In absence of clear and strict laws to define the rivers zone and demarcate flood plains, our rivers are increasingly becoming subject to exploitation. When the river spaces of our National River Ganga & Yamuna River which flow through National Capital are not well protected, then the plight of other rivers across country can be understood.
This week, there are two news reports which again are highlighting this cause. Interestingly in both cases, legal fight is going on in green tribunal which indirectly deals with the issue though with no success so far. In fist case, NGT has directed Govt. of Uttarakhand todemarcate floodplainsof Ganga river from its origin in Gomukh till Roorkee, a 65-km long stretch in the state. The tribunal has posted the matter for the next hearing on Oct 20 and asked the state government to submit its compliance report by then. The bench also sought a report on the total number of hotels on the 65-km stretch from the govt. The green panel allowed the state govt to take the help of Roorkee-based National Institute of Hydrology for identification of flood plains. Construction on flood plains and inside river zones is a sure invitation to disaster such as Kedar Nath Floods in 2013 when human made infrastructures erected very much inside river zones were raised down like sand dunes by enraged rivers. It is sad and even more worrisome that we have learnt nothing from such events.
In second incident Govt. of Uttar Pradesh has drawn green tribunal’s ire over constructions in floodplains. The apex court for environmental issues, expressed its dissatisfaction over the manner in which State Govt filed its report on the distance of various real estate projects from the Yamuna flood plain zone in the city. Coming down heavily in the state govt and various Agra authorities, Agra Development Authority (ADA) & irrigation department, it stated that “authorities were expected to act fairly and judicially while complying with its directions.” The tribunal appointed registrar general Mukesh Kumar Gupta as local commissioner and asked him to file a correct position of flood plains and the distances of the various projects. Meanwhile, ADA has been asked to produce the original records before the tribunal on the next date of hearing, Aug19.
Floods & floodplains are integral part of a river eco-system. Both has essential roleto play in smooth functioning of multiple ecological processes that takes place throughout the journey of a river. It is abused of floodplains that our cities are facing flood threats. It is surprising to see how govts have so far failed in protection of flood plain.
With incidents of excess rainfall, cloud burst & land slides happening at increased frequency, it is time to define our river zone and flood plain clearly in the own interest of human being.
(Above: Lower part of the Dzongu Landslide, Photo from Save the Hills)
According to a number of reports[i], at around 1230 hours on Aug 13, 2016, a massive landslide completely blocked the flow of Kanaka (Rongyoung) River near Mentam village in Dzongu region in North Sikkim. A hillock called “So Bhir” came crashing down, it is reported. The Landslide dam is about 50 m high, about 45 m wide, the landslide top point is about 900 m above the river. Darjeeling Chronicle reports, the river downstream is totally dry as the water has started collecting behind the landslide dam (that situation seems to have changed on 14th Aug morning around 830 am). Continue reading “LANDSLIDE DAM BLOCKS TEESTA TRIBUTARY IN NORTH SIKKIM: MAJOR RISK TO TEESTA RIVER BANK COMMUNITIES”→
On the 3rd of August 2016, Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti ji made some interesting remarks in her answer to a question about impact of Ganga Waterways Project on Biodiversity (Please see SANDRP’s detailed report on the same issue here). Her brief speech can be seen here: https://youtu.be/ohEOMfay71I
It has been two years since the Union Minister for Shipping and Transport, Mr. Nitin Gadkari, announced the Government’s ambitious plan to revive the National Waterways-1 (Ganga Waterway) between Haldia and Allahabad, justifying it on the grounds that India’s waterway potential remains highly underutilized, although six times cheaper than road transport. In a letter dated 18th June, 2014 forwarded by Mr. Gadkari to the Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, a proposal for financial assistance to four navigational barrages was also made.
SANDRP BLOG Aug 06, ILR meeting is no dialogueWhile dialogue is necessary and welcome in any democracy, the meeting that was organized on Aug 06 at Constitutional Club is certainly not the right step in almost every sense. We hope MoWR and those who gather at the constitution club today will deliberate on these issues and resolve to correct them before a dialogue can really begin on the issue of ILR, and in fact Rivers. SANDRP coordinator was invited at this meeting on ILR being held at Constitution Club at 4 pm today as a speaker, but have decided to decline the invite, as elaborated in the note here. Please help us spread the word. Feedback is welcome.As was expected, Minister Uma Bharti reiterated that the Ken Betwa Link project will be implemented, even though the project has none of the clearances as yet! The reporter should have mentioned that.
Indeed, Rivers, including the Inter Linking of Rivers (ILR) needs democracy, in which dialogue is the starting point. The government, with all its powers, mandate and resources, needs to initiate this. Particularly when the government has taken such an ideological, fundamentalist position on ILR. So much so that the Union Minister says that anyone opposing the project is committing a national crime. And even goes to the extent of threatening even statutory regulators if the controversial Ken Betwa River Link proposal is not cleared in next meeting! That very minister is scheduled to conclude the “dialogue” of Aug 6, 2016 (to be held during 4-7 pm at Constitutional Club Rafi Marg, Delhi), is ironical to say the least. [As I was writing this, I got a call from Ms Uma Bharti ji’s home saying that she won’t be able to come for the meeting today as she is down with high fever. I hope she recovers soon and fully.] Continue reading “Rivers and ILR need democracy: There is none today; BUT THIS AUG 6 MEETING IS NO DIALOGUE”→
Karnataka is still reeling from the protests, rasta roko, bandhs, burning effigies, etc., resulting from the anger over the Interim Verdict of Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal[i] (MWDT) of the 27.07.16 which did not allow Karnataka’s Appeal to temporarily lift 7 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) water from Mahadayi Basin into Malaprabha Basin (a sub basin of Krishna basin). Twin cities of Hubali and Dharwad, likely beneficiaries from the diversion, are centers of agitation. Schools and colleges were closed, government offices and buses were burnt, major roads were blocked by protesters. Pro-Karnataka Organizations and even Film stars have joined this protest. Karnataka Home Minister has called on the Prime Minister to look into the decision. Goa, on the other hand, is quietly celebrating this one positive step[ii]. I was reminded of Rajendra Singh’s uncritical support to the project and also what Dr. T V Ramchandra from IISC, Bangalore said about this, “Do the film stars know the details of the issue or even where their water comes from? The day we push Pudharis away, solutions to our water woes will be easy and closer to home.”
CenterMeeting held to sort out Mahanadi issueUnion Water Ministry on July 31 called a Meeting of representatives of Odisha & Chattisgarh Govts to consider the various water resources issues/projects in Mahanadi Basin. It was decided that the Central Water Commission would invariably ensure that the DPRs for the projects in Mahanadi basin which are appraised by it, are duly shared with the other riparian State and that the riparian State is given a period of 45 days to convey their views/comments on the project. It was also decided that the DPRs would be delivered to the Resident Commissioners of respective States and thereafter the representatives of the State would be invited to share their observations. The meeting was called in pursuance of the assurance given by Water Minister Uma Bharti in Parliament on July 26. Earlier, fearing that dams on river Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh would have adverse impact on Odisha, former union minister Jairam Ramesh has asked CM Naveen Patnaik to take up all party team to Delhi to raise the matter with the PM. He also said that Congress will send a delegation to Chhattisgarh in a week to study the sites where dam and barrages are proposed to be constructed. On the other hand, former CM Ajit Jogi having broken away from the Congress on July 25 attacked Congress over its opposition to Chhattisgarh’s plan to construct dams & barrages on Mahanadi river.