The health and future of our country is critically dependent on the health of our rivers. To compromise upon our rivers’ health is to endanger our own existence and future. Most of the urban rivers in Maharashtra are in poor state affected by problems like pollution, with little or no biodiversity, little or no flow during most of the year, encroachment, dumping of waste, concretization and sometimes even mining. Water pollution from Urban Industrial effluents is a serious problem for the river, floodplain as well as ground water. With unplanned development, as the floodplains and riverbeds are being encroached, we are experiencing increased intensity and frequency of floods and flash floods. This can lead to an increasing possibility of water scarcity, depletion of groundwater levels and drought in spite of rains. Continue reading “Pune Dialogue on Urban Rivers of Maharashtra on April 20-21, 2018”
Above: Dahisar river inside SGNP Photo Aslam Saiyad
Guest Blog by Aslam Saiyad
While documenting the work of the River March organisation[i], whose goal was to rejuvenate Mumbai’s rivers, I came across Adivasi communities who lived inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). I noticed some children standing in school uniforms a few kilometers inside the park. They were getting ready to go to a school which was 7km away. And it surprised me because people living in one of the world’s richest municipalities didn’t have a basic mode of transportation to go to school. Continue reading “The Hype, Hypocrisy and reality of Mumbai River Anthem”
On June 17, 2017, a PIB Press Release from Union Ministry of Water Resources announced, “Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has cleared the final raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in Gujarat by lowering of gates and impounding of water in the reservoir upto its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 mts. The NCA which met here yesterday under the Chairmanship of Dr. Amarjit Singh, Secretary (WR, RD & GR) considered all aspects of environmental and Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) issues.”
The gate closure will lead to submergence and displacement of lakhs of tribals and farmers of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, without even proper resettlement as legally required. There is also no justification for the decision as the canal infrastructure necessary to use the additional water that the dam will store with increase in height from 121.92 mts to 138.68 mts is not even ready. Continue reading “Sardar Sarovar gate closure without resettlement or justification is a inhuman, unjust decision: Will SC intervene?”
Release water from Koyna & Tata dams to drought hit Karnataka, Telangana & Andhra Pradesh
Large parts of South India, including parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are facing unprecedented drought and water scarcity. However, Maharashtra is sending OUT billions of liters of water FROM drought hit Krishna basin to High Rainfall Konkan region to flow to the sea. Continue reading “STOP DIVERSION OF WATER FROM DROUGHT HIT KRISHNA BASIN”
Above: Wainganga River, downstream of Gosikhurd reservoir (Photo by AJT Johnsingh on 09/03/17)
The valley of Wainganga River has served as a backdrop for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle book. East Vidarbha region of Maharashtra hosts major part of this lush green landscape which is ecologically one of the most significant regions of India. More than 50% of forest of Maharashtra State falls in this region. Government of Maharashtra (GoM) however is doing little on its part to protect these. Perceiving them as ‘hurdles’ GoM is pushing more and more unfeasible dam projects in this region in the name of irrigation. Water for rivers, biodiversity, wildlife has taken a backseat in the growing claims on Wainganga waters. If these projects come up health of Wainganga basin will be further seriously jeopardized.
This is an attempt to put together Maharashtra specific profile of Wainganga River. Continue reading “Wainganga River: Threatened lifeline of Vidarbha’s Forests”
Farm ponds dotting the agricultural fields immediately grab your attention as you enter Hiwargaon Pawasa – a small village of about 1500 population in Sangamner Taluka of Ahmadnagar District. The village is located just off NH-50, the national highway connecting Pune and Nashik. Farm ponds start to appear as soon as you turn east from NH-50 (which broadly runs North South) to head towards Hiwargaon. Nearly every farm, small or big, has a plastic lined farm pond. Hiwargaon Pawasa village alone has some 300 odd farm ponds.
I am here to see how these small scale irrigation facilities now set to be implemented on massive scale through the country are performing on ground. Continue reading “Maharashtra Farm Ponds: accelerating groundwater exploitation, rather than harvesting rain?”
Above: Illegal Sand Mining in Pune (Photo: Indian Express)
At State level the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) is the regulatory authority for granting environmental clearance to the projects falling under Category ‘B’ in Schedule of EIA notification, 2006, which receives projects recommended by State level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC). SEAC is constituted for the purpose of assisting the SEIAA. Both SEAC and SEIAA are constituted under the EIA notification. For Maharashtra there are three SEACs. SEAC-I looks after appraisal of all the projects related to Industries, Mining, Irrigation and others, excluding building projects. SEAC-II looks appraises all the building projects falling under Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and SEAC-III appraises the building projects falling under Non-MMR region.
SANDRP looked at the decisions of SEAC-I (hereafter referred to as SEAC) for 17 meetings (of year 2015-16) specifically for projects which involve rivers, water bodies and also which have large water footprint e.g. sugarcane. The projects related to rivers and water bodies mainly consisted of sand mining projects, medium irrigation projects, dredging of rivers for proposed waterways, newly proposed or capacity enhancement of sugar factories and few other specific projects such as solid waste dumping site proposed by Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) which is close to the river etc.
At the outset it has to be said that the minutes for all the meetings are highly generic with little or no project specific elaboration especially of the environmental impacts. For most of the projects especially sand mining the remarks and conditions are standard. If one is trying to understand the rationale behind sanctioning some projects it finds no mention. Many of the projects like sand mining, river dredging or solid waste management sites near flood lines have been approved despite of evident grave risk. ‘No project’ does not seem to be an option at all.
Minutes of the meetings reflect how the project proponents (PP) have taken rivers for granted. Despite repeated violations SEAC has bestowed tremendous faith in PP that the conditions it stipulates will be complied with.
Remarks made by the committee give an impression of inadequate impact assessment of the projects. There is enough room to question if any serious impact assessment happened at all.
All in all after studying the minutes it becomes apparent how government bodies have failed to curb violations and damage to the rivers. Continue reading “Maharashtra State Environment Protection Agency: Pathetic performance, sits over destruction of rivers”
Above: Pipelines which supply water to Pune City from Khadakwasla Dam (Photo: Amruta Pradhan, SANDRP)
Urban narrative of Maharashtra revolves predominantly around cities of Mumbai (along with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region i.e. MMR), Pune, Nagpur and Nashik. Dominance of these large urban centres or the big cities over raw water sources is apparent. These cities have per capita water supply much more than the prescribed norms and continue to seek more water allocations. As Maharashtra gears up to fund more and more dams tapping finances from different sources, big cities with growing footprint of water consumption are all set to claim more water from these dams. Continue reading “Maharashtra Urban water sector in 2016: Big cities eyeing big dams”
Above: Pandhapur wari, the yearly pilgrimage on Bhima banks (Source: pandharpurwari.com)
Bhima River, the largest tributary of Krishna River holds a special significance for the state of Maharashtra. The river is closely woven with the spiritual fabric of the state. The river is also referred to as Chandrabhaga River, especially at Pandharpur- the famous pilgrimage city, as it resembles the shape of the Moon. Bhima basin occupies nearly 70% area of the Krishna Basin falling in Maharashtra. Though the river originates in Maharashtra, it merges with Krishna river in Karnataka state, thus can be viewed as an independent basin.
In recent years Bhima basin has been subjected to excessive pressure of anthropogenic activities such as religious festivals attracting millions of pilgrims through the year, growing pollution by urban centres, growing sugarcane cultivation and over extraction of the river water to feed the water guzzling crop. These activities are taking toll in the river’s health and its water availability. Maharashtra state’s haste of building more and more dams in Krishna basin is most prominently visible in Bhima basin.
In this sense this sub-basin of Krishna River Basin, is its perfect miniature.
We try to present a short profile of this basin. This article is in continuum with profile of Krishna River within Maharashtra published by SANDRP a few weeks back. Continue reading “Bhima River in Maharashtra: A profile”
In a welcome move Western Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued an interim stay on the proposed portion of the metro route passing through the Mutha river bed in the Pune city.[i] This directive was passed in an Environmental Interest Litigation (EIL) filed in the NGT on May 26 last year by a group of citizens contending that in the proposed metro rail alignment, a 1.7 km stretch passing through the left bank of the Mutha river could cause an irreversible damage to riverbank ecosystem along that route.
In the first phase two corridors of metro have been proposed in Pune. Corridor-I is of 16.59 km length from Pimpri-Chinchwad to Swargate and Corridor-II is of 14.6 km from Vanaz to Ramwadi. The petition before NGT Pune bench is against the 1.7 km stretch of Vanaz-Ramwadi corridor proposed through left bank of river Mutha. The metro route is proposed to enter the Mutha riverbed behind Savarkar memorial on Karve Road and proceed towards Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Bhavan and further to Food Corporation of India godowns behind Shivaji Nagar District Court.[ii] Two Metro stations are also proposed on the riverbed, one near Deccan Bus Stand and the other behind Sambhaji Park. Presently soil testing work for the project is in progress.
It certainly seems a good news for Pune’s rivers which have routinely made headlines for their pollution and poor state in general. Closer look towards the details however would cast a shadow on this development. The alignment through the river bed has been proposed despite PMC recently facing and losing a petition in NGT against 2.3 km long (and 24 m wide) road from Vitthalwadi to NH-4 bypass which was being constructed illegally right in the Mutha Riverbed. In its final judgment in July 2013 NGT ordered the road to be realigned. Subsequently a contempt petition was filed when PMC failed to comply with the orders where the NGT in January 2015 again ordered removal of the constructed road.[iii] Continue reading “NGT stays work of Pune Metro affecting rivers: Another violation of the river floodplain”