Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin Nov 02, 2015 (Festival Fishing on occasion of Kati Bihu in Assam)

People of a village in Morigaon district of Assam fish in groups to celebrate ‘Kati Bihu’ on Sunday. The festival is closely related to agriculture, celebrated on the first day of the Kati month of the Assamese calendar. It is that time of the year when paddy grows in the fields and cultivators work hard for a good harvest.— Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar, The Hindu

HYDROPOWER 

HIMACHAL In a major blow to Himachal Hydro industry, 800 MW Kol Dam damaged just months after operation in a latest development that questions the safety and quality issues of hydro projects in Himachal, Kol Dam plunge pool got damaged. It has likely forced the closer of dam operation as official reported they have stopped release water in since first week of Sep. 15. Faulty design and poor quality of construction are stated to be reason behind the damage. Surprisingly last week few local media sources reported Kol dam producing more than set targets. Moreover officials have anticipated the damage.

Himachal Govt. issued norms for construction of tunnel in hydro and road projects In the wake of recurring tunnel collapsing incidents in the mountainous region, Himachal State Disaster Management Authority has issued advisory to the Public Works Department, State Electricity Board and other hydro and road project authorities, Deputy Commissioners. The advisory recommend to study geological, topographical and hydrological conditions well of the area before starting the excavation work. The advisory also read that the construction of all tunnels shall be done as per the standard, norms and practices of Himalayan geology which is young and fragile and if any geological changes are observed or encountered during construction, necessary innovative and remedial measures will be incorporated in the design. The guidelines will go a long way in ensuring safety as over two dozen tunnel projects are under execution or in the pipeline.

J&K Hydro more potential than tourism sector, invest in it : J&K Science Minister Sajad Gani Lone Minister for Science & Technology and Animal Husbandry during  inaugural function of Energy Bhawan stated that hydro-power sector has huge potential to raise the state’s economic status and if applied professionally it could easily supersede tourism sector. Terming micro-hydro-power projects as a good business, Lone said hydro projects are better business than the conventional ones and asked people to invest in it. He further added that J&K has the potential to fulfil the energy demand and supply gap.

DAM  

Green ministry set to clear Mondal dam Jharkhand inside core tiger reserve area The project will submerge 4253.68 hectares of Palamu tiger reserve’s core area and require a nod from the National Tiger Conservation Authority. It will also submerge around 17 villages in the upstream of dam. In September, environment minister Prakash Javadekar expressed concern about the pending project and assured that it would be expedited. The project was considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects at its meeting on 23-24 September. The environment panel of the ministry has sought a no-objection certificate from the governments of Bihar and Jharkhand on sharing of waters of the North Koel river for the project. Also see, I have cleared 40 dam proposals in a year, will get Mondal dam completed: Prakash Javadekar

HC Kerala asks wildlife board to look into govt. Kunnar dam plea A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court asked the National Board for Wildlife to look into the State government’s request for permission to use forest areas to increase the height of the Kunnar dam to provide sufficient water for Sabarimala pilgrims. Is this justified for HC to ask NBWL to take decision to increasing the height of the Kunnar dam by 2.5 for providing more water to Sabarimala pilgrims? Cannot the available wastewater be treated to provide additional water rather than go for this? Just wanted to know take of our Kerala friends on this.

Telangana, Maharashtra officials talk on Tummadi Hatti barrage remained inconclusive A team of officials from Maharashtra held talks with Telangana irrigation officials at Jala Soudha on deciding the height of the proposed barrage. While the Telangana officials, who included state government’s irrigation adviser R Vidyasagar Rao and engineer-in-chief Muralidhar, wanted the Maharashtra officials to permit Telangana to construct the barrage to a height of 152 metres, Maharashtra officials objected to it. Maharashtra chief engineer Rasik M Chowhan and superintending engineer Bagade said they would agree to the maximum height of 148 metres. Both states decided to have couple of more meetings to hammer out a solution believing that only a political decision was required for breaking the deadlock.

Will go ahead with Mekedatu dam, Ganga Cauvery link is must: Ex-CM Karnataka Former Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy recently said that his State would go ahead with the construction of a dam across Cauvery at Mekedatu to address the drinking water needs of seven districts around the area. He added that the dam would be built without causing any harm to Tamil Nadu as Karanataka has released Cauvery water to. Supporting the Ganga-Cauvery River link project he said that it was 100 per cent necessary and the implementation of the project would greatly solve the water problem between the two States.

MLAs oppose release of water from district dams to Ujani dam The order issued by the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority’s on October 26 states that 10 TMC water should be released from Bhama Askhed, Chaskaman, Mulshi and Andra dams to Ujani dam in Sholapur from first week of Nov.  The decision has been opposed by BJP MLA from Shirur Baburao Pacharne and Sena’s Khed MLA Suresh Gore in a press meet and the leaders were reported to have stated that they would appeal against the order in the High Court Bombay. The irrigation officials have yet to get a copy of the decision.  

Water rationing starts as Hatia dam Ranchi dries up Many localities in Ranchi may face severe water crisis in the next three months with state officials hinting at worsening condition in the coming year. At a joint press meet, urban development department secretary Arun Kumar Singh, drinking water and sanitation department secretary AP Singh and Ranchi municipal commissioner Prashant Kumar said the water level in the Hatia dam, one of the three lifelines of Ranchi, has depleted by 10 feet raising concerns about steady supply even in winter.

Also read, Jharkhand mulling evaporation retardant to check falling level of Hatia dam 

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Link involves India’s first Major Dam inside National Park: It needs, fresh, credible EIA NWDA Sandrp blog authored by J Van Gruisen , R.S. Chundawat Baavan is a submission to Forests’ Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects and was sent on Oct 25, 2015, as the EAC was to consider the Ken Betwa River Link Project for Environment Clearance on Oct 27, 2015. In response to the various submissions that EAC received on this proposal, including one by the authors and another by SANDRP, among others, the EAC had asked the project proponent, NWDA (National Water Development Agency) to provide a point wise reply. The NWDA response can be seen here http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Online/EDS/0_0_15_Oct_2015_1405329601eac.pdf

What ails DPR and EIA of Ken-Betwa Link Project: A Note for EAC of MoEF&CC Sandrp’s Guest Blog by H. S. Panwar, director of Project Tiger 1981-85. He says that The point to make here is that this biodiversity thriving on diverse ecosystems is county’s treasure trove to be secured for now and for posterity, not just as Nature’s bounty but also for sustaining development, mitigation of climate change as well as water security and economic wellbeing.

Also see, Experts inform EAC of flaws in Ken-Betwa river link project 

Can interlinking rivers make this history? Pro ILR lobby is at work here, trying to sound as if the author has consulted the critiques, without touching any of the key issues.

MONSOON

IMD & MP govt provide shockingly different district rainfall figures: Will they explain, please? SANDRP Blog Madhya Pradesh declared drought 35 districts of total of 50 districts, affecting 4.4 m ha area and 4.8 m farmers. It sounded a bit strange since Western MP, comprising of 30 districts, had above average rainfall as per IMD figures for the 2015 monsoon. So we decided to cross check district wise rainfall figures.

Also see, Discrepancies in rainfall figures for Andhra Pradesh drought hit districts SANDRP blog on sharp contrast between Andhra Pradesh state govt. and IMD rainfall figures for monsoon 2015. Having seen the serious discrepancies in the rainfall figures of districts in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh where the respective state governments declared drought earlier, we decided to check the same for these seven districts of AP too. Based on the blog TOI has carried out this story IMD, state govt differ over actual rainfall This is based on SANDRP blog “The state government and IMD have the responsibility to explain the facts and the reason for discrepancies in their data,” demanded Himanshu Thakkar SANDRP.”

Also see Andhra Pradesh declares drought in 196 mandals across seven districts

More brief, above-normal monsoon rain spells since 1980 For the first time, a study published recently has provided the statistics of dry and wetter than normal monsoon season conditions during July and August over India for the longest period (1901-2014) based on a single criterion rainfall.

DROUGHT      

Also see, Climate change study centre to come up Aurangabad Maharashtra With the state facing drought conditions following a rainfall deficiency of 40 per cent this monsoon, Maharashtra’s disaster management cell has proposed to set up a climate change study centre in Aurangabad in Marathwada, the region worst hit by the drought. It will analyse weather data collected over the years for better predictions in drought-prone regions.  Very interesting to note that Maharashtra is to set up climate change study centre in Aurangabad. Will it help? Not if institutes like TERI are involved or if cloud seeding like solutions are the objective.

AGRICULTURE

Food Min proposes Rs 47.5-55.5 a tonne direct subsidy to sugar cane farmers After much deliberation, the food ministry seems to have decided on the amount it proposes to directly transfer into the bank account of millions of sugar cane farmers from the 2015-16 crop season. This first-time move would, if successful, allow similar experiments with other crops, like cotton. The central government would directly transfer the subsidy or incentive to growers. The country is estimated to produce a sixth straight year of surplus sugar, at 26 million tonnes this season. Not clear whom this move will help, it will certainly NOT help stopping sugarcane cultivation in water scarce areas or not help stop export of water through export of sugar. The would mean annual outgo of Rs 1250-1400 crores, to be deposited by the government directly in farmers’ accounts at the rate of Rs 4.76-5.5 per quintal of cane.

NASA Satellite image shows the large number of straw burning by Punjab farmers This practice has multiple implications, including on health and environment. The organic matter that is thus burnt, if ploughed back into the soil, can help improve the water holding capacity and fertility of the soil.

‘Gandhi of organic farming’ passes away  Bhaskar Save had committed his life to organic farming and had won many awards nationally and internationally. Also see his open letter written in 2006 to MS Swaminathan on what Green Revolution did to Indian farming  

A greener way out of farm crisis: Green farmer’s success story from top fertilizers consuming states Several farmers in Faridko, Bathinda in Punjab and Sirsa in Haryana, relate their happy experience with bio-fertilisers on various crops, from wheat and paddy to chillies and potatoes. Their costs had come down and their yields had increased. Their tale can lead agriculture out of the expensive chemical fertiliser-pesticide dependence most cultivators here are trapped in. Notably Punjab and Haryana, India’s shining agricultural states are plagued by problems due to high chemical usage. Pesticide use also is among the highest in the two states.

Also see Plight of Punjab’s small farmers’  A study of farmers’ issues conducted by Dr. Sukhpal Singh and a team of PAU reveals that small farmers are deep in crisis, both economically and socially, as their traditional source of livelihood has become unviable because of rapidly increasing input costs.

Read Naveen Patnayak interview on why Odisha’s  farms turned into killing fields for those who till them  In a little over 2 months, nearly 50 farmers have committed suicide in the State.  

IRRIGATION     

Water diversion: Minister’s plea to MLAs of Godavari dists With the State government planning to pump water from the Godavari to the Krishna through the Pattiseema lift irrigation project, the rabi season crop in West Godavari and East Godavari districts faces a grave situation, former Minister Vatti Vasantha Kumar. He wanted the MLAs of the two districts, an overwhelming member of them from the ruling TDP-BJP alliance, to raise their voice against the danger of farmers of the two districts losing the rabi crop.

100% subsidy on drip, sprinkler irrigation in drought hit Telangana Continuous drought and fast depletion of ground water level have forced farmers to go in for drip and sprinkler irrigation, increasing unusual demand for both the units in the district. Most of the farmers are attracted to scheme due to 100 per cent subsidy.                                                                 ,

WATER 

India is diluting forest protection by ignoring water security and hydrology A very remarkable article on Environment Ministry’s efforts to dilute forest regulations by TR Shankar Raman The Environment Ministry has decided to disregard parameters related to water while identifying which forests shouldn’t be converted to other uses such as mining. By ignoring hydrology, the government is clearing the way for the destruction of forested watersheds and perennial rivers. Mining often results in heavy pollution of streams and rivers, making water unsafe for humans living within and far beyond grid cells or blocks. India’s forests urgently need better protection, assessments and monitoring, to safeguard water, wildlife, and livelihoods.

Have The Bottled Water Companies Been Taking Us For A Royal Ride? The report says that if in US the country with stringent food safety laws, Pepsico has been able to dupe so many customers for so long then what would be going on with Indian customers. Recently the company has officially accepted that it was been selling regular water to its millions of customers at a price which is almost 2000 times what it should have been.  

Kshitij Urs fighting against water privatisation With rivers dying and lakes becoming bowls of sewage, water is being prophesised as the centre of the next great power struggle. Amidst grave concerns, Kshitij Urs has spent the past two decades reminding society and the government that water belongs to the people.

Also see, समकालीन हिन्दी कविता में जल समस्या   

URBAN WATER BODIES   

With scant attention from authorities, Kolkata’s water bodies are fast disappearing Urban water bodies are a special group of surface water resources. A large number of people use these surface water sources for bathing, cleaning and other requirements. Many of these water bodies are used for fish farming which provide a livelihood to hundreds of urban fishermen. Rapid urbanisation has had an adverse impact on the environment, with a number of water bodies being filled up in recent times to recover land. In a very interesting interview, Mohit Ray author of “Five Thousand Mirrors: The Water Bodies of Kolkata” and “Old Mirrors – Traditional Ponds of Kolkata” talks about why Kolkata’s water bodies are disappearing and the efforts being made to conserve them.

Also see, Bangalore needs to break class barriers if its lakes are to be saved  India Water Portal interviews Leo F Saldanha, Environment Support Group, Bangaluru on how to manage polluting lakes of the IT city.  

WATER OPTIONS 

The rainwater conservation plan is a game changer: CM Maharashtra Jalyukt Shivar is a part of that strategy, which has managed to create, distribute sources of water for agriculture and drinking purposes. In about 6,200 villages in Maharashtra, works such as cleaning, repairing, desilting and construction of new water tanks, farm ponds and other water bodies have increased the total area under cultivation from 17 to 20 per cent. Conventional methods such as big dams would have cost 10 times more money and at least eight years of construction work for bringing six lakh hectares under irrigation. About 1,500 km of rivers and rivulets have been deepened and widened under this programme. Maharashtra CM completes one year on Oct 31, his interview on the occasion makes interesting reading. 

RIVERS

Citizens’ initiative to save a dying Maniyampuzha river A tributary of Periyar flowing through the heart of Kochi, is being given a new lease of life after years of neglect. In a landmark environmental initiative, the Riverbank Residents Forum, a collective of people residing on both sides of the water body is slated to clean up the river  using a weed harvester. Great to see this initiative, hope it succeeds. 

Rajasthan: Pollution takes toll on aquatic creatures in Chambal river CPCB team who visited the spot said that prima facie stagnant sewage appeared to have caused dangerously low levels of oxygen in the Chambal water that led thousands of fish to death in Kota district. Metals and plastic bags were recovered from the stomach of a crocodile, which was also found dead along with the fish in the Nayapura area in Kota raising concerns about the growing pollution in the river. Local activists reports that of past many years around 18 drains were pouring untreated toxic waste into the Chambal. They also alleges that sanctioned in May 2010 and scheduled to be completed by Oct. 2013 Chambal Pollution Treatment Plant has not seen light of the day. 

HC Bombay directs NEERI to suggest sustainable solutions for a clean Godavari The court also directed National Environmental Engineering Research Institute to inspect and assess pollution levels in Godavari river as Kumbh Mela is over now. The central agency’s experts have been directed to come up with immediate and long-term remedial measures to clean Godavari. A PIL has stated that government authorities have regularly neglected to take appropriate action to prevent Godavari river pollution and sought directions to the respondents to clean the polluted river. A bench headed by Justice A S Oka has been considering the rising pollution levels in the river, especially during the Kumbh Mela.

Kolkata activist to move NGT over Hooghly river idol immersion Even as several agencies took steps to contain the pollution of river Hooghly due to immersion of idols after the Durga Puja festival, a prominent environmental activist pointed several lapses in the immersion process. Subhas Datta the activist who monitored the immersion of idols at different ghats of the city said that he had decided to move the NGT, Eastern Zone Bench on the issue of pollution caused by idol immersion.  About 1,500 idols were immersed in the Hooghly in Kolkata on October 22 and another 3,500 on October 25.

KPCB board picks holes in waste management at Sabarimala and Pampa The Kerala Pollution Control Board has taken exception to the inadequate and slow pace of preparations for waste management and pollution control at Sabarimala and Pampa during the coming Mandalam-Makaravilakku season.

Rebuilding of India’s longest bridge Mahatma Gandhi Setu Patna on Ganga to cost 1900 crore According the report on dismantling of the superstructure will cost around 400 crore and for this the government might invite global bids. As part of NH 19 the bridge was inaugurated in 1982 and connects Patna in the south to Hajipur in the north of Bihar. Govt. sources say that construction of new bridge might cost around 5000 crore.

Yettinahole Diversion Project : Mangaluru: Yettinahole issue brings Ullal religious bodies together, permeates harmony At the all-religion prayer programme organized by Ullal zone Netrvati Conservation Committee in association with various organizations and institutions saw participation by over a thousand people belonging to different castes, walks of life, and religions. The revolution Dakshina Kannada district is presently witnessing in the name of River Netravati conservation seems to have gagged the forces which tended to reap benefits out of fanning rivalry between different sections of the society in the name of caste, creed, and religion. Amazing to see this! In an otherwise polarised discourse across the country, religious leaders in Ullal, Dakshin Kannada come together to save the Netravathi from Yettinahole Diversion Project. This indeed is one of the most remarkable movements to save a river that we have seen in recent years!

NARMADA NBA press release on Maheshwar project taken out of the hands of the S.Kumars group In an important development in respect of the Maheshwar power project being constructed on the river Narmada, the S.Kumars group who are the project promoters of the privatized Maheshwar project have been removed from its position as project holders of the project. Now the Central government and the State government themselves will hold the project and exercise full control over the project. The NBA welcomes this decision and calls on the State and Central governments to take firm decisions about the questions of electricity tariff and rehabilitation and resettlement, before proceeding any further with this project.

Maheshwar dam India is a Zombie Dam Peter Bosshard Interim Executive Director, International Rivers in his latest blog says that a proposed dam project that activists successfully halt before it’s built, only to see it rise again and again years later  in different forms. He says that the only way to lay them to rest for good — by stopping finance, changing decision-making processes and giving local people a say in development decisions. The list of zombie dams across the world includes Maheshwar Dam on Narmada river. Peter Bosshard says that though in 2006, the Indian government ruled out construction of it but this has been incredibly hard project to kill for the govt.

A Tribute To Narmada – The Lifeline of Madhya Pradesh As Madhya Pradesh turns 59 years old on November 1, 2015, the state continues to consume the fruits – mewa – of its dependence on Narmada. This is a pro large dam vested interests article that has a number of inaccuracies, and it is against the interests of Narmada River and those that depend on the river. The article notes that Narmada River is lifeline for millions, but does not say a word that the river is a dead, at most places due to dams, depriving livelihoods of millions.

अवैध खनन से हुये नुकसान की करे भरपाईएनजीटी राष्ट्रीय हरित न्यायाधिकरण भोपाल बेंच मे जस्टिस दिलीप सिंह एवं प्रो॰ एआर युसुफ ने नर्मदा नदी से अवैध रेत खनन पर सक्त रुख अपनाते हुये वंशिका कंस्ट्रक्सन व शिवा कार्पोरेसन को दोषी मानते हुए अवैध खनन से हुये नुकसान की भरपाई करने का आदेश पारित किया । समाजसेवी विनायक परिहार व पर्यावरण संरक्षण समिति की याचिका पर सुनवाई करते हुये एनजीटी ने आज नर्मदा नदी मे पर्यावरण व जीव जन्तु संरक्षण पर महत्वपूर्ण आदेश पारित किया । मीनिंग कार्पोरेसन को नर्मदा नदी की रेत खदानों का वार्षिक रेत बजट बनाने कहा जिस मे रेत की उपलब्धता, रेत की अवशकता, रेत खनन से पर्यावरण पर प्रभाव, जलीय जीवन पर प्रभाव, प्रति वर्ष होने वाले रेत के जमाव की मात्र का आकलन, आदि बिन्दुओ पर जानकारी का शपथ पत्र प्रस्तुत करने निर्देशित किया ।

GANGA Divya Pharmacy continues to pour effluents into Ganga at Haridwar Effluents from the factory at Divya Pharmacy, belonging to yoga Guru Ramdev, at the Indira industrial estate in Haridwar city, continue to flow directly into the Ganga, near Rishikul. Uttarakhand Tribune is highlighting for the third time this balatant polluting of the holy river by an organisation belonging to Swami Ramdev.  District Magistrate HS Chug, who has taken charge in Haridwar recently, said he would look into the matter and direct officials concerned to collect information about the ashrams, dharamshalas and industries, which were directly discharging sewage and effluents into the Ganga.

NGT voices concern over dry-dirty Ganga, chart out cleaning plan  NGT’s landmark judgement on Ganga pollution. The green panel said it has decided to deal with cleaning of river Ganga in phases and a decision was taken to disect the 2,500 km of river ganga in four phases. It said that first phases will be from Gomukh to Kanpur, second phase from Kanpur to border of Uttar Pradesh, third phase from Mukama Ghat outer in Bihar to border of Jharkhand and final phase from border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal. The bench further divided the first phase into two segments from Gomukh to Haridwar and from Haridwar to Kanpur for effective implementation of its orders and direction.”

Ganga Pollution: NGT pulled up Uttarakhand, UP pollution boards AGAIN  “Your job is to control pollution but you have taken no action. Being the pollution control board, you suggest what action should be taken against the state government. You are not subordinate to the state government and you should tell the state government what to do on the issue,” a The bench also pulled up Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board after its counsel could not give satisfactory reply to the panel on the query whether it has applied its mind on how to clean Ganga. NGT now enlightening the pollution control boards on What they are meant for. Indeed pollution control boards in India are totally ineffective, greatly inefficient and often used as rubber stamps.  

Despite being perceived as eternal, the Ganga has changed massively A new book by an American architect maps the history of the river from its source in the Himalayas down to the ancient city of Varanasi. In an interesting interview Anthony Acciavatti author of THE GANGES WATER MACHINE speaks his mind out on Ganga. The Ganges is one of the most engineered rivers in the world. Beginning from 1854, the work done on the river has been relentless. It has the longest canal system in the world, stretching upwards of 12,000 kilometres.

Major river valleys in Uttarakhand polluted by farm chemical and sewage Pollution in Uttarakhand rivers, especially in the rivers in Kumaon, is  increasing due to rise in population and  dumping of sewage in their tributaries.

Also read Man Sarovar Or Gaumukh: Source Of Ganga? With some foreign scientists having stated that Man Sarovar is the source of the river, union minister Uma Bharti has asked scientists of the Roorkee-based National Institute of Hydrology to do some research on the subject.

YAMUNA Save ‘last green patch’ along Yamuna: YJA Convenor of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Manoj Misra, has written to Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal calling for timely interference to save the green patch at a point when most of the floodplain has already been brought under construction.

NGT halts work on Barapulla Elevated Corridor over risks to River Yamuna  Noticing the continuous damage being caused to the River Yamuna, the NGT applied the brakes to the construction of the Barapulla Elevated Road, Phase-III extension. A PWD contractor had illegally levelled and raised land on both the western and eastern bank of the river – blocking an active Yamuna channel in the process. Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP commented that any obstruction to the flow of a river can wreak havoc on its ecology and biodiversity. He further said that officials involved in this should be identified and held accountable.

NGT issues notices to Centre, Haryana, UP over illegal bridge on Yamuna The directions came while hearing a plea by a lawyers’ body, NGT Bar Association, seeking a detailed report into illegal sand mining in Gautam Budh Nagar district being carried out in violation of the orders of the green panel. Referring to a newspaper report, the plea has said that a bridge was being illegally constructed on Yamuna river in Noida’s Chak Basantpur Village to link it with Faridabad for transporting “illegally” mined sand from Noida to Faridabad.

Delhi Govt. plans to ensure Yamuna is made sludge-free It has asked the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute to conduct a survey to assess the feasibility and the process of desilting Yamuna.

Living of a dead river: Yamuna dhobi ghat has lost its shine Though a few washermen continue with the work because it is the only way they know how to keep hunger from their doors, their income has shrunk miserably. Indeed severely polluted Yamuna has virtually pushed many dhobis out of business.

Also see, Yamuna ghats await clean-up, despite culmination of immersion event due lack of co-ordination among civic agencies

FLOOD

Bihar polls: In the village of boatmen, many promises, little action on ground In Budhnagara, the mood seems to favour the Nitish-Lalu alliance as ‘PM hasn’t delivered so far’. Great to see that media is giving some attention to rivers and rights of fishermen and boatsmen, but it is clear from the report that neither state nor central government is giving any attention.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Silent rooftop wind turbines could generate half of a household’s energy needs   A Dutch renewable energy start-up called The Archimedes is working to solve both of those problems in a new class of small-scale wind turbine one that is almost silent and is far more efficient at converting wind into energy. The company states that the Liam F1 turbine could generate 1,500 kWh of energy per year at wind speeds of 5m/s, enough to cover half of an average household’s energy use. When used in combination with rooftop solar panels, a house could run off grid.

Only Renewable will power India: Piyush Goyal; New tariff policy inclined towards waste-to-energy plants In a interview with leading financial paper power minister Piyush Goyal says the message is loud and clear that the country’s investment thrust will be towards renewable and India’s investments in renewable energy will exceed expenditure on power plants based on fossil fuels, which are globally seen as polluting. He also stated that under new tariff policy waste-to-energy plant will be integrated with Swachh Bharat. STP treated water will be used in thermal power plants.

CLP India raises concerns on sustainability of solar power bids China Light and Power Holdings India, one of the largest foreign investors in the Indian power sector, has raised concerns about the sustainability of electricity tariffs being quoted by solar power developers. This comes in the backdrop of India’s plan to minimize its dependence on coal-fuelled electricity, with the NDA government pushing renewable energy to the top of its energy security agenda

SOUTH ASIA

Dam on Brahmaputra China’s ‘Water Despotism’ Opinion letters in the Hindu from Shubham Goel,Hapur, Uttar Pradesh reads that  China has 14 land neighbours, 13 of them are co-riparian but it is not a party to any international water-sharing treaty. This can be termed ‘water despotism’, similar to the ‘oil hegemony’ practised by the gulf nations in 1980s. Being an upper riparian state, China wants to leverage its favourable location to its advantage.

India needs to talk to China on Brahmaputra dam The informative Op-Ed in The Hindu by Anamika Barua and Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman suggest that an attempt must be made through the dialogue to bring together the interconnected research on rivers, infrastructure building and other related aspects, ranging from politics, engineering, geology, economics, social scientists, hydrologists, environmentalists, activists forums, local stakeholders, which is now missing. The Memorandum of Understandings and Expert-Level Mechanisms currently existing between India and China on hydrological data sharing are key building blocks, as information sharing between countries are a critical phase to any negotiation process.

Bangladesh: Pictorial report on Buriganga pollution Once the lifeline of Dhaka, the Buriganga is now one of the most polluted rivers in Bangladesh, as photojournalist Allison Joyce discovered.

CHINA

Sweeping seismic warnings aside, China to build two new dams bigger than Three Gorges  According news report two controversial hydroelectric power stations over the Jinsha River in Yunnan and Sichuan are to be approved and start construction this year. When completed, the 10.2GW Wudongde the forth largest and 16GW Baihetan the second largest hydropower projects in China Yunnan and Sichuan, together with the Xiangjiaba and Xiluodu hydroelectric power stations which began generating last year, will produce twice as much power as the Three Gorges Dam. A mudslide near the construction site of the Baihetan Dam in 2012 buried more than 40 people.

China reviews water sources pollution status, ban new projects in low scoring areas  The Environment Protection ministry evaluated the implementation of two water pollution control guidelines that cover the nation’s major drainage areas, including the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, for the year 2014. Several counties and cities that ranked the lowest for water quality during the evaluation will not be allowed to begin new projects that could cause water pollution until they pass the next annual evaluation. The 2011-2015 guideline on water pollution said that 60% of the country’s major rivers and lakes should be clean enough to be sources of drinking water supply by the end of 2015.

REST OF ASIA

Photo collection on What life is like for residents displaced by hydropower plants in Vietnam A Vietnamese NGO has collected more than 300 photos taken by residents in four central provinces Quang Nam, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Binh and Dak Lak to show how hydropower plants have affected their lives. Most of the photos show water was polluted, aquatic resources were lost and paddy fields were submerged, rivers stretches drying up, fishing communities loosing livelihoods while resettlement houses for displaced residents were in poor conditions.

Asia-Pacific resilience critical for sustainable development According to the new Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2015, produced by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Asia-Pacific disaster losses by 2030 could total $160 billion every year. This will take away much needed resources for the implementation of the sustainable development goals which the UN membership adopted in September. The report says that trans boundary floods are predicted to cause the worst disasters on large river basins, including Amu Darya, Amur, Brahmaputra, Indus, and Mekong

Too hot to work: climate change ‘puts south-east Asia economies at risk’  Report says rising heat stress could threaten labour capacity across region, with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia worst hit. Twenty of the 50 highest risk cities are in Malaysia, 13 in Indonesia, four in the Philippines and three are in Thailand.

REST OF THE WORLD 

Macedonia dam faces the axe over risk of Balkan lynx extinction  A controversial €100m (£71m) dam project in a Macedonian national park is expected to be scrapped after independent experts called for a halt to all funding and construction work because of risks to critically endangered species, including the Balkan lynx. A Bern Convention mission to the Mavrovo national park reported that the planned hydropower dam there was “not compatible” with protection of the park’s status, ecosystems or species.

South Carolina dam owners warned as more rain approaches Time to keep an eye on dams again in South Carolina. State regulators requested dam owners to start inspections with more heavy rainfall expected in Nov. 2015 first week. Dam owners also are asked to lower water levels, if needed, and clean spillways of trash and debris, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said. At least 36 dams failed state wide almost half in Richland County after more than a foot of rain fell on the weekend of Oct. 3-4.

Disastrous dams leave a mark on the Midlands Follow up news report on multiple dam failure in South Carolina in Oct. 2015. The report highlight that carelessness exercised in proper upkeepment of many dams resulted in the much avoidable disaster. Now the State Authority is planning to take up action and deal with safety issues without caring for dam owners consent. One more news report says that of the 75 South Carolina dams under emergency repair orders issued in the wake of recent historic flooding and rainfall, at least a dozen hadn’t been previously inspected by state regulators for five years or longer.

Turkey’s Enerjisa ‘looking to sell three new hydropower plants’  The high indebtedness of energy companies is pushing them to diversify their portfolios and sell inefficient assets. Yet, the problem is that there are very few buyers outside. Turkey’s Enerjisa, a joint venture between Sabancı Holding and Germany’s E.ON has put up the 400 MW Pervari, 280 MW Alpaslan and 168.4 MW İncir plants for sale to rationalize its portfolio and cut debt. All of these planets are still under construction and are expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2018. The company has appointed bankers to manage the sale.

Malawi’s Hydropower, South Africa Dries Up as River Runs Low  Dwindling water levels are hobbling Malawi’s hydroelectric power supply and putting more pressure on the country’s already stressed forests, officials say. The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi says the amount of power it generates through three plants on the Shire River has fallen by 66 percent due to Lake Malawi’s declining water level, which experts blame on erratic rains made worse by climate change. This year, the southern African nation suffered a late start to the rainy season, followed by severe flooding in its southern half and then prolonged dry spells in many parts, causing maize production to fall around 30 percent.

Brazil, land of water, goes thirsty  Rio de Janeiro state’s environmental department blames “the worst drought in 85 years” for the crisis, while independent activists say decades of bad policy is equally culpable. Although the southern tropical rainy season is just beginning, scientists fear that the El Nino weather phenomenon active this year may disrupt that hoped for relief from the sky, leaving tens of millions of people at risk. And with dire water shortages also breaking out as far afield as California and China, the crisis could also be a harbinger of wider trouble to come.

California Fines Four Urban Water Suppliers California officials have levied fines of $61,000 each against four urban water suppliers, including Beverly Hills, for failing to meet strict conservation standards, in the toughest enforcement yet of an order to cut water use state wide amid an historic drought.

Greenland Is Melting Away  Informative report on a serious issue with captivating video and smart maps.

Also watch In the aftermath of Hurricane Patricia, striking animations show where her water went

CLIMATE CHANGE

‘Climate change will trigger mass migrations, conflicts’ According to the UN Environment Programme, climate change is expected to reduce agricultural output in some regions, cause massive flooding, and “permanently destroy extensive and highly productive low-lying coastal areas that are home to millions of people who will have to relocate permanently. Estimates on the number of potential “environmental migrants” varies widely, from 25 million to up to a billion by 2050, with the International Organisation of Migrants noting that the most widely accepted figure stands at around 200 million.

Climate deal more important for your health than you realise: WHO The WHO sees climate change as the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century. Apart from the direct impact, disasters like heat waves and floods increase the risk of infectious diseases spreading, while air pollution in cities causes diseases such as lung cancer and strokes, said Maria Neira, the head of public health at WHO. The ironic part of this is that sub-Saharan countries are contributing very little to global warming, however they will be most affected by it because their health systems are less equipped and they have less technology and less resource.

Climate change will be an economic disaster for rich and poor, new study says The argument against addressing climate change always has been fundamentally an economic one: We can’t afford the needed disruptions to our fossil fuel-driven society. Now a trio of researchers at UC Berkeley and Stanford have come to the opposite conclusion. In a paper just published in Nature, they find that we can’t afford not to address climate change. The paper also concludes that no country is immune to climate change. Warm countries are at greater risk since they will turn warmer and the devastation will be much bigger than studied earlier. According report the sooner we start addressing the issue the more beneficial it will be for world community.

Also see, Why climate change unites Buddhists around the world

ENVIRONMENT                                                                       

For the first time, CIC fines MoEF, told BARC, DRDO not to withhold information citing national security excuses For perhaps the first time, the Central Information Commission has told the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Defence Research and Development Organisation that they cannot withhold information in the guise of national security. The decision, delivered on October 23, comes nearly a year after activists sought to ascertain the compliance of a August 2014 NGT verdict on the allotment of nearly 10,000 acres of grasslands for military, power generation and research purposes at Challakere in Central Karnataka.

Overlooking wildlife corridor and rich water source, MoEF clears Mopa airport in Goa  The project’s clearance, though, does not make any mention of an active wildlife corridor close to the airport site. The airport site falls in the same region which is a continuation of the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg wildlife corridor of Maharashtra, that is used by tigers and migrating elephant herd. While laying down general and specific conditions for the airport, locals said that the ministry has overlooked the fact that the plateau where the project will be built is a rich source of water for local farmers. Further, the EIA report of the airport was heavily criticised during the project’s public hearing, where locals said that the report did not take into account the flora and fauna found near the project site.

‘जीडीपी और आर्थिक विकास, दुनिया के सबसे झूठे शब्द हैं, इनके कारण ही दुनिया का विनाश होगा’ Very insightful interview in Hindi of Dr. Phelix Padal, Great great grandson of Charles Darwin. He has been living in Oridisha with tribal people for last 35 years. He remembers many changes all through the time. He says when he first visited India rivers were pretty much like rivers but now they have been degraged, dammed, dried and converted into polluted drain.He further says that categorization of Developed, Developing and Under-development countries is a preplanned design of World Bank to trap resource rich nation and India has been trapped deeply in it as a result it has lost and continue to loose most of its invaluable natural resources.

 Most polluted city in the world, Delhi suffers from a toxic blend, says UK study  The team researched how Delhi’s landscape, weather, energy consumption culture, and growing urban population combines to elevate concentrations of air pollutants, including ultra-fine particles, the most harmful to human health. According to statement of Surrey University Delhi as a landlocked megacity unlike coastal cities, has limited avenues for flushing polluted air out and its surrounding regions are sometimes even more polluted than the city.

In Bihar battle, who cares about environment? For an election that can make or break the main contenders for power in Bihar, no one seems bothered about environmental issues. The ever increasing pollution in the Ganges, people hit hard by arsenic, fluoride and iron content in drinking water, rising air pollution and falling rainfall — issues that affect millions — have been given a go-by as Bihar readies for the third round of the five-phase assembly election. Political parties and top leaders are harping on economic development, job quotas, beef, shooting prices of food items as well as caste equations to woo voters.

Growth or Environment: A False Choice In this excerpt from his new book, T.N. Ninan looks at how the tension between these two goals is playing out in Indian today.

‘काशी में ही फुस्स हो रहा पीएम का स्मार्ट सिटी मिशन’ पीएम मोदी काशी को क्योटो बना रहे हैं लेकिन स्मार्ट सिटी बनने की रेस में यह अभी से फिसड्डी होने लगी है। सेंटर फॉर इनवायरमेंटल प्लानिंग एंड टेक्नॉलजी (सीईपीटी) यूनिवर्सिटी की ओर से जारी किए गए सर्वे में यह बात सामने आई है। सर्वे में बनारस सहित यूपी के सात शहर स्मार्ट सिटी प्रपोजल बनाने की प्रक्रिया में ही सबसे पिछड़े हुए हैं। यूपी के 12 में से कोई भी शहर टॉप 20 की रेस में नहीं है।

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