DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 30 April 2018: Paani Foundation expands to 4000 villages in Maharashtra

Paani Foundation work in 4000 villages in Maharashtra Aamir Khan (Satyamev Jayate) and Kiran Rao’s Paani Foundation has been running inter-village competition for water related work each year since 2016. Directed by Satyajit Bhatkal, the competition in which no one loses out, as Aamir says, 116 villages in 3 talukas of Maharashtra participated in 2016. Next year, 30 taluksa and over 1300 villages participated and this year over 4000 villages from 75 talukas are participating. He also tries to involve Urban people through Chala Gaavi (almost 25000 people came) and this year on May 1 Jal Mitra Maha Shramdaan, with about 1.3 lakh volunteering.

ANY ONE HAS ANY INDEPENDENT THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS, INCLUDING OBSERVATIONS FROM GROUND about appropriateness, longevity, sustainability and equity? http://www.thehindu.com/society/aamir-khans-paani-foundations-water-conservation-efforts/article23696288.ece


Pancheshwar meeting decides to extend deadline for DPR to Dec 2018

  1. The governing body of Pancheshwar Development Authority (PDA), the developer of 4,800-megawatt Nepal-India Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP), started its sixth meeting in Kathmandu on April 23, 2018.

– Nepal and India have been at odds regarding the DPR since long. The Indian side has been laying claim to the water in lower Sharada dam, while Nepal has been demanding that it should get 50 per cent of the water based on the principles of equal-sharing. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s recent visit to India was expected to resolve the dispute. However, the issue was not discussed at that time.

– This is the sixth meeting of the governing body and the fourth meeting of energy secretaries of the two countries. The last meeting of the PDA governing body was held on December 22, 2016. Gurung informed that Anup Kumar Upadhyay, secretary at Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, and Ajay Kumar Bhalla, secretary at the Ministry of Power, India, will lead the secretary-level meeting. https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/meeting-of-pancheshwar-governing-body-kicks-off/

2. The PDA meeting on Thursday decided to direct a sub-committee formed earlier to settle the contentious issues of water allocation and power purchase to finalize the DPR of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project.

– Indian delegation led by Water Resources Secretary UP Singh arrived in Kathmandu to hold the key meeting with Nepali side led by secretary at Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation Dr Sanjay Sharma.

– Indian Embassy in Kathmandu said the meeting between the Indian and Nepali delegations had productive discussions. “Productive discussions held at the Sixth Meeting of the Governing Body of Pancheshwar Development Authority,” wrote the embassy on its official twitter account. http://www.myrepublica.com/news/40621/?categoryId=81

  1. The secretary-level meeting between Nepal and India has extended the deadline to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) of Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) to December.

– both nations have agreed to resume fresh negotiations to give life to 4,800-megawatt Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project

– the meeting also fixed a budget of Rs 360 million for this year. Although a budget of Rs 295 million was allocated to expedite the project works last year, only 20 per cent of the allotted fund was spent.

– The meeting also decided to extend the tenure of the ‘team of experts’ till September this year. The tenure of the team of experts had expired in September last year. Meanwhile, it was also decided that a meeting of the team of experts will be held in May this year. The meeting also directed the sub-committee that had been authorised to settle the contentious issues regarding water allocation and power purchase to speed up their works so that the DPR of the project could be finalised within the deadline. https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/high-level-meeting-extends-deadline-to-prepare-dpr-of-pancheshwar-to-dec/


DVC assures better Consultation before water releases Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) chairman P K Mukhopadhyay assured on April 26, 2018 that water will be released from Tenughat dam in Jharkhand, only after consultation with Damodar Valley River Regulation Committee (DVRRC), which looks after water discharge. Talks have already been held by DVC with the officials of the state Irrigation department and another meeting is scheduled to be held very soon, to ensure that Bengal is not inconvenienced by any means due to release of water from Tenughat dam in the monsoon season.

– “If we are informed some time before the release, then we can make arrangements to shift the people from vulnerable areas,” an official in the state Irrigation department said.

– It may be mentioned that DVRRC comprises of representatives of DVC, Central Water Commission and governments of Bengal and Jharkhand. “We usually provide updates on release of water from different dams to the committee every three hours,” a DVC official said. In July 2017, several areas of Bankura, West Midnapore and Hooghly were flooded due to alleged indiscriminate release of water by DVC. The situation had reached such a flashpoint that state Chief Secretary Malay De had to speak to his Jharkhand counterpart Raj Bala Verma and request her to maintain a check on the release of water. http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/water-to-be-released-from-tenughat-dam-only-after-green-signal-from-dvrrc-dvc-chief-296756


Protests against the Bursar dam in J&K The first major hydropower dam in J&K with a large storage on one of the eastern rivers of the Indus is generating controversy as rules are tweaked, and others ignored, igniting local protests. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2018/04/30/protests-against-the-bursar-dam-in-jk-gather-steam/

Kishanganga: Water continues to ooz out of soil Bandipura Continued heart breaking story of impacts of Kishanganga Hydropower project in Bandipore villages in J&K, what one affected old man calls the monster in the bills. NHPC is trying its best to pass the buck. Now it says all water has been removed from tunnel on April 20, but water seepage that destroyed the apple orchard refuses to stop. Thanks, Owais Farooqi for consistently writing on this. https://kashmirreader.com/2018/04/27/water-oozing-out-of-soil-in-bandipora-ever-since-kishanganga-trial-run/

PM to inaugurate Kishanganga in May 2018 INDIAN EXPRESS article on KISHANGANGA project in J&K provides a rather lop sides view of the project, though it agrees that it is more of a strategic rather than a commercial project, without questioning that.

– The cost of the project is already Rs 17.4 Crore per MW installed capacity, possibly the highest for a project of this size. It promises to generate 1713 million units (the article forgets the word million at some places!), but does not look at this claim critically. Considering the hydrology and need to release at least 9 cumecs water downstream, when inflow is 9 cumecs and above (100% of water to be released with inflow is below that figure) would mean generation would be much below that figure. And cost of power much higher than economic viability of selling the power even at cost price.

– It does not mention that key reason why the project was reconfigured and height reduced was local opposition.

– It underplays the huge impacts of the leakage from the power house and tunnel and the loss people have suffered.

– It describes as victory the PCA decisions in Feb ad Dec 2013, while in both decisions there were elements that is going to have impact on the project operation and performance.

– It of course does not mention how poor is the environment management and compliance issues.

– Good to see Prof Romshoo mentioning the possibility of Indo Pak Joint project and also how J&K is generating so much power, but cannot use that power since NHPC exports them all. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/long-objected-by-pakistan-kishanganga-hydro-electric-project-set-for-inauguration-by-pm-modi-next-month-5155452/



In India, the Group kept pushing the development of the hydroelectric concessions obtained in 2007 in the State of Arunachal Pradesh.

The team carried on field studies and investigations at site. The detailed tender design level topographical surveys of project components and internal project roads has been completed for Heo HEP and Tato-1 HEP intake site and roads during the year. Additional drilling required by CEA at Tato-1 trench weir has been completed in April 2017. The sedimentation studies and hydrological measurements have also been continued.

The land acquisition procedure, for which application was submitted in June 2016, is led by the local government. Progress was made during the year, although at a slow pace. The govt. appointed Social Impact Assessment unit has conducted onsite site surveys in September 2017. The SIA and Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) draft reports have been completed and submitted to the district administration in December 2017. The public hearings required by the regulations in order to discuss the SIA and the SIMP with the local public have been held successfully in all the 8 concerned villages on 23rd and 24th of January 2018. Such SIA & SIMP reports will be reviewed by the State Government to determine whether the concerned land is recommended for acquisition. Meanwhile, the District Administration will initiate the procedure to establish the land revenue registry and to collect the consent of at least 80% of the land owners. Considering most of the land is disputed between clans or within the same clans, the Group expects this procedure to be complicated. Administrative issues related to Land status are currently still the most sensitive and significant issues, which may slow down development of the projects, and their outcome cannot be predicted.

As per the current concession agreements, such process and land ownership disputes settlement are the responsibility of the licensing Government. The concession contract provides for an extension of the development period in case of any delay which is not the responsibility of the developer. Negotiations for, amongst other things, such an extension of the concession with the Government of Arunachal Pradesh have not made significant progress during the year.

The timely availability of appropriate road infrastructure is also an important issue that VELCAN has been attending throughout the year with the Central Government with some progress, although the scheduled dates of completion of the roads upgrade are still falling in 2022. The budgets for realizing the works allowing to prepone such date have been prepared by the Ministry of Defense, but they have not yet been sanctioned.

The Central Government has taken steps to revive and support the power sector, such as the UDAY scheme. The UDAY scheme has been launched in late 2015 and is now adhered to by most electricity distribution companies (DISCOMS, the 32 distribution companies which purchase electricity in bulk from generators and sell it to the final consumers). It aims at improving the financial health of the DISCOMS by refinancing their balance sheets, in exchange notably of efforts to improve the distribution grids and to increase their purchase of power. The Government is also discussing a possible new hydropower policy which, as per our knowledge, should entail financial incentives to generators, such as interests’ subsidies, and incentives to the DISCOMS for them to purchase hydropower. It appears such new policy, still under discussion, will be restricted for now to a list of designated hydropower projects to be commissioned within 5 years of the policy (meaning projects already under construction or ready to start immediately construction). VELCAN is following up closely the evolution of these frameworks, but the effects of the UDAY scheme on the hydropower PPAs market is yet to be seen. Despite these positive initiatives, as of December 2017, the commercial and financial market conditions are indeed not yet fulfilled for the sale of private hydropower, as the market remained constrained by both the still bad financial health of DISCOMS and the absence of proper regulatory framework allowing the sale of power through long term bankable PPAs.

Velcan remains convinced of the inherent competitive techno-economic features of its projects, such as their levellized tariffs and their low environmental impact, and the long term potential of the Indian power market. However, in view of the uncertainties of the implementation timeframe and the delays accumulated, the Company has decided to book a provision of Eur 2.2 Million (16%) on the intangible value of the Indian projects. A detailed status of each ongoing project activity is reported in the annual management report available on the company’s website.” https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/04/27/1489266/0/en/VELCAN-ANNUAL-RESULTS-2017.html

ADB funds for Tehri Beautification? So now Rs 1700 Cr ADB loan to be used for Tehri Beautification (wonder what it means), Highway Beautification and 24 hr water supply (at what environmental costs). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/armed-with-rs-1700-cr-from-adb-state-assures-24-hr-watersupply/articleshow/63886280.cms


Rs 5000 Cr on Micro Irrigation in Next two years So far 10.12 million hectares (mha) as against the estimated potential of 69.5 mha has been covered by MI scheme launched by the Centre 12 years back. The Centre had last year set a five-year target of bringing 10 mha under MI. Top officials of agriculture ministry will discuss the issue during the kharif campaign conference on April 25-26, 2018. “The ministry will also finalise its framework to operationalise the Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) for this purpose”, said an official.

The government has already earmarked Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 2,000 crore during 2018-19 and Rs 3,000 crore during 2019-20) as an initial corpus for the MIF. The dedicated fund is expected to encourage public and private investments in sprinkler and drip irrigation.

– This discussion will happen in the backdrop of many reports which talked about how many farmers continued with the MI system only till the time they got subsidies to put in place the necessary infrastructure. There were also reports that the farmers in certain areas sold equipments and pipes to others once done with subsidy disbursement and follow up inspection.

– Though many states have started programmes to encourage adoption of MI, Gujarat (1.65 lakh ha under MI), Andhra Pradesh (1.41 lakh ha), Karnataka (1.39 lakh ha), Maharashtra (1.06 lakh ha) and Telangana (61,980 ha) have made some good progress. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/government-to-pump-in-rs-5000-crore-in-next-two-years-to-increase-micro-irrigation-footprints/articleshow/63891405.cms


Gujarat for new bill on Groundwater To control and regulate usage of groundwater, the state government is in the final stage of drafting a legislation on the basis of a model Bill provided by Central Government’s Water Resources Department. This was stated by Narmada, Water Supply and Kalpsar Department in press note on April 23, 2018.

– Considering the details of the 1997 estimates, the Gujarat government had put control on lifting of groundwater in 57 talukas the department said, adding that after 2004, it was made mandatory to have Groundwater Authority’s permission to get electricity connection for drawing water through borewells for irrigation in those 57 talukas.

– The government said that in order to check deterioration of groundwater level, lifting of groundwater below 200 metres for any purpose other than drinking has been banned in Gandhinagar taluka as per the Central Groundwater Authority’s norm. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/govt-drafting-bill-to-check-depletion-of-groundwater-5149009/

Water Table in N Gujarat fell by 20 m a decade A recent study conducted by the West Central Region office of Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) reveals that on an average, since 1974, water tables in north and central Gujarat have been dropping at a rate close to 20m per decade.

– CGWB analyzed observation well readings of four distinct periods – 1958-62, 1961-62, 1970-71 and 1971-74 – to compare with the reading of 2017-18 to assess the depletion over the past 60 years. “Groundwater which was at shallow depth (maximum of 46.8 metres in Charasan in 1971-74) and even in free flowing condition in several places in Banaskantha, Mehsana and Patan districts from 1958 to 1974, have now reached down to a depth of 54 to 160 metres in Banaskantha, 81 to 168 metres in Mehsana and 83 to 146 metres in Patan districts,” said a senior CGWB official. Officials point at Pilwai where experts had reading of 17.75 metres below ground level (mbgl) in 1971-74 which went down to 165 mbgl in 2017-18, recording a decrease of 147.25 mbgl. Likewise, Mahi in Banaskantha has reported decrease of 140 mbgl and Sardhao in Gandhinagar has reported decrease of 137 mbgl. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/water-tables-in-state-fell-by-20m-each-decade/articleshow/63964801.cms


Punjab directs late sowing, late transplantation of paddy A notification from Punjab Agriculture Department has directed farmers to sow paddy only after May 20 (it was May 15 till last year) and transplant the paddy only after June 15 (June 10 last year). 73% of irrigated area in Punjab is irrigated by about 14 lakh tubewells that could pumped out about 24 million litres in those five days. The groundwater levels are falling by about 2.5 feet every year. Area under Paddy has gone upto 30 lakh Ha as in 2016. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/to-save-water-sowing-of-paddy-delayed/579295.html

Govt to revive springs in Himalayas The Union ministry of water resources and Central Ground Water Board are planning to hold a national workshop involving 12 states in the Indian Himalayan region to discuss issues related to the sustainable development of springs and strategies for their renovation, rejuvenation and augmentation.

– A spring is a point from where water flows out of aquifers or the body of permeable rock which contain groundwater and transmit it to the earth’s surface. The workshop will be followed by a study in selected areas to generate data. “The study will monitor spring discharge and spring water quality,’’ the water board’s chairperson KN Naik said.

– Naik said the board signed a pact with the Geological Survey of India’s state unit office in Dehradun for the study on the sustainability of springs in parts of the hill state’s Almora district in December last year.

– The NITI Aayog, constituted a working group in June 2017 on the “Inventory and Revival of Springs of Himalaya for Water Security”. The working group was set up to take a stock of the magnitude of the problem of drying springs, quality of their water and review the related policies across the Himalayan region. The report by the working group in December 2017 says there are five million springs across India and out of which nearly three million are in the Himalayan region alone, which is home to nearly 50 million people.

– Experts say the revival will primarily depend on the health of the catchment area of the springs. “Life in the mountains depend on springs. They are not just part of the heritage but the health of the rivers also depends on the health of the springs,’’ Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Rivers, Dams and People (SANDRP) said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-to-revive-drying-springs-in-himalayan-region-pilot-study-begins-in-dehradun/story-jyFQEphQ0v1SXyTocVTHcP.html

Ernakulam’s Jala Samriddhi Project for ponds Following the success of the project for the revival of 100 ponds in Ernakulam, the district administration has come up with another plan named Jalasamridhi aimed at digging 123 new ponds ahead of the monsoon. It’s Jointly implemented with the help of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNRES) and Haritha Keralam Mission. As part of MGNRES, 334 ponds will be dug at 65 grama panchayats in 12 blocks this fiscal. “Out of the total ponds planned, 123 will be completed before May 31 this year. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2018/apr/27/ernakulam-district-comes-up-with-jalasamridhi-project-to-dig-new-ponds-1806936.html

Gujarat’s water conservation drive has no checks? Gujarat government, under the water conservation drive from May 1, 2018 for a month, work will be given to private organisations but the government does not have any system to inspect the work they carry out. The government is going to pay NGOs and other organisations for dredging and desilting check dams, lakes and other water bodies, but no third-party inspection system has been set up.

– In 2002 and 2009, the government had initiated a similar drive, but almost all the bori-band dams collapsed in a few months. Irregularities in construction of check dams and dredging and desilting were also reported during the audit by agencies including the CAG. http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-gujarat-govt-s-water-conservation-mission-has-no-checks-in-place-2608762


Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary threatened by the Ken Betwa Link Photo from Trekearth.com

Another Claim of MP-UP agreement over Ken Betwa RLP This report claims that on April 23, MP and UP agreed on water sharing from Ken Betwa Project, but the language it uses seems to suggest that this is not the last we have heard of this. The language is rather insulting for the UP and the language of victory and loss can have no place on water sharing agreement.

– Madhya Pradesh has won the water war against Uttar Pradesh. For now. UP has finally given up its demand for ‘extra’ water from Ken River following a strong challenge by Madhya Pradesh. ACS Radheshyam Julania, who apparently had to cancel his London trip to attend Monday’s meeting in Delhi, put forth MP’s case strongly during discussions with UP officials on their demand for 900 MCM water from Ken during Rabi season. UP officials eventually settled for 700 MCM of water, as per the previous agreement, and that too depending on water level.

– “If the river does not touch full tank level, the quantity of water released to them will be reduced. Our priority would be to meet demands of farmers in MP and the leftover would be given to UP,” said an officer who was part of the meeting. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/mp-wins-ken-water-sharing-battle-with-up/articleshow/63917245.cms


Punjab has achieved highest ever wheat yield this year at 2.15 T per Acre or 5.375 T per Ha, breaking the earlier record of 2 T per acre in 2011-12. With area of 35 lakh ha under wheat in Punjab, this means production could go up to 18.8 M T this year, out of which 12.5-13 M T is expected to reach the mandis. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/state-s-wheat-yield-at-all-time-high/579443.html



Chhattisgarh’s questionable anicuts Rajim-Nawapara (Chhattisgarh) is a religious place where the Mahanadi, Sondur and Pairi rivers confluence. Gopal Nishad, a fisherman, is frustrated that there is hardly any fish left in the Mahanadi at Pitaibandh due to the lack of water. He is located near Rajim-Nawapara in Chhattisgarh, the proposed site for the fourth anicut on the Mahanadi. He reminisces the good old days when he used to catch plenty of fish from the Mahanadi. The flow of the river has been adversely affected by the three anicuts built around a 15-km radius of Rajim-Nawapara.

– The state government has been organising a kumbh mela here since 2006. As per the residents of Rajim, the anicuts have mainly been built to store water for the kumbh. Three anicuts within 15 km of Rajim-Nawapara make no sense scientifically. Local people have been opposing the Kumbh.

– The residents say that none of the objectives of anicuts was fulfilled. Instead of having an impact assessment of these existing three anicuts, the government have proposed to build one more anicut at Pitaibandh that will further hamper the basin and the livelihoods of people. The local people feel the need to decommission anicuts and ban festivals like kumbh mela on the river bank. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/anicuts-affect-mahanadis-flow


Kerala TN to meet on May 2 to discuss water sharing issues In view of the May Day, a meeting of officials of the Water Resources departments of the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) and Central Water Commission (CWC), called to discuss disputes between the neighbouring States, has been put off to May 2.

– Replying to a query, the sources said: “Mullaiperiyar is not on the agenda though it is a dispute between these two States.” Besides the review of the bilateral agreement over the Parambikulam Aliyar Project and other issues pertaining to State’s objection to a proposed dam across the Siruvani river near Attapadi, its request for supply of water from the Neyyar and a plea for allowing the State to undertake repairs in the Shenbagavalli Anicut are on the agenda. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/meet-with-kerala-on-water-disputes-put-off-by-a-day/article23688544.ece


SC on April 23 Supreme Court on April 23 asked Delhi and Haryana Chief Secretaries to sit with MoWR Secretary by Apr 27 and resolve differences. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/delhi-haryana-told-to-settle-yamuna-row/articleshow/63887505.cms


How climate change is KILLING farmers in Maharashtra Over the past 100 days, more than 250 farmers have committed suicide in the agrarian region of Marathwada alone. Why has it not been as widely reported as it should be?

– In February, we had devastating hailstorms and unseasonal rains in large swathes of Marathwada and Vidarbha, rupturing nearly 2 lakh hectares of farmland. The events reoccurred in March, and in the second week of April, rains lashed the regions for eight consecutive days, something that rarely happened before.

– There are several reasons behind farm suicides. But climate change that leads to erratic weather is often the last straw, for it causes tremendous damage to the crops in very little time. Flourishing farmlands are reduced to rubble by excessive rains, or acute droughts in a matter of days, or even minutes.

– Around the same time last year, similar hailstorms had hit substantial pockets of Maharashtra… A farmer (in Latur) cultivating pomegranates… had been on the verge of harvesting the crop when the weather suddenly changed. He lost pomegranates worth Rs 40 lakh, courtesy the hailstorm that lasted a mere 19 minutes. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/opinion/city-columns/kisan-log-a-troubling-forecast-for-maha-farmers/articleshow/63903622.cms


Gadkari for new Ganga Bill: “We are also coming up with the Ganga rejuvenation bill that addresses issues pertaining to uninterrupted flow and provides corresponding penalty provisions against pollution. I am hoping a majority of pollution because of sewage and industrial waste would be down substantially by next year. The states are being pushed and money is being made available.” https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/we-can-easily-get-rs-1-5-lakh-crore-by-monetising-100-national-highways-nitin-gadkari/articleshow/63886421.cms

HOW TO KILL A RIVER: NARMADA: EXCELLENT 4 PART ARTICLES BY GAYATRI JAYARAMAN IN HINDUSTAN TIMES Its so great to see Hindustan Times to carry this. We welcome it, and share some critical thoughts.

Part 1: Having halted awhile in its bowers,

which are enjoyed by the foresters’ wives,

and having become of lighter gait,

through the voiding of thy water,

and having traversed the path,

continuing from this (mountain)

you will see the Reva (Narmada)

parted into many streamlets

at the rock rugged foot of the Vindhya,

like streaks cut to adorn the bodies of elephants.

— Meghduta, Kalidasa (transl. Henry Aime Ouvry, 1868)

Except this amazing poetry, the part I of the article is a bit disappointing. Strangely, neither of first two parts go into detail the most destructive aspects of what has happened to the river of the last 30 years: the big dams of Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, the Sardar Sarovar, the perennially under construction Maheshwar, among others. And all the impacts that these and other dams, including Bargi closer to Amarkantak, have on the river in so many ways. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/politics-in-the-name-of-narmada-river-s-spirituality/story-1isWQ6TZ7ZWRobe9R1HyLJ.html

Part 2: Excellent: Part 2 of Narmada article series by Gayatri Jayaraman in Hindustan Times on April 24, 2018. Highlights.
– How did Amarkantak, a town once luck with perennial rivers, streams and tributaries, wetlands, even swamps, at an elevation of 1048 m come to be so dry as to now fear forest fires?
– The trajectory to poor river health has taken a turn in the last 5-6 years.
– By 2016, Prof Mukesh Katakwar noted: “The water quality of Narmada river may ot be in a position to sustain the aquatic life and not suitable for using for domestic purpose.”
– A fundamental change has been to the temperature of hte river according to a Jan 2017 study by Utpal Bhaumik of CIFRI. The main cause would appear to be the dams on the river and other development projects. They affected silt levels in the river.
– Even source is under stress. The Narmada, the Son, The Savitri, the Gayatri, the Kapildhara, The Arandi, the Amravati, The Vaitarni, the Surya Kund or Brahma Kund, the Johila River… Its an environment battle that groups here have been fighting for before the NGT, they have mapped all of these.
– The NGT has passed several orders, but most remains unimplemented.
– Here’s the open secret no one’s thought to factor in: governments don’t get to decide how much water the river has to give, the river does.


Part 3: Part 3 on the Narmada series by Gayatri Jayaraman, as the title says, is supposed to be about five sins, but the list excludes the elephant in the room: The Dams that are the biggest sins against the Narmada. The five sins she lists are: 1. Thoughtless Plantation; 2. Sand Mining; 3. Untreated Sewage Dumping; 4. Industrial Waste Dumping; 5. Ritual Dumping. Besides dams, it also does not include: encroachment, water diversion (say Narmada Kshipra Link), deforestation and general catchment degradation (should in fact second biggest sin after Dams), unsustainable groundwater exploitation and lack of environment flows, to name only key ones.

Even among the sins that the author lists, there are such gross errors. For example, it expands STP as Sustainability and Transformation Plans and NOT what it is: Sewage Treatment Plants. Moreover, this is listed under Industrial dumping, whereas it should be under Sewage dumping.

All this errors of omissions ad commissions not withstanding, it concludes that the CM is losing the optics battle… that is good, but may be it should have said that he is actually responsible for the destruction of the river. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/five-sins-snuffing-the-life-out-of-narmada/story-oyNX9JxDw03NBLQB4ozzII.html

Part 4: Part 4 (last) of Narmada series “HOW TO KILL A RIVER” by Gayatri Jayaraman focusses on fisheries, which is very welcome. The whole series, for its focus on a river (Narmada) and and how it is killed, is most welcome, thanks to both GJ and Hindustan Times. This is indeed so rare for any English newspaper.

This part starts with a sort of binary choice on issue of dams: “The approach towards dam-building on rivers… It is an ideological chasm between those who live off the river, and those who would harness it.”

THIS IS VERY PROBLEMATIC. Rivers have many roles to perform, which are not only environmental or ecological, social, cultural, religious, but also ECONOMIC. Secondly, damming is not the only way to use the water of the river… thirdly, it not only about those who live off the river, but so so many more…

But Thanks so much again for this series on HOW TO KILL A RIVER: NARMADA. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/dying-narmada-will-rob-fishermen-off-their-livelihoods/story-A2z6gfEcpo1lmxPsQ79n3I.html

Narmada is still a lifeline for millions in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh NBA on recent developments on Narmada. https://www.counterview.in/2018/04/narmada-is-still-lifeline-for-millions.html

NITI Aayog proposes Yamuna Authority NITI Aayog is proposing to set up a Yamuna river authority with a view to coordinating the work being done by various government departments for cleaning the river, its vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said.

– “There could be a situation and I am not exaggerating, that we could be in the next 15 years and so and completely bereft of water. We may face Cape town like situation. We will try and set up Yamuna River Authority which will combine work of different departments,” Kumar said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/niti-aayog-proposes-yamuna-authority-to-combine-river-cleaning-efforts/articleshow/63926105.cms


Pavana-Indrayani to meet the fate of Sabarmati? PCMC plans to implement the river development programme for Pavana and Indrayani rivers in Pimpri-Chinchwad on the lines of the Sabarmati river development programme in Gujarat. The civic body has allotted a tender to HCP Design Planning And Management firm, which has the experience of making the Sabarmati river development project report. To develop, a 18-km stretch of the Pavana river, PCMC will invest ₹2.70 crore and to develop a 16-km stretch of the Indrayani river, the PCMC will invest ₹1.78 crore. https://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/river-development-programme-gujarat-firm-which-brought-sabarmati-to-life-to-give-new-lease-of-life-to-pavana-indrayani/story-JjxBoNP1PXSKcA0kv8XPhK.html

Sabarmati RFD model in Jammu Sabarmati model river front development project is under construction since 2010 in Jammu with latest deadline of Dec 2018, earliest deadline was 2013. Rs 58 Cr has been spent so far. It includes a barrage on River Tawi, diversion of sewage nullahs. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jammu-kashmir/now-jammu-s-artificial-lake-gets-dec-deadline/580232.html

GANGA starts drying up in Varanasi DM has asked authorities to release water from Kanpur or Naraura barrage. Due to receding water pollution level is going up. This shows govt needs to emphasis on perennial flow and not just cleaning. https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2018/04/28/modi-promises-ganga-drying-varanasi.html, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_omh8-32bM

पांच नदियों का शहर, झेल रहा सूखे का कहर “सदानीरा नदियों के मामले में उत्तर प्रदेश का जौनपुर जनपद कभी अपने भाग्य पर इठलाया करता था। जिले की जीवनधारा को कल-कल करती पांच जीवनदायनी नदियों ने सहेजे रखा था। इस क्षेत्र की अनमोल धरोहर कही जाने वाली गोमती, सई, बसुही, वरुणा और पीली नदियां अब कहने को शेष हैं। किसी में रेत के टीले नजर आते हैं, तो किसी में कीचड़ और गाद। अभी गर्मी आई ही है और जिला सूखे की गहरी जद में है। पिछले कुछ वर्षो से हालात ये हैं कि खेती और गर्मियों के दिनों में जब पानी की एक-एक बूंद को इंसान तरस उठता है, ये पांचों नदियां सूख जाती हैं।” http://epaper.jagran.com/ePaperArticle/24-apr-2018-edition-Delhi-City-page_16-167-7166-4.html

INTACH & SANDRP discuss pathetic state of rivers http://www.sakaltimes.com/pune/intach-sandrp-discuss-pathetic-state-rivers-17345

PR on Conclusion on Pune Dialogue on Maharashtra’s Urban Rivers: India Urgently Needs Urban Water Policy: River Front Development Kills the Rivers https://sandrp.in/2018/04/25/india-urgently-needs-urban-water-policy-river-front-development-kills-the-rivers/


Bihar’s record Fish production This again talks about Bihar achieving high fish production in 2017-18, but also equalling the national average of 3 T ha of productivity. However, it does not say how this was achieved.

– At present, the state which boasts of 93,000 hectares of ponds, 9,000 hectares of oxbow lakes, 9.41 lakh hectares of chaur (low) land, which remain submerged in water for six to seven months a year, 26,000 hectares of reservoir and 3,200km of rivers. https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/bihar/fishing-cheer-for-bihar-225440

2000 Cauvery fisherfolks jobless 2000 fisherfolk families around Mettur reservoir on Cauvery river in Tamil Nadu are in dire state this as water level is down to 35.41 ft. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/poor-water-level-in-mettur-dam-renders-fishermen-jobless/article23641013.ece

Lost species of Ganges river shark thought to be extinct is seen for the first time in a decade…in a Mumbai FISH MARKET Critically endangered, elusive Gangetic Shark found in Mumbai Fish Market! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5637769/Lost-mysterious-species-Ganges-shark-seen-decade-Mumbai-FISH-MARKET.html

Cambodia Dolphins rebound The population of Irrawaddy Dolphins in Cambodia, that declined from 200 in 1997 to 80 in 2015 has increased to 92 in 2017, due to some conservation measures, but threats remain. https://phys.org/news/2018-04-threatened-cambodia-river-dolphins-historic.html


Govt to use EPC route to award waterways contracts The government is replicating the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) model of awarding highway contracts in waterways projects now. Companies like Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Adani and Afcons have evinced interest in bidding for waterway contracts ranging from establishing cargo terminals and jetties to dredging activity.

– Instead of a shore location, the IWAI will select and award water stretches like it’s in the case of highways. Typically, a 100-150km stretch will be given out as contracts after a bidding procedure.

– “We need a 3-metre depth (it allows 2,000-tonne vessel to pass), with 45-metre bottom width. We are targeting only 2,000-tonne vessel because achieving more than 3-metre depth is a very expensive proposition.”

– Earlier, it used to be BOQ (bill of quantities) in India – an itemised list of materials, parts, and labour (with their costs) required to construct, maintain, or repair a specific structure. Under those contracts it was difficult for the government to find out whether the contractor was doing the dredging work properly or not. Now under the EPC move, the project will be funded by the government and the contractor will have to meet certain set specifications and parameters.

– Work on multi-modal terminals in Varanasi, Haldia and Sahibganj terminals was in full swing and these were expected to be ready for operations by March 2022. The progress of work in Varanasi was 58 per cent, in Sahibganj it was 38 per cent, and in Haldia, the work had just begun.

– The Sahibganj navigational lock being built by L&T, Varanasi being built by Shapoorji Palloonji group company Afcons and Haldia terminal by ITD Cementation.

– Emphasising on the challenging task of river navigation, he said the rivers had their own morphology and they have their own hydraulics. For instance, the Ganga river on average is 1.5-2 km broad but in some stretches, it is 5 km broad.

– “But we cannot go meandering in the river, we do hydrographic surveys and we find the channel,” Pandey said, adding they were not disturbing the river bed. http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/govt-takes-epc-route-for-awarding-contracts-in-waterways-projects-118042301245_1.html


Punjab may allow heavy machines to excavate sand The Punjab government is considering to allow the use of heavy machinery — JCB and poclain machines — to excavate sand from riverbeds, quarries of which had already been allotted to contractors through bidding. There are 110 such quarries.

– In view of the prevailing shortage, the state government has invited suggestions from the district mining officers to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and allow the use of heavy machinery for excavation of sand from riverbed quarries above 62.5 ha.

– A Cabinet sub-committee is preparing a draft mining policy to regulate the industry and earn more revenue. The new policy would also focus on curbing illegal mining by imposing penalties. At present, a fine of Rs 60 per tonne is imposed on illegal mining, which will be increased to Rs 240 to Rs 300 per tonne. Similarly, a fine of Rs 10,000 is imposed on a tractor-trailer for transportation of illegally excavated sand, which will be increased to Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/state-may-allow-use-of-heavy-machines-to-excavate-sand/580775.html


Indian Monsoon Data Assimilation and Analysis A high resolution, long‐term regional reanalysis of Monsoon over the Indian subcontinent has been developed and is currently in production. This has been produced as part of the Indian Monsoon Data Assimilation and Analysis (IMDAA) project and is the outcome of a collaboration between the Met Office (MO), the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD). It will produce a consistent data set of high‐resolution fields for a wide range of atmospheric variables available from 1979 to 2016. This article introduces the IMDAA regional reanalysis, describes the forecast model, data assimilation method, and input data sets used to produce the reanalysis. The performance of the system from a pilot study run for 2008–2009 are presented indicating that the regional reanalysis is able to capture major monsoon features. https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/asl.808


Bagmati at Muzaffarpur Bihar 220418 (Source: Dainik Bhaskar)

Picture of Poverty along Bagmati river in Bihar? Bhaskar, Muzaffarpur, April 22, 2018: Such a deceptive photo! These people are searching for food, whole day, everyday, in the Baghmati river, searching for fish, crabs and other food items….

WHEN BOULDER MEETS HOUSE NEAR A DAM: Landslide near Peerah close to Chenab river, also VERY close to Baglihar Hydropower project in J&K on April 18, led to not only blockage of traffic for several hours, but also, as the video in Petley blog shows, destruction of houses when big boulders rolled down. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2018/04/24/boulder-meets-house/, http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/nh-blocked-for-5-hours/

Google map of location of Boulder Meets House near dam


How Kaikondrahalli Lake was rejuvenated in Bangalore Interesting to note: “Kaikondrahalli lake (covering 48 acres) on Sarjapur road in southeast Bengaluru to show the power of urban collective action, the importance of human leadership, and the effectiveness of partnering with government. I spent a couple of hours at the lake in the company of Priya Ramasubban, the force behind the transformation of Kaikondrahalli.” http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/bengaluru-lakes-water-pollution-ground-water-recharge-wastewater-management-bellandur-lake-5150448/

Rajkot lakes Municipal commissioner Banchha Nidhi Pani said, “We have Lalpari-Randarda lake in east zone on the same lines of which a natural lake in the west zone on Ring Road-2 will be deepened. A lake in Smart City area of Raiya will also be deepened to increase its water conservation capacity.” This work will be undertaken under public-private-partnership and nearly 40 earthmovers and excavators along with 80 tractors will be used in this activity. The 2.70 lakh sq m excavation will be done in the lake in Smart City area and it will be deepened by six metre. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/lakes-to-be-deepened-for-water-conservation/articleshow/63915320.cms


STPs in Rural Punjab: Invitation to disaster? This sounds pretty disastrous to say that even villages need STPs…. When almost nowhere are we able to ensure proper functioning of STPs, set up at huge expenses. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/poisoning-disaster-brewing-in-waters/577942.html

Debate about cleaning village ponds in Punjab The PPCB has directed the Dept of Panchayat and Rural Development to ensure the cleaning of 20 000 ponds in 12 000 villages, what has also been dumping zone of sewage from homes. The village people are against dumping the water and silt from the ponds to their farms. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/ppcb-orders-cleaning-of-ponds/579710.html



Bomb Explosion at Arun 3 office on April 29 A bomb exploded today at the office of a hydroelectricity project being developed with Indian assistance in eastern Nepal, an official said, weeks before its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The compound wall of the 900 MW Arun III Hydroelectric Power Plant’s office in Tumlingtar area, nearly 500 km from here, was damaged in the explosion, said Siva Raj Joshi, Chief District Officer of the Sankhuwasabha district. https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/blast-at-india-developed-hydroelectricity-project-in-nepal-weeks-before-inauguration-by-modi/1149665/

Oli-Modi to lay foundation stone for Arun III on May 11-12? Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are scheduled to jointly lay the foundation stone of the 900 MW Arun III hydropower project during the latter’s two-day state visit to Nepal beginning May 11.

– A plan to lay the foundation stone for the project worth Rs 104 billion during Prime Minister Oli’s visit to India was cancelled at the eleventh hour after differences emerged within the CPN-UML over inaugurating a project on Nepali territory from India. As per the suggestions of UML leaders, Prime Minister Oli had asked to remove the function from his agenda and proposed instead to do the inauguration from Kathmandu during Modi’s visit here. http://www.myrepublica.com/news/40583/?categoryId=81

SJVN to get Arun-3 generation License IBN’s 29th board meeting held on March 9 decided to direct its CEO to issue the licence to the Indian developer. Subsequently, IBN published a 35-day public notice stating its intent to award the licence to the Indian firm. As there was no claim or concern against the development of the project during the 35-day period, IBN obtained the authority to issue the generation license. SJVN applied for the generation license for the project around one and a half months ago.

– According to IBN, Nepal will receive Rs348 billion over 25 years from the scheme. The project developer will also provide 21.9 percent of the energy free of cost, which is worth Rs155 billion, plus another Rs107 billion in royalties, Rs 77 B Income Tax and Rs 9 B Customs/ VAT. http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-04-27/sjvn-to-get-arun-3-generation-licence.html


Indo-Bhutan Power related issues MOU about Kuri I Pending: The memorandum of understanding for the 1125MW Kuri-I or Dorjilung project would be signed at an occasion when leaders of all three countries – Bhutan, Bangladesh and India would meet, the economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji said. The three countries are yet to work on identifying such an occasion to sign the document for the first hydropower project that would be built through a trilateral cooperation. “To this effect, the draft MoU stands shared among the three countries and still being reviewed by respective authorities in finalising it,” he said. The draft MoU provides for establishing a steering committee to work out the implementation modalities for approval by the three Governments.

Cross Border Power Trade terms under review: But because of the cross border trade of electricity (CBTE) that the Indian government had issued on December 5, the project’s future was questioned. The government of India has formed a review team headed by the power secretary and that the team is currently working on revising the guidelines to address the Bhutanese concern, he said.

Agreement on Kholongchhu on hold: The concession agreement for Kholongchhu project is still on hold because of the issues with guidelines. http://www.kuenselonline.com/mou-for-kuri-i-yet-to-be-signed/


World Bank Urged to Schedule talks on Indus Treaty This week, the bank sent its envoy, Ian Solomon, to India to familiarise itself with the Indian position on this issue. Last week, Pak­istan’s Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail met Manag­ing Director of World Bank Kristalina Georgieva in Washington and urged her to help resolve the dispute.

– Mr Solomon, who was appointed a World Bank envoy in December 2016 for talks with both India and Pakistan on the water dispute, may also visit Islamabad soon. https://www.dawn.com/news/1403972

Pak approves FIRST National Water Policy Pakistan’s four provincial chief ministers unanimously approved the country’s first National Water Policy (NWP) at the 37th Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting as the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the meeting on April 24. http://www.arabnews.com/node/1292076/world


Goldman Prize Winner Nguy Thi Khanh: Catalyzing a Clean Energy Transformation in Vietnam As Vietnamese environmental activist Nguy Thi Khanh is honored with a Goldman Environmental Prize, IR reflects on her long and inspiring career. https://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/1121/goldman-prize-winner-nguy-thi-khanh-catalyzing-a-clean-energy-transformation-in-vietnam


US Dams, Rivers and People in 2017: There is so much to learn!: SANDRP yearly overview blog. https://sandrp.in/2018/04/27/us-dams-rivers-and-people-in-2017-there-is-so-much-to-learn/

Treated Sewage Brings to life a desert Rivers in US How a dry river, in a desert like Arizona started flowing with treated sewage! Re-use of treated wastewater is bringing sections of the Santa Cruz riverbed to life. “But the wastewater has brought life back to the Santa Cruz. In the last few years, new wastewater treatment plants have improved the water quality and now provide perennial flows over about 10 miles. The river now supports fish, insects, birds, trees and vegetation from Tucson’s west side north to Marana.” [Cooum, Chandrabhaga, Sabarmati managers, are you listening?] https://news.azpm.org/p/news-topical-nature/2018/4/9/126977-santa-cruz-river-restoration-brings-life-back-to-waterway/

Seasonal Extremes, S California, USA

In California, the once in 200 Year Flood can be the next once-in 50-year Flood: A study published in Nature Climate Change found that despite an overall small change in the state’s average yearly precipitation throughout the 20th century and in projections for the future, there may be huge and highly consequential changes in precipitation extremes within seasons, some of which have already begun to buffet the state. “In practical terms, this means that what is today considered to be the ‘200-year flood’—an event that would overwhelm the vast majority of California’s flood defenses and water infrastructure—will become the ’40-50 year flood’ in the coming decades,” lead author Daniel Swain, a climate researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles wrote. https://mashable.com/2018/04/23/california-more-extreme-drought-flood-precipitation-whiplash/

Massive Model of Mississippi River This takes visualising a river to a different level. The Louisiana State University’s Center for River Studies is home to the newly opened Lower Mississippi River Physical Model, a 10,000-square-foot (930-square-meter) reproduction of nearly 200 miles (320 kilometres) of the lower Mississippi from the town of Donaldsonville northwest of New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico. The model will help experts study one of the most important rivers in North America and how sediment from it can be used to fight coastal erosion.”When visitors walk into the second floor to look down onto the model, they can feel the moisture coming from the roughly 6,000 gallons (33,710 litres) of water floating on the model that replicate the river, the Gulf of Mexico and the various lakes and bayous along the coast. Tiny particles of plastic injected into the water mimic the sediment coursing through the Mississippi River. And they can raise the water level to replicate rising seas.

The new model, housed just a stone’s throw from the actual Mississippi River, is designed to help researchers answer such questions as: How does opening one diversion affect the river’s flow? How do the diversions affect the dredging done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? How do multiple diversions along the river affect each other?

“An image like this model tells the story in a way that is way more powerful than a slide show, than a numerical modeling,” said Justin R. Ehrenwerth, who heads the Water Institute of the Gulf, a Baton Rouge-based research organization that studies and helps coastal areas affected by problems like rising seas and subsidence.”

A model like this could be useful for India’s silt laden, flood  prone rivers like Kosi, Ganga, Brahmaputra, among others. https://weather.com/en-CA/canada/science/news/2018-04-17-mississippi-river-model

No time to waste in rebuilding Louisiana’s wetlands Mississippi Delta Erosion, holds true for Ganga-Brahmpautra/Krishna and Godavari deltas too “Time is not on our side. Solid scientific evidence indicates that we must both implement sediment diversions and limit climate change as soon as possible to maintain vital parts of coastal Louisiana.” http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2018/04/coastal_restoration_3.html


Review of fascinating Dams, Rivers related developments in American continent in 2017: SANDRP blog. https://sandrp.in/2018/04/28/review-of-fascinating-dams-rivers-related-developments-in-american-contient-in-2017/

GERD Impact in Egypt The authorities in Egypt are finally tackling widespread illegal growing of the water-intensive rice crop, showing a sense of urgency that even climate change and rapid population growth has failed to foster. The crackdown means Egypt will likely be a rice importer in 2019 (expected to import 1 million Tonne in 2019) after decades of being a major exporter, rice traders say. Cairo has decreed that 724,000 feddans (750,000 acres) of rice can be planted this year, which grain traders estimate is less than half of the 1.8 million feddans actually cultivated in 2017 – far in excess of the officially allotted 1.1 million feddans. Police have started raiding farmers’ homes and jailing them until they pay outstanding fines from years back. the government was doubling the fine for unauthorized rice cultivation to 7,600 pounds per feddan.

– Ethiopia and Egypt have not been able to agree on a comprehensive water-sharing arrangement despite years of negotiations. Ethiopia was not party to and does not recognize a 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan that gave Cairo the rights to the lion’s share of the river. For its part, Egypt refuses to sign on to a 2010 regional water-sharing initiative that takes away its power to veto projects that would alter allocations. Ethiopia says that its dam won’t affect the Nile’s flow once its 79 BCM reservoir is filled. The issue is over how fast that happens. Ethiopia wants to do it in 3 years; Egypt is aiming for 7-10, sources said. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-rice-insight/egypts-rice-farmers-see-rough-times-downstream-of-new-nile-mega-dam-idUSKBN1HU1O0

COMPILED BY SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com) 

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 16 April 2018 & DRP News Bulletin 23 April 2018

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sandrp.in; https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers

NOTE: Feature Photo above is from CIVIL SOCIETY magazine, June 2017 issue.

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