Free flowing rivers

World Rivers Day 2020: Celebrating Rivers across the world

The World Rivers Day[i] (WRD) is celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of September. The event strives to highlight the invaluable ecological, hydrological services and cultural, recreational values offered by the rivers. Indeed, the most of the once wild, scenic, free flowing rivers across the globe are facing existential crisis on account of various anthropogenic activities hastened over the past century.

However, there are small but significant steps being undertaken by individuals, organizations and governments to restore some of the flowing eco-systems. This account attempts to compile some such positive developments that have taken place in the one year.

We have already published a compilation of the positive river stories of India on the occasion of International Day of Actions for Rivers being held on March 14 2020. In addition to Indian rivers, this compilation also covers some remarkable development concerning river conservation worldwide. There could be many more stories and developments happening, we invite readers to send us such stories they know about. 

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Chhattisgarh · CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam Disaster · Mahanadi

Khanda Dam Breach in Chhattisgarh in Sept 2020

The earthen Khanda dam in Korea district[i] in Chhattisgarh’s Mahanadi basin breached around 6.30 hrs on Wednesday, Sept 23, 2020. Local farmers alleged negligence by the Water Resources Department officials, who were informed about the dilapidated condition of the dam. The engineers even came and inspected, they said, and went away. They alleged that if they had reduced water storage and in stead opened the two canal gates, this situation may not have come.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 21 Sep 2020: IHA President accepts-Hydro faces massive slowdown & worse

International Hydropower Association (IHA) is essentially global leader of hydropower lobby. So when IHA President Roger Gill speaks about the problems hydro industry is facing, it becomes very interesting for all concerned.

In this interview the Roger Gill makes it clear that Hydro investments have been slowing down in last five years when compared with investments in immediate earlier decades. It has further slowed down in 2019 and has been further majorly affected by Covid-19 pandemic. Gill also accepts that the hydro is perceived as much more risky compared to solar and wind. The claim he makes of low levelised cost of electricity from hydro projects is a bit of fiction, since cost of any under construction or new hydro will be hugely costlier than solar and wind power projects. The IHA president is catching at the straws when he takes encouragement from investments in existing hydro projects and pump storage, though he keeps making it clear that market is still unclear as far as pump storage tariffs are concerned. A friendly interview also reveals a lot!!

It is high time that the Indian hydropower lobby led by NHPC and power ministry takes due note of the realities and would not push unjustified, unviable and destructive hydropower projects down the throats of reluctant states and people, using scarce public resources.https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/hydro-power-requires-100-bn-investment-annually-roger-gill-international-hydropower-association/78131561 (17 Sep 2020)

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

Role of dams in Kerala Floods 2018: What are we missing?

Guest Article by: Dr. CG Madhusoodhanan

The dams and their management received a central role in all debates and discussions across the country on the causes of the 2018 Kerala floods. The role of dams in the floods was negated by two studies viz. the Central Water Commission (CWC) report on Kerala floods[i]  and the study by Prof. K P. Sudheer and team published in the Current Science journal[ii], both of which identified extreme rainfall as the primary cause of the floods. The latter study received wider publicity and attention because it was headed by an independent expert working at the premier technological institute viz. IIT Madras. Meanwhile, another peer-reviewed international publication from IIT Gandhinagar[iii] ascribed the floods of 2018 to the combined effect of extreme rainfall and dam mismanagement. Sri. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP in his EPW article argued that proper management of the dams would have drastically reduced the impacts of floods in the Periyar basin[iv]. More recently, Sri. J. Harsha, Director, CWC, Chennai has written a critique of the study by Sudheer et al (2019), in SANDRP which accused the study team of distorting   science through ‘fallacious assumptions, accumulated errors in their methodology and the poor data quality fed into the hydrological model[v].  A response by Sudheer et al[vi] to the J Harsha comments has now been published by SANDRP along with a rejoinder to the same by J Harsha[vii]. Due to these contradictory arguments and the highly technical nature of the problem, the dilemma continues among the public on the role of dams in causing floods. Continue reading “Role of dams in Kerala Floods 2018: What are we missing?”

CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

ROLE OF DAMS IN 2018 KERALA FLOODS: Rejoinder of J Harsha to the response by Sudheer et al

Rejoinder Article by: J.Harsha

An article titled “Role of dams on the floods of August 2018 in Periyar River Basin” was published by Sudheer et al. (2019) in Current Science. A rebuttal was prepared and thanks to South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), the same was published by SANDRP on 25th August 2020 (https://sandrp.in/2020/08/25/role-of-dams-in-kerala-floods-distortion-of-science/) for which Sudheer et al. (2019) has now furnished a response (https://sandrp.in/2020/09/19/response-of-sudheer-et-al-to-the-comments-by-mr-j-harsha-on-the-article-role-of-dams-on-the-floods-of-aug-2018-in-periyar-river-basin-kerala/).

In the rebuttal published by SANDRP, I had questioned the very basis of fitting HEC-HMS model for Periyar River Basin (PRB) by Sudheer et al. (2019), and also challenged the assumptions made by them, the methodology followed and the consequent voluminous inferences such as catchment response at Neeleshwaram (L2), virgin simulations, bank full discharges and particularly inferences that indicted nature for the flood calamity but exonerating the role of dams for the floods of Kerala in 2018. 

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

Response of Sudheer et al to the Comments by Mr. J. Harsha on the article, “Role of dams in the floods of Aug 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala”

Sudheer, K P1,2,*, S. Murty Bhallamudi1,3, Balaji Narasimhan1,3, Jobin Thomas1, Bindhu, V M1, Vamsikrishna Vema1,4, Cicily Kurian1,
1Department of civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai – 600036,
2Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.
3Indo German Centre for Sustainability, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai – 600036
*Corresponding Author: sudheer@iitm.ac.in

The authors of Sudheer et al. (2019) – hereinafter referred to as ‘authors’ – appreciate Mr. J. Harsha (hereinafter referred to as ‘commenter’) for his judgmental assessment (in his blog appeared on SANDRP website- “https://sandrp.in” on August 25, 2020, see: https://sandrp.in/2020/08/25/role-of-dams-in-kerala-floods-distortion-of-science/) of the authors’ work “Role of dams on the floods of August 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala” (published in the Current Science in 2019: [DOI: 10.18520/cs/v116/i5/780-794]). As mentioned in Sudheer et al. (2019), the primary objective of the article was to examine whether the early release of the water stored in the reservoirs would have attenuated the flood peaks, and if so, what would have been the extent of the attenuation, in the context of debates and discussions in the social, political, as well as scientific domains based on non-sequitur speculations. Accordingly, the authors designed a scientific exercise using a widely used hydrological model (HEC-HMS) to understand the role of the dams in the Periyar River Basin (PRB) in the 2018 flooding situation.

Continue reading “Response of Sudheer et al to the Comments by Mr. J. Harsha on the article, “Role of dams in the floods of Aug 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala””
CWC - Central Water Commission

North India; CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2020; New Website Old Problems

Flood forecasting is an important activity during monsoon, considering the huge and increasing flood prone area, flood frequency, intensity and flood damages. Accurate and timely flood forecasting can hugely help reduce the damages due to floods. Central Water Commission (CWC) is the only agency responsible for flood forecasting in India. To understand the CWC’s flood forecasting better, we have compiled the list of the various flood, inflow forecasting sites and flood monitoring sites in India.

In this compilation, we have given state wise list of CWC’s level forecasting, flood monitoring and inflow forecasting sites in North India, comprising of Union Territories Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Delhi and states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana  and Uttar Pradesh. It includes available details like name of river, sub basin, Warning level (WL), Danger Level (DL), High Flood Level (HFL), Full Reservoir Level (FRL), Maximum Water Level (MWL), as applicable. As we see below, there are many gaps in this basic information for the sites that are part of CWC’s list. A similar zonewise overview of CWC’s sites was compiled in 2018 and 2019, which can be seen here: Overview of CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2018: North India; Overview of CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2019: North India. We have brought this updated compilation for 2020 as there are large number of changes.

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Delhi · Rivers · Urban Rivers

NAJAFGARH JHEEL – SAGA OF A FORGOTTEN RIVER

Guest Article by: Ritu Rao

A short drive on the Golf Course Road in Dwarka followed by a turn towards Goyla Dairy and subsequently a sharp left just short of Goyla Dairy brings us to the famous Inspection Road /Embankment Road. Flanked by Najafgarh Drain on one side and the arable lands of Delhi on the other, the embankment road was constructed after the 1964 floods of Delhi. The thick mud embankments are covered with trees and shrubs which provide the much-needed habitat for the local flora and fauna to thrive. This thicket starts clearing off after Jhatikara crossing (say after about a half an hour drive on this road) and the Najafgarh drain suddenly transforms into a vast expanse of water known as the Najafgarh jheel. This spectacular sight continues for a good 5-6 kms before it once again narrows down into a stream. The road meets the now extinct Sahibi Nadi and Outfall from Drain No.8 at Dhansa, 5 km upstream of the jheel. The Sahibi Nadi which originates in Jaipur district and drains parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi, now has diminished flow and disappears in the arid soil near Dharuhera after the Masani Barrage in Haryana. Once fed by the Sahibi nadi and storm water runoff from the surrounding areas, the Najafgarh jheel is now fed primarily by the waste water from the Badshahpur Drain and the Outfall Drain No.8 and the rain water in monsoons.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 14 Sep 2020: How should we define a Normal Monsoon?

IMD is happy to declare a monsoon as normal as long as total quantum of rainfall at national scale is within 4% of what is defined as normal monsoon rainfall during June 1 to Sept 30. Even if this means there is spatially or temporally or both spatially & temporally, the total rainfall or its distribution is abnormal in large parts of the country. It was good to see a national newspaper, asking question if the monsoon is normal even though it’s not temporally normal as was the case in large parts of the country this year.

The IMD normal only assures meteorological normal of national monsoon rainfall within given period. It does not assure hydrologic normal nationally or in different parts of the country, nor agricultural normal rainfall nationally or in different parts: sub divisions, states, river basins, districts, talukas/ tehsils or villages and wards. We clearly need much more realistic and nuanced definition of even meteorological Normal monsoon rainfall, which IMD needs to work on. But as far hydrological or agricultural normal rainfall is concerned, both temporally and spatially, those concerned outside IMD will need to work on.

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