Forest Advisory Committee

Forest Advisory Committee does not clear a dam project in Western Ghats of Nashik affecting nearly 1000 hectares of land, in the absence of relevant studies, information and compliance

The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the MoEF in its meeting on the 11th and 12th of July did not recommend Forest Clearance to Kikvi Drinking water project coming up in Nashik. The proposal entailed diverting 172 hectares of forest land and a massive 761.52 hectares of agricultural land, totalling 933.98 hectares, without even a rehabilitation or resettlement plan. The project proponents pushed the project claiming that Gangapur dam is being silted up, but shockingly, did not present any alternative of desilting Gangapur Dam or even mentioning that Nashik already has three more drinking water supply sources in the upstream and downstream of Gangapur Dam.

In its decision, the FAC noted that

·         “The project proponent has not given due diligence in assessing water requirement of the area and available resources already in existence to meet this requirement.

·         No evidence is made available to prove that an authenticated study has been conducted to assess water requirement

·         There are three more drinking water/irrigation projects in Nashik but user agency could not establish any link between capacity of these and future water requirement.

·         Possibility of enhancing storage capacity of Gangapur dam to its installed capacity of 7.2 TMC by way of desiltation has not been explored.

·         It is also not understood how rehabilitation plan is not required if submergence of agricultural and is involved.”

FAC has asked for further clarification and reports before the project can be considered again. This includes a detailed study to assess present and future requirement of water for drinking irrigation and vis a vis available sources, an integrated plan which may include desilting study for Gangapur dam as well as a Rehabilitation and Resettlement Plan for the population whose agricultural land will be submerged. It has also asked for compliance of Forest Rights Act.

This is indeed a welcome decision by the FAC.  The proposal highlighted callous and casual approach of the Nashik Municipal Corporation while diverting an entire river and affecting agricultural lands in over 10 villages in Nashik, without even mentioning agricultural submergence clearly in its application.

SANDRP, along with local groups from Nashik had sent a submission to the FAC highlighting these pertinent points. It can be viewed at:https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/can-a-dam-submerging-1000-ha-be-encouraged-only-because-its-drinking-water-project/

Climate Change · Western Ghats

Climate Change in Western Ghats: 4X4 Report and Beyond

Background

“No country in the world is as vulnerable, on so many dimensions to climate change as India. We need to build our own independent and credible research capacity on these issues.”

-Jairam Ramesh, erstwhile Union Environment Minister in Preface to CLIMATE CHANGE AND INDIA: A 4X4 ASSESSMENT: A SECTORAL AND REGIONAL ANALYSIS FOR 2030s

As India is struggling to cope with the extent and scope of the Uttarakhand Disaster[1], it is high time that we take the very real and urgent challenges of Climate Change seriously. India has several regions and communities significantly vulnerable to climate change. Himalayan glaciers are receding faster than global averages, precipitation across India is becoming more intense and unpredictable, biodiversity is under stress, sea levels are rising affecting thousands of coastal communities. And despite all this, destructive development in fragile regions is happening with utter disregard to this reality.

Maximum impacts of climate change are being faced by local poor communities and ecosystems.

With this in mind, we take a look at 4X4 Climate Assessment report (4X4 Report for short), brought out in 2010 by Ministry of Environment and forests (MoEF) which assessed Climate Change impacts by 2030 on four ecologically sensitive sectors: the Himalayan region, Western Ghats (WG), Coastal areas and North-east regions of the country and four issues: Agriculture, Forests, Human health and Water together. We also look at other reports on climate change in Western Ghats and compare these with actual challenges faced by WG. Till date this report remains the only official and definitive report about assessment of impact of climate change in India, to the best of our information (Readers, please let us know if there are other relevant reports in this regard).

The report is prepared by Indian network on Climate Change Assessment (INCCA)[2], which consists of 120 Indian Institutes and research laboratories, geared towards data analysis and impact predictions of the climate change scenarios. The network was launched by MoEF on 14th October 2009. 4X4 Report was published in November 2010 when Mr. Jairam Ramesh was the Union Minister for Environment and Forests.

Athirappilly Falls 1

A1 B Scenario Predictions

The climate change impact predictions need the to assume of socio-economic context for which predictions are made. IPCC has classified socio-economic scenarios under A & B categories with further sub-divisions under each of them. 4X4 Report uses the A1B prediction scenario for India. This scenario assumes significant innovations in energy technologies, which improve energy efficiency and reducethe cost of energy supply with a balance across all sources. A1B assumes drastic reductions in power generation costs through the use of solar, wind, and other modern renewable energies and end use products.[3],[4].

Ironically, this assumption of A1B scenario for 2030 seems baseless when we look at the current dependence on non-sustainable energy sources like coal based thermal and large hydro.

PRECIS (Providing Regional Climates for Impact Studies)[5] tool used in this report considers data from large time scale of 5-7 decades in order to predict impact for coming 3-4 decades.

We look at Water in Western Ghats and what the Report predicts for this most populated biodiversity hotspot in the World.

1.       Western Ghats: The Water Tower of Peninsular India

Western Ghats (WG) are one of the oldest mountain ranges– older than the Himalayas- occupying around 6 % of Indian landmass. According to High Level Working Group Report on Western Ghats (HLWG/Kasturirangan Committee Report), geographical area of WG is over 1,64,280 sq. km. WG harbor high degree of endemism with more than 78% of amphibian and about 41% fish species[6] and similar high RET (Rare, endemic and Threatened) floral and faunal groups. They also support numerous tribal and forest dwelling communities. In 2012 UNESCO has declared 38 sites from Western Ghats as World-heritage sites. Most of the Peninsular east flowing or west flowing rivers originate from Western Ghats making it the water tower of peninsular India. Millions depend on these rivers like Krishna, Godavari, Cauvery, Malaprabha, Ghataprabha, Bhima, Tungabhadra for water and ecosystem goods and services. West flowing rivers are shorter and swifter. Examples include Vaitarna, Ulhas, Kali, Sharavati, Chalakudy, Pamba, Bharatpuzha, Nethravathy, Hemavathy, Bhawani etc. There are many complex community- water relationships which could be found in the region.

Rivers from Western Ghats drain almost 40% of Indian drainage. Therefore, it is essential to understand the impacts of the climate change on water resources in Western Ghats.

Pristine Forests set for submergence under the 24 MW Kukke Mini hydel Plant in Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka. Photo: SANDRP
Pristine Forests set for submergence under the 24 MW Kukke Mini hydel Plant in Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka. Photo: SANDRP
  1. 2.       Predictions from 4X4 Report for Water and Western Ghats for 2030s

2.1   Precipitation and temperature:

In the Western Ghats, annual temperatures are likely to increase to 26.8 °C–27.5 °C in the 2030s. The rise in temperature with respect to the 1970s will be between 1.7° C and 1.8° C. The mean annual rainfall is likely to vary from 935± 185.33mm to 1794±247mm, which is an increase of 6%–8% with respect to the 1970s. The minimum temperatures may rise by 2.0 °C to 4.5° C, with minimum increase in those parts of Karnataka that lie in the Western Ghats. Within the region bordering the state of Kerala, the maximum temperature is likely to rise by 1° C–3° C.

The number of rainy days are likely decrease along the entire Western coast, including in the Western Ghats.

The intensity of rainfall is likely to increase by 1-2 mm/day.

2.2   Water yield, sedimentation the predictions for Western Coastal region, including the Western Ghats:

The west coast region exhibits a wide variability in the change in precipitation under the 2030s scenario. The northern portion of the west coast, consisting of areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra, shows an increase in precipitation for the 2030s scenario, and the increase varies from 4% to over 25%. However, areas of Karnataka and Kerala show a marginal decrease upto 4%.

The west coast region shows a general reduction in Evapotranspiration (ET), which varies from a very nominal value to about 5% for the 2030s scenario. Areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra, which had shown an increase in precipitation, still show a reduction in ET perhaps because of high intensity of the rainfall.  

The reduction in water yield for Karnataka and Kerala is up to about 10%. Gujarat and Maharashtra areas see an increase in water yield[7], and the magnitude is up to about 50%.

The west coast region also shows a considerable increase in the sediment yield for majority of the areas. Even those areas that are expected to receive less precipitation show an increase in sediment yield of up to 25%. The increase in sediment yield in these areas can possibly be explained due to an increase in the intensity of precipitation. This will have major impacts on water resource projects.

It is also seen that there is an increase in the moderate drought development for Krishna, Pennar, and Cauvery basins, which have either predicted decrease in precipitation or have enhanced level of evapo-transpiration. The maximum water withdrawal takes place from Godavari and Krishna river basins in Western Ghats in all the years[8]

2.3   Flood Analysis According to 4×4 Report, all the regions show an increase in the flooding varying between 10 to over 30% of the existing magnitudes. This has a very severe implication for the existing infrastructure such as dams for the areas and shall require appropriate adaptation and dam safety and operation measures to be taken up.

2.4   Impacts on crops:

a.       Coconut: Coconut yields are projected to increase by up to 30% in majority of the region. Increase in coconut yield may be mainly attributed to projected increase in rainfall (~10%) and relatively less increase in temperatures. However, some areas like south-west Karnataka, parts of Tamil Nadu and parts of Maharashtra, may lose yield up to 24%.

b.      Rice: Productivity of irrigated rice in Western Ghats region is likely to change +5 to –11% depending upon the location. Majority of the region is projected to lose the yield by about 4%. However, irrigated rice in parts of southern Karnataka and northern-most districts of Kerala is likely to gain. In the case of rain-fed rice, the projected change in yield is in the range of –35 to +35% with a large portion of the region likely to lose rice yields up to 10%.

c. Maize and sorghum: Climate change is likely to reduce yields of maize and sorghum by up to a whopping 50% depending upon the region.

Surprisingly, the report has no insights to offer to spice, coffee and tea plantation across Western Ghats. ( For impact of Climate Change on spices and plantations in Western Ghats: Dr. Latha Anantha and Unnikrishnan: https://sandrp.in/wtrsect/Water_Sector_Options_India_in_Changing_Climate_0312.pdf)

Plantations in Western Ghats Credit: Thinkstock
Plantations in Western Ghats Credit: Thinkstock

 

2.5   Impacts on forests:

The entire Western Ghats region is covered by 54 grids, out of which 10 (18%) are projected to undergo change. 18% forested grids in the region are projected to be vulnerable to climate change. The projection of the NPP (Net Primary Productivity) for the Western Ghats region is projected to have approximately 20% increase in NPP on an average.

2.6   Temperature Humidity Index (THI) and its possible impact on biodiversity:  While the report uses this index for studying analyzing impacts on livestock, its conclusions can also be used for biodiversity and fisheries. The report predicts “A severe thermal discomfort and stress is expected in most parts of Western Ghats and the Coastal region in the month of May.” This will not only affect the biodiversity, but also fisheries. However, the report makes no such correlation.

Seetha Nadi, free flowing river in Karnataka Western Ghats. Photo: SANDRP
Seetha Nadi, free flowing river in Karnataka Western Ghats. Photo: SANDRP

3.       Limitations and Way Forward:

The report accepts its limitation in terms of data sources, details which have been gathered, lack of integration of existing data, etc. The authors seem aware that the report in this form is of little use to policy makers or communities.

4.       Conclusions:

While the report has its severe gray areas, and there are variations within Western Ghats, it is clear that for Western Ghats:

  • Precipitation will be more intense with less rainy days
  • Temperatures will see a gradual increase
  • Crops will be affected
  • Forests (and dependent biodiversity) will be made more vulnerable
  • Sedimentation will increase sharply
  • Incidence of floods and droughts will rise sharply

 5.       Problems with 4 X 4 Assessment:

Apart from the limitations admitted by INCAA, the report suffers several other limitations.

  • It does not offer any recommendations for policy makers.
  • Neither does it hold any recommendations for communities. In fact in its way forward, when it mentions that cooperation has to be sought from several departments and organizations, it does not even mention local communities who will face major impacts!
  • No mention of adaptation and mitigation measures that communities can adapt, except some very limited mentions. This is a huge gap. (More on Water Sector Options for India including a paper on plantations in Western Ghats can be found here:https://sandrp.in/wtrsect/Ex_Summary_WATER_SECTOR_OPTIONS_FOR_INDIA_IN_CHANGING_CLIMATE_MARCH_2012.pdf)
  • In the task of assessing impacts and devising solutions to mitigate and adapt to impacts of climate change, local communities have proved to be extremely adept. At the same time, the impacts of climate change affect these communities the most and hence they have to be made a part of ongoing research. 4 X 4 Report does not even attempt this.
  • Some big questions:

The report says that “The northern portion of the west coast, consisting of areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra, shows an increase in precipitation for the 2030s scenario, and the increase varies from 4% to over 25%. Gujarat and Maharashtra areas see an increase in water yield, and the magnitude is up to about 50%. As per the maps, this region also includes the Western Ghats.

Now Northern Western Ghats is exactly the same region where Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM, also a part of INCA) has said that there have been drastic, ongoing reductions in rainfall!

In fact, Centre for Climate change, IITM has said that in the last 110 years (1901-2011) rainfall in Mahabaleshwar, origin of five rivers in northern Western Ghats has decreased by 800 mm! In northern Westenr Ghats of Maharashtra, rainfall has decreased at the rate of 2% per decade while the rate of decrease is lower in Southen Western Ghats for Kerala at 1%.[9]

This aspects needs some more clarity.

  • No reference to the ongoing destructive development in Western Ghats: Western Ghats are facing severe threat from Mining, Hydropower projects, Irrigation Projects, mini hydel projects, which affect water cycle, sedimentation, forests and biodiversity of the region and displacement and impoverishment of very large number of people. However, the report does not dwell on any of these practical problems and their impact in compounding climate change challenges.

    Mining in Goa Photo: Damodar Pujari
    Mining in Goa Photo: Damodar Pujari

 

  • No reference to biodiversity, freshwater fisheries: The report has no predictions or recommendations to offer for biodiversity in Western Ghats. While there is a section on coastal fisheries, there is no mention of rich freshwater fisheries in Western Ghats!

 

  • A1B Scenario: There is no evidence that India is adopting the A1B scenario which considers growth through a mix of energy sources like solar and wind, etc. We still depend heavily on non-sustainable energy sources like Thermal and large hydro. Hence, this assumption itself is flawed and predictions based on this assumption cannot be considered seriously. In fact, the actual predictions, looking at India’s and Western Ghat’s track record, (with over 10 coal based thermal power plants, several other nuclear power projects, ports and large dams coming up in Maharashtra, concentrated and non-sustainable mines in Goa) could be much more severe.

 6.       Impacts of climate Change on Western Ghats from Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel report and High Level Working Group on Western Ghats Report:

  • Western Ghat Expert Ecology Panel Report: WGEEP does not refer to 4 X 4 Report. It considers A2 and B2 scenarios, and concludes that northern region of Ghats is more sensitive to climate change than southern region. Though the report does not deal with climate change in detail, the recommendations of WGEEP are extremely climate friendly.
  • High Level Working Group Report:  HLWG report has considered 4×4 Report in its analysis and includes a Chapter on Climate Change. This chapter is more effective in dealing with ground challenges than the 4×4 report. However there are some major problems in this.

The HLWG Report states:

a.       “Biodiversity: In the Western Ghats, climate change is expected to increase species losses.  Changes in phenology are expected to occur for many species. Ecosystems dominated by long-lived species (like forests in WG) will be slow to show evidence of change and slow to recover from the climate related stress

b.      Water, Irrigation and Hydro Power: Impacts of climate change and climate variability on the water resources are likely to affect irrigated agriculture, installed power capacity, environmental flows in the dry season, and higher flows during the wet season, thereby causing severe droughts and flood problems. “It is seen that there is an increase in the moderate drought development   for Krishna, Pennar, and Cauvery  basins, which have either predicted decrease in precipitation or have enhanced level of evapo-transpiration. The maximum water withdrawal takes place from  Godavari and Krishna river basins in Western Ghats in all the years.”

c.       Hydro capacity “is expected to increase, but its share decreases from the total installed capacity by 2100. The slow growth in capacity is due to barriers of high investment requirements and long gestation periods. A number of socio-environmental issues are related to dam construction, flooding of areas, damages to the ecology, and resettlement and rehabilitation of the population.”

Though HLWG dedicates an entire chapter to Climate Change Impacts on Western Ghats, it still does not comment on destructive hydropower projects and such other plans which decrease resilience and adaptation capacities of ecosystems and communities and in fact contributes to climate change by deforestation and methane emissions! In fact, by not opposing projects like 163 MW Athirappilly and 200 MW Gundia, the HLWG report supports projects which have huge potential on increasing climate change impacts[10],[11],[12]

Shockingly, the HLWG report certifies all hydro as green and renewable source of energy, something that even developed countries or UNFCCC does not do.

According to the Second National Communication on Climate Change (NATCOM, 2012), the Western Ghats is expected to experience increase in temperature regimes, rainfall and extreme events due to climate change. There is also a high probability of significant decrease in the duration of the precipitation (NATCOM, 2012). The projected changes in the precipitation may induce changes in the hydrological regimes especially increase in evapo-transpiration and increased runoff .

7.       Way Forward of Water, communities and ecosystems in Western Ghats

India has been witnessing several climate related disasters in the recent years. Instead of going into a ‘climate change or no climate change’ debate, it is time to adopt no-regrets strategies and build climate resilience of communities and ecosystems. Unfortunately, we do not see evidence of decreasing emissions or adopting climate friendly strategies from India, or even other developed countries which support and fun destructive projects in India.  The Clean Development Mechanism introduced by UNFCCC has in fact been supporting and pushing destructive projects in developing countries, while legitimizing pollution in developed countries.

 Some possible measures:

  • Natural ecosystems are resilient in coping with climate change challenges: natural ecosystems like rivers, streams, forests need to be protected for their resilience to climate change impact as well as the goods and services they provide to local communities, who are most vulnerable and least able to cope with the climate change implications.
  • Free flowing rivers are more resilient than their dammed counterparts: Free flowing rivers in western Ghats need to be protected on priority
  • Fragmented Forests are more vulnerable to climate change impacts: Deforestation and fragmentation of forests in Western Ghats should be avoided at all costs. Large Hydro power, irrigation projects, mini hydel, mines, hills station projects affecting forests should be dropped urgently. Local projects should be considered only with free, prior and informed consent of the communities. All projects related t the mega Inter Linking of Rivers in the western Ghats should be dropped, including Par Tapi Narmada, Damanganga Pinjal, Nethrawati, Hemawati, Pamba, Achankovil, among others.
  • Old and unsafe large dam projects like the Mullaperiyar and others should be considered for decommissioning as recommended by WGEEP.
  • The diversion of east flowing rivers to the west in Maharashtra should be reversed in a time bound manner and no more such projects should be considered.
  • All projects in Western Ghats: large or small should be brought under the ambit of environmental clearance which should look specifically at climate change impacts on these projects and should also require FPIC.
  • Community water harvesting systems, traditional water harvesting systems, watershed measures need to be encouraged. Western Ghats is rich in these examples
  • Efficient and water saving measures like System of Rice Intensification should be adopted for the entire Ghat region.
  • Recommendations of WGEEP need to be implemented urgently
  • Most importantly, communities need to be made an integral part of decision making surrounding natural resources. Currently, mega projects like Athirappilly, Gundia, Talamba and Tillari dams in Maharashtra, drinking water dams near Mumbai, etc. completely neglect community concerns. Communities will not only face direct impacts of displacement and losing rights, the long term impacts on adaptation and mitigation capacities of communities will also be jeopardized due to destructive projects.

 

Damodar Pujari

with inputs from Parineeta Dandekar

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People

 

 

 

 

 

 


[2] INCAA- Indian Network for Climate Change Analysis.

[4] High Level Working Group Report, Part I, Page 20

[6] Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel Group: WGEEP

[7] Water yield (water crop or runout). The runoff from the drainage basin, including ground-water outflow that appears in the stream plus ground-water outflow that bypasses the gaging station and leaves the basin underground. Water yield is the precipitation minus the evpotranspiration. (http://water.usgs.gov/wsc/glossary.html)

[8] HLWG Report, Part 1, Page 24

Western Ghats

Prof. Madhav Gadgil says Empower the panchayats to protect environment

“At the ground level people are really interested and they want to get involved and our report if nothing else, seem to have serve the purpose of triggering such kind of an interest” said Prof. Madhav Gadgil who delivered a lecture on “Democracy and ecology in contemporary India” at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) on 17th July 2013. His lecture was part of the public lecture series on ‘Science Society and Nature’ and the event was attended by more than 400 people, the second highest audience NMML has witnessed for public lecture as Director Mahesh Rangarajan revealed at the end of the lecture. The lecture was chaired by Jairam Ramesh, the former Minister of Environment and Forests and currently the minister for Rural Development and also in charge of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Prof. Gadgil in his lecture presented several case studies through which he showed how in the name of ‘development’ only lip service has been paid to the environmental norms and all democratic processes have been sidelined. Dr. Gadgil also shared his experiences of working for the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (the report submitted by this panel can be accessed here – http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/wg-23052012.pdf) which was formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to study the ecological and environmental concerns of the Western Ghats under his aegis.

Talking about iron mining in Goa, Prof Gadgil said the government of Goa even does not have any account of how much ore has been extracted by the mining contractors, leaving aside environmental concerns. Bringing the issue of unprecedented dam construction in Western Ghats, he gave the example of Athirappilly dam in ChalakudyRiver in Kerela which was the eight dam proposed in the river. There was a clear violation of Forest Rights Act, as construction of this dam would lead to displacement and subsequent extinction of the ‘primitive tribal’ community named Kadar. The government officials were claiming that if this dam was not constructed Kerela would starve for electricity. But a detailed presentation by RiverResearchCenter, Kerela covering technical, economic and social aspects of the proposed dam showed this dam was not viable as there would be not be sufficient water left in the river for this dam as the water would already be harnessed in the seven upstream dams. The government officials, who were claiming that Kerela would go power hungry, had no reply to this.

Presenting the case of Plachimada village in Perumatti Panchayat in Palakkad district of same state, he said that Coca Cola Company had not paid any compensation that it was supposed to pay to the farmers of Plachimada as ordered by the Supreme Court. Coca Cola was also supposed to pay a tax of Rs 60 cores to the government of Kerela but the government had surprisingly given tax exemption of Rs 6 crores to the company. In both these examples he showed how the acts of democratically elected government were actually against people and environment. But he hailed the Plachimada struggle against Coca Cola as a ray of hope since this was a struggle led by a Panchayat, a local level democratic institution which brought a multi-national company to its knees. He also pointed out how law and order mechanism of state had been used to suppress people’s protests against illegal pollution in Lotte, in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.

Throughout his lecture Dr. Gadgil strongly argued for decentralization of power in order to protect ecology and environment. He mentioned about the powers given in the hands of the local bodies through the 73rd and 74th amendment of the constitution of India. He said that there are several laws and policies e.g. Bio-logical Diversity Act (2002), National Gene Funds which talked about participation of citizens in the decision making but this was never implemented on the ground. He said that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) documents and the whole environmental clearance process should be reconsidered and reviewed (a press release on the functioning of Expert Appraisal Committee which grants environment clearance termed the committee as Expert Approval Committee  – https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/analysis-of-moefs-eac-on-river-valley-projects-the-expert-approval-committee-has-zero-rejection-in-six-years/).

Taking the case of mining in Goa, he said that his team of the Ecology Expert Panel reviewed EIA documents of 75 mines and found that all the mines had made fraudulent statements about how the mines would impact the rivers and rivulets. There were EIA documents of these mines which even denied the existence of perennial streams in the hill plateau where these mines existed. In one case when he wrote to one of the mine managers about the existence of a famous stream near that mine, but the reply was that since there were no blue lines in the geological map of Goa, there are no streams.

He stressed on the need to engage local people in the decision making process and increase dissemination of information. He took the example of ‘Australian River Watch’ programme where the citizens are trained to monitor the health of a river just by looking at the bio-logical indicators. He opined that India should take lessons from this and should initiate such programmes. He said that in our democracy we have many possibilities of engaging in decision making. He ended his speech by saying that for India to progress, India should take bottom up approach and strengthen its democracy, rule of law, scientific temperament and traditional ecological knowledge.

 

Q&A session brought out more issues – The question-answer session which followed the lecture also brought several important issues in to the foray. Answering a question about how much scientific peoples’ knowledge is, he said that one must understand that peoples’ knowledge is historical and locality specific and traditional. So the people of a certain locality would know better about the ecology and environment of a specific place rather than experts or engineers. Here again he emphasized on the need to include of common people in the decision making process.    

Answering a question about the climate change impacts in the Western Ghats, he said that there are no immediately visible impacts of climate change in Western Ghats. But he said that Himalayan range already had visible impacts of climate change in the form of glacier melting and increased precipitation. But he warned that Western Ghats will surely have climate change impacts in the future.

When asked about his opinion on the future of Western Ghats if the diluted version of his report, i.e. Report of the High Level Working Group headed by Dr Kasturirangan (A blog that compares Kasturirangan and Gadgil Panel report can be found here – https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/how-much-does-the-kasturirangan-committee-understand-about-water-issues-in-western-ghats/) gets accepted by the government, Dr. Gadgil laughingly said that he knew that his report would not be accepted but he was sure that Kasturirangan’s report would also not  be implemented (A letter by Prof Gadgil on Kasturirangan committee can be found here: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/prof-madhav-gadgil-writes-to-dr-kasturirangan/). But he expressed his surprise on the fact that after his report, people are really awakened and they are now paying attention to these issues. He is happy to see that at the people in the ground level are really interested to know about the environmental issues. He said that the report by his group, had served the purpose of triggering this interest if not anything else. He expressed his optimism about the report. (SANDRP comment on Kasturirangan Committee submitted to MoEF can be found at: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/comments-on-hlwg-report-submitted-to-ministry-of-environment-and-forests/)

Talking about gender imbalance he narrated an experience of 1984 of a Zila Parishad in Uttar Kannada district in Karnataka. There he organized a meeting of all the Zila Parishad members to know their views on environmental issues in their zila (district). In that meeting it was mainly the women members who vociferously talked about the environmental concerns and they gave excellent feedback on the issue. He added that from his experience of working on such issues all these years, he has found that in the local elected bodies it is the women members who are more concerned with environmental issues.

Answering a question regarding dam construction in northeast he said that very less knowledge is available about the geology of young HimalayanMountain. Giving the example of the recent Uttarakhand disaster he said that one of renowned environmentalist from the state, Dr. K. S. Valdiya have been completely ignored and was never consulted for any of the developmental activity in the state even though he has written extensively about the geology of the hilly state. This is actually ignoring scientific knowledge about the area and he expressed his fear that similar things might be happening in the northeast as well.

Answering a question about recent flood devastation in Uttarakhand, he said that from Dr. K. S. Valdiya what he had come to know is that lawless and a mindless construction activity like dhabas and hotels, in the river bed of Mandakini in Uttarakhand is one of the major reasons for the increased amount of devastation in the recent flood. He said that traditionally the people of Uttarakhand used to construct houses far from the river in order to save themselves from the fury of floods. He was also informed that for hydroelectric dam the residences of project engineers and labour have been constructed at wrong places and in the recent floods these constructions must have been affected (a detailed report on Uttarakhand floods is available here – https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/uttarakhand-deluge-how-human-actions-and-neglect-converted-a-natural-phenomenon-into-a-massive-disaster/).

Answering a question about whether inter-linking of rivers in justified or not and if environmental movements have taken a view of ‘changelessness’, Professor Gadgil said he is not sure whether environmental movements are trying to suppress debate and pushing for only one kind of debate, which is undermining scientific spirit. Regarding inter-linking of rivers, he said that all the pros and cons should be thoroughly studied and then only the decision should be taken. However what he has been informed by Dr. K. S. Valdiya that those who are in favour of pushing through the projects are often suppressing all kinds of debates. Here he brought the issue of Athirappilly dam again and said that River Research Centre which had been long talking about the pros and cons of the project, their voices had been suppressed. He said that if environmentalists are trying to suppress the debate then that is clearly wrong but he has got no evidence of that. But he has seen evidences of things happening in the other way round where project proponents are suppressing questioning of project proposals.

On a question regarding faster growth versus sustainable growth, he said that if faster growth is genuinely leading to employment generation and improve quality of life, then following the path of faster growth is right.  But if this is not happening, he said there were many evidences that faster is obviously not better. He ended the question answer session by quoting a German proverb which said ‘if you are running in the wrong direction then it is better to run slowly than fast.’

Concluding Remarks by Former MoEF – Jairam Ramesh in his concluding remarks highlighted couple of points which Prof. Gadgil has raised. He said that the greatest contribution of the work done by Prof. Gadgil is that it had brought high levels of ecological sensitivity which is grounded in the primacy of local democratic institutions and anchored in  a belief on the scientific method. He said for the younger generation Prof. Gadgil is a role model. But he also points out that as a democracy India has to make a choice between growth and environmental concerns and he warned against the romanticization with environmental movements. He pointed out that India faces a unique challenge of adding 10 million jobs to its labour force every year. He opined that India cannot choose between faster or sustainable growth but India’s growth has to be faster and sustainable. The responsibility of the scholars, activists and government here, according to him is to find ways and means to reach this. The twin pillars to reach this have to be what Prof. Gadgil has mentioned in his talk – 1. Organized skepticism or the respect for the scientific methods and  2. Respect for full functioning of democratic institutions at all levels, from bottom to the top. Emphasizing on the need for laws to implement environment policies in a fast growing economy, he said that Indian Parliament has passed some of the most progressive laws in the world but it is in the implementation and enforcement of these laws where India has failed again and again.

Parag Jyoti Saikia (meandering1800@gmail.com)

Ministry of Environment and Forests · Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand Disaster: MoEF should suspend Clearances to Hydropower projects and institute enquiry in the role of HEPs

Letter to MEF:

Suspend ECs to Hydropower Projects in Uttarakhand

Institute independent enquiry into the role of HEPs in increasing the disaster

in Uttarakhand

July 20, 2013

To

1. Union Minister of State (IC) of Environment and Forests

Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex,

Lodhi Road, New Delhi11003

2. Secretary,

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests

Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex,

Lodhi Road, New Delhi11003

Respected Minister and Secretary,

Sub: Suspend ECs to Hydropower Projects in Uttarakhand

Institute independent enquiry into the role of HEPs in increasing the disaster

in Uttarakhand

1. Uttarakhand Disaster and Hydropower projects It is now beyond doubt that existing and under construction hydropower projects in Uttarakhand have played a significant role in increasing the proportions of disaster in Uttarakhand this June 2013. Here are a few examples just to illustrate:

Þ    Srinagar HEP This 330 MW project under construction had been illegally dumping the muck into the river or piling heaps on the slope without an adequate retaining wall. Moreover, it is learnt that the project closed the gates of the dam on the evening of June 16, 2013, but opened them up suddenly in the early hours of next morning, which led to flooding of hundreds of houses and buildings in the downstream Srinagar town. The piled muck heaps were washed into the town.  The town was submerged in not only water, but also 10-30 feet of muck. The project itself has suffered damages.

Þ    Singoli Bhatwari and Phata Byung HEPs on Mandakini river The 99 MW Singoli Bhatwari and the 76 MW Phata Byung HEPs are both under construction projects on Mandakini river in Rudraprayag district. Both projects have been illegally dumping muck along the river banks, which was carried by the river to the downstream villages and towns upto Rudrapayag and beyond. Both the projects have suffered severe damages. Water levels in the MandakiniRiver rose 30 to 40 feet at various locations, destroying roads, private and public properties. All bridges downstram of the S-B project were washed away snapping links across the river and causing enormous hardships to the local people, rescue, relief anf rehabilitation efforts.

Þ    Vishnuprayag HEP on Alaknanda River The operators of the 400 MW project did not open the gates in time, leading to the reservoir behind the gates filled with boulders, see before and after photos at: http://matuganga.blogspot.in/2013/06/press-note-30-6-2013.html. The river than bypassed the project and created a new path as can be seen in the photos, firstly, creating a huge flash flood in the downstream area and also eroding the banks and the road. Lambagad market and  Govindghat township have suffered massive destruction of private property and public property, including the bridge to the Hemkund Sahib trek, endangering the lives of pilgrims and tourists.

Þ    Maneri Bhali I and II Due to lack of protection wall and lack of timely opening of the gates, the people residing on the banks of the project suffered huge flood disaster, large number of houses were washed away and lives lost. Maneri Bhali I is itself damaged and yet to start generation, even Maneri Bhali II started generation only after July 12, 2013.

Þ    Dhouliganga HEP This 280 MW Dhouliganga HEP of NHPC is also being held responsible for floods in the downstream area, the power house of the project itself was submerged and project is yet to start generation.

Þ    Small HEPs A large number of small HEPs have suffered damages and are also being held responsible for increased disaster impacts. Such projects include 4 MW Kaliganga I and 10 MW Kaliganga II, 9.5 MW Madhyamaheshwar HEP, 5 MW Motighat HEP, Assiganga I and II HEPs, among others. We have been urging the MoEF to amend the EIA notification to include all hydro projects above 1 MW under category B1 so that they all have EIAs, EMPs, ECs, EAC sanction and public consultation process. Kindly make this change urgently.

For further details about existing, under construction and proposed hydropower projects in Uttarakhand, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/uttarakhand-existing-under-construction-and-proposed-hydropower-projects-how-do-they-add-to-the-disaster-potential-in-uttarakhand/.

2. List of Uttarakhand Hydropower projects with EC on the MoEF webiste As per the legal norms under the EPA 1986 and EIA notifications of 1994 and Sept 2006 (both are relevant since some of the projects got clearance under earlier notification), the developers are supposed to send six monthly compliance reports to MoEF and it is also legal obligation of MoEF to put such compliance reports on the MoEF website, see section 10(i) and (ii) of the EIA notification of Sept 2006. It is very important to note that these reports are supposed to reflect the extent to which the projects are complying with the conditions of environment clearance and environment management plans. These reports are an important mechanism for MoEF to know about the status of compliance of the projects. A perusal of the Environment clearance site of the MoEF (See: http://environmentclearance.nic.in/Search.aspx) and looking for the Uttarakhand river valley projects granted Environment clearance, we find that the site displays a list of seven hydro projects, in which since Srinagar project figures twice, the site effectively contains only six names. In the first place this is the first illegality of MoEF, since this is not a complete list. To illustrate, the 76 MW Phata Byung HEP under construction on Mandakini river does not figure on this, there are other projects too that does not figure on this list. We urge MoEF to kindly put up the full list here and also fix responsibility for this legal lapse for not putting up full list.

3. Compliance reports of Under Construction of HEPs not available Since full list of under construction HEPs of Uttarakhand is not displayed on MoEF website, the MoEF is also unable to fulfill its legal duty of putting up compliance reports. Even among the project displayed on the MoEF website, latest compliance report is available only for one project, namely Singoli Bhatwari HEP (it is file of massive size at 30 MB, most people wont be able to download this, MoEF should ask for file size of 1 MB or below and upload them in smaller size segments). So for the rest of the projects there is no compliance report on the MoEF website. This is clearly a serious violations on the part of the MoEF and MoEF needs to urgently hold accountable those who are responsible for this serious legal lapse. The MoEF also needs to take urgent action against those that have not submitted the reports as required, suspension of their environment clearance can be the first step.

4. Suspend Environment Clearance of the projects prime facie responsible for disaster damages MoEF should urgently suspend environment clearance of those projects that have been found to be prime facie responsible for the damages. We urge MoEF to suspend the clearances of following projects: Singoli Bhatwari, Phata Byung, Srinagar (all under construction projects), Vishnuprayag, Dhouliganga, Maneri Bhali I and II (all operating projects), for the reasons described in para 1 above. As a direct consequence there off, MoEF should also ask these projects to suspend their work including repair and reconstruction work till further orders. These are also required from the point of view of future safety of the downstream people and areas and also revisit the features of the projects from this perspective.

Such suspension is also necessary since the projects need a review considering that following issues have not been considered by giving clearances to the projects:

1. Change in climate due to HEPs leading to, among other changes, more erosion and landslides, more irregular rainfall patterns, more violent cloudbursts.

2    Inadequate assessment of landslide impacts of the project by GSI and MoEF.

3    The only norm for use of explosives has been made by Director General of Mines Safety for mines and pucca houses. These norms are being mindlessly applied to the fragile Uttarakhand hills and structures there.

4    Impact on forests of explosives via (1) losening of soil; (2) depletion of aquifers.

5    Impact on global warming by deforestation and depletion of aquifers.

6    Impact of project on disaster potential and implied cost of disaster.

7    Reservoir Induced Seismicity. NCSDP only looks at the safety of the dam structure. There is not agency that looks into the impact on the area, including hills, forests, water sources, houses and other structures.

8. The performance of the projects in view of changing climate, receding glaciers, possibilities of increased flashfloods, landslides and so on.

5. Institute credible, independent enquiry MoEF should urgently institute credible, independent enquiry into the disaster impacts due to the wrong and illegal functioning of the projects mentioned in first para above, including the impacts on people, their lives and property, on the property of the state and other institutions. This should be done on urgent basis so that an assessment of the existing situation can be done urgently before the ground realities change significantly and while the memory of the events are fresh in everyone’s mind.

6. Change EIA notification to include all hydro projects above 1 MW As noted in last bullet points in para 1 above, we urge the MoEF to amend the EIA notification to include all hydro projects above 1 MW under category B1 so that they all have EIAs, EMPs, ECs, EAC sanction and public consultation process.

7. Change EIA notification to include commissioned projects to send six monthly compliance reports and also undergo 5 yearly review For example, in US, the Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission has detailed regulations as to what happens once a project undergoes such emergency situation, see: http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/gen-info/regulation/dam-safety.asp. This includes, “Every 5 years an independent consulting engineer, approved by the Commission, must inspect and evaluate projects with dams higher than 32.8 feet (10 meters), or with a total storage capacity of more than 2,000 acre-feet (2.5 million cubic meters)… The Commission staff also evaluates the effects of potential and actual large floods on the safety of dams. During and following floods, the Commission staff visits project dams and licensed projects, determines the extent of damage, if any, and directs any necessary studies or remedial measures the licensee must undertake.”

Most hydropower projects of Uttarakhand would come under above description and MoEF as a regulator should be following similar review process for all projects sanctioned by it every five years and also ensure that even projects once commissioned also send six monthly reports to MoEF ensuring compliance of the norms. Such a mechanism has also been recommended by the BK Chaturvedi committee.

 

Hence we urge MoEF to urgently review the EIA notification to ensure submission of six monthly compliance reports for commissioned projects and also ensure 5 yearly review of the environment clearances.

We will look forward to your urgent response on these issues.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

Endorsed by:

Ravi Chopra, People Science Institute, Dehradoon, psiddoon@gmail.com

Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala, Former professor of IIM Bangalore, Uttarakhand, bharatjj@gmail.com

Prof Prakash Nautiyal Aquatic Biodiversity Unit, H N B Garhwal University, Srinagar, Uttarakhand, lotic.biodiversity@gmail.com

Dr Mohan Singh Panwar, H N B Garhwal University, Srinagar, Uttarakhand mohanpanwar310@yahoo.in

Malika Virdi, Himal Prakriti, Uttarakhand, malika.virdi@gmail.com

E Theophilus, Himal Prakriti, Uttarakhand, etheophilus@gmail.com

K. Ramnarayan, Save the Rivers Campaign and Himal Prakriti,  Uttarakhand, ramnarayan.k@gmail.com

Dr Prakash Chaudhary, Uttarakhand Peoples Forum, drprakashchaudhary@gmail.com

Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan Sangathan, Uttarakhand, bhaivimal@gmail.com

Prashant Bhushan, Senior Supreme Court Lawyer, New Delhi, prashantbhush@gmail.com

11. Neeraj Vagholikar, Kalpavriksh, Pune, nvagho@gmail.com

Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, Delhi, qadeeroy@gmail.com

Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune, manthan.shripad@gmail.com

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

Samir Mehta, International Rivers and River Basin Friends, Mumbai, samir@internationalrivers.org

Valli Bindana, Ganga film maker,  Delhi, vallibindana@gmail.com

Marthand Bindana, Ganga film maker,  Delhi, marthand.bindana@gmail.com

Madhu Bhaduri, Ambassador of India (Retd), Delhi, madhu.bhaduri@gmail.com

Vandana Shiva, Navdanya, Delhi, Vandana@vandanashiva.com

Manoj Mishra, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Delhi, yamunajiye@gmail.com

21. Himanshu Thakkar & Parineeta Dandekar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, 86-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, https://sandrp.in/, ht.sandrp@gmail.com, 09968242798

Copy to: 1. Jt Secretary, MEF

2. Director-IA, RVP, MEF

News coverage:

1. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/power-projects-need-a-closer-look/article4939421.ece

2. Activists blame six hydel projects for disaster in Uttarakhand urge moef to suspend clearance, Business Standard, July 21 2013

Dams

CAG blows the lid off Massive irrigation scam in Andhra Pradesh

 

Summary points:

  • As on March 2012, Rs 80,000 crores spent on the projects under Jalyagnam, which was launched in the year 2004 by the then CM Rajshekhar Reddy, involving 86 projects involving cost of over Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
  • Almost all test checked projects were taken up and contract awarded without obtaining necessary clearances such as investment clearance (24 projects) from Planning Commission, forest clearance (21 projects) and environment clearance (18 projects) from Ministry of Environment and Forests; in principle clearance (16 projects) from CWC and R&R clearance (14 projects) from Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • Out of 74 irrigation projects, 31 were Lift Irrigation Schemes. The power required for these schemes amounted to nearly 54.43 percent of total Installed Capacity of the state and around 30.93 percent of total consumption of the state.
  • Audit scrutiny revealed that state government was yet to approve the draft plan for R&R of over 50 percent of displaced from 546 villages. Out of 281 villages for which the draft R & R plan is yet to be submitted, 206 villages pertain the controversial Polavaram project.
  • CAG noted that while the state government show an extra ordinary commitment in expediting the task of awarding the contract for Spillway (in March 2005) and ECRF dam work (in August 2006) for Polavaram project, it had not even initiated the socio-economic survey of the submergence zone and not yet identified the PAFs.
  • Some of the contractors garnered most of the work packages, largely through cross-formation of Joint Ventures amongst themselves. CAG found several flaws in tendering process such as, awarding contract on single tender basis, keeping qualification criteria fixed for empanelment of contractors at less stringent levels etc.

Jalyagnam, the most ambitious irrigation scheme of Andhra Pradesh has come under severe indictment in a recent performance audit carried out by CAG of India. The report got tabled in Andhra Pradesh assembly on June 21st, the last day of the budget session. The program comprised 86 projects (44 major, 30 medium, 4 flood banks and 8 modernisation works) and was estimated to cost Rs 1.86 lakh crore. While 12 under implementation projects (with an approved cost of Rs 2139 crore) were brought under Jalyagnam with an express aim of expediting their completion, the rest of the projects got sanctioned between 2004-’05 and 2008-’09. The programme aimed at extending irrigation in an ayacut of 97.40 lakh acres and stabilise another 22.53 lakh acres of existing ayacut in parched and drought prone areas of Telangana and Rayalseema. It also promised to provide drinking water to 1/4th of the state’s population and generate 2700 MW of power.

Concrete mixer machine worth Rs 7 Crores Photo:Anil Kumar
Concrete mixer machine worth Rs 7 Crores Photo:Anil Kumar

CAG audits for Andhra Pradesh have been reviewing irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh every year. During the period 2004-2010, it had examined 18 irrigation projects. Almost all of those projects formed a part of Jalyagnam and those audit findings are under discussion by Public Accounts Committee. Those earlier audit reports have raised mainly two concerns: i) the need for building safeguards in the EPC (i.e. Engineering, Procurement and Construction) mode of contracts with regard to variation in scope, specifications, design etc. and ii) the impact of non-acquisition of land and non-obtaining statutory clearances from CWC, MoEF and MoTA before awarding the contracts.

CAG carried out performance audit of 26 out of 74 major and medium irrigation projects, involving a capital outlay of Rs 1.43 lakh crore, taken up under Jalyagnam during June – December 2011 with a focus on irrigation benefits. As on March 2012, Rs 61,498 crore were spent on these projects. Some of these 26 projects had also come audit scrutiny earlier as individual projects or as part of performance audit of AIBP and Godawari Water Utilisation Authority. Those audit findings haven’t been repeated in the present report.

Audit scrutiny of project related documents around feasibility issues revealed that many projects were taken up without adequate planning on ensuring the availability of water and power (in the case of Lift Irrigation Shcmes), and inadequate delineation of the targeted ayacut in some cases. It was especially so, in respect of projects on river Krishna and Pennar, where the water required for successful implementation of the projects is far above the quantity available in these two river basins. The state government was conscious of this aspect and hence made a claim that it proposed to utilise the surplus/ flood flow in the two river basins. CAG audit observation noted that there was evidence in the records made available to audit that the flood data of these rivers were analysed to assess the average number of days that flood flows are available annually. There was also no uniformity in the number of flood days adopted for the designing of the projects that were supposed to use flood flows of Krishna.

National Park Area W Godavari District Photo: Anil Kumar
National Park Area W Godavari District Photo: Anil Kumar

Where is water for the projects? CAG cites an opinion expressed by an expert committee constituted by the state government in July 1997, to examine the feasibility of implementing Galeru Nagari project. This expert committee had stated at that point almost 15 years ago that the number of flood days in Krishna was only 30 per annum that too with only 40 percent dependability. Examined alongside this observation, some of the projects taken up on river Krishna are not viable and this is corroborated by the fact that CWC has returned the project proposals of Galeru Nagari, Veligonda and Srisailam Left Bank Canal projects to state government, stating that the state government had failed to establish clear and firm availability of water on a long term basis for these projects. CAG audit scrutiny also underlined a Planning Commission stipulation that all projects that have inter-state ramifications should be cleared by CWC, but state government had not obtained for these projects as of September 2012. CAG also noticed that there was no evidence in the records produced for audit to show that the proposals in respect of Gandikota-CBR lift scheme and CBR Lingala canal were sent to the CWC at any stage for approval.

Contracts before statutory clearances Not only was it an issue of an abysmally poor planning of Jalyagnam projects, audit scrutiny revealed that four projects were taken up without even feasibility studies and another 11 projects were taken up without preparation of Detailed Project Reports. CAG’s audit scrutiny also revealed that almost all test checked projects were taken up and contracts awarded without obtaining necessary clearances such as investment clearance (24 projects) from Planning Commission, forest clearance (21 projects) and environment clearance (18 projects) from MoEF, in-principle clearance (16 projects) from CWC and R&R clearance (14 projects) from MoTA. The much touted Jalyagnam had clearly bulldozed its way through the environmental regulation regime. It would be informative to find out if Planning Commission, CWC, MoEF and MoTA ever tried to engage the Andhra Pradesh state government to abide by the laws of the land. If this is not an example of brazen disregard for laws unleashed by development intoxication, where else shall we look?

As per annexure 3.1 in the audit report even as of July 2012 the following projects had not received Forest Clearances even as contracts for works on the same were awarded for quite some time now: Uttar Andhra, Galeru Nagari, Somasila Swarnmukhi Link Canal, Somasila Project, Rajiv Dummugudem, Pranahita Chevella, Dummugudem NS Tail pond, Telugu Ganga, Handri Neeva, Veligonda, Komaram Bheem, Kanthanapally, Devadula and Yellampally.

The same annexure states that following projects had not received Environment Clearance as of July 2012: Venkatnagaram, Uttar Andhra, SomasilaSwarnamukhiLinkCanal, Gandhikota – CBR Lift, CBRLingalaCanal, Pranhita Chevella, Dummuguddem NS Tail pond and Kanthanpally.

55% of AP power for Lift Irrigation Schemes? Out of 74 irrigation projects, 31 are Lift Irrigation Schemes. The power required for these projects, taken up over the river Krishna and Godavari, works out to be nearly 54.43 percent of total installed capacity of the state, and around 30.39 percent of the total consumption of the state! Andhra being a power deficit state, providing the requisite power to operate these schemes would pose a big challenge for the state government and expose the wisdom of mad push for the Jalyagnam.

The Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode of contracting, currently the system followed by many governments for time bound execution of the project and minimising the risks to state, as adopted by state government did not ensure commensurate benefits to the State. Audit scrutiny noticed that several contracts were awarded on a single tender basis, and sufficient time was not given to ensure fair competition. Technical sanctions were obtained after the receipt and opening of bids in several cases. Audit also found cases where finalisations of Iinternational Bench Mark values were delayed and post tender changes to INMs were allowed.

MEIL Company got as many as 28 packages worth Rs 36,916 crore by entering into joint ventures with 23 companies. SEW construction company also garnered 51 packages worth Rs 25,369 crore by entering into JV with 20 different companies. Maytas, which was in the hands of Ramalinga Raju’s son Teja Raju during 2004-10, had successfully grabbed 28 packages worth Rs 23,186 crore by entering into joint venture with 17 companies. CAG also pointed that MEIL, AAG, BHEL and ABB companies were not in the original empanelled list but have teamed up with several empanelled firms to obtain contracts under open category.

No concern for Rehabilitation A program that was taken up and marketed all around in a mission mode to fast track the irrigation projects proceeded at snail pace when it came to ensuring resettlement and rehabilitation of affected people. Audit scrutiny revealed that state government was yet to approve the draft plan for R&R of over 50 percent of displaced from 546 villages. Out of 281 villages for which the draft R & R plan is yet to be submitted, 206 villages pertain the controversial Polavaram project. The Commissioner, R&R stated in a reply dated July 2012 that the government had prioritised 191 villages in different irrigation projects as of March 2012, and all the activities in this regard will have to be completed within the next two to three years. CAG was not quite convinced with this explanation and noted that “the reply confirms that Government is unable to complete even the planning process, despite expiry of the original agreement periods, for a majority of the projects”.

Photo: Tony Stewart
Photo: Tony Stewart

Further, provision of houses for the populated slated to be affected by the projects was abysmally slow, with just about 13 percent progress in constructing houses for these families. In respect of nine projects, namely Pulichintala, Veligonda, Bheema, Nettempadu, Tarakaram Tirth Sagar, Neelwai, Kalwakurthy, Handri Neeva and Devdula; as against 23166 houses contemplated, not a single house was completed as of March 2012! Further, in two projects, namely Polavaram and Yelampally involving five districts, the progress in completion of houses was only marginal.

Photo: Tony Stewart
Photo: Tony Stewart

Polavaram CAG indicted the controversial Polavaram project, which involved submergence of 277 villages, affecting 42,712 Project Affected Families with 131045 persons in 3 districts in Andhra Pradesh, apart from affecting 2335 PAFs with 11766 persons from 4 villages in Chhatisgarh and 1002 PAFs with 6316 persons from 8 villages in Odisha for visible delay in R & R activity. CAG noted that while the state government show an extra ordinary commitment in expediting the task of awarding the contract for Spillway (in March 2005) and ECRF dam work (in August 2006), it had not even initiated the socio economic survey of the submergence zone and had not yet identified the PAFs. Audit scrutiny also found out that the first phase of R & R activity, which was due for completion by June 2008, was not completed even as of March 2012. Even those 9 villages that are situated in close vicinity of the dam have not been shifted as noted by the audit. The state government has resettled only 277 families with 1136 persons so far despite incurring expenditure worth Rs 108 crore on R & R. Thus the progress on R & R front in Polavaram was a mere 5 percent during the last seven years. Isn’t it time for social scientists and researchers who have worked on the issue of displacement and rehabilitation to ask why is it that in projects after projects we witness that rehabilitation work is almost never carried out pari passu with civil construction work, let alone it being completed prior to embarking on the stages of construction!

Papi Hills National Park. Photo: Anil Kumar
Papi Hills National Park. Photo: Anil Kumar

However, when it came to acquire land for the projects the state government appeared to be trying to put up a brave performance! CAG audit revealed that out of 9.19 lakh acres of land required for projects, state government had acquired 5.97 lakh acres (i.e. almost 65 percent).

Common Command Area
Common Command Area

CAG also noted that delays completion of projects, along with changes to the specification and scope of work pursuant to detailed study and investigation and designs, pushed up the costs by Rs 52,116 crores compared to the origination sanction.

This performance audit points at how Jalyagnam that was used by the successive regimes in Andhra Pradesh to build a grandiose image rang hollow on the issue of due diligence in planning, showing due regards to the environmental regulations and dealing with the displaced people sensitively. It drives home the message that citizens must probe into the lofty claims churn out by propaganda machinery of the state. Will citizens start asking some tough questions on what plagues irrigation sector in India?

Bigger than Maharashtra Irrigatoin scam? From the figures available so far, it seems to be larger than the irrigation scam of Maharashtra. Will the media  take this up with equal zeal as they took up the case of Maharashtra irrigation scam and do persistent investigations into specific projects, specific irregularities, specific contracts, specific contractors, specific links of contractors with politicians, specific failure of regulatory agencies?

Himanshu Upadhyaya  (He is a research scholar at Centre for Studies in Science Policies, JNU, New Delhi)

References:

http://saiindia.gov.in/english/home/Our_Products/Audit_Report/Government_Wise/state_audit/recent_reports/Andhra_Pradesh/2012/Report_2/Report_2.html

http://saiindia.gov.in/english/home/Our_Products/Audit_Report/Government_Wise/state_audit/recent_reports/Andhra_Pradesh/2012/Report_2/Appendices.pdf

Arunachal Pradesh · Assam · brahmaputra

Brahmaputra – The Beautiful River or The Battleground?

Capture 3

The Brahmaputra River, geologically is the youngest among the major rivers in the world yet it is known as a moving ocean. The river Brahmaputra travels 2880 km from its origin in the young Himalayan range through the Tibet and India and finally merges with the sea in Bangladesh by opening its streams like the roots of a large Banyan tree. While traversing through India the river is astonishingly wide at some areas. In Upper Assam near Dibrugarh the river is 16 km wide where as in lower Assam at Pandu, near Guwahati the river is 1.2 km wide but in the immediate downstream it is nearly 18 km wide. Brahmaputra which is mainly a glacier fed river has also the distinction of being the river with highest sediment yield 852.4 t/km2/y in the world and second highest water yield at delta, next only to Amazon.[1]

Origin and Path

The BrahmaputraRiver originates in the Chemayungdung mountain ranges which nearly sixty miles south-east of Mansarovar lake in the MountKailash range in Southern Tibet at an elevation of 5300 m.A spring called Tamchok Khambab spills from the glaciers which later gather breath and volume to become the Tsangpo, the highest river in world.

A Buddhist shrine called a stupa overlooks the Brahmaputra River in southern Tibet. Source: http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-67000/A-Buddhist-shrine-called-a-stupa-overlooks-the-Brahmaputra-River
A Buddhist shrine called a stupa overlooks the Brahmaputra River in southern Tibet.
Source: http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-67000/A-Buddhist-shrine-called-a-stupa-overlooks-the-Brahmaputra-River

Out of its total length of 2,880 km the Brahmaputra covers a major part of its journey in Tibet as Tsangpo. Tsangpo or the BrahmaputraRiver flows 1625 km in Tibet parallel to the main range of Himalayas before entering India through Arunachal Pradesh.

Apart from the name Tsangpo, the Brahmaputra is also known by its Chinese name, Yarlung Zangbo in Tibet.  There are several tributaries of Tsangpo in Tibet. According to Encyclopedia Britannica,  Raka Zangbo (Raka Tsangpo), Lhasa (Kyi) and Nyang Qu (Gyamda) are prominent north bank tributaries where as Nyang Qu (Nyang Chu) is a tributary on the south bank. The Raka Zangbo (Raka Tsangpo) joins Tsangpo in the west of Xigazê (Shigatse) and Nyang Qu (Gyamda) River joins the river from the north at Zela (Tsela Dzong). The Lhasa (Kyi) river flows past the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and joins the Tsangpo at Qüxü.  The right bank tributary Nyang Qu (Nyang Chu) meets the Tsangpo at Xigazê.

Before entering India, the river passes Pi (Pe) in Tibet and suddenly turns to the north and northeast and cuts a course through a succession of great narrow gorges between the mountain Gyala Peri and Namjabarwa (Namcha Barwa) in a series of rapids and cascades.

The Great Bend of Tsangpo where China planning to build world’s biggest hydropower project Source: http://greenbuzzz.net/nature/the-biggest-canyons-in-the-world/
The Great Bend of Tsangpo where China planning to build world’s biggest hydropower project
Source: http://greenbuzzz.net/nature/the-biggest-canyons-in-the-world/

The river then turns south and southwest and flows through a deep gorge across the eastern extremity of the Himalayas with canyon walls that extends upward for 16,500 feet (5,000 meters) and more on each side. This is the celebrated great bend where China has plans to build the world’s biggest hydropower project of 40 000 MW capacity and also divert water from here to the North China, though China is currently denying any such plans.

Siang River Source: https://www.facebook.com/lovely.arunachal/media_set?set=a.117543018322855.21150.100002014725686&type=3
Siang River
Source: https://www.facebook.com/lovely.arunachal/media

The river enters Arunachal Pradesh near Gelling where it is known as the Siang or Dihang. The total length of Siang River is 294.5 km till its point  of confluence  with Dibang and Lohit River. The elevation of Siang river catchment area ranges from 90 m to around 5800 m. In India the total catchment of Siang river up to its confluence with Dibang is 14965.30 sq km.[2]

The SiangRiver meets two other major tributaries of Brahmaputra, Dibang and Lohit in the west of Sadiya, at a place named Kobo. From this confluence point, the river is known as the Brahmaputra till it enters Bangladesh. In India the journey of the river Brahmaputra is 918 km long.

A recent study has shown that Kobo used to be confluence point in 1915.  By 1975 the confluence shifted to a place called Laikaghat which is 16 km downstream of the earlier point of confluence. In 2005 through satellite images it was observed that the confluence point has shifted “19 km farther downstream”.[3]

The river crosses Assam below Dhubri and enters Bangladesh where the river is known as Jamuna and it flows for 337 km. Regarding Brahmaputra’s role in Bangladesh a study writes “The Jamuna is the local name given to the river for its entire length in Bangladesh to the Ganges junction.

Jamuna River in Bangladesh Source: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/India/North/Uttar_Pradesh/Agra/photo322311.htm
Jamuna River in Bangladesh
Source: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/India/North/Uttar_Pradesh/Agra/photo322311.htm

The Brahmaputra-Jamuna has one principal tributary input, the TeestaRiver in the north-west, and two major offtakes on the left bank that are the Old Brahmaputra and the Dhaleswari. The Brahmaputra/Jamuna River contributes ~51% of the water discharge and 38% of the sediment yield to the Padma (Schumm and Winkley, 1994), with the sediment yield being estimated at 590 MT/ yr and the sand fraction contributing 34% of this total (Sarker, 1996).”[4] The Jamuna joins the Ganges at Goalundo Ghat and from here the combined flows of these two mighty rivers are known as Padma which joins Meghna in the downstream. The united stream thereafter known as the Meghna and with this name the river Brahmaputra ends its journey, entering the Bay of Bengal.

Bhutan forms an integral part of the Brahmaputra river basin even though it does not come in the path of the river. In our subsequent blogs we will bring a detail account of Bhutan’s role in Brahmaputra river basin.

 The Brahmaputra River Basin

The Brahmaputra river is an international river and its river basin is spread over four countries Bhutan, Tibet , India and Bangladesh with a total basin area of 5,80,000 sq. km. Out of this total catchment area 50.5% lies in Tibet, 33.6% in India, 8.1% in Bangladesh and 7.8% in Bhutan. For geologist and environmentalist the Brahmaputra is a very unique river because “drains such diverse environments as the cold dry plateau of Tibet, the rain-drenched Himalayan slopes, the landlocked alluvial plains of Assam and the vast deltaic lowlands of Bangladesh.”[5]

Map of Brahmaputra Basin from its origin to its confluence Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmaputra_River
Map of Brahmaputra Basin from its origin to its confluence Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmaputra_River

In India the total basin area of BrahmaputraRiver is 197 316 sq. km. which 5.9% of the total geographic area of the country. In India the river is spread over states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Sikkim.

In India state-wise the drainage area of the BrahmaputraRiver is as follows:

State

Drainage area (sq. km)

% of state area in Brahmaputra basin

Arunachal Pradesh 83 740 100%
Assam 71 216 90.79%
West Bengal 12 585 14.18%
Meghalaya 11 780 52.52%
Nagaland 10 895 65.71%
Sikkim 7 100 100%
Total 197 316

Source: ‘Intregrated Water Resource Development: A Plan for Action’, MoWR, Govt. of India, September, 1999

The Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland portion of the Brahmaputra river basin is mainly covered by mountain ranges and narrow valleys. Meghalaya part of the basin is majorly covered by hills where as Assam and West Bengal are mostly plain areas.

Politically in India the basin is spread over 22 parliamentary constituencies (2009) comprising 12 in Assam, 4 in West Bengal, 2 in Arunachal Pradesh, 2 in Meghalaya, 1 in Sikkim and 1 in Nagaland.

Projected Water Use for Diverse Purposes in the Brahmaputra Basin

Catchment Area 197 316 km2
Population (1991 census) 29.1 million
Surface-Water Potential (Av Annual) 629 km3/year
Utilisable Surface Water 24 km3/year
Total Replenishable Ground Water (Av. Annual) 26.55 km3/year
Natural Groundwater Recharge from Rainfall 25.72 km3/year
Estimated Utilisable Flow excluding Ground Water 21 km3/year

Source: ‘Integrated Water Resource Development: A Plan for Action’, MoWR, Govt. of India, September, 1999

Tributaries of Brahmaputra

Sub-basin map of Siang River Source: Environment Assessment Report Siang Basin In Arunachal Pradesh, Interim Report June 2012
Sub-basin map of Siang River
Source: Environment Assessment Report Siang Basin In Arunachal Pradesh, Interim Report June 2012

Studies have stated that the Brahmaputra river in its entire course receive water from a large number of tributaries. A study called “Study of Brahmaputra River Erosion and Its Control” done by IIT Roorkee[6] stated “the Brahmaputra receives as many as 22 major tributaries in Tibet, 33 in India and three in Bangladesh.” However this study did not mention anything about the river in Arunachal. We have already mentioned about the few of the tributaries Tibet. In Arunachal the major tributaries of Siang River are Ringong Asi, Yang Sang Chhu, Sigong/ Sirapateng, Niyikgong, Angong, Simang, Yamne, Siyom, Yargyap, Hirit Korong.[7]

In the course of journey through Assam from east to west, some of the important tributaries of the BrahmaputraRiver which join the river on the north bank are Lohit, Dibang, Subansiri, Jiabharali, Barnadi, Puthimari, Pagladia, Beki, Manas, Ai, Gabhoru, Chompawati, Sankosh, Raidhak, Torsa, Teesta etc. Burhidihing, Desang, Dikhow, Jamji, Bhogdoi, Kakdonga, Dhansiri, Kopili, Kolong, Sonai, Digaru, Bharalu, Krishnai, Dudhnoi are the major tributaries on the left bank. The actual number of rivers and rivulets which joins the mighty river is much larger than this list. In subsequent blogs we will try to go into details of some of the tributaries of the river Brahmaputra.

Hydrology of Brahmaputra

For the river Brahmaputra the average annual flow (water discharge) throughout Assam vary from 8500 to 17000 cubic meters per second. At Pandu Ghat near SaraighatBridge the average annual floods recorded was 16,000 cubic meters per second. During floods water discharge reaches its peak and the yearly average peak flow recorded was approximately 51,000 cubic meters per second.[8] At its mouth in Bangladesh, the average annual discharge of the river is 19,830 cubic meters per second. This is the fourth highest average annual discharge in the world. For the river Brahmaputra the highest daily discharge was recorded in August 1962 at Pandu which was 72,726 cubic meters per second. The lowest daily discharge at the same place was 1757 cubic meters per second in February 1968.[9]

Satellite image of the river Brahmaputra (2008) just downstream of Guwahati city indicating intense braiding. width of the river at pandu is 1.2 km but donstream is about 18km. Source: ‘Riverbank erosion: a perspective” a presentation by Dr. Bipul Talukdar, Assam Engineering College
Satellite image of the river Brahmaputra (2008) just downstream of Guwahati city indicating intense braiding
Source: ‘Riverbank erosion: a perspective” presentation by Dr. Bipul Talukdar, Assam Engineering College

Though the Brahmaputra has been described as a braided river, recent studies have shown that the river does not fit into the conventional definition of braided river. A recent study states “In the study reach of the upper Assam area, the Brahmaputra appears to be a multichannel and multi-pattern river that has a tendency to very frequently generate ananabranching[10] (Latrubesse, 2008) pattern in decadal scale.” [11]

The Brahmaputra has been widening its (riverbed) size continuously from the last century. Reports from Water Resource Department showed that in Assam the river Brahmaputra was spread over for 4000 sq km in 1920 but in 2008 this has increased to 6000 sq km.[12]

The Brahmaputra along with several of its major tributaries like Subansiri, Jia Bharali, Manas had very high water yields[13]  which are higher than most of the major rivers in the world. The reason behind such high water yield for Dr. D.C. Goswami, one of the renowned environmental scientist from Assam is “High monsoon rainfall in the upper catchments and their steep gradients are considered to be the major factors responsible for the high rates of unit discharge which in turn help generate the high sediment yield from the basin and contribute significantly towards causing drainage congestion in the valley.”[14]

Seismicity and Brahmaputra Basin

The Brahmaputra river basin and its adjoining hill ranges are seismically very unstable because it is located in the Eurasian (Chinese) and Indian tectonic plates. The most severe earthquakes with Richter magnitude 8.7 was recorded twice in the valley, in 1897 and 1950. The latter one particularly had severe impacts on the river Brahmaputra. As a result of this earthquake river bed was raised at least by three meters at Dibrugarh which had increased the flood and erosion intensity of the river. In the opinion of geomorphologists “the region’s active seismicity has a significant impact on the hydro-geomorphic regime of the Brahmaputra system of rivers, causing landslides that result in the natural damming of rivers, flash floods due to the bursting of landslide-induced temporary dams, raising of riverbeds by siltation, fissuring and sand venting, elevation of existing river and lake bottoms and margins, creation of new water bodies and waterfalls due to faulting.”[15]

Climate Regime

The Brahmaputra in its path from snow covered mountains of Himalaya to the deltaic flood plains of Bangladesh covers different climatic regimes. The mean annual rainfall in the Brahmaputra basin excluding the Tibetan portion is 2300 mm.  The distribution of rainfall is different at different parts of the basin. In the southern slopes of Himalaya the rainfall is over 6000 mm but in parts of Nagaland this is 1200 mm. The monsoon rainfall (June to September) contribute 60-70% to the annual rainfall of the basin.[16]

In this basin, areas which are above or equal to the elevation of 1500 m experience snowfall. In the Indian part of Brahmaputra basin there are 610 glaciers which covers an area of 928.91 sq km and the volume of these glaciers are 49.57 cubic km. Out of these 449 glaciers are in Teesta basin and 161 glaciers are in Arunachal.[17]  In the Brahmaputra basin, Himalayan snow and glacial melt waters play a very significant role in water availability and climate change will have severe impacts on this. Climate change will also impact the rainfall and snowfall pattern in the Brahmaputra basin. This issue needs more serious attention and we will come up with more detailed blogs on this.

Bio-Diversity in the Brahmaputra Basin

The Lohit flooplains, immediately dowsntream of Lower Demwe HEP, constitute an Important Bird Area as per international criteria and is also a potential Ramsar site Photo: Neeraj Vagholikar
The Lohit flooplains, immediately dowsntream of Lower Demwe HEP, constitute an Important Bird Area as per international criteria and is also a potential Ramsar site
Photo: Neeraj Vagholikar

The Brahmaputra river basin hosts very rich and unique bio-diversity. The whole of northeastern region is a globally recognized bio-diversity hot spot.  In the Indian territory the total forest cover of the Brahmaputra basin is 1,14,894 sq. km. which is 54% of the total basin area. In the distribution of forest cover among 6 states in Brahmaputra basin, Arunachal Pradesh tops the list with 82.8% forest cover but it is sad that the highest number of hydro-electric dams are planned in this state inviting disastrous impacts for the biodiversity, forests, people and environment. The tally of rest of the five states is as follows – Nagaland (68.9%), Meghalaya (63.5%), Sikkim (38.1%), West Bengal (21.4 %) and Assam (20.6 %).

Besides, the aquatic bio-diversity of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries is also very rich. Here we should also take the case of ‘beel’ or wetlands in the Brahmaputra flood plains which according to experts work as ”ecotonal zones” and ”play an important role in the dynamics of the Brahmaputra ecosystem, as these are natural feeding and breeding grounds for a number of fish species and other aquatic fauna.”[18]

Flood and Erosion

Brahmaputra river basin is known to be very prone to flood and erosion and these two hazards have led to many problems in the basin. In India, out of the eight northeastern states, Assam faces the most severe brunt of flood and erosion. Both flood erosion has been severely affecting the economy as well political, social and cultural milieu of Assam.

Experts opine that natural as well anthropogenic factors lead to devastating floods in northeastern region. “The unique geo-environmental  setting of the region vis-à-vis the eastern Himalayas, the highly potent monsoon regime, weak geological formation, active seismicity, accelerated erosion, rapid channel  aggradations, massive deforestation, intense land use pressure and high population growth especially in the floodplain belt, and ad hoc type temporary flood control measures are some of the dominant factors that cause and/or intensify floods in the Brahmaputra and the Barak basins (Goswami, 1998).”[19] The Brahmaputra river basin is also prone to flash floods and some of the worst flash floods have occurred in the valley in the new millennium.

Along with floods, erosion is also threatening the lives of the people in the state of Assam as it leads to permanent loss of land.  Here we can take the case of the river island Majuli, which had been one of the worst sufferers of the erosion done by Brahmaputra. In 1853 the total area of Majuli was 1129 sq km but it has now reduced to 3.55 sq km.[20]

Ilish fishing, Dauladia, Bangladesh, 2001 Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2011/11/14/142219164/capturing-the-unseen-side-of-bangladesh
Ilish fishing, Dauladia, Bangladesh, 2001
Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2011/11/14/142219164/capturing-the-unseen-side-of-bangladesh

In Bangladesh the Brahmaputra river which known as Jamuna is also infamous for severe floods and erosion. The river carries huge water and sediment discharge in this deltaic region. Because of its geographical setting, Bangladesh is very much dependent on its river for fertile fields and diverse flora and aqua culture but rivers also brings several hazards in the form of floods and erosion. Bangladesh has witnessed severe annual floods but the floods in 1987, 1988, 1998 and 2004 were the most severe ones in recent decades. But studies have shown that, “The people of Bangladesh have adapted their lifestyle for centuries to live with river flooding – frequently moving their temporary bank-side homes, planting on newly emergent river bars, and sometimes raising their homesteads above water level in flood periods (Paul, 1997). However, a growing population, coupled with the expansion of infrastructure and economic development, has resulted in an increase in the intensity of flood damage (FPCO, 1995; Paul, 1997; CPD, 2004). The lives of many millions of Bangladeshi citizens is thus reliant on these rivers, with up to 600,000 people living on the riverine islands and bars alone (Sarker et al., 2003).”[21]

In order to protect people from the fury of floods and erosion the main measure taken in India as well in Bangladesh is the construction of embankments. In Assam the total length of embankment is 4,473.83 km constructed on a total of 130 small and big rivers. But recent reports say that out this, 3376 km embankments are in a vulnerable condition and need immediate strengthening and repair.[22] As a deltaic region Bangladesh too has put its thrust on increasing length of embankments. In 1989 Bangladesh launched an elaborate flood control programme through construction of embankments which was named as ‘Flood Action Plan’. But this plan was vehemently criticized both at national and international level.

Protest against big dams – KMSS (Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti) members protesting in Pandu Ghat in Guwahati against the ship carrying the turbines for the Lower Subansiri project. Source: http://peakwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Lower-Subansiri-turbines-protest.preview.jpg
Protest against big dams – KMSS (Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti) members protesting in Pandu Ghat in Guwahati against the ship carrying the turbines for the Lower Subansiri project.
Source: http://peakwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Lower-Subansiri-turbines-protest.preview.jpg

In order to control the floods in Brahmaputra valley one of the proposed solution is construction of multi-purpose dams. In fact flood control was one of the pretexts for hydro-development in the northeastern region. But the idea that multipurpose dams can lead to flood control along with hydro-power generation is actually contradictory and unviable as seen from experience of such projects. Studies done on some of the biggest multi-purpose river valley projects of independent India, e.g. ‘Unravelling Bhakra’ by Shripad Dharmadhikary, ‘Drown and Dammed’ done on Hirakud by Prof Rohan D’Souza, “One Valley and a Thousand: Dams, Nationalism, and Development, Studies in Social Ecology & Environmental History” on Damodar Valley dams by Daniel Klingensmith have shown how unviable this proposition is. A number of these dams have actually created avoidable flood disasters in the downstream areas due to wrong operation of the dams[23]. In case of the mightly Brahmaputra river, this is likely to prove even greater disastrous considering its characteristics described above.

Today Brahmaputra valley is witnessing severe opposition against hydro-power dams.  The struggle against the Lower Subansiri hydro-electric project can be regarded as milestone. In the Brahmaputra valley the hydropower projects have been opposed also because of the impacts which it will going to have in the downstream as well as on the biodiversity, seismicity, society and culture of one of the most ecological sensitive areas. .

Institutional Mechanism over Brahmaputra in India

The Brahmaputra Board is the foremost body on Brahmaputra established by Government of India under an Act of Parliament i.e. The Brahmaputra Board Act, 1980 (46 of 1980) under the Ministry of Irrigation which now renamed as Ministry of Water Resources. The main task entrusted on Brahmaputra Board is ‘planning and integrated implementation of measures for the control of floods and bank erosion in the BrahmaputraValley and for matters connected therewith.’ Both Brahmaputra and Barak valleys are under the jurisdiction of Brahmaputra Board. Even though this independent board was established to better manage the flood and erosion problem of the two river basins, but its activities have come under severe public criticism. Besides Brahmaputra Board, the State Water Resource Department and Central Water Commission also looks after water issues in the river basin. Recently international funding agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) has come to be associated with flood and erosion control in the Assam but from the experiences of Bangladesh, the advent such agencies must be dealt with precaution.

Brahmaputra Valley as the Point of Confluence for People and Cultures

The Brahmaputra is a dynamic river whose dynamism is not only limited to its physical characters or features of the river, but immersed in social, political, economic and cultural aspects. The Brahmaputra valley has been the space of assimilation for people from different races and the one can find large variety of languages and dialects being spoken in this valley. The northeastern region falls under the Brahmaputra and Barak River basin[24] which is home for more than 166 separate tribes, 160 scheduled tribes and over 400 other tribal and sub-tribal communities and groups, speaking a wide range of languages (Climate Change in India: A 4×4 Assessment, 2010). The northeastern region can also be considered as an ‘ethnological transition zone’ between India and the neighbouring countries of Bhutan, Tibet, Burma and Bangladesh. In this region one can find 220 languages belonging to three language families – Indo-Aryan, Sino-Tibetan and Austric.[25]

Relevance of Brahmaputra for Assam

For Assam, the state located at the center of the northeastern region, the river Brahmaputra paves its way through this state like the lifeline of the state. The river ‘Brahmaputra’ literally means ‘Son of Brahma’. It is also one of the few rivers in India which is regarded as a ‘male’ river. There are several myths and legends about the Brahmaputra’s origin and we will bring those together in our coming blogs.

Bogibeel, the fourth bridge on Brahmaputra is under construction between Dhemaji and Dibrugarh district. Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia
Bogibeel, the fourth bridge on Brahmaputra is under construction between Dhemaji and Dibrugarh district. Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia

In Assam Brahmaputra River is also known by several other names  i.e. ‘Luit’, ‘Siri Luit’, ‘Bor Luit’ ‘Bor Noi’. For the people of Assam, the Brahmaputra is a symbol of great pride due to its ‘moving ocean’ size but this also ignites fear when it rises to its strength during floods. People of Assam have faced difficult times when the river has come to its full strength. Famous singer Jayanta Hazarika wrote, when he formed ‘Xur bahini’ to gather relief for flood victims “Luitor Bolia baan, toloi koloi nu dhapoli meliso, hir hir sowode kal roop dhori loi kaak nu bare bare khediso (Oh the maddening floods of Luit, where are you heading this time. Whom are you chasing again with frightening sound of your waves)”.

But this river is also the source of strength for the people of Assam. Time and again, they have expressed their unity as ‘Luitporia’ or ‘people from the banks of Luit’. The famous cultural icon of Assam, Jyoti Prasad Agarwala wrote in 1942 during Indian Freedom movement “Luitor parore ami deka lora, moriboloi bhoi nai (we are the youth from the banks of Luit and we don’t have any fear of death)”.  For another legendary cultural icon, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika  who is known as the bard of Brahmaputra, the river’s power of destruction was the source which will awaken the people. In his famous song “Bistirno parore” he asked the river – “Sahasro barishar, unmadonar, avigyotare, pangu manobok sawal songrami aru agrogami kori nutula kiyo (with your maddening experience of thousand monsoons, why don’t you arouse the disabled human beings for struggle and progress)”.

This blog is a small step to document the various aspects of the river Brahmaputra. It is the need of the hour since a flood of dams are proposed to submerge the Brahmaputra valley. Chinese plans of dam construction is not very much in the public domain but the impacts of dam construction of in the upstream Tibet will have severe impacts on the Brahmaputra river. Besides, the bogey of Chinese threat to divert the waters of Siang is used by the Indian government to push for rapid dam construction sidelining all the social, environmental, safety, sustainability, climate change concerns and impacts on the river ecosystem. The government very shamelessly has also put aside all the democratic processes to push for rapid dam construction. Though there is no proposal for a dam on the Brahmaputra in Assam, there are proposals to dam its major upstream tributaries.  This upsurge of dams, if they do get constructed will have huge impacts on the Brahmaputra River which are yet not known due to lack of credible projects specific or cumulative impacts assessment studies. These studies should include issues like  the river ecosystem, river bio-diversity, forests and wildlife, climate change, floods and erosion and economic and socio-cultural impacts. However, we are hopeful that the ongoing struggles against such unjustifiable projects will succeed and all these projects won’t come up. Through a series of blogs we will also try to bring together all these different streams of concerns.

Himanshu Thakkar, Parag Jyoti Saikia

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (www.sandrp.in)
Email: ht.sandrp@gmail.com, meandering1800@gmail.com


[1] Lahiri, S.K., Sinha, R., Tectonic controls on the morphodynamics of the Brahmaputra River system in the upper As-sam valley, India, Geomorphology (2012)

[2]EnvironmentAssessmentReport  SiangBasin In Arunachal Pradesh, Interim Report June 2012, Prepared for Central Water Commission(CWC

[3] Lahiri, S.K., Sinha, R., Tectonic controls on the morphodynamics of the Brahmaputra River system in the upper As-sam valley, India, Geomorphology (2012)

[5]GoswamiD.C., “Managing the Wealth and Woes of the River Brahmaputra” available at http://www.indianfolklore.org/journals/index.php/Ish/article/view/449/514

[7]EnvironmentAssessmentReport  SiangBasin In Arunachal Pradesh, Interim Report June 2012, Prepared for Central Water Commission(CWC)

[9] Goswami D.C., “Managing the Wealth and Woes of the River Brahmaputra” available at  http://www.indianfolklore.org/journals/index.php/Ish/article/view/449/514

[10] An anabranch is a section of a river or stream that diverts from the main channel or stem of the watercourse and rejoins the main stem downstream.

[11] Lahiri, S.K., Sinha, R., Tectonic controls on the morphodynamics of the Brahmaputra River system in the upper As-sam valley, India, Geomorphology (2012)

[13] Water yield means volume of water drained by unit area of the basin.

[14] “The Brahmaputra River”, India  by D.C. Goswami and P. J. Das in The Ecologist Asia Vol. 11 No 1 January- March 2003

[15] ibid

[16] ibid

[17] “Water Sector Options for India in a Changing Climate” by Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP, New Delhi, March 2012

[18] ‘Stemming the Flood, Killing Biodiversity’ by Dr. Sanchita Boruah and Dr. S.P. Biswas in The Ecologist Asia Vol. 11 No 1 January- March 2003

[19] Goswami D.C., “Managing the Wealth and Woes of the River Brahmaputra” available at  http://www.indianfolklore.org/journals/index.php/Ish/article/view/449/514

[24]Barak River is located in south Assam and also an international river but smaller than the Brahmaputra.

Western Ghats

Dams in Western Ghats: Nardawe Dam, Sindhudurga, Maharashtra

Through this series,  will be trying to publish issues related to dams in the World Heritage site of Western Ghats. The dilemma of Conservation Vs Development of this ‘most populated biodiversity hotspot in the world’ has been highlighted with the WGEEP and HLWG Report. Through this series, we will try to look at the way in which rivers, forests and communities in the Ghats are being affected by dam construction and to what extent do these dams contribute to development of teh region whihc suffers the impacts.

1. Nardawe Dam, Sindhudurga District, Northern Western Ghats, Maharashtra

Introduction

Nardawe dam is being built on GadRiver in Kanakavali taluka of Sindhudurg district by Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC), under the Water Resources Department, Maharashtra. Gad is a small west flowing river originating from the Western Ghats, meeting the Arabian Sea. According to the White Paper on Irrigation Projects in Maharashtra brought out by the Water Resource Department (WRD) in December 2012, Administrative approval for Nardawe Dam was granted in 1989 for Rs. 32 Crores. Due to a number of delays, the project could not be started for more than a decade. By the third administrative approval in 2007, the sanctioned cost shot up to ₹ 446 Crores.

Rice sowing at Nardawe
Rice sowing at Nardawe Photo: Damodar Pujari

 

A brief reading of the White Paper and actual situation in Maharashtra indicates that this is a typical tale of most dams, where cost and time estimates have been escalated multiple times.

By June 2012, the KIDC has spent ₹ 311 Crores on this project. Costs have escalated despite the fact that canals in the original proposal have been cancelled and converted into 16 ‘Kolhapur Type’ gated weirs (KT Weirs). Its Command area (after the dam completion) is supposed to be 12, 530 ha, through 16 KT weirs. It will store 123.74 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) water .Total submergence of Nardawe Dam is 625 ha which will affect 3849 people from 967 families. 1 village is completely affected (Jambhalgaon) and 4 (Naradawe, Yavateshwar, Bhairavgaon, Durganagar) villages are partially affected. 34.13 ha of identified forests will have to be diverted for the project

Actual work on the project started in 2001.

According to white paper, 61% work on the dam is complete, which includes the earthen dam wall and 10 KT weirs.

This project finds itself mired in violations of several kinds That it is coming from KIDC comes as no surprise. This section of the WRD Maharashtra has been a regular in violating several norms while pushing its projects. KIDC was also found to have indulged in corruption in the case of Konadhane Dam in Raigad, has started work on Dams like Kalu and Balganga without Forest Clearances or rehabilitation plans.

Illegal Work without Environment Clearance The project has a command area more than 10,000 hectares and hence, requires an Environmental clearance according to the EIA Notification of 1994 which was in effect when the construction work for the dam started. Legally, work cannot start on the dam without an Environmental Clearance. In Nardawe, work has been 61% complete even without an Environment Impact Assessment or Public Hearing.

NardaweDam
Work at Nardawe Dam. Photo; Damodar Pujari

Executive Engineer of the Project, Mr Godse, while speaking to SANDRP on the 7th July 2013 accepted that the project has just applied for Terms of Reference (TORs) with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and had started work without an Environment Impact Assessment, Public Hearing or Environmental clearance.

Forest Clearance The project affects 34 ha of identified forest land (वन संज्ञा क्षेत्र) and hence requires Forest clearance from Divisional Forest Office, Bhopal. It does not have final forest clearance. Violating the Forest Conservation Act 1980, work on the project went on, even in Forest area.

Work at Nardawe Dam Photo: Damodar Pujari
Work at Nardawe Dam Photo: Damodar Pujari

The Executive Engineer, while speaking to SANDRP stated that a number of queries have been raised by the Forest Office, Bhopal, one of which is that the project is in vicinity of Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary and may need clearance from National Board for Wildlife too.

Forest Rights Act: Individual and community Rights of people dependent on Forest areas are not yet settled. This is serious as these are private forest lands and there is a strong dependence of people on these forests.

High Level Working Group (HLWG) and Western Ghats Expert ecology Panel (WGEEP) Reports All of the affected villages fall under Ecological Sensitive Areas as per the HLWG report and entire Kanakavali Taluka was considered as Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) – I by WGEEP. WGEEP Report has recommended that no large dams should be built in ESZ 1. According to HLWG Report, peoples’ consultation and resolution are a must prior to starting work in Ecologically Sensitive Areas.

These committees were formed after work on the Nardawe Dam started. However, these reports highlight the high ecological richness of the area. If KIDC had conducted a credible Environment Impact Assessment, as it is legally bound to conduct, these issues could be highlighted before starting work. Current ecological and related social loss could have been avoided.

Officials agree to violations, say that it is more of a norm When SANDRP talked with the Executive Engineer of the project, Mr. Godse on 7th July 2013, he agreed that work on the project is in advanced stage without an Environmental Clearance or Forest clearance in place. As a justification, he said that many projects in Maharashtra indulge in these violations! He said that the project has just applied for TORs for Environmental Clearance with the Ministry of Environment and Forests’. However, the project is yet to come up before the Expert Appraisal Committee of MoEF on River Valley Projects.

Dubious role of EIA Agencies While the Executive Engineer himself agrees that the project has progressed without an Environmental and Forest Clearance in place, The EIA agency for this project, namely Science and Technology Park, Pune[i] did not bat an eyelid while agreeing to do an EIA for this project. They did not point it out to KIDC that applying for an Environmental Clearance when the work is supposedly 61% complete is illegal, neither did they refuse to be a party of such a violation. When SANDRP talked with official from Science and Technology Park involved in this work, he admitted that have visited the region and know that work is at advanced stage. He also agreed that this is a violation and there is little meaning in doing an EIA in such a case. This same agency has worked on EIA Reports of other dams in Konkan region as well.

KT Weirs instead of Canals Letter written by Upper Secretary, Irrigation Department dated 23rd November 1994, claims that the proposal of building RBC (85 km) and LBC (45 km) can generate less irrigated area compared to their length and hence appear to be inefficient in terms of cost as well as irrigation potential. The letter further asks the executive engineer to change the cropping pattern to arecanut and floricultural crops in the command area which require less water which could be supplied from gated barrages through lift irrigation. With this letter as support, canals have been cancelled and KT weirs are being installed, at an increased cost.

Abandoned site office of teh nardawe Dam at Nardawe Photo: Damodar Pujari
Abandoned site office of the Nardawe Dam at Nardawe Photo: Damodar Pujari

 

Issues of rehabilitation and resettlement When a survey was conducted in 1997, it concluded that 967 families were affected by Nardawe Dam. Sixteen years after the survey, villagers say that the number of affected families has grown to 1245. This means that more than 6000 people may be affected by this project. The villages where resettlement will take place are nothing but sections of hill slopes, as I saw for myself.

Figure 5. Santosh Sawant. One of the affected people and non-governmental member on rehabilitation committee at district administration level

Currently, No resettlement has taken place and villagers are not moving out of their homes.

In a bid to force the affected families out from their homes, administration has stopped construction and repairing of basic civic facilities in the affected villages since 2001. No new water connections, repairing of roads and even ZP schools has taken place in the affected villages in order to push the residents accepting lands in resettlement villages.

Response of the administration has been to assert that local opposition has been the main reason behind the delay in the project. Actually, work on the project has been going on irrespective of local protests, morchas or sit-ins, in complete disregard of the local demands and concerns.

In Conclusion According to villagers, KT weirs built downstream the dam are largely unused because of the cropping pattern, which depends mainly on monsoon and availability of groundwater. Before the KT weirs too, the river was used for some seasonal irrigation.

Time and again it has been proved that major and medium irrigation projects are not a solution for Konkan’s agriculture. According to the White Paper, while the ‘Created’ Irrigation potential of a large dam ‘Tillari’ in Sindhudurga is 7,295 hectares, the actual irrigation potential utilized is just 162 ha!

According to Economic Survey Report of Sindhudurg District in 2012 (Please see table below), large and medium projects have performed dismally. Of the total command area of 49878 hectares, the area actually irrigated by major projects is a mere 158 hectares that is 0.31% and for medium projects with command area of 40821 hectares, area irrigated is an unbelievable 82 ha that is 0.2%!

As against this, minor projects seem to have done better with 4619 hectares irrigated in command of 12851 hectares (around 36%).

Performance of water resources projects in Sindhudurg

No Taluk

Small

Medium

Large

Command area Actual irrigated area Command area Actual irrigated area Command area Actual irrigated area
1 Devgad

1205

533

0

0

0

0

2 Vaibhavwadi

770

114

9027

0

0

0

3 Kankavali

2697

453

20652

82

0

0

4 Malvan

2650

1201

0

0

0

0

5 Vengurla

942

313

0

0

0

0

6 Kudal

3298

1218

0

0

26285

0

7 Sawantwadi

904

598

11142

0

0

0

8 Dodamarg

385

189

0

0

23654

158

Total

12851

4619

40821

82

49939

158

Source- District Economic Survey of Sindhudurg, 2012

The region receives more than 2500 mm of rainfall and decentralized rainwater harvesting, watershed management, revival and renovation of traditional irrigation systems like temple tanks and paats can be cost effective, ecologically sustainable, equitable and efficient solution for this region. The entire Sindhudurg district has several small, decentralized traditional irrigation systems like paats. There exist intricate conflict resolution and water sharing arrangements at the community level about using these paats. Sindhudurg is also rich in irrigation through Temple tanks. TempleTanks in Dhamapur and Nerur stand testimony to the fact that even today, these systems are being utilized.

So then, why are projects like Nardawe, which are costly, unviable, ecologically destructive and stemming unrest in the region being pushed and promoted?

The primary motive behind these irrigation project does not seem to be irrigation or public welfare,  for which number of benign options are available. These projects are an easy source profits for contractors, engineers and politicians.  Issues like sustainability, efficiency and equity do not seem to matter for the KIDC or Water Resources Department in Maharashtra.

Nardawe Dam is just one example of the large dam centric water management prevalent in Maharashtra. The Irrigation scam which is still unfolding, has demonstrated how hollow this dependence on large infrastructure projects is. If we weigh the meager benefits of these projects against the ecological, social and economic losses to the local communities, environment and public exchequer, it becomes clear that specifically in Konkan region, large dams like Nardawe have no case.

Damodar Pujari, SANDRP


[i] According to its website (http://www.scitechpark.org.in/): “The Science and TechnologyPark is an institute set up jointly by Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India and University of Pune in the year 1988.”

Disasters · Hydropower · Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand: Existing, under construction and proposed Hydropower Projects: How do they add to the state’s disaster potential?

 

As Uttarakhand faced unprecedented flood disaster and as the issue of contribution of hydropower projects in this disaster was debated, questions for which there have been no clear answers were, how many hydropower projects are there in various river basins of Uttarakhand? How many of them are operating hydropower projects, how many are under construction and how many more are planned? How many projects are large (over 25 MW installed capacity), small (1-25 MW) and mini-micro (less than 1 MW installed capacity) in various basins at various stages?

This document tries to give a picture of the status of various hydropower projects in various sub basins in Uttarakhand, giving a break up of projects at various stages.

River Basins in Uttarakhand Entire Uttarakhand is part of the larger Ganga basin. The Ganga River is a trans-boundary river, shared between India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 kms long river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganga begins at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers and forms what we have called Ganga sub basin till it exits Uttarakhand. Besides Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and Ganga sub basin, other river basins of Uttarakhand include: Yamuna, Ramganga (Western Ramganga is taken as Ramganga basin in this document, eastern Ramganga is considered part of Sharda basin) and Sharda. Sharda sub basin includes eastern Ramganga, Goriganga, Dhauliganga, Kaliganga and part of Mahakali basin.

Destroyed 400 MW Vishnuprayag HEP on Alaknanda. Photo: Matu Jan Sangathan
Destroyed 400 MW Vishnuprayag HEP on Alaknanda. Photo: Matu Jan Sangathan

Existing hydropower projects in Uttarakhand In the table below we have given the sub basin-wise list of existing hydropower projects in Uttarakhand along with their capacities. The list has been prepared based on various sources including Central Electricity Authority, Uttarakhand Jal Vidhyut Nigam (UJVNL), Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Authority (UREDA) and Report of Inter Ministerial Group on Ganga basin.

Existing Hydropower projects in Uttarakhand

 

Projects

Installed Capacity  (MW)

Projects in Alaknanda River Basin

1. Vishnu Prayag (P)

400

2. Tilwara

0.2

3. Soneprayag

0.5

4. Urgam

3

5. Badrinath II

1.25

6. Rajwakti (P)

3.6

7. Tapowan

1

8. Jummagad

1.2

9. Birahi Ganga (P)

7.2

10. Deval (P Chamoli Hydro P Ltd on Pinder)

5

11. Rishiganga (P)

13.5

12. Vanala (P Hima Urja P Ltd Banala stream)

15

13. Kaliganga I (ADB)

4

Alaknanda Total

455.45

Projects in Bhagirathi River Basin

14. Maneri Bhali-1 (Tiloth)

90

15. Maneri Bahli-2

304

16. Tehri St-I

1000

17. Koteshwar

400

18. Harsil

0.2

19. Pilangad

2.25

20. Agunda Thati (P Gunsola hydro Balganga river)

3

21. Bhilangana (P – Swasti)

22.5

22. Bhilangana III (P – Polyplex)

24

23. Hanuman Ganga (P – Regency Aqua)

4.95

Bhagirathi Total

1850.9

Projects in Ganga River sub basin downstream of confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda

24. Chilla

144

25. Pathri

20.4

26. Mohamadpur

9.3

Ganga sub basin Total

173.7

Projects in Ramganga basin

27. Ramganga

198

28. Surag

7

29. Loharkhet (P Parvatiya Power P Ltd Bageshwar)

4.8

30. Kotabagh

0.2

31. Sapteshwar

0.3

32. Gauri

0.2

Ramganga Total

210.5

Projects in Sharda River Basin

33. Dhauliganga

280

34. Tanakpur

94.2

35. Khatima

41.4

36. Chirkilla

1.5

37. Taleshwar

0.6

38. Suringad

0.8

39. Relagad

3

40. Garaon

0.3

41 Charandev

0.4

42. Barar

0.75

43. Kulagad

1.2

44. Kanchauti

2

Sharda Total

426.15

Projects in Yamuna River Basin

45. Chibro

240

46. Dhakrani

33.75

47. Dhalipur

51

48. Kulhal

30

49. Khodri

120

50. Galogi

3

51. Tharali

0.4

Yamuna Total

478.15

Grand Total

3594.85

Note: (P) in the bracket suggests the project is in private sector, throughout this document. The eastern Ramganga river, which is part of Sharda basin, is included in Sharda basin. Where-ever Ramganga river is mentioned in this document, it refers to Western Ramganga, which is a tributary of Ganga.

Alaknanda flowing beyond the destroyed 400 MW Vishnuprayag Project Photo: Matu Jan Sangathan
Alaknanda flowing beyond the destroyed 400 MW Vishnuprayag Project Photo: Matu Jan Sangathan

In the next table we have given available list of existing mini and micro hydropower projects in Uttarakhand, based on UREDA information.

List of projects up to 1 MW under operation:

 

SN Project

Ins Cap (MW)

Dist Basin
1 Milkhet

0.1

Chamoli Alaknanda
2 Bamiyal

*

Chamoli Alaknanda
3 Bursol

0.2

Chamoli Alaknanda
4 Choting

0.1

Chamoli Alaknanda
5 Ghagaria

0.1

Chamoli Alaknanda
6 Ghagaria Extension

*

Chamoli Alaknanda
7 Ghes

0.1

Chamoli Alaknanda
8 Gulari

0.2

Chamoli Alaknanda
9 Niti

0.025

Chamoli Alaknanda
10 Sarma

0.1

Chamoli Alaknanda Nandakini/ Maini Gad
11 Wan

0.05

Chamoli Alaknanda
12 Bank

0.10

Chamoli Alaknanda Pinder
13 Gamsali Bampa

0.05

Chamoli Alaknanda Dhauliganga/Ganesh Ganga
14 Kedarnath II

0.2

Rudraprayag Alaknanda
15 Badiyakot

0.1

Bageshwar Alaknanda
16 Kunwari

0.05

Bageshwar Alaknanda
17 Borbalada

0.025

Bageshwar Alaknanda Pindar/ Chhiyaldi Gad
18 Dokti

0.02

Bageshwar Alaknanda
19 Dior IInd Phase

*

Pauri Alaknanda/ Ganga
20 Chandrabhaga Gad

*

Tehri Bhagirathi
21 Jakhana

0.1

Tehri Bhagirathi Bhilangana/Balganga
22 Gangotri-I

0.1

 UttarKashi Bhagirathi Kedar Ganga
23 Kanwashram

0.1

Pauri Ganga
24 Bilkot

0.05

Pauri Ramganga
25 Dior Ist Phase

0.1

Pauri Ramganga
26 Gogina II

0.05

Bageshwar Ramganga
27 Sattshwar

0.05

Bageshwar Ramganga
28 Toli

*

Bageshwar Ramganga
29 Ramgarh

0.1

Nainital Ramganga
30 Lathi

0.1

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
31 Liti

0.05

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
32 Liti-II

0.05

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
33 Ratmoli

0.05

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
34 Baghar

0.05

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
35 Baicham

0.1

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
36 Jugthana

0.1

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
37 Kanol gad

0.1

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
38 Karmi

0.05

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
39 Karmi -III

0.05

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
40 Karmi-II

0.05

Bageshwar E Ramganga/Sharda
41 Bhikuriya Gad

0.5

Pithoragarh Sharda
42 Kanchauti

*

Pithoragarh Sharda
43 Lamabager

0.20

Bageshwar Sharda Saryu
44 Lamchula

0.05

Bageshwar Sharda Saryu
45 Tarula

0.10

Almora Sharda Saryu/Jataya Ganga
46 Taluka

0.025

Uttarkashi Yamuna Tons/ Gattu Gad
47 Bhadri Gad

0.02

Tehri Yamuna

From http://ahec.org.in/, capacity of some of the projects is as per the UJVNL website. The capacity comes to 3.815 MW for the 41 projects for which capacity is available.

 

5 MW Motigad Project in Pithorgarh District destroyed by the floods. Photo: Emmanuel Theophilus, Himal Prakriti
5 MW Motigad Project in Pithorgarh District destroyed by the floods. Photo: Emmanuel Theophilus, Himal Prakriti

Based on above two tables, in the following table we have provided an overview of operating hydropower projects and their capacity, with basin wise and size wise break up.

Uttarakhand has total of 86 existing hydropower projects, with total installed capacity of close to 3600 MW. At least eleven of these projects are in private sector with total capacity of over 503 MW. An additional about 1800 MW capacity is in central sector. It means that majority of the power generation capacity in the state is not owned by the state and there is no guarantee how much of that power would be available to the state.

 

Basin wise number of operating hydro projects in Uttarakhand

 

Basin Large Hydro projects (above 25 MW) Small Hydro projects (1-25 MW) Mini-micro Hydro projects (below 1 MW) Total Hydro projects
No of projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW
Alaknanda

1

400

10

54.75

21

2.22

32

456.97

Bhagirathi

4

1794

5

56.7

4

0.4

13

1851.1

Ganga Sub basin

1

144

2

29.7

1

0.1

4

173.8

Ramganga

1

198

2

11.8

9

1.05

12

210.85

Sharda

3

415.6

4

7.7

21

4.45

28

427.75

Yamuna

5

474.75

1

3

3

0.445

9

478.195

TOTAL

15

3426.35

24

163.65

59

8.665

98

3598.665

 

Here we should note that as per the Union Ministry of New  and Renewable  Energy sources, in Uttarakhand, by March 2013, 98 small hydro schemes has been installed with total capacity of 170.82 MW. If we add the small and mini-micro projects in above table, we have 83 operating schemes with installed capacity of 172.315 MW. This mis-match is not possible to resolve since MNRE does not provide full list of operating SHPs in Uttarakhand.

 

Under Construction Hydropower projects in Uttarakhand In the table below we have given available list of under construction hydropower projects in Uttarakhand. Actual list of under construction projects is likely to be larger than this, since clear and upto-date information is not available on official website. Please note that this does not include the list of mini and micro hydropower projects that are under construction. Even in case of small hydro projects (1-25 MW capacity), the list is not complete. According to this list, 25 projects with 2376.3 MW capacity are under construction in Uttarakhand. 6 of them are large hydropower projects and rest 19 are small hydro projects. Of the 6 large hydropower projects, three are in private sector and three are in central sector, none in state sector.

 

Mountains of Muck generated by under construction 330 MW Shrinagar Hydel Project
Mountains of Muck generated by under construction 330 MW Shrinagar Hydel Project

List of under construction projects:

 

SN Project Ins Cap (MW) Dist Sub-Basin
1 Srinagar

330

Pauri Alaknanda
2 Phata- Byung

76

Rudraprayag Alaknanda
3 Singoli-Bhatwari

99

Rudraprayag Alaknanda
4 Lata Tapovan

171

Chamoli Alaknanda
5 Tapovan Vishnugad

520

Chamoli Alaknanda
6 Madhmaheshwar (ADB)

10

Rudrprayag Alaknanda
7 Kaliganga-II (ADB)

6

Rudrprayag Alaknanda
8 Bgyunderganga (P)

24.3

Chamoli Alaknanda
9 Birahi Ganga-I (P)

24

Chamoli Alaknanda
10 Devali (P)

13

Chamoli Alaknanda
11 Kail ganga

5

Chamoli Pinder Alaknanda
12 Khiraoganga (P)

4

Uttarkashi Alaknanda
13 Sobla I

8

Pithoragarh Alaknanda
14 Hafla

0.2

Chamoli  Alaknanda Hafla Gad
15 Nigol Gad

0.1

Chamoli  Alaknanda Nigal Gad
16 Wachham

0.50

Bageshwar Alaknanda Pindar/SunderDhunga Gad
17 Tehri stage-II

1000

Tehri Bhagirathi
18 Asiganga-I

4.5

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi
19 Asiganga-II

4.5

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi
20 Suwarigad

2

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi
21 Limchagad

3.5

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi
22 Kaldigad (ADB)

9

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi
23 Balganga-II

7

Tehri Garhwal Bhagirathi
24 Jalandhari Gad (P)

24

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi
25 Kakora Gad (P)

12.5

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi
26 Kot-Buda Kedar (P)

6

Tehri Bhagirathi
27 Siyangad (P)

11.5

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi
28 KotiJhala

0.2

 Tehri Bhagirathi Bal Ganga
29 Pinsward

0.05

 Tehri Bhagirathi Bal Ganga
30 Dunao

1.5

Pauri Ganga sub basin
31 Gaudi Chida

0.25

Pauri Ganga sub basin E Nayar
32 Rotan

0.05

Pithoragarh Sharda E Ramganga/Rotan
33 Duktu

0.025

Pithoragarh Sharda Kali/ Nati Yanki
34 Nagling

0.05

Pithoragarh Sharda Kali/ Nagling Yanki
35 Sela

0.05

Pithoragarh Sharda Dhauli Ganga/ Seal Gad
36 Kutty

0.05

Pithoragarh Sharda Kali
37 Napalchu

0.05

Pithoragarh Sharda Kali/ Piear Yanki
38 Bundi

0.05

Pithoragarh Sharda Kali/ Pulung Gad
39 Rongkong

0.05

Pithoragarh Sharda Kali/ Dangiang Yanki
40 Chiludgad

0.10

Uttarakashi Yamuna Supin/Chilude Gad
41 Khapu Gad

0.04

Uttarakashi Yamuna Supin/Khapu Gad

Total Under Construction               2378.115 MW

Note: Projects like Loharinag Pala, Pala Maneri, Bhairoghati and other projects along Bhagirathi upstream of Uttarkashi along the Eco Sensitive zone have been dropped from this list. Rest of the list is from the IMG report or from UJVNL website. P in the bracket indicates the project is in the private sector. ADB in the bracket indicates that the project is funded by the Asian Development Bank.

 

Proposed hydropower projects in Uttarakhand In following tables we have provided available list of proposed hydropower projects in the Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Yamuna, Sharda and Ramganga basins in Uttarakhand. The list is likely to be longer than the list in these tables since full and upto-date information is not available. Also there are different agencies  involved in proposing, sanctioning and executing these projects and there is no single agency which can provide comprehensive picture of what is happening in the basin. However, even this available list is frightening.

 

List of proposed projects in Alaknanda Basin

 

SN Project Ins Cap (MW) Dist Sub-Basin Status
1 Vishnugad Pipalkoti (WB)

444

Chamoli Alaknanda Construction to be started
2 Kotli Bhel (IB)

320

Pauri Alaknanda EAC ok/FAC u/consideration
3 Alaknanda (P Badrinath)

300

Chamoli Alaknanda EC & FC ok IA not signed
4 Devsari Dam

252

Chamoli Alaknanda EC & FC ok CEA concrnce?
5 Kotli Bhel II

530

Pauri Ganga sub basin EAC ok/FAC u/consideration
6 Bowla Nandprayag

300

Chamoli Alaknanda EAC TOR Approved
7 Tamak Lata

280

Chamoli Alaknanda EC ok, DPR under revision
8 Nand Prayag

100

Alaknanda DPR returned
9 Jelam Tamak

108

Chamoli Alaknanda EAC ok in June 2013
10 Maleri Jelam

55

Chamoli Alaknanda PFR prepared
11 Rishiganga I

70

Chamoli Alaknanda PFR prepared
12 Rishiganga II

35

Chamoli Alaknanda PFR prepared
13 Gohana Tal

60

Chamoli Alaknanda PFR prepared
14 Rambara

24

Rudraprayag Alaknanda IMG report
15 Birahi Ganga-II (P)

24

Chamoli Alaknanda DPR under revision
16 Melkhet (P)

56

Chamoli Alaknanda Pinder Proposed
17 Urgam-II

3.8

Chamoli Alaknanda Under S&I
18 Bhyunder Ganga

243

Chamoli Alaknanda FC under consideration
19 Nand Pyayag Langasu

141

Chamoli Alaknanda EAC TOR Approved
20 Rambara

76

Rudraprayag Alaknanda EAC TOR u/consideration
21 Bagoli

90

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
22 Bangri

44

Chamoli Alaknanda Pinder
23 Madhya Maheshwar

350

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
24 Ming Nalgaon

114

Chamoli Alaknanda Pinder
25 Padli

66

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
26 Thapli

44

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
27 Utyasu-I

70

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
28 Utyasu-II

205

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
29 Utyasu-III

195

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
30 Utyasu-IV

125

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
31 Utyasu-V

80

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
32 Utyasu-VI

70

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
33 Rampur Tilwari

25

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Proposed
34 Chunni semi

24

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Proposed Mandakini
35 Kosa

24

Chamoli Alaknanda Dhauliganga
36 Vijay nagar- Rampur

20

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Proposed
37 Nandakini-III

19.5

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
38 Nayar

17

Pauri Ganga sub basin Nayar
39 Alaknanda I

15

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
40 Buara

14

Bageshwar Alaknanda Pindar
41 Duna Giri

10

Chamoli Alaknanda Dhauliganga
42 Alaknanda II

10

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
43 Balkhila-II

10

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
44 Mandani Ganga

10

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Mandakini Mandani ganga
45 Rishiganga

8.25

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
46 Subhain

8

Chamoli Alaknanda Dhauliganga
47 Son

7

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Mandakini son gad
48 Kalp ganga

6.25

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed kalpganga
49 Lustar

6

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Mandakini Lustar
50 Madhya maheshwar -II

6

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Mandakini madmaheshwar
51 Hom 6

6

Chamoli Alaknanda Dhauliganga
52 Amrit ganga

6

Chamoli Alaknanda Amrit ganga balsuti gadera
53 Gaddi

5.25

Chamoli Alaknanda dhauliganga Gaddi Gadera
54 Deval

5

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
55 Ghrit Ganga

5

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
56 Jumma

5

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
57 Ringi

5.5

Chamoli Alaknanda Dhauliganga
58 Tamak

5

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
59 Balkhila-I

5.5

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed Balkhila
60 Basti -I

4

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Proposed
61 Basti -II

4

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Proposed
62 Laxmanganga

4

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
63 Nil ganga

3

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
64 Santodhar – I

2

Pauri Ganga sub basin W Nayar
65 Santodhar – II

2

Pauri Ganga sub basin W Nayar
66 Birahiganga

4.8

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
67 Byaligaon

2.25

Pauri Ganga sub basin E Nayar
68 Ghirit Ganga

1.3

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
69 Jummagad

1.2

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
70 Kailganga

3

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
71 Kakra

1

Rudraprayag Alaknanda Proposed
72 Kali Ganga

3

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
73 Garud Ganga

0.6

Chamoli Alaknanda Proposed
74 Gansali Bampa

0.05

Chamoli  Alaknanda Dhauliganga/Ganesh Ganga
Alaknanda Total

5199.25

     

 

List of proposed projects in Bhagirathi Basin

 

SN Project Ins Cap (MW) Dist Sub-Basin Status
1 Kotli Bhel (IA)

195

Pauri Bhagirathi EC/FAC stage 1
2 Jhalakoti (P)

12.5

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi Proposed dharamganga
3 Bhilangana II A

24

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi Proposed
4 Karmali

140

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi IMG, on Eco-sensitive zone?
5 Jadhganga

50

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi IMG: PFR prepared
6 Bhilangana IIB

24

Tehri Bhagirathi Under S&I
7 Bhilangana IIC

24

Tehri Bhagirathi Under S&I
8 Pilangad-II

4

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi Proposed
9 Bhela Tipri

100

Uttarakashi Bhagirathi Proposed
10 Nelong

190

Uttarakashi Bhagirathi Proposed
11 Asiganga-III

9

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi Proposed
12 Gangani (P)

8

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi Proposed
13 Balganga-I

5

Tehri Garhwal Bhagirathi Proposed
14 Khirao ganga

4

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi Proposed
15 Lagrasu (P)

3

Tehri Garhwal Bhagirathi Proposed
16 Songad

3

Uttarkashi Bhagirathi Proposed
17 Jalandhari Gad

3

Uttarakashi Bhagirathi Proposed
18 Jalkurgad I

2

Tehri Garhwal Bhagirathi Proposed jalkur gad
19 Rataldhara

0.4

Tehri Garhwal Bhagirathi Proposed Jalkur Gad
20 Lamb Gaon

0.4

Tehri Garhwal Bhagirathi Proposed Jalkur gad
21 Dhatirmouli

0.4

Tehri Garhwal Bhagirathi Proposed Jalkurgad
22 Gangi-Richa

0.2

Tehri Tehri Bhagirathi Bhilangana/ Re Gad
Bhagirathi Total

801.9

     

 

List of proposed projects in W Ramganga Basin

 

Golden Mahseer in Ramganga
Golden Mahseer in Ramganga
SN Project Ins Cap (MW) Dist Sub-Basin Status
1 Babas Dam

88

Almora Ramganga Proposed
2 Khati

63

Bagehwar Ramganga Proposed
3 Lumi

54

Bagehwar Ramganga Proposed
4 Kuwargarh

45

Bagehwar Ramganga Proposed
5 Bawas Gaon

34

Nainital Ramganga Proposed
6 Jamrani Dam

30

  Ramganga Proposed
7 Khutani

18

Bageshwar Ramganga Proposed
8 Sarju Stage-II (P)

15

Bageshwar Ramganga Proposed
9 Sarju Stage-III (P)

10.5

Bageshwar Ramganga Proposed
10 Sheraghat

10

Almora Ramganga Kho
11 Baura

14

Bageshwar Ramganga Proposed
12 Sarju Stage-I (P)

7.5

Bageshwar Ramganga Proposed
13 Balighat

5.5

Bageshwar Ramganga Proposed
14 MehalChaura-I

4

Pithoragarh Ramganga Proposed
15 MehalChaura-II

3

Pithoragarh Ramganga Proposed
16 Agarchatti

2

Pithoragarh Ramganga Proposed
17 Kho I

2

Pauri Ramganga Kho
18 Kho II

2

Pauri Ramganga Proposed
19 Harsila

0.7

Bageshwar Ramganga Proposed harsila gad
20 Kalsa

0.3

Nainital Ramganga Proposed
Ramganga Total

408.5

     

 

List of proposed projects in Sharda Basin

 

SN Project Ins Cap (MW) Dist Sub-Basin Status
1 Mapang Bogudhiyar (P)

200

Pithoragarh Sharda EAC TOR Approved
2 Bogudhiyar Sarkaribhyol (P)

170

Pithoragarh Sharda EAC TOR Approved
3 Sarkaribhyol Rupsiabagar

210

Pithoragarh Sharda EAC TOR Approved
4 Rupsiabagar Khasiabara

260

Pithoragarh Sharda EAC Ok / FAC Rejected
5 Bokang Baling

330

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed THDC
6 Chungar Chal

240

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed NHPC
7 East Ram Ganga Dam

30

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
8 Khartoli Lumti Talli

55

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
9 Budhi

192

Pithoragarh Sharda Mahakali
10 Garba Tawaghat

610

Pithoragarh Sharda-Mahakali Proposed NHPC
11 Garbyang

131

Pithoragarh Sharda Mahakali
12 Lakhanpur

160

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
13 Malipa

138

Pithoragarh Sharda Mahakali
14 Pancheshwar

6000

Pithoragarh Sharda Indo Nepal Project
15 Purnagiri Dam

1000

Champawat Sharda Indo Nepal Project
16 Tawaghat – Tapovan

105

Pithoragarh Sharda Mahakali
17 Taopvan Kalika

160

Pithoragarh Sharda Mahakali
18 Tapovan Chunar

485

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
19 Sela Urthing

230

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
20 Urthing Sobla (P)

340

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
21 Sobla Jhimjingao

145

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
22 Kalika – Baluwakot

120

Pithoragarh Sharda Mahakali
23 Kalika Dantu

230

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
24 Dhauliganga Intermediate

200

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed NHPC
25 Gauriganga III A & B

140

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed NHPC
26 Madkini (P)

39

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
27 Burthing – Purdam

5

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed Jakula
28 Jimbagad

7.7

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
29 Suringad-II

5

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
30 Tanga (P)

5

Pithoraharh Sharda Proposed
31 Tankul

12

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
32 Motighat (P)

5

Pithoraharh Sharda Proposed
33 Painagad

9

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed
34 PhuliBagar- Kwiti

4

Pithoragarh Sharda Proposed Jakula
35 Kumeria- Garjia (Bawas)

12.5

Nainital Sharda Kosi
36 Balgad

8

Pithoragarh Sharda E Ramganga
37 Kuti SHP

6

 Pithoragarh Sharda Maha Kali/ Kuti yangti
38 Palang SHP

6.5

 Pithoragarh Sharda Maha Kali/ Plang gad
39 Najyang SHP

5.5

 Pithoragarh Sharda Maha Kali/ Najyang gad
40 Simkhola SHP

8.75

 Pithoragarh Sharda Maha Kali/ Simkhola gad
41 Birthi

1

Pithoragarh Sharda Balchinn
42 Baram

1

Pithoragarh Sharda Dhauli Ganga/ Baram Gad
43 Unchiya

0.05

Pithoragarh Sharda Dhauli Ganga/ Khari Gad
44 Murtoli

0.02

Pithoragarh Sharda Goriganga/ Martoligad
45 Burphu

0.03

Pithoragarh Sharda Goriganga/ Martoligad
46 Ralam

0.03

Pithoragarh Sharda Goriganga/ Ralangad
47 Ram Gad-II

0.1

Nainital Sharda Kosi/ Ramgad
48 Watcm

0.1

Pithoragarh Sharda Ramgad E/ Watchraila

Total Sharda Basin

12022.28

     

 

List of proposed projects in Yamuna Basin

 

SN Project Ins Cap (MW) Dist Sub-Basin Status
1 Lakhwar

300

Dehradun Yamuna EAC TOR Approved
2 Vyasi

120

Dehradun Yamuna EAC Recommended
3 Arakot Tuni

81

Uttarkashi Yamuna EAC TOR Approved
4 Tuni Plasu

66

Dehradun Yamuna EAC TOR Approved
5 Mori-Hanol (P)

63

Uttarkashi Yamuna EAC TOR Approved
6 Naitwar Mori (Dewari Mori)

60

Uttarkashi Yamuna EAC Recommended
7 Hanol Tuni (P)

60

Uttarkashi Yamuna EAC Recommended
8 Jakhol Sankri

45

Uttarkashi Yamuna EAC TOR Approved
9 Kishau

600

Dehradun Yamuna Proposed
10 Chammi Naingaon

540

Uttarakashi Yamuna Proposed
11 Chatra Dam

300

Uttarakashi Yamuna Proposed
12 Taluka Sankri

140

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed
13 Taluka Dam

112

Uttarakashi Yamuna Proposed
14 Sankri Mori

78

Uttarakashi Yamuna Proposed
15 Barkot Kuwa

42

Uttarakashi Yamuna Proposed
16 Hanuman Chatti Sianachatti

33

Uttarakashi Yamuna Proposed
17 Barnigad Naingaon

30

Uttarakashi Yamuna Proposed
18 Rupin Stage V (P)

24

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed
19 Damta – Naingaon

20

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed
20 Tons

14.4

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed
21 Supin

11.2

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed
22 Rupin Stage IV (P)

10

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed
23 Rupin Stage III (P)

8

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed
24 Barnigad

6.5

Uttarakashi Bhagirathi Proposed
25 Pabar

5.2

Dehradun Yamuna Proposed
26 Badyar (P)

3

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed
27 Lagrasu

3

Tehri Yamuna Proposed
28 Rayat (P)

3

Tehri Yamuna Proposed
29 Ringali

1

Tehri Garhwal Yamuna Proposed Aglar Ringaligad
30 Purkul

1

 Dehradun Yamuna Tons
31 Paligad

0.3

Uttarkashi Yamuna Proposed Paligad
32 Rikhani Gad

0.05

Uttarkashi Yamuna Rikhanigad
33 Bijapur

0.2

 Dehradun Yamuna Tons
Yamuna Total 2780.85 MW
Grand Total 21212.78 MW

Note: EAC: Expert Appraisal Committee of MoEF; FAC: Forest Advisory Committee of MoEF; EC: Environment Clearance: FC: Forest Clearance; TOR: Terms of Reference (of EIA); for Alaknanda, the first 17 projects are listed as given in IMG report and for Bhagirathi first 8 projects are as listed in IMG report. However, many of these projects have been recommended to be dropped by the WII (Wildlife Institute of India) report. Also, IMG and other have said that no further projects should be taken up in Bhagirathi and Alaknanda basins. The projects listed above in the Bhagirathi basin beyond serial number 8 and those in Alaknanda basin beyond 17 would, in any case, not be taken up.

In the table below we have provided and overview of proposed hydropower projects in Uttarakhand based on the information from above five tables.

Overview of Proposed Hydropower Projects in Uttarakhand

 

Basin Large Hydro projects (above 25 MW) Small Hydro projects (1-25 MW) Mini-micro Hydro projects (below 1 MW) Total Hydro projects
No of projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW
Alaknanda

29

4823

43

375.6

2

0.65

74

5199.25

Bhagirathi

5

675

13

125.5

4

1.4

22

801.9

Ramganga

6

314

12

93.5

2

1

20

408.5

Sharda

26

11920

16

101.95

6

0.33

48

12022.28

Yamuna

17

2670

13

110.3

3

0.55

33

2780.85

TOTAL

83

20402

97

806.85

17

3.93

197

21212.78

 

Overview of hydropower projects in Uttarakhand In the table below we have put together the number and capacities of existing, under construction and proposed hydropower projects in various basins of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand government has plans to have total of 337 hydropower projects with total capacity of 27191.89 MW. Largest number (124) of such projects are in Alaknanda basin, the largest capacity is proposed to be in Sharda basin at 12450.905 MW.

In the table below we have given basin wise figures of total large, small and mini-micro hydropower proejcts (including existing, under construction and proposed) projects in Uttarakhand. According to Union Ministry of New and  Renewable energy, total potential of small hydro  in Uttarakhand is 1707.87 MW from 448 small hydro projects. If we take that into account the figures in the following tabes would change (go up) accordingly.

Basin wise total capacities for large, small and mini HEPs in Uttarakhand

 

Basin Large Hydro projects (above 25 MW) Small Hydro projects (1-25 MW) Mini-micro hydro projects (<1 MW) Total Hydro projects
No of projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW
Alaknanda

35

6419

61

524.65

26

3.67

122

6947.32

Bhagirathi

10

3469

28

266.7

10

2.05

48

3737.75

Ganga Sub basin

1

144

3

31.2

2

0.35

6

175.55

Ramganga

7

512

14

105.3

11

2.05

32

619.35

Sharda

29

12335.6

20

109.65

35

5.155

84

12450.405

Yamuna

22

3144.75

14

113.3

8

1.135

44

3259.185

TOTAL

104

26024.35

140

1150.8

92

14.41

336

27189.56

In the table below we have given basin wise figures of existing, under construction and proposed hydropower projects of all sizes in Uttarakhand.

Overview of all Hydropower projects in Uttarakhand

 

Basin Existing Hydro projects Under construction projects Proposed hydropower projects Total Hydro projects
No of projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW No of Projects Capacity, MW
Alaknanda

32

456.97

16

1291.1

74

5199.25

122

6947.32

Bhagirathi

13

1851.5

13

1084.75

22

801.9

48

3737.75

Ganga Sub basin

4

173.8

2

1.75

6

175.55

Ramganga

12

210.8

20

408.5

32

619.35

Sharda

28

427.75

8

0.375

48

12022.28

84

12450.405

Yamuna

9

478.195

2

0.14

33

2780.85

44

3259.185

TOTAL

98

3598.665

41

2378.115

197

21212.78

336

27189.56

Basin Maps Maps of Hydroelectric Projects in various sub basins of Uttarakhand are available at the following links. Please note that the maps are based on information available when the maps were created in 2011:

https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Hydropower_Projects_in_Ganga_Basin.pdf

https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Bhagirathi%20150411.jpg

https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Alaknanda%20150411.jpg

https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Mandakini150411.jpg

https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Goriganga150411.jpg

https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Major_Hydro_Projects_in_Yamuna_Basin.pdf

 

How do the hydropower projects increase the scale of disaster?

This is a question that a lot of journalists and TV anchors have been asking me since the Uttarakhand disaster. Here is a quick response:

Þ     Almost all hydropower projects of Uttarakhand involve deforestation. Deforestation directly increases the potential of erosion, landslides and floods since water now just runs off to the rivers. Moreover the compensatory afforestation and catchment area treatment, even when done, usually involves planting of commercially important variety of trees like pine and teak and not broad leaf tress like oaks which not only adds humus in the soil, but also allows rich under growth. Pine does not allow this to happen. This change in character of forests is something Gandhiji’s disciple Mira Behen has been warning since independence, but there is little impact of this on the forest department.

Þ     In fact largest proportion of deforestation in Uttarakhand has happened basically for hydropower projects.

Þ     All run of the river projects involve building of a dam, diversion structure, desilting mechanism, tunnels which could have length of 5 to 30 km and width sufficient to carry three trains side by side, as also roads, townships, mining, among other components. All of these components increase the disaster potential of the area in one or the other way. Cumulative impacts of all the components of any one project and all projects together  in a given basin is likely to be larger than the addition of the impacts of individual projects in many cases.

Þ     Massive blasting of massive proportions is involved in construction of all these components, which adds to landslide risks. In fact Uttarakhand’s Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre in their report of Oct 2012 after the Okhimath disaster of Sept 2012 recommended that no blasting should be allowed for any development activity anywhere in Uttarakhand, but Uttarakhand government did nothing about this recommendation.

Þ     The massive tunneling by itself weakens the young and fragile Himalayan mountains, increasing the disaster potential.

Þ     Each of the hydropower project generates immense amount of muck in tunneling, blasting and other activities. A large hydropower project could typically generate millions of cubic meters of muck. The large projects are supposed to have muck disposal plan, with land acquired for muck disposal, transportation of muck to the designated sites above the High Flood levels, creation of safety walls and stabilization process. But all this involves costs. The project developers and their contractors find it easier to dump this muck straight into the nearby rivers. In the current floods, this illegally dumped muck created massive disaster in downstream areas in case of 330 MW Srinagar HEP, the 76 MW Phata Byung HEP and the 99 MW Singoli Bhatwari HEP. When the flooded rivers carry this muck, boulders and other debris, has much greater erosion capacity and also leaves behind massive heaps of this muck in the flooded area. In Srinagar town about 100 houses are buried in 10-30 feet depth of muck. Such debris laden rivers also create massive landslides along the banks.

Muck Disposal directly into the Alaknanda river by Srinagar Project Photo: Matu janSangathan
Muck Disposal directly into the Alaknanda river by Srinagar Project Photo: Matu janSangathan

Þ     Wrong operation of hydropower projects can also create greater disasters in the downstream areas. For example the operators of 400 MW Vishnuprayag HEP on Alaknanda river did not open the gates when the river was flooded on June 16-17, possibly to maximize power generation. However, this lead to accumulation of massive quantities of boulders (for photos of dam filled with such boulders see: http://matuganga.blogspot.in/) behind the dam, so much so that that there was no space for water to flow. The river then bypassed the dam and started flowing by the side of the dam, creating a new path for its flow. This created a sudden flashflood in the downstream area, creating a new disaster there.

Boulders devouring the Vishnuprayag Project. 26th June 2013 Photo: Matu jan Sangathan
Boulders devouring the Vishnuprayag Project. 26th June 2013 Photo: Matu jan Sangathan

Þ     The incomplete, broken and ill designed protection wall of the Maneri Bhali projects in Uttarkashi lead to erosion and landslides in the downstream areas.

 

DAMAGED HYDRO PROJECTS A large number of hydropower projects are likely to have suffered damage due to the flood disaster in Uttarakhand. Some of the projects that have suffered damage include:

  • According to the update from http://www.energylineindia.com/on June 27, 2013, the 520 MW under construction Tapovan Vishnugad HEP has suffered damaged by rains on June 16, 2013: “While construction of diversion tunnel was completed in April this year, the same was washed away due to heavy rains on June 16. Diversion dyke has washed away and damages have been observed in chormi adit approach road. In August last year, the flash floods had caused serious damages in the coffer dam of the project.”
  • 400 MW Vishnuprayag HEP of JP Associates has suffered serious, but as yet unassessed damage(http://www.indianexpress.com/news/jaiprakash-power-tanks-15–as-plant-shuts-down-in-uttarakhand/1133083/). As per MATU PR (http://matuganga.blogspot.in/), the project has also been cause of damage in Lambagad village, which was also flahsed on front page of TOI on June 25, 2013, though without mentioning the project. The blog also provides the before and after pictures of the upstream and downstream of the project.
  • 76 MW Phata Byung HEP of Lanco in Mandakini Valley in Uttarakhand
  • 99 MW Singoli Bhatwari HEP of L&T in Mandakini Valley in Uttarakhand NDTV India reported that the water level of the river has gone up due to the silt dumped by dams. This is likely to be due to the Phata Byung and Singholi Bhatwari HEPs.
  • Kali Ganga I, Kali Ganga II and Madhyamaheshwar HEP, all in Mandakini Valley, all of UJVNL, all hit by mudslides (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/uttarakhands-r500-crore-request-to-prevent-landslides-pending-since-2009/1132351/)
  • Assiganga projects on Assiganga river in Bhagirathi basin in Uttarakhand
  • 5 MW Motighat I HEP in Goriganga basin in Pithoragarh (Himalprakriti report)
  • 280 Dhauliganga Project of NHPC in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand (reports said the power house was submerged, but is now working, part of the township was submerged.)
  • The Himalaya Hydro (HH) Tanga Phase I for 5 MW, located along the Paina gad in Goriganga basin, is badly damaged. The dam has got smashed by a deluge of huge boulders. One sluice gate is torn through. The metal filter-gates are all choked with boulder debris, and the remnant concrete and gate pulleys of the dam are now stranded mid-river, with both banks eroded and the river now running along the true-left bank. (Himalprakriti report)
  • The UREDA 500 KW Motigad microhydel on Moti gadh (a tributary of Paina gadh) at Bindi (Dani Bagad) is also badly damaged. The water has broken through the wall, cut under the foundation, inundated the turbines with water and debris, and smashed the housing for the electrical distribution system. (Himalprakriti report)
  • The 5.5′ diameter head race waterpipes taking water to the HH Phase II, located on the Gori opposite Seraghat, has also been damaged. The generator and housing for the HH Ph II has collapsed into the river. All this damage is said to have happened on the evening of 17th June. People working as non-skilled labour have been sent home for a few months, but welding work on the new pipes feeding the powerhouse is still underway! (Himalprakriti report)

It has been now reported in Business Standard (http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/gvk-l-t-hydel-projects-hit-by-floods-113062300394_1.html) that the 330 MW Srinagar project, a cause for downstream destruction, has itself suffered massive damages on June 17, 2013, with breach of its protective embankment. The report also mentions the damage to the L&T’s Singoli Bhatwari HEP on Mandakini river.

Down to Earth (http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/hydropower-projects-suffer-severe-damage) has given some details of damage to some of the hydropower projects, quoting UJVNL sources. It says: 19 small hydropower projects have been completely destroyed, while others have been damaged by the raging waters (see table below)

Project Location Capacity Estimated Loss
Dhauli Ganga Pithoragarh  280 MW Rs 30 crore (project completely submerged)
Kaliganga I Rudraprayag 4 MW Rs 18-19 crore (power house and 4 houses washed away)
Kaliganga II Rudraprayag 6 MW Rs 16 crore (power house and 4 houses washed away)
Sobla Pithoragarh 8 MW Rs 14 crore (completely washed away)
Kanchauti Pithoragarh 2 MW Rs 12 crore (totally washed away)
Chirkila Pithoragarh 1.5 MW Rs 20 crore (part of the project washed away)
Maneri Bhali I&II Uttarkashi 304+90 MW Rs 2 crore + Rs 5 crore (walls collapsed, silt in barrages)

In addition, a large  number of projects had to stop generation temporarily due to high silt content, including Maneri Bhali I and II, Tanakpur, Dhauli Ganga, Kali Ganga I, some of the Yamuna basin projects among others.

 

Conclusion This article was intended to give an overview of hydropower projects in Uttarakhand. However, we should add that there are many glaring issues related to these hydropower projects, some of the key issues include:

  • Most of these projects are out of the environmental governance. Projects below 25 MW do not require EIA, Social Impact Assessment, public consultation, environmental clearance, environmental management plan or monitoring. This is clearly wrong as all projects have environmental impacts, and they are particularly serious in Himalayan region with multiple vulnerabilities. We have for years demanding that all projects above 1 MW should need environment clearance, EIA and so on.
  • Even for projects above 25 MW we do not have any credible environmental or social impact assessment. Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is on record having accepted that most EIAs are dishonest cut and paste jobs. We do not have any credible process in place to ensure that EIAs are proper and those that are not are rejected and consultants are black listed. Jairam Ramesh did put in place a process of registration of EIA consultants under the Quality Council of India, but that is completely non transparent, unaccountable and ineffective process. It is amazing that reputed NGOs like the Centre for Science and Environment are on board of this process, but they have completely failed to achieve any change and have chosen to remain quiet.
  • The Environment clearances of the River Valley Projects (which includes hydro projects and dams) is considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects appointed by Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. However, the ministry chooses members of the EAC such that they rarely object to any project. As per SANDRP analysis in six years ending in Dec 2012, the EAC had not said NO to any project for environment clearance. Its appraisal of projects, EIAs, public consultation process and its own minutes were found to be inconsistent, unscientific and loaded in favour of the project developers.
  • Our environment compliance system is non-existing. The projects are supposed to implement the environment management plan pari passu with the project work, they are supposed to follow the conditions of environment clearance, follow the environmental norms, but who is there to ensure this actually happens? The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests which is supposed to ensure this compliance has no capacity the officials tell us. The officials do not have time to even check if six monthly compliance reports are being submitted or make any surprise visits. However they do not even seem to have will, since we have seen no change in this situation for decades. Nor do they seem to have willingness, since even when NGOs present photographic and video and other evidence of violations they refuse to take action.
  • One way to achieve compliance is to have a project monitoring committee for each project where over 50% of the members are from local communities and other independent persons and such committees ok must be required each stage for the project to go ahead. We have been suggesting this for long, but the MoEF has shown no willingness to follow this.
  • More pertinently, none of the assessment reports look at the impact on the disaster potential of the area. Each of these projects have significant impact on the disaster potential of the area, particularly in the context of a vulnerable state like Uttarakhand. This should be a must for all such projects.
  • Similarly the projects must also be assessed in the context of climate change, again in vulnerable area like the Himalayas. How the project will impact the local climate, how it will have impact on adoption capacity of the local communities and also how the project itself will be impacted in changing climate. This again we have been writing to the MoEF numerous times, but without any success so far.
  • Most significantly, the only impact assessments that we have is for specific projects of over 25 MW capacity. However, we have no credible cumulative impact assessment for any of the river basins of Uttarakhand, which also takes into account carrying capacity of the river basins and all the interventions that are happening in the basins. As our critique of so called cumulative impact assessment of Bhagirathi-Alaknanda basins done by AHEC of IIT Roorkee shows (see:  http://www.sandrp.in/hydropower/Pathetic_Cumulative_Impact_Assessment_of_Ganga_Hydro_projects.pdf), it was not much of a cumulative impact assessment. WII (Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun) report was somewhat better within the mandate given to it (assessment of hydro projects on aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity), but the most important recommendation of the WII report that at least 24 projects should be dropped has not been accepted by the MoEF, so what is the use of the cumulative impact assessment in such a situation?

Unless we address all of the above issues in a credible way, there is little wisdom in going ahead with more hydropower projects in Uttarakhand. They will invite greater disasters. Uttarakhand has many other options for development.

  • Firstly people of  Uttarakhand should get first right over all the power that is getting generated within Uttarakhand.
  • Secondly, this is not a plea for no projects, but to address the crucial issues without addressing which we are in no situation to even know the impacts or address the issues.
  • Thirdly, Uttarakhand needs to take up power generation options that do not accentuate the disaster potential of the area. Such options include micro hydro, hydro kinetics, and solar and biomass based power in addition to better utilization of existing infrastructure.

Going ahead with more hydropower projects in current situation would be invitation to greater disasters. In fact, the Uttarakhand government should not allow even the damaged and under construction hydropower projects until al the conditions mentioned above are satisfied.

Some of the hydropower projects that have surely seem to have added to the disaster proportions of current Uttarakhand flood disaster include the 400 MW Vishnuprayag HEP, the 280 MW Dhauliganga HEP, the 330 MW Shrinagar HEP, the 304 and 90 MW Maneribhali II and I HEPs, the 99 MW Singoli Bhatwari HEP and the 76 MW Phata Byung HEP, the last two on Mandakini river.

In response to my question on a programme on Headlinestoday channel anchored by Rahul Kanwal on July 8, 2013 (in presence of panel that also included Dr Vandana Shiva and Vimlendu Jha), the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Shri Vijay Bahuguna agreed that he will institute an enquiry into the damage due to these hydropower projects and hold them accountable for such damage.

Let us see how soon and how independent and credible enquiry he institutes.

Himanshu Thakkar

 South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (www.sandrp.in)                                                        July 2013

References:

1. http://envfor.nic.in

2. http://www.uttarakhandjalvidyut.com/eoi/list_of_projects_self.pdf and many other UJVNL documents.

3. http://www.ahec.org.in/shp%20sites/uttarakhand/Hydropower%20stations%20in%20operation%20and%20under%20construction%20in%20uttarakhand.pdf

4. http://cleanhydropower.blogspot.in/2009/07/brief-description-of-small-hydro-power.html

5. http://ureda.uk.gov.in/pages/show/130-micro-hydro-programme and other sites of UREDA.

6. https://sandrp.in/env_governance/TOR_and_EC_Clearance_status_all_India_Overview_Feb2013.pdf

7. https://sandrp.in/IMG_report_on_Ganga_has_Pro_Hydro_Bias_June2013.pdf

8. http://www.sandrp.in/hydropower/Pathetic_Cumulative_Impact_Assessment_of_Ganga_Hydro_projects.pdf

9. 2012-13 Annual report of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy: http://mnre.gov.in/file-manager/annual-report/2012-2013/EN/chapter3.html

SANDRP blogs on Uttarakhand disaster :

1. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/uttarakhand-deluge-how-human-actions-and-neglect-converted-a-natural-phenomenon-into-a-massive-disaster/

2. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/uttarakhand-floods-disaster-lessons-for-himalayan-states/

3. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/uttarakhand-and-climate-change-how-long-can-we-ignore-this-in-himalayas/

4. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/central-water-commissions-flood-forecasting-pathetic-performance-in-uttarkhand-disaster/

5. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/uttarakhand-floods-truth-about-thdc-and-central-water-commissions-claims-about-tehri/

6. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/lessons-from-uttarakhand-disaster-for-selection-of-river-valley-projects-expert-committee/

7. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/climate-justice-statement-on-the-uttarakhand-catastrophe/

Forest Advisory Committee

Can an unjustified dam submerging 1000 ha. be encouraged only because its claimed to be a drinking water project?

Submission to the Forest Advisory Committee, Ministry of Environment and Forests urging them not to grant Forest Clearance to Kikvi Drinking water supply Dam coming up in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik,  in the absence of relevant studies and justifications. The project  will submerge  nearly 1000 heactres of agricultural and forest land in Western Ghats, and there is no justification provided that Nashik needs a new source. The city already takes water from 4 dams, is building a fifth weir and is allegedly supplying more drinking water to help  India Bulls Thermal Power Project.

 

To,

Chairperson and members,

Forest Advisory Committee

Ministry of Environment and Forests

Delhi

 Subject: Concerns about Kikvi Drinking Water Supply Project, Brahmanwade, Nashik

 Respected Chairperson and Members,

We see from the agenda uploaded on MoEF Website that the FAC will be considering proposal of Kikvi Drinking Water Supply Dam in BrahmanwadeVillage in Nashik, Maharashtra diverting 172.46 hectares of Forest in its upcoming meeting on 11th and 12th July 2013. The entire submergence of the project is a massive 933.98 hectares in the Northern Western Ghats. Partners from SANDRP visited the site on the 7th July 2013, studied the ecology and talked with the local farmers to be affected by the project. Based on the visit and analysis of Site Inspection report (SIR), FormIA and Factsheet uploaded on MoEF Website, we would like to highlight some strong concerns about this proposal:

  1. No evidence that Nashik needs a new source of drinking water: The Site Inspection Report of the Additional Principal Chief Secretary of Forest Department in June 2013 simply says “The project should be encouraged as it is a drinking water project”.

This is a strange statement coming from Forest Department, entrusted with protecting the dwindling forests of the country. There has been no supporting evidence provided by the Additional PCCF, Western Zone that Nashik actually needs this project for its drinking water supply needs.

In fact, there is no information provided in the Site Inspection Report, FormIA or the Fact sheet justifying the need for this project.

There is no estimation of Nashik’s current water demand, existing drinking water sources, future water demand, options assessment, demand management explored, etc.

In the absence of any such studies, how can Forest Department simply “encourage” a project to divert 172.47 hectares of forest (it will also submerge 776.52 hectares of agricultural land) only because it is a drinking water supply project? This is unacceptable and FAC should ask all the concerned officials to apply their mind before accepting to such proposals, including looking at the justifiability of the proposal and assessment that given project is the best option. This is important for all projects, but particularly so for a project that does even have environmental and social impact assessment.

2. Nashik has a number of existing drinking water supply projects There are already three dams in the upstream of Nashik city on the river Godavari and its tributaries. Nashik Municipal Corporation has a reservation for drinking water in each of these dams. These include the Gangapur Dam, Kashyapi Dam and Gautami Dam. Kashyapi and Gautami Dams were built to supplement Gangapur Dams water storage because it was silting up[1]. Kikvi project is also being pushed stating the same reason that Gangapur dam is silting up.

In addition, Nashik Municipal Corporation has a reservation of 350 million cubic feet on the Darna Dam, 28 kms downstream Nashik.

Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) is also building one more weir on DarnaRiver with a capacity of 144 million cubic feet. [2] There is no study to show that Nashik has been using all these available resources efficiently and that it is taking necessary steps to reduce the siltation of the Gangapur dam effectively and also considering the desilting of the reservoir.

It is clear that NMC already has many sources to supply drinking water. With efficient water supply, demand management, effective use of rainwater harvesting and gray water recycling (which have been compulsory since 2009, but which are yet not implemented effectively) the water demand of NMC may come down. These options should be explored first rather than a new dam project that is ecological, economically and socially costly. Forest Clearance to such projects should not be given in the absence of supportive studies.

3. The City Development Plan prepared by Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) under the JNNURM does not consider a new drinking water source in its Phase I work till 2016. Why then is there a hurry to divert forests and submerge agricultural lands? (http://nashikcorporation.gov.in/pagedetail.aspx?id=22&mid=69). Even for the phase beyond 2016, unless there is credible study that shows that Nashik is using its current resources efficiently and has exhausted all available options, there should not be any consideration for the current project.

4. No exploration of desilting Gangapur Dam While the Form IA and Factsheet claim that the project is needed as capacity of Gangapur Dam is decreasing due to siltation, it logically follows that the first attempt should be to arrest siltation and desilting of the reservoir. Gangapur Dam also provides irrigation water. Hence, desilting should be explored seriously. During the current 2012-13 drought, Government had undertaken desilting of some reservoirs in Maharashtra. In fact, the Chief Minister himself said that a capacity of 8 TMC has been added in Pune division due to desilting projects.[3] Thus, desilting should be carried out even before discussing new costly sources.

5. Wrong representation in Form IA FormIA states that there is no dependence on forests of the communities and the project does not involve any rehabilitation. This is incorrect.

The entire project involves submergence of 933.98 hectares of land, with 761.52 hectares of agricultural land. This also includes farm shelters and temporary houses of farmers. Farmers and tribals in this region depend heavily on the forests for a number of produce. Hence, the claim in FormIA that there is no dependence on forests is incorrect and should not be accepted.

In fact, there is a strong opposition to the project by villagers of nine villages which are losing agricultural lands to this project.

6. Fact sheet claims lands under submergence and not irrigated: As our partners witnesses this is a misleading statement. Large proportion of land under submergence is irrigated by groundwater through private shallow wells sunk by farmers. This irrigated area will also be submerged, along with the wells.

7. Over developed region The SIR, Form I and Fact sheet mention that there is no alternative alignment of Kikvi project possible due to existing projects in the upstream and downstream. This gives an idea of the overdeveloped region in terms of projects. One more project in this area will add to the cumulative impacts of the existing projects on ecology as well as sociology, but there is no cumulative impact assessment available.

8. Violation of Forest Rights Act: While it is clearly stated by the State Government in the Fact Sheet that: “10. The project authority has partially fulfilled the compliance under the Schedule Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Right) Act, 2006.  The compliance is not in proper format.” (emphasis added), it is surprising to see that the Form IA mentions that the project authority has fulfilled the compliance under Forest Rights Act 2006!

Thus, Forest Clearance should not be recommended unless the status of FRA compliance is known clearly.

9. Restoration of Forests needed, not further diversion The SIR by the Additional PCCF, Western Zone, notes that submergence of 1960 trees “ will have no ill effect on the area, in fact it will have positive impact due to water body”. This is a shocking statement to be coming from the Forest Department. How can loss of 1960 trees have no ill effect? As for the positive impact due to water bodies, this is a baseless claim for a region that has many water bodies and receives 2600-3000 mm rainfall annually.

The further justification given to divert forests is that the forest is pruned and lopped with low density. When partners of SANDRP visited the site on the 7th of July 2013, they found that the region is poorly managed by the Forest Department, with no security. This has encouraged encroachment and lopping. Instead of addressing these problems and restoring the forests under their control, Forest Department is using this as a justification to further divert forests. This argument is not acceptable.

10. No Environment Impact Assessment, Public Hearing or Environmental Clearance process: Due to an unsound and arbitrary exclusion in the EIA Notification 2006, drinking water supply projects are excluded from the ambit of EIA, Public hearing, Environmental Clearance and hence, Environment Management Plan and environment monitoring. The current project will submerge a total of 933.98 hectares of land without these checks and balances and hence, the FAC needs to consider this project very seriously. Not only will this affect the forest, it will also affect the agrarian economy of the region. FAC should first demand a project specific EIA, SIA and also cumulative impact assessment before even considering this project.

11. No mention of environmental flows: The proposed project will be entirely diverting the water of River Kikvi for drinking water use through Gangapur Dam in Nashik. Such a complete diversion of river has a profound ecological and social impact on the downstream. The issue is serious here as this region forms part of the Western Ghats. Hence, there has to be a study of the environmental flows that should be released from the project in the downstream for social and ecological needs.

As the project will not be applying for an Environmental Clearance, FAC needs to pay serious attention to these aspects.

We hope that the Forest Advisory Committee considers this project seriously and not simply as a drinking water supply project. Nashik Municipal Corporation has been reported to be supplying more drinking water to Nashik city than its need. This is allegedly to benefit the India Bulls Thermal Power plant which is based on the treated sewage water from Nashik Municipal Corporation.[4]

In this scenario, FAC should not recommend a forest clearance to this project, with no justification. The points becoming more pertinent considering that this is a project which has a potential to drown nearly 1000 hectares land in the Northern Western Ghats without any project specific EIA, SIA or cumulative impact assessment without any options assessment or study to show that Nashik is using its current resources efficiently.

Looking forward to a point-wise response to the issues raised above.

Thanking You,

Yours sincerely,

Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP, Pune

Jui Pethe, Independent Botanist and Agriculturist, Trimbak, Nashik

Amit Tillu , Independent Wildlife Researcher and Agriculturist, Trimbak, Nashik

Dams

Serious question marks over the SIT under Dr. Chitale

Pradeep Purandare, Retd. Associate Professor, Water and Land Management Institute, Aurangabad writes about the basic problems and limitations of the Special Investigation Team, under the Chairpersonship of Dr. Madhav Chitale, constituted by the Govenrment of Maharashtra to investigate the unprecedented Irrigation Scam in Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s infamous irrigation scam highlighted the agonizing state of Maharashtra’s water sector exposing the establishment, the government, the engineers and the numerous “Vikas-purush” who pulled irrigation projects (and not water!) for their constituencies. Drought that followed the scam highlighted the far reaching impacts of playing irresponsibly with water and rivers. Even the fraudulent White Paper on Irrigation Projects could not quell the huge discontent generated by the scam. Very reluctantly, state government constituted “Special Investigation Team” (SIT) on 31st December 2012, on the last day of such a commitment. The team was supposed to submit its report to the government within 6 months, i.e. till 30th June 2013. The committee has not submitted its report yet. Instead, it has asked for an extension of 6 months to the government which has been granted with alacrity. Thus, the Chitale committee has now become a “twelve monthly” committee, like the sugarcane which completes its cycle in 12 months! But looking at the constitution and the real motive behind forming this committee, it will not be surprising if this committee follows the eighteen month cycle like sugarcane in the state! In fact, looking at the remuneration and allowances given to the committee, it will not be a surprise if it even becomes perennial!

According to a leading Marathi Daily dealing with issues related to agriculture, (11th May2013), Dr. Chitale receives a remuneration of Rs. 1.50 Lakhs per month as the chair of the committee, while other members receive Rs. 1.25 lakh per month, with travel and related allowances being paid separately. Considering these details, I remember a washing powder ad, “Daag acche hai!!” In this context, it will be important to know exactly when officials like Dr. Chitale and Mr. Ranade retired, how many committees they worked on and how much of remuneration did they earn meanwhile. This information must also be made public.

Significantly, it cannot be forgotten that “Sinchan Sahayog,” [SS] an organization closely related with Chitale has been receiving tremendous government patronage since its conception. There has been a separate government resolution issued to facilitate government officers attending events organized by SS. Its office is in government premises at Aurangabad. All correspondences for SS take place through Godavari Khore’s e-mail id. Many government officers are office holders and/ or active members in SS. The questions like- whether government facilities are being used for programs organized by SS, whether the officers guilty of corruption/ scams are/ were part of SS, and whether SS receives government grants – are unanswered despite me raising them in a  reputed newspaper (27th March 2013).

As an illustrious Engineer, Dr. Chitale is not known to have taken any position against corruption/ scandals and misuse of post/ power. In fact, other officers of Water Resource Department – like Shri. Mendhegiri, Shri.Kulkarni, Shri.Vandere, Shri.Upase etc. – who do not get attention like Chitale but are equally capable, have already highlighted engineering defects, gross corruption and serious issues about several projects through their reports. Keeping this in the context, what more can the SIT achieve? The only implicit mandate of the team seems to be to buy time and eventually justify the white paper. Dr. Chitale’s response, “Investigating any allegations does not fall under the mandate of the SIT” in response to a demand by opposition leader, Mr. Tawde, speaks volumes about the committee.

Immense corruption, intentional irregularities, and misuse of power have been the hallmarks of the irrigation scam. Most allegations are quite serious and do not only limit themselves to engineering related issues. Transparency, public participation and accountability are totally missing in Maharashtra’s water resource development and management policies. Inclusiveness and participation have been consciously sidelined. There has been too much of engineering arrogance in such policies. Adjustments and impractical conditions accepted by so called vanguards of economic development – just to push the project forward- are now back-firing. Adamant “supply side management” rationale of increasing water availability at any cost as well as criminal and blatant neglect towards “demand side management” involving equitable, efficient water distribution underline our pathetic water management. We are experiencing the cumulative impacts of this approach. Overemphasis on supply side management has been one of the main drivers of the irrigation scam and Dr. Chitale has been a staunch supporter of such supply side management. Keeping this in mind, what investigation would he indulge in?

Despite knowing very well that Maharashtra WRD does not measure either the exact volume of water used or the actual area irrigated, Dr. Chitale believes that the same department has been successful in publishing – with fraudulent figures of- water audit, benchmarking and status of irrigation report. While speaking to a newspaper on 6th July 2012 Dr. Chitale said, “WRD’s records of the area irrigated are based on water-bills and hence, compared to Revenue, and Agriculture department, Water Resource Department’s data are more reliable”. It would be appropriate that I objected the same statement on 7th July 2012.

“To verify the created irrigation potential & actual area irrigated and water used for non-irrigation purposes; to study the details of area irrigated (such as area irrigated on wells, farm ponds & that irrigated by Water Conservation Department & WRD) and to find out reasons behind less area irrigated” constitutes the very first point of Chitale committee’s mandate. The committee is yet to submit even its interim report. It will, therefore, be interesting to see which statistics in this regard have been used & reported by Chitale Committe to Kelkar Committee.[1] Dr. Chitale is member of Kelkar Committee too. If the data furnished by WRD has been simply passed on to Committees without unbiased and fair checking, then it is a serious matter & may adversely affect the reports of both the committees. This point needs to be clarified by all concerned.

Water audit for 2009-10 was published in 2011. I raised some critical objections to the report and the figures published under it. The WRD did not clarify these points. However, there has been no water audit, benchmarking and irrigation status reports published since then!

Maharashtra Water Resource Development Centre (MWRDC) is said to be helping SIT in daily technical matters. MWRDC had been publishing water audit and benchmarking reports for many years without measuring water used and actual irrigated area. Many experts say privately that the MWRDC did not cooperate with Kulkarni Committee which was constituted to investigate barrages on GodavariRiver. Kulkarni Committee reportedly has mentioned this fact in its report.

Above details are part of the current reality of water management in Maharashtra. However, complications in the situation are because of another reason too. Dr. Chitale has been a proponent of a certain school of thought and he has seldom concealed his political inclination. His opinions and actions bear a special strategic meaning. In fact, he appears to behave as if he is on a mission of his parent organization. Against this backdrop, his constant tie-up with ruling class for shaping its water policies while keeping close links with opposition party warrant a detailed political analysis. What is he suggesting? What are his two recent comments pointing at?

7th Annual Marathwada Janata Vikas Parishad was organized on 21st April 2013 at Aurangabad. As an inaugural speaker, Dr. Chitale said, “Our decisions are going wrong because our water discourse is clouded by the dark shadow of agriculture”

Dr. Chitale specially guided industrialists during water management conference organized by Confederation of Indian Industries on 27th June 2013, again in Aurangabad. He said, “Considering the economic growth due to agriculture (4%), industry (8%) & service sector (15%) parallel weightage to all sectors is required.” (Times of India, Aurangabad, 28 June 2013)

Treating water as an economic commodity and referring to agriculture as a ‘dark shadow’ bears disastrous implications for farmers in the state. It underlines the hidden mandate that the Chitale committee is following. Keeping irrigation projects incomplete and transferring water from agriculture to industries seems to be a strategy. It is important to keep a keen watch on the SIT under Dr. Chitale’s chairpersonship (and even Kelkar committee for that matter), its credibility has many question marks already. The issues range beyond corruption.

[Edited Marathi version of this article is published in Divya Marathi (all editions) on 6th July 2013.

Translated by Damodar Pujari, SANDRP, with the permission and approval from the author.)


[1] Kelkar Committee, Headed by former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar, was appointed in May 2011 by Government of Maharashtra to analyse regional development imbalance, especially for regions like Vidarbha, Marathwada and Konkan which are lagging behind in terms of irrigation facilities, road network and spread of education and health infrastructure as compared to regions of Maharashtra.