These are rather ominous signs. As per the latest reservoir storage bulletin of Central Water Commission dated May 14, 2020, the 123 reservoirs monitored by CWC has massive, 64.6 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters) in live storage capacity, which is about 165% of the capacity on same date last year and average of last ten years, even as monsoon is just weeks away. Most dams known to create DAM INDUCED FLOODS in the past, including Bhakra dams (we wrote about it earlier this month: https://sandrp.in/2020/05/07/are-we-ready-to-use-more-water-from-snow-melt-in-indus-basin-this-year/), Narmada dams, Odisha and W Bengal dams (Cyclone AMPHAN is going to bring a lot of water here in next few days, even before the monsoon), Krishna basin dams, Cauvery basin dams, Bansagar and Gandhi Sagar Dams, and Kerala dams among others. All these dams have above average storage situation.
In the ongoing debate on forest clearance for the controversial Etalin Hydropower project in Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh between the Forest Advisory Committee, The Hindustan Times’s consistent reporting and Sanctuary magazine launching a campaign along with others, one (of the many) key question that remains unanswered is: for whom this economically (in addition to socially, environmentally and from climate change perspective) unviable, massively expensive project being pushed in a power surplus country?
Electricity from hydropower projects is no longer economically viable, since cheaper options are available. Some misguided people are claiming virtue in hydropower project claiming it provides peaking power. The fact is India is today not only power surplus, the peak power deficit has been just around 1% or less for long time. This when there is no attempt to either monitor as to how much of the electricity produced from existing hydropower projects provides peaking power, nor is there any attempt to achieve optimisation of operation of existing hydro projects to produce maximum possible hydropower. Nor is there any attempt to even manage the peaks either through pricing or other policy measures. In such a situation there is clearly no justification for more hydro for peaking. Moreover, the storage option is becoming increasingly cost effective, reducing the peaking power needs. So then for whom this project whose cost won’t be less than Rs 30000 crores at most conservative estimates, being pushed? The contractors, the equipment suppliers, the hydro lobby, the consultants, the timber lobby, the dam lobby, or the kickbacks?
This proposition clearly sounds simplistic and seems devoid of science or logic. But the case studies of the epidemics since 1980 and loss of forests, biodiversity and sustainability shows that this is not to be dismissed that easily. In fact the following interview with Dr Aaron Bernstein makes a powerful case to show why this indeed has a lot of science and logic behind it. It also hence makes a case that yesterday (our “normal”), is no longer a good model for better tomorrow.
IMD’s 1st Long Range Forecast for SW Monsoon 2020 on Apr 15, 2020[i] says:
– Rainfall will be normal (100% of LPA: Long Period Average of 88 cm). IMD says Neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation prevails in Pacific Ocean and Neutral Indian Ocean Dipole conditions prevail in Indian Ocean, likely to remain throughout the monsoon as per most models, some indicate weak La Nina conditions in Pacific Ocean in second half of monsoon.
– FORECAST BASED ON MONSOON MISSION COUPLED FORECASTING MODEL There is high probability (70%) of monsoon rainfall being above average to excess (over 104% of normal)
– FORECAST BASED ON OPERATIONAL STATISTICAL ENSEMBLE FORECASTING SYSTEM: 9% probability of Deficient monsoon (Over 10% below normal); 20% probability of below normal (90-96% of normal) rainfall; 41% probability of normal monsoon (96-104% of normal rains); 21% probability of above normal (104-110% of LPA rains) and 9% probability of excess (over 110% of normal) rains.
Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), with annual rainfall in access of 2000 mm, does not do much to harvest the rain. It does not protect its local water bodies. It does not recharge groundwater to the extent it can easily do. It does not reduce its transmission and distribution losses. It does not treat its sewage to recycle and thus reduce freshwater demand. It does no demand side management. And yet it keeps demanding more water, and for that building of more dams and thus pushing more destruction. Without any credible options assessment. It has no water policy or water vision for smart water management.
The proposed Gargain Dam that will lead to destruction of over four lakh trees in 720 ha forest mostly in Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary, is a good example of how Mumbai is fuelling such dam building and destruction. The Rs 3105 Cr project will have many other impacts, including displacement of tribals and destruction of livelihoods for thousands others. As SANDRP report showed six years ago, (https://sandrp.in/2013/12/20/dams-in-tribal-areas-of-western-ghats-for-water-supply-to-mumbai-why-are-they-unjustified/, https://sandrp.in/2013/12/18/multiple-dams-for-mumbai-region/) and as our letter to the then Maharashtra Chief Minister emphasised in 2015 (https://sandrp.in/2015/01/13/water-smart-mumbai-open-letter-to-cm-devendra-fadnavis/), MMR region does not need any of these dams.
It was good to see MID DAY news paper report and EDIT highlighting some of these issues. Will the people of Mumbai Rise up, to stop this destructive dam, being pushed in their names, the way they stood up to save the far fewer Aarey Milk Colony trees?
With the beginning of south west monsoon season 2019, many Himalayan states started witnessing exceptional rainfall events known as Cloud Bursts. The extreme weather event – like previous years- caused large scale destruction in ecologically sensitive and remotely located vulnerable hilly areas. This account compiles the available information about such incidents in Uttarakhand in 2019 SW monsoon.
The Hindustan Times editorial on Nov 27, 2019 has rightly said the following about “a recently-released Rejuvenating-Ganga River – A Citizen-Report, by the India Rivers Week, a consortium of seven NGOs”.
“A key reason for the failure of the river cleaning projects (Ganga and Yamuna action plans), says a recently-released citizen’s report, Rejuvenating Ganga,by the India Rivers Week, a consortium of seven NGOs, was their single-point focus on the main stem of the river, while the Ganga basin actually has eight major rivers (Yamuna, Son, Ramganga, Gomti, Ghaghra, Gandak, Kosi and Damodar). The majority of the funds were spent on pollution-abatement measures on the main stem of the Ganga and on the upper Yamuna basin, which constitute just 20% of the Ganga basin.”
Indian media never seems to report this, but IMD (India Meteorological Department) also provides river basin wise rainfall figures for South West Monsoon, also for other seasons. As in the previous years, here is an overview of the river basin wise rainfall during just concluded SW Monsoon 2019 (June-Sept 2019, though the monsoon started withdrawing only on Oct 9 and has not yet fully withdrawn from across India as I write this on Oct 15 2019), like the way we have been doing for the last three years[i]. Our earlier monsoon 2019 articles provided monsoon over view[ii], state wise rainfall figures[iii] and Marathwada specific situation[iv].
It’s not clear why Indian media does not report river basin wise rainfall figures, since that is arguably, the most appropriate way to look at the rainfall figures, since river basins are the hydrological units and the run off from the rainfall ends up in the rivers, and creates floods many times, as happened during 2019 monsoon. There could be issues of quality of the river basin wise rainfall figures, but that is true for all IMD’s rainfall figures at some level or other. Continue reading “River Wise Rainfall in Monsoon 2019”
When I got a call on a Sunday this October 2019 from a journalist of one of the world’s most reputed media inquiring about the Marathwada rainfall and drought this year, I wondered what is going on? South West Monsoon 2019 has seen the highest rainfall of last 25 years and most of the high rainfall happened in Central and South India. Should drought be a concern in this year too?
It’s true, as we wrote[i] in our first blog about SW Monsoon 2019 that Marathwada was the only Meteorological division of IMD (India Meteorological Department) that had a below normal rainfall among all the divisions of IMD in Peninsular and South India. But that deficit was 12%, which should not be alarming. In the second blog on SW Monsoon 2019 we mentioned[ii] that only Beed and Latur districts were in deficit rainfall category. Continue reading “Marathwada in times of 2019 Surplus SW Monsoon”
The first blog on just concluded South West Monsoon 2019, gave the national picture and broad picture of month wise, state wise, sub division wise and river wise rainfall. This blog provides some details of rainfall in districts of each of the 36 states and Union Territories (UTs) of India. Continue reading “Monsoon 2019: State wise rainfall”