Chhattisgarh · CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam Disaster · Mahanadi

Khanda Dam Breach in Chhattisgarh in Sept 2020

The earthen Khanda dam in Korea district[i] in Chhattisgarh’s Mahanadi basin breached around 6.30 hrs on Wednesday, Sept 23, 2020. Local farmers alleged negligence by the Water Resources Department officials, who were informed about the dilapidated condition of the dam. The engineers even came and inspected, they said, and went away. They alleged that if they had reduced water storage and in stead opened the two canal gates, this situation may not have come.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

Role of dams in Kerala Floods 2018: What are we missing?

Guest Article by: Dr. CG Madhusoodhanan

The dams and their management received a central role in all debates and discussions across the country on the causes of the 2018 Kerala floods. The role of dams in the floods was negated by two studies viz. the Central Water Commission (CWC) report on Kerala floods[i]  and the study by Prof. K P. Sudheer and team published in the Current Science journal[ii], both of which identified extreme rainfall as the primary cause of the floods. The latter study received wider publicity and attention because it was headed by an independent expert working at the premier technological institute viz. IIT Madras. Meanwhile, another peer-reviewed international publication from IIT Gandhinagar[iii] ascribed the floods of 2018 to the combined effect of extreme rainfall and dam mismanagement. Sri. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP in his EPW article argued that proper management of the dams would have drastically reduced the impacts of floods in the Periyar basin[iv]. More recently, Sri. J. Harsha, Director, CWC, Chennai has written a critique of the study by Sudheer et al (2019), in SANDRP which accused the study team of distorting   science through ‘fallacious assumptions, accumulated errors in their methodology and the poor data quality fed into the hydrological model[v].  A response by Sudheer et al[vi] to the J Harsha comments has now been published by SANDRP along with a rejoinder to the same by J Harsha[vii]. Due to these contradictory arguments and the highly technical nature of the problem, the dilemma continues among the public on the role of dams in causing floods. Continue reading “Role of dams in Kerala Floods 2018: What are we missing?”

CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

ROLE OF DAMS IN 2018 KERALA FLOODS: Rejoinder of J Harsha to the response by Sudheer et al

Rejoinder Article by: J.Harsha

An article titled “Role of dams on the floods of August 2018 in Periyar River Basin” was published by Sudheer et al. (2019) in Current Science. A rebuttal was prepared and thanks to South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), the same was published by SANDRP on 25th August 2020 (https://sandrp.in/2020/08/25/role-of-dams-in-kerala-floods-distortion-of-science/) for which Sudheer et al. (2019) has now furnished a response (https://sandrp.in/2020/09/19/response-of-sudheer-et-al-to-the-comments-by-mr-j-harsha-on-the-article-role-of-dams-on-the-floods-of-aug-2018-in-periyar-river-basin-kerala/).

In the rebuttal published by SANDRP, I had questioned the very basis of fitting HEC-HMS model for Periyar River Basin (PRB) by Sudheer et al. (2019), and also challenged the assumptions made by them, the methodology followed and the consequent voluminous inferences such as catchment response at Neeleshwaram (L2), virgin simulations, bank full discharges and particularly inferences that indicted nature for the flood calamity but exonerating the role of dams for the floods of Kerala in 2018. 

Continue reading “ROLE OF DAMS IN 2018 KERALA FLOODS: Rejoinder of J Harsha to the response by Sudheer et al”
Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

Response of Sudheer et al to the Comments by Mr. J. Harsha on the article, “Role of dams in the floods of Aug 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala”

Sudheer, K P1,2,*, S. Murty Bhallamudi1,3, Balaji Narasimhan1,3, Jobin Thomas1, Bindhu, V M1, Vamsikrishna Vema1,4, Cicily Kurian1,
1Department of civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai – 600036,
2Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.
3Indo German Centre for Sustainability, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai – 600036
*Corresponding Author: sudheer@iitm.ac.in

The authors of Sudheer et al. (2019) – hereinafter referred to as ‘authors’ – appreciate Mr. J. Harsha (hereinafter referred to as ‘commenter’) for his judgmental assessment (in his blog appeared on SANDRP website- “https://sandrp.in” on August 25, 2020, see: https://sandrp.in/2020/08/25/role-of-dams-in-kerala-floods-distortion-of-science/) of the authors’ work “Role of dams on the floods of August 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala” (published in the Current Science in 2019: [DOI: 10.18520/cs/v116/i5/780-794]). As mentioned in Sudheer et al. (2019), the primary objective of the article was to examine whether the early release of the water stored in the reservoirs would have attenuated the flood peaks, and if so, what would have been the extent of the attenuation, in the context of debates and discussions in the social, political, as well as scientific domains based on non-sequitur speculations. Accordingly, the authors designed a scientific exercise using a widely used hydrological model (HEC-HMS) to understand the role of the dams in the Periyar River Basin (PRB) in the 2018 flooding situation.

Continue reading “Response of Sudheer et al to the Comments by Mr. J. Harsha on the article, “Role of dams in the floods of Aug 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala””
CWC - Central Water Commission

North India; CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2020; New Website Old Problems

Flood forecasting is an important activity during monsoon, considering the huge and increasing flood prone area, flood frequency, intensity and flood damages. Accurate and timely flood forecasting can hugely help reduce the damages due to floods. Central Water Commission (CWC) is the only agency responsible for flood forecasting in India. To understand the CWC’s flood forecasting better, we have compiled the list of the various flood, inflow forecasting sites and flood monitoring sites in India.

In this compilation, we have given state wise list of CWC’s level forecasting, flood monitoring and inflow forecasting sites in North India, comprising of Union Territories Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Delhi and states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana  and Uttar Pradesh. It includes available details like name of river, sub basin, Warning level (WL), Danger Level (DL), High Flood Level (HFL), Full Reservoir Level (FRL), Maximum Water Level (MWL), as applicable. As we see below, there are many gaps in this basic information for the sites that are part of CWC’s list. A similar zonewise overview of CWC’s sites was compiled in 2018 and 2019, which can be seen here: Overview of CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2018: North India; Overview of CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2019: North India. We have brought this updated compilation for 2020 as there are large number of changes.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Gujarat · Narmada

How SSNNL violated its own Flood Memorandum 2020 during recent SSD induced floods

During the recent Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) induced flood disaster in areas downstream of the dam in Gujarat, the dam operator, SSNNL (Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited) violated its own Flood Memorandum (FM) 2020[i] in multiple ways.

The FM-2020 titled “Disaster Management Plan – 2020” provides detailed information about how the dam operation is to be done during South West Monsoon 2020, that is from June 1, 2020 to Oct 15, 2020, or whenever the monsoon has withdrawn. It is published by SSNNL’s Flood Control Cell and carries the names of six highest functionaries of SSNNL on second page: Chairman, Managing Director, Jt MD, Director (CAD), Director (Canal) and Director (Civil). It says Officer in charge of Flood Control Cell of SSNNL is Executive Engineer (Narmada Project Main Canal Division-2) and the FM-2020 is compiled by Superintending Engineer, Narmada Project Design Circle.

An earlier version of the Flood Memorandum for 2018[ii] is also available, which is useful as it has some additional information.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Narmada

Sardar Sarovar Creates avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch

Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) operators are operating the dam callously, almost cruelly, without consideration of the impact of the operation in the downstream area. Till Saturday-Aug 29, 2020 early hours, they were not releasing any water from the spillway gates of the dam, in spite of sufficient actionably information at least since Aug 26 that rainfall is hugely increasing in upstream Narmada basin. They were not even operating powerhouses even though the dam was close to 70% full. Suddenly, by Aug 29 night they started releasing upto ten lakh cusecs – Cubic Feet Per Second (28320 cumecs or Cubic Meters per second) of water[i]. Three days later, in the evening of Tuesday, Sept 1, they closed most of the spillway gates, thus reducing releases from spillway to less than a tenth of the earlier figure. During these 3-4 days (Aug 29-Sept 1), massive quantities were released, upto 30 000 cumecs through spillways, and almost nothing before or after! It created massive flood disaster all along the downstream from Gaudeshwar to Chandod to Bharuch, but the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) authorities or the Gujarat government seem least bothered. It is high time people of Gujarat wake up and hold the SSP operators accountable for this man made disaster.

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CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam floods · Floods

Central India downpour brings unprecedented flows in Brahmani, Chambal, Godavari, Mahanadi, Narmada, Suvarnarekha

A massive wave of flood is flowing down the rivers originating in Central India states from Odisha in East to Gujarat-Rajasthan in the west. At least fourteen river sites have seen breach of Highest Flood Levels (HFL) in last four days, a record by itself: 7 in Mahanadi, 5 in Godavari, 2 in JNarmada and one each in Suvarnarekha and Chambal. In at least four of these cases, the earlier HFL had survived for 26 years and has now been broken.

The flood wave that is traveling down is above above 35500 cumecs (12.54 lakh cusecs) in Narmada (at Indira Sagar Dam), above 25000 cumecs (8.83 lakh cusecs), in case of Mahanadi (at Hirakud Dam) and Godavari (at Gosikhurd Dam) rivers & over 15000 cumecs (5.3 lakh cusecs) in Chambal (at Gandhi Sagar Dam) River. Continue reading “Central India downpour brings unprecedented flows in Brahmani, Chambal, Godavari, Mahanadi, Narmada, Suvarnarekha”

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”

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”