DRP News Bulletin 01 May 2017 (Ken Betwa won’t help, but here is what can REALLY help Bundelkhand)

Union Water Ministry has launched an extensive water conservation program for drought prone areas of Bundelkhand, Marathwada, Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput in Odisha on April 28, 2017 at Bandri, Sagar Madhya Pradesh. As per report, the Water Ministry has prepared a master plan for artificial recharge of ground water in Bundelkhand region.

In UP region of Bundelkhand, around 1100 percolation tanks, 14000 small check dams/Nala bunds and 7200 Recharge pits/shafts have been identified. In MP region of Bundelkhand, around 2000 percolation tanks, 55000 small check dams/Nala bunds and 17000 Recharge shafts have been identified. She said as a part of ground water exploration, 234 wells in UP are proposed to be constructed in five districts of Bundelkhand i.e., Banda, Hamirpur, Jalaun, Chitrakoot and Mahoba. As a part of ground water exploration, 259 wells in MP are proposed to be constructed in six districts of Bundelkhand.

In Marathwada region seven schemes with target to bridge 53365 ha gap between IPC and IPU is being proposed. The scheme will benefit Aurangabad, Latur, Nanded, Prabhani, Nanded, Solapur and Osmanabad districts and involve an expenditure of Rs. 250 crore. In Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) region of Odisha, nine projects with target to cover 0.68 lakh ha of potential under the scheme to bridge the gap between PIC and IPU is being proposed. The scheme will benefit Malkangiri, Bolangir, Nuapada, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Bargarh districts of KBK region. 305 wells have been constructed in the region.

Similarly, a groundbreaking 10 billion rupee ($166 million) program aims to capture rain to recharge groundwater sources. Under the scheme, financed by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), World Bank and Odisha state government, recharge shafts will be installed along with 10,000 storage tanks between 2017 and 2021. Dug to a depth of 3.5 metres, these are to permeate a layer of clay soil that otherwise holds water near the surface, where it is liable to evaporate.

Here is a 30 minutes current affair discussion featuring SANDRP coordinator on All India Radio, on the occasion of Uma Bharti launching water conservation program in Bundelkhand, Marathwada and KBK districts.

At the same time, despite cultural and societal differences 10 villages in Panna district have been repairing pond to meet water demands. These villages have established a good example of “governance by the people, with the people, for the people”. The villagers have also established the importance of Talab in the context of geographical and climatic conditions of Bundelkhand when govt wants to push for Ken-Betwa river link which has more cons than pros.

On the contrary, in a significant development, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) on April 25, 2017 has reportedly agreed in principle to give a green signal to Ken Betwa link project  without insisting for reducing height of its proposed dam. As suspected, FAC promptly climbed down, or rather rolled over for the Ken Betwa Clearance, but this will make their lives more difficult when the clearance is challenged. Amazingly, the report seems to suggest the statutory clearance is to come before Modi govt’s birthday!! So now statutory committees function as per the ruling party’s whims?

As per another news report FAC in its meeting on April 25, 2017 have reached a compromise with the union water resources ministry regarding certain riders it had recommended during its meeting last month. The climb down of the FAC, especially relenting on its recommendation to reduce the height of the project dam by 5m, came in the wake of a letter that water resources minister Uma Bharti wrote to the her colleague Anil Dave, on April 12, 2017.  This only confirms how FAC has rolled over to clear Ken Betwa Link in its meeting on April 25, but this will only make the rescind legally difficult to support.

Meanwhile another new report says that the controversial Ken-Betwa link project will be delayed further and take more time to commence, as some Supreme Court’s (SC) concerns are yet to be addressed. As per Uma Bharti the issue is being looked into by a committee of the apex court. Interestingly Uma Bharti had on Sunday (Apr 30, 2017) said that all the clearances have been obtained and now the matter is pending with the SC. During her Narmada Seva Yatra in Dindori, she had also said that the project will take off as soon as the SC clears it. This is another falsehood from the minister about Ken Betwa project. The Environment and Forest clearance letters to the project is still not issued and cannot be issued soon, considering the various conditions by statutory committees.

This is worth to note that Govt of India and World Bank efforts do not inspire much confidence while the initiative taken up by villagers have been successful. Its also worth to mention that does such govt initiatives inspire confidence when govt is also doing all kind of manipulations and violation of statutory and participative democracy norms while  pushing destructive projects like Ken Betwa link. 

HYDRO POWER

Arunachal and Assam CMs promises to put lower Subansiri Project on track Arunachal CM Pema Khandu and Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal on April 24, 2017 has assured  Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal to put long stalled 2000 Mw Lower Subansiri Project back on fast track immediately. The power minister has also reportedly taken a comprehensive review of issues relating to Power Hydro Power Development of Arunachal Pradesh. CM Pema Khandu also informed that Kameng (600 Mw) and Pare (110 Mw) hydropower projects are scheduled to be commissioned this year after much delay, He has also requested Goyal to advise NEEPCO to complete these two projects this year only without further delay. Apparently, Kameng is projected for completion for Jan 2018 and Pare by Dec 2017. Such assertions would not help until the outstanding issues about the project are resolved to the satisfaction of agitating groups.

Himachal Pradesh Hydropower company in dock for ‘usurping’ tribals’ land The administration in tribal Bharmour sub-division of Chamba district has launched a probe into the 36 bighas of tribal land ‘fraudulently’ transferred in the name of a private hydro-power company in revenue record.  The company, GMR Group, which is executing 180 Mw Holi-Bajoli power project in the area, has reportedly also raised a loan of ₹1,405 crore from the banks by mortgaging the land. It is worth mentioning that being a tribal area, no one from outside the state can purchase land in Bharmour sub-division. The land can be, however, leased out for various purposes.

DAMS

Uttarakhand Govt to sign pact on Jamrani dam project With a BJP-led govts at the helm of affairs in both Uttarakhand and UP, the matter is ambling towards a final solution on Jamrani dam. The state govt is on the verge of signing the MoU with the Uttar Pradesh govt for starting construction on dam project within a month. The 13.06 meter high dam was envisaged in 1975 on the Gola river of Kathgodam area in Nainital district with an estimated cost of Rs 927.93 lakh but its construction could not be started due to various reasons. Now the total cost of the project is estimated Rs 2,350.56 crore, out of which 25% of the cost (Rs 595 crore will be borne by the UP govt and the remaining  will be borne by the state govt.

Rajasthan Activists question safety report on Fatehsagar dam in Udaipur Environmentalists have raised questions on the competency of experts from the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee, who submitted a report affirming the safety of the Fatehsagar dam wall. The report was submitted to Udaipur Municipal Corporation (UMC) in connection with the erection of statues at Vibhuti Park, a project that began seven years ago, on Fatehsagar Lake. In its report, the NIH team had held that there was no evident threat to the dam wall due to the construction work. Activists Anil Mehta and G P Soni, a retired officer from the water resources department, have served a memorandum to the UMC demanding a reinvestigation by experts who have ample experience in dealing with dam safety issues. Mehta, who has been spearheading the campaign against the unscientific construction, said that the slopes of the dam had collapsed during the course of construction and there were visible cracks on the roadside tiles on the embankment.

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Haryana No water supply from Kaushalya Dam for now The supply from Kaushalya Dam has exhausted and HUDA will stop drawing water from it. The reservoir has reached the 459-m mark which is its ‘dead storage’. This much water needs to be retained in the reservoir, which means no more water will be available from it for the city.

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS

MANTHAN Report Inland Waterways: A Strategic Status Report In earlier times, we shaped our boats to fit our rivers. Now, we are shaping our rivers to fit the size of our vessels. Inland waterways possibly represent the biggest intervention in our rivers, second only to large dams. WOW: Possibly first ever independent strategic report on Govt of India’s River Navigation Plans, report authored by Shripad Dharmadhikary and Jinda Sandbhor. 

RIVERS

Center PM asks states to replicate Jalyukta Shivar to tackle water crisis Amazing,  PM recommends that Jal Yukta Shivar model be followed in other states and a number of states including Karnataka, Rajasthan, UP, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and MP have shown interest! If Deepening, Widening and straightening the rivers gets taken up in other states, the way Maharashtra has taken up, if the groundwater fed farm ponds and large irrigation projects get taken up in other states on Maharashtra model, who can save India’s rivers, waters and groundwater aquifers? Interestingly, this says Mah is releasing 2.65 TMC of water to Karnataka, likely in Krishna basin, would like to know where and how this is happening 

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Tamil Nadu Cooum from a holy river to sewer carrier One of the shortest rivers to drain into the Bay of Bengal, the Cooum is now a local synonym for an open sewer and is generally considered to be beyond the realms of redemption. Though pollution is a huge concern today, the Cooum stopped flowing mainly due to diversion of water for municipal supply. This uncovers many cultural issues related to river Cooum in Chennai.

NARMADA Madhya Pradesh NGT notices over mega event at Narmada’s source NGT has sought to know from the State Govt measures taken or planned to avoid pollution of Narmada river at its source, Amarkantak, where five lakh people are expected to gather for the concluding ceremony of Narmada Seva Yatra on May 15, 2017. The tribunal has summoned Annuppur collector, officials of the Amarkantak municipal board, state forest department and the urban development department on April 27, 2017 and sought their response in this regard. Narmada has been facing various threats and receiving pollutants from all kinds of sources over the years. Alarming indeed, 5 lakh to gather at Narmada source on May 15 in the name of Narmada Seva Yatra, including PM. NGT has rightly raised questions and hope it does not do the same mistake as that on Yamuna when it allowed Sri Ravishankar to hold the meeting on Yamuna floodplains, destroying them in the process.

Gujarat Govt discriminating against tribals in Narmada water Ahead of the Rahul Gandhi’s rally in tribal-dominated Narmada district, party leader Ahmed Patel today accused the state govt of giving a “preferential treatment” to corporate houses over tribals in allocation of water of Narmada river. He also alleged that the state govt has “failed to quench thirst of tribals” living near Sardar Sarovar dam. While what Congress is saying is true, but one wonders why they are realising NOW when this is the situation for long and they are equally to be blamed for this.

Report The Thirsty River Because the Narmada has been blocked by so many dams and its waters no longer reach the sea, the sea has started a march inward.  The situation of Narmada is possibly worse than what is portrayed here, even as the Environment Sub Group of Narmada Control Authority meet tomorrow (May 1) to decide about permission to close the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, which will completely destroy the river and the upstream people, and which has no real justification.

BRAHMAPUTRA Reviving the Brahmaputra The Brahmaputra lacks basic navigational aids like channel marks for day navigation as well as night navigation aids, although there is an effort to fix this. More importantly the flow of the Brahmaputra is said to have declined by some 4% in the past four decades.  The rise in temperature due to climate change tends to change the snow and glacier covers of the Himalayas and subsequently change the flow scenarios of the river. The monsoon flow of the river may increase while the lean period flow may decrease.  This is not something that a quick fix of the infrastructure is going to be able to deal with. Such reports need to take a much more critical look at the plans, their impacts and viability, rather than just reproduce what the govt plans to do.

INDUS Massive hunt on for missing Indus dolphins  As per the report, only four of the 18-35 Indus River dolphins have been located in the Beas following a drastic cut in the water flow to enable de-siltation and repair of canal gates at the Harike barrage. This has set alarm bells ringing among the wildlife lover and experts as some of the dolphins could have been swept into the canals or the Satluj downstream of the barrage posing a high chance of mortality for them. It is worth to note that Indus River dolphin (Platanista minor) is one of the world’s rarest mammals and the second most endangered freshwater river dolphin. The tiny population on the Beas is the only one surviving in India.

This is so sad: According to Gunbir Singh chairman WWF, Punjab the pond areas in different pockets of the Harike wetland have dried up. He squarely blames the sudden stopping of waters for the rampant destruction of aquatic life. He also said that at least 90 per cent of rare species of fish and turtle are dead. The Indus dolphin, the pride of this wetland, is in danger too. To make matters worse, encroachers have stepped up activities on the dry beds. While the Irrigation Department blames the Forest Department for its failure to take timely measures, the latter, denying rare species have been lost, say Irrigation officials have been “dilly dallying” on releasing water into the wetland. Normally 30,000 cusecs of water flows into the Harike wetland, a confluence of the Sutlej and Beas rivers. However, it measures just 3,770 cusecs as of now.

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GANGA Op-Ed  Save Gang, Sully the Ganga Nachiket Kelkar warns: To put it straight, the scale of river “development” and destruction imagined by the waterways plans is monstrous… In February and March 2017, when we were conducting fieldwork, intensive dredging was going on at six stretches between Buxar and Sahebganj, a distance of over 450 km. Large ships have started plying regularly. At Patna, work on the Gai Ghat port terminal is also in full swing. Digging up Gangaji to make a highway means bulldozing our lives. Sarkaar garib machhuare ke pet pe laath maar raha hai (They are kicking us in our stomachs),” says Amit Sahni (name changed), a leader of the Kagzi Tola fishing settlement at Kahalgaon. Unfortunately, Nachiket puts too much hope in the Uttarakhand HC order. There is not much scope for hope there.

Report Ganga: An unholy mess Why successive efforts to clean up the holy river have failed, and what is needed to restore its waters.  Good to see this comprehensive report on Ganga.

YAMUNA SC asks NGT to monitor steps to clean Yamuna After monitoring the govt’s efforts to clean Yamuna for over two decades, the Supreme Court decided on April 24, 2017 to entrust the task to the NGT to clean the river which has become more polluted over the years. SC said that the tribunal is already looking into the issue and there should not be parallel proceedings. The bench expressed concern over the growing pollution level in Yamuna despite its efforts of the last 23 years and spending of around Rs 4,439 crore by various governments. In another landmark event, the Supreme Court, after handling Yamuna Pollution case for 23 years since 1994, during the period Rs 4988 Cr have been spent to clean up the river, but the state of the river has only worsened, as the SC has admitted, has handed over the case to NGT. This marks another failure of the judiciary in India in achieving any improvement in the river pollution, similar to the case of Ganga earlier this year.

SAND MINING

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National Illegal sand miners in India make Rs. 1,611-cr profit every year A documentary by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has claimed that India is facing a serious environmental crisis with rampant illegal sand mining fetching Rs1,611 crore in profits every year. The 20-minute documentary ‘Line in the Sand’ was screened in Mumbai by Awaaz Foundation on April 23, 2017 that highlights the illegal sand mining trade, the mafia involved and identified areas such as Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, where regular sand excavation using machines is carried out. The United Nations had stated that illegal sand mining is a major environmental concern which may threaten the existence of over 70% of the world’s beaches. It contributes to land erosion, compromising water security, affecting climate and many more fatal calamities.

Uttar Pradesh DSP attacked at home by mining mafia Enraged after a tractor carrying sand was seized by Shahjahanpur deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and circle officer Arun Kumar, over a dozen men from the sand mafia allegedly attacked Kumar’s residence late on April 23, 2017 night. Kumar, who was present with his wife at home, fought back along with other policemen on duty, and later launched a manhunt to arrest the assailants. Officials said police had been routinely getting complaints regarding illegal sand mining in Sindhauli block of Shahjahanpur. Two major rivers, Gomti and Khannaut, pass through the district and sand mafias are quite active in the area.

Punjab 3 illegal sand mining cases in daily Punjab’s river basins, which are already facing reduced water flow and pollution are also being systematically depleted by the sand mafia who continue to mine it without fear. According to one estimate more than three cases of illegal mining are being registered in the state daily. To make matters worse, Punjab has had just one geologist and no mining inspector, operating from the dilapidated mining headquarters in Chandigarh for the past decade. The sanctioned number of inspectors is 32. Environmentalists believe that the illegal sand trade in Punjab has led to dire consequences in the past five years: Both urban and rural housing has becoming unaffordable for the common man while construction firms as well as retailers have seen massive losses because of the high sand price. Government officials say that the mafia creates an artificial shortage for sand in the market, not letting its price fall.

WETLANDS

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Karnataka Activists question govt’s silence on clarifying violations near lakes and wetlands Today the biggest problem lake activists face is the lack of proper documents which leads to encroachers claiming they are in the right. They say when citizens stand together, everything is possible. Such is the case of those residing in Thubrahalli village. After noticing cases of encroachment near the Bellandur Amanikere, they immediately informed all the concerned officials and kept track of the progress of their complaints. Many lake activists want the state govt to come out with an action plan instead of focusing on many activities and completing none properly.

WATER OPTIONS

Kerala Check-dam that made history springs back to life A natural ‘poonchira’ (check-dam) that passed into history at Ilaveezhapoonchira, near Thodupuzha, has got a rebirth. Myth and history intermingle at this scenic spot, located 3,200 ft above sea level in Kottayam district, bordering Idukki. Though the older generation claims the existence of the natural check-dam, it was filled with mud and rubble over the passage of years. How the perennial water source sustained itself on the peak of the hill, however, remains a mystery. The myth regarding Ilaveezhapoonchira is that Panchali, along with the five Pandavas, visited the hilltop during the days of ‘vanavasa’ and had a bath in the natural poonchira. The water was clear and pure, without a leaf in it giving it the name Ilaveezhapoonchira.

New Book Water Harvesting & Recycling- Indian Experience The recently launched ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana ‘ has put greater emphasis on water harvesting and adoption of sustainable water conservation practices to harness inevitable runoff and its recycling for supplemental irrigation. Though rainwater harvesting has been practiced since time immemorial, the information on location-specific water harvesting techniques is scattered. This book compiles and collates knowledge on this subject from different agro-climatic regions of India. It would immensely benefit the planners, researchers, students and field functionaries who are actively engaged in conservation and management of water resources.

GROUND WATER

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Veditum Blog Open well in a river, the story of Semara by Siddharth Agarwal While walking thousands of kilometres along the river Ganga for Veditum’s Moving Upstream project, I hardly found functional wells except for a few blessed localities that had still preserved this age old culture. These were villages that still had alternatives between drinking fluoride/iron affected hand pump water and buying cooled jars of water that promised to be clean. This story is about Semara village in Ghazipur district of UP where I encountered a rather strange kind of well, with water on the outside. This is such an amazing and stunning story. Please read and share.

WATER

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National ISRO’s satellite data helps fight battle for water Space-based information released by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in March 2015 based on satellite based studies for nearly 15 years, has assisted in building 9,200 recharge structures and over 3 lakh wells across the country, which is dealing with the effects of another bad-monsoon year that went by. According to an assessment report accessed from the department of space, the data has been a little more than 90 per cent accurate. While Bhuvan Bhujal, a portal launched two years ago, is providing continuous information to the Centre that has helped identify prospective sites for groundwater and suitable sites for recharging, more states are also seeking Isro’s help. Last year, the Karnataka government made an official request seeking satellite-based information on probable water sources and Isro immediately began work.

AGRICULTURE

Maharashtra Early summer heat dries up recovery hopes for sugar Is this not an opportunity in disguise to reduce area under sugarcane in Maharashtra, a completely inappropriate crop in most of the state considering the water situation? 2016-17 was a disaster for Maharashtra’s sugar industry, with mills crushing a mere 372.45 lakh tonnes (lt) of cane during the season, compared with 742.94 lt in 2015-16 and 930.41 lt in 2014-15. Sugar production, too, plunged to 41.87 lt, from 84.15 lt and 105.14 lt for the preceding two seasons. Any hope of recovery in the cane crushing season starting in Sept 2017 is dashed:  The unusual heat wave in April, coupled with the absence of any pre-monsoon showers normally seen during March, has now raised worries about the standing cane.” With lower (about 30%) area under high yielding ratoon variety, compared to 40-45% in normal year, and current water stress, the hopes of quick rebound seems unrealistic.

Op-Ed From plate to plough: The faraway fields by Ashok Gulati , Siraj Hussain All the flagship programs launched by Modi Govt in farming sector are dwarfed when one looks at the money being spent on food and fertiliser subsidies, which exceeds Rs 3,00,000 crore (including arrears) in 2017. The key message: On the exact progress, out of the 23 (BIG IRRIGATION) projects to be completed (under AIBP) by March 2017, none was actually completed. Secondly, the claim about adding 8.13 lakh ha of additional area under micro irrigation to make the total to 9 m ha is not backed by any credible ground survey. The third message is that the agri GDP growth in 3 years of Modi rule was 1.7%. It would be useful to know if anyone has studied how good this is and if it actually helps accelerate the groundwater use in already over exploited areas.

New Book Consumption of Millets in Odisha The production and consumption patterns of millets, primarily ragi and small millets, in six rainfed districts of Odisha, India are presented in this data brief. While the monthly per capita consumption of millets are above average of the state consumption in 5 of the 6 districts, there is a declining trend of area and production of millets in all the selected districts during 2001 to 2011. The data summarized in this brief recommends the need for regionally differentiated and specific local strategies and solution for the improvements of production and consumption of millets.

DROUGHT 2017

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Report Parched earth, pouring pain The New Indian Express is carrying a series of reports on the unprecedented drought in South India this year. Here they say 260 dists and 330 m people across India are affected this year, in Karnataka, 160/176 talukas are declared drought hi, Karnataka has faced 13 droughts in last 15 yrs and this year Tamil Nadu is facing the worst rainfall of 140 years.

FLOOD 2017

Jammu & Kashmir As lush valleys turn to concrete, fears of flooding rise Since 1989 some 1,300 hectares of cropland surrounding his village have become residential neighbourhoods. Srinagar is one of the 100 fastest-growing urban areas in the world, according to a report published in 2011 by the City Mayors Foundation. But locals and experts say that Kashmiris need to keep their agricultural land to protect Srinagar from flooding, especially as the changing climate has increased the risk of heavy downpours.

ENERGY OPTIONS

National IIT scientists create low-cost, more efficient solar cells using Jamun Scientists at IIT Roorkee have used the juicy, delectable Indian summer fruit Jamun to create inexpensive and more efficient solar cells. Researchers used naturally occurring pigment found in jamun as an inexpensive photosensitiser for Dye Sensitised Solar Cells (DSSCs) or Gratzel cells.  Interesting to see IIT scientists using Jamun as a source of dye/ pigment for solar cells. 

SOUTH ASIA

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Nepal Experts warn of landslides this monsoon Experts have warned of large number of landslides during the monsoon if moderate rainfall continues in the pre-monsoon season. As per geologist Ranjan Kumar Dahal the number of landslides will be higher than usual this monsoon whether or not there is heavy rainfall this season, if the pre-monsoon weather system remains active. He also said that even mild rain can trigger a landslide if there has been incessant rainfall a month before. In Nepal, the monsoon season generally begins from June 10 and lasts until Sept 22 every year.

Interview Bangladeshis won’t accept anything short of Teesta treaty The Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh between 2007 and 2009, Mohammed Touhid Hossain a well-known authority on Bangladesh-India relations spoke to thethirdpole.net on the aftermath of PM Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Delhi, especially about the failure to finalise the Teesta water sharing agreement between Bangladesh and India. The interview makes some clear statements about Teesta water sharing, Ganga water sharing and lack of progress about water sharing from other rivers between India and Bangladesh.

CHINA

Hydropower boom outpaces regional electricity demand This interesting RARE article about China hydropower and electricity dynamics asks, why is China and specifically Yunnan province continues to push hydropower in spite of apparent access. The answer does not sound very convincing: If oversupply is already apparent, and if much of China’s new renewable generation is either curtailed or not connected to the grid, then why continue large-scale hydropower development in Yunnan and neighbouring regions? Just as planners are keen to export Yunnan’s hydropower to Guangdong, China as a whole is keen to export its planning expertise. Plans for region-wide power grids linking ASEAN states will facilitate transmission of electricity across national borders, even if the financial arrangements for such transfers prove more complicated. And because hydropower output can be changed almost instantaneously it can effectively balance the increasing share of intermittent renewable electricity sources on grids.

The last part would increasingly less attractive, considering the huge impacts and costs of Hydro and likely development of cheaper storage options. This is also not convincing considering the huge costs and impacts of hydro: As leaders in China and elsewhere look to reduce dependence on polluting energy sources, hydropower’s role will only grow in importance.

It rightly ends: Small or large, all dams displace people, disrupt ecosystems, limit sediment transport, contribute to downstream erosion, alter flow regimes, and create a host of other problems. Overbuilding and under-utilising dams in sensitive areas of acute cultural and biological diversity will only worsen those impacts. 

THE REST OF THE WORLD

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USA Trump’s border wall could have lasting impact on rivers The giant wall that President Donald Trump wants to build on the border with Mexico will cost billions of dollars, disrupt numerous communities and sever the migration routes of hundreds of wildlife species. The wall, intended to halt illegal immigration, would also block many rivers and streams. This consequence has not yet been discussed much. The wall itself could restrict water flow important to farms and cities on both sides of the border. This could worsen water pollution and lead to flooding disasters. It might also change groundwater recharge in areas fed by rivers. All this, in turn, could affect treaties and water-sharing agreements along the border — both internationally and between neighboring communities within the U.S. Some implications of the wall proposal between US and Mexico.

Another giant California dam has downstream residents worried Deep in the Trinity Alps, 130 miles northwest of the troubled Oroville Dam, local officials are raising alarms about another earthen dam with documented weaknesses and limited capacity for releasing the water that has poured in from storms and melting snow. Trinity Lake, the state’s third-largest reservoir, was filled to 97 percent of its storage capacity April 25, 2017 and a snowpack estimated at 150 percent of normal still looms over the watershed. Concerns of safety at another giant earthen dam in California, USA, at Trinity Dam.

CLIMATE CHANGE

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Pakistan Govt passes climate change act Experts warn the new climate bill needs to be backed up by strong government support and funding for adaptation projects on the ground, rather than used simply as a means to attract international funds. There are just a few countries like Finland, United Kingdom, Denmark, Kenya, Australia, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Micronesia and the Philippines that have passed climate change acts, now Pakistan has joined the list on March 17, 2017 with passage of an act on Climate Change, with provision of a national institute on climate change. But many are sceptical and fear it may be just a paper exercise. There is also issue if this takes away the mandate of the provinces.

Tamil Nadu Water crisis is a manifestation of climate change This is the fourth article from an eight-part series of ground reports on the ongoing water crisis in south India. In this piece, the author writes about the effects of global climate change and extreme weather events that Tamil Nadu has been facing.

ENVIRONMENT

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Op-Ed A sparsely built coastline is our best insurance against an angry sea by Nityanand Jayaraman The union environment ministry is reportedly working to replace existing coastal protection rules with a permissive law that will allow reclamation of seas and coastal wetlands. The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification through its various avatars has been seen as a hindrance to “development” as it restricts a number of activities on the coast.  The current CRZ Notification, though flawed and merrily violated, has elements that can protect coastal environment and fisher livelihoods.  Rather than undo this executive legislation, the govt should strengthen it and make it an act of Parliament. Nityanand Jayaraman is brilliant as usual.

National When streets get smart Urbanisation continues unabated but most of its 53-million plus cities offer an appallingly low quality of life. Ten of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India as per a report by the WHO. Despite this, most of India is now aspiring to produce smart cities. With the launch of the ambitious smart cities mission by the Ministry of Urban Development in June 2015, this aspiration has got an impetus. This tries to demystify the smart city concept.

Haryana Fish farming on 10,000 waterlogged acres in Charkhi Dadri Waterlogged for years and unfit for agriculture, an area of around 10,000 acres in 35 villages of Charkhi Dadri district is set to get a new lease of life with the state government’s decision to start fish farming there. The agriculture ministry report revealed that over 4.5 lakh hectares land in Haryana was affected to waterlogging, leaving farmers in dire straits. In the first phase of the fish farming plan, a pilot project is to be run in Jhajjar and Charkhi Dadri. The govt would take the land on lease from owners and share the income with them. In Charkhi Dadri alone, 35 villages have been facing waterlogging problem for five years. Under water for so long, the land has turned unfit for agriculture. Could this have adverse impact on the surrounding lands. One hopes there are is assessment of long term impacts.

Also see, feedback from Prateek Kumar (based in the same area n doing a summer project entitled ‘problem identification of water issues in this region’ with ACWADAM) on SANDRP facebook postJust at a distance of 5 kms from these water logged area, dark zone declared ‘badhra’ block is there. Both the blocks, Charkhi dadri n badhra, comes under the command area of Loharu lift irrigation canal (LLIC). This canal has a high tail ender problem, no WUA in place. Water logging in this area is mainly due to paddy cropping through canal irrigation. Even canal too had a high rate of water losses due to single layer brick (SLB) lining. Instead of investing in fisheries in this area if rehabilitation of canal and by regulating paddy cropping, much better results can be achieved.

That approach can help this area in two ways, first the water logging issue will be addressed n if the same water made to reach the notified area, it can help their in checking the declining water table. As in the notified area there is high presence of ‘johads’ is there n at present their only source of water is canal water. If it is made to reach to those ponds, it can contribute to deeper aquifers through the recharge shafts.

Doing fisheries there can further create problems in Charkhi dadri area, as if the water will be made available for fisheries by canal, it may leads to further expansion of these water logged areas.”

Uttar Pradesh Centre ready to rectify lapses in Welspun’s power plant in UP THE MOST SHOCKING aspect here is the contention of the MoEF that the Welspun’s 1320 MW Thermal Power Project near Ganga in Mirzapur be allowed to continue, in spite of presence of gun trotting people at public hearing, fraudulent EIA and compromised appraisal process, that lead to Env Clearance in Aug 2014. How can MoEF talk about PPA and investments since 2010 when EC was only given in Aug 2014, that too violating all norms? It seems MoEF considers nothing of such gross violations. Congratulations to Debadityo Sinha and and Parul Gupta and also hope that NGT rebukes the MoEF rather than review its order.

Centre Rs 3 per unit to be benchmark price for power in medium term: Piyush Goyal The govt is looking at Rs 3 per unit as the benchmark price for power from all energy sources like thermal, solar and wind in the medium term. The govt’s aim is to ensure power at Rs 3 per unit irrespective of source in the medium term, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said at the annual session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). In that case, any hydropower project with cost of electricity above Rs 3 per unit wont be viable? Particularly since there is no value on peaking power, nor any attempt to optimise peaking power generation from hydro, nor even assessing the costs and impacts of peaking power generation. As per another news report India’s peak demand in 2016-17 was 165.2 GW, when total installed capacity was 300 GW.

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 24 April 2017 & DRP News Bulletin 17 April 2017

3 Comments on “DRP News Bulletin 01 May 2017 (Ken Betwa won’t help, but here is what can REALLY help Bundelkhand)

  1. I just wish to enquire if anyone is having idea ,how to detect water storage structures. How to identify what type of structure should be placed?

    Like

    • Pooja,
      Appropriate Design of water storage structure depends on a lot of factors, including purpose, objective, catchment, rainfall, geology, topography, hydrology, and many other factors.

      Like

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