India should not push Pancheshwar Project in Nepal DIPAK GYAWALI asks a lot of pertinent questions here, including this one about PANCHESHWAR DAM: “Did it (India) not ram the Mahakali Treaty down Nepali throats in 1996 against all sane voices of caution and then has been unable to move an inch forward in all these two decades since then? As per the agreement, Nepal was to have received additional irrigation benefits from Tanakpur from an outlet with a sill level built maliciously high: Nepal has already spent billions building canals and distribution structures on its side but not only is there no movement on the Indian side, rather the latest Mughlani communication has been that you Nepalis can build all the canals you want on your side but we will do nothing until after the 6480 MW Pancheshwar high dam is built (when, in the next century?).”
He further writes: “And this is where India and Modi have failed. His grand “Neighbourhood First” policy – announced with much fanfare at his inauguration as well as his first trip to Nepal – was quickly mothballed by the Raisina Hill Babudom back to coercive diplomacy. In Nepal’s case, the first was its disastrous blockade that not only backfired but has fertilized anti-Indian sentiments in Nepal for generations. Now, to counter Chinese development proposals, one reads news reports that Modi is slated to visit Nepal to lay the foundation for the Arun-3 project. It would be a colossal mistake if he did so that would contrast very unfavourably with the Chinese forays in Nepal.”
This of course can now change with India being power surplus:
“China trying to build West Seti or very wrongly the Budhi Gandaki hydel projects is very different from India building Arun-3. The former two projects are going to be built for Nepal to end Nepal’s load-shedding and providing electricity to some 60% of the country’s population that still does not have access to it. Even though the Budhi Gandaki has now been ensnared in malfeasance with a dubious Chinese developer with a highly questionable, blacklistable past and with fears of built-in cost escalation that would rob the Nepali consumers, it is still a project FOR Nepal. Satluj’s Arun-3 or GMR’s Upper Karnali, on the other hand, are export projects where the electricity GOES ACROSS to India as per a very neo-colonial mode of development.”
Sharp words here: “If Mr Modi came to lay the foundation stone of Arun-3, he would become a laughing stock and subject to derision as a neo-colonialist; and that is hardly a way to score points over the Chinese in Nepal.” https://www.spotlightnepal.com/2017/06/23/expanding-dragon-panickingelephant/
MoEF’s EAC gives flawed go ahead for public hearing for Pancheshwar In the meanwhile, in recently released minutes of meeting of Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley projects on May 31, 2017, the EAC in a strange move, has suggested that the govt may go ahead with public hearing of India part of the project, which will be clearly be flawed since it would not be EIA of the whole project. Another instance to show how flawed the decision making is about this project.
India owes a debt to farmers Yogendra Yadav on Farm Loan Waiver: “Over the last five decades, farmers have subsidised the national economy to the tune of hundreds of crores. So, the country owes a debt to the farmers. Farmers’ debt to the banks is a small fraction of this national debt owed to them. Writing off the existing debt is actually a cheaper option for the government. Instead of looking at loan waiver as a dole, it should be seen as partial payment of arrears or gratuity, long overdue… Surely, if we can afford bullet trains, tax waivers, bailouts, loan restructuring for corporates and one of the biggest import budgets for defence, we can also afford a big, one time relief to the farmers… instead of discussing rights and wrongs of farm loan waiver, let us shift to discussing when and how of a one-time farm loan waiver along with an assured income for the farmers.” https://thewire.in/149683/a-case-for-farm-loan-waiver/
Farmers revolts across the country:The BJP had promised during the campaign to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that it would implement the recommendations made by the National Commission on Farmers chaired by M.S. Swaminathan in its report submitted in 2006. The report had suggested that the MSP incorporate a 50 per cent profit margin on input cost. However, none of this has been done. In addition, farmers cultivating environment friendly and hugely critical pulses have been given a short shrift by the government in many states, not even ensuring Minimum Support Prices and procurement. This does not bode well for the farming sector of the country.
SYSTEM OF RICE INTENSIFICATION
Farmers encouraged to take up SRI cultivation GREAT to see this promotion of SRI in Andhra Pradesh, this needs to happen in all water scarce paddy growing areas. P Krishna Rao, a farmer from Uratla who planted paddy using the SRI cultivation method, said, “I was sceptical of the high yields promised. However, I knew that the input costs would come down. As against the requirement of 30 kg of seeds per acre in the traditional method, the seed requirement came down to 12 kg per acre. More importantly, the water requirement is less than 40% as against the traditional methods where the water has to stand in the field. But, the pleasant surprise came when my actual yield jumped up by 25% which is 40 bags as against the 32 bags as per the traditional method.” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/visakhapatnam/experts-encourage-paddy-farmers-to-take-up-sri-cultivation-in-district/articleshow/59196935.cms
TAMIL NADU faces poor monsoon All the 11 dams in Madurai district collectively have 713 million cubic feet (5.20%) of water against the maximum capacity of 13,765 mcft. All the 2,518 irrigation tanks – 1,221 systemised tanks and 1,297 non-systemised tanks – are dry. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/dry-spell-returns-to-catchment-areas-worse-days-are-ahead/article19121026.ece
Cloudburst leads to flashfloods in parts of Kashmir: Twin cloud bursts in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district caused flash floods, destroyed two forest depots and damaged 13 water-supply schemes. Officials said that the property worth lakhs has been damaged due to cloud burst that hit Dodhwagan and Halsidar villages of Verinag in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Notes on monsoon from a botanical sanctuary: Botanist and conservationist Suprabha Seshan has been documenting advent of the monsoon in a Botanical Sanctuary in Kerala for several years now. Here she notes the fragile relationship of the mountains, forests and rainfall.
Penalized by NGT for violations, MoEF’s EAC extends Env Clearance for Vishnugad Pipalkoti HEP How pathetic is EAC functioning in river valley projects is apparent even in this mainstream media report. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-expert-panel-extends-clearance-for-tehri-project-2481109
1200 MW Teesta III a failed PPP Project The 1200 MW Teesta III HEP in Sikkim is failed example of PPP Hydro model, All India Power Engineers Federation has said.
– It is selling electricity below Rs 3 per unit while the adhoc rate CERC determined was Rs 6 per unit, but there are not takers of power at that rate.
– Large part of the power generated by the project in this high flow season is not being used since Power Transmission lines are not built, even though the project was hugely delayed “with a continuous loss of 12 Million Units per day valued at Rs 3.6 crore.”
– Capital cost escalated from Rs 5,705 crore to Rs 13,965 crore including interest charges, possibly more.
Sikkim Hydropower firm faces Bankruptcy LANCO INFRATECH, which is facing Bankruptcy proceedings, is one of the hydro company developers, including Teesta VI project in Sikkim. http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/lanco-infratech-becomes-the-first-firm-from-blacklist-to-face-bankruptcy-action/59228113
Non Optimum Hydropower operation in India There is scope for additional peaking support of 3,000-5,000 MW from all existing hydropower stations, according to a joint study by the Forum of Load Dispatchers and the Power System Operation Corporation. The report, titled ‘Operational Analysis for Optimisation of Hydro Resources & Facilitating Renewable Integration in India’, was released by Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, and Mines, Piyush Goyal, at a meeting with the Forum of Regulators. The report also notes that the country’s existing hydropower stations have the ability to equally back down power in off-peak hours from the existing generation. “The gain from the optimised despatch on annual basis is estimated to be 5 paisa per unit, which is equivalent to earning of the order of ₹600 crore per year at all-India level,” it says. SANDRP has been saying this for long, good to see some substantiation by an official report. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/india-can-earn-600-cr-more-from-existing-hydropower/article9735255.ece
Where are Teesta Waters? “Travelling upstream along the Teesta, the Teesta Low Dam Project (Phase IV) comes into view almost as soon as one enters the foothills of the Himalayas. This is supposed to be a 160 megawatt (MW) run-of-the-river hydropower project. The river is almost dry after the Teesta Low Dam project Just downstream of the dam, the riverbed is bone dry. Just upstream is a large pool of stagnant water. As one travels just a few kilometres further upstream, the scenario repeats itself at the Teesta Low Dam Project (Phase III), a 132 MW run-of-the-river hydropower project. And it is the same further upstream in Sikkim, where a series of run-of-the-river hydropower plants are running, while more are being built. The larger the plant, the bigger its dam, and the bigger the stagnant pool upstream of the dam. Run-of-the-river hydropower projects were approved because they would not hold back water. But that is exactly what they are doing. Why?” https://www.thethirdpole.net/2017/06/19/where-are-the-teesta-waters/
The canal, the climate and the Teesta The Second Part of this article is more interesting though: https://www.thethirdpole.net/2017/06/20/the-canal-the-climate-and-the-teesta/
Remembering Uttarakhand Disaster of June 2013 They pointed at the roles of large hydro power projects in altering the ecological scenario adding that in some cases, dams had either fuelled or exacerbated disaster. Vimal Bhai of Matu Jansangathan said, “We have regularly elicited focus on destruction caused by dams, got the people their rights and worked for protection of rivers. However, the stance of the Uttarakhand Government and Union Government has remained completely in favour of the dam companies. In the Alaknanda valley, the Vishnuprayag dam caused destruction in seven villages downstream because the sluice gates of the dam were shut when they should have been open. Causing destruction in villages, damaging land on the banks and destroying parts of Pandukeshwar, Govindghat, this negligence had also led to the collapse of bridges to Badrinath and to Hemkund. Neither the state nor the Central Government directed any probe in this case. The case filed by Matu Jansangathan against the company implementing the project, for improper disposal of muck and debris, caused the authorities to observe some regulations. Due to this, the locals could get contracts for works like repairing and constructing protection walls along the river bank. The local administration is responsible for checking whether the disposal of muck and debris is being done as required. How well this has been done is a subject for inquiry,” he said. http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/govt-should-continue-search-for-keadrnath-victims-bodies.html
Russia plans to enter mini hydro sector in India Hydro sector being in the decline, if this is going to be useful. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/russia-plans-to-venture-into-mini-hydro-electric-power-projects-in-india/story-XLSOIhampB8g6JsxZTEwbO.html
Narmada Valley in Turmoil after inhuman and illegal SSP gate closure The Narmada Valley remains in turmoil with over 40000 families to face submergence, most of them without being resettled as legally required and the judiciary seems to have remained quite about this patently illegal and inhuman act. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/narmada-valley-in-turmoil-after-sardar-sarovar-gate-closure/articleshow/59222456.cms
Balganga Dam Scam in Maharashtra Some details of ED-ACB probe into Balganga Dam scam in Maharashtra allegedly involving the then Water Minister Pawar. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/acb-replies-to-queries-raised-by-ed-4714277/
INTERLINKING OF RIVERS
India’s Vanishing Wildlife – Balance Between Conservation And Development Beyond Us? Excerpted from The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis by Prerna Singh Bindra, Penguin Random House India, 2017, on how the controversial proposed Ken Betwa Project will destroy Panna Tiger Reserve and more: https://swarajyamag.com/culture/indias-vanishing-wildlife-balance-between-conservation-and-development-beyond-us
Mithi Development Authority did not meet a single time: The Mithi River Development and Protection Authority is chaired by the Maharashtra chief minister. The authority, however, has not had a single meeting since Devendra Fadnavis assumed charge as the state’s chief minister in October 2014.The information was shared by the Mithi River Development and Protection Authority in response to an RTI query. In July 2005, flooding Mithi caused a havoc in Mumbai, disrupting daily lives and causing widespread losses of life and property. Main reasons were encroachment of riverbed, waste disposal, clogged and nonexistent stormwater drainage system.
Stop the encroachments on Yamuna Floodplain Manoj Misra ji writes: “Rivers need space to spread naturally and harmlessly when in flood. Europe has learnt it at high cost following the recent spate of devastating 500 year flood events. In India we have had devastating floods in Mumbai (2005), Uttarakhand (2013), Srinagar (2014) and Chennai (2015) to bring home to us the ill effects of invaded river flood plains. Have any lessons been learnt? Not really, if what is happening in Delhi with Yamuna flood plains is any indication. The River Yamuna travels some 52 km through the NCT of Delhi. It enters near village Palla and exits at village Jaitpur. Ranging from 800 m to 3 km in width, the Yamuna flood plain in Delhi – constituting the DDA’s Zone O – is spread, on paper, over 9,700 ha. But a closer look tells a different story.” http://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/stop-the-encroachments-on-the-yamuna-floodplain-immediately/story-D6BtRrCDBKXV0LLLkJ5P7L.html
Sewage flowing into Narmada, tributaries drying up: Along Its 1,100-km Stretch In MP, Unchecked Flow Of Sewage And Effluents are destroying Narmada. A team of environmentalists travelled along the Narmada river from its origin at Amarkantak in Anuppur district of eastern Madhya Pradesh down to Barwani district abutting Gujarat in the west to take stock of the condition of Narmada in the context of a highprofile campaign by the state government for Narmada conservation. In the 14 districts that they travelled through, towns and cities are emptying untreated sewage in to it and industries are pumping effluents even as deforestation in the surrounding Satpura and Vindhya ranges has dried up 60 of the 101 tributaries that used to feed the Narmada. Groundwater levels have fallen to lows of as much as 300ft or more in the vicinity.
Exhibition on Ganga in Delhi ““Though the exhibition was not initially conceived with any ‘moral of the story’, but any work on Ganga, from any perspective in its present condition cannot avoid dwelling on the dichotomy of its veneration and abuse. We need to take on the responsibility for it. There is an intrinsic link between culture, environment, and life,” says Shakeel Hossain, the curator of the exhibition.” http://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/the-holy-ganga-more-than-just-a-river/story-g1WN4EJIg1Lk98BYlrv3lK.html
Rivers as Persons Interesting podcast on “Rivers as persons”. https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/podcasts/rivers-as-persons
Fish species recovery in the Western Ghats in India It assesses the recovery of stream fish communities below hydrological barriers and shows its evidence primarily due to the contribution of undammed tributaries. http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/damming-river-water-impacts-fish-diversity/article19140868.ece
Mundra Port blocking and destroying creeks in Gujarat coast: Fisherman from Luni village located on seashore of Mundra Juna Bandar (Old Mundra Port) — filed a petition with the SHRC, stating that nearly 200 families sustain themselves through fishing in the Luni, Shekhadia and Tuna villages located near Juna Bandar. Adani Ports Ltd has deployed huge dredging machines in this area and these have blocked 5-6 creeks without taking into consideration of livelihood of fisherfolk.
Fish Catches in Irrawaddy Delta falling: For many years now Hilsa was coming from Irrawaddy delta of Myanmar in Kolkata’s markets. But predictably, fish catches in the delta are sharply declining due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices. At the same time, the decreasing productivity of the Bay of Bengal is also an important factor behind estuarine fisheries decline.
China mum on funding Pakistan’s Diamer Bhasha Hydropower Project: Although Pakistan media and even government is saying that China is ready to fund its 14 Billion Diamer-Bhasha HEP on the Indus from which the ADB retreated, Chinese officials are wary of making any public statements, possibly to avoid reaction from India. Diamer-Bhasha project is proposed on the Indus on disputed territory.
Nepal Nepal Slashed Power Imports from India by 16% Nepal reduces power imports from India as monsoon boosts power generation. Moreover, Nepal finds it cheaper to import power from Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur and Tanakpur-Mahendranagar cross-border transmission lines. http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2017-06-19/nepal-slashes-power-imports-by-16-percent.html
Book Extract from Prerana Bindra’s book: How Environment is pushed to the brink of Disaster in India “Meanwhile, the government enacted a new law in March 2016 — the National Waterways Act, which marks over 100 of India’s rivers as National Waterways — aquatic highways to carry cargo (never mind that most have little water left, and are more drains, not rivers). It is reasoned that such navigation is fuel-efficient, hence cost-effective and eco-friendly. Its green credentials are highly questionable, since channelling rivers into navigable water canals involves building barrages, embankments for port terminals and dredging along channels to allow ships to sail through. Such activity will reduce a river to a canal, and a noisy, filthy thoroughfare, ruining its ecology. For the Gangetic dolphin such a waterway could be a fatal blow. Our flagship dolphin species is virtually blind; it survives by echolocation, that helps the creature “see”, detect and navigate. It fishes, finds a mate, breeds, raises calves, senses danger and averts risks by echolocation. But this remarkable evolutionary adaptation to survive in a murky, silt-carrying river where sight will not penetrate may not save the dolphin now. With over 90 per cent of the Gangetic dolphin distribution overlapping the proposed waterways, its world is set to become infinitely more noisy, with the dredging and din of vessel engines and traffic. It was such mass shipping and pollution that was to eventually see the end of the Yangtze river dolphin, declared extinct in 2007. India’s freshwater sources are further endangered with the government ignoring the vital hydrological component in defining an inviolate forest to enable its smooth and easy diversion for mining, industry and other uses.” http://www.dailyo.in/arts/the-vanishing-environment-ministry-modi-bjp-moef/story/1/17850.html
Rock Avalanche in Yumthang Valley in Sikkim David Petley blog about Sikkim landslide/ avalanche in 2015 in Yumthang valley, along a road corridor with Tibet (China), also involving a landslide dam: http://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2017/06/22/yumthang/
Substantial soil organic carbon retention along floodplains of mountain streams Small, snowmelt-dominated mountain streams have the potential to store substantial organic carbon in floodplain sediment because of high inputs of particulate organic matter, relatively lower temperatures compared with lowland regions, and potential for increased moisture conditions. This work quantifies mean soil organic carbon (OC) content along 24 study reaches in the Colorado Rocky Mountains using 660 soil samples. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016JF004004/full
Why the World’s Rivers Are Losing Sediment and Why It Matters Though some of the artificial options this suggests are hardly solutions, this comprehensive piece on importance of sediments to reach the deltas, estuaries, the coasts, the wetlands, the marshes and flood plains is GREAT. It also mentions how decommissioning helps. http://e360.yale.edu/features/why-the-worlds-rivers-are-losing-sediment-and-why-it-matters
Lower Colorado America’s Most Endangered River again: Advocacy organization American Rivers has been publishing a list of “America’s Most Endangered Rivers” annually for several years now, highlighting diverse threats that rivers face and their implications. The reports are significantly publicized and act as keystones to influence public decision making surrounding these rivers. This year, the Lower Colorado River Basin has been singled out as the “Most Endangered River”, major issue being water scarcity. The report also highlights what steps need to be taken to protect the Colorado, mainly wateruse curtailment by upstream states like Arizona.
California’s innovative Drought mitigation measures: After facing consecutive droughts, the state of California is making strides in non-conventional ways to ensure sustainability of the resource. Through waste water treatment, water recycling and constructed wetlands to treat wastewater at low cost.
Tonle Sap Lake Communities oppose Mekong Dam: Local communities in the Tonle Sap Lake region have appealed to the Laos government to immediately put on hold plans to construct the Pak Beng hydropower dam. The 912-megawatt dam on the Mekong mainstream will significantly alter the water flow in the Mekong region, which feeds into the Tonle Sap, according to environmentalists.
Demonstration reaches to restore native fish populations in Australia: Native fish populations in the Murray Darling Basin are currently at or below 10% of pre-European settlement levels. To tackle this, the Native Fish Strategy is an initiative aims to rehabilitate native fish populations across the basin to 60% by 2054 and to ensure sustainable fish populations and communities throughout the basin.
Associated actions include:
-removing barriers to fish passage;
-establishing environmental flows;
-improving water quality and riparian areas;
-reducing the impact of weeds;
-monitoring and evaluating river health;
-encouraging greater community empathy, education and -understanding; and
-strengthening community collaborations and ownership
Yarra River Protection Bill in Australia A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of an overarching policy and planning framework for the Yarra River, to establish the Birrarung Council, to provide for the declaration of the Greater Yarra Urban Parklands, to amend various Acts in relation to the management of the Yarra River and other Yarra River land and to make other consequential amendments and for other purposes has been passed in Australia. The Preamble of the Bill sums up the importance and legacy of Yarra. Some excerpts:
“The Yarra River is of great importance to Melbourne and Victoria. It is the intention of the Parliament that the Yarra River is kept alive and healthy for the benefit of future generations. This Act recognises the intrinsic connection of the traditional owners to the Yarra River and its Country and further recognises them as the custodians of the land and waterway which they call Birrarung. In the Woi-wurrung language of the traditional owners, Wilip-gin Birrarung murron means “keep the Birrarung alive”. The following statement is from the Woi-wurrung— We, the Woi-wurrung, the First People, and the Birrarung, belong to this Country. This Country, and the Birrarung are part of us. The Birrarung is alive, has a heart, a spirit and is part of our Dreaming. We have lived with and known the Birrarung since the beginning. We will always know the Birrarung. Bunjil, the great Eagle, the creator spirit, made the land, the sky, the sea, the rivers, flora and fauna, the lore. He made Kulin from the earth. Bunjil gave Waa, the crow, the responsibility of Protector. Bunjil’s brother, Palliyang, the Bat, created Bagarook, women, from the water. Since our beginning it has been known that we have an obligation to keep the Birrarung alive and healthy—for all generations to come.”
Hydro kinetic generators in Denever “Denver Water has launched an innovative new project that could be the future of hydropower. It uses city canal water to power hydrokinetic generators and create green energy without building a dam. “We’re trying to capture that energy and generate electricity with it,” explained Ian Oliver with Denver Water, who is overseeing the project. “It’s low impact. It doesn’t involve a reservoir or a dam.” http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/denver-waters-new-project-could-be-the-future-of-hydropower
More than half of world’s hydropower competes with Irrigation: Authors of first ever global assessment analyzing competition between Hydropower projects and irrigation facilities claim that 54% of global installed hydropower capacity – an amount totalling 507 Gigawatts (GW) – directly competes with irrigation.The researchers identified this competition as strongest in the central US, northern Europe, India, Central Asia and Oceania. In India, the fallouts of this are starkly seen in Himachal Pradesh where hydroprojects have caused a havoc with local irrigation schemes.
Small Hydro can have big impacts “Many farmers complain that they do not get any benefits from the water discharging from hydropower plants. In daytime, when they work in rice fields, they cannot receive water from hydropower reservoirs. The water only comes in the evening after they have gone home. Hong told local press that the national development strategy’s biggest blunder is the development of small-scale hydropower. The strategy has caused negative consequences to agricultural production.”
SANDRP (compiled by Parineeta Dandekar and Himanshu Thakkar – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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