DRP News Bulletin 04 Jan. 2016 (Rivers are soul of India: PM Narendra Modi)

Rivers are soul of India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi  Excerpts From text of PM’s inaugural address at 103rd session of Indian Science Congress, Mysuru Rivers have played as important a role in human history as oceans. Civilisations have been nurtured by rivers. And, rivers will remain critical for our future. So, revival of rivers is an essential part of my commitment for a cleaner and healthier future for our society, economic opportunities for our people, and renewal of our heritage. We need regulations, policy, investments and management to achieve our objective. But, we will succeed only when we integrate technology, engineering and innovation into our efforts, not just to clean our rivers now but to keep them healthy in the future as well. For this, we also need scientific understanding of the impact of urbanisation, farming, industrialisation and groundwater use and contamination on the river eco-system. River is the soul of Nature. Their renewal must be an element of a larger effort to sustain Nature.

SANDRP Blog Annual Report for Year 2015 Word Press has created this annual report for SANDRP blog. There were 148 blogs till Dec 29 on SANDRP blog this year, over 240 000 views and counting. We are thankful to all concerned, and hope we continue to get the support in 2016. Feedback, as usual, is welcome. VERY BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY, PEACEFUL AND ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY 2016! SANDRP TEAM.

HYDRO POWER

Arunachal  India’s Free Flowing Frontier Part I: Dibang at Nizamghat Photo blog (part I) by Parineeta Dandekar, based on her recent trip to North East, about Dibang River, one of the last free flowing rivers of India, under threat from numerous proposed hydropower projects. Some excerpts… In an otherwise dammed country, rivers of the North East are our last free flowing frontier. The mighty Siang, Dibang and Lohit which join to form the Brahmaputra have flown unbridled here. Western parts of Arunachal Pradesh and eastern parts of Assam: The Upper Assam is a magical transition ecosystem, where mountain rivers metamorphose and change their form. It is here that rivers, held together in the tight embrace of mountains, suddenly find themselves free to widen, meander, deposit their load of silt and take leisurely curves.

1 MW Tirathju Mini-Hydro Power Station remains neglected The Tirathju MHS at Khonsa is one of the oldest Hydel Station of Arunachal Pradesh. This Hyhel power station is critical for regular power supply to remote circles of Dadam, Kapu and Khonsa town of Tirap district. The project has been non-functional since 2005 due to landslide in the power channel region. After a minor civil work, the Hydel was made functional from 22nd June,2015 for a brief period and washed away another portion of water channel as a result again hydel station now remain defunct due to want of maintenance fund. Neglect of 1 MW small hydro power project in remote area of Tirap district in Arunachal Pradesh.

Uttarakhand Pollution Board issues notices to 15 hydro power companies, Haridwar Ashrams for throwing muck and waste in Ganga Incidentally, hydro-power companies have been coming under the scanner for throwing debris into the river directly after blasting in the hills, without adhering to the required guidelines. The board has come down heavily on some 15 hydro-power companies across the state and issued notice to them not to do so and make some permanent arrangement in this regard within three months. These companies have also created housing colonies where the staff and families of the workers and officials live. According to officials of the board, the residents of these colonies, too, have made no arrangement of STPs and are dumping sewage directly in the rivers. The board has also directed them to create STPs within three months.  The board issued the notices in the wake of NGT directions on this matter.

Himachal Activists suggest basin wise study for hydro projects in Himachal Himachal Pradesh, hydro projects coming in any river basis conduct their own Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) due to which no effort has been made till date to know the carrying capacity of a basin. Satluj basin of Kinnaur district has become a live example of how bumper to bumper projects can spell doom. As now hydro projects are proposed in Chenab basin, green activists are demanding basin wise study for sustainable development. Dr J C Kuniyal of G B Pant Institute says that distance of free flowing river between two hydropower project should be at least 7 km, will the govt listen.

Larji Hydro Project a Killer: HC The Himachal Pradesh High Court on 02 Jan. 16 ordered compensation of Rs 20 lakh each to the families of 24 students of Hyderabad collegeVNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology who were washed away in the Beas River last year on 08 June, to be paid within eight weeks. While compensation is welcome, it is not clear if the HC also held the responsible officers accountable and directed corrective measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future.

Madhya Pradesh Maheshwar Hydro Power Project Turning a full circle The situation that Maheshwar Project is in, brings sharply into focus the issue of accountability of those responsible for the decisions that impact millions of people, involve thousands of crores of rupees and vast natural resources. Shripad Dharmadhikary’s article on the mess that the Maheshwar Hydropower project is in, with the lenders stepping in to take over the project from the private promoters, and NGT restricting closing of gates due to non-compliance on resettlement of oustees.

Kerala Also see, Kannur to get its first hydel project A 15 MW, Rs 120 Crore hydropower project to generate 36 MU of electricity from Bharatpuzha river in Kannur district in Kerala to be commissioned soon.

DAMS

Gujrat Narmada project: Against CM’s adviser suggestions, govt opts for underground pipeline, invites tenders The government move overrides the recommendations of an expert group led by B N Navalawala, adviser to the Chief Minister Anandiben Patel on Water In its report, the group had strongly recommended against UGPL as an alternative to sub minor canals for the Narmada Project. Sub-minor canals were said to be important for the CAD as those would have brought irrigation water to agricultural fields. The government has already started floating tenders for laying UGPL network at a cost Rs 2,000-3,000 crore. The estimated cost of the total project is around Rs 45,500 crore. Sardar Sarovar to go for Underground pipelines in place of sub minor canals, this only goes to show how far from completion the command area development is, why is the government raising the height of the dam then?

Gujarat: Dams empty, state set to face water crisis in summer Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has already declared that the farmers should not demand water for irrigation this year as the available water will be used only for drinking. Except the Narmada dam in south Gujarat, most of the dams and reservoirs in the State have less than 50 per cent water, forcing the authorities to reserve it only for drinking purposes, particularly for Saurashtra. Several towns like Porbandar and hundreds of villages in Saurashtra are already facing shortage. In Porbandar town, water is provided once a week in several areas. Two main reservoirs that provide water to the area may go dry in a month.

Also see, Dams only half-filled, irrigation woes loom in Gujrat According to official figures, only 53 per cent water is available on average in 202 dams in the state, excluding the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The situation is worse in Kutch and Saurashtra, according to the Water Resources Department. Experts in the government said in the upcoming season, farmers should not only go for less water-intensive crops, but also opt for alternate irrigation technologies like drip and sprinkle irrigation.  

Storage status of 91 reservoirs as on  31.12.2015 As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 31.12.2015, live storage available in these reservoirs is 72.098 BCM, which is 46% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. This storage is 79% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 75% of storage of average of last ten years.

Maharashtra: 8 years on, hope for tribals hit by Lendi irrigation project Almost eight years after tribals in the then Thane district’s Jawhar tehsil lost their land to the Lendi Irrigation project, the government has accepted that the official land acquisition process was not followed. After a relentless struggle through the years, paper work for official land acquisition will be completed in 2016 under new the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, as land has already been used to construct a dam. The dam is now part of newly formed Palghar district.

Also see, Thermal power plants in Maharashtra get 44% of dam water for industry

Madhya Pradesh: Farmers go on rampage to stop water distribution from Chamleshwar dam Farmers from 15 villages of Manasa tehsil set a water filter plant ablaze and destroyed a pipeline in Neemuch after their 10-day-long protest to stop a project to apportion water from Chamleshwar Dam to 29 more villages became violent on 01 Jan. 2016. The protesters fear distribution of water to more areas will cause water shortage in the villages located near the dam built on Rupa river, a tributary of Chambal. The farmers said the authorities had acquired their land for construction of the Chamleshwar Dam and were supplying water to them for last 20 years, but now suddenly they decided to distribute water to 29 other villages without consulting them. Also see, Protesting farmers ransack Chamleshwar dam premises in Neemuch distict

Odisha alleges Polavaram took off sans MoTA, green clearances The state government 01 Jan 16 claimed that the controversial Polavaram project, which is being taken up by Andhra Pradesh government with support from the Centre, never obtained clearances from the ministries of tribal affairs and environment. According to the memorandum, 25 habitations (15 revenue villages and 10 hamlets) will be submerged and 7,656 hectares of land (3,469 hectares of reserve forest land, 2,069 hectares of village forest and 2,046.36 hectares of cultivable land) will be inundated if the AP government raises the height of the dam to 220 feet. The draft memorandum also states that a total of 6,818 people, including 5,916 tribals, will be displaced due to the project. Wish Orissa has woken up and raised these issues earlier and at right forums.

Also see, Kerala Cry Me A River AMAZING way to tell why Athirapally Dam on Chalakudy River in Kerala should not come up, a tale of decades long struggle.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

NITI Aayog Vice-chief All Praise for Naidu on River Inter-linking NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya appears to have been quite impressed with the interlinking of Godavari-Krishna rivers project, an initiative of chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Very strange, unwarranted praise from NITI Ayog Chair for so called ILR in Andhra Pradesh when all evidence is to the contrary.

Interlinking Godavari, Krishna my most satisfying exercise, will complete Polavaram in 2016: Andhra CM While many issues including the title one are flawed, a couple of great ones. AP CM wants to focus on groundwater recharge “The idea is to bring the average ground water table to three metres across the State. We are planning smart water grids, installation of piezometers to record water levels in villages and mandals. We want to involve people, especially farmers in the exercise. One metre ground water re-charge is equivalent to 90 TMC of water. Besides, there will be no evaporation loss and a lot of energy can be saved.” and building 10 lakh farm ponds are positive ones.

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Mamata should shut Kolkata Port: Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian VERY interesting to read that the Chief Economic Advisor has suggested that Kolkata Port can be closed down and the land can be used for alternative options. Can this also lead to operational decommissioning of Farakka barrage, since the barrage’s main objective is navigability of Kolkata Port.

IRRIGATION

Andhra: Review of Irrigation Projects 2015 The irrigation profile of the State has not undergone any major change during the year except for continuation of work on several ongoing projects, mostly lift irrigation, as the better part has been spent in investigation, study, planning, designing and talks with neighbouring States to settle disputes. However, Mission Kakatiya, one of its flagship schemes, has provided a ray of hope by wetting the fields wherever there were good rains.

Pattiseema project not useful for Rayalaseema people says Congress In one breath, Andhra Pradesh Congress leaders are saying that Pattiseema project is useless for the people of Rayalseema, and yet demanding completion of Polavaram Project which is clearly anti people for Andhra, Telangana, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Also see, APKRS blames Pattiseema project for water scarcity in delta

Tamil Nadu: Farmers protest against frequent stealing of irrigation shutters According protesting farmers body the State Government had allocated Rs.4.25 crore for modernisation of the irrigation channel. However, despite modernisation, the shutters of the channel were constantly found stolen. Penukondapuram Lake was filled to the brim this year due heavy rain. Yet, water never reached the tail-end of the irrigation link due to the failed shutters. According to the farmers, in 2015, 18 shutters of the total 25 shutters were found to be stolen. The lack of protection to shutters has affected water sharing between farmers along the span of the irrigation channel.

Punjab: Contrary to PSPCL claims, farmers rue power supply shortage The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) claims to have ample power and has even shut 10 units of state-owned thermal plants but farmers in many parts of the state claim that they are not getting enough power for irrigation. They say they have to rely on generator sets. They say wheat and vegetable crops need water supply and the PSPCL is supplying water only during night hours and that too is erratic and without any prior information. Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations president Satnam Singh Behru alleged that the power supply situation was irregular during the paddy season also.

RIVERS

Jhulelal or Zindapir: River Saints, fish and flows of the Indus  An unusual blog from Parineeta Dandekar on Indus river, Palla/ Hilsa fish and sufism & other cultural connections. Some excerpts…. We need a perspective towards water management which aspires not only for improved irrigation and hydropower, but respects the livelihoods, culture, folklore, music and philosophy of our rivers embodied in miracles like the River Saints of Indus…Indus is as much about the Palla reaching its Murshid, as it is about dams and hydropower… Please spread the word.

How did Indian rivers fare in 2015?  Informative compilation by Swati Bansal, India Water Portal on major events concerning Indian Rivers in 2015. Some excerpts… ‘Namami Gange’, big budgets, ‘Yamuna Aarti’, interlinking of rivers and many other plans were made by the government to better our rivers. Have they helped? Amidst such gloom, here is a recap of important news related to some of the major rivers this year.

Saving India’s Rivers and Riverine Ecosystems Comprehensive composition by Jagdish Krishnaswamy highlighting the plight of Indian Rivers. Some excerpts…  All over India, from small headwater streams in forested mountains to large rivers, projects for hydropower generation, abstraction of water for industry, towns and cities, and even large-scale inter-basin water diversions are ongoing and planned. Add to that the polluted state of our major rivers, and we can imagine the magnitude of the problem.

Maharashtra: Lifting water from Panchganga & Bhogavati rivers banned The poor rainfall for two consecutive years has forced the administration to ban lifting of water for irrigation purposes from Panchganga and Bhogavati rivers. The administration has already banned lifting of water from two other rivers, Chitri and Hiranyakeshi, last month. After 20 years, river lifting banned in Kolhapur District of Maharashtra, otherwise known to be a prosperous, water-surplus region.

The story of Mumbai’s abused, polluted Mithi river is anything but sweet Photo Essay on Mithi River Pollution by Rohit Sharma and Arpita Bhagat  One of the oldest rivers in the state, the Mithi is now nothing more than a sewage drain. In July, Maharashtra Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam declared that the stream consisted of 93% domestic sewage and 7% industrial waste. The polluted river and the destruction of mangroves are cited as one of the primary reasons for the July 26, 2005, deluge in Mumbai. The Mithi is a critical storm water drain for Mumbai.

Also see, Environment Ministry to issue notices to States on non-performing STPs

Karnataka: Yettinahole Diversion Project MoEF panel gives in-principle nod for diversion of forest land This is clearly wrong decision. The decision makers seem to have ignored the illegal work done so far, and pardoned the same, which is beyond their power. Secondly, how can they recommend in principle clearance while also asking for studies that will actually help decide if the project will go ahead or not? Thirdly, how could they have ignored the non viability of the project from hydrology point of view, as IISc scientists have shown that the river downs not the water?

GANGA Four Boats at a River Crossing along Ganga SANDRP Blog: Nachiket Kelkar writes poignantly about Ganga, her Dolphins, fish, fisherfolk and many many stakeholders: “There were four boats – four viewpoints, four realities that clashed at that crossing– but only over one finite river.”  

NGT order reminds Uttarakhand Govt of plastic waste disposal Bill The state government has woken up to the Uttarakhand Plastic and Biodegradable Waste and Disposal Regulatory Bill 2013 only after the NGT imposed a ban o the use of polythene bags from Gomukh to Haridwar. The Bill was passed in the Assembly and a gazette notification was issued. But it could not become operational in the absence of rules and guidelines for its implementation. As a result, the Act continues to gather dust in files though there is hope that the government will soon draft rules and guidelines so that it could be put to better use. Also see, Beach camps near Ganga on New Year’s eve defy NGT ban

Army roped in to help clean Ganga A battalion of the Indian Army has been hired for the purpose for a period of five years. Three more battalions would be added later. The battalion’s company has been pressed into service at Garh Mukteshwar and Anup Shahar where Union minister Uma Bharati would be making spot visits on January 4 and January 5, respectively. The personnel would not only be making people aware about the clean Ganga but also to carry out plantation drive at both places. Can Army help clean Ganga??

Ganga more polluted than ever, despite Indian government’s action plans Isolated studies indicate that contamination levels, especially in heavy metals, continue to rise around the river despite the many campaigns, including in stretches which were once thought clean.

YAMUNA Happy Waste Free Yamuna!  SANDRP Blog shedding light on huge amount of  solid waste being put in the river in its home land. River Yamuna appears flowing pollution and waste free in Himalayan stretch. But close observations go against this popular notion and paints grim picture of huge amount of waste finding its way in the river on a daily basis. In New Year 2016, State Government of Uttarakhand must act against burgeoning amount of solid and liquid waste being put in Yamuna River in its home land.

Aglar fish festival is brutal and unsustainable A must watch small but shocking film on impact of traditional fishing event over aquatic lives in Aglar river Dehradun a tributary of Yamuna.The event is held annually in June-July. Unlike olden times, now large numbers of local people take part in the event and use huge amount of toxic and other unsustainable fishing methods leaving the river and aquatic biodiversity in lurch. How long can we afford and allow such unethical and mass fish kill spree in the name of traditional festivals?

FLOODS

Delhi: INTACH submits a report to Delhi Govt. to make Delhi flood proof To avoid getting flooded like Chennai in a changing climate, Delhi will need to integrate its human settlements with small and large biodiversity habitats such as wetlands, scrub forests and floodplains. Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s (Intach) natural heritage division recently submitted an exhaustive report to Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) and other Delhi government departments on the impact climate change could have on Delhi, and how the city can prepare itself with maps of various geological zones.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

Gujarat: Waste disposal unit threatens wetlands Wetlands of Vadgam in Khambhat taluka of Anand district that has emerged as an important water body for migratory birds are facing threat as a common hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) is proposed there near the estuary region of Sabarmati river and Bay of Khambhat. Ahmedabad-based Hindustan Enviro Life Protection Services Limited is setting up the TSDF at Vadgam whose wetlands attract around five lakh migratory birds. Wildlife activists are seeing red over a proposed TSDF. Wetlands in Vadgam area in Sabaramati estuary in Bay of Khambhat in Gujarat are under threat for common hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility being constructed there.

Kerala: Survey demands steps to protect Kottooly wetland The Kottooly wetlands, in the heart of Kozhikode city, has been subjected to degradation and loss of biodiversity owing to reclamation, pollution and human intervention, says a survey conducted by the Department of Soil Survey and Soil Conservation recently. The survey found that a large portion of the wetland has been reclaimed for human settlement and that the reclamation is continuing. The survey result may have a direct impact on the Kozhikode Municipal Corporation’s attempt to construct a sewage treatment plant near the wetland and resisting the public uproar against it.  Kottooly wetland in Kozhikode, Kerala, identified as one of the 27 “extremely significant” wetlands of India under National Wetlands conservation program is facing encroachment, pollution and a number of other threats.

WATER

Maharashtra Nagpur union launches world-wide campaign against water privatization This is indeed GREAT to see. Despite failure and also irregularities, Nagpur’s water privatization model has been hyped in the nation and also at international level. To expose the hype and also impacts of water privatization, one of the trade unions from the city– Nagpur Municipal Corporation Employees Union has launched a world-wide campaign with the help of internationally acclaimed organizations. Also see, 2,000 water samples test positive for pollutants in Thane

‘Pesticide-like’ odour in water alarms Chennai residents Aftermath the floods in December, many sewer lines ruptured and sewage mixed with drinking water. Metrowater carried out repairs and restored regular supply, but the pesticide-like smell has put residents in a fix.

2016: Challenges on the water front Read worthy water wish list for 2016 by Vishwanath In 2016 we will become a water-literate society which realises its responsibility to this precious resource and will demand accountability from our governments for its cleaning up. That will be water wisdom.

Also watch, Problem of water pollution in India Video link to a discussion in Hindi on Water Pollution in Indian, involving Manoj Misra ji of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan and Vimal ji of Matu Jan Sangathan among others.

GROUND WATER

Ground water crisis deepened in India in 2015 Anuradha UV of SANDRP narrates in this blog how the groundwater crisis of India deepened in 2015. Groundwater issues made news repeatedly in the year 2015. The year saw a 14 per cent deficit in southwest monsoon increasing the dependence on ground water for agricultural, industrial and domestic use. The falling water table and pollution of surface and ground water sources made the situation critical in various parts of the country. Competing demands on the ground water led to protests and litigation.

DROUGHT

Maharashtra : 2015 worst year for farmers in a decade In Maharashtra’s Marathwada region – where 1,109 farmers have committed suicide over the last 12 months. In December, 112 farmers committed suicide. Over the year, Beed district fared the worst, with 299 suicides. Nanded reported the second highest figure 187. The state’s rural development minister Pankaja Munde, who called 2015 the “worst year in a decade” for Marathwada in terms of rainfall, said the government was considering the adoption of a method of irrigation that has been paying rich dividends in Israel.

AGRICULTRE

How much land is actually cultivated in India? The latest National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) report on land and livestock holdings estimates that around 95 million hectares of land was classified as operational holdings in 2012-13. The NSSO figure is about 65 million hectares lower than the numbers put out by the ninth agricultural census conducted in 2010-11. The census, conducted by the ministry of agriculture, says that total area under operational holdings was 159.6 million hectares. Sure, there are differences between the two surveys. This raises very imp question, but provides no clear answer. While latest (2012-13) NSSO survey says 95 m ha is under cultivation in India, the latest (2010-11) Agri census says it is 1599.6 m ha. Ministry of Agriculture stats have consistently been using the figure of 140-141 M ha.

Agriculture Minister Releases Horticultural Statistics In order to provide detailed information on horticulture crops, Union Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister, Sh Radha Mohan Singh released “Horticultural Statistics at a Glance – 2015” brought out by Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare first time on 31 Dec. 2015. Releasing the first issue of statistics the publication on horticulture, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said the data will help policy planners, farmers and other stake holders.

ENERGY OPTIONS

A big boost for solar rooftops in India as Cabinet approves Rs.5000 crore for promotion of Solar Rooftops in the country.  It is expected to help add 4200 MW of residential rooftop solar in next five years to 2019-20, and help reach the target of 40000 MW solar roof top (including industrial and commercial sectors) by 2022, out of the 100 000 MW of total solar target by that year. The capital subsidy of 30% will be provided for general category States/UTs and 70% for special category States i.e., North-Eastern States including Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. GREAT decision indeed, hope there are enough safeguards to avoid corruption. Also see, Annual solar power capacity to quadruple next fiscal year: Goyal

SOUTH ASIA

Dumping industrial waste in the Chenab river is worse than dumping it on dry land, says study Industrial waste dumped into Pakistan’s Chenab river is threatening aquatic plant life, says a new study conducted by researchers at the department of biotechnology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

THE REST OF ASIA

Cambodia PM stands by hydropower, dismisses critics as ‘extremists’ Inaugurating a $540 million, 246-megawatt hydropower dam in Koh Kong province on 30 Dec. 15, Prime Minister Hun Sen acknowledged some of the concerns, like flooding of forested land, but said Cambodia had no choice. He dismissed critics as “extremists” who were opposed to anything. Construction of Chinese-funded hydropower projects, which first started a decade ago in Cambodia, have raised alarm about the impact on endangered species, fish stocks and the communities that live off the rivers. Cambodia plans to build 14 hydro dams to be operational by 2020. An environmental group, NGO Forum on Cambodia, in a report said those already built had caused deforestation and hit water resources such as fisheries.

THE REST OF ASIA 

Dam, there goes the delta Field Notes by Nirmal Ghosh, Indochina Bureau Chief on the impact of multiple dams being built on Mekong River Studies predict the dams will severely affect migratory fish movements, reducing the volume and diversity of species. Reservoirs will accumulate silt which would otherwise be carried downstream by the free running river and deposited near its mouth, helping to stabilise the coastline. Vietnam is at the receiving end of an annual silt load of more than 160 million tonnes – and fears a significant loss of this sediment.

THE REST OF WORLD

River ecosystems show ‘incredible’ initial recovery after dam removal Two new studies led by Christopher Tonra, assistant professor of avian wildlife ecology at The Ohio State University, illustrate the stress dams impose on species that rely on salmon and the impact of dam removal on the well-being of that wildlife. The areas previously depleted of salmon are on a fast track to recovery in a shorter time than he ever expected after the dam removal, Tonra said.

Also see, Reservoir evaporation a big challenge for water managers in West

Wildlife catastrophe at Amazon dam a warning for future Tapajós dams A study of the 30-year-old Balbina dam found that biodiversity plummeted after it was built. 43 large dams are planned for the Amazon’s Tapajós River Basin, with hundreds more being considered for the rest of the Amazon. The challenge in the Amazon, with the recent onslaught of so many new dam projects, is to gather baseline wildlife data, study potential habitat impacts, and find solutions to be included in project designs to protect animals a near impossibility when governments, like that of Brazil, act in secrecy and largely fail to work with researchers.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan sign new Grand Renaissance Dam agreement Even before the impact studies have been started, officials say 50 percent of the dam’s construction has been completed. Egypt, which relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming, industry and domestic water use, has sought assurances the dam will not significantly cut its flow to its rapidly growing population. The Grand Renaissance Dam is the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter. Addis Ababa plans to spend some $12 billion on harnessing its rivers for hydro power production in the next two decades.

As hydropower dries up, Tanzania moves toward fossil fuels Although Tanzania has for many years depended on hydropower, the country’s electricity generation has moved increasingly toward gas over the last decade after off-shore gas deposits were discovered near Mtwara, on the southeast coast. While Tanzania has significant untapped renewable energy potential from sources such as geothermal, solar and wind, the government has mostly failed to tap this potential as an alternative to hydropower, said Agnes Mwakaje a climate change expert.

Zimbabwe turns to fossil energy, as drought bites With back-to-back droughts since 2013, Zimbabwe’s main hydroelectric power plant at Kariba is failing, forcing the southern African nation to turn to dirtier fossil fuel-based energies to make up for the deficit. The Kariba Hydropower Station is capacitated to generate 750 megawatts of electricity, but the plant has operated at just 63 percent of capacity since early October when the Kariba dam began to dry up. Faced with this crisis, the Government of Zimbabwe has now been forced to turn to emergency power plants that feed on diesel, an imported product that together with coal form the nucleus of climate change drivers.

Drowning in money: the untold story of the crazy public spending that makes flooding inevitable Article by George Joshua Richard Monbiot is a British writer, known for his environmental and political activism Many years ago, river managers believed that the best way to prevent floods was to straighten, canalise and dredge rivers along much of their length, to enhance their capacity for carrying water. They soon discovered that this was not just wrong but also counterproductive. A river can, at any moment, carry very little of the water that falls on its catchment: the great majority must be stored in the soils and on the floodplains.

Record flood hits US Midwest, threatens South The number of deaths rises to 22; officials expect the Mississippi River to crest at a level of 50 feet – a foot and a half higher than in the historic floods in 1993. The floodwaters that swept away cars and swamped living rooms decorated for Christmas slowly drained from homes and businesses outside St Louis, leaving behind months of cleanup as the threat of record-breaking floods headed south toward towns and farm communities flanking the Mississippi River.

Dozens of fresh flood warnings issued for Scotland The Met Office warned Scots to prepare for more rain to come, with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) putting out 26 flood warnings. Another amber “be prepared” warning was issued with heavy and prolonged rain expected to fall until 9pm tonight in Grampian, Angus, Perth and Kinross, and the eastern fringes of Stirlingshire. There were warnings offshore as well with the Met Office saying waves would be as high as 9m – the height of two double decker buses.

Also read, UK flooding: How a town in Yorkshire worked with nature to stay dry

Colombia Declares Red Alert Due To Excessive Heat Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam) warned of the high probability of forest fires taking place because of high temperatures caused by the El Nino phenomenon, EFE news reported. According to the National Risk and Disaster Management Unit on Sunday, a total of 15 forest fires have been reported from Boyaca, Cundinamarca and Antioqia provinces.

Tagus river pollution the worst environmental occurrence of 2015 Portuguese environmental group Quercus has elected the persistent pollution of the Tagus River as the worst environmental incident of the year. It also elected the taxation of shopping bags as the best move in favour of the environment of 2015.

A free-standing, waste-trapping floating dam could revolutionize ocean clean-up An innovative floating dam that traps plastic bags, bottles and other debris contaminating the world’s oceans will be tested in the North Sea for the first time next year. The Ocean Cleanup Organization plans to install this revolutionary 328-foot-long barrier in the summer, off the coast of the Netherlands.

Also see, Worst cases of toxic discharge in 2015

CLIMATE CHANGE

El Nino not yet done, could cause more damage in coming months The latest satellite imagery released by Nasa suggests that over the next few months, the current El Niño conditions could even rival the intensity of 1997-98 — which saw deadly heat waves in Australia, devastating forest fires in Indonesia and flooding in Peru and California, killing 23,000 people worldwide. The fingerprints of El Niño were seen all over the world last year. It led to heat waves caused by delayed monsoon in India. Here, rainfall in August was 22.54% below normal, making it the driest month of the monsoon season. Delhi, too, witnessed a warmer-than-usual December heading into cozy January days.

Analysis: Only one meteorologist in entire US linked ‘climate change’ to record hot Christmas A Raw Story search of broadcast and cable news weather forecasts between Dec. 21 and Dec. 29 (via TVEyes) revealed that Steve Mac Laughlin of WTAE was the only meteorologist to note that the weather patterns had been “enhanced by climate change” and El Niño. In fact, a number of meteorologists went out of their way to explain why the high temperatures could not be tied to climate change. But meteorologists outside the U.S. were found to regularly connect climate change to the record-breaking temperatures. Also see, It took El Niño to get Canadians talking about climate change

What’s Ahead for Climate Change in New Year? 2016 stands to be critical for greenhouse gas emissions cuts in the United States as the country finds ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet its long-term climate pledge made in 2015.

ENVIRONMENT

Zero effect growth, Greening ‘Make in India’  An informative article by Manoj Misra convenor Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan Before the ‘Make in India’ came the ‘Zero defect and Zero effect’ pitch. While ‘Zero defect’ was followed up by ‘Skilled India’, there was no commensurate action aimed at preventing industrial pollution as part of the ‘Zero effect’. The enhanced fines and penal clauses for pollution proposed recently by the environment ministry could be cited as a step towards the latter, but that is all post facto, where the track record of our pollution watchdog agencies especially at the State level is nothing to gloat about.

Ministry of Tourism issues categories of provisions for setting up STPs, Waste Management & Rainwater Harvesting System in Hotels & Guest Houses As enunciated in the respective guidelines issued by the Ministry of Tourism for approval/classification, the provisions with respect to Sewage Treatment plant, Waste Management system and Rainwater Harvesting system in the Starred hotels, Heritage Hotels, Guest Houses, as well as Guest Houses of Apartment category Hotels are given as under-(i) Starred Hotels:- Sewage Treatment plant, Waste Management system and Rainwater Harvesting system are mandatory. However, Sewage Treatment plant is not mandatory condition for Hotels which have obtained completion certificate for construction before 1st April, 2012. (ii)   Heritage Hotels and Guest Houses:- Waste Management system is mandatory. (iii) Apartment Hotels:- Waste Management system, Water Harvesting and Disposal/Recycling as per Pollution Control Board norms are mandatory.

CPCB calls for action plan on plastic waste Plastic use has seen rapid growth in the country. Around 12 million tonnes of plastic products are consumed every year and it is expected to rise further.  About 50-60% of this is converted into waste. According to a CPCB study, released in early 2015, around 3,501 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day across 60 major Indian cities. Most of that usually ends up at landfills where it leaks toxic pollutants into soil and water. It is not the first time that the CPCB has moved to address the problem of plastic waste. But rules for collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of plastic waste are widely flouted.

MoU signed between Norway and India for recycling of C & D Waste The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SINTEF, Norway and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) for cooperation in the development of human resource capacity building and scientific research in the field of Recycling of Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste in India. Construction industry in India generates about 10-12 million tons of waste annually. There is a huge demand of aggregates in the housing and road sectors but there is significant gap in demand and supply, which can be reduced to a certain extent by recycling C&D waste. While some of the items like bricks, tiles wood, metal, etc. are re-used and recycled, concrete and masonry, constituting about 50% of the C&D waste is not currently recycled in India. Also see, Raptor MoU between Africa, Eurasia & India approved

MoEF Year End Review 2015: Highlights of the Achievements of the MoEF  Two Schemes namely Nagar Vana Udyan Yojana and School Nursery Yojana have been launched. Nagar Vana Udyan Yojana aims to create at least one city forest in each city with a minimum area of 25 ha. The scheme aims at creation of a City Forest in forest areas within their jurisdiction up to a maximum of 100 ha and minimum area of 20 ha. The objective of the Yojana is to create 200 City Forests in the country.   The School Nursery Yojana aims to build a lasting bond of students with nature.

Sabarimala authorities seek 500 hectares forestland in Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has decided to approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek the delinking of 500 hectares of forestland in and around Sabarimala from the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) to provide basic pilgrim facilities as recommended by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament a decade ago.

Also see, Chipko movement to save tea gardens begins in Uttarakhand

SANDRP Blog Annual Report for Year 2015 Word Press has created this annual report for SANDRP blog. There were 148 blogs till Dec 29 on SANDRP blog this year, over 240 000 views and counting. We are thankful to all concerned, and hope we continue to get the support in 2016. Feedback, as usual, is welcome. VERY BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY, PEACEFUL AND ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY 2016! SANDRP TEAM.

You may also like to explore DRP News Bulletin Dated 28 Dec. 2015

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