As about 500 global financiers meet in London on March 5-7, 2019, one of the items on agenda pushed by Big Hydro lobby is criteria to include Big Hydro as climate solution. As following Comment in Nature shows, this is completely based on lobbying efforts and not based on merit of the case. If the merits of large hydro were to looked at objectively, there is absolutely no case of inclusion of Large Hydro as climate solution. In fact, the article does not attempt to list the severe, widespread and long lasting adverse social and environmental impacts of large hydro. Today when there is BIG question mark over even economic viability of large hydro, such attempts are clearly uncalled for. Hope the global financiers will see through this lobbying effort.
The World Hydropower Congress will meet in Paris during May 14-16, 2019. Their program says:
Following over two years of discussions with industry, academia, governments and international NGOs, the Climate Bonds Initiative, an investor-focused not-for-profit is due to launch a consultation later this year on proposed green bond criteria for hydropower. This criteria is seen as key to fully unlocking the market to the hydropower sector, as to date it has been held back a lack of clarity over appropriate standards. https://congress.hydropower.org/2019-paris/programme/green-bonds-for-hydropower/
This shows that the Congress, essentially a Hydropower Lobby meeting, is also interconnected with the Climate Bond Initiative on Hydropower.
Guest Blog by Manoj Misra
Apropos Sri Pravir Pandey (Vice Chairman, IWAI) article (https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-inland-waterways-project-won-t-choke-rivers/story-3CTflDhyTxijS5AAqlQeqO.html) in HT (The Hindustan Times) dated 24 Jan 2019 rejecting our serious reservations (https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-inland-waterways-project-will-destroy-india-s-rivers/story-8TDyHX1UuzQzKwWhHXQVPJ.html) expressed earlier (HT, 4 Jan 2019) on the claimed merits of the Inland Waterways Transportation (IWT) project. While welcoming IWAI’s presumed willingness to debate the matter, we reject Sri Pandey’s contentions in their entirety as having been made on rhetoric and ‘confidential’ assessments rather than on sound and convincing facts.
There are two key considerations which require attention before merit, if any, could be found in a potentially impactful project like the IWT. First are of course its financial viability and the second and much more critical are its environmental impacts.
Guest Blog by Debadityo Sinha
The Government of India has undertaken the ambitious project of plying cargo ships from Haldia to Prayagraj on the river Ganga, also known as National Waterways-1 (NW-1).
The justification for promoting waterways on such a massive scale as stated in National Waterways Bill, 2015 when introduced is as follows:
- …inland water transport is recognised as fuel efficient, cost effective and environment friendly mode of transport, especially for bulk goods, hazardous goods and over dimensional cargos. It also reduces time, cost of transportation of goods and cargos, as well as congestion and accidents on highways.
As per the Government of India’s Press Release dated 21 July 2016, the cost of transportation of goods by rail was estimated at about Rs. 1.36 per ton kilometre, by waterways at Rs. 1.06 per ton kilometres and by road at Rs. 2.50 per ton kilometre. At first glance, the waterway appears to be far more economical.
Good to see NGT rejecting the flawed Groundwater notification dated Dec 12, 2018 from CGWA that was also critiqued by SANDRP: https://sandrp.in/2018/12/31/groundwater-governance-why-dec-12-2018-cgwa-notification-would-be-disastrous/. However, NGT should have asked an independent panel to formulate the policy for sustainable groundwater use, rather than a committee of the same government persons. Besides, there is also need for restructuring of currently totally ineffective CGWA and make it COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT of government.
The various aspects of tragic Dam Disaster in Mekong Basin in Laos are still unfolding. But it is clear from many accounts that it was an avoidable, man-made disaster due to neglect of contractors, decision makers, consultants and supervising agencies. There is a lot we can learn from this if we want to avoid such disasters in India. We still do not have credible Dam Safety Law or institution, CWC is clearly not the right agency considering the conflict of interest with the various other roles of CWC. But for now let us look at the reports of Laos Dam Disaster.
Reminding the world of one of the worst dam disasters, the under construction dam Xepian Xe Nam Noy Hydro power project breached releasing 5 billion cubic metres of water in Southern Laos on July 23.
The gushing water current swept the surrounding leading to death of about 26 people and displacing about 6600 residents. As per report hundreds of people are still missing from neighbouring villages of Yai Thae, Hinlad, Mai, Thasengchan, Tha Hin, and Samong, which bore the brunt of flooding. The deluge has reportedly destroyed thousands of homes.
Above: A female Platanista gangetica minor breaks the surface of the Beas (Photo by Arati Kumar Rao)
India’s few remaining Indus river dolphins are confined to one short, beautiful stretch of the Beas. They have a fighting chance at survival only if we ensure a healthy river
Guest Blog by Arati Kumar Rao
A dark shape cleaves the Beas river, leaving a long wake in its trail. From the way it moves, it is neither a human, nor fish, nor even a river dolphin. The shape swims strongly, shrugging off the strong current. It holds its line and makes straight for a sandbar, hauling itself up on a buff-coloured spit.
A black dog, probably feral. It shakes itself free of water and, running across the sand, begins tugging at the beached carcass of a cow. Another bigger dog appears out of nowhere, and the two begin to snarl and gorge, yanking and tearing flesh off the arcing ribs.
River sandbars contain multitudes. I was upstream of Harike, the largest wetland in north India. The critically endangered gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), the fish-eating, long-snouted crocodilian, of which no more than a few hundred survive in the world, bask and nest on these sandbars. Freshwater turtles like the red-crowned roofed turtle (Batagur kachuga) and the Indian narrow-headed soft-shell turtle (Chitra indica), among the most endangered of freshwater species, use sand islands extensively to breed and to bask. Hundreds of thousands of birds — some transient visitors from China and Siberia and Central Asia wintering here, some resident — forage, nest, breed, raise chicks. Many of these creatures have this in common – they are all threatened, to greater or lesser degree.
The sight of predatory, feral dogs in this delicate ecosystem comes with chilling implications. Continue reading “Beas Dolphins: A Flash Of Fin, A Glimmer Of Hope”
After reviewing status of India rivers, SANDRP presents an account of research, studies and important reports on erratic monsoon, climate change, floods which all are severely affecting the rivers, their aquatic life and livelihood of dependent communities.
Rivers and Monsoon
Number of rainy days falling across river basins in India The study has found that number of rainy days is falling across river basins in India and rainfall intensities are seen to be increasing. The analysis determined changes in heavy precipitation and peak flood for seven river basins in India—Krishna, Godavari, Mahanadi, Narmada, Cauvery, Sabarmati and Brahamani and Baitarani. For the study, data pertaining to daily flows for about 30 odd years and precipitation for 61 years (from 1951 to 2012) were analysed.
The analysis also said the rivers which flow from west to east direction (in India) have more rainy days compared to those which flow towards the west. The study also held that anthropogenic activities (construction of storage reservoirs, diversions, urbanization, land-use change, and soil and water conservation measures, among others) have probably affected the generation of peak floods in the rivers of India. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/c7v8oXmsMDHIldjDv9k6lK/Number-of-rainy-days-falling-across-river-basins-in-India-s.html (Live Mint, 27 April 2017)
Above: (A) An image showing the Gangetic dolphin in its wild habitat (photo credit: Kadambari Deshpande), (B) a dead Gangetic dolphin calf (notice the pinhole like eyes), and (C) the calf is 1 m long, and adults measure to 2.6 m (photo credits for B & C: Sushant Dey).
Guest blog by Nachiket Kelkar
In 2015, The Times of India reported on the Ganges River Dolphin census exercise conducted in Uttar Pradesh, with the picture of a water buffalo to pass off as a dolphin. If you do not believe this, check out the image below[i]. Generally, most news reports on the river dolphin, some even by reputed news outlets (e.g. http://alert-conservation.org/issues-research-highlights/2016/5/30/rivers-of-destruction-the-implications-of-indias-national-waterways-bill-for-biodiversity), show the wrong species of dolphins, mostly marine species jumping acrobatically in aquariums. A forest department officer told us during their preparations for the Wildlife Week that, “if we put a beautiful dolphin’s picture, people will get more attracted to conserving the Gangetic dolphin, which is quite ugly, and the poor thing is also blind – toh achcha nahin lagta hai (it does not look good).” It does not stop here. A senior ecologist expressed concern recently in a public lecture, about the river dolphin becoming blind due to pollution. Against this background it is clear how little we know the Ganges Dolphin (our National Aquatic Animal, mind it) even today. Continue reading “Turning Blind Eyes: Do we care for river dolphins or their habitat?”
On the 3rd of August 2016, Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti ji made some interesting remarks in her answer to a question about impact of Ganga Waterways Project on Biodiversity (Please see SANDRP’s detailed report on the same issue here). Her brief speech can be seen here: https://youtu.be/ohEOMfay71I
Unfortunately, while she talked at length about pollution issues, Delhi Government’s non-cooperation with the Center, etc, she had nothing substantial to say about the impact of dredging, water traffic, etc., on more than 1000 kilometers of Ganga flowing through several protected areas and fish habitats. Continue reading “Sushri Uma Bhartiji: Hilsa, Fisherfolk and Ganga deserve more than promise of a Fish Ladder by CIFRI!”