As per Counter View report, a well-informed Gujarat government source has told it that a major reason why the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) recently declared there would be “no water” from the multi-purpose irrigation scheme, Sardar Sarovar dam, to Gujarat farmers starting March 15, 2018, is Madhya Pradesh elections, scheduled for this year-end.
The source, refusing to be identified, said, “Already, massive preparations are on in Madhya Pradesh to provide as much Narmada water to the state’s farmers by storing as much water as possible. The idea is to appease the farmers with Narmada waters in the same way as it was done last year before the elections took place in Gujarat.”
In a remarkable protest echoing urgent need for protection of rivers, fisherfolk of Kosasthalai River on 03 January 2018, launched a ‘Jal Satyagraha’ against Kamarajar Port project. The proposal would divert 1000 acres of creek area. It mainly comprises of river, wetlands, marshy areas on which fisher community depend for livelihood.
Raising their voices against the project with holding play cards that read “This is River, Not Land” they stood in waist-deep in waters to save Ennore Creek. Joining the protest, hundreds of residents also demanded the withdrawal of alleged fraudulent maps denying the existence of the Ennore Creek. The community has been fighting a lonely battle against the Tamil Nadu government accusing it of turning wetlands illegally into industrial real estate corridors.
– “Fishing economy has been hit massively. Shrinking of water body means less space for fish. Shrinking has happened in terms of surface spread as well as depth thanks to the dumping of dredged sand from the sea, silting the waterbody. The larger concern is fly ash and heavy metals from the industries polluting the environment causing health hazards,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, Environmental activist and researcher who was part of the protest. https://www.oneindia.com/india/chennai-fisherfolk-stage-jal-satyagraha-to-save-ennore-creek-2613088.html (One India, 04 January 2018)
As per NGT’s October 16, order, the Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) was asked to set up a “neutral” panel to objectively consider conflicting recommendations that have stalled the 2,000-MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (HEP) on the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border and come up with an “independent opinion” in three months.
The NGT said this was the only way to break the six-year logjam that has stalled a project vital to the “national interest.”
Contrary to this, MoEF on November 16, 2017 has set up a three-member panel with experts -who or their organisations- have all backed NHPC’s positions on the project in the past: Prabhas Pande, I D Gupta and P M Scott.
Pande retired as Additional Director General of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in 2011. The GSI researched the Subansiri project and was part of the National Committee on Seismic Design Parameters (NCSDP) which cleared the project based on seismic design parameters which are currently under dispute. Scott is chief engineer, Brahmaputra and Barak Basin, Central Water Commission (CWC), which has been involved in conceiving and reviewing the Subansiri project. Both the Dam Design Review Panel (DDRP) and the NCSDP had members from the CWC.
Between 2009 and 2013, Gupta was director of Pune-based Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS) which was involved in the designing process of the Subansiri project. As director, CWPRS, Gupta was also part of the NCSDP which re-examined the seismic design parameters of the project and held, in March 2013, that further revisions were not required.
After completing his tenure as director, CWPRS, Gupta attended at least two meetings — in December 2013 at Guwahati and in December 2014 at Delhi — as an “Expert from the Government of India” and contradicted views of the Assam Expert Group on quake-related dam safety issues.
As per the NGT order, this panel had to meet members of earlier committees, NHPC officials and applicants in the case before the Tribunal. However, applicant Tularam Gogoi, a Guwahati-based lawyer and former vice-president of All Assam Students Union (AASU), refused to meet the panel at its first meeting in Delhi on December 21-22 and served the ministry with a legal notice alleging “bias and conflict of interest which will prejudice the decision-making.”
Gogoi alleged that all three experts were from organisations that had green-flagged the project design in the past over-ruling objections raised by the Assam Expert Group, a committee set up by the state government to examine the project in 2007.
Conceived as the country’s largest hydel project, Subansiri lower dam construction began in 2005 and over Rs 6,000 crore was already spent by NHPC Ltd before work was suspended due to local opposition in 2011.
Also see, Tussles over Teesta The story of a tug-of-war over a river is the fruition of a year-long research exploring various conflicts and hydropolitics in the Teesta river basin, shared by India and Bangladesh, and tries to unearth domestic-transboundary linkages and provide pragmatic solutions. https://gaurinoolkar.wordpress.com/
Song is one of the largest rivers that drains central and eastern part of the Doon Valley. A tributary of Sooswa river, which in turn is a tributary of the Ganges, it originates as spring-fed stream in the southern slopes of the Mussoorie ridge of the Himalayan range and runs from Dhanaulti towards Narendra Nagar. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_river_(Dehradun) (As on 26 December 2017)
In another separate development surrounding the Song river, around 25 villagers of Gohri Mafi situated on the outskirts of Rajaji Tiger Reserve are protesting since the last two days inside the core area of the reserve demanding a flood control wall to protect their village from the Song river, a tributary of the Ganga.
CentreStatus of Hydro Small Hydro Projects upto Nov 2017Statement of Energy Minister Raj Kumar Singh, in Lok Sabha on Dec 28: A total 1085 small hydro power projects with aggregate capacity of 4399.355 MW capacity have been set up upto Nov 2017 & 7133 Small Hydro Project potential sites have been identified with aggregate capacity of 21,133.65 MW. Against the, 1085 small hydro power projects aggregating to 4399.355 MW capacity have been set up (by Nov 2017) while work on 140 sites aggregating to 772.56 MW is ongoing.- Highest capacity: 1. Karnataka: 1230.73 MW; 2. Himachal Pradesh: 842.11 MW; 3. Maharashtra: 347.375 MW. Explore the link to see State wise number of Small Hydro Projects installed.http://pib.nic.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1514461 (PIB; 28 December 2017)
Another PIB release shows that even small hydro projects are not doing well as out of total 27.07GW capacity addition of renewable energy reported during the last two and half years under Grid Connected Renewable Power only 0.59 GW is from Small Hydro Power.
Programme/ Scheme wise Physical Progress in year 2017-18 (Jan0- Nov 2017)
Achievement (Jan-Nov 2017)
Cumulative Achievement as on 30.11.2017
I. GRID-INTERACTIVE POWER (CAPACITIES IN MWp)
Small Hydro Power
Bio Power (Biomass & Gasification and Bagasse Cogeneration)#
Farraka Dam Siltation ProblemArial survey of Ganga river done Arial survey of Ganga river form Buxar to Farraka has been done by Central Govt team led by Arun Kumar Sinha of Ganga Flood Control Commission. NN Roy, director, National Water Commission, Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP, Indu Bhusan Kumar, technical consultant, state water resources department and K Murlidhar Singh, chief engineer, water resources department, Gopalganj, were accompanying Sinha were other members of the team. https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/bihar/ganga-silt-worries-experts-196735 (The Telegraph, 28 December 2017)
Sardar Sarovar DamSSNNL begins work to change structure of Narmada canal The flow of water in the 458-km-long canal will remain affected over the next nine days as engineers will construct bypass canals at four downstream locations. PROMPTED BY the devastating floods in July this year, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) on Dec 27, 2017 started work to effect changes in the structure of Narmada main canal in Patan and Banaskantha districts.
– The flow of water in the 458-km-long canal will remain affected over the next nine days as engineers will construct bypass canals at four downstream locations. The bypass canals will divert flow of water from NMC to allow changes in its structures at Kasra village of Patna taluka in Patan district, Khariya and Ranakpur villages in Kankrej taluka of Banaskantha district and Runi village in Dhanera taluka of Banaskantha. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/ssnnl-begins-work-to-change-structure-of-narmada-canal/ (The Indian Express, 28 December 2017)
MaharashtraDam projects cost rose by Rs 40,000 cr: NCP The NCP on Dec 28 asked DM Devendra Fadnavis to clarify on whether or not the cost escalation in 307 irrigation projects since he took over in October 2014 amounted to graft.
“In the last three years, 307 projects were given revised administrative approval worth Rs 40,000 crore,” Malik, former minister, claimed.
– For central irrigation projects worth Rs 20,000 crore under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme, the state was to bear 40 per cent and Centre 60 per cent of the total cost, he said.
In another interesting move Congress party has decided to launch the Polavaram ‘maha padayatra’ on January 7 from Dowleswaram barrage and it will be inaugurated by Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy. Addressing the media here on Saturday, APCC president N. Raghuveera Reddy said the three-day padayatra would conclude on January 10 at the Polavaram dam site, where a “mass satyagraha” would be staged. Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge would address a public meeting on that day. Farmers from all the 13 districts of the State would participate, he said.” http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/congress-to-launch-polavaram-maha-padayatra-on-january-7/article22335994.ece (The Hindu, 30 December 2017)
About Polavaram Coffer dam controversy: “Experts of the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) have come up with a “via media” solution to the Polavaram cofferdam problem raised by the Union Ministry of Water Resources. The experts, in a report to the Central government, have suggested that water could be diverted into the canals by building the main earth-cum-rock filled (ECRF) dam halfway into the Godavari and then constructing a temporary dam to bridge the gap. The ECRF dam could be completed in the subsequent season.”
Andhra Pradesh Prakasham dam turns 60, some interesting facts The barrage has been built at a point where River Krishna passes through a narrow gorge and enters the plains of the Coramandel Coast. It replaced an anicut built by the British in 1852 a little downstream. The anicut was designed by none other than Sir Arthur Cotton and built by a naval engineer Capitain Charles Orr for the irrigation of just 5.80 lakh acres in the districts of West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam. The anicut, built by Captain Orr, breached exactly 100 years after its construction. The present barrage was constructed between 1954 and 1957 at a cost of ₹2.278 crore. It was named after the first CM of the state Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu who laid the foundation stone. The ayacut of the barrage which is 12 feet higher than the anicut, is 13.08 lakh acres. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/prakasam-barrage-anniversary-fete-today/article22321335.ece (The Hindu, 29 December 2017)
MoWR PIB ReleaseIneter Linking Of Rivers The National Perspective Plan (NPP) was prepared by the then Ministry of Irrigation in August 1980. Under the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has identified 30 links (16 under Peninsular Component & 14 under Himalayan Component) for preparation of Feasibility Reports. The Pre-Feasibility Report of the all 30 links have been prepared and circulated to the concerned State Governments by the NWDA. After survey and investigations, Feasibility Reports of 14 links under Peninsular Component and Feasibility Reports of 2 links and draft Feasibility Reports of 7 links (Indian portion) under Himalayan Component have been completed. http://pib.nic.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1514461 (PIB, 28 December 2017)
Marathi Yuva Manch, a youth organisation affiliated to the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, has urged the Maharashtra government not to agree to sharing Mahadayi waters between Goa and Karnataka till the Karnataka-Maharashtra border row is decided in the Supreme Court.
This, they reason is because the river is born in Khanapur taluk, that is part of the region that MES wants to be merged with Maharashtra. In a letter to CM Devendra Fadnavis, the youth organisation leaders have said that the issue was not just related to Goa but Maharashtra too as the river flows through its border.
Dredging in Brahmaputra & Barak National Waterway-2 (NW-2), Brahamputra river, from Dhubri to Sadiya (891 km) in Assam, is an operational waterway for shipping and navigation. Inland Wateways Authority of India (IWAI) undertakes regular maintenance dredging annually on NW-2 for maintaining the navigable channel of 2.5 m depth between Dhubri and Neamati; 2.0 m depth between Neamati & Dibrugarh and 1.5 m depth between Dibrugarh and Oriumghat.
The details of the funds allocated and utilized for development of fairway in NW-2 and NW-16 during 2016-17 and 2017-18 are given below:
On Dec. 28, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadakari has flagged off the first movement of cement cargo through NW 2 on River Brahmaputra. He has also laid the foundation stone for bank protection work of Majuli Island. Kindly explore the link to know more about various activities done by Govt regarding development of NW in North East. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=174913 (PIB, 28 December 2017)
Tamil Nadu$318 million WB loan for irrigation projects A tripartite agreement has been signed between the central government, the World Bank and the Tamil Nadu government, an official statement said. “About 500,000 farmers, of which a majority are small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved and modernised tank irrigation systems,” it said.
Under the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation Project, about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams across 66 sub-basins will be rehabilitated and modernised to deliver bulk water to irrigation systems in the state. Tamil Nadu is a water stressed state that continues to experience water shortages which are expected to exacerbate in future, said Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. Under the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation Project, about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams across 66 sub-basins will be rehabilitated and modernised. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/world-bank-to-provide-318-million-loan-to-tamil-nadu-for-irrigation-projects-4999777/ (The Indian Express 26 December 2017)
Indeed, as this report quotes SANDRP, Indian authorities, including the centre (CWC and others) and states of Assam & Arunachal Pradesh have failed to show necessary urgency and alertness to assess the situation arising out of landslide dams on Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet, already muddying the Siang and Brahmaputra waters for over a month now. http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=dec3117/at060 (Assam Tribune, 30 December 2017)
The latest report, mentions some additional information about the Siang landslides: “The area of the prime mountain slide zone is measured to be approximately 78 sq km as extracted from the satellite imagery. This slide zone is relatively close to eastern Tibet major tourist city of Nyingchi at a distance of 139 km downstream.” “From an inspection of multi-date satellite images of the affected zone, it could be inferred that the landslide process resulting in debris dam growth is yet to reach its final equilibrium stable state. This is a worrisome occurrence, especially pertaining to potential debris dam breach flood in coming days or months with serious portents for downstream habitation areas in eastern Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam”, he said adding that the major mountain slide zone extends over a river length of about 33 km which is located about 47 km away from the commencement of Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon. http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/010118/artificial-lakes-in-mystical-beyul-pemako-still-growing.html (The Asian Age, 01 January 2017)
Satluj River PollutionNGT orders closure of 19 tanneries in JalandharNGT has ordered closure of 19 tanneries for discharging pollutants including heavy metals into drains in Punjab’s Jalandhar district which was resulting in serious environmental hazards. A bench headed by former chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar constituted a high powered committee to inspect 61 industries and directed it to prepare a complete and comprehensive report on tanneries. The committee would submit report on source of water of these tanneries, consumption of water, whether any flow metres to the conveyor belts have been fixed and if they have permission from Central Ground Water Authority. http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/ngt-orders-closure-of-19-tanneries-in-jalandhar/story-NQgaARzr682I4O1QkuPmnL.html (The Hindustan Times, 29 December 2017)
BRAHMAPUTRAInauguration of projects to restore Majuli Majuli Island has been under severe threat of bank erosion by the flow of river Brahmaputra since formation of the Island and particularly after the Assam earthquake of August 15, 1950.
To address the issues of erosion in vulnerable reaches and reclaim more land by pro-siltation and other measures in the east-west reach length of about 80 km on south bank, a DPR was formulated for “Protection of Majuli Island from flood and erosion of river Brahmaputra” as per the recommendations of the Standing Committee of Experts for Majuli Island and Technical Advisory Committee of Brahmaputra Board (TAC- BB). An SFC of Rs. 233.57 core for the above work has been approved by Government of India. Out of Rs. 233.57 crore, the Ministry of DoNER will fund an amount of Rs. 207.00 crore under NLCPR mode.
The average elevation of the Island is 87 m (at Bessamara) above mean sea level as against the High Flood Level of 88.32 m. The present area of Main Island is about 524 sq-km with a population of 1.68 lakh as per 2011 Census. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=174833 (PIB, 28 December 2017)
On Dec, 29 Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone for a new scheme for protection of Majuli Island in Assam from flood and erosion of river Brahmaputra, at an estimated cost of Rs. 233.57 crore.
As per report, reclamation of land started and area of Majuli Island increased from 502.21 sq km in 2004 to 524.29 sq km in 2016 with net gain of 22.08 sq km as per study on satellite imageries. Thus, not only overall erosion of the Island is arrested, but the trend has been reversed favourably. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=174947 (PIB, 28 December 2017)
Majuli Island is surrounded by the mighty Brahmaputra River on the south, Kherkatia Suti, Luit Suti and Subansiri Rivers on the North and is susceptible to both floods and erosion almost every year. On the request of Government of Assam, Union Water Resources Ministry entrusted the Brahmaputra Board the task of ‘Protection of Majuli Island from Flood and Erosion’ in 2003. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=174996 (PIB 29 December 2017)
Another report says that NMCG has neither finalised an action plan after six-and-a-half years of signing an agreement with a consortium of IITs nor is there a river basin management plan. National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), set up in 2009, was dissolved only last year—it was replaced by the National Ganga Council that more or less has the same remit as NGRBA. http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/how-government-lethargy-is-muddying-ganga-clean-up/995222/ (The Financial Express, 30 December 2017)
Meanwhile, with winter at its peak, the Chhaya Rann, a wetland in Porbandar is still waiting for the lesser flamingos, its annual visitors. While local birdwatchers are intrigued by the delay in arrival, forest officials expect the birds to arrive in some weeks. The lesser flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) have been categorised as near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). After Little Rann of Kutch, Great Rann of Kutch and Nal Sarovar (in Ahmedabad district), Chhaya Rann is believed to be fourth largest roosting place of lesser flamingos. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-birdwatchers-officials-puzzled-as-lesser-flamingos-delay-arrival-5005688/ (The Indian Express, 31 December 2017)
HaryanaWater table dipping very fastStatement of PWD minister Rao Narbir Singh: The state is facing a water supply deficit of 20.73 million acres feet (MAF) and the water table was “depleting very fast” because of a rise in number of tubewells. The minister said Haryana required nearly 33 MAF of water per year, of which 11.28 MAF was being sourced from below the ground. 64 of the 117 blocks in the state have been exploiting ground water and number of tube-wells has gone up to 9 lakh from 25,000 a few years ago. The water table in the state had depleted from 7 metres in 1980 to 17-18 metres in 2017. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/water-table-dipping-very-fast-minister/articleshow/62311743.cms (The Times of India, 31 December 2017)
NationalContaminated water kills 1 every 4 hoursReports submitted by various state health departments show that from January 1 to September-end this year, 1,412 deaths were attributed to diseases caused by contaminated water against the total number of cases of water-borne diseases was 1.08 crore. Between January 2014 and September 2017, a total of 8,324 lives were lost to water-borne diseases.
The water purifier market in the country is slated to touch $4.1 billion by the end of 2024, yet at least one person dies every four hours due to contaminated water.
MNREYear End Review 2017Highlights: Government is on its way to achieving 175 GW target for installed Renewable Energy capacity by 2022. India attains global 4th and 6th position in global Wind and Solar Power installed capacity. By November 2017, a total of 62 GW Renewable Power installed, of which 27 GW installed since May 2014 and 11.79 GW since January 2017. Historic Low Tariffs for Solar (Rs. 2.44/ unit) and Wind (Rs. 2.64/ unit) achieved through transparent bidding and facilitation. Ambitious Bidding Trajectory for 100 GW capacity of Solar Energy and 60 GW capacity of Wind over the next 3 years laid down. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=174832 (PIB, December 2017)
As per Govt, the present installed capacity of power generation from the Municipal Solid Waste is 65.75 MW which is about 0.02% of total power generation capacity in the country. See, the state-wise details of six Municipal Solid Waste to Energy plants set up, as on 15.12.2017. http://pib.nic.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1514461 (PIB, December 2017)
PakistanActivists want Indus River declared human with all fundamental rights Speakers at the ‘Dialogue on restoration of Indus delta’ organised by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) at Sindhi Language Authority a seminar called for protection of ecology and livelihood resources in Indus delta and stressed the need for launching a social movement to pressurise the government to declare the Indus as a human being with all fundamental human rights and protect her health.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Indus Waters Commissioner Mirza Asif Baig while responding to a question of the media after the three-day 74th Annual Session of Pakistan Engineering Congress does not blame India of stealing its water rather the conflict between the two neighbouring countries is on the issue of water flow in the river systemhttp://nation.com.pk/28-Dec-2017/pakistan-doesn-t-blame-india-for-water-theft (The Nation, 28 December 2017)
MIDDLE EAST ASIA
Egypt and Ethiopia clash over huge River Nile dam Cairo fears that an Ethiopian plan to build a huge hydropower dam on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the water reaching Egypt, will reduce its access to water. In recent weeks, tensions have risen between Cairo and Addis Ababa. In November, talks between the three countries on how best to manage the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) — a $4.8bn hydropower project that will be the largest in Africa and a linchpin of Ethiopia’s plans for economic development — broke down. Egypt’s immediate concern is how long Ethiopia will take to fill the reservoir. https://www.ft.com/content/58f66390-dfda-11e7-a8a4-0a1e63a52f9c (The Financial Times, 26 December 2017)
StudyRapid decline in Tonle Sap raises alarms The damage done to fish migration to and from the Tonle Sap by upstream dams in China and Laos has already been widely reported. But the damage to the Tonle Sap caused by a decline in sediment flows which have been disrupted by the dams has been less well studied.
According the SEI report, factors leading to “a drastic reduction in sediment loads” in the Mekong include hydroelectric dams, riverbed mining for sand, land-use changes, and climate change. Among these factors, the report says, the most important are the dams’ reservoirs and riverbed mining. http://www.rfa.org/english/commentaries/tonlesap-12272017145028.html (Radio Free Asia 27 December 2017)
VietnamClimate change impacts worsen in Mekong Delta Scholars attribute reoccurring flood, landslides and drought issues in Mekong Delta to global climate change, rough interventions in the Mekong River’s course made by countries along the river, and low environmental awareness of the public. As per them, 2016 was worst drought in a century that hit the delta last year. In 2017, the region went through its annual flooding season, finding almost no resources coming from the upstream areas. Upstream dams have led to a reduction of alluvium, thus causing landslides. https://en.vietnamplus.vn/climate-change-impacts-worsen-in-mekong-delta/124093.vnp (The Vietnam, 29 December 2017)
Indonesia is the second biggest plastic polluter in the world after China. The river of Citarum in West Java has been described as the most polluted river in the world with detritus dumped in it by nearby factories.
International RiversThe Zambezi River, Drained Bone DryA good overview of issues facing Zambezi Basin, there are so many parallels. When a river is regulated for the purpose of producing hydroelectric power, the downstream ecological effects are usually severe. Occasionally, regulation results in the extinction of species. The Zambezi delta is particularly at risk. Currently, 13,000 Mw of new large-dam hydropower is proposed for the Zambezi and its tributaries. https://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/1104/the-zambezi-river-drained-bone-dry (International Rivers, 01 December 2017)
KenyaWork on Kirinyaga mega dam yet to start weeks after launch Kirinyaga residents have raised concern over the delay in starting work on the Sh20 billion Mwea Thiba Dam four weeks after it was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The construction of dam was launched at a colourful ceremony attended by high-ranking national and county officials.
– Gandhi responded with what seemed an overwhelming gesture with the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, which banned hunting of every being from mammals to birds and reptiles. Fish were not included, since the fishing industry constituted a valuable vote bank. Insects were not included because no one thought that small in those days.
– 45 years later, the benefit or even the reasoning behind the act is not clear.
– If our MoEFCC has been tasked with “restoring the ecological balance” vide the National Forest Policy, 1988, what have they done towards this non-existent goal during the past 30 years?
– Natural history, which is the field of naturalists, depends on reliable reference collections. Our national reference collections are pitiable, with only the bird collection of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) approaching anything on the lines of what should have been in place for all groups of animals. For everything else, we have to approach international institutions that possess collections of Indian material. This is why we have less than a handful of Indian authorities in any field related to nature.
– What, you might ask, does the Wildlife (Protection) Act have to do with this? In one telling example, a scholar pursuing her doctorate wanted to survey the butterflies of a protected area in Gujarat. The chief wildlife warden’s office replied to her request, asking her, among other things, to furnish a list of species she wished to survey (as required under the law)! Such are the provisions of our Act. The Act provides for the burial or incineration of wildlife trophies, at a time when our museums are practically empty. Our public has no access to reference collections of insects, birds or mammals (we do not have a complete collection of mammals at any Indian institution). We have one taxidermist left in Mysore!
CentreGetting forest clearance is not a problem now: NHPC ChairmanIn an interview, taking a dig at its private peers, NHPC chairman KM Singh said that NHPC is the only company in the county that has the capability to execute hydro projects. He also said that in the NDA regime green clearances come easy, while local agitation by NGOs is the biggest threat. He further stated that there has been no negative impact of building a dam, not just in India, but anywhere in the world.
Hydro power projects impact riverine fisheriesThe bleak future of fisheries is reflected in the “Vision and Perspective Plan” released by the Department of Fisheries earlier this week. The department is keeping its fingers crossed to even maintain the production of 5,393 tonnes in 2014-15 as it feels that with the commissioning of 294 hydro power projects in the recent years, the downward trend will be difficult to arrest.
It says that the expansion of the hydro power sector has resulted in the shrinking of rivers and streams and high silt levels. Rampant sand mining and indiscriminate use of pesticides have further aggravated the problem.
The fish production from the rivers and streams is falling drastically each year and the multi-pronged environmental assault is proving to be too damaging for the fisheries promotion. The state has some precious mahseer reserves. Though the power policy stipulates a minimum discharge of 15% ecological flow of rivers, the failure of the regulatory authority to check this has converted riverbeds into sandy deserts. That’s how the department perceives the threat from hydro power generation. As a further blow to the riverine fisheries, under the revised hydro-power policy, there is no requirement for micro hydel project developers to prepare environmental and social impact reports.
The vision document reflects that the coming up of hundreds of micro-hydel projects has drastically affected the streams environmental flow in Kangra, Kullu and Chamba. The picture is so grim that the project commissioned on the Sujan Nullah is virtually threatening the hatchery of the prestigious Indo-Norwegian trout project which is the lifeline of the entire trout farming programme of the state.Perceived as one of the major threats, the commissioning of 92 power projects, in the last few years has altered the river hydrology and blocked migratory routes exterminating spawning and feeding grounds of fish.Adding to the already bad situation is the array of pesticides and insecticides being used by farmers and fruit growers.
Kerala 4 decades on, Siruvani dam displaced tribals wait for justiceDuring 1970s, of Muthikulam triblas of Siruvani hills in Kerala were forced to relocate themselves to Chingampara forests area. This was how a settlement constituted 24 Muduga tribes families facilitated the construction of the Siruvani dam, a major source of drinking water for Coimbatore city and its surrounding areas in Tamil Nadu. Four decades later, the Muduga tribe has volumes to talk about the breach of official promises. Their houses are in ruins and the tribal people have to walk about 3km to fetch water from the reservoir as the decades-old water supply mechanism stopped functioning years ago. Most of the children in the Chingampara colony do not attend school as the nearest school is about 20 km away. The old school at Muthikulam got submerged in the dam waters. Now the colony has only an Anganwadi. Rajan, a differently-abled member of colony reported that the new reservoir came up in the area from where our families had been forced to move out. The dam was commissioned in 1984, but our settlement remains neglected. The tribals are still awaiting justice even after four decades. Except for the once-in-a-week visit of a junior public health nurse, there is no health care facility for the people. Biju another affected stated that in 1971 we were promised pucca housing with water and power connections and toilets, besides compensation of Rs.10,000 but nothing happened. He felt that their rehabilitation was a mockery and they deserve a decent rehabilitation as compensation.
Unprecedented water crisis in Delhi due to Jat stirTerming the water crisis in the national capital as “unprecedented”, Delhi minister Kapil Mishra has warned that the situation might worsen in the next few days if the supply from Haryana is not immediately restored. He said the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) had almost run out of water and advised people to use water judiciously. Delhi gets its bulk of water supply from Haryana and the stir has affected 65% of water supplyin Delhi has been cut with the shutting down of seven water treatment plants— Wazirabad, Chandrawal, Dwarka, Okhla, Haiderpur, Nangloi and Bawana which provide around 500 million gallons per day (MGD). In all Delhi has nine water treatment plants which together produce 820 MGD of potable water. Of these, only two Sonia Vihar and Bhagirathi fed by water from Uttar Pradesh are operational. The current production is only 240 MGD. Among theareas affectedwere Dwarka, Janakpuri, Munirka, Palam, Rajouri Garden, Punjabi Bagh, Vasant Kunj, Saket, Green Park and Lodhi Colony, where residents complained of little or no water. In another news report DJB is reportedto have made 140 water filling points functional to feed tankers which would be sent across the city, reeling under an unprecedented water crisis. Water Minister Kapil Mishra reviewed the contingency plan for water management in West, North, North-west, Outer and Central Delhi and said tankers will deliver water at 663 points to partially meet the shortage of 480 MGD. These points will keep rotating. Plan is to cover around 2,000 points by Monday evening. The DJB supplies around 900 MGD of water daily out of which around 600 MGD of raw water come from Munak Canal. Even if Haryana releases water immediately, it will take at least 24 hours to restore the supply. Meanwhile Supreme Court on 22 Feb.16 scolded Delhi government. for approaching the court instead of resolving the water crisis with Haryana. The Kejriwal government had approached the top court on in view of the severe water crisis in the national capital after Jat protesters blocked water supply through Munak canal in Sonipat. During the hearing on government’s plea, the court took strong objection to Water Minister Kapil Mishra’s presence inside the courtroom. On the other hand, the minister accuses Haryana & Central Government for providing no official information on the crisis He said the Delhi government was “repeatedly trying to communicate” with the two governments to find out when will the supply resume, but without much success. Also see Jat quota stir: Water supply cut, Delhi may go dry
86 Villages rise in protest against dam on Ghaggar A dam is proposed to be constructed on the Ghaggar, near Banur, at a cost of Rs 75 crore. An agreement was signed between representatives of various villages located downstream and the Irrigation Department in 2006 promising 200 cusecsto irrigate fields in thesevillages. Villagers now fear that they will not get the promised 200 cusecs after the construction of the dam. Their claim is that the water flow in the river is much lower than 400 cusecs, as claimed by the irrigation department. The department, on the other hand, sticks to its stand that the water flow in the river is sufficient enough to feed the canal and the villages downstream. However, a perusal of the monthly average discharge data of the river for the past 10 years, defies the department’s claim. It revealed that the average yearly discharge barely crossed 400-cusec mark over the past 10 years, excluding the peak period (July to September). Interestingly NABARD and the State Irrigation department had separately conducted studies of the project well before giving it a green signal.