Ganga Manthan to Ganga Act: No progress made Chairing the 6th meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority on July 04 Water Minister Uma Bharti has said that a new act will be formulated for speedy implementation of Namami Gange programme. On July 06, giving a major boost to Namami Gange Programme Ms Uma Bharti has also announced that 231 projects will be inaugurated at various locations in Uttrakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana and Delhi on July 07. Incidentally, on July 07, 2014 NDA Govt. launched the Namami Gange programme to rejuvenate the river to be executed over five years. The project has a budget outlay of Rs 20K crore which is 10 times more than what was allocated in previous Ganga Action Plan (GAP) phase I and II. But more money and the PM minister’s zeal, notwithstanding, Namami Gange seems a carryover from its predecessor in one crucial respect. The overwhelming emphasis on pollution abatement that had led to the GAP’s failure bedevils Namami Gange as well. In certain respects, Namami Gange is an improvement on the GAP. It seems that the govt has not learnt lessons from the GAP’s failure. The lag between sewage generation and treatment has remained between 55% & 60% even as new STPs were built under the GAP. This is because a lot of the waste is generated outside the sewerage network and is not conveyed to the STPs. A large section of the country’s urban population lives outside this network. Moreover, the STPs can only do so much. The official statistics show that the STPs are currently running at a deficiency of 55%. The problem of STPs is three-fold: underestimation, shortage and underutilization due to lack of a well-connected underground sewage system.
The problems associated with river Ganga, however, do not end or begin in its middle course dotted by factories. The upstream of the river, where Bhagirathi and Alaknanda join to form the Ganga, is part of a very fragile Himalayan ecosystem. Caution is needed in implementing the Namame Gange projects along this stretch. The Kedarnath flood of Uttarakhand is an example of what a combination of melting glaciers and mindless construction can do to a sensitive geological zone. With more than 40 dams, barrages and weirs and many more planned aviral Ganga seems nothing more than an empty catchphrase. Ganga is the sum total of the contribution of some 12 major tributaries. Without a rejuvenation strategy for each of Ganga’s tributaries, there can be no Ganga rejuvenation.
Meanwhile, increased fishing activity and vessel traffic are proving to be the disturbing element downstream. Deploying more scientific methods for fishing and limiting it to levels enough for species’ sustenance might help without significantly affecting livelihoods. The direct consequences of climate change are also felt in the lower belts, around the Ganga Sagar region. Land is disappearing but no comprehensive plans have emerged as yet to provide for the rehabilitation of the region’s inhabitants.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 11 July 2016 (Namami Gange proving mere an extension of Ganga Action Plan)”
New Hydro Policy: Govt unjustifiably pushing hydro through subsidies A comprehensive policy to promote hydropower generation is set to be announced by September—with viability gap funding for projects, compulsory hydropower purchase obligations for distribution companies and a set of good practices that states have to follow. The idea is to address factors that currently drive hydropower costs up way above those of other sources of power and give policy support in its market development, according to a government official, who asked not to be named. The policy being prepared by the power ministry will have provisions for viability gap funding, which will help in meeting the shortfall in project costs and reducing hydroelectricity tariffs for consumers. Hydropower is expensive and in some cases more than double the cost of power from coal-based thermal plants, which is available at Rs.3-5 per unit.The ministry will also expand the scope of power distribution companies’ renewable power purchase obligations to include hydropower from projects with a capacity greater than 25 Mw. At the moment only power from those with less than 25MW is considered renewable power. According to officials, compulsory hydropower purchase from large projects will either be made part of the existing renewable power purchase obligation of distribution companies or a separate requirement, so that its inclusion does not affect the market for other renewable sources of energy like wind, solar or biomass. Govt unjustifiably pushing hydro through subsidies in proposed new hydro policy can be lead story. It is not going to help push hydro. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 04 July 2016 (In Proposed Hydro Policy, Govt Unjustifiably Pushing Hydro Through Subsidies)”
Uma threatens stir over delay in Ken-Betwa interlinking Water Minister Uma Bharti on June 07 threatened an agitation if there were further delays to the wildlife clearances necessary for the storied Ken-Betwa river-interlinking project. This is TOO Much! Union Minister threatening to go on Fast, demanding environment clearance to Ken Betwa link! Calling it a national crime to stop clearance to Ken Betwa link. Saying if the project is not cleared in next meeting, she will go on fast! Claiming that the link will help Marathwada!! It wont help even Bundelkhand, but the Union Minister seems to be setting completely wrong, precedent, which also ultra legal. On the other hand The Hindu has been consistently underplaying the impacts of the Ken Betwa project and over playing the official lines. Very strange to see this from THE HINDU. Before this in its June 02 meeting the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of environment ministry has deferred environment clearance for the ambitious Rs.10,000cr Ken-Betwa river linking project in its last meeting on June 2, and has sought more clarity on its wildlife & hydrological impact. The meeting could not come to a conclusion as the members of the EAC had several doubts regarding the project’s hydrological feasibility, its impact on hydrology and wildlife too and found that many serious issues related to the project are yet to resolved. In the last week of May 2016, SANDRP in a letter to EAC has written about Ken-Betwa project & why EAC should not clear this. Please help us spread the word and urgently write to EAC if you agree. Himanshu Thakkar coordinator SANDRP points out that the Ken-Betwa link, in essence, Ken-Betwa link will facilitate transfer of water from the Ken River Basin (Bundelkhand) to Upper Betwa Basin (outside Bundelkhand), so it is actually exporting water out of Bundelkhand.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 13 June 2016(Uma Bharati Threatens Stir Over Delay In Ken-Betwa Clearances)”
India will not have power deficit situation in FY17 India won’t need any new power plants for the next three years as it is flush with generation capacity, according to a government assessment. The country can manage for the next three years with existing plants that are currently under-utilised, and those that are under construction and upcoming renewable energy projects, assessment made by the power ministry for reviewing the National Electricity Policy shows. Govt declares for the first time in history that India is POWER SURPLUS in 2016-17 with 3.1% power surplus in peak hours and 1.1% power surplus in off peak hours, both figures in 2015-16 were -3.2% during peak hours and -2.1% in peak hours. The western and Southern regions will be power surplus, but Northern, Eastern and Northeastern regions will have deficits. At the same time Power Minister Piyush Goyal says that Big hydro power units may come under renewable energy According to Minister the Centre has begun studies to decide whether to include big hydro power plants under the ambit of renewable energy. When India will be energy surplus for next three years why then Govt. of India is continue to pursue disastrous hydro projects on ground. Where ASSOCHAM is asking Arunachal govt. to do away with adverse tax policies on Hydro power to boost construction of hydro projects in the State. NHPC has also raised relief amount for Kishanganga HEP around Rs 60 lakh and Rs 70 lakh to each family for the land acquired. And despite Delhi Govt. openly rejecting water from Renuka dam NGT panel has visited the area to look into the rehabilitation issue.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 06 June 2016 (India to be power surplus for next 3 yrs, then why govt continue to pursue hydro projects)”
Chenab river runs its course amid spate of threats Chenab river’s money-spinner hydropower fate appears to run parallel to that of Sohni-Mahiwal – the legendary lovers who drowned into the river because their love was unacceptable. The govt as usual has shut its eyes to the needs of the river and its catchment area. There are multiple factors hidden below its surface. One is melting of glaciers sooner than anticipated. If glaciers lose their ice cover quicker, the Chenab would swell up abruptly before hitting a cruel, dried-up phase in as much deathly suddenness. There are several hydro projects coming up on the river which don’t have the approval of the Geological Survey of India. Once all the identified hydroelectric projects are installed, it will have a negative impact on the river. It may not get even a kilometre free space for running the course. At that point of time, it will not be a river, but a small stream. Meanwhile scientists have warned of large scale earthquake in J&K. The situation in Arunachal Pradesh is also grim. And yet the Parliamentary committee recommends further sops for Hydr. Misguided recommendations, to put is most charitably. There should be no question of subsidies to destructive Hydropower projects. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 23 May 2016 (WHY LARGE HYDRO IS NOT JUSTIFIED)”