DRP News Bulletin 16 Jan. 2016 (MoEF’s Expert Committee Shows Anti-People, Anti-Environment Biases)

EAC against entertaining ‘anti-development’ representations The expert appraisal committee (EAC) on river valley and hydel projects of the Union Environment Ministry has decided “not to take any cognizance of such representations” received by its members. In its Dec. 30, 2016 meeting, the committee concluded that once a project proposal reaches the EAC for appraisal, it has crossed the stage of public consultation and “the EAC should not go back in time, and should not reopen it, by entertaining unsubstantiated representations received from the people”. 

The EAC noted that in case of any clarification regarding action taken on such representations under the RTI Act, the EAC prescribed that a standard reply “action has been taken in accordance with the decisions taken in the 1st meeting of the EAC for River Valley and HEP on 30.12.2016” should suffice. “It was also felt that many of the objections raised are repetitive. Many such kind of representations have an anti-development attitude so that the projects are kept on hold or delayed. This has financial implications to the developers in particular and to the nation in general.

The committee emphasized that relevant ministries scrutinised every aspect of a project and proposed it for final appraisal only when all details were in place. If not satisfied that public consultation had been completed properly, the EAC said it could ask the project promoter to do the needful. The committee also made allowance for representations with “new points” and “grave consequences” on which comments from project proponents could be sought. The EAC considered 13 projects in its December 30 meeting and cleared eight of them.

Environmental activists, however, pointed out the impracticality of the contention that representations should be restricted to the 30-day public consultation window. Sripad Dharmadhikari also, in his blog has mentions various reasons to counter the EAC’s suspicious justifications. He also says that the fact that a body which is supposed to represent the environmental perspective displays such an attitude is the biggest critique of the EAC and the environmental clearance process that it is a part of. The newly constituted MOEF’s EAC on River Valley Projects has in their very first meeting shown anti people, anti democratic and anti environment attitude.

HYDRO POWER

Center Power Ministry to give major thrust to hydro power: Piyush Goyal New & Renewable Energy Ministry is in the process of drafting a Cabinet proposal to reclassifying large hydro power plants as renewable projects. In the present scenario, the small hydro projects up to 25 MW are treated as renewable energy while others do not get incentives being provided by the government for encouraging clean energy. India has set an ambitious target of adding 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 which includes 100 GW of solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro-power (up to 25 MW capacity each). Power Minister announces again, though without any specifics, intention to push large hydro, which is already highly subsidized with most important costs externalized. 

On the other hand, a group of secretaries to the government has advised PM Modi that allowing commercial mining of coal by private firms within a year and reviving hydro power projects with financial aid in the next six months are key to building energy security of the country. Renewable energy status, interest subvention schemes and long-term financial support to hydro projects of less than 100 MW have been called for by the group. The group, comprising oil secretary Kapil Tripathi, power secretary PK Pujari, coal secretary Susheel Kumar and former coal secretary Anil Swarup, mines secretary Balvinder Kumar and renewable energy secretary Rajeev Kapoor, is among eight groups constituted for suggestions on various sectors. 

Assam AJYCP restarts stir against Subansiri dam The anti-dam stir on Lower Subansiri Hydro-electrical Power Project over the Subansiri river at Gerukamukh has again got momentum following a blockade against the entry of goods on the project site. Since Jan 06, members of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) have been blocking the entry of goods to the dam project site from two places in Lakhimpur district – Khelmati and Gogamukh after they were denied entry at the construction site by the security forces. Agitation against Lower Subansiri HEP continues, with still no studies and NHPC trying to continue construction. 

Uttarakhand Irreversible impact of Hydro projects on Ganga: Centre In an alarming disclosure, the Centre has informed the Green Tribunal that a large number of hydropower projects (HPPs), including those that are under construction, have “severely affected” 80% of Bhagirathi and 65% of Alaknanda, causing the rivers to dry up at many stretches. MoEF and the Union Water Ministry in a joint affidavit submitted to the NGT in the last week of December 2016 has also said that almost 90% of smaller tributaries of Ganga have also been affected due to the HPPs. Also see, Matu Jansangathan PR  Darkness is the only end of Dam Tunnels “Black Spot” A film made on the impacts of Vishugaad – Peepalkoti tunnels on Alaknanda River released  by the villagers in Gopeshwar headquarter of Chamoli district. WORLD BANK and THDC’s falsehoods exposed by this 11 minute film about what is the REALITY of DISPLACEMENT, DESTRUCTION, REHABILITATION and JUSTICE for the people affected by Vishnugad Pipalkoli Hydropower project in Uttarakhand. Please watch and share and help spread the word. 

Kedar tragedy activist to contest election Gangadhar Nautiyal, who is president of the Kedarnath Apda Sangharsh Samiti and also one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court on the matter related to stalling of 24 hydropower projects (HPP) on Alaknanada and Bhagirathi, is set to contest on a Communist Party of India (Marxist) ticket from Kedarnath. Nautiyal said that he decided to contest the polls to improve the situation in villages of the Kedar valley, where houses have either sunk or developed cracks due to constant blasting in the mountains to build tunnels for hydro projects. 

Himachal Greenko to buy troubled Sorang HEP from TAQA Greenko Energy is set to acquire an 100 MW Sorang hydro power unit located in Himachal from Abu Dhabi’s TAQA for Rs 650 crore. According sources this is the second instance in four months where the Hyderabad-based renewables company is buying out a distressed local asset from a global utility major. TAQA had taken over the Sorang plant from a consortium of NCCIL& FS. But even after commencing operations in 2015, the project ran into operational troubles.

DAMS 

SANDRP Blog Maharashtra Urban water sector in 2016: Big cities eyeing big dams Urban narrative of Maharashtra revolves predominantly around cities of Mumbai (along with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region i.e. MMR), Pune, Nagpur and Nashik. Dominance of these large urban centres or the big cities over raw water sources is apparent. These cities have per capita water supply much more than the prescribed norms and continue to seek more water allocations.

Narmada Dam Oustees Rehabilitation Dam oustees are not beasts: SC The Supreme Court on Jan 05 castigated the Madhya Pradesh State Government for giving Rs 11,000 as interim help to families displaced by construction of minor dams as against Rs 50,000 given to those who lost their homes to major dam projects. Stinging the government for differentiating between minor and major dam oustees, the apex court also ordered immediate payment of Rs 50,000 to each family. Agreeing to hear the plight of the landless victims of the Sardar Sarovar Project in detail, the SC on Jan 10 observed that giving cash instead of land to farmers who lost their fertile lands to the mega dam project is tentatively not acceptable. Good to see this, and one hope the SC sticks to this stand, though past is not so encouraging.  While the need for more human treatment of the affected people is welcome as emphasized by the SC, the court needs to be much more consistent, persistent and must ensure implementation of necessary Rehabilitation measures, judiciary in general has less than charitable record here. 

children-playing-near-a-tree-still-standing-on-their-submerged-farms-in-the-sardar-sarovar-reservoirChildren playing near a tree still standing on their submerged farms in the Sardar Sarovar reservoir 

Op-Ed The indifference to dam oustees continues The MP incident shows how strongly the judiciary has weighed in on the side of the displaced yet justice eludes many of them, some for up to over half a century. This article sounds sympathetic to the cause of justice for the people displaced by dams and other developmental projects, but it could have been more forthright and slightly more accurate. The judiciary too has abjectly failed to help the affected justice. 

Andhra Pradesh Focus on less costly, useful water projects: Farmers’ Body Farmers’ leaders from Rayalaseema, who on Jan 10 converged for a discussion on “Water Resources of the State”, expressed doubts about the completion and usefulness of the irrigation projects under construction. Speakers at the discussion urged the State government to stop focusing on projects that required monumental efforts to complete. Many farmers’ association leaders expressed doubt about the government’s competence to impound water at the Polavaram dam site using the coffer dam. There was no clarity about the quantum of money the Central government could route through NABARD. Since the Polavaram Project had been declared a national project, any State would have the right to raise an objection. The cost of the project had escalated from Rs.16,010 crore to around Rs. 42,000 crore.

Maharashtra BMC names consultant for Gargai project As the Gargai dam project will affect nearly 720 hectare of forest land, BMC has decided to appoint a consultant for obtaining environment and wildlife clearances for the same at a cost of about Rs 2 crore. The civic body has appointed Naik Environment Research Institute Limited (NERIL) to obtain permissions from the National Board of Wildlife & the Union Environment Ministry for the project, prepare a report of tree cutting and alternative plantation, and make estimates for the project. The total cost of consultation services is Rs 1.96 crore. NERIL has also made plans for Nathpa Jhakri hydro power station in HP and Upper Tapi stage II project. Mumbai does not need any more dams, but it keep pushing for more dams, this report is about appointing a consultant for Gargai dam for questionable objectives. 

On the other hand, the State government has given approval for the cost overrun of more than Rs 20,000 crore in 133 irrigation projects in the state. These projects, approved during the Congress-NCP regime were worth Rs 11,835 crores. Now, fresh approvals have pegged the total expenditure at Rs 32,935 crore, projecting a nearly 200% increase in budgets. Of the 133, increase in outlay for 17 projects have been approved directly by the state cabinet, including the ones where a substantial hike in costs has been foreseen such as the Gosikhurd works (whose cost has been revised upwards from Rs 5,659 crore to Rs 18,495 crore) and the Painganga scheme (up from Rs 92 crore to Rs 716 crore). The other projects were cleared either by an expenditure priority committee or by regional irrigation development corporations. The claim of BJP government being different in these approvals does not sound convincing.

Chhattisgarh Industries to decide fate of Mahanadi river As per available data, at least eight industries are scheduled to draw 223.83 million cubic metre (MCM) besides water allocation for generation of 7800 MW hydel power from the Kalma barrage. The barrage at Kalma has a storage capacity of 50.39 million cubic metre with full reservoir level of 197 metre and dead storage level of 192 metre. Out of 66 gates in the barrage, water is released through just one barrage. The situation is likely to aggravate once industries draw water from the barrage and water flow from the barrage will be constrained even during monsoon which will have a bearing on Hirakud Dam.

hirakud-damHirakud Dam

Odisha 61 years on: Few happy with nation’s longest earthen dam project Though a lot of dreams were woven ahead of its commissioning by Indian’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru January 12, 1957, most of them have remained unfulfilled even after so many years. While many displaced families are yet to get the record of rights for their land and ration cards, people who eke out a living by fishing, don’t get the required aid from the government. Displacement coupled with atrocities inflicted by local industrial units trigger stir among people every now and then. Half of 26,000 families who had to sacrifice their ancestral land for the greater interest of the state, continue to lead miserable lives for 60 years by working as daily labourers. The oustees still wait in bated breath to get compensations even as their pleas have fallen on deaf ear of the administration. The three objectives –flood control, irrigation and power generation – behind setting up of the project appear to have gone haywire. This is very good article on Hirakud dam. 

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

Mahadayi Dispute Another win for Goa in Mahadayi water row Karnataka Government on Jan 09 withdrew its special leave petition (SLP) filed before the SC challenging the Mhadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT) order rejecting its plea to divert seven TMC of water from the Mhadayi river basin to the Malaprabha reservoir. The SLP was withdrawn after the Apex Court declined to interfere in the Tribunal’s order. The SLP was supported by the Maharashtra government, which is also at loggerheads with Goa over the Mahadayi water diversion. In Aug. 2016, Karnataka Government had approached the Apex Court, challenging the order and claimed that the Tribunal had “grossly erred” on wastage of water going to the sea. Also see, Green the riverscapes This trailer says how the Mahadayi dams would destroy the fragile ecosystems. Also quotes SANDRP coordinator about importance of groundwater aquifers.

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Bhima River in Maharashtra: A profile Maharashtra state’s haste of building more and more dams in Krishna basin is most prominently visible in Bhima basin. In this sense this sub-basin of Krishna River Basin, is its perfect miniature. We try to present a short profile of this basin. This article is in continuum with profile of Krishna River within Maharashtra published by SANDRP a few weeks back. Also see, Civil Society (January 2017 issue) Article by SANDRP on India Rivers Week 2016 and Bhagirath Prayas Samman 2016. 

15965261_1512379925456342_6407516447125038450_n.pngSANDRP Article 

Centre For a science based transformation of water policy  Good to see better appreciation of rivers in this policy advocacy piece by MIHIR SHAH:  

We suggest that it is our approach to water, which has lost its necessary anchoring in the best science that is mainly responsible for what is palpably a man-made water crisis. We must urgently recognize that we cannot do the following:

(a) Control and manipulate rivers without understanding the science of river ecosystems.

(b) Extract groundwater without understanding the science of hydrogeology.

(c) Save our peninsular rivers from drying up if we do not understand the inverse relationship between over-extraction of groundwater and post-monsoon river flows.

(d) Destroy river catchments ignoring the intricate relationship between health of watersheds and river flows.

(e) Continue with ‘hydro-schizophrenia’, divorcing irrigation from drinking water and drinking water from sanitation.

(f) Run factories without understanding the science of water footprints.

(g) Manage water systems in cities without understanding the scientific relationship between water and wastewater, and the typology of diverse hydrogeological contexts in urban India.

(h) Manage floods without understanding the science underlying the ‘roomfor-the-river’ approach to flood management.

Assam 6 men turn militant hotbed into vegetable hub Positive development story from Nalbari, Assam, possibly close to Pagladiya / Brahmaputra rivers, and great thing is that message is already spreading and others are following. It also shows floods are not only disaster. 

GANGA Uttarakhand Water ministry smells a rat in Bhagirathi Eco plan The Union water ministry has raised questions about the public hearings held by the Uttarakhand government with villagers while drafting the zonal master plan for the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). In a report submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) last week, the ministry said it had received several complaints about how the hearings were conducted, and whose views actually heard. MoEF and the Union Water Ministry in a joint affidavit submitted to the NGT in the last week of December 2016 has also said that almost 90% of smaller tributaries of Ganga have also been affected due to the hydroelectric projects. 

SANDRP Blog Yamuna River 2016: Unjustified Dams, Hydro Projects In a quest to summarize, how good or bad the year 2016 has been for River Yamuna, SANDRP in the first part of three part blog series attempt to throw lights on impact of developmental projects particularly dams and hydro projects in upper reaches of the River and the imminent dangers of climate change that have jeopardized the entire eco- system around the Yamuna rivers.

Op-Ed Ecological pogrom in Chambal’s badlands By Tarun Nair For how long the Chambal continues to flow, and for how long we will continue to see and hear its untamed sights and sounds, will depend on how soon we can wean away from our exploitative dependence on this river, on how effectively we keep the many ecologically divisive forces at bay, and on when we finally restore its natural flow regimes. Our rivers are deserving of reverence for their ability to nourish and nurture life, not merely to wash away our sins and sewage. In this strongly worded essay, Tarun Nair shows how Chambal River Sanctuary is getting destroyed by the acts of omissions and commissions of the governments.

the-chambal-riverscape-pics-by-tarun-nairChambal Riverscape

SAND MINING

Madhya Pradesh NBA activists arrested for protesting against illegal sand miningThe State Government has arrested two senior tribal rights activists, Rahul Yadav and Pavan Yadav, attached with the well-known anti-dam movement, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), as they reportedly tried to take objection to “illegal sand mining in Narmada riverbed in Badwani district. MP Government arrests two NBA activists, Rahul Yadav and Pavan Yadav, for stopping illegal sand mining from Narmada.   

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

Center Notifications on wetlands baffle green activists Two notifications on wetlands issued by the Union environment ministry on Dec 14 have puzzled legal activists who have been campaigning for protection of wetlands. One of these notifications is to announce the constitution of Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) -the nodal agency for identification, conservation and protection of wetlands ­­ for a term of just two months. The other notification omits two clauses in the Wetland Rules 2010 on the constitution and term of the CWRA. This notification states that the authority will be constituted under the Environment Protection Act instead of under the Wetland Rules. Under the 2010 rules, the term of CWRA was for 3 years. These developments are significant because the NGT is hearing an application seeking directions to the government to identify all wetlands in the country as specified in the Wetlands Rules (Conservation and Management) 2010. Environmentalists had filed two separate applications in NGT following a draft notification issued by the Union environment ministry in March 2016 on Wetlands Rules 2016 ­­ a much watered down version of Wetland Rules 2010. These are important developments about the wetlands. 

Jammu & Kashmir Sad story of Wular lake On the one hand, Government has chocked the funding for the conservation of Walur Lake, which has led to the deterioration of the Lake, and on the other hand a real hero, Bilal Ahmad Dar, is fighting day in and out to save our future and heritage; Walur Lake. Please watch this video showing how this kid is collecting garbage from the Wular lake to save the lake. 

Tamil Nadu Chennai Poromboke Paadal ft. TM Krishna The Ennore Creek is being slowly choked. This dynamic brackishwater wetlands complex with mangroves, salt pans, tidal mudflats and flowing water protects us from flooding and cyclonic storm surges, and supports fisher livelihoods. The degraded state of the Ennore Creek is only the symptom; our corrupt, inept and unaccountable regulators are the disease. Thanks, Nityanand Jayaraman, for this enchanting and yet disturbing video, it is amazing at so many levels, but most importantly, is about an ongoing, live issue, urging us to be Poromboke.  Rivers did not choose to flow by our cities, we have settled next to cities. There are so many lovely lines. Please watch, share and spread the word and sign the petition to Save Ennore Creek !

WATER OPTIONS 

progressive-farmer-kaliash-murthy-at-his-farm-near-t-narsipur-in-mysuru-districtProgressive farmer Kaliash Murthy at his farm near T Narsipur in Mysuru district

Karnataka Progressive paddy farmer reduces water usage, reaps profit  Contrary to the popular belief that paddy is a water-guzzling crop, this progressive farmer from T. Narsipur in Mysuru district has reaped rich dividends this drought-hit season with just 25 per cent of the normal water usage. For Mr. Murthy, a retired bank official-turned-farmer, experimenting on his 11-acre land at Madarahalli in T. Narsipur has paid rich dividends, and the method adopted by him may perhaps hold the key to reducing water consumption in agriculture without hampering food security. The normal expenditure on one acre of paddy is ₹15,000, but he spent less than ₹7,000 and got a yield of 24 quintals, while others around him managed less than one quintal. Mr. Murthy said that with the available water resources of the region, farmers can produce four crops, not one. There is enough scientific evidence to indicate that waterlogging of paddy fields results in the release of methane and other gases into the atmosphere, intensifying the greenhouse effect. Another evidence if one was required, about effectiveness of SRI.  75% saving in water, cost reduces by over 50% and yet yield goes up, along with reduction in climate change footprint in Cauvery basin. If this were seriously taken up all across the basin, imagine the savings. 

Rajasthan The doer from the Thar There are many unsung heroes amidst us who go about their good work silently. Chattar Singh is one such hero who has revived traditional water management system of the parched Jaisalmer villages.  Celebrating the work and wisdom of Chhattarsingh of Jaisalmer. 

पुस्तक परिचय  बुन्देलखण्ड के तालाबों एवं जल प्रबन्धन का इतिहास  पानी के अभाव में तरसते बुन्देलखण्ड वासियों के दुःख-दर्द को सामने लाने के साथ-साथ प्रस्तुत पुस्तक में डॉ. काशीप्रसाद त्रिपाठी ने यहाँ की जल प्रबन्धन व्यवस्था और पुराने तालाबों, जलस्रोतों के ईमानदारी एवं निष्ठापूर्वक जीर्णोद्धार करने की नीति बनाने और उसे जीवन की धड़कन से जोड़ने पर खासा बल दिया है जिससे पानी एवं रोटी की तलाश में भटकते बुन्देलखण्ड के लोगों को राहत मिल सके। यह पुस्तक बुन्देलखण्ड के तालाबों एवं जल प्रबन्धन पर रोशनी डालने और अपनी विरासत के प्रति लोगों को सजग करने में पूरी तरह समर्थ है।

WATER

National Funds to ETPs ‘contempt of court’ P. Sankaranarayanan, an engineer and activist, has petitioned the Union Textiles Ministry against the recent sanctioning of Rs. 200 crore ‘interest free convertible loan’ to 18 Common Effluent Treatment Plants. He said that contempt of court proceedings would be initiated against authorities concerned if the amount was disbursed. Mr. Sankaranarayan said that under the ‘polluters pay’ principle, the government cannot meet the costs using tax payers’ money for pollution caused by private parties. This is very interesting challenge to Govt plan to fund effluent treatment plants that the polluter is supposed to pay as per law of the land and Supreme Court orders. 

Current Affairs A discussion on Water Resources Management Listen the AIR Programme on the issue of water resources in the light of Jal Manthan features Dr. Syamal Kumar Sarkar of TERI and Himanshu Thakkar, Expert on Water Resources Management. The debate would be moderated by Nirendra Dev, Journalist. 

GROUND WATER

Study Link between ground water and rainfall Unfortunately, this HINDU report provides no figures about rainfall decline in North or NW India, but says it is also a factor behind the groundwater decline. It could be but one needs to see the figures. The increase in temperature and resultant increase in losses is yet another factor not even mentioned in this report. The policies that encouraged unsustainable groundwater use, wrong cropping pattern is another factor. Yet another factor is decline in groundwater recharge through destruction of groundwater recharge mechanisms. But it gets no mention here. These IIT Gandhinagar authors seem to come up with shocking findings, without really backed by convincing figures, it seems, unless one see the figures that back the findings. I would love to see the paper quoted in the Hindu report to see the rainfall pattern change it mentions. 

National Achieving equity by direct transfer of electricity subsidy  Is this workable? Could it lead to more corruption and less benefits to farmers? Could it lead to cornering of the benefits by a few? Will it worsen the water access for the smaller farmers and also worsen groundwater exploitation? Is this a way towards ultimately withdrawing the subsidy totally? Or can it lead to more equitable distribution of subsidy?

DELHI WATER

Wetlands to help treat drains As Delhi government starts work to implement the ambitious Yamuna turnaround plan, attempts are simultaneously being made to address the pollution in the city’s three major drains. WELCOME attempt in Delhi to clean up supplementary drain using wetlands, though it would be better to start on smaller scale. At the same time, DJB is also setting up ASIA’s LARGEST STP near coronation pillar, with a capacity of 70 MGD. It claims the cost of treatment would be Rs 7.35 crore per MGD, below the cost of treatment at Nilothi STP, at Rs 13.75 crore per MGD. 

DROUGHT IN SOUTH INDIA

Tamil Nadu Govt declares all districts drought-hit The State government on Jan. 10 has declared all districts of the state drought-hit following a deficit in the northeast monsoon last year. Government has also confirmed 17 suicides of drought-affected farmers in the past two months.

Karnataka Foodgrain production likely to miss target by 36% As per Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission report, the worst Drought in 40 years is likely to lead to 38% reduction in Cereals production (36% drop in food grains production). 48% of farmland is affected, mostly by drought, but some also by floods. Jowar production is likely to drop by 63%, Ragi by 58%, Maize by 34%, Paddy by 29%. However, Greengram and Toor Daal production is likely to go up. 

Meanwhile on Jan 04 the Government refused to released 2000 cusescs Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu as ordered by SC. The Government says that it does not have any water to release and farmers of Karnataka also oppose the order. SC to hear the Cauvery appeals on daily basis at 2 pm from Feb 7. 

It is worth to note that Tamil Nadu, Kerala and south interior Karnataka and coastal Karnataka had already reported respective shortfalls of 19%, 34%, 21% and 21% during the southwest monsoon (June-September). The corresponding deficits of 62%, 61%, 70% and 63% reported for the northeast season makes matters worse for these regions.

ENERGY OPTIONS 

National Surplus power in India: Now heavy users to pay lower tariffs Major reforms of power tariffs are on the horizon as an official committee has recommended lower tariffs for heavy users to encourage electricity consumption as the country moves from a deficit to surplus situation. In India, power consumers have always been paying higher bills for higher consumption. Slabs are fixed and if you fall in the higher consumption range, you pay more. So now you consume more power, you get it at lower rate? Makes no sense when most of the power comes from fossil fuels or destroying environment and livelihoods and when climate change impacts are already here. What sort of mindless proposal is this, just to take care of temporary electricity surplus? 

SOUTH ASIA

Nepal Indian envoy inaugurates hydropower plant Indian ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae has inaugurated the upgraded Thame Khola Hydropower Plant in Namche VDC of Solumkhumbu district on Jan 08. The Thame Khola Small Hydropower Plant — supplying power to the upper Khumbu valley in Solukhumbu disrict — is located within the premises of Sagarmatha National Park in the Everest region. The plant supplies electricity to 18 villages of Khumjung and Namche VDC of Khumbu valley in the district and is operated by the Khumbu Bijuli Company. The Rs 4.4 cr cost of upgrading the project capacity from 630 KW to 930 KW, that is increase of 300 KW seems high, but is possibly due to remoteness of the area.

Pakistan Rs 5000 crore sales tax waiver for CPEC HEPs At least 3 major hydropower projects with cumulative generation capacity of over 2,700 megawatts among the priority list of CPEC would immediately qualify for the GST waiver worth over Rs.50 billion to facilitate their implementation, which is currently at very early stage. The hydropower projects to qualify for these GST exemptions at this stage have been identified as $1.9bn, 720MW Karot Hydropower Project on the Jhelum river on the boundary of Azad Kashmir and Punjab; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 870MW Suki Kinari Hydropower Project on the Kunhar river, a tributary of Jhelum; and more than $2.5bn, 1100MW Kohala Hydropower Project on the Jhelum river in Pakistan-held Kashmir.

THE REST OF THE WORLD 

Study Waste water treatment feasible Los Angeles County in Southern California has come out with a study that says that it is feasible to treat wastewater sufficiently to recharge into groundwater. A 150 MGD facility would cost USD 2.7 Billion to establish and USD 129 million to operate annually, cost of water coming to USD 1.3 per 1000 litres, which is found competitive with fresh source water. The county has managed to reduce per capita water use by 25% since 1990. The next step is to build a demonstration plant of 0.5 MGD capacity, which will be operated for a year and based on that experience, they would decide the next steps. 

Global Dams be damned, let the world’s rivers flow again It took decades of dam building and the associated devastation of rivers – before people and their lawmakers in the US started protecting wild and free-flowing rivers. With the impacts of climate change starting to threaten livelihoods, it’s time to protect our free-flowing rivers the world over.

visitors-gather-to-watch-giant-gushes-of-water-released-from-the-xiaolangdi-dam-on-the-yellow-river-in-jiyuan-chinaVisitors gather to watch giant gushes of water released from the Xiaolangdi dam on the Yellow river in Jiyuan, China 

US According to another report, there are 80,000 dams in the United States, and 97 per cent do not produce electricity. There are only 2,500 dams that are actually retrofitted with hydropower. Of those 80,000, 54,000 could be retrofitted at a megawatt or more, according to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Out of 80 000 dams in US, 97% do not have hydropower component (incidentally, this is also true for India), and 54 000 of them can have megawatt scale hydropower component.

Report Tapping Oceans’ freshwater Deep below the sea there are aquifers containing freshwater, as scientists estimated three years ago. No one knows what will be the implications of mining that water, but major corporations are first one to think of using it, as news report says. Will it be invitation to another set of mega impacts? 

CLIMATE CHANGE 

Global Modern agriculture cultivates climate change Crucially, where diversified systems raise productivity and improve livelihoods, they do so durably, performing particularly well under environmental stress and delivering production increases in the places where additional food is desperately needed. For example, the agro-ecological system of rice intensification approach is securing and increasing rice yields around the world. The picture is far from complete. To date these systems have seen only minimal investment and support. Either way, the burden of proof is on the proponents of industrial agriculture to show how it can ever be productive and sustainable, with or without miracle breakthroughs. In the meantime, a less dazzling but highly compelling agro-ecological alternative is taking shape and transforming food systems around the world. It deserves our urgent attention. Great to see Guardian discussing the merits of Agro Ecological approaches while acknowledging that 29% of climate change inducing emissions is due to “modern” agriculture.

harvesting-rice-in-nepal-food-systems-are-responsible-for-up-to-29-of-global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-driving-the-climate-instability-that-threatens-agricultural-productivity       Food systems are responsible for up to 29% of global greenhouse gas emissions, driving the climate instability that threatens agricultural productivity. 

Research Short-lived GHGs cause centuries of sea-level rise Sounds a bit counter intuitive, but the brief but seemingly convincing reason given is ‘Ocean Inertia’ It takes a lot of time to remove the accumulated heat in the oceans. 

India Herders finding new ways around climate change This article highlights how adaptable way of life of the livestock breeders in Himalayas has seen them through the climate change impacts so far. The article may have highlighted the possible impacts of hydropower projects, since this is a major future threat for the Spiti valley.

ENVIRONMENT 

Study Cost of exclusionary Conservation in Sundarbans  The study suggests that, in a place like the Sundarban, which has been declared a World Heritage Site, the moral imperative of conservation is shrinking. Unless we recognise the traditional roots of biodiversity conservation, we cannot address the vulnerable livelihoods and threatened identities in the region. We cannot continue to maintain a watertight compartmentalization between the natural world and the human world. EXCELLENT narration of how people are suffering around Sundarbans protected areas in the name of conservation.

You may like to visit DRP News Bulletin 09 Jan. 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 02 Jan. 2016

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