Feature image: Women in Banda performing Jal Satyagrah against illegal sand mining in Ken river. (PARI)
Sand mining menace has been a very dark spot on India’s governance. It affects not just the river beds or flood plains, but also water security, livelihood security, biodiversity, groundwater recharge among many other aspects. Banda Satyagarah provides a striking picture to highlight this issue, but the worrying fact is that we have no real sustained positive story on this front. Even major interventions by the highest judiciary has completely failed to make any major dent on ground.
SANDRP has been bringing out statewise updates on sand mining issues for several years now as we continue to do this year too, with the link to Kerala sand mining 2020 overview can be found below. These overviews make a rather dismal readind state after state, year after year. Occasionally we get stories like the NOIDA collector Durga Shakti Nagpal fighting sand miners in 2013 or 17 year girl from Kerala awakening us in 2018 or Sandhya Ravishankar getting Goenka award for exposing the Sand mining nexus in Tamil Nadu in 2019 or now the Banda women waking us up to this dark reality. Will we wake up to our collective failure in dealing with this SANDBERG?
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 08 June 2020: Banda Satyagaraha shows tip of the Sandberg”
In April May 2020, local people and media reports have highlighted riverbed mining practices going on in the Yamuna river impacting river eco-system and riparian communities in gross violation of lock down norms during the Covid 19 crisis.
The first case is reported from Yamuna Nagar district, Haryana on April 30, 2020 by Times of India, where miners had created a bund across the river in the Gumthala-Jathlana area impending the natural flow of the river.
Continue reading “Yamuna facing illegal, in-stream mining during lockdown”
In the ongoing debate on forest clearance for the controversial Etalin Hydropower project in Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh between the Forest Advisory Committee, The Hindustan Times’s consistent reporting and Sanctuary magazine launching a campaign along with others, one (of the many) key question that remains unanswered is: for whom this economically (in addition to socially, environmentally and from climate change perspective) unviable, massively expensive project being pushed in a power surplus country?
Electricity from hydropower projects is no longer economically viable, since cheaper options are available. Some misguided people are claiming virtue in hydropower project claiming it provides peaking power. The fact is India is today not only power surplus, the peak power deficit has been just around 1% or less for long time. This when there is no attempt to either monitor as to how much of the electricity produced from existing hydropower projects provides peaking power, nor is there any attempt to achieve optimisation of operation of existing hydro projects to produce maximum possible hydropower. Nor is there any attempt to even manage the peaks either through pricing or other policy measures. In such a situation there is clearly no justification for more hydro for peaking. Moreover, the storage option is becoming increasingly cost effective, reducing the peaking power needs. So then for whom this project whose cost won’t be less than Rs 30000 crores at most conservative estimates, being pushed? The contractors, the equipment suppliers, the hydro lobby, the consultants, the timber lobby, the dam lobby, or the kickbacks?
Continue reading “DRP NB 27 April 2020: For whom is this unviable Etalin project being pushed?”
Within a week of 21-day long lockdown in India that started at midnight on March 24, 2020, several reports in print, electronic and social media have been doing rounds showing remarkable improvements in water quality in many rivers in the country. Most of these are on the basis of naked eye observations in the form of pictures and videos by people.
Some of the reports quote pollution control boards’ officials and experts with some analytical data. People generally believe that the shutting down of industrial units has led to reduction in discharge of industrial effluents in the rivers, breathing fresh life in pollution laden streams. It’s right that there is halt in industrial belts and there is less industrial pollution reaching the rivers. However there are other factors contributing to the change in the scenario.
Continue reading “Cleaner rivers in lockdown: Lessons we can learn”
The Supreme Court order asking for fresh environment clearance and fresh Environment Impact Assessment for the Peripheral Ring Road project in Bengaluru is remarkable and most welcome, even though it is not directly related to water issues. The order is relevant since we have yet to find what can be called an honest Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for River Valley Projects and yet the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley Projects happily clears ALL the projects that come their way, even with most fraudulent EIAs. We are hoping against hope that this apex Court judgement will be a precursor to many such orders and judgements and general warning against fraudulent EIAs and EACs. We hope it is not too much to ask that the EIA be an honest effort and the EAC that does not reject fraudulent EIAs should also be dumped and members black listed. We hope we have such orders from the judiciary soon.
Continue reading “DRP NB 23 March 2020: Welcome SC order asks for fresh EIA: Will Judiciary be equally strong against all fraudulent EIAs?”
Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), with annual rainfall in access of 2000 mm, does not do much to harvest the rain. It does not protect its local water bodies. It does not recharge groundwater to the extent it can easily do. It does not reduce its transmission and distribution losses. It does not treat its sewage to recycle and thus reduce freshwater demand. It does no demand side management. And yet it keeps demanding more water, and for that building of more dams and thus pushing more destruction. Without any credible options assessment. It has no water policy or water vision for smart water management.
The proposed Gargain Dam that will lead to destruction of over four lakh trees in 720 ha forest mostly in Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary, is a good example of how Mumbai is fuelling such dam building and destruction. The Rs 3105 Cr project will have many other impacts, including displacement of tribals and destruction of livelihoods for thousands others. As SANDRP report showed six years ago, (https://sandrp.in/2013/12/20/dams-in-tribal-areas-of-western-ghats-for-water-supply-to-mumbai-why-are-they-unjustified/, https://sandrp.in/2013/12/18/multiple-dams-for-mumbai-region/) and as our letter to the then Maharashtra Chief Minister emphasised in 2015 (https://sandrp.in/2015/01/13/water-smart-mumbai-open-letter-to-cm-devendra-fadnavis/), MMR region does not need any of these dams.
It was good to see MID DAY news paper report and EDIT highlighting some of these issues. Will the people of Mumbai Rise up, to stop this destructive dam, being pushed in their names, the way they stood up to save the far fewer Aarey Milk Colony trees?
Continue reading “DRP NB 2 March 2020: Will Mumbai rise up against unwanted, destructive Gargai Dam?”
The statement of Shri U P Singh, secretary, Union Water Resources Ministry, that “industry (private or public sector) could adopt small rivers” seems to suggest that the government is moving towards handing over the rivers to Corporate bodies. The example Mr Singh gave of Drayavati River of Jaipur is even more disturbing since that river has been completely destroyed by the project implemented by the Tatas. It should not surprise though, considering that no less than the Prime Minister has been giving the example of canalisation of Sabarmati as an example of rejuvenation of the river. If this is what the government means by rejuvenation, that even Ganga and Yamuna are facing major risks of destruction. Its not less shocking that while Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar has questioned Modi government’s attempt to achieve Nirmal Ganga without attempting Aviral Ganga, his own government is basically following the same Sabarmati model on Ganga in Patna. If this is the example of “rejuvenation” of river according to the top most bureaucrat of of the government in charge of Water resources, nothing can save India’s rivers except a people’s movement against such moves wherever such destruction of rivers is attempted.
Continue reading “DRP NB 27 Jan. 2020: Beginning of Corporatisation of Rivers?”
21 November is celebrated as world fisheries day across the world. Apart from crucial source of food and livelihood to lakhs of fisherfolks in India, fish diversity determines the health of the water body including lakes, ponds and rivers. However with growing threats and pollution mass fish mortality has been taking place in various rivers and lakes in the country every year. On World Fisheries Day 2019 SANDRP has put together known mass fish kill incidents that took place this past year to highlight the gravity of threat so that corrective measures can be taken by respective Governments and others concerned.
Continue reading “WFD 2019: Mass Fish Kill Incidents Due to Pollution, Dry Rivers In India”
River carrying capacity is such a crucial factor in deciding if certain areas will be flooded and with what severity. This capacity is constantly changing, more so in tropical climate and high silt carrying rivers of South Asia, as new research shows. However, most models that are used in India, including by CWC, assume steady state situation. Nor are there constant and credible efforts to assess the river cross sections and river conveyance capacities and put them in public domain. The study shows how important it is that we wake up to this reality and ensure credible, consistent monitoring and assessments by credible independent agencies at the earliest. This has become even more urgent, the study underlines, since in changing climate, the rainfall patterns are changing fast.
Continue reading “DRP NB 18 Nov. 2019: River capacities are changing, but who is monitoring?”
इन दिनों हरियाणा के यमुना नगर जिले में यमुना नदी में बड़े पैमाने पर जमकर अवैज्ञानिक और अवैध तरीके से पत्थर, रेत खनन हो रहा है। जिसके कारण यमुना नदी का अस्तित्व खतरे में पड़ गया है। नदी से पत्थर-रेत निकालने के लिए भारत सरकार द्वारा बनाए गए सभी कानूनों को ताक पर रखा जा रहा है। परन्तु जिला प्रशासन और सम्बंधित विभाग मामले पर मौन साधे बैठे हैं।
हाल ही में खनन प्रभावित क्षेत्र के भ्रमण के दौरान, हमने देखा की कई बड़े वाहन नदी से भारी मात्रा में कीमती रेत ढुलान में लगे हैं। नदी की प्राकृतिक धारा को किसी जगह रोका गया है और किसी जगह पर मोड़ा गया है। बड़ी बड़ी जेसीबी और भीमकाय मशीनें बेतरतीबी से नदी तल से रेत खोदने में व्यस्त हैं। जगह जगह रेत के टीलें बने हुए हैं। कई स्थानों पर नदी में विशालकाय गढ्डे बन गए हैं। तो अन्य जगह नदी को बड़े तालाब में बदल दिया गया है। एक तरह से नदी नाम की कोई चीज देखने को नहीं मिली। नदी के स्थान पर रेत के ढ़ेर, जलकुंड और मशीनों और ट्रकों का शोर-शराबा ही देखने और सुनने को मिला।
Continue reading “यमुना 2019: खनन से खतरे में पड़ा नदी और लोगों का जीवन”