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

Dam floods · Dams

Dam Floods 2018: Assam, Himachal; Making Dam Operators Accountable

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[1], submerging[2] 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[3] 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”

Cauvery · central water commission · Dams · Disasters · Floods · Karnataka · Tamil Nadu

Cauvery is facing very serious flood risk, but CWC is in slumber

(The figure above is screen shot of CWC Flood forecasting site showing no warning signs even at 5 pm on 230718)

Almost all the big dams in Cauvery Basin are full on the earlier ever monsoon date this year. This includes Krishnaraj Sagar, Mettur, Kabini, Harangi, Hemavathi and Bhavanisagar. They are almost full and have started releasing large flows to the downstream areas. This is when we are past just about six weeks of South West Monsoon, the North East monsoon would come after that. It means that the basin is facing major risk of floods in next 2-5 months. And yet Central Water Commission, India’s flood forecasting agency, seems to be in deep slumber. It has not even bothered to update the flood readings on its designated sites from the 2017 figures.  Continue reading “Cauvery is facing very serious flood risk, but CWC is in slumber”

brahmaputra · China · Siang

Muddy Siang is sign of danger ahead, wake up call for Indian authorities

The current ongoing episode of Muddy Siang River water in Arunachal Pradesh is due to landslides in the upstream Tibet, triggered by the earthquakes starting on Nov 17, 2017 or possibly earlier. This is revealed by the satellite pictures and work of two researchers, first published in Arunachal Times on Dec 21, 2017[i]. These landslides are partly blocking the Siang flow and could lead to massive floods in the downstream Arunachal Pradesh and Assam any day.

A similar event in year 2000 led to sudden, massive floods in Siang River in Arunachal Pradesh on June 1, 2000. That episode, like the current one, started about 53 days before the floods, on April 9, 2000 due to landslides along a tributary of Yarlung Tsangpo, as Siang is known in Tibet. Continue reading “Muddy Siang is sign of danger ahead, wake up call for Indian authorities”

Dams

DAM BUILDING MUST BE HALTED FOR A SAFE AND SECURE WORLD

Guest Blog by Manoj Misra

Rivers in different parts of the world have been dammed to fulfill human needs like water for irrigation, industries and domestic supplies. Then there are dams that have been raised to control floods or to produce electricity.

These have often been celebrated as human victory over nature, glorified as engineering marvel and claimed variously as highest, longest etc as a matter of national pride.

But rarely has there been a holistic assessment or appreciation of what a dam does to the natural entity called river and its adverse impacts on all the associated life forms, including humans.

Continue reading “DAM BUILDING MUST BE HALTED FOR A SAFE AND SECURE WORLD”

Beas · Himachal Pradesh

NHPC negligence leads to man-made disaster in Parbati Valley in Himachal Pradesh

(Above: illegal muck dumping by Parbati HEP along the Sainj River in Himachal Pradesh)

The people of Sainj-Parbati valley in Beas basin in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu disrict’s Banjar Tehsil are living in constant fear of a disaster. Since six days now, the power tunnel of the NHPC’s under construction 800 MW Parbati II hydropower project is heavily leaking, but NHPC refused to stop water release into the tunnel till the leakage led to landslides and displacement of people. Ultimately on the night of April 17, 2017, huge cracks spread over 200 m appeared in the hills, leading to landslide & fall of soil and rocks, immediately threatening eight families of Rahan (Reina) village, though over 400 families of some 12 villages of Rella Panchayat (including Rella, Sharan, Jiva, Sulga, Khadoa, Rahan, Shalah, Bhebal, Bahara, Bagidhar, Khaul, etc) are facing the prospects of disaster as cracks in the hill have appeared just above the villages. People here are spending sleepless nights since several days now. They are afraid that if the leakage continues, these villages will have to be evacuated any moment, else a major catastrophe may result.[i] Continue reading “NHPC negligence leads to man-made disaster in Parbati Valley in Himachal Pradesh”

Dams · Indus

So who will suffer in the Indus water imbroglio?

Diplomatic and military strategies, by definition, are not decided through public debates. So the jingoism around Indus treaty with Pakistan seems more like an attempt at sending threatening signals. But it will have multiple serious ramifications in any case, so it is worth deliberating about.

The 1960 Indus treaty has allocated rights of development on three eastern tributaries (Sutlej, Beas & Ravi) to India, and we have exhausted that entitlement almost fully. Attempts to use the occasional remaining flow will mean a huge impact in Indian Punjab, which is unlikely to resonate well with the people of Punjab.  The treaty gave Pakistan dominant right of development of the three western tributaries (Chenab, Jhelum and Indus), India has limitations about water use (both in terms of quantity and manner of use) in case of the western rivers. India has not yet exhausted the entitlement in this case.

Continue reading “So who will suffer in the Indus water imbroglio?”

Sikkim · Teesta

TEESTA LANDSLIDE DAM IN DZONGU: RIVER OVERFLOWS OVER DAM BUT RISK CONTINUE

Above: Submerged houses in reservoir behind landslide dam. Photo from Darjeeling Chronicle

The Kanaka River is flowing over the dam that was created on Aug 13, 2016, it is confirmed now, but the risk of the dam failure and disaster downstream continues. In the meanwhile, the upstream villages, cut off due to road damaged and bridge submerged, are facing serious problems.[i] Continue reading “TEESTA LANDSLIDE DAM IN DZONGU: RIVER OVERFLOWS OVER DAM BUT RISK CONTINUE”

Sikkim · Teesta

LANDSLIDE DAM BLOCKS TEESTA TRIBUTARY IN NORTH SIKKIM: MAJOR RISK TO TEESTA RIVER BANK COMMUNITIES

(Above: Lower part of the Dzongu Landslide, Photo from  Save the Hills)

According to a number of reports[i], at around 1230 hours on Aug 13, 2016, a massive landslide completely blocked the flow of Kanaka (Rongyoung) River near Mentam village in Dzongu region in North Sikkim. A hillock called “So Bhir” came crashing down, it is reported. The Landslide dam is about 50 m high, about 45 m wide, the landslide top point is about 900 m above the river. Darjeeling Chronicle reports, the river downstream is totally dry as the water has started collecting behind the landslide dam (that situation seems to have changed on 14th Aug morning around 830 am). Continue reading “LANDSLIDE DAM BLOCKS TEESTA TRIBUTARY IN NORTH SIKKIM: MAJOR RISK TO TEESTA RIVER BANK COMMUNITIES”

Dams · Himachal Pradesh

Sorang Hydropower disaster: Will we learn any lessons?

Google Earth Image of the Area 

A burst in penstock pipe of 100 MW Sorang hydro power project (HEP) in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh have played havoc with the lives and livelihoods of people of Burang and surrounding villages. On surface it may look like an accident. But deeper look raises doubts about many systemic loopholes that allowed the siutation that led to the disaster. Let us see the shortcomings and negligence exercised by project proponent and state government which finally resulted in the fatal accident. We urge the Himachal Pradesh Govt., other governments where such projects are coming up and Central Electricity Authority,  to constitute a monitoring cell to inspect quality of construction of ongoing HEPs and form adequate safety standards and enusre their strict implementation to prevent such mishaps from becoming a norm.    Continue reading “Sorang Hydropower disaster: Will we learn any lessons?”