Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin, Sep 07, 2015 (Narmada Canal, Salt Mining in Runn of Kutch a threat to endangered Asiatic Wild Ass)

Asiatic wild ass now on endangered list; Population Down By 52% In 16 Years The IUCN report mentions that the Little Rann of Kutch faces direct threat from increasing human activities. The ecology of the wild ass sanctuary, for example, is threatened by a canal building project -the Sardar Sarovar Project of the Narmada Development Authority. It also points out how the rising numbers of grazing livestock leads to stiff competition for natural reserves. Salt mining, a major economic industry for local people, has increased 140% since 1958.

HYDROPOWER 

ARUNACHAL PRADESH: Rejected earlier MoEF expert panel now approves  controversial hydro projects in Siang basin The three projects – Pauk, Heo and Tato-I, are all proposed on Yarjep River, a tributary of Siyom River and will collectively denude 200 hectares of biodiversity rich forests. Earlier, the expert committee had deferred clearances in absence cumulative impact assessment study (CIAS). A staggering 44 hydro power projects have been planned in the Siang basin, one of the chief tributaries of the Brahmaputra River. In a meeting with expert appraisal committee this June, SANDRP had opposed the decision highlighting conflict of interest issue as RS Environlinks that carried out the Siang CIAS study also did the environment impact assessment studies for the three projects.  SANDRP also pointed out that no comprehensive seismic study was carried out, which is critical in Arunachal Pradesh that falls in seismic zone V More importantly, the CIAS delves little into the impact of the projects in downstream Assam. Additionally, the expert panel has given out the clearance even as the state government of Arunachal Pradesh is yet to settle the forest rights of local communities.

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Many rivers unusually breach their natural courses flooding many houses in the State The Sikang (Dibang), Sisiri and Dotung rivers had breached their respective course and merged with Taro Tamak river and 97 houses have been washed away at Anpum/Loklung/Mer and Gadum villages. It is an unprecedented happenings. Many agricultural fields have been destroyed. People have been rendered destitute. As a humanitarian gesture, the Adi Baane Kébang (ABK) is organising collection of relief n resettlement materials.

UTTARAKHAND: A Himalayan warning Himanshu Thakkar analysises the situation of 2013 Kedarnath disaster finds that the government has not heeded the lessons even after two years.

HIMACHAL PRADESH JSW Energy closing in JP’s Baspa Stage II and Karcham Wangtoo hydropower projects buy out deal as the company is seeking to refinance the debt component of the Rs.9,700 crore transaction to buy two hydropower assets un 5/25 scheme. Under the 5/25 scheme, banks can extend loan repayment periods up to 25 years, with an option of refinancing the loan every five years. JSW Energy have a relatively healthy balance sheet, allowing it to raise funds from banks easily to pursue its plan to buy distressed assets. JSW Energy agreed to buy the Baspa Stage II (300 megawatts, or MW) and Karcham Wangtoo (1,091MW) hydropower projects, both in Himachal Pradesh, in November. As part of the deal, the two hydropower assets were to be transferred to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) named Himachal Baspa Power Co. Ltd, followed by JSW Energy picking a 100% stake in the SPV.

Proposed 60MW Jangi-Thopan-Powari Hydel projects generating too many legal battles  as Himachal Pradesh Govt. is deciding to re-allot it to Reliance energy the second highest bidder cancelling the previous allotment to Adani Group which is said to be closed with NDA. The govt. has also decided to repay Rs. 280 crore entire upfront money to the group. The State government had cancelled the allotment of this project in 2009. Earlier, the Dutch company Brakel had moved Court against the cancellation of this project. The Reliance also had moved the Court for not being given the project although it was the second highest bidder on the basis of old tenders and the Adanis’ had made it a legal fight to reclaim its upfront money that it had deposited as a consortium partner. Brakel company has again objected to the recent decision since its financial implications are not resolved. The project requires an investment of over Rs.7,000 crore and aims to generate 4,000 million units per year. It was to be commissioned by 2017.

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Protest March by Darcha Jan Sangarsh Samiti on August 31,2015 in Lahaul valley

Local people organized a protest rally against Jispa Dam (300 MW) Bandh See the pics of protest by Darcha Jan Sangarsh Samiti on August 31,2015 in Lahaul valley

Landslides, hydro power projects in Kinnaur making life difficult for residents  The Photo essay article by Manshi Asher and Sumit Mahar of Himdhara focuses on the issue of blockage of NH 5 and the role of Hydropower projects in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh. It begins with the story of HIGHWAY. Environmentalists and residents say large-scale construction in the area is posing a threat. The Sutlej river basin has an identified potential of around 9,700 MW, with a series of small, medium and large hydro projects in various stages of planning, construction and operation. They say Kinnaur alone has around 30 run-of-the-river projects—planned, proposed, under construction or in operation.

Baddi Barotiwala Nalagarh Industrial Area in Himachal’s Solan district leaves a trail of pollution and environmental degradation  Depletion of groundwater due to heavy extraction, increasing river pollution, air pollution, generation of fly ash, illegal dumping of hazardous waste and riverbed mining are some of the key problems identified in the area. Discharge of contaminated waste into the water bodies have polluted six to seven small streams flowing into the Sirsa, a tributary of the Sutlej. Here are some images from this toxic gateway to the Himalayas.

Water table receding in eight state valleys The Central Water Board (CWB) for Himalayan region, an organization of Union Ministry for Water Resources, has been studying the underground water situation in Indora and Nurpur valleys of Kangra district, Balh valley of Mandi district, Paonta and Kala Amb valleys of Sirmour district, Nalagarh valley of Solan district and Una and Hum valleys of Una districts over the past more than one decade. In all these valleys the underground water was being exploited for irrigation, drinking and industrial purposes. As per the CWB study, Kala Amb valley in Sirmour district is the area where the underground water was being over exploited and is receding at a very fast rate.

JAMMU & KASHMIR: In the article titled as after the deluge, what? Salman Anees Soz says that one year since the State witnessed floods that devastated its economy, people are yet to see any substantial assistance from the Centre. As per one more news report Jammu & Kashmir High Court has directed the Central government to produce the policy for grant of relief to flood victims and also submit its compliance report on the Rs 44,000-crore relief package sought by J&K within one week.

W-BENGAL: Man-made slopes led to Darjeeling landslips: GSI  One of the key reasons behind the recent landslips in the Mirik and Kalimpong areas in Darjeeling district was the large-scale construction of man-made slopes, such as raising the ground for buildings and roads. In a recent survey conducted by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), it was found that these slopes were built without proper support. Very heavy rainfall and other geological factors (such as loose soil) were other causes behind the landslips in July. Nearly 30 people died and many were washed away during successive landslips in Darjeeling last month.

DAMS

Don’t Give Nod to New Dams, Water Ministry Tells CWC Interesting, MoWR secretary writes a letter dated Aug 25, 2015 to CWC Chair: ““Environmental flow of rivers is a necessity for survival of a river and also for it to perform its ecological functions and to ensure that cultural dependence of the community is maintained. Unfortunately, in the past, structures like dams and barrages were designed without factoring in e-flow. In the process, not only have the rivers got fragmented, most of the floral and faunal species have also become extinct… There are certain stretches where a river has become completely dry… The quantum of e-flow is being determined by a committee which is yet to submit its report. Therefore, I have been asked to inform you that till the committee submits its report, CWC may not approve… any dam or barrage or any structure…” The letter stated that minister Uma Bharati wanted CWC to not approve any dam or barrage without factoring in e-flow.

‘Marathwada can benefit from Bhama Akshed dam water’ This report is based on SANDRP PR and report, good to see that engineer at the dam said there is no technical difficulty, but strange to see the minister not having any plans when the downstream area is facing such a drought: As people in drought-stricken Marathwada struggle to get their hands on drinking water, Bhama Akshed dam, situated upstream of Marathwada, currently has a stock of 187 million cubic metres (86 per cent of its capacity) lying idle, said experts from South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).

Patkar ready for next battle as Gujrat seems in haste to increase the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam and Madhya Pradesh struggles with rehabilitation issues Activist Medha Patkar has already filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court claiming that the relief and rehabilitation of several families has not been done satisfactorily. Supreme Court has also asked Gujrat not to raise the hight of dam unless more than 1000 displaced families are rehabilitated. At current pace, the rehabilitation and resettlement is likely to take at least three to five years. If the state government lags in giving proper relief and rehabilitation even after raising the dam height, Gujarat will not be able to close the gate for several years. Meanwhile a news report reveals that Gujarat postpones repairs of Bhadar dam gates  due to uncertainty over cost of repairs. During the floods in June, three gates at Bhadar dam got damaged and water started leaking from it. Of the total 29 gates, minor damages were reported at 18 gates. However, three gates had to be repaired immediately as they were damaged in a major way.

Shortage of irrigation and drinking water in Southern and Western States as reservoirs levels dip 16% below normal  The report says that reservoir level is expected to deplete further with the monsoon on the verge of withdrawal. On the contrary to this a news report finds that Bhakra, Pong & Ranjit Sagar dams are full despite deficient rain in North and Central India providing relief to farming community in Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana. It further says that more than 1.5 crore acres of land — 77 lakh acres in Punjab, 53 lakh acres in Rajasthan and 22 lakh acres in Haryana — is irrigated with water from these reservoirs.

Lake related to Sardar Patel statue project has narrow escape in green tribunal hearing Very sad to see this NGT decision not to hear such a serious case on its merits just because of perception of late filing of the petition on most subjective grounds.

GBP

Farmers Protest

Gokul barrage-hit Mathura 25000 farmers seek permission to commit suicide The agitating farmers awaiting compensation for their land that have been affected by Gokul barrage in Mathura have written a letter to the President of India seeking permission to commit group suicide on 15th of August. The agitating farmers of Damodarpura village in Mathura also took out a procession to air their grievance.

Panic in Telangana, AP as Krishna dams go dry for the first time Worrisome situation in Andhra-Telangana, even as in upstream Maharashtra, Koyna and Tata dams continue to divert water out of this very basin to high rainfall Konkan region for water to flow to sea:   This year might go down in history as the worst year that both the states have ever seen as far as water inflows into their dams are concerned. August is over and not a drop a drop of water has flown into the Krishna Basin Dams in Telangana and AP. Officials say only a miracle can save the situation. Drinking water not the irrigation becomes the priority for dam officials.

Srivaikundam Dam desilting row Tamilnadu: Protesting locals demanding joint committee monitoring arrested  A total of 213 persons, including 83 women demanding a joint committee to monitor the desilting work under way in the Srivaikundam dam were arrested.  Besides, many shops in Srivaikundam remained closed as traders expressed their solidarity to support the demands. Tamirabarani river water stored in Srivaikundam dam is a lifeline for the farmers of Tuticorin district and hence they demanded to undertake desilting works right from the first reach of the dam, execute maintenance works in all 18 shutters and installation of CCTV cameras adequately to record such works and ensure transparency.

Half naked displaced tribals in Dhanbad protest against Damodar Valley Corporation City witnessed a unique protest, when hundreds of displaced villagers went half naked started protest on roads to press for their demand of employment and compensation. The report also says that nine thousand villagers were displaced illegally by the government for acquiring land for Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) owned Maithion dam, Panchet Dam and other instillations in Maithon and majority of displaced and affected were not given employment despite court orders.

INTER LINKING OF RIVERS 

Centre mulls linking Sarada river with Gujarat The development comes in the light of both the countries setting up Indo-Nepal Pancheshwar Development Authority to expedite the completion of detailed project report of Pancheshwar Multipurpose project on River Mahakali (Sarada in India) and implementation of Pancheshwar multipurpose project. As per the report if executed Sarada River will traverses through six Indian states and will benefit north and northwestern states of the country Yamuna River in Delhi.

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES  

Farmers of Telangana and Andhra Paying Price for United Andhra  Goof up Indeed, there should be deficit water sharing not only across the states, but also within the states and on weekly or monthly basis rather than waiting for the end of the monsoon: The callous attitude of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government in ensuring equal sharing of water available in river Krishna has left the twin Telugu states reeling under severe water shortage. Farmers in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are unable to cultivate their lands due to scarcity of water, though the upper riparian states of Maharashtra and Karnataka have adequate storage of water in their reservoirs. Lack of proper mechanism to ensure ‘deficit water flow’ has led to the precarious situation, opined an official with Telangana government.

MONSOON

Cumulative Rainfall Map (07 Sep 2015 IMD)

Cumulative Rainfall Map (07 Sep 2015 IMD)

Early exit of monsoon may cause trouble for northwest region Meteorologists say that the monsoon is likely to start withdrawing from September 1 from west Rajasthan, posing a problem for farmers in the northwest region which has not received adequate rains during the season this year. One more news report says that El Niño is strongest since 1997-98 and monsoon deficit may increase stating that by 1st of Oct. 40% of the country was rain deficient. It also says that there is an over 90% chance that El Niño will continue through winter 2015-16, and around an 85% chance that it will last into early spring 2016. Another news report warns that El Nino has dried up the monsoon and could have impact next year too . It claims that September is likely to be remain dry and El Nino will not just strengthen further but also continue till the spring of next year which means it is likely to impact next year’s monsoon as well. In a insightful commentary on South-West Monsoon 2015 the reports says that   El Nino wins, IMD gets the consolation prize concluding that in the last 60 years, the average duration of an El Niño has been 10 months. But there have been instances of prolonged El Niño, as in 1986-87, when it lasted 19 months, and in 1968-69, when it continued for 18 months. In both cases, India experienced droughts in consecutive years. Adding to the water scarcity vows one another news reveals that Monsoon rains are seen falling short of previous forecast making it  would be the second straight year of drought- or drought-like conditions for only the fourth time in 115 years. There seems no end to monsoon failure news and according this news  Early exit of monsoon may cause farming trouble for northwest region Agriculturists says that the retreat is a cause for worry for rain fed farms in Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab as the dry and high temperature is not good for paddy, cotton, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals. Also see Coming soon, indigenous system to forecast rain The news reports that an indigenous rain forecasting system developed at the Indian Institute of Tropical Management could go a long way in helping people prepare for the unpredictable Indian monsoon.

DROUGHT 

Dry Krishana River

Dry Krishana River

Hopes Evaporates  With the monsoon playing truant, water level in the Krishna river has touched the rock bottom, as can be seen at Beechupally, 30 km downstream the Jurala Project in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana. The dry spell has dealt a body blow to the farmers of the State.

Maharashtra is considering a complete stoppage of hydro-power generation to conserve water for drought-affected areas. The administration would halt the release of water to generate power from the gigantic Koyna dam. This move is expected to save nearly 1,600 million cubic metres of water from flowing into the sea. The government is also considering getting the Tata Power Company to shut down its three hydro-power stations located at Khopoli, Bhivpuri and Bhira, which would help save another 1,000 MCM of water till the next rains. SANDRP has been asking same since 20th Aug. 2015 when it sent open letter to TATA Sustainability Group (Open letter to Tata Sustainability Group to stop westward diversion of Bhima basin water by Tata Hydro projects)  and also have requested Maharashtra Govt. (Release water sitting idle in Bhama Askhed Dam: It can help ameliorate drought in Solapur and Marathwada to some extent) through SANDRP BLOG. Based on this several national and regional newspapers have carried out multiple stories and now finally the Govt. of Maharashtra is actually asking for the same from TATA group.

Lessons from drought in Marathwada GREAT to see this Mint edit that also quoted Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP: “Parineeta Dandekar, a researcher with the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, who provided the data for this editorial, estimates that the total water required for sugarcane cultivation in Marathwada is 4,300 million cubic metres (mcm), or double the storage capacity of the largest dam on the Godavari in the region. Just crushing this year’s standing crop will need 17 mcm, enough to provide drinking water to 15.85 lakh people till the next monsoon.”

Centre allocated Rs.410 Crore to Frequently Drought Affected and over Exploited & Notified Ground Water Blocks Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has allocated a sum of Rs. 410 crores during the current year to minimize the impact of drought and improving the ground water recharge.

MAHARASTRA: The situation is getting worse in Marathawada as  water wars are breaking out on Osmanabad-Beed border in Lathur over Manjra dam water according another news report. The dam’s current storage is only a miniscule fraction of its total capacity. These are very worrying signs, fights have broken out between Mah cities even before the end of August 2015, when monsoon is on. That is also happening when water of Krishna basin is being diverted out to high rainfall Konkan area! Mean while in view of steady decline of rainfall in the state Bombay Hight Court has asked Maharastra Govt. if it has any contingency Plan for Monsoon Deficit. The court was informed that due to scanty rainfall the water level in the dam has gone down drastically and hence if water is released for irrigation purposes then it shall affect the drinking water supply there. Highlighting the farming crisis in drought hit Maharashtra this news report says that Debt, distress deepen in Marathwada’s parched districts It also reads that across Marathwada, many farmers have taken recourse to suicide to escape farming distress worsened by yet to be declared drought. This is the third straight year of drought, where the monsoon rainfall deficit is as high as 51%, making it the region worst hit by drought.n a situation where drinking water is hard to come by, water for farming is perhaps too much to hope. One more news report titled failed crops, parched fields, now Marathwada faces the great thirst covers the plight of Marathwada farmers as wells dry up across 8 districts, storage is down to less than 8% in reservoirs and residents trudge long distances for drinking water in one of worst water crisis in 40 years. Also see Pune city to receive water supply on alternate days, Pimpri-Chinchwad to follow the same in an effort to cover the shortage. The report also says that In the last 15 years, this is the second time when Pavana dam – the lifeline of Pimpri-Chinchwad – has not been filled to its 100 per cent capacity. Now there are political parties making statement on Maharashtra drought with NCP Sharad Pawnar saying that drought can result in law and order problems in Maharashtra.

GUJRAT: Shadow of drought looms over Gujarat as monsoon plays truant, The mainstay crops of groundnut and cotton are in a precarious position. A month-long dry spell in Gujarat has farmers and the government worried as the State is now possibly staring at a drought with the monsoon deficit widening.

SOUTH:  Monsoon Deficit: Karnataka declared worst drought in 40 years, Maha witness highest rainfall deficit, The spectre of a drought looms over large parts of the country with 40 per cent of its land mass receiving “deficient” rainfall.  Southwest monsoon expected to start withdrawing from this month the situation is likely to get worse. With North interior Karnataka recording 43 per cent rainfall deficiency termed the drought as the “worst” in 40 years. Maharashtra’s traditionally parched Marathwada also stared at a drought with the region recording 51 per cent less than normal rainfall, the highest in the country. State’s reservoirs are only at 49 per cent of their capacity. Like Maharashtra, Kerala has also started witnessing the impact of rainfall deficit as the Pallakad farmers call to ask for opening shutters of Malampuzha Dam early The shutters of the Malampuzha dam may have to be opened earlier than the usual as the paddy fields in the district have gone dry, owing to lack of rain. Usually water from various dams is released only for the second crop. One more news report presents grim situation of drought in Mysuru division as 24 taluks of eight districts of the Mysuru division have been declared as drought-hit including seven taluks of Mandya, three taluks of Chamarajanagar, seven taluks of Hassan, two taluks of Chikkamagaluru, two taluks of Kodagu and three taluks of Mysuru district. At least another six to eight taluks of the eight districts of Mysuru division are likely to be declared as drought hit soon. 

Karnataka is facing worst dry spell in years  as the state is going through one of the worst spells of monsoon in the past decade and rainfall in July was lowest in 40 years. The reservoirs are still waiting to fill up and fear of severe water shortage is imminent. All parts of the state, including Malnad and the coast — prime catchment areas for rivers — have recorded deficient rainfall this year. And finally taking remedial steps to fight droght Karnataka government has decided to impose a ban on using water for irrigation or release of water for irrigation from the barrages constructed across rivers in drought-hit areas. The available water in the barrages has been set aside to meet drinking water requirements in the coming days.

AGRICULTURE

Maharashtra set to ban sugarcane farming in drought zone The ban could be extended to some districts of North Maharashtra and Western Maharashtra, which too are facing a water crisis. The Marathwada region hit severely by drought, the Maharashtra government is looking at banning sugarcane cultivation and crushing from mid-September in the worst-affected districts. Both processes demand huge quantities of water but the expected move, if and when introduced, could face opposition from the sugar industry.  If sugarcane crushing and cultivation in Marathwada is indeed stopped in September itself as the report suggests, that will be a a GREAT decision indeed. SANDRP has been writing about this for long time now. “Sugar cultivation and crushing require huge amounts of water from dams, rivers and borewells and have to be banned in Marathwada,” Khadse said. “We have to keep people and animals alive. Sugarcane cultivation and crushing can wait for one season”

Land Acquisition Bill to lapse says Modi Amid nationwide opposition finally Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has allowed the contentious land acquisition ordinance to laps. Meanwhile after successful initiative of Kerala Rajasthan government plans organic farming, aims to tackle malnutrition which will bring 50 hectares of agricultural land in each block of the state under organic pulses farming. Following the norm Maharashtra also mull to boost organic farming in phased manner as an alternative to chemical farming. Confirming the report Maha. Agriculture minister said that organic farming will be taken up aggressively to replace chemical fertilisers. Contrary to this, based on the state parliamentary report a news  report says that fertiliser overuse eating away Punjab soil nutrients House panel report suggests that crop yield has dipped drastically  due to “unscientific” overuse of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium).  Responding to the news report in negative Punjab Agriculture University rejects the ideal nutrient ratio thesis. University officials said that the ideal combination and ratio was dependent on the quality of the soil of a particular area or region. They further claimed that the soil health in the state is improving, but improving.  Also read news report on cane crisis in Punjab titled as Cane crisis far from over, mills to get 40% loan to clear dues The news further says that while almost all sugar mills in Punjab – nine cooperative and seven private — have already paid 80 per cent of the dues to the farmers, together these mills still owe Rs299 crore to the farmers.

IRRIGATION

Latest irrigation scheme, a non-starter A senior official with Central Water Commission highlights the fundamental problems with PM Kirshi Sinchai Yojana explaining that it is a bureaucratic mess. While specialists are the pillars of innovation and manufacturing in advanced countries, the PMKSY is loaded with generalists in the bureaucracy. The engineering component has been emasculated. There is also no reference to accountability when there is a failure to meet targets or to formulate any district plans. It’s simply a case of old wine in new bottles, all over again.

TELANGANA & ANDHRA: On similar lines one another news report on minor lift irrigation projects discloses that several minor lift irrigation schemes on Godavari and Kinnerasani rivers are lying defunct It also says that besides this a host of other water bodies have become obsolete, thereby depriving scores of small and marginal peasants, mainly tribal farmers of assured irrigation facilities.

MAHARASTRA: Maharashtra gives up move to replace Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation official aiding irrigation scam probe Good to see there are still some honest officers in charge in Maharashtra irrigation department: The Maharashtra water resources department’s move to take away additional charge of the crucial Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation from a senior official, seen as a whistle blower in the irrigation scam, has been put on hold. Meanwhile in one more positive development Maharashtra looks to bring sustainable water, irrigation practices by exploring the feasibility of reusing treated sewage water for peri-urban agriculture. In a meeting held at National Water Academy at Pune the state government has also decided to make a District Irrigation Plan to expand cultivable area under assured irrigation. In another development Pune Irrigation Department stops release of water from Khadakwasla dam for irrigation & industrial purposes The news says that district collector Saurabh Rao expressed concerns over the depleting water levels and said it was not possible to release water for irrigation and industrial purposes despite  Pune Guardian Minister Girish Bapat wish to go easy on water cut ahead of Ganesh festival. Increasing Maharashtra’s drought vows one more news report discloses that Water level in largest dam Ujani in Pune reaches dead end  and the irrigation department has now stopped water release for agricultural use, reserving the stock for drinking water needs. Politics also has started over the amid increasing drought situation as clear by this news report that reads  Ajit Pawar eyeing Tata Power Mulshi reservoir for home turf Pune  While it is good that politicians have started thinking of the option of stopping westward diversion of water in Maharashtra, the water should not be allowed to be fodder for the sugarcane lobby and sugar politics, it should be strictly used for drinking water and livelihood agriculture.

SOUTH Meanwhile there are few news reports from Karnataka on controversial Yettinahole water diversion project. One such news report cover the planned protest as the Dakshina Kannada planned series of agitations from Sep. 1st as Yettinahole work begins  Protests against Yettinahole diversion to escalate: The news further reads that agitations would commence with distributing handouts to people in various parts of the district. One more news reports covers the overwhelming support to Dharwad districts shut down over Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project. The bandh was called to press the government to implement the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project. One another news report covers the, Nethravathi diversion project is raising a similar heat in Dakshina Kannada as activists plan Bangluru-Mangluru National Highway shut down on Sep. 15. Also see link to INTACH desilt Parvathipuram, Allor and Chemmankulam irrigation tanks in Tamilnadu nearly after 70 years.  

WATER

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In an educative article titled Filtering out the Dark side of drinking water the authors aptly expose the myths and reality deeply associated with RO filters, potable water and market forces and its threats on future water security of country. The report also suggests few better and cheaper technologies as an alternate to RO filters.

GROUND WATER:  The important article titled as Punjab facing a veritable water crisis Sarbjit Dhaliwal finds State Govt. faulty policies like free power to farmers behind fast depletion of ground water table. Seeing State indifference to various warnings in recent past, he hopes that NASA’s warning will serve as a wake-up call. Aslo see Lake of untreated waste poisoning NCR’s groundwater to know how groundwater of south Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad may be at risk of fast getting polluted by a big black lake of untreated municipal solid waste in the Aravalli forests formed by leakage of muck from a now defunct Bandhwari municipal waste treatment plant off the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road, the only one between the two cities, hasn’t been functional waste treatment plant. In this news report on Bhopal Gas Tragedy lawyers in a US Court representing communities living near the plant argued that Union Carbide Corp is responsible for water pollution that continues to foul local wells at the site of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster, the world’s worst industrial tragedy.

WATER GOVERNANCE: National Rural Drinking Water Project still Short of Target: Minister  Ram Kripal Yadav, Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation, told Parliament, earlier this month that while the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) has set a norm for providing 40 litres of drinking water to the rural households per day, only 74.1 per cent of them getting the requisite amount of water. The Scheme set a norm for providing 40 litres of drinking water to the rural households per day but only 74.1 per cent of them getting the requisite amount of water.

Coca-Cola’s recharge claims challenged by activists Environmental groups monitoring the company’s corporate accountability record, especially in India, have challenged the very basis of company’s claims. Amit Srivastava of India Resource Centre points out, replenishing an aquifer hundreds of miles away from the point of extraction has no bearing on the health of the local aquifer depleted during bottling operations. Trivandrum-based ecologist Dr. S. Faizi, said that in the village where Coca Cola India had shut down its plant following the Kerala government’s intervention, the ground water had depleted considerably and was found polluted with cadmium, lead and arsenic from sludge disposed by the local factory.

URBAN WATER:  Water tanker scam rears its head in Delhi  The scam is alleged to be related to financial irregularities worth Rs.400 crore and an equivalent loss to the state exchequer. Law Minister Delhi has written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recommending the initiation of criminal proceedings against his predecessor, the Congress’ Sheila Dikshit, for her alleged involvement in related to the hiring of water tankers.

RIVERS

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Quiet flow the rivers: A new book, edited by Ramaswamy R Iyer, Honorary Professor, Centre for Policy Research is released   Well said: “This book, a collection of articles by a group of people with diverse backgrounds but all sharing a passion for the well-being of India’s rivers, therefore, constitutes a most significant contribution to the ongoing debate on the environment-development conundrum in India,” observes Madhav Gadgil Research Fellow at Goa University, and Chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel.

10,000 villagers in Pratapgarh UP correct Bakulahi river course in 5 years About 25 years ago, the irrigation department had diverted the flow of the river for `loop cutting’ work to check annual flood in the area. Although the flood menace was checked, the step triggered a water crisis in the region. “Till 1987, the river used to pass through Torai, Babupur, Gaura, Nanda Ka Pura, Saray Deorai and other villages towards Dhema and people would get adequate water. But after the route was changed, the villagers started facing problems in getting drinking and irrigation water problems.

POLLUTION: Seeing Civic agencies indifference NGT now train guns to Gaziabad housing societies on Hindon pollution  NGT has issued show cause notices to 45 societies in Vasundhara Enclave asking why they should not pay compensation under the ‘polluter pays principle’. The East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), under whose jurisdiction the area falls, has been directed to also issue notices to Residents Association of Mayur Vihar Phase- I, Dallu Pura Village and New Ashok Nagar on the similar lines. The NGT took note of the fact that there is massive collection of municipal solid waste around the Hindon Canal that falls in Vasundhara Enclave, Mayur Vihar Phase I, Dallu Pura Village and New Ashok Nagar and directed the EDMC to remove the same in a week.

In an article titled as Of contamination and cover-ups the author unravels many shocking truth behind the Kodaikanal pollution saying that any policy for remediation of contaminated sites should be based on sound science. And science is sound only when scientists and their work are subject to public scrutiny. Citing the case of Kodaikanal, he says that public participation, good science and ‘polluter pays’ ought to be the legs on which any policy for remediation stands. The author also finds that Central and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Boards have opted for secrecy, paid science and ‘public pays’ as the principles for environmental remediation.

Conference on river pollution, water issues held in Nashik A day-long ‘Pani Parishad’ (Water Conference) to discuss water-related issues such as river pollution, inadequate rainfall among others was organised in Nasik on 2nd Sep. 2015.

RIVERS REVIVAL: Haryana state ‘blocks’ RTI info about Saraswati revival project  In a surprising news report it is learnt that the Haryana Government is keeping details of the Saraswati river project a closely guarded secret. Nearly three months after Panipat-based RTI activist PP Kapoor sought information about the Saraswati revival project from the Yamunanagar district administration, he is yet to get the information. Fed up with the delaying tactics of the authorities concerned, Kapoor today moved the State Information Commission, Haryana, as the last resort.

So far, more than 85,000 people have been lodged in 214 relief camps. IE

FLOOD: Assam Flood Leaves 49 dead in 2111 affected villages  As per State Disaster Management Authority, Assam report dated 05.09.2015:-20 Districts (Dhemaji, Kokrajhar, Bongaigon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Goalpara, Morigaon, Cachar, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Tinsukia,  Nalbari, Darrang, Kamrup, Kamrup(M), Nagaon,Golaghat, Dhubri)  and 81 Revenue circles out of total 32 districts of Assam are affected with flood. Total 1646051 population of 2111 villages are affected.  Due to recent flood 62 houses are partially damaged. 05 human deaths (01- Myaong, 01-Naharkatia, 01 Dibrugarh and 02 Matia Revenue Circle has been reported on 4/9/2015. Total 49 deaths have been reported so far, from 2nd June 2015 to till date in various waves of flood. There are 2,33,269 Inmates accommodated in 311 relief camps established by State Govt.

Extent of Damage so far by Flood in 2015  (cumulative figures) So far, flood has affected a population of 1,88,19,417 people living in 24205 villages falling under 63 districts. Whereas 592 persons,  59,139 cattle including poultry have dies due to flood.  The floods have also affected 1071737.78 hectares of crop land damaging 1,31,768 houses fully and 6,53,095 houses partially. All this has incurred financial losses of 68,479.77 lakh rupees.  Surprising there was no data updated for Arunachal Pradesh which was hit by flood last week.

SAND MINING: Sand mining endangers new bridge in Srikakulam Unabated illegal sand mining is posing a threat to the under-construction bridge on the Nagavali river as apprehensions are rife that the excess excavation from the nearby ramp will be a blow to the strength of the upcoming structure that will ensure connectivity between old and new Srikakulam. Aslo see With Sutlej swelling, sand mafia shifts to village ponds  The mafia had almost run out of illegal business for quite some time now due to the overflowing river. So its members have set their eyes on common village ponds and have even convinced farmers to allow them to dig sand from their lands way beyond the permissible limit of 4 ft.

NARMDA: Gujrat High Court seeks govt reply on PIL alleging breaches in Narmada canals  Interesting to see this, let us see what happens next: The Gujarat High Court issued notice to the state government on a PIL which alleges that Narmada canals have developed breaches at various places in Patan district due to “defective” work. The division bench of acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice N V Anjaria sought replies from the Narmada department of Gujarat government and the Patan District Collector before September 15. The court also issued notices to the Managing Director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNL) and the chief engineer of its Radhanpur division.

GANGA: Portion of Ganga canal caves in, village flooded Business as usual ……. After Western Yamun Canal (Karnal) April 15, Sirhind Canal (Pujab) July 15 now its Eastern Ganga Canal (Haridwar) breach causing immense damages to crops and livelihoods to innocent people for no fault of theirs. It also shows how inefficient respective States Irrigation Department has become in regular maintenance and proper operation of irrigation canals.

YAMUNA: Six-member panel to suggest ways for cleaning Yamuna A six-member committee comprising officials from Union ministries of water resources, urban development, surface transport and environment, and DDA, besides the Delhi Government, has been constituted to prepare a report in this regard by September 30. On the contrary to this a news report claims that AAP Government’s Clean Yamuna Plank may Hit a Roadblock as both the Japan International Cooperative Agency and the Union Urban Development Ministry are reluctant to finance the Delhi Jal Board plan to clean up the river. The state government would need an astronomical Rs 20,000 crore for the ambitious project. Recently Union Government’s Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar wrote to the NGT chairman that it would be difficult for any government to provide a huge amount to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore in a single year. Meanwhile NGT asked Delhi Govt. to check illegal sand mining in Yamuna After finding out that sand is being mined illegally from the banks and bed of the Yamuna on the pretext of de-silting and dredging to maintain the flow of river. In a rather interesting development Agra cops don’t know how to book Yamuna dumpers as directed by NGT  as they are clueless about provisions of NGT. The green court had the Agra Municipal Corporation Rs 1 lakh for dumping garbage into the Yamuna in response to a petition filed by environmentalist DK Joshi. The NGT has also ordered the demolition of a drain and a pipeline releasing waste water and sewage into the river, and also fixed the deadline for demarcating afresh the boundaries of the Yamuna flood plains. A committee headed by the divisional commissioner will identify the illegal structures on the flood plains and recommend action. Also see on occasion of Janamashthami Uma Bharati promises a clean Yamuna soon. She also said that a committee of the Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi government representatives are drawing up a comprehensive plan for cleaning Yamuna and a minimal flow as desired by the National Green Tribunal in the river should be maintained.

WETLANDS: The Okhla Bird Sanctuary is home to 302 different species of birds. A comprehensive article on Okhala Bird Sanctuary Row the report says that keeping the fact in mind, the UP government declared the area around the sanctuary a protected site in 1990. But in the last decade alone, construction just under 1-lakh hectares — equivalent to 1,34,000 football fields — has happened in the NCR, including in the area around the sanctuary. One more similar story in same newspaper reports that the notification has sounded a Death knell for the Sanctuary as birds now fly for only 10-20 m around a sanctuary. Environmentalists said that shrinking the eco-sensitive zone set a “dangerous precedent” for other protected forests and sanctuaries in the country.

SOUTH ASIA

India and Nepal to enhance hydro power development mechanism In a conference titled ‘Enhancing India-Nepal Power Trading: Issues Involved’ brought together India and Nepal to address the issues in implementing the Power Trade Agreement signed in October 2014 between India and Nepal. The report rhetorically mentions that Nepal is immensely endowed with huge hydro power potential of 44000MW and the Government of Nepal is giving priority to develop its vast hydropower reserves in order to meet its growing demand for energy and power export to India. It is surprising to see that Nepal still does not understand how hydropower projects can maximise the fatalities of natural disasters like recent earthquake.

Waste-water irrigation making land barren in Pakistan  A study recently conducted by the Institute of Soil Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) in Faisalabad says close to 65 per cent of agricultural land in six important cities of the province has become uncultivable because of farmers using water contaminated with industrial waste and sewage to irrigate the land.

Fresh Flooding Submerges Over 600 Homes in Myanmar’s Sagaing Division Myanmar facing monsoon vagaries again. Torrential rains in north-western Myanmar’s flood-hit Sagaing Division have left 100 villages under water, with over 600 homes submerged in Sagaing’s Khandi township alone. An affected resident reported that no help has been provided so far to flood victims by authorities.

How the happiest country in the world is saving tigers With over 72% forest cover, tigers in Bhutan are not threatened by habitat loss unlike in other parts of the world

CHINA

Construction of the Sesan 2 dam is seen on May 7, 2015 in Stung Treng, Cambodia (Getty)

Construction of the Sesan 2 dam is seen on May 7, 2015 in Stung Treng, Cambodia (Getty)

hina funded Lower Sesan 2 Dam on Mekong tributary in Combodia a big threat to fish catch and livelihoods The dam will render 5000 local homeless and 40,000 living along the banks of the Sesan and Srepok rivers stand to lose most of the fish they rely on for food. With the threatened loss of most of the rivers’ fisheries because the dam will block key migration routes, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians could feel the impact. Yet the dam’s environmental assessment reports have failed to take this into account, and the project includes no compensation for lost fish stocks. The majority investor in the project is China’s state-owned HydroLancang, in partnership with Cambodia’s Royal Group, whose owner, Kith Meng, was once described in a leaked US embassy cable as a “ruthless gangster”.

ASIA

Laos Parliament Officially Approves Controversial Son Sahong Dam Project ignoring regional concerns with construction expected to begin before the end of 2015.

WORLD

4.2 magnitude earthquake strikes near Grand Coulee Dam in Washington  A magnitude 4.2 earthquake struck near Grand Coulee Dam, the largest U.S. hydropower facility, in north eastern Washington state on 1st September prompting an immediate inspection of the facility but leaving no visible damage. One more news report on EU diplomats visit to Ethiopia dam finds that the lives of 20,000 Mursi, Bodi and other semi-nomadic tribes people are being “fundamentally and irreversibly” changed by controversial World Bank funded Gibe III Dam on Omo a major Ethiopian river as tens of thousands of Africa’s most remote and vulnerable are people being insensitively resettled. The downstream impact of the dam is also hotly contested.  Also read how a giant boulder is threatening the base of Arizona dam.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change: Environment ministry, Subramanian at odds  Ministry says it does not agree with chief economic advisor’s view that India should align with coal-rich countries. Subramanian had suggested to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley that India should stop insisting on retaining the way of differentiating in the UNFCCC between rich and developing countries and stop seeking finance from rich countries.

California: A Town Without Water A fascinating tale on California drought. It reads that unlike other disasters that span the course of hours or days at most, the California drought has been growing for years—and it’s not slowing down. Despite the attention and cutback of water usage, the proposed long-term solution of connecting East Porterville to a water system could take 5 to 10 years. Tired of waiting, many families are moving to neighboring towns and out-of-state. Meanwhile one another news report discloses that Drought a nd heat waves are much more likely to mix, researchers say  It says that now scientists are making the case that heat waves and droughts have become more likely to overlap throughout most of the United States. In fact, the longer and hotter the heat wave, the bigger the jump in the odds that it coincided with drought conditions, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

ENVIRONMENT

Population explosion nibbling away at the planet A very informative and thought provoking article full of readworthy comments and insightful inputs from leading environmental experts Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), says he is not sure if population growth alone can be blamed. “As important as population growth is the issue of unsustainable consumption pattern of the top 5-10% rich class, which creates such a huge burden on the natural resources.”

Supreme Court panel says no to mega rail link through Western Ghats A joint venture between the Railways and the Karnataka government, the original project involved construction of 329 bridges and 29 tunnels, and required felling of more than 2.5 lakh trees on 965 hectares of forest land. Supreme Court underlined that the net present value of the modified requirement of 727 hectares of forest land for the project works out to Rs 7,426 crore ? more than triple the project cost. The Rs 2,315-crore Hubli-Ankola railway line, cutting across the Western Ghats in Karnataka, has been shown the red signal by a Supreme Court panel on forest and wildlife, which said that the project’s “huge and irreparable” ecological impact would “far outweigh” its “actual tangible benefits.

After Okhala its Asola : Scientist moves NGT against constructions activities within 10 km of Asola Sanctuary Environmentalists who are crying foul over the government’s decision to notify eco-sensitive zone around the Okhla Bird sanctuary to one kilometre are now fearing a repeat with Asola Wildlife Sanctuary, which has been in news more for the monkeys moved there from the rest of the city. The development comes a fortnight after the MoEF issued a notification limiting the eco-sensitive zone around the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. On the other hand day after notifying an ecological sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Okhla bird sanctuary in Noida Prakash Javadekar announces clearing of  445 proposed eco-sensitive zones by March 2016  

U.P. accuses RTI activist of ‘anti-nationalism’  Journalist-turned-RTI activist Rajiv faces charges of treason as the Allahabad administration has served him a three-day ultimatum to explain why he should not be booked with “anti-national” and “anti-social” activities for his sustained resistance against the power plants. An Allahabad University graduate, Mr. Chandel had a five-year stint as a reporter with top Hindi dailies before he became a crusader fighting to expose corruption in local projects, government employment schemes and rural sanitation, mainly through RTIs. He had raised awareness about over-extraction of water by power plants.

Cities become smarter, waste management doesn’t  While the Centre has announced names of 98 cities to be developed as Smart Cities, 14 states and Union Territories comprising a chunk of those on list doesn’t even have a single waste processing and disposal facility.  In response to a question in the Rajya Sabha in July, Minister of State for Urban Development Babul Supriyo said that as per Niti Aayog data, only 22 states/UTs out of the 36 have set up waste processing and disposal facilities.

Goyal confident of doubling power generation in 7 years The minister felt that the cost of generation and production should be cut down to enable India double its power generation in the next seven years. One more news report says that 15% of India’s power by 2030 to be green, says NITI Aayog  The Aayog told the environment ministry that renewable sources can make up at least 15% of India’s energy mix by 2030 if present policies are given a push. This analysis was done as part of the government’s strategy to enumerate India’s climate action plan to be submitted to United Nations. According to the panel, the biggest contributors to enhanced green power will be solar and wind energy. Another news report discloses that Govt to develop 50 solar cities across India  The ministry of new and renewable energy has approved a proposed master plan to develop 50 solar cities, including three in the national capital region. On the contrary an informative article titled as Power transmission: A towering problem finds that increasing collapse of high capacity towers, which form the backbone of the network, exposes the fragility of grid infrastructure. It further says that the spate of tower collapses have been a reccurent theme, despite these being subjected to wind speeds much below the expected design threshold.

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