Inconsistencies in Centre's flagship irrigation scheme, reveals CAG audit
A performance audit of the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) for the period 2008 to 2017, has revealed that the Centre's flagship irrigation scheme is laden with delays, deficiencies in planning and diversion of funds and financial irregularities. As per the audit report, projects and schemes were included in the programme in violation of its guidelines which had led to the irregular release of Rs 3,718 crore. The report also observed extra financial implications to the tune of Rs 1,337 crore owing to irregular, wasteful and avoidable expenditure. The report has further pointed out laxity in monitoring by central and state agencies in the projects evaluated under the audit.
Groundwater levels dip remarkably in Tamil Nadu
According to the Tamil Nadu Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre of the Water Resources Department, 20 out of 32 districts in the state have shown a significant decline in their water tables. In Perambalur district, which is the worst affected, the groundwater levels have dropped from 6.74 mt to 11.06 mt. Moreover, the failure of the northeast monsoon has aggravated the water crisis in the affected districts. Few districts like Coimbatore, Erode, Madurai, Nagapattinam, Tirunelveli and other delta districts, however, have recorded a marginal rise in groundwater levels.
Government data reveals diversion of over 20,000 hectares of forest land in past three years
The official data from the government has revealed that as much as 20,314.12 hectares of forest land has been diverted from 2015-2018 for developmental activities such as mining, thermal power plants, dams, road, railways and irrigation projects. With 5,137.38 hectares of forest land diverted, Telangana topped the list followed by Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. Apart from the country's environmentalists raising concerns about government's intent for forest conservation, even the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has criticised India's definition of forests.
Tamil Nadu's Karunguzhi town exemplifies complete sanitation via faecal sludge treatment plant
Karunguzhi in Kanchipuram district has built up a faecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP), worth Rs 4.93 crore, specially designed to treat waste generated outside the underground sewage network. With the upcoming FSTP, the town has moved towards the full cycle of sanitation, that is access to toilets, safe containment, conveyance, and finally treatment and disposal of toilet waste. Being able to treat nearly 6,000 to 8,000 litres of waste daily, the Karunguzhi’s FSTP has become a model for towns with no underground sewage system.
Sixteen airports in the country declared single-use plastic free
The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has restricted the use of single-use plastic items at 16 of its airport— Indore, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Tirupati, Trichy, Vijayawada, Dehradun, Chandigarh, Vadodara, Madurai, Raipur, Vizag, Pune, Kolkata and Varanasi. With the ban, air travellers will not get any single-use plastic items at the passenger terminals and city side. The first batch of 16 airports was selected on the basis of the third-party assessment carried out by the Quality Council of India.
This is a roundup of important news published between January 7 - 13, 2019. Also read policy matters this week.