Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nadiyon Judi To 90 Fisad Kheton Tak Pahunchega Pani (Dainik Jaran 21 Nov 2014)

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NGT notices on desecration of river during ‘Ganga Snan’ (The Hindu 21 Nov 2014)

A view of the waste left behind by the people attending the ‘Ganga Snan’.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought replies from the Centre, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Uttar Pradesh Government on a petition highlighting huge amount of solid and human waste being disposed of in the river Ganga during the annual Kartik Poornima Fair, famously known as ‘Ganga Snan’.

A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar issued notices and sought responses within three weeks.

The petition has been filed by environmental activist Krishnakant Singh and Social Action for Forest & Environment through activist Vikrant Tongad.

They have raised the issue of disposal of solid waste on the bank of the river Ganga during the recently-concluded ‘Kartik Poornima Fair’ and disposal of human waste directly into the river in blatant disregard of the Water Act.

This year, the fair was organised from November 1 to November 6 in which almost 50 lakh people from across the country participated. This fair is termed as one of the largest fairs after Kumbh in the country. The main organiser is the District Administration of Hapur and Amroha.

The applicants said: “The fair is held on the bank of the river Ganga stretching about 4 to 5 km on both sides near Garhmukteshwar. Many villagers attending the fair stay on the banks of the Ganga, cook their food and do the washing at the same place. The people taking part in the fair dispose of the plastic, thermocol, bottles and other waste material and biodegradable material on the bank of the river Ganga.”
“The toilets made for those coming to the fair also dispose of the wastes directly into the river thereby polluting the river. The District Administration also took some land from the farmers on the banks of the river. The owners of the land before ploughing the land burn the wastes disposed by the people participating in the fair.”

Inter-linking of river will enhance irrigation facilities: Uma Bharti ( Jagran Post 20 Nov. 2014)

New Delhi:  Emphasising the need for inter- linking of rivers in the country, Union Water Resource Minister Uma Bharati on Thursday said the project would bring about 90 percent of arable land under irrigation.



"Inter-linking of rivers would enhance irrigation facilities to 90 percent of farm lands in the country," she said while inaugurating the national conference on issues for optimal use of water resources titled 'Jal Manthan' here.

According to Agriculture ministry data, 40 percent of the agriculture land is irrigated and accounts for 55 percent of total production, while 60 percent is rain-fed and contribute 45 percent to total output.

Pointing out that there was no water crunch, Bharati stressed on the need for conservation of water through measures like rain water harvesting.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Rural Development Chaudhary Birender Singh said that 86 percent of drinking water supply schemes were based on ground water and proper attention should be paid for water security planning.

"In this regard, the Ministry has taken up 15 pilot blocks in 10 states, where comprehensive planning is undertaken to promote water security for all users with the active participation of the Panchayati Raj institutions," he said.

Singh also said that National Rural Drinking Programme was being implemented to provide safe drinking water in adequate quantity to all citizens of the country in a phased manner.

"Our goal is to achieve this through 90 percent piped water supply and 80 percent through household pipe connections by the 2022," the Minister added.

Ministers from various state governments also spoke on the occasion, elaborating on a range of issues connected with irrigation.

River inter-linking will raise irrigation capacity: Uma Bharti (Business Standard 20 Nov. 2014)

IANS
Inter-linking of rivers will raise the irrigation capacity of the country by 90 percent, Union Water Resources Minister said Thursday.
"There is no shortage of water in our country. Excess rain water in our country flows into seas through rivers. We need to conserve this water by inter-linking the rivers," Bharti said while inaugurating the national conference on issues for optimal use of water resources called "Jal Manthan" here.
The minister said in India irrigation schemes take a lot of time and money to complete. She added that only the farmer can feel the pain of these delayed projects.
Bharti said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the government to ensure that irrigation facility is provided to every field of each farmer without any extra cost.
The three-day conference has been organised by the ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation to hold wide-ranging consultations with the states and other stakeholders.

Inter-linking of river will enhance irrigation facilities: Uma (Deccan Herald 20 Nov 2014)

Emphasising the need for inter- linking of rivers in the country, Union Water Resource Minister Uma Bharati today said the project would bring about 90 per cent of arable land under irrigation.
"Inter-linking of rivers would enhance irrigation facilities to 90 per cent of farm lands in the country," she said while inaugurating the national conference on issues for optimal use of water resources titled 'Jal Manthan' here.
According to Agriculture ministry data, 40 per cent of the agriculture land is irrigated and accounts for 55 per cent of total production, while 60 per cent is rain-fed and contribute 45 per cent to total output.

Pointing out that there was no water crunch, Bharati stressed on the need for conservation of water through measures like rain water harvesting.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Rural Development Chaudhary Birender Singh said that 86 per cent of drinking water supply schemes were based on ground water and proper attention should be paid for water security planning.

"In this regard, the Ministry has taken up 15 pilot blocks in 10 states, where comprehensive planning is undertaken to promote water security for all users with the active participation of the Panchayati Raj institutions," he said.

Singh also said that National Rural Drinking Programme was being implemented to provide safe drinking water in adequate quantity to all citizens of the country in a phased manner.

"Our goal is to achieve this through 90 per cent piped water supply and 80 per cent through household pipe connections by the 2022," the Minister added.

Ministers from various state governments also spoke on the occasion, elaborating on a range of issues connected with irrigation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What the river needs (Indian Express 01 Nov 2014)

Express News Service

The Supreme Court directive to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to act against industries that pollute the Ganga is an expression of its exasperation with the functioning of the state pollution control boards (PCBs). The apex court has told the NGT to strictly enforce anti-pollution norms and even close down units that refuse to comply. Despite the good intentions, however, such a top-down approach to cleaning the Ganga may not deliver the desired results. The PCBs have been caught napping even as the problem of industrial pollution grows more intractable, but the solution cannot be to bypass them altogether. 

For sustainable change, these boards must be empowered and equipped with technical knowhow and staff — and made more accountable.
Better coordination is needed among the state governments, PCBs and local bodies, especially since enforcing pollution control norms on labour-intensive industries, like tanneries, would entail social, political and economic costs. Restructuring these industries into clusters and building the necessary infrastructure to ensure zero emissions and effluents would require the involvement of local actors and state funding. Moreover, industries are just one source of pollution. Some estimates indicate that nearly 85 per cent of the river pollutants are from sewage generated by about 50 cities located along the river. 

The preferred mode of targeting sewage pollution since the launch of the Ganga Action Plan in the 1980s has been to instal sewage treatment plants (STP). While many more STPs are needed, even the existing ones haven’t delivered because many cities lack proper sewage systems and the power supply is erratic. Cities must build more drains and improve garbage disposal to address the sewage problem at  source rather than at the river end.

All rivers, including the Ganga, have a self-cleansing capacity that dilutes pollutants. But over-extraction of water to meet agricultural and urban needs leaves the Ganga with little flow during large parts of the year, transforming it into a sewage channel. There has to be a rethink on the aggressive damming of the river in its upper reaches, and the barrages downstream ought to be better managed to ensure water flow in the Ganga in the lean months, which could help alleviate pollution. State governments must realise that water management and pollution in the Ganga are connected

What will it take to clean the Ganga? (Business Standard 31 Oct. 2014)

Certainly not a 5,000-fine for spitting. The job must be given to an outside agency, with a definite time-frame
Flowers and filth Signs of a dying river                                                                               
 Flowers and filth Signs of a dying river
KP PRABHAKARAN NAIR
The Government launched the first phase of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP-1) in 1986; 25 cities in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, along the stretch of the river, were selected. GAP-II was initiated in 1993; it included the river’s tributaries — the Yamuna, the Gomti, the Damodar and the Mahanadi.
The Ganga received the status of a ‘national river’ and GAP was reconstituted as the National Ganga River Basin Authority.
The relaunched GAP took into account the entire river basin and emphasised the river’s need to have adequate water to maintain its ecological flow.
Five years on, pollution levels in the Ganga are still grim. Rivers have the ability to clean themselves — to assimilate and treat biological waste using sunlight and oxygen. But the Ganga gets no time to breathe and revive itself.
The many people who live along its banks all take the water and return only waste. Ganga dies not once but many times in its 2,500-km journey from Gangotri in the Himalayas to Diamond Harbour in the Bay of Bengal.
Unholy stink


According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report of July 2013, the river shows unacceptable levels of E.coli, the most common bacteria — a clear sign of human excreta — all along the river’s mainstream.
It is worrying that faecal coliform levels are increasing even in the upper reaches such as Rudraprayag and Devprayag, where the river’s oxygenating ability is the highest. In these parts, water withdrawal for hydropower plants has put the river’s health in danger.
As the Ganga flows down the plains, water is taken away for irrigation and drinking, to the extent that during winter and peak summer months the river goes dry in many parts, and only sewage flows between its banks. The holy river is, thus, converted into a stinking sewer.
The reason for such high pollution is not far to seek. Thirty-six settlements, classified as Class-I cities, contribute 96 per cent of wastewater draining into the Ganga.
According to the CPCB’s 2013 report, 2,723 million litres per day (mld) of domestic sewage is discharged by cities located along the river. Even this may be a gross underestimation as the calculation is based just on the water that is supplied in the cities.
Without doubt, the capacity to treat this sewage is inadequate. But it is even smaller if we consider that the gap between sewage generation and treatment remains the same — 55 per cent.
So, even as treatment capacity is enhanced, more sewage gets added because of population growth.
The situation worsens if the actual measured discharge from drains is taken to estimate the pollution load. Then the gap between what is installed and what is generated goes up to 80 per cent.
Over and above this, 764 industrial units along the main stretch of the river and its tributaries the Kali and the Ramganga discharge 500 mld of mostly toxic waste. All efforts to rein in this pollution have failed.
The waste horror


The horror does not end here. These cities have grown without planning and investment, and most do not have underground drainage networks. Even in Allahabad and Varanasi, 80 per cent of the areas are without sewers.
Waste is generated but not conveyed to treatment plants. There is no power to run treatment plants; bankrupt municipalities and water utilities have no money to pay for operations.
The CPCB checked 51 out of 64 sewage treatment plants (STPs) along the Ganga in 2013. It found that only 60 per cent of installed capacity of the plants was being used; 30 per cent of the STPs were not even operational.
So actual treatment is even less, and untreated waste discharged into the river even more.
The Ganga’s journey in Uttar Pradesh — from Kanpur through Unnao, Fatehpur to Raibareilly and then Allahabad and Varanasi via Mirzapur — is killing.
The river does not get the chance to assimilate the waste poured into it from cities and industries. It is only in Allahabad that some cleaner water is added through the Yamuna, which helps it to recover somewhat. Then, as it moves towards Varanasi, sewage is poured in again. It dies again.
Uttar Pradesh has 687 grossly polluting industries. These mainly small-scale, often illegal units — tanneries, sugar, pulp, paper and chemicals — contribute 270 mld of wastewater. But what really matters is the location of the plants. While over 400 tanneries contribute only 8 per cent of the industrial discharge, they spew highly toxic effluent into the river and are located as a cluster near Kanpur.
So the concentration of pollution is high. It is alarming that not much is happening to control pollution. The law is helpless.
In 2013, an inspection of 404 industrial units by the CPCB showed that all but 23 did not comply with the law. Directions have been issued and closure notices served. But it is business as usual.
Dam the problems


Both dams and global warming worsen the problem. Built in 1854, the Haridwar dam has led to the Ganga’s decay by greatly diminishing the river flow.
The Farakka Barrage was built originally to divert fresh water into the Bhagirathi river but has since caused an increase of salinity in the Ganga, with damaging effects on ground water and soil.
The Government plans about 300 dams on the Ganga its tributaries despite a government-commissioned green panel report that has recommended scrapping 34 dams citing environmental concerns.
The Gangotri glacier which feeds the Ganga is one of the largest in the Himalayas. However, due to global warming, it has been receding since 1780; studies show its retreat quickened after 1971. Over the last 25 years, the glacier has retreated more than 850 metres, with a recession of 76 metres from 1996 to 1999. The UN 2007 Climate Change Report suggested that the glacial flow may completely stop by 2030, at which point the Ganga would be reduced to a seasonal river during the monsoon.
Cleaning the Ganga is a mammoth task. This should be contracted to an outside agency with absolute transparency in operation, credibility and accountability, with severe penalty if tangible results are not shown within a reasonable time-frame. It should not be left in Indian hands. Levying a fine of ₹5,000 for spitting in Ganga, as Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati has proposed, will simply not do.
The writer is a senior fellow of the Humboldt Foundation