DRP News Bulletin 17 July 2017 (Northeast Continues To Experience Floods As Disaster Majorly Because Of Man-made Reasons) 

Since May 2017, several flood related incidents have taken place in the North East showing how our shortsightedness in understanding the rivers, how our thoughtless construction along the rivers in the name of flood control and how our careless operation of dams have converted floods into a disaster.

At the same time, there have been incidents raising suspicion over quality of construction of built and ongoing dams. Then the news of NHPC being accused of forging Gram Panchayats signs to build 520 MW Teesta IV dam is shocking revelation in itself. Contribution of such factors in worsening the floods is always underplayed. 

The countless landslides and Cyclone Mora (http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cyclone-mora-reaches-northeast-many-houses-damaged-in-mizoram/story-UzcDuPOge0drAklftXW38L.html) have already left the region crippling, despite this there is no regular monitoring of flood situation and no timely warning being issued by States or Central Agencies about the rainfall and floods. All this is enough to prove that the ongoing flood devastation in North East has very much to do with the way we are destroying rivers with hydro projects, dams and embankments and disturbing the fragile environment of North East. These incidents also put question mark before govt agencies which are first pushing the destruction in the sensitive region and then lagging way behind in monitoring and issuing timely precautionary warnings.  

Firstly an informative piece has underlined various reasons from deforestation to climate change in making flood situation worse in Assam. It rightly highlighted how ill planned and aging embankments are turning floods a boon of nature into a bane.

As per report, the embankments built along the Brahmaputra and its 103 tributaries cover over 4,475 km. Most of these structures, constructed 25 to 30 years ago based on the 1954 recommendations of the Rashtriya Barh Ayog, show visible signs of ageing.

The flood situation has been compounded by ageing embankments and other protection measures collapsing. As per officials the embankments in Assam were designed on the basis of flood data of 15 to 20 years prior to their construction and were to remain fit for 25 to 30 years.

It is worth to mention that about 40 years ago, then Assam CM Sarat Chandra Sinha had appealed to the people to learn to live with the river in spate.   http://indianexpress.com/article/india/assam-floods-annual-scourge-with-no-sign-of-solution-in-over-7-decades-4749674/

In second grim incident, improper operation of Ranganadi dam in Assam has created flood in Assam. According to news, the water released from the dam has washed away a 50-metre stretch of an embankment at Bogalijan in Lakhimpur district, about 5km from North Lakhimpur town this morning, flooding new areas of Lakhimpur and posing a threat to the North Lakhimpur town.   http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=jul1017/state050  

The indigenous people of the affected areas have been rendered homeless and are not even getting drinking water. They held NEEPCO responsible for this and demanded compensation for the affected people. They have also warned NEEPCO to be ready to face dire consequences and have to leave Assam and Arunachal Pradesh if it does not compensate the affected. https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170712/jsp/northeast/story_161463.jsp

Further in a clear statement, North East Dialogue Forum has stated that NEEPCO, by releasing huge quantity of water without notice to the downstream areas, is guilty of human rights violations and also ILO convention and has demanded a review of the project operation rules, among other things.  http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=20..150717.jul17

The situation in the north-east state has turned from bad to worse as the rising water levels of the Brahmaputra, Barak and their tributaries has left 39 people dead. At least 23 districts have been inundated and around 15 lakh people are affected because of the heavy rain. Over 48,483 people shifted to 208 relief camps in 16 worse affected districts. 2,498 villages are under water and over 1.4 lakh hectare crop area affected http://indianexpress.com/article/india/assam-floods-heavy-rains-leave-kaziranga-national-park-inundated-animals-being-shifted-to-safe-spots-4746716/

On July 11, 2017 afternoon, 14 people have reportedly died in a massive landslide triggered by flash flood due to incessant rains for last three days in Papumpare district of Arunachal Pradesh.  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/14-people-feared-dead-in-massive-landslide-in-arunachal-pradesh/articleshow/59547064.cms  Here is the link for frightening videos of landslide in Arunachal Pradesh just before July 10, 2017. http://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2017/07/10/arunachal-pradesh/ 

So far Manipur has witnessed 1388.7 mm of rainfall as on July 11 against last year’s record of 1852.4 mm. So far nearly 40,000 hectares of agricultural land, which is about 20% of Manipur’s total agriculture area (1.95 lakh hectare), have been affected by floods. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/manipur-fresh-flood-threat-looms-large-again/story-wLpDfOSh1TEJmuOzboFuxN.html

Meanwhile, precarious cracks have shown on Umiam hydro dam along the NH 40 that connects Guwahati to Shillong creating alarm. http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2017/07/10/cracks-are-showing-on-umiam-hydro-electricity-dam-along-the-busy-national-highway-that-connects-guwahati-to-shillong-and-the-lifeline-of-meghalaya/

In another shocking development, three Lepcha gram panchayats of North Sikkim have accused the district administration of forgery and suppression of facts in furnishing consent under the Forest Rights Act for the 520 MW Teesta stage IV hydel power project. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/teesta-project-panchayats-in-sikkim-accuse-govt-of-forging-their-approval/ It is worth to mention that NHPC has been forced to shut down operation of 132 Mw Teesta Low Dam III project at Ramdi in Darjeeling hills as a precaution after violence in the area due to on goig Gorkhaland stir. http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/nhpc-shuts-down-hydel-power-plant-after-mob-gheraos-plant/59576140

It is also strange that while North East is battling floods, there is no timely updation of flooding monitoring system under National Disaster Management Authority. Till July 12, 2017 the site was updated upto June 04, 2017. Now it has updates for 24 June 2017 and then for 02 July 2017. The website is maintained only twice in the month of June 2017 in place of every week. http://www.ndmindia.nic.in/flood-2017/floodsJune-2017.htm

The latest updates of July 02 are still half month old. http://www.ndmindia.nic.in/flood-2017/floodsJuly-2017.htm, http://www.ndmindia.nic.in/flood-2017/floodsJune-2017.htm

Similarly Central Water Commission has failed in issuing timely flood warning in the affected areas. In fact, there was no update for floods in Ranganadi river, last week.  http://www.india-water.gov.in/ffs/current-flood-forecast/

It is worth to mention that BANGLADESH HAS BETTER FLOOD FORECASTING system than that of India, as SANDRP wrote long back. “India provides data from two points on the Ganga, five on the Brahmaputra, and one each on the Teesta, Feni and Barak rivers, while China provides river flow information from three points on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet.” http://www.sify.com/news/data-from-india-helps-bangladesh-prepare-for-floods-but-assam-reels-news-others-rhnoaghjhcaed.html

HYDRO POWER

Karnataka Small hydro, big damage Small Hydropower Projects (SHPs) or mini hydels are touted as green alternatives for hydropower generation, but are in fact devastating ecosystems in the Western Ghats and the Himalayas. Worse still, they are legally exempt from environmental impact assessments (EIA) and public hearing in India. While more than 1000 such dams have already been commissioned, more than 6000 additional sites have been identified for SHP development. Please learn more about the issue and join our campaign in the link below to provide constructive inputs to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Please so share widely.  http://www.conservationindia.org/campaigns/small-dams-big-problems

Also see, SANDRP blog how a small hydro project in Yamuna valley had unleashed big destruction in the area. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/kharadi-small-hydro-unleashing-big-destruction/ 

National Water crisis is impacting energy supply In 2016 due to water scarcity, 2,100 Mw Farakka coal fired power plant, 1,130 MW Parli power station and 1,720 MW Raichur Thermal Power Station were forced to shut down by a lack of water.

India’s hydropower plants have been badly stricken as well. According to SANDRP hydropower generation has dropped by nearly 20 percent compared to 2015, even as 1.5 GW of new hydro capacity was installed. At one point in early May 2016, for example, the 1 GW Tehri the India’s tallest dam, had no usable water stored in its reservoir on the Bhagirathi River in the Himalayas, a tributary of the upper Ganges River, even though it is designed to hold 2.6 billion cubic meters.

Several such incidents, taken together, underline the severity and importance of the water-energy nexus and the resulting crisis in India. Water and energy systems are closely intertwined; the scarcity of water in the age of climate change has impacted the coal-fired power plants particularly negatively. While water forms an essential component in all stages of energy production and electricity generation, energy is needed to extract, convert, purify, and deliver water for a variety of human uses, and treat wastewater for auxiliary uses. http://thediplomat.com/2017/07/indias-water-energy-nexus/

FLOOD 2017

Gujarat Floods As per reports Tankara town in Morbi district experienced cloud burst with 340 mm rainfall in 24 hours on July 15, 2017. One question that arises is, will the dam filled up under SAUNI project before the monsoon add to the disaster with this heavy rainfall? http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gujarat-floods-rains-water-logging-cloudburst-rajkot/1/1002780.html

As per another report, Chotila town in Surendranagar received 450 mm rainfall in 24 hrs ending at 8 am on July 15. From 8 am to 12 noon on Friday Rajkot city received 176 mm followed Chotila in Surendrnagar 136 mm, Jodia (Jamnagar) 128 mm, Dasada (surendranagar) 121, Lodhika (Rajkot) 106 mm, Kalavad (Jamnagar) 94 mm, Lalpur (Jamnagar) 94 mm and Thangadh (Surendranagar), Morbi, Tankara (Morbi), Viramagam (Ahmedabad) received 71 mm.

Also see, chart of ten rainiest places in India on July 12, 2017

Table-Rainiest-cities-of-India2

https://www.skymetweather.com/content/weather-news-and-analysis/list-of-top-10-rainiest-cities-in-india/

DAMS

Pancheshwar Dam Row इकत्तीस हजार तेईस परिवारों की सभ्यता समा जाएगी पंचेश्वर बाँध में पंचेश्वर बहुउद्देशीय बाँध परियोजना में 60 गाँवों की जमीन ही नहीं एक बड़ी सभ्यतासंस्कृति भी समा जाएगी। बाँध के डूब क्षेत्र में पिथौरागढ़, चंपावत और अल्मोड़ा जनपद के 31023 परिवार रहे हैं। इसके अलावा इन तीन जनपदों के ही 29715 परिवारों की जमीनें भी डूब क्षेत्र में रही हैं। भारत के इस विशाल बाँध का पानी 60 गाँव के लगभग 31023 परिवारों के जीवन को प्रभावित करेगा। आज तक ना तो टिहरी वासियों में सम्पूर्ण खुशहाली का इजहार हुआ और ना ही टिहरी बाँध से 2000 मेगावाट बिजली उत्पादित हुई। बजाय मौजूदा समय में टिहरी बाँध 1000 मेगावाट बिजली का उत्पादन तक पूरा नहीं कर पा रहा है। इस तरह सवाल खड़े हो रहे हैं कि क्या महाकाली पर बनने वाला पंचेश्वर बाँध 10 हजार मेगावाट बिजली का उत्पादन कर पायेगा?  http://hindi.indiawaterportal.org/node/55717

जहां एक तरफ भारत सरकार और नेपाल सरकार उत्तराखण्ड में पंचेश्वर बांध को बनाने की तैयारी में लगी हुयी हैं। वहीं उत्तराखण्ड में बने टिहरी बांध से उजाड़े गये परिवार आज तक पूनर्वास के लिये संघर्ष कर रहे हैं। टिहरी बांध की झील में अपना घर-परिवार खोने वाले 110 से ज़्यादा परिवारों ने पुनर्वास किए जाने पर झील में जलसमाधि लेने की चेतावनी दी है. टिहरी का तल्ला उप्पू गांव झील के पानी में जलमग्न तो हो गया लेकिन अब तक इसके 110 से ज़्यादा परिवारों का पुनर्वास नहीं हो पाया है. अपने घर-खेत डूबने के बाद लोगों ने सुरक्षित स्थानों पर या अपने रिश्तेदारों के यहां शरण ली. ज़्यादातर लोग वर्तमान में नई टिहरी, ऋषिकेश या देहरादून में किराए के कमरों में रह रहे हैं. http://hindi.news18.com/news/uttarakhand/tehri-garhwal-well-get-drowned-in-tehri-lake-if-compensation-issue-not-settled-1045679.html

Amid this Uattar Pradesh and Nepal Govt are reportedly discussing more dams in Uttarakhand. As per Suresh Chandra, principal secretary irrigation, Uttar Pradesh a high-level delegation headed by state minister for irrigation and flood control Dharmpal Singh, along with a team of engineers, had visited Nepal recently and discussed flood management in Nepal and UP. Following this, there are talks for construction of dams, including one in Champawat in Uttaralkhand to control the floods.  There are five rivers, including Gandak and Rapti coming from Nepal towards UP. This is very strange that UP and Nepal are discussing dams construction and Uttarakhand and it seems Uttarakhand Govt has almost no say in it. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/up-nepal-discuss-dam-in-ukhand/articleshow/59588855.cms

DRY DAMS  Dams in Krishna, Godavari Basin remain dry amid monsoon Even in second week of July, water levels in major reservoirs, except a couple of them, in the Krishna basin continue to remain low. The position of current water storage in projects in the Godavari basin is no better. With the weatherman forecasting least possibility of getting heavy rains in the catchment areas till the fourth week of this month, the prospects of reservoirs in the upper reaches of the basin in Maharashtra and Karnakata for now appear very grim.   http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/water-level-of-major-dams-in-krishna-godavari-basins-across-telangana-remains-low/article19253709.ece

Similarly, the Bilaspur dam in Rajasthan has received only 10 cm of water in the first spell of rains and on July 10, 2017, the water level was 311.95 metres. Last year, in the month of June, the water level in dam had gone down to 310.30 metres. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ajmer/bisalpur-dam-receives-only-10-cm-water-this-year/articleshow/59538892.cms

Meanwhile, with water levels in reservoirs plunging to a quarter of their storage capacity and the supply of coal for thermal power stations becoming scarce, Karnataka is staring at a power crisis. As per report, the acute power demand is touching above 9,000MW during peak hours. Karnataka govt has also scaled down the capacity of Mekedatu project from 300-odd MW to 200 MW. The situation of Karnataka proves that Hydro power in is not reliable. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/no-water-karnataka-stares-at-power-crisis/articleshow/59570643.cms

According to another news, Karnataka may stare at dark days ahead as water levels in KPTCL dams reach precarious levels, and is at 25 per cent of the storage capacity. And to complicate matters, coal availability for the thermal power stations has also taken a hit. http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/as-karnataka-stares-at-election-year-water-shortage-pushes-govt-to-power-purchase-to-stave-darkness/59571771

In fact, a weak monsoon has forced many farmers in Dharvad region of the state to water their land with the help of tankers in order to prevent loss of crops for third consecutive year. Reeling under the impact of an acute drought for two consecutive years, these farmers have no choice but cough up thousands of rupees every day for water tankers. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/120717/crisis-dharwad-farmers-rush-for-tankers.html

In a similar development, seeing the water crisis worsening in the Chennai city, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to seek the release of Krishna water through Chembarambakkam lake from Andhra Pradesh that is due in July. But, sources in the Water Resources Department said as the reservoirs are bone dry. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/state-to-seek-krishna-water-release-due-in-july/article19268926.ece

Amid this, seeking complete waiver of farm loans and approval and faster completion of irrigation works like Mahadayi and Kalasa-Banduri Nala, farmers from the Malaprabha basin fields held an overnight dharna at the Renuka Sagar dam site near Savadatti in Belagavi district on July 11, 2017. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/malaprabha-farmers-stage-overnight-dharna-at-dam-site/article19264463.ece

Similarly, demanding water release from Pechiparai dam in Thovalai canal for irrigation in the Thovalai canal, farmers of Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu thronged to the Collectorate with withered crops.  Expecting water release from the dam, farmers had raised crops in their lands however against normal annual norm, no water was released in the canal http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/they-came-with-withered-crop-demanding-water-from-dam/article19256426.ece

CB11FARMER

The drought has fueled water scarcity and competition among various stakeholders is becoming serious. In one more such incident, washermen and farmers in Coimbatore have being fighting over even waste water right.  As per reports, the  Water from the Coimbatore Corporation’s water treatment plant in Velliangadu flowed through Muttukallur, Parapallam, Panapalayam Pudur and reached Thekkampatty, where it entered River Bhavani. In those places, farmers used it to irrigate over 2,000 acre. But, given the drought, a few people had illegally constructed barrages to store water. As a result washermen from dependent on the Coimbatore Corporation-constructed washing facility, are facing difficulties and have set on a protest.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/washermen-seek-water-supply-to-continue-work/article19256372.ece

IRRIGATION

Maharashtra Govt needs 68000 cr to complete irrigation projects The state govt will need Rs 68,000 crore to complete ongoing irrigation projects in the Godavari river basin located in Vidarbha and Marathwada. This is the finding of the state’s first integrated water plan report for the Godavari river basin submitted to CM  Devendra Fadnavis on July 13, 2017. The state has five river basins with the Godavari basin being the largest, contributing to 48% of the state’s water resource.

As per KP Bakshi, former bureaucrat and chairman of the Godavari river basin water plan committee, so far in this basin, across North Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha, 4,325 irrigation projects have been completed and 670 are ongoing. Many of these projects were cleared solely on paper without any scrutiny of water availability and now these should be cross-checked with the integrated plan.

He added that the projects that have been planned in the absence of water availability should be scrapped. We have recommended a go-ahead for 191 ongoing projects and taking up another 94 projects at a later stage.

The three-part report submitted by the Bakshi committee includes mapping of the Godavari basin and water availability as per the tribunal by looking at existing dams, projects and pointing to surplus and no surplus water areas. The report has also proposed financing of these projects up to 2029-30.

According to this report, the earliest a new project can be taken up in Marathwada is in 2020-21, while a new project can be taken up in Vidarbha in 2024-25

The Godavari report will form the backbone for the integrated river basin water plans for the remaining four basins, including Krishna, Tapi, Narmada and Konkan region. Together, these reports will form the integrated water map for the entire state.

The report claims that Fadnavis set the ball rolling for an integrated water use plan for Maharashtra in the aftermath of the scam by implementing the dormant Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority Act and setting up a state water council. The Godavari committee was set up in 2016.  http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-needs-68-000-crore-to-complete-irrigation-projects-in-vidarbha-and-marathwada/story-odc5UQ2Ql2tbMbbRnNKPkL.html

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

SYL Dispute Update The Supreme Court has given a deadline of two months to the Centre to facilitate an amicable settlement between the Haryana and Punjab on Satluj, Yamuna link (SYL) canal. Till such time the states were directed to cease protests. The matter will be heard next on 7 Sept. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/iSUe1cIN1JYrwlVnapEuiP/Supreme-Court-says-its-verdict-on-SYL-canal-issue-has-to-be.html

Following the order, CM of Punjab has asked PM Modi to intervene in the matter. The SC has ordered Punjab to facilitate the construction of canal and think of sharing of water later.The problem is that the previous state govt has denotified the land allotted for the construction of the canal.  http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/syl-row-punjab-cm-captain-amarinder-singh-requests-pm-modi-to-facilitate-talks-with-haryana/story-gNG9aq7SovGeqbngANN5jN.html

As per latest, report PM Modi has called a meeting of chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to reach a negotiated settlement of SYL Canal issue http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/syl-pm-narendra-modi-calls-meeting-of-punjab-haryana-cms/story-UJFjeNw1rX0Rq1EUyroGyL.html

Before this, demanding immediate construction of canal political party in Haryana had blocked the national highways leading to Delhi. http://www.news18.com/news/politics/sutlej-yamuna-link-row-inld-activists-block-roads-along-haryana-punjab-border-1456647.html

Cauvery Dispute Update: Showing concerns over Cauvery tribunal order, Karnataka Govt wants reduction in the quantum of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from 192 tmcft to 132 tmcft. Karnataka Govt also says that the extent of its drought-prone area was 21,870 sq. km as against 12,790 sq. km in Tamil Nadu. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-can-claim-only-132-tmcft-water/article19276027.ece

RIVERS

Godavari Can technology revive a river A group of U.S. researchers is working on a system to map undulating pollution trends in the Godavari, India’s second longest river. Using a mix of methods, including satellite-monitoring, traversing stretches of the river to collect water samples and using special sensors to measure bacterial and chemical pollution, the researchers are trying to develop a cost-effective forecast system. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/the-project-started-eight-months-ago-and-has-so-far-identified-two-hotspots-of-pollution/article19259008.ece

Tamil Nadu Cauvery delta shrinks by 20%, sediments supply go down by 80% A study spanning almost four decades reveals that climate change and anthropogenic factors are having a detrimental effect on the Cauvery delta region. As per S. Janakrajan who have conducted the study, there is an almost near-unanimity among researchers that the withholding of the river flow upstream through the construction of a series of dams is the fundamental reason for the reduced or no sediment flow downstream, and that delta subsidence [Imminent threat to coastal populations] is in a large measure attributable to these kinds of human intervention in the rivers. He further adds that the Cauvery delta has witnessed a decline of 80% in sediment deposit over the last century.  SANDRP wrote about this phenomena long back. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/states-granary-losing-substantial-ground/article19286764.ece

In another development regarding Cauvery river pollution, the SC on July 06, 2017 has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file a report within six months time, regarding Tamil Nadu Government’s plea, which stated that Karnataka is polluting Cauvery River water. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/cauvery-river-pollution-sc-gives-six-months-to-cpcb-to-file-report/1093386

Cooum river restoration project cleared MoEF has recently cleared the Integrated Cooum River Eco-Restoration Project, covering a stretch of 9.6km between the mouth of the river and Chetpet Railway Bridge. However a few experts, who have been involved in mapping the historical significance of the river and thereby bring the focus on restoring it, feel that there are several issues that need to be addressed to ensure that this project doesn’t fail like the other similar attempts in the past. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/cooum-restoration-will-chennai-soon-see-the-river-restored-to-its-pristine-glory/articleshow/59573646.cms

GANGA NGT Latest order takes Ganga issue one step back On July 13 2017, the NGT has ordered that 100 METERS FROM THE EDGE OF THE RIVER WOULD BE TREATED AS NO DEVELOPMENT/ CONSTRUCTION ZONE. It is one step backward, in same case NGT in Nov 2015, had ordered 200 meters as no construction zone along Ganga in Uttarakhand. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ngt-bars-construction-on-ganga-banks-in-uttarakhand/article7848273.ece  

In Gangetic plains where floods need and have wider spread, more than 100 meter area could be declared as no encroachment zone. In fact, experts suggest it should be ideally 500 meters from the highest flood level and not the edge of the river.  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/ngt-declares-100-metres-from-edge-of-ganga-as-no-development-zone/articleshow/59575340.cms

Other NOTABLE statement by NGT: Even after spending Rs 7304.64 crores upto March, 2017, by the Central Government, State Government and local authorities of the State of UP, the status of river Ganga has not improved in terms of quality or otherwise and it continues to be a serious environmental issue.”

This is however, minimalist and without any basis: On the issue of maintaining the flow of the river, the tribunal directed that the minimum environment flow should not fall “below 20 per cent of the average monthly lean season flow.

How it is going to implement such norms is the moot question: Such mining should be permitted only after a detailed and comprehensive assessment of the annual replenishment of sand and gravel in the river bed and ensuring that the longitudinal and lateral connectivity of the river is not disturbed and that only quantity less or equal to the annual replenishment is permitted to be removed from the river bed or its banks said the order. The implementation committee does not seem to credible independent people in sufficient numbers. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/rs-7000-crore-spent-on-ganga-in-two-years-without-improvement-national-green-tribunal-4749280/

Shedding light on NGT order, Nitin Sethi writes on Scroll that the NGT has taken over the driver’s seat of PM Namani Ganga mission to clean the river basin after terming it a dismal failure (just like all previous efforts). But, the tribunal’s eye for detail and doggedness may not go a long way in eradicating even the 27% of pollution load it has tried to deal with through the two judgements. The consequence of the order that is hard to miss. The tribunal concluded that PM’s much-flaunted Namami Ganga mission too has failed to achieve any success over the past three years. For all practical purposes, the NGT is now going to drive it. https://scroll.in/article/843756/the-daily-fix-tribunals-new-order-on-ganga-shows-how-centre-has-failed-to-clean-up-the-river

Report Ganga Cleaning running behind schedule Govt $3 billion clean-up plan is badly behind schedule. Less than a quarter of an estimated 4,800 million liters of sewage that flow daily into the river from main towns and cities is treated.  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-ganges-idUSKBN19V0OG

Over 1,500 million litres of raw sewage is discharged into the Ganga every day. This joins 500 million litres of industrial waste dumped by more than 700 highly polluting industries located along the river. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/bwqZHIiZGProB9jxlhmxOI/SC-stays-high-court-order-recognizing-Ganga-and-Yamuna-as-li.html

According to another news report the discharge flow of river Ganga from sewage was 2683.6 MLD and from the industrial effluent it is 285.9 MLD in 2009. While as per CPCB in 2012 it was reported to be 6966.3 MLD from sewage and 501 MLD from industrial effluent. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/developmental-issues/this-ngt-order-changes-everything-about-cleaning-river-ganga/articleshow/59581808.cms

So far, a huge amount of over Rs 4800 crore has been spent on Ganga and its tributaries cleaning since January 14, 1986 the launch of Ganga Action Plan (GAP) till June 30, 2017.  In total the Govt released Rs 6788.78 crore for the purpose and out of this, Rs 4864.48 crore has been spent till June 30 this year, leaving an unspent balance of Rs 1924.30 crore. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/over-rs-4800-crore-spent-on-ganga-rejuvenation-since-1986-moef/articleshow/59547194.cms

Hindon River basin heavily industrialized, villagers dying of cancers Glaring facts…”The length of Hindon river is 355 km and there are 316 industrial units on the banks of the Hindon or its tributaries, including rivers Kali, Krishni and Pavdhoi. These three tributaries of Hindon are also highly polluted.

Pollution in west UP rivers is a major cause of diseases inflicting the villagers living close to these water bodies. More than 70 people in in Baghpat’s Gangnauli village, which is located on the banks of Krishni river, have died in the past four years due to various diseases. Similarly, the entire population of Saini village, located near the Kali river in Meerut, suffer from various skin diseases. Hundreds of villagers across the region are suffering from bone deformities http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/after-ganga-polluted-hindon-gets-much-needed-attention/articleshow/59583427.cms

MoWR MoU for coordiantion among Ganga agencies Union Water Resources Ministry and Union Skill Development are reported to sign a MoU for the success of Namami Gange program. As per the MoU the Water Ministry will also develop a market for reuse/recycle of treated wastewater to be released from STP/ETPs for various non-potable purposes. It will also ensure necessary coordination and support from the state governments and state level implementing agencies for various activities The Ministry also plans to mobilize resources for creation of Pradhan Mantri Namami Gange Kaushal Kendras in 60 districts covered under Namami Gange Mission.  http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=167417

SAND MINING

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Tamil Nadu Amicus Curiae report finds massive scale illegal beach mining  Governments come and go, but some irregularities last forever. And that is the theme of amicus curiae V. Suresh’s comprehensive report on illegal beach sand mining in Tamil Nadu, submitted to the First Bench of the Madras High Court on June 20 during a hearing on a PIL that was filed in 2015.

As per report calculation, out of 1.5 crore metric tonnes (MT) of raw sand mined between 2000 and 2017 in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanniyakumari districts, 57% has been mined illegally. It notes that “in general, 6 out of 7 Mining Lessees have indulged in unlawful mining and transportation. Similarly, the computation of illegally mined minerals like garnet and ilmenite ranges from 61% to almost 70% of the total amount mined during the same period. The report shows how the Tamil Nadu government’s ban on beach sand mining and exports since September 2013 has only managed to give the miners a free run.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/beached-by-illegal-sand-mining/article19246822.ece

Uttrakhand NGT asks Govt to ensure ban on illegal sand mining The NGT on July 07, 2017 directed the govt to ensure there is no “illegal” sand mining being carried out on the floodplains of river Ganga in the state and to take necessary steps in this regard on a plea filed by an NGO seeking a stay on mining of minor minerals on the bed of river Ganga in Haridwar. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ensure-ban-on-illegal-sand-mining-ngt-tells-uttarakhand-4740672/

Rajasthan Villagers working for sand mining to be penalized Umand villagers in Kapasan near Chittorgarh are leaving no stone upturned to check the rampant mining going on for three years. The unchecked mining on Berach river has affected the fertility of the soil, productivity on land and made village area vulnerable for landslides during monsoon. The mining company has also violated several rules. Against 3 metre depth limit, mining is done as deep as 12-15 metre. Countless trees were also cut off. Officials accept large scale irregularities and admit that it can change the course of a river. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/villagers-working-for-sand-mining-to-be-penalized/articleshow/59551057.cms  

WETLANDS

Supreme Court 16 years of SC monitoring wetlands case Good to see judiciary taking some bold steps though its hearing wetlands case since 2001 and has achieved nothing remarkable.  It seems like Ganga and Yamuna this case will also be transferred to NGT in near future.  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/environment/the-good-earth/sc-pulls-up-centre-for-defying-wetlands-order/articleshow/59587666.cms

The Supreme Court on July 13, 2017 blasted the Centre for not complying with its order to frame rules for preservation of wetlands and warned that it would put the environment secretary behind bars if the govt failed to give a road map within a week for conservation of wetlands. The bench noted that although the govt talked about its commitment to the Paris Accord on climate change, it was not concerned about environment protection in the country. https://scroll.in/latest/843678/sc-slaps-rs-50000-fine-on-environment-ministry-in-wetlands-protection-case 

The court also expressed disappointment at MoEF’s failure to explain how money given to states for conservation of Ramsar sites was spent. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/wetland-conservation-sc-pulls-up-govt-imposes-penalty/

Gujarat Fish dying of pollution, officials busy in blame game As per report, on June 18, 2017, hundreds of dead fish are found floating in Sabarmati riverfront. The number of dead fish was so large that 10 tractors could be filled with them. Now on July 2, 2017, around 400 dead fish were found floating at Ghodasar Lake in Maninagar. But the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) official are blaming each other for the indicents. It is so sad to see that increasing pollution load killing fish in rivers and water bodies of Ahmedabad. It is even sadder, instead of course correction, responsible agencies busy in blaming and fighting with each other.

WATER OPTIONS

Maharashtra Doctor develops rainwater harvesting unitl Dr Sachin Pawade from Wardha has developed a new and simple method called Bhoojal Moist Soil Unit to recharge groundwater level. More than 50 people who have adopted this, claim that it has solved water problem in their area to a great extent. The unit consists of parts like an inlet for rainwater, cleaning port, filter and the outlet for the dug well or recharge point. The installation cost is just Rs 3,500. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/doctor-develops-rainwater-harvesting-unit-to-recharge-groundwater-level/articleshow/59568659.cms

National Pit toilets polluting groundwater  While pit toilets save people the embarrassment of open defecation and address hygiene problems to some extent, studies in the past have shown that the leachate (water that has percolated through a solid and leached out some of the constituents) from pit toilets cause havoc to groundwater in a country where nearly 80% of the population depends on it for potable use.

The govt has allocated Rs 9,000 crore under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan for construction of new toilets and for repair of dysfunctional ones. According to the Swachhta Status Report of 2015, more than half of India’s rural population (52.1%) defecates in the open. According to 2011 census, India has about 248 million households. With insufficient sewage infrastructure, the 17.54 million households have pit toilets. https://factordaily.com/iisc-bangalore-twin-pit-toilet-groundwater-contamination/

GROUND WATER

Expert Speak As per Himanshu Kulkarni, Founder of ACWADAM, India is responsible for 25% of the global annual total of groundwater extracted. China and the US follow, but together they don’t account for as much as India extracts on its own. He also says that groundwater supply is 80% to 95% of rural drinking water and 50% of urban drinking water. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/the-alarming-levels-of-indias-groundwater/article19253949.ece

Punjab 61 more blocks to be declared serious 61 more blocks out of total 147 are in line to be declared serious by Central Ground Water Authority in view of depleting ground water level. It has already marked 44 blocks in the state as serious. As per farmers, they are already reeling under debts and now tube wells which were run with 5 Horsepower (HP) motor years ago are not functional even with a 40 HP motor.  

Amid this, the Supreme Court on July 06, 2017 gas asked all states to clarify whether they would implement the Centre’s master plan for artificial recharge of ground water in country.

It’s true that we need a much better and urgently implemented groundwater recharge plans. Even centre and SC are still asking about implementation of the 2013 CGWB plan. http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/will-you-be-implementing-water-harvesting-plan-sc-asks-states/752301/

AGRICULTURE

imd 13 july 17

Maharashtra Farmers doubt loan-waiver scheme will help Nidhi Jamwal explains why small farmers in Marathwada in Maharashtra are unlikely to benefit much from Rs 34000 Cr loan waiver announced by Maharashtra govt.

In a separate incident related incident the farmer from Majalgaon taluka of Beed district has complained to the local police against the IMD accusing it of “colluding” with seed and pesticide manufacturers to issue “fake” forecasts of a good monsoon. In his application, Gangabhishan Taware has alleged that owing to the incorrect predictions by officials at the Pune and Colaba divisions of the Met department, he and other farmers in the state have suffered heavy losses. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/farmer-accuses-imd-of-issuing-fake-predictions-of-good-monsoon/

SOUTH ASIA

Doklam Logjam Some very interesting watershed related issues in current India-China-Bhutan border issue:

“The notable feature of the current confrontation is that in sharp contrast to its normal practice, Beijing is going to great lengths to prove the legality of its claim to the Doklam plateau. It traces this to an 1890 treaty between the British viceroy in India, Lord Landsdowne, and China’s “Imperial associate Resident in Tibet”.

Article 1 of that treaty states: “The boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents, from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet. The line commences at Mount Gipmochi, on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory.”

This 1890 treaty settled the border between Sikkim and Tibet – or between British India and China – but redrew the boundary between Tibet and Bhutan. For the watershed between the Teesta and the Mochu runs south of Bhutan’s actual boundary, leaving the Doklam plateau well to the north. The Chinese are asserting legal claims to it on the basis of tax receipts issued to graziers who were paying a ‘herders’ tax to the government in Lhasa till as recently as 1960. But Bhutan and China had agreed to put the dispute in cold storage when they signed a standstill agreement on border disputes in 2002. This dispute is the bait that China has used to draw India into an untenable position in Bhutan.”

AND: “Beijing has based its claim to the Doklam plateau entirely on the 1890 treaty with the British. But in doing so, it has relied upon two principles for border demarcation that it had expressly repudiated in the run-up to and the aftermath of the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

The first was to not allow our colonial oppressors to determine our borders, and the second was to base border demarcation upon the watershed principle. The Chinese leadership had explicitly stated the first in an unsigned editorial in the Peoples’ Daily in 1962, a few days after the start of the war.

But while accepting the watershed principle and applying it to the demarcation of its borders with Myanmar and other countries, it had, earlier that year, refused to accept a correction of the MacMahon line given to it by India on a revised map, after the Indian cartographers discovered that in his haste MacMahon, who had been following the watershed principle had, perhaps inadvertently, placed the tri-junction of Bhutan, Tibet and India about 6 km south of the watershed where it should have been.” https://thewire.in/155911/bhutan-china-modi-border-opportunity/

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Study Groundwater pumping drying up Great Plains streams Interesting study more than half a century of groundwater pumping from the aquifer has led to long segments of rivers drying up and the collapse of large-stream fishes in the Great Plains of Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and the panhandle of Texas. It warns that if pumping practices are not modified, scientists warn that these habitats will continue to shrink, and the fish populations along with them.  The findings have implications for watersheds around the world, because irrigation accounts for 90 percent of human water use globally, and local and regional aquifers are drying up. https://phys.org/news/2017-07-groundwater-great-plains-streams-fish.html

New Research Impacts of irrigation dams  As per the research reservoirs, dams and irrigation systems have shifted global patterns of water scarcity over three decades, “causing a distinct pattern of beneficiaries and losers. The study shows that these interventions have also created scarcity that mostly occurs downstream. The researchers say it is the first to provide a global accounting of regional and local water impacts caused by human intervention, and whether it has led to a reshuffle of water scarcity hotspots. It also adds that over a third of the world’s population was affected by changes in water availability during the study period. On average, approximately 20 per cent of the global population experienced a significant increase in water availability, he says, while another 24 per cent experienced a significant decrease. http://www.scidev.net/global/water/news/Shifting-water-availability-scarcity-hotspots.html

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World Resource Institute Water is scarce because it is badly managed The World Resources Institute has found that 33 nations will face extremely high water stress by 2040. While it underlines growing population and climate change as a key reason, it also says that a lot of the problem stems from lousy water management. Advocating for water pricing, it says that

Secondly it says that when something is too cheap, people squander it. Some pay for the operational costs of supplying it, but not the infrastructure that enabled it to flow from the tap. Many pay nothing to raid underground aquifers.

India pumps two-thirds of its irrigation-water this way. Chinese industry uses ten times more water per unit of production than the average in rich countries. Farmers in parched places like California grow thirsty cash crops such as avocados, which could easily be imported from somewhere wetter.

The key to managing water better is to price it properly, giving consumers a reason not to waste it and investors an incentive to build infrastructure to supply it. https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21709541-water-scarce-because-it-badly-managed-dry-facts?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/

CLIMATE CHANGE

Global Trillion-tonne iceberg breaks off Antarctica This is a LANDMARK global warming event: As per scientists, a trillion-tonne iceberg, one of the largest ever recorded, has snapped off the West Antarctic ice shelf. The calving occurred sometime between July 10 and 12, when a 5,800 sq km section of Larsen C (ice shelf) finally broke away. The massive ice cube, larger than the US state of Delaware, has a volume twice that of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. It is about 350 metres (1,100 feet) thick. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/trillion-tonne-iceberg-breaks-off-antarctica/articleshow/59562075.cms

ENVIRONMENT

MoEF Inauguration of National Coastal Mission  The Union Environment Ministry is to dedicate the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) to the nation at Chennai, on July 16, 2017. The research undertaken by NCSCM will be used directly for arriving at policy decisions and for capacity building of coastal communities and other stakeholders. The objectives include

– Promoting integrated and sustainable management of the coastal and marine areas in the country for the benefit and well-being of the traditional coastal and island communities;-

– Strengthening capacity of coastal management at all levels, including stakeholders;

– Advising Union and State governments and other associated stakeholders on policy and scientific matters related to Integrated Coastal Zone Management; –

Striving to become a world class institution through cutting-edge research pertaining to understanding coastal zones, coastal processes, integrated planning and management of coastal and marine areas http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=167426

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

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