CAG Report · Rural Drinking Water

CAG on National Rural Water Pgm: Poor results from Rs 82000 Crores expenditure

This Performance Audit of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) of Government of India makes some shocking revelations. The program spent massive Rs 82000 crores during the five years from 2012 to 2017, but could achieve coverage of additional 5.5% rural habitations. However, even at the end of 2017, 82% of rural population and 83% of rural household did not have access to adequate water supply of 55 lpcd as targeted. At least 15% of the rural schools did not have access to clean drinking water. The Audit showed failure at each stage of the program from planning, implementation, fund management, monitoring and evaluation to grievance redressal. Continue reading “CAG on National Rural Water Pgm: Poor results from Rs 82000 Crores expenditure”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 28 January 2019: Climate Change Poses Multiple Threats to India: Does Our Governance Care?

This week multiple reports warned of how India is already facing climate change impacts, how the groundwater, India’s water lifeline could be under threat under climate change, how India’s monsoon, the other water lifeline of India is under threat.

In fact, we should be bracing up for the drought that the summer will bring, but as yet there is no signs of any preparedness or plans.

The Dam floods in Indonesia and the Brazil’s disaster due to breach of mine tailings dam should be additional warnings, but our Dam Safety Bill that is before the Parliament does not recognise either of them.

The World wetlands day 2019 later this week has slogan of: “We are not powerless against climate Change… stop draining wetlands”, connecting climate change and wetlands. But the news from Indian wetlands governance is scary.

The day before the World Wetlands Day the Vote on Accounts will be presented before the Parliament as full budget cannot be presented in light of forthcoming Parliament elections. But is there any hope that either the Budget or the elections will deal with the climate change or the environment issue with any sense of seriousness?

The iconic Ardh Kumbh event is going on, but the govt has paid no attention to the fast by Swami Atmabodhanand, even after the death of Prof GD Agarwal for the same cause of Ganga.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 28 January 2019: Climate Change Poses Multiple Threats to India: Does Our Governance Care?”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 21 January 2019: NGT Asks For Audit of Pollution Control Regulation, But Fails on EIA

Two interesting orders from National Green Tribunal (NGT) marked important developments on water-environment issues this week. NGT asking for PERFORMANCE AUDIT of pollution Control Mechanism is indeed long overdue necessity, considering the complete, abject failure of the pollution control mechanism in India. The hopes of effective action, like in the past, however, were dashed since CPCB, which is PART OF THE PROBLEM has been asked to do the audit. An independent audit, in addition to one possibly by CAG may have helped.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/ngt-slams-state-pollution-bodies/article26008687.ece (17 Jan. 2019)

Whatever positive signs were available by this order were further dashed by another NGT order in which it declared that EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessment) reports are already taking climate change into account, while the tribunal dismissed a petition asking that all development activities be screened/ regulated keeping climate change in mind.

This is totally WRONG contention. Just to illustrate, SANDRP has been pointing out to the EAC, MoEF and the developers how the EIAs of dams and hydropower projects are ignoring the climate change related issues and impacts. In response the consultants and developers have responded, approved by the silent or spoken nods by the EAC and MoEF that these were not even part of their TORs! One only wishes NGT was most discerning before making such claims and would have gone through a few EIAs to see if at all EIAs are dealing with these issues with any rigour or credibility. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/climate-change-already-covered-under-environment-impact-assessment-ngt-119011600897_1.html (16 Jan. 2019)

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 21 January 2019: NGT Asks For Audit of Pollution Control Regulation, But Fails on EIA”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 31 Dec. 2018: China Built Ecuador Dam, Best Advertisement For What Dam Building Can Do To River, Environment, Nation & Its Future

Best Advertisement of What Dam Building can do. Great Expose by NYT: “The dam sits under the glare of an active volcano, with columns of ash spewing toward the sky. Officials had warned against the dam for decades. Geologists said an earthquake could wipe it away. Now, only two years after opening, thousands of cracks are splintering the dam’s machinery. Its reservoir is clogged with silt, sand and trees.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 31 Dec. 2018: China Built Ecuador Dam, Best Advertisement For What Dam Building Can Do To River, Environment, Nation & Its Future”

Groundwater

Groundwater Governance: Why Dec 12, 2018 CGWA notification would be disastrous

On December 18, 2018, the principle of Bench of the National Green Tribunal, called the CGWA (Central Groundwater Authority) notification gazetted[i] on Dec 12, 2018 as against “national interest”.[ii] The trouble is can we even expect CGWA and their parent, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR for short) to get us out of the deep murky groundwater pit that we are in today?

NGT rightly asked, can just charging fees regulate groundwater? But it seems the MoWR cannot think in terms of a policy for groundwater, which is what the NGT had asked, not price tag list.

This policy blindness about India’s water lifeline is the biggest obstacle to achieving better groundwater governance. India’s water lifeline is groundwater, any discerning observer will agree, with two thirds of irrigated area, 85% of rural water needs, over half of urban and industrial water needs being served by groundwater and graph of % dependence on groundwater climbing up for each of these sub sectors. Our National Water Policy needs to acknowledge this reality, that whether we want it or not like it or not, groundwater is and is going to remain our water lifeline in foreseeable future.

Once that is acknowledged in the National Water Policy, then we will need to understand where does the groundwater come from. The natural recharge systems include the forests, the wetlands, the rivers, the flood plains, the local water bodies. We then need to protect these recharge systems and take measures to enhance recharge from these systems. Where necessary and scientifically feasible, we can add artificial recharge systems.

But most importantly, we would then start seriously thinking about groundwater regulation. The CGWA, set up under Environment Protection Act (1986) on Jan 14, 1997 following Supreme Court order of Dec 10, 1996, has proved itself to be completely worthless in this respect. After being in existence for close to 22 years, it cannot show a successful example of regulation anywhere in India in spite of having sweeping powers to achieve that. The revolving door that exists between CGWA and CGWB (Central Groundwater Board) has essentially made it to be a licensing body, and thus worsening the groundwater situation.

What has the CGWA been doing? In its own words: “issuing ‘No Objection Certificates’ for ground water extraction to industries or infrastructure projects or mining projects etc., and framed guidelines in this connection from time to time in twenty states and three Union territories, where ground water development is not being regulated by the State Government or Union territory administration concerned”. States/ Union Territories where CGA is not regulating groundwater currently: Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Telangana, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry. However, the new notification will have pan India applicability, says section 2.

The mindset of CGWA is on full display in the latest notification of Dec 12, 2018.

Some key aspects of the guidelines and critique:

  • The guidelines to come into force from June 1, 2019 (why should it not be immediately implemented?). Groundwater use for Individual households for drinking water use for supply line upto 1 inch diameter supply line (Section 2.2.1) does not require mandatory rainwater harvesting. Installation of digital water meter is not mandatory in this case.
  • Section 2.2.2, applicable to infrastructure projects/ industries/ mining/ public water supply agencies for drinking/ domestic water use upto 12.5 m3/day water. They do not mandatorily require use of recycled/ treated sewage for flushing/ green belt etc. Installation of piezometers not mandatory if extraction below 10 m3/day. Installation of Digital Water Level Recorders shall not be mandatory for projects requiring ground water upto 50 m3/day in safe and semi critical assessment units (no telemetry for water use upto 500 m3/day) and upto 20 m3/day in critical and overexploited assessment units (no telemetry for water use upto 200 m3/day). No condition for compulsory treatment and recycle of sewage.
  • Section 2.3.1 for water use for industries: industries abstracting ground water to the tune of 500 m3/day or more in safe and semi critical and 200 m3/day or more in critical and over-exploited assessment units do not require water audit. Those that require water audit, need to get it done through “CII/ FICCI/ NPC certified auditors”. How can that be credible? It says “industries except those falling in red and orange categories as per CPCB” to implement Rain water harvesting. Why should the red and orange category industries exempt from Rain water harvesting?
  • Major concession: “Existing industries, which have already obtained NOC and have implemented recharge measures as specified in the NOC, shall be exempted from paying WCF. However, if the industry is going for expansion, WCF will have to be paid for the additional quantum of ground water withdrawal as per applicable rates.”
  • Section 2.3.3 for Infrastructure projects: Wastewater treatment and recycle measures not mandatory.
  • Shockingly, no impact assessment, no public consultation, monitoring or compliance mechanism for any of the massive groundwater extraction proposals, in any of the above.
  • Why should monitoring records be retained only for upto two years?

Agriculture water use: “Concerned State Departments (Agriculture/ Irrigation/ Water Resources) shall be required to undertake suitable demand and supply side measures to ensure sustainability of ground water sources. An indicative list of demand side measures is given”. CGWA could have provided more detailed and effective measures, including community governed groundwater regulation. The list given does not even include water saving methods like System of Rice Intensification or such method for other crops.

In fact, community driven regulation could have been recommended for all the different user classes.

WCF = Water CON fees? The notification has no restrictions, no banned water use activities even in over exploited and critical areas, where essentially there is no groundwater available for exploitation. Everyone, including bottled water and cold drink manufacturers are allowed to extract as much as they want, even from over exploited areas, as long as they pay WCF! These are clearly not Water Conservation Fees, but Water CON Fees. “Other industries” have to pay just one fifth to one sixth the WCF compared to packaged drinking water units. The “other industries” clearly includes cold drink companies. Mining and infrastructure industries have to pay even lower, upto one third the WCF than “other industries”.

Other conditions include a strange one: “Sale of raw/ unprocessed/ untreated ground water for commercial use by agencies not having valid NOC from CGWA is not permitted.” This means that if you have valid NOC, you can sale the water to others!

The delegation of powers by the notification is clearly not confidence inspiring: “Central Ground Water Authority has appointed the District Magistrate/ District Collector / Sub Divisional Magistrates of each Revenue District and Regional Directors of CGWB through Public Notice as Authorized Officers, who have been delegated the power to monitor compliance, check violations and seal illegal wells, launch prosecution against offenders etc. including grievance redressal related to ground water.” These agencies have not succeeded in achieving regulation of groundwater, how that is going to change? What is required is a dedicated groundwater regulation mechanism at aquifer/ gram sabha/ block/ district level where at least 50% members are independent people from outside government.

We hope NGT keeps all this in mind when it gives detailed order on January 11, 2019, as promised on Dec 18, 2018.

Himanshu Thakkar (ht.sandrp@gmail.com), SANDRP

Note: An edited version of this was published in THE TRIBUNE on Dec 31, 2018: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/in-focus/deep-trouble-on-water-front/706239.html

END NOTES:

[i] http://cgwa-noc.gov.in/LandingPage/LatestUpdate/NotifiedGuidelines-2018.pdf

[ii] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ngt-raps-ministry-over-groundwater-notification/article25777703.ece

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 3 Dec. 2018: Ken Betwa Link; Push to Dilute Forest Clearance Conditions

Ken Betwa river interlinking project is back to drawing board with Union water resources ministry approaching the ministry of environment and forest to relax conditions imposed as part of forest clearance accorded in May 2017 for diversion of forest in the Panna Tiger reserve (PTR).

Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) while according Stage-I clearance to the project had recommended that the project proponent and state govt should consider equivalent non-forest area (6,017 ha) adjoining to PTR from the revenue and private land and add to the PTR as a part of core/corridor (for tiger movement) with other areas or satellite core area. According to water resources ministry, they are unable to find land adjoining to PTR.

Will the forest department buckle under pressure to dilute the forest clearance conditions?  http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2018/nov/25/first-river-linking-project-coming-undone-1902890.html  (25 Nov. 2018)

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 3 Dec. 2018: Ken Betwa Link; Push to Dilute Forest Clearance Conditions”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 26 Nov. 2018 (INDIA RIVERS WEEK 2018: BPS 2018 to Rainman Vishwanath; AMM 2018 to River Journalist Arun Tiwari)

At a well-attended function at India Rivers Week {IRW} 2018 at WWF-India in Delhi on Nov 25, 2018, the hall reverberated with resounding claps from the audience when suspense over who gets this years’ Bhagirath Prayas Samman (BPS) and Anupam Misra Medal (AMM) was broken. Vishwanath Srikantaiah, popular as Zen Rainman was the unanimous choice of the IRW Jury for the exemplary work on River conservation over the last 25 years.

The Anupam Misra Medal for path breaking media work on Rivers with focus on Ganga, the theme of IRW 2018, was given away to Shri Arun Tiwari by late Anupam ji’s life partner Manju Misra ji. Abhilash Khandekar, a well known journalist, also member of IRW organising committee and also member of BPS-AMM Jury, while interacting with the award laureates, called Arun Tiwari as INDIA’sRIVER JOURNALIST OF 2018.

Famous Chipko leader Shri Chandi Prasad Bhatt, giving the BPS award to Vishwanath, including Citation, Shawl and Plaque and, congratulated the six organisations that are in the organisation committee of IRW, said the India Rivers Week needs to be celebrated by every household and family.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 26 Nov. 2018 (INDIA RIVERS WEEK 2018: BPS 2018 to Rainman Vishwanath; AMM 2018 to River Journalist Arun Tiwari)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 1 October 2018: Hungry Water Effect due to Dams & Unsustainable Sand Mining Worsened Kerala Floods

Dams and reservoirs make rivers sediment-starved and menacing manifold downstream. While heavy rainfall is also a key factor behind the floods, hungry water had a more pronounced effect, says D. Padmalal, Scientist and Head, Hydrological process group, National Centre for Earth Science Studies.

– “When the sediment transport is interrupted, the potential energy of the hungry water released from dams will scour the river banks downstream, uprooting trees or riparian vegetation and damaging bridges and other engineering structures,” explains Dr. Padmalal. Overloaded with silt and clay from the eroding river banks, the highly turbid and viscous water clogs drainage channels. Subsequent discharge of water from the dam will lead to inundation and waterlogging of large areas.

– Hungry water can also develop in high gradient river channels devoid of adequate quantity of sand and gravel, especially during periods of high rainfall. “Years of uncontrolled sand mining have left most of the rivers in Kerala depleted or exhausted of sand and gravel. This creates a situation similar to the release of hungry water from dams,” notes Dr. Padmalal. When the river channel has adequate supply of sand and gravel, the potential energy of the water is used to transport the mixture. The water does not scour the banks or turn muddy.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 1 October 2018: Hungry Water Effect due to Dams & Unsustainable Sand Mining Worsened Kerala Floods”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 17 September 2018: How Much of This Drought Is Man Made?

  1. Gujarat suffering due to political use of water for elections in 2017.
  2. Rajasthan given more water for elections there in 2018. Will Punjab, Haryana suffer now?
  3. Kerala drought: how much could have been reduced if dams were operated more prudently?
  4. North Interior Karnataka is suffering, but Krishna basin dams are almost full? Issue of unsustainable cropping patterns, groundwater overuse, and neglect of recharge & regulation?

Gujarat Water scarcity looms large with state receiving only 74% rainfall so far

  • Kutch and North Gujarat are likely to face severe water scarcity this year, officials said. The Kutch region has received a mere 26.51 percent of average rainfall so far, while North Gujarat has received 42.93 percent, central Gujarat 66.83 percent, Saurashtra 72.20 percent and South Gujarat the highest 94.79 percent.
  • However, the Sardar Sarovar Dam is filled up to 125.82 meters, and it can provide drinking water for the entire state till the next summer, the govt said. As per Govt. storage in Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada, which will be enough to meet the state’s need for drinking water through the next summer.
  • The Narmada water will also be used to fill up empty dams in Saurashtra including Aji 1, Macchu 2, Vadod and Ankadia through the Sauni scheme, officials said.
  • “The state govt will provide 20,000 cusecs water for the next 20 days to save the crops in water-starved areas,” Deputy CM Nitin Patel told reporters in Gandhinagar said.
  • “We plan to fill up 400 big and small ponds in North Gujarat by Narmada water through canals and pipeline network of the Sujlam Suflam scheme,” he said.
  • “We also plan to fill the dams in Saurashtra region and provide water for irrigation from Narmada Dam under the SAUNI scheme,” he said. https://www.firstpost.com/india/water-scarcity-looms-large-in-gujarat-with-state-receiving-only-74-rainfall-so-far-this-monsoon-says-government-5188271.html (15 Sept. 2018)

Himachal Pradesh Rajasthan quietly given extra water by BBMB to improve BJPs Poll prospects A detailed story about how BBMB, controlled by Central Power Ministry, released excess water to BJP ruled Rajasthan this poll year, which has deepened the water availability at BBMB dams this year. This is not that the first time that the water releases have happened to achieve poll objectives. https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2018/09/16/rajasthan-quietly-given-extra-water-by-bhakra-dam-board-to-improve-bjps-poll-prospects_a_23528788/  (14 Sept. 2018)

Rajasthan Rainfall deficit in many districts As per IMD, Badmer district of Rajasthan has received rainfall 48 percent below normal till Sept. 16. Similarly rainfall deficit in Hanumangarh 58 percent so far. Jallor district is facing maximum rainfall deficit of 60 per cent less than normal. Likewise the rainfall in Pali district is 35 per cent below the normal and in Jaislmer is facing a rainfall deficit of 38 per cent. In Western Rajasthan it rained only 193 mm during entire monsoon season causing a  deficit of 24 per cent below the normal.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 17 September 2018: How Much of This Drought Is Man Made?”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 3 Sept 2018: CHINA HAS STARTED DECOMMISSIONING DAMS

In a mountain village in southwest China’s Sichuan province, authorities have demolished seven small dam projects this year along a river to clear illegal developments in a new nature reserve. The demolition is part of a nationwide programme to close hundreds of tiny and often ramshackle dams and turbines and bring order to China’s massive hydropower sector after years of unconstrained construction.

The dams sat on an unnamed tributary of the fierce and flood-prone Dadu river, which feeds into the Yangtze, Asia’s largest and longest river, where the government says the “irregular development” of thousands of small hydropower projects has wrecked the ecology. But green groups say the campaign will not necessarily save the environment because it will not affect big state hydropower stations, which they say have caused the most damage.

On the 48 km Zhougong, authorities have already demolished small projects built in nature reserves or encroaching upon new “ecological red lines” drawn up to shield a quarter of China’s territory from development.

The government says small dams have disrupted the habitats and breeding patterns of many rare species of fish, although green groups argue the damage wrought by bigger dams is more severe, with entire towns and ecosystems submerged in water, which they say increases the risk of earthquakes, landslides and even climate change.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 3 Sept 2018: CHINA HAS STARTED DECOMMISSIONING DAMS”