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)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Opinion Hydroelectric power neither green, nor renewable Great to see this from Parul Kumar and Bharath Jairaj: “This article makes the argument that electricity from large hydroelectric power projects is not renewable in nature, and further, does not fulfil the criteria of being low-carbon and emission-free.”

– The authors distinguish ROR projects: “This can be distinguished from smaller “run of the river” hydro projects, where water passes through a turbine and is released downstream without being stored, which is why they are regarded as a renewable source of energy.” There may be a bit of misconception here.

– “On the one hand, there have been no technological advancements that have rendered electricity from large hydro to be re-classified as “renewable”. On the other hand, we are witnessing changes in the nature and flow of rivers, due to changing climate patterns. To categorise power from large hydropower projects as “renewable energy” would be based on a flawed and anachronistic view of the term, since it would assume that all river water — the source of generating such electricity — is infinite” https://www.firstpost.com/india/indias-love-for-hydroelectric-power-is-misplaced-it-isnt-renewable-river-flow-is-erratic-and-mega-dams-dangerous-5891351.html (16 Jan. 2019)

Himachal Pradesh HC refuses to stay land transfer to hydro facility Shocking order by HP HC, at first glance and also clarified by the petitioners. The Himachal Pradesh High Court has refused to stay the transfer of forest land to an Asian Development Bank-funded hydropower project in the state’s Kinnaur district being executed by the state-run Himachal Pradesh Power Corp Ltd.

However, local residents, activists and environmental groups, who are opposing the project, said the court order for the 130 MW Integrated Kashang Stage II and III project is “disappointing”. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/himachal-hc-refuses-to-stay-land-transfer-to-hydro-facility/1457369 (13 Jan. 2019)

DAMS

Agenda of EAC meeting for River Valley Projects to be held on Jan 28, 2019:

  1. Cumulative Impact Assessment and Carrying Capacity Study (CIA & CCS) of Satluj River Basin. Presentation of draft report before the EAC for recommendation of the Study.
  2. Asthi Lift Irrigation Scheme-III in District Beed, Maharashtra by M/s Water Resource Department, Govt. of Maharashtra – reg. reconsideration of EC
  3. Bandu Nala Pumped Storage Project (900 MW) by M/s WBSEDCL located at Sirkabad, Bhuda, Shilingda, Ayodhya, Lohadungri, Gurahata, West Bengal-reg. Fresh ToR
  4. Brutang Major Irrigation Project in Nayagarh District of Odisha by M/s Water Resources Dept, Government of Odisha- reg. Extension of Validity of EC
  5. Nardave Medium Irrigation Project at Nardave, Tal: Kankavali, Dist.: Sindhudurg by M/s Water Resources Department, Konkan Irrigation Development Co., Maharashtra Myakal- reg. Fresh EC
  6. Gimliang HEP (88.5 MW) Project in Anjaw District of Arunachal Pradesh by M/s Sai Krishnodaya Industries Pvt. Ltd-reg. Extension of validity of ToR
  7. Jeera Irrigation Project in the Bargarh District, Odisha by M/s Department of Water Resources, Government of Odisha- reg. Fresh EC
  8. Majhgaon Medium Irrigation project (CCA: 9,000 ha), Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, Water Resource Dept, Madhya Pradesh – reg. reconsideration for EC
  9. PV Narasimha Rao Kanthanapally Sujala Sravanthi Project, Thupakulagudem village, Eturnagaram Mandal, Jayashankar Bhupalapally District, Telangana – reg. Fresh EC
  10. Tapti (Chillure) Irrigation Project by Water Resources Department at Village Naharpur , Dabida, Tehsil: Bhaisdehi , District: Betul M.P – reg. Fresh ToR
  11. Raigam HEP (195 MW) project in Anjaw District of Arunachal Pradesh by M/s Sai Krishnodaya Industries Pvt. Ltd.- Extension of validity of ToR
  12. Upper Krishna Stage III on Krishna river, Karnataka by M/s Krishna Bhagya Jal Laxmi Ltd., Karnataka- reg. reconsideration of EC
  13. Banda Major Irrigation Project, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh by M/s Water Resources Department, Madhya Pradesh – reg. modification of ToR http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/140120194R7F9MXC21_river_valley_EAC_Agenda.pdf

Decisions about Dams/ Water related proposals at FAC meeting held on Dec 19, 2018:

  1. Diversion of 523.046 ha of forest land for construction of Lower Kopili Hydro Electric Project by Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd. (APGCL) under Dima Hasao West Division, Haflong and Hantren Division, Assam. APPROVED.
  2. Diversion of 30.760 ha forest land for construction of Nirandpur Tank in Sagar District, Madhya Pradesh State— regarding.

DECISION: During deliberations and discussion with APCCF (Regional Office), Nodal Officer (FCA) of MP and User agency, FAC noted the concerns raised by the State Government, that more than 90% of work was completed, when further work was kept under abeyance. It was also noted that there are some errors in issuance of the in-principle approval in January 2018. Accordingly, FAC recommended that the order of abeyance be withdrawn and the in-principle approval issued be modified/revoked. Observing that the final approval was issued prior to levying of NPV came into force, FAC further recommended that no NPV be charged from the User agency.

  1. version of 1016 ha of forest land in favor of Executive Engineer, Somasila Project Division —IV Atmaku for Foreshore Submersion & Excavation of canals under SOMASILA Project in Proddatur, Kadapa, Rajampet & Nellore Divisions in Nellore District in the State of Andhra Pradesh — regarding.

DECISION: The proposal is an old one and was received offline. Even though it was time-barred, considering the justification by the State Government, FAC decided to consider this. FAC noted the submission of the state Government that the project had commenced prior to 1980. Later in the yaer 1996-97 Pensula Narasimha Wildlife Sanctuary was declared, which included the project area. After thorough delibrations and discussions with the APCCF (Regional Office), Nodal Officer (FCA) of AP and User agency, FAC recommended for grant of in-principle approval for the diversion of of 1016 ha of forest land in favor of the user agency.

  1. and Mining by the Mechanical Handling/Mechanical Mining (JCB, Shuval Excavator etc.) for construction of Link Canal from Tanakpur Dam between India – Nepal Border by NHPC.

 DECISION: Declined. http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/11111123512161Minutes.PDF

Sardar Sarovar Project CAG detects cost overrun of ₹1.20 lakh cr in irrigation projects This report asks some good questions: It does seem like the Water Resources ministry is besieged by projects that overshoot the budget, period of completion and there seems to un-checked misuse of funds too. Is the water ministry listening or is it also hand-in-glove with such misappropriation?

– In the Comptroller and Auditor General of India report released on January 8, 2019, the combined cost overrun of irrigation projects was ₹1,20,772.05 crore which was 295% of their original aggregate cost of ₹40,943.68 crore. The extent of cost overrun in individual projects ranged between ₹4.40 crore to ₹48,366.88 crore. https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/investigation/cag-detects-water-theft-from-narmada-diversion-and-misuse-of-funds (15 Jan. 2019)

New Dam on Tungabhadra Telangana not to oppose new dam in Karnataka Telangana State government has decided not to oppose the proposal by the Karnataka government to construct a new dam on Tungabhadra river. Karnataka revealed its plans to construct a dam with a capacity of 40 tmcft in the Tungabhadra Board meeting held here last month, as the existing Tungabhadra Dam’s storage capacity was reduced drastically due to silting.

Though it was proposed that 0.5 per cent of silt would be removed from the current dam, opened in 1953, subsequent governments of Karnataka have neglected the same. Now, it has become almost impossible to remove the 37 tmcft silt deposited in the dam. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2019/jan/15/ts-not-to-oppose-new-dam-in-ktaka-1925177.html (15 Jan. 2019)

Paryavaran Rakshak award for TWRDC chairman SOUNDS STRANGE? V Prakash, chairman of Telangana Water Resources Development Corporation (TWRDC), was awarded the ‘Paryavaran Rakshak’ award by Tarun Bharat Sangh, the organisation led by the ‘Waterman of India’ Rajender Singh. The award was presented to Prakash by Tushar Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi at a two-day event on January 15 and 16 in Bhimapura village in Alwar district of Rajasthan. Prakash was chosen for the award for the work done by the Telangana Government and the Corporation in the field of water conservation. The same state government is also implementing India’s costliest ever MEGA irrigation project. https://telanganatoday.com/paryavaran-rakshak-award-for-twrdc-chairman (17 Jan. 2019)

Mekedatu Dam Dispute Nod to ready DPR, not for project, SC told In response to Supreme Court’s notice Central Govt. submits affidavit saying that in-principle clearance for preparing a DPR on Mekedatu balancing reservoir project to Karnataka was granted, subject to resolution of the inter-state matters amicably.

– “The conditional clearance is only for preparing the DPR and it, in no way, conveys clearance by the central government or the Central Water Commission for construction of the project,” the Ministry of Water Resources said in an affidavit.

WATER DISPUTE: The spot, where Karnataka proposes to construct a dam at Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk of Ramanagara district. DH File Photo
The spot, where Karnataka proposes to construct a dam at Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk of Ramanagara district. DH File Photo

– The Centre maintained that the in-principle clearance to the DPR was granted in terms of the ‘guidelines of submission, appraisal and acceptance of irrigation and multi-purpose project-2017’. “However, parameters have not been finalised and fixed at this stage,” it said.

– Besides, the Union govt said the acceptance by Cauvery Water Management Authority would be the “pre-requisite” for consideration of the DPR for techno-economic approval by the advisory committee of Ministry. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/mekedatu-nod-just-ready-dpr-712754.html  (12 Jan. 2019)

Tamil Nadu Salem tremor set off by Mettur dam says expert A Puducherry-based geologist has triggered a debate, suggesting that the tremors felt in some parts of Salem on July 22 morning was caused by the fast-filling Mettur dam in the district. Two other experts have contested the claim.

N Ramanujam, former professor and head of the department of disaster management at Pondicherry University said it was a case of ‘reservoir-induced seismicity’ (RIS), a result of water exerting pressure on the micro-cracks and fissures at the bottom of the reservoir.

In the absence of recorded data in Salem, not many are agreeing to the theory. Former additional director general of Geological Survey of India Prabhas Pande said reservoir induced seismicity had been established in only two reservoirs in India—Koyna and Warna in Maharashtra.

“In the rest of the reservoirs, including the Himalayas and the Indian peninsular, it has not been established. It is most unlikely that the Mettur reservoir would give rise to reservoir induced seismicity,” he said. In fact, Mettur falls within a low seismic zone and the tremor (recorded on Sunday) could be due to other seismic activity, said Pande.

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The tremor, which measured 3.3 on Richter scale and continued for five seconds, was felt in Omallur, Suramangalam, Dharamangalur, Kolathur, Panavadi, Kottayur, Ammapettai and Hasthampatti and in other downstream parts of Mettur dam. The epicentre was at a depth of 15km, at 11.6 latitude north and 78.1 latitude east, he said.

Ramanujam, however, explained his theory: “The faults at the bottom of the dam, though under tremendous tectonic strain from the increased water level, do not slip. The water pressure, however, lubricates the faults and decreases friction of the rock surfaces beneath, making them slip.”

He said the depth of the reservoir and the volume of water play a significant role in triggering tremors. “Reservoir induced seismicity can occur immediately after the filling up of the reservoir or after a time lag,” he said.

Stanley Reservoir popularly called Mettur Dam was desilted recently, enhancing its capacity by 10%. The increase in dam’s capacity has facilitated percolation of water into the subsurface of the dam, said Ramanujam. “Five out of nine earthquakes are believed to be induced by reservoirs in Indian peninsula. The seismic activity around Mettur Dam must be monitored to understand more about RIS and tremors and earthquakes triggered by RIS,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/puducherry/tremor-in-salem-district-was-triggered-by-mettur-dam-says-expert/articleshow/65110803.cms (24 July 2018)

A mild tremor with a magnitude of 3.3 was experienced on July 22 in various parts of Salem district, triggering panic among people who rushed out of their homes. However, no damage was reported, district officials said.

The tremor was felt at Thivattipatti, Ammapettai, Omalur, Tharamangalam and Kannangurichi for a few seconds around 7.50 a.m., they said. The tremor was also felt in and around Mettur dam, which was brimming to full, they added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/mild-tremor-felt-in-tamil-nadus-salem-district/article24488399.ece (22 July 2018)

Mettur dam levels higher than 2018, delta farmers are cautious but optimistic – According to data released by the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority (TNSDMA), the water level as on Jan. 19 in Mettur dam was 72.43 feet against the full reservoir level of 120 feet. The level at Mettur dam stood at 52.07 feet last year.  The inflow and outflow to and from the Mettur reservoir was as high as 1.35 lakh cusecs during the southwest monsoon season of 2018.

– Mettur dam was opened to release water for irrigation purposes in the delta districts — Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Trichy, Ariyalur, Cuddalore and Pudukkottai – on July 19 and will be closed on January 28. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/tns-mettur-dam-levels-higher-2018-delta-farmers-are-cautious-optimistic-95313  (19 Jan. 2019)

Odisha State to host international dam safety conference on Feb. 13  The best practices followed across the global for ensuring safety of aging dams will be among the several issues to be discussed at an international dam safety conference, to be hosted by Odisha next month. The two day programme will begin on Feb. 13, 2019.

Delegates from over 20 countries will deliberate on several issues, including challenges in dam safety management, global best practices in dam safety management and governance, major rehabilitation and other risk reduction investments at the conference.

About Hirakud Spillway- As P K Jena Odisha’s Water Resources Secretary, the govt has finalised plans to build another spillway at Hirakud dam for releasing more flood water as the existing spillway of the dam is not sufficient for managing flood water.

The work contract for the construction has already been awarded and the project would be completed in 3 years with an investment of about Rs. 500 cr, CWC member (design) NK Mathur said. The Hirakud Dam was built in Sambalpur district in 1960s. The length of the spillway would be 91 metre with five sluice gates and the width of the spillway channel would be around 300 meter.

The spillway channel will originate from near the Gandhi Minar on the left dyke of Hirakud reservoir and meet the river Mahanadi near the Jawahar Uddyan. Currently, there are 98 gates to release around 15 lakh cusec of flood water from the dam. Odf the 98 gatges, 64 are sluice gates and the rest 34 are crest gates. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/odisha-to-host-international-dam-safety-conference-next-month/articleshow/67484329.cms (11 Jan. 2019)

Karnataka Govt failed to rehabilitate UKP affected people Thousands of families in North Karnataka, whose land was acquired around five decades ago for the Upper Krishna Project (UKP), are yet to be adequately compensated or rehabilitated by the Karnataka government.

Some 201 villages were affected by the UKP and 136 of them were completely submerged by the waters of the Almatti and Narayanpur reservoirs. People from these villages continue to languish without homes and basic amenities, including drinking water and toilets. Projectdisplaced families continue to be housed at rehabilitation centres without drainage, roads, transportation and primary health centres.

Most of the affected were farmers and farm labourers. Many gave up their fertile wetlands for the Almatti and Narayanpur dam projects but were shifted to areas that are severely water-scarce. In addition to denying them cultivable land, successive governments have not provided them jobs or skills training. Neither have the promised homes materialised for many. Project-affected families received meagre amounts as compensation, with the bulk of the amount due to them eaten up by corrupt officials. This has been the experience of people from villages in Belagavi, Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Raichur, Yadgir and Kalaburagi districts.

Not only did the Karnataka government fail to implement the Karnataka Resettlement of Project Displaced Persons Act, 1987, but it also failed to adopt the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy (NRRP), 2007. Monetary benefits that it extends to the displaced are based on orders issued during the 1989-95 period. The displaced complain that compensation amounts are fixed arbitrarily.

Indeed, the government has not bothered to even conduct a survey to assess the socio-economic situation and problems of those displaced by the UKP. As the 2015 Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report recommended, the government should formulate a comprehensive rehabilitation and resettlement policy for the state in line with NRRP, 2007. A fair compensation to those displaced by UKP’s Phase I and II will facilitate land acquisition for the project’s next phase. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/ukp-river-dammed-people-damned-713086.html (15 Jan. 2019)

Renunka Dam The 30 minutes documentary underlines the cost and impact of Delhi water. http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/6921/Renukaji-In-Delhi-s-Taps–Renukaji-Dilli-Ke-Nalon-Mein-

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Opinion River linking is no smooth-sailing exercise  Very ill informed piece on ILR. It contradicts itself and devoid of science or basic facts. It also ignores the available, better and viable alternatives: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/article26021257.ece (18 Jan. 2019)

IRRIGATION

MoWR Only 38% water use efficiency in agriculture Not clear if this is surface water use irrigation efficiency or combined with groundwater. If former, 38% is too high, 38% may be the highest achieved one. Average is much lower. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/only-38-water-use-efficiency-in-agriculture/articleshow/67562239.cms  (16 Jan. 2019)

OdishaUtilisation of irrigation potential down’ Odisha’s utilisation of irrigation potential has dropped which is a cause for concern, says the latest State Focus Paper brought out by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

“A decreasing trend is noticed in utilisation of irrigation potential. In 2007-08, the utilisation was 80.5%, which has decreased to 63.55% in 2016-17,” says the paper which was released on Jan. 19.

The paper says the utilisation has been far less than the potential, which necessitates enhancement of water-use efficiency through adoption of proper water management practices in addition to appropriate irrigation devices.

In 2014-15, irrigation potential was created for 52.04 lakh ha whereas in the same year it was used in 34.61 lakh ha. In the subsequent year, against irrigation potential created for 54.74 lakh ha, the utilisation was 32.94 lakh ha. In 2016-17, farmers used irrigation facilities in 35.53 lakh ha as against 55.91 lakh ha irrigation potential.

The State has around 29% irrigated land for all major crops as against the national average of 48.6%. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/utilisation-of-irrigation-potential-down-in-odisha/article26046403.ece (21 Jan. 2019)

URBAN RIVERS

Dravyavati, Jaipur A river turned into canal 

Dravyavati River

Very sad, turning a river into a canal is being presented as successful river revival example here. Its also tragic that many other states are reportedly inspire by the concrete canal project. https://www.dnaindia.com/jaipur/report-dravyavati-river-revival-inspires-punjab-2708049 (15 Jan. 2019)

The riverfront development work as part of this project has severely damaged the river ecosystem. The video clearly shows, the project is destroying the river ecosystem in the name of rejuvenation. The riverbed has been flattened, compressed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_8Js4mlkiA

RIVERS

Andhra Pradesh Water quality of rivers falls in ‘C’ category: PCB study Analysis of water quality by AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) drawn from Godavari, Krishna, Nagavalli, Pennar, Tungabhadra and Vamsadhara since 2014 has placed these major rivers under ‘C’ category.

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The quality of water in all major rivers in Andhra Pradesh fall under ‘C’ category. None of the rivers in the state boasts of either ‘A’ or ‘B’ category quality status. Also, there is high presence of coliform bacteria in all the rivers, indicating mixing of human faeces. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/water-quality-of-ap-rivers-falls-in-c-category-finds-appcb-study/articleshow/67594588.cms (19 Jan. 2019)

Maharashtra It is not a mere coincidence that clean, crystal-clear streams and rivers originate from our national parks and sanctuaries. Forests are nature’s design of an efficient and time tested water harvesting system. And saving forests like SGNP and others is a vital smart step that we (human kind), can take to ensure happiness, wellbeing and prosperity for ourselves.

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Image: Dr. Anish Andheria.

GANGA Modi’s clean Ganga plan hinges on private companies tackling sewage. Will it work? M Rajshekhar, in first part of EXCELLENT review of Modi govt’s Ganga Mission concludes: “Four-and-a-half years later, however, contradictory decisions by the government have pushed the Ganga into deeper trouble than before. On one hand, the government has moved to reduce river pollution, mainly by privatising sewage collection and treatment in 97 cities and towns along the river. But the process has been marked by delays. The privatisation model, implemented without a pilot project, has proved to be a failure in Gujarat due to inadequate government supervision.”

– Uma Bharti opposed the hybrid annuity model. She wanted these tenders to be issued by state Jal Nigams, not by the Water Ministry’s National Mission to Clean Ganga as had been proposed. This was despite evidence that in the past, many construction and maintenance contracts issued by state Jal Nigams had gone to politicians and their relatives. For instance, the company running a part of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant at Jajmau, a leather industry cluster just outside Kanpur, is Ganga Infrabuild. Its promoter, Sanjay Mahana, is the brother of Satish Mahana, the local BJP MLA who is also the state industries minister.

– The state government’s line hardened after a meeting in 2016 between Bharti, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav, who was the state Jal Nigam minister at the time, said the water ministry bureaucrat. “After that,” he alleged, “the Samajwadi Party line became, ‘You give us money and we will do this.’”

– When he became water minister in Sept 2017, Nitin Gadkari started by tweaking Shekhar’s approach. He introduced the “one city, one operator” model wherein a single company would be in charge of collecting and treating sewage in each city – in Shekhar’s model, multiple companies would have handled treatment plants in each city. Gadkari’s logic was similar to what the roads ministry had followed under him for its highway toll collection and operation bids – large project sizes weed out smaller companies without the required expertise.

– At the same time, however, the Jal Nigams retained a large role. Under Shekhar’s plan, the state water utilities had no say in choosing project developers. Under Gadkari, the Clean Ganga mission has chosen developers for six cities, while seven more projects are in the pipeline. This will account for about 60% of the pollution. Among the companies that have won bids are Essel Infraprojects, Adani Enterprises, Shapoorji Pallonji. Bids for the remaining 80-odd towns will be handled by the state bodies.

– But redirecting sewage is difficult. Large parts of Indian cities have come up without sewer lines. For instance, Patna, which covers 235 sq km on the south bank of the Ganga and accounts for close to 60% of all domestic sewage flowing into the Ganga in Bihar, has no more than 20 kilometres of sewer lines. In Kanpur, said Ranjan, no more than 30% of the city has a sewer system.

– In most cities, the National Mission to Clean Ganga will not construct sewer systems. Instead, it will build wiers on drains before they empty into the river – and pump their sewage into treatment plants.

– This public private partnership model where a private company treats sewage water – backed by electronic monitoring of treated water quality by the state pollution control board – has been tried in Gujarat. It failed there. Sewage treatment plants in Surat and elsewhere ran pipes from their units into the sea where they discharged untreated slurry. This is a weakness of the “one city, one operator” model as well. The Clean Ganga mission and the Central Pollution Control Board will rely on sensor-based tracking to supervise the sewage plants. But the lack of state capacity to monitor the data on water quality could result in the same outcomes as before.

– Companies bidding for these projects have their own concerns. According to a senior official at Essel Infraprojects, bid sizes for smaller towns will not exceed Rs 100 crore. Since the hybrid annuity model pays developers 60% of the project cost over 15 years, that works out to an annual income below Rs 4 crore. “This amount is too low to interest large companies like us,” he said. “We fear local, unknown companies will pick up these bids.” As in Surat, in the absence of close governmental scrutiny, there will be questions about how these plants meet their treated water targets. https://scroll.in/article/909401/modis-clean-ganga-plan-hinges-on-private-companies-tackling-sewage-will-it-work (15 Jan. 2019)

In part 2 of this review of Modi govt’s Ganga mission, M Rajshekhar narrates how non serious is govt about achieving its stated objectives on Ganga.

https://scroll.in/article/909562/modi-said-he-would-revive-ganga-but-his-government-is-doing-the-opposite-by-reviving-dams  (17 Jan. 2019)

Concluding part:- “There are no forward steps, there are only backward steps.” That concluding quote from part 3 of National Ganga Mission analysis by M Rajshekhar is telling a lot. As he says in his email: “A pretty dismal show from a government which claims to be twice as virtuous as anyone else. And four times more religious. But proves itself to be above average only in terms of its self-interested disingenuousness.”

https://scroll.in/article/909592/three-ways-in-which-the-modi-government-is-ruining-the-ganga-instead-of-cleaning-it

Report Sewers could be making water quality of Ganga river worse Key finding: “Urban populations in the Ganges catchment contribute around 100 times more microbial pollution per head to the river than their rural counterparts. This means that untreated sewage discharged from a sewer appears worse for river water quality than sewage discharge where there are no sewers at all.” Again underlining the need for a National Urban Water Policy. https://theconversation.com/ganges-sewers-could-be-making-water-quality-of-indias-great-river-worse-108146 (17 Jan. 2019)

Kumbh Mela 2019 Largest-ever human gathering At Prayagraj, more than 120m expected for festival as much about politics as sacred waters BY Michael Safi and Kakoli Bhattacharya in Prayagraj. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/15/kumbh-mela-hindus-converge-for-largest-ever-human-gathering-prayagraj-festival  (15 Jan. 2019)

Kumbh Mela,Uttar Pradesh government,Maha Kumbh

The UP Govt allocated Rs 4,200 crore for the Kumbh Mela, which is over thrice the budget of the Maha Kumbh in 2013, making the mega pilgrimage perhaps the costliest ever.  The previous state govt had spent around Rs 1,300 crore for the Maha Kumbh, which was held in 2013. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/at-rs-4-200-crore-2019-kumbh-mela-is-the-costliest-ever/story-v9tmB4xwoKWWwiBXCoqSmO.html (15 Jan. 2019)

YAMUNA Haryana Yamuna river in Panipat:- River starts trickling, drain no. 2 pouring industrial effluents, fish die, groundwater in adjoining areas starts stinking.  (Amar Ujala, 19 Jan. 2019)

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FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Opinion The coast is unclear: on the 2018 CRZ notification Serious implications of CRZ amendments explains Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon:- “Over 3,000 fishing hamlets reside along India’s coast, park and repair their nets and boats and organise their economic and social activities here. The fisheries sector employs 4-9 million people. The self-reliant fisher communities generates ₹48,000-₹75,000 crore for the economy, with almost no support from governments in the form of subsidies…

Even though at least 75 MPs are elected from coastal constituencies fisher people are not a vote bank as they are spread across the coast… The new amendments legalise the setting up of common effluent treatment plants (CETPs), an impractical technology for cleaning up waste, on the most fragile parts of the coast… the law now makes the coasts legitimate receptacles for all waste… Is the capital too far from coastal India to understand this?” https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-coast-is-unclear/article26006723.ece (17 Jan. 2019)

Jammu & Kashmir 119 years later, Danish fish returns to Kashmir In a first in India, Jammu and Kashmir state imported genetically modified Rainbow Trout Seed from Denmark after 119 years to boost annual production from 500 to 5000 tonnes over the next five years.

Principal Secretary Animal, Sheep and Fisheries Department Dr Asghar Hassan Samoon shared the information after inaugurating the hatchery meant for the rearing of genetically improved Rainbow Trout Fish on Jan. 19,  at Beerwah Budgam. A consignment of 2.25 lakh Eyed Ova Rainbow Trout imported from Billud in Denmark River Roheamger were successfully put in for production of broodstock in the state, he said. https://kashmirlife.net/119-years-later-danish-fish-returns-to-kashmir-198700/ (19 Jan. 2019)

Assam Hundreds fish in Indian lake to celebrate harvest Hundreds of villagers take part in a community fishing event in Goroimari lake, Panbari to celebrate a traditional harvest festival called Uruka. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/videos/news/hundreds-fish-in-indian-lake-to-celebrate-harvest.html (16 Jan. 2019)

SAND MINING

Himachal Pradesh Palampur faces threat from rampant mining, deforestation Palampur, is in danger of falling prey to human activity due to man-environment conflict. Deforestation is a major problem here. Deodar trees are slowly disappearing without any systematic plantation work. Moreover, uncontrolled mining and the extraction of sand, stone and gravel threaten important roads and housing colonies.

Palampur is the microcosm of the degradation that is taking place. The banks of the Neugal, Bhiral and Mol streams have widened due to rampant mining. People are encroaching upon forest land. Erosion in cultivated lands and even landslides have become a common feature. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/palampur-faces-threat-from-rampant-mining-deforestation/707666.html (3 Jan. 2019)

Punjab After bridge removal on Ghaggar river, miners use village ring road The removal of an illegal bridge on Ghaggar river in Kakrali village  by drainage department couldn’t deter the unauthorised miners from ferrying sand from the river bed, the villagers claimed. They said the illegal miners have now started using the village’s ring road and carry sand in tractor-trailers that are smaller in size than tipper trucks.

When asked how the illegal miners are crossing the river after the removal of the bridge, a villager explained that tractor-trailers are lighter in weight than the tipper trucks. “They can easily cross the river, which now has only around 3 to 4-feet water. In case a tractor is stuck in the water, it can be towed with another, while it is difficult in case of heavy vehicles like tipper trucks,” he said.

Denying any illegal mining in their village, Kakrali Sarpanch Singh said the villagers are already angry after the administration removed the bridge as it was beneficial for the farmers. “These are baseless allegations, no illegal mining is taking place here,” he said. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/after-removal-of-bridge-sand-miners-now-use-village-ring-road-residents-5544037/ (18 Jan. 2019)

Uttar Pradesh CBI officer investigating mining scam, transferred  As per official sources, DIG Gagandeep Gambhir, the CBI officer who was investigating former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav’s role in the illegal sand mining scam has been transferred to anti-corruption ACIII from special crime unit SCII. Now, Anish Prasad, who was deputy director of CBI, will now be investigating the sand mining scam. https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/cbi-officer-probing-akhilesh-yadavs-role-in-sand-mining-scam-transferred/347767  (15 Jan. 2019)

Tamil Nadu Sand mining ban gone, fears over Palar water sources rise The 5 year blanket ban on sand mining along the Palar river in Kancheepuram district has gone and the govt has commissioned a scientific study to resume sand mining in the district. This has raised concerns among environmentalists who say the indiscriminate mining will deplete water sources.

The blanket ban on sand mining was imposed by the state govt in Kancheepuram district following directions issued by the Madras high court, which had ordered a CBI probe into the illegal sand stockyards in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts during 2013.

Though the district administration extended the ban for a year, it was virtually lifted in Nov. 2017 after it was found that the authorities in Kancheepuram district did not comply with the ban. The blanket ban helped replenish the river course with sand in the past six years, besides increasing the sand deposits at multiple locations.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/concerns-rise-as-ban-on-sand-mining-at-palar-goes/articleshow/67564142.cms (17 Jan. 2019)

Kerala NGT seeks report on Kollam sand mining NGT asked Kollam district administration to furnish a report within a month after taking note of 17-year-old girl’s viral video on environmental impact of sand mining activity in her coastal village of Alappad in Kerala. The matter will now be heard on March 29.

– The news report has mentioned about Kavya S, a class 12 student, who made the video about the environmental impact of the decades-long black sand mining activity in her village Alappad. https://www.ndtv.com/kerala-news/green-court-seeks-report-on-kollam-sand-mining-after-kerala-girls-video-1978664  (16 Jan. 2019)

Telangana Police seize 2 tractors involved in illegal sand mining The Kodangal police seized two tractors, used for transporting the sand mined illegally, in Nitoor village on the outskirts of Doulatabad mandal on Jan. 14. According to police, a few villagers connived with sand mafia in Kodangal have been involving in illegal sand mining for the last few days. Upon receiving a complaint, the Kodangal police along with revenue officials apprehended the people involved in the illegal sand mining and seized two tractors from them. https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2019-01-15/Illegal-sand-mining-Police-seize-two-tractors-/475691 (15 Jan. 2019)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Haryana To reclaim marsh land, minister proposes to create bund along Najafgarh lake The Haryana govt may be backtracking from its commitment to declare the Najafgarh lake and its influence area a wetland. State forest minister Rao Narbir Singh rolled out a proposal to build a bund on a portion of the marshes to reclaim land belonging to local farmers submerged under spillage from the eponymous lake and drain.

Najafgarh lake to be dammed? Alarm bells ring for wetland, flooding-prone city

In 2016, the govt had submitted a brief in the NGT and MoEF committing to notify Najafgarh lake and the surrounding marshes — which lie on the Haryana-Delhi border, giving both states jurisdiction — as a wetland. The document requests the Union ministry to notify 300 acres in Kherki Majra and Dhankot near the lake as a wetland. A 5 sqkm area remains underwater perennially, turning the surroundings of the lake into a wetland that is now known for a rich avian ecosystem.

The 7km-long Najafgarh lake and the drain are the only outlets for floodwater from Gurugran, which is already battling a flooding problem hugely disproportionate with the rainfall it receives. The lake and surrounding marshes are also an important habitat for many plant species and over 280 bird species, including greater flamingos, sarus cranes and greater white pelicans.

According to local farmers, around 5,500 acres of land in eight villages — Dharampur, Momdheri, Daultabad, Kherki Majra, Dhankot, Chandu, Budhera and Makrola — remain flooded most of the year, preventing them from farming on it. Last week, the minister said if farmers sell 94 acres of their land to the govt at market price, a bund could be built on it to prevent the area from flooding. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/najafgarh-lake-to-be-dammed-alarm-bells-ring-for-wetland-flooding-prone-city/articleshow/67373464.cms  (4 Jan. 2019)

50% dip in winged visitors at Delhi’s Najafgarh The migratory bird count at Najafgarh jheel and drain fell nearly 50% compared with the same period last year, the Asian Waterbird Census 2019 has revealed. The census, on for a week, will end on Jan. 17 at Sultanpur National Park.

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AWC is the largest waterbird census in Asia and is done with the help of Wetlands International – a global wetland conservation organisation across 27 other countries. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/climate-change-50-dip-in-winged-visitors-at-najafgarh/articleshow/67563780.cms (17 Jan. 2019)

Punjab State has prepared action plan for wetlands The Punjab Govt has told the High Court that it has prepared an action plan for the preservation of wetlands in the state and the same was in the process of being implemented. As a suo motu or “court on its own motion” case against the Union of India and another respondent came up for resumed hearing, the HC also called for a “fresh status report” on progress made for the implementation of the action plan.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Arun Palli also took on record a status report filed by the state. Taking up the matter, the Bench asserted that it had been brought to its notice that the validity of the Wetlands (Conservation and Maintenance) Rules, 2017, was under challenge before the apex court. The Bench added that it deemed it appropriate to await the outcome of the proceedings pending before the SC before directing the listing of the matter after three months.

Taking up a related petition alleging unauthorised constructions in and around the Harike wildlife sanctuary in Punjab, the HC had earlier put the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Punjab on notice. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/state-has-prepared-action-plan-for-wetlands-hc-told/714284.html (16 Jan. 2019)

Karnataka BBMP workers segregate waste near local water bodies According to the report, the prime garbage segregation areas for the BBMP contractors are Gangashetty Lake, Vengaiah Lake and Yelemalappa Chetty Lake (YMC) Lake. In addition to these, the garbage is also collected at the Mahadevpura Lake as well.

The report also says that JCB’s are being deployed to raze the land near the lake in order to convert it into a segregation spot. The garbage segregators say that there is no space in the city to segregate waste.

The activity has turned the lakes unfit for fishing and in past sometimes the fishing activity has stopped at Gangashetty lake. 
The activity has turned the lakes unfit for fishing and in past sometimes the fishing activity has stopped at Gangashetty lake.   |  Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Volunteers mentioned that the contractors burn mounds of garbage at night, leaving the lakebed and the areas nearby polluted. The problem deepens during the rainy season when the waste seeps into water bodies, hence polluting it. The activity has turned the lakes unfit for fishing and in past sometimes the fishing activity has stopped at Gangashetty lake. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/civic-issues/article/bengaluru-water-pollution-woes-bbmp-workers-segregate-waste-near-local-water-bodies/347995 (15 Jan. 2019)

Varthur lake in Bengaluru catches fire again, migratory birds at risk A month after the NGT imposed Rs 50 crore penalty on Karnataka for neglecting two lakes, one of them Varthur lake – again caught fire around 2 pm on Jan. 20. People living in the vicinity spotted thick smoke billowing over the Varthur lake.

Locals said Varthur lake caught fire at three different spots and the fire started spreading quickly. The thick plumes of smoke could also be seen some 2 km away from the lake. The fire destroyed nearly 20 acres of land of a small island in the lake. The fire incident comes at a time when migratory birds flock to the lake. The fire reportedly destroyed many nests on the islands.

The exact reason that led to the fire has not been ascertained yet. Jagadish Reddy, an activist said the fire could have been triggered by the presence of chemicals in it. He also said despite the lake being already polluted with sewage, effluents, construction and demolition waste, people continue to dump garbage and debris into it. As per Reddy, segregation of solid waste near the lake is also a reason behind the fire because workers segregate whatever they see of value in the waste and dump the rest into the lake.

In March 2017, Varthur lake caught fire after some people burned garbage near the lake’s inlet. In January 2018, another lake in Bengaluru–the Bellandur lake–caught fire and the operation to douse it went on for over 10 hours. The Bellandur lake caught fire 11 times in 2018 alone and once in January 2019. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/varthur-lake-bengaluru-fire-migratory-birds-risk-1435322-2019-01-21 (21 Jan. 2019)

On Dec. 30, a huge fire broke out in the buffer zone of Bellandur Lake, the tenth such incident this year. It took lake marshals and the fire and emergency department nearly two hours to douse the flames. According to Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) officials, the fire started around 4.15 pm and spread rapidly. The first fire incident occurred in January. Sunday’s fire is the second such incident in December alone. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/major-fire-buffer-zone-710660.html (31 Dec. 2018)

Dead fish found floating in Seegehalli lake Locals residing near the Seegehalli lake woke up on Dec. 29 morning to the sight of thousands of dead fishes floating on the banks of the lake. A similar instance was reported at the city’s Madiwala lake earlier this year.

Thousands of dead fish found floating on Seegehalli lake
Water from the lake has been sent for examination (Representative Image)  |  Photo Credit: BCCL

Residents said that inflow of underground drainage (UGD) into the water body may have led to the decimation of marine life. They also claim that the lake’s design is flawed since the inlet pipe is directly connected to the storm water drain. Therefore, the SWD overflows and silt gets deposited every time it rains even a little.

In Oct. 2018, a similar incident was reported from the Madiwala lake where dead fish and snails were found floating on the surface in thousands. Citizens claim that these instances are the result of pollution of the city’s water bodies by residents in addition to the discharge of effluents into them. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/civic-issues/article/karnataka-bengaluru-bangalore-water-bodies-seegehalli-madiwala-bellandur-varthur-lake-dead-fish-thousands/339199 (30 Dec. 2018)

Locals clean sewage-filled Mylasandra lake after authorities fail Locals of Mylasandra and Rajarajeshwarinagar were congratulated for coming together to fight against the illegal dumping of solid and sewage waste into Mylasandra Lake. They successfully cleaned up the locality and fixed the sewage line that brought waste into the lake.  The water body was under the Karnataka forest department since 2012. However, locals claimed that the state forest department was not maintaining the lake.

The lake, which was a blissful sight with lush greenery and ducks some years ago, used to be visited by people regularly. However, it has now turned into a sewage-filled lake. A sewage line from a private hostel in the area used to carry sanitary and plastic waste to the lake. The 1 km long sewage pipeline was polluting the water body by transferring all the sewage into it. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/society/article/bengaluru-locals-take-charge-to-clean-sewage-filled-mylasandra-lake-after-authorities-fail-to-maintain-it/350705 (20 Jan. 2019)

Tamil Nadu Indigenous flora in Chennai wetlands under threat  Care Earth Trust study finds that nearly half of the native plant species in the Chennai city’s wetlands have been wiped out in recent years, indicative of the degradation of wetlands.

– As per the study Retteri or Madhavaram lake and Pallikaranai marshland are among the worst affected wetlands in the city. About 60% of the plant species have been overrun by invasive species in the past two years. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/indigenous-flora-in-city-wetlands-under-threat/article26039519.ece (19 Jan. 2019)

Flamingo fete a huge draw at Pulicat lake The Flamingo Festival had a flying start on Sunday with tourists, both domestic and foreign, making a beeline for the picturesque Pulicat lake, a safe haven for migratory birds. It was a virtual treat for bird watchers as over 90,000 birds have come from far away places to the lake this year, though belated in view of the late arrival of northeast monsoon and failure of southwest monsoon.

Global journey:An array of migratory birds providing a picturesque sight at the Pulicat lake.Kommuri SrinivasThe Hindu
Global journey:An array of migratory birds providing a picturesque sight at the Pulicat lake.Kommuri SrinivasThe Hindu  

The lake is the second largest brackish water ecosystem in the country after the Chilika lake in Odisha. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/nature-lovers-throng-pulicat-lake-for-flamingo-fete/article26046066.ece (21 Jan. 2019)  

GROUNDWATER

Op-Ed Time to tax groundwater Strange advocacy from the writers who are Member (Official), Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, New Delhi, for implementing mindless CGWA notification of Dec 12, 2018, which NGT has rejected, saying it is not to be implemented.  https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/its-time-to-tax-groundwater-use/article25994382.ece (14 Jan. 2019)

Kerala Groundwater Monitoring to go hi-tech State Groundwater Department plans to introduce Digital Water Level Recorders (DWLR) at its observatories and MODFLOW, a U.S. software widely used for groundwater flow modelling, for the job.

– With the new system in place, the department would have access to real-time data on groundwater flow in various parts of the State, Justin Mohan, director, State Groundwater Department, said. The initiative is part of the National Hydrology Project (NHP), a World Bank-funded programme of the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

– The Groundwater Department has 756 observatories across the State that keep an eye on groundwater levels. At present, data are collected manually on a monthly basis. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/groundwater-monitoring-to-go-hi-tech/article25987420.ece (14 Jan. 2019)

Telangana 46 units of groundwater sources overused: Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal As many as 46 units of groundwater resources in Telangana are overexploited by households, packaged drinking water companies and mining/infrastructure dewatering projects, revealed Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal a few days ago, while answering a question in Lok Sabha.

– “These units are not individual borewells but village blocks, taluks and mandals and have been termed ‘critical’,” the minister revealed, adding that 74 units have been termed ‘semi critical’ while the level of water in 443 units were rendered safe.

– The data provided by the Centre also listed out other States, among which Tamil Nadu seemed to be the worst off with 358 units of groundwater resources overexploited. Rajasthan came to a distant second with 164 groundwater resource units termed ‘overexploited’. In contrast, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and few other States recorded no overexploited groundwater resources. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2019/jan/15/46-units-of-groundwater-sources-in-ts-overused-1925192.html (15 Jan. 2019)  

Punjab CM announces pilot project for desalination of groundwater CM Amarinder Singh on Jan. 19 announced a pilot project for desalination of groundwater at a cost of Rs 25 crores to ensure clean potable water to the residents of southern Punjab villages. The water for desalination would be taken from around 100 waterlogged villages of Fazilka and Abohar areas of southern Punjab.

– The CM further said that after reviewing the success of this pilot project in Malwa belt, the state government would go for installing other such plants in different parts of the state to ensure clean potable water.   https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/punjab-cm-announces-pilot-project-for-desalination-of-groundwater/1461448 (19 Jan. 2019)

URBAN WATER

Tamil Nadu Chennai officials seize water tankers for illegally extracting water Following a report about rampant illegal water extraction in Kovilambakkam, the Sholinganallur taluk tahsildar visited the spot on Jan. 14 and seized two water tankers.

“While residents in the area suffer due to water scarcity during summer, some people illegally extract the groundwater here and make over Rs 2 lakh profit every month,” said J Sankar, a resident. Another resident said after officials acted on the issue, Doss, the land and well owner who allowed illegal water extraction for over 15 years, abused local residents for raising voice against the issue.

There are rumours that water tanker associations would enter a strike if police do not release the two tankers. Officials, however, said further action would be taken. Residents said the revenue inspector asked them to file a complaint with the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board to disrupt power supply to the well. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/officials-seize-water-tankers-for-illegally-extracting-water/articleshow/67564103.cms (17 Jan. 2019)

Maharashtra PMC failed to reduce water demand, irrigation dept shuts down pumps at Khadakwasla dam The irrigation department closed the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)-owned water pumps at the Khadakwasla dam on Jan 16, hampering the city’s water supply for the third time.

The scuffle between the civic body and the irrigation department has now heated up with the mayor Mukta Tilak intervening in the issue. “The irrigation department officials are not listening to CM Devendra Fadnavis and Guardian Minister Girish Bapat’s instruction. They are repeatedly taking such actions and causing inconvenience to the residents of Pune,” Tilak said.

The irrigation department officials shut down two water pumping metres out of four at Khadakwasla and hence, PMC was not able to lift enough water from the dam. The irrigation department officials confirmed that they had taken this action as despite repeated warnings, the PMC did not reduce the city’s water supply. https://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/irrigation-department-shuts-down-pumps-at-khadakwasla-dam-cuts-pune-s-water-supply/story-9oV6JuTXHvvDiFeBduzpOK.html (17 Jan. 2019) 

Gujarat Residents claim liquor in water taps, RMC says it’s gutter water  Ambedkarnagar residents in Rajkot found country-made liquor flowing instead of water on Jan. 16. When some residents of the area complained to the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC), a team of RMC officials went to the lane 10 of Ambedkarnagar to investigate the claim made by local residents.

“The locals alleged that some bootleggers had thrown raw material used for brewing country made liquor into the main gutter of the area. Also, there was a leakage in the pipeline supplying water to the area and the liquor material had seeped into the pipeline,” said an RMC official. However, when contacted RMC city engineer M R Kamalia maintained that gutter water had got mixed with drinking water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/locals-claim-liquor-in-water-taps-rmc-says-its-gutter-water/articleshow/67579121.cms (18 Jan. 2019)

WATER POLLUTION

Maharashtra 3  labourers die after entering gas-filled chamber in STP 3 labourers, including one in his late teens, died after entering a gas-filled chamber in a STP at Mira Road on Jan. 16. Another labourer is critical after the incident that took place during a cleaning exercise at the plant run by Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation in Shanti Park. According to a statement from the civic body, the men entered the chamber without any safety gear. The incident comes less than a week after two conservancy workers and a contractor suffocated to death inside a manhole in Panvel.

The plant, one often operated by the civic body in the city, is handled by a private firm named SPML Infra under a five-year contract for operational maintenance. The firm, however, has sub-contracted another company, Tandon and Associates, to oversee day-to-day operations at the plant where the mishap occurred, further stated the civic body, adding that the two-metre deep chamber did not require manual cleaning. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/mumbai-three-labourers-die-after-entering-gas-filled-chamber-in-sewage-treatment-plant-5542216/  (17 Jan. 2019)

Delhi Sanitation worker suffocates to death A 37-year-old contractual sanitation worker died after he entered to clean a clogged drain in north Delhi’s Wazirabad on Jan. 20. DCP (North) Nupur Prasad said the missing worker, identified as Krishan, was a resident of Sri Ram JJ Cluster. The workers told the police that they had been hired by the contractor, identified as Anil, at Rs. 400 per day and had not been provided any safety kit. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/sanitation-worker-suffocates-to-death-in-north-delhi/article26046608.ece (21 Jan. 2019)

DROUGHT 

Exceptional water deficits forecast for Gujarat, Maharashtra & Karnataka ISCIENCES forecast for South Asia dated Dec 17, 2018 for the period to Aug 2019: THE BIG PICTURE:- The 12-month forecast through August 2019 indicates intense water deficits throughout India’s southern half including exceptional deficits in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, as well as Bihar in the eastern Gangetic Plain.

ISciences_SouthAsia_R201811_3mo_quad_pic.png

Severe to extreme deficits are forecast for India’s Far Northeast reaching into Bhutan. Moderate deficits are expected in southwestern Afghanistan and southern Pakistan. https://www.isciences.com/blog/2018/12/17/south-asia-exceptional-water-deficits-forecast-for-gujarat-maharashtra-karnataka  (17 Dec. 2018)

Maharashtra Drought situation gets worse as villagers struggle for drinking water A ground report reveals that Marathwada village which has 8 districts and is 350 km away from Mumbai, is seeing the worst of all times. The villagers in Marathwada are fighting a constant battle in an attempt to get water for their crops and cattle. Another part of this list is the Jalna district which is facing similar issues.

The report also says that the district administration and the government, both have failed to provide adequate water to the villagers. It was also observed that the summer crops (also called Kharif crops) had suffered damaged due to the drought. However, the winter crops (also known as Rabi crops) could not be sown due to the lack of water. The drought has also led to a decrease in the land prices and people are not willing to buy it. This has closed the last door of hope for various farmers who wanted to make both ends meet by selling off their properties. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/civic-issues/article/maharashtra-drought-situation-gets-worse-villager-struggle-for-drinking-water/349287  (17 Jan. 2019)

16,000 illages made free of water scarcity: CM Through initiatives such as the Jalyukt Shivar water conservation scheme, the BJP-led Maharashtra govt has made 16,000 villages free of water scarcity, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Jan. 16. He was speaking at an international conference on micro-irrigation in Aurangabad.

While the BJP-led state govt has put a lot of stress on village-level water conservation projects, the state faced a poor monsoon in 2018, forcing it to declare drought in 151 tehsils in 26 out of the total 36 districts. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/in-maharashtra-16-000-villages-made-free-of-water-scarcity-chief-minister-devendra-fadnavis-197885 (17 Jan. 2019)

Opinion Mega water crisis ahead, says expert India is staring at a dangerous drought situation ahead unless there is provision of water by March, warns senior journalist Mr P. Sainath.

According to experts, India is likely to face a mega water crisis and the primarily reason is transfer of water from rural to urban, agriculture to industry, livelihood to lifestyle.  He was speaking at a talk organised by Manthan Samvaad, a city-based forum that promotes intelligent conversation and public disclosure. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/200119/mega-water-crisis-ahead-says-expert.html (20 Jan . 2019)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Chandigarh plans solar plants on seasonal rivulets The Chandigarh Renewal Energy, Science and Technology Promotion Society (CREST) has now decided to install solar plants on Patiala ki Rao, a seasonal rivulet in Chandigarh. A senior UT official said that they had already planned a solar plant on N-choe, but now they have also decided to install solar plants on Patiala ki Rao. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/chandigarh-plans-solar-plants-on-seasonal-rivulets/67571531 (17 Jan. 2019) 

SOUTH ASIA

Nepal A journey down the Karnali: Living in fear of floods Ramesh Bhushal’s Journey along the KARNALI RIVER (The river is called Mapcha Khambab in Tibet) starts from a small village, VERY interestingly called HILSA on Nepal’s northern border with Tibet, the river starts about 80 km upstream from Tibet. This is the first part about floods that the river brings. The Chinese have built a hydropower dam on the river a few kilometres upstream from the border, which has increased fear among the Nepalis living next to the border.

Hilsa along the Karnali river seen from Nepal-Tibet border in Humla. Hilsa sits on the left bank and the huge immigration office on the right bank is China [image by: Nabin Baral]

– Apart from floods and landslides, studies warn that a mega earthquake is looming in Nepal’s western region after a big quake in central region in 2015 killed more than 10,000 people. It’s been more than 300 years since the last mega earthquake struck western Nepal. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2019/01/07/a-journey-down-the-karnali-living-in-fear-of-floods/  (7 Jan. 2019)

Part 2 of the journey: Twinkuna, in Dailekh district of western Nepal. This is the proposed site for Nepal’s largest hydropower dam – the 900 megawatt (MW) Upper Karnali.

– In 2008 an Indian company, GMR one of the biggest infrastructure companies in the country, received a deal to carry out a detailed study, but a decade later the project is yet to take off. The company signed the project development agreement four years ago but has not yet managed to attract investors.

Women in Kapri village Bajura preparing millet for use after harvest. Due to lack of electricity they grind grains manually in traditional grinding mill [image by Nabin Baral]

– Megh Ale—the team leader of our scientific expedition — believes the main stream of the Karnali should be left free flowing, “We can bring millions of tourists here while other tributaries could be used for electricity,” he said. The Karnali is a world class river for white water rafting. Tourism is not the only thing suffering. “It’s clear that aquatic lives have been threatened by hydropower across the country and if it continues many species will go extinct soon,” said Deep Narayan Shah, a researcher from Nepal’s Tribhuvan University’s Central Department of Environmental Science.

– The chief minister of Karnali province, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, said there has to be greater understanding about river ecosystems and suffering of people, who are critically dependent on the river and its resources, like fish. “We may revisit the agreement done with GMR and I have told them that it won’t go ahead as agreed,” he said on the banks of Karnali River while spending a night with our scientific expedition team, who were following the river from the source in Tibet to the confluence in India. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2019/01/08/dams-and-dreams-a-journey-down-the-karnali/  (8 Jan. 2019) The video of the river journey: https://vimeo.com/309778571

Nepal’s hydropower boom needs strategic assessment and public oversight Eugene Simonov on Nepal Hydropower developments: “Without a comprehensive plan for its hydropower sector, Nepal suffers the fate of a resource-rich country that cannot use its abundance well” https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2019/01/16/nepals-hydropower-boom-needs-strategic-assessment-and-public-oversight/  (16 Jan. 2019)

International hydro expo begins in Nepal Himalayan Hydro Expo, an international expo with participation of hydropower producers, hydro equipment manufacturers and electrical equipments kicked off here on Jan 18, 2019. Nepal Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun inaugurated the three-day expo which more than 85 exhibitors from various countries including Nepal, China, India, Bulgaria, Austria, Germany, South Korea, Sweden and Britain have participated, according to the organizer — Independent Power Producers’ Association Nepal (IPPAN). http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-01/18/c_137755664.htm  (18 Feb. 2019)

Bhutan Rs 4.5K crore Mangdechhu HEP to start producing by end of next month The 720 MW Mangdechhu project start has been delayed from original July 2017 to now possibly Feb 2019, cost has gone up from Rs 2900 Cr to 4500 and possibly more, with 30% grant and 70% loan.

– The per unit tariff is agreed at INR 4.12. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/4-5k-crore-hydro-project-mangdechhu-to-start-producing-by-end-of-next-month/articleshow/67528519.cms  (14 Jan. 2019)

Pakistan Talk32 Using Roads for Water LEAD PAKISTAN Webinar on Jan 31, 2019: On Managing Shared Basins Using Roads for Water. On impacts of ROADS on water management and how to improve that. For in person registration, please visit http://www.lead.org.pk/talks/ For online participation, visit www.lead.org.pk/webinar  http://www.lead.org.pk/talks/  (Jan. 2019)

CHINA

China approves 2000Mw Lawa HEP on Yangtze river  China has approved construction of one of its tallest dams, a 239-metre (784-foot) 4X500 MW hydroelectric structure on the upstream section of the Yangtze.

The reservoir of the USD 4.59 Bln Lawa project will submerge nearly 31 sq km of forest and farmland on the Jinsha branch of the Yangtze on the border between Sichuan and Tibet. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/china-approves-large-new-upstream-dam-project-on-the-yangtze-river/67538100 (15 Jan. 2019)

ASIA

Mekong River From Tibet to seven dragons, Mekong Delta losing sand Upstream damming and extensive mining of the Mekong’s riverbed for sand is causing the land between the sprawling network of rivers and channels near the mouth of one of the world’s great rivers to sink at a pace of around 2 cm (0.75 inches) a year, experts and officials said.

The 4,350 km (2,700-mile) river, known as the Lancang in its upper reaches, flows from China’s Tibetan Plateau along the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, through Cambodia and finally Vietnam, where it forms the delta known in Vietnam as the “Nine Dragons”.

Reuters visited three provinces straddling different branches of the delta, where it has supported farming and fishing communities for millennia. Across the region, local authorities are struggling with a rapid pace of erosion that is destroying homes and threatening livelihoods in the Southeast Asian country’s largest rice-growing region. A key cause is the years of upstream damming in Cambodia, Laos and China that has removed crucial sediment, local officials and experts said.

That sediment, vital for checking the mighty Mekong’s currents, has also been lost due to an insatiable demand for sand – a key ingredient in concrete and other construction materials in fast-developing Vietnam – that has created a market both at home and abroad for unregulated mining.

“It’s not a problem of the lack of water, it’s the lack of sediment,” said Duong Van Ni, an expert on the Mekong River at the College of Natural Resources Management of Can Tho University, the largest city in the Mekong Delta region.

“SAND NEVER REACHES US”:-  At this time of year the waters of the Mekong used to flow into Vietnam as a milky-brown crawl, locals and officials said. Now, the river runs clear. And without fresh sediment from upstream, the deeper riverbed creates stronger currents, which in turn eat away at the banks of the Mekong, where those who rely on the river for their livelihoods have their homes.

The problems began when China built its first hydropower plants in the Upper Mekong Basin, said Ni at Can Tho University. That left Laos, Cambodia and Thailand as the main source of sediment for the Mekong in Vietnam, he said.

Sand mining in Cambodia boomed over the last 10 years, fueled in part by demand from wealthy but cramped Singapore, where it is used to reclaim land along its coast, and culminating in a government ban of all Cambodian sand exports in 2017 under pressure from environmental groups.

Hydroelectric projects have continued, however. Earlier this month, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen opened a $816 million hydroelectric dam in Stung Treng province, near the border with Laos, built by companies from China, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The new dam is the southeast Asian country’s biggest hydroelectric project to date and will have a catastrophic impact on fisheries and biodiversity in the Mekong river, environmental groups have said. Hun Sen has dismissed criticism of the project, which he says benefits Cambodia and its people. https://en.prothomalo.com/environment/news/189673/From-Tibet-to-seven-dragons-Mekong-Delta-losing (14 Jan. 2019)

Vietnam Sand mining threatens a way of life Video report shows that an appetite for sand from  Mekong river has meant costly consequences for residents living along its shores: they live in constant fear that their homes might collapse at any moment. Grace Lee reports. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/videos/news/sand-mining-threatens-a-way-of-life-in-vietnam.html (14 Jan. 2019)

Turkey Ancint town to be submerged by dam project  The small town of Hasankeyf, in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast, inhabited for 12,000 years, is doomed to disappear in the coming months. An artificial lake, part of the Ilisu hydroelectric dam project, will swallow it up. The dam, which will be Turkey’s second largest, has been built further downstream the Tigris. Ilisu is a central element of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), a land development plan to boost the economy of the long-neglected region, through hydroelectric energy and irrigation.

Confronted with the imminent flooding of their town and a hundred villages, the 3,000 habitants of Hasankeyf are divided. While some are angry at the sacrifice being imposed on them, others are impatient for the economic benefits promised by Ankara.

A glimpse of Hasankeyf, Turkey at sunset. Image credit: Arcae
A glimpse of Hasankeyf, Turkey at sunset. Image credit: Arcae

But the Turkish govt dismisses the criticism, arguing that everything has been done to save the monuments. During the inauguration of the Ilisu construction site in 2006, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, promised the dam would bring “the greatest benefit” to local people.  Part of this promise involves building a “new Hasankeyf” on the other side of the river, with spacious flats and an ultra-modern hospital.

But the construction work drags on. Engineers are still awaiting the green light from Erdogan to close a third floodgate and complete the retention of the water, a process launched last summer. After that, a three-month countdown will begin for Hasankeyf before it disappears beneath the Tigris.

In 1981, Hasankeyf was classified as a special conservation zone with a ban on construction that kept investors away. That lack of investment meant fewer jobs and many residents chose to move away for work or larger homes. https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/12000-year-old-town-in-turkey-soon-to-be-submerged-underwater-by-dam-project-5855421.html (08 Jan. 2019)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Columbia New Problems at under construction HIDROITUANGO DAM On Jan. 10, EPM (the dam operator) announced in a press conference that a significant void had been discovered in the rock mass close to the dam. “This finding according to Maya Salazar occurred during the drilling work that was being done to close the gates of the powerhouse. The manager indicated that two holes were made between the unloading tunnels 1 and 2 that connect to the machine house, “the first excavation was through rock and perfect, nothing was found. Then in the second perforation, not vertically but diagonally, at 30 or 40 meters there is a vacuum, which tells us that there is a scour”. It’s not clear as to whether this is a void made by the flow of water since the problems started, or it had been present from the start. Either way, this appears to be deeply problematic for the project.

hidroituango
The machine house at the the Hidroituango dam prior to the flood. Works are now under way to ascertain the level of damage. Image via: https://www.ituangoenergiadecolombia.com/

– Meanwhile, works are underway now to start to ascertain the level of damage to the powerhouse, induced when water flooded the tunnels in an uncontrolled manner last year.  To this end, one of the two open gates (Gate 2) to the machine house will be closed now, with the second being closed in a few weeks.  Most of the dam has been evacuated, and warnings remain in place downstream. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2019/01/16/hidroituango-1-2/  (16 Jan. 2019)

USD 5 Billion 2400 MW Hidroituango dam in Colombia where construction began in 2010 in a mountainous, seismically unstable region: EPM (Empresa Publicas de Medellín) discovered on Jan. 10, a 40-meter deep sinkhole that has been leaking water into the dam’s physical structure when the Cauca River broke its banks due to heavy rainfall. Workers are now responding to this latest emergency that entails the preventive closure of one of two 48 tonne floodgates in order to mitigate damage to the project and save the turbine rooms. The turbine rooms were purposefully flooded last May to prevent the dam from bursting. https://thecitypaperbogota.com/news/duque-monitors-preventive-floodgate-closure-at-hidroituango/21239 (16 Jan. 2019)

Hidroituango Dam in Colombia: Some more information: The verdict is that the void in the mountain, which had already been identified, is providing a direct link between the two tunnels. In July 2018 Vice-President of Energy Generation at EPM described the presence of two major faults running through the mountain in the area of the powerhouse cavern.

Thus, the integrity of the rock in which the excavations have been undertaken might be somewhat weaker than might have been anticipated.  In both representations the two faults appear to define a wedge.  It is difficult to anticipate the behaviour of this wedge in the aftermath of excavation. It is hard not to conclude that something has gone wrong in terms of the engineering geology of this site.  If so, how did that happen in a $5 billion project? https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2019/01/18/hidroituango-geology/  (18 Jan. 2019)

South Carolina As dams crumble, SC lawmakers move to weaken state’s dam safety law The state Legislature is moving to weaken substantially South Carolina’s dam-safety law, despite four years of intense storms that have destroyed dams across the state. Legislation now before the state Senate would remove more than 1,600 of the state’s 2,400 regulated dams from government oversight, including some dams considered significant hazards to downstream property. Dam-safety advocates decried the plan during a hearing. Hurricanes and floods have caused about 80 S.C. dams to break since 2015. Historically, South Carolina has had one of the country’s weakest dam-safety programs. https://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article224612170.html (16 Jan. 2019)

America Farms, more productive than ever, are poisoning drinking water in rural areas Runoff from fields is largely exempt from federal regulation. Many water utilities in the Midwest are struggling to pay for flushing farm runoff from their systems, say scientists and utility managers. Close to 500 public water systems in the U.S. exceeded federal nitrate limits in 2016, according to Environmental Protection Agency data. That is a sliver of the nation’s 151,000 water systems but a 13% increase from the portion that surpassed the limit two decades earlier.

Towns sometimes abandon contaminated wells or mix water from multiple wells to dilute contaminants instead of making expensive treatment upgrades, say researchers such as Bruce Dvorak, a University of Nebraska civil-engineering professor. Some small towns hesitate to pressure farmers, who generate jobs and tax revenue.

“It’s a broken system,” says Bill Stowe, chief executive of Des Moines Water Works, referring to how municipalities must pay for contamination from upstream farms. His utility lost a federal lawsuit in 2017 to force three counties to clean farm runoff draining into the Iowa capital’s drinking water. https://www.wsj.com/articles/farms-more-productive-than-ever-are-poisoning-drinking-water-in-rural-america-11547826031 (18 Jan. 2019)

Once Polluted and Reviled, the Chicago River Bounces Back Pictorial report on Chicago riverfront development:- The Mayor Richard M. Daley administration, when Carol Ross Barney, a Chicago architect, was tapped by city officials to design an elegant promenade along the river.

There are other worries, too. Sewage overflows have left some questioning the levels of bacteria still floating in the river, even as kayakers paddle through it. And the river is not done: Other stretches still await the possibility of redevelopmenthttps://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/02/us/chicago-river-waterfront.html (2 Aug. 2018)

Australia State to pump oxygen into rivers as fish die New South Wales state government in Australia on Jan 15, 2019 announced plans to mechanically pump oxygen into lakes and rivers after hundreds of thousands of fish have died in heatwave conditions.

Up to a million dead fish were found floating last week in the Darling River in western New South Wales state and the state government announced that 1,800 more rotting fish had since been found in Lake Hume in the state’s south. Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair said 16 battery-powered aerators had been bought and would be placed in various drought-affected waterways. https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/australian-state-pump-oxygen-rivers-fish-die-60379746 (15 Jan. 2019)

Global GFPLAIN250m, high-resolution dataset of Earth’s floodplains – The paper presents the first, comprehensive, high-resolution, gridded dataset of Earth’s floodplains at 250-m resolution (GFPLAIN250m).

The GFPLAIN250m dataset can support many applications, including flood hazard mapping, habitat restoration, development studies, and the analysis of human-flood interactions. This excludes areas on Earth classified as deserts with low water availability and ice-covered regions with insignificant river flows. https://www.nature.com/articles/sdata2018309  (Jan. 2019)

Research Sewer could help clean the atmosphere Team of Researchers at Princeton University identified several potentially viable paths to using sewage as a carbon sink — that is, sewer plants could clean the atmosphere as they clean water. Generally, the operators would use pipes to pump carbon dioxide gas into the sewer water in the plants. They would then use a variety of techniques to convert the gas into carbonate minerals, biofuels or a sludge-based fertilizer called biochar.

– The researchers cautioned that while many techniques are promising, “the concept is still in its infancy.” They said that full use of the technology will require work of not only scientists, but also regulators, investors and industry. https://www.princeton.edu/news/2019/01/15/sewers-could-help-clean-atmosphere  (15 Jan. 20190

Study Desalination plants harm environment According to the study by the U.N. University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), almost 16,000 desalination plants worldwide produce bigger-than-expected flows of highly salty waste water and toxic chemicals that are damaging the environment.

– Desalination plants pump out 142 million cubic metres of salty brine every day, 50% more than previous estimates, to produce 95 million cubic metres of fresh water, the study said. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/water-desalination-plants-harm-environment-un/article25994978.ece (14 Jan. 2019)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Bihar  Declining rainfall places farming at risk According to annual rainfall reports (of the IMD, Bihar has been witnessing deficiency of rainfall during the monsoon. The state has recorded less than normal rainfall in the past seven years. As per the IMD rainfall information, Bihar gets 1,027.6 mm rainfall in a normal monsoon year and its average annual rainfall including pre-monsoon, monsoon, post-monsoon and winter is 1,205.6 mm.

Most small and marginal farmers in Bihar cannot bear the additional cost of irrigating their fields (Photo by Santosh Singh)
Most smallholder and marginal farmers in Bihar cannot afford the additional cost of irrigating their fields (Photo by Santosh Singh)

In 2012, Bihar received 813.0 mm of rainfall during the monsoon, which was 21% lower than the average. In 2013, it received 722.2 mm rainfall during the monsoon, 30% lower. This was followed by a 17% deficiency in 2014, when Bihar recorded 848.6 mm of rainfall.

Again in 2015, Bihar received 745.0 mm of rainfall during the monsoon, which was 28% lower than the average. In 2016, it received 933.9 mm rainfall during the monsoon, 3% deficient. In 2017, the state received 9% deficient rainfall. In 2018, the rainfall deficiency was 25% than its long-term average. The government officially declares a drought it the rainfall deficiency touches 19%. %20https:/indiaclimatedialogue.net/2019/01/16/declining-rainfall-places-farming-at-risk-in-bihar/ (16 Jan. 2019)  

Study Antarctica’s ice melt quickens, risks metres of sea level rise Antarctica’s annual ice losses have accelerated six-fold in the past 40 years in a trend that could push sea levels metres higher in coming centuries amid man-made global warming, scientists said. They said the East Antarctic ice sheet is thawing at the fringes and adding to rising seas, unlike many past reports which have concluded that the eastern sheet has so far resisted a melt seen on the western side.

Ice losses from the frozen continent surged to a net 252 billion tonnes a year in the period 2009-17 from an average 40 billion tonnes from 1979-90, according to the study in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Overall, the scientists said that the melt of Antarctica added water equivalent to 13.2 millimetres (0.5 inch) of sea level rise over the past four decades. Global sea levels have risen about 20 centimetres (8 inches) in the past century. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/antarcticas-ice-melt-quickens-risks-metres-of-sea-level-rise-study-1977718 (15 Jan. 2019)

Report Collapsing glaciers threaten Asia’s water supplies  STEPS TO MONITOR THIRD POLE As a first step, an international scientific programme called the Third Pole Environment (TPE; led by T.Y.) has set up 11 ground stations and tethered balloons since 2014, working with the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing. There are already plans to install 20 additional stations across a wider area of the third pole later this year. China’s Pan-TPE research programme, involving scientists from Norway to Nepal has a budget of US$215 million for 5 years to study environmental changes in the third pole, Iranian Plateau, Caucasus Mountains and Carpathian Mountains. Another programme — the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research (STEP) project — will receive 4.35 billion yuan over 5 years from 2019 to study environmental change in the Tibetan Plateau.

A man crossing a hanging bridge in Nepal
The Tsho Rolpa valley in Nepal, where increased meltwater from glaciers in the Himalayas puts local communities at risk. Credit: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket/Getty

– Researchers need a better understanding of the relationships between the third pole’s complex terrain and the weather patterns and processes that affect precipitation and ice-melting. The water cycle must be traced in three dimensions — as liquid water, ice and water vapour, on the ground and in the air — and changes monitored. Computer models also need to be tailored to provide accurate projections for the region.

– Two weather patterns — the Indian monsoon and prevailing westerly winds — drive most of the moisture flow towards the third pole. We still lack a quantitative understanding of the role of each process in the overall water budget. Nor is it clear how much water passes between solid, liquid and vapour phases, affecting regional hydrology. Physical processes that affect glaciers are poorly understood, including the impacts of aerosols and surface debris on ice accumulation and melting. We cannot predict how much meltwater will descend into lakes and rivers, nor how wet soils might increase local precipitation. The region’s complex and varied topography is another confounding factor. Only 0.1% of glaciers and lakes in the region have monitoring stations. Few areas higher than 5,000 metres above sea level have weather stations, let alone water-isotope detectors. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07838-4 (2 Jan. 2019)

Report Climate Change’s Giant Impact on the Economy On Jan 17, 2019, some of the world’s most influential economists called for a tax on carbon emissions in the United States, saying climate change demands “immediate national action.” The last four people to lead the Federal Reserve, 15 former leaders of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and 27 Nobel laureates signed a letter endorsing a gradually rising carbon tax whose proceeds would be distributed to consumers as “carbon dividends.”

– “We’ve divided the world into 25,000 regions and married that with very precise geographic predictions on how the local climate will change,” Mr. Greenstone said. “Just having the raw computing power to be able to analyze this at a more disaggregated level is a big part of it.” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/upshot/how-to-think-about-the-costs-of-climate-change.html (17 Jan. 2019)

The International Water Grid: A global solution to climate change? Mindless is the key word that comes to mind when one looks at such schemes: https://www.star2.com/living/2018/11/21/the-international-water-grid-project-offers-a-potentially-solid-solution-to-climate-change-problems/ (21 Nov. 2018) 

ENVIRONMENT

Devastating quakes are priming the Himalaya for a mega-disaster DIRE WARNING: WONT COME IN PLAINER WORDS THAN THESE: Moderate earthquakes aren’t releasing enough stress along the region’s faults. They’re actually making it worse. A study published January 3 in Nature Communications provides new evidence that, rather than releasing seismic tensions in the crust, the 2015 quake likely loaded the surrounding region for an even more destructive mega-earthquake, which could clock in at magnitudes of 8.5 or higher. “This is one of those nice moments when all of the historical data, our basic understanding of how earthquakes work, and the numerical simulation all come together to give more or less the same answer,” Bendick says.

Image result for Devastating quakes are priming the Himalaya for a mega-disaster
Sunrise strikes the Himalayan peaks on November 8, 2018, as seen from Manang, Nepal.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DONALD MIRALLE/ GETTY LUMIX

– The study’s numerical simulations probe the conditions behind how and why moderate earthquakes trigger massive ones, helping scientists understand the accumulation of stress along faults. Each moderate quake therefore builds up energy, eventually leading to a megaquake that cracks through to the surface once every 500 or 600 years, finally relaxing the region’s built-up strain.

– The Indian plate continually marches northward a few centimeters each year, shoving its way under the Tibetan plateau in fits and starts. Each jerky advance causes earthquakes of varying intensity. Think of it like shooting a rubber band, explains Rebecca Bendick, a geophysicist at the University of Montana who was not involved in the new study. Tension in the crust builds like stretching the band back. At some point, you have to release it, turning all the stored potential energy into kinetic energy as the projectile flies through the air. That’s essentially an earthquake.

– Bendick was a coauthor on a 2017 study in Quaternary International that approached the question from a historical perspective. Her team’s results painted a similarly concerning picture. Only two Himalayan earthquakes in the past 500 years have definitely ruptured to the surface, one in 1934 and another in 1950, explains Roger Bilham, lead author of the 2017 study.

– In a separate study, Bilham and his colleagues calculated the stored energy through the Himalaya based on historical quakes and the rates of tectonic plate collision. Of the 15 segments analyzed, 7 could produce earthquakes of at least magnitude 8.4 if their energy was released today. Of course, it’s extremely unlikely the reservoirs would all trigger at once, and earthquakes large enough to trigger any releases are rare. But it is plausible that two regions could let go in tandem, creating an even bigger quake. The results of that work are slated to be published in the coming weeks in a Geological Society Special Publication on Himalayan tectonics.

– “The earthquake threat in the Himalaya is gigantic,” Bilham says. “It’s just extraordinary.” One 2018 study estimated that if a magnitude 8.7 earthquake similar to the historic quake that rocked the central Himalaya in 1505 struck during modern times, it would kill nearly 600,000 people and injure more than a million. Bendick says. “There’s every reason to plan ahead for a larger event in our lifetime—and any steps taken to mitigate the impacts of that will definitely save lives and save money.” https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/earthquakes-priming-himalaya-disaster/ (17 Jan. 2019)

Opinion Forests with benefits: Why companies must pay forest communities for wild resources Neha Sinha about benefit sharing and Uttarakhand HC Order. Are there lessons here for riverine resources? https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/forests-with-benefits-why-companies-must-pay-forest-communities-for-wild-resources/article25969386.ece  (12 Jan. 2019)

Compiled by SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 14 Jan. 2019 & DRP News Bulletin 7 Jan. 2019  

Follow us on: www.facebook.com/sandrp.in; https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers      

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 14 January 2019: Will the campaign of 17 year old Alappad Girl Wake up the NATION to the perils of unsustainable sand mining?

The coastline between Chavara and Alappad in Kollam district of Kerala, has a decades-long story of people’s battle for survival against mining companies. This stretch in Kerala is where the extensive mineral beach sand mining has been happening since the 1960s. The abandoned buildings are the remains of people’s failed agitations and indefinite strikes. One by one the villages in the area are vanishing from the map of Kerala.

– In Alappad panchayat, activists estimate that more than 6,000 fishermen families have vacated over the years due to beach erosion, drinking water scarcity and lack of fish availability. Sooner or later the panchayat will also be turned in to a sand bund, remaining residents say.

– The remaining families in this 23 kilometres stretch of coastal region (Kollam Neendakara to Kayamkulam) are under the threat of eviction; for the last few years, they have been expecting a massive coastal erosion that can engulf their villages. Most of the people have been forced to leave their houses, even without any compensation from the authorities or the mining companies. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/villages-vanish-keralas-kollam-coast-they-succumb-sand-mining-94762  (9 Jan. 2019)

Save Alappad the anti-mining campaign has got support from actor Tovino and Vijay fans.

– In 1968, two public limited companies, Indian Rare Earth, which comes under the Centre, and Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited, under the state government, began mining beach sand in the region. According to reports, while a litho map of Alappad village showed 89.5 square kilometre of land in the area, this shrunk to a mere 8 sq km of land by 2019.

ponmana-haritha-sreekesh-750

Meanwhile, 40 km away from the town, aggrieved fisherfolk from the coastal hamlets of  Alappad have gathered at a village called as Vellana Thuruthu and are on a relay hunger strike which saw its 68th day on Jan. 7.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/anti-mining-campaign-kerala-thats-got-support-actor-tovino-and-vijay-fans-94680 (8 Jan. 2019)

Fishermen claim hamlet after hamlet was ‘disappearing’ from the map due to mining activities by the Indian Rare Earth (IRE), a central Public Sector Undertaking, and state government-owned Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML).

Seeking to save their remaining villages, the people of Alappad and nearby hamlets under the banner of Anti-mining People’s Protest Council have been on a relay-hunger strike at Vellanathuruthu near here for the past over two months demanding a complete halt to the mining activities. However, an official of the IRE, when contacted, said the company was following all mining norms.The two firms together have been engaged in mineral sand mining along the beach off the Kollam coast since the 1960s. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/alappad-a-tale-of-lost-land-to-mineral-sand-mining-119011100385_1.html (11 Jan. 2019)

Also see, great to see that the video message by a 17 year old girl has started Kerala talking and doing something about unsustainable sand mining. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/17-year-olds-video-gets-kerala-talking-of-impact-of-sand-mining-5532847/  (11 Jan. 2019)

Karnataka Police-politicians accuse each other of illegal sand mining Legislators and police at logger-head over illegal sand mining issues. While D Shekhar BJP MLA from Goolihatti tried to immolate himself in front of a police station in Hosadurga on Jan. 6 night alleging local police of being involved in illegal sand mining, another BJP MLA M Chandrappa threatens that he and his supporters would picket police stations and “torch” them if the police did not take concrete steps to stop illegal sand mining in Chitradurga district.

– Contrary to their version, police say D Shekhar was demanding release of 4 tractors caught for carrying illegally mined sand, but police officials refused to do so. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bjp-mla-attempts-suicide-over-illegal-sand-mining/articleshow/67431688.cms  (8 Jan. 2019)

– Launching a tirade against Police Superintendent Dr Arun M of being corrupt, Chandrappa alleged that the SP wanted to increase the quantum of bribe. Hence, he would be strict in the beginning. However, now he is hand-in-glove with illegal sand miners. He added that the police were seizing tractors and carts used by poor people to transport sand for the construction of their houses.  http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2019/jan/08/stop-illegal-sand-mining-or-will-torch-police-station-mla-1922041.html  (8 Jan. 2019)

Madhya Pradesh Despite change in Govt. no respite for rivers:- Large scale illegal sand mining through heavy machines happening in Ken river in Panna and Chhatarpur district of Bundelkhand since last week of Dec. 2018. Sources said that ever since the Congress has come to power, its local leaders are keen to get their share of sand.

Illegal sand mining has intensified in Chhatarpur and Panna in Bundelkhand region.  Since last week of December, illegal sand mining is taking place on a large scale at Banjari and Hinota sand mines in Ken river through heavy machines in Luvkush Nagar tehsil of Chhatarpur. 

Sources said that ever since the Congress has come to power, its local leaders are keen to get their share of sand. Incidents of firing are being reported thick and fast in these areas, which is also witnessing a new trend- of armed private security guards of mafias opening fire before mining sand, sources said. A sand mining company has also registered a complaint of loot of more than Rs. 2 lakh, the ASP said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/illegal-sand-mining-continues-unabated/articleshow/67427582.cms  (8 Jan. 2019)

In Nov. 2018, over 300 farmers including around 50 women, started ‘Jal Satyagrah’ by entering the waters of the Ken river to protest against sand mining in the area due to which their crops are getting damaged,” in Ken river near Kolawal Raipur in Girwan area of the Bundelkhand region. As per Naraini SDM Awadhesh Kumar Srivastava, the company involved in the sand mining deviated from the allotted place and has also made a temporary bridge on the river to make passage for the sand-laden trucks. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/jal-satyagraha-against-sand-mining-in-ken-river-118110100758_1.html (1 Nov. 2018)

Gujarat Govt keen on drones with night-vision to track illegal sand mining  8 months after its launch, the government’s UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) surveillance project to track illegal sand mining across the riverbeds has reported 48 per cent success. However, with most of the missions returning unsuccessful due to difficulty in operating after dusk, the Geology & Mining Department is now looking to source drones with infrared capability. In the 22 successful missions, the department has imposed a penalty of Rs 13.96 crore and filed four FIRs.

According to officials, the UAV missions were flown after the department received “intelligence” about illegal mining happening on the river-beds. However, most of the missions returned without success, especially from the Sabarmati riverbed, as most of the mining activity is happening during the night, officials said. To combat these issues, the department is planning to get drones with infrared vision.

Apart from surveillance of the river beds and mines, the department is planning to conduct a volumetric analysis of the pits that have already been dug by illegal miners in the rivers. Sabarmati river will be the first where such a volumetric analysis is being planned. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/government-keen-on-drones-with-night-vision-to-track-illegal-sand-mining-5536206/  (13 Jan. 2019)

Punjab Sand mafia threaten a farmer Panchkula farmer threatened by sand mafia for objecting to illegal sand mining.  Police on Jan. 6 registered a case under Arms Act and criminal conspiracy against six sadn mafias for threatening a resident of Jalouli village in Chandimandir. Complainant, Sanjeev Kumar, a farmer alleged that the accused threatened to kill him after brandishing weapons including pistol and gun which the accused persons possessed.

This is not the first instance when the sand mafias have threatened and assaulted a person in Panchkula district. On Sept. 30, 2018, mining officer Panchkula received a threatening call from the sand mafia to stop doing checking in his area.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/told-to-stop-illegal-mining-armed-men-attack-farmer/articleshow/67412904.cms (7 Jan. 2019)

Meanwhile, opposition party in Punjab demanded an inquiry by a sitting high court judge to establish why no action was being taken against the sand mafia despite CM’s instructions. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/sad-demands-judicial-probe-into-illegal-sand-mining-in-punjab/articleshow/67478832.cms (11 Jan. 2019)

In Nov. 2018, the Punjab Mining and Geology Department has decided to deploy drones to curb illegal sand mining in the state by borrowing the drones from the state police. The dept. has also decided to keep surveillance on the illegal mining through satellite mapping. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/punjab-to-use-drones-to-keep-check-on-illegal-mining-118111401144_1.html (14 Nov. 2018)  

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Himachal Pradesh HC refuses to stay land transfer to hydro facility  The Himachal Pradesh High Court has refused to stay the transfer of forest land to an Asian Development Bank-funded hydropower project in the state’s Kinnaur district being executed by the state-run Himachal Pradesh Power Corp Ltd. However, local residents, activists and environmental groups, who are opposing the project, said the court order for the 130 MW Integrated Kashang Stage II and III project is “disappointing”.

It was passed “without looking into the merits of the case, which include violations of constitutional laws like Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act of 1996 and Forest Rights Act of 2006”, they said in a statement to the media on Jan. 12.

The Gram Sabha of Lippa village, known for endangered Chilgoza trees, has been struggling against the forest diversion for the hydro power project for over a decade. The villagers say the construction and tunneling activity for the project will lead to severe destabilisation of the land in the region and affect the natural water sources. Even the diversion of the Kerang stream for the project will impact the local hydrology.

The state cabinet on October 12, 2018, granted the lease for the forest diversion of 13.47 hectares to Himachal Pradesh Power Corp Ltd. They said even the state government has not adequately apprised the court of the process and implementation of an act like Forest Rights Act that empowers forest dependent people. https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/himachal-hc-refuses-to-stay-land-transfer-to-hydro-facility-119011300240_1.html (13 Jan. 2019)

Arunachal Pradesh Book: Saving Lama’s cranes Must read for little readers. We are happy to announce an exciting new children’s story book by Kalpavriksh, Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes. It is written by Neeraj Vagholikar and illustrated by Niloufer Wadia.

You can order your copy by writing to us at kvbooks@gmail.com or buy online here: amzn.to/2EMz4zJ 

Centre Policy for revival of 5950 Mw hydro projects on the cards According to the Central Electricity Authority estimates, the annual loss of energy generation from these stalled hydro projects is about 18,761 Million Units. This is basically reiteration of past statements on this issue. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/5950-mw-hydro-projects-stalled-policy-for-revival-on-the-cards/67407463  (6 Jan. 2019)

BBMB Best performing utility in hydro power sector??  ​​The national level award has been awarded outstanding performance of BBMB that run 6 power houses having installed capacity of 2918.73 MW. In addition BBMB’s Beas Project Unit-1 (i.e. BSL Project) & Beas Project, Unit-2 (i.e. Beas Dam at Pong) were awarded as “Best Maintained Projects, (functional for more than 10 years) in a CBIP function at Delhi on 4th Jan 2019. THESE ARE ESSENTIALLY INHOUSE AWARDS, NOT INVOLVING CLEARLY DEFINED CRITERIA, INDEPENDENT JURY, COMPREHENSIVE APPRAISAL OR TRANSPARENT PROCESS. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/bbmb-awarded-best-performing-utility-in-hydro-power-sector/67403552  (6 Jan. 2019)

DAMS

Lakwar Dam NGT asks EAC for re-appraisal of the project Congratulations to petitioners, lawyers and everyone who supported this effort for achieving this NGT order dated January 10, 2019 on Lakhwar Dam on Yamuna, asking for stay till full appraisal is done. One only hopes the EAC will work with science and ecology in mind and not like dam ideologues that they are prone to.

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Vyasi HEP Project work going on. (Image by Nishant Panwar, 5 Jan. 2019)

One hopes NGT will also ensure full and proper EIA, public consultation, Cumulative Impact Assessment and appraisal before allowing project to go ahead. https://ercindia.org/sites/ercindia.org/files/ngt%20order.pdf  (10 Jan. 2019)

“…direct the EAC to appraise the project afresh in terms of EIA notification 2006 and impose additional general and specific conditions as may be considered necessary. EAC will be free to call for any reports which it may consider necessary. EAC is further directed to complete the appraisal by 15.04.2019. Till the project is reappraised status quo shall be maintained,” a bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra Rathore noted.  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ngt-stays-lakhwar-project-asks-panel-to-appraise-it-afresh-5533345/ (11 Jan. 20169)

The green panel also took note of a study undertaken by an expert body, following Supreme Court orders after the 2013 disaster. “It was brought to the notice of the expert body that clearances to start work had been granted recently to the Lakhwar and Vyasi projects. This is in violation of the spirit of the SC’s August 2013 order. It is also noticed that these projects were approved more than 25 years ago. Consequently they do not have any EIA/EMP/DMP studies that are mandatory today,” the report which was submitted to the Centre in 2014, said.

Further the report added, “Without conducting cumulative impact assessments and disaster management studies of Yamuna and Kali basins, no such projects should be allowed at the risk of fragile ecology, biodiversity and lives of people living in and around project sites.” https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/maintain-status-quo-on-lakhwar-project-till-reappraised-by-panel/article25975854.ece (12 Jan. 2019)

Renuka Dam MoWR has entered into an agreement with six states — Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP and Uttarakhand — for the construction of the Renukaji Multi-Purpose Dam project in the Upper Yamuna Basin.  The project is yet to receive the Stage-II forest clearance from the MoEF. About 1,508 hectares in the territory of Himachal Pradesh will be submerged by the project.

The project envisages construction of a 148-metre-high rock filled dam for supply of water to Delhi and other basin states. The project will also generate 40 MW of power during peak flow. The Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd. (HPPCL) will execute the project and its total live storage is 0.404 MAF. Stored water of the Renukaji Dam will be used by UP, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan from Hathnikund Barrage, Wazirabad Barrage and Okhla Barrage.

Speaking on the occasion, Nitin Gadkari said that the government will try to get Cabinet approval as soon as possible and all proposed dam projects, once completed will ensure more flow in River Yamuna which is the need of the hour. “A consensus on the Kishau Multi Purpose project on River Yamuna has also been developed and soon an agreement for it will also be signed,” he said. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/12/six-states-sign-pact-for-dam-in-himachal-pradesh-1923993.html  (12 Jan. 2019)

PIB PR on Jan 11, 2019 says: – Gadkari “said that the government will try to get the Cabinet approval as soon as possible.He added that a consensus on Kishau Multi Purpose project has also been developed and soon an agreement for it will also be signed. He also informed about the Lakhwar Multi Purpose project for which agreement was signed on August 28th, 2018 among six basin states.”

– “The live storage of Renukaji MPP is 0.404 MAF and total submergence area is about 1508 hectares in the territory of HP. After the construction of the dam, the flow of river Giri will increase (in lean season?) about 110% which will meet the drinking water needs of Delhi & other basin states up to some extent in lean period. Stored water of Renukaji Dam will be used by UP, Haryana & NCT of Delhi from Hathnikund Barrage, by NCT of Delhi  from Wazirabad Barrage and by UP, Haryana and Rajasthan from Okhla Barrage.”

– “The total cost of the project was estimated on Price Level 2015 is Rs. 4596.76 Crores out of which the cost of irrigation/drinking water component is Rs. 4325.43 crores and the cost of power component is Rs. 277.33 crore. The 90% cost of irrigation/drinking water component of the project i.e. Rs. 3892.83 crore will be provided by the Central Govt. and rest 10% of the above cost i.e. Rs. 432.54 crore will be provided by the basin States of Haryana, UP/UK, HP, Rajasthan & NCT of Delhi in the proportion as allocated in MoU dated 12.05.1994 signed by the CMs of the basin states for the allocation of surface water of river Yamuna up to Okhla Barrage.

The shares of these states viz. Haryana, UP/UK, HP, Rajasthan and NCT of Delhi are 47.82%, 33.65%, 3.15%, 9.34% and 6.04% respectively. Govt. of NCT of Delhi has agreed to fund 90% of the cost of power component of the said project. All the mandatory clearances in respect of Renukaji dam project except Stage-II forest clearance, invest clearance and approval from CCEA have been obtained.” http://pib.nic.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1559576 (11 Jan. 2019)

– As per The Print, 4 Jan. report, MoWR has fixed new deadlines and revised budgets of three suspended multi-storage projects — Lakhwar, Kishau and Renukaji — in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The projects were suspended at different stages since 1992 due to concerns over financial viability and environmental clearances from the basin states.

With revised budgets and deadlines, the three will now cost approximately Rs 22,000 crore. The budget of each of the projects could be revised, but the 90:10 cost-sharing ratio between the Centre and the states will remain, said the ministry. https://theprint.in/governance/delhis-water-shortage-problem-finally-has-a-solution-3-dams-across-yamuna/171994/ (3 Jan. 2019)

Uttrakhand For Ganga revival experts urge Govt to do away dam and hydro projects  Ganga is a melting pot of many rivers that originate in the snowy mountains and make their journey through forests (about 45% of the State is forest) it hosts a diverse microbial life. This gives it anti-bacterial characteristics. Several research papers, and a 2015 report by the NEERI attest to the presence of ‘phages’, organisms that feed on bacteria, keeping the river clean and conducive to sustaining a spectrum of life forms — fish, turtles and dolphin.

But several dams built over the decades, first on the Bhagirathi and now increasingly on the Alaknanda, obstruct the flow of water. This accelerates siltation, chokes the oxygen supply in the recesses of the river, and eventually harms aquatic life. There is a ripple effect. The water loses its momentum lower down the course when the river extends beyond Haridwar, and from there it cannot deal with the immense volumes of sewage and industrial effluents released in Kanpur, Unnao and Allahabad. It leads to staggering levels of pollution, which extends all the way into Bihar and West Bengal. https://www.thehindu.com/society/and-quiet-flows-the-ganga/article25970106.ece (12 Jan. 2019)

जमरानी बांध की डीपीआर पर दिल्ली में मंथन, 48 साल से चल रही प्रक्रिया जमरानी बांध की डीपीआर पर दिल्ली के केंद्रीय जल आयोग में मंथन चल रहा है। केंद्रीय जल आयोग व उत्तराखंड सिंचाई विभाग के अफसर डीपीआर की जांच कर कमियां दूर करने में जुटे हैं। जल्द ही दोनों महकमों के आला अफसरों के बीच डीपीआर पर अंतिम निर्णय होने के साथ ही बांध निर्माण को हरी झंडी मिलने की उम्मीद जताई जा रही है। समझौते के मुताबिक बांध का 43 फीसद पानी का उपयोग उत्तराखंड करेगा, जबकि 57 फीसद पानी उत्तरप्रदेश को देना होगा। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/nainital-meeting-held-in-delhi-to-make-dpr-on-jamrani-dam-18816668.html  (4 Jan. 2019)

Hirakud Dam Mismanagement can worsen Odisha extreme rainfall events Account of how Dams like Hirakud could create additional disasters when not managed properly.  https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2019/01/09/mismanagement-can-worsen-odisha-extreme-rainfall-events/   (9 Jan. 2019)

Mullaperiyar Dam Dispute Tamil Nadu govt moves contempt plea over dam plan The State Govt has filed a contempt petition in Supreme Court (SC) against C.K. Mishra, Union Environment Secretary; Dr. S. Kerketta, Member Secretary, Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley and Hydro Projects, MoEF&CC; Tom Jose, Kerala Chief Secretary; and K.H. Shamsudeen, Chief Engineer, Office of the Chief Engineer Investigation and Designs, IDRB. The petition said that Kerala’s proposal for a new Mullaperiyar dam was in clear violation and utter disregard of a May 2014 Supreme Court judgment in the Mullaperiyar case. The court had specifically directed Tamil Nadu and Kerala to amicably agree to a new dam.

– The petition said the MoEF Secretary had responded in a letter on Nov. 8 that ToR were recommended by the EAC in view of the recent floods in Kerala and the condition of the existing dam which is 123 years old. “It was further stated granting ToR to the project does not necessarily mean that the project is eligible for getting Environmental Clearance (EC)…” the petition quoted the letter. The petition said the statement in the grant of ToR that the dam has “already outlived its useful life” amounts to contempt of the apex court judgment which had found the dam safe “in all respects”. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-moves-contempt-plea-over-dam-plan/article25915489.ece  (5 Jan. 2019)

Polavaram Projects Guinness Book of World Record for concrete pouring?? The Polavaram project on Jan. 7 entered the Guinness Book of World by pouring 32,100 cubic metres of concrete in 24 hours. The project had recently bagged the Central Board of Irrigation and Power (CBIP) award for speedy execution of Polavaram multipurpose project and best implementation of water resources project for better planning, implementation and monitoring.

The officials informed the CM that nearly 63.27 per cent of project work has been completed so far. The erection of crest gates on the dam began recently. The CM said that the project would be completed by 2019 as decided. The state government has spent Rs 15,380.97 crore on the project so far; the central government is yet to release Rs 3,517.84 crore. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/andhra-pradesh-polavaram-project-enters-guinness-book-of-world-record-for-concrete-pouring-5526168/  (7 Jan. 2019)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Krishna-Godavari-Penna Link NGT asks MoEF to submit report  The green tribunal has directed the MoEF&CC to submit a report on the alleged non-compliance with environmental norms in various river interlinking projects such as Pattiseema, Purushottapatnam, Chintalapudi and Godavari-Penna in Andhra Pradesh. The bench gave the direction after hearing the arguments pertaining to the petition moved by former minister Vatti Vasanth Kumar and member of Water Users Association K Trinath Reddy contending that the State government did not obtain mandatory clearances from the Central Water Commission (CWC) and MoEF for the said projects.

The NGT’s four-membered Principal Bench, headed by justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, on Jan. 8 directed the MoEF to look into the issue and submit a report on whether or not the projects adhering to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, and if they require the environment clearances. The bench posted the matter to Feb. 22. The tribunal also directed the petitioners to write a letter to MoEF and AP Pollution Control Board (PCB) regarding their grievances.It said that the authorities concerned have to take a decision on the grievances raised within a week of receiving the complaint. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2019/jan/09/river-linking-ngt-asks-moef-to-submit-report-1922708.html (9 Jan. 2019)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

NW-II Call for subsidy in Kolkata-NE cargo movement via waterways This shows Inlwand transport is neither cost effective nor cheaper:- Inland waterways cargo requires subsidy, at least till navigation in the protocol route via Bangladesh is smoothened to boost cargo movement to North East from Kolkata on the National Waterways-II, officials said.

“We are asking for some subsidy support for using NW-II, at least for a short term, till navigation issues in Bangladesh like dredging and installation of night navigation infrastructure are sorted out,” Summit Alliance Port East Gateway (SAPEL) COO Tushar Biswas told PTI.

SAPEL is a Bangladesh-based port and shipping operator which has signed an agreement with Inland Waterways Authority of India for the operation and management of two terminals in Kolkata. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/call-for-subsidy-in-kolkata-ne-cargo-movement-via-waterways-119010600459_1.html ( 6 Jan. 2019)

IRRIGATION

Karnataka Irrigation plans no solution to farming woes  DOES IT SMELL LIKE ANOTHER  IRRIGATION SCAM? Since 2002, Karnataka’s irrigation allocation has steadily increased from a little over ₹1,600 crore to around ₹16,000 crore in the current fiscal, showing an average annual increase of around 6%. But this rise has not translated into a higher irrigated area. Area under irrigation in the state is around 3.1 million ha in 2016-17, which is below 30% of total farm area of 10.7 m ha. The area under irrigation increased from around 2.45 million hectares in 2002 to around 3.1 million ha in 2016-17 from all sources, including canals, tanks, lift irrigation, tube and borewells.

– Karnataka, home to the second most arid region in the country, has pumped in funds for the development of mega projects whilst neglecting traditional methods that researchers and experts say are a better bet. “Instead of pumping in mega billion dollars on big projects, importance should be given to traditional water harvesting systems,” Devinder Sharma, agricultural expert and analyst said. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/hXeLXsckiRT3gOgPHOBtBN/Why-Karnatakas-irrigation-plans-are-no-solution-to-farming.html   (11 Jan. 2019)

RIVERS

Uttrakhand 20 सालों से नदी को बचाने में जुटे हैं भूपाल सिंह नैनीताल तहसील के मुझारचौरा निवासी भूपाल सिंह कठायत ऐसे व्यक्ति हैं, जो पिछले बीस साल से बुरसौल नदी को बचाने में जुटे हैं। बीस वर्ष पूर्व बुरसौल नदी एकदम सूखने के कगार पर पहुच गई थी। उन्होंने ऐसा भगीरथ प्रयास किया कि आज बुरसौल नदी उन्हीं की बदौलत सिंदा है। इसके लिए उन्होंने नदी के स्रोत से ऊपर दीपामाई मंदिर, जाड़ापानी और मुझारचौरा में चौड़ी पत्ती के पौधों का रोपण किया। बिना किसी सरकारी इमदाद के भूपाल ङ्क्षसह प्रतिवर्ष बुरसौल नदी के मुहाने से ऊपर  सौ मीटर की दूरी पर चौड़ी पत्ती के पौधों का रोपण करते आ रहे हैं।

इतना ही नहीं वे खेती-किसानी करने के बाद अपना अधिकांश समय नदी किनारे लगाए गए पेड़-पौधों की देखभाल करने में बिताते हैं। उन्होंने नदी में पानी को मापने का यंत्र भी लगाया है।  उन्होंने बताया कि उन्होंने इस उदगम स्थल से ऊपर दो सौ मीटर की दूरी पर तिमुल, कुरैणी, बांज, फलयांट समेत बहुजातीय प्रजाति का जंगल विकसित किया है। जिससे बुरसौल नदी अब सदानीरा बनी हुई है। उन्होंने बताया कि कुरैणी जलीय पौधा है। इससे काफी पानी मिलता है।इसे बहुतायत में लगाया जाना चाहिए। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/nainital-bhopal-singh-is-busy-saving-the-river-for-20-years-18819047.html (4 Jan. 2019)

Uttar Pradesh सूख गई स्याही नदी, किसानों को सिंचाई के लिए पानी नहीं, पेयजल संकट भी गहराया Hindi report on drying up of Syahi river and its impact on village farming community:-  यूपी के देवरिया और बिहार के गोपालगंज जिले के 150 से अधिक गांवों के लाखों लोगों की जीवनरेखा स्याही नदी सूख गई है। एक दशक से इस नदी में पानी नहीं है। इस कारण इसके तट पर बसे गांवों के लोगों को सिंचाई, पीने के पानी की दिक्कत का सामना करना पड़ रहा है।

एक दशक से अधिक समय से नदी के जलविहीन होने से इस इलाके में भूमिगत जल स्तर नीचे चला गया है और लोगों को हैण्डपम्प और ट्यूबवेल को बहुत गहरे तक बोर कराना पड़ रहा है। स्थानीय लोगों ने नदी की हालत के बारे में प्रशासनिक अधिकारियों के समक्ष धरना-प्रदर्शन कर कई बार ज्ञापन दिया लेकिन प्रशासन ने कोई कार्रवाई करना तो दूर इस समस्या के विषय में लोगों से बातचीत तक शुरू नहीं की है. http://gorakhpurnewsline.com/dryed-siyahi-river-farmers-not-getting-water-for-irrigation-deep-water-crisis/ (8 Jan. 2019)

GANGA Report ‘66 of 97 towns along Ganga have at least 1 drain flowing into river’About 78 per cent of towns in West Bengal along the river Ganga have nullahs (drains) flowing directly into the river, a third party inspection of all 97 Ganga towns across five states has revealed. Overall, 66 of the 97 towns had at least one nullah draining into the Ganga, 31 of those were in West Bengal. West Bengal has the largest chunk of towns (40) along the river, followed by Uttar Pradesh (21), Bihar (18), Uttarakhand (16) and Jharkhand (2).

The assessment undertaken by the Quality Council of India over a period of six weeks focused on four major priority areas for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs — overall cleanliness, solid waste management services, nullahs and screens, and availability of a municipal solid waste plant in the town. The survey was carried out between November 1 and December 15, 2018. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/66-of-97-towns-along-ganga-have-at-least-one-drain-flowing-into-river-5531107/ (10 Jan. 2019)

Editorial Water and waste water woes  The Edit explains the reasons, citing Quality Council of India report, why Namami Gange is likely to be a failure like the previous such efforts, for the same reason as the failure of earlier efforts: Top Down, non participatory, mega STPs and in attention to decentralised options. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/waste-and-water-clean-ganga-river-mission-5532698/  (11 Jan. 2019)

Kumbh Mela 2019 Kumbh without holy water of Ganga and Yamuna? This article raises some key questions about Ganga water that people will worship at Kumbh this year. https://gangatoday.com/en/articles/215-ganga-and-yamuna-in-kumbh.html  (8 Jan. 2019)

Ahead of the Kumbh mela, 206 engineers have been employed to monitor 227 drains that flow into Ganga to keep the holy river clean for the devotees. The project started by UP govt to ensure clean water for bathing during Kumbh began on December 15 last year and will continue till June this year. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/kumbh-2019-almost-one-engineer-for-every-drain-to-help-keep-ganga-clean-uttar-pradesh/344981(10 Jan. 2019)

YAMUNA Delhi 3 New STPs for treatment of drains  3 new STP of 166 MLD capacity will be developed in the city for the treatment of highly polluted 61 drains directly discharging in river Yamuna. An amount of Rs. 857.26 crore will be spent on the development of these 3 STP und the rehabilitation of Agra sewerage scheme.

A 100 MLD capacity facility will be developed at Dhandupure, 31 MLD at Jaganpur and 35 MLD at Peeli Pokhar. Besides the STPs, construction of 10 small decentralized STPs of 9.38 MLD and renovation of 2 existing STPs, renovation of sewer pumping station, interceiptio of drains and other major steps will be undertaken unde the scheme. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/three-new-stps-for-treatment-of-drains-discharging-in-river-yamuna/articleshow/67444105.cms (9 Jan. 2019) 

Aeroboats Project on Yamuna not feasible Meanwhile, referring to some assessments, Nitin Gadkari accepts that Yamuna water quality is so bad that starting hybrid aeroboats from Delhi to Agra many not be a reality in near future. Recentluy, the union water minister had said his ministry was looking at the possibility of using these boats druing Kumbh Mela next year and on Yamuna for a visit to Taj Mahal from Delhi. He had also said that the trial run could be undertaken before Jan. 26. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/dirty-yamuna-could-nix-plan-for-delhi-agra-aeroboats/articleshow/67479484.cms (11 Jan. 2019)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Telangana 3rd largeset state in water spread, but 6th in fish production Telangana has the country’s third largest water spread with 5.73 lakh sq km coverage in various water bodies including reservoirs but with 3.5 lakh tonnes of fish produced in 2018, it is the sixth largest in terms of fish production. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2019/jan/11/ts-has-third-largest-water-spread-but-sixth-in-fish-production-1923545.html  (11 Jan. 2019)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Karnataka Workshop on lakes, wetlands and civic interventions in Bengaluru – A participatory planning workshop was recently held by Sensing Local-Living along with Biome Trust, Varthur Rising and Whitefield Rising, bringing together the various stakeholders to discuss and arrive at the appropriate guidelines for designing the Varthur Lake wetlands. The objective was to adopt the right approach for the development of the wetlands around the lake, arriving at the right size, depth, capacity as well as appropriate type, so as to impact positively its biodiversity.

The workshop witnessed representatives from four neighbourhoods, presenting their experience with rejuvenating their neighbourhood lake. These included Agara Lake, Puttenahalli Lake, Jakkur Lake and Lower Ambalipura Lake which had been revived with the active involvement of the local neighbourhoods and currently feature as fine examples of what citizen involvement and partnership can do to the city’s waterbodies. The workshop also had a lengthy presentation by T.V. Ramachandra, professor from IISc, on various components of wetland design, its type, biodiversity and the plant typologies best suited for it. https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/lakes-wetlands-and-civic-interventions/article25970930.ece  (11 Jan. 2019)

Kaggadasapura Lake froths; residents fume Kaggadasapura Lake, near CV Raman Nagar in east Bengaluru, on Jan. 9 began frothing, sending foam flying into the neighbourhood. Residents from areas abutting the water body were forced to close their doors and windows. After Bellandur, Varthur and Kalkere lakes, Kaggadasapura Lake is the fourth water body in Bengaluru to froth at its surface.

Residents from the neighbourhood said the lake had frothed a few times earlier. Locals alleged that industries in Pai Layout and Versova Layout were the major cause. “These industries release waste into the lake and these effluents are the major cause for the frothing,” said Krishnamurthy Iyer, a resident of Versova Layout.

Spread over 47 acres, the lake in under the custody of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). According to the Koliwad committee report, 3 acres 24 guntas of the lake bed have been encroached. “We have given 5 acres to BWSSB for installing an STP at the lake and work is under way,” said BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad.

Locals had written to the Karnataka State PCB about the problem, following which a team was sent to inspect the water body. The PCB team said, “The primary source of water are storm water drains from its catchment area. The PCB also identified three major industries which could be the cause of the pollution. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/kaggadasapura-lake-froths-residents-fume/articleshow/67461657.cms (10 Jan. 2019)

Gujarat With dried Nalsarovar, livelihoods also dry up  SAD situation at Nalsarovar:- But this January, there is none — neither the colony of birds nor the swarming tourists. Nearly 300 boatmen, who ferried tourists from one side of the lake meandering through flocks of brahminy ducks and purple moorhen, are sitting idle. The lake has dried up completely, revealing its cracked and blackened bed.

Near Ahmedabad, Livelihoods Dry Up With A Dried Wetland
Boats on the dry bed of Nalsarovar which teemed with migratory birds during winter every year. (Express: Javed Raja)

The last time, the lake and the adjoining marshes had witnessed a drought like this was in 2002, according to the people in the area. Satellite images of the wetland from the US government agency, United States Geological Survey (USGS), show how in the last three years, the watery areas of the wetland has severely shrunk. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/near-ahmedabad-livelihoods-dry-up-with-a-dried-wetland-5526078/ (9 Jan. 2019)

Telangana Experts slam govt for apathy to water bodies In a workshop ‘Frothing Lakes: Causes and Mitigation,’ organised by CSIR-NEERI on Jan. 9, experts and concerned have criticized state govt. careless attitude towards water bodies alleging that situation would soon be worse than Bengaluru if corrective measure are not taken.

– As per activist Dr Lubna, the govt has ordered that there is no need to restore the Bum Rukn Ud Dowla because there is no need for that drinking water source, after the project Bhagirathi. Bengaluru water bodies are distributed in a linear model but in Hyderabad, it is in a radial model which puts the latter in a much pernicious situation than the former, warned B V Subba Rao, faculty at ESCI Hyderabad.  https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2019-01-09/Experts-slam-Telangana-State-government-for-apathy-to-water-bodies/472310 (9 Jan. 2019)

WATER OPTIONS

SANDRP Blog Uffrenkhal’s Legacy of Recharge Pits Ensures Water Security 

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Inspiring tale of three villages in Thalisain tehsil (Pouri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand) which have been putting in sustained efforts for years in creating recharge pits, plantation and forest protection that has ultimately resulted in revival of water sources and Gadganga a small stream part of East Nayaar River basin. https://sandrp.in/2019/01/12/uffrenkhals-legacy-of-recharge-pits-ensures-water-security/  (12 Jan. 2019)

Maharashtra US-Based engineer help village save 200 Cr litres of water  – He may be a resident of California’s Santa Clara with a lucrative annual package as the Director of Engineering for Yahoo USA, but Halgara (Six kilometres away from the Maharashtra-Karnataka border lies the tiny village of Halgara in Latur district) remain close to his heart for a very important reason. it was due to this young man that the drought-hit village embarked on the path of becoming jalyukt or drought-free in the last three years.

– Datta returned to Halgara with his family and spent almost three lakh rupees from his own pocket to start the watershed activities. His idea was simple. To preserve every drop of rainfall in his village by helping it seep into the ground and recharge the groundwater table, rather than allowing it to run off. The first step was desilting the 20 km canals in Halgara. It was only when the silt covering the riverbeds was cleared, that the water seeped into the layers of the ground below.

“Even if we manage to ensure that 30 per cent of this water (that runs off from the river beds into the sea) recharges groundwater tables, we can bring over 50 per cent of Indian agricultural land under the secure water zone,” informs Datta. They also used about 1,500 hectares of farmland to create compartment bunds to store water during the monsoons. The impact of the project is visible in how the groundwater level of Halgara, which was previously at a depth of 800 ft has now risen to 100 ft. https://www.thebetterindia.com/169271/latur-swades-real-story-water-drought-village-maharashtra/  (11 Jan. 2019)

Monga Bay report Restoring tank irrigation can strengthen rural climate resilienceSince India’s Independence, tank water irrigation has declined in the country due to a combination of reasons: policies, neglect, population rise and the shift to groundwater. Tank water harvesting and irrigation offer a host of benefits such as replenishing groundwater levels, providing drinking water for rural communities and livestock, conserving top-soil and harbouring fish.

– Both tank and groundwater irrigation must be treated as complementary methods rather than substitutes and must be integrated at the watershed level, say researchers in recent research papers. Tanks should be designed to be climate resilient to tackle future floods and droughts. Tanks can help to be climate resilient to tackle future floods and droughts. https://india.mongabay.com/2019/01/08/restoring-tank-irrigation-can-strengthen-rural-climate-resilience/  (8 Jan. 2019)

Madhya Pradesh Check dams brought back hope to Jhabhua district To address the inadequate supply of water in the area, an integrated watershed project built 23 new check dams and revamped six existing dams in the region. https://yourstory.com/2019/01/jhabhua-check-dams-drought-harvest/  (6 Jan. 2019)

GROUNDWATER

Op-Ed Politicians must recognise that groundwater plays big role in farmers’ crisis by K A S Mani:India’s farm economy can be sustained only if its groundwater distress is properly assessed and ecological solutions implemented. The farm crisis is more serious in ecologically fragile regions, which are drought-prone, witness high temperatures with poor irrigation facilities and depend chiefly on groundwater irrigation. And it only become worse with climate change. In effect, politicians have to factor the global implications of the problems in their backyard into their manifestoes and promises.

Politicians can initiate schemes at the watershed level, through local institutions like the gram panchayat. Such schemes can be aimed at improving soil fertility, soil moisture, organic content, arrest degradation, reducing flash floods and manage pest impact.

A lot of farmers are indebted because of failing wells and falling groundwater levels, especially in the absence of a sustainable groundwater management policy. Moreover, the economic value of groundwater in food production hasn’t been assessed yet.

One reason for this is that the irrigation ministry seems obsessed only with engineering structures, and the science of groundwater hydrology has been neglected. For example, India is the world’s largest extractor of groundwater but doesn’t have a reliable database on the wells in the country nor a record of how much groundwater are used by different crops. https://www.thewire.in/environment/politicians-must-recognise-that-groundwater-has-a-big-role-in-farmers-crisis (12 Jan. 2019)

Tamil Nadu Monsoon fails and groundwater level dips in 20 districtsTamil Nadu is staring at a serious water crisis this summer. While on the one hand, the northeast monsoon failed the State, on the other groundwater levels have dipped remarkably. Analysis of December 2018, data – released by the State Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre of the Water Resources Department – reveals that the situation is much worse than the peak summer months of April-May.

A whopping 20 out of 32 districts in the State are in the red and the depletion rate is recorded as high as 4.32 meters in Perambalur district. Though, the data does not disclose Chennai’s groundwater levels, it is obvious that the capital city will be at the top among the worst-affected districts as the monsoon season ended with a 55 per cent deficit in rainfall. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2019/jan/10/monsoon-failure-groundwater-level-dips-in-20-tn-dists-1923083.html (10 Jan. 2019)

Toxic threat to Chennai’s groundwater A cluster of tanneries based in Pallavaram are working to lay a 13.5 km-long underground pipeline to transport treated effluents to the Perungudi Sewage Treatment Plant. Because the Zero Liquid Discharge system — that they are required to use — “costs a lot to maintain” and encounters “technical glitches”. The pipeline project, pegged to cost about `40 crore — has received a No Objection Certificate from the TNPCB. Construction is likely to begin in April. While industrialists have welcomed the move, ecologists are worried about the potential damage it can cause to water bodies and groundwater.            

Currently, there are 130 tanneries in the Pallavaram cluster that generate close to 2 MLD of effluents, which is treated at the Common Effluent Treatment Plant that has a capacity of 3 MLD. But that is not enough. To adhere to the pollution control board norms, tanneries must maintain a low rate of Total Dissolved Solids (TLD). They are supposed to send the treated effluents to a Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) system to completely eliminate any discharge.

But the Pallavaram Tanners Company has not been doing that. The (ZLD) system installed at their premises 10 years ago is not being used anymore. They are currently dumping the treated effluents into Adayar River. But since this does not solve the problem of maintinating a “low TLD rate”, they have come up with the pipeline idea. Their effluents will now be taken to Perungudi sewage treatment plant, mixed with domestic sewage and then released into Buckingham Canal.

A highly placed source privy to the matter explained the issue the tanners have with ZLD. Due to high contaminants in the reject water, the zero liquid discharge system is unable to turn the effluents completely into salt crystals. Instead, it turns into a paste-like consistency. “This is because of improper biological process. Reject water will have five times more toxins than the effluents. If the effluents are treated more rigourously, salt formation will not be a problem,” says the source.   

The tanners have a different theory: “To be environmentally friendly, we did try to use the ZLD system. As we convert only semi-finished goods unlike other tanneries in the State, our effluents have low levels of dissolved solids — at 6,000 mg/l. Because of this, the salt in the effluents does not crystallise and instead turns into a paste,” says Mohamed Nazeeb, MD of the Pallavaram Tanners Industrial Effluent Treatment Company (PTIET).

Remember the 2012 Tondiarpet oil leak? A major leak was detected then in one of Bharat Petroleum’s pipeline transporting crude oil from Chennai Port to refineries. The accident severely contaminated groundwater table. Experts fear a similar scenario could occur here — industrial waste, though treated, contains contaminants that can pollute groundwater and damage human health.

Interestingly, of the 14 CETP facilities across the State, only the ones in Chennai do not follow the Zero Liquid Discharge model. In the ZLD model, toxic effluent is converted into salts. This will prevent it from being released into water bodies or farmlands and thereby harming human or animal health. In this process, 80 per cent of tannery waste is treated through reverse os mosis method while 20 per cent is evaporated to obtain salts. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2019/jan/11/toxic-threat-to-citys-groundwater-1923497.html (11 Jan. 2019)

Rajasthan State faces water crisis with declining groundwater A decadal average study counted from Nov. 2008 to Nov. 2018 by CGWB on 928 station has inferred that there has been  decline in groundwater by 62.70% in the state with only 37.20% rise. Rise is mostly in south to south central, north western, western and west central parts of the state. About 62.70% stations, scattered mostly in eastern, south western, north eastern and north central parts, shows decline in water level. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/state-faces-water-crisis-with-decline-in-groundwater/articleshow/67428351.cms (8 Jan. 2019)

West Bengal Oppn flags groundwater concerns, demands intervention of mayor With three lakh people in Kolkata affected by depleting groundwater level — which is also triggering arsenic threat — Left Front councillors on Jan. 10 sought mayor Firhad Hakim’s intervention in the matter. From Shakuntala Park and Sarsuna in Behala to Subhaspally in Garia, the scene is the same everywhere.

KMC water supply department officials were in a dilemma over the replacement of the tube-well as the civic top brass a couple of years ago had drafted a policy banning installation of tube-wells. However, having failed to supply filtered water to large parts of Behala, Jadavpur, Tollygunge or areas located off EM Bypass, the KMC is now forced to give sanction for installation of tube-wells. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/oppn-flags-groundwater-concerns-demands-intervention-of-mayor/articleshow/67483860.cms (11 Jan. 2019)

URBAN WATER

Pune PMC seeks to hike water charges by 15 per centThe Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) administration has tabled a proposal to hike water charges by 15 per cent and introduce user charges for the processing of garbage in the next financial year. The civic administration has submitted its tax proposal before the civic body’s Standing Committee, which would be taken up for discussion in a special meeting. According to the proposal, there will be no hike in property tax, but there will be a 15 per cent hike in water charges and the civic body will introduce user charges for garbage processing.

In 2017, the PMC had passed a resolution to increase water charges by 15 per cent every year, in order to raise funds for the implementation of its other projects: revamping the water supply system and ensuring 24×7 water supply to the city. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pmc-seeks-to-hike-water-charges-by-15-per-cent-introduce-user-charges-for-garbage-processing/  (10 Jan. 2019)

Bengaluru Residents may soon have to pay 30 pc more for water The Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) officials are now working on a proposal which recommends the increase in water tariff by 30-35% and officials say that the proposal will soon be sent to the Karnataka govt for approval. The water supply agency is also planning to recover some of the expenses it incurred in projects in the city by increasing the tariff.

BWSSB will have to hold public consultation before the proposal is sent to the government. Officials say that in March 2018, the Karnataka government rejected the agency’s initial proposal made in October 2017 and had recommended that BWSSB hold public consultation. In 2014, the BWSSB had increased the minimum water tariff from Rs 48 to Rs 57 per month and the minimum monthly bill from Rs 83 to Rs 100 per month for domestic usage. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/bengaluru-residents-may-soon-have-pay-30-pc-more-water-94821 (10 Jan. 2019)

Hyderabad Water crisis looms large Despite a bountiful monsoon, the city is heading towards a water crisis in the summer with levels in the Krishna river basin depleting at an alarming pace. On Jan. 11, water stood at 541 feet at Nagarjunasagar, and was depleting at the rate of a feet a week. Out of the 465 million gallons supplied to the city daily, Hyderabad receives 190.62 MGD from Nagarjunasagar.

The Water Board has decided to supply water from Manjira and Singur to conserve resources in the Krishna basin.  Board officials have written to the irrigation department to stop supply for irrigation and maintain minimum draw down levels in Nagarjunasagar and Srisailam. A high-level meeting would be held soon to discuss measures to overcome the crisis. If water is released for irrigation, emergency pumping will have to be started from February and the situation would worsen in summer. Explaining why water was scarce despite the rain, a Water Board official said TS had not received Krishna water from Karnataka. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/120119/hyderabad-water-crisis-looms-large.html (12 Jan. 2019)

WATER POLLUTION

Karnataka Waste water use in agriculture: ball reaches SC  Vishwanath Srikantiah on this important development:- The SC has put a stay on the pumping of treated wastewater to Kolar tanks from the wastewater treatment plants in the Koramangala and Chalaghatta valley of Bengaluru, comes the news.

The stay means that this volume of treated wastewater will flow in the Dakshina Pinakini, mix with volumes of untreated wastewater and reach Kelavarapalle dam near Hosur in Tamil Nadu. These waters will then be used to irrigate 1085 acres of land to be cultivated by Tamil Nadu farmers. Some amount of the water will also be picked up by farmers in Karnataka through pumps for irrigation.

A city consumes vast volumes of water. That which is consumed for domestic purpose should reach wastewater treatment plants, be treated to standards prescribed by the pollution control board and then released into the environment or reused. The Govt has thought up a scheme to pump this water from the sewage treatment plants in the Koramangala and Challaghatta valley to fill 136 tanks in Kolar District. This will recharge aquifers in the surrounds and be used for agriculture is their thinking.

The petitioner’s contention is that the treated wastewater has excess heavy metals, Faecal coliform and Nitrates/Phosphates and hence will be harmful for drinking purpose, as well as growing food crops. The High Court initially put a stay on pumping but later on cleared it. The Supreme Court now will hear the matter. http://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/bangalore-waste-water-cannot-go-to-kolar-says-court-31133 (8 Jan. 2019)

Tamil Nadu Sanitation does not end with flushing a toilet  The Sanitation Cycle Students of a local school visit the Karunguzhi Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant in Kanchipuram district. Karunguzhi is one of some 7,000 towns in India with no underground sewage network, where untreated toilet waste is hazardously disposed of in undesignated areas. In building its faecal sludge treatment plant in 2017, Karunguzhi has been one of the first in the country to move towards the full cycle of sanitation.  https://www.indiaspend.com/sanitation-does-not-end-with-flushing-a-toilet-a-tamil-nadu-town-shows-how-to-complete-the-sanitation-cycle/  (7 Jan. 2019)

Thiruvallur’s thermal plants shut down 3 thermal power plants in Thiruvallur downed its shutters after the Madras High Court prohibited the discharge of fly ash into the Vallur pond. This was confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer of NTPC Tamil Nadu Energy Company limited (NTECL) who wrote to TANGEDCO on Tuesday about the closure. TANGEDCO also maintained that fly ash will not be a problem moving forward since it has awarded contracts to sell fly ash produced by all its thermal plants. The thermal power plant at Vallur began operations in 2012.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/thiruvallur-s-thermal-plants-shut-down-tangedco-plans-buy-power-open-market-94853  (11 Jan. 2019)

AGRICULTURE

GDP estimate for 2018-19  SBI’s Chief Economic Advisor estimates that agri growth rate in 2018-19 could be negative, worse in a decade. https://www.counterview.in/2019/01/gdp-estimates-for-2018-19-agricultural.html  (9 Jan. 2019)

FLOOD

Bihar Koshi flood affected people “not being compensated”: NAPM writes to CM  Led by the Koshi Nav Nirman Manch (KNNM), people displaced by the Koshi embankment area have been on an indefinite dharna at the Supaul district headquarters since January 10, 2019, seeking government assistance, as they have had to leave their place of residence following the disaster that has struck them because of frequent floods leading to soil erosion.

NAPM says, “Before they were forced to sit on dharna, the district administration was communicated about their plight, and on August 30, a protest meeting was held, after which district office bearers promised to fulfill all their demands, but it this has remained a mere assurance. On December 21 they met Principal Secretary, Disaster Relief Department, and on January 7 they declared their intention to start dharna.”

KNNM demands include a survey of the houses damaged due to floods, crop damage, providing compensation to the disaster affected people in accordance with SOP set by the government, providing people ration for the whole year to those who are deprived of food security, loans waiver to farmers, MNREGA work, and their resettlement and rehabilitation. https://www.counterview.in/2019/01/koshi-flood-affected-people-not-being.html (13 Jan. 2019)

Also see NAPM open letter to Bihar CM in Hindi here.  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/2421144594579866?__tn__=K-R (13 Jan. 2019)

DROUGHT

Gujarat Ahmedabad: Canal incomplete, water for farming ends up in river  The Dhatarvadi-II dam in Amreli district in Gujarat was completed in 2004 and is designed to irrigate around 2,600 ha. However, the command area development is hobbled by land acquisition issues. The water is released into the river for farmers to lift water from there. Water was released in a similar manner in 2014 and 2017.

Ahmedabad: Canal incomplete, water for farming ends up in river
Water being released from Dhatarwadi-II dam on Jan. 7. (Image Source: TIE)

The government has not been able to complete the canal network despite two decades having lapsed. Dhatarwadi-II dam, located near Rajula town, has a gross storage capacity of around 360 mcft and live storage capacity of 262 mcft. Current storage in live capacity is about 50 mcft. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/ahmedabad-canal-incomplete-water-for-farming-ends-up-in-river-5531208/ (10 Jan. 2019)

Surat farmers march against water rationing Thousands of farmers marched on the streets of Surat on Jan. 8 against the ongoing water scarcity in the district and demanded the state government to supply water for irrigation for 80 days during the summer season instead of the 42 days as notified by the Irrigation Department. The farmers, under the banner of Khedut Samaj, also asked the government to rescind its circular asking farmers to not sow paddy next summer.

Following a deficient monsoon this year and less rainfall in the catchment areas, the water level in Ukai dam stood at 318.56 feet. Following which, the Irrigation Department decided that water from the dam will be released for 22 days in March and 20 days in April. The water from the dam supplies water for irrigation to farmers in Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, and Valsad districts. Last year, the water level in Ukai dam was 323 feet after monsoon, and the government had decided to supply irrigation water for 116 days on a rotation basis. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/surat-farmers-march-against-water-rationing/ (9 Jan. 2019)

To meet Rajkot city’s water demand, Narmada water reaches Aji-I dam After the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) approached the state government with a request to pump more water in Aji-I dam to meet drinking water requirement during summer, the state irrigation department had started pumping 150 MLD water from Dholidhaja dam in Surendranagar to Aji-I dam via link-III of SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation) Yojana from the beginning of this month. The department expect to last this water till the end of April 2019 and as a precautionary measure, requested state govt to pump 600 million cubic feet more Narmada water.

This is the second time in three months that Narmada water is being pumped into Aji-I dam. The irrigation department had pumped 450 mcft water into the Aji-dam in October and November as the water level was very low following very little rainfall in its catchment area. Aji-I is the single largest local source of water for Rajkot. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/to-meet-rajkot-citys-water-demand-narmada-water-reaches-aji-i-dam-5527779/ (8 Jan. 2019)

Maharashtra Water stock in dams in Ghod sub basin drops below half way mark The latest state irrigation department data has revealed that water stock in Manikdoh and Yedgaon dams has dropped upto 14% and 16% while stock in Pimpalgaon Joge and Ghod were recorded at 32% and 33% respectively. Among the 7 dams, Dimbhe has the highest storage of 49% while stock in Visapur was at 7% which was the lowest. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/water-stock-in-dams-in-ghod-sub-basin-drops-below-half-way-mark/articleshow/67436024.cms  (8 Jan. 2019)

SOUTH ASIA

India- Pakistan ‘Breakthrough’ as India greenlights Chenab hydropower projects inspection by Pakistan  Pakistani Commissioner for Indus Waters Mehr Ali Shah said a delegation of Pakistani experts will visit the two Indian project sites on Chenab River for an inspection, scheduled for later this month. “India has also given positive signals regarding inspection of other projects constructed on Chenab River,” he revealed.  Pakistan has objections to the pondage and freeboard of Lower Kalnal, and pondage, filling criteria and spillway of Pakal Dul hydropower projects on Marusadar River — a right bank tributary of the Chenab. https://www.dawn.com/news/1456907  (11 Jan. 2019)

Nepal Way forward for hydropower development  The article says half of this potential is unviable. Much more is likely to be unviable. – Karnali and Mahakali river basins have a catchment area of 48,811 km2 and 16,097 km2, with approximate hydropower potential of 36,180 MW (the watershed area of the Mahakali River lies in India and Nepal)

– Gandaki river basin has a catchment area of 36,607 km2 and approximate hydro potential of 20,650 MW. Koshi river basin has a catchment area of 57,700 km2 and hydro potential of 22,350 MW (the watershed area lies in Tibet/China and Nepal)

– Other river basins (i.e., southern rivers) have a catchment area of 3,070 km2 and hydro potential of 4,110 MW. https://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2019/01/hydro-review-the-way-forward-for-nepal-s-hydropower-development.html (11 Jan. 2019)

Bangladesh Teesta, Dharla turn into canals 12 small rivers have already dried up and two major rivers — Teesta and Dharla — have been turned into canals in the district due to lack of water flow from upstream India.

The Dharla river near the bridge at Kulaghat in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila sees only a lean flow during the ongoing dry season. Photo: S Dilip Roy

– Mile of chars have developed on the rivers, causing problems for the char people as they have to cross many kilometres of sandy char land to go to the mainland.

– As the two major rivers have turned into canals, almost all of the 300 boatmen and over 2,000 fishermen, who depended on the rivers to earn their livelihood, have became unemployed. They are searching for other jobs in the Teesta and Dharla river char areas. https://www.thedailystar.net/country/news/teesta-dharla-turn-canals-1685923  (11 Jan. 2019)

Pakistan SC imposes Re 1 per litre charge on mineral water, beverage firmsIn a landmark decision, SC on Jan. 12 imposed a levy of Re 1 for every litre of surface water extracted by companies selling mineral water and beverages, according to a media report.

The judgement was issued on a suo motu case pertaining to selling by the companies of water extracted from underground sources without any charge as well as the quality and fitness of the same for human consumption, Dawn newspaper reported.

The revenue so collected will used for construction of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams. The apex court made it clear that the funds so collected would not be diverted in any circumstances to any other purpose other than construction of dams and water-related activities. https://indianexpress.com/article/world/pakistan-supreme-court-imposes-per-litre-charge-on-mineral-water-beverage-firms-5535269/  (12 Jan. 2019)

ASIA

Malaysia Johor to severely punish sand-mining operators for pollution The Johor govt will take harsh action against sand-mining operators in the state for failing to maintain their mining areas, causing pollution to rivers that supply raw water to be processed. Johor International Trade, Investment and Utilities Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse said the state government will not compromise with those who pollute water sources. https://sg.news.yahoo.com/johor-severely-punish-sand-mining-050839737.html (7 Jan. 2019)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Study Social and environmental costs of hydropower are underestimated, study shows The warning comes from an article by researchers at Michigan State University published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The lead author is Emilio Moran, a visiting professor at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paulo State, Brazil. “We argue that if the construction of large dams in developing countries is to continue, it must always be preceded by a painstaking assessment of their real cost, including the environmental and social impact they have,” Moran said.

– “When a large dam is built, the result is a downstream loss of a great many fish species that are important to riverine populations. These communities will have to continue somehow making a living despite dwindling fish stocks for 15 or 20 years, for example, and the costs of these projects don’t take such economic and social losses into account.”

– “The cost of removing a dam once its useful life is over is extremely high, and should be taken into account when computing the total cost of a new hydro development,” Moran said. “If the cost of removal had to be included, many dams wouldn’t be built. It would be far more expensive to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity via a hydro complex with a useful life of 30 to 50 years, like those under construction in Brazil.” https://phys.org/news/2019-01-social-environmental-hydropower-underestimated.html  (11 Jan. 2019)

Easter Island statues: mystery behind their location revealed  Mystery of the Easter Island Statues:-The huge stone figures of Easter Island have beguiled explorers, researchers and the wider world for centuries, but now experts say they have cracked one of the biggest mysteries: why the statues are where they are.

Researchers say they have analysed the locations of the megalithic platforms, or ahu, on which many of the statues known as moai sit, as well as scrutinising sites of the island’s resources, and have discovered the structures are typically found close to sources of fresh water. They say the finding backs up the idea that aspects of the construction of the platforms and statues, such as their size, could be tied to the abundance and quality of such supplieshttps://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jan/10/mystery-of-location-of-easter-island-statues-revealed (10 Jan. 2019)

ENVIRONMENT

Op-Ed A National Law for Urban Trees VERY useful article from RITWICK DUTTA on: However, unlike forest, wildlife, water, and air, there exists not even a single central legislation for the protection of trees in areas that are not a part of the forestland. Protection and preservation of trees is governed only through state-specific tree preservation laws of the respective states. This article examines the basic structure of the tree preservation laws, and appraises how effective these have been in protecting trees in certain instances where these were invoked.

In addition, it focuses on the judicial response to the felling of trees in non-forest areas in the country. It also identifies key areas for policy and legal reform so far as tree protection is concerned. https://www.epw.in/journal/2019/1/commentary/national-law-urban-trees.html   (5 Jan. 2019)

Study 99% MGNREGA funds “exhausted”, Govt makes no additional sanctions

A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined. https://www.counterview.net/2019/01/99-mgnrega-funds-exhausted-govt-of.html  (12 Jan. 2019)

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver Great to Dr Deepak Malghan raising such issues at IIM, and sad to see the punishment he is facing. https://www.counterview.net/2019/01/call-to-support-iim-bangalore-professor.html   (9 Jan. 2019)

Compiled by SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 7 Jan. 2019 & DRP News Bulletin 31 Dec. 2018   

Follow us on: www.facebook.com/sandrp.in; https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers    

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 7 January 2019: NGT REJECTS FLAWED GROUNDWATER NOTIFICATION

Good to see NGT rejecting the flawed Groundwater notification dated Dec 12, 2018 from CGWA that was also critiqued by SANDRP: https://sandrp.in/2018/12/31/groundwater-governance-why-dec-12-2018-cgwa-notification-would-be-disastrous/. However, NGT should have asked an independent panel to formulate the policy for sustainable groundwater use, rather than a committee of the same government persons. Besides, there is also need for restructuring of currently totally ineffective CGWA and make it COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT of government.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 7 January 2019: NGT REJECTS FLAWED GROUNDWATER NOTIFICATION”