DRP News Bulletin 23, Nov. 2015 – Uttar Pradesh declares 50 districts as drought hit

Eight Indian States have already declared drought this year. Apart from UP the other states are Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand.

In 2015, India witnesses many weather extremes which can be linked to Climate Change. The unseasonal rains in March, then back-to-back failure of Southwest Monsoon that has led to severe drought conditions in many Indian states. Right now Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh are facing severe flood conditions caused by heavier Northeast monsoon rain. The year 2015 also saw record breaking heat. Clearly Climate Change have started unfolding abnormal weather incidences in India impacting millions of people lives who have become victim of Climate Change despite no fault of theirs. But Indian government is neither connecting these disasters with climate change, nor identifying the victims, leave aside asking for justice for these victims.

DROUGHT    

Uttar Pradesh declared 50 districts as drought hit Declaring 50 of its 75 districts as drought-hit, the Uttar Pradesh Government has suspended the recovery of all dues from farmers with immediate effect. The affected districts, spread evenly across the state, either received less than 60 per cent rain from June to September this year or more than 33 per cent crops have been destroyed. Following a drought review meeting on September 2 chaired by Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan the departments of irrigation, power, minor irrigation and agriculture were asked to assess the situation and submit a report in 15 days. Following their preliminary report, a Natural Calamity Committee was set up on October 29 that decided to declare these districts as drought-hit.

HYDRO POWER

Himachal Pradesh Sorang Hydropower disaster: Will we learn any lessons? SANDRP Blog on avoidable Sorang HEP accident. A burst in penstock pipe of 100 MW Sorang hydro power project (HEP) in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh have played havoc with the lives and livelihoods of people of Burang and surrounding villages. On surface it may look like an accident. But deeper look raises doubts about many systemic loopholes that allowed the siutation that led to the disaster. Also see 3 feared dead in pipe burst at Sorang HEP, Himachal  

हिमाचल में सभी जल-विद्युत परियोजनाओं का सेफ्टी-आडिट अनिवार्य किन्नौर जिले के शोरंग प्रोजेक्ट में सामने आए हादसे के बाद राज्य सरकार ने यह निर्देश जारी किए हैं। राज्य में बिजली प्रोजेक्टों में लगातार हादसों में इजाफा हो रहा था। बिजली बोर्ड , पावर कारपोरेशन के प्रोजेक्टों में तो सरकार की आेर गलती पर कार्रवाई की जाती रही थी, लेकिन निजी प्रोजेक्ट्स का काम दूसरी कंपनियां करती हैं, ऐसे में इन कंपनियों के खिलाफ सीधे तौर पर कार्रवाई करना आसान नहीं था। सभी बिजली प्रोजेक्ट्स को राज्य में सुरक्षित तरीके से बनाया जाए। यहां पर काम कर रहे इंजीनियर, मजदूर पूरी तरह से सुरक्षित रहे। इसके लिए हर बिजली प्रोजेक्ट के बनने से लेकर उसके संचालन तक सेफ्टी आडिट करवाने के निर्देश जारी कर दिए हैं। इसके तहत बिजली प्रोजेक्टों को सालाना, तीन या पांच साल के बाद अपना सेफ्टी आडिट करवाना अनिवार्य तौक पर करवाना होगा।

Himachal faces challenges of climate change Glaciers’ retreat The indepth study of the available data for the four hot spots of Sainj Valley, Parbati Valley, Great Himalayan National Park and Beas river upstream of Manali between 1981 to 2010 has brought to the fore some significant facts. The data clearly indicates increased warming during the spring months by almost 0.35 degrees in 10 years, substantial retreat of glaciers since 1960s, formation of several glacial lakes over recent decades and thawing of permafrost which could have significant implications. The valleys and areas mentioned in the report also infested with several hydro projects. They are also destabilizing the local climate and in turn will be impacted severely by it.

Jammu & Kashmir  450 MWs Baglihar-II non-functional According to officials, due to lesser discharge from the Chenab river, the second phase of Baglihar project is non functional as it has been designed to generate electricity only in summers when the discharge in the river increases. They said both Baglihar-I and Baglihar-II power projects have common dam due to which only one project is functional as of now. They also reported that the project is not benefitting the State and Govt. should re-examine its power purchase policy as the generation of power within the state is more than the requirement. The project commissioned by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on November 7 is non functional while 50 per cent of the electricity generated from the first phase of the project is sold outside despite Valley facing 8-9 hour daily power cuts.

Madhya Pradesh Maheshwar dam a monumental folly The entire story of Maheshwar dam. Touted as India’s first privately financed hydel project, the Maheshwar dam in Mandleshwar, Madhya Pradesh, stands as a monument to the poverty of our “development” discourse. It took over two decades and Rs 2,200 crore to build. But it hasn’t generated a single unit of electricity so far. Worse, it is a disaster waiting to happen. The project threatens to submerge over 16,000 hectares of private agricultural land and 7,169 hectares of state land. So far, according to estimates, only about 20% of the rehabilitation work has been done. The cost of completing the work is expected to run into thousands of crores. Last week, the NGT ruled that the gates of the dam can’t be closed and it can’t be filled up for power generation until the rehabilitation work is completed.

MONSOON IN SOUTH INDIA

Water Everywhere, Not a Drop in the Chinnambedu lake Chennai  Amid the chaos all around, the Chinnambedu lake, third biggest waterbody in the region, is completely dry. Spread across 1,500 acres, this is the third biggest lake in Chennai-Tiruvallur region after Chembarambakkam and Poondi, right next to which the Arani river flowing filled to the brim. But it cannot take in any water as the canal that brings in water to the lake has been encroached by private residential and commercial establishments. If this were cleared of encroachments and overgrown vegetation, the water that now is draining at Pulicat backwaters could have been saved and used later for irrigating farmlands in 20 villages in the neighbourhood.

Water flows into Palar River, Tamil Nadu after almost a decade It was a sight to behold for residents of Vellore as water flowed into the Palar near Pallikonda breathing life into the dry river after almost 10 years. Officials of the Public Works Department said water from the Agaram Eri flowed into the Palar river. Water level has gone up in the Aanaimadagu dam near Ambur. There was heavy water flow at the Jalagamparai and Amirthi water falls following the rains. The incessant rains in the last three days have come as a blessing for the water-starved district.

Chennai’s floods show the need for climate-conscious urbanisation It would be wrong just to blame climate change-induced heavy rain alone for the chaos in Chennai. Like Kashmir (2014) and Uttarakhand (2013), Chennai was also as much a man-made disaster as it was a climate disaster. In its rush to develop, the government and urban planners have completely destroyed its vast network of water bodies that would soak in extra water in case of heavy rainfall and the natural drainage system. The city’s largest mall, Phoenix, is on a lake-bed Velachery. The Second Masterplan of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority also has scant regard for hydrology, claim experts. Indian cities must build resilience so that they can withstand such natural shocks and ensure that every disruption does not become a disaster.   

Chennai floods are not a natural disaster – they’ve been created by unrestrained construction Chennai has experienced particularly heavy rains roughly once every 10 years – 1969, 1976, 1985, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2015. In fact, at 235 mm, recent rainfall is not even the big daddy of big rains. But today with every invitation to Make in Chennai, the city is unmaking itself and eroding its resilience to perfectly normal monsoon weather events. The infrastructure of big commerce has replaced the infrastructure to withstand natural shocks. The 2015 disaster was not just avoidable; it was a direct consequence of decisions pushed for by vested interests in the face of wiser counsel. Virtually every one of the flood-hit areas can be linked to ill-planned construction.

Extra rain and poor urban planning: Why Chennai went under water  Indian Express explain the October-December northeast monsoon that brings rain to Tamil Nadu at this time — and how it became so deadly this year. This article says Chennai could have responded much better to the heavy rainfall, which is not entirely unusual and was as per the advance forecast. While Climate Change may have been one of the causes as per IMD chief statement in The Hindustan Times front page today, that is all the more reason why we need to be better prepared for such events with planning, forecasting and management systems.

Rains bring relief to Chennai’s water security but expose city’s under-preparedness Very interesting to see Chetan Pandit being critical of CWC data and dam projects.

Boats in Chennai, froth in Bengaluru – Grim tales of two cities While one might find this odd, this is how city dwellers are coping, as the system has failed them yet again If I may say, Bellandur area in Bengaluru looks like land on clouds when seen from a distance while an aerial view of Chennai looks like it has substituted Venice over the last few days. Residents from both cities have given accounts of rather different experiences during the rains this month and their message to civic authorities subtly pointing to their lack of action, has gone viral.

Tamil Nadu deluge a trailer of climate change Heavy rains and deadly flooding in south India, a region that saw a killer heat wave this summer, are weather patterns that appear to fit the scenarios of climate change in India, IMD chief Laxman Singh Rathore has said. Rathore said extreme weather events in India in recent years do match the predicted effects of global warming, although “individual episodes” could not be straightaway linked to larger climate changes without the evidence. Torrential rains the heaviest in a decade pounded southern states Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh over the week and are continuing. The region is getting the “northeast monsoon” or winter monsoon, a rain-bearing system that mainly drenches the south. One of the reasons for Chennai’s heavy rains is the ongoing El Nino weather pattern, which causes dry summers but wetter winters.

Also read, Is El Nino to blame for excessive rains in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh? After all, the rains in Tamil Nadu were excessive in 1997 too, which saw the strongest El Nino on record.

DAMS

Power Minister Piyush Goyal Reviews the Working of BBMB and NHPC Suggests Strengthening of Public Warning System to Avoid Accidents Due to Release of Water from Dams  Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy presided over the review meetings of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) and National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) in Chandigarh on 31 Oct. 15. In the meeting, The Minister directed BBMB Chairman to submit an action plan to him within a month for constituting some rapid action force for approval to strengthen the public warning system to avoid accidents by immediate release of water from dams. It will be adopted for every hydro plant in the country in a time bound manner. 

Maharashtra stares at water conflicts  Reeling under successive droughts and falling water levels in dams, Maharashtra is staring at a conflict between two regions over water. On 21 Nov.15, farmers of Nasik in north Maharashtra gheraoed State Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan over water release into the Jayakwadi dam, which caters to the Marathwada region. Citing drought, they said water should not be released into the dam when their water needs are not fulfilled. On the other hand, farmers and political leaders from Marathwada are citing the recent order from the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority to release 12.84 tmc ft of water into the Jayakwadi dam from upstream areas of north Maharashtra. Experts fear a similar conflict situation may arise at all major dams in Marathwada soon.

Maithon dam, Jharkhand crisis may hit power supply in Delhi, West Bengal  The reservoir level has declined to 462 acre feet from 480 acre feet in November last year. The plant supplies 300 mw power to Jharkhand through the Damodar Valley Corporation, 300 mw to Delhi, 300 mw to West Bengal, and 150 mw to Kerala every day. Under such circumstances, a power crisis looms over Jharkhand, Delhi, Kolkata and Kerala as the Maithon Power Limited may cut electricity supply to the states. The plant requires 50,000-55,000 cubic metres of water every day from the dam to generate 1,050 mw of power from its two units.

Tehri Dam affected village get revenue status after 3 decades  Matu Jansangthan Blog On 16th November 2015, The State Government of Uttarakhand recognized Pathri Part-2, Pathri Part-3 and Pathri Part-4 as revenue village renamed as Tehri Bhagirathi Nagar, Ghonti Village, and Chhaam respectively after the proposal by District Magistrate. We congratulate State Government of Uttarakhand, fellows of Matu Jansanghtan and others organizations on this gleeful event. Since many years, the oustees of Tehri dam are left out from their land rights. Many Project Affected People have been rehabilitated in Pathri Part -1, 2, 3 and 4. In this regard, the issue has been seriously raised many times in petitions pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Ponnaniyar dam, Tamil Nadu to be renovated with WB aid, famers demand remained unmet The Ponnaniyar dam in the hilly Kadavur region of Karur district is to be renovated soon under the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) funded by the World Bank. Although minor projects to develop the dam as a picnic spot were executed previously, this is the first major renovation to be taken up in the structure. The rehabilitation and improvement works would be carried out at a cost of Rs. 2.50 crore sanctioned under DRIP. Various parts of the dam structure would be repaired and strengthened. Picnickers would stand to benefit as the project involves blacktopping the approach road to the dam for 4 km from Mugavanur and providing lighting. Farmers of the region have been demanding the dredging of the supplying channels. However, this would not be a component of the project.

Also see, SC Panel to visit Periyar dam on November 30

INTER LINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa river linking gets further delayed The ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) for river valley and hydroelectric projects, which considered the project at its meeting on 26 and 27 October, noted that several representations had been received against the project from non-governmental organizations and E.A.S. Sarma, a former secretary to the central government. Even after all clearances are in, the project may face legal hurdles since environmentalists have said the project will seriously harm wildlife. For now the EAC panel refused to clear project until a landscape management plan is finalized and reviewed by independent experts. On the contrary, speaking in a programme Uma Bharati the Union Water Minister stated  that work on first river-linking project of connecting Ken-Betwa rivers will begin in Jan-Feb.-16  and preparations for the same have been completed.  Ms Bharti further said the Centre will move ahead with Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada river-linking projects soon with Maharashtra and Gujarat governments.

PM approves MoWR Status-cum-Progress Report on interlinking of rivers The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the Status-cum-Progress Report by the Ministry of Water Resources related to the interlinking of rivers. This is in compliance of the Supreme Court judgment dated 27.2.2012 in the matter of Writ Petition (Civil)-512 of 2002: Networking of Rivers along with Writ Petition No 668 of 2002. This will help in monitoring of the interlinking of river projects to be carried out under National Perspective Plan.The status-cum-progress report on Special Committee for interlinking of Rivers will be submitted bi-annually for the information of Cabinet. The bi-annual report will ensure in taking final and appropriate decisions in the interest of the country as expeditiously as possible.

Inter-Linking of River Taken up on a High Priority (Ministry of Water Resources in its 19 Nov. 15 Press Release) A Special Committee on ILR was constituted under the Chairpersonship of Minister, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation on September 23, 2014 for carrying out the ILR programme. Seven meetings of the Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) have been held so far, the last meeting was on November18, 2015 at New Delhi. A Task Force for Interlinking of Rivers was constituted by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation on April 13, 2015. Two meetings of Task Force were held on April 23, 2015 and November 5, 2015, to examine all relevant issues which will help in bringing about a consensus amongst the States on the link projects. The Task Force and four sub committees constituted by the Special Committee on ILR will assist Special Committee for ILR.

Ken-Betwa Link to be taken up on Mission Mode Says Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat  (Ministry of Water Resources Press Release on Seventh meeting of the Special Committee for Inter-Linking of Rivers Held on 18 Nov. 2015.) Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat has urged various stakeholders to take up Ken-Betwa river link project on mission mode so that work on the project could start by the beginning of next year. Chairing the Seventh meeting of the Special Committee for Inter-Linking of Rivers held in New Delhi today, the Minister assured that while taking up this project the interests of both the States of UP and MP will be fully protected.

WATER

First Meeting of the Indo-European Water Forum to be held in Delhi on 23-24 Nov. 15 First meeting of the Indo-European Water Forum is being co-organized by National Water Mission, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission on November 23-24, 2015 at New Delhi to discuss key issues in water resources management in India as well as the experiences of implementation of European Water Policy. The forum will be attended by Director General of Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission Mr Daniel Calleja Crespo. The Meeting will also be attended by Diplomats, Senior officers from the Central Ministries, State Govt’s and UT’s, World bank, UNDP, ADB, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, FICCI, CII , researchers, practitioners and academicians amongst others.

Cities seek to address water logging problem under Atal Mission Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Gujarat and Odisha take lead in constructing storm water drains. 5 States to invest Rs.242 cr under Atal Mission action plans for 2015-16. With water logging in cities following rains being a recurrent problem, States and Urban Local Bodies have begun to address this issue under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation.

Aslo see, AMRUT Action Plans for 81 cities approved with total project outlay of Rs.5,748 cr 

GROUNDWATER

CGWB issues new guidelines to check rampant ground water misuse  The new rules come in the wake of the NGT orders on indiscriminate exploitation of the resource. As per the new guidelines, homes having water supply from a public utility will not be allowed to extract groundwater. On paper, in Delhi, extraction of groundwater has been regulated and prior permission of the district advisory committees is necessary for the same. The Economic Survey Report of Delhi 2014-15 states that the Delhi Jal Board has 3,961 functional tube wells and 14 ranney wells. But the figure of illegal borewells operating in both areas where there are DJB connections and where there aren’t remains a mystery.

Enforcement challenge ahead for new groundwater usage norms Groundwater extraction by households with regular piped connections and industries in scarce water zones was prohibited with effect from 23 Nov. under a new rule that poses a resource management as well as enforcement challenge. The Central Ground Water Board guideline will be applicable for residential houses in 6,607 notified areas in one-fourth of districts in the country. The guideline will apply to all industries and infrastructure projects, including real estate development, with more stringent norms in notified areas than in others. The politically sensitive farm sector has been left out of the purview of the new regulation. Though a similar rule was in force in Delhi after a Supreme Court order in 2004, implementation had been poor primarily because of a manpower crunch.

Rules may hit water supply in parched Gurgaon  The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) notified the entire Gurgaon district yet again to regulate borewells but how these orders will be implemented is yet to be be seen. The CGWB has prohibited extraction of ground water in Gurgaon district through a series of notifications since 2000. However, according to the board’s own report, the extraction of groundwater remained high in some parts of Gurgaon. The new guidelines also make it mandatory to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the government agencies for all new as well as replacement of old borewells. These NOCs will be provided only for drinking water purpose. This will have serious implications for water supply in the city, major parts of which depend on illegal borewells. Also see, New groundwater extraction rules leave industrialists worried

रांची ड्राई जोन में, कांके, धुर्वा में ग्राउंट वाटर 500 फीट नीचे राजधानीरांची के कई ऐसे क्षेत्र हैं जहां ग्राउंड वाटर की स्थिति बहुत खराब हो गई है। राजधानी रांची समेत आठ जिले ऐसे हैं, जो ड्राई जोन बनने की ओर अग्रसर हैं। राजधानी में कई ऐसे क्षेत्र थे, जहां बोरिंग कराने पर पहले 50 से 100 फीट में पानी मिल जाता था, लेकिन अब 200 से 700 फीट तक बोरिंग कराने के बाद भी पानी नहीं निकलता है। यदि कहीं निकलता भी है, तो छह माह से एक वर्ष के अंदर बोरिंग फेल हो जाता है। झारखंड में भू-गर्भ जल के अत्यधिक नीचे जाते स्तर पर केंद्रीय भू-जल प्राधिकरण ने चिंता जाहिर की है। प्राधिकरण ने राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर ग्राउंड वाटर के संरक्षण को लेकर नियम कड़े कर दिए हैं। तय मानक के अनुसार, कार्यरत नई औद्योगिक इकाइयों द्वारा ग्राउंड वाटर का इस्तेमाल करना आसान नहीं होगा।

RIVERS

Celebrating India’s Riverine Fisheries on the World Fisheries Day SANDRP Photo Blog on Riverine Fishing Communities on occasion of World Fisheries Day. 21st November is celebrated as World Fisheries Day. Since the past few years we have been trying to highlight the significance and richness of India’s riverine fisheries which support over 10 million people by providing livelihoods and nutritional security. Ironically, although India is the world’s biggest inland fish producer, our riverine fisheries are woefully neglected. We do not have a record of riverine fish catch and its trends, people dependent on riverine fishing, species of fish and their population trends, etc. Interventions like dams, water abstraction and pollution have severely affected riverine fisheries, which do not find a place in the dominant water management narrative.

Kumbh over, no one cares for Godavari Two months since the Godavari was cleaned, the river is back to being a murky nullah choked with household waste, plastic and puja material dumped into it. The Nashik Municipal Corporation had put in months of hard work and planning to prepare the river ghats for the biggest religious congregation of the world hosted in the city every 12 years. After the event, the civic body seems to have lost its diligence and vigour. From December 6, 2012 till October 29, 2015, the Bom bay HC issued several direc tions to curb river pollution. In its latest order after the Kumbh, the HC observed that the river has once again become dirty and appointed NEERI again to study and suggest long-term and immediate solutions to check the pollution of the river. During the Kumbh Mela, water was released from the upstream dams to ensure that the river was periodically washed. But with scanty rainfall this monsoon and no water to release for maintaining the river’s flow, it is unlikely that the Godavari will assume its pristine look before the onset of the next rainy season.

Clothes continue to pile up in Pampa The pollution of the Pampa river owing to abandoning of clothes in the river by pilgrims returning from Sabarimala continues unabated despite a Kerala High Court order to treat it as a criminal offence. The riverbed is full of clothes left by pilgrims on the very first day of the pilgrim season itself, as authorities have failed to take any steps for the compliance of the court order. The Departments of Police and Water Resources are expected to implement the court order, but neither volunteers nor staff has been deployed to check the menace. Pilgrims callously abandoning their clothes in the river on their return journey has become a custom over the past 15 years.

Cooum river’s restoration work delayed by CRZ A 9.6-km stretch of the river from Chetpet bridge to the river mouth requires Costal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for eco restoration. The delay in initiating work on obtaining CRZ clearance by the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust is said to have affected the eco restoration project. Work is not likely to start before this financial year. With the model code of conduct for the Assembly elections likely to be in force around the time, next year, the work is expected to be delayed further. The entire work is expected to be completed by 2018. The Water Resources Department has started cleaning some stretches of the river. But demarcation of boundaries is yet to be completed. Stretches between Chetpet and Padikuppam causeway and Vanagaram and Paruthipattu near Avadi have been cleaned as part of the work.

Yettinahole Project Activists continue protest against Yettinahole project Protests against the Yettinahole Project continues in Karnataka even as the NGT has ordered status quo and illegal work continues.

Narmada Claims of govts on rehab of SSP oustees false, says panel of judges A panel of four retired judges who conducted a fact-finding mission into the Sardar Sarovar project (SSP)-affected area of the Narmada Valley in September this year, has said that the claims of the MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat governments about complete rehabilitation of affected people made before the Supreme Court is false. The panel further held that, based on the findings, the claim of the Narmada Bachao Andolan that permission to increase height of the dam granted by the Narmada Control Authority on basis of the SC clearance is legally untenable seems to be true. Also see, Rehabilitation of SSP displaced: Did three govts lie to the Supreme Court?

NGT notice to SEIAA, MP over mining in Sardar Sarovar area NGT central zonal bench, Bhopal, issued notice to state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) Madhya Pradesh seeking explanation on what basis it issued 22 mining leases in alleged submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Project in Alirajpur district asking it to submit its reply by December 11. Besides, bench also asked MP pollution control board (MPPCB) to examine complaints of illegal mining and file prosecution proceedings. Deposing before the tribunal, social activist Medha Patkar on Monday had alleged rampant illegal sand mining was going on in catchment and submergence areas of Sardar Sarovar project in four districts of Barwani, Dhar, Alirajpur and Khargone in Madhya Pradesh.

Ganga Trust between Centre, States dips, Govt. plans SPVs to clean Ganga The Union Ministry for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has mooted the plan for better management of projects after its inability to push state governments to act swiftly on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Clean Ganga programme. The SPVs will not only maintain the network of sewage treatment plants (STPs) across the Ganga basin but also drive the creation of new ones. The ministry has moved a cabinet note for the purpose which is expected to be discussed soon. 

NGT pulls up UP, Uttarakhand on rising pollution in Ramganga The NGT pulled up Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments over rising pollution in river Ganga’s tributary Ramganga and asked them to apprise it about the steps taken to prevent discharge of effluents in the water body. Advocate Gaurav Bansal, appearing for the petitioner, informed the tribunal that an affidavit filed by UP Pollution Control Board, had stated that the level of hazardous substances, including magnesium and chloride, in the tributary was 50 times higher than the permissible limit. Earlier, NGT had directed the Uttar Pradesh and UPPCB to submit a list of polluting industries and their activities and whether their effluents are treated before they flow into Ramganga. It had also asked the pollution board to put out the list of polluting industries on its website.

Kanpur taking steps to make Ganga Clean Latest it has decided to ban polythene with 700 meter of Ghats. The meeting held under the chairmanship of district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma also decided not to allow any new construction within 700 meter radius around the banks of the river and has asked the Kanpur Development Authority (KDA) authorities to demolish all illegal structures falling within this radius from the river bank. Expressing concern over waste from nullahs flowing into the river, the committee has decided to set up a sewer treatment plant at Bithoor. After the meeting, DM Kaushal Raj Sharma said that each and every decision taken by the committee would be enforced. The committee would convene its meeting every month and review the decisions taken in the previous meetings, he informed.

150 crore study approved to study Ganga’s self-cleaning, disease curing properties Health Ministry and the Water Resources Ministry of the Centre have launched a Rs. 150-crore study to discover what is being called the mystery X-factor. The study will be completed in six month.

Ganga to be One of the Cleanest River by October 2018: Uma Bharti Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti dismissed concerns over alleged slow progress in the Centre’s Namami Gange programme saying the NDA Government has resolved to make the river as “one of the cleanest” in the world by October 2018.

Also see, Thousands witness ‘Nag Nathiya’ on Ganga bank in Varanasi

Yamuna Defunct Sewage Pumping Stations and under performance STP ensure Yamuna always remain a polluted Mail Today investigation reveals that Delhi’s 36 Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) at 22 locations are under-performance due to non-functioning of Sewage Pumping Stations (SPS) which were built with thousands of crores rupees. While on paper, Delhi’s STPs are almost equipped to treat the daily load. Amid all this more STPs are being built whereas 43 per cent of the 680 MGD of raw sewage directly reaches Yamuna. The report concludes unless SPSs are set right clean Yamuna objective can’t be achieved.  Ironically nearly half of Delhi-mostly underdeveloped areas-lacks sewerage networks whereas sewage still reaches the river through storm water drains in sewered urban areas.  Also see, Stay on Barapullah Phase III construction vacated  

Will an aarti a day save the Yamuna? The AAP has promised to clean the river in 5 years but prayers alone would lead us nowhere. For all the capital’s sewage and waste to be treated before releasing it into the Yamuna, estimates suggest the AAP needs Rs 50,000 crore to invest in expensive technology. Hopefully better sense will prevail and AAP ki sarkaar will see that the answer to a clean Yamuna lies in the tough policy decisions that is bound to upset many.

CPCB in affidavit accepts that UP rivers are grossly polluted The affidavit filed by CPCB before a NGT bench, also recommended to the state and concerned authorities to ensure the water bodies in six districts of Western Uttar Pradesh (UP) are not polluted by untreated industrial effluents and other harmful substances. As per an analysis report of some rivers including Hindon, enormous quantities of harmful substances including municipal and industrial effluents entering Hindon from the districts of Saharanpur, Muzzafarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar, were found, which caused ground water contamination. The petition, filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal, has been clubbed with another plea with similar prayers on ground water contamination, will now be heard on January 12 in 2016.

NGT raps UP on filthy Yamuna banks in Agra Expressing disquiet on the dumping of on Yamuna banks and in the drains of Agra NGT asked Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, U.P. Jal Board and the State of Uttar Pradesh to file comparative chart before the Tribunal within two weeks. The Tribunal also sought details of those who are discharging sewage and other waste directly into the river Yamuna, for which it had passed prohibitory order. Some of the builders during the hearing submitted that they were not informed by the Agra Development Authority about the need to get environment clearance. The Tribunal was hearing a petition filed by D.K.Joshi showing concerns over rampant construction of housing societies in Yamuna flood plain in violation of Allahabad High Court 2011 order.

Also see, Common antibiotics flushed in Yamuna causing diseases in human

IRRIGATION

Irrigation Projects Raining Money For AP TDP Leaders Reports of huge corruption in awarding contacts for constructing irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh is creating furore in government and official circles. There are largescale complaint on unholy nexus between TDP leaders and contractors to loot hundreds of crores of rupees of public money under the guise of irrigation projects. The situation worsened to such an extent that some senior IAS officers are coming out in open against the AP government expressing fears about being part of ‘contract award committees’ when officials have no role or power in deciding contracts and government bosses themselves are taking unilateral decisions on whom to be awarded contract and for how much cost. 

LAKES AND WETLANDS

Plea to protect wetlands: NGT asks Centre, States to implead  Concerned over the shrinkage of wetlands across the country, the NGT on 20 Nov. 15 asked all states to implead themselves as parties and sought the response of the Environment Ministry on a plea seeking their identification and protection. The matter was presented by senior advocate Shanti Bhushan for petitioner Anand Arya, seeking direction to the Centre and states not to permit any activity in and around the wetlands, as inventoried by ISRO in 2007 and 2011, till these are notified by the Centre. The petition alleged that the Centre had violated sections of the Environment Protection Act 1986 by not taking necessary steps to protect save the environment which was increasing the risk of losing the wetlands.

Dharamsala lake dying a slow death The picturesque Dal Lake of Dharamsala located at an altitude of 1,775 meters above the sea level, is dying a slow death. The Dal Lake earlier used to be like a bowl of water trapped at the bottom of the mountains and surrounded by lush green deodar forest. It was a famous tourist spot. The tourists used to enjoy nature at the banks of the lake. They would boat in clam and tranquil waters of the lake. However, at present the lake is dying as it is losing its water storage capacity lost due to rapid silting. Due to silting, the lake is also losing its natural flora and fauna.  

Kaas Lake dam Pune in the red with green brigade  The proposed increase in the height of the dam at Satara’s Kaas Lake may have a potentially huge negative impact on the plateau’s plentiful flora and fauna. Looking at this, the NGT has ordered for a study to be conducted by a specifically appointed committee.

Andhra CM certifies Neeru-Chettu as a miracle Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said the repair and restoration of water bodies taken up under the Neeru-Chettu programme has helped to limit the damage due to the recent rains in south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema. The Government took up works like desiltation, lift irrigation, construction of check dams and farm ponds, spending more than Rs.2000 crore. Besides helping in increasing the irrigated area by nearly 2 lakh acres, the programme aided in raising the ground water table and reducing the impact of the downpour to an extent, Mr. Naidu claimed.

Javadekar becomes first Union Minister to Visit Doyang Lake in Nagaland; Has Bountiful View of Amur Falcons As two of the three Amur falcons tagged with satellite tracking chips last year returned to the north-eastern Indian state of Nagaland, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar has become the first Union Minister to have a bountiful view of Amur Falcons that arrived in Doyang Lake area in Nagaland this morning.

AGRICULUTRE

Ponds–once a lifeline of India’s agriculture–are being revived by some Punjab farmers Farm ponds, rediscovered by a few farmers in Patiala, could be the answer to the state’s growing groundwater crisis as they can harvest rainwater and cushion against flooding. Very interesting that farmers in Patiala (Punjab) are going for farm ponds.

Paddy yield per hectare up 8%, record production expected Punjab received just 336.2 mm rainfall during monsoon 2015, which is 32% below normal, but Area, yield and production of paddy in the state has gone up.

Also see, Bitter crushing season for UP sugar sector For the crushing current season, against farmers’ demand of Rs 350 a quintal, private millers are offering to pay only Rs 190-192 a quintal. Whereas, as country wide base price, Centre has fixed the fair and remunerative price (FRP) around Rs 230 a quintal for this season. But Uttar Pradesh (UP) announces state advised price (SAP) every year, which is usually higher than the FRP to keep farmers in good humour for political reasons which has been challenged by the private mills as arbitrary and against law. The last time SAP was raised in UP was in 2012-13, by 17 per cent to Rs 280 a quintal for common variety. For the subsequent crushing seasons of 2013-14 and 2014-15, SAP had been retained at Rs 280 a quintal. Meanwhile, on November 9, the UP govt. had asked private mills to start crushing by November 20. But UP govt. has not taken final call on SAP price for the 2015-16 crushing season a yet.  

ENERGY OPTIONS

Solar price may be 10% below coal power rates by 2020: report Solar power prices could be 10% lower than coal power prices by 2020 and help revitalize India’s energy sector, said a report released on Monday by consulting firm KPMG. Also see, Government should review auction process of solar power projects, say industry experts

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan seeks Indian consent for neutral expert on Kishanganga, Ratle HEP To initiate a legal battle at the international forum over the faulty designs of the 330-MW Kishanganga HEP being built on the Ganga River in Held Kashmir and the 850-MW Ratle HEP being erected on the Chenab River, Pakistan has formally asked India to give its consent for the appointment of a neutral expert to initiate arbitration. Pakistan’s Foreign Office has written to India, seeking its consent for the appointment of the neutral expert over the designs of the two projects as both countries at the level of the Permanent Commission of Indus Waters have failed to resolve the issue.

Pakistani farmer sues government to curb climate change  Asghar Leghari, a 25-year-old farmer from the Rahim Yar Khan District of Pakistan’s South Punjab region, is taking his government to court after water scarcity and temperature changes from climate change repeatedly destroyed his family’s crops. Mr. Leghari is currently a law student in Lahore, but his family is part of a community of small-scale farmers who are facing poverty because of unpredictable weather shifts caused by climate change.

Governance: Managing Water Resources for Sustainable Development Together with droughts and technical issues, “crisis of governance” is the third critical dimension associated with managing water resources for sustainable development. In sum, water governance is integral to governance itself at many levels of the public administrative hierarchy and managers must come to grips with the slippery slope of coordination.

Also see, Fuel crisis hits construction of hydropower projects in Nepal

CHINA

Sustainability: Transfer project cannot meet China’s water needs A detailed report on how China’s massive water transfer project is not working. It concludes that better local water management is the way to keep pace with escalating demands, not pumping water across the country, warn Jon Barnett and colleagues. 

THE REST OF WORLD

Dam Ideology: A look into Mexico’s grand water diversion project on Gila the last undammed River Interesting statement by Daniel P. Beard, former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation speaking at promotional event of his new book titled Deadbeat Dams. When it comes to water, concrete trumps common sense. Our political leaders “appear to be ostriches with their heads stuck in the bottom of empty reservoirs. We seem to have a need to build something – anything – even when the project makes no sense at all. dams are built for political reasons, rarely economic ones.

To Dam or Not to Dam? 12 Photos of the Mekong River These photographs show the unique landscape of the 4,000 islands area and the essential role the Mekong river plays in residents’ lives.

Adenan told to scrap Baram dam completely if sincere Environmental NGO Save Rivers has called on the Sarawak government to completely scrap the Baram dam project instead of a moratorium, if it was sincere about the plight of the people.  

Biologists race to save fish from Brazil river contaminated by dam collapse So-called Operation Noah’s Ark aims to relocate aquatic life from Doce river by moving fish in tanks provided by mining company Samarco to area lakes Teams of biologists are rushing to rescue fish from a river that was contaminated after two dams at an iron ore mine in Brazil collapsed earlier this month, unleashing a deadly wave of mud.

Let it flood: an Irish wetland experiment A remarkable ecological initiative is under way in Rogerstown Estuary, just north of Dublin. Officials are restoring natural hydrology of the area  by letting floods occur naturally as a climate smart conservation effort. Nearly one kilometre of a 1.5metre-high embankment has been removed to allow high tides to flood on to several acres of estuary grassland. Facilitating localised flooding to absorb increasingly high tides, as at Rogerstown, is a fairly straightforward case; the new habitat will be similar to species-rich marshes long lost to drainage in the area.

The world is running out of WATER and this maps shows where will dry up first  A team of scientists used existing data of 40,000 groundwater models to create the overall picture. The map is the first of its kind to look at the entire Earth’s groundwater supplies. They found there are 23 million cubic kilometres of total groundwater, but only 0.35million cubic kilometres of this was relatively recent at less than 50 years old, meaning it is refilling only very slowly.

Also see, The World Could Run Entirely On Wind, Solar, And Hydro Power By 2050

CLIMATE CHANGE

Threat from Himalayan Glaciers Larger Than Expected Impacts of climate change in river systems are likely to have considerable social, economic, ecological and political implications, according to a new study published in the journal of Regional Environmental Change.

Aslo see हिमालय में हो रहे खतरनाक बदलाव से पड़ने लगा ‘सूखा’ जलवायु परिवर्तन और भूगर्भीय उथल-पुथल का असर हिमालयी क्षेत्र के जलस्रोतों पर पड़ रहा है। पहाड़ों पर शोध कर रहे वैज्ञानिकों को कई क्षेत्रों में सदियों से चले आ रहे परंपरागत जलस्रोत गायब मिले हैं। विज्ञान एवं प्रौद्योगिकी विभाग के अधीन उत्तराखंड स्पेस एप्लीकेशन सेंटर (यूसैक) ने पर्वतीय क्षेत्रों के जल स्रोतों की मैपिंग की है। हिमालयी क्षेत्र के बहुत से जलस्रोतों के सूखने और पानी की मात्रा कम होने केसंबंध में वाडिया हिमालय भू विज्ञान संस्थान के विज्ञानियों ने भी पुष्टि की है।

State action plan on climate change launched in Assam The Assam State Action Plan on Climate Change was formally launched in the city on 20 Nov. 15 to fight the ill effects of climate change. It is part of the Centre’s initiative to implement state-level action plan on climate change which was approved by the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change in October 2015.

Also see, Understanding Climate Change: A Conversation with Michael Mann

ENVIRONMENT

NGT stays construction near Tamhini wildlife sanctuary in Pune Located 70 km from Pune, Tamhini ghat and its surrounding forest area are known for its rich biodiversity. The western region bench of the NGT has ordered a stay on any construction work within 10 km of Tamhini wildlife sanctuary and eco-sensitive zone until the pendency of an application that has challenged such activity.

Natural systems vs ad hoc interventions in conservation A comprehensive study at the initiative of the Wildlife Society of India (WSC) finds that large herbivores like elephants living in the wild have an instinctive preference to natural waterbodies than artificially created waterholes. The study says that creating waterholes without proper research on their impacts could, in fact, be counterproductive to conservation.

Javadekar Announces Formation of Indian Resource Panel Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar has announced the formation of Indian Resource Panel (InRP) on Resource Efficiency here today. On the occasion Shri Javadekar said that the Indian Resource Panel was an important and timely initiative, which shall prepare a strategic roadmap for utilisation of secondary resources for meeting the developmental needs. He added that India is the first country to constitute a National Resource Panel.

Modi government moves to own UPA’s flagship programme Forest Rights Act The Narendra Modi government has moved to take ownership of Congress-led UPA’s flagship programme Forest Rights Act. The PMO has set a deadline of December 31 to all states to settle land right claims of forest dwellers that have been pending for years. The ministry of tribal affairs has written to all states to settle claims pending before them and give land titles to deserving forest dwellers by December 31. So far, the states have received 44 lakh claims and have settled 86.64% claims.

Simply put: Surplus, shortages go together in Power paradox The explanation for this situation lies in the state of the state-owned power distribution companies, or discoms, which are responsible for buying electricity from the generation companies and selling them to consumers.

A clean-up act with a short sweep Op-Ed in The Hindu by Neha Sinha The Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill is the first step in quantifying and penalising environmental damage  but it falls short in gauging the scope and ramifications.  There are questions related to both science and perception. While science and laboratory tests can determine impact on health, there must be larger consensus on whether we want to go beyond the perception of pollution as constituting environmental damage. Protecting the environment is a Fundamental Duty under the Constitution. How we begin to perceive the incommensurable damage caused to Nature and the environment requires more attention and application. Also read, What Lies behind Environmental Law Making by Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli  from CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program.

One Comment on “DRP News Bulletin 23, Nov. 2015 – Uttar Pradesh declares 50 districts as drought hit

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