Representational image. A man rows a boat in the heavily polluted waters of the Yamuna River. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Representational image. A man rows a boat in the heavily polluted waters of the Yamuna River. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

HT Environment Conclave: Citizens can help check river pollution, say experts

Experts also said climate change was compounding the problem of river pollution because the flow of water in many perennial rivers was likely to get reduced
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 05:15 PM IST

A decentralised approach involving every citizen would be needed to save the country’s rivers from pollution, experts said at Hindustan Times Environment Conclave, while adding that the Public Trust Doctrine may be used against civic bodies and industries to stop them from polluting rivers and water bodies.

“The way we tried to treat our rivers, there was something wrong in it. We need to take a decentralised approach. It should be a people’s movement. Each and every state and district in the river’s catchment area and every citizen should be involved in this movement,” said Kalyan Rudra, a Kolkata-based expert on rivers and water bodies and chairman of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board.

“We think that rivers are one common pool resource to pollute. In our Constitution water resources are held in public trust. We have to use the Public Trust Doctrine to apply stringent provisions against permitting municipal bodies or industries from polluting rivers,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Also Read: HT Environment Conclave: Govt to train village women to test water quality

Ghosh also said that climate change was compounding the problem of river pollution because rising temperature was impacting the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas and the flow of water in many perennial rivers was likely to get reduced.

“Our river management has to factor in the broader climate risks. There are enough agricultural practices and community-based social capital in the country, traditional knowledge, and modern technology that can be brought together with the right incentive structure,” said Ghosh.

The experts also said that it was not just the rising temperature but change in rainfall pattern and delayed monsoon that were taking a toll on the rivers’ heath as less water was infiltrating the ground, resulting in huge runoff. Delayed monsoon was forcing farmers to exploit groundwater resources more, they said.

“India consumes more groundwater than USA and China combined do. While on one hand we are depleting our groundwater and drilling deep into our aquifers, on the other hand we are putting in pesticides and fertilisers. It is a double whammy for groundwater,” Ghosh added.

Depleting groundwater would have a negative impact on the effluent seepage or base flow towards rivers which, in turn, would again impact the rivers.

“Since the groundwater is getting depleted, the base flow (to rivers) is getting affected. In some areas like Prayagraj, we can just walk across the river in February. Thanks to the water that is being brought in by some rivers from Nepal like Kosi and Gandak, the Ganga is rejuvenated,” said Rudra.

They also said that whenever a river is intercepted, people only talk about the flowing water and not about the sediment it carries, the energy and the biodiversity.

“In 1980s, the river Ganga at Farakka in West Bengal carried 800 million tonnes of sediment-load. Now it carries only 170 million tonnes. The hilsa fish earlier used to swim up to Varanasi. Now they are trapped before Farakka,” said Rudra, who blamed back-to-back dams in the upper levels of Ganga for its rising pollution.

Both Rudra and Ghosh concurred that ecological flow of a river is not an arithmetic equation which allows us to divert a certain percentage of the river water. Instead, they said, the river is a hydrological entity and its hydrological cycle should not be stopped or hindered.

“Humans are not the exclusive custodian of the river and each species has their right. We are living in an ecosystem where everything is connected,” Rudra added.

Ghosh said there can be enough water for rivers without impacting agriculture. “Our study has shown that 25% of irrigation water can be saved for growing paddy without any fall in production,” he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Germans, who pride themselves on their environmental awareness and whose culture and history are steeped in woodland legend, are concerned about the state of forests, which cover 11.4 million hectares, a third of the country's area. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)
Germans, who pride themselves on their environmental awareness and whose culture and history are steeped in woodland legend, are concerned about the state of forests, which cover 11.4 million hectares, a third of the country's area. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)

Fire, drought, beetles ravage German forests, study finds

Reuters, Berlin
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 11:37 AM IST
The condition of German forests has deteriorated to record levels due to fire, drought and a bark beetle infestation, the agriculture minister said on Wednesday, prompting calls from environmental groups for greener policies.
Close
Forest officials are investigating to establish the source of these ivories.
Forest officials are investigating to establish the source of these ivories.

45 kg ivory seized in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, 2 poachers arrested

By Debabrata Mohanty | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Bhubaneswar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 10:35 AM IST
  • The weight of the recovered ivories is 44.9kg. These will be sent to Dehradun for a chemical examination.
Close
A team of researchers from Stanford University, the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru, various zoological parks and wildlife NGOs sequenced 65 genomes from four of the surviving tiger subspecies — the Amur; Bengal; Sumatran and Malayan tigers over three years to gain insights into genomic variation in tigers. (Representative Image)(HT photo)
A team of researchers from Stanford University, the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru, various zoological parks and wildlife NGOs sequenced 65 genomes from four of the surviving tiger subspecies — the Amur; Bengal; Sumatran and Malayan tigers over three years to gain insights into genomic variation in tigers. (Representative Image)(HT photo)

Changes in tiger habitat disrupting evolutionary processes, says study

By Jayashree Nandi, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 02:27 AM IST
The study, published in the Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution, suggested that the four tiger subspecies are genetically distinct, but also found inbreeding among Indian tigers because of isolation due to habitat loss.
Close
Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero Waste Life(Instagram)
Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero Waste Life(Instagram)

Bare Necessities: Book shows how to lead sustainable lifestyle in India

PTI, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:46 PM IST
A "one-stop guide" on how to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle in India, "Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero Waste Life", published by Penguin, is written by environmentalist Sahar Mansoor and sustainability consultant Tim De Ridder.
Close
A petrol pump employee pours petrol into a vehicle at a fuel station in Mumbai.(PTI Photo)
A petrol pump employee pours petrol into a vehicle at a fuel station in Mumbai.(PTI Photo)

Gas traders pleaded for cash as Texas cold upended their market

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 11:04 PM IST
The world of physical gas is dominated by industrial buyers and sellers, trading firms and the odd hedge fund. The action revolves around matching demand in one corner of the vast U.S. energy network with supply in another.
Close
Elephants in Karlapat wildlife sanctuary of Kalahandi district have succumbed to haemorrhagic septicaemia.(HT archive)
Elephants in Karlapat wildlife sanctuary of Kalahandi district have succumbed to haemorrhagic septicaemia.(HT archive)

Drones to monitor the health of Odisha elephants after 6 died of disease

By Debabrata Mohanty | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Bhubaneswar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 18, 2021 02:51 PM IST
  • The forest department staff are trying to keep the rest of the elephants away from the ones which have been hit by the bacterial disease
Close
Panagiotis Economou shovels snow from the entrance of his property during heavy snowfall, in the village of Kapandriti, Greece, February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis(REUTERS)
Panagiotis Economou shovels snow from the entrance of his property during heavy snowfall, in the village of Kapandriti, Greece, February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis(REUTERS)

Greece blanketed by heaviest snowfall in 12 years

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 15, 2021 10:09 PM IST
A cold front swept across the country from Saturday, driving temperatures down to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) in northern Greece and causing rare snowfall in Athens after a period of unseasonably warm weather.
Close
Seventeen nations improved their GSI scores, while four fell in the ranking.(File Photo. Representative image)
Seventeen nations improved their GSI scores, while four fell in the ranking.(File Photo. Representative image)

Covid-19 stimulus packages provide little money for environment: Report

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 13, 2021 11:40 AM IST
About $1.8 trillion, or 12%, of $14.9 trillion is being channeled to parts of the transportation and agricultural sectors that are cutting greenhouse-gas emissions or benefiting nature and biodiversity, according to think tanks Vivid Economics and Finance for Biodiversity.
Close
Addressing the World Sustainable Development Summit on Wednesday, Jaishankar said India currently had the fastest-growing solar energy programme in the world.(Unsplash)
Addressing the World Sustainable Development Summit on Wednesday, Jaishankar said India currently had the fastest-growing solar energy programme in the world.(Unsplash)

India on track to meet its climate change mitigation commitments: Jaishankar

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 12, 2021 05:59 PM IST
Calling India clearly a leader in climate action, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has asserted that the country was on track to meet its climate change mitigation commitments.
Close
Of a total of $14.9 trillion in stimulus spending announced globally since the pandemic began, so far $1.8 trillion is being used to mitigate the impact of polluting sectors such as energy, transport, industry, farming and waste. (Pixabay)
Of a total of $14.9 trillion in stimulus spending announced globally since the pandemic began, so far $1.8 trillion is being used to mitigate the impact of polluting sectors such as energy, transport, industry, farming and waste. (Pixabay)

Global spending on green economic stimulus slowly tracking upwards: Study

Reuters, London
PUBLISHED ON FEB 12, 2021 04:32 PM IST
Massive post-pandemic stimulus packages are mostly failing to support action to tackle climate change or halt the loss of biodiversity, but the amount of green spending is slowly tracking upwards.
Close
High-tech electric water heaters can double as thermal batteries, storing excess production from wind and solar generators.(Pixabay)
High-tech electric water heaters can double as thermal batteries, storing excess production from wind and solar generators.(Pixabay)

How your water heater can be a secret weapon in the climate change fight

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 11, 2021 07:13 PM IST
California wants to replace millions of gas water heaters with high-tech electric ones to serve as “thermal batteries” for storing solar and wind energy.
Close
"The road to fighting climate change is through climate justice. At the root of climate justice is the principle of being large-hearted. Climate justice is also about thinking about the bigger and long-term picture," he said. (Representational Image) (Twitter)
"The road to fighting climate change is through climate justice. At the root of climate justice is the principle of being large-hearted. Climate justice is also about thinking about the bigger and long-term picture," he said. (Representational Image) (Twitter)

Road to fighting climate change is through climate justice: PM Modi

PTI, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 11, 2021 01:33 PM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the road to fighting climate change is through climate justice and called for giving developing countries enough space to grow.
Close
The so-called climate and resilience bill, presented as a "glimmer of hope amid a gruelling pandemic". (Pixabay)
The so-called climate and resilience bill, presented as a "glimmer of hope amid a gruelling pandemic". (Pixabay)

France presents new climate bill, activists slam "mini-measures"

Reuters, Paris
PUBLISHED ON FEB 11, 2021 09:52 AM IST
French President Emmanuel Macron sent a new climate bill to parliament on Wednesday, hoping to convince voters of his green credentials before the 2022 presidential election amid criticism from activists that he has watered down earlier promises.
Close
Fossil fuels are alone responsible for more than 8 million premature deaths annually, according to new research by a team of U.S. and U.K.(Pixabay)
Fossil fuels are alone responsible for more than 8 million premature deaths annually, according to new research by a team of U.S. and U.K.(Pixabay)

Fossil fuel pollution kills millions more than scientists knew

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 09, 2021 05:10 PM IST
A global study of fine-particle pollution doubles previous mortality estimates and shows that even lower levels—as seen in the U.S.—are more deadly than previously shown.
Close
NDRF personnel clear debris in Tapovan, in Uttarakhand on Tuesday.(AP Photo)
NDRF personnel clear debris in Tapovan, in Uttarakhand on Tuesday.(AP Photo)

Uttarakhand glacier disaster highlights climate crisis risks

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 09, 2021 04:21 PM IST
At least 31 people have died, 165 people are missing many more are feared to have died. The deluge first smashed into a small dam, gathering more energy as it grew heavier from the debris it collected along the way.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP