Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin Oct 19, 2015 (Migratory birds keep away from NCR due to warm weather)

Sardar Sarovar Dam gates can’t be closed till last person displaced is rehabilitated: SC.

CIC tells centre to give Polavaram project info to RTI applicant

Scrap Renuka dam if Centre-HP row can’t be sorted out: SC

State orders release of Godavari water to drought-hit Marathwada

HC Bombay directs inquiry into release of Gangapur dam water for Shahi Snan at Kumbh Mela

Bhama Askhed dam project: Agitation turns violent

Pinjal-Gargai dam project in Mumbai faces protests

Amid heated arguments Nashik Municipal Corporation approved additional Rs 36cr for Makane dam plan

HYDROPOWER

State electricity boards reluctant to buy power from NHPC projects and many SEBs are unwilling to extend even power purchase agreements which have been signed for five years and have lapsed. The primary reason behind high tariff is time and cost overrun because of issues such as disputes between states, geological issues and resistance from the local population A senior NHPC executive admitted that tarrifs from hydropower projects being commissioned now will be higher than current tariffs. Time to retrospect hydro power policy and address local’s concerns and environmental issues involved genuinely. Best time to look beyond hydro and harness more solar energy instead.

Deforestation, Hydel Power, Climate Change causing Himalayas water resources dry up fast According to a study being conducted for the past over thirty years by scientists of the Wadia Himalaya Geology Institute various perennial streams in the Himalayas have now been reduced to small nullahs whose flows are confined to the rainy season alone, drying up after the rains have receded. Scientists believe that the climate change may be playing a major role in the reducing of the water levels and drying up of the water sources in the Himalayan region. Other factors that are also being held responsible for drying up of the waterfalls and reduced water in the water sources is the indiscriminate felling of trees, reduction of tree cover with forests being diverted for other purposes, landslides and land slips, hydel power projects that are coming up in large numbers in the Himalayan region and cracks in the mountains.

UTTARAKHAND Matu Jan Sanghtan Blog titled “Environmental violations” by World Bank and NTPC Hydro Power Projects  in Uttarakhand state.

Hydro power projects barred only in Ganga basin, MoEF free to clear hydel projects in Uttarakhand :SC In a major twist, the Supreme Court said that the environment ministry was free to approve hydropower projects in the state, except in Alaknanda-Bhagirathi river basins. The Court went on to clarify that its earlier order asking the ministry not to process clearances was only limited to 24 projects in the Ganga basins and did not extend to other projects. The decisions came on the insistence of the Uttarakhand government. The state consistently opposed efforts to allow a re-evaluation of the environmental viability of all hydropower projects on the grounds that its economy was being crippled.  Clearances granted to 24 hydropower projects in the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi river basins had been challenged in the wake of the massive devastation caused by floods in 2013.

ODISHA Odisha to spend over 800 crore on  Hirakud, Chipilima, Machhakun hydro projects renovation This was decided at a high level meeting presided by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the State Secretariat this week. After the meeting, Energy secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra informed that two units of Hirakud, one unit of Chipilima and six units of Balimela hydro-power projects would be renovated. According official a target has been set to generate 11 MW of additional hydro power from Hirakud with the renovation of its two units at an expenditure of Rs 158 crore and the renovation work of these two units would be completed in 30 months. Similarly, Rs 65.76 crore would be spent for renovation of one unit of Chipilima project while Rs 664 crore has been earmarked for renovation of six hydro power units at Balimela.

DAM

Sardar Sarovar Dam gates can’t be closed till last person displaced is rehabilitated: SC. Supreme Court, in recent judgement also has directed the Madhya Pradesh government to give land and financial compensation not only to the eldest son but all sons adult or minor of farmer families likely to be displaced by the increase in the dam’s height. The apex court has categorically stated that sluice gates of the raised dam cannot be closed till the last person displaced has been rehabilitated. The apex court made it clear that this includes the families that had been left out in the earlier assessment. The Narmada Bachao Andolan has already welcomed the order and is now gearing up for a fresh legal battle against the MP and Gujarat governments.

CIC tells centre to give Polavaram project info to RTI applicant  The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the environment ministry to provide all information regarding the Indira Sagar Polavaram Project, an interstate project on the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh, to RTI applicant D.S. Kumar who in October 2014 sought information from the ministry on forest clearance for the project including site visit reports. But his application was rejected in December 2014, forcing Kumar to move the CIC. It also criticized the ministry for functioning under British era forest laws that are against forest dwellers in India. Odisha, Telangana and Chhattisgarh have in past objected to the project, stating that it would result in the large-scale displacement of tribals and the inundation of many villages.

Scrap Renuka dam if Centre-HP row can’t be sorted out: SC Delhi should not force construction of dams to meet its unsustainable water demand unless it exhaust all the local options including compulsory rain water harvesting. The city should also manage all the water its getting effeciently and improve its distribution network. Water from the 148-metre high and 430-metre wide dam was to be discharged into the Yamuna river through its tributary, Giri, and then released at the Hathni Kund barrage from where it would pass into the Munak channel and finally reach the Capital. Construction of the dam was initially stalled after Haryana and Rajasthan refused to sign the agreement in 1994. According to the pact inked in November 1994, Delhi would get all the water from the Renuka dam till the Kishau dam and Lakhawar-Vyasi dam projects became operational.

Pinjal-Gargai dam project in Mumbai faces protests The Pinjal-Gargai dam project in Palghar district, Mumbai will be further delayed due to protests by local villagers. The issue, along with project budget provision, will be discussed in the BMC standing committee forthcoming meeting. The Pinjal-Gargai dam work will be done by BMC, for which it will have to displace 17 villages. It’s land acquisition proposal is pending with the Palghar district collector since last year.

State orders release of Godavari water to drought-hit Marathwada In a move that will come to the aid of the drought-affected Marathwada region, the Godavari Marathwada Irrigation Development Corporation on 17 Oct. issued orders to release 12.85 Thousand Million Cubic feet of water from upstream dams in north Maharashtra to the dry Jayakwadi dam here. Jayakwadi, one of the biggest dams in Marathwada, has a storage of only 6 %, while the total storage of all dams in this region stands at around 15 %. The reservoir storage in four of the big dams – Majalgaon, Manjara, Lower Terna, Sina-Kolegaon – here is nil. The excess water will be released from Mula, Pravara, Gangapur and Darna dams in Ahmednagar and Nashik. This is the first time that so much water will be released to Jayakwadi. However, the decision is likely to lead to friction between the two regions with politicians based in Ahmednagar, Nashik districts up in arms against this move.

HC Bombay directs inquiry into release of Gangapur dam water for Shahi Snan at Kumbh Mela Questioning the legality of the decision, a division bench of justices Abhay Oka and VL Achaliya said the decision taken by authorities to release one TMC water from the dam for shahi snan went against a policy of the government, which categorises its priority list with respect to supply of water. The government has to submit a report on December 22. According to the policy, priority has to be given to release water for drinking over other purposes, and supply of water for shahi snan comes in the last category.

Bhama Askhed dam project: Agitation turns violent as Sena workers resort to The agitation by farmers affected by Bhama Askhed dam project took a violent turn as Shiv Sena workers resorted to vandalism and stone-pelting at the project site. As per the initial reports, glasses of at least five earthmovers were broken. The labourers and supervising staff of the contractor were also allegedly beaten up by the protesters. Since the work on the project has started, the affected farmers have been demanding fair compensation and rehabilitation. Even as the cases of farmers are yet to be settled, there is a growing demand that the dam water also be supplied to areas like Alandi, Rase and Chakan and not just Pune city, as proposed.

Amid heated arguments Nashik Municipal Corporation approved additional Rs 36 cr for Makane dam plan Members of the house said the delay in the project had resulted in loss of crores of rupees; but taking into account the future water supply provision in the city, the project was essential. Considering the future water demand of the city, the NMC had proposed the water supply project from Mukane dam for Rs 230 crore. But in the recent valuation of the project by the civic body, the cost increased by Rs 36 crore.

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country as on October 15, 2015 was 93.951 BCM, which is 59% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This was 78% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 76% of storage of average of last ten years.

Reservoir Status (For the week ending on 08.10.2015)

Reservoir Status 08 Oct 2015

 RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS

Godavari to be declared national waterway The Centre has agreed to include the stretch of the river Godavari from Nasik in Maharashtra to Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh in the revised National Waterways Bill, 2015, as per Minister for Roads and Buildings Tummala Nageswara Rao.

DROUGHT

States delay notifying drought even as farm distress peaks Even though the monsoon ended with a 14% rainfall deficit, with nearly half the country’s districts facing a shortage of over 20%, states are delaying declaring a drought that could provide immediate relief to farmers by compensating for crop damage and restructuring farm loans. The June-September monsoon, which irrigates over half the country’s farm land without access to irrigation, was deficient or scanty in 49% of the districts, data from the India Metereological Department shows. The rain-deficit districts are concentrated in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat, eastern Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. However except for Karnataka none of the other rain-deficit states has declared a drought so far.

MAHARASHTRA DROUGHT Maharashtra declares drought-like condition The report mentions that Marathwada is most affected, yet State Govt. has not taken any regulatory steps against water guzzling sugar mills operationalised in the region which are going to start production soon. This is the state of affairs acorss Maharashtra amid overexpoilted watersheds and many dams with dead storage level. SANDRP in its recent blog titled Water and Sugarcane Crushing in Maharashtra: In search of sustainability  has explored the issue in detail offering some workables to cope well with a looming crisis.

Number of farmer suicides in Marathwada crosses 800 mark, govt. to start “zero suicide” plan  With the number of farmer suicides in Marathwada crossing 800-mark in 10 months of this year, the Maharashtra government has picked Osmanabad, one of the worst-affected districts, for its “zero suicide” plan. To achieve the objective, the government has launched a slew of measures in Osmanabad which would be replicated subsequently in other seven affected districts of Marathwada. Osmanabad is one of the three worst-affected districts of Marathwada region. The other two are Beed and Nanded. By the end of last month, all three districts saw over 100 suicides, with Beed crossing the 150-mark.

Also see, Why Maharashtra is under stress While there may be issues with IMD’s forecasting and even rainfall monitoring, the point made below by Ashok Gulati, Former Chair of CACP is significant.

AGRICULTURE

Why pulses are on fire: India’s food math explained India has failed to solve the pulses puzzle for many years now. Production of pulses slipped down by 12% in 2014-15 compared to the previous year. As a result, prices of this essential item have zoomed up by more than 100% across the country. India consumes around 23 MMT of pulses and is the largest producer and consumer of pulses in the world. But India’s production of pulses has stagnated at around 18-19 MMT for several years now. The shortfall between production and consumption is made up by imports. This balance has been maintained at a huge cost to the people. Also see Centre may end stock limit exemption for dal exporters as a desperate move to deal with shortage and spiralling pulses prices.

Cash crops cost Telangana, Andhra Pradesh farmers’ dearly 22 farmers have committed suicide in the past three weeks in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh and since its birth as a new state, Telangana has recorded 1,269 suicides. GV Ramanjeyulu, executive director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture estimates the loss this year incurred by a farmer due to drought at Rs 40,000-60,000.  Experts are convinced the two states are facing prolonged farm distress. Suicide by farmers unable to handle crop loss and mounting debt in the dry parts of the two states is common during the kharif season. According report marginal and dry areas do not provide the environment for growing cotton and sugarcane like cash crops and lack of access to institutional credit and low crop insurance add to farmers’ woes.

Boom and bust: Corn’s rollercoaster ride in tribal country The story of Nabarangpur’s emergence, and now decline, as a major maize producing hub. Maize represents the classic case of a commercial crop that even farmers in India’s poorest and predominantly Adivasi district enthusiastically planted when prices rode on the back of a global commodity boom. As realisations virtually trebled between 2005 and 2012, Nabarangpur emerged as Odisha’s main producing centre. The district also became a market for multinational seed majors. In 2013  when acreage peaked at 63,882 hectares an estimated 1,300-1,400 tonnes of hybrid maize seeds worth about Rs 25 crore got sold in Nabarangpur, roughly 85 per cent of it by Monsanto and DuPont-Pioneer.

Why farmer suicides in Punjab is a climate story The whitefly incident describes best the story of all that is going wrong with the agro-ecology of a state that was once described as the food bowl of India. The incident this year, should also serve as a wake-up call to the state and its policymakers to the realities of climate change which, mixed with bad ecological policies, can wreak havoc on a state’s economy. Of course, no one incident can be linked to climate change, but science does tell us that longer summers, shorter winters and freak weather conditions will be the symptoms of human-induced climate change. Combined with the heavy use of genetically modified crops that are not immune to pests such as the whitefly, it is but obvious that Punjab’s cotton farmers are now facing a crisis.

Also see, Punjab: When global slump took away the premium tag of basmati Farmers are unanimous that Punjab hasn’t seen such bad days, with one or the other crop failing in consecutive seasons  and now basmati selling even below parmal

IRRIGATION

Two more irrigation projects now under ACB scanner The state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) at Nagpur has included two more works to its probe into the Gosikhurd dam project and alleged irregularities in the irrigation sector. The projects are Right Bank Canal and Ghodazari branch canal, both in Bhandara district, where works were carried out by Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC). The two projects were included in the probe over a week ago. The plan is to increase the scope gradually. ACB began its investigation with Mokhabardi lift irrigation project and Left Bank Canal of Gosikhurd, involving M/s DT Thakkar Construction and M/s Bhangadia and Co. At Ghodazari, SMS Group has formed a joint venture with D Thakkar Constructions. The three projects in Vidarbha selected for the first phase probe were Gosikhurd, Jigaon and Lower Painganga dams. The main allegation was that costs of 38 works were escalated at one go from July to August 2009, by the then water resources minister Ajit Pawar using his powers as VIDC chief. Pawar also held the post of VIDC chairman as water minister. 

गुजरात के बनासकांठा जिले के तीन गांव नागला, खानपुर एवं डोडगाम ढाई महीने से पानी में डूबे  जुलाई के अंत में यहां दो दिन में 29 इंच बारिश हुई थी। तब से तीनों गावों में 28 वर्गकिमी के दायरे में आठ से दस फुट पानी भरा है। सिंचाई विभाग के मुताबिक थराद तहसील के नागला, खानपुर एवं डोडगाम वाले इस क्षेत्र की भौगोलिक रचना प्याली जैसी है। तीनों गांवों के एक किनारे से नहर तो दूसरी ओर से उप-नहर बहती है। ऐसे में लगातार हुई तेज बारिश ने सात किमी लंबे और चार किमी चौड़े इस इलाके को छोटी झील में बदल दिया। भू-वैज्ञानिकों के मुताबिक जमीन के निचले हिस्से में पत्थर होने के कारण पानी नीचे भी नहीं उतर रहा। 

WATER

Bengaluru city staring at water crisis: report  In 15 years, just half of the city’s thirst may be slaked. This grim picture comes from a report by Bangalore Political Action Committee, which says that the current system is incapable MLD. In perspective, the current water supply to the city from the Cauvery is just around 1,400 MLD. This deficit is estimated to increase to 2,311 MLD in 15 years. Among the solutions suggested is to reduce losses in transmission in the pipes. BWSSB officials said the Unaccounted Flow of Water project, scheduled to be completed by 2017, will cut losses from a staggering 48 per cent (this is equivalent to water from nearly 90,000 water tankers being dumped) to 16 per cent. Apart from this, the report emphasises recycling water through treatment plants, rainwater harvesting and rejuvenating the city’s lakes, which can add up to 500 MLD directly into the system.

Bengaluru losing out on 10 million litres of water daily to leakages for the past one month 10 million litres of water have been going waste daily for the past one month. This is due to a problematic valve in a transmission pipeline leaking water. The pipeline supplies drinking water to the city from the Cauvery. The pipeline from Thoraikadanahalli to Harohalli pumping stations, which has a diameter of 2.7 metres, forms part of the Cauvery Water Supply I Phase project, commissioned in 1974. The air valve, which has suffered the damage, is located near Gundapur village, which is 80km from Bengaluru. The valve is located inside a fully closed 20×30 valve house.

Water Shortage Forces Hospitals in Chennai to Postpone Surgeries For the past few months, city hospitals have been reeling under a disruption in water supply through pipelines. Hospitals like Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children, Chepauk and Royapettah Government Hospitals are spending thousands of rupees each month to buy metro water, even for basic hospital needs. A staff at the hospital, who did not want to be named, said there had been days, when there was no water supply continuously for two to three days.

Also see, Railway Officials Allowed Sale of Fake Bottled Water on Trains: CBI

GROUND WATER

CGWA suggests one basement Interestingly the area mentioned in the report Noida and Greater Noida are entirely sitting over Ganga-Yamuna “Doab” belt or say in inactive floodpalin of Yamuna and Hindon. Many real estate projects along Yamuna Expressway have even come up on active floodplain of River Yamuna. Recently Okhala Colony in South East Delhi on Yamuna floodplain and a hospital building in Kalka Ji ridge area in Delhi are suffering from basement flooding. However many developing projects are proposing still 3 basements and several development projects including underground Metro lanes have been built in Delhi, which have severely affected the groundwater hydrology.  One worrying fact of the issue is that during de-watering of flooded basements the huge amount of accumulated water is simply discharged into drains.

WATER OPTIONS

Man Harvests Water for 10,000 People in Driest Part of India  When groundwater started disappearing in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Bhagwati Agrawal invented a way to tap a “river in the sky.” For most of the year, Rajasthan is so dry, people use sand to clean their dishes. But during monsoon season, there is plenty of rain — enough water to last villages for an entire year if they could capture enough of it. Agrawal invented a way to do that, a water collection system called Aakash Ganga – Hindi for “River from the Sky” – which now supplies 10,000 people with year-round clean, healthy drinking water. A public-private partnership rents rooftops and sets up collection networks of pipes and underground storage tanks. Part of the rain captured by his system goes to the homeowner, the rest through a series of pipes to community reservoirs.

RIVERS

Those polluting Pampa river to face penal consequences: HC Kerala Ahead of the commencement of Sabarimala pilgrim season next month a division bench, comprising Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Anu Sivaraman, said as per provisions of Water(Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, those who pollute river and water bodies are punishable for a prison term of up to six years with fine. The bench also directed the Kerala State Pollution Control Board to ensure that the holy river is not polluted. Taking serious note of the fact that tonnes of clothes clog the river after each pilgrimage season, the court observed that actually no such practiser prevails.  The court said those polluting the river can be punished. This year’s pilgrim season begins on November 17.

In non-metro cities, 60% houses empty waste into open drains Over 60% of houses in mid-size cities such as Moradabad, Gorakhpur, Kolhapur, Bilaspur and Kharagpur with less than one million population discharge waste water to the open drains, indicating how the government has a mammoth task in achieving complete sanitation even in urban areas. Nearly one-fourth of 416 such non-metropolitan cities have less than 20% households that have waste water outlets connected to the closed drainage system. The report was released last week and has been prepared based on the Census 2011 data.

Also see, T.V. Ramachandra IISc. Professor criticises Yettinahole project  Very good to see academics grappling with the real life issues like the Yettinahole project.

NARMADA MP’s State fish Mahaseer on the verge of extinction courtesy dams on Narmada Popularly known as tiger of water, Mahseer, which constituted more than 50% of the catch in Narmada till a decade ago, has now reduced to less than 4%. Construction of multiple dams on Narmada leading to impoundment of water is considered as one of the major reasons for drastic decline in number of this fish. Indeed, Dams on Narmada are destroying the habitat of Mahaseer fish, in addition to other destruction

GANGA Centre, States continue to bicker over cleaning Ganga Disappointed to see inefficient coordination among States and Centre govt. agencies and boards,NGT directed all the learned counsel for the Centre, states and the agencies concerned to lead their part completely and comprehensively, which NGT found wanting at present. The tribunal also called an in-chamber meeting of the Secretary MoEF, Ministry of Water Resources, Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, one representative of the Industries and Principal Secretary (Environment) of both states on October 19.

India’s first dolphin community reserve to come up in Bengal To protect the endangered Gangetic river dolphins, West Bengal will soon have the country’s first community reserve for the mammal. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the State Wildlife Board recently. The number of dolphin is estimated to be less than 2,000 in the country. Often known as the ‘Tiger of the Ganges’, the river dolphin is an indicator animal, which has the same position in a river ecosystem as a tiger in a forest. . Direct killing, habitat fragmentation due to construction of dams and barrages, indiscriminate fishing and pollution of rivers are some of the major threats affecting the species.

Three ‘Ganga Sarovars’ ready for immersion The Varanasi district administration has created three ponds as an alternative arrangement for immersing Durga idols in compliance with the Allahabad High Court order banning immersion in the Ganga. Idols of Goddess Durga, installed at various pandals during the ongoing Navratri, would be immersed in these ponds that have been named as ‘Ganga Sarovar’ to cater to the religious belief of people and puja organizers.

Also see Centre issues notice to Bijnor civic bodies over polluting Ganga In recent time UP state pollution control board has also sent notices to 26 panchayats in Bijnor and Amroha, warning them against throwing toxic waste into the river. Both Bijnor and Amroha are part of Central government’s Namami Gange project that aims at cleaning the river. In the wake of industrial units polluting the river, a central government monitoring team is carrying out tests of river water samples on a weekly basis and sending reports to the ministry

YAMUNA Activist Moves NGT Against Encroachment on Yamuna Floodplains Concerned over the increasing encroachment on the Yamuna floodplains here, an environment activist moved the NGT against the operation of concrete plant by an engineering and construction company here. The activist has alleged that the firm has violated the green panel’s order which had prohibited any kind of construction activity on the flood plains on the river. The plea filed by Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan has sought a stay and imposition of fine on the ongoing constructions on the floodplains that has taken place on the river bed in violation of the tribunal’s January 13 judgment.

Land sharks wipe out 15 hectares of ecologically critical Yamuna floodplains Civil society grouping Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan also wrote to the Lieutenant Governor, the chief minister and the DDA and handed over ‘irrefutable pictorial evidence’, seeking action against the encroachers. The destruction has happened in the Yamuna’s southern zone, a 4-km stretch from Okhla Barrage till Jaitpur village, dangerously reducing the width of a river that meets Delhi’s 70 per cent drinking water needs. Water expert Himanshu Thakkar finds the amount of encroachment disturbing and stated that this confirms that the three state governments, and central government agencies are not bothered about the river or the NGT’s order. 

Yamuna Signature Bridge: authorities miss green deadline The Delhi government, which built 85 per cent of the Signature Bridge across the Yamuna without the requisite environment clearance, has now missed a green court deadline to obtain at least a post-facto permission. Meanwhile, a hurried move to obtain the nod even now seems set to threaten the river system. Experts fear that the EIA, yet to be done would on the current ToR be most likely a run-of-the-mill document and would not rise to the expectations of the NGT or do justice to the river it is trying to protect. Water expert Himanshu Thakkar said that while the project is more or less a fait accompli and the EIA is now more a post facto exercise, it is a good opportunity to see how a project actually impacts the environment.

HC reserves order on millennium bus depot The Delhi High Court reserved its order on an application of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) seeking to retain the millennium bus depot on the Yamuna riverside. The plea has sought six months’ time to approach the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for getting the land use of the depot site changed in order to prevent its shifting. The High Court had in 2012 directed the DTC to relocate the depot or get the Master Plan Delhi 2021 amended to continue the operations of the millennium bus depot, which was constructed during the 2010 Commonwealth Games on the banks of the Yamuna.

Delhi government plans Yamuna River and Flood Plain Development bill to save Yamuna The proposed bill is likely to be named the Yamuna River and Flood Plain Development Bill, a government. The purpose of the bill is to set up one single authority, and it could be named the Yamuna Development Corporation Ltd. A note pertaining to the legislation says the bill will “make special provision for securing, cleaning, rejuvenation, conservation and floodplain and development of the river”. At present, multiple agencies are engaged in maintaining the river. Since setting up a separate authority will have financial implications, the proposed bill has to be ratified by the central government once it is passed in the Delhi assembly.

After Mathura, now Agra demands a blue Yamuna back The only concerning point is that they are also demanding construction of barrage in Agra. Hundreds of river activists and environmentalists organized a walk demanding release of water in Yamuna and speed up cleaning programmes to save the river from further degradation. Later in a resolution, participating citizens demanded a minimal flow of water round the year, cleaning and repair of ghats, constitution of river police to patrol the banks, action against polluters and tapping of the drains opening into the river.

Also see, Green Panel Issues Warrants Against 7 Agra Colonies for Polluting Yamuna

FLOODS

HIMACHAL PRADESH Rain washed away bus stand built on flood-prone area: Dharampur probe The report mentions that the selection of the site was nothing short of “void ab-initio” which means that right from the beginning everything was wrong with the proposal. It was built on the land marked as “Gair Mumkin Khud” in revenue records. The report also mentions the fact that the site had been flooded earlier. Sources said the report had pointed out some glaring lapses such as finalising the site despite the report of the Executive Engineer, indicating that it was a flood-prone area. Despite this, the government went ahead with the construction. Following the report, the government is likely to fix the responsibility for the destruction.

WETLANDS

आनासागर झील को सुधारने के लिए क्या किया, क्या करेंगे: जयपुर हाईकोर्ट कार्यवाहक मुख्य न्यायाधीश अजीत सिंह न्यायाधीश एएस ग्रेवाल की खंडपीठ ने यह अंतरिम आदेश कॉमन कॉज सोसायटी की जनहित याचिका पर दिया। याचिका में कहा कि अजमेर में दो एसटीपी प्लांट शुरु करने हर घर को एसटीपी प्लांट से जोड़ा जाए। लेकिन सरकार ने आनासागर तक लाइनें तो खोद दी लेकिन एसटीपी प्लांट नहीं बनाया। इस कारण से शहर के सीवरेज का गंदा पानी आनासागर में ही मिल रहा है जिससे वह प्रदूषित हो रहा है। याचिका में कहा कि सीवरेज को एसटीपी प्लांट में जोड़ने के प्रोजेक्ट के लिए 180 करोड़ रुपए का बजट स्वीकृत हुआ था। बजट के रुपए तो खर्च हो गए लेकिन काम नहीं हुआ।

एनजीटी का भोज वेटलैंड के कैचमेंट में मैरिज गार्डन के संचालन पर लगी रोक हटाने से इंकार बड़े तालाब के किनारे स्थित मैरिज गार्डन्स द्वारा किए जा रहे पर्यावरण के उल्लंघन को लेकर डॉ. अलंकृता मेहरा द्वारा नेशनल ग्रीन ट्रिब्यूनल में दायर याचिका पर  हुई सुनवाई के दौरान मामला वेटलैंड के कैचमेंट एरिया में गतिविधियों के संचालन को लेकर उलझ गया है। सुनवाई के दौरान राज्य शासन की ओर से बेंच को बताया गया कि भोज वेटलैंड का दायरा 32 वर्ग किमी है। वहीं, भारत सरकार के पर्यावरण एवं वन मंत्रालय की ओर से बड़े तालाब का कैचमेंट 361 वर्ग किमी होना बताया गया। पर्यावरण नियम के अनुसार वेटलैंड के कैचमेंट में किसी भी प्रकार की गतिविधियों का संचालन नहीं किया जा सकता है। एनजीटी ने शासन से वेटलैंड के संबंध में पूरी रिपोर्ट अगली सुनवाई में पेश करने के निर्देश दिए हैं।  मामले की अगली सुनवाई आगामी 7 दिसंबर को होगी।

SAND MINING

NGT lifts stay on sand mining in Madhya Pradesh Previously, on July 20, NGT central zonal bench, Bhopal imposed a stay on river-bed sand mining in the state till October 31. However, NGT has not lifted stay on 61 mining leases where state environment impact assessment authority had already imposed prohibition on mining of sand during monsoon period of July 1 to October 31, as a condition of their environmental clearance. NGT also asked ministry of environment and forest to come up with a comprehensive policy on sand mining in rivers of Central and North India within a month’s time. 

Illegal mining in Tawi causing heavy revenue losses to J & K state Illegal mining of stone and gravel is taking place in the Tawi right under the nose of the government and the Flood Control Department is not taking any step to stop it. It is causing a loss of crores of rupees to the state exchequer, but the Flood Control Department is not bothered about it. According  Flood Control Department a group of influential people of Jammu was behind the illegal mining.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Future is Renewables Soumya Dutta is the Convener of the Climate and Energy Group in the Beyond Copenhagen collective in India, a network of 40 plus environmental organizations. He sat down with Bharat Lal Seth to talk about India’s electricity growth trajectory, the future of renewables and the global climate change impasse. This interview throws useful light on state of electricity sector in India.

India plans to provide solar power at new low of Rs 4.75 per unit to states The plan to reduce tariffs comes in the backdrop of SEBs increasingly showing reluctance to buy power on account of poor financial health This is new low in Solar Power Tariff.  With the developers expected to quote bids in the region of Rs.3.50 per unit, NTPC will sell the power to the states at Rs.4.75 per unit reported an official. Notably in India, which is the biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the US and China, renewable energy currently accounts for only 13%, or 36,471 MW of India’s total installed power capacity of 2,75,912MW.

Also see, LED push brightening homes and cutting electricity bills  

SOUTH ASIA

Living with Floods in Nepal’s Karnali River Basin Climate change is expected to express itself in South Asia in numerous ways, including through an increasingly unpredictable and more intense monsoon. Already, floods triggered by relentless rainfall, associated landslides, and the failure of man-made dams, account for a greater proportion of deaths and damages than any other natural disaster in the Himalaya. This amazing Photo essay by Sierra Gladfelter of Colorado Univ about how a flood affected community along the Karnali river in Nepal just upstream from Indian Border provides many insights, and interesting lessons.

102 MW Gulpur HEP on Poonch river in PoK inaugurated, more are in pipeline Pak PM The hydropower plant project is expected to be completed in four years at a cost of US $320 million.  The project involves construction and operation of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power generation facility on Poonch River, some 28km upstream from Mangla, the country’s second largest water storage reservoir. Showing determination to exploit remaining 500 MW capacity of Poonch river, Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif, on the occasion invited foreign investors to invest in the mega projects of Diamer, Basha and Dasu He also said that the 969MW Neelum Jhelum project is nearing completion and the government is interested in privatising it after its commissioning.

CHINA

Brahmaputra water diversion: India must go with the flow on this China’s recent operationalisation of the Zangmu hydropower station on the Yarlung Tsangpo (the Tibet part of the Brahmaputra), the largest such station in Tibet, is an occasion to reconsider the ‘water problem’ in India-China relations. Unsurprisingly, mainstream Indian reactions have been kneejerk and paranoid. The downstream impact of this must be balanced against the fact that most of the water that contributes to the volume of the Brahmaputra beginning in Assam comes from rainfall and tributary flows on the Indian side in Arunachal Pradesh. The more important issue in India is the lack of management of river water resources. A very interesting, rare, balanced piece on this issue, different from the erroneous, kneejerk and paranoid media reports so far. Also read Sign water sharing pact to avoid water wars with China

Talk to China on Brahmaputra This sounds good, a key party missing is Indians affected by India’s projects. They also need to be taken into confidence: “India is right in asking China to be more consultative and transparent in its plans for the Yarlung Zangbo. However, this hasn’t been an approach that India adopts vis-à-vis Dhaka on dam building across transboundary rivers running into Bangladesh. India plans to build hundreds of small hydel projects on the Brahmaputra in the North East, which are triggering anxiety in Bangladesh. India can set an example by consulting Bangladesh and keeping Dhaka in the loop on its plans for dams. Having won Bangladesh’s confidence, India could initiate tripartite talks involving China as well on the sharing of the waters of the Brahmaputra. A treaty on sharing the Brahmaputra’s waters is urgently needed.” 

China’s 9700 Crore Dam on Brahmaputra in Tibet is Now Working While the Zangmu HEP on Yarlung Tsangpo river will certainly have certain downstream impacts, the government of India should initiate an assessment of such impacts and make it public on regular basis based on available information and further studies, but there should be no unnecessary fear mongering or pushing projects in Arunachal Pradesh showing China bogey. This report talking about impact on lower Subansiri, for example, is clearly fictional.

How social can Chinese hydropower dams be? Chinese built and financed dams, and the controversy that comes with them. According to the 2011 policy, the dam projects should not ‘occur in a national park, habitat of threatened species or protected wetlands, which are no-go zones for project development’. Several dams built by Sinohydro in recent years have been built in national parks, such as the Bui Dam in Bui National Park in Ghana, home to the rare black hippopotamus, and the Kamchay Dam in Bokor National Park in Cambodia, while the Bakun Dam in Borneo, East Malaysia, is located in the habitat of threatened species such as the orang-utan as well as on customary land of indigenous people.

The Chinese are obsessed with building giant dams China’s Three Gorges Dam is one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken. More dams are planned on many of China’s rivers – including, controversially, the Nu, which runs through a Unesco World Heritage site in Yunnan before passing into Myanmar and Thailand. Competence in water management is viewed as a very big deal in China. On the other hand, China’s waterways are in a fragile, parlous state, as pollution, damming, overuse, land reclamation and climate change combine to devastating effect.

REST OF THE ASIA

Locals reject consultation on Burma’s divisive Tasang Dam project SMEC, the Australian company carrying out the environmental and social impact assessment (EIA/SIA) for Shan State’s Tasang Dam will be unable to produce a meaningful EIA/SIA because it has allowed relations with locals to deteriorate irreversibly. The planned 282 meter high Tasang Dam in Mong Ton Township on the Upper Salween River will not only be the largest of seven dams planned for the Salween River in Burma (also known as Myanmar), it will also be the highest dam in Southeast Asia. With a 262 square miles (678 km²) floodplain that will run almost two-thirds the length of Shan State the project will have a massive impact on the environment and the people who live there. Very interesting an indepth report on South East Asia’s highest proposed dam in Myanmar, and how SMEC indulged in malpractices in EIA process and how people saw through it rejected the EIA.

REST OF THE WORLD

Egypt faces another dam challenge Controversy prevailed in the Egyptian public opinion, after Deltares, a Dutch advisory institute, announced on Sept. 15 its withdrawal from a study to assess the risks that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is under construction on the Blue Nile, can cause to Egypt and Sudan. The withdrawal from the project by Deltares has been met by a wave of objections in Egypt for fear that this could further obstruct the completion of the study, which was supposed to be completed last March at the time, the research hadn’t even started yet.

Critics of Snake River dams say it’s time to tear them down The decades-old idea of breaching four giant dams that interfere with endangered salmon runs has gained new momentum. A coalition of environmentalists, Indian tribes and outdoor enthusiasts wants Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor dams breached. In January, a petition containing more than 70,000 signatures asking to remove the dams was delivered to the Obama administration. Opponents contend that the shipping traffic made possible by the dams is in sharp decline and that the hydropower produced by the dams can be replaced with alternative energy resources.

Govt. pushing hard, greens protesting harder hydro power projects in Georgia The Georgian government is enthusiastically pursuing hydroelectricity as a way of becoming self-sufficient in energy. However, environmentalists say the various dam projects under way will do severe damage to the ecosystem and are urging the authorities to look for alternatives. A total of 66 hydropower stations are currently in operation in Georgia, although most are small in scale. Fifteen others are either at the planning stage or under construction. Objections from locals and environmentalists have so far stalled a third major project in Svaneti.

Healthy Soils Reduce Water Pollution A soil scientist with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and a cattle rancher, Scott uses the contraption, hauled like a magician’s prop out of a trailer and onto the asphalt lot, to demonstrate how biologically diverse, untilled soils that are rich in organic matter can help solve agriculture’s twin challenges of water pollution and water scarcity. Protecting soil is a win-win investment, Scott professes. Society gets cleaner air, more water, purer rivers, and farmers spend less money on fertilizers, fuel, and maintaining equipment.

The Feds Just Got Sued for Letting Nestlé Bottle Water in California’s Drought Country A group of environmental organizations sued the US Forest Service, claiming that it allowed Nestlé to illegally divert millions of gallons of water from California’s San Bernadino National Forest to use for Arrowhead brand bottled water while the state struggles through a historic drought. Nestlé has had rights to bottle water from the forest’s Strawberry Creek for decades, but a Desert Sun investigation in March of this year found that the company’s permit to use a four-mile pipeline that transports the water to the bottling plant expired in 1988. 

A Megacity without Water: São Paulo’s Drought Millions of residents in São Paulo, Brazil face daily water shutoffs unless the city manages its water better. It is not only a problem of drought. The city of 20 million is plagued by failing infrastructure across the city, and it has been unable to deliver the water it does have to residents in need. Without major changes to the city’s infrastructure and planning the crisis is bound to continue. The biggest city in the Western hemisphere is facing its greatest water crisis in over 80 years and climate change is only part of the problem.

How Britain’s water companies managed to pocket £ 800 m of possible price cuts According to the National Audit Office, Britain suppliers saved £840m more than expected in financing costs due to rock bottom interest rates after the banking crisis. The drop in corporation tax from 28% to 21% also meant they had to pay out £410m less than Ofwat expected. Yet the NAO found water companies had passed on just £435m worth of savings to their customers. The water industry has delivered rich rewards for investors since it was privatised by Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1989. Since then prices have rocketed 40% – with the average water and sewerage bill now £396 a year.

Colorado River needs closer scrutiny and faces greater danger than federal government realizes, say a coalition of scholars across the West. They are urging the federal government to partner with the National Academy of Sciences to study the future of the Colorado River, including if climate change is leading to reduced stream flow.

In dry land African regions, limiting wildlife water access can reduce water quality Water-dependent wildlife populations in sensitive African dry land regions need continued access to limited surface water resources because restricting access and concentrating wildlife populations along riparian regions can impact water quality and, potentially, human health, according to Virginia Tech research published this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

Grand Canyon Waters, at the Abyss The struggle to save the Grand Canyon in Arizona is still going on. An abandoned uranium mine on the canyon’s South Rim has cost taxpayers more than $15 million to remove toxic wastes from the surface. And contaminated water — flowing underground through the mine’s radioactive ore — continues to poison a spring-fed creek deep within the canyon. It is a permanent loss at an unconscionable cost that should never be borne again.

Also see, The mighty Mississippi gets barely passing grade for cleanliness and infrastructure

CLIMATE CHANGE

SANDRP critique of India’s NAPCC: There is little hope here The purpose of this study is to provide an Indian civil society view on the contents of the Indian government’s national action plan to confront the threat posed by climate change. The study aims to highlight the equity issues, the options assessment for energy production and the needs for sustainable adaptation practices. The study also aims to give an overview of the available information resources about the impact of climate change on India and tries to map out various actors & their roles.

Water Sector Options for India in a Changing Climate – Executive Summary of SANDRP publication in March 2012 This report tries to capture the relevant issues for Indian Water Sector in the context of changing climate. The report briefly reviews international situation in the context of the four pillars of climate change response that are used in international climate change framework: Adaptation, Mitigation, Technology and Economic/financial issues. It takes a look at the official programmes and projects of governments in water sector.

A Flawed Climate Road Map Welcome comment on India’s INDC submitted to UNFCCC on Oct 2 by Nagraj Adve and Ashish Kothari. India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution on 1 October. The policy document on climate change has received laurels from diverse quarters. INDC justifies the projected rise in India’s emissions by emphasising the country’s development imperatives. This obscures the fact that the well-off will stamp their ecological footprint and the country will justify the rise in its emissions by hiding behind the poor.

Curbing Consumption is the Only Way Out to Avoid Climate Change Finding new ways to continue with the same model of growth and consumption will put enormous pressure on finite resources. The international community on climate change is strongly pushing the agenda of deep de-carbonization for the global economy in order to meet the challenge of restricting temperature increase to 2 degree Celsius. Good go see this coming from TERI.

Forced labour under a changing climate: droughts and debt in semi-arid India Climatic change compounds the vulnerabilities and dependencies existing between households in semi-arid South Asia. To avoid more coerced labour, public policy must address the root causes of such vulnerability. This is bit old (Feb 2015) but shows how the vulnerabilities of farmers in Deccan platue states gets worsened by climate change.

Is Modi’s pitch for ‘climate justice’ more than rhetoric? The chances of putting climate justice at the heart of the Paris climate change agreement are looking remote. The phrase is not new-it’s been part of the vocabulary and demand of many civil society groups and environmentalists for several years, especially from Southern countries – but India raking it up at this juncture, five negotiating days before the Paris talks, has made observers and other countries wonder if India intends to really push for climate justice under the Paris agreement or is it a rhetorical tool to seek at least a fair global deal?

Also see Climate change could triple Amazon drought, study finds

ENVIRONMENT

Reviving dejected and drying springs of Himalaya’s Nawraj Pradhan from ICIMOD explains how they are looking at the challenge of drying springs in the Kailash landscape from different angles — ecological, cultural and physiographic. Springs play an important role in the daily lives of thousands of communities in the hills and mountains of the Himalayas. However, in many places once reliable springs are drying up, presenting rural communities, and women in particular, with new challenges. In the Himalayan region, natural springs and their sustainable development are not given due importance at both policy and practical levels, even though they play a critical role in water security.

Green India Mission plans approved for four states National Mission for a Green India (GIM) under the environment ministry has approved annual plans for Kerala, Mizoram, Manipur and Jhakhand. GIM, one of eight Missions outlined under the National Action Plan on Climate Change acknowledges the influence forests have on environmental amelioration through climate change mitigation, food security, water security, biodiversity conservation and livelihood security of forest-dependent communities. Its National Executive Council which met on October 9 approved the Perspective Plans (PP) and Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) for these states a total financial outlay of Rs 902 crore for a plan period of five to ten years years along with APOs of Rs 112 crore for this financial year.

Odisha wants Niyamgiri gram sabha polls again The mining plan was scrapped two years earlier, after all 12 gram sabhas held in and around Niyamgiri voted unanimously against the project.

Into the wild, a map every Indian must see Dr Rohan Chakravorty illustrates the country’s lush forests, wetlands and wildlife through beautiful caricatures. Rohan’s magnum opus, the hook on which this piece rests – the country’s wildlife map.

Also see Migratory birds keep away from NCR due to warm weather

One Comment on “Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin Oct 19, 2015 (Migratory birds keep away from NCR due to warm weather)

  1. खबरों के विविध संसार में एक जगह इतनी सारी जानकारियां जुटाना और देना, महत्वपूर्ण एक सचमुच कार्य है. जब भी बुलेटिन पढ़ता हूँ, तारीफ करने का मन होता है. जारी रखें.

    सादर आपका अरुण

    Like

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