Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 18 June 2018 (Why this Onslaught of Big Dam Advocacy by CWC Ideologues?)

In a recent article Ashwin B Pandya, Former, Chairman Central Water Commission (CWC) refuses to acknowledge either the adverse impacts of dams or the better option of using groundwater aquifer for storing water. And thus making unscientific arguments against dam decommissioning and for dams. No one is talking of removal ALL dams as the author seems to postulate and then dismiss it as impossible and irresponsible.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 18 June 2018 (Why this Onslaught of Big Dam Advocacy by CWC Ideologues?)”

Urban Water Sector

India’s water unsmart cities operate in policy vacuum

The Urban Water footprint in India is increasing in multiple ways. Rapid Urbanisation predicted by experts is just unfolding. Per Capita Demands are going up.

The City water managers are looking at big storages for dependable source of water, such big storages are necessarily far off from the cities. Cities are also generating sewage equal to 80% of the water they consume. Such storages created behind Big Dams have huge social, environmental impacts, besides massive economic costs and increased disaster risks. There is competition for water allocation from such sources, either existing, under construction or to be constructed. Such allocations for long distance cities thus creates conflicts, and potential disruption for cities, like the ones Delhi frequently faces, including in Summer of 2018. Continue reading “India’s water unsmart cities operate in policy vacuum”

Assam · Floods

Floods in Tripura, Mizoram, Barak Valley in June 2018

The second wave of floods (first wave came in around May 20-24) this year inA North East India is affecting Tripura, Mizoram and mainly Barak Valley in Assam. Worryingly, while CWC flood forecast site shows water level reaching unprecedented levels in Manu river at Kailashahar in North Tripura District, CWC seems to have NO flood forecasting site in Mizoram. At Matizuri site in Hailakandi district in Barak Valley in Assam, the Katakhal river also approaching its highest ever flood level. In Bangladesh too sites like Amalshid have crossed the HFL.  Continue reading “Floods in Tripura, Mizoram, Barak Valley in June 2018”

Dams · Ken River

Kilkila: a Cursed River became Ganga; now Cursed again

Small rivers make big rivers. The health of big rivers depends on their smaller partners. But while bigger rivers are discussed, small rivers are normally absent in public discourse. They often lack govt or society’s attention. 

Smaller rivers, typically tributaries of bigger rivers, are essential part of river eco-system. They hold the key to rejuvenation of big rivers.  These small rivers are under multiple threats. They are slowly succumbing to damming, growing pollution, encroachments, mining and water extraction threats among others.

Kilkila is one such small river, with a fascinating story of its own.

Continue reading “Kilkila: a Cursed River became Ganga; now Cursed again”

Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Dam Safety

Risk of collapse of Hidroituango Dam hangs over Colombia

Above: The abutment of the Hidroituango dam, showing the unstable slopes. Image tweeted by UNGRD June 10 2018. Dam is almost full to the brim

The 225 m high Hindroituango Dam on Cauca River in Colombia continues to face emergency situation since April, and collapse of the dam is one of the likely possibilities. It’s a very large embankment dam being built Cauca River near to Ituango in Antioquia Province in Latima American country Colombia.  The dam, estimated to cost $2.8 billion, was due to be completed this year.  When operational it will generate 17% of the electricity demand of Colombia, but critics have been questioning the need for the dam. As we see through the details below, it is clear that the mega dam has been taken up without adequate geological, social and environmental studies, and now there is a big question mark if it will be successfully completed. There is a lot for the world to learn, here, including for Indian and South Asian Dam supporters.

Ominously, William Gutiérrez, a fisherman and gold prospector, after escaping the floods due to the dam last month, with nothing but the clothes he was wearing, told Guardian as vultures circled overhead: “We’ve always said this river could not be dammed. But the dam is more important to those in power than our lives.” Continue reading “Risk of collapse of Hidroituango Dam hangs over Colombia”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 11 June 2018 (Groundwater Pollution: The Hidden Killer Menace Lurking All Over)

Aquifers in 16 States in the country are contaminated by uranium, whose presence in drinking water has been linked to chronic kidney disease by several studies, a recent study has shown. More importantly, uranium doesn’t figure on the list of contaminants monitored under the Bureau of Indian Standards’ drinking water specifications. The main source of this contamination is natural, but groundwater depletion by extensive withdrawal of water for irrigation and nitrite pollution due to the excessive use of nitrogenous fertilisers may be exacerbating the problem, said the study.

– The study was carried out by a team of researchers led by Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in the US. The team, which also included experts from the Central Ground Water Board, the Rajasthan government’s Ground Water Department and Gujarat Water Resources Development Corporation, analysed groundwater samples from 226 locations in Rajasthan and 98 in Gujarat.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 11 June 2018 (Groundwater Pollution: The Hidden Killer Menace Lurking All Over)”

Himachal Pradesh · Urban Water Sector

Shimla water crisis: How smart are we getting?

“If you love Shimla, please do not visit” is one of the viral messages in social media this season, encapsulating the water crisis in the hill city this summer. The current round of severe water crisis in Shimla possibly had some roots in what happened here in Dec 2015-March 2016. In winter of 2015, Shimla faced severe water quality issue[i], out break of hepatitis lead to huge reduction in water use in Shimla from Ashwini Khad. Thousands suffered from the outbreak and dozens of people died. The poorly functioning Malyana Sewage Treatment Plant, was releasing the effluent in the same Ashwini Khud from where the Hill city was taking a significant part of water. That water supply was then reduced, but nothing has been done to improve the situation. The Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary has also told media[ii] that water available from Giri and Gumma streams have hugely reduced currently. Continue reading “Shimla water crisis: How smart are we getting?”

Disasters · Floods

CWC’s Weekly Reservoir Bulletin: Closer look warns of impending disaster

One of the key source of information about India’s water availability that the government provides and media and everyone else quotes is Central Water Commission’s weekly (updated every Thursday) “Reservoir Storage Bulletin”[i]. The Reservoir Storage Bulletin (RSB) currently tells about water storage position of 91 storage dams across India with total live storage capacity of 161.993 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters), spread over 18 states and 12 river basins. CWC uploads it with a disclaimer: “The Data contained in this Bulletin is as received from the State Government/Project Authorities.” Continue reading “CWC’s Weekly Reservoir Bulletin: Closer look warns of impending disaster”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 4 June 2018: WED 2018: Environment Protection and Development is NECESSARY and POSSIBLE, provided there is will

How is development possible along with environment protection?  There are two kinds of answers possible to this question. The standard kind of reply would try to provide a list of options that are available to a given development need. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 4 June 2018: WED 2018: Environment Protection and Development is NECESSARY and POSSIBLE, provided there is will”

Hydropower Performance

India’s hydro generation AGAIN below 10% in 2017-18

In 2016-17, for the first time in independent India’s history, hydropower generation from large hydropower projects in India fell below 10% of total electricity generation. In 2017-18, for which the Central Electricity Authority figures have just became available, the trend has continued, with proportion of electricity produced by large hydropower projects going further down. This percentage is in terms of actual generation (measured as Million or Billion Units[i]) and not installed capacity (measured in Mega Watts). Continue reading “India’s hydro generation AGAIN below 10% in 2017-18”