Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk

WFD 2022: River Pollution Killing Fish En-Masse; New Threats to river fish

On the occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2022, this second report is on the mass fish death incidents in Indian rivers and wetlands during last year. It also presents critical reports concerning emerging threats of invasive fish, riverbed mining, pollution, encroachments, microplastic affecting rivers’ fish and fishers. The first part containing positive stories on the issue can be seen here. The third part would highlight mass fish death incidents in inland water bodies including lakes and ponds and the fourth part would cover the ongoing struggle of coastal fisherfolks and related issues. The fifth and last part on the series would highlight issues concerning aquatic bio-diversity in the country.     

Continue reading WFD 2022: River Pollution Killing Fish En-Masse; New Threats to river fish
Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk

WFD 2022: Positive River Fisheries Reports from India & Dam Removal Abroad

(Feature Image: Govindamma (extreme left) fishing for prawns in Kosasthalaiyar river with others from her Irular community. They wade through the water for 2-4 kms to catch them. Credit: People’s Archive for Rural India (PARI))

On the occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2022, this report by SANDRP tracks some positive stories on river fish and fisher in India & Dam removal action abroad. In subsequent part on this occasion, the mass fish death incidents in Indian rivers, wetlands, lakes would be covered along with updates on emerging threats of invasive fish, riverbed mining, pollution, encroachments, microplastic over the past one year. The third part would cover the mass fish death incidents in lakes and ponds in India and the fourth part would focus on continuing struggle of coastal fisherfolks and relevant issues.  The fifth and last part on the series would highlight issues concerning aquatic bio-diversity in the country.   

Continue reading WFD 2022: Positive River Fisheries Reports from India & Dam Removal Abroad
Hydropower Performance

INDIA’S HYDRO GENERATION CONTRIBUTION AROUND 10% for SIX YEARS

In last six years, from 2016-17 to 2021-22, India’s Large Hydropower projects (projects above 25 MW installed capacity) have contributed just around 10% of the total power generation, going as low as 9.68% in 2017-18. In fact, in three of these six years, large hydro contributed less than 10% and recovering only marginally in the rest, thanks to surplus monsoon.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 14 Nov 2022: Jal Shakti Ministry says: Groundwater extraction down, recharge up???

(Feature Image: The report also states that the monitoring of the groundwater resources was affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. Source: Bloomberg/TIE)

This sounds so counter intuitive. The Ministry Jal Shakti on Nov 9, 2022 made some findings of its latest “National Compilation on Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India, 2022 public, strangely, without making the report public. It is not clear why the govt did not make the report public, though the counter intuitive nature of the findings provide some hint. The report claims that at all India macro level, the ministry claimed that the groundwater extraction is the lowest in 2022 since 2004, or 18 years and that the groundwater recharge has gone up.

These are counter intuitive findings, even if at macro level for a number of reasons. It is also unclear what methodology is used to arrive at these conclusions and if there has been any independent scrutiny of the same. Since groundwater extraction has been going up for over six decades now, this reversal will need plausible reasons. There are no indications that there is any reduction in this groundwater use. Secondly, the groundwater recharge mechanisms are under attack all over India, and thus the finding that there is increase in recharge raises questions. Particularly since the efforts at groundwater recharge through rainwater harvesting are far from convincing.

More importantly, the real story is at micro level, since groundwater occurs in decentralised aquifers and any significant reduction in use, increase in recharge has to happen at the aquifer level and the assessment also needs to be done and made available at aquifer level for it to have any impact on future regulation of groundwater. In fact the only regulatory body working for groundwater regulation, the CGWA, works in a centralised way and its work has been far from confidence inspiring. That makes this whole findings questionable. Moreover, it would also be useful to see if the extraction has reduced in over exploited areas and if the recharge has increased where it is required most: in over exploited areas. Too many questions and no answers, unfortunately.

Continue reading DRP NB 14 Nov 2022: Jal Shakti Ministry says: Groundwater extraction down, recharge up???
Climate Change · Wetlands

Conserving wetlands to realize global climate and biodiversity goals

Guest Article by Mridhu Tandon [i]

The Sudd wetland in the Nile basin is one of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystems. Nourished by the White Nile-a tributary of the Nile, Sudd is a mosaic of open water and submerged vegetation, seasonally inundated woodlands, rain-fed grasslands, and floodplain scrubland. An integral part of Africa’s largest intact savannahs-the Jonglei plains, Sudd supports the world’s second-largest mammal migration after Serengeti. An estimated 1.3 million antelope: white-eared kob, taing, and Mongalla gazelles move from Sudd every year to reach Ethiopia’s Gambella National Park. Sudd has been in the international news recently. Revival of the 40-year-old 240-mile Jonglei canal will divert the waters of the White Nile around the Sudd wetland and send it to Egypt. The canal will desiccate the wetland, and end seasonal flooding of the Jonglei grasslands. Why is it necessary to protect Sudd from drying up? Why has the subject received global attention? More generally, why protect wetlands at all?

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Hydro Disaster

Repeated Disasters at Subansiri Hydro project in 2022

(Feature Image: Massive landslide at Lower Subansiri hydro project dam site. Source North East Now 28 Oct. 2022)

Over the course of past two years, series of disasters and accidents have taken place at construction site of the controversial 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project resulting in damages to project structure and death of construction workers thus raising questions over its safety and sustainability. Since 2005-06, the largest ever under-construction hydropower project is being developed by NHPLC Ltd (formerly known as the National Hydro Power Corporation Limited), a central government company in geologically fragile, seismically vulnerable and biodiversity rich area in the face of pending judicial case[i] and very strong opposition from people across the Assam.

The latest disaster in form of a massive landslide affected the project site on October 12, 2022 further delaying the repair works which were being carried to recover damages caused by the flash floods, landslips at dam site in last week of September 2022.

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Monsoon · Rainfall

High Rainfall days in India’s districts in SW Monsoon 2022

An analysis of the daily district wise rainfall data from India Meteorological Department (IMD) for India’s South West Monsoon 2022 shows that there were 2079 instances when a district rainfall of a day was above 50 mm. Such high rainfall instances included 1712 instances when rainfall was 50-100 mm, 288 instances when it was 100-150 mm, 53 times it was 150-200 mm and 26 times above 200 mm. Out of 694 districts of India, 527 districts or, about 76% of the districts experienced such high rainfall days during SW monsoon 2021.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 071122: Increasing focus on Urban Rivers; they continue to face destruction

(Feature Image Source: Question of cities)

It is good to see that focus on Urban Rivers is increasing not only in media, but also by the government. The focus of the latest edition of “Question of Cities” is on Urban Rivers, carrying articles on, beside the lead article by SANDRP coordinator, Article “Rivers & Cities”, Sabarmati (Ahmedabad), Mula-Mutha (Pune), on River Centric Urban Planning Guidelines from Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning. In addition, this SANDRP DRP update also carries articles on Dravyawati River of Jaipur, Godavari river in Nasik and a report on Mandakini river in Badrinath.

All this increased focus is welcome, but will be worthwhile only when we see an effective impact of this on rejuvenated Urban rivers. We have yet to see that. In fact, if at all, the movement is hugely in opposite direction, with increasing destruction of Urban Rivers.

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Hydro Disaster

Landslide Disaster at Ratle Hydro Project in Jammu & Kashmir in Oct 2022

(Feature Image:Kishtwar: Rescue operation underway after a landslide at Ratle Power Project site in Kishtwar district, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. At least one person was killed and five are feared trapped, according to officials. Photo: PTI/ TIE)

The landslide incident at Ratle HEP in Chenab basin in Jammu & Kashmir in Oct 2022 has again revealed how hydro projects in geologically vulnerable areas have been increasing disaster potential of the already disaster vulnerable areas, killing and injuring the workers and people. The exact reason for the mishap at project site are still unknown. As usual neither NHPC nor JKSPDC have made public information concerning reasons for the tragedy.

Refusing to learn any lessons from such disasters, the administration has set-up routine internal probe under inspector level official. This only shows sheer lack of intention to make the developers accountable and continue to push financially unviable and environmental unsustainable hydro projects at the cost of human lives and tax payers’ money. 

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 31×22: Unviable Hydro Projects rejected in Himachal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam

(Feature Image: Group photo during No Means No campaign in April 2022 against destructive hydro power projects in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh. Source: The Pahari Zone, You Tube)

A number of developments this week once again show how unviable large hydropower projects are facing rejection in a number of states. In Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh) the local youth are demanding that the candidates in the state assembly elections to be held in November 2022 promise to work against the hydropower projects in the district.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the state government has told that High Court that they have cancelled all the 44 large hydropower projects proposed in Siang basin when locals alleged in the petition “the projects have been initiated in a reckless manner without any regard to the consequences of the same and without following any scientific research”.

In Assam with new accidents, the commissioning of the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri HEP has been pushed back further, making the over Rs 20000 crore project even more unviable. In J&K, the landslides killing 4 people at the under construction Ratel Hydropower project in Kishtwar district on Chenab River has again rung a warning as to what is in store for future if proper appraisal studies are not done. In Uttarakhand, the bid to take over the Lanco Hydropower project on Mandakini river, now undergoing bankruptcy case in the court have been rejected and same is likely to be the fate for the revised bid.

Continue reading DRP NB 31×22: Unviable Hydro Projects rejected in Himachal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam