Nu 580M annually. The revision was announced during the visit of His Majesty The King to India from April 3 to 5 2023. The revised tariff is Rs 3 per unit, which represents a 17 percent increase over the earlier tariff of is Nu 2.55 a unit. In 2017, the Chukha power tariff was revised by 30 Chhetrum to Nu 2.55. As per the bilateral agreement the revision due was in January 2021, which is supposedly every four years. Chukha generates 1,800 million units (MU) of power annually. Overall, Chukha hydropower plant earns revenue of about Nu 4.5B annually out of which Nu 600M is from domestic sales.

– Similarly, the Government of India (GoI) agreed to positively consider Bhutan’s request for sale of power into the Indian Energy Exchange from the 64MW Basochhu hydropower project. The government of Bhutan has requested GoI to buy surplus power from the Basochhu hydropower project plant in the Indian market when there are surplus generations in summer months. The project generates 300 MU per annum, out of which it may export 200 MU. https://kuenselonline.com/chukha-export-tariff-revised-by-45-chhetrum-a-unit/  (06 April 2023)

IWT  India’s myopic bid to renegotiate IWT will hurt all of South Asia India’s 90-day notice to Pakistan to initiate renegotiation of the Indus Waters Treaty could pose a development and security dilemma for Pakistan and the rest of South Asia. By demanding its revision, India is rendering the well-functioning Indus Waters Treaty dysfunctional. However, while Pakistan is opposed to renegotiating the Indus Waters Treaty, India’s demands have unwittingly created a window of opportunity for Pakistan to initiate climate and water discussions with India on a range of issues, several of them reportedly stated in the letter to Pakistan.

– India has based its demand on two key factors: first, the Indus Waters Treaty’s dispute-resolution mechanisms aren’t working efficiently; and second, several new issues, such as global warming, have emerged that were not on the horizon when the treaty was signed in 1960. Regrettably, neither issue has been raised by India or Pakistan in the Permanent Indus Commission, which has had at least 116 meetings. Both points, if addressed, can help find ways of strengthening the treaty. The Indian letter of Jan 25, 2023 is based on the Aug 2021 report of India’s parliamentary standing committee on water resources on flood management and international water treaties, with particular reference to China, Pakistan & Bhutan.

– Let’s leverage this decision to rekindle the broker’s interest. Likewise, the emerging issues not covered in the treaty have created an opportunity for both countries to create an ecosystem of new agreements and additional protocol in the treaty that are equally beneficial to all upper and lower riparian states. In the present global climate, the Indus Waters Treaty has become a global common good. While declining the demand of reopening the treaty, Pakistan can still seek clarifications through specially convened Permanent Indus Commission meetings. Pakistan can also seek to double the frequency of its meetings from the minimum required number in order to create the necessary energy for resuscitating the treaty. https://scroll.in/article/1046934/opinion-indias-myopic-bid-to-renegotiate-indus-water-treaty-will-hurt-all-of-south-asia  (08 April 2023)

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on April 6 2023 that the Pakistan Foreign Ministry on April 3 forwarded the letter that was written by Pakistan’s Indus Water Commissioner to his Indian counterpart in response to the notice India sent to Pakistan on Jan 25 2023. Pakistani media, quoting unnamed officials, reported that Pakistan conveyed in the letter that it was ready to listen to New Delhi’s concerns about the treaty. The officials said the decision about the parleys on changes to the treaty will be taken once Pakistan hears India’s concerns at the PCIW (Permanent Commission of Indus Waters) level, said one of the reports. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/pakistan-responds-to-indias-notice-on-indus-waters-treaty-1207335.html  (06 April 2023)

Pakistan Saudi Arabia will provide USD 240 M for Multi-purpose 800 MW Mohmand Dam Project in NW Pakistan. It will help irrigate 6773 ha land. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/saudi-arabia/saudi-provides-240-million-for-pakistan-hydro-power-dam/articleshow/99319797.cms  (07 April 2023)

Bangladesh Sad plight of Sutang river Yet another river is in grave danger. Sutang, a transboundary river that stretches about 82km into Bangladesh’s territory connecting three upazilas of Habiganj, is reportedly in such a pathetic state that it can no longer be classified as a natural source of water. This has real consequences for the people who live nearby, and by extension the whole country as it turns from a once-fabled land of rivers into one of dying rivers. Over the last decade, several hundred factories have sprung up on the banks of the river, and they discharge their waste there indiscriminately. Among them are tiles, dyeing, chemical and battery factories. Their waste has led to the water turning “blacker and thicker than tar”, as per a recent BBC report.

– Sutang is one of the three rivers believed to be in the worst state among the 56 that were surveyed by the Rivers and Delta Research Centre (RDRC) as part of a year-long study. Its findings, unveiled in mid-March, showed massive levels of pollution during the lean period when the natural flow of rivers is at its lowest. We urge the concerned authorities to take stern action against those illegally dumping waste in rivers and thus slowly killing them. https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/editorial/news/river-barely-hanging-3288276 (4 Apr 2023)


Interesting meandering path of Jing River, a tributary of Yellow River.


MEKONG Time to change myopic view of the Mekong This must all be considered within the bigger picture – that keeping sand in the Mekong may well be the region’s most cost-effective climate adaptation strategy, a nature-positive way to build resilience. What is crystal clear is that the current situation must not prevail or we will be watching the Mekong Delta sink below the waves. The delta needs both mud and sand in tandem.

Because the specific role of sand was not understood and valued, the resilience and long-term survival of the Mekong has been sacrificed for short-term gain. We can halt unsustainable sand extraction and allow the Mekong to work for us. We need to chart a new course toward inclusive, resilient and sustainable development, a course where decisions factor in the value of a healthy Mekong and the diverse benefits it provides to people and nature. https://asiatimes.com/2023/04/time-to-change-myopic-view-of-the-mekong/  (04 April 2023)


USA Tulare Lake Was Drained Off the Map The heart of California’s Central Valley was once the largest body of fresh water west of the Mississippi River, dammed and drained into an empire of farms by the mid-20th century. Still, even longtime residents have been staggered this year by the brute swiftness with which Tulare Lake has resurfaced: In less than three weeks, a parched expanse of 30 square miles has been transformed by furious storms into a vast and rising sea. The lake bed is essentially a 790-square-mile bathtub.

– The lake’s rebirth has become a slow-motion disaster for farmers and residents in Kings County, home to 152,000 residents and a $2 billion agricultural industry. The wider and deeper Tulare Lake gets, the greater the risk that entire harvests will be lost, homes will be submerged and businesses will go under. The fear now is that record walls of snow in the southern Sierra Nevada will liquefy in the intensifying spring heat into a downhill torrent that will inundate the Central Valley.

– The resurrected Tulare Lake could remain for two years or longer, causing billions of dollars in economic damage and displacing thousands of farmworkers while transforming the area into the giant natural habitat it had been before it was conquered by farmers.

– In the lake’s revival, scientists, historians and growers see an epic rematch gathering between nature and humans. For now, nature seems determined to win in an era of climate change. High in the southern Sierra Nevada, a record snowpack, triple the historical average, will strain the water managers who are already running that plumbing system like never before. The load of water waiting to course downhill dwarfs what is there already. The lake could spread to 200 square miles or more. “A heavy snowmelt in May is going to be a disaster,” Mr. Grewal said. “This lake could cover hundreds of square miles here by the time everything comes down.” https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/02/us/tulare-lake-california-storms.html (2 Apr 2023)

NASA report on Tular Lake and likely flooding. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/151174/return-of-tulare-lake  (06 April 2023)

How much is the world’s most productive river worth? However, natural capital studies have largely focused on terrestrial ecosystems, where the trade-offs between human interventions and conservation are easier to see. When valuing rivers, the challenges run much deeper. “If you cut down a forest, the impact is directly visible,” Schmitt points out. “A river might look pristine, but its functioning may be profoundly altered by a faraway dam.”

(Article by Stefan Lovgren, Research scientist College of Science, University of Nevada, USA) https://theconversation.com/how-much-is-the-worlds-most-productive-river-worth-heres-how-experts-estimate-the-value-of-nature-200214  (04 April 2023)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 03 April 2023 & DRP News Bulletin 27 March 2023  

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.