Bridges are essential infrastructure for human and cargo mobility across a river. They have also allowed us stop over and gaze on the beauty of flowing water streams without any risk of getting drowned or getting ourselves drenched in water. More and more bridges are being built on rivers without understating their impacts. There is hardly any debate or discussion on governance and decision making process or minimum distances to be maintained between two bridges or limiting the number of bridges on given stretch, considering what the river can support. This report takes a look at the situation of bridges on river Yamuna and describes few examples how they have been impacting the river eco-system.
The sixth addition of India Rivers Day (IRD) 2019 held on Nov. 23 in New Delhi saw participation of scientists, academicians, experts, government officials and civil society groups. In the day long day seminar organized by India Rivers Forum (IRF) presentations, debates and panel discussion were held on the theme “Envisioning the Institutional Framework for River Governance in India”.
After honoring Mustaqueem Mallah with Bhagirath Prayas Samman (BPS) for his sustained efforts made in revival Katha river, Manoj Misra, member Organizing Committee (OC) IRF, presented the summary of “Rejuvenating Ganga A Citizen’s Report”. The report highlighted that most of the government work under Ganga Action Plan (GAP) and National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is done on the main stem of Ganga river which forms only three per cent of the entire basin.
Good to see NGT rejecting the flawed Groundwater notification dated Dec 12, 2018 from CGWA that was also critiqued by SANDRP: https://sandrp.in/2018/12/31/groundwater-governance-why-dec-12-2018-cgwa-notification-would-be-disastrous/. However, NGT should have asked an independent panel to formulate the policy for sustainable groundwater use, rather than a committee of the same government persons. Besides, there is also need for restructuring of currently totally ineffective CGWA and make it COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT of government.
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 2018 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.
Guest Blog by Manoj Misra
Allowing Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand (formerly Prof. GD Agarwal) to die unheard is perhaps the most tragic but not the only serious faux pas committed by Prime Minister Modi and his team in the matter of Ganga rejuvenation. It was actually the culmination of a series of missteps that began early in his tenure.
It can reasonably be presumed that candidate Modi was sincere and serious when he made those famous statements at Varanasi during his campaign (and even later) regarding Ganga rejuvenation. They seemed straight from his heart and seemed to be convincing to many. Everybody thought, “Here is a Prime Minister, who does not – contrary to his predecessor – need goading to make all the right noises”. Hopefully these noises shall result into right actions as well. So much so that Swami Sanand waited almost four years before making his discomfort on lack of any worthwhile progress on Ganga rejuvenation known directly to the Prime Minister. He wrote a number of letters before and after embarking (beginning 22 June 2018) on his legendary 111 day fast that ultimately led to his martyrdom on 11 Oct 2018.
Central Government Decisions
Environment ministry notifies new wetland rules In a major decision, the union environment ministry notified the new Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017 on 26 Sept. 2017 replacing the 2010 version of the rules. The draft of the Wetland Rules was first presented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in March 2016. But they were severely criticized by conservationists who had alleged that the draft rules don’t mention anything about a national regulator and don’t list specific activities prohibited in these ecologically sensitive areas.
The new rules stipulate setting up of a State Wetlands Authority in each State and union territories that will be headed by the State’s environment minister and include a range of government officials. They will also include one expert each in the fields of wetland ecology, hydrology, fisheries, landscape planning and socioeconomics to be nominated by the state government.
The State authorities will also need to prepare a list of all wetlands of the State or union territory within three months, a list of wetlands to be notified within six months, a comprehensive digital inventory of all wetlands within one year which will be updated every ten years.
To oversee the work carried out by States, the rules stipulates for setting up of National Wetlands Committee, which will be headed by the MoEFCC Secretary, to monitor implementation of these rules. The Committee will also advise the Central Government on appropriate policies and action programmes for conservation and wise use of wetlands, recommend designation of wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention, advise on collaboration with international agencies on issues related to wetlands etc. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/y6Tr3tkrr3q28AmGKaBFII/Environment-ministry-notifies-new-wetland-rules.html (Live Mint, 28 Sept. 2017)
देश की नदियों की दुर्दशा किसी से छिपी नहीं है। एक ओर नदियों का जलप्रवाह लगातार घट रहा है, दूसरी ओर उनमें प्रदूषण की मात्रा चिंताजनक स्तर पर पहुॅच गई है। बढ़ती बॉध, पनबिजली, सिंचाई परियोजनाओं, भूजल दोहन, वनविनाश, बाढ़ भूमि अतिक्रमण और अवैध खनन से हमारी नदियों की जैवविविधता पर विपरीत प्रभाव सामने आ रहे हैं। साथ में नदियों पर गुजर बसर करने वाले मछवारों, मल्लाहों, किसानों की आजीविका पर गंभीर खतरा मंडरा रहा है।
इन सबके बीच, नदियों को बचाने के सरकारी प्रयास नाकेवल नाकाफी और निष्फल साबित हो रहे है, अपितु अब यह स्पष्ट है कि नदी विरोधी सरकारी योजनाओं के चलते ही छोटी बडी जलधाराएॅ सूख रही है, मैला हो रही है और बाढ़ के समय आपदा का कारण भी बन रही है। वास्तव में नदी संरक्षण संबंधी नियम कानूनों और व्यापक जनभागीदारी के अभाव के चलते आज हमारी जीवनदायनी नदियॉ, खुद के स्वछंद बहते जल को तरस रही है।
इन्हीं सब महत्वपूर्ण मुद्दों को उजागर करने के लिए 25 नवम्बर 2017 को दिल्ली भारतीय नदी दिवस समारोह आयोजित किया गया। इस बार के एक दिवसीय आयोजन में शहरी नदियों को केंद्र में रखकर मनाया गया। कार्यक्रम में भारत के विभिन्न क्षेत्रों से अस्सी से अधिक सरकारी विभागों -गैरसरकारी संस्थाओं से जुडे़ नदीप्रेमियों, चितंको और विचारकों ने भाग किया। यह कार्यक्रम वर्ष 2014 से निरंतर मनाया जा रहा है। हर साल की तरह, इस बार भी देश में नदियों को बचाने में संघर्षरत व्यक्तियों और नदी संगठनों को ‘भगीरथ प्रयास सम्मान’ से नवाजा गया। प्रभावी नदी लेखन, छायांकन और चित्रण के माध्यम से नदियों की आवाज उठाने वाले मीडियाकर्मी के लिए, इस साल से अनुपम मिश्र मैमोरियल मैडल का शुभांरभ किया गया।
Guest Blog by Manoj Misra
Rivers in different parts of the world have been dammed to fulfill human needs like water for irrigation, industries and domestic supplies. Then there are dams that have been raised to control floods or to produce electricity.
These have often been celebrated as human victory over nature, glorified as engineering marvel and claimed variously as highest, longest etc as a matter of national pride.
But rarely has there been a holistic assessment or appreciation of what a dam does to the natural entity called river and its adverse impacts on all the associated life forms, including humans.
Finally the Oroville Dam spillway damage has turned into a disaster. Report at this time (01:00pm, Feb. 13, 2017) finds dam level rising about 1 feet above the danger level. Water currents have started pouring out all over and around the emergency spillway which has never been put in use for last half a century. Meanwhile, more water is gushing in the dam reservoirs due to recent heavy rainfall in catchment areas upstream. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 13 Feb 2017 (Oroville Dam Disaster, USA: A Wake up Call for India: A Country of aging big Dams)”
At least since 1994, ever increasing pollution of River Yamuna had ballooned into a national concern, with Supreme Court of India taking up the case of Mailee Yamuna. The authorities lacked a holistic view of a river system. Essential issues like unhindered flow and intact floodplain were seldom discussed and debated. Thus, cleaning of pollution through infrastructure and technologies had become the central theme of saving Yamuna River. As a result, the cleaning efforts got no success and Yamuna River health kept worsening.
Amid this scenario, a group of Delhi citizens in 2006 woke up to impact of a 10 days shopping event to be organized on annual basis in the floodplain of Yamuna River at Delhi- Noida, Uttar Pradesh border. The event faced criticism and was resultantly called off.
But the incident just proved a tip of iceberg for the concerned group who after sometimes came across a list of permanent and commercial structures, being proposed within ecologically valuable and sensitive floodplains of River Yamuna in Delhi as a part of Common Wealth Games 2010.
The prevailing ignorance towards importance of floodplains of River Yamuna in Delhi and blatant encroachment of it, led to formalization of the group into Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan (YJA) on 07 February 2007.