Since the beginning of 2019, there have been couple of incidents of hailstorm in Haryana and Punjab. The region has also seen good rainfall in January. The hilly states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand have been repeatedly facing heavy snowfall events gripping the large parts of North India in cold waves.
The initial rains and snowfall were seen usual events and considered as beneficial for rabi crops and water demands. However the unusual hailstorm accompanied by heavy rainfall In January 2019 and again on Feb 7-8, 2019 have caused significant damage to standing crops in large part of Haryana, Punjab and Western parts of Uttar Pradesh.
On November 16, 2017, the Supreme Court (SC) of India, prohibited 82 large lease holders from mining sand and stone activities in absence of scientific replenishment study. The ban continued all through the year of 2018 and so were the incidents of illegal sand mining and violent attacks on police officials.
The ban has reportedly hampered some development projects. The prices of sand has increased. Meanwhile the mining department is seen making efforts in exploring Manufactured Sand (M-Sand) as an alternative though it seems there is not much success as yet.
PM Modi inaugurated the first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga river in Varanasi on Nov. 12 under a project aimed at promoting inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport. The multi-modal terminals are being built as part of the central government’s Jal Marg Vikas Project that aims to develop the stretch of the river Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1,500-2,000 tonnes. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pm-modi-to-inaugurate-1st-multi-modal-terminal-on-ganga-river-in-varanasi-1944924 (9 Nov. 2018)
Central Water Commission is the only agency doing flood forecasting in India. As per CWC’s Flood Forecasting website[i] the Data Flow Map has information about 226 Flood Forecast Sites in the country comprising of 166 Level Forecast Sites and 60 Inflow Forecast Sites. It also monitors 700 Flood sites, information made available through List Based Exploration and Hydrograph View, but no flood forecasting is done for these sites.
In order to better understand the CWC’s flood monitoring and forecasting work, SANDRP has published report of CWC’s Level Forecast, Inflow Forecast and level monitoring sites in 5 zones of North India[ii], North East India[iii], East India[iv], South India[v] and West India[vi]. Through this report, we have presented all the data at one place with links to separate zone wise reports with detailed description.
Central Water Commission is the only agency doing flood forecasting in India. As per CWC’s Flood Forecasting website[i] the Data Flow Map has information about 226 Flood Forecast Sites in the country comprising of 166 Level Forecast Sites and 60 Inflow Forecast Sites. It also monitors 700 other sites, information is made available through List Based Exploration and Hydrograph View, but no flood forecasting is done for these sites.
On occasion of World Water Day 2018, SANDRP put together reports of remarkable water conservation work done by individuals, villager community and organizations across the country.
Good that UN report this WWD says[i]: “The efforts by local communities in India to improve water availability have been lauded in a UN report that highlights the importance of finding nature-based solutions to meet global water challenges…. The report notes that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at disposal. It also cited the example of China’s Sponge City which aims to recycle 70 per cent of rainwater.”
But the UN report[ii] does not mention that local options should be the top priority and should be exhausted before going for large projects. Unfortunately, Indian water resources establishment’s priority is Large dams and river linking. The UN report also does not say that local systems are bound to be neglected and destroyed in the shadow of large projects and where the governance is top down, unaccountable, non transparent and non participatory.
This story of Bandi River from Rajasthan is sixth in the series of online stories of urban rivers from across India. Please share your feedback and provide us with suggestions (read more in appendix). If you have any urban river stories or images that you might want to share, please send them to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Above: Anupam ji speaking at the inaugural function of India Rivers Week 2016)
“I need to go and pay respect to the people fighting for India’s Rivers” insisted the weak Gandhian, barely able to walk, on Nov 28, 2016. In his speech at India Rivers Week inaugural function that day, an ever alert Anupam ji with his characteristic wry humor, said if changing stones and electric poles at the ghats, morning and evening prayers on loud speakers is all that the government had to offer to rejuvenate the Ganga, than no amount of faith or funds is going to help the river. We first need to understand from where the rivers are getting fresh and polluted water and see how we can sustain the former and stop the latter. Continue reading “Anupam ji: Aaj bhi kharen hai simplicity and quite hard work”→
The SYL Row has been going on inconclusively for over last about 50 years. The matter also has been languishing in SC for last 40 years without any resolution. The seemingly unending disputes have been raising questions in the mind of many as to why the issue remains undecided and for how long the controversy will go on. To have better understanding of the issue we have put together a chronology of the events around the SYL dispute.
On November 10, 2016, Honorable Supreme Court (SC) of India has pronounced its judgment on Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL). In the decision, the apex court has termed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004 invalid and ruled that Punjab is bound to share Ravi-Beas river waters with Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi. The court has also ordered Punjab to comply with its two judgments for completion of the SYL canal.
It was certainly a Conference of Party (COP) of sorts. Those present included farmers, women, academics, media persons, delegates from other states (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi), Non Government Organisations and elected representatives. It also happens to be an annual event that has been going on for 27 years. It was certainly celebrating the work that actually helped mitigation and adaptation in changing climate in both drought and flood related possibilities. It was also happening on the same dates as the COP 19 was going on far away in Warsaw, Poland.
It was an honour for me to be present at Nagar village in Malpura block in Tonk district in Rajasthan at the 27th annual Dharati Jatan conference where the Pad Yatra from two different streams that culminated. Five eco warriors were honoured at this meeting with a certificate, silver medal, shawl and other ceremonial gifts. They were being honoured for their work related to tree plantation, soil and water conservation and protection of grazing land.
As speakers at the conference on November 16, 2013 narrated, this annual festival is a remarkable achievement by the Gram Vikas Nav Yuvak Mandal at Laporiya in Dudu block in Jaipur district, led by Laxman Singh, now famous for his grazing land protection through the unique chauka system.
Experience of the marchers The leaders of two streams of marchers presented their experience. Rameshbhai Saini, leader of the first stream that marched through the 15 villages of Dudu block (Jaipur district) also mentioned the difficulties people are facing. For example, he mentioned how Phulsagar, one of the tanks in Laporia is encroached and communities’ efforts to remove the encroachment did not succeed as the encroacher had the support of the Rajasthan minister Babulal Nagaur who is also the member of the Legislative assembly from the local area.
Ramjilalji, the leader of the second stream that walked through Malpura block villages (Tonk district) starting from Sindolia village, also said that encroachments on tanks are increasing under political support and when volunteers try to remove such encroachments to save the water bodies, they are faced with court cases. He also said that the state government is laying long distance pipelines and building cement containers to bring the water from mega dam Bisalpur to the villages in the area. He very pertinently asked, will we allow our water harvesting culture to be destroyed since now we have this piped water supply? Reflecting unconvincingly on this dilemma, the letter from state government’s principle secretary Purushottam Agarwal (he was supposed to come for the function, but had to travel elsewhere due to some family emergency and hence sent a letter) suggested that the pipelines are only for drinking water and tanks that the GVNML has helped build are for irrigation and other purposes. The fact is that the state government made no effort to consult the people before coming up with the pipeline scheme. Kesarbhai, active in Mahoba district in Uttar Pradesh described the Apna Talab Abhiyaan through which already 70 talabs (tanks built with earthen bunds) have been built in less than a year.
Participants from other states Pankaj Shrivastava from Mahoba appreciated that communities in GVNML area have system of imposing fines when anyone is caught polluting the lakes (as reflected in the wall writing in the photo below at the Nagar village tank).
He also said that the communities in their area is trying to clean up Kiratsagar lake in Mahoba through a focused campaign since Oct 5, 2013. Mavjibhai from Vivekanand Research & Training Institute, Bhuj (Kutch in Gujarat) said that they plan to take up implementation of chauka system in 55 villages along the 60 km long Rukmawati river in their area.
The Awards The five awards presented on this occasion were indeed very well deserved ones. The managing committee of Akodiya village (Dist Ajmer) was recognised for the tradition of collective management of common property resources including grazing land and water harvesting systems.
Rajjak Sheikh of village Tikel (Block Dudu in Jaipur district) was honoured for planting long living trees like peepal, Banyan, neem and other local varieties along the tank embankment over the last five years through his own efforts. He also got the fisheries contract given for the village tank canceled and got some of the hunters caught at his own personal risk.
Next, Shravanlal Jaat, a shepherd of village Kalyanpura (Dudu, Jaipur) was given the Dhudhad Ratan prize for consistently planting large number of trees in grazing land and along the village tank with his own personal effort and expenses for more than five years and also taking care of the planted trees.
Efforts of Umrao Godha, a relatively rich man of village Jhirota in Ajmer district were recognised for transforming the village with institutions like school, health centre and also for planting and taking care of large number of villages. Enthused villagers elected him as village head.
Khivsingh Rajput, an old man of Bikhraniya Kalan village from relatively far off Nagaur district (Marwad area) was also honoured for his 20 year old campaign in the village to plant long living Banyan and other trees in very dry area. He also inspired people to donate money and collected Rs 5 lakhs to deepen, renovate and strengthen the village tank.
Relevance for climate change The work of GVNML in the region is remarkable in many respects. The water conservation work helps recharge the groundwater and this water is then available in years of deficit rainfall, the frequency of which is bound to increasing in warming climate. Similarly, the whole area has created such a remarkable water conservation system that even when rainfall is excessive, this area will not face any floods since the water will be stored and only slowly released. The soil here has increased carbon content which also helps hold the moisture much longer, thus helping overcome the dry spells which has also increased in recent years. Thus it is clear that the that is underway over the last over three decades under GVNML has huge implications in the climate change context. The COP 19 talks at Warsaw remains deadlocked, waiting for some façade to emerge to show progress, this different COP 27 at Nagar shows so much progress is possible when the communities are at the helm of the affairs. It is doubtful though that the lessons from COP 27 at Nagar will have any impact on COP 19 at far away Warsaw.