Impact of 98 Mini Hydel Projects on Cauvery on Bangalore’s Water Supply

In recent news reports, it was reported that “following the drastic fall in the water-level in the Shiva Balancing Reservoir (SBR), the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has asked Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) and Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. (KPCL) to stop power generation from four mini-hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery basin, at least till May.”[1] The projects which were asked to stop generation include: Madhavamantri, Satyagala, Shiva Anecut and Shimsha mini-hydroelectric projects.Image

However, the fact is that KREDL (Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited) has allotted and commissioned a whopping 98 mini hydel projects on the Cauvery, most of them downstream Krishnaraj Sagar Dam, many of them commissioned. These projects are in the Mysore, Mandya and Chamrajanagara Districts. Actual numbers maybe higher as we have not included projects from Ramanagara in the list as we are not certain how many of those would fall in Cauvery Basin.

24 Projects are in Mysore, 62 in Mandya and 12 in Chamrajanagar.

See Annex 1 for the full list with their status (Only projects from Mandya in the Annex, contact us if you need the full list)

Some of these projects are downstream from the Shiva Anicut from where water supply to Bangalore is routed. In addition to decrease in water availability, water stored by several mini hydel projects increases the evapo-transpiration rate of water, particularly in summer.

Critically, these projects also hold back water, affecting water supply cycles to Bangalore and other towns and villages dependent on the river. Similar conditions had occurred in Mangalore, last year where water levels in the Thumbe Dam fell to alarming levels due to mini hydel projects hoarding up water in the upstream.[2]

In Cauvery, if at all the state government, BWSSB and others concerned about impact of water supply due to mini hydel projects, they need to consider the impact of these projects on the water supply, ecology and livelihoods in the downstream areas and consider halting generation of these projects during this summer when the Cauvery basin is facing sure dire water situation. Mini Hydel Projects which are below the capacity of 25 MW do not need Environmental Clearance, Environment Impact Assessment or Public Hearing. String of Mini Hydel projects on a single river, one after the other, severely affects the hydrology as well as ecology of a river system and also people and their livelihoods in surrounding areas. The same is happening with Cauvery with nearly 100 Mini Hydel projects planned or commissioned. Many projects are right next to the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and are causing impediment to movement of elephants, increasing man-animal conflicts. This has been highlighted by the Karnataka Elephant Task Force.  Due to their cumulative impacts on ecology, High Court of Karnataka has halted construction of any such projects in Western Ghats.

Hence, keeping water supply, hydrology and ecology in view, project level and cumulative impact assessment of mini hydel projects planned, allotted and commissioned along the River Cauvery is an urgent need. Earlier such appeals to KREDL, Karnataka Forest Department and Karnataka Wildlife Board have fallen on deaf ears.

We hope that the Karnataka government, BWSSB, KPCL, KREDL, KPTCL, Cauvery Neeravari Nigam and all others concerned will come together and will conduct this assessment urgently and cancel the projects which are having unacceptable impacts on people, ecology, hydrology and water supply of Cauvery. Immediately, an assessment of their impact is required in the context of summer and dire water situation.

On the International Day of Action for Rivers, Cauvery needs our urgent attention. Cumulative impact Assessment and individual Impact Assessment of unprecendeted number of Mini Hydel Projects is a must.

Nisarg Prakash, Nityata Foundation, Bangalore, nisargprakash@gmail.com

Dr. Latha Anantha, River Research Centre, Kerala, rrckerala@gmail.com

Parineeta Dandekar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com


(Scroll Down for a list of Commissioned and Allotted Mini Hydel Projects on Cauvery in Mandya District alone)

Annexure 1

Small Hydro Projects in mandya District on Cauvery in Karnataka. Please contact us if you need full list of 98 projects including those in Mysore and Chamrajanagara.

(Source: Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited, KREDL: http://www.kredltest.in/Hydroreportall.aspx)

 No. Company Company MHS Status Capacity (MW)
1 ADD Realty Ltd. New 3
2 Aparimitha Power Ventures Pvt. Ltd. Aparimitha Kuppahalli MHS Allotted 4
3 Atria Brindavan Power Ltd. Atria Hanumanahalla Commissioned 8
4 Atria Brindavan Power Ltd. Atria Brindavan Allotted 12
5 Atria Brindavan Power Ltd. Atria Visveswara Commissioned 12
6 Atria Brindavan Power Ltd. Atria KRS Commissioned 4
7 Atria Hydel Power Ltd. Atria Sheshadri Iyer Allotted 10
8 Atria Hydel Power Ltd. Atria Sheshadri Iyer II Commissioned 12
9 Atria Power Corpn. Ltd. Atria Shimsha New 24
10 Atria Power Corpn. Ltd. Atria Yelachagere MHS Allotted 5
11 B & G Energy Pvt. Ltd. B&G Allotted 3
12 B Soilmec India Pvt. Ltd. B Soilmec Hasurubore Halla Allotted 20
13 B Soilmec India Pvt. Ltd. B Soilmec Someshwara II Commissioned 15
14 Bhoruka Power Corpn. Ltd. Bhoruka Mandagere Commissioned 4.5
16 Cauvery Hydro Energy Ltd. Cauvery Shiva Commissioned 3
17 Cauvery Hydro Energy Ltd. Cauvery Akkihebbal Allotted 4.5
18 Energica Power Co. NULL Alugodu Commissioned 0.8
19 Graphite India Ltd. Graphite India Allotted 1.5
20 Hallikeshwara Energy Projects Pvt. Ltd. NULL NULL Allotted 0.5
21 IJK Power Pvt. Ltd. NULL Ganadahalli Allotted 15
22 Innoverse Eco Friendly Solutions Innoverse Thimmana hosur Allotted 0.4
23 Instrument & Systems NULL Banasamudra Allotted 1
24 Kaltronics Office Automation & Networking Pvt. Ltd. Parpikala Mahadevapura Commissioned 0.5
25 Kilara Power Pvt. Ltd. NULL NULL Commissioned 2
26 Limbavali Power Pvt. Ltd. Limbavali Hullahhalla Commissioned 12
27 LK Power Corpn. Ltd. LK Maddur Branch Canal Allotted 2
28 Manasa Gangothri Power Pvt. Ltd. New 3
29 ME Power Gen Project NULL Shree Lakshmi Narashimhaswamy Allotted 3
30 Mythree Power Developers Mythree Sampaji Allotted 0.25
31 Nimishamba Energy India Pvt. Ltd. Nimishamba Nimishamba New 3
32 Obull Power Projects Pvt. Ltd. Obull Sagya New 2
33 Obull Power Projects Pvt. Ltd. Obull Chillapura Allotted 2
34 P6 Energy Pvt. Ltd. KCP Ballenahalli New 2
35 Paramount Estate Pvt. Ltd. Ramapura New 1
36 Paramount Estate Pvt. Ltd. chaluve Allotted 1
37 Parpikala Power Pvt. Ltd. Parpikala Viraja Allotted 0.5
38 Parpikala Power Pvt. Ltd. Parpikala Sithapura Allotted 0.5
39 Penna Cements Industries Ltd. Pioneer Genco Sreeramadevara Allotted 24.75
40 Photon Energy Systems Ltd. Photon Hosaholalu Commissioned 0.5
41 Pioneer Genco Ltd. Pioneer Genco Someshwara Allotted 24.75
42 Samrudhi Hydro Energy NULL KRS Allotted 1.22
43 SLS Power Industries Ltd. Bhoruka Belakavadi Allotted 1.5
44 SM Hydro Power Pvt. Ltd. SM NULL Allotted 10
45 Soham Renewable Energy India Pvt. Ltd. Soham Mahadevapura-2 Allotted 6
46 Sree Mallikarjuna Power NULL Maddur Allotted 0.95
47 Sri Rama Enterprises Rama Doddrasinakere Allotted 0.5
48 Sri Rama Enterprises Rama Chikkarsinakere Allotted 0.5
49 Sriven Power Pvt. Ltd. NULL Heggadahalli Allotted 5
50 Subhash Kabini Power Corpn. Pvt. Ltd. SPML Varuna RBC Allotted 2
51 Subhash Kabini Power Corpn. Pvt. Ltd. SPML Hulikere New 3
52 Trinity Aero & Energy Formulations Pvt Ltd NULL Mosarahalla (Katteri Nala) Commissioned 0.25
53 Trishul Power Pvt. Ltd. Trishul Hemagir Allotted 4
54 V.Pram Power Co. Pvt. Ltd. NULL Devaraya Allotted 0.5
55 Venika Green Power Pvt. Ltd. XS Chikka Commissioned 24.75
56 Venika Green Power Pvt. Ltd. XS Malligere Commissioned 0.75
57 Vijayalakshmi Hydro Power P Ltd (2) NULL Hebbakavadi Commissioned 1.75
58 Vijayalakshmi Hydro Power P Ltd (3) Hebbakavadi Allotted 1.25
59 West Mountain Power Ltd. West Mountain Shimsha Kaveri Confluence SHP Allotted 24
60 XS Hydro Energy Pvt. Ltd. XS Commissioned 24.75
61 Yuken India Ltd. Attigala Allotted 0.35
62 Zen Power Pvt. Ltd. KGK Paschim vahini  Allotted 0.5
 TOTAL  361.47 MW
Cumulative Impact Assessment

The End of The River

The Video site says this about the video: Published on Nov 6, 2012
European rivers are negatively impacted by thousands of hydropower installations and barrages, with many more to come if the power industry has it their way. Energy produced by hydropower installations is per definition “renewable” energy – but “green” or “clean” it is certainly not. This film is produced to inform about the hydropowers devastating impact on our rivers and the life in them.

Length: 29 min 6 secs
Language versions available: EN, DE, FR. Film produced for: the European Anglers Alliance, and the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association. Directed and written by: James G. Beaulieu
Produced by: Dr. Stefan Spahn and James G. Beaulieu”

COMMENT: This is an excellent video indeed, visuals showing the devastating impact that hydropower projects can do to the river, the fish and the biodiversity across the river and also in turn on the people (though it does not have as much about the social impacts as one would like and as would be applicable in a country like India). It also shows the adverse impacts of the peaking mode of generation and also shows that even in a temperate country like Germany,the hydropower reservoirs can be a source of methane, a gas having 21 times more impact on global warming compared to carbon dioxide. It mentions how fish ladders and fish passages are hardly effective.

HOWEVER, it seems to privilege big hydro project as against small hydro and even micro hydro projects (the commentary mentions projects as small as 20 Kilo watts) over large hydro, seeming to say that the impact of smaller projects on fish (impact hydropower projects on fish seems to be focal point of the video, not the river as the title says) compared to large hydro and actually advocates moratorium on small hydro and also decommissioning of small hydro (as Denmark seems to have done, as shown in the video).

That message may not be as much relevant for a country like India where such micro projects are the only ones that can provide electricity to the communities that do not have them and when such micro projects are the only ones that can be taken up in a participatory way for the benefit of the local communities and where impacts are easier to understand and accept.

Otherwise this is an educative video for all those concerned about the impact of hydropower projects on the river and its biodiversity, particularly fish. This is particularly relevant for India in the context of the social angle and hence is particularly important with reference to larger hydropower projects.

Comments welcome.