DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 250722: State of Yamuna River ignored by NMCG and MoEF

(Feature Image:- A drain choked with solid waste and untreated effluents running through Yamuna floodplains in Mathura. Source: News 18, 13072022.)

This year, even in the middle of monsoon, the Yamuna river in the national capital is in such a pathetic state, there is insufficient flows in the most of the days. The govt may jump to blame it on poor monsoon rains, ignoring that the upstream dams like the recently commissioned Vyasi dam not releasing water in the downstream is also a major reason beside the unsustainable riverbed mining and also dumping of solid waste in the upstream, including due to the building of mindless projects like the Char Dham highway, all in the news this week. Both National Mission on Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) should be concerned about this lack of flows downstream from the dam and other issues listed above, but they clearly seem least bothered.

Continue reading “DRP NB 250722: State of Yamuna River ignored by NMCG and MoEF”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 180722: Polavaram, Kaleshwaram projects damaged, Kadam dam overflowed

(Feature image: An aerial view of the flood-affected areas in Godavari districts on July 15. Photo by arrangement/Deccan Chronicle)

One of the noteworthy feature of the floods in ongoing on monsoon so far has been what is happening around large dam projects, particularly in Central India, Eastern India and Southern India. The Polavaram dam on Godavari river, the largest under construction dam in India, again suffered damage this monsoon as confessed by the Andhra Pradesh Irrigation Minister Ambati Rambabu after his frequent visits to the dam. The dam had suffered damage in 2019 floods and it is still not clear what is way forward and the dam has again suffered damage. This will make the unviable project even more unviable, but the government will continue to sink good money after the massive sunk funds.

The Kaleshwaram project in Godavari basin, the largest lift irrigation projects of India has also faced damages with at least two pump houses with large number of massive capacity pumps getting submerged, and third one partially flooded. The full impact of this damage will only be known after assessment once the floods recede.

Continue reading “DRP NB 180722: Polavaram, Kaleshwaram projects damaged, Kadam dam overflowed”
Landslide dam

Uttarakhand June 2022: Shambhu River Landslide Lake in Alaknanda basin

(Feature Image:- बागेश्वर के कुंवारी में इस तरह हो रहे भूस्खलन के कारण पहाड़ी से शंभू नदी में गिर रहा मलबा। Image: Amar Ujala)

In last week of June 2022, a landslide lake was formed on Shambhu river in Kapkot tehsil of Bageshwar district. Shambhu originates from Shambhu glacier near Borbalda village in the district. It joins the Pindar river another glacier fed river few kilometres upstream Jhaliya village. In turn, passing through Tharali, Narayanbagad the Pindar river merges into Alaknanda river at Karanprayag in Chamoli district.  

Continue reading “Uttarakhand June 2022: Shambhu River Landslide Lake in Alaknanda basin”
Floods

Rivers Breaching and flowing close to HFLs in May-June 2022

In pre-monsoon month of May 2022 and first month of south west monsoon season June 2022, there have been Highest Flood Level (HFL) breach incidents at 5 sites on rivers in North East and North India. The rivers have also touched or missed crossing the HFLs at 6 sites in the region in these two months. This include Kopili river at Kampur Level Forecast (LF) site in Nagaon district of Assam breaching HFL[i] in both  May and June 2022 months and Barak river at Fulertal LF site in Cachar district, Assam narrowly missing HFL breach in May 2022 and breaching the extreme flood level in June 2022.

SANDRP has been tracking the HFL breach incidents during pre-monsoon and monsoon months for past four years. The analysis of such HFL breaches in 2018[ii], 2019[iii] and 2020[iv], May-Sept 2021[v], Oct.-Nov 2021[vi] can be seen on our website.

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Hydro Disaster

Himachal Pradesh July 2022: Cloudburst at Malana II HEP in Parbati Valley

(Feature Image:- कुल्लू की मणिकर्ण घाटी के चोज गांव में बादल फटा है. मलाणा डेम साइट के पास से भागता युवक. Source: News 18 Himachal Pradesh)

Hydropower projects are force multipliers when cloud burst happens close to them. In 2021 at least 11 HEPs (4 each in Uttarakhand & Himachal, 2 in J&K and 1 in Ladakh) projects had faced cloud burst induced deluge and damages in lesser or greater degree.

In the latest such incident, the 100 MW Malana II Hydro Electric Project (HEP) in Parbati Valley in Himachal Pradesh has been affected by flash floods following cloud burst in Malana village area in early hours of July 6, 2022. The operational project is located on Malana stream, a tributary of Parbati river in Kullu district. This incident seemingly coincided with another devastating cloud burst near Choj village in Parvati valley located about 15 km south west from Malana.

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Monsoon · Rainfall

June 2022: High Rainfall district days in India’s SW Monsoon

An analysis of the daily district wise rainfall data from India Meteorological Department (IMD) for the month of June 2022, the first month of India’s South West Monsoon 2022 shows that there were 462 instances (442 in June 2021) when district rainfall of a day was above 50 mm. This is high considering that the rainfall of India in June 2022 was 152.3 mm[i], or daily average rainfall is about 5 mm. The high rainfall instances in June 2022 included 339 (371 in June 2021) instances when rainfall was 50-100 mm, 68 instances (59 in June 2021) when it was 100-150 mm, 26 (5 times in June 2021) times it was 150-200 mm and 29 (7 times in June 2021) times above 200 mm.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 110722: Govt failure on cloudburst monitoring, forecasting, managing

(Feature Image: On July 8, a flash flood triggered by a cloudburst hit a camp near the Amarnath cave shrine in J&K’s Ganderbal district. The Indian Express)

Just in first few weeks of this South West Monsoon in India and particularly in last two weeks there have been numerous cloudburst incidents leading to large number of deaths and destruction of human and natural infrastructure. Most of the time, the government just calls these disasters cloud burst and points finger at climate change, implying its helplessness, but happy that they have rescued the affected people. In reality, a lot can be done in terms of monitoring, forecasting and managing cloudbursts that is clearly not happening and is not part of government’s disaster management plans or actions.

Firstly there are some known places where the flash floods from cloud burst could lead to disaster, they need to be identified and habitations near and at risk at such locations need to be mapped and monitored to minimize the risks. The locations next to streams are clearly such hazardous locations and how can there be camps located right next to such streams as happened during the recent Amarnath caves?

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Urban Rivers

Top Ten Judicial Actions on Urban Rivers 2022: Executors Deliberately Delaying, Diluting, Defying orders

(Feature Image: The order is subject to the orders of the SC which is pending. NGT on Nov. 24, 2021ordered the BMC to deposit within three months an environmental penalty of ₹28.20 crores to the CPCB for discharging raw sewage into the city creeks, rivers and drains. HT Photo)

During past one year, the judicial bodies including National Green Tribunal, Supreme Court, various High Courts have passed several orders and made critical observation while dealing with multiple issues afflicting Urban Rivers in India. This report highlights top ten such judicial interventions across India. The stories underline that the responsible agencies particularly pollution control boards and district, state and union governments have been failing miserably in timely and efficient implementation of these judicial orders, some of which are quite remarkable. If the executive bodies do not show right spirit and seriousness in enforcing the existing rules and court orders the state of India’s urban river only go downhill.    

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 040722: Stalled, delayed, cancelled Hydro in Bhutan

(Feature Image: Stretch of Punatsangchu River that will be diverted through the tunnel when the dam is commissioned Photo: SANDRP)

Puncturing the prevalent notion about India Bhutan Cooperation on hydropower projects, there is news this week (in fact the news on this score has been coming for more than a couple of years, but Indian media seems to be practicing a self-imposed ban on putting out such stories – but that is another story as they say) that hydropower projects have been stalled, delayed, reconfigured, and even cancelled in Bhutan. This is broadly in line with the increasing economic non viability of hydropower projects.

Kuensel, Bhutan’s national newspaper, has reported about such projects quoting the National Council recommendation to the government of Bhutan to expedite the decisions about the stalled projects like the massive Punatasanchchu-I HEP and the Kholongchu HEP. It has also reported that the government of India conveying to Bhutan that India has sufficient electricity supplies, suggesting that the proposed Nu 200 Billion Sunkosh Hydropower project may not have any definite dateline and hence likely to not go forward. The happenings at the geologically unstable site selection for Punatsanchchu project involving India’s Central Water Commission, Wapcos and Geological Survey of India among others is in fact major scandal and how the whole issue has been dealt with so far. The happenings at the Kolongchu HEP being executed by the SJVN (erstwhile Sutlej Jal Vidhyut Nigam Ltd) as the first ever joint venture project in Bhutan in terms SJVN not giving the promised contracts to Bhutanese companies also does not bode well for Joint Venture projects in future. Both Punatsanchchu and Kholongchu HEPs are stalled and delayed for long, increasing the cost of the projects and power from the projects. While all this is broadly in line with increasing economic non viability of hydropower projects, a lot of this can be avoided by increasing transparency and accountability in governance of these projects.

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Disasters · Manipur · Landslide dam

Manipur’s Ejei river blocking landslide at under construction railway line involved violations, no EIA, NGT pending case

Eighteen Territorial Army personnel among 24 people were killed in a massive landslide in Manipur’s Noney district[i] on Wednesday (June 29, 2022), and at least another 40, including 18 soldiers, are feared trapped or buried in the rubble of an under-construction railway yard. An adjoining construction camp and security camp engulfed in the avalanche of rock and mud.[ii] The Railway line is under construction since a decade.

Continue reading “Manipur’s Ejei river blocking landslide at under construction railway line involved violations, no EIA, NGT pending case”