CWC - Central Water Commission

Monsoon 2022: CWC Changing HFLs in Ad-hock Manner

(Feature Image: Pillar with flood level marked on the bank of Yamuna river at Old Railway Bridge level forecast site in Delhi. Source:- Sanchit Khanna/HT Photos)

During monsoon season, Centre Water Commission’s (CWC) carries flood monitoring and forecast work through a network of 332 stations[i] covering 20 major river basins. The stations are comprised of Level Forecast (LF), Level Monitoring (LM) and Inflow Forecast (IF) sites. The LF sites have Warning Level (WL), Danger Level (DL), Highest Flood Level (HFL), date of HFL information while LM sites maintain HFL and HFL date records. At IF sites flood level for respective dams/ barrages with inflow, out flow figures are measured and forecast is issued accordingly.

However, there are plenty of concerns plaguing CWC’s flood forecast and monitoring work across country for years. In this 2022 SW monsoon season, the agency has exhibited one more problematic tendency which exhibits not only its careless approach vis-a-vis keeping accurate information of HFL breach events, but it also seems strange that it realises it has giving wrong HFL level and date information mostly only after crossing the HFL now. 

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 1 Aug 2022: Dams reduce sediment load in rivers leading to higher coastal erosion

(Feature image: Delta Land Loss Mechanisms. Source Wikimedia Commons)

A new study this week has reminded us what has been known for long. Dams not only store water but also trap the sediment flowing in the river. Whatever smaller quantity of water flow from dams to downstream areas, has much lower or no silt. A lot of that silt was supposed to reach the coast, helping fight against the erosion of the coast due to sea tides and waves. With drastically lower sediment reaching the coasts, higher coastal erosion is the result. While climate change is definitely contributing to the increased coast erosion due to more frequent and higher intensity storms from the sea, the role of dams tend to work as force multiplier in increasing the coastal erosion due to less sediment reaching the coasts from river.

While a new study by a Pune University has highlighted this phenomena in case of Godavari river, peninsular India’s biggest river, this is also happening at most other rivers and where they meet the coasts. As in case of Farakka, closer the terminal dam is to the coast, greater is its effectiveness to trap the river sediment and higher is its contribution likely to be to the increase in coastal erosion.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 17 Jan. 2022: Urban Water Mess visible in advocacy for Renuka and Mekedatu dams

This week brings heightened advocacy for major dams in the name of Urban Water supplies for cities that have no water policy, no worthwhile good water governance, but are happy demanding more and more water projects from further off places to cater to its unjustifiable demands. This is the underlying theme both in case of Renuka dam for Delhi and Mekedatu dam for Bangalore.

Some media reports are talking about need for additional storages, but in this advocacy there is no place for either efficient use of existing water storages, nor place for decentralised water storage options or underground water storage options, leave aside inclusion of soil moisture, which is a major storage option too.

Continue reading “DRP NB 17 Jan. 2022: Urban Water Mess visible in advocacy for Renuka and Mekedatu dams”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 27 Dec 2021: PM pushes unviable, destructive Hydro projects in HP

Feature Image: Renuka Dam Sangharsh Samiti members take out a protest march at Dadahu in Sirmaur district on Dec. 19, 2021. Tribune photo

What will be the realistic cost of power from hydropower projects being pushed by the Prime Minister during this visit today to Himachal Pradesh? One indication of that comes from the 111 MW Sawra Kuddu HEP that he inaugurates during his visit. The cost of this project is already over Rs 2080 Crores, likely to go up further. Which means per MW installed capacity, the cost is around Rs 20 Crores. At this cost, the cost of power from the project is likely to be over Rs 8 per unit even without factoring in the social, environmental and increased disaster vulnerability costs that such projects impose on the fragile Himalayan Mountains. As if to also remind the active seismic zone, on the eve of his visit, there were tremors, even if mild, in Mandi.

The Renuka dam that he lays the foundation for does not even have all the statutory clearances. Its EIA has been the most dishonest exercise, as came out in the NGT hearings. What signal is the government sending by laying foundation stone for such a project? Similar are the issues with Luhri I and Dhaulasidh HEPs. The government seems to be pushing such outdated, unviable, costly and destructive projects in fragile Himalayan regions, purely on political arithmetic assumptions, but possibly need to realise that these projects are not even popular and they are also most inappropriate in the climate change context. Or is it the lure of spending such huge sums of unaccountable public money that provide opportunities for getting election funds for the party that is driving such undemocratic decisions?

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CWC - Central Water Commission

Rivers crossing HFLs in Oct-Nov 2021

Feature image probably shows flooded human habitation along Cheyyeru river after Annamayya project failure on Nov. 19. However, caption of image published in Deccan Herald report does not mention it.

India has been witnessing unusual monsoon rains in 2021. First the delay in South West Monsoon[i] withdrawal till third week of October 2021 brought heavy rainfalls in several states of North India in the first half of October 2021. Then the extreme rainfall spells during North East Monsoon[ii] have caused floods in several parts of south India in quick succession in November 2021.

In October 2021, the all India rainfall has been 33% above normal while November rainfall being record breaking 86% above normal. The formation and interactions between low depressions and western disturbances largely contributed in record breaking rainfall events during this period including the onset of La Nina phenomena.   

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Dam Disaster

Andhra Pradesh: Dam Induced Flood Disaster in November 2021

Feature image:- Damaged Annamayya dam on Cheyyeru river in Kadapa (Source:NaveenReddy@navin_ankampali)

After Pulichintala dam gate disaster[i] of August 05, 2021, the state of Andhra Pradesh has witnessed another dam induced flood disaster in 2021. This started with, part of Annamayya dam in Pennar (also called Penna) river basin[ii] getting washed away resulting in widespread destruction in downstream areas on November 19.

Around same time, there were more incidents of damages to dams and dam induced flooding in Kadapa, Chittoor, Anantapur districts of Rayalaseema and adjoining Nellore district. Firstly, the collapse of Pincha project ring bund contributed to Annamayya flood disaster. Then, one of metal bund of Mylavaram project was washed away.

Fourthly, the sudden releases from Veligallu and Buggavanka dams in Kadapa and Kalyani dam in Tirupati resulted in flash flood destruction in downstream areas. Apart from this, the leakages in Rayalacheruvu tank bund in Chittoor district could have turned into a big disaster.

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Dams

Rivers that crossed Highest Flood Level in Monsoon 2021

(Feature image River Betwa in flood spate on Aug. 4, 2021. Source: Sharad Chandra, Director, CWC)

While India has received 874.6 mm rainfall which falls in normal[i] category in just concluded south west monsoon season, there have been at least 27 incidents of rivers crossing the Highest Flood Levels (HFLs) ever recorded in the past and attaining new HFLs in 5 river basins (some composite basins) in India, as recorded by the Central Water Commission (CWC) Flood Forecasting site[ii] during the monsoon.

The maximum 12 such instances have taken place in Ganga basin followed by 6 in west flowing rivers Tapi to Tadri basin, 5 in Godavari, 2 in West Flowing rivers Tadri to Kanyakumari basin and 1 each in Subernarekha and Tapi basin.

For past three years, SANDRP has been tracking the HFL breach incidents during monsoon season. The analysis of such HFL breaches in 2018[iii], 2019[iv] and 2020[v] can be seen on our website.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 6 Sep 2021: DISASTERS GOING UP in Himalayas, across India & Globally

(Feature image: Rani Pokhri bridge on the Dehradun Rishikesh highway collapsed near Dehradun, August 27, PTI https://www.thequint.com/news/india/uttarakhand-rains-bridge-on-dehradun-rishikesh-highway-collapses-no-casualties#read-more)

Data published this week (see below) shows that disasters are going up almost five fold in the Himalayas (data from Uttarakhand, HP below, but this is not different in rest of Himalayas), nationally and even globally. The data from UN report this week shows that the disasters are up five fold in recent years. Damage is up even more. As the data of landslides due to Char Dham High way and hydropower projects show, the contribution from these projects to the disaster is clear. So much so that even the editorial in The Hindustan Times this week asked to stop these disastrous projects. While it is unlikely that the governments or politicians would wake up to this reality anytime soon, one expects the judiciary, media, civil society and academics to take up this issue on urgent basis.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 5 Apr 2021: Maan Dam affected get hope for justice: Salutes to NBA

A Supreme Court appointed Appeal Forum, appointed as per the SC order in 2012 has directed the Madhya Pradesh (MP) Govt to provide minimum 2 ha land to every displaced family as per the policy. This has raised hopes for just rehabilitation for the thousands of people displaced by the Maan dam in Dhar district of MP by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA). This is a major victory for the three decades long struggle of the affected people, led by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). The Forum has asked the govt to provide land to the affected in three months. The dam has been constructed on Maan river, a tributary of Narmada. One hopes the displaced get the justice soon as per the orders of the SC appointed appeal forum. Salutes to NBA for this. One hope the Supreme Court will ensure this happens in a just and expeditious way.

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Dam Safety

Uttarakhand: Aging Bhimtal Dam Raising Serious Safety Concerns

(Feature image: Arial view of Bhimtal Lake and dam. Source:- Postoast.com)

All is not well with Bhimtal dam in Nainital district, Uttarakhand. On March 8, 2021 morning, the fillers from its protection wall wobbled out. It sparked panic among local residents living near the largest lake of Kumaon region. For past couple of years they have been concerned about the structural safety of the aging dam. The 138 years old dam has already been in news for vertical cracks and recurring seepages.

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