Wetlands

WWD 2023: Some Positive India Wetlands Stories

In final part of annual World Wetlands Day overview, SANDRP highlights ten positive actions, efforts made by local communities, citizens groups for protection and conservation of wetlands in India in 2022. In earlier parts of the series, SANDRP has covered the general scenarios of wetlands (Part 1); steps taken by various governments (Part 2); judicial interventions (Part 3) and status of some of the Ramsar wetlands sites in the country (Part 4).

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Dams · Wetlands

WWD 2023: India’s Ramsar Wetlands face Damages, Threats & Govt Apathy

(Feature Image: The dumping ground is adjacent to the Deepor Beel wetland. Photo by Surajit Sharma./ Mongabay India, Aug. 2022)

Marking the World Wetlands Day 2023, this fourth overview by SANDRP compiles reports from 2022 revealing the worsening situation of Ramsar wetlands sites in India. In past few years, the government has shown great hurry in getting Ramsar tag for 75 wetlands from 26 in the country to symbolically mark 75th anniversary of Independence without showing any interest in resolving the existing and looming threats including increasing pollution, siltation, encroachments and climate change threats over old and even new Ramsar wetlands.

The ground reports show that the sole focus of the government is on pushing destructive and ornamental projects in the name of tourism and beautification on these wetlands which are only seen damaging their remaining eco-systems and threatening the livelihoods of dependent communities as an additional threat which only underlines that Ramsar tag does NOT help in wetlands protection and conservation. Experts, citizen groups have been raising this fact for years but in vain. Furthermore the process for seeking Ramsar recognition lacks consultation and participation of primary stakeholders and concerned citizens.

Moreover, in the name of information of Ramsar sites, there is only a combined interactive map apart from two separate pdf file links with location map and state wise listing Ramsar wetlands on Wetlands of India portal by MoEF&CC. The govt has neither prepared any concrete plan to address the threats, nor has it developed credible monitoring mechanism which clearly shows it has no intention to improve the governance of these sites.   

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Wetlands

WWD 2023: Top Ten Judicial Interventions to Improve Wetlands Governance

(Feature Image: Construction activities in Sukhatal lake area in Nainital, Uttarakhand. Source: Dainik Jagran, Nov. 2022)

In this third part of wetlands overview, SANDRP tracks top ten judicial interventions regarding protection of wetlands in India in 2022. The part one has highlighted general situation of wetlands and part two has covered some governmental actions for wetlands conservation.

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Wetlands

WWD 2023: Top Ten India Wetlands Stories about Govt Actions

(Feature Image: Kochi Corporation’s proposal to reclaim wetlands at Brahmapuram shot down. A view of the Brahmapuram solid waste treatment plant on the banks of the Kadambrayar. | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat/ The Hindu)

In this second part of annual wetlands overview of 2022, SANDRP compiles the top ten actions by various governments in India regarding wetlands in 2022. The compilation also highlights some of the controversial steps planned and taken by the governments with an adverse impacts on wetlands conservation. The first part of wetlands review 2022 has focused on the how wetlands continue to suffer from misgovernance. 

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Wetlands

WWD 2023: India’s Wetlands continue to face Rising Threats and Misgovernance

(Feature Image: Giri tal of Kashipur, Uttarakhand succumbing to govt’s apathy. Bhim Singh Rawat/SANDRP Nov. 2022.)

World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on February 2. The theme for year 2023 is Wetlands Restoration. Marking the occasion, SANDRP has been presenting annual overviews on various governance aspects of wetlands in India including general scenario, governments’ plans, judicial interventions and positive efforts to save these crucial eco-systems. This first part of the 2023 series covers the overall situation of wetlands in the country in 2022. The reports show that the wetlands continue to face rising threats and misgovernance.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 300123: Connect the dots and discover absence of River Governance

(Feature Image: Screen grab of video showing untreated effluents being discharged in Yamuna river downstream Wazirabad barrage in National Capital Delhi, on Jan. 29, 2023). Credit: Santosh Kumar, Principal Correspondent, Amar Ujala, Delhi)

There are number of interesting rivers related stories from India this week as listed in SANDRP’s weekly Bulletin dated January 30, 2023. Let us consider three and try to see the underlying absence of attention to a crucial issue about Rivers. The three stories (see details below) include an editorial in Telegraph about river pollution, interview by director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Govt of India’s flagship program on rivers since 2014-15 and reports about a new committee formed by the National Green Tribunal about Yamuna. NMCG DG accepts some problems in earlier approach to rejuvenation including faulty DPRs and lack of proper planning, but promises all is well now and the river will have no pollution by 2025. The new committee for Yamuna pollution set up by NGT has similarly announced new deadlines for STPs etc. The editorial talks about high level of Ganga pollution, the wrong priorities of river linking and lack of attention of smaller rivers, among other aspects.

There are some welcome features in each of these three development. However, they are unlikely to help in improving the state or our rivers in any effective way. All of them are missing the most crucial aspect: Attention of governance of rivers and various component systems related to rivers. Can we achieve better state of our rivers without ensuring transparent, accountable and participatory governance of our rivers and rivers related systems? Why there is no attention or appetite for these issues right from media (the edit), the judiciary (NGT) and officials (DG NMCG)?

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Sand Mining

2022 Riverbed Mining: 5 Bridges Collapsed, 22 Threatened

The indiscriminate, mechanized riverbed mining activities are not only impacting the river eco-systems and dependent communities in multiple adverse ways, but are also damaging the river based infrastructures including road bridges, railway bridges, embankments, irrigation channels and potable water supply schemes for past many years. We have put together reports on infrastructural damages and threats due to excessive riverbed mining in India in 2022. Our 2021, 2018 reports on this topic can be seen by clicking the links.   

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 230123: Welcome decision of FAC to deny clearance to Etalin HEP

(Feature Image:- Upper Dibang Valley District, Arunachal Pradesh, India (Source: Wikipedia Commons/IWP)

It’s rather rare that we get a hydropower project related decision from official decision makers that can be welcomed. It has happened this week when the MoEF’s (Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change) Forest Advisory Committee declined to give forest clearance to the controversial 3097 MW Etalin Hydropower Project in Dibang sub basin of Brahmaputra basin in Arunachal Pradesh and North East India. The project was under consideration for this clearance since 2014 and finally in the meeting on Dec 27, 2022, FAC conveyed that the current proposal cannot be considered for the clearance and revised proposal may be submitted. It is not a blanket rejection of the project, but considering the history of consideration of this project in FAC, it is closest we can come to that.

It is also welcome to know that the FAC has also looked at the poor track record of compliance of conditions of earlier forest clearances for the hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh among the many reasons why the project is rejected in current form. Arunachal Pradesh may do well to improve its track record before applying for forest clearance to any new projects in the state.

This decision is also a lesson for the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects and also for MoEF itself for not even looking at the track record of compliance of the conditions of environment clearances that the EAC and MoEF give to the river valley and hydropower projects. They also never look at the implementation of the Environment Management Plans. Same is the case with the MoEF’s National Board of Wildlife.

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Sand Mining

2022: Riverine People’s Protest against Destructive Sand Mining Activities

The rampant riverbed mining in India have reached the alarming stage where the adverse impacts on river’s eco-system, river based environmental services including fishing, groundwater recharge, potable and irrigational water supply schemes have started affecting the riverine communities in multiple ways. Given the poor track records of responsible agencies in addressing their plight, the dependent, affected and concerned people have been left with no option but to resist. Like in past years, there have been several incidents of riverine people strongly opposing the destructive mining practices in many states in 2022. This overview compiles some such incidents which we could track. The first part of the overview highlighting the adverse impacts of riverbed mining on river eco-system and freshwater species can be seen here.      

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Sand Mining

2022: Riverbed Mining Destroying Indian River Eco-system & Freshwater Species

(Feature image sources: Clock wise (1) Mahseer fish/ Mongabay India, April 2022. (2) Gharials in Chambal/India Today, July 2022. (3) Gangetic dolphin/ECO NE. (4) Smooth-coated Otters in Cauvery/Round Glass, Jan. 2023.)

Indiscriminate mining of riverbeds for sand, gravel, pebbles have been rampant across the country increasingly damaging India’s rivers. The incidents of illegal sand mining, mafias, administrative actions & inactions, govt policies and court cases are routinely covered by the media. However the irreversible impacts of destructive riverbed mining operations on fresh water species and river eco-system are little understood, least explored, rarely covered by media and fails to attract the required attention from govts, judiciary and public at large. 

To some extent, we have been monitoring and highlighting the loop holes in sand mining governance. As part of our annual overview, in 2022 we have complied this separate report underlining the adverse impacts of riverbed mining on rivers and on aquatic life, fresh water species including endangered gharials, dolphins, turtles, fish etc.

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