DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 16 May 2022: Welcome effort at Groundwater monitoring in India’s villages

(Feature Image: Women use an open source groundwater monitoring tool that enables collection of water level data of wells and its collation on a web platform for easy access by all. Source: FES/IWP)

The Groundwater (its closer to dug well monitoring than full GW monitoring) Monitoring Campaign using the Groundwater Monitoring Tool (an App) across the villages in India started two years ago by the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) as reported by the India Water Portal seems like a much needed kind of campaign to monitor groundwater levels (& quality where that is also being monitored) across the villages in India. The presentation on the India Observatory (an initiative of FES) website lists some 40 very highly credible organisations from across India in 2020 when the GWM campaign started. This is certainly very welcome initiative that has huge potential to improve India’s groundwater management.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 9 May 2022: Forensic Team report: Michigan 2020 Dams failures were preventable

A Forensic engineering Team appointed by the USA’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission post the May 19, 2020 failure of Edinville and Sanford Dams in Michigan state of USA has published a 502 page comprehensive report on the dam failure within less than two years of the disaster. The full report published on May 4, 2022 is in public domain and has concluded that the dam failures were foreseeable and preventable.

There are a number of things we can learn from this. Firstly that there are such credible independent assessment of dam failures, we have none in India even after multiple dam failures each year. Secondly, such assessments are promptly in public domain. Thirdly, the reports are completed in less then two years. We have none of these. Even the Dam Safety Act passed by the parliament does not have provisions for any of these.

There are a lot of implications for India here. It means for example that we will never know the real reasons for the dam related disasters. Secondly, we won’t be able to learn any lessons. Thirdly we will never be able to improve the governance of our dams and rivers. Fourthly, we won’t be able to fix accountability.

There is so much at stake related to governance of our dams, but we seem completely unconcerned about it. There is a lot we can learn from others here.

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Hydro Disaster

Disaster at Tidong Hydropower project kills 2 in May 2022

(Feature image: Rescue operation at Tidong HEP tunnel. Image source: Divya Himachal)

Early morning around 5.45 am on Saturday, May 7, 2022, five labourers were stuck while coming out from the 180 m deep tunnel of the under construction 100 MW Tidong Hydropower project[i] in Murang Tehsil of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh when debris fell into the tunnel (according to one report) and the lift in which the 5 labourers were coming out over turned[ii]. The trolley with 5 workers inside pressure shaft of adit 2 tunnel slipped off its track. The workers were coming out as their shift had ended.

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Sand Mining

Govts, Judiciary fail as Sand mining ravaging Chambal Sanctuary

(Feature image Mechanized and illegal mining in Chambal river, Morena. Image Source: MP Breaking News)

Large scale illegal sand mining activities are going on in National Chambal River Sanctuary area falling under Morena district of Madhya Pradesh and Dholpur district of Rajasthan despite a ban by Supreme Court, as highlighted by several reports in recent months.

The MP Breaking News report dated Dec. 31, 2021 details how illegal sand mining in Chambal river near Rajghat bridge in Morena side has been unabated contrasting government’s claims of strict actions against sand mafias in the state. Thousands of tractors and heavy machines like JCBs and hydras were involved in the act. It also reveals that the officials from district administration, forest and police departments were fully aware of the situation but did nothing to stop it.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 2 May 2022: Sand a strategic resource like water, rethink its exploitation: UN

A United Nations report released this week on Apr 26, 2022 has recommended that river sand needs to be considered by the governments as a strategic resource like water for its multiple roles in the environment and its extraction and use needs to be rethought. The UNEP report says sand is the second most exploited resource. And yet there are no credible governance guidelines or policies for the exploitation and use of this report, nor assessment of impact of unsustainable exploitation.

The report says: “Extracting sand where it plays an active role, such as rivers, and coastal or marine ecosystems, can lead to erosion, salination of aquifers, loss of protection against storm surges and impacts on biodiversity, which pose a threat to livelihoods through, among other things, water supply, food production, fisheries, or to the tourism industry.”

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Dams · Ganga

11 Gangetic Dolphins Found Dead since Jan 2021

Despite being declared National Aquatic Animal and provided highest level of protection under schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, there are frequent incidents causing unnatural deaths to Gangetic river dolphins (Platanista Gangetica) in India.  

Previously SANDRP documented deaths for 10 Gangetic dolphins due to man-made reasons including getting trapped in canals, fishing nets and hunting during 2020. Here we are tracking the issue January 2021 onwards.

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Ramganga

उत्तराखंड: सड़क मलबे में दफन होती रामगंगा की धाराएं

यह सचित्र रिपोर्ट इस बात पर प्रकाश डालती है कि कैसे उत्तराखंड में ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में सड़क निर्माण दौरान उत्तपन्न मलबे को नियमों के विपरीत छोटी जलधाराओं, गदेरों में फेंक दिया जाता है जो नदी पर्यावरण तंत्र को तात्कालिक तौर पर नुकसान पहुँचाने के अलावा भविष्य में किसी बड़ी आपदा का कारक भी बन सकती है।  

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 25 April 2022: Bad news for dams: Vyasi, Renuka, Parbati, Betwa, Ken Betwa, Ganga waterways, Hydropower false climate solutions…

This week seems to have brought rather too many bad news for big dams in India, it seems. The Vyasi hydropower project on Yamuna river in Uttarakhand, inaugurated by the Prime Minister Shri Modi in Dec 2021, is facing plethora of problems even before its formal commissioning, including scarcity of water, mass fish death, displacement without rehabilitation of people, among others.

In Himachal Pradesh, the stage-1 forest clearance of the Renuka dam, whose foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister Shri Modi on Dec 28, 2021, has lapsed, 12.5 years after it was given. Now the project need to restart the whole clearance process. There is also news of massive leakage of water and silt collapse in Parbati 2 project in HP.

In Betwa basin, an exasperated Jal Shakti Minister has ordered n inquiry into the Dam project. This, while the Ken Betwa project that the Union Govt has been desperate in pushing, still does not have crucial clearances.

A well researched article by Avli Verma shows that the Ganga waterways project does not have environment clearance, nor environment impact assessment even as the National Green Tribunal has adjourned the hearing demanding that for FOURTEEN times even as Union Environment Ministry quietly sits on the issue.

And finally, sound analysis by international experts lists ten reasons why hydropower is a false climate solution. It may be good idea to take a pause on these big dams, hydropower projects and other river affecting projects and rather take stoke of the way we are governing our rivers and these projects?

Continue reading “DRP NB 25 April 2022: Bad news for dams: Vyasi, Renuka, Parbati, Betwa, Ken Betwa, Ganga waterways, Hydropower false climate solutions…”
Rainfall

Normal Rains Forecast for India’s SW Monsoon 2022

India Meteorological Department (IMD) has in their first forecast for India’s crucial South West Monsoon (June-Sept) 2022 has forecast[i] that India will receive 99% of Long Period Average (LPA) rain with a model error of +/- 5%. This means that IMD has forecast on April 14, 2022 that India is likely to get normal rainfall (96% to 104% of LPA) rains for the fourth consecutive year. IMD says that currently La Nina conditions are prevailing and are likely to continue during the monsoon.

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Sand Mining

India Sand Mining: Violence & Accidents Killed 418 People in 16 Months 

(Feature Image: SDRF personnel with dead body of a man who died after drowning in a deep pit created by illegal mining in Malan river, Kotdwar in July 2021. Image Source: ETV Bharat)

In addition to destruction of rivers eco-system and disruption of environmental services to riparian communities, the illegal and unsustainable sand mining practices in India have also been causing avoidable violence and accidents resulting in scores of human deaths and injuries on annual basis. However, there is no comprehensive picture emerging on this man made disaster. To fill the gap, SANDRP has been trying to compile available information on human toll from river bed mining activities across the country since last few years.

Tracking the issue, this year we have prepared detailed accounts along with summary reports in a zone wise manner for North, East, West and South zones covering sand mining violence and accidents from December 2020 to March 2022. On the basis of these zonal reports, this account sums up national level situation.

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