While the publication by the Union Jal Shakti Ministry of the first water body census of India is not only welcome but urgently required, the usefulness of the census findings will depend on the quality of the information in the report. Firstly, such a census should have been conducted in a bottom up way, starting from villages in rural areas and ward in urban areas. That way, the census findings would have not only been more reliable, but also the process would have helped create greater awareness about the water bodies and issues surrounding them.
In case of Karnataka, as the report below shows the survey by the Tank Conservation and Development Authority and Karnataka Public Land Corporation in 2021 showed the state had 40483 water bodies, whereas the Jal Shakti Ministry census of 2022 says the state has just 26994 water bodies, a huge 13489 less than the 2021 census. Clearly so many water bodies cannot disappear in a year. As some experts from Karnataka have asked, is the Jal Shakti Census a deliberate attempt to show that a much lower number of water bodies exist, allowing encroachers to go ahead to destroy water bodies not registered in the census?
Continue reading “DRP NB 010523: Water bodies census welcome, but how reliable?” →
(Feature Image: Cover page of World Bank report titled What the Future Has in Store: A New Paradigm for Water Storage)
On the occasion of World Water Day 2023, the United Nation will be organizing a conference (March 22-24) in New York, USA. In its latest report the World Bank has also raised concern over decline in fresh water storages and underlined the need of a new approach for integration of built and natural water storages as a measure to adapt to climate change related water challenges and better management of water resources.
There is no doubt that large parts of the world are facing water scarcity and insecurity from existing and looming threats both from man made reasons and changing climates. Given the omnipresent & increasing shortages of cumulative storage capacity and adverse impacts of built water storages especially big reservoirs and dams; it is time global bodies like UN, World Bank, policy makers and governments at large must focus on conservation and replenishment of natural water storages, which are far better, cost effective options available to address and mitigate ever increasing and evolving climatic threats on human water security and sources.
Continue reading “DRP NB 200323: Time to Focus on Natural Water Storages” →
(Feature Image:-Nayapakkam a lake near Chennai and a bird hotspot. 190 species have been recorded here and is a refuge for migratory harriers. https://ebird.org/hotspot/L3396760 Excavators were filling one end of the lake yesterday. Allegedly the ACS group is building an International school over it. M Yuvan, 05 Feb. 2023)
On the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2023 on Feb 2, 2023, SANDRP brought out five overviews about state of India’s wetlands. These included overview related to: 1. India’s Ramsar Wetlands 2. General overview of India’s wetlands 3. Top Ten stories about govt actions about wetlands 4. Top ten stories about judiciary actions about wetlands and 5. Positive stories about India’s wetlands. The links to the five overviews are available below.
The first thing that strikes from these overviews is that state of wetlands in India is bad, getting worse, they continue to face systemic neglect, damages, threats and govt apathy including Ramsar wetlands, which are supposed to have better protection than other wetlands, which is unfortunately not true. The nameplate of Ramsar wetland has now been given to 75 wetlands, but that provides no additional protection to them. in the name of information of Ramsar sites, there is only a combined interactive map apart from two separate pdf file links with location map and state wise listing Ramsar wetlands on Wetlands of India portal by MoEF&CC. The govt has neither prepared any concrete plan to address the threats nor has it developed credible monitoring mechanism which clearly shows it has no intention to improve the governance of these sites.
Continue reading “DRP NB 060223: Wetlands in India face damages, threats and Govt Apathy” →
In this yearend overview, we highlights some remarkable judicial decisions particularly by National Green Tribunal (NGT) and some ongoing legal disputes regarding violation of groundwater norms and its pollution in India in 2022. The NGT not only criticized MoJS (Ministry of Jal Shakti) new groundwater guidelines but also ordered penalizing Pepsi’s and Coke’s bottling plants in Uttar Pradesh for operating without NOCs. These were unfortunately later stayed by Supreme Court. Though the judicial interventions have once again revealed the sheer ineffectiveness of concerned bodies at central and state level however these orders have failed to bring any change in their functioning so far. NGT proceedings into allegations of groundwater pollution by liquor factory in Firozpur, Punjab has remained inconclusive while affected villagers and farmers have been staging protest for months.
In the first part of the overview, we have tracked the worsening situation of groundwater depletion and contamination in the country while in second part, we have covered some positive efforts and initiative taken by various governments for its management in 2022.
Continue reading “2022: Judicial Interventions in India for Groundwater Conservation” →
This second part of yearend overview, SANDRP highlights some positive reports and steps taken by various state governments in India for management and conservation of groundwater in 2022. In first part of the overview, we have tracked the situation of groundwater depletion and contamination in the country and in third part covered some remarkable judicial interventions regarding groundwater conservation in 2022.
Centre Recharge wells to power multi-city groundwater project. A pilot project on shallow aquifer management, initiated by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for 10 cities, under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), has identified recharge wells as key to improving groundwater availability. Experts have cited the non-availability of space to allow the percolation of rainwater as a major hurdle to recharging Bengaluru’s groundwater table. The Million Wells programme was launched by Biome Environmental Trust in 2015 to encourage citizens and communities to dig and maintain their own recharge wells. It also opened up employment for the traditional well-digger community, the mannu vaddars.
In Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will be the nodal agency for the project. Biome Environmental Trust and Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM) will be technical partners in the project, which is led by the National Institute of Urban Affairs, a national think-tank on urban planning and development. The pilot project also covers Chennai, Dhanbad, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Rajkot, Thane, and Pune. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/recharge-wells-to-power-multi-city-groundwater-project-1157262.html (28 Oct. 2022)
Continue reading “2022: Some positive reports on groundwater management “ →
This first part of the annual overview, SANDRP tracks some of the important developments regarding groundwater depletion and contamination in India and ongoing efforts, new steps taken by Central and various state governments in 2022 for the protection and conservation of the finite natural resource. Overall, these developments show no significant improvement in governance and management of groundwater resources which is also the water lifeline of the country amid its rising depletion and contamination. In second and third parts of the yearend roundup we have tracked some positive initiative for groundwater management by various governments in the country and some remarkable judicial interventions for groundwater governance and conservation in 2022.
Continue reading “2022: Groundwater Depletion, Contamination Continue amid Govts’ Efforts” →
This annual overview highlights the dam induced flood disasters, dam failure incidents in India during 2022. This year, the massive floods in Godavari have exposed the flood vulnerability of giant projects like Polavaram and Kaleshwaram. Also there have been multiple dam failures and dam induced floods in Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In absence of coordination and data sharing Hirakud induced floods in Mahanadi basin have affected several villages in Odisha and Chhattisgarh. There have been several instances of unscientific operations of dams and the operators continue to hide behind TINA (There Is No Alternative) excuse. The functioning of CWC as key flood forecasting and management agency has not shown any significant improvement. However, now it has accepted that faulty dam operations can lead to flood in downstream areas. Please see links to our 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 annual compilations on the subject.
Continue reading “Dam Floods, Failures and Disasters in 2022” →
(Feature Image: The report also states that the monitoring of the groundwater resources was affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. Source: Bloomberg/TIE)
This sounds so counter intuitive. The Ministry Jal Shakti on Nov 9, 2022 made some findings of its latest “National Compilation on Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India, 2022 public, strangely, without making the report public. It is not clear why the govt did not make the report public, though the counter intuitive nature of the findings provide some hint. The report claims that at all India macro level, the ministry claimed that the groundwater extraction is the lowest in 2022 since 2004, or 18 years and that the groundwater recharge has gone up.
These are counter intuitive findings, even if at macro level for a number of reasons. It is also unclear what methodology is used to arrive at these conclusions and if there has been any independent scrutiny of the same. Since groundwater extraction has been going up for over six decades now, this reversal will need plausible reasons. There are no indications that there is any reduction in this groundwater use. Secondly, the groundwater recharge mechanisms are under attack all over India, and thus the finding that there is increase in recharge raises questions. Particularly since the efforts at groundwater recharge through rainwater harvesting are far from convincing.
More importantly, the real story is at micro level, since groundwater occurs in decentralised aquifers and any significant reduction in use, increase in recharge has to happen at the aquifer level and the assessment also needs to be done and made available at aquifer level for it to have any impact on future regulation of groundwater. In fact the only regulatory body working for groundwater regulation, the CGWA, works in a centralised way and its work has been far from confidence inspiring. That makes this whole findings questionable. Moreover, it would also be useful to see if the extraction has reduced in over exploited areas and if the recharge has increased where it is required most: in over exploited areas. Too many questions and no answers, unfortunately.
Continue reading “DRP NB 14 Nov 2022: Jal Shakti Ministry says: Groundwater extraction down, recharge up???“ →
The government of India, through joint announcement of Union Ministries of Jal Shakti & Environment and Forests (such joint addresses are rather rare events) this week announced its plans to rejuvenate 13 major rivers of India (excluding Ganga but including some of the key Ganga tributaries!) through the limited activity of plantations is not every convincing on many counts. Firstly it is welcome to see that the government sees a role of forests as a hydrological asset. Unfortunately, this is clearly and completely absent in government’s forest management, both in policy and practice. If we see the forest governance of India through the functioning of the Forest Advisory Committee of MoEF, we see absolutely no sign of acknowledgement of this reality that forests are major hydrological assets. So for example when a decision is taken to allow diversion of major chunks of existing forests, there is never any discussion, assessment or counting of hydrological eco system services that forests provide. This is apparent in many cases, but most recently in the case of Ken Betwa project where the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee too has acknowledged this reality. So again it seems government’s mind or heard does not seem to know what the tongue is conveying!
Continue reading “DRP NB 21 Mar 2022: Centre’s unconvincing Plan to rejuvenate 13 major rivers” →
In the 2021 year-end review by the Ministry of Jal Shakti (Ministry of Water Resources), the passage of the Dam Safety Bill by the parliament figures in headlines. The question is are we any safer from dam disasters due to this? If we take a quick review of the numerous dam disasters just this year and also look at the dam disasters mentioned in this Bulletin that happened just in the last week of the passing year, the answer is clear no. Such disasters include ones in Himachal Pradesh, Nepal and Brazil.
There is also the news here of the Uttarakhand agency report about the Feb 2021 Chamoli disaster, about which the official govt agency has said failure of Early Warning System was a factor in the disaster. The bigger disaster is that the state govt has promptly issued show cause notice to the authors of the paper blaming the lack of EWS!
Continue reading “DRP NB 03 Jan 2022: Are we any safer from Dam Disasters?” →