river Hooghly Current Affairs - 2020

Ash Barges are increasing Concerns of Ecology of Sundarbans

The Fisheries organization and environmental experts flag serious threats to the ecology of Indian Sundarbans as the fly ash filled barges are sinking and capsizing in Hooghly river.

Highlights

In April 2020, two fly ash filled barges sank within a range of 30 kilometres of Hooghly river. Around 100 Bangladeshi barges each weighing 600 tonnes to 800 tonnes traverse through Indian waters. They carry fly ash from Indian thermal power station to Bangladesh where the fly ashes are used in manufacturing cement.

What is the issue?

The vessels that sunk in the river are threatening the local fishes and other aquatic biodiversity. This in turn is affecting lives of 1000s of fishermen.

Reasons

Most of the barges that are carrying the fly ashes are old and are ill maintained. They often cause accidents.

Hooghly River

The Hooghly river is a distributary of the Ganges. River Ganga splits into Hooghly and River Padma at Murshidabad. River Padma flows towards Bangladesh and River Hooghly flows south into West Bengal.

The Farakka Barrage diverts waters of the Ganges to the city of Murshidabad. It also supplies water to River Hooghly according to the agreement signed between India and Bangladesh.

Fly Ash

The Fly Ash is a by product of coal combustion. Fly ash has several useful applications. It includes concrete production, embankments, fly-ash pellets, road subbase construction, cement clinker production, brick production, etc.

India’s first underwater Metro: To begin in March 2022 in Kolkata

The first underwater Metro is being constructed in Hooghly river. The project is awaiting clearance of 2.8 million USD from the Indian Railways.

Highlights

The Hooghly Metro is one of the oldest Metro in the country. It was started in 1984. The new under water tunnel will carry 20% of city’s population and will cross the river in less than a minute. Currently it takes 20 minutes in the ferry to cross the river and an hour to cross the Howrah bridge.

Infrastructure and Environment

While the infrastructural developments are increasing exponentially, it is important to check their effects on environment. According to World Wide Funds, by 2050 the Earth will hold 75% more infrastructure than that it does today. Therefore, it is essential to study their Environmental impacts and take necessary alternate actions to protect the environment.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

According to United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), EIA is the evaluation of environmental impacts and also cultural, human-health and socio-economic impacts of a proposed project.

EIA in India

EIA in India began in 1976. However, it was an administrative decision till 1994. In 1994 Environmental (Protection) act, 1986 was amended to provide legislative support to EIA process