Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 27 March 2017 (DON’T WE NEED TO LEARN TO TRULY CELEBRATE OUR RIVERS?)

This is about the proposed Brahmaputra Festival being planned by the Assam Govt from March 31 to April 4, 2017. The five-day festival will witness significant participation from China. Various other countries such as Vietnam and Singapore are also reported as attending the program. It is scheduled to be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee.  

It is true that the word business appears four times on the opening page of this festival website, but the word flood, erosion and people do not appear even once. This is relevant since for very large sections of people of Assam, the river also means floods, erosion, displacement and disaster on regular basis and not just “lifeline of Assam” or “life-giving prosperity and countless blessings”.  

The festival website also errs in many ways, including when it claims “India’s only male river”, since there are several male rivers, including Damodar, Ajoy, Pagla, Gadadhar, among others. It is true that even the word Nemami is copied from the Nemami Gange, but that should not be such a big issue?

It is true that people also suffer when river dries up or is polluted or is encroached or unsustainably mined, and none of these issues are highlighted by the festival website. It is true that the the Assam also means all the communities, including the bodos and mishing and many others, not just Guwahati or Dibrugarh or Majuli. The festival organisers may argue that we are taking the festival to all 21 districts, but it is important to recognised all communities of Assam.

This is in addition to the fact that Brahmaputra includes all the states of North East India, and more. The Brahmaputra, 2,900 km long, is an international river with 918 km of it flowing in India, 1625 km in China and 337 km in Bangladesh.

It is true that the festival is more about attracting tourists, business and transport along the river. And so it is not even giving a comprehensive picture of the rivers of Brahmaputra basin in Assam, nor is there attempt to do anything to improve the state of the rivers. Similarly, the destruction of the rivers of Guwahati and Assam needs to be halted and reversed, and may be this occasion can be used to push that advocacy?

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 27 March 2017 (DON’T WE NEED TO LEARN TO TRULY CELEBRATE OUR RIVERS?)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 20 March 2017 (South India Reeling Under Severe Drought)

The drought has extended its grip in the South, with the South-West (S-W) monsoon falling significantly short and the North-East monsoon proving a total failure. Reeling under the impact of failed monsoons, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have declared themselves as drought affected. Kerala and Karnataka, which are the worst affected, are already contemplating actions such as cloud seeding to tide over the situation.

In Kerala, the S-W monsoon deficit stood at -34 per cent, and the North-East monsoon, -61 per cent. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, the deficits were -19 per cent and -62 per cent (North-East monsoon). For Coastal Karnataka, the shortfall stood at -21 per cent and -63 per cent, respectively. Drought-like conditions are also prevailing in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Water levels in key reservoirs in the region are at their lowest. The water tables have declined further even as the civic administration in many cities, small towns and panchayats has been increasingly tapping groundwater to ensure supplies. The situation is so dire that the Kerala govt has directed PepsiCo to cut down drastically on the use of groundwater for its Palakkad plant. Traders in Tamil Nadu are also boycotting these fizzy after claims that foreign firms are exploiting the country’s water resources.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 20 March 2017 (South India Reeling Under Severe Drought)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 20 Feb. 2017 (Bihar Govt Demands Decommissioning of Farakka Dam)

Bihar wants Farakka barrage to be decommissioned The Nitish Kumar govt has held the Farakka barrage in West Bengal responsible for heavy floods in Bihar and asked the Centre to decommission it to de-silt the heavily loaded upstream of Ganga River. The state has made the recommendation, observing that the dam is the “genesis of severe” flood consequences and responsible for “alarming” silt increase in the river’s upstream. According to sources, Nitish Kumar dispensation has made the demand before an experts’ committee formed by the Centre to work out guidelines for de-silting Ganga following last year’s devastating floods. 

As per the statement, decommissioning the barrage will help automatically de-silt the heavily loaded upstream, allowing silt to move to deltas before the sea thus helping  in restoration of deltas and its eco-system which is also getting adversely affected due to this barrage. To buttress its point, the state government has referred to Kolkata Port Trust’s data, which suggests that silt dredging at the port has increased from 6.40 million cubic metres annually from pre-Farakka days to four times, i.e. at 21.88 MCM annually, during 2003. The state government has also recommended the panel to come up with ‘National Silt Policy’ to address the problem. Bihar faced one of its worst floods as Ganga swelled in August last year, claiming lives of over 20 persons and affecting 20 lakh people.

Bihar Government has rightly asked for decommissioning of Farakka barrage and held it as the genesis of severe, destructive and prolonged floods that Bihar and other regions upstream from Farakka face year after year. Good to see that Bihar government has officially demanded decommissioning of the Farakka barrage before an expert committee of Ministry of Water Resources. Hope this starts the ball rolling to remove this unnecessary and giant dam on Ganga, which will also help the cause of fisheries (including Hilsa), downstream Bengal and also the river in general. The road cum rail line on the  barrage can continue to exist.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 20 Feb. 2017 (Bihar Govt Demands Decommissioning of Farakka Dam)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 06 Feb. 2017 (MSPCB Directs Reduction in Water Supply to Polluting Industries)

Maharashtra SPCB cuts 40% water supply to Taloja industries After the pollution board identified that chemical effluents from common effluent treatment plant (CETP) at Taloja were polluting the Kasadi river, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have directed to Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to cut 40 per cent of the water supply to industrial plants from February 1.

According to the letter issued to the industrial plants, earlier they were receiving 24-hour water supply but after MPCB’s directive, the plants would not receive water from 12am to 8am, effective from February 1.

Last year fishermen from the local Koli community had complained of decline in 90 per cent of fish catch from Kasadi river due to pollution. They had also alleged of inaction by authorities despite several complaints.

To highlight their plight, the fishermen then collected water samples in August 2016 from the Taloja CETP pipeline areas discharging treated waste and samples from the banks of the Kasadi river, and submitted them for a water quality test at Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (NMMC) environmental laboratory.

The samples were found failing several crucial parameters and having high levels of chloride , which is toxic to aquatic life and impacts vegetation and wildlife. Several reports had also mentioned that the pumping of industrial waste into the river had raised pollution levels 13 times higher than the safe limit. 

Taking cognizance of the complaints, MPCB issued a notice to MIDC highlighting the pollution problem on Jan. 31 2017 and informing the MIDC that until the Taloja industrial area does not start online pollution monitoring, adequate water supply would not be provided to them. The plants have two months to comply or else further action would be taken.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 06 Feb. 2017 (MSPCB Directs Reduction in Water Supply to Polluting Industries)”

Dams · Wetlands

Wetlands Review 2016: Legal Interventions

Featured image showing  36 Wetlands in India requiring urgent attention as per a 2014 petition filed in apex court (Image Source: Live Mint

In the third part of Wetlands Review 2016, SANDRP presents an account of major decisions taken by respective Courts for the protection of Wetlands in India. 

In a significant development in April 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed all State Governments to submit a complete list of Wetlands[1] under their jurisdiction. The green court was hearing a plea alleging commercial conversion and resultant destruction of several large ecologically important Wetland areas across the country in absence identification and notification by respective State Governments. 

The court also asked the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to submit the list of States that had approached it with Wetlands conservation plans.

Continue reading “Wetlands Review 2016: Legal Interventions”

Dams · Wetlands

Wetlands Review 2016: Government Actions

India is one of the 169 signatories to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of Wetlands and their resources. There are 2,241 Ramsar sites across the world, including 26 spread across India from Wular Lake in Jammu and Kashmir to Ashtamudi Wetland in Kerala, and from Deepor Beel in Assam to Nal Sarovar in Gujarat.

Despite their vital importance to humans, across India, Wetlands are seriously threatened by reclamation and degradation through processes of drainage, land filling, discharge of domestic and industrial effluents, disposal of solid waste, and over-exploitation of the natural resources that they offer.

Here is an account of major decisions and actions by Central as well as State Governments on wetlands related issues in 2016.

Continue reading “Wetlands Review 2016: Government Actions”

Dams · Wetlands

India’s Wetlands 2016: Encroached and Polluted

In the picture-Drying Wular lake in  J&K; Mass dish death due to pollution in Ulsoor Lake, Karnataka; Filling up of Wetlands in Maharashtra and Waste dumping on  Deepor Beel in Assam

Wetlands are vital for human survival. They are among the world’s most productive eco systems[1]. Wetlands are crucial for the survival of variety of plants and animals. They are indispensable for the countless services ranging from freshwater supply, food, sustainable livelihood options and groundwater recharge. They also host a huge variety of life, protect our coastlines, provide natural sponges against river flooding and store carbon to regulate climate change.

Here is an account on status of India’s wetland in 2016 underlining their ecological importance and urgent need of conservation of Wetlands across the country. 

Continue reading “India’s Wetlands 2016: Encroached and Polluted”

Wetlands

Threats to East Kolkata Wetlands are threats to Kolkata: Majhi jo nau dubaaye…

Guest Blog by: Chicu Lokgariwar (chicu.l@gmail.com), Usha Dewani (usha.dewani7@gmail.com)

‘Majhi jo nau dubaaye, to usey kaun bachaaye’ laments a popular song[i]. It literally translates as: ‘If an oarsman sinks his boat, who can save it?’

This is a question that concerned citizens of Kolkata are asking themselves today in connection with the famed East Kolkata Wetlands. A notified Ramsar site, this extensive wetland spread over 12,500 Ha has been protected for decades by the communities who live within it and by The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Act, 2006. Today, it is the Environment Minister of West Bengal who has taken it upon himself to destroy the wetlands. Continue reading “Threats to East Kolkata Wetlands are threats to Kolkata: Majhi jo nau dubaaye…”