Feature image: Schoolkids take a walk along the Chalakudy river in Arangali village. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/ozhukanam-puzhakal-campaign-let-rivers-flow-without-hindrance/articleshow/68965530.cms (Times of India, 20 April 2019)
The 2019 overview of sand mining in the Kerala showed how illegal mining of rivers had played its part in aggravating 2018 flood situation. Reports revealed that several rivers in the state turned dry and water level adjoining them dropped significantly soon after floods, despite excess rainfall, which was partly because of excessive mining and washing away of sand deposits which used to help recharge ground water.
Towards the end of 2018, the issue of unsustainable beach mining in Alappad surfaced and video of a 17 year old girl describing the adverse impact on coastal villages went viral. The effort earned National Green Tribunal (NGT) intervention. Meanwhile, the state govt agencies kept insisting on continued mining operations coastal area. This report provides an overview of state of affair through 2019 and 2020 so far.
Continue reading “Kerala 2020 Sand Mining: Don’t forget floods, fisherfolks & vanishing villages”
Feature image: Officials of the irrigation department visited the breached Tiware dam near Chiplun in Ratnagiri, in July 2019. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
The report of the 10 member committee headed by Shri Nandkumar Vadnere, appointed by the Govt of Maharashtra in Aug 2019 was submitted on May 28, 2020. The report titled “A report on Floods 2019 (Krishna Sub-Basin): Experts Study Committee: Analysis, Causes, Remedies” from all accounts is a major let down as is apparent from the way one of the members felt so humiliated that he had to resign: he was not provided basic information to do justice to the Terms of Reference, his chapters were unilaterally removed from the draft report by the chairman, under pressure from higher ups. The report is actually an attempt to show, by hook or by crook that dams were not responsible for the Krishna basin floods of Aug 2019. Almost exactly the same way CWC came out with a shockingly unscientific, contradictory report about Aug 2018 Kerala floods to prove that dams had no role. The report did not even ask if the any of the dams followed the rule curve, though it made recommendation that rule curves should be followed! The story keeps repeating for each of the dozens of instances in recent years. The report of the Tiware dam disaster in Maharashtra in July 2019 has been submitted in Feb 2020, but is not yet in public domain. These few recent instances show how strong a strangle hold the dam lobby has over the official water institutions and governance in India. The Dam Safety bill now before the Parliament will not help as it has no provision to remove or even loosen this stranglehold, there is no place for independent oversight in the bill. Without an accountable reservoir operation policy, legal and institutional paradigm there is no possibility of freedom from dam induced floods.
Continue reading “DRP NB 1 June 2020: No escape from Dam floods as dam lobby continues to dominate”
Seven major dams with high storage capacities in Upper Krishna Basin in Maharashtra’s Satara and Sangli districts have huge 1422.12 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) water in live storage as on May 30, 2020, just about a week away from the prospects of beginning of monsoon. The Wadnere committee’s efforts not withstanding, there is no doubt that almost simultaneous water release from these seven dams played a major role in creating highest ever flood levels in Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin in August 2019. Though on this day last year, these seven dams had much lower water in live storage at 556.49 MCM, the almost simultaneous water release from these dams hugely contributed to the unprecedented flood disaster in Sangli district last year. With 256% water in live storage this year compared to last year on this date, the risk of these dams contributing to flood disaster in Sangli district is even greater this year. Unless the authorities in the water resources department, district administration and disaster management authorities wake up and ensure that these dams help moderate rather than contribute to floods. Continue reading “Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin again faces prospects of Dam Floods?”
Latest and disturbing images taken on May 27, 2020 display brazen riverbed mining in Yamuna river in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The images related to Vikas Nagar stretch of river show that miners have not only created a temporary bridge across the riverbed to transport mined material but also using heavy machines to dig the riverbed. In the process the river flow has been impounded at the location.
Sources reveal that active river channel is being compromised by in-stream mining operations. It is learnt that the mining is being done hardly 300 meters from Haripur bridge connecting Vikas Nagar to Kalsi.
Continue reading “Yamuna Riverbed Mining: Miners, Govts throw rule book in river”
Following large scale illegal mining incidents in Yamuna, Chambal, Ken, Betwa and many other rivers in Uttar Pradesh, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in past few years has issued significant orders. Towards the end of 2018, the Central Board of Investigation (CBI) had also started inquiry into illegal mining case in Betwa river in Hamirpur district which involved the then Mining Minister Gyatri Prajapati and the district magistrate among others. The raids regarding the issue kept taking place throughout 2019. So far the case has not reached the conclusion.
With the help of available media & other reports SANDRP tracks the illegal sand mining incidents of Uttar Pradesh during past one and half years. The 2018 sand mining overview in UP can be seen here.
Continue reading “UP riverbed mining overview: NGT, CBI, Govts cannot stop the menace”
Guest Blog by Pradeep Purandare
Abstract: Flood Study Committee in Maharashtra has set up a record of sorts by not only denying technical information to its member but even excluding his chapter altogether from the final draft report. The humiliated member who opted to quit the committee shares his experience in this article. The article highlights: (1) the report was finalized without detailed discussions on all chapters together, (2) Maharashtra is well equipped with theory of ROS (Reservoir Operation Schedule) & Flood Zoning but doesn’t implement the same, (3) Maharashtra wasted full 13 years by not implementing the recommendations of Wadnere Committee-1 regarding revised ROS & integrated reservoir operation, (4) Total absence of flood management governance & (5) most importantly, the simulation study carried out by the committee indicates that backwater effect of Almatti project is not responsible for Maharashtra floods 2019. Next, the paper explains WRD’s (Water Resources Department) viewpoint regarding Maharashtra Floods 2019 & its emphasis on structural measures. The paper then points out WRD’s strange policy, raises questions regarding reliability of discharge measurement at observation points & makes following critical comment on Reservoir Operation.
“There is, therefore, room to believe that had there been the implementation of revised ROS as recommended by Wadnere Committee -1, less storage in the dams in the last week of July 2019 & staggered outflow from 9 projects based on the principle of integrated ROS, the flood situation would have been different & comparatively speaking less severe.”
In the end, the author requests the govt to follow the principle – “Don’t waste the crisis” and
- Take a critical review of the State’s preparedness regarding Flood Moderation
- Adopt & Implement the concept of Integrated Reservoir Operation
- Don’t make compromises in respect of flood zoning
- Ask Wadnere Committee-2 to make amendments in its report & modus operandi as well.
Continue reading “Maharashtra Floods 2019: Don’t waste the crisis”
On Tuesday, May 19, 2020 evening following two days of heavy (4-7 inches) rains, Edinville Dam breached at 1740 and downstream Sanford dam overflowed at 1900 hours, leading to highest ever water level in downstream towns, leading to evacuation of over 10 000 people, besides massive damage, including to roads, bridges, buildings and crops. Both were earthen dams, Edinville dam famously did not have sufficient spillway capacity to pass even half the PMF (Probable Maximum Flood) it was expected to get. USA has much better dam safety situations legally, institutionally and practically that we in India have, and yet this happened where problems were known. As India awaits in the South West Monsoon 2020, there is lot we need to learn here and worry about our dams. Continue reading “Michigan Dam failures: New Warnings for India’s Dam Safety”
This letter from SANDRP to MoEF and ETC on Etalin Project highlights how poor has been the EIA and E-flows reports of the Etalin Project and how flawed has been the Environmental Appraisal Process by the EAC. It also shows the shoddy Dibang Basin study for Cumulative Impact Assessment cum Carrying Capacity Study, shockingly done by the same consultant that also did the Etalin EIA, showing clearly that MoEF, EAC and CWC, all of whom were involved in the process, do not understand what is conflict of interest. The E flows study done by the CIFRI (Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute) does not even provide the list of fish they found in the Etalin project area! And shockingly, the EAC approved the biggest ever hydropower project of India based on such shoddy documents. The Environment Clearance approval needs to be reviewed, the EIA, E-flows and Dibang Basin CIA needs to be rejected and fresh studies need to be commissioned. https://sandrp.in/2020/05/23/open-letter-to-moef-river-valley-eac-review-recommendation-to-grant-ec-to-etalin-hep/ (23 May 2020)
Continue reading “DRP NB 25 May 2020: Review Environment Clearance Approval for Etalin Project”
The MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley Projects in its meeting in January 2017 recommended Environmental Clearance (EC) to the controversial 3097 MW Etalin Hydropower project in Dibang River Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. However, since the stage I forest clearance to Etalin HEP has not yet been accorded, the EC letter has not yet been issued. Hence there is an opportunity to stop EC to the project till the EAC reviews its decision.
It may be noted that Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) in its meeting on April 23, 2020, has decided in the context of Etalin Project: “As this is a large sized project in the Himalayas, inputs of IA (Impact Assessment) Division of the Ministry on whether environmental impacts of the proposed project and mitigating measures have been considered, will be obtained.” This provides an opportunity for the MoEF to direct the IA Division and EAC to review its decision to recommend EC to the Etalin Project.
Continue reading “Open letter to MoEF & River Valley EAC: Review Recommendation to grant EC to Etalin HEP”
On May 17, 2020 the residents of Ranwar village in Karnal woke up to find their village surrounded by gushing water current which was fast entering their homes. The cause of the flooding was a breach[i] in augmentation canal running close to the village.
The incident was allegedly caused by a small hole at 60.200 point on left bank of the canal around 03.00 am gradually turning into a 40 to 50 feet wide breach by the noon same day. Before the local administration could get into action, around 250 acres of farm lands around the village was flooded.
Continue reading “Augmentation canal breaches becoming new normal in Haryana”