DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 20 Jan 2020: India urgently needs national urban water policy

A large number of stories this week remind us that India urgently needs national urban water policy.

The water footprint of urban areas is gradually on the rise. The cities have several problems with management including destruction of water sources, groundwater exploitation, poor performance in treating and recycling the polluted water, pollution and encroachment on water bodies etc. To fulfil their growing demands new dams, barrages and check dams are being planned, proposed and built on the rivers in faraway places, which is in turn displacing and depriving the local people of equitable water share.

Even before onset of summer, the Army in Sagar district have started patrolling Chitora dam to prevent water thefts (denying farmers to take dam water for irrigation).

The BMC in Bombay is finalizing total cost of Gargai dam which has roughly increased to three thousands crore from eighteen hundred crore according to first estimates in 2012.  The city is already getting its water from half a dozen dams. In Thane, apex court has removed stay on Kalu dam construction citing that it is meant to meet growing drinking water demand of Thane.

Meanwhile the respective agencies of Pune and Pimpri- Chinchwad have failed to stop pollution in Mula Mutha, Nag, Pavana, Indrayani rivers.

Similarly, in the name of restoration, the Gujarat government is planning barrages on Tapi, Vishwamitri rivers to meet drinking water demands of Surat and Vadodara.

Meanwhile the cost of Yettinahole diversion project has gone up from eight to twenty thousands crore. This project is also being pushing for drinking water supply.

In Chennai one more check dam on Cooum river has been finalized. The city is also facing sea water intrusion.

The story of Vashitha river in Salem shows how dumping the solid and liquid waste, mining and check dam has turned the river into a drain from pristine water stream in last twenty years.

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Sand Mining

Punjab Sand Mining Overview 2019: Story of Political Patronage & Goonda Tax

Sand and gravels forming riverbed materials hold immense ecological value for living and healthy rivers systems. The inbuilt water filtration capacity and absorbing characteristic of the minor minerals plays critical functions in groundwater recharge and in ensuring lean season flow in the rivers. However for over two decades the brazen illegal and mechanized mining activities across the country have been irreversibly affecting the rivers and riverbank communities. The state of Punjab is among leading states where state government has failed[I] to ensure sustainable sand mining practices. The 2019 overview the state shows strong clout of political parties over the illegal sand mining operations without sharing a thought for the rivers and public.   

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 13 Jan. 2020: We need new river management

With the beginning of New Year, there have been several media reports highlighting the river revival works and floodplain protection efforts going on in different parts of country. While the community driven efforts with active support from administration and experts to revive Kasal Odha in Solapur and bring back Old Lakhandei river in Sithamarhi have been bearing fruits. The civil societies, judiciary and administration have also taken steps to protect the floodplains of Ramnadi, Indrayani, Hindon rivers.

The artificial pond efforts by NGT panel and Delhi government have also shown positive results in preventing the pollution from idol immersion pollution reaching the Yamuna river. Similarly the CPCB has raised the issue of Mahi river pollution by industries in Central Gujarat. The Karnataka High Court questioning the authority and fund collection mechanism by Isha Foundation for Cauvery Calling initiative is particularly significant. While revival of rivers is imperative task, the accountability and transparency cannot be set aside.

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Cloud Burst

Cloud Bursts in Himachal Pradesh in Monsoon 2019

Cloud burst incidents are emerging as a major threat for the Himalayan states. Of late, the extreme weather event have been causing large scale destruction in ecologically sensitive and remotely located vulnerable hilly areas. In 2018 between May 2 and July 20, the Uttarakhand state saw around 13 cloud bursts event which have increased to 23 in 2019 monsoon season resulting in wide scale damages.

This compilation for Himachal Pradesh state shows that the state is suffering even bigger destruction of infrastructure including roads, buildings, bridges and hydro projects due to increasing cloud burst events. At the same time the monitoring and mitigation efforts are totally insufficient and inadequate. 

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Cloud Burst

Uttarakhand Cloud Bursts in Monsoon 2019: No Doppler Radars Six Years Since 2013 Disaster

With the beginning of south west monsoon season 2019, many Himalayan states started witnessing exceptional rainfall events known as Cloud Bursts. The extreme weather event – like previous years- caused large scale destruction in ecologically sensitive and remotely located vulnerable hilly areas. This account compiles the available information about such incidents in Uttarakhand in 2019 SW monsoon.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 9 Dec 2019: CITIZENS REPORT ON WHAT AILS GANGA REJUVENATION

 The Hindustan Times editorial on Nov 27, 2019 has rightly said the following about “a recently-released Rejuvenating-Ganga River – A Citizen-Report, by the India Rivers Week, a consortium of seven NGOs”.

“A key reason for the failure of the river cleaning projects (Ganga and Yamuna action plans), says a recently-released citizen’s report, Rejuvenating Ganga,by the India Rivers Week, a consortium of seven NGOs, was their single-point focus on the main stem of the river, while the Ganga basin actually has eight major rivers (Yamuna, Son, Ramganga, Gomti, Ghaghra, Gandak, Kosi and Damodar). The majority of the funds were spent on pollution-abatement measures on the main stem of the Ganga and on the upper Yamuna basin, which constitute just 20% of the Ganga basin.”

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 2 Dec. 2019: SC says Municipal Commissioners to be prosecuted under WP Law

In a number of ways the Supreme Court order this week that the municipal commissioners and chief officers can be prosecuted for releasing untreated pollutants from the cities to the rivers and other water bodies is path breaking. Can it help fix accountability of release of such untreated sewage? Can it help ensure that cities stop doing this and cities not only have adequate sewage treatment facilities, but also that cities have to ensure that the STPs function to ensure that no untreated sewage ends up the rivers and other water bodies?

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Urban Water Sector

Chandigarh: Faidan Pind Drain Shows Ugly Side of ‘City Beautiful’

Union Territory of Chandigarh enjoys ‘City Beautiful’ tag for better planned urban development. Undoubtedly the city has wide roads, abundant green patches, well planned residential sectors, public amenities, cyclist tracks etc.; however dumping of solid waste and untreated sewage around its periphery shows that the city performs poorly in managing its water and natural sources.

The story of Faidan Nizampur also known as Faidan Pind drain near Airport is an apt example showing that while city manages to get beautiful tag, the rivulets and lives of people around it have turned miserable by increasing pollution load and other issues.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 18 Nov. 2019: River capacities are changing, but who is monitoring?

River carrying capacity is such a crucial factor in deciding if certain areas will be flooded and with what severity. This capacity is constantly changing, more so in tropical climate and high silt carrying rivers of South Asia, as new research shows. However, most models that are used in India, including by CWC, assume steady state situation. Nor are there constant and credible efforts to assess the river cross sections and river conveyance capacities and put them in public domain. The study shows how important it is that we wake up to this reality and ensure credible, consistent monitoring and assessments by credible independent agencies at the earliest. This has become even more urgent, the study underlines, since in changing climate, the rainfall patterns are changing fast. 

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CWC - Central Water Commission

2019 All India summary of CWC flood forecasting sites

This article provides and overview of flood forecasting work of Central Water Commission (CWC) in 2019 after looking closely at each site details for the five regions of India: North East[i], East[ii], North[iii], West[iv] and South[v] India.

The table below provides an overview of number of Level Forecasting, Level Monitoring and Inflow forecasting sites as per CWC’s FF website during 2019 floods for all the states and regions of India.

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