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 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
Traditionally, our river management strategies are mainly focused on the water flows, including flood management, and these have resulted in various interventions such as dams, barrages, canals and embankments. Most of these interventions have had very little consideration for sediment transfer and even if they did, they were generally defunct within a few years of their operations either due to improper design or inadequate maintenance.
A long-term sediment management strategy has never been a part of any protocol of river management, not just in India, but in several other parts of the world. It is amply clear that sediment management must form an important component of management strategies for the Himalayan rivers. The Union Water Ministry has recently circulated a draft policy on sediment management.
In a remarkable development, Jammu & Kashmir Govt is reviewing its Hydro policy to assess whether the Hydro Electric Power Projects (HEPs) are still viable. As per sources, this is for the first time that the Govt is discussing the viability of generating hydro power.
An empowered committee led by the Chief Secretary has started this discussion by calling for an “approach paper” that will give an overall picture of the hydropower industry in India. Top sources in the State Power Development Corporation (SPDC), a government-owned company, told Kashmir Reader that the empowered committee wants to lay a roadmap for power generation in the state. “It will reflect the vision of the government. It will give the picture of hydropower generation in India, its rates, market, demand and supply. It will also lay down a roadmap for large power projects,”
The approach paper will be part of a new hydropower policy which will be submitted before the same committee, and then before the cabinet for approval. The SPDC had submitted a hydro policy draft in April last year, which was returned to it in December. Sources said the approach paper has to be submitted in two months’ time.
At present, India has a surplus generation of hydropower, which has plummeted its rate. This has led to losses for SPDC as it invested in projects whose generation costs were high. The blunt example is that of the 450-MW Baglihar II. SPDC has failed to lure any buyer for more than a year as its selling cost of per unit of energy, Rs 4.4, is nearly Rs 2 higher than the market rate. The SPDC has finally managed to sell the power at about Rs 4 per unit to the Uttar Pradesh government but for one year only. The SPDC may have to struggle again next year if the state of UP does not continue the contract.
Another example is that of Nimuno Bezgo, and Chutak hydropower projects, which sell energy at Rs 13 per unit. The SPDC also buys power from Dulhasti project at Rs 7, when the available rates for power in the market is around Rs 2 and Rs 4. https://kashmirreader.com/2018/02/02/cs-led-panel-to-lay-roadmap-for-power-generation-in-jk/ (Kashmir Reader. 2 Feb. 2018)
As per another report, facing a growing demand for electricity and unable to tap its vast potential for generating hydroelectric power, the state government is looking to boost solar power generation. Given the long gestation period of hydel projects, it is unlikely the generation of hydroelectric power will expand significantly in the near future, said. Hence, the focus on solar power. Indeed, when solar power potential exists, with lower installation and operation costs and impacts, why States continue after destructive, expensive hydro projects? https://scroll.in/article/866058/kashmir-can-generate-a-lot-more-hydel-electricity-than-it-requires-why-is-it-eyeing-solar-power (Scroll.In, 30 Jan. 2018)
There is one more interesting hydro power development in which the state cabinet of Bihar has approved closing 3 and cancelling the development of 2 others in addition to handing over of 8 hydropower projects to neighboring Jharkhand.
Arunachal Tawang residents protest against unfulfilled promises Hundreds of residents on July 22 marched through the streets of Tawang, the home district of newly elected CM Pema Khandu, in protest against non-fulfillment of their demand for jobs to kith and kins of two anti-dam activists killed in police firing on May 2. During the protest march they also led a signature campaign against large dams planned in Tawang, where the predominantly Buddhist Monpa tribe feared that many of the proposed hydro-power projects would damage sacred Buddhist sites in the district. At least 13 large hydro-power projects have been planned in the district, which shares border with China’s Tibet region. On June 21 the Lamas-led Save Mon Region Federation had issued six-point charter of demand to the state government for fulfillment in 30 days. Arunachal comprises a fragile, rich parcel of wildlife and ecosystem, among the richest ecosystems in India. But planning & building of hydro projects has been and will cause irreversible environmental damage. Perhaps it’s time for an aggressive freeze on all the un-built projects and an evaluation of other models of energy. Mr Prema Khandu must consider why Arunachal should become India’s mitochondria-the country’s energy provider, while losing its own enormous wealth. But contrary to this new while addressing a press conference, the new CM, on July 18 said that the govt would find ways to tap the petroleum resources & harness the hydropower potential which could be a money spinner for the state. On the 2000Mw Lower Subanisiri HEP at Gerukamukh, Mr Khandu has emphatically said he would discuss the issue with the Assam govt as well as the Centre for a solution. He said that in all the hydropower projects the affected people should be taken into confidence by both the executing agencies as well as the state govt. The new CM elected from Tawang, seeing the hydropower projects as money spinner does not sound very encouraging. Let us see how far he actually goes to take people into confidence as promised by him.
Guest Blog by Nachiket Kelkar (email@example.com)
When human beings fall into manholes or die in traffic accidents on a highway they are all over the news. We pity and fear such news, and feel sad for the deceased, just because the whole event is so unfortunate. We are angered by the condition of traffic – that continues to remain appalling despite having six-lane highways that look deceptively magnificent. We wonder if these cases could have been avoided. It is therefore even more disturbing that not a single news item has covered a series of major accidents that have happened right in the middle of the Ganga River National ‘Waterway’ (India’s National Waterway No. 1; see Dams, Rivers & People: Feb-March 2016 issue: p. 1-7, 2016 for details[i]) in the last six months.
Over twenty people have died by drowning at the Barari Ghat (Image 1) at Bhagalpur in Bihar in this period. Offering prayers, taking dips, or lunging in for a calm swim, these people have slipped away as their feet have lost the ground all of a sudden. The river, scouring off the silt from under the concrete, has been catapulting their bodies into the deepening abyss on the fringes of the ghats. Many bodies have not even been found. Family members of many, whose bodies were found, must have never suspected that they would have to carry back their kin’s corpses. What made the same Barari Ghat, which people traditionally visited for years, so dangerous suddenly?
A summary analysis of the ecological impacts of the National Waterways Bill (2015)
– Nachiket Kelkar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Introduction: The National Waterways Bill (NWB, Bill No. 122 of 2015) was tabled by the current central government’s Minister of Transport and Shipping, Mr. Nitin Gadkari, in May 2015. This Bill plans to convert 106 rivers and creeks across India into waterway canals, purportedly for ‘eco-friendly transport’ of cargo, coal, industrial raw materials, and for tourism purposes. The primary reasons provided for this bill are that 1) inland water transport is fuel-efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly, 2) the systematic development of waterways will create progressive economic opportunities in the country, and 3) the potential of water transport is underutilized in India. The Bill has since been examined by the Standing Committee appointed of Rajya Sabha Members and experts on the matter, who submitted their findings in Report No. 223 (Rajya Sabha Secretariat, August 2015). Recently, the Bill has been cleared by the Lok Sabha, and awaits final discussion in the Rajya Sabha within a fortnight’s time. As of now the NWB appears to enjoy support across party lines, states and political positions and agendas. There is also a belief that waterways would mean maintenance of enough water flowing in our rivers – yet the means through which this is proposed to be achieved involve capital dredging and large-scale conversion of floodplain environments and riverbanks to concrete embankments. A serious concern of observers has been that there has unfortunately been but scant debate on the high ecological and social risks the NWB poses to riverine biodiversity and local resource users through such irreversible engineering controls on our rivers. There is no discussion among politicians and administrators. Importantly, this issue appears to have barely received adequate attention even in environment and conservation circles. Problematically enough, the NWB thus emerges as a threat that may go unnoticed by conservationists and get passed without debate, deliberation or emphasis on environmental clearances to the extent required. In this article I will discuss the potentially damaging consequences of the NWB on river ecology, human life and hydrological dynamics of India’s riverscapes. My earlier article on the SANDRP blog ‘Four boats at a river crossing along Ganga’ (dated 28th December, 2015) had described https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/four-boats-at-a-river-crossing/) ground experiences related to the impacts of large-scale inland water transport (IWT). Continuing there I attempt to provide a point-wise discussion and critique of the NWB. Continue reading “Digging Our Rivers’ Graves?”