DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 190922: Dams bringing unprecedented changes to the World’s Rivers

A new study published this week once again highlights not so well known impact of large dams on the rivers: role of rivers in building, supplying sediment, nutrients to floodplains, deltas, coastlines, estuaries, oceans and supporting so much biodiversity and how large dams are majorly adversely impacting this role of rivers. The study by scientists at Dartmouth using images from the NASA-US Geological Survey for 414 of the world’s largest rivers show the unprecedented changes the dams are bringing to World’s rivers, the impacts that in many cases are outweighing the impacts of climate change. This is particularly true of the northern hemisphere that includes India, World’s third largest dam builder.

Unfortunately in India, there is very little appreciation or acknowledgement of this role of rivers and how dams are affecting it. The least one can expect is that the Government of India should urgently initiate a study to document and understand this phenomena and also highlight what needs to be done about it. The study should be done by an independent team of multidisciplinary experts.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 120922: Decisive judicial action dire necessity for wetlands

( Feature Image:- Satish Acharya’s illustration on Bengaluru floods: Whose land is it anyway? 07 Sept. 2022)

The wetlands reports tell us a lot, but the key point is that decisive judicial action is necessary if our wetlands are to have any future. The directions of the Tamil Nadu High Court to geo reference all wetlands of Tamil Nadu, including small (Less than 2.25 ha area) is good beginning, but the court will need to ensure continuous monitoring and ensure implementation. Because the past shows that the government and other stakeholders have collectively failed to take any decisive action to save our wetlands. The disastrous results are evident at so many places, this week it is most clear from the flooding of Bangalore, mainly due to encroachment of lakes, wetlands, water channels and their catchments.

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Dam floods

Madhya Pradesh: Collapse of Lateri Stop Dam in Vidisha

(Feature image: Flood water rushing through damaged portion of Lateri stop dam. Source: Hum Samvet)

Portion of a stop dam in Lateri Block of Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh collapsed in morning hours of Monday, August 22, 2022 amidst heavy rains. The earthen dam is located at Islamnagar near Murvas in Lateri block of Vidisha district. The stop dam in Betwa basin is reportedly built a year ago by forest department. The reason behind the collapse is stated to be heavy rainfall.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 220822: Salutes to Vimalbhai

(Feature Image:- Vimal Bhai with a group of villagers in Uttarakhand. Photo: Matu Jansangathan/ The Wire)

It’s very sad occasion. Vimalbhai, who has been tirelessly active on issues related to dams, rivers and environment in Uttarakhand in particular and India in general, left us on Aug 15, 2022 for his journey beyond this world. He was a remarkably dedicated, committed and yet always smiling, simple man with simple needs. His loss is already being felt. May his soul rest in peace and may his friends and family get the strength to bear the loss.

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Chenab · Dams

August 2022: Flash flood debris block Chenab flow in Lahual, Himachal Pradesh

(Feature image: Video grab of artificial lake on Chenab river. Source Weatherman Shubham @shubhamtorres09, Twitter, Aug. 16, 2022)

Debris brought by flash flood in Jahlma nullah blocked[i] the flows of Chenab (Chandrabhaga) river for about 6 hours in Udaipur tehsil of Lahual and Spiti district, Himachal Pradesh forming a huge lake. The incident occurred following heavy rainfall on August 15, 2022 night.

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Landslide dam

Uttarakhand June 2022: Shambhu River Landslide Lake in Alaknanda basin

(Feature Image:- बागेश्वर के कुंवारी में इस तरह हो रहे भूस्खलन के कारण पहाड़ी से शंभू नदी में गिर रहा मलबा। Image: Amar Ujala)

In last week of June 2022, a landslide lake was formed on Shambhu river in Kapkot tehsil of Bageshwar district. Shambhu originates from Shambhu glacier near Borbalda village in the district. It joins the Pindar river another glacier fed river few kilometres upstream Jhaliya village. In turn, passing through Tharali, Narayanbagad the Pindar river merges into Alaknanda river at Karanprayag in Chamoli district.  

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 110722: Govt failure on cloudburst monitoring, forecasting, managing

(Feature Image: On July 8, a flash flood triggered by a cloudburst hit a camp near the Amarnath cave shrine in J&K’s Ganderbal district. The Indian Express)

Just in first few weeks of this South West Monsoon in India and particularly in last two weeks there have been numerous cloudburst incidents leading to large number of deaths and destruction of human and natural infrastructure. Most of the time, the government just calls these disasters cloud burst and points finger at climate change, implying its helplessness, but happy that they have rescued the affected people. In reality, a lot can be done in terms of monitoring, forecasting and managing cloudbursts that is clearly not happening and is not part of government’s disaster management plans or actions.

Firstly there are some known places where the flash floods from cloud burst could lead to disaster, they need to be identified and habitations near and at risk at such locations need to be mapped and monitored to minimize the risks. The locations next to streams are clearly such hazardous locations and how can there be camps located right next to such streams as happened during the recent Amarnath caves?

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 13 June 2022: Down in Dumps, MoEF becomes more opaque

(Feature image: Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav with PM Narendra Modi before taking oath on July 7, 2021 PTI/HT.)

While the news that India has achieved the worst ever ranking of 180, at the bottom of 180 country index in terms of Environment Performance Index was shocking, it should not surprise too many people considering the way environment is treated by the current central government, particularly the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). As expected, MoEF questioned the methodology of the assessment, and the criticism has been responded to and rejected by the authors of the EPI report.

Now with a dictate of the MoEF (dated Apr 8, 2022, preceding the EPI news) coming to light, the trajectory of the MoEF should leave no one in doubt. Through this dictate, the MoEF has asked the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), a supposedly autonomous institute of the Ministry, to seek the ministry’s approval before it publishes any document, that too with retrospective effect! WII in any case, was towing the ministry’s line in many of the cases as is evident from its performance in regulatory committees like the Forest Advisory Committee, National Board of Wild Life and Expert Appraisal Committee (on River Valley Projects, possibly among others). And yet the Ministry has come out with this dictate, without giving any reasons, possibly since some of WII reports have been problematic for the govt in judicial proceedings in some cases. But the MoEF move to stop WII from publishing (and hence doing) any credible studies only shows the paranoia of the ministry. Its performance index would not improve this way, it would only get worse.

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Hydro Disaster

Disaster at Tidong Hydropower project kills 2 in May 2022

(Feature image: Rescue operation at Tidong HEP tunnel. Image source: Divya Himachal)

Early morning around 5.45 am on Saturday, May 7, 2022, five labourers were stuck while coming out from the 180 m deep tunnel of the under construction 100 MW Tidong Hydropower project[i] in Murang Tehsil of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh when debris fell into the tunnel (according to one report) and the lift in which the 5 labourers were coming out over turned[ii]. The trolley with 5 workers inside pressure shaft of adit 2 tunnel slipped off its track. The workers were coming out as their shift had ended.

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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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