Guest Article: Steve Lockett, Mahseer Trust
(Above: Teesta-Mahananda Link Canal, part of a water-use strategy that seems broken. Copyright: Adrian Pinder, Mahseer Trust)
Rivers change course, it is part of their being. A river changing course can bring unexpected or unwanted ramifications. Sometimes they can be quite devastating. But when they come as a result of deliberate actions to alter the river’s course how can we expect people, whole communities or wildlife to cope?
The Teesta river was previously a tributary of the Ganges then it shifted to join Brahmaputra in 1787. As with many rivers of the Ganges – Brahmaputra – Meghna basins, wholesale shifts are commonplace and to a large extent, people and wildlife have adapted to live with these hydrological movements. But when humans engineer rivers to force them to change course, expect them to bite back.
Continue reading “Changing Course: Teesta Mahananda Rivers in North Bengal” →
(Feature Image: Breach in GGSSTP micro hydel canal on April 26, 2023. Image by The Tribune)
A sudden breach in a micro hydel canal of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) has damaged standing wheat crops on hundreds of acres of land in Ranjitpura village of Ropar district, Punjab. The breached occurred near Batarla around 08:00 am on April 24, 2023.
Continue reading “April 2023: Breach in Micro Hydel Canal Damages crops in Punjab” →
(Feature Image: Construction works going on at Polavaram Dam site. Source: The Hans Media, May 2021)
This well substantiated report from Yale School of Environment this week shows that the end of the big dam era is approaching. The well argued report from Jacques Leslie uses the reports from UN University, International Renewable Energy Agency, Oxford University, Inclusive Development International, China, among others to show how the pace of construction of dams and hydropower projects and also pace of financing such projects have hugely reduced in recent years and decades.
Even the International Hydropower Association, sensing the change, is now advocating pump storage hydro rather than conventional hydro and that too off stream version, to complement the power from solar and wind. Emerging economics with rising cost of hydropower projects and rising cost of power from such projects compared to solar, wind (onshore and offshore) are a major reason for the massively slowing pace of new hydropower projects.
Continue reading “DRP NB 240423: The world is moving away from Big Dams: Are we?” →
(Feature Image: March 2022 Google Earth image showing excessive mechanized mining in Ken river at Chatkan meander in Banda)
Ken river one of the important tributaries of Yamuna in lower segment has been witnessing industrial scale riverbed mining in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh. The Sentinel Hub satellite images reveal the mechanized mining of morrum (light orange colour sand) has been going on unabated at multiple locations in the district. Recent local media reports have also highlighted the illegalities and violations of the rules by the miners.
The information on Directorate of Mining & Geology website shows that there are 50 sand mine sites in Banda district of which 36 sites are closed. The complete list of 50 closed and active sand mine sites in Banda can be seen here.
Continue reading “Uttar Pradesh: Ken River ravaged by Illegal Sand Miners in Banda” →
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has on April 11, 2023 forecast that rainfall at national level in four months of June-Sept 2023 Southwest Monsoon will be 96% of Long Period Average (LPA). IMD considers Indian Monsoon rainfall as normal based on just one parameter of total rainfall in these four months at national level is between 96% and 104% of LPA, with model error of +/- 5%. This raises large number of questions as media has rightly raised post the IMD announcement.
Firstly, in a strange turn of events, on April 12, an update jointly by US weather agencies under the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), contradicted a number of assumptions of IMD the previous day, including the period when El Nino will become active and probability of it being a strong event, both of which have a strong bearing on the Indian Monsoon in an adverse way. So the first question that arises is, did the IMD not have the benefit of the observations on April 11 based on which NOAA made the forecast very next day? Or was it an attempt at providing an unjustified feel good monsoon forecast? This question arises as in the past too questions have been raised about such attempts by IMD. This question also becomes important as only a day or two before IMD’s forecast, private forecaster had predicted that monsoon rainfall is likely to be deficient and not normal.
Continue reading “DRP NB 170423:Forecast of Indian SW Monsoon & definition of normal monsoon” →
Like Giri taal, the Drona Sagar (29.12’24 N & 78.58’15 E) is another lake in Kashipur town succumbing to official neglect. The circular water body is spread over about 3 hectare of land and is hardly 1.5 km away from Giri taal in south east direction.
In recent past, both the lakes were fed by a distributary canal originating from Tumria dam on Phika river in Ramganga basin. Presently the canal portion between these lakes has been replaced with giant RCC hume pipes and a RCC road has been laid over it. The inlet of the canal joining Drona Sagar has also been cemented.
Continue reading “Uttarakhand 2023: Drona Sagar another Neglected Lake of Kashipur” →
(Feature Image: Stagnant waste water pools amid residential plots in Kashipur, Uttarakhand, Bhim Singh Rawat 10 April 2023)
That India’s track record in water pollution control is abysmal is self-evident. This is particularly important to note as India prepares to mark 50 years of Water Pollution Control Act enacted in 1974, next year. It was after that act that the huge institutional architecture of central and state pollution control boards and laboratories were created with huge bureaucracy. That whole institutional architecture is more known for inefficiency and corruption than for achieving any clean rivers or cleaning other water bodies. During the existence of this act the bureaucracy that came with it, the state of our rivers and water bodies have only gone worse with every passing year.
Continue reading “DRP NB 100423: Abysmal track record of water pollution control in India” →
(Screengrab of India Today North East video report on landslide at Lower Subansiri HEP site on April 03, 2023)
The site of Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power (HEP) has witnessed another massive landslide on April 3, 2022. The 2000 MW project is being developed by NHPC Ltd at Gerukamukh bordering Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
As per North East India 24 report, the landslide triggered by rainfall has caused damage in the main part of the dam and the workers had to be evacuated to a safe place. No human casualty has been reported from the incident.
Continue reading “April 2023: Another Landslide at Lower Subansiri HEP” →
(Feature Image: Screen grab of Sikkim Spectators field visit video report interviewing landslide affected local people)
NHPC’s Teesta V HEP dam site has again witnessed a disastrous landslide. The incident occurred between 02:00 am and 03:00 am on Sunday, March 26, 2023 in Sokpay village area under Dikchu Zang block of Gangtok district. The same morning, Gyatso Lepcha of Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), Sikkim alerted SANDRP about the landslide.
Continue reading “Sikkim: Landslide near NHPC’s Teesta V dam in March 2023” →
(Feature photo above: “… But I go on forever” The pristine Ganga flowing through the mountains (Rishabh Gagneja, June 2021))
Guest Article by Anantaa Ghosh
The Ganga, often termed as the ‘River of Heaven’ has always been deemed as the purest and most sacred of all rivers. In the west, Ganga was believed to be Phison, a river flowing in Eden. The river has found its place in the works of several famous authors, including Kalidasa who describes the river in words of unique grace.
Then in familiar Alaka find rest,
Continue reading “The Eternal Ganga: A Journey Through Artistic Depictions of India’s Sacred River” →
Down whom the Ganges’ silken river swirls
Whose towers cling to her mountain lover’s breasts,
While clouds adorn her face like glossy curls.