DRP News Bulletin 16 May 2016 (Water conservation: Lessons from ancient India)

Water conservation: Lessons from ancient India As drought-like conditions have gripped many parts of India this year, the pressure to drill borewells in search of increasingly scarce groundwater has escalated. Many regions are in the grip of a vicious cycle of drilling causing the water table to sink further. There is an urgent need to explore what benefits water conservation can bring, whether through modern or ancient water storage structures. This report explains, ecologically safe engineering marvels of water conservation have existed in India for nearly 1,500 years, including traditional systems of water harvesting, such as the bawari, jhalara, nadi, tanka, and khadin. Even today these systems remain viable and cost-effective alternatives to rejuvenate depleted groundwater aquifers, according to experts. With govt support, these structures could be upgraded and productively combined with modern rainwater-saving techniques such as anicuts, percolation tanks, injection wells and subsurface barriers. This may be a far more sustainable approach to alleviating the water scarcity crisis across India. Ultimately, water conservation has to be a key element of any strategy to bring an end to India’s perennial swings between drought and flood.

DROUGHT OPTIONS

SANDRP Letter to PM Devise a policy for curbing hydropower water diversions during drought years Since past three years, SANDRP has been raising the issue of West-ward water transfer during drought years by hydropower dams. Maharashtra annually diverts 3324 Million Cubic Meters of water from its water deficit Bhima and Krishna basins into the water surplus Konkan basin for hydropower generation. During this drought, which is possibly Independent India’s worst droughts, Tata Dams have released nearly no water to the Bhima Basin and Maharashtra Government on its part has taken no stand on this issue. After raising this issue several times at many platforms, SANDRP has sent a letter to the Prime Minister as well as to the National Human Rights Commission on this issue. If you agree with the points raised in the letter below, please send similar letter to the authorities.

Expert Speak India facing its worst water crisis ever: Himanshu Thakkar  Today groundwater is India’s water lifeline, as most of our water comes from it and in every water sub-sector the dependence on groundwater is increasing with each passing year. So whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not, groundwater is our water lifeline. Our water policy, programmes and projects need to focus and prioritise how to sustain the groundwater lifeline. Will Inter linking of rivers (ILR) help achieve that? The answer is no. In fact, we also need to prioritise optimisation of use of our existing water infrastructure; second, making rainwater harvesting the central focus as that can help sustain groundwater. ILR is costly, environmentally destructive, socially disruptive and a non-optimum option, particularly in view of the changing climate, in addition to other issues. In this interviews water expert Himanshu Thakkar SANDRP tells that India needs a comprehensive water-use policy immediately.

Rajasthan How one woman made 100 villages in fertile  Amla Ruia has transformed the face of over 100 villages in Rajasthan by using traditional water harvesting techniques and building check dams. This is the story of how she made it all possible by engaging the local community and generating an income of Rs.300cr per annum for 2lakh villagers. In 1999/2000, when Rajasthan was going through a severe drought, Mumbai-based social activist Amla founded Aakar Charitable Trust & started constructing check dams near the villages. Her first project in Mandawar village showed great success and the farmers managed to earn as much as Rs.12cr within a year with the help of two check dams constructed by the Trust. Today, her Trust has constructed 200 check dams in 100 villages of Rajasthan, and impacted over 2 lakh people who earn a combined income of Rs.300cr per year.

Bundelkhand  Villagers crowd funding desilting of water bodies In Panna, from school-going children to pensioners, many have willingly deposited money in a special SBI account opened by the local municipal body. The Rs 23 lakh collected so far is being used for the deepening of the Dharam Sagar lake. Another Rs 85 lakh has come from elected representatives. The 261-year-old lake is spread over 75 acres, and as many as 75 dumpers, five excavators and 50 tractors, most of them given by locals, are engaged in deepening the lake and carrying away the excavated earth. The Tikamgarh municipal body is now deepening the Usha Kund in the Jamni river and pumping the water through a pipeline to Bari Ghat, where the armed guards were first deployed.

Andhra Pradesh तालाब सूखा तो ग्रामीणों ने उठाया बीड़ा उसे गहरा करने का ताकि ऐसी नौबत फिर आए यह आंध्रप्रदेशका ऐतिहासिक तालाब है। चार सौ साल पुराना। इस दौरान यह दूसरी बार सूखा है। पूरे 80 साल बाद। इसे हमेशा लाल कमल के फूलों से भरा रहने की वजह से alt147ऐर्रा कलव चेरूअ’ यानी लाल फूलों का तालाब के नाम से जाना जाता है। यह कृष्णा जिले में स्थित है। इसकी समुद्र से दूरी महज पांच किलोमीटर है। तालाब को सूखने को अशुभ मानते हुए ग्रामीणों ने इसे और गहरा करने का बीड़ा अपने हाथों में उठा लिया है।

DROUGHT 2016

Supreme Court  Frame national drought policy The Supreme Court on May 12 hit the reset button on drought management, directing the government to abandon the existing system and evolve a transparent, rules-based framework. The new policy will prescribe a standard methodology and time-frame for declaring drought. The court also directed the Union government to set up a National Disaster Mitigation Fund within three months. Prescribing this paradigm shift in drought monitoring and management, the apex court rapped state govts for showing an “ostrich-like attitude” and denying reality. During earlier hear last month on April 12 the SC has ordered the Centre Govt. to release MNREGA funds on time for drought-hit states The court also had directed the Centre to submit a detailed chart of 10 drought-hit states and specify the number of people and districts, including villages, affected by it. It further sought details about the notification on declaration of drought and budgetary allocations of NDRF and State Disaster Response Fund. Presenting it side before SC the Centre Govt. reported that onus of declaring drought rests entirely with State Govts  and it has only a limited role of providing funds and putting in place a monitoring system. But the apex court countered  the plea made by Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha stating that whether he meant that the Centre would refuse to take an initiative even if the problem of drought was grave and the apex court seized of the situation. Before this on April 07 the apex court pulled up Haryana, Gujarat, Bihar govts for their refusal to declare drought despite deficient rainfall. It was also noticed that the Centre and the state had different rainfall figures for Haryana but both the figures showed that the monsoon shortfall was more than 30% and going by the Centre’s manual 2009 and the relevant guidelines drought had to be declared if the deficiency was 25% or more. Haryana, however, said it was not declaring drought as there was no fall in its food grains production. Farmers mainly depended on river waters supplied through canals, besides tube wells. Similar reasons were advanced by Bihar and Gujarat, prompting the Bench to wonder as to why the Centre had come out with the drought manual if states were not to follow it.

Centre Govt showers funds on Swachh Bharat, starves drinking water Not only does the govt have a scheme for promoting rural drinking water, it has also been starving it of funds ever since coming to office. Since 2015, the National Rural Drinking Water Programme has survived on just a fraction of the money it used to get. The fall began, in fact, in 2014, when the NDA government changed its focus from drinking water to sanitation i.e. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. As a result, its work has taken a big hit. This is shocking revelation. Govt of India is starving drinking water schemes of funds since NDA govt came to power two years back, and also in this drought year. With water turning scarce, ‘swachhta’ becomes casualty & Only 1.8% got 150 days of work in drought-hit states: MGNREGA data

National Behind heroic tales of people digging wells for water, the story of govt failure Touching stories from this drought that also show government failure, as this story rightly highlights.  

Bundelkhand Armed guards protect last water in drought-parched Tikamgarh The drought-ravaged Bundelkhand  spread over MP & UP is suffering some of the worst drought in memory. Crops in the area have been badly hit, cattle are dying of thirst and lack of grazing, and there are growing fears that even drinking water could run dry before the monsoon is expected to begin in June.  Madhya Pradesh stores its share in five dams, including the Bari Ghat. But this year, water is available only in Bari Ghat dam. Water in the four other dams – Harpura, Charpuva, Madiya and Sudan – has run out. Also see, No water, no weddings in parched Bundelkhand & Drought pushes farmers to the brink in Bundelkhand

UP slams brake on Centre’s water-train to Bundelkhand The state govt, however, requested the Centre to provide it 10K tankers for distributing water in the region. Surprisingly the train will take water from Betwa basin which has water but considered as deficit basin to Ken Betwa basin which is drying fast but considered a surplus basin.

50 districts in UP the grip of drought 7 districts of Bundelkhand (Chitrakoot, Banda, Mahoba, Hamirpur, Lalitpur, Jhansi and Banda) are the worst affected. Since the Ken is drying fast and is expected to become shallow in May, villagers fear the worst, and in recent weeks many water fights have been reported.

Karnataka Water crisis forces State to shut down power station Acute shortage of water has severely affected power generation at two historic hydro-electric power stations at the hilly regions in Shivanasamudra, near Malavalli in Karnataka. While all 10 power generating units at the Sir K. Sheshadri Iyer Power Station the first hydro electric power station in Asia to start generation were recently shut down, power production at one of the two units at the Shimsha Hydro Electric Station was suspended a few days ago.

Wells run dry in Cauvery’s birthplace The irony can’t be harsher. Talakaveri, the birthplace of the Cauvery river, has no drinking water left. The open well in the village has dried up, causing hardship to pilgrims and residents alike.

Island in middle of the Krishna becomes desert People of the Neelakantarayanagaddi village in north-western Karnataka have always needed a ferry to reach the mainland. Living on an island in the middle of the Krishna river, they are virtually cut off for at least three months in a year when the river is in spate during the monsoon. Neelakantarayanagaddi is no longer an island. Severe drought has left the Krishna dry and the villagers now walk for miles on the parched riverbed for a pot of drinking water.

Dam water will last 20 days, Govt to rent borewells A major water crisis is staring at Karnataka with water levels in big reservoirs plunging to a new low. The available storage is expected to serve the state for the next 20 days. In a bid to tide over the crisis, the govt has issued orders to deputy commissioners in the state’s 30 districts to rent private borewells for a short duration and meet the drinking water requirements of the people

Migration turns into exodus in Raichur  This year’s drought, one of the worst in the past 10 years, has intensified migration phenomenon. In Raichur district, where vast tracts of lands are irrigated by the Tungabhadra Left Bank Canal and the Narayanapura Right Bank Canal, migration has been widespread only in rain-fed areas but this year the even irrigated belt have witnessed heavy migration as people did not get sufficient water even for their monsoon crops. The govt did not release water for the second crop as it wanted to utilise the limited water available in the reservoirs for drinking purposes. Exodus is rampant in Lingsugur, Manvi and Deodurg taluks of Raichur district, Kushtagi and Yalaburga taluks of Koppal district, and Surpur and Shahpur taluks of Yadgir district. Also see,  Drought forces farmers into Bengaluru slums

Telangana Drying Godavari water to quench thirst of Warangal, Kazipet, Hanamkonda The govt has sanctioned Rs.8.5cr for pumping of Godavari water from Devadula site to provide relief to the residents and officials of the Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation.  The pumping of water into Dharmasagar tank began on May 11.  The water level at the 3 summer storage tanks Bhadrakali, Dharmasagar and Waddepally is also reported as alarmingly low that there was not enough water to cater to the drinking needs of people.

Hyderabad stares at water crisis as reservoirs dry up 1st time in 30 yrs A second consecutive year of drought, rapidly falling ground water table and scorching heat have added to the woes of the Greater Hyderabad region that is home to over 1cr people. With drying up of traditional water sources the city is now banking on water supply from the Krishna and Godavari rivers. However, falling levels in reservoirs across the two rivers have sent alarm bells ringing. The levels in Nagarjuna Sagar and Yellampally reservoirs across the Krishna and Godavari rivers have reached dead storage. Also see, In parched Hyderabad, 5L litres of water goes waste after a rickety and rusted water pipeline, laid more than a decade ago, burst at Champapet in the wee hours of Wednesday. For as many as eight hours, water from the pipeline flowed on to the roads stretching up to distance of 3 km, with a major portion of it flowing into the open drain running along side the road. As a result of the leakage, many areas in the city had to go without drinking water. 

Water shortage hits textile units Drought conditions caused by monsoon failure have depleted groundwater table and dried-up most of the borewells in Sircilla and its surroundings along with the rivulet Manair. The water woes, in turn, have become a bane for many of Sircilla textiles workers as getting regular work has become a luxury for them since the units they are employed with have no dependable water source now.

Distressed Telugu farmers sell cattle, migrate as labourers Farmers in the worst-hit Mahabubnagar, Nizamabad and Nalgonda districts of Telangana and in perennially drought prone Anantapur district of Rayalaseema are selling away their cattle to slaughterhouses. With no fodder and water, small farmers are unable to maintain the cattle.  Govt has declared 231 mandals of 443 rural mandals in the state, drought-hit. In Andhra, 359 mandals of 670 have been declared drought-hit. The water levels in 14 major reservoirs have fallen alarmingly.

Andhra Pradesh  Nellore drought fuels migration Currently 33 of the 46 mandals in the district are experiencing drought conditions. The situation is more serious in the uplands mandals such as Udayagiri, Rapur, Duttaluru and other areas. With the failure of crops in these mandals, the rural workers have started migrating to urban centres, especially Nellore city, in search of work. Lack of timely rains has also hit farmers in coastal mandals like Sullurupeta, Doravarisatram, Vakadu, Chillakuru. Cattle owning farmers are worse off because of shortage of fodder in the villages in upland areas. They are demanding that the govt open fodder depots to save livestock.

Gujarat Ahmedabad: Tankers lifeline in village next to dam Bhakshi village is located upstream Dhatarwadi-I dam. Wells have gone dry. Authority unable to supply raw water from dam as there is no treatment plant. Villagers too can’t extract water from dam due to muddy banks. Desilting of dam is ruled out by hydrologists as the rock beneath is watertight. Water tankers have been pressed into service since Arpil 01. Now water harvesting is only options villagers are left with. Also see, Water Scarcity In Amreli

Haryana Farmers suffered losses in kharif crops A report of the Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agriculture University has revealed that farmers had to face losses in bajra and guar crops during the kharif season. The rainfall during the kharif season was, too, scanty. Despite failure of crops during the kharif season, the state govt has refused to admit that drought-like situation prevailed in the state and denied compensation to the affected farmers.

 It’s water over studies for children in Bhiwani village Water worries have worsened for villages at the tail end of canals in the district. Villagers, especially children, are a harried lot, who spend most of their time ferrying water from far and wide. In Dhani Mahu village of the district, the only water tank has gone dry, thus burdening children with the responsibility to arrange water. Pradeep Kumar, a village resident, said children spent most of their time fetching water than on studies. Also see, No brides for youths in parched Bhiwani

Rajasthan 19 districts drought-hit The desert State is in the grip of a water crisis with 19 out of the 33 districts being drought affected, with the govt sending water trains to parched Bhilwara and tankers to other areas facing acute shortage. Nearly 17000 out of the total 44672 villages are facing water crisis and transportation of water through rail in Bhilwara and by tankers in other areas has already started by the state public health and engineering department. Presently, 421 teams are working to repair nearly 7 lakh handpumps. Ajmer, Banswara, Baran, Barmer, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Churu, Dungarpur, Hanumangarh, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Pali, Rajsamand, Udaipur and Pratapgarh are the districts which are affected. Also see, Rajasthan to Haryana, villagers take the cue: Only water queues will do

West Bengal In this village of 70 wells, 65 dry up in four months  For the last four months, residents of Tarabari village in Matigara-Naxalbari constituency in Darjeeling district have seen all wells in their village dry up one by one. The 70 wells are govt-made, set up because of an acute water shortage. Political leaders have given them only “empty assurances”, say the villagers who now depend on the Balason river. Most of the 4,000 odd residents of the Tarabari village belong to the backward Rajbansi community and depend on the river.

Op-Ed  From Plate to Plough — The big thirst by Ashok Gulati  No doubt, one needs to invest more in irrigation. But the real issue is not that Maharashtra spent less on irrigation. The cumulative public expenditure for irrigation over these 10 years in Maharashtra works out to Rs 1,18,235 cr. During this period, the irrigation potential created (IPC) was 8.9 lakh ha and irrigation potential utilised (IPU) was just 5.9 lakh ha. This gives us the cost of IPU at Rs 20 lakh/ ha. Compare this with Gujarat, which spent only Rs 46,888 cr (at 2014-15 prices) over the same period and created irrigation potential of 22.5 lakh ha and utilised 17.3 lakh ha, with an IPU cost of only Rs 2.71 lakh/ ha. For MP, the similar cost works out to Rs 4.26 lakh/ ha over the same period. It’s why its costs are so high (Rs 20 lakh/ ha) compared to MP (Rs 4.26 lakh/ ha) and Gujarat (Rs 2.71 lakh/ ha). Is it really topography or the massive leakages in irrigation systems?

A drought of action by Jean Derez Finance Minister continued the unspoken policy (initiated by the previous government) of keeping the MGNREGS budget more or less constant in money terms year after year. If last year’s employment level is to be maintained this year, the Central government would need to spend at least Rs. 50K cr, rising to more than Rs.60K cr if arrears are to be cleared  a legal obligation since MGNREGS workers have a right to payment within 15 days. Yet the allocation for MGNREGS in this year’s Budget is only Rs.38,500 cr. Unless the Central govt accepts the need for a large injection of funds, MGNREGS employment is all set to contract again, or wage payments will be postponed — both would be a disaster in a drought year as well as a violation of people’s entitlements under the law. Also see, Only 1.8% got 150 days of work in drought-hit states: MGNREGA data

What does the drought teach us? by Kunal Shah Measures to ensure the complete implementation of Right to Food Act could be the first step. The MNREGS is yet to realise its potential, both in terms of ensuring the guaranteed wages reaching the rural poor, and in terms of creating more water storage structures. The CAG’s recommendation to create separate Disaster Mitigation Funds at national, state and district levels to boost the mitigation activities at each level could be considered.

Where is the need to politicise water issues? By Anish Dua Water is a complex system that encompasses related issues such as biodiversity, recharging of aquifers, cultural and religious ethos and the folklore of a particular area. In Punjab, the water-rich areas between two river channels, like Gurdaspur and its chhambs (wetlands), are fast turning into intensive agricultural fields and the dry southern districts are exhibiting water-logging; all this, thanks to the water wisdom of yesteryear. The recent war of words for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal is only the beginning of a concern that we are bound to witness in all its ugliness in times to come.

MAHARASHTRA DROUGHT

Govt steps in to guide farmers on crop pattern in drought-hit areas The state govt has sought the services of agriculture universities to provide expertise on crop patterns with a definite timeline adaptable to climate change to help the farmers in the drought-hit districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. The decision is to minimise the losses incurred by farmers in investments made in agriculture sector, specially in the 14 drought-hit districts of the state. The agriculture department is working to provide them technological know-how to ensure higher production of yield. There is a lot of emphasis laid on micro irrigation mechanism for water management and also on better quality of crops and horticulture produce.

Contrary to state claim, farmer deaths spike; Marathwada on top According to figures from the relief and rehabilitation department, 273 farmer suicides were reported from Marathwada in the first three months of 2016, 59 more deaths compared to last year. Vidarbha, on the other hand, has reported 264 suicides from Jan to March as against 333 during the same period last year. In Maharashtra, 657 farmers killed themselves from January to March this year while during the same period in 2015, 645 farmers had committed suicide. The total number of farmer fatalities last year was 3,228. Also see, 65 farmer suicides in three weeks in Marathwada

Discontent in villages around Latur Over 120 tankers visit the barrage every day to lift water to quench the thirst of people in Latur City, some 45 km from the barrage. The farmers of the 13 villages depend on Dongergaon barrage for water, but they are suffering due to the indiscriminate lifting of water for people in Latur City who did not manage their resources well when it was most needed. They allege that the water levels are depleting fast & it is unfair to force this situation on us for someone else’s mismanagement. The water from Dongergaon is being lifted since March 9, despite protests in some of the villages in the area, including Dongergaon, Halki, Shend and Wanzarkheda, among others. The growing discontent against the alleged high-handedness of the district administration over the last few days, & anger against the people of Latur City, are palpable in these areas which have been forced to share their water supply. Also see, In Latur, wells dry up for first time in 100 years

Villagers want water train to stop for them on way to Latur While district and railway officials are working overtime to get the 50-wagon “water train” rolling from Miraj, residents in Latur district, especially rural people living outside the city, seem agitated. The villagers, especially those living along railway tracks, plan to pressure railways to stop the train en route before Latur station, so they can get their stock of water. District collector Pandurang Pole said they were currently focusing on Latur city. Also see, Water train & beyond—how Latur is tackling drought & Not just Latur, in Marathwada, all towns are thirsty

Drought also hits Anna Hazare’s model village, water tankers on call For the first time in 3 decades, Ralegan Siddhi, the village much admired for its water conservation experiments and watershed projects, has been hit hard by a drought. This summer, Ralegan Siddhi is depending on water tankers as its water resources have dried up and Anna Hazare, the man who had pioneered watershed projects at this non-descript village in the parched region of Ahmednagar, is worried.

Maharashtra farmers resort to distress sale of cattle The Sunday markets in the villages bordering Beed and Aurangabad in Maharashtra are witnessing distress sale of cattle, with farmers resorting to desperate measures to cope with the acute shortage of fodder and water. For some, the sale of cattle is important to wipe off debt, and others need money to perform marriages at home. Most farmers arriving at the markets on Sunday had already lost some of their cattle to the searing drought, while others had run out of fodder and water.

Breweries agree to 5% additional cut in water supply due to drought Breweries in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district on Thursday agreed to a 5% cut in water supply every fortnight following a two-day deadline by the HC Bombay to decide their fate. This is over the 30% cut in water supply already imposed on them. The industry body declared their willingness at a meeting with the district administration attended by representatives of breweries and 13 beer units in the Waluj industrial area.

Moksha at stake as Pravara river dries up In a land where there is no water for the living, it would be too optimistic to expect some for a final send-off to the dead. The stretch of the Pravara river that passes through Kolhar village in drought-hit Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, has dried up, leaving not as much as a puddle for people to immerse the ashes of departed kin. Residents of villages across the district are facing a similar predicament, and, in their desperation to secure moksha for the deceased, have found a last resort in an unlikely place. Locals have been leasing water tankers to immerse the ashes. Also see, In barren Beed, requiem must wait for water tankers

It is a deadly walk to the well in drought-hit Beed As the severity of drought worsens in Marathwada, the scramble for water has made women and children most vulnerable to deaths by falling into wells. While the administration is not tracking these deaths, local journalists have pegged the figure at around 45 to 50 in the last three months. Deaths reported so far in local newspapers include that of 10-year-old Rajshree Kamble in Beed, Natabai Tekale in Latur, 16-year-old Komal Hande in Beed, 14-year-old Manohar Harale and Rohit Bhagat in Latur, Sahebrao Adgale in Beed.

Op-Ed A bitter sugar story by Girish Kuber  Govt after govt in the state has been run by those engaged in the gross misuse of water. They are called sugar barons, and they are large in number. This has resulted in the state witnessing a seemingly unstoppable increase in the number of sugar cooperatives. As of today, Maharashtra is home to over 205 sugar cooperatives. Add to this around 80 sugar mills that are privately owned. Maharashtra is the second-largest producer of sugar. In the last 3 years, the region has added 20 sugar factories, taking the total to 70 — even as villages are supplied with drinking water by trains and tankers. No wonder then that the groundwater table in Marathwada has hit rock bottom.

HYDRO POWER 

Arunachal  Centre to consult residents, monks on Tawang hydel projects According to Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju the govt has decided not to go ahead with the planned hydroelectric projects in the district without consulting the monks, a section of whom have been protesting against the dams.

SMRF rejects allegation of China’s role in anti-dam movement surfaces Lobsang Gyatso, senior lama at Tawang Monastery & head of the Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), said that discrediting our movement by linking it with China or any other country supposedly against India’s bid to be a major hydropower producer is mere baseless rumour and easy to make.

Hydropower project halted to save black-necked cranes Himanshu Thakkar SANDRP points out how the argument that the Naymjang Chhu is not part of the Tawang basin is faulty. He said that Tawang and Naymjang Chhu rivers meet downstream and hence the basins are the same. All projects on Naymjang Chhu should to be included in the cumulative impact assessment for Tawang. SMRF also suspects that the company might go to the Supreme Court and they are fighting for the whole district.

Rare primate sighted in Arunachal Pradesh A group of wildlife photographers and biologists in India have reported sighting of a new species of primate, the White-Cheeked Macaque, in Arunachal Pradesh.

Himachal Tribals oppose hydropower project in Kinnaur The decision of NGT to refer the 130MW Kashang hydropower project in Kinnaur district of back to the affected gram sabhas has left tribal residents opposing the project. Even the green activists feel that now, it would not be possible for the state govt and companies executing the project in the state to ignore voices of dissent. Local residents in the project-affected areas of Kinnaur and environmental activists had expressed their apprehensions about the project. However, seeing authorities go ahead with the project despite opposition from local people, Paryavaran Sanrankshan Sangarsh Samiti of Lippa village had filed an appeal. The appeal had challenged forest diversion on grounds that it had violated provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, which requires a mandatory no-objection certificate from gram sabha of villages affected by the project.

Govt. draws up plan to fast track hydropower projects With a view to avoid delays in execution of power projects due to time consumed in obtaining various clearances, time-lines have been prescribed under the HP Public Services Guarantee Act for time bound clearances and NOCs for setting up of Hydro-Power Projects.  Under the state sector,the 65 megawatt Kashang project,, 100 megawatt Sainj and 100 megawatt Uhal hydel power project would be commissioned during the current financial year. It seems Himachal Govt is learning no lessons from several hydro related accidents that have been taking place unabated. Instead of pushing forward hydro projects ignoring local protests and environmental issues the State should frame safety measures and ensure implementations and regular monitoring. Govt dicision to improve transmission and distribution lines is good. The State has already achieved 100% rural electrification in 1998.

Industry  Report says hydropower can provide India sustainable energy security According to the PwC report, which is titled “Hydropower@Crossroads,” nearly 75% of India’s total potential is concentrated in the north and northeast and regions. But, only about 7% of potential has been tapped in the northeast region. report also said in order to successfully increase project development, the govt needs to streamline licensing processes, create a sustainable business environment through fiscal incentives, develop new financing avenues and enable states to build supporting infrastructure. The PWC report is misleading and seems clueless on social & environmental implications of hydro projects in fragile Himalayas. Of long several projects are subjected to constant local resistance across Himachal, Arunachal & Assam. Couple of days back 130MW Kashang hydropower in Himachal has been rejected by locals and very recently NGT has scrapped 780Mw Nyamjang Chhu dam in Arunachal. The recent protest in Tawang resulting in killing of few locals and leaving many bullet hit was also against hydro projects. Subansiri lower HEP is stalled for years due to stiff local opposition. Locals and national politicians have also sensed the deadlock and refraining from making statements in favour of hydro projects.

GMR divests 30% in energy assets Bengaluru-based GMR Group will disinvest 30% in its 10 energy assets to a Malaysian power utility for Rs2000cr. The management committee of GMR Infrastructure Limited on May 9 approved the primary capital investment by Tenaga Nasional Berhad in GMR Energy Limited. Tenaga is the largest power utility player in Malaysia with a presence across the value chain of power generation, transmission and distribution.

Punjab Decade on, Upper Bari Doab canal project’s third stage terminated After remaining on paper for over a decade, the agreement to execute the ambitious 85 Mw hydel project over Upper Bari Doab Canal system has been finally terminated by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited. The corporation had signed an agreement with Bhilwara Energy Limited, which was to start work in 2007. Conceived as Upper Bari Doab Canal – Stage –III project, 5units were envisaged under the project. However, the project was never initiated.

Centre Few retail investors bid for NHPC shares NHPC share sale managed to scraped through despite poor response from retail investors to govt’s first disinvestment of the current financial year. The issue was saved by the participation of institutional investors, led by LIC, even there were no takers for 42% of the retail component of the issue. But the response to public sector undertakings has remained muted and it has fallen on shoulders of LIC to rescue most of the govt’s disinvestment programme. In fact, investors have questioned the need for the life insurer to bail out almost every issue that the govt has unveiled with some cautioning against using the state-run player to play such role. NHPC’s sale of over 125cr shares, or 11.4% govt stake, was over-subscribed 1.65 times, according to stock exchange data.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS  

KBL Ken-Betwa gets wildlife go-ahead before site visit report The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) on 10 May decided to clear Phase-I of the Ken-Betwa river linking project even though the expert committee constituted by the board is yet to submit its site visit report. Considering the impact of the project on the habitat and wildlife of Panna Tiger Reserve, the standing committee of the NBWL had decided in March that an expert committee would conduct a site visit and file a feasibility report within a month. The committee visited Panna in the second week of April and was supposed to submit its report by April 30. The agenda of meeting noted that the report was still awaited. Instead, a presentation was made, based on which, say sources present at the meeting, the standing committee chaired by environment minister went ahead and decided to clear the irrigation project. Most shocking news of the day, the govt is doing all the wrongs things on Ken Betwa, now Standing Com of NBWL clears it even before Panel report is submitted, this is clearly going to be challenged.

Wildlife board’s Ken-Betwa riders don’t impress experts According to experts the Ken-Betwa river-linking project will not only submerge a considerable area under “critical tiger habitat” inside the Panna Tiger Reserve but also submerge a part of vulture habitat and make it nearly impossible for the critically endangered gharials to make a comeback in Ken. It will also impact a large variety of threatened fauna like the grey-headed fish eagles and muggers. The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife which recently considered the wildlife clearance for the project, has now suggested a number of measures to mitigate the damage to biodiversity the project may cause. Sources in the NBWL said their clearance to the project is subject to safeguards.

Op-Ed  जोड़ के देख लो, सब नदियां लुप्त हो जाएंगी सरकारों को समझना चाहिए कि नदियां कोई सडक़, रेल पटरी, बिजली अथवा टेलीफोन की तारें नहीं होती कि उन्हें जहां मर्जी आए, वहां से जोड़ दिया जाए। क्योंकि नदियां सडक़ों या तारों की तरह निर्जीव नहीं होती। नदियां, अपने में संपूर्ण एक समग्र, सजीव प्राकृतिक प्रणाली होती हैं। जिन्हे हमने मां कहा, भला वे नदियां निर्जीव कैसे हो सकती हैं ? नदियों का भी हम सबकी तरह जीवन काल होता है। नदियों के जीवन की भी कुछ जरूरतें और नियम होते हैं। इसलिए नदियों को जोडऩा, देश की प्राकृतिक और भौगोलिक व्यवस्था और संपदा के सामने गंभीर संकट खड़ा करना है। नदियों को जोडऩे से नदियों के जीन.बैंक का संतुलन बिगड़ जाएगा, जिससे असाध्य बीमारियां जन्म लेंगी। बाढ़-सुखाङ की समस्याएं और विकराल रूप लेंगी।

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

MH&TS Defunct water body returns dam proposal Relations between Maharashtra and its newly-formed neighbour Telangana appear to have taken a hit after a proposal sent by the Telangana government to the state government for new dams on the Godavari and Pranahita rivers was sent back with a one-line reply: “We are currently without an authority”. Two similar proposals that landed at the MWRRA office since April 22, 2016 have also been sent back with the same response.  Section 11 (F) of the MWRRA Act empowers the quasi-judicial body to review and clear water resources projects while ensuring the proposal is in conformity with the integrated state water plan. It also reviews economic, hydrological and environmental viability besides state obligations under various awards. Defunct MWRRA returns proposals as it does not chairperson or crucial members, another sign of disastrous water resources handling in Maharashtra.

MH&KT Maharashtra, Karnataka fear losing flexibility on Krishna waters The Telangana govt has argued before the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) that Maharashtra and Karnataka opposed reallocation of water between the 4 riparian States as they apprehended losing in the process “comfort of flexibility” if en bloc allotment of water already done to them by the tribunal was withdrawn. While Maharashtra got 90% of the allocated water in the current year, Karnataka too was in a comfortable position having realised 2/3 of its share. On the other hand, AP & Telangana had a huge deficit getting only 89 tmc ft in Srisailam and Jurala reservoirs. The two States had not let down a single drop of water downstream which aggravated the drought situation in Telangana. Moreover, only 12.8% of allocation was made to Telangana though 20 per cent of the cultivable area of entire basin existed in the State. Indeed very important issues being discussed by KWDT on second day of hearing in New Delhi, it will decide the future of Krishna river itself

SYL Row Delhi withdraws support to Haryana in SYL case The Delhi govt on April 22 filed a fresh affidavit in the SC withdrawing an earlier written submission filed by its counsel Suresh Tripathy lending support to Haryana in its fight against Punjab, which has scrapped the acquisition of land for construction of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. In filing the fresh affidavit before the SC, it was mindful of the possible water crisis the national capital would face if it took a stand in open support of Punjab and annoy Haryana, which could trigger rationing of water supply to Delhi. On the other hand Punjab on April 09 pleaded the ing Supreme Court that the only way to resolve its disputes with Haryana and other states over the sharing of Ravi & Beas waters was to set up fresh tribunal to go into all aspects, including the riparian rights and the dwindling flow. On the other hand Centre Govt on May 12 told the apex court that states should settle dispute on SYL by themselves The Centre had in past few hearings had also said that it was not taking sides and was maintaining a neutral stand. 

RIVERS

Report on SANDRP Blog Go with the flow  A short survey of the subcontinent’s eternal river songs. SANDRPs piece on Bhatiyali the Eternal Song of the River republished in Scroll. We would love to know more about river songs from you.

Karnataka Rally against Yettinahole project A rally will be taken out in the city on 16 May to urge the State government to drop the on-going Yettinahole or Netravathi diversion project. The rally would be taken out under the auspices of the Netravathi Rakshana Samyukta Samithi, Dakshina Kannada, from Ambedkar Circle to the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

Water being pumped from Swarna river-bed Water is being taken with the help of three pumps from a pit in the Swarna river-bed from here to the Baje Dam in order to provide drinking water to Udupi. Drinking water to the city is supplied from the Baje Dam at Swarna River at Baje village about 20 km from Udupi. But the water level at the Baje dam is fast decreasing and stood at 2.08 metres on May 14. Hence the Udupi City Municipal Council took the decision of pumping water from a pit in the river-bed of Swarna here with the help of three pumps of 110 hp each mounted on three boats.

GANGA NGT  Nobody wants to do anything: NGT on Ganga pollution Irked by the lackadaisical approach of the authorities concerned in dealing with issues concerning pollution in the river Ganga, the National Green Tribunal on Wednesday observed that “nobody wants to do anything” on these aspects. The bench observed this while saying it has not received the reports about quality of water in the Ganga in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It, however, fixed the matter for hearing on May 20. On April 5, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board had informed the tribunal that it has identified 1,070 seriously polluting industries from Haridwar to Kanpur which discharge 219.18 million litres per day of effluents in the Ganga. Also see, Supreme Court to hear Ganga dams issue 

Centre  Ganga rejuvenation: Panel for new body to monitor work According to a report of Parliament’s Estimates Committee on Ganga Rejuvenation released on May 12 by Murli Manohar Joshi BJP Margdarshak Mandal member and the Chairman there is imperative need for setting up an overarching & all empowered apex authority/body tasked exclusively with the responsibility of rejuvenation of the Ganga so as to restore its pristine form as expeditiously as possible. The parliamentary panel expressed its concern over Ganga being listed among the 10 most polluted rivers in the world.

Uttarakhand चारधाम यात्रा में उमड़े श्रद्धालु, पर गंगोत्री में घाटों से रूठी गंगा देश की जीवन रेखा गंगा (भगीरथी) का जलस्तर गंगोत्री में काफी कम हो गया है। नतीजतन नदी घाटों से काफी दूर हो गई है। इसकी प्रमुख वजह बताई जा रही है हिमालयी क्षेत्रों में दम तोड़ते जा रहे ग्लेशियर और सर्दियों के दौरान कम बर्फबारी। विशेषज्ञों ने जलस्तर में कमी को पर्यावरण के लिए खतरे की घंटी बताया है। वैज्ञानिकों का एक दल गंगोत्री ग्लेशियर का अध्ययन करने 16 जून को गोमुख जाएगा।

Ground Report  Ganga India’s dying mother This graphic rich report is factually poor. In fact it hardly covers significant issues like how dams, hydro power projects and arbitrary water allocation through barrages destroying the river ecosystem greatly. The acceptance by Shashi Shekhar Secretary Water Resources that corruption and mismanagement is killing Ganga is also revealing.

YAMUNA Delhi NGT forms panel to inspect five DJB STPs The green court on May 8 has constituted a 5-member committee to inspect DJB’s 5 STPs, which are covered under first phase of clean river Yamuna project, to look into the effluent discharge and quantum of input and output. The bench also asked the committee to conduct an inspection within a week and to see whether water treated at these STPs could be recycled. The Tribunal’s direction came after senior advocate H S Phoolka, who appeared for DJB, said that they have filed an annexure along with an affidavit giving details of the ongoing works carried out by the board. The green panel had earlier warned the DJB officials not to play “smart game” on the issues concerning pollution in river Yamuna.

 Yamuna riverfront to be developed, but not on lines of Sabarmati Water Minister rightly says that Gujarat Model has turned Sabarmati into a pond which is filled by Narmada River water while the river has not been revived. But there are several doubts with Yamuna Riverfront Development plan also. Firstly the existing Yamuna bio-diversity park encircled by human habitations hence protected from annual floods. The proposed site is prone to flooding and will require creation of embankment for flood protection which will cut off the floodplain from river and also against NGT order. If the area is left open the recreational facilities name cycle tracks, pathways, parks etc will be subjected to flood damage and reoccurring maintenance cost. Can Delhi Govt. afford this? The area is also under seasonal cultivation by floodplain farmers who have no other source of livelihood. Will Delhi Govt provide employment to dependent and affected farmers? There is no effort by Delhi govt. to ensure environmental flow in the river? Also see, Can India’s Sacred But ‘Dead’ Yamuna River Be Saved? Photo essay on Yamuna.

AOL Row Contempt suit against Sri Sri for ‘disrespect’ to green tribunal With his Art of Living Foundation (AoL) yet to pay the major chunk of “environment compensation” for its cultural fest on the Yamuna floodplains, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was May 05 slapped with a contempt suit for “alleged disrespect shown by him to the orders of NGT”. The matter will come up for hearing before the Principal Bench of NGT headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar on May 10. Responding to its plea, the NGT had extended the deadline further to three weeks, which too lapsed on April 1 while AoL is yet to pay the balance amount. Earlier on April 22 DDA informed the NGT that the AOL foundation had not AoL foundation had not yet in writing handover the site where it organized event in March. The DDA’s statement came after a submission that a principal committee, constituted by the NGT, was prevented from inspecting the site on April 15 by AOL officials. This is yet another setback for the committee, which was to inspect the site and submit a report four weeks after event’s conclusion. The committee, in its report on Feb 20, had recommended a compensation of Rs 120 crore for the damage caused by preparations for the event on the floodplains.

Uttar Pradesh Govt to change course of Hindon for freight corridor The irrigation department’s plan to change the course of the Hindon river, near Safipur village, for over 800 metres in Noida and Greater Noida has got environmentalists worried. The course of the river is being changed to make way for a dedicated railway freight corridor project..  Resident, meanwhile, are threatening to move the NGT. Officials, however, say the project is essential to strengthen infrastructure in the region. Once the flow of the river is changed, the Indian Railways will begin work on the bridge across Hindon in June.

IRRIGATION  

Telangana Govt seeks Rs6700cr for irrigation projects to complete 11 irrigation projects including the Devadula project. According to this report the state govt received a positive response to the plea and also to a request that the state be granted interest-free loan for the irrigation projects completed within the stipulated time. In an official press release the Govt also sought that 60% of the project cost be given as grant and the rest be issued as NABARD loan at an interest rate of 4.5% per cent. The sub-committee decided to send its recommendations to the Centre hoping that the funds would be released at the earliest.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

National Wetlands are not wastelands Alarm bells are ringing for urban wetlands across India. Lakes, wetlands, aviaries, urban wildernesses have been the major victims of rapid economic development and consequent urbanisation. The rate at which the wetlands are being devoured by the expanding cities, it appears, most of our major cities would be left with no wetlands, which are a vital part of the earth’s ecosystem. The frenetic pace of urbanisation, particularly in States in Peninsular India, has wreaked the maximum damage to wetlands in and around cities. Bengaluru had 280 tanks, all interlinked with rajakaluves (canals), in the 1960s. Now, only 80 of them are identifiable, of which only 34 are fit to be called ‘alive water bodies’. According to environmentalist Karnataka has seen 50% decline in the area of wetlands since 1987.

Delhi  Sanjay Van, Neela Hauz Lake gasp for breath The DDA had earlier declared Bawa Potteries Complex as ‘Manufacturing’ (under the Master Plan of Delhi, 2001. However, in March 2016, the agency in an affidavit before the NGT declared the area as ‘Industrial’ under MPD-2021. This came as a surprise to residents of Vasant Kunj, Kishangarh and other neighbouring areas as many of them are still fighting a case of land acquisition, which is pending with the Lieutenant-Governor. As commercial units started to mushroom here, Sanjay Van, Neela Hauz Lake and other small water bodies began to feel the brunt. This was becasue these units lacked proper sewage.

Uttar Pradesh  Flora and fauna in parched Bil Akbarpur wetland under threat Wild animals in Greater Noida’s Bil Akbarpur area are facing a severe threat to life as the 68-hectare natural wetland is parched with temperature touching nearly 44 degrees. In an RTI reply in 2009, the district administration said that the Gautam Budh Nagar district has 16 wetlands. In 2011, in another RTI reply, the administration said that the district had six wetlands. According to the Wetland Rules 2010, each state had the onus of identifying and protecting wetlands. According to the survey of India map, 1971, a U-shaped water body exists in villages Chithara, Bil Akbarpur and Latawali in Greater Noida. A case for protecting the wetland was filed in May 2013. The NGT is scheduled to hear the case on May 20, 2016. About 230 species of migratory and permanent birds besides a wide range of other animals were a regular to the habitat before it was destroyed.

DAM  

Maharashtra Jayakwadi not worth a dam in Marathwada This is not the first time the dam, planned in 1965 as a solution to Marathwada’s scarcity woes, with a gross storage of 2909 mcm and a potential to irrigate 2.6 lakh hectares is in dead storage. Since it was commissioned in 1975, the Jayakwadi dam has reached the dead storage level — below 730 mcm — from where the water cannot flow out of the sluice gates and has to be pumped out for use – at least 10 times. Officials admit that on an average only 30 per cent of the dam gets filled, so instead of the planned 81 TMC of water, Marathwada gets only 24 to 26 TMC of water, even with good rain. According to experts, the government is to blame for this “man-made calamity”, as it has failed to implement irrigation and water use laws and allowed politics to hijack the vital resource.

Kerala Petition in SC seeks decommissioning of Mullaperiyar dam The petition filed by advocate Russel Joy claimed that the weakness of dam is an infringement of the fundamental right of security for the life and property of people living in the downstream in case of any catastrophe. The advocate also demanded of forming an expert committee with international expertise to examine the dam & decommission it. He also flayed the 2006 SC-appointed empowered committee stating the absence of experts in the panel. The SC in its May 2, 2014 verdict had held that the dam, which is 120 years old, is safe and allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 feet.

Punjab BBMB starts low-level inspection of Pong Dam The decision of Punjab and Rajasthan to defer repair work at the Harike barrage has enabled the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) to begin the much-needed low-level inspection of the Pong Dam in Himachal Pradesh to review the structural health of parts that remain submerged. Sources in the BBMB said the Punjab Irrigation Department had earlier scheduled to carry out repair of the barrage’s gates from April 25, which would have taken over two weeks to complete. However, at the coordination committee meeting held here on April 15, it was conveyed to the BBMB that the work had been postponed for the time being due to technical reasons. Also see, Plans to develop Ranjit Sagar Dam lake into a tourist spot are in limbo

WATER

Centre Conserve, harvest & don’t pollute surface water: Uma Bharati The biggest challenge is groundwater. Punjab and Haryana had a lot of groundwater but they adopted wrong, water intensive crops. The whole country will have to be prepared for rainwater harvesting. We have to protect groundwater, surface water and rain water. Groundwater usage should be restricted. Surface water should not be polluted. Rainwater harvesting should be mandatory, whether it is for homes, industries, restaurants or hotels. Statements made by Ms Bharati in her latest interview. She also stated that CPCB persons divert drain falling in Ganga at Garhmukteshwar in advance every time she visits there.

Water harvesting key to overcome scarcity: CWC  Planting of summer crops and drinking water supplies in several parts of the country could take a hit with water levels falling in several reservoirs, says GS Jha, chairman of the Central Water Commission (CWC) . He said Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra are among the worst hit. Water harvesting, efficient use of water for drinking and irrigation, and increasing capacity of storage of water in reservoirs, are the only solution to make the country face the challenge of consecutive drought years. Excerpts from GS Jha Chairman CWC interview.

Water conservation plan for HP, J-K villages Water scarcity is not restricted to the plains as is generally perceived, but is also seriously affecting many areas in the Himalayan eights that remain snow-bound for a large part of the year. The CWC has identified eight villages in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir to launch a pilot project for developing water security models that are compatible with local geographic, climatic and socio-economic parameters. The villages are Sunam and Jhooling in Lahaul and Spiti district, Puh town and Thanang in Kinnaur district, Gia and Shilawangla in Leh district and Stichting and Kaksar in Kargil district.

National Managing India’s freshwater While India has adequate freshwater, its spatial and temporal distribution is very skewed and usage inefficient and wasteful. The current drought in several parts of the country raises questions regarding how the management of the country’s water resources could be improved by reducing its dependence on the monsoon. The pace of run-off can be reduced through inter-basin transfers, new storage reservoirs, desilting, reviving traditional water storage structures such as ponds, dissemination of groundwater recharge technologies, and water harvesting structures such as check dams, open draw wells and rooftop devices. Also see, A social media campaign is urging restaurants to save water Jitni Pyaas, Utna Paani, a water-conservation campaign, is urging waiters to serve water only on request.

Delhi Tehri dam may spoil DJB’s summer plan A dip in the water level at Tehri dam could hit supply in the Capital this summer, even though the DJB says it is ready for the hot months ahead. The dam on Bhagirathi river gives Delhi about 470 cusecs of water through the Upper Ganga Canal. Of the 900 million gallons per day of treated water supplied by the DJB, 247MGD is from the Upper Ganga Canal – that is 27% of the supply. Apart from an increase in demand, the DJB also has to contend with increased ammonia levels that prevent treatment plants from working. Also see, Without water for two months, DU students protest

Himachal Water scarcity threatens Shimla’s tourism industry Once a favourite summer retreat of the erstwhile British rulers, Shimla is now so much in the grip of water scarcity that its hotels as well as guests have to fork out handsome amounts for every bucket they need. In most of Shimla, taps stay dry – water supply is restricted to once in two or three days. Some neighbourhoods receive tap water once a week. The owners and managers of Shimla’s 450 hotels, restaurants and guest-houses are a worried lot. Civic authorities say water shortage has become more acute since January 2 when supply from Ashwani Khud was stopped following a recent outbreak of jaundice. Ashwani Khud was the source of water for one-third of Shimla’s population before the outbreak of jaundice, supplying nine to 10 MLD. Also see, Been, Brandy nullahs to end Shimla’s water crisis

Water being supplied to McLeodganj unsafe Water being supplied to McLeodganj is not safe to drink. It is contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites. The damaged water pipes supplying drinking water in McLeodganj and the leaking septic tanks are to blame. The facts have come to the fore in a study carried out by Cynthia Travis, a hydro geologist from the US, who has been staying at McLeodganj for the past five years to study the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan language.

Dry spell results in water shortage in Hamirpur The prolonged dry spell has resulted in poor supply of drinking water in the district. People have to tread several kilometres to fetch water for their daily needs. Notably, there has been no rain in the district from almost a month and many of the water schemes were unable to meet the requirements. There were over 100 water supply schemes in the district that were constructed after spending over Rs 500 crore. Faulty handpumps forces Nurpur’s Jagnolli village without water for four days

J&K 11% drinking water lost daily due to leaking pipes About 10 million gallons of drinking water is lost daily in Srinagar because some of the century-old, rusting pipes are leaking above and beneath the ground. This is about 11 percent of the total 90 MGD (million gallons daily) water supplied to the city. The Public Health Engineering Department repairs 25-40km of worn-out or damaged pipelines every year. However, PHE employees often stumble upon crumbling pipes choked by dirt and rust, which impede water supply to entire areas or reduce supply to tail end users. About Rs 90 crore are needed for revamping the supply pipes. The money will be spent on paying the allied civic departments for damage to their assets, mostly roads, apart from purchasing pipes.

Haryana  Pipes worth Rs 1.55-cr remain unutilised in PHE Dept: CAG The CAG observed that the department purchased 23,428 stoneware pipes of various sizes through the Director, Haryana Supplies and Disposal, Chandigarh, for Rs 2.24cr between July 2007 and April 2009 for laying sewer lines in Kaithal and Bahadurgarh. It was noticed during the audit that the work was executed through contractors and the pipes were provided and fixed by the contractual agencies. Out of 28, 44,179 pipes 13,13,780 pipes (46%) had been utilized and 15, 30,399 pipes (54%) valuing Rs 1.55 crore were lying in the store as on August 2015. It was further noticed during physical verification of the store that the pipes were lying in open since 2009 and were being damaged. The reason reportedly is excessive purchase by the department and subsequent changes in requirement specifications.

SAND MINING     

Karnataka 6 cops suspended over illegal sand mining In a major crackdown on corruption in the department, SP Sudheerkumar Reddy suspended six police personnel, including an assistant inspector attached to KRS police station, for allegedly being involved in the illegal sand mining along the Cauvery river in Srirangapatna taluk. According to senior police officers, the suspended personnel had been the targets of multiple complaints about their involvement with the sand mafia and their blatant corruption. Locals have also raised concerns about locally influential members of the sand mafia who were using their links with police to silence those who protested against illegal sand mining.

Uttar Pradesh Illegal sand mining near Narora: Petitioner alleges ‘threat’ In his fresh petition, Phirey Ram has alleged that on April 13, pursuant to issuance of notice in the case, he received a call from  Uttar Pradesh Mining Minister Gayatri Prajapati in which the PA namely Vikas Vermaofnot only threatened the applicant to withdraw the plea but also threatened the applicant to falsely implicate the petitioner in illegal sand mining cases. The petition further alleged that “despite notices being issued to the state govt by the tribunal, the sand mafias are continuously and consistently carrying on the illegal mining at the bank of Ganga, village Ishampur, tehsil Gunnor, district Sambhal and that too without fear of law.

MONSOON

National New  method to help predict monsoon weeks before IMD A team of Swiss scientists has developed a novel prediction approach that can forecast Indian monsoon’s yearly onset and withdrawal significantly earlier than from previously available methods. Based on a network analysis of regional weather data, the team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Zurich will soon propose this approach to the Indian Meteorological Department.

ENERGY OPTIONS

National With costs coming down, companies rushing to green energy The Indian renewable energy space has suddenly become a hotspot for large companies and investors, who want to tap the country’s potential. Renewables is set overtake coal as the largest source of electricity by early 2030s, with renewable-based generation accounting for 25% of total power generation. 

SOUTH ASIA

Sri Lanka Protest in Galle against mini hydro power project A large number of villagers of Dellava in Neluwa, Galle gathered in Galle city staged a demonstration demanding the cessation of work on a mini hydro power station on the bank of Aanda Dola, in Hiniduma electorate on May 08. The people who gathered under the banner of Aanda Dola Protection Organisation objected to the mini hydro power station since its inception. However, the authorities who turned down the public demand, allowed the constructing private firm to continue the work on the disputed power station. The villagers claim that the construction of mini power station will end the existence of the treasured natural waterway and destroy the natural attractions of the surroundings. Unassessed impacts of mini hydel projects are leading to protests throughout. This is a story from Srilanka.

Bangladesh failing to spare millions from arsenic poisoning An estimated 20 million people in Bangladesh are still being poisoned by arsenic-tainted water — a number that has remained unchanged from 10 years ago despite years of action to dig new wells at safer depths, according to a new report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch. The New York-based rights group blames nepotism & neglect by Bangladeshi officials, saying they’re deliberately having new wells dug in areas convenient for friends, family members and political supporters and allies, rather than in places where arsenic contamination is highest or large numbers of poor villagers are being exposed.

CHINA

Chitan HEP landslide: India China could see bigger accident Dave Petley says that he continues to worry that the mounting toll of landslides associated with hydroelectric schemes in China and India indicates that the hazards posed by these processes are not being adequately considered. He also fears that there might be a much larger accident in due course. With such poor EIA and Geological studies for hydropower projects in Himalayas, we are certainly inviting a lot of trouble. Xinhua now reports that the number of people killed or missing in the Chitan Hydropower landslide on Sunday total 41 people, and that so far 31 bodies have been recovered. A further 13 people were injured, some critically.  CCTV has put on Youtube a section of drone footage of the landslide site, showing the ongoing rescue operations. Once again this appears to be a case of poor understanding of the dynamics of this landscape.  Dave Petley blog on the recent landslide at Chitan Hydropower project in China has a WARNING ALSO FOR INDIA.

“Our Father River”: Update from China’s Nu River Though the Nu River, the last free-flowing river in China, remains undammed on its mainstream, it’s a different story on its tributaries. More than 100 small hydro dams – defined as 50 MW or less in China – clog the river’s tributaries, which has a significant impact on its overall health. The dams block migratory fish and disrupt critical breeding habitat, and they trap sediment upstream, which can lead to increased erosion on the mainstream of the river. The good news is that regional leaders are realizing what an ecological gem they have in the Nu, and they’re taking steps to protect it. In March, the Yunnan provincial government announced that it would build no more small hydropower projects on the Nu’s tributaries and that it will promote the Nu River Canyon National Park.

REST OF THE WORLD

US Funders exit Agua Zarca dam, but struggle continues Dutch financier FMO has announced that it plans “to seek a responsible and legal exit” from the Agua Zarca Project. Finnfund, another financier, also plans to take this step after  Honduran police arrested several officers employed by the Agua Zarca Dam builder DESA and the country’s armed forces as suspects in the murder of Berta Cáceres. It was a welcome sign of progress in a troubled investigation. If the other financiers do indeed drop the Agua Zarca Dam, it will mark an important success for the international grassroots campaign coordinated by partners including COPINH, Friends of the Earth Europe, BankTrack and Both Ends. At the same time, the struggle continues, and the international financiers must learn their lessons from this violent and painful experience.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Endemic trees in Western Ghats show climate resilience The Western Ghats is the overhead water tank for peninsular India. The health of the forests in the mountains can help preserve the water flow in the peninsular rivers. The current drought and the drying up of even the mighty Godavari and Krishna showed that this relationship was fragile. A recent study shows that the forest ecosystems with endemic tree species of the Western Ghats have remained stable overall for the past 150,000 years. Thus, those habitats if preserved have chances of improving the climate resilience of the mountains and also the rivers flowing into peninsular India. Unfortunately, only a third of these stable environments are covered by the protected area network, and thus are prone to much man-made degradation.

National Why 2016 may be the hottest year for India As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US said that 2016 was on course to beat 2015 as the hottest year on record globally, the Ministry of Earth Sciences reiterated that for India too it “could be one of the warmest years of the century”. A reason cited for this is also the El-Nino phenomena, which is likely to become neutral in the coming months. In an op-ed titled Hotter, longer, deadlier summers Hem H. Dholakai writes that if hotter, longer and deadlier summers are to be the new normal under a changing climate, proactive adaptation measures are required. This implies policy intervention and coordination across three sectors — health, water and power.

Global  World’s carbon dioxide concentration teetering on the point of no return  The world is hurtling towards an era when global concentrations of carbon dioxide never again dip below the 400ppm milestone, as two important measuring stations sit on the point of no return. The news comes as one important atmospheric measuring station at Cape Grim in Australia is poised on the verge of 400ppm for the first time. Sitting in a region with stable CO2 concentrations, once that happens, it will never get a reading below 400ppm. Meanwhile another stati on in the northern hemisphere may have gone above the 400ppm line for the last time, never to dip below it again. Another milestone cross on way to irreversible global warming.

ENVIRONMENT

Uttarakhand Forest fires could melt glaciers faster: Experts Raging forest fires in could have a devastating effect on the state’s glaciers which are the lifeline of the major rivers flowing through India’s northern plains. According to experts ‘black carbon’ from smog and ash is covering the glaciers, thereby making them prone to melting. Water in the rivers which originate from these glaciers also stand to get heavily polluted by harmful particles and compounds that constitute black carbon.

Uttar Pradesh Canal water quenches animals’ thirst The UP irrigation department on April 28 & released limited water in the eastern canal, hours after a newspaper carried a story about rationing of Ganga water in the eastern canal in a bid to maintain supply to Delhi and Noida. As many as 300 cusec of water was released in eastern canal of Uttarakhand for four hours. The water quenches the thirst of wild animals of Shyampur area close to Rajaji Tiger Reserve. Officials said water level is decreasing in the main stream of Ganga resulting in less water supply in upper Ganga canal that supplies water to Delhi. Around 18,000 cusecs of water was supplied to main Ganga in April last year. But this time only 8,000 cusec of water has been released from the Tehri Dam.

Centre Cabinet nod to amend afforestation fund bill The Union cabinet on April 20 approved amendments to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015, which will facilitate the distribution of around Rs.42000cr among all states to encourage them to plant forests. The cabinet also approved the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of Parties held in Paris in December. The signing will take place in New York on 22 April.  Also see, Air, water and noise pollution in Delhi breached safe limit in 2015: CPCB

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 09 May 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 02 May 2016

 

 

 

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