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DRP News Bulletin 9 July 2018: National Meeting on Inland Fishworkers in Delhi on July 10, 2018

The NATIONAL PLATFORM FOR SMALL SCALE FISH WORKERS (INLAND) is convening a Consultative Meeting on Livelihood Issues of Inland Small Scale Fish Workers 10thJuly 2018, Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi.

The Invitation letter says: “India is gifted with vast and varied inland water bodies bearing rich fish resources.Rivers and canals, reservoirs, ponds and tanks, oxbow lakes, wetlands, backwaters and estuaries yield 7.21 million tonnes of fish which is more than 66% of total fish production of the country. The sector sustains about 4 million fish workers and a total population of around 2 crores.Fish provides good quality animal protein rich in minerals and vitamins. About 800 million Indians eat fish. After milk, fish is the largest source of our animal protein.These huge resources are under severe stress. Rivers are poisoned with heavy pollution. Diversion of water from rivers is harming their ecological flow.

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DRP News Bulletin 21 May 2018 (World Over New Renewables Are Making Large Hydro Unviable & Unnecessary)

According to an energy expert, 6,000 megawatts’ worth of wind and solar contracts had been signed in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos in the last six months, seriously challenging the financial viability of major hydropower projects on the river. Buoyed by a recent Thai government decision to delay a power purchase deal with a major mainstream Mekong dam, clean-energy proponents and economists told the third Mekong River Commission summit that the regional energy market was on the cusp of a technological revolution.

A six-year Mekong River Commission Council study on development plans for the Mekong, which was the focus of the summit, suggested catastrophic impacts upon the health of the river system if all planned hydropower dams — 11 mainstream projects and more than 100 on tributaries — were built.

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WORLD WATER DAY 2018: INDIA’S POSITIVE WATER STORIES

On occasion of World Water Day 2018, SANDRP put together reports of remarkable water conservation work done by individuals, villager community and organizations across the country.

Good that UN report this WWD says[i]: “The efforts by local communities in India to improve water availability have been lauded in a UN report that highlights the importance of finding nature-based solutions to meet global water challenges…. The report notes that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at disposal. It also cited the example of China’s Sponge City which aims to recycle 70 per cent of rainwater.”

Image result for un wwd 2018 nature based water solution report

But the UN report[ii] does not mention that local options should be the top priority and should be exhausted before going for large projects. Unfortunately, Indian water resources establishment’s priority is Large dams and river linking. The UN report also does not say that local systems are bound to be neglected and destroyed in the shadow of large projects and where the governance is top down, unaccountable, non transparent and non participatory.

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Tamil Nadu Rivers Review 2017: Despite Drought; Diversion of Rivers’ Waters To Private Companies

This sixth compilation under Rivers Review series, presents situation of rivers in Tamil Nadu in the year 2017. 

Tamirabarani River Opposition grows against Tamirabarani water to soft drink units In March 2017, various citizen groups submitted petitions to Collector M. Karuankaran, opposing the decision to supply huge quantity of water from the Tamirabarani to beverage manufacturing units in Gangaikondan Industrial area. They also asked the State Government to cancel the agreement with the soft drink manufacturing units on supplying the river water and make sincere efforts to revive the river. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tamirabarani-protest-intensifies-tirunelveli/article17457199.ece (The Hindu, 13 March 2017)

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DRP News Bulletin 19 February 2018 (How Are We Treating Our Urban Rivers?)

In this comprehensive article Mumbai-based author Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar throws the light on the plight of Uraban Rivers. “Rivers and streams have borne the brunt of the recent urban explosion in India, a nation whose population has nearly doubled in the last 40 years to 1.35 billion. Unplanned growth has led to the use of water bodies as dumping grounds for sewage and industrial effluent. According to CPCB, 63 % of the urban sewage flowing into rivers (some 62 billion liters a day) is untreated.

In addition, riverbanks, wetlands, and floodplains have been claimed over time by infrastructure, slums, offices, and housing developments – all of which has narrowed natural river channels and distorted flow, greatly reducing the ability of India’s rivers to buffer flooding. It also has taken a toll on biodiversity. http://e360.yale.edu/features/dying-waters-india-struggles-to-clean-up-its-polluted-urban-rivers (Yale Environment 360, 15 Feb. 2018) 

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DRP News Bulletin 25 December 2017 (CAG Report Shows Ganga River Has No Hope Under NMCG)

Apart from mentioning Govt failure in checking Ganga pollution, the Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) performance audit report on Ganga rejuvenation tabled in Parliament on December 19, 2017 specifically mentions that National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) “could not finalize the long-term action plans even after more than six-and-a-half years of signing of agreement with the consortium of Indian Institutes of Technology”. The fact that NMCG does not have a “river basin management plan even after a lapse of more than 8 years of National Ganga River Basin Authority notification”, mentioned in the report also has great significance. 

It is surprising that NMCG is working without a river basin management plan or a long-term action plan. The CAG performance audit is also lacking. It rightly mentions that infrastructure to treat pollution has not been created but does no assessment whether the creation of infrastructure alone would revive the river.

Further, CAG audit does not look into the issues if lessons from past failures have been learnt, corrections done, independent scrutiny institutionalised, participatory governance achieved, and if this business as usual approach is going to achieve any better results even if all the money were spent, all the DPRs were sanctioned, all the meetings happened, all the manpower available and all the STPs constructed?

Hence it critical that CAG performance audit should have tried to address these issues. Can the state of Ganga improve without improving the state of tributaries? CAG does not even look at this issue.

The CAG report shows that this programme provides no real hope for better future of Ganga and Modi and his government will have a lot to answer when they go to polls in less than 1.5 years. It’s a serious indictment for the govt in general and Modi in particular since he has said right from the beginning that Ganga is their priority and all that they have tried is audited here. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/KW6MIOrOvMvZvEGeozwifJ/CAG-slams-Centre-for-failing-to-utilize-funds-for-Ganga-reju.html;                                 http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ganga-pollution-hc-orders-uttarakhand-govt-to-seal-establishments-polluting-rivers-4991923/; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/building-of-ghats-crematoria-on-ganga-misses-nov-deadline/articleshow/62234114.cms https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/environment/pm-modi-fails-to-clean-up-his-mother-ganga

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DRP News Bulletin 10 July 2017 (Private Companies Exit Unviable Large Hydro Projects)

In a remarkable trend emerging in hydro sector in Himachal Pradesh, many leading private companies have started surrendering hydro power projects allotted to them by State Govt. As per the news report, Tata Group, Reliance, Jindal and Larsen & Toubro have either surrendered or are in process of surrendering numbers of hydro projects given to them over past one and half decade. These companies are now increasingly terming the projects as  non-viable and unprofitable. 

In the last week of June, 2017, Tata group reportedly has written to Directorate Energy, expressing its desire to surrender the 450 MW Duggar power project in Pangi area of Chamba district. The project had been allotted to them in 2007-08 and post feasibility study done by its consultants the group has found the unviable. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/tatas-give-up-chamba-power-project/428456.html

Before this the Reliance group had declined to set up  300 Mw Purty and 130 Mw Sumte Kothan hydro projects in Spiti. Following this, the State Cabinet on June 24, 2017 meeting agreed to return Rs 85 crore paid as upfront money by Reliance group. 

Similarly in recent past, the Jindal group, which was allotted the 250 MW Kutehar power project in Chamba, put the project on hold for some time without citing specific reasons. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/reliance-power-to-get-back-rs-85-cr-it-paid-to-govt-for-2-projects/427112.html

In the latest incident, anticipating problems in evacuating power, with the market being very grim as far as buyers and power rates are concerned, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) is reported to have urged the state govt to enter into a power-purchase agreement (PPA) with it for two of its hydel projects — Reoli Dugli (Lahaul-Spiti) and Sach Khas (Pangi), located in the arduous Chenab basin.

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DRP News Bulletin 22 May 2017 (SOLVE SILTATION PROBLEMS OF GANGA OR REMOVE FARAKKA DAM TO REVIVE GANGA: NITISH KUMAR)

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar again has urged the central govt to remove the Farakka barrage in West Bengal and make a countrywide policy on silt management for letting river Ganga to flow freely.

“Siltation is destroying Ganga’s ecology and health. It’s due to heavy deposits of silt on the riverbed that stream of the river is being badly affected,” Kumar said at a two-day national seminar on ‘Obstacles in the Incessant Flow of the Ganga’.

Speaking on the occasion, Swami Avimukteshwara Anand criticised Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati for doing absolutely nothing for the cause of the river Ganga and said she seems more interested in her chair rather  than the river. He also criticised  Prime Minister Modi for claiming that he is son  of Ganga, but doing nothing positive for the river. Swami ji said Nitin Gadkari seems bent on further destroying the river in the name of National Waterway.

Addressing the seminar Nitish Kukar said that Bihar’s demand for the framing of national policy on desiltation of the Ganga and clearance of silt in the state is not a political issue, as the matter is related to larger environmental and biodiversity issues facing the people.

He added, “Concrete steps have to be taken to ensure incessant flow of the Ganga. Otherwise, cleanliness of the river is not possible.” Referring to the need to protect biodiversity, he said conservation of the Ganga dolphins is dependent on the cleanliness of its water. He added the Farakka barrage constructed across the river in West Bengal has led to slow flow of water between Buxar to Bhagalpur, and consequent annual flood and waterlogging during the monsoon.

Nitish recalled the devastating flood that the state had witnessed in the Ganga basin last year and said Bihar had spent Rs 1,058 crore over the last five years to prevent soil erosion. He appealed to the Centre to frame a sound policy on silt management, stressing that it should be prepared by making on the spot survey and assessment of the prevailing situation. Nitish said even the report of the committee headed by Madhav Chitale had accepted the problem of siltation facing the Ganga.

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DRP News Bulletin 08 May 2017 (Inspiring Tale: How Kerala Panchayat bring a dying river back to life)

The Kuttamperoor stream in Kerala, connecting the Pampa and Achankovil rivers, had been a nearly stagnant, shrunken cesspool of dumped waste and weeds for more than a decade. Some weeks ago, it was resuscitated as a flowing river, thanks to the will of the Budhanur gram panchayat in Alappuzha district, and the commitment of 700 local men and women who worked to bring the river back to life under the MGNREGA.

The Kuttamperoor was once a full 12 kilometres long and, at places, over 100 feet wide. The river originates from Achankovil at Ulunthi, near Mavelikkara, and flows through Ennackad, Budhanur, Kuttamperoor, Mannar, and Pandanad before merging with the Pampa at Nakkida near Parumala in Pathanamthitta district.

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DRP News Bulletin 01 May 2017 (Ken Betwa won’t help, but here is what can REALLY help Bundelkhand)

Union Water Ministry has launched an extensive water conservation program for drought prone areas of Bundelkhand, Marathwada, Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput in Odisha on April 28, 2017 at Bandri, Sagar Madhya Pradesh. As per report, the Water Ministry has prepared a master plan for artificial recharge of ground water in Bundelkhand region.

In UP region of Bundelkhand, around 1100 percolation tanks, 14000 small check dams/Nala bunds and 7200 Recharge pits/shafts have been identified. In MP region of Bundelkhand, around 2000 percolation tanks, 55000 small check dams/Nala bunds and 17000 Recharge shafts have been identified. She said as a part of ground water exploration, 234 wells in UP are proposed to be constructed in five districts of Bundelkhand i.e., Banda, Hamirpur, Jalaun, Chitrakoot and Mahoba. As a part of ground water exploration, 259 wells in MP are proposed to be constructed in six districts of Bundelkhand.

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