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DRP News Bulletin 16 October 2017: New Groundwater Guidelines threat to India’s Water Lifeline

GROUND WATER

New Draft Guidelines designed to privatise & destroy Groundwater The Ministry of Water Resources of the Union Government has on Oct 11, 2017 (see notice: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/forms/List.aspx?lid=1180&Id=6) put up draft guidelines on Groundwater management in India (see draft Guidelines: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/writereaddata/guideline-NOC-CGWA.pdf), with comment period of 60 days. The comments are to be sent to: Member Secretary, Central Ground Water Authority, West Block-2, Wing 3 (Ground Floor), Sector 1, RK Puram, New Delhi – 110066, e-mail: cgwa@nic.in.

New Draft Groundwater guidelines designed to destroy groundwater further and open floodgates for privatisation of common property resource? “Groundwater is a common property resource and should be used for greater good. But these guidelines are not doing that. Groundwater governance and management should happen in a transparent, participatory and accountable way but that too is not happening through guidelines,” Thakkar said.

Explaining, Thakkar said that the guidelines are “trying to make a system wherein state or district level authorities will be giving NOCs but whether those authorities have capacity to give NOCs after understanding the implications is the question.” “The draft guidelines also take out the need to recharge groundwater. Present regulations say that you if you take out groundwater you need to put in recharge capacity but now they are saying that’s not necessary and are only seeking charges. These things will definitely lead to further destruction of groundwater,” he added. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/irx1jFCWMFjGJk82Z8VZ2O/Govt-proposes-new-guidelines-on-groundwater-usage-by-industr.html, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/oct/13/centre-proposes-water-conservation-fee-for-use-of-groundwater-1673480.html, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/oct/14/townships-with-gym-club-must-pay-water-fee-1673790.htmlhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/centre-proposes-nixing-recharge-requirement-for-industries-extracting-groundwater/story-kN3iPmO9m4MIoYkUX32n7I.html   Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 16 October 2017: New Groundwater Guidelines threat to India’s Water Lifeline”

Delhi

Decentralized STPs in the Delhi Capital Region

Guest blog by Kelly D. Alley and Nutan Maurya

The territory under the jurisdiction of the New Delhi Municipal Council, or Lutyen’s Delhi, is lush with beautiful gardens. The New Delhi Municipal Council maintains around 8,000 parks and uses about 80 million gallons of water a day for grass, plants, shrubbery and trees. The Delhi Jal Board estimates that the total water treated at its sewage treatment plants is about 455 million gallons a day (mgd) of which they provide 142 mgd for horticulture and irrigation in the Delhi metropolitan region. With groundwater levels depleting to over 300 feet in some sections of Delhi, there has been increasing focus on curtailing use of groundwater for horticulture and other non-essential services. In this context, the National Green Tribunal has directed all urban municipalities to use treated wastewater for horticulture.    Continue reading “Decentralized STPs in the Delhi Capital Region”

Delhi

ENSURING ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS IN INDIAN RIVERS

Above: Dead river Yamuna at Mawi (Panipat) in Haryana (Photo by Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan)

Guest Blog by: Manoj Misra (yamunajiye@gmail.com)

A perennial river that does not flow is no river. This is because flow enables a river to fulfil its various ecological functions of which completion of the water and nutrient cycles; maintenance of aquatic and riparian flora and fauna and recharge of ground water through aquifer action is the most evident and critical. The recharged ground water also helps meet a number of human dependencies like irrigation and drinking water supplies.

On this World Water Day (March 22) 2015, following the 6th meeting of the Yamuna Review Committee held under chairperson ship of Union Water Resources Minister Sushri Uma Bharti (See Annexure for the PIB Press Release about it) on March 20, 2015, this blog shows how it is possible to achieve environment flows in Yamuna River. Hope all the concerned state governments including that of Delhi headed by Arvind Kejriwal, Union Water Resources Minister and the National Green Tribunal that made an order in this regard, will take due note of this.

The state of the Yamuna has reached a boiling point as eleven members of the Yamuna Muktikaran Abhiyaan have started a fast unto death on March 21, 2015 in Delhi, charging Union Water Resource Minister Uma Bharti that “she only made hollow promises. She barely knew about the issue”. This group has been marching to Delhi every year since last three years and have felt cheated by the authorities each time. They decided to end the protest action on March 22, 2015 under some rather vague promise by the government that within two months Yamuna river will be brought under Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Continue reading “ENSURING ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS IN INDIAN RIVERS”

Delhi

NGT Orders MAILY SE NIRMAL YAMUNA – WILL THIS LEAD TO A REJUVENATED YAMUNA?

Guest Blog by Manoj Misra (yamunajiye@gmail.com), Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, Delhi

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in a landmark judgment pronounced on 13 January 2015[1], has set an ambitious road map for a rejuvenated river Yamuna by 2017. Naming it as “Maily se Nirmal Yamuna rejuvenation project, 2017” the green court in the judgment spread over almost 100 pages has detailed steps necessary to achieve what all previous efforts have miserably failed. Continue reading “NGT Orders MAILY SE NIRMAL YAMUNA – WILL THIS LEAD TO A REJUVENATED YAMUNA?”

Delhi

Citizen Memorandum to all political parties in Delhi on Water & Sanitation Imperatives of manifesto

Citizens Solidarity

Forum for Right to Water and Sanitation

Basti Vikas Kendra, F Block, New Seemapuri, Delhi 110095

Contact: Devendra Kumar, President(9250878059), Depinder Kapur, Convener(9711178181)

Date: 26th Jan 2015

Subject: Memorandum for inclusion in your Party manifesto, Delhi Assembly Elections 2015

Dear Sir/Madam,

Drinking water and sanitation is a major priority for residents of Delhi. There is no concrete commitment from any political party as yet in terms of norms, investment, pricing for water and sanitation, or what the elected government will do to ensure improvements in water supply, sanitation and cleanliness of Delhi. The slogan of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is an empty slogan if the political parties are not willing to listen to the demands of the residents of poor and slum settlements of Delhi and commit to providing basic sanitation and water services as a Fundamental Right.

Continue reading “Citizen Memorandum to all political parties in Delhi on Water & Sanitation Imperatives of manifesto”

Delhi · Ganga · Interlinking of RIvers

Rivers and Water in Union Budget 2014-15

In the first annual budget (for the year 2014-15) presented by the new NDA government at the centre on July 10, 2014, it is generally bad news for Ganga and other rivers. Below we have given various provisions on water and river from the budget speech of the Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley. Mr Jaitley said in his speech: “In the first Budget of this NDA government that I am presenting before the august House, my aim is to lay down a broad policy indicator of the direction in which we wish to take this country.” The broad policy indicators on rivers do not seem to be any good news for the rivers of the country.

RIVERS FM said, “Rivers form the lifeline of our country. They provide water not only for producing food for the multitudes but also drinking water.” This shows the limited understanding of rivers that the government has. Rivers provides so much more than water. The FM do not seem to have any good news for this lifeline as the budget has several proposals that will harm and destroy the rivers.

River Linking The PIB wrongly claims, “The Budget also contains the first ever effort to link the rivers across the country.” A sum of Rs. 100 crore in the current Budget to expedite the preparation of Detailed Project Reports has been set aside. This is waste of public money. In addition to this, there is a huge allocation for the annual budget for NWDA, whose only mandate is studies for river linking. It is existing for 22 years, but has not produced a single document that will pass independent public scrutiny, and NWDA is afraid to put any document in public domain. Why is the government spending money on such fruitless exercise?

GANGA: Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission The Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley said, “I propose to set up Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission called “Namami Gange” and set aside a sum of Rs 2,037 crores for this purpose.” Shri Jaitley said that the Mission is being launched because a substantial amount of money has been spent in the conservation and improvement of the river Ganga but the efforts have not yielded desired results because of the lack of concerted effort by all the stakeholders. This is admission of even NDA’s failure, since they were in power for at least six years and have not been able to make a dent in the state of the river. They should learn from that experience before jumping into such missions.

This raises a lot of unanswered questions: There is already an existing National Mission for Clean Ganga and if this new mission will be in addition to the old one or if the old one will be abolished? What is new in the new mission? Strangely, the FM did not use the work Ganga Rejuvenation, the charge that Ms Uma Bharti has been given. Does this indicate something is amiss here?

Riverfront Development “The Finance Minister has also set aside a sum of Rs. 100 crore for Ghat development and beautification of river front at Kedarnath, Haridwar, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna and Delhi in the current financial year since Riverfronts and Ghats are not only places of rich historical heritage but many of these are also sacred.”

The trouble is, this could spell disaster for the river and the cities where such development is planned, if this is going to happen on the lines of Sabarmati river front development. This is because in case of Sabarmati, the Riverfront development meant encroachment of over 200 ha of riverbed. If this is followed the river’s carrying capacity will be reduced. In changing climate, rivers need more and not less carrying capacity as the events of July 2005 in Mumbai, of August 2006 in Surat & recent years in Delhi have indicated. During Uttarakhand disaster of June 2013 the buildings that we saw collapsing were all standing on the riverbeds. That should be a warning for any riverfront development that would encroach on the riverbed.

NRI Fund for Ganga To harness the enthusiasm of the NRI Community to contribute towards the conservation of the river Ganga, an NRI Fund for Ganga will be set up which will finance special projects, the Finance Minister added.

“A project on the river Ganga called ‘Jal Marg Vikas’ (National Waterways-I) will be developed between Allahabad and Haldia to cover a distance of 1620 kms, which will enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels. The project will be completed over a period of six years at an estimated cost of Rs 4,200 crore.”

Watershed Development To give an added impetus to watershed development in the country, a new programme called “Neeranchal” will be launched with an initial outlay of Rs 2,142 crore in the current financial year. This could be a positive move, but we have to await the details. It is also not clear if this is in addition to the ongoing watershed development or in place of it.

Rural Drinking Water For providing safe drinking water, Rs 3600 crore has been earmarked under National Rural Drinking Water Programme in approximately 20,000 habitations affected with arsenic, fluoride, heavy/toxic elements, pesticides/fertilizers through community water purification plants in next 3 years, the Finance Minister added.

Delhi Water Reforms Rs. 500 crore for water reforms to make Delhi a truly World Class City. The budget does not say a word what these reforms would mean, but going by the track record of this government in past, when they say reforms, they mean privatisation, which will be strongly opposed in Delhi.

Allocation for Renuka has no justification The FM said, “In addition, to solve the long term water supply issues to the capital region, construction of long pending Renuka Dam would be taken up on priority. I have provided an initial sum of Rs 50 crore for this.” Firstly Renuka dam does not even have statutory forest clearance and NGT has stopped work on the project. FM, but allocating money for the project in such a situation has indicated that they do not care for statutory clearance process or judicial orders.

Moreover Delhi does not need any more water from outside. It is already privileged with per capita water availability of over 250 lpcd, which is more than most European cities. Delhi does not harvest rain water, does not use flood water to recharge, does not protect its water bodies, does not treat its sewage, does not recycle and reuse the treated sewage, does not reduce its losses, does not do demand side measures and like a spoilt kid, asks more and more water from long distance sources.

Thirdly, Delhi may want exclusive share in water from Renuka, but Upper Yamuna states of Haryana, UP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh are all asking for their share from the project and are ready to share the costs. Going ahead with the project without resolution of the interstate issues may land us in a soup similar to the Munak Canal.

Allocation for Statue of Unity The budget provides Rs 200 crore for ‘Statue of Unity’ in Gujarat. This project is come up in eco sensitive zone, and will affect large no of people and water body, but it has not seen any social or environmental impact assessment or participatory consultative process. It is supposed to come up in the middle of the water reservoir to be created by the proposed Garudeshwar Dam on Narmada river, but that dam has no impact assessment or clearances and stands challenged in NGT. Allocating money for the project under the circumstances is inappropriate.

Welcome Move: National Centre for Himalayan Studies in Uttarakhand “There is a great need to increase the capacity in the country for Himalayan Studies. I propose to set up a National Centre for Himalayan Studies in Uttarakhand with an initial outlay of Rs 100 crore.”

Irrigation The Budget provides Rs. 1,000 crore for Pradhan Mantri Krishi Seenchaayi Yojana. If this is for decentralized local systems, it would be a welcome move, but no details are available.

Welcome move: Organic farming in North East India Rs 100 crore has been provided in the budget to promote organic farming in Northeast India. This is a welcome move.

Welcome move: National Climate Change Adaptation fund for small farmers The FM said, “Climate change is a reality which all of us have to face together. Agriculture as an activity is most prone to the vagaries of climate change. To meet this challenge, I propose to establish a “National Adaptation Fund” for climate change. As an initial sum an amount of Rs 100 crore will be transferred to the Fund.” This is welcome, but we need to see who corners this money. It should go to the rainfed farmers.

Some other  welcome provisions: Finance to 5 lakh landless farmers through Nabard since landless are not able to get bank loans in absence of land as a guarantee; Rs 50 core set aside for blue revolution for inland fisheries. This is provided there is a move to conserve the riverine fisheries.

On the whole, in spite of some welcome moves, on the whole, the budget brings more bad news for the rivers & those depend on rivers and rains, than good.

SANDRP

Sources:

1. Budget speech of the FM: http://indiabudget.nic.in/ub2014-15/bs/bs.pdf

2. PIB Press Releases from Finance Ministry on July 10, 2014: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx

Additional issues from Media:

1. The Hindustan Times reported that the budget has reduced the allocation for MEF by 15% compared to previous year: http://www.hindustantimes.com/specials/coverage/unionbudget2014/budget2014/environment-gets-raw-deal-renewable-energy-a-fillip/sp-article10-1238988.aspx

2. The Indian Express has reported that the budget provides additional provisions for shutting downNGOs and Trusts: http://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/budget-makes-it-easier-for-govt-to-shut-down-ngos-and-trusts/

3. CSE: “Budget 2014 allocates Rs 200 crore for statue and Rs 50 crore for 50 million people who depend on the handloom sector. What does this say of priorities?”

4. BJP’s maiden budget disappointing for farmers: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/bjp-s-maiden-budget-disappointing-farmers

5. ‘Budget silent on crucial farmer suicide issue’: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Chandigarh/Budget-silent-on-crucial-farmer-suicide-issue/articleshow/38163502.cms

6. Good, bad and ugly – YJA ‘green’ take on the Union Budget 2014-15: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/good-bad-and-ugly-our-green-take-on-the-union-budget-2014-15/

Delhi

AAP Government in Delhi: Agenda on Water

Dear Arvind and everyone else at AAP,

It is indeed a historic day in Indian politics and governance as AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal took oath at Ramlila Ground today(December 28, 2013). It gives and amazing, thrilling feeling and has filled us with joy and hope. It is indeed likely to change the politics of India in fundamental ways. Salutes to all those who made this possible.

As well wishers we are unable to avoid the temptation of writing to AAP about some of the things they can be done in whatever little time that they may be allowed to govern in Delhi.

1. Democratise governance of DJB Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is one of the most non-transparent, non participatory, unaccountable bodies. Longer term agenda would need to institutionalize bottom up democracy in its functioning from mohalla sabha level to the top. In the mean time, you can tame some immediate steps to ensure that there is immediate independent oversight and participation of the Board. The steps suggested in AAP manifesto like putting daily readings of bulk water meters at each step are certainly welcome, but more steps are required in this line regarding the governance of the Board.

2. Stop Supply side projects Delhi as a city is privileged place. As even planning commission has noted, Delhi gets more per capita water than Amsterdam, Paris, Bonn or most other European cities. The amount of water that Delhi gets is sufficient to provide for necessary needs of today and even for all future times. Delhi should not be asking for any more water from new dam projects like the Renuka, Lakhwar and other dams. To move in that direction, DJB can be asked to prepare a plan for next 20 years (as a first step) assuming Delhi wont get any more water than it currently gets. As you are well aware, there will be several components of this plan including: A. Rainwater harvesting B. Plugging leaks C. Instituting Water Audits D. Putting in place functioning water meters at each junction E. Adequate treatment of wastewater F. Reuse and recycle of waste water G. avoiding unnecessary water intensive activities H. Protecting local water bodies I. Ensuring sustainability of flood plains, Ridge and other such ecological spaces J. Ensuring protection of catchments. 

Delhi's Water Sources
Map of Delhi’s Water Sources

Some of these are elaborated below and all of them can be effectively achieved only with democratic water governance.

DJB should also be asked to get out of the commitment for resources for Renuka and other upstream projects and also need for such projects.

3. Rainwater harvesting Ask DJB to prepare time bound plan to ensure that there are functioning rainwater harvesting and use/ recharge systems in place at: All government buildings, all colleges, all schools, all institutions, all metros, all railway stations, all flyovers, all (over-ground) metro lines, all parks, all malls, all multiplexes, all commercial buildings. Many of the storm water drains can also be used for recharging groundwater where appropriate. This should be time bound and consequences to follow after a reasonable time limit say one year. There should be some credible way of ensuring that these function.

4. Sewage Treatment PlantsDelhi has India’s largest installed capacity of STPs, but none are functioning as per the design in terms of quantity or quality of outputs. Put in place credible governance for these to ensure that they function and make specific officers responsible for these and mechanisms to ensure they face consequences when these STPs do not function. Each plant can immediately have a monitoring committee including AAP or local MLA, media persons, civil society persons and RWA persons. 

There are 18 STPs in Delhi, even though this map shows the location of only 17 STPs
There are 18 STPs in Delhi, even though this map shows the location of only 17

5. Decentralisedsewage capacities Where necessary and possible, put in place decentralized STPs using less resources and more environment friendly methods in a time bound manner. All large establishments in any case should have their own STPs and water recycle plans. Additional STP capacity should preferably be decentralized one. DJB should be asked to prepare norms and plans for these.

6. Sewage reuse plans DJB should be asked to prepare a credible sewage reuse and recycle plans so that there is less pressure on fresh water supply and more recycled sewage is used to meet non potable use in the city. 

In addition to the DJB the three wings of the MCD must also in tune with the DMC Act 1957 be re-vested with roles and responsibilities for an efficient sewerage system and management in the city.  

7. Drainage system A functioning drainage system and their maintenance is key part of urban water system and it is good that AAP manifesto has included this. DJB should be ask to put their plan on this in public domain along with the maintenance system and those responsible for it. Connect this too to Mohalla Sabha.

8. Groundwater governance It is well known that Delhi is over using groundwater, 2004 estimates show that this was 70% above the recharge then. The governance of groundwater use is under DJB and this needs to be democratized and only at RWA, mohalla or ward level can there be proper governance, which needs to be put in place urgently, along with more recharge systems. Ask DJB to prepare a ground water map of Delhi along with aquifer map (over longer term) and use it to integrate rainwater harvesting, local water sources and Delhi water supply.

9. 700 lphd free water Equity in water distribution remains a serious issue in the city. On the AAP promise to provide free water to those that are going to use less than 700 litres water per household (or less than 140 lpcd), while intentions of helping ensure those who are using minimum water is good, there are a large number of question marks. We sincerely hope this does not translate into clamour for more water for Delhi from outside sources. Secondly, we hope this does not lead to wastage of water, which would actually mean less water available for those who do not have. This also hinges on functioning household level water meters. Moreover, 140 lpcd may be the norm, at least 50 lpcd would be guaranteed with credible enforcement mechanism. Even this 50 lpcd can be provided at minimum token price of Rs 1 per KL. Those who use higher quantity should be asked to pay for the full water use with some subsidy and those who use more than 140 lpcd should be asked to pay higher than cost price so that there is some revenue generation for cross subsidization for the poor. Water price should include the full sewage treatment cost. Incentivising local treatment and reuse is an excellent idea in AAP manifesto. 

The Cost of Delhi's Water: Protest against Construction of Renuka Dam in Himachal Pradesh
The Cost of Delhi’s Water: Protest against Construction of Renuka Dam in Himachal Pradesh

10. Investigate Munak stalemate We have noticed that AAP manifesto talks about ensuring that Delhi gets is water share from Munak based on the money spent. However, one of the reasons Delhi is not getting that water is that Delhi did not enter into an agreement with Haryana before agreeing to provide money for the Munak project. It needs to be investigated why did Delhi agree to spend money on Munak before entering into such legal agreement. AAP govt may consider instituting such an investigation.

11. Yamuna river There is a lot that is required to be done for the Yamuna river, some of which has been highlighted in the AAP manifesto as well.  Some of the steps listed above could help the cause of the river. Some of the addition steps should include: a) Demarcate Yamuna flood plain to ensure there is no more encroachment of the same; b) some of the current encroachments can be asked to vacate the flood plain in time bound manner; c) ensure there is some releases of water from Hathnikund and Wazirabad barrages immediately, ask for a long term plan for the river assuming there will be no more dams in the upstream.

12. Transparency about and reversal of agreements with Degremont, Veolia and other private companies The agreement that DJB has entered into with various private companies on Sonia Vihar, Rithala and other projects and the three water supply zones should be put in public domain and ways found to reverse them where possible.

We know Mr Kejriwal and lot of others at AAP would be familiar with a lot of this since Mr Kejriwal led the successful campaign against water privatisation in Delhi in 2005, and we hope credible steps would be taken up in these directions as soon as possible.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Himanshu Thakkar

(ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (https://sandrp.wordpress.com/, http://sandrp.in)

Manoj Misra

(yamunajiye@gmail.com)

Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan (http://www.peaceinst.org/)