Phailin rain increases Andhra groundwater levels

News this week: Rainfall after Phailin increases groundwater level in Andhra, poor sanitation in eastern UP and activists rise against petroleum investment zone in Visakhapatnam.
Phailin raises groundwater in Andhra (EU-ECHO) Phailin raises groundwater in Andhra (EU-ECHO)

Phailin increases Andhra groundwater levels

The heavy rainfall that followed super cyclone Phailin combined with the monsoon rainfall this year, has raised the groundwater level in many districts of the state. According to the district Groundwater Department, the rise in the water table in Hyderabad was 18.64 feet as compared to May this year when most borewells went dry, and 1.68 feet as compared to October last year. In Medak district, the table rose to 31.87 feet as compared to May this year and 12.04 feet as compared to October last year. The state received an average rainfall of 260 mm last month, which was 65% above normal.

Poor sanitation and potable water in eastern Uttar Pradesh: report

A World Bank study in Eastern Uttar Pradesh shows that there is no sanitation facility in most rural households and that more than 80% villages practice open defecation. The study conducted in 28 districts of Eastern UP suggests that there is no awareness among the people about the quality of drinking water being consumed. The report also stated that lack of sanitation has led to the spread of diseases like Japanese Encephalitis or the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, malaria and gastroenteritis in the rural population. Aquifers in Balia and Bahraich districts and some in Sonbhadra and Gorakhpur were found to be contaminated by arsenic and fluoride.

Shelve proposed petrochemical investment zone: activists

Activists want the Andhra Pradesh government to shelve the proposed petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals investment zone between Kakinada and Visakhapatnam as it will lead to groundwater scarcity and pollution in the city. According to former bureaucrats and environment activists who gathered to protest the project last week, even if the controversial Polavaram project is completed, it will not fulfill the drinking water needs of the city and the project by 2020. As against the requirement of 254 million gallons a day (MGD) water, only 219 MGD would be available. The activists suggested that the government should instead think of setting up investment regions for agro industries and fish processing units in the fragile coastal zone.

Tamil Nadu packaged water industry goes on strike

901 packaged drinking water units in the state observed a day long strike against a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order that mandates the units to apply for consent to operate from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. According to the industry representatives, packaged water is not a polluting industry and the units do not use strong chemicals to treat groundwater. Also, most of them operate on a very small scale, which keeps them out of the purview of the Pollution Control Board. Apart from Chennai where 323 units were shut as part of the protest, demonstrations were held in seven other places — Krishnagiri, Tiruchi, Madurai, Vellore, Coimbatore, Cuddalore and Tirunelveli.

Consider small hydel projects for environment clearance: activists

47 experts and organisations from across the country have asked the Environment and Forests Ministry to include hydel projects between 1-25 Megawatt (MW) under the purview of Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006. As of now, only projects above 25 MW have to apply for clearance or public hearing and prepare an environment management plan to address the project's impact on the region's ecology and people. As per the activists, even as the local communities suffer from these projects in their backyard in terms of water availability, submergence and habitat destruction, they do not get electricty from them as most small hydro projects are grid connected.

This is a weekly roundup of important news from November 11-16. Also read last week's policy matters updates.

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