DRP News Bulletin 25 September 2017 (Three Incidents of Canals & Dam Breach In Two Days, Who Is Responsible?)

This week there have been three incidents of canals and dam breach in three States raising concern over quality of construction of dams and canals in India. 

All these incidents are a result of negligence exercised by concerned departments. These incidents also proves that the quality of construction of dams and canals in India is not as par standard. 

It is surprising that no government official or private contractor has been held responsible for these avoidable incidents. To avoid recurrence of such incidents, governments of these states bring the involved officials and persons to justice. It also strictly monitor the quality of construction to avoid wastage of public money. The safety of the public is also uncompromising and hence should not rush through the irrigation projects without proper consultation care. 

In the first incident a 15 feet breach in the 11km long Ganga pump canal happened at Bateshwarsthan (Kahalgaon) in Bhagalpur district during its trial run on 19 Sept, 2017. Interesting thing is that none other than the CM was to inaugurate this Rs379.31-cr scheme on Sept 20, 2017.

While the state govt blamed the NTPC for constructing a “faulty” underpass beneath the canal at Bateshwarsthan, NTPC has said that was part of the project and constructed after the state water resources department had approved it. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/bhagalpur-canal-breach-leaves-govt-red-faced/articleshow/60770795.cms

In the second tragic accident, at least six labourers were feared killed and some others trapped inside when the irrigation tunnel in which they were working caved in in Thippapur village of Illanthakunta mandal in Telangana on 20 Sept. Reports said that the tunnel work was progressing as part of the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project in the mandal. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/six-feared-killed-as-irrigation-tunnel-caves-in/article19721776.ece

The third similar accident occurred in Maharashtra where a check dam near’s Ahmednagar collapsed on 20 Sept causing inundation in Arangaon village. About 50 families were marooned in the village which is situated on Ahmednagar-Ghargaon road. The incident happened due to breach in Pimpaldoh lake. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/ahmednagar-dam-collapse-live-updates-arangaon-village-inundated-50-families-marooned-maharashtra-mumbai-rains-4853336/

In Bhagalpur canal case, irrigation department did not check the status of canal built since long and released water for trial run. The Kaleshwaram canal cave in accidents is a result of blind race by state govt to finish the giant irrigation project without paying heed to safety issues. Similarly the Ahmednagar dam simply could not bear the pressure of overflowing pond and ran down. 

DAMS

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Sardar Sarovar Dam Is the Sardar Sarovar Dam boon or bane? This is comment on Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) in THE HINDU by SANDRP coordinator among others: An overview of the key issues… The project is still incomplete (even after downscaling the canal network by about 18,000 km), as per Gujarat govt figures, with over 30,000 km of canals yet to be completed; the Garudeshwar Dam downstream from the SSP is still under construction (without any SIA & EIA). There is as yet no credible assessment of the costs, benefits and impacts of the project.

So, the best way to know if the project is a boon or bane would be through an independent review of the project. Such reviews happened at least twice, one set up by the World Bank, another by the Government of India. In both cases, the outcome was the same: the project in its current form should not go ahead. That answer was available about 25 years ago. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/is-the-sardar-sarovar-dam-boon-or-bane/article19729671.ece

Similarly another excellent editorial titled  “Time to Rethink the ‘Big Dams’ Model of Development” in The Hindustan Times including SANDRP comments, reads that big dams such as the SSP have been built on an obsolete belief that the benefits of hydropower outweigh its other costs. It also says that the scientific imagination that put big dams at the centre of a national development paradigm belongs to a century long gone.

It rightly says that the major problem with such large projects is the problem of rehabilitation of displaced people. This is, of course, not counting the fact that the land that tribal communities and others have occupied for centuries is not just something that can be measured in acres and rupees. The cost of history and memory that lies in land and ancestral property can never be reimbursed. According to SANDRP, many people displaced by the Bhakra project are yet to be rehabilitated at all. http://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/it-is-time-to-rethink-the-big-dams-model-of-development/story-Q8aMISORnsxIr6o8MjuHEP.html

One more timely report by Ashok Swain, titled as “Mega Dams Are A Trend That The World Stopped Following Long Ago, But Why Hasn’t India Yet?” highlights that large dams are not longer relevant.

“Mega dams are not anymore in fashion in most part of the world. Popular protests have now made it almost impossible to build these dams in democratic countries. North America and Europe have stopped building these dams for decades. Even China and Turkey have stopped building large dams in their heartland. India, which built many mega dams immediately after independence, had followed the global trend in the last two decades, but Modi’s decision in spite of massive protests to go ahead with SSP has put India’s protests against dams at a crossroads. The revival of river-linking scheme by Modi government in last week also adds further to this apprehension.” https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/mega-dams-are-a-trend-that-the-world-stopped-following-long-ago-but-why-is-india/301976

Similarly in a very informative and touching article titled “The Real Cost of Big Development Projects” Salil Tripathi writes that as Gujaratis celebrate the dam, they might pause to reflect on whether it would restore to the most marginalized Gujaratis control over their lives. Such reflection may also reveal the real meaning of asmita

He further says that since the state’s formation in 1960, Gujarat has had a collective, bipartisan consensus that only by damming the Narmada would the state alleviate its water crisis. Gujaratis have accepted that wisdom, and all governments have committed resources towards building the dam. To be sure, Gujaratis, like people everywhere, need water and electricity. The question is whether a large dam is the best—or only—way to attain that goal, and whether such massive displacement of people was necessary. http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/lzczSLil0L8HQPdsRcVggM/The-real-cost-of-big-development-projects.html

One more report “Public Finance, Public Play” throws some light why World Bank stalled funding for Sardar Sarovar Dam. True, displacement, resettlement and rehabilitation issues continue to dog the environmentally destructive project.  Very sad while proper resettlement and fair compensation for the affected is a question of survival and for beneficiaries its a matter of public finance. http://www.livemint.com/Home-Page/NXCSsuu5Hk5QC79mn6zgYK/Narmada-dam-Public-finance-public-play.html

On the contrary, there is very misinformed editorial from The Economics Times advocates   building of more dams for power and irrigation. https://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-editorials/the-narmada-valley-project-marches-on/

As per the latest report, a controversy has erupted over release of water from Indira Sagar Dam in MP to SSP in the run-up to its inauguration at time when Madhya Pradesh is staring at a drought. Highly placed sources say the MP govt released 650mcm water from Indira Sagar to SSD from September 11-15 so that its water level rises to 130 metres. This is exactly SANDRP first wrote about. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/row-over-water-release-by-mp-to-sardar-sarovar-dam/articleshow/60801189.cms  

https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/drp-news-bulletin-18-september-2017-why-madhaya-pradesh-depleted-its-meagre-water-storage-to-fill-up-ssp-dam-for-sept-17/

Himachal Pradesh Central Panel faces Pong dam oustees ire Central High Powered Committee headed by Secretary, MoWR, and appointed by Supreme Court faces the ire of people displaced 45 years ago for the Pong dam.. It only shows what is the state of displacement and rehabilitation. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/central-panel-faces-pong-oustees-ire/471911.html

INTER LINKING OF RIVERS

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SANDRP Report Do we really need interlinking of rivers?  In the detailed piece Himanshu Thakkar rightly says that the river interlinking project will adversely affect land, forests, biodiversity, rivers and the livelihood of millions of people. On the other hand it would not be helpful for irrigation, water supply, hydropower generation, flood protection. 

As per him, interlinking of rivers is a very expensive proposal. It has huge adverse environmental impacts on land, forests, biodiversity, rivers and the livelihood of millions of people. It is a socially disruptive proposition. It will not only add to climate change impact (destruction of forests means destruction of carbon sinks, and reservoirs in tropical climate are known sources of methane and carbon dioxide), but will also reduce our capacity to adapt to climate change.

He concludes that there is no doubt that if we can store water during the monsoon, we can make it available in the post monsoon months. But the water resources establishment sees big dams as the only storage option. Yet, the biggest, cheapest, most benign, possibly fastest and most decentralized storage option for India is the groundwater aquifer. http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/VwhUEH5UUYava6GZISa1zH/Do-we-really-need-interlinking-of-rivers.html

Similarly in another report, Bharat Dogra while acknowledging SANDRP work raises a very important question about interlinking of rivers. He writes that the data on which rivers are running low and which are carrying surpluses is not publicly available. There is also no conceptual clarity of the indicators needed for defining ‘deficit’ and ‘surplus’. https://thewire.in/179575/river-linking-ken-betwa-dams-submerge-data/

It is surprising that the project still does not have final forest clearance and conditions of Forest/ Wildlife clearance recommendations are at variance with the project that was recommendation for EC. Unfortunately, our media friends are only happy giving positive spins or unquestioningly accepting the govt claims. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/roads-cleared-for-ken-betwa-river-linking-project-rollout/story-DMdw0ddZgMplSEMRanZN6H.html

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

Cauvery River Disputes Tamil Nadu Govt asks SC to set up authority True, Centre let a vacuum prevail after the 2007 Cauvery Tribunal’s Award as it has not set up Caurvery Management Board as yet to resolve the dispute. The case has been lingering in SC for last 25 years. During 20 Sept hearing, Tamil Nadu Govt has reportedly insisted that court itself appoint an authority and frame a scheme for sharing and management. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/finalise-body-for-sharing-of-river-water-tn-tells-sc/article19716279.ece

In the next hearing on 21 Sept. the apex court has reserved its verdict in an appeal case. As per the report political parties and Tamil organisations are concerned over what they believe was the Centre’s attempt to drag the dispute. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2017/sep/21/supreme-court-reserves-verdict-will-tamil-nadu-get-due-share-of-cauvery-1660437.html

Kerala, Tamil Nadu  Govts to hold talks on water disputes As per the report Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan called on his Tamil Nadu counterpart Edappadi K. Palaniswami here on 21 Sept. decided to hold official-level talks to solve the water disputes between the two States.The two neighbouring States are locked in a row over the Mullaperiyar dam with Kerala raising apprehensions over the safety of the over-a-century-old structure.Other water-sharing disputes between the two States include the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project (PAP) with Kerala accusing “violations” by Tamil Nadu, and the Neyyar river dispute. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-tn-to-hold-talks-on-water-disputes/article19730264.ece

IRRIGATION

Tamil Nadu Farmers seek more water in irrigation canals Tiruchirapalli farmers facing problem as PWD has reduced Mettur dam water release from 10000 cusecs to 2000 cusecs in view of the Cauvery Maha Pushkaram festival.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/farmers-seek-more-water-in-irrigation-canals/article19728885.ece

RIVERS

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Rally For Rivers How not to save our rivers In an EXCELLENT article by AMITA BAVISKAR, writes that how RALLY FOR RIVERS won’t save our rivers. “Rivers are indeed our lifelines. They should command our most enlightened, uncompromising, unremitting attention. Experienced activists and scholars know that the political economy of riverine ecology is knotty and obdurate. Tackling it means taking on the Establishment. Jaggi Vasudev’s pious sentiments and the trees planted by his supporters won’t save rivers. They are a pleasant sop to the conscience of the well-intentioned yet ill-informed. And a photo-op for corporates. As the last empty bottle of Bisleri bounces out of the window of the motorcade, the rally moves on. And our rivers remain unsaved.” Please Share.  http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/jaggi-vasudev-rally-for-rivers/1/1052620.html

Similarly in a interview Jaggi Vasudev of RALLY FOR RIVERS acts so ignorant and bundle of contradictions.

– He is so totally wrong here, India is the country building one of the highest number big dams in the world, and yet he says: “No great dams are being built in this country right now because there is nothing to be dammed.”

– He certifies all existing dams are fine: “It’s fine; you don’t need to dismantle them.”

– Than he makes another shockingly wrong statement: “But most rivers are not held back because of the dams.”

– This is good for existing dams, but how and who decides how much water to be released and if you do not say that, you are not saying anything: “But the dam has a gate, right? So you must open the gate and decide on how much water should be running.”

– He says: “What is the greater good? Destruction of the land and water sources is greater good?” But that is exactly what the PRIME MINISTER did a week back when PM declared Sardar Sarovar Complete, but JV is totally silent on that!?! He actually praises the PM!

– He says first stakeholder should be river, which is great, but who will decide how much this stakeholder should get. Funnily, he does not speak up against Inter Linking of Rivers when he shared dias with Naidu in Vijaywada in the Rally. He does not speak about the disastrous Sabarmati River Front Development when is in Ahmedabad!!

WISH OUR JOURNALISTS WERE TO ASK MORE HARD NOSED QUESTIONS TO HIM. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/sadhguru-jaggi-vasudev-isha-foundation-rally-for-rivers-politicians-spiritual-guides-4858096/

BRAHMAPUTRA Centre Biotechnology Dept to launch B4 study project The Department of Biotechnology will commission a two-tiered barge that will roughly be the size of two large conference rooms and host scientists and a full-fledged lab that will allow those on board to collect samples from various stretches of the river, perform tests on water quality and biodiversity of the wider ecosystem. As per Union Science Minister Harsh Vardhan, the proposed vessel, now only known as the Brahmaputra Biodiversity Biology Boat (B4), would also be linked to smaller boats and research labs. The first experiments will likely begin this Dec and will have the boat — a re-purposed one — trawl Pasighat, Dibrigarh, Neemati, Tejpur and Guwahati in Assam and managed by the IIT, Guwahati.  

According to K. Vijay Raghavan, Secretary, Dept of Biotechnology, the idea for it came from a scientist who’s of Chinese and Indian-origin and based in Shillong. He didn’t specify a budget for the boat but said the govt aimed to spend ₹200 crore across a range of programs. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-boat-lab-to-study-brahmaputra/article19722816.ece

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CAUVERY Tamil Nadu Artificial bathing facility for devotees There is absolutely no water in the Cauvery this year. It looks completely dry due to unprecedented drought. Given the ‘Aadi Perukku’ in which thousands of newly wedded couples flock to riverbed to perform special pujas to the river, the administration has dug two bore-wells in the river bed at Amma Mandapam to pump out water so as to enable the devotees take a bath. After artificial Punya in Godavari by borewells as the river goes completely dry. What a sad irony.. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/artificial-bathing-facility-for-devotees/article19412831.ece

GANGA Uttarakhand HC send notice to Pilot Baba’s ashram for illegal construction near Ganga In an interesting development, the High Court 20 Sept has issued a notice to self-styled godman Pilot Baba, a retired wing commander-turned ascetic, and his ashram Yogmata Foundation for unauthorized constructions near the Ganga river in Haridwar.

The notice came days after the state irrigation dept had served a warning to Divya Prem Seva Mission, an ashram with which president Ramnath Kovind has been associated for a long time, for allegedly encroaching on land in the Kumbh mela area near the Ganga river. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/hc-send-notice-to-pilot-babas-ashram-for-illegal-construction-near-ganga/articleshow/60770443.cms

Report Can Gadakari save Ganga As per the report Gadkari has little understanding of rivers and has shown no willingness to work with a team of experts who have some understanding of river morphology and how the river’s delta, wetland and surrounding bio-diversity form an integral part of the river’s ecosystem. Gadkari’s focus is on finance, technology and infrastructure. While such an approach is necessary for the building of roads, this is hardly suitable for the rejuvenation of our dying rivers. https://thewire.in/178786/can-gadkari-clean-up-the-ganga-by-2018/ 

Bihar Rs 42.93 lakh for study on siltation in Ganga Bihar State cabinet on Sept 19 sanctioned Rs42.93 lakh for a detailed study on siltation in the Ganga between Farakka in West Bengal and Buxar in Bihar over a period of six months.

*The study would also focus on the impact of operation of Farakka barrage.

*Drones would also be used to assess the silt load at various points in the river.

*Dr Rajiv Sinha, professor at the department of earth sciences at IIT Kanpur, has been hired as consultant for the study. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/rs-42-93-lakh-for-study-on-siltation-in-ganga/articleshow/60756127.cms

Centre PM laid foundation stone of STP to be built at Varanasi PM Modi has laid the foundation stone of a 50 MLD STP based on Hybrid Annuity-PPP model in Ramana in Varanasi on Sept 22, 2017. As per PIB release, this is the first time ever that Hybrid Annuity-PPP model is adopted in sewage sector.

The work to construct, operate and maintain has been awarded to a consortium led by Essel Infra Projects Limited at an estimated cost of Rs 153.16 crore. The Govt of India had accorded Cabinet approval to implement the Hybrid Annuity based PPP model with 100% central sector funding. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=170996

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YAMUNA Delhi  NGT raps govt over litter on banks Angry over the remains of hundreds of Lord Ganesh idols lying on the banks of the Yamuna, the NGT on Sept 20 asked the Delhi govt and the civic bodies to explain why discarded material from Ganesh Visarjan had not been removed in a timely manner. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/ngt-raps-govt-over-litter-on-yamuna-banks/article19723830.ece

HYDRO POWER

Jammu & Kashmir Reduce height of Bursar HEP dam During the public hearing for 800 MW Bursar Hydroelectric Project(HEP) Bursar on 21 Sept Hanzal and Dehrna villagers have asked to reduce the height of the project dam. A large number of people from village Hanzal, Dherna, Teller, Changer, Nowpachi, Qaderna and Yourdoo raised their demands with regard to construction of Burser Project in the area. They demanded that the NHPC should take care of the up-lift of the areas and create facilities like Hospital, School, and Electricity for the residents of the areas likely to be affected by the project. http://www.scoopnews.in/det.aspx?q=71115

EPW Compensatory afforestation Soumitra Ghosh shows how compensatory afforestation can create more problems than solve: Compensatory afforestation is a dubious and controversial environmental “offset” that is adding to environmental damage instead of mitigating or compensating it. Compensatory afforestation may actually be accelerating the invasion of India’s forests by big corporations, in collusion with a permissive state, by legitimising the destruction of forests, greenwashing the land grabs, and encroaching on common property resources and community-held lands. This article is based mainly on a 2013-14 study of the Polavaram multipurpose project in Andhra Pradesh, the Durgapur mines in Maharashtra, the Teesta hydroelectric project in Sikkim and the Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh. http://www.epw.in/journal/2017/38/special-articles/compensatory-afforestation.html

SAND MINING

Tamil Nadu Madras HC committee submitted its report on Sept 19. after inspection of sand mining in Tiruchi and Karur areas. Key findings include

* The entire river was riddled with pits and ponds due to unscientific mining being carried out beyond permitted levels.

* The environment clearance and quarrying permission obtained were not in compliance with laws and were in violation of the SEIAA clearance.

*In Chinthalaivaadi, two quarries were operated side by side — one was legal and the other illegal.

*Officials in charge of the sites lacked knowledge of sand mining and that they should be trained in scientific methods of mining. They should also be trained in handling scientific tools like GPS.

* Conduct scientific study with the help of reputed institutions to document the mineral deposits in the Cauvery.

The report suggested that appointment of lifting contractor be done through an e-tender, which would ensure transparency as it increased accountability on the contractor. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/sand-mining/article19672530.ece

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On the other hand, despite NGT ban order illegal mechanized sand mining in Thenpennaiar river is damaging the river and bridges in Soriyankuppam and surrounding villages near Bahour. The NGT had banned river sand mining from the Thenpennaiar, taking into account the depleted river sand, sinking riverbed and plummeting groundwater levels.’ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/thenpennaiar-bears-the-brunt-of-sand-mining/article19652538.ece 

Amid this there is a report showing how Trichurapalli villagers are facing problems even risking their lives due to illegal sand miners http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/villagers-take-on-illegal-sand-miners-detain-three-lorries/articleshow/60811804.cms

WETLANDS

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Bihar Wetland revival pays rich dividend Encouraging story of how a group Mutlupur village farmers in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar turned a 87 acres of shunned wetland (locally known as chaur) productive by practicing fish farming, agro-forestry and horticulture thus providing employment and livelihood opportunities to impoverished villagers. https://www.thebetterindia.com/116185/mutlupur-farmers-transform-neglected-wetland-integrated-farming-bihar/

Jammu & Kashmir Srinagar lost 7018 ha wetlands area in 95 years As per a study Srinagar has grown 12 times in terms of population and 23 times in terms of area between 1901 and 2011. Report says the city is one of the 100 fastest-growing urban areas in the world in 2011. These factors have affected the region’s lakes and wetlands as well, reducing them in size or completely killing them. Srinagar’s wetlands spread over 13,425.90 hectares in 1911. By 2004, this area had shrunk to 6,407.14 hectares causing a loss of 7,018 hectares in 95 years. http://www.firstpost.com/india/kashmirs-agricultural-fields-and-wetlands-are-falling-prey-to-large-scale-urbanisation-4055097.html

Report Wetland birds killing widespread  As per researchers hundreds of thousands of waterbirds being killed every year across India in non-protected wetlands and such a high scale of hunting was unknown previously. Surprisingly, the movement patterns of most of the birds in India are yet unrecorded. Contrary to assumptions, hunting is driven by market demand and not subsistence. Activists say that migratory water birds hunting remains one of the least studied aspects of bio-diversity conservation in India. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/in-troubled-waters/article19717586.ece

GROUND WATER

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Punjab Deficient monsoon causing fall in groundwater table Deficient rainfall in almost a dozen out of Punjab’s 22 districts has led to over-exploitation of ground water to irrigate paddy fields in the state. Groundwater had to be used extensively to save paddy crop on nearly 25 lakh hectares out of total 29 lakh hectares of area under the ‘rice crop varieties’ in state this year.

This area is divided into total 141 agricultural blocks in the state, out of which 102 agricultural blocks fall under the ‘Dark Zone’. According to the Met department around 55 per cent of the total area of the state faced a ‘rain drought’ with scanty and deficient rainfall.

Agriculture Department experts said that due to less rain, farmers only got sufficient water for crop by running their tubewells. Paddy is highly water intensive crop and to grow one kg of rice one needs 4000 to 4500 litre of water.

“Punjab is gearing up for the a bumper ‘paddy crop’ this season with expected yield of 165 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) paddy production, so one can imagine that even if little less 50 per cent crop was irrigated with groundwater then how much burden it put on the groundwater table,” said a senior Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) scientist.

JS Bains, Director Punjab Agricultural Department, said: “There may be rain drought in half of Punjab, but it hardly comes to ‘agricultural drought’ here as our farmers save their crop by spending money and arranging ground water.” http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/saving-paddy-crop-amid-deficient-rain-hits-groundwater-table-in-punjab-4853568/

WATER

Kerala Jail for polluting water sources The Kerala Cabinet on Sept 20 approved an ordinance seeking to impose stiff punishment (jail up to 3 yrs or a fine of up to ₹2 lakh or both) on those polluting water sources in the State. The existing provisions have lighter penalties ranging from imprisonment of up to six month and a fine from ₹10,000 to ₹25,000. State govt has also decided to revive its proposal to desilt the reservoirs in the State with a view to improving their storage capacity. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/jail-for-polluting-water-sources/article19725694.ece

Telangana Tanda has 100% toilets, but water is still a problem Serious issue with SBM, it seems straining further the already depleting water resources. In toilet construction spree planners and promoters have probably forgot to take note of the important issue. This is typical problem with flush toilet model. On one hand it wastes huge amount of scarce water, on the other sewage from such toilets pollutes groundwater, ponds and rivers.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/tanda-has-100-toilets-but-water-is-still-a-problem/article19725676.ece

DELHI WATER

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Fig 5: The SBT at Gole Market, New Delhi (Photo by Kelly Alley)

SANDRP Blog Decentralized STPs in the Delhi Capital Region Guest blog by Kelly D. Alley and Nutan Maurya about the welcome initiative in Delhi to set up decentralised sewage treatment plants, you are possibly reading here for the first time about it. Please read, share and feedback. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/decentralized-stps-in-the-delhi-capital-region/

 NGT Capital’s water table over-exploited The entire city of Delhi is “overexploited” in terms of groundwater, the NGT is learnt to have said while asking the local authorities to state how they proposed to deal with the problem of declining water levels in the Capital.

As per the data available with the Central Groundwater Board under the Ministry of Water Resources, fresh groundwater was available at little below 33 feet in 1983. By 2011, this level had plummeted to 132 feet, registering the sharpest fall of almost 29 feet in the 2002-2011 period. The groundwater table across Delhi’s 1,484 sq km has declined from between 6 and 66 feet. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/capitals-water-table-overexploited-ngt/article19731010.ece

FLOOD 2017

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Urban Floods Choked cities go under water Good to see this focus on Urban flooding: Rains that should help address water crisis and revive dying rivers are wreaking our poorly planned cities like never before. The report examines how overwhelmed drainage, rapid concretisation, vanishing water bodies and green spaces are causing urban sprawls to sink, monsoon after monsoon.

“Water expert Himanshu Thakkar says urban areas need to drastically scale up their capacity to manage rainfall and waste water. “Tidal conditions have to be kept in mind for cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, or Chennai. Cities such as Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Cuttack or Surat need to take into account heavy upstream releases.” All this has to be assessed annually, since carrying capacities of drains, rainfall and flow patterns change.”

AGRICULTURE

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Andhra Pradesh SRI method gains popularity in Krishna The slightly modified System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method has gained acceptance and yielding results in paddy cultivation in Krishna district. Over 31,000 hectares of land was brought under the SRI method in the present kharif season. Most of the area brought under the SRI method is sandy soil by nature in both delta and upland mandals.

Introduced in the early 2000s in Krishna district, the farmers have found the SRI method suitable to get high yield than traditional farming method, apart from minimising the input cost.

The farmers in the eastern Krishna district — Machilipatnam, Pedana, Gudlavalleru, Pedaparupudi, Kalidindi, Kruthivennu, Bantumilli areas — have mostly shifted from the traditional method to slightly modified SRI method.

The Agriculture Department will sanction Cono weeder machine on subsidy in addition to providing training for the farmers on the SRI method. The Agriculture Extension Officers are engaged in promoting the SRI method in the areas where availability of water is less in the district. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/sri-method-gains-popularity-in-krishna/article19738434.ece

SOUTH ASIA

EPW Report India turning many tables for Indus Waters Treaty Interesting that EPW publishes an analysis of Indus Treaty from Pakistan perspective. An interesting part of this article is the details about the Vienna Convention & its applicability for Indus Treaty. http://www.epw.in/system/files/pdf/2017_52/38/CM_LII_38_230917_Asma_Yaqoob.pdf

THE REST OF THE WORLD

US & Canada Puerto Rico dam failure ‘imminent’ after Hurricane Maria The National Weather Service (NWS) on 22 Sept has warned of  “imminent failure” of the Guajataca Dam. The NWS warned of flash flooding in Isabela and Quebradillas. All 70,000 residents were initially told to flee but there are reports that the evacuation zone has since been narrowed.  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41368478 Another report is more dire as it says the dam can break anytime soon. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/09/23/tens-thousands-flee-safety-guajataca-dam-fails-puerto-rico?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork 

More information here seems to suggest that the failure of Puerto Rico dam may have been averted. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-dam-failing-puerto-rico-20170923-story.html

Global New study on wetlands biodiversity New Biological Reviews study provides a comprehensive assessment of how changes to wetlands affect animals, and the authors use their findings to provide recommendations for managing wetlands to maximise their biodiversity. https://phys.org/news/2017-09-human-impacts-wetlands-affect-animals.html

Australia Adani company guilty of polluting wetland Queensland govt confirms Adani’s Abbot Point contaminated Caley Valley a nationally significant wetlands during Cyclone Debbieto and decides to force it monitor indefinitely the environmental health of the wetlands after the coal spill in March. As per report in a separate case, environment department has fined the company $12,900 for a floodwater breach at the port’s oceanfront during the cyclone and Adani’s decision to contest the fine raises the possibility of a court case in which environmental officials could lay further charges carrying a potential $1m fine if evidence of harm emerges. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/20/adanis-abbot-point-coal-spill-contaminated-wetlands-report-finds

ENVIRONMENT

Q DRP

India Water Portal Centre shows red flag to green court Good detailed story by India Water Portal on how the govt is trying to kill NGT. An effective NGT was causing the govt and big businesses a lot of unease. Experts believe that considering diluting the powers of the NGT by amending the NGT Act would have been politically dangerous and would have invited a lot of criticism, the government decided to do it surreptitiously. The NGT that has made some landmark judgements to safeguard the environment, will lose its teeth soon if the govt has its way. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/centre-shows-red-flag-green-court

Maharashtra SC question MoEF decision over reduction of buffer zone WELCOME, hope this is taken to logical conclusion:

– In a development, the apex court has questioned the MoEF decision to reduce the buffer zone around forests and parks from 10km to 100 metres

– In an order about an industrial unit located within a 10-km radius of a Dadra and Nagar Haveli wildlife sanctuary, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said: “It is extremely surprising that 10km of eco-sensitive zone has been reduced by the ministry of environment and forest to 100 metres. Since an order of this nature is capable of destroying national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country, we would like to examine the validity of this reduction. Prime facie, it appears to us a complete arbitrary exercise of powers by the ministry.” http://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/regulatory/sc-lens-on-forest-buffer-zone-mumbai-builders-wary/60763049 

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 18 September 2017 and DRP News Bulletin 11 September 2017

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