DRP News Bulletin 02 October 2017 (New Rules Disastrous For India’s Wetlands)

The wetlands are the hotspots of biodiversity, act as carbon sinks, act as buffers against floods and are essential for groundwater recharge. With groundwater reservoirs in the country heavily exploited, this last function has assumed greater importance. http://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/centre-notifies-wetland-rules-environmentalists-unhappy/story-3MoGp9D8eSzHI90zfOXWSO.html

Wetlands can be defined as lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water.

But they are threatened by reclamation and degradation due to activities like drainage and landfill, pollution, hydrological alteration (water withdrawal and changes in inflow and outflow), over-exploitation resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in ecosystem services provided by them.

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There are at least 115 wetlands that are officially identified by the central government and of those 26 are identified as wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention which is an international intergovernmental treaty for conservation of wetlands. India is a party to the treaty. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/y6Tr3tkrr3q28AmGKaBFII/Environment-ministry-notifies-new-wetland-rules.html

The Centre on September 26 notified a new set of rules under the head Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 replacing the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/new-wetland-conservation-rules-notified/article19779100.ece

It is worth to mention that under the 2010 rules, not a single water body was notified as a wetland over and above the ones already recognised as such by the Centre and the Ramsar Convention, defeating its purpose in a way. http://www.zeebiz.com/agencies/centre-notifies-new-rules-for-preservation-of-wetlands-26312

Similarly, despite country’s space agency ISRO had in 2011 mapped over two lakhs of wetlands across the country, the centre has, so far, notified only 115 wetlands and 63 lakes in 24 states and 2 UTs for conservation and management.

The new notification decentralizes wetlands management by giving states powers to not only identify and notify wetlands within their jurisdictions but also keep a watch on prohibited activities.

It also indirectly widens the ambit of permitted activities by inserting the ‘wise use’ principle, giving powers to state-level wetland authorities to decide what can be allowed in larger interest. The notification says, “The wetlands shall be conserved and managed in accordance with the principle of ‘wise use’ as determined by the Wetlands Authority.”

The wise use provision had in past invited criticism from environmentalists as it would lead to arbitrary decisions on the basis of selective understanding of critical issues around the ecologically fragile areas.

Decentralization of wetlands management is seen as the ministry’s effort to sync environmental policies with the govt’s ease of doing business norms which are aimed at cutting delays in green clearances for development activities.

Centre, unfortunately under misguided push from Supreme Court following a misinformed petition, notifies new rules replacing the existing 2010 rules, removing almost all role of the centre, giving free rein to the states to do what they think is WISE.  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/flora-fauna/now-states-can-identify-and-manage-their-own-wetlands/articleshow/60863079.cms 

As per environmental experts provision like “central govt may consider proposals from the state govt or union territory administration for omitting any of the (prohibited) activities on the recommendation of the authority” in the new rules can be misused.

They also stated that as per the 2010 version of the rules, there was a Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) which will now be replaced by a national committee. Another major objection is about the process of appeal against the decisions of wetland authorities. According to the 2010 rules, anyone aggrieved with the CWRA’s decisions could have filed an appeal with the NGT, but the new 2017 rules are silent on the appeal process.

As per Sanjay Upadhyay, legal expert, the new rules falls short in details. He also says that at the outset, the identification process by the State Wetland Authority does not distinguish between existing wetlands and especially those past wetlands which have been encroached and can be proved through legal documents. He further adds that new rules also does not take into account the Jagpal Singh judgment of Justice Katju for restoration of encroached wetlands throughout the country.

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He stated that the other big gap is the subjective definition of “wise use” which is to be determined by the state wetland authority. “While the subject head talks about restrictions and the activities listed are to be prohibited, the provision gives ample space for undoing everything that ought to be prohibited. A comprehensive arrangement of this nature at the whims and discretion of the state govt can be best mentioned as a lip service to wetland conservation in India. Where are the appeal provisions? Where is the citizen’s role?” Upadhyay questioned. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/y6Tr3tkrr3q28AmGKaBFII/Environment-ministry-notifies-new-wetland-rules.html


National Small hydel plants equally destructive as big dams but Govts remain ignorant This is very good article highlighting that small hydro also have BIG impacts. The sad fact is that GOVT OFFICIALS ARE SO IGNORANT OR ACT SO IGNORANT. As per Sanjay Kumar Shahi, a scientist with the small hydel power project division of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, since these projects do not call for construction of dams, there is neither submergence of land nor the issue of relief or rehabilitation of local communities.

– As per the report conflicts between humans and elephants have increased since the construction of small hydel power projects in the region. Four hydel power projects were constructed between 2005 and 2010 on the river Yettinahole and its tributaries that drain into Gundia River basin on the Western Ghats. These are the 18MW scheme on Kempu Hole stream, a 9MW and 15MW project each on Kadamane Hole and Nayakan Hole (both tributaries of Kemphole), besides another 3 MW project on Yettinahole. The report also quotes Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP. https://scroll.in/magazine/844496/angry-elephants-and-disappearing-fish-small-hydel-plants-are-no-green-alternative-to-big-dams

Industry Large hydro continues to remain unviabale in India The Energy line India’s news letter of Sept 25, 2017 provides an update that shows how large hydro continues to remain unviable in India. As per the report, Jindal Power: Should new developers be found for its hydel assets?

Red ink continues to be spilled in Jindal Power and Steel’s balance sheet. A Rs 3,300 crore retrospective levy over above a heavy debt burden just when the market had turned hostile, both for steel and and power, forced the company to skip some interest payment milestones in 2016-17

But Jindal’s power assets continue to be profitable even as the company is divesting 1000 MW of its power capacity just so as to be able to handle the heavy burden imposed by its massive steel capacity expansions. Currently there are no plans to expand power sector capacity. The company however holds on to a very large hydel power portfolio in Arunachal Pradesh.

Clearly, given the financial stress, no progress has been made in any of them in the last couple of years. Does it make sense then for a new promoter to take over these hydel projects? Will there be any takers? http://www.energylineindia.com/  http://www.energylineindia.com/ 

Similarly there is another report explaining why Large Hydro is NOT VIABLE. Now it seems private sector is not even interested and govt is setting up a committee for this. It seems private sector is not bidding even for contracts, if we understand this report correctly.

– As per Debasish Mishra, Partner at consultancy firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India, in the current environment of power surplus, stressed assets in generation sector- neither private developers nor the banks will the risk appetite to take up investment in hydro sector.

In the meantime, even while installed capacity has gone up, hydropower generation has gone down by 12% in Aug this year compared to the power generation by hydro a year back. http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/power-ministry-forms-committee-to-woo-private-participation-in-hydropower-sector/60844437 

Similarly another very important development reinforces that big hydro is totally unviable.

– It says just in last 3 months, some 16 states have surrendered some 6625 MW of costly power, costing over 5-6 per unit, when power is available at Rs 3-3.5 at power exchanges.

– Even at this low price at power exchanges, there are NO TAKERS for about 50% of power on offer.

– The surrendered power includes power from HYDRO including from NHPC and THDC. http://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/nda-govts-electricity-push-when-states-are-switching-off-costly-power-4862810/

Amid this, Himachal Pradesh intends to return upfront premium of about Rs 300 Cr paid by some private companies for hydropower projects allotted to them, This is another sign of non viability of large hydro in India: “The projects which have made a plea before the government include 449-MW Duggar project in the Pangi area of Chamba district, 400-MW Seli project, 126-MW Bardang project, 104-MW Tandi project, 130-MW Rashil project, all four in the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti and 220-MW Bara Bhangal project. While the Duggar projects had been allotted to TATA, the 400-MW Seli was awarded to Moser Baer, while the remaining three were awarded to ABG Shipyard Ltd. The Bara Bhangal project had been allotted to the company which executed the Allian Dhawangan and Malana projects in Kullu.”

– It was on June 24 that the Cabinet had given a nod for returning Rs 85 crore to Reliance Power, paid as upfront premium for the two hydro-power projects of Purthy (Pangi) and Sumte Kothang in Spiti district that the company had surrendered. Reliance had been allotted these two projects about a decade ago, but later they surrendered them on the grounds that the capacity of the 300-MW Purthy project in the Pangi area of Chamba had declined by more than 20 per cent. There is a provision in the hydro power policy of the state that a power producer can decline to take up the project on these grounds. In case of Sumte Kothang hydro-power project in the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti, Reliance had declined to execute the project due to stiff opposition by the locals.

– Sources said the main plea cited by most of these companies was that the projects had become unviable or on technical grounds. “Barring the Bara Bhangal project, parts of which now fall in the wildlife sanctuary, in all other cases the grounds taken for surrendering the projects are rather flimsy,” said an official. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/state-mulls-returning-power-companies-premium/467709.html

Similarly work on expensive and economically unviable massive hydropower projects on Chenab in J&K stalled since rehabilitation of the affected is yet to progress. The title is misleading. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/work-on-jammu-and-kashmir-mega-hydel-project-to-start-in-2-months-official-1757369

Meanwhile a PIB PR claims that Saubhagya scheme will lead to additional electricity demand of 28000 MW, taking care of the 33000 MW of power generation capacity currently stranded without PPAs. This looks like very unrealistic. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=171148

Manipur  Najma for decommissioning Ithai dam Speaking at the launching programme of “Anthropogenic impact & their management options in the different ecosystems of the Indian Himalayan region (Imphal/Manipur river basin)”, governor Dr Najma Heptulla has assured that she would pursue the Govt to decommission the Ithai Dam in order to maintain ecological balance in the State. The Governor observed that the commissioning of the barrage has posed a serious threat to the ecological balance of the State, particularly to Loktak Lake and its surrounding areas. She also expressed unhappiness that the initiative taken up to clean Loktak Lake by investing around Rs 2 crore has not paid much dividend. http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=9..200917.sep17

Arunachal Pradesh Tension brews over proposed dam on Siang Several organisations in the northeastern state, where 40 big and small projects generating over 15,000 MW are being constructed, have come out in protest against the move.The opposition comes less than 48 hours after NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant floated the proposal for the 10,000 MW project at a meeting attended by CM Pema Khandu.

In a statement, Forum for Siang Dialogue and other organizations—Siang Peoples’ Forum and Siang Indigenous Farmers Forum termed the think tank’s proposal as a “MAD RUSH AND WEIRD DREAM OF MAKING MONEY”. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/tension-brews-in-arunachal-pradesh-over-proposed-dam-on-siang/story-Ew57EghkCUdwT9ruZ91rmO.html

Its worth to mention that in a very interesting press release CM Pema Khandu along with his state cabinet colleagues and CEO NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant urged on the need to make proposed Multipurpose River Valley Project for Siang River viable and feasible.

The proposed project is estimated to be 300 metre high dam with power generation capacity of 10000MW. The project being a multipurpose is stated to moderate flood and erosion providing relief in downstream river reaches of Arunachal and Assam.

The project is proposed at Siang Stage-II location, which will be built as a single storage project instead of earlier proposed two separate projects Stage-I and Stage-II on Siang river thereby reducing the cost of project by 25% and increasing the storage capacity of the dam.http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/arunachal-cm-pema-khandu-explores-multipurpose-project-for-siang/articleshow/60843797.cms

The organisations reminded the central government of PM Modi’s promise. at a rally prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Pashighat town of the state, that if voted to power, his government wouldn’t construct any mega dam opposed by locals.

The organisations opposing the Niti Aayog proposal also pointed towards the havoc created by last month’s flash floods in Lakhimpur area of Assam, which was exacerbated by the release of excess water from the Ranganadi Dam in Arunachal. However, any projects taken up even on tributaries will provide an entry for dam builders in the valley. https://thewire.in/182797/niti-aayog-stirs-opposition-dam-arunachal-pradesh/


Centre No dam break analysis even for century old dams For the first time, the Centre is planning to conduct a ‘break analysis’ of 5,247 large dams across the country, and put in place an emergency action plan, especially for the 196 that are over 100 years old. Of these 196 dams, 72 are in the southern states and Maharashtra.

In April 2012, DRIP was conceived with an estimated budget of Rs 2,100 crore. The project cost has now been revised to around Rs 3,400 crore and the World Bank has agreed to fund 80% of that. Alamatti dam (in Karnataka), size was increased based on advice from the World Bank, but it has several drawbacks.

One big problem was the fact that the majority of India’s large dams had dysfunctional scouring-sluices (which are responsible to keep silt out of the dams), affecting storage capacity and posing a threat to the structure.

The Tungabhadra dam in Karnataka is just 64 years old, and more than 37% of it is filled with silt. In June, the government conceded on the floor of the state assembly that it is impossible to remove more than 0.11% of the silt.

This is SHOCKING STATE OF AFFAIRS: We do not have dam break analysis even for over 100 yr old dams, and now we need World Bank funding to do that. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-a-first-govt-to-run-safety-checks-on-5000-big-dams/articleshow/60848726.cms


Sardar Sarovar Dam Inaugurated but completion still a distant dream Nandini Oza of THE WEEK shows how the benefits of Sardar Sarovar are not reaching the people for whom the project was justified and how most of the benefits are going to non priority Central Gujarat areas, like the way water if flowing in Sabarmati in Ahmedabad. Also contrary to what the Gujarat govt says, records show that the Sardar Sarovar Project is far from complete. Farmers who have been waiting decades for irrigation projects to bear fruit, do not expect any change in the near future. The state govt’s own records say that 25,000 km of canals need to be built and the total land irrigated remained unchanged at 2,07,057 hectares in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15. The project is yet to benefit far-flung areas like Kutch, Saurashtra and north Gujarat. Over the years, the state govt has largely focused on supplying water to industries and urban areas. http://www.theweek.in/theweek/statescan/damning-statistics.html

Madhya Pradesh आम आदमी पार्टी द्वारा आज ओम्कारेश्वर बांध के डूब प्रभावित क्षेत्र में किये गैरकानूनी जल भराव के खिलाफ डूब प्रभावितो के साथ 1 दिवसीय धरना दिया गया। यह धरना बोर्ड आफिस चौराहे पर दिया गया। इस धरने में आप कार्यकर्ताओ समेत डूब प्रभावित क्षेत्र से आए सैकड़ो प्रभावितो ने भी हिस्सा लिया। It is a rare event. Great to see a political party taking a stand against illegal submergence due to Omkareshwar Dam.

Maharashtra Jayakwadi dam storage rises to 100 % 7th times since commissioned The 102 TMC (76 TMC life and rest dead  storage) full storage capacity JAYAKWADI dam on Godavari river in Maharashtra got filled to 100% capacity for the seventh time since it was commissioned in 1976 (1989-90, 2000, 2005-06 to 2008-09). The report says due to conflicts, the project authorities may be resorting to lies. This is worrying… would like to know about any such instances. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/jayakwadi-storage-rises-to-100/articleshow/60887118.cms



Raneh Falls, Ken River Canyon (Photo by Himanshu Thakkar)

SANDRP Blog Ken Betwa Project to destroy Raneh Falls: India’s Mini Grand Canyon-cum- Mini Niagra “Oh my god! I wont have believed that such an amazingly beautiful river canyon exists in India had I not seen this!” These were my first words, believe or not, on seeing Raneh Falls earlier this year. It was such mesmerizingly beautiful scene that I could not believe no one has even mentioned that this whole site is likely to be destroyed by the proposed Ken Betwa Project (KWP). In fact, there are Amazing number of untold stories of the destruction that the proposed Ken Betwa link will cause. One of them is the story of Raneh Falls. The name is a bit of misnomer, but let us stick to it. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/ken-betwa-project-to-destroy-raneh-falls-indias-mini-grand-canyon-cum-mini-niagra/

Center  Govt going ahead with Ken Betwa link Union water minister Nitin Gadkari on Sept 25 held a meeting with CMs of Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP and MP and discussed with them the issue of inter-linking of rivers concerning their states. As per the report, Gujarat and Maharashtra are expected to sign a formal agreement shortly on the Damanganga-Pinjal inter-linking of river (ILR) project while UP & MP are expected to move forward on the Ken-Betwa ILR project. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/gadkari-discusses-inter-linking-of-river-projects-with-four-cms/articleshow/60832394.cms

While UP CM is discussing Ken-Betwa river inter-linking project with the union water resources ministry Jaggi Vasudev, led ‘Rally for Rivers’ campaign has reached Lucknow to seek support. It is again clear here that Jaggi Vasudev is NOT against Inter linking of Rivers. As per Sadguru connecting rivers is about how to use water and for that first there should be water. http://www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/sadhguru-to-meet-yogi-today-for-the-river-cause-we-need-a-policy-aimed-at-treating-rivers-as-national-treasure/story-G0WZCcdH3Bewhinac1eRnJ.html


Also see link to the NDTV discussion on Sept 28, 2017 featuring Jaggi Vasudev, Debi Goenka and SANDRP Coordinator. It was anchored by Vikram Chandra. NDTV was critical of the Rally and ILR, and Vikram was taking charitable view of both, so let us see how they carry the quotes. https://www.ndtv.com/video/shows/reality-check/water-crisis-rally-for-rivers-viable-solution-468817?pfrom=home-videos

Meanwhile, THE TIMES OF INDIA 02 Oct. EDIT says: “The science behind this (Interlinking of Rivers) is very dubious. Yet govts appear keen to pilot such expensive engineering feats. The Rs 18,000 crore Ken-Betwa interlinking project could destroy 10,000 hectares of forests, with nearly half of that in the Panna Tiger Reserve. Forests are of course critical catchment areas for rain-fed rivers. It’s best to avoid such schemes that could do more harm than good.”

Unfortunately, the Edit and the newspaper endorses an equally dubious Rally for Rivers, which wont help the cause of rivers, but could bring more harm directly and indirectly. https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-editorials/save-our-rivers-india-is-heading-for-a-grave-water-crisis-it-must-take-remedial-measures-urgently/

Similarly, there is such an amazingly lopsided and ill informed EDIT on inter linking of rivers in DNA. http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/editorial-dna-edit-link-to-prosperity-2548813


Bhakra-Nangal-Beas Projects Row SC asks AG to find amicable settlement SC has asked Attorney General to help resolve Himachal Dispute with Punjab and Haryana about power benefits from Punjab and Haryana. The report has the etails of the 2011 SC order and other relevant facts.  http://www.livelaw.in/sc-asks-ag-find-amicable-settlement-himachal-pradeshs-20-year-old-dispute-centre-haryana-punjab-read-order/


Centre Inland water ministry posing challenge to Water Ministry interests While the dam construction is destroying existing river navigation, Gadkari’s River navigation projects are flogging the dead rivers to run the ships, calling it a balancing act between Env and Development, bringing further adverse impacts on rivers, without even any assessments. And to add insult, they are saying river rejuvenation is their priority: http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/tightrope-walk-for-gadkari-as-ganga-rejuvenation-inland-waterways-clash-117092800247_1.html


Haryana Dadupur Nalvi irrigation project cancelled In a very rare development govt has canceled Dadupur Nalvi irrigation project and denotified 1019 acre acquired land, to be returned to farmers.  http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/canal-project-goes-down-the-drain/473826.html  

The land owners whose land was acquired from 2005 onwards were not satisfied with the award of lower courts and filed RFAs in the High Court. In May 2016, the High Court awarded compensation at Rs 116.83 lakh per acre plus incidental charges.

Since enhancement for only 167.27 acres had been given as Rs 566.49 crore by the High Court, the govt did not find the scheme feasible and hence decided to abandon the scheme and denotify the acquired land. Farmers of several villages in the district were sitting on a dharna for more than a month demanding payment of enhanced compensation for the acquired land. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/dadupur-nalvi-feeder-bku-meeting-to-discuss-issue-today/473827.html

The scheme was initiated in 1985 and the project was approved by the govt for Rs 13.00 crore for irrigation and recharging of groundwater in Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra and Ambala districts. For implementing the scheme, 190.67 acres of land was acquired during 1987-90. But the scheme could not be taken up further. In October 2005, the project was again approved by the govt for Rs 267.27 crore.

In its annual report of 2011-2012, the CAG has raised the observation regarding this scheme, that the reply of the department regarding usefulness of the project was not convincing as the primary objective of the project of providing canal irrigation could not be fulfilled. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/canal-project-goes-down-the-drain/473826.html 

It is worth to mention that the Yamuna river was the source of water for the project and there is not enough water in the river.


Smooth-coated otter

A family of Smooth-coated otters resting along the Mandovi riverbank in Goa.(Photo: Atul Borker)

SANDRP Guest Blog How much longer will Goa remain Otter Worthy? by Atul Borker, with Salil Chaturvedi Though Goa is the smallest state of India, it is blessed with as many as nine rivers. A unique aspect of Goan rivers is that they are tidal as well as rain-fed. During the monsoon months (June-September), water is drained out of the watershed through the rivers and into the sea. At the same time, the rivers experience a daily tidal influx upto 40 kilometers inland. The salinity of the rivers varies sharply between the monsoon and non-monsoon seasons, and so does the physico-chemical quality of the water. Needless to say, the people and the wildlife along the banks are highly attuned to these seasonal (and diurnal) changes, and the shy and elusive otter is one such animal. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/how-long-will-goa-be-otter-worthy/

Rally for Rivers This report EXPOSES THE FRUAD of how people are gathered for the RALLY FOR RIVERS, at state expenses, people not even knowing where and why they were being taken. This is the reason why Jaggi Vasudev and states are going with each other.  Jaggi needs crowds and state needs to divert attention from real river problems.

The crowd comprised mostly men and women bussed in from across the state, students whose schools had been sent notices to make sure they attend, nursing students whose colleges had been sent notices to attend, and many employees of the Rajasthan govt. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/sadhguru-says-save-rivers-vasundhara-raje-underlines-2011-initiative-4866362/

Study Most river basins in India not climate resilient It is not clear what is the basis for the conclusions:

– A new study by Indian researchers has shown that only 6 out of 22 river basins in the country have the potential to cope with the threat of climate change, particularly droughts.

– “We evaluated the ecosystem resilience in terms of the capability of an ecosystem to maintain its productivity during hydroclimatic disturbances,” lead researcher Dr Manish Goyal said while speaking to India Science Wire. The research team also included Ashutosh Sharma.

– “Only six river basins—Brahmaputra, Indus, Pennar, west flowing rivers of Kutch and Saurashtra including Luni basin, east flowing rivers between Krishna and Pennar basins and east flowing rivers between Pennar and Cauvery basin—were able to sustain their primary productivity by increasing the water use efficiency under driest years.”

– Ganga basin, the most populous and agriculturally important basin, was also found slightly non-resilient.

– It is clear that forests have higher resilience to withstand the climatic disturbances. The deforestation activities, in the name of economic development and expansion of agriculture, will result in making country more vulnerable to climate change. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/climate-change-most-river-basins-in-india-not-climate-resilient/article9876166.ece

The study also says that inability of ecosystems to tolerate water-limited conditions may pose a serious challenge in terms of carbon sequestration, crop production, and food security.

The study noted that recent researches have indicated that there is an increasing trend in hydroclimatic disturbances like droughts, which are anticipated to become more frequent and intense under global warming and climate change. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/mG6mzUyYV31A8HPFLQmMmL/Twothirds-of-Indias-terrestrial-ecosystems-vulnerable-to-d.html

GANGA Report Receding Glaciers As per report, in olden time the snout of the Gangotri glacier Gaumukh was extended as far as Gangotri town, located almost 18 km away. However, uncontrolled development activities including deforestation, rampant construction and unregulated flow of tourists (and the pollution caused by their vehicles) has caused the glacier -which is around 30-km long and between .5 to 2.5 km wide -to not just recede but also raised worries over the continuing health of the source of the country’s most revered river.

According to scientist DP Dobhal, Gangotri glacier has been under a state of continuous recession since 1935. The Geological Survey of India which monitored the glacier from 1935 till 1996 found that the glacier retreated by 1147 metres, with an average rate of 19 mtr year between 1935 and 1996. The total area vacated by the glacier during 1935 to 1996 is estimated to be 5, 78,100 sq mtr. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/at-its-source-ganga-runs-an-obstacle-course/articleshow/60897628.cms

Center NMCG to use latest Geo-Spatial Technologies to revive Ganga river. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=171223

Uttarakhand Is Kosi river dying a slow death? Like many other dying rivers in the country, the quietly flowing Kosi may soon shrink to a dangerous level if debris thrown into it from construction work along the river front is not prohibited soon. For the past one year, tonnes of untreated solid waste from construction activities for widening the existing NH 109, between Khaina and Almora, are choking the river. In the first phase of the project, work for a four-lane highway is being undertaken between Khairna and Kwarab bridge in Almora. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/is-kosi-river-dying-a-slow-death/articleshow/60904129.cms

YAMUNA Uttar Pradesh Ten illegal farmhouses on Yamuna floodplain sealed Interesting information: The IAF on November 26, 1950, had acquired 482 acres under its Tilpat firing and bombing range located in Faridabad and some villages of the then Bulandshahr district. When the air force stopped using this floodplain, now under the jurisdiction of Noida Authority, the farmers started agricultural activities. Later, the land mafia constructed farmhouses in the area. The petitioner in July 2015 had alleged that the mafia had encroached on the floodplain that was reserved for a bombing range since 1950. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/ten-illegal-farmhouses-on-yamuna-floodplain-sealed/articleshow/60875395.cms


Centre Mining policy panel excludes Adivasis, ecologists, civil society A 29 memeber KR Rao committee set up to review mining policy has no ecologists, no sociologists, no civil society members, no hydrologists.. only bureaucrats and industry representatives.. shocking that SC, which directed the creation of the committee, did not even ask for a more balanced committee. https://scroll.in/article/851458/india-has-a-chance-to-clean-up-its-mining-sector-but-the-government-is-blowing-it

As per another news, on August 2, 2017, Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, disposing of a petition filed by non-profit organisation Common Cause, ruled that 100% of the value of the iron and manganese ore that been mined illegally in the state would have to be recovered, dealing a blow to companies such as Tata Steel and Essel Mining. As part of its judgment, the bench also ordered the Modi govt to set up a committee that would have a fresh look at the 2008 national mineral policy, “especially on areas of conservation and development”. https://thewire.in/182397/india-mineral-policy/


India Water Portal 80 % of Braj Kunds extinct now Man-made small water bodies known as kunds dating back to the 5th to the 15th century served as important sources of freshwater in Braj. The significance of kunds was huge. There were more than 1000 kunds in Braj. The water was used for multiple purposes. Due to rapid urbanisation, a lack of maintenance and prolonged negligence in the last 200 years, 80 percent of the kunds became silted up and were relegated to gradual extinction. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/saving-kunds-vrindavan


Punjab Falling ground water level Groundwater levels continue to decline in Punjab, a survey of 702 wells show that in 89% of wells representing 94% of territory shows declining trend and also deteriorating water quality. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/centre-alerts-state-over-decline-in-water-table/474587.html 



Maharashtra 3,000 MLD sewage enters waters daily: MoEF Report This report says Maharashtra may be releasing 3000 MLD untreated urban sewage, but this seems like GROSS under estimate. Firstly it assumes that the existing treatment capacity of 5160 MLD is functioning as per design! In reality, this capacity is likely to function at less than 50%. Secondly The figures given imply that population outside Mumbai is generating just around 51 LPCP sewage or using just around 65 LPCD water, which again is gross under estimate, considering that Mumbai uses around 170 LPCD water. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/3-000-million-litres-of-sewage-enters-maharashtra-waters-daily-says-environment-ministry-report/story-7ojia9Yj2gTXfn7quPTzZP.html


DJB removes cap on water connections per building Some good decisions by DJB after first Board meeting under the chairmanship of Arvind Kejriwal includes sanction of 93 decentralised STPs and Rs 222 for installing water meters for achieving water audit. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-jal-board-removes-cap-on-water-connections-per-building/?utm_source=itrendsnow.com



Report Why India struggles to predict the weather over its lands EXCELLENT, detailed report on IMD forecasts about monsoon.

– The meteorological department officials have said that, over time, they have been able to achieve 60% certainty in forecasts for up to five days. The confidence drops after that.

– The officials also say that at the end of the season, the monsoon is still likely to be normal. “But that information isn’t really of much use because a lot of central India and parts of Maharashtra and southern India had very long dry periods,” said an IMD official on condition of anonymity. “What the department needs to do is to divide India into different zones and issue long-range forecasts for each zone.”

– What we need more is forecasts at the block level. “Knowing how much and when it will rain in Maharashtra or even in Marathwada [a cluster of eight districts in Maharashtra] doesn’t help us because rainfall varies so much even within the district,” Pande said.

– The IMD collects weather data like temperature, humidity, wind and precipitation through 679 automatic weather stations, 550 surface observatories, 43 radiosonde or weather balloons, 24 radars and three satellites (which constantly share weather data with other global satellites). Sadly, these numbers are just not enough given the size of India.

– At the moment, the IMD provides district-wise weather data but this is also inchoate. For example, when it says there will be scattered rainfall over a particular district, it means that 26-50% that district (by area) will receive rainfall. What it doesn’t tell us is the shape of that ‘26-50%’ region. According to Ashis K. Mitra, a scientist with the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida, this is difficult to predict. “The error in forecast increases as you decrease the area. Weather is a complex phenomenon and rainfall is an especially-so variable that is hard to get right,” said Srinivasan.

– Dynamical models won’t run until you feed data about current weather conditions – a.k.a. the initial values – to predict the values of the future. As Dash says, “If you need block-level forecasts, you need to put in block-level initial values.” Block wise accurate information is not available.

– What paralyses models is its poor quality. A retired scientist from the Pune meteorological department, who wished to remain unnamed, said that some of the automatic weather stations are of substandard quality and that the government purchased them at lower prices to cut costs. “Substandard equipment will give you substandard data,” he said. He added that the upkeep of instruments was/is a major problem. “They need to be calibrated and cleaned regularly, which doesn’t happen often. That affects data.”

– Mitra claims that the government has begun to replace the substandard instruments. “We plan to give block-level forecasts in a year or two.”

– Weather systems in the tropics aren’t understood very well. One reason for this is that weather systems destabilise faster in the tropics than they do in the extra-tropics, where they persist for longer durations.

– This is also why processes like cloud-formation are neither well-understood nor well-represented. Similarly, we know little about why the monsoons vary as much as they do on the terms of their relationship with other weather phenomena.

– Ironically, now that India has more computing power and better models to work with, there is a lack of competent software professionals and scientists working with the IMD.

– But that’s changing gradually. Just a couple of months ago, CAS received a go-ahead from the Ministry of Science and Technology to launch a Centre of Excellence in Climate Modelling. Once it’s operation, it will support a group of ten scientists studying how we can improve models and reduce errors. https://thewire.in/180850/imd-weather-prediction-forecast-monsoons-drought-agrometeorology-kharif/

FLOOD 2017

Urban Flood Heavy rain flooded homes in Mysuru  Erratic rainfall continues to expose the vulnerability of Indian cities to flooding. After Chandigarh, Mumbai, Haridwar earlier this year its Mysuru turn now. The city received 130 mm rainfall, the highest for a 24-hour period in recent years. Residents report of witnessing this much rain first time in 30 years. Weathermen have forecast more rain in the days ahead. Kanakagiri among worst hit, 750 houses flooded. There is reportedly NO STORM-WATER DRAIN to divert water to the adjoining waterbodies on the outskirts of the Kanakagiri city where 7000 residents live. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/rain-mysuru-floods-mysore-rainfall-monsoon-kanakagiri/article19765595.ece

Similarly unmitigated and thoughtless urbanization in Guwahati has damaged the ecological balance of this once small town. The urban floods are almost an annual phenomenon in Guwahati—in 2017, in a little over one month, five lives were lost as a result of flooding. If Guwahati has to combat the urban flooding problem, it has to urgently revitalize its four major ponds, along with hundreds of other ponds and channels which have been destroyed. http://www.livemint.com/Sundayapp/SITVi9LbbYUjw37QLYUInI/How-Assams-four-ponds-kept-the-city-from-sinking-till-now.html


Report Missing rice varieties A few decades ago, India was estimated to have over 100,000 rice varieties. Much of this heritage has been irretrievably lost. Here are a couple of reportage and opinion pieces the author has recently written on a conservation movement centred around Adivasi farming communities from state of Orissa, who are keeping some of this stunning, yet severely endangered, rice biodiversity alive. This is a part of India, which policymakers and the mainstream media often stereotype as ‘backward’ and ‘Maoist-infested’. Through their knowledges, skills and cultures, farmers here have sustained, and are preserving close to 200 heirloom rice varieties. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/24/why-indias-farmers-want-to-conserve-indigenous-heirloom-rice , http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/agriculture/guardians-of-the-grain/article19735976.ece

Maharashtra Distress sale of pulses  SAD to see this, as Ashok Pawar ji informed me two days back, farmers in Maharashtra has started selling Urad and Moong at below the MSP, since state is still trying to see if Centre is going to fund this procurement or not. Why could the state not do it in advance? http://www.financialexpress.com/market/commodities/maharashtra-farmers-resort-to-distress-sale-of-pulses/872133/


Punjab Media  ignorant to farmers protest पंजाब में पांच दिनों से सात किसान संगठनों के पचास हजार से ज्‍यादा किसान धरने पर बैठे रहे और आखिरकार 26 सितंबर को उठ गए, लेकिन अब तक इसकी खबर मीडिया में नहीं आई है। स्‍थानीय अखबारों टिब्‍यून और अंग्रेज़ी के अखबारों को छोड़ दें तो पाठकों को कानोकान खबर तक नहीं हुई कि पटियाला के बाहरी इलाके और बठिंडा से 21 सितंबर तक 300 किसानों को गिरु्तार किया जा चुका था और सारे नाके बंद कर दिए गए थे। हाइकोर्ट के निर्देश पर चंडीगढ़ और पटियाला में किसानों का आंदोलन रोकने के लिए पैरामिलिटरी फोर्स लगा दी गई थी। पांच दिन चले कर्ज माफी के इस आंदोलनन में एक किसान की मौत भी हुई है। http://www.mediavigil.com/investigation/punjab-farmers-end-five-day-protest-without-any-media-glare/


WB continues its fundamentalist advocacy for big hydro Here the WB author talks about export of hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan to Bangladesh, when it would possibly be much cheaper for Bangladesh to import directly from India’s surplus power. http://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/boosting-business-in-the-bangladesh-corridor-is-crucial-to-india-s-act-east-policy/story-QQil8gOEvRPEX6XZshJteP.html

Pakistan INDUS WATER SHARE of Punjab and SIndh reduced by 20% each, climate change blamed for the shortage. WAPDA official official suggested increasing the dead level of Tarbela Dam by six feet to 1,386 feet and Mangla Dam by 22 feet to 1,062 feet. No reason given, but this could be due to siltation. https://tribune.com.pk/story/1519685/irsas-decision-punjab-sindhs-share-irrigation-water-reduced/


US INTERESTING LAW SUIT ON COLORADO RIVER IN US: DOES A RIVER HAVE RIGHTS? This is the essential question in what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, in which a Denver lawyer and a far-left environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person.

– The suit was filed Monday in Federal District Court in Colorado by Jason Flores-Williams, a Denver lawyer. It names the river ecosystem as the plaintiff — citing no specific physical boundaries — and seeks to hold the state of Colorado and Gov. John Hickenlooper liable for violating the river’s “right to exist, flourish, regenerate, be restored, and naturally evolve.”

– If a corporation has rights, the authors argue, so, too, should an ancient waterway that has sustained human life for as long as it has existed in the Western United States. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/us/does-the-colorado-river-have-rights-a-lawsuit-seeks-to-declare-it-a-person.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share


Puerto Rico dam on brink of collapse The Puerto Rico dam that was severely weakened by Hurricane Maria teetered on the brink of collapse, as residents endured another day without power and dwindling food and water.

A collapse of the earthen Guajataca Dam in the northwest part of the island could trigger a flood that would threaten the lives of tens of thousands of people. It’s been nearly a week since Hurricane Maria directly hit the island as a Category 4 storm, and residents were still struggling to access basic supplies such as clean drinking water and gas. “The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years,” Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez told CBS News. http://nypost.com/2017/09/25/puerto-rico-dam-on-brink-of-collapse/

 “Photographs of the incident show there’s structural damage at the base of the dam’s spillway, where overflows appear to be eroding the bottom of the dam,” says Tracey Williamson, chairman of the British Dam Society. Similar incidents and near misses have happened before. “Depending on whether the overflow continues or increases for a significant amount of time, there’s a possibility that erosion could progress to the point where the dam could breach.” https://www.newscientist.com/article/2148561-thousands-of-puerto-ricans-evacuated-as-dam-threatens-to-breach/

Brazil Amazon facing hydro dam boom Brazil is in the midst of a hydropower construction boom that is inundating large areas of rainforest and driving indigenous people from their lands — all while failing to fully develop the country’s vast potential for solar and wind energy.

– The most notable example is the massive Belo Monte Dam, the world’s fourth-largest hydroelectric project. The dam itself has already blocked the 1,000-mile Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon. Belo Monte’s reservoir, filled at the end of 2015, flooded 260 square miles of lowlands and forest, displaced more than 20,000 people, and caused extensive damage to a river ecosystem that contains more than 500 fish species, many of them found nowhere else.

– Now, the Brazilian government has set its sights on the Tapajós River, another major tributary of the Amazon River with 43 dams, each with over 30 MW capacity.

– Should Brazil’s unfettered dam construction continue at the current pace, the country will essentially take all of the major free-flowing Amazon tributaries east of the Madeira River — in effect, half of the Amazon basin — and turn them into continuous chains of reservoirs. This would mean expelling all of the traditional residents from two-thirds of Brazilian Amazonia.

– But Amazonian dams have a panoply of social and environmental impacts that, if they were given proper weight in decision-making, would cause the Brazilian government to pursue instead the country’s abundant energy alternatives to obtain the benefits of electricity.

– the European countries that buy the carbon credits are allowed to emit millions of tons of carbon on the basis of dams that would be built anyway. Such projects drain “green” money that could otherwise be used for measures that really do serve to reduce global emissions, such as wind and solar energy projects. http://e360.yale.edu/features/how-a-dam-building-boom-is-transforming-the-brazilian-amazon

Study How wetlands help flood mitigation This study calculates the financial benefits that coastal wetlands provide by reducing storm surge damages from hurricanes. Our recently published study found that this function is enormously valuable. It offers new evidence that protecting natural ecosystems is a cost-effective way to reduce risks from coastal storms and flooding.

– It shows that during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, coastal wetlands prevented more than US$625 million in direct property damages by buffering coasts against its storm surge. Across 12 coastal states, from Maine to North Carolina, wetlands and marshes reduced damages by an average of 11 percent.

– These benefits varied widely by location at the local and state level. In Maryland, wetlands reduced damages by 30 percent. In highly urban areas like New York and New Jersey they provided hundreds of millions of dollars in flood protection.

– Just as we would not build in front of a seawall or a levee, it is important to be aware of the impacts of building near wetlands.

– Wetlands reduce flood losses from storms every year, not just during single catastrophic events. We examined the effects of marshes across 2,000 storms in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. These marshes reduced flood losses annually by an average of 16 percent, and up to 70 percent in some locations.

– Even after suffering years of damage, Florida’s mangrove wetlands and coral reefs play crucial roles in protecting the state from hurricane surges and waves. And yet, over the last six decades urban development has eliminated half of Florida’s historic mangrove habitat. https://theconversation.com/as-communities-rebuild-after-hurricanes-study-shows-wetlands-can-significantly-reduce-property-damage-83935

Rusia Hydro noodles from Rusia There is a lot that is disturbing here, but this one also has comic touch: “On September 28, on RusHydro’s accounts in popular social networks Instagram and VK featured innovative utilization of Sayano-Shushenskaya plant’s idle hydropower and water resources of its enormous reservoir that exceeds 30 cubic kilometers. In a social advertisement the Company claims that this reservoir is big enough to cook 153 trillion packs of instant noodles at once (presumably, utilizing its excess power for boiling ).

Hydropower industry around the world is often struggling hard to justify use of giant dams, which are expensive and risk-prone. Since they lose competition in energy generation recently we started hearing about climate-saving hydro, fish-breeding hydro, recreational hydro, flood-control hydro,etc. However,the noodle-boiling hydro is a unique innovative solution, pioneered by Rushydro Co.” http://www.transrivers.org/2017/2030/


Bihar Disasters increasing due to climate change  THIS IS RARE, DEPUTY CM MAKES CATEGORICAL LINK BETWEEN FLOODS AND CLIMATE CHANGE.   As per him, states like Bihar are the worst victims of climate change as it frequently faces floods and drought affecting development. As per report, Bihar faced major floods in the year 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2017 causing loss of life and property, damage to crops, roads and other infrastructure. For this year’s flood, 514 people died and the state govt paid Rs 1788 crore as ex-gratia to 30 lakh affected families. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/disasters-increasing-in-bihar-due-to-climate-change-deputy-cm-sushil-modi-4862451/

Sikkim Project launched for managing complex disasters The project is supported by MoEF is being implemented by the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) and the technical organisation SEEDS with support from the State Disaster Management Authority of the Sikkim government. http://www.india.com/news/agencies/sikkim-project-launched-for-managing-complex-disasters-in-face-of-climate-change-2489124/


CPR Press Release Mapping dilutions in India’s 2013 Land Acquisition Law Centre for Policy Research in this paper shows how the discredited amendments in Land Acquisition Act of 2013 has found its way in some of the state legislations diluting the key provisions of Social Impact Assessment, Consent and higher compensation, among others. http://cprindia.org/news/6456

Book Review Indira Gandhi’s elite environmentalism Darryl D’Monte reviews Jairam Ramesh’s book and Indira Gandhi’s environmental legacy: To sum up, one should still laud Gandhi for being a torch-bearer for the fledgling official concern from the 1970s for protecting the environment. Had she demonstrated greater democratic instincts, this contribution would have been that much greater. However, it positively shines by comparison with the record of today’s BJP leaders who are whittling down law after law in the reckless pursuit of misguided “development”. http://www.indiatogether.org/indira-gandhi-s-elite-environmentalism-reviews

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin   25 September 2017 &   DRP News Bulletin 18 September 2017

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