DRP News Bulletin 06 June 2016 (India to be power surplus for next 3 yrs, then why govt continue to pursue hydro projects)

India will not have power deficit situation in FY17 India won’t need any new power plants for the next three years as it is flush with generation capacity, according to a government assessment. The country can manage for the next three years with existing plants that are currently under-utilised, and those that are under construction and upcoming renewable energy projects, assessment made by the power ministry for reviewing  the National Electricity Policy shows. Govt declares for the first time in history that India is POWER SURPLUS in 2016-17 with 3.1% power surplus in peak hours and 1.1% power surplus in off peak hours, both figures in 2015-16 were -3.2% during peak hours and -2.1% in peak hours. The western and Southern regions will be power surplus, but Northern, Eastern and Northeastern regions will have deficits. At the same time Power Minister Piyush Goyal says that Big hydro power units may come under renewable energy According to Minister the Centre has begun studies to decide whether to include big hydro power plants under the ambit of renewable energy. When India will be energy surplus for next three years why then Govt. of India is continue to pursue disastrous hydro projects on ground.  Where ASSOCHAM is asking Arunachal govt.  to do away with adverse tax policies on Hydro power to boost construction of hydro projects in the State. NHPC has also   raised relief amount for Kishanganga HEP around Rs 60 lakh and Rs 70 lakh to each family for the land acquired. And despite Delhi Govt. openly rejecting water from Renuka dam NGT panel has visited the area to look into the rehabilitation issue. 

DROUGHT OPTIONS

W-Bengal Collective farming, water budgeting: Purulia’s weapons against drought Things started changing in some portions of the Purulia district (with a very undulating terrain due to which 50% of rain water gets wasted) over the past 3 years. A Kolkata-based NGO SAFE with funds from NABARD has taken up rain water harvesting. At present more than 70 such farmers clubs have come up in 5 blocks of Purulia–Raghunathpur-II, Hura, Kashipur, Jhalda-I and Arsa. Along with rain water harvesting other innovative measures such as ‘collective farming’, wherein farmers harvest a single crop over several acres of land instead of growing various crops in their fragmented individual farmlands and ‘water budgeting’ in which the members of the club decide on what crops to grow according to availability of rain leaving some water for daily use and growing fishes have also helped the farmers. With yields increasing more farmers are now showing interest to form farmers clubs. Another positive story, this time from Stone land of Purulia in W Bengal, where farmers collectives, through water harvesting, water budgeting and collective farming, have achieved increased productivity and equity.

DROUGHT 2016

Study India to face more droughts during 2020-2049 According to data from a network of 306 climatological rain gauge stations well distributed over India, scientists at IITM, Pune have derived an Indian summer monsoon rainfall series for the period 1871 to the current year. The scientific paper concludes that more frequent drought monsoons are expected to come India’s way between 2020 & 2049. Curiously, the 1990-2019 epoch was expected to be a wet one, going by the cycle of the ocean-atmosphere system of the earlier 150-year period. 2014 and 2015 were part of a three decade period, 1990-2019, which was supposed to have more good monsoons and very few bad monsoons. But while 1990 to 2000 saw no drought monsoons, the following two decades have seen five drought monsoons so far (2002, 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2015).

MAHARASHTRA DROUGHT

SANDRP Blog Concerns about unplanned river widening, deepening works We whole heartedly welcome people’s participation in reclaiming and working towards their rivers. We also welcome government’s initiative towards River Rejuvenation. However, the basic prerequisite is that the work should be scientific, well-planned and following an accepted, transparent system, and based on prior assessment and in participation with the people who depend on these rivers, with an oversight by the government to ensure the work is sustainable and in public interest. The approach heavy on machinery alone is not resulting in increased employment to local people when women and Dalits, who remain the most affected sections facing disproportionate brunt of the drought. In this regard we request urgent intervention for your office. We would be willing to meet you in person and present our view as well as ways through which River Rejuvenation and Water Scarcity can be approached without the current extremism.

SANDRP Blog Consume & pollute more but pay less & ask for more Dams: Pune City’s water supply While discussions and debates about drought revolve around sugarcane, industries, rural water use, irrigation management etc., the growing, unjustified footprint of urban areas generally is left scot free and Pune is a classic example. Here we take a brief look at Pune’s water supply approach with its monomaniacal supply-side focus. While sourcing much more water than allocated from four upstream dams, the city has been dogging its responsibility of treating water for the downstream. PMC has taken the upstream dams for granted and is planning for expansion of water supply system with 24×7 water supply in near future, relying on more water from these dams.

Water inequality governs drought-hit According to Parineet Dandekar of SANDRP the earlier Congress–Nationalist Congress Party-led government was entrenched in sugar politics with 13 of the 30 cabinet ministers owning or controlling sugar factories. Interesting report that misses one of the elephants: Westward diversion of over 3 BCM of water from Krishna Bheema basin to Konkan region.

Farmers restive as crisis grows deeper Water is under police bandobast in the state’s sugar bowl, but the situation is tense with farmers resorting to violence as the crisis deepens. The Sangamner police in Ahmednagar district have recently registered cases against 250 farmers for violating prohibitory orders, blocking the flow of Nilwande dam’s water in Pravara river, pelting stones and attacking irrigation officials. In Solapur, farmers have locked horns over Ujani dam’s water and politicians from Satara have warned of violence if the government continues to supply Urmodi’s water to neighbouring Sangli district. Morchas & dharnas continue in the sugar belt as 10% water remains in the reservoirs in Pune division and 12% in the Nashik division. Simmering conflicts in Maharashtra surrounding most of the dams of the state.

Farmers resort to online crowdfunding to give canal new life More than 700 farmers from a small village in the drought-stricken Osmanabad district have come together to widening, deepen and de-silt an 8km long canal that runs across their farms to increase its water holding capacity ahead of the monsoon. Most of the farmers in this village have not had any production in their fields for the last 2 season due to the irregular rainfall and no irrigation facilities. The cost of the work is approximately Rs 6 lakh, of which the villagers have collected approximately Rs 3 lakh for the work and the rest of which will be raised through an online crowd funding campaign that has been put together to help them raise the remaining amount. The crowd funding campaign has collected over Rs 1.9 Lakh in less than a week.

Jayakwadi dam water level fell to historic low For the first time in 45 years, water level massive Jayakwadi dam in Godavari basin has reached lowest ever, 1.75 m below dead storage level, and monsoon is still some weeks away.

Jalyukta Shivar to be extended to all 40000 villages The he state govt has decided to extend its flagship project Jalyukta Shivar Yojna, which was till date meant for the 25,000 villages reeling under drought, to the remaining 15,000 villages for scientific water conservation. Jalyukta Shivar is indeed a great scheme. However, this picture indicates all that is wrong. Jalyukta Shivar is NOT and should NOT be limited to making canals of streams and rivers. Here we can see banks cut at 90 degree angle, excavated muck dumped on the sides of the same stream,all ecologically disastrous. Its time CM wakes up to this.

Govt to drop cases against dam-builder farmer Tidke, 42, a resident of a village in Murtajapur taluka who raised Rs 20 lakh to build the dam, was charged with illegal procurement of sand as it was taken without paying royalty and cases were filed against him. He was fined Rs 2.31 lakh by the revenue department. G Shreekanth, collector of Akola, said the government doesn’t want to discourage farmers who take up such initiatives. Good to see this support from Govt to a farmer who has built a small dam from his own resources in Akola District.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

SANDRP letter to EAC KBL will destroy Panna Tiger Reserve In a letter to EAC SANDRP writes about Ken-Betwa project & why EAC should not clear this. Please help us spread the word and urgently write to EAC if you agree. We will look forward to EAC applying its mind to the various issues we have raised and NWDA responses, on their merits and arriving at a judgment. We would be happy to come to EAC meeting to explain this further if necessary.

KBL will facilitate water export out of Bundelkhand According to a review report by SANDRP, 6 large dams are to be constructed under the project, but basic information about these dams, except the Greater Gangau dam, has not been published. Himanshu Thakkar coordinator SANDRP points out that the Ken-Betwa link, in essence, will facilitate transfer of water from the Ken River Basin (Bundelkhand) to Upper Betwa Basin (outside Bundelkhand), so it is actually exporting water out of Bundelkhand. The entire exercise might end up benefiting only a small part of Bundelkhand & it will make the existing benefits to the Bundelkhand region of Ken basin uncertain since the priority use of available water is likely to be transfer to Betwa rather than assuring the downstream areas of their existing use.

Seeking more studies, EAC panel deferred green clearance to KBL The environment ministry’s expert panel on river valley & hydroelectric projects has deferred environment clearance for the ambitious Rs.10,000cr Ken-Betwa river linking project in its last meeting on June 2, and has sought more clarity on its wildlife & hydrological impact. In the meeting, the project’s authority, National Water Development Agency (NWDA), explained the findings of an expert committee that had visited Panna Tiger Reserve, and measures they suggested to mitigate impact on wildlife. But, according to sources from NWDA, the meeting could not come to a conclusion as the members of the expert appraisal committee (EAC) had several doubts regarding the project’s hydrological feasibility, its impact on hydrology and wildlife too. The EAC also deferred the clearance as the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is yet to give its final recommendations on reducing impact on wildlife. Earlier in February, the EAC had said that it will look at the project’s green clearance only after NBWL takes a call on its wildlife clearance. Sources privy to developments in the EAC said many serious issues related to the project are yet to resolved.

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS

The implications of National Waterways Bill for Biodiversity Alice Hughes, an ecologist who has worked extensively in tropical Asia, weights in on serious threats to the waterways of India. Though global declines in freshwater diversity are a source of great concern, the development of freshwater infrastructure on the scale being proposed in India is almost unparalleled. The process of canal development involves a number of environmentally destructive procedures including dredging, channelization, sand-mining, barrage construction, and the loss of marsh areas that offer vital habitats for wetland birds. The loss of riparian habitats resulting from channel development is also frequently underestimated.

IRRIGATION

National Irrigation scheme lacks focus on water-deprived districts  According to the paper the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana needs to target its energies and resources on the 139 districts where the bulk of India’s irrigation-deprived farm holdings are concentrated. After 67 years of irrigation investment, 6.8 cr out of India’s 13.8 crore farm holdings have no source of irrigation whatsoever. Without a groundwater development component for the country’s irrigation-deprived geography, it is neither possible to ensure Har Khet Ko Paani nor to double farm incomes in five years said Tushaar Shah, senior fellow of IWMI representing the findings. Very true indeed. The IWMI persons and author of the article should have taken more critical view of the benefits from dams in Gujarat and MP.

Maharashtra ACB transfers investigating officer in Balganga irrigation scam  After a complaint of misuse of power was found to be true, the Anti-Corruption Bureau has transfer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Sunil Kalgutkar the Investigation Officer of the high profile Balganga irrigation scam to Ratnagiri. The officer will, however, continue to be part of the investigation in which former Deputy CM Ajit Pawar’s role is being probed. This exposes interesting machinations in irrigation projects in Maharashtra.

Andhra Farmers cross police trenches, pledge to build irrigation weir Scores of farmers set aside political affiliations and united to symbolically lay the foundation stone for the Siddeswaram irrigation weir (alugu) on Krishna river in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, protesting official indifference, on May 31. They also offered to pool their resources and build the Rs. 600 crore weir. Leaders of BJP, Congress, YSR Congress and the Left parties have extended support. The police responded by arresting leaders, detaining buses, lorries and tractors carrying farmers, and even digging trenches across the roads. Yet, coconuts were broken and the foundation stone laid at Raithupalle near Nandyal by the Rayalaseema Jala Sadhana Samithi convener Bojja Dasaratharami Reddy and leader Y.S. Reddy.

DAMS

Himachal Renuka Dam: NGT team for time-bound rehabilitation  An eight-member team of the NGT, headed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests SP Vasudeva, on May 30 took stock of the rehabilitation plan and environmental mitigation measures related to the proposed Rs 5,242-crore Renuka Dam. The NGT team is specifically looking at the issue of comprehensive resettlement and rehabilitation policy for people affected by the dam. It is also supposed to suggest modification required to protect the environment and ecology of the region, including the river, hydrology and the Renuka Wildlife Sanctuary. The proposed Renuka Dam has already been acknowledged as a project of “national importance” as it would provide drinking water to Delhi, areas of Haryana & UP falling in the NCR. The project will come up across the Giri river, a tributary of the Yamuna, in Sirmaur district. HP has a stake in the project as it will get 40 MW from the project free of cost.

HYDRO POWER

J&K Baglihar hydro project affected families await justice Hundreds of families /individuals affected due to submergence of entire Pul Doda area in the dam of Baglihar Hydroelectric Project on river Chenab have been awaiting justice during the past eight years. Around 300 families/shopkeepers were dislocated due to submergence of entire Pul Doda area on account of acquisition of land/impounding of water on account of construction of Baglihar project at Chanderkote. In order to rehabilitate the project affected families, Rehabilitation Plan was approved on May 22, 2008 & acquisition proceedings for land in the villages of Jangalwar, Khellani and Peryote were initiated. However, Rehabilitation Plan could not be implemented during the past eight years because of varied reasons including resentment from the land owners whose land was proposed to be acquired for the rehabilitation/settlement.

NHPC raises relief amount for Kishanganga HEP Sources reveal that the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) had given between Rs 60 lakh and Rs 70 lakh to each family for the land acquired for the project to help them seek alternative places of rehabilitation which is much higher compensation than the market rate to those families whose land was acquired for constructing run of the Kishanganga project in Gurez area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. The Kishanganga project had hogged headlines for objections by Pakistan, which has become a routine with Islamabad to stall any power generating or forward-looking projects in J&K, citing the 1960 World Bank-brokered Indus Water Treaty. But those objections have been ruled out. The 330-MW Kishanganga project was started in 2007 and the deadline for completion the $864 million plant was 2016.

Assam New Govt. vows to oppose big dams Environmental issues seem to have played an important role in the recently concluded assembly elections in Assam. The alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) focussed a major part of its campaign on these issues, and this has worked in its favour, possibly signalling the first time in India that an election hinged on the environment. The state’s water resources minister has also said that big dams ruin the environment and promises to push micro- and mini-hydro projects instead. The BJP’s election manifesto also promised that it would focus on smaller dams that have minimum adverse impacts on the environment. So although these promises were made for winning the election, it remains to be seen what the reality of implementation will be.

Arunachal AAPSU to file PIL on Tawang shooting Rejecting the 2 enquiry committees formed by the state govt for May 2 Tawang shooting incident which are yet to submit the reports, All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has decided to file PIL along with Save Mon Region Forum (SMRF) to seek independent enquiry into the incident. Good to see that AAPSU has decided to stand by SMRF in Tawang Tragedy where two young peaceful protesters were killed without provocation or warning by the police, the state and the central govt is still not taking any required action.

ASSOCHAM asks govt. to do away with adverse tax policies on Hydro power ASSOCHAM has written to the govt of Arunachal to do away with the adverse tax policies – which is not friendly to hydro power sector. The ASSOCHAM suggestion came following a request from the CM Kalikho Pul, who had asked for detailed note on tax perspective for consideration by Govt of Arunachal during a Hydropower Conference held on May 3. It suggested that to overcome the problem of increased tax costs and thereby reduce the total costs incurred in the construction of hydro power projects, the Government should allow exemptions from customs and excise duty for goods used in the setting up of small hydro power plants especially in the light of the many environmental benefit entailed by such projects, ASSCOCHAM begging here for more subsidies for big hydro is clearly barking up the wrong tree.

RIVERS

Centre Tussle between Forest & Coal Ministry over go-no go zone Of the 835 coal blocks surveyed, the environment ministry’s Forest Survey of India has found that mining would have to be partly restricted in 417 to safeguard the rivers. The coal ministry has objected to this and asked that the partial ban of mining should be limited to only 49 coal blocks. In order to pare down the list of restricted coal blocks, the coal ministry has asked the environment ministry to once again dilute the inviolate forest area policy. This time, the coal ministry wants mining to be allowed till river boundaries, leaving just 15 metres of protected area. It has asked that protection of waterways be limited to first order streams and not the larger streams and rivers.

Punjab State river water unfit for drinking In its April 2016 report he Punjab Pollution Control Board claims that the water of the 4 rivers in the state has become so polluted that it is unfit for drinking. The board also said that the water samples were collected from around 37 locations under the National Water Quality Monitoring programme. The report mentions that the water of Sutlej river turns ‘B grade’, fit for bathing purpose, at the very point where it enters Punjab. The water improves to ‘B’ grade with help fresh water from the Beas river near near Harike Pattan. With lesser water flow than the rest of the rivers and with cities along its banks emptying themselves into it, the water of the Ghaggar river remains between ‘C and D grade’. As per the report, the Ravi river remains a healthy ‘B grade’ much of its flow is outside Punjab and in areas where habitation is scarce.

Maharashtra Work on to clear carpet of hyacinth in Panchganga The water resources department (WRD) and civic body are removing the thick, green carpet of water hyacinth that has grown in the Panchganga river. The WRD has deployed machinery while the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation is providing workers.

Jharkhand The river of gold, Subarnarekha is dying The pitiful state of Subarnarekha stands testimony to the changing times. The river is being slowly killed by the greed of the rich and the apathy of the powerful writes Amita Bhaduri of India Water Portal. It is very interesting profile of Subarnarekha river of Jharkhand and Odisha.

NARMADA Gujarat Narmada riverbed turning into salt pan With forecast of high tide in Arabian sea near Dahej on June 05, the threat of saline water reaching the Narmada river bed near Bharuch city has increased many folds, forcing prompt action by the district administration. According to an estimate, the water may rush upto 50 km inside the river as the inflow of water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam downstream in the riverbed is very low. The situation that is already bad with salinity ingress leading to loss of production worth Rs 250 cr in industrial units of Bharuch and Ankleshwar, is likely to worsen in next few days as the high tide is likely to remain till June 9. MORE Bad news for Narmada river and residents on its banks in Bharuch, that too on WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY: Starting Sunday, next five days may see high tide bringing more salinity inland, affecting also groundwater, besides people and farms and industry and fisheries, all due to Sardar Sarovar Dam.

GANGA SANDRP Guest Blog No action all noise in first 2 years of Ganga revival Let us be clear that while dealing with a compromised & complex ecosystem like a river on which so many millions depend, borrowed solutions would never work. In 1984 at the start of the Ganga Action Plan, we emphasized finances, infrastructure and technology, to the complete exclusion of democratic and accountable governance. By now our understanding about the governance, institutions and legal system should have improved along with our scientific and technical knowledge about river Ganga and also our plan execution. So the same business as usual approach cannot be accepted now after more than 30 years of repeated failures of GAP to rejuvenate the river or more than 40 years of failure of water pollution control mechanism.

Study ‘Gangotri glacier retreated by 3 km in 2 centuries’ According to glaciologist Milap Chand Sharma of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Gaumukh, the snout of the Gangotri glacier, named after its shape like the mouth of a cow, has retreated by over 3 kilometres since 1817. It was nearly 2 centuries ago that the retreat of the glacier was 1st documented by John Hodgson, a Survey of India geologist. Though a 3km retreat over a period of 2 centuries might seem insignificant at first glance, data shows that the rate of retreat has increased sharply since 1971. The rate of retreat is 22 metres per year. Scientists at Institute of Hydrology say that the retreat points to lesser ice formation each year than its current rate of melting, a process that is continuing. 

Centre Get Ganga water by India post Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on May 29 has directed department of posts to utilize e-commerce platform and make the arrangement for providing pure Gangajal from Haridwar and Rishikesh to people. The post department is also report to be taking pro-active step to address cultural needs. Meanwhile the saint community has expressed resentment over the move & warned of resorting to intense agitation. On the other hand the CPCB has released an app ‘Ganga Shravan Abhiyaan’ that allows citizens to take part in surveillance & help in cleaning the Ganga river by clicking photographs of untreated discharge falling into the river or of any other waste material and uploading it on new app to alert the authorities.

YAMUNA Delhi NGT asks AOL to cough up 5cr environment compensation Offering strong criticism of the AOL for its massive festival held in Yamuna floodplain NGT directed the foundation that it must pay remaining compensation amount 5cr, lived on it on March 09.  AOL has paid Rs. 25 lakhs at the time, and said the rest would be given later. They then asked that the 4.75 crores that they owed be treated as a bank guarantee and that it should apply towards creating a biodiversity park in the area. Environmentalists had accused organisers of ripping up vegetation and ruining the river’s fragile ecosystem by damaging its bed and disrupting water flows. According to expert estimates the cost of restoring Yamuna floodplain biodiversity would come to Rs 50 lakh per hectare. Ravi Shankar claims to have used only 28 hectares (the stage took up a quarter of that). Even going by this, the total cost would be roughly Rs 14 crore. But at the same time, there are unverified claims that AOL might have actually used and impacted around 400 hectares, which can be calculated using photographs of the event and GPS coordinates. Back-of-the-envelope calculations show this would raise the cost to around Rs 200 crore. Even half of this sounds like a staggering amount, but is close to the earlier estimation by the NGT’s expert committee. In an interview Professor C.R. Babu who has developed Yamuna Biodiversity Park and is a member of NGT expert committee in AOL case, says that it will take him 5-10 years to restore the abused floodplain by AOL. THE DRAMA around Art of Living and NGT case continues, but ART OF LIVING continues to defy the judicial orders without any consequences.

WETLAND & WATER BODIES

SANDRP Letter REJECT Draft Wetland Rules 2016: Designed to destroy wetlands  While Environment Ministry never implemented Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010, it has now brought out a new and seriously watered down Draft Wetland Rules 2016. The New Rules can jeopardise wetland conservation in the country and need to be rejected in entirety. The Draft 2016 Rules are so diluted that there is no scope for modification. Hence SANDRP urges to discard 2016 Rules in entirety and constitute new Rules through a consultative and participatory process, till then the 2010 Rules need to be immediately implemented. We request the MoEF&CC to take back the 2016 Rules and initiate the process afresh, building on past Draft Framework for Wetland Management (2008) and Wetland Rules (2010). Conservation India has prepared an online petition on the issue which can be signed here. Also see a media report based on SANDRP letter. Also see, The draft wetlands rules don’t echo Modi’s Mann ki Baat A media report based on SANDRP letter to MoEF. An op-ed in HT quoting the same letter highlights the key problems in the new rules: Dismantling of the Central Wetland Authority, no role for local communities or NGOs in the state wetland authorities, which have all the decision-making power and no guidelines about activities that should be prohibited or even regulated in the wetlands by states.

SANDRP Blog Naya Bans wetland thriving under looming threats Given the existing and potential environmental services & diverse number of dependent flora and fauna of the wetland; Naya Bans wetland is of great ecological importance. For decades it has been treating waste water in huge quantity which may otherwise end up polluting River Yamuna. During torrential rain events, which are more pronounced due to climate change, the wetland could prove buffer to surge of floods. Protecting and enhancing the capacity of the wetland can provide treated water to fish and agricultural farm thus conserving the fast depleting underground aquifers. However, seeing the rapid construction of lined drain as looming threat the wetland require immediate intervention. Will it get?

Op-Ed Missing the wetlands for the water by Neha Sinha of BNHS It is imperative that the Draft Wetlands Rules, 2016 (comments for which close today) be looked at with a hard, if not cynical, eye. Three issues are of immediate concern. First, the draft does away with the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, which had suo moto cognisance of wetlands and their protection. Second, the draft rules contain no ecological criteria for recognising wetlands, such as biodiversity, reefs, mangroves, and wetland complexes. And finally it has deleted sections on the protection of wetlands, and interpretation of harmful activities which require regulation, which found reference in the 2010 rules.  One of the biggest ironies around water is that it comes from rivers and wetlands, yet it is seen as divorced from them.

W-Bengal Experts worried as draft rules threaten Kolkata wetland Encroachment of various parts of 12,500 hectares East Kolkata Wetlands, a Ramsar site, has become a regular affair. Thanks to the land sharks who see no fault in development at the cost of these valuable waterbodies. Now, the protector seems to be turning the destroyer of these wetlands. The Environment Ministry has brought out a watered down Draft Wetland Rules 2016 that threaten to jeopardize wetland conservation in the entire country. On the other hand the concerned in Assam have also   opposed proposed Wetland Rules To analyse the impact of the new Draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2016 on wetlands of Assam, environment groups Aaranyak and ActionAid jointly organised a consultation in Guwahati. Comparing the Wetland Rules 2010 with the Draft Wetland Rules 2016, the consultation found that the new Wetland Rules offers very few protective measures to Assam’s wetlands when compared to the 2010 Rules. The consultation suggested a complete revision of the Draft Wetland Rules 2016 to ensure better Wetland management and conservation in Assam.

Delhi NGT directs govt to clean all natural water bodies The green tribunal has directed the Delhi govt & agencies concerned to clean & restore all the natural water bodies in Delhi within 3 weeks to ensure that these water bodies receive rainwater in good quantity before onset of monsoon. The green bench also issued notices to MoEF, MoUD, CGWA, DDA, DJB & others while seeking their reply within 2 weeks. The matter is now listed for next hearing on Aug 9. The order came while hearing a plea by NGO CHETNA seeking directions to provide mechanism and proper system for installing and maintaining eco-friendly and cost effective techniques throughout the country for rainwater harvesting during monsoons.

Maharashtra Pune civic administration directed to clean drains Ahead of the monsoons, Pune mayor Prashant Jagtap has asked the civic administration to clear storm water drains before June 10. With several areas having water clogging problems, the civic administration was directed to clear the drains by the end of May. However, as it was not completed, the mayor said strict action would be initiated on officials who do not follow orders. In several parts of the city, the work was shown as incomplete when the Mayor and officials conducted their rounds ahead of the rain.

Gujarat AMC undertakes cleaning of 36 water bodies CM Anandiben Patel participated at the ground-breaking ceremony of a STP coming up in Vadaj area of the city while the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) took cleaning of the water bodies in the city on June 05.  Currently, sewage water is dumped directly into Sabarmati Riverfront.

WATER

SANDRP Guest Blog CAG REPORT: Water Woes in Meghalaya An audit report by Comptroller and Auditor General of India that got tabled in Meghalaya assembly on 23rd March 2016 reveals sorry state of affairs on water supply schemes. It brings under scanner the corrupt practices of Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED), presents before us the real causes of the delays in completion of these schemes. This performance review shows that PHED has failed to learn any lesson from similar indictment from constitutional auditor in past and continued its business as usual with impunity. The audit also shows in unambiguous manner how PHED officials failed to supply information and documents in support of their claims

Report Coal power plants biggest guzzlers of water Greenpeace India on June 03 released data on the water consumption patterns of coal power plants in seven drought affected states, stating that coal power plants in these states consume water that could meet the basic needs of 50 million people for a year. The Greenpeace analysis reveals that the water consumption of coal power plants could more than triple in coming years, if all proposed power plants in these seven states are taken into account. A Greenpeace India analysis of a report released in March this year estimates that the total freshwater consumption of coal power plants in India is 4.6 billion cubic meters per year.

Centre FSSAI proposes to allow bromates in drinking water The FSSAI proposes to allow bromate contamination in bottled water. This probable carcinogen was recently found by Centre for Science through its lab tests in bread products as an additive and FSSAI consequently promised to ban it in bread. But easing its standards in January the FSSAI also proposed it be permitted as a contaminant in bottled water. WHO advises bromate should not be present at all in drinking water. Countries have traditionally allowed it over past two decades partly because detecting abilities were low and alternatives not available. But that has changed. Nitin Sethi exposes how FSSAI is allowing bromate in bottled water.

Draft water bill proposes ‘water for life’ for all For the first time the draft National Water Framework Bill says every person would be entitled to “water for life” that shall not be denied to anyone on the ground of inability to pay. A separate draft Bill for ‘Conservation, Protection, Regulation and Management of Groundwater’ has also been prepared and put in the public domain for suggestions. The proposed law wants to introduce a “graded pricing system” for domestic water supply, with full cost recovery pricing for high-income groups, “affordable pricing” for middle-income, and a “certain quantum of free supply” to the poor.

Punjab Contaminated water supply irks residents  A large number of people residing in the area from Putlighar to Kabir Park locality in Amritsar are at receiving end as they are getting contaminated water supply for the past few days. Fearing an outbreak of water-borne disease, residents of the area have urged the Municipal Corporation authorities to rectify the problem as soon as possible. They also demanded action against erring officials for the lapse, which has led to the breakage and leakage from the main water supply pipe. Residents said the MC authorities should fix the responsibility of persons responsible for the lapse, besides questioning the department concerned in this connection.

Haryana  Gurugram residents face a water crisis Residents of Gurugram, considered a symbol of the new affluent India, are plumbing the depths of despair with the water table in the city plunging to new lows. The district’s hydrology department says the groundwater level has reached a “dark zone”, which, according to officials, is 20 metres below the surface in north India. No further extraction is allowed after this point. Experts say the plight of Gurugram, where apartment complexes and corporate high rises are sprouting like concrete weeds, reflects the larger problem of designing cities without people in mind. The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram looks giving no importance to water conservation measures by showing apathy towards the proper maintenance of ponds and lakes. It is also responsible for encroaching the land and constructing concrete structures there.

Himachal IPH engineers tap two new water sources Engineers working with the Irrigation and Public Health Department have tapped two new water sources Koti Brandi and Been Khuds to solve the water crisis in Shimla. In just 45 days, they laid down 3-km pipeline to supply about 5 MLD water to the state capital. Now, the city will get about 40 MLD of water daily, tiding over the shortage in the peak summer months. According to Pankaj Rai, Municipal Commissioner the civic body would continue to supply water to the city on alternate days till the stabilisation of water supply & the supply from the Ashwani Khud would remain suspended. A few engineers and the contractors were jailed after untreated water was released from the Malyana sewage treatment plant into the Ashwani Khud.

GROUND WATER

Op-Ed Revitalize the aquifers by Rohini Nilekani and Mala Subramaniam Ground water is people’s water and is loosely regulated & this lack of regulation has created both a crisis and an opportunity. Groundwater supplies around 70% of all our water needs across agriculture, industry & domestic water. Ironically, most public investments have been made in surface water – dams and canals for irrigation, pipelines for water to industry and to cities. Enough data suggests this approach yields diminishing returns. Therefore it is smarter & safer to focus on ground water. We do not have many options today. Let’s revitalise our aquifers. They are the lifeblood for future water security.  Indeed, as Rohini Nilekeni and Mala underline here, groundwater is India’s water lifeline and there are ways to sustain it, they provide examples where it has been done.

Delhi DJB to store 60MGD water by year-end  The `Conserve and Use’ floodplain project devised by Vikram Soni, professor emeritus at JNU and submitted to DJB a few years ago which was on the backburner for some time, has just been revived and is expected to store as much as a month’s supply. DJB chief Kapil Mishra visited the Palla floodplains on June 01 to review a flood water harvesting project that will be able to supply additional water to the city in case of a crisis & decided to repair the existing pipeline which developed leaks when DJB attempted to scale up extraction. Also see, Delhi govt to restore 90 wells to tap rainwater from Palla-Wazirabad floodplain & Proposal to tap Yamuna water at Palla revived

NCR Metro projects are subject to green clearance: NGT The green court on May 30 said Metro projects must have environment clearance from state environment impact assessment authorities before work begins on the ground. The green panel also directed upcoming Noida-Greater Noida metro project to obtain environmental clearance from State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority. The order was passed on the plea filed by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad seeking directions to Noida Metro Rail Corporation to obtain environmental clearance for its project from Noida to Greater Noida after conducting proper Environment Impact Assessment of the project. On April 27, the Union Environment Ministry & the DMRC had told the NGT that there was no need to obtain environmental clearances for Metro projects. The latest NGT order sets a precedent for all Metro projects in the country to apply for green nod. 

FLOODS

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Wrath of Brahmaputra Lost to a river: A building on the banks of the Brahmaputra that collapsed due to erosion at Boko in Kamrup districtof Assam on June 01.

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Haryana Canal breach floods Hisar locality A major breach in a canal near Talwandi Rana village flooded the entire government employees’ locality on May 29, forcing residents to abandon their houses. The breach occurred in Rana Minor in the morning, resulting in inundation of fields in the village. Water then flowed to the locality and the low-lying Sector 3, which is unoccupied. This is the second incident of a canal breach in a week, exposing the unpreparedness of the authorities to desilt canals ahead of the monsoon season. A breach in Balsamand canal had flooded localities in Hisar last week.

Delhi Bad drainage, no desilting chokes Capital A study by IIT Delhi revealed that improper drainage system and the lack of a comprehensive mechanism for desilting top the list of reasons for traffic jams in Delhi. The study revealed that several roads across the Capital do not have properly designed slopes to help drain out rain water. A list of 56 arterial roads has been identified with the problem. The list of roads and the findings of the study will be examined by a panel of experts comprising urban city designers, civil engineers, environmentalists, and representatives from all the road owning agencies. The final plan will also be sent to the Delhi Traffic Police and will later be developed into a comprehensive master plan for desilting drains.

Andhra Floodplains an asset to Amaravati: experts Professor Vikram Soni, said that most of the groundwater had been exhausted and less and less river water was available. Floodplains were a new source of clean water. Over 30 million years, rivers deposited alluvium mostly sand as they keep changing their course to form floodplains. He further stated that these plains therefore had the capacity to retain more water and also had the capacity to get recharged comparatively fast. The Prof. adds that instead of using the floodplains for commercial activity, it should be used for the cultivation of organic vegetables and fruits so that the water source was not contaminated.

SAND MINING

Haryana NGT lifts ban on mining in Yamunanagar for 3 months The green court on June 01 lifted the ban on mining of minor minerals in Yamunanagar district, including the floodplain of the Yamuna. Deputy Commissioner Dr SS Phulia said the NGT permitted the lessee to commence mining operations, crushing and screening for three months from today. He said the NGT ordered that in Yamunanagar district, two valid leases with all statutory clearances, 69 crushers and one screening plant might be permitted to continue their operation. The mining leases, as identified in the comprehensive mining plan for the district, might be permitted to operate after obtaining all the requisite approvals. The NGT had completely prohibited mining on Feb 18, saying no screening plant and stone crusher would be permitted to operate in Yamunanagar in Haryana and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Gujarat Four trucks detained for illegal sand mining from Goma river near Ghoghamba in Panchmahal district on June 05 after district collector ordered a raid in the area following complaints from locals residing near the riverbank. The trucks were ferrying sand and quartz stones to different parts of the district. The drivers were detained as they had failed to produce permits and other necessary documents. It shows our local civic bodies are sleeping or helpless in control of this illegal mining.

MP Patwari beaten in Jaora, 4 arrested A patwari was injured in an attack by villagers while he was returning with tractors seized from illegal sand mine operators in a village in Jaora of Ratlam district on June 03. The incident took place when a team of officials headed by Jaora SDM Anup Singh reached Karankhedi village under Hatpipliya police station to check illegal sand mining taking place at Maleni River, after a tip off from sources. Patwari Arjit Saxena, resident of Piploda, was a part of the team. Three tractors filled with sand were seized. The SDM was accompanying the tractors back to Lasudia village but was later spotted by some locals in a serious condition & bleeding profusely. For further treatment he was referred to Ratlam district hospital. Doctors there report of him as being under critical condition & facing difficulty while speaking. His ribs are also fractured.

MONSOON

Expert Speak Trend of intensive rain is increasing Heat waves are set to intensify and stretch longer, Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, meteorologist and secretary of the Union ministry of earth sciences, tells Nitin Sethi in an interview. If you calculate the hours it rains, in most of the places, half of the total rainfall of a season comes in only 15-20 hours spread over the 120 odd monsoon days and remaining hours it rains very little. Thus the intensity of our rain is very high. There is no time for that rainwater to go underground and it flows away as runoff and go away. So our agriculture practice has to be tuned to this. EXCELLENT INTERVIEW WITH MANY important findings.

Master

IMD Zero chance of drought year India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its updated forecast on June 02 stuck to its earlier prediction of 106% rainfall for the country and added that chances of 2016 becoming another drought year were now zero. It predicted vigorous rains in central India at 113% of the long term average and a healthy 108% in the agriculturally important north. South India too is expected to get a bountiful monsoon with rains pegged at 113% of average. The only region where rains are likely to be slightly subdued is east and northeast India, slated to get 94% rainfall during the season. The regional forecasts come with an 8% error margin while the nationwide outlook has a 4% error range. IMD’s June update is generally more accurate than its first long range forecast of the monsoon released in April. It’s also more detailed, with region and month-wise predictions. A good monsoon, following two years of drought, is expected to boost agriculture growth. Also see IMD to prepare state-wise monsoon forecast from 2017 

SOUTH ASIA

Modi to inaugurate Salma Dam PM Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the $300 million Salma Dam built by India in western Herat province of Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan has renamed the name of Salma dam to Afghan-India friendship dam earlier this year in a sign to show appreciation to the robust investment by India in reconstruction of the dam. The dam reservoir is 20 km long & 3 km wide with  storage capacity of 640 million cubic meters of water. It is expected to produce 42 Mw of electricity & to irrigate around 80 ha of agricultural land. Also see, In Sufi saint’s cradle, dam built with blood awaits PM

Meghalaya allays Dhaka fears Meghalaya on April 09 sought to allay fears expressed by neighbouring Bangladesh over the proposed construction of 2 hydel power projects on rivers located near the international border. With the power crisis deepening, the state has proposed to construct two dams — the Mawphu hydroelectric project stage-I and stage-II in East Khasi Hills over the Umiew river and the Myntdu-Leshka hydroelectric project stage-II in Jaintia hills region over the Myntdu river. In Jan this year, Bangladesh had strongly opposed the proposed construction of the projects as it feared that the construction of the dams could have an adverse impact in areas falling within its territory. Planned Hydel projects in Meghalaya, close to Bangladesh borders are raising many questions: from downstream impact to EIA Process to corruption and time -cost escalataions.

REST OF ASIA

Mekong dam projects ‘could destroy livelihoods, ecology Thai and Cambodian environmental groups warned that the ecology of the Mekong River could be destroyed within 10 years if dam projects along the river are allowed to continue. They have also warned that it will be very difficult for people to claim compensation for projects’ negative impacts on the environment and their livelihoods because it will be not difficult if not impossible to clearly link the effects to a particular dam. The NGOs urged relevant governments to better understand the situation and take more interest in trans-border impacts from development projects along the Mekong River in order to prevent adverse consequences, which could harm the lives of millions people who depend on the river.

REST OF WORLD

Research Hydropower dams worldwide cause continued species extinction New research led by the University of Stirling in the UK found a global pattern of sustained species extinctions on islands within hydroelectric reservoirs. They discovered that reservoir islands across the world do not maintain the same levels of animal and plant life found prior to flooding. The findings represent a significant environmental impact that is currently missing from assessment procedures for proposed new dams. With more than 50,000 large dams operating globally, including in highly biodiverse regions such as the Amazon Basin, and many future dams planned to help meet rising energy demands, researchers believe more needs to be done to account for the long-term loss of species on reservoir islands.

US Elwah River revives after largest dam removal in history In Aug 2014, workers completed the largest dam removal project in U.S. history, as the final part of the 210-foot-high (64-meter-high) Glines Canyon Dam was dismantled on the Elwha River in northwestern Washington State. The multistage project began in 2011 with the blessing of the U.S. National Park Service, which administers the surrounding Olympic National Park. The goal was to remove unneeded, outdated dams and restore a natural river system, with presumed benefits for fish and other wildlife. Indeed, salmon have already returned to the Elwha after nearly a century of absence, and other fish and marine creatures are thriving.

Europe Thousands evacuated as Paris floods continue peak Thousands of people have been evacuated as floods continue to threaten homes and businesses across the Paris region. French authorities said areas along the River Loing, a tributary of the Seine, had seen waters rise to levels unseen since 1910, when a massive flood swamped the capital. Four people have been confirmed killed in the flooding, which swept through the towns of Simbach am Inn and Triftern, while others have been reported missing. Also see France & Germany battle deadly floods & Rivers in France, Germany burst banks; floods kill 6

CLIMATE CHANGE

W-Bengal Tired of Running From the River Rising waters are quickly submerging the Sundarbans and drowning its livelihoods. As the region’s men leave to find stable income, women make the best of what remains. Detailed report about Sundarbans: How river, impacted by climate change, is affecting lives of people and how they are coping.

ENVIRONMENT

Maharashtra Konkan will soon be next Vidarbha, warns documentary In the documentary named My Disappearing Farms made by a Mumbai-based former journalist, farmers talk about how the farming practise has gone considerably down in Sindhudurg, as the present generation was not at all keen on farming due to several reasons. The rising costs and shortage of labour, along with the changes in rainfall patterns, are some of the major reasons for the decline in farming in the region. As per official figures, in the last two decades, over 12,500 acres–equivalent to the size of 4,000 cricket grounds — of rice farms in Sindhudurg have turned fallow. According to the farmers the actual numbers are even higher.

MP  First proof on presence of Eurasian Otters in India For the first time in history of India’s wildlife conservation, the near threatened Eurasian Otters have been discovered and captured on camera in Satpura Tiger Reserve and in the Kanha-Pench wildlife corridor, confirming presence of these elusive creatures in the country. The photo evidence was obtained between Nov, last year and Feb when Wildlife Conservation Trust & MP Forest Department undertook a joint camera trapping study across 58 sq.kms in Satpura Hill Range and Kanha-Pench corridor. It’s a good news & signifies  the health of rivers there.

Kerala  Once nearly extinct, Otter return to revitalized Thoothapuzha river Smooth-coated otters, after a long absence, have finally returned to the Thoothapuzha River due to sustained conservation effort by the residents of Thootha village. Having understood that the otters need their space, villagers have been trying to ensure that little waste finds its way into the river & detrimental practices like dynamite fishing & sand mining are stopped. Otters are apex riparian predators in this river ecosystem, along with being important bio-indicators of the ecological health of the river. By reviving the river, the villagers have not only gifted themselves a healthy environment and source of water, they have also gifted these gentle otters a safe home.

Uttarakhand Tankers ply 1.5 lakh litres water daily to parched Corbett With natural water sources inside the park practically drying up due to the heat, officials have had to arrange for water tanks to ensure that the animals’ drinking water requirements are adequately met. According to estimates, almost 1.5 lakh litres of water is being procured every day to fill up over 100 water holes inside the park. The exercise started in April with the onset of summer but as temperatures have risen, the quantum of water being purchased has also gone up. According to park officials, every day, 35-40 tankers arrive at the park, each carrying almost 4K litres of water. The water is then filled in the water holes either manually or with the help of pump sets.

Op-Ed A green hub in the North-East by Bahar Dutt The tribes of north-east India have for long been perceived as “enemies of nature”, due to their traditional practices such as jhum cultivation or hunting. Both wildlife scientists & the media have unwittingly contributed to this stereotype. The truth, as we all know, lies somewhere in between. For instance, we know now that jhum, or the practice of slash-and-burn agriculture, is not harmful, but the frequent shifting from one piece of land to another or the reduced jhum cycle leads to ecological damage. Likewise, some of the biggest threats to wildlife conservation come from habitat destruction to make way for roads and dams, while hunting may contribute only a small portion to that decline. And yet, rarely do we find the impact of large development projects on biodiversity discussed in conservation literature.

SANDRP DRP April-May Issue The April May 2016 issue of our magazine “Dams, Rivers & People” are now available online at following links: DRP Apr May 2016: Image of the cover page, including index is given below. The issue is focused on the unprecedented drought that about 400 million people are facing this year. The six articles in this issue with separate links to each are given below.

You may like to see DRP News Bulletin 30 May 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 22 May 2016

5 Comments on “DRP News Bulletin 06 June 2016 (India to be power surplus for next 3 yrs, then why govt continue to pursue hydro projects)

  1. Dear … Hydro power requires long term planning. It is very good for picking load.There are many more advantages. One should not forget fundamentals. Please don’t have attitude of simply opposing like politicians and spoil your immage. S b Kulkarni.

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    • But SIR, do we even know how much of hydropower generation is providing peaking power? NO ONE (not CEA, not Load Despatch Centres, Nor ERCs, nor power departments, nor individual operators are reporting this. If we are not even monitoring or reporting we cannot even start optimising it and if we cannot even start optimising (and when there are lot of anecdotal cases where projects that CAN provide peaking power, is not operating as peaking stations), where is the case for more hydro for peaking?

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  2. The website of CEA gives following information:
    Seasonal load curves of our regional grids match with the pattern of hydro power generation. During summer/monsoon season when the generation at hydro power plants is high, the load factor of the system is high due to heavy agricultural load. During winter, the thermal stations operating at base load and hydro stations working as peak load stations will take care of weather beating loads. Thus the operational needs of hydro & thermal stations are complimentary and the balanced mix helps in optimal utilization of the capacity.

    Yes, its correct that these are not managed well. Then what in India is? There has been scams in every department. With time governance gets better and management improves. Should we wait till the governance becomes top class? Coal power is opposed, nuclear power is opposed, hydro is opposed. Of course the argument is that they are not conceived properly, which reverts the argument to good governance.

    India is not going to cease to exist after 3 years. And neither the opposition is going to cease under any circumstance. its bread and butter for some. 🙂

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    • THe information you have cited from CEA website is clearly not sufficient to conclude that there is any attempt at optimising power generation from hydropower projects during peaking hours, not is there any attempt to understand the impact of peaking power generation from hydropower projects, nor any attempt at managing peaks.

      The last statement is clearly is bad taste and not worth responding to.

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  3. I have no doubt that opposing Govt is legitimate and making a profession out of it is also legitimate. I have no intention of mud slinging.

    Your opposition is on mismanagement in water sector. But as citizen the mismanagement in water sector does not surprise me. I find horrible situation in education, health, law and order, justice and the list goes on and on. You put your hand in any bag, you are bound to come out with filth. Can a particular sector become a sole exception? Extract itself from the overall governance? There is a news of Punjab CM allowing new tubewells. Is it the politician initiating a wrong path or is it the public forcing wrong politics?

    Chief Minister of Delhi is quoted. But a newspaper quoted CEO of DJB supporting Dams.Also what happens if next CM of delhi wants dams just as Ms Uma Bharti wants ken-betwa link?

    But yes, Mr AK has gone beyond opposition and shown what actually is effective.

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