Severe fine for misuse or wastage of groundwater
Under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has issued a new notification that directs the civic bodies dealing with water supply in all states and Union Territories to strictly ensure that there is no wastage or misuse of groundwater.
Violation in such a case is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both. The authority has also ordered all the states to evolve and implement mechanisms with coercive measures, including a penalty, for wasting groundwater.
Estimates show that the average annual per capita availability between 2011 and 2025 has reduced by over 25 percent and would further reduce to 36 percent by 2035. (The New Indian Express)
Blue Flag certification accorded to India’s eight beaches
Blue Flag certification, a globally recognised eco-label, has been awarded to eight beaches spread across five states and two union territories. The certification is accorded by the "Foundation for Environment Education, Denmark" is based on 33 stringent criteria under four major heads -- environmental education and information, bathing water quality, environment management and conservation, and safety and services at the beaches. The beaches which have received the certification are Shivrajpur in Gujarat, Ghoghla in Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri in Karnataka, Kappad in Kerala, Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh, Golden in Odisha and Radhanagar in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. (Livemint)
Centre refuses to pay one-third of Polavaram project cost
The Finance Ministry has refused to pay the revised estimation of Rs 55,448.67 crore approved by the Central Water Commission (CWC) at 2017-18 price level. Instead, the originally estimated Rs 20,398 crore at 2013-14 price level would only be paid. The decision has come as a blow to the Andhra Pradesh Government, as Polavaram project which is nearing completion envisages to supply water to 7.2 lakh acres of East and West Godavari districts. The issue is likely to go to the union cabinet for clearance since the decision involves two cabinets. (Banglore Mirror, The New Indian Express)
ADB provides $270 million loan for better water supply and sewage management for MP
Centre and the Asian Development Bank has signed a $270 million loan to develop water supply and integrated stormwater and sewage management infrastructure and strengthen capacities of urban local bodies (ULBs) for improved service delivery for Madhya Pradesh. The loan is an additional financing to scale up the scope of the ongoing Madhya Pradesh Urban Services Improvement Project, which was approved in 2017 with a $275 million loan. The MoU will cover additional 64 small cities benefiting 185,000 households consisting of about 1.3 million people. (Business Standard)
Uttarakhand’s proposal to use the national park for Kumbh Mela rejected
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has rejected the Uttarakhand forest department’s proposal to use a portion of the Rajaji National Park and Narendra Nagar forest division for the Kumbh Mela, scheduled to happen in 2021. This is because the forest department exceeded the liberty of use of forest land for non-forest purposes given in the MoEFCC’s orders and also proposed to acquire forest land in a protected area for nine months. The proposal that asked for the transfer of 778 hectares of the national park to the Kumbh Mela Samiti from September 1, 2020, and until May 31, 2021, to initiate ‘temporary’ construction for the festival, was approved in January 2020 and drew severe criticism from environmentalists. (Science The Wire)
17 endangered rivers in UP to get a new lease of life
The Uttar Pradesh government is taking up efforts to rejuvenate 17 rivers whose existence is under threat. These rivers flow through at least 35 districts in the state and have a total length of around 3,900 km. The move follows the restoration of the flow and course of two rivers in the state with mythological connect—Tamsa in Ayodhya and Mandakini in Chitrakoot. The officials claim to have already restored more than 900 ponds and 500 mullahs through which these rivers flow. In another report, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary to prepare a uniform action plan for identification and protection of water bodies in the state. (The Times of India, Outlook India)
Kerala village kickstarts project to preserve trees
A village in Wayanad district of Kerala has initiated a project that will allow farmers to mortgage the trees on their land in return for interest-free bank loans. The tree-banking scheme is a brainchild of state Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac.
Under the scheme, the farmers can pledge their tree sapling after a year of planting for interest-free loans from a local cooperative bank. Each sapling can be pledged for Rs 50 per year for a period of 10 years.
The scheme will discourage farmers from slashing trees, a practice that has been widespread in recent years. (The Indian Express)
Entire Baghjan oil field of Oil India Limited operating illegally: NGT
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) committee, constituted to investigate the cause and impact of the Baghjan blowout in Assam, has found that the oilfield and 26 other oil wells in the region are operating without mandatory environmental clearances. On May 27, the Oil India Limited’s well at Baghjan in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district experienced a blowout followed by a fire, which continues to impact an area of 10 kms around the blowout site, which is located near the Dibru Saikhowa National Park. The committee has recommended payment of Rs 25 Lakh to 173 families and Rs 20 lakh to 439 families identified by the district administration. (Northeast Now)
NGT strict towards the restoration of Dhamapur Lake in Maharashtra
To ensure restoration of the Dhamapur Lake in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district, the National Green Tribunal has ordered Sindhudurg district collector to seize an amount of Rs 1.5 crore in the bank account of the state public works department (PWD) till the time it does not transfer the amount to State Biodiversity Board to restore the notified wetland. Along with this, the tribunal has also ordered to remove all encroachments undertaken in violation of the Wetland 2017 rules. The Dhamapur Lake, an inland wetland and a permanent freshwater lake, spread over about 44.8 hectares was constructed in 1530 between villages Are and Katta. (Hindustan Times)
KSBB to take up biodiversity revival along the Pampa river
The 2018 Kerala flood had severely devastated many native floras along the banks of the Pampa river. However, with the help of native panchayats, the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) is planning to set a mannequin for the state by restoring the biodiversity on the banks of the Pampa in Pathanamthitta district. As part of the programme, 94 riverine species, together with threatened ones, will be restored alongside the banks of the river. These species will be grown in nurseries and planted on the banks of the Pampa through the initiative, that aims to restore 92.95 km of river banks. (The Hindu)
This is a roundup of important policy matters from October 6 – November 5, 2020. Also, read the news this month.