DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 9 May 2022: Forensic Team report: Michigan 2020 Dams failures were preventable

A Forensic engineering Team appointed by the USA’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission post the May 19, 2020 failure of Edinville and Sanford Dams in Michigan state of USA has published a 502 page comprehensive report on the dam failure within less than two years of the disaster. The full report published on May 4, 2022 is in public domain and has concluded that the dam failures were foreseeable and preventable.

There are a number of things we can learn from this. Firstly that there are such credible independent assessment of dam failures, we have none in India even after multiple dam failures each year. Secondly, such assessments are promptly in public domain. Thirdly, the reports are completed in less then two years. We have none of these. Even the Dam Safety Act passed by the parliament does not have provisions for any of these.

There are a lot of implications for India here. It means for example that we will never know the real reasons for the dam related disasters. Secondly, we won’t be able to learn any lessons. Thirdly we will never be able to improve the governance of our dams and rivers. Fourthly, we won’t be able to fix accountability.

There is so much at stake related to governance of our dams, but we seem completely unconcerned about it. There is a lot we can learn from others here.

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Ramganga

उत्तराखंड: सड़क मलबे में दफन होती रामगंगा की धाराएं

यह सचित्र रिपोर्ट इस बात पर प्रकाश डालती है कि कैसे उत्तराखंड में ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में सड़क निर्माण दौरान उत्तपन्न मलबे को नियमों के विपरीत छोटी जलधाराओं, गदेरों में फेंक दिया जाता है जो नदी पर्यावरण तंत्र को तात्कालिक तौर पर नुकसान पहुँचाने के अलावा भविष्य में किसी बड़ी आपदा का कारक भी बन सकती है।  

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Dam Disaster

Hydro Power Projects, Dams Accidents & Damages in 2021

Feature Image:- NDRF team search at Tapovan Vishnugad barrage as rescue operations continue. Source: Business Standard

Hydroelectric projects (HEPs) in India have been causing avoidable accidents and amplifying disaster potential, thus damaging the rivers eco-system, local environment and lives & livelihoods of communities. There have been several of such incidents across the country in 2021. In this report we put together a state wise account of most such incidents. 

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 25 Oct 2021: J&K HC concerned about Sindh River

(Feature image: Sindh river seen from Duderhama bridge. Source Wikipedia.)

In a noteworthy development this week, on Oct 21, 2021, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Jutice Sanjay Dhar has sought reports about the Sindh River from Secretaty Revenue and Seccretary Irrigation & flood control by Nov 15, and both officers have been directed to be present in the court. The HC has been following up on this issue through earlier orders on Sept 18, Aug 12. The High Court has been asking for demarcation of Sindh River in Ganderbal district of J&K and removal of encroachments.

The River originates in the Machoi Glacier at an elevation of 4800m east of the Amarnath temple and south of the Zoji La and passes through the alpine hill station Sonmarg. The river is facing the worst kind of pollution through constructions- hotels, tourist hut, resorts etc – being undertaken at various places on the river beds and floodplains. The River is the natural habitat of trout, and other fish, the most famous among them are: brown trout, rainbow trout, snow trout, Shuddgurn and Anyour. The River also suffers from mechanised mining and pollution.

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Cloud Burst

Himachal Pradesh: Cloud Bursts in Monsoon 2021

(Feature image:- Local people trying to crossing the overflowing Jahlma drain with a rope to take an injured person to the hospital. Source: Amar Ujala, July 30, 2021.)

The Himalayan states have been facing reoccurring cloud burst disasters for the past several years. The state of Uttarakhand witnessed 50 such events, 24 pre monsoon[i] and 26 during south west monsoon[ii] season of 2021. This account highlights the situation of the emerging climatic threat in Himachal Pradesh in pre monsoon and monsoon months in 2021.

Here it may be noted that during SW Monsoon months of June to Sept 2021, Himachal Pradesh had 10% below normal rainfall, with 8 of the twelve districts of the state experiencing below normal rainfall. Lahaul and Spiti had the highest deficit at -65%. Among the four districts that had above normal rains, Kullu had the highest surplus at +40%. Even during the pre-monsoon months (March to May 2021), HP had 10% below normal rains.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 18 Oct 2021: IRW 2021 to start on Nov 8 with theme on Riverine Fisheries

IRW (India Rivers Week) is excited to announce details of annual event for 2021. The unique annual event, the only one with focus on India’s Rivers continues as a virtual dialogue this year, with the theme: “Healthy Rivers, Fish and Fishers”. It will include series of five webinars, with theme as given in the poster above.

To join, please register at: http://indiariversforum.org/IRW2021

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 27 Sep 2021: TN HC: Protest against environment violations fundamental duty

(Feature image: Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the killings of 13 protesters in Tuticorin. Photograph: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty, Source The Guardian report. )

In a remarkable refreshing order, the Madurai bench of Tamil Nadu High Court has held that protest against environmental violations like that of Sterlite factory is a fundamental duty of citizens. The Madurai bench has reasoned that the duties of the state in protecting the environment are basically the rights of the people. The bench relied on Article 51-A (g) of Part IV-A (Fundamental Duties), which deals with the duty to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. A liberal interpretation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the constitution enabled the bench to hold that right to environment, free of danger of disease and infection is inherent in it.

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Dams · Hydro Disaster

Uttarakhand: Disaster around NHPC’s Dhauliganga Hydropower project

The border areas of Pithoragarh witnessed large scale destruction[i] following series of disasters on August 30, 2021 night. The event[ii] unfolded after unprecedented rainfall in the region causing flash floods in local streams and Kali River also known as Sarda. The affected areas included villages in Darchula district of Nepal located across Kali River which forms natural boundary here between India and Nepal.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 20 Sep 2021: Policy needed for Urban Rivers, not Riverfronts

There is no doubt that India urgently needs a guidance note and policy for Environment Sensitive, Climate Adaptive and Socially inclusive Urban Rivers Planning and Development. But this is required for the Urban Rivers and not just Urban Riverfront. The NMCG attempt like that of Sabarmati and numerous other river fronts unfortunately are not bothered about rivers, they are only interested in grabbing land from the Urban Rivers and convert the rivers into concrete channels on two and in some cases three sides (include the sides and the bed of the rivers). That is clearly death knell for the rivers. There is no doubt that there is need connect the people with the rivers, not just river fronts. The NMCG and other government bodies know the difference, so it is not out of ignorance that they have come out with the guidance note for river fronts rather than one for rivers. Unless people, civil society, experts and judiciary raise these issues, the future of Urban rivers seem bleak in India, as can be seen from the stories of Urban rivers compiled here from this week. 

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Dams · Hydro Disaster

Uttarakhand: Cloud Bursts around Vyasi HEP

On August 25-27, 2021 the most of hilly districts in Uttarakhand witnessed intense rainfall events causing widespread destruction. Media reports and local people suggest at least seven cloud burst incidents occurring in quick succession over Binhar range in Pacchawadoon and Mussoorie hills dividing Ganga and Yamuna basins in Dehradun district. The resultant deluge has also affected the under construction Vyasi Hydro Electric Project (HEP) areas in Vikas Nagar tehsil highlighting that the project is unprepared to cope with existing & emerging disasters.

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