Summary

Editorial

Indore was declared India’s cleanest city

Context:Indore was declared India’s cleanest city. It beat 433 other cities in a survey conducted by the Centre.Which ranked them on various sanitation and cleanliness parameters, including waste collection, open defecation free (ODF) status and feedback from citizens. The survey is part of the government’s initiative towards a cleaner India. Its focus on sanitation, open defecation and waste collection is significant, considering their impact on the environment, and on the health of city dwellers.Swachh Bharat MissionThe Swachh Bharat Mission plans to achieve safe sanitation for all by 2019.The government has a clearly-defined progress path for achieving open defecation free cities and districts/villages.There is also a well-defined process, for the different phases of the mission, across the sanitation value chain — build, use, maintain and treat (BUMT).What are the Challenges of disposing fecal wasteNationally, we generate a staggering 1.7 million tonnes of fecal waste every day.There are no systems in place to safely dispose the bulk of this waste.Nearly 80 per cent of this sludge remains untreated and is dumped into drains, lakes or rivers, posing a serious threat to safe and healthy living.This poses grievous dangers of infection since the untreated sludge comes back into human contact through either the soil, or through untreated water contaminated with the bacteria and pathogen load of the dumped sludge.We lose nearly 1,000 children a day to poor sanitation. Fecal Sludge ManagementFSM is successfully adopted by several countries in south-east Asia.FSM involves collecting, transporting and treating fecal sludge and septage from pit latrines, septic tanks or other onsite sanitation systems.This waste is then treated at septage treatment plants.It is a cost and time effective system.The waste is collected by private operators, who empty the sludge using vacu-trucks.Now these truck operators can be monitored through a simple GPS tracking process in order to ensure that they dump the waste at treatment plants/pre-determined sites.The FSM ecosystem requires its stakeholders- government, private vacu-truck operators and citizens- to collaborate closely. What are the Advantages of FSMThe most significant benefit that improved sanitation is improved public health.Cleaner water bodies mean reduced incidence of water-borne diseases and reduced mortality linked to diarrhoeal diseases — especially among children less than five years old.There is a huge potential in the FSM system businesses for sanitation workers.The sludge is nutrient-rich. The waste can be used after treatment in following waysUsed by farmers as organic compost,treated and used for biogas, or to manufacture fuel pellets or ethanol, used for irrigation, used for construction, used in cooling plants, used by housing societies for gardens and flushing, used by government agencies for parks.With appropriate training, sanitation workers can be empowered to own and run FSM businesses — much like the producer cooperatives of the agriculture sector. The way ForwardEffective sanitation measures like FSM are critical in saving these lives.A national policy is in place; it is now incumbent on cities and state governments to operationalise it.FSM is not only an engineering or infrastructure solution, but a city system that requires the resolve of each stakeholder to make the city fecal sludge free, and meet the objective of clean cities, as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Mission.

How Chakmas and Hajongs settled in North East, why Arunachal worries about citizenship

Context:Adhering to the Supreme Court verdict, the Centre on Wednesday decided to grant citizenship to all Chakma and Hajong refugees living in the Northeast for the past five decades.Introduction:Arunachal Pradesh witnessed widespread protests against the Centre’s decision to grant citizenship. Several organisations and civil society in Arunachal Pradesh have been opposing citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees saying it would change the demography of the State.A Rajya Sabha committee led by Sushma Swaraj in 1997 first recommended that these refugees from Bangladesh be granted Indian citizenship.Who are the Chakmas and Hajongs?They were originally inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who were forced out of that country.They were displaced from their original homesteads because of the Kaptai hydroelectric dam on the Karnaphuli river in the early 1960s, and there was no rehabilitation and compensation.Later, they became victims of religious persecution in East Pakistan, and fled to India.While the Chakmas are Buddhists, the Hajongs are Hindus.Why were they sent to Arunachal Pradesh?They had initially crossed over to the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram). But fearing trouble between the Mizos and the Chakmas, the Assam government sent them to the Tirap division of North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, present-day Arunachal Pradesh).Have they remained refugees?Although all of them were treated as refugees originally, the Government of India decided to grant them citizenship under Section 5(i)(a) of the Citizenship Act  in 1972.Arunachal Pradesh, which came into being the same year as a Union Territory, immediately opposed this and said that it could not permit “outsiders” to settle on its territory because that would adversely affect its demography and limited resources. Why didn’t NEFA oppose it in the beginning?When the birth of Arunachal Pradesh coincided with the joint statement of the PMs of India and Bangladesh, political parties emerging in the new state immediately identified it as a potential threat to their demography.By the time Arunachal Pradesh attained full statehood in 1987, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) had already built a strong movement against settling Chakmas and Hajongs there.What are their numbers now?Only about 5,000 of the original 14,888 who were sent to the then NEFA are alive today.A white paper published by the state government in1996 said their numbers had increased more than 300% from the original 14,888 persons settled in 1964-69 to over 60,000 in 1995.According to the Supreme Court, all those born in India could invoke Section 5(i)(a) and apply for citizenship. So far, about 5,000 people have applied, but they are yet to be granted citizenship.In 2005, the Election Commission issued general guidelines to include the Chakmas and Hajongs in the state’s electoral rolls. Though the AAPSU contested this, Gauhati High Court dismissed its plea in March 2013.The names of about 3,200 Chakmas currently appear in Arunachal’s electoral rolls.How do they sustain themselves?Though refugees, each of the 2,748 families was allotted five acres of land in Changlang district in eastern Arunachal Pradesh which they continue to use for cultivation.The younger generation has moved out for education and jobs, but face problems because of lack of citizenship status.The state government provides them basic amenities such as education, healthcare, sanitation and rations.What about other political parties in Arunachal Pradesh?All parties in the state are unanimous in the view that granting citizenship to the Chakmas would seriously affect the demographic structure of the state where most of the tribes are less in number in comparison to the growing Chakma population.Political parties said granting citizenship would contravene various laws such as the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, Scheduled District Act, 1874, Assam Frontier Tract Regulation, 1880, Assam Frontier Forest Regulation, 1891, Chin Hills Regulations, 1896, and Assam Frontier (Administration & Justice) Regulation, 1945 (1 of 1945).What is the AAPSU’s current stance?Recently, the AAPSU said granting citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees in Arunachal Pradesh would not only grant them political rights, but also have far-reaching ramifications to the state’s social fabric.It would dilute the constitutional safeguards for the indigenous communities, pose a threat to their identity and culture, and flare up social unrest unless the rights of the indigenous people are adequately protected and safeguarded.

Do we really need interlinking of rivers?

Context:The river interlinking project will adversely affect land, forests, biodiversity, rivers and the livelihood of millions of people. What is the National River Linking Project (NRLP)?The National River Linking Project (NRLP)is a proposed large-scale project that aims to link Indian rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals. It aims at reducing persistent floods in Eastern India and water shortages in Southern and Western India. The project is being managed by India’s National Water Development Agency (NWDA), under its Ministry of Water ResourcesHistorical BackgroundSir Arthur Cotton’s Navigational Plan in 1858. K.L. Rao’s proposal for Ganga-Cauvery Link and National water Grid proposal (1972). Dastur’s Garland Canal Proposal (1978)Rao and Dastur’s proposal were not found techno-economically feasible. National Perspective Plan- 1980- Ministry of Water Resources. This later came to be known as the national River Linking Project (NRLP)In October 2002, the Supreme Court ordered the Central Government to initiate work on inter-linking the major rivers of the country.A task force was appointed and a deadline of 2016 was set to complete the entire project that would link 37 rivers.In Feb 2012, the Supreme Court ordered the constitution of a “Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers” headed by the Minister of Water Resources. What is the scope of NRLP?The National River Interlinking Project will comprise of 30 links to connect 37 rivers across the nation through a network of nearly 3000 storage dams.It has two major components: Himalayan Component and Peninsular Component.The NRLP has three major donor river basins: the Brahmaputra in the Himalayan component, and the Mahanadi and the Godavari in the peninsular component.The Himalayan component proposes to transfer 33 BCM of water through 16 river links.Linkings projects:1Ganga and Brahmaputra basins to Mahanadi basin and 2Eastern Ganga tributaries and Chambal and Sabarmati river basins 3.The Peninsular component proposes to transfer 141 BCM water through 14 river linksLinkings projects:1Mahanadi and Godavari basins to Krishna, Cauvery and Vaigai rivers2West-flowing rivers south of Tapi to the north of Bombay3Ken River to Betwa River and Parbati, Kalisindh rivers to Chambal rivers4Some West flowing rivers to the East flowing riversWhat is the current status?Godavari River had been formally interlinked with the Krishna River at Ibrahimpatnam near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh in September 2015.Ken-Betwa link project has been declared as National Project by the Government of India- the Ken-Betwa link envisages diversion of surplus waters of Ken basin to water deficit Betwa basin.What is the need of interlinking?The rainfall is highly variable across India- the east and north get most of the rain, while the west and south get less. India also sees years of excess monsoons and floods, followed by late monsoons with droughts.This geographical and time variance in the availability of natural water versus the year round demand for irrigation, drinking and industrial water creates a demand-supply gap.Proponents of river-linking project claims that India’s water problem can be solved by conserving monsoon water in reservoirs and delivering this water to water-scarce regions using rivers interlinking projects.How river interlinking projects going to benefit?Transport:The project is expected to offer potential benefits to the transport sector through navigation.River transports is cheaper.It is a non-polluting transport alternative-It has a low carbon footprint.The proposed grid is expected to ease pressure on railways and roads by introducing inland navigation.It will serve India’s need of infrastructure for logistics and movement of freight, particularly for ores and food grains.Irrigation Benefits:The project is expected to provide additional irrigation to 35 million hectares in the water-scarce western and peninsular regions.This will further create employment, boost crop outputs and farm incomes.The benefits would get multiplied through backward (farm equipment and input supplies) and forward linkages (agro-processing industries)The irrigation benefits would also ensure food security in the country.Hydropower DevelopmentThe river interlinking project claims to generate total power of 34,000 MW (34 GW)Water SupplyThe project envisages supply of clean drinking water and water for industrial use amounting to 90 and 64.8 billion cum. respectively with a view to meet the demand by 2050.Flood and Drought MitigationThe project is expected to eradicate the flooding problems which recur in the northeast and the north every year.It is also expected to mitigate drought conditions in rainfall deficit areas.Dry Weather Flow AugmentationTransfer of surplus water stored in reservoirs during monsoon and releasing it during dry season will ensure a minimum amount of dry weather flow in the rivers.This would help in pollution control, navigation, fisheries, growth of forests, protection of wild life etc.Increased Employment opportunities in rural areasThe proposed link canals and the storages are expected to create large employment opportunities for the rural youths.DefenseThe Project is expected to provide for enhancing the security of the country by an additional waterline of defense.What are the negative Impact of interlinking of rivers in India?Environmental Impacts:Environmental DegradationClimate Change:  if the glaciers don’t sustain their glacier mass due to climate change, the very concept that the donor basin (mostly Himalayan rivers) has surplus water that can be made available for the recipient basin, will change.Loss of aquatic ecosystem.Water logging and salinity.Submergence of vast areas of land in reservoirs: linking of the Ken and Betwa rivers at the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh is expected to submerge an important wildlife habitat which is home to many endangered species.Threat to Himalayan Forest: the Ganga basin’s topography is flat, building dams would not substantially add to river flows and these dams could threaten the forests of the Himalayas. This may impact the functioning of the monsoon system.Destruction f groundwater recharge mechanism.Loss of livelihood and displacement of people:Loss of land, forests and fisheries on which most of the poor and tribal people sustain their livelihood.Massive displacement of people : psychological damage due to forced resettlement.Rehabilitation of the affected people is a major challenge for the projectGeopolitical Constraints:Some of the inter-linking of rivers schemes has international implications, with a possible impact on countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.Bangaladesh strongly objects to transferring the Brahmaputra water to the Ganga.Water transfer in the Himalayan component needs to consider the effects on the neighbouring countriesMassive investment required for implementation.The estimated cost for the implementation of the project at 2000 price index is Rs.5.6 lakh crores, which is likely to further increase manifold.Inter-state disputesIn India‘s constitution, water is essentially a state subject.Several states including Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Sikkim have already opposed ILR projects.There has been dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of water from rivers Cauvery and KrishnaFlood Control- an attempt to fool people?It is doubtful whether interlinking projects can provide flood proofing. Theoretically, a large reservoir can help moderate floods in the downstream areas.However, in case of India experiences have been different.Big dams such as the Ranganadi dam, the Damodar dams, the Farakka and Bansagar dams, and the Hirakud dam have brought avoidable flood disasters to Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha, respectively.Non-viability of large hydropower projects:Interlinking of rivers will need more power to lift the water than what it is likely to produce.Can there be alternatives to interlinking?By proper management of existing water systems in an efficient manner and by saving rain water, one can irrigate the land.For irrigation purposes, sprinklers and other water saving mechanisms can be put in place.Instead of interlinking of rivers, virtual water can be used. For Example: Suppose when a country imports one tonne of wheat instead of producing it domestically, it is saving about 1,300 cubic meters of the local water. The local water can be saved and used for other purposes.Instead of merging rivers, investing money and degrading the environment food grains can be transported to the needy areas.Conclusion:The river linking project promises a great concern for water conservation and optimum use of available water resources.However, the project has socio-economic, political and environmental implications.There is an urgent need to examine the feasibility of inter-river links. A detailed hydrological, geological, meteorological and environmental analysis of the project should be doneA detailed analysis is also required to include possible alternatives to the project.

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