DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 2 Aug 2021: Disappointing UKD HC order on Chamoli disaster: Will SC intervene please?

( Feature image:- Women members of Raini village’s gram sabha, Source: Atul Sati/ Facebook/The Quint)

The July 14, 2021 order of Uttarakhand HC, dismissing the petition of those affected by the Chamoli disaster of Feb 2021 and asking that NTPC, developer of the Tapovan Vishnugad project be accountable, is most distressing. While Indian judiciary is rightly credited with doing a lot for the cause of environment and people in general, in the unequal battle of the communities and activists against injustice and negligence of giant projects and their developers, the judiciary has more often failed to ensure that the developers are held accountable and are not allowed to bulldoze ahead using their might, supported by the state, to crush attempts to achieve just and democratic results. In the Chamoli disaster, there are many many questions that remained unanswered and one expected the HC to use the petition to seek those answers. But in stead, the HC has chose to question and fine the petitioners. One hopes the higher judiciary will correct this and stay the order and in stead seek answers from the developers of the hydro projects in such fragile, disaster prone areas and those that sanctioned such projects, including the environment ministry, the state government, the CWC, the CEA, the Geological Survey of India and also the project developers.

Continue reading “DRP NB 2 Aug 2021: Disappointing UKD HC order on Chamoli disaster: Will SC intervene please?”
Hydropower

2021 International Day of Action for Rivers: Opposition against HEPs, dams in India

(Feature image source:-A Sikkim tribe trying to save ‘paradise’ from woes of development.)

March 14 is International Day of Action for Rivers, against destructive projects. The main objective is to ensure that the river people have their say in the decision-making processes which affect their rivers and related livelihoods sources and that the decisions are informed decisions.

Here we are bringing forth the struggles of riverine communities in India in past one year to make decision makers aware of their hardships and impacts of destructive hydro and dam projects on the riverine eco-system.     

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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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Dams, Rivers & People

DRP News Bulletin 30 July 2018: Laos Dam DISASTER: Yet Another Wake Up Call?

The various aspects of tragic Dam Disaster in Mekong Basin in Laos are still unfolding. But it is clear from many accounts that it was an avoidable, man-made disaster due to neglect of contractors, decision makers, consultants and supervising agencies. There is a lot we can learn from this if we want to avoid such disasters in India. We still do not have credible Dam Safety Law or institution, CWC is clearly not the right agency considering the conflict of interest with the various other roles of CWC. But for now let us look at the reports of Laos Dam Disaster.

Reminding the world of one of the worst dam disasters, the under construction dam Xepian Xe Nam Noy Hydro power project breached releasing 5 billion cubic metres of water in Southern Laos on July 23.

The gushing water current swept the surrounding leading to death of about 26 people and displacing about 6600 residents. As per report hundreds of people are still missing from neighbouring villages of Yai Thae, Hinlad, Mai, Thasengchan, Tha Hin, and Samong, which bore the brunt of flooding. The deluge has reportedly destroyed thousands of homes.

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Dams

Failing CETP In Himachal’s Pharma Hub, Poisons River Sirsa & Villagers’ Lives

Last month, on October 14th, around noon, there was a massive fish kill in the Sirsa River at Sitalpur, in Baddi, Solan district. Locals of the area who witnessed the event sent in these photographs and video of hundreds of dying rohu. 

Sirsa 1

Photo and Video Credit: Pawan Bhardwaj, Baddi

Sirsa, a lifeline once, now spells doom

 

The Sirsa river in the Shiwalik foothills of Himachal, which flows into the Satluj, has been reduced to a drain carrying toxic industrial effluents of the Baddi Barotiwala Nalgarh Industrial hub, over the last ten years. The river has several villages located along its banks that have been impacted as a result of untreated effluents and toxic water being drained into it by more than 2000 industrial units in the region. The worst affected were the Gujjars, a pastoral community dependent on rearing cattle and buffaloes.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 13 November 2017 (EAC Defers To Clear Pancheshwar Dam But Ignores People’s Voices)

The minutes of expert appraisal committee (EAC) shows that Environmental Clearance  (EC) for the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project has been deferred. The minutes were uploaded after 16 days of EAC meeting conducted on Oct 24, 2017. http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/09112017PCU6UH80Finalminutesof9thEACmeeting1.pdf

In the minutes, the EAC said that it would require to study the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Nepal portion of the project to get a holistic view. It also directed the project proponent to obtain wildlife clearance as the project was located 300 metres from the Ascot Wildlife Sanctuary. 

It is worth to mention that the Pancheshwar dam with a height of 315 meters is world’s second tallest dam proposed in ecologically sensitive region. Scores of media reports have underlined the unfair and politically influenced Environment Public Hearing (EPH) process, conducted during peak monsoon month in landslide ridden and disaster prone region. The venue of the EPH was also several kms away from villages going to be affected thus depriving the local people participation in essential decision making process. As a result the concerns and voices of villagers to have their voices heard. The EIA report of the project has also not mentioned several grave environmental issues of GOLFs events, cloud bursts, earthquakes etc in the catchment of the dam let alone the question of impact on endangered wildlife like Mahseer fish. 

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 06 November 2017 (NGT Asks For Fresh Appraisal Of Lower Subansiri Hydro Project)

In a remarkable development, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 24 has suspended the clearances given to the 1750-megawatt (MW) Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project  (HEP) planned on the Lohit river in Arunachal Pradesh.

In its detailed order, released on October 27, the NGT ruled that the Environment Minister as Chairperson of the National Board for Wildlife (NWBL), a statutory body constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, could not “just brush aside” the views of the majority of NBWL standing committee members.

Suspending the clearances given by the Centre and the state govt, the NGT order added that “the decision taken by the Standing Committee is not in accordance with established principles of law and hence the Standing Committee shall reconsider the issue and pass appropriate orders within a period of six months from the date of the judgment”.

Environmental clearance for the project was given by the Union environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for river valley and hydroelectric projects back in 2009. An in-principle forest clearance for the Lower project was given in February 2012 and agreed upon in 2013.

However, the in-principle clearance of the project was opposed by a majority of the Standing Committee of the NBWL but subsequently cleared by the then-environment minister of state (independent charge), Jayanthi Natarajan, who was also the chairperson of the Standing Committee.

Natarajan is currently under the CBI’s scanner for alleged anomalies in clearance given for diversion of land in Saranda forest in Singhbhum district, Jharkhand to mining company Electrosteel during the previous UPA regime.

The NGT said that it is “of the view that either the Chairperson (Natarajan) should have given a proper reason for rejecting the objection of the majority of the non-official members or the decision ought to have been arrived at based on the opinion of the majority of the members. Even though the Standing Committee is a recommendatory body, the same being a statutory committee, is bound by the laudable principles of justice and fair play”.

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Dams · India Rivers Week

Nominations for BPS-2017 & Shri Anupam Mishra Memorial Medal-2017 Invited

Dear All,

Greetings from the India Rivers Week (IRW) Organising Committee!

This is to request for nominations for Bhagirath Prayaas Samman (BPS) 2017.

As you will recall BPS is an attempt to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding, inspirational, unsung initiatives in river conservation.

This year we are also initiating Shri Anupam Mishra Memorial Medal to celebrate media professionals who have established an exceptional body of credible work on various aspects of rivers leading to changes in behaviour, public discourse, law and policy. Self nominations will also be considered.

Please find attached the announcement and the nomination forms.

PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO SURESH BABU TO GET THE ATTACHMENT MENTIONED HERE suresh@wwfindia.netBPS Call for nominations 2017.

Last date for nominations: September 25, 2017. A jury will take decision about the final awardees based on set of criteria.

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Dams

Loud Media Message: Public hearing of  Pancheshwar Dam is illegal

Before, during and after the controversial public hearing of destructive Pancheshwar Dam, held in three districts in Uttarakhand, wide media reports in print, in audio-visual and social media gave a loud and clear message: The public hearings violated all legal and democratic norms, in letter and spirit and were clearly illegal.

The Pancheshwar multipurpose project has generated much controversy in India and in Nepal. Its Environment Public Hearing (EPH) was held on August 9, 11 and 17 at Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora in Uttarakhand. Held during monsoon season in disaster prone hilly region they have invited sharp criticism from all concerned.

There have been scores of reports by local and national media revealing the significant environmental issues being compromised by concerned authorities. We have compiled some key media reports here to illustrate,  how clear is the message from all media that the public hearing, the EIA and the project itself involves so many violations of law and democratic norms. They are clearly unacceptable.  

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Dams

Himachal Pradesh Rivers Profile

 

About Himachal Pradesh  

5 river basins; Total Area: 55,000 square kms.; Total Population: 68.65 lakhs; Total Catchment Area of 5 rivers; Total Catchment Area: 53311 sq.kms

Himachal is a relatively small state and in 2011 its population stood at 68.65 lakhs. It is only 9% urbanised and most of Himachal lives in its villages. Of the total land geographical area only 10% is under agriculture while close to 70% in under the category of ‘Forest land’. And yet agriculture is the main source of livelihood in Himachal with over 93% of the population dependent on it. As in most mountain areas agriculture and forest dependence is interwoven.

Agriculture is made possible due to the irrigation from river channels or natural springs. The health of the forests directly determines the health of the surface and ground water systems which in turn determines the viability of agriculture and horticulture. Horticulture and cash based agriculture was pushed by the government in the late 70s and 80s. Today the state has massive apple cultivation, apart from commercial vegetable cultivation, which is an important source of income for the farmers.

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