MOBILE APP FOR RIVER MONITORING: HUGE POTENTIAL FOR CITIZENS IN INDIA? If you added up the length of all the streams around the world, the total would be at least 89 million kilometers [Downing et al., 2012]. More than half of the global stream channel network is likely intermittent (i.e., the streams do not have flow year-round [Datry et al., 2014]), yet most streamflow monitoring stations are located on perennial streams. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 16 April 2018: HOW Citizens can use mobile app to monitor Rivers”
Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) has been claiming that Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Program (AIBP) is a success story of Modi government and some media stories[i] are happy to uncritically report those claims. If we take a close, objective look at the MoWR website[ii], we gather that the claims of success is just that: claim of the ministry. There is no evidence available on the ministry’s website or in the media report that support such claims to show that additional irrigation has actually been achieved. Continue reading “AIBP: just a pack of unverifiable claims or worse?”
In an important development in Manipur this week, PM Narendra Modi could not commission the controversial Mapithel dam due to local protest. As per, the official statement notifying The PM was was supposed to launch is the Mapithel dam, part of the Thoubal Multipurpose Project.
As per CRA Manipur blog report, the forum of Mapithel dam affected “Joint Action Committee Against Forced Inauguration of Mapithel Dam had threatened a 48-hour shutdown to coincide with the dam’s scheduled inauguration by Modi. The committee withdrew its call late on March 14, reportedly after the Manipur government agreed to shelve the inauguration.
The action committee is primarily demanding compensation for the people displaced by the project as mandated by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
Apart from complaints of inadequate compensation, opposition to the commissioning of the dam itself has grown louder over the years. Local communities claim the project violates the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and its new avatar, the Forest Rights Act of 2006. https://cramanipur.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/as-local-communities-protest-manipur-government-cancels-plan-of-modi-inaugurating-mapithel-dam/
This sixth compilation under Rivers Review series, presents situation of rivers in Tamil Nadu in the year 2017.
Tamirabarani River Opposition grows against Tamirabarani water to soft drink units In March 2017, various citizen groups submitted petitions to Collector M. Karuankaran, opposing the decision to supply huge quantity of water from the Tamirabarani to beverage manufacturing units in Gangaikondan Industrial area. They also asked the State Government to cancel the agreement with the soft drink manufacturing units on supplying the river water and make sincere efforts to revive the river. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tamirabarani-protest-intensifies-tirunelveli/article17457199.ece (The Hindu, 13 March 2017)
Finance Minister Arun Jaitely presented the last full budget of the Modi led NDA govt at centre on Feb 1, 2018. Considering the impending elections and the prospects of facing the elections next year (possibly earlier as some speculate), one thought the Budget will try to do justice to the promises the BJP made to the people in 2014 elections, particularly to farmers, about Ganga and other rivers. Modi has just returned from Davos where he said climate change is one of the biggest challenges of future, so one expected that the budget will also have something on environment and climate change. Even the ECONOMIC SERVEY 2017 put out on Jan 29, 2018 was focused on climate change impact on farmers. Considering the Rural distress that got reflected in Gujarat election results in Dec 2017, one expected credible and substantial better deal for villages and agriculture.
Unfortunately, we are mostly disappointed in all these aspects. Continue reading “Union Budget 2018: Looking for farmers, rivers or environment”
There have been many positive developments on agriculture, groundwater and environment round the week. In the first positive development, data from the first impact study of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) shows that small and marginal farmers, who can’t afford costly agricultural inputs, are turning a new leaf by going organic because of lower costs and higher margins. The study conducted by the National Institute of Agriculture Extension Management, has also revealed that Net Returns of organic farmers were higher for all the three crops studied, namely wheat, paddy and soybean, by 15.8%, 36.7% and 50% respectively.
This was based on study of 690 organic clusters in 25 states, out of some 6211 clusters comprising of 2.25 lakh farmers in a PKVY (each ha getting Rs 50 000 as aid) scheme launched in 2015, comprising of 52.3% small farmers. The average cluster size was 69 acres, in each there were 54.6 farmers on average. Maharashtra had the highest number of clusters at 1043 and MP had the highest area under clusters. The funding however remained irregular. India’s domestic organic food market is expected to show Compound Annual Growth rate of 25%, says the study. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/small-farmers-go-big-with-organic-farming/story-nlyQQVUnoewHgeJyvaAnJI.html (Hindustan Times, 29 January 2018)
Another positive news report, have disclosed that how a simple groundwater recharge technique is transforming farmlands in Gujarat. The simple pit and pipe system simply and expertly captures standing water during rains, thus freeing arable land from water logging while recharging groundwater to use for irrigation during the lean season. This is essentially a simple groundwater recharge scheme but appears to last long. As per report about 3000 such units have already been installed in Gujarat and several other states. http://www.thehindu.com/society/this-simple-technology-has-transformed-gujarat-farmlands-into-an-oasis/article22529034.ece (The Hindu, 27 January 2018)
The third positive news have come from Central Government which has prepared a Rs 6000 crore plan to recharge ground water. The scheme is yet to be cleared by the Expenditure Finance Committee and the Cabinet.
As per report, the new 5-yr long scheme will be funded 50: 50 by the World Bank and centre, to be implemented in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Rajasthan, covering 78 districts, 193 blocks and 8300 gram panchayats.
Gram Panchayats that prepare water security plans and put infrastructure to augment water supply will get incentives. Interestingly, an earlier version of the scheme, called National Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme was rejected by AFC in May 2017. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-readies-rs-6-000-crore-plan-to-recharge-groundwater/story-nziZ6rvp88ZJHFo0DM5kNO.html (Hindustan Times, 28 January 2018)
Protests and controversies around Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) are only growing louder and wider. While Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) Rivers Valley Project in unnecessary hurry considering the project tomorrow (05 Dec. 2017) http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/2811201745T4GD5I10thAgendaEACHydro05122017.pdf
Villagers and local groups people also continue raising their concerns and objections against 5040 Mw dam project. Today, scores of villagers, environmental groups including regional political party have protested at Jhulaghat in Champawat, Pithoragarh, Almora and in Delhi demanding EAC to listen to the voices of local people and groups.
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”.
Guest Blog by Manoj Misra
Rivers in different parts of the world have been dammed to fulfill human needs like water for irrigation, industries and domestic supplies. Then there are dams that have been raised to control floods or to produce electricity.
These have often been celebrated as human victory over nature, glorified as engineering marvel and claimed variously as highest, longest etc as a matter of national pride.
But rarely has there been a holistic assessment or appreciation of what a dam does to the natural entity called river and its adverse impacts on all the associated life forms, including humans.
New Draft Guidelines designed to privatise & destroy Groundwater The Ministry of Water Resources of the Union Government has on Oct 11, 2017 (see notice: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/forms/List.aspx?lid=1180&Id=6) put up draft guidelines on Groundwater management in India (see draft Guidelines: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/writereaddata/guideline-NOC-CGWA.pdf), with comment period of 60 days. The comments are to be sent to: Member Secretary, Central Ground Water Authority, West Block-2, Wing 3 (Ground Floor), Sector 1, RK Puram, New Delhi – 110066, e-mail: email@example.com.
New Draft Groundwater guidelines designed to destroy groundwater further and open floodgates for privatisation of common property resource? “Groundwater is a common property resource and should be used for greater good. But these guidelines are not doing that. Groundwater governance and management should happen in a transparent, participatory and accountable way but that too is not happening through guidelines,” Thakkar said.
Explaining, Thakkar said that the guidelines are “trying to make a system wherein state or district level authorities will be giving NOCs but whether those authorities have capacity to give NOCs after understanding the implications is the question.” “The draft guidelines also take out the need to recharge groundwater. Present regulations say that you if you take out groundwater you need to put in recharge capacity but now they are saying that’s not necessary and are only seeking charges. These things will definitely lead to further destruction of groundwater,” he added. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/irx1jFCWMFjGJk82Z8VZ2O/Govt-proposes-new-guidelines-on-groundwater-usage-by-industr.html, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/oct/13/centre-proposes-water-conservation-fee-for-use-of-groundwater-1673480.html, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/oct/14/townships-with-gym-club-must-pay-water-fee-1673790.html, http://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/centre-proposes-nixing-recharge-requirement-for-industries-extracting-groundwater/story-kN3iPmO9m4MIoYkUX32n7I.html Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 16 October 2017: New Groundwater Guidelines threat to India’s Water Lifeline”