DRP News Bulletin 25 July 2016 (Tawang residents protest against unfulfilled promises)

Arunachal Tawang residents protest against unfulfilled promises Hundreds of residents on July 22 marched through the streets of Tawang, the home district of newly elected CM Pema Khandu, in protest against non-fulfillment of their demand for jobs to kith and kins of two anti-dam activists killed in police firing on May 2. During the protest march they also led a signature campaign against large dams planned in Tawang, where the predominantly Buddhist Monpa tribe feared that many of the proposed hydro-power projects would damage sacred Buddhist sites in the district. At least 13 large hydro-power projects have been planned in the district, which shares border with China’s Tibet region. On June 21 the Lamas-led Save Mon Region Federation had issued six-point charter of demand to the state government for fulfillment in 30 days. Arunachal comprises a fragile, rich parcel of wildlife and ecosystem, among the richest ecosystems in India. But planning & building of hydro projects has been and will cause irreversible environmental damage. Perhaps it’s time for an aggressive freeze on all the un-built projects and an evaluation of other models of energy. Mr Prema Khandu must consider why Arunachal should become India’s mitochondria-the country’s energy provider, while losing its own enormous wealth. But contrary to this new while addressing a press conference, the new CM, on July 18 said that the govt would find ways to tap the petroleum resources & harness the hydropower potential which could be a money spinner for the state. On the 2000Mw Lower Subanisiri HEP at Gerukamukh, Mr Khandu has emphatically said he would discuss the issue with the Assam govt as well as the Centre for a solution. He said that in all the hydropower projects the affected people should be taken into confidence by both the executing agencies as well as the state govt. The new CM elected from Tawang, seeing the hydropower projects as money spinner does not sound very encouraging. Let us see how far he actually goes to take people into confidence as promised by him. 

MONSOON 2016

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Source : IMD

Monsoon Session Flood damage as on 14 July 2016 Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju informed the Rajya Sabha that until July 14, 196 people had lost their lives due to flooding and other rain-related incidents. More than 2000 cattle had perished while over 38000 houses had been damaged. The minister said over 35000 ha of crops had been damaged. During discussion few MPs suggested the need for a separate department or ministry to deal with natural disasters including flood. Currently, the Home Ministry is the nodal point for disaster relief and management. While responding to the queries, Rijiju admitted there was no technology available to predict cloudbursts. Many members complained that state govts were not being provided with enough funds to deal with relief and rehabilitation after a natural calamity. Vishambhar Nishad of SP claimed that disaster relief forces were often ill-equipped to deal with water-related calamities such as floods & they are more accustomed to swimming in swimming pools and will not be able to deal with angry waters in a flood. He demanded that at least 50% of the post in disaster relief forces should be reserved for people of communities that live near rivers, lakes or seas, like fishermen who are natural swimmers. 

FLOOD 2016 

National Flood 2016: Extent of Damage

Flood 2016 July 18 report

Source: National Disaster Management Authority India. 

Bihar 40 villages in Bihar facing flood threat 

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No bridges over troubled waters Bigger floods and increased erosion due to climate change are threatening and damaging river bridges in Bihar, in some places forcing people to fall back on temporary pontoon bridges. According to Dinesh Mishra the Koshi-Bagmati confluence did not naturally exist at Khagaria. He also says that engineers created the confluence. Since Bagmati is at higher level and Koshi at a lower elevation, the former should have been merged with the latter. The result of this was that sedimentation increased in the lower Koshi riverbed. It increased water flow in both the rivers, causing stress on the pillars of the bridges.

DAMS 

NAPM Press release 1000s of SSP affected being re-evicted by Govt. The agitation by the Sardar Sarovar Project oustees has entered the 6th day. Hundreds of adivasis from various resettlement sites as well as farmers and other oustees from Nimar of MP who have shifted to Gujarat are sitting before the Resettlement Office in Keodia Colony. Not less than 50 women from affected families have taken to the relay fast from this morning along with 50 men. Adivasis from 19 villages whose land was acquired in the 1980-s were compelled to leave their villages, their environs and cultures, shifted to resettlement sites and continue to fight for their rights.

NBA Press Release Earthquake tremors from Surat to Bhavnagar On July 18 night, the people from Surat to Bhavnagar woke up tremors of the magnitude of 4.7 on the Richter scale. Surat hasn’t experienced an earthquake of this magnitude for the past 50 years and the epicenter of this earthquake was about 100 km from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. News soon spread that the “Dam was safe” and featured on the pages of the daily newspaper Gujarat Samchar which also reckoned that the Dam is strongly built to face tremors. However, the presence of a large Dam does not ensure the safety of the surrounding areas and the people residing there.

Gujarat Chronicle of a tragedy foretold The SSP is a huge ecological and social disaster. One reason it has carried on regardless is that it is being built in Gujarat which has most of the irrigation benefits, but many negative impacts are in Maharashtra & MP. Now that a huge number of people in Gujarat itself are victims, will the travails of victims in other States have some resonance? Hopefully at least the demand not to close the gates, till there is compliance with environmental and rehabilitation conditions, will be stronger. And that what has happened with the SSP can be a chronicle foretold for future such projects, discouraging them from ever being built. 

Und dam affected families to get land at rates of year 1980 The state govt has finally decided to award land titles to 1793 families who had to be rehabilitated in 1980s due to construction of Und-I dam in Jamnagar district, by allotting them land at the rate of the year 1980. To construct the Und-I dam in Jamnagar, the govt had acquired around 4000 ha of agricultural land & relocated 7 villages Virpar, Veratiya, Kharvedha, Khakhra, Pithadiya, Khokhari and Jivapar.

Uttarakhand Govt urges UP to take up Jamrani dam project work CM Harish Rawat on July 25 had a telephonic conversation with his UP counterpart Akhilesh Yadav in which he sought increased cooperation between the two states to build the Jamrani dam at Haldwani in Nainital district. The dam on Gola river is a proposed joint venture by the two state governments but a MoU is yet to be inked. The 14Mw dam is proposed to be built on 368 hectares of land at Golapar area in Haldwani. Being a multipurpose project, it will cater to the electricity demand as well as fulfil the drinking water needs of the region. The drinking water will be shared with UP.

Telangana Satavahana capital faces submergence Koti Lingala, the shrine of Shiva, as well as the first capital city of the Satavahana dynasty said to date back to 271 BCE, located on the shores of the Godavari, is on the verge of submergence with the backwaters of the Sripada Yellampalli project lapping at the temple shrine.  Revenue authorities have alerted residents to vacate the village and move to the Relief and Rehabilitation Colony. Locals complain that the authorities have failed to provide complete rehabilitation to the project oustees & there are no adequate facilities at the R&R Colony. Historians want the govt to construct a protection wall around the temple. 

Odisha Work on 2nd spillway in Hirakud dam Work on the proposed second spillway in Hirakud dam will begin from Oct and be completed in nine months. The construction of the spillways, being constructed on both sides of the dam, is being funded by the World Bank. The dam authorities planned to construct more spillways taking note of the massive siltation and other related issues in the reservoir where cracks have appeared due to lack of proper maintenance. While the dam earlier had provision of gross discharge of 15 lakh cusecs of water, provision for release of 24 lakh cusecs of water has been planned considering the present situation and future of the dam. 

Maharashtra Overflowing Dehrang dam a worry as water goes waste After facing 60% cuts due to low level of water in Dehrang dam, Panvel residents had a reason to cheer after the dam overflowed recently. But according sources Panvel Municipal Council (PMC) is unable to collect the overflow. Due to constraints, which were not addressed before the start of monsoon, PMC was not equipped to harvest the precious resource, they said. The wastage of water can be understood in the pattern of rainwater collection, said sources. If the lower gate is not opened during the rains, then there is a chance that the dam might burst, hence the gate is kept closed till Sep-end. Also see, Just 4% water left in Marathwada dams At this point, 8 of the Marathwada’s 11 major dams remain at dead storage level.

INTER-STATE WATER DISPUTES      

Odisha & Chhattisgarh Protest against Polavaram to begin from July 25 The BJD will stage demonstrations in 15 districts between July 25 and August 11 to highlight the “unilateral” decision of the Chhattisgarh govt to build several barrages on the Mahanadi. The river that originates from Chhattisgarh traverses through 15 districts of Odisha before it merges with the Bay of Bengal. The BJP is playing a dangerous game. After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he accorded ‘national status’ to the Polavaram project. If the BJP-ruled Chhattisgrh govt goes ahead with its plan, Odisha will be badly hit. So the Orissa BJD is launching a full blown campaign on Mahanadi river and how it is getting affected by what BJP ruled Chhattisgarh is doing in the upstream. This has the potential of becoming a full blown inter state conflict.

Tamil Nadu & Andhra Stalin asks TN govt to pass resolution against AP DMK treasurer and leader of the opposition M K Stalin on July 19 demanded that the Tamil Nadu govt pass a resolution in the assembly condemning the Andhra govt’s action of raising the heights of the check dams across the Palar river. Party cadres from Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts took part in the protest. Criticising the State Govt for acting late on the issue, he said that the work on raising the heights of the check dams have been going on for nearly six months. However, the AIADMK govt has not taken any action. It hastily filed a civil suit in the Supreme Court after we announced a protest. 

Goa & Karnataka Minister denies CM’s charges on damage to Western Ghats Goa Environment Minister B Ramanath Rai on July 20 denied Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar’s charges that Karnataka was destroying the Western Ghats ecology. Parsekar had complained to PM Modi against the Karnataka govt saying that it has not declared an area of up to 10 km around Mahadayi and Bhimgad wildlife sanctuaries adjoining Goa as eco-sensitive zones. He had also sought the PM’s intervention on the issue. He also said CM Siddaramaiah will reply appropriately to his Goa counterpart on the issue. War of words between Goa and Karnataka heats up over Mahadayi Diversion. 

Telangana & Andhra SC adds to institutional complexities in water sharing between The Supreme Court on July 20 directed the Centre to set up an apex council to expeditiously settle all issues related to Palamuru and Dini irrigation projects taken up by Telangana despite objections by neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The court passed the orders on a petition filed by one A. Gopalakrishna of Vijayawada, alleging that the projects across Krishna river were taken up without permission from the Krishna River Management Board and will badly hit the interests of Andhra farmers. Telangana argued that since the projects were approved in the then united Andhra Pradesh, there was no need for fresh approvals. 

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS 

Op-Ed River interlinking a nightmare not a dream by Sudha Ramachandran Instead of pressing ahead with a financially unviable and environmentally unsustainable program, the govt must act upon a “number of cheaper, socially and environmentally-benign options” that are already available such as “increasing irrigation and project-specific efficiency, rational cropping patterns, putting to use our existing mega infrastructure which is under-performing, using water equitably, harvesting rainwater, and managing demand better, among others.” This would require the govt to first wake up to the fact that its dream of tackling India’s water woes though the interlinking of rivers plan could turn into a nightmare. Importantly, would India’s powerful big dam/water infrastructure lobby be interested in less expensive options? 

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS 

Goa Development of Inland Waterways 6 waterways i) Mandovi River (NW-68), ii) Zuari River (NW-111), iii) Chapora River (NW-25), iv) Cumberjua Canal (NW-27) v) Mapusa River (NW-71) vi) Sal River (NW-88) in Goa have been declared as National Waterways (NWs) under the National Waterways Act, 2016. DPR reports for NWs on Mandovi and Zuari rivers have been completed. This information was given by Minster of State for Road Transport and Highways & Shipping Pon. Radhakrishnan in the Rajya Sabha on July 18. Kindly explore the link to know of some of the recent studies on Inland/ National Waterways

HYDRO POWER 

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National Power generation from hydro plants dips in first quarter Electricity generation from the country’s hydro power plants has fallen 11.4% in the first quarter of the fiscal, despite the monsoon being better than normal in most parts.  According to data from the Central Electricity Authority, hydro power plants in the country generated 30,800.24 million units during April-June 2016, compared with 34,785.45 million units in the same month last year. While most of the southern hydro power plants run on rain-fed reservoirs, in the North the hydro power plants are river-fed.

Inter-ministerial dispute over dams in Ganga basin reaches SC The stand taken by Uma Bharti headed ministry puts a question mark over the future of the 6 power plants construction of which is nearly complete. SC had in 2013 stopped work on more than 24 hydroelectric power projects in Uttarakhand shortly after flash floods devastated portions of the state. Much of the destruction was blamed on unplanned urbanisation that stifled the Ganga. MoWR’s contradictory submission is despite the SC on last hearing advising the government to present a unified stand on the issue. Unless the Water Minister speak up on dams & hydro projects, in Yamuna Basin (Lakhwar, Renuka, Kishau) & on other rivers in Uttarakhand which are very much part of Ganga basin and require equal attention and protection as Ganga’s main streams, her concerns for Ganga will be showy & useless and objectives of Namami Gange could also not be achieved.  Also see, Ganga floods as ministries bicker over hydro project Faced with this double whammy of climate change impacts and abandoned partially-built dams that have channelled rivers in new directions, residents of many Uttarakhand villages are now stuck behind multiple landslides, with food running out and their homes in danger of being washed away or buried under yet another landslide. 

Industry NHPC signs pact with BHEL for overseas hydro projects National Hydro Project Construction has signed a MOU on July 21, 2016 with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited for undertaking hydro power projects in overseas markets. As per the MOU, NHPC and BHEL will look after the civil and electro mechanical packages respectively. Presently, NHPC is engaged in the construction of five projects aggregating to a total installed capacity of 4290Mw. On the other hand, JSW energy finalises buyout of JP power Ventures. According to JSW’s July 18 statement it has finalized the acquisition of Jaiprakash Power Ventures 500Mw coal-fired Bina plant for an enterprise value of Rs 2700cr. This is the second large deal involving JSW Energy, which has been acquiring assets, and the Jaypee Group, which has been selling plants to repay mounting debt. Last year, it acquired hydropower assets from the group for Rs9700cr. According to one more news report, discoms will now be able to meet their annual renewable purchase obligations with the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission finally approving power  purchase obligation from hydro projects. Tata Power Delhi, which had filed the petition, argued that power from small hydro power projects was in the consumers’ interest as their cost of power was the lowest. There are 8 hydro projects from where the discoms want to procure power but couldn’t due to lack of guidelines by the regulatory authority. 

Study Glacial lakes threaten Himalayan dams More than one in five dams in the Himalayas are likely to experience overwhelming floods caused by the failure of rock embankments that impound glacier-fed lakes, according to the first systematic analysis of current and planned hydropower projects in the region. With few downstream sites left, hydropower dams are rapidly spreading up Himalayan valleys, closer and closer to rivers’ headwaters, to meet rising electricity demand. Even though the study does not give full data either about the location of all the hydropower projects or the dimensions and dynamics of glacial lakes in the Himalayas, it is sufficient warning for the developers and govts as these considerations are just not there in EIA, appraisals or approvals or even disaster management plans. 

MP Govt orders probe into Maheshwar HEP The State govt. has ordered an enquiry into “operation and mismanagement” of Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corp even as promoter Mukul Kasliwal and main lender Power Finance Corp trade charges of serious lapses that delayed and derailed the country’s first private hydropower venture. Maheshwar Hydro power Project remains suspended, should be decommissioned. Now the project developers, S Kumars and Power Finance Corporation as at logger heads with Registrar of Companies ordering an enquiry. 

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Kerala Hydel project could drown iconic waterfall’s thunder Athirappilly waterfall is in the news again as the demand for a hydel power project in its upstream has been revived after a long gap, triggering loud protests from nature-lovers and local tribals. The ruling CPI(M), a strong votary of the dam, has dubbed these protests as ‘green fundamentalism’. The ruling LDF govt feels the dam can be built without disturbing the course of the waterfall and the surrounding green cover. But its opponents say the dam will deal a death blow to the picturesque landscape and displace many tribal families. The new Left Front govt in Kerala is starting on wrong foot. 

Uttarakhand Rain, silt affect power generation The electricity generation in state-run hydropower projects was affected due to rains in different parts of the state and silt in the rivers. The turbines of the hydropower projects have stopped generating electricity due to silt in Himalayan rivers and its tributaries. The turbines of 90Mw Maneri-Bhalli-I, 90Mw Maneri-Bhalli-II and 144Mw Chilla hydropower projects did not generate electricity for the second consecutive day.

Objections altered to give World Bank clean chit: Dunu Roy Well-known ecologist and activist Dunu Roy, who was engaged by the World Bank for inspection of the 444 Mw Vishnugad-Pipalkoti hydro-electric project in Uttarakhand that it partly funded, has alleged that his adverse findings have been “radically altered to give a clear chit to the Bank” in the final report. Dunu Roy, confirmed over email that he had sought withdrawal of his name from the inspection panel’s report. Dunu Roy’s letter exposes the farce of Inspection Panel and the World Bank funding of Vishnugad Pipalkoti HEP, one only wishes Dunu Roy had made it public much earlier. 

Himachal Cloudburst hit Kinnaur, alert sounded for hydro projects Extensive damage was caused to orchards and houses following flash floods triggered by a cloudburst at the Kharogala Nullah near Batseri in the Sangla valley of Kinnaur district on 18 July night. The local administration has sounded an alert asking the authorities to shut down hydropower projects in case of emergency. The flash floods increased the silt level in the Sutlej, damaging two bridges and leading to the closure of the Chitkul link road. On the other hand, Batseri tribals face threat as Baspa changes course The flood-hit tribals of Batseri village in the Sangla valley are spending sleepless night. They are facing a fresh threat as the Baspa has shifted its course by 60 metre to the left bank, cutting the fragile sandy soil of apple orchards that in turn is threatening the village. The area is upstream of Baspa HEP on Bapsa river and Karcham Wangtoo hydro project on Sutlaj river.

W-Bengal Commercial operations begin at 160Mw Teesta low HEP State-owned NHPC on July 18 announced commencement of commercial operations of the third unit (40Mw)of Teesta Low Dam Hydro Electric Project Stage IV. Further, 100% power generated from TLDP-IV has been allocated to the state of W-Bengal and the same shall be supplied through State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd.

Gujarat Hydropower station at SSP becomes operational Six main power-generating turbines of Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district have become operational since July 12, producing electricity at its full capacity after 65,000 cusec of water was released from the dam in MP due to heavy rainfall in the catchment areas. The total installed capacity of this hydropower station is 1450Mw. All the turbines of the riverbed and canal based power house came into operation due to early arrival of monsoon in the catchment areas in MP.

IRRIGATION 

SANDRP Blog MWRRA Ordinance 2016: More vulnerable to WRD meddling? Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA), formed under the MWRRA Act 2005 has been the first Regulatory Authority formed in India, on the explicit directions of the World Bank. While the focus of the World Bank was more on tradable Water Rights, Water use entitlements and generally pushing water as an economic good, the Authority found itself dealing with more substantial issues of equitable water distribution soon after it was formed. Act is being modified by an Ordinance..Will it make the Act and the Authority stronger or weaker? Also see, Up for an amendment,MWRRA Act remains disappointing: Experts News report based on SANDRP Blog.

Centre A much-delayed project Very interesting article that discusses a lot of new information, including possibly why a “performing” Union Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan was shifted to the Water Resources Ministry in the recent ministerial reshuffle, (He hails from Western UP and it is hoped that he will prepare grounds by persuading farmers to make changes in cropping pattern and water use), the possibility of PPP model and sale of sewage.

National Bringing watershed management back to the policy agenda Indian agriculture is governed by an impossible trinity or “trilemma” that requires it to meet three simultaneous objectives global competitiveness, social inclusiveness and environmental sustainability each often at odds with the other two. Official policy has largely tilted towards supporting the first two goals, with token, if not grudging, acknowledgement of the importance of the third one. Thus, while there is watershed management projects aimed at moisture conservation and improvement of soil health, the budgetary provisions towards these lag far behind expenditures on subsidies for fertilizers, power, water or seeds. Sadly, from around 2004-05 onwards, watershed management got pushed to the back row of the overall agricultural development strategy.

RIVERS 

National 302 polluted stretches along 275 rivers across India Out of these, there are 13 stretches along rivers in UP, 21 polluted stretches are in MP, Gujarat has around 20 polluted stretches, while Maharashtra tops the list with 49 polluted stretches. Statement made by environment ministry in Rajya Sabha. The report has state wise detail of polluted river stretches. 

Haryana Govt set to pump water into Saraswati river route The State Govt. is set to make the “lost” river Saraswati flow by the end of July 2016, with preparations underway to release water into what is believed to be the route of the river. For this, 6 borewells will be made in Yamunanagar and two at Adi Badri and Mugalwali.  As per a proposal discussed by the Saraswati Heritage Development Board, water from Uncha Chandana village would be discharged on July 30 through the Dadupur feeder into the route, where cleaning work is currently going on. CM Manohar Lal Khattar has said that the project to unearth the Saraswati river was a mission “to keep alive the soul of a community”, even if it meant creating a symbolic or artificial water body. The NDA Govt have always been enthusiastic about “finding” the lost river. In 2002 too, it gave the job to a high-power panel headed by Culture Minister Jagmohan, with 36 months to complete the project. The State Govt. has constituted Saraswati Heritage Development Board and a budget of Rs 50 crore was approved for the project.  Two years later, the UPA came to power and scrapped the project. Now Modi govt intends to revive it, with the Ministry of Culture as the nodal agency and the ASI as the implementation agency. This time, Govt’s much-hyped proposal for revival of Saraswati river has found a critic from within its own party. BJP’s MP Rajkumar Saini has stated that there are many rivers that are present where there isn’t a drop of water. He said that instead the State Govt. should ensure that if there is good flow of water below the surface, it should be provided to the people. The Haryana government has started the process of reviving the Saraswati, a mythical river, after water was found when digging was going on at what is considered as its route.  Indeed, this quest to revive the river is not only futile, but also waste of precious public resource, to build a dam for this would be such a tragedy.

People living on Tangri river bed asked to vacate houses Residents of colonies built on the Tangri river bed in Ambala Cantonment are living under the fear of floods. Tangri is a seasonal river and the residents are worried if there is flood, it would damage their homes. A few years ago, people had lost their belongings when water entered their homes.  Good that Ambala DC has NOW asked the Irrigation Dept to notify that river area he found 1700 families living on the river bed of Tangri river and they have been warned of flooding. But they all have property documents, electricity and water connections and pay property tax why no action as to who regularized such constructions. 

Assam Dredging won’t tame the Brahmaputra Dredging of the Brahmaputra river is being seriously considered by the Assam govt as one of the answers to the problem of erosion that has gobbled up huge chunks of land on both banks of the river. Erosion and floods are as much burning issues in Assam as are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The master plans prepared by the Brahmaputra board suggested constructing hydel projects over the major tributaries of the river for stemming floods.  Multi dimensional article on issues related to dredging of Brahmaputra river and how that is not a solution, as Assam CM seems to be trying to push. One missing dimension is river navigation and how advocates of river navigation are also trying to push dredging. 

Telangana & Andhra River Krishna among the highly polluted rivers In what comes as a shocker ahead of the much publicized Krishna Pushkaralu, the Central Pollution Control Board has declared Krishna as highly polluted just as Godavari in both the Telugu States. The study was based on the BOD levels, a key indicator of organic pollution. This was stated by the Union Minister of State for Environment Anil Madhav Dave in his written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on July 18.  Apart from these two, Handri, Tungabhadra, Pennar and Kundru in AP & Manjeera, Musi, Nakkavagu, Sabari and Manair in Telangana had also been thus listed. There are in all 302 stretches polluted on 275 rivers in the country. 

GANGA Centre Ganga Act may come out in 3 months Water Ministry has constituted a committee to prepare draft Ganga Act. Justice Shri Girdhar Malviya (Retd.) is the Chairman of the committee with several other members. The Committee has been asked to prepre a Draft Act on Ganga ensuring wholesomeness of the River. The Act should have provisions to ensure cleanliness & uninterrupted e-flow of Ganga. The Committee may take into consideration any other issue which it may deem fit in the drafting of the Act. The tenure of the Committee would be for a period of three months which may be extended by another three months, if required. On the other hand, according to Uma Bharati, the National Ganga River Basin Authority has worked out a framework which envisages that no untreated sewage to be disposed in Ganga by 2020. To another question in Lok Sabha on July 21, she said the Namami Gange programme has not received any grant/aid from foreign countries and that the project is fully funded by the Centre. She, however, said that several countries have offered technical assistance for the ambitious programme.

Uttarakhand NGT asks to tell which beaches to be used for camping on Ganga The NGT has sought clarity from the state government which beaches in the stretch from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh are fit for allowing permission for camping. In their submission before NGT, petitioner SAFE demanded Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to tell whether 15 beaches in forest area, used by wildlife, are suitable for beach camping. Hope NGT puts credible monitoring and compliance system in place before giving green signal so that future violations are minimized. 

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YAMUNA Uttarakhand Lakhwar dam: a threat for UP, Delhi also The construction of the 420MW Lakhwar-Vyasi Dam in Dehradun is putting at stake the lives and property of people not just of Uttarakhand but of UP and Delhi too. Since work started in Nov 2013, cracks have appeared on the houses in Juddo and debris from the construction site is being dumped into Yamuna. Locals also claim that substandard material is used to build the dam. In addition to the threat posed by such mega hydropower projects to the local environment and ecology deforestation, destruction of animal habitat and the impact on the flow of the river there is the risky location of the Lakhwar-Vyasi dams. The region is seismically active and the rocks here are weak, which makes the possibility of any structural damage to the dam an imminent threat. 

Delhi CPCB shows clean Yamuna a distant dream A report by CPCB submitted to NGT states that against a generation of 4200 MLD of waste water, about 1951.67MLD is being treated while the rest is being discharged into the river directly. Waste water generation in Delhi has been assessed as 4200 MLD and the waste water treatment capacity developed so far is 3059.48 MLD comprising 40 STPs. The capacity utilization is only 63.46% as the amount of waste water reaching STPs is only 1941.67 MLD and 54% of untreated sewage i.e. 2259 MLD finds its way to river Yamuna and deteriorates its water quality.  The committee, which also inspected the performance of the STPs, has questioned the DJB’s plan to clean up Yamuna by building 14 new STPs & called for optimum utilization of the existing ones instead.

Plea in NGT says fests on riverbanks old practice The green tribunal has allowed an impleadment in the ongoing case against Art of Living’s three-day World Culture Festival that allegedly caused damage to the Yamuna floodplains in March. Three people, who had participated in the festival, have prayed through their petition that religious and cultural festivals conducted in an eco-friendly manner be allowed and NGT should form a committee to look into permanent unauthorized constructions on the Okhla side of the river. The respondents said that holding festivals on floodplains is a centuries old practice.

Haryana Govt to set up new STP in Karnal The State would set up a new STP & upgrade 5 existing ones at a cost of about Rs 28.74 cr during the current financial year in an attempt to clean the Yamuna. The special administrative approval to this effect has been given by CM Manohar Lal. In view of orders passed by NGT the State govt has decided to upgrade the STPs in those towns where effluent is directly or indirectly discharged. A 4-MLD STP at Nissing & a 6-MLD one at Nilokheri would be renovated and a new plant of 4 MLD capacity, based on modern technology, would be built at Indri. Besides, a 10-MLD STP near Indra Chakravarti village and another of 8 MLD capacity at Karnal would also be upgraded.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

National NGT directs Wetlands Authority to meet every month  The Green Tribunal on July 22 has directed the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) to hold a meeting with states and Union Territories every month for identification and notification of wetlands all over the country. The court also directed the environment ministry to file an affidavit mentioning as to how many times till date the CWRA has met. It also asked all the states to file affidavit stating as to whether the work in relation to notification of wetlands has been concluded or not and how many wetlands have been identified and how many of them fall in the protected or non-protected area with reference to size of each wetland.  NGT in its previous hearing in May had directed that states complete the process of identification of wetlands in at least five to ten districts depending on the size of the state by July 22 and report the list to the environment ministry for notification. But not a single state sent any recommendations to the ministry. Interestingly, only 15 states responded. None of them have notified any wetlands in their states, only a few have made a list of wetlands. Delhi didn’t respond at all to the notice. Few states such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh (only nodal officer), MP and Sikkim have set up nodal departments for maintenance of wetlands. The tribunal also issued notices to Arunachal, Gujarat, J&K & Uttarakhand for their non-appearance in the case and warned that if nobody appears on their behalf in future, it would be compelled to pass coercive orders against these states.  Jharkhand, Andhra and Chandigarh submitted that they have not implemented any aspect of the wetland rules. Petitioner, Pushp Jain also pointed that the CWRA has not been active for a long time. The previous authority’s term expired in March 2015. CWRA has recently been reconstituted. The matter is now listed for hearing on August 31. 

Andhra HC directs HMDA to take up survey & fencing of lakes  According to the bench of High Court no one has a right to stop the authorities either from surveying the tanks or from fencing them. No one can save the buildings that were built within the FTL area. Even the state cannot raise structures or roads in lake bed areas. The bench also noted that any unauthorized constructions found within the buffer zone of the lakes shall be removed. The authorities concerned shall ensure that all construction activity within the buffer zone as defined by the govt would be strictly protected, About 501 lakes are situated within the area covered by Hydrabad Municipal Development Area, out of which 176 lakes fall within the jurisdiction of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. 

SAND MINING 

MP Illegal sand mining claims 1 in Bhopal A tractor trolley, allegedly engaged in transportation of illegally mined sand, hit a Somdai Jatav, 30, in Morena on July 24 killing her on the spot. The driver of the tractor fled the spot and is on the run. Irked by the incident, the deceased’s family member and other villagers staged a protest demanding arrest of the accused and compensation. District administration officials and police later persuaded the villagers to give up their agitation, which lasted for about three hours. Police said that the tractor was being driven at a high speed probably because the driver had unloaded illegally mined sand and wanted to hurriedly cross over the check points to avoid arrest. 

Karnataka Man killed for alerting cops on illegal sand mining A youth was hacked to death on July 18 night at Nidigere village in Sakleshpur taluk for informing police about illegal sand mining in Hemavathi waters. Police have arrested four persons in connection with the murder and registered cases against 15 people, including former zilla panchayat member D C Sannaswamy. The victim, identified as Ajay Sakbal (27), a resident of the village, had informed the police control room about illegal sand mining and the presence of excavators and lorries on the river basin. Members of various dalit organisations blocked the Bengaluru-Mangaluru highway demanding CID probe into the murder. They also sought a CBI probe into illegal sand mining in the taluk.

Allow sand mining by pvt parties, panel tells govt The study team of the House Committee on Illegal Sand Mining has submitted its report to the govt, which was tabled in the Assembly on July 18. The panel has opined that the failure of PWD in ensuring adequate sand to the public has made it necessary to amend the existing rules. Of the 829 sand blocks identified, environment clearance has been obtained for only 592 blocks. Mining activities are being undertaken in 219 blocks by the PWD. As the PWD has failed to utilize the remaining blocks, it has been recommended that sand mining activities be given to private agencies by floating e-tenders.

HC issues notice to Lokayukta cops over illegal sand mining  The High Court on July 18 ordered a notice to the Lokayukta police after hearing the petition filed by Sunil Bose, son of PWD Minister Dr H C Mahadevappa, and his accomplice Raju. Justice H Billappa also ordered a notice to one Basavaraju, the complainant. Both Bose and his accomplice and businessman Raju have challenged the notice issued by a local court in Mysuru over a bribe case related to illegal sand transportation. This was after allowing the application filed by Basavaraju stating that only one Alphonsus was charged with the crime. In their petition, the accused have contended that the court cannot take cognizance of the same offence twice.

Sand ban not to affect construction works Though sand mining has been banned in Dakshina Kannada from June 15 to August 15, construction works will not be affected during the ban period. Thanks to the initiatives of the district administration – it has more than 4,400 loads of sand that were confiscated through drives conducted against illegal sand mining and transportation in 2015-16. The department of mines and geology has started distributing sand stocked at 15 places to license holders, who may procure sand by paying royalty.The department had on various occasions registered 1,443 cases for storing or transporting sand illegally in 2015-16. 

Maharashtra Illegal sand miners back near Kharghar creek, kill mangroves Taking advantage of the heavy rains, some unidentified persons have been sucking up sand from the creek between Kharghar and Mansarovar railway stations. Local says that this illegal activity is destroying the environment. Mangroves towards the Mansarovar-end of the creek have also been hacked and a circular bund constructed around a patch of healthy mangroves to stop the tidal waters from reaching here. However, the Panvel tehsildar, Deepak Akade, has filed an FIR against the illegal miners on July 20. The tehsildar added that they have cracked down on sand miners earlier and curtailed the crime to some extent.

Tamil Nadu  Farmers urged admin. to prevent mining The Vivasayigal Sanga urged the administration to prevent sand mining on the Cauvery river between Mukkombu and Kambarasampettai. In a representative to Collector, Ayilai Siva Suriyan alleged efforts were on to mine sand from the Cauvery river at places such as Kadiyakurichi, Pazhur, Mutharasanallur and Kambarasampettai. Since the stretch of the river serves as the lifeline for farmers and also the source for several drinking water projects, sand mining should not allowed. He urged the govt to prevent moves to erect a deep borewell at Ariyur on the Coleroon river. 

WATER 

MP  Cracks in check dams, exposes Govt. water conservation claim  

 JST 20 July Map Dams

Telangana Govt to tie up with ISRO to keep tabs on water bodies The state irrigation department is joining hands with the Indian Space Research Organisation & setting up the Telangana Water Resources Information System to monitor its water bodies. The new system will update satellite imagery of all water bodies in the state every fortnight. Engineers of the irrigation department and other govt officials can use the data provided by the images to plan effective water use. The data can also be used for monitoring the effectiveness of Mission Kakatiya programme

Karnataka World Bank approves $100m loan Hubballi water supply The World Bank has okayed a $100-million loan to provide 24×7 water supply to Hubballi-Dharwad. The green signal was given during a meet held on July11 and 12 in Delhi between the WB and state urban development officials. This is part of the Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernisation Project under which 24×7 supply for Belagavi and Kalaburagi have also been envisaged with the financial assistance of the World Bank. In spite of all the evidence of failure of Water Privatisation moves, the World Bank continues to fund and push water privatization.

DELHI WATER

Piped water possible across city after 4 years The report  mentions that Delhi is producing 935MGD for current population of 2cr & tapping of groundwater resources could add about 10MGD more to supply. Delhi is loosing about 25% due to leakages & evaporation and another 25% is being lost in thefts apart from massive inequality in distribution. Water supply being made available to 231 colonies by rotating water alternatively. Rohini was getting water daily but which had to cut down to alternate days after DJB started supply to 80 colonies in Kirari. DJB is in no position to increase supply from what is already being given.

Op-Ed How to escape watery graves in a city by Shivani Singh Flooding is yet to claim lives in Delhi. But every time it pours, the city comes to a halt. Reports of clogged roads, sewage backflow and traffic jams kill the joys of the first rain, almost instantly. All through the year, Delhi sets the stage for this monsoon mess by stuffing tonnes of garbage, construction waste, road dust and domestic sewage into its gutters and storm water channels. Before the monsoon, the road-owning agencies start cleaning these choked drains. A huge amount of muck and silt is dug out. While some of it is carried to the dumpsites, the rest sits in piles at the edge of the drains before the first shower drives the load back to where it came from. 

WATER OPTIONS 

NDMC to set up decentralised STPs 12 in schools NDMC has identified 12 schools where decentralised STPs will be set up. Treated water from these plants will be used for horticulture in nearby green areas. NDMC is working closely with NEERI to implement this plan. NEERI has patented the Phytorid technology, which uses an ecological method to treat water using specific plants, gravel, sand, soil and rocks as different layers, he said. The operational cost in the phytorid system of treatment is less and the treated effluent is used for gardens, fountains and irrigation. The NDMC had earlier decided to construct decentralised STPs on PPP model at 10 locations in various areas of Central Delhi.

SOUTH ASIA 

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Nepal Swollen Mahakali River starts eroding banks A flood in Mahakali River has started eroding the embankment at Bhimdatta Municipality-11 in Kanchan-pur district. On July 17, the river eroded the levee that was constructed near Bhujela last year. Technicians from the People’s Embankment Programme Kanchanpur said the flood caused by incessant rains in the hilly areas of the far-western region started eroding the banks on July 16 night. People living in settlements on the Mahakali riverbanks in Darchula have been terrorized by the flood. Locals said the water level started rising on July 16 evening after heavy rainfall. The water level in the Saptakoshi river was recorded the highest this monsoon. There has been an incessant rainfall in the hill districts since July 16 night. The flow of water in the river was measured at 233,880 cusec on July 16 night.

Nepal reels under the effects of multiple landslides As David Petley has reported in his latest blog, landslides and bank erosion is dominating the news in Nepal this monsoon as this image of front page of the Himalayan Times shows. David is particularly disturbed by the news of development of alternative highway, which he thinks will only create more problems and landslides.

Pakistan Objection against Kishanganga & Ratle HEP Pakistan seems to have decided to move the International Court of Arbitration to restrain India from building two major hydropower projects on rivers assigned to Islamabad under the Indus Water Treaty. Both Pakistan and India have already declared their failure to resolve the issues pertaining to the designs of Kishanganga & Ratle hydropower projects at the Permanent Commission of Indus Water. Pakistan believes Kishanganga’s pondage should be a maximum of one million cubic meters instead of 7.5 million, intake should be up to four meters and spillways be raised to nine meters. On Ratle, Pakistan has four objections.

Bangladesh Govt likely to review ban on hilsa export According to officials Bangladesh govt is likely to review ban on hilsa export after the fish are normally available in local markets this season. The scarcity of hilsa and subsequently its unusual price hike forced Bangladesh to restrict its export in 2012 for all countries, including India. Since the ban was imposed, India has been lobbying strongly to lift the ban on the silver fish, which has a very high demand in India particularly in the West Bengal. The possibility of lifting the ban is being explored, according to agreed minutes of the 10th meeting of a two-day India-Bangladesh Joint Working Group on Trade ended on June 9 in Delhi. Very interesting to see the consistent role played by Hilsa in India-Bangaldesh Diplomacy! 

CHINA

Second deadliest flood in the history of China

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At least 75 dead, missing in northern China floods According Govt. sources least 75 people in northern China have died or gone missing since July 18 in some of the worst flooding in years. Already, 576 people have been recorded as dead or missing nationwide in the first half of the year. Beijing has been hit by constant rain since July 19 that has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and trains and flooded city streets. The rain has also threatened embankments along rivers in central China, with authorities mobilizing troops and heavy equipment to fill the gaps. Tens of thousands have been evacuated from flood-hit areas and direct economic losses have risen into the hundreds of millions of dollars. China’s south has also been hit by floods that strike annually during the monsoon season that began in May, but this rainy season has been particularly wet. Water levels in some major rivers have exceeded those of 1998, when the worst floods in recent years killed 4,150 people, most of them along the Yangtze River, China’s mightiest.  On the other hand, public doubt about the 3 Gorges Dam’s role in flood control have resurfaced as communities along the Yantgze River, China’s longest waterway, battle the area’s worst floods since 1998. The 3 Gorge project touted as a tool to prevent floods but those claims have been watered down and new threats are eroding confidence and riverbanks. Doubt is growing against Three Gorges Project of China. River Banks as collapsing, the siltation is increasing, the flood control capacity is in doubt, questions about real purpose of the dam.

THE REST OF THE WORLD

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Brazil Indigenous group fights against dams The Munduruku indigenous people are resisting hydroelectric dams on the Tapajós River, a major Amazon tributary. The hydropower, touted as green, would destroy forests & could even increase greenhouse gas emissions. Amazon dams especially mega-dams like the just built Belo Monte dam and the proposed Luiz do Tapajós dam alter ecosystems and disrupt the annual flood cycles that inundate lowland Amazon forests, putting turtles & other species at risk. Mercury contamination of Amazon rivers due to illegal gold mining is a major threat to turtles. Researchers say there is an urgent need for the Brazilian government to develop and implement guidelines for the assessment of mercury toxicity in Amazon reptiles, especially turtles.

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Europe Uproar against Albania move to dam ‘wildest river’ Despite election campaign pledges to preserve the Vjosa and create a national park around the river, Albania’s govt in May defied local and international opposition and granted initial approval to a proposal by two Turkish firms to build a 25-metre,99.5Mw dam at Pocem. Residents of Kut, 170 km south of Tirana, fear the lake created by the $110 million dam will engulf their fields and olive groves even the cemetery leaving only their houses above the water line. According to Olsi Nika of the environmental association Eco Albania about 178 concession agreements have been signed for the construction of about 502 new hydropower plants. Energy Minister Damian Gjiknuri said the govt was determined to press ahead with the Pocem dam. 

US Bull trout lawsuit targets 26 dams in Columbia River Basin According to an environmental group, more than two dozen dams operating in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana are harming bull trout and violating the Endangered Species Act. A federal lawsuit filed by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies on Monday in Portland, Oregon, names the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration as defendants. The alliance says the three federal agencies have failed to complete required consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on how to operate 26 dams in areas designated as critical bull trout habitat. The group is asking a judge to force the agencies to complete those consultations that could lead to changes at the dams benefiting the federally protected bull trout. Also see,  Los Angeles tries to restore urban rivers 

CLIMATE CHANGE 

Expert Speak We are living our lives as though we are mad: Amitav Ghosh The Paris agreement never acknowledges the causes (the new liberal economic model, belief in perpetual growth and enough carbon space for everyone to achieve development), or magnitude of the problem. It only tries to provide a technological fix, opening a door for the industry like a deranged train driver speeding to fall over the cliff tries to change the fuel that actually accelerates the train. Paris agreement is “a concealment of the real issue. In another interview the author says that most difficult in terms of climate change is the connection between emission and powers. Ultimately we are not really talking about minor creature comforts. We are talking about power structures. That is the problem that we are unable to address. The issue which holds up the negotiations and prevents the powerful from acting: what they are afraid of is not giving up their SUVs. What they are afraid of is giving up their powers. 

Tamil Nadu Govt gets Rs670cr ADB loan to fight climate change in delta The Asian Development Bank will provide a Rs.670cr loan to mitigate climate change risks in the Cauvery delta by strengthening six irrigation channels in the Vennar sub-basin and rehabilitating 13 irrigation pumping schemes. The ADB officials signed a financing agreement with the Govt of India and also signed a separate project agreement with officials of the Tamil Nadu govt in Delhi on July 15. The project seeks to protect coastal districts from cyclones and flooding that are aggravated by climate change, have a climate-resilient water management system, better flood risk management and improved irrigation infrastructure, according to ADB. One of the biggest impacts on Deltas today is subsidence and erosion aggravated by upstream dams which block silt flow but this ADB proposal does not seem to mention that its business as usual all the way. 

Study Flood damages in Germany could multiply under climate change  Flood-related losses can be expected to increase considerably in Germany as a result of climate change, a new study shows. Extreme events like the severe floods along the river Elbe have already illustrated the potentially devastating consequences of certain weather conditions such as severe rainfall events, when continuing intense rain can no longer be absorbed by the soil and water levels in the rivers rise. Without appropriate adaptation, flood-related damage of currently about 500 million euros a year could multiply in the future, the comprehensive expert analysis published in the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences highlights. We need robust and timely research like this for Uttarakhand and all of Himalayas. 

ENVIRONMENT 

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Meghalaya Protecing the ecosystem An aerial view of terrace fields in Jowai in Meghalaya. Jhum (slash and burn) cultivation, practised by many tribes in north-eastern States, is giving way to terrace cultivation as more people adopt the latter to reduce soil erosion.  

EPW Report Opaqueness of Environmental Information in India The poor record of public and private sector industries across sectors to submit the mandatory environmental information on an annual basis reveals the shortcomings of the existing environmental regulatory process. This article attempts to evaluate the current status of firm level environmental information available with the regulators and suggests some measures to streamline, standardize, and strengthen the current regulatory system to enable better compliance by firms. Excellent report highlighting how shoddy is the functioning of the State Pollution Control Boards and how opaque are our industries in submitting even mandatory environment related information. According to one more news report the govt did not imposed any penalty for violation of environment & forest clearances in the last two years, Rajya Sabha was informed on July 18 by the environment minister. 

Report India’s thriving biodiversity: 445 new species added in 2015 The key message from this news to me is that out of the 445 new species discovered in India in 2015, full 52% were discovered from just three vulnerable areas.  19% from Eastern Himalayas, 18% from Western Ghats and 15% from Andaman and Nicobar group of islands. still little data on the north-east’s flora and fauna. The message is clear, we need to protect these biodiversity rich areas. There’s Meanwhile, the environment ministry now intends to plug that gap & has proposed detailed surveys of the region over the next few months. Should not all the cumulative river basin wide impact assessments studies in North East India be redone based on these fresh surveys of flora and fauna by ZSI and BSI.

Maharashtra Govt to promote fishing in dams to bring Rs 2K cr revenue In a bid to generate greater revenue and provide large-scale employment to villagers, the state government has decided to explore the potential of the existing dams to promote fisheries. A conservative estimate shows the govt can tap Rs2K cr annually by opening up all dams for fishing sectors across State. The details of the policy are being worked out by the ministries of revenue, water resources, finance and fisheries. The inland fisheries are confined to village ponds, inland saline areas, water logged areas, reservoirs irrigation tanks and rivers. It accounts for an area of 3.24 lakh hectares (excluding rivers) with production of 2.04 lakh tones. Interesting statistic from this report. 

Andhra Research begins on algal blooms along coast A team of Annamalai University’s Centre for Advanced Studies in Marine Biology on July 17 began research on the presence of harmful algal blooms in the Bay of Bengal along the Andhra coast. The four-member team has collected water samples from the sea near Machilipatnam for testing water parameters and presence of algal blooms. The team will collect the water samples and study the waters of the Bay of Bengal in locations, including Nellore, Ongole, Visakhapatnam and Kakinda. The research project will be submitted to the Ministry of Earth Sciences by early next year.

Telangana Murrel is State fish The State Govt has declared ‘murrel’ as the State fish. ‘Murrel’ (channa striatus) is the 7th State icon identified by the govt for different species. By an order, the govt also issued guidelines on July 21 to regulate exotic fish culture like Tilapia so as to conserve the indigenous aquatic diversity in the water bodies of Telangana. The guidelines were recommended by an expert committee on animal and fish biodiversity. The order said there were 109 fish species found in rivers, canals and water bodies in the State and many of them were nearly threatened and vulnerable. Therefore, it was decided to permit Tilapia fish nurseries only if they were already registered with the Fisheries Department.

You may also like to see, DRP News Bulletin 18 July 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 11 July 2016

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