Uma threatens stir over delay in Ken-Betwa interlinking Water Minister Uma Bharti on June 07 threatened an agitation if there were further delays to the wildlife clearances necessary for the storied Ken-Betwa river-interlinking project. This is TOO Much! Union Minister threatening to go on Fast, demanding environment clearance to Ken Betwa link! Calling it a national crime to stop clearance to Ken Betwa link. Saying if the project is not cleared in next meeting, she will go on fast! Claiming that the link will help Marathwada!! It wont help even Bundelkhand, but the Union Minister seems to be setting completely wrong, precedent, which also ultra legal. On the other hand The Hindu has been consistently underplaying the impacts of the Ken Betwa project and over playing the official lines. Very strange to see this from THE HINDU. Before this in its June 02 meeting the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of environment ministry 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. The meeting could not come to a conclusion as the members of the EAC had several doubts regarding the project’s hydrological feasibility, its impact on hydrology and wildlife too and found that many serious issues related to the project are yet to resolved. In the last week of May 2016, SANDRP in a letter to EAC has written about Ken-Betwa project & why EAC should not clear this. Please help us spread the word and urgently write to EAC if you agree. Himanshu Thakkar coordinator SANDRP points out that the Ken-Betwa link, in essence, Ken-Betwa link 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.
SANDRP Blog Community driven water conservation initiatives in 2016 drought The compilation underlines that community driven and local water conservation methods even today, remain viable and cost-effective alternatives to rejuvenate depleted groundwater aquifers. With government support, these structures could be upgraded and productively combined with modern water harvesting & conserving techniques. This may be a far more sustainable approach to alleviating the water scarcity crisis across India.
SANDRP Guest Blog Experimental drought monitor for India by Prof Vimal Mishra (IIT Gandhinagar) Real-time drought monitoring and forecast in India is essential to support a large agricultural community. Prof. Vimal Mishra and his group (Water and Climate Lab) developed a real-time drought monitoring platform for India. The system provides conditions based on meteorological (rainfall based), hydrological (runoff based), and agricultural (soil moisture based) droughts and updates everyday.
Madhya Pradesh Save water, earn money: Dewas farmers script a success story Lives of thousands of farmers in Dewas district have taken a turn for the better in the last 10 years, courtesy an idea of farm land introduced in 2006-07 by the then collector Umakant Umrao. This idea soon turned into the ‘Pani Bachao Dhan Kamao’ (save water, earn money) campaign under which farmers were urged to dig out one tenth area of their land and turn it into farm ponds. SANDRP had reported in detail about this success story in this blog. Also see, Villagers dig 270 ponds to store rain water 200 villages in Indore’s rural landscape have undertaken a revolutionary project to battle water crisis. They are digging ponds deeper to create bigger water bowls to capture rain water. More than 270 ponds have been dug deeper by more than 18,000 villagers in less than 45 days. And villagers say they are ready to store the monsoon bounty. Another Positive story, this time from villages around Indore.
Maharashtra Prosperity in times of drought Use of alternatives like water shed development, afforestation, farm bunding, organic farming, vermi-composting, agro-meteorology, farm pond, renewable energy, water budgeting, micro-irrigation, fodder cultivation etc. has greatly benefited the villages of Wadhona, Vizora, Sunderwadi, Padmavati, Bhorkheda & Vadod Tangda in Jalna district of Marathwada. The mammoth task of developing a watershed, de-silting, bunding etc. has also led to massive employment opportunities for the farm workers and labourers and additional income for farmers in the villages. Positive story of how seven villages are unaffected by drought in the middle of drought hit Jalna district in Marathwada in Maharashtra, thanks to work initiated by WOTR.
Andhra Anantpur farmers sign pact to share ground water Instead of blaming the monsoon and fate for ground water depletion, 25 farmers at Kummaravandla Pally formed a collective Kolagunti Ummadi Neeti Yajamanya Sangham to “share groundwater with each other” to sustain their crops. This led to the concept of networking of borewells to secure rain-fed crops of all farmers, irrespective of borewell ownership. To ensure compliance, the farmers signed a MoU in the presence of district officials. The agreement led to a new way of agriculture in the 72 acres of land of 25 farmers. Since 2010, the cropping pattern has changed, leading to diversity of crops, reduction in costs of cultivation; improvement in value of produce and profit.
Expert Speak This is the most farmer-unfriendly govt in independent India In the lastest interview Swaraj Abhiyan’s co-founder Yogendra Yadav says that politics is a realm where demand and supply rarely reach an equilibrium. It’s a classic situation where supply side constraints make such a difference. If there was one moment in our nation’s history when we needed farmer movements, it is today. And if there is one moment where farmer movements are the weakest and fragmented, it is today. They are fragmented on regional lines, cropping lines (sugarcane, tobacco, rubber farmers), class lines (rich farmers, agricultural labour). And people who are recognized to be farmer leaders are actually leaders of no more than one or two districts. We don’t even have a truly state-level leader of the farmers, forget a national leader. Yogendra Yadav is making a strong statement here, but from all accounts, seems realistic one. Also see, A farmer’s message for PM
Maharashtra Stealing of water rampant In a drought situation, as currently prevailing in Marathwada region, the temptation & indeed in many cases, the compulsion to procure water by means fair or foul, increases manifold. According to Rudresh Kumar Sugam, researcher water loss due to leakage and theft is as high as 90% in some areas. A good deal of the water used by smaller players in the Rs6K Cr packaged water business is illegally procured. Restrictions on drawing of groundwater have been imposed in numerous areas to prevent further depletion of the water table, but it has made little difference. Water released for drinking water in Nanded is being pumped out by farmers en-route.
Madhya Pradesh Drought forces Sec-144 in Betul town In wake of deepening water crisis section 144 was imposed in Betul town by local administration on June 06. Any new or ongoing, private or government construction work have been banned till June 25. Earlier, section 144 was imposed in Icchawar town of Sehore district on May 23, banning the use of motor pumps, pipes to wash vehicles or bathe their cattle, for gardening activities, use of any water source (whether private or govt) located in municipal area for any other purpose including agriculture. Use of such water was allowed only for drinking water and domestic use like bathing, cleaning utensils and washing clothes. Also see, जलसंकट:50 फीट गहरे कुएं से पानी भरने को मजबूर ग्रामीण
INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES
Odisha Govt seeks a relook into Polavaram project green clearances The State Govt has stepped up its opposition to the Polavaram dam project and demanded that all clearances given to it should be examined again. It recently approached the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and requested it to re-examine all clearances given to the project including forest and environment clearance and consent accorded to it by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and technical advisory committee. The State Govt. has already filed a case in the Supreme Court urging it to stop construction of the project. Besides, it has also demanded that the Centre should review the clearances. Very belated and possibly for public consumption, but if Odisha govt is serious about this, it would be good.
SANDRP Blog Drought shows how unreliable is hydro in changing climate India’s hydropower generation dropped by upto close to 20% compared to previous year in some of the months this year even as installed capacity of hydropower projects keeps climbing relentlessly. According to monthly generation figures from Central Electricity Authority, even as installed capacity of hydropower projects went up by 1516 MW in last one year, the power generation from hydropower projects dropped by 10.82%, 19.19%, 17.7% and 15.92% during February, March, April and May 2016 respectively at all India level, compared to the figures in the same months in 2015. It is clear that case for large hydro is diminishing with every passing day, only if our decision makers were to wake upto this reality, as soon as possible and stop running after the destructive large hydro projects.
Assam New Govt. faces people ire on big dams The State Govt on June 06 faced its first protest when several thousand farmers braving the scorching from different parts of the state on buses & trains, gathered near Dighalipukhuri under the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) banner to oppose the construction of big dams in the Northeast. The big dam issue was also raised before CM Sarbananda Sonowal by the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad urging him to convene a tripartite meet among experts, protesters & govt to do away with all complexities pertaining to the issue. The KMSS also sent a memorandum to PM Narendra Modi, demanding a halt to all kinds of construction work in the hydel project and its decommissioning.
Centre NHPC has a bright future: KM Singh In an interview, NHPC chairman & MD KM Singh says that NHPC power stations generated 23,683 mega units in 2015-16, the highest-ever generation by it. He further said that NHPC at present is executing 4 HEPs with total installed capacity of 3290Mw including Teesta Low Dam Stage-IV, Kishanganga, Parbati-II & Subansiri Lower. It is totally wrong statement by the NHPC Chief hydro projects have failed in several aspects and there is no progress in Subansiri Lower due to local resistance for past many years.
Arunachal Small hydro projects to be promoted in state NITI Aayog has agreed that projects up to 100Mw could soon be promoted and taken up as small hydropower projects under Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Aayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant disclosed this during a meeting with CM Kalikho Pul in New Delhi. Mr. Pul had sought the support of the planning body to help develop State’s untapped hydropower potential in realizing PM Narendra Modi’s vision of 24×7 power for all by 2022. To boost development of small hydropower in the State, Mr. Pul advocated that the process of obtaining various clearances for the projects must be expedited and even made into a single window clearance system. Pointing out the impact of basin studies on the viability of small projects on river tributaries, he observed that such studies resulted in delay in implementation of the projects despite clearances obtained from CEA and MoEF & CC.
Hydro project affected resettled in Dahung NEEPCO Hydro project affected Bugun community of Bichom in West Kameng has been resettled and rehabilitated at Dahung on June 2 last. 91 households were resettled at Dahung at a cost amounting to Rs 21 crore.
NAPM Gujarat paying heavy prices for damming Narmada river Recent press report mentioned about the Arabian Sea ingress up to 40 Kms and depleting width of the river Narmada near Bharuch city, exposing the severe environmental impacts of a series of dams built upstream. This clearly indicates the serious impact of Sardar Sarovar in Gujarat on to agricultural land, famers, fish workers as well as the industries in the Dahej coastal areas. It was always an anticipated and expected impact of building a monstrous dam and stopping the huge water flow of Narmada coming from a distance as long as 1300 Kms. Today itself, the sea has begun entering into the river bed of Narmada substantially affecting the farms, the ground water i.e. drinking water, irrigation and industrial water. In short the 41 km between Sardar Sarovar and the estuary at Bharuch is going to be drought affected and drought prone due to the river being stopped with 139 meters height- Sardar Sarovar.
Madhya Pradesh & Gujarat Dam displaces tribals have become ‘Refugees’ in their own land In the bucolic uplands of Dhar district, a new chapter in the controversial Sardar Sarovar Dam is unfolding. And this one is beyond imagination. Before the displaced people of the dam could be rehabilitated, in recent months, anti-dam protesters have detected a new group of displaced people. But they have been displaced, not by the backwater of the reservoir but by a well-concealed and long-run scandal. To swindle money from a rehabilitation scheme, lands of thousands of tribal families in Dhar have been given to original dam-displaced people, even without their knowledge. Now as the families in this drought-affected district discover themselves as landless, they are being termed as the new ‘refugees’ of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river. Also see, Gates of justice being closed for the people of Narmada Valley
Centre Storage Status of 91 Major Reservoirs as on June 09, 2016 The water storage available was 24.85 BCM which is 16% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This was 58% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 79% of storage of average of last ten years.
National PM’s irrigation scheme to go back to water ministry The scheme that was rolled out by Ministry of Agriculture two years ago, with the intention to provide irrigation facilities to every farmer. However, the control of the scheme will go back to the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), which was also assigned the scheme initially. A cabinet note is being prepared to facilitate the transfer. The idea behind transferring the scheme to MoWR is to focus on big projects which have been pending from last two decades. There are more than 89 such irrigation projects. So PMSKY, which was earlier with MoWR, was transferred to Ministry of Agriculture, is now going to be back to MoWR with renewed emphasis on big irrigation projects, surely a recipe for disaster.
Telangana Medak agitation spills over, farmer commits suicide The agitation over the Mallana Sagar irrigation project has claimed the life of a distressed farmer from Etigadda-Kishtapur village in Medak district. The 29-year-old farmer Nayini Karunakar committed suicide on June 01 as he was afraid of losing his agricultural land if the project became a reality. The govt’s sanction for construction of the Mallana Sagar reservoir as part of an irrigation project is likely to leave 14 villages in Medak district, without power as a large amount of water would be diverted for the project. More than 20K acres of land will be acquired for the project & farmers of some of the affected villages incl have been on a relay hunger strike for the past 8 days.
Maharashtra Experts worry rivers being destroyed in name of rejuvenation The state govt’s ‘Jal Yukt Shivar’ programme has drawn flak from water activists, who say the ambitious water conservation programme is doing more damage to rivers than doing any good. Activists allege that government departments, social organisations and NGOs are killing rivers by deepening, widening and even straightening them, though the original plan was to deepen only canals and nullahs. Most of these works have been taken up in Marathwada, which bore maximum brunt of water scarcity. Concerned water activists have requested CM Devendra Fadnavis to intervene and save the rivers from “extreme” efforts. They want strict guidelines on desilting streams and rivers. The report is based on SANRP letter & blog on the issue.
Tribunal fines PMC, MPCB for river pollution The NGT has imposed a penalty of Rs 2 lakh each on the Pune Municipal Corporation(PMC) & the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board over the issue of untreated domestic sewage and industrial effluents flowing into Mula-Mutha in the city. The court expressed its dismay over the PMC’s knee-jerk approach to a 9-point set of information it had sought regarding present and future generation-level of domestic sewage and operating capacity of existing STPs, among others.
Madhya Pradesh At Simhastha, govt fishes in Kshipra’s troubled waters The arrival of Simhastha this year and the need to provide clean water for the month-long religious extravaganza proved a major challenge for the government. The govt undertook many faulty measures to save its face. To start with, the govt implemented the Khan diversion project to avoid further contamination of Kshipra. Instead of cleaning and rejuvenating the original Kshipra river, the govt decided to spend more than Rs 430 crores on Narmada Kshipra Link Project and pumped Narmada water into Kshipra from its source near Indore to provide clean water for Simhastha. But these face-saving measures did not really serve the real purpose. An earlier excellent feature on Kshipra river also highlights how dependent people lost out. There is one more interesting revelation in this interview by the chairman of the Simhastha Kumbh organising committee who said that the primary objective of this link project is to provide Narmada water for Simhastha activities. Also see, शिप्रा को प्रवाहमान बनाने पर खर्च होंगे 150 करोड़
Bihar Understanding Kamla’s sorrow could control Bihar’s floods The Kamla river enters India near Jaynagar in Madhubani district in Bihar from Nepal where it originates. By then, it is already a sizeable river, having been met by several tributaries in Nepal. Kamla floods regularly in monsoon. The traditional system of interconnected village tanks and chaurs or wetlands has long sponged up the worst of the floods. This role was shared by the paleo channels. But the construction of embankments in the mid-1960s cut off the links the river had with the paleo channels and the chaur-pond system. This had two direct, but contrasting, impacts. First, the embankments increased the intensity of the floods for those living within them. On the other hand, the traditional ‘detention spaces’ were bereft of water, leading to crop failure in those villages.
Kerala Pollution eating away Kallayi river The river, which originates from Chelakulathur in Peruvayal and covering a distance of 22 km before joining the Arabian Sea, is one of the smallest in the State. According to P.S. Harikumar, Scientist the construction of concrete walls on the banks of the river by private individuals and dumping of solid and liquid waste are a cause for concern. Moreover, the formation of small islands due to clay and silt deposits results affects flow of water. On the other hand according to a study organic pollution & salinity intrusion have led to the decline of water quality in 6 river basins in the State, underlining the need for strict monitoring of water resources and initiating pollution-control measures to address public health hazards.
Telangana Threat to waterfall from stone-crushers plant The controversy surrounding the establishment of a highly polluting stone crusher & a hot mix plant close to the pristine Pochera waterfall in Adilabad district is making Govt. look miserable. The State govt seems to be unable to make its writ run as entrepreneurs dump stone crushing and hot mix plant machinery and building material in huge quantities at the site, despite the cancellation of the no-objection certificate issued by the revenue authorities and being orally warned against carrying on their operations. The cancellation of the NoC came in early March but the Mines and Geology Department, which had given permission to quarry stone in the vicinity of the waterfall, has not bothered to cancel the permit.
NARMADA Gujarat Govt to release 5K cusecs of water from Narmada dam The state govt finally has decided to discharge around 5000 cusec water from Sardar Sarovar Dam in the downstream of river Narmada to dilute the effect of high tide. Earlier, only 600 cusec was released from the dam. The decision was taken after the warning of a forecast of a high tide in the Arabian sea warning of 10.32 m waves near Dahej, creating fear among masses that in absence of low discharge from dam, saline sea water will also enter too deep, upto even Zanor. Meanwhile citizens movement has also begun to sensitize the state government about seriousness of the issue as salinity ingress is affecting agriculture and contaminating groundwater, thereby affecting citizens and industries alike. It is interesting that the news says the water flow downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam will be increased from current (Not clear if that was really happening) 600 cusecs to 5000 cusecs, but it does not say is this actually the continuous releases 24 hrs a day and for how long. Typical ambiguity, but one wishes the reporter were to bring this out. Earlier, in a meeting between Govt. officials and Dahej Indusries Association, it was decided that a temporary bund proposed near Mangleshwar is the immediate solution to check the ingress. According to report the govt. was not willing to release water from the dam into the Narmada river but later on the it agreed to release 5K cusec in the river. Having destroyed the Narmada River, estuary and fisherfolk’s livelihoods, salinity ingress is now having huge impacts due to Sardar Sarovar Dam. The Dam authorities are refusing to release any water to the river, and they are looking for structural solutions to pollution and salinity ingress, these will only multiply the problems, the costs initially likely to be borne by the poor farmers and others, ultimately by the whole society. According to another media report with forecast of high tide in Arabian sea near Dahej on June 05, the report due to sea water ingress the threat of saline water reaching the Narmada river bed near Bharuch city has increased many folds, forcing prompt action by the district administration. 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 Centre Status of Jal Marg Vikas Project on River Ganga ‘Jal Marg Vikas’ is being developed between Allahabad and Haldia to cover a distance of 1620 kms. The project envisages development of a fairway with 3 metres depth, which would enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 ton vessels on the river. The project is being implemented with technical and investment support from World Bank and would be completed over a period of 6 years at an estimated cost of Rs. 4200 crore. The total procurement Plan for Phase 1 of the project from Varanasi to Haldia is Rs.2041.25 Cr. Investment in UP stretch of Ganga is Rs 700 crore.
YAMUNA Delhi Did no damage to floodplains’ ecology: AOL The art of living (AoL) on June 06 refuted the allegations that its three day mega event had damaged Yamuna floodplains and hinted that it may approach the SC the NGT’s order which asked it to pay Rs 5cr as compensation. AOL claimed that there has been no scientific assessment of pre- and post-situation of the floodplains until now. Stating that they were “sensitive” towards environment and can never cause any irreversible damage to the floodplain, AOL’s legal and environmental experts also displayed satellite images and photographs to claim that no environmental damage was done.
Haryana File report on sand mining: NGT The green tribunal has slammed the State Govt. over illegal sand mining and extraction of minerals on the floodplains of Yamuna in the state and directed it to submit a report on the violations and action it has taken to check them. The court also directed the Govt. to inform it about the total number of illegal mining cases filed till date and the action taken against violators. The matter is listed for next hearing on Aug 4. On Feb 18, the NGT had cracked the whip on illegal sand mining and extraction of minor minerals in Saharanpur district of UP while slapping a fine of Rs 50cr on 5 lease holders for carrying out excessive unauthorised mining resulting in damage and degradation of environment.
WETLAND & WATER BODIES
National Experts continue to raise voices against DWR 2016 The changes proposed in Draft Wetland Rules (DWR) 2016 have left scientists, experts & activists very concerned. They believe that the DWR needs to be looked at in the larger context of what the current govt has been doing in terms of environmental legislation. Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP stated that there is complete reluctance to protect wetlands, and some of the gaps in the proposed rules are absolutely shocking. The Draft is a half-hearted attempt to replace the previous one from 2010, it needs to be redone completely. Environmentalists claim there are multiple issues with the DWR. The main bone of contention is the doing away of the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, which notifies and regulates wetlands.
UP No construction inside Surajpur wetlands: NGT The green tribunal on June 02 has restrained UP Govt. from carrying out any construction inside Surajpur wetlands in Greater Noida after a plea claimed construction of permanent structures inside the eco-sensitive area. Directing UP Forest Department not to chop trees in the reserved forest area of 308 hectares in Gautam Budh Nagar Forest Division till July 14 the court also asked the state govt to identify the extent of wetlands in the reserved forest area “with reasons” and submit the decision before it on the next date. The matter is listed for next hearing on July 14.
Puducherry Kalivelli wetland comes under threat At a distance of 18 km from the north of Puducherry, a haven for hundreds of species of flora and fauna, Kalivelli wetland nurtures several species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. However, this rich ecosystem has now come under threat due to land encroachments and increasing shrimp farms. Because of this, researchers believe that there is an urgent need for the government to act and protect this wetland to ensure that the lake remains a safe haven for its diverse flora and fauna.
Delhi Most city lakes a picture of neglect According to experts Delhi’s water woes could be minimised if the city’s 460 wetlands are rejuvenated and the groundwater recharge. With dumping of waste and algae deteriorating the water quality, most of these sites are a picture of neglect.
Green Peace Report Water scarcity cost power firms Rs2400cr revenue loss According to an analysis by Greenpeace India water shortages have led to coal power plant shut downs in West Bengal, Karnataka & Maharashtra. NTPC, Adani Power, GMR, Mahagenco and Karnataka Power Corporation are among the companies affected. Most of the losses have occurred between March and May, when plants have been unable to run due to a lack of water for cooling. The Greenpeace analysis includes case studies of two regions where water scarcity poses a financial risk to new coal plants – Solapur in Maharashtra and the Krishna basin in Karnataka. On the other hand since 2014, the Environment Ministry has given final clearance to 17GW of coal power plants, and first stage Terms of Reference to another 33 GW of new coal plants.
Centre Suggestions invited on Draft National Water Framework Bill and Draft Model Bill for Conservation, Protection, Regulation and Management of Ground Water Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has uploaded the draft national water framework bill and draft model bill for conservation, protection, regulation and management of ground water on its website (http://mowr.gov.in). The Draft National Water Framework Bill provides an overarching national legal framework based on principles for protection, conservation, regulation and management of water as a vital and stressed natural resource, under which legislation and executive action on water at all levels of governance can take place. The comments/suggestions/views from all Individuals/Experts /Organizations/Institutions on the above bill may be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org latest by June 25, 2016. The Draft Ground Water Model Bill is based on the principles of subsidarity, equitable distribution in an integrated approach. The State should act as a public trustee of ground water, which should be treated as a common pool resource to make sure that groundwater is protected, conserved, regulated and managed. The comments/suggestions/views from all Individuals/Experts/Organizations/Institutions on the above bill may be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org latest by June 25, 2016.
MANTHAN Report Diverting resources from agriculture to industry by Sripad Dharmadhikary Given the increasing competition for water for different uses like agriculture and domestic supply, it is clear that such problems are likely to increase in the future. Take the case of Solapur in Maharashtra, near which the NTPC is building a 1320 MW thermal power plant. The State Govt. has told the NTPC that it will not get water from Ujjani, and instead, should use treated sewage from Solapur town. However, there is another issue of concern which no one seems to have realized. Several thousand farmers are already using this sewage are now a worried lot as they have realized that their farming and entire source of livelihood is on the brink of vanishing.
Special Report Thirsty India heading for a crisis With surface water sources dwindling, people have shifted to unregulated tapping of ground water for agriculture and drinking leading to levels dipping by 3 times over the last 60 years, making groundwater the main drinking water source for 80 per cent of the population. Another concern is that 50% of ground water sources in the country are not “completely safe”. Data from Central Ground Water Board’s latest report shows that of the 660 districts, ground water in 276 districts has high levels of fluoride, 387 districts have nitrate above safe levels and 86 districts arsenic.
Punjab 1.25 lakh new tube wells may deepen groundwater troubles Govt. plan to dole out nearly 1.25 lakh new tube well connections this year is likely to deal a major blow to the already depleting underground water level as it would encourage farmers to go for more paddy cultivation. Currently, out of 141 agricultural development blocks in Punjab, 102 fall in the ‘dark zone’, where water is 200ft or deeper. Experts say Punjab has hardly received above-normal rain for the past one decade but farmers saved their crop by running all 14 lakh tube wells. Reflecting on farmers sowing at least 70,000 hectares less of cotton compared to last year, Agriculture Director Jasbir Singh Bains said that till the govt. ensures good or stable remuneration on crops other than wheat and paddy, it will be difficult to goad farmers to plant anything else and make an ambitious plan for diversification. On the other hand a year after promoting the cultivation of basmati crop under the crop diversification plan, Punjab Agricultural University has now advised farmers to restrain from sowing basmati stating that sufficient stocks of basmati were available since it was cultivated on 8.62 lakh hectares in 2014-15. Any further cultivation of basmati on 7.60 lakh hectares during 2015-16 coupled with the huge stocks led to a crash in basmati prices in the domestic market. The paddy sown area in the state is 27-28 lakh ha.
Op-Ed The proposed ground water law needs improvement The Model Bill for the Conservation, Protection, Regulation & Management of Groundwater, now in the public domain for feedback, could not have been framed at a more appropriate time but the draft does not grapple with either the nitty-gritty or the big picture. Free electricity, for instance, has led to water-intensive paddy & sugarcane being indiscriminately grown even in water-deficit areas. The proposed law, which seeks to empower local bodies, is not clear about whether a new governance framework should replace the old. The new policy must explain how the Centre plans to persuade the States to enact a similar law. Finally, water management cannot be seen in isolation of policies that promote balanced, sustainable practices in both rural and urban spaces.
Uttar Pradesh NGT appoints panel to inspect sites illegal sand mining sites The green tribunal has constituted a panel comprising of retired forest official Anmol Kumar & advocate Sharad Chauhan as court commissioners & directed them to inspect every site where the sand mining “appears to have been carried out along Betwa river bank in Jalaun & Hamirpur districts of and probe the allegations of rampant illegal sand mining in the area. The green panel also directed the District Magistrates of Jalaun and Hamirpur to provide assistance to the court commissioners “as and when required”. The matter is now listed for next hearing on July 19.
Karnataka Sand mining ban in Dakshina Kannada from June 15 In view of the fish breeding monsoon season, sand mining has been banned in Dakshina Kannada district for 60 days from June 15 to Aug15. The announcement was made by district Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim at a review meeting to discuss the preparedness for the monsoon season. Builders of govt structures had been advised to put together enough stock of sand before the ban comes into effect. Inter-district sand transportation will also remain banned during the period. Also see, Mining dept collects Rs2.19 Cr fines for illegal sand transport
Uttarakhand Kedar reconstruction work may lead to catastrophe A technical committee formed by the State Disaster Management Department has raised serious questions over the reconstruction work undertaken at Kedarnath, which was devastated by flash floods in 2013. The committee, comprising scientists and civil engineers has claimed that the newly built ghat on the confluence of rivers Mandakini and Saraswati in Kedarnath has restricted the flow of Mandakini and increased the river velocity which can lead to catastrophic loss of life and property in case flash floods of a similar nature as the one in 2013 occur in the region. In order to safeguard lives, the committee has recommended immediate dismantling of all the partially damaged structures near the Kedarnath temple and a ban on any new construction in the vicinity of the shrine.
National Renewable energy surpasses capacity of hydel projects As per the latest assessment of the Central Electricity Authority, the total capacity of renewable energy projects expanded to 42850Mw, overtaking hydropower that stood at 42,783 mw, out of the country’s total capacity of about 3 lakh mw on April 30. The report also says that hydropower’s share has declined steeply from the 45% during mid-1960s to 26% in 2005. There is a proposal to increase the small dam size limit from 25 mw to 100mw to encourage their growth, since that will make them eligible for tax benefits. Globally, too, dam-building has suffered because of its ecological ramifications, especially after the World Commission on Dams, headed by Nelson Mandela, in its 2000 report, said large dams have not provided the benefits that were expected while their negative impact has been greater than imagined.
Delhi Govt aims to generate 1K mw solar power in five years The Govt. on June 6 approved the Delhi Solar Energy Policy, aimed at generating 1K Mw solar power in the next five years. Officials said the policy has been prepared in consultation with the Delhi Dialogue Commission after extensive consultations with local and international experts. The Govt. will facilitate capital subsidy of 30% provided by Union ministry of new & renewable energy to domestic consumers, for which the exercise of empanelment of vendors is under process.
Punjab Lambi all set to be renewable energy hub Lambi Assembly segment is all set to become the hub of renewable energy production in the state with some new projects coming up in the near future. This constituency already houses a 19Mw solar power project at Panjawa village & a 14.5Mw biomass power project at Channu village. Further, a solar power project of 28MW commissioned at a cost of Rs 202cr was scheduled to be inaugurated on June 06 apart from laying of the foundation stone of a 150MW power project at a total commissioning cost of Rs 798 cr tomorrow at Banwala village.
Nepal seeks to drain giant glacial lake near Everest Nepali soldiers have kicked off efforts to partially drain a giant glacial lake near Mount Everest, fearing possible flooding that could threaten the lives of thousands. Scientists say climate change is causing Himalayan glaciers to melt at an alarming rate, creating huge glacial lakes which could burst their banks and devastate mountain communities. Imja Tsho, located at an altitude of 16,437 feet, just 10 km south of the world’s highest peak, is the fastest-growing glacial lake in Nepal. The surface area covered by the lake expanded from 0.4 to 1.01 square km between 1984 and 2009, triggering concerns that it may breach its banks and flood villages downstream.
Bhutan Hydro projects a threat to golden mahaseer The Punatsangchhu river, which runs for 320 km from its source in Bhutan to the point where it meets the Brahmaputra in India, is one of the places where the iconic fish is found. Two major hydroelectric dam projects – Punatsangchhu-I and Punatsangchhu-II – are being undertaken on the river. The electricity generated by these dams – and sold to India – is one of the main drivers of the Bhutanese economy, but it is unclear what impact they will have on the fish. According to experts in absence of proper scientific study, there is no way of knowing how the dams will affect the fish. Nevertheless, the number has declined since the hydroelectric projects commenced.
Pakistan Dam break risk for the Attabad landslide In a paper just published in the journal Landslides, Chen et al. (2016) have analyzed the stability of the Attabad landslide dam in northern Pakistan, and the potential impacts of such an event on downstream infrastructure. This is a very important study, given that the landslide continues to impound a vast quantity of water in a well-populated valley.
REST OF WORLD
US 40 years later after Teton Dam catastrophe struck The damage caused by the flood was massive. The wall of water first hit Wilford obliterating & carrying every home & business in the community downstream. More than 13K livestock were said to have perished. The water destroyed seven bridges, and nearly 80% of the valley’s 700 miles of county roads were washed away. Railways also were completely destroyed. 40 yrs ago, on the World Environment Day, one of the worst dam disasters of US and the World happened on June 5, 1976, when newly built TETON dam, built by US Bureau of Reclamation, burst in very first feeling, completely exposing the calculations of Bureau.
Tamil Nadu ADB loan to help tackle climate threats in Cauvery delta The Asian Development Bank has approved a $100 million loan to improve water management in the Vennar subbasin of the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu—one of India’s most water-stressed states. The project will strengthen the embankments of six major irrigation water channels in the Vennar system to make them more resilient to floods and upgrade water regulators, sluices and pump stations. To boost management, more community members will be tapped to take part in planning and delivery of water services, training will given to state water resource department officers & flood forecasting and warning systems and flood risks maps will also be drawn up to help communities respond more proactively and effectively to extreme events.
Centre Ministry releases state-wise list of sanctioned projects The Environment Ministry on June 07 released state-wise list of public utility projects which have been given forest and environmental clearances between May 2014 and April this year. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had earlier told that over 2,000 projects involving Rs 10 lakh crore investment, which were stuck for years and some of them in key sectors, have been given environmental clearance in the last two years. When environment minister talks about so many lakh crores of investment worth of projects cleared and that there is no pendency, everything is being cleared for ease of doing business in as short a time as possible, it is sure sign that there is no hope for environment.
National NGT on a sticky wicket According to this report, industry players want more involvement & appointment of technical members to the tribunal. Environment activists, on the other hand, have consistently upheld the institution’s value and demand that more powers be given to the NGT. But there is common consensus amid both of them that the tribunal needs to achieve greater Bench strength to be more accessible to larger sections of the society and ulfill its ultimate objective.
Madhya Pradesh Fly ash causing havoc across a dozen villages The district administration has given the plant officials a week’s time to contain the fly ash problem. The officials now claim they are working towards a permanent solution. But for now, they are hoping it rains, which will help set the fly ash in the pond and bring temporary relief. People are facing serious impacts of fly ash flying all over the place from the Singhaji Thermal Power Station, it is already having serious health impacts, but none of the authorities seems to be doing anything effective, right upto CM and MoEF.