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DRP News Bulletin 9 July 2018: National Meeting on Inland Fishworkers in Delhi on July 10, 2018

The NATIONAL PLATFORM FOR SMALL SCALE FISH WORKERS (INLAND) is convening a Consultative Meeting on Livelihood Issues of Inland Small Scale Fish Workers 10thJuly 2018, Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi.

The Invitation letter says: “India is gifted with vast and varied inland water bodies bearing rich fish resources.Rivers and canals, reservoirs, ponds and tanks, oxbow lakes, wetlands, backwaters and estuaries yield 7.21 million tonnes of fish which is more than 66% of total fish production of the country. The sector sustains about 4 million fish workers and a total population of around 2 crores.Fish provides good quality animal protein rich in minerals and vitamins. About 800 million Indians eat fish. After milk, fish is the largest source of our animal protein.These huge resources are under severe stress. Rivers are poisoned with heavy pollution. Diversion of water from rivers is harming their ecological flow.

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DRP News Bulletin 2 July 2018: Punjab Cabinet Meets To Discuss Water crisis, IS IT SERIOUS?

In a rare event, Punjab Cabinet met to discuss water crisis on June 26, 2018. The reports before the meeting seemed to give hope that may be Punjab will look at the water crisis in a fundamental, holistic way. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/punjab-government-to-firm-up-water-conservation-plan-5233826/ (June 26, 2018)

But the cabinet ended up setting up a committee to assess the ground water situation in the state and submit a detailed proposal for water conservation.

– Punjab has the highest rate of groundwater exploitation and had on average withdrawn 28.2 million acre feet (MAF) water yearly during 2008-2013. However, the yearly average replenishment of water was only 18.9 MAF.

– 73% of Punjab’s irrigated area uses groundwater for irrigation, while only 27% uses surface water. The number of tubewells had gone up exponentially from 2 lakh in 1971 to 12.50 lakh in 2015-16, with 41% of these have water availability beyond the depth of 60 metres. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/5-member-committee-to-assess-punjab-ground-water/articleshow/64770186.cms  (28 June 2018)

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DRP News Bulletin 19 February 2018 (How Are We Treating Our Urban Rivers?)

In this comprehensive article Mumbai-based author Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar throws the light on the plight of Uraban Rivers. “Rivers and streams have borne the brunt of the recent urban explosion in India, a nation whose population has nearly doubled in the last 40 years to 1.35 billion. Unplanned growth has led to the use of water bodies as dumping grounds for sewage and industrial effluent. According to CPCB, 63 % of the urban sewage flowing into rivers (some 62 billion liters a day) is untreated.

In addition, riverbanks, wetlands, and floodplains have been claimed over time by infrastructure, slums, offices, and housing developments – all of which has narrowed natural river channels and distorted flow, greatly reducing the ability of India’s rivers to buffer flooding. It also has taken a toll on biodiversity. http://e360.yale.edu/features/dying-waters-india-struggles-to-clean-up-its-polluted-urban-rivers (Yale Environment 360, 15 Feb. 2018) 

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DRP News Bulletin 08 January 2018  (“THIS IS RIVER, NOT LAND” Chennai Fisherfolks Fight To Save Ennore river)

In a remarkable protest echoing urgent need for protection of rivers, fisherfolk of Kosasthalai River on 03 January 2018, launched a ‘Jal Satyagraha’ against Kamarajar Port project. The proposal would divert 1000 acres of creek area. It mainly comprises of river, wetlands, marshy areas on which fisher community depend for livelihood.

Raising their voices against the project with holding play cards that read “This is River, Not Land” they stood in waist-deep in waters to save Ennore Creek. Joining the protest, hundreds of residents also demanded the withdrawal of alleged fraudulent maps denying the existence of the Ennore Creek. The community has been fighting a lonely battle against the Tamil Nadu government accusing it of turning wetlands illegally into industrial real estate corridors.

– “Fishing economy has been hit massively. Shrinking of water body means less space for fish. Shrinking has happened in terms of surface spread as well as depth thanks to the dumping of dredged sand from the sea, silting the waterbody. The larger concern is fly ash and heavy metals from the industries polluting the environment causing health hazards,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, Environmental activist and researcher who was part of the protest. https://www.oneindia.com/india/chennai-fisherfolk-stage-jal-satyagraha-to-save-ennore-creek-2613088.html (One India, 04 January 2018)

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DRP News Bulletin 03 July 2017 (Panna Villagers Oppose Ken-Betwa Link Project)

In the month of June 2017 several villages in Panna district Madhya Pradesh have opposed the controversial Ken-Betwa interlinking project. According to locals the project will destroy the Ken River which is the life line of area. Numbers of Village Panchayats have sent their memorandums to District Collector citing negative impact of the project on Panna Tiger Reserve. Many individuals and social groups including trader’s body have also criticized the project. As per locals, Panna district lacks irrigation facilities but the project proposes to transfer Ken river water to other areas. Local political parties have also supported the villagers opposition.

KBL Letters 1

Similarly worried over the scale of destruction, a group of concerned people in Panna have recently organized a meeting on the issue. Discussing the side effects of the project, the group fears that Ken Betwa interlinking project will make the Ken River dry and as a result ground water level in the area will also go down. The people revealed that there is no surplus water in the river on the basis of which the project was planned. They also cited several shortcomings in the planning of the project and stated that downstream impacts of the project has not been studied at all. The group has collectively decided to take up necessary actions to convey their opposition to the project. 

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DRP News Bulletin 07 Nov 2016 (India Rivers Week 2016 – Presenting the Positive & Beautiful side of India’s Abused Rivers)

India River Week-2016 to focus on State of India’s Rivers Since time immemorial, rivers have held a coveted place in the mindscape of Indians. Rigveda has dedicated suktas on mighty rivers like Sindhu describing not only the river, but its tributaries, its flow, its myriad paths, the glaciers and lakes which feed it. Across India, local cultures are replete with evocative river stories, river festivals and several rituals which bring rivers in the homes and hearts of people. And yet, Indian rivers remain some of the most abused in the world.

It’s natural for rivers to be in the news during the monsoon or a drought, but that is not the only reason why rivers are being discussed these days.

Rivers are indeed grabbing headlines, be it Cauvery or the Indus or the mindless plan of River Interlinking. But while that happens, are we discussing rivers at all? We are discussing conflicts and interstate issues, even geopolitics, but we have very successfully cut our rivers and the hydrological systems including the catchment, headwaters, groundwater, wetlands, lakes and estuaries into convenient pieces: water supply, water sharing, irrigation, hydro-power, drinking water supply, sanitation, pollution, flood control. It seems, most of the time, rivers are in the news for all the wrong reasons!

For example, the Cauvery is in the news for the never-ending dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on sharing of its waters, a conflict that keeps rearing its head whenever there is a deficit year. Unfortunately, the dispute is about the Cauvery, but the poor river’s condition is on no one’s radar. Everyone is only talking about its water!

Similarly, Mahanadi is in the news for interstate water disputes. But none of states is particularly worried about the condition of the river. In the case of the Mahadayi, again, the states seem least bothered about the river itself, with Goa planning to allow navigation on it without any assessment of its impact on the river. Telangana and Andhra are locked in Krishna and Godavari water-sharing disputes, which are bound to spill over to Maharashtra and Karnataka, among other basin states.

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DRP News Bulletin 30 May 2016 (Centre’s new wetland protection rules reinforces the stereotype that Govt see wetlands as wastelands)

Centre’s new wetland protection rules reinforces the stereotype that govts see wetlands as wastelands  The draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016 which replace the existing Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, are up for public comments till June 6, 2016. While wetlands nationwide are threatened by encroachment, pollution, catchment degradation and mindless development, the Narendra Modi government’s draft rules show no indications of acknowledging this threat. The draft rules, environmentalists say, reinforces the stereotype that governments see wetlands as wastelands. The essence of the new rules is to decentralise wetlands management to states. The Centre will have a say only in ‘exceptional cases’ While the 2010 rules gave some role to states, the draft rules gives them all powers. But in the process, the whole conservation process has been weakened. The period for public comments on the draft notification ends by the month. Several organisations, including BHNS, WWF, LIFE, International Rivers, INTACH, YJA & SANDRP have sent, or are in the process of sending, representations to the environment ministry. Among the concerns is that the 2010 rules itself were barely getting implemented. No state has identified a wetland yet, and few have made state-level nodal agencies mandated by the 2010 rules. In an ongoing case before the NGT, it emerged that states had not notified wetlands under the 2010 regulations. This forced the tribunal to demand that states begin to do so in at least 5-10 districts in a time-bound fashion. The Union meanwhile has proposed to substantially change the existing regulations. The new regulations do away with the elaborate list of activities that are prohibited or restricted. It prohibits reclamation of wetlands, conversion to non-wetlands, diversion or impediment of inflows and outflows from the wetland and ‘any activity having or likely to have adverse impact on ecological character of the wetland’. The need for the environmental impact assessment before permitting such activities is to be done away with. The earlier regulations allowed appeals against the decisions of the central wetlands authority with the NGT. This, too, is to be done away with, though aggrieved entities could continue to file cases against violations of these rules. The concerns were also raised during a discussion organized in Jodhpur on May 23 by three NGOs EIA Resource and Response Centre, Libra India and Life on Draft Wetland Rules 2016 issued recently by the environment ministry seeking suggestions and comments.

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DRP News Bulletin 15 Feb. 2016 (Govt plans National Water Commission)

Govt plans National Water Commission In one of the most significant reforms in the water sector in a long time, the govt is in the process of ordering a complete restructuring of the organisations responsible for regulating the use of water resources, with the objective of bringing in greater efficiency, better planning and increased emphasis on conservation of water. According to news report the Central Water Commission (CWC), which oversees irrigation projects, flood management and drinking water supply, and the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) are likely to be disbanded, and a National Water Commission is proposed to be set up in their place. A few other smaller organisations with specialised mandate like data gathering and analysis are also likely to be created.

A team under Mihir Shah, a former member of the then Planning Commission of India, is already preparing a blueprint for better management of water resources. The idea of institutional restructuring is said to have the backing of this panel. It is likely to submit its report in the next two months. In the new scheme of things, more emphasis is being given to judicious use, and conservation, of ground water. It is estimated that despite elaborate irrigation projects, about 60 per cent of irrigation during the non-rainy season is still done by pumping out ground water. The large irrigation projects, meanwhile, have given sub-optimal results.

A large number of sewage treatment plants, being built as part of the Clean Ganga initiative that will eventually spread to other rivers as well, will provide a new source of water that is fit not only for industrial use but also for irrigation and many other purposes. The river rejuvenation plans, not just of Ganga but others as well, will become an integral part of overall water resources management. Apart from reducing pollution in the rivers, and maintaining a minimum ecological flow, the rejuvenation plans would also ensure that the rivers are able to adequately recharge the aquifers in its basins.

Allocation of water resources to each state is also on the agenda. But this process is likely to take time as it would involve extensive consultations with the state governments. Once a consensus emerges, a central legislation on allocation of water resources is planned to be brought in. This is aimed at reducing inter-state water disputes.

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जलवायु संकट समाधान के प्रयास हर हाल में करें बड़ी जलविद्युत परियोजनाओं से परहेज

 For Immediate Release                                                         December 3, 2015

जलवायु संकट समाधान के प्रयास हर हाल में करें बड़ी जलविद्युत परियोजना से परहेजः- सामाजिक संगठन

पेरिस में चल रही जलवायु परिवर्तन की शिखर वार्ता में आज अनेक सामाजिक संगठनों ने सरकारों से बड़ी जलविद्युत परियोजनाओं से परहेज करने के लिए एक घोषणा पत्र जारी किया।

53 देशों से आए 300 से अधिक सामाजिक संगठनों ने घोषणा पत्र का समर्थन करते हुए कहा कि सभी देशों की सरकारें एवं विश्व बैंक समेत सभी प्रमुख पूॅजी निवेशक संस्थाएॅ हर हाल में पर्यावरण के लिए खतरा बन चुकी भारी-भरकम जलविद्युत परियोजनाओं को जलवायु संकट समाधान के मसौदे से बाहर रखें। 

प्रतिभागियों ने एकमत से यह भी कहा कि जलवायु परिवर्तन समाधान के नाम पर चलायी जा रही सरकारी एवं विश्वबैंक की योजनाओं जैसे हरित विकास प्रणाली, हरित विकास अनुबंध एवं हरित पूॅजीनिवेश धनराशि के तहत बड़ी जलविद्युत परियोजनाओं को कतई शामिल ना किया जाए।

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