DRP News Bulletin 07 March 2016 (Sudden water discharge from Chamera-II hydro Project in Himachal killed 2 Air Force jawans)

Sudden water discharge from Chamera-II hydro project killed 2 IAF jawans  In the evening of 05 March, 2 Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel posted at the Pathankot airbase were washed away by sudden rise in Ravi’s water level from Chamera-II hydro project in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh while 3 other personnel had a close shave. According to Sudesh Mokhta Deputy Commissioner Chamba the 5 IAF personnel on a weekend holiday trip were clicking pictures on the river bank at the time of the incident when the water of the river rose suddenly after discharge from upstream Chamera-II project. The incident happened around 6.30 pm and due to darkness, the search operation remained unsuccessful. It was only on 06 March that the bodies were fished out. Mokhta further stated that a magisterial probe has been ordered to ascertain if the NHPC authorities, which man the Chamera-II project, followed the guidelines laid down by the high court for the discharge of water.  On 08 June 2014 also during a similar accident, 24 students from Hyderabad were killed by sudden discharge of water from Larji hydel project dam in Mandi district.

HYDRO POWER 

Centre Under new industrial categorization Ministry puts Mini Hydro projects out of EC ambit In a move which may push the Centre’s `Make In India’ initiatives, the environment ministry on 05 March released new categorisation of industries, exempting 36 types of industries from taking environmental clearance. The newly introduced `White’ category of industries pertains to those industrial sectors which are practically non-polluting. It includes cotton and woollen hosiery (dry process only without any dying washing operation), electric lamp (bulb) and CFL manufacturing by assembling, scientific and mathematical instrument manufacturing, solar power generation through photovoltaic cells, wind power and mini-hydel power (less than 25 MW of capacity) among others. Under the new categorisation, industries which pollute the most have been put in the `Red’ category while the moderately polluting units are classified `Orange’. Industries that have a significantly low pollution load have been placed in the `Green’ category while those that operate without causing any pollution have been categorised as `White’. A total of 242 types of industries have been classified based on their air, water and soil polluting potential. It is disappointing to learn this as many mini hydro power projects like Kharadi, Uttarkashi can spell destruction to small river eco-system and riparian community as a whole the same way as big dams do to big rivers and dependent communities. Instead keeping mini hydro out of environment clearance ambit they should be included under EIA notification of Sept 2006 and be taken up with free, prior and informed consent of all concerned.

Arunachal Pradesh Private dam builders back out of Brahmaputra dams The frenetic rush, it seems, is over with private companies that had earlier queued up to build dams in the state losing interest and asking the public sector National Hydel Power Corporation to take over their projects. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP termed the various hydropower projects in the state as a “mess in process” as despite all the MoUs signed, barring two-three, none of the other projects have started in Arunachal Pradesh because the decision making process in itself was flawed, the community impact assessment was false, it did not involve the local community. He further stated that when the private companies rushed in to sign those projects, in the period between 2005 and 2010, the demand for electricity was high. There was no risk for the private companies. The financial risk was borne by the government and the environmental risk by the locals. So courier companies, tobacco companies, hotel industry, everyone rushed in to sign contracts. There is a categorical statement from NHPC here that work on Lower Subansiri project will start as soon as the elections are over in Assam, which seems strange and disingenuous.

Uttarakhand Pinder the last flowing Ganga tributary under dam threat The Pinder River is the only northward bound Himalayan River in India, and happens to be the last main tributary of the Ganga that has not been dammed. But like other rivers in State, there are 3 hydro electric projects (HEP) 252mw Devsari, 72mw Bagoli & 27mw Padli are proposed on the Pindar River. These projects will interrupt the flow of biota, sediments and destroy the riverine ecosystem apart from impacting the culture of the people in the river valley. The people of the valley have campaigned against these dams and their struggle has been ongoing for years. But project proponents stealthily completed their surveys and other related works, without engaging or informing the locals. As the last free-flowing tributary of Ganga, it should be allowed to retain this status and not be diverted into tunnels, dams.

Villagers summons the officials of World Bank The Villagers and Project Affected People of Vishnugaad – Peepalkoti hydroelectric project on 04 March summons the officials of World Bank the funding agency. People have continuously complained about the incomplete rehabilitation work in this project. The ecology and environment is getting largely affected due to the tunnelling and overall development of this project. But World Bank has been cleverly showing that the problems have been resolved and this project should operation in a systematic manner. The affected people of various villages have surrounded the officials of World Bank again today. This happened whenever the officials visited the villagers. They remained silent mostly and diverted the question when asked about the questions regarding resolution of problems related to rehabilitation, ecological devastation and environmental concerns. On 2 March also, the same thing happened with strong opposition from the villagers against the flawed developmental project and the promises from the Govt. and the World Bank.

CM inaugurates 1mw hydropower project in Purkul Chief Minister Harish Rawat on 03 March inaugurated the 1mw hydropower project proposed on Tons river at Purkul village. The hydropower project of small generation capacity was inaugurated weeks after state government gave green signal to a proposal that sought drafting of a policy for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises to commission hydropower projects with power generation capacity of 1mw to 25mw & 25mw to 50mw. Under the policy, village panchayat bodies will be allowed to share revenue from power generated through rivers and other water bodies. After inaugurating the project Rawat said that this was the beginning of a process to encourage village panchayat bodies and people living in remote areas to participate in power generation process in their own land. In last month also on 19 Feb. 16 the CM has laid foundation stone for 1.5mw Guptkashi hydro power project at Lwara & Semi Bhaisari Gram Panchayat in Guptkashi.

DAM  

SANDRP Blog  Are Large Dams a Smart option for cities? A Review of past one year of Urban Water issues in India from the perspective of dams and rivers. The total dependency of urban areas on dams in faraway regions is a fairly recent phenomenon. Till the middle of nineteenth century, even important urban centres like Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai used local water sources like shallow wells, tanks and rivers to quench the thirst of a concentrated population. Plz help us disseminate if you find this useful.

Maharashtra Govt plans to revive controversial Konkan irrigation projects The state government has taken a policy decision to get the controversial irrigation projects Balganga, Kondhane, Kalu and Shai, planned in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region back on track, even as the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) probe into these dams is far from complete. These dams are among the 12 projects from Konkan under the ACB scanner following a Bombay high court order. Besides arbitrary cost escalations that pointed to siphoning off public money, various other norms were violated while clearing these four projects, including the lack of a project design, water availability certificates, forest clearances and rehabilitation of the project affected. The news quoted SANDRP report released in 2014 that pointed out that the dams were being planned on the basis of a 1993 report by water expert Madhav Chitale that was based on wrong predictions of population as well as water requirement for the city.

6 dams in Marathwada at dead storage level The water crisis in the drought-struck region of Marathwada is worsening long before the summer sets in. Water levels in the region’s dams are already down to 6% of capacity. 6 of the region’s 11 major dams are at dead storage level. The biggest dam in the region, Jayakwadi, has only 2% water left. Last year at this time, water levels in Marathwada’s dams were much higher, at 18%. In the worst affected areas of Beed, Latur and Osmanabad, the water level in dams is 1% or less. Dams across the state have only 27% water left compared to 43% at this time in 2015. Ironically Marathwada is a key hub for the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor. Several projects for the region were also inked during the ‘Make in India Week’ against what critics have been raising questions.

Himachal  Why Renuka dam clearances not quashed This article by Kanchi Kohli focuses on some key observations in the NGT’s judgment which have a bearing on environmental decision-making in India. Despite finding inconsistent and contradictory disclosure of the land requirement for the project, NGT on 02 Feb.16 found only the appraisal of the project to be insufficient. Such an observation upholding the contentions of the appellant clearly warrants that the clearance be quashed but the NGT bench concluded that the environmental clearance in question would not be quashed in the light of the national interest of the project and the amount already spent.  Ritwick Dutta the lawyer fighting the case says that when the project approval is itself based on such faulty data, it lends itself to a deeper enquiry on how it is in national interest. He also raises another important question as to why NGT refused to quash environment clearance to Renuka dam when Delhi says it does not need water from the dam.

Andhra Pradesh BJP cited massive financial irregularities in Polavaram & Pattiseema project Holding ruling party responsible for the delay in reimbursement of bills pertaining to Polavaram project, Daggubati Purandeswari a BJP leader alleged that State Govt. had failed to provide explanations on various expenditures incurred on the project which were sought by the Central Government (CG). She further stated that the project cost was doubled from 16000cr to 32000cr without taking Polavaram Project Authority into confidence. She also blamed that the State Govt. has included Rs. 953cr on Pattiseema project in Polavaram expenses whereas it was not part of the design. According to her statement made before the media persons, the State Govt. has not given the detail of Rs 854cr spent on land acquisition and Rs 183cr spent on rehabilitation of affected farmers. Conflicts between political allies in Andhra Pradesh on Polavaram dam spilling beans in public domain.

Odisha Hirakud dam oustees staged protest rally over unmet demands In a massive Rally on 28 Feb.16 hundreds of Hirakud Dam displaced families from Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Bargarh and Sonepur under the Banner of Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti (BASS) protested at Lower PMG Chhak demanding fulfilment of their long pending demands. In its memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister marking a copy to the Revenue Minister, BASS has alleged that despite promises and subsequent orders and application for homestead land, the State Govt. has issued 10 decimal homestead land to displaced families Rengali and Jamimkera Tahsil of Sambalpur district & has failed to issue the same to displaced families of Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts.

Gujarat Over 2 decades later, Narmada dam oustees still wait for relief In June 2014, as the Narmada Control Authority okayed a further increase in the dam’s height by 17 metres, all those previously displaced by the project were to have been already rehabilitated. But in Danel, the village of Nandurbar district’s Taloda taluka has a different story to recount. 23 years after the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) dam was built, 70-year-old Atya Devji Padvi an oustee of SSP finds to have lost one more land parcel that he was entitled to as a project-affected person but never received. Padvi blamed that the state government had issued an land allotment order without informing him. Worse, the allotted land was privately owned and the government had never acquired it. Danel was among the first villages to have been submerged in 1993. And amid protests the project-affected people were resettled in a resettlement colony now called Narmada Nagar. One of the first acts of the Modi government was to sanction Sardar Sarovar Dam work to be taken to its full height of 138.68 m from 121.92 m, an increase of 17 meters when thousands of people already displaced are yet to be resettled as this story says. Also see, Vaghela slams govt’s development claims  Vaghela said that against the present capacity of irrigating 11.62 lakh hectare land under the Narmada Yojana, only 2.09 lakh hectare land was being provided water.

Bihar Nitish hopeful of high dam in Nepal to contain State floods Chief Minister Nitish Kumar thinks that he has been able to convince the Nepalese leadership of the utility of a high dam in Sapt Kosi region to tame recurrent floods by generating hydroelectricity and ensuring control over the flood plains. He also said that India’s power needs are burgeoning and Nepal can earn from feeding India as it has potential to generate 1lakh mw of power. The CM believed that Bihar will largely gain from hydel projects in Nepal, especially a high dam, which will help in floodplains planning and control strategies. It seems we continue to remain ignorant towards the natural functions of rivers e.g. flood which turns more destructive when imprisoned in reservoirs and embankments. Bihar CM also appears to have learnt nothing from Koshi flood.

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

Punjab Centre faults 2004 Punjab law The Centre on 29 Feb.16 took a stand against Punjab in the Supreme Court (SC) on the river water issue by contending that the law enacted by the state in 2004 cancelling its agreements with Haryana and other neighbouring states was against the SC orders for the completion of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a five-member Constitution Bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave that “we stand by the two judgments” of the SC for the construction of the SYL canal which was opposed by Punjab. Kumar made the clarification as the Bench took up for hearing the 2004 Presidential reference on the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004. The dispute is over sharing the river waters of the Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej. Also see, SC hearing on validity of Punjab law

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Centre Clean energy fund might pay for inland waterways In Budget 2016-17, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley might allocate monies from National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) to develop logistics infrastructure for inland waterways and coastal transportation. In the current financial year, Rs 8,916.50 crore was collected as coal cess for NCEF. According to source until 2010, only Rs1117 crore was spent on inland waterways since Independence. Currently, the Centre is developing NW-1 between Haldia and Allahadbad. The work on the multi-model terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia is expected to commence in April 2016. The construction of a new navigational lock at Farakka to facilitate efficient and smooth navigation on NW-1 is expected to commence in May 2016. In addition to the existing five national waterways, 106 more inland waterways would be declared as national waterways after the passing of the National Waterways Bill 2015.

IRRIGATION                                                                             

SANDRP Comment on Union Budget 2016-17 Massive support to AIBP projects is unwarranted In the budget the Govt. has allocated a huge amount of Rs.86,500 crores for AIBP projects over 5 years. The massive thrust and support for large dam and canal network which has not delivered in past is among the most problematic parts of the Budget. While only 6000 crores has been given to sustainable management of ground water despite the fact that contribution of groundwater in irrigation is much larger than surface water. Moreover Rs. 20000 crores for creation of long term irrigation fund has been to NABARD which lack specific social & environmental policies. However digging of 5 lakh farm ponds and dug wells in rain fed areas and 10 lakh compost pits through MNEREGA is a welcome step. Finally, a budget is as good as its implementation. A look at achievements of the last year indicates that that several schemes are still listed as under progress. While the aim of increasing farmers’ incomes by double in 2022 sounds very strong and positive, it does remind one of the BJP’s election promised of ensuring 50% profit over costs to farmers, unmet till date and now abandoned.

Rs 86,500cr allocated for irrigation will not help Maharashtra’s farmers Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP pointed out that the scheme started by P Chidambaram in 1996 in two decades did not deliver any irrigation. What it did was create huge bank balances for contractors, engineers, bureaucrats and hand-in-glove politicians. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP said that before the government spends more money it should undertake a credible, independent review of why the projects are incomplete for so long, go into the loopholes and learn lessons from past mistakes. SANDRP has shown with official data that even after spending over Rs 600,000 crores on major and medium dam and canal network between 1993-2010-11, net national canal irrigated area has been decreasing and not increasing. Report in DNA based on SANDRP Comment on Union Budget 2016-17. 

Centre Big push for stalled irrigation projects to counter poor rains Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to rely heavily on expanding the country’s irrigation network to counter the ill-effects of two consecutive failed monsoons. Most of the allocation would be spent on completion of existing irrigation schemes and their results would only be felt after a gap. Around 89 irrigation projects under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme that have been languishing for a long time would be fast-tracked in the coming financial year which would help in irrigating 8.06 million hectares. The flagship Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana will be implemented in a mission mode. Under this scheme, 2.85 million hectares would be brought under irrigation in 2016-17. The Centre plans to spend Rs 12,517 crore on the programme of which Rs 5,717 crore would come from budgetary allocation and rest from market borrowings.

Budget allocation for Water Ministry increased by 168% Overall allocation of resources for the Ministry of Water Resources has increased from Rs 7,431 crore in 2015-16 to Rs12,517crore in the Union Budget for 2016-17. This shows an increase of more than 168%. The Ministry said Allocation for Ground Water Scheme has been enhanced by 85% and another major program for sustainable Ground Water Resources for Rs 6,000crore has been approved. Referring to the importance of the palaeo channels which serve as a good repository of ground water as well as suitable areas for artificial recharge and ground water storage, Water Minister Uma Bharti said that a national Level Expert Committee is being constituted involving the eminent researchers to review the available information on Palaeochannel / River Saraswati under the Chairmanship of Prof Waldia, a Padma Bhushan awardee.

Bihar A new model for bottom up irrigation and land management for marginal women farmers In 2013, inspired by tenant collectives International Water Management Institute developed a project namely Improving Dry Season Irrigation for Marginal & Tenant Farmers in Eastern Gangetic Plains with an aim to  replicate collective model & combining it with the introduction of cutting edge irrigation & land management practices. The successes of the collective so far have exceeded expectations. The first farm of 1.4 hectares is farmed by a group of 12 people, mostly women, the majority of whom are landless. All labour has been shared & the group approach has made labour management a lot easier. Now the farmers are farming a contiguous plot of land & as they can share the costs, irrigation becomes a lot more feasible. Although, there is still considerable work to be done in identifying the ideal model for tenant collectives however the success of the spring harvest will be illustrative. At a time when redistributive land reforms remain elusive and with the ever present threat of climate change, tenant collectives can offer an exciting new model for gender sensitive and resilient irrigated agriculture for India’s huge population of landless farmers in the years ahead.

Telangana-Maharashtra agrees to sign MoU for 5 irrigation projects on dry Godavari The Maharashtra & Telangana government have agreed for five inter-state irrigation projects including Kaleshwaram project to be built on Godavari, Penganga and Pranahitha rivers apart from a barrage at Rajapet on Penganga, a barrage between Chankha-Kovata, a barrage at Penpahad and another one at Tammidihatti on Pranahita river in Adilabad district. A barrage would also be built at Medigadda in Karimnagar district. Maharashtra government would take up the projects at Rajapet and Penpahad, while Telangana would build the remaining three. The Maharashtra government has agreed to permit Telangana to take up projects across Godavari and its tributaries on condition that there should be minimal or no submergence of villages in that state. According to R. Vidyasagar Rao, irrigation advisor to the Chief Minister Telangana 8 barrages have been proposed and the comprehensive agreements will cover all pending projects across the rivers Godavari, Pranahita and Penganga which includes Kaleswaram, Lower Penganga and Lendi. A common inter-state board will oversee implementation. Towards end the report also mentions that Irrigation officials are unable to release 0.60 tmc feet of water from the Babli project in Nanded district to the Sriramsagar project (SRSP) as the Godavari, which feeds Babli, has dried up due to lack of adequate rains in the past two years. Presently, only 5.4 tmc feet of water is available in SRSP the project with the dead storage level being 5 tmc feet. Meanwhile T Harish Rao Irrigation Minister Telangana State appealed to the Centre once again to provide national status to the Kaleswaram Project. Harish said that the then Central government provided national status to the Polavaram project, which was located in Andhra Pradesh State, in the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act. But the same government failed to provide such facility to the newly formed Telangana State showing reason that there were interstate disputes regarding Telangana projects. Also see, Telangana to enter agreement with Maharashtra on irrigation projects

Karnataka Farmers protesting over water crisis lathicharged in Bengaluru Police on 03 March 16 lathi charged a large group of farmers in Bengaluru when they tried to move towards Vidhana Soudha to press the government for a solution to water problems in drought-hit districts. The lathi charge has reportedly left many farmers injured. R Anjaneya a farmer leader stated that the state government has been saying they are going to supply water through Yettinahole lift irrigation project. We have learnt from scientists that the government cannot supply water through this project. We have come to Bengaluru to demand a permanent solution. Farmers also argue that dire water crisis could have been avoided had the govt taken care of the villages as much as the industrial houses, residents in Bengaluru which consumes 1,800 MLD of water per day gets water almost 24×7, the supply is augmented by about 400,000 tubewells while people in the hinterland aren’t as fortunate. Experts say that the only solution for fast-growing Indian cities to be self-sufficient in water resources is to treat its waste water.

RIVERS

SANDRP Comment on Union Budget 2016-17 Where are the Rivers? In NDA’s first budget in 2014-15 Ganga Arati and rhetoric on Ganga cleaning were at their peak, this year however, there is no mention of Rivers, not even Ganga. However, Namami Gange Plan has been allocated Rs 2250 Crores in the year 2016-17. The plan itself remains unclear. A plan based on Sewage Treatment Plants alone does not hold promise for Ganga with Rs 2000 Crores budgetary support, or Rs 20,000 Crores, like the money we have spent in the past years, corresponding to declining water quality of the river.

West-Bengal State earns ‘jungle raj’ tag for inaction over Adi Ganga pollution The eastern zone bench of NGT on 03 March 16 observed that ‘jungle raj’ prevails in the State after KMC submitted that it was awaiting World Bank funds to stop the flow of untreated sewage into Adi Ganga. The bench then ordered KMC to submit a detailed plan to stop such flow of sewage on the next date of hearing. The court was hearing a petition filed by environment activist Subhas Datta against degradation of Adi Ganga. On an earlier date, NGT had directed KMC to remove illegal cowsheds, makeshift toilets and solid waste from its banks within three weeks. When the bench came to know that untreated sewage was flowing into Adi Ganga as the treatment plant nearby is defunct, it wanted to know what the KMC proposes to do in this matter. It expressed its displeasure when told that the project has been included in the Ganga Action Plan and funds are awaited from World Bank.

Maharashtra A committee formed in Nashik to revive Godavari During a brainstorming session on the rejuvenation of river Godavari by city-based activists and experts, Deepak Naik chairman of Maharashtra State Economic Development Council and Rekha Somalia, director Naik Environmental Research Institute Ltd, a committee was formed to work towards reviving the river and it was decided that Naik would head the committee. Naik who worked extensively on river issues in 54 cities assured that 78 percent of the river could be rejuvenated in a year. The committee decided to focus on eco-tourism and revival of river Godavari. An action plan will be chalked out for the same.

15,000 people participate in River Walkathon in Mumbai Around 15,000 Mumbaikars braved the heat and humidity on 06 Feb. 2016 to walk for 5km alongside the four rivers of Mumbai, in what could easily be termed as the beginning of one of the biggest citizen movements demanding the rejuvenation of these water bodies. Led by the ‘Waterman of India’ Rajendra Singh, the initiative was started by River March, a community of a few like-minded people who planned this ‘Dandi March’ to highlight the sorry state of rivers such as Dahisar, Poisar and Oshiwara, as well as the Mithi river. In fact, around 7,000 people reportedly walked along Dahisar river, 3,000 people walked along the Oshiwara one, around 2,000 people walked along the Mithi river, while 3,000 people walked along the one at Poisar. Avinash Kubal, the deputy director of Maharashtra Nature Park which was one of the partners for the River March, said that the entire focus at present is on Dahisar river as important data and a survey of the issues of the other three rivers is being awaited.

Madhya Pradesh प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड ने खोला शिप्रा नदी का सच  सिंहस्थसे पहले शिप्रा नदी को पवित्र बताने का सरकार का दावा प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड (पीसीबी) की एक रिपोर्ट में खोखला निकला। नदी में नालों का पानी रोके जाने को लेकर दायर जनहित याचिका के तहत बोर्ड ने हाईकोर्ट में रिपोर्ट प्रस्तुत की। इसमें बोर्ड ने स्वीकार किया कि नदी में कई जगह से गंदा पानी आकर मिल रहा है। मरे हुए जानवरों का खून भी नदी के पानी में रहा है। हाईकोर्ट ने उज्जैन के संभागायुक्त और कलेक्टर से भी सफाई पर रिपोर्ट मांगी थी। दोनों अधिकारियों का कोई जवाब नहीं आया। अब 3 मार्च को फिर कोर्ट सुनवाई करेगी।  याचिकाकर्ता बाकीर अली रंगवाला के मुताबिक शिप्रा में इस समय 10 नालों का पानी आकर मिल रहा है, लेकिन बोर्ड ने केवल पांच का ही उल्लेख किया है। बड़नगर रोड स्थित सदावल गांव में बना ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट का पानी भी नदी में आकर मिल रहा है। पूरे शहर का गंदा पानी यहीं आकर ट्रीट किया जाता है। इसके गंदे पानी को नदी में जाने से नहीं रोका जा रहा।

Rajasthan द्रव्यवती नदी स्वच्छता को टाटा ने 1508 करोड़ रु. बताए पीडीकोर ने 66 करोड़ कम किए द्रव्यवती नदी को स्वच्छ करके उसके आसपास के एरिया को विकसित करने को लेकर टाटा कंसल्टेंसी ने नेगोशिएशन में केवल 15 करोड़ रुपए कम करने की पेशकश की थी। दूसरी ओर इस मामले पर जेडीए ने पीडीकोर से दरों पर राय मांगी तो उन्होंने 66 करोड़ रुपए कम कराने की सिफारिश दी है। संबंधित अफसरों के मुताबिक पीडीकोर ने 1442 करोड़ रुपए प्रोजेक्ट लागत (10 साल की मेंटिनेंस अलग) बताई है। अब इस मामले पर अंतिम निर्णय सरकार को करना है कि वो इन दरों को फाइनल करे या फिर इन्हें और कम कराने के लिए प्रयास करे। क्योंकि प्रोजेक्ट के लिए टाटा प्रोजेक्ट लिमिटेड ने अकेली निविदा भरी है। वहीं प्रोजेक्ट के लिए टाटा की ओर से भरी गई दरों को काफी ज्यादा बताया जा रहा है।

YAMUNA Delhi Art of Living fest takes a toll on farmers, crops damaged Art of Living (AOL) event has put the fate of riverbed farmers at the receiving end. They have been suffering immensely but ignored totally.  Many farmers have been asked to clear their fields as roads had to cut through them. This meant that the standing crops of cauliflower, coriander, and brinjal were destroyed. According to farmers once bulldozers level land, it becomes packed. Packed land means water will not be absorbed as easily as it should and there will be stagnant water all around. One more news report says that 3 day ‘World Culture Festival’  event has made riverbed famers life a misery. Ibram, who resides on the side of an unpaved road that descends from Noida Road into Chilla Khadar bang opposite the Star City Mall in Mayur Vihar Phase I Extension, said his family’s life were turned upside down on February 23, the day a police team arrived with some event organisers to ask them to vacate their land. Another news report highlights that how AOL event has been distressful for famers in National Capital Region. About 200 farmer families are affected by AOL. An estimated 100 acre of land under agriculture wheat, vegetables and flowers has been seized on the western side of the river. Farmers claim the “compensation” does not even cover their sowing costs. A senior DDA official on condition of anonymity reported that DDA granted AOL only 24 hectares (60 acre) of vacant land. Instead, they have spread out on 150-200 acres, including agricultural land on all sides. A farmer even approached us with a High Court stay on eviction when threatened by AOL people. We immediately shot off a letter to AOL office warning them of court contempt. They have rampaged everything. Revealing it all how merciless Art of Living has been in killing Yamuna floodplain & farmers & DDA disclosure is most shocking.

Delhi should remember the Chennai & Srinagar floods before killing floodplains If the images of a flooded Chennai last year or those of Srinagar two years ago were horrifying for the citizens of Delhi, it’s time they had a serious look at their own backyard. The continuous onslaught on the Yamuna floodplains is likely to land the National Capital in a similar disaster. According to environmentalists, the severe damage to the Yamuna floodplains the most recent example being the preparations for the World Culture Festival by AOL Foundation will result in flooding of the low-lying areas of East Delhi quite like Chennai if and when the next spell of heavy shower happens in the city. Another good story on AOL proposal for destruction of Yamuna flood plains to the extent of 2700 acres and consequences thereof.

UP irrigation dept warns AOL against polluting Yamuna banks The Uttar Pradesh Irrigation department on 04 March 16 said that it will cancel permission Art of Living (AOL) foundation if it is found polluting Yamuna flood plains. Ravi Prakash assistant engineer of the UP Irrigation department stated that it has given conditional permission to AOL foundation and if AOL is found violating NGT directive then permission will be considered cancelled. We will keep conducting inspections on site. And if we will found that visitors or organizers are throwing waste or polluting flood plain in any manner then we will cancel permission and take legal action. He further said that we have specifically mentioned in permission letter that they (organiser) will not build roads, do earth-filling, remove soil, cut trees, damage vegetation, flora-fauna and damage flood plain through their activities. We have categorically asked them not to build temporary or permanent structure around 15 hectare parking spot allowed next to Mayur Vihar-I told plaza of DND Flyway. Wish if DDA could learn a thing or two from UP irrigatioin department. It is very sad the AOL has already violated all the prohibitions.

How Art of Living event is killing the Yamuna The World Culture Festival of the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar threatens to leave the ecologically sensitive and fragile Yamuna floodplains with irreparable damage. Environment activists are shocked over the brazen disregard for the health of the dying river, which holds a significant place in the Hindu mythology, from the organisers. The NGT panel has already recommended a fine of Rs 120 crore on them for violation of ecological norms but it has hardly deterred preparations. The three-day international event, which is expected to attract 35 lakh visitors from across the globe, begins from 11 March. Another EXCELLENT story on what AOL function would do to Yamuna.

Quiet flows the Yamuna, besides ‘world’s largest stage An expert committee appointed by the green tribunal has said in its report the floodplains where the Yamuna water gets recharged will get damaged, natural life in this bio-diversity region will either move out or perish, nearby Okhla Bird Sanctuary will be adversely affected. This report shows how the various govt agencies and officials are working for the private function of the AOL clearly using public resources for a private function.

The Yamuna flood plains are ruined in preparation of AOL’s grand jamboree When a ‘holy’ man meets a holy river, the result can only lead to troubled waters. That’s precisely how thi­­ngs are panning out after Sri Sri Ravi Shankar decided to stage a humongous event in Delhi. An amazing sight hove into view when Outlook visited the site. Instead of private contractors, Indian army soldiers dressed in fatigues were busy constructing the pontoon bridges. If a godman can get the army to offer their services, presumably for free, to help him set up access to his temporary mini-city, it is testimony to the clout that Sri Sri wields. One of the most charismatic personalities in gurudom Sri Sri retains his saintly composure and dismisses “all the hue and cry” in the name of environment as “nonsense”. Wish the govt and the army were not hand in glove in this environmental destruction.

Uncertainty hangs over mega event on Yamuna floodplains With just 10 days to go, uncertainty hangs over a giant cultural festival being organised on the floodplains of the Yamuna as experts are divided on whether the event will damage the topography of the area. The foundation is aiming for a “mega celebration of diversity”. But, there’s just one problem. Construction on the floodplains is not allowed, and an environmentalist has moved the NGT to stop the event from taking place. While the Tribunal hears the petition filed by Manoj Misra, the convenor of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, government officials, conservationists and lawyers are divided over the legality of the entire programme.

SAND MINING

SANDRP Blog Yamuna riverbed quarrying around Hathini Kund puts Delhi’s water supply under threat Apart from canal breach and industrial effluents, there is a third bigger and still not known reason ignoring which may cause severest of water crisis in national capital and that is rampant mining of riverbed material around Hathini Kund Barrage (HKB). SANDRP in this blog try to highlight how the uncontrolled mining around HKB is endangering the barrage structure which in turn will surely lead to suspense of Delhi water supply for many months.

Haryana & Uttar Pradesh Riverbed mining in Saharanpur & Yamuna Nagar restricted for 45days The NGT has imposed a complete prohibition on stone crushers and mining of minor minerals in Yamunanagar & Saharanpur districts and other villages situated on the floodplains of river Yamuna for a period of 45 days from 18 Feb. 2015. On Saharanpur side five lease holders have been fined Rs 50cr for carrying out excessive unauthorised mining. The court has also imposed an environmental compensation of Rs 2.5 crore on Saharanpur based-Pradhan Stone Crushers for “illegally” operating stone crushing units without obtaining consent from the state pollution control board. While on Yamuna Nagar side the owners of all 69 stone crushers and three screening plants have submitted affidavits swearing not to operate their crushers and screening plants during ban period. The Tribunal has also constituted a high power committee headed by the Secretary of Environment Ministry & directed the Haryana & UP governments to submit a comprehensive mining plan to the committee. It further said that person found violating the directions would be liable to pay Rs 5 lakhs as environmental compensation.

Kerala Activists oppose Govt circular on ordinary sand mining Greens are crying foul over a recent circular issued by the Department of Environment & Climate Change, making Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) mandatory for mining or extraction of ordinary sand in the state. According to them, the circular is mute over sand mining from areas of less than 5 hectares and may miss the target which it desires to hit. As per the circular issued by the Environment Department dated 09 Feb. 2016, large-scale extraction of ordinary sand under the guise of ordinary earth is being carried out on the river banks and former river courses of the state pointing out that ECC from SEIAA should be made mandatory for such activities. According to environmentalists, in order to meet the challenges the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of sand Act 2001 has to be amended. Attesting to it the 49th SEIAA meeting highlighted that as the river sand mining in the state was being carried out in the purview of the 2001 Act, it had to be amended by incorporating the provisions directed by the Supreme Court.

Tamil Nadu Vellor villagers protest illegal sand mining in Palar River The residents of Kandaneri, a village in Vellore district, have been knocking on the doors of the district administration to stop the unauthorised mining of sand from the Palar River basin. With the district administration reportedly displaying a nonchalant attitude, villagers with the help of Satta Panchayat has filed a PIL in HC Madras. Siva Elango, president, Satta Panchayat, said the villagers of Kandaneri were afraid the Palar basin would vanish in a few months, resulting in a setback to agricultural activities; they also expressed concern that they would be robbed of precious drinking water resource. The local people has opposed the sand mining in Aug. 2014 also, it seems nothing has changed since.

Uttarakhand Ban on quarrying on Ganga riverbed to continue: CM Chief Minister Harish Rawat on 04 March 2015 assured Matra Sadan ashram inmates of continuing the ban on quarrying on the Ganga riverbed from Raiwala in Dehradun district till Bhogpur in Haridwar district. The Chief Minister also announced the formation of a high-powered expert committee that would present a report on quarrying on the Ganga riverbed in the state taking into consideration environmental aspects and river morphology. Representatives of Matra Sadan would be included in the committee that would comprise experts from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, geologists, environmentalists, officials from environment, forest and irrigation departments. Till the committee submits its report and a comprehensive policy is framed, the ban on quarrying would continue. He further said stern action had been taken against the quarrying mafia through the Anti-Mining Cell operating in Dehradun, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar districts. On the other hand quarrying mafia in Nainital attacked forest officials in broad day light  It seems that even forest official are no longer safe in mining affected region of Koshi and Dabka region. Few days after forest officials were beaten up the quarrying mafia with face covered under masks had again attacked the forest officials and torn out their uniforms. They even smashed the glasses of a vehicle hired by forest department. Report has been lodged against one named and several other unnamed persons. The attack was stated to be done in retaliation of forest department action taken against sand mining activity in Dabka river.

Maharashtra Kharghar creek raided for illegal sand mining, accused at large The Panvel Tehsil Circle officer carried a raid at the creek behind Vastu Vihar Housing complex in Kharghar on 04 March 2016 and seized three trucks from the spot, out of which, one was allegedly half-filled with illegally extracted sand. Before the raiding team reached the spot, the drivers and miscreants had escaped leaving behind the three trucks. Hence, the cops were unable to nab the accused involved. After the Kharghar police carried out several raids last year, and arrested many accused for illegal sand minding in the creek, the local sand mafia stopped indulging in the illegal activities at Kharghar creek. Hence, it is suspected that the miscreants came from other districts for sand excavation. The cops have book the unidentifed accused under sections 379 and 34 of the IPC.

Collectorate damaged as sand mining stir turns violent Sindhudurg district collectorate was damaged on 04 March 2015 as an agitation by dumper operators engaged in the thriving sand mining industry in the district turned violent. MLA and son of former Maharashtra CM Narayan Rane, Nitesh Rane, who was present at the venue when the situation deteriorated, defended the violence, saying that the agitators lost patience as the authorities refused to talk to them. According to Nitesh there were around 6,000 dumpers parked outside the collectorate but nobody was interested in talking to them. Sindhudurg SP Dattatray Shinde, however, rubbished Rane’s claims. The ban on sand mining in Maharashtra’s coastal districts of Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Thane was lifted last year, after the state government promised the NGTl that it will ensure the mining will not affect the environment.

Jharkhand Sand mining rampant in Dumka Contractors continue to allow sand mining in different riverbanks of the district defying the ban imposed by the NGT. Though the district administration has banned sand mining in the absence of consent to operate certificate from the tribunal, the contractors in connivance with the agencies concerned continue mining. Through a directive issued to the state government on 05 Feb. 2016, the Kolkata-based headquarter of the eastern zone bench of NGT banned sand mining without procuring the consent to operate certificate by the contractors, who have been awarded riverbanks by the respective district administration. Though authorities of the district mining office claim that sand mining was fully banned following orders from the state headquarter, hundreds of trucks and other heavy vehicles queue up at different riverbanks for the purpose, especially at night.

FLOOD

National Floods killed over 4,200 people in 3 years, Lok Sabha told The government on 04 March 2015 informed Lok Sabha that 4,226 people died and property worth over Rs 44,112 crore was damaged due to floods and soil erosion by rivers during 2013-15. Overall, it affected 51.86 million people in one or the other way during the period. The floods killed 1.98 lakh cattle and affected around 13.88 million hectares of land during the period. The maximum damage worth over Rs 27,801 crore was reported in 2015 with West Bengal alone suffering loss of property, including crops, houses and public utilities, worth over Rs 25,353 crore. 517 works were approved during the period at an estimated cost of Rs 12,360.24 crore as Central assistance to affected states. Of these, 293 works were completed. The government released funds worth Rs 4,610.09 crore for the works over the three years.

Kerala ‘Operation Anantha’ to be replicated nationallyOperation Anantha’ a flagship flood-mitigation drive is being implemented as a joint initiative of various departments and agencies including district administration, Suchitwa Mission & PWD. The projects aims at equipping the State Capital face floods and free it of illegal encroachments. Under the first phase of the mission, 30 km of canals and storm water drains in the city had been desilted and widened up to 3.5 metres. According to Jiji Thomson, a retired govt. officials the Centre has shown interest in project and is set to replicate it in other parts of the country.  Interesting, but may be our Kerala friends can throw light on this.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

National Bengaluru has lost 79% of its water bodies: Study Once bountiful, Bengaluru’s lakes have shrunk drastically. Statistics back this. Over the years, the city has lost 79% of its water bodies. Chhattisgarh capital Raipur fares the worst in the country (80%) and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh occupies the third spot (75%), a study by the CSE has revealed. Scientists blame rapid urbanization and lake encroachment for the loss. Researchers from CSE shared the findings at a two-day workshop for journalists the state of lakes and water bodies of southern India: threats, challenges, and opportunities. Indeed, Urban India is destroying water bodies at an alarming rate, what ART OF LIVING is doing to Yamuna is the latest brazen attempt.

WATER        

Centre  1/4th of packaged milk, water samples found ‘unsafe’ in survey The packaged water and milk that you buy may not be as safe as claimed. Around 28% samples of packaged drinking water and about 23% milk samples tested during 2014-15 were found violating the food safety standards and norms, show government data. Replying to another question on adulterated milk, health minister JP Nadda told Rajya Sabha out of 6,649 samples analysed in 2014-15, 1559 were found to be not conforming to the prescribed standards. He further stated that some instances of sale of mineral water or packaged drinking water not conforming to the standards prescribed under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSAI), 2006 and regulations there under and unlicensed packaged water, have come to the notice of FSSAI.

Haryana Water crisis in Gurgaon continues Residents of the Millenium City are still grappling with the water shortage that arose due to the Jat agitation over reservation more than a week ago. Almost 40% of the city has been hit. Some of the major affected areas are the upscale DLF Phase I-IV, Old Gurgaon, Sector 1, 2, 3, 5, 21, 22 and 23. Earlier, the water supply was affected after the agitators breached the Western Yamuna Canal at Sonipat. Although the canal has been repaired, the Irrigation Department has now taken up cleaning of the Gurgaon Water Canal (GWC) in Jhajjar district, which has affected water supply again.  Also see, Warnings of FIR does not stop residents from wasting water

Madhya Pradesh रायसेन में जलसंकट : फरवरी में मई जैसे हालात एक नलकूप बुझा रहा 800 लोगों की प्यास  रायसेन के वार्ड क्रमांक 13 का ताजपुर महल। बस्ती में करीब 800 की आबादी। फरवरी में मई जैसे हालात। ट्यूबवेल, कुओं में पानी खत्म। नगर पालिका ने टैंकरों से पानी की सप्लाई करना शुरू किया, लेकिन खर्चा ज्यादा बढ़ गया। मजबूरन खेत में लगे एक निजी नलकूप का अधिग्रहण करना पड़ा। अब आधा किमी पाइप लाइन डालकर बस्ती तक पानी पहुंचाया जा रहा है। वह भी सिर्फ दो घंटे। दोपहर 12 बजे से दो बजे तक। तेज धूप में घंटों इंतजार के बाद लोगों को एक डिब्बा पानी नसीब हो पा रहा है।

Rajasthan अब पानी के अवैध कनेक्शन पर एक हजार जुर्माना, 35% तक लगेगा सीवरेज सरचार्ज प्रदेशके छह शहरों में पानी की दरें बढ़ाने के साथ सरकार ने अवैध कनेक्शनों और पानी के उपयोग के अनुसार सीवरेज एवं आधारभूत विकास के लिए सरचार्ज भी लगाया है। सातों संभाग मुख्यालयों में पानी के अवैध कनेक्शन पर एक हजार रुपए जुर्माना तथा पानी के उपयोग का शुल्क लेना तय किया गया है। इसी तरह सीवरेज का सरचार्ज 35 फीसदी तक वसूले जाने का निर्णय किया गया है। राज्य विधानसभा में यह खुलासा विधायक मोहनलाल गुप्ता के अतारांकित सवाल के जवाब में हुआ। जलदाय विभाग की तरफ से दिए जवाब के अनुसार भरतपुर को छोड़कर अन्य संभाग मुख्यालयों में सरचार्ज लागू होगा। गौरतलब है कि पिछले साल विभाग ने पानी की दरें 33 फीसदी तक बढ़ा दी थी। इसके साथ ही नए कनेक्शन सहित अन्य सभी प्रकार के पानी कनेक्शन शुल्क भी बढ़ा दिए थे।

GROUND WATER

Centre Budget allocation to sustainable groundwater management increased by 85% The Water Ministry said Allocation for Ground Water Scheme has been enhanced by 85% and another major program for sustainable Ground Water Resources for Rs 6,000crore has been approved. Referring to the importance of the palaeo channels which serve as a good repository of ground water as well as suitable areas for artificial recharge and ground water storage, Water Minister Uma Bharti said that a national Level Expert Committee is being constituted involving the eminent researchers to review the available information on Palaeochannel / River Saraswati under the Chairmanship of Prof Waldia, a Padma Bhushan awardee.

WATER OPTIONS

Delhi Post-crisis, DJB waters down norms Delhi Jal Board (DJB) had started imposing a massive penalty on those who did not have rainwater harvesting (RWH) as on 01 Sep 2015. Under these rules, all existing buildings that are constructed on a plot of 500sq m or more or new buildings that have come up in planned areas on plots of 100sq m or more are required to carry out rooftop RWH. The penalty for not having it is 50% of volumetric charges per bill. On 02 March 16 DJB cleared a proposal to extend the date of installation of the RWH structures to June 30, 2016. Applicants seeking permission for installation of recharge bores for the purpose of RWH are being denied permission by the district advisory committees due to exploitation of groundwater.

DROUGHT    

Karnataka Farm sector’s irony: water guzzler cane in the time of drought Cane is being cultivated in Karnataka at a time when the state government has said that there isn’t enough water in the state’s rivers to provide drinking water for the 27 drought-hit districts. According to water right group SANDRP a sugarcane crop is a water guzzler. Over 2,000 litres of water is needed to produce a kilogram of sugar. If the water consumption of sugar mills and water losses from the source to the farm is included, then it is even higher. Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of SANDRP said that though the yield is higher, in terms of water use, sugarcane is an inefficient crop in Maharashtra. But with government promoting sugarcane, all of the state’s 70% irrigated water is right now used by two or three crops such as sugarcane. And if you look at the rainfall pattern, or the drought situation, or water scarcity, Karnataka is not much different from Maharashtra. The government has to regulate sugarcane for the long-term benefits of farmers.

Maharashtra CM held emergency cabinet meeting in drought hit Latur Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on 04 Feb.16 has convened an emergency meeting of his cabinet ministers at Latur to review and initiate short- and long-term measures to tackle the severe drought situation in Maharashtra. The drought meeting assumes great significance as it comes ahead of the crucial Budget Session commencing from 9 March16.  The onset of summer has got the government worried, as demand for fodder camps coupled with sinking water tables in state’s biggest dams are playing havoc with the drinking water supply in some districts of Marathwada, Vidarbha and parts of North and Western Maharashtra. Also see, 6 dams in Marathwada at dead storage level

Govt resorts to drastic water cuts for industries, breweries The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) has resorted to water cuts after the water level in dams dropped to less than 50% to 6.5% of their installed capacity.  The water resources ministry is reported to have written to the divisional commissioners in Konkan and Aurangabad to revise water allocation in industrial districts of Thane-Belapur, Raigad-Taloja, and Aurangabad. Subsequently there was official 60-hour-long water cut from 24 Feb. 6 pm to 27 Feb. 6am by MIDC which according to Municipal bodies may be extended to 90 hours in mid March. Barely a fortnight after Maharashtra boasted of receiving Rs.8 trillion in investment commitments at the Make in India summit, manufacturing units located in three major industrial regions in the state have started bearing the brunt of water shortages. 85% of 15000 drought affected villages are in Marathwada, North Maharashtra, & Khandesh regions. Last tap water supply received by Latur residents was on 12 January 2016.

Water audit to prevent wastage on the cards The state government will conduct a water audit to formulate a comprehensive policy to plug misuse of water by the private sector in districts reeling under a drinking water crisis. Water availability in dams/rivers and crop pattern in drought-prone districts across Maharashtra will be mapped to make course corrections in water supply. The government will also bring in stringent rules to make drip irrigation mandatory for all water intensive crops, including sugarcane. Acknowledging that drinking water has to be given highest priority, a restructuring of lifting of water from dams by the sugar mills using barrages specially in critical districts like Latur, Osmanabad, Beed, Solapur is being done. While the government acknowledges that they will not enforce any ban on any crop, it cannot allow exploitation of water for cultivation of sugarcane without water budget. All district collectors have been asked to work out a plan on the water audit along with restricting its use for domestic, agriculture and industry.

12,000 wells and ponds to be used only for drinking water purposes in Solapur In Solapur, district collector Tukaram Mundhe has evolved a new model to beat the drought. To begin with, he has declared 12,000 water structures including rig wells, tube wells and ponds for solely drinking water purpose for the public. It is almost double compared to 6,400 acquired last year. The decision comes with a rider that none of these water structures would be allowed for commercial activities or even agriculture beyond 1 km. In every village, the gram panchayat and local bodies are being roped in to ensure strict implementation. In Solapur, almost 700 villages out of 1,144 face water scarcity. At present, there are not more than 10 tankers in the district.

3,228 farmer committed suicides in 2015, a highest in 14 yrs This information was given on 05 March 2016 by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. He further told that maximum suicide cases were reported from Aurangabad at 1,130, followed by Amravati (1,179), Nashik (4,59l), Nagpur (362), Pune (96) and Konkan (2). The centre has sanctioned Rs 3,049.36 crore relief funds for tackling drought in the state for this year. One more sad news reports that  due to weak financial conditions have forced 20-25 women of a drought hit area in Beed have decided not to marry this year. Fearing that their parents might commit suicide over their inability to get their daughters married off due to mounting debts these girls want the government to help such families affected by severe droughts. Notably Latur, Osmanabad and Beed are the worst drought-affected districts in Marathwada region of Maharashtra, with as many as 89 farmers reported to have committed suicide in January 2016 itself. 9 of India’s 29 states had officially declared a drought last year, and 302 of the 640 districts are living in drought-like conditions. Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh are the states that have officially declared drought. Together, they have asked the Centre for an aid of Rs 20,000 crore.

सूखाग्रस्त इलाकों में रेलगाड़ी से पानी पहुंचाने पर सरकार करे विचार : मुंबई हाईकोर्ट  बाम्बे हाईकोर्ट सुनवाई के दौरान पाया कि लातूर उस्मानाबाद में पानी का कोई स्त्रोत नहीं है। इलाके में पानी की भारी किल्लत है। इस पर न्यायमूर्ति नरेश पाटील न्यायमूर्ति एए सैय्यद की खंडपीठ ने कहा कि सरकार रेलगाड़ी से इन इलाकों में पानी पहुंचाने की संभावना पर विचार करे। पानी की आपूर्ति हर जगह प्रभावी तरीके से हो सके इसके लिए सरकार सभी महानगरपालिकाओं के आयुक्तों नगरपरिषद के मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकारियों को निर्देश जारी करें। जिन इलाकों में जल संकट है ऐसी जगहों पर सरकार लोगों से सभाएं,पार्टी बड़े आयोजन ना करने की अपील करे। सरकार यह आश्वस्त करे किसी भी जगह दूषित पानी पहुंचे। कार्पोरेट सोशल रिसपांस्बिलिटी की तहत मिलनेवाली निधि विशेष तौर पर किसानों के लिए खर्च की जाए। खंडपीठ ने कहा कि दो पहिया वाहनों तक का बीमा होता है इस लिहाज से सरकार किसानों के बीमा के विषय में भी विचार करे। फसलों के बीमा को अनिवार्य किया जाए।

AGRICULTURE

Telangana Organic farmer turn barren land into a green farm At a time when farmer suicides continue unabated in Telangana State, a 62-year-old farmer, Gudivada Nagaratnam Naidu, defies the second consecutive drought season, setting national records in paddy and groundnut yields, and showing the way to prosperity with innovative methods and intelligent farming. Apart from the five acres set aside for paddy, Naidu grows papaya on three acres – stacking up to 45 tonnes of this fruit seasonally besides flowers of 20 regular and exotic varieties which are transported to Bengaluru every day, and a range of vegetables. Apart from providing salaries to 12 employees in a massively debt-trapped population, every month Naidu takes home close to 1lakh rupees along with the coffee, pepper and cardamom he grows for personal use. Naidu has received several awards for his achievement and is a much sought after speaker at agricultural universities.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Centre LED-style drive for ‘efficient fans’ soon Buoyed by the success of the LED bulb scheme, the power ministry is considering a plan to help households replace wasteful old fans with high efficiency machines at nearly half the market price to keep consumption in check. A tender for 1 lakh fans that EESL floated for a pilot scheme in Andhra Pradesh has fetched a price of Rs 950 for five-star rated machines of 50 watts from two reputed manufacturers. These fans cost Rs 1,700-1,800 each in the open market against Rs 800-900 for non-star rated 80-watt fans with same performance. The fans are expected to save at least 150 units of consumption a year. At an average tariff of Rs 5 per unit, one fan will lead to savings of at least Rs 750 each year, compensating the monthly instalment to be paid by the consumer.

Kerala In a first, tribal village taps solar power With the installation of micro-grid solar power station, first of its kind in the State, at Moongilpallam village, a remote village on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border on Kodaikanal hill, decades-old dream of tribals have been fulfilled. Commissioned at a cost of Rs.3.78 lakh by Selco India with financial support from Canara Bank, the solar station has the capacity to supply power for the next five years. Two LED lamps and a mobile charger facility have been provided to each house. Initially, 23 houses have been provided the facilities and five more houses would get them in a few days. Even as the station has the capacity to provide power supply for eight hours, interrupted supply was restricted to four hours. According to technical team head only individual solar lights were offered to every household in other parts of villages in the State so far. The technical team completed the entire process in two months, but commissioning became a daunting task owing to lack of road connectivity.

Delhi NDMC plans Water ATMs, solar plants The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on 02 March 16 decided to go ahead with three major projects installation of water ATMs, decentralised sewage treatment plants and rooftop solar power plants on NDMC buildings. All three projects were approved at a council meeting held under the presiding officer, Delhi chief minister and New Delhi MLA Arvind Kejriwal NDMC chairman Naresh Kumar said that water ATMs will be at available at 73 sites are likely to start functioning in three months and will operate for seven years. The NDMC approved decentralised sewage treatment plants at 10 locations with different capacities of treating sewerage water. It was decided that solar roof top panels connected to the grid will be constructed at various locations. The NDMC has already signed an MoU with Solar Energy Corporation of India for the generation of solar energy in NDMC areas. As many as 23 power sub-stations and 13 municipal buildings have been found suitable, with a total solar panel installation capacity of generating 1.495MW power.

SOUTH ASIA

The Indus Inland Waterways System – the next big thing for Asia There are few river systems in the world as long and as reliable as the Indus. The river and its tributaries connect most major cities of Pakistan with each other and the Arabian Sea, but also Kabul in Afghanistan and the towns such as Gurdaspur and Ludhiana in India. If a carefully engineered Indus Inland Waterways System is developed, connecting several cities in the three countries with the Arabian Sea, it could bring a huge economic boon in the entire region inhabited by 500 million people, including western China and Central Asia. The economics and advantages of inland waterways are well documented, including in trade, commerce and engineering. While this sounds attractive (and the author could have mentioned SRI to save water) but does not seem likely.

Bangladesh Govt to invest $1.0b in Bhutan hydropower Bangladesh is weighing a deal with Bhutan to invest around US$1.0 billion in hydropower to re-import the electricity. It’s part of a regional power trade. The International Finance Corporation, an enterprise of the World Bank Group, has already assured the government of financing regional power trade involving Bangladesh, India, Nepal & Bhutan. Bangladesh has already completed preliminary talks with Bhutan as well as neighbouring India to facilitate import of hydroelectricity crossing over Indian territories. India has invested in hydropower project in Bhutan before importing electricity. A joint working group comprising officials of Bangladesh, India and Bhutan earlier had decided to prepare a framework for hydroelectric joint ventures in Bhutan. Currently Bangladesh imports around 500mw of electricity from India. Import of another amount of 100mw electricity from India’s Tripura state may start in March. This will be a MAJOR development if it happens, but there is a big question if it will.

The high cost of low water flow in Bangladesh According to the Joint River Commission established between India and Bangladesh, the water flow of the trans-boundary Teesta River on 22 March 2015 was 232 cubic feet per second (cusecs). This is almost one-twentieth of the flow in 1980, 4,494 cusecs. Another major trans-boundary river, the Padma (called the Ganga in India) has also experienced a decline in flow, though more recently. Bangladesh Water Development Board states that the average minimum flow of the Padma River has been 22,300 cusecs over the last 12 years. But in May 2011 there was a drastic drop, down to 3,100 cusec. While data does not exist for all the trans-boundary rivers, overall anecdotal evidence indicates that such declines in water flow are experienced across almost all of them. A plea for a broad based India Bangladesh water connectivity agreement for all the 54 trans-boundary rivers.

Nepal Groundwater depletion behind April 2015 earthquake Indian scientists claim that extensive groundwater extraction in the Indo-Gangetic Plain over the last five decades has significantly contributed to the killer April 25, 2015, Nepal temblor and “probably all earthquakes” in the region beneath the Himalayan arc. Researchers at NIT Rourkela; CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad; & National Centre for Seismology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, have gathered evidence of the far-reaching consequences of human actions like how groundwater depletion can “advance the clock” of temblors occurring in the Main Himalayan Thrust, under the Himalayan arc where earthquakes originate. Bhaskar Kundu of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences stated that plate tectonics is the prime driving force behind earthquakes but in the past decade there is a new trend of research. The focus is also on surface and sub-surface activities such as underground mining, fluid injection and reservoir construction due to hydropower projects as possible contributing factors to seismic activity. This angle to Nepal Earthquake is staggering and scary.

Political instability & weak laws threats for wetlands Wetlands of Nepal constitute an important ecosystem that harbors a large number of endemic wildlife species, many of which are on the brink of extinction. Among 27 recognized global freshwater wetlands types, 20 are found in Nepal. But at present only 9 wetlands are included in the Ramsar sites. The most important threats for wetlands are hunting and associated disturbances, expansion of human settlement, encroachment/landfill, drainage for agriculture &challenge of globalization of economy with respect to the sustainable use of the resources. Political instability and weak laws are also the hindrance for management of wetlands.

REST OF ASIA

Vietnam Hydro dams cause VND5,194,153m damages to Mekong Delta In a conference on the impact of mainstream hydropower projects on the Mekong River held by Can Tho University’s Research Institute, Nguyen Ngoc Tran former Deputy Chairman of National Committee of Science & Technology reports that mainstream hydropower projects on the Mekong River has caused a loss of VND5,200 billion (USVND5,194,153 million) in seafood and agriculture output to the Mekong Delta. He further said that the construction of eleven mainstream hydropower dams has caused landslides, ecological imbalance as well adversely impacting local farmers and fishermen in the lower Mekong River region & also prevented silt from forming the process of building up Mekong Delta. Experts recommended that Viet Nam needed a stronger voice in forums held by the international Mekong River Commission in order to adjust the planning of mainstream hydropower, ensuring the interests of countries in the region are secured.

Iraq US releases Iraq dam collapse evacuation advice The US embassy in Iraq has released evacuation recommendations it said could help save up to 1.5 million lives at risk from a catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam. Concern has grown in recent months over a possible collapse of Iraq’s largest dam, which would unleash a wave that would devastate second city Mosul and flood much of the capital Baghdad. The dam in northern Iraq was built on an unstable foundation that continuously erodes, and a lapse in required maintenance after the ISIS terrorist group briefly seized it in 2014 weakened the already flawed structure. Many areas most affected by the flood wave are either controlled by ISIS or contested, making a state-directed evacuation unlikely. A study also finds that the disaster could shut down the entire Iraqi electricity grid, durably damage much of the country’s best farmland and leave the capital flooded for weeks. Another DIRE WARNING about IMMINENT FAILURE of Mosul dam in Iraq that could kill upto a million people.

Thailand Reservoir crisis forcing extreme dam measures Water levels at 10 reservoirs nationwide in Thailand is touching the bottoms. Farmers are warned not irrigate crops with dam water. The Govt. has planned additional measures to prepare for emergencies such as pumping “dead water” from dam bottoms, diverting water from other sources and adjusting the water-irrigation plans to ensure enough water for people’s use and consumption. Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department was asking for scholarships for pilot students to solve its pilot shortage. Formulating a plan to boost pilot salaries and job security would be completed in 4-5 months.

REST OF THE WORLD 

US Berta Cáceres, Honduran activist, killed for opposing mega dams in Central America In the early morning hours of March 3 Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home town in Honduras. A member of the Lenca indigenous group and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras, Cáceres led a successful campaign against one of Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, the Agua Zarca cascade of four giant dams in the Gualcarque River basin. Before she was killed, Cáceres had long been subject to repeated threats and harassment. And she wasn’t alone. Tomás García, the co-founder of the council, was shot and killed during a peaceful protest against the dam in 2013. After winning a prestigious international prize for her environmental activism last year, she said indigenous leaders like her were frequent targets. Ironically the high-profile killing of one of the country’s most well-known activists drew swift condemnation from government officials whom she blamed for failing to protect activists. Also see, Who killed Berta Cáceres Blog by Peter Bosshard Interim Executive Director, International Rivers We don’t know who fired the bullet that killed Berta Cáceres. But we need to call out the actors who share a moral responsibility for the murder of our friend and partner: the Honduran government, the dam builder, the funders and corporations which underwrite the Agua Zarca Project with their loans and equipment contracts. By pulling out of the project, they can honor Berta Cáceres’ ultimate sacrifice and show the powers behind her murder that for once, an environmental killing in Honduras is not paying off.

Dam built upstream causing extinction of Orcas in deep sea Orcas are big animals with big appetites, and the influence of salmon loss on the Orcas could be greater than that of pollution, noise, boat disturbance, and even a potential oil spill, according to a 2015 study by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation (RCF). The RCF calculated that a 10 or 20% drop in the number of salmon making it to the ocean would increase the probability of the whales’ extinction by 4& 30% respectively. The salmon in question spawn and hatch in the Snake and Columbia Rivers and then make their way to the ocean, where they provide nourishment for hungry orcas. Environmental groups think that, by protecting these fish, they can help boost the whales’ numbers as well. As with orcas, salmon numbers have dropped over the past century, most dramatically after the completion of the four Lower Snake River dams during the 1960s and ’70s. The hydroelectric project cut the river’s spring/summer Chinook salmon return rates by a quarter. Interesting news report on how dams built upstream on Snake & Columbia Rivers are causing extinction of Orcas species the killer whale in deep sea.

Kissimmee River Restoration Project: Reconnecting a river to its floodplain The Kissimmee River once meandered for 103 miles through central Florida. Its floodplain, reaching up to two miles wide, was inundated for long periods by heavy seasonal rains. Wetland plants, wading birds and fish thrived there.The Kissimmee River Restoration project was authorized by Congress in 1992 and is sponsored by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers & South Florida Water Management District, the non-federal sponsor. When restoration is completed in 2019, more than 40 square miles of river-floodplain ecosystem will be restored, including almost 20,000 acres of wetlands and 44 miles of historic river channel. Even as we are busy concretising Floodplains in the name of development, and even culture lately, there are efforts to reconnect the floodplains wit rivers, REMOVE channels and back fills and make the ecological connections of the floodplains and meanders of the river alive again.

How the Flint River got so toxic The Flint water crisis did not begin on April 25th, 2014, when the city switched its water supply from Detroit’s system, tapping Lake Huron to its own on the Flint River. That tragic mistake was the culmination of a much longer ongoing disaster, one caused by greed, politics, incompetence, and selective amnesia. The known consequences include lead poisoning, skin rashes, and carcinogens in the water. The total health consequences may not be known for years. Much has and will be written about that decision and its aftermath. Less has been written about how the Flint River became so polluted in the first place. Flint’s water crisis begins with the pollution of the Flint River, which has been going on for well over a century.

Global Access to clean water is getting better only in India & China Around the world, 663 million people (9% of world population) don’t have access to clean drinking water. The numbers are however improving as  there has been a steady drop in the number of people without access to water over the last 25 years, from about 1 in 3 to 1in 25.  But data break up shows that Eastern Asia’s progress is mostly China’s progress and the other countries in the region have remained stagnant as 96% of the 723 million Eastern Asians who have gained access to improved water live in China. The situation is similar in Southern Asia, where progress in India skews the numbers. In fact, India and China make up about half of the world’s progress in water access whereas in sub-Saharan Africa access to tap water dropped ten points. Countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia & Democratic Republic of the Congo account for almost half of people without access to clean water. Looking on the bright side, 2.6 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water in the last 25 years. 

5 of the best water-smart cities in the developing world With the majority of the world’s population now living in cities, solving water problems specific to metropolitan areas is crucial. Whether there’s too much water or not enough, whether it’s too polluted or too salty, these issues can be solved with thought, ingenuity, money and organisation. Here are some innovative ways cities are managing, protecting and conserving water supplies. Interesting collection of stories about how cities around the world are working to make their water secure, including story of how Bangalore is protecting its lakes thanks to ESG efforts. The most striking one seems to be Cape Town, the story says that in last 15 years, the city population has grown by 30% and yet water consumption has gone down by 30%. Not clear how equitable the effort is.

The Rivers we yearn for, love & leave This March 14 we celebrate the International Day of Action for Rivers! There are so many things we can do, so many we should do. As many have said, rivers are mothers, they are fountains of life, and therefore we must care for them, heal them, love them. Nevertheless, many of us are not aware of how our activities, tastes and desires affect these sources, not only of water but also of food, work, vitality and peace. Others know but do not act, instead remaining passive, conformist, or pessimistic. To ensure that rivers remain for posterity, we must reflect and choose how we want our rivers to be in the future. It’s time to act!

ENVIRONMENT

SANDRP Comment on Union Budget 2016-17 Environment Ministry remains neglected While the Environment Minister was one of the first Ministers to official hail Union Budget as “Visionary”, it is a bit sad to see that the Environment Ministry does not feature in the list of Important Ministries annexed to Finance Minister’s Speech, nor does a single Scheme from MoEF and CC feature in the list of Important schemes.

Centre Govt panel suggests long-term plans to expedite green nod A government panel, set up to suggest ways to improve the ease of doing business, has recommended that ministries including coal, mines, steel, power, petro-chemicals and environment work out a 20-year “perspective geographical plan”, indicating preferred locations for future projects, so that environmental clearances are granted at the earliest without upsetting ecological balance. The panel has also suggested the setting up of standing expert committees on regulatory affairs at the central as well as state levels to undertake independent regulatory impact assessment and engage with sectoral regulators. The idea is to reduce the regulatory burden of businesses and ensure actual costs of regulation don’t outweigh the intended benefits. However, the role of such a committee would be restricted to only making recommendations, and it won’t act as a super regulator. Also see, Environment Ministry releases new categorisation of industries

New scheme to turn urban waste into farm manure Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on 29 Feb. announced a novel scheme to turn urban waste into farm compost manure in the country. Jaitley said in his budget speech that a policy for conversion of city waste into compost has been approved by the government under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The NDA government also allocated 412 crore to two flagship schemes to promote organic farming and improve yield across the country. The first scheme is the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, which aims to bring five lakh acres under organic farming in three years. The second scheme announced by the government is the Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region. The minister also said that 2,000 model retail outlets of fertiliser firms will be provided with soil and seed testing facilities during the next three years and these firms would comarket city compost, which will increase the efficacy of the fertilisers.

Delhi RWAs step forward for eco-friendly colonies A host of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) in the Capital are coming out to help each other in making their localities eco-friendly. The collective project being undertaken has three focus areas solar power, rainwater harvesting and waste management. In a bid to conserve the old water harvesting units in the city, United RWAs Joint Action Front has chalked out a pilot project to revive 50 of them. While restoration of one such harvesting unit has been completed in Defence Colony, some other areas where work is yet to be completed include Vasant Kunj, Gargi College, Chittaranjan Park and so on. Four RWAs from areas like Shahdara, Nizamuddin West, Saket and Jor Bagh have come forward to tap solar power to run their offices. The move is taken to create awareness among residents and encourage them to go green. Some other RWAs in Greater Kailash and Alaknanda are also seeking permission from municipal corporations to utilise parks in their locality for digging compost pits.

You may like to explore DRP News Bulletin 29 Feb. 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 22 Feb. 2016

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: