DRP News Bulletin 11 July 2016 (Namami Gange proving mere an extension of Ganga Action Plan)

Ganga Manthan to Ganga Act: No progress made Chairing the 6th meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority on July 04  Water Minister Uma Bharti has said that a new act will be formulated for speedy implementation of Namami Gange programme. On July 06, giving a major boost to Namami Gange Programme Ms Uma Bharti has also announced that 231 projects will be inaugurated at various locations in Uttrakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana and Delhi on July 07. Incidentally, on July 07, 2014 NDA Govt. launched the Namami Gange programme to rejuvenate the river to be executed over five years. The project has a budget outlay of Rs 20K crore which is 10 times more than what was allocated in previous Ganga Action Plan (GAP) phase I and II. But more money and the PM minister’s zeal, notwithstanding, Namami Gange seems a carryover from its predecessor in one crucial respect.  The overwhelming emphasis on pollution abatement that had led to the GAP’s failure bedevils Namami Gange as well. In certain respects, Namami Gange is an improvement on the GAP. It seems that the govt has not learnt lessons from the GAP’s failure. The lag between sewage generation and treatment has remained between 55% & 60% even as new STPs were built under the GAP. This is because a lot of the waste is generated outside the sewerage network and is not conveyed to the STPs. A large section of the country’s urban population lives outside this network. Moreover, the STPs can only do so much. The official statistics show that the STPs are currently running at a deficiency of 55%. The problem of STPs is three-fold: underestimation, shortage and underutilization due to lack of a well-connected underground sewage system.

The problems associated with river Ganga, however, do not end or begin in its middle course dotted by factories. The upstream of the river, where Bhagirathi and Alaknanda join to form the Ganga, is part of a very fragile Himalayan ecosystem. Caution is needed in implementing the Namame Gange projects along this stretch. The Kedarnath flood of Uttarakhand is an example of what a combination of melting glaciers and mindless construction can do to a sensitive geological zone. With more than 40 dams, barrages and weirs  and many more planned aviral Ganga seems nothing more than an empty catchphrase. Ganga is the sum total of the contribution of some 12 major tributaries. Without a rejuvenation strategy for each of Ganga’s tributaries, there can be no Ganga rejuvenation.

Meanwhile, increased fishing activity and vessel traffic are proving to be the disturbing element downstream. Deploying more scientific methods for fishing and limiting it to levels enough for species’ sustenance might help without significantly affecting livelihoods. The direct consequences of climate change are also felt in the lower belts, around the Ganga Sagar region. Land is disappearing but no comprehensive plans have emerged as yet to provide for the rehabilitation of the region’s inhabitants.

MONSOON 2016

paddyfield-kZ6F--621x414@LiveMint

National Deficit rain in June keeps kharif sowing sluggish According to agriculture ministry data total area under Kharif sown is 215.87 lakh ha as on July 1 as compared to 279.27 lakh ha at this time last year. However, the paddy recorded marginal increase by covering 47.77 lakh ha so far this year as compared to 47.62 lakh ha in 2015-16. Areas under oilseeds & pulses continue to be a major concern will, however, continue to be a major concern. Sown area under oilseeds stands at merely 28.71 lakh ha as compared to 54.24 lakh ha at this time last year. Similarly, cotton too recorded poor sowing as its sown area stand at 30.59 lakh ha as compared to 60.16 lakh ha in the 2015-16. On water front, the availability in the country’s 91 major reservoirs has marginally increased from 23.20 billion cubic meter (BCM) on June 23 to 23.94 BCM on June 30 despite constant withdrawal of water from these water bodies.

Maharashtra Heavy showers heal drought scars in parched regions The rain-shadow region of Ahmednagar district has received more than normal rainfall during the rainy season so far even as the other districts Nandurbar and Nashik known to be receiving better rains fall behind. According to the rain gauges set up by the revenue department across talukas, the data shows that Ahmednagar district has received 111.5% of the average rainfall of 128 mm till July 8. The district received 142 mm rain. Nashik district has received 169.9mm rain, which is 67.3% of the 253mm expected rainfall till date. This was the lowest rainfall, while Nandurbar got 69%, Jalgaon 74.1% and Dhule has received 76% of rains. Surprisingly, the drought-prone regions on the western side of the respective districts have shown better rainfall than the traditional eastern sides, which are laced with Sahyadri and Satpuda mountain ranges in the division. Consistent heavy rainfall in the catchments of the dams in southern Maharashtra over the past 36 hours has increased water levels rapidly. Koyna, one of the major dams in the state, received almost 10 TMC inflow in less than two days, raising the water levels to 30.7 TMC.

 FLOOD 2016

 FD TOI

India has highest displaced population In 2015, over 19 million people were displaced within their own country in South Asia by natural calamities. The most affected populations are in India, China and Nepal which accounted for half of the global internal displacements.

National NDRF on alert for floods in 9 states After heavy rainfall in several regions in the past week, monsoon deficit has rapidly come down from 9% two days ago to nil, as per latest data from IMD. Almost 90% of the country’s areas have received normal to excess monsoon rainfall since the season started in June, the exceptions being Gujarat, Saurashtra and northeastern states which have recorded deficient rainfall. While the rainfall comes as a welcome relief after the last two consecutive failed monsoon seasons, several states are now grappling with floods or are on flood alert due to excess rainfall. After landslides and flood in Uttarakhand, 20 people died in Pithoragarh and Chamoli, according to a state official. In Assam, Brahmaputra, Subansari, Dikhow, Dhansiri and Jia Bharali rivers are flowing over the danger mark, affecting 257 villages in seven districts. According to one more news Flash floods and landslides following heavy downpours in Uttarakhand, Himachal, Arunachal & other northeastern states have claimed close to 40 lives. In the Northeast, continuous rains for the past few days hit normal life in Arunachal, Manipur and parts of Assam, while the small state of Tripura faced a severe fuel crisis as it remains cut off for nearly 45 days from the rest of the country. Meanwhile, incessant rains also hampered the rescue and relief efforts in the cloudburst-hit villages of Pithoragarh where the death toll climbed to 27 with nine more death and 3 more bodies being recovered on July 03. In Manipur, 2 days of heavy rain claimed the life of a girl in Churachandpur town, while some low-lying areas of Imphal continued to face flash floods on July 03 owing to the intense downpour in several areas of the state since July 01. In Assam, most rivers and their tributaries were flowing close to the danger mark, owing to heavy rainfall over the past couple of weeks. The IMD has predicted more heavy rains in the north & northeast India in the next 24 hours. Himalayan states still does not have any Doppler radars that can help predict such events with at least a few hours of advance notice.

Maduban Dam on Daman Ganga

Gujarat Coast Guard airlifts 10 men stranded in rising Damanganga Ten people from a village in Valsad district were airlifted by Indian Coast Guard personnel after water levels in Damanganga river rose suddenly on July 02. The incident happened near Borikachi village, where a group was searching for the body of a person who had drowned in the river. During the search, water level of the river suddenly rose due to release of water from a dam, leaving the group stranded on a portion of high ground in the middle of the river. (DAM water releases leads to disastrous situation.)  They had gone for fishing when the water level in the river suddenly started to surge owing to the ongoing rains & release of some water from Madhuban dam in Silvassa. (This report clearly mentions role of Dam in this disaster) Heavy rains in upstream areas of Madhuban dam have flooded river Damanganga, as a result inundating vast tracts of land in Umargam, Vapi and Valsad. On the other hand, heavy siltation in the riverbed of Tapi from Surat city to Kathor had caused floods in the past and this threat looms large this monsoon season too. At present continuous release of 3 lakh cusecs of water from Ukai dam can cause floods in the city.  On the other hand, the State forest department in a meeting with the agriculture and irrigation department has asked them to inform the local officials in advance when they were to release water from the dams and also the quantity of water to be released. There are four dams in Gir Sanctuary and one-Khodiyar in Amreli. This news report reveals that at least 10 lions got killed due to sudden release of water from Kodiyar dam in Amreli district, upstream of Gir Sanctuary and now forest dept has asked the irrigation dept to inform them in advance about the timing and quantum of releases as they can cause disaster.

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Assam 7 districts hit, almost half of Kaziranga flooded The flood situation in State continued to remain grim by July 06 with inundation caused by overflowing rivers affecting at least 88,000 people across 7 districts. Dhemaji remained the worst affected district with official sources putting the number of affected people there at over 57,000. The Brahmaputra was flowing above the danger mark at two places Nimatighat in Jorhat and Tezpur in Sonitpur district. Several tributaries of the Brahmaputra, including the Jia-Bharali, Dhansiri and Dikhow, were also flowing above the red mark in Sonitpur, Golaghat and Sivasagar districts, respectively. Floodwater of the Brahmaputra also entered the Kaziranga National Park, which is home to the largest population of the great Indian one-horned rhino.

Tamil Nadu Flood alert issued near Bhavani river The district administration has issued a flood alert on Friday to residents staying close to river Bhavani. They have been warned against taking a bath in the river. Heavy rains lashed the catchment areas of Western Ghats for the last few days. 

Haryana Good monsoon forecast leaves residents along Ghaggar panicky An above-normal monsoon forecast this year has raised anxiety levels among people living along the banks of Ghaggar. Also called the ‘River of Sorrow’, the state govt continues to dither on making plans to strengthen its embankments. Though no special project has been prepared for taming the river, the work to clean the river is almost done. But, when asked why the state govt had not prepared any plan for strengthening the embankments of Ghaggar, irrigation officials say that it would make all required arrangements if need arises. 

MADHYA PRADESH FLOOD 

MP Record Rain

भोपालमें देश की अब तक की सबसे तेज बारिश हुई है। 08 July रात एक बजे से सुबह छह बजे के बीच पांच घंटे में 10 इंच बारिश हो गई। यानी हर घंटे दो इंच। मुंबई, श्रीनगर और चेन्नई हुई अब तक की सबसे भयावह वर्षा में भी ऐसी रफ्तार नहीं थी, इससे पहले श्रीनगर का रिकॉर्ड था

Swollen rivers threaten to swallow Following heavy rainfall on July 09, almost all major rivers are in spate. Life line of the state – Narmada – was flowing at 955 feet, only nine feet below danger mark in Hoshangabad. Water level had started rising rapidly in the river after 10 sluice gates of Tawa reservoir were opened in the afternoon. These were releasing 2 lakh cusecs of water. Similarly, Denwa river was flowing above danger mark and it had submerged the new bridge constructed on the foot hills of Pachmarhi that received more than 22 cm rain on July 09. Betwa and its tributaries were flowing over the danger mark in Vidisha and the district was cut off from from Ashoknagar, Sagar, Bhopal and Raisen. Ken and Dhasan rivers were touching the red mark in Bundelkhand region, with Dhasan barely seven feet below the Jhansi-Manikpur railway track at Chapran village. In Ujjain, district administration was gearing up for Kshipra overflowing its banks after heavy rain alert in Ujjain and Indore over next 24 hours. The river was below danger mark on July 09. In Morena, Chambal at 122 metres, was flowing about 17 metres below danger mark.

20 dead as heavy rains lash Bhopal Floods have wreaked havoc in MP & Assam killing 17 people and affecting over a lakh even as monsoon rains brought temperatures below normal in several northern states. In MP 15 people have been killed in rain and flood-related incidents. Bhopal city recorded over 11 inches of rainfall since July 08. Around 20K people have been evacuated to safer places. Meanwhile IMD has warned of heavy rains in West (10th -11th July) & East MP (10th July) for very likelihood of heavy to very heavy rains.  Bhopal gets 297.4 mm in 24 hrs by 5.30 pm on, July 9, 2016, breaking the record earlier one was 275.7mm on July 22, 1973.  

BUNDELKHAND FLOOD

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The Baright dam where the Tikamgarh municipal body had employed armed guards to ensure water is not stolen is now overflowing. (HT photo)

After drought, rains wash away farmers’ hopes Heavy rains since July 05 have swamped about 3.25 lakh hectares of farmland in the long suffering Bundelkhand region  in MP with little chance that newly-sown Soybean and Urad crops will survive the waterlogging. The rains which were expected to be a godsend for the drought-prone Bundelkhand now threaten to be a calamity, according to the farmers. According to official data, the five Bundelkhand districts had received 142 mm of rain on average from June 1 to July 4, but were virtually inundated in the next three days, getting 315 mm over July 5 to 7. That is, the average rains in the five districts of the sixth Bundelkhand districts that lie in MP, excluding Datia from June 1 to July 7 amount to 457 mm. The long term average of rains in Bundelkhand is 900 mm over the four months of Monsoons. That means each month’s average share is 225 mm, which is great for agriculture. This time over 300 mm has fallen in just three days, virtually destroying the seeds. The two dams, built under Bundelkhand drought relief package in Bilkhura and Sirswaha, were swept away on July 07. Officials have blamed the use of sub-standard construction material for the damage. The Sirswaha dam was in its last stage of completion. In 2012, the Bitri Murmutu dam was also swept away due to use of sub-standard material in construction. All main rivers in Bundelkhand region of MP Betwa, Dhasaan, Jaamni, Jamdaar, Beela, Sunaar are in spate, disrupting normal life.

DROUGHT OPTIONS

Jharkhand State creates 1 lakh water bodies in 60 days According to official the state used MNREGA to create one lakh small water bodies to conserve water and irrigate fields in a period of just 60 days which expected to irrigate about 50,000 acres of arable land. Currently, only 22% of cultivable land in Jharkhand is under some form of irrigation system. The govt wanted to dig about six lakh small water bodies in the state but work has had to be suspended due to monsoon rains. The target until June 20 was to construct 1.20 lakh water bodies of which one lakh were actually constructed. Official admitted that irregularities were among the reason behind short fall but there were few examples of JCB machines being used instead of getting work done from the labourers. The target for the next financial year would be to plant mangoes on 20,000 to 25,000 hectares of land. The department has also been getting fisheries production done under MNREGA.

Rajasthan Ramsar villagers turn barren land into a lake There was 52 ha of barren land near Bhilo ki Basti in Ramsar which villagers usually used as dumping ground to depose off garbage.  The district administration initiated the villagers to create a lake on this land it as it was in the lower area and so could collect rainwater from nearby areas during monsoon.  The residents of Ramsar village toiled hard for 5 months to convert the barren land into a lake. The lake will also help to make villagers self-reliant in terms of water and they will be able to fulfill their drinking water needs. Villagers here are already sowing seeds and are confident that they will get water for irrigation on time.

National Horticulture farmers defy drought to reap a bumper harvest According to the second advance estimates of production recently released by the agriculture ministry, horticulture production rose from 277.3 million tonnes in 2013-14 a bumper crop year which also saw normal rains to 282.8 million tonnes in 2015-16, a year in which as many as 11 states declared a drought and the south-west monsoon saw a deficit of 14%. The estimates show that while production of fruits rose from 88.9 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 90.5 million tonnes in 2015-16, production of vegetables increased from 162.9 million tonnes to 166.5 million tonnes during this period. During the same period, production of foodgrains fell nearly 5% from a record 265 million tonnes to 252 million tonnes.

DROUGHT 2016

National Drought is crippling Rural India Severe dry spells have become much more common in Bundelkhand in recent years, a consequence of both climate change and the lack of a robust irrigation system, turning this historically dry area into a parched and barren land. Groundwater reservoirs have been dangerously depleted, and agriculture has stagnated. Temperatures are consistently over 100 degrees Excellent, though tragic photo essay on Bundelkhand, the author should have mentioned the illusory Ken Betwa link that the govt is pushing in the name of solving problems of Bundelkhand, but that is not going to help.  At least 330 million people are affected by drought & more than 116 farmers have committed suicide due to the agrarian crisis in the first three months of 2016. According to official figures, as many as 10 states are reeling under drought. But unofficial figures and experts say that the size, extent and impact of the drought is far worse. However, it seems that the govt is not ready to accept that this is one of the worst droughts in the history of India.

Chhattisgarh Danger of drought looms over State faces danger of drought, as the state received 59% deficit rain in June. Moreover, monsoon appears to be feeble in the coming months because low pressure over Bay of Bengal is moving only towards Bastar. The report also warned that not only Chhattisgarh, but Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and East MP might not receive normal rainfall this year. It said that there will be total 24% rainfall deficiency in Chhattisgarh, with the shortfall being 59% till June 28. However, the report doesn’t clarify if there will be normal or excess rainfall in the state. According to a report by NASA, El Nino became neutral by end of May, continues to be stable in June and will remain the same in July while gaining pace later. It said in case El Nino hits, Chhattisgarh is likely to get good rainfall.

RIVERS INTERLINKING 

SANDRP Blog KBL:-Union Minister threatens regulators, media and civil society It’s a curious case of Dam fundamentalism: now manifest as ILR fundamentalism. On June 7, 2016 Union Water Minister Uma Bharti “threatened to go on hunger strike if the Ken-Betwa river linking project is further delayed and termed the attempt to delay the project by environmentalists as a “national crime”” as reported by Business Standard. The threat was directed against all those raising questions about Ken Betwa River Link proposal of her ministry. It may be noted at the outset that many of those who are opposing Ken-Betwa are actually official agencies. A senior Union cabinet minister making such threats is a clear subversion of the regulatory apparatus, and is a vitiation of the atmosphere and officials and members of the statutory committees will find it difficult to take decisions under such threats. This also amounts to unduly influencing the process. Also see, Minister in needless hurry A media report based on SANDRP blog.

HYDRO POWER 

Himachal Shong-Thong-Karcham project labourers protest against Govt. The labourers demanding labour laws in 450 Mw Shong-Thong-Karchham hydro project in Kinnaur district have started an indefinite hunger strike outside the secretariat demanding the implementation of the labour laws. These labourers have been protesting for over 108 days demanding the implementation of the recent orders of High Court regarding labour laws but their demands are not being fulfilled. Labourers under the banner of CITU protested outside trying to put pressure on the authorities so that their demands are fulfilled. Highly disturbing, especially looking at the mishaps that happen at the hydro sites and it is only the labourers who bear the brunt even at the cost of their lives. Backing the agitation the Himachal Kisan Sabha on July 06 threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against the Congress govt & the Deputy Commissioner Kinnaur as they have not taken any step to resolve the workers dispute with the private company engaged in the 450mw Shongtong –Karcham power project. CITU-supported fast unto death by workers entered the fourth day. The 7 day-long hunger strike continued on July 8 amid mass arrests of the protesting CITU activists. All efforts to resolve wage dispute by the Deputy Commissioner failed as the workers’ union insisted on their demand to revoke dismissal of all 108 workers, while the mangers of the Patel Engineering sought management’s nod for the same.

Panel on Renuka project submits report to NGT Paucity of funds for acquiring land for settling the displaced families is the biggest hurdle that is coming in the way of effective and speedy implementation of the relief and rehabilitation plan for the families facing displacement due to the coming up of the Renuka hydro-power project in Sirmaur district. The NGT appointed expert committee, which submitted its report to the green body last week, has reportedly stressed the need to repose faith in the families facing the threat of displacement that they will not meet the same fate as the Bhakra and Pong dam oustees, who even after decades are struggling to get alternate land. A total of 337 families are likely to be displaced due to the coming up of the Renuka dam.

National Surplus Power, Yet Millions in the Dark Last week, India’s Minster of Power went on record saying that India can meet its electricity demand for the next ten years without installing any additional hydropower capacity. This proclamation is a fillip to activists campaigning against the destructive cascade of hydropower dams planned in the upper reaches of Himalayan rivers. The Minister, no less, is implying we can pause, breathe, and perhaps re-think our strategy. According to Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP govt must now prioritize the management of energy demand, look to improve transmission efficiency, and at the same time retire destructive coal and hydropower whilst promoting deployment of renewables. On the other hand two recent decisions of the NGT has once more brought to the fore the debate on hydropower projects in the himalayas. In the first, the NGT suspended the environmental clearance given to a project in Tawang district of Arunachal while in the second, the green tribunal reiterated the power of gram sabha (village council) of a village in Himachal in deciding whether or not the villagers want a hydro-electric project in their neighbourhood. While the NGT decisions did bring cheers to environmentalists, it also underscored the fact as to how the Government machinery almost always tries to subvert the system for the benefit of those with vested interests: corporates, politicians and bureaucrats.

Uttarakhand Hydro units unable to generate power Soon after the advent of monsoon, its impacts are discernible in full in State. On one hand, rivers are swelling, while on the other hand, hydro power units are unable to generate electricity because rain water has brought huge amount of silt, putting a brake on the turbines. Hence, the generation by hydro power units has plummeted. In Ganga, the silt volume is 7500 PPM at present. The Ganga canal released 112000 cusecs water.  Due to on going landslides the in hilly areas, Ganga is receiving huge amount of silt which had been choking the turbine since July 01. Over 900 villages across the state had plunged into darkness when cloudbursts and incessant rains hit Uttarakhand on July 1. Of these, around 150 are still in the dark.

No progress in inquiry against Power Corp MD The State Govt. is in a dilemma over granting extension to Power Corporation Managing Director SS Yadav who is embroiled in a sting controversy on June 01. Yadav’s tenure as the head of state power corporation comes to an end on July 24. Considered close to the corridors of power, Yadav is keen on an extension but with a sting CD purportedly showing the official allegedly taking money from someone in public domain, the state government finds itself in a fix over his extension. The sting video was shown by many channels and it also went viral on the social media last month prompting Congress to ask CM Harish Rawat to send the official on forced leave till his name is cleared in the controversy. On June 04, State Govt. ordered an inquiry into sting case. Chief Secretary Shatrughna Singh had asked the Power Secretary to look into the case. However, official sources on request of anonymity here said the probe had made no progress till date. Main opposition BJP & AAP have been strongly opposing extension to Yadav and also demanding a CBI probe into his functioning as the state power corporation MD.

Assam New Govt vows to oppose big dams In a region dotted with large dam projects and public protests against them, the state’s water resources minister says big dams ruin environment, promises to push micro and mini hydro projects instead. Sounds too good to be true? 

Research Paper Uncertainty in the Himalayan energy–water nexus Himalayan water resources attract a rapidly growing number of hydroelectric power projects (HPP)to satisfy Asia’s soaring energy demands. Yet HPP operating or planned in steep, glacier-fed mountain rivers face hazards of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) that can damage hydropower infrastructure, alter water and sediment yields, and compromise livelihoods downstream. Detailed appraisals of such GLOF hazards are limited to case studies, however, and a more comprehensive, systematic analysis remains elusive. With 66% of sampled HPP are on potential GLOF tracks, up to one third of these HPP could experience GLOF discharges well above local design floods, as hydropower development continues to seek higher sites closer to glacial lakes. Considering this systematic pattern of regional GLOF exposure might aid the site selection of future Himalayan HPP.

DAMS

Telangana Justice Chandra Kumar wants govt. to shelve Mallannasagar Retired High Court Judge Justice B. Chandra Kumar, Telangana Rythu Sankshema Samithi and Telangana Rashtra Praja Samithi demanded that the State government shelve the Mallannasagar project as it was ill-designed and that the latter was “hiding truth for something else”. The reservoir would submerge 14 villages and displace thousands of families, resulting in they losing their livelihood, Justice Chandra Kumar and representatives of the two organisations said July 01. Addressing a press conference, they alleged that the govt was also neglecting the opinion of irrigation experts such as retired Engineer-in-Chief & UN Consultant T. Hanumantha Rao who have been repeatedly advising that there is no need for reservoir under Kaleswaram LI project for irrigation’. The irrigation expert says that for irrigating the estimated 18 lakh acres of irrigated dry crops in kharif season under the project, we do not need reservoirs as available river water can go through canals to the fields as is happening in the Jawaharlal Nehru Lift Irrigation project on river Yamuna.

MP ज़रूरी अलर्ट पेंच बांध अडानी के पॉवर प्लांट के लिए आदिवासियों के 30 गाँव डुबोने की तैयारी, ग्रामीण दहशत में छिंदवाड़ा जिले के बारहबिरहारी गाँव में पेंच बांध का पानी भरना शुरू हो गया है. लोग अपने सामान को समेटना शुरू कर दिए है. पुलिस सहरत मंसूरी और कलाम बी मंसूरी को गिरिफ्तार करके ले गई है। घर पर उनकी दो बेटीया है. गांव की  बिजली काट दी गई है. प्रशासन द्वारा आदिवासियों के 30 गाँव डूबोने के लिए धारा 144 लागू कर दी गई है. किसान संघर्ष समिति ने जबरन डूब के विरोध में आज जिलाधिकार को ज्ञापन दिया है.  ज्ञात रहे कि आज बिजली विभाग द्वारा गांव की लाईट काट दी गई, ट्रासंफारमर निकाल दिया गया, गांव में घोर अँधेरा है। लोगों का पुनर्वास नहीं हुआ है, मुआवजे की राशी नहीं दी गई है, कुआं नलकूप पाईप लाईन का मुआवजा भी नहीं दिया है, आदिवासीयों को जमीन के बदले जमीन नहीं दी गयी है ।

Govt turning a blind eye to 45K families on the brink of drowning While the rest of the nation has been waiting with bated breath for the monsoons, those inhabiting the banks of the river Narmada have been dreading the onset of rains this year. The 45,000 families that live in the districts of Bus Badwani, Dhar and Jhabua in MP, among others, have been living in the fear of being rendered homeless due to floods. It has been 30 years since the Satyagraha movement was initiated, protesting the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river Narmada, in Gujarat. The protests, however, have been largely disregarded, and the construction of the dam continues unabated, threatening the lives of thousands. This is so true and some people still praise MP govt’s track record in irrigation projects.

Gujarat Govt inaction turning Narmada banks into salt pans Rural areas in the downstream of the Narmada dam in the Bharuch district of Gujarat have been in the midst of one of the worst environmental disasters. Massive sea water intrusion from the Bay of Khambhat, for upto 40 kilometres eastwards into the Narmada has allegedly “destroyed” 10K ha of agricultural land. Following a joint meeting of gram sabhas of 18 affected villages, hundreds of rural folk, led by their sarpanches, approached the Bharuch district collector on June 17 saying the refusal of authorities to release fresh water from the Narmada dam has led to both sides of the river becoming saline. One of the biggest environmental disasters is not unfolding in Gujarat, downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada River, with stoppage of water flowing downstream. On the other hand, the project affected persons (PAP) of the Sardar Sarovar dam project will hold protest at Kevadia Colony on July 15 to voice their unhappiness over several long pending demands. The families were shifted to different rehabilitation sites in the Chhota Udepur district as a part of their rehabilitation sites. The PAPs had recently written a letter to the CM Anandiben Patel and other prominent functionaries raising their demands that they claim have been pending for over two decades now. The PAPs claimed that these had remained unattended despite repeated representations. 

Odisha CM protests Chhattisgarh’s dam projects across Mahanadi Chhattisgarh govt. plan, Naveen Patnayak CM Odisha stated that 7 pick-up weirs across river Mahanadi just upstream of the Hirakud Dam have already been constructed & Ambaguda Diversion Project, Salka Diversion Project, Lachhanpur Diversion Project including Arpa-Bhaisajhar Barrage Project are under execution. According to sources 2 new projects such as Pairy-Mahanadi Intra State Link Project and Tandula Reservoir Augmentation Scheme on Mahanadi River Project having a severe adverse impact on flow of water in Hirakud Reservoir are being proposed by the Govt. It is further learnt that Govt of Chhatisgarh is also contemplating construction of a reservoir based dam in Kelo River adjacent to Odisha Border. Serious issues were bound to come up between Chhattisgarh and Odisha on Mahanadi river, it is surprising that it is happening so late. It will have political (BJP Vs BJD) and centre state implications.  According to one more news even as the BJD Odisha has upped its ante against the Chhattisgarh Govt over construction of barrage over river Mahanadi upstream of Hirakud Dam Reservoir, there was complete lack of coordination among the State Govt departments which led the neighbouring State to go ahead with its construction.  While there is no denying that the construction was going on over the years, the State Government was never serious about the matter till a hue and cry was raised over the issue. The State Govt has now passed on the buck to the Central Water Commission. On the other hand, High Court has accepted Hirakud displaced families PIL. The Court has served notice to the opposite parties including Secretary, Revenue Department, RDC, Northern Division, District Collector and Tahasildar, Jharsuguda district and to the Chairman, Hirakud Dam Project etc. on 28 June 2016.  It is to be noted that the PIL has been filed under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India for a direction to the Opposition Parties to issue to D.C Patta to the displaced persons affected by Hirakud Dam Project, 1955 as per letter No. 5531/RD/dated 30th Jan 2002 of Govt. of Odisha. 61 years after being displaced by Hirakud dam, the oustees are still knocking the courts for homestead land. Meanwhile, power generation from Hirakud dam has come down drastically with the water level of the reservoir falling to a low of 596.75 ft due to an erratic monsoon. Last year, the water level of the reservoir was recorded at 602.21 ft. While the farmers are disappointed over the lack of rainfall, they are growing increasingly concerned about the scarce supply of water by the Hirakud system for irrigation. It may be mentioned here that Sambalpur district received 86.98 mm rainfall in June, while the normal rainfall in that month is 211 mm. Climate experts apprehended a drought-like condition in western Orissa due to the erratic monsoon.

Jharkhand Plan to revive Kutku Mandal dam poses threat to people, wildlife After years of lying idle, the controversial dam is now likely be revived in the coming months. The 68-metre high dam is a part of North Koel River Project proposed for a sub-tributary of Ganga River. Unsurprisingly, the plans to review the project are agitating tribal villagers. They also pose a threat to the already dwindling population of tigers and elephants in the Palamau Tiger Reserve. The North Koel River Project report said that the project will help irrigate over 1 lakh ha of agricultural land in Bihar and Jharkhand. Former environment minister first announced plans for the revival of the project in Ranchi on his way to an election campaign in Aurangabad. The decades of delay have increased the project costs from Rs 430 million in 1972 to Rs 1.3 billion in 2015. Most of Jharkhand rivers are rainfed rivulets & with change in rainfall pattern for past many years, the amount of flowing water is also decreasing drastically rendering the construction of dams for hydro & irrigation purposes futile & waste of money apart from becoming a cause of irreversible damage to local environment & community.

IRRIGATION

Centre SPV for funding Rs 20K cr projects set to take off The govt will soon unveil the mega Rs 20,000 crore irrigation fund through the special purpose vehicle (SPV) route Water Resources Development Authority as part of a major initiative to boost the agriculture sector. According to Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chariman Nabarad, the proposal is in the final stage of launch. The bank will be tapping the capital market for funding the scheme. Of the initial Rs 20K cr corpus, some will come as budgetary allocation from Water Ministry, Rs 6300 cr will be bonds raised by Nabard to be repaid by the Govt & close to Rs 12K cr will be bonds raised by Nabard on its own. All this will be pooled together. In the 2016 Budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed creation of a dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund for implementing major/medium irrigation projects covering a command area of over 8 million ha.

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 Punjab Govt. seeks 209cr to train Swan river CM Parkash Singh Badal on July 03 urged Union water resources minister Uma Bharti to revise the construction norms for water courses, especially in Punjab, allocations of funds for Swan River and for Upper Bari Doab Canal. The CM sought Rs 35K per ha as construction cost for water courses instead of Rs 25K as the average discharge in Punjab was 2.5 cusecs against 1 cusec in rest of the country. He also sought immediate release of Rs 209 crore for the channelization of 17km Swan river in Punjab’s territory, informing Bharti that Himachal had already started the work on 55km on its side. The CM requested Bharti to approve the rejuvenation of Doab Canal that was in a dilapidated condition, which was affecting its water-carrying capacity. Bharti asked Badal to send a team of irrigation department officials to Delhi to discuss the issues.

Govt to check excess water flow to Pak The govts of Punjab & Rajasthan have agreed to revive around 90-year-old water channel along the India-Pakistan border to prevent the flow of extra water to Pakistan from Hussainiwala headworks. The 45,000-feet-long channel was part of the Bikaner canal, which was constructed jointly by the British govt and the erstwhile princely state of Bikaner to provide irrigation water to villages of the princely state. The channel was abandoned after Punjab & Rajasthan govts jointly constructed Harike headworks in 1960 and started feeding Bikaner canal from Harike headworks, located 42 km upstream Hussainwala headworks. Ballehwala is the point where the channel of old Bikaner canal merges with new Bikaner canal that emerges from Harike headworks.

Maharashtra Irrigation Scam Is politics hampering irrigation scam probe? One & a half years after CM Devendra Fadnavis announced an open inquiry by Anti-Corruption Bureau in the state’s irrigation projects taken up during tenure of Ajit Pawar as water resources department minister, not much has happened against the NCP leader. A year ago, anti-corruption activist Anjali Damania had submitted papers related to the scam, including case of Ashti Lift Irrigation Scheme in Beed district in which Pawar’s cousin Jagdish Kadam got a Rs 200 cr contract. Soon after Kadam wrote to Pawar requesting early approval for the project, he bagged order for the same work. Pawar, his wife Sunetra and Kadam have also been business associates through a maze of companies.

RIVERS 

Maharashtra जलविद्युतची १८ कंत्राटे रद्द! Good to see this, but the Maha govt needs to go beyond just canceling the contracts, they need to find inquire and hold accountable as to who took the decisions to take up unviable projects like Kal Kumbhe and spent hundreds of Crores of rupees as Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP had earlier exposed this in the official blog titled White Elephant, Black Fish How a 15 MW project with 55 mts high dam threatens 5 villages and a fish sanctuary.

 The sacred waters of a tanker Rampant deforestation, extensive damming of the rivers, huge diversions of water for industrial projects and even elite resorts can be seen across the state. All these underlie terrible water crisis. They won’t get washed away by the monsoon, even if media coverage of it dries up with the onset of the rains. SANDRP already wrote on this earlier. According to one more news Vidarbha’s biggest irrigation reservoir Gosikhurd and the Wainganga & Kanhan rivers continue to be polluted even though a new STP has been commissioned to treat sewage flowing in Nag River. Unfortunately, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) & Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (Mahagenco) are running the STP at only 30% capacity, citing less requirement of treated sewage at the latter’s Koradi expansion thermal power project. The question that arises is whether the STP was sanctioned for treating sewage in Nag River, or to clean water as per Mahagenco’s requirement. On the other hand villagers from Shirol protested demanding immediate action against on-going pollution of Panchganga and Krishna rivers in the Kolhapur district. The farmers maintained that pollution is affecting the fishing business along with farms that are located near the river bank. The villagers maintained that the sugarcane factories are releasing its untreated water into the Krishna and Panchganga rivers and causing a serious level of pollution. Meanwhile, over the last 7 days, a Lahore-based British photographer Malcolm Hutcheson shot Mumbai’s toxic Mithi River.

Kerala Sabarimala sewage treatment plant under scanner The flow of filth into the Pampa from human waste collection tanks at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam, even after the commissioning of a 5-mld modern STP six months ago, has thrown up questions on the efficacy of the sewage treatment project. Many criticised the “apathy” on the part of the Travancore Devaswom Board, the high-power committee for the implementation of the Sabarimala Master Plan, and various govt agencies towards ensuring the smooth functioning of the plant. Kerala State Pollution Control Board chairman K. Sajeevan and environmental engineer Santhoshkumar said the absence of a proper sewerage grid connecting various collection tanks with the plant was a major problem confronting the project.

Haryana & Punjab State, neighbours step up efforts to curb pollution in Ghaggar To contain pollution in the Ghaggar river, pollution control boards of Haryana, Punjab & Himachal have increased the number of joint sampling points from 18 to 21. A last month’s meeting of the three boards decided to start joint sampling at Bhangra, Gwalthai and Brahmla villages in Himachal in addition to 18 points earmarked earlier. Effluents from Parwanoo have been causing pollution in Kaushliya river and Sukhna Nullah, which ultimately pollutes Ghaggar. Effluents from Kala Amb are causing pollution in Ghaggar through Markanda. And in Una, effluents are being discharged in Swan; it ultimately pollutes the Sutlej river. 

Meghalaya Reviving River Myntdu is reviving a lost culture In Pnar, Myntdu is known as Ka Tawiar Takan meaning “our guardian angel.”  Ironically, the “guardian angel” today is lifeless; decades of coal mining in the Jaintia Hills have all but destroyed this once thriving river. Elders, who are founding members of Borghat-Jaliakhola Aquatic Life Welfare Association (BJALWA), are hosting the riverine festival to take a stand for the health of their “mother” in deep peril.The mission of BJALWA is to reconnect tribal communities with Myntdu, revitalize their culture and to spark action and dialogue for restoration efforts.

National Climate change & abuse of rivers draining Kumbh Sinking aquifers and short-sighted public works such as paving banks and even the riverbed in many places has hastened the decline of Godavari, India’s second longest river that starts at a spring on Brahmagiri hill, some 30 km from Nashik in the western state of Maharashtra. The famous ritual baths during the Kumbh Melas reinforce the fact that it is essentially a water festival, to thank the gods for bountiful water. For now, it seems that the serious harm to India’s rivers will not be reversed anytime soon. The Ganga will yet flow, perhaps not so freely, in the next Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and then in Allahabad, but time is running out for the Godavari and the Shipra.  According to Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP the change in weather patterns and increasing rise in temperatures have contributed to it, our rivers are facing unprecedented deterioration today because of the way we have ill-treated them. 

GANGA Centre New act for Namami Gange Union Water Minister Uma Bharti has said that a new act will be formulated for speedy implementation of Namami Gange programme. Chairing the 6th meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority on July 04 the Minister said that five Ganga basin states have agreed in principle to this idea. She further said that an expert committee under the guidance of Justice (Retd.) Girdhar Malaviya, member NGRBA will make suggestions regarding the proposed act. The Minister also announced setting of a committee on de-silting under the chairmanship of Madhav Chitale, member NGBRA. According to minister, out of 118 towns along the river Ganga detailed survey of 59 towns has been completed and 27 reports have been prepared. 50 more reports will be received by this month end. On July 06, Giving a major boost to Namami Gange Programme Uma Bharti has announced that 231 projects will be inaugurated at various locations in Uttrakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana and Delhi on July 07. the Minister said these projects involve modernization and redevelopment of Ghats and crematoriums, development of sewage infrastructure and treatment, afforestation, tree plantation (medicinal plants), pilot drain project, interceptor drain project, trash skimmers and conservation of biodiversity. Tenders  for 10 such big projects will be floated by July 31.

Op-Ed ये तो गंगा के व्यापारी निकले by Arun Tiwari पिछले लगभग दो दशक में तमाम अध्ययनों ने नदी जोङ के खिलाफ मत प्रकट किया है। पुराणों में नदी को मोङने उसके प्रवाह में बाधा उत्पन्न करने को पापकर्म बताकर श्राृद्ध आदि कर्म से त्याज्य बताया ही है; बावजूद इसके केन्द्रीय जल मंत्री उमा भारती जी नदी जोङ को लागू कराने को लेकर जिद्द पर अङी है। केन-बेतवा नदी जोङ में विलम्ब को लेकर उन्होने पहले फटकार बताई और अब अनशन पर उतरने की धमकी तक दे ली है। स्वयं को  सतत् सनातनी कहने वालों के इस रवैये से गंगा अफसोस न करे, तो क्या करे ? गंगा अफसोस कर रही है। उसे अब समझ में आया है कि नदी विकास का मतलब, तथाकथित विकास के लिए नदी का ह्यस होता है। जिसे गंगा सेवक समझा था, वह तो गंगा का व्यापारी निकला। एक बार फिर छले जाने से मां गंगा दुखी है। Candid, forthright narration of 11 points that shows how the current NDA govt has said one thing and did the opposite on Ganga issue. 

YAMUNA Delhi Once a drain, now a sewer Barapullah is a trunk drain in the engineering parlance. It discharges around 1 lakh liter of domestic sewage into Yamuna after receiving much of its water from high-density residential neighbourhoods which are not connected to a sewage network, like the slums and unauthorized colonies from Mehrauli till Sarai Kale Khan. Delhi govt has recently presented a ‘Yamuna turnaround plan’ to central govt’s Ministry of Water Resources to ensure that untreated water does not enter the river. Attempts are underway to reimagine and develop the huge unused open space along the natural drainage of Barapullah. Huge investments in sewage treatment plants at the mouth of the river do not improve the state of its dirty drains. Will the DDA’s latest plan to develop a wetland on Yamuna’s floodplains at the drain’s mouth serve any good? Is this really a case of integrating green approaches into the storm-water management process?

Yamuna clean-up project hits fund hurdle The DJB’s 6000 crore plan to clean the Yamuna is yet to find any takers. Funding remains a problem for the first-of-its-kind comprehensive strategy for sprucing up the highly polluted river. Despite decades of planning and investment to clean up the river, the Yamuna, over the years, has become more polluted. The NGT, as part of its Janry 13 order, asked the various stakeholders to implement the Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017 to clean up the river.

UP NGT slams ADA over construction on floodplains The Green Tribunal has come down heavily on Agra Development Authority (ADA) for allowing construction by builders on the flood plains of river Yamuna city and also sought response from the developers on the matter. The court also directed ADA to inform it about the mechanism adopted by the builders for collection and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste. The matter was listed for next hearing on July 8. Builders can’t be permitted to destroy floodplain on the ground of construction of STPs to treat their sewage pollution. Floodplains have larger ecological roles apart from absorbing floodwaters & recharging ground water.

SAND MINING

Rajasthan MoEF relaxes rules for small mines The Union Environment Ministry has relaxed environment clearance norms for small mineral mines in Rajasthan, which were facing closure following a green tribunal order of June 14. The relaxation will prevent closure of over 18,000 mines and quarries for want of environmental clearances (EC) and benefit thousands of small mine owners. The MoEF issued a notification to this effect on July 01, days before the NGT was to hear the matter on July 5. Majority of small mines (of area up to 5 ha) and mining clusters less than 25 ha will now be able to get their ECs from the District Environmental Impact Assessment Authority.

Karnataka Rampant sand extraction in rivers aiding sea erosion Fishermen in Mangaluru claimed that unabated sand extraction in the last few years within the Coastal Regulatory Zone from the Netravathi and the Gurupura is the reason for the Arabian Sea inching several meters into the mainland every year. According to experts in marine geology, indiscriminate sand extraction to the tune of lakhs of tonnes every year has prevented strengthening of the beachfront every year.  Experts also say that vented dams along the river course as well as the breakwaters near harbours too contribute to sea erosion; but not on the scale of what sand extraction has done.  Amidst a day-long heated debate on illegal sand mining and a walkout by the opposition BJP in the Legislative Council, minister of state for mines and geology, Vinay R. Kulkarni on July 05 assured that the state govt is committed to revise existing sand mining policy in order to curb illegal activities. Replying to a day-long debate, Mr Kulkarni subtly turned down the Opposition party’s demand to constitute a joint House committee on illegal sand mining.

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Haryana Mining firms cause Rs 7.56-cr loss to exchequer Private mining companies reportedly caused a huge revenue loss to the state exchequer by not paying the stamp duty for registering their lease deeds to carry out mining activities in the district. The matter came to light when Madan Associates, a mine lease holder of Bakhrija-1 here, urged the authorities to register its lease deed on a plain paper without paying the stamp duty. The firm also disclosed that lease deeds were also being registered on plain papers without paying stamp duty in Bhiwani, Panchkula, Yamunannagar and Sonepat districts except Mahendragarh. The district administration on July 08 has imposed Section 144 in villages located along Krishnawati & Dohan rivers to check illegal mining. The prohibitory order will remain in force for two months. The step was taken on the basis of a report submitted by the local Mining Officer confirming illegal mining in several villages along Krishanwati and Dohan rivers in the night.

Tamil Nadu Kinathukidavu residents oppose to random sand mining The residents of Kinathukidavu on July 09 opposed sand mining from the Kothavadi lake by potters and seized from them nine trucks laden with sand. They also took up the issue with revenue officials. However, the tahsildhar of Kinathukidavu, K Chitra, said the potters had obtained permission to mine more sand from the Kothavadi lake. Though the villagers subsequently allowed potters to mine sand, they were a discontent lot. They said even potters should not be allowed to mine sand randomly. Revenue officials said they usually grant potters permission to mine sand from Kothavadi lake every year. 

WETLAND & WATER BODIES 

W-Bengal Save East Kolkata Wetland Media reports about delisting of the East Kolkata Wetlands  as Ramsar site  is a matter of concern not only to the people of Kolkata but also for the nation as a whole. It is the lung of Kolkata. It is providing innumerable environmental services to the people of greater Kolkata and it is a national pride. This wetland subsidises the city of Kolkata ecologically making it the cheapest metropolitan city in India. This waste treatment and recycling ecosystem, based on community knowledge is the only one in the whole world. You are an environment friendly Chief Minister, meaningful conservation of this Ramsar wetland site need your attention as the custodian of this national heritage. This indeed deserves a lot of support, Please endorse and help spread the word. Also see, जलभूमि बचाने का संघर्ष Very good (Hindi) article on East Kolkata wetlands.

Maharashtra Govt wants to destroy wetlands: HC On July 04, High Court (HC) Bombay again questioned the seriousness of state govt. on conservation of wetlands stating that the govt wants to destroy wetlands under the garb of development. The court expressed anguish over the govt’s plea seeking modification of a March 2014 HC order, imposing a complete ban on the reclamation of and construction on wetlands. The judges were irked to note that while the state govt has refused to adopt Wetland Atlas prepared by the Central govt, it has also not established its own machinery to identify and protect wetlands. On the other hand less than 1 KM away from the state mangrove cell headquarters in Bandra, construction debris & worn out vehicles have heen dumped construction debris & worn out vehicles have been dumped on a one-acre wetland patch adjacent to the Mithi river. In two separate complaints filed on July 4 with the state mangrove cell, Mumbai suburban collectors’ office & Konkan divisional commissioner, NGO Vanashakti and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan alleged that construction work was being carried out adjacent to the creek at the Kala Nagar junction in Bandra (East), located at the causeway end of the Mithi river, along the Western Express Highway.

National An introduction to convention on wetlands The Secretariat of Ramsar Convention announces the launch of the first Handbook in the 5th Edition Ramsar Handbook Series. It is entitled “An Introduction to the Convention on Wetlands” and replaces “The Ramsar Convention Manual”. “An Introduction to the Convention on Wetlands” is aimed at a diverse and extensive audience and explains the role of the Convention and how it works. The 5th Edition Handbooks will be organized under three sub-series, covering International Cooperation on Wetlands; Wise Use of Wetlands; and Wetlands Conservation and Management. Handbook 2, “The Ramsar Strategic Plan 2016-2024”, is scheduled to be released in July 2016. 

WATER 

National In Muddy Waters The National Water Framework Bill and a Model Bill for Conservation, Protection and Regulation of Groundwater are meant to regulate the use of water. However, they are vague and the State Govts has the final say in its use. Expert opinion on the utility of the two drafts is also divided. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP explains that both bills are on subjects that are essentially the domain of states as per India’s constitution. It is up to states to adapt, enact and implement the groundwater bill. The Framework Bill also depends on approval from some state legislatures before the center can pass it. Even then, it will only remain like a guideline for states to follow, it cannot be a strictly enforceable law. Good to see this critique of two central acts proposed in water management and regulation. Also see, India needs water before to become the world’s next factory

Jharkhand Thirsty Ranchi on the edge as dams dry up  More than two lakh Ranchi residents may go thirsty after a week if the monsoon continues to play truant with the state capital, as water in the Hatia dam has almost dried up. The dam has only 2.5ft of water left that will last until July 10 at the most. The Kanke dam that supplies 4.5 MGD of water every day to the city has only 5ft water left. Rukka dam that supplies 30MGD of water per day to the city has 8ft of water left and can quench the thirst of more than four lakh residents until Oct. After the 2015 drought, the city has seen deficient monsoon so far even this year. Ranchi has received just 79 mm of rainfall between June 1 & July 1 against the normal rainfall of 234.6mm, a deficit of 66% until now. Not just Ranchi, but the entire state has been facing deficit rainfall. Jharkhand received only 121.6 mm rainfall against the normal rainfall of 216mm, a deficit of 44%.

Delhi To resolve water woes, city looks underground Delhi is looking to boost supply by at least 50MGD by tapping into groundwater resources. In a report submitted to the government recently, it has identified total groundwater availability at 13,491 mcm. Of this, 10,285 mcm is saline that CGWB says can be mixed with fresh water and used for purposes other than drinking. In Delhi, they range between 3,000-3,500 ppm and, therefore, it will be easier to treat this water. The board has also identified 11 tehsils where groundwater levels are sufficient and can be replenished naturally for withdrawal. These include Civil Lines, Daryaganj, Sadar Bazar, Kotwali, Defence Colony, Gandhi Nagar, Kalkaji, Preet Vihar, Model Town, Connaught Place and Seelampur, which can together supply about 120 mcm water. An additional 5 mgd can be extracted from along Western Yamuna Canal where a thick column of freshwater aquifer has been identified. Also see, Delhi Govt must think beyond water ATMs

Maharashtra Auditors’ reports put an end to water project The disclosures from private chartered accountancy and technical supervisory firms put the final nail in the coffin for the controversial water distribution project. The independent financial auditors and third party technical supervisors hired to review the project briefed the general body by the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation about the irregularities they had noted in the execution of the ambitious scheme. Nagpur-based chartered accountancy firm to conduct quarterly audit of all the spending of the utility company told the house that the company had not invested much in the project. A third party technical supervisory firm said the water utility company has not fulfilled 90% of the technical norms. Social activists claimed victory after the project was scrapped.  Seems like a scam in Aurangabad water supply project.

Tamil Nadu Study on producing paddy using sprinkler irrigation The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Agricultural Engineering College & Research Institute has taken up a research on producing paddy using sprinkler irrigation. The research aims at ensuring maximum utilization of available water by ascertaining the moisture of the soil periodically. According to K. Ramaswamy, Dean, irrigation water is wasted when used excessively & on the contrary, sprinkler irrigation, with its rotation system, ensures economic and effective use. 

Op-Ed सहेजना जरूरी है बरसात का पानी by Atul Kanak पश्चिमी राजस्थान के लोग पानी की एक-एक बूंद सहेज कर रखते हैं। मानसून में बरसने वाली हर बूंद तालाबों, कुंओं, जोहड़ों, कुंडों, टांकों, बावड़ियों में सहेज ली जाती है। तालाब एक-दूसरे से शृंखलाबद्ध तरीके से जुड़े हैं, जिसके कारण उनके ओवरफ्लो हो जाने का खतरा नहीं होता। यह जल प्रबंधन की वह तकनीक है, जो मरुस्थल में भी जीवन की उम्मीदों को कुंभलाने नहीं देती। इसकी तुलना देश के उन हिस्सों से करें, जहां पुराने जलस्रोतों को पाट कर उन पर मकान या दुकान बना दिए गए हैं या पुराने जलस्रोतों को उनके हाल पर छोड़ दिया गया है। स्थापत्य का सुंदर नमूना होने के बावजूद लगभग सभी प्राचीन शहरों में बावड़ियां अपनी दुर्दशा पर आंसू बहाती मिल जाएंगी। मानसून हमें एक अवसर देता है कि हम प्रकृति के वरदान स्वरूप आसमान से गिरने वाले पानी को धरती के आंचल में सहेज लें। 11 ideas for urban water security in developing countries

GROUND WATER

SANDRP Blog Groundwater of Pune: An Over-exploited and ungoverned lifeline  While more than allocated and more than enough water supply from Khadakwasla Project Complex steals the water supply show in Pune, water below the ground remains pretty much out of sight and out of mind for Pune Municipal Corporation and everyone else. Roughly estimated use close to one thousand million cubic feet remains not just ungoverned but completely unacknowledged.

Centre CGWA empowered to regulate groundwater extraction In an affidavit, environment ministry has told NGT that the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has the mandate to regulate ground water extraction by “industries/projects” including Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). It said CGWA has been “conferred with the power to regulate and control, management and development of ground water in the country and to issue necessary regulatory directions for the purpose. CGWA has the mandate of regulating withdrawal of ground water by industries/projects. The affidavit was filed by the Ministry in response to a plea filed by Delhi resident Kush Kalra alleging that DMRC was extracting groundwater instead of using wastewater to wash its trains, resulting in depletion of water table. 

AGRICULTURE

Punjab After losing kin to cancer, family adopts organic farming Avtar Singh of Charkey village near Bhogpur, roams in his 12-acre farm in which he cultivates his crops naturally. However, the scenario was not the same a decade ago. One of the family member died due to blood cancer caused by pesticides used in farming. The tragedy changed their lives and Avtar decided to discard chemicals and adopt the organic way of growing vegetables, maize, sugarcane and haldi in his farm in 2006. They took help from books on organic farming written by Subhash Palekar, an agriculturist and Padma Shri awardee. The naturally prepared products by Singh family are becoming famous outside the country too. Their jaggery, made from sugarcanes grown naturally is exported to America, England and other foreign countries. 

SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh President addresses Bhutan Parliament During his address to the joint sitting of Parliament on July 05 the President of Bangladesh, Abdul Hamid said that hydropower is one of the sectors that holds the “greatest potential” for cooperation between Bhutan and Bangladesh. The President expressed happiness that there has been some notable progress in hydro-power cooperation in the form of a tri-lateral hydro-power project among Bhutan, Bangladesh and India. Bangladesh, along with India is set to invest in the 1,125MW Dorjilung hydropower project in eastern Bhutan. The Sheikh Hasina government of Bangladesh recently approved USD 1 billion for the project. The trilateral cooperation will provide an opportunity for both the countries to diversify their energy markets. Bhutan is dependent on the Indian market for sale of its surplus power, as is Bangladesh for electricity import. 

Nepal Dreams of hydropower dollars The Koshi basin is a major hot spot for hydropower. Work is also underway on the 900Mw Arun III project in another tributary of Koshi further east of the Tamakoshi project. Many projects being built rely on rivers that originate in Tibet, but there is very little information on what is happening there. In March China unveiled its plan to build more dams and mega structures in Tibet, which may have impacts on projects being planned in downstream Nepal.  Multiple attempts to conduct a detailed survey of the 269-metre-high dam project have failed due to protests from locals, civil society groups and some political parties. A series of four articles on Kosi river in Nepal and India.  Also see, The Koshi River: a journey down the lifeline of Nepal

Benefit Sharing & Sustainable Hydropower A review of the benefit-sharing practices of 18 different hydropower projects in Nepal implemented over a period of roughly 40 years reflects the evolution of the hydropower sector as well as the recent history of development activities in Nepal. Can we first have an honest social and environmental impact assessment of hydropower projects? In any case, WCD report already has recommendations about benefit sharing, why reinvent the wheel.

Super Dordi kha hydro project construction begins Construction of the 49.7MW Super Dordi Hydro Project has started along Dhodeni and Phaleni VDCs of Lamjung June 28. The construction work started with the formal inauguration of audit tunnel at a function on June 29. The project was jointly inaugurated by Chief District Officer Mohan Bahadur GC and locals Biber Ghale and Bulal Ghale. The project is estimated to be completed within three years. The project will hold 60 % of promoters’ share, 10 % from locals of project-affected areas and remaining 30 percent from the general public.

CHINA 

Study Beijing is sinking at an alarming rate Loss of groundwater is causing China’s capital city to sink by as much as four inches per year in some districts, according to research published in the journal Remote Sensing. Researchers identified excessive use of underground water as the cause. In Beijing, water is extracted from soil for industrial, agricultural and household use, CNN explains. Beijing, home to more than 20 million people, is considered one of the most water stressed cities in the world, the study notes. The depletion of water and rapid sinking could have severe consequences for the city’s infrastructure, including damage to buildings and public railways. The study used satellite images and GPS to analyze topographical trends collected between 2003 and 2010.

REST OF THE WORLD

Report Ongoing trend in hydropower This post is based on a briefer that was initially presented at a hydropower conference at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in April 2016. Large hydropower has long been met with criticism from experts, civil society, and local communities from around the world, given its adverse impacts on the environment and communities. Until recently, the World Bank had abandoned large hydropower development. Now under the banner of tackling climate change and despite the mounting evidence of its negative environmental and human rights impacts, the World Bank has returned to hydropower as a focus of its energy lending. The World Bank is not alone. This analysis is interesting, but I think it does not provide the correct trend and future for hydropower projects. 

Study Floodplains are key to preserving nature and biodiversity Although they may not commonly be viewed as hotspots for biodiversity, gravel-bed river floodplains are by far the most important feature for nature across the landscapes of western North America. This is because gravel-bed rivers disproportionately create high diversity of habitats, concentrate nutrients for growth, and provide corridors to link populations of species that would otherwise become isolated. More than just river channels carrying water off the landscape and channels used by fish, gravel-bed rivers are essential to the life requirements of a wide variety of aquatic, avian and terrestrial species from microbes to grizzly bears. Despite their ecological productivity, however, floodplains are among the most endangered landform types worldwide. Explaining the importance of gravel bed flood plains in Western US, equally educative for any other region.

CLIMATE CHANGE 

Climate change, erosion pushes new generations to poverty along Ganga Climate change and vicious river bank erosion in the post-Farakka Barrage period have blurred the lines between the rich and the poor and are pushing successive generations to grinding poverty along the lower stretches of the mighty Ganga in West Bengal. The frequent nature of erosion is induced by hydraulic control by the commissioning of the barrage in 1975 and Indo-Bangladesh water sharing treaty of 1977 and 1996, experts say. Also see, Surviving climate change in Bangladesh 

ENVIRONMENT

SANDRP Letter to MoEF Transparency in Environment Governance? Of the 8 projects to be considered in the upcoming Expert Appraisal Committee Meeting of the MoEF and CC, documents of 6 projects are not available in open domain. This includes some very sensitive Basin Studies in Himachal & the North East. Please send letters on similar lines if you agree, to the new Minister.

SANDRP Blog License to break environmental laws Through Environmental Supplemental Plan  he Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has issued a Draft Notification which aims to “regularise” projects which have violated the basic tenet of Environment Law and Governance in the country: starting work without securing Environmental Clearance. While any such violation should be punishable to deter any contempt of the much-abused environment laws, the Ministry is seeking to do just the opposite: Regularize the violations by constituting a wishy-washy Environmental Supplemental Plan, as outlined in the Draft Notification. WE HOPE THE NEW ENVIRONMENT MINISTER WILL CANCEL THIS NOTIFICATION IMMEDIATELY.

MP Panel defers green clearance for NTPC’s giant power plant The need to preserve the Khajuraho temple & Panna tiger & crocodile sanctuaries has prompted a Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) panel to hold off on clearing a Rs.18000 crore thermal power plant. This is the second time the Union environment ministry’s expert panel has deferred giving green clearance to NTPC Ltd’s 2660Mw super thermal power plant. The power project near Barethi village (Chhatarpur) was referred to the environment ministry’s EAC for thermal power and coal mining projects seeking environment clearance in 16-17 June meeting. The proposed power project site is only 12km from the ecologically sensitive Panna Tiger Reserve.

 NGT Environmental clearance must for railway projects The Green Tribunal has made it mandatory to obtain environmental clearances for Indian Railway projects before any work begins on the ground. The court on July 05 in response to a petition filed by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad. In a petition filed on May 3, 2016, Tongad alleged that the Indian Railways project of laying 140km new track from Noida in UP to Rewari in Haryana will affect the ecology of the area because the Hindon River’s 800-metre stretch in Noida is being averted without obtaining environmental clearance.

ISRO Report ‘Almost 30% of our land undergoing degradation’ According to a study that analysed satellite imageries of the country over an eight-year period, nearly 30 per cent per cent of the country’s total geographical area is undergoing degradation. The degrading area has increased over 0.5% to 29.3 million hectares during the period, as shown by comparative remote-sensing satellite imageries of the States for the periods 2003-05 and 2011-13. Desertification increased by 1.16 million hectares (m ha) and stood at 82.64 m ha during 2011-13. There was high desertification and degradation in Delhi, Tripura, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram, while Odisha, Telangana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh showed some improvement. The main culprit is water erosion (26%) followed by degrading vegetation (rising slightly nearly 9%) and land or soil erosion due to wind.

Manipur Press statement of All loktak lake areas fishermen’s union The All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen’s Union Manipur strongly object the statement made by the LDA in recent news caption “LDA rejuvenates Loktak Lake, claims State Govt” in some local news papers wherein the LDA (Loktak Development Authority) have claimed to have taken up activities which are nothing but table work reports without field works in the Loktak.

Kerala Freshwater biodiversity under threat More than half of the endemic freshwater biodiversity in the Kerala region of the Western Ghats could be inching towards extinction in habitats outside protected areas, a recent study by an expert group has revealed. The study published in the latest issue of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems , an international journal, found that around 130 species of freshwater-dependent species including fish, amphibians, crabs, shrimps, dragonflies & damselflies were endemic to the region, with 33 species listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. More than half of the 130 species were not represented in the Protected Area network of the State. 

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National Plantation projects on an overdrive but little increase in greenery The environment ministry claims to have carried out plantation on 19.64 million hectare (ha) under various government schemes between 2003 and 2014. But the corresponding increase in forest cover was only 2.4 million ha, which includes private plantations, leaving a hole of 17 million ha. In most states, the green cover growth was less than the claimed plantation area. Most of these plantations are carried out by the states’ forest departments directly or by distributing seedlings to locals. Earlier this year, the Lok Sabha passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, also called the CAMPA Bill, to hand over to the state forest departments more than Rs 41,000 crore collected against diversion of forest land for industrial use. The bill is pending approval in Rajya Sabha.

Centre Govt rules for polluters, copied word for word from the US More than three quarters of the Environment Ministry’s Environment Supplement Plan (ESP) around 2900 words of the 3,850-word draft is a direct lift from the Supplemental Environmental Projects Policy (SEP) document adopted by the United States in March 2015. The draft notification proposes to allow those who go ahead with project work without prior environmental clearance under EIA 2006 to “remediate the damage caused” and compensate by implementing the ESP. Under existing laws, these are criminal offences punishable with imprisonment. Joint Secretary Manoj Kumar Singh, who issued the draft notification on May 10, denied having copied the content from the SEP document of the United States. When comments were sought from Anil Madhav Dave, who took charge as Environment Minister on July 06, he sought details over email. He is yet to respond. On the other hand, seeking to avoid delay in granting forest & environmental clearances, the MoEF on June 30, has asked its State authorities to complete the process of govt. approvals within 100 days. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar chaired a meeting with top officials of various state-level environment impact authorities and emphasized on adhering to the time-frame so that delays could be cut down. According one more news, reversing the stand of tribal ministry, Shyam S Agarwal the secretary, tribal ministry has said that forest land can be diverted for mining & other industrial purposes if no claims have so far been lodged for community ownership by tribals and other forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). This view could lead to large tracts of forest land, till now off-limits, being opened for mining and other non-forest activities. For, a study says 98% of the potential community rights area by tribals and other forest dwellers across the country remained to be settled, as of mid-2015. Also see, A Profile of New Environment Minister

Govt cancels Rs 200cr green fine on Adani The Union environment ministry has withdrawn its demand for a Rs 200cr restoration fund from Adani Ports & SEZ for damage to the environment imposed during the UPA govt, the biggest penalty for green violations. The ministry also extended the environmental clearance issued in 2009 to the company’s waterfront development project at Mundra in Gujarat. Several stringent conditions the ministry had earlier issued notice for to Adani have been withdrawn as well. These decisions were made in Sep 2015. On the contrary the Environment Ministry in a late night statement on July 02, said that the claims are “incorrect” and it had imposed “more serious” responsibility on the firm without any cost limit the Adani Port and SEZ Ltd, may have to pay a fine far greater than what was fixed by the UPA govt in 2012 for the environmental damage caused by the construction of its port project in Mundra, Gujarat. However, it also underlined that a “fine” of Rs 200 cr, imposed on the company during the UPA government’s tenure “was not backed by any law under the Environment Protection Act and not legally correct.”

Op-Ed A clandestine operation by Kanchi Kohli & Manju Menon Several of our environment laws are now socialized by popular movements and public action for a better environment. The 2011 CRZ notification is one such law that has the imprint of negotiations between coastal communities and govt. The 2011 version came out of intense & long discussions between the then minister and fishing unions, state govts and investors. This law is a social contract between the govt and all those who took part in the process. It cannot be given up because another party has taken charge of the ministry & the govt, and refuses to take its citizens on board its agenda for reform.

You may also like to see, DRP News Bulletin 04 July 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 20 June 2016

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