DRP News Bulletin 17 April 2017 (Why Bihar needs to launch Farakka Satyagarha on centenary of Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha)

As the President of India is in Patna today (April 17, 2017) to remember the centenary of Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha, we need to remember that the Central message of Gandhi’s Satyagraha was to fight injustice, atrocities and abuse, irrespective of the source of the atrocities.

During the international workshop on INCESSANT GANGA in Patna on Feb 25-26, 2017, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar mentioned that this is the centenary year of Gandhiji’s famous Champaran Satyagraha in Bihar. He also mentioned how Bihar has suffered the increasing intensity, duration and destructive floods due to Farakka Dam.

Bihar government has been quietly raising this issue with the centre about this, but have failed to receive any appropriate response so far.

It would be fitting tribute to Gandhi and centenary of his Champaran Satyagraha if people and government of Bihar were to highlight the injustice Bihar has been suffering due to the Central govt’s Farakka Dam and initiate a peaceful Gandhian Satyagraha on the issue of impacts that Bihar has been suffering due to Farakka Dam.

The open letter to Bihar Chief Minister written by SANDRP on March 2, 2017 can be seen here: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/landmark-ganga-conference-in-patna-what-bihar-needs-to-urgently-do/. The letter has more details about the possible steps Bihar needs to take.

HYDRO POWER 

SANDRP Blog CAG validates concerns about shoddy environmental appraisal of Dams In an unprecedented first ever Audit report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which recently conducted Performance Audit on ‘Environmental Clearance and Post Clearance Monitoring’ has unambiguously stated that the existing processes for grant of Environmental Clearance are fraught with serious violations, noncompliance and deficiencies.[i] In fact River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects have been highlighted for poorest quality of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Reports, maximum irregularities during Public Hearings, and non-compliance of Environmental Clearance conditions. This is a resounding slap on the face of the functioning of the current and past Expert Appraisal Committee’s (EACs on Dams and vindicates and validates what SANDRP and other civil society groups have been saying for long. This is indeed much needed critical feedback when EAC is seeking to make its proceedings less and less transparent and providing false justifications for the same.

Assam Mass protest against possible resumption of Subansiri HEP The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and several other groups across the state on April 11, 2017 held protests and warned the Centre of fresh agitation if the govt tried to resume work on the 2000-MW Lower Subansiri hydel power project (HEP) that was halted in Dec 2011. The protests were triggered by a news item in a section of local newspapers that the Centre would soon resume work on the Lower Subansiri project. AASU president Dipankar Nath said that they would not the govt to start work in the Lower Subansiri project until concrete plans are announced to mitigate its downstream impact as well as reduce the height in order to prevent earthquake damage.

Being implemented by National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC), the Lower Subansiri Hydro-Electric Power Project is the largest hydel power project in the country. Located on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, it has remained incomplete since Dec 2011. The project cost, estimated to cost Rs 6,285 crore in 2002, shot up to Rs 18,064 crore in September 2015. Over Rs 8,400 crore was spent on the project till December 2011, while NHPC has been incurring a loss of Rs 1 crore a day because of its non-completion. Lower Subansiri HEP continues to face massive protests in Assam. Shocking that the Union Minister ignores the report of experts from Assam.

Uttarakhand Fine on hydro-power company for polluting Alaknanda The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped a fine of Rs 50 lakh on Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) for dumping construction debris in river Alaknanda. The order issued on April 13, 2017 also says that the construction company will remove the debris dumped in the river and to restore it to its original state, else face a further fine. The debris was from the construction of Vishnugad-Peepalkoti HEP on the river in the state’s Chamoli district. The NGT has also orderd the contractor working on the behalf of hydro-power company to pay a sum of Rs 20 lakh. The NGT also asked the central, state govt and THDC to direct installation of efficient transportation monitoring system to ensure that such projects do not cause any pollution in the river. Thanks to MATU and LIFE, this was possible. In fact every hydropower project need to be penalised as they all indulge in such blatant violations.

Centre Hydro power projects of 11,928 Mw capacity under construction: Goyal Some important information about hydro projects: 43 hydro-electric projects, with total capacity of 11,928 Mw are under construction, the Lok Sabha was informed. As per power minister Piyush Goyal, out of these 43 projects, 16 are stalled due to financial constraints and other reasons. He also said that the total power generation capacity of the 16 projects is 5,163 MW and the anticipated completion cost of these projects would be Rs 52,306 crore while their original cost was Rs 27,027 crore. THE QUESTION ARISES: WHY ARE WE STILL PUSHING THESE PROJECTS WHEN WE ARE POWER SURPLUS, OUR ELECTRICITY GROWTH RATE IS 2.5% AND FALLING AND OUR RENEWABLE ADDITION TREND IS MUCH HIGHER THAN THE GROWTH RATE?

Hydro power generation grew marginally The Hydro power generation witnessed an increase of 0.77 per cent (increased by 1 BU from 121.3 BU to 122.3 BU) in FY 17 after it dropped by 6% in FY 16 and 4% in FY15 compared to the respective corresponding period.” So even with all the capacity additions in last three years, the generation far below what was the case in 2013-14, which was 134.85 BU, when installed capacity was 40524 MW, when installed capacity as in March 2017 is 44478 MW, 3954 MW higher than that in March 2014. Only goes to re-emphasise the point that hydropower projects continue to provide diminishing generation per MW installed capacity.

Power deficit drops to less than 1 % in 2016-17 Power deficit in just concluded 2016-17 year was down to 0.7%, down from 2.1% the previous year. The peak deficit was 1.6%, down from 3.1% the previous year. The power deficit in the final month of the year, that is March 2017, was 0.3%, down from 0.5% in Feb 2017. All India electricity demand grew by 2.5%, down from 4.2% growth that this showed in the previous year. Important to note: As per officials power deficit is calculated by states as the difference between electricity requirement raised by distribution companies and electricity supplied, and cannot be directly correlated to hours of power outages and the latent demand in unelectrified villages. Due to onset of summer, the govt’s Vidyutpravah portal showed that power demand increased to 154 GW on April 12, 2017), pushing prices on the power exchange to Rs 4.2 per unit.

Himachal Pradesh NTPC eyes SJVN for green profile, HP worried The move by NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) Ltd to buy the Central govt’s stake in Shimla based hydro power producer, SJVN (Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam) Ltd is meeting opposition from State Govt. The state government has an equity share of 25.5 per cent in SJVN and is apprehending loss of ‘say’ if the NTPC’s proposal matures. There is much anxiety in the Shimla based SJVN, with around 1,700 employees on its rolls uncomfortable over the new proposition as it would reduce them to subsidiary staff of a bigger company. NTPC proposes to acquire SJVN Ltd, but Himachal Govt, which holds 25.5 % stake in SJVN, is opposing, fearing dilution of its stake and say in the company.

Impact of Renuka Dam The Giri river valley where the State Govt plans to construct a 148 meter dam to supply water to Delhi. Fertile farmlands and rich forests spread over 2000 hectares will be submerged in close to 32 villages for this project which has been in the pipeline for decades. As people await their fate, some with excitement of turning millionaires overnight but most with apprehension of losing their lands, the dwindling flow in the Giri beckons us to ask why this dam is being built in the first place. A very legitimate question by ENDANGERED HIMACHAL.

Water leakage from Parbati tunnel worries villagers Water leakage from the tunnel of Parbati Project-II is giving jitters to residents of Rella panchayat falling under Banjar constituency in Kullu district. The residents are worried as the leakage may pose threat to the villages coming under it if preventive measures not taken in time. As per  former Gram Panchayat Pradhan Pritam Singh said the water leakage was occurring in huge volume near Riena village under Rella panchayat, around 2.5 km from the project tunnel. The tunnel was leaking at several points posing threat to the habitats falling under the area. He further remarked that the area was quite fragile and constant seepage of water may lead massive landslide, which will damage the habitats of around five villages like Rella, Dahra, Khadoa, Jeeva and two other. People alleged that the use of substandard material for the construction of tunnel is the major cause of the seepage, which also occurred earlier. They demand immediate action to avoid any danger to the people. Tunnel of 800 MW Parbati II HEP leaks heavily even before power generation can start.

CM used shell companies to buy farmhouse worth Rs 27 cr The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has claimed that CM Virbhadra Singh had used shell companies to purchase a farmhouse in Delhi and settled the deal by paying Rs 5.41 crore in unaccounted cash, besides Rs 1.20 crore through cheques, from a company in which his son and daughter are directors and shareholders. More details of corruption in Himachal hydro project sector.

DAM  

Jharkhand Centre to revive ambitious North Koel irrigation project The Centre has decided to revive its 45-year-old North Koel river irrigation project at an estimated cost of Rs 1,622 crore and begin the construction of remaining works soon. After being conceived in 1972, its construction works started in 1975. Though 90% of its works, costing nearly Rs 800 crore, was completed by 2007, the work was stopped in the wake of pending clearances from the environment ministry over the issue of submergence of forest areas including a part of the Palamu tiger reserve. It is learnt that the PMO wants the commencement of the work on the project in April itself. The project has three main components – a (Mandal dam) on North Koel river near Kutku village in Latehar district, a barrage downstream the river and a network of distribution channels originating from its two main canals.

Maharashtra CAG raps Govt for flaws in irrigation, fishing schemes  The CAG has rapped the state govt for losing crores due to the incorrect application of contract clause, inadmissible payments, blocked expenditure of the irrigation projects, flawed planning and poor implementation of the fishing and agricultural schemes. The CAG report has stated that the clauses of the account of maintenance of approach roads to the dam site were incorrect and led to an extra amount of Rs22.14 crore being paid to the contractor. The water resources department lost Rs38.82 crore while failing to synchronise procurement of power generation equipment for two hydroelectric projects. This led to the equipment lying idle and added to the unavoidable expenditure. The report recommended that the govt ensures preparation of a long term comprehensive plant for small scale irrigation projects as it would enable sustainable funding by preventing avoidable inclusion of new projects. This is another CAG report on dams and irrigation projects in Maharashtra.

Gargai and Pinjal dam projects to displace 1,000 tribal families The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to rehabilitate and resettle more than 1,000 tribal families to pave way for its Gargai and Pinjal dam projects. The civic body would spend a total of Rs 300 crore for the purpose. Around four to five years back BMC had proposed constructing a dam on Vaitarna River in Palghar district’s Wada area (Gargai project) and another on Pinjal River at Jawar area of the same district (Pinjal project). After repeated attempts to start work on the project failed, the civic body has finally scheduled it for next year. Maharashtra govt and BMC are pushing unjustified projects (Gargai and Pinjal projects).  

IRRIGATION        

Maharashtra Govt to look at raising Rs 61,471 cr for 420 irrigation projects Maharashtra continues to fund the dam scam. State Govt plans to raise Rs 61,471 crore for 420 irrigation projects. Some eye opening figures– So far, the total amount spent by the state on incomplete projects is Rs 49,804.64 crore. The list includes 57 irrigation projects, which started more than 30 years ago and are still incomplete. There are 81 projects that are lying unfinished for more than 20 years, 69 projects are over 15 years old, 51 projects started 10 years and 11 are incomplete for five years. Currently, the revised cost of all the projects is Rs 1,11,275.64 crore.

Gujarat PM Modi to inaugurate Link-II of SAUNI project in Botad SAUNI Yojna is a project to divert one million acre feet (MAFT) of floodwater of Narmada to Saurashtra region and fill up 115 reservoirs of Saurashtra through a 1126-kilometre-long network of giant pipelines. The project envisages to channel the floodwater, which otherwise overflows the Narmada dam during monsoon and drains into the sea, to Saurashtra through Narmada main canal and Saurashra branch canal (CBC) of the Narmada dam project. The SBC lands in Dholidhaja dam in Surendranagar. Botad branch canal (BBC) originates from the Dholidhaja dam and fills up Limdi Bhogavo-II dam along the way. The pipeline network has been divided into four links. Each link has been sub-divided into three phases for execution of work. The entire SAUNI project targets to provide irrigation water for 10.22 lakh acres of land in Saurashtra region.

While the Link-I canal will take water to 30 dams in Jamnagar and Devbhoomi Dwarka districts, the Link-II canal is designed to pump Narmada water in 17 dams spread across Botad, Bhavnagar and Amreli districts. The 253-kilometre long pipeline of Link-II originates from Limdi Bhogavo-II dam near Limdi and is planned to terminate at Raidy dam in Amreli district. The phase-I of this pipeline covers a distance of 51 kilometre and brings water from Limdi Bhogavo-II to Bhimdad dam in Gadhda taluka of Botad district. A state government release said that the phase-I of the Link-II had been completed at the cost of Rs 1,313 crore. The phase-I will fill up Bhimdad dam which has total storage capacity of 239 million cubic feet (MCFT) and Krushnasagar dam which was a source of drinking water for Botad town till a few years ago.

While he was chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi had announced the SAUNI project in Rajkot in 2012. He had laid the foundation stone of the project, again in Rajkot, in 2014. He had inaugurated the first phase of Link-I at Sanosara village in Dhrol taluka of Jamnagar in August last year by releasing water from Aji-III dam for downstream dams. Aji-III, in turn, had been filled up by pumping Narmada water from Machhu-II dam near Morbi.

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Wainganga River: Threatened lifeline of Vidarbha’s Forests While experts are criticizing the projects like Gosikhurd, Bawanthadi, Human dam for fragmenting the tiger corridors WRD of Maharashtra Government is expediting diversion of more and more water through dams & river linking projects for irrigation, power generation, industries and urban use. In Vidarbha the discourse of river water allocation revolves largely around irrigation & thermal power industry. Water for sustenance of wildlife habitats does not feature in the debate.

SANDRP has written to the CM of Maharashtra as well as State Wildlife Board about the undemocratic, uninformed, unaccountable decision making of these projects which will come up at the cost of heavy social and ecological damage.

Let us hope that better sense will prevail and in future wildlife of the landscape is able to receive its due place in decision making and rightful share of resources, including water.

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SANDRP Blog Kerala Rivers Profile Of Kerala‘s 44 rivers, 41 flow westwards and the rest towards east. The basin area of major rivers is located within the Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot, while some other northern rivers originate in laterite hills. The short length of the rivers coupled with very high population density (over 30 million people living in a land area of 38,000 sq km) creates high dependency on water and the rivers‘ susceptibility towards environmental onslaughts.

SANDRP Blog Karnataka Rivers Profile Rivers are a source of water for drinking, irrigation and electricity generation in Karnataka. Most of the rivers originate in the Western Ghats that generally flow westward meet the Arabian Sea after a short run varying from 50 kilometres to 300 kilometres. Almost all the major east-flowing rivers are inter-state rivers and runs towards the eastern side of the state and drain towards the Bay of Bengal. Figure 1: Karnataka State, India with districts and River Systems.

Meghalaya Village bans fishing in river stretch to save fauna A tiny village in West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya has banned fishing on a stretch of the Rilang river to preserve its fauna. The fish sanctuary near Rohbah village, about 130 km from here, has helped rejuvenate the fauna which has been depleting over the years. The initiative also got support from residents of 7-8 nearby villages through which the Rilang rolls down. The villagers say the fish sanctuary, established about five years ago, has helped increase yields of the river. This sounds VERY interesting.

Tamil Nadu Plea to stop supply of Thamirabarani water to Pepsi, Coke A petition has been filed in the Madurai bench of the Madras high court seeking to stop supply of the Thamirabarani river water to 15 companies, including Pepsi and Coke, in Tirunelveli district. In his petition, CM Ragavan of Tirunelveli said the Thamirabarani river caters to the water requirements of people in Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Virudunagar and Ramanathapuram districts. At present there is water scarcity in reservoirs in Tirunelveli district. However, the supply of water to the 15 companies is going on, affecting water requirements people, the petition said. It will be VERY interesting what will the HC NOW do in this case when there is no justification for allowing Coke, Pepsi and other such companies to continue to take water for non essential water intensive activities in times of such drought.

Punjab Seechewal to spearhead ‘Ghaggar Bachao’ campaign With the authorities showing little resolve to address the problem of pollution in the Ghaggar, residents of Ratia in Fatehabad have launched a “Ghaggar Bachao, Zindagi Bachao” campaign under the guidance of environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal from April 6, 2017. As per the report, the 140 km-long Ghaggar, which flows from Himachal Pradesh and Punjab before it enters Fatehabad and Sirsa districts of Haryana, receives hazardous chemicals and other effluents along the way.

NARMADA Gujarat 2nd new bridge on Narmada to open in mid 2018: CM DISASTER IN THE MAKING, WHY DOES THE MEDIA CALL IT MUCH NEEDED WHEN THERE ARE NOT EVEN STATUTORY CLEARANCES AND WHEN FISHER-FOLKS ARE OPPOSING. Speaking on the weir-cum-causeway over Narmada near Bhadbhut, Rupani said that the budgetary allocation has been made and the govt is awaiting the clearance from Union ministry of environment and forests. WHY DOES GOG HAVE TO CONSULT NCA, IT CAN ALLOCATE WATER FOR DOWNSTREAM FROM ITS OWN SHARE. The state govt has received a number of representations to release more water from Sardar Sarovar dam into Narmada to stop the influx of sea water, which has resulted in severe salinity ingress in the borewells. Hoping for some solution to emerge, the CM has also stated that discussions are on with the Narmada Control Authority to discharge more water.

160% jump in villages getting drinking water through tankers  According to the data tabled by the state government in the recently-concluded Budget session of the Assembly, despite a 1,20,000-km water grid, the number of villages in the state getting drinking water through tankers has risen by 160% between 2011 and 2016. During 2011-12, there were just 427 villages in Gujarat where water tankers provided drinking water. By 2015-16, the number of such villages more than doubled to 1,137. The maximum number of villages (459 villages) covered by water tankers were in Banaskantha  followed by Bharuch in South Gujarat with 406 villages getting water through tankers. The other districts where sizeable number of villages received drinking water by tankers were Kutch (330 villages), Junagadh (335), Rajkot (302) and Dahod (231). Number of tanker fed villages going up in Gujarat. Also see, River of milk will flow in Gujarat : CM  If the rivers have clean, natural flow of water, that would be good enough, milk and ghee will only pollute it sir. Unfortunately most rivers in Gujarat do not have even that most of the times.

GANGA Centre Govt to conduct study on Hilsa fish As per the report, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has now decided to conduct a study on it in the Ganga river. The issue was discussed at the recent meeting of NMCG’s executive committee on 24th March 24, 2017. The meeting discussed the exploratory survey on Hilsa along up/down stream of Farakka barrage. As per the meeting minutes, in order to understand the migration behaviour and status of these species it is imperative to carry out the investigation on the status of life stages of Hilsa in and around Farakka barrage. The project is targeted for exploratory survey on Hilsa and life stages availability along up/down stream of Farakka barrage.

YAMUNA Delhi जलमंत्री कपिल मिश्रा को भी लगा राजरोग १३ अप्रैल को खबर मिली कि विशेषज्ञ समिति ने माना है कि श्री श्री रविशंकर द्वारा गत् वर्ष यमुना पर किए आयोजन के कारण यमुना की क्षति हुई है।  १४ अप्रैल को खबर आई कि दिल्ली के जलसंसाधन मंत्री श्री कपिल मिश्रा ने विशेषज्ञ समिति के निष्कर्षों का मज़ाक ही नहीं उड़ाया, बल्कि श्री श्री को पुनः यमुना तट पर आयोजन हेतु आमंत्रित भी किया है। मज़ाक भी किसी प्राइवेट लिमिटेड विशेषज्ञ समिति का नहीं, बल्कि खुद भारत के सरकार के जलसंसाधन मंत्रालय के सचिव की अध्यक्षता में गठित विशेषज्ञ समिति का उड़ाया गया है। This is indeed, so true, Arun Tiwari ji, Kapil Misra is suffering from serious Rajrog.                                                                                        

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES

Karnataka KLCDA for declaring 176 ‘live’ lakes in Bengaluru as wetlands After years of judicial pressure, the process to keep the city’s lakes from the hands of local encroachers and misuse has finally started. The Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) has sought for the declaration of 176 ‘live’ lakes in the city as ‘wetlands’. Once notified by the MoEF as wetlands, any changes in the land use of these lakes such as diversion of lake land for roads or layouts or any other purpose can only be done by through the approval of the Union government. Officials and activists hope that the added protection on land will stop the continued ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ encroachment of lakes. What is the reason the dawn of this wisdom by KLCDA is not clear, but it is a welcome initiative.

WATER OPTIONS                                                              

Telangana Central team impressed with results of ‘Mission Kakatiya’ A central team, which on April 10, 2017 began two-day visit to Telangana to study ‘Mission Kakatiya’, the state’s flagship programme for restoration of lakes and tanks, said they were impressed with the results it is yielding, a statement said. The 30-member team comprising irrigation officials from Maharashtra, Odisha, MP and UP visited some places in Medak district to get first-hand information about the implementation of the project. The Central Water Commission (CWC) has organised the visit to enable the officials of these states to see for themselves the results of the mission. Visit to Mission Kakatiya works in Medak district impresses CWC officials and also officials of a number of states.

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Op-Ed Some washroom wisdom by Deepali Rastogi On Centenary of Champaran Satyagraha of Gandhi today (April 17), celebrated by no less than President of India, let us salute Deepali Rastogi, a Madhya Pradesh IAS officer who earlier this month on April 1, (no it was not April fool joke) write this brave piece and faced the consequences of SHOW CAUSE notice from the MP govt. She has a track record too. She earlier as Panna collector wrote to Planning Commission that KEN BETWA LINK project will keep the upstream tribal areas permanently backward. So salutes to her on this day.

WATER  

Centre Rs. 23,443 crores released for Mission Water Conservation The Ministry of Rural Development on April 10, 2017 has released Rs. 23,443.09 crore to the States as first tranche for Financial Year 2017-18 under MGNREGS. The amount released includes all pending liabilities as on 31st March, 2017. It is also to ensure priority work on water conservation measures. Govt has also prepared a list of 2264 water-stressed Blocks, as ascertained from the Ministry of Water Resources. These Blocks are located in 324 districts of 21 States. As per report, the Ministry has also advised the States to ensure not less than 65% expenditure on Natural Resource Management (NRM) Activities. There are 155 kind of works permissible under MGNREGS. Of these, 100 works are NRM related.

Maharashtra Govt to evolve integrated water plan for balanced regional development Maharashtra will be the first state to evolve an integrated water plan which will include inter-river basin water transfer for balanced regional development through equitable water allocation to drought-prone districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. CM Devendra Fadnavis has set a Dec 31, 2017 deadline for Integrated State Water Plan across five river basins of Godavari, Tapi, Krishna, Narmada and western flowing rivers. The plan is also aimed at minimising the regional conflict over water share and ensuring equitable allocation of water for multiple use, with the highest priority for drinking and agriculture. The inter-basin water transfer, wherever it is geographically and economically viable, is also part of the sustainable water resource management. Maharashtra State Water Plan to focus on inter-basin transfers instead of synthesizing river basin specific, locally suitable approaches.

DELHI WATER & WATER BODIES

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Historic Purana Qila lake dries up Delhi’s iconic Purana Qila lake has dried up, with govt agencies passing the responsibility for its upkeep to each other. Barring a thin stream of water, all that remains of the lake is its cracked bed with half a dozen boats parked on one side. The lake, which stretches from Talaaqi Darwaza to Bada Darwaza of the 16th century monument, was part of the moat surrounding the fort. Sources said after the Delhi government’s contract ended, the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) was to take over but this has not happened yet. ITDC officials refused to comment.

AGRICULTURE

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National Drop in pulses prices reveals flawed agri policy In many state-regulated agricultural markets of major tur-producing states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka, prices have fallen to Rs 4,000 per quintal in some markets, 20% below the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 5,050 per quintal (including a bonus of Rs 425) since December 2016. A ban on exports, restrictions on stocking by private agencies in a bumper-crop year and absence of futures trading in agricultural commodities have been cited as key reasons for pulses to follow “the usual roller-coaster of high and low prices” in consecutive years, according to this article by Ashok Gulati, Infosys Chair professor for agriculture at Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, on March 15, 2017. GREAT to see this detailed analysis of Pulses production, prices and market, with focus on Maharashtra.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Dark side of solar energy There are many strange aspects of this column by Swaminathan A Iyer, one of the striking aspects is that he talks about hidden subsidies for solar power, but does not go into the MASSIVE MASSIVE hidden subsidies for the thermal power projects.

SOUTH ASIA

India Bangladesh Hasina stalls suicidal Padma barrage  TEMPORARY REPRIEVE: PM Sheikh Hasina on April 11, 2017 said her govt had postponed the construction of the Padma River barrage because of design flaws and that India will become a party to the project after some improvements are made. Terming the current proposal as suicidal, the premier said the barrage will now be set up jointly with India after corrections are made to the design. The proposed dam would span 2.1 kilometres between Habashpur of Rajbari district and Lalkhan of Shujanagar upazila under Pabna district, around 98 kilometres downstream from the Farakka Barrage.

Teesta Treaty India, Bangladesh fighting over a trickle According to WB report, Teesta has only about 100 cumecs water in dry season between Feb and May, when demand for farmers from India and Bangladesh is 1600 cumecs. So even India were to release half of available water, it wont help Bangladesh, and it will create more problems in N Bengal. A Parliamentary delegation to visit Sikkim to assess the impact of eight hydro projects there on the flow of Teesta.

Bangladesh People are eating more fish but getting less nutrition It turns out that, in Bangladesh, local species from capture fisheries are generally much more nutritious than the species being farmed. Capture fisheries in the country are dominated by nearly 300 species of “small indigenous fish”, which are often consumed whole, including head and bones. Nutrition powerhouses, these small fish are rich sources of important micronutrients including iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin A, as well as high-quality protein. Aquaculture, on the other hand, is dominated by a handful of large fish species, both indigenous and exotic. Only the flesh of large fish is normally eaten, which is a rich source of high-quality protein, but generally has lower micronutrient content. As diets have shifted towards more farmed fish, nutrient intakes from fish has declined. And this has serious implications for a country suffering widespread malnutrition. Very true. Holds true for India as well as several other countries.

India-Pakistan Indus water treaty talks delayed India Pakistan Secretary level talks on Indus Basin hydro projects that were earlier proposed for 11-13 April have now been postponed, new dates to be announced by the World Bank. 

CHINA

China may scrap divisive dam in Myanmar  China has shifted its position in a lengthy dispute with Myanmar over the building of a $3.6 billion dam, seven sources said, signalling its willingness to abandon the project in exchange for other economic and strategic opportunities in Myanmar. Until recently, China had been pushing hard for the 6000 Mw project to go ahead despite widespread opposition within Myanmar which forced the suspension of work in 2011. Some good news: China about abandon a controversial, USD 3.4 Billion, 6000 MW Dam project in Myanmar, as the project also faces opposition. China is looking for an honourable way out, the report says.

Rising water threatens China’s rising cities In the Pearl River Delta, breakneck development is colliding with the effects of climate change. Picture of future Indian coastal cities? STRANGELY, THE NYT PIECE DOES NOT MENION ONE OF THE KEY FACTORS BEHIND SINKING AND SHRINKING DELTAS THAT IS THE TRAPPING OF SEDIMENT BY UPSTREAM DAMS.  

REST OF THE WORLD 

Nile River faces a multitude of threats Egypt could become the latest example, its 95 million people the likely victims of a slow motion catastrophe brought on by grand-scale environmental mismanagement. The Nile River is under assault on two fronts – a massive dam under construction upstream in Ethiopia and rising sea levels leading to saltwater intrusion downstream. These dual threats now jeopardize the future of a river that is the lifeblood for millions. It ends with rather dire warning. But with the Nile no longer their birthright, and the Nile delta gradually disappearing into the sea, millions of Egypt’s people will inevitably need to look elsewhere for a livable future.

US After Oroville Dam scare, why should we trust California water officials? Despite broad public interest, Brown’s administration is using federal security regulations designed to protect us from terrorism to keep key documents private. It is a convenient and giant loophole given the true danger here is from Mother Nature and officials who have not moved quickly enough to ensure Oroville Dam is safe. Given the serious nature of February’s near failure, the fair question for the public to ask now is this: Why should we trust state officials to do this work with little public scrutiny?  Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar asks right question. 

CLIMATE CHANGE

Karnataka Bengaluru to the set up climate change lab In order to study the actual impact of climate change and equip the state to tackle the vagaries of nature better, a dedicated Climate Change Laboratory will soon be set up in Bengaluru. The Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute, located near JP Nagar, will be housing the centre under the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change with help from the department of science and technology. The requisite equipments will cost around Rs 1.5 crore and will take 2-3 months. Interesting, but not clear what exactly they will measure and what they will do with the data, the Climate Change is such a vast canvas.

ENVIRONMENT

Centre “nakshe” Portal launched by Dr. Harsh Vardhan Topographic maps of Survey of India are now available for free download from “nakshe” web portal in pdf format on 1:50,000 scale (through Aaadhar enabled user authentication process) Here is the link for the portal http://soinakshe.uk.gov.in/

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Andhra Pradesh Fisheries set to get a major boost The State Govt has prepared plans to make the State a world ‘aqua hub’ by increasing fish production from 25 lakh tonnes (February 2017) to 42 lakh tonnes with a GVA (Gross Value Added) of Rs. 80,000 crore by 2019-20. The Planning Department has given an important place to fisheries in the socio-economic scenario of the Sunrise State. Andhra ranks first in total fish and shrimp production and contributes more than 70% of cultured shrimp produced in the country. The State ranks third in global shrimp production (0.3 million tons) and sixth in aquaculture production (1.57 million tonnes). Andhra is contributing 1.19% of global and 20.77% of national fish production (2014-15), according to the Socio Economic Survey 2016-17. It would be interesting to see how Andhra does this. It has already proved to be number one in India today.

West Bengal Fisheries dept set to utilise rain water to augment fish production A welcome move by W Bengal fisheries department, this can have multiple advantages provided first existing small tanks are revived, catchment is reforested where feasible and then only go for new small dams, and that too after free, prior and informed consent by the local communities.

Report To save an ecology less-explored All is not well in the northern Eastern Ghats. An analysis of forest change using Geographic Information System (GIS) software reveals that total forest cover across Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary and its buffer forests decreased from 2,448 sq km in 1991 to 1,799 sq km in 2014 a loss of 649 sq km in the last two decades. Each year, 28 sq km of forests are converted to non-forest areas on an average. This is significantly higher than the Hansen global forest loss study estimate for the region, a study that used time-series analysis of satellite images to characterise forest extent and annual change in forest cover globally. Detailed article about Eastern Ghats.

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Report Coast to coast: stories from the Arabian Sea The endangered Arabian Sea humpback whale lives in the continental shelf from Yemen to western India. They have been studied along the coast of Oman for 17 years. Their songs have been recorded with the help of underwater acoustic devices and individuals have been identified through photo-identification of fins and flukes, showing that most of the 80-odd whales there stay along the Oman coast throughout the year. An ecologist chases the song of the humpbacked whale along India’s west coast—and packs in some shark research as well.

The Sanctuary Panna Wilderness Forever Photography Contest 2017 – Call For Entries – Last date April 30, 2017!! Multiple wards, get published in the prestigious Sanctuary Magazine and more!!  

Movie Review कड़वी हवा का जिक्र एक मीठा एहसास  इस बार के नेशनल अवार्ड में सामाजिक मुद्दों पर फिल्में बनाने वाले फिल्म निर्देशक नील माधब पांडा की ताजा फिल्म ‘कड़वी हवा’ का विशेष तौर पर जिक्र (स्पेशल मेंशन) किया गया। स्पेशल मेंशन में फिल्म की सराहना की जाती है और एक सर्टिफिकेट दिया जाता है, बस! बॉलीवुड से गायब होते सामाजिक मुद्दों के बीच सूखा और बढ़ते जलस्तर के मुद्दों पर बनी कड़वी हवा की सराहना और सर्टिफिकेट मिलना राहत देने वाली बात है। फिल्म की कहानी दो ज्वलन्त मुद्दों के इर्द-गिर्द घूमती है-जलवायु परिवर्तन से बढ़ता जलस्तर व सूखा। फिल्म में एक तरफ सूखाग्रस्त बुन्देलखण्ड है तो दूसरी तरफ ओड़िशा के तटीय क्षेत्र हैं। बुन्देलखण्ड पिछले साल भीषण सूखा पड़ने के कारण सुर्खियों था। खबरें यह भी आई थीं कि अनाज नहीं होने के कारण लोगों को घास की रोटियाँ खानी पड़ी थी। कई खेतिहरों को घर-बार छोड़कर रोजी-रोजगार के लिये शहरों की तरफ पलायन करना पड़ा था।

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 10 April 2017 & DRP News Bulletin 03 April 2017

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