The Maharashtra government submitted an affidavit in High Court that the state has 15865 wetlands, down from 44714 in 2010. How did 28849 wetlands disappear from the very definition of wetland? While all of these wetlands may not have disappeared from ground, their disappearance from govt papers as wetlands means that they are now open to all kinds of abuse and encroachments. It along with other wetlands related stories here shows how little the governments are concerned about the wetlands.
Guest Blog by Jubin Mehta
Narmada is a sacred river originating in the Maikal Hills of central India from a place called Amarkantak. Parikrama is a Sanskrit word derived from the root ‘pari‘ meaning around and ‘krama‘ meaning going. And hence, Narmada Parikrama means circumambulating the river. This is a spiritual/religious tradition of the Hindus existing from centuries wherein pilgrims start walking from any point along the river after collecting Narmadaji’s water in a vial and start walking with the river to their right.
If a person has started from the north bank, they’d walk upstream to the origin of the river in Amarkantak, cross over from beyond the origin point, come to the south bank and walk downstream till the point where the river meets the ocean in south Gujarat. From here, pilgrims board a large boat for an estimated four to seven hours to cross over and reach back to north bank at a place called Mithi Talai. From here, the pilgrim starts walking upstream again to arrive again at the point where they started from. At the end of the journey, pilgrims go to the super sacred Omkareshwar which is one of the 12 ‘Jyotirlingas’ and also a river island which means a person cannot go to this point during the parikrama. One of the rules of the walk is that a person cannot cross over the river and go to the other bank or in the middle. At Omkareshwar, the pilgrim pours back the water that she collected in a vial when she started the walk and completes the parikrama. Continue reading “Experience of Narmada Parikrama in 2020: a 3500 km pilgrimage along the river”
This week’s news bulletin has a number of examples of Better Water Management Options that India has, let us focus on the example from state. These examples come from Kerala (achieving a barren land free constituency & KERI study showing the need for desilting of Malampuzha reservoir), Tamil Nadu (lessons from implementation of System of Rice Intensification in large parts of cultivable land and also declaring the Cauvery Delta as protected agriculture zones that will help stop the problematic hydrocarbon exploration project as also, hopefully other destructive projects), Odisha (govt filing affidavit in the Supreme Court asking it to stop work on Polavaram Dam of Andhra Pradesh is hugely belated but right move), Telangana (rejecting the Godavari Cauvery River Linking proposal of NWDA for its shoddy water balance), Uttarakhand (Dehradun DM accepting in affidavit to High Court that 270 acres of river bed land is encroached in the district), Kashmir (drive to remove encroachments of Khushal Sar lake, even if selective, hopefully it will be a beginning), NGT (cancelling the township coming up in lake eco sensitive area in Bengaluru) among others. We have listed only the welcome initiatives from the govt. Even if these initiatives are taken to logical conclusion and also emulated by other states, it can go a long way in moving towards better water management.
The Water & Environment sector, including the Agriculture, Environment & Forests, Urban Development, Ganga and & Other Rivers, Water Resources Ministry, Rural Employment Program and Rural Drinking Water Mission, seems to have seen disappointment from the allocations in Union Budget 2020-21 presented by the Union Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Seetharaman to the Parliament on Feb 1, 2020, most independent observers have concluded. The Budget has proposed some welcome measures in solar power and rural infrastructure sector. But on the whole, considering the situation in Water Sector & Climate Change impacts already upon us, and considering the various statements from the government, these sectors have not received the priority they deserve. Continue reading “Water-Environment Sectors disappointment in Budget 2020”
A number of welcome developments around dams appear in this week’s DRP News Bulletin from SANDRP. The prominent is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation declaring that it may not need Pinjal Dam, which SANDRP had said in its report way back in 2012-13 and the then BMC commissioner had agreed to in an interview to NDTV. This should also lead to cancellation of the Damanganga Pinjal River Link proposal. The Maharashtra govt decision to review the need for Human dam is also welcome. The Kerala State Information Commissioner’s decision to direct that the Dam Break Analysis should be in public domain is also a useful precedent that all states and CWC need to follow immediately and also amend the proposed Dam Safety Act to include a provision that all Dam Safety related information, including meeting minutes, agenda, decisions, status reports etc will be in public domain.
On February 2, the World Wetlands Day is celebrated globally. The theme of 2020 is Wetlands and Biodiversity to emphasize the critical roles the wetlands plays for wildlife, aquatic life, and native vegetation. They also play crucial role in harvesting rainwater, recharging groundwater, providing livelihoods, acting as carbon sinks and providing cushion against flash floods thus they hold immense significance in changing climate.
This compilation puts together some of the positive developments related to wetlands that took place in 2019. It also includes few individual initiatives of lakes and water bodies cleaning from greater Noida, Chennai and Udaipur. There have been some fruitful efforts by citizen and community groups in Maharashtra, Goa and Kerala.
One of the key objective of the Economic Survey is to provide an accurate account of ground realities on various aspects affecting the Economy of the country and also what has the govt been doing to address the issues that such an account throws up. From a look at the key issues that SANDRP focuses on, it seems that the Economic Survey for 2019-20 that was released on January 31, 2020 does not even attempt to provide an account of the ground realities. Continue reading “ECONOMIC SURVEY 2020: WHERE IS THE GROUND REALITY?”
China not to alter course of rivers flowing into Nepal China has agreed not to deliberately change or cause to change the course of any trans-boundary rivers flowing into Nepal. This comes under an Agreement on the Boundary Management System reached with Nepal during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Kathmandu in October 2019. All the major rivers including the Karnali, Kali Gandaki, Budhi Gandaki, Trishuli, Sunkoshi, Bhotekoshi, Tamakoshi and Arun originate in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. Nepal as well as the northern part of India could be seriously affected if any dams or diversion projects are built in upper riparian Tibet. “Both sides shall, as far as possible, prevent the boundary rivers from changing their courses. Neither side shall deliberately change or cause to change the course of any boundary river,” states Article 7 (1) of the Agreement. Continue reading “NEPAL DRP Overview 2019”
Punjab government has been successful in getting three more wetlands declared as Ramsar sites of international importance. The state already has three wetlands with Ramsar tags namely Harike, Kanjli and Ropar wetlands. The government in October 2019 had proposed a total of five sites including Ranjit Sagar conservation reserve and Hussainiwala wetland for Ramsar tags. The new wetlands selected for the tag are Keshopur-Miani community reserve, the Beas conservation reserve and Nangal wildlife sanctuary. So now six wetlands in the state are covered under Ramsar convention.
The state forest department and WWF team were working in this direction over past couple of years. In the year 2019, the government has also taken some remarkable decisions regarding conservation of wetlands in the state. However, by the year end, there has not been any significant progress on the issue from the government.
Plea to act to save the THIRD POLE In this TED talk in July 2019, former Prime Minister of Bhutan and President of the People’s Democratic Pary Tshering Tobgay makes impassioned plea to act on the melting glaciers of Hindu Kush due to climate change and among other things, form a Third Pole Alliance of eight countries of the region, including China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar to work collectively to avert the future catastrophe affecting 1.6 billion people. (https://www.ted.com/talks/tshering_tobgay_an_urgent_call_to_protect_the_world_s_third_pole#t-855110) Continue reading “Bhutan DRP Overview 2019”