Dams · Groundwater · USA

Sacred Origins: Spring Lake and San Marcos River of Texas

It was a freak accident. But it meant that I had to travel every week from Austin to Brooke Army Medical Center, some 75 miles away. These were not enjoyable trips and one of the solace was a sign on the highway:  “San Marcos River Recreational Areas: Turn Right”. I used to wonder what will happen if we actually turn right someday. A river with parks around it maybe? Or trails along a flowing river? The thought always made the journey slightly more palatable. Continue reading “Sacred Origins: Spring Lake and San Marcos River of Texas”

CAG Report · Dams · Groundwater · Irrigation · Ministry of Water Resources

AIBP: just a pack of unverifiable claims or worse?

Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) has been claiming that Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Program (AIBP) is a success story of Modi government and some media stories[i] are happy to uncritically report those claims. If we take a close, objective look at the MoWR website[ii], we gather that the claims of success is just that: claim of the ministry. There is no evidence available on the ministry’s website or in the media report that support such claims to show that additional irrigation has actually been achieved. Continue reading “AIBP: just a pack of unverifiable claims or worse?”

Dams · Delhi · DRP News Bulletin · Floods · Ganga · Groundwater

DRP News Bulletin 16 October 2017: New Groundwater Guidelines threat to India’s Water Lifeline

GROUND WATER

New Draft Guidelines designed to privatise & destroy Groundwater The Ministry of Water Resources of the Union Government has on Oct 11, 2017 (see notice: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/forms/List.aspx?lid=1180&Id=6) put up draft guidelines on Groundwater management in India (see draft Guidelines: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/writereaddata/guideline-NOC-CGWA.pdf), with comment period of 60 days. The comments are to be sent to: Member Secretary, Central Ground Water Authority, West Block-2, Wing 3 (Ground Floor), Sector 1, RK Puram, New Delhi – 110066, e-mail: cgwa@nic.in.

New Draft Groundwater guidelines designed to destroy groundwater further and open floodgates for privatisation of common property resource? “Groundwater is a common property resource and should be used for greater good. But these guidelines are not doing that. Groundwater governance and management should happen in a transparent, participatory and accountable way but that too is not happening through guidelines,” Thakkar said.

Explaining, Thakkar said that the guidelines are “trying to make a system wherein state or district level authorities will be giving NOCs but whether those authorities have capacity to give NOCs after understanding the implications is the question.” “The draft guidelines also take out the need to recharge groundwater. Present regulations say that you if you take out groundwater you need to put in recharge capacity but now they are saying that’s not necessary and are only seeking charges. These things will definitely lead to further destruction of groundwater,” he added. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/irx1jFCWMFjGJk82Z8VZ2O/Govt-proposes-new-guidelines-on-groundwater-usage-by-industr.html, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/oct/13/centre-proposes-water-conservation-fee-for-use-of-groundwater-1673480.html, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/oct/14/townships-with-gym-club-must-pay-water-fee-1673790.htmlhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/centre-proposes-nixing-recharge-requirement-for-industries-extracting-groundwater/story-kN3iPmO9m4MIoYkUX32n7I.html   Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 16 October 2017: New Groundwater Guidelines threat to India’s Water Lifeline”

Dams · Groundwater

Ground Water India 2016: Plethora of petitions, but no effective action

The year has seen many news reports about national and global water bottling brands abstracting groundwater without valid licenses. In the wake of severe drought, thermal power plants have been criticized for aggravating the water crisis. Reports have suggested that many new thermal power plants are proposed to be built in already water scarce regions. This brief report also covers some judicial orders on this subject.

Continue reading “Ground Water India 2016: Plethora of petitions, but no effective action”

Groundwater · Maharashtra

Maharashtra Farm Ponds: accelerating groundwater exploitation, rather than harvesting rain?

Farm ponds dotting the agricultural fields immediately grab your attention as you enter Hiwargaon Pawasa – a small village of about 1500 population in Sangamner Taluka of Ahmadnagar District. The village is located just off NH-50, the national highway connecting Pune and Nashik. Farm ponds start to appear as soon as you turn east from NH-50 (which broadly runs North South) to head towards Hiwargaon. Nearly every farm, small or big, has a plastic lined farm pond. Hiwargaon Pawasa village alone has some 300 odd farm ponds.

I am here to see how these small scale irrigation facilities now set to be implemented on massive scale through the country are performing on ground. Continue reading “Maharashtra Farm Ponds: accelerating groundwater exploitation, rather than harvesting rain?”

CGWB · Groundwater · Western Ghats

Many colors of groundwater in a tiny Western Ghats village

“Konkan” is the narrow strip of land encompassing coastlines, estuaries, lateritic plateaus, foothills of Western Ghats and dense forests, which runs from Maharashtra to Goa. It is bound by the Arabian Sea to its west and the mighty Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) to its east. The isolated region has a distinct and rich culture of folklore, performing arts, music, literature, culinary art, with subtle changes from north to south. The region receives heavy rainfall of about 2500-3500 mm in summer monsoons, with the lofty Sahyadri ranges blocking the moisture-laden clouds. 

The rivers in the region are as spectacular: gushing and gurgling over steep hilly paths and meeting the Arabian Sea in just about 100-150 kilometers from their origin in the Western Ghats. The steep and hilly terrain makes it difficult to build large dams, (though we keep trying unsuccessfully as can be seen here: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/large-dams-in-konkan-western-ghats-costs-benefits-and-impacts/) and water resource managers never fail to point out that of the total yield of rivers in Maharashtra, 45% is from of the West-flowing rives of Konkan!

Having said that, the tempestuous nature of rives, rocky terrain and steep slopes mean that rives dry up as fast as they swell. The lifeline here is not surface water, but groundwater…Groundwater that emerges from springs as the predominant porous laterite rock meets a layer of clay..or dug wells…or unique water harvesting structures crafted by local communities. 

Here is a glimpse of some such structures…to appreciate not only the utility and appropriateness, but beauty of small, local structures and traditional wisdom. Also important to note is the diversity and independence of water management in Konkan: as in India..where communities own, maintain and manage their own water. There is a special kind of power and magic in this independence. Continue reading “Many colors of groundwater in a tiny Western Ghats village”

CGWB · Groundwater

Submission to Mihir Shah Committee For Restructuring of CWC & CGWB

It is proposed that the current CWC and CGWB should be reconstituted along following lines. Encouraged by communication from the committee and MoWR that the suggestions need not be limited by the TORs since TORs are also extendable, I have proposed a new institutional structure that is different than the current one. A brief outline of this was presented at the 6th meeting of Mihir Shah headed committee on Jan 11, 2016, it is elaborated here further. Continue reading “Submission to Mihir Shah Committee For Restructuring of CWC & CGWB”

Agriculture · Dams · Groundwater · Interlinking of RIvers · Krishna River · Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s Water Sector in 2015: Did anything change with the government?

Above: A huge protest march against water release to Marathwada Photo: Zee 24 Taas

In 2015, with the change in the ruling party after 15 long years, Maharashtra had a massive opportunity to break free from the crisis-ridden and scam-ridden image of its water sector. Water and dams have been central behind the embarrassing loss of Congress-NCP government in the 2014 Loksabha elections. But could the ruling BJP government actually deliver such a “Paradigm Shift” as it likes to call it? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for the state that is facing not only management scams, but repeated droughts and extreme weather events?

We try to review happenings around water, dams and rivers in Maharashtra for the past year 2015 and to look for a possible direction where the sector is heading, trying to fathom what it holds for the rivers and the people of the state. Continue reading “Maharashtra’s Water Sector in 2015: Did anything change with the government?”

Dams · Groundwater · Marathwada

Beautiful but Dry: Dug-Wells of Marathwada in the times of drought

I was looking at a piece of blue sky, from the insides of a step-well. The well was stunning. Perfect. An example of appropriate technology which blended with its surroundings while enhancing it. “This is beautiful” I exclaimed as I climbed up, exhibiting all my city-bred exuberance. An old lady sunning herself next to the well looked at me with sad eyes.  “Yes. But a well is not a well without water. This well has not seen water for the past two years.” 

Wells in Marathwada, like the region itself, are beautiful and poignant. Marathwada’s dry wells are also a reminder of the mistakes we’ve committed, of how we’ve plundered with what we have or had. Continue reading “Beautiful but Dry: Dug-Wells of Marathwada in the times of drought”

Groundwater · Maharashtra

Maharashtra Groundwater Authority: Can it save the state from deep trouble?

(Photo from Outlook)

Harischandra Yerme from Latur (Maharashtra) sunk not one or two but 60 borewells in his field in Marathwada in the hope of finding water for his orchard. None of these 60 borewells yield water today. Mr. Yerme has taken on himself the task of educating farmers in his region that there is no sense in growing an orchard on bore wells: the supply may dry up at any moment, resulting in huge losses. He told me, “We don’t even consider 250 feet borewells now, all bores are at least 700-800 feet deep and even then they don’t work.” Marathwada is reportedly drilling as many as 10,000 borewells[1] per month in this drought: a boom that is sustained by the “boring mafia” from Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu using travelling rigs… In as many as 247 villages of Marathwada, the draft has exceeded recharge to such an extent that the aquifer has literally gone dry.. Water in villages is plummeting even by 7 meters of the 5 years average.[2] The density of borewells is so high that is villages near Tasagaon, a 40-50 square kilometer area has more than 210 deep bore wells. Officials from GSDA tell SANDRP of multiple instances where farmers only lose money in the hope of going deeper for groundwater, deeper than 800-900 feet. The landscape is likened to a “Chaalan”: a sieve in Marathi, but also several gunshot wounds.. Continue reading “Maharashtra Groundwater Authority: Can it save the state from deep trouble?”