Dams

DRP NB 150822: CWC accepts faulty operation of dams can lead to floods

(Feature Image:- Cauvery water flows to the brim at the Amma Mandapam padithurai in Srirangam, after discharge of waters from the Mettur dam at Tiruchi on Friday Aug. 05, 2022. Photos: M. Moorthy/@THChennai)

In a major development, the Union Jal Shakti Minister and Central Water Commission (CWC) has accepted that faulty operation of dams can lead to floods. SANDRP has been at the forefront of pointing this reality for more than a decade and a half and authorities were in denial till recently. So this acknowledgement that came through a statement in Parliament by Union Minister of state for Jal Shakti on Aug 8, 2022, as reported by PIB (Press Information Bureau) Press Release. One hopes this is only the first step that will ultimately ensure that dams are operated in a optimal, completely transparent way to reduce the flood risks in the downstream area to the maximum possible extent and where this does not happen, there is accountability.

Unfortunately, as the same PR noted, no data on flooding caused by faulty operations of reservoirs are maintained centrally. In fact such data is not available with any official agencies anywhere in India. This needs to be corrected urgently. It is also necessary to define the norms of safe operation of dams and to ensure that all the relevant information in this regard is put up in public domain on daily basis for each dam in India. Similarly for each dam, rule curves should be updated and put in public domain so that everyone can see if the dam is operating according to rule curve or not. At the end of each monsoon, a credible independent review should be undertaken to see where we have faltered, who are responsible and what corrective measures are required.

Continue reading DRP NB 150822: CWC accepts faulty operation of dams can lead to floods
CWC - Central Water Commission · Dams

2022: CWC Flood Monitoring Sites in North India

(Feature image: Bar Chart showing number of Level Forecast/Monitoring, Inflow Forecast sites in North Indian States & UTs)

Continuing analysis of Central Water Commission’s flood forecast website, SANDRP presents the details of flood monitoring sites in North Indian states comprising Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Delhi and states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Before this, we have prepared similar critical reports and highlighted problematic issues in flood monitoring sites in North India in 2018, 2019 and 2020.   

Continue reading 2022: CWC Flood Monitoring Sites in North India
Beas · Dams · Environment · Environment Impact Assessment · Environmental Flow · Fish · Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk · Free flowing rivers · Gharat · Himachal Pradesh · Hydropower · Rivers

Muktadhara Tirthan

How one fish and many people saved a river

“Hark! What is that? What is that sound? It is laughter, bubbling up from the heart of the darkness. It is the sound of water! There is no doubt. The water of Muktadhara is free!”

As I stepped on the wooden slats across the joyously gurgling Tirthan River, I remembered Rabindranath Tagore’s lines from his first play, Muktadhara (Free-flowing). I was in the Himalayas to listen to the story of Tirthan, a Muktadhara in her own right! Tirthan is the rarest, possibly the only river valley in India to be declared as a “No-Go Valley” for hydropower or dam development, protected in perpetuity.

Continue reading Muktadhara Tirthan
Dams

DRP NB 060622: NDMA says not to rely on hydropower, Central lobby pushes disaster called Etalin HEP

(Feature Image:-Damaged Tapovan hydel project tunnel, after glacier burst in Joshimath causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river, in Chamoli. PTI/HT)

It is good to see the report of the National Disaster Management Authority, incidentally chaired by the Prime Minister of India mincing no words regarding the Chamoli disaster of 2021, holding the hydropower project authorities (again basically central agencies including Ministry of Environment and Forests, Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority and also NDMA itself), district disaster administration and lack of early warning systems.

The stark conclusion of the NDMA that the government needs to pursue alternative sources of Energy rather than the hydropower. Projects in what it calls environmentally fragile area has many implications, but the first one is to stop pursuing more hydropower projects all across the Himalayas. However in the same week we also get the reports that the central government, pushed by vested interests of hydropower lobby, is going for clearing the disastrous Etalin Hydropower project in Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh in North East India. The Forest Advisory Committee of the same MoEF is indulging in all kinds of manipulations to clear the Etalin project.

Continue reading DRP NB 060622: NDMA says not to rely on hydropower, Central lobby pushes disaster called Etalin HEP
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.

Continue reading “11 Gangetic Dolphins Found Dead since Jan 2021”
Dams

My Top Ten River Songs from USA

Guest Article by: Lori Udall

Loneliness, heartache, longing, travel, prayer, hardship, wonder, love, death, beauty… it’s all there in songs about rivers. Humans and rivers are intrinsically and eternally interlinked as is embedded in these songs, old and new.  Our relationships with rivers span the ages and underscores the timelessness of rivers, and the livelihoods that depend on them. This article provides a collection of my top ten of the best-known river songs from USA (and one from Jamaica).  I hope the songs have an appeal to river lovers across the globe.

Continue reading “My Top Ten River Songs from USA”
Dams · Narmada · Rivers

Narmada and Rappahannock: A Tale of Two Rivers

Guest Article by Lori Udall

When I think back on my work in India in the late 1980s and early 90s, my memory takes me most often to the Narmada River and Manibeli, the first Adivasi village in Maharashtra to be submerged by the Sardar Sarovar dam.  The storied Narmada, with its Hindu temples, landscapes, the mystical parikramas and distinct voice will be forever stored in my soul. As an activist who tracked World Bank development projects in India, I worked with Narmada Bachao Andolan.  As I travelled on or near the Narmada, I documented the resettlement issues facing the Adavasi and other oustees and sent reports back to the World Bank and U.S. Congress.

Continue reading “Narmada and Rappahannock: A Tale of Two Rivers”
Dams · Sand Mining

East India: 58 govt officials survived sand mafia attacks since Dec. 2020

(Feature image:- DC Srivastava, SDPO Banka district, Bihar injured in sand mafia attack in Oct. 2019 (Dainik Jagran). The same official has again faced lethal attack by sand mafia in Jan. 2022.)

In 16 months between Dec 2020 and March 2022, states in East India saw sand mafias attacking at least 58 government officials. In addition to this, at least 137 have died and 156 suffered injuries on account of riverbed mining and transportation activities during this period in this zone.

This report tracks human toll of excessive, unlawful riverbed mining excavation and transportation activities in East Indian States of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh during December 2020 and March 2022. It also documents some sand mining related fatalities in North East states of Assam and Manipur in this period.

This is a summary report of a more detailed file attached here. The first part covering the sand mining violence and accidents in North India during the same period can be seen here. The following parts would cover the West and South Zone.

Continue reading “East India: 58 govt officials survived sand mafia attacks since Dec. 2020”
Dams

Rivers that crossed Highest Flood Level in Monsoon 2021

(Feature image River Betwa in flood spate on Aug. 4, 2021. Source: Sharad Chandra, Director, CWC)

While India has received 874.6 mm rainfall which falls in normal[i] category in just concluded south west monsoon season, there have been at least 27 incidents of rivers crossing the Highest Flood Levels (HFLs) ever recorded in the past and attaining new HFLs in 5 river basins (some composite basins) in India, as recorded by the Central Water Commission (CWC) Flood Forecasting site[ii] during the monsoon.

The maximum 12 such instances have taken place in Ganga basin followed by 6 in west flowing rivers Tapi to Tadri basin, 5 in Godavari, 2 in West Flowing rivers Tadri to Kanyakumari basin and 1 each in Subernarekha and Tapi basin.

For past three years, SANDRP has been tracking the HFL breach incidents during monsoon season. The analysis of such HFL breaches in 2018[iii], 2019[iv] and 2020[v] can be seen on our website.

Continue reading “Rivers that crossed Highest Flood Level in Monsoon 2021”
Dams

A day along the Goula River in Haldwani

This blog highlights the present day situation of Gaula river in Haldwani (Uttarakhand). The river is water lifeline of Haldwani. However, it lacks adequate flow during lean season, facing excessive riverbed mining for past several years. Large parts of its floodplain & riverbed have been encroached upon and it has become a dumping ground for solid and liquid waste.

The demand for potable water, riverbed material is on steep rise. There is absence of policy or other measures regarding flows, floodplain protection, sustainable mining and proper waste disposal. The ongoing practices of waste disposal and treatment steps are making river degradation and destruction inevitable.

Continue reading “A day along the Goula River in Haldwani”