Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin, Oct 05, 2015 (On Climate Agenda Govt. scale down targets but on ground still pushing hard many hydro projects)

HYDROPOWER

Hydro fast loosing sheen in renewable energy basket  and the share of hydro is likely to decline further as through the past three years, the installed capacity of hydropower projects has remained around 40,000 Mw. While the report superficially may appear as a sigh of relief nevertheless on ground Indian Govt. is still in a hurry to push many big hydro power projects particularly in North-Eastern States. Last month only Piyush Goyal Power Minister cleared the Teesta-III and spoke of clearing Subansiri too. In Siang basin Pauk, Heo, Tato-I are recently approved by MoEF Panel. Protest against 780 Nyamjang Chhu HEP is going on. Similarly several projects in Ganga, Barhamputra and Satluj basin are being cleared and constructed in plain violation of stipulated green norms. Public and private developers are repeatedly ignoring environmental concerns and not addressing the issues raised by local people.

ARUNACHAL PRADESH Despite objections from regional forest office, MoEF set to give forest clearance to hydro projects Govt gives the go-ahead for the Nyamjang Chu project in Tawang despite the region being a wintering site of the black-necked crane. MOEF under this government is going from Bad to worse. In case of Nyamjang Chu HEP in Arunchal Pradesh, even in face of reports from MoEF’s own regional office over a year back in Aug 2014 about violations by the project, MoEF has not taken any action. The Regional office says the forest land requirement is more than double the amount claimed under EIA, and thus requiring a fresh EIA, and the project has built two small hydro in forest area without permission. And instead of taking any action against the developer, the MoEF is going ahead with processing the forest clearance!

UTTARAKHAND: Ticking time bombs in Uttarakhand Excellent piece showing how the threats from Glacial Lakes are being ignored in Uttarakhand, with no clear plan or work by the state government, nor any initiative from the centre. According to recently published Glacial Lake Inventory done by the Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, there are 1,266 glacial lakes in Uttarakhand with sizes varying from 500 square metres to 2,44,742.3 square metres. While the urgency to monitor the glacial lakes has been acknowledged by the concerned agencies, lack of communication between various agencies continues to be a hindrance. Though the glacial lakes are ticking time bombs that could catastrophe to people residing in the concerned river basins, the State government is yet to take cognisance of these lakes and cater to the pressing need to monitor them.

Govt plans Rs 12,000-cr project to connect Char Dham, experts hint precautionary measures a must The highways ministry is planning to connect Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri in Uttarakhand with 889 km of disaster-proof two-lane roads at a cost of Rs 12,000 crore. Officials said detailed project reports were in the final stages and the ministry was likely to invite bids for road stretches in October. Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator SANDRP says that Uttarakhand is vulnerable to floods, earthquakes and landslides. Geologists have warned before undertaking major infrastructure projects here, proper study should be done, devising appropriate methods.

Joshimath town in Chamoli infested with landslides, many houses with cracks facing sudden collapse The very mountain on which Joshimath town sits is facing a series of landslides for past three decades and the soil erosion also has become a continuous problem. A senior Geological Survey of India official reports constant friction from the Alaknanda in the toe portion (foot) of the mountain which is responsible for repeated landslides can render the entire Joshimath town unsafe. The official further stated that the foot of the mountain and the soil erosion problem could both be treated if gabion structures were built, with safety walls and plantations, which would bind soil together. No action, however, was taken on the report submitted by the GSI. Despite its ecological fragility, Joshimath is growing. The world’s biggest private sector hydro-power project, Vishnuprayag (400 MW), Tapovan-Vishnugad (520 MW) are located here. These companies have set up infrastructure and residential colonies. No Ashok Kumar district magistrate admitted that nothing was yet done to treat the root cause of the problem, the instability in the mountain. On September 28, National Green Tribunal refused to decommission the Vishnuprayag HEP hearing Bharat Jhunjhunwala’s plea who contended that the only way to protect the ecology of the area is to do away these hydro power projects.

HIMACHAL PRADESH 27% deficit rainfall in state Cumulative rainfall during the last season was 521.8 mm, which was 38 per cent less than the normal rainfall. While in 2015, the deficit was 19 per cent in June, 21 per cent in July, 27 per cent in August and 48 per cent in September while cumulative deficit was 27 per cent, Director of Shimla MeT station Manmohan Singh said. During the past 12 years highest deficit of 46 per cent was recorded in 2004. “The monsoon deficit would not have an adverse affect on kharif crop yield or production as the soil has sufficient moisture due to adequate periodical rain during July and August,” sources in the state Agriculture Department said.

KERALA Small hydro reduced Meenvallam waterfalls to a trickle One of the major tourism attractions in the district with a soothing microclimate, Meenvallam’s celebrated waterfalls have turned into a trickle of late by Meenvallam hydro project on Bharathapuzha river basin. Interestingly the Palakkad district panchayat enjoys the reputation of being the first local body in India to build and successfully operate a mini-hydroelectric project, It is feared that three more small and one micro hydro projects will totally destroy all the water falls.

DAMS 

NGT issues notices to centre, Uttarakhand over hydroelectric project on Yamuna The case is related to the construction of the 300 megawatt Lakhwar hydroelectric project without any environment clearance or environmental impact study. The Lakhwar project, which requires the diversion of around 1,200 hectares of land, involves the construction of a 204-metre-high dam and a 40-km-long reservoir near Lohari village in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. The project is nearly 30 years old and got administrative clearance from the environment ministry in 1987, but construction stopped in 1992. However, work on part of the project restarted in 2014. The notices were issued on a petition filed by environmentalist Manoj Misra who said in his petition that construction of the project is based on administrative clearance and lacks the essential and statutory requirements of environment impact assessment, cumulative impact assessment, biodiversity impact assessment and disaster risk management.

One Percent Increase in Water Storage Level of 91 Major Reservoirs of the Country The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country as on September 30, 2015 was 95.693 BCM, which is 61% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This is one percent more than the storage of 95.313 BCM which was recorded on September 23, 2015. 

Shahpur Kandi dam: Punjab, J&K agree to sign fresh pact and fast-track the completion of the much-delayed 206 MW, Rs 2,285-crore Shahpur Kandi dam project on the Ravi river. The new accord is likely to be signed in November by the two chief ministers. The development is significant as the J&K government had on September 3, 2014, stopped construction work on this dam. In July this year, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal wrote a letter to his J&K counterpart, reiterating Punjab’s position that the state’s controversial legislation Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 – did not apply to J&K. The legislation had annulled the agreements entered among Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan on the sharing of Ravi and Beas waters. Badal also informed the J&K CM that an affidavit had been filed in the Supreme Court to this effect.

Hirakud Oustees Struggle for Basic Amenities Story of a village displaced by Hirakud dam 60 years ago, struggling without any electricity, roads or other benefits of the “development”. Six decades after they gave up their land for the Hirakud dam reservoir, villagers of Kurumkel in Uttam gram panchayat of the district are still struggling for basic necessities. Located on the periphery of the reservoir, the village does not have electricity or a motorable road. Kurumkel is surrounded by backwaters of the reservoir on one side and Barapahad hill range on the other. Situated 80 km away from Bargarh town, the village is home to 80 families with a population of 400 persons, mostly Dalit and tribals. As per Government records, 22,144 families of 249 villages including Kurumkel were displaced for the dam. Most of them resettled in the periphery of the dam. Kurumkel along with neighbouring villages of Bhutli and Balijuri under Lakhanpur gram panchayat form a Ward. None in the village has Record of Rights of the land.

Full Hirakud, but not enough power The water level at the Hirakud reservoir on the Mahanadi near Sambalpur had recently crossed its maximum capacity of 630ft, but the state has failed to utilise the situation to generate power. The failure to capitalise on the rise in the dam’s water level is because only four of the state’s seven hydel power generation units are functional. The three that are lying defunct require maintenance. Even the four units that are churning out power cannot work for more than eight hours. Reckoned among the biggest earthen dams of the world, Hirakud is also a victim of heavy siltation that has taken a toll on its storage capacity and power generation. Hirakud is generating far below its promises power generation level, a good example of why our hydropower generation is falling rapidly.

Srivaikuntam dam work: farmers launch indefinite fast  A total of 20 farmers, including 91-year-old C. Nainar Kulasekaran, founder of Tamirabharani River Water Protection Federation, launched an indefinite fast at Nattathi in Srivaikuntam taluk, urging the government authorities to set up a joint committee to monitor the desilting work under way in Srivaikuntam dam. Mr. Kulasekaran said that the committee should comprise farmers, officials and the public to monitor the work to ensure transparency. He alleged irregularities in the work being executed by the Public Works Department. He appealed to the authorities to expedite the work to ensure adequate storage of water during monsoon. Earlier, he sought the district administration to release a white paper on the work, since it had not been done properly as defined by NGT. PWD sources, however, said that the farmers’ demand for setting up of a joint committee should be placed before the NGT, which withheld the committee that was constituted earlier this month.

Also see, Green signal for desilting forest land in Srivaikuntam dam Two teams formed to monitor the operation. The green signal from the Department of Forests will take forward the much-awaited desilting in the first reach of Srivaikuntam dam. Out of the 5.1 kilometres earmarked for desilting, 900 metres belonged to the Department of Forests in the first reach and the rest was with the Public Works Department.

IRRIGATION

CIC Directive to Centre on Polavaram Tribal Rights’ Protection Central Information Commissioner (CIC) M Sridhar Acharyulu  has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to inform whether forest rights of tribal people were recognised, and the written consent of the gram sabhas were obtained for the rehabilitation package under the Polavaram Irrigation Project. The direction of CIC was in response to appellant D Suresh Kumar, who filed an RTI application with Forest Conservation Division of Union Environment and Forests ministry on November 10, 2014 seeking detailed information about Forest Clearance granted to the Polavaram Project. Indeed, the Forest Rights were never settled and consents of gram sabhas were never taken under FRI for Polavaram affected villages.

Maharashtra to speed up Krishna-Marathwada irrigation project In an attempt to provide a long-term solution to the water crisis in the arid Marathwada region, the state government has decided to accelerate the Krishna-Marathwada irrigation project. Through this project, 23.66 tmc water can be diverted from the Krishna basin to the Marathwada region. Of this 7 tmc water can be diverted immediately but this will require work on the Nira-Bhima and Bhima-Sina canals. The research towards the diversion of the remaining 16.66 tmc needs to be started, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said. If 7 tmc of water is diverted to Marathwada, then 33,945 hectares of land can be brought under irrigation, officials said.

Odisha Govt. gives go ahead signal to Turi-Guntat irrigation project The proposed project has been provided mandatory clearance by the Central Water Commission. Turi is a left tributary of the river Indravati and Guntat is a sub-tributary of Turi. The proposed Turi-Guntat irrigation project will be located in the Indravati sub-basin of Godavari basin in Nabarangpur. Turi and Guntat originate from the hills of Chandrapur village in Papadahandi block of the district and both the rivers meet at Siuni village, around 3.5 km downstream of the proposed barrage sites.

Ner Dhamna dam cost jumps by 500% in 6 years Its yet another case of frequent cost escalation, government apathy, and unholy nexus between the government officials, contractors and politicians, the ‘Purna Barrage-2’ project popularly referred as ‘Ner Dhamna’ is yet to see light of the day, six years after it was conceptualized 2009. On other hand, the estimates have jumped by a whopping 500% from Rs182 crore in 2009 to Rs911 crore, which was latest one sent to the government for clearance on September 9. Ironically, only 75% work, as claimed by the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Council (VIDC) officials is completed, against actual deadline of 2012. Now, the VIDC officials have revised the deadline 2017-18, which is again very unlikely to be achieved, looking at the current pace of work. Even the cost would cross Rs1,000 crore by the time it would be fully completed. These shocking revelations came to light during recently concluded ‘Sinchan Shodh Yatra’ by a joint delegation of five social organizations including Jan Manch, Vidarbha Economic Development Council and Bapuji Ane Smarak Samiti.

INTER LINKING OF RIVERS

Greens express concern over Pattiseema  Good to see TOI raising the issue following letter from SANDRP and others to MoEF. In a petition sent to union minister Prakash Javadekar, activists led by Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP of Mumbai said that 1.3 crore cubic m of sand was dug from the Godavari river bed at Pattiseema for the lift irrigation scheme. The experts requested the union minister to issue notice to AP for violation of the EIA notification and Environment Protection Act and take necessary legal steps.

60% habitat of Egyptian vulture to be submerged in Ken Betwa project Besides tiger habitat, 60% habitat of vultures, especially endangered Egyptian vulture, will be submerged in proposed Ken Betwa link reservoir forest dept told the State Wildlife Board meeting on Sept 22, 2015, and yet the CM rode roughshod over the opinion of independent members like M K Ranjit Singh and Belinda Wright.

Experts find government’s grand plan to link 37 rivers nothing more than wishful thinking The report cited many experts who have cautioned and raised several valid reasons against the River Interlinking project. They suggest that instead of treating ILR as a prestige project, the Narendra Modi government would do well to weigh the financial and ecological costs against the potential benefits of each link, and also exhaust all viable alternatives before proceeding with a project with no comparable precedent anywhere in the world. Some believe the project may not even be completed by 2050 given the scale of the project and inter-state complications. Several rivers like Cauvery, Godavari, Narmada and Krishna are at the centre of disputes between the respective riparian states.

MONSOON

The country has, for the first time since 1986-87, experienced back-to-’back monsoon failures Consecutive monsoon failures are very rare. Since the last century, there have been only three other such instances: in 1904 and 1905, 1965 and 1966, and 1987 and 1988. The interesting thing this time, though, is that back-to-back drought — as many as 23 out of the country’s 36 meteorological subdivisions have reported rainfall deficiency exceeding 10 per cent — has not led to any runaway inflation. The effects of a ‘strong’ El Nino event ultimately proved too much, more than neutralising any ‘positive’ Indian Ocean Dipole, Madden-Julian Oscillations or other such countervailing weather phenomena. The behaviour of the south-west monsoon has also been unusual. It started off very well, with June recording 15.8 per cent surplus rainfall. But as the season progressed, each month turned out to be worse than the preceding one. There was a brief period of revival during the second half of July, which was, however, followed by a dry and hot August.  

Why India has had such a poor monsoon INDIA’S monsoon is one of the world’s most important weather events. About half of the countrys’ population—that is, 600m people—depend directly on the rain it bears. Like all weather patterns, the monsoon is erratic. Four years in ten count as abnormal. But this year—in which total rainfall is 14% below the 50-year-average between June and September—is exceptional. Droughts of this sort happens about once every 18 years. There is also extreme variation within the variation. Some parts of the country, the western state of Gujarat for example, have seen higher-than-normal rainfall. Others, especially in the north and the eastern coast, have had precipitation that is 40% below average. 

DROUGHT

302 of 614 districts reeling under drought, highest since 2009 Deficient or scanty rains have affected people in 302 districts out 614 that have sent in their rainfall data to IMD. 17 of the country’s 36 weather subdivisions had received deficient or scanty rainfall. That’s about 39% of the country’s area, home to over 66 crore people, nearly half the country’s population. Details of some 27 districts mainly in the North-East and J&K are yet to come in. Eighteen out of 36 states and union territories are affected. Some of the country’s top grain producing states like Punjab, Haryana, UP, MP and Bihar are part of this belt. These are also areas of high population density, and high dependence on agriculture. Considering the gigantic scales involved in this drought, it is surprising that not much alarm or preparation is visible at the policy makers’ level.  There are other worrying indicators also. In the 91 big reservoirs in the country, current water storage is 61% of their total live storage capacity, according to the latest data from the Central Water Commission. This is significantly lower than the 10-year average of 77% storage.

MAHARASHTRA State says 59.9% rainfall, IMD says 73%: Highlights and discrepancies of Maharashtra’s Monsoon 2015 As the monsoon 2015 comes to an end on Sept 30, an analysis of rainfall figures in Maharashtra by Parineeta Dandekar throws up a few surprises. IMD says Maharashtra had 732.5 mm rainfall, or 73% of normal monsoon rainfall of 1007.3 mm. But state government says the rainfall was 678.2 mm, or 59.9% of normal rainfall of 1131 mm. Nashik district, IMD says, received 729 mm rainfall, with just 20% deficit from normal, but the state agricultural department says Nashik district received 484.8 mm or 52% deficit rainfall! Such differences in figures between IMD and state government are surely shocking. The IMD’s meteorological divisions also seem incongruous. For example, it has an area call Madhya Maharashtra, spanning some ten districts, from North to South, including areas for four river basins! There is no clarity what is the logic of such divisions. Read on for details and let us know your feedback.

The solution to Pune water crisis is within the city, not outside: Experts Politicians have been coming up with various possible ways to tackle the water crisis, likely to become a permanent problem in the city. New dam, additional quota of water and fetching water from dams like Bhama Askhed and Mulshi are their some of the proposed solutions. But experts and activists have a different take on the matter. They believe the city has to look inwards for the water crisis solution. Dependence on water import would just add to the water stress, they claimed. “It is entirely unjustified, immoral and unacceptable for a city like Pune, which has not worked seriously on any of the options for reducing wastage and reusing its water, to simply ask for a new dam or more water. New dam will be built at a great cost to a vulnerable society and ecosystem. Instead of asking for more water, the Pune Municipal Corporation should come out with a white paper on water status. Let us know what is happening to every single drop of water. Then we can ask for more water and alternative solutions,” said Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP.

Maharashtra to levy drought tax on several items  A range of items including petrol, diesel, alcohol, cigarettes, cold drinks, diamond and gold jewellery will cost more in Maharashtra, as the Devendra Fadnavis government, in a desperate bid to bolster its finances, has decided to levy a surcharge to tackle drought in the state. This is the first time since 1973 that a state government has decided to take such a drastic step. Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the surcharge — he described it as essential but temporary and would be effective for the next five months — is meant to help farmers who have been hit by one of the worst droughts in recent times.

20% water cut in Mumbai to stay till next monsoon BMC The decision will help in reduction in the time for which water is supplied to households. While the city’s current water stock (11,45,001 million litres) is expected to last 243 days, the civic body needs water for 304 days until the next monsoon. The BMC wanted to increase the water cut to 30%, but shelved the plan after last week’s rain. The last time the city faced a water cut through the year was in 2009. The seven lakes supplying water to the city need 14 lakh million litres to be filled, but there is a shortage of three lakh million litres. The rain deficit has forced the civic administration to continue with its cut. The BMC, however, has come up with a plan to maintain the water level in the reservoirs, so the water can be supplied at normal pressure. They have also started a rigorous drive against illegal water connections and fixing of leakages to conserve water.

Open to supplying Mulshi dam water for Pune: Irrigation officials A day after a demand to this effect from former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, irrigation officials said that they were open to drawing water from Mulshi dam for Pune city’s needs as and when requested by the civic body for the same. According Atul Kapole, superintending engineer of Pune irrigation circle there has been a considerable dip in dam water levels compared to the last year. However, this is only for drinking purposes. There is bound to be shortage for irrigation. If a request is put forth by the civic body in the days ahead, we will decide on drawing water from Mulshi dam, subject to clearance from the state. Earlier citing severe water shortage due to poor rainfall, NCP leader Ajit Pawar had urged the state government to use water in Mulshi dam to meet for drinking water needs of the population in Pune city. He also said that water in Mulshi dam was being used for power generation by Tata while the priority present should be drinking and agriculture.

AGRICULTURE

12.5% खाद्य पदार्थों में मिले बिना इजाजत वाले कीटनाशक  सरकार की एक जांच में चावल, गेहूं, दाल, फल, सब्जी, दूध जैसे खाद्य पदार्थों में ऐसे कीटनाशक पाए गए हैं जिनके इस्तेमाल की इजाजत नहीं है। देशभर में खुदरा और थोक दुकानों से पिछले साल 20,618 सैंपल लिए गए थे। इनमें से 12.5 फीसदी में ऐसे कीटनाशक पाए गए। यह खुलासा कृषि मंत्रालय की एक रिपोर्ट में हुआ है। इसके मुताबिक 543 या 2.6 फीसदी सैंपल में अधिकतम सीमा से ज्यादा कीटनाशक मिले। यह सीमा खाद्य सुरक्षा अथॉरिटी एफएसएसएआई तय करती है। सब्जियों के 8,342 सैंपल में से 1,180 सैंपल में बिना इजाजत वाले कीटनाशक मौजूद थे। इसके अलावा 200 से ज्यादा सैंपल में तय सीमा से ज्यादा कीटनाशक पाए गए। दो फीसदी ऑर्गेनिक सब्जियों में भी ज्यादा मात्रा में कीटनाशक मिले। फलों के 1.8 फीसदी सैंपल में एफएसएसएआई की तय सीमा से ज्यादा पेस्टीसाइड थे। 225 सैंपल में अस्वीकृत रसायन पाए गए। चावल के 1,076 सैंपल में से 30 में अस्वीकृत और 68 में तय मात्रा से ज्यादा कीटनाशक पाए गए। गेहूं के 805 सैंपल में से 17 में डेल्टामेथ्रिन नामक कीटनाशक तय मात्रा से ज्यादा मिला। दालोंके 43 सैंपल में बिना इजाजत वाले कीटनाशक मौजूद थे। छह फीसदी सैंपल में अस्वीकृत कीटनाशक मिले। मसालों के 1,299 में से 732 सैंपल में बिना इजाजत वाले और 107 में तय मात्रा से ज्यादा कीटनाशक मौजूद थे।

GROUND WATER

Haryana officially accept 92 acres of Aravali forest as landfill site for Gurgaon, Faridabad waste, experts warn against ground water pollution Since the area falls under the restricted zone where no non-forest activity is allowed, the Haryana government has started the process for exempting the huge land parcel from the legal provision. Villagers from Gothra Mohbatabad and the adjoining areas have been opposing any move to either convert a mined pit as landfill or set up a municipal solid waste management plant. They have been alleging that this will pollute and destroy the sweet ground water in the entire region. Environment analyst Chetan Agarwal says that since the entire Aravali functions as a major water recharge zone, any chance of leakage of leachate from solid waste would pollute the ground water and would become a serious public health issue.

Also see, Water pollution making Aravali villagers sick  Groundwater pollution in Aravalis caused by tonnes of untreated waste lying near defunct Bandhwari waste treatment plant is leading to disease like skin lesions, bloody diarrhoea and dermatitis among people from neighbouring villages. The waste treatment plant meant for Gurgaon and Faridabad districts has been lying defunct for the last two years. However, it’s still being used as dumping yard and leachate has seeped into the ground, polluting the water. Taking advantage of the situation, private water suppliers here have increased price of a 50-litre bottle to Rs 1,000 from Rs 600 to Rs 700 till a few months back. Environmentalists fear that contamination is spreading across a large part of Aravalis. Every day, municipal corporations of Gurgaon and Faridabad dump 1,100 metric tonne waste at the 30-acre site.  A case has already been filed in NGT.

URBAN WATER

Privatisation of urban water supply: The muddy picture Illuminating reality of water privatisation performance in India. In 2012, the BJP-led municipal body in Nagpur handed over its water supply to a subsidiary of the French water corporation, Veolia, for 25 years. Since then, the project has seen allegations of corruption, four increases in water tariffs, cost overruns, and delays in plugging leaks. The municipal body’s financial losses from water works have reportedly increased by Rs 60 crore per annum, leading to demands, from both opposition parties and the local community, for the ouster of the private player.

Residents march for action to revive Naini Lake Stepping up their campaign to save the Naini Lake in north Delhi’s Model Town, residents held a march to press for the implementation of an action plan to revive the dying water body. Around 150 residents marched around the lake, raising slogans and holding up placards supporting the return of aquatic life and birds to the lake. As Model Town was being developed in the 1960s, this natural water body was retained and named after Nainital’s famous lake. But residents say, over the years, the area around the lake was concretised and the lake treated as a fun park, which led to the death of many endemic species. The water often smells and at times a large number of fish are found dead. The lake falls under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation. Since 1992, the civic body has leased out the lake to the Delhi Tourism and Transport Corporation, which operates a boating facility there.

Gurgaon to convert defunct drains along expressway into underpasses According to officials, pedestrians used to use the defunct drains — that stretch all the way from Shankar Chowk to Kherki Daula — to cross the National Highway 8 before the expressway was constructed. Gurgaon civic body officials and the Traffic Police hit upon a plan to decongest Shankar Chowk while inspecting the junction last week. Officials found 16 defunct stormwater drains alongside the Expressway and service roads, which they have decided to convert into underpasses for the use of pedestrians.

जल की कमी मानव निर्मित समस्या  आज के इंसान के लिए साफ पानी का होना एक प्रमुख वैश्विक समस्या का रूप लेती नजर आ रही है। इक्कीसवी शताब्दी में मनुष्य की सबसे बड़ी चुनौती है साफ और पीने लायक पानी पर्याप्त मात्रा में उपलब्ध कराना। संयुक्त राष्ट्र की ‘जीवन के लिए जल’ रिपोर्ट बताती है कि दुनिया की आबादी का पांचवां हिस्सा साफ पानी से वंचित है। इसका कारण पानी के पर्याप्त स्रोत का न होना नहीं, बल्कि पानी का गलत इस्तेमाल और बर्बादी है। जब हम मंगल ग्रह पर जीवन के निशान खोजने के लिए जल को एक प्रमुख स्रोत मानते हैं, तो अपनी सभ्यता और जीवन को बचाए रखने के लिए जल का महत्त्व भी समझना होगा। आज अगर हथियारों पर बर्बाद होने वाली दौलत को साफ पानी के संसाधनों को बचाने में लगा दिया जाए, तो विश्व में शांति और सहयोग बढ़ाने के साथ-साथ हम आने वाली पीढ़ी का ऋण भी चुका पाने में सफल हो सकते हैं।

दिल्ली जल बोर्ड को 50% बिल का नहीं मिलता  राजस्व हाईटेक हो रही दिल्ली में आज भी दिल्ली जल बोर्ड को 40 से 50 फीसदी राजस्व की प्राप्ति नहीं हो रही है, जिसकी वजह से जल बोर्ड को राजस्व का नुकसान हो रहा है। जल बोर्ड के लगभग 20 लाख उपभोक्ताओं में से महज 12 लाख के करीब उपभोक्ताओं से ही राजस्व प्राप्त हो रहा है। जल बोर्ड के सुपरीटेंडेंट इंजीनियर विक्रम सिंह ने नेशनल वाटर समिट कार्यक्रम के दौरान यह जानकारी दी कि दिल्ली जल बोर्ड को केवल 60 फीसदी बिल का ही राजस्व रहा है। दिल्ली जल बोर्ड के एक अधिकारी कहते हैं कि कि अभी भी जल बोर्ड को केवल 50 से 55 फीसदी तक ही पेयजल आपूर्ति के बदले राजस्व की प्राप्ति होती है। उन्होंने बताया कि स्टाफ की कमी मॉनिटरिंग का अभाव जैसे बुनियादी समस्याओं की वजह से पूरा बिल नहीं बन पाता है। आज भी केवल 75 फीसदी बिल ही तैयार होता है और इसका भी केवल 70 फीसदी तक राजस्व प्राप्त होता है। उन्होंने उदाहरण देते हुए बताया कि फिलहाल छह हजार पानी के कनेक्शन पर एक मीटर रीडर है, जबकि मानक के तहत एक हजार पानी के कनेक्शन पर एक मीटर रीडर होना चाहिए।

RIVERS

Yettinahole Project : Mangalore Diocese resolves to oppose Yettinahole project terming it to be a threats to Western Ghat’s rich bio-diversity and a waste the public money. The resolution was taken after a seminar on Yettinahole project held at Bishop’s House. Earlier professor SG Mayya of NIT-K Surathkal, an expert in hydrology, made a presentation on the cons of Yettinahole project. He said that the project may affect the future generation in Dakshina Kannada district. He added that the riparian and prior appropriation rights on Nethravathi river water have been blatantly ignored in the DPR of Yettinahole project.

Unholy mess: idol immersion is laying waste to India’s rivers and seas Every year, thousands of idols – from tiny 6-inch ones to humongous statues like Mumbai’s 20-foot Lalbag Cha Raja – end up in rivers, lakes and seas, polluting them ever more. While the tradition is quite old, the ecological disaster is relatively new. Traditionally, the idols were made of clay and painted with organic colours such as turmeric, which dissolved without any lasting adverse impact on the water bodies. Now, the idols are largely made by setting Plaster of Paris on a metallic frame. The colours are all chemical-based. These idols remain intact underwater for a long time, leaking harmful synthetic colours. To check pollution, therefore, thousands of idols have been dredged out every year.

NGT questions decision to scrap river zone policy Great to see this, River Regulation Zone Policy scrapping, hastily carried out by Maharashtra Government has been challenged in the NGT. The NGT’s western region bench here has questioned the state government’s authority to revoke the River Regulation Zone (RRZ) policy that spelt out, among other things, no-development zones within specific distances of the high flood lines on either sides of the river basins. The order issued last week by a he bench of Justice V R Kingaonkar and Ajay A Deshpande directed the state environment department to file an affidavit explaining how revocation of the RRZ policy be not deemed void ab initio (invalid from the outset). The policy was issued under the Environment Protection Act, 1988, a central enactment, and ought to have been revised/revoked by a competent authority under the same Act, the bench noted. The tribunal was hearing an application filed by Subhash Ramkrishna Patil through lawyers Vilas Mahajan and Pushan Bhule, highlighting the problem of discharge of untreated sewage and construction debris into rivers Mutha and Mula in the city.

पांच साल पहले उजाड़, इंदौर की चोरलनदी के समीप खिल उठी हरियाली यह संभव हुआ वहां पौधारोपण के बाद लोगों की चहलकदमी पर रोक लगाने से। अब नजारा किसी हिल स्टेशन से कम नहीं है। फिलहाल अगले दो साल तक इस इलाके को पिकनिक स्पॉट के लिए नहीं खोला जाएगा। अभी बिना अनुमति इस वन क्षेत्र में प्रवेश पर कार्रवाई भी हो सकती है। इस जगह को पर्यटकों के लिए फिलहाल नहीं खोला जाएगा। अगले साल भी बड़ी संख्या में पौधे लगाए जाएंगे, ताकि ज्यादा से ज्यादा जगह हरियाली से कवर हो जाए। सुरक्षा बतौर ग्राम वन समिति की ड्यूटी लगाई गई है। मांडादेव खो में चोरल नदी के दोनों तरफ अब बड़े-बड़े पेड़ दिखाई देने लगे हैं। इसके कारण अब यहां हिल स्टेशन जैसा नजारा है।

नदियांनहरें बचाने को तालाब में विसर्जित 1100 गणेश प्रतिमाएं अब मिट्टी में दबाईं ‘मिट्‌टी के गणेश, घर में ही विसर्जन’ रोहतक में प्रशासन-भक्तों ने की नई पहल ! प्लास्टर ऑफ पेरिस (पीआेपी) से बनी गजानन की मूर्तियों को इस बार नदियों नहरों में प्रवाहित करके शहर के गोकर्ण तालाब में विसर्जित किया गया था। तीन दिन बाद तालाब का पानी खाली किया गया तो लगभग 1100 छोटी-बड़ी मूर्तियां निकलीं। गोकर्ण परिसर में इन मूर्तियों काे विधिपूर्वक ट्रालियों में भरकर पास में स्थित खाली जमीन में 50 मीटर से बड़ा गड्‌ढ़ा खोदकर मिट्टी में दबा दिया गया। इससे पहले पीओपी से बनीं गणेश प्रतिमाओं को जेएलएन नहर में ही विसर्जित किया जाता रहा है। हानिकारक केमिकलों से बनी इन मूर्तियों के नहर में प्रवाहित करने से जल प्रदूषण होता है। जिला प्रशासन का रवैया भी सहयोगात्मक रहा। नहर में विसर्जन पर रोक लगाते हुए वैकल्पिक व्यवस्था बनाई।

क्षिप्रा नदी का पानी शुद्ध, स्वच्छ और आचमन लायक बनाए जाने के निर्देश उज्जैन में अगले वर्ष आयोजित होने वाले सिंहस्थ के दौरान क्षिप्रा नदी का पानी और आचमन लायक बनाए जाने के निर्देश दिए। संभागायुक्त रवीन्द पस्तोर ने यहां सिंहस्थ मेला कार्यालय में सिंहस्थ 2016 के कार्यों की समीक्षा बैठक में ये निर्देश देते हुए कहा कि सभी घाट पूर्ण रूप से साफ, व्यवस्थित एवं सुंदर होने चाहिए।  बैठक में सिंचाई विभाग के अधिकारी ने बताया गया कि खान नदी डायवर्शन का कार्य 28 फरवरी तक पूर्ण कर लिया जायेगा और क्षिप्रा के घाटों की साफ-सफाई एवं आवश्यक मरम्मत का कार्य 1 अक्टूबर से प्रारंभ कर दिया जाएगा। यह कार्य एक माह के अंदर 31 अक्टूबर तक पूर्ण कर लिया जायेगा। उज्जैन विकास प्राधिकरण के अधिकारी ने बताया कि घाटों के सौंदर्यीकरण का कार्य प्राधिकरण द्वारा कराया जाएगा।

Saritayan: Ecological Society, Pune has organised a week-long novel festival celebrating Pune’s Rivers and aiming to bring urban citizens closer to once-beautiful rivers. “Muthai Festival” includes fun activities like river walk, painting your river, heritage walk and an interesting program based on poems and songs around rivers: Today at 6 pm Kabir Bag Hall.

GANGA  Uma Bharati asks WAPCOS to join Clean Ganga programme Praising the work carried out by WAPCOS in Afghanistan under adverse circumstances, Uma Bharati urged the mini ratna firm to join her ministry in the river clean-up programme with full vigour. Earlier, WAPCOS chairman and managing director R.K. Gupta presented a dividend cheque of Rs 16.50 crore for the year 2014-2015 to the minister. During 2014-2015, the company achieved the highest ever gross income of Rs.928.30 crore, profitability of Rs.111.05 crore and secured new business of Rs.1,375.92 crore. The net worth of WAPCOS, under the ministry of water resources, has reached Rs.309.31 crore. Established in 1969, the company provides consultancy services in the fields of water resources, power and infrastructure. It has several projects across India, Asia and Africa.

Low rainfall affects flow of Ganga The low rainfall this season (between June and September) has badly affected the flow and water level of Ganga. The river is heading towards an alarming stage where its sand-beds may become visible much before the dry winter season. The grave situation could be understood from the data that at a time of the healthy rainfall in August-September period, where 90,000 to 1.2 lakh cusecs of water discharge per second remains a routine affair from Narora Dam, this year for past 25 days, only 357 cusecs of water per second is being discharged from the dam. The situation is no different at Haridwar. From Haridwar, only 9,032 cusecs of water per second was released on Wednesday, which got marginally increased to 10,032 cusecs per second on Thursday. Such low quantity of water is discharged from Narora and Haridwar around Februray and March months every year. But this year in September itself such a situation has come up. The water level in the downstream of Ganga at barrage dipped to just 109.70 metres, far below the warning mark of 113 metres. The water level can fall further as anticipated by the irrigation department and situation may further worsen.

गंगा की छाती को चीर रहे हैं खनन माफिया बुलंदशहर जिले में खनन माफिया प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी के ड्रीम प्रोजेक्ट नमामि गंगे की धज्जियां उड़ा रहे हैं। जिले के नरौरा, अहार, रामघाट व कर्णवास स्थित गंगा तटों से बड़े पैमाने पर बालू का अवैध खनन हो रहा है। अवैध खनन में लगे इन माफियाओं को न ही एनजीटी की परवाह है और न ही प्रशासन का डर। रोजाना शाम होते ही शुरू होने वाला बालू खनन पूरी रात चलता है। बालू से भरी सैकड़ों ट्रॉलियां जिले भर में बेरोकटोक निकलती हैं। खास बात ये है कि यह बालू खनन भोर होते ही रोक दिया जाता है। इस पर न तो पुलिस कोई ध्यान दे रही है और न ही प्रशासन। गंगा किनारे चल रहे अवैध खनन से जहां गंगा की जलधारा प्रभावित हो रही है। वहीं जल जीवों पर भी इसका बुरा असर पड़ रहा है। खासकर डॉल्फिन की संख्या में तेजी से कमी आई है। जिले के नरौरा स्थित प्रदेश के इकलौते वेटलैंड (रामसर साइट) पर अवैध खनन जोरों से चल रहा है। इसके अलावा लगातार हो रहे अवैध खनन से जहां भूजल स्तर प्रतिदिन नीचे जा रहा है, वहीं पेयजल व सिंचाई की योजनाएं भी प्रभावित हो रही हैं।

Countries Ride Ganga Wave to Cleanse the River Foreign countries are making a beeline for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi to participate in the Clean Ganga Mission in the holy city. Among the contenders to clean the river are Japan, Germany, Australia and Israel. Germany, which initially wanted to clean the Ganga at Varanasi, seems to have now agreed to carry out the drive at Kanpur, Patna and Kolkata. An MoU in this regard is expected to be signed during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s India visit from October 4-6. Earlier this year, Germany decided to provide three million Euros to support the Ganga rejuvenation plan and develop the river. Germany is known for cleaning the river Rhine, which was once Europe’s most polluted waterway. It will share its experience and expertise in the Clean Ganga Mission. The National Mission for Clean Ganga has identified 11 major towns along the Ganga’s course for cleaning up ghats. These include Rishikesh, Hardwar, Garhmukteshwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Sahibganj, Kolkata and Nabadweep.

Ganga On The Big Screen: UN filmmaker lends a hand to Clean Ganga The film on Ganga will either have the river telling her own story, or will be through the eyes of a boy unwilling to immerse his father’s ashes in the murky waters.

YAMUNA ‘Centre examining land use change for millennium depot’  Even as the DDA is reportedly not in favour of new construction at the millennium bus depot here, the Union government is looking into changing the land use of the depot site to enable the DTC to continue using it for parking buses. In an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court, the DTC said that the Centre, which was examining the issue, had recently sought additional information on the subject. The DDA had recently informed the High Court that it could not change the land use of the site from zone ‘O’, comprising river and water body, to transportation, as the NGT had prohibited construction in such areas. Besides, the DTC had not obtained a NOC from the Ministry of Urban Development or Land and Development Office with regard to the site’s ownership, stated the DDA. The 50-acre millennium bus depot was constructed at a cost of Rs.60 crore on the banks of the Yamuna for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Sorry State of Yamuna Mulled on World Rivers Day The problems of the Yamuna and other Indian rivers were again in focus on the annual World Rivers Day, as the people of Braj Mandal joined millions around the world to highlight environmental degradation and pollution in rivers which have sustained life and culture in many societies. World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world. Activists in Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan celebrated the day with group discussions, visits to the river and rallies.

WETLANDS

Birdwatchers demand sanctuary status for Dhanauri wetland A group of conservationists and nature lovers will study the Dhanauri wetland in Geater Noida, which has recently emerged as a favourite spot for birdwatchers, to develop it as a sanctuary for Sarus cranes. The wetland, located less than two-hour’s drive from the city, is home to hundreds of sarus cranes and over two hundred bird species.

SAND MINING

No sand mining during rains, says NGT  The National Green Tribunal has now directed the Union Environment Ministry not to grant environmental clearance for sand mining in the rivers of north India till September 1 each year and during the rainy season. A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar gave the order on a plea by environmental activist Virendra Kumar alleging mining activity was being carried out by private parties during monsoons. The MoEF told before the tribunal that there are restrictions on sand mining during rains. “Counsel for the Ministry submits that the restrictions for carrying on mining activity is during the raining season which is normally mid-May to mid-August. In view of this, there is no reason for us to interfere. Consequently, we dispose of this application. But we make it clear that in future, the Ministry whenever granting environmental clearance in north India shall incorporate the condition that no river mining is carried on till September 1,” the Bench said.

File status report on illegal mining, NGT tells govt Taking cognizance of illegal mining activities at Neugal river near Palampur the NGT has asked the state government and forest and mining departments to submit their replies before December 5, 2015. These orders were passed by a special bench of the NGT in Shimla while hearing a petition filed by Baljeet Singh Bhateria, a resident of Palampur. Bhateria, in his petition, told the NGT that there was a complete ban on the mining and quarrying activities in the Neugal river and other tributaries of the Beas. But, still a large scale of illegal mining and quarrying was going on unchecked in Palampur region. In his petition, Bhateria stated that illegal mining activities had also posed a serious threat to various irrigation and drinking water supply schemes of the Irrigation and Public Health Department, which get water from the Neugal river. The petitioner also told the court that he had brought the matter to the notice of the state Forest and Mining Department and requested to stop illegal mining, dismantle the roads constructed by the mining mafia to the reach the river bed and impound vehicles involved in the mining activities, but to no avail.

FLOOD 2015

Extent of Damage as on 28 Sep. 2015 (cumulative figures)  

Population affected

 

No. of

human lives lost

No. of districts affected No. of villages affected No. of

Live- stock lost

Cropped area affected

(in ha)

No. of houses damaged Estimated value of Total damage

 

1,77,75,534 852 55 2,114 60,288 10,01,424.88    794869

(fully & partially)

132084.18

(Rs. In Lakh)

* Arunachal Pradesh slot remained blank against all the categories. (Sources National Disaster Management India)  

ENERGY OPTIONS

On 2 Oct. Baripatha becomes Odisha’s first 100% solar-powered village Many solar projects elsewhere in the country have floundered and failed but Baripatha a tribal village about 25 km southwest of Bhubaneswar is different. Its model is low-cost, low-maintenance and community-owned – elements that are missing in other solar-powered projects. The Rs 7-lakh project, co-funded by ECCO Electronics (a solar products manufacturer) and Jakson Group (a diversified power solutions provider), has put individual solar units with two lamps in each of the village’s 61 households, along with a central one-kilowatt unit that powers eight street lamps, and an LED television set and a TV set-top box for the community centre.

SOUTH ASIA

Farmers Driven from Homes ‘Like Pests’ by Dam Projects Developing nations are in the middle of the biggest dam construction program in history to generate power, irrigate fields, store water and regulate flooding. Yet governments are finding it harder to move people, who have become less trusting of officials and more connected to information about the effects of the dams. Corruption and wrangles over payments have stalled projects from Indonesia to India for decades and frustrated governments are increasingly turning to the ultimate threat: Move, or we will flood you out. There is not a single dam — not a single one — for which India has done proper rehabilitation of people and typically, all of them have seen costs escalate and delays in building says says Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP coordinator.

World Bank consultant mislead on energy transmit to India via Bangladesh In an article titled Asia must aim higher 3 world bank consultant wrongly mention that successful cross-border projects can help create and nurture a constituency for regional integration – a key recent example being power exports from India to Bangladesh, which started off with 250 Mw exports in October 2013, and soon doubled to 500 Mw. There is now a consensus between the two countries that about 7,000 Mw of power being developed in northeast India would be transmitted via Bangladesh to the rest of India, with Bangladesh also drawing a considerable amount. Such projects can feed into a conscious attempt to build a more positive regional narrative, where each success story helps sustain an upward movement in the overall narrative for regional integration.

Pakistan’s 1,300-MW Tarbela Dam 5th Extension hydropower project received consent from the government’s Central Development Working Party earlier this week, leaving approval by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council as its final hurdle. The 5th Extension — an addition to the 3,480-MW Tarbela plant — is being developed by the Water and Power Development Authority. WAPDA extended its deadline for expressions of interest for project preparation and design of the 5th Extension in August. Tarbela Dam, completed in 1974, was designed to store water from the Indus River for irrigation, flood control and the generation of hydroelectric power. The 148 meter high, 3,000 meter long dam has two gated spillways and five tunnels that provide irrigation releases and power generation. At the time of construction the dam tunnels 1, 2 and 3 were scheduled for power generation and tunnels 4 and 5 were designed exclusively for irrigation release. WAPDA is also in the process of repairing and upgrading the original plant.

Nepal’s 335-MW Upper Arun, 30-MW Ikhuwa Khola hydropower plants receive World Bank backing The Government of Nepal has received a US$20 million credit from the World Bank to help implement its Power Sector Reform and Sustainable Hydropower Development Project. The funding will be used to continue preparations for the 335-MW Upper Arun and 30-MW Ikhuwa Khola hydropower plants, which have previous been identified as priority public investments by Nepal’s government. The World Bank has been active in helping Nepal cultivate its hydroelectric power sector, with the organization inviting expressions of interest in rehabilitating the 144-MW Kali Gandaki A plant earlier this month. With this it seems World Bank is getting deeper into Nepal’s water sector. The funding is reportedly being made under Power Sector Reform and Sustainable Hydropower Development Project. One fail to understand from which angle, World Bank finds supporting big hydro projects in disaster prone and quake shaken Nepal sustainable development of hydro projects. Surprisingly no mention of support to community based micro hydro power projects and other renewable source of energy like solar and winds.

REST OF ASIA

Mekong’s future looks dark as new dam mooted Xayaburi is being built, construction of the Don Sahong dam seems likely to go ahead, and Pak Beng has now been brought into the mix. With continuing uncertainty about the possibility of a Cambodian dam at Sambor and that government’s construction of the Lower Se San 2 dam on a major tributary to add to the picture, the Mekong’s future is not looking bright. The feared ‘domino effect’ poses the real possibility that the Mekong River in the Lower Mekong Basin is set to be altered in an irretrievable and negative fashion.

REST OF THE WORLD

Does the World Bank’s “Success Story” on Dams Still Hold Water?  Ten years on, as the Bank holds up Nam Theun 2 as a model investment to justify scaling up its lending for large dams from Niger to Nepal, it’s time to take a closer look behind the Bank’s claims. The World Bank will hold its Annual Meetings next week in Lima, in the face of stiff competition from new lenders like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The Bank will make the case that it has the know-how to responsibly build a new wave of dams and other mega-projects. Central to the Bank’s case is the example of the Nam Theun 2 Dam in Laos, which the Bank approved in 2005 and continues to tout as a model. But 10 years on, does the World Bank’s purported success story still hold water?

New study urges improved control measures New IWMI research, Over one million people in sub-Saharan Africa will contract malaria this year because they live near a large dam, according to a new study which, for the first time, has correlated the location of large dams with the incidence of malaria. The study team, including two researchers from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), found that construction of an expected 78 major new dams in sub-Saharan Africa over the next few years will lead to an additional 56,000 malaria cases annually.

Greenpeace report slams Brazil plan for Tapajos dam in Amazon Greenpeace called on Brazilian authorities to reject an environmental assessment for a hydroelectric dam on the Tapajos River in the Amazon because it was a “marketing tool” that disregarded the indigenous people living along its banks. Bidding for construction of the large Sao Luiz do Tapajos dam has been postponed until next year by Brazil’s government because it has not obtained a license from environmental agency IBAMA due to differences over indigenous rights. Greenpeace said that a deeper study would show the dam was not feasible environmentally or socially. Greenpeace said the Munduruku people, the largest indigenous group in the Tapajos basin with around 12,000 living along the river, had not been consulted in the planning of the dam.

Project to divert Gila River water a tributary of Colorado river to New Mexico raises concerns A multi-million dollar effort to divert water from a Colorado River tributary into southwest New Mexico is raising concerns, with some reports putting the cost at $1 billion and critics saying it offers far fewer benefits than expected. Critics argue it would be far too costly, that diverting the water could cause environmental problems and that the river is rarely high enough to divert water. They largely cite state and federal reports including one in July 2014 by the Interior Department that found “estimated costs exceed estimated benefits” in the dozens of submitted proposals. The 649-mile-long river flows from southwest New Mexico into Arizona, before emptying into the Colorado River. The 51-year-old Supreme Court ruling allows New Mexico to divert some Gila River water.

Massive Central Texas pipeline project runs into turbulence A $3.4 billion San Antonio pipeline project that could provide more water for parts of the Hill Country and communities along Interstate 35 appears to have hit some headwinds. Ground hasn’t yet been broken on the 142-mile project, known as the Vista Ridge pipeline, but it is under attack both at its source, from rural and environmental interests anxious about drawing down the water table, and at its destination, from critics who say the city and its water utility haven’t been sufficiently transparent about its costs. The San Antonio Water System has said it will try to sell off water it has reserved but won’t need for years – perhaps enough to supply 60,000 households for the next three decades. No deal has been made yet, but much of the water would be shipped from counties east of Austin to the increasing sprawl to the city’s west — seen as a nightmare by environmental groups that had hoped suburban growth would be stifled by the dwindling supplies in the Highland Lakes and by unreliable Hill Country groundwater.

CLIMATE CHANGE

India announces new climate change targets  The Indian government has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity – the ratio between gross emissions and a country’s GDP at a particular point in time – by 33-35% of its 2005 levels by 2030. To do so, India will ensure that about 40% of its electricity will come from non-fossil fuel sources. Additionally, it will increase its tree and forest cover to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Shun negative, adopt positive agenda on climate change: Modi Underlines need for concrete outcomes at the upcoming global conference on climate change in Paris this November. Asking nations to shun negativism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a strong pitch for a positive agenda to tackle climate change in his talks with the US President Barack Obama, who said India’s leadership at the Paris conference would set the tone for decades to come.

India, US activate backroom talks on climate change The series of meetings of the US official in Delhi, including with officials in the PMO, have sparked interest in the Indian side to pull off the bilateral agreement which could cement a positive approach from both the countries for the official UN climate change negotiations in Paris. Days before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the US began a serious attempt to seal a bilateral climate change agreement with India. The US President Barack Obama’s senior advisor in the White House, Brian Deese, was sent on a special one-day mission to Delhi to touch base with an array of top officials in the NDA government to look at the possibility of such a bilateral agreement on climate change technologies. 

Changing climate threatens key development sectors This ADB report warns that Himalayan countries like Bhutan, Nepal Bangladesh could suffer severely due to climate change: “These countries will be lashed by flooding, landslides and reduced energy production from hydropower because of climate change effects,” and their GDP could reduce by upto 6.6% by 2100. What it says about these Himalayan countries could equally apply to Indian Himalayan states from Kashmir to North East India. This is a warning to India to mend its ways in Himalayan states and start caring for adaptation capacities.

ENVIRONMENT

Don’t work against the government, Union minister Rijiju warns global NGOs  Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju has accused Greenpeace of inciting protests against industrial projects and has warned global activists and aid organizations not to work against the government. The warning from Rijiju follows a crackdown by the government on foreign-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Greenpeace and the Ford Foundation. The ministry’s foreigners division, which is under Rijiju and oversaw some $1.8 billion of incoming aid in 2014, suspended Greenpeace’s licence to get foreign funds this year, citing financial irregularities. Under Rijiju, the department has cancelled the licenses of about 13,000 NGOs. Rijiju said he aimed to stop the misuse of foreign funds. He said he was working to make it simpler for aid groups and charities to comply with regulations. Critics say the crackdown is to muzzle dissent and Rijiju’s actions could lead to less foreign aid for projects that fight child marriage, provide clean water in slums and feed pregnant women.

Bill re-opened for debate: Environment Ministry wanted polluters to get away with fine, PMO says go seek public opinion The proposed changes in the Environment Protection Act that would have allowed polluting industries and persons to go scot free after paying a monetary penalty have been re-opened for debate. Tweaking the normal process of Cabinet approval, the Prime Minister’s Office directed the Environment Ministry to post the contents of the Cabinet note on Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill — to amend the EPA and the National Green Tribunal Act — on its website for public opinion. Usually, a concept paper is posted for seeking public views and comments which are then suitably incorporated in the draft Cabinet note sent out for comments of the ministries concerned. Their observations are subsequently included in the final note sent out for Cabinet approval. In this case, most ministries, especially Finance, had objected to insertion of new sub-sections in the Bill defining “substantial damage” and “minor violation” where different levels of monetary punishment were proposed.

Pollution clearance: State govt set to increase validity period for industries As part of its ease-of-doing business initiative under the Enterprise Promotion Policy-2015, the Haryana Government proposes to double the validity period of clearances being given by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) to entrepreneurs for setting up industries. Currently, the industries falling in the red category get clearance for two years whereas those in the orange category for three years. The state government proposes to increase the clearance period of industries falling in the red category from two years to five years and those in the orange category from three years to 10 years. The Technical Advisory Committee of the HSPCB had approved this draft which would now be presented at the board’s meeting. Earlier, the state government had provided big relief to industrial units using boilers by allowing self-certification.

Environment ministry sitting on tribal rights panel report A central ministry has been stalling the implementation of a high-level government panel report on tribal rights by not expressing its opinion on the recommendations to impose tough norms to protect tribes from land alienation. The environment ministry has not responded in the past eight months to a slew of letters from the tribal affairs ministry asking for its comments on the report. The environment ministry in the past tried to do away with the gram sabha consent clause on diverting forestland for industrial purposes, a requirement under the FRA which some see as a hurdle to the NDA government’s economic development push. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the tribal affairs ministry in December last year to get comments from various ministries and state governments before a final decision on the report. Government documents reveal except the environment ministry, all the key ministries and state governments have sent their comments, most of them endorsing the panel’s findings. NITI Aayog has said the two ministries should work together to prevent FRA violation during the diversion of forestland for industrial use.

Forest Rights Act: How rules fail in the jungle Though the FRA was passed about 10 years ago, even now its implementation is patchy and dependent on the initiative of individual district administrators. The FRA recognises that forest dwellers have rights over land that they have been occupying and their communities have rights over use and management of jungles and minor produce from them. Under Section 3 (1) of the Act, it also recognises habitat and habitation rights for those the government calls particularly vulnerable tribal groups. According to the tribal affairs ministry, there are 75 such groups spread across the country, including the Jarawas and Onges in far-fl ung Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Lost in a forest of bad ideas The premise of ‘compensation’ is that of a trade-off: environmental concerns will be sacrificed for developmental projects. Compensatory Afforestation relies on this notion, but it also believes that forests are replaceable fairly easily. This follows from a historic view of forests as sources of wood, bamboo and so on, rather than as systems of biodiversity. If forests are actually just seen as natural resources — with the emphasis more on ‘resources’ than on ‘natural’ — the idea of compensatory afforestation is pain-free. In the words of Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar, forest diversion should be referred to as ‘reforestation’. This is perhaps why the Bill stresses on creating artificial plantations. However, the science of biodiversity debunks the idea that complex forest systems can be recreated easily. Ecological restoration plays a key role in it, as does time. 

Medha Patkar arrested and released along with associates in Allahabad while they were going to Kachri village of the district, where farmers had held protests and clashed with police against acquisition of their land by the UP government for a power plant. Additional SP (trans-Yamuna) Ashutosh Mishra said a case against Patkar and the others was registered as they had not taken prior permission from the district administration to visit the “sensitive area”. Kachri, which is the site of the proposed Karchhana Thermal Power Plant, had witnessed violent protests by farmers over the issue of acquisition of their land earlier this month. The farmers had also clashed with policemen who had gone to the spot to quell the agitation.

World’s largest ecological study aims to make palm oil wildlife-friendly A new palm oil plantation in Borneo, Malaysia, is being used by researchers to study ways of retaining endangered wildlife, including the orang-utan. The most important thing research team is  trying to discover is what additional wildlife they can maintain in forest fragments, and what impact the scale and distribution of those fragments will have on biodiversity levels.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: