Delhi

AAP Government in Delhi: Agenda on Water

Dear Arvind and everyone else at AAP,

It is indeed a historic day in Indian politics and governance as AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal took oath at Ramlila Ground today(December 28, 2013). It gives and amazing, thrilling feeling and has filled us with joy and hope. It is indeed likely to change the politics of India in fundamental ways. Salutes to all those who made this possible.

As well wishers we are unable to avoid the temptation of writing to AAP about some of the things they can be done in whatever little time that they may be allowed to govern in Delhi.

1. Democratise governance of DJB Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is one of the most non-transparent, non participatory, unaccountable bodies. Longer term agenda would need to institutionalize bottom up democracy in its functioning from mohalla sabha level to the top. In the mean time, you can tame some immediate steps to ensure that there is immediate independent oversight and participation of the Board. The steps suggested in AAP manifesto like putting daily readings of bulk water meters at each step are certainly welcome, but more steps are required in this line regarding the governance of the Board.

2. Stop Supply side projects Delhi as a city is privileged place. As even planning commission has noted, Delhi gets more per capita water than Amsterdam, Paris, Bonn or most other European cities. The amount of water that Delhi gets is sufficient to provide for necessary needs of today and even for all future times. Delhi should not be asking for any more water from new dam projects like the Renuka, Lakhwar and other dams. To move in that direction, DJB can be asked to prepare a plan for next 20 years (as a first step) assuming Delhi wont get any more water than it currently gets. As you are well aware, there will be several components of this plan including: A. Rainwater harvesting B. Plugging leaks C. Instituting Water Audits D. Putting in place functioning water meters at each junction E. Adequate treatment of wastewater F. Reuse and recycle of waste water G. avoiding unnecessary water intensive activities H. Protecting local water bodies I. Ensuring sustainability of flood plains, Ridge and other such ecological spaces J. Ensuring protection of catchments. 

Delhi's Water Sources
Map of Delhi’s Water Sources

Some of these are elaborated below and all of them can be effectively achieved only with democratic water governance.

DJB should also be asked to get out of the commitment for resources for Renuka and other upstream projects and also need for such projects.

3. Rainwater harvesting Ask DJB to prepare time bound plan to ensure that there are functioning rainwater harvesting and use/ recharge systems in place at: All government buildings, all colleges, all schools, all institutions, all metros, all railway stations, all flyovers, all (over-ground) metro lines, all parks, all malls, all multiplexes, all commercial buildings. Many of the storm water drains can also be used for recharging groundwater where appropriate. This should be time bound and consequences to follow after a reasonable time limit say one year. There should be some credible way of ensuring that these function.

4. Sewage Treatment PlantsDelhi has India’s largest installed capacity of STPs, but none are functioning as per the design in terms of quantity or quality of outputs. Put in place credible governance for these to ensure that they function and make specific officers responsible for these and mechanisms to ensure they face consequences when these STPs do not function. Each plant can immediately have a monitoring committee including AAP or local MLA, media persons, civil society persons and RWA persons. 

There are 18 STPs in Delhi, even though this map shows the location of only 17 STPs
There are 18 STPs in Delhi, even though this map shows the location of only 17

5. Decentralisedsewage capacities Where necessary and possible, put in place decentralized STPs using less resources and more environment friendly methods in a time bound manner. All large establishments in any case should have their own STPs and water recycle plans. Additional STP capacity should preferably be decentralized one. DJB should be asked to prepare norms and plans for these.

6. Sewage reuse plans DJB should be asked to prepare a credible sewage reuse and recycle plans so that there is less pressure on fresh water supply and more recycled sewage is used to meet non potable use in the city. 

In addition to the DJB the three wings of the MCD must also in tune with the DMC Act 1957 be re-vested with roles and responsibilities for an efficient sewerage system and management in the city.  

7. Drainage system A functioning drainage system and their maintenance is key part of urban water system and it is good that AAP manifesto has included this. DJB should be ask to put their plan on this in public domain along with the maintenance system and those responsible for it. Connect this too to Mohalla Sabha.

8. Groundwater governance It is well known that Delhi is over using groundwater, 2004 estimates show that this was 70% above the recharge then. The governance of groundwater use is under DJB and this needs to be democratized and only at RWA, mohalla or ward level can there be proper governance, which needs to be put in place urgently, along with more recharge systems. Ask DJB to prepare a ground water map of Delhi along with aquifer map (over longer term) and use it to integrate rainwater harvesting, local water sources and Delhi water supply.

9. 700 lphd free water Equity in water distribution remains a serious issue in the city. On the AAP promise to provide free water to those that are going to use less than 700 litres water per household (or less than 140 lpcd), while intentions of helping ensure those who are using minimum water is good, there are a large number of question marks. We sincerely hope this does not translate into clamour for more water for Delhi from outside sources. Secondly, we hope this does not lead to wastage of water, which would actually mean less water available for those who do not have. This also hinges on functioning household level water meters. Moreover, 140 lpcd may be the norm, at least 50 lpcd would be guaranteed with credible enforcement mechanism. Even this 50 lpcd can be provided at minimum token price of Rs 1 per KL. Those who use higher quantity should be asked to pay for the full water use with some subsidy and those who use more than 140 lpcd should be asked to pay higher than cost price so that there is some revenue generation for cross subsidization for the poor. Water price should include the full sewage treatment cost. Incentivising local treatment and reuse is an excellent idea in AAP manifesto. 

The Cost of Delhi's Water: Protest against Construction of Renuka Dam in Himachal Pradesh
The Cost of Delhi’s Water: Protest against Construction of Renuka Dam in Himachal Pradesh

10. Investigate Munak stalemate We have noticed that AAP manifesto talks about ensuring that Delhi gets is water share from Munak based on the money spent. However, one of the reasons Delhi is not getting that water is that Delhi did not enter into an agreement with Haryana before agreeing to provide money for the Munak project. It needs to be investigated why did Delhi agree to spend money on Munak before entering into such legal agreement. AAP govt may consider instituting such an investigation.

11. Yamuna river There is a lot that is required to be done for the Yamuna river, some of which has been highlighted in the AAP manifesto as well.  Some of the steps listed above could help the cause of the river. Some of the addition steps should include: a) Demarcate Yamuna flood plain to ensure there is no more encroachment of the same; b) some of the current encroachments can be asked to vacate the flood plain in time bound manner; c) ensure there is some releases of water from Hathnikund and Wazirabad barrages immediately, ask for a long term plan for the river assuming there will be no more dams in the upstream.

12. Transparency about and reversal of agreements with Degremont, Veolia and other private companies The agreement that DJB has entered into with various private companies on Sonia Vihar, Rithala and other projects and the three water supply zones should be put in public domain and ways found to reverse them where possible.

We know Mr Kejriwal and lot of others at AAP would be familiar with a lot of this since Mr Kejriwal led the successful campaign against water privatisation in Delhi in 2005, and we hope credible steps would be taken up in these directions as soon as possible.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Himanshu Thakkar

(ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (https://sandrp.wordpress.com/, http://sandrp.in)

Manoj Misra

(yamunajiye@gmail.com)

Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan (http://www.peaceinst.org/)

International Water Issues

International Court Asks India to Release More Water and Rejects Plea to Re-interpret February Verdict on Kishanganga

PCA Final Order on India-Pakistan Kishanganga Dispute

India asked to increase environmental water releases to 212%;

India’s plea to re-interpret Feb 2013 order rejected;

Both countries asked to expand analysis & practices on e-flows

In a clear set back to Indian government stand, the Final Order of Dec 20, 2013 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)[i] has not only asked India to increase the environmental water flow downstream from the dam at all times to 9 cubic meters per second (Cumecs) from the Indian government proposal of 4.25 cumecs (an increase of 112%), the PCA has also rejected Indian government plea to reconsider or re-interpret the PCA order of Feb 2013 that the 330 MW Kishanganga Hydro Electric Power Project (KHEP) under construction and all other subsequent projects cannot draw down the water level in projects below the dead storage level. (The accompanying maps are from the PCA Award in Feb 2013.)

Kishanganga Hydro Electric Power Project Layout map
Kishanganga Hydro Electric Power Project Layout map

The dispute India’s 330 MW KHEP on Kishangana River (known as Neelum in Pakistan) in Jammu and Kashmir plans to divert the water of Kishanganga River to Bonar Nallah, which then flows to Wular lake. The overflow from Wular lake is known as Jhelum river, which then flows to Pakistan and meets Neelum River there. However, upstream from this confluence, Pakistan is building a 980 MW Neelum Jhelum HEP (NJHEP) on Kishanganga river, called Neelum in Pakistan, and diverting the water to Jhelum. Because of the diversion of water by KHEP, Pakistan fears its NJHEP will become unviable and had filed a case against India in Permanent Court of Arbitration, alleging that the KHEP was in violation of the India Pakistan Indus Water Treaty of 1960. As the official website of PCA says, “On May 17, 2010, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan instituted arbitral proceedings against the Republic of India under Paragraph 2(b) of Annexure G to the Indus Waters Treaty 1960. A Court of Arbitration composed of seven members has been constituted pursuant to Annexure G. The Permanent Court of Arbitration acts as Secretariat to the Court of Arbitration pursuant to Paragraph 15(a) of Annexure G. The Court of Arbitration is composed of: Judge Stephen M. Schwebel (Chairman), Sir Franklin Berman KCMG QC, Professor Howard S. Wheater FREng, Professor Lucius Caflisch, Professor Jan Paulsson, Judge Bruno Simma, H.E. Judge Peter Tomka”. On Feb 18, 2013, the Court gave partial award[ii], that resolved most of the issues, except that of the environment flows that India needs to release from KHEP. The Final award of Dec 20, 2013 is about the environment flows.

What India said about Environment flows “India’s experts examined the riverbed profile at 12 sites at one kilometer intervals from the KHEP to the Line of Control. At each site, India estimated the water level for minimum flows from 0 to 3 cumecs (at increments of 1 cumec), at 3.94 cumec, and from 4 to 10 cumecs (at increments of 0.25 cumecs), and replicated each calculation across the 99.99- percent, 90-percent, 75-percent, 50-percent, 25-percent and 10-percent dependable flow values. India’s experts then compared these depths to the minimum depths required by three umbrella species of fish: brown trout, snow trout and Tibetan stone loach. Based on these calculations, India’s experts conclude that: The reach between the dam and the first tributary is the most vulnerable to reductions in flow and the site at 6 km downstream show the 90th and 99.9th percentile flows as dropping below the minimum 0.5 m depth specified for brown and snow trout. However, Triplophysa [Tibetan stone loach] would have sufficient depths even with a minimum flow of 2.0 m3/s. Thus, the analysis indicates depths would drop below minimum depth requirements for trout species about 10 percent of the time in the upper 5.7-km reach below the dam. Downstream of this point, contribution of runoff from the tributaries will dilute the effects of the dam on flow regime.” (para 65) Based on this India told the court that even 2 cumecs flow would be sufficient, but they offered to release 4.25 cumecs as required by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It is not clear what is the basis for the 4.25 cumecs e-flows as mandated by MoEF.

Pakistan case on Environment FlowsPakistan had presented a more elaborate analysis of environment flow regime. The Award says about the Pakistan case: “In keeping with the DRIFT methodology and based on the predicted response of the indicators to various flow regimes, Pakistan’s experts graded the resultant ecological condition of the Kishenganga/Neelum under the 17 scenarios on a scale from A to F, ranging from pristine to critically modified. The results show that the current baseline condition of the Kishenganga/Neelum at the Line of Control is in low category B (near pristine). Various high release scenarios, for example a 20-cumec minimum flow and above, would maintain the river in category C (moderately modified from natural). Other scenarios, including a 10-cumec minimum flow, would achieve high category D conditions (significantly modified from natural), while a minimum flow of 3.94 cumecs and a maximum diversion scenario would reduce the river to low category D.” (Para 56) Pakistan concludes that between 20 and 40 cumecs flow releases should be required from KHEP. 

Kishanganga Basin Map covering both India and Pakistan
Kishanganga Basin Map covering both India and Pakistan

PCA calls India’s analysis Simplistic and unsatisfactory PCA praises Pakistan analysis: “Pakistan has undertaken a far more extensive analysis, attempting to capture complex interactions within the river ecosystem. The Court notes that assessments of this nature are increasingly used by scientists and policymakers to bring a deeper understanding of ecology to bear on the management and development of river systems.152 In contrast, India has carried out a simpler assessment, drawing its conclusions essentially from a single indicator—the habitat available for selected fish species… Nevertheless, for a project of the magnitude of the KHEP, the Court is of the view that an in-depth assessment of the type that Pakistan has attempted for these proceedings is a more appropriate tool for estimating potential changes in the downstream environment… In contrast, the Court is not wholly satisfied that India’s consideration of the water depths available for fish and its associated analysis offer adequate assurances in light of the complexity of the ecosystem in the Kishenganga/Neelum.” (Para 98, 100)

PCA unconvincingly says E-flow of 12 cumecs is required In Para 103-5 the Award concludes, “as the release falls below 12 cumecs, the lowest flows at the Line of Control progressively become the norm for a significant part of the dry season… The Court provisionally concludes that an approach that takes exclusive account of environmental considerations—assessed in the absence of other considerations—would suggest an environmental flow of some 12 cumecs… And if Pakistan’s hydro-electric uses alone were to be taken into account, moderating the KHEP’s effect on the NJHEP might entail even higher releases.” The PCA analysis as to how it reaches this conclusion is not very convincing, since this is protecting only the minimum flows and not looking at the river as an ecosystem that would require a range of flows. While KHEP may be passing occasional surpluses above 9 cumecs E-flow releases beyond what it cannot divert, but considering the 18.35 Million Cubic Meters storage capacity of the 35.48 m high dam and 58.4 cumecs capacity diversion tunnel with 23.7 km length, the quantum of release in most months in all years and almost all months in lean years will only be minimum flow prescribed by PCA.

More unconvincingly, PCA does not adhere to its own conclusions It is even more disturbing is that PCA decides not to adhere to even this 12 cumecs flow. Its reasoning for the same is equally unconvincing when it says that India has right to set up KHEP and also ensure it works effectively. This has already been concluded, but as PCA has itself stated, this right is not absolute and is subject to environment flow requirements. How can this right change the environment flow requirement remains an unanswered question. The second reason given by PCA in not adhering to this E-flow requirement is that according to Indus Treaty, considerations of customary international environmental norms and practices is secondary to the treaty. But that is not at dispute here, how can that again come in the way of determination of environment flow again remains unanswered. The arbitrary assumption that PCA has to recommend a minimum release more than half the minimum monthly release has resulted in recommendation of 9 cumecs (which is 49.1% of average dry season flow in the driest month of January). This assumption itself is  arbitrary and unjustified. The PCA does not state that KHEP will become unviable with environmental flow releases more than 9 cumecs. In this scenario, just assuming that monthly flows should not be less than 50% due to environmental flows is clearly arbitrary, unscientific and unacceptable.

PCA determination of E-flow of 9 cumecs is also unimpressive In Para 113 the Award says, “The most severe winter in the 34-year record used by both India and Pakistan to assess impacts was 1974-75. The Court notes that, based on India’s data, a minimum flow criterion of 9 cumecs at KHEP is a relatively severe criterion with respect to environmental flow, but would nevertheless be sufficient to maintain the natural flows through the December, January, February period of that winter.” Elsewhere PCA says that this flow will not protect even minimum flow in 16% of the time. It is very disappointing to note that there is no scientific reason provided in the PCA award for arriving at the conclusion that why 9 cumecs E-flow would be sufficient.

Implication of 9 cumecs on KHEP generation “Preserving a minimum flow of 9 cumecs would result in a monthly reduction in energy generation at the KHEP of, on average, 19.5 GWh from October to March… On an annual basis, the average reduction in energy generation at the KHEP would be 5.7 percent… The Court’s figures for the net and percentage reduction in energy generation are calculated as against the 4.25-cumec minimum flow ordered by the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests, which the Court takes as the baseline for its determination and for the purposes of this Award.” (para 114, footnote 165)

PCA uses minimum flows for environmental flow without providing plausible explanation It is strange that throughout the award, PCA uses the word “minimum flow” for environmental flow. It is apparent that PCA knows the difference, but the reasons it gives for this in a footnote (no 151, para 97) is rather lame: “It is only the particular characteristics of the Kishenganga/ Neelum and the fact that low-season flows appear to be the principal drivers of ecological change that permit the Court to discuss environmental flows in terms of a fixed minimum.” This is doing a lot of dis-service to the cause of environmental flows.

PCA fails to mandate the method of E-flow releases One had expected that the PCA would, beside deciding the quantum of flow releases, would also mandate the method of flow releases, including mandating well designed fish ladder and ensuring more regular sediment transport. Even as India considered only three umbrella species, 2 of these species (snow trout and brown trout) migrate in the downstream in winters. Without a fish ladder, these species will be severely affected. The PCA award says what India and Pakistan say about sediment flow, but PCA itself does not say anything about the impact of changing sediment flow on the river ecosystem. One had hoped that PCA would make it clear that India cannot make the E-flow releases through a dam tow power house as India is doing in a number of other projects. One was looking for the PCA assessment of impacts of KHEP on the 12.07 km long downstream river stretch within India, since the stretch beyond Line of Control cannot be healthy if the stretch before is not. One sought for not just the lean season flow, but a range of flow regimes, including daily changing flows in each season[iii]. The changing flood character downstream from KHEP was also expected to be assessed by the PCA as also the issue of safe operation of the project. Unfortunately, there was only disappointment on each of these counts.

There was also an expectation that the PCA would put all the submissions of both parties in public domain.

Indian media misleads the nation The actual PCA award of Dec 20, 2013 is clearly contrary to the message the Indian Media seems to be giving. For example, the front page headline of The Tribune screamed on Dec 22, 2013[iv], Kishenganga: India’s right upheld – Arbitration court rejects Pakistan objection to diversion of water for power by India in J-K (in reality, this was not the PCA decision of Dec 20, 2013, it was the decision of Feb 2013 order. The Indian Express headline[v] on the same day was equally misleading: Kishanganga: Court lets India build, operate as it wants. This again was a decision of Feb 2013, not of Dec 20, 2013. The Times of India only had one-column news buried on page 20, strangely with dateline PTI-Islamabad, saying equally misleadingly[vi]: Kishanganga project gets official nod.

Pakistan Media Pakistan’s newspaper Business Recorder on Sunday said[vii]: Kishanganga: India allowed to divert minimum flow of water: Commissioner. The Pakistan Tribune headline[viii] said: Kishanganga project: Victory claims cloud final arbitration award. They sound closer to the PCA order of Dec 20, 2013. The News headline[ix] was though off the mark:  ICA allows India to construct Kishanganga Dam.

Concluding PCA advise The PCA awards notes that Pakistan’s historical practices does not match with what it was demanding from India in case of KHEP and that India’s own analysis of downstream impacts was too simplistic and unsatisfactory. It has advised both countries to expand their analysis and practices on environment flow regime and has clearly stated that this will not be against their drive for more power generation. This is good in spite of number of disappointments of the PCA award listed above. We hope both countries heed this advice earnestly and at the earliest. We also hope the media in both countries would report this in proper perspective.

Himanshu Thakkar[x], SANDRP

———

Important Extracts from PCA Final Order of Dec 20, 2013

Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based at The Hague Source: PCA website
Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based at The Hague
Source: PCA website

India’s argument: “releases from the KHEP will also reduce energy generation at India’s Uri-I and Uri-II projects on the lower Jhelum” (para 43 of PCA order of 201213)

“The average annual loss in energy generation at KHEP is the maximum in 90% Dependable Year (Dry Year) viz. about 16% [with a 10-cumec minimum release] which works out as around 32 MU per cumec… the loss being as high as 80.2% in percentage terms in the month of December corresponding to minimum release of 10 cumec.” (para 44)

“According to India, any minimum flow greater than 4.25 cumecs would seriously compromise the economic viability of the KHEP. Examining a 90-percent dependable (dry) year (on the basis of which the KHEP was designed), India submits that a minimum release of 20 cumecs would render the KHEP inoperable for three months of the year, while Pakistan’s 100-cumec release would prevent the KHEP from operating for 10 months of the year”. (para 46)

“… even this 7.2 cumec scenario would result in the KHEP being able to operate at its design discharge for only four months of the year”. (para 48)

Pakistan: “Pakistan presents its data on environmental concerns through a revised submission based on the DRIFT methodology (“Downstream Implications of Flow Transformation”) employed in its expert submissions earlier in these proceedings.86 This approach endeavours to estimate the effect of changes to the flow regime through the integrated examination of a large number of indicators related to the hydrology, sediments, hydraulics, geomorphology, water quality, vegetation, macroinvertebrates, and fish of the river” (Para 54)

“Pakistan notes that the release of 4.25 cumecs mandated by the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests “is not supported by any reasoning, either in the October 2012 decision of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests or in India’s submission.” (para 59)

“Pakistan’s experts further note that “[i]n terms of conditions that the aquatic life would face through their 30 scenarios, DHI predicts maximum depths of questionable validity; DHI predicts velocities that are not subsequently used; and DHI does not predict at all how much wetted river bed would be left for the organisms to live in… According to Pakistan, India’s experts then consider only the survival of three fish species, and only on the basis of undocumented minimum (rather than optimum) depths for each species… They do not specify the habitat needs of any other aquatic organisms. Their conclusions that a minimum depth of 0.5 m for trout and 0.25 m for loach are sufficient for survival are not supported by the data they present. Even if they are, DHI’s targeting of the lowest depths fish were found at, rather than analysing their data to produce optimum depths, is not appropriate and would not promote fish survival… India’s experts then proceed to link “maximum water depths with minimum fish depth requirements” in an approach that Pakistan’s experts consider “obscure, simplistic and misleading.” (Para 60)

India: “In approaching the question of the environmental effects of the KHEP, India first notes that the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests has fixed a minimum flow of 4.25 cumecs for the KHEP. According to India, this figure was set after a process that considers “all the relevant environmental and socio-economic factors” leading to results that vary from project to project.” (Para 62)

In the view of India’s experts, “[t]he reduction in sediment downstream of the KHEP dam resulting from sediment trapping will be minor,” and in any event “native species have evolved in a dynamic environment, in which they periodically take refuge from high mainstem sediment concentrations by migrating up tributaries.”110 Similarly, India’s experts conclude that because the KHEP has limited pondage and retains water for only a short period of time, “alteration in temperature and its impact becomes negligible.” (Para 64)

On flow regime “India’s experts examined the riverbed profile at 12 sites at one kilometer intervals from the KHEP to the Line of Control. At each site, India estimated the water level for minimum flows from 0 to 3 cumecs (at increments of 1 cumec), at 3.94 cumec, and from 4 to 10 cumecs (at increments of 0.25 cumecs), and replicated each calculation across the 99.99- percent, 90-percent, 75-percent, 50-percent, 25-percent and 10-percent dependable flow values.112 India’s experts then compared these depths to the minimum depths required by three umbrella species of fish: brown trout, snow trout and Tibetan stone loach. Based on these calculations, India’s experts conclude that: The reach between the dam and the first tributary is the most vulnerable to reductions in flow and the site at 6km downstream show the 90th and 99.9th percentile flows as dropping below the minimum 0.5 m depth specified for brown and snow trout. However, Triplophysa [Tibetan stone loach] would have sufficient depths even with a minimum flow of 2.0 m3/s. Thus, the analysis indicates depths would drop below minimum depth requirements for trout species about 10 percent of the time in the upper 5.7-km reach below the dam. Downstream of this point, contribution of runoff from the tributaries will dilute the effects of the dam on flow regime.” (para 65)

“Given these limited effects, India argues that “a minimum flow of 2.0 cumec will suffice to protect the three umbrella species in the stretch down to the LOC [Line of Control].” (para 66)

“[DRIFT] is thus designed as a planning tool, not as a normative instrument.”118 India considers DRIFT to be “inappropriate for the purposes in question here” and considers it significant that DRIFT has not been used extensively in Asia, in light of the importance of local knowledge and expertise in the analytic process” (para 68)

“As Pakistan makes use of a constant minimum flow on its own dams, India views this as the only permissible approach at the KHEP for, in its view, the Treaty limits the obligations on the Parties to “customary practices followed in similar situations” when assessing what measures must reasonably be taken (for instance, with respect to such matters as environmental pollution)… India also submits that anything other than a constant minimum flow would place excessive administrative burdens on India, which would “inevitably require India to respond to Pakistani requests to justify its measurements, calculations and actual releases.” (para 69)

On Monitoring “Pakistan therefore requests an order from the Court that the flow regime be supported by India providing to Pakistan, on a real time basis, (i) daily flow data from gauges recording the inflow into the KHEP reservoir and the outflow below the KHEP dam, as well as (ii) the reservoir level, and (iii) with regular inspections permitted to Pakistan of the gauging stations.” (Para 71)

PCA Purpose for Final Award  “As indicated in paragraphs 455-457 of the Partial Award, the purpose of this Final Award is to fix the precise rate of the minimum flow to be preserved downstream of the KHEP.” (Para 78)

“At the same time, in fixing this minimum flow, the Court must give due regard, in keeping with Paragraph 29 of Annexure G, to the customary international law requirements of avoiding or mitigating trans-boundary harm and of reconciling economic development with the protection of the environment.” (Para 87)

On Pakistan Failure “In now setting a fixed minimum flow, anticipated future agricultural uses would ordinarily feature in the Court’s determination. However, as Pakistan has not submitted even an estimate of the likely scope of such development, much less evidence upon which the Court could rely, the Court is unable to take account of such potential uses” (para 94)

On “minimum” vs “environmental” flow “It is only the particular characteristics of the Kishenganga/Neelum and the fact that low-season flows appear to be the principal drivers of ecological change that permit the Court to discuss environmental flows in terms of a fixed minimum. At the same time, because the Court’s ultimate flow determination is based not solely on the environment, but also on hydro-electric power generation as required under the Treaty, the Court’s decision fixes a “minimum flow.” Insofar as this minimum flow serves to mitigate significant environmental harm, it also serves as an environmental flow without being synonymous with that term.” (footnote 151, para 97)

On Downstream Impact Assessment “Pakistan has undertaken a far more extensive analysis, attempting to capture complex interactions within the river ecosystem. The Court notes that assessments of this nature are increasingly used by scientists and policymakers to bring a deeper understanding of ecology to bear on the management and development of river systems.152 In contrast, India has carried out a simpler assessment, drawing its conclusions essentially from a single indicator—the habitat available for selected fish species… Nevertheless, for a project of the magnitude of the KHEP, the Court is of the view that an in-depth assessment of the type that Pakistan has attempted for these proceedings is a more appropriate tool for estimating potential changes in the downstream environment… In contrast, the Court is not wholly satisfied that India’s consideration of the water depths available for fish and its associated analysis offer adequate assurances in light of the complexity of the ecosystem in the Kishenganga/Neelum.” (Para 98, 100)

Criticism of Pakistan’s practices in Env flows “The Court acknowledges India’s point that the environmental sensitivity that Pakistan urges in these proceedings does not match Pakistan’s own historical practices, where the environmental flow has often been set at a low minimum, apparently using a “rule of thumb” approach.” (Para 101)

PCA advise to both countries “With respect to the information brought to bear on decision-making, however, the Court sees no reason to remain wedded to past practices. On the contrary, more comprehensive and accurate information on the likely impacts of infrastructure projects can only benefit decision-making in both Pakistan and India. The Court urges both Parties to continue or expand their attention to environmental considerations at other projects, including the NJHEP. In the Court’s view, such an approach is consistent with the acute need of both Parties for increased production of hydro-power. Indeed, the Court’s ultimate decision on the minimum flow is informed by a deep awareness of the critical importance (and shortage) of electricity in both India and Pakistan. Meaningful development in this area need not be at odds with careful consideration of environmental effects.” (Para 101)

12 cumecs Flow Regime “For example, based on India’s 1971-2004 10-day flow estimates, under current conditions, a flow of 12 cumecs at the Line of Control represents an exceptional event, with just nine occurrences of lower 10-day flows in 34 years. As the release from the KHEP drops below 12 cumecs, however, this exceptional condition would become more common, rising to 16 percent of the time with a release of 9 cumecs, and 30 percent of the time with an 8-cumec release. In other words, as the release falls below 12 cumecs, the lowest flows at the Line of Control progressively become the norm for a significant part of the dry season… The Court provisionally concludes that an approach that takes exclusive account of environmental considerations—assessed in the absence of other considerations—would suggest an environmental flow of some 12 cumecs… And if Pakistan’s hydro-electric uses alone were to be taken into account, moderating the KHEP’s effect on the NJHEP might entail even higher releases.” (Para 103-5)

Unconvincing reason for variable release regime “Since the Parties’ data indicate that the effect of the KHEP on dry-season flows is the principal determinant of ecological change, the Court sees no reason to consider a percentage or variable release regime… This would, of course, not necessarily be the case with other river conditions, and the Court’s decision in this respect should not be interpreted to equate an environmental flow with a fixed minimum flow. Under other circumstances, in particular where the difficulties of cooperation between the multiple State bureaucracies are not present, the appropriate environmental flow could well involve a regime of variable releases.” (Para 104)

Unconvincing reason for abandoning 12 cumecs flow “First, as India correctly observes,155 the Partial Award accorded priority to the KHEP… The right to operate the KHEP is a right to operate it effectively… In balancing India’s right to operate the KHEP effectively with the needs of the downstream environment, the Court has decided that, on the basis of the evidence currently available, India should have access to at least half of the average flow at the KHEP site during the driest months. In the Court’s view, it would not be in conformity with the Treaty to fix a minimum release above half the minimum monthly average flow for the purpose of avoiding adverse effects on the NJHEP.” (Para 107-109) This is most unconvincing. As PCA order notes in next (Para 110) Para, “The Court’s Partial Award did not make the operation of the KHEP immune from environmental considerations.” Moreover, “recourse to customary international law is conditioned by Paragraph 29 of Annexure G to the Indus Waters Treaty… (thus) this (Indus) Treaty expressly limits the extent to which the Court may have recourse to, and apply, sources of law beyond the Treaty itself.” (para 111)

““States have ‘a duty to prevent, or at least mitigate’ significant harm to the environment when pursuing large-scale construction activities.” In light of this duty, the Court has no difficulty concluding that the requirement of an environmental flow (without prejudice to the level of such flow) is necessary in the application of the Treaty. At the same time,… If customary international law were applied not to circumscribe, but to negate rights expressly granted in the Treaty, this would no longer be “interpretation or application” of the Treaty but the substitution of customary law in place of the Treaty… That Paragraph 29 does not permit.” (Para 112)

“The most severe winter in the 34-year record used by both India and Pakistan to assess impacts was 1974-75. The Court notes that, based on India’s data, a minimum flow criterion of 9 cumecs at KHEP is a relatively severe criterion with respect to environmental flow, but would nevertheless be sufficient to maintain the natural flows through the December, January, February period of that winter.” (para 113)

“However, given the right of India to develop hydropower, and the associated right to operate KHEP effectively, the Court considers that a high category D (‘significantly modified from normal’) represents an appropriate balance between the needs of the environment and India’s rights for power generation.” (footnote 163- para 113)

“For the avoidance of doubt, if at any time the flow in the Kishenganga/Neelum immediately upstream of the KHEP dam is below 9 cumecs, India is only required to release an amount equivalent to 100 percent of the inflow, until such time as the flow upstream of the KHEP dam again exceeds 9 cumecs.” (footnote 166)

Implication of 9 cumecs on KHEP generation “Examining the effect that a 9-cumec minimum would have on the KHEP, the Court notes that this would, on average, accord India 51.9 percent of the flow at the KHEP dam site during the month of January, and that India’s portion of the flow would increase to more than 60 percent in November and February, and well over 75 percent in October and March. Preserving a minimum flow of 9 cumecs would result in a monthly reduction in energy generation at the KHEP of, on average, 19.5 GWh from October to March. Although such a reduction is quite significant—in percentage terms—during the driest month of January, over the dry season as a whole it would amount to a 19.2 percent average reduction in energy generation. On an annual basis, the average reduction in energy generation at the KHEP would be 5.7 percent.” (para 114) “The Court’s figures for the net and percentage reduction in energy generation are calculated as against the 4.25-cumec minimum flow ordered by the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests, which the Court takes as the baseline for its determination and for the purposes of this Award.” (footnote 165)

Climate change? “Uncertainty is also present in attempts to predict future flow conditions, and the Court is cognizant that flows in the Kishenganga/Neelum may come to differ, perhaps significantly, from the historical record as a result of factors beyond the control of either Party, including climate change.” (para 117)

Review “If, beginning seven years after the diversion of the Kishenganga/Neelum through the KHEP, either Party considers that reconsideration of the Court’s determination of the minimum flow is necessary, it will be entitled to seek such reconsideration through the Permanent Indus Commission and the mechanisms of the Treaty.” (para 119)

Compiled by SANDRP

END NOTES:


[iii] In this respect the PCA award is more backward that India’s own current environment flow regime that mandates seasonal flows and the BK Chaturvedi committee has actually asked for daily changing flows so that the releases mimic the river flow regime.

[x] Thanks to Shripad Dharmadhikary and Parineeta Dandekar for providing comments on earlier drafts of this.

Ministry of Environment and Forests

Veerappa Moily as Environment Minister??? Has the UPA leadership learnt no lessons from AAP experience?

In a bizarre turn of events, as Jayanthi Natarajan resigned as Union Minister of State of Environment and Forests (Independent charge), she has been reportedly replaced by Veerappa Moily[i]. He holds Union Oil and Petroleum Ministry currently and will hold Ministry of Environment and Forests Ministry as an additional charge. Firstly there is issue of conflict of interest there, since projects from Oil and Petroleum ministry also come for environment clearances.

This choice of Veerappa Moily as the new Minister of Environment and Forests is shocking, ironical and unacceptable for many reasons. It seems the leadership of Congress and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has learnt no lessons from its Delhi election debacle. Mr. Moily’s appointment as Petroleum Minister in place of Jaipal Reddy was widely criticized as a sop to a specific private sector oil company[ii]. While we do not want to compare Mr. Reddy as Petroleum minister with Ms. Natarajan as Environment minister, Mr. Moily’s appointment as Environment Minister seems to cater to similar lobby for hydropower projects and dams.

Let us look at just a few instances to substantiate this.  

Veerappa Moily laid the foundation stone of 85 MW Mawphu Stage II Hydel Project in Meghalaya in September 2012.[iii] The project is to be developed by NEEPCO (North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited). Shockingly Veerappa Moily laid this foundation stone even when the project did not have any of the statutory clearances from the Environment Ministry! This only indicates his callousness towards issues related to people and environment. The project has applied for 1st stage (Terms of Reference) Clearance only in January 2013 and that too has not been issued so far.

“Moily’s love for Hydels” Even as Hydel Power remains one of the most complex, controversial and problematic sectors with huge impacts on environment, people, downstream impacts, disaster implications, Veerappa Moily has been openly supporting Hydel power projects. He has been reported to have sent a note to the Prime Minister, pushing hydel power and Hydel Power Projects. This has been referred by the media as “Moily’s love for Hydels”.[iv]

Mr. Moily has urged the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister to “Fast Track” Hydel Projects, and specifically seems to favour NEEPCO and NHPC. NHPC already holds several hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh including the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Project which is witnessing possibly the strongest protest in the country from downstream Assam. [v]

In 2011, Veerappa Moily actually wrote to MoEF against expanding boundaries of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Dakshin Kannada.[vi] He wrote that people from affected regions will lose homes and livelihoods. But the region under expansion includes parts of reserved forests. Environmental groups stressed that the pressure against expansion is not coming from people but from the powerful hydel and timber lobby which is causing serious environmental and social impacts in the region.[vii]

Support for controversial Yettinhole Project Mr Moily is staunchly supporting the very controversial Netravathi Diversion project (which is now labelled as Yettinahole Diversion Project, only to mislead people) for his constituency of Chikkaballapur.[viii] He is even asking people of Dakshin Kannada not to oppose the project (he has lost elections from that area more than once). This project has fraudulently tried to escape environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. It entails 8 dams inside Western Ghats forest regions, affecting protected areas , a dam at Devaranyadurga which will submerge 1200 hectares of land including nearly 700 hecatres of forests and many villages. The proposal will cost minimum Rs. 100 Billion and is economically as well as technically unviable.[ix]

There is little doubt that Mr. Moily is an incorrect, inappropriate and unacceptable choice for the post of Union Minister of Environment and Forests. The UPA government is only committing blunders after blunders in the face of elections. We urge the UPA leadership to immediately change this decision. It would be in their own interest to do that.

parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com , SANDRP

 PS: This Indian Express story seems to corroborate that the change is not for what is stated, but in favour of the Business and against the interests of the Environment and People. UPA will pay dearly for this: http://www.indianexpress.com/…/pm-wakes-up…/1210241/0

END NOTES:


Dams · Maharashtra

Multiple Dams for Mumbai Region have Severe Impacts and are Unjustifiable

Press Release                                                                                                                                                  18.12.13                           

Multiple Dams for Mumbai Region have severe impacts and are unjustifiable

More than 50 people including tribal groups, social activists, water experts, ecologists and wildlife experts, academics came together for a brainstorming workshop about Dams coming up for Mumbai Region. The meeting was organized by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Jalbiradari and Keystone Foundation.

About 12 dams are planned or are under construction to satisfy the increasing thirst of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). All of these dams fall in eco-sensitive region of the Western Ghats. They will together submerge more than 22,000 hectares of land, including nearly 7000 hectares of forests, lakhs of trees and more than 750 hectares of Tansa Sanctuary. They will affect a minimum of 100,000 tribals who depend on the forests and their ancestral lands for livelihoods. These dams include Kalu, Shai, Balganga, Susari, Khargihill, Bhugad, Pinjal, Gargai, Middle Vaitarna, Barvi and Poshir, among others. These are in addition to the dams already constructed for MMR water supply.

Tribals and other affected groups of Thane and Raigad region have been strongly opposing these projects. Most people in Mumbai seems unaware of their struggles or impacts of these projects.

Most of these dams are escaping the social and environmental impact assessments and management plans, environment clearance requirements, environmental monitoring or public consultations due  to blunders in environmental impact assessment notification of Sept 2006, which excludes domestic and industrial water supply projects from environmental clearance process.

MMR has not done any sort of options assessment before pushing these projects and cursory review show that many options exist. At the city or Region level, there is no shortfall in water supply currently and the existing problems are due to inequitable, non-transparent, non-participatory and wasteful water governance in MMR. Municipal corporations under the MMR which are pushing new dams do not treat even 15% of their sewage. Bhiwandi Nizampur & Vasai Virar Corp do not treat ANY of their sewage. The Mumbai Region has no estimate of its rainwater harvesting potential, and there is little effective action in this direction despite high rainfall. Water supply and distribution losses are over 30%. Local water sources like rivers, lakes and wells are being destroyed by pollution and encroachments. There is no interest in democratizing governance of MMR water sector.

We urge the MMR region to address these issues first, which would lead to sustainable water supply to the city and suburbs. Konkan Irrigation Department which is constructing most of these projects has violated several laws related to tribal and forest rights, environment, forests and resettlement and has been mostly favoring a single contractor, illegally.

We strongly urge the MMRDA, MCGM, Municipal Corporations of MMR, Maharashtra government, Union Ministry of environment and forests, Maharashtra Forest Department, National Board of Wildlife and all others concerned to ensure that following steps are taken up urgently and in a credible way:

  1. Undertake thorough options assessment for Mumbai’s (and also same for other cities of MMR) water needs which includes groundwater use, local water sources, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and reuse, water supply efficiency, etc.,
  2. Undertake Environmental and Social impact assessments for all the dams coming up for Mumbai Region
  3. Take immediate action against KIDC for violating multiple laws while bulldozing ahead with projects and MMRDA for funding projects in the absence of clearances
  4. Respect peoples protests and Gram Sabha resolutions against displacement, deforestation and their refusal to give permission for these projects
  5. Take strong penal action against the officers and the contractors who have displaced Adivasis illegally
  6. Not to resume any work or planning for any project before the above is done, stop work on projects in the meantime.
  7. Change the EIA notification to ensure that all large dams are included for environment clearance, public hearings and EIA requirements.
  8. Immediately institute a credible Cumulative Impact Assessment of the projects already constructed and advanced in implementation.
  9. Institutionalize decentralized, democratic governance of water sector in MMR from bottom to top.

 

Forests in the Western Ghats are Mumbai’s and MMR’s lungs. They are the watersheds of rivers and water sources like Tansa and Bhatsa and naturally purify Mumbai’s & MMR’s drinking water.

Rich tribal culture of Thane and Raigad is a shared heritage of Mumbai and we have no right to displace the tribals or destroy their livelihoods.

Stop this destruction in Mumbai’s backyard.

Indavi Tulpule (indavi62@gmail.com), Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Thane;

Surekha Dalvi, (surekhadalavi@yahoo.com) Shramik Kranti Sangathana: Raigad;

Brian Lobo, (brianlobo6@gmail.com) Shramik Kashtakari Sanagthana: Dahanu;

Prashant Sarkhot, (loksangramsamiti@gmail.com)Shai Dharan Viroddhi Samiti,

Sitaram Shelar (sitaram.shelar@yuvaindia.org) YUVA, Mumbai;

Janak Daftari (daffy@jalsangrah.org), Jal Biradari, Mumbai

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

Parineeta Dandekar (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com, 09860030472), SANDRP, Pune

 

Bihar · Embankments

Flood activist Shashi Shekhar on indefinite fast in Sitamarhi (Bihar) Against Unwanted & unjustified embankment and for a River

Today (on Dec 17, 2013) is the 8th day of indefinite fast by flood activist Shashi Shekhar in Sitamarhi (Bihar) with a demand to stop work on the unwanted and unjustified embankment along the Jheem river (part of Adhwara group of rivers in North Bihar) and for bringing Lakhandehi river back to its path where it was flowing less than a decade back. Several others have joined the fast since it started on Dec 10, 2013.

Activist Shashi Shekhar Speaking at a workshop in Patna
Activist Shashi Shekhar Speaking at a workshop in Patna

The demand is to prevent the shifting of river Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) toward east and to divert the river towards the west, so that the 147 km stretch of the original course resumes to get the river water, thereby helping hundreds and thousands of farmers, who are presently facing water scarcity. This can be done by desilting of the Lakhandehi river. The demand is also to stop work on the embankment along the Jheem River.

We are copying below the statement below compiled by Megh Pyne Abhiyaan, Bihar, from the statements and reports provided by Mr Shashi Shekhar. It explains the background of the situation.

Bihar government that has taken the decision of building the embankment without any consultation with the local people and even without any impact assessment and seems to be driven by contractor interests and have not yet bothered to respond. The state water resources ministry says that only the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar can take a decision on this and we see not effort from that quarter. With every passing day the health of Mr. Shekhar is deteriorating and the state government will be held responsible for any eventuality in this regard.

All this also highlights a serious anomaly in the Government of India’s EIA notification of Sept 2006 that excludes embankments and other such flood related structures from the need for environment clearances, environment impact assessments and also any public consultation process. This is clearly wrong since embankments have huge social and environmental impacts. This needs to urgently change, but the MoEF has not done that in spite of numerous letters to the ministry since 2006.

Local media is reporting on this on daily basis; the national media is yet to carry this except an isolated report or two[1]. We hope national media carries this important news.

SANDRP

PS: On Dec 19, 2013, Eklavya Prasad conveyed: Flood-activist Shashi Shekhar’s indefinite fast (against the construction of embankments along Adhwara Samuh and demanding de-silting of River Lakshmana Ganga (also known as Lakhandehi) was called off last evening. The negotiations between the district administration/state and Shashiji went off well and ALL his demands were have been accepted. According to Shashiji his indefinite fast has helped to take issues to a logical conclusion!

2. No action was taken following the assurances, so the fast was to resume in January 2014 as per this report: http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/indefinite-fast-continues.

3. Chicu from IWP wrote this piece in March 2014, which says the demand of bringing the Lakhandei river back to its course is not feasible and due to the priorities of the state government, the construction of embankments is likely to continue.

4. July 28, 2014: A petition by Shashi Shekhar against “the present project for raising the embankment along river Jhim and Jamura (Adhwara Group) from Sonbarsa Bazar to Sonbarsa Village” was rejected by Patna High Court, see full order: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/154770140/. It said in the end: “Counsel for the petitioners then submitted that in the name of the project the executants of the project are coming to the raiyati land in the adjoining area and are forcibly cutting the soil from the raiyati land. If that is so, the raiyat concerned, from whose land soil is forcibly taken out by the executants of the project, is at liberty to lodge First Information Report against such illegal soil cutting from the raiyati land.”

5. March 28, 2017: A petition by Brahmaputra Infrastructures, one of the contractor for the project, in Patna High Court. The order is available here: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/50437728/.

Statement

 

Sangharsh Yatra – A incessant protest for service, development and justice

Highlight On December 10, Shashi Shekhar, a well-known flood activist from Sitamarhi district of north Bihar started an indefinite fast on the banks of River Lakshmana Ganga (also known as Lakhandehi), as part of Sangharsh Yatra, protesting against the construction of embankments along Adhwara Samuh rivers.

Background River Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) previously flowed into India near pillar number 32 at Dularpur village in the Sonbarsa block of Sitamarhi district after crossing Simraha in Nepal. The distance between these two villages across the border is approximately 1.5 kilometers (km). However, presently the river has shifted almost 1-1.5 km east from its original location (i.e pillar number 32). The reason for this shift is being attributed to the siltation that has occurred, 8 km north of the Indo-Nepal border around Laxmipur village, which is located in Nepal. Because of this shift, the river on the Indian side has now started flowing near pillar number 35 at Choti-Bharsar village.

The shift in the river’s course towards east has resulted in its draining into river Jamuda, which is a part of the Adhwara-Samuh. Additional water of river Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) in river Jamuda has started causing floods thereby affecting Sitamarhi, Darbhanga, and a small part of Madhubani districts. People fear that the consistent shifting and flooding of Lakhandehi towards the east will lead to the flooding of the river Jheem, which is also a part of the Adhwara-samuh. They believe that flooding of Jheem will create havoc in the region as Sonbarsa block will get inundated. The shifting of the Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) from the west to east has dried up the original 147 km stretch of the river (in India), causing problems for the local farmers. Sustenance of productive agriculture along the old course of Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) is posing as a huge challenge.

The protest According to Shekhar, since 2002 he has been fighting against the mindless construction of embankments by writing letters to various government authorities and holding discussions with the concerned officials. However, there has been no positive response from the Bihar government, forcing him to take the extreme step of indefinite fast to protect the rivers from further destruction.

According to Shekhar this indefinite fast is to attract state government’s attention to prevent the shifting of river Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) toward east and to divert the river towards the west, so that the 147 km stretch of the original course resumes to get the river water, thereby helping hundreds and thousands of farmers, who are presently facing the wrath of river water scarcity. On the other hand, Shekhar is also trying to address the problems of farmers around and along the river Jamuda of excessive floods, being caused by the the draining of the river Lakshmana Ganga’s (Lakhandehi) water into river Jamuda. The other reason for Shekhar to resort to an indefinite fast is to highlight the skewed flood management strategy adopted by the state government. According to him, the shifting of Lakhandehi is causing excessive floods in Adhwara-Samuh. However, the state instead of constructing ‘thokars’ (boulder structures) to divert Lakhandehi from east to west, is investing in construction of embankments along the rivers of Adhwara Samuh.

The sheer diversion of the river Lakhandehi will substantially reduce the incidences of floods in Adhwara Samuh. This simple logic/solution is being ignored by the state government under the pretext of Lakhnadehi being a trans-boundary river, as if no structural intervention has ever taken place in any trans-boundary rivers in north Bihar.  According to him the state government is using the scenario to basically push for the mindless construction of embankments along the Adhwara Samuh rivers. The embankments that are being constructed are approximately 20-25 feet tall and the distance between two embankments is 80-500 feet. Shekhar is unable to fathom the technical reasons for the constructions of these embankments along the rivers that stay dry for almost four months a year and are only 20-40 feet wide.

Shekhar is raising strong objections to the manner in which embankments are being constructed and repaired on Adhwara Samuh rivers by contractors – M/S Brahamputra Construction and M/S Avantika Dhara Reddy and Brothers. With support of police officials and some bureaucrats, these contractors have forcibly taken lands from the farmers by threatening them to sign on false papers. Shekhar claims that no compensation has been given by the government for the land that is inside and outside (immediate vicinity) of the embankment. The land acquired for the construction of the embankment is what has been compensated, though farmers have been offered a pittance as compensation against their land.

According to Shekhar, all statutory compliances have been flouted. BIS states that excavation of earth should take place at the distance of 80 feet from the embankment. He mentions that the BIS also states that apart from leaving a distance of 80 feet the excavation should happen parallel to the embankment in small stretches of 20 feet length and 1-3 feet depth. The reason for the excavation to happen in small stretches is to prevent formation of drainage along the embankment. In reality, the excavation is taking place haphazardly. The contractors/petty contractors are extracting earth within 2-5 feet from both sides of the embankment; with an approximate depth of 10 feet and in the process the standing crops have been destroyed for which no compensation has been given to farmers. Shekhar states that the present practice is turning out to be a big scam which he calls as ‘Mitti Ghotatla’ – Soil/Clay scam. Felling of trees along Lakhandehi, Adhwara Samuh and Bhagmati rivers have been carried out for construction purposes. All this is having an adverse environmental/ecological impact on the rivers and human population. Shekhar is unable to fathom why the state government is not keen on diverting river Lakshmana Ganga’s (Lakhandehi) water which will cost far less than constructing embankment on Adhwara Samuh.

Through his indefinite fast, Shekhar is demanding rightful compensation for the affected farmers; a high level enquiry into the illegal manner in which embankments have been constructed along Adhwara Samuh rivers by deceiving local villagers; withdrawal of false police case against satyagrahis fighting to protect the river; an investigation of links between both the contractors — M/S Brahamputra Construction and M/S Avantika Dhara Reddy and Brothers — and Naxalite groups; and an enquiry into the soil/clay scam worth Rs 200 crore in Bagmati and Adhwara Samuh rivers.

Shashi Shekharji has been able to generate support from opposition leaders within the state, farmers and spiritual people from the region but is looking forward to additional support from all quarters to create pressure on the state government to explore alternatives….

(Compiled by – Nidhi Jamwal, Bhavya Durgesh Nandini and Eklavya Prasad)

Statement in Hindi

Statement in Hindi 

Sources

Þ     Personal communication Shashi Shekhar, Dec 2013;

Þ     Brief – Sangharsh Yatra, Dec 2013

 

Dams

Note on Short film on Uttarakhand Flood Disaster

Uttarakhand Flood disaster, June 2013:

A Short film on: Role of Dams in Uttarakhand Flood Disaster

Return of Ganga, SANDRP and VAMTAM has produced a 12 minutes film Flood Ravage and the Dams of Uttarakhand (Uttarakhand Flood Disaster – June 2013), available in Hindi and English.

In June 2013, the state of Uttarakhand, nestled in Western Himalayas in Northern India faced its worst flood disaster in recorded history. During the disaster and after, both electronic and print media, in English and local languages played an important role in highlighting the manmade nature of this disaster. Some of the man-made facets include the climate change, callous administration with zero disaster preparedness or response and haphazard, coupled with unregulated and unscientific infrastructure building in fragile and vulnerable ecology of the Himalayas and the upper GangaRiver Basin. The building of huge road network, tourism onslaught & infrastructure and hydropower projects, neglecting the disaster vulnerabilities of the region was generally talked about.

This short film tries to give an idea of the role played by existing and under construction hydropower projects in the disaster. It presents information, photos, maps, videos, google images and voices of the affected areas and people in the context of hydropower projects. It contains photos of the dams and tunnels of the hydropower projects before and after the disaster. It provides some first hand accounts of the impacts of hydropower projects on communities. While climate change was a trigger for the disaster, the role played by the blasting, tunneling, damming and deforestation, related to hydropower projects was significant.

SANDRP and many concerned organisations had collectively written to the authorities to investigate the role of the hydropower projects in Uttarakhand disaster. All these writings and advocacy letters is available at – https://sandrp.wordpress.com/category/uttarakhand/.

However, it was the Supreme Court order of Aug 13, 2013 that clinched the matter, leading now to the constitution of a committee headed by Dr Ravi Chopra. It is hoped that since it is appointed following the orders of the Apex court, it will be able to perform its role independently, and get to the bottom of this issue.

We hope this short film will be useful to all concerned including the media, various arms of the governments in Himalayan region in India and neighbouring countries, academic institutions, judiciary, non government organisations and most importantly, the communities who have suffered in the disaster and who are struggling against the onslaught and impacts of massive hydropower projects being developed all across the Himalayan region. We hope the film helps contribute in our collective efforts so that when such event strikes again (climate scientists are telling us that more such disasters are likely all across the Himalayas with greater frequency and intensity in changing climate), their impacts are not compounded further by destructive hydropower projects.

DVD copies of the film are available from: Marthand Bindana marthand.bindana@gmail.com and SANDRP ht.sandrp@gmail.com.

The film is available at: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/uttarakhand-flood-ravage-and-the-dams-short-film-english/ (English) and https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/uttarakhand-flood-ravage-and-the-dams-short-film-hindi/ (Hindi).

Comments on the film and contributions towards costs of this film are welcome. Please also help us take the film to wider groups of concerned people.

SANDRP

PS: Also see: http://phoenixuttarakhand.blogspot.in/2013/12/short-film-on-uttarakhand-disaster.html

Dams, Rivers & People

Dams, Rivers & People – October-November, 2013 Vol 11, Issue 9-10

The October – November, 2013 edition of SANDRP’s magazine ‘Dams, River and People‘  is now available online. This is the 9-10th issue of magazine in its 11th volume. Like its previous issues, this issue too is packed with indepth analysis of matters concerning dams, river as well as larger environment. The contents magazine are mentioned in the list below. The  magazine in pdf format is available here — https://sandrp.in/DRP_Oct_Nov_2013.pdf.  Several of the articles are also available in SANDRP’s blog and they can be viewed just by clicking on the name in the list. Enjoy reading.

Contents Page No
Ten Times Bigger Mohanpura Dam in Madhya Pradesh 1
Bansujara Dam: Another Shoddy EIA by WAPCOS 5
Community Fish Sanctuaries protect the fish and their rivers 9
Mah ignores Riverine Fisheries 11
E-flows in India – groping in darkness 12
MEF Committee on UKD Hydro: Need full mandate 14
A different COP that actually addresses climate change 15
New Publication: Yamuna Manifesto 16
Kasturirangan Report – a blueprint for political polarization in Kerala? 17
Gujrat builds Garudeshwar weir, Statue of Unity Without Clearances 20
“Address Impacts of Small Hydel Projects” 21
Media Hype Vs Reality 23
Hydro power projects violating SC order in greenest state of India 25
North East India Update 29
New Flood Forecasting System from Bangladesh 31
SANDRP’s Short Film on “Flood Ravage and the Dams of Uttarakhand” 32