DRP News Bulletin 26 Sep 2016 (Victory to tribals protest; Jispa HEP calls back staff)

Finally, tribals struggle wins, sends Jispa HEP company packing up Facing stiff opposition from the tribal community against the construction of 300 MW Jispa Dam in Lahaul-Spiti valley has forced the Himachal Pradesh Power Corportaion Ltd (HPPCL) to suspend the project for the time being. The dam which was declared a project of national importance now has residents from 14 villages oppose it. HPPCL has invested Rs 3 crore and has stated that it would begin study work only when locals extend their support.

Since 2009, people from the Todh valley in Lahaul-Spiti district were opposing the Jispa Dam project proposed over Bhaga river, a tributarJy of Chenab at Jispa village. The government had sanctioned Rs 7,000 crore for this project but local residents did not allow officials to work in smoothly for three years now.

Confirming the development, managing director, HPPCL, D K Sharma told that some people were continuously opposing the project without realizing that construction of project could have ushered development in the area. He said constant opposition of local people had resulted into wastage of limited human resource so HPPCL board had decided to withdraw the manpower as project was only at investigation stage.

When initially conceptualized, Jispa Dam project was a 170 MW, run-of- river hydro power project under the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board. But in August 2008, the government declared it a ‘National Water Resource’ project and modified it from a mere hydro electric project to a water storage project with hydro electric generation.

Tribals started opposing the dam claiming that project would not only submerge the five villages-Sumdo, Darcha, Limkyum, Rangyo-Baryo and Shilling-Thanka but would also affect nine villages downstream affecting around 4,000 residents.

Jispa Bandh Sangarsh Samiti, convener, Rigzin Samphel Hayerpa said that HPPCL has wrapped up their office from Jispa around 20-25 days back.  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, he added.   

WORLD RIVERS DAY 2016 !   

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SANDRP Blog Celebrating our Rivers on the World Rivers Day!  As we write this, two states in India with a population of over 100 million are fighting over a river. The fight is getting fiercer by the day. None of the states are interested in the river itself, but only its function that is water. But rivers are not only channels of water. They disproportionately support higher biodiversity compared to other ecosystems. At the same time, freshwater biodiversity is witnessing the fastest collapse as compared to other ecosystems. Linked with freshwater biodiversity are livelihoods of billions of people: fisherfolk, riparian farmers, boatmen, estuarine fishermen. Even marine fisheries, which is witnessing a serious stagnation now, depends on the freshwater and nutrients that rivers bring to the seas. Estuaries of rivers serve nurseries for several marine fish too. We are still the custodians of an amazing legacy. India still holds some of the most beautiful, healthy and life giving rivers in the world. There are people and communities nurturing their rivers and protecting them. All is not lost and this is a battle worth fighting, full of positive energy! A Happy World Rivers Day!  

INTER-LINKING OF RIVERS 

Ken-Betwa river link gets wildlife nod This is shocking & most disturbing that Union Environment Minister Ananth Madhav Dave agrees to destroy Panna Tiger Reserve for completely unjustifiable and destructive Ken Betwa River Link Project, that too in a meeting where the independent experts were absent, and without the publicly endorsed Landscape Management Plan or even basic environmental impact assessment, basic transparency about hydrology, options assessment or even clearance from Tiger Authority. The Environment Minister is not only wrong, but is also not doing what he says, as is clear from his advocacy for Ken Betwa link, totally unjustified and which will destroy the Panna Tiger reserve, Ken River and Bundelkhand. 

Wildlife activist to challenge Ken-Betwa river project in NGT Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey will challenge the clearance given to Ken-Betwa river link project Phase-I by standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife. Any such judicial action need to be done carefully, and not ask for compensatory measures when even impact assessment is not done properly. In fact what has been done cannot even be called impact assessment. Also NGT act does not include wildlife act, so not clear how NGT will deal with challenge to NBWL clearance. Environmentalists such as Himanshu Thakkar have raised one more critical question about the data that has been used to push through the clearance. According to him, the wildlife panel was informed in February that the proposed project would result in the submergence of 5,803 hectares of the reserve and the loss of 10,523 hectares of the Core Tiger Reserve area. However, he pointed out, that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report submitted to the panel that the project said only 4,141 hectares of the tiger reserve would be submerged. If this complaint of the green lobby about the approval system is true, then the full process is not just flawed but illegal as well because the EIA notification says that false and misleading data can lead to scrapping of projects.  

KBL- Transfering water from poor to rich basin Feasibility Report assumes that 1 hectare of irrigated land in the Ken basin needs 5,327 cubic metres of water. While the same area of land in the Betwa basin apparently requires 6,157 cubic metres, why do Betwa farmers need 16% more water is a mystery. These numbers appear to be pulled out of thin air. In fact the rainfall regimes for both river basins are similar. When one floods or faces drought, so does the other. The NDWA also assumes only 57% of Ken basin is arable while the figure for the Betwa basin is 68%. Using these assumptions lower water needs & smaller irrigated area in the Ken basin the agency makes the case for surplus water in the Ken and deficit water in the Betwa. The NDWA also plans to export 3,854 million cubic metres of water from the so-called deficit Betwa basin. If the area has low water, why would the agency siphon off water? This based on Himanshu Thakkar & Bipin Chandra Chaturvedi of SANDRP 2005 report.

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CAUVERY ROW 

SANDRP Blog on ongoing Cauvery Issue Will constitution of CMB help? Higher demands than availability is the key problem in Cauvery basin. Transparent, participatory, democratic, rule based management of demands over supply is the key need. Unfortunately, we do not have that. Greater misfortune is that the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal Award of Feb 2007, even as it is significantly flawed, is yet to be implemented since the Special Leave Petitions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, admitted in the Supreme Court, remain pending for over nine years now. Please help us spread the word, feedback is welcome. Also see,  SANDRP Marathi Blog on the same issue  कावेरी तुझी की माझी? 

 Informative Op-Ed & News Report on Cauvery Row 

A solution to the Cauvery crisis lies in how we perceive our rivers  Himanshu Thakkar from SANDRP has made a number of suggestions about viable solutions. One of the causes of the Cauvery crisis is linked to the way we do agriculture in both states. Thakkar laments that while many committees are set up to look into the matter, what happens in these meetings, how often they meet and what conclusions they reach are never made public. It is this deprivation of information that allows politicians to exploit the situation and stir violence. That’s why Thakkar suggests:

  1. Disincentivizing and discouraging unsustainable cropping patterns.
  1. Incentivizing sustainable cropping patterns using less water.
  1. Making rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge the focus of water resources development/management.
  1. Transparency in water resources management: put all information about rainfall, water flows, storages, levels, releases, water use, etc. promptly in the public domain on a daily basis.

Karnataka left with no other option but Cauvery by Himanshu Thakkar The reality is, through Sep 19 the Cauvery basin has 26% rainfall deficit as per the IMD. Where as Tamil Nadu has 11% rainfall deficit, indicating a higher deficit in the upstream at Karnataka. According to the latest weekly reservoir-level bulletin of Sep 15 the water storages in the 4 main reservoirs in Karnataka is 0.853 BCM (billion cubic meters) compared to 1.451 BCM in the Tamil Nadu reservoirs.  Moreover, though Tamil Nadu does not get much rainfall from the south west monsoon, it receives much better average rain in the following north east monsoon. Karnataka, however, does not benefit from the second monsoon at all. 

No one weeps for the Cauvery by Nityanand Jayaraman Today’s planners try to spare water for ecological flows, not realizing that ecological flows are what keep the river a river. Unfortunately planners do not do even that! It is surprising that after all that hot-blooded South Indians have done to their river, there is still a river left to fight over. So true! Not just of South Indians though, the same disease is prevalent, north, east, west, central ! The possibilities of a de-escalation of conflicts over Cauvery’s water are remote given that two principal stakeholders the River Cauvery and future generations are not represented in all the negotiations in the tribunal and the Supreme Court. What is being referred to as a water-sharing formula is little more than a loot-sharing formula for divvying up the booty. Indeed, the third major stake holders missing is the biodiversity, the fish of the river. The Fourth is the poor people of the river basin. This is amazingly excellent piece on Cauvery. 

Involve farmers to resolve Cauvery crisis In article authors K.J. Joy and S. Janakarajan emphasize the need for “communication, based on sound scientific information, involving farmers as well as other stakeholders” as the only way to resolve the Cauvery dispute. And it was keeping this dialogue in mind that the Madras Institute of Development Studies initiated a multi-stakeholder dialogue (MSD) in 2003 to start communication between farmers from both the states. The Committee of the Cauvery Family, which evolved from MSD, has met 17 times so far in different parts of the basin in both states to get first-hand information on the situation. The authors point out that “though the efforts have not helped in reaching a solution, they have provided valuable lessons on the need for dialogue when other efforts fail”. Also see, Lessons from Cauvery by Mani Shankar Aiyer The only option left is to go back to the SC & request the court to resume proceedings where they were left hanging in April 1997. A judicial order alone can be enforced. 

Cauvery an over-exploited river by Amrith Lal The story of the Cauvery today is the story of an over-exploited river and its overdeveloped basin. Karnataka was a late entrant to the race to channelise the Cauvery’s waters. As the upper riparian state began to insist on its share of water last century, the delta downstream started to complain. The excessive dependence on dam-centric irrigation had already led to the neglect of ponds and eris (tanks) that had nourished the delta. The impact of industrialisation and urbanisation along the river had an even more devastating impact. Tributaries like the Noyyal that flows past the textile city of Tirupur are now toxic streams. 

When source is the cause by Manu Mudgil It’s a medley of forests, grasslands and plantations in Kodagu that keeps the Cauvery flowing but should the farmers and coffee growers let go of an economic opportunity currently offered to them by the tourism and the real estate industry? Good article, but the advocacy for ecosystem payments needs to be much more carefully thought through, not the case currently. Also see, Is Karnataka a water-bankrupt state? by TS Sudhir Karnataka argues that while the Cauvery Supervisory Committee, which went through technical data before asking it to release 3,000 cusecs/day for ten days; on what basis did the top court double the amount while reducing the duration to a week. This question needs to be repeatedly asked as does this article. 

Bengaluru from water rich to a garbage city by Nidheesh MK Bengaluru city has no perennial river flowing within its 100km vicinity to supply water. The early founders and the colonial rulers of Bengaluru plugged this crucial hole through building a strategic network of lakes. There were as many as 19,800 lakes in the erstwhile Mysuru region, of which Bengaluru was also a part of. But after facing a near-drought situation in 1892, Bengaluru started seeking water out of the city, which became quite a popular trend throughout the 20th century, and also saw the beginning of the water supply from Cauvery in 1969. 

Brace for more Cauvery-like water wars by Kumkum Dasgupta As India firefights the Cauvery issue, a similar conflict is brewing over the Mahandi waters between in Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Then there is Andhra & Telangana jousting over the Krishna and Godavari waters & Punjab, Haryana & Delhi over the Sutlej-Yamuna link canal. Add to this is Karnataka & Goa’s fight over the sharing of the Mahadayi river waters. If rivers have become source of conflicts, so have dams. There have been the strong protests against the Sardar Sarovar Project and the Polavaram dam. Similar protests have been seen in Uttarakhand and Arunachal. There is a virtual institutional vacuum in deal with micro watershed, sub-basins and basins in negotiated settlements around water allocation, and for conflict resolution. Though the different water polices have been talking about river basin organisations there is nothing on the ground. Also India needs a low-water economy by Rohini Nilekani One may not agree with everything here, but this last para is important. Also read Need of credible institutions to settle water disputes This EPW Editorial on Cauvery does not get some of the facts right. 

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Cauvery dispute Informative piece on Cauvery disputes in Hindi daily 

Karnataka to seek more time to release Cauvery water The State Govt will on Sep 26 move the SC seeking more time to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. It will ask for a modification of the interim order to be permitted to account water before the end of the season in Jan next & not on Sep 27. State would plead before the SC to apply the principle of “live and let live” to Karnataka to ensure drinking water to people residing in the Cauvery basin, including Bengaluru.  All 4 dams had 27.6 tmcft of water. A quantum of 24.11 tmcft of water was required for drinking water purposes till the end of May 2017. The govt was also planning to a take a delegation to the Centre. Before this, th state govt on Sep 20 state govt deffered to release of 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu & said the SC directive to the set up Cauvery management board gmt board to oversee reservoirs in the river basin within 4 weeks was “uncalled for’’. The CM also met Union Water Minister along with state ministers same day said they had asked the Centre to make a representation to the SC objecting to the directive. The govt has called a special session of the state legislature on Sep 23 to discuss the issue. Both Houses passed a unanimous resolution directing the state govt to use the Cauvery water in the state’s reservoirs only for meeting the drinking water needs of Bengaluru and other areas of the state fed by the river. Meanwhile The Cauvery Supervisory Committee in its 7th meeting on Sep 19 directed Karnataka to release 3000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu from 21st to 30th Sep 2016. The supervisory committee tried to reach to a conclusion but Tamil Nadu and Karnataka did not agree to a particular figure of release of water which was based on scientific facts. Meanwhile, after a late night cabinet meeting on Sep 20, CM Siddaramaiah said it has been decided to defer the release of more Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. The decision came on the heels of an all-party meeting, where the leaders said the SC order to release of 6,000 cusecs of water a day for a week, starting today, was “unimplementable”. On 5 Sep, the SC had directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water per day till 16 Sep. This order was revised on 12 Sep to 12,000 cusecs of water per day till Sep 27. Both verdicts led to widespread protests. This was bound to happen, rationale for the latest SC order, like the earlier ones, is still not clear.

OTHER CAUVERY ISSUES 

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Politicians make Rs 20K crore from illegal mining Sand is now mined at a scale that violates mining norms and ravages rivers and local ecologies. It has also become a violent trade. People opposing it have been thrashed. Many have been killed. In these days, when we are trying to understand why Tamil Nadu is grappling with Karnataka for Cauvery water, the role of rampant sand mining in creating these water shortages cannot be ignored. That said, little here is unique to Tamil Nadu. Large parts of India have seen similar transformations in their local sand markets. For the most part, however, these have remained poorly understood. It is another excellent piece on sand mining dynamics. The Research goes really deep and asks many questions, promising more in follow up. Second part of excellent article highlights how sand mining leads to groundwater collapse and in TN, has impacted even politics. The third part of the article shows how courts, media, politics and even people & civil society have so far failed to stop it.  

Remains of Vinayaka idols add to pollution of Cauvery Despite the Cauvery riverbed remaining bone dry in most of the stretches this year, the district administration failed to make any alternative arrangements & went ahead with immersion of Vinayaka idols in the river. This, ecologists say, has put the river under an immense threat of pollution. According sources, apart from the 175 big idols which were immersed here, residents threw over 1,000 small idols from the bridge into the water below. With no water flow in the river, the remains of these idols have, however, stayed in the riverbed.

DAMS

SANDRP Blog Gosikhurd work incomplete even after a decade It has been 32 years since Gosikhurd project has been languishing incomplete! Till now more than 8000 Cr have been spent on the project with another 10,000 Cr needed. There are no authentic figures available about exactly how much area is presently irrigated through the project. Though VIDC says that it will complete the project in three years, that looks entirely unrealistic. 81 tenders of this project have been cancelled and the retendering process will cause further delay. It is also worth pointing that approval for completion of 23 km of canal is pending for 3 years now. Even if the remaining canal stretches are completed releasing water with full capacity will be difficult. After water was released in 2015 canal breach and leakages were observed at many places. 

Bihar CM strongly pitches for action on Farakka siltation The State Govt on Sep 20 made a strong presentation before a committee constituted by Union Water Resources ministry to show how siltation in Ganga river due to Farakka dam led to rise in water level of the river at several points resulting in flood. CM Nitish Kumar during his meeting with PM Modi had drawn his attention towards siltation triggered by Farakka dam resulting in rise in water level in Ganga and resulting in flood every year.  He demanded decommissioning of Farakka dam due to its bad impact. The officer also made a strong case for formulation of national silt policy. Bihar Govt officials again make a strong case for decommissioning of Farakka barrage and need for a national silt policy, this time before Urban Development Ministry, in presence of Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources among others. 

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NBA PM set to break commitment on Sardar Sarovar dam Activist Medha Patkar on Sep 20 said that PM Narendra Modi seems to be breaking the commitment made by his predecessor Manmohan Singh who had said that there would be no further construction at Sardar Sarovar dam till relief and rehabilitation process is completed. However, Modi has announced in Gujarat to install the gates at Sardar Sarovar project site when the rehabilitation of 45,000 families is yet to be done. Medha said the state govt has claimed that the relief and rehabilitation is completed, but the number of the families, which are yet to be rehabilitated, released by Narmada Control Authority is 2,143. Also see, Nitish Kumar raises voice aganist Sardar Sarovar dam  

Gujarat Kamleshwar Dam inside Gir forest develops minor breach Water started leaking from Kamleshwar dam, a major reservoir inside the famous Gir forest which is the only natural habitat of endangered Asiatic lions, after its releasing head-work developed a minor breach on Sep 23. A team of experts from Gandhinagar has reached the dam site and they are working to plug the leakage. By evening, around 30% of leakage was plugged. Kamleshwar dam leakage comes at a particularly bad time. Rains have not been good in that part of the state this monsoon and the dam was filled only around 30%.

Maharashtra Dam displaced tribals facing starvation It is shocking to know about the pathetic condition of Tribals just 90 kms from Mumbai. Several villages here have been displaced for dams which supply water to Mumbai. About 12 new dams are planned despite that the tribals go without water. 

Tamil Nadu State to desilt Vaigai dam at a cost of Rs. 600 cr The Madras High Court Bench was informed on Sep 22 that the State govt has accepted a DPR submitted by the PWD in collaboration with a central water agency for desilting Vaigai dam in Theni district in 4 stages on an total outlay of Rs.600 crore and that the first stage of the desilting works would begin shortly at a cost of Rs.149 crore.

Himachal Lower dam level not to affect power, water Sources at the Bhakra Beas Management Board said that given the present storage, they would be able to meet the water demand from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan in the coming months despite the reservoir level at Bhakra dam on the Sutlej is still about 30 feet below its top mark,. Pong is filled up to 75% of its capacity compared to 90% last year. Most of the Sutlej’s catchment lies in upper Himalayas and Tibet. Rainfall in Himachal has been deficient by 22%, with important regions like Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur receiving 76% & 55% less rainfall, respectively.

FLOOD 2016 

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National Freaky monsoon leaves many states flooded & many parched In 242 districts out of 629 for which data was available, there was at least one week when the rainfall exceeded 200% of the normal. Experts have described these extreme rainfall events as the invisible hand of climate change revealing its dangerous impact. In UP, drought had hit 50 districts and now floods have swept across 30 of them. Many of these districts, like those in the water scarce Bundelkhand, had hoped to emerge from two successive droughts but became trapped in surging waters. Similarly, many of the flood affected districts of MP, Bihar and Maharashtra were emerging from catastrophic failure of rains last year. In India’s long and complex history of monsoon vagaries, even this has happened before, but in a few districts.Not on this sweeping scale. And here is another weird thing: many of the flood affected districts have actually received `normal’ or `deficient’ rainfall this monsoon, according to latest data available with the metrological department. In UP, out of the 72 districts, 34 have got deficient or scanty rainfall while 31 have normal rainfall, leaving just 7 with excess rain. Yet 30 districts are facing floods. In Maharashtra, 30 of the 36 districts got normal rain while four had deficient rain but six districts face floods. District level rainfall data collected by the met department shows many districts across India have had one or two weeks where rainfall was many times the normal. Some districts have received a whole week’s worth of rain in a single day.

Extent of Damage (cumulative figures) upto  17 September 2016  (Source: NDMI)

States Updated till Population affected

 

Human died Dists Affected Cattle died Crop Areas Affected Financial Loss  
 
Arunachal 16 Sep 40 07 15671  
Assam 16 Sep 3020 36 02 51 2005.60  
Bihar 17 Sep 8632000 252 31 231 390000 52565.40  
Gujarat 25 Aug 12121 61 05 184  
J & K 06 Aug 03  
MP 12 Sep 184 400  
Maha 17 Sep 77082 98 06 951 15441  
Meghalaya 14 Sep 1 1  
Odisha 14 Sep 15100 03 06  
Punjab 08 Sep 20 04 09 462  
Sikkim 12 Sep 02  
UP 14 Sep 2143594 74 30 311 271412.24  
UKD 17 Sep 99 13 815  
Total 10882937 855 112 18614 679320.8 52565.40  

Telangana 16mm rainfall cripple life in Hyderabad Heavy rains in Hyderabad since Sep 20 night have thrown normal life out of gear as water entered low lying areas creating huge traffic blocks at most of the important locations and junctions and forcing people to vacate their houses. According to a senior Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation official, about 4000 cusecs of water has been released from Hussain Sagar lake due to the incessant rains.  Following this Govt has declared emergency in irrigation dept. Irrigation minister T. Harish Rao has cancelled the leaves for its staff directing the officials to report to their duties in view of the threat of breaching of tanks and reservoirs because of that the state govt has decided to release water to downstream areas. Irrigation minister Harish Rao has directed officials to release water to downstream areas. He said the projects have been receiving good inflows from the Krishna and Godavari rivers for the past three days. The minister said that inflows into the Singur project were 67,250 cusecs and outflow 117 cusecs. While the full tank level of Singur is 523.6 metres, the present level has touched to 521.8 metres. The water storage is also 21 tmcft in Singur. The inflows into the Taliperu reservoir in Charla mandal of Bhadrachalam division increased substantially on Sep 23 owing to incessant rain in the upper catchment areas of the river straddling the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border. The sudden surge in water level in the reservoir prompted the staff manning the medium irrigation project to open 7 crest gates to let out surplus water into the Godavari. According to sources, the project officials lifted four crest gates of the dam at 9 pm to release 16,000 cusecs of water downstream.  A flood alert was on Sep 25 issued by the Water Ministry in the districts around Godavari and Krishna basins in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra & Telangana. According to latest news report a total of 17 NDRF teams comprising over 550 personnel have been deployed by the Centre in the flood-affected regions of Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka.

Karnataka Flood threat looms as Krishna swells The water level along Krishna river in northern districts showed an upward trend on Sep 21 following heavydischarge from dams, upstream in Maharashtra, causing flood scare in Karnataka. Officials said over 38,000 cusecs of water was being releasedfrom Rajapur barrage and Koyna dam in Maharashtra into the river course due to heavy rains in the catchment areas. The outflow from Koyna was measured at 53,276 Cusecs. Water released from Dhanegaon barrage in Maharashtra has damaged crops in some villages in Bidar district after irrigation department officials released `unspecified amount’ of water from Dhanegaon reservoir into the Manjra river on Sep 21. This has flooded fields on both sides of the river bank in Bhalki and Basava Kalyan, an official said. Meanwhile 5 days of rainfall in the catchment area of Telangana and parts of Humnabad and Bidar taluks has led to increased inflows into the mid-size reservoir Karanja dam. The dam has around 5 tmcft of water and the inflow has stabilised at the rate of 6,000 cusecs. The dam has just 1 metre left to reach the full reservoir level. Koyna Dam released 53276 cusecs on Sep 21 that is yet to reach Almatti, Almatti is already releasing 56273 cusecs. Other Maharashtra dams are also releasing water. All this collectively could create floods in Krishna basin.

Brahamputra Floods Misunderstood floods of Brahmaputra river The increasingly frequent and intense floods force thousands to migrate from the river, changing human settlement patterns. In the raging debate on illegal immigration, what is often ignored is the role played by human interference, including dam projects upstream, and the changing climate which threaten to amplify the river’s impact.  To understand recurring devastation, perhaps the river needs to be understood in terms of climate change, erosion, floods, and migration patterns & not reported with shock and surprise each year. The frequent floods in the river has turned Majuli the largest river island where it has become difficult for locals to find a permanent address. From 1246 sq km in 1971, it has shrunk to 650 sq km at present. 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. But the floods also make the island a farmers’ delight. The nutrient-rich sediments deposited on the banks of Brahmaputra make Majuli a very fertile place, favourable for agriculture for the 170,000-odd residents. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP says that our understanding of the global climate change model is good, but when it comes to local climate, our efforts are not enough. These are very extensive & informative reports on Brahamputra floods. 

MONSOON 2016

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Natinoal Northesast Monsoon Forecast 2016 IMD forecast for NorthEast monsoon over 5 met subdivisions of south India (Oct-Dec) rainfall is “most likely to be normal” (90-100% of long term average). 

Maharashtra Jayakwadi dam full but Manjara completely dry As a result of good rain, Jayakwadi dam, which is considered the lifeline of many districts in the region by Sep 15 recorded live storage of 63.46% for the first time in 10 years. The live storage percentage on the same day last year was just 4.27. Other major dams including Vishnupuri in Nanded too have reported 99.5% of the live storage capacity. However, Manjra dam, one of the biggest after Jayakwadi has no storage at all, including the dead storage. It has turned completely dry with the recent spells of rainfall too not helping in improving the situation. In a rare occasion, more than 50% dams in Bhima Basin are at 100% storage. Of the 25 major dams in Bhima basin, water stock in about 11, including the Pavana dam supplying water to Pimpri Chinchwad, was recorded at 100% on Sep 19. Of the 4 dams supplying water to Pune, the stock of 3 Khadakwasla, Panshet and Varasgaon have reached the 100% mark. The storage in Temghar has surged to 83%. The collective storage of the 4 dams was recorded at 28.52 TMC (97.83%)  Marathawada dams show much higher storage this season, but there are bone dry dams like Manjra, where there is no water, not even in dead storage. 

Gujarat Dams in North overflowing but dry in South Following the heavy rains, Shetrunji dam of Bhavnagar, the largest reservoir in Saurashtra received fresh inflow of water. Malan dam in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar overflew following very heavy rain in its catchment area. Similarly, water was released from Dhatarvadi-II dam near Rajula in Amreli on Sep 19 to maintain rule level even as level of Dhatarvadi-I also rose. Fresh inflow was recorded in other dams like Bhadhar-II in Rajkot and Khodiyar and Thebi dams in Amreli. In south Gujarat, Ukai dam, has started receiving 64,000 cusecs of rainwater from its catchment areas in Maharashtra forcing the dam authorities to discharge 800 cusecs of water. The water level in the Ukai dam has reached to 335.57 feet while the danger level of the dam is 345 feet. However, Saurashtra region as a whole is still facing around 20 rain deficit. Due to pattern of rainfall this season, major irrigation dams have less storage as compared to past year. The data of the water storage reveals that the water in the 203 dams have nearly 372 million cubic meter water less as compared to 2015. Kutch and Saurashtra region has the lowest storage in the dams. In 2015 also there was a deficit rains and this year too there has been a deficit monsoon so far.

Op-Ed Adequate monsoons cannot end the woes of farmers by Sheetal Sekhri The lack of direct pricing for water, riparian rights that allow anyone owning land to extract limitless sub-surface water, and power subsidies have often been deemed as the main factors that are fueling rapid decline of the water table. However, another important channel that can influence the depletion or over-extraction of groundwater the institutional policy of promoting agriculture export zones (AEZs) has received scant attention. An International Growth Center research project shows that between 2001 and 2006, the water-table fell by 0.5 metres due to these AEZs, but in the overexploited areas such as Punjab and Haryana, the water-table fell by more than 1.6 metres, which is economically a very large decline.

DROUGHT 2016

Karnataka Govt to declare drought A cabinet sub-committee is expected to make an official announcement next week. The state govt normally waits till the Sep end to declare a drought but severe water shortage and deficient rainfall could force the govt to do so earlier. This would make Karnataka the first state to declare drought in India this year. It became the first state to do so even last year. Notably, last year, as many as 10 states declared a drought following Karnataka. The Tungabhadra dam Ballari district has never failed to supply water for kharif crops, even during the 7 non-surplus years. This year however, apprehension is rife that the dam will not be able to supply water, owing to the failure of the monsoon. The plight of farmers is no different in Hassan and Chikkamagaluru districts, which depend on Yagachi river, a tributary of the Hemavathi. For the first time since the construction of the Yagachi dam in 2003-04, the water level has dropped to an all-time low of 1.25 tmcft, excluding the dead storage. The total capacity of the dam is 3.603 tmcft. Even a flash flood will make the situation much better. However, rains are nowhere in sight in these areas. Officials say that while Tamil Nadu wants water from Karnataka to take up cultivation for its second season this year, Karnataka has not done any cultivation due to lack of water. Meanwhile 5 days of rainfall in the catchment area of Telangana and parts of Humnabad and Bidar taluks has led to increased inflows into the mid-size reservoir Karanja dam. The dam has around 5 tmcft of water and the inflow has stabilised at the rate of 6,000 cusecs. The dam has just 1 metre left to reach the full reservoir level. 

Kerala Drought threat looms over state There is shortage of 31.8%rainfall this season till now. The shortage of rainfall in 10 districts is more than 25%. Wayanad, with 59.2 %, is the district that received least rainfall.  Last year, the state received 26% less rainfall than normal during south west monsoon. If the northeast monsson also deceives, the state will face severe water shortage next summer. Wayanad, the hub of coffee cultivation in Kerala and the district that contributes heavily to the cash crop output of the State, is likely to be declared drought hit this year following a seasonal rainfall deficit of 59 per cent during the southwest monsoon as it registered the highest seasonal deficit of 59%, followed by Thrissur with 42%, Malappuram with 38%, and Palakkad with 34%. Ernakulam district has the lowest deficit of 19%. Weathermen are keeping their fingers crossed on the performance of the impending northeast monsoon in Kerala. Meanwhile, the IMD has declared the withdrawal of the southwest monsoon from parts of North India since Sep 15. On the other hand, months ahead of the peak summer season,  Bharathapuzha river has turned into a tricle raising disturbing questions regarding the drinking water and irrigation needs of people living in 175 gram panchayats and a dozen municipalities located in Palakkad, Malappuram and Thrissur districts. The catchment areas of Kerala’s second-largest river received 30% less rainfall, leaving all the reservoirs in the basin less than full. Unlike in the previous years, pumping from the river at Ottappalam, Shoranur, Vaniyamkulam, Ambalapra and Lakkidi remains largely affected owing to shortage in rainfall. Almost all streams that spill into the Malampuzha reservoir started drying up last week.

INTER-STATE WATER DISPUTES 

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Polavaram Row Andhra CM wants to call the canal a RIVER While reviewing the work in progress on Polavaram Project site through “virtual inspection” using drones CM N Chandrababu Naidu on Sep 19 proposed to rename the Polavaram Right Main Canal to a “river”. Minister for Water Resources Umamaheswara Rao, however, said that the he made a suggestion about renaming the Polavaram Right Main Canal and the officials were looking into it. Meanwhile in the first meeting of Apex Council comprising the Union Water Resources Minister and the CMs of Andhra & Telangana the later State’s irrigation special chief secretary Shailendra Kumar Joshi pointed out that the two projects should be permitted to make drought-prone Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar districts prosper.

The Telangana CM also referred to the speeches of PM Modi during the 2014 election campaign promising to complete the Palamuru and Dindi projects. On the other hand, AP irrigation officials argued that Telangana planned to lift 90 tmcft water during flood season from foreshore of Srisailam reservoir by spending Rs 35,200 crore for these projects. They also said Telangana cleared Dindi project to utilize 30 tmcft of Krishna water from Srisailam at an estimated cost of Rs 6,190 crore and called for tenders. Countering Telangana’s argument against Pattiseema, AP demanded 211 tmcft water from Godavari.

AP CM has objected to several irrigation projects on Krishana & Godavari rivers citing violation of Andhra Reorganization Act, while TS CM denying the charges. AP CM has urged the Apex Council formed to resolve Krishna Water dispute with Telangana State, to put on hold the construction of Palamuru Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme and Dindi LI Scheme till they were properly appraised by the Krishna River Management Board and Central Water Commission and sanctioned by the Council as per the provisions of AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. On the Godavari Waters issue, Naidu said Telangana was in the process of diverting 211.145 tmc ft of the same to Krishna basin through various projects and therefore AP was entitled to a share in the same. During the meeting, AP raised objections over the projects saying these were taken up violating the AP Reorganisation Act and sans sanctions from the Council.

Telangana though maintained that the “on-going” projects were taken up by erstwhile AP Govt, which had sanctioned them based on the liberty given by Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal -I and hence, did not violate the law

The Council has decided to form a joint committee to assess availability of water in Krishna basin to help Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal to decide quantum of river water to be shared by the two states. Noting the meeting is taking place in the wake of disputes between Odisha and Chhattisagarh over sharing Mahanadi river water and Cauvery water by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Ms Bharti also pitched for formulating a national policy in consultation with states to deal with water crisis. 

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Mahanadi Row  डॉ. रमन की नसीहत, ओडिशा बेकार जा रहे 57 फीसदी पानी को बचाने पर दे ध्यान  CHHATTISHGARH CM THINKS THAT  WATER CARRIED BY RIVERS TO SEA IS WASTE OF WATER ? Mahanadi Row: Chhattishgarh CM suggests his Odisha counterpart to utilize 57% of Mahanadi waters which according to him is getting waste by flowing down the sea.

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS

Gujarat 5 rivers being explored for Inland Water Transport At least 5 rivers of State including Mahi, Narmada, Sabarmati and Tapi that flow into the Gulf of Khambhat are being explored for Inland Water Transport under the National Waterway Act 2016. DPR for over 1100km of 4 of these rivers is currently being prepared. These DPRs are for 436km on River Tapi (NW-100) from Hathnur dam in Maharashtra to the Gulf of Khambhat, 212km on the Sabarmati (NW-87) from Sadholiya to the Gulf, 227 kms on Narmada (NW-73) from Pandhariya (near Gujarat-Maharashtra border) & 248 kms on Mahi (National Waterway-66) from Kadana dam to the mouth of the river. Meanwhile, feasibility study is in progress for Jawai-Luni rivers (NW-48) that originate in the Aravalli ranges in Rajasthan, but ends in the marshes of Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The length of the waterway about 324km of this river system falls in the Rann of Kutch.

HYDRO POWER 

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Uttarakhand MoEF to allow hydro projects in Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone MoEF has agreed to “consider” the requests of State Govt & permit 10 hydroelectric power projects (HEPs) of a total capacity of 82.3 MW in the area notified as the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) in the Hill State’s Uttarkashi region. According to the Central govt notification of Dec 18, 2012, a 100 kilometre stretch of the river Bhagirathi from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi covering an area of 4,179.59 sqkm was to be declared as eco-sensitive. The notification mentions that HEPs of only upto 2 MW can be built in the notified area. The State govt had sought amendments in the 2012 notification to incorporate in it HEPs of upto 25 MW capacity. However, the ministry has said that cumulative impact assessment study of the Bhagirathi basin must be carried out for it to decide whether the 10 projects were viable. The ministry has also asked the Uttarakhand government to “initiate” a Carrying Capacity Study “for carrying out a Bhagirathi River Basin Cumulative Impact Assessment Study for establishment of HEPs in the Bhagirathi River Basin for taking a decision on whether the 10 HEPs approved prior to the date of the Notification could be commissioned”. 

Arunachal EAC recommends scrapping of hydropower project The expert appraisal committee in Aug 26 meet has recommended dropping of 750Mw Hutong I hydro project over Lohit River because of geological concerns and the possibility that it will obstruct the migratory path of two species of fish. There are a total of seven projects planned over the Lohit with a total capacity of 7,750MW which the basin report studied. The EAC was discussing the Cumulative Impact Assessment & Carrying Capacity Study (CIS & CCS) of the Lohit River Basin which was started on directions of MoEF when it gave environmental clearance to the 2,830MW Demwe Lower & Upper HEP in 2009. The basin study report noted that construction of the hydroelectric projects would lead to conversion of free flowing river into a series of reservoirs. The EAC meeting has in fact approved a lot of projects, but the media has selected only one aspect.

Himachal CITU wants release of striking workers The Centre of Indian Trade Union has lashed out at the State Govt for keeping 94 striking workers of the Shong-Tong hydro project behind the bars for more than a month. The trade union leaders also hailed the High Court’s decision to order the management to release the wages and other benefits to the striking workers. The High Court in an order on Sep 12 had directed the Shong-Tong workers’ union to end their strike with immediate effect and had also directed the managing director of HP Power Corporation, GM of Shong-Tong hydel Project and Patel Engineering Company to release various benefits under the labour laws within three months.  

Odisha Jharkhand hydro proposals threaten Rourkela water supply Jharkhand Govt on Aug 12 has approved RFP to produce 126Mw electricity at 14 places on PPP mode. Of these, 2 projects of 17Mw are proposed on river Koel & 3 projects of 66Mw would come up on river Sankh which will affect irrigation and water supply to local industries in Sundargarh as water holding capacity of the Brahmani river gets reduced from Nov to July in the absence of rain. The Odisha Govt had in June sought information about its proposals on river Brahmani from Jharkhand Govt.

Andhra Govt demands more share in power from 3 hydel projects The AP govt has decided to demand more share in the power generated by Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala hydel projects. It will write to the Central Electricity Authority, the Union water ministry & Krishna River Management Board demanding allocation of 1512 megawatt power generated by the hydel plants. At present, AP gets a share of 910 mw. The AP govt will also demand royalty from the proposed HEP generation unit at Pulichintala. The unit belongs to Telangana. It will argue that Pulichintala reservoir is meant for stabilising the Krishna delta. AP too has the right to build a similar plant on the right bank of the project. Earlier, there was dispute between AP and Telangana on the administrative powers of Nagarjunasagar tail pond project. AP had even stepped up security around the project after Telangana sought the administrative powers. 

NHPC 3 hydro power projects at construction stage According to K M Singh CMD NHPC director statement 3 hydro power projects, including Subansiri Lower, with an aggregate installed capacity of 3130Mw are at the construction stage. NHPC is also envisaging development of 4 HEP namely Kiru, Kwar and Pakal Dul in J&K (2164Mw) and Chamkharchhu-I (770Mw) in Bhutan, respectively, through JV companies. An agreement has been put in place with Teesta Urja Ltd to provide consultancy services for Project Construction Management for 1200Mw Teesta Stage-III hydroelectric project in Sikkim. The company is in active dialogue with Druk Green Power Corporation Ltd, Bhutan, for development of 770 MW HEP in Bhutan.  

IRRIGATION 

Gujarat SAUNI Yojana: Saurashtra is no longer bone dry The SAUNI project is ambitious but a few questions are also being raised about its efficacy. The power consuming turbine pumps at Machhu dam alone will add an extra burden of Rs 8 crore per month as electricity charge to the state exchequer. This works out to the tune of ’96 crore per annum. At the end of the project, many more pumps will be installed to lift water from 115 dams on the network. The cost involved in power usage is going to be mind-boggling. How will the state fund such an expensive project? Will it pass the burden to the taxpayers or the users? Apparently, the state is yet to work this out.  Rather uncritical report, accept the last question about power needs.

RIVERS 

Haryana & Punjab Untreated sewage in polluting Ghaggar Untreated sewage is still being discharged into Ghaggar River and its tributaries in Punjab & Himachal, reveals affidavits submitted by both the states to the NGT.  Hearing the case on Sep 14, the NGT has given last opportunity to both Haryana and the Chandigarh administration to file status report on pollution in Ghaggar within 2 weeks. The matter is listed for hearing on Oct 20. The hill state of Himachal, from where the river originates, however, claimed that its contribution of pollutants in the water body was lesser as compared to other states. Ghaggar story same as hundreds of other Indian Rivers suffering from loads of pollution on a daily basis. As usual State Govts proposing building of STPs & CETPs as silver bullet remedy to resolve the pollution problem. Countless experiences from Ganga, Yamuna rivers discourage to buy such argument. STPs, ETPs have miserably failed in yielding proposed outcome. It’s time to bring paradigm shift in existing treatment methods. Nature based indigenous techniques can be developed.   

GANGA Centre Govt approves the River Ganga Authorities Order, 2016 Approved on Sep 21 the order lays down a new institutional structure for policy and implementation in fast track manner and empowers National Mission for Clean Ganga to discharge its functions in an independent and accountable manner. It has been decided to grant a Mission status to the Authority with corresponding powers under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to take cognizance of the provision of the said Act and follow up thereon. Similarly, there is adequate delegation of financial and administrative powers which will distinctly establish NMCG as both responsibility and accountability centre and effectively accelerate the process of project implementation for Ganga Rejuvenation. Similarly Union water resources ministry on Sep 15 has signed a MoU with the agriculture ministry to promote rganic farming in all the 1,657 villages along the river Ganga, starting from Uttarakhand to West Bengal.  Not clear how far this will go, the committee has no independent members, only govt officials, it seems from this report. Also how will this be coordinated in view of the govt’s green revolution and chemical agriculture agenda? The water ministry has also has released an amount of Rs. 315 crore to Water & Sanitation Ministry for the implementation of Ganga action plan under Swachh Bharat Mission during the current financial year. The amount wil be used for construction of toilets along the river Ganga. The ministry had released Rs. 263 crore for this purpose during the last financial year. So far, 14,500 toilets have been constructed under this scheme. On the other hand, according to a detailed report covering various aspects of contamination in the river, the CPCB has informed the NGT that the Ganga, spanning a distance of 543 km between Haridwar and Kanpur, was affected by 1072 seriously polluting industries which are releasing heavy metals & pesticides. The report says that present, 823.1 MLD of untreated sewage & 212.42MLD of industrial effluent flows into the river while 3 of the 4 monitored STP were non-compliant with the set standards.  However, scientists from the Institute of Microbial Technology (Imtech), Chandigarh, have for the first time come forward with scientific evidence that the water of Ganga does not putrefy easily. They have identified new viruses, or bacteriophages, which mimic bacteria in the river’s sediment and eat them up. The team collected samples from the highly polluted Haridwar-Varanasi stretch. Also part of the project were National Environment Engineering Research Institute co-ordinating lab, National Botanical Research Institute, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research and Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants.

W-Bengal The Ganga has practically disappeared Adi Ganga, the nearly 75 km long original channel of national river Ganga, has been hijacked at several places. Three centuries back, this was the main outflow of the Ganga to the Bay of Bengal. Today it is a sewer buried under garbage and the Metro rail network, encroached upon, converted into personal ponds and homes.  The destruction of the Ganga has been most rapid in the last three decades, the period when nearly Rs 200 crore has been pumped into its restoration. Not to mention that another project worth Rs 600 crore is in the anvil – with the World Bank talking about funding Kolkata Municipal Corporation for “pollution abatement of the Adi Ganga”under the National Ganga River Basin project. This project, though, is behind schedule even before it has started.

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YAMUA Delhi DDA razes farmlands to free floodplains DDA on Sep 21 freed the Yamuna Khadar at Nangli Rajapur village adjacent to Sarai Kale Khan of encroachments by farmers, who were growing vegetables and flowers, as part of a demolition drive being conducted for the past three days. DDA officials said they plan to free 4,806 acres of such land within the next few days. While the farmers, whose crop was destroyed, said their livelihood and shelter are both lost now, the authority said the land belongs to DDA and the demolition was being done on an NGT order.

Continuing with its anti-encroachment drive, the DDA razed crops and kuchcha houses of farmers in Bela area of Yamuna Bank on Sep 23-24. DDA officials said that they were making the banks “encroachment free” for future projects. The land could be used for a biodiversity park project soon. Meanwhile farmers were left guarding their belongings as their homes were completely demolished. In the absence of any assurance of an alternative livelihood option, farmers were waiting for the NGT to hear their plea on allowing agriculture on the Yamuna banks. Meanwhile, the demolition drive is also affecting the children, who have their exams on. With DDA planning to clear nearly 4,800 acres of Yamuna Bank land, nearly 10,000 farmers were likely to be hit by the eviction drive. Manoj Misra of YJA however, said the order says that farming should be stopped only if it harms the environment. He further said that using the NGT’s directive to evict farmers is wrong. He added that if the farmer leased the land from the government then it can acquire it, but not under the shield of the NGT order.

UP Govt assigns IIT-R for environmental study The state govt has given the task of assessing the environmental impact of its flagship project of expansion & beautification of the Yamuna river front in Mathura and Vrindavan to the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. The institute will start by carrying out the impact assessment study of Keshi Ghat at Vrindavan according to professor Kamal Jain of the civil engineering department of the institute, who is the principal investigator of the study. In June, CM has approved Rs 177.81 crore for the expansion and beautification project concerning the Yamuna river front in Mathura and Vrindavan.

NGT seeks reports on constructions near Yamuna in Agra The tribunal has sought the report on all these constructions from the Mukersh Gupta the local commissioner before Sep 27, the next date of hearing in the case. The commissioner earlier visited Agra on Aug 12 and conducted a spot inspection to find out the correct position of flood plains. In the subsequent report, he had highlighted major discrepancies in the Yamuna flood plain zone and in the city’s sewage treatment system. He, however, had given a clean chit to few projects. The petitioner, DK Joshi, was not satisfied with the clean chit and filed his reply, stating that the clean chit given to few projects should be reconsidered. On Sep 15, NGT once again directed the Gupta to visit Agra and conduct survey of projects on which Joshi had raised objection is his plea.

Activists demand release of water in dying Yamuna On Occasion of World Rivers Day several activists in Agra demanded release of water in Yamuna which was dying a “slow death”. Held at the Etmauddaula View Point Park on the Yamuna bank, tourism-industry members threatened to go on indefinite hunger strike from Nov 1, if water was not released in the river. They said a dry Yamuna was a serious threat to the Taj Mahal whose foundations required constant moisture. Activists said the free flow of the river has been obstructed by a series of barrages upstream that hold up all the water.

Op-ED Taxis on the Yamuna a good idea fraught with risks The question is how far he plying of water taxis disgorging oil and related pollutants into the water will enable the water quality to remain acceptable. Perhaps the most disturbing element of the project is the proposal to dredge the river regularly to keep the water taxi service in operation. One intention of the dredging operation is to recycle th dredged material for the construction industry. Scientists have pointed out that the top layers along this stretch of the Yamuna basin are mostly sewage and organic matter, unsuitable for construction proposes. The sand that realtors need for their housing projects requires the dredging to be deeper and it is this that could weaken the banks and destabilise the entire river system in a zone that regularly sees high seismic activity. Given the political power of the sand mafia in the NCR, the temptation to circumvent environmental safety remains a distinct possibility. It is one thing to emulate the enviable water traport systems of Germany and Austria as this project seeks to dao, but to do sao within an ecology that is distinctly different is fraught with environmental risks that demand extra caution on the govt’s part. Also see, NGT notice to Centre, Delhi on Yamuna taxi project

SAND MINING

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Himachal Officers to identify illegal mining routes According to Director, Industries, Amit Kashyap the decision was taken while chalking out action plan to be implemented in compliance with previous directions issued by the court and the state to effectively curb illegal mining activities. He also said that after identifying such routes by the officers, these should be reported to the DCs so that these illegal routes could be dismantled immediately. He also directed them to identify mineral potential areas. Besides, directing the mining officers to submit proposal auctions in a time-bound manner, he also instructed them to ensure raids frequently.

UP 5 cops injured in attack by sand mafia On Sep 20 morning 5 policemen, including two sub-inspectors, suffered injuries after they were attacked by the sand mining mafia near Gandrau village along Yamuna bank in Shamli. More than 200 people attacked the police team when they had gone to the spot on the Yamuna bank where illegal sand mining was taking place. The attackers also took away the vehicles which police had taken possession. Police have booked 15 named and 200 unidentified accused after the incident. 

मध्यप्रदेश अब कैमरे की निगरानी में हाेगा रेत खनन, वाहनों में जीपीएस जरूरी नदी के किनारे पांच हेक्टेयर से ज्यादा एरिया में होने वाले रेत खनन पर अब सीसीटीवी कैमरा से नजर रखी जाएगी। रेत के ट्रांसपोर्टेशन में उपयोग किए जा रहे वाहनों में जीपीएस ट्रेकिंग सिस्टम लगाने के साथ ही उनके ट्रांंसपोर्ट परमिट सिक्यूरिटी फीचर्स से लैस होंगे। मॉनीटरिंग के लिए इंडियन बैंक एसोसिएशन द्वारा मान्य मैग्नेटिक इंक कैरेक्टर रिकॅगनीशन (एमआईसीआर) कोड पेपर पर प्रिंट होना जरूरी हाेगा। यह सारी सख्ती नदियों के किनारे होने वाले अवैध रेत खनन को राेकने के लिए की जा रही है। पर्यावरण एवं वन मंत्रालय भारत सरकार ने इसके लिए सस्टेनेबल सैंड माइनिंग मैनेजमेंट गाइडलाइन 2016 जारी की है। हाल ही में मंत्रालय ने यह गाइडलाइन एनजीटी की भोपाल स्थित सेंट्रल जोन बेंच को सौंपी है। एनजीटी ने इस गाइडलाइन की अनुशंसाओं पर उठाए जा रहे कदम की जानकारी राज्य सरकार से तलब की है। 

Haryana Pollution board serves closure notice on 111 stone crushers The State Pollution Control Board on Sep 21 issued notices to 111 stone crushers, 38 screening plants and seven mining units directing them to shut down their operation. Sources said the regional officer of the HSPCB, Yamunanagar, had issued the notices after the chairman of the HSPCB, Panchkula, issued an order on Sep 20, stating that the NGT had permitted to the lessee to commence their mining operation, crushing and screening for three months starting June 1. The order further said the 3 months period had come to an end on Aug 31 and no relief and extension of further period had been accorded by the NGT so far. 

Goa At least 400 permit holders to mine sand Close to 400 permit holders are likely to be involved in extraction of sand when the new sand mining season reopens in Goa on Oct 1 2016. 360 permits have been issued till date and the process of granting more permits is currently underway. The DMG office has also started accepting royalty from licensed sand mining operators ahead of the new season for 2016-17 opening on Sep 30. The forthcoming season will have licensed sand mining taking place after a gap of nearly 5 years. Permit holders are expected to be adhering to the regulatory guidelines issued in March 2016.

Maharashtra NMMC chief condoned flouting of rules mining auction Accusing senior bureaucrats of ignoring irregularities in auction of land for sand mining in Solapur district, activist Praful Kadam Sep 25 alleged that former Solapur Collector Tukaram Mundhe, now the Navi Mumbai municipal commissioner, may have condoned serious violations of norms, and his role should be probed. Mundhe was posted in Solapur during the auction of 19 plots for mining of sand. Kadam said the auction was conducted in Dec 2015 even though Vatambare village’s gram sabha had opposed it. He said there was violation of environmental norms, state government policies on sand mining and flouting of general rules in the auction of these 19 plots.

Gujarat Villagers complain of illegal mining in Moti Danti Residents of Moti Danti village in Navsari district have upped ante against local sand mafia, who have been illegally mining sand from the sea shore. On Tuesday, residents of Modi Danti lodged a formal complaint with the police against unknown persons for illegally mining from the village shore. Navsari collector Ravi Arora said that he will have to inquire about the allegation made by residents of Moti Danti village.

National The open secret of a multi-million crore scam Indiscriminate extraction of sand from floodplains or river banks destroys the flora and fauna and decreases fertility of the land. Similarly, dredging riverbeds or in stream mining kicks-up loose sediment particles into the water body thereby polluting it and damaging the health of aquatic life. Additionally, the course of the river is altered and so is its speed. Without enough sand in the river bed to act as a buffer, the river’s velocity increases leading to erosion of adjoining banks and downstream flooding. Infrastructure like bridges and embankments become vulnerable to damage due to such dredging. Local residents too suffer from contaminated water supply and decreased groundwater levels. An unhealthy partnership between politicians, the police and miners is driving the pandemic crime.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

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UP NGT notice to Centre, State on encroachments in Arthala lake Rampant dumping of waste and encroachments on Arthala Lake located close to Hindon River in Ghaziabad on Thursday came under the lens of the National Green Tribunal on Thursday which sought response from the Centre and the U.P. govt on the issue. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the MoEF & UP State Govt, Ghaziabad Development Authority and others while seeking their reply by October 25. The order came while hearing a plea by NGO SPEnBIO seeking removal of all illegal constructions and encroachments on Arthala Lake in Ghaziabad and restoration of the lake to its natural form. 

Kerala Urbanisation sounds death knell for wetlands Now, a study on kole lands in Thrissur and Malappuram conducted by the Kerala Agriculture University (KAU) has found that the wetlands have borne the brunt of the rapid urbanisation in Kerala. According to it, when wetlands are converted into built-up area and mixed crop land, the environmental fallout is huge. When wetlands are converted, it leads to a decrease in groundwater recharge resulting in the wells of nearby households turning dry as soon as summer sets in. Consequently, the economic burden on these households increases since the water scarcity forces them to buy water from outside, besides deepening the wells, said the study which focused on the households located within a 1,500m radius of the kole ecosystem. Besides, the study found that the total welfare loss due to kole land conversion was put at an estimated Rs 128 crore annually. Also see, Kadinamkulam Lake cries out for conservation

Karnataka The untapped leisure potential of Bengaluru lakes With careful management, lakes can be converted into recreational centres, with boating activities, walkways and benches for visitors. Lakes sustain crucial ecological biodiversity and provide an important recreational space for residents of an increasingly concretised city. But barring a few exceptions, a large number of lakes in the city do not have such amenities. Tanks were once critical for fishing communities. Experts want holistic development of lakes and not just concrete walkways and fences. This should be complemented with planting native tree species as well as creation of islands.

GROUND WATER

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Haryana Leachate threat to Gurgaon groundwater The worst fears of green activists about contamination of groundwater due to flow of leachate from the defunct Bandhwari waste treatment plant seem to be slowly turning into a reality. The State Pollution Control Board on Sep 16 revealed that the water sample collected on Aug 24 from a pond near the Bandhwari waste treatment plant last month was found to be contaminated. According to the test report, the water was dark brown and emitted a foul smell. The report also revealed the presence of chlorides, copper and lead in the water, making it highly toxic if not treated properly. Sample collected by scientist Rekha Singh from the plant in Nov 2015 also showed heavy contamination of water. Meanwhile, the municipal corporation of Gurgaon is pumping out contaminated water from the area and will be filing a ground reality report with the NGT on Sep 28 as directed by the tribunal on Aug 24. The information was revealed after a petition filed before the NGT last year. The next hearing in this case will be on Oct 5. On the other hand, according to State Agriculture Minister in paddy growing areas groundwater is dropping by 21cm every year, resulting in the increase of dark zones. In many areas, the groundwater level has dropped by 8 metres in the last 5 years. He also informed the that the groundwater level was adequate in only 20 blocks in the State, and excessive exploitation of groundwater was being done in 71 blocks. While there was a requirement for one crore feet of water for irrigation, only 60 lakh feet of water was available in the State. Therefore, the groundwater level has been dropping due to the gap of 40 lakh feet in requirement and availability of water.

UP All hand pumps along Hindon river to be checked for polluted water Days after the NGT slammed the State Pollution Control Board & UP Jal Nigam for not providing potable drinking water to the farmers of 6 districts of western UP, Meerut divisional commissioner Alok Sinha on Sep 23 ordered that hand pumps in 3 districts along the Hindon river be checked for polluted groundwater. Officials in Meerut, Baghpat and Ghaziabad districts were instructed to prepare a report based on their findings and send it to the state govt. Very slow progress in addressing ground water pollution related issues in & around Hindon river. Administration has so far failed in providing safe potable water to affected villagers.

छत्तीसगढ़  सरकार पीने के पानी की तीन स्तरों पर करे जांच: हाईकोर्ट   राजधानी रायपुर में पीलिया से हुई मौतों को लेकर हाईकोर्ट में जनहित याचिका लगाई गई थी, इसमें घरों में गंदे पानी की सप्लाई और नालियों की साफ-सफाई नहीं होने का मामला उठाया गया था। हाईकोर्ट ने दायरा बढ़ाते हुए प्रदेश के सभी नगर निगम और नगर पालिका क्षेत्र में पीने के पानी की तीन स्तरों पर जांच करवाने का आदेश दिया है। पीने के पानी का घरेलू स्त्रोत खत्म होने के बाद आम नागरिक अब सरकारी पानी टंकियों, बोर वेल्स पर आश्रित हो गया है। पानी टंकियों में जहां महीनों तक साफ-सफाई नहीं होने की वजह से गंदगी काई जमा हो जाती है। वहीं, ज्यादातर पाइप लाइन के नालियों गंदगी के बीच से गुजरने के कारण आम तौर पर लोगों के घरों तक गंदा और प्रदूषित पानी ही पहुंचता है। व्यक्तिगत स्तर पर साफ पानी की व्यवस्था नहीं करने पर लोगों के गंभीर रूप से बीमार होने की आशंका बनी रहती है।

WATER 

Maharashtra Feasibility report for water grid ready Taking a cue from the Gujarat pattern of common water grid, govt would follow Gujarat Grid model for providing water to Marathwada region. According sources the primary feasibility report of the ambitious project is ready & the DPR for the Rs15000 crore project would be ready in next 3 months. Under the project which is based on Gujarat grid model, various water supply schemes run by Govt & Civic Agencies would be clubbed to supply water to all the 8 districts of Marathwada through one separate grid of the region. States like Andhra, Telangana, MP are also reported following the Gujarat grid model and eventually other states would also would have to follow the same. 

WATER OPTIONS

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MP 4000 होटलाें रेस्टोरेंट्स में पानी बचाने की बड़ी पहल  

AGRICULTURE 

Op-Ed Removing anti-farm bias The farm sector does not have a focused lobbying voice. Perhaps this is because the sector is too large and fragmented, and now exposed to globalization. Perhaps there are conflicting interests within the sector, and perhaps politics gets in the way. Be that as it may, it is important to recognize that our policies need to remove their inherent anti-farm bias. By contrast, the farm sector routinely suffers from minimum export price to discourage exports. In fact, exports of agricultural products are often banned periodically. India, with its vast continental size, will have to forge a new path in achieving the rural-urban, industry-agriculture balance, unlike the trajectories followed by Western nations. Removing the anti-farm bias in our policies is a crucial prerequisite for this strategy. 

SOUTH ASIA 

Indo-Bangladesh Forget fish ladders, demolish the Farakka barrage Farakka went horribly wrong. It didn’t divert enough water to unclog Calcutta Port; it choked water supply to Bangladesh; worst, east Asia’s most prized fish, the ilish, perishes because of the barrage.  Farakka destroyed the Gangetic river ecosystem. It blocked ilish’s upstream run, reducing its chance to grow and depriving folks in Bihar, UP and Delhi of fresh hilsa. In 2014, five scientists from India and Bangladesh collaborated on a paper for the Swiss IUCN. They say around 2.5 million people of Bangladesh depend on the ilish or hilsa fish for their livelihood; around 3 lakh directly harvest the fish. In Aug, water minister Uma Bharti said the govt was planning to put up fish ladders, water pools ascending the dam, to help hilsa climb the Farakka barrage. She’s certainly smoking something other than smoked hilsa.  It is simpler to demolish Farakka, symbol of failed dogma, stupid planning and ruinous environmental and piscine cost. Forget fish ladders, demolish the Farakka barrage.

Teesta water dispute: Geopolitics, myth & economics by Maya Mirchandani Water remains singularly the most sensitive issue for Bangladesh. Without a doubt, water issues with Bangladesh have to be dealt with in the overall context of politics and security. Dhaka’s action against Indian insurgents taking shelter in Bangladesh, its readiness to partner on infrastructure development bilaterally and regionally, and the overall geo-strategic partnership with Delhi serves to underline a permanent interdependency between the two nations on several fronts; and the reluctance to work out a lasting compromise must be overcome.  

Indo-Pak Pakistan wages a water war on India Indeed, while railing against India’s run-of-river projects, Pakistan has invited China to build mega-dams in the Pakistani-occupied part of J&K, itself troubled by discontent, including against the growing Chinese footprint there, especially in Gilgit-Baltistan. International law recognises that a party may withdraw from a treaty in the event of fundamentally changed circumstances. Pakistan’s continuing use of state-reared terrorist groups against India constitutes reasonable grounds for the injured party to unilaterally withdraw from the IWT. Sustained sponsorship of cross-border terrorism over many years has created fundamentally changed circumstances that undermine the essential basis of India’s original consent to the IWT, while significantly altering the balance of obligations. 

Indo-Nepal Joint statement on major hydro projects The two PMs reviewed progress of other major hydro-power projects, Pancheshwar, Upper Karnali and Arun-III, and noted that various issues be addressed expeditiously with a view to implementing the projects in a time-bound manner so that their benefits start accruing to the people at the earliest. It was decided to expedite finalization of the Detailed Project Report of the Pancheshwar multi-purpose project. It was agreed that both sides will continue to take measures to operationalize the Power Trade Agreement signed in 2014. Both sides agreed to discuss all water resources cooperation related matters such as inundation and flood management, irrigation matters and other major projects, at the next meeting of the Joint Committee on Water Resources at the Secretary level, to be convened at an early date. 

CHINA 

Dams China’s water as weapon against India With China having 87,000 dams, many in Tibet, with strategic benefit against India, experts on Sep 23 urged the “down stream” Asian nations to unite and force Beijing to sign a trans-border water sharing treaty to counter its massive damming policies. Tibet is source to 10 major Asian rivers upon which 25% of the world population depends. Seaking at an international seminar “Damming crisis in Tibet: Threat to water security in Asia” Prof Milap Chandra Sharma, a glaciologist said that beside having environmental issues those dams in Tibet can be disastrous for us. They can unleash their fury during earthquake, accidents or by intentional destruction can easily be used against India during war.  He further added that this is the “right time for India to raise the Tibet issue internationally”.

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China consumes five times more bottled water than India Bottled water is among the fastest growing packaged beverages across the globe, possibly linked to the belief that it is better than beverages with artificial sweeteners and energy drinks in avoiding obesity and other health risks. In terms of overall market, India is the world’s tenth largest, though it has a much lower per capita consumption than in western countries.

REST OF THE WORLD 

UN River pollution puts 323m at risk from life-threatening diseases Waste water, pesticide run-off and pollution threatens people across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Regulation, data and business action are needed. With water sources dwindling Unesco predicts a 40% shortfall in supplies by 2030 the global population spiralling towards 9 billion and water demand projected to increase exponentially, water management is becoming a vital issue for the 21st century. Novel nature-based solutions that are cheaper and more effective than hi-tech approaches are gaining interest. Tackling waste water discharges at source is seen as a crucial first step, to avoid the devastating environmental damage that spillages can cause and the sky-rocketing costs of clean-up operations. Also see, The world’s threatened rivers From Bangalore’s water riots to Russia’s “river of blood”, rivers are under threat from many sources including industry, agriculture and climate change.  Pictures of 10 world threatened rivers include 10 Indian rivers Cauvery & Yamuna. 

Australia Was biggest Forbes flood avoidable? Hydrologist will be deployed to investigate whether the biggest flood in Forbes’ history could have been avoided. Dam operators ignored the rising levels and did not start releasing water until Aug 2. The heavy rains continued and now the dam operators are forced to let every drop flow into the Lachlan River which flows into Forbes. The Daily Telegraph understands the dam operators were hesitant to drain the dam and risk having no water for the start of the irrigation season in October. Flood experts would investigate why the water was not released earlier when the water recedes.

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US Rivers overflowing with microplastic pollution Researchers studying America’s waterways have now discovered microbeads may be the tip of the iceberg for plastic pollution. A study published in Environmental Science & Technology on Sept. 14 found rivers and streams in the US are full of microplastic debris. Scientists studied 29 tributaries that flow into the Great Lakes across six states and floating microplastics were found in all 107 samples collected. The human and ecological health implications of microplastics are still poorly understood, but scientists see a “plasticized” food chain as cause for concern. Yet removing microplastics from the water is virtually impossible. A UN survey in 2015 (pdf) also identified microplastics as one of world’s most emerging environmental problems and a potential public health danger.

Global Sugar industry ‘paid’ scientists to downplay heart disease risk New research on factors that have influenced the nutrition debate through the decades claims that the sugar industry paid scientists to downplay the link between added sugars and heart disease, and blame saturated fats instead. Published in the latest edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, the American Medical Association’s journal, the research examined internal documents of US-based trade group Sugar Research Foundation and discovered that it sponsored studies which downplayed evidence that sucrose consumption was also a risk factor for coronary heart disease.  

CLIMATE CHANGE 

Op-Ed An overlapping climate by Sujatha Byravan The disaggregated impacts of future climate change in peninsular India are extremely difficult to predict because of monsoon variability. Regional climate models and approaches to downscale global predictions have been inadequate and only show the general likelihood of more intense rainfall in shorter periods in fairly vast areas, with drought elsewhere due to decrease or variability in precipitation. Overall, these changes will increase the vulnerability of local populations to flash floods, soil erosion, long-term freshwater shortages and declining agricultural yields. Beyond that, it is difficult to tell from current models whether a particular region will be drought-prone or have excess precipitation. In the absence of such detailed information, climate adaptation in India will need to first focus on sustainable development, in order to build climate resilience. 

ENVIRONMENT

Manipur Community for action A wise man once said that society is defined not only by what it creates, but also by what it refuses to destroy. This is what makes the efforts of a tiny Imphal-based NGO, Forum for Indigenous Perspectives and Action, or FIPA, to safeguard the ecology and biodiversity of the Northeast, so significant. In a region that has been so ridden with strife, a concern for the environment would have taken a back seat had it not been for its advocacy and efforts to change people’s consumption and waste disposal patterns. At present, FIPA is monitoring the development of the eco-sensitive zone of Loktak Lake. Self funded & volunteer driven FIPA is also been critically examining the construction of dams in Northeast.

National SC stays NGT order on Railways projects  The SC on Sep 05 stayed a NGT order of May 31, 2016, requiring Metro Rail services to take mandatory and prior environment clearances for all its projects. The bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur while issuing notice to various ministries, including MoEF, prima facie agreed with the submission of Delhi Metro that the tribunal’s order was erroneous and if they were forced to seek clearances from MoEF, their projects will get delayed. AG Mukul Rohatgi termed the imposition of a condition of prior clearance on Metro projects in the cities and the dedicated freight corridors as “ridiculous.” The environment ministry had told NGT that railway and Metro Rail projects were not within the purview of the 2006 EIA Notification and therefore prior EC was not required. According to Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan when EIA notification was developed, new kinds of projects like metros and their impact on environment was not visualized. So now when NGT is actually trying to bring such projects under EIA notification in line with current scenario, it is most welcome & people who are involved in the petition should be able to inform the SC of the correctness of the NGT judgment.

Centre Ministers broke all rules for Mormugao Port project Facts emerging from a NGT case have shown that in a series of decisions taken between 2014 and 2016, Union  Minister Nitin Gadkari & then Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar “subverted” environmental laws, “misrepresented” facts and overruled opposition from traditional fishermen communities to push through a project at the Mormugao Port in Goa. The project to deepen the navigational channel ships use to reach the port – would directly benefit Adani Ports and the OP Jindal Group, which operate one and two cargo handling berths at the port, respectively. All this raises disturbing truths about environmental governance in the country, especially under the NDA govt.

You may like to see DRP News Bulletin 19 Sep 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 12 Sep 2016 

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