DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 18 Oct 2021: IRW 2021 to start on Nov 8 with theme on Riverine Fisheries

IRW (India Rivers Week) is excited to announce details of annual event for 2021. The unique annual event, the only one with focus on India’s Rivers continues as a virtual dialogue this year, with the theme: “Healthy Rivers, Fish and Fishers”. It will include series of five webinars, with theme as given in the poster above.

To join, please register at: http://indiariversforum.org/IRW2021

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 11 Oct 2021: Are we being forced towards nature based solutions?

Four interesting developments in this week seems to suggest that mankind is being pushed closer to nature based solutions to society’s needs. In Brussels in Belgium (Europe), the local government has started to uncover the Senne river that now is hidden under the pavements with the declared objective to “return nature to the city” and the river becoming an ecological corridor in the city.

In USA, the Army Corps of Engineers, more known as Dam builders, have over the last five years, moved towards nature based flood control by creating wetlands. In the 2020 Water Resources Development Act, US Congress directed the Corps to consider nature-based systems on equal footing with more traditional infrastructure. Its possibly a baby step, but a very significant one for a traditional dam building organisation that has stopped building dams and have been working towards decommissioning dams.

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Dams

Rivers that crossed Highest Flood Level in Monsoon 2021

(Feature image River Betwa in flood spate on Aug. 4, 2021. Source: Sharad Chandra, Director, CWC)

While India has received 874.6 mm rainfall which falls in normal[i] category in just concluded south west monsoon season, there have been at least 27 incidents of rivers crossing the Highest Flood Levels (HFLs) ever recorded in the past and attaining new HFLs in 5 river basins (some composite basins) in India, as recorded by the Central Water Commission (CWC) Flood Forecasting site[ii] during the monsoon.

The maximum 12 such instances have taken place in Ganga basin followed by 6 in west flowing rivers Tapi to Tadri basin, 5 in Godavari, 2 in West Flowing rivers Tadri to Kanyakumari basin and 1 each in Subernarekha and Tapi basin.

For past three years, SANDRP has been tracking the HFL breach incidents during monsoon season. The analysis of such HFL breaches in 2018[iii], 2019[iv] and 2020[v] can be seen on our website.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 4 Oct 2021: Congratulations to LIFE for much deserved Right Livelihood Award 2021

This week brings a heartening development: Legal Initiative for Forests and Environment (LIFE), headed by lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, are recipients of the Right Livelihood Award 2021, also known as Alternative Nobel Prize for their amazing work on empowerment of the communities through environment defense. This is much deserved recognition for the exemplary work of this group for over 16 years not only through the legal cases in National Green Tribunal (& its predecessor NEAA etc.), High Courts and Supreme Court, but also influencing the government policy and project decisions and also effective training of government officials in environmental matters.

LIFE is one of four organisation to get this award this year. The Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation, which awards the prize, said that in the face of the worsening climate crisis, powerful governmental and corporate interests, and even a terrorist threat, the 2021 Laureates prove that solidarity is key to a better future for all. The 2021 Right Livelihood Laureates are leaders in advancing the rights of women and girls, environmental protection and reclaiming Indigenous rights through mobilising communities and empowering grassroots initiatives. “Hailing from Cameroon, Russia, Canada and India, this year’s change-makers show that lasting change is built on communities banding together,” it said.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 27 Sep 2021: TN HC: Protest against environment violations fundamental duty

(Feature image: Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the killings of 13 protesters in Tuticorin. Photograph: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty, Source The Guardian report. )

In a remarkable refreshing order, the Madurai bench of Tamil Nadu High Court has held that protest against environmental violations like that of Sterlite factory is a fundamental duty of citizens. The Madurai bench has reasoned that the duties of the state in protecting the environment are basically the rights of the people. The bench relied on Article 51-A (g) of Part IV-A (Fundamental Duties), which deals with the duty to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. A liberal interpretation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the constitution enabled the bench to hold that right to environment, free of danger of disease and infection is inherent in it.

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Ganga · Hydropower · Uttarakhand

Open Letter to PM on Uttarakhand Hydro in Sept 2021

Open Letter to the Prime Minister, Minister of Environment and media on 09/09/2021:
Restarting seven under-construction hydro projects in Ganga Himalaya unjustified

Recently the MoEF&CC has recommended restarting the construction of seven under-construction HEPs  in Uttarakhand namely Tehri II (1000 MW), Tapovan Vishnugad (520 MW), Vishnugad Pipalkoti (444 MW), Singoli Bhatwari (99 MW), Phata Byung (76 MW), Madhmaheshwar (15 MW), and Kaliganga II  (4.5 MW). The news came as a shock to citizens, devotees and environmentalists who have been struggling  since over a decade to preserve our national river Ganga and the Himalaya. The deeply felt concern over  the fate of these two pivotal ecological systems and defining symbols of Indian culture, compel us to write  this letter. Not the least, as a citizen, it is also our constitutional duty ‘to protect and improve India’s natural  environment’.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 20 Sep 2021: Policy needed for Urban Rivers, not Riverfronts

There is no doubt that India urgently needs a guidance note and policy for Environment Sensitive, Climate Adaptive and Socially inclusive Urban Rivers Planning and Development. But this is required for the Urban Rivers and not just Urban Riverfront. The NMCG attempt like that of Sabarmati and numerous other river fronts unfortunately are not bothered about rivers, they are only interested in grabbing land from the Urban Rivers and convert the rivers into concrete channels on two and in some cases three sides (include the sides and the bed of the rivers). That is clearly death knell for the rivers. There is no doubt that there is need connect the people with the rivers, not just river fronts. The NMCG and other government bodies know the difference, so it is not out of ignorance that they have come out with the guidance note for river fronts rather than one for rivers. Unless people, civil society, experts and judiciary raise these issues, the future of Urban rivers seem bleak in India, as can be seen from the stories of Urban rivers compiled here from this week. 

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 6 Sep 2021: DISASTERS GOING UP in Himalayas, across India & Globally

(Feature image: Rani Pokhri bridge on the Dehradun Rishikesh highway collapsed near Dehradun, August 27, PTI https://www.thequint.com/news/india/uttarakhand-rains-bridge-on-dehradun-rishikesh-highway-collapses-no-casualties#read-more)

Data published this week (see below) shows that disasters are going up almost five fold in the Himalayas (data from Uttarakhand, HP below, but this is not different in rest of Himalayas), nationally and even globally. The data from UN report this week shows that the disasters are up five fold in recent years. Damage is up even more. As the data of landslides due to Char Dham High way and hydropower projects show, the contribution from these projects to the disaster is clear. So much so that even the editorial in The Hindustan Times this week asked to stop these disastrous projects. While it is unlikely that the governments or politicians would wake up to this reality anytime soon, one expects the judiciary, media, civil society and academics to take up this issue on urgent basis.

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Floods · Ganga

The Everydayness of Flood: Experiences from Bhagalpur-Bihar

Guest Blog by Dr. Ruchi Shree (TMBU, Bhagalpur-Bihar)

On the banks of river Ganga in north India, Bhagalpur is a district of South-east Bihar. This district is famous for production of silk and thus Bhagalpur is also called ‘silk city’. Due to its proximity to Ganga, it is a flood prone region of Bihar and the usual trend of flood is in alternate year with varying intensity. The wider impact of flood ranges from agricultural loss to disturbances in transportation (water on railway track to vanished roads and bridges) and health hazards to environmental impacts to name a few[i]. This essay has three objectives: first, to narrate the challenges and lessons from my first close encounter of flood, specifically Bhagalpur floods, second, to probe into major reasons of flood and third, to depict the post-flood scenario. To have seen myself in three roles namely flood observer, flood victim and flood survivor is what made me sense the everydayness of flood.  

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 30 Aug. 2021: Why no protection for aquatic biodiversity?

(Feature image Wildlife Along Indian Rivers by Green Humour:- http://www.greenhumour.com/2017/09/wildlife-along-indian-rivers.html)

Aquatic freshwater biodiversity has seen the maximum decline over the years and yet has the least protection under law. In fact fish is not even considered for protection under the Wildlife Protection Act. Fishing cat, Mahseer, Otters, Trout fish, Hilsa fish are all at top of the food chain in freshwater sources, like the tiger is in the forests, but none of them have the legal protection. If we have any serious intension of protecting this important source of biodiversity, we urgently need measures, including policy, legal and institutional measures to recognize and protect this biodiversity.

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