Centre Getting forest clearance is not a problem now: NHPC Chairman In an interview, taking a dig at its private peers, NHPC chairman KM Singh said that NHPC is the only company in the county that has the capability to execute hydro projects. He also said that in the NDA regime green clearances come easy, while local agitation by NGOs is the biggest threat. He further stated that there has been no negative impact of building a dam, not just in India, but anywhere in the world.
(Above: illegal muck dumping by Parbati HEP along the Sainj River in Himachal Pradesh)
The people of Sainj-Parbati valley in Beas basin in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu disrict’s Banjar Tehsil are living in constant fear of a disaster. Since six days now, the power tunnel of the NHPC’s under construction 800 MW Parbati II hydropower project is heavily leaking, but NHPC refused to stop water release into the tunnel till the leakage led to landslides and displacement of people. Ultimately on the night of April 17, 2017, huge cracks spread over 200 m appeared in the hills, leading to landslide & fall of soil and rocks, immediately threatening eight families of Rahan (Reina) village, though over 400 families of some 12 villages of Rella Panchayat (including Rella, Sharan, Jiva, Sulga, Khadoa, Rahan, Shalah, Bhebal, Bahara, Bagidhar, Khaul, etc) are facing the prospects of disaster as cracks in the hill have appeared just above the villages. People here are spending sleepless nights since several days now. They are afraid that if the leakage continues, these villages will have to be evacuated any moment, else a major catastrophe may result.[i] Continue reading “NHPC negligence leads to man-made disaster in Parbati Valley in Himachal Pradesh”
As the President of India is in Patna today (April 17, 2017) to remember the centenary of Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha, we need to remember that the Central message of Gandhi’s Satyagraha was to fight injustice, atrocities and abuse, irrespective of the source of the atrocities.
During the international workshop on INCESSANT GANGA in Patna on Feb 25-26, 2017, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar mentioned that this is the centenary year of Gandhiji’s famous Champaran Satyagraha in Bihar. He also mentioned how Bihar has suffered the increasing intensity, duration and destructive floods due to Farakka Dam.
Above: Wainganga River, downstream of Gosikhurd reservoir (Photo by AJT Johnsingh on 09/03/17)
The valley of Wainganga River has served as a backdrop for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle book. East Vidarbha region of Maharashtra hosts major part of this lush green landscape which is ecologically one of the most significant regions of India. More than 50% of forest of Maharashtra State falls in this region. Government of Maharashtra (GoM) however is doing little on its part to protect these. Perceiving them as ‘hurdles’ GoM is pushing more and more unfeasible dam projects in this region in the name of irrigation. Water for rivers, biodiversity, wildlife has taken a backseat in the growing claims on Wainganga waters. If these projects come up health of Wainganga basin will be further seriously jeopardized.
This is an attempt to put together Maharashtra specific profile of Wainganga River. Continue reading “Wainganga River: Threatened lifeline of Vidarbha’s Forests”
In an unprecedented first ever Audit report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which recently conducted Performance Audit on ‘Environmental Clearance and Post Clearance Monitoring’ has unambiguously stated that the existing processes for grant of Environmental Clearance are fraught with serious violations, noncompliance and deficiencies.[i] In fact River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects have been highlighted for poorest quality of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Reports, maximum irregularities during Public Hearings, and non-compliance of Environmental Clearance conditions.
This is a resounding slap on the face of the functioning of the current and past Expert Appraisal Committee’s (EACs on Dams and vindicates and validates what SANDRP and other civil society groups have been saying for long. This is indeed much needed critical feedback when EAC is seeking to make its proceedings less and less transparent and providing false justifications for the same. Continue reading “CAG validates concerns about shoddy environmental appraisal of Dams”
Karnataka is one of the four southern states of Peninsular India (Figure 1a), came into existence with the passage of the States Reorganisation Act (1956, Nov 1) and is located 11°30′ North and 18°30′ North latitudes and 74° East and 78°30′ East longitude (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Karnataka). The state covers an area of 191,976 km² (5.83% of India‘s geographical area). Karnataka is the eighth largest Indian state by area, the ninth largest by population and comprises 30 districts (figure 1b) divided in to 4 administrative divisions, 270 towns and 29406 villages (http://ssakarnataka.gov.in/). The state is situated on a table land where the Western and Eastern Ghats ranges converge into the complex, in the western part of the Deccan Peninsular region of India. Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamilnadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the southwest.
About Kerala Rivers
Of Kerala‘s 44 rivers, 41 flow westwards and the rest towards east. The basin area of major rivers is located within the Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot, while some other northern rivers originate in laterite hills. The short length of the rivers coupled with very high population density (over 30 million people living in a land area of 38,000 sq km) creates high dependency on water and the rivers‘ susceptibility towards environmental onslaughts.
In the six major rivers featured in the Status Report, we discuss biodiversity in riparian upper catchments and low lying wetlands. Overall, the southern Western Ghats region with catchments including many of the major riers of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has the highest freshwater species richness (260–312 species) and endemism (103–129 species), with particularly unique diversity of fish in Chalakudy and Periyar rivers. In rivers like Bharatapuzha, of the 6000 odd sq km catchment, a mere 100 sq km has intact forests in the catchment of Kunthipuzha, the lifeline of the river‘s summer flows. The Vembanad-Kol wetland, the largest estuarine system in India, is fed by 10 rivers. It supports diverse livelihoods – below sea level paddy farming, fishing, coir retting, to name a few. The wetlands offer flood protection for thickly-populated coastal areas and contributes to groundwater recharge.
Guest Blog by: Chicu Lokgariwar
It’s a girl! And another girl!
On March 20 2017, the High Court of Uttarakhand in an unforeseen move, bestowed ‘legal personhood’ on the Ganga and the Yamuna. Ten days later, as people were still trying to understand the implications of this order, the Court declared the glaciers, lakes, and wetlands of these basins as legal persons. What does this mean exactly?
The decree: As per an order passed on 20th March 2017, while ruling on a public interest litigation filed by Mohammed Salim against the State of Uttarakhand, the High Court has declared the entire length of the Ganga and the Yamuna, including their tributaries to be juristic persons.
The order states, ‘..the Rivers Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams, every natural water flowing with flow continuously or intermittently of these rivers, are declared as juristic/legal persons/living entities having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person in order to preserve and conserve river Ganga and Yamuna.’
In a most significant event, some 85 river and dam activists from 40 countries and all continents gathered in Tbilisi, Georgia (on border between Asia and Europe, between Black and Caspian Sea) during March 27-31, 2017 to share experiences about their efforts to protect the world’s rivers and join their struggles against destructive hydropower projects. The meeting was organized by CEE BankWatch Network (active in 12 countries in Eastern and Central Europe) and International Rivers.
Eight persons from South Asia, including those from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh joined the meeting to share experiences from the region. Indian participant included SANDRP coordinator (who was also in steering committee of the meeting) and Associate Coordinator Parineeta Dandekar. A number of participants from neighboring and nearby countries like China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia and Russia also participated. Issues related to trans-boundary rivers, small hydropower projects and multiple projects on the same rivers, decommissioning of the dams, how to achieve free flowing rivers and importance of rivers in changing climate were some of the key issues discussed at the meeting.
Guest Blog by Nandini Oza
My recent visit to Varanasi in March 2017 was with a lot of expectations for more than one reason. Varanasi is situated on the majestic Ganga and located between the two rivers Varuna and Asi with Gomti – Ganga sangam (confluence) not far away. Naturally Varanasi would be of interest to any person interested in rivers and water. The Government has also announced the ambitious Namami Gange program which is essentially a national mission for cleaning of the river Ganga. The Government has also declared building of waterways through more than hundred rivers across the country and all the three rivers of Varanasi, the Ganga, Varuna and Asi are a part of this project. Besides, Varanasi being Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s constituency for three years now, he takes personal interest in its development through several programmes like Swatch Bharat Abhiyan, Namami Gange and so on. This visit was therefore to familiarise myself with the ground situation, issues and recent developments and I share my impressions here. I also share some of the discussions I had with local groups and individuals of the holy city of Banaras.