DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 270323: Bleak future of Large Hydro

(Feature Image: Anti dam graffiti on the wall of the civil secretariat building in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh in July 2022. Source: Social Media)

Large Hydropower projects have bleak future as number of reports this week suggest, including the following Video. The large hydro is not renewable, sustainable or green or people friendly. In fact, it is increasingly seen as invitation to disasters. Much better options exist. In the changing climate situation, the destruction that hydropower projects bring about becomes even more relevant when we need the Rivers, Forests, the biodiversity and less disaster prone options. Earlier our governments see this writing on the dam walls from across the world, better it will be for all concerned.

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Urban Water Sector

World Water Day 2023: Positive Urban Water Stories from India

(Feature Image: Revived Bansilalpet stepwell in Hyderabad which has a capacity of over 20 lakh litres. Rangan Datta/Telegraph India.)

Marking World Water Day 2023; this compilation by SANDRP highlights top ten successful and worth replicable initiatives and actions being taken in Indian cities for revival of surface water sources and recharge of depleting groundwater table.

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Water Options

World Water Day 2023: Positive Water Stories from India

This report highlights top ten positive water stories from rural India from last one year. SANDRP has been marking the World Water Day by presenting the stories of some remarkable efforts undertaken for protection, revival and management of water sources by individuals, local communities and governments.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 060323: India’s regulators blind to increasing threats in Himalayas

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?

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 270223: How much Pump Storage Hydro capacity is required in India?

(Feature Image: State steps up pumped hydro storage projects amid coal crisis. Source: EQ Mag Pro/ May 2022)

On Feb 15, 2023, Union Ministry of Power issued draft guidelines for Pump Storage Projects, inviting comments from stakeholders in 15 days to the email id – hydro2-mop@gov.in. The guidelines say that more Pump Storage Projects (PSPs) are required in view of increasing solar and wind power capacity connected to the grid, to stabilize the grid, store the power to make it available during non-solar and non-wind power hours and for peaking power, reactive power, etc. It describes the PSP as “clean, green, safe, and non-explosive” and “environment friendly” option. No studies or basis are provided for this sweeping conclusion.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 200223: US EPA starts reporting methane emissions from dams

(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.  

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 130223: El Nino set to endanger 2023 SW Monsoon rains

After four years (SW Monsoons of 2019 [110.4%], 2020 [108.74% compared to normal rainfall], 2021 [99.3% or almost normal rainfall], 2022 [106.5%]) of normal or surplus monsoon rainfall, SW Monsoon 2023 could face rainfall deficit and uncertainties as per US Govt weather agency NOAA and also India’s IMD. El Nino conditions are many times associated with poor monsoon rainfall in India. Since SW Monsoon provides more than 75% of total annual rainfall of India, this can be critical for India. The shift from particularly prolonged La Nina conditions to El Nino conditions should be a warning sign for India. IMD DG has said that the department will come out with an update on Feb 28, which should be sufficient advance notice to take necessary steps to tackle its possible impacts on upcoming Summer and SW Monsoon. We hope the government is ready to take the necessary steps to tackle any eventuality.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 060223: Wetlands in India face damages, threats and Govt Apathy

(Feature Image:-Nayapakkam a lake near Chennai and a bird hotspot. 190 species have been recorded here and is a refuge for migratory harriers. https://ebird.org/hotspot/L3396760 Excavators were filling one end of the lake yesterday. Allegedly the ACS group is building an International school over it. M Yuvan, 05 Feb. 2023)

On the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2023 on Feb 2, 2023, SANDRP brought out five overviews about state of India’s wetlands. These included overview related to: 1. India’s Ramsar Wetlands 2. General overview of India’s wetlands 3. Top Ten stories about govt actions about wetlands 4. Top ten stories about judiciary actions about wetlands and 5. Positive stories about India’s wetlands. The links to the five overviews are available below.

The first thing that strikes from these overviews is that state of wetlands in India is bad, getting worse, they continue to face systemic neglect, damages, threats and govt apathy including Ramsar wetlands, which are supposed to have better protection than other wetlands, which is unfortunately not true. The nameplate of Ramsar wetland has now been given to 75 wetlands, but that provides no additional protection to them. in the name of information of Ramsar sites, there is only a combined interactive map apart from two separate pdf file links with location map and state wise listing Ramsar wetlands on Wetlands of India portal by MoEF&CC. The govt has neither prepared any concrete plan to address the threats nor has it developed credible monitoring mechanism which clearly shows it has no intention to improve the governance of these sites.

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Sand Mining

Riverbed Mining 2022: Judiciary tries but fails to bring effective change

(Feature Image: Screen shot of The Power Time Dec. 2022 video news report revealing large scale mechanized, illegal sand mining in Sone rivers in Sonbhadra district Uttar Pradesh)

Judiciary has been striving to remedy the lawless situation currently dominating riverbed mining in India. The year 2022 has been full of court cases and orders dealing with unsustainable and illegal riverbed mining operations. In this yearend overview, we have reported top ten judicial interventions to control exploitative minor mineral mining by various state governments and to make the regulators accountable against the illegalities & violations.

In 1st part of the annual Sand Mining overviews, we tracked the adverse impacts of riverbed mining activities on freshwater species and rivers’ eco-system. In 2nd part, we covered the riverine community’s agitations against destructive riverbed mining. The 3rd part highlighted the damages and threats to infrastructures by excessive, mechanized riverbed mining.

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Wetlands

WWD 2023: Some Positive India Wetlands Stories

In final part of annual World Wetlands Day overview, SANDRP highlights ten positive actions, efforts made by local communities, citizens groups for protection and conservation of wetlands in India in 2022. In earlier parts of the series, SANDRP has covered the general scenarios of wetlands (Part 1); steps taken by various governments (Part 2); judicial interventions (Part 3) and status of some of the Ramsar wetlands sites in the country (Part 4).

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