Environmental Impact on Waters of Bharat


The Coastline at Jagannatha Puri

Jul 30, CANADA (SUN) — Water pollution and receding shorelines significantly impact Mother India.

Unnatural Sea Waves Concern Puri Environmentalists

"Waves crashing against the shore is nothing new for inhabitants of two of Orissa's seaside tourist resorts -- Puri and Gopalpur. But what they have been witnessing for the last few months has come as a shock. "The sea has been behaving in an unnatural manner with high waves lashing against the coast and damaging structures. It seems the sea is inching inside", said Jagannath Bastia, an environmental activist, who is a resident of the pilgrim town since long.

While the sea waves have washed away nearly 500 metres of a newly constructed road on the outskirts of Puri, several walls of hotels and a light house at Gopalpur, down south in Ganjam district, have collapsed under the pounding of the sea. "I have been observing this phenomenon since August last year, but no action has been initiated about it", Bastia, who is president of the beach protection council of Orissa, told PTI's reporter, P.K. Das in Bhubaneswar."

There have been reports about the Bay of Bengal eroding the coast in the Satbhaya area of Kendrapara district and swallowing up at least five of the seven coastal villages in a cluster over the last few years.

However, this was something new in towns like Puri and Gopalpur, where the administration was monitoring the situation with concern.

"We are watching the situation and a senior scientist of the environment department would be studying the matter before any step is taken in this regard", director of the state's environment department," B.K.Patnaik said."

The Ganga-Yamuna Confluence
[Photo by Jean-Pierre Verbeke

Ganga Gobble-up

TNN reports that the Ganga River has now gobbled up an entire village in Manikchak and is threatening to do the same to seven more in the area, putting more than 5,000 people at risk.

"The villagers said the river has veered at least 500m from its original course. Eight shops and 35 houses, including pucca structures, in Jotpatta village have disappeared into the swirling waters in the past 24 hours, a source in the district administration said. The other houses have suffered damages.

The village, 30km from here, is home to 250 families, who have taken shelter in a mango orchard, around 1km from the river. A district irrigation department official said the water level of the Ganga is still rising and a “yellow” alert has been sounded in the area. The Farakka barrage authorities have started strengthening the embankment using boulders and bamboo.

Near Jotpatta this morning, people were seen huddled in the orchard, clutching their belongings.

“Around 1 this afternoon we heard the sound of huge chunks of earth tumbling into the river. We immediately made off for safer places. As there is no proper road here, transporting our belongings was very difficult,” said Gita Mondal, a villager.

Manikchak gram panchayat pradhan Krishna Mondal alleged that the district administration had taken no steps to strengthen the embankment despite being warned about the impending danger. “A 5km stretch of the riverbank has been eroding since last night,” he said.

Barrage authorities blamed lack of funds for the delay in repairing the embankment.

Villagers confronted block development officer Sandip Nag when he visited Jotpatta today. Nag said relief would be dispatched to the area soon.

Manikchak is around 25km upstream from Panchanandapur, which has borne the brunt of Ganga’s erosion in the past six-seven years.

The Yamuna

Green Experts Move to save Yamuna

In a further report from IANS correspondents: " It is the lifeline of Delhi that is getting choked due to over extraction of water and disposal of wastes. Now experts say the proposed Commonwealth Games Village on the Yamuna's floodplains might be the last nail in its coffin. A mass movement - Jal Satyagraha - might be the only way to save the river.

"The problem of the Yamuna dying and the various construction activities on the river bed are further adding to the river's woes. It is an issue everyone should take up," said Manoj Misra of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan (Save the Yamuna), a campaign to save the river.

"Till now our voices have not been heard enough but now we plan to get the masses involved so that the issue gets highlighted," he said.

A group of environmentalists, civil society workers and concerned citizens are getting together to launch the Jal Satyagraha in August - the month when the country celebrates its 60th independence.

Campaigns, distribution of pamphlets and using different media to get the issue to the common man are part of the satyagraha's agenda.

In a meeting organised by the group and spearheaded by Misra at the Gandhi Peace Foundation here Monday, one of the main issues the group discussed was the site of the 2010 Commonwealth Games Village. It is proposed on the flood plain of the river near the Akshardham temple in East Delhi and has been criticised as being extremely harmful to the already vulnerable Yamuna.

"The floodplains of the river Yamuna lie on an earthquake fault line (zone 4). Hence any construction there will be vulnerable to earthquake. The floodplains are also a big water reservoir and very important for ground water recharge

"Hence any construction on the floodplain is very harmful," said Misra.

The group plans to submit an appeal to the prime minister with four important demands - change the site of the Games Village; stop all activity on the river bed till the concerned zonal plan (Zone 0 for Yamuna) is in place; an independent expert committee to review all structures on the river bed, and a national policy on rivers.

Misra said there should be an expert committee to look at the issue of saving the Yamuna, just like there was an independent expert committee to look at the issue of disappearing tigers.

The group has suggested that the Commonwealth Village site could be shifted to Dwarka in southwest Delhi. This, they said, would be close to the airport and also be well connected because of the Delhi Metro.

The group is also unhappy with Delhi Tourism's latest initiative, the Signature Bridge in Wazirabad, northeast Delhi. A mammoth project, the bridge is planned as an architectural marvel that will attract tourists.

"Instead of spending so much on the Signature Bridge, the government should first look at cleaning the river. How are tourists supposed to cross the bridge when it stinks so much?" asked Rajiv Kaul, one of the supporters of the campaign.

One of the holiest rivers in India - running 1,376 km from the Yamunotri glacier in the Himalayas to its confluence with the Gana in Allahabad - the Yamuna traverses 396 km before it reaches Delhi. But its 22 km stretch in Delhi has been identified as the most polluted river in India, and many experts call it the most threatened stretch of river in the world.

India's Central Pollution Control Board says there should be no more than 500 faecal coliform bacteria in 100 millilitres of water if it is to be considered fit for even bathing. The Yamuna carries 1.5 million faecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml of water as it passes through Delhi.


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