(Feature Image: Conserving water: A farm pond being dug at a village in Kattakkada. The Hindu, Aug. 2020)
The story of how Kattakada village, 20 km from Kerala state capital Thiruvananthapuram conserved its water over the last few years is possibly the best candidate this week from water related stories of India. The work in this village with initiative from local CPM MLA has lessons for not only villages and towns of Kerala but also across India. It has lead to tanker dependent village in semi critical groundwater zone to become a safe zone and independence from dependence on tankers.
There is a lot here for the government in Kerala and other states of India and also Union government to stop hankering for large destructive projects and in stead focus on local solutions.
Continue reading “DRP NB 130323: Kerala village sets water conservation model” →
(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 – email@example.com. 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.
Continue reading “DRP NB 270223: How much Pump Storage Hydro capacity is required in India?” →
(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.
Continue reading “DRP NB 200223: US EPA starts reporting methane emissions from dams” →
Sikkim High Court Order on Dec 5, 2022 in the matter of death of two persons on May 23 2020 due to drowning following sudden release of water from a private hydropower project flags very important lessons that are relevant for all hydropower projects in India.[i]
Continue reading “Sikkim HC Order on Public Safety at Hydropower projects” →
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.
Continue reading “DRP NB 130223: El Nino set to endanger 2023 SW Monsoon rains” →
(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.
Continue reading “DRP NB 060223: Wetlands in India face damages, threats and Govt Apathy” →
(Feature Image:- Upper Dibang Valley District, Arunachal Pradesh, India (Source: Wikipedia Commons/IWP)
It’s rather rare that we get a hydropower project related decision from official decision makers that can be welcomed. It has happened this week when the MoEF’s (Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change) Forest Advisory Committee declined to give forest clearance to the controversial 3097 MW Etalin Hydropower Project in Dibang sub basin of Brahmaputra basin in Arunachal Pradesh and North East India. The project was under consideration for this clearance since 2014 and finally in the meeting on Dec 27, 2022, FAC conveyed that the current proposal cannot be considered for the clearance and revised proposal may be submitted. It is not a blanket rejection of the project, but considering the history of consideration of this project in FAC, it is closest we can come to that.
It is also welcome to know that the FAC has also looked at the poor track record of compliance of conditions of earlier forest clearances for the hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh among the many reasons why the project is rejected in current form. Arunachal Pradesh may do well to improve its track record before applying for forest clearance to any new projects in the state.
This decision is also a lesson for the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects and also for MoEF itself for not even looking at the track record of compliance of the conditions of environment clearances that the EAC and MoEF give to the river valley and hydropower projects. They also never look at the implementation of the Environment Management Plans. Same is the case with the MoEF’s National Board of Wildlife.
Continue reading “DRP NB 230123: Welcome decision of FAC to deny clearance to Etalin HEP” →
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:-River Ken inside Panna National Park from River Stories, Walking Across India-I by Siddharth Agarwal)
This is the first DRP bulletin of 2023 and we would like to begin on a positive note. But to remain grounded in reality we also need to look back at the events in 2022. We see a number of positives in 2022 and we hope that trend continues. The number of new dams and hydropower projects being started has remained on a declining trend. People and civil society has continued its protests against destructive projects and for more decentralised projects and governance.
Continue reading “DRP NB 020123: Looking Back to Look forward to 2023” →