Tuesday July 23, 2019
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Dams might have negative influence on River Ganges, says Water Resource Ministry of India

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Broken end of footbridge over the Mandakini river at Rudraprayag Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Hydroelectric projects on Mandakini, Bhagirathi and Alaknanda river might affect Ganges in a negative manner  
  • The water resource ministry wants SC to review these projects
  • The region around the projects are geologically weak and seismically active 

NEW DELHI: The water resource ministry has opposed the hydroelectric projects on the Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini River hence contradicting the permission given by environment and power ministries for setting up of dams.

After the Kedarnath incident of 2013, when around 100,000 pilgrims remain trapped in the Uttarakhand valley after serious landslides and bad monsoon, the Supreme Court had put a hold on all the 70 proposed hydroelectric projects on the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi river basin. On May 10, SS Patwalia, additional solicitor general brought to notice that the environment and power ministry has approved the construction of five of the six projects, namely— Lata-Tapovan (171 MW), Jhelum Tamak (108 MW), Kotlibhel 1-A (195MW), Alaknanda (300 MW), Khironi Ganga (4 MW) and Bhyunder Ganga (24 MW).

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The water resource ministry headed by Uma Bharati informed the Supreme Court that any further hydroelectric projects on Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi rivers can be dangerous for Ganga.

State of Sri Kedarnath Temple during the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy
State of Sri Kedarnath Temple during the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy

The ministry argued that the permission was given before the unfortunate Kedarnath tragedy of 2013 but now there is need for a comprehensive hydrological and hydro-geological study to know how dams can affect the flow of rivers.

“All these new projects are coming up close to the existing projects, many of which are in ecologically sensitive areas hindering the source of fresh water resource. Hence, any further project will have substantial impact on ecological footprint of the area,” the ministry said.

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According to the ministry, the permitted projects are around regions which are geologically weak and seismically sensitive. So, there is a need to review these projects. The ministry said that Ganga could remain pure and pristine only if Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi rivers are allowed to flow freely invoking the ‘Aviral Dhara’ of the Indian government which aims for a clean and continuous flow of the river Ganga.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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US: Supreme Court Blocks Administration’s Effort to Add Citizenship Question on Census

The citizenship question was meant to better enforce the Voting Rights Act

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US, Supreme Court, Citizenship
FILE - Demonstrators protest during a Fair Maps rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, U.S., March 26, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump responded Thursday to the Supreme Court’s decision to block his administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the upcoming U.S. census by saying he’d asked his lawyers whether there was a way to delay the nationwide head count.

In a tweet hours after the court announced its decision, Trump said it “seems totally ridiculous” that the government could not question people about their citizenship on the census, which takes place once every 10 years.

The Supreme Court ruled the administration’s explanation — that the citizenship question was meant to better enforce the Voting Rights Act — was “more of a distraction” from the issue than an explanation.

Opponents of the citizenship question say it would intimidate noncitizens into not answering the census, ultimately leaving them underrepresented in Congress.

US, Supreme Court, Citizenship
U.S. President Donald Trump responded Thursday to the Supreme Court’s decision to block his administration’s effort. Pixabay

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberal justices in the 5-4 ruling.

 The nation’s highest court also announced Thursday that it was rejecting a request to intervene in states’ redistricting efforts.  Redrawing the boundaries of voting districts is meant to ensure proportional representation in state legislatures as the population grows and changes locations.

Republicans in the state of North Carolina and Democrats in the state of Maryland have been accused of redrawing the lines of voting districts to keep power in the hands of the ruling party.

The chief justices said manipulation of the electoral map, a practice known colloquially as gerrymandering, is a problem for state governments to solve, not the Supreme Court.

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Thursday was the final day of rulings by the Supreme Court before its summer break. (VOA)