The Supreme Court of India, while disposing of a petition related Chandigarh, in its order on January 10, 2023 has said: “Before we part with this judgement, we observe that it is high time that the legislature, executive, and the policymakers at the centre and state levels take note of the damages to the environment on account of haphazard development and take a call to take necessary measures to ensure that the development does not damage the environment… We therefore appeal to the Legislature, the Executive and the Policy Makers at the Centre as well as at the State levels to make necessary provisions for carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment studies before permitting urban development.”
This is most welcome. And urgently required. That India’s urban development is happening at the cost of life sustaining environment resources including rivers, water bodies, forests, wetlands among others is well known. That the government sees all requirements of environmental scrutiny as road blocks is also well known. The consequences of this are clear for all concerned, not only in case of Bangalore as cited by the Supreme Court Bench, but also in case of Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Ernakulam, Faridabad, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Indore, Joshimath, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and so on. So is there a good chance that the apex court suggestion will be followed either in letter or in spirit? Unlikely. So what is clearly required is that the apex court emphatically directs the centre and states in this regard and follows it up with ensuring its implementation.
Continue reading “DRP NB 160123: Top Court appeals for EIAs for Urban Development: Welcome, but…”
According to this detailed report, possibly the first independent review of the Atal Bhujal Yojana, a 5-year program of the Union govt for management of groundwater, India’s water lifeline, with over half of the project period completed, seems bereft of the fundamental aspects that the scheme itself says are necessary for any sound foundation of the scheme. The review describes it as a dish full of chaff, without almost any kernels of wheat for some sound reasons. It says hardly 18% of allocated money has been spent on Gram Panchayat level community-led Water Security Plan. Only 4% of the planned Gram Panchayat level trainings have been held, with Gujarat and Haryana holding none. Only 27% of money allocated for Gram Panchayat level Hydrogeological monitoring network has been spent. The data gathering instruments that were required from the beginning of the program have not been installed in over half the planned locations. On Information, Education and Communication activities, only 16% of allocated amount is spent.
More detailed independent review of the program implementation will help, but from the available information so far, the signs do not look particularly promising. Is it due to ineptness or lack of intention? Only time will tell.
Continue reading “DRP NB 090123: Atal Bhujal Yojana just chaff without any wheat?”
(Feature Image: 1772 Mw PSHPs Spain. Photo courtesy of Iberdrola/ ENR)
The question marks over viability of huge number of pump storage hydro projects (PSHP) being pushed forward in India currently were flowing in the rivers for long. This week, Moody’s investors Service (MIS) seems to have strengthened this after it downgraded Greenko Energy Holdings’ corporate family rating. It may be noted that Greenko is the biggest investor in PSHPs in India from private sector and a major part of Greenko’s new investments are in PSHP.
This makes the implications of MIS’s downgrade all the more interesting. MIS has noted that PHSPs are capital intensive and each PHSP will generate cash flow only after at least 2-3 years of construction (in reality it can be much longer than 2-3 years, the operative phrase here is at least). It also noted that the additional debt to be raised from Greenko’s capital spending, coupled with a rising interest environment will put further pressure on “GEH’s already weak financial metrics” and that Greenko’s high financial leverage due to its substantial capital spending program will keep its financial metrics below its downgrade trigger “for an extended period of time”.
Continue reading “DRP NB 191222: Question marks over viability of pump hydro projects”
(Feature Image: Reservoir of Vyasi hydro project dam on Yamuna river in Dehradun. Credit: Varsha Singh/The Third Pole.)
A section of the hydro lobby has been trying to push hydropower in the name of producing green hydrogen as an alternative energy source. However, it has been known for a long time that this is a false solution. There cannot be green hydrogen when sourced from hydropower as not only hydropower projects have huge social and environmental footprint, they also have huge carbon footprint as the following article shows. It would be best to out rightly reject any such claim of green hydrogen when sourced from hydropower project.
Continue reading “DRP NB 121222: Green Hydrogen from Hydropower is false solution”
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”
(Feature image: Fish species caught in small Ramganga stream in Pauri Garhwal. Bhim Singh Rawat/SANDRP)
On the occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2022, this report by SANDRP tracks developments related to aquatic biodiversity in India over the last year. The first, second, third and fourth parts of the WFD 2022 reports covered positive reports on rivers’ fish and fishermen; mass fish deaths in rivers and emerging threats; mass fish kills in lakes, ponds in the country and issues concerning rights & livelihoods of inland & coastal fishers reported during the past one year.
Continue reading “WFD 2022: Protect Aquatic Biodiversity for Fish to prosper“
(Feature Image: Over the years in the Panzath village, it has emerged sort of a festival. Residents said the tradition started by their ancestors has helped them keep the water body in order, clean and healthy. Image: Aaquib Gull/ Kashmir Life)
On the occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2022, this report highlights the ongoing struggle of inland and coastal fishers amid adversarial governments and changing climate. It first tracks some positive developments and then moves on to document important issues concerning the fisher communities in India. The first, second and third part of the WFD 2022 reports covered positive reports on rivers’ fish and fishermen; mass fish deaths in rivers and emerging threats; and mass fish kills in lakes and ponds in the country reported during the past one year. The fifth and last part on the series would highlight issues concerning aquatic bio-diversity in the country.
Continue reading “WFD 2022: Inland, Coastal Fisherfolks’ Struggle Amid Hostile Climate“
(Feature Image: Govindamma (extreme left) fishing for prawns in Kosasthalaiyar river with others from her Irular community. They wade through the water for 2-4 kms to catch them. Credit: People’s Archive for Rural India (PARI))
On the occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2022, this report by SANDRP tracks some positive stories on river fish and fisher in India & Dam removal action abroad. In subsequent part on this occasion, the mass fish death incidents in Indian rivers, wetlands, lakes would be covered along with updates on emerging threats of invasive fish, riverbed mining, pollution, encroachments, microplastic over the past one year. The third part would cover the mass fish death incidents in lakes and ponds in India and the fourth part would focus on continuing struggle of coastal fisherfolks and relevant issues. The fifth and last part on the series would highlight issues concerning aquatic bio-diversity in the country.
Continue reading “WFD 2022: Positive River Fisheries Reports from India & Dam Removal Abroad“
(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“