DRP News Bulletin  11 April 2016 (Harsh Summer: In Search of Green Pastures)

With ponds and lakes drying up, cattle in Telangana are forced to travel long distances for fodder and water. Here, buffaloes are moving towards a water source near Medipalli in Adilabad district on 09 April.

DROUGHT    

SANDRP Blog Amidst a dismal Maharashtra drought, Seeds of change in Solapur Even in bleak drought hit scenario in Maharashtra, there is at least one place where some very positive developments are happening. This is what Parineeta Dandekar is narrating here in a detailed blog based on field visits.

Centre Water crisis: Centre, states face criticism in courts The matter of country wide drought & Maharashtra water crisis have reached 2 courts of law on 05 April where judges upbraided authorities at the centre & in states for what they said was their failure to take adequate measures to remedy the drought situation, and for the “criminal wastage” of scarce water for coming cricket matches. Experts said the situation this time around is worse than the last countrywide drought in 2009. According to Himanshu Thakkar SANDRP, the crisis that is manifest in Maharashtra is symbolic of what is wrong with India’s water priorities. He added that the next two months will be the most difficult phase of the water crisis. In July last year, the situation was clear as six states faced deficit rains. Both the centre and state government have failed to reduce non-essential water use and prioritize drinking water for humans & livestock. Also see, SC raps Centre over plight of drought-hit people

Maharashtra Drought situation turns grim The water crisis is turning grim in Maharashtra, which has seen successive monsoon failures. The State has only 23 per cent water left in its 2,500-plus reservoirs. In Latur in the Marathwada region, the district collector has imposed prohibitory orders in areas where water is supplied by tankers. About 814 dams and reservoirs in the region only have 5% water left.

Now, prohibitory orders imposed near water points in Parbhani Authorities in Parbhani town in the parched Marathwada region of the state, which is experiencing an unprecedented water scarcity this summer on 05 April have imposed prohibitory orders near water supply spots in the town. The orders came into force from April 4 and will be on till May 3, the official said. The development comes a day after police in Latur town in Marathwada decided to deploy police at water supply spots in that town if the situation demands.

Latur reels under severe water crisis Located in drought-struck Marathwada, Latur city is experiencing its most intense water crisis. Many say this is the region’s worst calamity after the 1993 Latur earthquake. Nearly 5 lakh population has lived with water shortages for 15 years. In 2015, it received tap water only every two or three weeks. Yet for the first time, all its taps shut down on February 22nd when the Dhanegaon dam dried up completely. Against the norm of 80 million litres per day the city is now managing with just 20 million litres per day. The gap in supply has pushed people increasingly into the hands of Latur’s lucrative water market. Most residents end up paying between Rs 1000-2000 per month to buy water.

Nashik’s sacred Ramkund dries up after 139 years Ramkund, the sacred bathing ghat on Godavari and the epicentre of the Kumbh Mela in Mahrashtra, has dried up after 139 years. Thousands of pilgrims will have to skip taking a holy dip in the ghat on Gudi Padwa on Friday unless the municipal authorities somehow manage to replenish the waters. According to Nashik Gazette in 1877 the entire stretch of the Godavari river, including Ramkund, had gone dry.

60% cut of Barvi dam water on cards, civic bodies, industry to be hit hard 4 municipal corporations including the TTC area in Navi Mumbai with around 3000 industrial units and Taloja industrial estate having 980 units that get drinking water supplies from MIDC’s Barvi dam will take a further hit with the irrigation department hinting at increasing the current 40% to 60% cut. The water is lifted from Ulhas river that sources supplies from Barvi and Andhra dam of Tata Power. Andhra dam is said to have reduced the release of water following which the planned cut might increase to continue water supply at a limited quantum till 15 July dam.

Pune residents express doubts over 24×7 water supply plan for ‘smart city’ City residents have written to the Pune municipal commissioner questioning him about the 24×7 water supply as part of the ‘Smart Pune’ programme. They have questioned on the unequal water distribution which range from 350 litre per day per person in old city area of Gaothan to around 60 litre per day per person in fringe areas, especially in Viman Nagar and Baner. The letter also questioned the water conservation policy and the groundwater management and maintainance policy, besides dependency on water from other reservoirs. The residents suggest that 24×7 water supply was only possible if a holistic approach was considered.

IPL-Row Water use during IPL criminal: HC The High Court Bombay on 05 April lambasted the Board of Control for Cricket in India for wasting water to prepare pitches for the forthcoming IPL cricket tournament, at a time when several parts of the state, including Thane, are facing an acute shortage. “How can you waste water like this? People are more important than your IPL,” said a bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M S Karnik. The judges said if the situation is alarming, it would wiser for the matches to be shifted outside the state. Also see, Bombay HC refuses to stay IPL opener on April 9

 Prioritise water distribution according to state water policy: Bombay HC While hearing a matter on holding the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches in the state, the Bombay High Court on 05 April said the usage of water should be prioritised in accordance to the state’s water policy. The policy gives first priority to providing drinking water to people. According to PIL filed by NGO Loksatta Movement & others as much as 60 lakh litres of water was proposed to be used for maintaining cricket pitches at the 3 venues nominated for IPL 2016.  It pointed out that this violated the National Water Policy and also the State Water Policy. Maharashtra is to host around 20 matches of these, Mumbai will host 8 matches even though Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai are facing serious water cuts. The PIL pleaded court to ask IPL Commissioner to pay tax of Rs1000 per litre for meeting expenses of supplying water to the drought-affected district. Meanwhile the IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla on confirmed that the cricket matches scheduled to be played in the different cities of Maharashtra will be played as scheduled.

Maha. Govt Efforts  Urban water policy soon to tackle crisis in cities The state govt has decided to evolve comprehensive urban centric policies to tackle the growing challenges of water crisis in cities across Maharashtra. The ministries of urban development, water resources, industries and finance will come together for the integrated urban water plan. The urban household, which consumes more water on the domestic front compared to rural houses, is also being looked into the new policy. The govt plans to extend the urban water solution programmes across 21 to 25 cities and towns in Maharashtra. Also see, Water management lessons must be part of school syllabus Good suggestion & hope Maha’s reported water conservation policy comes out soon.  Still the minister feels that building dams & implementation of river inter-linking projects are required for which is wrong.

Maha. Citizens initiative Pune man reuses water, saves 150 litres a day A Raju Baliram Palmate worker at the water supply department of the Pune Municipal Corporatio has found a unique solution to counter water crisis plaguing the city–after washing clothes, use the same water for other purposes such as mopping the floor, flushing toilets and other purposes. This way, he manages to save about 150 litres of water every day, by reusing the water. According to one more news Amogh Gosavi, a resident of Dahanukar Colony, Kothrud, has been taking small steps towards saving water at home. While taking a bath, he stands in a bucket so that the water, which would otherwise go into gutters, can be reused to wash vehicles. He also keeps a bucket under the AC duct to collect the dripping water, which is filled to the brim in two to three days. Besides, he is trying to encourage these water-saving methods by sharing them on social media as well. Similarly, Sunil Mane, a resident of Aundh saves about 50% water in gardening which is otherwise is wasted in the purification process in a water purifier to water his plants. He uses it for drip irrigation—a method of watering plants that uses a network of valves and pipes allowing water to drip slowly directly onto the soil or roots. He has connected a pipe with nozzles for each pot to the outlet of the purifier which goes through all the pots in his garden and waters them. Also see, 5 Latur residents raise funds to end water woes Good to see able people taking self initiative to resolve water crisis, wish they do more than widening & desilting of barrages.

Op-Ed To solve India’s water crisis, correct flawed agricultural policy India faces a water crisis and it’s not on account of cricket. Judicial hearings over the extent of water consumed to conduct IPL cricket matches in parched Maharashtra have highlighted water woes in the state. But the discussion misses the wood for trees with its emphasis on tackling symptoms rather than the cause of the problem. This is an area needing the government’s utmost attention. The solution can only come from comprehensive policy change. Like many other voices this Op-Ed also seems supporting the IPL matches in Maha. While one agrees that for long term solutions the State must correct its farming policy & conserve ground water, the point here is that at this time of crisis when every single drop means a lot to affected is it wise to waste lakhs of liters of on maintenance of IPL pitches? Also see, Leave IPL alone; water-guzzling sugarcane is the real culprit

Karnataka Water woes: Villagers forced to skip bath, postpone marriages  About 600 villages in 137 of the total 176 taluks are facing a severe drinking water crisis owing to one of the worst droughts since 1972. A majority of these villages are in 12 districts of north Karnataka. District administrations have been supplying water through tankers to about 800 and several villages have been left in the lurch. On paper, a tanker visits villages every day, but people claim a tanker visits a village once in 2-3 days. Experts say the crisis is not simply a result of insufficient rainfall but an amalgamation of factors such as rapid urbanization, population growth, agricultural expansion, strong industrial growth and poor water governance. According to one more news as many as 336 villages of Belagavi district are facing severe water crises. As a result, water in reservoirs has been reserved only to meet drinking water needs. To prevent use of water for irrigation, electricity supply has been disconnected along the riparian areas of Ghataprabha and Malaprabha and Krishna rivers. Tankers are being used to supply drinking water to 70 villages, a majority of them in Chikkodi, Athani and Raibag taluks. The district administration has identified about 350 villages that may face severe crises in the coming days.

Tamil Nadu Inflow in Vaigai dam reduced to a trickle, as Madurai sizzles The inflow in the Vaigai dam that supplies water to Madurai city went down to 20 cusecs on 07 April. Lack of rainfall in the catchments has resulted in the inflow to the Mullaperiyar dam going down to 100 cusecs. On alternate days 115 MLD of water is distributed to 10 lakh people in 72 wards that comprise the old part of Madurai city. Bore wells sunk in many parts of the city are the source of drinking water for the newly added 28 wards of the city. The culminating event of the Chittirai festival, when an event that is witnessed by not less than 10 lakh people every year, may suffer a setback. Also see,  ‘No’ to Vaigai water for irrigation

Odisha State trims water allocation for JSPL, JSL, NTPC The state govt has cut the quantum of water allocated originally to Jindal Stainless Ltd (JSL), NTPC Ltd and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd as it looks to conserve water and avoid its wastage. The water resources department has trimmed water allocation for JSL for its steel plant at Kalinganagar by 16.28 cusec and post the de-allocation, JSL’s net allocation stands at 17.21 cusec. NTPC which was originally allocated 120 cusec of water from the Brahamani river for its 3000 Mw super thermal power plant at Kaniha has lost 15 cusec compared to 120 cusec of water allocation. To conserve its water resource and ensure optimal utilisation, the government has decided in principle to turn off water allocation for industries that have made huge delay or the projects that are unlikely to come up.

Chhattisgarh Raman bats for conservation of ground water resources To deal with the looming water crises in the drought-hit CM Raman Singh appealed citizens to conserve and preserve ground water resources for future generation. The CM blamed undue exploitation of groundwater reason behind hand-pumps & drinking water sources going dry in the State.   Notably, as many as 117 tehsils of the statewere declared as ‘drought-hit’ following the shortfall in rains during the previous Kharif crop season.

Op-Ed Water crisis: In the lead up to a summer of disputes by Varun Gandhi  India’s water settlement dispute mechanisms remain opaque and ambiguous. As rivers generally cross state boundaries, the construction of equitable mechanisms for allocating river flows has been a constitutional legacy. With a plethora of stakeholders state govts, Parliament, courts, water tribunals, central ministries and civil society  water disputes have remained a persistent phenomenon. With growing consensus that many such disputes are increasingly intractable, existing institutional arrangements have clearly failed to generate outcomes that focus on growth and the national interest.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

SANDRP Blog Urban Wetlands and Floods In city after city wetlands are being built over, for houses, markets and offices to meet the demands of an increasing urban population. As agriculture is being rendered unviable because of soaring costs of inputs, declining prices of farm products, lack of water arising from water diversions and drought conditions and low support prices, there is increasing scale of urban migration.

Centre Govt’s draft wetlands rules fail to address the plight of wetlands The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010 had clearly prohibited activities like reclamation of wetlands, setting up of new industries and expansion of existing industries, solid waste dumping, manufacturing or handling or storage or disposal of hazardous substances, discharge of untreated waste and effluents from industries, cities, towns and other human settlements, any construction of permanent nature and any other activity that is likely to have an adverse impact on the ecosystem of wetlands. However, the Draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2016 prohibit only reclamation of wetlands and conversion for non-wetland uses, any diversion or impediment to natural water inflows and outflows of the wetland and any activity having or likely to have an adverse impact on the ecological character of the wetlands. The Union environment ministry has invited comments from all stakeholders and experts by 6 June.

W-Bengal Greed & indifference are destroying east Kolkata’s wetlands Kolkata, like other cities in India and elsewhere in Asia, is expanding rapidly. Population in the metro and its suburbs rose by as much as 55% to 14 million in 2011 from nine million in 1981, according to the latest census. Amazingly, for a sprawling city of its size, the cost of sewage treatment is among the cheapest in the world owing to the wetlands on its eastern fringes.It is also virtually unnoticed that the carbon footprint of the food the city consumes is minimal because some 50% of the vegetables and fish are produced right in the backyard at startlingly low costs. However for all its usefulness, the Kolkata wetlands face a dwindling future from land sharks and unplanned, dirty industrialisation.  Hunger for real estate and unregulated industrialisation are pushing an ecosystem that provides vital services to the metropolis beyond the point of no return.

RIVERS

Maharashtra Ulhas river pollution: Green tribunal directs Centre to intervene As the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board failed to stop the flow of untreated industrial waste into Ulhas river, the NGT directed the Union environment ministry to intervene in the matter. The western bench of the tribunal ordered the MoEF to seek an explanation from the state pollution control board as to why the Central Pollution Control Board should not take its functions. The tribunal directed the MoEF secretary to submit an action taken report in three weeks. In 2013, non-governmental organisation Vanashakti filed a petition with the NGT asking it to direct MPCB to shut polluting industries. Also see, Green tribunal pulls up MPCB over Ulhas river pollution

Taloja industries join fishermen to protest Kasadi river pollution In a rare gesture of solidarity, Taloja Industries Association has joined the fishing community to protest the release of untreated waste from the common effluent treatment plant (CETP) in Taloja, which is polluting Kasadi river. The river, once a rich depository of marine life, with several varieties of crab and fish, has become polluted at several spots. The stretch near police headquarter in Kalamboli, several sectors of Kharghar and the portion flowing between Khaghar and Mansarovar railway stations have been badly affected, said locals. CETP is not  functioning to save on electricity bill, affecting the river, fisherfolks, environment and so much more.

NARMADA NBA PR exposes claims about R&R of SSP affected There are many such instanced where land has been allotted to the PAPs on paper, or in reality but the administration has failed to provide the actual possession to them. NBA has been following each of these cases and continue to put sustained pressure on the authorities so that justice be done. In Maharashtra alone, 1200 PAPs are still to be rehabilitated in the Sardar Sarovar submergence villages. Our fight has continued for 30 years and will continue until everyone gets their due and justice is done.

GANGA W-Bengal NTPC suspends power generation from Farakka  An unprecedented dip in the water level of Farakka feeder canal has yet again forced NTPC to suspend generation at 5 units of Stage I & II of the Farakka Super Thermal Power Station in a phased manner from the late hours of 1 April. The situation is unlikely to improve in the next 10 days, according to an NTPC. On 12 March NTPC had to stop generation due to non-availability of adequate cooling water from Farakka feeder canal. The station had to suspend generation from all its 6 units then as the intake channel had gone dry due to a sudden drop in level at the feeder canal. Ganga is one of India’s biggest river of country and its drying shows the level of water crisis in India.

Bihar Ganga waterways project raises hopes & fears An Indian govt plan to promote navigation along the Ganga combined with the problematic history of earlier barrages and embankments has ministers from Bihar up in arms. A lack of clarity on the technical aspects of the project further baffles experts. Himanshu Thakkar SANDRP, pointed out that the bill does not mention any technical or environment assessment of the proposed waterway. He further adds that it’s highly unlikely to construct such a large number of barrages & nothing is clear at present. Thakkar feels that the govt will adopt the method of dredging to ensure navigability. But the silt that comes out of dredging needs to go somewhere & a detailed technical part of the project will resolve this mystery.

Uttar Pradesh 1070 polluting units discharge effluents in Ganga in UP Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board on 04 April informed the NGT that it has identified 1070 seriously polluting industries from Haridwar to Kanpur which discharge 219.18 MLD of effluents in river Ganga. According to report only 4 towns out of 31 located on same stretch has solid waste treatment facility  and the State has also put a ban on plastic on 22 Dec. 2015.

NGT seeks UP govt’s response on illegal sand mining near Narora atomic plant  NGT on 08 April sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea seeking prohibition of alleged illegal sand mining near Narora atomic power station in Sambhal district. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to the state government on the petition which alleged that illegal mining was being carried out in the close vicinity of the atomic power station and on the banks of river Ganga and its floodplains in the area. The bench asked the state government to file its response and fixed the matter for hearing on May 9.

Op-Ed Muddied Waters: Why the Ganga can’t be cleaned The detailed and informative report quotes several leading experts working on river & Ganga issue. According to Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP the Namami Ganga offers only technological solutions and technology is just one part of the Ganga’s solution. Thakkar, himself an IIT Bombay alumnus feels that the governance is the core problem & until proper laws are enforced, Ganga pollution can never be controlled.

Uttarakhand  Discovery Channel to air special program ‘Ganga: Himalayan Descent’ Descending from the Himalayas, Discovery Channel will capture many facets of the Mother Ganga; from spiritual, cultural, geological and adventure in its one-hour special program Ganga: Himalayan Descent. Premiering on 15 April 2016 at 9 pm on Discovery Channel, Discovry Tamil and Discovery HD World, the program through incredible footage and gripping narrative will reveal the story of the Hindu’s holy pilgrimage and its tributaries that support India’s thriving ecosystem.

YAMUNA Yamuna need flow more than cleaning According to Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP maintaining the minimum flow was vital to the Yamuna. He further adds that the states take away almost all of the fresh water during the non-monsoon seasons, and they are yet to build proper reservoirs so as to avoid doing this. In addition, he stated that the pollution from sand mining in UP, Haryana and Delhi, and the extensive reliance on ground water in Delhi are major causes of concern as far as the river’s health is concerned.

Centre Yamuna water link may get govt nod According to Nitin Gadkari the stretch from Palla to Wazirabad of Yamuna river in Haryana & Delhi will be the first few waterways for navigation that the shipping ministry will announce in the next 5-6 months. Gadkari also said that the stretch can be used for landing and take off of sea planes. He added efforts are being made to make the rest of Yamuna stretch from Delhi to Agra navigable. The ministry-sponsored report had also suggested how the passenger vessels plying on Yamuna can work as a feeder service to major Metro stations. The plan seems unaware of ground realities. Its  impractical as the river survives only on negligible flows through this stretch for 8 months that too in form of few hundred cusecs to meet Delhi water demand which is put into river via Drain No. 8 at Palla. Upwards Palla the river runs dry upto Panipat.

AOL Row NGT panel yet to visit site to assess damage The damage, if any, the Yamuna floodplain suffered because of the Art of Living festival is unlikely to be ascertained any time soon. The NGT-constituted principal committee, which was to submit its report by 07 April, is yet to visit the site. It may seek more time to submit their report. The committee on 04 April wrote to NGT asking if the foundation would vacate the site. It is on the basis of the report of this committee that the tribunal will ascertain how much damage, if any, was caused to the floodplain. It is also supposed to tell the tribunal what the road map for the restoration is and how much money will be required. AOL is still in the process of vacating the site.

AOL stage still stands on Yamuna floodplains, compensation yet to be paid The stage used in the Art of Living Foundation event on the Yamuna floodplains in mid-Feb  is still standing more than three weeks after the event, and the Art of Living Foundation has yet to pay the initial compensation of Rs 5cr for misusing environmentally sensitive land imposed by the NGT. The fee was due on 1 April, but that very day, the foundation sought permission to submit a bank guarantee for Rs 4.75cr in place of the payment. The AOL had already paid Rs 25 lakh on 10 March, a day before the event was due to begin, as a token of faith. The matter would finally be decided after a hearing on 21 and 22 April.

Op-Ed Leave Yamuna floodplain alone by Meha Mathur Unfortunately, even educated people show an appalling lack of understanding about rivers and their eco-systems. This was in evidence when AOL founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s followers—well-educated, well-to-do professionals—defended the choice of the cultural fest venue. While some said it was “just barren land”, others said that “just four trees had to be trimmed because they were obstructing the view”. It was obvious that grasslands, wetlands and marshes aren’t seen as environmentally important for many. And in the rush to commercialize property, every inch of available space is used.

Delhi NGT directs DJB to give details of work on Yamuna The green tribunal, on 07 April asked it to submit complete details of the works they plan to complete and the funds required for them.  The NGT bench directed DJB to file an affidavit mentioning specifications of the work awarded to contractors, besides time when the tender was invited and awarded. The matter is listed for next hearing on April 8. Earlier, it had directed DJB not to surrender the amount allocated to it in the last fiscal for rejuvenation of Yamuna to the Delhi government.  The green panel also made it clear that DJB would spend these funds during the year for implementation of its ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project’.

HYDRO POWER 

Centre Govt plans push for hydro power After setting the power distribution segment on a reform road, the Union govt is planning to rescue the languishing hydro power sector, with a three-pronged approach. The first move would be to increase the ambit of small hydro projects to 100 Mw from current 25 Mw. According to sources this would also make available the tax benefits and subsidies that small hydro enjoys to larger projects. This is done in hope of reviving private investment in the sector and also gives opportunity to small players to expand capacity at the same location.  The focus is on hydro-rich states -Uttrakhand, Arunanchal Pradesh & Sikkim. In a separate programme, energy minister Piyush Goyal said that the year 2016-17 is dedicated to hydro power. He further stated that the sector in recent past it has been ignored due to huge challenges like local resistance and issues of land acquisition. Stressing that government’s mission is to have ‘one nation, one grid, one price, he said that electricity is available at same rate of Rs.4.40 per unit across India.  Also see, Power grid accomplishes highest-ever yearly commissioning of projects worth Rs 30300cr & Govt focusing on a multipronged strategy to ensure increased electricity access & demand.

Industry The hydropower portfolio of India is depleting Anil Sardana, CEO Tata Power, recently in an interview with ET Now, talked about the hydropower capacity of India. Sardana stated that the hydropower capacity in India has seen depletion. He stated that the total energy production has fallen from 30% to 17% and is expected to drop to 15% in 2017.

Himachal Workers, Farmers stage protest against HPPCL Supported by CITU, project workers on 28 March staged a protest in Reckong Peo under the banner of the 450-Mw Shongtong-Karcham Hydel Project Workers’ Union demanding 3-month pending wages as per the minimum wages Act, implementation of labour and tribal laws and lifting of Section 144 from the project site. Raising slogans against the district administration and Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL), workers and the project-affected farmers from four gram panchayats of Rali, Barang, Powari & Kwangi gheraoed the office of the general manager, HPPCL, which is executing the project on the Satluj river.

Karnataka Acute water shortage hits power generation at Almatti dam Acute shortage of water has affected power generation at the 290 Mw hydel power plant in Almatti dam which has generated the lowest quantum of electricity this year from its day of operation. According to the officials, the plant has generated 146 million units of power in the 2015-16 financial year (till march-end). In the previous financial year, the plant had generated 478 million units as against the target of 494 million units. Of the 6, 4 units had suspended its operation from October last year as Krishna Bhagya Jal Nigam Ltd. stopped discharging water to the plant due to water shortage.

DAM  

Odisha Close to dam but away from water Balbashpur village in Kilasama gram panchayat of the district is located just about 10 km away from Left Dyke of Hirakud Dam. The 1,500 inhabitants, though, feel the pangs of water scarcity every year when summer sets in. A dry zone, water level in the village depends on Sason canal, which is barely a kilometre away from the village, besides the Hirakud dam reservoir (HDR). The 6 water bodies in the village have knee-deep muddy water and it will dry up after release of water from HDR to Sason Main canal is stopped around mid-May when summer is at its peak. Yet another story of how people close to large dams (Hirakud dam in this case) does not have access to water.

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

SYL Row Punjab isolated, stakeholders side with Haryana in SC The Punjab government on 04 April appeared to be isolated over the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing issue, with all other stakeholders coming out in Haryana’s support in the Supreme Court which asked the centre to take a stand in the matter. In the hearing which saw Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, J&K & Delhi supporting the stand of Haryana on the Presidential Reference over the SYL canal, a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by justice A.R. Dave said the attorney general or solicitor general should make the centre’s stand clear on the reference pertaining to the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.

Andhra-Telangana 2 Telangana lift irrigation schemes spell doom for A.P.  Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee on 06 April convened a meeting with leaders of the Congress Kisan Cell from all the 13 districts to discuss the impact of these two irrigation schemes on the State. After a marathon debate, the party passed some resolutions and also announced an action plan to bring the issue to the notice of the general public, particularly the farmers of 9 districts 4 Rayalaseema & 5 coastal districts — who would be impacted badly by Telangana Palamuru-Ranga Reddy and Dindi lift irrigation schemes on the Krishna river. Seeking centre intervention the party also proposes an all party delegation to Delhi.  A public meeting would be held at the Srisailam dam on 23 April to highlight the imminent danger to the State.

IRRIGATION    

Centre Distribution schemes for energy efficient agriculture pumps & fans to be launched  Power Minister Piyush Goyal will launch 2 schemes namely National Energy Efficient Agriculture Pumps Programme and National Energy Efficient Fan Programme in Andhra Pradesh. These Schemes will be implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited a JV of PSUs under Ministry of Power. Through these new-age energy efficient SIM-enabled agricultural pumps, Union Power Ministry is looking at a 30% savings in energy by 2019. This will then boil down to an annual savings of approx Rs 20000cr on agricultural subsidies or a saving of 50 billion units of energy every year. Speaking during a separate programme the Minister also said that the Govt’s mission is to achieve one nation, one grid & one price.

Tamil Nadu Farmers to seek signed undertaking for irrigation project The farmers lobby is all set to secure signed undertaking from candidates contesting in three Assembly constituencies for construction of Badedalavu irrigation project (locally known as the Periya Eri Kalvaai Thittam) that is slated to benefit 31 panchayats in the 3 Assembly constituencies of Bargur, Vepanapalli & Krishnagiri once implemented. Incidentally, the project that has been in the proposal stage for the last 15 years, would figure during every election in the local candidate’s manifesto. The irrigation project envisions channelising water from river Thenpennai to Badedalavu lake. Many farmers are even thinking of boycotting the elections.

Telangana Kaleshwaram project has low benefit-cost ratio: irrigation expert Retired Engineer-in-Chief T. Hanumantha Rao admitted that the benefit-cost ratio of the project at the present cost is very low, which makes it highly unviable. Redesigned or not, materialisation of the Rs83K Cr Kaleshwaram (earlier Pranahitha-Chevella) project which is projected to irrigate more than 20 lakh acres of land in the State, would provide water only for one crop in a year, that too for irrigated-dry crops which otherwise are rain-fed. It’s surprising that the same retired engineer has supported other barrage projects on Pranahita & Godavari river. He has also proposed 4 barrages from Medigadda to Yellampally instead of 2, which could turn the river into a reservoir. Further 11 barrages were suggested to be built between Yellampally & Sriramsagar Project before transfer to Manjeera, 4 more barrages up to Nizamsagar & 8 more to Singur. Another suggestion was to convert into reservoir, the whole distance between Thummidihatti and Yellampally, instead of digging a canal.

Karnataka Mangaluru gets Rs4.8cr for minor irrigation works The Minor Irrigation Department has sanctioned 22 works worth Rs.4.8cr, including 3 vented dams, in Mangaluru Assembly constituency. The vented dams would be constructed at Ira village (Rs.30lakh), Konaje village (Rs 30lakh) & Kinya village (Rs.70lakh). While tender process was on for the first project, tenders were yet to be called for the remaining two. Similarly, 2 flood control projects had been sanctioned at Pudu & Manjanady villages at a cost of Rs.30lakh & Rs.20lakh, respectively. The remaining 17 works comprise construction of retaining walls for streams as well as the Netravathi.

FLOOD

SANDRP Guest Blog Bihar Floods in 1987 East Champaran ( Part-II) by Dr. Dinesh Kumar Mishra Floods in East Champaran started following the heavy rainfall in the last week of July 1987. There was a sudden rise in the flood levels of the tributaries of the Burhi Gandak (Sikrahana) like the Sarisawa, the Tilawe, the Gaadh, and the Bangari leading to submergence of lower areas of Raxaul town where flood water of depth up to two to two and half feet was spread all over. The first part of this series can be read here.

Tamil Nadu Ban sand mining, wetlands encroachment to avoid Chennai 2.0 Citizens Platform, a forum of civil society groups has written to major political parties in the State to incorporate their demands, including a ban on river sand mining, which, it says, was a major cause of devastating floods in Chennai and its neighbouring districts in Dec 2015. In a detailed plan of action sent to manifesto drafting committees, the forum emphasised the need for evicting large-scale encroachment on water bodies that block and obstruct the drainage of water, preventing recharge of groundwater. The forum also called for an immediate ban on the production and use of plastics, since many drainage systems were blocked by non-biodegradable wastes, mainly plastics during Chennai floods.

WATER  

Water in India, Expert Presentation SANDRP Coordinator’s presentation at IIT Mumbai last Dec is featured here.

Centre Punjab, Haryana get central grant for potable water Faced with the problem of fluoride and arsenic material contaminating their potable water resources, 15 states are set to receive a special assistance from the Centre to tide over the crisis. The government has already released Rs72676 lakh for the states following an advice from NITI Aayog. In the north, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir figure on the list and would receive Rs3935 lakh, Rs266 lakh, Rs43129 lakh and Rs47 lakh respectively. Purification plants would be set up with the grant while the cost of raw water and electricity would be borne by state govts. Also see, Climate Change risks can be mitigated by using water efficiently: Javadekar  

W-Bengal NHRC takes cognizance of ‘no water’ in Jangalmahal school The National Human Rights Commission  has taken suo motu cognizance of a press report that a primary school in Sahari, Binpur Assembly Segment in Jangalmahal area of West Bengal “may close soon due to non-availability of water”. 

GROUND WATER

National NGT notice to Railways over groundwater use Massive extraction of groundwater by the Railways to clean train coaches and platforms has caught the attention of the NGT which on 31 March asked the national transporter to respond to a plea alleging this was being done “indiscriminately and illegally”. A bench issued notices to the Ministries of Railways and Environment and Central Ground Water Authority and sought their reply within two weeks after a plea alleged that the state run behemoth was extracting groundwater without permission from concerned authorities. Welcome petition, let us see if this leads to any change in the way Railways manage water.

Tamil Nadu Drinking water floods Moulivakkam On 05 April residents of Moulivakkam woke up to find their streets inundated. In many parts of the locality, residents had to wade through knee-deep water. This was happening in mid-summer, they were more puzzled than alarmed. In the early hours drinking water gushing through a leak in the major pipeline conveying water from Veeranam lake to the city, submerged several streets. Residents said the streets were flooded with huge volumes of water in a short span of time.

Punjab Depleting ground water: Dark reality under Punjab’s green landscape Punjab, the land of 5 rivers, is staring at a dark future on the water front. Tubewells are being bored at between 300 and 400 feet. Every year, the level goes down by 10 feet. Of the 145 water blocks 110 have already been declared “dark zones”. Nearly 45 % of the blocks have been “notified” which means their water can only be utilised for drinking purposes. Punjab has to rely heavily on tube wells, as 73% of irrigation is being done through them, resulting in fast depletion of the water table. The paddy crop, which was not natural to Punjab guzzles 10 times more water than other kharif crops. Against the national average of just over 40% area under agriculture, Punjab has over 83% of cropped area. Green Revolution state Punjab, which occupies just 1.54 % of the country’s geographical area, contributes nearly 50% of food grain to the national kitty.

WATER OPTIONS    

Centre Water conservation needed for sustainable development: Uma Bharti Urging people to conserve water, Ms Uma Bharti on 04 April said water conservation is essential for country’s sustainable development. She said deterioration of water quality of river water as also of the ground water were serious issues. She also said that the likely impact of climate change on water resources adds to the existing challenges. Referring to inter-linking of rivers, she said the central government was fully committed for water security through implementation of interlinking of rivers projects.

Cabinet approves central system for water management The Cabinet’s on 05 April approved implementation of the National Hydrology Project (NHP) with an outlay of over Rs 3679cr to set up a centralised system for providing real-time data for flood forecasts, water resource assessment and drought management. The project intends to set up a system for timely and reliable water resource data acquisition, storage, collation & management. The NHP will cover the entire country, unlike earlier hydrology projects that covered only 13 states. It also seeks to build capacity of state and central organisations in water resource management through the use of information systems and adoption of state-of-the-art technologies like remote sensing. 

Assam Water and the community Bandh-dong committees in western Assam manage the equitable distribution of water through community participation. Very interesting example of community irrigation management in Lower Assam.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Karnataka  Govt offices to turn solar power generating centres The huge roofs of state and central govt offices in Belagavi will be transformed into electricity producing centres. Under the Integrated Power Development Scheme envisaged by the Centre in association with the state govt, the Hubli Electricity Supply Company has identified 10 such offices where solar panels will be installed. The Rs 38.66cr project aims at producing 100KW power. Under the solar energy policy, the Centre is providing 75% of grant for the installation of solar power generating units. Special category states will get 90% grant for solar energy generation plants. If the project is completed and commenced well before the stipulated time, the Centre will give an additional 15% grant.

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan Floods kill at least 53 after heavy rains At least 53 people have been killed by flash floods caused by torrential rain in northwest Pakistan. The rain began on 02 March bringing flooding to parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan provinces. Pre-monsoon rains often cause damage in rural Pakistan and officials said locals had been warned to leave their villages for safer places. The summer monsoon season is even worse, last year killing dozens. Poverty and poor infrastructure greatly exacerbate the impact of floods.

Nepal The Yale Himalaya Initiative landslide hazard map for Nepal An article by the Yale Himalaya Initiative has announced the development of a new landslide hazard map for Nepal.  It appears that this was based upon a more local scale approach used by ICIMOD.  The resultant map divides the country into four hazard classes. The article claims that the technique has remarkable skill in identifying areas of high hazard.  Dave Petley is critical of this New Landslide Hazard map produced by YALE initiative, saying it is not clear what it is showing and how it is arrived at.

Letting rivers flow Dr.Hari Shrestha speaks of the efforts being made to increase awareness about healthy rivers in the country. Dr Hari Kumar Shreshta is an engineer, teacher, and a passionate crusader for healthy rivers. On a recent visit to India, he spoke with India Water Portal about the efforts to introduce the concept of environmental flows in hydropower-focused Nepal.

CHINA

2 decades after forced relocation, Yangtze dam evictees lack compensation More than 20 years after construction began on China’s massive Yangtze River hydropower project, the Three Gorges dam, hundreds of people are still pursuing complaints over their eviction and relocation. Some 1.2 million people living along the banks of the Yangtze were relocated during the 1990s to make way for the project. But many say they have yet to receive the promised amount in compensation.

REST OF ASIA

Kyrgyzstan China replaces Russia as hydropower investor Months after breaking off a long-standing deal with Russian companies to build two major hydropower projects, Kyrgyzstan has found a potential white knight in the form of a major Chinese investor. Kyrgyzstan deputy Prime Minister Oleg Pankratov met with representatives of China’s State Power Investment Corporation on 6 April to discuss plan to build a cascade of four hydropower stations on the Naryn River. Collectively, the cascade is expected to generate around 4.6 billion kilowatt hours annually more than either of the now-scotched Russian projects.

REST OF THE WORLD 

US 4 dams on Klamath river to be removed On 06 April  federal departments of the interior & commerce, along with the states of Oregon & California & the Karuk and Yurok tribes, have signed a new agreement with electric power company PacifiCorp to decommission and remove 4 hydropower dams along the Klamath River. The agreement creates a “path forward for the largest river restoration in the history of the United States,” along with “the largest dam removal project in the history of our nation. The new pact will allow PacifiCorp to take three dams in California—Copco 1, Copco 2 and the Iron Gate Dam—and the John C. Boyle Dam in Oregon out of service by using the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s established licensing process for hydropower.

 Saving lives through real-time flood forecasting Current flood prediction systems in the United States are centered on large rivers and responses to rain patterns and often do not provide enough information on the individual streams and rivers that impact flooding in communities. India also can upgrade its flood forecasting system.

Global Mining dams grow to colossal heights & so do the risks From Chile to Australia to the U.S. the quest for economies of scale has prompted mining companies to dig larger and deeper pits, creating record volumes of waste. To house all that detritus they have constructed some of the most colossal man-made structures on the planet. Known as tailings dams, these earthen embankments hold back sprawling reservoirs of mud, finely ground rock and water—what is left after a mill separates metals from ore. In theory, tailings dams are intended to last forever. In practice, they fail often enough that industry engineers themselves are sounding alarms. Experts estimate that between one and four breaches occur each year at tailings dams world-wide roughly 10 times the failure rate of water dams.

Greece Sparmos Dam–a significant dam failure on Sunday 27th March In Elassona, Greece the Sparmos Dam overtopped and breached in the afternoon of Sunday 27th March. Thousands cubic meters of water poured onto the plain of Elassona, destroying roads and fields with crops when the Sparmos dam broke.  The surge of water, indeed, was such that it even dismantled the pavement. Fortunately downstream damage appears to be light.  Dave Petley blog provides some useful details on the dam breach.

Study How an ancient civilization conserved water Collection, storage and management of water were top priorities for the ancient Maya, whose sites in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala were forced to endure seven months out of the year with very little rainfall. As researchers expand their explorations of the civilization outside of large, elite-focused research site centers, aerial imagery technology is helping them locate and study areas that are showing them how less urbanized populations conserved water for drinking and irrigation.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Heat from Earth’s core may be melting ice sheet Heat that has been escaping from the Earth’s core could be making Greenland’s ice sheet melt and flow faster, according to new research from a team of geoscientists from around the world, including at Trinity College Dublin. The discovery means that predictions about the rate of climate change that are based on the movement of ice must also factor in that some of the influence that may be coming from deep under the frozen landscape. The findings confirm readings from radar and ice core drilling data, which suggest rapid melting in the area. The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Research Measuring black carbon over Indus-Ganga region US scientists are calling for better inventories of black carbon over the Indus-Ganga region which takes in a 255- million-hectare sweep of fertile plains covering Bangladesh, northern and eastern India and eastern Pakistan. Black carbon has been linked to environmental pollution and is rated third as a cause of global warming, after carbon di-oxide & methane.  According to US researchers, uncertainties prevail over existing methods to estimate black carbon emissions on the Indo-Gangetic plain with models currently in use not validated by on-site measurements. In South Asia, where millions of people lack access to clean cooking technologies, biomass burning is estimated to account for about two-thirds of black carbon emissions.

India 22nd Basic ministerial meeting on Climate Change The MoEF&CC is organising the 22nd meeting of Brazil, South Africa, India and China, called the BASIC Group. The meeting is being organized in New Delhi on 6th and 7th April 2016. This is the first meeting of the BASIC Group, after the Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015. Also see, India to ratify COP 21 Global Climate Agreement on April 22 – Prakash Javadekar

ENVIRONMENT

J&K Green tribunal notice to Centre, J&K over IIT campus in Jammu A Jammu native, Nigam Priye Saroop, has challenged the transfer of 159 hectares of forest land to the Higher Education Department of the state govt on the ground that it will damage the environment and ecology of the area. The PIL has contended that the transfer of the forest land was not “justified” when other vast stretches of waste and unproductive lands were available in abundance in Jammu region for setting up the IIT. A bench of the court issued notices to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Environment Ministry, J&K Govt and others while seeking their reply by 31 March.

Haryana Mining siege of Aravalis on, 14 FIRs in 19 months An RTI response from the district mining office has revealed that 14 FIRs against illegal mining have been lodged in the last 19 months in the city. According to the response FIRs have been lodged against individuals, stone crushing firms and drivers of vehicles and dumpers used in mining. While five FIRs have been lodged with Kherki Daula police station, four were filed at Bhondsi police station. Another four were reported at Badshahpur and one in Farrukhnagar. So far, six vehicles have been seized in the city for alleged involvement in illegal mining and each vehicle was fined over Rs 2 lakh. Rich in minerals such as red sand, silica and quartz, the Aravali range has long been considered a treasure trove by the mining mafia.

You may like to see DRP News Bulletin 04 April 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 28 March 2016

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