State-run hydro power giant NHPC is likely to begin construction of the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri power plant in October this year as it has received the requisite approval from the Assam government, an official said.
NHPC had inked a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Arunachal Pradesh for setting up the project in 2010. However, since the project falls in the territories of both Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the latter’s approval was needed as well.
“NHPC inked MoA with Assam on August 23, 2019 for Lower Subansiri project. As you know, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had given go-ahead to the project on July 31, 2019, and NHPC is expected to begin construction of the plant immediately after monsoon season is over by October this year,” the official said.
Developers of power projects are required to sign MoAs with the respective states for setting up plants in their territories.
The Lower Subansiri project has been stuck for the past eight years due to various issues. The run-of-the-river project on the Subansiri, a tributary of the Brahmaputra river, is mostly situated in Arunachal Pradesh. However, some parts of the submergence area fall in Assam.
Work on the project is expected to be completed in three-and-a-half years with a total expenditure of Rs 20,000 crore (on completion).
The official said to allay safety fears, the dam has been designed and strengthened to withstand seismic activity up to a magnitude of 8 on the Richter scale, which makes it one of the strongest dams in India.
Work on the Subansiri project was started in 2006, but it came to a halt in 2011 due to various issues.
In 2013, the NGT stayed any further work on the project. Thereafter, the project was examined from every angle, be it safety or environmental issues, by national and international experts.
Finally, the project got clearance from all the agencies, including the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Recently, the NGT also gave its nod for the construction of the project.
The project is located near North Lakhimpur on the border of Aruncachal Pradesh and Assam. The estimated annual energy generation from the project is 7,421 million units in a 90 per cent dependable year.
The project is located near North Lakhimpur on the border of Aruncachal Pradesh and Assam. The estimated annual energy generation from the project is 7,421 million units in a 90 per cent dependable year.
Hydro power is among the cleanest sources of green power. It is essential for meeting climate commitments and ensuring grid stability in view of anticipated large scale integration of infirm ..
integration of infirm renewable energy from sources like solar/wind.
The hydropower sector has been going through a challenging phase. The share of hydropower in the total capacity has declined from 50.36 per cent in the 1960s to around 13 per cent in 2018-19.
‘Golden Needle‘ tea produced by Donyipolo Tea Estate in Arunachal Pradesh was sold by Contemporary Tea Brokers and was bought by city-based buyer Chattar Singh Narendra Kumar for online tea seller Absolute Tea, GTAC Buyers Association secretary Dinesh Bihani said.
On August 13, Dikom Tea Estate of Assam had sold its Golden Butterfly tea at Rs 75,000 per kg at the GTAC, auction centre official said.
Donyipolo Tea Estate had last year set a record when their tea was sold for Rs 39000 per kg, Bihani said.
“These teas do not draw the real picture of the tea industry. But the industry should appreciate producers who are making top notch teas and are making a name for Indian Tea Industry in the world,” Bihani said.
Arunachal Pradesh recently came up in the tea map of the country for producing speciality tea. These have been appreciated by tea lovers across the world, Bihani said.
“We had bought Donyipolo Golden Needles in the past few years. The response has been superb and we expect a similar response this year,” Kumar said.
The tea was made from the tips of selected clones by skilled artisans, Satyanjoy Hazarika, managing director, tea, of Contemporary Brokers said. PTI
Exposure to toxic air pollutants is linked to increased deaths due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, warn researchers.
Conducted over a 30-year period, the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, analysed data on air pollution and mortality in 652 cities across 24 countries and regions.
The researchers found that increases in total deaths are linked to exposure to inhalable particles (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5) emitted from fires or formed through atmospheric chemical transformation.
“As there’s no threshold for the association between particulate matter (PM) and mortality, even low levels of air pollution can increase the risk of death,” said Yuming Guo, Professor at Monash University in Australia.
“The smaller the airborne particles, the more easily they can penetrate deep into the lungs and absorb more toxic components causing death,” Guo said.
Though concentrations of air pollution in Australia are lower than in other countries, the study found that Australians are more sensitive to particulate matter air pollution and cannot effectively resist its adverse impacts.
“Given the extensive evidence on their health impacts, PM10 and PM2.5 are regulated through the World Health Organisation (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines and standards in major countries,” Guo added.
The results suggest that the levels of particulate matter below the current air quality guidelines and standards are still hazardous to public health.
Mizoram Chief Minister, Zoramthanga on August 22 sought the Centre’s help to solve water crisis in the state, an official statement said.
Zoramthanga, who is now in the national capital, called on Union Water Resources Minister, Gajendra Singh Sekhawat over rain water harvesting and sufficient supply of drinking water in the state, the statement added.
Zoramthanga informed the Union Minister about the persistent water crisis in Mizoram.
Although Mizoram receives sufficient annual rainfall, it often faces water scarcity in winter or dry season due to lack of tanks for rain water harvesting, Zoramthanga was quoted as saying in the statement.
He then urged the Union Minister to take measures to solve the scarcity.
Sekhawat on his part promised that he will look into the matter and asked the visiting Chief Minister to prepare a project for the purpose, the statement said.
The two leaders also talked about bamboo plantation to preserve and augment water sources in the state. Sekhawat further urged Zoramthanga to focus on ginger and turmeric.
Zoramthanga was accompanied by Mizoram Sports Minister, Robert Romawia Royte, Mizoram Chief Secretary, Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, state Planning Board Vice Chairman, H Rammawi and other officials. It may be mentioned that villages in Mizoram are generally situated on hill tops.
In most villages, water for drinking and other domestic purposes has to be collected daily from streams and other water sources.
Although Mizoram receives an annual rainfall of about 254 centimeter, people living on the hill tops usually suffer from water scarcity as the rain water runs off quickly. (Morung Express)
Construction on a pivotal tunnel on a railway linking Lhasa and Nyingchi in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region was completed Friday, marking huge progress of the mammoth project.
The Bukamu Tunnel, located in Milin County of Nyingchi, is 9,240 meters long with an average elevation of 3,100 meters above the sea level. It is also the 37th tunnel being finished, leaving just 10 tunnels to be completed by the end of the year.
Over 3,000 rock bursts were counted during the construction of the tunnel, while the oxygen level inside was merely 19 percent that of the plain areas, said Wang Shucheng, director of the project.
The Lhasa-Nyingchi railway is 435 km long, 75 percent of which are bridges and tunnels. It is expected to be completed in 2021
Most of the tunnels along the Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway have been completed, railway authorities said over the weekend.
The Bukamu Tunnel, one of the longest tunnels on the railway linking Lhasa and Nyingchi in Southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region, was completed on Friday. With its completion, 96 percent of the tunnels on the Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the railway are finished.
The 9,240-meter Bukamu Tunnel is located in Manling county of the region’s eastern Nyingchi city. According to the China Railway 17th Bureau Group, and it is also the 37th tunnel to be completed for this section, leaving 10 other tunnels to be finished by the end of the year.
“Once construction began in October 2015, it took more than 300 workers 1,234 days to complete the tunnel,” said Yan Qingjing, an official of the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway Headquarters, which is part of the group.
“The oxygen level in the region is merely 50 percent that of the plain areas, with the tunnel’s location at an average elevation of 3,000 meters above sea level, and the oxygen level inside the tunnel is only 19 percent of that of the plain areas,” Yan said.
The group’s statistics show that more than 90 percent of the tunnel is rock burst section, and that more than 3,000 rock bursts were counted during construction of the tunnel, with an average daily burst of three.
Wang Shucheng, director of the project, said the tunnel’s depth reaches 1,381 meters at one point, and high geostress inside causes the tunnel’s highest temperature to reach 42 C, much higher than the railway tunnel construction safety temperature of 28 C.
“The tunnel is like a steam room,” said Kang Yanjun, who works with the group. “Once you get inside, you begin sweating profusely. It is like doing anaerobic exercise.”
The technicians must exert a lot of energy every time they work in the tunnel, and each person needs at least 10 bottles of water, Kang said.
“We have implemented a 90-minute work shift schedule,” Kang said. “We place ice blocks in the tunnel to prevent workers from getting sick because of the high temperature, and we also use fans and oxygen transfer stations inside the tunnel.”
With a length of 2,416 kilometers, the Sichuan-Tibet Railway connects Southwest China’s Sichuan province with the Tibet autonomous region. It is the second railway linking Tibet with the rest of the world, along with the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
Bangladesh is sometimes known as the “land of the rivers.” It’s got hundreds of them — and over the years, they’ve been getting more and more polluted. But as of early July, every single one of them has a remarkable new level of protection: The Bangladeshi Supreme Court has given all rivers in the country legal rights.
Now, people who damage a river can get taken to court by the government-appointed National River Conservation Commission. They’ll be tried as if they’d harmed a living entity, because each river now has the right to life. That means the river’s government-designatedhuman representatives can sue on its behalf when it’s being endangered.
Bangladesh isn’t the first placeto pass such a law. In the US, Ohio voters in February granted Lake Erie the legal right to “exist, flourish, and naturally evolve,” and recent years have also seen national and state laws granting rights to rivers and forests from New Zealand to India to Colombia.
It’s all part of the nascent “rights of nature” movement, which argues that instead of viewing nature as property to be owned, we should recognize that it has its own inalienable rights similar to the ones we enjoy. Activists in the movement want us to give the environment a more central place in humanity’s expanding moral circle — the imaginary boundary we draw around those we consider worthy of moral consideration.
But even among the countries that have embraced the rights of nature, Bangladesh now stands out as having done something unprecedented. “What’s unique about Bangladesh is that they declared all rivers to have this status,” said Ben Price, the national director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a nonprofit public interest law firm that helps people facing threats to their local environment. By contrast, other countries have granted rights only to individual bodies of water.
“In Bangladesh, the river is considered as our mother,” Mohammad Abdul Matin, general secretary of the Dhaka-based environmental group Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, told NPR. “The river is now considered by law, by code, a living entity, so you’ll have to face the consequence by law if you do anything that kills the river.”
The country already had fines in place to discourage people from harming the waterways, but those penalties weren’t working well enough to prevent pollution, illegal dredging, and the encroachment of human settlements. The Supreme Court hopes its landmark ruling will change that. Noting that “water is likely to be the most pressing environmental concern of the next century,” it called for rivers to be protected “at all costs.”
That’s music to the ears of environmentalists, but others argue that granting rights to rivers does come with real costs, and that they’re too high. With more communities getting interested in enshrining the rights of nature in law — Price said that activists in Europe, Asia, and Australia have reached out to CELDF for help — now is a good time to explore the difficulties that are likely to arise as this movement spreads.
Three problems with enforcing the rights of nature
Even as the rights of nature movement has inspired new legislation around the world, it’s also made clear how ill-equipped governments are to enforce it.
For one thing, once a river gets rights, what happens to all the people who live off it? In Bangladesh, millions — fishers, farmers, and their families — live in informal settlements or slums alongside the rivers and depend on the waters for their livelihoods. Now some are being evicted.
“The government must take stock of poor communities who need resettlement or protection from industries and real estate developers,” said Matin. “If enacted well, the verdict will be helpful in returning the rivers to the people who have historically depended on them.”
It’s also important to note that in some countries where these laws have been enacted, including Bangladesh, nature may now enjoy more rights than some humans in those societies do.
A second problem is jurisdictional. Rivers don’t obey borders — they often traverse more than one country. If a certain country has granted rights to a river but a neighboring country hasn’t, that makes it difficult to legally protect the waterway from environmental harm. Bangladeshi environmental activists are already talking about how they won’t be able to compel India to comply with the new law on rivers.
A third, related problem is that rights of nature laws tend to get tied up in court — and not everybody has the kind of money required to file a lawsuit. The risk, then, is that whoever has the funding may get to impose their will.
In Ohio, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights — the groundbreaking legislation that allows citizens to sue on behalf of the lake when it’s being polluted — is caught up in legal wrangling right now. The day after Toledo residents passed the bill in a special election in February, a corporate firm representing agribusiness interests filed a federal lawsuit against the city.
“We expect this kind of pushback because there are competing interests: The community needs healthy drinking water, while the business community has an interest in making money,” Price told me. The lake is currently experiencing severe algae blooms, and the city of Toledo just filed a new motion trying to get the lawsuit against the bill of rights dismissed.
How the rights of nature idea took off
In 1972, the case of Sierra Club v. Morton came before the US Supreme Court, leading to a deliberation over whether nature should have its own rights. The Court decided the answer was no, but Justice William O. Douglas dissented. “Contemporary public concern for protecting nature’s ecological equilibrium,” he wrote, “should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation.”
That same year, law professor Christopher Stone made a splash with an article titled “Should trees have standing?” It catalyzed other academics to write a slew of articles and booksconsidering whether natural environments ought to have rights enshrined in law.
In 2006, that question left the ether of academia and came to bear directly on toxic sewage sludge, which had been dumped in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. Residents fought for — and won — the first rights of nature law in the world. Two years later, Ecuador became the first country to enshrine the rights of nature in its constitution, thanks in large part to the work of indigenous activists.
Since then, the victories have come fast and furious. In 2014, New Zealand recognized the legal rights of the Te Urewera forest. In 2017, it also declared the Te Awa Tupua river to have legal personhood. That same year, Colombia granted rights to the Atrato River and India recognized the Ganges and Yamuna rivers as legal persons.
In 2018, the Amazon rainforest got rights, and for the first time, so did a specific plant species: the wild rice known as manoomin, one of the Anishinaabe people’s staple crops. And this February, Ohio voters passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.
Granting the status of personhood to a natural environment may seem like a bizarre legal fiction, but it’s no more bizarre than the idea that corporations should enjoy that same status, which has been with us since the 1880s.
If we find it strange to view nature the way we view people, that may just be because we’ve grown up in an anthropocentric intellectual tradition that treats the natural world as an object to be examined and exploited for human use, rather than as a subject to be communed with and respected.
“The idea that we can be separate from nature is really a Western reductionist way of looking at the world — we can trace it back to Francis Bacon and the scientific method,” said Price.
He told me that just as women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery were once unthinkable but gradually became accepted and normalized, the rights of nature idea seems odd now but will eventually gain social currency. “For the rights of nature to be understood and become something we’re comfortable with is going require a paradigm shift, just like the end of slavery did,” Price said.
That paradigm shift may entail nothing less than a total rejection of capitalism, according to Eduardo Gudynas, the executive secretary of the Latin American Center for Social Ecology in Uruguay. He argues that attempts to reduce environmental devastation while staying within a capitalism framework won’t be enough to address the climate crisis.
“The debate around the rights of nature is one of the most active frontlines in the fight for a non-market-based point of view,” Gudynas told me. “It’s a reaction against our society’s commodification of everything.”
Aerial photo taken on July 16, 2019 shows trees planted along banks of the Yarlung Zangbo River in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibet has seen significant progress in restoring biodiversity, with a forest coverage rate of 12.14 percent, said a white paper released in March this year by China’s State Council Information Office. The population of Tibetan antelopes has grown from 60,000 in the 1990s to more than 200,000 and Tibetan wild donkeys have increased in numbers from 50,000 to 80,000, noted the document, titled “Democratic Reform in Tibet — Sixty Years On.” Since the Qomolangma Nature Reserve was established in 1988, Tibet has set up 47 nature reserves of all kinds, including 11 at state level, with the total area of nature reserves accounting for more than 34.35 percent of the total area of the autonomous region, the white paper said. Tibet has 22 eco-protection areas, including one at state level, 36 counties in receipt of transfer payments from central finance for their key ecological roles, four national scenic areas, nine national forest parks, 22 national wetland parks, and three national geoparks, figures showed. The central government has continued to increase eco-compensation for Tibet in return for its cost for protecting the eco-environment and the consequent losses in development opportunities. The white paper said that since 2001, the central government has paid 31.6 billion yuan (4.71 billion U.S. dollars) in eco-compensation to the autonomous region for protecting forests, grassland, wetland, and key ecological reserves.
There are numbers of flora and fauna species in Arunchal Pradeshified yet. reserchers and conservationists find them out them out sometime.Researchers of the Rajiv Gandhi University here have recently discovered five new fish species in various districts of the state.
The scientific names of the newly-discovered fish species are Mystus prabini, found in Sinkin and Dibang rivers in Lower Dibang Valley district and Exostoma kottelati, found in Ranga river in Lower Subansiri district, a release by the university said.
Other discovered species are Creteuchiloglanis tawangensis, found in the Tawangchu river in Tawang district, Garra ranganensis, found in Ranga river and Physoschistura harkishorei, found in Dibang and Lohit rivers in Lower Dibang Valley district, it said.
The team was led by Prof D N Das of the fisheries and aquatic ecology research wing of the Zoology department of the university.
“Majority of the water bodies in remote areas of the state are still not easily accessible to the researchers due to a difficult terrain that includes rain forests, steep hills besides communication problems,” Das said.
He, however, said his research team is optimistic that meticulous exploration may result in more discoveries of new fish species from the state in the future.
Happy Bhutan had unleashed unhappiness in the form of water to the people of Assam for years. While the Union Government and stakeholders are opposing Chinese dams on the Himalayan rivers flowing into India, our government is not concerned over dams built by Bhutan over trans-boundary rivers. On the other hand, the Union government is patronizing hydro projects upstream in complete disregard to the interests of the people of Assam downstream.
by Chandan Kumar Duarah
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his second visit to Bhutan, inaugurated the Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant in Thimphu on Saturday and also launched stamps to commemorate five decades of India-Bhutan hydropower cooperation.
With the inaugural of 720MW Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Plant and opening of official discussion on the Sunkosh, the biggest project targeted, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit is in a way commemorating five decades of hydropower cooperation between Bhutan and India.
“I am very happy to come to Bhutan at the beginning of my second term,” Mr. Modi said in a joint press statement after delegation-level talks with his Bhutanese counterpart at the historic Simtokha Dzong. The two countries signed 10 MoUs in the fields of space research, aviation, IT, power and education.
The commissioning of Mangdechhu takes Bhutan’s installed power capacity to 2,326 MW from 1,606, an increase by 44.8 percent. Mangdechhu is the fourth project implemented under inter-government (IG) model. The first project under the IG model was 336MW Chukha project financed with 60 percent grant and 40 loan grant from the government of India and commissioned in 1986.
The 1,020MW Tala and 60 MW Kurichhu were other projects implemented under IG model. The two projects of Punatshangchhu are also being implemented under the IG model with 70 percent loan and 30 percent grant.
Sunkosh, which has the potential to generate over 2,500MW of power is the priority for the government currently. Discussions during PM Modi’s visit revolves around the modality of implementation and financing. But Dams in Bhutan continues to be a nightmare downstream, having created havoc at regular intervals. In the last 10 years, over one lakh families were rendered homeless while more than one lakh hectares of farmland were devastated in the downstream districts of Baksa, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Chirang and Nalbari.
But Modi’s stand with Bhutan makes a grave concern to downstream people of Assam (India) living along the rivers originates in Bhutan. In last week of July, after a little relief, the flood situation has deteriorated once again in Assam with Bhutan releasing the excess water from 55 meter tall dams in eastern Bhutan adjoining western Assam.
Although there is an agreement between India and Bhutan to share information on the release of water from the Kurichu dam, Bhutan allegedly continues to release water from the dam without sharing the information with the Indian (Assam) authorities. There are instances when unannounced release of water Kurichu dam by Bhutan jeopardized the lives of thousands of people downstream.
The sudden surge of water release again caught Assam authorities off-guard. It so happens that during incessant rains, waters from the dam is released flow down to Assam. In July this year, there was a sudden rise in the water levels of the Beki river that washed away a part of the embankment at Panchmile, inundating the entire Manas National Park.
Last month Druk Green Power Corporation Limited (DGPC) of Bhutan, which runs the 60MW Kurichhu project in eastern Bhutan, had announced that it would release excess water from its dam. Several flood-affected districts in lower Assam are on alert following the release of excess water from the dam of Kurichhu hydropower plant in Bhutan early on July 25 morning.
In Barpeta district, the administration has sounded a red alert for people residing on the banks of the Beki and Pahumara rivers appealing them to move to higher and safer locations.
Further, the threat of Kurichu looms large on pristine wildlife habitats like Manas—a world heritage site, an elephant project, a tiger project and a biosphere reserve.
Situated on the western flanks of Assam, Manas National Park is one of the most vibrant forest ecosystems in India. Situated on the foothills of the eastern Himalayas, brushing the Bhutan border, this pristine and primordial wilderness reserve is a treasure trove of bio diversity.
Situated on the foothills of the eastern Himalayas, brushing the Bhutan border, this pristine and primordial wilderness reserve is a treasure trove of bio diversity. Conservation activists voiced the concern of the downstream people. The situation prevailing in Manas is likely to happen in wildlife habitats of upper Assam when hydro electric power projects are commissioned in China, Butan and Arunachal Pradesh (India).
Happy Bhutan has been unleashing unhappiness in the form of water to the people of Assam for years without informing concerned authorities except last time. While the Union Government and stakeholders are opposing Chinese dams on the Himalayan rivers flowing into India, our government is not concerned over dams built by Bhutan over trans-boundary rivers. Conservationist activists expresses the concern of the downstream people and the situation prevailing in Manas is likely to happen in wildlife habitats of upper Assam when hydro electric power projects are commissioned in China and Arunachal Pradesh.
It is another matter of concern that on July 18, 2019 the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave the go-ahead to the Dibang hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh. Pegged at a capacity to yield 2,880 megawatts, the project is going to be India’s largest hydropower venture. When completed, it would reach the elevation of a staggering 278 metres – also making it the world’s tallest concrete gravity dam.
The central government has decided to build the project without any public consultation or study of the potential impacts in downstream Assam state. Anti-dam activists are now concerned Modi’s government will now push ahead with a series of mega dams planned in the northeast region, ignoring all expert and advisory committees in an attempt to harness “green” hydropower.
The Dibang is just one of 168 massive dams slated to produce 57,000 megawatts of hydropower in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh states. This strategically important region, which borders Myanmar in the east, Bhutan in the west and China in the north, is described by politicians as India’s ‘future powerhouse’ and is a key focus point of the country’s dam building programme.
China is involved in a major dam building programme on its side of the border, also using the waters of the Brahmaputra – which it calls the Yarlung Tsangpo. China’s plans to build a massive dam three times the size of the Three Gorges Dam on the Great Bend before the river swings round into India.
The Brahmaputra is one of the world’s major rivers, winding across the Tibetan Plateau through China, India and Bangladesh before joining with the Ganga and flowing out into the Bay of Bengal. The dam building programme in north-east India has been highly controversial. Opponents say it not only ignores geological and ecological factors – it also fails to take into account the impact of climate change in the region.
Experts also say no proper overall plan has been put in place: though India and China have signed a limited agreement to data on river flow, there is no specific deal on managing the Brahmaputra’s waters. Protests about the dams have been growing, with work on the 2,000 megawatt Lower Subansiri dam on one of the Brahmaputra’s tributaries – repeatedly held up.
Broken promises In the build up to 2014 elections, Narendra Modi held a rally in Pasighat in the East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh in February where he acknowledged peoples’ concerns about large dams and committed to developing small hydropower instead.
“I know citizens of the region are against large power projects,” he had said. “I respect your sentiment. But hydropower can also be harnessed using smaller projects, while protecting the environment” Modi pretended.