Chhattisgarh · CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam Disaster · Mahanadi

Khanda Dam Breach in Chhattisgarh in Sept 2020

The earthen Khanda dam in Korea district[i] in Chhattisgarh’s Mahanadi basin breached around 6.30 hrs on Wednesday, Sept 23, 2020. Local farmers alleged negligence by the Water Resources Department officials, who were informed about the dilapidated condition of the dam. The engineers even came and inspected, they said, and went away. They alleged that if they had reduced water storage and in stead opened the two canal gates, this situation may not have come.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

Role of dams in Kerala Floods 2018: What are we missing?

Guest Article by: Dr. CG Madhusoodhanan

The dams and their management received a central role in all debates and discussions across the country on the causes of the 2018 Kerala floods. The role of dams in the floods was negated by two studies viz. the Central Water Commission (CWC) report on Kerala floods[i]  and the study by Prof. K P. Sudheer and team published in the Current Science journal[ii], both of which identified extreme rainfall as the primary cause of the floods. The latter study received wider publicity and attention because it was headed by an independent expert working at the premier technological institute viz. IIT Madras. Meanwhile, another peer-reviewed international publication from IIT Gandhinagar[iii] ascribed the floods of 2018 to the combined effect of extreme rainfall and dam mismanagement. Sri. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP in his EPW article argued that proper management of the dams would have drastically reduced the impacts of floods in the Periyar basin[iv]. More recently, Sri. J. Harsha, Director, CWC, Chennai has written a critique of the study by Sudheer et al (2019), in SANDRP which accused the study team of distorting   science through ‘fallacious assumptions, accumulated errors in their methodology and the poor data quality fed into the hydrological model[v].  A response by Sudheer et al[vi] to the J Harsha comments has now been published by SANDRP along with a rejoinder to the same by J Harsha[vii]. Due to these contradictory arguments and the highly technical nature of the problem, the dilemma continues among the public on the role of dams in causing floods. Continue reading “Role of dams in Kerala Floods 2018: What are we missing?”

CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

ROLE OF DAMS IN 2018 KERALA FLOODS: Rejoinder of J Harsha to the response by Sudheer et al

Rejoinder Article by: J.Harsha

An article titled “Role of dams on the floods of August 2018 in Periyar River Basin” was published by Sudheer et al. (2019) in Current Science. A rebuttal was prepared and thanks to South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), the same was published by SANDRP on 25th August 2020 ( for which Sudheer et al. (2019) has now furnished a response (

In the rebuttal published by SANDRP, I had questioned the very basis of fitting HEC-HMS model for Periyar River Basin (PRB) by Sudheer et al. (2019), and also challenged the assumptions made by them, the methodology followed and the consequent voluminous inferences such as catchment response at Neeleshwaram (L2), virgin simulations, bank full discharges and particularly inferences that indicted nature for the flood calamity but exonerating the role of dams for the floods of Kerala in 2018. 

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

Response of Sudheer et al to the Comments by Mr. J. Harsha on the article, “Role of dams in the floods of Aug 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala”

Sudheer, K P1,2,*, S. Murty Bhallamudi1,3, Balaji Narasimhan1,3, Jobin Thomas1, Bindhu, V M1, Vamsikrishna Vema1,4, Cicily Kurian1,
1Department of civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai – 600036,
2Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.
3Indo German Centre for Sustainability, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai – 600036
*Corresponding Author:

The authors of Sudheer et al. (2019) – hereinafter referred to as ‘authors’ – appreciate Mr. J. Harsha (hereinafter referred to as ‘commenter’) for his judgmental assessment (in his blog appeared on SANDRP website- “” on August 25, 2020, see: of the authors’ work “Role of dams on the floods of August 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala” (published in the Current Science in 2019: [DOI: 10.18520/cs/v116/i5/780-794]). As mentioned in Sudheer et al. (2019), the primary objective of the article was to examine whether the early release of the water stored in the reservoirs would have attenuated the flood peaks, and if so, what would have been the extent of the attenuation, in the context of debates and discussions in the social, political, as well as scientific domains based on non-sequitur speculations. Accordingly, the authors designed a scientific exercise using a widely used hydrological model (HEC-HMS) to understand the role of the dams in the Periyar River Basin (PRB) in the 2018 flooding situation.

Continue reading “Response of Sudheer et al to the Comments by Mr. J. Harsha on the article, “Role of dams in the floods of Aug 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala””
Delhi · Rivers · Urban Rivers


Guest Article by: Ritu Rao

A short drive on the Golf Course Road in Dwarka followed by a turn towards Goyla Dairy and subsequently a sharp left just short of Goyla Dairy brings us to the famous Inspection Road /Embankment Road. Flanked by Najafgarh Drain on one side and the arable lands of Delhi on the other, the embankment road was constructed after the 1964 floods of Delhi. The thick mud embankments are covered with trees and shrubs which provide the much-needed habitat for the local flora and fauna to thrive. This thicket starts clearing off after Jhatikara crossing (say after about a half an hour drive on this road) and the Najafgarh drain suddenly transforms into a vast expanse of water known as the Najafgarh jheel. This spectacular sight continues for a good 5-6 kms before it once again narrows down into a stream. The road meets the now extinct Sahibi Nadi and Outfall from Drain No.8 at Dhansa, 5 km upstream of the jheel. The Sahibi Nadi which originates in Jaipur district and drains parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi, now has diminished flow and disappears in the arid soil near Dharuhera after the Masani Barrage in Haryana. Once fed by the Sahibi nadi and storm water runoff from the surrounding areas, the Najafgarh jheel is now fed primarily by the waste water from the Badshahpur Drain and the Outfall Drain No.8 and the rain water in monsoons.

Hindi Blogs · Madhya Pradesh · Urban Water Sector

बाढ़, शहर और नियोजन !

Guest Article by: अभिलाष खांडेकर

कईं वर्ष पूर्व अमेरिका दूसरी बार जाना हुआ। किंतु उस यात्रा में उन पूराने शहर जहाँ मैं पहले जा चुका था, जाना नहीं था, इसलिए मैं ख़ुश था। नए-नए शहर देखना, उनकी बसाहट और इतिहास जानना व उस शहर के किसी भी संग्रहालय को भेंट देना मेरा शौक़ रहा हैं। तो शिकागो शहर जाना हुआ।  शहर का इतिहास जाना तो पता लगा की कैसे एक बार उस शहर का काफ़ी बड़ा हिस्सा जल जाने के बाद नगर नियोजको (अर्बन प्लानर) ने शहर वासियों की मदत से फिर से शिकागो को बनाया। शिकागो नदी के किनारे के इस शहर को नए सिरे से बसाने में नगर-नियोजक डैनीअल बर्नहम की महती भूमिका रही। उन्होंने ही १९०९ में जो विकास योजना बनाईं उसे नगर-नियोजन के वैश्विक इतिहास में स्वर्णाक्षरों में लिखा गया हैं। ‘द प्लान ऑफ़ शिकागो’ नाम से एक सुंदर पुस्तक कॉर्ल स्मिथ नामक लेखक ने उस योजना के लागू होने व शिकागो शहर ने अच्छी नगर-नियोजन प्रणालियों के चलते प्रगति और नाम हांसिल करने के लगभग १०० वर्ष बाद लिखी। उक्त पुस्तक पढ़ने के बाद मेरी दिलचस्पी नगर-नियोजन विषय मैं और अधिक बढ़ी। इंदौर का रहने वाला होने से मैंने स्कॉटिश नगर-नियोजक सर पैट्रिक गेडेज़ के बारे में काफ़ी पढ़-सुन रखा था। गेडेज़ साहब ने ही होलकर महाराज के निमंत्रण पर इंदौर का पहला प्लान १९१४-१९१६ के मध्य बनाया था। गेडेज़ ने इंदौर के अलावा देश के ५०-५५ शहरों की विकास योजनाए बनाईं थीं, जो एक दुर्लभ कीर्तिमान हैं। किंतु यह दुर्भाग्य ही है की उन्हें आज की पीढ़ी कम ही जानती हैं। इंदौर का वह प्लान भी अपने ज़माने का शहरी नियोजन का उमदा दस्तावेज़ हैं जिसमें नदियों का महत्व १०० साल पहले उन विदेशी नियोजक ने रेखांकित किया था।

ख़ैर, मैंने यह छोटी भूमिका इसलिए लिखी जिससे नगर नियोजन के महत्व पर अलग से प्रकाश डाला जा सकें।

जिस महान, प्राचीन भारत में नगरीय सभ्यता व नियोजन की सुंदरता के संदर्भ में मोहनजोदडो व हड़प्पा संस्कृति को चरमोत्कर्ष के रूप में जाना-पहचाना जाता हैं उसी देश में अब नगर नियोजन के समकालीन विज्ञान और कला के साथ-साथ वहाँ के नगरनियोजनकर्ताओं की क्षमताओं पर गम्भीर प्रश्नचिन्ह लगातार खड़े हो रहें हैं। ये इसीलिए की अलग अलग योजनाओं के बावजूद भी तमाम शहरों के हालात चिंतनीय बने हुए हैं।

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Gujarat · Narmada

How SSNNL violated its own Flood Memorandum 2020 during recent SSD induced floods

During the recent Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) induced flood disaster in areas downstream of the dam in Gujarat, the dam operator, SSNNL (Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited) violated its own Flood Memorandum (FM) 2020[i] in multiple ways.

The FM-2020 titled “Disaster Management Plan – 2020” provides detailed information about how the dam operation is to be done during South West Monsoon 2020, that is from June 1, 2020 to Oct 15, 2020, or whenever the monsoon has withdrawn. It is published by SSNNL’s Flood Control Cell and carries the names of six highest functionaries of SSNNL on second page: Chairman, Managing Director, Jt MD, Director (CAD), Director (Canal) and Director (Civil). It says Officer in charge of Flood Control Cell of SSNNL is Executive Engineer (Narmada Project Main Canal Division-2) and the FM-2020 is compiled by Superintending Engineer, Narmada Project Design Circle.

An earlier version of the Flood Memorandum for 2018[ii] is also available, which is useful as it has some additional information.

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Bihar · Ganga · Rivers

River Stories, Walking Across India – II

Guest Blog by Siddharth Agarwal

In the years 2018 and 2019, I spent months walking East across India with Paul Salopek on the Out of Eden Walk[i]. His trail started in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia in East Africa, roughly following the path of the early human migration out of Africa and across the globe.

The India trail of the Out of Eden Walk started from the India-Pakistan border at Wagah, Punjab. It then moved East through the Indus Basin, followed by the basins of West flowing rivers like Luni, then a large chunk through the southern Gangetic plains in Central India before crossing over to the Brahmaputra basin close to Siliguri in West Bengal. The crossover to Myanmar happened at Moreh in Manipur, also incidentally very close to the basin boundary of Brahmaputra and Irrawady. He entered India in March 2018, and crossed over to Myanmar in July 2019.

The Out of Eden Walk trail in India was ~4000kms, of which I was present for about 1500kms in different sections. These stretches were spread across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and bit of Assam & Manipur.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Gujarat · Gujarati blog · Narmada

સરદાર સરોવરને કારણે ભરૂચ પૂરમાં સપડાયું: નિગમના દાવાની પાછળનું સત્ય

સપ્ટેમ્બર ૨, ૨૦૨૦[i]ના અમારા લેખમાં અમે સત્તાવાર માહિતીનો ઉપયોગ કરીને દેખાડ્યું હતું કે સરદાર સરોવર ડેમ (SSD)ને કારણે ભરૂચમાં જે પૂર આવ્યાં તેને ટાળવાનું શક્ય હતું. ડેમના હેઠવાસમાં ઑગસ્ટ ૨૯, ૨૦૨૦થી ઓચિંતા જ ૧૦.૭૨ લાખ ક્યુસેક પાણીનો જબ્બરદસ્ત જથ્થો છોડવામાં આવ્યો અને ભરૂચને પૂરની આફતે ઘેરી લીધું. સરદાર સરોવર ડૅમને લગતા બધા કાર્યકલાપ માટે જવાબદાર સરદાર સરોવર નર્મદા નિગમ લિમિટેડે (SSNNL) હજી સુધી એનો સ્પષ્ટ, સુસંગત અને તથ્ય આધારિત જવાબ નથી આપ્યો. જો કે, નિગમ/ગુજરાત સરકાર (GoG)ના કેટલાક પ્રવક્તાઓએ દાવો કર્યો છે કે  સરદાર સરોવર ડેમને કારણે ભરૂચ બહુ મોટી હોનારતમાંથી બચી ગયું છે.  આ દાવો પાયા વિનાનો તો છેજ, એ તાજા જખમ પર મીઠું ભભરાવવા જેવો પણ છે.

SSDનું સંચાલન કેમ થયું, કેમ થવું જોઈતું હતું,  ભરૂચે જે જબ્બર સંકટ ભોગવ્યું તેના માટે કોણ જવાબદાર હતા તેની તપાસ માત્ર કોઈ સ્વતંત્ર પેનલ (જેમાં સરકારના કાર્યરત કે નિવૃત્ત અધિકારીઓ ન હોય) દ્વારા થાય તો જ આ સત્યને બહાર લાવી શકાશે.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Gujarat · Narmada

SSD induced Bharuch Flood disaster: Reality behind SSNNL claims that it saved Bharuch

We showed on Sept 2, 2020[i] using official information that Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) created an avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch, downstream of SSD starting on Aug 29, 2020, due to sudden, adhoc release of massive quantities water upto 10.72 lakh cusecs. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), official agency responsible for operation of the SSD is yet to provide any clear, coherent and fact based response. However, some of the spokespersons of SSNNL/ Government of Gujarat (GOG) are claiming that scientific operation of SSD saved Bharuch from bigger disaster. While this claim has no basis, this is like spraying salt on the fresh wounds.

Only an independent (not by serving or retired bureaucrats of the government) investigation would be able to bring out the truth as to how SSD operated, how it should have been operated, who is responsible for the massive disaster that Bharuch experienced, how can we fix accountability and what lessons we can learn for future.

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