Ganga · Hydropower · Uttarakhand

Open Letter to PM on Uttarakhand Hydro in Sept 2021

Open Letter to the Prime Minister, Minister of Environment and media on 09/09/2021:
Restarting seven under-construction hydro projects in Ganga Himalaya unjustified

Recently the MoEF&CC has recommended restarting the construction of seven under-construction HEPs  in Uttarakhand namely Tehri II (1000 MW), Tapovan Vishnugad (520 MW), Vishnugad Pipalkoti (444 MW), Singoli Bhatwari (99 MW), Phata Byung (76 MW), Madhmaheshwar (15 MW), and Kaliganga II  (4.5 MW). The news came as a shock to citizens, devotees and environmentalists who have been struggling  since over a decade to preserve our national river Ganga and the Himalaya. The deeply felt concern over  the fate of these two pivotal ecological systems and defining symbols of Indian culture, compel us to write  this letter. Not the least, as a citizen, it is also our constitutional duty ‘to protect and improve India’s natural  environment’.

Continue reading “Open Letter to PM on Uttarakhand Hydro in Sept 2021”
Dam Disaster · Uttarakhand

Himalayan Disasters: Early Warning Systems must, but much more needed

Guest Article by Prof S P Sati

The suggestion of a robust early warning system always echoes as and when there is a disaster in the Himalaya. Hence, the murmuring of having a state of art early warning system after the February 7th 2021 Rishi Ganga disaster is nothing new.

Several concerned scientists of the country are considering of instituting a new centre using the state of art remote sensing techniques. The centre would be dedicated to the early warning forecasting in the Himalayan region. This is heard practically after every disaster since last two decades.

Continue reading “Himalayan Disasters: Early Warning Systems must, but much more needed”
Expert Appraisal Committee · Hydropower · Uttarakhand

Ltr to Expert Appraisal Committee on Env Clearance for 120 MW Sirkari Bhyol Rupsiabagar HEP in Uttarakhand

                                                                                                                              Date: 12.4.2021

To:
The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley Projects,
Ministry of Environment and Forest Officials, Government of India

1. Dr. K. Gopakumar (Chairman), Professor, Department of Electronic Systems
Engineering (Formerly CEDT), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-12. e-mail Id:
kgopa@iisc.ac.in

2. Dr. N. Lakshman, Professor, Dept. of Applied Mechanics, National Institute of
Technology Karnataka, Surathkal Srinivasnagar, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
575025. e-mail Id: lnand@rocketmail.com

3. Dr. Mukesh Sharma Professor, Civil Engg. Department, IIT Kanpur, Kanpur
208016, India. e-mail Id: mukesh@iitk.ac.in

4. Dr. B.K. Panigrahi, Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Head, Centre
for Automotive Research and Tribology, (CART), IIT Delhi, New Delhi-110016, email Id: bijayaketan.panigrahi@gmail.com

5. Dr. Chandrahas Deshpande, Professor (Economics), Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, Mumbai, Maharashtra. e-mail Id:chandrahas.despande@welingkar.com

6. Dr. A.K. Malhotra, C-6, Subhavna Niketan, Road No. 41, Pitampura, New Delhi –110 034. e-mail Id: ajitkumarmalhotra463@gmail.com

7. Dr. Uday Kumar R. Y. Director, Malviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur. Email Id: udaykumarry@yahoo.com, director@mnit.ac.in

8. Dr. Narayan Shenoy K. Associate Director (Student Welfare) Professor, Department of Civil Engineering M.I.T., Manipal – 576 104. e-mail Id: kn.shenoy@manipal.edu

9. Shri Balraj Joshi Former CMD NHPC Ltd. Flat No. 406, Urja Vihar, Sector-45, Faridabad-10. e-mail Id: balrajjoshi@hotmail.com, balrajjoshi@gmail.com

10.Nominated Member of CEA Representative of Central Electricity Authority (CEA),Sewa Bhawan, R.K. Puram, Sector-I, New Delhi-110 066. e-mail Id: Dirhpa3@gmail.com

11. Shri Amrendra Kumar Singh, Chief Engineer, CWC, Representative of CentralWater Commission (CWC), Sewa Bhawan, R.K. Puram, New Delhi 110 066. e-mailId: ceenvtmgmt@nic.in

12.Shri A.K. Johnson, Representative of Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Post BoxNo.18, Chandrbani, Dehradun- 248001, e-mail Id: jaj@wii.gov.in

13.Dr. B. K. Das / Shri Amiya Sahoo, Representative of Central Inland FisheriesResearch Institute (CIFRI), Barrakpore, 700120 West Bengal e-mail Id: amiya.sahoo@icar.gov.in, amiya7@gmail.com

14.Shri Vijay Kumar, Representative of Ministry of Earth Sciences, Prithvi Bhawan, IMD Campus, Opp. India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi 110 003. e-mail Id: vijay.kumar66@nic.in

15.Dr. S. Kerketta, Director IA – 1, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, New Delhi – 110003. e-mail Id: s.kerketta66@gov.in

16.Dr. Mohit Saxena, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change · ImpactAssessment, Ph.D, Scientist/ Deputy Director, MoEF&CC, GoI, e-mail Id: mohit.saxena@gov.in

17. Shri Yogendra Pal Singh, Member Secretary EAC

Regarding Environmental Clearance being sought by UJVNL for the 120 MW Sirkari Bhyol Rupsiabagar HEP on the Gori river, Uttarakhand.

Dear Chairman and Members of the EAC,

UJVNL has sought Environmental Clearance for a proposed 120 MW HEP on the Gori river in Uttarakhand, and a final draft EIA is under consideration for approval by the Expert Appraisal Committee. We, citizens of Uttarakhand and other parts of the country are appalled that such a proposal for Environmental clearance should be submitted to you as a final draft. Not only because of its lack of critical information on the most important aspects required by the TOR, but also for providing false information to you, and most importantly, because of its attempt to obscure hazards and environmental impacts. The procedural flaws include 1. The lack of spatio-temporal coverage of the assessment, 2. The lack of standard methodology in assessing ecological and geo-hydrological parameters, and 3. Factual errors and information plagiarized from other reports.

Continue reading “Ltr to Expert Appraisal Committee on Env Clearance for 120 MW Sirkari Bhyol Rupsiabagar HEP in Uttarakhand”
Dam Disaster · Uttarakhand

The factors that worsen the Uttarakhand Disasters

Abstract: While Uttarakhand is vulnerable to disasters, climate change is increasing these vulnerabilities. Major human interventions like hydropower projects and highways implemented without an informed or democratic decision-making process act as force multipliers during such disasters. The violations of legal and other prudent norms in their implementation further increase the damages. The absence of necessary monitoring, early warning systems and the overall disaster management system add another layer of damages during the disasters. The lack of the ability to learn lessons from disasters and lack of any accountability ensures the perpetuation of the situation.

Continue reading “The factors that worsen the Uttarakhand Disasters”
Dam Disaster · Uttarakhand

Force Multipliers in Uttarakhand disaster

Given below if the text of the presentation made by SANDRP coordinator on Day 1 at the FICCI-NIDM (NIDM: National Institute of Disaster Management; FICCI: Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) 3-day training program on Feb 18-20, 2021 on “Resilient Infrastructure in Hilly Areas: Avalanche, GLOF & Debris Flow” in the context of the Chamoli Disaster of Feb 7, 2021.

Continue reading “Force Multipliers in Uttarakhand disaster”
Environment Impact Assessment · Ganga · Nepal · Public Hearing · Uttarakhand

Letter to MoEF’s Expert Committee: Why Pancheshwar Project should not be considered for Environment Clearance

(Above: Protest outside MoEF on Oct 24, 2017 when EAC met to consider EC for Pancheshwar Project)

Oct 23, 2017

To

Chairman and Members, Expert Appraisal Committee (River Valley Projects), Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Jor Bagh, New Delhi

Respected Chairman and Members,

The agenda of the EAC (for RVP) to be held on Oct 24, 2017, put up on the EC website only on Oct 18, 2017, just six days before the EAC meeting includes the 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose project (PMP), India’s largest proposed hydropower projects. The agenda should be available at least ten days before the meeting, and this should also be a reason for not considering the Pancheshwar project by EAC for its meeting on Oct 24. Moreover agenda mentions 5600 MW Pancheshwar project, where as the capacity as per EIA is 5040 MW. Is MoEF just callous in mentioning wrong installed capacity or has the capacity gone up? In either case, the 5040 MW Pancheshwar project should not be on EAC agenda. Continue reading “Letter to MoEF’s Expert Committee: Why Pancheshwar Project should not be considered for Environment Clearance”

Uttarakhand

Prime Minister Modi at Kedarnath: What was said; what was left unsaid

The central theme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji’s 40 minutes speeach at Himalayan pilgrimage centre of Kedarnath in Uttarakhand on Oct 21, 2017[i], was that we need to come out of the shadow of a disaster. It was to chart out new design, development and reconstruction of the temple, the road, the banks of River Mandakini and its tributary Saraswati and the memorial of Shankaracharya. The reconstruction was required since the disaster had destroyed all this and more. Continue reading “Prime Minister Modi at Kedarnath: What was said; what was left unsaid”

Bhagirathi · Ganga · Uttarakhand

Walking along Ganga in Uttarakhand in 2017

Above: The Bhagirathi valley has a lot of beautiful bends, comparable to the most popular scenic spots across the world. But we’re busy cutting down the mountain to make broader roads in these eco-sensitive areas. Image taken in March 2017. Photo credits: Siddharth Agarwal 

Guest Blog by Siddharth Agarwal

In the initial stages of planning the Moving Upstream project on the Ganga for Veditum, where we were going to walk along the whole length of the river, I had approached a lot of individuals to learn from their experiences about the river and the many connected stories around it. These learnings varied from science and activism to adventure and survival. Of all those who were approached, Himanshu Thakkar from SANDRP had been the most generous in extending knowledge resources and sharing contacts from the field. He even entertained a couple of my visits to their office and shared with me a copy of the SANDRP report prepared by Theo, called Headwater Extinctions (February 2014,  see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/new-publication-headwater-extinctions-impact-of-hydropower-projects-on-fish-and-river-ecosystems-in-upper-ganga-and-beas-basins/, it includes link to full report), along with a few other documents.

Headwater Extinctions looks at the role played by small and large hydropower projects in altering the fish biodiversity and river ecosystems in the Himalayan reaches of the Ganga and Beas basins. It also speaks about the perspective of local people and that of the authorities towards hydropower projects. Theo, who is an adventurer and ecologist, penned down the report with a scientific aptitude, while I will limit myself here in this revisit report to updated observations made on ground while walking along the Ganga in Uttarakhand (March 2017). This comparative observation will hopefully enable a conversation that requires continuity. Continue reading “Walking along Ganga in Uttarakhand in 2017”

Uttarakhand

Landslide Dam on Sonam River in Uttarkashi: Threat to people and structures in the downstream area

Above: Landslide Dam over Sonam River in Uttarkashi  Dist in Uttarakhand (Photo from Jagran.com)

A landslide on Sonam river (Bhagirathi basin) in Bhatwari block in Uttarakashi district in Uttarakhand has blocked the flow of the river and created a lake about 90 m long, 80 m wide and 1.5-3 m deep. The landslide dam in Nelong valley in Jadhganga river basin about 145 km from Uttarkashi town, apparently was formed due to landslide during cloud burst on July 27, 2016, but the information about it reached the administration only on Sept 4, 2016, 39 days later. The landslide dam, about 24 km from the India China border has created a threat to the downstream river bank communities, roads and bridges and other structures and also ecology. The reservoir has been formed at the confluence of Angar Nallah, a local stream, with Sonam River. A team of officials sent by the District Collector on Sept 5, 2016 has submitted a report, but the report is not yet in public domain. Continue reading “Landslide Dam on Sonam River in Uttarkashi: Threat to people and structures in the downstream area”

Floods · Interlinking of RIvers · Kosi · Narmada · Uttarakhand

CWPRS: A 100-year-old institute remains uni-dimensional; has no achievement to show

Jawaharlal Nehru who famously celebrated large dams as “temples of modern India” later termed them as “disease of giganticism”.[i] The fascination wore out after witnessing the huge sacrifice of the vulnerable and unfulfilled promises. Government of India however has continued with the worship of giant structures such as big dams, ports, hydropower projects etc. Even after nearly seven decades of independence, ‘engineering approach’ still dominates the idea of river planning which views river as an entity to be engineered and planned for irrigation, hydropower, industrial and urban water use rather than as a living eco-system. 17 study models that were displayed at Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS) open house day at Khadakwasla near Pune on June 14, 2016, its completion of 100 years of existence, stood testimony to this. Continue reading “CWPRS: A 100-year-old institute remains uni-dimensional; has no achievement to show”