DRP News Bulletin 30 Nov. 2015 (Delhi does not need Renuka Dam, Sharda-Yamuna linking: Kapil Misra, Delhi Water Minister)

Kapil Misra

Speaking during India Rivers Day- 2015 Kapil Misra said that Delhi does not require any more water from external sources such as the Renuka Dam or Sharda Yamuna River link.  The minister also assured that the Yamuna’s water will be improved within three years to make it good enough to bathe in. He raised doubts over expensive sewerage projects and felt need building of smaller and decentralised sewerage management system. The India Rivers Day brought together several individuals and organisations who have been working on the issues of river conservation in the country.

RIVERS  

INDIA RIVERS DAY- 2015 दिल्ली को ना तो रेणुका बाॅध चाहिए, ना ही यमुना-शारदा नदी जोड़ योजनाः कपिल मिश्रा जल मंत्री दिल्ली सरकार दिल्ली के जल संकट को दूर करने के लिए हमें कोई रेणुका बांध की जरूरत है और ही किसी नई नहर परियोजना की। दिल्लीवालों की प्यास बुझाने के लिए हमें ठोस जल प्रबंधन की आवश्यकता है। दिल्ली के जल मंत्री कपिल मिश्रा ने शनिवार को इंटेक ऑडिटोरियम में आयोजित इंडिया रिवर्स डे के मौके पर यह बातें कहीं। बता दें कि भविष्य में दिल्ली में बढ़ती मांग को देखते हुए प्रस्तावित रेणुका बांध से दिल्ली में पानी लाने की तैयारी की जा रही है। अन्य परियोजनाओं के लिए भी दिल्ली जल बोर्ड के अधिकारी प्रयासरत हैं। कपिल मिश्रा का मानना है कि वर्तमान में दिल्ली को मिल रहे पानी के सही ढंग से उपयोग करने से ही जल संकट दूर हो जाएगा।

Also see, भारत नदी दिवस 2015 : एक रिपोर्ट India Water Portal Blog by Arun Tiwari on India Rivers Day-2015. Also read the entire press release of the India Rivers Day 2015 on SANDRP blog.

‘Yamuna in Okhla was best fishing ground’ According to Delhi Gazetteers of 1883-84 and 1912, the best known fishing ground in Yamuna was Okhla “where the weir ensures deep water and collection of food” for the fish. Today, Okhla has no freshwater, just untreated sewage. The extracts, on display at an exhibition on Past, Present and Future of Yamuna, are proof of the rich biodiversity along the Yamuna that had been wiped out completely.  

Also read Yamuna River Story a SANDRP Blog on River Yamuna on occasion of India River Day-2015.

GANGA Surface cleaning of Ganga to begin from January 2016 Ministry of water resources has planned four entry level activities for cleaning the Ganga. First one is surface cleaning, then ghat modernization and fixing the sewage with the help of private players. Lastly a scientific study on ecological flow to work out the amount of water that should be diverted and should be left for its ecological functions. Only wish if they could reverse the order and resolve the issue of ecological flow first.

NGT summon UP, Uttarakhand officials over Ramganga, Koshi and Dhela rivers pollution The officials who have been asked to be present in the matter belong to various departments, including Central Pollution Control Board,, state pollution control boards and UP Jal Nigam. NGT also asked UP and Uttarakhand authorities to submit a map and mark the total number of drains releasing untreated waste into the Ramganga at varied points. NGT further directed the UPPCB to appraise it on the compliance of closure notice issued to 28 factories in Moradabad. Concerned officials from both states are directed to be present on November 26. Also see,  No dearth of funds for ‘Clean Ganga’ mission: Nitin Gadkari

YAMUNA High Court Delhi ordered DTC to vacate millennium depot by 27 Jan. 2016 Great to see this Delhi High Court order, a victory for Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan’s relentless efforts, hope the order gets implemented soon. During 2010 Commonwealth Games Village, the 50 acres land of Yamuna River was allotted for 10 ten days as bus parking. But later on Delhi Transport Corporation refused to vacate it. Though the court expressed its willingness to direct police to vacate the site if it was not vacated in the given time, it did not issue any such direction after the lawyer for DTC said 500 buses have been shifted out and only 300 remained. 

HYDRO

HIMACHAL PRADESH Panvi tribals Kinnaur launch protest march against 9 MW Ralla-Taranda hydro project The fear of losing their houses and a government primary school forced Panvi tribals to march to the state capital Shimla. They say the blasting in the underground power house and the tunnel of the 9 mw Ralla-Taranda project in Kinnaur will render them homeless. The tribals, including women, protested in front of the office of the Directorate of Energy. They have now constituted the Panvi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti to save their village located above the Panvi Khud, a tributary of the Sutlej river in Kinnaur. They also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, asking him to order the scrapping of the project.

Blast at 450 MW Shongtong-Karcham hydropower project in Kannur kills two The blast occurred in the morning of 28 Nov. when an engineer was inspecting dynamite installed to carry out a blast. Hydro power projects are continue on killing spree in Himachal on the night of 18 Nov. this month three people were killed at 100-MW Sorang power project in Kinnaur district due to burst in an inlet valve. In June this year, three engineers were killed while fixing a new turbine at the 2-MW Rongtong hydroelectric plant near Kaza town in Lahaul-Spiti district.

CPM leaders rally behind protesting tribals The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today came out in support of the tribals of Kinnaur who have been opposing the construction of power projects, including the 1,200 mw Karcham-Wangtoo, 100 mw Sorang, 9 mw Ralla-Taranda in the Sutlej basin. The CPM needs to raise these issues more consistently and also at national level, which they are not doing.

Also see, pics from Dev Bhoomi facebook photo album on rampant land sliding in Kinnaur due to ongoing tunneling and blasting for the hydro project  

UTTARAKHAND WII initiates study on Climate Change in Bhagirathi region  Team of 22 scientists will be conducting studies on different species of flora and in fauna, species with regard to mammals, insects, amphibians, raptiles etc will be studied. After first two years of developing baseline data in Bhagirathi, the same team of WII scientists will then carry study in Teesta region of Sikkim of Eastern Himalaya. The news report don’t brief whether the team will also study aquatic life of Bhagirathi river and the impact of hydro power projects on aquatic ecology. Hope the team will be looking into these aspects also.

ASSAM Lower Subansiri hydel project unacceptable Dr Bhagawatpran Duarah, Prof & Head of Dept of Geology, Gauhati University, said that the Lower Subansiri Hydro-electric Project in its current form was not acceptable.

DAMS 

Over 1700 small dams under utilized in want of repairs: RTI According to RTI reply, 1735 (mini) dams in Beed, Jalna and Aurangabad districts in Marathawada in Maharashtra are in need of Rs 10 lakh per dam on an average for repair, and can add about 10 ha per dam to irrigated area, that is costing Rs 1 lakh per ha of additional irrigation.

Fadnavis assures to solve rehabilitation issue of Barvi Dam PAP The Chief Minister said he would convene a meeting of Commissioners and Mayors of the civic bodies and the senior officials of departments concerned in this regard. The height of the Barvi dam was increased from 38.10 metres to 66.50 metres in 1999. The proposed move to raise this further to 72 m hit a roadblock due to opposition from villagers. Around 750 residents of the six villages around the dam would be displaced in accordance with the plan. They have pressed for their demand of a government job to one member of each family, besides monetary compensation.

Also see, NGT reserves verdict on plea against Renuka Dam 

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

MP undertakes first ever count of vultures in state  Ken-Betwa (KB) link project is all set to submerge a huge part one of best vulture habitats, in Panna park. The exercise was carried out regularly only in Panna , said a senior officer, who is associated with ongoing exercise. At last count, 1,400 vultures were estimated in Panna. KB link will submerge 60% of habitat of magnificent Egyptian vulture; forest department informed the state wildlife board meeting on September 22 this year.

India’s first river linking project will drown its precious tigers The ambitious plan will obliterate over 200sqkm of the Panna tiger reserve and all the wildlife within it. Excellent article on impact of Ken Betwa River Link on Panna Tiger Reserve and Ken River.  

IRRIGATION

MAHARASHTRA IRRIGATION SCAM ACB close to wrapping up Rs 3,000cr dam scam probe The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) is collating documents relating to the Lower Penganga irrigation project where contracts worth Rs 3,000 crore were hurriedly awarded to politically connected contractors when Ajit Pawar was water resources minister. The bureau is likely to complete its investigation, which could lead to prosecution, in a few months.

Probe ACB delay in filing irrigation scam charges: Fadnavis  Stung by widespread criticism after two accused in the multi-crore Balganga irrigation project scam walked out on bail, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday asked additional chief secretary K P Bakshi to probe the failure of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to file a chargesheet within the stipulated 90 days.

Also see, Senior lawyer associated with Maharashtra irrigation scam found dead 

SAND MINING

Sand Mafia Tries to Mow Down Three ‘Talathis’ in Maharashtra  Suspected sand mafia allegedly tried to kill three junior revenue officials by running over a tractor on them when they attempted to intercept it at Mankeshwar village in the east Maharashtra district. The talathis (junior revenue officials) sustained injuries in the incident which occurred last night, whereas the driver of the tractor and his aides managed to escape from the spot. The talathis were trying to intercept the tractor, suspected to be transporting illegally mined sand from Painganga river between Brahmangaon and Kopra at Mankeshwar village.

FLOOD

Why Chennai drowned this monsoon The extreme heavy monsoon rain in Chennai this November highlights the city’s vulnerability to climate change and also the skewed development that has upset the fragile environmental balance and made it prone to floods. This article comprehensively looks at the factors that lead to the increased vulnerability of Chennai to the floods as happened recently.

Also see, Ignore Hydrology at Your Peril A fundamental principle of hydrology says that whenever there is heavy rain, or a cyclone, natural waterbodies and inter-linked drainage systems hold back some water, use that to replenish groundwater and release excess water into larger waterbodies—oceans and big rivers. Chennai’s planners and its real estate boom ignored this axiom. The Velachery area, one of the worst-affected by the floods, is a case in point. The area that derives its name from its abundant waterbodies—eri means lake in Tamil—has seen a real estate boom in the last 15 years. A lot of it has come at the cost of lakes and waterbodies. Velachery today has Chennai’s largest mall, the Phoenix mall, that stands on what was once a lakebed.

DROUGHT

Rural distress worsens across India Telangana 9th state to declare drought, adding to the agrarian crisis and posing a threat to the rural economy. Telangana has declared a drought in parts of the state, becoming the ninth state this year to do so, highlighting the agrarian crisis that could cause a likely fall in the production of rain-fed crops such as pulses, oilseeds and cotton, and result in a further slowing of the rural economy. According to a state government order issued on 24 Nov. 231 mandals (sub-districts) spread across seven out of 10 Telangana districts—Mahabubnagar, Medak, Nizamabad, Ranga Reddy, Nalgonda, Warangal and Karimnagar—were declared drought affected.

India: Where Drought Is Just Another ‘File Noting’ By Asian Human Rights Commission. It rightly say that What the farmers need is an effective mechanism that operates in real time, which reaches them when they need it the most. What they got is one that operates like the monsoons that fail them in the first place, come seasonally and often fail again.

Also see, Fickle weather adding to farm distress, say experts India’s agriculture sector is in distress, and with the rise in extreme weather events, farmers have been at the receiving end and hence, they need better protection measures than ever before, said experts at the National Consultation on Crop Loss Estimation, Relief and Compensation organised by the Centre for Science and Environment. The report “Lived Anomaly” — on the impact of extreme weather events on farmers and how to enable them to cope with extreme weather events — was released at the event.

WATER

India’s Water Management Needs to be Dealt with Utmost Attention and Seriousness-Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat Inaugurating the first meeting of the Indo-European Water Forum in New Delhi, Union Minister of State for Water Resources, Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat said India’s water management is becoming increasingly difficult task day by day due to increasing and competing demand from various sectors. The Minister said India has made significant strides in development of water resources since independence however, the approach was mostly project centric and sources based without much emphasis on the ecological and pollution aspects. This has resulted into water over-use, water pollution and unhealthy competition amongst multiple sectors. Therefore, proper allocation management of the demand and efficient measures for use are urgently needed.

GROUNDWATER

18 Varanasi villages protest against Coca-Cola for groundwater depletion Eighteen village councils in Uttar Pradesh are demanding a local Coca-Cola bottling plant be prohibited from extracting water from the ground, claiming its over usage has led to water scarcity in the area, said an environmental campaign group. The villages, which are located in Mehdiganj area of Varanasi district — the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — claim they have been facing water shortages since 1999 when the plant began operations.  Mehdiganj is largely agrarian and communities here rely on groundwater to meet most of their needs, including for personal drinking and washing, irrigation and for livestock.  Coca Cola uses the same groundwater source to meet its production needs placing it in direct competition with the local community, environmentalists say.

All industries will have to take NOC to draw groundwater: CGWA guidelines  This seems good, but considering the VERY POOR track record of CGWA in this (they have routinely licensed water intensive and non essential water extracting activities in over exploited/ dark / drought hit zones in the past), it could create another corruption mechanism unless all the applications, CGWA meeting minutes, decisions and monitoring reports are put in public domain and decisions involve independent, non govt people.

LAKES & WETLANDS

UP forest dept to organise bird festival in three wetlands from December 4-6 The Uttar Pradesh forest department will provide a special opportunity for the public to enjoy birding and know more about wildlife through a statewide bird festival at three wetlands — Okhla, Surajpur and Dhanauri Kalan — from December 4-6.

Rampant constructions, unchecked siltation causing Naini lake level fall alarmingly The experts also pointed out that the depth of the Naini lake is now only 28 meters due to debris and silt deposited at its base hampering the natural course of slow drainage through underground micro canals like structures. Naini lake, the identity and soul of the Nainital town lies ignored for around two decades as no comprehensive research has been done since 1995 to study changes and requirements to preserve the lake and surrounding key water bodies. According experts rampant construction since last two-three decades has plagued the natural recharge zones of the Naini lake including Sukhataal lake basin.

ENERGY OPTIONS

India’s renewable energy stats State-wise break-up of renewable power target to be achieved by 2022. Solar Power installed capacity in India has outstripped that from small hydro.

SOUTH ASIA

Review of Bhutan Hydro power policies: Gaping holes in hydropower polices Good to see Independent review and assessment of Bhutan Hydropower policy that also raises questions about local development, cost escalations, geological surprises, inadequate assessments, lack of local expertise development and accountability. Bhutan is clearly AHEAD OF INDIA here.

Shedding light on truths about Kukuleganga, Hulkiridola hydro projects Mini Hydel Projects, deforestation and conflicting land rights. Looks like its happening in Srilanka too.

THE REST OF ASIA

Mekong: a river rising The fate of 70 million people rests on what happens to the Mekong river. With world leaders meeting in Paris next week for crucial UN climate talks, John Vidal journeys down south-east Asia’s vast waterway  a place that encapsulates some of the dilemmas they must solve. He meets people struggling to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as the ecological havoc created by giant dams, deforestation, coastal erosion and fast-growing cities. Excellent and Exhaustive report and embedded interviews by John Vidal, Guardian’s Environment Editor on Hydropower and Mekong and what is holds for Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is important to highlight the true face of large hydropower even as the Paris Summit may seem too keen to certify all hydro as clean, green and sustainable.

CLIMATE CHANGE   

Climate Change and India: Adaptation GAP (2015) This IIM-Ahmedabad working paper concludes that ADAPTATION GAP is increasing and lists districts that are facing the prospects of extreme climate change.

Artificial glaciers help Ladakh tackle effects of climate change The artificial glacier is an intricate network of channels and structures built on the upper slope of a valley to divert water from the main river of the glacier melt and then freeze it in winter in cascades which melt in summer in time for the sowing season.

Weather-related disasters becoming more frequent: UN report An average of 335 weather-related disasters were recorded per year between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14 % from 1995-2004. The report, entitled The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, also found the five countries hit by the highest number of disasters were the US, China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia. Flooding alone accounted for almost half of all weather related disasters between 1995 and 2015, affecting 2.3 billion people, out of which 95% live in Asia. Very revealing, and worrying.

Climate Change Is Going to Wreak Havoc on World Agriculture Some groups are concerned that agriculture doesn’t appear to be a topic up for discussion at the upcoming Paris climate talks. Sidelining the issue, they argue, could ignore its importance in a climate change-impacted world.

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