DRP News Bulletin 18 April 2016 (Prior action & planning can reduce Drought impact: Uma Bharti says it’s pointless, Solapur shows it’s possible)

Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti in an interview tried to refute charges that the Centre reacted late to India’s drought crisis. Water minister makes strange statements that one cannot do any planning about drought & her govt is the first govt to provide water through tankers. However, Solapur, a chronically drought-hit district in Maharashtra was serviced with more than 200 tankers in 2013-14, even when the monsoon rainfall was better than this year. In this drought, there are only 16 tankers plying in Solapur. Drinking water sources have been secured, water from Ujani dam for and sugar cane has been disallowed. The district leads the way in Jal Yukta Shivar Program in the state, new avenues of Agricultural credit are opening, options to sugarcane are being developed, errant sugar factories are being fined for polluting drinking water sources. Will the Union Government accept its mistakes and make amends?

DROUGHT   

Op-Ed इस सूखे का जिम्मेदार कौन by Himanshu Thakkar  इस बार का सूखा लगातार दो वर्ष मानसून में क्रमशः 14 और 12 प्रतिशत की कमी के कारण ही भीषण नहीं है, बल्कि मानसून में कमी से हुए असर से भी स्थिति भयावह हुई है। जलवायु परिवर्तन के कारण लगातार बढ़ती गर्मी भी इसके लिए जिम्मेदार है। देश के एक बड़े हिस्से में पिछले दो वर्षों में रबी फसल की विफलता से भी किसानों का संकट बढ़ गया है। संकट के समय भूमिगत जल एक बड़ा सहारा होता है, पर देश के बहुत बड़े हिस्से में भू-जल की उपलब्‍धता कम हुई है। जलस्रोतों और भूमिगत जल का घटता स्तर और बढ़ता प्रदूषण समस्या को और बढ़ावा दे रहा है। लेकिन केंद्र और राज्य सरकारों की दूरदर्शिता के अभाव से भी स्थिति बदतर हुई है; यानी संकट को भांपते हुए पहले से कदम नहीं उठाए गए। Also read, Himanshu Thakkar’s (coordinator SANDRP) interview highlighting the reasons behind current drought situation.

National Mismanagement of water threatens to hit industry & economy With Indian economic growth of more than 7% still outpacing China’s, the damage from the latest drought has so far been confined mainly to farmers. But in the longer term, mismanagement of water is likely to affect industry and the broader economy. According to Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP it’s possibly the worst summer India is going to face in the post-independence era, particularly in Central India. He further adds that the govt has done some symbolic things but in terms of programmes, policy and practices, there’s absolutely no change. Experts warn that conflicts are already brewing between States because of competition over scarce river water.  

India scrambles to ease severe drought India’s dry regions tend to start running short of water at this time of year more than two months before the usual start of monsoon rains but this year’s drought is particularly severe because poor monsoons across much of the country in both 2014 and 2015 have left dams and reservoirs with unusually low water levels. Himanshu Thakkar, of SANDRP a research group, said the coming months would be “possibly the worst summer India is going to face in the post-independence era, particularly in central India”. Also see, India’s drought is born out of apathy for the poor “BAN SUGARCANE”, NC Saxena has been surprisingly quoted saying here. Also shocking to learn that hospitals have stopped doing surgeries in Latur.

Centre Pointless to prepare drought plans in advance Uma Bharti in an interview strongly defended charges that the Centre reacted late to India’s drought crisis. She said it is perhaps for the first time in history that water trains have been sent to combat drought. Water minister makes strange statements that you cannot do any planning about drought & they are the first govt to provide water through tankers! Also see, Cabinet secretary reviewed the drought situation

Bharati seeks details on water storage in all states While speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management & Studies Ms Uma Bharati has asked Central Water Commission to prepare a report on the status of water storage in all states. The report will be basis of speeding up all water projects, including unbuilt dams, that are used for irrigation & drinking water supply. The water resource ministry is also reported preparing a scheme to be named after Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar under which a Dalit-majority village facing acute water scarcity will be chosen in every district of the country for implementing an integrated water security plan.

13 drought-hit States didn’t use Centre’s drinking water funds Rural Development Ministry data shows that 13 states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Telangana have not utilised the funds provided to them by the Centre & that nearly 1500cr is parked at various levels “including districts that are worst affected by water shortage. The Centre provides funds to states under the national rural drinking water programme through a budgetary allocation for the rural development ministry. The statistics show that Maharashtra had 322 cr of unspent central funds for drinking water & Karnataka had 200cr in unspent funds. Similarly Uttar Pradesh had 332cr & Telangana around Rs20cr. None of the states reeling under drought have utilised even the flexi-fund.

Maharashtra State has most dams but irrigation network highly ineffective Maharashtra has spent money building the largest dam infrastructure in the country, which has actually turned out to be the least efficient in terms of providing irrigation to cropped area. Punjab has 16 large dams, Haryana has one, Uttar Pradesh has 130 and Bihar has 26. All these states have achieved greater irrigation efficiency with fewer dams. The big-dams model of Maharashtra has largely worked in favour of the contractor lobby at the expense of needy farmers. This is what Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP calls the “dam scam.” She further adds that the overactive, pro-dam lobby is responsible for the state of affairs. The lobby is influential among politicians, bureaucrats and the administration and is more interested in the infrastructure and contracts rather than water reaching the people. Also see, Drought Proofing Maharashtra Watch SANDRP’s Parineeta Dandekar with Pradeep Purandare and Vijay Diwan on CNBC TV 18 on 09 April 2016.

Water theft: Case charged against 23 Nashik farmers The water resources department has registered cases against 23 farmers for allegedly stealing water for their farms and the number may go up once the canal rotation is over. The department has released water only for drinking purposes through the Palkhed irrigation canal for the parched regions located towards the eastern part of this north Maharashtra city. While this is interesting development, how about booking the sugar factories for lifting water meant for drinking water for the drought hit as reported by SANDRP earlier?

Inc biggies look to ease drought crisis As the threat of a water shortage looms larger with each passing year, Tata Group, Godrej Industries, Bisleri, Hindustan Unilever, SAB Miller India & RPG Enterprises have become increasingly active in helping to ease the crisis in drought-prone regions. Some of these actions may be useful, but the TATAS clearly have contributed to making the drought disaster much BIGGER in proportion, thanks to their diversion of water to Konkan in spite of SANDRP repeatedly writing to them to stop it at least in this drought year as that would help the drought hit Bhima basin and also parts of Marathwada.

Water train to Latur addressing shortage not drought SANDRP states that many factors have in the years since, contributed toward this crisis. Tata Hydropower Dams have been diverting water of the Bhima Basin to water-surplus Konkan for the past century for power generation. Such water transfer from a water-deficit basin like Bhima-Krishna to water surplus basin like Konkan, in such a terrible drought,” highlights the need for the more apposite sharing of the waters from the dams. Demand from sugarcane has already severely jeopardized the available groundwater and surface water resources which need to be safeguarded for drinking water supply and livelihood supporting crops needing least water. This report extensively quotes SANDRP.

HC Bombay shifts 13 IPL matches out Only 6 of 19 IPL matches scheduled in Maharashtra can be held in the state and the organisers will have to shift out the rest from April 30, the High Court Bombay ruled on 13 April.  Saying claims of financial liabilities made by the organisers could not override the “larger cause of the people”, it gave BCCI & franchise teams 15 days to “make arrangements” to move matches out of drought-hit Maharashtra. The bench said while the state government had chosen to be a mute spectator and shift all blame on municipal authorities, the court could “not turn a blind eye to the plight of the people”. Also see, Submit monthly reports on water schemes: HC Bombay

Sewage water to run IPL juggernaut  As debate rages on using precious water in IPL matches while the state faces severe drought, BCCI on 12 April informed the HC Bombay of its decision to source treated sewage water from Royal Western India Turf Club to maintain pitches for 17 of the 20 IPL matches. The court has given the board a day to respond, with the high court further asking if, and how much, they were willing to contribute towards the chief minister’s drought relief fund.

Farm crisis deepens Interesting that this article notes that in this drought year production of cereals is likely to drop by 41% and that of pulses by 11%, but is COMPLETELY silent on production of sugarcane and sugar, which has broken the backbone of state water resources development. Also see, Story behind the statistics & the lonely struggle of Indian farmers This article says farmer suicides in Marathwada has gone up from 198 in 2012 to 1133 in 2015: also story of Kisan Sabha person doing suicide survey.

Roadmap to improve Mumbai water distribution system likely The state govt assured that it will appoint a water expert committee to sort out all water related issues of Mumbai city such as unequal distribution, leakages-theft and also how to go about 24 hour water supply to the city and prepare a roadmap for it. The government ensured that the report will be submitted in the next two months. While Maha CM Fadnavis is right in pointing out the unacceptably high 27% water losses in Mumbai he is clearly on WRONG TRACK   when he talks about desalinization plants in a city with over 2400 mm and a city that refuses to treat its sewage. Also see, 10% water cut for Aurangabad industries, 20% for breweries

Parched lips, barren lands and the scramble for water As much as 80% to 84% of the agriculture in Maharashtra is rainfed, but there is a huge variability in rainfall in different regions of the state. Deficient rainfall is reported once every 5 years and drought conditions occur once every 8-9 years, so droughts aren’t unusual in the state. The story was done six months back, but has a lot of useful data and information.

Water trains vs lush lawns: 2 faces of drought-hit Latur While Latur in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region battles drought, well-nourished lawns in city hotels raise serious questions. On the other hand a  special train carrying 50lakh litres of water for parched Latur reached the destination on 12 March morning after 18 hours to traverse a distance of around 350 km. On 14 April the second train consisting of 50 wagons & carrying around 5 lakh litres of water reached Latur. Also see, where water divides friends, relatives

Amid drought, no end to abuse of water resources Interesting Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) continues to waste 1.5 million litres of treated water considered fit for non-potable purposes into the sea per day due to lack of distribution network while Raj Bhavan is demanding 1.5 lakh litres of treated water from the Banganga sewage treatment plant for last few years for the gardening purposes. For that BMC is asking the Raj Bhavan to pay 14.52 per thousand litres which Raj Bhavan has objected  saying that it is already getting potable water for Rs 3.5 for per 1000 litres so why to pay higher than that to buy the treated water.  At present, there is 15% water cut since 26 Aug 2015, across the city with daily supply of 3275 mld as against the demand of 4200 mld.

Jharkhand Drought-hit Abadganj runs dry, residents leave in search of water Years of drought and the local administration’s failure to provide tap water has forced many of its 1,500 residents to flee their homes during the summer and take refuge where water is available. The trend started a couple of years ago, when local residents began pasting for-sale notices outside their homes and properties. Initially, they got a few customers, but as news of the area being water-starved spread, they stopped getting enquiries. Now, they have started abandoning their houses and renting homes in localities where water is available. Dozens have left for other towns, permanently locking their homes. Even groundwater cannot help Abadganj.

Telangana Drought story in one line, women walking single-file Telangana has been hit by drought now for three years in a row. Over 2,100 farmers have committed suicide since the state was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014. Debts pile up, families go hungry, and the land seems relentlessly impassive and unmoved by the misery it witnesses and delivers over and over.

Gujarat 1K villages reel under drinking water crisis Around 1,000 villages in eight districts of Gujarat are reeling under an acute drinking water crisis, the state government has said, cautioning that the crisis may persist for two more months. The affected districts are Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Porbandar, Rajkot, Surendranagar, Dahod, Panchmahal and Amreli. In Surendranagar alone, 268 villages are facing the crisis.

Rain surplus Dang district faces acute water shortage Tanks, taps & ponds in the district have run dry due to patchy rainfall in the last 2 years. Govt agencies are supplying water to residents twice a week but that is often too little to suffice the needs of the huge population of almost 1lakh in the district. Women are forced to trek at least 3km daily to reach a well only to draw muddy water. With temperatures already hovering around 40 degrees Celsius, residents are worried about the days to come when mercury will soar further. Also see, Rajkot was first water by train How ill informed the Water Resources Minister is clear from this report: possibly India’s first water train reached Rajkot on May 2, 1986.

Uttar Pradesh Water scarcity hits sarus courtship in Etawah, Mainpuri The courtship of sarus cranes has been hit by the scarcity of water in lakes, ponds and paddy fields in the habitat of the state bird in Etawah and Mainpuri districts. Wildlife experts claim that only a few birds have been sighted in the region in this season.  After the courtship period which lasts till May, these birds disperse and fly back to their territory and start building nests with the onset of rainy season, starting from July. Sarus is regarded as the threatened bird species & total population of sarus bird across the globe is approximately between 13500 &15500 which is declining primarily as a result of loss & degradation of wetlands.

J&K Women trek 5 km to fetch water as shortage hits Doda village Residents of Kota Top a remote village in Doda district say their womenfolk have to trek 5 hours daily to fetch drinking water but an official maintained there is no scarcity there. The villagers claimed that although2 water supply schemes Koti to Kota Top and Shaddal to Kota Top are meant to serve their village, not a single connection has been provided to them. However, Executive Engineer, Special Division (Gandoh-Bhalessa) rejected these allegations, saying the village does not have any water problem.

Rajasthan Railway supplying potable waters to arid districts for last 14 years The water train to Marathwada is making no waves in this part of the country. For 14 years now, arid Rajasthan has been using the Railways to get its districts water. This year since January, the state’s Public Health Engineering Department has been running a 50-wagon train from Ajmer to Bhilwara daily, carrying 25 lakh litres —the same as planned for Jaldoot eventually. Data with the North Western Railway shows that between April 2002 & Oct 2002, water trains made a total of 243 trips from Ajmer to Abu Road & to Sojat Road and Bomadra. A severe drought had been declared that year in all the districts of the state.

Op-Ed Wrong farming policies main culprit behind distress in rural India by NC Saxena Drought cannot be blamed entirely on monsoon failure or on climate change; a flawed agricultural policy is a bigger causative factor in the collapse of farm and dairy production in semi-arid regions. The policy approach to agriculture since the ’90s has been to secure increased production by subsidising inputs such as power, water and fertiliser; and by increasing the minimum support price, rather than by building new capital assets in surface irrigation, rainwater harvesting, improving credit for smallholders and evolving new drought-resistant technologies. Also see, Coping with water wars another op-ed by Shreekant Sambrani Its a generally sensible piece is marred by this totally misguided advocacy for ILR.

IRRIGATION   

Maharashtra More than 85 irrigation projects incomplete for past 30 years Data from the Irrigation Development Corporation has also revealed that cost overruns across 515 irrigation projects in the state amount to a whopping Rs44061.81Cr & the total amount estimated for these projects was Rs 97K cr. The state now requires Rs 1.25 lakh cr to finish the incomplete projects. Govt sources say that after an investment of Rs 70K cr over the past 10 years, a large number of projects are still languishing incomplete. Of the total 515 projects, 85 were started 30 years ago, 61 projects 20 years ago, 78 projects ten years ago, 179 projects 5 years ago & 11 projects less than 5 years ago. Also see, Rs97000cr required to complete 515 irrigation projects: CAG report

Maharashtra irrigation scam Contractor evaded crores in govt levy: CAG The CAG has found that FA Enterprises, who was awarded a contract to build a dam over the Balganga river in Raigad, had underpaid the royalty he was entitled to for excavation of the sand used for the project to the tune of Rs 3.44cr. The issue of the dam & awarding of the contract to FA Enterprises has been surrounded by controversy for several months now. The govt has accepted the CAG findings. Also see, 3 more arrested in Balganga irrigation scam

Telangana PMKSY funding for 11 projects likely According to Irrigation minister T Harish Rao the cabinet sub-committee of Union water resources ministry has agreed to include 11 state irrigation projects in the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. The news report also mentions that the Centre in principle has agreed to take up Komaram Bheem, Gollavagu, Ralla Vagu, Mathadi Vagu, Pedda Vagu, Jagannadh project, Palem Vagu, SRSP second phase, Rajiv Bheema lift irrigation, Devadula project under priority scheme & Indiramma flood flow canal under the second priority scheme.  

DAM  

Centre Only 24% of water left in India’s 91 key reservoirs With the mercury soaring across the country, the water storage availability at India’s 91 major reservoirs has dipped to 37.92 billion cubic metres, which is just 24% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. With the India Meteorological Department predicting abundant rainfall this year, it is expected these reservoirs will get enough water during the June-Sep period.

Madhya Pradesh To save Skimmer govt tells Rajasthan not to open dam gates  State Govt. has requested Rajasthan not to discharge water from its 3 dams on Chambal River till the first week of June to save Indian Skimmer, an endangered bird found in the National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary. The reason for concern unhabited islands in the downstream, where these birds lay eggs, get inundated when large volumes of water is released. Chambal is currently home to the biggest population of the Indian Skimmer in the world. According to state forest department last year gushing water had washed away turtle and Skimmer nests and currently there are 24 nests carrying 78 eggs at the islands.

Haryana Kaushalya Dam progress mired with corruption A Pinjore-based NGO had alleged that nearly Rs217cr had reportedly been spent on the project, which was supposed to be completed in Rs51cr raising suspicions on the intentions of the previous govt. Similarly, the width of the wall of the dam was extended from 12m to 30m by the department, which increased the construction value from Rs 118cr to Rs180cr. The Haryana Urban Development Authority had spent Rs 23cr to lay a pipeline from the dam to Panchkula city to provide drinking water to the residents. However, the project failed to serve the purpose as the water in the dam is inadequate.

Karnataka Maha govt releases water from Kalammawadi dam The Water Resources Department has started releasing water to Karnataka from its Kalammawadi dam across the Dudhganga river, a tributary of the Krishna river in Kolhapur district, since 14 April 16. The river water, entering through Rajapur barrage across the Krishna on the Karnataka-Maharashtra boundary, was seen cascading into the Krishna river course near Yadur in the afternoon on 15 April 16 & subsequently, at Kallol Bridge in Chikkodi taluk around 4pm. Also see, MLA proposes third dam across the Swarna

HYDRO POWER 

National India leads world in environmental conflicts There are more environmental conflicts in India than any other country, and more clashes are over water (27%) than any other cause, according to the recently released Global Environmental Justice Atlas. The conflicts over water are most evident in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, and most are related to hydroelectric projects, often planned without considering needs and consent of local communities. Similar conflicts have been recorded in Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Orissa and Sikkim, among other states. Dams are persistent sites of conflicts, especially when they are being built and commissioned.

Centre Enough generation capacity to make up for hydro power shortfall According to Piyush Goyal Power Minister India has enough thermal and gas based power generation capacities to make up for shortage due to lower hydro power output in view of water scarcity in the country. The minister also informed that PTC India is developing an app for trading of power on mobile phone which would be launched within 4 weeks time. The minister also asked states to provide all data regarding their sale and purchase of power on the portal to encourage transparency & also urged the states particularly Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to formally join UDAY scheme meant for revival discoms.

Arunachal Center to help Arunachal harness power The Power Minister has assured central grants for development of small power projects across the state, funds for erection of transmission lines and for release of the balance amount of Rs 14.85cr. He further pointed out that the state government is now faced with a situation where there is the idea of scrapping many of the larger projects for which MoAs have been signed. Calling it as a potential problem area, the CM said there is the issue of litigation and repayment of the up-front payments, the processing fees and the compensation for land paid to the public. These are signs of things to come.

Himachal Govt failed to levy Rs 209 cr fine on JP Power: CAG The State govt, despite its precarious fiscal health and high debt exceeding Rs35K cr, allegedly gave undue benefits to the tune of Rs209.28cr to Jaypee power company, which owned the 1000Mw Karcham Wangtoo hydel project in Kinnaur district. The project has already been sold to another power developer for which the state government had given its permission last year. CAG report reveals how collusion between HP govt and Karcham Wangtoo owner JP Associates led to loss of Rs 209 crores to the public. In one more news report CAG finds that less than 1% solar power tapped It seems other Himalayan States also fair poorly when it comes ot promotion of solar energy which is ideal for them as the demand and use of energy is lower than mainland areas.

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Open letter to Rajendra Singh: Do not disregard environmental needs of the Mhadei River Basin Guest blog by Chicu Lokgariwar As an individual who has adopted the title of ‘waterman of India’, it is obligatory for you to consider all the facts, to weigh the issues at stake in an unbiased manner, and finally, to commit no injustice. And that is why I do find some comments made by you to the press problematic in their bias. The principles of working with people & arriving jointly at a sustainable solution to their needs, of protecting the earth’s resources, is what we expect of you. Not advocating environmentally and socially unsound inter-linking of rivers.

Op-Ed Do not kill a river by Vikram Soni Before we think of linking rivers it is a good idea to understand that a living and healthy river must flow. If the flow is obstructed or diverted the river cannot perform its natural functions and will degrade and become sick much like the blood flow in our bodies. In a study on ecological flow, it has been found rain-fed Indian rivers need over 50% of rainfall to transport the silt that is washed down during the monsoon to avoid the riverbed getting clammed. And they need 60% of their virgin flow in the lean season to avoid algal choking. Readable op-ed by Vikram Soni highlighting negative side of drying rivers, floodplain encroachments & interlinking of rivers.

Maharashtra MPCB inquiry into fish death, Kasadi river pollution The MPCB regional officer has  ordered a thorough probe into the death of fish in a pond in Kopra village close to Roadpalli, near Kasadi river, which flows from Taloja to Belapur creek. According MPCB the samples of pond and river water and the dead fish will be tested. The dead fish will be sent to forensic laboratory while the water samples will be tested at the MPCB lab. Fishermen say that this happens routinely & the fish died overnight. The ground water has been polluted and whenever untreated effluents are released into the river system. Also see, Don’t allow untreated sewage water into rivers, lakes: Expert

Karnataka Govt. set to tap Krishna, Sharavathi to quench Bengaluru thirst The state govt is looking at other rivers to quench Bengaluru’s thirst by getting water from river Krishna & river Sharavathi at a distance of 500km & 370km away from Bengaluru.  The water proposal will cover Kolar and Chikballapur too. The IT city needs 1300 MLD and is largely dependent on Krishna Raja Sagar reservoir. Kolar needs 160 MLD and Chikballapur needs 150 MLD; both are largely dependent on groundwater.  According to Water Resources Minister M B Patil, the ongoing Yettinahole project, where they are planning to draw water from Nethravathi river to Kolar and Chikballapur, will be unable to provide sufficient water.

Agumbe’s fall from grace a man-made crisis: Experts Agumbe, which was considered the Cherrapunji of South India not so long ago for its record rainfall, is not only receiving less rainfall during monsoon now, but is also staring at a water crisis during summer in the last 3 to 4 years. Water in River Tunga at Sringeri in Chikkamagaluru district has fallen to a worrying level. If the situation continues, the chances of fish surviving in the river are bleak. Experts say this is a manmade crisis.

Decreased water flow affects Mahseer fishes in Sullia temple rivulet The decreased flow of water into the water pit and warm conditions are posing a hazard to the fishes in the sanctuary adjacent to famous 13th century Mallikarjuna temple in Thodikana Village, at the foothills of the Western Ghats, Sullia taluk, about 100 km from Mangaluru city. According to local people, the river had dried only twice during the last 20 years in 1983-84 and 2002-03. There was fish mortality during the April months of the year 1991- 92, 2000 and 2003 due to decreased flow and warm conditions.

Tamil Nadu Plastic waste in rivers a threat, warns experts The city’s waterways are being choked by plastic waste that is likely to poison marine life and in turn enter our food chain, causing severe health problems, warn experts shocking but true. Ocean just giving back all that we are putting in it. Also the plastic micro beads from cosmetics are poisoning our salt. Govts. seem least bothered on the issue. Moreover most of the solid waste in North India including Himalayan states ends up reaching ocean via streams & rivers. Good South Indian cities keep raising this especially post Chennai flood. Because the enormous plastic waste has been chocking waterways & rivers there increasing flood impacts.

GANGA Uttarakhand Tehri Dam: 10 years of injustice A documentary film directed by Vimal Bhai, Matu Jansangthan as a testimony to the human and ecological crisis that has emerged in the Himalayan region after the construction of dams such as Tehri which have ruined the lives and livelihoods of local communities and caused irreparable. The film captures the hardships braved by people who were displaced by the multipurpose dam project. It particularly focuses on the resettlement site, new Tehri, which has been a disaster for the displaced people. Proponents cite the dam’s benefits, saying the reservoir stores water for irrigation, supplies some drinking water to Delhi & other locations, and runs a 1K Mw-capacity hydropower facility. But critics say the people displaced by the project were left in the lurch.

Centre Water Ministry enters into pacts with Germany, Israel & UK Grappling with water shortage and pollution in key rivers, the Ministry of Water Resources is entering into a slew of agreements with Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom to learn how they cleaned and revived key rivers as well as used technology to manage drought and used sparse water better. On 13 April, the MoWR signed an agreement with Germany to help with cleaning the Ganga. Germany, that will contribute Rs.22.2Cr to the endeavour, will provide technical consultancy to deal with industrial effluents in Uttarakhand, before they empty out into the river. In the case of Israel, the Ministry said, technologies for water purification and filtration were likely to be shared. Lessons we can learn from Europe’s Rhine river cleaning It sounds nice but the concept has not worked here so far. JICA is more or less same thing sharing of sewarage treatment technology. The results are before all of us to see. So the question here is how developed countries managed to clean their rivers and why those solutions are not working in developing countries.

New Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies National Mission for Clean Ganga under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IITK) announced the formal launch of Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies on 17 April 2016. The Ministry signed a 10 year Memorandum of Agreement with IITK for provision of continual scientific support in the implementation and dynamic evolution of the Ganga River Basin Management Plan.

‘Swachh Ganga: Gramin Sehbhagita’ joint meeting held A joint Meeting for addressing the status, issues, challenges and feasibility of synergization of Government schemes for taking the ‘Swachh Ganga: Gramin Sehbhagita’ programme to the next level was held on 10 April at Haridwar. The deliberations took place on themes of Ganga Gram- rural sanitation, bio-diversity conservation, afforestation and on eliciting active participation of the people at grass root.

Uttar Pradesh Ganga water level at a record low in Bijnor According to Irrigation Department on 11 April 2015, the river recorded the lowest water level in the past five years. While there was over 13,761 cusec water in the river last year on 11 April 2016, there was only 892 cusec water in the river on Monday. Experts feel scant winter rainfall & snowfall in hilly areas as a major reason for the low flow of water in the river. All the tributaries of the Ganga, and even the East Ganga canal and Madhya Ganga canal, are completely dry. All districts through which the river flows will be adversely affected due to the fall in the water level of the Ganga.

Hundreds of fish die of excessive water pollution in Ramganga Hundreds of dead fish washed up on shores of Ramganga river in Moradabad district on 17 April due to excessive water pollution. The oxygen level in the river has reached subnormal level due to a large amount of industry waste and domestic sewage being discharged into it. Mass death of fish around the Ramganga is not new. Similar incidents have been reported in Moradabad several times over the years as well as in other cities, including state capital Lucknow.

CPCB issues notice to Jal Nigam Central Pollution Control Board issued a notice to the managing director, Jal Nigam, asking him to explain within 15 days why the industrial units polluting Ganga should not be closed as Jal Nigam has failed to treat the industrial effluent. According to sources in the Jal Nigam, the contents of the notice clearly stated that pollution in Ganga had increased in recent times due to the non-functioning of the common effluent treatment plant.  Will this lead to any change in situation on ground? Not very likely considering the past.

YAMUNA SANDRP Blog Yamuna Jayanti: On an unforgettable river journey through pictures While thousands of devotees and dependents seek Yamuna’s blessing & wish the river to flow eternally & keep providing sustenance and livelihoods to millions on the occasion to celebrate the day SANDRP has managed to collect the latest pictures of the River all through its entire 1376km length right from Yamnotri the origin place till it merges into Ganga at Allahbad. The pictorial report clearly shows the bleak future of the river which is also the largest tributary of our national river the Ganga.

Haryana CM calls up Uma for funds for Lakhwar dam Manohar Lal Khattar on 15 April visited the Lakhwar multipurpose project here & rang up Ms Uma Bharti regarding sanction of funds. Lakhwar dam will prove biggest of all threats for River Yamuna in its homeland. The impact will be greater than that of Tehri is having on Ganga. The site is infested with landslide as shown in google pics. See SANDRP detailed blog on the issue. The CM is reported to have got a positive response from Bharti. How can she allow Lakhwar on Yamuna the largest tributary of Ganga while opposing same on Ganga. Lakhwar matter has already reached NGT where Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has challenged the construction of dam on the basis of clreances granted in 1980s.

Delhi YJA raises concerns over pseudo bridges on Yamuna In recent times many bridges have been raised over Indian rivers in general and on river Yamuna in particular which are invitation to disasters, as they have considered only the lean season river channel for bridging purposes with rest being cross embankments raised as access roads in the active flood plain. The reason why we call these as pseudo bridges. There are many such bridges over river Yamuna in Delhi and but for a timely intervention by the Yamuna Standing Committee in MOWRRD & GR, there might have been more in the making.

AOL Row Month after AOL stage on Yamuna bed finally dismantled The area is now barricaded and boards that stated, ‘Property of the Delhi Development Authority, trespassers will be prosecuted’ can be seen across the venue. This is sad. It seems floodplain farmers will not be able to cultivate the land grabbed by AOL as DDA has restricted tress passing & may be planning to convert it into an “exotic biodiversity” park.                                                                                    

FLOOD

Andhra Pradesh Expert help on the way for flood-prone Amaravati The govt on 16 April has issued a G.O for constituting an expert committee which will study flood management of Kondaveeti Vagu and its in-fall drains and suggest cost effective and ‘fail-safe’ solutions to ensure that the capital city Amaravati is free from inundation even under maximum flood conditions either from Kondaveeti Vagu in Guntur district or from the River Krishna.

SAND MINING     

Madhya Pradesh Journalists attacked by sand mining mafias In the night of 16 April, a reporter & camera person of a regional television channel, were attacked by the goons of sand contractors in Hoshangabad district. It is alleged that mining officers are hand in gloves with mining contractors. There had been similar attacks of forest and administrative officials in the same region earlier also, but no cohesive action was taken by the govt. In 2014 also 4 including a police constable were injured when sand mafia attacked a mining inspection team in same district. 

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

Puducherry Saved by tanks The East Coast of India is very much unlike its western counterpart both in terms of physiography & climatology. Unlike the West Coast which receives a predictable amount of rainfall within a predictable time frame, the East Coast is entirely dependent on the depressions in the Bay of Bengal to bring in the much needed rain. Due to the absence of a set pattern and the erratic nature of rainfall, the engineers of ancient times came up with a fool-proof solution constructing tanks to hold the water. Interesting story about how rehabilitated tanks saved Puducherry from floods.

Delhi Residents and government join hands to save Naini Lake The Delhi & Centre Govts have put aside their political differences to revive Naini lake a dying water body in the heart of the capital city. This is a big victory for the local residents who have put pressure on officials to revive the natural lake for almost a year. Residents’ campaign to save a dying lake in the capital of India declares victory. Minister says it will be a role model for the rest of the water bodies in Delhi. Good to see this cooperation between Delhi govt and residents of Naini lake following citizens’ pressure to revive the Naini lake, hope it leads to successful revival of the lake.

WATER     

Centre White Paper on urban wastewater PPPs released Govt releases white paper on urban wastewater PPPs at India Water Week 2016. The Ministry of Water Resources has released a white paper on Urban Wastewater Public-Private Partnerships prepared by the FICCI Water Mission and 2030 Water Resources Group, at the recently concluded India Water Week 2016. The paper titled ‘Model for Efficient Water Management at Local Level in Urban/ Peri-Urban Areas’ aims to serve as a valuable resource to assess current constraints faced by PPP projects and develop innovative ways to involve the private sector in the sewerage space. Interesting from India Water Portal, the paper by FICCI Water Mission and 2030 Water Resources Group is released by Secretary MoWR! Also see, India Water Week-2016 Concludes

Rajasthan Temple to be built at ‘mysterious’ water outflow spot in Jaisalmer For the past three years, water is gushing out from underground at a particular spot in Poonam Nagar village. Several scientists have visited since but have not been able to provide any explanation about this; following which the villagers have decided to term this as a miracle and announced to build a Lord Shiva temple at the spot. Strange but interesting: water is flowing out of groundwater aquifer for the last 7 years, but it seems there is no report or study from CGWB or SGWB about this.

Maharashtra IIT-B takes up surface water management study The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay and the Maharashtra state water resources department have joined hands to understand the water issues in two talukas & design a system that could help the administration ensure water for all. The study will be conducted in Sangamner taluka of Ahmednagar district and Osmanabad taluka of the drought-hit Osmanabad district. This IIT-B pilot project would later be extended to all the drought-hit talukas of the state.

Interview Water quality a disaster to happen Indira Khurana co-author of ‘Reflections on Managing Water, Earth’s Greatest Natural Resource’ says that a good monsoon will not wash away our water woes unless we must make it a point to harvest every drop and that India must first acknowledge that there is a problem in our water management policies. She further says that water quality is a disaster waiting to happen as almost half the groundwater reserves are polluted which will have great implication on health, well-being & GDP.

MONSOON

IMD Above normal monsoon this year The India Meteorological Department on 12 April said that monsoon this year will be above normal. This comes after two years of below normal rainfall and it will come as big relief for the economy and the corporate sector. It further added that Indian monsoon may be 106% of long period average this year. The Southwest Monsoon is considered as the lifeline of the Indian sub-continent. The Met department officials further added El Nino weather pattern is gradually fading and giving way to La Nina. The second monsoon forecast will be released in June. Skyment, a private weather forecasting agency, has also predicted an above normal monsoon this year. We all wish IMD’s predictions are correct this year! Also see, One good monsoon will not unmake two years of drought two years. The IMD is yet to come out with a detailed forecast of rains region-wise.

SOUTH ASIA

Nepal Repairs at 250-kw Syarputal small hydropower plant Repairs are nearly complete at the 250-kw Syarputal small hydropower plant in Rukum district, Nepal. According to local reports, a new intake is being constructed, two new turbine-generators are being installed in the powerhouse and the project’s canal is receiving much needed maintenance. The plant is expected to begin generating power by May and provide energy for about 5,000 households in the district’s headquarters in Khalanga. The Japan International Cooperation Agency is implementing the repairs through funding and a grant agreement with the government of Nepal as part of the Project for Micro-Hydropower Improvement in the Western Development Region of Nepal.

Fire & Smoke in Nepal forest On April 11, 2016, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of fires burning across Nepal. Red outlines indicate hot spots where VIIRS detected warm surface temperatures associated with the fires. Plumes of smoke have dispersed across the country. Nepal’s forest fire activity tends to peak at this time of year. Nepal lost massive 13000 sq km of forests in fires this summer, now is the peak time for such fires, see red spots indicating fires in this detailed NASA map.

Bhutan Solar push in India will not affect Thimpu hydro market According to power secretary India’s drive to augment its power generation capacity by 3-folds to 800Gw by 2030 and emerge as a power surplus country will not distress Bhutan’s energy market in India. He further said that Kuri Gongri and Sankosh are still on cards with DPRs under preparation and also India Bhutan Bangladesh trilateral cooperation is also on card for the Kuri-I or the Rothpashong hydropower project in Bhutan. And that even with India developing massive capacity addition in renewables, Bhutan’s power export to India is secure.

Pakistan Northern area faces worst landslides in history Torrential rain this week has triggered extensive landslides across northern Pakistan, resulting in high losses.  Over 140 people have died and more than 1K houses have been damaged across northern Pakistan since heavy rain deluged the mountainous areas between the 9th and 20th of March, according to the National Disaster Management Authority.  In nearby Chitral district, eight children were buried under a land slide that hit Susom village, 40 kilometres north of Chitral town. Landslide damage in the mountainous region has been magnified by unsafe construction and poor planning. 25 people buried in massive landslide in Northern Pakistan on 05 April 2016, following rains in March end and earlier in March, the number of dead are more than 100.

China River turns red due to pollution Zhongting River in China’s northern Hebei Province has turned red due to pollution from local iron and steel plants. The reports of the polluted river come days after the govt said that over 80% well water in rural areas ‘unsafe because of pollution’  

REST OF THE WORLD 

US Authorities fined Belo Monte dam for fish deaths Brazilian environmental authorities have fined $10 million Norte Energia the company that operates the controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric power station for causing the deaths of 16.2 tons of fish in the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon where the dam is located.  The company also presented “partially false information” about the hiring of personnel to rescue fauna from the river and thus failed to comply with one of the conditions of its operating license, which Ibama issued late last year. According to several estimates between 16K & 25K people were paid to leave their homes to make way for the dam.

Key dam funders withdraw support after murders in Honduras Two major financiers of the Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras have suspended their financial support in the wake of the high-profile murders of Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia, activists who opposed the dam. The banks have not formally pulled out of the project yet. They suspended their support after Cáceres and Garzia were killed, due to immense public pressure.  Under international law, indigenous peoples have the right to prior informed consent, a kind of veto power over projects in their territories.

The risky business of hydropower in the Amazon Experience of previous and ongoing Amazon hydropower projects has shown that dams can wipe out huge areas of habitats such as alluvial forest that are dependent on seasonal flooding & have devastating impacts on populations of fish and aquatic reptiles and on the life cycles of mammals such as turtles, caimans, otters and river dolphins. Enthusiasts of Amazon development try to justify such woeful environmental and social impacts by claiming that hydropower dams are a carbon-neutral source of energy that will help to save the world from climate change. Unfortunately, such claims do not stand up to analysis.

Water wars threaten America’s most endangered rivers According to an annual report from the Washington, D.C.-based conservation group American Rivers The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida tops a new list as the most endangered river in the U.S. this year,. Second most endangered is the San Joaquin River in northern and central California. Other rivers high on the list include the Susquehanna in Maryland and Pennsylvania, the Smith in Montana, and the Green-Duwamish in Washington. Also see, Water woes divide California into haves, havenots

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Treating soil differently could help it store a huge amount of carbon The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature. While there is some scepticism about the actual numbers here, there is no doubt that soil carbon can and the way we preserve it or increase (through organic farming, SRI, etc) is going to have a significant role in the way we experience climate change.

ENVIRONMENT

National New thermal plant regulations welcome, but the proof will be in the eating For the first time ever, new regulations from the environment ministry require coal-based thermal power plants to stick to legally binding limits for water consumption. Shripad Dharmadhikary examines the implications of these rules with respect to the water consumption limits of coal based power plants.  New Norms require significant reduction in water consumption at new Thermal Power stations from 2017 onwards. But one wonders how many new TPS will come in future. More importantly, as the author suggests, it may be good idea to ask existing and under construction plants to use certain basic norms.

Delhi’s houses built on sand The Himalayas, and the rivers that flow out of them, are a gift of the collision of the south Asian land mass into the Asian continent. As a result, the Himalayan region is also beset by a third “gift”: earthquakes. The earthquake that hit Nepal on 25 April 2015, accounting for thousands of deaths, reinforced the link between the mountains and earthquakes, but the other linkage – between earthquakes and rivers – is less well understood. This linkage, though, is most prominent in the city of New Delhi, the capital of India. Built upon old riverbeds and marsh, many of Delhi’s houses are built on soil that will turn to jelly in an earthquake.

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 11 April 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 04 April 2016

 

 

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