Monsoon slows, reservoirs dip 1%

New Delhi: As monsoon makes a sluggish progress, the combined live storage in 81 major reservoirs of the country dipped by one per cent in June to stand at 12 per cent of their designed capacity.

According to latest figures released by the Central Water Commission (CWC) today, the combined live storage in the 81 reservoirs at the beginning of monsoon on June one was 13 per cent of their designed capacity, but dipped to 12 per cent on June 24.

Out of the 81, there are 43 reservoirs where this year’s storage is 80 per cent or less than the average of previous 10 years. In the remaining 38 reservoirs, the storage is more than 80 per cent of the average of previous 10 years.

The storage position in Narmada, Cauvery and Krishna basins is better than average of previous 10 years.

West-flowing rivers of South and rivers of Kutch are flowing close to normal, but the storage position in Ganga, Indus, Mahanadi, Tapi, Sabarmati, Mahi and Godavari basins is deficient, the CWC said.

Monsoon rains, crucial for the country’s trillion-dollar economy, have been 16 per cent deficient and stagnant over central India so far this season but meteorologists are hopeful of a revival soon.

According to statistics released by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the monsoon rains have been 16 per cent below normal for this season, mostly due to sluggish progress. The annual rains have not advanced since June 18 when they covered half of the country.

Financial Express

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Industrial effluents polluting Gujarat rivers, says forum

Pollution contents were 300 to 1,000 per cent more than the norms

The Gujarat Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, a voluntary organisation working for environmental protection, has come out with startling facts on how the badly treated industrial effluents are being dumped in the major rivers in the State and in the sea.

The rivers include the Narmada, Mahisagar, Sabamarti and Damanganga and the sea outlet is in the Gulf of Cambay.

Samiti convener Rohit Prajapati said all the shocking figures about the pollution contents in the sewage disposal had been obtained from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the Central Pollution Control Board through the Right to Information Act.

He said that in most cases it was found that the pollution contents were about 300 per cent to over 1,000 per cent more than the norms set by the GPCB and even the effluent treatment plants set up by the State or the Central governments were malfunctioning dumping huge quantities of pollutants in the rivers or the sea as well as afflicting the local population.

He pointed out that in the wake of the Bhopal gas disaster when many affected people and voluntary organisations approached the court of law, the government woke up to the situation and at the intervention of the courts, tried to enforce measures for the treatment of effluents before discharging them in the public places.

But under pressure from the industries, the “polluter pays” theory was given the go-by and in most of the cases the industrial units discharging pollutants were made to pay only 20 per cent of the cost with the remaining 80 per cent coming from the general tax payers, the State and Central government funds and the financial institutions.

The industrial houses did not even bother to maintain the treatment plants or expand its capacity when the load increased. The GPCB kept on issuing notices, but no one ever bothered about violation of its norms and the Board remained a silent spectator doing nothing to make the industrial houses bend.

A legal notice issued by the GPCB to a waste and effluent management company at Sarigam in Bulsar district show the helplessness of the government-controlled body.

The notice, issued on December 4 last, pointed out that the concentrations such as the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Chloride, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Phenolic Compound, Sulphides, Zinc and other pollutants in the effluents dumped in Tadgam village were much higher than the prescribed norms of the Board.

And yet neither any remedial measure had so far been taken by the company nor did the board take any follow-up action.

The GPCB sources admitted that the wastes discharged in the Damanganga from the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CEPT) of the industrial houses in Vapi contained 347 per cent more COD, 432 per cent more TDS and 196 per cent more Ammoniacal Nitrogen, a serious health hazard, compared to the GPCB prescribed norms.

The conditions were worse in Ankleshwar which carry into the Gulf of Cambay 248 per cent more COD and 1,328 per cent more Ammoniacal Nitrogen.

The effluent channel project of Vadodara dumping waste water into the estuary of the Mahisagar was found to be carrying 300 to 700 per cent more than the prescribed norms of COD, BOD, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, TDS, Cyanide, phenols and other hazardous pollutants.

The pollution contents in the effluents dumped in the Sabarmati from the industrial estates in Vatva, Odhav and Naroda around Ahmedabad city were found to be alarmingly high, 2,926 per cent more of COD, 2,520 per cent more of Ammoniacal Nitrogen and 780 per cent more of TDS.

The much-touted Rs.131-crore Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP) — constructed with the State and the Central governments and the State-owned Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation contributing over Rs.109 crore and the defaulting industries a mere Rs.21 crore, and inaugurated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi in January 2007 for treatment of water wastes of Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia chemical industrial estates — was found to be equally in a pathetic condition.

From THE HINDU

Plastic waste pollutes River Vasishta at Attur

It is now a big sewer emanating foul odour

ATTUR: River Vasishta that once kept Attur and its neighbourhood green has become dirty and unholy.

Non-biodegradable: Plastic waste choking River Vasishta at Attur in Salem district. —Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

The river, which once supplied drinking water to the people who resided on its banks, is dying slowly with indiscriminate dumping of plastic garbage.

It supplied water for irrigation to over 10,000 hectares in Salem, Villupuram, Cuddalore and other areas.

The stretch of river near Attur town has become a big sewer emanating foul odour and has also become a breeding ground for mosquitoes that besiege residents at all hours of the day and night.

At one time, the river happened to be the livelihood resource for hundreds of farmers and drinking water for many more.

Cauvery River in Mettur, a source located some 120 kilometres away from Attur town is now supplying water to its residents.

Plastic waste has blocked water flow in the river.

Garbage mounds, the people here say, remain without being cleared for years with not a single attempt to remove them.

Despite repeated requests from people, farmers and environmentalists, the Attur municipality shows no interest in keeping the river clean.

“There is no proper rehabilitation scheme for the river which cuts through the town on the lines of Tirumanimutharu River rehabilitation project in Salem. The worst affected are the farmers downstream who still depend on its water for farming activities,” said a farmer.

When contacted, officials in Attur municipality claimed that they had been collecting garbage at the door steps under the solid waste management scheme.

But they have no clinching answer to the insensitive dumping of garbage on the river bed, thus killing the water body effectively.

From THE HINDU

Patna: Mystery over ‘tagged’ bird unravelled

PATNA/KISHANGANJ: The mystery surrounding the recovery of the transmitter-tagged bird from a Kishanganj village in Bihar two days back has been finally laid to rest, after Bombay Natural History Society claimed of using the bird for one of its study project.

The bird, a bar-headed goose, was ringed and fitted with a satellite tracking device on December 13 and released in the Chilka Lake in Orissa by a Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) scientist Balachandran. BNHS was assigned a Food and Agriculture Organisation project of ringing ducks and geese as part of its motive to study things related to spread of avian influenza.

Balachandran is the national co-ordinator of the project. The project was launched, as most of the ducks and geese that migrate to India, originally came from China and Tibet. Around three years back a large number of such birds had died in China due to avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu.

“The moment I learnt about the recovery of the bird in Bihar, I contacted BNHS director Asad Rahmani informing him about the incident. He immediately forwarded me these details,” BNHS member and Indian Bird Conservation Network state co-ordinator Arvind Mihsra told TOI on Saturday.

According to the data received from the transmitter of the bird, after its ringing in Chilka Lake it went to Mangolia and bred there. After that the bird migrated to China’s Quinghai Lake and from there it came to this area around a week back, Mishra said.

Details of the data are with BNHS. The data also gave a valuable input that bar-headed goose also breeds in Mangolia, Mishra said. Earlier, it was recorded that these birds bred mostly in China and Tibet.

Meanwhile, forest department has made special arrangement to keep the bird in a good shape, as after the recovery it appeared to be in some sort of stress. “After consulting few experts, we gave the bird liquid glucose and now it appears to be quite well,” Araria divisional forest officer Nand Kumar Manjhi told TOI on phone.

He said, a field official has been sent to Sukahi police station, where the recovered transmitter has been kept, so that it can be handed over to the BNHS. The bird was intercepted from the mid-stream of river Mechhi on Bihar-Nepal border under Sukhani police station on Thursday.

From TOI

Cuddalore: Banking on special day for river clean-up

Penniyar banks are getting spruced up for river festival on January 18

CUDDALORE: The banks of the Penniyar river, just ahead of its confluence point in the Bay of Bengal near Cuddalore, are getting spruced up for the January 18 River Festival. A massive crowd from the town and the nearby taluks will throng banks on that day.

WAITING FOR D-DAY: The banks of Pennaiyar in Cuddalore readying for the January 18 ‘River Festival’. — Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

The river banks are generally infested with weeds and outgrowths which are so dense as to block the water flow during rainy season. During summer when the river trickles down, the banks will be covered with thorny bushes. Hence, it has become an annual exercise for the civic body to tone up the banks for the festival.

Chairman of the Cuddalore Municipality T. Thangarasu, who has initiated the clean-up drive well in advance, told The Hindu that the civic body had requisitioned a bulldozer from the Agriculture Department to mow down the weeds and municipality trucks to carry the pulled-down thorny bushes to be dumped elsewhere. The approach road too was getting ready for a smooth movement of holiday-makers and sanitation measures would also be taken at this point. Special buses would ply from the main bus stand to the river front, he said.

M. Kala (58), a resident of the area, said that this was an important event for the people of Cuddalore. They used to come in droves to have a holy dip in the Penniyar. Deities would also be brought from almost all temples from across the district to the river for worship. Entertainment avenues would also be provided on the banks, besides rows of shops vending trinkets, household goods and candies. She said that for generations, the Penniyar was considered sacred and therefore, the rituals and last rites were being conducted here.

Though the Pongal festival is celebrated for four days in other places, as far as Cuddalore is concerned, it would be a five-day festival comprising Bogi, Pongal, Kari Naal, Vetri Naal and Thiru Naal.

The Thiru Naal is so named because it is a unique day when one could witness the assemblage of deities from renowned temples at one place. Therefore, Ms. Kala said that the river is the rarest one in the sense that besides providing an irrigation to a vast stretch of land along its course, it also provides a spiritual avenue to the people.

A.V. Ragunathan From THE HINDU

Fish to test troubled Gomti waters

LUCKNOW: A new home or a death trap? Scores of fish will undergo a testing time on January 17 when authorities would set free hundreds of them in the waters of the Gomti as a symbolic gesture to showcase their concern for the river.

Sources said that drive to get the river clean would be launched on the day in the presence of chairman, state advisory council, SC Mishra, and urban development minister Nakul Dubey. While many such programmes have been planned for the day, all eyes would be set on the event when fish would be set free in the river which has a number of locations with alarmingly low dissolved oxygen levels.

Official sources in Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) said that in all probability, fish would be set free in Kudiaghat where waters near the site happens to be clean and therefore there would be no problem. ‘‘Moreover, aquatic life faces problem only when there is considerable drop in the water levels even as polluted water continue to surge from the culverts draining into the river,’’ the official said.

Incidentally, the drive appears to be launched two days after chief minister Mayawati birthday and three days before the much awaited sewage treatment plant (STP) expectedly gets operational.

Sources said that that the day would see people from various non-government organisations (NGOs) and school children thronging the banks of the river, which has attained notoriety for being one of the most polluted river.

Officials said that people from NGOs and school children have been called upon as part of the mass awareness programme planned by the state government.

LMC sources said that the river would be divided into sectors as part of the cleanliness drive.

The river which stretches for a distance of around 14 km within the city, would be divided into four sectors each being headed by an official of at least deputy municipal commissioner. This was done earlier also when an official of the level of additional municipal commissioner was given the charge of heading a section.

This would be for the second time within a span of two years when a drive to get the river — which is acclaimed as a lifeline of the city — cleaned has been launched. The drive was launched with much fanfare in 2008 after chief minister Mayawati expressed her concern over the state of the river. Ironically, the drive could not maintain its momentum and died down after few months, even as agencies were appointed for the purpose.

from TOI

Dhaka, Delhi conclude water talks amid optimism

Further talks needed on sharing of the Teesta river waters

DHAKA: Bangladesh and India have agreed to resolve outstanding issues relating to water sharing and decided that they will jointly start work for the protection of banks of the common rivers.

The consensus came at the end of the two-day crucial water talks at the Secretary level here on Tuesday.

Water Resources Secretary Umesh Narayan Panjiar told journalists that the dredging of the Isamati river would start on February 1. On the Teesta deal, he said the talks narrowed the gap but further talks were needed.

“The meeting, recognising the suffering of the people of both sides in the face of scarcity of lean season flows of the Teesta river, discussed at length and expressed that the sharing of the Teesta waters between India and Bangladesh should be concluded expeditiously,” the two sides said in a joint statement.

The talks were held in the hope of crafting an accord for Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sign in Delhi later next week.

The Bangladesh side was headed by Water Resources Secretary Shaikh Mohammed Wahid-uz-Zaman while Mr. Panjiar headed a seven-member Indian delegation. “We arrived at a situation which will benefit the people of the two countries,” Mr. Zaman told journalists.

Mr. Panjiar said: “We have narrowed down differences of approach between the two countries, which will contribute to the sharing of Teesta waters.”

Dhaka has been pressing New Delhi for decades for a deal on the common river Teesta, on which Bangladesh has its largest irrigation project covering 7,50,000 hectares in the greater Rangpur region.

The joint press statement said talks between the two countries would continue on the Teesta river.

The two countries also agreed to continue dialogue on the modalities for withdrawal of water from the Feni river by both sides for the minor lift irrigation schemes.

The meeting also agreed that water may be withdrawn from the Feni for drinking supply scheme for the Subroom town, which would be put into operation immediately after joint verification.

The meeting agreed to commence pending river bank protection works along the common rivers from early February. It also took note of new lists of proposed bank protection works and embankments along the common or border rivers, and directed the members of the Joint Rivers Commission to finalise the same for implementation.

Mr. Panjiar invited Mr. Zaman to visit Indian institutions relating to water resources with a view towards enabling participation from Bangladesh in the training programmes.

Mr. Panjiar later paid a courtesy call on Bangladesh Minister for Water Resources Ramesh Chandra Sen. Welcoming the Indian delegation, the Minister expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the talks and expressed hope that all outstanding issues relating to the common rivers would be solved expeditiously through discussions.

From THE HINDU