Ganga · Hydropower · Uttarakhand

Open Letter to PM on Uttarakhand Hydro in Sept 2021

Open Letter to the Prime Minister, Minister of Environment and media on 09/09/2021:
Restarting seven under-construction hydro projects in Ganga Himalaya unjustified

Recently the MoEF&CC has recommended restarting the construction of seven under-construction HEPs  in Uttarakhand namely Tehri II (1000 MW), Tapovan Vishnugad (520 MW), Vishnugad Pipalkoti (444 MW), Singoli Bhatwari (99 MW), Phata Byung (76 MW), Madhmaheshwar (15 MW), and Kaliganga II  (4.5 MW). The news came as a shock to citizens, devotees and environmentalists who have been struggling  since over a decade to preserve our national river Ganga and the Himalaya. The deeply felt concern over  the fate of these two pivotal ecological systems and defining symbols of Indian culture, compel us to write  this letter. Not the least, as a citizen, it is also our constitutional duty ‘to protect and improve India’s natural  environment’.

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Climate Change · Hydropower

Don’t Use Climate Funds for Hydro Projects: 300 organisations from 69 countries to UN & govts at COP26

A landmark Global declaration titled “RIVERS FOR CLIMATE” was launched on Sept 21, 2021, endorsed already by 300 organisations from 69 countries calling on governments and leaders attending COP26 (Conference of Parties meeting 26) to protect river ecosystems and stop using scarce climate funds to finance false climate solutions such as hydropower. Representing the views of civil society, peoples movements, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, scientists, and conservationists, the declaration called out the proliferation schemes being peddled under an erroneous pretense of sustainability.

“Hydropower is not clean energy. We’re at an unprecedented moment in history; facing the triple threats of a runaway climate crisis, large-scale biodiversity loss, and a global pandemic,” said Chris Wilke, Global Advocacy Manager for Waterkeeper Alliance. “We simply cannot waste time, funding, and scarce resources on false solutions that distract us from what is really needed to address the multiple crises we face.”

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 20 Sep 2021: Policy needed for Urban Rivers, not Riverfronts

There is no doubt that India urgently needs a guidance note and policy for Environment Sensitive, Climate Adaptive and Socially inclusive Urban Rivers Planning and Development. But this is required for the Urban Rivers and not just Urban Riverfront. The NMCG attempt like that of Sabarmati and numerous other river fronts unfortunately are not bothered about rivers, they are only interested in grabbing land from the Urban Rivers and convert the rivers into concrete channels on two and in some cases three sides (include the sides and the bed of the rivers). That is clearly death knell for the rivers. There is no doubt that there is need connect the people with the rivers, not just river fronts. The NMCG and other government bodies know the difference, so it is not out of ignorance that they have come out with the guidance note for river fronts rather than one for rivers. Unless people, civil society, experts and judiciary raise these issues, the future of Urban rivers seem bleak in India, as can be seen from the stories of Urban rivers compiled here from this week. 

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Dams · Hydro Disaster

Uttarakhand: Cloud Bursts around Vyasi HEP

On August 25-27, 2021 the most of hilly districts in Uttarakhand witnessed intense rainfall events causing widespread destruction. Media reports and local people suggest at least seven cloud burst incidents occurring in quick succession over Binhar range in Pacchawadoon and Mussoorie hills dividing Ganga and Yamuna basins in Dehradun district. The resultant deluge has also affected the under construction Vyasi Hydro Electric Project (HEP) areas in Vikas Nagar tehsil highlighting that the project is unprepared to cope with existing & emerging disasters.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 13 Sept 2021: Misleading claim of Water Plus cities

Recently, when the government of India certified that cities like Indore, Surat, Hyderabad, Vizag, etc are Water Plus, it raised a number of questions including the credibility of the claim, lack of credit worthy independent assessment, how sustainable are the claims, etc. The author of the following article rightly raises the question if the cities are at all Water Plus. They are clearly not. While recycling and reuse of 30% of treated sewage and full treatment of waste water is welcome in view of the current pathetic status of city water management in cities, this achievement, if it is real as assessed by credit worthy independent assessment & judged against a set of well-defined criteria of sustainability among others, is worth appreciating, but it certainly does not deserve Water Plus City label. To achieve that label, a lot more and a lot different kind of achievements will be required.

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Cloud Burst

Uttarakhand: ‘Cloud Burst’ in Syunsal; Administration disinterested in rainfall monitoring

On September 7, 2021 a ‘cloud burst’ incident was reported in Syunsal village area of Patti Chauthan. The village is located in buffer zone of Dudhatoli reserve forest in Thailisain block of Pauri district forming borders with Almora and Chamoli districts.

As per villagers the incident occurred around 02.30 am early in the morning. There was heavy rainfall spell since evening of September 6 in the region. Post mid night loud thunders and lightening were also experienced but in the darkness of night, very little could be seen.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 6 Sep 2021: DISASTERS GOING UP in Himalayas, across India & Globally

(Feature image: Rani Pokhri bridge on the Dehradun Rishikesh highway collapsed near Dehradun, August 27, PTI https://www.thequint.com/news/india/uttarakhand-rains-bridge-on-dehradun-rishikesh-highway-collapses-no-casualties#read-more)

Data published this week (see below) shows that disasters are going up almost five fold in the Himalayas (data from Uttarakhand, HP below, but this is not different in rest of Himalayas), nationally and even globally. The data from UN report this week shows that the disasters are up five fold in recent years. Damage is up even more. As the data of landslides due to Char Dham High way and hydropower projects show, the contribution from these projects to the disaster is clear. So much so that even the editorial in The Hindustan Times this week asked to stop these disastrous projects. While it is unlikely that the governments or politicians would wake up to this reality anytime soon, one expects the judiciary, media, civil society and academics to take up this issue on urgent basis.

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Monsoon · Rainfall

High Rainfall days in India’s districts in August 2021

An analysis of the daily district wise rainfall data from India Meteorological Department (IMD) for the month of Aug 2021, 3rd month of India’s South West Monsoon 2021 shows that there were 431 instances when district rainfall of a day was above 50 mm. The normal monthly rainfall of India Aug is 258.2 mm and actual rainfall was a huge 24.13% below normal at 195.9 mm[i], the actual average daily rainfall in this month was about 6.45 mm. Such high rainfall instances included 371 instances when rainfall was 50-100 mm, 48 instances when it was 100-150 mm, 11 times it was 150-200 mm and just once above 200 mm. Interestingly, in June 2021[ii] and July 2021[iii] there were seven instances when rainfall was above 200 mm, when the rainfall is supposed to be much below July rainfall. As noted in detailed article[iv], the July 2021 rainfall all over India was 6.7% below normal.

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Floods · Ganga

The Everydayness of Flood: Experiences from Bhagalpur-Bihar

Guest Blog by Dr. Ruchi Shree (TMBU, Bhagalpur-Bihar)

On the banks of river Ganga in north India, Bhagalpur is a district of South-east Bihar. This district is famous for production of silk and thus Bhagalpur is also called ‘silk city’. Due to its proximity to Ganga, it is a flood prone region of Bihar and the usual trend of flood is in alternate year with varying intensity. The wider impact of flood ranges from agricultural loss to disturbances in transportation (water on railway track to vanished roads and bridges) and health hazards to environmental impacts to name a few[i]. This essay has three objectives: first, to narrate the challenges and lessons from my first close encounter of flood, specifically Bhagalpur floods, second, to probe into major reasons of flood and third, to depict the post-flood scenario. To have seen myself in three roles namely flood observer, flood victim and flood survivor is what made me sense the everydayness of flood.  

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Monsoon · Rainfall

June-Aug 2021: District wise rainfall in India’s SW Monsoon

In the just concluded month of August 2021, the rainfall in India was a massive 24.13% below normal. Actual rainfall  was 195.9 mm, compared to normal rainfall of 258.2 mm, as per figures from India Meteorological Department (IMD). Contrast this with the rainfall in August last year, at 327 mm, was 26.6% above normal, ,and 44 year high. Even in July 2021, the rainfall was much higher at 266.1 mm, 6.73% below normal. In June 2021, the rainfall was 182.9 mm (10.96% above normal), not much below the August 2021 rainfall, when August is supposed to have much higher rainfall than June.

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