Dams

WORLD WATER DAY 2018: INDIA’S POSITIVE WATER STORIES

On occasion of World Water Day 2018, SANDRP put together reports of remarkable water conservation work done by individuals, villager community and organizations across the country.

Good that UN report this WWD says[i]: “The efforts by local communities in India to improve water availability have been lauded in a UN report that highlights the importance of finding nature-based solutions to meet global water challenges…. The report notes that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at disposal. It also cited the example of China’s Sponge City which aims to recycle 70 per cent of rainwater.”

Image result for un wwd 2018 nature based water solution report

But the UN report[ii] does not mention that local options should be the top priority and should be exhausted before going for large projects. Unfortunately, Indian water resources establishment’s priority is Large dams and river linking. The UN report also does not say that local systems are bound to be neglected and destroyed in the shadow of large projects and where the governance is top down, unaccountable, non transparent and non participatory.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 19 February 2018 (How Are We Treating Our Urban Rivers?)

In this comprehensive article Mumbai-based author Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar throws the light on the plight of Uraban Rivers. “Rivers and streams have borne the brunt of the recent urban explosion in India, a nation whose population has nearly doubled in the last 40 years to 1.35 billion. Unplanned growth has led to the use of water bodies as dumping grounds for sewage and industrial effluent. According to CPCB, 63 % of the urban sewage flowing into rivers (some 62 billion liters a day) is untreated.

In addition, riverbanks, wetlands, and floodplains have been claimed over time by infrastructure, slums, offices, and housing developments – all of which has narrowed natural river channels and distorted flow, greatly reducing the ability of India’s rivers to buffer flooding. It also has taken a toll on biodiversity. http://e360.yale.edu/features/dying-waters-india-struggles-to-clean-up-its-polluted-urban-rivers (Yale Environment 360, 15 Feb. 2018) 

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DRP News Bulletin 05 February 2018 (J&K Shows The Way To The Nation: To Assess The Viability Of Big Hydro Pojects)

In a remarkable development, Jammu & Kashmir Govt is reviewing its Hydro policy to assess whether the Hydro Electric Power Projects (HEPs) are still viable. As per sources, this is for the first time that the Govt is discussing the viability of generating hydro power.

An empowered committee led by the Chief Secretary has started this discussion by calling for an “approach paper” that will give an overall picture of the hydropower industry in India. Top sources in the State Power Development Corporation (SPDC), a government-owned company, told Kashmir Reader that the empowered committee wants to lay a roadmap for power generation in the state. “It will reflect the vision of the government. It will give the picture of hydropower generation in India, its rates, market, demand and supply. It will also lay down a roadmap for large power projects,”

The approach paper will be part of a new hydropower policy which will be submitted before the same committee, and then before the cabinet for approval. The SPDC had submitted a hydro policy draft in April last year, which was returned to it in December. Sources said the approach paper has to be submitted in two months’ time.

At present, India has a surplus generation of hydropower, which has plummeted its rate. This has led to losses for SPDC as it invested in projects whose generation costs were high. The blunt example is that of the 450-MW Baglihar II. SPDC has failed to lure any buyer for more than a year as its selling cost of per unit of energy, Rs 4.4, is nearly Rs 2 higher than the market rate. The SPDC has finally managed to sell the power at about Rs 4 per unit to the Uttar Pradesh government but for one year only. The SPDC may have to struggle again next year if the state of UP does not continue the contract.

Another example is that of Nimuno Bezgo, and Chutak hydropower projects, which sell energy at Rs 13 per unit. The SPDC also buys power from Dulhasti project at Rs 7, when the available rates for power in the market is around Rs 2 and Rs 4. https://kashmirreader.com/2018/02/02/cs-led-panel-to-lay-roadmap-for-power-generation-in-jk/ (Kashmir Reader. 2 Feb. 2018)

As per another report, facing a growing demand for electricity and unable to tap its vast potential for generating hydroelectric power, the state government is looking to boost solar power generation. Given the long gestation period of hydel projects, it is unlikely the generation of hydroelectric power will expand significantly in the near future, said. Hence,  the focus on solar power. Indeed, when solar power potential exists, with lower installation and operation costs and impacts, why States continue after destructive, expensive hydro projects? https://scroll.in/article/866058/kashmir-can-generate-a-lot-more-hydel-electricity-than-it-requires-why-is-it-eyeing-solar-power (Scroll.In, 30 Jan. 2018)

There is one more interesting hydro power development in which the state cabinet of Bihar has approved closing 3 and cancelling the development of 2 others in addition to handing over of 8 hydropower projects to neighboring Jharkhand.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 05 February 2018 (J&K Shows The Way To The Nation: To Assess The Viability Of Big Hydro Pojects)”

Dams · Wetlands

Maharashtra Wetlands Review 2017: Destruction Despite Legal Intervention

Throughout 2017, civil society groups have been working hard to protect the wetlands in mangrove and coastal area in Maharashtra. Bombay High Court has also passed several orders in this regard. State Government has taken some steps in the interest of wetlands. However despite all these, the wetlands in Maharashtra stand at the receiving end of encroachments, pollution and waste dumping.

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Dams · Wetlands

East India Wetlands Review 2017: West Bengal Bent On Destroying World’s Largest Natural Sewage Treatment Plant

The East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) are unique yet complex system of natural and human-made wetlands in West Bengal. The wetlands cover 125 sq km comprising of salt marshes, salt meadows, sewage farms and settling ponds. They are used to treat Kolkata’s sewage, and the nutrients contained in the waste water sustain fish farms and agriculture.

Devised by local fishermen and farmers, these wetlands served, in effect, as the largest natural sewage treatment plant (STP) for the city. And using the purification capacity of wetlands, Kolkata by transforming nearly one-third of the city’s sewage into a rich harvest of fish and fresh vegetables daily, has pioneered an environment-friendly system of sewage disposal. Because of this, the EKW were designated a “wetland of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention on August 19, 2002. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Kolkata_Wetlands

However for past many years, these wetlands are under threat due to exponential expansion of real-estate projects. Recently illegal landfills are on the rise and unprecedented land development and urbanization have been creating concerns about the impact on EKW environment. 2017 has seen the situation turning only worse for EKW. 

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Dams

Urban Rivers: Bandi, Rajasthan

Guest blog by Manu Moudgil

This story of Bandi River from Rajasthan is sixth in the series of online stories of urban rivers from across India. Please share your feedback and provide us with suggestions (read more in appendix). If you have any urban river stories or images that you might want to share, please send them to ht.sandrp@gmail.com and asid@veditum.org.

Bandi 1
Solid waste dumped on the banks of the Bandi at Pali. Photo credits: Manu Moudgil

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 11 December 2017 (Shoddy EIA, People’s Opposition & Unviable Pancheshwar Project Highlighted In Brilliant NDTV Documentary)

A brilliant coverage by NDTV INDIA at PRIME TIME (08 Dec 2017) on so many issues related to the proposed controversial Pancheshwar Dam, World’s tallest dam in the Himalayas that has neither credible impact assessment nor proper public hearings. Please watch and share.

Meanwhile, residents and various political organizations at Almora, Pithoragarh and Jhulaghat staged a protest against public hearings held for environmental clearance of Pancheshwar projec, saying that the sessions were unfair and flouted procedure. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/pancheshwar-row-residents-protest-against-public-hearings/articleshow/61946615.cms

The wrong process of dam clearance for the Pancheshwar and Rupaligad Dams have been strongly condemned by Mahakali Lok Sangathan, Uttarakhand Parivartan Party, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, the National Alliance of People’s Movements: Uttarakhand Akta Manch, Delhi Solidarity Group and others. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/1874936619200669

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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 25 September 2017 (Three Incidents of Canals & Dam Breach In Two Days, Who Is Responsible?)

This week there have been three incidents of canals and dam breach in three States raising concern over quality of construction of dams and canals in India. 

All these incidents are a result of negligence exercised by concerned departments. These incidents also proves that the quality of construction of dams and canals in India is not as par standard. 

It is surprising that no government official or private contractor has been held responsible for these avoidable incidents. To avoid recurrence of such incidents, governments of these states bring the involved officials and persons to justice. It also strictly monitor the quality of construction to avoid wastage of public money. The safety of the public is also uncompromising and hence should not rush through the irrigation projects without proper consultation care. 

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 04 September 2017 (Uma Bharti Shifted, But Do Ganga Or India Have Better Hopes From Gadkari?)

In the Cabinet Reshuffle on Sept 3, 2017, Uma Bharti has been removed as Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, for what media is widely calling as her non-performance (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/uma-bharti-ganga-experts-cabinet-reshuffle/1/1039555.html).

Unfortunately, some in Media are rather valiantly trying to show that she did achieve something (see for example: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/nitin-gadkari-60-minister-water-resources-river-development-ganga-rejuvenation-ganga-clean-up-the-biggest-challenge-4827277/), when what they are showing only the claims of expenditure or achievement of the ministry, no real achievement on ground based on independent scrutiny or evidence.

Mr Nitin Gadkari has been given the charge of this ministry in addition to his current charge of Ministry of Surface Transport. The first thing that strikes about Mr Gadkari is that as minister in current government he has been strong advocate for use of rivers for inland navigation and he also achieved through an act in Parliament, listing of 111 main stretches of rivers for this purpose. In the initial few months of this government in power, he actually publicly said that he wants to build a barrage every 100 km along Ganga, which he latter said could be done every 50 km. The impact of one existing such barrage on Ganga for navigation, namely Farakka is well known, and it is so severe that MPs and now even Bihar’s current Chief Minister have been demanding decommissioning of the barrage. Indeed, there are huge social and environmental impacts of use of rivers for navigation, but Mr Gadkari’s ministry has been pushing the case that there is no need for even social and environmental impact assessment of the inland navigation plans or activities. Now it will be interesting to see what does Mr Gadkari says about this as Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. If past is any guide, it does seem that Ganga, Brahmaputra and other rivers on the list of inland navigation could be in for greater deterioration rather improvement.

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