April 6, 2020 SANDRP
A number of reports have appeared that show that the state of a number of rivers of India, including Hindon, Yamuna, Ganga and Cauvery has improved during the current lockdown due to Covid 19 crisis. That is indeed great news. At Kanpur and Varanasi, there are reports that suggest the dissolved oxygen level has gone above 8 ppm and BOD level has gone down below 3 ppm at a number of places. While lack of industrial effluents entering the rivers due to closure of industrial units is a major reason, there are other reasons that have led to this situation, including above-average winter rainfall, high snowfall now melting with the onset of summer, reduction of irrigation water demand and also stoppage of sand mining along the rivers. The reduction of cultural activities including puja, bathing and cremations have also contributed to this situation. The biggest lesson we can learn from this cleaner rivers after so many decades is that if our pollution control boards at the state and central level were doing their duty to ensure that no untreated effluents from the industries and also urban sewage enter the rivers, it is not that difficult to achieve cleaner rivers. But unfortunately, there is no political will to achieve this simple and legally enforceable objective.
CAUVRY; Karnataka Pandemic keeps pollution away The strict enforcement of 21¬ day lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has turned out to be a boon for the Cauvery and other rivers in the old Mysuru region as the prohibition of industrial and religious activities has helped reduce the pollution level in river waters.
– According to Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), the quality of water in Cauvery and tributaries like Kabini, Hemavati, Shimsha and Lakshmanathirtha is back to what it used to be decades ago. – While some industries were discharging untreated effluents/chemicals into Cauvery, pilgrims were dumping tonnes of waste materials, including clothes every day.
– The fate of other rivers is not very different. Untreated sewage from residential areas; pollutants from industries; religious waste materials from pilgrims and construction debris had been polluting the rivers. Waters of these rivers contained hazardous elements such as lead, fluoride, faecal coliform and some suspended solids in highly dangerous quantities.
– It is evident that the lockdown has significantly brought down the pollution level in rivers, said the sources in KSPCB. However, the board will shortly test water samples at the Regional Laboratory in Mysuru under the national program, “Monitoring of Indian National Aquatic Resources and the Global Environmental Monitoring Scheme,” said the sources.
– Seventy¬year¬old Marigowda at Karighatta said he had not seen such “clear and pure water” in the Cauvery in the last three decades. According to Nanjamma of Mandya Koppalu, the colour of water used to be greenish-black at some places and bluish¬black at some others till March 22. Residents of Agrahara, Maralagala, Doddi Palya, Dodda Palya, Chikka Palya, Chinnanayakana Halli and Mahadevapura on the Cauvery course near Srirangapatna wished something could be done to preserve the quality of its Cauvery water after the withdrawal of lockdown. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/cauvery-tributaries-in-old-mysuru-region-look-cleaner-as-pandemic-keeps-pollution-away/article31210429.ece (30 March 2020)
According to reports, elderly people on the banks of the river in Karnataka say they have not seen the river in this clear form in several decades. With industrial units not working due to the shutdown and effluents not flowing into the river, the Cauvery is breathing free again. What this essentially means is that the river is asking to be given a chance to survive, healthily. All it needed was just one week of a shutdown to show its resilience. https://thefederal.com/opinion/in-shutdown-cauvery-breathes-life-again-shows-dispute-has-little-to-do-with-river/ (01 April 2020)
Punjab Effluent discharge in Ludhiana’s Buddha Nullah drops Amid closure of industry and infrastructure projects, the discharge of sewage and effluents in the Buddha Nullah, dubbed as the city’s toxic vein, has also reduced significantly.
Jasvir Singh, sub-divisional officer (SDO) with the discharge wing of the irrigation department said, “The effluent discharge into the nullah has receded significantly after the closure of industry units. On March 2, an average of 255 cubic feet per second (cusecs) of discharge was recorded, on March 16, the discharge fell to 220 cusecs, while on Sunday it was merely 197 cusecs.”
Of the total 2,423 industrial units in Punjab polluting the Sutlej, the majority, 2,028, are in Ludhiana, including 228 dyeing and 1,649 electroplating and surface treatment units which directly or indirectly release untreated waste into the nullah. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lockdown-effect-effluent-discharge-in-ludhiana-s-buddha-nullah-drops/story-uUFPVk7yWWxBRW727eztwK.html (30 March 2020)
Collect samples of Buddha Nullah water, NGT urged As industrial waste seemed to be visibly reduced in Buddha Nullah now, activists have sought from the National Green Tribunal to order a sampling of nullah water to check the pollution levels. There has been no industrial production since the curfew was imposed in the state.
– The activists have demanded the collection of samples of nullah water should be videographed. A major source of pollution in the nullah, dyeing and electroplating units have been lying closed since lockdown was announced in the country.
– Convener of Naroa Punjab Manch Gurpreet Singh Chandbaja said: “I have written to the NGT panel and requested it to collect water samples from Buddha Nullah. At present, all industries are lying closed owing to lockdown. However, domestic sewage and dairy waste are still being discharged into the nullah.”
– The Manch has also demanded sampling of water at inlet and outlet points of all sewerage treatment plants located at Ballo Ke, Bhattian and Jamalpur. Water samples should be collected from all major points of Buddha Nullah, he added.
“It has come to light that the state government authorities have allowed industries to start operations. Before the industries start operations, it is necessary to collect water samples from Buddha Nullah and all STPs in the city,” he added.
– Meanwhile, a few videos have gone viral on social media. The video makers claim that pollution in Buddha Nullah has considerably reduced since the industries were shut down amid the Covid threat. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/ludhiana/collect-samples-of-buddha-nullah-water-ngt-urged-63893 (01 April 2020)
Maharashtra Lockdown breathes life into polluted creeks, rivers – Life is also bouncing back in otherwise polluted patches and near the mouths of rivers, rivulets and nullahs in the metropolitan region, as industrial effluent and other waste that flows into them daily, has reduced in volume by 50%, confirm senior MPCB officials.
– With the rivers springing back to life, birds are flocking in larger numbers and minus the noise from traffic, their chirping is audible. Officials said these areas are experiencing a return to nature.
-They said around 60% of the industrial units in the region are closed; only pharma, petrochemical units and distilleries producing sanitizers are working inside industrial estates amid the shutdown.
– Taloja creek, Navapur creek in Tarapur and patches of the Waldhuni near Ulhas creek are the stretches where the river has rejuvenated. The fish may take a little longer to replenish in these otherwise polluted zones. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-region-lockdown-breathes-life-into-polluted-creeks-and-rivers/articleshow/74859330.cms (28 March 2020)
GANGA Uttar Pradesh Health of river improves due to lockdown Himanshu Thakkar, environmental activist and water expert, coordinator of SANDRP, said the improvement is a temporary respite. “Due to lockdown, industrial activities are at the lower level. There would definitely be less effluent generation and discharge but the improvement is a temporary respite. What is required is more stringent regulations,” he said.
– “The NMCG is just tinkering with symptoms. They are putting up new infrastructure, creating new agreements, giving more incentives for industries but if there is no transparency or accountability then there is not going to be any change,” he said. However, no official report has been released on the improvement of water quality yet. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/lockdown-health-of-river-ganga-improves/articleshow/74946264.cms (02 April 2020)
Himanshu Thakkar, co-ordinator at SANDRP told NDTV, “Along with lockdown there is increased water flow due to unseasonal rainfall and snowfall in some parts. Religious activities have decreased, especially in Varanasi, where lesser cremations are happening. The current scenario should shape our future approach of how authorities should minimise industrial effluents in the water bodies.” https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/cleaner-river-water-better-air-quality-positive-effects-of-lockdown-2206553 (05 April 2020)
– According to the real-time water monitoring data of the CPCB, out of the 36 monitoring units placed at various points of the Ganga river, the water quality around 27 points was suitable for bathing and propagation of wildlife and fisheries. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/lockdown-helps-improve-health-of-ganga-64936 (03 April 2020)
Bhim Singh Rawat, of SANDRP, said improvements have also been seen in Ganga (should be the Yamuna) around Mathura. “The organic pollution level still gets diluted in the river but it is the chemical pollution by industries that destroy the river’s self-cleansing properties. The self-cleansing properties have improved due to which the water quality has improved,” he said. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/lockdown-health-of-river-ganga-improves/1788569 (02 April 2020)
Kalika Singh, the regional officer at UPPCB at Varanasi, says the water has improved in terms of both colour and quality. “The dissolved oxygen level upstream is 8.7mg per litre and it is 8.1 mg per litre downstream, which is good enough for bathing,” he says. It is widely accepted that healthy water has a dissolved oxygen level of at least 7 mg/litre, although CPCB’s bar is marginally lower.
– CPCB has three real-time monitoring stations in Kanpur. One is upstream of the Ganga Barrage, the second, downstream of the barrage, and the third is at Shuklagunj. The monitoring station located upstream reported on March 28 that the dissolved oxygen level was 8 mg/litre, BOD was 2.1 mg/litre, ph was 7.90 and ammonia, 0.49 mg/litre. At station number two downstream, dissolved oxygen level was 7.90 mg/litre, BOD, 1.21 mg/litre, ph, 7.91 and ammonia, 1.1 mg/litre. The third station reported a dissolved oxygen level of 8.51 mg/litre, BOD, 2.1 mg/litre, ph, 7.68 and ammonia, 0.79 mg/litre. The chemical oxygen demand was less than nine at all the three monitoring points. It should be less than 10 mg per litre.
– PK Mishra, a professor at the department of chemical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology-Banaras Hindu University, says: “30% of the total BOD load is due to industries along the river Ganga, which amounts to 130 to 150 tons per day. The total effluent dumped into the Ganga is around 6500 to 6700 MLD (in) its UP stretch and onwards. Around 10% is toxic load from industries, which is equal to approximately 700 MLD. Since all the major grossly polluting industries are closed due to the lockdown, this toxic load is not entering the river now.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/anxiety-more-time-to-study-for-40k-students-stranded-in-kota/story-LgCluBkrFEITG9qyX16IEI.html (04 April 2020)
– “One-tenth of the pollution in the Ganga river comes from industries. As industries are shut due to lockdown, the situation has become better. We have seen a 40-50 percent improvement in the Ganga. It is a significant development,” Dr PK Mishra, Professor at Chemical Engineering and Technology, IIT-BHU, said.
– “Due to rainfall on March 15-16 in areas where Ganga flows, the water level has also increased, which means that its cleaning capacity has also increased. There is a considerable improvement if we look at the pre-lockdown period and after March 24,” he added. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/yamuna-rivers-water-looking-cleaner-amid-lockdown-due-to-covid19-delhi-jal-boards-raghav-chadha-2206419 (05 April 2020)
– Locals in Varanasi are happy. “There is a lot of difference when we see the water of the Ganga river today and what used to be earlier. Today, the water looks clean. One of the biggest reasons behind this is that today all factories are closed. People are not taking bath at the ghats. If this is the condition in 10 days, then I believe Ganga river will be like it used to be earlier,” one local said.
– Another one added: “The water in the Ganga river has become clean during the lockdown. Nobody must have thought that the lockdown would have such an impact on the weather. We feel happy looking at the clean water in the river Ganga.”
– Besides Varanasi, locals in Kanpur also resonated similar sentiments and said that water in the Ganga river has seen improvement. “The water of Ganga is clean as compared to earlier. It is good to see this,” said a local. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/lockdown-makes-ganga-water-significantly-cleaner-11586022134242.html (04 April 2020)
In the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic, the Ganga-Aarti at the ‘Har Ki Pauri’ Ghat in Haridwar will be live-streamed for the devotees. This comes after the Haridwar District Magistrate, C Ravishankar issued an order prohibiting the entry of visitors to the Ganga Aarti until March 31 as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19. It has been advised by the government to avoid large public gatherings. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/coronavirus-ganga-aarti-at-haridwar-to-be-live-streamed-for-devotees/story-IaltMPoJTcMOYvyDvdMyPL.html (19 March 2020)
PTI sourced Hindi report about improvement in Ganga, Yamuna, Hindon rivers water quality.
YAMUNA Delhi Factories shut, river water sparkles the State of Yamuna has also improved, Yamuna Monitoring Committee has asked CPCB and DPCC to study the state of Yamuna in this lockdown phase. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/delhi-factories-shut-yamuna-water-sparkles/articleshow/74988548.cms (05 April 2020)
– However, with labs and most government offices also shut, the pollution control boards and the Yamuna monitoring committee are yet to quantify the quality of improvement, with experts pointing out that the boards are losing ”a lifetime opportunity” to study the changes to the river. Pollution control board officials said they will start the river quality assessment April 6. https://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/easy-flows-the-yamuna-as-effluent-discharge-stops-assessment-likely-soon/story-BRJ1vhI9SJPCYkFBLZgjBM.html (05 April 2020)
Haryana Here is Panipat drain no. 2 near Shimla Gujran images of May 2016 (SANDRP), April 2020 (Balraj). Villagers say water remarkably clean, no industrial waste. See link how it was ruining villagers lives and river Yamuna. https://sandrp.in/2016/05/03/shimla-gujran-in-yamuna-baisn-journey-from-a-flourishing-village-to-a-living-hell/
Uttar Pradesh This report claims remarkable changes in Yamuna river water quality at Mathura. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8ZUrzUaHAE (30 March 2020)
Devotees from Mathura and villagers from Bateshwar which downstream Agra say there is an improvement in river water quality on account of lockdown impact. https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers/status/1245320385425485824 (01 April 2020)
Oba villagers say an increase in Yamuna water level which is possibly due to release of more water from Okhala Barrage on account of Agra canal maintenance work. They also find the waterless stinking.
Agra When US president Donald Trump visited Agra on February 24, water was released by upstream barrages, but it did not reach Agra. Trump, however, did not go to the rear side of the Taj Mahal, otherwise the polluted and dry Yamuna would have disturbed him. But for the last 25 days or so, we are enjoying a rare view of Yamuna at the Etmauddaula View Point park. The river bed is under water and birds have returned,” said River Connect Campaign member Jugal Kishore Shrotriya who conducts a daily arti of Yamuna to mobilise locals to keep the river clean.
– River activist Devashish Bhattacharya said, “Perhaps due to the lockdown due to COVID-19, industries in Haryana and Delhi are not drawing water from the river. We have had several spells of rain in March, which could have raised the water level.” The water level in Vrindavan and Mathura had also seen a steady rise in the past few weeks.
– In Agra, surplus water from the Ganga Jal Pipeline was also being released in the Yamuna. The two water works in Agra receive 140 cusecs of water continuously from the 130 km long pipeline. The entire quantity is not used. The excess goes into the Yamuna, according to a local corporation Anurag Chaubey.
– The river behind the Taj Mahal, along Mahtaab Bagh has come alive, offering a breathtaking view. Due to the lockdown, the Taj Mahal, for the first time in its history, is relaxed and breathing freely, deprived of the daily human load, as all monuments have been shut down in Agra for visitors. The Archaeological Survey of India is utilising the opportunity to clean up and carry out repairs long overdue.
– The city too is largely pollution-free, due to restrictions on movement of vehicles. Only an occasional ambulance or a police vehicle can be seen on the Fatehabad road, which has the largest concentration of hotels. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/covid-19-lockdown-for-a-change-yamuna-flows-cleaner-and-full/articleshow/74972145.cms (03 April 2020)
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
Arunachal Pradesh Work on the Subansiri project restarts, residents fear downstream impacts. The article should have highlighted the major gains of the movement and also underlined the duplicity of the authorities rather than saying that the anti-dam movement is demoralised. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2020/04/06/mega-hydel-project-in-himalayas-steamrollers-objections/ (06 April 2020)
Documentary The film Surya Ganga / Sun Ganges is streaming on Netflix now! Do watch this panoptic story on India’s rivers, big energy projects, climate and in the midst of it all, an incorrigible Naseeruddin Shah. https://www.netflix.com/title/81217749
MoEF Some relevant decisions of the FAC meeting held on Feb 27, 2020: – Diversion of 280.54 ha forest land for Talong Londa Hydro Electric Project (225 MW) in East Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh by GMR Londa Hydro Power Pvt. Ltd: DEFERRED the proposal and recommended that:
1. Inputs be obtained from Wildlife Division of the Ministry, particularly with respect to findings in DSS analysis and points raised by BNHS.
2. The User agency shall share the study report with the State Govt and same shall be vetted by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) at the cost of user agency. Independent view of WII in this regards will be obtained.
– Diversion of 75.304 ha of forest land for construction of 180 MW Bajoli- Holi Hydro Electric Project in favour of GMR Bajoli Holi Hydro Power Pvt. Ltd in Bharmour Forest Division in Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh. Permission for felling of an additional number of 12 trees and use of non-diverted degraded/blank forest land in lieu of diverted dense forest land of almost equal area. APPROVED.
– Diversion of 365.66 ha (i.e. 319.02 ha. for Lower Reservoir + 22.50 ha. for Power House & TRC Outlet + 6.96 ha. for Penstock + 8.02 Ha for Intake Structure + 2.43 ha. for Tail Race Channel and 6.73 ha. for Internal Roads) of forest land in Gani RF, Kurnool Range for Integrated Renewable Energy Project, Pinnapuram of Greenko Energies Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad. APPROVED. http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/31130125512101DraftFACMoM27022020.pdf
Maharashtra BMC to rope in experts for hydropower plant at Vaitarna dam Two months after CM Uddhav Thackeray approved the setting up of a hydropower generation plant at the Middle Vaitarna dam, located on the outskirts of the city, the civic body plans to rope in expert consultants for the project. The civic body has now floated tenders to hire a consultant firm which will check the feasibility of the project and prepare a report. The power plant is expected to produce 25 Mw of power.
– The consultant will suggest how the project can be operated on a built, operate and transfer basis, that is, the contractor selected will build the plant, operate it for a few years and then transfer the same to BMC. The official said there may be some technical challenges to the project as this is the first time that such a project is being implemented by the BMC and there will be more clarity on the plan once the consultant submits their report. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/bmc-to-rope-in-experts-for-hydro-power-plant-at-vaitarna-dam/story-mE9OPeIFt8cFX1ld55cklK.html (21 Feb. 2020)
Four women were killed and three people sustained injuries when soil caved in near Adasa Patkakhedi village in Nagpur district on Feb. 21 morning, police said. Anusaya Hirdey Tekam (45), Varsha Shamlal Madavi (26), Sunita Kailas (35) and Rampyari Udaysingh Kakoria (18), all residents of Seoni district of Madhya Pradesh, were engaged in digging work along with 30 others to build a small dam when the incident happened, an official said. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/nagpur-four-women-killed-at-dam-site-as-soil-caves-in/articleshow/74254621.cms (22 Feb. 2020)
A similar incident has taken place in Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh in June 2017. https://hindi.news18.com/news/uttar-pradesh/fatehpur-four-women-killed-as-soil-caves-in-fatehpur-1005764.html
Tamil Nadu Site inspection begins for building check dams across River Bhavani Officials of the Public Works Department (PWD-Planning) have started inspecting various spots in River Bhavani where five check dams are to be constructed at a cost of ₹ 18 crores.
– The 217-km-long River Bhavani originates in The Nilgiris and enters Silent Valley National Park in Kerala and flows back towards the State and through Mettupalayam reaches Bhavani Sagar Reservoir. Water from the reservoir is released into River Bhavani that flows through Kodiveri Anicut and joins River Cauvery at Kooduthurai.
– During monsoon, surplus water from the reservoir remains unutilised and mixes with River Cauvery. Hence, farmers were demanding construction of barrage or check dams to conserve water. Water from the river could serve the drinking water needs in town panchayats and panchayats in the district apart from irrigating agricultural land. The river flows for a distance of 91 km in the district.
– The State Government proposed to construct check dams and a team from Tamil Nadu Water Resources Development Cell inspected eight spots in the river to conduct a feasibility study. It was decided to finalise five places for constructing check dams. – On Feb. 6, a PWD team inspected a spot near Jambai village and surveyed the river. Officials said that all the spots would be inspected for finalising the construction area.
– But farmers wanted barrages instead of check dams, as more water could be stored. Subi. Thalapathy, president of Thadapalli – Arakankottai – Bhavani River Pasana Vivasayigal Sangam said that checks dams could store only meagre quantity of water and hence the government should go for barrages. He wanted the government to hold discussions with farmers’ associations before finalising the project. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/site-inspection-begins-for-buildingcheck-dams-across-river-bhavani/article30766079.ece (08 Feb. 2020)
Completion of shutter repair works in KRP Dam likely by June Two and half years after the Krishnagiri Reservoir Project (KRP) Dam’s shutter breached spawning concerns over the dam’s structural safety, the replacement of shutters of the dam is gaining momentum here. The works on the erection of shutters of KRP Dam has sped up, with 5 of the 7 shutters that were taken up for replacement completed. As on March 2, five shutters were already erected in place, and the works on the 6th shutter have commenced.
– The dam’s first shutter had breached from corrosion in 2017, and the shutter was replaced a year later under the State funds. The reservoir’s full capacity of 52 feet was lowered after the breach raised concerns on the structural safety of the other shutters. In 2018, the project to replace the remaining shutters was set in motion, under the funds of World Bank under its DRIP in place here.
– With the works under progress, any Summer showers will not allow storage in the reservoir. The water storage is at crest level with 25 feet, and any inflow above that will be let out. The erection of shutters 2,3,8, 4 and 7 were completed but miscellaneous works such as welding, blasting, sandblasting, primer works remain. The authorities are hopeful the shutter works would be fully completed by June, a little ahead of the schedule assigned to the contractor. The dam would be ready in time to receive inflow from the monsoons after June. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/completion-of-shutter-repair-works-in-krp-dam-likely-by-june/article30975891.ece (03 March 2020)
Kerala Survey on for building a dam on Kabani’s tributary The Kabani basin under the Cauvery division of the Water Resources Department is gearing up to construct a dam across the Moolithodu rivulet, a tributary of the Kabani, in Edavaka grama panchayat, to tap a small percentage of water awarded by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal a few years ago. The project envisages collecting 0.3 tmcft of water after constructing an earthen dam across the Moolithodu rivulet to irrigate 1,411 hectares of land in Thondarnadu, Edavaka, and Vellamunda grama panchayats in the district, Mr. Unnikrishnan said.
The tribunal had awarded 30 tmcft of water to the State from the three river basins of the Cauvery such as the Kabani in Wayanad (21 tmcft), the Bhavani at Attappady in Palakkad (6 tmcft) and the Pambar in Idukki (3 tmcft) but, the government was yet to formulate any projects to utilise the water allotted to the State.
As every year, 96 tmcft of water flows into the Cauvery from its catchment area in Wayanad, the government plans to construct dams across seven streams in the district such as the Kadamanthodu, Thondar, Chundalipuzha, Noolpuzha, Kallampathy, Thirunelly, and Peringottupuzha to utilise the water allotted by the tribunal.
The proposals for two dams in Wayanad across the Chundali and Kadamanthodu was frozen a few years ago after a public protest. However, the government is adopting measures to implement the Kadmanthodu project with the support of the public in the wake of the desertification process that has started in grama panchayats such as Mullankolly, Pulpally, and Poothadi on the Kerala-Karnataka border.
The Banasura Sagar Dam, the largest earthen dam in the country and the second largest in Asia, in the Kabani river basin was built to support the Kakkayam hydroelectric power project. It was also aimed at providing water for irrigation but the target is yet to be achieved even after ₹53 crores was spent on the project. The full potential of the Karapuzha irrigation project is also yet to be tapped owing to technical reasons. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/survey-on-for-building-dam-on-kabanis-tributary/article31005258.ece (07 March 2020)
Tamil Nadu State finishes on top in micro-irrigation coverage A perusal of data on the website (https://pmksy.gov.in/mis/rptAchievement.aspx) reveals that during the inaugural year of the programme (2015-16), Tamil Nadu had just about 32,290 hectares under micro-irrigation, lagging behind several States such as Telengana (39,864 ha), Rajasthan (56,345 ha), Karnataka (64,220 ha), Andhra Pradesh (94,104 ha) and Gujarat (about 1.43 lakh ha).
Tamil Nadu saw an improvement next year but that was only incremental. It was from 2017-18 that the State made giant strides when the coverage reached about 1.05 lakh ha. A year later, the coverage went up by about 67,000 ha and during 2019-20, the overall figure was 2.06 lakh ha, surpassing the performance of consistently high-performers such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Last year, the two southern States could cover about 95,520 ha and 1.41 lakh ha respectively. As for 2019-20, officials of the Tamil Nadu Agriculture department assert that the coverage is 2.18 lakh ha with an expenditure of ₹1,112 crore.
However, as regards the cumulative total coverage under the PMKSY during 2015-2020, Tamil Nadu occupies the fourth spot with about 5.62 lakh ha, according to the PMKSY website. The first place goes to Karnataka (8.16 lakh ha) followed by Andhra Pradesh (7.17 lakh ha) and Gujarat (7 lakh ha). At the all-India level, 43.71 lakh ha of lands were brought under micro-irrigation in the last five years. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-finishes-on-top-in-micro-irrigation-coverage/article31258885.ece (04 April 2020)
Kerala Restoration of Check dams yet to begin The restoration of damaged check dams in Kozhikode, which is one of the effective measures to fight water scarcity during the summer season, is yet to begin in various local bodies owing to the shortage of funds and the delay in the timely submission of proposals by local administrators for approval.
– Water level in several potable water sources, including wells and ponds located closer to such damaged check dams in villages, has already come down signalling tougher days ahead. Farmers who ventured into small-scale vegetable farming projects are the worst hit in villages like Kuttiyadi where the Irrigation Department is yet to take stock of the damaged check dams. After the two previous episodes of floods and landslips, the condition of the majority of check dams is piteous.
– The height of the majority of check dams will have to be increased further to improve storage capacity. De-silting too is required in many areas. Though there have been proposals to make use of the labour force under the MGNREGS only very few local panchayats have finalised such projects.
– The latest directive of the government to include all future MGNREGS projects under GIS tagging too is likely to impede the execution of restoration work. Many of the 70 grama panchayats are yet to prepare a list of worksites to be geotagged. The delay is also likely to affect other drought mitigation projects to be executed with the support of MGNREGS workers. “In Kuttiyadi panchayat alone, there are over 10 small check dams that require maintenance. The wooden panels used to regulate water flow are all in a worn-out condition,” says V. Sajan, a farm organisation leader. He warns that water scarcity will trouble more rural families with poor planning in the area.
– Apart from the restoration of old check dams, the demand to construct new ones remain unaddressed in many areas where drought-affected potable water sources. Since unscientific constructions without proper study about the terrain and soil quality are likely to affect the proper percolation of water, there is now a restriction on constructing temporary check dams by the local residents, which has again doubled the responsibility of the Irrigation Department to act without delay. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/restoration-of-check-dams-yet-to-begin/article30892420.ece (23 Feb. 2020)
Telangana Free power policy for farmers will exact a steep environmental cost Unless state changes Free Power Policy to farmers quickly, its policies will hurt the medium, small and marginal farmer, who make up 85% of its agricultural sector. https://scroll.in/article/957733/in-telangana-the-free-power-policy-for-farmers-will-exact-a-steep-environmental-cost (31 March 2020)