The link between water and Delhi's air pollution crisis
A study, "Tradeoffs Between Groundwater Conservation and Air Pollution From Agricultural Fires in Northwest India," published in Nature Sustainability, reveals how water-use policies require farmers to transplant rice later in the year, which in turn delays harvests and concentrates agricultural burnings of crop residues in November - a month when breezes stagnate - leading to increased air pollution. The perfect storm of conditions during November has created almost 30 percent higher atmospheric concentrations of fine particulate matter, small particles that are especially concerning for human health. The scientists analyzed groundwater conservation policies and their effect on the timing of farmers' planting and harvesting crops and burning crop residues. They also connected this information with meteorological and air pollution data. (Eureka Alert)
Read this related blog post on the real reasons behind Delhi's annual air pollution crisis.
Two cyclones over Arabian Sea for the first time since 1965
For the first time since 1965, two cyclonic storms occurred simultaneously - Cyclone Kyarr and Cyclone Maha - over the Arabian Sea. A few days after the monsoon withdrew, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) declared the development of Cyclone Kyarr over the Arabian Sea, which rapidly intensified and then finally weakened into a well marked low pressure system. The remnants of Cyclone Kyarr led to Cyclone Maha which formed close to the Lakshadweep islands and Kerala in the Arabian Sea. While Cyclone Kyarr brought intense rain last weekend over the Konkan coast and Maharashtra, Cyclone Maha could lash the coastal regions of Gujarat around November 6th or 7th. (The Indian Express, Livemint)
For the third consecutive year, Gujarat tops Niti Aayog's water management index
NITI Aayog has released its latest Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) 2.0. Although Gujarat’s CWMI score slipped from 76.3 last year to 74.8 this year, but the state has been ranked first in the country. According to the report, except Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, none of the top ten agricultural states secured a CWMI score of over 60. The report has lauded the Gujarat Green Revolution Company for enabling adoption of micro-irrigation facilities by 6.40 lakh farmers covering over 10 lakh hectares of land. However, the report has also mentioned that the participation of water user associations in irrigation is just 34 percent in the state. (The Times of India)
Despite being declared open defecation free, UP still has thousands of toilet-less households
In October 2018, Uttar Pradesh declared itself open defecation free. However, an assessment by the Jal Shakti Ministry found that there are still more than 14.62 lakh households in the state that do not have a toilet. A six member inspection team was formed after the SBM (Rural) director asked the district magistrates in a letter in September 2019 to verify the figure of toilet-less households in their jurisdiction. The SBM (Rural) director explained that the discrepancy in figures is because the SBM mission target for construction of more toilets was based on a baseline survey conducted in 2012. But since then, the number of beneficiaries left out of the process increased. (News18)
Post-monsoon shower brings respite to Maharashtra's Latur
The withdrawal of the monsoon has brought much needed relief to Latur, which was reeling under a severe water crisis due to deficient rains this year. Earlier, the Latur Municipal Corporation had announced that water supply through taps would be stopped after Diwali and 100 litres of water per day to every household would be supplied through tankers. However, the recent rains may change the scenario as the inflow to the Manjra dam that supplies water to Latur has increased. Additionally, the two major barrages along with the Manjra dam have enough stock of drinking water to last till 10 June next year. (Firstpost, The Times of India)
This is a roundup of important news published between October 23 - November 4, 2019. Also read policy matters this week.