As told to Parliament (February 9, 2023): Land subsidence in Joshimath very old issue, claims power minister

In response to another question asked this week, the minister said Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydro Electric Project is far away from the site where subsidence occurred in the recent past
As told to Parliament (February 9, 2023): Land subsidence in Joshimath very old issue, claims power minister

The land subsidence in Joshimath is a very old issue and it was observed way back in 1976, RK Singh, minister of power and new and renewable energy (MNRE), claimed while responding to a question in Lok Sabha.

He was responding to a question raised by member of Parliament (MP) Jai Prakash. The MP asked, “whether it is a fact that the residents of Joshimath attributed land subsidence to NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation Limited) Tapovan-Vishnugad hydro electric infrastructure project and if so, the details thereof.”

In response to another question, asked this week, the minister said Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydro Electric Project (HEP) is far away from the site where subsidence occurred in the recent past. Additionally, Tapovan-Vishnugad HEP remains unaffected by the subsidence incident in the Joshimath region, he claimed.

However, experts are of the opinion that the 520 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad project is part of the reason for the soil collapse. The underground tunnel of the Tapovan-Vishnugad HEP has hollowed the area near Joshimath, according to experts.

Polluted rivers

Lok Sabha MP Kaushalendra Kumar has raised a few questions to Bishweswar Tudu, minister of state for Jal Shakti (water resources), based on a report by the Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment.

The MP asked whether the government concurs with the CSE data regarding the steady rise in pollution across a majority of rivers in the country.

Tudu responded to this unstarred question asked February 9, 2023, during the Budget Session, by saying:

It was informed by Central Pollution Control Board that the data published by the CSE is not available with them, as the Board was not involved in the publication of the same by CSE.

CPCB has identified nearly 311 polluted stretches in 279 rivers across India, Tudu added. Currently, the board monitors the water quality of rivers at 2,026 locations in the country, the minister said, citing the CPCB report, 2022. The report is based on the assessment of water quality data for the years 2019 and 2021.

The pollution load in the Yamuna has increased considerably over the last three years. 

The analysis of river Yamuna’s water quality data based on biological oxygen demand (BOD) concentration during 2019- 2021 revealed that the highest concentration of BOD was observed in Delhi during all three years, followed by downstream Uttar Pradesh.

The maximum concentration observed was 114 milligrams per litre in 2020, Tudu said while responding to another question.

Old vehicles deregistered

Delhi’s transport department has de-registered 5,442,267 vehicles as of January 31, 2023, Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport and highways, told the Lok Sabha. This includes 10-year-old diesel vehicles and 15-year-old petrol / CNG vehicles.

“The enforcement wing of Govt. of NCT of Delhi regularly checks plying of more than 10-year-old diesel vehicles and 15 years old petrol vehicles,” the minister said.

Between January 1, 2014, and January 31, 2023, the enforcement branch confiscated 446 diesel vehicles that are older than 10 years and another 12,959 vehicles that are older than 15 years. The impounded vehicles are further being handed over to scrappers, Gadkari said.

Biogas plants

MNRE supports the installation of biogas plants and their use as a source of alternative fuels for cooking purposes in the country, including rural areas, under the National Biogas Programme, RK Singh told the Lok Sabha. Under this scheme, the ministry provides central financial assistance for setting up biogas plants, he added.

Revival of lakes 

Some 66 lakes have been supported with financial assistance for lake conservation projects under the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems scheme, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister of state in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, told the Rajya Sabha.

Based on the CPCB water quality assessment of lakes, ponds and water tanks in 599 locations, 498 were found to be not complying with the primary water quality criteria for outdoor bathing, Choubey added.

New sites for landfills

Some 1,924 new sites have been identified for the development of landfills across the country; 305 landfills have already been constructed, 126 are under construction and 341 are in operation, Choubey told Rajya Sabha, citing CPCB report 2020-21.

In addition, 17 landfills are exhausted and 11 landfills have been capped. Under Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0, additional central assistance is provided for the development of solid waste management infrastructure, including sanitary landfill, he added.

No data on blackbucks

Centre does not maintain the details of the population of blackbucks in the country, Choubey told Rajya Sabha. Census of tigers and elephants is undertaken at the national level and census of other wild animals is undertaken at the state level by the respective governments, he added.

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