Groundwater of 18 districts in Bihar contaminated
PATNA, March 31, 2013: The problem of groundwater contamination in
18 out of the 38 districts has reached alarming proportions since arsenic in groundwater was first reported in June 2002 in
Semaria Ojha Patti village under Shahpurpolice station area in
Bhojpurdistrict.Groundwater experts say that test of soil sediments in the plains of the
Ganga has revealed presence of arsenic in high concentration. This arsenic continuously seeps into the aquifers, contaminating the groundwater.
Testing of groundwater in all these districts reveals concentrations of arsenic that is way above the maximum limit of 10
parts per billion (ppb) as recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO).
Water and environment management head of A N College, Patna, A K
Ghosh, who has tested water samples of more than 36,000 hand pumps and tube
wells used both for drinking and irrigational purposes and found 30% of
them having higher concentration of arsenic, says the maximum concentration of arsenic has been observed at Pandey Tola, Bhojpur (1861
ppb), Maner, Patna (724 ppb), Bhagalpur (608 ppb) and Bidupur, Vaishali (360 ppb).
The districts affected by arsenic poisoning include Begusarai,
Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Buxar, Darbhanga, Katihar, Khagaria, Lakhisarai,
Munger, Patna, Samastipur, Saran, Vaishali, Supaul, West Champaran,
Kishanganj, Purnia and Madhubani. Though the groundwater in Patna town
is still free of arsenic, contamination has been detected in its suburbs
like Danapur in the west and Fatuha in the east.
Ghosh says that arsenic has not only contaminated the groundwater but
has also entered into the food chain. Recent test of samples of rice,
maize and sugarcane collected from Bhagalpur and Bhojpur districts has
revealed higher concentration of arsenic. While the rice of Bhojpur region showed the presence of 36 micrograms/gram arsenic, the sugarcane
juice of Bhagalpur was found having 22 ppb of arsenic. This is, indeed, a very dangerous symptom, he added.
The Central Ground Water Board scientists say that people who have been
consuming arsenic contaminated water for the last several years are now
suffering from various skin ailments, including cancer. Source: The Times of India
'Water credits' for India Inc on cards
March 22, 2013: The concept of water credit to India Inc companies adopting
water-conservation measures coupled with the introduction of water-efficiency tags on home appliances like washing machine,
dishwasher or buildings/homes is expected to get a mention in the coming Budget.
The government is also expected to outline a water regulatory body —National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency (NBWUE) — and tax
incentives/benefits for industries that subject themselves to water audit in a time-bound manner soon.
“The ground work and the base studies on water usage by various
industries is getting finalised. There is a strong possibility of its
mention in the Budget,” said a senior functionary of the joint industry
task force looking at enforcing efficient usage of water resources. The water credit can be defined as a certificate showing that a
government department, company, individual or industry has saved certain
amount of water during particular activity or production process or domestic use. Under the system of water
credit, industries will get the permit to use additional 1,000 liters of water (or quantities finalised
by NBWUE) that can also be “traded in the international market at their current market price”.
The idea of water credit comes at a time when there's increasing
awareness of the need to control water wastage. According to an internal
note, industries or consumers that have not used up their quota of water
can sell their unused allowances as water credits, while businesses that
are about to exceed their quota can buy the extra allowances as credits. Source: Financial Express
Indian scientists develop arsenic detection tool
KOLKATA, February 27, 2013 (IANS): Scientists in Kolkata have developed a new
high-precision technique to detect arsenic in water, a toxic substance widespread in
the groundwater of India and Bangladesh that on long-term exposure is
capable of causing skin cancer. According to the WHO ,natural arsenic contamination is a cause for
concern in many countries, including Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Mexico, Thailand
and the US. The new method developed by the scientists enables high-precision
detection of arsenic through tiny gold clusters that signal its presence in water by
emitting light (a phenomenon called fluorescence).
"The ultra-sensitive sensors synthesised by us were in the form of gold
clusters that signal the presence of arsenic in water by emitting more
light or fluorescence when in contact with the toxic arsenic in water.
"It even detected arsenic in presence of other toxic metal ions," Arindam Banerjee of the Department of Biological Chemistry of the Indian
Association for the Cultivation of Science, told IANS. Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Centre for Science and
Environment, New Delhi, said arsenic poisoning in India is a widespread
phenomenon which needs monitoring techniques as well as methods for removal of the toxic substance.
"Scientific studies in monitoring techniques as well as methods to
remove the arsenic from water are necessary," Chandra Bhushan told IANS. The unique feature of the new monitoring technique is that it can
roughly indicate the extent of arsenic contamination. "The more the light emitted, the greater the quantity of arsenic present," Banerjee added.Unlike other sensors, these gold clusters are particularly sensitive for
detection of arsenic in water that contains other metal contaminants as well.
"The fluorescence intensity of the gold cluster almost remains same in
the presence of different metal ions such as magnesium, manganese, iron
and zinc. In fact, these clusters are so sensitive and precise that they
can detect or sense arsenic ions in water even if they are diluted to 40
times their original concentration," Banerjee added.
India can direct water from Kishanganga hydroelectric project, rules The Hague Court
New Delhi, February 19, 2013
(PTI): An International Court of Arbitration at the Hague has
ruled in favour of India on the Kishanganga hydroelectric project and upheld India's right to divert water from the hydroelectric project to
Kashmir. Pakistan had moved for arbitration in May 2010, claiming India
was trying to divert the Jhelum river and the project would rob it of 15 per cent of its share of river waters.
India had claimed the Indus Waters Treaty gave it the right to transfer
waters between the Jhelum's tributaries to generate hydro power. Reacting to the development, official spokesperson in the Ministry of
External Affairs said, "The award of the Court of Arbitration at The Hague today reaffirmed validity of India's position regarding KHEP by
allowing diversion of water from the KHEP as envisaged by India." He said, "It highlights once again that India is adhering to all the
provisions of Indus Waters Treaty." The spokesperson also said the details of the award were being studied.
Pakistan had moved for arbitration in May 2010, claiming the project
would rob it of 15 per cent of its share of Jhelum river waters. Pakistan has been objecting to the
construction of the hydroelectric project on the Kishanganga river in Kashmir, which is called Neelum upon
entering Pakistan. In November 2009, Pakistan had proposed the establishment of a Court of Arbitration and the appointment of a neutral
expert to resolve the Kishanganga dam dispute.Indus Waters Treaty, inked between India and Pakistan, provides
appointment of a neutral expert by the World Bank as a last option to resolve water related issues between the two countries. The Kishanganga
plant, in Bandipora district of north Kashmir, is part of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme that is
designed to divert water
NASA: Alarming water loss in Middle East
DOHA (Qatar), February 14, 2013 (AP): An amount of freshwater almost the size of the Dead Sea has been lost in
parts of the Middle East due to poor management, increased demands for groundwater and the effects of a 2007 drought, according to a NASA study.
The study, to be published Friday in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, examined data over seven years from
2003 from a pair of gravity-measuring satellites which is part of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment or GRACE.
Researchers found freshwater reserves in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the
Tigris and Euphrates river basins had lost 117 million acre feet (144
cubic kilometers) of its total stored freshwater, the second fastest loss of groundwater storage loss after India. About 60 percent of the loss resulted from pumping underground
reservoirs for ground water, including 1,000 wells in Iraq, and another
fifth was due to impacts of the drought including declining snow packs
and soil drying up. Loss of surface water from lakes and reservoirs accounted for about another fifth of the decline, the study found.
"This rate of water loss is among the largest liquid freshwater losses
on the continents," the authors wrote in the study, noting the declines were most obvious after a drought.
The study is the latest evidence of a worsening water crisis in the
Middle East, where demands from growing populations, war and the worsening effects of climate change are raising the prospect that some
countries could face sever water shortages in the decades to come. Some
like impoverished Yemen blame their water woes on the semi-arid conditions and the grinding poverty while the oil-rich Gulf faces water
shortages mostly due to the economic boom that has created glistening cities out of the desert.
In a report released during the U.N. climate talks in Qatar, the World
Bank concluded among the most critical problems in the Middle East and North Africa will be worsening water shortages. The region already has
the lowest amount of freshwater in the world. With climate change, droughts in the region are expected to turn more extreme, water runoff
is expected to decline 10 percent by 2050 while demand for water is expected to increase 60%
China gives go-ahead for three new Brahmaputra dams
BEIJING, January 31, 2013: China has given the go-ahead for the construction of three new
hydropower dams on the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra river, ending a
two-year halt in approving new projects on the river amid concerns from
India and environmental groups. The three new dams have been approved by the State Council, or Cabinet,
under a new energy development plan for 2015 that was released on January 23, according to a copy of the plan available with "The Hindu".
China has, so far, only begun construction on one major hydropower dam
on the main stream of the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra or Yarlung
Zangbo as it is known in China – a 510 MW project in Zangmu in the Tibet
Autonomous Region (TAR), which began to be built in 2010. One of the three approved new dams is bigger than the
Zangmu project. A 640 MW dam will be built in Dagu, which lies 18 km upstream of
Zangmu. Another 320 MW dam will be built at Jiacha, also on the middle reaches
of the Brahmaputura downstream of Zangmu. A third dam will be built at
Jiexu, 11 km upstream of Zangmu. The capacity of the Jiexu dam is, as yet, unconfirmed.
The three projects were listed in the State Council’s energy plan for
the Twelfth Five Year Plan period (2011-15), which was released on January 23.
The plan said the government “will push forward vigorously the hydropower base construction” on the middle reaches of the Yarlung
Zangbo. In the Twelfth Five Year plan period (2011-15), the government
will begin construction of 120 million kilowatt of conventional hydropower.
A pre-feasibility study report for the 640 MW Dagu dam passed review in
November, according to the Huadong Engineering Corporation, a hydropower
company that was tasked with conducting the study by the local government. A notice posted on its website said a two-day review conference for the
pre-feasibility study of the dam was held in November, organised by the
Tibet Autonomous Region government’s Development and Reform Commission.
The notice said the study successfully passed review, adding that the
dam would be located 18 km upstream of the already in-construction Zangmu dam.
The catchment area at the dam site, according to the Huadong Engineering
Corporation, is 157,400 square kilometres, and the average annual discharge is 1010 cubic metres per second.
The dam will be built with a height of 124 metres and 640 MW capacity.
The construction of the Zangmu dam in 2010 triggered concerns in India
regarding possible impact on downstream flows. Chinese officials, however, assured their Indian counterparts that the project was only a
run-of-the-river hydropower station, which would not divert the Brahmaputra’s waters. The government has also built at least six smaller
hydropower projects on the Yarlung Zangbo’s tributaries, which, officials say, will have no impact on downstream flows.
Source: The Hindu
Karnataka stares at water crisis
BANGALORE, January 26, 2013: Karnataka is staring at an imminent water crisis
as the drought condition continues to worsen. "The situation is the worst in five years. Water levels in irrigation
dams have reduced drastically. Tankers and pushcarts are supplying water
in villages and towns, but the government is busy with budget and elections," said a senior official at the Karnataka State Disaster
Sounding alarm bells, the state administration said 7,500 villages are
in the grip of water shortage and about 15,000 villages could be affected in summer. "If there is not enough rain by March, the state
will effectively run out of water, with major reservoirs facing rapidly
declining water levels," admitted municipal administration minister Balachandra
Jarkiholi. Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore have sounded a red alert by cautioning
the residents to reuse water because of dwindling storage levels at Krishnarajasagar and Kabini dams. Hubli-Dharwad are already rationing
the water. Though water level at Thumbe dam is to the brim, Mangalore's concern is
that of distribution. The Mangalore City Corporation recently made it mandatory for water tankers to install GPS (global
positioning system) to ensure fair distribution of water in all areas.
Water- management experts predict a dark future if the state government
doesn't take steps early to tackle the crisis. "The waiting period is
over now. It's time to take action. Reservoirs are at dangerous levels
as rain has been scanty. We should not wait for April first week to announce contingency plans in the affected areas," said former water
resources minister H K Patil. Source: The Times of India
India's new national Water Policy
New Delhi, January 5, 2013 (IANS): Inida's new national water policy calls for strategies aimed at managing demand and improving
storage efficiency, particularly in agriculture, that accounts for over
80 percent of water use. The National Water Policy, for the first time, also speaks of the
challenge of climate change to water security and suggests augmenting water storage in various forms as a mitigation strategy.
"The new water policy has been prepared with a broad vision. It has been
prepared so that we can tackle the impending challenges in the water
sector over the next three-four decades," Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat told
IANS. The National Water Policy 2012 was adopted by the National Water
Resources Council last week. Rawat said the per capita availability of water had substantially gone
down from 5,177 cubic metres in 1951 to 1,545 cubic metres in 2011 and
was projected to go further down to 1,341 cubic metres in 2025 and 1,140 cubic metres in 2050.
The minister said that boosting "live storage" was one of the ways to
ensure water security. Hydropower projects should be planned as multi-purpose projects with provision of storage. He said present
storage capacity in the country was 253 billion cubic metres (bcm) and
will go up to 408 bcm in 2050 "only if all the projects under construction and under consideration are completed".
He said studies have indicated that India would need around 450 bcm of
storage capacity by 2050 to meet the requirements of various sectors.
Ministry officials said the per capita water storage capacity in India
was about 209 cubic metres against that of the US at 2,192 cubic metres
and Brazil 2,632 cubic metres. The corresponding figure for China is 416
cubic metres. They said it was difficult to increase the per capita availability due
to the growing population, urbanisation, rapid industrialisation and
economic development. "The per capita demand has to be reduced so we do not go to scarcity
levels from stress levels," a ministry official told IANS. He said India was "a water stressed" country. Global benchmarks
indicated this if the availability fell below 1,700 cubic metres per
year. He said efficiency in the use of water, specially for irrigation,
will help in huge savings. "Irrigation uses more than 80 percent of the usable water. Saving water
in irrigation is of paramount importance. Methods like aligning cropping
patterns with resource endowment and micro-irrigation need to be encouraged. There is a lot of thrust in the 12th (Five-Year) Plan on
micro irrigation practices such as drip and sprinkler irrigation," the official said.
He said that the new water policy talks of developing benchmarks of
efficiency in terms of water footprints and water auditing. The new policy also suggests allocation and pricing on economic
principles after ensuring a minimum quantity of potable water for
essential health and hygiene of citizens and suggests creation of a Water Regulatory Authority in each state to lay down tariffs.
The new policy says heavy underpricing of electricity leads to wasteful
use of both power and water. Unlike the last policy of 2002 that made no mention of the rural-urban
disparity in water supply, the new policy attempts to bring equality on the issue.