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‘Ganga basin temperatures to rise by 1-2°C by 2050’

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, June 17, 2012 | 5:22 AM

Eddy Moors, who heads the Earth System Sciences and Climate Change group at Alterra Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands, coordinated a study on the impact of climate change on the Ganga basin. During his recent visit to Delhi, Moors shared the findings of the study and adaptation measures with Indrajit Bose. Excerpts from the conversation On the state of Himalayan glaciers Glaciers in the eastern Himalaya, which are usually smaller and at lower altitudes, are shrinking. These are losing more ice than is being replaced by snowfall. Glaciers in the western Himalaya are at higher altitudes and growing. Their growth can be attributed largely to snow accumulation by strong and frequent westerly winds. However, the data coverage is low and no definitive number can be given for the growth or shrinkage of the glaciers. It has become increasingly important to monitor them. On water availability in Ganga basin While glaciers are melting, it is not clear whether meltwater runoff continues to increase. This is because water availability is also about when and how much snow falls and melts. In fact, changes in snowfall and melt impact water availability more than the changes in glacier melt. It is projected that as the total precipitation increases due to rising temperatures, snowfall in the Himalaya will decrease by about 30 per cent. In addition, spring melt will occur earlier. People living downstream, however, won’t be impacted as much by these changes as here monsoon rain is the dominant water source. Changes in the monsoon rain due to temperature rise will impact people. Our regional climate models show a clear trend of rising temperatures in the Ganga basin: 1-2°C by 2050. However, it is not easy to predict when and in which parts of the basin the precipitation changes will be severe because of the large natural variability in rainfall. It will increase in some parts and decrease in the others. More research is needed to reduce uncertainty. On ways to adapt to extreme events First, policies are required to increase the capacity of a society to adapt to both anticipated and unanticipated conditions. Any policy measure should factor in that natural variability exists and that it will increase. We are not capable of dealing with natural variability-led events at present, so it becomes important to take into account the future variability and adjust our behaviour accordingly. Consider agriculture. We have dry years and years with lot of rain. Chances are that this variability will increase and at the same time, because of increased population, the amount of water required will go up. Groundwater is a good buffer to overcome drought, but at the moment its levels are dropping. Recharging reservoirs is a good way to safeguard groundwater along with other measures to reduce consumption. No doubt, such measures must be coupled with better weather predictions on daily and seasonal scale, and communicating the predictions to farmers. Secondly, managing extreme events will get more complex if water resources are not managed in an integrated way, from catchment to supply to consumption. At present, adaptation measures are planned at national and state levels, whereas it is best done at river basin scale. On difference between climate change and weather variability Models show extreme events that happened once in 20 years will happen once every two years in future. In a model, including natural variability and anthropogenic influences, one can reproduce historic data. If you take out anthropogenic influences from the model, the results show natural variability would have led to lower temperature and changes in rainfall. Of course, uncertainty remains. Present-day extreme events can be seen as proxies of what may be expected more frequently in future. Interviewee: Eddy Moors Tags: Interview, Climate Adaptation, Climate change, Climate Impacts, Climate Science, Extreme Weather Events, Ganga, Glacial Melt, Global warming, Himalaya, India, Monsoons, River Basin, Water Management http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/ganga-basin-temperatures-rise-1-2oc-2050 Indo Tibetan Border Police campaign for a clean Ganga KOLKATA: A team from the Indo Tibetan Border Police is trying to achieve in 58 days what two editions of the ambitious Ganga Action Plan have failed in 26 years. Christened 'Ganga Punardarshan', the river rafting expedition from Gomukh in the Himalayas to Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal is an awareness campaign on the need to clean the river and save its ecosystem. Ironically Ganga, considered the holiest river by crores of Hindus, is also one of the most polluted rivers in the world, carrying billions of tonne of industrial and municipal waste. The 21-member team reached the city on Thursday and was flagged off by Governor M K Narayanan on Friday as they set out for the final stretch to Gangasagar. The expedition had begun on April 24 and will conclude on June 20, traversing 2,525km as the river meanders through Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The team rafts during the day and rests at night in villages or towns. Beyond awareness, the expedition is also attempting to map the pollution level in the river and is collecting samples of the water every 50km. The samples will be analysed in a laboratory. The samples and the report will then be displayed at environment awareness programmes that are subsequently held in various cities along the banks of the river. The experienced rafters braved icy-cold winds in the upper reaches of the river and scorching heat in the plains as the river flowed through the northern heartland before reaching the hot and sultry climes in Kolkata. "Such an expedition has never been done before. As we travelled down the river, the water quality progressively deteriorated. The river water turned extremely murky in UP and then got worse as it flowed downstream," said ITBP deputy inspector general S S Mishra, who is leading the expedition. The aim of the expedition is to create awareness about water pollution in the rivers of India and also preservation of flora and fauna in Ganga. "The amount of waste dumped in the river is unimaginable. Apart from industrial waste, municipal waste and religious waste, disposal of hundreds of dead bodies in the river was the most shocking," said 26-year-old Bimal Biswas, a team member. "Pollution in Ganga river is the most pressing issue at present and ITBP's initiative of revisiting Ganga is both unique and challenging. I am happy that they have reached this far successfully," Narayanan said. On May 19 this year, a team of ITBP personnel had also scaled Mt Everest as part of the golden jubilee celebration. Rupali Shukla http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-16/kolkata/32268245_1_rafting-river-water-ganga-action-plan Glue units polluting Ganga in Jajmau KANPUR: When the law enforcement agencies are making efforts to make the national river clean and free from pollution, several glue factories in Jajmau routinely discharge toxic water into the open drains flowing through congested localities and falling into the Ganga. The polluted water, containing chromium and other poisonous chemicals, even spills on to the roads and causes a foul smell in a vast stretch of nearly 5km. Many glue units dotting the river, which were sealed by the Pollution Control Board a few years back, are now functioning and discharging effluents directly into the Ganga. A survey revealed that glue workers boil hide and slush for procuring adhesive, manure and chicken feed etc and pose a major environmental as well as health hazard. About a dozen factories dot the road which connects water treatment plant at Wajidpur. As one moves ahead of the water treatment plant, the stench emanating from the glue units gets stronger. A view of the open drains containing toxic effluents is enough to tell the real story.The water released in the drains is black, laden with effluents and falls into the Ganga untreated, claimed an NGO. Experts say that that the affluents carry chromium well above the permissible limit. "Untreated effluents can't be released directly into the drains. Our findings reveal that chromium and hazardous waste flows through the drains. We are planning to take it up with the district authorities and the state pollution control board," said Ramji Tripathi, convener of Ganga Pradushan Mukti Abhiyan. The residents of the area have demanded shifting of glue units from the present site as the poisonous effluents have made their lives miserable. The people said the glue units were emitting foul smell and effluents coming from it have rendered the area a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies, which may cause epidemic.A meat shop owner said the polluted water discharged from the units had affected the groundwater used for drinking purposes and other household works. "We are not aware of the toxicity of the water, but the stench is unbearable. At times, we have breathing problems and it only indicates that this is a serious health hazard. The smoke emanating from chimneys of the glue units indicates the presence of chemicals and often we also have burning sensation in our eyes," said Anees, a shopkeeper. Few of the glue units close to the banks of the Ganga are directly discharging effluents into the river. "We have been allowed by the police to operate and we do comply with all the norms," said an owner of a glue factory.Municipal commissioner N K S Chauhan said that those flouting the norms would be penalized. A special team would be formed to check it. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-15/pollution/32253773_1_effluents-glue-polluted-water ‘Power through windmills more suited for Uttarakhand’ VARANASI: When the saints and devotees of Ganga have launched a crusade for uninterrupted flow of Ganga, demanding immediate stopping of hydroelectric projects (HEPs) in Uttarakhand, the supporters HEPs are also raising voice citing development based on these projects. Hundreds of Ganga warriors left for New Delhi from Varanasi on Thursday. More groups would go to Delhi from different parts of the country to hold a rally at Jantar Mantar on June 18 in support of their demands. At the same time the supporters of hydropower projects will also assemble in New Delhi on June 17. "It is not a good sign. Opposition or support is not the solution of a problem that could be solved scientifically. I am not in favour of damming the river for electricity generation, but being a scientist I would suggest scientific alternative instead of opting for a warpath," said Prof BD Tripathi, noted environmental scientist at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and expert member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). "The high wind speed in the Uttarakhand due to low-pressure belt creates suitable environment for the production of electricity through windmills. The use of windmills may mitigate the negative impact of the anthropogenic activities in these areas," Tripathi said while talking TOI. According to him, promotion of windmills for generation of electricity in Uttarakhand in place of hydropower projects, which require huge land area and water, shall help in maintenance of the ecological flow of Ganga, which is currently a burning issue and the main objective of NGRBA. "I have also written to the Prime Minister, who is the chairperson of NGRBA, and the chief minister of Uttarakhand, suggesting promotion of windmills," he said. It may be mentioned here that June 15 is celebrated worldwide as Global Wind Day. It is a day for discovering wind, its power and the possibilities it holds to change the world. In more than 75 countries around the world, wind farms are in operation, generating energy from a clean and renewable source. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) coordinate the Global Wind Day through a network of partners. Coincidentally, the 'Rio Earth Summit' is also going to be held from June 20 to 22 and the world leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will converge in Brazil. The gathering is being billed as a landmark event for the planet's future and the theme of the conference is 'building the global green economy'. "We need energy for development but it should not be at the cost of environment," said Tripathi, who was recently on a 17-day intensive Ganga Yatra in Uttarakhand on a field-based ecological study in May. During his yatra, he visited Ganga, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Pindar, Dhauli Ganga, Nandakani, Sone Ganga, Yamuna and other places. He also visited different dams and hydroelectric projects to study anthropogenic activities and impact on Ganga. The main objective of his study was to identify anthropogenically induced ecological problems of Ganga in Uttarakhand and suggest remedial measures to overcome the problems of the river and its important head streams. "A large number of hydroelectric power projects have been commissioned and proposed on Ganga and Alaknanda. These power projects are not only causing submersion of large land area, which results in loss of flora and fauna, but also altering natural rhythm of nature, sediment and nutrient regimes, temperature, chemical qualities of water, fresh water biodiversity and reproductive capabilities of aquatic animals. This also creates high hydraulic pressure at a given point of earth, which may stimulate earthquake and landslides," observed Tripathi. According to him, construction of dams causes huge destruction of mountain ecosystem including reduction in the natural flow and dilution capacity of the river resulting enhancement of the pollution. Natural flow of majority of rivers has been obstructed and at many places main paths of these rivers have been diverted through the tunnels due to which the river had dried in long stretches. The diversion of rivers had also created various socio-economic and religious problems to the local inhabitants. Their local resource based livelihood (such as agriculture, domestication of animals and religious activities) suffer significantly, enhancing unemployment and poverty. "In such a situation, it would be wise to encourage wind energy, instead of ravaging the nature. The tunnel technology applied in power generation is spoiling the basic use of river," said Tripathi, adding that Uttrakhand had great potential of wind energy and there was no risk involved in it. However, the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA) is in progress of installing a 2.4 mw Grid Interactive Wind Power Generation Project at Bacheli Khal in Tehri Garhwal. It will be the first wind power generation project of Uttarakhand. According to the report of the Centre for Wind Energy Technology, an autonomous research and development institution under the ministry of New and Renewable Energy, growing concern for the environmental degradation has led to the world's interest in renewable energy resources. Wind is commercially and operationally the most viable renewable energy resource and accordingly, emerging as one of the largest source in terms of renewable energy sector. According to another report of Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), India had a record year for new wind energy installations in 2010, with 2,139 mw of new capacity added to reach a total of 13,065 mw at the end of the year. Renewable energy is now 10.9% of installed capacity, contributing about 4.13% to the electricity generation mix and wind power accounts for 70% of this installed capacity. The states with highest wind power concentration are Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-16/varanasi/32268753_1_uttarakhand-windmills-ngrba Power-less lives blamed on sadhus New Delhi, June 16: Surtama, a 37-year-old woman from the mountains of Uttarkashi, was in the capital yesterday to express anger at having to live with no electricity and demand a revival of stalled hydroelectric projects in her state. “We walk more than 2km to a village in Himachal Pradesh to charge the mobile phone battery,” said Surtama from Pujeli, a village of about 80 households some of which have acquired mobile phones to talk with relatives in distant cities. Surtama is among members of hill communities in Uttarakhand now campaigning for the revival of hydroelectric projects in the state that they believe have been stalled by the Union and state government under pressure from sadhus. The Centre and Uttarakhand governments have abandoned hydro projects at Vishnugad, Peepal-Koti, Himjyoti, Palamaneri and Bhaironghati said Avdhash Kaushal, chairperson of the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), a non-government organisation in Dehradun. Just three of the stalled projects, he said, would have generated 1,000MW electricity, much of it reserved for the state. “The sadhus have made this misleading claim that the hydroelectric projects would destroy the Ganga — this is utter rubbish,” Kaushal said yesterday at a media conference here, also addressed by several women from some of Uttarakhand’s 1,220 villages which still do not have electricity. Leelavati, a 50-year-old woman from a village named Bheetri, recalled how her daughter-in-law from Himachal Pradesh went back to her parents after she discovered her husband’s home had no electricity. “She didn’t want to spend the nights in complete darkness — as we have to do,” she said. Despite the absence of electricity, some households like that of Surtama, have acquired mobile phones to talk with children working in towns or cities. “There’s a mobile tower in Himachal Pradesh that brings connectivity, but there is no electricity to charge batteries,” said Arvind Sharma who works with the RLEK. Kaushal said the Centre and the state government have buckled under “political and religious pressure” after spending large amounts of money on projects that would have helped accelerate the state’s economic development. Uttarakhand spends about Rs 750 crore each year to purchase electricity and, Kaushal said, the state has spent Rs 80 crore on the Palamaneri, Rs 120 crore on the Baironghati, and Rs 1,200 crore on the Lohari Nagpala hydroelectric projects. The RLEK has claimed that “vested interest groups” are now propagating various alternative schemes — from thermal power to solar energy — to the hydro projects. “We don’t believe solar energy is a practical option for the hill areas where it rains more than three to four months of the year,” Kaushal said. “And coal is a highly polluting fuel — such alternatives will not be able to meet the electricity demand.” The energy consumption of Uttarakhand — a per capita power consumption of 654kWh, in contrast to Delhi’s 1,766kWh, and a global average of 2,752kWh — reflects the paucity of electricity in the state. The RLEK has said several thousands of workers have also lost jobs after the projects were stopped. The shortage of electricity is likely to affect the industrial production in the state, the organisation has predicted. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120617/jsp/nation/story_15620906.jsp#.T93JAVIxolg Badrinath seer to hold meeting in Delhi on June 18 on Ganga PTI 12,2012 Haridwar, Jun 12 (PTI) Seers from across the country are expected to attend a public meeting in New Delhi on June 18 on the issue of conservation the of river Ganga and maintaining the uninterrupted flow of its water, Badrinathpeeth Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand said today. The meeting would be held at Jantar Mantar in Delhi under the banner of Ganga Mukti Sangram after performing "Jalabhishek" at Rajghat on June 18, Shankaracharya told reporters here. Calling for setting up a separate ministry under the Prime Minister for the conservation of Ganga, Shankaracharya said there should be a round-the-clock monitoring system in place for the national river. He said he has also sent a six-point charter of demands to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi over the issue. Besides, he said, he has also launched consultations with top seers of the country on the issue. Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamkotipeeth Jayendra Saraswati had also met Swami Swaroopanand in his ashram here yesterday. Ganga 2 Last Asked about Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna's Asked about Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna's request to saints not to press for stopping construction of hydel projects on Ganga, Swami Swaroopanand said he would not change his stand on the issue as the conservation of Ganga and uninterrupted flow of its water can never be compromised. Earlier, talking to reporters separately, Jayendra Saraswati also announced his full support to the mission of Swami Swaroopanand for the conservation of Ganga. "My full support is with Swami Swaroopanand," Jayendra Saraswati said. He said though he would not be able to make it to Jantar Mantar on June 18 due to preoccupations, his full support is with the demands of Swaroopanand Saraswati. Jayendra Saraswati said construction of hydel projects on river Ganga should be stopped completely and instead sea water should be used for power generation. Kanchi Shankaracharya also lauded the efforts of yoga Ramdev for creating awareness for bringing back black money stashed abroad. Jun 12,2012 PTI http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/ganga-2-last/1010805.html So much concern, yet so little result VARANASI: The festival of Ganga Dussehra was celebrated with religious fervour on Wednesday to mark the appearance of the heavenly river on the Earth. Though it was a joyous occasion, it failed to shroud the agony of a mighty river that gave life to millions of humans as well as other living beings. The life-giving river has been ravaged due to the greed of its own people, who call it Mother Ganga. Today Ganga is in utter pain due to blockages on its stream and increasing pollution load. Surprisingly, all the politicians of ruling and opposition parties, saints and seers, social activists, scientists and individuals speak about uninterrupted and clean flow of the Ganga, but the river is getting thinner and more polluted with each passing day. The question is "why is the holy river ailing when everybody is eager to see it healthy?" However, this question remains unanswered. "The issues of the Ganga are not simple. They require a broad and scientific study to assess and address the problems of the Ganga," said Murli Manohar Joshi, senior BJP leader, MP from Varanasi and chairperson of the Public Account Committee. "For the uninterrupted flow of the Ganga, minimum flow of water is essential," he said and added some of the dams on the Ganga should be scrapped for uninterrupted flow of the river. "The issue of the Ganga is a national question, it should be kept above politics," he said. Putting a question mark on the dams on the Ganga, noted environmental scientist Prof BD Tripathi of Banaras Hindu University, who is also the expert member of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), says: "Construction of dams causes huge destruction of mountain ecosystem including reduction in the natural flow and dilution capacity of the river resulting enhancement of the pollution level." Tripathi was recently on a 17-day scientific Ganga Yatra in Uttarakhand for field-based ecological studies. During his journey, he tracked the Ganga, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Pindar, Dhauli Ganga, Nandakani, Sone Ganga and river Yamuna. He also visited Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, Kedar Nath, Deoprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnprayag, Nandprayag, Vishnuprayag, Soneprayag, different dams and hydroelectric power projects to study different anthropogenic activities and their impact on the Ganga. According to Tripathi, hydroelectric power projects are causing submersion of large land area, which results in loss of flora and fauna. These projects are altering natural rhythm of nature, sediment and nutrient regimes, temperature and chemical qualities of water, fresh water biodiversity and reproductive capabilities of aquatic animals. This also creates high hydraulic pressure at a given point of earth, which may stimulate earth quake and landslides. "In Uttarakhand, natural flow of majority of rivers has been obstructed by a series of hydroelectric power projects. At many places main path of these rivers have been diverted through the tunnels," he said adding that a number hydroelectric power projects had been commissioned and proposed on the Ganga and Alaknanda. On the Ganga, as many as 16 hydroelectric projects have been commissioned, 13 projects are under construction and 54 projects have been proposed while on Alaknanda, six hydroelectric projects have been commissioned, eight projects are under construction and 24 projects have been proposed. According to him, the Tehari Dam has been constructed among the hills made up by the soil. This results in loss of 25-30% water of the reservoir through seepage and induces severe threat to the hills in the vicinity. The blasting activities in these hilly areas are causing huge cracks in the hills, loss of biodiversity, seepage of water and increased soil erosion responsible for siltation in the rivers. "One of the main objectives of the NGRBA is to maintain minimum ecological flows of the river ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development," said Tripathi adding that reduction in open pathway of the river and passing it through tunnels could have adverse ecological impacts. According to him, the self regulatory mechanism of the river will be lost, dissolved oxygen (DO) content of water may be reduced leading loss of aquatic lives, management of river ecosystem through decomposition of the materials, pollutants and bio-geo-chemical cycles by micro and macro organisms will be affected, species composition and bio-diversity of the area may be changed due to changes in humidity and temperature pattern of the surrounding environment. Besides, pathogenic microbes may increase under anaerobic tunnel environment, quality of the Ganga water famous for its purifying capacity of human body and soul and ecological system of the river may be changed. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-05-30/varanasi/31899169_1_ganga-dussehra-ganga-yatra-mother-ganga Ganga hydro projects may be asked to reduce their power generation All hydroelectric projects on the Ganga could be asked to reduce their power generation — possibly up to 50 per cent of capacity — in an effort to provide a clean and continuous flow of the river's water, if a proposal by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan is found to be legally viable. “We cannot shut down existing projects, but we are exploring the legality of reducing the capacity of operational hydroelectric plants,” she told The Hindu on Tuesday. “A clean Ganga is my top priority at present… we need to get extremely proactive.” If the proposal, which Ms. Natarajan plans to take to the Prime Minister, is implemented, the power generation of 17 operational projects could be affected. Apart from these, 14 projects are currently under construction, while 39 more are in the pipeline. State governments and industry players, already facing power shortages, are likely to vociferously protest any such move, but the Union Environment Ministry is scanning the Environment Protection Act (EPA), to find a way to overrule states in the interests of a free-flowing river. “We are seeing if a way can be found under the EPA to impose conditions post-facto [on these projects], given that the Ganga is national river, and free flow is an environmental issue,” said Ms. Natarajan. She has already put an effective moratorium on fresh environment clearances for any new hydroelectric projects on the river, in the wake of an increasingly strident campaign for “nirmal dhara” and “aviral dhara” (clean and free flow) by environmental activists and Hindu religious leaders. Last month, activists stepped up their demands through indefinite fasts and resignation threats of three members of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). With complaints that the NGRBA is helpless, despite being headed by the Prime Minister, Ms. Natarajan also gave a proposal to set up a new Ganga Commission, which could effectively monitor activities on the ground. “It would be like a beefed-up CPCB [Central Pollution Control Board] exclusively for the 40-odd Ganga districts,” she said. Meanwhile, CPCB has been told to provide zero-discharge of industrial effluents into the river by October this year. However, the Environment Minister was quick to point out that massive hydro projects and polluting industries aren't the only culprits. “Vast amounts of water get diverted for agriculture through irrigation canals, but no one talks of that when they talk of the free flow of the river,” she pointed out. “In terms of pollution, 75 per cent of the effluents are domestic, rather than industrial. We have funded sewerage treatment plants, but unless local governments use them and set up sewerage networks, that will be of little use.” http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/article3474067.ece
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