Char Dham Highway · Dams

Char Dham Road Project Kills 8 Labours: Will State & Central Govts Wake Up Now?

The landslide incident[i] on under construction Char Dham All Weather Road Project in Rudraprayag district of Uttrakhand has killed 8 labours on 21 December 2018 around 12.30 pm near Banswada in Ukhimath Bhiri area on the Rudraprayag-Gaurikund national highway (NH 107).

 

WhatsApp images of incident site 

On 22 December 2018, body of a 19 year old worker was recovered[ii] by the rescue team. A total of 23 workers  were at the site at the time of the incident. As per reports, 11 workers got buried under debris, 5 workers were critically injured while 12 others had narrow escape. All the victims[iii] are stated to be from Uri town in Baramula district of Jammu & Kashmir. As per locals, one of the JCB machine placed at the site has fallen[iv] in the river along with debris.

Man Made Disaster

The Ukhimath police has registered an FIR against a private construction company, holding it responsible for the mishap at the construction site of Char Dham all-weather road. Preliminary observations by police team has found major negligence[v] of the executive body.

As per police the work was being carried out without following the basic safety standards for the workers. The director and supervisor of the private construction firm have been booked[vi] under various sections of Indian Penal Code. 

Manglesh Ghildiyal, the District Magistrate, Rudraprayag has also ordered[vii] magisterial inquiry into the incident. Jakholi SDM has been asked to submit the probe report within 10 days. Additional chief secretary of Uttarakhand, Om Prakash, has ordered a safety audit of the all-weather road construction sites to check whether the work is being done adhering to scientific norms.

The audit team will comprise of a senior geologist and a senior officer from the PWD. Some of the workers alleged that the landslide was triggered[viii] by construction work and had occurred as the mountain was being cut to widen the road.

Surprisingly about a week before the Rudraprayag landslide incidents, the DM has also found significant negligence being exercised by the Noida based RGB construction company in cutting the hill slopes.  The company has not even provided helmets and insurance cover to the workers. Earlier, in June 2018 and September 2018 it was issued noticed for not following safety measures. 

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Rudraprayag Highly Landslide Prone Area

According to data compiled by the Uttarakhand’s Disater Mitigaton and Management Centre, 529 landslide prone areas have been identified on the Char Dham route. Rudraprayag district where the landslide occurred has the highest number of landslide zones at 319.

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Google map of the incident site 

Local People Protesting Against The Project

The project would displace[ix] about 3000 villagers in the district. Many residents have been protesting against the project demanding fair compensation. On December 7, 2018, the local people including shopkeepers and traders closed the district and took out a massive protest rally[x]. On December 15, the protestors launched an indefinite hunger strike[xi] demanding proper rehabilitation and compensation.

Issue Pending in Supreme Court

This is one of the worst landslides so far due to the 889 km long highway project[xii] which has been broken into 52 parts to bypass the mandatory environmental clearances. The Rs 11,700 crore rupee project is ongoing despite the fact that the matter is sub-judice. 

On 22 October 2018, the Supreme Court (SC) had stayed[xiii] National Green Tribunal (NGT) order clearing the two lane highway project. During 26 November 2018 hearing the SC has asked the Centre to file its reply[xiv] within two weeks.

Another Landslide Caused By Char Dham Road Project 

Meanwhile, Char Dham All Weather Road Project creates another landslide on Dec. 22, this time on Badrinath Rishikesh Highway near Farasu Mandoli village in Srinagar. The work is damaging the roads causing difficulties for local commuters who are also getting injured during night time. People say debris and stones are falling continuously disrupting the traffic for hours.

Compiled by SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

Post Scripts:- 

Despite SC orders muck dumping in Alaknanda River continues on Badrinath NH. Similarly many villages along the slope on Chamba Rishikesh highway are affected due to muck dumping says the Amar Ujala 16 Dec. 2018 report. 

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The local Hindi dailies (between 15-25 Dec. 2018) are replete with reports revealing serious negligence and violation of norms in execution of the project leading to fatal landslides across the state.  

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End Notes:

[i] https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/7-labourers-on-char-dham-road-project-in-uttarakhand-killed-in-landslide/story-NhcWWgzp9fvpfVxU1BuVsM.html

[ii] https://newsjizz.com/109568-death-in-the-landslide-rudraprayag-increases-to-8-pvt-firm-booked.html

[iii] http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/7-labourers-of-uri-killed-3-injured-one-missing-in-ukhand/

[iv] https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/uttarakhand/other-cities/land-slide-in-uttarakhand-kedarnath-roadway-many-killed/articleshow/67191677.cms

[v] https://epaper.jagran.com/epaper/23-dec-2018-105-garwal-edition-garwal-page-7-page-1.html

[vi] https://kashmirlife.net/uttarakhand-incident-search-operation-resumes-to-trace-out-the-8th-kashmiri-labourer-195906/ 

[vii] http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/7-labourers-of-uri-killed-3-injured-one-missing-in-ukhand/

[viii] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/7-char-dham-road-workers-dead-3-injured-in-landslide-in-rudraprayag/articleshow/67199361.cms

[ix] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/rudraprayag-villages-displaced-by-char-dham-road-construction-demand-higher-ex-gratia/articleshow/66816469.cms

[x] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/char-dham-project-displaced-people-threaten-hunger-strike-if-demands-not-met/articleshow/66993306.cms

[xi] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/2500-families-affected-by-char-dham-road-project-launch-indefinite-protest/articleshow/67109768.cms

[xii] https://sandrp.in/2018/10/06/char-dham-highway-project-an-overview/

[xiii] https://thewire.in/environment/future-of-char-dham-highway-uncertain-as-sc-stays-ngt-order-allowing-the-project

[xiv] http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/nov/27/chardham-project-sc-asks-centre-why-ngt-order-should-not-be-stayed-1903858.html

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 24 Dec. 2018: MoEF and WII’s Compromises Cater to Hydro Vested Interests

In a shocking revelation, Jay Mazoomaar in this Indian Express report exposes how Wildlife Institute of India not only accepted consultancies from hydropower companies, but also diluted the mandate for the studies for given by statutory bodies like NGT, NBWL and FAC, but also provided compromised reports catering to the interests of the hydropower developers, thus trying to clear the way for the two controversial mega hydropower projects, one each in Dibang and Lohit river basins in Arunachal Pradesh. https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/arunachal-pradesh/wildlife-institute-all-for-hydel-projects-in-arunachal-pradeshs-tiger-zone-5499656/

In case of the 3097 MW Etalin project being developed by Jindal and Arunachal Pradesh govt, the IE report says: “the WII was asked by the Ministry (MoEF) to assess the feasibility of the plan that requires 1,166 hectares of forestland in the valley. The Ministry’s move followed a recommendation from its Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) to conduct an environment impact assessment study. Instead, the WII initiated a study to find how the project’s impact on wildlife can be minimised”. Thus instead of doing the mandated scientific impact assessment, the WII initiated a study to minimise the project’s impact.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 24 Dec. 2018: MoEF and WII’s Compromises Cater to Hydro Vested Interests”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 17 December 2018: Dam Safety Bill Introduced, Tamil Nadu, Odisha Oppose; Why No Role For Independent Experts?

On Dec 12, 2018, The government introduced the Dam Safety Bill amid din in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday even as Biju Janata Dal group leader Bhartruhari Mahtab questioned the legislative competence of the House on the matter.

The Bill provides for “surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams for prevention of dam failure related disasters and to provide for institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning”. There are over 5,200 large dams in the country and about 450 are under construction. There are also thousands of medium and small dams whose safety remains a matter of concern due to lack of legal and institutional safeguards. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/parliament-winter-session-govt-introduces-dam-safety-bill-5490911/   (13Dec.2018) Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 17 December 2018: Dam Safety Bill Introduced, Tamil Nadu, Odisha Oppose; Why No Role For Independent Experts?”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 12 November 2018: Waterways Deteriorate Ganga, But Gadkari And Modi are Oblivious

PM Modi inaugurated the first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga river in Varanasi on Nov. 12 under a project aimed at promoting inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport. The multi-modal terminals are being built as part of the central government’s Jal Marg Vikas Project that aims to develop the stretch of the river Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1,500-2,000 tonnes. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pm-modi-to-inaugurate-1st-multi-modal-terminal-on-ganga-river-in-varanasi-1944924  (9 Nov. 2018)

Explaining the negative impact of waterways projects on Ganga River, Shripad Dharmadhikary in Hindi report titled जलमार्ग परियोजना बदहाल नदियों पर एक हमला writes that the projects lack public consultation “गंभीर बात है कि जलमार्ग विकास से सबसे ज्यादा प्रभावित होने की सम्भावना स्थानीय जनता को है। इसके बावजूद जलमार्ग के विकास से संबंधित ज्यादातर कामों के आयोजन और क्रियान्वयन के लिए न तो इनकी सलाह ली गई है, और न ही इनके बारे में जनता को जानकारी दी गई है। कुल मिलाकर इन जलमार्गों के सामाजिक और पर्यावरणीय प्रभावों का ठीक से आकलन नहीं हुआ है, ऊपर से इन्हें पर्यावरणीय मंजूरी के दायरे से बाहर रखा गया है और सारी प्रक्रिया में लोगों की सहभागिता का भी पूरा अभाव है। ऐसे में जलमार्गों के रूप में इतना बड़ा हस्तक्षेप हमारी नदियों पर एक और बड़ा हमला है जो पहले से बुरी हालत में हैं। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BE-%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B8-62034  (5 Nov. 2018)

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 12 November 2018: Waterways Deteriorate Ganga, But Gadkari And Modi are Oblivious”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 29 October 2018: Better Paddy Options Exist For Punjab

A try-out of the technique to grow paddy without puddling at village Chehlan of Ludhiana has resulted in higher yield in comparison to puddled fields, while saving water in the process. The crop was ready for harvest days before expected time, saving irrigation water otherwise to be used for another fourteen days. This trial was funded and supervised by ATMA, a central govt.  scheme under the Union Ministry of Agriculture.

Puddling is a traditional method of flooding paddy fields with running water, whereas in non-puddling technique, ‘ridges and furrows’ are formed in soil to let water store in spaces and let it stay, thus reducing irrigation frequency.

“Not paddy but puddling is the enemy of waters of Punjab. It is wastage of water to puddle fields as most of it just evaporates. We have saved 45-50 per cent of water in non-puddled fields. Our yield has been almost 30 per cent more from fields where crop was not puddled. Also, non-puddled crop matured very early, saving at least ten days of irrigation water,” says Rupinder Singh Chahal (43) who along with his brothers Jasvir Singh (48) and Kulwinder Singh (52) experimented with ‘non-puddling’ technique on four acres this year.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 29 October 2018: Better Paddy Options Exist For Punjab”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 22 October 2018: Looming Drought in Western India

(Feature image Gujarat state cumulative rainfall during SW monsoon 2018; Source: IMD)

Maharashtra State’s groundwater surveys and development agency (GSDA) has warned of a water scarcity in 11,487 villages of 167 tehsils in the State. In its 2018-19 report, the GSDA, which comes under the department of water supply and sanitation, has said the study of the groundwater level (in comparison to the level in October in the last five years) has shown that of the 353 tehsils in the State, 13,984 villages in 252 tehsils have shown a decrease by more than one metre.

Between October 15 and 21, 380 tankers were used across the State, against 91 tankers in the corresponding period last year. A week prior to that the number was 354, and 329 tankers were used in the first week of October.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 22 October 2018: Looming Drought in Western India”

Dams · Monsoon

Uttarakhand Monsoon 2018 Overview: Rainfall Normal, Distribution Abnormal

Uttrakhand has received 3% below normal rainfall during South West Monsoon 2018. Though the figure falls in normal category, however district level rainfall data paints a very different picture. Out of total 13 districts in the Himalayan state, four districts namely Almora, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal and Udham Singh Nagar have received deficit rains, whereas three districts which includes Bageshwar, Chamoli and Haridwar have got rainfall in excess. Out of the rest six districts four are on marginally positive side and two are on marginally negative side.

Continue reading “Uttarakhand Monsoon 2018 Overview: Rainfall Normal, Distribution Abnormal”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 8 October 2018: “WELCOME CHANGE! Kerala Depletes Reservoir in Anticipation of Deluge from Cyclone”

In spite of all the protests against criticism of Floods worsened by Dams in Kerala in Aug, its refreshing that Kerala now accepts needs for better operation of dams with IMD red alert in three districts:

– Senior officers expressed confidence that the dams can contain the flood waters even if it rains continuously for four days. Better late than never, commented experts on the Kerala State Electricity Board’s (KSEB) decision to keep the water level low. “We’re prepared to face any eventuality. There won’t be any need to open the dam shutters even if it rains continuously for four days. We’re maintaining the water level low in major dams. The water level in Mattupatty dam is close to the full reservoir level and we’ve decided to release water from Thursday. The situation is under control and there’s no need to panic,” said KSEB chairman N S Pillai. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 8 October 2018: “WELCOME CHANGE! Kerala Depletes Reservoir in Anticipation of Deluge from Cyclone””

Char Dham Highway · Dams

Char Dham Highway Project: An overview

(Feature image Source Char Dham Road ProjectL Stairway to heaven or highway to hell by Siddharth Agarwal)

The Char Dham All Weather Road Project has been approved by National Green Tribunal (NGT) on September 26, 2018. The controversial project has evoked several environmental concerns right from the inception stage.

Almost more than one and half year into the unmindful implementation of the project, the risks and fears associated with the project are clearly visible throughout the construction route. In last few months, several independent reports have also raised serious concerns over the haphazard manner in which the project is being executed through sensitive hilly terrain.  Continue reading “Char Dham Highway Project: An overview”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 17 September 2018: How Much of This Drought Is Man Made?

  1. Gujarat suffering due to political use of water for elections in 2017.
  2. Rajasthan given more water for elections there in 2018. Will Punjab, Haryana suffer now?
  3. Kerala drought: how much could have been reduced if dams were operated more prudently?
  4. North Interior Karnataka is suffering, but Krishna basin dams are almost full? Issue of unsustainable cropping patterns, groundwater overuse, and neglect of recharge & regulation?

Gujarat Water scarcity looms large with state receiving only 74% rainfall so far

  • Kutch and North Gujarat are likely to face severe water scarcity this year, officials said. The Kutch region has received a mere 26.51 percent of average rainfall so far, while North Gujarat has received 42.93 percent, central Gujarat 66.83 percent, Saurashtra 72.20 percent and South Gujarat the highest 94.79 percent.
  • However, the Sardar Sarovar Dam is filled up to 125.82 meters, and it can provide drinking water for the entire state till the next summer, the govt said. As per Govt. storage in Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada, which will be enough to meet the state’s need for drinking water through the next summer.
  • The Narmada water will also be used to fill up empty dams in Saurashtra including Aji 1, Macchu 2, Vadod and Ankadia through the Sauni scheme, officials said.
  • “The state govt will provide 20,000 cusecs water for the next 20 days to save the crops in water-starved areas,” Deputy CM Nitin Patel told reporters in Gandhinagar said.
  • “We plan to fill up 400 big and small ponds in North Gujarat by Narmada water through canals and pipeline network of the Sujlam Suflam scheme,” he said.
  • “We also plan to fill the dams in Saurashtra region and provide water for irrigation from Narmada Dam under the SAUNI scheme,” he said. https://www.firstpost.com/india/water-scarcity-looms-large-in-gujarat-with-state-receiving-only-74-rainfall-so-far-this-monsoon-says-government-5188271.html (15 Sept. 2018)

Himachal Pradesh Rajasthan quietly given extra water by BBMB to improve BJPs Poll prospects A detailed story about how BBMB, controlled by Central Power Ministry, released excess water to BJP ruled Rajasthan this poll year, which has deepened the water availability at BBMB dams this year. This is not that the first time that the water releases have happened to achieve poll objectives. https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2018/09/16/rajasthan-quietly-given-extra-water-by-bhakra-dam-board-to-improve-bjps-poll-prospects_a_23528788/  (14 Sept. 2018)

Rajasthan Rainfall deficit in many districts As per IMD, Badmer district of Rajasthan has received rainfall 48 percent below normal till Sept. 16. Similarly rainfall deficit in Hanumangarh 58 percent so far. Jallor district is facing maximum rainfall deficit of 60 per cent less than normal. Likewise the rainfall in Pali district is 35 per cent below the normal and in Jaislmer is facing a rainfall deficit of 38 per cent. In Western Rajasthan it rained only 193 mm during entire monsoon season causing a  deficit of 24 per cent below the normal.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 17 September 2018: How Much of This Drought Is Man Made?”