(Feature Image: Thousands form human chain along Mhadei river to celebrate #MahadaiAmchiMai festival. Source: ToI)
On May 20, 2023 when thousands of people of Goa, Rakhondars (protectors) came out to form a 7 km long human chain to save Mhadei or Mahadayi river, they were not only celebrating Goa’s unique Mahadayi River festival, but were also coming together to declare their resolve save and rejuvenate the River that is lifeline of Goa.
A large number of organizations came together, including Earthivist Collective, Goa Heritage Action Group, Save Mhadei Save Goa front, among many others. It was a unique attempt to reconnect with the river, its history, its soul. The people from all kinds of art forms and all walks of life came together in a state where the connection with the river has always been strong for the people.
One hopes their tribe multiplies and they succeed in saving the river from dam building plans and other river affecting activities. That success will provide an example and impetus for river conservation activities elsewhere too.
Continue reading “DRP NB 290523: Goa Fights to save Mahadayi River” →
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: Reservoir of Vyasi hydro project dam on Yamuna river in Dehradun. Credit: Varsha Singh/The Third Pole.)
A section of the hydro lobby has been trying to push hydropower in the name of producing green hydrogen as an alternative energy source. However, it has been known for a long time that this is a false solution. There cannot be green hydrogen when sourced from hydropower as not only hydropower projects have huge social and environmental footprint, they also have huge carbon footprint as the following article shows. It would be best to out rightly reject any such claim of green hydrogen when sourced from hydropower project.
Continue reading “DRP NB 121222: Green Hydrogen from Hydropower is false solution” →
(Feature Image:- A boat is anchored on Yamuna bank as toxic foam float in Delhi, June 5, 2021. PTI Photo/TIE)
This report focuses on various plans implemented and under consideration by respective governments vis- a-vis the plight of Urban Rivers in ten cities of India during past one year. It shows the preoccupation of the government in setting up of more and more Sewage Treatment Plants and Industrial Effluent Treatment Plants, even as most of the existing STPs and ETPs are known to be functioning far below the promised levels and many not functioning at all. Without addressing the governance of the STPs and ETPs transparent, accountable and participatory, there is little chance of these helping the rivers. It seems more like part of government’s pre-occupation and faith in infrastructure and no faith in governance or people. It also covers some questionable decisions which would further damage the eco-system of these already degraded and threatened rivers in addition to impacting the dependent urban communities adversely.
Continue reading “Urban Rivers 2022-Top Ten Govt Actions: pre-occupation with STPs without accountable governance” →
(Feature Image: WATERMARK: An 1810 painting by J. Hammer of the Hooghly at Serampore/ Source, The Telegraph)
The plight of urban rivers in India has been going from bad to worse courtesy systematic neglect and unplanned development projects. On the one hand they are being increasingly deprived of freshwater flows by diverting water for domestic supplies and on the other have been turned into dumping place for mostly untreated solid and liquid waste in massive amounts from residential areas as well as industrial pockets. Nevertheless, there are some remarkable efforts being undertaken by individuals, organizations, government departments aiming at restoration of urban rivers at some places across the country. This compilation highlights top ten such positive urban river stories taking place during past one year.
Continue reading “Urban Rivers 2022: Top Ten Positive Stories from India” →
(Feature image: Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav with PM Narendra Modi before taking oath on July 7, 2021 PTI/HT.)
While the news that India has achieved the worst ever ranking of 180, at the bottom of 180 country index in terms of Environment Performance Index was shocking, it should not surprise too many people considering the way environment is treated by the current central government, particularly the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). As expected, MoEF questioned the methodology of the assessment, and the criticism has been responded to and rejected by the authors of the EPI report.
Now with a dictate of the MoEF (dated Apr 8, 2022, preceding the EPI news) coming to light, the trajectory of the MoEF should leave no one in doubt. Through this dictate, the MoEF has asked the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), a supposedly autonomous institute of the Ministry, to seek the ministry’s approval before it publishes any document, that too with retrospective effect! WII in any case, was towing the ministry’s line in many of the cases as is evident from its performance in regulatory committees like the Forest Advisory Committee, National Board of Wild Life and Expert Appraisal Committee (on River Valley Projects, possibly among others). And yet the Ministry has come out with this dictate, without giving any reasons, possibly since some of WII reports have been problematic for the govt in judicial proceedings in some cases. But the MoEF move to stop WII from publishing (and hence doing) any credible studies only shows the paranoia of the ministry. Its performance index would not improve this way, it would only get worse.
Continue reading “DRP NB 13 June 2022: Down in Dumps, MoEF becomes more opaque” →
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” →
(Feature image: Two Telugu states, one river — why Andhra & Telangana are fighting it out over the Krishna https://theprint.in/india/two-telugu-states-one-river-why-andhra-telangana-are-fighting-it-out-over-the-krishna/696801/)
The July 15 2021 Govt of India notification on Andhra Pradesh-Telangana water disputes is of doubtful legal validity and the Supreme Court urgently needs to examine this. The 2014 AP Regorganisation Act didn’t make provision for the Centre to take over water infrastructure of the two states, which is what effectively the centre has done through the July 15 notification. The Jul 15 notification effectively dismissing powers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana without any consultations and there is no provision in constitution for this.
There is no doubt that the long lingering water sharing disputes between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and which was the major reason for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, needs to be resolved. But the blame for not achieving any resolution of the disputes also lies with the Centre, the KRMB and GRMB are not even functioning with necessary urgency or effectiveness.
Continue reading “DRP NB 9 Aug 2021: Doubtful validity of GOI’s July 15 notification on AP-Telangana water disputes” →
It’s rather rare when some of the most well-known environmentalists of India, including Ritwick Dutta and Manoj Misra welcome the arrival of Bhupender Yadav as India’s new Environment Minister. The state of the environment governance under the outgoing minister, Prakash Javadekar has worsened so much, both in perception and substance, that possibly any change would look better. In fact Javadekar may be front runner for the label of India’s worst ever environment minister according to some analysts.
The environment appraisals, the constitution of committees including the various Expert Appraisal Committees, the Forest Advisory Committee and the Standing committee of National Board of Wildlife, the public hearings and consultation processes, the state of pollution and rivers, biodiversity, wetlands, floodplains, sand mining, to name just a few areas, were all seen going downhill on a steep slope during the Javadeker period. The monitoring and compliance remained non existent. Some would argue that was it much different before Javadekar. The point is Javadekar had no pretentions of trying to improve the environment governance. He was out to dilute every available norm and he seemed to have succeded significantly.
Even if Yadav were to genuinely wish to improve matters, how much will he be allowed to do, by the perceived imperatives of the economic fundamentalist agenda, the well-entrenched vested interests and the bureaucracy is a question that only time will tell, but there is little doubt that a lot can and needs to be done rather urgently and none of these perceived obstacles should come in the way if there is will. The climate change is making the improvement in environmental governance rather urgent.
Continue reading “DRP NB 12 July 2021: Will Bhupender Yadav improve India’s Environment Governance?” →
When the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Mentioned some exemplary water conservation efforts in his Mann ki Baat on June 27, 2021, it was not for the first time he was doing it. These are certainly most welcome.
However, these mentions raise a number of questions. If the Prime Minister considers these local water options as exemplary, which they indeed are, where do we see the reflection of the lessons from such efforts in government programs and policies? In fact why there is no reflection of such lessons in what the government does in water sector? How can the government justify the destruction of Panna Tiger Reserve, over 9000 ha of forests, some 46 lakh trees, the catchment of Ken river and large part of Bundelkhand in the name of Ken Betwa Link Project, in the same Bundelkhand. How can his government justify the destructive projects like the Char Dham Highway, the big hydro projects and so on in the same Uttarakhand where Sachidanand Bharati (who was incidentally recipient of the Bhagirath Prayas Samman of India Rivers Week) works, whose efforts the PM praised? One hope the PM and his government will be awake to the implications and lessons of the works that PM praises.
Continue reading “DRP NB 28 June 2021: Where is the impact of lessons of the water conservation efforts that Modi praises, on his government’s water projects and policies?” →