Cloud Burst · Dams

Uttarakhand Cloud Burst 2022: Road Debris, Drainage Encroachment Magnify Destruction

For the past many years, cloud bursts have been emerging as a significant and reoccurring disaster in Himalayan region. The highly localized, intensive rainfall spell, consequent flash floods and landslides have been taking a heavy toll on human and infrastructure apart from impacting the landscape. SANDRP has been documenting such incidents particularly in North West Himalayan states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. This first part of 2022 tracks the ‘cloud burst’ incidents reported in Uttarakhand before and during SW monsoon 2022. SANDRP’s previous compilation and analysis on the issue for Uttarakhand can be seen here 2018[i], 2019[ii], 2020[iii], May 2021[iv] and 2021[v].

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CWC - Central Water Commission · Dams

India’s Rivers Breaching High Flood Levels in SW Monsoon 2022

(Feature Image: Hydrograph of River Godavari in extreme flood situation at Kaleswaram level forecast station in Bhupalpally district, Telangana on July 15, 2022. Source: CWC)

Highest Flood Level (HFL) breach incidents are important indicator of flood cycle and could also help in understanding the changing rainfall pattern. Though, with 925 mm rainfall[i], the south west monsoon season 2022 falls in normal category, its distribution both temporally and spatially has seen huge variations. This is also reflected by at least 57 HFL breach incidents in 8 river basin across the country during the SW Monsoon months of July-Sept 2022.

For past four years, SANDRP has been tracking the HFL breach incidents during pre-monsoon and monsoon months. The analysis of such HFL breaches in 2018[ii], 2019[iii] and 2020[iv], May-Sept 2021[v], Oct.-Nov 2021[vi] can be seen on our website. The pre-monsoon months of May and June 2022[vii] have also seen 5 HFL breach incidents. This report tracks the other HFL breach incidents taking place between July and September months.

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Dams · Madhya Pradesh · Rehabilitation

Legally enforceable Humane Rehabilitation, not compensation needed: Madikheda Dam in Madhya Pradesh

Guest Article by Bageshwer Singh and Pooja Chand

Dam construction on any river is often preceded by displacement of locals and followed by submergence of villages, turning them into ghost villages. All the major river water projects involve large scale displacement of locals, and most of these displacements lead to creation of vulnerable groups. The stories of displacement and forced evictions can be traced back to construction of dams like Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada, or Tehri Dam on Bhagirathi or Hirakud Dam on Mahanadi. Almost always, these displacements are rife with little insight into the village specific consequences of dam construction, villagers are left with no option but to give up on their ancestral lands to move out to alien colonies with no land to their name. Arundhati Roy, in her essay, ‘The greater common good’, while arriving at the figure of number of people displaced in the developmental projects in the last fifty years writes, “Fifty million people. I feel like someone who’s just stumbled on a mass grave.” 

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Dams · Free flowing rivers · Photo Feature

In Photos: People of the Free-Flowing Tirthan

River Tirthan, a tributary of the Beas in Himachal Pradesh is one of the rarest rivers in India. Not because it is teeming with trout, not because the tiny valley is home to nearly 100 species of butterflies, not because it has several functioning water mills running with flow of the river, but because it is protected by the Himachal Legislature as a perpetually free-flowing river: A No-Go River for Hydropower and other dam projects. Read about how it came to pass here: Muktadhara Tirthan (https://sandrp.in/2022/06/15/muktadhara-tirthan/)

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 120922: Decisive judicial action dire necessity for wetlands

( Feature Image:- Satish Acharya’s illustration on Bengaluru floods: Whose land is it anyway? 07 Sept. 2022)

The wetlands reports tell us a lot, but the key point is that decisive judicial action is necessary if our wetlands are to have any future. The directions of the Tamil Nadu High Court to geo reference all wetlands of Tamil Nadu, including small (Less than 2.25 ha area) is good beginning, but the court will need to ensure continuous monitoring and ensure implementation. Because the past shows that the government and other stakeholders have collectively failed to take any decisive action to save our wetlands. The disastrous results are evident at so many places, this week it is most clear from the flooding of Bangalore, mainly due to encroachment of lakes, wetlands, water channels and their catchments.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 050922: Corruption in Large Dams & pro dam media Mughals

(Feature Image: Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river. Source: Central Water Commission 30.08.2022)

As this article on corruption in large dams in India shows, it is open secret that large dams involve massive corruption, kickbacks and political funding. But the politicians from PM downwards across the party lines have understandably no interest in this issue.

But unfortunately, the large dams-corruption is not limited to politicians. The corruption in various forms plague even the media Mughals like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyer and Shekhar Gupta, both known for their fundamentalist pro dam views. They too have no  interest in corruption in large dams. In fact some of them have no qualms accepting sponsorships of dam contractors for their media awards! They are however, ever ready to criticize Narmada Bachao Andolan and Medha Patkar, though they have no clue about the issues they are talking about and keep using some flawed study whose reply (by Nandini Oza and Shripad Dharmadhikary) is already out in public domain. It is interesting that they have launched this fresh attack on dam critics just when Gujarat Chief Minister and country’s Home Minister have also launched attack on the NBA. Neither Gujarat CM, PM or HM is replying as to why Kutch, the main justification for Gujarat getting disproportionate share of Narmada waters, were the last to get their share of the water (even now not fully as the canal distribution system is still incomplete), almost two decades after the water rich Central Gujarat started getting Narmada waters. Nor are the pro dam media Mughals bothered about this.

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Dams · Yamuna River

August 2022: Yamuna flood reclaims encroached floodplains in Delhi

(Feature Image: RMC plants located in active floodplain of Yamuna at Noida More submerged in flood water on Aug. 13, 2022. Image Credit:- Vikrant Tongad, SAFE)

A much awaited flood spell has flowed through Delhi during August 13-14, 2022. It came after more than two months of south west monsoon. Usually by this time, Yamuna river would have witnessed two or three flood spells in national capital lending a fresh lease of life to one of the most polluted rivers of India.

The small scale flood spell in the river has invaded parts of floodplains under abuse and encroachment by government agencies in open defiance of National Green Tribunal (NGT) January 13, 2015 judgement[i]. Apart from this flood, Delhi stretch of the river has witnessed few more abnormal events in this monsoon season so far.

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Chenab · Dams

August 2022: Flash flood debris block Chenab flow in Lahual, Himachal Pradesh

(Feature image: Video grab of artificial lake on Chenab river. Source Weatherman Shubham @shubhamtorres09, Twitter, Aug. 16, 2022)

Debris brought by flash flood in Jahlma nullah blocked[i] the flows of Chenab (Chandrabhaga) river for about 6 hours in Udaipur tehsil of Lahual and Spiti district, Himachal Pradesh forming a huge lake. The incident occurred following heavy rainfall on August 15, 2022 night.

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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.

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