Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 22 October 2018: Looming Drought in Western India

(Feature image Gujarat state cumulative rainfall during SW monsoon 2018; Source: IMD)

Maharashtra State’s groundwater surveys and development agency (GSDA) has warned of a water scarcity in 11,487 villages of 167 tehsils in the State. In its 2018-19 report, the GSDA, which comes under the department of water supply and sanitation, has said the study of the groundwater level (in comparison to the level in October in the last five years) has shown that of the 353 tehsils in the State, 13,984 villages in 252 tehsils have shown a decrease by more than one metre.

Between October 15 and 21, 380 tankers were used across the State, against 91 tankers in the corresponding period last year. A week prior to that the number was 354, and 329 tankers were used in the first week of October.

Water storage in dams in Marathwada region has reduced to merely 24.45% compared to 69.77% last year, and that in north Maharashtra has dropped to 64.11% from 84.14%. Collective water storage in all dams across the State has come down to 62.17% against 76.32% in 2017. https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/as-groundwater-depletes-drought-looms-over-state/article25280470.ece  (21 Oct. 2018)

Water right activists are pressing for early release of water into Jayakwadi dam from upstream dams located in Nashik and Ahmednagar in order to minimize the transition losses as the canal system becomes completely dry by the end of October. As the region is staring at possible acute water scarcity, immediate steps have been sought for the desired release of water. The state WRD, in a meeting held on Oct. 15 has decided in favour of release of 6.07 TMC water into Jayakwadi from upstream dams.

It should be noted that it was last in October 2015 that the Godavari Marathwada Irrigation Development Corporation (GMIDC) had ordered the release of 12.84 TMC water for Jayakwadi project from upstream dams in line with the standing orders of the MWRRA.

As per official data, Aurangabad district is currently supplied with 160 water tankers in wake of deficient run of monsoon. The worst affected talukas include Gangapur (59), Vaijapur (48) and Paithan (42). Among other districts, Jalna (35), Nanded (2) and Beed (1) are also being supplied with tankers to address the issue of drinking water needs.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/activists-demand-early-release-of-water-from-upstream-dams-for-jayakwadi/articleshow/66269487.cms  (18 Oct. 2018)

Maharashtra has recorded a deficient rainfall of minus 22 per cent this monsoon. As per preliminary list, 201 blocks (179 blocks, claim some news reports) in 32 districts of the state seem affected by drought.

As per the South Asia Drought Monitor managed by Water & Climate Lab at the IIT Gandhinagar, as of October 17, several regions in the country have negative soil moisture index and heading towards short-term or long-term drought.

According to the live water storage data of Maharashtra Water Resources Department, as of October 19, large projects in Marathwada have only 26.38 per cent water. Last year, same time, they were 78.70 per cent full. Majalgaon and Manjara projects in Beed district have zero live water storage. Lack of adequate rainfall and low soil moisture content is expected to translate into additional pressure on the groundwater, which largely remains unregulated and mismanaged.

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(Cumulative rainfall map for Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Maharashtra: Source IMD)

Situation seems worrisome in Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkand, parts of Telangana and Chhattisgarh, and in the Northeast region, which have received deficient rainfall in the SW monsoon. The soil moisture index in these regions is also in the negative, thus signalling a possible onset of drought. As per the IMD rainfall data, at an all India level, the rainfall departure between June 1 and September 30 this year, is minus 9 per cent, which is ‘below normal’ monsoon rainfall. Of the total 36 meteorological subdivisions in the country, 23 received ‘normal’ rainfall, whereas 12 had ‘deficient’ rainfall.

Only Kerala, which faced unprecedented floods in mid-August, has recorded ‘excess’ rainfall this SW monsoon season. At the state-level, as against a ‘normal’ monsoon rainfall of 672.7mm, Gujarat received 484.6mm rainfall, thus ‘deficient’ rainfall of minus 28 per cent.

Bihar and Jharkhand have recorded ‘deficient’ rainfall of minus 25 per cent and minus 28 per cent, respectively. Bihar government has already declared 206 blocks in 23 districts drought-hit with immediate drought-relief worth Rs 1,500 crore. North interior Karnataka and Rayalaseema subdivisions are in ‘deficient’ rainfall category, too. In Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, rainfall departure is as high as minus 54 per cent and minus 32 per cent, respectively. https://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-staring-at-a-drought-year-2677402  (12 Oct. 2018) 


SANDRP Blog River Wise Rainfall in Monsoon 2018 India’s most important season from water point of view, the June-Sept South West Monsoon has just ended officially on Sept 30, 2018. India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported that India received 804 mm rainfall in these four months of monsoon 2018, compared to normal rainfall of 887.5 mm. So Monsoon 2018 rainfall was 9.4% below normal, also proving IMD forecast wrong. OVERVIEW OF RIVERBASIN WISE RAINFALL during Monsoon 2018. https://sandrp.in/2018/10/20/river-wise-rainfall-in-monsoon-2018/  (20 Oct. 2018)

SANDRP Blog Uttarakhand Monsoon 2018 Overview: Rainfall Normal, Distribution Abnormal Uttrakhand has received 3% below normal rainfall during South West Monsoon 2018. Though the figure falls in normal category, however district level rainfall data paints a very different picture.Out of total 13 districts in the Himalayan state, four districts namely Almora, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal and Udham Singh Nagar have received deficit rains, whereas three districts which includes Bageshwar, Chamoli and Haridwar have got rainfall in excess. https://sandrp.in/2018/10/18/uttarakhand-monsoon-2018-overview-rainfall-normal-distribution-abnormal/  (18 Oct. 2018)

South India North East Monsoon to arrive in India in next two days: IMD The Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) forecast that over the next 48 hours, the South-West Monsoon will withdraw from the country, thereby making the conditions favourable for the onset of North-East monsoon.

According to reports, while most parts of Tamil Nadu have started receiving heavy to very heavy rainfall, Chennai has remained dry till Friday. The rains in Chennai on Oct. 19 morning and a cloudy morning on Oct. 20 indicated the onset of the North-East monsoon.

In 2017, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry together received an average rainfall of 401.00 mm of rainfall during the North-East monsoon period. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/north-east-monsoon-arrive-india-next-two-days-says-imd-90263  (20 Oct. 2018)

FLOOD 2018

Tamil Nadu People living along Vaigai banks moved as all dams fill up amid flood threat Even as a third flood warning was issued in the five southern districts of Theni, Madurai, Dindigul, Virudhunagar and Sivaganga, people living along the banks of the Vaigai river in Theni and Madurai districts were evacuated and shifted to higher and safer ground.

Due to heavy rain in the catchment area, the water in the Mullaiperiyar reservoir reached 134 feet on Oct. 21 against the allowed storage capacity of 142 feet. The levels of the dams and check dams in Theni district also increased due to the outflow from Periyar and Vaigai dams.

Further, flood alerts were given to the people near the shores of Thamirabharani (Kuzhithurai) river as the inflow to Pechuparai, Perunchani, and Chittar dams had increased significantly due to rains in Kanniyakumari.  http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2018/oct/22/people-living-along-vaigai-banks-moved-as-all-dams-fill-up-amid-flood-threat-1888319.html  (22 Oct. 2018)

Earlier in the week, water was to be released from Vaigai dam for the second time in two months as water level goes up to 66 ft (FRL 71 ft). https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/water-level-in-vaigai-dam-rising-fast-theni/article25220742.ece  (14 Oct. 2018)

Water from Sothuparai dam released Water from Sothuparai dam on Varaha river was released for irrigation of first crop and to cater to the drinking water needs of Periyakulam municipality on Oct. 15: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/water-from-sothuparai-dam-released-for-irrigation/article25232599.ece  (16 Oct. 2018)


Agenda for EAC meeting for River Valley Projects of MoEF, to be held on Oct 20118:

  1. Kosi-Mechi Intrastate Link Project (Construction of canal (76.20 km) on the existing barrage beyond existing Eastern Kosi Main Canal (41.30 km) for irrigation purpose under Kosi-Mechi Intrastate Link Project in the State of Bihar. Discussion on the site visit of the Sub-committee.
  2. Cummulative Impact Assessment and Carrying Capacity of Studies (CIA and CCS) of Beas river basin- Reconsideration of the studies on final draft report.
  3. Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) at Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan by M/s ACE WR Zone Jaipur, Rajasthan- reg. Fresh ToR
  4. Sita Rama Lift Irrigation Project (Phase I) in Bhadradri Khammam district of Telangana by Irrigation and CAD Department, Government of Telangana-reg. fresh EC
  5. Majhgaon Medium Irrigation project (CCA: 9,000 ha), Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, Water Resource Department, Madhya Pradesh – reg reconsideration for EC
  6. Tel Integrated Multipurpose Project at Nabarangpur, Orissa by M/s Executive Engineer Kalahandi Investigation Division- reg. Fresh ToR
  7. Sunni Dam HEP 1355 MW) project in Mandi & Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh by Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited-reg. Amendment of ToR.
  8. Pārbati (Rinsi) Major Project at Village- Fatehpur , Gram Panchyat- Fatehpur, Tehsil- Narsinghgarh, District Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh by M/s Water

Resources Department Government of M.P- reg. Amendment of ToR http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/16102018QYZUFO6R19th_EAC_Agenda(1).pdf?fbclid=IwAR2sLCIUqpPpkFTggq9Zj69VyqfZfRU3B3GlsB1nnX7DSfh33ncFQt5gFEI 

Also see, minutes of MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee meeting for River Valley Projects on Sept 27, 2018 has some SHOCKING decisions:

  1. Renuka Dam: The land requirement, including forest land requirement goes up by 34.55%. As per EIA notification, this should have necessitated fresh EIA, fresh Public Hearings, fresh EMP, fresh appraisal and EC. But EAC, going far beyond its mandate, agrees to just make change in the EC!!
  2. Morand Gunjal Major Irrigation Project in Madhya Pradesh: Notification says that FC stage I has to be submitted within stipulated time. Project could not do that even with extended extended deadline. Now EAC, again, going beyond its legal mandate gives them unlimited time!
  3. OK to NEW Mullaperiyar Dam and Myntdu Leshka II project, for TOR.
  4. Defers decisions about Beas Basin Study and Ashti LIS III. http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/151020181PLX4G0Q18thEACMoM.pdf?

Himachal Pradesh Kinnaur residents oppose Kashang power project Lippa Villagers in Kinnaur are protesting against HP Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) for starting construction work on 130 MW Kashang Stage II and III power project. The villagers reportedly were facing tremendous pressure from HPPCL to allow them to start construction work on the power project. https://www.thestatesman.com/cities/kinnaur-residents-oppose-kashang-power-project-1502697482.html  (17 Oct. 2018)


SANDRP Blog Landslide DAM on Tsangpo creates flood disaster risk for Siang A massive dam, created by landslide in early hours (around 5 am) of Oct 17,2018 has blocked the main stream of Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet. The reservoir behind the dam already has humungous 360 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) of water by 7 am on Oct 18, 2018 and as per latest reports, the reservoir is still growing in size. The exact location of the landslide dam is uncertain. It could soon breach, and when it does, it can bring disastrous floods along Siang in Arunachal Pradesh and further downstream. Are we ready to cope with this? PLZ READ AND SHARE.  https://sandrp.in/2018/10/19/landslide-dam-on-tsangpo-creates-flood-disaster-risk-for-siang/  (19 Oct. 2018)

As per latest report, water overflowing from the landslip-induced barrier across the river upstream in China has eased within 14 hours. Beijing had reportedly informed New Delhi that the natural overflow from the barrier in Yaluzangbu (Tsangpo) occurred at 2.30 p.m. on Oct. 19 and the discharge was 18,000 cubic metres per second. The barrier was formed soon after a landslip at Jiala village in Milin county of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China on October 17.  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/water-flow-eases-in-arunachals-siang/article25276384.ece  (21 Oct. 2018)

Maharashtra Irrigation Scam Govt again ducks query on role of Ajit Pawar: irri scam Continued dilly dallying by Mah Govt in doing proper probe into irrigation scam. http://thehitavada.com/Encyc/2018/10/17/Govt-again-ducks-query-on-role-of-Ajit-Pawar–irri-scam.aspx  (17 Oct. 2018)

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Oct. 16 directed the State Government to spell out in clear terms the role of NCP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in multi-crore irrigation scam. “Clear it within four weeks whether Ajit Pawar is prima facie guilty or not in irrigation scam,” the High Court ordered the State Government. The court also directed the government to complete the probe into pending issues within the four weeks. https://www.nagpurtoday.in/irrigation-scam-hc-poser-to-state-govt-to-clearly-spell-out-role-of-ajit-pawar-within-4-weeks/10171515  (17 Oct. 2018)


Ken Betwa Interlinking Interview of Himanshu Thakkar on Ken Betwa link The Ken-Betwa project is a river inter-linking project between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Although this project is supposed to help drought-affected people, environmental activists have raised serious concerns about the ecological impact it will have.


This is an in-depth interview with Himanshu Thakkar, the Coordinator for the SANDRP to find out more about the environmental fallout and discover what the future of the region could look like.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaWkPOP0HIA  (2 Augt. 2018)

Also see the excellent report on Ken Betwa River Link proposal and why better alternatives exist, are viable, cheaper and faster. https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/10/15/ken-to-betwa-the-link-that-destroys/  (15 Oct. 2018)


Krishna River Water Disputes KRMB decides on water distribution – The Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) on Oct. 16 announced that, according to the availability of water (200 TMC), it would be distributed in the ratio of 66:34 (AP: TS) for the current year.

– The KRMB noted that in the current year, Krishna received a total of 593 TMC water. So far, AP utilised 253 TMC and Telangana 88 TMC with the remaining balance being 252 TMC. Considering the MDDL (Minimum Drawdown Level), officials could release another 200 TMC to both States this year.

– According to sources, during the meeting, the TS delegation lodged a complaint with the Chairman that AP had drawn more water than it was allowed from Pothireddpadu project. Later, the AP delegation alleged that TS was drawing water through power discharges at Srisailam. AP officials demanded that the TS stop power generation at Srisailam altogether. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2018/oct/17/krishna-river-management-board-decides-on-water-distribution-1886555.html  (17 Oct. 2018)


Andhra Pradesh Water released from Mylavaram dam Marketing Minister C Adinarayana Reddy has released water from Mylavaram reservoir to river Penna on Oct. 17.  He mentioned that it is proposed to release 1,500 cusecs of water per day for six days from Mylavaram dam.  Minister said 4.75 tmcft of water is available in the reservoir. As the people of several villages facing drinking water shortage, Adinarayana stated the government took a decision to release water through irrigation canals. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-10-18/Water-released-from-Mylavaram-dam/426939  (18 Oct. 2018)




– The Musi Riverfront, which was developed on the lines of the River Thames in London during the Nizam era, is currently a dumping ground for refuse due to lack of monitoring and negligence of the municipal and urban development authorities.

– The study of the pollution of rivers in the country showed a dangerous concentration of antibiotics waste in the Musi River — 1,000 times higher than found in rivers in developed countries. About 12 lakh metric tonnes of waste material has also been dumped in the river.

– Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi, an independent policy expert who had moved the NGT seeking protection of the Musi River along with Dr Tudi Indrasena Reddy, a chemical engineer, said that due to lack of prevention measures, waste material is being dumped in Chaderghat, Wahednagar, Durganagar, Chaderghat bridge, Shivajinagar, behind Darbar Maisamma temple, Teegalaguda and Moosarambagh, Jiyaguda Kabela, Nagole bridge and Devendernagar and Parvathpur.

– Mr Donthi said that thanks to the indolence of government authorities, building debris is being dumped in the river. Roads, houses, and a parking lot have come up in the river bed abutting the Hyderabad Metro Rail station at Chaderghat.

– He said that in 1999, the state government had approved the ‘Genome Valley’ project, which led to more than 100 biotech companies springing up on the outskirts of the city and these companies have been violating pollution control rules and releasing untreated effluents directly into Hyderabad’s water bodies, from the Musi river to the Hussainsagar. The state pollution control board has itself admitted that the companies do this at night to avoid detection, but have done nothing to stop it.

– According to Dr Tudi Reddy, the construction of the Outer Ring Road blocked many canals, streams and water flow avenues which were part of the catchment of the river Musi, further harming the river.

– Dr Indrasena Reddy, who is convenor of Save Rivers said that the construction of the Metro station, development corridors, and sky roads for 40 km by the Telangana state authorities inside and on the floodplain of the Musi is clearly aimed at regulation, diversion and restriction of the flow of the river.

– Pollution resulting from linking of sewer lines and industrial drains has also caused the death of the Musi in the city of Hyderabad. Villagers on the outskirts of Hyderabad use the polluted Musi water for agriculture and animals consume the polluted water, which means the pollution has entered the food chain.

– The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority had developed a Master Plan in 2011, which was subsequently approved and implemented, but it did not include the river zone, river conservation zone and river basin, says Narasimha Reddy who is involved in the protection of the Musi river.

– He said the plan will have a negative impact on the Musi, land use classification, and basin contours as it covers more than 800 villages in 35 mandals in four districts (all falling under Musi river basin), and livelihoods of more than five lakh families. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/161018/musi-the-river-thames-of-india-turns-deadly.html  (16 Oct. 2018)

Urban Rivers Adyar; Chennai Anecdotes from 3 generations of rowers on Adyar Rowers lament the sorry state of Adyar River: http://chennai.citizenmatters.in/for-the-love-of-rowing-6949  (16 Oct. 2018)

National India’s polluted stretches along rivers rise from 302 to 351 in two years The number of critically polluted stretches of the country’s rivers has increased to 351 from 302 two years ago, and the number of critically polluted stretches has gone up to 45 from 34, according to a recent assessment, released by the CPCB. The report analyses the water quality data under national water quality monitoring programme for the years 2016 and 2017. https://www.counterview.in/2018/10/indias-polluted-stretches-along-rivers.html  (20 Oct. 2018)    


SANDRP Guest Blog HOW MODI GOVERNMENT WENT HORRIBLY WRONG ON GANGA REJUVENATION by Manoj Misra Allowing Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand (formerly Prof. GD Agarwal) to die unheard is perhaps the most tragic but not the only serious faux pas committed by Prime Minister Modi and his team in the matter of Ganga rejuvenation.

It was actually the culmination of a series of missteps that began early in his tenure. It can reasonably be presumed that candidate Modi was sincere and serious when he made those famous statements at Varanasi during his campaign (and even later) regarding Ganga rejuvenation. https://sandrp.in/2018/10/16/how-modi-government-went-horribly-wrong-on-ganga-rejuvenation/  (16 Oct. 2018)

Also see, CNBC 18 discussion on Ganga, ‘Namami Gange’ and Swami Sanand death:  

The INDIA TODAY (latest issue dated Oct 29, 2018) also carries article by Himanshu Thakkar on Ganga and death of Prof G D Agarwal.  https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/up-front/story/20181029-a-river-betrayed-1371127-2018-10-19  (19 Oct. 2018)

SCIENCE magazine on GD Agarawal’s death and state of Ganga: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/10/indian-scientist-dies-after-gandhi-style-hunger-strike-save-ganges-river  (16 Oct. 2018)

मृत बताने से पूर्व स्वामी सानन्द जी का वीडियो “दिनांक 11 oct 2018 को ऐम्स ऋषिकेश में डॉक्टरों द्वारा  मृत बताने से पूर्व स्वामी सानन्द जी का दिया गया बुलंद आवाज़ में बयान, क्या ये संभव है कि इतनी बुलंद आवाज़ वाले आदमी की अगले कुछ मिनट में मर जाये। ये साफ हत्या है।”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDqN0scB7yg  (12 Oct. 2018)

Indeed, the Modi govt’s indifference to Agrawal’s fast is symptomatic of its callous disregard for the Himalaya and the rivers that flow out of the mountains. https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/death-by-the-ganga/cid/1672250  (22 Oct. 2018)

Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Oct. 21 said that the govt is looking to complete about 200 projects for ghats and crematoria by March 2019. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/nirmal-ganga-govt-plans-to-finish-200-projs-for-ghats-crematoria-by-mar-2019-says-gadkari-5411234/  (21 Oct. 2018)

However, the response to an RTI filed by The Wire provides some answers. The Ganga has not become any cleaner under the Modi govt.  In fact, the river’s contamination levels have increased at many places since 2013, even though Rs 5,523 crore was released for cleaning the Ganga between 2014 and June 2018. Of the funds released, Rs 3,867 crore has already been spent. https://thewire.in/environment/ganga-pollution-narendra-modi-increased  (20 Oct. 2018)

YAMUNA, Uttar Pradesh Yamuna cleanup delayed sans NOCs from 5 departments UP Govt. 460 crore Yamuna River cleaning plan between Mathura and Agra stretch has been delayed by various govt departments: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/yamuna-cleaning-work-delayed-as-5-depts-yet-to-give-nocs/articleshow/66207390.cms  (15 Oct. 2018)

Delhi After fanfare, Yamuna resembles decaying waste field On Oct. 19 hundreds of Durga idols were immersed in the river, covered in toxic dyes and paints, and with their full decorations. Some idols were made entirely of plaster of Paris (PoP), with very few officers around to enforce the ban on it. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/after-friday-fanfare-yamuna-resembles-decaying-waste-field/articleshow/66298647.cms  (21 Oct. 2018)

More than 650 idols of Goddess Durga were supposed to be immerged to the waters of the Yamuna on Oct. 19. A fraction of them will be immersed in two ponds specially dug for the event in south Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/over-650-idols-may-end-up-in-dying-yamuna/articleshow/66278769.cms  (19 Oct. 2018)

Despite the ban in place by NGT on immersion of idols made of non-biodegradable material like Plaster of Paris, or plastic in the river, this year — like many before — was no different, sadly. https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/after-durga-puja-idol-immersions-this-is-how-horrible-the-river-yamuna-looks-like-in-new-delhi-355176.html  (21 Oct. 2018)

On paper, both NGT and CPCB have guidelines for proper disposal of idols in the Yamuna. But their execution has been lacking over the years and the Yamuna continues to choke with heavy metals and pollutants every year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/dpcc-to-submit-yamuna-report-in-15-days/articleshow/66289005.cms  (20 Oct. 2018)


Ganga Dolphins count rises to 33, up from 22 in 2015 The WWF along with the Uttar Pradesh forest department recently held a survey of Ganga River Dolphins and found that the dolphin population has increased from 22 in 2015 to 33 in 2018. The survey under the ‘My Ganga, My Dolphin’ programme was conducted from October 10-15 over a stretch of nearly 205km, spanning Bijnor barrage to Narora barrage along the river. https://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/ganga-river-dolphins-count-rises-to-33-up-from-22-in-2015/story-7PHtZKeVh8q3gyGdQi1IOP.html  (18 Oct. 2018)


Madhya Pradesh Illegal sand mining is never an election issue This throws some light on the issue of illegal sand mining in Narmada, Chambal, Ken, Betwa, Sindh, Son, Tapti Rivers in Madhya Pradesh. The bottom line is same illegal sand mining business is being owned and controlled by politicians of both parties BJP and Congress. True for villagers its source of livelihood, but it can’t go in unsustainable & unrestricted manner damaging rivers ecosystem & dependent aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/a-mine-of-votes-why-illegal-sand-mining-is-never-an-election-issue/articleshow/66271579.cms   (18 Oct. 2018)

Gujarat Sand mining is threatening structures on Narmada Canal Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) plans to build a weir on Orsang riverbed in Alhadpura village near aquaduct of Narmada Canal near Bodeli to protect it from erosion due to unsustainable sand mining. The move had come after the depth of the riverbed had increased, exposing the foundation piles of the pillars of Aquaduct, built in 2001. SSNNL had earlier this year written to Bodeli collector, asking that all sand mining leases in 5 km radius of the structure be cancelled. Sand mining leases have been cancelled, but the depth has further increased due to flood flows in monsoon. Soil filling is planned as a short term measure. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/ssnnl-to-make-weir-to-protect-aqueduct-of-canal/articleshow/66298754.cms  (21 Oct. 2018)

Punjab Govt. approves new sand, gravel mining policy The Punjab government on Oct. 17 approved policy changes to enable the government to grant contracts by auction of mining blocks in strategically established clusters through progressive bidding instead of the earlier process of auction by individual mines. The move is aimed at increasing the royalty receipt of the State exchequer, provide adequate supply at fair price to the consumer, and curb illegal mining.

Notably, during 2017-18, four e-auctions of minor mineral mines were held. Due to speculative bidding in these auctions, it resulted in a significant number of mines being auctioned at very high prices. However, many of the contractors failed to operationalise these mines, which led to dearth of supply of sand and gravel, causing the market price of these commodities to remain high. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-govt-approves-new-sand-gravel-mining-policy/article25252582.ece  (17 Oct. 2018)


Bihar Wetlands are on a ventilator, but there is still hope from the ground Situated in Begusarai district of north Bihar, around 125 kilometers from the state capital Patna, the Kanwar Lake (which has the distinction of being Asia’s largest oxbow lake) Bird Sanctuary best summarises the fate of the wetlands in the state, which are in bad state thanks to excessive encroachments, coupled with the apathy of the administration that is yet to take the issue of dying wetlands seriously.” It has shrunk rapidly post 2000. An extensive study by Ashok Ghosh, a scientist and incumbent chairman of the Bihar State Pollution Control Board has found that the lake covered 6,786 hectares in 1984, which reduced to 6,043.825 hectares in 2004. By 2012, the lake was a mere 2,032 hectares in area. https://india.mongabay.com/2018/10/18/bihars-wetlands-are-on-a-ventilator-but-there-is-still-hope-from-the-ground/  (18 Oct. 2018)

Himachal Pradesh Dharamshala’s Dal Lake dries up again Located 1,775 metre above sea level amid thick cedar forest, the lake that once had crystal clear water is dying a slow death. The lake has gradually lost its water storage capacity due to rapid silting and continuous seepage. This has further affected the flora and fauna in the catchment areas.

The problem of silting and seepage first appeared in mid-2000s. The local administration started desilting and restoration work in 2008 but it instead aggravated the problem as the lake completely dried up. Later, a restoration project worth Rs 70 lakh was approved to plug the leakage and carry out desilting. Till now, an estimated amount of Rs 40 lakh have been spent on renovation, but all the efforts to restore the lake have gone waste. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/as-winter-sets-in-dharamshala-s-dal-lake-dries-up-again/story-eG1Ku3jsKusXpcr9gpBPcJ.html  (19 Oct. 2018)  


Gujarat Khodiyar Mata: The goddess rules a stepwell FASCINATING legend: “Khodiyar Mata is truly the mata of water structures. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/khodiyar-mata-the-goddess-rules-a-stepwell/articleshow/66209330.cms  (15 Oct. 2018)


Maharashtra Groundwater Act: Expert panel formed to review over 4,000 suggestions, objections Expert committee has been constituted to look into suggestions and objections and study the feedbacks submitted for the proposed Act by the public.

– A total of 4,100 suggestions and objections have been received and a committee, led by I I Shah, additional director, Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA), will review each of these during the next two months.

– The other team members of the committee include a deputy collector, deputy secretary and a team of geologists from GSDA.  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/proposed-maharashtra-groundwater-act-expert-panel-formed-to-review-over-4000-suggestions-objections-5405543/  (17 Oct. 2018)


Tamil Nadu Chennai may face water crisis as private tankers go on indefinite strike Chennai may face water crisis in the coming days as owners of private water tankers have announced an indefinite strike in protest against the restrictions on groundwater extraction as well as the closure of borewells in Poonamallee. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/chennai-may-face-water-crisis-as-private-tankers-go-on-indefinite-strike-3051151.html  (16 Oct. 2018)

As per latest reports, the unexpected, manmade water crisis that was experienced by those in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts since Oct. 15 has come to an end, with members of the Private Tanker Operators Association agreeing to a truce on Oct. 17 with Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/chennai-water-crisis-averted-private-tanker-packaged-drinking-water-strike-called-90148  (18 Oct. 2018)


Study Understanding the Electricity, Water and Agriculture Linkages This discussion paper from PRAYAS in two volumes brings out the linkages between electricity, water and agriculture sectors. It also highlights the need to take these linkages into consideration when planning agricultural electricity supply. Volume 1 of the paper focuses on an overview of the linkages and Volume 2 provides a detailed analysis of the electricity sector related issues of the linkage.

It is our hope that this discussion paper would catalyse a healthy discussion among actors in electricity, water and agriculture sectors, towards a better understanding of the challenges and evolving sustainable solutions. http://prayaspune.org/peg/publications/item/395-understanding-the-electricity-water-and-agriculture-linkages.html  (Sept. 2018)


Laos Water Experts Question World Bank’s Role in Dam A panel of water experts have warned that the World Bank’s promotion of a major dam in Laos, which they say failed to deliver on basic promises, has fueled the country’s development of shoddy hydropower projects with catastrophic consequences. https://www.voanews.com/a/water-experts-question-world-bank-s-role-in-laos-dam/4620467.html  (19 Oct. 2018)

Indonesia China-Backed Hydro Dam Threatens World’s Rarest Orangutan The site of the 510 MW, USD 1.6 Billion dam in the Batang Toru rainforest on Sumatra island is the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, a newly discovered species that numbers about 800 individuals in total. World Bank backed out, Chinese state owned company is supporting it. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/china-backed-hydro-dam-in-indonesia-threatens-worlds-rarest-orangutan-1935092  (21 Oct. 2018)

The water system that helped Angkor rise may have also brought its fall Intense monsoon rains bracketed by decades of drought in the 1400s set off a chain reaction of failures in Angkor’s interconnected water network, computer simulations indicate. The climate-induced crumbling of the system — used for irrigation, drinking water and flood control — hastened Angkor’s demise, scientists conclude online October 17 in Science Advances. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/water-system-helped-angkor-rise-may-have-also-brought-its-fall  (17 Oct. 2018)

Singapore Water company Hyflux secures $380m Indonesia bailout Struggling Singapore water supplier Hyflux has secured a capital injection from Indonesian conglomerates Salim Group and Medco Group, which said they will provide 530 million Singapore dollars ($384 million) to the debt-laden company. The deal comes as Hyflux — a local startup that has grown to provide 30% of Singapore’s daily water needs, reducing reliance on Malaysia — is nearing the end of a six-month reprieve from creditors during which it has tried to cut roughly SG$3 billion in debt.  https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Deals/Singapore-water-company-Hyflux-secures-380m-Indonesia-bailout  (19 Oct. 2018)

Iraq Water pollution in threatens Mandaean religious rites Iraq’s soaring water pollution is threatening the religious rites of its tight-knit Mandaean community, already devastated by 15 years of war that has also affected the country’s other minority sects. Mandaeism follows the teachings of John the Baptist, a saint in both the Christian and Islamic traditions, and its rites revolve around water.  But unlike in ancient times, the storied river that runs through Baghdad is fouled by untreated sewage and dead carp, which float by in the fast-moving current.  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/environment/pollution/water-pollution-in-iraq-threatens-mandaean-religious-rites/articleshow/66256961.cms  (17 Oct. 2018)

Iran  Isfahan Loses Hydroelectric Plant to Drought The sole hydroelectric power plant in Isfahan Province was shut down at the weekend due to the acute water shortage that has left Zayandehrud Dam with very little water: https://financialtribune.com/articles/energy/94481/isfahan-loses-hydroelectric-plant-to-drought-worsening-water-shortages  (16 Oct. 2018)

Also see, fascinating video about Qanats, the underground canals, the traditional water harvesting techniques of Iran.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qwq1XI9rpY  (19 May 2016)


SANDRP Blog AYU’S INCREDIBLE COMEBACK IN TOKYO Guest Blog by Aparna Datar about how The Ayu (sweetfish, Plecoglossus altivelis), a freshwater fish, a much loved symbol of the clearest streams of Japan and It’s remarkable come back in Tokyo, against the steep odds stacked against it, reflects in many ways, its own behavior of swimming against tide. https://sandrp.in/2018/10/17/the-ayus-incredible-comeback-in-tokyo/  (17 Oct. 2018)

Study Global hotspots for potential water disputes Scientists of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) have identified the hotspots where competition over the use of shared water resources could lead to disagreements between countries. https://phys.org/news/2018-10-global-hotspots-potential-disputes.html  (16 Oct. 2018)

Open resource materials and maps of rivers across the globe by Rivers Network: http://www.riversnetwork.org/rbo/index.php/basin-and-watershed-maps

America Trump wants to cut red tape, hasten water projects in West President Donald Trump on Oct. 19 ordered the government to speed up environmental reviews and streamline regulations that he says are hindering work on major water projects in California and other Western states.

Trump signed a memorandum aimed at helping the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project in California, the Klamath Irrigation Project in Oregon and California and the Columbia River Basin system in the Pacific Northwest. https://www.apnews.com/d7f65406cc14433fac6cafbb10ebc3f8  (20 Oct. 2018)

Texas More Rain Expected Amid Central Texas Flooding A continued threat of flooding is forecast in parts of Central Texas as more rain is expected in the area and dams along the swollen Colorado River release water downstream, officials said Oct. 17. The bodies of two people were found this week as the area was inundated with rains. As rivers overflowed, a bridge was destroyed, people were forced to evacuate their homes and others had to be rescued.

The Lower Colorado River Authority has been opening flood gates along the river since Oct. 15. Four floodgates have been opened on Mansfield Dam at Lake Travis, located northwest of Austin. The river authority said they’ll likely need to open four more by midday Oct. 16 for a total of eight — a record number to be open at the dam with 24 gates.   https://www.voanews.com/a/more-rain-expected-amid-central-texas-flooding/4618450.html  (17 Oct. 2018)

Africa Chinese, European groups to partner on vast Congo hydro project The two consortiums competing to build Africa’s largest hydroelectric power station in the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to work together to advance the long-delayed project. The Chinese and European led groups and the Congolese government on Oct. 16 signed an exclusive development agreement to jointly develop an expanded version of the long-planned Inga 3 Project, with an installed capacity of 11K, MW. https://www.ft.com/content/ca222256-d1f2-11e8-a9f2-7574db66bcd5  (17 Oct. 2018)

GERD Ethiopia’s massive new dam threatens Egypt’s Nile River The Nile River Basin extends to 11 African countries, but Egypt — one of the oldest civilizations in the world — has controlled the river and used the lion’s share of its waters for millennia. The Blue Nile River is the Nile’s largest tributary and supplies about 85% of the water entering Egypt. Ethiopia is building its $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, near the border with Sudan. When completed, it will be the largest dam in Africa, generating around 6,000 megawatts of electricity for both domestic use and export.

Ethiopia’s ambitious project is designed to help lift its fast-growing population out of poverty. But the new dam also puts management of the flow of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia’s hands — and that has sparked a power shift in the region. For the Egyptians, the Nile is, literally, a lifeline. The vast majority of the country’s 97 million people live along its banks.  https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/19/africa/ethiopia-new-dam-threatens-egypts-water/index.html  (19 Oct. 2018)

Britain Plastics recycling industry under investigation for leaking pollution into rivers and oceans Britain’s plastics recycling industry has been accused of leaking pollution into oceans and massively exaggerating waste figures. As a result it is facing an investigation by the Environment Agency (EA). https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/plastic-recycling-oceans-rivers-pollution-investigation-environment-agency-a8591736.html  (20 Oct. 2018)

Global A Closer Look at the Sustainability of Our Groundwater Aquifers Researchers use a new approach to assessing the world’s largest aquifers in hopes of improving groundwater management during drought periods. This study demonstrates the importance of an integrated approach to assessing aquifer sustainability and the factors that influence it. A new metric of unique sustainability indicators for aquifers can be used to improve water resources management in a warming world. (Geophysical Research Letters, https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL076005, 2017) https://eos.org/research-spotlights/a-closer-look-at-the-sustainability-of-our-groundwater-aquifers  (19 Oct. 2018)


IPCC Report Indigenous climate model for monsoon trends in IPCC report Using an indigenous climate model for the first time, two Indian scientists are contributing to climate projections for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be released in 2020.

R Krishnan and Swapna Panickal, from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, are documenting how climate change will impact global meteorological trends and the South Asian monsoon. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/indigenous-climate-model-for-monsoon-trends-in-ipcc-report/story-8TBl4HI4NfqVtbd7skS3XK.html  (17 Oct. 2018)


Western Ghats ESA tag on 57K sqkm of Western Ghats in new draft notification About new MoEF notification about Western Ghats. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/oct/16/esa-tag-on-57000-sq-km-of-western-ghats-in-new-draft-notification-1886040.html  (16 Oct. 2018)

Report Questions about Justice Goel’s tenure at NGT In the eyes of many experts, the tribunal has effectively gone from being a formidable ally of civil society to a weakened public institution. The chairperson’s tenure is for five years and it remains to be seen how the NGT with Goel at the helm will function in this period, but the start does not inspire hope. https://thewire.in/environment/national-green-tribunal-chief-adarsh-goel  (16 Oct. 2018)

Compiled by SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

Also see:  DRP News Bulletin 15 Oct. 2018  & DRP News Bulletin 8 Oct. 2018

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

2 thoughts on “DRP News Bulletin 22 October 2018: Looming Drought in Western India

  1. What a guide, I must say, your guides are awesome and I enjoyed reading them. You write to the point and with a clear and eye-catchy UI, your blog looks great.
    I have bookmarked your website, keep posting articles like this.


    1. Thanks,
      We publish these bulletins every Monday. Follow the blog and you will get an alert whenever we upload a new blog.
      Keep sending feedback, it is very useful.


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