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”
The South West Monsoon in 2019 in India brought the highest rainfall of last 25 years and issues related to heavy rainfall continue even to the end of October 2019. Here we have listed major instances during the monsoon when there were question marks over safety of dams either due to structural safety or due to wrong operations of the dams. Some issues of breaches of embankments/ canals are also included here. As we can see, the instances come from across the country, including North East, North, West, Centre, South.
Flood-hit districts of Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara are leading agri-producers in Maharashtra. They are also the historic sugarcane growing regions of the state. Assured water availability and rich soils have made these regions prosperous cultivators of sugarcane, grapes, bananas, groundnuts and other oilseeds like soybeans and also vegetables. Continue reading “Impacts on cropland: 2019 Maharashtra Floods”
Its not everyday that Government of India’s National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) meets. It’s even rarer when the NCMC meets to deal with issues related to a dam. And that too on a Sunday.
The National Crisis So when on Sunday, Sept 15, 2019, the Cabinet Secretary chaired the NCMC meeting[i] to discuss the issues surrounding the Gandhi Sagar Dam on Chambal river in Madhya Pradesh (close to Rajasthan border) and called it a National Crisis, it signified how serious was the situation. Continue reading “Man made National Crisis at Gandhi Sagar Dam in Sept 2019”
The New Indian Express published a most remarkable report on Aug 24, 2019[i]. It said, among other things: “The district administration of Uttara Kannada will seek an inquiry report from the managing director of Karnataka Power Corporation Limited on untimely release of water from Kadra dam to Kali River, which caused flood in Kadra, Mallapur, Kaiga township, Hanakon, Kharge Jooga island, Kinnar, Siddar, Vailawada and many villages in Karwar taluk in the first week of August. 5,000 people from these villages were shifted to rehabilitation centres in Karwar and other villages. Half of the Kaiga township was inundated and employees of Kaiga Atomic Power Station had to use boats to reach the nuclear power plants… The district administration was not informed about the increasing inflow into Kadra dam and outflow into the river. Finally, DC Harish Kumar K, ZP CEO M Roshan and then SP Vinayak Patil camped in Kadra and took over the control of the dam due to the failure of dam officials. They managed the outflow of the dam for a couple of days. Deputy Commissioner Harish Kumar K said the district administration will write to KPCL MD seeking an inquiry on water released from dams to Kali river.” Continue reading “Unprecedented Dam flood situation in Uttara Kannada in Aug 2019”
On Aug 16, 2019, a news report[i] announced that Pune IMD (India Meteorological Department) will now (from Aug 1, 2019) provide to CWC (Central Water Commission) forecasts of water volume that may accumulate in river basins across the India “In a bid to ensure effective reservoir management.”
Pulak Guhathakurta, head, Climate Application and User Interface at Climate Research and Service at IMD-Pune was quoted saying, “We will make use of our forecasts and rainfall information to calculate the total volume of water expected to accumulate in every river basin and sub-river basin on the basis of its area expanse. This information will then be shared with CWC and other authorities, like the department of irrigation. It will be handy and can be decisive while deciding the release of water from time to time, especially during the monsoon.” This statement again emphasised that this was being done to help reservoir management. The news report than mentioned the Kerala floods in 2018 and role of dams therein. Continue reading “IMD forecast of Water Volume in River Basins: Can it help prevent Dam floods?”
Belagavi district (earlier known as Belgaum) in Northern Karnataka is the worst affected among the Krishna Basin Flood affected districts in August 2019. As the state Chief Minister and Union Home Minister visit the area to take stock of the situation, it would help to understand the reasons for these unprecedented floods. Continue reading “Aug 2019 Krishna Basin floods in Karnataka & the Role of Dams”
Krishna River Basin is in for worst floods than the previous big flood of August 2005. Already at eight sites, the water level has already crossed the previous HFL – Highest Flood Level recorded by CWC (Central Water Commission), at four sites each in Maharashtra and Karnataka, almost all on different tributaries. Continue reading “Aug 2019 Krishna Basin Floods in Maharashtra – Karnataka: How dams harming rather than helping”
Late that night of July 2, shouts of “Dharan Futla, Dharan Futla” (The dam has breached!) saved the already-scared 62 year old Narayan Gaikwad and his family, as the family ran to nearby hill[i]. Tivare Dam (Longitude: 73° 42′ 0″; Latitude: 17° 36′ 0″ as per CWC’s National Register of Large Dams), across a rivulet in the Vashishthi Basin of coastal Maharashtra breached around 9.30 pm on July 2, 2019, taking 24 men, women and children with its fury.
But how many and how much of Maharashtra would be saved considering the fact that Maharashtra has India’s highest number of large dams, BY FAR? And especially considering the serious questions this episode is raising about the absolute lack of accountability of the government dam establishment.
These questions become pertinent for Konkan region of Maharashtra, where Tivare was located as this region faces highest rainfalls in the state, steepest slopes and is tainted with several incomplete, illegal, inefficient dams which are posing a risk to humans and environment. SANDRP had published a report on incomplete and illegal dams in Konkan region 3 years back[ii]. High Court, SIT Committee Report headed by Madhavrao Chitale and even CAG [iii]had singled out dams in Konkan for their inefficiency and violations at multiple levels. The situation remains the same till date. Experts and past dam bureaucrats put on record that conventional dams-and-canals approach does not work in the steep and hilly region of Konkan. Quality assurance of dams is nearly nonexistent, lighter soils are used in dam cores and even after doing all this, displacing thousands of people and submerging Western Ghats forests, “Area irrigated by Konkan dams may be less than the area submerged by them”[iv] Continue reading “Tivare Dam Disaster: Surviving in the State with maximum dams”
The tendency of filling up reservoirs in the beginning and middle of monsoon season have been leading to avoidable flood disasters in the country. Apart from Kerala flood 2018, which was aggravated by mismanagement of reservoirs, various reports show that reservoirs in river basin of Cauvery, Krishna, Godavari and Ganga were also filled up well before the end of South West monsoon season. Resultantly there were many man made flood spells in downstream areas affecting lives and livelihoods of people.
After highlighting role of dams in floods in Kerala and how improper dam operation affected people in Assam and Himachal Pradesh, this third and concluding part throws light on other dam induced flood (and canal breach) incidents in 2018. Continue reading “Dams Floods 2018: Filling up Dams well before Monsoon end, Invitation to Disaster”