On occasion of International Day of Action for Rivers 14 March 2018, SANDRP presents a compilation of positive rivers stories that took place in the year 2017. The report highlights the exemplary rivers restoration work done by communities, village Panchayats. It also attempts to acknowledge remarkable on going protests and struggle by fisherfolks, villagers and river communities in rural areas to protect the lifelines from unsustainable development projects. The report also presents the interesting “River Marches” where citizens have come forward to take actions against the threats on rivers in Urban areas and encouraging “River Walks” helping citizens rediscover their bond with RIVERS. Continue reading “Positive Rivers Stories 2017: Citizens Reconnecting with Rivers”
After review of North India and Maharashtra Rivers, SANDRP presents the development surrounding rivers in rest of West Zone: Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states in 2017.
Dams, industrial pollution killing State Rivers In MoEF report, Gujarat ranks 4th among top 5 states with highly polluted rivers. Sabarmati is among Gujarat’s 20 most polluted rivers including Narmada and Mahi. Over Rs 200 cr has been spent to curb pollution in Sabarmati & Mindola rivers. This fund is the highest amount ever spent outside the Ganga river conservation project on which Uttar Pradesh has spent Rs 917.24 crore, West Bengal Rs 411.26 crore and Bihar Rs 216.46 crore. As per activist, Rohit Prajapati, industrial effluents are being released in big rivers like Sabarmati, Mahi and Narmada without being treated and big dams have been built on big rivers due to which the rivers are drying up and vanishing as a result, the condition of rivers in Gujarat is going from bad to worse. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/polluted-rivers-guj-ranks-4th/articleshow/62685910.cms (The Times of India, 29 Jan. 2017)
Great to see this focus on aquatic biodiversity (unfortunately the article keeps using the word marine biodiversity, not using the word aquatic or freshwater biodiversity even once) along the 120 km long Sindhudurg Coast line, one of the 11 ecologically sensitive habitats identified along India’s coasts.
The FIRST study of local Otter Population by Ela Foundation identified upto 591 Smooth coated otters (strangely article does not mention about existence of small clawed Otters in Sindhudurg), 561 Indo Pacific humpbacked dolphins, among many others. The coast is particularly river rich with some twelve creeks/ rivers including Shanti, Piyali, Naringre, Achra, Gad, Talavade, Otawane and Pithdhaval Rivers.
The biodiversity here is facing multiple threats including rapid urbanisation, tourism onslaught with attendant plastic and sewage disposal, unregulated fishing trawlers, illegal sand mining, and global warming. It also underlines the need to do assessment of any interventions done in the area, of impacts on the aquatic biodiversity. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/orphans-in-the-wild-what-the-otter-s-trying-to-tell-us-about-our-oceans/story-IfRFFi63Q8nV7UkUK4c16O.html (The Hindustan Times, 14 January 2018)
Apart from mentioning Govt failure in checking Ganga pollution, the Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) performance audit report on Ganga rejuvenation tabled in Parliament on December 19, 2017 specifically mentions that National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) “could not finalize the long-term action plans even after more than six-and-a-half years of signing of agreement with the consortium of Indian Institutes of Technology”. The fact that NMCG does not have a “river basin management plan even after a lapse of more than 8 years of National Ganga River Basin Authority notification”, mentioned in the report also has great significance.
It is surprising that NMCG is working without a river basin management plan or a long-term action plan. The CAG performance audit is also lacking. It rightly mentions that infrastructure to treat pollution has not been created but does no assessment whether the creation of infrastructure alone would revive the river.
Further, CAG audit does not look into the issues if lessons from past failures have been learnt, corrections done, independent scrutiny institutionalised, participatory governance achieved, and if this business as usual approach is going to achieve any better results even if all the money were spent, all the DPRs were sanctioned, all the meetings happened, all the manpower available and all the STPs constructed?
Hence it critical that CAG performance audit should have tried to address these issues. Can the state of Ganga improve without improving the state of tributaries? CAG does not even look at this issue.
The CAG report shows that this programme provides no real hope for better future of Ganga and Modi and his government will have a lot to answer when they go to polls in less than 1.5 years. It’s a serious indictment for the govt in general and Modi in particular since he has said right from the beginning that Ganga is their priority and all that they have tried is audited here. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/KW6MIOrOvMvZvEGeozwifJ/CAG-slams-Centre-for-failing-to-utilize-funds-for-Ganga-reju.html; http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ganga-pollution-hc-orders-uttarakhand-govt-to-seal-establishments-polluting-rivers-4991923/; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/building-of-ghats-crematoria-on-ganga-misses-nov-deadline/articleshow/62234114.cms https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/environment/pm-modi-fails-to-clean-up-his-mother-ganga
The minutes of expert appraisal committee (EAC) shows that Environmental Clearance (EC) for the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project has been deferred. The minutes were uploaded after 16 days of EAC meeting conducted on Oct 24, 2017. http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/09112017PCU6UH80Finalminutesof9thEACmeeting1.pdf
In the minutes, the EAC said that it would require to study the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Nepal portion of the project to get a holistic view. It also directed the project proponent to obtain wildlife clearance as the project was located 300 metres from the Ascot Wildlife Sanctuary.
It is worth to mention that the Pancheshwar dam with a height of 315 meters is world’s second tallest dam proposed in ecologically sensitive region. Scores of media reports have underlined the unfair and politically influenced Environment Public Hearing (EPH) process, conducted during peak monsoon month in landslide ridden and disaster prone region. The venue of the EPH was also several kms away from villages going to be affected thus depriving the local people participation in essential decision making process. As a result the concerns and voices of villagers to have their voices heard. The EIA report of the project has also not mentioned several grave environmental issues of GOLFs events, cloud bursts, earthquakes etc in the catchment of the dam let alone the question of impact on endangered wildlife like Mahseer fish.
In a remarkable development, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 24 has suspended the clearances given to the 1750-megawatt (MW) Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project (HEP) planned on the Lohit river in Arunachal Pradesh.
In its detailed order, released on October 27, the NGT ruled that the Environment Minister as Chairperson of the National Board for Wildlife (NWBL), a statutory body constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, could not “just brush aside” the views of the majority of NBWL standing committee members.
Suspending the clearances given by the Centre and the state govt, the NGT order added that “the decision taken by the Standing Committee is not in accordance with established principles of law and hence the Standing Committee shall reconsider the issue and pass appropriate orders within a period of six months from the date of the judgment”.
Environmental clearance for the project was given by the Union environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for river valley and hydroelectric projects back in 2009. An in-principle forest clearance for the Lower project was given in February 2012 and agreed upon in 2013.
However, the in-principle clearance of the project was opposed by a majority of the Standing Committee of the NBWL but subsequently cleared by the then-environment minister of state (independent charge), Jayanthi Natarajan, who was also the chairperson of the Standing Committee.
Natarajan is currently under the CBI’s scanner for alleged anomalies in clearance given for diversion of land in Saranda forest in Singhbhum district, Jharkhand to mining company Electrosteel during the previous UPA regime.
The NGT said that it is “of the view that either the Chairperson (Natarajan) should have given a proper reason for rejecting the objection of the majority of the non-official members or the decision ought to have been arrived at based on the opinion of the majority of the members. Even though the Standing Committee is a recommendatory body, the same being a statutory committee, is bound by the laudable principles of justice and fair play”.
Over 250 residents along with environmentalists, activists and members of civil societies formed a human chain at Elliot’s beach on Oct 28, asking State Govt to protect the wetlands, rivers, environment in Ennore creek area from willful destruction of govt agencies and industries. The human chain was joined by all the walk of society irrespective of age group from kids to senior citizens who were holding placards that explain the sorry state of Ennore Creek. http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/residents-chennai-form-human-chain-save-ennore-creek-70724
The Coastal Resource Centre and members of the Save Ennore campaign organized the human chain to raise awareness in the city ahead of the monsoons about the encroachments in Ennore Creek, a backwater located in Thiruvallur district. Residents from all 52 villages in Ennore, who have witnessed the ecology die a slow death, also joined the rally, hoping that the govt would react.
Industrial effluents from the thermal power stations here and domestic sewage from North Chennai have killed various fish species. More than 1000 acres of Kosasthalaiyar River’s backwaters have already been lost due to the deposition of fly ash by the Tangedco units. http://chennai.citizenmatters.in/chennai-human-chain-ennore-creek-encroachment-2862
As per the online petition, ten Lakh Chennai residents are at higher risk of disastrous flooding because Govt of Tamil Nadu has allowed Kamarajar Port to convert 1000 acres of Ennore wetlands into industrial real estate. Chennai has barely recovered from the 2015 floods. Don’t let Chennai get flooded again.
A recent IMD study has found that rain-bearing clouds have been thinning out across the country over the last 50 years. The study, published in the IMD journal Mausam, shows that between 1960 and 2010, annual mean low cloud cover (responsible for the bulk of the rainfall) over India has been decreasing by 0.45% per decade on an average.
According to the study, the number of rainy days is also declining during the monsoon season at an average rate of 0.23 days for every decade. This means that the country has lost approximately one rainy day over the last five decades. The study found that while the number of rainy days is decreasing, there is not much change in the total amount of rainfall. This shows a trend towards shorter, heavier bursts of rain.
That is bad news, because heavier raindrops can dislodge wheat and rice grains from their stalks while on the farm. It also means rainwater flows down a slope that much faster instead of percolating underground.
Meanwhile, a new NASA study has warned the amount of rainfall in the Earth’s tropical regions will significantly increase as the planet continues to warm. As per study rainfall is not related just to the clouds that are available to make rain but also to Earth’s “energy budget” — incoming energy from the Sun compared to outgoing heat energy. High-altitude tropical clouds trap heat in the atmosphere. If there are fewer of these clouds in the future, the tropical atmosphere will cool.
Above: Mahadayi River (Photo: oneindia)
Goa, twenty fifth state of the Indian Union, is small but picturesque state, famous all over the world as “The Tropical Paradise of Tourists”. Ensconced on the slopes of Western Ghats which skirts its eastern boundary and lapped by the blue expanse of the Arabian Sea in the West, Goa admeasures an area of about 3,702 sqkm. Situated between Karnataka and Maharashtra, Goa is bounded on the North by the Terekhol river, surrounded on the South and East by Karnataka while on the West is the Arabian sea. This state is divided into two districts, North and South, administered from Panaji, the capital city and Margao, respectively.
Eleven rivers are sustaining the Goan ecosystems. These rivers have sustained the earliest forms of human habitation. The discovery of rare Stone Age carvings on the banks of Kushavati and Zarme rivers stands testimony to this. From the period of Satvahanas, Chalukyas of Badami, Bhojas Kshatrapas and Abhiras, Traikutas of Konkan, Kalachuris, Mauryas of Konkan, Shilaharas, Kadambas…. the Goan rivers have encouraged development of civilization. However excessive load of anthropogenic activities such as mining, tourism etc. have been affecting these rivers from past few decades. While many of the big rivers are critically polluted, many small ones face threat of extinction. Urgent steps need to be taken to protect the rivers of this state which is more intimately linked with its rivers due to unique physiography. Continue reading “Goa River Profile”