DRP News Bulletin 21 Dec. 2015 (100 people have a narrow escape as Ganga level rises after sudden release from Tehri Dam)

100 people have a narrow escape as Ganga level rises after sudden release from Tehri Dam More than a 100 people who were attending a religious discourse had a narrow escape when the water level rose suddenly in the Ganga River in the temple town of Rishikesh. According to the police, the water level increased after Tehri Dam released water, a routine exercise that is done after informing officials concerned. CD Anthwal, circle officer Rishikesh told HT that the people attending the religious discourse were rescued with the help personnel of the Jal Police (water police).

गंगा में प्रशासनिक अलर्ट की पोल खुली गंगा का जलस्तर अचानक बढ़ने से गोकथा सुनने आए तीन सौ श्रद्धालुओं की जान खतरे में पड़ने के बाद अलर्ट सिस्टम की भी पोल खुल गई। 1 मानसून के वक्त केंद्र जल आयोग जलस्तर बढ़ने का अलर्ट जारी करता है। शेष दिनों में अलर्ट व्यवस्था भगवान भरोसे चल रही है। इस बात की पोल शुक्रवार को त्रिवेणी घाट पर अचानक बढ़े जलस्तर से खुल गई। गंगा का जलस्तर बढ़ने से तीन सौ श्रद्धालु त्रिवेणी घाट व जलधारा के बीच फंस गए। 1 हर कोई टीएचडीसी को जलस्तर वृद्धि के लिए कारण मान रहा था। प्रशासन की मानें तो श्रीनगर से अलकनंदा में भी पानी छोड़ा गया, जिससे ये हालात पैदा हुए। उप जिलाधिकारी अरविंद कुमार पांडे ने बताया कि टीएचडीसी के अधिकारियों से पूछे जाने पर बताया गया कि टिहरी बांध से नियमित पानी छोड़ा गया था। उधर केंद्रीय जल आयोग अवर अभियंता विनोद पाल के मुताबिक मानसून के वक्त गंगा के चेतावनी रेखा के छूने पर ही विभाग अलर्ट जारी कर देता है। सामान्य दिनों में बांध प्रबंधन की प्रशासन को सूचित करने की जिम्मेदारी है।

Also see, त्रिवेणी घाट में टापू पर फंसे 300 श्रद्धालु तीर्थनगरी की हृदयस्थली त्रिवेणी घाट स्थित टापू पर चल रही गो कथा सुनने पहुंचे तीन सौ श्रद्धालु उस वक्त मुसीबत में फंस गए, जब अचानक गंगा का जलस्तर बढ़ गया और टापू पर जाने वाली पुलिया भी बह गई। पुलिस ने रेस्क्यू कर टापू पर फंसे सभी श्रद्धालुओं को सुरक्षित बाहर निकाला।  त्रिवेणी घाट पर इन दिनों प्रख्यात कथावाचक संत गोपालमणि महाराज की धेनुमानस गो कथा जारी है। कथा यज्ञ के दूसरे दिन शुक्रवार को श्रद्धालु कथा सुनने पहुंचे थे। दोपहर करीब बारह बजे अचानक गंगा का जलस्तर बढ़ने लगा। देखते ही देखते तटों तक पानी पहुंच गया। यहां तक तो सब कुछ ठीक था, मगर पानी इतना बढ़ गया कि टापू के ऊपर बने कथास्थल तक पहुंच गया, जिससे यहां श्रद्धालुओं में हड़कंप मच गया। श्रद्धालु जब घर की ओर लौटने लगे तो अचानक छोटी धारा पर बनी पुलिया भी पानी में बह गई।

HYDRO POWER

Water, Environment and Technocracy Article by Himanshu Thakkar in IIT Bombay Alumni Association’s quarterly magazine FUNDAMATICS Technocrats have been the most significant players in the world of water resources development and management. They are the ones who plan, conceive, design, build, operate and manage our water resources from dams, hydro-power projects, urban and industrial water supply systems, including the sewage and effluent treatment plants. So in this world there are neat categories like users of water and suppliers of water, and solutions, similar to any other resource use say energy, telecom, roads or goods. There are issues of resource scarcity, efficiency, quality, allocation of scarce resource, and regulation and there are business models to deal with them. One key difference, however, unlike in case of other resources mentioned above, is that storage, use, development, management, and disposal of used water has impacts on the environment. Our water technocrat would say yes, of course we know this. So there are environment impact assessments and environment management plans.

Large hydropower projects are not safe Article in Down to Earth by Peter Bosshard and Himanshu Thakkar.  Due to dam building, freshwater ecosystems are more affected by species extinction than marine or land-based ecosystems. Climate change is a huge threat because of its impacts on critical ecosystems that are threatened by dam building. Even if hydropower reservoirs did not produce methane, damming up rivers to mitigate climate change would amount to sacrificing the planet’s arteries to save her lungs. Our analysis shows that hydro power generated per mw installed capacity in India has gone down by 20 per cent in the past two decades. Eighty-nine per cent of projects generate below their promised generation as per techno economic clearances and half of the under-performing projects generate below half the promised level. There is no agency in India to monitor as to how much of the power generation from hydro is providing peaking power.

Hydro power dips 3.9 per cent owing to scanty rains Year 2015 marked by dry spell and low rains saw a fall by 3.9 percent in overall hydro power generation during April to November as the state run utilities bucks the trend. Although central power sector PSUs and private companies reported of recorded increase in generation.

JAMMU & KASHMIR Baglihar reservoir cause for concern VERY serious situation seem to be developing around Baglihar Hydro Project in J&K. Uncertainty is increasing in the twin districts of Doda and Kishtwar, where the threat of a huge disaster is becoming a major concern for the populace. Water has entered deep inside the mountains with the area being home to different kinds of stone, including lime and gypsum, for which water is a great threat. Soil erosion had started within months of the creation of the reservoir and sinking of a portion of a 100-metre road near Assar in January 2009 was its first evidence. This 900-MW power project is fast turning the area into a no-habitation zone with huge mountains ‘merging’ into the Chenab slowly and steadily.

CPP Chairman criticizes NHPC for Dul Hasti Project MoU violations Criticizing NHPC authorities Joginder Bhandari Chairman Chinar Power Projects Workers Union District Kishtwar stated that NHPC is not providing power, road connectivity, drainage system, hospital, free education, drinking water, employment to affected land owners, schlorship etc within the radious of five kilometer of Dul Hasti Project as per the project agreement between NHPC and locals. He also said that employment in the said project was provided to outsiders at the cost of those whose land has been acquired for the said project even the land occupied on rent basis at Dool Dam site for CISF purpose has not been paid rent since its occupation.

HIMACHAL NHPC Closes Parbati Project Till Feb for Repair, Maintenance Hydro power major NHPC on 14 Dec. said it will temporary shut down its 520 MW Parbati project in Himachal Pradesh till February next year for carrying out repair and maintenance.  VERY STRANGE to see this power station that was commissioned only in Feb/ March and May 2014 (one unit in each of these months) is already going into two months maintenance. There is clearly more to it than this.

DAM

Pattiseema is just for favoring contractors Chandrababu Naidu’s latest tactic to fleece money from the Center is likely to boomerang. When the Polavaram project was included in the AP Reorganization Act, Pattiseema was not at all in the equation. It was launched by the Naidu administration after coming to power amid much controversy. Pattiseema is an absolute waste if Polavaram is being executed. In other words, Pattiseema is just for favoring contractors. When special status promised publicly in Parliament is being denied because it is not included in AP Reorganization Act, how can Naidu expect the Center to pay for Pattiseema as well? It is unethical and reflects poorly on the image of AP. Even Andhra Media is publicly writing that Centre should not fund Pattiseema as “Pattiseema is just for favoring contractors”.

Villagers oppose proposed Anga Dam project in western Odisha Having gone apprehensive going by the untold miseries undergone by the Hirakud Dam oustees in 1950s, thousands of villagers on 18 Dec held a rally and demonstration at the sub-divisional headquarters town of Padampur in western Odisha’s Bargarh district. As per reports the Odisha Government is mulling to go in for the project like the Lower Suktel in Balangir district. Following this development, 32 villages under the sub-division, about to be evacuated, have turned apprehensive and resorted to protest. They declared that they are not going to spare even an inch for the project. The protestors later submitted a memorandum addressed to the Odisha Chief Minister with the Padmapur Sub-Collector.  Also see, Odisha Villagers Differ on Ongoing Medium Irrigation Project 

Jayakwadi dam releases water for Majalgaon An order dated October 17 by the Godavari Marathwada Irrigation Development Corporation (GMIDC) forms the basis for release of water for Majalgaon. According to authorities, around 25% share of the water received by Jayakwadi from upstream dams located in Ahmednagar and Nashik districts is for Majalgaon major irrigation project. Jayakwadi project has received around 6.67 TMC water from upstream dams so far, of which 12.84 TMC water is for Majalgaon. So water releases from upstream dams to the downstream has started in Maharashtra.

Also see, PM’s help to be sought to raise Kunnar dam height

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTE

AP, Telangana get available Krishna water in 1:2 ratio Important decisions. A crucial meeting of the Krishna River Water Management Board on 16 Dec. allocated the 30 tmcft water available in Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar reservoirs in the ratio of 1:2 at 10 tmcft and 20 tmcft for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana respectively till fresh inflows in July. The meeting under the chairmanship of S.G.K. Pandit who will retire this month-end decided not to take up the issue of bringing projects in Krishna basin under the jurisdiction of the board as it could lead to heated arguments and derail the agenda. Similarly, the stand of the States on new projects and power generation were also not discussed. Instead, the meeting took up safety of Srisailam dam to guard against heavy flood as seen a few years ago and recommendations made by an expert panel. It was decided to approach the Central Water Commission to explore appointment of consultants for the work.

AFTER CHENNAI FLOODS

Flood Disasters: Chennai a snooze alarm To lay a good drainage plan for a city and implement the same, you need skilled planning, designing as well as execution engineers. Unfortunately, planning engineers are almost a non-existing breed, at least in the area of hydraulics, flood engineering and public health engineering. The situation with design engineers may be a slight shade better. In India only about a dozen flood engineering courses are offered and lesser is the count of public health engineering courses. We churn out too few professionals who have the technical knowledge to comprehend, plan design and execute such specialised works. Youngsters in India want to be software and IT engineers.

Chennai, a wake-up call for Mumbai Unplanned rampant urbanisation, loss of water bodies due to encroachments, dilapidated water drainage systems that lead to silting and choking can lead to flooding in heavy rain. Landfills, reclamation and quarrying of hills to meet so-called development needs have altered the city’s topography completely. BMC’s much-debated Brihanmumbai Storm-water Drainage (Brimstowad) project, which aims to upgrade the old system, is behind schedule.Meanwhile, the project cost has escalated to Rs 4,000 crore from the initial Rs 1,200 crore estimate. Eight pumping stations with heavy duty pumps to discharge storm-water were also planned, of which four have been commissione. Mithi’s development and its protection are also moving at a snail’s pace.

Chennai floods a climate change wake-up call for world The Chennai disaster is being called a “perfect storm,” a shining example of what can happen when climate change meets poor urban planning. Millions were left without food and clean water and some of India’s largest industries were devastated — all while the leaders of the world were talking about climate change in Paris. However, the worst flooding in the world this year, the economic loss from which is expected to amount to $3 billion, has received remarkable inattention.

Also see, Power Project May Pave Way for Another Chennai at Cheyyur, Claim Activists

Salt pans submerged in Vedaranyam Tamil Nadu About 9,000 acres of salt pans in and around Vedaranyam have been submerged with rain waters following the onset of the monsoon in the district over the past three weeks. With the northeast monsoon bringing bountiful showers to the district in general and Vedaranyam in particular, the salt pans have been fully covered with rainwater in the past three weeks, throwing the workers out of job. Of 9,000 acres of land, 6,000 acres are under production by private firms while the balance 3,000 acres has been under salt production by 700 farmers. Salt production at Vedaranyam has a unique feature as a large number of small farmers are involved in producing the salt, unlike Gujarat or Tuticorin where big farmers are involved in producing it. Following the suspension of production at the salt pans, the price of salt has registered a sharp rise in recent weeks.

Also see, Chennai floods: The day city went under water, who did what and who didn’t

NASA images show how area around Somasila Reservoir in South Andhra were affected by heavy rains in first week of Dec 2015 In early December 2015, a deluge of rain led to widespread flooding in southeastern India. One estimate, based on data from a satellite that makes measurements through the cloud layers, found that rainfall totals over the region approached 400 millimeters (16 inches) during a 48-hour period. According to a news report on December 2, almost 1,000 cubic meters of water per second were pouring into Somasila Reservoir.

Delhi: Urban flood management in Delhi’s changing climate A UN panel report on climate change in April 2014 placed Delhi among three of the world’s largest cities that are at high risk of floods; the other two being Tokyo and Shanghai. The report says river floodplains need to be secured to be able to adapt to extreme weather and recommends setting aside buffer zones along rivers instead of “hard defences” like channelisation or dams. Himanshu Thakkar of the SANDRP said there are five main reasons which make Delhi prone to floods – depletion of water bodies, deforestation, increase in concretisation, climate change and encroachment on the Yamuna catchment. Experts added Delhi used to have a little over 800 water bodies but a majority either vanished or were encroached on. “The way the city has invaded its floodplains in the form of advance bunds and raising of structures like Akshardham, CWG village, Metro and bus depot, a Chennai redux is more than likely,” Thakkar added.

Kolkata: Vanishing water bodies pushing City of Joy to tears Canals, thought to be an invaluable drainage system, especially in the low-lying areas, are fast disappearing in Kolkata . At many places, these have been converted into parking spaces and extensions of the road. As a result, large stretches of the city are already getting inundated during monsoon. If the city were to witness Chennai-like rains, the result would be disastrous. These old ‘khal’ or canal systems have acted as an effective drainage system for Kolkata for centuries. Many wastewater conduits – storm-water drains, sewers and canals – are silted. Besides, gully pits have been blocked and there is a time lag for water to reach the pumping stations. This leads to flooding on the surface.

Hyderabad: ost lakes make Hyderabad live on a prayer  The Kirloskar Committee, set up by the state government to study the flood, found the drainage system inadequate as it was designed for rainfall of up to 12 mm per hour. The committee also put the blame on illegal encroachment of natural water courses, dumping of garbage in open drains, construction of housing colonies in the foreshores of tanks, and disappearance of flood-absorbing tanks, among others.

Bengaluru: Why the Garden City is submerged under apathy Bengaluru’s unrealistic growth (unplanned urbanisation) clearly highlights administrators and decision-makers’ lack of knowledge of landscape management to mitigate water-related eventualities. The city has natural valleys and artificial storm-water drains built in the 1950s and 1960s to move water away from low-lying regions that were prone to flooding. These canals connected lakes across the city. In the past three decades, a majority of the lakes have been encroached upon illegally and sometimes with the sanction of the government, too.

Tamil Nadu: Agrarian crisis brewing in Cuddalore’s hinterland, post-rains Cuddalore bore the brunt of Tsunami that killed 640 people in December 2004 across the district’s 57-kilometer coastline and was subsequently hit hard by multiple cyclones including Nilam, and Thane. The cup of woe is brimming with the recent round of rains and floods.  Farmers’ woes have not receded with the fall in the level of flood waters. Ryots in Visur and Periyakattupalayam battle the double whammy of water-logging and huge mounds of river sand over the crops that are now reduced to just chaff. Following the recent rains, huge tracts of paddy, cane and tapioca farm lands have now become striking red-sand farms going up to over five feet in several areas.

IRRIGATION

In parched Maharashtra thirsty cane crops swallow bulk of dam water In a state which faces repeated droughts and is infamous for the highest number of farmer suicides in the country, here is a surprising statistic. The largest share of water from state’s damsas much as 74% goes to agriculture. A key reason is that Maharashtra’s politically powerful sugarcane lobby corners the bulk of irrigation water. Sugarcane is grown in roughly 6% of the state’s farm-land. But it gets 70% of the irrigation water said economist Vijay Paranjpye of the Gomukh Trust. Others like water expert Pradeep Purandare point out that more than 50% of the state’s sugarcane is grown in the command area of irrigation projects, leaving little water downstream for other crops. Besides, a large share of the water that is released by reservoirs is lost in transit. As much as 20% of the water assigned to farming disappears through evaporation losses. In fact, critics allege that irrigation efficiency in the state is as low as 25-40%. Also see, Maharashtra plans to revive traditional water resources

Neglect tells on irrigation canals in East Godavari The canal network is about 8,000 km in the Godavari delta putting together the East and West Godavari districts. Though the engineering officials are in sufficient numbers, acute shortage of ‘Laskars,’ a post created by the British to ensure checking and cleaning of canals at the village-level, is causing difficulties in the water distribution.  At present, only 376 Laskars are working in the entire Godavari delta, as 1,076 posts are vacant. Non-recruitment of staff in the vacancies owing to retirement has affecting badly the Laskar system and the water management at the village level. The water released into the distributary network from the main canals is not reaching the end users in the given quantities, owing to lack of supervision at the ground-level.

Irrigation Plan Fails Miserably in Odisha Even as 120 blocks of Odisha do not have irrigation facility for about 35 per cent of the cultivable area, the State Government’s mega lift irrigation programme has failed to create additional irrigation potential. The State Government had announced its plan in 2010 to create additional irrigation potential for about three lakh hectares (ha) in rain-fed areas in five years through mega lift irrigation projects. However, only one project has been executed at Loitara under Kesinga block in Kalahandi district. The Government had planned to set up 100 mega lift irrigation projects. It took up 28 projects in the first phase in 2013 with an estimated cost of `685 crore to provide irrigation to rainfed areas of Kalahandi, Balangir, Sonepur and Boudh districts.

Gujarat got Rs 2,928 crore for irrigation programme in last 3 fiscals  As per the statement tabled by Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sanwar Lal Jat in the Rajya Sabha, the Central government released grants of Rs 1,285.93 crore, Rs 607.57 crore and Rs 1,033.94 crore in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively. Jat presented the details in Rajya Sabha while replying to a question raised by Nathwani on 14 Dec. 15.

Also see, Jharkhand gets Rs. 604 cr for Irrigation, Rs. 77.57 Cr for Watershed: Centre

RIVER

Govt mulling law to cap water usage: Uma Bharti Water resources minister Uma Bharti has said that the government is mulling to enact a law to put a cap on the usage of river water as well as underground water. In order to set parameters over the usage of river water and underground water there is a need for legislation, therefore, a committee has been formed and we are studying the laws and rules of Netherlands and Bangladesh in this regard said Uma Bharati. As per the Constitution, water is a state subject, hence, we want to come up with a law with the nod of the states, she said. The water ministry also said that she is of the firm view that polluted water once treated (purified), should not be released into rivers, but should be reused.

Brahmaputra basin alert A first of its kind, the atlas released by David Molden, director-general of ICIMOD, offers a comprehensive, regional understanding of the changing climate and its impact on water resources in five of the major river basins in the region – the Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganga, Salween and Mekong – and will help develop solutions and take necessary action to deal with changes in the region. The Brahmaputra undergoes a dramatic reduction in altitude as it passes through one of the world’s deepest gorges in the Himalayas and enters the Assam plains, depositing large amounts of sediment downstream.

India’s nuclear industry pours its wastes into a river of death and disease Scientists say nuclear workers, village residents, and children living near mines and factories are falling ill after persistent exposure to unsafe radiation. How India’s nuclear industry is spreading its pollution to people and rivers. Around the villages of Jadugoda and out in the flood plain of the Subarnarekha River, however, residents told us repeatedly these words had lost their meaning. “Inside UCIL, they see themselves as under siege, defending the nation, one atom at a time,” Biruli said, “and outside we are absorbing those atoms and whatever else the corporation spews out from its broken pipes and dams. We’re drinking it all up, feeding it to our kids, and our wives, if they can conceive, are absorbing them into their blood stream. Also see, Leaking Jaduguda mine poses radioactive risk: US report

Experts sound alarm as Jharkhand rivers lose oxygen The CPCB had monitored the water quality at 31 locations on 14 rivers of Jharkhand. Of these, 14 locations on eight rivers — Bokaro, Damodar, Jumar, Karo, Koel, North Koel, Sankh and Subernarekha — are not complying with the water quality criteria. Regional in-charge of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) Gopal Sharma said that industrial effluents and municipal wastes are blamed for rising pollution in rivers that is true. But, deficit rainfall and surplus use of river water for various purposes are also responsible for rising BOD in river water. diarrohea, dysentery and ulcer. And, bathing could cause skin diseases,” he said.”

NARMADA Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel to inaugurate ‘Statue of Unity’ foundation raft concrete work This project has no clearances, it is right in the middle of the river bed, on the border with Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary, it has no impact assessment, no public consultations, there is an NGT case pending, but the CM is going to go ahead and inaugurate foundation work.

चार हजार करोड़ रुपए से प्रदूषण मुक्त होगी नर्मदा एनजीटीको दिए गए प्रेजेंटेशन के अनुसार मध्यप्रदेश प्रदूषण नियंत्रण मंडल ने उद्योगों से निकलने वाले गंदे पानी को रिसाइकिल कर दोबारा इनके उपयोग पर ध्यान देने की जानकारी दी। वहीं, पशुपालन विभाग ने नर्मदा किनारे स्थित डेयरी से निकलने वाली गंदगी को रोकने के लिए किए जा रहे प्लान के बारे में बताया। इसी तरह एनवीडीए ने नर्मदा के कैचमेंट एरिया में ही पानी के ट्रीटमेंट किए जाने की जानकारी दी जिससे नदी में साफ पानी ही बहाया जा सके। जबकि वन विभाग नदी के किनारे पौधारोपण और पंचायत एवं ग्रामीण विकास विभाग नर्मदा को स्वच्छ बनाने की बात कही।

Also see, MP farmers protest against Kshipra river pollution

GANGA Polluted Chhoiya river forcing villagers to migrate  High levels of pollution in the Chhoiya river have forced nearly 30% of the residents of Shahpurlal village, about 95 km from Meerut and 30 km from Bijnor, to migrate to safer areas. Villagers say the water is so polluted that it stinks and the foul smell makes life difficult. They say people are falling ill as well. The Chhoiya is a seasonal river and flows through the Bijnor district. Effluents from industries located in the area are dumped in the river. Industrial effluents and toxic metals have seeped into the soil thus polluting the groundwater as well, villagers say.

For disaster management, study of 5 Uttarakhand rivers on The disaster management department of Uttarakhand, in a first-of-its-kind study, will undertake a detailed study of the morphology of five Himalayan rivers — Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Dhauliganga and Kaliganga — to reduce the impact of episodic events such as floods from very heavy rainfall, cloudburst, landslides and glacial lake outburst. The study would help state agencies be better prepared for flooding or sudden discharge from upstream reservoirs. Denmark-based DHI Water and Environment Private Limited, which has an office in India and 30 other countries, has been hired by the state government to carry out the study, under a project funded by the World Bank, the Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project (UDRP). The study, at an estimated cost of Rs13 crore, will be conducted over 22 months.

Also see, Modi’s drive to clean Ganga cosmetic, says Mahant  

INTER LINKING OF RIVERS

Uma Bharti statement on interlinking of rivers in Lok Sabha on 17 Dec. 2015 The initial cost of the Inter Linking projects as estimated in Preliminary Studies at Pre-feasibility/Feasibility stage by the then Task Force on Interlinking of Rivers (TF-ILR-2002) is Rs 5.60 Lakh crore at 2002 Price Level. The expenditure on inter-linking projects can be estimated only after completion of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) of individual link projects. In addition, out of 46 proposals of intra-state links received by NWDA from 9 States, the DPRs of two intra-state links i.e. Burhi Gandak- Noon-Baya-Ganga Link Project and Kosi-Mechi Link Project have been completed and sent to Government of Bihar in December, 2013 and March, 2014 respectively. The DPRs for Ponnair-Palar Link of Tamil Nadu, Wainganga-Nalganga Link of Maharashtra and Barakar-Damodar-Subernarekha Link of Jharkhand and Vamsadhara-Rushikulya of Odisha including the survey and investigations have also been taken up for preparation.

DROUGHT

SC seeks response from drought-hit states on supplying free food grains A bench, headed by Justice Madan B Lokur, issued notices to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments seeking response on steps taken by them to provide free food grains and employment under MGNREG Act to the drought-affected people. The court passed the order on a PIL filed by Swaraj Abhiyan alleging that the state governments had been “highly negligent” in implementing the National Food Security Act, threatening the lives of the drought-affected people.

Maharashtra announces Rs10,512 crore aid for farmers hit by drought  The claim in this news report, quoting the Maharashtra Chief Minister that the Jalayukta Shivar program in 6200 villages so far has “generated water capacity of 24 trillion cubic meters” clearly does not sound right. If someone can find out what the correct figure claimed by the CM, that would be great. However, out of 10512 crores package, this flagship program of state gets, what looks like a meager allotment of Rs 250 crores to be stpent in 5000 villages.

Nabarangpur: Drought even in ‘normal’ monsoon Incidentally, Nabarangpur district has normal rainfall of 1241.5 mm, which should be sufficient to take care of agricultural and other needs. In 2015 monsoon, the district got 1458.17 mm rainfall, 17.5% above the normal rainfall, and yet most of the paddy crop was a failure. May be if SRI was practiced, it would have helped?

Multi-crop practice: Amid gloom, two farmers have reasons to smile A positive story from Nabarangpur district in Orissa, India’s poorest district, showing the power of farm ponds. Two farmers dug 50X50 gt ponds and it shows how they have reaped the benefits.

Also see, The Sarkar Parades Into a Drought-Hit Uttar Pradesh Village How NDTV story on drought hit village of Bundelkhand leads to the government officials rushing to the village.

AGRICULTURE

How Smallholder Farmers in Uttarakhand Reworked the SRI The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is presented in Asia and other parts of the world as an alternative ‘agro-ecological’ and ‘farm-based’ innovation in rice production. SRI calls for modifications in crop-management practices without relying on external inputs, which makes it different from innovations based on new rice varieties, which became dominant since the Green Revolution. SRI practices are therefore said to be appropriate for resource-poor smallholder farmers. A Detailed 200 p paper on SRI in 3 villages in Bhilangana basin in Uttarakhand, where SRI was introduced in 2008 and what all it has led to.

System of Rice Intensification for Increased Productivity and Ecological Security  Another paper on SRI reports experiences from the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Gujarat.

SAND MINIG

Helpline to check mining launched in Mahendragarh Haryana Anyone can call the toll-free number – 18001801050 to give information about mining activities being conducted anywhere in the district said Narnaul SDM Vivek Kalia. Sources said the step had been taken after the authorities recently found the mafia carrying out illegal mining in the hillock of Musnota village in the Nangal Choudhary region for the past over 10 months. The mafia was not only triggering heavy blasts for mining but also transporting stones in trucks to other places during night hours. Even, it had constructed a special road to run illegal activities easily, the sources said. Taking a serious note of the incident, the authorities had put mining inspector, gram sachiv, nambardar and chowkidars (both revenue and panchayat departments) on notice for their failure in intimating the higher officials about the mining activities being illegally carried out in their areas concerned.

अलवर: अवैध खनन पर कार्रवाई, 17 ट्रैक्टर जब्त, 14 गिरफ्तार  अवैधखनन के खिलाफ 13 Dec. को पुलिस ने बानसूर नारायणपुर क्षेत्र में बड़ी कार्रवाई की। इस दौरान नदी अरावली की पहाड़ियों में 17 ट्रैक्टर ट्रॉलियां एक जेसीबी जब्त की। साथ ही मौके से 14 लोगों को गिरफ्तार किया है। कार्रवाई में 3 डीएसपी के नेतृत्व में 5 थानों की पुलिस, क्यूआरटी पुलिस लाइन का जाप्ता शामिल था। अचानक हुई पुलिस कार्रवाई से खनन माफियाओं में भगदड़ मच गई। घेराबंदी के बावजूद अवैध खनन में लगे कई लोग भागने में सफल रहे। कार्रवाई के दौरान बानसूर नारायणपुर थाने में 9-9 मुकदमे दर्ज किए गए हैं। पुलिस को सूचना मिली कि बानसूर नारायणपुर इलाके में बड़े पैमाने पर नदियों में अवैध बजरी अरावली की पहाड़ियों में खनन चल रहा है। इस पर पुलिस ने कार्रवाई की रणनीति बनाई। इस दौरान बानसूर इलाके में बजरी खनन करते हुए कुंडली की नदी से 6 ट्रैक्टर, 1 जेसीबी बड़ा गांव पहाड़ी से अवैध खनन करती 2 ट्रैक्टर ट्राली जब्त की गई।

WATER

How unchecked pumping is sucking aquifers dry in India US TODAY reports on groundwater depletion around the world, including a story on INDIA.  IN INDIA, SOME AREAS ARE RAPIDLY RUNNING OUT OF GROUNDWATER

J&K: Villages protest against Doodh Ganga water Supply scheme Protests erupted in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on 18 Dec. 15 against a proposed water supply scheme sourced from Doodh Ganga river. People from twin constituencies of Chrar-e-Sharief and Chadoora fear the scheme being developed by Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) will dry up half-a-dozen water supply schemes, already fed on Doodh Ganga. The protesters alleged that they had approached the officials to put forth their reservations, but “nobody has heeded our concern so far”. Sarpanch Ghula Muhammad Raina said the scheme will lead to a drought-like situation in the area.

Water conservation discussed If Coimbatore could achieve a lot in water conservation with an average rainfall of 650 mm a year, Madurai could do wonders with an average rainfall of 850 mm, said Vanitha Mohan, Managing Trustee of the Coimbatore-based NGO Siruthuli and Executive Director of Pricol. At a discussion organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry –Young Indians (YI) at Thiagarajar College of Engineering here on 15 Dec., she spoke on the possibility of replicating the model used in Coimbatore for rejuvenating the tanks in Madurai. Great to know about Coimbatore success story and Madurai trying to follow the example.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Japanese Towns Bank on Renewable Energy Japanese cities are entering the renewable-energy business, the latest phase in a shake-up of the nation’s power sector in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. So far, about 14 cities have formed companies to generate clean energy from local resources and sell it to area businesses and homes. With full deregulation of the nation’s electricity markets set to begin next year, the government aims to have 1,000 such city-operated companies up and running by 2021 in a direct challenge to regional power monopolies. The move is part of Japan’s strategy for creating energy self-sufficiency, while helping revitalize communities with infrastructure investment. Hydroelectric sources account for about 9% of Japan’s energy, and that is expected to remain unchanged.

Also see, Solar Power Initiatives by Government: Year End Review The details of year round achievements of the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy

SOUTH ASIA

Feasibility study under way for Thakot hydropower project in Pakistan The Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA) in Pakistan has awarded a contract to Lahmeyer International to prepare a feasibility study for the Thakot hydropower project. The project, on the Indus River, will have a capacity of 2,000 MW to 2,500 MW, according to a press release from Lahmeyer. However, WAPDA’s website says the project will have a capacity of 4,000 MW and produce mean annual energy of 21,300 GWh for the national grid. The authority plans to construct five multi-dimensional water storage dams during the next three to 12 years that will also provide inexpensive and clean hydroelectricity. The company also has future work planned at 11 hydropower facilities, including rehabilitation and new development.

The life around Indus river This extract from Alice Albinia’s debut book, Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River, tells the readers about Islam, Hinduism and river worship in Sindh, Pakistan. Every Sindhi has emotional memories of the palla, Tenualosa ilisha, or hilsa as it is known in Bengal, the ancient symbol of Sindh’s vanished riverine paradise, its national dish, and now extinct (because dams on the river prevent it from migrating up and down the Indus to spawn). South of the shrine, and visible from the Zindapir island, is the cause of the pallas’ demise: Sukkur Barrage, the dam built by the British in 1932 to feed a network of irrigation canals. The barrage has of course vastly increased the agricultural potential of Sindh — but it has also trapped the blind Indus dolphin upstream of Sukkur. Resident here since the river was formed millions of years ago, this glorious mammal is only now facing extinction.

CHINA

China’s State Power Investment Corp buys Pacific Hydro China’s State Power Investment Corp beat off rival bids from the likes of Australian private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners, Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Fund, China’s Huadian Corporation, ENGIE (the company which was formerly GDF SUEZ), Gas Naturale from Spain, TransAlta and Marubeni Corporation. The deal is expected to close in late January. The sale price is said to be north of $3 billion, including debt. Pacific Hydro’s globally-significant portfolio develops, builds and operates renewable energy projects in Chile, Australia and Brazil. Pacific Hydro expects $175 million earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the 2015 calendar year. About half of the earnings are scheduled to come from Chile, while 41 per cent is from Australian assets and the remaining 7 per cent from Brazil.

Also see, China’s cabinet approves major nuclear, hydro power projects

THE REST OF THE ASIA

ADPC launches third phase of Building Disaster Preparedness Project in South and Southeast Asia Asian Disaster Preparedness Center has launched the third phase of its project focusing on building South and Southeast Asian countries’ capability to prepare for hydro-meteorological, seismic, and landslide hazards. The project will focus on building disaster risk reduction capacity in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Vietnam. In Myanmar, ADPC in collaboration with the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology aims to institutionalize a hydrological modeling system for flood forecasting and increase lead-time of early warnings for riverine floods.

Typhoon fallout, heavy monsoon rains set to lash Malaysia Even with hundreds of families already displaced by floods in various parts of the country, the Meteorological Depart­ment has warned of more nasty weather. The typhoon is expected to bring strong winds between 64kph and 80kph and heavy rains to Sabah’s interiors, west coast areas and Kudat on 17-18 Dec.  Waves of up to 3.5m at the Sulu and South China Sea are also expected.

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Damming the Amazon: New hydropower projects put river dolphins at risk A dam-building boom is underway in the Amazon. More than 400 hydroelectric dams are in operation, being built, or planned for the river’s headwaters and basin. Scientists know that tropical dams disrupt water flow and nutrient deposition, with negative consequences for aquatic animals, especially migratory species. But little detailed knowledge exists as to the impacts of dams on specific species, or as to the best mitigations to prevent harm.

Italy is sending 450 soldiers to protect Iraq’s most important dam against ISIS In 2007, the US Army Corps of Engineers found that the dam had an “exceptionally high” probability of failure. An estimated half-million people were predicted to die from the dam’s collapse due to flooding, power outages and loss of farmland. The Army also found that the dam is inherently unstable. If ISIS disrupts maintenance of the dam, its structure could deteriorate and the dam could be breached out of sheer neglect. In a worst-case scenario, a breach could flood Baghdad and wipe out 250 square kilometers of farmland. The Mosul Dam is currently held by the Kurdish Peshmerga. The Kurds took control of the dam after it was briefly held by ISIS in the summer of 2014.

CLIMATE CHANGE

U’khand scientists disagree with Javadekar, say Himalayan glaciers melting away Scientists in the hills state have disagreed with environment minister Prakash Javadekar who told the Rajya Sabha on 14 Dec. 2015 that 87% of Himalayan glaciers, according to a study, were stable since 2001. Experts said, contrary to the minister’s claims, most of the total 968 glaciers in the region, were retreating (melting away). “Glaciers in the state, like Gangotri, Neelam and many others, are definitely not stable. And there are certainly no advancing glaciers here,” said a senior scientist from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology. The scientist said the advancing glaciers which the minister referred to in his Rajya Sabha reply are perhaps possible in Jammu and Kashmir, “but not in Uttarakhand”. Will there a privilege motion against Javdekar now or should ISRO and MoEF come up with explanation why their studies are misleading?

Impact of Climate Change in North-Eastern Region A thematic scheme on “Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP)” with an outlay of Rs. 290 Crores was launched during the 12th Five Year Plan to address the issues related to climate change. Coordinated studies on climate change in the North Eastern Region is one of the components under CCAP to undertake studies on impacts of climate change on forests biodiversity, water, agriculture and human settlement with a view to develop adaptation and mitigation benefits in the region. This was stated by Minister of State or Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge) Dr. Jitendra Singh in Lok Sabha on 16 Dec. 15 in a written reply to a question by Shri Jagdambika Pal.

Why Indians need to closely examine our government’s sanctimonious rhetoric on Climate Justice VERY apt. Hydroelectric dams on the other hand, are responsible for the displacement of millions and cause irreparable harm to riverine ecology. They are also essentially loss-making ventures. What is most worrying is the utter dissonance between Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar’s heroic words about climate justice and the utter lack of action to safeguard people affected by pollution and climate change. The Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s greatest accomplishment has been how quickly they are granting environmental clearances to industries.

Also see, Rich polluters want to preach, but not pay The last fortnight saw a battle between developing and developed countries pitching in with their narrative and rhetoric respectively in Le Bourget, located in the north-eastern suburbs of Paris. The eventual adoption of the Paris agreement on climate change by 195 countries is no mean feat in itself. A target to arrest the rise in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels while making efforts to limit the same to 1.5 degrees Celsius is indeed ambitious and praiseworthy. It would be, at the same time, prudent to recognize that the Paris deal—while high on ambition—is low on fixing accountability.

Nature Crucial to Combating Impact of Climate Change on Water We are experiencing climate change through water, but we have answers at hand. Working with nature can reduce floods just as it can reduce droughts. Experience shows that we can work with nature on a scale which will protect water resources and habitats for generations to come. We should not wait for climate change to wreak more damage on our most critical resource before enlisting nature’s aid. One may not agree with Nature Conservancy 100%, but there are some interesting pointers here.

Climate change rapidly warming world’s lakes The study is the largest of its kind and the first to use a combination of satellite temperature data and long-term ground measurements. A total of 235 lakes, representing more than half of the world’s freshwater supply, were monitored for at least 25 years. The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, was announced today at the American Geophysical Union meeting. The study, which was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, found lakes are warming an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit (0.34 degrees Celsius) each decade. That’s greater than the warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects, the scientists say.

The Climate Change Plan With Everything Except What We Really Need James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who essentially alerted the public to the dangers of climate change, says that the Paris talks were “a fraud,” “a fake,” and “bullshit,” since they did not succeed in putting a tax on carbon emissions.

Also see, Paris climate change deal too weak to help poor, critics warn

ENVIRONMENT

Darwin kin bats for Adivasis He is British by birth, but prefers to call himself an Indian. Having lived in this country for three decades now, Felix Padel, the great great grandson of father of evolution Charles Darwin, has closely worked on Adivasis in eastern India. A freelance anthropologist trained at Oxford and Delhi University, Padel has also authored a few books on tribals that analyse and expose the imposition of colonial structures on tribal societies. According to the anthropologist, mining-based industrialisation can never bring prosperity.  Till the late 1980s, more than 50 per cent of India’s aluminium was reserved for electrification of villages. Today in Orissa, villages near hydropower plants have no electricity. Most of the aluminium we produce here is pumped into bombs and airplanes of modern warfare for developed countries. Will you call this development?

Maharashtra civic bodies say no to smart city project The Centre’s ambitious smart city project has hit a major roadblock in Maharashtra. The municipal corporations of Navi Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, ruled by the Nationalistic Congress Party (NCP), Congress and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), have objected to the project saying it would impact the corporations’ autonomy and financial independence. They also fear the corporations would be sidelined as the special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by the state government and the respective civic body would have a major say in the implementation of development projects. Ten cities from Maharashtra have been selected to be developed as smart cities — Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Amravati, Solapur, Nagpur and Aurangabad.

The strange love for nuclear energy Op-Ed by M.V. Ramana and Suvrat Raju in Hindu The prospect of a nuclear deal with Japan is worrying because it ignores voices on the ground and takes India a step closer to the construction of untested and expensive reactors. Citizens in both India and Japan have expressed their serious concerns about this deal and India’s nuclear imports. Recently, 13 villages near Jaitapur passed a joint resolution against that nuclear plant. Large protests have also taken place at Kovvada and Mithi Virdi. Before Mr. Abe’s visit, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took the unusual step of jointly writing to their Prime Minister asking him to reconsider the deal with India. It is revealing that the leaders of “Asia’s largest democracies” have entirely ignored these voices on the ground, and instead moved to bail out the multinational nuclear industry.

Regional Centre of Expertise -Tirupati to focus on Eastern Ghats In a major boost to the sustainable development of the Eastern Ghats, with special focus on its fragile environment, the United Nations University has sanctioned a Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) to Tirupati. The RCE-Tirupati will be part of the Foundation for Environmentally Sustainable Development with Focus on health, education, awareness and livelihoods. The project was cleared by Ubuntu Alliance of twelve agencies, including the UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University and the World Conservation Union (WCU).  In fact, out of the 127 RCEs spread across the globe, there are only five in India.

Gujarat, Maha fishermen clash over depleting catch Environmental factors like El Nino, inadequate rains and industrial pollution have been blamed for depleting catch. Three major mid-sea clashes have been reported and several others have gone unreported between fishermen of the two states since the fishing season started in August this year.

Also see, Amritsar has more cancer cases than Malwa’s Bathinda

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