Jal Jeevan Mission: Centre releases funds to states and asks states/UTs to digitise water supply infrastructure in rural India
Centre has released Rs 5,968 Crore to 15 States for the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in the financial year 2021-22. Out of the Central funds allocated under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), 93 percent of the fund is to be utilised on developing water supply infrastructure, five percent on support activities and two percent on water quality monitoring and surveillance activities. Along with this, Centre has also released Rs 1,605 crore to eight northeastern states for the implementation of JJM to provide tap water supply to rural homes in the financial year 2021-22.
With an aim to ensure water service delivery in rural homes by addressing various issues that cause disruption in water supply on a regular basis, the Centre has written to states and union territories to roll out sensor based IoT solutions to measure and monitor water supply in rural areas. (Livemint, The Times of India, PIB)
Dredging in Tamil Nadu: NGT refuses complete ban, calls for sustainable use of natural resources
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has refused to impose a total ban on dredging or de-silting of dams or river beds in Tamil Nadu while maintaining that there should be an equilibrium in protecting the environment while "using natural resources gifted by Mother Nature". The observation came while dealing with a bunch of pleas which claimed that in the guise of desilting the Srivaikundam dam in Tuticorin district, illegal mining was being carried out. The NGT stated that no environmental clearance was required in the matter. However, the dredging or de-silting had to be done strictly in accordance with the guidelines given by the Environment Ministry in Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines, 2016 and also Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining, 2020. The tribunal has also asked the state government to have adequate control and monitoring mechanisms on these activities for effective mining/desilting/dredging by providing all necessary infrastructure. (Outlook India)
Committee recommends NITI Aayog’s ambitious project for Great Nicobar Island for EIA studies
Removing the first hurdle to the NITI Ayog’s ambitious project for Great Nicobar Island, the Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) has recommended the project for grant of terms of reference (TOR) for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies while flagging serious concerns. The proposal includes an international container transshipment terminal, a greenfield international airport, a power plant and a township complex spread over 166 sq. km. (mainly pristine coastal systems and tropical forests), and is estimated to cost Rs 75,000 crore.
The committee’s concerns include missing information on the details of the township to be developed over 149 sq. km., a note on seismic and tsunami hazards, freshwater requirement details (for 6.5 lakh people to finally inhabit the island when the present population is only 8,500), details of the impact on the Giant Leatherback turtle and details of the trees to be felled.(The Hindu)
NGT issues notice to Centre, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments over proposed dam on Cauvery river
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued notices to the Environment Ministry, Department of Water Resources, Central Water Commission, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu governments as Karnataka proposes to construct a dam across the Cauvery river at Mekedatu. The direction came after taking suo motu cognisance of news reports in this regard. The tribunal has formed a committee to submit a report on alleged violation of norms in the construction of a reservoir across the Cauvery river in the area. The committee holds the responsibility to ascertain whether any construction activity as alleged in the newspaper report has been started without obtaining necessary clearance from authorities. (India Legal)
Villagers near an opencast mine in Odisha stand up against coal pollution
It has been over a decade that the villages near the Kulda opencast mine in Odisha’s Hemgiri block in the Sundargarh district have been fighting coal pollution. However, despite repeated protests and court cases, the situation is still the same.
The villagers have finally launched a “do or die” agitation against the project since January 2021. Every day 3,000 dumper trucks of coal pass through Ratanpur and 25 villages along a 30 km stretch, violating environmental norms and causing trouble to villagers as their daily lives, crops and ponds in the area are impacted by the coal dust. The district administration has turned a blind eye to the unrelenting situation of the villagers and are making minor efforts to ensure compliance of the court orders that demand taking up several measures to curb coal pollution.
Finally, unable to bear that the coal pollution which is taking a heavy toll on their lives, the community has launched an all out agitation against the Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, which runs the project, and the authorities. (Mongabay India)
This is a roundup of important policy matters from May 13 - 24, 2021. Also, read the news this fortnight.