The New Indian Express published a most remarkable report on Aug 24, 2019[i]. It said, among other things: “The district administration of Uttara Kannada will seek an inquiry report from the managing director of Karnataka Power Corporation Limited on untimely release of water from Kadra dam to Kali River, which caused flood in Kadra, Mallapur, Kaiga township, Hanakon, Kharge Jooga island, Kinnar, Siddar, Vailawada and many villages in Karwar taluk in the first week of August. 5,000 people from these villages were shifted to rehabilitation centres in Karwar and other villages. Half of the Kaiga township was inundated and employees of Kaiga Atomic Power Station had to use boats to reach the nuclear power plants… The district administration was not informed about the increasing inflow into Kadra dam and outflow into the river. Finally, DC Harish Kumar K, ZP CEO M Roshan and then SP Vinayak Patil camped in Kadra and took over the control of the dam due to the failure of dam officials. They managed the outflow of the dam for a couple of days. Deputy Commissioner Harish Kumar K said the district administration will write to KPCL MD seeking an inquiry on water released from dams to Kali river.” Continue reading “Unprecedented Dam flood situation in Uttara Kannada in Aug 2019”
As I write this, around 1000 people are on a hunger strike in a small village on the banks of Narmada river in Badwani District, one of the most fertile and culturally rich part of Madhya Pradesh. The hunger strike which started with 5 women and leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar is now in its 6th day on Aug 31, 2019. Continue reading “Photoblog: Rivers for Life: Narmada Rally at Badvani, July 2019”
Guest Blog by Kalyani Thatte
“Our borewells are drying up fast. We have reached to 400-450 ft deep but it is futile most of the times. There are very few wells that are having water throughout the year. The water levels are dropping every year. Tankers are regular in summers. We are not even able to take a Kharif crop at times as it hardly rains and that too when it is required for the standing crops”, this was the narrative told in the first village named Zinnar in Osmanabad. However as I travelled through different villages in different blocks of the district and later on to the districts of Ahmednagar, Solapur, Nashik, Jalgaon, the narratives remained more or less the same. The only change was the names of the villages.
This year (2019), the rainfall was deficient, the monsoon was erratic. But this narrative has been similar for many years. Especially from last 8-10 years the intensity of such narratives is increasing. These narratives made me realise that what is happening is something that is not in our hands. However it also brought forth the factors which are in our hands and which are thanks to ruthless exploitation, are worsening the situation. Continue reading “Groundwater & the tragedy of the commons in Marathwada”
On August 21, 2019, the first big flood spell of monsoon season 2019 has passed through Delhi. The river swelled to cross first warning level 204.00 metre and then danger level 204.83 metre at Old Railway Bridge (ORB) Delhi, finally receding from 206.6 metre which is 0.89 meter short of 207.49 Highest Flood Level (HFL) set in 1978.
The delayed and much awaited flood spell hit the city after highest ever recorded discharge of 8.28 lakh cusec water for two hours from Hathini Kund Barrage (HKB), Yamuna Nagar in Haryana on August 18, 2019 at 05:00 pm and 6:00 pm. The highest since the commissioning of HKB in 2000. The water release this year has also surpassed the discharge of 7.09 lakh cusec the previous highest discharge recorded at Taje Wala Barrage (TWB) during the highest flood recorded in River Yamuna in September 1978. The British era TWB barrage, some 6 kilometre upstream of HKB was washed away in 2010 floods.
Guest Blog by: Amruta Pradhan
Background Three rivers (among some others) with a total length of 44km traverse through Pune city. Mula river flows a distance of 22.2 km, Mutha River 10.4 km and Mula-Mutha River 11.8 km. Plight of these rivers is well known. They have been featured in the list of 300 most polluted rivers of India. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Maharashtra Water Resources Department (WRD) etc. have pulled number of controversies over river pollution, illegal construction of roads and townships through river bed and most recently Pune Metro being proposed through the river bed. Making a case for ‘rejuvenation’ of the ‘neglected rivers’, PMC has now proposed Pune Riverfront Development Project (PRDP). The project has been designed by the same HCP Design Planning & Management Pvt. Ltd (HCP) led by Ar. Bimal Patel from Ahmedabad who conceived and implemented Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project (SRFDP).
In September 2014 SANDRP in its article “Riverfront Development in India: Cosmetic make up on deep wounds” had raised serious issues regarding several riverfront development projects sprouting across India. Following the footsteps of SRFDP these projects treat rivers as extension of urban spaces and are more about encroachment of floodplains and river beds for real estate than restoration. Pune’s Mula-Mutha Riverfront Project being one among them, maintains the same focus. The project also shows several signs of an ill planned project which may exacerbate the risk of flooding and may take a severe toll on water quality and river health. This article questions some underlying assumptions upon which the project has been designed. Draft Master Plan (DMP) of the project prepared by HCP has been referred as a base document. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the project is of a poor quality and devoid of even basic information about the project. Thus was not referred for details. Continue reading “Pune Riverfront Development Project: Encroachment in the name of Rejuvenation?”
On Aug 16, 2019, a news report[i] announced that Pune IMD (India Meteorological Department) will now (from Aug 1, 2019) provide to CWC (Central Water Commission) forecasts of water volume that may accumulate in river basins across the India “In a bid to ensure effective reservoir management.”
Pulak Guhathakurta, head, Climate Application and User Interface at Climate Research and Service at IMD-Pune was quoted saying, “We will make use of our forecasts and rainfall information to calculate the total volume of water expected to accumulate in every river basin and sub-river basin on the basis of its area expanse. This information will then be shared with CWC and other authorities, like the department of irrigation. It will be handy and can be decisive while deciding the release of water from time to time, especially during the monsoon.” This statement again emphasised that this was being done to help reservoir management. The news report than mentioned the Kerala floods in 2018 and role of dams therein. Continue reading “IMD forecast of Water Volume in River Basins: Can it help prevent Dam floods?”
Following recent Punjab floods, the Punjab Chief Minister said that the state government would go for canalisation of rivers, as if that is going to help in managing or avoiding flood disaster. This proposal seems to come out from nowhere, but considering that the CM talked about funding by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, either this is already under discussion or these institutes have proposed this to the Chief Minister. The Proposal seems blind to the impacts, costs, risks and wider implications of the canalisation of rivers.
To avoid duplication, the excellent report in MINT below provides detailed reasons why it is a disastrous Idea. The Indian Express report below is in fact a bad example of reporting, since it does not even mention the impacts, costs or risks of the canalisation proposal. And the report that follows these two from California in USA shows how there the work is ongoing to reverse the trend and bring more flood plains in connection with the rivers at a huge cost. Why do we have to repeat the blunders of others, as propagated by the World Bank and ADB and then pay the price in reversing the blunders?
Guest Blog by: Nirmala Gowda
Diverting sewage and desilting are cornerstones of all lake rejuvenation today. Some important questions loom large. Doesn’t this push the problem downstream to the next water body? The lake filled with sewage and other questionable effluents is a problem for residents around the lake. Quite understandable so: The Mosquitoes, the intolerable stench, garbage piling up along with the recklessly growing vegetation. So, sewage gets diverted and garbage get thrown in someone else’s backyard. This apparently, is called Nimbyism. Continue reading “Brewing Farmer Crisis in heavily polluted, frothing Byramangala Tank Region”
Above: Tribal women fetch water from a well which was supplied by the government tankers at a village in Mokhada, April 2019. This is the “Surplus” region which is supposed to transfer water to Sinnar as per the Damanganga-Upper Vaitarna-Godavari Link. Photo: PTI
Maharashtra Government is aggressively pushing Intrastate River water transfers from West flowing rivers into Godavari and Tapi Basins. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has tried to package these transfers as “Diverting water from Konkan to Drought Affected Marathwada”. This can be an eye candy for majority population, if we do not look at the details of these destructive projects.
One of the first projects coming for Stage I Environmental Clearance is about transferring water from Damanganga and Upper Vaiatarna Basins into Kadve Dam in Godavari Basin and from there to Dev Nadi in Sinnar, to provide water to Sinnar. The project, costing Rs 2700 Crores, will displace more than 4000 people, mainly tribals, submerge 8 villages and 1230 hectares of land, 179 hectares of Forest and possibly parts of Tansa Sanctuary. Continue reading “From thirsty Tribal areas to Industries: Travesty of Intrabasin Transfers in Maharashtra”
Southwest Monsoon provides about 75% of our water and yet we have not learnt how to manage that rain water, without creating avoidable flood disasters, without using submergence as weapon to displace people as is being attempted in case of Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat, without allowing water to flow to Pakistan, which is against all the rhetoric of the top most government persons and without the needless push for more big dams or interlilnking rivers or such mega centralised projects and programs? If we go through this week’s DRP News Update, it does not seem like we have. All the contrary elements are there for all to see.
It is certainly possible to manage the rain better so that more of it is available beyond the monsoon in a decentralised manner, as decentralised as the rainfall itself. The elements of it all well known: harvest rain where it falls, recharge groundwater, create local water systems, desilt existing such systems, protect wetlands, forests, increase soil’s capacity to hold moisture through increasing carbon/ organic conent of the soils (we know how this can be achieved), use the created large reservoirs judiciously, ensure all the dams in a basin are filled up simultaneously and not sequentially, ensure water flow in the river for maximum period as that will also help recharge groundwater, reduce deforestation in the catchments, increase forest area in the catchments where possible, protect local water systems everywhere including Urban areas, protect flood plains and ensure rivers have capacity to carry floods that it is required to carry, have better and more accurate rainfall forecasts (including riverbasin wise/ sub basin wise forecasts), coordinated actions across river basins and states. There is some minor improvements here and there as we see in this bulltin, but no major change.
It’s more optimal rain water management that will help better water security, sustainable water availability, food production, livelihoods and agricultural security, among others. What is the road map to learn this and learn fast? There is no immediate light to the end of the tunnel.