(Feature Image: Waster Chest nut cultivators removing weeds from Giri Taal of Kashipur. April 2023)
As we await the onset of South West Monsoon 2023, we would like to highlight the water options stories in lead story here, that includes examples from Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chennai, among others. It is important to remember these as we need to be ready to welcome and nourish the coming annual bounty that monsoon brings.
It also reminds us the fascination our poets have for this season, particularly the wonderment that Gulzar keeps expressing. In this one of his non filmy poetry “Baarish” he warns:
“Mujhko ye fikr, ke is baar bhi sailab ka paani…
Kud ke utrega kohsahr se jab..
tod ke le jayega ye kachhe kinaare..”
Continue reading “DRP NB 220523: Water Options as we await South West Monsoon 2023” →
The following report raises three caveats regarding Ken Betwa River Link Project, among others. Firstly it urges that the substantial impact of climate change on the rivers needs to be taken into account, particularly the need for accurate hydrological assessment. It underlines that the project themselves are accelerating the climate change impact on monsoons as they are reducing freshwater flows to the oceans, which in turn has an impact on the ocean’s thermal and salinity gradients, both of which are drivers of monsoon.
Secondly, it rightly says that the impact of projects on adaptive capacity of areas like Bundelkhand needs to be taken into account. In Bundelkhand, climate adaptation can be harnessed using rain water harvesting, rejuvenation of traditional water systems, less water intensive crops and alternative agricultural practices. Thirdly, the water sharing issues that may worsen with both climate change and big projects, need to be kept in mind while taking up mega projects, particularly its impact on water and other security issues.
Continue reading “DRP NB 150523: Will the govt listen to caveats against Ken Betwa Project?” →
(Feature Image: On April 29, thousands of Pune citizens join Chipko Andolan against the planned cutting of over 7,000 trees for the Mula Mutha Riverfront Development (RFD) project. Image Credit: Rahul Deshmukh, Source: Pune Mirror.)
It is heartening to see thousands of Pune citizens out on the streets over the last two weeks protesting against felling of thousands of trees for the destructive Mula Mutha River Front Development Project. The project will destroy the best biodiversity habitat along the rivers in Pune, fell thousands of trees, encroach on riverbeds and floodplains, destroy bird migration corridor, and create fresh flood hazards for the city, which will further worsen in changing climate.
We hope this protests continue and intensify till the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Maharashtra government wakes up and scraps the project and instead, uses the scarce available resources for protecting and rejuvenating the water bodies and biodiversity in Pune in collaboration with the people of Pune.
Continue reading “DRP NB 080523: Pune citizens Oppose River Front Development Project” →
While the publication by the Union Jal Shakti Ministry of the first water body census of India is not only welcome but urgently required, the usefulness of the census findings will depend on the quality of the information in the report. Firstly, such a census should have been conducted in a bottom up way, starting from villages in rural areas and ward in urban areas. That way, the census findings would have not only been more reliable, but also the process would have helped create greater awareness about the water bodies and issues surrounding them.
In case of Karnataka, as the report below shows the survey by the Tank Conservation and Development Authority and Karnataka Public Land Corporation in 2021 showed the state had 40483 water bodies, whereas the Jal Shakti Ministry census of 2022 says the state has just 26994 water bodies, a huge 13489 less than the 2021 census. Clearly so many water bodies cannot disappear in a year. As some experts from Karnataka have asked, is the Jal Shakti Census a deliberate attempt to show that a much lower number of water bodies exist, allowing encroachers to go ahead to destroy water bodies not registered in the census?
Continue reading “DRP NB 010523: Water bodies census welcome, but how reliable?” →
This week the weekly DRP bulletin brings news of increasing threats from changing climate in inherently disaster prone Himalayas. The news come from Ladakh in the NW to Nagaland in the NE, and includes Uttarakhand among others. The news is about retreating glaciers, increasing threats of Glacial Lake Outburst floods and landslides. The news also notes that factors like indiscriminate infrastructure development and lack of drainage are worsening the disaster potential of the Himalayan states. Most importantly, implicitly more than explicitly, the news reports highlight complete inattention of the regulators to these increasing threats and risks in inherently vulnerable Himalayas while considering new infrastructure projects like Highways, Railways, Hydropower projects, Dams and urbanization and also in terms of disaster management laws and practices.
It underlines that the threats and risks in the Himalayan states is also increasing due to changing rainfall patterns due to changing climate. This trinity of inherent vulnerability, changing climate and inattention to the risks of indiscriminate infrastructure projects is clearly very very dangerous, but there is little hope for any immediate change. One clear indication is the handling of the Joshimath disaster, a clear case of how not to handle communication as Dave Petley has noted. The Prime Minister’s office is sitting on the report submitted by the investigating agencies several weeks ago. Why should this report be a secret or will we get a negotiated report?
Continue reading “DRP NB 060323: India’s regulators blind to increasing threats in Himalayas” →
(Feature Image:-Vyasi HEP dam reservoir on Yamuna river in Dehradun. Credit: Varsha Singh/Third Pole, Jan. 2022)
In a landmark move, United States Environment Protection Agency has started reporting methane emissions from dams and hydropower projects in its annual reporting to UN in 2022. It needs to go a step further and make it mandatory for all dams and hydropower projects to annually report such emissions on their websites. This will not only help clear the mistaken notion that hydropower projects are climate friendly, it will also help take right policy measures and project construction or decommissioning decisions. It will also lead to more scientific accounting of global warming causing emissions. It will also give the consumer right picture about GHG emissions from such projects when they look at options for electricity supply. There is a lot that India and rest of the world that needs to learn from this and implement on urgent basis as US EPA seems to be the first agency to do this.
Continue reading “DRP NB 200223: US EPA starts reporting methane emissions from dams” →
In his key note address at the final session of India Rivers Week 2022, Justice Madan Lokur, former judge of Supreme Court of India said, “Time has come we need to be a little more active and aggressive vocally to ensure that we are listened to about the problems we all are facing. Farmers struggle, the CAA amendment etc. are good examples. There is need for a political will to bring about any change. How do we generate such a political will is the issue.”
Among other messages Justice Lokur gave in his key note address at the final session of India Rivers Week 2022 on Nov 27, 2022 included: “Rivers belong to all, not a select few… We need to ensure that we are effective in our work, our messages.”
The two day, five session India Rivers Week 2022 function focused on use of rivers as waterways, organized in collaboration between India Rivers Forum (IRF is constituted by ten organizations now) and Manthan Adhyayan Kendra ended on Nov 27, 2022. The IRW 2022 sessions had a number of highlights, we will try to bring them to you in separate articles.
Continue reading “DRP NB 281122: Justice Lokur at IRW 2022: We need to be vocally more aggressive to make a difference” →
As the World Celebrates Fisheries day today, the India Rivers Forum (IRF) focusses this week on use of Rivers as waterways in its annual program. Spread over five sessions, the online event on Nov 26-27, 2022 is co-organised by Manthan Adhyayan Kendra and IRF. Riverine fisheries and fisherfolk are adversely affected by the current waterways program of the government, and as usual, the government does not even find it necessary to assess the impact of the program on these poorest, weakest, most neglected and most vulnerable section of our population, leave aside the question of compensating them or involving them in the program. The IRF program “Rivers as Waterways in India: Bane or Boon?” will highlight this and many other aspects of the waterways initiative of the government, which aims to include 111 rivers across the length and breadth of the countries.
The five sessions of the IRF program will be titled: “Overview of Indian Inland Waterways”, “Viability of Indian Inland Waterways”, “Impacts of Indian Waterways”, “Governance of Indian Waterways” and “Rivers as Waterways in India: Bane or Boon?”. The two event will have more than 25 speakers. The final session will be chaired by former judge of Supreme Court of India, Justice (Retired) Madan Lokur. Justice Lokur will also give away the Bhagirath Prayas Samman awards of 2022 and Anupam Mishra Medal 2022, the names of the recipients this year will be shared in that final session on Nov 27, 2022.
Continue reading “DRP NB 211122: IRF focus on Rivers as waterways as the World celebrates Fisheries Day“ →
(Feature Image: The report also states that the monitoring of the groundwater resources was affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. Source: Bloomberg/TIE)
This sounds so counter intuitive. The Ministry Jal Shakti on Nov 9, 2022 made some findings of its latest “National Compilation on Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India, 2022 public, strangely, without making the report public. It is not clear why the govt did not make the report public, though the counter intuitive nature of the findings provide some hint. The report claims that at all India macro level, the ministry claimed that the groundwater extraction is the lowest in 2022 since 2004, or 18 years and that the groundwater recharge has gone up.
These are counter intuitive findings, even if at macro level for a number of reasons. It is also unclear what methodology is used to arrive at these conclusions and if there has been any independent scrutiny of the same. Since groundwater extraction has been going up for over six decades now, this reversal will need plausible reasons. There are no indications that there is any reduction in this groundwater use. Secondly, the groundwater recharge mechanisms are under attack all over India, and thus the finding that there is increase in recharge raises questions. Particularly since the efforts at groundwater recharge through rainwater harvesting are far from convincing.
More importantly, the real story is at micro level, since groundwater occurs in decentralised aquifers and any significant reduction in use, increase in recharge has to happen at the aquifer level and the assessment also needs to be done and made available at aquifer level for it to have any impact on future regulation of groundwater. In fact the only regulatory body working for groundwater regulation, the CGWA, works in a centralised way and its work has been far from confidence inspiring. That makes this whole findings questionable. Moreover, it would also be useful to see if the extraction has reduced in over exploited areas and if the recharge has increased where it is required most: in over exploited areas. Too many questions and no answers, unfortunately.
Continue reading “DRP NB 14 Nov 2022: Jal Shakti Ministry says: Groundwater extraction down, recharge up???“ →
(Feature Image: Group photo during No Means No campaign in April 2022 against destructive hydro power projects in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh. Source: The Pahari Zone, You Tube)
A number of developments this week once again show how unviable large hydropower projects are facing rejection in a number of states. In Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh) the local youth are demanding that the candidates in the state assembly elections to be held in November 2022 promise to work against the hydropower projects in the district.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the state government has told that High Court that they have cancelled all the 44 large hydropower projects proposed in Siang basin when locals alleged in the petition “the projects have been initiated in a reckless manner without any regard to the consequences of the same and without following any scientific research”.
In Assam with new accidents, the commissioning of the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri HEP has been pushed back further, making the over Rs 20000 crore project even more unviable. In J&K, the landslides killing 4 people at the under construction Ratel Hydropower project in Kishtwar district on Chenab River has again rung a warning as to what is in store for future if proper appraisal studies are not done. In Uttarakhand, the bid to take over the Lanco Hydropower project on Mandakini river, now undergoing bankruptcy case in the court have been rejected and same is likely to be the fate for the revised bid.
Continue reading “DRP NB 31×22: Unviable Hydro Projects rejected in Himachal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam“ →