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Tell us one place where Ganga is clean: National Green Tribunal tells Modi govt

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Friday asked the government to “tell us one place” where the Ganga is clean and said that despite spending huge sums, the situation has gone from bad to worse.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Expressing open displeasure over the government’s lackadaisical approach towards ensuring cleanliness and uninterrupted flow of the Ganga, it said “we take it that almost nothing has happened in reality.”

The green panel, which was asked to act against industrial units polluting Ganga by the Supreme Court, said the Centre and the states over the years have only been shifting responsibility and nothing concrete was visible on the ground.

“Would you please tell us that is it correct that more than Rs 5,000 crore has been spent on Ganga in making it worse from bad. We don’t want to know whether you have allotted this quantum of money to the states or have spent it yourself.

“Out of the 2,500 km stretch of the river Ganga, tell us one place, where the condition of the river has improved,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked.

The counsel appearing for Ministry of Water Resources told the bench that almost Rs 4,000 crore has been spent on the rejuvenation of the river since 1985 till last year.

He said that Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-I was launched as a centrally-funded scheme in 1985 and later GAP Phase-II was initiated in 1993 to improve the river’s water quality. In 2009, ‘National Ganga River Basin Authority’ (NGRBA) was setup for pollution control in the Ganga.

NGRBA, a World Bank-funded scheme, was aimed at effective abatement of pollution and conservation of Ganga and 70 percent of the total project cost was contributed by the Centre and the remaining expenses were borne by the states, he said.

To this, the bench said, “better be careful of what you say. We take it as almost nothing has happened in reality. It is not suddenly that we are asking for all the information from you.

“We have been waiting for the last one year. But for one reason or the other, you have been delaying the issue. We don’t want to comment on that. But this time we are not leaving it to your discretion, be rest assured. To clean Ganga is your prime responsibility. Days are very short for you,” the bench said.

PTI

Pandemonium in Lok Sabha leads to adjournment as Congress members tear, throw papers

Pandemonium was witnessed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as agitated Congress members tore papers and threw them towards the Deputy Speaker M Thambi Durai and continued their vociferous protest leading to repeated adjournment of proceedings, as government tried to take up business for the day.

Parliament

PTI photo
Pandemonium was witnessed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as agitated Congress members tore papers and threw them towards the Deputy Speaker M Thambi Durai and continued their vociferous protest leading to repeated adjournment of proceedings, as government tried to take up business for the day.Efforts to take up a discussion on the sustainable development goals, which was to be followed by a debate on issues arising out of IPL controversy, saw Congress members intensifying their protest on the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.As the presiding officer tried to go ahead with the business ignoring the protest, some Congress members tore papers and threw them towards the Deputy Speaker who adjourned the House in a huff.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At one point, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, Jagdambika Pal, Kirron Kher and other BJP members too came to the Well to protest against the unruly behaviour of the Congress members.The House was adjourned for the day after two adjournments as there was no let up in the protest despite Speaker Sumitra Mahajan strongly expressing her anguish over the developments.”I am extremely sad over the way you (Congress members) behaved with the chair,” she observed before adjourning the House for the day.”… The way the papers were thrown at Deputy Speaker cannot be pardoned. This is not the way. Is it a way (to behave)? I am warning you…throwing paper is not proper,” she said.

Drought? Last month alone Maha govt drained 350 MCM water into sea!

The westward water wastage is happening through the four-stage Koyna dam which annually diverts 1,911 MCM of water.

Representational Image

Maharashtra diverted more than 350 million cubic metres (MCM) water from the Krishna-Bhima basins to the high rainfall coastal region of Konkan (which received 1,467.1 mm rain till August 7, 2015) from where it drained out to the sea between July 1 to August 6. This, at a time when the state is struggling with rain deficit, drought, crop failure and may be staring at a drinking water crisis!The westward water wastage is happening through the four-stage Koyna dam which annually diverts 1,911 MCM of water. Given its installed capacity and the power it generated in this period this works out to 216.7 MCM. That’s how much water was allowed to drain off into the sea after power generation. Similarly, the three Tata hydropower stations (Khopoli, Bhivpuri and Bhira), divert 1,413 MCM of water annually as a run-off. This works out to at least 136.64 MCM for the same period.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This water could have saved crops and farmers from suicides in the killing fields across Marathwada in Maharashtra and also in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana downstream. As of now Koyna dam has 1,948 MCM water, which is 69% of its capacity and the Tata dams have 587 MCM water, which is 52% of their storage capacity, compared to Ujani, Srisailam and Nagarjunsagar dams, all of which have zero water in terms of live storage as per the latest Central Water Commission reservoir storage report. “The collective amount of 2,535 MCM of live storage water in Koyna and Tata dams could be easily released into the Bhima-Krishna basins to benefit the whole river basin, right till the tail end in Krishna delta,” pointed out Parineeta Dandekar of South Asia Network of Dams Rivers and People (SANDRP). “Currently all this water is stored for future diversion to sea via Konkan.”Understandably this has led to outrage downstream since both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are already conserving available water for drinking. “We aren’t even releasing water for saving crops in the Krishna delta. It’s shocking to hear about the callous way in which water is allowed to flow into the sea,” lamented irrigation advisor to Telengana state, Vidyasagar Rao, who added, “We know the Krishna water tribunal has allocated Maharashtra more water. So challenging it legally may not be possible but we will raise this with the Centre so that something can be done at least on humanitarian grounds.”In Maharashtra, where perennially dry Marathwada is reeling under its worst rainfall deficit with only 5% water left in its dams, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan denied having any information of water flowing into the sea. “As of now we can only pray to the rain gods to ensure enough rains. If we could bring that water to Marathwada we’d have done so on priority. We can’t stop diverting water to the Tata dams because this’ll affect the power production.”Experts like Himanshu Thakkar of the SANDRP are not convinced. “From July 1 to August 6, 2015, wind power generation in Maharashtra was 1,378.1 MU, almost three times the power generation from Koyna and Tata dams that could have been forgone if the diversion was stopped,” said Thakkar adding, “Moreover, it’s well known that during this period, power demand across the country is so low that the plant load factor of thermal power projects has come close to 50% from a peak of 80%. NTPC’s own records show poor off-take of power with the cost of power at power exchanges coming down to below Rs 2.5 per unit, from Rs 7.5 per unit a few years ago. While this shows how loss of power could’ve been compensated, there’s no way to compensate the losses due to loss of water for the farmers.” Interestingly, Mahajan himself informed dna, “Kharif crop across Marathwada has failed due to lack of water. Lakhs of farmers are staring at crop loss even after repeated sowing. Though we’ve deployed nearly 1,800 plus tankers in the region, demand is growing.” The minister’s concerns find resonance with senior officials at the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority who agree that stopping diversion of Koyna waters will benefit lakhs of farmers in Maharashtra, Andhra and Telengana. “The question is of political will,” said a senior official.

Govt to raise one battalion of Ganga Task Force

In his reply to a question, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat said that the Ministry of Defence has agreed to raise one battalion of Ganga Task Force initially for monitoring the pollution through ex-servicemen living along River Ganga.

River Ganga

dna Research & Archives
The Defence Ministry has agreed to raise one battalion of Ganga Task Force initially, comprising ex-servicemen who will be residing along the river for monitoring pollution, Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday.In his reply to a question, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat said that the Ministry of Defence has agreed to raise one battalion of Ganga Task Force initially for monitoring the pollution through ex-servicemen living along River Ganga.Responding to another query on rejuvenation of River Ganga, the minister said that Germany, Australia, Canada, Singapore and the Netherlands have expressed interest to support Ganga rejuvenation through knowledge/technology sharing and providing financial/technical assistance for cleaning up of Ganga, capacity building, research and development, sharing of experiences, expertise and best practises. PTI YKS<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Maharashtra: Shiv Sena joins opposition demand of Rs 12,000 cr package for Marathwada

Arjun Khotkar (Shiv Sena), legislator from Jalna, complained that Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan had not mentioned anything in his reply on Marathwada’s irrigation and development that would give relief to people of the region, which is staring at a drought. Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the government has made provision of only Rs 900 crores and it is like rubbing salt on the wounds of people of Marathwada

The Shiv Sena on Friday joined the Opposition Congress and NCP in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly to demand a Rs 12,000 crore package to meet out the irrigation backlog in Marathwada region.Arjun Khotkar (Shiv Sena), legislator from Jalna, complained that Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan had not mentioned anything in his reply on Marathwada’s irrigation and development that would give relief to people of the region, which is staring at a drought. Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the government has made provision of only Rs 900 crores and it is like rubbing salt on the wounds of people of Marathwada.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He demanded a package of Rs 12,000 crores to overcome the backlog. Earlier, replying to a debate on the issue, Mahajan said he would convene a meeting of legislators from the region in Aurangabad next week.He assured the House that priority would be given to projects that are 70-75 per cent complete.Health Minister Deepak Sawant announced that a mental health hospital would be opened in Jalna. Power Minister Chandrashekar Bawankule said solar energy projects would be set up in the region. However, NCP leader Ajit Pawar took objection to Mahajan’s comment that the Congress and NCP had during their rule done nothing to develop Marathwada.The former Deputy Chief Minister said the previous government (Congress-NCP) had done all it could. Some mistakes happened and that is why people voted you to power, Pawar said.

India expected to become water scarce by 2025: Govt tells Parliament

New Delhi: India is faced with the alarming prospect of becoming water scarce in 10 years’ time, or by 2025, the government has said citing a study by a consulting firm in the water sector.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In his reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat on Thursday said that consulting firm ‘Everything About Water’ (EA Water) has concluded that India’s demand for water is expected to exceed all current sources of supply and the country is set to become water scarce by the year 2025.

According to the minister, the average annual water availability for the country has been assessed by the Central Water Commission to be at 1,869-billion cubic metres (BCM).

But due to topographical, hydrological and other constraints, the utilisable water has been estimated to be about 1,123 BCM, he added.

The National Commission for Integrated Water Resources Development, in a 1999 report, had said that the annual water requirement by 2025 and 2050 will be about 843 BCM and 1,180 BCM, respectively, Jat further said.

Noting that several steps for augmentation, conservation and efficient management of water resources are undertaken by state governments, he said that the Centre provides technical and financial assistance in order to supplement their efforts.

PTI

India set to face water scarcity by 2025, govt tells Parliament

According to Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat, the average annual water availability for the country has been assessed by the Central Water Commission to be at 1,869-billion cubic metres (BCM).
Representational Image

India is faced with the alarming prospect of facing water scarcity in 10 years’ time, or by 2025, the government has said citing a study by a consulting firm in the water sector.In his reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat on Friday said that consulting firm ‘Everything About Water’ (EA Water) has concluded that India’s demand for water is expected to exceed all current sources of supply and the country is set to become water scarce by the year 2025.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the minister, the average annual water availability for the country has been assessed by the Central Water Commission to be at 1,869-billion cubic metres (BCM).But due to topographical, hydrological and other constraints, the utilisable water has been estimated to be about 1,123 BCM, he added.The National Commission for Integrated Water Resources Development, in a 1999 report, had said that the annual water requirement by 2025 and 2050 will be about 843 BCM and 1,180 BCM, respectively, Jat further said.Noting that several steps for augmentation, conservation and efficient management of water resources are undertaken by state governments, he said that the Centre provides technical and financial assistance in order to supplement their efforts.

New NASA study reveals world’s running out of groundwater, and India’s particularly at risk

A study based on data collected from a NASA satellite has revealed that the underground aquifers of the world, a very important source of fresh water for people, are being depleted at an alarming rate.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

According to data gathered from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite, twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers have gone beyond their sustainability tipping point, which means that the amount of water removed from these aquifers over the decade-long study, reported The Washington Post.

One of the most alarming findings of this study was that the aquifer in the Indus basin region in India and Pakistan was the world’s second-most stressed aquifer.

A stressed aquifer is one suffering from rapid depletion with almost no signs of recovery.

To get some perspective on how serious the problem is: the only aquifer that was more stressed than the Indus basin was the Arabian aquifer, a water sourced used by over 60 million people.

The report also said that underground aquifers account for 35 percent of the water used by the world. The consequences of aquifers drying up slowly could severely affect India in the future, where alternatives for water sources are limited and shortages might lead to instability in the region.

Another result of unrestricted usage of water from aquifers is that since water from aquifers is moved to the surface, it would account for a 25 percent rise in sea levels before 2050, according to a 2012 study, reported The Atlantic. This would make relocated groundwater the third-most significant cause for rise in sea level this century.

The data on the basis of which these conclusions were drawn was collected from the GRACE satellite, which was launched in 2002. It measures water the under the ground by analysing the variation in gravitational tug across the planet.

The study based on the data collected was published in the Water Resources Research journal. You can read the entire study here.

Bihar govt sounds flood alert in 5 districts after landslide in Nepal

Patna: The Bihar government on Sunday sounded flood alert in five districts after a massive landslide, triggered by recent earthquakes, blocked the Kali Gandaki river at Benibazar in Myagdi district of Nepal, leading to accumulation of a huge volume of water there.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“We have alerted East Champaran, West Champaran, Gopalganj, Siwan and Saran districts on the situation. Our department officials are also on alert. We have asked them to be prepared as a sudden breach in the Kali Gandaki river blockage may increase the water level,” Water Resources Department (WRD) Secretary Dipak Kumar Singh told PTI.

Several hundred villages dot the low-lying riverine area of Gandak and they are the ones that face the immediate threat from the rising level of water.

“There is no need to panic as the place of the blockade is far from our borders. The water is expected to disperse on its way even if the blockade is breached there,” Singh added.

Singh said the place of blockade of the river, which is known as Narayani and Gandak, is over 200 kilometres from Valmikinagar barrage at Indo-Nepal border and an official has been sent there to assess the situation.

WRD officials said that around 95 percent flow of the river has stopped due to the landslides, which have created the artificial lake of about four-km-long and 200-metre-broad with about 1.5 million cubic litres of water.

Meanwhile, the sluice gates of Valmikinagar barrage on the river at Indo-Nepal border are already open as the water level is quite low at this time of peak summer.

WRD Engineer-in-Chief (North) Rajesh Kumar said the low level of water-level will prove to be helpful if there is a sudden release of water.

Last year in August, a landslide over Bhote Kosi, a major tributary of Kosi River in Nepal, had led to formation of a massive water body. It had led to high alert in Bihar on floods.

The situation was defused after Indian Army personnel helped their counterparts in the neighbouring country to gradually breach the blockade and release accumulated water in a measured manner.

PTI

Maharashtra BJP minister has revolver tucked in belt while addressing kids

Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan of BJP has come in for criticism for attending a deaf and dumb children’s event with his revolver tucked in his waist which was very much visible for everyone.

File Photo
Image Courtesy: Facebook
Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan of BJP has come in for criticism for attending a deaf and dumb children’s event with his revolver tucked in his waist which was very much visible for everyone.The incident happened in Jalgaon city on Sunday when the BJP leader, who hails from Jalgaon district, was addressing children at the even after distributing educational material. The minister has a weapons licence.Reacting to the development, the Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said, “the minister should know what sort of example he is setting for the kids to emulate with his brazen display of weapon. Does he not believe in police and security provided to him by the government?” The district superintendent of police was also present at the event.

India Water Week to be celebrated from January 13 to 17

Representational image.

India Water Week will be observed from January 13 to 17 in an effort to raise awareness, conserve and use water resources in an integrated manner.In an official release, the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, said the week would be used to elicit ideas and opinions from global decision makers, politicians, researchers and entrepreneurs in the field of water resources for mutual benefit and goodwill.The theme for water week will be “Water Management for Sustainable Development”.India Water Week-2015 will address the issues of sustainability of water resources development and management in line with Sustainable Development Goals 2015 being finalized by UN.Australia will be the partner country for this event and 30 Australian companies will be participating in the exhibition to showcase the technological advancement in the area of water resources.Maharashtra will be associated as a partner state. The main function will be held at New Delhi with a conference-cum-policy dialogue forum coupled with a business-to-business exhibition organized professionally.The event is targeted at international and national audience comprising of policy planners and technologists involved with water resources management in all key sectors of economy like agriculture, irrigation, energy, industry and drinking water supply.

Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan hits back at Opposition, says let Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare also undergo narco test

Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan, who is under pressure from Congress and NCP to reveal name of the contractor who had reportedly offered him a huge bribe to lift stay on work orders of irrigation projects, on Friday hit back saying a few MLAs of both the parties were also involved in making the “offer” to him.Hitting back at the NCP, which on Thursday sought a narco test on him following his claims of “bribe offer”, the BJP leader said he was willing to undergo the procedure provided NCP stalwarts Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare too are ready for the same.Both Pawar, former deputy chief minister and Tatkare, ex-water resources minister in erstwhile Congress-NCP government, are currently under the scanner of ACB for alleged irrigation scam under their watch.Mahajan had caused a sensation when he said that he had stayed work orders worth Rs 1,100 crore which were hastily cleared ahead of elections by the Congress-led UPA government in the state.”We had stayed irrigation projects worth Rs 1,100 crore sanctioned from July onwards by the previous government. I fail to understand the hurry behind sanctioning of these projects. A few days back, some contractors, along with some Congress and NCP MLAs approached me to retain these projects,” Mahajan told PTI today.Mahajan said the contractors and MLAs who approached him requested him to grant sanction to these projects promising 10% commission of the total cost of projects concerned.”These people placed their arguments before me and requested me to grant sanctions to these projects. They said we will pay you the regular fees for sanctions. I was shocked and asked them how much do you regularly pay for sanctions. They said about 10% of the total amount is paid to the concerned minister for the projects,” he said.Mahajan said the irrigation department, which is conducting inquiries into various aspects like tenders passed during the tenure of previous government, the escalation in the cost of projects, quality of material being supplied for irrigation projects, will soon reveal the “corrupt practices” that were “prevalent” in the department.

Uma Bharti calls for active involvement of CBIP in river development programme

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti has called upon the Central Board of Irrigation and Power (CBIP) to come forward and actively associate itself with the task of river development in the country. Speaking at the CBIP day event on Thursday, Bharti said that a strategy has to be evolved for better water resources development and management through wider consultations among various stakeholders. She further said that efforts are on to ensure that only treated waste water is released into river Ganga. “We are chalking out programmes to ensure that only treated waste water is released into Ganga so that we are able to maintain its sanctity. With its success the programme will serve as a model to demonstrate the methodology for improving the water quality of other polluted rivers” Bharti said. Expressing concern over the pollution level of river water in the country, she said that rivers have become dumping grounds for municipal and industrial wastes. “As a result of indiscriminate and indiscrete developmental activities, the clear fresh water, that were our national heritage and precious resources, have become dumping grounds for municipal and industrial wastes,” she added. She also presented the CBIP annual awards to 43 individuals and organizations to recognize the outstanding contribution of the engineers, scientists and administrators in the field of water resources, power and renewable energy sectors.