For last 22 years, 14 March is celebrated globally as International Day of Action for Rivers.
As per India Rivers Week Assessment 70 per cent of our rivers are facing existential threats. Over 60 per cent of sewage generated in India is dumped untreated in rivers and water bodies. As per latest official assessment the number of polluted river stretches in country has increased to 352 from 302 two years ago. Similarly the number of critically polluted stretches has gone up to 45 from 34 in two years. Our rivers are facing lack flow, pollution, encroachments, unsustainable mining and destruction of habitat. In mountains, streams are running dry for most of the time, while in urban areas they are over loaded with pollution.
Amid this gloomy scenario, many small initiatives are being taken to reverse the plight of our rivers. This compilation shows few of such recent and inspiring initiatives.
Continue reading “International Day of Actions For Rivers 2019: Positive River Actions From India”
Well-known ecologist Madhav Gadgil, founder of the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, has described the devastating floods in Kerala as a man-made disaster and a reaction to the illegal excavations and stone quarrying done over a decade. https://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/illegal-forest-land-acquisition-major-reason-for-floods-in-kerala-says-ecologist-madhav-gadgil-calls-it-man-made-disaster/story-vMHPKUH623GEnjyQHI09NP.html (19 Aug. 2018)
Further speaking to various regional media, Madhav Gadgil has said that irresponsible environmental policy is to blame for the recent floods and landslides in Kerala. He also called it a “manmade calamity”. He said that the committee report had recommended to protect the resources with the cooperation of local self-govt and people, but those recommendations were rejected.
He also pointed out that quarrying is a major reason for the mudslides and landslides. Other environmentalists also point fingers at the extensive quarrying, mushrooming of high rises as part of tourism and illegal forest land acquisition by private parties as major reasons for the recent calamity. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/kerala-floods-the-ghost-of-past-environment-policy-returns/65436707 (17 Aug. 2018)
Dams should never be filled before the end of the monsoons. Because then one doesn’t have any solution but to release the water in the surrounding areas: Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP says as one of panellist discussing role of dams in aggravating Kerala floods.
Also see, NDTV discussion on Kerala flood crisis, it included SANDRP coordinator:
https://special.ndtv.com/kerala-floods-42/video-detail/kerala-floods-non-stop-special-coverage-of-the-unfolding-crisis-491815 (19 Aug. 2018)
Here is NDTV Hindi discussion on Kerala flood crisis, included SANDRP coordinator:
https://khabar.ndtv.com/video/show/ndtv-special-ndtv-india/ndtv-special-coverage-on-kerala-rain-crisis-491820 (19 Aug. 2018)
Here is admission about sudden, excessive releases and not foreseeing the coming disaster. The Kerala crisis could have been contained had the state “gradually released” waters from at least 30 dams, officials said, adding that the local authorities failed to foresee the imminent danger with high rain prediction. “Such floods have probably recurred after 100 years, exposing the state’s unprofessionally run reservoir management system and unpreparedness on disaster mitigation and disaster resilience, an official pointed out. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/gradual-dam-water-release-could-have-contained-crisis/articleshow/65436339.cms (17 Aug. 2018)
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 20 August 2018: While Kerala Is Recovering From Unprecedented Flood Disaster, Will It Be Cauvery Or Krishna Basin Next?”
Traditionally, our river management strategies are mainly focused on the water flows, including flood management, and these have resulted in various interventions such as dams, barrages, canals and embankments. Most of these interventions have had very little consideration for sediment transfer and even if they did, they were generally defunct within a few years of their operations either due to improper design or inadequate maintenance.
A long-term sediment management strategy has never been a part of any protocol of river management, not just in India, but in several other parts of the world. It is amply clear that sediment management must form an important component of management strategies for the Himalayan rivers. The Union Water Ministry has recently circulated a draft policy on sediment management.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 13 August 2018: Existing Sediment Management Draft Policy Promoting Navigation & Not Rivers’ Health”
After reviewing status of India rivers, SANDRP presents an account of research, studies and important reports on erratic monsoon, climate change, floods which all are severely affecting the rivers, their aquatic life and livelihood of dependent communities.
Rivers and Monsoon
Number of rainy days falling across river basins in India The study has found that number of rainy days is falling across river basins in India and rainfall intensities are seen to be increasing. The analysis determined changes in heavy precipitation and peak flood for seven river basins in India—Krishna, Godavari, Mahanadi, Narmada, Cauvery, Sabarmati and Brahamani and Baitarani. For the study, data pertaining to daily flows for about 30 odd years and precipitation for 61 years (from 1951 to 2012) were analysed.
The analysis also said the rivers which flow from west to east direction (in India) have more rainy days compared to those which flow towards the west. The study also held that anthropogenic activities (construction of storage reservoirs, diversions, urbanization, land-use change, and soil and water conservation measures, among others) have probably affected the generation of peak floods in the rivers of India. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/c7v8oXmsMDHIldjDv9k6lK/Number-of-rainy-days-falling-across-river-basins-in-India-s.html (Live Mint, 27 April 2017)
Continue reading “India Rivers Studies 2017: Rivers Succumbing To Dams, Pollution & Climate Change”
After review of North India and Maharashtra Rivers, SANDRP presents the development surrounding rivers in rest of West Zone: Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states in 2017.
Dams, industrial pollution killing State Rivers In MoEF report, Gujarat ranks 4th among top 5 states with highly polluted rivers. Sabarmati is among Gujarat’s 20 most polluted rivers including Narmada and Mahi. Over Rs 200 cr has been spent to curb pollution in Sabarmati & Mindola rivers. This fund is the highest amount ever spent outside the Ganga river conservation project on which Uttar Pradesh has spent Rs 917.24 crore, West Bengal Rs 411.26 crore and Bihar Rs 216.46 crore. As per activist, Rohit Prajapati, industrial effluents are being released in big rivers like Sabarmati, Mahi and Narmada without being treated and big dams have been built on big rivers due to which the rivers are drying up and vanishing as a result, the condition of rivers in Gujarat is going from bad to worse. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/polluted-rivers-guj-ranks-4th/articleshow/62685910.cms (The Times of India, 29 Jan. 2017)
Continue reading “West India Rivers Review 2017: Governments, Industries Destroy Rivers”
As per NGT’s October 16, order, the Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) was asked to set up a “neutral” panel to objectively consider conflicting recommendations that have stalled the 2,000-MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (HEP) on the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border and come up with an “independent opinion” in three months.
The NGT said this was the only way to break the six-year logjam that has stalled a project vital to the “national interest.”
Contrary to this, MoEF on November 16, 2017 has set up a three-member panel with experts -who or their organisations- have all backed NHPC’s positions on the project in the past: Prabhas Pande, I D Gupta and P M Scott.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 01 January 2018 (NGT Ordered Com on Subansiri: MoEF Again Fails To Understand Conflict of Interest)”
Location: North West India; Area:- 342,239 sq km; Geography:-Desert plains and mountainous (Aravalli range); Population:- 68.54 million People; Rivers:- 6 Major River basins; Districts:-33 Districts; Climate:- Drier Western and Tropical Eastern part
About Rajasthan Rivers
Rivers in Rajasthan are mostly seasonal, but this fact explains little because a river is not just the surface flow, evident to a naked eye. All the rivers and their floodplains in this desert state are vast grazing grounds supporting millions of livestock. These unseen rivers also recharge the groundwater making well irrigation possible.
Modern-day development activities, however, are putting an enormous pressure on them. If deforestation has reduced the water flow, rampant sand mining has affected the water retention and seepage into subsurface channels. Aravallis also has large number of marble mines and processing units. While digging operations extensively damage the environment, discharge of a large amount of slurry by processing units also blocks water channels. Industrial and domestic wastewater has further affected the quality and biodiversity of rivers.
Continue reading “Rajasthan Rivers Profile”
During a global seminar held on Feb. 25-26, 2017 in Patna experts from across the country have advocated an “urgent review” and comprehensive study of the Farakka dam to revive the Ganga river. The experts were discussing various concerns facing River Ganga and the possible solutions for them. The seminar titled as “Incessant Ganga” was organised by Bihar’s Water Resources Department, almost week after, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has openly termed the barrage as genesis of floods in the State. Speaking in the program, the CM again expressed deep concerns behind receding water flow in the Ganga and increasing silt deposit due to Farakka dam.
Speaking during the seminar, environment expert Himanshu Thakkar the coordinator of SANDRP advocated urgent need for review of Farakka barrage claiming that it has failed to fulfill any of the purpose – irrigation, hydro electric power, water supply – of the barrage for which it was built. As per, Himanshu Thakkar the dam was built to maintain the navigability of Kolkata port.
Thakkar also suggested that the gates of Farakka be opened during monsoon to mitigate the intensity of floods in Bihar. As per Thakkar there was an urgent need for a comprehensive study of the Farakka barrage to find out its achievements or whether the barrage fulfilled its objectives. The committee constituted for study must include the Centre, Bihar, West Bengal and all states having Ganga, he said adding that a study should be made on the social and livelihood impact of the barrage, how it affected people’s lives, whether its existence was justified and cost-benefit assessment among other issues.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 27 Feb 2017 (Urgent Need To Review Impacts Of Farakka Dam: Experts)”
Uma threatens stir over delay in Ken-Betwa interlinking Water Minister Uma Bharti on June 07 threatened an agitation if there were further delays to the wildlife clearances necessary for the storied Ken-Betwa river-interlinking project. This is TOO Much! Union Minister threatening to go on Fast, demanding environment clearance to Ken Betwa link! Calling it a national crime to stop clearance to Ken Betwa link. Saying if the project is not cleared in next meeting, she will go on fast! Claiming that the link will help Marathwada!! It wont help even Bundelkhand, but the Union Minister seems to be setting completely wrong, precedent, which also ultra legal. On the other hand The Hindu has been consistently underplaying the impacts of the Ken Betwa project and over playing the official lines. Very strange to see this from THE HINDU. Before this in its June 02 meeting the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of environment ministry has deferred environment clearance for the ambitious Rs.10,000cr Ken-Betwa river linking project in its last meeting on June 2, and has sought more clarity on its wildlife & hydrological impact. The meeting could not come to a conclusion as the members of the EAC had several doubts regarding the project’s hydrological feasibility, its impact on hydrology and wildlife too and found that many serious issues related to the project are yet to resolved. In the last week of May 2016, SANDRP in a letter to EAC has written about Ken-Betwa project & why EAC should not clear this. Please help us spread the word and urgently write to EAC if you agree. Himanshu Thakkar coordinator SANDRP points out that the Ken-Betwa link, in essence, Ken-Betwa link will facilitate transfer of water from the Ken River Basin (Bundelkhand) to Upper Betwa Basin (outside Bundelkhand), so it is actually exporting water out of Bundelkhand.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 13 June 2016(Uma Bharati Threatens Stir Over Delay In Ken-Betwa Clearances)”
On May 4-5, 2016, Lok Sabha Speaker Smt Sumitra Mahajan took the lead in organising a workshop for Members of Parliament on Drought, Agrarian Crisis and ILR. As part of the newly constituted Speaker’s Research Initiative’s (SRI for short) work, Smt Mahajan inaugurated the workshop at 4 pm on May 4, 2016, where a panel of eight speakers were invited (4 on each day, SANDRP coordinator was one of the invited speakers on 1st day) to share their views, followed by questions from Members of Parliament. The idea was that on these important issues, Parliament Members are better equipped to raise the relevant issues when debating and raising questions in Parliament. It was heartening to see that at least 90 MPs (88 from Lok Sabha and 2 on Rajya Sabha) were present for 2.5 hours on first day, and they wanted to ask so many questions that there was not sufficient time to allow all of them to ask, nor sufficient time for speakers to make full presentations or answer all the questions. Similarly on second day too Speakers showed lot of interest on these issues. While inaugurating the workshop, Smt Mahajan mentioned how in Solapur, Maharashtra, because of the work of the collector and his team of officials, the impact of drought is lower than that in other districts. This was certainly heartening since it was SANDRP Associate Coordinator Parineeta Dandekar who first wrote on this issue, following her visit to Solapur and interview with the district collector. The workshop highlighted the need for many such workshops, possibly more focussed, but the impact of the workshop was already visible in the (as yet unfinished) debate under section 193 that started in Lok Sabha on May 5, 2016, hopefully to be continued in current week.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 09 May 2016 (Welcome initiative by Lok Sabha Speaker)”