Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin 09 Nov 2015 (Maharashtra Drought-1420 more villages included in affected list)

The State will now seek a Rs. 4,300-crore package for providing succour to over 16,000 drought-affected villages. Earlier State Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Eknath Khadse had declared over 14,708 villages drought-affected. He now said that the State’s assessment by October 31 showed that drought-like conditions also prevailed in 1,420 villages in Buldhana district in Vidarbha, and they would be added to the list of drought-affected villages.

HYDROPOWER 

MADHAYA PRADESH NGT asks to complete rehab before filling Maheshwar dam NGT has directed the state and Union governments that until the rehabilitation and resettlement of people affected by Maheshwar project is completed, gates of the Maheshwar dam cannot be closed and the dam cannot be filled up to 154 meter. Around 10,000 families or around 60,000 people are assessed by the project authorities as affected by the Maheshwar dam. As per the state government, at the current costs, Rs 979 crore is estimated to be spent on rehabilitation of the oustees of the Maheshwar project. If compensation be given under Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 then rehabilitation would cost Rs 2,000 crore.    

UTTARAKHAND Uttarakhand govt unpreparedness and slow response aggravated 2013 disaster, says CAG report In a performance audit report of 2013 natural disaster, the CAG has rapped the state government for its unpreparedness and slow response that actually ‘aggravated’ the disaster of June 2013, which caused widespread destruction in five districts and also led to the physical infrastructure, agriculture fields, human and animal lives, and roads. Over 4000 people were officially declared dead and above 19000 houses were destroyed in the disaster. Great to see the CAG report blaming the human induced reasons that increased the proportions of the Uttarakhand disaster of June 2013.

HIMACHAL Sawra Kuddu hydro project tunnellling work halted by NGT The Thana ‘gram panchayat’ had sought a stay on construction work saying the project authorities has not applied for a “no objection certificate” from the local ‘gram sabha’. It also submitted the area in which the tunnel was being built was in a seismic zone and prone to natural disasters. Afte hearing the case NGT ordered a halt on construction of a fifth tunnel of project being built on Pabbar river in Shimla. The Asian Development Bank funded project, that is facing a huge cost overrun of `606 crore, was earlier described as commercially unviable in a report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

पार्बती जलविद्युत योजना बना रही देरी और कीमत वृद्धि का नया कीर्तिमान, हिमाचल को लग रही करोड़ो की चपत भारत सरकार के नवरत्न पीएसयू एनएचपीसी के लिए पार्बती प्रोजेक्ट हिमाचल के लिए हजारों करोड़ का बुरा सपना साबित हो रहा है। पहले तकनीकी खामियों, फिर कई तरह के विवादों और खराब प्रबंधन के कारण ये प्रोजेक्ट देरी का नया रिकार्ड बनाने जा रहा है। इस देरी के कारण हिमाचल को हर साल करीब 200 करोड़ की चपत लग रही है, जबकि अधिकांश संसाधन राज्य के लग रहे हैं। काम पूरा करने का लक्ष्य रखा गया था वर्ष 2009, लेकिन अब इस समयसीमा को बढ़ाकर दिसंबर 2018 किया गया। यानी 9 साल की देरी। प्रोजेक्ट की संशोधित लागत पहले करीब 3900 करोड़ रुपए थी, लेकिन अब ये काम 8000 करोड़ तक में पूरा होने की आशंका है। ये भी अपने आप में नया रिकार्ड होगा।

MANIPUR Mapithel case similar to Maheswar dam, company violating NGT oder  Mapithel Dam Affected Villages Organisation (MDAVO) have claimed that Mapithel Dam case is similar with the Maheswar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. However, construction works at latter’s site had been halted while in the case of Mapithel, the same continues. The MDAVO has claimed that, the issue of Maheshwar dam and Mapithel matter resemble to a great extend. The project proponent has been attempting to complete the dam construction while, R&R matter had not been in tune to it, the same is Mapithel case.

J&K   450 MW Baglihar-II inaugrated, experts warn of disaster in the making The Prime Minister, during his day-long state visit reached Chanderkote Ramban from Kashmir and inaugurated 450 MW Baglihar HEP Stage-II. The project is second in the Baglihar series. Stage-1 was commissioned in the year 2008. Stage-II project lies in mountains and rugged terrain of the Middle Himalayas with the relief ranging from 700 metres at the river Chenab bed level to a maximum of 3020 metre.  The estimated cost of the second phase of the project is Rs 3,113. 19 crore. Environmentalists have expressed concerns over its impact in the erstwhile Doda (Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts) after the creation of 30-km-long water reservoir in the Chenab. The river already has 690-MW Salal hydroelectric power project in Reasi and 390 MW-Dulhasti hydroelectric power project in Kishtwar.  

DAMS   

NBA Press Release: Sardar Sarovar Oustees in Gujarat on Warpath Again, Facing Unjust Eviction Landless-Jobless Adivasis question gross injustice The anger and anguish of Gujarat’s PAFs is being reflected in a series of incidents and there have been many in the past few days when a large number of oustees literally rose in a large gathering and questioned the claims of the Shri. Saurabh Patel, Minister of Power and Shri Vijay Rupani, Minister for Transport that rehabilitation in Gujarat is “complete” and “nothing remains”. They refused to listen to the “bhashans” of the Ministers and insisted that they be heard on their everyday problems. The anger was so evident that the Ministers had to go back, leaving the programme mid-way. Is the State listening to its own people?                            

Irrigation dept Maha to release water from Pune dams amidst protest The irrigation department is gearing up to release 10 TMC of water from dams in Pune district to Ujani even as residents of Shirur and other areas intensified their protest Release of 12.84 TMC water from upstream dams in Nashik and Nagar District for the Jayakwadi Dam in Aurangabad in Marathwada and release of 10 TMC water from dams in Pune region for Ujani Dam in Solapur. The situation provides a opportunity to analyse concepts like equitable water distribution, implementation of water laws, cropping patterns, hegemony in water use of upstream as well as downstream, etc. And this is only November. Water Sharing, equitable water distribution and river basin management continues to get messier in Maharashtra with water releases from upstream ordered for two downstream dams in separate basins.  

No SC relief to Maha sugar factories and farmers in Jayakwadi dam water release case The Supreme Court on 03 Nov. declined any relief to farmers and sugar factories who wanted to challenge a Bombay high court order passed last week that permitted release of water only for drinking purposes to the Jayakwadi dam. The SC dismissed five special leave petitions filed by sugar factories including one belonging to Vikhe-Patil and farmers against the HC order as they wanted water to be released for agriculture and industry use. Also see, MWRRA orders to release total 12.84 tmc water into Jayakwadi dam The Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority on 16 Oct 2015 directed the officials concerned to release total 12.84 tmc of water into the parched Marathwadas Jayakwadi dam situated in this district from upstream dams under the principle of equitable distribution of water.

Karnataka farmers urged Irrigation Department to ensure release of water from Tungabhadra dam Darur Purushotamgouda, president of the district unit of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene, has urged the Irrigation Department to ensure release of water into the right bank high-level and the right bank low-level canal of Tungabhadra reservoir till December- end and till January 15, respectively. He also added that around 56 tmcft of water was stored in the reservoir of which 22 tmcft would get exhausted by releasing water to the command areas. The remaining water, after earmarking for the perennial canals  Raya and Basava and also for Ballari city’s drinking water needs, could be used to protect not only the standing crops but also help farmers increase their yield.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Why NBWL should not consider Ken Betwa River Link Proposal SANDRP’s open letter to National Board of Wildlif urging it NOT to consider the project and ask the project proponent to go back to the SBWL and EAC only after a fresh EIA from a credible agency.

River-interlinking pancea for all water related problems: Chairman CWC Chairman of Central Water Commission Shri AB Pandya has said that inter-linking of Rivers is the only solution for various water related problems faced by the country. Speaking at a book release function in New Delhi A B Pandya said that management of the available water resources within our geographical boundaries is very essential.

DROUGHT    

Drought: Maharashtra seeks 4,300 crore Centre’s help amid entaliing affected village list The Maharashtra government will seek a Rs. 4,300-crore financial assistance package from the Centre for providing succour to over 16,000 drought-affected villages. State Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Eknath Khadse expected the relief to benefit over 60 lakh farmers in the drought-affected region. The Minister, who had earlier declared over 14,708 villages drought-affected, said the State’s assessment by October 31 showed that drought-like conditions also prevailed in 1,420 villages in Buldhana district in Vidarbha, and they would be added to the list of drought-affected villages.

AGRICULTURE

Centre fined by SC for apathy on farmer suicides The Social Justice Bench comprising Justices MB Lokur and UU Lalit slapped Rs 25,000 as the government failed to file an affidavit on the impact of the National Policy for Farmers 2007 and stating if the policy required any review. The Bench had passed the order on August 21 giving six weeks to the Centre for the purpose. But the government sought further time during hearing, prompting the court to impose the fine for wasting its time by seeking repeated adjournments. At the last hearing, it had asked the government to deal with the problem of farmers’ suicide more seriously, instead of merely trying to bring down the number of such incidents.

New procurement prices for pulses and cereals will not help farmers By hiking the official procurement price of chana and masur by Rs 325 per quintal, as against Rs 75 for wheat, the Centre has seemingly sought to encourage farmers to grow more pulses that the country desperately needs, as opposed to surplus cereals. But the move is too little, too late. Minimum support price (MSP) announcements, to be effective, need to be made well before farmers take cropping decisions. In this case, the declaration of a higher MSP increase for pulses grown in the current rabi season should have been made by mid-October at the latest. Instead, it has happened only now, when rabi sowings have already crossed 8.5 million hectares.

Punjab farmers utilizing stalks as resource to stop the heavy pollution Every year, around this time, vast tracts of agricultural land in Punjab and to an extent, Haryana are lit up by thousands of fires, as farmers try to get rid of paddy stalks that remain after the harvest. Scientific studies have linked fine particulate matter in the haze to the melting of Himalayan glaciers and other, larger climate change consequences. Government attempts to dissuade the farmers have largely failed. Instead of burning the paddy stalks, here’s what some farmers are doing. This article provides three options for use of paddy crop residues; at least two of them (manure and cardboard) are welcome. Biomass power generation option may not be the best use and it may also generate more GHG emissions. Also see Unaffordable equipment fuels fires in Punjab farms Farmers need an affordable solution to clear their fields and the state government has not been able to provide them one.

IRRIGATION

All States meet called to discuss emerging challenges in water sector Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti has asked her Minister officials to call for an urgent meeting of representative of various states to effectively meet the new emerging challenges in the water resources sector.

Bennethora irrigation modernization project Karnataka to cost 172.12 crore  The Bennethora Major Irrigation project, taken up in 1972 as a drought relief work, got bogged down due to various reasons including lack of financial allocation. To overcome thisKarnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd. decided to take up the modernisation of the canals, which included removing the Shahabad stone slab linings and replacing them with reinforced cement concrete linings up to 62.82 km of the 82.16-km-long right bank canal and up to 50 km of the 62.24-km-long left bank canal and the distributaries to prevent seepage of water into agricultural field, reconstruction of damaged cross drainages and aqueducts and repair of road bridges.

Andhra Govt. releases 3,000 cr. for Rayalseema irrigation projects The funds would be utilised for completing the Handri-Neeva and Galeru-Nagari projects, which are reported to prove lifelines to drought-prone Rayalaseema. This apart, focus is being trained on completing the Veligonda, Pulivendula and relief and rehabilitation works under the Pulichintala projects, besides minor irrigation works. In addition, all project works in Hindupur, Madanapalle and Kuppam would be taken up in Novemeber and completed by March.

URBAN WATER 

Delhi Govt. mulls single agency of protection of  water bodies Currently, different agencies such as the DDA, revenue districts of the Delhi government, municipal corporations, DJB, PWD, ASI, forest department have control over the water bodies. A recent survey conducted by the Delhi government found most of them to be in a neglected state and in dire need of revival. The Delhi government has proposed that a waterbody development agency or authority may be set up in Delhi on the lines of the Lake Development Authority in Bangalore.

Also see  समांतर-संसार : ताकि पानी बचा रहे इक्कीसवी शताब्दी में मनुष्य की सबसे बड़ी चुनौती है साफ और पीने लायक पानी पर्याप्त मात्रा में उपलब्ध कराना। संयुक्त राष्ट्र की इस रिपोर्ट के अनुसार 2025 तक एक अरब अस्सी करोड़ लोग ऐसे क्षेत्रों में रह रहे होंगे, जहां पानी की किल्लत होगी और इसी कारण विश्व का दो तिहाई हिस्सा सामाजिक तनाव से ग्रस्त होगा। जब भी आप साफ पानी पीएं, तो यह न भूलें कि आज भी विश्व की आबादी का पांचवां हिस्सा पीने के साफ पानी से वंचित है और यह पानी जो आपके गिलास में है, यह जल आने वाली पीढ़ी का आप पर ऋण है, जो उन्हें वापस देना है।

WATER SECTOR

Mining havoc: Impact of mining on water resources in Goa – Article from Dams, Rivers and People In the background of the tailings dam disaster in Brazil, a look at how Iron Mines in our own Goa are affecting water quality and endangering residents. This write up by Ramesh Gauns was published in ” Dams, RIvers and People” in 2011 and was republished by India Water Portal.

GROUND WATER

NGT directs UP Jal Nigam to seal handpumps releasing contaminated water All the rivers Kali, Krishna, Hindon tributaries to Yamuna are laden with heavy industrial pollution contaminating the ground water aquifers. It is also learnt that many industries are injecting back the industrial effluents into ground leading to poisoning the water table. The petitioner a retired Scientist says that more than 50 people have died of Cancer and deformities is being caused in new born babies due to the high chemical contents found in the ground water released from hand pumps in the villages of in Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Bagpath and Ghaziabad districts. The NGT directed Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam to seal forthwith all those hand pumps which are releasing contaminated ground water posting the case for further hearing on Jan. 12, 2016.

WATER OPTIONS    

Ponds created during Jayukta Shivar in Maharashtra to immensely benefit farmers Amid fears of inflation due to possible loss of rabi crops subsequent to poor rainfall this season, comes a ray of hope. Late rainfall has helped place enough water stock in the newly created 1.2 lakh artificial ponds, bunds, and recharged nullahs, enhancing the state’s water storage capacity by 25 TMC, half of Mumbai’s annual supply. And all this has been done by spending just Rs 1,400 crore, much less than the Rs 8,000 crore the state would have required to create larger dams of the same capacity. Researchers, however, warn that these projects should be in tune with natural groundwater flows or else the money would go down the drain.This is great in any case, though it would be good if the state government were to come out with a detailed official report on this.

Taming the floods for irrigation and ground water recharge A new initiative called Underground Taming of Floods for Irrigation has been started in Rampur districts of Uttapr Pradesh. Prepared by International Water Management Institute the project involves diverting excess floodwater from canals and recharging groundwater via village ponds that are modified. Rampur district with four out of six blocks was selected after an intensive study of drainage density, flood frequency, rainfall, land use, geology, slope, soil and groundwater level. The experiment introduced processes for desiltation and sedimentation so that quality water is made available for irrigation. Water is allowed to percolate through the ground filling up local aquifers and raising the groundwater level in the process. The water can be pumped during dry season for irrigation. Villagers have found the initiative promising.

RIVERS

India Rivers Day to be celebrated on Nov 28, 2015  In continuation to India Rivers Week-2014, India Rivers Day will be organized on on 28 Nov 2015 in Delhi. Tributing late Sri Ramaswamy R Iyer Ji a memorial lecture will be deliverd by renowed water expert Anupam Misra on “Science of Rivers”. Three individuals/ organization will also be awarded “Bhagirath Samman” for their remarkable contribution in the conservation of Indian Rivers.  Shri Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Kapil Mishra, Delhi’s Water Minister will also attend the event. You all are invited to the programme and urged to plan and conduct your own activity in your respective areas on the occasion to celebrate our Rivers. For further queries, suggestions and detail kindly follow link.

A new butterfly catalogue can help save India’s rivers India finally has its first comprehensive catalogue of butterflies since Independence. Peter Smetacek, a scientist at the Butterfly Research Centre at Bhitmal, spent years putting together a synoptic list of the 1,318 species found across the country. The exercise is not only to document the variety of butterflies in India but to help save India’s rivers a cause that Smetacek has been championing.   Keeping track of butterflies at headwaters of rivers can help track the health of forests and their water bodies.

IISc: cleaning rivers using a nano-composite Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru have developed a novel ‘reusable’ nano-composite material, with Cerium being the crucial compound in it, which can degrade microbes and chemical dyes that are among common effluents in rivers.

109 fish species found in Krishna in Mahabubnagar-Nalgonda stretch In a rare study on river Krishna’s aquatic life and bio-diversity, a fisheries development officer and two faculty members of zoology have found 109 types of fresh water species in the second longest river of South India. The study was concentrated on ichthyofaunal diversity of 250 km stretch of the river from Krishna village in Makthal area, where tributary Bheema confluences Krishna, and Somasila village in Kollapur of Mahabubnagar district. Among the 109 species found during the study, 5 species are found to be in abundance, while 31 are scanty and 19 species are very rare. According to the researchers, the 109 species belong to 7 orders, 19 families and 46 genera.

My River My Life campaign to save the Iruvanjhi river Kerala ‘My River My Life,’ a programme conceived by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management as part of its pilot project aimed at ensuring the protection and improving the water quality of Iruvanjhi. The main thrust of the project is to ensure the quality of the water in a sustainable way with the support and participation of people residing on the banks of the river. A number of drinking water schemes are located on both sides of the 30 km-long river. Silting, accumulation of sludge, encroachment and dumping of garbage were slowly killing the river. Interesting effort to connect the students, schools to the river related issues in Chalakudy river basin in Kerala.     

Access to water data: Implications for transboundary relations in the Ganges river basin Despite the enactments of RTI laws and insistence for openness in the government, access to information regimes on transboundary rivers has not changed at a fundamental level in South Asia. Indeed, non-transparency is the norm in South Asia Transboundary water sector information sharing.

Workshop organized on “Coldwater Endemic Fishes of Nrth Eastern Himalaya: Avenues and Challenges” A National workshop on “Coldwater Endemic Fishes Of North Eastern Himalaya: Avenues and Challenges” was inaugurated at the Mini Conference Hall of Manan Bhawan, Gangtok.Organised by the Directorate Of Coldwater Fisheries-ICAR, Bhimtal (Nainital in Uttrakhand), the workshop was graced by Hon’ble Minister for Fisheries, Government of Sikkim Shri Somnath Poudyal as the Chief Guest.  Interesting to know this, but no mention of impact of dams / hydro on fish.

Yettinahole Protest Hunger-strike to protest Yettinahole project enters fifth day Social worker Sudatta Jain Shirthady, founder of Akhila Bharatha Karmika Sangha, had started his hunger-strike in front of the deputy commissioner’s office, surviving only on water since November 1. Leaders of various political parties and organisations have visited and expressed their solidarity with the movement, he added.                                          

GANGA NGT Suggests 500 Metres Buffer Zone on Banks of Ganga The bench’s observation came after advocate MC Mehta who has filed the petition for cleaning of Ganga suggested that in Western countries rivers are protected from pollution by creating a buffer zone on the banks where no construction is allowed. He added that there is an urgent need to fix the accountability to make the Namami Gange project to succeed as both Ganga Action Plan-1 and 2 have failed. The bench is likely to pass an order on segment 1 of Phase-1 (from Gaumukh to Haridwar) of clean Ganga project. The statement that all the schemes and plans under GAP-2 project were implemented sounds like a joke,” the panel said.

Top Haridwar, Rishikesh ashrams polluting Ganga non-stop  Untreated sewage and domestic waste from hundreds of ashram and dharamshala of high religious significane dotting the twin pilgrim cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh continue to pollute the Ganga. Effluents from the factory at Divya Pharmacy, belonging to Yog Guru Ramdev, in the Indira industrial estate in Haridwar city, flows directly into the Ganga near Rishikul. Similarly, the Parmarth ashram of former Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Swami Chinmayanand, situated at Neel Dhara on the Saptsarovar Ganga bank, doesn’t have a sewage treatment plant. The Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board has said ashrams and dharmashalas account for a major share of sewage discharge into the Ganga. Also read  Divya Pharmacy continues to pour effluents into Ganga at Haridwar

PM’s constituency sees Ganga cleaning project restarting after 6 months  It took Government officials in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency six months to convince the farmers to call off as many months old stir after which the construction of Japan International Cooperation Agency funded project of 140 mld sewage treatment plant was restarted at Dinapur. This shows that the National Ganga Mission is following exactly the same old business as usual path, without ABSOLUTELY any change or learn why the efforts of 30 years did not yield any results: Same actors, same technology, same scale, same governance…

Clean Ganga’s Army Task Force Captive to Red Tape Almost a year after the proposal to raise four battalions of an Eco Task Force for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet ‘Clean Ganga’ campaign was made, the Ministry of Defence has yet to give its clearance to the Indian army to set up the force.

Also see, Union Water Resources Ministry Approves Various Schemes in Uttarakhand A new Ghat will be constructed in Haridwar at Chandighat. The construction will be managed by central PSUs and work will start next month. A consortium of engineers from central PSUs will be formed for strengthening the embankments of Mandakini and Saraswati rivers and construction of Ghats at Kedarnath. The consortium will prepare the DPR in consultations with the experts from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi. The sewage treatment plants at Muni ki reti and Jagjeetpura in Rishikesh will be set up by central PSUs. The work is likely to start by February next year. With regard to the assistance sought by the state government for Ardh Kumbh, it has been decided that wherever possible the same will accorded under Namami Gange programme.

Population of dolphins in UP has doubled since 2012  The number of highly endangered freshwater dolphins has almost doubled in different rivers of Uttar Pradesh over the last three years. A five-day census conducted jointly under ‘My Ganga, My Dolphin’ project by WWF India and Uttar Pradesh forest department under the National Mission for Clean Ganga, with the help of NGOs, has shown the increase in the number of dolphins since 2012. The census teams spotted 1,271 dolphins over a 3,039 km stretch of 12 rivers in the state almost double of the 671 dolphins counted in the 2012 census, across a 2,500 km stretch of different rivers.  

YAMUNA :Maili se nirmal Yamuna NGT bans both legal, illegal sand mining on Yamuna  The panel was hearing a plea filed by NGT Bar Association in which it was alleged that some land mafias were indulged in illegal sand mining on either side of banks of Yamuna at Gautam Budh Nagar area of Uttar Pradesh and Faridabad area of Haryana. The bench directed the Uttar Pradesh government to seize all the material and machinery used in the area of its jurisdiction for the mining activity.

DJB can’t spend over Rs 50 cr on Yamuna: NGT The decision came after the court came to know that DJB has spent over Rs 900 crore for cleaning the river. The bench expressed surprise over DJB’s annual budget of over Rs 1,400 crore and said till the order is passed on the pleas, it should not spend more than Rs 50 crore. The panel reserved its verdict on the pleas after it was alleged that despite the budget, untreated sewage is being discharged into Yamuna. The bench asked DJB to explain how much money it has spent on construction of sewage network and sewage treatment plants.

PWD Delhi seeks vacation of stay on Barapullah corridor Citing loss of crores of rupees and underlining its intention to improve the environment by reducing carbon emission from vehicles with minimum damage to flow of Yamuna, Delhi government’s Public Works Department moved the NGT for setting aside/ modification of order of stay on the work of Phase III of the Barapullah elevated corridor till the time an environmental clearance is obtained. The PWD while seeking vacation of stay on work on Barapullah Phase III claimed that the built up area of the project is not about 1,50,000 sq m and covers an area of less than 50 hectares and hence does not require an EC.

NGT hears case on illegal construction in Agra on Yamuna flood plain The petitioner, D K Joshi, filed an additional application in the court alleging that the district authorities have not kept proper land records, which has led to a loss of several hundred crore rupees to the government. He also submitted pictures and details of various drains discharging effluents in the river directly. The court has fixed November 16 as the next date of hearing. Joshi also told that his research has revealed the city witnessed the biggest-ever floods in 1995 and not in 2010, according to general perception. He added that the Agra Development Authority did not include the flood plain zone in the master plan and instead allowed builders to construct structures very near to the river. The court took cognizance of the application, and fixed the next hearing on November 16, he added.

WETLANDS

Wetlands turning dump yards A vast majority of wetlands in the country is slowly becoming dump yards, according to a team of youth who travelled 12,000 km from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on motorcycles. They took 44 days and covered 17 States. . The team has captured over 3,000 pictures of 130 wetlands, birds, and their habitations. The team lead by D. Tony, Professor of Visual Communication Department of Hindusthan College of Arts and Science College in Coimbatore, is planning to hold an exhibition of the photographs, and videos at the college next month. A report will be submitted to Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, which organised the expedition. Suraj, Siddarth, Syed, Vignesh, and Sridar were the student members of the team. The ‘Riders of Metal Birds’ began the expedition from Coimbatore on September 21 on three motor cycles.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Renewable capacity addition jumps 49% in H1 With the capacity addition in H1, India’s cumulative grid-interactive renewable energy installed capacity stood at 37,414 MW as on September 30, 2015. The sector added 1,629 MW of new capacity from various sources during April-September 2015 as against 1,094 MW in the same period previous year, posting a rise of about 49 per cent. Besides, 58 MW of off-grid/ captive power generation capacity was also added during the period. Overall, wind sector accounted for 65 per cent (24,376 MW) of India’s total green power installed capacity. Solar has contributed 4,345 MW. Bio-power (comprising biomass and gasification and bagasse cogeneration), small hydro and waste to power contributed 4419 MW, 4147 MW and 127 MW respectively. Impressive capacity addition in renewable sources during first half of this financial year, even though it has missed the target by 37%.

Solar tariffs in India hit all-time low of Rs 4.63 Solar tariffs have plummeted to an all-time low of Rs. 4.63 a kWhr. That was the price quoted by the winning bidder, SunEdison, in an e-auction conducted by the public sector power utility, NTPC, for buying power from solar power plants worth 500 MW. SunEdison, the US renewable energy major, which is active in the Indian solar space, has won all the 500 MW.  The tariff of Rs. 4.63 breaches the Rs. 5-mark for the first time ever. The previous low was Rs. 5.05 of SkyPower Southeast Holdings, which won a mandate in July to set up 150 MW of solar in Madhya Pradesh and sell power to the state utility at that tariff. It is learnt that another bidder, Indiabulls, also quoted Rs. 4.63, but SunEdison got through because its bid was earlier in time. Several other bids were very close, sources said. Also see, Falling rates hit solar power players Investors are ‘confused’ that leading developers are bidding aggressively for ‘small’ projects. The low bidding in recent projects may not be sustainable, says this report. It also has implications for the struggling domestic solar cell manufacturers against the cheaper imported cells from China, US and other countries.

Delhi solar policy may soon get nod After its draft was released in September, the Delhi government is now ready with the final report on the solar policy of the city. According to sources, the Solar Policy is likely to be approved by the Cabinet soon. It has been cleared by environment department and is currently with the power department.

Irrigation department Maharashtra plans solar power projects on unused land The move is being taken with an objective to generate electricity for its lift-irrigation schemes. This is being launched from North Maharashtra with 300 acres of land in Jalgaon and Nandurbar short-listed for the initial phase with more land, including those of quarries, from which soil has been used for the construction of dams, being looked at for more such installations. The project will cost around 500 crore and will be completed on a public- private partnership basis.

Also see, State Power and Renewable Energy Ministers’ Conference gets underway in Kochi

SOUTH ASIA

Chinese dams on r Brahmaputra will affect Northeast India: Tibetan PM Lobsang Sangay Tibetan prime minister in exile Lobsang Sangay has warned that construction of dam by China over river Brahmaputra will have serious ecological and livelihood consequences in Northeast India. Asking New Delhi to be vigilant, he said that India must make its concerns on dam more pronounced. He also said that Tibet is the source of 10 major rivers in Asia including Brahmputra and the source of these rivers the Tibet’s glaciers are fast depleting. There is deforestation and exploitation of water resources through dam construction and other activities. Downstream countries are going to bear the brunt of Tibet’s ecology destruction.

India, China, and the fight over ‘rights’ to the Brahmaputra China’s Zangmu dam has created an uproar in the Indian media. Here’s why we should be more concerned about what India is doing. The 510 MW Zangmu dam is part of the Zangmu hydropower project built on the Great Bend in the Yarlung Tsangpo. China has planned 29 dams in the Chinese part of the Yarlung Tsangpo basin including the main river and its tributaries, while the Brahmaputra Board’s master plan approved by the Government of India in 1997 has proposed 168 dams in the Indian part of the basin.

Bhutan continue to pursuit big hydro project construction Following an inter governmental agreement signed in April last year, the construction of 570MW Wangchhu, 600MW Kholongchhu, 180MW Bunakha reservoir scheme and 770MW Chamkharchhu- was approved by the government of India. Considering the financing modalities of the four joint venture projects, Druk Green Power Corporation’s managing director, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said that the projects would require a debt financing of about Nu 140B. Bhutan seems to continue to go ahead with big hydropower projects when better options are available and experience from earlier projects is unclear at best.

Three hydro projects of 56 MW capacity to be executed in Kjyber-Pakthunkhwa, PakistanThree hydropower projects (11.8MW Karora Shangla, 10.2MW Jabori Manshera and 40.8 MW Koto Dir Lower ) of 56.2 MW  capacity and 20 micro power stations are ready for execution in Khyber-Pakthunkhwa which would generate power by the end of the current fiscal year. According officials these projects were completed at an estimated cost of Rs15.912 billion and work on 20 micro power stations was also under way and would be completed by next month. They also added that feasibility study of 200 potential sites for more micro stations was complete and 55 such stations would be constructed at flood-hit Chitral.

Also see, Pouring water quality into Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index Initiative to increase awareness about water quality in Bhutan.

REST OF ASIA

Laos forging ahead Don Sahong dam construction ignoring neighbours concerns The project is located close to the tri-border area with Thailand and Cambodia and going to disrupt the Mekong River and affect the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand like never before. Notably, last June’s negotiations facilitated by the Mekong River Commission on the dam failed dismally with no agreement reached. Despite three nations sharing the Mekong River with Laos, none will be consulted on their opinion or invited to object or provide alternatives to the impending large-scale monstrosity. Even government officially paused to listen to its neighbours’ feedback about the Xayaburi dam, construction of was rolling ahead full tilt.

Also see, Vietnam’s longest river is ‘seriously’ polluted: authority It was estimated that more than 10,500 factories and trade villages dump over 480,000 cubic meters of wastewater to Dong Nai River  every day. Official figures from Linh’s department showed that police detected nearly 2,220 environmental violations along the river, and fined violators over VND100 billion (US$4.41 million) since 2013.

REST OF THE WORLD 

Hydropower will undermine COP21 as ‘False Solution’ to Climate Change  Over the past 15 years, the “methane problem” with hydropower has made minor blips in international news and has just begun to infiltrate the discussion of how it is wrong to use hydropower as a solution to fight climate change. Hydropower has been called a “methane factory” and “methane bomb” that is just beginning to rear its ugly head as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions that have so-far been unaccounted for in climate change discussions and analyses. If we continue to ignore methane emissions from hydropower, we won’t just be miscalculating greenhouse gas emissions, we will be miscalculating the likely devastating impacts climate change will have on the planet.  

Brazil dam burst engulfs homes in Minas Gerais Authorities in Mariana said the dam had ruptured on 05 Nov. 2015 afternoon and sent torrents of mud and debris into the small town of Bento Rodrigues, about 7km away. The affected area is reported to home about 500 people. Authorities have warned that the water mixed with residue from mining operations could be toxic. Also see,  Brazilian rescue teams struggle to reach villages in path of dam burst

Deciphering the Samarco tailings dam disaster in Bento Rodriguez Some very telling pictures of the multiple tailing dams disaster, this Dave Petley blog says 28 people remain missing, the toll seems to keep going up, the mining company was trying to raise the height of the dam, it is not clear what regulations apply to such activities, we also need to find more about these dams in India.  

Zimbabwe: Mega Dam Project could flounder in the face of Climate Change Zimbabwe’s planned Batoka Gorge power project on the Zambezi River is expected to generate 2,400 megawatts of electricity, upward from an initial 1,600 MW, but the worsening power cuts that are being blamed on low water levels have renewed concerns about the effects of climate change on mega dams. Aslo see, Hydro power investments in Zimbabwe under threat The intensity of the current energy crisis, which in part results from the water shortages at Kariba, demonstrate not only the threat climate change poses on future financial investments into hydro power, but also that hydro can no longer be relied upon to make Zimbabwe energy secure.

US State warns foothills dam could collapse this winter A 99-year-old dam could collapse this winter and cause catastrophic flooding in the city of Jackson, state officials warned. The concrete dam was built in 1916 as part of the now abandoned Argonaut mine off Sutter Street. The dam does not hold back water, but rather 169,000 cubic yards of arsenic-contaminated tailings left over from decades of gold mining. In June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a report that showed the dam was structurally unsound and at risk of collapse.  Also see, To build or not to build, that’s the dam question in dry California

New EPA Rules Blame Power Plants for Water Pollution Too Power plants have a new set of environmental rules to worry about, this time cracking down not on air pollution, but on the amount of toxic chemicals the plants can dump into waterways.  The new rules announced in September will be published in the Nov. 3 edition of the Federal Register and go into effect 60 days later. The Environmental Protection Agency has updated the rulesknown as the Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines for the first time since 1982, and estimates the change would keep 1.4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals and other pollutants out of waterways each year.

South Africa dams level plunging as drought is set to worsen As strongest El Niño in 20 years continues to develop, it’s no surprise that most seasonal predictions are indicating South Africa’s summer rainfall areas to be drier than normal. El Niño events and drought in South Africa are virtually synonymous, although the relationship between the two is not cut-and-dry with the last very strong event not having had much effect on the region.

Ethiopia Experiencing ‘Worst Drought in 30 Years’ Due to El Niño Conditions – UN Report Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years according to the United Nations, with levels of acute need across all humanitarian sectors having already exceeded levels seen in the Horn of Africa drought of 2011, and which are projected to become far more severe in 2016. A recent report published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted that the impact of the failed spring rains was compounded by the arrival of the El Niño weather conditions that weakened summer rains, which feed 80 to 85 per cent of the country.

River Thames hydro-power scheme dropped Timescale issue, cost escalation, cut in incentives, falling feed-in tariff and removal of tax rebate are the reasons cited by company behind dropping the project.  Also see, Sewage bypasses and spills still a factor in Thames River pollution From January 2014 to June 2015, there were 180 sewage bypasses and spills and manure spills reported in the 24 municipalities that are located in the Thames River basin

Protecting every river course across the US would connect millions of acres of wildlife Scientists in US want to create a nationwide network of river corridors.  Allowing more trees and shrubs to grow along banks staves off erosion, and banning livestock from grazing around rivers and streams could reduce sedimentation and nitrification. Less industrial pollution might also head downstream if there were tighter restrictions on mining and manufacturing near rivers. Riparian corridors don’t just facilitate the flow of water from one region to the next; they also act as highways for wildlife. This is amazing! and it makes an important point. In India too, riparian corridors provide some of the last remaining migration routes and sanctuaries to not only fish and aquatic life, but mammals also.

Study: Flood models need to include cities’ impact on rainfall Current flood models do not account for cities’ impact on local rainfall patterns, an oversight that could lead to significantly underestimating the severity and frequency of floods in urban areas, a Purdue study finds. In rural areas, rainfall seeps gradually into the soil, nourishing plants, flowing into streams and lakes and replenishing underground aquifers. But when a region is urbanized – topped with impervious surfaces such as asphalt – the way water moves over land changes significantly.

Poisoned Agriculture: Depopulation and Human Extinction  A new paper by Rosemary A Mason in the ‘Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry’, indicates that a ‘sixth extinction’ is under way. In her paper, ‘The sixth mass extinction and chemicals in the environment: our environmental deficit is now beyond nature’s ability to regenerate’, she argues that loss of biodiversity is the most urgent of the environmental problems, as biodiversity is critical to ecosystem services and human health. And the main culprit is the modern chemical-intensive industrialised system of food and agriculture.

Read also, If These Companies Are Worried About Running Out Of Water, You Should Be, Too  

CLIMATE CHANGE

Austria’s largest state goes 100 per cent renewable  Interesting, but 63% of the electricity coming from hydro (2% from solar) does not sound good, world will need to decide that large hydropower project cannot be considered renewable, green or climate friendly source of power.

Climate change poses ‘major threat’ to food security, warns UN expert Climate change poses severe and distinct threats to food security, and could subject an additional 600 million people to malnutrition by 2080, a United Nations human rights expert warned. Meanwhile, the Special Rapporteur highlighted her concerns surrounding the impact of climate change on the right to food in her recent report presented to the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee in October.  Also see, Countries must do more to combat climate change, says UN Voluntary pledges by many countries to cut carbon emissions by 2030 are not enough to hold the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and the world needs to do much more, said a United Nations report released a month ahead of global climate negotiations in Paris

Climate change played role in 2014’s extreme weather, report says The fourth annual report, titled Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective and published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, looked at individual extreme weather events such as wildfires, winter storms and floods.

The Future of Climate Change Is Widespread Civil War A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees another result as well, though one far less discussed. It will, in the long run, bring on not just climate shocks, but also worldwide instability, insurrection, and warfare. In this sense, COP-21 should be considered not just a climate summit but a peace conference perhaps the most significant peace convocation in history.

Americans Largely Unconcerned About Climate Change, AP-NORC Survey Finds As top-level international negotiations to try to limit greenhouse gas emissions start later this month in Paris, the Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll taken in mid-October shows that most Americans accept the climate is changing, but they appear not to be much worried about it. And that is keeping the American public from demanding and getting the changes that are necessary to prevent global warming from reaching a crisis, according to climate and social scientists.

जलवायु संकट के सबक तिब्बती धर्मगुरु दलाई लामा चिंतित हैं कि 2050 तक तिब्बत के ग्लेशियर नहीं बचेंगे। नदियां सूखेंगी और बिजली-पानी का संकट बढ़ेगा। तिब्बत का क्या होगा? वैज्ञानिकों की चिंता है कि ग्लेशियरों के पिघलने की रफ्तार जितनी तेज होगी, हवा में उत्सर्जित कार्बन का भंडार उतनी ही तेज रफ्तार से बढ़ता जाएगा। जलवायु परिवर्तन और उसके दुष्प्रभावों के लिहाज से यह सिर्फ तीसरे धु्रव नहीं, पूरी दुनिया के लिए चिंता का विषय है। (अरुण तिवारी)

ENVIRONMENT

Join Latha Anantha on November 29th for the People’s Climate March from Vazhachal to Athirappilly with the call to ‘Protect Our Tropical Forests to Reduce Threat of Climate Change’ in Solidarity with lakhs of people all over the world who will take to the streets asking their Governments to commit to 100 percent clean climate.

Centre rapped over shoddy handling of environment issues The Ministry of Environment, Forests may have jumped the gun on releasing a draft notification on the conservation of the Western Ghats, with reports from two critical states Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu still awaited. Now, environmentalists and experts have criticised the government for this haste, saying this is just the latest in a long line of blunders.Parineeta Dandekar, of SANDRP, termed the entire exercise as half-hearted. MoEF continues to blunder on the western Ghats issue, following HLWG constitution and its report and now a notification. Also see Maha proposes to trim W Ghat eco zone by 66% A report submitted by the Maharashtra government to MoEF has suggested that only 6,719 sq km of the Western Ghats in the state be declared as ecologically sensitive area. The figure is almost onethird of the 17,340 sq km ESA proposed in the draft notification issued by the ministry.

States delay declaring Eco-sensitive Zones, wildlife board puts a freeze on clearances The strong line taken by the NBWL committee is meant to get states to speed up the submission of ESZ proposals. The Supreme Court had in 2006 asked states to submit ESZ demarcation proposals, failing which an ESZ of a 10km radius would apply from the perimeter of the protected area. Following the apex court’s order, the environment ministry has been pushing states for ESZ demarcation, but without much success. Till August, final notifications demarcating ESZs for only 32 protected areas had been issued.

PAHAR: 3 decades of mirroring the multi-facted Himalayas PAHAR a group of like-minded people has committed to conserving and promoting the invaluable heritage of the Himalayan region. The journal named “PAHAR” is brought out annually by this organisation and is an archive of information on the mighty mountain chain.

Also see, Govt Orders Greenpeace to Shut Down  

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