(Feature image: Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav with PM Narendra Modi before taking oath on July 7, 2021 PTI/HT.)
While the news that India has achieved the worst ever ranking of 180, at the bottom of 180 country index in terms of Environment Performance Index was shocking, it should not surprise too many people considering the way environment is treated by the current central government, particularly the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). As expected, MoEF questioned the methodology of the assessment, and the criticism has been responded to and rejected by the authors of the EPI report.
Now with a dictate of the MoEF (dated Apr 8, 2022, preceding the EPI news) coming to light, the trajectory of the MoEF should leave no one in doubt. Through this dictate, the MoEF has asked the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), a supposedly autonomous institute of the Ministry, to seek the ministry’s approval before it publishes any document, that too with retrospective effect! WII in any case, was towing the ministry’s line in many of the cases as is evident from its performance in regulatory committees like the Forest Advisory Committee, National Board of Wild Life and Expert Appraisal Committee (on River Valley Projects, possibly among others). And yet the Ministry has come out with this dictate, without giving any reasons, possibly since some of WII reports have been problematic for the govt in judicial proceedings in some cases. But the MoEF move to stop WII from publishing (and hence doing) any credible studies only shows the paranoia of the ministry. Its performance index would not improve this way, it would only get worse.
Continue reading “DRP NB 13 June 2022: Down in Dumps, MoEF becomes more opaque”
Guest Article by Prof S P Sati
The suggestion of a robust early warning system always echoes as and when there is a disaster in the Himalaya. Hence, the murmuring of having a state of art early warning system after the February 7th 2021 Rishi Ganga disaster is nothing new.
Several concerned scientists of the country are considering of instituting a new centre using the state of art remote sensing techniques. The centre would be dedicated to the early warning forecasting in the Himalayan region. This is heard practically after every disaster since last two decades.
Continue reading “Himalayan Disasters: Early Warning Systems must, but much more needed”
Or may be it is a major issue at a number of places. Like in Kishanganj district along Mahananda river in North East Bihar, as the report here mentions. We hope it is. Since floods and how they are managed affect so fundamentally and in so many different ways so many people, it should be an election issue. Particularly when the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is fighting to be voted in after being the Chief Minister of the state for 15 years since Nov 2005 (except brief ten month period in 2014-15).
15 years is long enough time to have been able to make at least some dent in flood management. On ground, the situation seems to have only gone worse. It was in this 15 year period that the unprecedented Kosi floods happened after the Kusaha breach in 2008. But the word unprecedented has been used for several more floods in these 15 years, including by Nitish Kumar. He also raised a number of pertinent issues in this period, including impact of Farakka barrage on Bihar floods, need for its decommissioning, Bihar’s right to get Ganga water from the headwaters in Uttarakhand [currently it gets none except during monsoon]. He is currently silent on these issues, but voters and media do not have to be silent.
Continue reading “DRP NB 26 Oct 2020: Why Floods is not big issue in Bihar elections?”
India Rivers Week (IRW) Organising Committee is excited to announce that the theme of the forthcoming annual event IRW 2020 will be: “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?”. As part of IRW-2020, India Rivers Forum is organizing a series of Dialogues (digitally). This includes four regional dialogues focusing on North (Oct 31), South (Nov 7), West (Nov 12) and East (including North East: Nov 21)) India, and the final one (Nov 28) focusing on Sand Mining as a National issue.
Sand mining or mining of River Bed Material (RBM, including sand, gravel, boulders) has a huge impact on Rivers, in multiple ways: physical, ecological, livelihood impacts among others. While sand is also sourced from sources other than rivers, IRW 2020 will focus on sand sourced directly or indirectly from rivers. Sand is by definition, a key ingredient of the rivers. It provides habitat for multiple species of the biodiversity in the river. It provides both sub surface storage space and a mechanism to recharge the groundwater. The sand, along with silt, clay, pebbles and boulders are part of the river and are supposed to reach the deltas and provide a key existential medium in floodplain and deltas. To achieve that, sustaining river connectivities is very important.
Continue reading “DRP NB 19 Oct 2020: India Rivers Week 2020: IS SAND MINING KILLING OUR RIVERS?”
This scholarly article shows why India’s flood forecasting system is ineffective. It is not location specific, provides too short a time, it does not provide the intensity of flooding, it is not comprehensive, there is no independent assessment. As far as dams are concerned, its performance is worst, and is unable to either expose wrong dam operations or take action against such operations. Its inflow forecasts are most of the time non existent. It makes numerous errors, but fails to correct them for long time. Its website is slow, sometimes totally non functional. It keeps changing the monitoring sites, their HFLs and provides neither consistency nor reasoning for many of its actions. In the middle of the monsoon it decided to curtail the hydrographs and information display system. Read on.
Continue reading “DRP NB 12 Oct 2020: Why is India’s flood forecasting system ineffective?”
The World Rivers Day[i] (WRD) is celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of September. The event strives to highlight the invaluable ecological, hydrological services and cultural, recreational values offered by the rivers. Indeed, the most of the once wild, scenic, free flowing rivers across the globe are facing existential crisis on account of various anthropogenic activities hastened over the past century.
However, there are small but significant steps being undertaken by individuals, organizations and governments to restore some of the flowing eco-systems. This account attempts to compile some such positive developments that have taken place in the one year.
We have already published a compilation of the positive river stories of India on the occasion of International Day of Actions for Rivers being held on March 14 2020. In addition to Indian rivers, this compilation also covers some remarkable development concerning river conservation worldwide. There could be many more stories and developments happening, we invite readers to send us such stories they know about.
Continue reading “World Rivers Day 2020: Celebrating Rivers across the world”
WII skips multi-seasonal study on Etalin, cheats its way to compile a conservation plan; MoEFCC and FAC ignore all FANTASTIC REPORT The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) spent only four months on field while compiling a multi-seasonal replicate study on the Jindals’ 3097 mw Etalin Hydro Electric Power Company Ltd (EHEPCL) in Dibang Valley in Arunachal, and it relied on earlier studies conducted in the region. The forest advisory committee (FAC) of the union ministry of environment, forests & climate change (MoEFCC) and the ministry itself did not bother to ask any questions as to how the study was compiled, even though one of its own reports states that four months’ study was carried out. Instead, the FAC formed a subcommittee to look into the “concerns related to tree enumeration process and the aspects highlighted in biodiversity assessments study by WII.” The wildlife study done by the WII is accepted in toto by the subcommittee, the subcommittee report says. The subcommittee included a member of the WII who was part of the team that cheated its way to compile a questionable report on Etalin. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2020/05/03/wii-skips-multi-seasonal-study-on-etalin-cheats-its-way-to-compile-a-conservation-plan-moefcc-and-fac-ignore-all/ (03 May 2020)
Continue reading “DRP NB 04 May 2020: Wildlife Institute of India doing quid pro quo with hydro developers?”
China not to alter course of rivers flowing into Nepal China has agreed not to deliberately change or cause to change the course of any trans-boundary rivers flowing into Nepal. This comes under an Agreement on the Boundary Management System reached with Nepal during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Kathmandu in October 2019. All the major rivers including the Karnali, Kali Gandaki, Budhi Gandaki, Trishuli, Sunkoshi, Bhotekoshi, Tamakoshi and Arun originate in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. Nepal as well as the northern part of India could be seriously affected if any dams or diversion projects are built in upper riparian Tibet. “Both sides shall, as far as possible, prevent the boundary rivers from changing their courses. Neither side shall deliberately change or cause to change the course of any boundary river,” states Article 7 (1) of the Agreement. Continue reading “NEPAL DRP Overview 2019”
Book Review: “Ganga: The Many Pasts of a River” by Sudipta Sen. Penguine Viking. 2019. PP 445 + (xvi)
“Panditaraja Jagannath, Mughal court poet extraordinaire, a scholar of Linguistics, poetics, and philosophy, hounded by the Brahmin orthodoxy led by Hara Dikshita for marrying a Muslim woman, sought refuge on the steps of Banaras by the side of the Ganga. Forbidden to step into the water lest he pollute the river with his transgression, he was moved to compose his famous devotional eulogy of the Ganga, known as the Piyushalahari. As he composed each verse, legend has it, the river rose step by step, and at the end of his recitation sweeps him and his devoted wife away.”
This is one of the many fascinating stories that Sudipta Sen tells us in this remarkable book, a product of at least 12 years of labor of love. Continue reading “Can a book tell History of Ganga?”
On April 16, 2019, Delhi High Court bench decided to initiate a Public Interest Litigation based on a newspaper report that not much rainwater harvesting or groundwater recharge is happening in spite of years of talk that seems to have remained empty. This is a welcome move and one hopes HC takes the issue to its logical conclusion.
Continue reading “DRP NB 6 May 2019: Delhi HC takes Suo moto action on RWH in Delhi”