Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sewage plants along Ganga planned (The Hindu 29 January 2015)

Sewage flows into the Ganga in Patna. File Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

Sewage flows into the Ganga in Patna. File Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

The proposal, mooted at a review meeting on Namami Ganga, will take six States on board before installation.

The Centre has proposed the setting up and maintenance of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in all the 118 cities and towns located along the Ganga in a time-bound manner to check pollution of the river.
To be built and maintained through a special purpose vehicle, these STPs will be paid for by the Centre and help plug the gaps in the system and prevent untreated effluents from flowing into the Ganga.
The proposal was mooted at a review meeting on Namami Ganga on Wednesday. Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said all the six States (along the Ganga) would be consulted and taken on board before going ahead with setting up of the STPs.
In the first phase, the focus will be on the 56 cities and towns that account for about 80 per cent of sewage generation. He said the STP capacity would be augmented to meet the 2030 demand.
Also discussed were action plans for treatment of sewage with timelines, rehabilitation of dysfunctional and sub-optimal STPs, plans for bridging mismatch between existing treatment capacity and the demand, capacity building of urban local bodies, modernisation of existing crematoria, and adoption of innovative technologies developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
According to the government, as against the sewage treatment requirement of 3,847 million litres a day (MLD) in all the 118 cities and towns in 2015 and the estimated demand of 4,773 MLD in 2030, the present available capacity is only 879 MLD while another 1,263 MLD capacity is under construction. The gap in demand and supply is 1,852 MLD at current demand and 2,664 MLD at 2030 demand.
As a part of stakeholder consultations, a meeting of representatives of all 195 industrial units located alongside the Ganga will be held next month by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change followed by a meeting of municipal commissioners of all the 118 cities and towns on February 17.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Green Court Moots Yamuna Cess to Clean up River (Hindustan Times 24 January 2015)

Darpan Singh ■ darpan.singh@hindustantimes.com

THE ADDITIONAL TAX WILL HOPEFULLY HELP BRING IN GREATER PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT, AND IMPROVED ACCOUNTABILITY OF IMPLEMENTING AGENCIES
MANOJ MISRA, environmentalist

Delhi’s residents and industries may have to contribute to a ` 4,000-crore project to revive the Yamuna in 30 months by building cleanup centres and restoring rainwater drains that are currently carrying sewage.

The National Green Tribunal has sought an action plan in three months to build 32 new sewage treatment plants.
In case of fund shortage, property and house taxes will include a “Yamuna cess” based on plot size, activity being done, water consumption and sewage discharge.
The project has been prepared to revive the river’s 50-km stretch in the Capital by top experts hired by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
“Authorities and citizens have failed to perform their duty. Any delay in taking stern and serious steps to revive the river is bound to expose Delhi and its residents to grave environmental disasters,” the NGT said in a recent order.
The city’s 23 sewage treatment plants (STPs) can, at best, deal with only 40% of 3,800 MLD (million litres per day) of sewage because of blocked trunk sewer lines and half the city lacking a sewer system.
The rest of the discharge flows directly into the Yamuna through rainwater drains, killing the river that still caters to 70% of Delhi’s | water needs.
The NGT has sought an action plan in three months to build 32 new STPs.
The existing ones have to become fully functional within two months.
The NGT has referred to substantial budgetary provisions made by the Delhi gover nment for sewerage overhaul, but directed that authorities could ask the public to pay on the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
All industrial clusters in Delhi should have common effluent treatment plants and share the cost, the NGT said.
Environmentalist Manoj Misra on whose petitions the NGT directions came, said, “The additional taxes that Delhiites might be required to cough up is a ‘ payment for ecolo gical services’, a standard practice in many countries.
This will hopefully help bring in greater public involvement, and improved accountability of implementing agencies.”
Sewerage shortfall also results in pollution and stuffing of storm water drains that causes urban flooding during monsoon and inhibits groundwater recharge.
The tribunal ordered that none of the 157 rainwater drains should be covered or used to carry sewage.

These drains take rain water to the river and dilute pollution.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

River policy scrapped to help industrialists (Times of India / Mumbai-22 Jan 2015)

,TNN

MUMBAI: A day after the DevendraFadnavis-ledBJP government scrapped the river regulation policy, NCP spokesperson NawabMalik has taken strong objection to the decision, saying, it was aimed for the benefit a section of leading industrial houses. 

Malik said the erstwhile Congress-NCP government had drafted the policy with a view to protect environment and it was in keeping with the norms prescribed by the centre. ``We have reasons to believe that Fadnavis scrapped the policy for the benefit of a few industrial houses. In fact, his meeting in Davos was with the nominees of the firm, which will be benefited by the decision,'' Malik alleged. 

He said the entire policy was based on central legislations and Maharashtra was the first state to bring in a comprehensive river regulation zone policy and had accordingly notified areas near 20 river basins. ``The policy was drafted after a prolonged research and consultation with leading experts in the field of environment,'' he said. 

The BJP government had taken the view that owing to the rigid river regulation zone policy, industrial projects worth Rs 7000 crore were stuck up, as a result, there was adverse impact on development of the Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions. 

A senior bureaucrat said owing to the river regulation zone policy, Schindler's Rs 300 crore project in Chakan near Pune, industrial projects worth Rs 4000 crore in Taloja near Navi Mumbai and mining of three billion tons of coal by Western Coalfield in Vidarbha region was on hold. 

A leading environmental expert expressed the view that the decision to scrap the river policy was taken in haste and will have adverse impact on state's environment. "No doubt the cabinet has taken the decision, but we feel that CM must discuss the proposal with environmental experts. We are in favour of industrial development, but not at the cost of environment,'' he said.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

NGT order to make Delhi drains pollution-free (The Times of India 16 January 2015)

NEW DELHI: If the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) judgment on Yamuna and stormwater drains in Delhi is implemented, drains, that are eyesore now, will transform to recreational green spaces. NGT, while pronouncing a judgment on restoration of Yamuna and natural drains in the city earlier this week, accepted the recommendations of an expert committee headed by IIT professor, A K Gosain. One of the plans is to ensure that no sewage enters the natural stormwater drains that lead to Yamuna. This will serve two purposes — pollution load in Yamuna will reduce and natural drains will recharge Delhi's groundwater aquifers. It will cost the government about Rs 4,000 crore to make it a reality. 

To start with, no drains will be covered in Delhi under NGT's 'Mailey se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Plan, 2017.' Those who have just begun construction will have to remove the structures. Two projects to cover drain had already started in Andrews Ganj and Chirag Dilli under a Rs 233-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) scheme. About Rs 58 crore have already been spent on it. These projects may now be scrapped completely. "The reason is simple. If the rain water is not reaching the drains, the underground aquifers are not getting recharged. These drains are also rich in biodiversity and support a large number of species, but that will not happen if drains are covered. Drains will also not play their natural role of carrying floodwater if there is sewage in it," said Gosain. There are about 200 such natural drains in Delhi that need immediate relief from sewage and toxic effluents that flows into them. 

NGT's plan is to ensure that in unsewered areas of Delhi - about 45% of the city -- the sewage generated is intercepted before it enters the natural stormwater drains. "Sewage can be picked up and diverted to the nearest sewer line or taken to nearest STP. That is why we need new STPs in the city. As for sewered areas -- 55% of Delhi - people have no business draining sewage into natural drains," Gosain said. In these sewered areas, the sewerage system may need repair and maintenance as part of the project. Gosain is hopeful that this project may be successful as Delhi Jal Board (DJB) in its affidavit had itself suggested the plan. 

Along with ensuring that the natural drains are sewage-free, certain species of grasses and trees will be planted along them. "Some grasses help clean water. Drains also have their micro eco-system where a lot of species thrive. With this, we can maintain biodiversity. NGT is treating the natural drains as part of larger Yamuna," Manoj Misra, petitioner in the case against covering of stormwater drains, said. He added that the judgment could have been even more effective had the tribunal imposed the "polluter pays" principle against those who dump waste in drains. 


NGT order to make Delhi drains pollution-free (The Economic Times 16 January 2015)

NEW DELHI: If the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) judgment on Yamuna and stormwater drains in Delhi is implemented, drains, that are eyesore now, will transform to recreational green spaces. NGT, while pronouncing a judgment on restoration of Yamuna and natural drains in the city earlier this week, accepted the recommendations of an expert committee headed by IIT professor, A K Gosain. One of the plans is to ensure that no sewage enters the natural stormwater drains that lead to Yamuna. This will serve two purposes — pollution load in Yamuna will reduce and natural drains will recharge Delhi's groundwater aquifers. It will cost the government about Rs 4,000 crore to make it a reality. 


To start with, no drains will be covered in Delhi under NGT's 'Mailey se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Plan, 2017.' Those who have just begun construction will have to remove the structures. Two projects to cover drain had already started in Andrews Ganj and Chirag Dilli under a Rs 233-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) scheme. About Rs 58 crore have already been spent on it. These projects may now be scrapped completely. "The reason is simple. If the rain water is not reaching the drains, the underground aquifers are not getting recharged. These drains are also rich in biodiversity and support a large number of species, but that will not happen if drains are covered. Drains will also not play their natural role of carrying floodwater if there is sewage in it," said Gosain. There are about 200 such natural drains in Delhi that need immediate relief from sewage and toxic effluents that flows into them

NGT's plan is to ensure that in unsewered areas of Delhi - about 45% of the city -- the sewage generated is intercepted before it enters the natural stormwater drains. "Sewage can be picked up and diverted to the nearest sewer line or taken to nearest STP. That is why we need new STPs in the city. As for sewered areas -- 55% of Delhi - people have no business draining sewage into natural drains," Gosain said. In these sewered areas, the sewerage system may need repair and maintenance as part of the project. Gosain is hopeful that this project may be successful as Delhi Jal Board (DJB) in its affidavit had itself suggested the plan.


Along with ensuring that the natural drains are sewage-free, certain species of grasses and trees will be planted along them. "Some grasses help clean water. Drains also have their micro eco-system where a lot of species thrive. With this, we can maintain biodiversity. NGT is treating the natural drains as part of larger Yamuna," Manoj Misra, petitioner in the case against covering of stormwater drains, said. He added that the judgment could have been even more effective had the tribunal imposed the "polluter pays" principle against those who dump waste in drains

NGT yet to decide on enforcement (Times of India 15 January 2015)


NEW DELHI: Polluting the Yamuna is going to be a highly expensive proposition. The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday made throwing puja material into the river a punishable offence. Anyone caught dumping packets containing flowers and other offerings will be fined Rs 5,000. The fine would also be applicable on throwing food grains, oil, etc into the river. 

However, it will take some time to implement this rule. A committee formed by NGT has to decide on the enforcement agency. Monitoring this activity will be monumental task, especially as this practice has a clear religious basis. "A law exists under the Water Act with penal action under Delhi Jal Board Act that one cannot throw things into the river, but implementation has been a nightmare. Fines range from Rs 100-1,000 which is too low to prevent this action. Several activities have been undertaken to dissuade people from throwing things, but it is very difficult to convince anyone as it is done on religious ground," said government sources. 

For dumping debris, there is a bigger penalty of Rs 50,000. In fact, NGT has gone further to say that "it is not practically possible to determine the amount of compensation with exactitude, that such offenders should be directed to pay, however, on a rough estimation based on manpower required, time and money spent for removal of such waste and debris as well as making the river free from adverse environmental impacts of such dumping." The fines will be imposed as per the polluter pays principal under Section 15 of NGT Act. Civic authorities started taking action in this regard only when NGT stepped in. However, with access to the riverbed blocked and construction activity still quite high in and around the city, dumping has shifted to other areas. NGT has also suggested that if funds are not sufficient to meet the requirement of cleaning Yamuna, the municipal corporations may "require the public to contribute to this expenditure." This could translate into additional taxes or a cess for projects to ensure a pollution-free Yamuna and a clean and effective drainage system

Banking on Yamuna, many farmers may lose their lifeline (Times of India 15 January 2015)


NEW DELHI: The path leading towards Yamuna from the highway close to Akshardham is lined on either side by expansive green fields punctuated by bursts of yellow. Spinach, mustard, potatoes, onions, cauliflower, radish are some of the vegetables being grown here this season. 

The setting could well change following a judgment passed on Tuesday by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which bans agriculture in these parts. The farmers and farm workers in the area, however, are oblivious to the changes. They not only use the toxic water to irrigate the crops, but also for cooking and drinking in their own homes along the river. 

Dular Singh has been working on a five bighas farmland, barely 500 metres away from the Yamuna bank. The water he uses for the crops comes from a tubewell on the farm, a norm in the area with several of them dotting the landscape. Though Singh is convinced about the quality of the vegetables, customers he sometimes meets in east Delhi markets are not. "Sometimes I meet odd customers who ask where the vegetables are from. They do not buy them when I say it is from near the Yamuna. But that is okay. There are several others who do not have a problem," Singh says. 

The NGT judgment was in response to a petition by Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, a Delhi-based NGO. With this, the NGT is looking to implement its restoration project Maily se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Plan 2017 (From polluted to pristine Yamuna Revitalisation Plan, 2017), with a focus on prevention of dumping of debris and prevention of coverage or concretization of storm water drains. "We direct that no authority shall permit and no person shall carry out any edible crops or fodder cultivation on the floodplain. This direction shall strictly be adhered to till Yamuna is made pollution free and is restored to its natural wholesomeness," reads the ruling. Among other aspects of the project, the committee is also expected to consult on the withdrawal of farming activities from the area. 

Over the years, independent studies have pointed to the alarming levels of pollution in the Yamuna, its impact on soil and groundwater in the area. A 2012 study from The Energy Resources Institute (Teri), for example, found high levels of nickel, lead, manganese, chromium and zinc in water samples from various locations in Yamuna. Another study done the same year by National Reference Trace Organics Laboratory and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), along with the Union ministry for environment and forests, found traces of Lindane, a carcinogenic pesticide, in the river. Experts say rampant dumping of pollutants, be it industrial debris or household trash, along with pesticide run-off from other fields, has led to this. 

Those working on farm here have exposed themselves to hazards. "Sometimes, the water is yellow and cloudy, and also has a strange smell. We have no option but to drink it," says Singh's wife Guddu Devi. "We often fall sick," says Devi, pointing at their 10-year-old daughter Anjali. "But the food tastes fine when we cook it in the same water," she adds. A few paces away, 27-year-old Binod Kumar is stacking up on radishes. The water in his area, he says, is always clean. But it often smells. "People have had typhoid and stomach ailments here. We have to go all the way to Trilokpuri to see a doctor," says Kumar. 

Banning vegetable crops in the area entirely is not going to be easy. There are issues of livelihood to look into as well. Manu Kumar Pande from Madhubani in Bihar has known this life for 10 years. He sells the produce directly to customers in Noida. "There are thousands of farmers who have been working along the Yamuna for ages now all the way from Agra to Mathura to here. It is the source of livelihood for all of them," he says. 

(With inputs from Neha Lalchandani)