Assam · Dam Safety

Major disaster at Kopili Dam of NEEPCO in Assam

The 275 MW Kopili Dam Power House of NEEPCO (North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited, a Union Ministry of Power Underaking) in Assam suffered major disaster on Oct 7, 2019. The penstock pipe that takes water from the Umrangso dam to the hydropower house burst during early hours in Assam’s Dima Hasao (earlier called North Cachar Hill) district, and massive quantity of water erupted, a lot of it entered the power house, where four employees of NEEPCO are feared to have been trapped/ washed away[i]. A large portion of the Kopili Hydro Electric Plant was also inundated and a temporary bridge was also washed away[ii]. Some videos of the situation are also available.[iii] Continue reading “Major disaster at Kopili Dam of NEEPCO in Assam”

Dams · Disasters · Floods · Krishna River · Maharashtra · Rainfall · Western Ghats

Homes in Deluge: Aftermath of Maharashtra Floods 2019

Photo-blog 1

August 2019 Floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts of Maharashtra have been historic. River levels washed away all  past records many times over. New High Flood Levels (HFL) were reached multiple times at multiple places both in Sangli and Kolhapur. These districts, which form the fertile Black Cotton Soil belt of Maharashtra, are the floodplains of mighty rivers of the Krishna Basin: Krishna, Koyna, Warna, Panchaganga, Tarli, Urmodi, Dudhganga, Hiranyakeshi etc.

On the 8th August, Krishna breached its HFL: Highest Flood Level at two places in Maharashtra (Kurundwad and Arjunwad). On the same day, Warna and Panchaganga too crossed their HFLs at two places: Samdoli and Terwad (Kolhapur). Continue reading “Homes in Deluge: Aftermath of Maharashtra Floods 2019”

Dam floods · Kali River · Karnataka

Unprecedented Dam flood situation in Uttara Kannada in Aug 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”

Groundwater · Maharashtra

Groundwater & the tragedy of the commons in Marathwada

Guest Blog by Kalyani Thatte

“Our borewells are drying up fast. We have reached to 400-450 ft deep but it is futile most of the times. There are very few wells that are having water throughout the year. The water levels are dropping every year. Tankers are regular in summers. We are not even able to take a Kharif crop at times as it hardly rains and that too when it is required for the standing crops”, this was the narrative told in the first village named Zinnar in Osmanabad. However as I travelled through different villages in different blocks of the district and later on to the districts of Ahmednagar, Solapur, Nashik, Jalgaon, the narratives remained more or less the same. The only change was the names of the villages.

This year (2019), the rainfall was deficient, the monsoon was erratic. But this narrative has been similar for many years. Especially from last 8-10 years the intensity of such narratives is increasing. These narratives made me realise that what is happening is something that is not in our hands. However it also brought forth the factors which are in our hands and which are thanks to ruthless exploitation, are worsening the situation. Continue reading “Groundwater & the tragedy of the commons in Marathwada”

Dams · Godavari · Interlinking of RIvers · Maharashtra

From thirsty Tribal areas to Industries: Travesty of Intrabasin Transfers in Maharashtra

Above: Tribal women fetch water from a well which was supplied by the government tankers at a village in Mokhada, April 2019. This is the “Surplus” region which is supposed to transfer water to Sinnar as per the Damanganga-Upper Vaitarna-Godavari Link. Photo: PTI

Maharashtra Government is aggressively pushing Intrastate River water transfers from West flowing rivers into Godavari and Tapi Basins. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has tried to package these transfers as “Diverting water from Konkan to Drought Affected Marathwada”. This can be an eye candy for majority population, if we do not look at the details of these destructive projects.

One of the first projects coming for Stage I Environmental Clearance is about transferring water from Damanganga and Upper Vaiatarna Basins into Kadve Dam in Godavari Basin and from there to Dev Nadi in Sinnar, to provide water to Sinnar. The project, costing Rs 2700 Crores, will displace more than 4000 people, mainly tribals, submerge 8 villages and 1230 hectares of land, 179 hectares of Forest and possibly parts of Tansa Sanctuary. Continue reading “From thirsty Tribal areas to Industries: Travesty of Intrabasin Transfers in Maharashtra”

Disasters · Floods · Gujarat

Will Cyclone VAYU bring floods in Saurashtra, Kutch and South Rajasthan?

The latest update from IMD[i] on Very Severe Cyclonic Storm VAYU (issued at 0700 hrs on June 13, 2019) does not provide any specific risk of floods in any region, nor does it mention any possibility of persistent rainfall leading to risk of floods.

Another IMD update at 1200 hours on June 13, 2019[ii] says large parts of coastal Saurashtra may experience winds of 160 kmph starting June 13 afternoon, but there is no mention of risk of floods. It does give heavy rainfall warning: “Widespread rainfall with heavy to very heavy falls at few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places in the coastal districts of Saurashtra” till 0830 hrs on June 15, 2019, in RED colour, the highest risk colour code used by IMD. Further this warning adds: “Flooding of escape routes. Minor disruption of railways, overhead power lines and signalling systems.” Among action suggested it lists: “Inundation of low lying areas along the above mentioned coastal districts due to heavy rainfall and storm surge… Evacuation from low lying areas of the above mentioned Districts, coastal Hutment dwellers, urban slum dwellers and people staying in unsafe house to safer places.” The Ministry of Earth Sciences also sends out these releases through PIB Press Notes as IMD functions under MoES. Continue reading “Will Cyclone VAYU bring floods in Saurashtra, Kutch and South Rajasthan?”

Gujarat · Madhya Pradesh · Narmada

Gujarat has so much Narmada water this year: Why not share with drought hit & thirsty?

It’s a strange situation in Gujarat. While everyone is talking about unprecedented drought and the drought hit are suffering due to lack of water for irrigation and even water supply, the Sardar Sarovar Dam today (April 16) is at 119.14 m, and has 1095 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) in Live storage, in addition to about 3700 MCM of water in what is called dead storage. The Dam has received much more water this year compared to last year. SSP Water level on April 16, 2019 is up from 115.55 m, the lowest level it reached this water year[i] on March 3, 2019, since 2018 monsoon.

In fact, it was astonishing to find that the water level at SSP kept rising from March 3 (115.55 m) to April 8, 2019 (119.37 m), it has only marginally dropped since then. This was happening bang in the middle of summer! Continue reading “Gujarat has so much Narmada water this year: Why not share with drought hit & thirsty?”

Pump Storage Project · W Bengal

DEVASTATING DEVELOPMENTS IN AYODHYA HILLS

Guest article by Kaushik Mukherjee and Sourav Prokritibadi 

Kotto jongol chhnirbek! Sohoje ee jongol chnirte lairbek’ [‘How many trees are they going to cut down? These forests can never be destroyed so easily’]- comment by a tribal lady, Marang Buru hills, Ajodhya, Purulia.

The hilly area of Ayodhya is located within the dry deciduous forest belonging to a sub-region of the north-eastern part of Chhotonagpur plateau, included within a distinctive agro-ecological zone of West Bengal—the undulating red and laterite zone. Some of the prominent and well known hills of this area are Mathaburu, Gorgaburu, Pakhipahar, Ayodhya. The distinctive geological-hydrological backdrop and its characteristic floral and faunal diversity support a local human population—who, as official documents testify, are dependent on the forest for their life and livelihood. Moreover, the topography, forest wealth and wildlife attract tourists, wildlife researchers and naturalists in considerable numbers. Apart from being a popular tourist destination, Ayodhya hill range is significantly important for the entire Santhal population of all over India. The area is located precariously close to excavation sites that have yielded a rich outcrop of microliths—pushing the prehistory of Bengal back to 42,000 years BP[i] and promoting the area to the status of one of the most sensitive archaeological locales in West Bengal[ii]. Continue reading “DEVASTATING DEVELOPMENTS IN AYODHYA HILLS”

Arunachal Pradesh · Dams · Manipur · Sikkim

Fighting Destructive Dams: Lessons from the masters

Guest Article by Chicu Lokgariwar

“Everybody loves us Lepchas” said Tseten. He went on to explain that this affection was important to the Affected Citizens of Teesta and was a major reason that the group decided never to add violence[i] to their arsenal of techniques in their fight to save the Teesta.

The idea of non-violence being a strategic decision rather than a (purely) moral one intrigued me. I was at a meeting where several anti-dam activists from the North-Eastern states were present. As I listened to their stories, it was clear that these veterans had several lessons for those of us worried about the death of their rivers today. Each of the groups that had been compelled to fight for their rights had evolved strategies and developed tools to help them.

Sadly, the struggle against ‘development’ projects that adversely impact the lives and livelihoods of people, as well as cause irretrievable harm to the environment, continues in many places across the world. Rather than reinventing the wheel, it will be useful for young activist groups to have access to the lessons learnt by those who have preceded them. Continue reading “Fighting Destructive Dams: Lessons from the masters”