DRP News Bulletin 08 Feb.2016 (Is Not Hiding Environment Information Against Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas?)

SANDRP Open Letter to MoEF&CC Is Not Hiding Environment Information Against Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas? Even as the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has been sanctioning cascades of hydro power projects on here-to free flowing rivers in the Himalaya and North East India, Cumulative Assessment of the Impacts of these projects became a crucial area of concern. The cumulative impacts of these projects on the hydrology, downstream flow, sudden water releases, deforestation, muck disposal, influx of migrant workers, seismicity of the region etc. is huge as compared to individual impacts. The projects together stand to change the social and ecological fabric of these regions.

Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) studies are a part of the Environment Impact Assessment Process under the EIA Notification (2006) and Environment (Protection) Act 1986. The documents of these CIAs have been uploaded on the Environment Clearance website in the past, as was required under number of laws. However, as the EAC is slated to consider whopping 4 CIAs in its upcoming meeting on the 8 and 9th Feb, not a single CIA-related document is available on the MoEF and CC website! We are told that these may not be made available in the future.

Amidst news like these ‘Why Narendra Modi Govt needs to be transparent with its Environment Policy‘, such non-transparency does not bode well. In fact, the Prime Minister was at the iconic trijunction of Dibang, Siang and Lohit Rivers in Assam on Feb 5, 2016, where Brahmaputra takes shape. It is here that Cumulative Impact Studies are most critical and are used by masses. The PM says that the government is for “Sabke Saath Sabka Vikaas”. But where is the possibility of Sabkaa Saath if crucial information which can impact lives of millions is to be kept hidden?

This decision of the MoEF is contrary to the practice till date, in violation of CIC orders of 2012 and also EIA notification process and all tenets of democratic functioning.

An Open Letter to Minister: PLEASE HELP US SPREAD THE WORD.

HYDROPOWER 

Himachal Renuka Dam: NGT set up expert panel to study green aspects It is very sad that NGT has refused to quash the environmental clearance granted to Renuka Dam in Himachal Pradesh. The green panel also declined to stall the land acquisition proceedings for the dam by the State government since the project has been declared “a project of national importance” by the Centre. The court has also set up an eight-member experts’ panel to study various aspects of the proposed Rs 5,242cr Dam. The panel headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, HP including representatives from the MoEF, CWC, Chief Irrigation Engineers of HP and Delhi and the Wildlife Institute of India will give its suggestions within four months. Also see, On World Wetland Day, NGT refuses to quash Renuka dam EC

Govt to rope in experts for boosting power revenue Worried over the decline in revenue from the power sector, the state government has decided to rope in experts to prepare its ‘Power Portfolio’. The aim is to generate maximum electricity and get the best possible rates for power. Another decision for which the Cabinet has given its nod is to have a long-term agreement with the Power Trading Corporation (PTC) and Tata Power Trading Company for the sale of power generated in Himachal. REVEALING The fact that annual revenue from the power sector has declined from Rs 1,300 crore in 2010-11 to barely Rs 700 crore in 2014 does not really auger well for the state. The money to the tune of Rs 300 crore per annum coming in the shape of upfront money from the awarded hydropower projects has stopped. SHOCKING JSW, the owner of the Karcham Wantoo and Baspa hydropower projects and Tatas will now be consulted to increase the revenue from hydropower sale in Himachal Pradesh. Is it even possible that the state govt does not see any conflict of interest here?

Arunachal The hydro projects mess that no one is talking about In a delicious twist of fate, a cluster of private companies that rushed headlong into Arunachal in the late 2000s to build hydel power projects are now, in a turnaround, asking the public sector National Hydel Power Corporation to take over their projects. This is a moment of exquisite irony. Just a few years ago, the Arunachal government had taken back the Kamala project from NHPC and handed it over to Jindal Power. This is how the events unfolded. Multiple factors are to blame for this. A bunch of companies signed MoUs, not to build dams, but to make money by selling the MoUs. In an especially inspired con, a multi-level marketing company collected crores from unwitting investors by claiming it had signed a MoU with the Arunachal government for a “nanotechnology-based” hydel power plant of 100 MW which would be scaled up to 10,000 MW. The agreement was, in fact, for a small 14 MW plant.

Rivers of Arunachal free from pollution: CGWB, CWC Arunachal Rivers may be free of visible pollutions but not from invisible threats posed by numbers of Hydro projects that are proposed and under construction in all river basins in the State. The report also mentions that with rapid growth in urbanisation and population many clean flowing rivers will suffer from pollution load like in other parts of country. The report further refers to CPCB report which says only about 40-50% of the population of the major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore are served by sewer systems.

J&K Hydro power units, smart cities: what PDP has in mind as CBMs PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has sought transfer of 390mw Kishtwar & 480mw Uri hydro projects to State Govt. and more flood relief fund against 1200cr promised by Center among other demands as Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) before going in for Govt formation. These CBMs were not decided under ‘Agenda of PDP-BJP Alliance’.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Centre 8th meeting to review river interlinking progress The 8th meeting of special committee on interlinking of rivers is held in New Delhi on 08 Feb.16 to review the progress of Interlinking of rivers in the country. Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti is chaired the meeting. Water Resources Ministers and senior officials from various states are reported to be attending the daylong meeting. The meeting is expected to discuss issues such as status of Ken- Betwa link project Phase-I and II, status of Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada link projects, Intra –state link proposals and restructuring of National Water Development Agency. Union Cabinet in its meeting held on July 24, 2014 approved the constitution of the Special Committee on ILR. Accordingly, Special Committee on ILR was constituted vide order dated September 23, 2014.

Odisha Centre keen on Mahanadi interlinking, Odisha recommend precautions Water Minister discussed Naveen Patnaik CM Odisha taking up of two river interlinking projects (Mahanadi – Godavari and Sankosh in Bhutan with Teesta, Mahananda, Subarnarekha and Mahandi) in Odisha at a cost of Rs.30,000 crore. According to water minister proposed Manibhadra 240mw dam in Odisha would be shifted to Barimula reducing submergence from 60 acre to only 13.6 acre. She also stated that Centre wants to enhance funding to Odisha irrigation projects but would not be able to provide more than 100cr this year due to budgetary constraints. Odisha has been asking the centre to assess the water availability in Mahanadi basin and present proper data before seeking Odisha’s consent to any proposal as the State maintains Mahanadi basin not to be surplus. On the funding of 100cr State officials felt the allocation to be a pittance.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

SANDRP Press Release Complete Regulatory Vacuum around India’s Wetlands India is losing Wetlands at an alarming rate, as much as 38% in a decade (1991-2001). After Wetlands Rules 2010 were notified, it was hoped that there will be clarity and direction in Protection of Wetlands in the country. However, 6 yrs after the Notification of Wetlands Rules, today there is no National Wetlands Authority. In fact, National Wetlands Authority, formed post Wetlands Rules 2010, has never met since April 2012. The term of the Authority has ended, but no new authority has been constituted. We are losing our Wetlands rapidly, but our Government seems to refuse acknowledging their importance, as it clear from the track record and regulatory vacuum. World Wetlands Day 2016 provides the sorely needed reminder to protect our Wetlands.

National Regulatory vacuum killing India’s wetlands “After Wetlands Rules 2010 were notified with much fanfare under the Environment Protection Act 1986, it was hoped that there will be clarity and direction in protection of wetlands in the country. However, even 6 years after the notification of Wetlands Rules, there is no National Wetlands Authority,” says Himanshu Thakkar, convener of SANDRP Delhi. “We have little to celebrate. When I talked to a member of the Maharashtra State Wetland Authority, he had no idea about the status of this authority under the forest department. It has never met and there has been no communication from the government with the members of the authority about its status,” said Parineeta Dandekar, co-convenver of SANDRP Pune. This is based on SANDRP Press Note

Centre Wetlands for our Future–Sustainable Livelihoods: MoEF&CC 2016 theme The Environment Ministry will continue to accord high priority to conservation and wise use of wetlands in the country. The National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) provides the policy framework and support to State Governments for integrated management of wetlands. The Ministry has also initiated the process of revising the existing regulatory framework on wetlands to enable a greater role and ownership by State Governments in management of wetlands, particularly as water and land are State subjects. The State Wetland Authorities are envisaged to be entrusted the role of management and regulation of wetlands within their jurisdiction. The message of Environment Ministry on World Wetlands Day.

W-Bengal Land sharks gobble up Nimta water body The fill-up of ponds and wetlands in North 24-Parganas continues unabated with the administration turning a blind eye to voices raised by citizens and green activists. The latest prey to land sharks is a one-bigha pond at Nimta in North Dum Dum where earth and garbage is being dumped with impunity to fill up the waterbody. A North Dum Dum-based environment society ‘Basundhara’ formed by local youths, alleged a nexus between political leaders and developers had led to the inaction, resulting in the loss of water bodies. Sad to see the destruction of ponds in Dumdum, but good to see there is resistance from NGO and local people.

Andhra Pradesh Fragile wetland ecosystem, a guardian of State coastline At least half-a-dozen categories of wetlands spreading across the coastal belt of Andhra Pradesh remain the prime guardian of the coast, minimising the impact of natural calamities and devastation by tidal waves. These natural wetlands- beginning from Itchapuram lagoon, Nowpada swamp and Sompeta wetland in Srikakulam district to estuaries of Krishna and Godavari rivers, Kolleru Lake, mangrove forest in Krishna Wildlife sanctuary to Pulicat Lake in Nellore district – are otherwise safe breeding destinations for local and migratory birds. A significant number of communities depend on wetlands, earning livelihood through fishing, collection of seed of various fish species, while many of them are engaged in aquaculture.

Kerala State to promote climate-smart farming in coastal wetlands Kerala is opening up a new battlefront in the war against climate change. The State has secured funding from the Union government for a project to revive 600 hectares of coastal wetlands for climate-resilient farming. The Rs.25-crore project seeks to restore and manage 300 hectares of Pokkali wetlands in Thrissur, Ernakulam, and Alappuzha districts and 300 hectares of Kaipad wetlands in Kannur for carbon sequestration and production of paddy and fish. The integrated farming practice will be promoted to build resilience to climate change and provide more income for farmers and local communities. The rotation of rice farming and fish aquaculture is also expected to improve land use efficiency and minimise land degradation. Will this help? May be our Kerala friends can say?

SAND MINING     

SANDRP Sand Mining Blog (Part-II) Government acts of omissions and commissions Unsustainable sand mining from riverbeds can have huge social, environmental, geomorphic and disastrous impacts for rivers. In this three part reports; SANDRP is trying to provide a picture of what happened on this issue in 2015 in India. In the first part SANDRP has published the detail of illegal sand extraction that was found rampant across many Indian States in 2015. It specifically covered the increased numbers of attacks on Govt. officials including common men against their attempt to expose and oppose illegal removal of sand from riverbeds. This second part presents detail of some of the significant steps taken by Central and various State Governments  to control and regulate unsustainable excavation of riverbed sand mining. For first part of this series kindly visit  India River Sand Mining 2015

FLOOD

Centre Govt. working on RRZ to combat flood In the wake of Srinagar and Chennai calamities, the ministry has sent a draft river zone notification (RRZ) to state governments seeking their views. The proposed river regulation zones will be under the ambit of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The draft notification sent earlier this month seeks to declare river stretches and floodplain zones as river conservation zones and prohibit certain activities in those zones. River stretches including their tributaries have been divided into three categories- floodplain rivers, seasonal rivers and mountain rivers/hill streams. The draft notification has suggested three kinds of river regulation zones to mark out the limits where development activities will be banned or restricted. The draft also seeks to have a National River Conservation Authority headed by secretary of the ministry, and a State River Conservation Authority headed either by the chief secretary or additional chief secretary. Some details of proposed RRZ regulations are leaked by media, the MoEF has not made anything public.

Tamil Nadu State response to flood was slow: Report It has been widely suspected that the severe flooding in Chennai last year could have been avoided and now, it looks like the Centre too feels the same. An analysis by the Union Ministry of Earth Science has revealed that the floods in the city were because of “poor drainage systems and overflow of dam waters, not only because of excessive rains”. It has also noted that the ministry had issued warnings predicting heavy rainfall to the state government over 48 hrs before the disaster. The study of the floods by a group of scientists and officials has said the floods could have been avoided if the disaster response of Tamil Nadu had been as quick as Odisha or Gujarat. Scathing indictment of Tamil Nadu State Government on the issue of handling of Chennai floods of Dec 2015.

RIVERS

Maharashtra Community campaign set to control worrying pollution of Dahisar River “Riverse: A Dialogue on the future of Mumbai’s rivers” a two days workshop was organized to discuss revival of Dahisar river. As per the report the experts presented in the workshop criticized the Sabarmati Revival Model terming it a tourism centred beautification approach that displaces people inhabiting river banks. According to news source several participants were questioning about infamous Mithi revival plans instead of focusing on Dahisar. The workshop concluded with the Declaration for Revival of Mumbai’s Rivers, a plan which participants said will be made public next week.

Goa Fishermen paying the price of Zuari river pollution by dilapidated barges For last three years, more than 50 defunct barges anchored along the banks of the Zuari from Chicalim to Cortalim are reportedly leaking Manganese and mixture of corrosion in high density in the river which in turn has adversely hit the livelihood of hundreds of traditional fishermen. According to news report there are more than 400 barges (mostly in Zuari River) lying in deteriorating condition after closure of mining industry in Goa.

उत्तराखण्ड अछूत  नदी पानी पीना तो दूर, छूना भी निषेध  उत्तरकाशी जनपद में बहती  टौंस नदी  के बारे में मान्यता है कि पौराणिक काल में एक राक्षस का वध किए जाने पर उसका रक्त इस नदी में गिर गया था, जिससे यह दूषित हो गई। यही वजह है कि इस नदी को तमसा भी कहा जाता है। मान्यता है कि इस नदी का पानी शरीर में कई विकार उत्पन्न कर देता है। इतना ही नहीं, लगातार दस साल तक टौंस का पानी पीने से कुष्ठ रोग भी हो जाता है। सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं का कहना है कि  नदी के बारे में उक्त मान्यता सदियों पुरानी है और पौराणिक आख्यानों पर आधारित है। वे कहते हैं कि हालांकि, नदी के पानी के संबंध में किसी तरह का वैज्ञानिक शोध नहीं है, लेकिन स्थानीय जनता की लोकपरंपराओं में यह मान्यता इस कदर रची बसी हुई है कि कोई भूलकर भी इसका उल्लंघन नहीं करता।

GANGA Centre 8 Ministries join hands for the ambitious clean Ganga mission Seeking to use different arms of the government in pursuing the gigantic task of Ganga cleaning, the Union water resources ministry has signed a joint memorandum of understanding (MoU) with seven ministries to carry forward multi-sectoral activities for minimum three years to rejuvenate the river. Under the MoU, which was signed on 30 Jan.16, the HRD ministry to facilitate IITs for developing and undertake pilot projects for implementing Zero Liquid Discharge system for four types of industrial pollution covering tanneries, chemical, pharma and textile industries, the ministry of Ayush will take up promotion of medicinal plants in the Ganga catchment areas and ministry of youth affairs will involve sports persons to form young group to take up activities related to Ganga cleaning. Ministries of shipping, tourism, drinking water and rural development are also part of the joint MoU.

Soon Ganga to be in top 10 cleanest rivers: Uma Bharati Addressing a national-level consultation on Ganga, ‘Swachh Ganga-Gramin Sahbhagita’, Bharati said Ganga will be among the top 10 cleanest rivers in the world after the completion of the Rs 20,000 crore ‘Namami Gange’ project of the NDA government. Ganga Cleaning New Developments Heads of over 1600 villages, water experts, environmentalists and senior officials of different ministries took part in the consultation. Successful models of waste water treatment like the the Seechewal model of Punjab and Auroville model of Tamil Nadu were discussed by the participants during the day-long meeting with a view to replicate some of these in villages located along the Ganga. Speaking about different plans, the minister said the government is planning to initiate organic farming along the river’s stretch and working out list of ponds situated along the river. Water from the ponds will be released in Ganga during the lean period.

Forestry intervention report on Ganga ready The draft of the Detailed Project Report on forestry interventions for a clean Ganga is expected to be submitted to the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in the second week of February. After necessary approval, the final DPR could be submitted to the Union Government in the third week of March, said Forest Research Institute director Dr Savita. It is pertinent to mention that as part of the NMCG, the Forestry Research Institute was given the task of preparing a DPR on forestry interventions aimed at augmenting water flow in the Ganga and for treating the water through biological filters. The forestry interventions for clean Ganga is expected to focus on varied aspects including public awareness, public participation, plantation of medicinal plants and fruit trees along with income generation activities among other aspects.

Uttar Pradesh List of 746 Ganga Polluting industries between Haridwar and Kanpur, put up by UPPCB on Feb 1, 2016, as per NGT order of Jan 27, 2016, to be heard next on Feb 17, 2016.

YAMUNA Delhi People shouldn’t draw groundwater for drinking: Kapil Mishra Delhi’s groundwater is not fit for consumption because there are many industries from where dirty water is seeping into the ground but DJB or Delhi govt cannot do anything about it. It is the mandate of CPCB says the Minister. Shocking statement by Delhi water minister

Worried Delhi wants Haryana to crack down on effluents According to the findings of Delhi Govt. the inspection team, three areas were identified where effluents were being released illegally and adversely affecting the quality of water. Near Mandora Village in Haryana, industrial waste was being discharged through DD 8 Drain. Near Khojkipur in Haryana’s Panipat area, industrial pollutants were being released in the river course through Munak Escape or Drain No. 2. Moreover, domestic industrial waste was also being discharged from another drain into DD 8 Drain. It is pretty grim situation. The sources of pollution in Yamuna are known, but no action taken.

Delhi High Court, green tribunal eye on water pollution The Delhi High court and the NGT have taken up the issue of water pollution in the city in multiple cases. The NGT is currently hearing two cases regarding water pollution in Delhi. The Maili se Nirmal Yamuna project was created under the directions of the NGT in 2015 after a three-year-long litigation, filed by Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan. The NGT in a hearing last week also asked for a report on the recent rise in ammonia levels in the river.  The story of how High Court and NGT are unable to achieve results as agencies DPCC Vs MoEF and DJB Vs DDA are busy in fighting with each other.

NGT order a year old, Yamuna still dirty A little over a year after NGT ordered a slew of measures to rescue the river, nothing appears to have moved on the ground. While the failure of the twin Yamuna action plans has been much documented, the new interventions suggested by NGT on January 13 last year have also been largely ignored. The green tribunal’s “Mailey Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalization Plan 2017” was based on recommendations by a special committee, headed by IIT-Delhi scientist AK Gosain and comprising a number of scientists and hydrology experts. Multiplicity of agencies and a lack of focus are putting paid to all efforts to clean up Yamuna. Very sad state of affairs, shows how the best of intentions and plan from NGT can be jeopardised by the official agencies including the DJB, Delhi Gov, Central Govt, NMCG and even a discom getting stay from SC.

Dec 2016 date for much delayed interceptor sewage projects The interceptor sewage project-parallel conduits along the three major drains in Delhi to trap sewage and carry it to treatment plants-was initially supposed to have been completed before the 2010 Commonwealth Games. After years of delays, now it is expected to be ready by December 2016. Delhi Jal Board, which is implementing the Rs 3,000-crore project, claims this is the only possible solution to clean the Yamuna. Its analysis has shown that after the interceptor drains are laid and corresponding treatment plants are constructed, pollution in the river will fall by 60-70%.

Census shows only 23 bird species in Yamuna Asian Water Bird Census 2016 reports presence of 23 water bird species with their combined population of 590 from Wazirabad Barrage to Nizamuddin Bridge of the Yamuna. The annually occurring census also reveals increase in bird diversity but decrease in birds number. Experts find the increase in species from last year due to drying up of wetlands across land mass leaving the birds with no choice but land over whatever waterbodies like the polluted Yamuna they find.

Haryana Govt. approves Rs 600cr to renovate Yamuna canal Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar has approved a Rs 600 cr project for rehabilitation of Augmentation Canal from 0 to 75.250 kilometres, as it takes off from Hamida head near Yamuna Nagar, so as to augment the supply of irrigation and drinking water. The project being implemented under Har Khet Ko Pani programme of the present State Govt. aims at increasing the supply of drinking and irrigation water by increasing its discharge capacity from 4,500 to 6,000 cusecs especially in the southern Haryana where there is deficit of water. The Canal does need repairing but there is not enough water in Yamuna to meet the enhanced discharge capacity.                                                                          

IRRIGATION         

National India could raise $12.65 billion in overseas loans to boost irrigation Quoting Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar the report says that State-run National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development may steer the borrowing plan that is aimed at adding as much as 13 million hectares of irrigated farmland. The report held poor irrigation facilities reason behind falling farm output during last consecutive droughts years. Its not clear what this money will be used for, but from the looks of it, does not sound good. Rs 86000 crores ($12.65 bn) to be raised by way of loans from WB, ADB and others for long tenure, will involve 10 states, to “drought proof the country” in ten years. Also see India plans to borrow $12.6 billion overseas to fund Irrigation 

Chhattisgarh Centre to clear 828cr pending irrigation fund Chhattisgarh will soon get a fund of Rs 828 crore from the Centre to complete the ongoing and pending irrigation projects in the state. Hailing the state government’s efforts to boost irrigation facilities, Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati has assured speedy approval of proposals by the state to enhance irrigation sources. In a meeting with Uma Bharati, State water resources minister Brijmohan Agrawal informed that major irrigation projects like Kelo, Kharanag and Maniyari, beside 232 minor irrigation projects are being developed under immediate irrigation benefits programme.

WATER

Centre Jal Kranti Abhiyan gets two years extension In a high level review meeting held on 03 February Ministry of Water Resources decided to recommend for continuation of Jal Kranti Abhiyan for next two years also. The programme was initiated by the ministry for creating awareness on aspects of water security and water conservation in 2015.

Madhya Pradesh Gunmen are hired to guard water body in drought hit Bundelkhand The president of the Tikamgarh municipality in drought-ravaged Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh has been forced to employ armed guards to deter farmers from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh from ‘stealing’ from their only source of drinking water. In addition to keeping farmers from UP out, the four local guards armed with licensed full-length and sawed-off 0.315 bore rifles also have to prevent farmers from MP from opening the sluice gates to release water in the downstream section of the river for irrigation of crops.

GROUND WATER

Study Influence of anthropogenic groundwater unloading in Indo-Gangetic plains Usage of ground water in the Indo-Gangetic plains exceeds replenishment of aquifers, leading to substantial reduction in the mass. Such anthropogenic crustal unloading may promote long-term fault slip or may modulate seismic activity in the adjoining Himalayan region. Simulation using Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment data and hydrological models of such a process indicates that the thrust earthquakes on the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT), including the recent 25 April 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake, are probably influenced by the anthropogenic groundwater unloading process in the Gangetic plains. This paper published in Scientific Journal in Dec 2015 says that the groundwater over exploitation in Gangetic plains has impact on the seismic activities in the Himalayas including the Apr 25, 2015 Nepal earthquake.

WATER OPTIONS       

In India’s ‘arsenic belt’, water project brings relief In the 1990s, high levels of naturally occurring arsenic were detected in water drawn from tube wells in Bangladesh and eastern India. Drinking arsenic-rich water for a long period of time causes skin lesions, cancer and many other diseases. Last year the Sulabh Safe Drinking Water Project (SSDWP), an initiative run by a New Delhi-based NGO, found a way to provide clean and cheap drinking water to West Bengal arsenic region. While regular bottled water may cost between four rupees and 15 rupees per litre, SSDWP is providing clean water to the villagers for 50 paise a litre. A recent survey conducted by the NGO running the project found that arsenicosis victims who switched to drinking Sulabh water last year have seen rapid improvements in their health. Indeed, rainwater harvested by the pond is the best source of water for arsenic affected areas in East India as this report also shows.

AGRICULTURE

Maharashtra Vidarbha, Marathwada farming at high risk from climate change: NABARD A report by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) recommends the state government to initiate policies and measures to adapt to climate changes that would be detrimental to the agro-sector in 14 districts affected by severe drought across the State. The news source also revealed that climate change was never factored in Govt. policy-making or annual state budget and it is the first time in 2014-15, unseasonal hailstorm and changing rain patterns extending to longer dry spells have come as an eye opener to policymakers in the state. This news article quotes reports from NABARD, CRIDA and TERI to say that Marathwada & Vidarbha are hugely vulnerable to climate change impacts.  Good to see that State Govt. has started acknowledging Climate Change threats and reworking its farm policies.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Foundation stone for first International Solar Alliance head quarter laid in Gurgaon The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, and the President of France Mr François Hollande, 25 Jan.16 jointly laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Headquarters and inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the ISA in National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) Gurgaon. It will be the First International and Inter-Governmental Organisation of 121 Countries to have Headquarters in India with United Nations as Strategic Partner. Government of India has dedicated 5 acre land in NISE campus for the ISA Headquarters and also has contributed Rs 175 crore for ISA corpus fund and also for meeting expenditure for initial five years.

CHINA

Will China dam its last free-flowing river? Nu River is the last remaining major watershed without a dam in China. If these dams are built, China’s last free-flowing river will turn into a series of cascading lakes and it would no longer be able to have a single reference for comparison between what is natural and what isn’t. For decades local activists are fighting hard to keep it free flowing against Govt. multiple dam plans. The river flows down to Myanmar (Burma) where it is known as River Salween. Even Govt. halt damming Nu inside China, many Chinese companies are involved in building six major dams on Salween River in Myanmar. Since the birth of communist China in 1949, 24 million people have been forced to relocate for 86,000 dams. What’s worse is many of these dams aren’t even generating electricity.

REST OF THE WORLD 

Africa Kariba world’s largest reservoir is falling apart Dams can’t be drained, and dismantling them can be as costly as building them. It’s the trap of Industrial Age technology: once mechanized systems supplant natural ones, they must be managed in perpetuity, or else they break down. Excellent piece on Kariba dam in Africa, World’s largest reservoir facing collapse if it is hit by a flood that could happen any time, even as 300 million dollar World Bank repair project will take 15-20 yrs and it is uncertain if it will work. If it collapses it will be Chernobyl of Dam industry, says JACQUES LESLIE. It also says how Mosul Dam in Iraq is also under threat of collapse. And even the Dams in US earned a D from American Society of Civil Engineers in 2013.

Research High-tech river studies reveal benefits of habitat restoration for fish An emerging research method to gauge the benefits of stream restoration for salmon and other native fish is revealing improvements in fish numbers, survival and reproduction in key rivers across the Pacific Northwest, according to a new research paper describing the approach, known as intensively monitored watersheds (IMWs). At least 17 IMWs in the Northwest are beginning to provide detailed scientific insight into how the millions of dollars invested in river and stream restoration can most effectively boost fish populations, according to the new paper published this week in Fisheries, the monthly journal of the American Fisheries Society. Interesting to see the extent to which scientists in US are going to understand the streams and how they are responding to restoration efforts. Compare that with what river scientists are doing in India.

US Northern California salmon run devastated, again, by drought The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service reported that just 3 percent of the run’s juvenile salmon survived their historic migration to sea, again dying in large numbers because the river was simply too shallow and too warm to tolerate. State and federal officials, after witnessing a grim 5 percent survival rate in 2014, took steps to boost river levels for the fish last year, most notably introducing a controversial strategy of withholding irrigation water from Central Valley farmers. But that was to little avail. The coming year is crucial for the chinook salmon. The fish have a three-year spawning cycle, meaning the next class will be the only one that hasn’t suffered a debilitating blow and represents the last chance of spurring a rebound for the federally listed endangered species.

Dams threaten 1/3 of the world’s freshwater fish Readable article by Elizabeth Grossman Three of the world’s most important tropical river basins – the Amazon, the Congo and the Mekong – are experiencing an unprecedented boom in the construction of hydro power dams. According to a paper by more than three dozen scientists from universities, research institutions and conservation organizations around the world, published in Science magazine, these projects pose a major threat to biodiversity, including to one-third of all the world’s freshwater fish species. The authors say long-term impacts of tropical hydro power projects are rarely assessed adequately and call for better – and more transparent – planning that more accurately evaluates the full costs of these dams. 

Study Major storm events play key role in biogeochemistry of watersheds A new Yale-led study paper, published in the journal Ecology, suggests that heavy weather events, though infrequent, cause an inordinate amount of organic material to bypass headwater systems, pushing them downstream into larger rivers, coastal waters, and inland basins. This phenomenon can have profound ecological implications on the quality of water systems worldwide and the chemical processes that occur within them. It is very interesting study finding River Continuum Concept to be ineffective during torrential rains and presenting a new theory of “Pulse-Shunt Concept.”

Zimbabwe Bottled water is ‘the new gold’ in drought-hit Harare Part of the problem is attributed to going on drought. The civic bodies also have failed to supply potable water and residents are forced to depend on bottled water which now outsells alcohol and soft drinks in some localities. The bottled water is so much in demand that even many well employed citizens have become part-time bottled water vendors. Ice cream sellers, security guards and school teachers all can be found hawking water as a side business.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Centre Strengthen weather & climate forecast services: Harsh Vardhan The Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan has mooted the idea of further strengthening services of the Ministry of Earth Sciences for providing weather and climate forecast to farmers and fishermen. Addressing a Press Conference in New Delhi on 29 Jan.16, he said we all have seen significant change in quality of forecasts and the Ministry of Earth Sciences has been asked to strengthen dissemination of such data to users in the field. The Minister noted that the Gramin Krishi Mausam Seva has been successful in providing crop specific advisories to farmers at the district level twice a week. The Potential Fishing Zone Advisory Service has also been operationalized to benefit the coastal fishermen community.

ENVIRONMENT

Delhi Resource management, not gadgets, make cities smart The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) area is on the first list of 20 zones which the Centre promises to smarten up for future urbanisation. Housing more VIPs per acre than anywhere else, the NDMC is the country’s most pampered municipality. Unlike the other three civic bodies of Delhi that are claiming financial crunch, the NDMC is never short of funds. Power outages are a rarity here. While every fourth person in Delhi gets just four litres of water supply daily, the NDMC zone consumes more water per capita than, say, London or Paris. The NDMC zone cannot thrive as a swanky island dissociated from the mounting challenges faced by the rest of Delhi. Excellent column from Shivani Singh in HT today, describing why NDMC cannot be a smart city and what the characteristics of smart cities are; demand side management, reducing consumption and so on.

10 years of MGNREGA Digging holes, filling them up The examples given in the article are mostly the best practices. They are not representative of the whole picture. A large number of MGNREGA projects failed because a culvert was not built to prevent the road from being washed away or a pond was dug at the top of a slope. Sadly, there is no large scale study focusing on the cost-benefit analysis of MGNREGA works. The positive experiences listed here demonstrate the potential of doing useful work through the MGNREGA with and without material especially if the labour has better technical support. Excellent list of great works carried out under MGNREGA in different parts of India.

Cremation procedure should be eco-friendly: Green Tribunal NGT has questioned the centuries-old tradition practised by Hindus to cremate dead bodies at the river banks, saying the method of burning wood leads to air pollution and also effects natural water resources. Keeping in mind the growing level of pollution, the NGT said that there was a need to adopt environment-friendly methods like electric crematoriums and use of CNG and change the ‘mindset of the people’. The NGT bench headed by Justice UD Salvi also directed the Union Environment Ministry and the Delhi government to initiate programmes to provide alternative modes of cremation of human remains, saying the traditional emitted hazardous pollutants in the environment.

A may also like to visit DRP News Bulletin 02 Feb. 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 25 Jan.2016

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