Agriculture · Water

World Water Day 2019: Positive Water Actions by Farmers, Governments

Today is World Water Day. The theme[1] for this year is ‘Leaving No One Behind’. In India it’s onset of summer. As usual, many parts of country have started facing water scarcity. After deficient monsoon, half of the country is in drought grip. The drought is further compounding the already stressed situation. Cauvery river has started drying[2]. The monsoon failure and drying of surface water sources have severely affect the ground water resource, which is depleting across the country.

Presently groundwater is lifeline[3] of India. It caters to meet 85 per cent of drinking water supply in rural parts. About 65 per cent of urban potable water supply is also based on ground water. Similarly 65 per cent of agricultural area is irrigated by water below the ground and it is meeting about 55 per cent of industrial demand.

The Water Aid report titled Beneath the Surface: State of the World’s Water 2019 released in this month, draws grim picture of ground water depletion in India. It says that about 24 per cent of all India’s water use is extracted ground water. With about 250 cubic km of extraction, India draws out more groundwater than any other in the world — more than that of China and the US combined. Because of this, the rate of groundwater depletion has increased by 23% between 2000 and 2010.

Continue reading “World Water Day 2019: Positive Water Actions by Farmers, Governments”

Water

World Water Day 2019: Positive Stories from India

As we are celebrating world water day 2019 with the theme[1] ‘Leaving No One Behind’, two United Nation’s reports release in this month have underlined the growing water crisis on the watery planet. While the WaterAid report[2] has raised alarm over rapidly falling groundwater table in South Asia, the sixth edition of ‘Global Environment Outlook’, has warned of growing pollution of freshwater sources[3] and resultant impact on human health.

The situation this year in India indeed warrants wide attention as about 50 per cent of the country is facing drought[4] condition. With rapid fall in groundwater table, wells, tanks and streams are turning dry in most part of central and south Indian states. The farming, riverine and village communities are particularly at the receiving end of compounding water crisis. 

The cities of Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune are facing severe water scarcity which will turn worse in the coming days. The Cauvery river in Kodagu, Karnataka has registered unprecedentedly low flow[5]. The water level in Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad has reached dead storage[6] and Mettur dam has been falling[7] sharply.

In a remedial but surprising move, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has set up a team of water marshals[8] to act against water tankers charging exorbitantly from residents. Before this, Nasik district administration has formed patrolling squads[9] to protect canal water from theft by farmers. Tribal areas in Siddipet, Telangana are reeling under dearth[10] of potable water. The forest fire[11] and increasing summer has forced wild animals move towards human populated areas.

However, on positive note, many individuals, groups and communities have silently been investing efforts in water conservation works. Many have yielded positive out-comes. Many other institutions including some initiatives at government level have also set an example before others in preserving the water resources and treating and reusing polluted water. Also, there are a number of remarkable water conservation efforts by farming communities across the country. This compilation tries to put together some of the positive water actions in India during the past one year. 

Continue reading “World Water Day 2019: Positive Stories from India”

Sand Mining

Tamil Nadu Sand Mining 2018: Story of Nexus exposed by a brave Journalists

Brave Journalists exposes the Nexus supporting illegal sand mining in Tamil Nadu

Reporter honoured for exposing illegal mining On January 4, 2019, Sandhya Ravishankar was conferred Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for her reportage on illegal beach sand mining in Tamil Nadu. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/news18-editor-m-gunasekaran-becomes-1st-tamil-journalist-bag-ramnath-goenka-award-94522 (5 Jan. 2019)

Journalist stalked after reports on sand mafia Sandhya Ravishankar, Chennai-based journalist alleges multiple attempts to stalk and intimidate her in the recent past after she wrote a series of reports on the sand mafia. She is also fighting defamation cases. https://www.firstpost.com/india/chennai-based-journalist-sandhya-ravishankar-alleges-stalking-intimidation-after-reports-on-sand-mining-mafia-5295131.html  (1 Oct. 2018)

Explosive reports on illegal beach sand mining in Tamil Nadu by Sandhya Ravi Shankar: Her report first person singular on Jan 31, 2017 provides blow by blow account of how the nexus involved in illegal sand mining was exposed. (https://thewire.in/culture/beach-sand-cartel, https://thewire.in/tag/beach-sand-mining)

Continue reading “Tamil Nadu Sand Mining 2018: Story of Nexus exposed by a brave Journalists”

Drought

Can floods lead to drought? After the flood, severe drought looming over Kerala

Guest blog by: Madhusoodhanan C.G. and Sreeja K.G

The state of Kerala experienced extreme precipitation events during the 2018 South West monsoon period with multiple episodes culminating in devastating floods across the state during 14th-18th August 2018. This year, with an early onset of monsoons that dovetailed with strong summer showers, the state received about 41% excess rainfall (2394 mm against the normal of 1700 mm) during the period June 1st to August 22nd [1]. Almost all of its reservoirs were near full storage by mid-July.

The heavy downpour and the uncontrolled opening of the spillway gates of almost all reservoirs that inundated huge stretches of river banks and floodplains, along with massive landslides across the Western Ghats affected more than 1.5 million people, with close to 500 human casualties, immense losses to property, livelihoods and resource security apart from the extensive damage to forests, wildlife and biodiversity. Maximum destruction was observed along the rivers of Periyar, Chalakudy and Pamba, all having multiple dams on their tributaries. The debate is still on as to the various reasons, both manmade and natural, behind the floods and the resultant wide-ranging casualties [2,3,4,5,6]. Meanwhile things have taken a rather unexpected turn in the flood ravaged state.

Continue reading “Can floods lead to drought? After the flood, severe drought looming over Kerala”

Climate Change

Feb 2019 Hailstorm, Snowfall Affects Life in Northwest India

Since the beginning of 2019, there have been couple of incidents of hailstorm in Haryana and Punjab. The region has also seen good rainfall in January. The hilly states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand have been repeatedly facing heavy snowfall events gripping the large parts of North India in cold waves.

The initial rains and snowfall were seen usual events and considered as beneficial for rabi crops and water demands. However the unusual hailstorm accompanied by heavy rainfall In January 2019 and again on Feb 7-8, 2019 have caused significant damage to standing crops in large part of Haryana, Punjab and Western parts of Uttar Pradesh.

Continue reading “Feb 2019 Hailstorm, Snowfall Affects Life in Northwest India”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 23 July 2018: Landmark CAG Reports on DAM FLOODS & Ineffective; Costly Mega Irrigation Projects

In its latest report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has questioned implementation of sixteen National Irrigation Projects. Before this, the CAG has held mismanagement in dams’ operation responsible for Chennai floods in 2015. Both these reports are available on its website now.

The CAG report on National Irrigation Projects, tabled in Parliament on July 20, has revealed that sixteen major multi-purpose water projects, taken up on an expeditious basis about a decade ago, are nowhere near completion, with no work being undertaken in as many as 11 projects despite the incumbent govt’s much-wanted focus on improving irrigation facilities in the country.

The report also mentioned that out of the 16 projects, undertaken under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) in Feb 2008, only five projects with estimated irrigation potential of 25.10 lakh hectares were under implementation and even these projects suffer from 8 to 99 per cent shortfall in physical progress, the CAG said. The remaining 11 projects with estimated irrigation potential of 10.48 lakh hectares are yet to commence and are at different stages of approval.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 23 July 2018: Landmark CAG Reports on DAM FLOODS & Ineffective; Costly Mega Irrigation Projects”

Dams

Positive Rivers Stories 2017: Citizens Reconnecting with Rivers

On occasion of International Day of Action for Rivers 14 March 2018, SANDRP presents a compilation of positive rivers stories that took place in the year 2017. The report highlights the exemplary rivers restoration work done by communities, village Panchayats.  It also attempts to acknowledge remarkable on going protests and struggle by fisherfolks, villagers and river communities in rural areas to protect the lifelines from unsustainable development projects. The report also presents the interesting “River Marches” where citizens have come forward to take actions against the threats on rivers in Urban areas and encouraging “River Walks” helping citizens rediscover their bond with RIVERS.  Continue reading “Positive Rivers Stories 2017: Citizens Reconnecting with Rivers”

Dams

Union Budget 2018: Looking for farmers, rivers or environment

Finance Minister Arun Jaitely presented the last full budget of the Modi led NDA govt at centre on Feb 1, 2018. Considering the impending elections and the prospects of facing the elections next year (possibly earlier as some speculate), one thought the Budget will try to do justice to the promises the BJP made to the people in 2014 elections, particularly to farmers, about Ganga and other rivers. Modi has just returned from Davos where he said climate change is one of the biggest challenges of future, so one expected that the budget will also have something on environment and climate change. Even the ECONOMIC SERVEY 2017 put out on Jan 29, 2018 was focused on climate change impact on farmers. Considering the Rural distress that got reflected in Gujarat election results in Dec 2017, one expected credible and substantial better deal for villages and agriculture.

Unfortunately, we are mostly disappointed in all these aspects. Continue reading “Union Budget 2018: Looking for farmers, rivers or environment”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

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.

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

Dams

Open Letter to Chief Minister of Maharashtra: Stop Westwards diversion of water from Krishna basin

OPEN LETTER TO HON. CHIEF MINISTER OF MAHARASHTRA:

Water Diversion from Krishna basin by Koyna and Tata Dams:

Maharashtra is violating Human Rights, National & State Water Policy

August 18, 2015

Dear Shri Devendra Fadnavis,

As we all know, large parts of Maharashtra, including Marathawada and Western Maharashtra (part of IMD division called Madhya Maharashtra) are in the grip of biggest monsoon deficit in the country with deficits of 48% and 33% respectively at the end of August 17, 2015 as per IMD[1]. Even beyond the state border, North Interior Karnataka has monsoon deficit of 45%, Rayalseema 36% and Telangana 23%.

Farmers in all these regions are in distress, rainfed Kharif crop, the only crop for most of them, may have been jeopardised for almost all of them. Most of the reservoirs have paltry storages, the biggest in the Krishna basin, Ujani in Maharashtra and Nagarjunsagar in Telangana (also catering to parts of Andhra Pradesh) have zero % in live storage, Srisailam has paltry 9%[2]. Millions of farmers and people are facing the prospects of livelihood loss and severe water scarcity.

While the situation is this serious in Krishna River Basin and adjoining basins, in Maharashtra, huge amounts of water is being diverted from the Krishna basin to the water surplus Konkan region which has seen close to 1600 mm rainfall already. This westward diversion of water from the east flowing Krishna-Bhima basin ultimately takes the water to Arabian Sea, while the Krishna basin, which should have the first right over this water, remains plunged in massive water scarcity. Krishna basin is thus being deprived of its water. Continue reading “Open Letter to Chief Minister of Maharashtra: Stop Westwards diversion of water from Krishna basin”