Blessings, like disasters, are complicated. Blessings come with a lot of attachments. And if you cannot manage them, you could invite disasters.
India is a blessed country in so many ways as far as water endowment is concerned. Our monsoons, rivers, aquifers, the Himalayas, the rich traditional techniques and management systems, to name a few. But the impacts of accumulated mismanagement over the last several decades are now coming out in the form of crisis in multiple ways. Continue reading “India’s Water Management Crisis”
Elephants are known to love water. But even as Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her maiden budget speech in the Parliament on July 5, 2019 inadvertently compared the government with an elephant[i], her budget speech did not have too much to do with water.
One expected her budget speech to have more on water particularly when Chennai and Tamil Nadu water crisis has been in the headlines and when the Dr Sitharaman’s speech was full of repeated references to Tamil stuff. And also when even the Prime Minister highlighted need for water conservation in his very first Mann ki Baat in the new term. Strangely, FM’s speech did not even mention water sector related words like flood, hydropower, irrigation (except in the list of GST rate reduction items) or even river or Ganga (except for cargo movement and when used in the erstwhile name of the Ministry of Jal Shakti). Continue reading “The 2019-20 Union Budget ignores India’s Water Management Crisis”
Late that night of July 2, shouts of “Dharan Futla, Dharan Futla” (The dam has breached!) saved the already-scared 62 year old Narayan Gaikwad and his family, as the family ran to nearby hill[i]. Tivare Dam (Longitude: 73° 42′ 0″; Latitude: 17° 36′ 0″ as per CWC’s National Register of Large Dams), across a rivulet in the Vashishthi Basin of coastal Maharashtra breached around 9.30 pm on July 2, 2019, taking 24 men, women and children with its fury.
But how many and how much of Maharashtra would be saved considering the fact that Maharashtra has India’s highest number of large dams, BY FAR? And especially considering the serious questions this episode is raising about the absolute lack of accountability of the government dam establishment.
These questions become pertinent for Konkan region of Maharashtra, where Tivare was located as this region faces highest rainfalls in the state, steepest slopes and is tainted with several incomplete, illegal, inefficient dams which are posing a risk to humans and environment. SANDRP had published a report on incomplete and illegal dams in Konkan region 3 years back[ii]. High Court, SIT Committee Report headed by Madhavrao Chitale and even CAG [iii]had singled out dams in Konkan for their inefficiency and violations at multiple levels. The situation remains the same till date. Experts and past dam bureaucrats put on record that conventional dams-and-canals approach does not work in the steep and hilly region of Konkan. Quality assurance of dams is nearly nonexistent, lighter soils are used in dam cores and even after doing all this, displacing thousands of people and submerging Western Ghats forests, “Area irrigated by Konkan dams may be less than the area submerged by them”[iv] Continue reading “Tivare Dam Disaster: Surviving in the State with maximum dams”