DRP News Bulletin 11 Jan. 2016 (Punjab Villagers oppose Dam on Ghaggar River)

86 Villages rise in protest against dam on Ghaggar  A dam is proposed to be constructed on the Ghaggar, near Banur, at a cost of Rs 75 crore. An agreement was signed between representatives of various villages located downstream and the Irrigation Department in 2006 promising 200 cusecsto irrigate fields in thesevillages. Villagers now fear that they will not get the promised 200 cusecs after the construction of the dam. Their claim is that the water flow in the river is much lower than 400 cusecs, as claimed by the irrigation department. The department, on the other hand, sticks to its stand that the water flow in the river is sufficient enough to feed the canal and the villages downstream. However, a perusal of the monthly average discharge data of the river for the past 10 years, defies the department’s claim. It revealed that the average yearly discharge barely crossed 400-cusec mark over the past 10 years, excluding the peak period (July to September). Interestingly NABARD and the State Irrigation department had separately conducted studies of the project well before giving it a green signal.

WORLD FISH MIGRATION DAY

Zeb Hogan invites you to join World Fish Migration Day on 21 May 2016 You are invited to celebrate the WFMD 2016 with us and organize your own event. Together we can make the difference and improve the publics’ understanding of the importance of open rivers for migratory fish. In 2014 we celebrated our first WFMD on May 24th. It was a great success, with over 270 events worldwide and help from over 1000 organisations worldwide.

HYDRO POWER

SANDRP Blog: What do hydropower projects commissioned in 2015 tell us? The narrative shows how seriously problematic are each of the hydropower projects that were commissioned in 2015. The reason for going into details about projects commissioned in 2015 is to illustrate how seriously problematic our decision-making has been, even currently. Evidently, there is a need to overhaul decision making surrounding hydropower projects. Are we paying any attention to this? Unfortunately, no.  

Also see, Hydropower projects in India: Important 2015 Developments This year end review of hydropower projects in India tells us that our decision making surrounding hydropower projects is flawed and that we can and must change the way the decision making system in functioning. On the other hand, power generation performance of hydropower projects continue to diminish and even for peaking power requirement, we do not really need more hydropower.  

UTTARAKHAND 252 MW Devsari Dam on Pindar shelved by forest panel An expert panel deferred forest clearance for the 252MW run of the river Devsari hydro electric project (HEP) in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand as concerns over wildlife, religious importance of the project site and cutting down of a sizeable forest area remained unresolved. The Devsari HEP is located on Pindar River, the only northward bound Himalayan Rivers in India, and it is one of the main tributaries of Alaknanda River according to environment ministry data. The Devsari project is one of the 74 HEP’s proposed in the Alaknanda River basin, according to the SANDRP. The bigger HEP’s in the Alaknanda River basin such as Devsari have faced a lot of local protests following the Uttarakhand disaster of 2013.

MoEF cites century old documents to clear stalled hydro projects on Ganga Citing a 1916 pact, an affidavit filed by the ministry of environment and forest to the Supreme Court on 07 Jan. 16 said that hydroelectric projects on the Ganga will be subjected to a 100-year-old rule that they ensure the natural flow of the river does not fall below 1,000 cusecs. Work on more than 24 hydroelectric power projects in Uttarakhand was stopped in 2013 shortly after vast portions of the state were devastated by flash floods. Much of the destruction was blamed on unplanned urbanisation that stifled the Ganga. The whole purpose of the exercise is to anyhow, push for stalled hydro power projects on Ganga.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa river gets some respite Statutory clearance not given for the much touted Ken-Betwa model link project of the Interlinking of Rivers programme due to extreme social and environmental concerns. “The project has also kept silent on environmental flows to be ensured”, says Himanshu Thakkar speaking to India Water Portal. The EIA of the Ken Betwa link by the Agriculture Finance Corporation of India (now AFC Ltd) was claimed to be unscientific and inadequate on several grounds by SANDRP.

DAMS

Maharashtra: Pune district scanned 50,000 documents to speed up rehabilitation of dam-affected With at least 800 cases of rehabilitation for the dam-affected pending clearance, Pune district rehabilitation department has vowed to clear these at the earliest as well as check the original documents of the project-affected after several cases of forged documents have come out. The district presently has scanned as many as 50,000 documents of the project-affected to ensure no forged or bogus ones are produced for compensation. With 25 dams in the district, the rehabilitation officers have completed scanning documents of of four dams (Kasarsai, Dimbhe, Thitewadi,  Chaskaman dam). Presently, the administration has started scanning the documents of the project-affected of Andra dam and Malwande.

Goshikhurd Dam turning once alive village into ghost places Huffington Post Blog by Tushar Dhara Unlike “superstar” dams like Narmada and Tehri, which have attracted reams of press publicity and passionate tracts by academics and activists, Gosikhurd dam is relatively unknown. The number of people displaced is around 80,000 spread over 200 villages, including 93 which will go fully under water, becoming invisible or ghost villages. It is the last category of village that entranced me the most during my short visit. The story could have been more substantial. There are many disturbing facets to Gosikhurd dam and it is not really unknown, being the infamous “star”of the dam scam.

Madhya Pradesh: HC-sponsored report on Narmada oustees may expose Rs 1,500 crore corruption Seven years after it began its investigation, the Justice Shravan Shankar Jha Commission, set up by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, is all set to submit its detailed report on “massive corruption” which has in rehabilitating Narmada dam oustees in the state. The Commission was tasked to investigate the issue of fake land registries and four other types of corruptions that occurred in the rehabilitation of dam-affected families. Douting Madhya Pradesh government intentions, NAPM said, “The question remains, after this report, would the state government, Narmada Valley Development Authority and Narmada Control Authority fulfill their responsibilities towards rehabilitation of oustees.

Odisha: BJD raises Polavarm dam pitch in Bhubaneswar & districts With the political temperature surrounding the Polavaram dam rising, the BJD on 07 Jan. 16 organised a 12-hour strike on the issue in Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts. While the BJD upped its ante against the Centre over the issue, Union mines ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan met chief minister Naveen Patnaik and discussed issues pertaining to the state’s interest. Anti-Polavaram strike hits normal life in Odisha  The ruling party alleged that the project will lead to submergence of 7,656 hectares of land in Malkangiri district and displace nearly 7,000 tribal people. Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik had tweeted that his government will protect the interests of tribals at any cost. Senior BJD leader and state housing and urban development minister Puspendra Singh Deo said the state had given a proposal to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create three barrages instead to a big dam. BJD’s Polavaram Hartal Paralyses South Odisha Stating that the project will affect the interest of tribal people  and submerge a large area, the BJD leaders criticised national project status given to it though Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal (GWDT) and several other guidelines were violated. The BJD demanded withdrawal of national status and forest and environment clearance given to the project, reducing the height of the dam to 150 metres as per the agreement between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and cancellation of the tender process.

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Cabinet approves transfer of land from Farakka Barrage Project The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to transfer of 14.86 hectares of land from Farakka Barrage Project under the Ministry of Water Resources to Inland Waterways Authority of India under the Ministry of Shipping for construction of a new navigational lock parallel to the existing navigational lock at Farakka.

Also see, River information system inaugurating by Nitin Gadkari Inaugurating the river information system (RIS) for 145-km stretch of National Waterways 1 (phase 1 – Haldia to Farakka) on the Ganga here, the minister said it will monitor and track the movement of ships, and its role for waterways will be like an ATC. The minister said the phase-II of the system from Farakka to Patna and phase-III from Patna to Varanasi will also be implemented on a priority basis as efforts are on to develop the Ganga as a waterway. River Information System for Navigation, none for the people who use the river in every other way!

Andhra Pradesh: Inland waterway set to become a reality in State says Devineni Umamaheswara Rao, Irrigation Minister, Andhara Pradesh while interviewing to The Hindu on 02 Jan. 2016  Andhra Pradesh has massive plans.  Inland navigation along 85 km long Krishna from Pulichintala to Prakasham, dredging upstream of Prakasham barrage for sand for Amravati, building another 3 tmc capacity barrage upstream of Prakasham for Amravati, increasing capacity of Jalleru dam on Godavari to 20-30 TMC, besides asking L&T to complete the spillway of Polavaram, requiring foundation of 100 m depth.

IRRIGATION

Puducherry: RMIS census of minor irrigation schemes going on The census is expected to create a clear picture of the number of minor irrigation schemes, and the irrigation potential created. The Centrally sponsored scheme, ‘Rationalisation of Minor irrigation Statistics (RMIS),’ was launched in 1987. The major activity under the scheme is all-India census of minor irrigation schemes conducted once in five years in the States, covering all groundwater and surface water minor irrigation schemes. The fifth census of minor irrigation schemes will be conducted with reference year 2013-14. The data collected in the census is utilised for formulation of the proposals for the Five-Year Plans. The census data is also utilised extensively by Ministry of Water Resources various wings.

Punjab ‘emptying’ reservoirs to grow water-guzzling rice According to figures recently released by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Punjab has gone past the earlier all-time-high mark of 92.75 lakh tonnes, recorded in 2009-10. The water consumed by rice for the central pool is five times more than the capacity of the Gobind Sagar lake, the reservoir of the Bhakra dam. The reservoir’s gross capacity is 9,621 million cubic metres. In the 2015-16 season, the total paddy harvested was 180 lakh tonnes, of which the rice shelled was 120 lakh tonnes – consuming six times the capacity of the Gobind Sagar lake (the rice shelled is two-thirds of a given quantity of paddy). India exports about 100 lakh tonnes of rice annually, which implies that more than 38 billion cubic metres of water is consumed equivalent to 20 times the capacity of the Gobind Sagar lake.

Andhra Pradesh: Farmers Bodies demand to scarp illegal irrigation projects on Krishna & Godavari The State government should take immediate steps to stop construction of unauthorised irrigation projects on Krishna and Godavari Rivers by Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana and ensure availability of adequate water in the two rivers for farmers of the State, said members of various farmers’ organisations. In a resolution passed at a meeting of the Bharathiya Kissan Sangh and the Andhra Pradesh Raithanga Samakya (APRS), farmer leaders said governments in these the three States had been executing several irrigation projects to pilfer water. APRS president Yerneni Nagendranath said Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana were constructing the projects without permission or authorised allocation of water.

Gujarat: Farmers block highway to protest lack of irrigation water in Bhavnagar district, leaders detained Farmers allege that water released by Irrigation Department was not enough to reach many villages along the canal. As per the report several villages in the area are facing potable water crisis also and are forced to buy water from private suppliers. Farmers of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat have begun showing signs of frustration over lack of irrigation water to save the winter crop. Information trickling from remote parts of the area say, the farmers of Talaja and Mahuva of Bhavnagar district have gone restive, going so far as to block the highway connecting between the two towns.

RIVERS

And the Teesta flows  A photobook on Teesta River (Niyogi books, 2015) by Samita and Utpal Chaudhuri. They got inspired to write about it after their daughter Teesta died at 13 to encephalitis. Here is an interesting article introducing the book and their authors.

Goa: Mangnge Thapne a unique eco-theological ritual to save highly threatened crocodile The ritual of mannge thapnee is celebrated in Durbhat village on the bank of Zuari River, Goa every year on Paush Amavasya in the Hindu calendar, which corresponds to the first new moon day in January. Anthropologists and wildlife experts say the religious significance accorded to the estuarine crocodile—through rituals such as mangnge thapne—helps conserve not only these endangered species but also their habitat, the equally threatened mangroves. The unique crocodile worship ritual has also been documented from some other parts of India, including Gujarat (Kutch and south Gujarat), Maharashtra and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal.

Assam: Hungry Brahmaputra eating away Majuli island Erosion in Majuli, a large island on the Brahmaputra, has left scores of people bereft of livelihoods and hope. While the government has spent crores on anti-erosion measures, it hasn’t helped much. Very good photo feature on various aspects of Majuli island and Brahmaputra River in Assam by India Water Protal.

Telangana: Confluence of Musi and Krishna goes dry in Nalgonda Ganeshpahad villagers of Damarcheral mandal ferry across the Musi throughout the year to reach Wadapally, the temple town where the Krishna and the Musi meet. But, they have stopped using the boat to cross the river as it almost dried up since last January. The villagers used to walk across the river only in summer earlier. As the government, led by Mr Gadkari makes noise about waterways and a bill has been introduced in parliament that includes Krishna (the river in this report), this report shows how there is no water even for boats in traditionally perennial rivers.

Maharashtra: The Dahisar River, Mumbai is a sewer  From being a well-bodied river flowing through some localities of the northern suburb of Dahisar, including those adjoining the Borivali National Park, the Dahisar river is now reduced to a sewer, reflecting prolonged neglect. According to the latest pollution data the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) level in the river is 420 mg/l, way above the prescribed standard 30 mg/l. During summer, the water in the river dries up and therefore the concentration of the pollutants becomes higher. The river also ceases to flow at some points. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently announced that the government would implement a programme to tackle river pollution in the State. However, experts say the project does not focus on urban rivers that are in dire straits.

Andhra: Upcoming capital to have nation’s first underwater tunnel Amaravati, the proposed capital city of Andhra Pradesh, will have the country’s first ever underwater tunnel passing through the Krishna River. According to plans being drawn up by officials involved in the construction of the capital, the tunnel will be 3 km long and will be used for vehicular traffic. The tunnel is set to come up near Ibrahimpatnam on the outskirts of Vijayawada. The backwaters of the Prakasam barrage in Vijayawada extend up to Ferry village near Ibrahimpatnam. Since the proposed tunnel is transparent, motorists using it can see the aquatic life. The transparent road tunnel will connect the administrative capital with Vijayawada. The Vijayawada-Guntur region has been chosen for the river-front capital.

Kerala: District Administration plan project to save Periyar River As per the plan, local level monitoring committees will be constituted by all the 20 civic bodies through which the river passes to check the quality of water at the entry and exit points within their limits. If pollution levels are found to be high, more scientific tests will be conducted to identify pollutants and the source of pollution to take preventive measures. The committee, which will have experts, and representatives of local bodies, factories and NGOs, will prepare an action plan. According to environmentalists, there has been much hue and cry over saving the river.

Chhattisgarh: Water privatisation project affecting people around Shivnath river The Mahanadi’s longest tributary, the Shivnath, has borne the brunt of urbanisation and industrialisation but the impact has been felt the most by residents. This photo feature by India Water Portal shows how people are affected by the various activities related to the Shivnath river in Chhattisgarh.

आइये बनायें नदी पुनर्जीवन की असरकारी कार्ययोजना लेखक: अरुण तिवारी  नदी प्रदूषण मुक्ति असरकारी कार्ययोजना का सबसे पहला काम है अक्सर जाकर अपनी नदी का हालचाल पूछने का। यह काम अनायास करते रहें। नदी से आत्मीय रिश्ते बनाने के लिए। यह काम नदी और उसके समाज में उतरे बगैर नहीं हो सकता। नदी और उसके किनारे के समाज के स्वभाव व आपसी रिश्ते को भी ठीक-ठीक समझकर ही आगे बढना चाहिए। ठीक से कागज पर चिन्हित कर लें कि नदी को कौन-कौन, कितना, कहां-कहां और किस तरीके व वजह से प्रदूषित कर रहा है। नदी, खेती, धरती, पेयजल, सेहत, आमदनी, समाज और संस्कार पर प्रदूषण के प्रभावों को एक बार खुद जाकर ठीक आंखों से देख-समझ लें।

Yettinahole Diversion Project Activists slam green panel decision Environment activists alleged that the decision taken by Regional Empowered Committee (REC) of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) on Yettinahole project is against Forest Conservation Rule. Addressing a press conference, Karavali Jeevanadi – Nethravathi Rakshana Samiti president Vijayakumar Shetty and hydrology expert SG Mayya said that the REC has violated Forest Conservation Rules related to forest clearance for the project. The REC recently approved the proposal of Yettinahole project stipulating additional conditions to be adhered by the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited, which is implementing the project. Also see, Committee challenges former CMs to a debate with experts

NARMADA Madhya Pradesh पहली बार ठंड के मौसम में नर्मदा के बहाव क्षेत्र में पड़ी दरारें नर्मदानदी का यह दृश्य राजघाट से पांच किमी दूर का है। सर्दी के दिनों में पड़ रही तेज गर्मी के कारण नदी का पानी तो कम हुआ ही, बहाव क्षेत्र की जमीन भी फट पड़ी। लोगों के मुताबिक यह पहला मौका है जब ठंड के मौसम में ही बहाव क्षेत्र की जमीन में दरारें पड़ गईं।  नदीकिनारे काली मिट्‌टी है। इसे कुछ दिनों तक पानी मिले और तापमान बढ़े तो दरारें पड़ जाती हैं।

jld-a2875660-large

GANGA NGT directs Centre to take clear stand on Ganga rejuvenation Noting that industrial effluents and sewage discharged by industries were the primary cause of pollution in Ganga, the NGT on 05 Jan.16 directed the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government to take a clear stand on a mechanism to clean the river from Haridwar to Kanpur. The green panel also noted that the condition of zero liquid discharge on the industries situated along Ganga as well as installation of online monitoring system is difficult to be performed and achieved. The green bench said that it will take up the matter in relation to segment B of Phase-1 (Haridwar to Kanpur) on January 11 and posted the matter for arguments. The green panel had divided the cleaning work of Ganga into different segments — Gomukh to Haridwar, Haridwar to Kanpur, Kanpur to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.  

Government brings paradigm shift in the approach for faster implementation under ‘Namami Gange’ programme The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal for taking up Hybrid Annuity based Public Private Partnership (PPP) model under Namami Gange Programme which aims to reform the wastewater sector in India. Marking a paradigm shift in the implementation mode, Hybrid Annuity based Public Private Partnership (PPP) model will now be adopted to ensure performance, efficiency, viability and sustainability. Union Cabinet decision about PPP model, SPV for sewage treatment in urban areas along Ganga. This again shows unwillingness to address the governance, hoping that such “innovative” financing model will take care of the problems of the past. Also see, Public, private firms to get urban sewage treatment job Cabinet approves plan for companies to build and run projects in all 118 towns on the Ganga.

BARC tech to help clean Ganga of industry waste With the Centre taking multiple measures to fulfill its clean Ganga mission, the country’s premier atomic research body Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has offered membrane-based water treatment system to clean the national river. The department of atomic energy (DAE) in its presentation on 04 Jan.16 at the Indian Science Congress gave details of the system, describing how BARC is already providing technical support to the Jharkhand government for using this new and effective system to clean the holy Shiv-Ganga pond at Deogarh which attracts millions of devotees every year. Besides extending help for clean Ganga mission, the DAE has also been actively involved in the clean India mission through other technological interventions.

Also see, Months On, Headless Clean Ganga Mission in Low Tide  Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for better usage of space technology in routine governance had led to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) tying up with the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) to monitor pollution of the river. Months later, no substantial progress has been made by the Ganga mission, which is without a director, on creation of sewage treatment plants, with ISRO yet to start any work.

Uttar Pradesh: Bijnor gets water testing lab to monitor river pollution Too little, too late! More than a dozen big and small rivers flow through Bijnor finally joining Ganga and Ramganga River. Most of them are highly polluted owing to toxic effluent discharged into them by industries and municipalities. As per the data provided by Pollution Control Board (PCB), 21 industrial units are located close to these rivers in the district. Pollution of these streams resultantly of ground water has reached such an alarming level in the district that villagers have been forced to move to safer places.  According to a news report inserted in ToI 24 Dec. 15, 30% of Shahpurlal villagers, Bijnor has left the village due to high levels of pollution in the Chhoiya river. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/Polluted-Chhoiya-river-forcing-villagers-to-migrate/articleshow/50173628.cms). It took six months to find a location for the lab and for next one year it would be able to test only normal standards. The entire purpose of the lab is to ensure effective monitoring of polluting industrial units. What is the good of setting up a half functioning lab when the people have been falling sick and leaving their villages. It would have been far better if PCB first rather have started undoing the impact of already done pollution of rivers and ground water.

Uma Bharti launches Ganga Gram programme to curb water pollution Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti launched Gram Ganga program at Puth village in Hapur district in UP. Govt to spend Rs 1 crore per village in each of 200 villages in first phase, where local drains carrying sewage to the river to be diverted to a pond a natural sewage treatment, after which the water is to be used for irrigation. Ultimately the Seechewal model work to be implemented in 1600 villages. Also see, 1,600 villages along Ganga to be developed on Seechewal model

Also see, Saving turtles: WWF Hastinapur hatchery shows the way Turtle can also be an indicator of healthy aquatic life in a river.

Uttarakhand: Ardh Kumbh may end up further polluting Ganga The much anticipated Ardh Kumbh in Haridwar from next week may end up further polluting river Ganga as the mela authority, which has decided to set up around 7,000 plus makeshift toilets for the four-month-long event, hasn’t yet connected the loo pits with sewer lines. Officials said that they will be able to connect only a handful of toilets with sewer lines and for the remaining ones suction machines will be used to dump waste in sewer treatment plants (STPs). 

Ganga must be left to flow, unhindered Op-Ed in Free Press Journal by Bharat Jhunjhunwala, Economist The government is committed to maintain purity of Ganga which is most welcome. But there is a contradiction. The government is not taking any steps to restore free flow of Ganga; and is taking steps only to clean it of the pollution. Money is being given to municipalities to establish sewage treatment plants. Industries need to stop discharging polluted water into the river. These steps are necessary but will come to naught if parallel measures are not taken to restore free flow of the river.

Also see, गंगाजल कब होगा अविरलनिर्मल पड़ताल कर रहे हैं सुनीलदत्त पांडेय। तीन दशकों में गंगा की सफाई के नाम पर तीन हजार करोड़ रुपए खर्च हो चुके हैं। लेकिन गंगा की दशा नहीं सुधरी और इन सालों में गंगा की और भी ज्यादा दुर्दशा हो गई है। कभी गंगा को भारतीय संस्कृति का हिस्सा बताकर तो कभी जीवनरेखा बताकर सभी सरकारों ने इसकी महिमा गाने में कसर नहीं छोड़ी है। निर्मलता और अविरलता का दावा हकीकत में कोरा साबित हो रहा है। क्यों हो रही है इस पावन नदी की दुर्दशा और कौन है जिम्मेदार?

YAMUNA Delhi: Rs 5,000cr later, Yamuna stinks This was revealed by latest tests on Yamuna water by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) which submitted the results to the SC. The coliform level at Palla on October 14 was 2200 MPN per 100 ml, but at Nizamuddin the count was a horrific 1.6 crore MPN per 100 ml making it unfit even for bathing. Since 1994, when the apex court took up monitoring of steps to reduce pollution in Yamuna, Uttar Pradesh has spent Rs 2,052 crore, Delhi government and its civic bodies Rs 2,387 crore and Haryana Rs 549 crore to clean the river, taking the total to Rs 4,988 crore. Also see, Ammonia levels in Yamuna still alarmingly high: CPCB

Haryana: After NGT prod, Yamuna sewage plant on fast track Haryana Urban Development Agency has expedited the process of land acquisition for a sewage treatment plant (STP) in Sector 107, following an NGT order asking the authority to use “emergency clauses of land acquisition law” to meet the March 2017 deadline for the project. The 175 MLD (million litres per day) capacity STP is expected to come up on a 53 acre plot in Sector 107, along the Najafgarh drain. The project will cost Rs 210 crore, and it will treat sewage of sectors 3, 5, 12, 14, 16, 17, 25, 27, 28, 29, DLF, Palam Vihar, Dundahera and Mullahera. The treated water will then be released into Najafgarh drain, which flows into Yamuna.

Uttar Pradesh: Noida’s ambitious 200 crore River Front Development Plan latest threat to Yamuna & Hindon Officials said half a dozen companies have shown interest in developing Noida Authority’s ambitious Rs 200 crore riverfront development project along Yamuna and Hindon rivers  and a pre-bid meeting was held in Noida on Tuesday to appoint a consultant for it.The UP irrigation department has already given the project in-principle nod. Under the project a green corridor has been proposed across 600 acres and across 25km on the Noida to Greater Noida (west) Road near Sector 122. In the first phase, about 200 acres will be acquired and converted into the riverfront area.

Also see, Agra activists urge Akhilesh Yadav to save Yamuna The authorities should focus on measures to tap the drains opening into the river, discharging toxic waste and effluents in Agra. Other demands by activists like release of more water from Okhala barrage and construction of a barrage near Taj, dredging will do more harm than good to river.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

Maharashtra: BNHS Census to track Wetlands and Water Birds in Pune After the revival of the Salim Ali Bird count, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is all set to conduct and coordinate yet another bird census, in association with Wetlands International. This annual activity, called the Asian Waterbird Count (AWC), is part of the global International Water bird Census that focuses on monitoring the status of water birds and wetlands. It also aims to increase public awareness on issues in related conservation. Interesting that state of wetlands can also be gauged from this survey.

Karnataka: 40 per cent of Bengaluru’s sewage goes into lakes In the absence of a sewage network at many places in the City and due to weak sanitary lines, more than 42 per cent of the total waste water generated from households is getting into the lakes. This means the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is able to treat only 720 million litres per day (MLD), while the City generates about 1,240 MLD of sewage. Largely considered as a home for sewage, industrial effluents and weeds, the lakes in Bengaluru have lost their original importance. 42% of Bangalore’s sewage goes into lakes, says this report, clearly showing the shocking affairs of BWSSB. Also see, Life and water at Rachenahalli lake Bangalore A Photo feature on Rachenahalli lake in North Bengaluru by India Water Portal.

Karnataka Panel confirms builders, development agency encroached 11,000 acres lake land in Bengaluru The Lakebed Encroachment Committee, a panel set up by Karnataka Legislature found that 11,000 acres of lakes from 1545 lakes in both Bengaluru urban and rural districts were encroached. The panel was formed in September 2014. Bangalore Development Authority, the agency to build infrastructure in the city, has allocated 60,000 plots by encroaching lakes in the city. The panel in its report on 08 Jan. 16 identified 24 private builders that include Prestige Group, Shoba Developers, Advaita Developers, Adarsh Developers and Bagmane Techpark as private agencies that have encroached lakes in the city.

Rajasthan: HC directs Govt. to form Rajasthan Lake Development Authority  The High Court gave this direction on 04 Jan.16, while hearing a PIL on suo motto cognisance of a TOI report highlighting the deteriorating conditions of the lakes in Udaipur city. Meanwhile, the court has asked the government to appoint a transitory authority by January 15 and has also sought a detailed compliance report of its directions given during the hearing on February 15, 2015. Besides this, the court has directed the district collector to take immediate steps for the protection, conservation and development of all the lakes in Udaipur and draw a plan to ensure that the sewerage water do not make its way into the lakes due to leakage.

Uttar Pradesh: Stop sewage flow into Kathauta Jheel, Gomati Nagar: HC The court said if allegations prove true, flow of sewage water be stopped. It has directed authorities concerned to file action taken report on January 18. Apart from that, the Lucknow Nagar Nigam will also indicate what budget has been sanctioned for cleaning the big nullahs (1metre or wider) of 240 Kms and medium and small nullahs (less than 1 metre wide) of 630kms, the court said. Let us see what the HC does about this patently illegal dumping of sewage in the Jheel.

Also see, River pollution, dying wetlands halve migratory bird numbers in Bareilly The number of migratory birds flocking Bareilly this winter has reduced by nearly 50%, according to a recent survey conducted by a city NGO. Experts say change in weather conditions, pollution in river and insufficient water in wetlands are to blame. According to bird watchers, out of total 1,501 wetlands in the district, the migratory birds used to prefer many wetlands in and around the city. However, this winter, a large number of birds have been spotted only at three ponds, situated near Lal Phatak and in Akha village and IFFCO factory in Aonla.

WATER

NITI Aayog allots Rs 1,000 crore for toxic water zones The decision to install community water purification plants (CWPPs) was taken after the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) and India’s think-tank and policy forum on December 15. While NITI Aayog would fund only the capital cost of CWPPs, the states would ensure their operation and maintenance for at least seven years. They would also have to provide raw water sources, structures and electricity to run these plants. Water expert Himanshu Thakkar says depletion of groundwater levels, due to excess use and destruction of recharge systems, leads to contamination. Rainwater harvesting is the most cost effective and appropriate option. “Underground storages can also be considered,” he adds.

Karnataka: Bangalore STPs shows the way in water treatment The running cost of the plant is such that it requires about Rs.14 to Rs.16 for treating a kilo-litre of waste-water. In a city where people pay Rs.50 to Rs.100 for a kilo-litre of water for construction and landscaping purpose it is entirely possible that such WWTPs recover their cost through the sale of treated waste-water. Currently the city is planning to set up 108 decentralised small treatment plants of 1 MLD capacity in the villages and pockets which do not have sewage lines and STPs. A wonderfully working sewage treatment plant from Bangalore in an otherwise bleak scenario, Zen Rainman gives us good news. Also see, There is no such thing as waste-water. One more story on how Bangalore is treating its waste water.

Himachal: Jaundice cases due to sewage contamination mount to 500 in Shimla The Shimla Municipal Corporation has attributed the jaundice outbreak to sewage contamination in Ashwani Khud, which supplies potable water to one-third of the city’s population. Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar said plant uses an outdated technology for reusing the water. He further said that the testing of potable water for virus causing hepatitis is not done as there is no such laboratory in the state. In 2007, 2010 and 2013, a large number people in the town tested positive for Hepatitis E, a liver problem caused by the consumption of water contaminated by sewerage. Sorrow state of affair. Managing sewerage is becoming difficult everywhere. Unlike plain areas, the said STP failed to treat even pure sewage. Large number of jaundice and typhoid cases caused by sudden or gradual sewage contamination in hillside areas goes unreported.

Also see, HC Himachal summons top officers over water contamination issue Taking a serious note of supply of contaminated water in Shimla town, the High Court has summoned Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Irrigation & Public Health), Principal Secretary (Health),Engineer–In–Chief, Department of I&PH & Commissioner and others. While passing the aforesaid order the court also issued notice to the state government. While treating this news report as a PIL petition, the court observed that “drinking water is one of the basic necessities for human existence on the earth. Because of the apathy on the part of the authorities concerned, the people of Shimla town do not have access to clean drinking water and are falling prey to many water-borne diseases.”

GROUND WATER

Bihar: Sanitation interventions, a threat to drinking water supplies in rural India? The paper presents the findings of the study that explored the link between on-site sanitation technologies and groundwater contamination in four villages namely Maksudpur, Shahjahanpur, Sigariyawan and Taraura of Daniyawan block in Patna, Bihar and tested the ability of tryptophan-like fluorescence (TLF) technique as an indicator of faecal contamination in this setting.

Uttar Pradesh: Scientist demands demolition of 12 check dams The 12 check dams were constructed by the Department of Agriculture in 2004 to restore the ecological balance in the watershed in Baghpat and Shamli districts of Uttar Pradesh, the plea, filed through advocate Gaurav Bansal, said. The plea further said that because of the seepage through these Bundhs (check dams) the contaminated river water is joining the groundwater of the area and due to this the groundwater is also getting highly contaminated. According plea an analysis report of the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam shows that the groundwater of the  area is not only contaminated but also contains heavy metals like Iron, Mercury, Nitrate, Cadmium, Sulphide etc. The villagers are forced to drink the contaminated groundwater containing heavy metals, due to which children were facing health problems. The matter will be heard on 12 Jan. 16.

SAND MINING

No sand mining without green nods: NGT The NGT has directed all State governments to ensure that there is no sand mining on riverbeds without prior environment clearance.The Bench also issued bailable warrant against Resident Commissioner of Maharashtra for non-appearance of officials from the State despite notice being served to them.

Central government to use sand from rivers to construct national highways Looking to implement innovative moves to boost infrastructure development in India, Shipping & Transport minister Nitin Gadkari on 06 Jan. 16 said the government is planning to move sand from rivers to construct national highways. “Yamuna’s sand will be used for construction of National Highways. State support agreements to be signed which will allow use of sand from their rivers for construction of highways. NHAI will dredge rivers free of cost,” Gadkari said. If this is done without proper social and environment impact assessment and is done without consent of the local communities, it will certainly be major disaster.

Madhya Pradesh: HC upholds ban on sand-mining The Madhya Pradesh High Court 04 Jan. 16 upheld its ban on sand-mining in the Sardar Sarovar and Maheshwar dams catchment area, spread over Dhar, Barwani and Khargone districts. Chief Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice KK Trivedi gave order on a contempt petition lodged by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, who submitted that sand mines are still being run in the area. Earlier, the Court sought to learn from the state government and the Narmada Valley Development Authority as to who approved the mines and when and who owns the related land in the catchment area.

MONSOON

Monsoon 2015: Eventful North-East monsoon of 2015 has passed, says Met The season technically ended on December 31, but the Met have waited out for specific meteorological patterns to fully settle down to signal the end of the season. Currently, the monsoon is active over Australia coinciding with the summer in the southern hemisphere and will track back to the north by June to trigger year 2016 South-West monsoon for India. Meanwhile, year 2015 delivered a bumper North-East monsoon for Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala after a rout of the preceding South-West monsoon. An analysis of rainfall record the past 10 years shows that the year 2015 season (excess of 53 per cent) is second only to year 2005 (excess of 79 per cent).

Research: Anthropogenic aerosols, albedo-effect, land-use changes may greatly weaken monsoon A paper in the journal Climate Dynamics by Dr. R. Krishnan, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, attributes weakening of monsoon to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, atmospheric aerosols and land-use changes. A third, and nevertheless important, contributor to monsoon weakening is the albedo effect of deforestation by humans. GHGs trap the heat over land and sea and result in both the land and sea being warm, that is the thermal contrast is greatly reduced. This leads to a weakening of the monsoon circulation. However, a warmed up atmosphere can hold more moisture and this situation can result in heavy rainfall over some regions.

FLOODS

Tamil Nadu: Flood claimed 421 lives According CM Jaya Lalita statements in media a total of 421 persons died in rain-related incidents and so far, relief to the tune of Rs. 700 crore was disbursed and the rest would be covered by 11 Jan. 16. Details of compensation distributed so far as per this media report 

Death/Damage Compensated  Amount
421 People 245 deceased families 4 lakh each
3.82 lakh hectare crop land 68,350 farmers 29.48 crore total
1 lakh cattle (goats & pigs) 7.78 crore total
Fisheries 12.82 crore total

DROUGHT

IMD: No more ‘droughts’ as Met dept to stop using the term from this year In a major departure, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) will now stop use of the term ‘drought’ to describe poor rainfall recorded across parts of the country and replace it with the terms ‘deficient year’ and ‘large deficient year’. IMD had formed a committee to look into issues relating to its glossary and it suggested a host of changes that included stopping use of the term drought and making changes to terms used to describe rainfall categories based on its intensity. Top IMD officials confirmed these changes to DNA.

Centre approves Rs 2,553-cr drought relief for 3 states With state Assembly elections in mind, the central government on 06 Jan.16 approved a financial assistance to drought-hit Uttar Pradesh of around Rs 1,304.5 crore, Rs 753.3 crore less than the amount demanded by the state. UP had demanded an assistance of Rs 2,057 crore for drought relief of which Rs 1,427 crore was for input subsidy. A sum of Rs 2,553.29 crore was approved by a high-level panel of central ministers chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh for drought relief from the National Disaster Relief Fund, which also included Rs 433.8 crore for Andhra Pradesh and Rs 815 crore for Odisha. The central government has so far allocated Rs 10,451.24 crore for drought relief in seven states. Ten states have sought assistance as 280 districts have been affected by drought.

1452113412-5478

Study: Drought or no drought, farm sector adapts to low rainfall A recent study by India Ratings and the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP) showed that the correlation between the kharif food grain output and the June-September rains declined to 0.3 between 2004-05 and 2013-14 as compared to 0.6 between 1996-97 and 2003-04, which indicates the increased resilience of Indian agriculture to absorb the deficiency in the monsoon. This is true, but what is not realised is that this has been possible at the cost of unsustainable use of groundwater, and that is going to hit us all badly.

Madhya Pradesh: Drought tests State’s irrigation drive Most farmers in Malhargarh tehsil of Mandsaur district have left sowing mid-way due to the drought. Mandsaur is among the 23 districts in Madhya Pradesh that have been declared drought-hit. But Malhargarh is not on the list. The central government recently sanctioned Rs 2,033 crore as relief for Madhya Pradesh’s drought-affected farmers, to which the state government has added Rs 3,267 crore. Farmers in Malhargarh tehsil of Mandsaur district in MP are questioning why the govt is building dams that are not useful for any farmers.

Karnataka: Lack of post-monsoon rain spells doom for rabi crops The failure of post-monsoon rain spelt doom for farmers, especially those in the rain-fed areas of Ballari district, during the rabi cultivation season. Rabi crops, especially jowar, maize, Bengal gram, cowpea and sunflower in about 36,769 hectares of land have completely failed. The approximate loss has been put around Rs. 50 crore. Contrary to expectations of a good post-monsoon rain, the district recorded an average deficient rainfall of minus 13 per cent in October, an average deficient rainfall of minus 66 per cent in November and an average deficient rainfall of minus 73 per cent in December.

AGRICULTRE

National: System Rice Intensification, a practice that transforms the lives of women Sabarmatee Tiki, LEISA India Dec. 2015 Issue. Globally, around a billion people are engaged in rice farming and around half of them are women. They continue to carry out their work mostly barefoot, with their primary tools being their hands. An agro-ecological approach like SRI has reduced the overall burden on the bodies of these women.

Time to apply  System Rice Intensification on larger scale  Article on SRI in Live Mint by Indira Rajaraman an economist writes about significance of applying SRI at large scale Here is a technique that halves the water needed. Right there is the immediate benefit we need in India, where paddy cultivation is the biggest consumer of water, and where water scarcity is a frightening spectre hovering over us all. The switch is good for our selves, forget the world. As a bonus, there are mitigation and adaptation benefits. Flooded paddy fields emit methane and SRI cultivated fields are more resilient to climate and weather vagaries. And the best part is that there is no initial capital cost of conversion. Exactly, what we have been saying for long.

Sugar crisis is no less deep in Brazil than in India Indian government provides heavy export subsidy for all kinds of sugar this season, the quote of 3.2 million tons have been distributed among producing units and Rs 4.5 of the Rs 10 a quintal of the cane prize is being deposited directly to the farmers account so that factories can export sugar at competitive price. The season opened with a surplus of 4 million tons over and above the normal of 9.1 million ton.  

Also see, Agenda 2016: Three things government can do for agriculture today Drip irrigation, making urea in Iran, and pushing pulses in Punjab should be top policy priorities.

Tamil Nadu: Sugarcane growers, a happy lot in Erode  Every year, 50 to 100 farmers are initiated into Sustainable Sugar Initiative in each block, according to official sources. Sustainable Sugar Initiative through drip irrigation reflecting in lesser water usage of higher productivity is gradually gaining roots in the district. This article gives some details of how Sustainable Sugar Initiative is helping farmers achieve better productivity and less water and other input use. Also see, Petition against conversion of agriculture land in Tirupur

Karnataka: Green Revolution didn’t help farmers: agricultural varsity VC “It is the WTO agreement that led to the agrarian crisis and farmers’ suicides in the country. By signing the treaty, India opened its gates for multinational corporations to exploit farmers by selling seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, machinery and other farm inputs for higher prices to them. Rising cost of cultivation caused by the escalation of input prices and falling prices of output is increasingly pushing farmers from the sector. Earlier, only those farmers from rain-fed areas used to migrate to cities in search of jobs during drought. But, now even farmers from irrigation belt are migrating in large numbers,” said P.M. Salimath, Vice-Chancellor of University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur.

Haryana: Warm winter threatens to lower wheat yield by 5-7% Concerned at the above normal temperature for this time of the year, scientists fear it would adversely affect the yield of wheat in the region and add to farmers’ woes on account of yellow rust. Scientists of Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) say if the sunshine continues for the next few days, it could help in photosynthesis and increase the threat to wheat from fungus (yellow rust) strike. Extreme variation in temperature after rain could also affect the maturity of the grain, resulting in lower yield across the region. However, the scientists say if the temperature remains on the lower side till the end of March, it could reverse the trend and result in better yield.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Central Govt to benchmark solar tariff lower Closing the pricing gap with conventional power, the Union government is planning to benchmark solar tariff at Rs 4.5 a unit. This would be the reference price for solar power projects, over and above which companies would bid for viability gap funding (VGF) from the government. The move comes in the wake of constantly falling tariffs in competitive bidding for solar power projects. The last bidding for solar power park of 500 megawatt (Mw) in Andhra Pradesh witnessed the lowest bid of Rs 4.63 per unit by US solar company Sun Edison. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) would clear the benchmarking of tariff. The new norm would provide buyers a stable tariff regime. A similar move was taken in 2012 during the second phase of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission with benchmark Rs 5.5 per unit.

Delhi power distributers unveil 700-MW renewables tender In order to meet their mandatory renewable purchase obligation (RPO) targets, BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd have just launched a 700-MW renewable energy auction, local media reports. The companies had launched a similar tender in November 2014, but withdrew it as it yielded an average tariff of INR 6.47 per kWh. Inspired by the record-low offers of INR 4.63/kWh in two separate reverse bidding processes at end-2015, the two are now aiming at about INR 5/kWh.

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan: China firm to build 1100 mw Kohala dam in PoK despite India’s strong opposition China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC), one of China’s biggest state-run hydropower companies, on 07 Jan. 16 announced to go ahead with a mega dam in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), the latest indicator of Beijing moving forward with major projects in the region despite India’s strong opposition. This 1,100 MW dam will come up on the Jhelum River, downstream from Muzaffarabad in PoK. The total investment in the project is estimated at $2.4 billion. Both countries had agreed on a 30-year tariff for the dam, according to Pakistani media reports. The deal for the dam underlines China’s willingness to go forward with major projects in PoK, despite India’s consistent opposition. Also see, China to help develop Pakistan hydropower project 

Bhutan: Research points to hydropower challenges Parts of Southeast Asia, including Bhutan, could experience fall in electricity production because of decline in mean annual stream-flow if green house gas emissions continues to rise. The research emphasises the argument that Bhutan needs to be cautious in putting all its eggs in the hydropower basket. Critics, including the former Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, said that Bhutan needs to pay attention to the impact of climate change on its hydropower projects.

Also see, Bhutan need to stop all future hydro projects Article by Samir Mehta, South Asia Program Director, International Rivers Bhutan is gradually recognising the need for River Basin Planning and conducting Cumulative Impact Assessments for a cascade of hydropower projects in a river. But while there has been slow progress on this front, Bhutan has five large hydropower projects under construction, which will not only make the highland nation self-sufficient in its energy needs, but also enable it to earn revenue from the export of surplus electricity to India. After these projects are completed it is suggested that Bhutan hit the pause button on its aggressive hydropower policy, reflect on the cumulative impacts of all proposed projects, picture the decline in fish populations, the probable extinction of the Heron, and the loss of free flowing rivers. And then, as any sovereign nation must, proceed. This is indeed right advice for Bhutan.

W-Bengal: Dried up Teesta hits livelihood The Teesta, which can be up to 2.5 kilometres wide, is currently reduced to a width of about 70 metres, with water only knee-deep. Villagers  blame the unilateral construction of the river barrage across the Teesta at India’s Gazaldoba, around 100 kilometres upstream of the Teesta Barrage Irrigation project at Dalia in Lalmonirhat’s Hatibandha upazila, for the poor river condition. Over one lakh people live on 95 shoals in five upazilas in the district and with boats impractical they are often compelled to walk several kilometres across sand stretches to pursue mainland-based livelihoods. Farmer, fisherman, boatman and general shoal dweller alike, people here hope and wait for the government to take much-needed measures, including the finalisation of a fair water sharing treaty with India, in order to restore the year-round navigability that can alleviate suffering. 

Myanmar: Industrial zone waste water shows rising pollution The level of organic pollutants in waste water at the Hlaing Tharyar and Shwe Pyi Thar industrial zones over the past two years was higher that standard specifications, according to research from the Green Motherland Development Association (GMDA). Much of the waste water from factories and workshops can reach lakes and underground sources used by people, which can be dangerous. Deforestation, water pollution and ground water disappearance are common in Myanmar found in 10 regions and over 50 townships according to GMDA research.

THE REST OF ASIA

Mekong River: Fisheries adds 3%  to combined GDP of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Thailand According to recent estimates, fisheries alone from the Lower Mekong Basin are valued at a whopping $17 billion a year, contributing three percent to the combined GDP of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. The estimates, published by the MRC’s Catch and Culture fisheries newsletter, are based on an annual fish catch of 4.4 million tons. When measured against world trade in fisheries, the numbers are also impressive, representing 13 percent of the total $130 billion catch forecast for 2015. These are substantial numbers. And they should add weight to calls for a moratorium on dam construction across the mainstream of the river. The report highlighted the importance of fish catches on the region’s smaller economies. Also see, Mekong River Commission May Be In Peril The MRC has seen its relevance questioned in recent years, particularly as Laos continues to ignore regional concerns surrounding its dams and their potential damage to fish stocks.

Balancing hydropower and biodiversity in the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong The world’s most biodiverse river basins—the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong—are experiencing an unprecedented boom in construction of hydropower dams. Current site-specific assessment protocols largely ignore cumulative impacts on hydrology and ecosystem services as ever more dams are constructed within a watershed. To achieve true sustainability, assessments of new projects must go beyond local impacts by accounting for synergies with existing dams, as well as land cover changes and likely climatic shifts. Scientists “call for more sophisticated and holistic hydropower planning,(paid access) including validation of technologies intended to mitigate environmental impacts. Should anything less be required when tampering with the world’s great river ecosystems?

THE REST OF WORLD

US: Tiny Pallid Sturgeon puts off giant Yellowstone river dam U.S. officials will consider an alternative to a dam proposed on the Yellowstone River over worries it could hurt an endangered fish species that dates to the time of dinosaurs, after a judge on 05 Jan. 16 approved a settlement in a lawsuit over the project. The agreement comes after environmental groups successfully sued to stop the $59 million dam along the Yellowstone near the Montana-North Dakota border. Pallid sturgeon is known for a distinctive, shovel-shaped snout and can live 50 years, reaching 6 feet in length. The population declined sharply during the past century as dams were built along the Missouri River system. They were listed as an endangered species in 1990.

Demise of Klamath River deal could rekindle old water-use battles A key piece of a three-part agreement expired when Congress failed to approve it by Dec. 31. The complicated pact, backed by the states of California and Oregon, called for the removal of four hydroelectric dams, settled water rights disputes and spelled out water allocations for irrigators and wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin. But the deal never got traction in the GOP-dominated Congress. And though some backers are holding out hope that it can be resurrected, others are doubtful. It would be very difficult if not impossible to pull the same parties to the table and reach a similar agreement.

Also see The quiet controversy of dam removal  VERY interesting narrative of how the dam, so strikingly called “Song of the Morning” could be removed in Michigan (US) after a prolonged process and law suit, which ended happily, with those resisting the removal convinced about it.

Californians warned to keep conserving water despite heavy rains  A series of storms lining up over the Pacific Ocean was welcome news in parched California, despite their potential for causing flash floods and mudslides. But authorities cautioned that even the wettest of winters can’t replenish depleted reservoirs and aquifers unless everyone keeps pitching in. California’s water deficit is so deep after four years of drought that a “steady parade of storms” like these will be needed for years to come, said Mike Anderson, climatologist for the state’s department of water resources.

Zambia: World’s Biggest Kariba Dam Has ‘Extremely Dangerous’ Low Water Levels Water levels at Kariba dam, the world’s largest, are at “extremely dangerous” lows that could force a shutdown of its hydro power plants, said Zambian Energy Minister Dora Siliya. Poor rainfall and overuse of water by Zambia and Zimbabwe, the southern African countries that share the reservoir, have caused its levels to drop, with electricity generation already reduced by more than half. As of Dec. 28, Kariba was 14 percent full, compared with 51 percent a year earlier, according to the dam’s regulator.”

Kenya’s hydropower dams fuel malaria risk for villagers A study published last September in Malaria Journal warned that over 1 million people in sub-Saharan Africa would contract malaria in 2015 because they lived near a large dam. The researchers, including experts from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), found that construction of an expected 78 major new dams in the region over the next few years would lead to an additional 56,000 malaria cases annually. The IWMI study noted that further research is needed to investigate the potential impact of climate change on malaria around both existing and planned dams in sub-Saharan Africa, including areas that are currently free of the disease.

African Development Bank backs investment in regional hydropower project  The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $138 million package of loans and grants to support development of a hydroelectric power plant to serve Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.06 Jan 2016. Other organisations and institutions involved in the financing package, announced by the AfDB on 18 December, included the African Development Fund, the development agencies of France and Germany, the European Investment Bank, World Bank, and the EU.

Brazil faces human rights probe over Belo Monte hydropower dam Hydro giant Brazil must address claims one of the world’s biggest dam projects violates the liberties of local populations. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights opened a case last month on the US$13 billion Belo Monte hydroelectric plant in the country’s north, after environmental lawyers said it would be a “disaster” for communities. The dam under construction will divert one of the Amazon’s major tributaries, flooding swathes of rainforest and displacing over 20,000 people, says NGO International Rivers. Critics say Belo Monte, proposed since 2000, represents a stop-valve for a series of projects that will disrupt rivers, condemning indigenous communities and wildlife.

Also see, Brazil signs 6 GW of hydro power concessions Brazil on 05 Jan. 16 signed the concession contracts for 6 GW of hydro power across 29 hydro power plants (HPPs) which won the auction in November. The companies now have a 30-year concession term for small and regular size HPPs. The biggest buyer was China Three Gorges Corp (CTG), with an investment of BRL 8.97 billion. Enel Green Power SpA (BIT: EGPW) was the other foreign company to secure contracts. The remaining winners are all local companies.

Middle-East: Kurdish Forces Battle IS to Keep Control of Strategic Syrian Dam Nearly two weeks after regaining control of a strategic dam in northern Syria, Kurdish-led forces are struggling with continued blitzes from Islamic State militants who want to retake the area. The fighting centers on the 900-meter-long Tishrin Dam, held by IS for more than a year until Kurdish and coalition forces retook it in December. It supplies electricity to much of northern Syria.

Australia: Flash flooding in parts of Hunter, dam threat as deluge set to continue A deluge of heavy rain has caused flash flooding in some parts of the New South Wales Hunter region and a dam to spill, as unseasonal rain continues to hit communities around the state. A severe weather warning is in place for the mid north coast and Hunter districts, with heavy rain expected to continue through the week. More than 200 millimetres of rain has fallen in Newcastle with up to 30 millimetres in one hour, leading to flash flooding, with more heavy rain expected going into Wednesday (06 Jan. 16) morning. North of Newcastle, a white alert evacuation warning was issued for properties near the Chichester Dam, upstream of Dungog. Dungog was declared a natural disaster zone in April last year after it was devastated by storms which claimed the lives of three people.

UK: Clearing ditches and streams ‘may increase flood risk to towns’  Experts are warning that plans to allow farmers to clear water courses on their land could make floods worse in towns. The proposals, which are subject to parliamentary approval, allow farmers to clear drainage ditches and streams without asking permission.

UN General Assembly on the Human Rights to Water and to Sanitation The UN General Assembly on Dec 17, 2015 adopted by consensus a resolution which for the first time recognises the distinction between the human right to water and the human right to sanitation. The General Assembly resolution, in operative paragraph 2, also for the first time recognises the content of entitlements under the right to sanitation and right to water respectively, and specifically highlights that these entitlements apply “without discrimination”.

UN launches sustainable development agenda to guide development actions for next 15 years The SDGs, unanimously adopted by the UNs 193 member states at an historic summit in Sep. 2015, address the needs of people in both developed and developing countries, emphasising that no one should be left behind. Broad and ambitious in scope, the agenda addresses the three dimensions of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental, as well as important aspects related to peace, justice and effective institutions. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets of the new agenda will be monitored and reviewed using a set of global indicators. These will be compiled into an Annual SDG.

UN: 4 sites named ‘Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems’ Four traditional farming systems in Bangladesh and Japan have been designated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)”. They are Bangladesh’s floating gardens and a trio of sites in Japan: sustainable river fisheries utilising the Sato-kawa system in Gifu; the Minabe-Tanabe Ume approach to growing apricots on nutrient-poor slopes in Wakayama; and the Takachihogo-Shiibayama mountainous agriculture and forestry system in Miyazaki ,which allows agricultural and forestry production in a steep mountainous area. These new designations bring the number of GIAHS systems to a total of 36 sites located in 15 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Near East and Asia.

Also read Africa: Largest Wildlife Census in History Makes Waves in Conservation

CLIMATE CHANGE

New Study: The Future of Hydropower Looks Dim as Heat and Drought Intensify Climate change could threaten the electricity supply around the world, according to new calculations. That is because the power generation depends on a sure supply of water. But climate change also promises greater frequencies and intensities of heat and drought. So more than half of the world’s hydropower and thermoelectric generating plants could find their capacity reduced. The scientists found that reductions in stream and river flow and the rise in levels of water temperature could reduce the generating capacity of up to 86 percent of the thermoelectric plants and up to 74% of the hydropower plants in their study. This means that power from hydro stations could fall by 3.6 percent in the 2050s and 6.1 percent in the 2080s, because of reduced stream flow. And by the 2050s, the monthly capacity of most of the thermoelectric power plants could drop by 50 percent..

Also see, Australia to see World’s biggest drop in Hydropower thanks to Climate Change Research into climate change has shown that more frequent droughts and heatwaves could reduce the ability of electricity plants to generate power by the middle of the century. According to the report, changes in water resources and increasing water temperatures will reduce the energy generating capability for a large proportion of hydro and thermoelectric power plants (including nuclear and fossil-fuel) across the globe. The research suggests that planners need to seriously consider adaptation options if they are to avoid the impacts of water constraints exacerbated by climate change.

MIT Study: Assessing nature’s carbon sinks Study estimates the annual carbon sequestration rate in protected areas such as rainforests will decline by about 40 percent between now and 2100. Determining the role protected areas play as carbon sinks  now and in decades to come is a topic of intense interest to the climate-policy community as it seeks science-based strategies to mitigate climate change. Toward that end, a study in the journal Ambio estimates for the first time the amount of CO2 sequestered by protected areas, both at present and throughout the 21st century as projected under various climate and land-use scenario.

Greenland’s ice cap is releasing water FASTER than first thought The new study, from a team of Danish, American, and Swiss scientists, shows that current atmospheric warming is changing the firn layer and allowing meltwater to be released faster than previously seen. After Antarctica, Greenland’s ice cap contains the second largest mass of frozen freshwater in the world. Currently, melting from Greenland accounts is thought to account for around 10 per cent of sea level rise. Researchers estimate half of Greenland’s outlet glaciers could undergo significant melting. Similar changes in firn structure have already been observed in the Canadian Arctic, which leads to the conclusion, meaning the phenomenon could be widespread.

Study: Cereal harvests across the world ‘fall by 10% in 50 years’ The report says that it’s the crop diversity practised in developing countries that make crops more drought resistant resulting in lower damages in comparison to technically advanced countries where uniform pattern of farming is done on large scale of land that makes corps more susceptible to weather extremes fuelled by climate change. Another sharp contrast presented by the report is that farmers in developed countries rarely depend on harvests directly for food, and typically have dependable access to crop insurance in the event of bad weather which is not the case with farmers in developing countries whose food security is directly linked with harvesting and majority of farmers crop does not have insurance protection. 

Also see, New Study: Climate Change is taking a toll on farmers’ mental health The success or failure of a farming operation depends hugely on the vagaries of weather and climate. For a farmer, a single intense rain event or prolonged dry period can mean a year of lost crops and income. Climate change is expected to make the line between success and failure even more tenuous for farmers in the future. And this uncertainty about growing conditions is having a noticeable impact on farmers’ mental health, according to a recent study out of Australia’s Murdoch University.

ENVIRONMENT

Big earthquake can any time strike Himalaya warn MHA experts According to National Institute of Disaster Management, multiple earthquakes of over 8 or 8.2 are likely all along Himalayas, particularly North East India, the Manipur earthquake of 6.7 on Jan 4, 2016, the highest magnitude earthquake recorded in that state till date. The temblor shows the stress has not been fully released, it has only become worse. “The collision between the Himalayan plate in the north and the Indo Burmese plate in the east, and the risk created as a result, is the highest at the moment”. These are ominous statement coming from the official agencies, hope the government does not worsen the vulnerabilities of the region by dams, deforestation and activities that may increase the landslide and erosion potential of the area.

Also see, Himalayan States on a shaky ground Editorial comment in Hindustan Times in the wake of soon to hit strong earthquake warning in Himalaya by MHA Like most cities in ‘mainland’ India, each one of Himalayan States has pressed the self-destruct button, exemplified by the build-build-build syndrome. The bureaucratic and popular mindset has become so focused on the need to build big pieces of infrastructure (housing, dams, roads etc) that it has destroyed and overburdened these old, once-beautiful cities. This is increasing the region’s vulnerability to earthquakes. This is not to say developing infrastructure is not important. However, policymakers cannot ignore the natural risks and have to focus on sustainability and pursue resilient urban development. The time has come for the Northeast to develop a well-drawn up disaster preparedness plan and a mitigation policy.

India is witnessing the warmest winter in years More than half the winter is gone and most of India has hardly even noticed the cold. Temperatures are 4-5 degrees Celsius above the normal for this time of the year. In parts in western Rajasthan on 06 Jan.16, the average temperature was 8 degrees Celsius above normal. Scientists are blaming both global and regional/local factors. The warmer winter in India is part of a global weather pattern dictated by an unusual warming of ocean waters. The warming impact of El Niño on winter in India is extra pronounced this year. It has overshadowed the effects of local weather patterns. At the more local level, the lack of winter rain, caused by a combination of atmospheric processes has kept the chill away.

Chhattisgarh: Justice system works against tribals in Bastar  The first study conducted in Naxal-infested Bastar region of Chhattisgarh reveals Kadati’s tragic story and a grim fact on an average 96%of the tribals arrested are acquitted by the court. The study, conducted by a non-profit organization Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLag), reveals the three jails in Bastar division are crowded beyond capacity. The reason behind the overcrowding is not lack of capacity but the excessive number of arrests under fake cases. This is extremely disturbing.

Maharashtra: Tribal ministry relents over Forest Rights Act Setting a precedent for the entire country, the Union tribal affairs ministry has revised its views to re-interpret the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and allow the Maharashtra forest department to get control back over forest management and a grip on the lucrative trade worth crores in forest produce such as tendu leaves and bamboo. The ministry had previously concluded that only tribals and other forest dwellers had rights to manage their forests under FRA. The tribal affairs ministry in its U-turn went a step ahead and said the ministry of environment and forests should now prepare a new code for sustainable management of forest resources.

Kerala: Mangrove forest on chopping block again The Ayiramthengu mangrove forests at Alapad panchayat in Kollam district, restored by the government eight years ago, is now being destroyed by a government agency for another scheme. Environment activist V.K. Madhusoodanan said that in the past couple of weeks at least 10 acres of the restored mangroves had been razed using earthmovers to lay a road and construct a sluice across a canal to link the estuarine island of Ayiramthengu with three such islands in the adjacent Alappuzha district for a tourism project. Also see, Plastic waste takes toll on wildlife in Sabarimala’

Haryana: Forest dept slaps penalty of Rs 5 lakh on mining firm on Om Minerals, a private mining firm, for axing a large number of trees in their mining area in the Nangal Choudhary region. The action has been taken on an inquiry report submitted by a two-member inquiry panel following the directives of the Gurgaon Forest Conservator after the matter grabbed the media attention a week ago. The panel had found 1,051 trees near the Krishanwati river axed and held 29 persons responsible. The department had also written to the District Development and Panchayat Officer, Mahendragarh, to charge the cost of the trees axed from the firm, as they were panchayat department’s property.  

You may also like to explore  DRP News Bulletin dated 04 Jan. 2016 DRP News Bulletin Dated 28 Dec. 2015

One Comment on “DRP News Bulletin 11 Jan. 2016 (Punjab Villagers oppose Dam on Ghaggar River)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: