Dams · Yamuna River

Yamuna river, floodplain Abused in Delhi

Feature image Signature bridge equipment, facilities still occupying large chunk of Yamuna riverbed as seen on July 25, 2020. In the backdrop DMRC phase IV bridge work has started raising, leveling large chunk of riverbed further. (Bhim Singh Rawat/SANDRP)  

On February 16, 2020[i], SANDRP had raised the issue of large scale construction debris left and dumped in the riverbed of Yamuna along the bridges on NH 24 in Mayur Vihar. The area is opposite Sarai Kale Khan and close to Common Games Village.

Following this, the Delhi Yamuna Monitoring Committee (DYMC) constituted by National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to take action against the violation and submit Action Taken Report (ATR). In the following days a series of tweets were made by respective agencies with an assurance to look into the issue. After pursuing the matter persistently for three weeks, finally the DYMC informed that the debris have been removed from the site.

Continue reading “Yamuna river, floodplain Abused in Delhi”

Bihar · Floods

Making sense of 2020 Gandak floods

While Bihar is again facing one of the worse floods this monsoon, one basin in Bihar that has possibly faced the maximum floods is Gandak, as a number of reports[i] have described. The floods in Gandak basin were pretty serious, as embankments along Gandak breached at multiple locations, first on western side (Gopalganj district) starting on July 23-24 night and then on Eastern side (Purbi Champaran district).  The flood lead to breaking of three year old HFL (Highest Flood Level) record at Dumariaghat, 19 year old HFL record at Lalganj and most shockingly, 34 year old HFL record at Rewaghat. Continue reading “Making sense of 2020 Gandak floods”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 27 July 2020: China’s Three Gorges Dam may be safe for now, but at what cost?

International media has been full of stories this last few weeks, about the likely fate of the world’s biggest dam project: The Three Gorges Dam of China. The stories ranged from possible imminent threat of collapse of the dam to those from China that rubbished all such ideas. Part of it was fuelled by the World’s anti China mood due to the Covid and its expansionist activities including at Indian borders. But part of the reason was the difficulty to getting hard facts, since China does not have free media or democracy and suppresses any critical information. One direct evidence of this Chinese tendency was apparent when Reuters was the first one to publish on July 22, 2020, the story of a dam collapse in China on June 7, full 45 days after the event and even that story could not find any official to quote about the dam collapse. A more telling example of China’s tendency to suppress basic facts would be difficult to come by from recent times. Continue reading “DRP NB 27 July 2020: China’s Three Gorges Dam may be safe for now, but at what cost?”

Dams · Urban Water Sector

Delhi Drinking Water Canal gets toxic mix

In May 2019 SANDRP wrote, with photo evidence, after a visit to the Drain No 8 that brings Delhi’s drinking water that it is running next to drain no 6 carrying untreated industrial toxics from Haryana, with only sand bags separating the two. A visit on 21st July, 2020 provided video proof that water from drain no 6 is still happily mixing with drain no 8 at several places.

A visit to drain number 8, one of prominent canal carrying potable water supply of national capital can be shocking experience to anyone concerned with water quality and health of people. The canal (called escape) flows close to Delhi Haryana border in Sonipat district. The drinking water in the escape is being repeatedly contaminated with all sorts of industrial effluents.

Continue reading “Delhi Drinking Water Canal gets toxic mix”

Dams · Sand Mining

Bihar Sand Mining 2020: Ruining rivers; aggravating floods

{Feature image: Up to 300 trucks a day take their fill of sand at a mine on the Sone River in Bihar state. India’s construction boom is stripping large volumes of sand, a vital ingredient in concrete, from its rivers. Environmentalists say the extraction is unsustainable, harming local hydrology and wildlife. Paul Salopek}

The 2018 review of sand mining[i] for Bihar highlighted how mismanagement by govt and then National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on sand mining in Ganga river, Son rivers particularly during monsoon months resulted in sand scarcity and soaring prices affected public and livelihoods of mining laborers.

The video report featuring local people revealed that illegal mining was causing floods in West Champaran by damaging embankments. Similarly, the report on Gaya mentioned sand mining among reasons behind increasing air pollution. The death of four kids by drowning into sand mine pits was shocking. This compilation presents the situation after 2018 so far.

Continue reading “Bihar Sand Mining 2020: Ruining rivers; aggravating floods”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 20 July 2020: Will the Supreme Court stop destruction of Ganga & Himalayas in the name of WIDER Char Dham Road?

Feature Image: Pithoragarh-Tanakpur Road widening work going and muck being dumped in Saryu river under Chardham project. (Manoj Matwal, April 2019) 

The Supreme Court appointed Ravi Chopra committee has submitted the report on Char Dham Road. It has not said NO to the all weather road which is the slogan of Gadkari and rest of the Union Government. It has in fact, going by the Union Ministry of Road Transport’s’ circular, as late as 2018, suggested that the road be of 5.5 m width with necessary precautions. It has provided elaborate justifications and reasons why it took this decision. And yet twelve govt members of the committee, claiming in the name of religion (as per interview by one of these twelve members in media today) has insisted that the road should be of 10 m width. Not bothering that religion was not part of their mandate, not bothering what impact such a road will have on the Ganga (and the impact will be massive, we will know the full extent only if the impacts are scientifically assessed), on Himalayas (again starting from deforestation, landslides, flash floods and so on will be unbelievably huge) and on people and future generations. One only hopes the Supreme Court will see through the mindlessness of the economic fundamentalism being pushed in the name of religion and not allow the proposal to go ahead.

The Union Environment Ministry is clearly out to destroy even the Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone by sanctioning the Zonal Master Plan without due process and in complete violation of the letter and spirit of the Bhagirathi notification. This will further open the flood gates for destruction of remaining stretch of Bhagirathi, considered original Ganga stream as it flows from Gangotri. Again one hopes the judiciary will strike this down.

One wonders what is the NMCG, National Mission for Clean Ganga, whose mandate is Ganga rejuvenation, is doing amidst all this? Why is it silent?

Continue reading “DRP NB 20 July 2020: Will the Supreme Court stop destruction of Ganga & Himalayas in the name of WIDER Char Dham Road?”

CWC - Central Water Commission · Floods

CWC flood forecasting: Inadequate, non transparent, inconsistent

As over 4 million people in the flood prone areas of North East go through second wave of floods and Ganga basin enters the long flood season, nation’s focus should be on one particular agency, Central Water Commission which is not only the only flood forecasting agency, but is also answerable in multiple other ways for the recurring flood disaster. But the flood forecasting of CWC[i] is grossly inadequate, inconsistent and non transparent.

To illustrate, let us look at the available information about CWC’s flood forecasting and compare it with happened in 2019 flood season. Out of 29 sites[ii] (7 level monitoring sites and 22 Lavel forecasting sites) where rivers crossed the previous Highest Flood Level as per CWC’s own hydrographs of last year, CWC has not updated HFL for at least 8 sites so far this year. In case Salavad in Jhalawar district in Rajasthan, on Kali Sindh river, in stead of updating the new HFL, CWC suddenly discovered this year that that the site had higher HFL achieved 35 years ago in 1985, though till last year, it listed 1996 HFL! Continue reading “CWC flood forecasting: Inadequate, non transparent, inconsistent”

Rivers

River Stories, Walking Across India – I

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 desert 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. Continue reading “River Stories, Walking Across India – I”

Dam floods

Ireland Supreme Court holds dam operator responsible for 2009 floods

In a landmark, trend setting judgement, the Ireland Supreme Court delivered an important ruling[i]  on July 8, 2020 that the dam operator ESB (Electricity Supply Board, https://www.esb.ie/) was guilty of negligence concerning extensive flood damage to buildings on the campus of UCC.

UCC’s action over the damage is among about 400 sets of proceedings initiated against the ESB arising from the flooding. The finding of negligence by four of the five judges has implications for those cases, and wider implications for the ESB’s liability arising from its management of hydroelectric dams in the State. Aviva, UCC’s insurer sought €20m damages for losses at UCC, plus another €14m for losses suffered by other property owners. The Supreme Court had decided it should first determine whether the ESB had a liability.[ii] Continue reading “Ireland Supreme Court holds dam operator responsible for 2009 floods”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 13 July 2020: “Rainwater harvesting is key to solving India’s water woes”

INDEED. With all the emphasis available at our command. We are in the midst of the rainiest season and such a statement is indeed music. It would become even more melodious if one knows who said it: it was none other than Mr G. Asok Kumar, Additional Secretary & Mission Director, National Water Mission, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India who said it. Speaking on July 8, 2020, he said: “Rainwater harvesting has become inevitable in the current scenario of water scarcity across the country… The idea is to save the rainwater be it on the rooftop, compounds, and premises.” Mr Kumar also emphasised the importance of groundwater recharge. 

We can pass it as run-of-the-mill statement from the government, but one is tempted to think there is more to it than that. One wishes if there was a way to hold these officials accountable for such statements and ask as to how this translates into policies, projects and practices. There is no evidence of any of these, unfortunately. Unless we were to interpret it cynically the way Central Water Commission ideologues do: Dams are also rain water harvesting structures! By that definition, even river linking is also rain water harvesting structure!! But Mr Kumar do not seem to suggest that. So let us hold on to this statement optimistically and push the water resources establishment to implement through right policies, practices and projects. Since that is where solution to India’s water problem indeed is. Unfortunately so far there is no sign that this wisdom is accepted in any serious way by the water resources establishment.

Continue reading “DRP NB 13 July 2020: “Rainwater harvesting is key to solving India’s water woes””