Nashik civic body frees Godavari using riverfront development funds

A civic body frees a river instead of concretising it, for the first time

Under the Centre’s ‘Smart Cities’ mission, funds were allocated to the Nashik Municipal Corporation for Godavari riverfront development. However, the funds are instead being used for decommissioning the riverfont project. Ahead of the Nashik Kumbh Mela in 2003, the civic body concretised the river's banks and bed, thus transforming it into a bathtub and severing its connections with groundwater and small springs on which the river depended for its flow. But this year, the civic body finally drilled concrete out of the Godavari to free the river. The positive move has made experts hopeful that the act will set a precedent for a number of similar riverfront development projects and help ‘smarten’ cities better. (Science The Wire)

August 2020 was the wettest month since 1976

This year, with a 26.3 percent surplus of rainfall for August, the month has become the wettest August in 44 years. The total rainfall recorded in the country between August 1 and 30 was 317.4 mm against a normal of 251.3 mm. As per the data provided by India Meteorological Department (IMD), the country’s August rainfall in the last 50 years, when it surpassed 20 percent above normal, was only on five previous occasions — 1970 (26 percent), 1973 (27.8 percent), 1975 (21 percent), 1976 (28.4 percent) and 1983 (23.8 percent). Multiple low pressure systems formed in the Bay of Bengal since August 5 is the reason behind keeping the Southwest monsoon in active to vigorous phase. Although enhanced rainfall activity was recorded this month over south and northwest India, the northeast region experienced a dry August. (The Indian Express)

GDP in the first quarter dips, but agriculture reports positive growth

According to the National Statistical Office’s estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter, the GDP shrank by a whopping 23.9 percent as against the same period in 2019 which observed an economic growth of 5.2 percent. The results, however, were expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the near cessation of economic activities. Despite an overall dip in GDP, agriculture was the only sector to grow for April-June 2020 among the eight sectors that are used to compute the GDP. In absolute monetary terms the sector has added Rs 14,815 crore in the first three months. The current estimate, which includes the agricultural production for the Rabi season, is encouraging given the disruption in the supply chains and the subsequent impact on the income of farmers. (Down to Earth)

Maharashtra tops the list of farmer suicides in 2019

As per the report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for the year 2019, with 38.2 percent suicides by farmers and farm hands, Maharashtra had the highest number of suicides in the country, followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh. In Andhra Pradesh, which has been ranked third, the number of farmers committing suicide increased to 1,029 in 2019 as against 664 in 2018. The increase in the number was unexpected in the state as the year experienced good rainfall and had sufficient water in reservoirs in comparison to the years 2017 and 2018 that witnessed drought conditions. (The New Indian Express)

Improved water quality observed at several polluted stretches of the Ganga river: Report

According to a study conducted by the IIT-led Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga), the water quality of the Ganga river and its major tributaries in some of the polluted stretches in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh has shown improvement during the Covid-19 lockdown. This improvement is being attributed to restricted industrial and tourism activities, closure of hotels, restaurants and other commercial establishments and restrictions on bathing and washing clothes in the river during the lockdown period. The major findings of the study are that the critical dissolved oxygen (CDO) level in the main stem of Ganga river was good enough to support aquatic flora and fauna in most of the locations when compared to the pre-lockdown period and the total coliform count on the main stem was also fairly conducive for daily bathing. (The Print)

This is a roundup of important news published between August 24 - September 6, 2020. Also read policy matters this week.