Is it a legitimate, valid question, or is this question a product of old fashioned, romantic mind? If we go by the way we are treating the rivers and its various essential components in big cities or small, the answer seems a clear no.
State of Urban Rivers The urban rivers in India are not only in poor state, but their condition is worsening with every passing day[i]. Pollution, encroachments, solid waste dumping, damming, water diversions, groundwater over-exploitation, catchment degradation, destruction of water bodies, wetlands and forests, indiscriminate mining, the impact of building bridges, flyovers and metros are some of the known physical threats to the Urban rivers. Complete lack of any legal or institutional protection, and a mindset that sees rivers as non-essential, expendable entities are some of the major causes for this situation. This is true of rivers like Yamuna (Delhi, Agra, Mathura), Ganga (Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna), Gomati (Lucknow), Mithi (Mumbai), Mula-Mutha (Pune), Sabarmati (Ahmedabad), Dravyawati (Jaipur), Khan (Indore), Kshipra (Ujjain), Jhelum (Srinagar), Mahi and Vishvamitri (Vadodara), Tapi (Surat), Arkavathi & Virishabhavati (Bangalore), to name a few.
Continue reading “Do we have space for Rivers in our cities?” →
Guest Article by: Manu Bhatnagar
Consequent to INTACH’s efforts with the Yamuna Monitoring Committee [YMC] of NGT the following results were obtained in 2021:
“The Delhi government on Monday (June 14, 2021) banned the sale, storage, transportation, and marketing of soaps and detergents not conforming to the latest BIS parameters to curb pollution in the Yamuna river. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in January (2021) accepted recommendations of the Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC) which had suggested directing the Delhi government to issue orders “prohibiting sale, storage and transportation and marketing of detergents which do not conform to the revised BIS standards”. All the authorities concerned, including local bodies, civil supplies department and district administrations having control over shops and other establishments dealing with sale, storage, transportation and marketing facilities for soaps and detergents in Delhi should ensure the compliance of directions through strict vigil and surprise checks, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) said in an order issued on Monday.
In its report submitted to the NGT, the YMC had also suggested that all the manufacturers of soaps and detergents be directed to disclose the ingredients present in the product and display the same on the package.” – The above as reported in Business Standard of 15 June, 2021. [i]
Continue reading “A beginning of the Pipe Solution: Policy Intervention To Reduce Phosphates in Detergents” →
On the August 7 2022, more than 1500 Punekars made their way to the Hills of the city and came together to protect “Tekdi” from multiple shortsighted developmental pressures. Hills of Pune are the last bastions for urban wild spaces and are also the watersheds for several streams flowing in the city, now bundled under the misnomer of Nallas or drains.
Continue reading “Celebrating 30 years of protecting a Spring in a City” →
(Feature Image: The order is subject to the orders of the SC which is pending. NGT on Nov. 24, 2021ordered the BMC to deposit within three months an environmental penalty of ₹28.20 crores to the CPCB for discharging raw sewage into the city creeks, rivers and drains. HT Photo)
During past one year, the judicial bodies including National Green Tribunal, Supreme Court, various High Courts have passed several orders and made critical observation while dealing with multiple issues afflicting Urban Rivers in India. This report highlights top ten such judicial interventions across India. The stories underline that the responsible agencies particularly pollution control boards and district, state and union governments have been failing miserably in timely and efficient implementation of these judicial orders, some of which are quite remarkable. If the executive bodies do not show right spirit and seriousness in enforcing the existing rules and court orders the state of India’s urban river only go downhill.
Continue reading “Top Ten Judicial Actions on Urban Rivers 2022: Executors Deliberately Delaying, Diluting, Defying orders” →
(Feature Image:- A boat is anchored on Yamuna bank as toxic foam float in Delhi, June 5, 2021. PTI Photo/TIE)
This report focuses on various plans implemented and under consideration by respective governments vis- a-vis the plight of Urban Rivers in ten cities of India during past one year. It shows the preoccupation of the government in setting up of more and more Sewage Treatment Plants and Industrial Effluent Treatment Plants, even as most of the existing STPs and ETPs are known to be functioning far below the promised levels and many not functioning at all. Without addressing the governance of the STPs and ETPs transparent, accountable and participatory, there is little chance of these helping the rivers. It seems more like part of government’s pre-occupation and faith in infrastructure and no faith in governance or people. It also covers some questionable decisions which would further damage the eco-system of these already degraded and threatened rivers in addition to impacting the dependent urban communities adversely.
Continue reading “Urban Rivers 2022-Top Ten Govt Actions: pre-occupation with STPs without accountable governance” →
This report highlights top ten cases of the grave crisis faced by India’s Urban Rivers during the past one year.
1. Reality of Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad Effluents from 4 CETPs don’t meet parameters The untreated influent as well treated effluent from 4 CETPs under the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation jurisdiction do not adhere to prescribed parameters, stated 2 draft reports of CSIR–NEERI. The 2 draft reports submitted to the PCB on March 24, 2022 with respect to functioning of 4 of the total 7 CETPs under AMC jurisdiction — Naroda Enviro Project Ltd (NEPL), Gujarat Vepari Maha Mandal Odhav (GVMM), CETP Green Environment Services Co-op Society Ltd (GESCL) Vatva and CETP Narol Textile Infrastructure & Enviro Management (NTIEM) Narol.
The 2 drafts reports were submitted before the Gujarat HC on March 24 by way of an affidavit by GPCB in relation to a suo motu PIL being heard by the Gujarat HC concerning pollution in Sabarmati river. GPCB in its affidavit submitted that pursuant to the CSIR NEERI analyses of the 4 CETPs, the reports have also been forwarded to the concerned CETPs and have been asked to furnish the timeline of action plan to the GPCB at the earliest. Notably, CM Bhupendra Patel had told the Assembly that Rs 136 crore was spent in 2020 and 2021 to clean up Sabarmati river. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/sabarmati-river-pollution-effluents-from-4-cetps-dont-meet-parameters-report-7838085/ (27 March 2022)
Continue reading “India’s Urban Rivers in Crisis in 2022: Top Ten Cases” →
(Feature Image: Work on Rs. 700 crore Chambal RFD project in Kota which is supposed to be ready by Dec. 2022 end. Image Source: Free Press Journal)
The Central and various state governments have been pushing big budget River Front Developments (RFD) projects as panacea for all the urban water woes. In reality, these are River destruction projects with the objective of encroaching on river floodplain and even river beds of Urban Rivers. These RFDs have been failing to deliver on proposed claims and resulting in waste of public money apart from causing more damages to urban rivers eco-system and livelihoods of dependent communities. The projects are also multiplying the Urban Flood potential. In reality, India urgently requires an Urban River Policy as a subset of Urban Water Policy to guide how to treat urban water and urban rivers.
This compilation highlights situation of ten such RFD projects in the country which are failing miserably and facing stiff resistance from concerned citizens and dependent people during last one year or so.
Continue reading “Top Ten River Front Development Stories 2022: Destroying Rivers, Livelihoods” →
(Feature Image: WATERMARK: An 1810 painting by J. Hammer of the Hooghly at Serampore/ Source, The Telegraph)
The plight of urban rivers in India has been going from bad to worse courtesy systematic neglect and unplanned development projects. On the one hand they are being increasingly deprived of freshwater flows by diverting water for domestic supplies and on the other have been turned into dumping place for mostly untreated solid and liquid waste in massive amounts from residential areas as well as industrial pockets. Nevertheless, there are some remarkable efforts being undertaken by individuals, organizations, government departments aiming at restoration of urban rivers at some places across the country. This compilation highlights top ten such positive urban river stories taking place during past one year.
Continue reading “Urban Rivers 2022: Top Ten Positive Stories from India” →
Shailendra Patel, diminutive and fast-paced, was leading me through a maze of barbed wires, construction debris and iron fences. Pigs and dogs looked up at us with surprise. This was a treasure hunt. With us was Tushar Sarode from Jeevit Nadi. After sliding down a precarious mound of construction debris, the treasure shimmered before us. In the middle of a chaotic Pune suburb, surrounded by a garbage dump, an urban drain and mountains of concrete emerged a sparkling, babbling little spring. It was this spring that Shailendra Patel has been protecting for the past 5 years. If it were not for him, this pool with darting fish and water sliders would be buried under a luxury apartment or a road.
Continue reading “A Spring in a City: Struggle to save a tiny spring is a touchstone of our priorities” →
Several bridges, old and new crisscross over the rivers Mula and Mutha in Pune. Some of them are old and stately like the Lakdi Pul built over 250 years ago or the beautiful Shivaji Pul, while there are low ones like the Baba Bhide Bridge, which routinely gets submerged in the monsoons.
I try to walk across these bridges on most evenings.
Continue reading “Bridges of Pune and the People who Stop and See” →