Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin, June 29, 2015



Constructing new dams will hinder mission to clean Ganga, says Uma Bharti Flagging her concerns against the major culprit (hydro-power projects), the Union water resources minister Uma Bharti has asked different ministries including environment and power to take a cautious approach while allowing construction of any new dam on the river. Her ministry is particularly against the six contentious hydro power projects in Uttarakhand which, it thinks, would severely affect the e-flow of the Ganga. Environmentalists had already pitched for scrapping of such projects that they believe may lead to another June, 2013-like disaster in the region. (June 24, 2015: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/pollution/Constructing-new-dams-will-hinder-mission-to-clean-Ganga-says-Uma-Bharti/articleshow/47793769.cms)

How Global Warming played role in Uttarakhand’s Catastrophic Flood On what led to the flood disaster at Kedarnath: According to an in the May 2015 issue of the journal Landslides, the heavy rain and melting snow probably wouldn’t have breached the lake’s bank had the tongue of ice that lays alongside the moraine not receded in recent decades. Chorabari Glacier has been retreating rapidly for at least 50 years. It has lost 11 percent of its surface area, and its tongue has contracted by about one-quarter of a mile since 1962. Other nearby glaciers and many glaciers around the world are in even faster retreat. Indian glaciologists say without hesitation that global warming is responsible for Chorabari’s decline. Simon Allen, a researcher at Zurich University and lead author of the Landslides paper says if buttressed by the bigger, healthier tongue of prior decades, the moraine could have withstood more pressure, Chorabari Tal might have survived the storm, and Kedarnath might have suffered far less destruction. Chorabari Tal is only one of scores of lakes that may have been destabilized by receding glaciers in the Himalayas, he says. “We’re going to have more of these things.” (June 23, 2015: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/unnatural_disaster_how_global_warming_helped_cause_indias_catastrophic_flood/2888/)


Pattiseema project: A boon or bane? The proposed Pattiseema lift irrigation scheme may or may not solve the irrigation needs of farmers in the Krishna delta, but it is likely to throw up new environment and ecological issues affecting agricultural production in thousands of acres en route, damaging the delicate biodiversity and inducing climatological changes in the uplands of West Godavari and Krishna districts along the 174 km long canal. The Canal is to carry the Godavari water into the Krishna, upstream of the Prakasam barrage in Vijayawada. (June 23, 2015: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Pattiseema-project-A-boon-or-bane/articleshow/47778441.cms)


Fascinating story of how important are wells in Western Rajasthan THE FRESHWATER TRAIL: The Memory Of Wells: Traditional desert dwellers, semi-nomadic shepherds, call upon ancient wisdom to survive in the deep Thar desert of Rajasthan. This is a story about people who remember where the wells live. (June 26, 2015 http://peepli.org/stories/the-memory-of-wells/)


Smart Cities need Smart Governance more than heavy infrastructure: Today, the Prime Minister unveiled implementation guidelines for 3 of the Biggest and most audaciously ambitious schemes: The Smart Cities Mission, AMRUT and Housing for All. Only Smart Cities and Amrut entail investments over One Lakh Crore. Are these Smart Cities Water Smart too? Can huge infrastructure humongous investments ensure Water ‘Smartness’? (June 25, 2015: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/smart-cities-need-smart-governance-more-than-heavy-infrastructure/)


Maharashtra govt undertakes watershed development programme The state government is hoping the new initiative will help end farmers’ suicides in the state. “One must congratulate the government for involving people in the scheme. However, we have seen such watershed development schemes do not sustain over a long period of time unless one gives equal importance to water management also,” said Parinita Dandekar, associate coordinator for the South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People, a non-governmental organisation, “If one starts using newly created water storage for water guzzling crops like sugarcane, then a few years down the line, once again we will be staring at water scarcity.” (June 26, 2015: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/LIOSjawZsV320HKMe8HQQN/Maharashtra-govt-undertakes-watershed-development-programme.html)


Punjab harnessing solar power in fields, targets 1,000 MW in two years: Punjabis all set to tap solar power in the agricultural fields in a big way, aiming to generate 1,000 MW, up from the current 225 MW, by 2017. “Our aim is to tap 1,000 MW solar energy either from rooftop projects or from the fields by 2017,” Renewable Energy Minister Bikram Singh Majithia said. “We have just launched a scheme in which we are encouraging the farmers to set up solar power plants ranging from 1 MW to 2.5 MW in the fields to promote clean energy”. In less than two months since launching the “Land on Lease” scheme, more than 3,500 acres have been offered by farmers to investors for setting up the solar projects. (June 26, 2015: http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/punjab-harnessing-solar-power-in-fields-targets-1-000-mw-in-two-years-115062600453_1.html)


A POSITIVE news for rivers: 34 km of Tungabhadra river declared as Otter Conservation Reserve “The Department of Forest, Environment and Ecology, through a gazette notification recently, declared an area, 34 km in length, downstream of the Tungabhadra riverbed as ‘Otter Conservation Reserve’. The reserve stretches from Mudlapura village near the dam in Koppal taluk till the bridge over the river in Kampli of Hosapete taluk in Ballari district.” Question is, if the Conservation Reserve has water all round the year for the river to remain alive? (June 23, 2015: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/485185/a-safe-haven-otters-tb8200river.html)


80% of India’s surface water may be polluted: An alarming 80% of India’s surface water is polluted, a latest assessment by WaterAid, an international organization working for water sanitation and hygiene, shows. The report, based on latest data from the ministry of urban development (2013), census 2011 and Central Pollution Control Board, estimates that 75-80% of water pollution by volume is from domestic sewerage, while untreated sewerage flowing into water bodies including rivers have almost doubled in recent years. (June 28, 2015: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/environment/pollution/80-of-indias-surface-water-may-be-polluted-report-by-international-body-says/articleshow/47848532.cms)

Shows how the poorest are affected by water pollution, but there is no mechanism to either hold the guilty accountable or compensate the affected: बद्दी बरोटीवाला नालागढ़ औद्योघिक क्षेत्र में तीन दिन पहले सरसा नदी के प्रदूषित पानी पीने व रासायनिक पदार्थ खाने से चूंदड़ी गाँव में गुज्जर परिवार की 25 भैसे बीमार हो गयी. जिसमें 15 भैसे दूध देने वाली है. प्रदूषित पानी पीने व रासायनिक पदार्थ खाने से बीमार भैसो ने तीन दिन से ना कुछ खाया ना कुछ पीया और ना ही दूध दिया. कुछ भैंसों के थन सूख गए और कुछ के थन फूल गये. गुज्जर शामदीन (भैंस पालक ) ने बताया प्रति दिन कुल 150 लीटर दूध ये भैंसे देती हैं लेकिन तीन दिन से दूध न देने की वजह से लगभग 6750 रूपये प्रति दिन का घाटा हो रहा है. जब इन्होंने तीन दिन पहले स्थानीय सरकारी पशु चिकित्सालय में सम्पर्क करने की कोशिश की तो पाया अस्पताल बंद था. जब आज पशुपालन विभाग के उच्च अधिकारियों से शिकायत की गयी तो बद्दी पशु चिकित्सालय की डॉक्टर को भेजा गया. जिन्होंने भी यह स्वीकारा ये समस्या प्रदूषित पानी व औद्योघिक रसायनिक कचरे की वजह से हो रही है और यह समस्या बार बार हो रही है. सरसा के किनारे गुज्जर समुदाय के लिए प्रदूषित पानी व अवैध फैका हुआ औद्योघिक कचरा बीते सालों से बहुत बड़ी समस्या बनी है. गंदे पानी से पशुओं को चर्म संबंधी बीमारी व जानलेवा बीमारी का ख़तरा रहता है. आये दिन पशुओं की गंदे पानी पीने व औद्योघिक कचरे को खाने से मौत की खबरें रहती है. लेकिन प्रदूषण कंट्रोल बोर्ड व प्रशासन प्रदूषण को कम करने में नाकाम साबित हो रहा है. और इसकी कीमत स्थानीय जनता को चुकानी पड़ रही है. (From Sumit Mahar (Himachal Pradesh), June 25, 2015)


Ravindra Nath is saving Thousands of Lives with his unique Flood Management System in Northeast India:  Ravindranath is converting villages and communities in flood-ravaged regions into institutions prepared to predict, confront and cope with floods. Rural Volunteer Centre team of volunteers is not only trained to take prompt action in such cases but also is well versed in basic first aid and evacuation techniques. (June 23, 2015 http://www.thebetterindia.com/18984/man-got-the-local-community-together-to-fight-regular-floods-in-northeast-india/)

MAN-MADE DISASTER: Flood fury: why Uttarakhand, Assam, J&K & Mumbai will be hit again. And what can be done: Hard facts: Flood alerts have been issued, yet again, for Gujarat, J&K, Assam, Uttarakhand and Mumbai; The last four have seen repeated and devastating floods every year, causing deaths, loss of property; Flooding is natural. You can’t prevent floods. Point is, how do you stop them from turning into disasters; Three common reasons for flood disasters: increased frequency of extreme weather. Chronic misunderstanding of natural water systems. Irresponsible development. Tampering with facts: Every river has a natural water absorbing system around it: wetlands, flood plains, forests, mangroves, streams, ponds; These could be called Archimedes’ bathtubs. They look half-full but fill up and absorb excess rain; These natural drainage systems have been destroyed by development; We build embankments to contain floods. But embankments narrow down rivers, increase silting, make rivers rise; Unplanned hydropower projects and dams tamper the most with the course of a river; In a nutshell: we are putting impenetrable concrete obstacles in the way of the natural path of water. (June 29, 2015. http://www.catchnews.com/environment-news/flood-fury-why-uttarakhand-assam-j-k-mumbai-will-be-hit-again-and-what-can-be-done-1435546858.html)

Latest floods in Mumbai: “It’s clear that Mumbai faces growing threats from climate change and extreme weather events. Rather than blaming the unprecedented rainfall that is becoming a regular weather phenomenon, it’s time for the Mumbai’s bureaucrats and politicians to their act together and perform. The functioning of India’s financial capital is at stake.” (June 22, 2015: http://scroll.in/article/735707/mumbai-must-plan-to-cope-with-unprecedented-rain-%E2%80%92-climate-change-will-make-it-more-frequent)

CWC to start four new gauge station in up stream of Ukai dam in Tapi river: Central water resource commission (CWC) has started land survey in up stream of Ukai dam of Tapi river to set up four more gauge stations. It plans to complete this survey in coming three -four months. Gujarat state water resources department and CWC have started telemetry system to forecast the amount of water that could flow in the river and Ukai dam from last two years. At present 20 such stations are operative. However, number of areas in upstream of Ukai dam located in state of Maharashtra are yet to be covered and as a result forecast of amount of water likely to flow in the river is not accurate. (June 29, 2015: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/CWC-to-start-four-new-gauge-station-in-up-stream-of-Ukai-dam-in-Tapi-river/articleshow/47854477.cms)


Haryana government yet to release water in Yamuna: The Haryana government has not discharged the 10 cumecs at Hathnikund barrage it had been asked to release “immediately” a fortnight ago by the National Green Tribunal to ensure ecological flow in Yamuna. (June 29, 2015, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/developmental-issues/Haryana-government-yet-to-release-water-in-Yamuna/articleshow/47858231.cms)



International Rivers has set up Bhutan Rivers Watch page on their website. The three main pages on the website in this respect are: (1) Bhutan main page: http://www.internationalrivers.org/node/8375; (2) Bhutan Rivers Watch page: http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/9059; (3) Status of hydropower dams in Bhutan: http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/8703


HILSA EXPORT: Delhi urges Dhaka afresh for lifting ban India once again requested Bangladesh to lift the ban on Hilsha export, a measure Dhaka had taken in 2012 in the face of export surge of the delicious fish and its consequent price hike in the local markets. (June 24, 2015: http://newagebd.net/132371/hilsa-export-delhi-urges-dhaka-afresh-for-lifting-ban/#sthash.T1EUTktU.dpbs)


Neglected environment sector sees share slashed by 59%: This is for the budget for 2015-16 compared to the budget for the previous year. (June 15, 2015: http://tribune.com.pk/story/904143/on-the-backburner-neglected-environment-sector-sees-share-slashed-by-59/)


World’s biggest hydropower project may be causing giant landslides: A giant landslide near China’s Three Gorges Dam sent six meter waves crashing down on a fleet of fishing boats, leaving five people injured, and killing one. Dozens of residents near the Daning River, where the landslide took place, have been evacuated. The incident is only the latest natural disaster that critics believe the $59 billion mega-dam has caused, twelve years after it was built on the Yangtze River. (June 25, 2015: http://qz.com/436880/the-worlds-biggest-hydropower-project-may-be-causing-giant-landslides-in-china/)


5 World Heritage Sites in Peril: Now, the International Union for Conservation of Nature is highlighting two forces that are threatening upwards of one-fifth of the world’s 228 World Heritage sites: Climate change and dam building. “Dams are threatening 11 World Heritage sites. IUCN calls for more effective environmental impact assessment of such projects and improved transboundary cooperation from the earliest stages in order to avoid or minimize potential fallout. “Dams can have a huge impact on World Heritage sites, reducing precious natural wetland areas, changing river flows and impacting local communities,” Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, said. (June 25, 2015: http://www.cbsnews.com/media/world-heritage-sites-threatened-by-climate-change-dams/)

Tbilisi, Georgia:- a landslide dam-break flood killed 19 people It seems the famous Tbilisi flood in Georgia that killed 19 people and affected a Zoo on June 14 was due to collapse of a landslide dam on Vere River: (June 21, 2015: http://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2015/06/21/tbilisi-1/)

Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign writes to World Heritage Committee about risks due to ILISU and other dams: On the occasion of the thirty-ninth session of the World Heritage Committee, in the city of Bonn – Germany for the period from June 28 until July 7 of 2015, the committee has written to the Iraqi, Turkey Governments and UNESCO about the threats to the outstanding value of the cultural and natural sites of Mesopotamia, due to the great risks posed by the ongoing Ilisu Dam project, as well as other dams being constructed by the Turkish government on the Tigris River. (June 24, 2015: http://www.dogadernegi.org/userfiles/pagefiles/hasankeyf-raporlar/hskyfunescoing.pdf)


Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling: Dutch court orders state to reduce emissions by 25% within five years to protect its citizens from climate change in world’s first climate liability suit. To cheers and hoots from climate campaigners in court, three judges ruled that government plans to cut emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change. (June 24, 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/24/dutch-government-ordered-cut-carbon-emissions-landmark-ruling)


National Board of wildlife meets sans independent experts, clears 18 projects: None of the proposals brought before it at its 34th meeting on June 2, 2015, chaired by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, was rejected. Only four proposals were deferred; site visit was asked in one case; and one was referred back to the state wildlife board. (June 26, 2015: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/nbwl-prakash-javadekar-clear-projects-wildlife-tiger/1/447134.html)

Maharashtra State Wildlife board meets sans experts, clears 11 projects: Maharashtra State Wildlife Board too is missing most of its expert members. In the first meeting on last 15 months, it has cleared most projects considered, including Lower Dnyanganga Project in Buldana, which had already started construction in violation of Wildlife Project Act and Environment Protection Act. (June 23, 2015: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Wildlife-board-meets-sans-experts-clears-11-projects/articleshow/47776573.cms) Minutes or agenda notes not available in public domain, SANDRP has written to the government and the members, but we are yet to get the minutes or the agenda notes.

DELHI Draft disaster management plan: ‘Earthquake will wreak more havoc in city than N-bomb’ THIS IS OMINOUS: “Six minor earthquakes in 10 days sometimes is the precursor to a large one. The current local seismic behaviour is very similar to the one in Gujarat a few years back. The net effect can be more devastating than even a nuclear bomb in Delhi,” the draft, submitted to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) headed by Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung for approval, states.
…Satellite mappings are also pointing towards some unusual seismic activities in the Delhi area. The epicentres for the small earthquakes are clustered around a series of local faultlines in Delhi,” it states.

The draft plan states, “There is something called cycle of earthquakes. We looked into India’s major cycles. Delhi is due for a big one since 1999… It can come anytime during the next 70 years. If the small tremors subside and nothing happens for the next six months, probably nothing will happen for at least three years. However, when all evidences are put together, it does not look very good.”

(June 23, 2015: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/draft-disaster-management-plan-earthquake-will-wreak-more-havoc-in-city-than-n-bomb/)

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