Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin, August 17, 2015


UTTARAKHAND: National Institute of Disaster Management asks Govt. to make disaster study must for Uttarakhand hydel projects (17 Aug. 2015) This is good to see, it uses almost the exact language some of us having using since the disaster.

SIKKIM: Lanco in talks to sell Sikkim hydro power project (11 Aug. 2015) The Lanco group confirmed that it is in talks with strategic investors to sell its 500 megawatt (MW) hydro-electric power plant in Sikkim, as part of an effort to consolidate its businesses and reduce debt.

ARUNACHAL PRADESH: Neha Sinha (BNHS) in her article titled A bird, a dam and a belief explores the ethical and environmental aspects intertwined with construction of Nyamjang Chhu dam which will destroy the habitat of the Black-necked crane at Zemithang in Arunachal Pradesh. The Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), a group spear-headed by local Buddhist Lamas, has challenged the environmental clearance in the NGT. LIFE are the lawyers for petitioners. Sanjay Upadhyay and Raj Panjwani are lawyers for Bhilwara group.

MANIPUR:  Why Manipur is flooded (12 Aug. 2015) Interesting to see Down to Earth sees role of dams in Manipur floods: On the other hand continuing their agitation Mapithel dam affected downstream people hold protest meet (16 Aug. 2015) Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected People organized a protest meeting at Tumukhong Village, Imphal East District. The meeting demanded immediate rehabilitation and resettlement of Mapithel Dam affected people in the downstream areas. Also get to see a special news report on 26 years long protest of Chandog village against Mapithal Dam.

HIMACHAL PRADESH: Flooded Dharampur bus stand under lens (10 Aug. 2015) The State Govt. has asked a technical team, led by Managing Director of the Himacha Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), to submit a report on how the bus stand was allowed to come up on flood-prone forest land.

SOUTH: Greens to Foil Athirapilly Project Revival Bid (13 Aug. 2015) Indeed it was strange to see EAC on RVP not noting that the EC to Athirapally project has lapsed.


Push irrigation, not dams (14 Aug. 2015) Mihir Shah in his informative and thought provoking article on dams and interlinking of rivers.Some excerpts from the article “What is worse is that dams have not really achieved what they had promised. While the nation and its most deprived people have paid a huge price in terms of displacement and ecological costs, the farmers for whom the water was meant have not benefited as planned.

अपर वेदा बांध में आगे पानी भरने पर रोक न्यायलय में हुयी 5:45 पर हुयी विशेष सुनवाई (14 Aug. 2015) उच्च न्यायलय द्वारा नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन की प्रमुख कार्यकर्ता सुश्री चित्ररूपा पालित की जनहित याचिका पर सुनवाई करते हुए अपने एक महत्वपूर्ण आदेश में खरगोन जिले के अपर वेदा पर अगले आदेश तक पानी भरे जाने पर रोक लगा दी है।याचिकाकर्ता सुश्री चित्ररूपा पालित के द्वारा म. प्र. के मुख्य न्यायाधीश श्री खंवेलकर को सूचित किया गया की अपर वेदा बांध को गत 5 अगस्त से सरकार के द्वारा लगातार पानी भरा जा रहा है जिसके कारण सैकड़ों आदिवासियों के घर व खेत बिना पुनर्वास किये ही डुबाये जा रहे हैं सुश्री चित्ररूव पालित ने मुख्य न्यायाधीश महोदय को बताया कि यदि तत्काल पानी भरने पे रोक नहीं लगाईं गयी तो सैकड़ों आदिवासियों के घर एवं खेत डूब जाएंगे। मुख्या न्यायाधीश द्वारा इस प्रकरण को गंभीरता से लेते हुए न्यायाधीश श्री राजेंद्र मेनन के समक्ष त्वरित सुनवाई का आदेश किया।

Mumbai: BMC to carry out first-ever dam safety survey (11 Aug. 2015) In a very interesting development Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is making an emergency action plan – a plan to tackle issues such as overflowing dams, dam breaks and natural disasters such as earthquakes – for Modak Sagar, Tansa and Middle Vaitarna damsdams that supply drinking to Mumbai. Its long pending and much expected move from BMC. Hope other parts of Maharashatra and other States will follow the same. The only fear is that lest the exercise goes same way as irrigation scams in the State.

NGT ordered joint Inspection of Polavaram Dam Site (17 Aug. 2015) Following a complaint about the large-scale dumping of mud in the West Godavari district in view of the construction, the court has ordered a joint inspection of the Polavaram dam site by the Andhra Pradesh government, state pollution control board and the project authority.

Telangana: 34 years of protest Dam displaced vs the state (16 Aug. 2015) Story of 34 year old protest by Srisailam displaced: August 14 was the 151st day of agitation by those displaced by the Srisailam dam in Bekkem in Mahbubnagar district, Telangana. They have been protesting for more than 30 years on and off, but this was the longest without a break.When the dam came up between Mahbubnagar in Telangana region and Kurnool in Andhra region in 1981, more than a thousand families displaced on the Mahbubnagar side were promised government jobs, apart from compensation and housing. Now, they say, they will be happy with just jobs — one for each affected family. Two earlier government orders sanctioning jobs had fallen through.“My father thought I would get a government job. Instead I ended up selling chickens,” says Rajeshwar Reddy, who lives in Mahbubnagar. To remind the government of their demand, the displaced routinely send over job applications, including as recently as June.


In a major development Wildlife Board tells CM to denotify Panna tiger reserve if the Ken-Betwa link is so important (15 Aug. 2015) while early in this week environmental concerns force deferment of decision on Ken-Betwa river link project (11 Aug. 2015) This is great news, though only temporary relief. Thanks to the opposition by Chief Wildlife Warden, Belinda Wright, Ravi Singh, Abhilash Khandekar & MK Ranjitsinh: same day MP Govt. has sought clearance from wildlife board to de-notify prime tiger habitat (11 Aug. 2015) exposing the double stand of the state which on one hand is showcasing wildlife particularly tigers to boost tourism and on the other hand pushing Ken-Betwa interlinking projects which will destroy tigers habitat in Panna Tiger Reserve.

Explainer: What river linking actually means (16 Aug. 2015) A very detailed and educative report; Himanshu Thakker of the SADNDRP says that places many parts of Bihar were dry before the monsoon and that once it raised, they were flooded. In contrast, although Cherrapunje is the wettest place in the country, in April, the region actually faces water scarcity.


Water conflicts in store as states compete to roll out new projects (17 Aug. 2015) Central Water Commission has expressed fears that in absence of appraisals by the commission, inter-state water disputes could rise.

Andhra could go to NHRC over Krishna water diversion by Maharashtra Human Right activists to approach Nation Human Right Commission (11 Aug. 2015) This is indeed a fundamental human right issue. It is also in violation of the National Water Policy. Only lacuna in this the HINDU report is that even Maharashtra farmers are suffering, but strangely, Maharashtra government does not seem bothered of their own farmers.

You tube link to a discussion programme on National Waterways Bill, 2015 (11 Aug. 2015) The discussion includes quote from SANDRP coordinator.


Cumulative Rainfall Map upto 16 Aug. 2015 (IMD)
Cumulative Rainfall Map upto 16 Aug. 2015 (IMD)

Cumulative Rainfall Map upto 16 Aug. 2015

Drought : Monsoon Rainfall Deficit Widens to 10 Per cent: IMD (17 Aug. 2015) India’s monsoon rainfall deficit has widened to 10 per cent as a strengthening El Nino weather pattern trimmed rainfall, the weather department said, raising fears of drought.


Maharashtra to Levy ‘Drought Tax’ to Tackle Weak Monsoon Woes (12 Aug. 2015) According to the state government’s official data, the state had received 61 per cent of its average rainfall till July-end. The water storage in the state’s dams is only 44 per cent. The 229 talukas out of the 355 have received less than 75 per cent of the average rainfall. And the residents of 1,340 villages and 2,362 hamlets are being supplied drinkable water through tankers. The richest state in the country in terms of per capita income is reeling under debt of `3,75,000 crore. It spends 70 per cent of its income on the establishments and salaries of its employees.


On occasion of 15th Aug. 2015 PM changes the name of agriculture ministry to Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare

A new approach to rice cultivation (10 Aug. 2015) A small group of farmers in Kuruvai village, near Vadakkencherry, in Kerala’s Palakkad district has demonstrated that rice can be cultivated without chemical pesticides and see the yield and profit rise substantially.

U’khand village drives miners away to save fields (10 Aug. 2015) Story of Maletha villager’s fight against stone crusher.

रासायनिक उर्वरक की खेती बांट रही दो पीढ़ियों तक का कैंसर (11 Aug. 2015) जवाहर लाल नेहरू विश्वविद्यालय में हुए शोध से पता चला है कि कीटनाशक मनुष्य शरीर में कैंसर रोग को जन्म दे रहे हैं।


Govt to train junior IAS, IFS officers to prepare irrigation plans (12 Aug. 2015) Good to see that first steps are being taken for preparing district irrigation plans.

CAG detects major lacunae in minor irrigation work (13 Aug. 2015) Shocking report revealing how deep corruption and scams are rooted in irrigation projects major or minor in Maharashtra State. While irrigation projects increased irrigation potential only by 0.1% despite spending Rs70,000 crore in a decade. CAG report observes that minor irrigation projects in 9 Zila Parishads in Nashik and Thane were taken up in an ad-hoc manner without preparing any long-term district-wise master plans and without computing benefit cost ratio.

Punjab demanded Rs. 5000 crore from Centre for renovation of canal network (10 Aug. 2015) The story also highlights inefficiency of canal based irrigation system and deletion of ground water resources in the state.


North India running out of water, confirms NASA (16 Aug. 2015) Essentially reconfirms earlier fears: “If measures are not taken to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, the consequences for a large segment of population of the region may include a collapse of agriculture output and severe shortage of potable water”. Rohini Nilekani also highlights fast depletion of ground water in her informative article titled Invisible water, visible crisis stating that groundwater is fuelling much of India’s growth in rural and urban areas which has resulted in severe scarcity and quality issues, especially in these high growth areas”.

URBAN:  ‘Construction activity at Supreme Court is exploiting groundwater (12 Aug. 2015) In National capital, huge amounts of groundwater is used and drained for construction activity, including 50 borewells at just one under construction building for the Supreme Court, no treated sewage water is being used.


POLLUTION:  Concern over water quality in Valapattanam river (11 Aug. 2015) Pollution of rivers, though slowly but surly hit back and affect human health

Inventorization Sewage Treatment Plants (12 Aug. 2015) Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has carried out an inventorization exercise of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) for the country in the year 2014-15. According to their report published in March 2015, 522 STPs having a total capacity of 18883.20 mld (million litres per day) are operational, 79 STPs having a total capacity of 1237.16 mld are non-operational and 145 STPs having a total capacity of 2528.36 mld are under construction in 28 States and Union Territories (UTs) in the country. This information was given by Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, in Lok Sabha today.

FLOOD: National Disaster Management India  HAS NOT posted updates on flood after 02 Aug. 2015  

RIVER REVIVAL:  ‘Why is the Arkavathy drying? Report on ATREE study(16 Aug. 2015) The study team, led by Dr. Veena Srinivasan, investigated five possible reasons that could explain the decline, viz., changes in rainfall amount, seasonality and intensity, increases in temperature, groundwater extraction, increase in eucalyptus plantations, and blockages in the river channel.

NARMADA: NBA asks Modi to come clean on Sardar Sarovar dam issue (10 Aug. 2015) Oustees at the resettlement sites of Perkhad and Sharikpura complained of lack of water, electricity, water troughs, drainage, livelihood sources and grazing land and expressed desire to go back to original villages.Meanwhile on second of indefinite Satyagraha dam oustees revealed that Sardar Sarovar water to sink 245 villages: (14 Aug. 2015) The indefinite satyagraha of dam oustees protesting against the rise in height of Sardar Sarovar dam, entered the second day in Barwani on Thursday. Protestors alleged that around 245 villages of Madhya Pradesh will get submerged in dam backwaters spread up to 214 km and it will affect the life of scores of families. Also read in her latest interview Medha Patkar tells that ‘Nimar plateau sitting on a ticking hydro bomb’ (12 Aug. 2015)

GANGA: Water resources depleting in Ganga catchment area: Study (11 Aug. 2015) A very important news report. But it does not mention that change in farming practices (increase in paddy area in hills and sugarcane in tarai belt), sudden boom in drinking water and irrigation projects even in non-requried and water sufficient areas (with community owned and managed water supply and irrigation system) construction of hundreds of hydro power projects in unsustainable and unscientific manner etc. also have largly contributed in destruction of local hydrology eventually resulting in drying up of catchment area and natural streams. Hope study may be covering these issues in detail. On the other hand, in order to reign in increasing pollution and encroachment of Ganga, Govt. is planning to prepare Geospatial map of Ganga   under Namami Ganga programme. As per the initial reports, a Special Purpose Aircraft fitted with powerful cameras will fly over the Ganga to survey the river.  Getting in more foreign hands for the revival of Ganga, it’s now Isarel that come forward to help the cause. The nation will also help India get rid of water scarcities. The report reveals that experts from Israel have planned to visit to Indian states facing acute water problems like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. And the list is just getting longer, the latest being the South Australia after Germany and Isarel, which has offered to provide its expertise in water management sector by developing institutional framework and capacity building.

YAMUNA: Yamuna revitalisation: NGT imposes Rs 1L fine on Delhi govt (11 Aug. 2015) Most of the judgements delivered by Hon’ble court tend to fix the pollution problem and fewer on restoration of fresh water flow in the river. Though discharge downstream Hathini Kund Barrage has been increased to 352 cusec from 160 cusec, however Haryana expresses inability to do it during lean season. By the way 352 cusec too is going to make no difference in the state of Yamuna in Delhi. For any visible improvement, Yamuna needs a minimum release of 2000 cusec from Hathini Kund Barrage.  The National Green Tribunal has also sought a status report on automobile service stations that have been discharging grease and oil into the Yamuna.  A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd and Delhi Pollution Control Committee to inform whether these service stations have permission to deal with hazardous wastes. NGT also summoned 38 nurseries for disowning the notice served by it.  NGT further directed the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no unauthorised construction activities are permitted and no trees cut in the eco-sensitive zone near the Taj Mahal.

On the other hand BJP-AAP have come to gather to form a singular body known as Special Purpose Vehicle to deal with revival of Yamuna river. Both political parties believe that Special Purpose Vehicle to be single stop solution to all the problems Yamuna River is going through in NCT of Delhi. However criticising the move experts and environmentalist asked the govt. shed more light on SPV and warns it that there is no quick-fixes to Yamuna pollution. One more news report pin-point ‘a web of many plans’ as main culprit of Yamuna’s owes. It further concludes that tt is now or never for the Yamuna since too many court cases and projects in the last three decades have literally made a mess of all clean-up efforts.

WETLANDS: जोधपुर-हाईकोर्ट का आदेश मूर्ति विसर्जन झीलों में नहीं (11 Aug. 2015) राजस्थान हाईकोर्ट के न्यायाधीश गोविंद माथुर जयश्री ठाकुर की खंडपीठ ने सोमवार को स्वप्रेरित प्रसंज्ञान के तहत दायर जनहित याचिका पर सुनवाई के दौरान उदयपुर की झीलों में मूर्तियों के विसर्जन पर रोक के निर्देशों की पालना सुनिश्चित करते हुए इसके लिए नए विकल्प तलाशने के नगर निगम को आदेश दिए हैं। इस मामले में अगली सुनवाई 24 अगस्त को मुकर्रर की गई है। हाईकोर्ट ने स्वप्रेरणा से प्रसंज्ञान लेते हुए उदयपुर की झीलों के प्रदूषित होने के मामले में जनहित याचिका दायर की थी।


Dasu hydropower project: Work delayed as issues remain unresolved (15 Aug. 2015) The prime minister’s desire to inaugurate the first phase of 2,160-megawatt Dasu hydropower project before his constitutional term ends will remain unfulfilled as the project execution authorities have so far failed to resolve issues pertaining to the cost of land, security of the site and channelling of funds.

Time To Look At Teesta (13 Aug. 2015) A ploy underway to push Bangladesh to agree to Inter Linking of Rivers by showing the benefit of augmenting Teesta and Ganga water flow for Bangladesh?

6.2 magnitude Quake hits Afghanistan, tremors felt in north India, Pakistan (10 Aug. 2015) A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan on Monday and tremors were felt in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Rajasthan, as well as in many places in Pakistan, officials said.

Nepal earthquake may have ‘unzipped’ fault line, boosting risk of future quake (09 Aug. 2015) One more study predicting strong possiblity of stronger and more destructive earthquake in Himalaya terming the recent Nepal quake as partial rupture of a regional fault line in Main Himalayan Thrust.


Vietnam city developing green parks to hide Phu Loc black pollution (11 Aug. 2015) Another sad story on Vietnam rivers (Hydropower plants choke Vietnam rivers to death (http://english.vietnamnet.vn/…/hydropower-plants-choke-river) In a pollution cover up effort Da Nang city planning to build park (on concrete slabs) over Phu Loc river to hide its pollution. The river was flowing pristine 10 years back and now local residents are forced to sell their houses to avoid foul smell emnating from filty river. The culprits again as obvious are civic agencies Phu Loc Water Drainage Station of the Da Nang Water Drainage Company non-stop discharging subsubstandard waste water in the river. Positive side of the story is that local residents including experts are cricising and opposing the move.


When Dams Come Down, Salmon and Sand Can Prosper (10 Aug. 2015) Interesting story on how removal of Elwha river dam is immensely benefitting fish, rebuilding estuaries, reviving beaches as sediments flow is restored back towards river’s mouth.

Massive dam a ‘loaded gun’ for locals (11 Aug. 2015) Local people in South Island, Newzealand opposing construction of a dam in seismically active area. The report has a very catchy phrase used by locals against the dam construction “Their risk is that they don’t make money; our risk is that we lose our lives.”

Without Water, No Sustainable Development: World Economic Forum (12 Aug. 2015) Interesting excerpts from the report “The effects of climate change will manifest themselves through water, and indeed already are. Too much water in one place, too little in another. Water now when you don’t need it; none later when you do. The vast majority of human and economic losses from natural disasters are water related, and the impacts of climate change hit us first and foremost through the land and water system. The drought in California is but one example of the “new normal”. Water for Development calls for improved and more inclusive planning around water at all levels of society. Perhaps more importantly,we need to figure out how to discuss “pee and poo,” both from a resource perspective and a hygiene perspective.”

Poland heat wave cuts output at Energa’s hydro power plant (12 Aug. 2015) Water scarcity due to heat waves and lack of rain is hitting hard not only hydro but thermal power plants in Poland.

Repeated delays and cost overrun forces Guyana to abandon plans to build $2.6B hydropower plant (12 Aug. 2015) Guyana is scrapping plans to build a $2.6 billion hydropower plant following concerns about the cost of a project that has been repeatedly delayed. Finance Minister Winston Jordan said Wednesday that the cost would be more than double the country’s external debt.

Water Rationing In Puerto Rico Hits The Poor, Leaves Resorts Untouched (10 Aug. 2015) In July, usually one of the wettest months, Puerto Rico got just 4 centimeters of rain. Now, 2.8 million residents live in a part of the country suffering either an “extreme” or “severe” drought. The government has declared a state of emergency and implemented strict rationing. Thousands of Puerto Ricans now have had tap water only two days a week. Scientists have noted that El Niño is fueling Puerto Rico’s drought. They warn that Puerto Rico and its Caribbean neighbors are in one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change threats in the world.

Very few drops to drink: Water pollution is a bigger environmental threat than climate change (07 March 2015) Poor water management over decades has created numerous structural problems. The Aral Sea has been reduced to only a small shadow of what it used to be. Largest water body of Africa Lake Chad size have shrunk by an incredible 90%. By 2013, 27,000 rivers disappeared in China. Anecdotal evidence indicates that Indian water bodies are facing a similar fate. The World Commission on Water has noted that more than half of the world’s rivers are seriously depleted. Many of the mighty rivers have now become a trickle by the time they reach the sea. Millions of people are dying each year due to water-related diseases. The United Nations has estimated that droughts are the world’s costliest natural disasters. Every year floods contribute to major damages, including loss of lives.

Why Did L.A. Drop 96 Million ‘Shade Balls’ Into Its Water? (12 Aug. 2015) Bizarre idea… The repot says that Los Angeles has turned its main reservoir into a giant ball pit to reduce evaporation losses and check algae and bactirial growth. The utility has been testing the concept since 2008, reporting that shade balls reduce evaporation by 85 to 90 percent. That should equate to saving nearly 300 million gallons a year, enough to provide drinking water for 8,100 people. The balls also inhibit microorganism growth, reducing the treatment the water must undergo through other means. That could save the city $250 million over time.

Coca-Cola funds scientists to deflect obesity debate (11 Aug. 2015)  Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories. The beverage giant has teamed up with scientists who are advancing this message in medical journals, at conferences and through social media. To help the scientists get the word out, Coke has provided financial and logistical support to a new non-profit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network.


Drop demand for finance from rich countries: Arvind Subramanian (12 Aug. 2015) This is pretty shocking, bordering on scandalous. The most shocking advice to me is to say that the millions of vulnerable people or their adaptation is not important, only mitigation is and that common but differentiated responsibility is no longer useful to push or that UNFCCC is not worth continuing with. Let us see how the political parties react to it, my guess is they will just keep quite.

India to monitor all large Himalayan glaciers (11 Aug. 2015) India this year has launched an ambitious project to monitor all Himalayan glaciers above 10 sq km to calculate future water availability and plan for the safety of people living downstream.

Climate Change: Crisis here and now (14 Aug. 2015) India’s approach to dealing with climate change has been high on rhetoric and less on policy planning and implementation. Even though Indian negotiators had been actively participating in the international climate change negotiations since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the national action plan on climate change was released only in June 2008. The state governments are developing their action plans seven years after that and 23 years after the international community decided to deal with climate change.


India after 68 years of Independence : a programme on NDTV (14 Aug. 2015) NDTV India’s special discussion on the eve of Independence day anchored by Nidhi Kulpati includes discussion on state of India’s women (Kamla Bhasin) and Environment (Himanshu Thakkar) and also has poet Ashok Chakradhar on the panel.

Why proposed Shivaji and Patel statues must have public hearings before getting green clearances (16 Aug. 2015) Indeed these statues will have huge impacts and it is necessary to take and informed, participatory decision by having impact assessment and public consultations. An NGT case is pending, let us hope they will decide expeditiously:

New pollution-monitoring norms to be finalized in 2-3 months (10 Aug. 2015) The Union environment ministry has proposed new pollution monitoring standards for industries in at least 22 sectors over the past few months in an attempt to regulate these sectors better. Some of these standards have been put online for suggestions and comments from various stakeholders.

NGT criticises incomplete pollution control boards’ inspection reports, warn heavy fines (13 Aug. 2015) Interesting to see that NGT has AGAIN warned PCBs for filing vague, incomplete and unclear inspection report, both by CPCB and SPCBs. Exposes their shoddy work.

The board have mercy: how the govt is riding over wildlife protection (11 Aug. 2015) How the government is bypassing the NBWL and SC orders in wildlife issues.

We are nowhere near the sanitation target (14 Aug. 2015) The report says Modi’s claim of achieving targets for Swatch Bharat Abhiyan and toilets in schools is essentially numbers game that has little to do with actual quality of toilets or their use, the numbers themselves are doubtful considering the skyrocketing claims for the achievement in last 15 days.

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