DRP News Bulletin 28 Dec. 2015 (Farmers field school in Jharkhand shows the way in integrated farming)

AGRICULTURE

Farmers field school in Jharkhand shows the way in integrated farming The School has taught farmers how to use waste from their farms as inputs in their farming system. Other organic practices have improved the soil profile and water holding capacity of the fields. The schools are run throughout the cropping season. Farmers receive training on how to manage crops, waste and pests. Meaningful discussions are held in the farms on crop growth, climate, soil conditions and constraints to crop production. Based on these observations, farmers make informed decisions to increase yields and improve the soil fertility of their fields. These schools now serve as the training ground for new farmers. Indeed, improving water holding capacity of the soil is much neglected issue.

Organic manure saves crop from floods For the second year in succession, Velu, a farmer in Morappakkam near Madurantakam, has become the envy of other farmers as the organic crop raised by him survived the inundation during the recent rains. 

HYDRO POWER

Hydro power projects default on capacity utilisation, recovering dues: CAG According to the audit, the share of installed capacity and generation of hydro projects compared to the total installed capacity and generation was only 15.19 percent and 12.38%, respectively, as on March 31, 2015. The CAG audit also noticed that a large number of instruments installed at dams and other structures to monitor their health were not in working condition. “The disaster management plans of all power stations selected for the performance audit except Indira Sagar power station of NHDC were not in accordance with CWC (Central Water Commission) guidelines,” the report noted. The report also urged the Union power ministry that under the national electricity policy, the ministry might coordinate with the regulator to ensure the desired action for increased monitoring and compliance with regulations. According to the report, owing to inadequate flushing and non-maintenance of prescribed reservoir levels, gross and live reservoir capacities of three NHPC power stations came down during the five years ended March 31, 2014.

Five discoms failed to clear dues worth Rs 4,112 cr: CAG “Outstanding dues of five beneficiaries (BSES Rajdhani Power Limited, BSES Yamuna Power Limited, Uttar Pradesh Power Company Limited, Power Distribution Department, J&K and Bihar State Electricity Board) which consistently failed to clear dues of NHPC, SJVN and THDC accumulated to Rs 4,112.49 crore at the end 2014-15 against Rs 397.95 crore at the end of 2009-10,” CAG said in its report.

Generation capacity and transmission addition: Ministry of Power Year End Review  The generation capacity addition during 2015-16 (April-November, 2015) is 9,466 MW against the annual target of 20,037. Out of 9,466 MW added contribution of the thermal sector was significant i.e 7,616 MW (80.5% of the total). It includes NTPC’s Bongaigaon (300 MW) and Vindhyachal Stage-V (500 MW) in Thermal and remaining 2 units of Koldam (200 MW each) in Hydro and NLC’s Tuticorin (500 MW). During 2014-15 against the target 17830.30 MW generation capacity of 22,566.30 MW was achieved.

Energy sector will generate $250 billion investment potential: Piyush Goyal  Union Power Minister says that the country has a very comfortable power situation going forward. 2015-16 see 12000 plus mw bidding in solar sector, highest in any country. Govt did 2500 mw till 18 months ago, now it is 4500 mw. Between 2006 and 2009 we saw that coal fired power plants were being set up across the country much more and much faster than what country’s demand justified.

Also see, Power prices fall 22% in 2015 Power prices fall 22% to Rs 2.81 per unit in 2015 at India Energy Exchange from Rs 3.59 per unit in 2014; peak demand 153 GW, up only 23 GW from 2012 level, when installed capacity has grown by 80 GW in three years; Energy deficit in 2015 2.4%, down from 4.1% in 2014.

HIMACHAL Accidents or Sheer Negligence, The Burang Story, Kinnaur A short, timely film on Sorang Hydropower disaster by HIMDHARA, after talking with project officials and affected people. The film highlights the issue of safety violations and negligence in Hydropower Projects in Himachal Pradesh, India. The focus is on an accident that took place at the 100 MW Sorang Hydroproject in November 2015.

ARUNACHAL No water treaty keeps Arunachal on edge As India and China race to tap or literally dam  the 97,000-MW hydro-power potential of the Brahmaputra/Tsangpo river, the people of Arunachal Pradesh look askance. On its side, China intends to build 40 dams on the river and its tributaries to generate 60,000 MW of power. Three such dams at Dagu, Jiacha and Jiexu are under construction and the fourth, Zangmu, was operationalised recently. All are located on the Tsangpo in the area north of Arunachal. On the Indian side, its Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in the plan period 2012-2017 says dams are being built in Arunachal to produce 9,579 MW of power. The same report assesses the long-term pre-feasibility hydro-power potential of the state at 27, 293 MW.

W-BENGAL NHPC’s Teesta Low Dam-IV project running behind schedule  Power Minister Prakash Goyal Statement in Rajya Sabha. Teesta Low Dam-IV is running behind the schedule on account of reasons (like) delay in forest clearance, cash crunch of the civil contractor. Other reasons for the project running behind the schedule are agitation by local organisations and flash floods in 2007, 2009 and 2010, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. Teesta Low Dam-IV is scheduled to be commissioned during 2016-17.

DAMS

Year End Review: Ministry of Water Resources Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) taken up with World Bank assistance at an estimated cost of Rs. 2100 crore, 233 dams in five states identified for rehabilitation. Work sanctions are being done in collaboration with states.  Rs.320 crore released to NCT of Delhi for water sector reforms including Rs.50 crore for Renuka Dam Project. The detailed PIB release also includes other achievements, initiative and proposed plans for 2016 to be taken up by Ministry of Water Resources.

Hirakud Dam’s Inspection, Delhi Team Completes First Phase Survey of Cracks The three-member team of Central Soil and Material Research Station (CSMRS) which completed the first phase of underwater scanning of upstream face of Hirakud Dam is likely to submit a report soon.  Sources said, the actual picture of cracks on the upstream face of the dam will emerge only after the visual is analysed. The Hirakud Dam Cracks Review Panel and Dam Safety Review Panel had suggested treatment of the cracks.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Modi’s Grand Plan to Divert Himalayan Rivers Faces Obstacles Given past investments and returns on dams and canals by the government, whether the benefits that these new projects would generate are worth the cost is debatable. Besides construction costs and the engineering challenge of building large dams and canals, the government would need to compensate as many as 5.5 million displaced people for loss of land and livelihoods. In India’s federal structure consisting of 29 states, a national consensus is required to plan for a river basin as a whole. Most states are already engaged in bitter disputes with neighbors over water allocation.

Divert & link the rivers to fight drought: Andhra Vision Document  The vision document prepared by the irrigation department has proposed utilization of 3000 TMC feet water from river Godavari that is flowing into the sea by diverting it to thousands of tanks that were abandoned due to lack of regular supplies. The reports also mention that linking of major rivers, Godavari – Krishna and Krishna Penna, are underway and expected to add about 200 TMC feet water to the irrigation system. The irrigation department has also prioritized 7 projects which are Handri- Neeva phase I & II, Pattiseema Lift irrigation project, Galeru-Nagari phase I, Thotapalli, Gundlakamma, Veligonda, Vamsadhara stage II and phase II to counter the deficit rainfall problem.

Also see, Interlinking of rivers is Modi’s priority: Suresh Prabhu  

RIVER AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS

Lok Sabha passes bill to develop 101 inland waterways The bill identifies additional 101 inland waterways as national waterways to be developed across 24 states with an estimated cost of Rs 5 lakh crore. Responding to members’ questions over funding of the ambitious waterways projects, Nitin Gadkari said that he is aiming to garner Rs 1 lakh crore through innovative methods, which include Rs 50,000 crore from World Bank, investment of profits of shipping PSUs into a subsidiary company and obtaining dollar loan at cheaper rates, besides seeking funds from the budget.

Bhakra Dam as national waterway: Cabinet to take call Though the Inland Waterway Authority of India (IWAI) has asked the state government to declare Bhakra Dam as the ‘national waterway highway’, the matter is yet to be placed before the Cabinet for final nod. What weighs on the mind of the officials is the fact that there could be some opposition by the locals as the dam is a major fishing pond on which the livelihood of a sizeable population of the area depends. As such the NoC from the State Fisheries Department will have to be obtained before initiating the project. Besides, the approval of the Bhakra Beas Management Authority (BBMB) will also be mandatory.

RIVERS

Assam: IOC’s Guwahati refinery facing water shortage as Brahmaputra levels falls Water level in Brahmaputra is already so low this month that Guwahati Refinery had to shut down four water pumps. The water level in the river has come down by two feet in comparison with last year. The refinery requires at least 1,300 cubic metres of water every hour, but it is now getting just only 1,000 cubic metres. The refinery also supplies water from the river to military engineering services, Oil India Limited and township residents.

Centre confirms pollution in Assam water bodies, rivers Confirming widespread pollution of the rivers in Assam, the Centre said that water quality criteria in 28 river stretches at 42 locations have been identified as polluted in the State, including the stretches of Deepor Beel, Bharalu, Buridihing and the Brahmaputra. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in association with Assam Pollution Control Board is monitoring the water quality of rivers and other water bodies in Assam.

Odisha: Mahanadi polluted beyond repair pollution board The State Pollution Control Board in a survey came to know that the oxygen level in the Mahanadi water is declining in 7 locations of the river. The pollution of the river is chiefly man-made, sources it said. Along with the city’s waste water, the industries those are on the banks of the Mahanadi are also playing major role in polluting the water in Paradip. Although, the board is writing letters to several industries and Sambalpur and Cuttack municipal corporations regularly, the effort goes in vain.

Bacterial pollution found in fiver Kerala rivers basins: Study  A study conducted by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) has revealed that most of the water samples collected from the Muvattupuzha river basin in Ernakulam and Kottayam districts, Vamanapuram basin in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts, Peruvamba basin in Kannur, Kariangode river basin in Kasaragod and Korapuzha basin in Kozhikode district are high in bacterial contamination, especially during the monsoon season. Meanwhile one another study finds that Accumulation of pollutants in Kerala’s Periyar riverbed reason behind mass fill kill: Study 

Doodh Ganga Water Supply Project Despite Govt. orders ERA continues to work on Doodh Ganga water scheme With the rising public anger over Doodh Ganga water supply scheme built at summer capital Srinagar outskirts, Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) on 26 Dec.15  said that they would continue implementing the scheme. ERA claims to have convinced the concerned locals. The executive agency, ERA ensured that the scheme will be beneficial and that there are no risks associated with it. As per the ERA officials, out of 18kms, pipeline has been led on 6kms. However, hundreds of protestors held peaceful demonstrations, saying that they would continue to protest against the scheme till it is dismissed.

Also see, After massive protests, Govt orders suspension of work on Doodh Ganga Water Supply Scheme  The locals of the Chadoora claimed that if the scheme is started they would be deprived of drinking water and irrigation water, which according to them, would be a major catastrophe for the populace of the whole area.

Yettinahole Diversion Project Legal battle to continue even if forest clearance is obtained Karavali Jeevanadi Nethravathi Rakshana Samithi, Mangaluru, which has questioned the Yettinahole diversion project in the NGT, Southern Zone, Chennai, is determined to continue the legal battle against the project even if the Union government gave forest clearance to it. The samithi has also decided to meet the Regional Empowered Committee, a wing of the Central Empowered Committee, when it would visit the project site tentatively on December 26, to present the case before it. 

FISHERIES CCEA approves Rs. 3000 crore for “Blue Revolution” The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval for implementation of an umbrella scheme for integrated development and management of fisheries. The Central Sector Scheme covers development and management of inland fisheries, aquaculture, marine fisheries including deep sea fishing, mariculture and all activities undertaken by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) towards realizing “Blue Revolution”. A five year, central sector scheme of Rs 3000 crores that also includes inland fisheries, approved by CCEA.  

GANGA Regulate withdrawal of water from Ganga: CPCB More water should be released from Bijnor and Narora barrages, says apex pollution watchdogRecognising that nearly 80% of the average flow of the Ganga at Haridwar (in Uttarakhand) is withdrawn, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India’s apex pollution watchdog, has said that there is “need to release more water from Bijnor and Narora barrages” and regulate withdrawal of water from the Ganga. CPCB seems going in right direction now.

Surface cleaning of Ganga to begin in 10 cities next month: Uma Bharati In a consultative committee meeting on 22 Dec. 15, Water resources minister Uma Bharati said the surface cleaning exercise would start in Haridwar, Garhmukteshwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Sahibganj, Kolkata, Nabadwip and Gangasagar under the ‘Namami Gange’ programme. She also said that trial of surface cleaning had already started in Varanasi which has been assigned to Tata Projects Ltd under corporate social responsibility scheme.

10 IITs asked to adopt stretches of river Ganga and undertake cleaning plans  Months after a consortia of seven IITs submitted the Ganga River Basin Management Plan, the Centre has asked them to walk the talk. Ten IITs have been asked to pitch in by adopting various stretches of the river and effect ‘implementable action plans’ there for cleaning up the holy river. IF this is true, it seems Govt of India still does not seem to have clue about how to tackle Ganga Rejuvenation.

Also see, Ganga water unfit even for bathing in Allahabad  Causing an alarm on the eve of Magh Mela here, the Ganga in Allahabad has been found unfit even for taking a dip leave aside its water being used for drinking. The Ganga water samples analysed by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) were found to be containing disease causing total coliform organism (TCO) over 30 times more than the permissible limit. Thousands of devotees and pilgrims are expected to assemble for the mela beginning January 14.

YAMUNA Agra: Yamuna level plummets, city supply stations run dry For the first time, water supply machines in Agra have gone dry and only 25-30% of supply is being maintained. With nine pumps at three supply stations out of the total four running dry, alarms have been sounded at Jal Kal and the district administration. To tackle the situation Deepak Singh, chief chemist of Jal Kal was sent to Gokul barrage to ensure discharge into the Yamuna was increased. These and other efforts by officials resulted in a paltry increase of just 4 cusec in the discharge on 23 Dec. 15. 

Delhi learns no lessons from Chennai, allows construction on Yamuna floodplain Delhi has not learnt any lessons from the recent floods in Chennai and elsewhere in Tamil Nadu. Yamuna floodplain in Delhi is already heavily encroached upon, but government authorities have allowed a hospital to be built in an area that often goes under water. Not just that about 3.5 million people from various countries would partake in a cultural festival in the floodplain here in March.

Most of Yamuna in city not navigable: Shipping Ministry Study Amid efforts by the Centre and Delhi government to make the Delhi-Agra stretch of the Yamuna a functional waterway, a pre-feasibility study by the shipping ministry has indicated that only the section between Palla and Wazirabad is navigable while the rest of it falling in Delhi –Wazirabad to Okhla is not suitable for navigation.

Untreated sewage from Gurgaon flowing in Najafgarh drain contaminates 2000 acres in five villages Residents of Dhankot, Daulatabad, Budhera, Dharampur and Jhathikra villages are up in arms against the local administration. They said it was a yearly affair and presence of intoxicants in the drain had spread the scare of an epidemic. The sewage water of Gurgaon falls into the Najafgarh drains through three sewerage treatment plants (STP). These three STPs have the capacity of treating just 150 Million Litre Daily (MLD) sewerage water while the Millennium City, on an average, generates more than 350 MLD sewerage water. As a result, a large quantity of untreated water directly flows into the drain.

Also see, 20-km stretch of Yamuna in city to be cleaned by 2017: Uma Bharti

AFTER CHENNAI FLOOD 

Chennai floods not linked to global warming: Prakash Javadekar Days after the Chennai floods caught global attention during the just concluded Paris conference where world leaders linked such extreme weather conditions to climate change, the government on 21 Dec. 15 said the unusual rainfall that occurred in Tamil Nadu was a “highly localised” event and its attribution to global warming is “not established”. 

Chennai flood: Shock, but no awe Nityanand Jayaraman is BRILLIANT as usual. Agencies that are vested with regulating coastal development and enforcing the laware nothing more than wasteful rubber stamps. The Corporation of Chennai, which was supposed to identify violations, is itself a keen encroacher of beach space. Our Environment Ministry will not save us. Courts seldom appreciate the gravity of these violations. The word “unprecedented” would have to be updated every year. Fear of nature, rather than love for it, should be our guiding emotion in dealing with natural processes and safeguarding ourselves.

Chennai floods present a lesson in urban planning Op-Ed in HT by KT Ravindaran The Chennai floods have thrown up some fundamental flaws in our system of urban planning. Across India, city after city has experienced floods, while some others live with the fear of impending disasters. All our metropolitan cities have ignored watershed management and environmental planning to their own peril. In the absence of a proper National Policy for Urbanisation, our metropolitan cities are sitting ducks for all sorts of natural disasters. Spineless local planning organisations, which are subservient to their administrative and political masters, are not willing to put their technical know-how on the table, for fear of punishment transfers and mafia-induced pressures.

Also see, Questions from the Chennai floods

IRRIGATION

Gujrat: CM finds it tough to give water for irrigation this year With Saurashtra staring at severe drinking water crisis months before summer sets in, chief minister Anandiben Patel on 27 Dec. 15  warned farmers that it would be difficult for the state government to release any water for irrigation for the summer crops. Speaking at a function of Leuva Patels in temple town Dwarka, Patel said that the government is making all efforts to ensure adequate drinking water to the people. The water levels in dams are very less and farmers should not pin hopes on the government to give water for irrigation as the situation is only expected to worsen once summer sets in, she said. Patel also hit hard at those illegally drawing water from Narmada canals across the state.

Maha: Probe all irrigation scams Bombay High Court directs State Govt. Taking the lid off yet another irrigation scam in Maharashtra, the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has termed approval to all 189 irrigation projects worth Rs 5,600 crore between 2007 and 2013 as outside the scope of the law. Pointing out 48 irrigation projects where the work has yet not begun, the High Court, in its order dated December 18, has said that the State Government is expected to conduct an inquiry into the serious irregularities which have occurred in awarding the contract for these projects. The order observes that contractors were paid money without commencement of the work.

Telangana: ACB traps 2 irrigation officials for demanding bribe  According to reports, Mancherial Executive Engineer B. Vinod Kumar and Chennur Deputy Executive Engineer Bala Sidhu were trapped while receiving Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 60,000 respectively as illegal gratification which they had demanded to release bills for work done under Mission Kakatiya. Ravinder Reddy had executed works on five tanks and had drawn Rs. 20 lakh as the first bill. The engineers were delaying payment of the remaining bill of Rs. 60 lakh for the last three months demanding a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh. The vexed contractor had filed a complaint with ACB.

Andhra: ACB raids houses of Divisional Engineers of R & B, Irrigation Anti-Corruption Bureau slueths raided the houses of Kurnool Roads and Building Divisional Engineer Sankar Reddy and Banaganapalle Irrigation DE Gopal Naik on 23 Dec. 15. The ACB sleuths recovered vital documents pertaining to movable and immovable properties worth over Rs. 1 crore from Sankar Reddy’s residential apartment on Joharapuram Road in Kurnool town. They also raided some other apartments belonging to his kin in the apartment complex.

Also see, Odisha: Kalhandi farmers will suffer due to negligence of Irrigation department

WATER

Water ATM: Providers, cost factor and benefits This article raises some important questions about equity and other issues related to water ATMs. People living in resettlement colonies were opposed to the concept of ATMs, and wanted household water connections because they had both drinking and domestic water needs. Also, the cost of drinking water through these ATMs was way above what piped water costs a household for its entire drinking and domestic water needs. The people from the resettlement colonies all through Delhi opposed the Government’s move to introduce ATMs, and the Government proceeded slowly. 

Govt plans to prioritise projects for conservation of water resources in 2016 Setting up of the National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency, modernization\expansion of flood forecasting network of the Central Water Commission (CWC) and launching Yamuna rejuvenation plan are some of the key proposals which are to be taken up by the water resources ministry in a big way in 2016. Efforts to complete the Polavaram Project will also be stepped up next year. Odisha government and many environmental groups have, however, been opposed to the project, claiming that it would adversely affect the tribals of Malkangiri district.

Textile industries oppose Ministry’s green norms Industry members have raised their apprehensions about the implications of the new norms in a message sent earlier this week to the ministries of textiles as well as environment questioning the assumption that textile units discharge effluents without treating them.  MoEF has issued a draft notification at Nov end that requires that all textile units using more than 25000 litres per day (25 KLD) would be required to achieve full recycle and hence zero water effluent norm within a period of 30 days. Now textile industry is saying the limit should be extended to 100 KLD and recycle for irrigation etc should also be allowed and that in coastal areas release to sea should be allowed.

जयपुर :35 हजार ढाणियों के 685 करोड़ लैप्स, अब 20 हजार गांवों तक पानी का प्लान राजस्थानके 236 ब्लॉक्स में से 84 फीसदी डार्क जोन में चले जाने के बावजूद जलदाय विभाग हर साल केंद्र से मिलने वाले धन में से 685 करोड़ रुपए खर्च नहीं कर पा रहा है। राज्य में 35 हजार से अधिक ढाणियां एवं छोटे गांव को आज भी साफ पानी उपलब्ध नहीं हैं, लेकिन जलदाय विभाग पिछले एक साल में केंद्र से आवंटित 1496 करोड़ में से वंचित जनता को पानी से जोड़ने पर 938 करोड़ रुपए ही खर्च कर पाया। दूसरी तरफ अभी पूरी सरकार मुख्यमंत्री जल स्वावलंबन अभियान चलाकर 20 हजार गांवों को पानी से जोड़ने का प्लान बना रही है।

GROUND WATER

Tamil Nadu: Days of flooding takes groundwater to record levels Average groundwater level data for the beginning of December 2015 shows that levels have hit the highest in six years in six districts. Chennai has seen its average groundwater level shoot up from 5.63 metres below ground level (mbgl) in June 2015 to just 2.01 mbgl now. Other districts that have registered record levels of groundwater levels are Kancheeepuram from 6.59 mbgl in August 2015 to 0.82 mbgl now; Thiruvannamalai from 8.58 mbgl to 2.62 mbgl; Vellore 10.01 mbgl to 3.35 mbgl; Dharmapuri 8.95 mbgl to 4.02 mbgl; and Villupuram 8.26 mbgl to 1.73 mbgl.

UP: NGT notice to Coca-Cola’s Hapur bottling plant Beverages major Coca Cola has come under the scanner of the NGT which has issued notice to the company after finding “alarming facts” in an inspection report of apex pollution monitoring body. The Tribunal was hearing a plea by advocate Sanjay Kumar seeking restraint on the alleged illegal discharge of untreated waste water into the pond situated behind the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd’s plant in Hapur district of Uttar Pradesh.

Rajasthan: Udaipur’s water threatened by India’s largest reserve of phosphate Pollution from the Jhamarkotra mines poses a threat to waters near and far, and also causes severe health issues in the miners. Why is there no post facto environment impact assessment? This report shows how phosphate mining around Udaipur in Rajasthan is affecting water sources, health and people.

Also see, MP: Villagers paying for industrial ground water pollution

DROUGHT

ओड़ीशा-2015: सूखे से परेशान रही पटनायक सरकार राज्य के 30 में से 26 जिले सूखा प्रभावित हैं और फसल की कथित बर्बादी और कर्ज के बोझ के कारण करीब 140 किसानों ने खुदकुशी की। उल्लेखनीय है कि पटनायक के पास ही जल संसाधन का विभाग है। राज्य सरकार ने राज्य के 314 में सूखाग्रस्त 215 ब्लॉक की खरीफ फसल को हुए नुकसान की भरपाई के लिए राहत उपाय के तहत 2,199 करोड़ रुपए की केंद्रीय मदद के लिए दो अंतरिम ज्ञापन पेश किया है।

SAND MINING

How manufactured-sand is helping reduce indiscriminate sand mining and saving riverine ecosystems While the transition from river-sand to manufactured- sand and recycled-sand is a good augury, there are environmental issues that remain to be addressed. “It is essential to ensure that these new genre plants adhere to strict pollution norms. Communities living near or around these plants are already restive,” says Sumaira Abdulali of the Mumbai-based Awaaz Foundation that has been campaigning against illegal sand mining for years. A few plants on the outskirts of Pune have already been forced to shut down by agitating farmers.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

India’s wetlands in peril Wetlands across the length and breadth of the country continue to face destruction as they become landfills, waste dumps or sewage or effluent sinks. In other cases they get built up, their water sources are drained away or their hydrology altered adversely. This has set in motion a process of impoverishment. The role of wetlands is proven, and the consequence of their destruction is nothing short of disastrous. What is needed is the will to protect these valuable landscapes.  Another detailed report on how Chennai faced the consequences of destroying wetlands.

Parliamentary panel wants NCR board to monitor conservation zones Unhappy with the shrinking of natural conservation zones (NCZs) like forests, waterbodies and wasteland in NCR, a parliamentary panel wants the government to empower the NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) to directly monitor the region. Between 1999 and 2012, there was an alarming depletion of NCZ in NCR. In Delhi, waterbodies shrunk by 22.6%, forests by 15% and wasteland by 11%, while in NCR, the maximum reduction in such areas was 55% in Gautam Budh Nagar.

Chennai: NGT stays construction of sewage treatment plant The South Zone Bench of the NGT in Chennai has passed an interim stay order on the construction of the Sewage Treatment Plant at Karimpanappalam in the city. This is the second time that the Tribunal is interfering in the case of the same plant. The Kozhikode Municipal Corporation had planned to construct the 13.5 mld plant within the Kottooly wetlands reclaiming 18.5 acres of it. Land encroached from Wetlands seems to be a favourite area where town planners like to build Sewage Treatment Plants, good to see that NGT has stayed this in one of the top five wetlands of Kerala, the Kottooly wetland in Kozhikode.

NGT bans construction in Porur lake, Chennai In an order aimed at protecting one of Chennai’s drinking water sources, the NGT southern bench here has directed officials concerned to ensure that no construction activity is undertaken in the Porur lake. Besides, it has banned private parties from drawing water from the lake. The bench also directed the Public Works Department to remove the bund it had put up in the lake.

Ensure wetlands are not reclassified: Madras High Court  The Madras High Court has asked revenue authorities of Madurantakam taluk in Kancheepuram district to ensure that there is no reclassification of wetlands as housing plots.

Also see, Petition filed in NGT for protection of country’s wetlands

जोहड़ों को प्रदूषित कर रहा गंदा पानी ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में भूमिगत जल का स्तर बढ़ाने वाले जोहड़ प्रदूषित हो रहे हैं। इसका कारण गांव से निकलने वाला गंदा पानी सीधे जोहड़ों में मिलना है। इसकी शिकायत करने के बाद भी जिम्मेदारों की तरफ से कोई गंभीरता नहीं दिखाई जा रही है। जोहड़ों में उच्च न्यायालय ने सीधे गंदा पानी जाने पर रोक के निर्देश दिए थे। इसका लगातार उल्लंघन किया जा रहा है। ग्रामीणों ने आरोप लगाया कि जोहड़ों को सुनियोजित तरीके से खत्म किया जा रहा है, ताकि जोहड़ की जमीन पर कब्जा किया जा सके। इसके लिए बड़े स्तर परे षड्यंत्र चल रहा है। इसके चलते ही लगातार भू-जल स्तर भी गिर रहा है।  ग्रामीणों का कहना है कि इसे जल्द नहीं रोका गया तो समस्या गंभीर हो जाएगी।

WESTERN GHATS

Gadgil takes green crusade to Wikipedia With the Centre and successive State governments in Maharashtra dumping his crucial report on the conservation of Western Ghats, ecologist Madhav Gadgil has now turned to Wikipedia to record his findings and present his solutions. Some of the content of Prof Gadgil’s comprehensive Wikipedia ‘exposition’ on the Western Ghats will be crowd-sourced, where people are free to contribute and add to articles already uploaded.

MONSOON-2016

Global forecasters expect monsoon-favouring La Nina to hold sway in 2016 After the harsh effects of El Nino, La Nina may be the harbinger of good tidings on the weather front. Global forecasters from Japan to Europe expect La Nina — a phenomenon associated with stronger monsoons across Asia — to hold sway in 2016. That could be good news for India, which has faced two consecutive drought years and could do with a good monsoon to shore up an uncertain revival. However, an Indian meteorologist said it was too early to say La Nina would set in during June-September and a clearer picture would emerge by January-February.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Six farmers in Gujarat village join to trap sun and power the grid It is a win-win for both while farmers are expected to earn Rs 100-150 a day, Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd        (MGVCL) will also save, as it buys power from solar power generating companies at Rs 13 per unit. The solar pumps can generate about 40-45 units of power every day and can help reduce the burden on state discoms that sell subsidised power to farmers in Gujarat at an average of 56 paise per unit while paying Rs 5 per unit to private power suppliers. Tushar Shah and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) efforts seems to leading to some results, hope this spreads.

SOUTH ASIA

Bhutan: Trilateral cooperation likely for Kuri -I The most recent development in pursuing the 1125MW Kuri-I project is that the project might be considered for development through a trilateral co-operation between Bhutan, Bangladesh and India. The project was initially envisaged as the Rotpashong project given its vicinity to the famous Rotpashong landslide between Mongar and Lhuentse. DGPC’s managing director, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said Bangladesh has always been keen to get access to Bhutan’s hydropower and if a trilateral arrangement can be worked out, Bangladesh could be not only getting energy from Bhutan but also investing in Bhutan’s hydropower. 1125 MW proposed Kuri 1 project on Kurichhu River in Bhutan could see first trilateral project also involving Bangladesh in addition to India and Bhutan, says DGPC MD.

Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, Cabinet clears revised cost of Afghan dam Salma Dam in Afghanistan, being constructed by WAPCOS, has seen numerous cost escalations. Cabinet has cleared the latest one ahead of PM’s visit to Afghanistan. The 107.5 m high dam project on Hari Rud river in western Afghanistan on with 42 MW hydro component and 75000 Ha irrigation component will now cost Rs 1775.69 Crores.

Korean companies keen to pursue hydro projects post earth quake Excerpts from Korean ambassador Choe Yong Jin interview on the potential for post-earthquake reconstruction. About involvement of Korean companies on restarting hydro projects this interview says. “Currently, Korean companies have been engaged in Chameliya Hydropower project (30 MW), Upper Trisuli I (216 MW) and Upper Modi Project (42 MW). (About Upper Trisuli). It is now necessary to conclude the PDA (Project Development Agreement) as well as PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) as soon as possible to start construction.”

CHINA

Work starts on China’s third-largest hydro project Located at the mainstream of the Jinsha River between Donghui county of Sichuan province and Luquan county of Yunnan province, the Wudongde hydropower station, also the world’s seventh-largest dam including those under construction, will have a total installed capacity of 10,200 megawatts, CTG said. China, the world’s top hydropower market, will build more hydropower plants during the next five years, as the country plans to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to around 15 percent by 2020, experts said. The hydropower capacity in China already exceeds that of Brazil, the United States and Canada combined and accounts for about 27.4 percent of the total hydropower generation.

Also see, A predictable landslide in Shenzhen has raised more doubts about China’s industrial safety

REST OF WORLD

Indigenous Villagers Fight “Evil Spirit” of Hydropower Dam in Brazil The 7.7 billion-dollar Sao Luiz Tapajós dam project has been delayed once again because of challenges to the environmental permitting process. The dam will flood 330 sq km of land. The area is home to 12,000 members of the Mundurukú indigenous community and 2,500 riverbank dwellers who are opposed to the “megaproject”. The Tapajós River, which flows into the Amazon River, runs 871 km through one of the best-preserved areas in the subtropical rainforest, where the government whittled away at protected areas in order to build the hydroelectric dams, which are prohibited in wildlife reserves.

Is the era of dam-building over?  Backers of several major projects say it shouldn’t be. Drought, climate change and environmental curbs on water deliveries are fueling campaigns for more water storage in California. Sites Reservoir as it would be called after the tiny settlement it would wipe off the map is one of a handful of resurgent proposals challenging the notion that the era of big dam building is over. Central Valley growers especially are pushing dam projects as their salvation, despite multibillion dollar price tags and studies that show the new reservoirs would do little to boost the state’s overall water supplies.

Also see, Brazil dam burst aftermath in pictures

The world’s 4th largest lake has dried up to less than 10% its size and is now a giant desert, dotted with shipwrecks Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 km2 (26,300 sq mi), the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects. By 2007, it had declined to 10% of its original size. The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called “one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters”. The region’s once-prosperous fishing industry has been essentially destroyed, bringing unemployment and economic hardship. The Aral Sea region is also heavily polluted, with consequential serious public health problems.

Saving the Amazon means saving more than just trees: Study  Previous studies have already shown that damming can have serious effects on fisheries is a threat to the food security of populations whose diet consists heavily of fish. This is a serious concern, as dams are widespread in the region already, and many more future projects are being considered. As the authors point out, if all currently planned dams in the Amazon were to proceed with construction 277 in all only three free-flowing tributaries would be left in the entire basin.

Pollution making bacteria antibiotic resistant Environmental contaminants may be partly to blame for the rise in anti biotic-resistant bacteria, a new US study suggests. J Vaun McArthur from the University of Georgia tested his hypothesis in streams on the US department of energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS). McArthur tested five antibiotics on 427 strains of E coli bacteria in the streams. The results showed high levels of antibiotic resistance in eight of the 11 water samples. 

‘Saving energy saves water’ J Carl Ganter, Managing Director, Circle of Blue, in an interview  says that according to current estimates amongst the regions which are most vulnerable to water scarcity in the next 20 years, India comes number second after Middle East followed by Mexico and the American Southwest. On the question of how policy makers in India can bring changes in water usage, he says that government could reduce energy, farm subsidies that encourage wasteful pumping of groundwater.

Coca-Cola paying diet experts to counter obesity claims An insider account of manipulations coke indulges in.

UK floods: Misery for York, Leeds and Manchester as thousands of homes evacuated Swollen river Aire in Leeds rose to highest level ever recorded, as David Cameron promised to send more troops after worst floods in decades. The cities of York and Leeds have been brought to their knees, in what the leader of one local authority described as “a catastrophe waiting to happen”.  Worst Floods of decades in Northern England, River Aire reaches unprecedented levels, thousand evacuated.

Flooding forces mass evacuations in South America Floods displaced more than 150,000 people in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay this week after days of torrential rains blamed on El Niño.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Cold desert getting warmer, remedial measures stressed A gradual rise in temperature and receding glaciers during summer have turned out to be a challenge for people of the cold desert in Ladakh. Experts and local residents believe that some “drastic and immediate remedial measures” are required to deal with the changing climate in the region. What is more worrying is that “glacier lake bursts” (melting of glaciers and formation of lakes), which is triggering floods in Ladakh, has become a regular phenomenon. Man-induced anthropogenic interference and global warming are attributed as the main reasons for it.

Extreme weather linked to El Niño and climate change From some of the worst floods ever known in Britain, to record-breaking temperatures over the Christmas holiday in the US and forest fires in Australia, tumultuous recent weather events are likely to be down to the natural phenomenon known as El Niño making the effects of man-made climate change worse, say atmospheric scientists. El Niño occurs every seven to eight years and is caused by unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. This year’s event is now peaking and is one of the strongest on record, leading to record temperatures, rainfall and weather extremes.

Tropical forests reduces global warming Tropical forests can play a major role in the reduction of atmospheric carbon and achieve a below 2 degrees C rise in global warming by 2050, says a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study is especially significant because forest management can be much more easily and quickly implemented than development of alternate renewable energy technologies and would account for much of the reduction in atmospheric carbon until reliable and efficient renewable energy technologies are put in place.

Fresh water carries carbon out of the forest: Study A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to take a comprehensive look at how carbon moves in freshwater across the entire United States. Researchers found that across the country, the ability of forests to store carbon is not as robust once freshwater is factored into the equation. They hope to introduce this as an important concept to consider when modeling how much carbon is stored in terrestrial landscapes.

Also see, Climate Change Killing Trees Off At Alarming Rates

COP-21 How the West had its way The story of the just-concluded COP-21 in Paris is one of clever manoeuvring by the U.S., both before and during the conference, false goals, and compromises by developing countries, all of which raise doubts about the seriousness of the West in fighting the war against climate change. Another account of how the west manipulated their way to achieve their objectives in Paris Climate meeting.

How India Failed At Paris Climate Conference By Gopal Krishna Toxics Watch Alliance India failed to do even what a small country like Nicaragua did in the Paris Climate Conference by raising its flag questioning the autocratic change introduced in the final draft at the last moment (from ‘shall’ to ‘should’ ) while adopting the 12 page long Paris Agreement dated 12th December, 2015. The Agreement being a legal text required application of basic legal knowledge by India. Like other world governments India too adopted an Ostrich policy with regard to climate crisis under the influence of undemocratic economic organizations and autocratic dictates of a supposedly democratic government.

Also see, Paris-The endgame for climate justice Op-Ed in Business Standard by Sunita Narayana, CSE  There is no target set for developed countries to take more aggressive cuts to reduce their contributions to the growing stock of emissions in the atmosphere. What is even worse is that Paris cements climate apartheid so that the historical responsibility of the developed world of creating the problem of emissions is erased and what countries like India have got are sweet nothings about ‘equity’ and ‘climate justice’. In this way, justice is kept as an illusion. The reality is that it is a deal that is inequitable and unambitious.

ENVIRONMENT

The state of India’s forests  Based on FSI report In December, two scientific publications showed the extent of forest cover in India. A study published in Biodiversity and Conservation, an international journal, shows a net loss of 243,447 sq. km (28%) in eight decades. According to the Forest Survey of India’s (FSI) biennial report for 2015, India’s forest cover increased from 640,819 sq km (64.08 Mha) in 1987 to 701,673 sq km (70.17 Mha).  Also see, About 19 lakh hectares forest land under encroachment in India: Govt

Irrigation dept going slow on moving out Pench colony in core forest area The land has not been vacated in spite of clear orders from Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. With just a week left for the deadline, wildlife conservationists have expressed concern over it. The colony is situated in 15 hectares and quarters were occupied by the staff of Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (MPSEB) and water resources department (WRD) for maintenance work of Pench Hydroelectric Power Project in Totladoh.

Mine blasts trigger panic among Mahendragarh Haryana villagers Residents of Dostpur village have been experiencing high-intensity tremors for the past over a month following heavy mine blasts being carried out by a Rajasthan firm on the Krishnavati river. The village is located on the border of Haryana and Rajasthan. The villagers live under constant fear as several houses here have developed cracks due to the strong impact of the blasts. The villagers alleged that the Rajasthan firm had illegally been carrying out mining activities in Haryana, while it had taken lease for mining zone located on the border of both states.

Slowdown Signals: In power sector, signs that growth not plugging in Of the country’s total installed generation capacity of 2,68,603 MW, the peak demand met at the height of summer this year May 23, 2015 was less than half at just 1,34,892 MW. Over 57 base-load thermal units across India’s northern and western heartland on that day were faced with ‘reserve shut-down’, a technical term for a unit shut down due to lack of demand.  

Also see, Low solar tariffs in India could put off potential investors

One Comment on “DRP News Bulletin 28 Dec. 2015 (Farmers field school in Jharkhand shows the way in integrated farming)

  1. The DRP News Bulletin is really a great job being done by the SANDRP.

    Why don’t the SANDRP convert this compilation into SANDRP WATER YEAR BOOK ?

    The same will help researchers, writers, analyst and policy makers as reference book.

    THINK, if you find useful ?

    Regards ARUN

    Regards ARUN

    Like

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