Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 24 April 2017 ( NHPC CMD tells us Dams have no adverse impacts anywhere in the world! Admits that Hydro is no longer viable for private sector)

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.

VERY VERY Interesting interview by NHPC CMD K M Singh, where he reveals a number of things.  Please share it !

1. The Hydropower projects are no longer viable for the private sector, which only shows that they become viable for NHPC only because of the govt subsidies and hidden costs.

2. The projects with cost of power above Rs 4.3 per are not viable as discoms are refusing to buy power at higher rates. In fact the cut off possibly is lower than that. All the three under construction NHPC projects (Lower Subansiri, Kishanganga and Parbati II) will have cost of power ABOVE this cut off.

3. Private companies are no longer constructing the projects are even abandoning them midway and offering to NHPC.

4. He makes the most unbelievable statement: “There have been no negative impacts of dams, not just in India, but anywhere in the world”. What more can one say about the credibility of NHPC CMD?

5. There is no problem of getting environment and forest clearances!


SANDRP Blog NHPC negligence leads to man-made disaster in Parbati Valley 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.

Manipur Civil groups urge Govt to desist Mapithel dam commissioning The Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization (MDAVO) the JAC-Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Peoples (MDDAP) and the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM) jointly organized a media consultation on “Mapithel dam and its Commissioning Plan” at Manipur Press Club on  April 17, 2017. The consultation is organized in the context of the recent announcement of the Minister of Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD), Govt of Manipur on April 01, 2017 to commission Mapithel dam within 20 days, i.e on April 20, 2017. A resolution against commissioning of Mapithel dam was also adopted at the end of the media consultation.

Resolution: The participants of consultation on Mapithel dam and Commissioning Plans” hereby resolved the following:

  • The Mapithel dam should not be commissioned without fulfilling the demands of affected communities both in the upstream and downstream portion of Mapithel dam, for their rights, including for their rehabilitation and resettlement.
  • An expert team should conduct a detailed assessment of the safety of Mapithel dam, considering the ongoing water leakage from Mapithel dam, with due information to all communities.
  • The corruption aspect of Mapithel dam should be thoroughly investigated.
  • Affected communities will reject and resist all efforts of the Government of Manipur to forcibly commission the Mapithel dam without peoples consent.
  • Communities affected by Mapithel dam in both upstream and downstream of Mapithel Dam will jointly strive and struggle to stop commissioning of Mapithel dam and to achieve their demands.

Himachal Pradesh Such an AMAZING Birthday Gift to ADB (Asian Development Bank) from Mansi Asher and Endangered Himachal. PLS DO view and SHARE.


Maharashtra 12 sqkm forests to drown for BMC’s new dams The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has proposed the construction of Gargai and Pinjal dams and a river-link project to meet the water demands of the city. However, the construction of the dams will require almost 12 sqkm of forest land in Palghar district be submerged, without any possibility of afforestation. Creation of dams will also hamper the movement of animals by shrinking their habitats. It will also adversely impact the area’s aquatic ecology and air quality. There seems to be push for completely unnecessary Gargai and Pinjal Dams in the name of water supply to Mumbai when Mumbai does not need it. 


Renuka Dam Stories from Renuka valley Himachal Pradesh is hurrying to build a dam in Renuka Valley that will benefit three regions quarrelling with each other about the water. Meanwhile, the valley’s peasants look lost about their future. Manshi Asher and Sumit Mahar write about the unnecessary, unjustified Renuka Dam.


Ken-Betwa Link How to drown a tiger As the tiger returns to Panna, the reserve itself is up against a brand new threat: the Rs. 18,000 crore Ken-Betwa river-linking project. If implemented, the Bundelkhand-based project will submerge prime forest spread over 4,000 hectares and destroy 11 lakh trees. The tiger reserve itself will be bifurcated by the dam, leaving even less forest space for the beleaguered tigers. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP has written an extensive critique of the EIA report, including the process by which information was shared with the public. Thakkar points out glaring mistakes in the EIA report. In fact, scientific studies clearly show that the Ken has at least four endangered and nine vulnerable species. Besides Thakkar, a number of other experts have written letters to the EAC asking them to revisit the Terms of Reference on the basis of which the project has been given approval. Excellent article by Bahar Dutt on how Ken Betwa link will destroy Panna Tiger Reserve and more. In another news report M K Ranjitsingh ji, a member of MP SBWL and who gave dissenting note, says the Ken Betwa project will neither benefit the Panna, nor bring Paani to Bundelkhand.


SYL Row SC tells Centre, States to resolve SYL canal dispute soon The Supreme Court  on April 20, 2017 directed to an amicable settlement of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal row and asked both Haryana and Punjab to find a solution to it soon. Although the court gave the Centre a chance to mediate between the two states, the bench made it clear that on the next hearing it would proceed with the matter if the attempt to negotiate fails. It was clarified to both the parties that the only issue before the court was the execution of its verdict allowing construction of the canal. On April 20, Centre calls a meeting of Punjab and Haryana to try to settle the SYL issue, else on April 27 the SC will go ahead with giving directions for construction of the canal as per its earlier orders.


National WB approves $ 375 million loan for developing NW-1 The World Bank on April 21, 2017 has approved a $375 million loan for capacity augmentation of National Waterway-1(River Ganga) under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). The govt is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under JMVP from Haldia to Varanasi (1390 Km) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs 5369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 DWT.


Punjab Vigilance suspects scam in repair at Harike headworks The Vigilance Bureau (VB) suspects a scam in the cleaning and repair of the Ferozepur-Sriganganagar canal and other portions at Harike head works. The inquiry based on a complaint to Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh pertains to misappropriation of funds sanctioned for desilting of 55,000-foot canal from Gurditiwala Head to Balewala Head. Also under probe are repair of Harike headworks and filling of hollow spaces in the Ferozepur feeder canal. It seems there have been a possible scam in repair and desilting of Harike Headworks and Canals.

Haryana HC holds 2 irrigation department officials guilty of contempt The Punjab and Haryana high court has held chief engineer (Bhakra water services) of the state irrigation department and his predecessor guilty of contempt of court. They had failed to implement the orders of the high court passed in August 2016 to resolve the problems of Jind district farmers regarding supply of irrigation water to their fields. Both officers have been asked to be present before the court on April 25 for sentencing. Interesting case where the High Court punishes two BBMB irrigation engineers for complete defiance of court orders.


SANDRP Report Is anyone listening to dying rivers? Just a few months ago, thousands of people from Mumbai marched for their rivers. They cleared whatever they could with bare hands. Arunachal’s Subansiri River is flowing today because of the sheer grit showed by a ragtag peasant’s army in Assam. They are not aberrations, they are us. A report by Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP on World Earth Day.

GANGA Centre Panel formed to frame Ganga act draft submits report to govt  A committee formed by the Centre to frame a draft for the Ganga act, which provides for “stricter” action against those polluting the river on April 12, 2017 has submitted its report to the Water Ministry. According to an official statement, the draft law addresses “critical” issues pertaining to Ganga on its cleanliness and uninterrupted e-flow. The draft act will now be circulated to some ministries including Law for their suggestions. The Water Ministry will then seek suggestions/objections from public before finalising the draft. The committee under Justice (Retd) Girdhar Malviya has submitted a draft of Ganga act to punish the polluters to MoWR on April 12, 2017 now the process will move forward, after consultations with relevant ministries, it will be open for public comment, this report says.

Report Now rivers have the same legal status as people While the article sounds positive about Ganga being given a status of person, this is the crux: “The Indian court’s orders are vague on some of these aspects, but with a number of hydroelectricity projects being built or planned for the upper reaches of the Ganges and the Yamuna, a clearer articulation of what the court’s orders mean is urgently needed.

And while New Zealand entrusts custodianship of the river to the Iwi people and the government, India puts its faith mostly in government officials and legal experts. This appears shortsighted, given that the country has so far failed to maintain the health of the Ganges and the Yamuna. How will its officials be responsible “parents” – as designated by the court – if their superiors continue to make decisions that are detrimental to the rivers, such as massive hydro-project construction? Can these officials sue their own government?”


Andhra Pradesh Govt to launch water conservation program State Govt will launch ‘Neeti Samrakshana Udyamam’ (water conservation movement), which has a target of building 20,000 check dams in 90 days. According to preliminary estimates, a minimum of Rs 720 crore will be spent on the construction of check dams, but the expenditure may go up depending on the size of the structures. Each check dam may cost anywhere between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 50 lakh (maximum), depending on the size. Interestingly, despite its failure in completing the Panta Sanjeevani program in the last two years, the govt has set a fresh target of digging another four lakh farm ponds under Panta Sanjeevani in 2017-18 using NREGS funds. Andhra Pradesh to launch a program for building 20 000 check dams in 90 days at the cost of Rs 720 crores, before the onset of monsoon. It does not have great track record in achieving such targets.


CGWB Northwest India headed the Latur way As per the latest assessment of Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), rampant extraction of groundwater could soon push Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan towards a similar harrowing shortage of water. Analysis of water use by different states shows that a gradual decline in per capita availability could leave these states in the same precarious position as the Marathwada region, which has faced two consecutive years of drought. The assessment shows that these states, in fact, consume much more groundwater than their rechargeable limit every year, making them vulnerable to severe water scarcity. The groundwater crisis in North West India is indeed dire and real, and yet, the report or the people quoted here have no real suggestions to address the crisis. According another report ground water level continues to drop in 67% of wells covering 65% of area in Punjab, both according to annual and decadal figures, in fact the decadal figures show worse situation than annual one.


Op-Ed Should we privatise water? by Himanshu Thakkar, Arun Lakhani & Mihir Shah  In this excellent interview water expert Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP says that privatisation of water is unwarranted, unjustified and unnecessary. He further says that in pushing for it, we are not really addressing the key issue plaguing the water sector, which is a need for better governance. He also says that there is need of democratic, transparent, accountable and participatory governance in a bottom-up approach, on each aspect of the urban water sector where water privatisation is advocated.


Delhi is on the verge of a groundwater crisis Over 50% of the wells in NCT Delhi’s south district register below 40 mbgl, while 35-40% of the wells lie in the range of 20-40 mbgl. The shallowest water-levels (2-5 mbgl) occur mainly in the north and northeast districts, like the Yamuna floodplains. Interesting, but to say that climatic factors are decisive reason for depletion of groundwater levels in Delhi is TOTALLY WRONG.


Centre Govt warns of water shortage The ministry of water resource has asked some states to promote water conservation projects ahead of the monsoon season as they could be vulnerable to drought conditions. Maharashtra, Telangana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh are identified as vulnerable states as some of them are in arid and semi-arid zones, receive spatial rains, and have low water storage in reservoirs, or are seeing a decline in the water tables. In 2016-17, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry suffered agricultural drought. One wonders what is the significance and meaning of this kind of general warning by Centre to states.

South India stares at another water crisis  Among the five southern states, only Telangana and adjoining districts of Bidar and Gulbarga in north Karnataka are doing a shade better thanks to the good showers it received last year. Barring parts of Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda districts in the southern part of the state, the lakes and ponds elsewhere still have water and that takes care of the drinking water needs. This was made possible by the government’s focus on repairing and rejuvenating its wells, farm ponds and minor irrigation tanks, groundwater recharge and construction of water harvesting structures with over 1.21 lakh water-related works done under MGNREGS in 2016-17. Some more details of South India drought this year.

Kerala Govt issue guidelines on water usage The Kerala Water Authority has issued guidelines on the usage of water and warned of strong action to curb its misuse in the wake of the severe drinking water shortage. As per KWA sources, fines up to Rs 50,000 will be slapped for unauthorised use of pipelines. Household connections with over six months’ payment dues  and non-household connections with over two months’ dues  will be disconnected without prior notice. The supply for consumers who have not replaced dysfunctional water metres will be cut. Good to see some emergency measures by Kerala Water Authority in view of drought, better late than never. However, there is no direction to stop functioning of non essential water intensive activities like cold drinks and bottled water plants.

Karnataka Bengaluru can avoid water crisis by harvesting rain water In general one would agree with the suggestions here, though we need more detailed plans and little more nuanced figures. Bangalore requires an average of 18 to 20 TMC (1000 million cubic feet) of water annually. Of this, rainfall has the potential to meet at least 15 TMC while the remaining can be sourced from the treatment of sewage. Rooftop harvesting will cater to household requirements whereas groundwater recharge through rejuvenation of lakes can go a long way in meeting this requirement for the entire city. With the city receiving an average of 750-800 mm of rainfall in a year, efficient watershed programs across the city can generate at least 15 TMC of water. Treatment of wastewater can generate another 16 TMC.

Some worrying figures: Land use analysis of Bangalore city, according to the scientific report by researchers at the Centre for Ecological Sciences at IISc, shows a 1005 percent increase (from 8.0 percent to 77 percent) in the urban (built-up) area between 1973 and 2016. This has led to a decrease in vegetation in catchments areas by 88 percent and water bodies by 79 percent. The number of lakes (that maintained and recharged the groundwater) has drastically reduced and along with unplanned urbanisation, encroachment of lakes and storm water drains there has been a decline in groundwater tables.

Meanwhile Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) say that it has adequate water for city and has no plans to ration supply of drinking water to its consumers as of now. AMAZING that whole of south India, including Karnataka is facing unprecedented drought, but Bangalore water supply board says there is no water shortage! On the other hand, Water Level in Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) dips below MDDL of 74 feet on April 17, still leaving 4.04 TMC ft of water still usable above dead storage level, possibly sufficient till the rains.


IMD As per IMD forecast for 2017 South West Monsoon the rainfall is likely to be 96% +/- 5% (or in the range 91% to 101%). However, considering the other forecasts which are saying that El Nino is likely to develop in the second half of monsoon and considering that SW Monsoon Rainfall last year was 9% below the forecast of IMD, and considering that with changing climate, past models are not always the best guides, we should be prepared for below normal rains. See full IMD forecast here.

FLOOD 2017

Jammu & Kashmir Yet another nightmare! Srinagar has once again passed through a nightmarish situation due to a sudden flood in River Jhelum. It is nature’s warning for a big one which may hit us soon unless preventive measures are taken on a war footing! Recent floods in Srinagar provides yet another warning, else worst floods may be the destiny as this report again warns.


Centre Govt halves the size for its largest-ever rooftop solar project The renewable energy ministry has halved the size of its largest-ever rooftop solar tender and also cut the financial assistance offered for it. Ashvini Kumar, managing director of state-run Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), which had released documents related to a tender for installation of 1GW of rooftop solar plants across buildings of 12 central ministries, told that the tender size has been reduced to 500 MW. Rooftop solar project for Buildings across India of 12 ministries of Govt of India is in a mess. This was a easier option, rooftop solar of the individuals is more difficult.


Bhutan The value of Bhutan’s rivers Very fascinating indeed: “As the first community-based organization that is using rivers to earn a livelihood, RGP is entering unchartered territory. The organization is made up of a handful of villagers from the area who see a future within their community. While they have all had some education, they do not see the need to migrate to urban areas seeking jobs like other educated village youth. They have become role models for youth in Panbang. Most importantly, they are also demonstrating, in a small way, that there are other ways Bhutanese can benefit from our rivers. They are making a case to keep some of Bhutan’s rivers wild and free. They are teaching us all that rural livelihoods and sustainable tourism can be built on free-flowing rivers. RGP is a sustainable enterprise project supported by the Bhutan Foundation.” Very interesting report on Bhutan’s Rivers, culturally important sites, Hydropower rush and the power of a free flowing river.

Bangladesh PM to discuss $1bn investment in hydro project with Bhutan During her three days visit to Bhutan starting from April 18, 2017 PM Shiekh Hasina  is expected to discuss a potential investment of $1 billion in a hydropower project in Bhutan with the country’s govt. As per report, Bangladesh and Bhutan will also discuss river basin-based water resource management, sub-regional cooperation, connectivity, cultural cooperation, agriculture and business. Interesting development, Bangladesh to invest about USD 1 billion in a BIG hydropower project in Bhutan (similar one also in Nepal) and hopes to get the electricity from it.

On the other hand, Bangladesh is looking for new site to build a dam on Ganga. As per report after PM canceled the previous site, Bangladesh Water Ministry has formed a committee to identify other potential sites for the dam. The project was planned at Pangsha, a sub-district in Rajbari, near where the Padma River meets the Brahmaputra River.


Pakistan About Tarbela 5 hydropower extension project The Tarbela 5 hydropower extension project in Pakistan is one of the first investments made by the world’s newest multilateral bank – the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). There will be much scrutiny of the AIIB’s investments in its first year: how will it differ from existing multilateral development banks? How will the AIIB handle the social and environmental impacts of its first projects? Will this new bank transform the way development is done, or just repeat the mistakes of its predecessors? From Bank Information Centre about Tarbela Project of Pakistan.

Pakistan vigilant to protect western rivers Important development: “Pakistan National Water Policy had been prepared by the ministry with the collaboration of all stakeholders and submitted for the approval of the Council of Common Interests. He said the policy provided comprehensive guidelines for water resources management and development as per international practice.

According to the policy, provinces were also at liberty to come up with their own policy framework in line with the National Water Policy. Once approved by the council, it would pave way for improved, sustainable and integrated water resources management in the country, the minister added. He said the policy included guidelines and a roadmap on water uses and allocation of priorities, integrated planning for development and use of water resources, environmental integrity of Basin, impact of climate change etc.”

Meanwhile the Pakistan Govt on April 18, 2017 informed the Senate that after the signing of Indus Water Treaty, 1960, India has completed as many as 52 hydroelectric plants, another 32 are under construction while 103 others are at planning stage on Rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. During the question hour, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that 15 hydroelectric plants are constructed on Indus, 19 on Jhelum and 18 on Chenab Rivers by India and 22 are under construction at Indus, five each at Jhelum and Chenab, 12 are planned at Indus, 38 at Jhelum and 53 at Chenab. In a written reply, the minister said that at present, India has no storage work constructed on the waters of these rivers, though limited pondage is available in the run of the river hydroelectric plants/ dams constructed by India on the three rivers.  While the info about hydro in India on Jhelum, Chenab and Indus seem a bit exaggerated, there is other useful information here.



Africa People power defeats water bill in Nigeria The report is about how people of Lagos in Nigeria are opposing a controversial law that would have criminalised the access to informal water sector by about 20 million people, largely due to protests, but the fight continues. Even if about 4 weeks old, this is worth remembering and saluting. An earlier article by the same author provides some details of why this is problematic.

Canada For the first time on record, human-caused climate change has rerouted an entire river A team of scientists on April 17, 2017 documented what they’re describing as the first case of large-scale river reorganization as a result of human-caused climate change. They found that in mid-2016, the retreat of a very large glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory led to the rerouting of its vast stream of melt water from one river system to another — cutting down flow to the Yukon’s largest lake, and channeling freshwater to the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, rather than to the Bering Sea. The researchers dubbed the reorganization an act of “rapid river piracy,” saying that such events had often occurred in the Earth’s geologic past, but never before, to their knowledge, as a sudden present-day event. They also called it “geologically instantaneous.” Can we grasp the proportions of this event? An entire river system, including a lake rerouted by Climate change. More seriously though, thanks for posting this. The article could have easily given a map showing the old and new path of the river to illustrate the change. It explains HOW this happened.


6_Levy of Sandbags & Huts_Cyclone

Bangladesh The unfolding tragedy of climate change Bangladesh sits at the head of the Bay of Bengal, astride the largest river delta on Earth, formed by the junction of the Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Meghna rivers. Nearly one-quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet about sea level; two-thirds of the country is less than 15 feet above sea level. Most Bangladeshis live along coastal areas where alluvial delta soils provide some of the best farmland in the country. There is a lot in this article that shows that climate change is already impacting Bangladesh.

Global ‘March for Science’ protests call for action on climate change THIS IS SO AMAZING: 600 MARCHES across the Earth, on WORLD EARTH DAY, saying we need “Science, not Silence”, that ignorance of Climate Change is “AN EMBARRASSMENT BEYOND BELIEF”, “There is NO PLAN B”, “Science only AFTER peer review. SALUTES INDEED. Please share. Also see, Jane Hirshfield’s magnificent poem against the Silencing of Science and the assault on Nature


MoEF Forest clearance to 19 projects revoked The Union ministry of environment, forest has revoked in-principle approvals under Forest (Conservation) Act to 19 projects in Maharashtra pending due to non-compliance for more than five years. The 19 projects involve forest land diversion of over 5,200 hectares. They are irrigation (13), mining (2), rehabilitation (1), road (1) and other projects (2). These projects have been hanging fire for more than a decade and some for over 16 years. Proposals for these also include mutation of zudpi jungle to revenue land. Shockingly, this land amounts to 35,010.89 hectares. The FAC in a letter to state principal secretary (forests) has invited attention of the state govt and has now asked it to apply for permission afresh under the FCA. Forest clearance (stage I) for 19 Maharashtra projects, including 13 irrigation projects (including Human Dam project, Surya irrigation project, among others) revoked since the state I clearance conditions not fulfilled for five years.

Environment ministry to review pending forest clearances The union environment ministry on April 18, 2017 announced that it has decided to review the status of pending forest clearances and expedite the process. The decision was taken after a meeting by A.N. Jha, secretary of the environment ministry. The environment ministry also decided that all EACs will hold at least two meetings in April and May for the appraisal of projects, with special emphasis on projects pertaining to different ministries.

Report NTPC power generation cost drops 39.5 paise to below Rs 2 per unit The state-owned NTPC has managed to bring down its cost of electricity generation by an average 39.5 paise while for the Mauda project, it was a decline of Rs 1.65 per unit, mainly because of improvement in coal quality and supply. Data available with NTPC showed that the overall cost of power generation has come down to below Rs 2 last fiscal, driven by improved quality of coal and its supplies, a power ministry official said. NTPC power cost comes down to Rs 1.94 per unit.

Centre New guidelines for inland fisheries The Union govt has issued guidelines for the States on framing a Bill on inland fisheries and aquaculture, amid mounting concern over the pollution and encroachment of water bodies in Kerala and the long- standing demand to protect the traditional rights and livelihood security of inland fishers. According to the guidelines, encroachment or reclamation of rivers, lakes and wetlands and pollution of water sources is to be treated as a punishable offence. Dumping of solid waste in lakes, wetlands and lagoons has also been recommended for punishment. The guidelines propose regulations on the use of fishing craft and gear to protect commercially important fish species from exploitation. This is indeed welcome, but these are only guidelines, without any road map for implementation. We need to push govt to effectively implement these.  

You may also like to DRP News Bulletin 17 April 2017 and DRP News Bulletin 10 April 2017

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