Guest Article by S P Ravi
Kerala continues to witness unusual monsoon rainfall patterns for the third straight year in 2020. Kerala had witnessed its worst flood in almost a century in 2018. The 2019 flood was probably second only to the 2018 floods over the last 50 years, with many places experiencing larger floods than that in 2018. While the state did not face huge floods this year, tragedy struck in the form of the Pettimudi landslide near Munnar in Idukki district. It buried alive 70 members of plantation labourer families, making it the worst ever landslide in Kerala in terms of human causality. Kerala has also witnessed its wettest monsoon in September in this millennium with a rainfall of 601 mm, surpassing the previous highest of 526 mm recorded in 2007. The S-W monsoon period is now over and the state received 2227 mm rainfall, which is 9 percent above long term average.
Continue reading “Reservoir Operations Fail People in Chalakudy River Basin in Kerala in 2020”
A massive wave of flood is flowing down the rivers originating in Central India states from Odisha in East to Gujarat-Rajasthan in the west. At least fourteen river sites have seen breach of Highest Flood Levels (HFL) in last four days, a record by itself: 7 in Mahanadi, 5 in Godavari, 2 in JNarmada and one each in Suvarnarekha and Chambal. In at least four of these cases, the earlier HFL had survived for 26 years and has now been broken.
The flood wave that is traveling down is above above 35500 cumecs (12.54 lakh cusecs) in Narmada (at Indira Sagar Dam), above 25000 cumecs (8.83 lakh cusecs), in case of Mahanadi (at Hirakud Dam) and Godavari (at Gosikhurd Dam) rivers & over 15000 cumecs (5.3 lakh cusecs) in Chambal (at Gandhi Sagar Dam) River. Continue reading “Central India downpour brings unprecedented flows in Brahmani, Chambal, Godavari, Mahanadi, Narmada, Suvarnarekha”
In a rather unusual development, no less than twenty districts in contiguous areas of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat had extremely high rainfall in the 48 hours ending at 830 am on Aug 23, 2020. Three of these districts had over 250 mm rainfall in this period, four others had between 200-250 mm, six each between 150-200 and 100-150 and one between 90-100 mm. This contiguous area broadly drains Mahi river to the West, Chambal to the North, Narmada to the South and Betwa to the East. These rivers, thus are now getting heavy flows, and will continue to get for the next few days, some of it from Chambal and Betwa will also end up in Yamuna and Ganga. It reminded one of the nightmarish memories of Sept 2019 when Gandhi Sagar Dam faced existential crisis and the flood peak downstream reached upto Farakka Dam, as CWC Flood forecasting director Sharad Chandra said in a television discussion recently. Continue reading “Central India Heavy Downpour brings back nightmare memories of 2019 Chambal Scare”
In a landmark, trend setting judgement, the Ireland Supreme Court delivered an important ruling[i] on July 8, 2020 that the dam operator ESB (Electricity Supply Board, https://www.esb.ie/) was guilty of negligence concerning extensive flood damage to buildings on the campus of UCC.
UCC’s action over the damage is among about 400 sets of proceedings initiated against the ESB arising from the flooding. The finding of negligence by four of the five judges has implications for those cases, and wider implications for the ESB’s liability arising from its management of hydroelectric dams in the State. Aviva, UCC’s insurer sought €20m damages for losses at UCC, plus another €14m for losses suffered by other property owners. The Supreme Court had decided it should first determine whether the ESB had a liability.[ii] Continue reading “Ireland Supreme Court holds dam operator responsible for 2009 floods”
Guest Blog by Pradeep Purandare
SANDRP published my article entitled “Maharashtra Floods 2019: Don’t waste the crisis” on 26th May 2020.In that article I had explained the reasons behind my resignation from the Flood Study Committee. Exclusion of my chapter from the committee’s report was one of the reasons. Now, the said report is available in public domain & surprisingly enough, it includes my chapter; thanks to SANDRP!
In this note, I would like to draw the attention of all concerned towards the erroneous data, strange analysis & weird logic employed by the Vadnere Committee-2 in its report without discussing the serious issues in the committee meetings. Continue reading “Maharashtra Upper Krishna Basin Flood 2019 Vadnere Committee-2: A report with “difference”!”
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?”
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 May 7, 2020, a number of groups in Kerala wrote this letter to Kerala Chief Secretary on the important issue of Monsoon preparedness and Disaster Risk Reduction, with particular focus on Reservoir operations during Monsoon. This is an excellent initiative worth emulating by a lot of us in different states and at national level. Hence we are happy to Share this here with permission from the authors.
The South-West monsoon is scheduled to arrive at Kerala by around June 1st. Early predictions on the monsoon by different agencies including the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) suggest normal to above normal rainfall in India. The South-Western coast and adjoining regions are expected to get very good rainfall this year. It may be recalled that the state had to face extremely high-intensity rainfall incidents and consequent disasters in the last two years. Hence, the state needs to be well prepared to face any eventuality during the coming monsoon. The following concerns may be addressed and suggestions may be considered. Continue reading “Open Letter to Kerala Chief Secretary about Monsoon preparedness and disaster risk reduction”
Union Water Resources Minister Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has recently said that the snow this year on Himalayan peaks is the highest in 50 years, and reservoirs like Bhakra, Pong, Ranjit Sagar, Ramganga, Tehri, etc will receive very high water inflow from snowmelt during summer and SW Monsoon.[i] This is in fact the third warning this year on this issue. Earlier on Feb 27, 2020 and then again on May 4, 2020, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) provided the same warning to its partner states. However, neither the Union Minister & BBMB, nor the partner states seem ready or doing anything to prepare for the unprecedented situation that the dams and rivers may bring in ongoing summer and coming SW monsoon.
In fact the situation is similar to the one that happened twice at Bhakra-Pong-Ranjit Sagar Dams last year[ii]. Even then not only there were massive floods, but the water flowed away to Pakistan, totally against the declared pronouncements and policy of Indian Government leaders including the Prime Minister. Continue reading “Are we ready to use more water from snow melt in Indus basin this year?”
In a landmark judgment, the January 2011 Brisbane (Australia) floods class action decision was announced by the New South Wales[i] Supreme Court (Justice Robert Beech-Jones) on Nov 29, 2019[ii]. The court held[iii] the State of Queensland, Wivenhoe Dam operators and engineers responsible for inappropriate operation of the dam. It’s one of the largest ever class action suits of Australia and could cost the government millions of dollars. Continue reading “NSW Supreme Court holds dam operators responsible for Australia’s Brisbane 2011 floods”