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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Dams, Rivers & People

DRP NB 15 Feb. 2021: Why Mangshri Devi of Tapovan Should Head Uttarakhand’s Disaster Management Department?

Feature image Tapovan-Vishnugad hydropower project in Chamoli district on Feb., 7 by Gajendra Yadav, Express Photo

In a fantastic story, Shivani Azad of The Times of India has reported possibly the most remarkable story of the Chamoli avalanche disaster that started on Sunday morning on Feb 7, 2021. She reported that Vipul Kairuni of Dhaak village in Tapovan, working at the time at the now destroyed Tapovan Vishnugad project, got saved thanks to frantic calls by his mother Mangshri Devi as she and his wife saw from their village home, situated at a height from the river, that a massive flood is approaching the dam site. It was thanks to frantic, repeated calls by Mangshri Devi that not only Vipul, but at least two dozen more people could run to safety of a ladder and saved their lives.

So effectively, Mangshri Devi has saved at least two dozen lives in Chamoli disaster. Who else can claim to have achieved anything like that in the disaster? The disaster management department seems completely absent from the scene either in terms of pre disaster monitoring or in taking steps to save lives during the disaster. In fact, there should have been an early warning system in place that could have saved many more lives. But it does not exist. Either in Rishiganga/ Dhauliganga basin or anywhere else in Uttarakhand. NTPC’s Tapovan Vishnugad Project has faced so many disasters already since 2008, but is only now talking about putting in place early warning system. Should not the NTPC and power ministry top brass as well as Uttarakhand disaster management department held accountable for that?

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 25 Jan. 2021: UN warns about aging Dams & Floods in changing climate

A new UN report released on January 21, 2021 UN has warned the major big dam owning counties about the aging population of fast silting up dams in changing climate and urgent need to start working on decommissioning of uneconomical large dams. Among the few countries that UN has warned includes India with its third largest number of big dams. The added problem in India is the ill maintained and ill operated large dams that UN report did not look into. Indian dams are sanctioned based on highly under estimated siltation rates, there is practically no transparency and accountability in operation of Indian dams and dam almost every year get away with creating avoidable flood disasters. This latest problem is not just related to old dams, but even the newest celebrated ones like the Sardar Sarovar Dam as happened in Gujarat in late August-early Sept 2020. No legal regime exists in India for dam safety, either structural safety or operational safety. And in changing climate, with increasing frequency of higher intensity rainfall events, such risks are already increasing multi-fold.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 18 Jan. 2021: Is there any hope for Yamuna from Delhi, SC actions?

Yamuna is again in headlines in this week’s Bulletin. It carries the Nov 2020 announcement of Delhi Govt plan to clean river by 2023 and the action by the Supreme Court. There is nothing very convincing, path breaking or new in what the Delhi Govt has announced, such announcements keep coming every few years and then tend to be forgotten, to be renewed with announcement of new deadlines in this case. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court action is not particularly different. One only needs to remind the apex court and everyone else that in 1994, the SC had taken up Yamuna case suo moto. No impact on the river could be achieved till around 2017, when the SC decided to handover the case to NGT. It is not clear what exactly has prompted SC to take it up again, but the move does not inspire confidence considering the past track record.

We hope we are wrong and the Delhi Plans and the SC move does lead to better days for Yamuna. In the meantime, the Yamuna Monitoring Committee set up by the NGT is doing its role, but one wishes, their hands and plans as strengthened and pushed by the NGT, which does not seem to be the case currently.

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Monsoon · Rainfall · River Basin

IMD continues callous reporting of River Wise Rainfall in Monsoon 2020

This rarely gets reported in media, but IMD (India Meteorological Department) also provides river basin wise rainfall figures. Here is an overview of the river basin wise rainfall during SW Monsoon 2020 (June-Sept 2020, though the monsoon withdrew much later), like the way we have been doing for the last three years[i]. Our earlier monsoon 2020 articles provided district wise figures for rainfall in June 2020[ii], June-July 2020[iii], June-Aug 2020[iv] and June Sept 2020[v].

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Gujarat · Narmada

How SSNNL violated its own Flood Memorandum 2020 during recent SSD induced floods

During the recent Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) induced flood disaster in areas downstream of the dam in Gujarat, the dam operator, SSNNL (Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited) violated its own Flood Memorandum (FM) 2020[i] in multiple ways.

The FM-2020 titled “Disaster Management Plan – 2020” provides detailed information about how the dam operation is to be done during South West Monsoon 2020, that is from June 1, 2020 to Oct 15, 2020, or whenever the monsoon has withdrawn. It is published by SSNNL’s Flood Control Cell and carries the names of six highest functionaries of SSNNL on second page: Chairman, Managing Director, Jt MD, Director (CAD), Director (Canal) and Director (Civil). It says Officer in charge of Flood Control Cell of SSNNL is Executive Engineer (Narmada Project Main Canal Division-2) and the FM-2020 is compiled by Superintending Engineer, Narmada Project Design Circle.

An earlier version of the Flood Memorandum for 2018[ii] is also available, which is useful as it has some additional information.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Gujarat · Gujarati blog · Narmada

સરદાર સરોવરને કારણે ભરૂચ પૂરમાં સપડાયું: નિગમના દાવાની પાછળનું સત્ય

સપ્ટેમ્બર ૨, ૨૦૨૦[i]ના અમારા લેખમાં અમે સત્તાવાર માહિતીનો ઉપયોગ કરીને દેખાડ્યું હતું કે સરદાર સરોવર ડેમ (SSD)ને કારણે ભરૂચમાં જે પૂર આવ્યાં તેને ટાળવાનું શક્ય હતું. ડેમના હેઠવાસમાં ઑગસ્ટ ૨૯, ૨૦૨૦થી ઓચિંતા જ ૧૦.૭૨ લાખ ક્યુસેક પાણીનો જબ્બરદસ્ત જથ્થો છોડવામાં આવ્યો અને ભરૂચને પૂરની આફતે ઘેરી લીધું. સરદાર સરોવર ડૅમને લગતા બધા કાર્યકલાપ માટે જવાબદાર સરદાર સરોવર નર્મદા નિગમ લિમિટેડે (SSNNL) હજી સુધી એનો સ્પષ્ટ, સુસંગત અને તથ્ય આધારિત જવાબ નથી આપ્યો. જો કે, નિગમ/ગુજરાત સરકાર (GoG)ના કેટલાક પ્રવક્તાઓએ દાવો કર્યો છે કે  સરદાર સરોવર ડેમને કારણે ભરૂચ બહુ મોટી હોનારતમાંથી બચી ગયું છે.  આ દાવો પાયા વિનાનો તો છેજ, એ તાજા જખમ પર મીઠું ભભરાવવા જેવો પણ છે.

SSDનું સંચાલન કેમ થયું, કેમ થવું જોઈતું હતું,  ભરૂચે જે જબ્બર સંકટ ભોગવ્યું તેના માટે કોણ જવાબદાર હતા તેની તપાસ માત્ર કોઈ સ્વતંત્ર પેનલ (જેમાં સરકારના કાર્યરત કે નિવૃત્ત અધિકારીઓ ન હોય) દ્વારા થાય તો જ આ સત્યને બહાર લાવી શકાશે.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Gujarat · Narmada

SSD induced Bharuch Flood disaster: Reality behind SSNNL claims that it saved Bharuch

We showed on Sept 2, 2020[i] using official information that Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) created an avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch, downstream of SSD starting on Aug 29, 2020, due to sudden, adhoc release of massive quantities water upto 10.72 lakh cusecs. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), official agency responsible for operation of the SSD is yet to provide any clear, coherent and fact based response. However, some of the spokespersons of SSNNL/ Government of Gujarat (GOG) are claiming that scientific operation of SSD saved Bharuch from bigger disaster. While this claim has no basis, this is like spraying salt on the fresh wounds.

Only an independent (not by serving or retired bureaucrats of the government) investigation would be able to bring out the truth as to how SSD operated, how it should have been operated, who is responsible for the massive disaster that Bharuch experienced, how can we fix accountability and what lessons we can learn for future.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Narmada

Sardar Sarovar Creates avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch

Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) operators are operating the dam callously, almost cruelly, without consideration of the impact of the operation in the downstream area. Till Saturday-Aug 29, 2020 early hours, they were not releasing any water from the spillway gates of the dam, in spite of sufficient actionably information at least since Aug 26 that rainfall is hugely increasing in upstream Narmada basin. They were not even operating powerhouses even though the dam was close to 70% full. Suddenly, by Aug 29 night they started releasing upto ten lakh cusecs – Cubic Feet Per Second (28320 cumecs or Cubic Meters per second) of water[i]. Three days later, in the evening of Tuesday, Sept 1, they closed most of the spillway gates, thus reducing releases from spillway to less than a tenth of the earlier figure. During these 3-4 days (Aug 29-Sept 1), massive quantities were released, upto 30 000 cumecs through spillways, and almost nothing before or after! It created massive flood disaster all along the downstream from Gaudeshwar to Chandod to Bharuch, but the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) authorities or the Gujarat government seem least bothered. It is high time people of Gujarat wake up and hold the SSP operators accountable for this man made disaster.

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Indian Meteorological Department · Monsoon · Rainfall

District wise rainfall in June-Aug 2020 in India

In the ongoing South West Monsoon, India received 44 year old high surplus rainfall of 327 mm in just concluded Aug 2020, 26.6% above normal rainfall of 258.2 mm. This helped the total June-Aug 2020 rainfall to achieve 10% surplus, with actual rainfall 780.3 mm, 69.9 mm higher than normal rainfall of 710.4 mm. In June the country received 18% above normal rainfall and in July it received 9.9% below normal rainfall, the rainfall at the end of June was just 1.1 mm above normal. Thus almost the entire surplus rainfall is thanks to the rainfall during Aug 2020. The rainfall distribution has however, been far from normal that these figures suggest, as we can see from the state wise and district wise figures below.

Continue reading “District wise rainfall in June-Aug 2020 in India”