Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 13 July 2020: “Rainwater harvesting is key to solving India’s water woes”

INDEED. With all the emphasis available at our command. We are in the midst of the rainiest season and such a statement is indeed music. It would become even more melodious if one knows who said it: it was none other than Mr G. Asok Kumar, Additional Secretary & Mission Director, National Water Mission, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India who said it. Speaking on July 8, 2020, he said: “Rainwater harvesting has become inevitable in the current scenario of water scarcity across the country… The idea is to save the rainwater be it on the rooftop, compounds, and premises.” Mr Kumar also emphasised the importance of groundwater recharge. 

We can pass it as run-of-the-mill statement from the government, but one is tempted to think there is more to it than that. One wishes if there was a way to hold these officials accountable for such statements and ask as to how this translates into policies, projects and practices. There is no evidence of any of these, unfortunately. Unless we were to interpret it cynically the way Central Water Commission ideologues do: Dams are also rain water harvesting structures! By that definition, even river linking is also rain water harvesting structure!! But Mr Kumar do not seem to suggest that. So let us hold on to this statement optimistically and push the water resources establishment to implement through right policies, practices and projects. Since that is where solution to India’s water problem indeed is. Unfortunately so far there is no sign that this wisdom is accepted in any serious way by the water resources establishment.

Continue reading “DRP NB 13 July 2020: “Rainwater harvesting is key to solving India’s water woes””

Book Review · Narmada

Book Review: Narmada Valley’s gripping story!

Guest blog by Abhilash Khandekar

BOOK: Rediscovering Narmada Valley; Author: Adil Khan; Publishers: Niyogi Books, New Delhi; 2020; Pages-208; Price: Rs 695/-

A life-giving organism can not be controversial, but in India rivers that ought to be naturally free-flowing have been made controversial by policy makers and politicians over the past few decades. Narmada is one of them! Continue reading “Book Review: Narmada Valley’s gripping story!”

Dams · Yamuna River

Uttarakhand govt must remove illegal bridge on Yamuna to prevent flood disaster

Locals of Vikas Nagar tehsil in Dehradun have shared revealing and disturbing images and videos of riverbed mining activities done in Yamuna river over past couple of months. Though in wake of ongoing monsoon the mechanized extraction of riverbed minerals (RBMs) has seen a halt since July 01, 2020, the miners have left an illegally made makeshift bridge on Yamuna river. And that’s cause of worry for local people.

“Since May we have been requesting local administration not to allow deep, in-stream and mechanized mining in Yamuna river compromising rivers flow as it could change river course and create damages during floods. But all our pleas fell on deaf ears”, says a local villager on the condition of anonymity.

He further says that, a causeway bridge built across river in the last week of May 2020 to transport the minerals has been left unattended which could lead to a flood disaster if not safely removed immediately.

Continue reading “Uttarakhand govt must remove illegal bridge on Yamuna to prevent flood disaster”

Maharashtra · Rivers

Beyond technological failure: Examining the role of religious organisations in water conservation

Guest Blog by Sachin Tiwale

Introduction 

In summer of 2016, after witnessing two consecutive droughts, Art of Living (AoL) along with RSS Jankalyan Samiti, (RSS-JS) initiated Manjra River Rejuvenation program with the involvement of local leaders and residents. As a part of this program, the Manjra River channel was deepened and widened to create additional storage to meet the drinking water demand of parched Latur city of Marathwada, Maharashtra. During implementation, the leading organisations AoL and RSS-JS proclaimed rejuvenation project as a permanent measure resolving the crisis by creating storage of 18 million cubic metre (MCM) enough to meet Latur city’s water demand (Ghadyalpatil  2016; Thomas 2016). With a promise of supplying piped water every alternate day, they collected around Rs. 70 million from the people[1]. However, as described below, even after completion of massive excavation damaging river ecology, this project failed miserably. It could not even supply one drop of water to the citizens of Latur. Surprisingly, this failure is never revealed or discussed and on the contrary, the project was celebrated as a success (Samvada, 2016). Continue reading “Beyond technological failure: Examining the role of religious organisations in water conservation”

Bihar · Nepal

Story of small transboundary river: Understanding Bhikhna Thori and River Pandai on India-Nepal border in Pashchim Champaran, Bihar

Guest Blog by Eklavya Prasad, Megh Pyne Abhiyan

Last week, a note was in circulation, which listed few border related conflicts between India (Bihar) and Nepal (Parsa). Of the nine points mentioned in the note, seven were directly or indirectly related to either a river, or access to water, or flood protection works. Out of the seven, one issue was with regard to an old concern involving River Pandai, which has witnessed different dimension of cooperation and discord between communities across the Indo-Nepal border in Pashchim (West) Champaran and Parsa districts respectively. However, the note highlight the conflict as a recent one with a specific intent and that was explained as नेपाल की करतूत : पानी रोक लिया, ताकि एसएसबी के जवान परेशान हों (Nepal’s handiwork : They stopped the water to trouble the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) jawans). After having read the note, I decided to write this piece based on my own understanding and learnings (through direct interactions and personal communication in the past and references) about River Pandai and Bhikhna Thori, to provide a comprehensive perspective.

Continue reading “Story of small transboundary river: Understanding Bhikhna Thori and River Pandai on India-Nepal border in Pashchim Champaran, Bihar”

Dams · Landslide

JAJRED perennial landslide in Yamuna basin, Uttarakhand

Banner image Jajred landslide zone which just reactivated with commencement of monsoon rains. (Nishant Panwar, July 07, 2020) 

Come monsoon and the Jajred mountain in Kalsi tehsil, Dehradun district in Uttarakhand starts falling apart. Located about 11 km away from Kalsi town, the landslide site near Amraha village blocks the vehicular movement on Kalsi-Chakrata state highway running through the zone for weeks sometimes for months.

This is a routine affair during monsoon for past many years damaging about 250 metre road stretch frequently thus cutting off the hundreds of villages in Jonsar-Bawar area from tehsil and state capital.

Continue reading “JAJRED perennial landslide in Yamuna basin, Uttarakhand”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 6 July 2020: Dear NGT, Yamuna Monitoring Panel needs extension

In July 2018, the National Green Tribunal appointed a Yamuna Monitoring Panel for Delhi, the term of this panel is over and it has submitted its final report. NGT had also appointed similar committees for Haryana and Uttar Pradesh stretch of Yamuna, but those panels never functioned as actively as did the Delhi panel. We urge NGT to accept the petition now filed by Manoj Mishra to give extension to the Delhi Yamuna Monitoring Committee (DYMC) and direct that this committee will continue to function and monitoring and compliance panel for Yamuna river in Delhi.

There is a lot one can say positively about this committee, but arguably the biggest factors are its activeness, responsiveness and transparency. This can be easily seen visiting its website or its twitter page (https://twitter.com/ngtmcyamuna2). The committee also acted as a bridge between various institutions dealing with Yamuna in Delhi and ensured better coordination. The committee’s work is also evident in the number of reports it has submitted, all available on its website. There is always room for improvement in functioning of any such organisation, but this a lot and there are very few cases where one can say this.

Continue reading “DRP NB 6 July 2020: Dear NGT, Yamuna Monitoring Panel needs extension”

Dams · Rivers

Travelling through Ramganga and Nayaar Rivers Basin

Fed by Dudhatoli forest range, the Ramganga West and Nayaar East and West in Uttarakhand are perennial rivers of immense scenic beauty amid emerging and looming threats. This photo blogs highlights some of the charms and concerns of these non-glacial rivers of the Ganga Basin.

Continue reading “Travelling through Ramganga and Nayaar Rivers Basin”

Art, Literature, Culture · Culture · Dams · Goa · Rivers and Culture

The magic of 24th June: Water Worship around the World

“Sao Joao, Sao Joao, Viva Sao Joao!”

The shouts were followed by unbelievably loud splashes in a red laterite well. The well itself was decked up like a bride. All along the way to Siolim in North Goa, on the banks of river Chapora, the road blossomed with people wearing big smiles and bigger floral wreaths, ‘Kopels’.

At Siolim, flows a tiny river called Anjuna. The ivory white church of St. Anthony overlooks a small bridge across Anjuna which was festooned extravagantly with ribbons, balloons and flowers. On the grassy riverbank, hundreds of chairs were laid out and a makeshift stage creaked under the weight of musicians, dancers, announcers, and impromptu performers jumping up from the audience. Continue reading “The magic of 24th June: Water Worship around the World”

Book Review

Review Essay on UNRULY WATERS: How Mountain Rivers & Monsoons have Shaped South Asia’s History

Guest blog by Dr. Ruchi Shree

Unruly Waters: How Mountain Rivers & Monsoons Have Shaped Asia’s History (by Sunil Amrith (2018), Penguin/ Allen Lane, New Delhi) unfolds the mysteries of monsoon in countless ways. It is written by Sunil Amrith, a historian and professor at Harvard University and the book has much more to offer to numerous other disciplines ranging from geology to ecology and political economy to name a few. Interdisciplinary as well as multidisciplinary orientation of the book makes it an interesting read for even the lay persons.

Although, I must admit that its non-ideological nature may at times lead to difficulty in placing the book in a certain category of left and right. Probably, the author has consciously done so and we will deliberate on this issue little later. Continue reading “Review Essay on UNRULY WATERS: How Mountain Rivers & Monsoons have Shaped South Asia’s History”