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DRP News Bulletin 14 Nov 2016 (Northeast Monsoon Failing, Water Crisis in South India to Become Worse)

To provide much-needed succour to those reeling under severe drought and facing acute drinking water shortage, as part of temporary drought-mitigation measures, the district administration has established helplines in all seven taluks.

A look at impacts of failing Northeast Monsoon on 4 South Indian States 

South India Northeast Monsoon Failing; Water Crisis To Become Worse Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala & interior Karnataka generally receives good rains during the Northeast Monsoon period that commences from Oct until Dec. However, this year, rains have remained scanty over entire Southern India region. Northeast Monsoon has also set in quite late during Oct end. As of now excluding scattered rain events, Monsoon like heavy rains are still far from coming to the southern region of the country. This is a clear indication of possibility of drought-like conditions that might prevail over south peninsula during Northeast Monsoon. In a nutshell, the picture is not very encouraging for next few days and also any significant increase in rains are not foreseen over the southern regions of the country.

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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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DRP News Bulletin 26 Sep 2016 (Victory to tribals protest; Jispa HEP calls back staff)

Finally, tribals struggle wins, sends Jispa HEP company packing up Facing stiff opposition from the tribal community against the construction of 300 MW Jispa Dam in Lahaul-Spiti valley has forced the Himachal Pradesh Power Corportaion Ltd (HPPCL) to suspend the project for the time being. The dam which was declared a project of national importance now has residents from 14 villages oppose it. HPPCL has invested Rs 3 crore and has stated that it would begin study work only when locals extend their support.

Since 2009, people from the Todh valley in Lahaul-Spiti district were opposing the Jispa Dam project proposed over Bhaga river, a tributarJy of Chenab at Jispa village. The government had sanctioned Rs 7,000 crore for this project but local residents did not allow officials to work in smoothly for three years now.

Confirming the development, managing director, HPPCL, D K Sharma told that some people were continuously opposing the project without realizing that construction of project could have ushered development in the area. He said constant opposition of local people had resulted into wastage of limited human resource so HPPCL board had decided to withdraw the manpower as project was only at investigation stage.

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DRP News Bulletin 19 September 2016 (EAC says EIA of Yadadri Project cut and past job)

EAC Panel Visiting the site in Dec 2015

Centre EAC defers clearance to Yadadri Power project The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Ministry of Environment has deferred its decision for granting environmental clearance for the 8,000 MW Yadadri Thermal Power Station in Telangana by TSGENCO due to a “lackadaisical” approach in preparing documentation. The EAC said the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was incomplete and there was lack of clarity on many issues raised by the Committee earlier. EAC on Thermal Power Companies has in its minutes meeting held on 29-30 2016 held the EIA consultants guilty of cut & paste jobs which can be found here.  At some places, it is mentioned that coal will be transported from two ports and in some other places, four ports are mentioned. Hence, complete and specific details regarding coal import ports and coal transportation routes were not given. Further it is also observed that two important sections of the EIA report- “risk assessment” and “disaster management plan”- are almost entirely generic and contain hardly any site or project specific aspects.

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DRP News Bulletin 12 Sep 2016 (Hydro Projects Causing Mass Fish Extinction: HP Fisheries Dept.)

Hydro power projects impact riverine fisheries The bleak future of fisheries is reflected in the “Vision and Perspective Plan” released by the Department of Fisheries earlier this week. The department is keeping its fingers crossed to even maintain the production of 5,393 tonnes in 2014-15 as it feels that with the commissioning of 294 hydro power projects in the recent years, the downward trend will be difficult to arrest. 

It says that the expansion of the hydro power sector has resulted in the shrinking of rivers and streams and high silt levels. Rampant sand mining and indiscriminate use of pesticides have further aggravated the problem. 

The fish production from the rivers and streams is falling drastically each year and the multi-pronged environmental assault is proving to be too damaging for the fisheries promotion. The state has some precious mahseer reserves. Though the power policy stipulates a minimum discharge of 15% ecological flow of rivers, the failure of the regulatory authority to check this has converted riverbeds into sandy deserts. That’s how the department perceives the threat from hydro power generation. As a further blow to the riverine fisheries, under the revised hydro-power policy, there is no requirement for micro hydel project developers to prepare environmental and social impact reports.

The vision document reflects that the coming up of hundreds of micro-hydel projects has drastically affected the streams environmental flow in Kangra, Kullu and Chamba. The picture is so grim that the project commissioned on the Sujan Nullah is virtually threatening the hatchery of the prestigious Indo-Norwegian trout project which is the lifeline of the entire trout farming programme of the state.Perceived as one of the major threats, the commissioning of 92 power projects, in the last few years has altered the river hydrology and blocked migratory routes exterminating spawning and feeding grounds of fish.Adding to the already bad situation is the array of pesticides and insecticides being used by farmers and fruit growers.

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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”

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DRP News Bulletin 22 August 2016(NGT failed its mandate by allowing AOL event)

Op-Ed NGT failed its mandate by allowing AOL event This is such an amazing editorial on the issue of destruction of floodplain by Art of Living, whose behaviour is brazen, but predictable, it says! So amazingly forthright, it says “ Far more unfortunate, however, is the manner in which the NGT appears to have conducted itself in this affair. It is a sad commentary on the state of environmental governance n the country that its premier green body”, NGT, “ has to prevaricate on its earlier order”. It concludes. NGT failed to protect such an ecologically sensitive area.  It is deeply disturbing that the country’s apex environmental tribunal allowed itself to be pressured and intimidated. Salutes to the Author of this forthright editorial! Meanwhile, the  committee of experts, appointed by Green has found that the “entire floodplain area used for the main event site” has been “completely destroyed” causing “invisible loss of biodiversity” that “may never be able to return”. In its 45 page report, submitted to the NGT on July 28, the seven-member panel, said “the entire floodplain area used for the main event site, i.e. between the DND flyover and Barapullah drain (on the right bank of river Yamuna) has been completely destroyed, completely destroyed not simply destroyed. The ground is now totally levelled, compacted and hardened, totally devoid of water bodies or depressions, and almost completely devoid of any vegetation (except a few large cattails at the base of of the DND flyover)”. On the contrary AOL alleged that NGT appointed committee is biased, unscientific and lacks credibility. 

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DRP News Bulletin 08 August 2016 (Aug 06, ILR meeting is no dialogue)

SANDRP BLOG Aug 06, ILR meeting is no dialogue  While dialogue is necessary and welcome in any democracy, the meeting that was organized on Aug 06 at Constitutional Club is certainly not the right step in almost every sense. We hope MoWR and those who gather at the constitution club today will deliberate on these issues and resolve to correct them before a dialogue can really begin on the issue of ILR, and in fact Rivers. SANDRP coordinator was invited at this meeting on ILR being held at Constitution Club at 4 pm today as a speaker, but have decided to decline the invite, as elaborated in the note here. Please help us spread the word. Feedback is welcome.  As was expected, Minister Uma Bharti reiterated that the Ken Betwa Link project will be implemented, even though the project has none of the clearances as yet! The reporter should have mentioned that. 

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DRP News Bulletin 25 July 2016 (Tawang residents protest against unfulfilled promises)

Arunachal Tawang residents protest against unfulfilled promises Hundreds of residents on July 22 marched through the streets of Tawang, the home district of newly elected CM Pema Khandu, in protest against non-fulfillment of their demand for jobs to kith and kins of two anti-dam activists killed in police firing on May 2. During the protest march they also led a signature campaign against large dams planned in Tawang, where the predominantly Buddhist Monpa tribe feared that many of the proposed hydro-power projects would damage sacred Buddhist sites in the district. At least 13 large hydro-power projects have been planned in the district, which shares border with China’s Tibet region. On June 21 the Lamas-led Save Mon Region Federation had issued six-point charter of demand to the state government for fulfillment in 30 days. Arunachal comprises a fragile, rich parcel of wildlife and ecosystem, among the richest ecosystems in India. But planning & building of hydro projects has been and will cause irreversible environmental damage. Perhaps it’s time for an aggressive freeze on all the un-built projects and an evaluation of other models of energy. Mr Prema Khandu must consider why Arunachal should become India’s mitochondria-the country’s energy provider, while losing its own enormous wealth. But contrary to this new while addressing a press conference, the new CM, on July 18 said that the govt would find ways to tap the petroleum resources & harness the hydropower potential which could be a money spinner for the state. On the 2000Mw Lower Subanisiri HEP at Gerukamukh, Mr Khandu has emphatically said he would discuss the issue with the Assam govt as well as the Centre for a solution. He said that in all the hydropower projects the affected people should be taken into confidence by both the executing agencies as well as the state govt. The new CM elected from Tawang, seeing the hydropower projects as money spinner does not sound very encouraging. Let us see how far he actually goes to take people into confidence as promised by him. 

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DRP News Bulletin 18 July 2016 (Remove inefficient Farakka Barrage: Bihar CM)

 

Bihar CM  demands removal of Farakka barrage CM Nitish Kumar on July 16 demanded removal of Farakka barrage on river Ganga, saying “the disadvantages of the barrage appear to be higher than its benefits”. Raising the issue of Bihar’s share in Ganges waters at the 11th Inter State Council meeting in New Delhi, Nitish also sought the Centre’s intervention to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin so that the entire length of Ganga has continuous supply of water even during lean season. The meeting was chaired by PM Narendra Modi and attended by CMs of different states and union ministers. The CM also told the meeting that responsibility to ensure the required water availability at Farakka barrage has been put solely on Bihar. Presenting Bihar’s views Nitish further added that about 16% of the catchment area of river Ganga is in Bihar, but in the lean season 3/4th of the total water flowing in Ganga comes from rivers of Bihar. Estimated 400 cusecs of water flow is received at the Uttar Pradesh border of Bihar in river Ganga. However, at Farakka barrage, 1500 cusecs of water flow is to be ensured, which is achieved mainly through the water contributed by the rivers of Bihar. Indeed, during lean season, not even 400 cusecs of water flow is available at the border of Bihar. In this regard, Centre’s intervention is required to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin, so that the entire length of Ganga river in Bihar has continuous supply of water even during lean season. Nitish also demanded formulation of an effective National Silt Management Policy, saying such a body at the national level is essential for silt management as well as for ensuring uninterrupted flow of water not only in Ganga, but all the other rivers.

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