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”
This week there are exemplary and encouraging wetlands revival stories from three metro cities of Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi. In the first example from Hyderabad, meticulously chosen plant species such as tulsi, aswagandha, citronella and hibiscus have been used to create an artificial island to clean Neknampur Lake. The treatment islands are composed of four layers of which the bamboo base keeps the entire structure afloat. Based on soil-less hydroponics, these floating treatment wetlands absorb excess nitrates, thereby reducing the chemical content of the lake water. Microorganisms present in the wetland break down organic matter while the root systems filter out pollutants and sediments. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/3500-saplings-floating-islands-help-rejuvenate-hyd-neknampur-lake-75819 (The News Minute, 3 Feb. 2018)
Similarly, Chennai-based Care Earth Trust along with the public works department (PWD) and the civic body has managed to restore three urban lakes. While many of the smaller wetlands have vanished over time, many mid-sized wetlands seem to have shrunk by almost 65 percent. Thanks to their joint effort, invasive hyacinth was removed from the Narayanapuram Lake in Pallikaranai, while sewer lines, which emptied into the Perungalathur Lake, have now been plugged. A detailed restoration proposal has been forwarded to the PWD regarding the Korattur-Madhavaram-Ambattur lakes. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/hyacinth-out-sewer-line-plugged-three-water-bodies-restored/articleshow/62748110.cms (The Times of India, 2 Feb. 2018)
Meanwhile, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has taken up interesting new project of creating an artificial lake in Dwarka. The project will supply water in sub-city and improve ground water level too. DJB has approved Rs. 56 crore for the project which will be completed in next seven months. This would the first model project wherein a lake will be used to augment water supply. The special lake is being created next to the Dwarka water treatment plant (WTP) will have a sand bed to allow maximum percolation of water into the ground. It will have a capacity of 10 million gallons (MGD). The project is expected to add supply of 5-6 million gallons water to Dwarka every day.
2005 से 2008 के बीच पन्ना जिले की कलेक्टर ने अपने कार्यकाल के दौरान केन-बेतवा परियोजना के बारे में अपने शीर्ष अधिकारियों और विभागों को पत्रों की एक श्रृंखला लिखी थी। इन पत्रों में उन्होंने एक चौंकानेवाला निष्कर्ष दिया था कि यदि केन बेसिन के लोगों की पानी की बुनियादी जरूरतें पूरी की जाए, तो केन नदी में कोई अतिरिक्त पानी ही नहीं बचेगा। उन्होंने यहाँ तक लिखा था कि केन-बेतवा नदी जोड़ो परियोजना केन बेसिन के लोगों के लिए एक त्रासदी होगी।
एसएएनडीआरपी (SANDRP) को मिले दस्तावेजों से यह पता चलता है कि 2005 से 2008 के बीच पन्ना कलेक्टर के रूप में अपने कार्यकाल के दौरान उन्होंने केन बेतवा परियोजना को रोकने के लिए कड़ा संघर्ष किया था। उन्होंने दिखाया था कि यदि मध्य प्रदेश 1983 के अपने जल संसाधन मास्टर प्लान को केन बेसिन में लागू करता, तो बेतवा बेसिन में भेजने के लिए कोई पानी ही नहीं बचता। इसे देखते हुए उन्होंने हताश होकर अंततः यह निष्कर्ष निकाला कि केन-बेतवा परियोजना “पन्ना जिले के निवासियों और केन नदी बेसिन के अन्य जिलों के लिए विनाशकारी दुष्परिणामों वाली होगी।”
Above: Ken River in Panna district (Photo by SANDRP)
In a series of letters that then collector of Panna district wrote when she was collector of this Bundelkhand district for close to three and a half years, she made startling conclusion that Ken river has no surplus water, if the basic water needs of people of Ken Basin residents are fulfilled. The documents that SANDRP has now received show that during her tenure as Panna collector between 2005 and 2008, she fought hard to stop the Ken Betwa project. She showed that if the Madhya Pradesh’s own water resources master plan of 1983 were to be implemented in Ken Basin, there would be no water left for export to Betwa basin. An exasperated IAS officer ultimately had to conclude that the Ken Betwa project “holds disastrous implications for the residents of Panna district as also other districts of the Ken river basin.” Continue reading ““Ken Betwa Project is Disaster for Ken Basin People, there is NO surplus water in Ken Basin”: Panna Collector”
“Oh my god! I wont have believed that such an amazingly beautiful river canyon exists in India had I not seen this!” These were my first words, believe or not, on seeing Raneh Falls earlier this year. It was such mesmerizingly beautiful scene that I could not believe no one has even mentioned that this whole site is likely to be destroyed by the proposed Ken Betwa Project (KWP).
In fact, there are Amazing number of untold stories of the destruction that the proposed Ken Betwa link will cause. One of them is the story of Raneh Falls. The name is a bit of misnomer, but let us stick to it. Continue reading “Ken Betwa Project to destroy Raneh Falls: India’s Mini Grand Canyon-cum- Mini Niagra”
Bihar wants Farakka barrage to be decommissioned The Nitish Kumar govt has held the Farakka barrage in West Bengal responsible for heavy floods in Bihar and asked the Centre to decommission it to de-silt the heavily loaded upstream of Ganga River. The state has made the recommendation, observing that the dam is the “genesis of severe” flood consequences and responsible for “alarming” silt increase in the river’s upstream. According to sources, Nitish Kumar dispensation has made the demand before an experts’ committee formed by the Centre to work out guidelines for de-silting Ganga following last year’s devastating floods.
As per the statement, decommissioning the barrage will help automatically de-silt the heavily loaded upstream, allowing silt to move to deltas before the sea thus helping in restoration of deltas and its eco-system which is also getting adversely affected due to this barrage. To buttress its point, the state government has referred to Kolkata Port Trust’s data, which suggests that silt dredging at the port has increased from 6.40 million cubic metres annually from pre-Farakka days to four times, i.e. at 21.88 MCM annually, during 2003. The state government has also recommended the panel to come up with ‘National Silt Policy’ to address the problem. Bihar faced one of its worst floods as Ganga swelled in August last year, claiming lives of over 20 persons and affecting 20 lakh people.
Bihar Government has rightly asked for decommissioning of Farakka barrage and held it as the genesis of severe, destructive and prolonged floods that Bihar and other regions upstream from Farakka face year after year. Good to see that Bihar government has officially demanded decommissioning of the Farakka barrage before an expert committee of Ministry of Water Resources. Hope this starts the ball rolling to remove this unnecessary and giant dam on Ganga, which will also help the cause of fisheries (including Hilsa), downstream Bengal and also the river in general. The road cum rail line on the barrage can continue to exist.
Above: A fabulous view of Ken river. Nesting sites of Long-billed vultures are to the right. All will go under water if Ken-Betwa linkup is carried out (Photo by AJT Johnsingh)
PREFACE: Following is a submission by the authors to the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects, sent on Oct 25, 2015, as the EAC was to consider the Ken Betwa River Link Project for Environment Clearance on Oct 27, 2015. The authors had sent a submission to EAC in Aug 2015, when the EAC considered this project for the first time. In response to the various submissions that EAC received on this proposal, including one by the authors and another by SANDRP, among others, the EAC had asked the project proponent, NWDA (National Water Development Agency, an organisation under Union Water Resources Ministry) to provide a point wise reply. The NWDA response can be seen here: http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Online/EDS/0_0_15_Oct_2015_1405329601eac.pdf
One has to wonder that if the Ken-Betwa is such a worthwhile project, why is it necessary for the proponents to lie and obfuscate facts in order to promote it. We are not unreasonable individuals and have no reason not to want people to be benefited by appropriate development. If the project had more overall benefit than detriment, why would everyone not support it. However we find that it is prejudiced, not argued on reason, much is being obscured and alternate views have not been taken into consideration. The project is being undertaken in an area that has been evaluated as important enough to set aside for the tigers’ welfare. High priority must therefore be given to this species; but throughout totally inadequate consideration has been given to this. Continue reading “Ken Betwa River Link Project involves India’s first Major Dam inside National Park: It needs, fresh, credible EIA, not misleading falsehoods from NWDA”