DRP News Bulletin 16 Aug 2016 (When shall We Start Respecting Our Rivers & Provide Space to Them)

brij-gopal-1_647_102515090129

In absence of clear and strict laws to define the rivers zone and demarcate flood plains, our rivers are increasingly becoming subject to exploitation. When the river spaces of our National River Ganga & Yamuna River which flow through National Capital are not well protected, then the plight of other rivers across country can be understood.

This week, there are two news reports which again are highlighting this cause. Interestingly in both cases, legal fight is going on in green tribunal which indirectly deals with the issue though with no success so far. In  fist case, NGT has directed Govt. of Uttarakhand to demarcate floodplains of Ganga river from its origin in Gomukh till Roorkee, a 65-km long stretch in the state. The tribunal has posted the matter for the next hearing on Oct 20 and asked the state government to submit its compliance report by then. The bench also sought a report on the total number of hotels on the 65-km stretch from the govt. The green panel allowed the state govt to take the help of Roorkee-based National Institute of Hydrology for identification of flood plains. Construction on flood plains and inside river zones is a sure invitation to disaster such as Kedar Nath Floods in 2013 when human made infrastructures erected very much inside river zones were raised down like sand dunes  by enraged rivers. It is sad and even more worrisome that we have learnt nothing from such events.  

In second incident Govt. of Uttar Pradesh has drawn green tribunal’s ire over constructions in floodplainsThe apex court for environmental issues, expressed its dissatisfaction over the manner in which State Govt filed its report on the distance of various real estate projects from the Yamuna flood plain zone in the city. Coming down heavily in the state govt and various Agra authorities, Agra Development Authority (ADA) & irrigation department, it stated that “authorities were expected to act fairly and judicially while complying with its directions.” The tribunal appointed registrar general Mukesh Kumar Gupta as local commissioner and asked him to file a correct position of flood plains and the distances of the various projects. Meanwhile,  ADA has been asked to produce the original records before the tribunal on the next date of hearing, Aug 19.

Floods & floodplains are integral part of a river eco-system. Both has essential role to play in smooth functioning of multiple ecological processes that takes place throughout  the journey of a river. It is abused of floodplains that our cities are facing flood threats. It is surprising to see how govts have so far failed in protection of flood plain.

With incidents of excess rainfall, cloud burst & land slides happening at increased frequency, it is time to define our river zone and flood plain clearly in the own interest of human being.

DAMS

SANDRP Blog Landslide dam blocks Teesta Tributary Just after noon yesterday (Aug 13, 2016) a massive landslide in Dzongu area in North Sikkim led to formation of a dam that blocked the flow of a tributary of Teesta River. The water started overflowing from the dam, it is now reported around 8.30 am on Aug 14 morning. However, the threat due to possible breach of this dam remains. In the upstream, houses, roads and a bridge has been submerged. There is very little media attention on this outside the region, please help us spread the message. Here is an update on the issue. 

Himachal Ready to pay Rs 450 cr for dam: Centre to SC The Centre on Aug 13 told the Supreme Court that it was ready to pay Rs 450 cr as reimbursement to Himachal for the land acquired for the Rs 5242 cr Renuka Dam. Appearing for the Central Govt., Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, however, sought four-week time for the purpose. Granting time, the Bench asked the Centre to work out the amount involved in getting the second stage forest clearance for the project and posted the matter for further hearing after six weeks. At the last hearing on Aug 5, the Bench had directed the Centre to pay the land acquisition cost within a week.

Work on Kishau dam to start in 6months Though Rs 9000-cr Kisau Hydro Project has been hanging fire for the last 12 years, the Union water ministry has began pushing for the dam in recent months saying that it would address the needs of 4 states. The Uttarakhand govt is expected to seek environment clearance for the project soon thinking that it would face no legal hurdles as it is coming up on a tributary of the Yamuna. Officials in the Delhi govt believe the project has come as a godsend for the city.  Activists, however, believe the project would be an ecological disaster because it would submerge hundreds of acres of land in both Uttarakhand and Himachal.

Odisha Deforestation increasing silt load in Hirakud As Chhattisgarh state has cleared plantation along the river to give space to industries, the lose soil flowed all the way from the upstream and got deposited in the Hirakud contributing to the reduction of dam’s water retention capacity which has gone down by 17% by 2006 and fell further since then. 73 215 sqkm of dam catchment areas fall in Chhattisgarh & only 10185 sqkm is in Odisha. According to the preliminary estimate, desiltation of the dam would require an investment of more than Rs 5000 cr, and it might go up further. The reduction in the dam’s storage capacity always poses a threat of imminent floods in case of heavy rainfall in the Mahanadi upstream. This had happened in 2011 when Odisha had witnessed one of its worst floods in the Mahanadi system. Imagine cost of desilting 17% of silted live storage capacity of Hirakud dam is over Rs 5000 Crores! But nothing is being done to reduce siltation. 

Chhattisgarh Mohar dam project causes worry in villagers The proposed Mohar reservoir project in Balod district is expected to submerge two villages and adversely affect 10 other villages when completed. According to a PIL filed in High Court more than 70% of the proposed water will be used for NSPCL’s power plant. The villagers of Balod demand adequate compensation, rehabilitation, employment opportunities, agricultural land and other facilities if the project displaces them. A dam submerging over 1000 ha of land for a thermal power project, but camouflaged as minor irrigation project in Chhattisgarh.

FL19_PROTEST_2952668g

Gujarat Protests going on against filling of Sardar Sarovar Dam While the villagers are accustomed to seeing their fields inundated every monsoon since 2006 – the year the Sardar Sarovar dam was commissioned – things might get worse for them from the next year. The authorities have decided to close the dam’s sluice gate and fill it to full reserve capacity, raising the height of the dam from existing 122 metres to 138.68 metres. The decision could spell doom for over 50000 families spread across Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra as around 244 villages are likely to be submerged after the water level goes up. Considering the past record of failed rehabilitation promises made to the dam-affected people, those faced with the prospect of losing their belongings are now resorting to a do-or-die battle against the government. This message needs to be repeated and spread. There is absolutely no justification in raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. And yet the govt is planning exactly that. Also read NBA impact A profile article on Namarda Bachao Andolan 

INTER-STATE WATER DISPUTES

Mahadayi Row Govt to consult legal experts on verdict & decide on Aug 16 whether to approach the Supreme Court on the rejection of its interim plea by a tribunal on sharing of the Mahadayi river water. The state govt is also mulling on moving the tribunal again over the rejection of its plea.  Legal experts too are of the view that the Mahadayi Tribunal has only issued interim orders that are not likely to have a bearing on the final verdict, since many of the technical issues are yet to be assessed fully. The govt is of the view that the dispute can be resolved faster through mediation if Modi were to intervene to bring the states to the negotiating table. This article gives a rather partial picture about Mahadayi dispute, one expects Indian Express to do better than that. On Aug 08, advocate Mohan Katarki, member of Karnataka’s legal team which is arguing before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal, has denied Congress leader and MLC V. S. Ugrappa’s allegation that he had said the PM’s intervention is “not a viable option”. He also said the legal team would walkout within 24 hours if the govt was not satisfied with it. On Aug 06, soon after the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal rejected Karnataka’s interim application, Mr. Ugrappa lashed out at legal team & accused Mr. Katarki and described it as violation of professional ethics. Incidentally, the all-party meeting convened by CM Siddaramaiah on Aug 07 has expressed full confidence in the legal team.

INTER-LINKING OF RIVERS

SANDRP Report नदी-जोड़ हठधर्मिता:केंद्रीय मंत्री की नियामकों, मीडिया और नागरिकों को धमकी जल-संसाधन मंत्री का राष्ट्रीय अपराधवाला बयान कई मायनों में गलत और अस्वीकार्य है। हमें उम्मीद है कि वे जल्द ही सार्वजनिक रूप से अपने बयान को लेकर माफी माँगेंगी और बयान वापस भी लेंगी। वैसे अगर वे माफी मांग भी लेती हैं तो भी उनकी यह धमकी लोगों के जेहन में रहेगी। इसे दूर करने और भय का माहौल खत्म करने का एक ही तरीका है कि उमा भारतीअपने मंत्री पद से इस्तीफा दें। इससे नियामक संस्थाएँ किसी भय या केंद्रीय मंत्री के प्रदर्शन की धमकी के प्रभाव में न आकर स्वाधीनता से काम कर सकेंगी। अगर ऐसा नहीं होता है, तो लोगों के पर्यावरणीय प्रक्रियाओं से डिगे भरोसे को जीतने की उम्मीद बेमानी होगी। 

Centre Inter-linking of rivers to cost over Rs. 5 lakh cr Water Ministry on Aug 08 has informed the Lok Sabha that projected cost of Inter-linking of Rivers as per National Perspective Plan year 2002 is Rs. 560000 crores which include Rs. 185000 corers for Peninsular component & Rs. 375000 crores for Himalayan component. Though this is only a projection and not time bound (as none of these projects are underway and costs could be dramatically revised) it’s roughly 4% of India’s economy, now valued at Rs 1,35,00,000 crore, and significantly more than what India spends on either scientific research, the social sector or defence. The total expenditure likely to be incurred on inter-linking of rivers can only be known after completion of all individual Detailed Project Reports. Meanwhile environment minister has made some Shocking statements from new Environment Minister. He says implement Ken-Betwa River Link  project, when the project does not have any of the statutory clearances! He says Run of River Dams are fine as they do not obstruct flow of water, which is totally WRONG. On the other hand, several NGOs are of the view that it will not solve the water problem of the country, but severe ecological problems, besides threatening the endangered wildlife population. The stakeholders are of the view that lakes, ponds and water bodies could be an alternative to inter linking of rivers as they could be rejuvenated with very little cost and without displacing villagers and wildlife. Kesar Singh of India Water Portal said that instead of interlinking of rivers one should think of reviving the old water bodies. He said that in Bundelkhand there were thousands of ancient water bodies which could be revived and once they are filled with water, to a lot of extent, the water problem in the area could be solved. At the same time, an analysis of weather data for 103 years (1901 to 2004) by researchers from the IIT Mumbai & Chennai shows that there is not enough water to link rivers & rainfall has decreased over the years, reducing water stocks even in river basins that have a surplus. The data was collected from 1,384 weather stations of the India Meteorological Department.

Andhra Krishna, Pennar Interlinking fraught with ecological challenges Now that the ecological ill effects of the interlinking of the Godavari and the Krishna are clear, the govt should not hurry through the Krishna-Pennar plan. Krishna and Pennar are two different river basins with their own individuality. The govt should take up an inventory of the flora and fauna of the Krishna and the Pennar before linking them. It should also conduct a ‘baseline’ study of the two rivers. Since Naidu has also mooted transfer of Godavari water to Kolleru lake, similar studies must be taken up in the lake too. Incidentally, Kolleru has a highly fragile environmental system and it is the only freshwater body down the Vindhyas to be protected under an international treaty.  Any hasty decision to interlink the rivers without a thorough scientific study of the individual riverine systems and their aquatic populations will cause more harm than good. Words of caution about proposed Krishna Pennar Water transfer. 

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS

SANDRP Blog Impacts of Ganga waterways plan on its ecology & people Given the many scientific and ecological arguments against the revival of the Ganga waterway, a question mark must be drawn over the Govt’s intentions in promoting this project. The river has already lost most of its water flow to dams, irrigation canals and industrial abstraction. A cost-benefit analysis of the waterway cannot only take into account the economic gains from lower transportation costs; the ecological, social and maintenance costs of the project must be adequately factored in. In this case, these concerns appear to have been sidelined, which will prove disastrous for the future of the river Ganga. The waterways project has also not assessed the adverse impact of the project on PM’s & Union Water Ministry’s Ganga Rejuvenation objective, the impact will certainly be huge and negative.

Bihar Gandak inland waterways a threat for Gharial population A new breeding population discovered in the river Gandak in is a huge incentive to gharial conservation but saving the gharial is no meagre challenge. Recent news that the Gandak will be developed as an inland waterway is a grave potential threat. There is no forest department equivalent for rivers and river governance structures are lacking. Working with the Water Resources department, which operates the barrage across the Gandak, is important, as a minimum flow of water is required for gharials. In the late 1960s, a barrage across the river at Valmiki Nagar had destroyed gharial habitats downstream. The region had long suffered a law and order situation, which was somewhat brought under control around 2007-08.

Centre Shipping of cars on Ganga from Varanasi to Kolkata Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Aug 08 stated that Maruti Suzuki is set to commence a pilot-run from Aug 12 under which its cars would be transported from Varanasi to Kolkata on National Waterway-I. He also gave details of the projects on river Ganga saying it was aimed that by 2020, 200 lakh tonnes of cargo for export would be shipped through waterways. Meanwhile concerns were expressed about the impact it would have on the fishing communities. Similarly in Goa assembly MLA Michael Lobo has stated that there should be meeting of Central minister & bureaucrats to explain profits & losses to the people regarding waterways project as all 6 rivers are lifeline of Goa’s fishermen community and these people are totally dependent on these rivers. Congress MLA Pandurang Madkaikar said that the entire fishing community is residing on the banks of these six rivers and questioned as to what would be their fate? Great to see a debate on rivers  in Goa Assembly, though one would have liked it to be real debate.

MONSOON 2016

C 15 

Karnataka Monsoon good but dams have no water for irrigation With the Krishna Raj Sagar, Harangi and Kabini reporting a deficit in water storage, a ban for releasing water for agriculture purpose has been imposed in the Kaveri catchment area. Barring Almatti and Narayanpura, where water is overflowing, the state is seeing a deficit in all other dams. As on August 10, the storage level in the Krishna Sagar Reservoirs was 20.99 tmcft as against its capacity of 49.45 tmcft. The Southwest monsoon is 24% deficient up to now (from June 1 to Aug 8) in Malnad area & the storage in reservoirs in the Cauvery basin is low when compared with last year. The State has received has received more than 50% less than what was anticipated. The cabinet has asked the agriculture department to begin cloud seeding by earmarking close to Rs 30 cr for the purpose. While it is estimated that the actual cloud seeding will cost around Rs 10 to Rs 12 crore, the setting up of radar stations to identify the locations will cost Rs 20 cr.

National Monsoon good, but reservoirs still not full The Northwest comprising Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, J&K, Uttarakhand, UP & Rajasthan has recorded 26% excess rain so far this season, but the water storage levels in key reservoirs continues to be less than the corresponding period last year. The latest govt data shows it is even less than the average storage of the past 10 years in the same period. So far, the country has registered 1% excess rain & the Northwest 5%. For the week ending Aug 3, countrywide rain was 6% above average.

Centre IMD plans hyper local forecast to fight city floods India Meteorological Department (IMD) is planning to expand its operations from only providing weather and climate updates to focus on issuing warning on disasters and developing a calamity-management system. With floods in cities becoming regular  last year in Chennai; this year in Pune, Bengaluru and Gurugram and throwing life out of gear, the Met department is developing a model to predict the exact amount of rain over small areas, at least four to six hours before the actual downpour. According to IMD Director General KJ Ramesh the localised predictions would help civic bodies, traffic police and rescue teams prepare for eventualities such as waterlogging and traffic snarls.                                        

Op-Ed Faulty drainage sinking the Indian cities Manu Balachandran, Maria Thomas India’s struggle with the rains is a direct result of its inefficient drainage systems and poor planning, particularly in the country’s overcrowded metropolises. As an ever-growing population squeezes into cities such as Mumbai and Bengaluru, natural flood barriers like wetlands get swallowed and new buildings frequently rise over storm drains. Any unexpected excess in rainfall, thus, throws the city totally out of gear. The story’s the same in most of India’s smaller towns too. Now, with India pushing for further urbanization, experts believe even moderate rains may lead to crises. 

FLOOD 2016

National Extent of Damage (cumulative figures) up to August 13, 2016

Name of States

 

Updation

Date In Aug

Population affected

 

Human Death Districts Affected Villages Affected Cattle Died Estimated damage

(Rs. In lakh)

 
 
Arunachal 09 38 07 15671
Assam 12 1100 36 01 06
Bihar 13 3300000 95 14 2403 05 224822.00  
Gujarat 13 11921 55 04 20 184  
J & K 06 03  
MP 13 379542 70 24 622 324
Maharashtra 13 77082 81 06 930 906
Meghalaya 04 123444 4 1 151
Odisha 10 15100 02 04
Sikkim 10 1 04
UP 12 8725169 34 20 1173 14  
Uttarakhand 13

 

75 13 766  
Total 12633358 494 98 5305 17870

 

224822.00

 

 

 

Maharashtra 6 gates of Koyna dam opened Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur in W Maharashtra are facing floods along Koyna, Krishna, Panchganga, and other rivers as these dams have started releasing massive quantities of water almost simultaneously, which could have been avoided: Radhanagari (2200 cusecs), Dhom (5000 cusecs), Warna (11000 cusecs) and Koyna (17500 cusecs). This pulse will now travel to Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra. People are being forcefully evacuated.  Due to Maharashtra’s release of water from its dams post heavy rainfall, North Karnataka districts face floods. Hundreds of villages have been inundated in Vijayapura, Raichur, Belagavi, Bagalakote and Yadgiri districts as the Krishna and Bhima Rivers breached their shores.

Assam Poor children most affected by floods More than 26 lakh people have been affected in 28 out of 34 districts of the state. The total flood-prone area in Assam is 31.05 lakh hectares which is approximately 40% of the state. With thousands of families rendered homeless, a huge number of children in Assam are now exposed to various risks–health, child labour and trafficking. About 6.65 lakh children are estimated to have been affected by the current flood situation in Assam. Their schools washed away and health affected, they also fall prey to nefarious activities. This report shows how the under privileged in Assam are worst off in floods that is regular part of Assam’s monsoon.  

Floodplains & flash floods What had once been a purely temporary flooding phenomenon of several hours, with beneficial spin-offs, now became a pervasive problem of water logging, breeding despair and disease. This also discouraged the kind of risk-taking and entrepreneurship in evidence in the Green Revolution western reaches of the Indo-Gangetic plain. It is no coincidence that the oldest and most dense civilizations were all located on alluvial flood plains. Alluvium is a natural freshwater sink. Floods are the flip side of nature’s abundant bounty but the drainage challenge in dense urban centres on the floodplains is more acute. Indian cities consequently need better drainage than their European counterparts as Delhi and Kolkata do not have comparable underground sewage or drainage systems on this scale.

HYDRO POWER

reg1

Centre to take final call on Subansiri project The Central Govt will take the final call on the under-construction 2,000-MW Lower Subansiri HEP, even if a verdict to be passed by the NGT goes in favour of the project. Construction activities of the project have remained suspended since Dec 2011, following popular resistance movements in Assam. NHPC CMD KM Singh said that the NGT is expected to give its verdict by Sep 23 next which is expected to go in favour of the project. He also added that even then  the things would depend on Central Govt & if it desires then only the implementation of the project would start. THIS IS AMAZING. THE NHPC CMD NOT ONLY KNOWS THE DATE OF NGT DECISION ABOUT LOWER SUBANSIRI PROJECT, HE ALSO CLAIMS IT WOULD BE FAVOURABLE TO NHPC. IF THIS IS NOT CONTEMPT OF COURT, WHAT IS IT?

The CMD further  falsely claim that experts have found the dam to be safe and there is no need for the people of Assam to have any apprehension about their safety from the project. This is such a bland claim. He did not even mention that the 4 members of the 8 member committee set up by Ministry of Power had given separate report which was against the project going ahead in current form. AMAZINGLY, None of the media even mentioned this. Its also strange that even as the work on the project has come to a stop since Dec 2011, the expenditure incurred on the project keeps going up. It was around Rs 5000 in Dec 2011, now it is claimed to be close to Rs 8358 crores (by March 2016) out of project cost of Rs 18064 crores (Sept 2015 price level). So where is the money to the tune of over Rs 3000 crores being spent on a stalled project. 

IR Blog Scare Tactics of Hydropower Developers by Bharat Lal Seth Last month, a line of houses and shops along the Teesta River were demolished by the district administration in the Indian state of W- Bengal. The structures set riverside of the 29th Mile village were at risk of being inundated by the fast rising backwaters of a 32.5-meter high barrage. The owners of all but two properties, owned by Meena Sherpa and her family, accepted the cash compensation offered by NHPC, the Government of India enterprise that operates the Teesta Low Dam III project a few kilometers downstream. NHPC continues to operate in atrocious way.(IR-International Rivers)  

Manipur Protest against Mapithel dam Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization & Centre for Research and Advocacy on Aug 08 organized a protest meet against commissioning of Mapithel dam at Riha village as part of the two-day commemoration of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The protest meet was attended by village representatives affected by Mapithel dam. Women leaders of Riha, Chadong and Thoyee villages also took part at the protest meet.

Himachal CM pleads for green nod to hydro projects Virbhadra Singh on Aug 08 called on Anil Madhav Dave, and discussed various issues of environmental clearances particularly the issue of delegation of powers to the State Govt to accord environmental clearance for all run-of-the-river hydro power projects. Seeking the attention of the Union Minister on pending environmental clearances, the CM said that the State Govt was facing lot of challenges in implementing various developmental projects such as construction of roads, hydel and irrigation projects in the State. The real reason son for the delays is that the projects were planned blindly with no assessment of the political economy of the energy sector. The reason why the hydropower sector is going through a slump is because these projects have failed financially, socially, ecologically and economically. Its time that this be admitted by the State government – that the dream of ‘development’ by exploiting the Himalayan rivers, which it was selling to the people has actually turned into a nightmare.

Centre Hydro capacity addition in last 2 years Power Ministry on Aug 11 has informed the Lok Sabha that 9 Hydro Electric Projects, with a total capacity of 2357 Mw, were commissioned during the last 2 years, and the current year, till 31.07.2016, in various states of the country. Out of these 9 projects, 3 projects were partially commissioned during this period. Further, the Ministry stated that as on 30.6.2016 the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) of 15 Hydro Electric schemes with a total Installed Capacity of 8,457 MW have been received by various appraising Groups in CEA/CWC/GSI/CSMRS for examination. The Central Electricity Authority is reviewing these projects regularly with various appraising agencies and project developers for expeditious appraisal of DPRs.

Industry CBI raided Jaypee officer over insurance fraud CBI sources said a case was registered against Jaiprakash Associates and United India’s former deputy general manager Rama Bhasin, regional manager Ashok Ganguly and divisional manager L C Gupta. Sources said it was alleged that the insurance claim, which should have been issued through NHPC, was issued directly to Jaiprakash Associates, resulting in loss of Rs 4.70 crore to NHPC and United India in 2010. A response from Jaiprakash Associates was awaited. CBI sources said an FIR had been registered under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy, cheating and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. New case of FRAUD filed against India’s biggest DAM CONTRACTOR, JP ASSOCIATES. 

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Ganga deserve more than promise of a Fish Ladder We request Sushri Uma Bharti ji to look at issues of Farakka Barrage through a more holistic, comprehensive, honest lens. Other than providing some water to Kolkata and some irrigation (which were in any case not the core objectives of Farakka Barrage and for which other options can be explored), the Barrage has failed in most of its other roles: be it sustaining navigability of the Kolkata Port or stopping salt water or silt intrusion or facilitating navigation, etc. On the other hand, its adverse impacts could be seen in multiple states in India as well as in Bangladesh. CM of Bihar himself has questioned the usefulness of the Barrage. During a debate in Parliament on Ganga during UPA II, some Bihar MPs in fact advocated need to decommission the barrage. Another media report does not explain much really, but key point is that govt is again claiming (its past attempts have all failed) that they will provide fish ladders for HILSA at FARAKKA. Also see, A River For Hilsa, the story has some fascinating account Hilsa and Bengal culture. PADMA NADIR MAJHI is a novel by Manik Bandopadhyay, on which Gautam Ghose has made a film, is a homage to Hilsa fisherman. KUBER, the protagonist of the novel loves the smell of the hilsa so much that it “rejuvenates him after a hard night’s labour”. ILISH GURI or Hilsa droplets is the name some give to the persistent monsoon drizzle! It shows why fishing of Hilsa was banned from Nov to Feb so that the juveniles could flow down to sea. In Bangladesh, Hilsa fishing in different stretches is banned from Nov to June and also created five sanctuaries.

Report Consider river basins studies for building new structures Experts working in the water sector say that Mahad accident shows that it was not enough to just conduct structural audits of the old, colonial bridges to ensure its safety. They said that hydrological study of river basins is a must for any new construction on the rivers as well as audit of old structures. According to Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP, the rainfall days have reduced but intensity of rainfall in shorter duration is much higher. This has an impact on the velocity of pressure exerted on such structures. In a small basin like Savitri, which comes under a high rainfall catchment area, the pressure is all the more.

Centre Status of STPs in the country According to CPCB, there are 816 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) located in different States/UTs; out of which, 522 STPs are operational, 79 are non-operational, 145 are under construction & 70 are under planning stage. It also stated that the treatment capacity of operational STPs is not adequate due to an existing gap of more than 38600 MLD in sewage generation & treatment. CPCB in 2008 identified 150 polluted river stretches which increased to 302 in 2015. Environment ministry in March 2016 statement had stated that total volume of municipal wastewater generation in the country at about 61948 MLD as against the installed sewage treatment capacity of 23277 MLD leaving a wide gap of more than 38671 MLD.

Survey to identify dried rivers Water Minister on Aug 08 informed the Lok Sabha that no survey to find out dried up rivers in the country including Maharashtra has been conducted. However, based on the satellite imageries, ISRO has conducted a study on Paleo-channels in the North-Western part of India. This study revealed that the Paleo-channels originate from Himalayas as well as Aravallies and flow further south in the States of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Further study is needed to ascertain whether the rivers were dried up or shifted or captured by other river systems.

Restructuring of Brahmaputra Board Act The water ministry on Aug 08 has informed the Lok Sabha that to make Intra North East & Brahmaputra River Rejuvenation Authority (NEBRRA) a self-reliant entity, a decision has been taken in the Ministry to form a Corporation in place of earlier proposed structure of NEBRRA. Accordingly, a revised Bill has been drafted with a proposal to constitute a Corporation named Brahmaputra Barak North-East River Development Corporation (BBNERDC). The draft BBNERDC Bill, 2016 has been circulated to all concerned States/Ministries/ Departments for their views on 8th June, 2016. Reminders have been issued on June 30 & July 12 this year. 

Maharashtra Alarming level of pollution in Kasadi river Testing of the water samples collected by fishermen from the Koli community revealed that untreated industrial waste pumped out by an effluent treatment plant from the Taloja industrial area, near Mumbai, has raised pollution levels in the Kasadi river to 13 times the safe limit. The test also found high levels of chloride, which is toxic and impacts vegetation and aquatic life. For the past two years, the fishing community has been protesting against chemical effluents from common effluent treatment plant, Taloja, being released into the Kasadi river which flows into Panvel creek.

Chhattisgarh Meet over water pollution from Bailadila mines Seeking a sustainable solution, State Tribal Affairs Minister Kedar Kashyap has met with Union Steel Minister Birendra Singh on Aug 12 in an attempt to thrash out a resolution for the water of rivers like the Dankni being polluted because of the Bailadila mines. According to minister the pollution in the water was causing adverse effects to both the tribal population that lives alongside its banks, as well as the wildlife in the Indravati Tiger Reserve.

2016_8$largeimg10_Wednesday_2016_225752934

Haryana Trial run on Saraswati river The trial run of releasing water into the Saraswati river was conducted on Aug 03 in the 11-km area of Yamunanagar district from Uncha Chandna village to Jhivrehri village. The 25 cusecs water was released into the river from Uncha Chandna village at 3 pm on Aug 3. The water was later increased to 50 cusecs on Aug 6 and it would be further increased to 150 cusecs soon. The water was being supplied to the Saraswati river from the Dadupur head through the Shahbad-Nalvi feeder. The water of Som, Pathrala and Yamuna rivers (through Western Yamuna Canal) gets collected at the Dadupur head.

GANGA Centre Status of STPs in Ganga basin states  Water Ministry on Aug 08 informed the Lok Sabha that CPCB has inventoried 764 Grossly Polluting Industries in 5 States on Ganga, Kali & Ramganga discharging 501 MLD of wastewater into rivers directly or through its tributaries excluding 144 major drains discharging 6614 MLD sewage/ effluent directly into river Ganga. According to CPCB, there are 65 STPs with installed capacity of 1232 MLD in four States (Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar & W-Bengal) along Ganga.  The status of STPs in the four States of Ganga basin is given in the table below 

State STP Status STPs Monitored
No. of

STPs

Installed

Capacity

(MLD)

No. of

STPs

Installed

Capacity

Utilized Capacity No. of STPs non-functional
Uttarakhand 7 92.5 6 89 69.5 0
UP 15 464.8 14 462.1 377.27 1
Bihar 6 153 4 109 22 1
W Bengal 37 521.45 23 335.71 73.70 8
Total 65 1231.75 47 995.81 542.47 10

Also see, Various other govt initiative taken to clean Ganga  

YAMUNA Centre Sewage Generation along Yamuna Water Ministry on Aug 08 has informed Lok Sabha that according CPCB total sewage generation from 15 cities along Yamuna river is estimated as 5021.4 MLD, out of which 3273 MLD is treated through STPs and balance 1748.4 MLD untreated sewage discharged in the river or land. Delhi with 3800MLD of wastewater generation and sewage treatment capacity of 2603MLD is a major contributor for wastewater disposal into river Yamuna. CPCB has also issued directions u/s 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to DJB, Municipal Corporation of Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Agra for treatment and utilization of sewage for restoration of water quality of rivers.

Delhi Non cooperation among agencies delay NGT plan The green tribunal in its order published on Aug 08 observed that objections were raised on “frivolous and casual grounds and ultimately the judgment itself was made a subject of deliberation”. This is not the first time that agencies have delayed the efforts to clean up Yamuna. NGT’s earlier orders have also not been followed up for a variety of reasons. The tribunal in its May 8, 2015 order had specified that the DPCC will ensure that all existing STPs run on optimum capacity. A recent report by CPCB in response to NGT’s order has revealed that 31 of the 40 STPs in the city are unable to treat sewage according to the new pollution norms. Experts also point that implementation of orders like prosecuting anyone caught throwing waste in the river is poor.

IWP Report Riverbed off limits, farmers fume Green Tribunal has banned cultivation on the Yamuna bed. The NGT feared that the vegetables grown there were highly contaminated and its consumption could lead to many ailments like cancer. Other farming options like sericulture, horticulture and floriculture were suggested as alternate options to the farmers. Though many farmers are angry, the reasoning behind the court’s decision is compelling. The court had noted the pollution of Yamuna, its impact on soil and groundwater in the area and had ruled against cultivation on the riverbed. Thousands of farmers who were growing edible crops or doing fodder cultivation on the riverbed and its floodplains took the brunt of the court’s decision. But not all farmers were ready to accept change.  Indeed, courts need to be conscious of the impact of its orders on the poorer sections. (IWP-India Water Portal) 

AOL Row Event damaged floodplains The expert report was given to Green Tribunal on July 28 & neither parties had been given copies. The report comes four months after the event took place as. But during the hearing on Aug 11 the NGT did not specify any restoration cost. In fact, it has now asked the expert committee to quantify the damage to the floodplains and “furnish tentative cost of restoration.” The committee has 45 days to recommend restoration costs and the Tribunal said that it can also use the help of an independent agency for the job with the funding of water ministry. Besides contesting the expert committee’s recommendations, the AOL has even claimed that the site of their event does not classify as a wetland, as alleged in the original petition. The NGT has now listed the matter for Sep 28. At the same time, the floodplain is flooded but petitioners say the inundation is unnatural given the little amount of rain Delhi NCR has received this year. According to the petitioners, compacted soil is the cause compaction that happened when the AOL cleared the floodplain, built a 50-foot stage and invited more than 3 lakh people. In a new twist to the never-ending case against the AOL, the foundation filed an affidavit claiming the zone has not been officially designated as a floodplain by a govt body. Meanwhile in a statement AOL has stated that their application has been filed on the basis of strong irrefutable evidence & the committee has admitted that they had in the first instance inadvertently recommended the compensation amount without any scientific assessment. One committee member published his baseless conclusions in a media interview & another member of the expert committee has an extremely close proximity with the petitioner. Earlier, AOL submitted a report compiled by another set of experts which said no harm was caused to the floodplain because of the event.

SAND MINING

Mahad Tragedy After the Mahad bridge collapse environmentalists have demanded that taluka officials & other govt agencies implement stringent checks to ensure no illegal sand mining near 4 main bridges. The activists stated that rampant sand mining was weakening the foundations of bridges and caused turbulent river flow, leading to problems like bridge collapses. Similarly , Western Railway has written to the state that illegal sand mining poses a serious threat to two rail bridges over Vaitarna River and urgent steps must be taken stop dredging activities, which could disrupt train movement on the busy Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Delhi route. In 2011 extensive dredging near one of the pillars had sparked serious safety concerns. Dredging in Vaitarna River has been a major concern for years. Last month, WR had written to Manukumar Srivastava, principal secretary of the revenue department, on the issue. Kalyan MP Dr Shrikant Shinde also, in a letter on Aug 07, asked the district collector Mahendra Kalyankar to take strict action against the active sand mafia. In the letter, Dr Shinde asserted that just like in the case of the Mahad bridge collapse, the ongoing sand dredging activities along the Mumbra-Kopar railway line has been making the base of the bridges here unstable, by literally sucking up the sand along its sides. Contrary to this, State govt on Aug 08 ruled out the possibility that the Mahad bridge collapse incident was the fallout of sand mining in the Savitri river claiming that the site where sand dredging has been on in Savitri river is far away from the collapsed bridge. Illegal sand mining near the Vaitarna railway bridge was stopped following complaints to the railways. On the other hand. 

At the same time, it emerges that the bridge that on Aug 11 cracked and sagged at Narayangaon, near Bori village, may have done so due to excessive sand mining. Taking note of the observations of the PWD, the govt is looking at revisiting its sand mining policy to tighten the norms further. According to a PWD official, the bridge that broke last week was relatively new (built in 1998) and there was nothing wrong with its construction. During inspection, PWD found that there was a change in the flow of water. Prima facie, it is evident that illegal sand mining has changed the hydraulics of the riverbed, causing the water to hit two pillars of the bridge more forcefully than others. Part of the foundation has washed away due to this, weakening the bridge and resulting in the cracks that showed up this week.

Meanwhile, search teams have found at least half a dozen heavy-duty pumps lying on the river bed, exposing illegal sand mining in the area. According to locals, these pumps were basically used for illegal sand mining, and thrown into the river during police raids. Coast Guard has also detected sand dredging site areas up to 70ft deep. Villagers also reported about sand mafia throwing pumps into the river during raids. Around Rs 20 lakh has been spent on the week-long operation by the district administration.

Himachal 1K cases, 70K challans fail to deter illegal miners The illegal mining in the Chaki river along Punjab border is so rampant that it has resulted in damage to the railway bridge and road bridges connecting Pathankot district of Punjab with Kangra district. The riverbed of the Chaki river has gone down at places due to illegal mining. Many government departments have written to the authorities against illegal mining in the Chaki river. The state High Court had also banned mining in the Chaki rivulet near the bridges and other infrastructure of national importance. Residents said the law enforcement authorities should register criminal cases, especially in cases where mining was being carried out in violation of the court orders, to stop the illegal exercise. 

Tamil Nadu Vehicles involved in mining seized 4 vehicles, including an earthmover involved in beach sand mining in Tirunelveli district were seized in a surprise inspection conducted by authorities of the district administration. While the seized vehicles were brought to Uvari police station, officials are waiting for the documents pertaining to the quarrying, for a case to be registered. The seizure comes at a time when there have been complaints of illegal beach sand mining in the district for its rich mineral content. 

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

W-Bengal Global honour for city Wetlands saviour  City-based ecologist Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, whose pioneering work on the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) and its wise use in treating the city’s wastewater led to the international recognition as a Ramsar site, will be awarded the prestigious Lac Hoffmann Award next month at the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii. Ghosh’s work on EKW began with identifying the uni queness and opportunities of the ecosystem. He named the wetlands, mapped it and calculated the economic value it was adding to the economy of a metropolitan city. Ghosh had to spend 10 years to impress upon global arbitrators the importance of EKW.

UP State does not notify 6 wetlands in Surajpur The state forest department has decided not to notify six areas adjoining Greater Noida’s Surajpur wetland as wetlands. The state govt, in an affidavit to the NGT on Aug 11, said that the six areas are merely low-lying areas and do not qualify as a wetland. NGT had sought reply from UP chief secretary if 7 wetlands can be protected. The petitioner has decided to challenge the claim made by the forest department. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Sep 6. 

Kerala Vigilantes against waste dumping in wetlands Local vigilante committees have been formed at Thengilakkadavu in Mavoor panchayat to fight off the illegal dumping of weathered sand waste in wetlands. The committees will function with the direct support of Mavoor grama panchayat authorities and the Revenue Department. Panchayat authorities said the committee’s report against suspected waste dumping units would be taken up seriously and referred to the immediate consideration of the Revenue Department. Sand manufacturing units flouting the pollution control norms would be closed down with the support of the local police. 

WATER OPTIONS

Maharashtra Satara puts its water systems back The mantra of water conservation is spreading from a fort built by Raja Bhoj in the 12th century to parched villages in Maharashtra that were reeling under drought for 3 years. For four years, rain or shine, 40 people from Satara in uniform do shramdan here every morning. Among them are doctors, software engineers, bankers, businessmen, retired persons and even a policeman. More than 65 acres are now dotted with continuous covered trenches, loose shoulder bunds and small check dams. About 7,000 trees have been planted and nurtured. Satara has been rewarded with water. Volunteers took the message, ‘Self-help keeps away drought’, to parched villages in the district. Led by Dr Pol, who is now called panyacha doctor (water doctor), the core team travelled to these villages, drew up plans, linked them to government officials and arranged funds. Amazing, Inspiring story of PANYACHA DOCTOR AVINASH POL from Satara district.  Another positive story this time from Bhandara, VIdrabha, Maharashtra, about how a govt engineer started rehabilitation of Malguzari tanks in 2008 has caught on since then.

Karnataka Drinking water from sewage becomes reality An invention by Dr Rajah Vijay Kumar’s a Bengaluru-based scientist has seen his campus recover 10K litres of water from sewage every day and use it for drinking too. The invention Boom Tube Resonator recovers water fit for drinking and gives high-value fertilizer as a byproduct. It uses no chemicals or micro-organisms. India consumes 693 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water a year and it’s pegged to increase to 942 BCM by 2025 and 1422 BCM by 2050. India discharges 38,400 million cubic metres of sewage annually, enough for the country if recovered.

zahim-khan

MP Rainfed farming: A watershed moment  State Govt has implemented a project under the IWMP aimed at harvesting of surface water on 9,960 hectares covering 32 villages of Damoh. It has basically involved digging continuous contour trenches and building gully plugs along the hill slopes (to slow down water flow); construction of earthen percolation tanks, rock-filled wire mesh gabions and farm bunds in the middle catchments; and stop dams in low-lying areas. This is great, positive story from Upper Ken Basin Damoh district where a combination of watershed work in 32 villages and shift to pulses has led to remarkable change in last 3 years. 

WATER

Maharashtra Who is profiting from water JYS? The first part of a special investigation into Jalyukt Shivar (JYS), the programme that the govt claims will save the state from drought. This is a great story about JYS Program, showing the origin of magic figure of Rs 3 lakhs (not increased to Rs 10 lakhs) and how corruption and nepotism is prevalent in this. Possibly first such story I am seeing. The Part 2 of this remarkable expose of the JYS shows how adhoc and without any assessment or permissions the deepening and widening of the Manjira river was taken up and how flippant are the replies of the collector. Part 3 of this excellent series by Mridula Chari and Supriya Sharma, show how the JYS work is possibly at the cost of the poor uplands lands to the benefit of lands of rich closer to the river. One more  detailed account of the state of Maharashtra Water Plan has many sub stories, the most important one is that MWRRA, a World Bank project’s child is a caged entity which does not even have rules not any real achievements to account for its 11 years of existence. Another interesting report reveals politics playing out in Maharashtra. The JYS program could be a move to reduce and destroy the contractor lobby and at the same to squeeze out NCP influence. Also see, a media report based on letter by Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP & Pradeep Purandare to Maharashtra CM on problems related to River Widening, deepening and straightening being done under JYS program.

Centre CWC up in arms over report calling for its restructuring The civil engineers and hydrologists from Central Water Commission (CWC) are fuming over the Mihir Shah committee’s recommendations of restructuring the CWC to give way for National Water Commission (NWC). Their main argument being that water is a state subject and such reforms will go against the spirit of federalism. The Shah committee has recommended an overarching NWC be created to encourage a shift in focus from the construction of dams to decentralised management and maintenance of water. The NWC, amongst other things, will build partnerships with independent experts and civil society groups for participatory management of water resources. The report also lays emphasis on the effective presence of CWC engineers in river basins for better coordination with states.

Uttarakhand Villagers facing worsening water shortage Villages in its hills were never short of water, with springs and small streams dotting the region. But with changing weather patterns, the springs and streams are disappearing. Springs are crucial to Uttarakhand because they provide water to about 90% of the state’s rural population. The change in snowfall and rain patterns has become quite common. Besides climate change, urbanisation and the resultant change in the type of forest are also responsible for the water crisis. Construction of roads has also aggravated the water scarcity in the state. The use of dynamites to lay roads has disrupted fissures and led to drying of springs. This throws light on how water situation in Kosi basin in Uttarakhand is changing.

UP Bagpat villagers wait for freedom to drink clean water Shocking state of affairs, just 70 km from Delhi, in a village in Baghpat district, people are forced to drink poisonous water of Hindon, Kali and Krishna rivers and also groundwater, all laced with heavy metals and toxics. Two separate orders of NGT also had no impact, UP govt remains in denial mode. The report also has a 4 minute telling video. What kind of independence are we celebrating if we ca not provide clean drinking water, clean rivers, and aquifers. Please share and spread the word.

GROUND WATER

Gujarat Solar co-operative sells water instead of electricity Finding emoluments for generating solar power unattractive, some farmers of the country’s first solar cooperative at Dhundi village in Gujarat are now opting to sell water to neighbouring farmers after they found it fetches them 2.5 times more remuneration. After six small-time farmers in Kheda district came together to form a solar cooperative that was christened “Dhundi Saur Urja Utpadak Sahakari Mandali” last year, it entered into a power purchase agreement with Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd in the first half of 2016. Under this agreement, the state discom agreed to purchase power from the farmer’s cooperative at Rs 4.63 This model not only provides a supplementary income to the farmers, but also incentivises them for not overdrawing groundwater using solar power.  Many thought that solar cooperative by farmers will also help reduce groundwater use. However, opposite has happened in this Gujarat village. 

DELHI WATER

Study recommends mandatory water-harvesting systems A study instituted by the Delhi govt has recommended mandatory water-harvesting systems on residential and commercial plots measuring 500 sq metres or above and suggested construction of 44 check dams and 480 new water bodies to recharge ground water level in the capital. The report has also recommended that existing storm water drains should have soft beds instead of cemented ones and toe weirs at intervals. As per the report, water harvesting should be made mandatory in residential and commercial plots measuring 500 sqm or above. Other recommendations include implementation of building bylaw on local treatment of wastewater.

Half of Delhi has no sewers At least 45% of the total area of Delhi has no sewerage facility, the Delhi Jal Board admitted before a shocked high court on Aug 12, prompting the judges to warn that the national capital could become a cesspool by the time all households were connected to the sewage system. The court also learnt from an affidavit filed by DJB that almost 60% of untreated sewage gets dumped into Yamuna translating into more than 500 MGD. As per the Jal Board, only 400 MGD of the 900 million gallons of sewage generated per day by the city reached its STPs which have a maximum capacity of treating 604 MGD of sewage.

Rainwater use: New plea in NGT  The recent petition claimed that waterlogging had become a menace. Quoting the 2015 Delhi Economic Survey, Jain said the road length in Delhi was 33,831km but RWH had not been done anywhere. South Delhi Municipal Corporation told that it had carried out two-three small projects in each of its wards but all were next to drains. Though NGT issued directions to PWD to carry out RWH on all 90 flyovers in 2015, it is reported that it had been carried out only on new flyovers and in some, the structures required maintenance.

AGRICULTURE

Maharashtra Is Govt helping drought-hit farmers? Contrary to government claims, several indebted farmers have been denied credit for the ongoing kharif sowing season. In March, several ministers were quoted in the media as saying that because of drought in several areas in Maharashtra, farmers who took crop loans since 2013-’14 and found themselves unable to repay them, would be permitted to restructure their loans. This would allow these farmers to get fresh loans for the upcoming sowing season, which started in June. Media reports from April and May also suggested the govt was restructuring loans for three years. However, the govt resolution dated April 26, mentioned that only crop loans from one year 2015-’16 would be eligible for restructuring. Drought hit farmers are not able to get even crop loans in Maharashtra. 

SOUTH ASIA

India & Pakistan Securing Indus treaty  In fact, its use of state-reared terrorist groups can be invoked by India, under Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, as constituting reasonable grounds for withdrawal from the Indus treaty. The International Court of Justice has upheld the principle that a treaty may be dissolved by reason of a fundamental change of circumstances. If Pakistan wishes to preserve the Indus treaty, despite its diminishing returns for India, it will have to strike a balance between its right to keep utilising the bulk of the river system’s waters and a corresponding obligation (enshrined in international law) not to cause “palpable harm” to its co-riparian state by exporting terror. This is strange argument, not likely to cut much ice? 

Nepal Upper Karnali land acquisition hits price snag Land acquisition for the much-awaited Upper Karnali Hydropower Project has hit a snag after the developer and owners of 49 hectares of private land failed to agree on the compensation amount. Residents who will be displaced by the 900 Mw project in western Nepal got upset after the Price Determination Committee was told by the project developer GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower that it would not be able to meet their demand. The project-affected people have demanded Rs1 million per ropani while GMR has offered Rs760,000. Sources at Investment Board Nepal said a deal would be concluded very soon. Land acquisition has become one of the major headaches for hydropower project developers of late as they have to complete it before the financial closure.

India, Nepal to study drying of natural springs A groundbreaking study being conducted in Nepal is examining the ways in which small towns in the mountains of South Asia depend on springs, streams and rivers for their water supply. The study has developed the concept of ‘Critical Water Zones’ which can be implemented to ensure water security in the face of rapid urbanization in these regions. The project is looking at 6 towns 4 in India including Nainital & Mussoorie and 2 in Nepal to understand how they are coping with the ever-increasing demand for water. Indeed, springs are important. The destruction of springs due to tunnelling, blasting, deforestation and other works related to hydropower and other projects should also be kept in mind. 

CHINA

16_08-Tailings-1

Luoyang, Henan province: first reports of a major tailings dam failure  Around 7pm on 8th of August, Xiangjiang Wanji Aluminium’s red mud storage had a landslide accident. The red mud storage which had the accident is located in Dahegou Village, in Luoyang, Henan province.  The dam wall suddenly broke and silt mixed with stones from the mountainside rushed down, and the village was totally submerged.  This village is home to around 300 villagers and they were transferred in an emergency evacuation.  No one was killed or injured. Sadly, the red mud buried many farm and domestic animals because it was too late to save them.  It has been reported that the dam held about 2 million cubic meters of red mud and was about 1.5 km in length. There has been no official confirmation of this story.  It is clear that a major tailings dam failure has occurred at this site.  This is yet another disaster for the mining industry in China. Also see, Jishi Gorge landslide that changed the world This David Petley blog narrates findings of a new research about the JISHI GORGE landslide dam on Yellow river in China about 3500 years ago, the breach of which led to release of huge, 11-16 Billion Cubic Meters of Water, at the mind boggling rate of 400 000 Cubic Meters per Second.

Wang Yong Chen: The Clark Kent of China At the beginning of the new millennium, Wang and a few other Chinese environmentalists intensified efforts to cancel plans for 13 large hydropower dams along the Nu-Salween River in Southwestern China. The environmentalist had directed comments to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Chinese media, and to the local and national government about the dams. But the turning point came when Wang Yong Chen used a connection from her previous work as a State Agency news reporter to send a memo about the importance to of conserving the Nu River to then-Premier Wen Jia Bao. Not long after Wang sent the memo, Premier Wen announced that no construction would occur until further notice, and until better EIAs could be conducted.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Climate Change raises earthquake risks The total number of earthquakes of 5 or more on the Richter scale across the globe in 2001 was 157. This has increased nearly ten times in a decade and half to 1,556 in 2015, with almost all the continents showing a rising trend. It now appears that there exists a clear relationship between the global warming and earthquakes. The new study led by Steckler and published in Nature Geoscience journal has warned that Bangladesh, eastern and north-eastern parts of India and Myanmar may be sitting over a possible major earthquake around 9 in Richter scale as the north-eastern corner of the Indian subcontinent is actively colliding with the Asian plate. In the last 200 years, a majority of the earthquakes of the northern hemisphere have occurred between the months of Nov & March and a majority of earthquakes of the southern hemisphere occurred between May & July.  This article makes a number of important statements.  

US Can we help losers in Climate Change This article provides a glimpse of difficulties in identifying and counting those adversely impacted by climate change in organised sectors in US. Imagine the kind of complexities involve when you start doing it in unorganised sectors in place like India, since it is the people who depend directly on natural resources that will be worse affected in countries like India by the changing climate. 

ENVIRONMENT

Expert Speak How to ‘create’ forest RITWICK DUTTA throws light on the reality of CAMPA bill that the Parliament has passed. Some notable excerpts

  • It is important to keep in mind the fact that the source of this Campa fund is the Net Present Value (NPV) which has been collected by the govt whenever forest land is diverted for various non forest purposes under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. It is nothing short of ‘blood money’ money collected by killing/destroying natural ecosystems.
  • One of the main reasons why the Supreme Court made it mandatory to charge NPV was the idea that fixing a monetary value on forest would lead to reduction in demand for forest land for industrial and related activities. At a time when the cost of a single square metre of residential plots is in lakhs of rupees, prime forest land is being made available to the industries and corporations at NPV which ranges between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 9 lakh per hectare.” Rs 30-90 per sq m or Rs 2.8-8.3 per sq ft! THE NOTION THAT PUTTING VALUE WILL REDUCE THE DEMAND OF FOREST LAND HAS PROVED TO BE COMPLETELY FALSE. 
  • In fact, the insistence on NPV has had the opposite affect: the willingness to pay has conferred a virtual right on the project proponents to demand forest land. 
  • The irony is that each time forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 there is an increase in forest land in the country and additional funds under the Campa. This happens through the following process: when the state govt allows for diversion of forest land for non-forest purpose, it is explicitly made clear that the ‘Legal Status’ of the area will continue to be ‘Forest land’ or ‘Reserved Forest/ Protected Forest.’ Thus, many of our highways, airports, mines, railway lines, dams, residential buildings etc are actually ‘forest’ in the govt records. 
  • The Forest Survey of India (FSI) report year after year claims an increase in the country’s forest cover. The fact is that while natural ecosystems continue to vanish, Indian ‘legal’ forest land will continue to show an increase. In addition, the coffers of Campa will continue to swell. 
  • It is high time that an independent review is undertaken on the utility of compensatory afforestation. We need to prioritize our forest conservation goals. We need to recognize that just as money does not grow on trees, similarly, money cannot create forest and natural ecosystem. The Campa, unfortunately, is premised on the latter view. 

_627f813c-6045-11e6-93fe-9ac2f090b545

Biodiversity law crippled at the grassroots Fourteen years have passed since India enacted a law to preserve biological diversity, but a basic requirement for its enforcement is yet to be initiated, an RTI inquiry has revealed. Less than 3% of local bodies spread in 15 states have prepared the people’s biodiversity registers (PBRs) a mandatory requirement under the Biological Diversity Act. Experts say the absence of PBRs puts several endangered species at the risk of extinction, denies benefits to locals from the commercial use of biological resources and lets industrial projects getaway by not disclosing their destructivity on environment. 

Maharashtra Tiger going out of water While the story is interesting yet it misses out a number of issues and seems to be a propoganda of Tatas. Firstly, Mahseer’s importance did not rise with the British, it has been worshipped and is still protected in fish sanctuaries across India. Secondly, if Tata’s are indeed serious about in situ protection of Mahseer, and not just breeding in tanks, then they might consider stopping westward water diversion, install fish ladders and ensure environmental flows from their own dams like Mulshi, Andra, Walvan. 

Centre MoEF held meeting on Western Ghats Chairing a meeting on Aug 11 on Western Ghat protection attended by MoEF Officials & several MPs from Western Ghat, the environment minister said that villagers and tribals living in the region must have access to infrastructure roads, power and drinking water. Speaking after the meeting the minister stated that Govt has called for widest possible consultations with MPs & MLAs on preserving the Western Ghats. The Ministry had published a Draft notification for declaring Ecologically Sensitive Area of Western Ghats, In Sep 2015, with the objective to conserve and protect the unique biodiversity of Western Ghats which according to ministry will be finalized within six months.

You may like to see DRP News Bulletin 08 August 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 01 August 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: