While the publication by the Union Jal Shakti Ministry of the first water body census of India is not only welcome but urgently required, the usefulness of the census findings will depend on the quality of the information in the report. Firstly, such a census should have been conducted in a bottom up way, starting from villages in rural areas and ward in urban areas. That way, the census findings would have not only been more reliable, but also the process would have helped create greater awareness about the water bodies and issues surrounding them.
In case of Karnataka, as the report below shows the survey by the Tank Conservation and Development Authority and Karnataka Public Land Corporation in 2021 showed the state had 40483 water bodies, whereas the Jal Shakti Ministry census of 2022 says the state has just 26994 water bodies, a huge 13489 less than the 2021 census. Clearly so many water bodies cannot disappear in a year. As some experts from Karnataka have asked, is the Jal Shakti Census a deliberate attempt to show that a much lower number of water bodies exist, allowing encroachers to go ahead to destroy water bodies not registered in the census?
Thirdly, as the Down to Earth has pointed out, there is no data about the state of the catchment area of the water bodies, since the state of the catchment area would decide the health of the water body. In Maharashtra, the report below suggests, 92.7% water bodies are formed by check dams. This again looks a questionable number.
While detailed analysis of the Jal Shakti Ministry census will throw more light on the quality of the census numbers, the available information so far raises a lot of questions. We may need a better census soon that will really help us understand the state of India’s water bodies.
Karnataka 13489 water bodies lost in a year? Karnataka’s loss of 13,489 water bodies in just a year between 2021 and 2022 has become a pressing concern, following the recent release of the country’s first-ever census of water bodies by the Union Jal Shakti ministry. According to the census report, Karnataka has about 26,994 lakes and waterbodies and, of them, 21,120 waterbodies (78.2%) have either dried up or been irreparably destroyed. This is in stark contrast to findings of a joint survey conducted by the Tank Conservation and Development Authority and Karnataka Public Land Corporation in 2021 which had recorded 40,483 lakes, and the Karnataka State Remote Sensing Applications Centre (KSRSAC), a nodal agency for GIS and remote sensing in Karnataka, that had documented 33,326 lakes.
– Critical of the findings of the central ministry, Anjaneya Reddy of Shashwatha Neeravari Horta Samiti said, “All the figures published by the state government in 2021 were entirely based on scientific data and field verification of waterbodies. How can the numbers change so drastically in less than a year? Also, the census figures appear to be a deliberate attempt to bring down the number of waterbodies so that the land under these waterbodies can easily be taken over in the coming days. The state govt must reject these findings and share its scientific data with the Jal Shakti ministry.” Former secretary to the minor irrigation department and chief engineer Capt Raja Rao urged the government to contest these figures. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/13000-water-bodies-lost-in-1-year-centres-first-survey-puts-karnataka-lake-tally-at-mere-27000/articleshow/99773105.cms (26 Apr 2023)
In the first census carried out by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, 26,994 water bodies have been listed in Karnataka. The report states that out of all the water bodies, 21.8 per cent (5,874) are in use whereas the remaining 78.2 per cent (21,120) are not in use on account of drying up, siltation, salinity, destruction beyond repair and other reasons. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/census-27000-water-bodies-karnataka-78-not-in-use-8577713/ (27 April 2023)
Report 1 out of 6 Water Bodies can’t be used For the purposes of the census, a water body could be natural or man-made and be used for drinking or supporting industrial activities, including fisheries. They could also be linked to religious or recreational functions and groundwater recharge. But the definition excludes rivers, streams, lagoons, as also swimming pools or storage resulting from industrial activities like mining, construction and the like. A majority of water bodies are not at full capacity. Almost 59% are less than three-fourths full and about 7% had negligible amounts of water. The survey also found that most water bodies have not been at full capacity at any point in the last five years — about 48% were reported as filled up every year.
– At 20.3 lakh or 83.7%, most water bodies in India are in use. But the remaining 4 lakh or 16.3% water bodies are not usable due to low water levels, pollution, encroachment, or excess salinity. The most common use is for pisciculture, followed by irrigation and groundwater recharge. Only 1 in 10 water bodies acts as a source of drinking water. About 9 in 10 in-use water bodies serve up to 100 people each and just 1.7% are large enough to meet the needs of 50,000 people or more. About 89% of water bodies are used by a single village or town. https://epaper.timesgroup.com/timesspecial/governance-infrastructure/over-24l-water-bodies-but-1-out-of-6-can-t-be-used/1682531648357 (26 April 2023)
Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh 2,272 water bodies ‘not in use’ About 2,272 water bodies in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are “not in use” due to several reasons including dried up and destroyed beyond repair, Ministry of Jal Shakti census report has revealed. Ministry of Jal Shakti released the first ever census of Water Bodies. There are 9,765 water bodies in J & Kashmir and Ladakh and among them 7,493 are in use. The report has revealed that the 1,051 water bodies are not in use as they have dried up, 24 due to construction, 20 siltation, 214 destroyed behind repair, 01 salinity, 01 due to industrial effluents and 961 due to other reasons. Among not in use water bodies, 16 are in urban areas while rest are in rural areas and among in use water bodies 7431 are in rural areas and 62 are in urban areas. https://roshankashmir.net/2023/04/24/2272-water-bodies-not-in-use-in-jk-ladakh-census/ (24 April 2023)
Hridayesh Joshi on first water bodies census:-वाटरबॉडीज की पहली गणना से साफ अंदाजा होता है कि शहरी इलाकों में तालाबों और वाटरबॉडीज पर जमकर कब्जा हुआ है, जो बाढ़ और जल संकट दोनों का कारण बन रहा है. विशेषज्ञ कहते हैं यह गणना सही दिशा में उठाया कदम है लेकिन डाटा को अधिक सटीक और वृहद बनाने की ज़रूरत है। https://hindi.newslaundry.com/2023/04/26/indias-first-waterbodies-census-shows-more-than-24-lacs-waterbodies-in-india (26 April 2023)
DTE Turn around India’s water story India has some 2.4 million waterbodies, finds the country’s first census of all structures that hold rainwater and recharge groundwater. The census, conducted by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti (water resources), has geo-tagged each waterbody — photographs and latitude and longitude of each pond, tank, check dam or reservoir has been collated. There is no data about the state of the catchment area of the waterbodies, which would have helped determine how much of the groundwater is being recharged. But the fact is, this census is critical in these times of climate risk.
Traditional Japanese never discharged their waste into the rivers. Instead they composted the waste and used it in the fields. Using the rivers, Edo (the city out of which Tokyo grew) had numerous water outlets and much more egalitarian water supply. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/water/turn-around-india-s-water-story-88944 (25 Apr 2023)
EDIT Around 55% of India’s water bodies are privately owned, choking their access to marginalised communities such as the backward castes. Such conflicts are expected to worsen as the water crisis explodes. The information yielded by the survey must be used to institute a humane and democratic culture of consumption of a basic resource. https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/not-for-all-editorial-on-the-grim-reality-of-water-crisis/cid/1932678 (27 April 2023)
Gaon Connection The census reported 38,496 as encroached, out of which 95.4 per cent of the encroached water bodies are in rural areas. Ponds, tanks and lakes play a major role to fulfil water-related needs of the rural hinterlands, where tap connections are still a pipe dream. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/water-bodies-census-india-ponds-lakes-rural-india-crisis-summers-climate-change-52009 (29 Apr 2023)
Nagaland 94% water bodies privately owned There are 1,432 water bodies in Nagaland, out of which 1,287 (89.87%) are in rural areas and the remaining 145 (10.13%) are in urban areas and over 94% of those are privately-owned, informed the first Census of Water Bodies in India. The total for Nagaland comprised of 688 natural and 744 ‘man-made’ water bodies.
Majority of the water bodies were in the form of ponds-1298 (90.64%), while the rest were tanks- 72 (5.03%), lakes-12 (0.84%) and those under water conservation schemes etc-50 (3.49%). Majority of ‘in use’ water bodies are used for pisciculture (84.49%) such as fisheries, followed by irrigation and domestic/ drinking purpose, the census highlighted. https://morungexpress.com/over-94-of-water-bodies-in-nagaland-are-privately-owned (25 Apr 2023)
Maharashtra Of 97062 only 574 natural waterbodies The Jal Shakti Ministry’s first-ever nationwide water body census has identified a total of 97,062 water bodies in Maharashtra. Of them, 96,343 are in rural areas and only 719 in urban areas. Moreover, only 574 of these water bodies are said to be naturally occurring, while 96,488 are man-made in the form of tanks, bunds, irrigation ponds, reservoirs and other water harvesting structures. A staggering 92.7% of water bodies in the state are in the form of check dams, indicating much of rural Maharashtra’s reliance on water conservation schemes. This is more than any other state in the country, as per the census.
Also, an overwhelming 77% of all water bodies in the state are used for groundwater recharge with three districts—Aurangabad, Nashik and Jalna—featuring in India’s top five districts with the maximum number of recharge structures. The other two are Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh. Most notably, the survey found that only 0.26% of water bodies in Maharashtra—251 to be specific—are encroached upon, which is among the lowest in the country. By comparison, 6.24% of water bodies in Uttar Pradesh—15,301—were found to be encroached upon, the highest in the country. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/jal-shakti-ministry-s-nationwide-water-body-census-identifies-over-97k-water-bodies-in-maharashtra-with-92-7-in-the-form-of-check-dams-77-used-for-groundwater-recharge-encroachment-at-only-0-26-among-the-lowest-in-the-country-waterconservation-maharashtracensus-101682448079416.html (26 April 2023)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
SANDRP Blog April 2023: Breach in micro hydel canal in Punjab Local people have also blamed thermal plant management and the administration of negligence. They said that the damages could have been minimized if the management had reacted promptly to plug the seepages and to stop water supply to the breached canal.
They further stated that despite timely information, the thermal plant management and administration remained inactive and the breached widened in couple of hours which finally washed away a part of concrete canal. As a result, the wheat, fodder crops were damaged by the gushing water apart from flooding of some houses. https://sandrp.in/2023/04/27/april-2023-breach-in-micro-hydel-canal-damages-crops-in-punjab/ (27 April 2023)
Arunachal Pradesh SIFF opposes proposed 10k Mw mega dam Siang The Siang Indigenous Farmer’s Forum (SIFF) on April 27 2023 said that the Adi community of Siang district will never accept the proposal of a 10,000 MW dam over the Siang River. SIFF representative Bhanu Tatak said that the Adi community has been opposing the proposal of dam construction over the Siang river for over a decade, as it would submerge almost all areas and villages of the community. The Forum also condemned the signing of MoUs for 13 GW hydropower projects by Power Minister R K Singh and CM Pema Khandu, which are reportedly scheduled to take place during the last week of April. Tatak questioned why the state government was pursuing non-renewable projects like mega hydropower projects when renewable projects like solar and wind energy need to be promoted.
– Tatak further informed that the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) has been conducting survey activities forcefully, despite stiff opposition from the dam-affected farmers and SIFF. She also claimed that SIFF members were being harassed by the district administration and threatened with the use of Army and Paramilitary forces. https://arunachalobserver.org/2023/04/28/siff-opposes-proposed-10k-mw-mega-dam-over-siang/ ; https://www.eastmojo.com/arunachal-pradesh/2023/04/27/arunachal-siff-rejects-proposal-of-10000-mw-dam-over-siang-river (27/28 April 2023)
The SIFF said that it submitted representations to the governor, the chief secretary and the power ministry in this regard on 26 April, and claimed that the NHPC “is forcefully conducting survey activities during the night, in spite of the strong and stiff opposition from the dam-affected farmers and the SIFF.” “Construction of such huge dams on the Siang river will lead to submergence of all the developmental activities undertaken till date in the Siang valley,” the forum said, and added that the affected villagers were neither informed, and nor were their consent sought prior to the proposed signing of the MoA. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/04/29/farmers-oppose-moa-for-power-project/ (29 April 2023)
PRI leaders demand cancellation of tender for Keyi HEP The panchayat leaders of Shally, Pistana and Ambam panchayats in Lower Subansiri district have demanded cancellation of the tender for civil and HM works for the 2×11.5 MW Keyi HEP floated by M/s DD Hydro Power Project Pvt Ltd. In a representation to the hydropower development chief engineer (monitoring) on Apr 26, 2023, the panchayat leaders said that, “instead of fulfilling the basic public demand of the three panchayats, the authority of M/s DD Hydro Power Project has invited tender for Keyi HEP without completion of basic formalities for the project.”
– The representation further stated that, despite a series of representations and complaints submitted by the people of the three panchayats since 2015 to the authority concerned against the proposed HEP on Keyi river, “the grievances of the land-affected people have not been redressed yet.” “Till date there are no proper formalities, and no land acquisition was made by the authorities of M/s DD Hydro Power Project,” the representation stated. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/04/29/pri-leaders-demand-cancellation-of-tender-for-keyi-hep/ (29 April 2023)
Lower Subansiri HEP Kolkata-based Texmaco Rail & Engineering Limited on April 28 2023 said it has completed the largest spillway radial gates in the country in terms of the hydraulic capacity, size and the weight, for the 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project at a cost of Rs 350 Crores. The three high-head submerged Radial Gate was made operational in April. https://theprint.in/economy/texmaco-builds-countrys-largest-spillway-radial-gates-for-subansiri-hydropower-project/1545187/ (28 April 2023)
Uttarakhand Blasting for hydro project tunnel caused cracks in homes Cracks of 0.1 mm to 2 mm have been found in about 50 houses in Sirsolipatti-Bankot village in Pithoragarh district. This has been noticed through a survey by geologists. The cause of the cracks has been ascribed to the explosion in the under-construction tunnel of the Khutani Hydro Project. The Khutani Power Project company is constructing a 21 MW hydro power house in Saryu river in which two tunnels are being built. People of Sirsoli Patti village have been complaining for a year about cracks appearing in their houses and other places due to blast in the under-construction tunnel. They have staged protest too. https://www.pioneeredge.in/cracks-found-in-50-houses-in-pithoragarh-district/ (26 April 2023) अनुसूचित जाति बहुल सिरसोली पट्टी गांव के लोग निर्माणाधीन टनल में हो रहे विस्फोट की वजह से घरों और अन्य स्थानों पर आ रही दरारों की शिकायत एक साल से कर रहे हैं। बनकोट गांव के ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि दरारों की शिकायत लंबे समय से कंपनी और शासन-प्रशासन से कर रहे हैं। इसके बाद भी सुरक्षात्मक कार्य नहीं किए जा रहे हैं। उन्होंने जबरन काम बंद कराने की चेतावनी दी है। https://www.amarujala.com/dehradun/uttarakhand-news-panic-in-pithoragarh-cracks-in-50-houses-of-sirsolipatti-village-due-to-explosion-in-tunnel-2023-04-25 (25 April 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Resistance against hydropower projects reaches Ropa Valley government’s plan to generate 722.4 MW by constructing 27 hydropower projects has triggered a boycott of hydel energy in the state. The boycott, with the tagline ‘NO MEANS NO’, is a youth-led campaign strongly supported by villagers, especially in the Kinnaur district. The largest, Ropa Khadd Hydroelectric Project, was supposed to be built on Satluj’s tributary Ropa and expected to generate 205 MW. Despite two bidding rounds—May 2022 and April 18 this year—no bidder has come forward due to the increasing resistance from locals. According to campaign members, the recent landslides and climate change in the state have triggered resistance resulting in a series of discussions at the village level to educate the communities about the potential impacts of these hydroelectric projects.
Activist and educator Narendra Negi says that corporate entities and the government “can no longer manipulate locals as the youth have understood the devastation these projects cause”. Manshi Asher, a senior researcher affiliated with the environment and research collective Himdhara who co-authored the study, told Newsclick that the upper areas of Kinnaur, where the Ropa Valley is located, is a “highly seismic zone and prone to landslides”. “Kinnaur witnessed a lot of landslides, flash floods and erosion in the last few years. Our research found that such climate hazards are being exacerbated due to land use change caused by hydroelectric projects in the region.”https://www.newsclick.in/resistance-against-himachal-hydropower-projects-reaches-ropa-valley (28 April 2023)
Centre terms water cess unconstitutional Terming the imposition of water cess on hydel power generation by some states as illegal and unconstitutional, the Centre on Tuesday (April 25) directed State governments to withdrawal it promptly. MP Pradhan, Director, Ministry of Power, shot off a letter to Chief Secretaries of all the State Governments with regard to imposition of cess. “This is illegal and unconstitutional. Any tax/duty on generation of electricity, which encompasses all types of generation, thermal, hydro, wind, solar, nuclear, etc., is illegal and unconstitutional,” the letter reads.
The letter has cited eight constitutional provisions while stating that all such taxes or duties cannot be under the guise of generation of electricity and if any taxes or duties have been levied by any state, it should be withdrawn promptly. Some states, including Himachal and Uttarakhand, have imposed water cess on hydel power generation to be borne by power producers, both private as well as government undertakings. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/centre-asks-states-to-withdraw-water-cess-terming-it-illegal-and-unconstitutional-500880 (25 April 2023)
The HP High Court today issued notice to the state and the Central Government on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the HP Water Cess on Hydropower Generation Act, 2023. A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Virender Singh directed government officials to file their replies within three weeks. The court issued the notice on a petition filed by Nanti Hydro Power Private Limited, Shimla.
– Senior counsel for the petitioner contended that the Himachal Pradesh Water Cess on Hydropower Generation Act 2023 was unconstitutional as the state lacks legislative competence to enact the law. He stated that the Bill received the assent of the Governor but it was not sent to the President for her approval. As such, the mandatory provisions of Article 288 of the Constitution had not been followed. Consequently, the Act lacked constitutional validity and was illegal and deserved to be set aside. The petition contended in its petition that the levy of water cess would make hydropower projects commercially unviable and unsustainable, hampering the overall growth of the sector. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/hc-notice-to-state-centre-over-plea-against-water-cess-501429 (27 April 2023)
The Deputy CM said, “Himachal is under a debt burden of Rs 75,000 crore and there is dire need to generate additional resources of revenue. We will fight for the rights of the state and under no circumstances we will buckle under the pressure of the Central Government.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/opposition-to-water-cess-shows-centre-anti-himachal-deputy-cm-mukesh-agnihotri-502960 (29 April 2023)
The Centre on Wednesday (April 26) issued a terse warning to States against resorting to tax levies on electricity generation, including through imposition of a water cess, noting that there were no provisions in the Constitution that enabled States to do so. States are empowered by the Constitution to levy taxes on consumption or sale of electricity in their jurisdiction, but this does not include the power to impose any tax or duty on the generation of electricity. “This is because electricity generated within the territory of one State may be consumed in other States and no State has the power to levy taxes / duties on residents of other States,” the Ministry pointed out. https://www.thehindu.com/business/centre-tells-states-to-scrap-levies-on-power-generation/article66781843.ece (26 April 2023)
Industry The levellised tariff for pumped storage hydro projects in the base case, assuming a capital cost of Rs 6.5 crore per MW, is estimated at about Rs 5 per unit, and the landed tariff, including the cost of energy required for pumping, is estimated at Rs 9 a unit, said an ICRA report. The tariff competitiveness is modest. The PSP projects will need market reforms to be price competitive. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/timely-implementation-of-market-reforms-key-to-improve-financial-viability-of-pumped-hydro-storage-icra/99779703 (26 April 2023)
MoEF Decisions of the EAC on River Valley Projects meeting held on March 27-28 from the minutes of the meeting now available:
1. Sonbhadra Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (1200 MW) in 453.11 Ha at Village Bahera, Tehsil Robertsganj, Dist Sonbhadra (Uttar Pradesh) by Sri Siddharth Infratech & Services (I) Pvt Ltd– Terms of Reference: APPROVED
2. Greenko TN-01 Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (1200 MW) in 547.22 Ha at village Tirumalaikuppam, Taluk Ambur, Dist Tirupathur (Tamil Nadu) by Greenko Energies Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference: APPROVED
3. Cerulean-II Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage project (640 MW) in 444.78 Ha at village Regulguda, Manikapatar & Sarkepally, Tehsil Wankidi & Kagaznagar,
Dist Komaram Bheem (Telangana) by Cerulean Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd-Terms of Reference: APPROVED
4. Semaliya-II Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (1200 MW) in 701.58 Ha at Village Khera, Tehsil Begun, Dist Chittorgarh, (Rajasthan) by Semaliya Energy Pvt Ltd- Terms of Reference: APPROVED
5. Astha Telangana Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (600 MW), in 419.43 Ha at Village Mailaram, Dist Nizamabad (Telangana) by Astha Green Energy Ventures India Pvt Ltd–Terms of Reference: APPROVED
6. Upper Indravati Pumped Storage Project 600 MW in 164 Ha at Village Mukhiguda, Kalahandi Dist (Odisha) by Odisha Hydro Power Corp Ltd-Terms of Reference: Site visit suggested
7. Astha UP Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage project (640 MW) in 316.63 Ha at Village Katra and Sansarpur, Tehsil Lalgang and Koraon, Dist Mirzapur & Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh) by Astha Green Energy Ventures India Pvt. Ltd – Terms of Reference: APPROVED
8. Rewa Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (600 MW) in 449.47 Ha at Village Dhakara No.2, Tehsil Teonthar, Dist Rewa (Madhya Pradesh) by Sasa Stone Pvt Ltd- Terms of Reference: APPROVED
9. Sirohi Pumped Storage Project (640 MW) in 311.99 Ha at Village Chhibagaon, Tehsil Shivgang, Dist Sirohi (Rajasthan) by Sasa Stone Pvt Ltd Terms of Reference: APPROVED
10. MP Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (600 MW) in 438.36 Ha at Village Bhasuda, Tehsil Ajaigarh, Dist Panna (Madhya Pradesh) by Rithwik Projects Pvt Ltd – Terms of Reference: APPROVED
11. Kolhapur Off-Stream Closed Loop Pumped Storage Project (1200 MW) in 390.95 Ha at Village Dhamapura, Kanu BK, Tehsil Chandgad, Dist Kolhapur (Maharashtra) by Rithwik Projects Pvt Ltd- Terms of Reference: APPROVED https://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/2504202398975110Final_MoM_44_EAC_River_valley_27_03_2023.pdf
Hirakud Dam Pay compensation to displaced: NHRC National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the state govt to compensate and rehabilitate people displaced by the Hirakud dam in accordance with applicable law. The commission passed its final order on a plea which alleged that thousands of affected families are yet to get proper compensation. The NHRC passed the order on April 13 after hearing a petition filed on March 6, 2017, by lawyer and human rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy. The petitioner said 26,561 families were displaced for construction of the Hirakud dam project and alleged that due compensation was not paid to them.
– On September 8 last year, the commission said it has considered the reports submitted by the governments of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. After the intervention of NHRC in this matter, construction of road, installation of mobile towers, opening of bank branches, safe drinking water facilities and water pipelines have been done in all four districts of Chhattisgarh, sources said. The order said the Odisha government has also taken various steps for the welfare and resettlement of displaced families. The report revealed that in the last one year, 1,700 homestead land pattas have been allotted including payment of compensation to the affected families. A notification has been issued regarding survey of villages yet to be surveyed. Earlier, the NHRC had deputed its special rapporteur for a detailed investigation into the matter. In its report, the special rapporteur submitted that a large number of affected people did not receive compensation. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/pay-compensation-to-hirakud-displaced-nhrc-directs-govt/articleshow/99747136.cms (25 April 2023)
INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES
Mahanadi Water Dispute Chhattisgarh opens Kalma barrage gates ahead of MWDT visit The Chhattisgarh government’s move to open 20 of the 66 gates of Kalma barrage releasing water to the Mahanadi river system ahead of the visit of Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal team to Odisha has led to clamour that the neighbouring state is trying to prove Odisha is getting a fair share of water during non-monsoon period.
Confirming the report of release of water by the neighbouring state, Engineer-in-Chief of Water Resources department Bhakta Mohanty told media persons that Chhattisgarh had opened 17 gates of Kalma barrage on Tuesday (April 25) and three more on Wednesday (April 26). There is no noticeable increase in the water level in Hirakud dam. The sudden release of water from Kalma barrage ahead of the visit of the tribunal team and without any intimation to Odisha has created suspicion about the motive of Chhattigarh government.
A team of the tribunal, assisted by technical teams from the two warring states, had undertaken a five-day visit to Chhattisgarh from April 17 to 21 in the first phase. In the second leg, the tribunal members are scheduled to visit Odisha from April 29 to May 3. The chief engineer of Hirakud dam expressed his inability to tell about the exact inflow of water in the absence of any information from Kalma barrage authorities. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2023/apr/27/chhattisgarhopens-20kalma-barrage-gates-ahead-ofmahanadi-water-dispute-tribunal-team-visit-2569898.html (27 April 2023) Water experts and political leaders accused the neighbouring State of attempting to mislead the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal led by Supreme Court Justice A.M. Khanwilkar. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/experts-question-timing-of-chhattisgarhs-release-of-water-into-mahanadi/article66782148.ece (27 April 2023) The BJD maintained the state government had demanded an end to illegal construction activities by the Chhattisgarh government when it came to know about construction of barrages by it. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bhubaneswar/2023/apr/29/parties-in-odishaspar-on-mahanadi-dispute-with-chhattisgarh-2570554.html (29 April 2023)
RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS
Uttar Pradesh गंगा मेंई-बोट, क्रूज और कार्गो के बाद जल्द ही वाटर टैक्सी दौड़ती नजर आएगी। भारतीय अन्तरदेशीय जलमार्गप्राधिकरण (आईडब्ल्यूएआई) और पर्यटन विभाग अस्सी सेनमो घाट के बीच टैक्सी चलवाएंगे एं । इस दूरी मेंचार स्टेशन बनेंगेजिनके लिए जलमार्गप्राधिकरण फ्लोटिंग जेटी उपलब्ध कराएगा। विज्ञापन मंगलवार (April 25) को इस संबंध मेंप्राधिकरण के चेयरमैन संजय बंद्योपाध्याय और कमिश्नर कौशलराज शर्माके बीच सहमति बनी। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/story-after-e-boat-cruise-and-cargo-in-varanasi-now-water-taxi-will-be-seen-running-in-ganga-4-stations-will-be-built-this-will-be-the-route-8087664.html (26 April 2023)
Kerala Opposition against plans to construct artificial canal gains strength in Kannur The opposition against plans to construct an artificial canal for arterial inland waterways from Mahe to Valapattanam is gaining strength in Kannur.
Those raising protests demand that instead of the project that will displace people and create environmental destruction, the government should implement the Coastal Waterways project through the sea that was proposed by the E.K. Nayanar government. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/opposition-against-plans-to-construct-artificial-canal-gains-strength-in-kannur/article66796608.ece (30 April 2023)
Mula-Mutha; Pune At Chipko Andolan site, rising chorus Several hundreds people participated in the Chipko Andolan on Jangali Maharaj Road in Pune on Saturday, Apr 29 2023. Residents turned up in huge numbers to protest against the plan to fell approximately 7,000 trees for a riverfront development project. The project includes the river front work of a 44km river stretch, which includes 22.2 km of the Mula river, 10.4 km of the Mutha river and 11.8 km of Mula-Mutha river. The project is divided into multiple stretches and work has begun on two stretches.
– 70-year-old Mayuri Gandhi, a school teacher, used to love spending her time outdoors, trekking or birdwatching. But lately she feels that she does not enjoy these activities quite so much as nature is getting harmed. “Under the guise of river development, they are actually doing more harm to the river than good. The trees are being uprooted and replaced with concrete, which will in turn damage the roots of other trees and disturb the entire ecosystem,” she said.
– Mrunal Vaidya, 50, a homemaker and a member of the Jivit Nadi Living Rivers Foundation highlighted another important aspect of trees and the damage the decision to cut the trees could cause. “A classic riparian tree, called locally as ‘shindi’ takes close to a 100 years to reach its maximum height and has a small girth. If trees like these are cut down, not only is the tree lost but along with that the 500-odd bird and insect species it is supporting are also damaged. If you are replacing that with a new, small ‘parijat’ tree, how can it support these species? Also, which trees will be planted and whether they can adapt and survive on the riverbank are other important points to be factored in. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/punes-chipko-andolan-site-rising-chorus-time-for-trees-8583088/ (29 April 2023)
Activist Sarang Yadwadkar said that flood levels of the Mula and Mutha rivers would rise by five feet due to the project as the width of the water course is being reduced. “Environmental clearance was given on the condition that not a single tree will be cut, but without any permission, the PMC has already started felling trees inside the river bed,” he said. PM Modi had laid the foundation stone of the project in March 2022. https://www.ndtv.com/pune-news/chipko-protest-in-pune-against-tree-felling-for-riverfront-project-3991703 (30 April 2023)
The city’s environmental activists have decided to return Pune Municipal Corporation’s “Paryavaran Doot” award while condemning the civic body’s decision to cut around 6,000 trees for the proposed riverfront development project. The activists will hold a “public hearing” on rampant tree cutting in the form of a “Chalo Chipko” protest to be carried out near Sambhaji Park, Deccan Gymkhana Pune on April 29. They have appealed to residents to join the protest to protest the natural ecosystems of Pune city and its surroundings.
The activists issued a statement saying PMC’s detailed project report (DPR) of the riverfront project claims that the existing trees along the riverbanks have been accommodated in the planning of the project. “But a few thousand trees, including some rare and old trees, are being cut just for a 1-km stretch of the riverfront being constructed to showcase the project,” the statement reads. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/environmentalists-return-award-protest-6-000-tree-cutting-for-pune-riverfront-project-pmc-treecutting-riverfrontdevelopment-protest-pune-101682359816385.html (24 April 2023)
“In a desperate attempt at damage control, PMC released this statement at 11 pm on Monday (April 24) night. There are so many contradictions between this release, the RFD DPR and the tree docket that even at first glance, it raises concerns.” Sushma Date https://www.punekarnews.in/pune-pmc-clarifies-misconceptions-about-mula-mutha-river-rejuvenation-project-and-trees-cutting/ (24 April 2023)
Debri dumping on riverbank sparks concern Hundreds of trees are being buried under construction and other debris on the Mula riverbank. And the dumping activity, eyewitnesses allege, has been going on around the clock.While Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) claimed there was a possibility that the dumping was being done by a third party not attached to the Riverfront Development (RFD) project, the contractor who has taken up work on a stretch near the dumping site said that part of the riverbank did not come under his jurisdiction.
The question then is, who has been doing such work near PMC’s ambitious RFD project with such audacity? The stretch where trucks are constantly dumping debris and damaging trees can be accessed through the Kailash crematorium. When activists got an inkling of the activity, they rushed to the spot. The people present at the site said they had the required permission for dumping debris and burying the trees. https://punemirror.com/pune/cover-story/debri-dumping-on-mula-riverbank-sparks-concern/cid1682621561.htm (28 April 2023)
Musi; Hyderabad Round table meeting to ‘Save Musi’ on April 30 Members of the Society for Earth Justice organisation has invited citizens to participate in the meeting that will begin at 1 pm to address the critical issue of uptaking the cleanup drive for Musi River water. Musi, a tributary of Krishna River that flows in Hyderabad and surrounding areas is polluted by sewage and industrial waste containing toxic and hazardous materials such as heavy metals, phenols, and pesticides. This pollution is affecting crops, livestock, and dairy products, as well as causing skin problems, eye problems, and vomiting in certain seasons. https://www.siasat.com/hyderabad-round-table-meeting-to-save-musi-on-april-30-2577852/ (28 April 2023)
Buddha Dariya; Ludhiana Activists demand sewerage audit of all industrial units With the civic body catching hold of defaulting dyeing units for directly dumping their untreated water into MC sewerage lines, the residents and activists demand a proper sewerage outlet audit of all units. They have also demanded involvement of city residents in policy making and other such things where residents are directly affected with their decision. Recently in a meeting, the ruling party MLAs raised doubts over the success of Rs 650 crore Buddha Dariya rejuvenation project, which was quite disappointing for activists fighting for converting the polluted drain into a clean water body. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/water-pollution-green-activists-demand-sewerage-audit-of-all-industrial-units/articleshow/99831263.cms (28 April 2023) Complete Buddha Nullah rejuvenation project within deadline: Chief secretary. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/punjab-chief-secretary-vijay-kumar-janjua-reviews-buddha-nullah-cleaning-project-and-inspect-state-s-biggest-sewer-treatment-plant-punjab-buddhanullah-sewertreatmentplant-cleaningproject-101682703648278.html (28 April 2023)
SANDRP Blog Changing Course: Teesta Mahananda Rivers in North Bengal Guest Article by Steve Lockett, Mahseer Trust Rivers change course, it is part of their being. A river changing course can bring unexpected or unwanted ramifications. Sometimes they can be quite devastating. But when they come as a result of deliberate actions to alter the river’s course how can we expect people, whole communities or wildlife to cope?
The Teesta river was previously a tributary of the Ganges then it shifted to join Brahmaputra in 1787. As with many rivers of the Ganges – Brahmaputra – Meghna basins, wholesale shifts are commonplace and to a large extent, people and wildlife have adapted to live with these hydrological movements. But when humans engineer rivers to force them to change course, expect them to bite back. https://sandrp.in/2023/05/01/changing-course-teesta-mahananda-rivers-in-north-bengal/ (01 May 2023)
Study Sediment delivery to sustain the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta under climate change & anthropogenic impacts Abstract:- The principal nature-based solution for offsetting relative sea-level rise in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta is the unabated delivery, dispersal, and deposition of the rivers’ ~1 billion-tonne annual sediment load. Recent hydrological transport modeling suggests that strengthening monsoon precipitation in the 21st century could increase this sediment delivery 34-60%; yet other studies demonstrate that sediment could decline 15-80% if planned dams and river diversions are fully implemented. We validate these modeled ranges by developing a comprehensive field-based sediment budget that quantifies the supply of Ganges-Brahmaputra river sediment under varying Holocene climate conditions. Our data reveal natural responses in sediment supply comparable to previously modeled results and suggest that increased sediment delivery may be capable of offsetting accelerated sea-level rise. This prospect for a naturally sustained Ganges-Brahmaputra delta presents possibilities beyond the dystopian future often posed for this system, but the implementation of currently proposed dams and diversions would preclude such opportunities. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-38057-9 (27 April 2023)
BRAHMAPUTRA Assam Slow Disaster: Life of the storytellers of Majuli Fascinating: Says Mitul Baruah, an ethnographer and author (Slow Disaster: Political Ecology of Hazards and Everyday Life in the Brahmaputra Valley, Assam; Mitul Baruah, Routledge, kindle price $52) about people of Majuli: “I call the people of Majuli extraordinary storytellers because of their almost lyrical description of things around them, including the crises facing them. They have a story to tell about everything — the river, the long boat journeys to sell pottery, the adventures of fishing, the water buffaloes, the otters and ghost stories, life during flood and erosion, and much more. Some of them are so animated and dramatic in their storytelling that they leave me completely awestruck. Sometimes I wonder if storytelling is also a coping mechanism for this disaster-weary population.”
– “The book presents an in-depth analysis of the role of the state in the production of disasters in Majuli. It pays attention to the questions of hydraulic infrastructure, the embankments in particular, as well as everyday functioning of the state, bureaucratic arbitrariness, and the nexus between the state and various non-state actors.”
– Some of the key issues noticed during the field work: “First, although I was aware of the adverse impacts of embankments, it was only during my fieldwork that I witnessed how the embankments have indeed rendered the Majuli landscape vulnerable to flooding and erosion. Also, prior to this research, I had no idea that the local people, especially those living by the river, were so averse to the embankments. In fact, some of my interlocutors in Majuli referred to the embankments as the “weapons of death.” Second, I was surprised to see that riverside families facing erosion and displacement were highly keen on resettlement outside the island. Third, it was a delight to see the deep ecological knowledge that the islanders possessed, and the strong connections — material, cultural and spiritual — that they shared with the local ecologies.”
– “I have discussed at length the role of the state in reshaping lives and local ecologies in Majuli. A huge part of it is about the dominant flood and erosion control measures — that is, through embankments and cognate infrastructures — which are essentially a colonial legacy. These infrastructures have failed to achieve their intended goals and instead produced a whole range of unintended risks. Additionally, the agrarian policies and directions of the state, increasingly modelled after the Green Revolution, have rendered the rural population much more vulnerable.”
– “At the same time, the state has not done enough to rehabilitate the displaced families. Currently, there are over 10,000 displaced families on the island, many of whom have been residing by the embankment for decades. During my fieldwork, some of these people referred to themselves as “forgotten citizens.” https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/mitul-baruah-book-slow-disaster-majuli-floods/article66773551.ece (27 April 2023)
Bihar Story of small rivers There is no trace of many small rivers. No one remembers. Ruchi Shree set out to track a few in Bihar. She found railway lines and bridges where rivers once were. Her field report. https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/field-report/bridges-rail-lines-where-small-rivers-once-flowed/ (21 April 2023)
Chhattisgarh Farming on the bed of the Mahanadi In Mahasamund district, the river bed is used to cultivate crops.
Farmers from Paragaon and Ghodari villages have divided the sandy patches amongst themselves and farm here from December to May. https://ruralindiaonline.org/en/articles/farming-on-the-bed-of-the-mahanadi/ (29 April 2023)
Himachal Pradesh चंबा के बाद अब सिरमौर जिले में एक टूटा है. पुल के ऊपर से एक ओवलोड ट्रक गुजरा रहा था तो इसी दौरान यह पुल दो हिस्सों में टूट कर गिर गया. हादसे में ट्रक ड्राइवर घायल हुआ है. उसे इलाज के लिए अस्पताल में भर्ती करवाया गया है. गौरतल है कि हाल ही में हिमाचल के हमीरपुर और कांगड़ा में निर्माणाधीन पुल गिर गए थे. वहीं, चंबा के होली में लैंडस्लाइड से होली पुल टूट गया था. https://hindi.news18.com/news/himachal-pradesh/nahan-sirmour-danoi-bridge-collapsed-truck-fall-into-river-renukaji-cut-off-from-himachal-5978337.html (25 April 2023)
An under-construction bridge collapsed near Jahu village in Bhoranj division of the PWD on March 30. There was no casualty as no worker was there when the incident occurred. The bridge gave way in just a few hours after its shuttering was removed. The tender of the bridge work was awarded to a contractor in 2021. He was expected to complete the work this year. It has been learnt that the 75-metre-long bridge was part of the Jahu to Kot link road being constructed at a cost of Rs 2.4 crore. It had three spans of 25 metre each and the length of the link road was 2 km. The estimated cost of the bridge was about Rs 1.25 crore. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/bridge-collapses-in-bhoranj-hours-after-shuttering-removed-493147 (31 March 2023)
Madhya Pradesh 5 months on, Chhoti Mahanadi bridge repair yet to begin Built under the Bansagar Project in 2005 at a cost of Rs 15 crore, the 900 m bridge slowly began to sink, with a central pillar going down by around two ft. In 2018, when cracks were spotted during an inspection, the state government invited tenders for repairs and spent Rs 7.5 crore on it. Last October, heavy vehicles were barred entry after cracks were spotted in the areas adjacent to where repairs were done earlier and on the lower part of the bridge. The very next month, Katni district Collector Avi Prasad banned the entry of all types of four-wheelers by issuing an order under the Disaster Management Act. The current estimate for repairs is Rs 22 crore, excluding the GST. On what necessitated repairs again, Praman Kumar Tripathi, Executive Engineer, Bansagar Project, told 101Reporters that a flawed design that couldn’t withstand the increased traffic was the main reason. https://101reporters.com/article/development/Five_months_after_road_closure_Chhoti_Mahanadi_bridge_repair_yet_to_begin (21 April 2023)
YAMUNA Delhi DDA budget focus on infra, restoring floodplain The DDA in a meeting chaired by its Chairman L-G VK Saxena today approved the Budget 2023-24 with an annual outlay of Rs 7,643 crore and receipts projected at Rs 8,541 crore. An allocation of Rs 3,314 crore has been made for the development of land, physical infrastructure and the maintenance of existing infrastructure, including roads, sewerage, water supply, power distribution system and drainage in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of the DDA.
The DDA has earmarked Rs 405 crore in the Budget for the development of the Yamuna riverfront. The authority is spending around Rs 928.92 crores for the rejuvenation and restoration of the floodplains of the Yamuna. The work is being taken up in 10 separate sub-projects. An amount of Rs 100 crore has been sanctioned for the construct of a 7.2-km trunk drain to prevent waterlogging in Sectors 20, 21, 22, 39, 40 and 41 in Rohini and 106 unauthorised colonies in Kirari Assembly constituency. The entire project will cost Rs 293.21 crore. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/delhi/dda-approves-budget-focus-on-infra-restoring-yamuna-floodplain-492468 (30 March 2023)
Delhi and Haryana govt officials will work together to clean and rejuvenate the Yamuna, Raj Niwas officials said on Friday (April 28), after LG instructed them to evolve a strategy to collaborate closely for the purpose. Following several rounds of talks between the L-G and CM Manohar Lal, senior officials of the two States, including the Chief Secretaries of Delhi and Haryana, attended a meeting chaired by the L-G on Thursday (April 27), according to the officials. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/delhi-haryana-officials-to-work-in-coordination-to-clean-polluted-yamuna/article66790099.ece (29 April 2023)
Chasing a dying river: Yamuna in distress In the ongoing photo exhibition titled ‘Chasing a Dying River: Ghat 24 Yamuna, Delhi, India’, which runs till the end of August in New York, artists and academics Praveen K Chaudhry and Souzeina Mushtaq look at the river as a site of political posturing at the intersection of ritualistic faith and industrial greed. The artists’ work is informed by their keen observation of the politics of pollution and beautification centered around the river. The photos bear witness to the trying times the country faced during the pandemic which caused uncountable deaths, symbolised perhaps by the dying Yamuna: they raise questions about the dichotomy reflected in India’s relationship with the river, which is both worshipped and systematically abused. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/chasing-a-dying-river-weekender_story-279744 (19 April 2023)
Agra Rs 9.3 cr fine on civic body for polluting Yamuna The SPCB has imposed a fine of Rs 9.3 crore on the Agra Municipal Corporation (AMC) for failing to prevent discharge of filth and sewage through eight drains into the Yamuna. The action came after the civic body ignored previous notices. Earlier this month, the principal bench of NGT had directed the UP chief secretary and other concerned authorities in the state, to take remedial action regarding the discharge of pollution in the Yamuna at Agra. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/rs-9-3-crore-fine-on-agra-civic-body-for-polluting-yamuna/articleshow/99744166.cms (25 April 2023)
Haryana Tiger at Kalesar NP caught on camera A tiger has been spotted in a camera trap at Kalesar National Park in Yamunanagar district. Sources said the tiger was seen in the camera trap near Gugga Fire Line of this forest on April 18. Sources said the authorities of the Forest and Wildlife Department, Yamunanagar, had got information about the likely presence of a tiger in Kalesar National Park in the last week of January this year. As per available information, the tiger might have come here roaming from Rajaji National Park, Dehradun, in Uttarakhand, which has a large number of tigers.
Kalesar National Park (spread over 11,570 acres in Yamunanagar district), Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary (having an area of 13,209 acres) and Sher Jung National Park, Simbalwada in Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh are connected to Rajaji National Park through a dense forest area. According to information, leopards, elephants, barking deer, wild boars, sambars and several other species of wild animals and birds are found in Kalesar National Park and Kalesar National Sanctuary. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/tiger-at-kalesar-national-park-in-yamunanagar-caught-on-camera-501655 (28 April 2023)
In February, an adult tiger was spotted in Himachal Pradesh through a camera trap, making it the first ever tiger seen in the area. The tiger was spotted for the first time in 110 years at Kalesar National Park. “The last sighting was reported in 1913,” Kanwar Pal, a forest official from Haryana, wrote in his Facebook post. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/biodiversity/news/2023-04-28-first-tiger-sighting-in-haryana-sparks-call-to-restore-habitat (28 April 2023) Cameras catch tiger at Kalesar National Park thrice since April 19. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/visitor-from-rajaji-cameras-catch-tiger-at-kalesar-thrice-since-apr-19/articleshow/99830319.cms (28 April 2023)
FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS
Punjab Thousands of fish found dead in Kali Bein This is the seventh time that the fish had died in the Kali Bein due to polluted water. Earlier, fish died in the Kali Bein in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2021 and 2022 as well. Rajya Sabha MP and environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal has alleged that storing of water to keep the Kanjli Wetland full on the occasion of the mela was one of the causes of their death. Stopping of water from the Mukerian Hydel Channel to the Kali Bein was another reason behind the death of the fish. Officials from the Fisheries Department confirmed that the reduced oxygen level in the Kali Bein water led to the death of the fish.
Harinderjit Singh Bawa, Assistant Director, Fisheries Department, said, “The stopping of 300 cusecs water from the Mukerian Hydel Channel is the main cause of the death of the fish. Besides, DO was found between 1 mg and 1.2 mg per litre in the affected areas,” he said, “Sewage from various villages flows into the Kali Bein. Hence, when fresh water flow was stopped, fish died due to choking.”
Seechewal said, “We have been flagging the problem before the Baisakhi mela. During the mela, Mukerian Hydel Channel gates were closed to let water remain in the Kanjli Wetland. This caused an acute shortage of fresh water in the Kali Bein. He said, “The Kali Bein is getting polluted due to dumping of sewage. As STPs are non-functional, untreated waste is released into the Bein. The supply of fresh water is important for the sustenance of the aquatic life.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/thousands-of-fish-found-dead-in-kali-bein-501261 (27 April 2023)
Kerala Unique fishing tradition The villages of Valiyathodu and Pallithodu, nestled on the Ernakulam-Alappuzha border, are home to a unique fishing tradition that has been practised for several decades. Here, all members of local families gather for the ‘pothuveechu’ or ‘community fishing’. In the wee hours, women wade into the water, submerging themselves in the cool depths with their fishing vessels or net baskets in hand. The men, meanwhile, spread out the fishing nets. Some teenagers, too, join the family expedition. This tradition of pothuveechu is also observed in places such as Chellanam, Edavanakkad, Kumbalangi, and Thuravoor, where paddy fields are used for rotational pisciculture. Though paddy cultivation has dwindled in recent times, these wetland fields continue to be used for fish or prawn farming, mostly on a contract basis. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2023/apr/29/way-of-the-wetlands-heard-of-this-unique-fishing-tradition-in-kerala-2570338.html (29 April 2023)
Meghalaya 80 pc state’s fish need met by imports: Hek Fisheries Minister AL Hek, on April 24 2023, admitted that Meghalaya was still dependent on 80 per cent of fish coming from outside. “We are depending on 80 per cent of fish from outside and only 20 percent of fish is from the state,” Hek told reporters. “The Aquaculture mission is not a failure,” Hek said. The State Aquaculture Mission was launched in 2012 to not only augment fish production in the state, but to achieve the target of making Meghalaya a self-sufficient state within five years. But the ponds created under the State Aquaculture Mission did not produce fish as per the objective. Stating that he wanted to change the concept from fish sanctuary into tourism potential, Hek informed that the fisheries department has put proposals to develop at least 8 fish sanctuaries in some rivers of the state by also making these tourist spots. https://themeghalayan.com/80-pc-states-fish-need-met-by-imports-hek/ (25 April 2023)
DTE Satellite images highlight impacts of sand mining Pulaha Roy, along with Siddharth Agarwal and Kumar Anirvan, researchers with Kolkata-based non-profit Veditum India Foundation’s sand mining platform, analyses satellite images of rivers across India to highlight the massive scale of ecological degradation due to sand mining and the open violation of mining laws. (SANDRP has already used such images in many stories including the recent one on Ken River sand mining.) https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/mining/these-satellite-images-of-indian-rivers-highlight-environmental-impacts-of-sand-mining-88868 (24 April 2023)
Madhya Pradesh April 18, SM video shows in open violation of norms, sand miners have built cross sectional bunds and carrying out instream mining with heavy machines in Ken river in Ajaygarh, Panna. https://fb.watch/kfcWBX62cO/ (26 April 2023)
Tamil Nadu VAO murdered, suspected sand miners detained A 56-year-old Village Administrative Officer (VAO) from Murappanadu in Thoothukudi district was murdered at his office on Tuesday (April 25) allegedly by members of the sand mining mafia operating along the Thamirabarani river. According to sources, Y Lourdhu Francis had faced threats before and had requested police protection, which he was denied. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chennai/tamil-nadu-village-administrative-officer-murdered-office-8577150/ (26 April 2023) EDIT in The Hindu: The gruesome murder of Lourdhu Francis, a VAO in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, on Tuesday — he was in his office — is a reminder of the lengths to which the sand mafia will go to protect its lucrative activities involving illegal quarrying. The official had been informing the police and his superiors about mafia operations. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/killer-mafia-the-hindu-editorial-on-the-sand-mafia-in-tamil-nadu-and-attacks-on-public-servants/article66785308.ece (28 April 2023)
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has sought response from the State to a public interest litigation petition that sought a direction to the authorities to take appropriate action against indiscriminate sand mining taking place in Pambar river in Thiruvadanai in Ramanathapuram district. The petitioner complained that sand mining was taking place along the river course beyond the permitted limit. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/plea-seeks-action-against-indiscriminate-sand-mining/article66785995.ece (27 April 2023)
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has sought response from the State to a public interest litigation petition that complained about illegal sand mining taking place along two lakes in Pattukottai in Thanjavur district. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/plea-to-stop-illegal-sand-mining/article66786143.ece (28 April 2023)
Bihar SDM attacked by Sand mafia in Kaimur district. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/sdm-narrowly-escapes-as-seized-sand-truck-driver-tries-to-hit-his-vehicle-on-gt-road-in-bihar-s-kaimur-district-sandmafia-illegalmining-101682323812637.html (24 April 2023)
Gujarat In a rare instance of action against overloaded sand trucks leading to road accidents, following protest by an MP Mansukh Vasawa in Bharuch district of Gujarat.
18 trucks carrying sand from Narmada river were fined following joint action by Revenue, mining, RTO and police teams. 43 boats mining sand illegally were also caught.
Odisha NGT quashes complaint against Nayagarh Collector The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday (April 25) quashed the complaint against Nayagarh Collector, Rabindra Nath Sahu, who allegedly sought bribe from a laterite mine leaseholder under Ranpur Tehsil in Nayagarh. The NGT in its judgment, observed, “We accordingly dispose of the original application with a direction to the State respondents to initiate criminal proceedings against Susant Kumar Barad, Lessee of Mayurjhalia Laterite Quarry, and Shashank Agarwal, Director of M/s Agarwal Infrabuild Private Limited, for illegal extraction of ordinary earth/soil/morrum beyond the lease area. FIRs should be lodged against them within a period of two months.” The NGT has also issued direction to the SEIAA, to compute environmental compensation against Barad and Agarwal for excess mining of laterite stone/morrurn/ ordinary earth, and proceed to recover the same from them in accordance with law within a period of two months. https://odishatv.in/news/odisha/laterite-mine-ngt-quashes-complaint-against-nayagarh-collector-directs-register-case-against-miners-202667 (25 April 2023)
Punjab Govt stops use of heavy machinery for mining Punjab has stopped the use of ‘poclain machines’, including JCBs and other heavy machines, in the riverbeds for mining. Information to this effect was furnished before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the resumed hearing of a PIL on the issue of illegal mining in border areas. Appearing before the Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli, the state counsel said the direction was issued in pursuance of earlier orders by the High Court. He also undertook to file an affidavit in this regard.
Taking up the matter, the Bench granted the state further time to file status/action taken report. The counsel for the respondent-Union of India was also directed to file an affidavit regarding the steps taken by its departments, including the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Army. In its scathing report on illegal mining in the border areas, the BSF had earlier told the High Court that the presence of “hundreds of labourers” — whose antecedents had not been verified by the local police — so close to the International Border was perceived to be a “big security hazard”. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/govt-stops-use-of-heavy-machinery-for-mining-502886 (29 April 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Forest officials dig up illegal roads The Forest Department today dug up roads constructed unlawfully by the mining mafia on forest land to transport sand and gravel from an illegal mining site adjoining the Neugal river near the government college in Thural, about 30 km from here. The Tribune had recently highlighted how large-scale illegal mining had caused damage to a bridge, roads and water schemes. Forest officials along with a large number of police personnel reached the spot and dug up deep trenches on the roads with the help of JCB machines to curb the movement of trucks, tippers and tractor-trailers. Warning the violators, the police said those flouting the mining ban would be dealt with sternly. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/to-curb-mining-hp-forest-officials-dig-up-illegal-roads-501303 (27 April 2023)
Jammu & Kashmir The lack of CCTV based surveillance and the bypassing of technological checks are done to give a leeway for dubious dealings. This is done to ensure there is no transparency at all. Can the Geology & Mining Department explain why they have failed to install CCTV cameras around mining blocks especially around streams, rivers and karewas? Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/editorial-page-2/install-cctv-cameras-around-rivers-karewas (04 March 2023)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
Andhra Pradesh HC summons 2 officers from water resources on contempt charge On April 25, 2023, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Prashant Mishra and Justice N. Jayasurya has summoned AP water resources principal secretary Sasibhusan Kumar and engineer-in-chief Narayana Reddy to appear before it in person in a contempt of court case. The case related to illegal mining on Polavaram Right Main Canal. They must be present at the next hearing on Oct. 22.
– Petitioner P Surendra Babu pointed out that despite the court’s earlier orders not to allow illegal mining of gravel/soil on Polavaram RMC, this was going on, and a person died due to such illegal mining activity. The government submitted that there was no truth in the contention of the petitioner and soil was being mined from the private lands adjacent to the Polavaram RMC. The court observed that it was satisfied with the proofs submitted by the petitioner on illegal mining activity.
– The petitioner’s contention was that illegal mining for gravel and soil was being carried out in parts of Gannavaram and Agiripalli mandals on Polavaram RMC falling under the erstwhile Krishna district. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/260423/hc-summons-two-officers-from-water-resources-on-contempt-charge.html (26 April 2023)
Himachal Pradesh Reply to proposal for upkeep of five wetlands The High Court has directed the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to file its reply with regard to a Rs 24.04 lakh budget proposal submitted by the state government for the maintenance of five wetlands — Renukaji, Khajjiar, Chandertal, Pong Dam and Rewalsar. A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Virender Singh clarified in its recent order that “the Union Ministry has not filed its reply for the past two years, and the needful be done by the next date of hearing, failing which the responsible officer, not below the rank of Joint Secretary, will personally appear before the court along with records”. The next hearing is on May 8, 2023. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/reply-to-proposal-for-upkeep-of-five-wetlands-hc-501464 (27 April 2023)
RTI seeking panel report on Panje wetland draws blank Three years after the formation of the sub-committee by the direction of the High Court to verify the status of all wetlands in Uran identified under the National Wetland Inventory Atlas (NWIA), activists trying to access reports made by the committee post its visit to the area have hit a dead end. The sub-committee report was deemed to be vital for protecting and conserving the wetlands as over the past four years, the sensitive wetlands at Dastan Phata, Bhendkal and Savarkhar are totally destroyed, observed environmentalists. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/activists-hit-a-dead-end-in-accessing-reports-on-the-destruction-of-wetlands-in-uran-navi-mumbai-despite-a-sub-committee-being-formed-by-the-high-court-uranwetlands-environmentaldestruction-mumbai-101682680845985.html (28 April 2023)
Opinion Memories of water In the small towns of West Bengal and Bangladesh, every pond has stories to tell — of waterbirds and wetland plants, of family memory, colonialist history, and climate change by Amitangshu Acharya. https://placesjournal.org/article/ponds-and-climate-crisis-in-the-bengal-delta/ (April 2023)
SANDRP coordinator virtually spoke at Working Group in Water Governance at Ostrom Workshop of Indiana University, USA, on April 25, 2023.
Haryana PM has praised a young farmer from Kurukshetra’s Ban village for his efforts for water conservation by adopting drip-irrigation. Farmer Ankur said that he has adopted the drip irrigation instead of flood irrigation to save groundwater and cut input cost. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/pm-modi-lauds-kurukshetra-farmer-for-water-conservation-efforts-through-dripirrigation-101682361491872.html (25 April 2023)
In Ladakh, northern India, the recent development of an “ice stupa” by engineer Sonam Wangchuk suggests a new model for climate-adaptive design thinking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD7gF9Qav40 (05 June 2021)
Groundwater recharge The Union ministry of Jal Shakti has in its maiden census report rated Nashik, Jalna and Aurangabad from Maharashtra among the top five districts of the country for “remarkable work” in terms of groundwater recharge. Anantapur from Andhra Pradesh and Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh also found a place in the Top Five list in the report released on April 26 2023. A senior state water conservation and soil development official said a lot of efforts had gone into construction and refill of water bodies in Maharashtra during the rainy season, enabling recharge of the groundwater levels and using the same water for drinking and other purposes during summer.
– Shankar Nagar, a retired irrigation department official, expressed surprise over the findings in the report. “The latest survey reports mention a certain rise in groundwater level for Parbhani and Nanded. But the report shows Aurangabad and Jalna among the top five districts. Considering the soil and rock pattern of Marathwada, authorities need to elaborate further on the findings mentioned in the report and the basis for it,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/nashik-aurangabad-jalna-among-top-5-districts-leading-india-in-groundwater-recharge/articleshow/99829455.cms (28 April 2023)
Punjab 9 months on Zira Morcha protest continues Alleging contamination of groundwater due to pumping in of the effluents into the ground and the air pollution, residents of various villages around the distillery have been protesting since July 24 last year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/9-mths-on-zira-morcha-continues-to-protest-for-closure-of-distillery/articleshow/99747183.cms (25 April 2023)
Tamil Nadu Science to beyond science – to govern groundwater sustainably While modelling is useful to understand groundwater systems and guide decisions on groundwater governance and management at the policy level, farmers and water users on the other hand still use methods such as divining to find out about groundwater availability and well location informs this paper titled ‘From divine to design: Unearthing groundwater practices in Tamil Nadu, India’ published in Water Alternatives. This paper traces the pathways in which two totally different ways of understanding and detecting water below the ground, one being the scientific and the other water divining arrive at a decision to identify suitable sites for digging borewells. This paper tries to understand groundwater modelling and ties it to ethnographic work with water diviners. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/science-beyond-science-govern-groundwater-sustainably (26 April 2023)
Mangaluru Yettinahole project causing water scarcity The government, in a bid to meet the water needs of Kolar and Chikkaballapur, started the Yettinahole project. The politicians from the district who joined hands to start the project have remained as mute spectators though the people in the district are facing water shortage. Activist Dinesh Holla said, “Yettinahole project is a prominent reason for water shortage in the district. To store water in the dams, water should flow from the catchment area. The catchment got destroyed due to work on the Yettinahole project. Many parts of the district including several places in the city are facing water scarcity.” https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1073622 (25 April 2023)
Bengaluru NGT has set a three-month deadline for the SPCB to complete disciplinary proceedings against an apartment near Sarjapur. A bench of Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member Satyagopal Korlapati at the NGT’s Southern Zone disposed of a petition by Vikas R S who alleged that SNR Square (P) Limited, the builder of SNR River Ripples Apartment under Yamare gram panchayat limits, had established the sewage treatment plant without obtaining ‘Consent to Establish’ and ‘Consent to Operate’. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/green-tribunal-sets-3-month-deadline-for-kspcb-1214014.html (29 April 2023)
Experts have now said the Bengaluru is all set to face a water deficit of 514 MLD in 2050. India’s annual fresh water demand is expected to rise to 1,180 million cubic metres (MCM) in 2050, while the current supply is only of 1,126 MCM. https://www.timesnownews.com/bengaluru/bengaluru-to-face-water-shortage-in-2050-experts-predict-514-mld-deficit-article-99831669 (28 April 2023)
Madurai Increase in gw level hits borewell drillers, private water tankers Apart from those digging new borewells, the number of people deepening existing ones has also come down in the last two summers, say members of Madurai District Borewell Rig and Agents’ Welfare Association. “Many have sold their borewell rig machines in the last four years as business has been going down after Covid,” said association state vice-president B Suresh. Other than the increasing water table, the increasing fuel price has also affected business, say the members.
Water conservation activists say many tanks are brimming with water due to the desilting work carried out by the state government in important tanks in the last five years. Abu Backer, founder of Neer Nilaigal Pathukapu Iyakkam, said though there is surplus water in the borewell, its quality has gone down. He said the corporation and PWD must work towards cleaning the tanks in the city to make ground water more usable. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/increase-in-ground-water-level-hits-borewell-drillers-pvt-water-tankers/articleshow/99528070.cms (16 April 2023)
Hyderabad Drinking water pollution with sewage flows turned out to be the reason behind the gastroenteritis outbreak at Chintabavi basti near the Chilkalguda area of Secunderabad. A statement from the water board has attributed the pollution to mixing of sewage with drinking water at a person’s house in the area. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/water-pollution-led-to-gastroenteritis-outbreak-hmwssb/article66790191.ece (28 April 2023)
Pune 300 sites across Pune are under observation as part of a pilot project to study groundwater levels in borewells to plan recharge measures. The initiative is by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Pune Municipal Corporation and a Pune-based startup called WaterLab. The company has developed a patented solution called Bhujal, which uses sonar technology to detect water levels in borewells. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-engineer-fight-india-groundwater-crisis-8574522/ (25 April 2023)
Mumbai Debris being dumped in drains While the railways and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are cleaning up nullahs and removing silt from the drains as part of their pre-monsoon preparedness, residents of Bhandup and Nahur are facing the challenge of illegal dumping of debris into the stormwater drains.
The residents have spotted trucks coming in the afternoon and dumping debris into the main drain that connects the rail culverts below the tracks which are being cleaned with crores of public money. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/illegal-dumping-of-debris-threatens-mumbai-s-pre-monsoon-preparedness-efforts-101682362215709.html (25 April 2023)
Hyderabad Telangana government has decided to establish four STPs at Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar to contain the flow of sewage and an administrative sanction of Rs 82.23 crore has been accorded. https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabad-osman-sagar-and-himayat-sagar-to-get-4-stps (26 April 2023)
Srinagar As per an official document, the administrative approval of Rs. 322.13 Cr. has been given to various departments under Smart City in Srinagar for execution of different works. But there is no budget for the drainage system and upgradation of STPs which are the main problems in the city. This year and in the previous years, the snowfall and rains have exposed the defunct drainage system in the city. Even in the previous years, after macadamisation, roads developed potholes due to the defunct drainage system which brought misery to the people. Now, under this much hyped Smart City Project, it seems the government has totally ignored the proper policy and planning for constructing the proper drainage system in the city. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/srinagar/smart-city-project-no-funds-allocated-for-maintenance-of-drainage-system-stps-street-lights-in-srinagar (30 April 2023)
Himachal Pradesh To improve drinking water and sanitation services in five towns, the govt has signed a MoU of ₹817.12 crore project with the French Development Agency, Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD), to develop better sewerage facilities in five towns of the state –Manali, Bilaspur, Palampur, Nahan and Karsog and to improve drinking water supply in Manali and Palampur towns.
Under the project, ₹612 crore will be provided by AFD, whereas the state will provide ₹204.85 crore. The beneficiaries of the project will receive house service connections in these five cities and the sewerage treatment plant will be designed with cutting-edge technologies so that the effluent could be reused for agricultural and industrial purposes.
Out of ₹425.85 crore in the first phase, ₹340 crore will be financed by AFD and in the second phase AFD will provide ₹272 crore out of a total project cost of ₹371 crore. The project will be implemented in three years and phase-II will begin after 18 months from the commencement of Phase 1. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/himachal-govt-signs-mou-with-afd-for-817-12-crore-project-to-improve-drinking-water-sanitation-in-5-towns-cutting-edge-tech-to-be-used-for-sewerage-treatment-himachaldevelopment-afd-watersanitation-cuttingedgetech-101682796237639.html (30 April 2023)
Shimla MC Elections: Rainwater drainage, parking, traffic key issues in Vikasnagar. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/shimla-mc-elections-rainwater-drainage-parking-traffic-key-issues-in-vikasnagar-500626 (25 April 2023)
Ghaziabad health department has issued notices to 15 commercial premises and educational institutions, including marriage banquet halls, after the drinking water samples collected from these premises were found to be spurious. The teams from the health department collected 98 samples in April, in which 15 drinking water samples were found not fit for consumption, the officials said on Friday (April 28). The health department had conducted checks at hotels, colleges in areas like Kaushambi, Rajendra Nagar, Sahibabad, Dasna, Pratap Vihar and Vasundhara. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/water-not-safe-to-drink-15-ghaziabad-hotels-and-colleges-get-not/articleshow/99858609.cms (29 April 2023)
Haryana Govt draws up plan to fill 14tn-litre water gap The government plans to save 5.48 trillion litres of water over the next 2 years with a series of interventions such as reusing treated wastewater, and encouraging efficient cultivation methods, crop diversification, micro-irrigation and groundwater recharge. In urban areas too, the plan is to rope in large municipalities that will have to conserve and reuse water. These measures are part of the Haryana Water Resources Authority’s (HWRA) integrated action plan, launched on April 26, to plug the state’s water gap.
According to the authority’s data for 2020 to 2022, Haryana has 20.9 trillion litres of water available, including surface water, groundwater and treated wastewater. The state’s demand for this period stood at nearly 35 trillion litres, leaving a gap of 14 trillion litres to be filled. If everything goes according to the roadmap, the state will be able to fulfill almost 40% of its requirements. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/haryana-draws-up-plan-to-fill-14tn-litre-water-gap/articleshow/99829417.cms (28 April 2023)
Centre Govt likely to ban sugar exports The Centre is planning to ban the exports of sugar amid a fall in production, as per a media report. The output, which was hit by unseasonal rainfall, is expected to touch 32.8 million tonnes in the 2022-2023 marketing year, 3.5 per cent lower than the earlier forecast. Around 5 million tonnes of sugar will be transferred for ethanol production this year, a major hike from 3.6 million tonnes in the previous year. According to the trade report, the food ministry has approved exporting 6 million tonnes of sugar in the marketing year ending on September 2023. Out of this, 4 million tonnes have already been exported. The country’s sugar exports were valued at a record $5,770.64 million in the 2022-23 fiscal year ending March, as compared to $4,602.65 million in 2021-22. Maharashtra produced only 10.5 million tonnes of sugar, as against 13.7 million tonnes a year ago. Sugar production in Uttar Pradesh is expected to marginally reduce to 10 million tonnes, as compared to 10.2 million tonnes in the previous year. The output in Karnataka is expected to drop to 5.5 million tonnes, as against 6.2 million tonnes during the same period. India’s sugar export had touched a record 11.2 million tonnes in the 2021-2022 crop season. https://www.firstpost.com/explainers/india-sugar-exports-ban-sugarcane-production-rainfall-12523782.html/amp (29 April 2023)
Report Double whammy of record sea temperatures & El Niño Over the past few years, ocean temperatures have steadily increased, despite the Pacific being firmly under the influence of the cooling La Niña phase. In fact, scientists revealed in January that the oceans had been at record-warm temperatures for the past four years. Then, climatologists noticed that the global sea surface temperature reached a new high in the middle of March.
Another worrying new study has shown that our planet has accumulated almost as much heat in the last 15 years as it did in the previous 45 years, with almost all of the extra energy going into the oceans. To add fuel to the fire, weather models indicate that El Niño could begin to develop this summer. The transition to El Niño is usually accompanied by an spike in global temperatures, bringing with it effects like high heat, hazardous tropical cyclones, and a serious threat to delicate coral reefs. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/climate-change/news/2023-04-26-record-sea-temperatures-el-nino-could-cause-extreme-impacts (26 April 2023)
Blow hot, blow cold: Weird weather explained After a long and intense heat spell of nearly 10 days over east and northeast India, several parts of the country are experiencing intense weather activity. Barely two months ago, the country experienced its hottest February since 1901, the earliest year for which data is available.
“During this season, there are three features that impact weather. The location of anti-cyclones over Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea; western disturbances and easterly waves. This year the troughs associated with the western disturbances are very deep. There are anticyclones over Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea which are much stronger than normal and on the trough line between them is the region where thunderstorm activity is taking place. A lot of moisture from the ocean is pumped over this region. There are easterly waves which also influence thunderstorm activity. In a couple of days, we are going to see thunderstorm activity across the country till the first week of May,” Roy explained. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/blow-hot-blow-cold-weird-weather-explained-101682597945877.html (27 April 2023)
An uncharacteristically cooler start to the summer, which is likely to persist for a few more weeks in several parts of the country, may hurt the arrival of the crucial monsoon season, weather scientists have said, at a time when the rainy season is expected to anyway be sapped by the Pacific warming phenomenon El Nino. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cooler-start-to-summer-may-hurt-arrival-of-monsoon-season-el-nino-also-to-blame-weather-scientists-101682879647658.html (01 May 2023)
Director General of Meteorology, Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, said, “Due to climate change, the rainfall pattern in the country is changing. We are saying this after analysing the data since 1901.” He added that low rainfall zones, like Saurashtra, Kutch and Rajasthan, were now receiving more rainfall. “Once-high-rainfall zones like Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar and Jharkhand are now receiving less rainfall. This is because of climate change,” said Dr Mohapatra. Mohapatra added that it was the increasing moisture-holding capacity of the dry states, over the past few years that was considered to be the reason for the dry states getting more rainfall. He added that a climate change-induced rise in temperature by 1°C has increased the moisture-holding capacity of the atmosphere by 7 per cent.
Dr Ravichandran, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, “The Northeast and west regions are like dipoles in terms of rainfall. While the Northeast is a wet area, the west is a dry area. However, the rainfall pattern is now shifting towards the west from the Northeast. Some shift has already taken place and both regions now are equal (in terms of rainfall). In future, the west may see more rainfall than the Northeast.” Ravichandran added that Cherrapunji was no longer the wettest area in the country. The monsoon rainfall data suggests that Meghalaya, one of the few states which used to receive the highest rainfall in the country, has been receiving below-normal rainfall since 2001. Rajasthan has been receiving above-normal rainfall since 2001 during the monsoon. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/climate-change-alters-rain-pattern-across-country-503232 (30 April 2023)
IMD The impact of El Nino on this year’s monsoon will be minimal, said Mrityunjay Mohapatra, director-general of IMD. In an interview, Mohapatra said that while some regions in west and central India and pockets of northeast India may experience below-normal rainfall, it will not apply to the entire country. The comment comes amid concerns about slowing economic growth. https://www.livemint.com/economy/minimal-impact-of-el-nino-on-rainfall-imd-dg-mohapatra-11682532434164.html (26 April 2023)
Technically, the IMD is raising a caution about a fair possibility of below-normal rains this year. The IMD also releases a second, and hopefully more accurate and granularised monsoon forecast in June, and we will have to wait for it to make better assessments. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/what-if-the-monsoons-fail-in-2023-1213738.html (28 April 2023) IMD has said there is a good chance that a moderate El Nino might emerge during the June-September monsoon season. The department was, however, circumspect about its impact on the disruption of rainfall. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/imd-confirms-a-moderate-el-nino/article66790010.ece (28 April 2023)
Skyment According to Jatin Singh, managing director of Skymet, IMD may have some limitations in presenting its first forecast as “below normal.” El Nino years are low on rainfall, and the positive effect of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) won’t be strong enough to override its impact, Singh said in an interview. https://www.livemint.com/economy/el-nino-effect-will-significantly-reduce-rainfall-in-july-says-skymet-md-11682532671363.html (27 April 2023)
Hyderabad Unusually heavy Hyderabad rains have left the Telangana capital grappling with flooded streets, floating vehicles and a monsoon-like downpour mid-summer. Videos documenting the deluge show cars and two-wheelers being swept away by rainwater across residential neighbourhoods in Hyderabad, which received around 94 mm of rainfall between Aril 1 and 29. https://www.timesnownews.com/viral/on-camera-hyderabad-rains-sweep-cars-away-as-locals-document-flooded-streets-article-99890857 (30 April 2023) A 10-year-old girl died on Saturday (April 29) morning near Kalasiguda in Secunderabad after falling into an open Nala, the police said. The incident happened in Mahankali Police Station limits and the tragedy struck when the child went out to the nearby store. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/hyderabad-rains-10-year-old-dies-after-falling-into-open-nala-in-secunderabad-article-99861929 (29 April 2023)
Chennai SWD network in southern suburbs to be ready before monsoon Of the 160 km of drains under construction in phase I, work on drains running to 20 km has been completed in areas in Madipakkam under the flood-mitigation project taken by the Greater Chennai Corporation for the southern suburbs, with funding from the German development bank KfW. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/storm-water-drain-network-in-southern-suburbs-of-chennai-to-be-ready-before-monsoon/article66797397.ece (30 April 2023)
Study Prolonged droughts likely ended megacities of Indus Civilisation A series of severe and lengthy droughts may have caused the decline of the Indus Civilisation cities, according to a study which looked into ancient rock formation from a cave in Uttarakhand. The beginning of this arid period—starting at around 4,200 years ago and lasting for over two centuries—coincides with the reorganisation of the metropolis-building Indus Civilization, which spanned present-day Pakistan and India.
The research, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, identified three protracted droughts—each lasting between 25 and 90 years—during this arid period. “We find clear evidence that this interval was not a short-term crisis but a progressive transformation of the environmental conditions in which Indus people lived,” said study co-author Cameron Petrie, Professor at the University of Cambridge, UK. https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/prolonged-droughts-likely-ended-the-megacities-of-indus-valley-civilisation-study/article66784330.ece (27 April 2023)
The team will now attempt to make similar climate reconstructions for the western parts of the Indus River region, “where the winter rainfall system becomes more dominant than the Indian Summer Monsoon”, according to the university article. “Currently, we have a huge blind spot on our maps extending across Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Indian summer monsoon and the Westerlies interact,” Sebastian Breitenbach, co-author and palaeoclimatologist at Northumbria University, was quoted as saying in the Cambridge story. “Sadly, the political situation is unlikely to allow for this kind of research in the near future.” https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/harappa-rakhigarhi-dholavira-200-years-of-droughts-may-have-erased-these-indus-megacities-says-study-88990 (27 April 2023)
Catastrophic drought likely by climate change The unrelenting drought that has devastated the Horn of Africa and left more than 20 million people facing acute food insecurity would not have been possible without climate change, a new analysis has found. Since October 2020, this part of East Africa, one of the world’s most impoverished regions, has been gripped by its worst drought in 40 years as an unprecedented five consecutive rainy seasons have failed. The drought has brought catastrophic impacts to large areas of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia: Tens of thousands have died, crops have shriveled, livestock have starved and chronic hunger and water insecurity are widespread and growing.
– That’s the conclusion of a rapid attribution study released on Thursday by the World Weather Attribution initiative. The organization is made up of a team of international scientists who, in the immediate aftermath of extreme weather events, analyze data and climate models to establish what role climate change played. In the Horn of Africa, they found that climate change has made the region’s ongoing agricultural drought 100 times more likely – and that’s a conservative estimate, they said.
– The scientists also looked at whether climate change was to blame for the lack of rain, but concluded there was no overall impact. The report found that while climate change makes low rainfall twice as likely during the region’s “long rains” season, which runs from March to May, it actually makes the “short rains,” between October and December, wetter. The reason this wetter trend has been absent in the Horn of Africa over the last few years is because of the influence of La Niña, a natural climate phenomenon that brings dryer conditions to the region during the short rains period. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/04/27/africa/drought-horn-of-africa-climate-change-intl/ (27 April 2023)
Jammu and Kashmir The strategic Zojila Pass on Srinagar-Kargil road connecting Ladakh with J&K remained shut for vehicular movement for 10th consecutive day on Wednesday. The road was closed on April 16, following snow avalanches along Zojila Pass at several places and fresh accumulation of snow on the road. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/kashmir/srinagar-kargil-highway-remains-closed-for-10th-day (27 April 2023)
Arunachal Pradesh For the first time, a new technology is being used on the Papu-Yupia-Hoj-Potin stretch of NH 713 A and NH 13 for slope stabilisation in landslide-prone areas by strengthening the soil using ground improvement technology. The work is being executed by the state PWD highway. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 63.02 crores. The work on the project started in November 2022. All five locations where the project is being implemented are known for constant landslides and blockages during the monsoon season. New Delhi-based Spar Geo Infra Pvt Ltd, which specialises in geo-engineering projects for designing and executing critical landslide zones using slope stabilisation technology, is executing the project. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/04/29/new-tech-being-used-for-slope-stabilisation-of-few-portions-of-nh/ (29 April 2023)
EDIT The right to litigate The CBI seems to have been overzealous in registering a case against environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta and his organisation, LIFE, for violating FCRA provisions. The gist of the allegations is their using foreign funds to encourage litigation that will stall existing and prospective coal-fired plants in India. Using legal remedies to limit the industrial exploitation of nature and ensuring just compensation is at the core of a civilised democracy; and efforts at undermining such a fundamental compact bodes ill for India. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/the-right-to-litigate-the-hindu-editorial-on-limiting-the-industrial-exploitation-of-nature/article66777755.ece (26 April 2023)
E A S Sharma:-It is distressing that the political parties in power should pretend to be concerned about prosecuting NGOs for FCRA violations but conveniently bend every statute to allow foreign agencies to give huge donations to political parties. https://thewire.in/rights/ritwick-duttas-many-crimes-and-the-fcras-role-in-tackling-them (25 April 2023)
When contacted, Dutta said: “LIFE as a matter of policy has never been a litigant in any case. We are also clarifying the other inaccuracies in the FIR and are fully cooperating with the Agency.” While the 40-page FIR document reviewed by The Indian Express reproduced a legal status report apparently prepared by LIFE in 2016 on a number of thermal plants and coal mines, it specifically named only one affected entity, twice: the Adani Group. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/cbi-fir-against-lawyer-activism-targets-adani-indias-interests-8578112/ (27 April 2023)
“LIFE has never been a litigant in any case. I am only a lawyer, not a litigant. I have never represented in the Kheti Vikas Seva Trust case, and I have not visited the site of the copper smelter project. Coal litigations accounts for less than 5 % of the cases I have handled,” Ritwick Dutta, the environmental lawyer who also represented Odisha’s Dongria Kondh tribe in opposing Vedanta’s proposal for bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills, said over the phone responding to accusations. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/cbi-files-fir-against-environmental-lawyer-ritwick-dutta-for-alleged-fcra-violation-targeting-indian-entities-abroad-citing-involvement-in-agitating-farmers-criticizing-govt-policy-101682693870940.html (29 April 2023)
Before environment lawyer-activist Ritwick Dutta was booked by the CBI, an income tax department report had last year accused him of opposing overseas projects led by Indian entities, including the Adani Group. It had also accused him of using foreign money to partner with domestic NGOs, including an RSS affiliate. https://www.newslaundry.com/2023/04/27/used-foreign-funds-to-oppose-adani-project-i-t-report-on-ritwick-dutta (27 April 2023)
Report After SC’s warning, NGT transfers cases from Western zone The Supreme Court on Monday (April 24) was informed by the principal bench of the NGT that all suo motu cases arising from the western zone, which they had continued hearing despite specific instructions to the contrary, were transferred. This development comes less than two weeks after the principal bench was warned that contempt proceedings would be initiated against it for its defiance of the top court’s order. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-sc-contempt-warning-principal-bench-national-green-tribunal-ngt-transfer-cases-western-zone-227064 (24 April 2023)
SC lifts complete ban on development activities within ESZs The Supreme Court on Wednesday (April 26) lifted a complete ban on development activities within eco-sensitive zones (ESZs) of a minimum of one km around protected wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, and forests. Modifying its June 2022 order, a bench led by Justice BR Gavai said that the activities within ESZs shall be guided by the MoEFCC ministry’s February 2011 guidelines and the 2022 office memorandum of an expert committee on ESZ. The court clarified that mining within national parks and one km from boundaries shall not be permissible. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/supreme-court-lifts-complete-ban-on-development-in-eco-sensitive-zones-issues-new-guidelines-for-activities-within-one-km-of-wildlife-sanctuaries-and-parks-esz-wildlifeconservation-supremecourt-101682489792109.html (26 April 2023)
The Supreme Court has expressed concerns at the unregulated number of devotees visiting places of worship which are situated in national parks and sanctuaries. https://www.livelaw.in/supreme-court/supreme-court-expresses-concern-about-unregulated-visits-of-devotees-in-places-of-worship-situated-in-national-parks-sanctuaries-227526 (29 April 2023)
MoEF said that the Parivesh portal “will provide the minutes of meetings of expert appraisal and forest advisory committees, information on environment and forest clearances, coastal regulation zone proposal details and clearances”. But it was mum about displaying environment impact assessments. https://thewire.in/government/moefcc-parivesh-portal-clarification (24 April 2023)
India’s Key Forests on Chopping Block Rashme Sehgal The record of Indian governments in rehabilitation and compensation inspires no hope or confidence among those who depend on these forests. https://www.newsclick.in/indias-key-forests-chopping-block (26 April 2023)
Great Nicobar The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has now flagged alleged discrepancies with respect to the forest clearance granted for the ₹72,000-crore Great Nicobar Island (GNI) Project. Citing alleged violations under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, it has issued a notice to district authorities in Andaman and Nicobar islands on grounds that the project will significantly affect the rights of local tribespeople and that the NCST was not consulted. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ncst-flags-alleged-discrepancies-in-fra-compliance-for-great-nicobar-project/article66793329.ece (29 April 2023)
Jharkhand Bauxite mining impacting soil fertility, people’s health Bauxite mining in Gumla district is making the land barren and affecting the health of the people. Those affected by mining activities say that companies are not following norms that include backfilling of fields after the conclusion of mining, which is affecting their livelihood. The forest department is responsible for monitoring the loss of forest land due to mining and preparing an action plan. However, only wildlife and vegetation come under its ambit. Monitoring the impact on farmers and tribal communities does not come under its purview. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/04/bauxite-mining-in-jharkhand-is-impacting-soil-fertility-peoples-health/ (28 April 2023)
CPR Pollution boards unable to spend even half of funds A report by Centre for Policy Research (CPR), which analysed the fund utilisation of pollution control boards and committees in 10 states, says a majority of these bodies reported a surplus from 2018-19 to 2020-21, but many are struggling to spend the entire amount collected through fees and other sources. According to the report, released on Thursday (April 27), the average fund utilisation rate across the 10 boards is 48%, but Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) did not even spend that much from 2018-19 to 2020-21. In 2018-19, the board spent 32% of its funds, only 28.5% in 2019-20, and 47.8% in 2020-21. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/pollution-boards-unable-to-spend-even-half-of-funds/articleshow/99825789.cms (28 April 2023)
Haryana NGT raps govt on HSPCB vacancies The NGT, while hearing a petition on 63% post are lying vacant in SPCB on Monday (April 24) told the government to find a “remedy”. The tribunal told the chief secretary Sanjeev Kaushal to hold a meeting with stakeholders in next 15 days and preferably take action within next 3 months. It also sought an action taken report. The order came after SPCB said in an RTI reply to activist Varun Gulati that just 37% or 178 of total 481 post across 22 districts of the State were currently filled and the remaining 303 positions are lying vacant. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/citizens-entitled-to-governance-says-ngt-raps-govt-on-hspcb-vacancies/articleshow/99802805.cms (28 April 2023)
Interview Glaciologist Anil Kulkarni on shrinking glaciers Glaciers in the western Himalayas are “actively under the degradation phase,” as per one of the studies conducted by Kulkarni.
In this interview with Mongabay-India, Anil Kulkarni talks about his experiences while studying glaciers, the state of glaciology in India and the need for revised water sharing practices between India and Pakistan with the backdrop of melting glaciers in the eastern Himalayas. https://india.mongabay.com/2023/04/interview-glaciologist-anil-kulkarni-shrinking-glaciers/ (27 April 2023)
J&K, Ladakh Glaciologists on the basis of studies state that during the last few years, glacier melting in Kashmir and Ladakh region has been highest as compared to the rest of the Himalaya and the Alps. Experts fear that mass loss of glaciers is expected to exacerbate in future as a result of projected climate changes. Subsequently this will further diminish the stream flow of trans-boundary rivers emanating from the region.
The problem is compounded by below-normal snowfall during last winter accompanied by high winter temperatures. Summer heat waves contributed significantly to high glacier melting. Experts blame unprecedented increase in temperature, deforestation, increasing human activities, constructions in eco-fragile zones and high levels of pollution caused by the emission of greenhouse gases by vehicles and cement plants for retreating of Kolhai Glacier. The glacier has developed several crevasses and cracks over the years. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/editorial-page/melting-glaciers-a-serious-ecological-concern-in-jk-ladakh (01 May 2023)
Goa Govt rolls out its own action plan to tackle climate change Tiswadi, Mormugao and Salcete — which are most vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise — the state’s climate change action plan seeks to underline the necessity of its implementation to lessen damaging impacts. The 111 page Goa State Action Plan for Climate Change (GSAPCC) 2023-33, which was rolled out by environment minister Nilesh Cabral on Wednesday. Prepared by Nabcons, a subsidiary of Nabard, under the guidance of the Goa State Biodiversity Board (GSBB), it is expected to be implemented through a sectoral approach. Goa’s mean annual rainfall has also increased by 68% from 1901-2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/goa-rolls-out-its-own-action-plan-to-tackle-climate-change/articleshow/99854428.cms (29 April 2023)
Odisha Govt to build India’s first resettlement colony for climate change victims The state govt is planning to build India’s first resettlement colony for people affected by climate change, officials from the chief minister’s office (CMO) said. A senior official at the CMO said the model colony for the displaced villagers of Satabhaya (Group of seven villages) would be built at Bagapatia in Kendrapara district at a cost of Rs. 22.5 crore in the first phase, five years after 530 families from a group of villages had to leave their homes after the rising sea devoured their homes. “This would be the first colony for people displaced due to climate change in India,” he said. Last of the seven villages disappeared in 2011. According to the National Centre for Coastal Research, Odisha lost 28% of its 485-km-long coastline between 1999 and 2016 to seawater intrusion. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/odisha-to-build-india-s-first-resettlement-colony-for-climate-change-victims-101682866922705.html (30 April 2023)
Report Record ocean temperatures put Earth in ‘uncharted territory’ Temperatures in the world’s oceans have broken fresh records, testing new highs for more than a month in an “unprecedented” run that has led to scientists stating the Earth has reached “uncharted territory” in the climate crisis.
Some scientists fear that the rapid warming could be a sign of the climate crisis progressing at a faster rate than predicted. The oceans have acted as a kind of global buffer to the climate crisis over recent decades, both by absorbing vast amounts of the carbon dioxide that we have poured into the atmosphere, and by storing about 90% of the excess energy and heat this has created, dampening some of the impacts of global heating on land. Some scientists fear we could be reaching the limit of the oceans’ capacity to absorb these excesses. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/apr/26/accelerating-ocean-warming-earth-temperatures-climate-crisis (26 April 2023)
Rising sea levels threaten agriculture, rainfall, social fabric The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has found in a new report that the world’s sea level is rising at an unprecedented rate, portending potentially disastrous consequences for the weather, agriculture, the extant groundwater crisis, and social disparities. The report, entitled ‘State of the Global Climate 2022’, was published last week. Along with accelerating sea-level rise, it focused on a consistent rise in global temperatures, record-breaking increases in the concentration of greenhouse gases as well as glacier loss, sustained drought-like conditions in East Africa, record rainfall in Pakistan, and unprecedented heatwaves that struck Europe and China in 2022. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/rising-sea-levels-threaten-agriculture-rainfall-social-fabric/article66781156.ece (26 April 2023)
Report India can help draft a new Brahmaputra water treaty India can launch discussions toward a water management accord in the Brahmaputra basin. Drawing on management approaches of other regional river systems — an accord could even see the creation of a Brahmaputra Basin Commission. Identifying requirements for data-sharing and scientific exchanges between riparian nations could be a first step toward the ambitious outcome that will help India make a case for its growing international leadership.
– During its G20 presidency, India could call for working-level meetings with water ministry officials from all three riparians to develop an agenda for multilateral cooperation on the river. In addition, China and India could take steps to dial down tensions by detailing their hydropower construction and river management plans. As an act of goodwill, Beijing could also offer to provide year-round river data to India and Bangladesh. Discussions could explore the contours of a plan to develop a Brahmaputra Basin Commission. The platform must be consensus-oriented, and its chair could rotate between the three primary riparians. Beginning to work toward a water treaty will help India demonstrate to the world how it can advance peace and the international legal order. https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/indias-g20-presidency-seizing-the-opportunity-to-promote-international-cooperation-in-the-brahmaputra-basin-for-human-security-101682605238971.html (27 April 2023)
IWT Is 1960 treaty killing mighty Ravir? Madhu, the activist, says the Indus Waters Treaty should replaced, a call echoed by other environmentalists like water expert Hassan Abbas.
In addition to not addressing climate change, the treaty has damaged the rivers that it has divided, and, Madhu argues, created a culture where rivers have been stripped of their spiritual significance and turned into dumps. He points to blobs of gunk bobbing in the Ravi and an old wooden boat rotting in stagnant water. “It’s not a treaty,” he says. “It’s the death of river, and people of river.” https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/04/27/1172162308/is-a-1960-treaty-between-pakistan-and-india-killing-the-mighty-ravi-river (27 April 2023)
Nepal Hydropower threatening biodiversity A massive landslide in Jure of Sindhupalchok district on August 2, 2014 destroyed the towers of the 45 MW Upper Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project and shut it down. Power supply resumed only after six months, but the April 25, 2015 earthquake ruptured the penstock pipes and flooded the power house. Around 80 percent of the reconstruction work had been completed when the disaster struck. Again in July 2016, a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) brought the project to a standstill.
– This domination of hydropower in energy development has not only led to unwarranted impacts on the river ecology and the livelihoods of millions of people, but also triggered many disasters in the past decades. Haphazard construction at the hydropower projects on the Trishuli and Bhotekoshi rivers in Nepal has not only impacted the river system but also caused unnatural disasters and displacement of villages.
– More than 30 hydropower projects (6 operating, 7 under construction and about 2 dozen in licensing process) were being built on the Trishuli River and its tributaries in Rasuwa, including two plants within Langtang National Park and the buffer zone, and that they had impacted the local biodiversity. The rampant construction of hydropower projects has impacted the river flow as water is being diverted through tunnels every few kilometres. Besides, residents of old Syaphrubesi have been displaced while villagers in Sindhupalchok fear displacement. The haphazard construction of hydropower projects had become a threat to their business as the water level has decreased alarmingly in the Bhotekoshi, which is regarded as one of the top rafting destinations in the world. Besides, local fishing communities in and around Dolalghat told us that the construction of hydro projects and the increasing number of crusher plants had badly affected the aquatic environment of the local rivers.
– The solar potential in Nepal is 50,000 terawatt-hours per year, which is 100 times larger than its hydro resource and 7,000 times larger than its current electricity consumption. https://kathmandupost.com/columns/2023/04/23/hydropower-threatens-biodiversity (23 April 2023)
Opinion Not just fish: Rhinos need Rivers too Jeff Opperman The dynamic process of habitat creation also reveals how terrestrial animals such as rhinos can be vulnerable to dam development. While we typically think of species such as salmon or the Mekong giant catfish being vulnerable to the disruptions caused by dams, rhinos are vulnerable as well. A proposed hydropower dam on the Karnali River, for example, could reduce flood levels, resulting in a less exuberant river and reduced rates of channel migration.
In fact, rivers that support complex habitat corridors—with a mosaic of channels and islands and habitat types ranging from young grassland to mature forest—often transition to simple, single-thread channels after they are dammed. The post-dam rivers lack the energy to change the habitats around them. Many people would be surprised to learn that, if the proposed major dam on the Karnali were to be built, one of its major environmental impacts would be the loss of rhino habitat dozens of kilometers downstream. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2023/04/27/not-just-fish-rhinos-need-rivers-too/ (27 April 2023)
Bangladesh Living along a dead river The Buriganga, or the ‘Old Ganges’, is so polluted that its water appears pitch black, except during the monsoon months, and emits a foul stench through the year. The South Asian nation of nearly 170 million, with about 23 million living in Dhaka, has about 220 small and large rivers and a large chunk of its population depends on rivers for a living and transport.
-Bangladesh is the world’s second-biggest garment exporter after China but citizens environment activists say the booming industry is also a major contributor to the ecological decline of the river. Untreated sewage, by-products of fabric dyeing and other chemical waste from nearby mills and factories flow in daily. Polythene and plastic waste piled on the riverbed have made it shallow and caused a shift in course. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/earth-day-bangladesh-river/ (19 April 2023)
Pakistan Sindh still struggling with aftermath of floods As Muslims worldwide prepare to celebrate Eid, for millions in Pakistan the religious holiday will be marred by ongoing problems caused by the 2022 floods. Large areas of the southern province of Sindh remain inundated, while damage to the drainage system caused by the flooding is an obstacle to communities’ recovery. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/climate/sindh-still-struggling-with-aftermath-floods-seven-months-after-disaster/ (20 April 2023)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
USA $157.5 billion needed to rehabilitate non-federal dams The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) has released a report, The Cost of Rehabilitating Dams in the U.S.: A Methodology and Estimate, that estimates the cost to rehabilitate the non-federal dams in the U.S. at $157.5 billion.
The cost to rehabilitate just the most critical dams is estimated at $34.1 billion. Two years ago, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act was passed and provided once-in-a-generation funding for dam rehabilitation, ASDSO said. However, ASDSO’s report illustrates the urgent need for ongoing investment. The act, which provided more than $4 billion toward dam rehabilitation, is only a step towards adequately addressing the nation’s backlog of dam rehabilitation projects. https://www.hydroreview.com/dams-and-civil-structures/157-5-billion-needed-to-rehabilitate-non-federal-dams-in-the-u-s/ (21 April 2023)
American Rivers A spring high flow experiment in Grand Canyon Last week, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the authorization of a spring High Flow Experiment (HFE) in the Grand Canyon. The last time an HFE was conducted was in the fall of 2018, and the last time a spring HFE was executed was in 2008. The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon named as America’s Most Endangered River just last week. This action is happening to benefit the ecosystem in the canyon.
– A High Flow Experiment is in essence a simulated flood being conducted through Glen Canyon dam. In practice, the dam releases a high volume of water, usually through both the hydropower turbines and the bypass tubes, which are lower-elevation tubes through the dam that are usually only used for these short duration floods or in other unique situations (like releasing water during the extreme inflows of 1983) over a limited period of time. HFE’s are extremely important to the management of sand in the canyon and the healthy functioning of the Grand Canyon riparian ecosystem overall. In 2016, the Long Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP) was completed and set the guidelines for how and how frequently future HFE’s could be conducted.
– This week’s HFE will be pretty dramatic, both visually and scientifically. The flow will begin early Monday morning (April 24) and last into Thursday evening (April 27.) The dam will ramp up releases to 39,500 cubic feet per second (CFS) and hold that for 72 hours straight creating a flood that will flow all the way to Lake Mead over a period of about a week, rebuilding sandbars and beaches along the way. https://www.americanrivers.org/2023/04/celebrate-a-spring-high-flow-experiment-in-grand-canyon/ (24 April 2023)
UK Saving Britain’s rivers means more than cleaning up sewage Researchers at the UK’s annual River Restoration conference say that policy-makers and the general public are largely unaware that most of the UK’s rivers aren’t in their natural state, with huge impacts on biodiversity. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2371104-why-saving-britains-rivers-means-more-than-cleaning-up-sewage/ (28 April 2023)
The government is investigating and mapping out the sources of dangerous “forever chemicals” present in our waterways. But England will not meet its targets for waterways having good chemical status by 2027, the government admits, in part because of the PFAS “forever chemicals” in our rivers.
Officials admit there is no way for them to remove PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), some of which are classified as uPBT (ubiquitous, persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic) substances. The chemicals do not break down in the environment, build up in the body and may be toxic. They form a family of about 10,000 chemicals valued for their non-stick and detergent properties. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/24/pfas-england-waters-not-meet-pollution-targets-by-2027 (24 Feb. 2023)
Report Use Nature as Infrastructure In the climate crisis, wetlands have more economic value than new development Wetlands, coastal plains, sand dunes, forests, and many other permeable surfaces do cheaply (or even for free) what engineered levees, seawalls and pumps do at a cost of billions of dollars. They protect the land around them from storm surge, flooding rains, erosion and pollution. They are vital infrastructure that makes us more resilient against climate change, and the cost of destroying them or weakening their ability to function must be factored into the decisions we make to build and grow.
Economic value is never the only reason nature is worth preserving; it is simply a powerful, underused tool to help us make decisions about how to live more sustainably in a climate-changed world. If policy makers considered natural infrastructure in the language of economics, they might recognize just how deeply we rely on it. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/use-nature-as-infrastructure/ (01 April 2023)
Can nutrient offsetting save rivers? To make sure that nutrient offsetting works, we need detailed scientific knowledge on comparing nutrient pollution from different sources. Catchment runoff nutrients are mostly bound to soil particles, while sewage treatment plants have much more dissolved nutrients. As yet we don’t know how these sources differ. We also need to know what methods of land management are best suited to stopping nutrients from washing into rivers, to ensure the best outcome for the money spent.
Despite our efforts in cleaning up many of our rivers, traditional approaches haven’t been enough to stop nutrient pollution. It’s time to explore creative new approaches to make our rivers and reefs healthier. https://theconversation.com/floods-of-nutrients-from-fertilisers-and-wastewater-trash-our-rivers-could-offsetting-help-203235 (19 April 2023)
The illusion of a trillion trees Planting trees is more complicated than it sounds. Ecosystems must be restored to avoid biodiversity collapse, experts say, but “on the right land and in the right way”. Multiple projects so far have failed to benefit local people, others have created monoculture commercial plantations that are poor homes for wildlife, and a lack of continuing care means many saplings simply die.
24 of the 1t.org companies claim to have already planted nearly 300mn trees, some as far back as 2004, but only two projects disclose in their pledge documents how many survived. No organisation is centrally tracking the amount of land earmarked for the cause and it is unclear to what extent the trillion-tree campaigns overlap with the often vague afforestation and land restoration pledges in governments’ Paris Agreement net zero plans. https://ig.ft.com/one-trillion-trees/ (12 April 2023)
Compiled by SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also see: DRP News Bulletin 24 April 2023 & DRP News Bulletin 17 April 2023
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