DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 07 June 2021: Local Water Options Stories from Five states

(Feature image A big main pond that has been constructed in the Phular village, Damoh. (Pic: Shahroz Afridi, News 18))

This week we would like to highlight some remarkable local water option stories from five states spread across India: Madhya Pradesh from Central India, Punjab from North India, Karnataka from South India, Rajasthan & Maharashtra from western India. These are stories just from this week among many others that show that local water options exist, they are the cheapest, sustainable, equitable, democratic and with least impacts and most appropriate in the climate change context. In a country like India where groundwater has been India’s water lifeline for over four decades now, these options are best suited for ensuring optimum recharge of groundwater aquifers at local level and sustaining those lifelines. Particularly when South West Monsoon is on our doorstep to gift its annual bounty to India. As UN starts the International Decade for Ecosystems Restoration with the theme of preventing, halting, reversing the degradation of ecosystems, these become even more important.     

Continue reading “DRP NB 07 June 2021: Local Water Options Stories from Five states”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 31 May 2021: Worrying Dam Water Storage at the onset of SW monsoon

(Feature image source: Onmanorama.com)

It would be very useful and educative to look at the water storage levels of some of the major reservoirs of India even as India awaits the annual bounty of water from the South West Monsoon that normally officially starts on June 1, but this year may start on June 3 as the latest India Meteorological Department forecast yesterday, that is on May 30, 2021. While high storages at this point in time creates a possible Dam Flood hazard that India has been experiencing with increasing frequency with changing monsoon rainfall patterns and unaccountable reservoir operations, it also indicates the gross inefficiency of our use of water stored in these reservoirs if there is a lot of water there in the beginning of the annual filling period. It indicates that the storages created with such massive economic, social and environmental costs have not been optimally utilised in the just ending water year on May 31. Unfortunately, no agency is monitoring the water storages in these major reservoirs and asking as to why there is non optimal use of water and then addressing the reasons wherever they see such non optimal storages at the end of water year. SANDRP has been raising this issue for many years.

Continue reading “DRP NB 31 May 2021: Worrying Dam Water Storage at the onset of SW monsoon”
Chalakudy · Dam floods · Kerala

Reservoir Operations Fail People in Chalakudy River Basin in Kerala in 2020

Guest Article by S P Ravi

Kerala continues to witness unusual monsoon rainfall patterns for the third straight year in 2020. Kerala had witnessed its worst flood in almost a century in 2018. The 2019 flood was probably second only to the 2018 floods over the last 50 years, with many places experiencing larger floods than that in 2018. While the state did not face huge floods this year, tragedy struck in the form of the Pettimudi landslide near Munnar in Idukki district. It buried alive 70 members of plantation labourer families, making it the worst ever landslide in Kerala in terms of human causality. Kerala has also witnessed its wettest monsoon in September in this millennium with a rainfall of 601 mm, surpassing the previous highest of 526 mm recorded in 2007. The S-W monsoon period is now over and the state received 2227 mm rainfall, which is 9 percent above long term average.

Continue reading “Reservoir Operations Fail People in Chalakudy River Basin in Kerala in 2020”
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”

Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

Role of dams in Kerala floods: Distortion of Science

Guest Article by: J.Harsha

Introduction: In August, 2018, devastated floods occurred in the southern Indian state of Kerala that led to widespread death and destruction to livelihoods. One of the worst affected basins was Periyar River Basin (PRB). While investigating the role of dams in the devastating floods, an article titled, “Role of dams on the floods of August 2018 in Periyar River Basin, Kerala” by Sudheer et al., (2019) was first published in the Current Science1 Journal brought out by Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru, India on 10th March 2019. The journal article by Sudheer et al., (2019) adopts hydrological model to investigate the role of dams in the occurrence of floods in PRB and concludes that dams had less or little role in the occurrence of floods in comparison to the natural reasons. However, when the article was reviewed, it was found that the authors Sudheer et al., (2019) had made fallacious assumptions, errors in their methodology, adopted poor data quality and they have arrived at erroneous inferences and conclusions such as exonerating the role of dams in Kerala floods but indicting the nature as the cause of floods. This review article therefore, using RS & GIS (Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System) techniques challenges their inferences that is based on fallacious assumptions, accumulated errors in their methodology and the poor data quality fed into the hydrological model.

Continue reading “Role of dams in Kerala floods: Distortion of Science”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 27 July 2020: China’s Three Gorges Dam may be safe for now, but at what cost?

International media has been full of stories this last few weeks, about the likely fate of the world’s biggest dam project: The Three Gorges Dam of China. The stories ranged from possible imminent threat of collapse of the dam to those from China that rubbished all such ideas. Part of it was fuelled by the World’s anti China mood due to the Covid and its expansionist activities including at Indian borders. But part of the reason was the difficulty to getting hard facts, since China does not have free media or democracy and suppresses any critical information. One direct evidence of this Chinese tendency was apparent when Reuters was the first one to publish on July 22, 2020, the story of a dam collapse in China on June 7, full 45 days after the event and even that story could not find any official to quote about the dam collapse. A more telling example of China’s tendency to suppress basic facts would be difficult to come by from recent times. Continue reading “DRP NB 27 July 2020: China’s Three Gorges Dam may be safe for now, but at what cost?”

Dam floods

Ireland Supreme Court holds dam operator responsible for 2009 floods

In a landmark, trend setting judgement, the Ireland Supreme Court delivered an important ruling[i]  on July 8, 2020 that the dam operator ESB (Electricity Supply Board, https://www.esb.ie/) was guilty of negligence concerning extensive flood damage to buildings on the campus of UCC.

UCC’s action over the damage is among about 400 sets of proceedings initiated against the ESB arising from the flooding. The finding of negligence by four of the five judges has implications for those cases, and wider implications for the ESB’s liability arising from its management of hydroelectric dams in the State. Aviva, UCC’s insurer sought €20m damages for losses at UCC, plus another €14m for losses suffered by other property owners. The Supreme Court had decided it should first determine whether the ESB had a liability.[ii] Continue reading “Ireland Supreme Court holds dam operator responsible for 2009 floods”

Dam floods · Krishna River · Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin again faces prospects of Dam Floods?

Seven major dams with high storage capacities in Upper Krishna Basin in Maharashtra’s Satara and Sangli districts have huge 1422.12 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) water in live storage as on May 30, 2020, just about a week away from the prospects of beginning of monsoon. The Wadnere committee’s efforts not withstanding, there is no doubt that almost simultaneous water release from these seven dams played a major role in creating highest ever flood levels in Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin in August 2019. Though on this day last year, these seven dams had much lower water in live storage at 556.49 MCM, the almost simultaneous water release from these dams hugely contributed to the unprecedented flood disaster in Sangli district last year. With 256% water in live storage this year compared to last year on this date, the risk of these dams contributing to flood disaster in Sangli district is even greater this year. Unless the authorities in the water resources department, district administration and disaster management authorities wake up and ensure that these dams help moderate rather than contribute to floods. Continue reading “Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin again faces prospects of Dam Floods?”

Bhakra Dams · Dam floods · Indus

Are we ready to use more water from snow melt in Indus basin this year?

Union Water Resources Minister Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has recently said that the snow this year on Himalayan peaks is the highest in 50 years, and reservoirs like Bhakra, Pong, Ranjit Sagar, Ramganga, Tehri, etc will receive very high water inflow from snowmelt during summer and SW Monsoon.[i] This is in fact the third warning this year on this issue. Earlier on Feb 27, 2020 and then again on May 4, 2020, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) provided the same warning to its partner states. However, neither the Union Minister & BBMB, nor the partner states seem ready or doing anything to prepare for the unprecedented situation that the dams and rivers may bring in ongoing summer and coming SW monsoon.

In fact the situation is similar to the one that happened twice at Bhakra-Pong-Ranjit Sagar Dams last year[ii]. Even then not only there were massive floods, but the water flowed away to Pakistan, totally against the declared pronouncements and policy of Indian Government leaders including the Prime Minister. Continue reading “Are we ready to use more water from snow melt in Indus basin this year?”

Dam floods

NSW Supreme Court holds dam operators responsible for Australia’s Brisbane 2011 floods

In a landmark judgment, the January 2011 Brisbane (Australia) floods class action decision was announced by the New South Wales[i] Supreme Court (Justice Robert Beech-Jones) on Nov 29, 2019[ii]. The court held[iii] the State of Queensland, Wivenhoe Dam operators and engineers responsible for inappropriate operation of the dam. It’s one of the largest ever class action suits of Australia and could cost the government millions of dollars. Continue reading “NSW Supreme Court holds dam operators responsible for Australia’s Brisbane 2011 floods”