DRP News Bulletin 17 Oct 2016 (IMD’s River Basin Rainfall Maps Useful But Needs Improvement)

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SANDRP Blog IMD’s River Basin Rainfall Maps Useful But Needs Improvement We have noticed during just concluded South West monsoon season that IMD has started a new and welcome feature in rainfall data reporting. The Data is available in maps, on daily, weekly and seasonal basis. We are not sure when this practice started, we noticed it only during 2016 monsoon season. This is most welcome development, since getting rainfall data at basin level is most appropriate and useful, since basin is the hydrological unit that will experience the impact of rainfall or lack of rainfall in the basin, in form of floods or droughts. There a number of limitations as of now. We hope IMD will take necessary steps to remove these limitations and improve the availability and access of basin wise rainfall maps and data in coming years.

FLOOD 2016

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SANDRP Blog Bhutan’s Kurichu Dam releases floods Assam, again  Several media reports have alleged that sudden water releases from Kurichu Dam in Bhutan has led to floods in Beki and Manas rivers in Assam on Oct 13, 2016, affecting thousands of people in Barpeta district & also reportedly Baksa district. This is not the first time that Kurichu water releases have led to this kind of situation, it has happened in the past including in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 (150 villages affected), among other instances. The Indo Bhutan joint mechanism, established in 2004-05, following the July 2004 floods, has clearly failed to effectively address this issue. Also read, Surprise water release from Bhutan dam floods 2 Assam districts

DAMS 

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SANDRP Blog Open Letter to Govt: Is there any justification for Polavaram dam? The Cost estimates of the dam do not reveal the whole story which is unfolding. The Right and Left Bank canals have already caved in at places and they need to be re-excavated at double the cost. The downstream distributry systems have not yet been taken up. The State is meddling with the height of the coffer dam which is a part of Polavaram and the contractors all around are being paid in excess of the approved rates. If there is a major scam breaking out in this, the Central govt will surely take a portion of the blame. The Govt mus act urgently and in a preemptive manner before loosing control over the happenings in Polavaram? This is an open letter from former secretary to Govt of India, Sri EAS Sarma to Govt of India on Polavaram Dam Project. 

Himachal Centre releases Rs447cr for Renuka Dam The rest of amount will be released after the Niti Aayog gives its clearance to the project. The state had demanded Rs 1981.35cr as an immediate assistance to expedite the land acquisition process. The cost of project has already shot up from Rs 3572 cr in 1994 to Rs 6000 cr in 2016. This is shocking development. It is possibly happening after SC made an unjustified order. Particularly when Delhi government has publicly said it does not need Renuka water and the dam is basically for Delhi. Delhi in fact does not need the project. Centre, instead of buckling under unjustified SC order, should have clarified to SC why the project is not required.

Maharashtra Pavana dam-hit farmers demand rehabilitation An action panel comprising people affected by the Pavana dam has threatened to stop water supply to Talegaon, Dehu Road, Pimpri Chinchwad and various villages from Jan 1, 2017, if the govt fails to rehabilitate the remaining affected families by Dec 31. The dam is located on Pavana river in Maval taluka around 40 km from Pimpri Chinchwad. Construction of the dam was completed in 1972, but the rehabilitation of the dam-affected people has not yet been completed.

National Escalating the life of dams As the Govt steps up its hydropower activities, the risks of climate change need to be understood and managed to ensure sustainable, resilient, and cost-effective outcomes. Interesting to see that the report does not even mention deforestation, land use changes, pathetic status of compensatory afforestation and catchment area treatment by Hydropower Companies as some of the main causes for increasing reservoir siltation.   

Interview ‘Big reservoirs an outdated technology’ T. Hanumanth Rao expert on irrigation & water management has been giving his services to 20 countries for past 15 years. He is also the most persuasive & articulate voice against the Telangana govt’s redesign of one of the State’s main irrigation projects, the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme. While talking about solution he finds the ‘Four Waters Concept’ watershed programme cost effective adding that it would recharge ground water and provide irrigation to three crops in a year. This seems like a reformulation of watershed and local rainwater harvesting proposal. 

IRRIGATION 

Maharashtra Experts question water availability for Marathwada irrigation project Even if the state government has announced financial boost to Krishna-Marathwada irrigation project, a section of water experts continue to have doubts over the multi-crore scheme, raising serious questions about the availability of water. Parineeta Dandekar, associate coordinator with SANDRP accused the state government for failing to share water availability certificates and details about possible water sources for Krishna-Marathwada irrigation project despite repeated requests. SANDRP has also alleged that certain components of the project still do not have mandatory green clearances from the MoEF. Senior officials from Godavari Marathwada Irrigation Development Corporation  refused to get drawn into controversy.  Even without water availability certificates, unviable projects still get pushed in Maharashtra. 

DROUGHT 2016    

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Maharashtra Govt gets Rs1269cr as drought aid The Union govt on Sep 28 approved Rs1269 cr of drought assistance for the State taking he overall compensation sanctioned on account of drought to Rs4318 cr which is more than the Rs 4000 crore sought by the state. In Dec, the central govt had sanctioned Rs 3049cr. This is the highest compensation among 11 states which declared drought last year. Also see, Marathwada from drought to flood A strong photo package by Sattish Bate. 

INTER-STATE WATER DISPUTES 

Centre Bill to resolve tricky issue of river water sharing The Centre has come out with a draft National Water Framework Bill, 2016, providing for a mechanism to develop and manage river basin in an integrated manner so that every state gets “equitable” share of a river’s water without violating rights of others. The draft Bill also pitches for establishing River Basin Authority for each inter-state basin to ensure “optimum and sustainable” development of rivers and valleys and devises an integrated approach to conserve water and manage groundwater in a sustainable manner.

Govt thinking to bring water under concurrent list Parliament can with two-thirds majority amend the law to bring a state subject on the concurrent list, which has to be ratified by at least half of the states. Entry 56 of the Union list- which enumerates subjects on which only the Centre can legislate- empowers the Centre to regulate “inter-state rivers” if Parliament so decides. But states have been bitterly opposed to the idea of a more direct central role in resolving water sharing disputes. Experts believe that the Centre doesn’t have to bring water on the concurrent list to have a say in disputes. Officials also blame the less effective role played by tribunals set up to resolve such disputes between states.

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Cuavery Row Release 2K cusecs: SC On Oct 04, the Supreme Court has asked Karnataka to release 2K cusecs of water every day to Tamil Nadu from Oct 7 to 18. This happened when on Oct 03, Karnataka Govt bowing to SC water decided to release 6K cusecs to Tamil Nadu. The apex court also deferred its earlier order directing the Centre to constitute Cauvery River Management Board as Centre had opposed the order stating that only Parliament can set up the board. The bench finally settled for the Centre’s suggestion to appoint a “technical team” to visit the Cauvery basin and report back on the ground reality there. The court will take up the Centre’s plea against its order to set up the board on Oct 18.  Meanwhiole, former Lok Sabha MP M Ramadass criticized the Puducherry govt for failing to ensure the visit of the high-level technical committee that inspected the water levels in dams in Karnataka & Tamil Nadu following SC direction. Puducherry agriculture minister also insisted the Puducherry govt to enter into a pact with the Tamil Nadu govt on sharing of Cauvery water.  As per latest news, various farmers’ organisations, on Oct 17, began their 48-hour rail roko in Tiruchi and delta districts, demanding the constitution of Cauvery Management Board. The protests come days after a high-level technical team, set up by the SC, completed its inspection of Cauvery basin region in Tamil Nadu to assess the situation in the state. The team, which also inspected the Cauvery basin in Karnataka, is set to submit its report in the apex court on Oct 17. 

Mahadayi Row Karnataka calls all-party meet In the run-up to a meeting with CMs of Maharashtra and Goa for resolution of the Mahadayi river dispute, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah has convened an all-party meeting on Oct 19, two days before the CMs meet. The 3 states have agreed to hold negotiations to resolve water sharing issues based on a suggestion made by Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal in July. In an interim order on July 27, the tribunal rejected Karnataka’s plea for usage of 7.56 TMC of water from the river. It, however, suggested a resolution of the matter through negotiations among the three riparian states.

Op-Ed Court calms the waters temporarily The country’s water crisis has been caused partly by a distorted irrigation policy. There are rain-shadow areas such as Vidarbha where irrigation projects exist only on paper. Another problem is that water resources are being given by several states to bidding parties. In the early 2000s, Andhra (then undivided) did away with its irrigation development corporation. This means an increasing number of borewells, dug chiefly by rich farmers, and as a result, the groundwater level went down, adding to the farmers’ difficulties. Clearly the Central Water Commission has not been equal to the task. It should be surmounted by a National Water Commission. 

HYDRO POWER

Himachal Livelihood more important than hydro project In Lippa, 200 residents are determined to reject Gram Sabha consent for 130 Mw hydro project near their village because the project would divert 17.68 hectares of forest land.  Interestingly, Lippa is only the second known case in India where a court has allowed a community to determine the outcome of a commercial project. A group of neighbouring villages in Odisha were the first to beat the system when the SC in 2013 awarded power to locals to decide on a proposal to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri hill. 

Odisha CAG hits out at OHPC for loss of cheap hydro power CAG report said that Odisha Hydro Power Corporation failed to utilize 28.15% of the total available hours in monsoon period of 2010-15 resulting in a loss of generation of 10,184.87 million unit. Stating that hydro power generating units remained idle for 1,28,792 hours out of 457560 hours available during the 5 years quantifying the loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 339.82 cr. Performance audit also revealed that 3 hydro projects at Hirakud, Rengali and Chipilima wasted valuable 3109 hours during monsoon period for undertaking scheduled maintenance.

National Power generation rises 2.1% in Sep Power demand is low, plant load factors are down, merchant power rates are down, deficits are down to close to zero, there is no off-take of electricity from renewables even as their generation grows and yet power minister is hankering to push unjustifiable hydro.

RIVERS 

Introduction to River Tapi in SANDRPs Marathi Blog तापी, तापिणी, तप्ती भारतातील पश्चिम वाहिनी नद्यांमध्ये तापी नर्मदेनंतरची सगळ्यात लांब नदी.७२४ किमी. डावीकडून मिळणाऱ्या पूर्णा आणि गिरणा हिच्या महत्वाच्या उपनद्या, जवळ जवळ ४५% तापी खोऱ्याचा भाग हा यांनीच व्यापला आहे. पूर्णेचा उगम तापीच्या तसा जवळ, मध्य प्रदेश मधल्या बेतुल जिल्ह्यातील सातपुडा पर्वतांमध्ये. या खोऱ्याच्या डोक्यावर सातपुडा, तर दक्षिणेला अजंता आणि सातमाळा पर्वत रांगा. पश्चिमेला अरबी समुद्र. तापी खोऱ्याचा ८०% भाग महराष्ट्राचा मोडतो (जवळजवळ ५०,००० वर्ग किमी), अगदी थोडा मध्य प्रदेश (~९८०० वर्ग किमी) मध्ये तरी शेवटचा भाग आणि लहानगा त्रिभुज प्रदेश हा गुजरात मध्ये येतो (~३५०० वर्ग किमी).

UP Villagers hold first-ever ‘water panchayat’ In a first of its kind, a ‘water panchayat’ was held in the village of Daha in Baghpat on Oct 11, attended by cancer-affected residents of close to a hundred villages across western UP, mostly located on the banks of highly polluted rivers like Krishni, Kali and Hindon. In the last two years, hundreds of deaths have occurred in the region, which extends from Saharanpur, Shamli and Baghpat to Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Noida. Villagers alleged that continued administrative apathy has rendered the groundwater of these areas toxic resulting in cancer, bone deformities and other diseases. 

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Maharashtra Pune Metro threatens riverbank ecosystem: PMC Report Biodiversity Monitoring Committee report suggests that Pune Metro project could be catastrophic for the riverbank ecosystem along the Mula–Mutha riverbed as the proposed alignment on the Mutha riverbed from Panchaleshwar temple to Nava Pul would “destroy the biodiversity of what remained of the riparian zone. The report has recommended that the PMC consider alternative route options for this stretch. The report corroborates the a petition filed in the NGT on May 26 against the proposed Pune Metro Rail project. Also see Nasik civic body may outsource Godavari clean-up task Typical of the centralised pollution control tactics of Municipal Corporations. Buy a “Robotic River Cleaner” from Switzerland but no man power to operate it!

Karnataka Cauvery  feeder streams running dry The hundreds of streams in Kodagu district that feed the river are polluted or nearly dry, and unbridled use of groundwater for construction has depleted the water table. The district is seeing a construction boom, fuelled by the demand for villas in the hills, farmhouses, home stays and retreats. Conservationists say rainfall patterns have changed in Kodagu, and sand mining, conversion of wetlands and paddy fields into realty sites, encroachment of the riverbed and increasing human-animal conflict are changing the ecology of the region. Another threat to the Harangi and Lakshmana Tirtha rivers is sand mining.

Haryana Scientists’ claim Saraswati did exist Scientists claimed to have found after extensive research that the river did exist during ancient times, but got buried because of tectonic changes in the Himalayas. They confirmed that tectonic activities along the Shivalik Himalayas separated the river course from Adi Badri and it was never recharged because of a series of climatic disasters. But rainwater collected at scattered hollow locations above the buried river gives proof of Saraswati’s existence and the course it took. Meanwhile, on Oct 15, Union Water Minister has released a report on Palaeo Channel of North West India: Review & Assessment by Expert Committee. The Minister added that the report will be studied by the Central Ground Water Board as well as the Experts in her ministry for its optimum use. 

Rajasthan NGT asks Govt to curb pollution in Pali river Green Tribunal in its latest directions with respect to the unprecedented and rampant pollution due to textile dyeing/ printing industry in Pali affecting hundreds of villages has asked the CPCB and the State  PCB for taking preventive and effective steps immediately to ensure that Nehda Dam and Bandi river don’t get polluted with the untreated effluents from these industries. 

INDUS WATER TREATY 

Dams will not flout IWT: Experts Maintaining that the 3 dams would not violate the principles of IWT or hamper the flow of water to Pakistan, the State Govt is looking to expedite the work on Sawalkot, Pakal Dul and Bursar hydro projects on Chenab river. Meanwhile, following a meeting with Centre on Sep 27, the J&K govt is asked to submit a detailed report within a week suggesting ways & means for maximum exploitation of water of 3 large western rivers. The state govt is mulling constructing ‘mini dams’ on their tributaries with the help of international experts. At least 36 major tributaries flow into Jhelum river, which originates in south Kashmir, and travels through Srinagar before entering into south Asia’s one of the largest freshwater lake, Wullar. On the other hand, according to Shashi Shekhar water resources secretary India has not yet taken a decision to suspend the IWT but was in the process of “reviewing” its decision to stay on in the Indus Commission. He, however, emphasized that India would pursue in “mission mode” its plans to ramp up hydro projects and utilize “to the fullest” what was due to it under the water-sharing agreements under the pact. India’s Indus Commissioner P.K. Saxena is in Washington to discuss with World Bank officials India’s position on the Kishenganga hydro-power project. The report also says that there was no decision on either reviewing or abrogating the treaty in a meeting chaired by PM.

Amid IWT review row Punjab govt wants work on Shahpur Kandi project work be resumed to stop the flow of water to Pakistan, besides bringing more area under irrigation in Jammu region and enhancing the irrigation capacity in Punjab. Earlier the work on project was suspended following objections by the J&K Govt. It has taken the plea that since the Punjab Govt has terminated the River Waters Sharing Agreement in 2004, the previous agreement relating to the Ranjit Sagar dam and Shahpur Kandi dam between Punjab and J&K too have become defunct. The Punjab Govt has taken up this issue with the Centre asking it intervene, but the J&K Govt has refused to budge from its stand.

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS 

Goa Motorcycle rally against nationalization of rivers Though the rally is highly politicized, pertinent questions about dredging and channeling rivers are being raised.

SAND MINING

MoEF No prior clearance for stuck mining proposal The MoEF has told the Union mines ministry that there is no provision in the law which obliges it to give a prior clearance for any such proposal. In Jan, 2015 a number of state govts had promised mining companies the environment clearance before the grant of mining licence.  As per govt data, around 65 and 45 such proposals are stuck for the want of green clearance respectively, either with the state or the Centre. With MoEF refusal, the mines ministry is likely to take the opinion of law ministry regarding this issue.

NGT Plea to quash MoEF mining notifications On Sep 28 activist Vikrant Tongad has moved a plea before the Green Tribunal (seeking quashing of two notifications issued by MoEF to amend the EIA notification of 2006 and constitution of district-level panels for appraising projects for mining of minor minerals. The Ministry had in Jan notified the minor mineral mining policy, decentralizing the process of granting environmental clearance for sustainable mining of sand and minerals. Taking note of the plea NGT has issued notice to MoEF seeking its reply within two weeks. The matter has been listed for Nov 2. 

UP Mafia head shoots self in Greater Noida According to police sources Sanjay 40, the head of an alleged mining mafia accidentally shot himself while cleaning his own pistol on Oct 04. Sanjay was in jail twice on charges of illegal sand mining and smuggling. The suspect is a resident of Momnathal village, located along the bank of river Yamuna at Greater Noida and a number of cases of illegal sand mining have been reported from this village.

Bihar Sushil alleges illegal sand mining BJP leader Sushil Modi on Oct 7 claimed that illegal sand mining and trade were going on from Sone river across a dozen districts in connivance of the mining and transport departments with support from the police and drew attention of the state govt on the violation of an NGT order banning such activities. Alleging patronage of “vested interests” in govt, the former Deputy CM said not only was the State losing precious revenue, but also the sand trade was continuing in violation of the NGT ban.

Gujarat Govt slaps 70.46 lakh penalty on illegal sand-miners Acting tough against illegal sand-mining and storage, the department of Geology and Mining conducted massive surprise raids simultaneously in 7 districts and recovered 87,211 metric tonne of sand and a penalty of Rs 70.46 lakh. The raids were conducted over a period of 3 days. As many as 35 licence holders were raided by 8 flying squads.

Himachal Admin. steps up vigil to curb illegal mining On Sep 28 Rakesh Kanwar DC Solan directed officials of various departments to step up surveillance in their respective areas and check illegal mining. He specially warned the 39 officials, who have been delegated powers from various departments like IPH, PWD, Police, Forest, Revenue, Block, etc, to act against this illegal activity in their respective areas. The SDMs were also directed to conduct surprise raids and check such activities.

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES 

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Karnataka Banglore community committed to save a Lake A residential community in Bangalore, Akshaya Nagara, formed a team of volunteers. The first aim of residents was to stop all sewage from getting dumped into the lake. The residents decided to build the sewage drains by themselves. They levelled the land around the lake to make a beautiful walking path & preferred natural mud trail over concrete blocks. As a result of their hard work, the area has been completely transformed. The volunteers planted 1000 trees in the last one year.

Telangana Hyderabad lake emerges as ‘superbug hotspot’ The presence of more than 300 drug firms has left lakes and rivers laced with antibiotics, making Medak near Hyderabad a giant Petri dish for anti-microbial resistance. 

GROUND WATER 

NCR Bandhwari waste-dump causing massive ground water pollution The groundwater that supports life in Delhi and NCR is in imminent danger of getting contaminated by toxic discharge from a colossal mass of rotting filth lying at Bandhwari dump yard in the Aravali hills. Because of its geographical location at a higher gradient, Bandhwari is a critical recharge point for the water table. If leachate seeps into the aquifer here, it will spread rapidly to south Delhi, Faridabad and Gurgaon because the groundwater flows outwards towards the three cities from here. 

National Change attitude to water to avoid looming crisis According to experts against the backdrop of tensions, that often erupt into violence, among states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and others over sharing water of common-flowing rivers, its usage pattern needs drastic change. Himanshu Thakkar, of SANDRP says that dependence on groundwater is increasing with each passing day & we are drawing more water than we are recharging. Noting that recycling was also the need of the hour as the used water cannot be just thrown away, he adds that the usage of the groundwater has to be regulated. 

WATER 

Study Water situation in Bengaluru This study was undertaken to assess the quantum of water available in the region to meet the domestic demand. The study brings out that there is sufficient water available in the region, but fails to understand the inability or ineffectiveness of the local administrators to sustainably manage the water resources in the region.

Centre MoU with Hungary for cooperation in water management The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a MoU between India and Hungary on cooperation in the field of water management. The cooperation, particularly on river basin management/ integrated water resources management, efficiency in water supply and irrigation technology innovation and flood & drought management will help improve the socio-economic conditions of the people of both the countries. Water Ministry is entering into a MoU with Hungary with wide-ranging areas on water sector for the first time. 

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Himachal No end to water crisis in Shimla Erratic power supply to the 20 MLD Giri pumping house and leakage in its jaded 1-km water pipeline has resulted in 60% water loss. This has triggered a fresh water crisis in the city as the availability of water in storage tanks has dropped from 42 MLD daily to 25-30 MLD. The Ashwani Khud pipeline is also being replaced. A sum of Rs 3.53 crore has been earmarked. Earlier, on Oct 27, the High Court also expressed displeasure over the irregular water supply in Shimla. It sought explanation from the Municipal Corporation (MC) as to why there was shortage of water supply in the city again. The HC also directed the civic body to file a status report in this regard on or before Oct 25.  Meanwhile, the water tank of Radha Soami Satsang ashram at Kunihar, Solan was found contaminated with a poisonous substance on Oct 01, taking the number of such cases to six in the last few days. The lab reports had indicated the presence of pesticides in water sample collected earlier. There has been no let-up in such incidents since Sep 26. Several public, private water tanks and a hand pump have been targeted.

WATER OPTIONS

Telangana Rain adds to ‘Srisailams’ to groundwater table These thumb rule calculations show that about 400 TMC water has been recharged into groundwater and about 200 TMC in Srisailam. The moot point is there is no estimate of storage capacity in smaller water bodies.  

AGRICULTURE

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Haryana Waterlogging hits sowing of crops in Bhiwani Farmers of Jaishree village have been facing the problem of waterlogging for over three months. They are not able to sow wheat and mustard crop owing to the condition. Besides Jaishree, waterlogging has become a serious issue in Kamod, Mishri, Khatiwas, Jinger, Loharwada, Samaspur, Charkhi, Bhervi, Imlota, Swaroopgarh, Satood, Nimli, Paitawas, Bhaini Phogat and Giri Chappar villages also. There were 20-25 villages in Charkhi Dadri district where several thousand acres were facing the same problem. Though the administration had employed machines to drain out water, 35 per cent of the village fields were still inundated.

ENERGY OPTIONS 

National Installed solar capacity up Solar power installations in the country have reached 8,643MW, driven by 4 states crossing the 1gw solar installation mark. Some 500MW solar capacity was added in a month through Sep, indicating solar installations continue to grow in spite of a slowdown in power demand, declining capacity utilisation of thermal projects and availability of cheaper power on the electricity exchanges.  At the end of 2015-16, solar accounted for 2.5% of the net installed capacity in the country, up from 1.4% a year ago, and was the fastest-growing new energy source. Solar accounted for 17.4% of all renewable energy generation in 2015-16 against 10.5% in 2014-15. 

SOUTH ASIA

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Bangladesh seeks Indian cooperation on ten more shared rivers In addition to 54 transboundary rivers between India and Bangladesh, “The Joint Rivers Commission of Bangladesh and India has identified ten rivers shared by the two countries that they wish to manage together. These are the Moharoshi, Uddakhali, Sonkosh, Mohadeo, Harivanga, Chela, Luva, Loha, Kamjhora and Khasimara, located in northern Bangladesh, with the Indian states of Meghalaya and Assam across the border. For Bangladesh the identification of transboundary rivers, and their basin wide management, is of critical importance, but it is also in the interest of the other countries, even if they are affected in less direct ways.

Procession held to save mother hilsa in Chandpur A massive awareness rising campaign to protect mother hilsa has been undertaken in Haimchar upazila of Chandpur, as the govt banned netting hilsa between Oct 12 & Nov 2 in an area stretching 100 kilometres in the Meghna river.

Bangladesh to invest in Nepal hydro-power Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed after a meeting with Romi Gauchan Thakali, the commerce minister of Nepal on Oct 16, has announced plans to jointly invest in a hydroelectric plant in Nepal and import electricity from that plant.

Nepal landslides 2016: losses at the end of the rainy season According to David Petley, Nepal has seen highest number of fatal landslides in 2016, at 61, highest in last 26 years. 184 people died in 2016 landslides, the number if lower than some of the earlier years.

Myanmar Thousands flee fighting near site of dam backed by Thailand As many as 10,000 people in Kayin State in Myanmar have been displaced due to fighting over the Hat Gyi Dam construction site, as plans move forward to begin building on the Salween River. Activists have reported a human rights crisis in the area as more than 1,000 refugees have been trapped in two small villages near the border with Thailand and lack proper housing, basic facilities and food. 

CHINA 

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Brhamputra Dam Row PMO readies for water war with China Sources in water ministry say that the govt is working on a two-pronged strategy to deal with it ease green clearance process and push smaller hydro projects. Many discussions have taken place after the Uri fiasco. The govt has decided to fasten the work on exploiting India’s right over water under the Indus water treaty. Similarly, now when it comes to strategic decisions regarding China, environment may get compromised. The govt is now keen to take strategic decisions on Indus Treaty and China, and it can be expected soon. Environment, people and future generations can be compromised for so called unfounded strategic agenda. If that is the conclusion, it is certainly most shocking and akin to self inflicted destruction.

Coming of Sino-Indian water wars? By Hongzhou Zhang This article argues that the major supporting arguments of the water wars narrative are very weak. Its says that China has no plan to divert waters from Brahmaputra River & even if China could successfully divert water from the Brahmaputra River, its impacts on the downstream countries will be rather limited. Praising China it says that it is becoming more willing to cooperate with neighboring countries regarding transboundary rivers. Interesting article from Chinese perspective on Sino Indian Water Disputes.  

Is China seeking to make a weapon of water? By Brahma Chellaney Armed with such leverage, Beijing is pushing its Lancang-Mekong Cooperation initiative as an alternative to the lower-basin states’ Mekong River Commission, which China has spurned over the years. Indeed, having its cake and eating it, China is a dialogue partner but not a member of the Mekong River Commission, underscoring its intent to stay clued in on the discussions, without having to take on any legal obligations. The Mekong, Southeast Asia’s lifeline, is just one of the international rivers China has dammed. China, after all, has graduated to erecting mega-dams.

Dams on Brahmaputra could spell crisis for India by Satyendra Tripathi The implications of the dams on the water ecosystem through its blocking of sediment-borne nutrients will surely have a negative impact on traditional Himalayan agriculture. Also, the ecosystem in the waters is also disturbed, dramatically affecting the life-cycle of high altitude fish species. It is notable that in the most of these regions, fish is a major source of caloric intake, which means that rural food security in Northeast India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia may be compromised. Climate change is showing its impact we now need to aim for sustainability rather than unchecked growth.

India faces a threat from its own dams By Nihar Gokhale The real threat of the Chinese dams is ecological. Huge ecological costs are attached to even run-of-the-river projects. Such bumper-to-bumper dams have also been alleged to compound the impact of floods, such as the one in Uttarakhand in 2013. So, in Assam, which is downstream to these dams, there is more opposition to Indian dams in Arunachal than Chinese dams in Tibet. Bangladesh, which is further downstream, has similar concerns. According to Himanshu Thakkar the point is that all dams are happening in a high altitude area vulnerable to disasters, which would get compounded with the presence of dams. There needs to be a cumulative impact assessment done jointly. 

REST OF THE WORLD

Sweden It takes patience to restore watercourses The novel method in this project, named Vindel River, was to collect very large boulders and trees from the adjacent upland areas to place in the water as well as adding gravel to spawning beds in reaches of tributaries that have previously been restored using more basic methods. In that way, the restored reaches became more complex, which ought to improve biodiversity. Researchers later compared the more restored river reaches with reaches where only basic restoration had been made. See how serious River Restoration is undertaken where boulders and trees are returned to the river, not taken out. Also it is a patient, patient task.

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US 7 wild rivers under attack by hydropower dams Hydropower destroys rivers, often forces the relocation of local communities, increases the spread of vector-borne diseases, and disrupts local cultures and ecologies that have evolved together for thousands of years. Perhaps even worse, methane emissions from hydropower reservoirs are making climate change worse. Here are seven incredible rivers flowing through South America that are currently threatened.

IR Blog Headwaters of Amazon protected The Peruvian government has just decided to protect the #Amazon’s headwaters for the next five years! The Marañón River gives life to hundreds of thousands of people in Peru, and forms a critical part of the entire Amazon’s ecosystem. Our next goal is to protect it permanently. Help us make it happen. Inspiring work by International Rivers. Also see, Can World Bank lead by example in moving away from large dams? Even if sounding rhetorical, an important question, the Bank funding for hydro and dams has certainly declined in spite of noises to the contrary.  

CLIMATE CHANGE

Ghosh challenges western thinking on climate change Recently, at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art, he spoke with Naomi Oreskes, the American historian of science famous for her spirited, scholarly fights with climate change denialists. In their fascinating conversation, Ghosh made two points we seldom hear in mainstream climate change discourse: One, that the extraordinarily Westernized literature on climate change ignores the starring role played by colonialism in this crisis. Two, that science can give us the facts, but art and literature must narrate real stories of climate change.

Why most of India is still sweating in October Globally, every single of the last 11 months, starting from October 2015, have been the hottest ever recorded in terms of monthly temperatures, since fairly comprehensive instrumental measurements began to be taken in 1880. A run of this duration has never happened before. There has also been a spike in global average temperatures over the last couple of years. Global temperatures have gone up by 1.3 C this year compared to 1880-1920 and are at their highest ever in last 11 months. Implications are grave and continue to worsen, Nagraj explains. 

Pakistan climate change project gets approval Pakistan’s climate change project was cleared with conditionality at the Green Climate Fund. India, faced with complete isolation at the fund’s board meeting in South Korea, relented and dropped its demand for an outright rejection of the proposal. It was decided that an independent assessment would again be carried out of the project by its supporting institution, UNDP and submitted to the board. The money would be disbursed for the project only if the independent assessment yet again weighs in favour of the project. If the project can harm India, that Indians need to know who will be harmed and how. Hope Indian govt promptly makes this public. Don’t people of India have a right to know that? Also see, India blocks Pakistan climate change project at GCF meeting

Delhi temperature rose faster than most cities in last 40 years  A recent study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology lists Delhi along with Kolkata, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Nagpur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune as cities with significant temperature rise from 1971-2013 indicating the impact which increasing urbanization. The other cities showing a similar trend are Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Hyderabad. Even hill stations such as Srinagar, Shimla, Darjeeling and Kodaikanal had recorded a rise in temperatures over the last 40 years till 2013. Delhi is among four cities in the list which showed a decrease in mean annual temperatures from 1901 to 1970, before the trend got reversed. Also see, In the time of climate change, a few smart lessons for the Capital 

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Paris Agreement to constrain India’s energy policy At home, the Indian govt will also have to set its energy policy in tune with the international commitments on greenhouse gas emission intensity reduction. India committed to ensuring 40% of its installed capacity by 2030 will be from non-fossil fuel sources. The back end projections done to reach this number will now have to be integrated into the new energy policy that Niti Ayog is championing. An early draft of this energy policy has been prepared and shared within the govt but it is yet to be refined.  India’s energy policy would have to be in tune with the international commitments on emission reduction. Also see, India’s ratification of the Paris climate deal was inevitable 

ENVIRONMENT

Centre Govt quietly sets up committee to revise Forest Act The govt is yet to announce the formation of the committee in public. The panel was constituted on Sep 23 & has already had 1 meeting of some of the members. The committee is likely to submit a report in 3 or 4 months though neither a deadline nor specific terms of reference has been set for it. The panel has been set up after the govt put out a new draft forest policy and hastily withdrew it after it came under fire for being anti-tribal and trying to dilute forest dwellers’ rights under the Forest Rights Act. It is yet not clear if the committee would invite comments from people in general or specific experts for inputs before the finalization of their recommendations. On the other hand, 6 years after it was directed by the SC the central govt is yet to set up national environment regulator to ensure independent oversight of green clearances. What is worrying is that there has been no let up in green clearances in this period. To be sure, part of the reason for the delay has been the resistance from states, who fear that an independent regulator would encroach upon their rights. Environmentalists allege that the ministry is deliberately delaying the formation of a green regulator. Also see, Projects near wildlife zones can skip getting expert nod for Rs 43k per hectare According to another news report, now projects close to protected areas will be getting away without NBWL clearance, just paying some extra money will do. This will further degradation of environment governance.

UP NGT asks Ghaziabad to get green clearance for elevated road project Refusing to direct “demolition or prohibition” of the project, the Green Tribunal has directed the Ghaziabad Development Authority to obtain environmental clearance from the state environment authority for construction of a six-lane Hindon elevated road connecting NH-24. The Tribunal added that in case of default of compliance, it would pass coercive orders like levying of environmental compensation.

You may like to see DRP News Bulletin 11 Oct 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 03 Oct 2016

 

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