Himachal Pradesh · Hydro Disaster

Fatal Disaster at Shongtong Hydro in Himachal Pradesh in June 2022

Two workers of 450 MW Shongtong hydropower Project[i] were killed when the trolley they were using overturned inside the tunn[ii]el of the under-construction project near Ralli in Kalpa Tehsil of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. The police have registered a case in connection with the incident.

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Beas · Dams · Environment · Environment Impact Assessment · Environmental Flow · Fish · Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk · Free flowing rivers · Gharat · Himachal Pradesh · Hydropower · Rivers

Muktadhara Tirthan

How one fish and many people saved a river

“Hark! What is that? What is that sound? It is laughter, bubbling up from the heart of the darkness. It is the sound of water! There is no doubt. The water of Muktadhara is free!”

As I stepped on the wooden slats across the joyously gurgling Tirthan River, I remembered Rabindranath Tagore’s lines from his first play, Muktadhara (Free-flowing). I was in the Himalayas to listen to the story of Tirthan, a Muktadhara in her own right! Tirthan is the rarest, possibly the only river valley in India to be declared as a “No-Go Valley” for hydropower or dam development, protected in perpetuity.

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Delhi · Yamuna River

Making Yamuna Flow Again

Guest Blog by Manoj Misra

It is no secret that the master key to Yamuna rejuvenation or for that matter any other perennial river is to make it flow as close to its natural flow pattern as possible. How to go about it is no rocket science but is no easy task either for we humans have burdened them with so many of our selfish stakes.

What flows in a river is not just water, but water enriched with energy, minerals, sediments, detritus and life, macro and microscopic plants and animals. It’s only such flow that enables and has enabled rivers over the millennia to fulfill various ecological (& social) functions like erosion and deposition of earth, meander and form floodplains, feed aquifers to replenish the ground water, host aquatic and riparian life forms, connect with the floodplain and its water bodies and complete the water cycle. (Feature image above: Dead Yamuna river at Panipat (Pic by Bhim SIngh Rawat))

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Cloud Burst

Himachal Pradesh: Cloud Bursts in Monsoon 2021

(Feature image:- Local people trying to crossing the overflowing Jahlma drain with a rope to take an injured person to the hospital. Source: Amar Ujala, July 30, 2021.)

The Himalayan states have been facing reoccurring cloud burst disasters for the past several years. The state of Uttarakhand witnessed 50 such events, 24 pre monsoon[i] and 26 during south west monsoon[ii] season of 2021. This account highlights the situation of the emerging climatic threat in Himachal Pradesh in pre monsoon and monsoon months in 2021.

Here it may be noted that during SW Monsoon months of June to Sept 2021, Himachal Pradesh had 10% below normal rainfall, with 8 of the twelve districts of the state experiencing below normal rainfall. Lahaul and Spiti had the highest deficit at -65%. Among the four districts that had above normal rains, Kullu had the highest surplus at +40%. Even during the pre-monsoon months (March to May 2021), HP had 10% below normal rains.

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Monsoon · Rainfall

June July 2021 District Wise SW Monsoon Rainfall in India

In the just concluded month of July 2021, India received 266.1 mm rainfall, that is 6.73% below normal July rainfall of 285.3 mm, as per India Meteorological Department (IMD). This is in contrast with June 2021 rainfall, that was almost 11% surplus over Normal rainfall. Not only that surplus has been wiped out by the July 2021 deficit, the overall June July 2021 rainfall now is 449 mm, or about 0.7% below normal rainfall of 452.2 mm, as per IMD.

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Monsoon · Rainfall

June 2021: District wise rainfall in India’s SW Monsoon

In the just concluded June 2021, the first month of India’s South West 2021 monsoon, India received 182.9 mm rainfall, 10.96% or about 11% more than the normal June rainfall of 166.9 mm as per India Meteorological department. In June 2020, the rainfall was 196.9 mm, or about 18% above normal and in June 2019 it was 33% below normal.

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Indian Meteorological Department · Rainfall

Pre Monsoon 2021 season – State Wise, District Wise Rainfall

In the just concluded pre monsoon season (March 1 to May 31, 2021) India received 155.2 mm rainfall, 18% above the normal rainfall of 131.7 mm as per the India Meteorological Department (IMD). This is similar to the case in 2020[i] when India received 158.5 mm or 20% above normal rainfall.

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Hydro Disaster

Deaths and disaster at NHPC’s Parbati-II Hydro project

In a tragic incident, 4 labourers were killed and one was injured after part of an under construction tunnel of NHPC’s Parbati-2 hydropower project collapsed on Friday evening around 4.30 pm, May 21, 2021[i]. This happened at Pancha Nalla in the Garsa (Bhuntar) Valley of Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district[ii]. The accident happened when the labourers were doing drilling work in the 600m-long diversion tunnel (a sub tunnel of the main 31.52 km long tunnel[iii]). The whole area, where drilling was underway, collapsed. Four bodies were found buried under the debris. This description possibly shows signs of neglect of NHPC and the contractors.[iv]

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Rainfall

District wise Winter 2021 Rainfall in India

In the just concluded Winter Season (Jan 1 2021 to Feb 28 2021), as per India Meteorological Department (IMD), India received 32% below Normal Rainfall. The Normal rainfall in this two-month season is supposed to be quite low at 40.8 mm, but the actual rainfall was just 27.8 mm, which means rainfall was less than 0.5 mm per day in the season. Out of this the Rainfall in January 2021 was 20.2 mm, 17% above the normal rainfall of 17.3 mm. So in February 2021, the rainfall was 7.6 mm, against the normal rainfall of 23.5 mm, so the February rainfall was 68% below normal!

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Rainfall

Post Monsoon 2020: State wise Rainfall

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), during the just concluded Post Monsoon Rainfall for 2020, that included rainfall during Oct-Dec months, India received 124.6 mm rainfall, 0.64% above the normal rainfall of 123.8 mm during the period. As per IMD[i] definition, the rainfall was thus normal.

This three-month period from Oct 1, to Dec 31 includes the North East Monsoon that mainly affects parts of South India including Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Rayalseema, parts of Karnataka and Kerala. IMD declared on Jan 1, 2021 that the of NE Monsoon ended on Dec 31, 2020 with normal overall rainfall: TN had 6% above normal, Karnatak 13% above normal, Puducherry 32% above normal, Andhra Pradesh 33% above normal. However, Lakshadweep had 9% below normal and Kerala 26% below normal. This monsoon provides 48% of the annual rainfall of TN so it is most imp for that state.

The rainfall revived only towards the end of November, mainly due to two consecutive cyclones — Nivar and Burevi — both of which developed in the Bay of Bengal. While Cyclone Nivar crossed the coast close to Karaikal near Puducherry and brought heavy showers for the east and coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, Cyclone Burevi weakened before it reached land.

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