DRP News Bulletin 29 Feb. 2016 (4 decades on, Siruvani dam displaced tribals wait for justice)

Kerala 4 decades on, Siruvani dam displaced tribals wait for justice During 1970s, of Muthikulam triblas of Siruvani hills in Kerala were forced to relocate themselves to Chingampara forests area. This was how a settlement constituted 24 Muduga tribes families facilitated the construction of the Siruvani dam, a major source of drinking water for Coimbatore city and its surrounding areas in Tamil Nadu. Four decades later, the Muduga tribe has volumes to talk about the breach of official promises. Their houses are in ruins and the tribal people have to walk about 3km to fetch water from the reservoir as the decades-old water supply mechanism stopped functioning years ago. Most of the children in the Chingampara colony do not attend school as the nearest school is about 20 km away. The old school at Muthikulam got submerged in the dam waters. Now the colony has only an Anganwadi. Rajan, a differently-abled member of colony reported that the new reservoir came up in the area from where our families had been forced to move out. The dam was commissioned in 1984, but our settlement remains neglected. The tribals are still awaiting justice even after four decades. Except for the once-in-a-week visit of a junior public health nurse, there is no health care facility for the people.  Biju another affected stated that in 1971 we were promised pucca housing with water and power connections and toilets, besides compensation of Rs.10,000 but nothing happened. He felt that their rehabilitation was a mockery and they deserve a decent rehabilitation as compensation.

HYDRO POWER

Centre Power Ministry may issue tax-free bonds to fund hydropower plants According to PK Pujari Power secretary statement the ministry is considering to create a fund through issuance of tax-free hydro bonds to lend long-term finance for stalled hydro projects. The ministry is also considering altering bid documents of new hydropower plants to make provisions for possible geological surprises and required actions to cut cost and time overruns apart from mulling to bring big hydropower plants under the ambit of renewable energy. More concessions to already pampered hydro industry, but that would not help. The Ministry’s move seems to encourage the large scale financial malpractices and irregularities in which most of the hydro power companies are involved. Instead of this the Govt. need to work on policy measures which can bring in accountability and transparency to deter still-not-investigated scams.  The govt. efforts to include big hydro projects under renewable  energy ambit is also disappointing as advance scientific research is providing evidences that hydro power projects are equally polluting and environmentally destructive.  Already many projects openly fraud environmental clearances process by conducting no or faulty impact assessment studies and by manufacturing and manipulating public hearings, altering the bidding documents to make provisions for geological surprises is unreasonable and shows govt. shortsightedness.

Himachal Most hydro power projects ignoring disaster management plans: CAG Despite being located in high-risk mountainous zones, many hydropower plants are ignoring disaster management plans (DMP) or violating guidelines issued by the Central Electricity Authority and the Central Water Commission. The DMPs were not reviewed annually, as required under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The Comptroller and Auditor General observed that out of eight selected power stations, dam-break analysis was conducted only at three projects. Further, a number guidelines issued by the Central Government were not implemented at several project sites. The assessment of hospitals (situated on the power station complex) to deal with emergency situations was also not done. The DMPs of power stations did not prescribe standard operating procedures to deal with such situations. This (incomplete & belated) report about CAG audit highlights the precarious situation of disaster management plans of hydropower projects in Himalayas.

Hydro projects destroying rare Chilgoza forest With little or no natural regeneration and runaway commercial exploitation the survival of the Chilgoza pine tree species that dominates the high western Himalayan forests faces the risk of extinction. Forest officials agree that short-term economic returns are outweighing big ecological concerns. The tree also faces other threats like encroachment by apple orchards, firewood collection, new road construction and hydroelectric projects. The 100 megawatt Tidong hydropower project is said to have led to the felling of as many as 13,000 trees. In the tiny landscape, Himachal Pradesh has undertaken 49 major hydroelectric projects on the Chenab River. Excellent, in-depth report by Ananda Banerjee on Chilgoza tree, it only in passing mentions the threat to the tree from hydropower projects like Tidong.

Karnataka Fire disrupts production at 1,035-MW Sharavathi hydropower plant According local sources the fire that damaged 1,035-MW Sharavathi hydroelectric project last week is being blamed on a short circuit in the plant’s power distribution lines. The fire has caused an estimated US$14.6 million damage as it gutted the plant’s control room which is now under investigation by a panel including members from the Central Power Research Institute, Karnataka Power Corp. Ltd. The company did not say when it expects to begin rehabilitating the control room, but announced it has already started short listing companies to provide replacement equipment. The plant was completed in 1965 and is located in western India on the Sharavati River. The facility is part of a complex that also includes the 55-MW Linganamakki and 240-MW Gerusoppa plants which were unaffected by the fire.

DAM

Centre Storage status of 91 major reservoirs as on 25 Feb.2016 The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country as on February 25, 2016 was 51.2 BCM which is 32% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This was 77% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 76% of storage of average of last ten years.  According to the latest press release 15 INDIAN STATES (Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala) are having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period while only 4 States (Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tripura) are having better or equal storage than last year for corresponding period. The total water storage available in 91 major reservoirs was 51.2 BCM which is 32% of total capacity of these reservoirs.

Tamil Nadu CWC technical team visited Mullai Periyar dam to study seepage A special technical team from Central Water Commission (CWC) along with Tamil Nadu Public Works Department (PWD) officials on 23 Feb.16 inspected Mullai Periyar dam to assess seepage level in the main dam and chalk out plans to scale down seepage and undertake maintenance works. In two hours, the team inspected the main dam and collected various readings, including seepage level in gallery area and entire dam for future course of action. On the basis of team’s suggestions and guidance, the PWD would undertake maintenance work now. On the occasion Tamil Nadu officials stated that CWC report would help it tackle Kerala State irrigation complain that seepage level was high and the dam was very weak.

Maharashtra Lifeless Bhama-Askhed dam project gets fresh cash infusion from Centre In a not-so-unusual example of forgetfulness, the Pune Municipal Corporation had earlier this month passed the proposal for its ambitious 24×7 water supply project for the city, under which the controversial Bhama- Askhed scheme is a major component. Interestingly, however, there had been zero work done on the latter for more than three months now, after severe protests took place by affected villagers which is a fact nobody seems to have taken into consideration. And, even more ironically, the Central government on 24 Feb.16 released the second installment of funds for the project, leaving the civic body with no option but to express concern over the stoppage of work, as well as fears of cost escalation if work is not resumed within a month.

 India Bulls can lift water from Odha barrage till Oct 2017: HC The state government on 26 Feb.17 submitted a letter to the Bombay high court, stating that it has allowed India Bulls to lift water from Odha barrage on Godavari River till 31 Oct. 2017. Confirming the move a govt. source stated that according to the agreement made between Ratan India or India Bulls and the Water Resources Department (WRD) on 01 Jan. & 02 Feb. in 2012, the former has been allowed to lift water for its mega power plant in Sinnar.  The state government also informed the court in writing that they were planning to make it mandatory for all the municipal corporations in Maharashtra to treat sewage water and that all thermal power stations or industries will have to use the treated water and not the municipal corporation’s or WRD-controlled water.

Andhra Pradesh HC may stay payment to Pattiseema contractor A High Court bench on 22 Feb.16 did not appreciate the action of the Andhra State government in relaxing various limits and deciding to pay incentive to contractor who is executing the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project. Giving the government one week time to file an affidavit, the court said that it may have to stay payment to the contractor who executed the Pattiseema Project. The court was dealing with PIL filed by Vasireddy Srinivas, a journalist of the city, questioning the action of the State government in relaxing 5% cap limit over the estimated contract value of the project to provide an incentive of Rs. 262cr to the company executing the contract. The court was told that the project cost was initially estimated as Rs. 1,170cr and period of contract is 12 months and later it was awarded Rs. 1,427cr by relaxing 5 % cap limit.

Govt neglecting demands of Vamsadhara evacuees MVS Sarma Member of Legislative Council (MLC), Srikakulam alleged that the State govt. is neglecting demands of evacuees of Vamsadhara reservoir project, charged He along with CPM State executive member, Ch Tejeswara Rao and district secretary toured the project site on 27 Feb.16 and interacted with evacuees. Speaking to media persons, the MLC said that the government is paying a very minimal amount as compensation to the displaced when compared to that of Pattiseema, Pulichinthala and Polavaram projects under rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) package.  The trio also alleged that government is using police force against those, who are demanding better package. Meanwhile, police arrested CPM Gangarapu Simhachalam on Saturday for protesting at project site along with displaced people. Vamsadhara displaced people of Andhra Pradesh being discriminated against.

Uttarakhand SC send Tehri dam displacement cases back to HC Nainital Overlooking delay in rehabilitation of the people by Tehri Dam the Supreme Court (SC) on 27 Feb. 16 reversed back the case to High Court (HC) Nanital.  The decision is a set back on the affected people who were expecting the SC to mount pressure on State Govt. and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation for a time bound rehabilitation of all displaced people. The SC instead of questioning the delay in rehabilitation expressed surprise on the pendency of the case in SC for last ten years. It must be noted that the SC has been rescheduling, postponing the dates of hearing for past one and half year and now has reversed the case to very HC Nainital against which order the appellant had approached the apex body. People were high on expectation as it was SC which made the dam companies complete many rehabilitation related work in past 11 years.

Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand agree on Jamrani dam According to the Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav statement a memorandum of understanding would be signed between the two states shortly for construction of the Jamrani dam. He further stated that both States have agreed to plan a metro train between Muradnagar in Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar in Uttarakhand.

IRRIGATION

Maharashtra Budget 2016: Govt should spend money on small scale irrigation projects, caution activists As the Union budget has proposed to spend Rs 86,500 crore on 89 irrigation projects in next five years, activists have cautioned the government to prioratise only such projects, on which, a large portion of the project cost has already been spent and instead prioritise the small scale irrigation projects. Finance minister Arun Jaitely announced to bring 80.6 lakh hectare area under irrigation by fast tracking the 89 projects, for which Rs 17,000 crore have been allocated in 2016-17 budget. He announced to create an Irrigation Fund with Nabard and and also support creation of 5 lakh farm ponds. Parineeta Dandekar, Associate Coordinator, SANDRP says that recent large irrigation projects, especially in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have been resounding and costly failure. We should not reinvent the wheel but prioritise the small scale irrigation projects, as shown by the success of the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan of Maharashtra government. Creation of farm ponds is a welcome move. While spending money on completion of irrigation projects, we need to prioritise by selecting only those projects for which, a large proportion of the total project cost has already been spent. We should not just spend money on a large projects, just because 10%or 20% of the project cost has been spent on it.  

Maharashtra Irrigation Scam ACB registers FIR against two former officials The Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau on 23 Feb.16 registered an FIR in connection with alleged irregularities in irrigation projects in the Vidarbha region in 2006. The Nagpur unit of the ACB registered an FIR against two former officials of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) as well as FA Constructions, which received the contracts for the irrigation projects in 2006. ACB officials said that the VIDC officials misused their official positions to award the tenders to FA Constructions in spite of several norms being flouted and that FA Constructions had indulged in forgery and hatched a conspiracy with the government officials. Various irrigations projects in the state have been under the scanner since 2013 after a Special Investigating Team was set up by the Bombay High Court in 2014.  

Odisha Amid drought govt. allows diversion of irrigated land for industries Clearing hurdles for acquiring irrigated land for industrial purposes, Odisha government has come out with a concept of ‘compensatory irrigation’ asking industries to create irrigation area twice the loss of such land. Govt. sources said that sometimes in order to get a continuous patch for setting up of industries it may not be possible to avoid irrigation command area completely. At a time when the Odisha is facing drought, the State Govt. has come out with a concept of ‘compensatory irrigation’ which allows setting up of industrial units on irrigated land on a condition of creating irrigation facility for twice the area acquired by the industry. Experts fear that the guideline will open the floodgate for proposals of acquiring irrigated land. They say that given the impact of ongoing drought due to absence of assured irrigation, the diversion of irrigated land would spell doom for farmers.

RIVERS

GANGA Centre SPV for Namami Gange Progamme to be set up by next month According to Shashi Shekhar Secretary Ministry of Water Resources the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for Hybrid-Annuity based Public Private Partnership (PPP) Model for creation of Sewage Treatment Infrastructure (STP) under Namami Gange Programme (NGP) would likely to be set up by the end of next month. While inaugurating a Market Conference on ‘Hybrid-Annuity based PPP Model for Creation of STPs Infrastructure under NGP, he also said that the conference was very important because for the first time the sewage management was being addressed according market requirement. The Secretary also informed the conference that appointment of transaction advisors will begin in June 2016 and hiring of concessionaires will start from January 2017. Pushkal Upadhyay, Additional Director, National Mission for Clean Ganga also informed the conference that the total sewage generation in Ganga basin (11 states) was about 12000 mld and the gap in treatment capacity is about 6300 mld. He further said that the Government proposed to create 4000 mld treatment capacity in five states.

Uttar Pradesh Dozen Bijnor villages near polluted rivers under cancer attack Over a dozen villages around Ganga tributaries and other rivers in Bijnor district are prone to cancer, with more than 100 victims in the past five years. Nine patients are undergoing treatment at hospitals in Meerut, Delhi and Chandigarh. In Gajraula Shiv village, 8km from Bijnor city, over 22 residents have died of cancer in the past five years and now three villagers are being treated for the deadly disease. At Shadipur, which has a population of 2,500 and is 12km from Bijnor, 15 residents have died of cancer in just four years. The report mentions several death by cancer in past five years. Villagers say complain going unheard. Administration fails to link cancer with pollution. MLA is aware and plans to take it up in State Assembly. Jal Board is taking water samples and advising villagers to use tap water.

Forest dept Hastinapur in collaboration with WWF released 35 Gharials in Ganga 35 gharials all 2.8-year old 12 males and 23 females have been released into the Ganga at Hastinapur on 22 Feb.16. With this, the number of the critically endangered species released into the river in the region in the last seven years has gone up to 606 since 2009. Re-introduction of gharials into rivers started in 1974 when there were only 30 adult breeding gharials and 270 in total in the entire country. Since then, more than 7,600 have been released in UP alone. As a result now there are around 2,500-3,000 gharials in India though the survival rate for the released reptiles is around 40%.

Also see, Blind faith is chocking the Ganga by Shoba Narayan The mission to clean the Ganga will be a pipe dream as long as Indians have no problem in perceiving and accepting the river as both pure and dirty. If Indians believe that the Ganga can give you wisdom, the highest of all human desires, then pollution and defecation are trivial problems. If faith can heal the planet, then the Ganga doesn’t need human intervention. The reason why cleaning the Ganga is so complicated is because it requires behavioural modification or brainwashing on a scale that is staggering. This is the second in a four-part series from Kashi. Read the first part here. Amazing story of Ganga and Kashi

YAMUNA Delhi Art of Living faces Rs 120 crore fine for damaging Yamuna floodplains This HT report covers the NGT 27 Feb.16 hearing on Yamuna floodplain destruction by Art of Living hearing. The expert panel constituted by NGT has recommended collecting the amount from the Art of Living foundation for ecological restoration of the damaged floodplain. The panel also said that the restoration should be completed within a year from the end of the festival. NGT Principal Bench will start its daily hearing in this case from 01 March 16. Earlier to this another media report covers the destruction being done to Yamuna floodplain by the Art of Living foundation for a three day event.   Also see, Art of killing Yamuna River Manoj Misra speaks on the much neglected area of the Yamuna River and its floodplains and why its mere clean-up is not enough–especially as the World Culture Festival approaches. Manoj Ji is right there are still no national or state legislations that provide statutory protection to rivers as an ecological entity. Unfortunately this does not seem likely to happen anytime soon.

NGT Yamuna expenditure details ‘inadequate and vague’ The green court on 22 Feb.16 observed that the affidavit filed on behalf DJB as insufficient, inadequate and vague. The green bench asked Member Technical and concerned Chief Engineer collectively to file an affidavit in terms of the order dated 19th Feb before the court take any actions. Warning the Jal board of harsh action the court stated that it would not grant any further opportunity to DJB.  In November last year, after learning that nearly Rs900cr were spent on Yamuna cleaning, the NGT bench had directed DJB to not spend any more without its approval.

Study Quake hazard highest around Yamuna Preliminary analysis of “micro-tremor” measurements carried out at 44 locations in the capital by seismologists of Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee has given an idea about the seismic-hazard potential of different localities in Delhi. The report published in Current Science reveals that micro-tremor data collected over a period of one year has shown that resonance amplification of ground motion is the least on or near the ridge and highest at sites close to the Yamuna as soil thickness that traps the seismic energy and amplifies it is small near the ridge and large near the Yamuna. Scientists warn that even a magnitude-6 earthquake could cause widespread devastation in Delhi but cautioned that their analysis is preliminary and must be supplemented by “strong motion data” to be collected during actual high-intensity earthquakes in the Himalayas whenever they occur.

Haryana Pollution board put a curb on garbage flow into Yamuna The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) has restricted the flow of untreated water from one of the Gurgaon drains to the Najafgarh drain that flows from Dwarka to Wazirabad before reaching the river to bring down pollution in Yamuna. There are three drains in the city that empty into the Najafgarh drain – Leg I, Leg II and Badshapur drain. The Leg 1 drain was used to put 9MLD of untreated sewage into Najafgarh drain. The other two drains, Leg II and Badshapur drain supply only treated water to the Najafgarh drain. The step was taken after the NGT instructed the HSPCB to prevent water pollution caused by untreated sewerage flowing from Gurgaon drains to the Najafgarh drain and then to the Yamuna.

Uttar Pradesh Meerut DM asks pollution board to devise clean Hindon action plan To make the Hindon river pollution-free, district magistrate Pankaj Yadav has asked the regional department of the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to devise an action plan so that trees can be grown on the banks of the river and practice of discharging industrial effluents into the river is stopped. The DM also instructed that close monitoring of the action plan be done and a report on the matter be submitted from time to time.

SAND MINING

Odisha NGT restricts sand mining in Brahmani river The Eastern Zone of NGT has directed Odisha government not to grant any permits for sand mining in the Brahmani river bed in Dharmasala tahsil of Jajpur district. Accepting a plea of one Satish Kumar Biswal, a journalist, who drew attention that sand mining was going on in absence of any environmental clearance, NGT restrained Dharmasala Tahasildar from issuing any temporary or permanent permit in respect of sand mining from Brahmani river in favour of any party, who had not been granted environment clearance certificate by application of Rule 27B of Odisha Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 2004. The tribunal also directed to take appropriate action for violation of Rule 27B of the Odisha Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 2004 against the violators involved in sand mining from the river Brahmani in Dharmasala Tahashil. The NGT issued notice to the State government to submit a status report within three weeks and asked District Collector, Jajpur and Tahsildar of Dharmasala to submit action taken report on its direction. Also see, Govt may snap mining operations in forest areas

Maharashtra Activists oppose Govt. move to ease sand mining norms The State Govt. on 24 Feb.16 relaxed the environmental clearance process for sand mining, making it possible to get permissions for area up to five hectare at the district level. While the government has called it an effort to decentralise and speed up the process, activists fear that the decision may work in favour of sand mafias, who have already gone out of state’s control. Earlier State Expert Appraisal Committee & State Environment Impact Assessment Authority were given the responsibility of sanctioning environmental clearance to sand mining from all parts of the state. As per the new policy changes, the state level committees will be replaced by district committees and mining leases for land measuring less than five hectare will be cleared by these committees and only proposals for land over five hectares will come to state committees.  

W-Bengal Mob in Nadia torches sand mining office after accident According to police sources on 19 Feb.16 a sand laden dumper knocked down and injured a farmer, following which angry local people set fire to a sand mine office and its vehicles near Kalipur under Chakdaha police station in Nadia district. Houses of two local Trinamool Congress leaders, who run the sand mine business, were also ransacked by the mob. The villagers were opposed to the sand mining as, they said, regular plying of dumpers are affecting agriculture and it has become difficult to walk in the narrow village road because of the dumpers. They alleged that bombs were stockpiled in the office which exploded severely damaging the office. At least three vehicles used in the mining business were also torched.

Kerala Local oppose lifting of sand mining ban in Kannur The ban on sand mining in the ‘kadavus’ in the district, except in 12 locations along Valapattanam river, is lifted from 22 Feb.16. Earlier District Collector P. Bala Kiran had imposed the ban since 01Feb.16.  which was later stayed by NGT South Zone. As per the the official release, the ban is being lifted from 22 Feb.16 in all the kadavus except the 12 locations on the Valapattanam river mentioned in the case under consideration at the NGT. The move to allow mining clearance to kadavus along the Valapattanam river has raised environmental concerns. Fearing the ill impact sand minng a group of local people inhabiting Pamburuthi has approached the NGT demanding total ban on sand mining in areas surrounding the island.

Karnataka Officials raid illegal sand mining sites at Kandlur, demolish sheds Kundapur Officials of geology and mines department, along with revenue officials and the police, on 26 Feb. 16 conducted raids on illegal sand mining sites at Kandlur, seized goods and demolished sheds erected for illegal sand mining by means of JCB machines. As the licenses for sand mining in the coast had expired, the district administration had banned sand mining till they were renewed. However, sand mining at Kandluru was going on unabated in violation of the official order. Therefore, officials with the help of the police conducted raids in the area, seized sand and the goods used for mining and handed them over to the local gram panchayats.

Madhya Pradesh नर्मदा घाटी में अवैध रेत खनन पर शिंकजा कसने के एन.जी.टी. के आदेश (NBA PR 26/02/2016) आज नर्मदा घाटी में चल रहे अवैध रेत खनन पर, राष्ट्रीय हरित न्यायाधिकरण(एन.जी.टी.)के समक्ष कढी बहस हुई। एन.जी.टी. से नियुक्त दो वरिष्ठ अधिवक्ता-श्री अजय गुप्ता व धर्मवीर शर्मा के जांच आयेाग की रिपोर्ट 3 फरवरी को पेश की गई थीI एन.जी.टी. के आदेश अनुसार बड़वानी, धार, खरगोन व अलिराजपुर के चारो जिलाधिशो से अपने अपने जवाब हलफनामो के साथ पेश किये। एन.जी.टी. की खण्डपीठ ने अपने आदेश में कहां है कि आयुक्तो की रिपोर्ट में शासन के अवैध रेत खनन पर कार्यवाही पर कठोर टीका टिप्पणी की है, और अवैध रेत खनन गंभीर मात्रा में चलने की बात कही है। शासन के जवाब, चारो जिलाधिशेा से जो प्रस्तुत किये गये है, उससे पर्याप्त कार्यवाही का दावा जरूर किया है लेकिन अर्जदार (न.ब.आं) को इस पर आपत्ति है, जो वह 7 दिनो में पेश करेगे ओर अगली सुनवाई 18 मार्च के रोज होगी। आदेश में विशेष रूप से कहां है कि शासन उन्होने की हुई आज तक की कार्यवाही की पूरी जानकारी, आरोपियेां के नामो के साथ पेश करें।

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

Delhi Develop own water resources to solve crisis: Experts Much of Delhi’s water woes could be solved if its own reservoirs are put to use. The city’s 460 wetlands, along with the Yamuna floodplains and the Ridge, have enough water to help the national capital overcome a supply crisis like the current one, say hydrologists and water activists. Delhi has been facing a supply shortage of about 210 MGD because of the repair work at Munak canal in Haryana for the past few days. Water experts have pretty much written off the Renuka dam because they feel it will take a long time to come up. They say it’ is “sensible” to have one’s own resources. According Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP there are lots of governance issues. Treated water is not being reused when it should be used immediately to recharge reservoirs and rainwater is not being harvested either when it should be taken up on a large scale in parks, commercial buildings, bridges, malls, flyovers and schools.

Chhattisgarh State to map water bodies to boost pisciculture The government of Chhattisgarh will undertake a survey using remote sensing technology for mapping the location of ponds, rivers and other water bodies to encourage fish farming in the State. According to government sources the State has sufficient number of ponds, water bodies and rivers to produce fish of any variety. Therefore, the government is carrying out a remote sensing survey to identify location of these water bodies to use them for fish rearing. The survey will initially be carried out in eight districts, following which digital maps of water bodies will be prepared at the village and block level. All details relating to fish rearing will be computerised and made online. A web application will also be created on the entire database, he added.  It is indeed high time that such mapping is done by all states for all districts and made public, not only for fisheries but for various other points of view too.  The State alone employs 12 lakh in fisheries.

Rajasthan Expert claim ISRO Wetlands Atlas as misleading Udaipur Earth scientists highlights basic discrepancies contained in the National Wetland Atlas-Rajasthan which was put together after extensive field work by the Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad (ISRO) and State Remote Sensing Application Centre, Jodhpur in 2010 what is even more surprising to them is that this atlas has been used by experts in the field for reference for at least five years and all this while no complaints were made by anyone. One example of how the atlas misleads readers is the description of Jaisamand lake, Asia’s second-largest artificial lake in Udaipur. The Atlas says that the lake was constructed to meet the drinking requirement of Udaipur city and also supplies hydropower to the city (pg165). While factually there is no hydro power generated from this lake and it was meant to meet irrigation, not drinking water needs. Also see, State govt to form panel for conserving wetlands

WATER

Centre Uma Bharti calls for implementation of PMKSY in a time bound manner Inaugurating Jal Manthan-2 convention on the theme “Integrated Approach for Sustainable Water Management” in New Delhi the Uma Bharati, Union Water Resources Minister said that our of 46 irrigation schemes under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yaojna (PMKSY) 23 schemes have to be completed in the first phase by 2017 and the remaining 23 will have to be completed by the year 2020. She urged the experts attending the convention to focus their discussion mainly on PMKSY and inter-linking of rivers. She is reported to have directed her officials to constitute a working group in consultation with the representatives of various states within two days and the group will submit its report to her within 20 days identifying various steps which may be required for completing the 46 scheme in a time bound manner. Also see, Centre wants states on board for water law

Delhi Quata stir impact: Delhiites drink dirty water, sometimes steal for survival The damaged Munak canal which was severely damaged by Jat protesters demanding reservations in Haryana, is the sole source of water for many colonies in west Delhi. Janakpuri, Inderpuri, Uttam Nagar, Todapur and Dwarka are now grappling with a severe water shortage. For some residents, the problem was more complex. Residents of Madhu Vihar, for example, have been drinking discarded water after storing it till its impurities settle. Taking advantage of the desperation of residents shopkeepers were charging Rs 100 for a water bottle which otherwise cost Rs 20. In many private societies of Dwarka residents have locked up their tanks and garages to save water from being stolen by neighbours. In some places, some residents who have borewells in their home have turned good samaritans and have been sharing water with their neighbours. Also see, Both banks of Munak canal completely breached

Delhiites move to hotels to tide over water crisis Delhi still undergoing a big water crisis post breach in Munak Canal last week due to Jat Reservation Movement Haryana. The complete restoration of canal based water supply can take about a month. Meanwhile the spike in Ammonia level for the third time in past one & half month has forced shut down of two water treatment plants in capital further compromising the already stressed water supply condition. Many industrial units in Yamuna Nagar, Panipat and Sonipat discharges untreated effluents in the Yamuna River via Drain No. 2, 8 & Dhanura Escape leading to disruption in water supply in Delhi.

Punjab Availability of potable water for school children remains a myth in Bhathinda Despite the tall claims of the state government and the district Education Department of ensuring 100 per cent potable water to all government schools by installing reverse osmosis plants on the school premises, students of several schools, especially those located in rural areas, have no option but to either consume water from hand-pumps or from non-functional RO plants. A pointer towards the same is the report of the purity tests conducted for water samples collected by the Health Department six months ago. Out of samples collected from water sources (hand pumps, taps and RO plants) in residential areas and schools, samples of many schools had failed the test with the reports terming the water from the sources ‘unfit for consumption’. The report also added that contaminated water from hand pumps, the only source of water for students in many government schools in Bathinda, contained excessive content of fluoride, chloride and bacteria.

GROUND WATER

National Water table mismanagement: an ingenious concept in neglect Even as the mercury is steadily rising well before the onset of official summer season and with the rapidly falling water table becoming a cause for concern, both the Telugu States continue to remain lax in promoting a modified watershed development concept that yielded impressive results in their own backyards. Farmers of Gottigaripalli in Zaheerabad of Medak district who raised three crops last year despite it being a drought year would vouch for the efficacy of the new technology – Four Waters Concept to quickly replenish the water table. The widely reported impressive rise in water table in the village was nothing short of a miracle. It ensured copious supply for irrigation even when neighbouring villages with five-decade-old conventional technology were reeling under drinking water crisis. Strangely while both Andhra and Telangana governments failed to replicate the concept across watersheds in their States, Rajasthan Government, which adopted it, has been reaping the benefits.

WATER OPTIONS

National Vishvaraj plans Rs 6,000cr investment in waste water projects Diversifying it areas into integrated water supply, waste water treatment and reuse segments, Vishvaraj Infrastructure plans to invest around Rs 6,000crore over the next five years to tap the growing market for waste water treatment and expand its footprint across the country. According to Arun Lakhani Chairman & Managing Director statement the company is looking at entering Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, West Bengal and Bihar to take up waste water treatment and water supply projects and expects to garner around Rs 2,500 crore in revenue from this business. Vishvaraj is currently executing water supply projects in Nagpur in Maharashtra and Magadi, Bidar and Basavakalyan in Karnataka. It is also executing a USD 42-million sewage water treatment project in Nagpur. The current waste water treatment capacity in the country is only around 30 % of the total generation, but only 55 percent of this is operational.

West Bengal Sulabh is changing the way the arsenic belt of India consumes drinking water It was once a land where ground water was so contaminated by arsenic that many who drank it turned dark with its poison. Today, the same villagers are making a living selling purified drinking water, a transformation brought about by the introduction of a cheap and effective surface water filtration technology introduced by NGO Sulabh International. Villagers are now able to obtain pure drinking water at the affordable rate of 50 paise per litre, even while other bottled water sells for upwards of Rs 10. Having consumed pure drinking water for over a year now, the villagers are reporting better health. A recent survey conducted there found that even the victims of arsenicosis who switched to drinking Sulabh water last year have seen rapid improvement in their health. The beauty of this technology is that it can be implemented across India’s so-called arsenic belt spread across West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, or indeed wherever villagers rely on ground water and rain-fed ponds and reservoirs for drinking water.

DROUGHT

Madhya Pradesh State stares at drought, water crisis growing Madhya Pradesh is staring at a drought-like condition for the second consecutive year if revenue department reports from districts are any indication. As the state is on the verge of another drought, far-flung areas of more than 40 districts have reported water shortage with hand pumps and underground water sources drying up much before the onset of summer. Chambal and Bundelkhand regions are the worst affected due to scanty rainfall during the previous years. Drought in the state has so far affected 48 lakh farmers in 228 tehsils while an area of 44 lakh hectare has also been hit by the severe arid conditions. Apart from Rs 2,400-crore compensation to be extended to the farmers for crop damage, the state has also sought an additional Rs 300 crore from the Centre for drinking water supply in various districts.

Maharashtra Parched Latur sees exodus of 50k in a week as factories, shops shut down The drought-hit districts of Latur, Osmanabad and Beed are witnessing the highest-ever migration of labourers and villagers as the acute water scarcity has forced a large number of industries, shops and establishments to shut down. While Latur collector Pandurang Pol claims to be “in the dark“ about the exodus, an estimated 50,000 people from the district are reported to have shifted to Aurangabad and Pune in search of wages within a week. A senior bureaucrat, however, admitted that a large number of workers had in fact moved out of the Marathwada districts. The bureaucrat said the situation will be more critical in March, April and May. Also see, Marathwada sees 50 more farmer suicides in February

Odisha State to prepare protocol for drought mitigation Govt. has decided to prepare a protocol to face challenges caused by dry spells in the state which is a victim of drought at frequent intervals. On 27 Feb.16 AP Padhi Chief Secretary, Odisha State Disaster Management Authority in a body meeting has asked the governing body to prepare a protocol to successfully mitigate the menace of drought as in the case of floods and cyclones.  In 2015 drought affected 28 of the state’s 30 districts. The protocol would be jointly prepared by departments like Panchayati Raj, Water Resources, Rural Development, Agriculture and others. The government would make plans and start supplying seeds to farmers without waiting till crop damage in October and November. The meeting also approved formation of 10 additional Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force units which will become operational from 01 April 16, this year.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Centre Govt. asks states to draft green energy action plans The central government has asked states to prepare action plans with year-wise targets to introduce renewable energy technologies and install solar rooftop panels as it tries to ensure states don’t lag while the Centre works to achieve 175 GW of renewable power by 2022. Once the Centre receives all the plans, it will hold a meeting of all states on the issue on 2 March 16. States must also set out annual targets for renewable purchase obligation (RPO) till 2022 and identify locations to set up renewable energy plants. RPOs are the minimum share of total power that electricity distribution companies and some large power consumers need to purchase from renewable energy sources. Centre seems to be taking some serious steps in moving towards rooftop solar all over India.

SOUTH ASIA

BRICS bank eyeing investments in hydropower projects The New Development Bank (NDB) a multilateral lender created by Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) emerging nations is all set to fund hydropower and electricity projects in South Asia. The bank received an ‘AAA’ institutional rating from domestic credit rating agencies and has appointed Bank of China and China Development Bank as rating advisers. Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs have been appointed as advisers for international ratings for the bank. The news links cover the statement made by K.V. Kamath NDB President, Vladimir Kazbekov, NDB vice president, Anton Siluanov Russian Finance Minister while speaking on sidelines of a G-20 Conference in Sanghai on 26 Feb. 2016. The move is being done under clean energy ambit. It is surprising and sad that these financial institutes still perceive hydro as clean energy source which is not the case now. Wish they focus more on solar, wind efficient production & management of available energy apart from demand reduction. Also see New BRICS bank set to fund green energy projects

Nepal Pancheshwar is turning a daydream India has dragged its feet on the Mahakali based multi-purpose project with a strong hydropower component as it has not sent its four representatives to the Pancheshwar Development Authority although Nepal did so nine months ago. After two meetings of the governing body, the secretary of India’s Water Resource Ministry Shashi Shekhar has been too busy to come to the third. Now, Nepal expects Wapcos India Limited to complete the Detailed Project Report within March. But we cannot believe their words until it actually happens. The recent Indian blockade has altered Nepal’s relations with India forever. Now, Nepal will remain cautious of whatever sweet assurances India gives. The Pancheshwar project may forever remain a daydream. Excellent piece giving what is realty of Pancheswar project and how the project is not really needed, rooftop solar is a better options.

A large rock avalanche hit Myagdi district Various news agencies in Nepal are reporting that there was a large dry landslide in the Annapurna area of Nepal. According to the National Seismological Center, the massive landslide that hit Narchyang area near the Annapurna South Peak in Myagdi district at around 3am on 23 Feb.16 caused a magnitude 3.8 tremor.  All the indications are that this was a very large landslide which has blocked the valley and of course the detection of a seismic signal.  As yet there are no images, but reports suggest that the Ghalmedi Kola (river) has been blocked. Nepal continues to face the impacts of April 2015 earthquake. The landslide had stopped the work on a 5 MW HEP stopped.

REST OF ASIA

Cambodia Cambodians Raise Questions About Angkor Beer’s Involvement in Don Sahong Dam On 25 Feb.16 a coalition of environmentalists, young people, and local villagers attempted to submit a petition to the company at its brewery in Sihanoukville, asking the company to withdraw from the project because it could harm fisheries on the Mekong River. According to the petition the dam will affect the flow of the Mekong River, destroy fisheries in the lower Mekong, and affect millions of people in neighboring countries. The hydroelectric dam proposed for the Mekong River in the Siphandone area of Champasak Province in southern Laos is less than two kilometers upstream from the Laos–Cambodia border. Laos views the 260-megawatt Don Sahong dam as a major economic project that can make the country a source of electric power for much of the region. While debate over who controls the project and what its environmental effects may be is still going on, construction of the dam continues.

REST OF WORLD

US Hydropower Is Not ‘Cheap’ or ‘Clean’ Gary Wockner exposing glaring mistakes in Impacts of California’s Drought: Hydroelectric Generation 2015 Update a report prepared by California think-tank Pacific Institute. According to him the report tries to green washing all the social & environmental damages the hydro project causes. He further says that if the report would have included an “environmental full-cost accounting” the cost of hydropower for California consumers would have been shown to be huge. The rivers of the world are facing major threats from hydroelectric dams that displace people, destroy forests and increases climate change emissions. In Latin America, Indonesia, China and Vietnam and across the developing world, people and activists who are fighting to stop these dams are being assaulted, imprisoned and sometimes murdered. Rivers are the living, breathing blood veins of the planet. Hydroelectric dams kill rivers. Nothing about that is clean and cheap.

Women lead the fight to protect Amazonia from the impacts of a huge dam After a quarter-century of plans and protests and construction and more protests, the Belo Monte dam complex on a tributary of the Amazon River in north-central Brazil will start generating power next month. Its capacity will make it the third largest hydro-electric system in the world. But indigenous women are among those who have fought it every step of the way, exemplified by an iconic image that represents the resistance to the project. Environmental activist Antonia Melo is one of them. She says she’s been fighting against the dam for 25 years, and even after construction began in 2011, Melo and her group “Xingu Alive Forever” didn’t give up. For Antonia Melo, her rhetoric is still focused on stopping Belo Monte. But she’s also been working with leaders fighting other dams, so that lessons learned here might still lead to victory elsewhere. It’s the same uncompromising attitude as 25 years ago.  But the legacy of activism against Belo Monte may yet be felt in fewer and less damaging hydropower projects elsewhere.

Global The hidden environmental factors behind the spread of Zika and other devastating diseases The alarming spread of the Zika virus is turning into a public health catastrophe. According to experts the latest example of how human alterations to their environments, in the broadest sense, can empower disease-carrying organisms like Aedes and the viruses they bring with them. One of the most consequential things humans can do to the environment is damming a large river so that it can be used for hydropower or to create reservoirs. There have been many complaints about how dams can damage ecosystems, but there is also considerable evidence that the way they change watery environments can foster vector-borne disease. According to Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine dam building is one of the biggest factors in the emergence of schistosomiasis, the dam on the Upper Volta promoted the massive emergence of schistosomiasis in Ghana.

World’s large river deltas continue to degrade from human activity From the Yellow River in China to the Mississippi River in Louisiana, researchers are racing to better understand and mitigate the degradation of some of the world’s most important river deltas. According to University of Colorado Boulder faculty member Professor James Syvitski more than two-thirds of the world’s 33 major deltas are sinking and the vast majority of those have experienced flooding in recent years, primarily a result of human activity. He presented new research findings on changing deltas around the world at the 2016 Ocean Sciences meeting held in New Orleans Feb. 21-26, 2016. James further stated that human effects on river deltas range from engineering tributaries and river channels, extracting groundwater and fossil fuels, trapping sediments behind dams, reducing peak flows of rivers and varied agricultural practices. 

Brazil Seven charged over Samarco dam disaster Brazilian authorities have charged the president of mining company Samarco and six others with homicide for the mining disaster that killed 19 people last November. Samarco is owned by Brazil’s Vale and mining giant BHP Billiton. On 23 Feb.16 police presented the first official report into the incident. The report concluded that the accident was caused by excess water in the dam, lack of proper monitoring, faulty equipment and failure in the drainage system. It discarded the possibility of any minor earthquakes during the incident. The police report also said that Samarco’s emergency plan to warn nearby villagers was insufficient. The incident was the worst mining accident in Brazil’s history.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Centre National Steering Committee meeting on Climate Change held The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change held the ninth meeting of the National Steering Committee on Climate Change on 22 Feb.16. The Committee approved the Detailed Project Reports on adaptation submitted by governments of Telangana, Mizoram, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya and Chhattisgarh for funding, under the National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change at a total cost of approximately Rs. 108 crore for implementation in these states.

You may also like to explore DRP News Bulletin 22 Feb. 16 & DRP News Bulletin 15 Feb. 2016

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