Sand Mining

Riverbed Mining India 2021 Overview: Govts’ Changing Policies to Mine Revenues

(Feature image showing brazen rule violations in legally approved sand (morang) mining site along river Ken at Kanwara, Banda. Source: Ashish Sagar Dixit.)

This second part of riverbed sand mining overview 2021 by SANDRP highlights relevant reports from ten different states where governments have taken new policy, administrative decisions. The first part presenting prevailing riverbed mining scenario over past one year can be seen here. The third and final part of this series would cover the key judicial interventions.    

Continue reading “Riverbed Mining India 2021 Overview: Govts’ Changing Policies to Mine Revenues”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 27 Dec 2021: PM pushes unviable, destructive Hydro projects in HP

Feature Image: Renuka Dam Sangharsh Samiti members take out a protest march at Dadahu in Sirmaur district on Dec. 19, 2021. Tribune photo

What will be the realistic cost of power from hydropower projects being pushed by the Prime Minister during this visit today to Himachal Pradesh? One indication of that comes from the 111 MW Sawra Kuddu HEP that he inaugurates during his visit. The cost of this project is already over Rs 2080 Crores, likely to go up further. Which means per MW installed capacity, the cost is around Rs 20 Crores. At this cost, the cost of power from the project is likely to be over Rs 8 per unit even without factoring in the social, environmental and increased disaster vulnerability costs that such projects impose on the fragile Himalayan Mountains. As if to also remind the active seismic zone, on the eve of his visit, there were tremors, even if mild, in Mandi.

The Renuka dam that he lays the foundation for does not even have all the statutory clearances. Its EIA has been the most dishonest exercise, as came out in the NGT hearings. What signal is the government sending by laying foundation stone for such a project? Similar are the issues with Luhri I and Dhaulasidh HEPs. The government seems to be pushing such outdated, unviable, costly and destructive projects in fragile Himalayan regions, purely on political arithmetic assumptions, but possibly need to realise that these projects are not even popular and they are also most inappropriate in the climate change context. Or is it the lure of spending such huge sums of unaccountable public money that provide opportunities for getting election funds for the party that is driving such undemocratic decisions?

Continue reading “DRP NB 27 Dec 2021: PM pushes unviable, destructive Hydro projects in HP”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 20 Sep 2021: Policy needed for Urban Rivers, not Riverfronts

There is no doubt that India urgently needs a guidance note and policy for Environment Sensitive, Climate Adaptive and Socially inclusive Urban Rivers Planning and Development. But this is required for the Urban Rivers and not just Urban Riverfront. The NMCG attempt like that of Sabarmati and numerous other river fronts unfortunately are not bothered about rivers, they are only interested in grabbing land from the Urban Rivers and convert the rivers into concrete channels on two and in some cases three sides (include the sides and the bed of the rivers). That is clearly death knell for the rivers. There is no doubt that there is need connect the people with the rivers, not just river fronts. The NMCG and other government bodies know the difference, so it is not out of ignorance that they have come out with the guidance note for river fronts rather than one for rivers. Unless people, civil society, experts and judiciary raise these issues, the future of Urban rivers seem bleak in India, as can be seen from the stories of Urban rivers compiled here from this week. 

Continue reading “DRP NB 20 Sep 2021: Policy needed for Urban Rivers, not Riverfronts”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 28 June 2021: Where is the impact of lessons of the water conservation efforts that Modi praises, on his government’s water projects and policies?

When the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Mentioned some exemplary water conservation efforts in his Mann ki Baat on June 27, 2021, it was not for the first time he was doing it. These are certainly most welcome.

However, these mentions raise a number of questions. If the Prime Minister considers these local water options as exemplary, which they indeed are, where do we see the reflection of the lessons from such efforts in government programs and policies? In fact why there is no reflection of such lessons in what the government does in water sector? How can the government justify the destruction of Panna Tiger Reserve, over 9000 ha of forests, some 46 lakh trees, the catchment of Ken river and large part of Bundelkhand in the name of Ken Betwa Link Project, in the same Bundelkhand. How can his government justify the destructive projects like the Char Dham Highway, the big hydro projects and so on in the same Uttarakhand where Sachidanand Bharati (who was incidentally recipient of the Bhagirath Prayas Samman of India Rivers Week) works, whose efforts the PM praised? One hope the PM and his government will be awake to the implications and lessons of the works that PM praises.

Continue reading “DRP NB 28 June 2021: Where is the impact of lessons of the water conservation efforts that Modi praises, on his government’s water projects and policies?”
Sand Mining

Sand & Stone Mining: 45 lives lost in fatal accidents in a week

 2021 has begun with 45 lives lost in 4 mining accidents in just a week. We highlight the tragic incidents here as they raise some critical questions about governance and to prevent the avoidable accidents from becoming a new normal. 

Karnataka, January 21, 2021

The latest accident occurred in Hunasodu village in Abbalagere taluk of Shivamogga district where a strong blast in a lorry carrying explosive gelatine sticks has killed six people. There is still no exact figure of death toll and cause of explosion is yet unknown. While various media reports have been mentioning death toll varying from 5 to 15, denying these figures[i] six bodies have been recovered so far. 

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Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk

Inland Fish, Fisheries, Fisher-folks: 2020 Overview

Inland fisheries support millions of people and remains a major source of nutrition for a very large number of poorest people. This includes riverine fisheries, reservoir fisheries, wetland and local water body fisheries. Here we try to provide an overview of developments in this sector during the year 2020.

The overview has following sections: Policy & Governance in Centre, followed by in States, some positive developments, Covid-19 & Fishing Community, Fisher folks’ struggles, New Fish Species, Invasive fish, Fish Deaths & Pollution, Over fishing & Extinction, Studies related to inland fisheries.

Continue reading “Inland Fish, Fisheries, Fisher-folks: 2020 Overview”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 9 Nov 2020: Welcome water initiatives

Nature in Focus features India’s 12 water heroes. This is an interesting exercise. We also add some interesting stories from this week that should possibly feature in such efforts.

Nature in Focus 12 heroes redefining the landscape of water conservation This is the final story in a series of articles launched by Astral Pipes and Nature in Focus to create awareness about the ongoing water crisis and to encourage necessary action to address it. The names include Vishwanath Srikantaiah, Veena Srinivasan, Aabid Surti, Aabid Surti, Kalpana Ramesh, K.J.Joy, Rajendra Singh, Shishir Rao, Parineeta Dandekar, Ajya Mittal, Nachiket Kelkar, Aditi Mukherji. Links to interviews with each of them can be found here: https://www.natureinfocus.in/save-every-drop. Great to see that Parineeta Dandkear of SANDRP is also there! https://www.natureinfocus.in/save-every-drop/the-answer-to-india-s-water-crisis (4 Nov 2020) 

Continue reading “DRP NB 9 Nov 2020: Welcome water initiatives”
Sand Mining

Durga Shakti Nagpal at India Rivers Week 2020: Civil society have important role to play in sand mining governance

Transcript of famous, courageous IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal’s address and Question Answer session at North Zone Dialogue on “IS SAND MINING KILLING OUR RIVERS” at India Rivers Week 2020 on Oct 31, 2020. It’s a must read for the amazing clarity and forthrightness that she spoke about her experience in taking on Sand Mining Mafia in her very first posting as IAS officer, as SDM Greater Noida in UP in 2013. She describes the dramatic circumstances under which her team was attacked in the middle of the night and how they survived what looked like a certain end of life episode. And she also talks about the biopic being made on her and who are likely heroines and whom she prefers!

Continue reading “Durga Shakti Nagpal at India Rivers Week 2020: Civil society have important role to play in sand mining governance”
Election Manifestos

Election Manifestos of 2019: Which party shows faith in people, rights & democracy?

Even as India’s General Elections 2019 are underway, by now the manifestos of most major parties[i] are out now. The latest one to come out was from AAP on April 25, 2019. Here we have tried to capture the key aspects of the manifestos of main political parties, particularly on aspects that we work on. While looking at the promises in the manifestos, we also look at the track record of the outgoing government, since that is the most relevant and current experience. We try and see how the parties try to come to grips with the massive water and environment crisis that India faces and how the poorest are the first and many times the only victims of the crisis. Continue reading “Election Manifestos of 2019: Which party shows faith in people, rights & democracy?”

Urban Water Sector

Smart Cities need Smart Governance more than heavy infrastructure

The Center has just unveiled Implementation Guidelines of three of its biggest schemes so far 100 Smart Cities, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Housing for All today. Stocks of Home Finance Companies are buzzing already. Construction company heads (who have invested heavily in creating urban holidays homes in rural villages) are happy, Industry analysts are excited about the explosive growth of “Cement, plastic and metal” this initiative will lead to, rather than the Mission itself. While the Prime Minister today said “development can’t create friction between cities and  rural areas”, such conflict is already simmering in several parts of country at the urban-rural divide, where rural areas are sinks for urban waste or sites for dams and power plants. Continue reading “Smart Cities need Smart Governance more than heavy infrastructure”