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” →
(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” →
(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” →
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” →
The border areas of Pithoragarh witnessed large scale destruction[i] following series of disasters on August 30, 2021 night. The event[ii] unfolded after unprecedented rainfall in the region causing flash floods in local streams and Kali River also known as Sarda. The affected areas included villages in Darchula district of Nepal located across Kali River which forms natural boundary here between India and Nepal.
Continue reading “Uttarakhand: Disaster around NHPC’s Dhauliganga Hydropower project” →
On August 25-27, 2021 the most of hilly districts in Uttarakhand witnessed intense rainfall events causing widespread destruction. Media reports and local people suggest at least seven cloud burst incidents occurring in quick succession over Binhar range in Pacchawadoon and Mussoorie hills dividing Ganga and Yamuna basins in Dehradun district. The resultant deluge has also affected the under construction Vyasi Hydro Electric Project (HEP) areas in Vikas Nagar tehsil highlighting that the project is unprepared to cope with existing & emerging disasters.
Continue reading “Uttarakhand 2021: Cloud Bursts around Vyasi HEP” →
Water mills, also known as gharat have been serving native communities in hills of Uttarakhand possibly for hundreds of years. Till a few decades back, the indigenously developed technique was only source of crushing variety of grains to produce flour. The symbols of ancient wisdom have been mostly lying in ruins in Chauthan patti (belt). This account explores reasons behind the gradual desertion of gharat culture which was once indispensable part of the local community there.
Continue reading “Gharat: Traditional wisdom seeking community care, govt support” →
Consider some basic facts: A specialized agency, National Water Development Agency (NWDA), was set up four decades ago to work only on Inter Linking of Rivers (ILR) projects, but even first project of the grand ILR plan is yet to take off to implementation as envisaged in ILR plan. In fact, NWDA is not confident of putting any of the thousands of reports produced by it in public domain, it knows they won’t stand to public scrutiny.
Continue reading “Forget ILR pipedream, let us pray for smaller places of worship” →
(Feature image: NDRF personnel carry out rescue and restoration work at damaged Tapovan Vishnugad barrage after the massive flash flood. PTI/Arun Sharma)
Consider these facts: The NTPC, the project developer, failed to appraise that the 520 MW Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower project, where maximum damage and deaths occurred in Chamoli Avalanche disaster that started on Feb 7, 2021 morning, is in Paraglacial influence zone. Such an appraisal would have meant a number of implications, including possibly a decision that the project is geologically unviable.
NTPC failed to take any action to save the workers even after it was known upto 10-20 minutes before the disaster struck. Something that Mangshri Devi could do to save about 25 lives, NTPC could not do.
The project had faced several disasters since 2008, but fails to put in early warning system in place. For several days post disaster, reports say that NTPC failed to share even the detailed map of the tunnel where over 30 workers were stuck. NTPC’s disaster management system showed no signs of existence throughout the disaster. Reports say that the barrage gates were closed, which if they were open, it may have helped the flow of the flood debris downstream, which in turn could have possibly meant more time and saving of more lives.
Continue reading “DRP NB 22 Feb 2021: Case against NTPC for criminal negligence in Tapovan Project?” →
Several bridges, old and new crisscross over the rivers Mula and Mutha in Pune. Some of them are old and stately like the Lakdi Pul built over 250 years ago or the beautiful Shivaji Pul, while there are low ones like the Baba Bhide Bridge, which routinely gets submerged in the monsoons.
I try to walk across these bridges on most evenings.
Continue reading “Bridges of Pune and the People who Stop and See” →