Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin 16 Nov. 2015 (Tamil Nadu floods claim 95 lives)

Incessant rains continued to disrupt normal life in Chennai and across Tamil Nadu on Monday, with the death toll rising to 95. Many areas in Chennai have been inundated, road traffic has been severely hit and schools and colleges are shut across Chennai as a result of the inclement weather. Boats are being used in flooded areas to rescue stranded people. Also see, Rain continues to batter Tamil Nadu, disaster response teams deployed

IRRIGATION   

Telangana to allocate Rs.25,000 cr. annually  for irrigation, CM offer 2 % incentive for timely completion In a review meeting of irrigation projects Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has directed the engineers of the Irrigation Department to prepare an action plan to provide water to the ayacut, at least in the first phase of the lift irrigation projects being planned on the river Godavari, by 2017 monsoon. The CM also directed the engineers to take up construction of barrages at Tummidihatti, Kaleshwaram and Kothur simultaneously. He also told them to plan two more barrages to lift water till Yellampalli. Work on canals, tunnels, lifts and reservoirs should also begin at once by preparing an action plan. In addition to the existing Mid Manair and Lower Manair reservoirs, new ones would have to be constructed at Kaleshwaram, Yellamapalli, Imambad, Ananthagiri, Gandhamalla, Baswapur, Gowrapalli, Pamulaparthi and Mallannasagar. He told the engineers to redesign Rajivsagar and Indirasagar projects to suit the needs of Telangana. The meeting had a unanimous opinion on constructing as many barrages across Godavari as possible in the State.

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

दो राज्य- मध्यप्रदेश राजस्थान। एक नदी-चंबल और हर साल सिंचाई के पानी को लेकर विवाद। इस बार भी विवाद तब सामने आया जब जब मप्र सूखे की मार झेल रहा है। पश्चिमी मप्र के ढाई लाख हैक्टेयर क्षेत्र (भिंड, मुरैना, श्योपुर आदि) को सिंचित करने के लिए जितने पानी की आवश्यकता है, राजस्थान उतना पानी नहीं दे रहा। यही हाल रहे तो रही तो रबी की सीजन की शुरुआत ही किसानों के लिए दिक्कत भरी हो सकती है। पूर्व मंत्री ध्यानेंद्र सिंह ने यह बात मुख्यमंत्री शिवराज सिंह चौहान तक पहुंचाई। मामला गरमाने के बाद राजस्थान ने कुछ पानी छोड़ा है, लेकिन वह किसानों की जरूरत के हिसाब से कम बताया जा रहा है। अब राजस्थान के इस रुख के चलते पीएमओ तक यह विवाद पहुंच गया है। राजस्थान का रुख फिलहाल नरम है। मध्यप्रदेश को 3000 क्यूसेक पानी दे दिया है। उधर, राजस्थान के किसानों ने चेतावनी दी है कि समझौते के मुताबिक यदि मप्र ने गांधी सागर में पानी रोका तो वे आंदोलन करेंगे।

RIVERS

Kerala Greens frown on Centre’s river sand mining norms Experts and environment activists have expressed reservations about the new guidelines issued by the Central government on regulation of river sand mining, terming them impractical in saving the rivers in Kerala that have already been ravaged by mining. They feel that the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Act 2001 would be more appropriate for the protection of the rivers. Environmentalists fear that the move by the Central government to amend the EIA Act of 2006 would undo the regulations in place and further devastate the rivers.

Water activists support Balasore protest Odisha Several water activists recently attended a meeting organised by the civil society of Balasore which has been opposite a project sanctioned by Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation Odisha for drawing river water for industries here. The civil society body has been opposing the project stating that massive drawing of water from Budhabalanga and Sono river could lead to water scarcity for human and agricultural use. The water intake well for industries will spell doom for the people of the district, they said while denouncing the North Odisha Chamber of Commerce and Industries statement in favor of the project.

One bill, Two opinions & future of India’s rivers amid govt. focus on global economic expansion Two Stockholm Water Prize winners – Rajendra Singh and Madhav Chitale discuss the best way for India to save its rivers and lakes. While opposing Inter-linking of rivers Jal Jan Jodo Abhiyan led by Ranendra Singh is working on a draft bill named River Conservation Bill, 2015 which is centred on conserving and reviving water bodies across India and asks for legislation to ensure water security across the country starting with surveying, demarcating and notifying them correctly. On the other hand Madhav Chitale, former secretary to the Ministry of Water Resources says the major problem in India is implementation of existing laws and to translate our intentions into actions Water Code is the building block for our management of our river basin.

Culture Ministry constituted multidisciplinary study on Saraswati river The committee has several members, including Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, the culture secretary, the tourism secretary and ASI Director General, and has a fixed tenure of two years. It will draw up a comprehensive programme for the study of the Saraswati basin and identify 16 sites for research and development apart from advising the central government on issues such as defining the river basin, identifying archaeological sites, areas for multidisciplinary research and assessing their potential for development as centres of education and tourism.

CPCB raises concerns over Goa river water pollution Taking serious note of the condition of the State’s major rivers, including River Mandovi, and pollution of water bodies, the Central Pollution Control Board has pulled up the municipal authorities for failing to manage the discharge of waste water flowing into rivers, creeks, coastal waters and other water bodies. In the case of River Mandovi, the municipal authority has been directed to submit an action plan within 90 days, detailing proper collection, treatment and disposal of untreated sewage and effluents. CPCB had monitored the water quality at 1275 locations covering 445 rivers which included six Goan rivers – Mandovi, Kushawati, Khandepar, Sal, Bicholim and Chapora.

Also see, CPCB directs Odisha Govt. to check Brahmani river pollution The second largest river of state is polluted heavily at several places. Odisha Govt. now has decided to install real-time monitoring stations at four locationsThe Central Pollution Control Board had directed the Odisha State Pollution Control Board to monitor pollution level of Brahmani. According to OSPCB, the water quality monitoring in the river is being done at 19 stations. The State pollution watch dog, however, attributes high level pollution to discharge of domestic waste water from townships and in-stream uses by people. It is also alleged that chromite mining in Sukinda Valley in Jajpur district also contributes to the pollution.

NGT fined Meerut distillery Rs. 1 crore as environment compensation for Kali River Pollution The environmental compensation will be paid to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board. In the instant case, the Daurala-based distillery unit was found to have polluted land and water for many years by releasing untreated effluent and using the same for ferti-irrigation too, though the same was suspended some time ago. The total installation production capacity of the unit is 150 KLD. Consent was granted only for production of 80 KLD. The NGT also directed that the industry be permitted to operate only on installation of Multi Evaporator (MEE) and restrict the production capacity of the industry to 38 KLD till the installation and commissioning of MEE.

GANGA Ministries to share with NGT deficiencies in Ganga Action Plans I, II NGT asked the concerned Ministries to share documents, studies on the failure of GAP-I-II in sealed cover which it feels should not be in the public domain. It was said that during the Ganga Action Plan I, a total of Rs.74.8 crore was spent on cleaning up the river, while under phase II, Rs.153.73 crore was spent for cleaning from Gomukh to Haridwar.

Wealthy Uttarakhand forest dept. to start Ganga mining in Nov. end Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation (UFDC) expects to receive all the clearances required for sand mining in Ganga its tributaries in Haridwar by Nov end from Union environment ministry. UFDC says sand mining here yields revenue of about Rs 88 crore each year. The dept also states that regulated mining in the designated stretch of the Ganga, covered by the Shivalik Hills, is important as sand and boulders that river water washes down from the higher areas needs to be periodically removed to clear the path of the water and prevent flooding. At present, the corporation is mining sand from 10 rivers Gola, Nandour, Kosi, Dabka, Sarda, Song I, II, III and Jakhan I and II in the state. Sand mining in these areas brought the corporation revenue of Rs 230 crore last year. Of all the state government corporations, UFDC is the only profitable one.

Also see, From Cremating Dead Bodies to Tackling Sewage – Guddu Baba Did It All for a Clean Ganga 

YAMUNA NGT says no blanket ban on idol immersion Ahead of Diwali and Chhath festivals, the NGT clarified that there was no blanket ban on idol immersion in the Yamuna, but can only be done at the designated places. The green tribunal said its earlier order had been misconstrued. The bench said it cannot allow the river to get polluted and hence its earlier order had prohibited throwing of puja material from anywhere, except from the designated ghats. The green panel’s observation came on a plea filed by Ojasvi Party which claimed that due to the earlier order banning idol immersion in Yamuna, religious faith and sentiments of thousands of people had been hurt. Also see, Not quite a river, Yamuna is mother now  

HYDROPOWER 

J&K Rising heat in Kashmir to put hydro sector in dock: Report A report on climate change prepared by Jammu and Kashmir State Action Plan on Climate mentions that climate change would have “drastic impact on hydropower generation capacity in J&K. The climate change might impact hydro power generation in three possible ways. Firstly, the available discharge of a river may change since hydrology is usually related to local weather conditions, such as temperature and precipitation in the catchment area. Secondly, an unexpected increase in climate variability may trigger extreme climate events, i.e. floods and droughts, and thirdly, changing hydrology and possible extreme events may increase sediment risks,” the government report mentions.

HIMACHAL CPM seeks white paper on Karcham-Wangtoo and Baspa-II hydropower projects’ sale Alleging non-transparency Senior CPM leader Rakesh Singha sought white paper on the agreement of sale of twin hydropower projects, Karcham-Wangtoo and Baspa-II, by Jaiprakash Power Ventures to JSW Energy of the Jindal Group and declared that the CPM would press the government to take up the liabilities in case the Jindal group did not safeguard the interests of the workers and the locals. He claimed that the sale of the twin power projects had not been done in a transparent manner and the aggrieved parties, which included farmers and locals, had no clue about the details of the agreement and, therefore, the state government should issue white paper on the agreement.  

FLOOD

Swan river flood project stalled due to lack of funds Work on the Swan River Flood Management Project which was being implemented by the state Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Department with the assistance of the Union Government, has come to a halt due to lack of funds. The estimated Rs 922 crore project had received the approval of the Union Ministry of Water Resources in 2013 during the UPA regime. The cost of the project was to be shared in the ratio of 70 to 30 per cent between the Centre and the state. Under the project, stone pitched embankments were to be created on both sides of the 73 tributaries of the Swan river. The Central assistance amounting to Rs 123 crore was received in 2013-14, after which no assistance has been received.

WETLANDS

Vigilance raids J& K Lakes and Waterways office for carrying out illegal construction  Vigilance Organisation Kashmir officials on 14 Nov. raided the office of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) and seized documents. The raid was a part of the ongoing investigation into the “criminal misconduct” by LAWDA officials. The officer carrying out the raid said that they would scrutinise the records and accordingly proceed with the probe. No detentions have been made in the case so far. A case was registered against LAWDA officials following the October 28 order of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The court had observed that various constructions had been illegally raised in the prohibited areas without permission, in violation of permission, in violation of the Master Plan and in violation of the court orders which was indicative of the fact that the Enforcement Wing of the LAWDA was acting in collusion with the law breakers and facilitating illegal constructions.

Celebrating ponds of Kerala!! A photo collection by K R Sunil Every village was once bestowed with beautiful ponds. Habitat for lots of small animals, ponds played a vital role in maintaining environmental stability. They are vanishing one by one as man’s need for land is ever increasing. The last few still standing.

AGRICULTURE

Maharashtra needs own agriculture model: CM Devendra Fadnavis  Entering in his second year as CM, Devendra Fadnavis reveals his plans for revival of agriculture sector. He said that the State has to look beyond sugar cane cultivation for better water management in drought districts apart from adaptation to sustainable crop pattern by the farmers. The CM also admitted that the spike in tur dal prices is result of some policy mistakes for which the state is paying heavy price.

Let’s not only blame Punjab’s farmers for lighting up! This article throws light on the compulsions behind farmers burning rice straw in Punjab-Haryana.  

Declare Agriculture Emergency: Ex-MP Karnataka Highlighting the plight of the farmers due to the prevailing adverse weather conditions, decreasing yield and lack of remunerative prices, former MP Y Sivaji, has reiterated his demand for declaring an ‘agriculture emergency’ in the state.

Organic farming can check farmer suicides: Green NGOs Farmers practising organic farming tend to suffer less from indebtedness, which results in fewer suicides in drought years. This was one of the observations that emerged during ‘Vilakp Sangam,’ a gathering of civil society organizations and individuals recently organized at Wardha by city-based NGO Kalpavriksh and 17 other organizations.

From corporate culture to agriculture  Journey of Vinod Kumar who after five years into a high-profile corporate career realised that his calling lay in the profession practised by his ancestors, farming. He now has weaned away other farmers in the area from modern methods and plans to cycle, along with a friend, to countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan to document fast-disappearing traditional agriculture methods.

Also see, Leelaben; a tribal woman in Gujrat shows farmers how to transform their lives by adopting efficient and environmentally friendly practices

SOUTH ASIA

In India, Li Yuanchao, Vice President China will ink pacts on rivers and culture The focus of Mr. Li’s visit is expected to be on the renewal of the MoU on smooth sharing of hydrological data related to the common Himalayan rivers. While a prominent part of the 2013 agreement focused on joint study of Sutlej which originates in the western Tibet region, the other and more important aspect of that agreement was on the hydrological study of the Brahmaputra. It is expected the renewed agreement will also focus on the exchange of hydrological data on Brahmaputra river, though sources in the Ministry of External Affairs are not willing to comment. Sharing of hydrological data during the flood season helps in emergency management and better planning in lower riparian rivers.

Tibet’s plea: fix the roof of the world before it’s too late: Lobsang Sangay China’s proposed expansion of hydropower dams is not the solution. China has already dammed every major river in Tibet. And more damming is expected. In China’s 12th five-year plan hydropower projects are a stated priority. Without proper consultation and impact assessments, these hydropower projects can cause serious, irreversible environmental damage. China should also become a signatory to the United Nations water convention, committing to protect the quantity and quality water resources. The United Nations must act by recognising the significance of the Tibetan plateau. A comprehensive understanding of global climate change is impossible without looking at Tibet.

Breaking the silence over growing crisis in Nepal  India has its own interest behind the blockade but why has the international community not spoken about it? This article throws very interesting light about the reasons for India’s action vis a vis Nepal in recent weeks, it says the main reason is that the new Nepal constitution thwarts India’s game, plan of controlling Nepal Water Resources, would love to know what various people in the know from all sides think.

Delta management: Indus flow data sharing seen lacking transparency  Main threats to the health of the Indus Delta include reduced freshwater flow, construction of dams and various canals; encroachments, clearing mangroves for agriculture; reduced sediment loads; habitat destruction and pollution.

Also see, Two months on, flood trauma continues in Pakistan’s Kalash valleys As winter tightens its grip over Pakistan’s Kalash valleys, home to the ancient Kalash tribe, many parts of the mountain region are still struggling to repair the damage wrought by the floods this monsoon. The rains started sometime in July and continued for days and weeks, bringing on floods that swept away roads, bridges, agricultural lands and the livelihoods of thousands of people in the high mountains of Pakistan’s Chitral district that houses the three Kalash valleys of Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir.

THE REST OF ASIA

Asia’s Dam Projects Face a Backlash Developing nations are building almost 500 dams. Yet governments are finding it hard to move villagers, because locals have lost trust in officials after years of undelivered payments, broken promises, and stalled building as budgets are gutted by corruption. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP says that India has done proper rehabilitation for not a single dam so far despite huge cost escalation and delays.  If you take into account the time taken to build large dams, the environmental impact, the social costs of moving people, and the delays, the sheer effort makes no financial sense and There are more viable sources to generate energy and supply water for irrigation adds Himanshu Thakkar.  Even from climate change perspective, large dams are far from viable, optimal or useful options.  

REST OF THE WORLD 

Anti-Dam Activists Gather in Sarawak State to Celebrate Second Anniversary of Baram Dam Blockades In October, Indigenous activists from around the world gathered on the banks of the Baram River in Sarawak to celebrate the second anniversary of the Baram Dam blockades. Indigenous Kenyah, Kayan, and Penan people have continuously occupied the two blockades for the past two years. The blockades have successfully prevented any progress on the Baram Dam, one dam in a series of 12 proposed hydro-electric dams in Sarawak. If built, the 1,200-megawatt Baram dam would displace as many as 20,000 Indigenous people living in more than 26 villages, and would flood 400 square kilometers of rainforest.

World’s Biggest Dam Drains, Intensifying Zambian Power Crisis Zambia’s power deficit will widen by 42 percent by December as Kariba dam water levels have fallen to 21% of capacity. The energy shortfall will increase to 1,000 mw from 700 mw now. Power costs is already causing finance minister `sleepless nights’.

Brazil climate change report warns of failed hydropower and crops A comprehensive new study commissioned by Brazil’s government predicts severe drought and crop failures due to climate change by 2040. The report also says that by 2040, many of Brazil’s existing and planned hydropower projects, including those in the Tapajós basin, as well as to the gigantic, under construction Belo Monte dam, could become unviable as drought worsens and river flows decrease.

Official: Mosul Dam at risk of collapse Mosul Dam, once called Saddam Dam, was constructed in 1983. It is located on the Tigris River in the western province of Nineveh, upstream from the city of Mosul. It is the fourth-largest reservoir in the Arab world, with a capacity of about 8 billion cubic meters, and provides electricity to 1.7 million residents in Mosul. According the news report Mosul dam annually needs maintenance and repairing which has not been done since long. The Islamic State managed to capture the dam in July 2014 when the group seized Iraq’s second largest city Mosul, but the Kurdish Peshmerga reclaimed the dam soon after despite the dam still being in the militants’ hands.

Brazil levies initial fines of $66 million against mine for burst dams The fines, announced after President Dilma Rousseff come as federal prosecutors announced plans to work with state prosecutors to investigate possible crimes that could have contributed to the disaster at the mine, jointly owned by two of the world’s biggest mining companies, BHP Billiton Ltd and Vale SA.  Also see, Brazil president surveys dam disaster site; govt vows probe, audit of other dams

Brazil’s slow-motion environmental catastrophe unfolds More details of the failure of the monitoring and regulation by the government that led to Brazil Dam disaster. It says: “the state body responsible for monitoring the country’s dams, the DNPM, checked each of them only once every four years.” In India, it does not happen. EVER. Will we learn any lessons?  

Adani Australia boss Jeyakumar Janakaraj oversaw mine behind massive African river pollution disaster Mr Janakaraj was director of operations of Konkola Copper Mines  (KMC) when the company was charged in 2010 with causing a serious pollution spill, which saw a toxic brew of highly acidic, metal-laden discharge released into the Kafue River. The river is one of Zambia’s largest waterways and a source of water and food for about 40 per cent of the country’s people. The residents of four villages near the copper mine allege a series of discharges of sulphuric acid and other toxic chemicals into waterways over a decade since 2004 have made them sick and devastated their crops.

Elwha River restoration update open to public The first public gathering to report on restoration of the Elwha River since the last remnants of the dams were removed and upstream passage for salmon was restored is set for next week in Port Angeles. The presentations would be worth the trip to the Olympic Peninsula for anyone following the restoration of free-flowing rivers. Isn’t this great? Elwha Dam removal, but also the intensely open and public reporting around it.

Pumping water for irrigation likely to increase drought vulnerability in certain regions   The Earth’s water cycle is affected by energy exchanges via evaporation, transpiration, condensation, and precipitation, to name a few. Humans alter that hydrological cycle through water use demand-irrigation being a large use-and cause changes in water supply by affecting evaporation and runoff. Understanding how human water use would respond to global warming and its combined effects on the hydrologic cycle is important for better designing mitigation and adaption strategies to the global change in the future.

Pictorial Report on Rivers Pollution Around the World From sewage and toxic waste to mining deposits and oil spills, the world’s rivers, lakes and oceans have never been dirtier or more dangerous

Also see, Self-Charging Row-Bots eats water pollution and produces electricity as it swims

CLIMATE CHANGE

India’s INDC will increase the water insecurity and problems of the vulnerable and the poor SANDRP Comment on India’s INDC. No one can deny that the current Indian government is strong in one aspect: Symbolism. So they did release the India’s INDC on 2nd Oct , the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

IEA concludes INDCs will not limit warming to 2 °C; focus on India without any push to the OECD countries to reduce consumption SANDRP blog On the eve Dipawali, the International Energy Agency published World Energy Outlook 2015 with a major focus on India, leading to stories on how India moves to the centre of World Energy Stage in Washington Post, among others. While IEA report provides some interesting insights, its focus on India without also advocating that OECD countries need to reduce much more substantially their consumption and emissions deprives it of some credibility. The OECD also includes Large Hydro among renewables, though it has been proved that large hydro is a false solution in changing climate. Here is a blog on this subject, feedback is welcome.

Between climate change and a hard place The Environments of the Poor in South Asia gives a bird’s eye view of the links between poverty, environment and climate change in the South Asian countries. Through a collection of essays, the book looks at how the interface between the three elements in the drylands, coasts, lands prone to flooding, uplands (mountains) and slums. The book provides many such examples of how poverty is linked to environment degradation and climate change in South Asia, and how adaptation can help the poor overcome the situation. However, adaptation itself is only one end of the spectrum. To put the brakes on climate change, there has to be strong mitigative action. Like with the human body, degenerative problems affecting planet earth cannot be dealt with only by treating the symptoms.

Environment Minister Launches New Website on Climate Change Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Prakash Javadekar has launched a new website http://www.justclimateaction.org. Launching the website in Pune, Shri Prakash Javadekar said that the website has been created especially for the purpose of putting up India’s stands and efforts till Paris Summit and it includes India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the appreciation received from the world over and comments on INDCs.  Also see, India Is Caught in a Climate Change Quandary

The planet’s future is in the balance. But a transformation is already under way This article is remarkably clear headed, points out that this year we have crossed two major milestones: the carbon dioxide concentration in atmosphere has crossed 400 ppm and global temperature increase has gone above 1 degree C above the pre industrial level. However, its claim that transformation is already underway seems too optimistic.

6 Places Where Melting Snow Means Less Drinking Water All basins will likely have less water from snowpack as the planet warms. But some regions will be in worse shape than others, a new report says. Nat Geo Report on 6 Places where melting snow means lesser drinking water and yes, Indus and Ganga Basin are right here.

Calling out government on climate change It seems from this report that Pakistan government submitted a single page as its INDCs to UNFCCC?  

ENVIRONMENT

Fishermen and farmers sue IFC, over Tata Mundra power plant in Gujrat In the first case of its kind against the private investment arm of the World Bank, fishermen and farmers from north-western India are suing the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in a US federal court over a $450m loan for a coal-fired power plant. The communities say the IFC has “destroyed their livelihoods” by reducing fish stocks and damaging the environment in Gujarat. The case is filed in the District of Columbia circuit of the federal court system, as that is where the World Bank is based.

Attack on KSS activists fighting against Adani Pench Power Project Secretary of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Sajje Chandravanshi and four others were brutally attacked in village Chaunsara of district Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh on 14 November 2015. Villagers of the area have been resisting the construction of Adani  Pench Power Project for past many years due to forcible land acquisition, water diversion from Pench and environmental illegalities that the project proponents have deployed to construct the environmentally damaging 1,320 megawatt  coal-fired power station.

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