Above: Just a few hundred meters upstream the proposed Jhari Dam, a tribal woman struggles to find water in the dry Par river bed Photo: Parineeta Dandekar
Village of Jhari at the northern most corner of Western Ghats has some of the loveliest houses I have seen. Appreciation for the evolved vernacular architecture goes beyond the obvious urban romanticisng of anything tribal. Homes in this region of tribes like Kokani, Warli, Thakurs, etc, are unique in their architecture, building materials, craftsmanship and the seamless mix of beauty and functionality. The tiled roof of our host Haribhau had intricate wooden trimmings, the mudfloor was cool and the door frame was carved in exquisite motifs. Vines arched and spread in disarray over courtyards. We were assembled under a passion fruit or ‘Rasna’ vine, bursting with white flowers. Inside, cane baskets creaked under the weight of Ragi, Udid and Rice filled to the brim: This year’s harvest has been good, though that’s not always the case. The hosts, both men and women, were busy with lunch preparations. Continue reading “Par-Tapi-Narmada Link: Divided States, United Tribals”→
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been saying to Nepal and others that Bhutan is a good example to show how a country can prosper from hydropower generation and export. During his trip to Bhutan in June 2014, soon after taking over as Prime Minister of India, he said, “Our Hydropower cooperation with Bhutan is a classic example of win-win cooperation and a model for the entire region.”
A 75 feet wide breach on right bank of Yamuna Augmentation Canal (AC) has drowned vast agricultural land area belonging to three villages of Alahar, Palewala and Nachron falling under Radaur block of Yamuna Nagar district, Haryana.
The breach reportedly occurred about 14 km downstream Hamida Head on Western Jamuna Canal (WJC) in Yamuna Nagar district around 03:00 am on 12th of April 2015. From all accounts, it seems like an avoidable manmade disaster about which credible independet inquiry alone can help arrive at truth. Continue reading “Yamuna Augmentation Canal Breach – Man-made Disaster?”→
A three member committee set up by the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR for short) has submitted a report in March 2015, which makes welcome recommendation on “Assessment of Environment Flows”. These recommendations on Environmental Flows (E-Flows) need to be implemented immediately for better health of our rivers. The committee members include Dr Vinod Tare of Indian Institute of Technology Consortium (IITC), senior officials of Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF for short, it was represented by Dr Shashi Shekhar, Special Secretary in MoEF) and MoWR (represented by Dr Amarjeet Singh, Additional Secretary, MoWR). Sushri Uma Bharti, Union Water Resources Minister and even the recent meeting of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGBRA) on March 26, 2015, headed by the Prime Minister referred to this committee. Continue reading “MoWR report on “Assessment of E-Flows” is welcome, needs urgent implementation”→
Yamuna River from Hathini Kund Barrage to Delhi (All maps from Google Earth, created by author)
A field trip along the Yamuna River this April 2015 showed how the river is killed blow by blow, by the pollution and diversion. The visit was planned with an objective to study and observe actual status of industrial and domestic pollution reaching River Yamuna via various Escapes and Drains in Haryana, upstream Delhi. A team of two members Sri Manoj Misra, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan and Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP spent three days (03-05 April 2015) closely travelling along the river through four districts of Haryana (Sonipat, Panipat, Karnal and Yamuna Nagar) and tracking various drains, escapes (from origin) which pour massive amount of effluents in River Yamuna . Continue reading “Blow by Blow, how pollution kills the Yamuna river: A Field Trip Report”→
“We want sacred rivers of Tawang to flow freely, not inside Tunnels!” What makes the assertion on this banner more remarkable is the fact that the people holding it up are not fiery activists, but peace-loving Buddhist monks of the Monpa community, from the farthest corner of Arunachal Pradesh: Tawang (photo by Urmi Bhattacharjee). About 13 hydropower projects are slated to come up on main river stem and tributaries of Tawang Chhu (River) in Tawang in a distance of just 160 kms.
Tawang is a tiny district of Arunachal Pradesh nestled between Tibet and Bhutan. The region has had a troubled past and is home to Monpa Buddhists who practice an ancient form of Buddhism. Monpa culture itself is unique and fragile, with less than 50,000 Monpas in Tawang and less than one lakh globally. The region is famed for Tawang Monastery, Galden Namgey Lhatse (which literally means Celestial Paradise on a Clear Night), which is the 2nd largest monastery in the world. Continue reading “Cumulative Impact Assessment of Tawang Basin: Highlights from the NEHU Study”→
Above: Graph showing how the power generation per MW installed Hydro Capacity has been doing down over the last two decades
As per the latest power generation figures just released by the Central Electricity Authority the hydropower generation during the just concluded Financial Year 2014-15 was 4.25% lower than the previous year’s generation even though the installed capacity has gone up. Average generation per MW of hydro capacity in India in 2014-15 was over 20% less power than what our average generation was in 1993-94. More worryingly, the hydropower generated per MW installed capacity continues its downward slide, the downward slide has been going on for now over two decades. Continue reading “Diminishing Returns from Large Hydropower projects in India”→
Above: A farmer family crosses the Pranahita river close to the Pranahita-Chevella project barrage site. Photo: Harpal Singh, The Hindu
Shivni is a small village of about 700-800 population in Gondpimpri Tehsil of Chandrapur District situated right at the confluence of Wardha and Weinganga rivers. These two rivers meet at juncture of three districts of two states (viz. Gadchiroli & Chandrapur of Maharashtra and Adilabad of Telangana) to form River Pranahita which is one of the biggest tributaries of Godavari. Pranahita travels a length of 113 km and meets Godavari at Sironcha tehsil of Gadachiroli Dist. Continue reading “Pranahita Chevella Project: What it means for the affected people in Maharashtra”→
I was recently trying to look into the flood history of Bihar’s post-independence period and came across this interesting article by Hari Nath Mishra written in 1950 but published on September 3, 1967 in The Searchlight – Patna. Hari Nath Mishra later became the Speaker of the Bihar Legislative Assembly, Health Minister in Bihar and also was the Central Deputy Minister of Irrigation and Power later when Dr. K.L. Rao was the Irrigation Minister at the Centre. I was lucky to have met him in 1986 when he talked about the problems ailing the Kosi Project and that the ambitions of the people were not met as the embankments constructed along the river did not serve the purpose that they were expected to. Irrigation from the project was far below the targets fixed by the Project Engineers, power production was abysmally poor and the rehabilitation of the embankment victims was in deplorable state. I quote the article verbatim here and try to give some more to it during subsequent period. Continue reading “Reflections on the Origin of the Kosi Project”→
Above: A board at the dam site proclaims: “Beware, dam work ahead”. The warning pretty much sums up the situation of Krishna Marathwada Project Photo: Parineeta Dandekar
It was a blazing hot afternoon, made hotter by the subconscious association of Marathwada with all things dry, parched and drought-stricken. I was standing on the half completed dam wall of the Khuntephal Storage Tank in Beed, along with Macchindra Thorave and his colleagues. I’ve seen many dams and many dam walls, but it was impossible to believe this was a dam wall, supposed to impound 5.68 TMC of water (TMC=Thousand Million Cubic Feet. 1 TMC=28.317 billion liters). Primarily because there was no water in sight on either sides of the dam! There was no river in sight either! It actually looked like an under-construction road connecting two hills.
But as I realized later, being a part of the Krishna Marathwada Lift Irrigation Scheme and Krishna Bhima Stabilisation Project, issues like water were inconsequential. This was Dam for Dam’s sake.