Maharashtra · Rivers

Beyond technological failure: Examining the role of religious organisations in water conservation

Guest Blog by Sachin Tiwale

Introduction 

In summer of 2016, after witnessing two consecutive droughts, Art of Living (AoL) along with RSS Jankalyan Samiti, (RSS-JS) initiated Manjra River Rejuvenation program with the involvement of local leaders and residents. As a part of this program, the Manjra River channel was deepened and widened to create additional storage to meet the drinking water demand of parched Latur city of Marathwada, Maharashtra. During implementation, the leading organisations AoL and RSS-JS proclaimed rejuvenation project as a permanent measure resolving the crisis by creating storage of 18 million cubic metre (MCM) enough to meet Latur city’s water demand (Ghadyalpatil  2016; Thomas 2016). With a promise of supplying piped water every alternate day, they collected around Rs. 70 million from the people[1]. However, as described below, even after completion of massive excavation damaging river ecology, this project failed miserably. It could not even supply one drop of water to the citizens of Latur. Surprisingly, this failure is never revealed or discussed and on the contrary, the project was celebrated as a success (Samvada, 2016). Continue reading “Beyond technological failure: Examining the role of religious organisations in water conservation”

Dam floods · Maharashtra

Maharashtra Upper Krishna Basin Flood 2019 Vadnere  Committee-2: A report with “difference”!

Guest Blog by Pradeep Purandare

SANDRP published my article entitled “Maharashtra Floods 2019: Don’t waste the crisis” on 26th May 2020.In that article I had explained the reasons behind my resignation from the Flood Study Committee. Exclusion of my chapter from the committee’s report was one of the reasons. Now, the said report is available in public domain & surprisingly enough, it includes my chapter; thanks to SANDRP!

In this note, I would like to draw the attention of all concerned towards the erroneous data, strange analysis & weird logic employed by the Vadnere Committee-2 in its report without discussing the serious issues in the committee meetings. Continue reading “Maharashtra Upper Krishna Basin Flood 2019 Vadnere  Committee-2: A report with “difference”!”

Dam floods · Krishna River · Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin again faces prospects of Dam Floods?

Seven major dams with high storage capacities in Upper Krishna Basin in Maharashtra’s Satara and Sangli districts have huge 1422.12 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) water in live storage as on May 30, 2020, just about a week away from the prospects of beginning of monsoon. The Wadnere committee’s efforts not withstanding, there is no doubt that almost simultaneous water release from these seven dams played a major role in creating highest ever flood levels in Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin in August 2019. Though on this day last year, these seven dams had much lower water in live storage at 556.49 MCM, the almost simultaneous water release from these dams hugely contributed to the unprecedented flood disaster in Sangli district last year. With 256% water in live storage this year compared to last year on this date, the risk of these dams contributing to flood disaster in Sangli district is even greater this year. Unless the authorities in the water resources department, district administration and disaster management authorities wake up and ensure that these dams help moderate rather than contribute to floods. Continue reading “Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin again faces prospects of Dam Floods?”

Dam floods · Maharashtra

Maharashtra Floods 2019: Don’t waste the crisis

Guest Blog by Pradeep Purandare

Abstract: Flood Study Committee in Maharashtra has set up a record of sorts by not only denying technical information to its member but even excluding his chapter altogether from the final draft report. The humiliated member who opted to quit the committee shares his experience in this article. The article highlights: (1) the report was finalized without detailed discussions on all chapters together, (2)  Maharashtra is well equipped with theory of ROS (Reservoir Operation Schedule) & Flood Zoning but doesn’t implement the same,  (3) Maharashtra wasted full 13 years by not implementing the recommendations of Wadnere Committee-1 regarding revised ROS & integrated reservoir operation,  (4) Total absence of flood management governance & (5) most importantly, the simulation study carried out by the committee indicates that backwater effect of Almatti project is not responsible for Maharashtra floods 2019. Next, the paper explains WRD’s (Water Resources Department) viewpoint regarding Maharashtra Floods 2019 & its emphasis on structural measures.  The paper then points out WRD’s strange policy, raises questions regarding reliability of discharge measurement at observation points & makes following critical comment on Reservoir Operation.

“There is, therefore, room to believe that had there been the implementation of revised ROS as recommended by Wadnere Committee -1, less storage in the dams in the last week of July 2019 & staggered outflow from 9 projects based on  the principle of integrated ROS, the flood situation would have been different & comparatively speaking less severe.”

In the end, the author requests the govt to follow the principle – “Don’t waste the crisis” and

  • Take a critical review of the State’s preparedness regarding Flood Moderation
  • Adopt & Implement the concept of Integrated Reservoir Operation
  • Don’t make compromises in respect of flood zoning
  • Ask Wadnere Committee-2 to make amendments in its report & modus operandi as well.

Continue reading “Maharashtra Floods 2019: Don’t waste the crisis”

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”

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”

Maharashtra · Monsoon

Maharashtra Monsoon Musings – July 2018

Maharashtra celebrates Ashadhi Ekadashi today[i], also called Dev Shayani Ekadashi, when god Vishnu went to sleep. Ashadhi Ekadashi is a cultural phenomenon in Maharashtra, holding a special place in the hearts of devotees and atheists alike. This is the day when the Vaari, a travelling caravan of devotees reach Pandharpur, the abode of Pandurang or Vitthal from various places in the state. Pandurang is a special god himself. He is the loving god of the farmers and cattle herders and the toiling masses of the state.  People travel to Pandharpur with tradition attire and gaiety. Ashadhi Ekadashi is supposed to fall right in the middle of monsoon as coughing Parineeta told me in the morning, enjoying the Pune rains. She also said that Farmer leader Sharad Joshi used to be unhappy with this festival as farmers left behind their fields right in the sowing season to go for the Pandharpur Vaari, away from their fields for days at end. Festivals are always fun though. Continue reading “Maharashtra Monsoon Musings – July 2018”

Maharashtra · Rivers · Urban Water Sector

India Urgently Needs Urban Water Policy: River Front Development Kills the Rivers

In the conference, “Dialogue on Urban Rivers of Maharashtra”, experts on water and rivers from all over the country strongly expressed their views and unanimously agreed that, “Pune River Front Development Project is certainly going to cause a disaster.” The conference also underlined the need for and decided to work for Urban Water Policy for Maharashtra and India.

The conference was jointly organised on 20 and 21st April at YASHADA by Indian National Trust for Art Culture and Heritage (INTACH – Pune Chapter) and South Asian Network for Rivers Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). Experts from Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and various parts of Maharashtra attended the conference. Continue reading “India Urgently Needs Urban Water Policy: River Front Development Kills the Rivers”

Maharashtra · Rivers · Urban Water Sector

Pune Dialogue on Urban Rivers of Maharashtra on April 20-21, 2018

The health and future of our country is critically dependent on the health of our rivers. To compromise upon our rivers’ health is to endanger our own existence and future. Most of the urban rivers[1] in Maharashtra are in poor state affected by problems like pollution, with little or no biodiversity, little or no flow during most of the year, encroachment, dumping of waste, concretization and sometimes even mining. Water pollution from Urban Industrial effluents is a serious problem for the river, floodplain as well as ground water. With unplanned development, as the floodplains and riverbeds are being encroached, we are experiencing increased intensity and frequency of floods and flash floods. This can lead to an increasing possibility of water scarcity, depletion of groundwater levels and drought in spite of rains. Continue reading “Pune Dialogue on Urban Rivers of Maharashtra on April 20-21, 2018”