Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin (April-May 2015)


“Right now, hydel is almost stalled”: Piyush Goyal (18 May 2015)

Union Power Minister makes some candid comments on Hydro: “Right now, hydel is almost stalled. We have Teesta stuck for various reasons. Subansiri, Maheshwar, Lower Subansiri, all of them have different challenges. Small hydros are facing challenges of transmission, they are facing challenges of local area problems. So, by and by, the hydro sector will need a more holistic thinking. The courts have also taken up certain matters, particularly in Uttarakhand, post the tragedy (of floods in 2013). There is the mission of Ganga to ensure that there is a reasonable flow—Aviral Ganga, which we are committed to. We are working on all of these plans… For example, Subansiri had an issue where the local population had concerns. We immediately got an eight-member very, very high-level expert committee, including Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority, and experts from Assam. They are all working together to see the environmental impact, structural impact, riparian state impact and riverbed impact.



Power Minister says similar things in his interview with Business Standard, but this statement there seems a bit worrying: “Hydel has tremendous potential. It’s a sector we cannot ignore. It is clean energy and has fixed tariff for years. But we also want to make sure the ‘Aviral Ganga’ or the perennial flow of the Ganga and other rivers is not affected. We want to make sure the interests of the state are protected and there is no structural damage to the ecosystem. At no point should there be an indirect risk or threat.”

He said in case of Teesta (the interview does not mention which, one, but it seems he has 1200 MW Teesta III in mind) 95% work is done, some lose ends at state level are to be tied up and then the project would come on stream… that means the issues are yet to be settled. The situation is much farther from solution in case of Subansiri Lower, Maheshwar. He is still hopeful that the Lenders of 1750 MW Lower Demwe are likely to help kickstart the project.

Goyal of course agrees that the sector is plagued by difficulties and says “environment would be my next big concern area”. He would be better placed to focus on transmission, distribution, improving power uptake and pushing for rooftop solar. Full interview: http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/i-want-to-kill-10-birds-with-one-stone-piyush-goyal-115051800048_1.html

Killing a country’s ecology (29 April 2015)

A very timely and infomative article  From the report “The Environment Minister insists on clearing all hydro projects, even when the government itself earlier agreed that the Himalayas must be avoided for development work. Five of the six projects now being examined afresh are in the para-glacial zone, rendering them extremely hazardous. As the glaciers recede due to construction activity, the land exposed becomes unstable, and an unusual cloudburst could again result in tragedy. The adverse impact on rivers and water quality and on forests, biodiversity and wild life are set out in detail. The future of the Himalayas and its rivers are at stake. Indeed, the future of India is in the balance.”


Hydropower projects may spell doom in case of earthquake, say geologists (01 May 2015)

Geologists are warning that hydropower projects may compound the risks due to Earthquakes in the Himalayas:


गिर रहा है हाइड्रो पावर प्रोजेक् का उत्पादन, कैसे मिलेगी 24 घंटे बिजली (13April 2015)

This is based on SANDRP report and quotes SANDRP:


NORTH EAST: Environment Ministry denies green clearance to 6 hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh (19 May 2015)

From the report “A slew of hydro electric projects planned in Arunachal Pradesh have been denied forest clearance by the Environment ministry after a recent meeting. It is learnt that the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) denied the green nod to six hydro electric projects in the state at its meeting held on April 30 , 2015.”


Arunachal restarts five defunct hydro projects (14 May 2015)

Good to see Arunachal Pradesh focusing on mini hydro but sad to see they do not have staff to run projects:                                                                                                          http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/Arunachal-restarts-five-defunct-hydro-projects/articleshow/47281683.cms

HIMACHAL: Renukaji Dam project in deep freeze State govt sends 14 reminders to seek Rs 1,981.35 cr from Centre, but to no avail (21 May 2015)


Less snowfall in Sutlej basin sounds alarm (14 May 2015)

As per the report, hydro power projects, irrigation and drinking water schemes will be at receiving end of gradual decline in snowfall and snowcover. The impact on river eco-system will be worst and it will cause fall in agri production.


Villagers, power corp lock horns over work on access tunnel (18 May 2015)

Villagers fear that the additional tunnel will spell disaster for apple orchards and houses due to the impact of blasting as the proposed tunnel is located right underneath the village.


Himachal, Uttarakhand to iron out differences on Kishau Dam project (15 May 2015)


Uttarakhand, HP agree on equal profit-sharing(17 May 2015)


UATTRAKHAND:  बांधों से हो रहा है नुकसान? (01 April 2015)

NDTV India discussion on government flip flops on Uttarakhand Hydro projects on April 1, 2015, 8 pm, with report by NDTV reporter Hridayesh Joshi and panel includes BJP’s Naresh Taneja and Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP, anchored by Abhigyan Prakas



How many dams does India need? (22 May 2015)

The report quotes SANDRP figures


Kanhar: To be or not to be? (17 May 2015)

Kanhar dam analysis by advocate Roma:


Why villagers protesting against UP dam project are living in fear (16 May 2015)

Why does our Democracy provide absolutely the lowest performance when it comes to DAMS? :


Demonstration held against Kanhar Dam project disruption (19 April 2015)

The story presents only one side of the coin. In future, we may see outbreak of such protests where on one side will be, the rising glamorous seeking and highly ambitious growing urban, semi urban lot, illusioned by short-sighted development, mindlessly chasing and endlessly demanding exaggerated civic amenities at the same time being blindfold to the actual cost-bearers and affected. And on other side will be, thousands of least known and least acknowledged farmers,villagers,tribal people with self-sufficient and self-reliant lifestyle whose inherent culture, traditional livelihood means and thus entire existence will be on stake.


Kanhar Irrigation Project: Fact-finding team ‘forced’ to leave village, says ‘police sponsored mob’ (21 April 2015)

From the report “A nine-member fact-finding team from Delhi comprising women activists, which had gone to take stock of the situation at the site of Kanhar Irrigation Project in Sonbhadra district on Monday, was forced to leave following aggressive stance taken by those in support of the construction of the dam, work for which has resumed since Sunday.”


Make public records of Polavaram project: Central Information Commission (03May 2015)

Amazing that MoEF cannot trace records of massive projects like Polavaram… shows how poor is our environment governance


Bandh in Bengaluru Supporting New Dam Across Cauvery (18 April 2015)

Surprised to see that the both States are fighting selfishly for and against the successive impact and benefit of dam construction on their water share and rights showing no concerns to deteriorating Cauvery health and possible ill-effects of Mekedatu Dam project on the river famously known as Ganga of South


Soil Erosion Sinks Capacity of Hirakund Reservoir (Sun Times-13 April 2015)

Soil Erosion and safety issues plague Hirakud reservoir:


Flash flood carries away construction materials (16 May 2015)

DAM floods: Flood damages due to wrong operation of dams, this one from fraudulently called small hydro of Perla Shemburi:


MAHARASHTRA: ‘Treat natural resources as national assets’ (20 May 2015)

One more illegal dam by Maharashtra, in Western Ghats.


Minor Dam, Major Costs (01 May 2015)

From the report “The cost of building Turagondi project, a minor earthen dam, has gone up four times since it was conceived. Planned in 1996, completion is still a long way for this dam. It was planned with an original cost of Rs 4.72 crore. Delay led to the cost being revised to Rs 16.98 crore. Finally, Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) may end up spending Rs 33 crore on the dam, with no assurance about the time it will take to finally complete the job.”


Gosikhurd dam cost up 4,500% from 1st estimate (25 April 2015)

From the report “Gosikhurd was conceived in 1984 with an estimate of Rs 346 crore. By 1996 it touched Rs 2,000 crore. It is Rs 7,770 crore after taking into account the central assistance. Last year the estimate touched RS 14,000 crore as RS 300 crore were added to the previous cost.The dam pegged to irrigate 2.5 lakh hectares covers on 40,000 hectares now.”


NARMADA:  “Claims of Complete R&R of Sardar Sarovar Project Oustees are far from the Truth” : Central Fact Finding Committee (11 May 2015)

A central fact finding committee visited over 10 villages in the Narmada Valley which are affected by the Sardar Sarovar project, to find the current and actual ground situation of the project affected families, and extent of resettlement and rehabilitation.


Ousted for Narmada’s Omkareshwar Dam, Farmers on Jalsatyagraha in Madhya Pradesh (21 April 2015)

From the report “Over two dozen farmers here have been standing in waist-deep water since April 11. Ousted by the growing Omkareshwar dam on Narmada, these villagers in Madhya Pradesh are on an indefinite jalsatyagraha. Activists ask why the state government is not following the Supreme Court’s order to either compensate farmers with better land or pay them market price for plots of their choice.”


Statue of Unity, tourism project are bound to adversely impact livelihood and downstream river’s biodiversity (18 April 2015)

Statue of Unity, tourism project are bound to adversely impact livelihood and downstream river’s biodiversity


PIPE DREAM (20 April 2015)

Report about how the industrial pollution is turning the Narmada Canal into a nightmare:



Indian States reject massive river interlinking schemes (13 May 2015)

From the report: “While the legal situation remains complicated, the independence of a task force made up of officials and bureaucrats has been questioned, said Himanshu Thakkar of the NGO South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). “For a project of this scale, that will have huge environmental implications, they should have experts from across various disciplines like geologists, water experts, environmentalists, sociologists etc.” Manoj Misra from the NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan added, “All the members are pro- river inter-linking. It is an agenda-driven task force. What kind of fairness can you expect from them?””


Gujrat govt. hardens stand on water sharing with Maharashtra (13 April 2015)

Gujarat now threatens Maharashtra on Damanganga Pinjal link. Interlinking of Rivers is indeed interlinking of disputes and conflicts as we wrote earlier:



Why farmers continue to plant water-intensive sugarcane in drought-hit Marathwada (03 April 2015

“One of the basic aspects of sugarcane is its market linkages,” said Parineeta Dandekar of the South Asia Network for Dams, River and People, which has long campaigned against the cultivation of water-hungry sugarcane in Marathwada. “You grow it and your work is done. Compare this with other crops. You need to go as far as marketing cooperatives in cities, which are themselves dens of corruption. That is why farmers continue to grow sugarcane.”In places like Marathwada, she says, this is disastrous, as its plummeting groundwater tables show. While people do tout solutions such as converting to drip irrigation to reduce the amount of water the crop could use, this is again not enough to salvage the situation. “Even if you forget the inefficiency of flow irrigation, even if all sugarcane has drip irrigation, the bottom line is that we have too much sugarcane,” said Dandekar. “Drip and water conservation measures are not the solution because it then becomes a way of increasing the area of sugarcane.” What is needed, she said, is to independently evaluate the amount of water available in Marathwada and ensure that only a viable acreage of sugarcane is planted. http://scroll.in/article/717454/Why-farmers-continue-to-plant-water-intensive-sugarcane-in-drought-hit-Marathwada

Sharp Rise in Farmer Suicides: Is the Government Doing Enough? (13 April 2015)

Left Right and Centre with Nidhi Rajdhan on NDTV included Kumar Ketkar, Shaina NC, Sanjay Nirupam, Arvind Sawant and Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP. The current govt has no answer as to why it has backed on its election promise of assuring Fair Remunerative Price that is 50% above production cost. For both cotton and soyabean in Vidarbha and Marathwada, climate hit farmers are only making huge losses due to the unjustifiably low FRP. Both Cong NCP or Sena-BJP governments have been responsible for the dismal dam scene in VIdarbha and Marathwada and pointing fingers is only for a political gain, without thinking about the farmers and long term issues.


Why we need to bust the myths about agriculture in India (19 May 2015)

The insightful article highlights and shares least known and discussed things about condition of village, farmers and farming in India.



IRRIGATION: Check dam in a day using plastic sheets (April 2015)

Interesting story about sand and plastic check dams in Dakshin Kanara district, though it would be better if it could avoid plastic:


Achieve Irrigation Target, Naveen Tells Officials (21 April 2015)

From the report “The sources said work on 28 mega lift irrigation projects, which has already been started, will be completed by February, 2016. Besides, tender process has been started for 55 mega lift irrigation projects. The State Government plans to set up 1.25 lakh deep bore-wells, 5000 micro lift irrigation projects, 6000 community lift irrigation projects, 156 small irrigation projects, 175 medium irrigations projects and 14 mega irrigation projects to reach the target. However, the Government has already missed the target to provide irrigation potential to 35 per cent of land in every block of the State. A decision was taken in 2005-06 to draw master plan for each district to provide at least 35 per cent irrigation cover in all 314 blocks during the plan period from 2005-06 to 2009-10.”


URBAN WATER: Rainwater for drinking- Combating fluorosis (20 May 2015)

From Zen Rainman: While the government thinks up grandiose projects like diverting water from the West flowing rivers such as Yettinahole , it is most likely that local solutions such as rooftop rainwater harvesting and tank rehabilitation which will provide Fluoride free water. In Chikballapur District , Yellampalli Gram Panchayath there is Fluoride in groundwater which is in excess of permissible limits. A rooftop rainwater harvesting system set up by the BIRD-K an NGO provides Fluoride free drinking and cooking water. The household is happy and invites the guests to taste the rainwater.


Smaller toilet tanks could save 10% of water (07 April 2015)

From the report “India could save millions of litres of water simply by changing the size of the water cistern or tank attached to flush type toilets, according to a technical note submitted to the government by science policy advocacy group Delhi Science Forum (DSF). Most advanced countries have smaller cisterns while India continues with the water guzzling 10 litres cistern for full flush and 6 litres for low flush options. Reducing this to 6 litres for full flush and 3 litres for low flush would reduce water use in toilets by around 40% and total water use in cities by around 8-10%, the group says.”


Water: the weirdest liquid on the planet (11 May 2015)

From the report “Think of a liquid and it will most likely be water. Even if you think of blood, beer or apple juice, you’re thinking of water with a small amount of other things dissolved or suspended within it. Water is so common and so familiar that it is mundane: every day we drink it, touch it, wash with it, wet things, dry things, we boil it, freeze it and swim in it.”


India’s Bellandur Lake Is So Polluted It Caught Fire (19 May 2015)

What can be worse than this?


WATER CONSERVATION As Himalayan glaciers disappear, Ladakhi farmers search for the ideal artificial substitute (21 May 2015)


WATER GOVERNANCE: Water in coming decades; Policy & Governance in India: Book Review (19 April 2015)

From the report ” There is no political will to enforce even basic project assumptions like the cropping pattern and rotational irrigation. Canals designed for light irrigation of coarse grains end up with vast pockets under water-intensive paddy and sugarcane, creating second-generation problems of drainage, salinity, etc. The other contributing factor is the poor design and supervision skills of irrigation engineers. Ad-hoc recruitment and placement policies have resulted in senior positions in irrigation being held by engineers with roads or drinking water backgrounds. Raising irrigation outlays without addressing such structural issues may only drain public resources. Nor can multi-disciplinary basin authorities be set up and run on such a weak and mismatched HR base.”



Manipur’s Ngapang revealed to world as new catfish species (15 May 2015)

As per the report Northeast is so rich in aquatic biodiversity that out of 816 fish species found in India 361 are present in Northeast alone. Its alos highlights the importance of Brahmaputra and Chindwin rivers in protecting and perserving high diversity of aquatic fauna in Manipur.


They’re raising a stink: Polluted rivers in the country have doubled over past five years (18 April 2015)

From the report “The total polluted riverine length in the country is 12,363 km, of which 2,726 km falls in Priority Class I, 1,145 km in Priority Class II, 1,834 km in Priority Class III, 2,492 km in Priority Class IV and 4,166 km in Priority Class V, according to the CPCB. Yamuna in Delhi is among the most polluted. Maharashtra (49) leads with the most number of polluted stretches, followed by Assam (28), Madhya Pradesh (21), Gujarat (20), West Bengal (17), Karnataka (15), Kerala (13), Uttar Pradesh (13), Manipur (12), Odisha (12), Meghalaya (10) and Jammu and Kashmir (nine). The report said: “In view of population increase, demand of freshwater for all uses will be unmanageable.”


Development of Tizu River in the pipeline (04 April 2015)

Is this the way rivers will be “converted” into waterways?? By “clearing” the features like rapids that make river a river?  “The team assessing Tizu RIver in Nagaland for National waterways Project encountered about 70 rapids of various categories which need to be cleared for navigation purpose.”


Excavating Pampa’s historical course (04 April 2015)

It’s interesting!


The bend in the Chambal (Live Mint-10 April 2015)

Himanshu Thakkar of the SANDRP has this to say of the Madhya Pradesh govt’s plan: “At the outset, it seems like an idea devoid of ecological understanding. The ravines play a significant ecological and social function. Large parts of them have steep slopes and other parts are habitat to biodiversity. Any macro change in these ravines will have an impact on the land, river, biodiversity and environment. This needs to be assessed and any decision should only be made based on the participation of local communities. It is also an interstate issue involving three states and the interstate National Chambal Sanctuary. In fact, in the past, more than one effort has been made with huge expenses, with little success.”


Searching for Saraswati (17 April 2015)      

From the report “Why excavation is necessary for this purpose is not clear: perhaps, the wielding of spades is expected to lead to a natural spring. In case this does not happen, there is a Plan B. “Two or three tube wells” will be dug to create an official spring. Should this not be sufficient to form even a rivulet, let alone a majestic river, there is a convenient ‘drain’ nearby, which would be diverted into the artificial channel. The official mind has apparently overlooked the fact that the actual source of the holy river would then shift from the present site in Haryana to the source of the drain, which might well be situated in some nullah coming down from Himachal Pradesh and, by this unfortunate circumstance, shift the source of the river Saraswati to a place outside Haryana.”                                                    


‘Ekla Chalo Re’ With Parineeta Dandekar interviewed by Mahesh Mhatre  (13 April 2015)

SANDRP’s Parineeta Dandekar talks about Rivers, water and environment issues in a 45 min interview “Ekla Chalo Re” (in Marathi). Tonite, 11th April: 8 pm, Repeat: Tomorrow, 12th April: 12 noon and 5 pm on IBN Lokmat.


SAND MINING: Stop Sand Mining in Sardar Sarovar Areas: Jabalpur High Court to GoMP (06 May 2015)

In a significant order today, a Division Bench of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh (Jabalpur Bench) comprising Hon’ble Jst. Rajendra Menon and Jst. Moolchand Garg directed a complete stay on all sand mining operations in the Sardar Sarovar Project affected areas in the state and called upon the Govt. of M.P. to furnish complete details regarding the mining activities in the project areas.


Despite NGT orders, illegal mining rampant in Haridwar (19 April 2015)

How lax is our environmental regulation: MOEF says illegal mining is going on, NGT orders stoppage of such mining, Swamy Shivanand is on indefinite fast since March 31 (I have yet to see a report in National Media on it) and yet, as Kavita Upadhyay reports, illegal mining is going on:


Those who dare speak up against sand mafia are silenced (24 April 2015)

Kerala Sand Mining story:



Great to see this narration, though sorry to see how people have suffered and continue to suffer in the name of futile project called Farakka:


India’s misunderstood rivers (22 May 2015)

From the report: “There is no legal protection for rivers in India. This is the reason various legal and institutional measures such as the Water Pollution Act, CPCB, the state pollution control boards, Ganga Action Plan, Yamuna Action Plan and the National River Conservation Plan have yielded no results. More than two decades ago, the CPCB declared that there is not a single river in the plains of India that has bathing-quality water. “Today, one can imagine it has gone from bad to worse. Even in the mountain, rivers like Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab, Jhelum, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Gauri Ganga, Mandakini and Teesta are said to be disappearing at most of the locations as hydropower projects divert them into underground tunnels,” says Thakkar.”


ताकि ज़िंदा रहे नदी : ये सरकारी रिपोर्ट ना हो नज़रअंदाज़ (19 April 2015)

NDTV HINDI blog by Shri Sushil Bahuguna on the MoWR report on Environment flows in Ganga and other rivers:


Namami Gange: Old wine in a new bottle (20 May 2015)

Manoj Misra in The Hindustan Times on Namami Gange: “… the Centre has now developed a Rs 20,000-crore plan, which, unfortunately, is a copy of the much-maligned Ganga Action Plan (GAP). There is only one difference, it has a new name: Namami Gange. Like the GAP, the new plan focuses on pollution abatement infrastructure strategies. There is no mention on how to improve the ecological health of the river. There is not even a word on how to restore the river’s environmental flow, which is vital for the river’s rejuvenation.”


Rejuvenating the Ganga is much more than cleaning it (18 April 2015)

From the report: “The river will get destroyed if all the projects are added. The Ganga will be in a real bad shape, and what we will have on our hands is a greater disaster hazard,” explains Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People.


Rs. 3000 cr Gomati riverfront project launched (08 April 2015)

Hope it does not go the Sabarmati way


YAMUNA: Every Delhi household to pay environment compensation for a cleaner Yamuna: NGT (09 May 2015)

From the report “Every household in Delhi will have to pay a minimum environment compensation of Rs.100 for generating sewage that merges in the Yamuna, the National Green Tribunal ordered on Friday. In authorised colonies, this compensation would be directly proportional to the property tax or water bill, whichever is higher. For those residing in unauthorised colonies or not paying water bills, the amount would be Rs.100 to s.500.”                                                         


NGT for River Regulation Zone Policy Report by July (21 May 2015)

From the report “The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday directed the Union environment and forest ministry (MoEF) to present the expert committee report on the River Regulation Zone while hearing a plea against encroachments on the floodplains of the Yamuna and Hindon. The tribunal told the government it wants the report by July 22, when it will hear the plea again.”


CRPF accused of ‘brazenly’ mowing down forest land the size of TWELVE football fields on ‘ecologically sensitive’ floodplains in north east Delhi (16 May 2015)

YJA – Mail Today investigates the brazen clearing of GREENs in north east Delhi http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3084609/CRPF-accused-mowing-forest-land-size-TWELVE-football-fields-north-east-Delhi.html

Yamuna a dead river, says report, even as focus on clean Ganga (18 April 2015)

From the report ““There may not be even a single river in India which is clean throughout its length and the recent years have seen pollution increasing because municipal bodies do not have any plan to clean waste water flowing into the rivers,” a senior CPCB scientist said.India has less than 2% of the world’s freshwater sources, sustaining 5% of the world’s population. The rising pollution has reduced the capacity of rivers to provide water for drinking and irrigation.The CPCB report warns of far-reaching consequences if India fails to enhance its capacity to treat urban waste — which stands at 38,000 million tonnes a day.”



Will mega dams turn Bhutan’s happiness sour?(20 May 2015)


Status of hydropower dams in Bhutan (15 April 2015)

The Government of India has been supporting the Bhutanese government in a joint vision to generate 10,000 MW of hydropower by 2020. Lately, there has been a flip-flop on certain projects, and a reluctance to provide funds. International Rivers has put together an all-you-need-to-know resource page providing broad-spectrum information on large hydropower projects in Bhutan.


Quake-created lakes pose flood risk in Nepal (18 May 2015)

After the quake, its the lakes which spell danger


The timing of the landslide season in Nepal (20 May 2015)

David Petley gives interesting plot of fatal landslides time line in last 10 years in Nepal, warning of the situation in coming monsoon in the aftermath of recent earthquake:


Nepal’s devastating earthquake underlines the risks of China’s Tibet dam-building binge (14 May 2015)

From the report “Unfortunately, like much of the rest of the Himalayan valley, the bedrock around the Yarlung River is unusually tectonically active. Worse, the weight of dammed reservoirs has been linked to more than 100 earthquakes (paywall), most notoriously, the 2008 earthquake in nearby Sichuan, which killed around 80,000. Why take the risk? The Chinese government says the hydropower projects will solve Tibet’s electricity shortages. But it’s not clear Tibetans actually need it.”


Nepal Earthquake Damages At Least 14 Hydropower Dams (05 May 2015)

From the report “The powerful April 25 earthquake in Nepal damaged 14 existing hydropower dams, including the 45-megawatt Upper Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project, according to the Nepal Electric Authority. One of Nepal’s installations, the 10-megawatt Sunkoshi Hydropower Project, sustained serious damage. Nepal utility authorities also said that the 24-megawatt Upper Trishuli 3A project was hit by landslides. Cracks also opened in the dam of the Kulekhani Hydropower Project.”


Landslides in Nepal and the impact of the SW Monsoon (18 May 2015)

HUGE vulnerability of central Nepal districts to the landslide in coming (predicted to be weak, thus increasing the risk of hazards) monsoon is evident from this latest blog from David Petley:


भूंकप से खतरनाक हो सकती है हिमालयी झीलें (27 April 2015)

नेपाल में शक्तिशाली भूकंप हिमालय की झीलों के लिए खतरे की घंटी है। हिमालय में काफी ऊंचाई पर बनी ग्लेशियर झीलों को भूकंप विनाशकारी बना सकता है। भूकंप की मार से अगर प्राकृतिक झीलें फट जाती हैं तो इससे न सिर्फ केदारनाथ जैसी भीषण तबाही का खतरा पैदा हो जाएगा, बल्कि इससे स्वच्छ जल का संकट भी खड़ा हो सकता है।


China and India ‘water grab’ dams put ecology of Himalayas in danger (10 Aug. 2013)



Reports of a massive ice – rock avalanche in Akto County, Xinjiang, China?(17 May 2015)

The Chinese new agency Xinhua has some rather vague reports this morning of a massive “glacier collapse” in Akto County, Xinjiang, China. in the far northwest of China, near to the border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, (so it is very unlikely that this event is associated with the Nepal earthquake). David Petley says abot this: “But a catastrophic collapse that generated a slide 20 km long and one kilometre wide is likely to be an ice – rock avalanche, or perhaps a more conventional landslide. IFENG has a more detailed report in Chinese, suggesting that the volume of the collapse might be 500 million cubic metres, and that the deposit is 20 – 50 m think. If so this is a truly enormous event.”


New species of macaque in Tibet faces danger from dams? (23 April 2015)

A new species of macaque has been discovered in Tibet by Chinese wildlife experts, who warned that their habitats faced danger from hydro power projects in the Himalayan region. The new monkey species – found in southeast Tibet’s Modog County – has been named the white-cheeked macaque.


China Cracks Down on Water-Polluting Industries (17 April 2015)

From the report “The pollution is contributing to public-health problems. The government in 2013 acknowledged the existence of rural “cancer villages”—with high rates of cancer—that cluster along areas with wells contaminated by industry and agriculture. Pollution is also exacerbating chronic water shortages in the arid northern part of the country.”



Flood of new dam projects threatens world’s last wild rivers (16 May 2015)

“For years, there was a consensus that dam building was a flawed practice. Huge projects in the 1950s and 1960s were found by a World Bank report to have underproduced electricity and mainly benefited mining corporations. The effects were almost all bad: species extinction; angry, displaced people; and lost cultural heritage. But dam building is back in fashion.”


A Danger of Dams (19 May 2015)

“Such (mega engineering) water projects could only be managed by a power great enough to command the financial resources and the slave labor required to build such cities. To construct modern dams requires equally authoritative regimes, either by legislative decree or dictatorial fiat. The Aswan Dam in Egypt, the engineered river linkage projects in India, and the Three Gorges Dam and north/south canal water transport systems in China are all examples of a similar pattern: central government, unlimited finance, cheap labor, and no fear of opposition or consequence of the environmental damage, social dislocation, and cultural destruction that follows.”


Nicaragua Canal: A Giant Project; With Huge Environmental Costs (05 May 2015)

Report from Yale: Nicaragua Canal: A Giant Project; With Huge Environmental Costs http://e360.yale.edu/feature/nicaragua_canal_a_giant_project_with_huge_environmental_costs/2871/

How the World Bank Broke Its Promise To Protect The Poor (16 April 2015)      

The reality of the World Bank and displacement, an launching of a series of investigative Journalism stories from across the world:


As Cost Of Renewables Falls, Large-Scale Hydropower Seen As A Risky Bet (06 April 2015)

 “As investments in wind and solar power climb, backing major hydropower projects may be seen as a risky bet in a warming world, as studies show that reservoirs may be major sources of methane emissions and climate change itself could make rain and snowfall less certain in some regions.”


The Northern Territory’s peak environment organisation and a fisherman’s association say water licences have been over-allocated (21 May 2015)

Is this for real?! While we are discussing whether we should leave 15% or 10% of lowest flows of the river for itself as environmental flows, calling it fancy names like Aviral Dhara, here there is a debate of whether the river should have 70% or 80%! And that too in from dry Australia!


Study reveals how rivers regulate global carbon cycle (13 May 2015)

How Rivers regulate the carbon cycle!


America’s most endangered rivers of 2015 (07 April 2015)

Top Ten Endangered Rivers in USA. Even in the US, where the dam rush has subsided, four of the ten threatened rivers are endangered due to dams or increased water abstractions.Again this exercise of disseminating information about threatened rivers, the causes and the sectors at peril, is something we should have for Indian Rivers.


Amazonian tribes unite to demand Brazil stop hydroelectric dams (30 April 2015)

From the report “Four Amazonian tribes have joined forces to oppose the construction of hydroelectric dams in their territory as the Brazilian government ramps up efforts to exploit the power of rivers in the world’s biggest forest.The Munduruku, Apiaká, Kayabi and Rikbaktsa released a joint statement on Thursday demanding the halt of construction on a cascade of four dams on the Teles Pires – a tributary of the Tapajós. They say the work at the main area of concern – the São Manoel dam – threatens water quality and fish stocks.”


California tightening water-use rules for urinals, faucets amid drought (08 April 2015)

From the report “Worsening drought conditions and lagging conservation across the state prompted Brown to order Californians to cut urban water use by 25%. Brown also laid out several other initiatives designed to make homes more water-efficient. They include replacing 50 million acres of lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping, a rebate program that would encourage the replacement of old household appliances with more water-efficient ones and requiring new homes to use drip irrigation systems. The governor also wants the state to help find new cutting-edge technologies that can save water.”


California drought spurs protest over ‘unconscionable’ bottled water business (19 April 2015)

From the report “The US is now the world’s second-biggest consumer of bottled water, behind China. Nestlé and the other water giants, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have often cut deals with relatively isolated, impoverished rural communities whereby they take a percentage of the local water supply, paying enough to keep municipal rates low for local residents. Government oversight often falls between the cracks of state agencies, the US Forest Service and autonomous Indian tribes, giving the companies greater leeway. The Desert Sun investigation found that a Nestlé pumping operation at Strawberry Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, had been unlicensed since 1987. Another operation in the same National Forest, at Deer Canyon Springs, involves a deal between Nestlé and the local water district that has not been permitted since 1994.”


World Water Forum needs to be more than just a trade show for privatisation (17 April 2015)



Link between unseasonal rains, disasters & climate change: Is India playing the ostrich? (17 May 2015)

This is pretty shocking and short answer is yes, the government of India seems to be behaving like an ostrich as far as links between climate change and unusual weather behaviour is concerned. It is also amazing to see Union Earth Science secretary Shailesh Nayak going back on his earlier stand that Uttarakhand flood disaster is indeed a climate change induced disaster, this has also been corroborated by USGS:


Why climate change & pollution threats to Sundarbans cannot be taken lightly by governments (19 April 2015)



Delhi can learn from Germany’s solar experience to become power surplus (16 May 2015)

Indeed, solar power holds big promise in Delhi, but one can see no concrete steps yet in that direction: “Delhi has a potential to generate over 30,000MW of power annually — five times its present demand — if just one-third of its homes install some solar photo voltaic, an assessment by the ministry of new and renewable energy says.”


Study reveals how rivers regulate global carbon cycle (13 May 2015)

This is VERY interesting indeed: “…we don’t actually know how much carbon the world’s rivers routinely flush into the ocean – an important piece of the global carbon cycle. But in a study published May 14 in the journal Nature, scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) calculated the first direct estimate of how much and in what form organic carbon is exported to the ocean by rivers… They estimated that the world’s rivers annually transport 200 megatons (200 million tons) of carbon to the ocean… the scientists calculated the percentage that was derived from the terrestrial biosphere: about 80 percent… The new study gives scientists a firmer handle on measuring the important, and heretofore elusive, role of global rivers in the planetary carbon cycle and enhances their ability to predict how riverine carbon export may shift as Earth’s climate changes.”


‘NGT, SC are examples of informed judicial courage for the world’ (05 May 2015)

 “The NGT and the Supreme Court represent the iron will of one branch of government to address India’s environmental problems pursuant to the rule of law. They provide examples of informed judicial courage for the rest of the world.”


Appeal to State Governments not to support environmental “reforms” proposed by Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change based on the controversial TSR Subramanian Committee Report (03 April 2015)


Rift between environment and tribal ministry over dilution of tribal veto powers (16 April 2015)

The Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar publicly says the government is not discussing dilution of tribal rights – ‘its only being discussed in newspapers’. But Business Standard scooped out orders finalised by his ministry to stifle consent powers of tribal over their traditional forestlands. It also reviewed tribal affairs ministry’s assessment stating that the orders from Mr Javadekar’s ministry are illegal, overstepping on the powers of the legislature and the Parliament. The orders were prepared on the instructions of the PMO, the report says.


Climate change isn’t the only problem (15 April 2015)

International Rivers attended a workshop earlier this month to study, analyze and understand the cause and impacts of the September 2014 Kashmir floods in the Jhelum River Basin. Although undeniably the Valley received unparalleled September rains, the inconvenient fact remains that the disaster was notably exacerbated by human interventions in the river basin. Read IR blog to hear more about the workshop and see photos from the workshop and field visit.


The ‘Green Signals’ emanating from this government are disquieting (19 April 2015)

FROM the Review: “Ramesh rightly argues for a credible regulatory apparatus. But Modi’s ‘Make in India’ rush is imbued with an anti-environmentalism that may leave no forest standing.”


गरीबी बढ़ाने का बैंक (29 April 2015)

From the report “विश्व बैंक ने उत्तराखंड में विष्णुगाड-पीपलकोटी जलविद्युत परियोजना को लोन दिया है। अन्य स्थानीय लोगों के साथ मैंने बैंक के सामने शिकायत दर्ज की कि इस परियोजना के कारण गरीबी बढ़ेगी। परियोजना द्वारा टनल बनाने के लिए विस्फोटकों का भारी मात्र में उपयोग करने से गरीब लोगों के मकानों में दरारें पड़ गई हैं। भूस्खलन हो रहे हैं जिससे जान-माल की हानि हो रही है। डैम के बनने से मछलियां अपने प्रजनन क्षेत्र तक नहीं पहुंच पाएंगी और गरीब लोग मछली से होने वाली आय से वंचित हो जाएंगे। डैम बनने से बालू डैम के पीछे जमा हो जाएगी और स्थानीय लोगों को मकान बनाने के लिए मैदानी क्षेत्रों से महंगी बालू लानी होगी। बद्रीनाथ जाने वाले तीर्थ यात्री नदी के मुक्त बहाव से मिलने वाले सुख से वंचित हो जाएंगे। ये सभी दुष्प्रभाव गरीबों पर पड़ेंगे। लेकिन परियोजना द्वारा उत्पादित बिजली देहरादून तथा दिल्ली के अमीरों के विकास के लिए सप्लाई की जाएगी”


One thought on “Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin (April-May 2015)

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