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?”
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”
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.
Continue reading “How SSNNL violated its own Flood Memorandum 2020 during recent SSD induced floods”
We showed on Sept 2, 2020[i] using official information that Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) created an avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch, downstream of SSD starting on Aug 29, 2020, due to sudden, adhoc release of massive quantities water upto 10.72 lakh cusecs. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), official agency responsible for operation of the SSD is yet to provide any clear, coherent and fact based response. However, some of the spokespersons of SSNNL/ Government of Gujarat (GOG) are claiming that scientific operation of SSD saved Bharuch from bigger disaster. While this claim has no basis, this is like spraying salt on the fresh wounds.
Only an independent (not by serving or retired bureaucrats of the government) investigation would be able to bring out the truth as to how SSD operated, how it should have been operated, who is responsible for the massive disaster that Bharuch experienced, how can we fix accountability and what lessons we can learn for future.
Continue reading “SSD induced Bharuch Flood disaster: Reality behind SSNNL claims that it saved Bharuch”
સરદાર સરોવર ડૅમ (SSD)ના સંચાલકો જરાય વિચાર કર્યા વિના, અને કહી શકો કે, ક્રૂરતાથી, પાણી કેટલું છોડવું, ક્યારે છોડવું તેના નિર્ણયો લે છે. એમના નિર્ણયની અસર હેઠવાસમાં શું થશે તેના પર તો જરાય ધ્યાન નથી આપતા. કંઈ નહીં તો, ૨૬મી ઑગસ્ટ ૨૦૨૦થી જ એમને સત્તાવાર માહિતી મળી ગઈ હતી કે ભારે વરસાદને કારણે નર્મદાના ઉપરવાસમાં પાણી વધવા લાગ્યું છે. આ માહિતી પર એ કામ કરી શક્યા હોત તેમ છતાં ૨૯મી ઑગસ્ટ, શનિવારની વહેલી સવાર સુધી એમણે ડેમનાં સ્પિલ-વે ગેટ્સમાંથી પાણી ન છોડ્યું. ડૅમ ૭૦ ટકા ભરાઈ ગયો હોવા છતાં એમણે પાવર હાઉસો પણ ન ચલાવ્યાં. ઓચિંતા જ ૨૯મીની રાતે એમણે દસ લાખ ક્યુસેક – દર સેકંડે ઘન ફૂટ (૨૮,૩૨૦ ક્યુમૅક એટલે કે દર સેકંડે ઘન મીટર) પાણી છોડવાનું શરૂ કરી દીધું [i].. ત્રણ દિવસ પછી ૧ સપ્ટેમ્બર, મંગળવારની સાંજે એમણે મોટા ભાગનાં સ્પિલ ગેટ બંધ કરી દીધાં. આમ સ્પિલ-વેમાંથી નીકળતા પાણીનો જથ્થો પહેલાં કરતાં માત્ર દસમા ભાગનો રહ્યો. આ ૩-૪ દિવસમાં (૨૯મી ઑગસ્ટ અને ૧લી સપ્ટેમ્બર વચ્ચે) પાણીનો ૩૦,૦૦૦ ક્યુમૅક સુધીનોજબ્બરદસ્ત જથ્થો સ્પિલ-વે મારફતે છોડવામાં આવ્યો; એના પહેલાં કે તેના પછી કંઈ જ નહીં! પરિણામે હેઠવાસમાં ગરૂડેશ્વરથી ચાંદોદ અને ભરૂચ સુધી પૂરનાં વિનાશકારી પાણી ફરી વળ્યાં. પરંતુ લાગે છે કે, સરદાર સરોવર પ્રોજેક્ટ (SSP)ના સત્તાવાળાઓ અથવા ગુજરાત સરકારના પેટનું પાણી પણ નથી હાલ્યું. હવે સમય આવી ગયો છે કે ગુજરાતની જનતા જાગે અને આ માનવસર્જિત તારાજી માટે SSPના ખેરખાંઓનો જવાબ માગે.
Continue reading “ભરૂચમાં પૂરની તારાજી માટે સરદાર સરોવર જવાબદાર”
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.
Continue reading “Sardar Sarovar Creates avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch”
The India Rivers Week 2018, in fifth year, will be held at WWF, Delhi during Nov 24-26, 2018. The focus of the IRW this time is: “Can India Rejuvenate Ganga?“. Shri Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga will address the inaugural session with Chief Guest Shri Jairam Ramesh, former Union Minister, in Chair. The meeting will see over 150 people from all over India participate to discuss state of India’s rivers at the only meeting in India focussing exclusively on rivers.
The Annual River Lecture will be given by Prof Rajiv Sinha of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. The Bhagirath Prayas Samman award for the best work on River Conservation and the Anupam Mishra Medal for exemplary media work on River conservation will be given away by famous Chipco leader Shri Chandiprasad Bhatt.
Shri U P Singh, Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources has agreed to the chief guest at the concluding session on Nov 26, Monday. Started in 2014, the meeting is collectively organised by Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, WWF-India, INTACH, Toxics Link, People’s Science Institute (Dehradun), Peace Institute and SANDRP.
For more information, please see: https://indiariversforum.org/2018/11/19/india-rivers-week-2018/. Follow IRW at: https://www.facebook.com/IndiaRiversWeek/ and https://twitter.com/IndiaRiversWeek
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 19 November 2018: India Rivers Week to focus on Ganga Rejuvenation during Nov 24-26, 2018”
ASSAM: NEEPCO a repeat offender? On July 27, 2018 sudden release of water from NEEPCO’s Doyang Hydropower Electric Project (HEP), located in Wokha district, Nagaland led to flood disaster, submerging about 36 villages in Golaghat a district in Upper Assam. According to Rony Rajkumar, project officer of the Golaghat district disaster management authority, around 5,575 people were affected by the deluge which damaged 887.9 ha of crop.
Earlier, on July 11, 2018, reviewing the severe flood situation Lakhimpur Assam, the Chief Minister (CM) Sarbananda Sonowal strongly warned the state-owned power utility NEEPCO not to release water from its Ranganadi dam without warning like previous years.
Continue reading “Dam Floods 2018: Assam, Himachal; Making Dam Operators Accountable”
Above: Google Map showing relevant locations (Map by Bhim Singh Rawat of SANDRP)
Several media reports have alleged that sudden water releases from Kurichu Dam in Bhutan has led to floods in Beki and Manas rivers in Assam on Oct 13, 2016 (Thursday), affecting thousands of people in Barpeta district & also reportedly Baksa district. This is not the first time that Kurichu water releases have led to this kind of situation, it has happened in the past including in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 (150 villages affected[i]), among other instances. The Indo Bhutan joint mechanism, established in 2004-05, following the July 2004 floods, has clearly failed to effectively address this issue. Continue reading “Bhutan’s Kurichu Dam releases floods Assam, again in 2016”
Above: Map Showing the location of Bansagar Dam, Sone River, Ganga River and Patna
Water level of Ganga at Patna reached 50.43 m on Aug 21, 2016 morning with still showing rising trend. This level was already 16 cm higher than the highest ever recorded flood level (HFL) of Ganga at Patna of 50.27 m. By Aug 22, 2016, at three more sites along Ganga, the water level had already breached the highest recorded levels: Balia in Uttar Pradesh (Ganga Water level at 60.3 m, higher than the HFL of 60.25 m recorded on Sept 14, 2003), Hathidah in Bihar (Ganga water level at 43.17 m, higher than the HFL of 43.15 m recorded on Aug 7, 1971, that is 45 years back) and Bhagalpur in Bihar (Ganga water level at 34.55 m, higher than HFL of 34.5 m recorded on Sept 3, 2013). This means that the highest flood level that started at Patna is now travelling both upstream and downstream along Ganga.
Several districts of Bihar along Ganga are facing floods, with at least 10 lakh people affected and about 2 lakh people displaced. On Aug 21 alone, NDRF teams have rescued over 5300 people from Didarganj, Bakhtiyarpur, Danapur Chhapra, Vaishali and Maner. At least ten lakh people have been affected in Bihar, two lakh have been displaced and scores have been killed. It seems more like and annual natural calamity.
But that is not the case, if we look closely. Available information shows that the unprecedented floods that we are now seeing in Ganga in Bihar and UP are largely due to contribution of two dams: Bansagar Dam along Sone river in Madhya Pradesh in the upstream and Farakka Dam (misleadingly called a Barrage) on the Ganga river in West Bengal. If Bansagar Dam was operated in optimum way, than it need not have released over ten lakh cusecs of water. As pointed out by Bihar government, the high floods brought by Ganga in Patna are majorly due to the high flow contributed by Sone river upstream of Patna. Continue reading “A tale of two dams: Is Bihar’s unprecedented flood an avoidable man-made disaster?”