Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 31 Oct. 2016 (North to South India: Pharma Firms’ Waste Poisoning Rivers, People & Animals)

National The cost of cheap drugs The Bollaram-Patancheru region in Hyderabad, Telengana is famous for being one of the most polluted industrial areas in India. The periphery around the area has become so toxic one that 2001 article recommended that “most of the soils should be removed from agricultural production” in Patancheru. There is an increase in higher abortion rates to birth defects and stunted growth in children, as well as greater incidence of skin diseases in the region. In the district of Medak in the state of Telangana, Greenpeace in its several reports has identified that people, animals, crops and land have been afflicted by the pollution of industrial waste. Villagers report many serious health issues, including miscarriages, skin disorders, cancers and intestinal problems. The livestock suffer from the same problems. Most, not to say all, food grown in the village is unfit for human consumption. An inspection report published by CSE in November 2015 noted that most companies in Pattancheru-Bollaram were manufacturing pharmaceutical ingredients for which they did not have permission; using more water than the permitted limit and dumping more hazardous waste than allowed. Two of the units were operating without clearance from authorities.

In the case of the Ghaggar river in Punjab, all along its river course, one can witness foul smell, contamination of subsoil water, spread of water borne diseases and chances of damage of crop due to the presence of industrial chemical waste due to industrial waste from the industries in Punjab and Himachal. Media reports report similar occurrences around the Bhiwadi belt, where pharmaceutical companies discharge untreated effluents into drainages which then seep into the groundwater, making way into drinking water supply and agricultural land, resulting in environmental and health risks of unimaginable proportions.

In many low and middle income countries, weak laws and ineffective regulatory bodies have led to rising incidences of industrial waste flowing into ponds, lakes and rivers. If we examine the causes, the role of the pharmaceutical industry is similar to printing, chemical and paint industries. Pharma effluents contain hazardous chemicals which are leading to antimicrobial resistance or AMR where the human body is resistant to antibiotics, and thus, becomes susceptible to common infections. The very same ingredients used to manufacture antibiotics get mixed up with the bacteria during waste disposal, through our waters. Studies have shown that high levels of antibiotics are found in streams and lakes in the area close to many plant than in the body of human beings. The phenomenon is such that it is assuming the form of a serious public health issue in developing as well as developed countries. Over 700,000 people die every year because of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) all over the world. If this trend persists and resistance continues, McKinsey studies has shown that by 2050, around 10 million people globally will die because of AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance)

It is pertinent to note that New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase superbug (NDM-1), a bacteria, first found in New Delhi’s public water supply in 2008, is resistant to almost all known antibiotics and has spread to over 70 countries in the world.

On the other hand, scientists from multiple institutes having done a detailed study on river pollution concluded that arsenic in the study areas poses potential health risk to the residents and indicates that the “ingestion of water over a long time could magnify the probabilities of cancer.  They collected and assessed concentrations of 27 trace elements in surface water samples from 48 sites of waterways (lakes, canals, and tributaries of major rivers) in four states: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Telangana. Analysis revealed that elements such as chromium, selenium, arsenic, iron, and manganese are the major pollutants, as their concentrations exceeded the acceptable national and international water quality standards in several sites of Vrishabhavathi, Ennore, Adyar, Cooum and Periyar rivers. Further, statistical analysis revealed that the Cauvery, Ennore, Adyar, Cooum and Periyar river basins are affected by various anthropogenic activities, leading to moderate-to-high pollution by arsenic, chromium, manganese, iron, and selenium. According to the scientists, potential pollution sources are industrial waste, sewage intrusion, paint industry waste, and automobile runoff. 

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Inter State Water Disputes

Inter state River Water Disputes in India: History and status

Water sharing disputes across the country (and even beyond) are only going to escalate with increasing demands, and also with increasing pollution & losses reducing the available water. Climate change is likely to worsen the situation as monsoon patterns change, water demands going up with increasing temperatures, glaciers melt and sea levels rise. The government’s agenda of interlinking of rivers would further complicate the matters.

The ongoing Cauvery Water Dispute [iv] has once again brought the focus on interstate river water sharing disputes in India and what has been our experience so far. There is no solution of Cauvery water dispute in sight and the engineer-dominated Cauvery Management Board that the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal Award has recommended is unlikely to help matters. Continue reading “Inter state River Water Disputes in India: History and status”

Dams · Indus

So who will suffer in the Indus water imbroglio?

Diplomatic and military strategies, by definition, are not decided through public debates. So the jingoism around Indus treaty with Pakistan seems more like an attempt at sending threatening signals. But it will have multiple serious ramifications in any case, so it is worth deliberating about.

The 1960 Indus treaty has allocated rights of development on three eastern tributaries (Sutlej, Beas & Ravi) to India, and we have exhausted that entitlement almost fully. Attempts to use the occasional remaining flow will mean a huge impact in Indian Punjab, which is unlikely to resonate well with the people of Punjab.  The treaty gave Pakistan dominant right of development of the three western tributaries (Chenab, Jhelum and Indus), India has limitations about water use (both in terms of quantity and manner of use) in case of the western rivers. India has not yet exhausted the entitlement in this case.

Continue reading “So who will suffer in the Indus water imbroglio?”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 29 August 2016-WHEN DAMS CAUSE FLOODS

The dam induced flood disaster could only increase since we refuse to learn any lessons:

SANDRP Blog A tale of two dams: Is Bihar’s unprecedented flood an avoidable man-made disaster? Is the unprecedented water levels of Ganga that has flooded Bihar and UP an avoidable flood disaster? What role did the water releases from Bansagar dam in the upstream and Farakka Dam in the downstream play in this? SANDRP analysis of this developing situation. Feed back is welcome, Please help us disseminate this. Kindlyd also see the Hindi version of this blog here दो बाॅधों की कहानीः क्या बिहार की अप्रत्याशित बाढ़ एक टाली जा सकने वाली मानव जनित त्रासदी है? PRABHAT KHABAR newspaper of Ranchi carries “in-depth” articles by Parineeta Dandekar and Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP in the context of Bihar floods and demand to decommission Farakka barrage. Flood expert Dinesh Misra explaining role of dams behind unprecedented Ganga flood. In Part I of a separate report he narrates about Bihar/ Patna floods due to Ganga and Sone.  Also see, बिना नदियों के उफान के ही पटना डूब गया BBC Hindi website has published this based on a radio discussion they carried earlier on the issue of Bihar floods and role of Bansagar and Farakka dam.   Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 29 August 2016-WHEN DAMS CAUSE FLOODS”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 28 March 2016(Is India facing its worst-ever water crisis?)

Is India facing its worst-ever water crisis? On 11 March first time in 30 years history power generation at Farakka power plant in West Bengal was suspended for 10 days due to non-availability of water in Ganges. Nobody is sure why but the evidence about the declining water levels and waning health of the 2,500km long Ganges is mounting. Monsoon rains have been scanty for the second year in succession. The melting of snow in the Himalayas has been delayed. Water tables have also been declining in the Ganges basin due to the reckless extraction of groundwater. The 3-month-long summer is barely weeks away but water availability in India’s 91 reservoirs is at its lowest in a decade, with stocks at a paltry 29% of their total storage capacity, according to the Central Water Commission. Thousands of villagers in drought-hit region of Maharashtra depend on tankers for water & authorities in Latur district, fearing violence, have imposed prohibitory orders on gatherings of more than 5 people around storage tanks. Tens of thousands of farmers and livestock have moved to camps providing free fodder and water for animals in parched districts. The govt has asked local municipalities to stop supplying water to swimming pools. States like Punjab are squabbling over ownership of river waters. In water-scarce Orissa, farmers have reportedly breached embankments to save their crops. Realy the waning health of the sacred river underscores the rising crisis of water in India.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 11 Jan. 2016 (Punjab Villagers oppose Dam on Ghaggar River)

86 Villages rise in protest against dam on Ghaggar  A dam is proposed to be constructed on the Ghaggar, near Banur, at a cost of Rs 75 crore. An agreement was signed between representatives of various villages located downstream and the Irrigation Department in 2006 promising 200 cusecsto irrigate fields in thesevillages. Villagers now fear that they will not get the promised 200 cusecs after the construction of the dam. Their claim is that the water flow in the river is much lower than 400 cusecs, as claimed by the irrigation department. The department, on the other hand, sticks to its stand that the water flow in the river is sufficient enough to feed the canal and the villages downstream. However, a perusal of the monthly average discharge data of the river for the past 10 years, defies the department’s claim. It revealed that the average yearly discharge barely crossed 400-cusec mark over the past 10 years, excluding the peak period (July to September). Interestingly NABARD and the State Irrigation department had separately conducted studies of the project well before giving it a green signal.

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DRP News Bulletin

Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin, August 24, 2015

MAHARASHTRA DROUGHT

Stop westward diversion of water from Bhima-Krishna basin:SANDRP (21 Aug. 2015) The Report is based on interview of Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP and provides the steps that the Maharashtra govt can take to reduce drought and water scarcity in Maharashtra, starting with stoppage of westward diversion from Bhima-Krishna basin. This is based on Open Letter to Mahrashtra written by Parineeta Dandekar in the context of Marathawada drought and analysis of Marathawada drought by Parineeta Dandekar.

SANDRP has also written an Open letter to Tata Sustainability Group to stop westward diversion of Bhima basin water by Tata Hydro projects. SANDRP’s response to Tata Power on this issue was earlier published on August 17, 2015 Continue reading “Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin, August 24, 2015”