DRP News Bulletin 19 Sep 2016

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EAC Panel Visiting the site in Dec 2015

Centre EAC defers clearance to Yadadri Power project The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Ministry of Environment has deferred its decision for granting environmental clearance for the 8,000 MW Yadadri Thermal Power Station in Telangana by TSGENCO due to a “lackadaisical” approach in preparing documentation. The EAC said the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was incomplete and there was lack of clarity on many issues raised by the Committee earlier. EAC on Thermal Power Companies has in its minutes meeting held on 29-30 2016 held the EIA consultants guilty of cut & paste jobs which can be found here.  At some places, it is mentioned that coal will be transported from two ports and in some other places, four ports are mentioned. Hence, complete and specific details regarding coal import ports and coal transportation routes were not given. Further it is also observed that two important sections of the EIA report- “risk assessment” and “disaster management plan”- are almost entirely generic and contain hardly any site or project specific aspects.

The EAC minutes does not mention who are the EIA consultants, but on searching, one found the relevant EIA on MoEF website at: it says the EIA consultants are: “Bhagavathi Ana Labs Pvt. Limited” The website of this EIA consultant  says it has NABET license for EIA and also has done a number of carrying capacity studies and is also “official agency for auditing & calibration of all ambient air quality monitoring stations of CPCB”. So many questions arise from this episode. Why did the EAC not ask for fresh EIA? Why it has not recommended action against the EIA consultants? Will MoEF/ NABET cancel their the license of the EIA consultants now? Will CPCB cancel the official engagement with this company? 

INTER-STATE WATER DISPUTES

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Article in Marathi by Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP in the context of ongoing Cauvery controversy.

Cauvery Row Bengaluru wastes 50% of Cauvery water As Karnataka continues its legal battle over Cauvery, the states capital which is almost entirely dependent on the river wastes half the water it receives. According to the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board data the only Indian city that wastes water at a greater rate is Kolkata. Over the next nine years, the city’s water demand is predicted to be three times more than supply. Its population density 13 times higher than Karnataka’s average, Bengaluru consumes 50% of Cauvery water reserved for domestic use in Karnataka. As much as 49% of this water supplied is what is called “non-revenue water” or “unaccounted water” or water lost in distribution. According to India Spend analyses Bengaluru’s water loss is the second-highest among Indian metros: Kolkata leads at 50%. The wastage figure for Mumbai is 18%, New Delhi, 26% and Chennai, 20%. Across the world, cities lose only about 15 to 20% of their supply. India Spend pegged Bengaluru’s losses at 48% 3 years ago. According to experts at the heart of the current dispute over the Cauvery river water dispute is prolonged monsoon deficiency in Karnataka, the cropping pattern in the two states and the “adhoc manner” in which the vexed problem has been dealt with in the past few days. Himanshu Thakkar believes “interlinking of rivers”, which some believe is one of the solutions, is “certainly not” an answer. He said that both the states continue to be engaged in “unsustainable water intensive cropping pattern” all of which must change if the aim is to finalise a lasting solution to the problem. He adds that the “adhoc manner” in which the situation has been addressed over the past few days is a result of total lack of understanding of the ground situation and realities. The Aam Aadmi Party has also called on farmers to  change in cropping pattern in and reduce water-intensive farming in a bid to tide over the water crisis. Drawing attention to some of the prevailing methods of crop cultivation, it added that agriculture should be more water-smart and both paddy and sugarcane could be cultivated with less water by switching to techniques such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI). The other suggestions included de-silting of the existing reservoirs so as to augment their storage capacity, while a sincere effort should be made to restore the flow in the many tributaries of the river. Meanwhile, Karnataka’s decision to seek a modification and a temporary suspension of a Sep 5 order of the failed to persuade SC, with the apex court ordering the state to release 12,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu every day until 20 September. Expressing his views on the development Himanshu Thakkar said that there is no scientific basis for the court to arrive at a figure of 15,000 cusecs or 12,000 cusecs. These ad hoc measures by the court only rake up tensions. Instead, the court should have pulled up the supervisory committee which has not resolved the issue. As south interior Karnataka has received far less than the anticipated rainfall during this monsoon, more districts in Cauvery basin could be declared drought-hit. The additional 15000 cusecs water released to Tamil Nadu for their agricultural activity will also affect crops in Mandya & Mysuru regions. Himanshu Thakkar says that problem with tribunal awards is that their ad-hoc solutions are difficult for states to implement, especially during times of water shortage. He says that the problem arises during distress, like it is now in Karnataka (the state is going through its sixth consecutive season of deficient rainfall). Thakkar also says that states need to look at their optimal usage and share waters in a participatory and bottom-up manner.  In years when southern Karnataka gets its full quota of monsoon rain, generally not a wishper is heard on about cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. But when rains are less than bountiful in the catchment areas of the river, leaving four key Cauvery basin reservoirs less than full, trouble has always erupted over the sharing of water between the states. This year, many parts of south Karnataka received rainfall 40% in excess of the normal crucially however, the main catchment area of the Cauvery in the Kodagu district got 33% below normal rain.

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According to another news report, riparian states warring over water is not new to India & nearly every river in the Indian subcontinent is contested. If southern Karnataka is unwilling to share the Cauvery waters with Tamil Nadu, northern Karnataka is fighting with Maharashtra and Goa for the immediate release of water from the river Mahadayi. Tamil Nadu, even as it battles Karnataka over the Cauvery, opposes Kerala’s plans to build a dam over the Bhavani and to repair the more than 100-year-old Mullaiperiyar dam over the Periyar. Meanwhile, Maharashtra and Andhra are locked in a dispute over sharing the waters of the river Krishna. And up north, Punjab and Haryana are fighting over sharing the Sutlej waters.

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Amid a fresh round of confrontatioin over sharing of Cauvery river water, Minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Balyan has suggested that water be brought in the Concurrent list of legislative subjects, from the State list where it currently is, to resolve such inter-state disputes in the future. A few months ago, the ministry came up with drafts of two model laws for better water management. These proposed laws can be enforced only if the states decide to adopt them, after these are passed by Parliament. Uma Bharati has also backed the idea in informal discussions.

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MH& TS बांध से चंद्रपुर और गढ़चिरौली का वन क्षेत्र होगा जलमग्न, सैंडर्प ने उठाए सवाल यवतमाल,चंद्रपुर और गढ़चिरौली जिलों में बनने वाले बांधों पर सवाल उठाए जा रहे हैं। सैंडर्प का दावा है कि महाराष्ट्र और तेलंगाना सरकार ने नियमों का उल्लंघन कर और लोगों को अंधेरे में रखकर यह समझौता किया है। इन बांधों के चलते चंद्रपुर और गडचिरोली का काफी बड़ा वन झेत्र जलमग्न हो जाएगा। इससे इन वनक्षेत्रों पर निर्भर लोगों और इस रास्ते से स्थलांतर करने वाले जानवरों के लिए परेशानी खड़ी हो जाएगी। सैंडर्प ने केंद्रीय पर्यावरण वन मंत्रालय और नदी विकास मंत्रालय से इस मामले में कार्रवाई करने की अपील की है।

Mahanadi Row No decision in inter state meeting A meeting convened by Union Water Minister Uma Bharti over sharing waters of the Mahanadi river by Odisha &  Chattisgarh ended in an impasse. According sources no headaway was made during the meeting, with Odisha being admant that Chattisgarh should stop work on six barrages being constructed on the river. The latter reiterating that work on the barrages began more than a decade ago and had too far gone for a halt. Odisha has contended that the construction of barrages and weirs over the river would leave insufficient water to the Hirakud dam, the most important reservoir in the State.

Polavaram Row Polavaram work will be expedited CM N. Chandrababu Naidu has said that the work on the Polavaram major irrigation project will be expedited from now on & its progress will be reviewed every week. On the contrary, seeking a halt to the construction of the controversial project in Andhra, the CPI(M) has urged Odisha Governor S C Jamir to take up the matter with the centre & ensure a joint meeting among the affected states. Besides suggesting the Governor to seek expert opinion to change the design of the Polavaram Dam, the CPI(M) said the height of dam should be reduced to 150 ft, instead of 182 ft as proposed now. Meanwhile Irrigation Engineering-in-Chief M. Venkateswara Rao explains that the type of cofferdam approved by the Polavaram Dam Design Review Committee allows water to be diverted into the project’s canals even before completionPolavaram coffer dam to be large enough and high enough with spillway to allow water diversion to canals.

AP& TS Apex Council meeting on river waters likely to be stormy According to sources Telangana Govt has already made up its mind to make a strong pitch in favour of the 2 projects by highlighting the orders issued by the combined AP Govt in the past for taking up the 2 projects. Further, Telangana would raise the issue of unaccounted for diversion of huge quantity of water, over 75 TMC ft already this water year, from the Pothireddypadu regulator located on the foreshores of Srisailam reservoir in Kurnool district. The State would also press for proper mechanism to account inflows and outflows into major reservoirs on which the two States have disagreement and also utilisation of water in different irrigation systems. A strong case will be made seeking 90 TMC ft assured water in lieu of diversion of Godavari water to the Krishna Basin, 45 TMC ft each against the two projects, as such provision for such re-allocation was made in the Bachawat Tribunal award itself. First ever Andhra-Telangana Apex Council meeting comprising Union Water Ministry on water sharing following Supreme Court directions to happen on Sept 21, with focus on Lift Irrigation Schemes on Krishna River by Telangana. 

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Siruvani Row A dam and its discontents The proposed project on the Siruvani river has raised hackles across the entire political spectrum in Tamil Nadu. But for farmers and residents of the area, it goes beyond an issue between States. It is a matter of livelihood. For the farmers of the area, the future looks bleak. Meanwhile on Sep 03, a special resolution moved by CM Jayalalithaa, opposing Kerala’s Attappady Valley irrigation project Valley irrigation project on the Siruvani River, was unanimously passed by the State Assembly. Ms Jayalalithaa moved the resolution urging the Centre not to accept the recommendations of the committee formed by the Environment Ministry, allowing Kerala to conduct an EIA for the project. Siruvani is an inter-State river and a sub-tributary of the Cauvery. Even the Cauvery Water Tribunal had included both the Siruvani and the Bhavani river basins while calculating the share of water, the resolution said. Another Cauvery controversy is brewing in another part of the basin, this one with Kerala. 

DAMS

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MP Medha Patkar leads anti-dam rally About 800 people participated in an anti-dam, anti-liquor rally which NBA leader Medha Patkar led in Barwani on Sep 16. Held under the aegis NAPM the rally included farmers, fishermen, labourers from tribal predominant Barwani and Dhar districts. The rally comes at a time when NBA activists sitting on strike for past 48 days to protest against the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) policy failed to draw public and media attention. A handful of NBA supporters came from other parts of MP, Maharashtra & Gujarat. The tribals raised slogans against the state govts alleging corruption in the rehabilitation process & seeking adequate compensation to the oustees. The tribals also claimed that closing the gates of the dam will render around 45000 tribals homeless. Earlier on Sep 14, Patkar described the return of land to Singur farmers in W-Bengal as a “new lease of life” while slamming the Centre govt on the SSP issue. The Narmada Jal Satyagraha in MP will oppose increasing the water level of the SSP & the resulting destruction of villages. Bihar CM also joined the public meeting to express his solidarity with the dam oustees later during the day. Also see, The gaze of developmenta state in Narmada valley 

Op-Ed Should Farakka be removed Right from its proposal phase, the Govt of Bangladesh had been critical of the project. It was apprehended that by enhancing the flow into Bhagirathi-Hooghly, the barrage would reduce the dry season flow of the Ganges/Padma into Bangladesh. In fact, the voices within Indian technocracy who opposed the project, like Kapil Bhattacharya, were singled out and marginalised. There is ample literature to suggest that Farakka barrage is responsible for reducing flow, causing salinity ingression, and drying up of the Sundarbans delta. The statement that China has developed its own rules of ecologically informed engineering while designing its dam on Yangtze is clearly problematic, since it is not clear if such a thing exists.  The article provides no details of so called ecologically informed engineering. Also see, Farakka-Rampal: An impediment to Bangladesh-India relations 

National TN picks holes in draft Dam Safety Bill Tamil Nadu CM J. Jayalalithaa on Sep 11 objected to aspects of the draft dam safety bill proposed legislation relating to the control and management of India’s dams for which the central govt is trying to get assent from the states. A similar attempt by the UPA govt had earlier failed. In a strongly worded letter to PM Modi, Jayalalithaa called the union govt’s push to reorganize the way India runs its dams “needless adventurism” and said the bill is unacceptable to Tamil Nadu in its current form. Jayalalitha has based her criticism on two factors–that the draft bill includes or excludes certain clauses that she says amount to overriding the federal nature of the Constitution and that it does not take into account her reservations against some clauses that were included in the earlier UPA govt’s draft. 

INTER-LINKING OF RIVERS 

Goa GFP gears up for street protest against nationalisation of rivers Goa Forward Party (GFP) is gearing up to march the streets of the state to oppose the government’s decision of nationalising six rivers of Goa Mandovi, Zuari, Mapusa, Chapora, Sal and Cumbharjua. The party will build political consensus to oppose and organise mass protests from October 2. Stating that the nationalisation of rivers of Goa for converting them into highways of shipping is the worst catastrophe facing Goans, GFP president Prabhakar Timble said that the move will adversely affect marine ecology, fish output, fishermen community and the tourism industry along the 182 kms of riverine banks.  Its great to see this consciousness about rivers and action for them from a relatively unknown political group in the small state of Goa. When will the mainstream political parties in bigger states and at the centre wake up to this reality? 

HYDRO POWER

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Himachal Unrelenting tribals force discom to call back staff from Jispa Jispa Bandh Sangarsh Samiti, convener, Rigzin Samphel Hayerpa said that HPPCL has wrapped up their office from Jispa around 20-25 days back. He also added that since beginning our stand is clear that we would not allow the construction of dam at the cost of our displacement. He said in future too, opposition towrads the project would continue. The residents who are living in this fragile, difficult and hostile environment of Lahaul valley have opposed the Jispa dam since the day they have heard of it. They have seen the condition of the Satluj and Ravi in their front yards and have vowed to protect the pristine Chenab for everything its worth. On the other hand, State Govt cabinet on Sep 05, decided to amend hydro power policy 2006 in respect to transfer of shares by Himachalis to non-Himachalis. Now Himachalis can sell or transfer 49% equity shares to non-Himachalis at any stage after allotment of projects upto 2 MW capacity and full disinvestment after two years of commissioning of the projects. The cabinet also gave its nod to cancel four projects namely Joiner-II (3MW) in district Chamba, Kanda (0.80 MW) in district Sirmaur, Rawin (1 MW) in Shimla district and Chahod (2 MW) in district Mandi. On the other hand, NHPC has announced that it has signed an agreement with BHEL rehabilitate & upgrade 180 Mw Baira Siul hydro project station in Himachal. NHPC to modernise, including replace all three turbines of 180 MW Baira Siul hydropower project in Ravi Basin in Himachal Pradesh at a cost of Rs 132.74 crores.  According to one more news, Nepal PM has visited Nathpa-Jhakri hydro-power project in Shimla which is Asia’s biggest underground Nathpa-Jhakri hydro-power project. He was expected to hold discussions on hydro-power projects in Nepal with officials of Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam. Meanwhile, weak monsoon in the higher reaches of Himachal has hit hydro power generatoin at dams in the hill state and neighbouring Punjab down by 5% to 35%. The fall in power generation is a result of lesser water flowing into the reservoirs of Bhakra (Bilashpur), Pong (Kangra), Kol (Bilaspur), Ranjit Sagar (Pathankot), Chamera (Chamba), and Nathpa Jhakri (Kinnaur) dams.

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Uttarakhand 18 hydel designs to be tweaked State govt is expected to make significant changes in the basic design of 18 hydro projects, which are part of 24 such projects which have been stuck due to environmental reasons after concerns were raised regarding them post the 2013 flash floods. The move follows a recent consensus reached by the Union environment and water ministries in which it was decided to present a united stand before the Supreme Court on allowing these projects. The matter is scheduled to come up in the SC next month. Sources in the state govt said that a committee has been constituted from various departments which are working on a report that will be presented before the SC. I hope this is more like a trial balloon and not going to lead to any progress in pushing these projects. It will not only be an invitation to bigger disasters, but also against the cause of the people, river, environment and future generations.  Meanwhile, Tehri Hydro company is learnt to raise Rs 600 crore via bond sale. According sources, the company will use the money to fund its new projects, including the 24mw Dhukwa hydro project in UP, the 50mw wind power farm at Patan in Gujarat, and a 50mw solar project in Kerala. At present, the company has an authorised share capital of Rs 4,000 crore, according to data from the bond-sale’s term sheet. Besides, its ongoing projects like the 1,000 MW Koteshwar pumped- storage project would leverage ‘run of the river’ flow to generate power. Meanwhile a research team has also found that many hydro projects in Himalayas are at risk from glacial lakes. Amita Bhaduri of India Water Portal also writes that Hydropower is hardly a ‘renewable’ source in the first place & the unfettered expansion of hydropower has many hazards. It impacts the local community and the ecosystem in many ways.  Another news report says that Himalays glaciers are melting fast & concerned agencies have no clueless on impact of glacier melts on human population dependent on it. The report also highlights that melting of glaciers will bring down the flow in rivers as a result there would be an impact on hydro power projects.

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W-Bengal Central nod for construction of more hydro power plants According to power and renewable energy minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, the state has received necessary permissions related to construction of a planned pumped storage hydro power plant. He further added that the state has one pumped storage hydro power plant and two more will be constructed soon. He was confident that the 1000 MW Turga hydel power project would take off shortly once environmental clearances were in place. Earlier the state utility had launched a detailed survey and project report for the Turga pumped storage project (1000 Mw) and Bandhu pumped storage project (900 MW) in Purulia. 

Centre Adding hydro can take India’s clean power to 225 GW by 2022  According to power minister Piyush Goyal, Govt is considering reclassifying large hydro power plants as renewable projects. He also added that it can help India achieve clean power capacity of 225 GW by 2022. Removing the distinction between small project (up to 25 Mw) and large hydro project can help India projecting that its installed renewable energy capacity would be 225 GW by 2022.  Declaring all hydro as renewables will neither help the cause of the renewables or hydro or that of power sector or even the rivers.

MONSOON 2016

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National Monsoon rains could be 15% below average According to IMD officials this year’s below-average rains, after two straight years of drought that had dried up reservoirs and led to social tensions in parts of the country, could cut yields of summer-sown crops that are currently ripening for harvesting and also hit the planting of winter-sown crops like wheat and chickpeas. The IMD had forecast surplus rains in Aug & Sep largely because of the La Nina which didn’t leading to lower rains in the second half. Since the start of the monsoon season on June 1, rains have been 5% below average. Given the situation of a deficit rainfall in 2 of the 3 months so far, India needs 10% surplus rain or more than 190 mm in Sep for 2016-17 to be a normal monsoon year.  The country receives an average 890 mm of rainfall during the June-September monsoon, which is vital because more than half of the country’s arable land depends entirely on rain for irrigation. The rainfall deficit in the month of Aug is 9% at 237.1mm. According one more news report, 37% districts or a third of country is short of rain. In 610 of 641 districts for which data are available, 389 districts received normal or excess rain, while 221 received “deficient” or “scanty” rain in the first three months of the 4 month-long monsoon season. During the week ending Sept 8, the country registered an overall 16% deficiency, fuelled by 50% shortfall in northwest, 38% in central parts & 30% in south where, incidentally, two states Karnataka & Tamil Nadu are locked in a bitter water war, the underlying cause of which, many feel, is continuing monsoon deficiency. This means Sep rainfall will now be important to make up for these widespread deficits. Still, these are best rains since 2013, when India received 14% more than the average rainfall of the June-Aug period.

FLOOD 2016

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National Bihar, UP turn worst flood ravaged State Extent of Damage (cumulative figures) updated on 13 Sep 2016

States Population

affected

 

No. of

human lives lost

No. of districts affected No. of villages affected No. of cattle  lost Cropped area

affected

(in ha)

No. of houses damaged Total damage

(Rs. In lakh)

Fully Partially
Arunachal 40 07 15671 354
Assam 2983 36 02 05 58 290
Bihar 8615000 249 31 4886 231 310000 3262 13355 50161.40
Gujarat 12121 61 05 24 184 03 125
J & K 03
MP 184 400 20000 60000
Maha 77082 93 06 930 917 15441 885 6867
Meghalaya 123444 4 1 151
Odisha 15100 03 06
Punjab 20 04 09 13 462 07 148
Sikkim 02 11
UP 2143594 74 30 3049 311 271412.24 3581 29224
Uttarakhand 99 13 803 143 2993
Total 10989344 850 112 9058 18575 597605.24 28246 112712 50161.40

Floods bring focus back on desilting According to environmental expert Himanshu Thakkar the water retention capacity of the Ganga and other rivers has reduced due to siltation, becoming one of the major causes for flooding. Lamenting the “ad hoc manner” in which this very crucial issue of siltation is being dealt currently, whether it is while building infrastructure projects on rivers or for navigation purpose, he calls for a concrete effort. He further adds that it is strange how silting does not find a mention either in the National Water Policy or any other document built for management of water resources in the country & there has been no concrete effort in this direction so far even while we are talking of building inland waterways and other infrastructure on rivers.

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Arunachal Seeking a permanent address in Majuli A permanent address is a luxury not everyone enjoys in Majuli, the world’s largest river island. Annual floods and erosion force many to shift their houses every few years, some even earlier. Floods and erosion are not new to Majuli. From 1246 sq km in 1971, it has shrunk to 650 sq km at present. The island and the cluster of islets near it, is still significant 80 km long and 15 km wide. The island itself shapes and reshapes with each floods, land mass eroded at one end is deposited elsewhere. Of the 248 villages on the island, 166 have been earmarked as threatened. Since 2001, more than 3,000 families have lost their land to erosion and were forced to relocate. Embankments are still home to more than 2,000 families.

Bihar गंडक नदी में कटाव जारी, 28 घर समाए  गोपालगंज प्रखंडके कला मटिहनियां पंचायत में लगातार चार दिनों से गंडक नदी का कटाव जारी है। इन चार दिनों ने गंडक नदी ने पंचायत के वार्ड नंबर पांच के करीब 28 घरों को अपने आगोश में ले उनका अस्तित्व मिटा दिया है। सबसे हैरत की बात तो यह है कि नदी का जलस्तर कम होने के साथ ही कटाव में काफी इजाफा हुआ है। नदी का रौंद रुप देख ग्रामीण यही कहे जा रहे है कि गंडक लगता है कि बौराई नदी को समाप्त करने पर तूली है। साथ में, पुनपुन नदी के जलस्तर में वृद्धि के कारण संपतचक प्रखंड के कोली बांध गेट में अचानक रिसाव होने से कई गांवों में पानी घुसने लगा। दो घंटे के रिसाव में बांध के आसपास बसे कोली, तारणपुर, कंडाप, लंका कछुआरा, कमरची, लहलादपुर, पलांकी गांवों में पानी घुस गया। पानी घुसने से ग्रामीणों में अफरा-तफरी मच गई। प्रशासन ने दो नावों के साथ एनडीआरएफ टीम को भेजा है। लोगों के आवागमन के लिए एनडीआरएफ को लगाया गया है। संपतचक के बीडीओ कुंज बिहारी ने बताया कि स्थिति पूर तरह से नियंत्रण में है। वहीं दूसरी ओर पटना सुरक्षा बांध बुधवार को भी रिसाव जारी रहा। मंगलवार की देर रात बांध में आई दरार को लेकर प्रशासन ने लगभग 12 हजार बालू की बोरियों से इसे पाटने का प्रयास किया। इसके बावजूद भी हल्का रिसाव हो रहा है। Also see, 12 जिलों में बाढ़ 10 से रही सूखे की आहट

Op-Ed Unlock the arteries of the city by Sanjeev Sanyal The monsoon rains have revealed that almost all Indian cities lack drainage networks. Even a modest shower will flood our roads, homes and markets, and will bring our cities to a standstill. Neglected drainage networks is not merely about the inconvenience caused by traffic jams, but is closely linked to many aspects of urban management the spread of diseases like chikungunya and dengue and even the efficiency of public transport systems. According to the op-ed Delhi-NCR region has inherited a very extensive network of drains and canals, “nullahs” which is consists of 350 km.

DROUGHT 2016

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Maharashtra Drought, displacement, debt Facing a severe drinking water crisis, the state decided to ban the opening of new sugar mills in the region for the next five years. In the cities of Marathwada, scuffles frequently break out among those who must wait hours to get water from tankers. School exams in Latur, a major education hub, were moved forward so that students could return to their villages sooner and bring down the city’s water requirements. The lack of work in villages during the summer months has forced thousands of farmers and landless laborers to migrate to major cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Hyderabad. Eye catching pictorial report by Harsha Vadlamani briefing on reasons & consequences of Marathwada drought.

Chhattishgarh सूखे के लिए योजना तैयार करें: डा. रमन सिंह  राज्यमें सूखे की आहट दस्तक दे रही है। मुख्यमंत्री डा. रमन सिंह ने वीडियो कांफ्रेंसिंग के जरिए कमिश्नरों और कलेक्टरों की आपात बैठक ली और कहा कि अगर 10 दिनों के भीतर बारिश नहीं होती, तो सूखे के लिए कार्ययोजना बनाई जाए। कम बारिश के चलते राज्य के 6 जिलों और 40 तहसीलों में सूखे के हालात बन गए है। इस पर राज्य सरकार मंगलवार को केंद्र को पहली रिपोर्ट भेजेगी। राजस्व विभाग के मुताबिक 6 जिलों और 40 तहसीलों में अब तक मात्र 50-70 फीसदी ही बारिश हो पाई है जो खेती और निस्तारी की जरूरतों के हिसाब से कम ही है। जलाशयों में भी पानी नहीं होने से इन क्षेत्रों में फसल सूखने की कगार पर है। धान उत्पादन के लक्ष्य पर भी असर पड़ेगा। 

IRRIGATION

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SAUNI Project Experts sceptical of SAUNI water project sustainability An ambitious Rs 12000 crore project to bring the water of the Narmada river to Gujarat’s parched Saurashtra region is helping reunite families, but independent experts feel that pumping water to the parched region is going to be a tough task for the Gujarat govt. According to Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP, SAUNI project which PM Modi announced on his birthday is based on the unreliable assumptions of water availability in the Sardar Sarovar dam which can accumulate about 28 million acre feet of water in its reservoir but Gujarat has been allocated only 9 million acre feet from the tribunal. Hence no one can guarantee how much water the dam will get every year depending upon the rainfall. He also said that “massive lift-irrigation schemes across the world have not been a success in the long term. Highlighting the shortcomings of the SAUNI project, Thakkar said that the command area of the SAUNI is not satisfactory as it will send water only to 1.1 million hectares of land once completed while over 4.2 million hectares need water for irrigation. Can such long distance water supply projects involving huge lifts and power consumption be sustainable over long term? Is it the best option, also considering climate change? 

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Telangana Govt to bring land acquisition act to speed up irrigation projects Resistance from people, legal hurdles to alternate land pooling plans are some of the other reasons behind the govt’s push for a state level act.  Land acquisition is an even bigger challenge for a large size project like Kaleshwaram Irrigation Project, which was redesigned by state govt. Interstate agreement signed with Maharashtra govt over the construction of 3 barrages on River Godavari & 2 of its tributaries- Wain Ganga & Pranahita- involving changes in project heights & contour levels, was another substantive attempt directed towards executing this project without further delays. Meanwhile,   hostages in their own village, the people of Vemulaghat, a small village in Medak district fiercely opposing the land acquisition efforts of State Govt for water project, completed 100 days of protest on Sep 12 & vowed not to yield to govt pressure to give up their fertile lands. Since the last 100 days, a population of approximately 3000 in the village is living under the shadow of fear and police who prevent the villagers from going out, and visitors from going into the village. The government has imposed Section 144 and Section 30 (A) in the village 50 days ago, prohibiting even three or four youths of the village from sitting together. The villagers are opposing the land acquisition for the Sri Komaravelli MallannaSagar Lift Irrigation project which is a reservoir that is 80 sq kms wide and 60 metres deep. As recently as on August 23, the Irrigation Minister held discussions with some he residents of Vemulaghat, the lone village that has been fighting for the implementation of the LA Act. Consent was given by farmers for 362.15 acres at Pallepahad (out of the total 813.10 acres), 520.26 acres at Vemulaghat ( total 2,266.12 acres), 470 acres (275 acres already registered) at Erravalli (total 1,566 acres), 120 acres at Singaram (total 1,023 acres), 1,310 acres registered at Etigaddakishtapur (total 1,773 acres) and 987 acres at Toguta of the total 1,584 acres.  Unfortunately this protest going on now for over a 100 days in this Medak village in Telangana has not found any space in national media.

Maharashtra Over 70,000 drip irrigation subsidy seekers await approval Though the State Govt has been aggressively advocating drip irrigation, but applications for subsidy for drip irrigation made by 71,000 farmers in 2013-14 are still pending for want of funds, and it would require grants worth Rs 129 crore to sanction them. The huge pendency can also be said to be the reason of mismanagement of these funds while sanctioning drip irrigation proposals. According to the existing rules, no irrigation subsidy can be availed for 10 years after the first subsidy has been used. Every year, the state govt receives close to 2.5 lakh proposals. This year, the state and the Centre have made available Rs 408 crore, of which Rs 250 crore will come from the Centre and the rest from the state.

Maharashtra Irrigation Scam Govt to scrap 94 tenders in 14 irrigation project under ACB lens In a major decision, State Govt on Aug 29 decided to scrap 94 tenders in 14 irrigation projects in the Konkan and Nashik divisions which are under the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s scanner. The total cost of the scrapped tenders is about Rs 3,295 crore. Twelve tenders have been scrapped in Konkan region, while one contract in Nashik and 81 in Vidarbha stand cancelled. All irrigation works in Vidarbha region relate to the Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project that has been languishing for 32 years. All pending works below Rs 1 crore, which site engineers find after assessment can be completed by contractors within two months, will be retained. It was felt that re-issuing work orders in ongoing projects worth less than Rs 1 crore would lead to greater time loss and further delay. Meanwhile Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan have accused the NCP of having ‘back-stabbed” party by withdrawing its support from the govt ahead of the 2014 state Assembly polls. His comments came after senior NCP leader Praful Patel had recently accused the Congress of pulling his party down even as it “sank” itself by wrongfully charging it with involvement in scandals. Former CM also refuted Mr Patel’s contention that he had ordered a probe against the NCP leaders in the Rs. 70000 crore irrigation scam. 

Haryana Govt to revive JLN Canal to boost irrigation Aiming to achieve the goal of ‘Har Khet Ko Pani’ (water for every field), Haryana govt on Sep 12 approved a Rs 143-crore project for re-construction of Jawahar Lal Nehru (JLN) Canal. Tenders have been floated for the work which would be completed in a phased manner by March 2018, an official spokesman said. Also, Rs 300 crore project for rehabilitation of 565 watercourses has recently got an approval from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard). Giving details, a spokesman of the Haryana irrigation and water resources department said in 2016-17, as many as 105 new schemes worth Rs 124.77 crore and 140 ongoing schemes worth Rs 256.80 crore have been approved for flood control and drainage.

MP State Cabinet approves 4 irrigation projects The State Cabinet on Sep 06 approved Rs 2,937.39 cr for four irrigation projects. These four projects will facilitate irrigation in 95,730 hectare land. Administrative sanction of Rs 228.11 crore is given for the medium lift irrigation project Bham (Rajgarh) of district Khandwa for 6,100 hectare command area and Rs 93.061 cr revised administrative sanction of Bankpura small irrigation project of Rajgarh district for Rabi irrigation in 1990 hectare land. Similarly, a third revised administrative sanction of Rs 2544.57crore has been given for Pench diversion project of Chhindwara district for Rabi irrigation in 85,000 hectare land. Moreover, a revised administrative sanction of Rs 71.7772 crore is given for Khargone district’s Kharak irrigation projects of 2,640 hectare total command area.

Odisha Only 1 lakh ha covered under micro irrigation in 10 years Even as the State Govt has set an ambitious target to create irrigation potential for additional 10 lakh hectares of land by 2019, it has been able to cover only 1.01 lakh hectares under micro irrigation. With a total cultivable area of 61.65 lakh hectares, the state govt has created irrigation facility for 36.62 lakh hectares during kharif season. The area under micro irrigation is only 2.76% of the total arable land. With a poor track record in utilisation of Central assistance, the State Govt lost about Rs 50 crore from the Centre last year due to its failure to submit district irrigation plans under PMKSY. The State Govt has already submitted Rs 35,000 crore District Irrigation Plans to the Centre for 2016-17.

Himachal Breach in Shah canal worries Indora farmers A breach in Shah canal in Punjab region has spelled trouble for the farmers of Himachal. Shah canal that originates from Pong Dam in Talwara region of Punjab caters to irrigation needs of the farmers of Indora regional of Himachal. Sources here said about 20 meter breach developed in the Shah canal portion located in Punjab on Sep 11. Ghansham Pathania, a farmer of Indora region, while talking to The Tribune, said at this point of time they required water badly for their paddy crop.

Gujarat Gadkari dreams a grand canal thrugh desert If Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s dream of building a 850-km canal from Gujarat to Rajasthan becomes a reality, parts of the Great Indian Desert and the barren Rann of Kutch could be a thriving economy with “no water problems”. The Minister said the project was in a preliminary stage and will use Arabian sea water from Gujarat to Rajasthan to transform the barren Rann of Kutch and Thar Desert regions into thriving economy. He said that land would be no problem for the project as it is all desert and a govt company has already surveyed it. 

RIVERS

Yettinahole diversion project Prayers offered to win a case against Yettinahole project Netravathi Rakshana Samyukta Samithi, an action committee fighting against Yettinahole diversion project in the NGT, sought divine intervention on Sep 14 by offering prayers at places of worship in the city to win the case. The next hearing in the case would be on Sep 21. The petition by the samithi has sought complete scrapping of Yettinahole project. Interesting to see the prayers to ensure that Nethravathi continues to flow and not be diverted by Yettinahole project.

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Puducherry Arasalar river highly polluted: CAG The rapid rate of pollution of the Arasalar river has been highlighted by the report of CAG which was tabled in the Puducherry Assembly on Sep 07. The CPCB had, as early as July 2013, identified Arasalar river as polluted. While Puducherry region generated about 45 mld of waste water, the 3 STPs of the PWD had a capacity to treat only 17.5 mld of waste water, the CAG said. Moreover, in areas not covered by underground drainage  systems, accumulated sullage was being let directly into erstwhile irrigation canals. There were 19 such canals in the region which ferried blackish sullage water into the sea, the report said. The CAG also ticked off the PPCC for non-functioning of the Water Quality Review Committee. The committee which was to meet every quarter to examine and discuss specific water quality related tasks had held its last meeting in Dec 2003. 

UP When Osaka comes to Lucknow The state govt is on a mission to replicate Osaka’s riverfront in Lucknow. This spells doom for the families dependent on the Gomti for sustenance. Publicly available information about the riverfront development project does not indicate any plans being made for the relocation of these people; they are not even acknowledged on the website. 

GANGA Uttarakhand Sword hanging over 125 Haridwar hotels for dirtying Ganga According to the order passed by the tribunal on Aug 19, it is mandatory for all hotels with 20 or more rooms to have their own STP or bio-digester so that no untreated sewage from them goes into the river. All such hotels have been required through the order to take a NOC from the Pollution Control Board (PCB). This is granted only if a hotel has set up its own STP or bio-digester, or submits a proposal for it along with an application for NOC. Subsequent to the NGT order of Aug 19, the PCB issued a public notice on Aug 27 informing institutions including hotels, industrial units and hospitals to set up STP or bio-digester in compliance of the NGT order and take an NOC from the PCB. A list of 125 hotels required to follow the order has been obtained. A list of ashrams and dharmashalas which are covered by the NGT order is also being prepared and will be sent to the PCB. 

UP Cities, industries pouring 1000 MLD untreated effluents in Ganga According to CPCB report, there are 30 storm water drains carrying sewage, sullage & other wastes joining the Ganga at various locations between Haridwar and Kanpur. Sewage load of 823 MLD is still discharged without treatment into the holy river and its tributaries along the crucial 543kms stretch. The CPCB’s report comes in the wake of NGT’s displeasure with authorities at the Centre and in UP for not delivering any results on cleaning of the national river till now. Meanwhile, the report indicated that tannery industries still remains the most polluting ones on the Haridwar to Kanpur stretch. Of the 764 total grossly polluting industries on this stretch, 415 are from the tannery sector, 67 each are from sugar, paper and pulp while 63 are from the textile sector. These industries are discharging a total of 212.42 MLD of effluents across Ganga, Ram Ganga and Kali East rivers.

Centre Govt to promote organic farming along Ganga Ministry of Water Resources has signed an MoU with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare for speedy implementation of Namami Gange programme.  As per the terms of  MoU the Agriculture Ministry will develop   organic farming  in  the  villages  along  Ganga  with  each  Gram Panchayat representing a single cluster, promote organic farming through awareness programmes, self help groups, mobile apps etc. The Ministry will also create awareness about balanced use of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides promote micro irrigation for water conservation in Ganga Basin and will encourage livelihood opportunities and natural farming, based on animal husbandry, along Ganga. Earlier on Sep 03, the National Mission for Clean Ganga which has been involved in the implementation of the Ganga rejuvenation plan lost yet another mission director with the Centre repatriating the incumbent Rajat Bhargava to his parent cadre of Andhra.  He was the third chief of the NMCG in the past two years to leave the post of mission director without spending significant time with this important body. Before him, two others -Rajiv Ranjan Mishra and TVSN Prasad had held the post. On more media report finds that Ganga cleaning work is moving on slow pace as Govt has so far only launched entry-level activities & work on medium-term projects like municipal sewage & industrial effluent management through STPs & CETPs have not yet picked up. The scale of the work, ensuring such facilities in as many as 118 towns/cities, needs massive coordination among five states through which the Ganga flows. The list of the projects, which were launched on July 7 under phase-I of the ‘Namami Gange’ programme, shows that 193 out of 231 projects are related to ghats/crematoria development and surface cleaning. The list includes only 8 STPs, one drain interceptor project and six pilot drain projects among other activities which will have long-term effects. 

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Study Water table rises in Ganga basin but so does salinity The conclusion of a new study published on Sep 05 in Nature Geoscience is that the gravest threat to groundwater in India isn’t over-exploitation but arsenic and salt contamination. The authors of the study, “Groundwater quality and depletion in the Indo-Gangetic Basin mapped from in situ observations”, say the unsustainable levels of groundwater extraction are largely limited to urban agglomerations in Punjab, Haryana & UP. However, nearly 23% of the 300 BCM (billion cubic metre) is extremely saline & about 40% contaminated by arsenic, says the study. The researchers analysed groundwater tables from 3,429 wells, high-resolution spatial data and studies within Pakistan, India, Nepal & Bangladesh between 2000 and 2012. They sought to assess groundwater-level variations, groundwater quality & groundwater storage within the top 200 m of the Indo-Gangetic aquifer. 

YAMUNA Delhi Experts raise doubts over boat taxis plan in Yamuna The Inland Waterways Authority of India moved a petition at the NGT on Sep 05, seeking permission to start water taxis in a portion of the polluted river. Manoj Mishra from the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, however, said that there is no merit in such projects till Yamuna is back to being a river. He said that starting boating activities on Yamuna will only be a “white elephant” project. According to YJA such activities are generally proposed at the end of complete restoration of the river and after that also the government should conduct an environment impact assessment, before giving a nod to such a project.

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Yamuna fishermen The Yamuna is one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Every monsoon, however, allows the river to cleanse itself. Gusty, upstream rains recharge the flow of the river and it becomes home again to teeming fish. Awesome pictorial reports beautifully unraveling the lives of migratory fishermen of Yamuna in Delhi NCR. The sad part is that river pollution indeed has made a big dent in fish catch, the only livelihood option they solely depend on.

SAND MINING

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Maharashtra Drones film illegal sand mining, expose mafia The state govt is pushing for the deployment of drones across districts to check illegal extraction for the sand-hungry construction sector.  These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been deployed in Nagpur to monitor violation of sand mining leases & illegal extraction and the govt is planning to replicate the model across Maharashtra. It is also used to monitor the various water conservation works under the state government’s flagship Jal Yukta Shivaar program. The state cabinet has also decided to deploy the stringent Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDA), 1981, against the sand mafia. Sand is classified as a minor mineral and the state earns around Rs 1,200 crore annually through auction of minor minerals, though sand mafia’s actual turnover may be much higher. In its report, the CAG has pointed to poor controls on the mining sector in Maharashtra and noted that a system for ascertaining the actual quantity of sand extracted after allotment of sand ghats was also absent. Meanwhile, with the series of damning reports by Nagpur Today exposing illegal excavation of sand, the District Administration swung into action and cancelled the sand mining contract of Beena ghat. Apart from the reports, the District Administration and District Mining Officer had received complaints from District Shiv Sena Vice President Vardharaj Pillai about sand being excavated with the help of Poclain machines which is illegal. But the last nail was hit by the drones that captured the images of illegal acts conclusively. Earlier also, contracts of seven sand ghats were also cancelled but the action remains on papers only. The ground reality is shocking. Despite sand mining contract at Beena being cancelled, huge quantity of sand was excavated slyly on the night of September 16 and the next day morning. Over 150 trucks transported the illegally mined sand and the exercise was going on without hindrance. On the other hand, the illegal sand mining activity near the Belapur-Uran road has stopped and the miscreants have deserted the spot. Activists who had informed about the illegal activity said that the miscreants possibly got wind of a raid slated to be carried out by the authorities. Also see, रेत माफियाओं ने ग्रामीणों पर तानी रिवॉल्वर, पांच गिरफ्तार

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MP Mining guidelines compliance must for clearance Environment Ministry during the course of hearing at Green Panel submitted the guidelines issued by Central Govt  titled Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines 2016, under which the issues pertaining to sand mining in river beds in particular in the State has been filed. These guidelines are to be followed by the States in the matter of grant of environmental clearances by the District authorities and the State authorities. They provide steps to be taken by project proponents while submitting the mining plan, the District administration for identifying the areas for which mining leases may be granted as also the quantum of deposits, both available as also the annual replenishment plan.

बताओ किसे रेत सप्लाई की, फिर छोड़ेंगे वाहन  

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Karnataka Stay on sand extraction in CRZ of Udupi to continue The stay on sand extraction, ordered by the NGT (Southern Zone), Chennai, in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) areas of Udupi district will continue till October 1. According report the sand extraction case was listed for hearing before the NGT, Chennai, on Sep 13, but on account of the Bakrid holiday, it had now been posted to October 1. Hence the stay on sand extraction in CRZ areas of Udupi district, ordered earlier by the NGT, would continue. The NGT had on May 17, 2016, issued an order staying the issuance of sand mining permit or extraction of sand from the rivers of Udupi district. Meanwhile the people affected following a stay order on sand mining activities in the district have condemned the lackadaisical approach of the district administration in representing the stance at NGT & have decided to stage a protest rally. They would also call a district bandh and march to the DC’s office in Manipal. All people connected to the construction business would assemble and take part in the protest. Nearly 3,000 to 4,000 people would join the protest.

UP NGT seeks list of persons involved in illegal mining The NGT has sought a detailed list of persons allegedly involved in illegal mining along Betwa River bank in Jalaun & Hamirpur districts. The court directed the district magistrates of both the districts to place the list of such persons by Sep 27. The direction came while perusing an inspection report by a panel appointed by NGT to inspect the river bank to probe the allegations of rampant illegal sand mining in the area. It had earlier directed the two-membered committee to contact the owners of land in the area and collect information as to who had carried out the sand mining operations. It had also asked the committee to file a report giving all conclusions drawn by them on illegal sand mining along with particulars of the persons who were involved in the activity.

CBI awaits court order on mining The Central Bureau of Investigation, which recently submitted its findings on the alleged illegal mining in UP, is awaiting a certified copy of the latest Allahabad High Court order for further action. The State government had sought withdrawal of the July 28 High Court order directing a CBI inquiry. However, the court rejected the plea last week. Soon thereafter, CM Akhilesh sacks mining minister over corruption charges. The last court hearing had been scheduled for September 12. The High Court had on July 28, while hearing the PIL petitions filed by Vijay Kumar Dwivedi and others, directed the CBI to conduct an inquiry into the allegations of illegal mining across the State and submit a report within six weeks. Seven writ petitions have been filed challenging the grant of leases for excavation of minor minerals subsequent to May 31, 2012, either in the shape of extension of the term of the expired lease, its renewal or by grant of permission to continue with the mining for the period during which lease rights could not be examined on account of the interim orders passed by the High Court or the order of the Competent Authorities. It has been alleged that despite there being no subsisting lease in favour of any person for excavation of minor minerals, specifically sand, excavation of minor mineral is being carried out by the sand mafia in collusion with the district authorities.

Kerala Sand mining changed the course of a river in Vanimel With the increase in illegal sand mining and river bank encroachment in Vanimelpuzha, the number of accidental deaths are also surging. Recently, Muhammed Rishad of Cherumoth died after being caught in the currents of the river. The number of such deaths is increasing at Paakkoyi, Vanimel bridge area, Cherumoth, Vishnumangalam bund area and Puliyavu regions. The currents have strengthened following river encroachment and sand mining. Huge trenches have been formed even at naturally shallow regions of the river. Though the Panchayat announced various schemes to revive the river, nothing has been implemented efficiently.  

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Himachal Fresh instructions to DCs to curb illegal mining The State Govt on Sep 10 issued fresh instructions to all the Deputy Commissioners to convene monthly meetings of all the concerned officers to review the action taken by them against illegal mining. The DCs have been asked to constitute committees of Public Works Department, Revenue and Forest Officials since most of the routes leading to the river beds have been carved out illegally on the forest land and government land and the mineral so extracted is being stacked on the acquired width of the PWD roads. On the other hand, with a view to ensuring easy availability of minerals like sand, grit, stone and other construction material to people and check illegal and unscientific mining, the Himachal Industries Department has issued guidelines to make mining sites’ auction transparent. Accordingly, the govt has decided to hold an open auction for granting mining lease for mineral quarries. It recently auctioned 14 minor mineral quarries for Rs 3.95 crore in Hamirpur district,13 quarries in Kangra district for Rs 2.21 crore and 20 quarries in Sirmaur district for Rs 29 crore. Following the orders of the NGT rule, the govt had banned mining in the state, but at the same time it wanted to ensure that the pace of development was not affected for want of minerals and resorted to scientific mining. As per the guidelines no mining lease will be granted up to 100 m from the edge of a national highway/expressway, 25 m from the edge of a state highway and 10 m from the edge of other roads. Apart from it, no mining lease will be granted up to 200 m above and below any water supply/irrigation scheme and 200 m above bridges and 200 to 500 m below any bridge. 

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES 

Tamil Nadu 80% of Chennai was wetland in 1980s, now 15% According to a study done by Care Earth Trust only 15% of the city’s wetlands are left, down from the 80% when Chennai’s area was lesser. The researcher has analysed the spatiotemporal variations, specially focussing on wetland and built-up land of the Chennai metropolitan area from 1980 to 2010. As per the findings, the built-up area of the city was 47.62sqkm in 1980, only 20%, while the wetlands were spread over 186.30sqkm. In 1991, the built-up area increased three-fold, 152.33sqkm, and almost equalled the wetland spread which in the 11 years had come down to 159.41sqkm. In 2000, it was 250.58sqkm (68%) when compared to the 117.48sqkm of the wetlands. A decade later, the built-up area touched 402.10sqkm (85%) and the wetlands had shrunk to 71.05sqkm (15%). On the other hand, despite a strict deadline given by the NGT to extend protection to the lakes in the city by declaring them as “wetlands,” the State govt is seemingly sitting on the order On May 4, the tribunal had set an eight-week deadline, but the government has sought more time. Declaration of these as wetlands not just protects them for posterity, but it also places emphasis on the State government to preserve them in a time-bound manner. The rules say entry of sewage and solid waste into wetlands must be stopped and all encroachments removed within six months.

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Maharashtra Navi Mumbai violating HC order on protecting wetlands Environmental NGO Vanashakti has written to top officials in the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), demanding action against illegal dumping of debris in a water body in Nerul. A senior NGO official said Vanashakti is considering moving the Bombay High Court if the concerned officials fail to act. Vanashakti says NMMC officials are not acting against clandestine dumping of debris in the wetlands. The NGO said the civic body is violating an HC order to protect wetlands and ensure their restoration wherever damaged. Taking advantage of a string of holidays in mid-August, when civic officials are not around to keep a check, miscreants managed to dump tonnes of construction debris in a water body between the mangroves and Palm Beach Road, near TS Chanakya in Sector 34, Nerul. 

UP Work on to compile digital maps of wetlands The principal secretary of forest and chief wildlife warden have requisitioned detailed information from all tiger reserves, forest sanctuaries and the forest divisions regarding the status of wetlands in their respective areas. The compilation of the status report is aimed at launching a comprehensive action plan for the conservation of wetlands both in protected as well as the reserve forests. There are as many as 503 identified wetlands in the protected as well as the reserve forest areas in the entire state of UP of which 132 wetlands are present in PTR while three are there in social forestry division of the district. The physical area of the smallest wetland in PTR measured around one hectare while the biggest spanned 20 hectares.

GROUND WATER 

UP Ready to remove effluent near Hapur plant On Sep 01, Coca Cola has told the Green Tribunal that its Hapur plant was ready to “lift and transfer” untreated effluent behind its unit, after a plea alleged that it was discharging waste in a nearby pond. The submission came after the counsel for UP Pollution Control Board submitted a report on its re- inspection carried out on July 5. The green panel had ordered re-inspection by CPCB & UPPCB after going through the report of a court commissioner which found “openings” and “leakages” at a few spots in the boundary wall of the plant. Also see, गाजियाबाद में बोरवेल के जरिए भूजल का दोहन कर रहे हैं 187 उद्योग  राष्ट्रीयहरित अधिकरण को जानकारी दी गई कि गाजियाबाद में बड़ी संख्या में उद्योग अपने परिसर में लगे बोरवेल के जरिए भूजल का दोहन कर रहे हैं, जिससे जलस्तर में कमी रही है। गाजियाबाद में उद्योग परिसरों में बोरवेल के बारे में पता करने के लिए जिला प्रशासन के 16 अधिकारियों की टीम द्वारा किए गए निरीक्षण की रिपोर्ट में कहा गया कि 233 में से 187 उद्योग भूजल का दोहन कर रहे हैं। रिपोर्ट में गाजियाबाद जिले में संचालित उद्योगों की विस्तृत सूची सौंपी गई, जिसमें चमड़ा निर्माण इकाई, शराब निर्माण इकाइयां, कपड़ा इकाइयां और जल संचालित अन्य उद्योग शामिल हैं।

WATER 

untitledA cartoon on water crisis in ToI 

Centre Free power for farmers fuelling water crisis  Environment Minister Anil Dave has backed NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant’s remarks that free electricity has made people drill deeper and turn large parts of States such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana barren. The minister linked the rampant extraction of groundwater to the free electricity supplied to farmers and mooted a fresh approach towards rivers and water bodies to impose discipline on water consumption. The Minister also backed a call for stronger ground water management regulations made by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who said free electricity has made people drill deeper to get water for irrigation and is turning large parts of States such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana barren. While free power has played a role, there are much bigger reasons for the water crisis, the failure of the government at the centre and states, the environment ministry included, have and are playing much bigger role.

MoEF scientist inspects CSTPS over pollution allegations A scientist from environment ministry has visited Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station (CSTPS) here after a complaint was lodged by MoEFCC regional committee member Suresh Chopne, alleging discharge of toxic water from thermal power plant into Irai river last month. The discharge of highly acidic water from CSTPS had taken a big toll on aquatic life in the river and forced authorities to shutdown water supply to parts of the city till the toxicity went down. Scientist Sureshkumar Adapa, accompanied by Chopne and CSTPS officers, inspected the Ranvendli Nullah through which acidic water was drained into the river. He also inspected the reject coal yard, the place where rain water reacts with coal to form acidic runoff, which is released in the nullah. Good to see that MoEF regional office has at least filed this complaint.

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Himachal Acute water scarcity hits Shimla Acute water shortage has hit several localities in the state capital Shimla. People are up in arms against the Shimla Municipal Corporation and the state government for the problem. The residents allege that about a dozen localities are without water for past four days and they have been forced to fetch water from “baolies”(natural perennial water sources) while water was coming in trickles in several areas and at irregular hours without any intimation to residents. The Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) has resorted to supply of water on alternate days but even this system has failed to work and people are facing great hardships. The govt has already handed over the pumping to SMC following the High Court intervention. Now both the pumping and distribution are with the SMC but still the situation has not improved. 

WATER OPTIONS

Rajasthan Experiments with rain water harvesting Bringing hope to Rajasthan’s back-of-the-beyond villages, a new rainwater conservation scheme here is using a path-breaking approach to increase the water tables in the parched lands. Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan (MJSA), a multi stakeholder project, which aims to make the remotest of the villages in the state water sufficient, is gaining popularity with locals who are now using water engineering terms like ‘anicut’ and ‘contour trench’ in their common parlance. Surprisingly the major challenge for the project, which was launched in January this year, was not scarce rainfall but preventing a massive annual wastage of rainwater. Covering 295 blocks in 33 districts with a rainfall above 450mm, all that was required was to ensure that rainfall is trapped, but the plan had an inherent problem rainwater doesn’t know any boundary. Capitalising on Andhra ‘s successful experiment with the ‘Four Water’ concept rain water to surface water to soil moisture and ultimately to ground water the programme, which has been divided into different phases, focused on raising the ground water table. Phase 1 saw construction of nearly 93,000 low cost water harvest structures. These include village ponds, field bundings, anicuts, minor irrigation tanks (MIT), minor percolation tanks (MPT) and minor storage tanks (MST). Impressive as it is for a govt scheme to achieve so much, the fact that a lot of it was done without displacing people or acquiring land is what won the people over. Next on the agenda is a plan to use drones for the 2nd phase of works, targeting over 4,200 villages. Launched simultaneously, a plantation drive exceeded its estimated target of 25 lakh tree saplings. The 2nd phase targets to plant 70 lakh more saplings.

Telangana State shows the way in restoring village tanks Christened as “Mana Ooru-Mana Cheruvu” (Our Village-Our Tank), the project aims at restoring over 46,500 tanks across the state at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore over five years to create a storage capacity of 255 TMC of water. Defunct for decades, several tanks are now brimming with water, bringing smiles on the faces of farmers as the project is expected to boost agricultural production by at least 30 per cent, increase groundwater recharge and drinking water availability and improve the soil quality. Under the first phase, completed in April, over 8,000 tanks have been restored at a cost of Rs 1,600 crore. Another 9,000 tanks were taken up under the second phase during the current financial year. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development  has released Rs 1,000 crore for the programme and has shown its willingness to provide another Rs 1,000 crore. The government is roping in Telangana diaspora to adopt the village tanks and donate for restoration works. So far, Rs 17.09 crore donations have been received. In the 2015-16 budget, Rs.2,083 crore has been earmarked for the project. 

DELHI WATER 

NGT summons Environment Secy over dirty water The Green Tribunal has taken exception to non-submission of status report on quality of water supplied to households in the national Capital by the Delhi Govt despite repeated directions. Noting that not even a single report has been filed till date, the court summoned the Environment Secretary of Delhi government with the report on the next date of hearing Sep 9. The green panel had taken suo motu cognisance of a newspaper report, which had revealed that the “stinking and dirty” water flowing through water supply lines and the borewells were pumping out contaminated water. Later, it had constituted a committee comprising Secretary Environment and representatives from CPCB, Delhi Pollution Control Committee & DJB.

Green court fines DJB for inaction against Metro The Green Tribunal has castigated DJB & slapped a fine on it for not filing its response on a plea alleging that Delhi Metro was extracting groundwater to wash its trains, despite promising to do so in a few days a fortnight ago. The court slammed the counsel for DJB and slapped a fine of Rs. 2000 on the department for making “loose statements” before it. The green court directed DJB to deposit the amount with the NGT Legal Aid Service Committee within two weeks and submit the receipt of payment before it on Sep 8, the next date of hearing.

Govt forms panel to audit STPs, SPSs With an aim to improve the water quality in the national capital, Delhi Water Minister Kapil Mishra Sep 06 announced audit of all sewage treatment plants (STPs) and sewage pumping stations (SPSs) in the city, besides evaluation of drains following into Yamuna. Mishra has formed a four-member expert panel comprising DJB Chief Engineer, Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Personal Secretary to DJBs Chairman, and Manu Bhatnagar from INTACH. The panel has been asked conduct a comprehensive study and submit recommendations within a month, and thereafter the DJB will implement them. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the Water Minister. The DJB has also decided to publish data on all STPs and SPSs online by Sep 13 to make accessible information on the water being treated at these plants. This for the first time any state government has ordered a detailed study of all STPs and SPSs to improve water quality.

AGRICULTURE 

Industry Bayer Monsanto deal: Why Indian farmers should beware Pesticide maker Bayer Crop Science’s take over of Monsanto Corp, which produces crop seeds, is a worrying sign for India’s agriculture sector. The $66 billion deal, which was just announced, will be the largest this year and is expected to close by 2017. The Bayer-Monsanto deal comes on the back of similar deals between other agriculture majors. In December 2015, DuPont and Dow Chemicals merged, while Syngenta was being acquired by ChinaChem. These deals and the Monsanto-Bayer deal will lead to the three groups controlling 65% of global pesticide sales and 61% of global seed sales, according to ETC Group, a Canadian research organisation, which calls the mergers changing “Big six” into the “Titanic Three”. According to ETC, these deals are specifically aimed at developing countries like India, China, Brazil and Argentina, which are the fastest growing markets which already represent 28% of the world pesticide market. Yes, a lot of mergers have been happening in agri business last few months and this will have major impact in India.

Centre CEA panel sows the seeds of a ‘pulses revolution’ With an eye on incentivising pulses production, ending price volatility, and protecting interests of farmers & consumers, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has recommended, among other things, an increase in the minimum support price (MSP) for all pulses, elimination of the export ban and stock limits on pulses, and intensified procurement. In a report, ‘Incentivising Pulses Production Through MSP & Related Policies’, submitted to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the CEA listed a series of measures, some to be implemented immediately and others in the medium term. The report also called for setting up a public-private-partnership institution to compete with and complement the existing institutions to procure, stock and dispose pulses. Subramanian also flagged the need to increase indigenous research in pulses and encourage development of GM technologies. 

ENERGY OPTIONS

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Harvesting solar power could propel growth in farm income According to a recent study by International Council for Research in International Economic Relations, access to solar power can help water crop fields, build cold storages and augment farm incomes by feeding the surplus power generated into the grid. The paper titled Harvesting Solar Power in India further said that while farmers can earn guaranteed tariffs by feeding the surplus power into the gridakin to harvesting a second or a third crop solar-powered irrigation pumps will insure farmers when rains fail and also replace polluting diesel pumps. Indian farmers currently use more than 20 million diesel and electric pumps and replacing these with solar-powered ones can help reduce the annual power subsidy bill of the government to the agriculture sector, the paper said. 

SOUTH ASIA 

Nepal Inundation victims urge PM to resolve issue during India visit Residents of several Tarai villages have urged PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal to raise during his upcoming visit to New Delhi the issue of inundation caused by the structures built by India along its border with Nepal. Complaining that hectares of land in the bordering Nepali territory are inundated each year due to the dams and other infrastructures constructed near the no-man’s land by the Indian authorities, the villagers asked the PM to attach priority to the issue in his meetings in the Indian capital. People from Baidauli, Rangapur and Parsohiya VDCs in Kapilvastu district want Dahal to raise the problems caused by the Mahali Sagar and Bajaha dams with his Indian counterpart. They claimed that about 300 hectares of land on the Nepal side is inundated in the rainy season due to the structures.

REST OF THE WORLD 

Study Strategies to reduce environmental damage from dams New research conducted at Glen Canyon Dam on the U.S. Colorado River offers insights into ways to temper detrimental effects of dams, including a proposed management technique to mitigate the impacts of a common hydropower practice called “hydropeaking” that affects river food webs. Schmidt and Poff recommend proposed dam construction in southeast Asia, South America and Africa be preceded by cautious strategic planning regarding the number of dams, as well as their location, design and how they will be operated. “Although hydroelectricity is renewable energy, hydropower is not necessarily ‘green’ unless dams are located and operated in a carefully considered way,” Schmidt says.

Global ICC widens remit to include environmental destruction cases Environmental destruction and landgrabs could lead to governments and individuals being prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the international criminal court following a decision to expand its remit. Good to see that ICC is extending its mandate to include cases related to environmental destruction and also land grab in any of the 139 countries that have signed the 2002 Rome agreement. 

CLIMATE CHANGE 

Karnataka Climate change measured in coffee rain Coffee planters in the hill district of Kodagu in Karnataka are meticulous in keeping rainfall records in their estates. For some, the data goes back for decades. Their numbers tell the story of changing rainfall patterns, an indicator of climate change. The changing patterns also have an impact on the way they grow coffee, which has an effect on climate resilience in the hills and the plains. Due to the presence of this decentralised network of rainfall measuring stations, it is easier to obtain a nuanced picture of the precipitation trends for Kodagu, earlier known as Coorg, than in other parts of India. The average annual rainfall varies from above 5,000 mm in the western edge of the district to 1,200 mm in the east.  This is excellent  article showing the intricate role played by native tree species in coffee plantations in Cauvery catchment of Krishna Raj Sagar in Kodagu district of Karnataka, including on water capture and recharge, micro climate, carbon cycle and even rainfall and hydrology. Another very good piece about what is happening in Kodagu district in Karnataka, in Cauvery catchment.  Next article Honey with coffee reinforces climate resilience  on the same area is also interesting.

ENVIRONMENT

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Kerala NGT nod for Vizhinjam seaport Giving the green signal to the construction of multi-crore Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd being developed by the Kerala govt in collaboration with the Adani Group, the NGT on Sep 03 maintained that this “is crucial for economic development of the country.” The green panel, which refused to quash the environment clearance granted to the seaport, constituted an expert committee of seven members to look into compliance with the conditions of the environmental and Coastal Regulation Zone clearance granted by the Environment Ministry. It also gave a free hand to the committee to impose additional conditions in the interest of the environment. 

W-Bengal Inland fisherfolk coming together Jangal Mahal in the state is constituted of 23 Blocks of 3 districts Paschim Medinipur, Bankura amd Purulia. Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF) has taken a modest yet very important and long awaited step to stand by the side of thousands of poor small fishers and fish farmers of the region. On Aug 27 62 participants including 58 fishworkers from 4 Blocks joined in a meeting to form Jangal-Mahal Matsyajibi Forum (JMF) in presence of DMF office bearers. The participants resolved to connect with fishing communities of each and every block of the area and form block level committees which, in their turn, would connect with all the important fishing community hubs of the area. To take the work forward a 13 member adhoc committee was formed with two joint conveners.

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 12 Sep 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 05 Sep 2016

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