The Stream, February 20: Activists Take Legal Action As Pollution Chokes India’s Rivers

The Global Rundown

Environmental activists take legal action in an attempt to restore India’s polluted rivers. Contaminated water sparks a cholera outbreak in Malawi, sickening more than 500. The Indian Supreme Court delivers a verdict on the Cauvery water dispute, increasing Karnataka’s share of water. Stretches of Australia’s Great Northern Highway are underwater after Tropical Cyclone Kelvin makes landfall. The government of Rwanda considers tapping groundwater in the country’s drought-prone Eastern Province. A study in Mexico shows that rural ranchers have more difficulty accessing water than their urban counterparts during drought.

“This is how you kill a river.” –Janak Daftary, an engineer who works with the water conservation group Jal Biradari, in reference to polluted waterways throughout India. River pollution in India has gone largely unchecked amid the country’s rapid growth and urbanization. As contamination worsens, environmental activists are taking their concerns to court, where they hope to spur action among local and state officials. Yale Environment 360

In context: India’s toxic trail of tears.

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By The Numbers

527 Number of cholera cases reported in Malawi, a sharp increase from the 157 recorded in January. Eight people have died from the outbreak, which officials say is caused by drinking water from shallow, contaminated sources. Reuters

1.5 metres Depth of water along stretches of Western Australia’s Great Northern Highway, which was inundated by heavy rains and flooding over the weekend as Tropical Cyclone Kelvin made landfall. In parts of Western Australia, this February is the wettest in 122 years. Al Jazeera

Science, Studies, And Reports

Researchers from the University of Portland analyzed water access during the 2006-2012 drought in Mexico’s Baja California Sur state and found that urban households were able to attain water more easily during the dry spell. According to the study, ranchers’ access to water “was neither equal nor valued.” The study urges government agencies to enact policies and programs to protect rural households in future droughts. Science Daily

On The Radar

The Indian Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the Cauvery water dispute on Friday, February 16, awarding the state of Karnataka with an increased share of water. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu first approached the Supreme Court after the Cauvery River Water Dispute Tribunal awarded Tamil Nadu with a majority of the Cauvery basin water in 2007. Hindustan Times

In context: Water scarcity causes Cauvery Delta anguish.

The Rwandan government is working to gather data on groundwater reserves in the country’s drought-prone Eastern Province. Experts believe that pumping groundwater may help ease chronic water shortages in the province, but data on the area’s aquifers has been limited until now. Relief Web