DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 10 Dec. 2018: Yamuna Pollution; Will NGT Panel Make Any Difference? 

Feature image: A Hindu woman worships the sun god in the polluted waters of River Yamuna during Chhath Puja in New Delhi, on Nov. 14. (Image Source: Quartz India.) 

In its latest report, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) appointed monitoring committee overseeing Yamuna River cleaning progress in Delhi says that the river is “fighting to stay alive” and it would not be possible to rejuvenate the Yamuna unless minimum environmental flow is provided as it is “virtually reduced to a trickle and remains dry in some stretches for almost nine months of the year”.

In the action plan, it is mentioned that “Although the Yamuna river flows only for 54 kilometres from Palla to Badarpur through Delhi, the 22 km stretch from Wazirabad to Okhla, which is less than 2 per cent of the river length of 1370 km from Yamunotri to Allahabad, accounts for about 76 per cent of the pollution level in the river”.

The committee has suggested that a team of scientists be formed from CPCB, DPCC and other institutions like IIT Delhi or NEERI to carry out inspections and submit reports to it for remedial action. The team can look into the risks and benefits of an alternative way of routing the same quantity of water which can help in reducing the pollution level, it said.

The monitoring committee also raised objection to the capacity utilisation of common effluent treatment plant (CETP) which is as low as 25 per cent. There are 28 industrial clusters in Delhi and 17 of these are connected to 13 CETPs. The remaining 11 clusters are not connected to any CETP. Another area of concern is the direct discharge of completely unregulated waste from industries and residences into the river.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 10 Dec. 2018: Yamuna Pollution; Will NGT Panel Make Any Difference? “

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 4 June 2018: WED 2018: Environment Protection and Development is NECESSARY and POSSIBLE, provided there is will

How is development possible along with environment protection?  There are two kinds of answers possible to this question. The standard kind of reply would try to provide a list of options that are available to a given development need. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 4 June 2018: WED 2018: Environment Protection and Development is NECESSARY and POSSIBLE, provided there is will”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 26 February 2018 (Banda People Also Protest Against Ken Betwa Link)

When Central Government is trying to push Ken Betwa link project terming it as beneficial for both Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, local people of Banda are now also protesting against it, in addition to the people of Panna that are already opposing it. On Feb. 13, 2018, the Ken Bachao Samiti comprising of farmers, citizens and social workers in Banda sat on a Dharna before district magistrate office. The group have also sent a memorandum to the President of India, demanding immediate cancelling of the project. Raising serious concerns over environmental and social of the linking project, they asked demanded proper impact assessment and public consultation and said the project wont be allowed to go forward. Indeed, as they have said, there has been no downstream impact assessment and people of Banda are likely to loose their river.  https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/banda/story-demonstrate-against-ken-betwa-alliance-1800951.html (Hindustan Hindi,13 Feb. 2018) 

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 26 February 2018 (Banda People Also Protest Against Ken Betwa Link)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 25 December 2017 (CAG Report Shows Ganga River Has No Hope Under NMCG)

Apart from mentioning Govt failure in checking Ganga pollution, the Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) performance audit report on Ganga rejuvenation tabled in Parliament on December 19, 2017 specifically mentions that National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) “could not finalize the long-term action plans even after more than six-and-a-half years of signing of agreement with the consortium of Indian Institutes of Technology”. The fact that NMCG does not have a “river basin management plan even after a lapse of more than 8 years of National Ganga River Basin Authority notification”, mentioned in the report also has great significance. 

It is surprising that NMCG is working without a river basin management plan or a long-term action plan. The CAG performance audit is also lacking. It rightly mentions that infrastructure to treat pollution has not been created but does no assessment whether the creation of infrastructure alone would revive the river.

Further, CAG audit does not look into the issues if lessons from past failures have been learnt, corrections done, independent scrutiny institutionalised, participatory governance achieved, and if this business as usual approach is going to achieve any better results even if all the money were spent, all the DPRs were sanctioned, all the meetings happened, all the manpower available and all the STPs constructed?

Hence it critical that CAG performance audit should have tried to address these issues. Can the state of Ganga improve without improving the state of tributaries? CAG does not even look at this issue.

The CAG report shows that this programme provides no real hope for better future of Ganga and Modi and his government will have a lot to answer when they go to polls in less than 1.5 years. It’s a serious indictment for the govt in general and Modi in particular since he has said right from the beginning that Ganga is their priority and all that they have tried is audited here. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/KW6MIOrOvMvZvEGeozwifJ/CAG-slams-Centre-for-failing-to-utilize-funds-for-Ganga-reju.html;                                 http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ganga-pollution-hc-orders-uttarakhand-govt-to-seal-establishments-polluting-rivers-4991923/; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/building-of-ghats-crematoria-on-ganga-misses-nov-deadline/articleshow/62234114.cms https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/environment/pm-modi-fails-to-clean-up-his-mother-ganga

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 25 December 2017 (CAG Report Shows Ganga River Has No Hope Under NMCG)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 06 November 2017 (NGT Asks For Fresh Appraisal Of Lower Subansiri Hydro Project)

In a remarkable development, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 24 has suspended the clearances given to the 1750-megawatt (MW) Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project  (HEP) planned on the Lohit river in Arunachal Pradesh.

In its detailed order, released on October 27, the NGT ruled that the Environment Minister as Chairperson of the National Board for Wildlife (NWBL), a statutory body constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, could not “just brush aside” the views of the majority of NBWL standing committee members.

Suspending the clearances given by the Centre and the state govt, the NGT order added that “the decision taken by the Standing Committee is not in accordance with established principles of law and hence the Standing Committee shall reconsider the issue and pass appropriate orders within a period of six months from the date of the judgment”.

Environmental clearance for the project was given by the Union environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for river valley and hydroelectric projects back in 2009. An in-principle forest clearance for the Lower project was given in February 2012 and agreed upon in 2013.

However, the in-principle clearance of the project was opposed by a majority of the Standing Committee of the NBWL but subsequently cleared by the then-environment minister of state (independent charge), Jayanthi Natarajan, who was also the chairperson of the Standing Committee.

Natarajan is currently under the CBI’s scanner for alleged anomalies in clearance given for diversion of land in Saranda forest in Singhbhum district, Jharkhand to mining company Electrosteel during the previous UPA regime.

The NGT said that it is “of the view that either the Chairperson (Natarajan) should have given a proper reason for rejecting the objection of the majority of the non-official members or the decision ought to have been arrived at based on the opinion of the majority of the members. Even though the Standing Committee is a recommendatory body, the same being a statutory committee, is bound by the laudable principles of justice and fair play”.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 06 November 2017 (NGT Asks For Fresh Appraisal Of Lower Subansiri Hydro Project)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 02 October 2017 (New Rules Disastrous For India’s Wetlands)

The wetlands are the hotspots of biodiversity, act as carbon sinks, act as buffers against floods and are essential for groundwater recharge. With groundwater reservoirs in the country heavily exploited, this last function has assumed greater importance. http://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/centre-notifies-wetland-rules-environmentalists-unhappy/story-3MoGp9D8eSzHI90zfOXWSO.html

Wetlands can be defined as lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water.

But they are threatened by reclamation and degradation due to activities like drainage and landfill, pollution, hydrological alteration (water withdrawal and changes in inflow and outflow), over-exploitation resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in ecosystem services provided by them.

DRP 12

There are at least 115 wetlands that are officially identified by the central government and of those 26 are identified as wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention which is an international intergovernmental treaty for conservation of wetlands. India is a party to the treaty. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/y6Tr3tkrr3q28AmGKaBFII/Environment-ministry-notifies-new-wetland-rules.html

The Centre on September 26 notified a new set of rules under the head Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 replacing the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/new-wetland-conservation-rules-notified/article19779100.ece

It is worth to mention that under the 2010 rules, not a single water body was notified as a wetland over and above the ones already recognised as such by the Centre and the Ramsar Convention, defeating its purpose in a way. http://www.zeebiz.com/agencies/centre-notifies-new-rules-for-preservation-of-wetlands-26312

Similarly, despite country’s space agency ISRO had in 2011 mapped over two lakhs of wetlands across the country, the centre has, so far, notified only 115 wetlands and 63 lakes in 24 states and 2 UTs for conservation and management.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 02 October 2017 (New Rules Disastrous For India’s Wetlands)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 18 September 2017 (Why Madhaya Pradesh Depleted Its Meagre Water Storage To Fill up SSP Dam For Sept 17?)

As per the Daily Status Reports of Narmada Control Authority[iv], inflow into SSP Dam suddenly jumped from 495 cumecs (Cubic Meters per second) on Sept 12, to 2518 cumecs on Sept 13, 2383 cumecs on Sept 14 and 2210 cumecs on Sept 15, 2384 cumecs on Sept 16, in anticipation of the birthday, so that when Narendrabhai visits the dam site to formally declare the project complete, the reservoir is seen to have substantial water. Expectedly, SSP water level rose from 126.19 m to 128.5 m by 8 am on Sept 15. How was this made possible?

Madhya Pradesh depletes its water storage so that SSP looks full on Sept 17? The increased inflow into SSP was made possible only by increased outflow from upstream Madhya Pradesh dams like Indira Sagar Project (ISP) on Narmada. ISP, incidentally is India’s largest reservoir in terms of storage capacity.

So the ISP storage level which was already very low (about 33%) on Sept 11 with monsoon almost coming to close, was depleted by further 450 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) from Sept 11 to Sept 16 (date for which latest information is available), while SSP water level rose by 750 MCM during the same period. All this, so that water level at SSP could look more respectable on Sept 17. Its not known why Madhya Pradesh is ready to lose water from its low storage levels (in fact, the water level at Omkareshwar Project on Narmada is below Minimum Draw Down level throughout this period).

Will Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and MP Govt be held accountable for this by the media, judiciary and the people?

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 18 September 2017 (Why Madhaya Pradesh Depleted Its Meagre Water Storage To Fill up SSP Dam For Sept 17?)”

Interlinking of RIvers · Maharashtra · Western Ghats

Interbasin Diversion Dams in Western Ghats: Unknown impacts and uncertain Benefits

ManjarpadaBoxDiscussions on Interlinking of Rivers are gaining momentum as new government takes charge at the centre. It is predicted that the new government will be supportive of ecologically and socially questionable plan of interlinking rivers. In this backdrop, it will be interesting to study the fate of a little known scheme of diverting west flowing water to the Godavari Basin in Maharashtra. While the entire ‘grand’ plan includes many such schemes, we are focusing on one of the biggest interbasin diversion project under this scheme. Manjarpada Phase I project which is on a shared basin between Maharashtra and Gujarat, located in the Dindori Taluka of Nashik District. We also look at the status of about 28 interbasin diversion schemes proposed and under construction in this region, their justifications, benefits as well as impacts.

  1. Manjarpada Phase I under Upper Godavari Irrigation Project

Manjarpada Phase I forms part of the Upper Godavari Irrigation Project under the Water Resources Department, Maharashtra. The original proposal of the Upper Godavari Irrigation Project included Dams like Waghad, Karanjvan, Palkhed and Ozarkhed, which received administrative sanction in 1966. Work was started in 1968. From here on a number of components like Punegaon Dam, Tisgaon Dam, several canals kept getting added to the scheme. However, it remained essentially an intra basin project, there was no inter linking rivers component here.

In 2008 a radically different component was added to Upper Godavari Project. This was the inclusion of 12 diversion weirs on Paar, Taar, Damanganga Basin Rivers that in normal course would flow into Gujarat. These weirs envisaged near the ridge line, transferring waters of these into dams built in the Godavari Basin, via deep canals across the Western Ghats, which will transfer water from west flowing rivers to the east flowing Godavari. According to the White Paper on Irrigation Projects brought out by the Water Resources Department of Maharashtra in December 2012, these diversion weirs and Manjarpada Phase I scheme added an irrigation potential of about 30,000 hectares in the Upper Godavari Projects. The total irrigation potential of the entire Upper Godavari projects is estimated as 74,000 hectares (including 30,000 hectares from Diversion projects), of which potential of 69000 hectares is claimed to be created. This is unbelievable as the Diversion weirs, with a total command of 30,000 hectares, are just about half complete. The White Paper states that about 55% work on Manjarpada project and about 60% work on 11 diversion weirs has been completed.

An interbasin transfer scheme that claims a cumulative irrigation potential of 30,000 hectares will have significant impact on ecosystems, communities and downstream hydrology. But no such studies have been conducted for these projects, there has been no public consultation process and it is not even known if there is any interstate agreement for this transfer. The most striking example is Manjarpada Phase I project which envisages transferring about 500 million cubic feet (Mcft) from the Paar basin into Punegaon dam in the Godavari basin by way of a dam and two significantly big tunnels. Officials of Water Resource Department have stated that the project, submerging 95 hectares of land, also needs Forest Clearance for 65 ha forest land, which has not been granted yet, although work is in an advanced stage! This is clearly illegal as per the Forest Conservation Act (1980).

SANDRP’s visit to Manjarapada Phase I Project When we visited the site of Manjarpada project, we were first struck by the name. The project has nothing to do with Manjarpada village, but is entirely based in Devsale Village of Dindori Taluk. Work on the main dam has been stopped for many months now. The villagers say that this is due to local protests, while the officials claim this is due to paucity of funds.

No impact assessment of the project has taken place. When we visited Devsale village, we were mobbed by villagers who wanted to show us the damages caused by the project for which they have received no compensations. The incessant blasting of the tunnel in the hardrock has resulted in cracks to many homes. More than 250 villagers claim that they have lost water from their shallow wells/ bore wells. More than 50 well owners have submitted a memorandum to the Collector and Zilla Parishad office about drying up of their wells.


Above: Manjarpada Dam wall under construction. Photo: Amit Tillu for SANDRP

The villagers indicate 2 tunnels under construction for the same project, one of which is complete in 1 km length and the other complete in nearly 8 km length, with a huge air vent 20 m wide and over 150 m deep. The depth of the tunnel underground is about 150-300 feet.


Above: Under construction tunnel at Manjarpada Phase I Photo: Amit Tillu for SANDRP

The laborers employed by the subcontractor do not understand Marathi and cannot respond to questions asked by the villagers. Work on the main dam wall has stopped since the last 2 years. Villagers say that blasting and tunneling has severely affected groundwater in the region, which has fallen drastically after tunneling. Blasting has resulted in not only cracks in over 100 homes, it has led to collapse of more than 10 built open wells, turning them into puddles. This was witnessed by us. Displaced families have not been resettled[1] yet.

Corruption involved in the unfeasible Manjarpada Project: Whistle-blower of the Water Resources Department Vijay Pandhare has been highlighting issues about Manjarpada project since a long time, when he was in service as Chief Engineer at Maharashtra Engineering Training Academy. He had pointed serious irregularities about this project in his letters to the Secretary, Maharashtra Water Resource Department, state Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan as well as separately to Dr. Chitale who was supposed to be investigating the Maharashtra dam scam.

Pandhare talked exclusively with SANDRP on Manjarapada Project, he said: “This project is planned to transfer about 500 million cubic feet of water and is costing about Rs 500 crores and these estimates will increase. It should have costed a fraction of this. The entire process of Manjarapada Phase 1 was driven by the politician and contractor lobby and there was never any space for rational questioning. In addition to Manjarpada Stage I, the department is now also pushing for Manjarpada phase II downstream of this project, which will divert water right into the Tapi Basin. Now the catchment area of Manjarpada Phase I and Phase II actually overlap and the projects are simply unfeasible as there is no water availability as stated in the water availability certificates. This needs to be thoroughly investigated and I had written about this to many authorities, in vain.”

Shri. Pandhare is justified in raising these issues. If we look at the internal note of MID, with SANDRP, it states that in 2008 Manjarapada project was approved Rs. 62.54 Crores. Till December 2013, Rs 122.66 Crores were spent on this project! This has resulted in 30% work on spillway, 80% on connecting tunnel, 100% on open canal, 72% on diversion tunnel.

The last line on the project drops a bomb. It states: “An estimate for Third administrative approval for Upper Godavari Project, which includes the cost of this project at Rs 430.74 crores for Manjarpada project, has been presented before the government for approval.” So within 5 years, cost of the project shot up nearly 6 folds!

M3Above: One of the several open wells collapsed due to balsting for Manjarpada project Photo: Amit Tillu for SANDRP

Pandhare writes in his letter to the Secretary and Chief Minister, the letter that initially shook the water management circles in Maharashtra[2]. “The system that makes cost estimates in WRD is has been nearly killed. So the field officer has been made in-charge of working on estimates. In reality the contractor makes these estimates and they are sanctioned without checking. Otherwise such unfeasible and costly work would not be undertaken… In case of Manjrapada project, the cost estimates, especially tunnel excavation costs have been bloated beyond measure. The benefits are hazy. When Phase I is questionable, unfeasible and hugely costly Manjrpada II is being pushed by political backing. This project has a water availability certificate, when in fact the catchment does not have enough water.” He has specifically requested Dr. Chitale to investigate this project.[3]

When we met the Executive Engineer, MI Projects (Local Sector), for Nashik division, he agreed that there is controversy surrounding Manjarpada Projects, especially related to feasibility and overlap of catchment area, but refused to comment further. He softly added that political interference with water resource department should reduce. In the meantime, Chagan Bhujbal, former MP from Nashik region (he lost in 2014 Parliamentary elections by huge margin of close to 2 lakh votes) has been stating that Manjrapada II will happen at any cost.[4]

One of the official stated that Manjarpada project is the ‘Boss’ of these schemes as it will route water from many schemes in the Paar Basin into the Godavari Basin. Though he later added that the main reason for pushing Manjarpada was that the Punegaon Dam, downstream Manjarpada has not been filling up in monsoon and Manjarpada will aid it. This again underlines Pandhare’s claim that water availability certificates being given for projects in Maharashtra (like Punegaon) are not scientific and driven by other motives!


Above: Villagers at Devsale talking about issues of Manjarpada Project I Photo: Amit Tillu for SANDRP

Incidentally, according to white paper, it’s interesting to see the list of water users downstream of these projects. They include Ranwad sugar factory, K Distillery, Ashokumar Hatcheries, Everest Industries, Seagram Distillery, Shivam chemical, Kadwa Sugar industry, Dinodri MIDC (which is a Wine MIDC in Maharashtra) & have a reservation on 136 MCFt. While Manmad taluka suffered acute water stress in drought in 2012-13, water supply to distilleries and wine industries continued.

This whole episode involving the project, its decision making process, lack of impact assessment and credible techno-economic appraisal and monitoring raises many questions. In the first place, the Manjarpada project highlights the need for thorough participatory processes that should be undertaken before taking up such projects, especially when they involve interbasin transfers.

Maharashtra and Gujarat have signed an MoU to transfer waters from Damanganga River into Vaitarna basin through Bhugad, Khargihill and Pinjal Dams and tunnel systems. The tunnel envisaged between Pinjal and Khargihill stretches over 64 kilometers, more than 5 times the tunnel in Manjarada. It is clear that the impacts of not only the dams, but the tunnel systems will be huge and need investigation.

More than 19 Diversion Projects diverting “unutilized water going waste to the Arabian Sea”

When we met officials at the Minor Irrigation Division (MID), they showed us the map of intricate links planned in the entire Damangagang, Paar, Naar Basin as well as parts of Vaitarna and Ulhas basin to transfer water “flowing unutilized to the Arabian Sea” into the Godavari Basin. It is difficult to imagine that a project of this massive scale, which can transfer nearly 400 MCM from West Flowing basins into the Godavari basin is going on without any project specific impact assessment, cumulative impact assessment, cost benefit studies, environmental appraisal, environment management plan, public consultations, environmental monitoring and based on questionable water availability studies.

The Maharashtra Irrigation Dept GR dated Sept 2005 approved the proposal of diversion schemes near the ridge line to divert water which was “going waste, unutilised into the Arabian Sea” to Godavari Basin in the East. 19 such schemes have received approval from the Hydrology Project (Jal Vgyan Prakalpa) Nashik. Of these 19 schemes, 13 have been included in the second administrative approval of the Upper Godavari Project, but there are in all nearly 28 diversion schemes under consideration. Table in Annexure 1 provides details of the various schemes under this project.


Above: Diversion Weirs at Dindori, with deep canal on the upstream transferring water Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP

SANDRP team also visited some of these diversion weirs.

In case of Amboli Diversion Weir, its capacity is supposed to be close to 1 MCM (million cubic meters). It was bone dry in May when SANDRP team visited it. Sagar Marathe, who resides next to the weir states that the weir, now complete, hardly holds any water in it. The reason seems obvious. Just 200-300 mts upstream the dam wall, a high canal embankment runs, which means that the dam has nearly no catchment area! There is no study on the amount of water that is indeed diverted into Kashyapi River here, a tributary of Godavari.


Above: Dam wall and the dry Amoboli Diversion Weir reservoir can be seen on the left, on the right is a tall embankment of an older canal which runs parallel to the dam wall and is much longer. Effectively, the dam has nearly no catchment. Photo: Parineeta Dandekar

In case of Waghera diversion weir, which is supposed to be under construction, the tribal villagers told SANDRP that the mud dam has been existing since the past 20-25 years and the only work going on is digging the canals! But the MID note does not state that the dam is already existing, possibly indicating an irregularity.

These examples are only indicative. They highlight the need for transparent and participatory studies surrounding these projects.


Above: Unlined canal in Dindori, transferring water onto Waghad Dam. Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP

Environment laws violated, but MoEF in dark and inactive! Manjarpada Diversion and other diversion dam projects are coming up in violation of the EIA Notification 2006, but MoEF seems to know nothing about it. Manjarpada or other diversion schemes cannot claim exclusion from the environmental appraisal process since it involves huge irrigation, in addition to inter basin transfer, domestic & industrial water supply.

The entire diversion scheme raises big questions about significant impacts, needs of the downstream population, local opposition and finally questionable and unassessed benefits. We hope MoEF will take cognizance of the legal violations and take stringent steps against Maharashtra government. Unfortunately Maharashtra is mired with too many of such examples, in addition to the dam scam.

– Parineeta Dandekar ( parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com), Amit Tillu ( amittillu@gmail.com) with inputs from Himanshu Thakkar ( ht.sandrp@gmail.com)


Annexure 1

Table 1 Overview of Interbasin diversion projects planned to divert water into the Godavari Basin.

Name Basin Basin in which water is transferred Quantity Remark
Manjarpada Diversion Project Nashik Par Godavari: Punegaon and Karanjvan Dams 17.16 MCM
Golshi Mahaji Flow Diversion Project, Dindori Damanganga origin 10 nallahs to be diverted Waghad Dam, Godavari 0.47 MCMto be transferred Current cost around 32 Crores( 12.97 spent, 21.31 requested)
Nanashi Flow Diversion Project, DindoriNashik Nar-Par. Dam at the origin of Par, from here to Hattipada DW, from there to Karanjvan Dam Karanjvan Dam, Godavari 1 MCM into Godavari 0.55 MCM for local use Initial estimate was 3.04 crores in 2008. Actually 3.81 crores spent, Now application for 17.1 crores made for 3rd administrative approval
4. Golshi 1, Flow Diversion Project, Dindori Dindori Damanganga Basin Waghad Dam 3.11 MCM 1.29 crores in 2008.3.15 crores asked in 3rd administrative approval
5. Hatti pada, Flow Diversion Project, Dindori DindoriNashik Paar Basin Karanjvan dam, Godavari Basin 0.93 mcm to Karanjvan Dam. 0.67 mcm for local use 3.11 crores in 2008, 7.64 crores spent till Dec 2013, now requested: 14.24 crores in 3rd approval
6. Dhondalpada Flow Diversion Project NA Godavari basin 1.73 MCM Consists of5 saddle dams
7. Chaphyacha pada Na Godavari 0.30 MCM
Ranpada Diversion project NA Godavari 0.35 MCM
Payarpada Flow Diversion Canal, Dindori Nashik NA Godavari 2.039 MCM Local opposition to Land aquisition. Hence work not started.
Ambaad Diversion canal. Dindori Nashik 0.40 MCM Local opposition to land acquisition. Work not started
Pimpraj F diversion Project NA Godavari 1.26 MCM
Ambegan F Diversion Prjct NA Godavari 1.40 MCM
Jharlipada F Diversion Prct Waghad Dam, Godavari Basin 1.05 MCM
Chimanpada Flow Diversion Project Dindori Godavari 0.83 MCM for diversion; 0.45 MCM for local use, No technical Sanction yet
Waghera Flow Diversion Scheme, TrimbakNashik Damanganga Basin Godavari ( no dam, u/s of Ganga pur Dam) 1.19 MCM Sanctioned cost in 2007 was 15 crores. 80% work complete, Link cut work under progress
Pegal wadi Flow Diversion Project, Trimbak, Nashik Vaitarna Basin Godavari 0.695 MCM In 2004, 17.92 crores approved
Amboli (Bombiltekpada) Godavari 0.92 MCM 17.92 Cr approved in 2004 (an error?)
Total 34.83 MCM
Schemes which do not have administrative approval, but are included in the Upper Godavari Project by the Godavari Irrigation Development Corp.
Velunje-Amboli Dvrsn Prjct Damanganga Godavari 1.447 MCM 16.07 crores estimated
Kalmuste Diversion project Damanganga Godavari 23.141 MCM by a diversion weir 333 Crores estimated price
3. Kapwadi Diversion Project Ulhas Godavari 7.04 MCM Estimated cost 60.8 Cr
Sub Total 31.62 MCM
Projects with survey permissions and administrative approval
Lift dvrsn prjct 3, Surgana Paar Godavari 94.37 MCM
Lift dvrsn prjct 4, Surgana Paar Godavari 89.12 MCM
Sub Total 183.49 MCM
Water Diversion from Upper Vaitarna Basin to Godavari Basin
Note: GOM approved the scheme to fit doors to the saddle dam of Vaitarna project and transfer water into Godavari. However, Thane Circle of KIDC had acquired 4689 hectares of Upper Vaitarna Project. Eventually, Dam height was reduced and 623 hectares was additional land left which should have been returned to the PAPs. But this was not done. There is a strong opposition of local people to any survey without this return. No has been conducted as yet. 28.50 MCM.
6 Diversion projects for Ahmednagar under very primary planning
Hivra Walvani Diversion Weir Pravara 18.46 MCM 13 hectares forest land
Samrand Diversion weir Pravara 17.98 MCM 6 hectares forest land bot fall in PA. Hydrology Project communicated that the project is not supported by the GOM. CE, KIDC has written in 2012 that there is no water to transfer to the east.
Sub Total 36.44 MCM
Transfer water from Shai and Kalu Basins into Akole between Harishchandragad and Ajoba Mountain into Mula basin
Tolarkhind Tunnel Project 18.08 MCM CE, KIDC has written in 2012 that no surplus water available in Shai & Kalu Basins for dvrsion.
Khirehwarer Tunnel Prject 40.01 MCM
Sadada Tunnel Project 11.13 MCM
Pathar Ghat dvrsn canal pr 7.67 MCM
Diverion from Kalu and Shai Basin 76.89 MCM

Source: Minor Irrigation Department, Nashik Division



[1] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/land-lost-to-irrigation-project-tribal-families-reel-in-poverty/

[2] https://sandrp.in/irrigation/Letter_Maharashtra_Irrigation_Scam_Oct12.pdf

[3] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/vijay-pandhares-letter-to-dr-chitale-please-fix-responsibility-of-the-irregularities/

[4] http://www.deshdoot.com/news.php/news/4313229

Madhya Pradesh

Hype vs Reality of Narmada Kshipra Pipeline Project

Bahut kathin hai dagar chunav ki; kyo bhar lau pipe-link se ye mataki….

Hype vs Reality of Narmada Kshipra Pipeline Project

The Narmada Kshipra Simhastha Project is to be dedicated to the people of Malwa by former deputy Prime Minister L K Advani on Feb 25, 2014. Significantly, it is happening in absence of BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The full page advertisement (going on daily during Feb 23-25, 2014 at huge public expense) and the hype that is being created by the Madhya Pradesh’s BJP government around pumping of around 5000 litres of Narmada water per second from a small Sisalia tank through 47 km long pipeline involving four stage pumping and releasing in the bed of dry KshipraRiver needs to be put in correct perspective. Madhya Pradesh government calls it river linking that too “the first-ever river linking project of the country” (see Madhya Pradesh Govt press release dated: Jan 9, 2013[1]).  Such claims are not only a fraudulent presentation, possibly aimed to create a hype in view of the upcoming elections, but are factually wrong in many ways. In MP itself, Indore and Bhopal [both outside Narmada basin] have been getting water from Narmada river through such pipeline schemes for many years, Indore is now getting water through third phase of the scheme). More importantly, the project will not be able to deliver most of the benefits it claims. 

Dewas district collector Umakant Umarao explaining in Jal Khet film how RWH is the best option for the region and showed this on ground
Dewas district collector Umakant Umarao explaining in Jal Khet film how RWH is the best option for the region and showed this on ground

The hype The Madhya Pradesh government claims this is “Making possible what seemed impossible”. It is not clear since when has pumping 5 cumecs water through piple-line become impossible in India. It is claimed to be “Realizing the dream of former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Bajpeyi” (wrong spellings in the official MP govt advertisements). It is not clear when did Mr Vajpayee say that it was his dream to achieve pumping of some water through 47 km long pipeline. The project achievement, the advertisement claims: “First phase of restoring Malwa’s legendary prosperity successful”. This claim actually takes the cake and much more! What happened to Malwa’s legendary prosperity? Did they need piped water from another basin for that? How can such a limited quantity of water from another basin at huge cost achieve that? 

Some over-enthusiastic MP government officials are claiming (see press statement dated Nov 27, 2012) that this project will also link Narmada with Ganga and some water from the project will go right upto Allahabad! It is just god’s grace that they did not claim it will also help Bangladesh in achieving greater food production!

A farmer of Malwa describing the problem and solution, the result can be seen in the background, from film Jal Khet
A farmer of Malwa describing the problem and solution, the result can be seen in the background, from film Jal Khet

The reality But first let us understand what this project is about. The water that will be pumped from Sisalia tank will reach there from NarmadaRiver: through one of the right bank canals of Omkareshwar dam. So the path of the water will be: Narmada river – Omkareshwar dam – common water carrier canal – right bank canal – Rising main of Omkareshwar project Phase IV – Sisalia tank – pump station (PS)-1 – Rising Main (RS pipe) 1 – BP Tank 1 – Gravity Main (GM) 1 – PS-2 – RM-2 – PS 3 – RM 3 – BPT 2 – GM 2 – PS 4 – RM 4 – tank – (Ujjaini village) Kshipra river. Secondly, how much of the water that is released from the dam will reach the consumers? There are no assessment of this in public domain, but considering the long path of the water even after reaching the Kshipra riverbed and considering huge evaporation losses and seepages into the dry riverbed and aquifers below, only a small fraction, less than a quarter of the water pumped, would reach the consumers.

The project claims it will provide drinking water to Dewas and Ujjain cities, over 250 villages along Kshipra river, supply water to Ujjain, Dewas and Pithampur and also recharge groundwater! Showing true intentions, agreements have already been signed with Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor for providing 90 MLD (or 25% of the 362 MLD water to be pumped in this scheme) water from this project to Pitampur industrial area in Malwa at the rate of Rs 26 per KL. That will leave very little water for other claimed objectives. Who will get how much water is a matter of assessments which are not in public domain. Moreover, in absence of credible  wastewater treatment system and governance in place, more water for industry would mean more untreated industrial effluents into the Kshipra river, worsening the problems for the river and the people. (See: http://www.patrika.com/news/narmada-shipra-river-link-to-pithampur-sanctioned-by-dmic/958548http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/MP-IND-special-purpose-vehicle-proposed-for-rs-200-cr-pithampur-water-supply-plan-4236793-NOR.html


An engineer explains that ponds in Malwa would certainly fill up even at 400 mm rainfall, from film Jal Khet
An engineer explains that ponds in Malwa would certainly fill up even at 400 mm rainfall, from film Jal Khet

Unaffordable cost of water Thirdly, this pipeline project involves pumping through 47 km long pipes that would raise the elevation of water by about 348 m from Sisliya (228 m) to Ujjaini (576 m) through pipelines of 1.8 m diameter. This involves use of at least 27.5 MW of power. The power bill of this project would be Rs 118.92 crores per year as per the MP Govt Public Relations Officer (PRO), power cost would be Rs 9 per KL for the pumping of 362 MLD (Million Liters per day). Even if 35% (very optimistic assessment) of the water were to reach the consumers, just the power cost of the raw water reaching the consumer would come to Rs 24 per KL (kiloliter). If we add the cost of maintenance, replacement cost, staff costs for the Narmada Kshipra Pipe Project (NKPP) and also the cost of treatment, distribution of the water to the consumers, the cost of the water that would reach consumer will multiply, would surely go much above Rs 50 per KL. Compare this to the water rate of Rs 5-10 per KL that average urban consumer in India is paying. Which of the rural or even urban consumer is going pay this kind of water bill? Here it may be added that the Rs 432 crores of the project cost is not even included in this water rate. More importantly, do we need this project for drinking water needs of Malwa? Such high head pumping schemes have proved unviable elsewhere too.

It maybe added here that Kshipra river is today in highly polluted state[2]. About 4 lakh liters of polluted water is entering the Kshipra river from Dewas city and industries, affecting villages of Ujjain, Dewas and Indore, and also Hirli dam and even groundwater. The Madhya Pradesh government has completely failed to ensure that such illegal dumping of polluted water is stopped. Now pouring this pipeline water to the polluted Kshipra water would only mean more quantity of polluted water. 

4500 ponds constructed in just four years, storing 100 MCM water, more water than what Narmada Kshipra pipeline will bring here at much higher expenses: Jal Khet film
4500 ponds constructed in just four years, storing 100 MCM water, more water than what Narmada Kshipra pipeline will bring here at much higher expenses: Jal Khet film

Inappropriate use of Omkareshwar Project’s water and funds The administrative approval for the project dated Oct 19, 2012 says the cost of the project will be taken from Omkareshwar Project Unit II (Canals). Now this raises many questions. Firstly, it is clearly wrong to include the cost of the NKPP in the Omkareshwar canal cost. Secondly, this component was not included in the Omkareshwar project as approved by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Central Water Commission or the Planning Commission. Adding this component to the Omkareshwar project would change the scope of the project and which should entail a fresh clearance from all these authorities. Thirdly, the Omkareshwar project canals get significant funding from Union of India under AIBP (Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme) and using that project money for such completely new component is clearly wrong, also from audit and accounts point of view. We are sure CAG will take due note of this and disallow such practices. 

Similarly, diversion of water from Omkareshwar canal has angered the farmers and they have filed an Interlocutory Application in Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, asking for stay on inauguration of the project. While the HC has not provided a stay, it has remarked that command area of the project cannot be changed. As Rehmat of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra said, these projects are also creating new conflicts, which also happened in case of Veda dam in NarmadaValley. More conflicts are likely to come up in future.

A farmer in film Jal Khet explains how Malwa villages could prosper without the Narmada waters
A farmer in film Jal Khet explains how Malwa villages could prosper without the Narmada waters

No Impact Assessments, no participatory process There has been no social or environmental impact assessment for this project at any stage. The project also escaped need for environmental clearance using the loophole (which has been questioned for years now) that drinking water projects do not need environmental clearances and hence environmental or social impact assessment or management plans or monitoring or public consultations. In fact, since the project was funded from Omkareshwar project fund, use of that loophole itself is fraudulent. From the statements of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and former deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and others, they seemed quite sure about the project being beneficial. Why then they did not have any participatory processes and impact assessments? Incidentally, Mr Advani laid the foundation stone for the project on Nov 29, 2012, strangely at Ujjaini, where no significant work of the project was to happen, leave aside starting of the work where normally, foundation is laid! Did the project have inappropriate foundation? 

A screenshot from film Jal Khet showing a rainwater harvesting structure in a village in Dewas district in Malwa
A screenshot from film Jal Khet showing a rainwater harvesting structure in a village in Dewas district in Malwa

That the project had adverse impacts was apparent even from Govt of MP Press statement of March 21, 2013, which said: “Families who are growing water melons for generations at Kshipra river’s originating point[3] Sisliya reservoir urged Shri Agrawal to give them assistance since they will no more be able to grow water melons due to all-weather filling of Sisliya reservoir due to the project and their livelihood will be affected. Shri Agrawal assured to consider these families’ demands sympathetically.” It is not clear, what decision, Mr K L Agrawal, then chairman of NVDA, took about these and other affected people, it has not been brought out in public domain. There was also forest land affected in construction of the pipeline. There will also be issue of huge energy footprint and hence carbon foot-print of this water. These are only a few of the environmental issues related to the project. 

The farm pond movement also led to reduction in electricity consumption, reducing carbon footprint, but the govt scheme is actually going to increase it manifold!
The farm pond movement also led to reduction in electricity consumption, reducing carbon footprint, but the govt scheme is actually going to increase it manifold!

The project was in fact approval through a hurried process without any involvement of either the people of the NarmadaValley or the people of the Malwa. The introductory note[4] of Govt of Madhya Pradesh’s Narmada Valley Development Authority claims: “The Malwa region of M.P. had been reeling under acute water scarcity since about 3 decades. The ground water was plummeting at fast pace and experts had opined that if such conditions prevails, the whole Malwa region shall transform into a desert. The life line of M.P.-Narmada was the only option to feed the water to Malwa…” Similarly, MP Information Department Press Release[5] says: “…the Chief Minister concluded that the crisis can be solved only through Narmada water.” Amazing claims, since there are areas within Malwa that are even today have no water shortage, as can be seen from the screenshots from the film on water harvesting work done in Malwa. However, more importantly, is there anything to substantiate this standard “only option” theory? Why did the government not have a participatory process for arriving at such a conclusion? Also, if Malwa was once prosperous, without needing water from outside, why has it come to this stage now? Why not tackle those reasons? Why did Kshipra, a perennial, sada nira River became, seasonal, polluted River?

As Planning Commission member Dr Mihir Shah recently wrote, the 12th Five Year Plan proposes paradigm shift in Urban sector sector: “Each city must consider, as the first source of supply, its local waterbodies. Therefore, cities must only get funds for water projects, when they have accounted for the water supply from local waterbodies and have protected these waterbodies and their catchments. This precondition will force protection and build the infrastructure, which will supply locally and then take back sewage also locally.” The NKPP clearly violates this norm.

The chief minister, through full page advts is now projecting himself as Bhagirath, but the Malwa communities already got it from UN in 2012, from film Jal Khet
The chief minister, through full page advts is now projecting himself as Bhagirath, but the Malwa communities already got it from UN in 2012, from film Jal Khet

Story of proven alternative: Jal Khet However, this conclusion of There Is No Alternative (TINA for short) is typical phrase used by authorities to shut down any questions or debate. There are many Options for the Malwa region, but to see something that has been proven by the people of Malwa on ground, see a 25 minute film Jal Khet by Anjali Nayar[6], done for the International Water Management Institute, the film synopsis says: “In this awe-inspiring tale of innovation and courage, watch how the district administration joined forces with the villagers to bring water to this arid land. Soon the entire district would come under the throes of change in a massive effort to resolve its own problems, and many other fascinating and unforeseen changes would be discovered to have accrued. The perseverance of these people is a testimony to the enormous human capacity for resourcefulness and resilience.” Note that the district administration and the state were involved in this effort! Even the United Nations recognised this Bhagirath Krishak Abhiyan as best practice of water conservation for food security, as recently as in 2012. There should be no doubt that there are better alternatives than the Narmada Kshipra pipeline project.

The Bhagirath Krishak Abhiyan work was simple: create farm ponds in Dewas district villages in Malwa that will harvest rainwater and provide source for groundwater recharge, irrigation and drinking water. The scheme started on a slow note, but has picked up over the years and has led to construction of over 4500 ponds, recharging groundwater, increasing water and food security and making the people so confident that they say they will never have water shortage. The biodiversity in the area has increased, with lots of birds and some wild animals too coming to the area. While there could be some questions about the claims of the district collector and other government officials, there is little doubt that if such works are implemented with honesty and participation, they can bring significant change.

People started celebrating birthdays of talab and death ceremony of the tubewells in Malwa, from film Jal khet, but MP govt seems hell bent on imposing the pumps on the people
People started celebrating birthdays of talab and death ceremony of the tubewells in Malwa, from film Jal khet, but MP govt seems hell bent on imposing the pumps on the people

Is this Interlinking of Rivers? Is this part of ILR? The whole hype bringing in Vajpayee dreams etc seems designed to imply that the NKPP is part of the controversial and discredited interlinking of Rivers proposal. This is clearly far fetched and a major stretch on the credulity of all concerned, considering the scale, manner and cost of the ILR compared to a water pipeline project like NKPP. While it does involve transfer of some water from one basin to another for drinking water and the NKPP, like the ILR itself is of seriously doubtful justification, optimality, desirability and sustainability, there can be no comparison of NKPP with the ILR. Moreover, in ILR scheme of things, Kshipra, being part of Ganga basin, is surplus basin, and Narmada, claimed to be a deficit basin, is supposed to get water from Par and Tapi rivers! It seems we are seeing a case of Ulti Ganga here too, compared to ILR! 

Watch the confidence of the people: No drinking water shortage EVER! (Jal Khet film)
Watch the confidence of the people: No drinking water shortage EVER! (Jal Khet film)

But than MP is not new to working at cross purposes with the ILR project. It already did that in case of Mohanpura[7] and Kundalia major irrigation projects in Chambal basin in recent months. Both projects are part of PKC (Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal, one of the five prioritized links of ILR) link of the ILR project, but MP is going ahead with the projects independently, jeopardizing the ILR link. And the Central Water Commission is in fact supporting MP in these machinations. 

Model of sangam tirth from NVDA website
Model of sangam tirth from NVDA website

Next phase of Narmada Malwa link? The Madhya Pradesh government is saying that the NKPP is only phase 1 of a larger programme. In next phases, they hope to transfer water from NarmadaRiver to other tributaries of ChambalRiver like the Kali Sindh, Parbati and Gambhir. Those phases will involve much bigger transfer, much bigger impacts, costs and implications. However, the MP govt on Sept 27, 2013, gave in principle approval to full Narmada Malwa link at the cost of Rs 2375 crores and asked the NVDA to prepare Detailed Project Reports for these phases. The next phase is making impossible sounding claims of achieving irrigation to 17 lakh ha, drinking water to 3000 villages and 75 towns, in addition to water for industries! 

The whole farm pond movement has led to change in heart of some govt officials, from Jal Khet filmThe whole farm pond movement has led to change in heart of some govt officials, from Jal Khet film
The whole farm pond movement has led to change in heart of some govt officials, from Jal Khet filmThe whole farm pond movement has led to change in heart of some govt officials, from Jal Khet film

No information is available as to how much water is to be transferred (earlier estimates said 3 Million Acre Feet of water is to be transferred, requiring over 550 MW of power), in what manner and with what impacts. MP govt is clearly most undemocratic, non transparent and non participatory. There is an interesting clause in the administrative in principle approval, however. It says the project operation and maintenance expenses must be recovered from the farmers! Rehmat of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra based in Badwani suspects this is because the project is part of the application to the World Bank. Going by the first phase costs, the O&M (Operation and Maintenance) costs of next phase are going to be only higher! But farmers have no clue what they are going to be asked to pay! In no state of India are the farmers charged to completely recover the O and M expenses. In this project, it would clearly be impossible, considering the much larger O&M costs of this project compared to standard gravity fed canals. Is this than a ploy to create a water source of urban and industrial areas? 

Photo from NVDA, showing part of the pipeline
Photo from NVDA, showing part of the pipeline

However, besides requiring the statutory impact assessments and clearances, the next phase will also have serious inter state implications for the downstream Gujarat state (even NKPP will transfer 158 MCM of water). Gujarat sees NarmadaRiver and the Sardar Sarovar Project on it as its lifeline. The large no of projects that MP is building and planning to build on Narmada[8] is going to have serious implications for Gujarat. With hydrological basis of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal, on basis of which Sardar Sarovar has been designed, already in doubt, Gujarat would be wary of this. Now with these Madhya Pradesh plans of transferring water outside the basin, Gujarat would be very worried! And so would Modi! But as recent Madhya Pradesh decisions have shown[9], Madhya Pradesh is least bothered about downstream states. 

Another screenshot from Jal Khet showing why the govt official changed his views
Another screenshot from Jal Khet showing why the govt official changed his views

In fact, while the discredited ILR is included in Modi’s Lok Sabha elections agenda, he seems to be missing from the scene at this major ILR moment (Modi also completely forgot about it during his trip to North East, it seems, but that is another story!). May be, Gujarat’s worries at Madhya Pradesh schemes are somewhere a reason for this? It is clear, to paraphrase the words of famous qawalli of yester-years (with apologies to poet Sahir Ludhianwi), Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki… Full page advertisements at public expenses, making unfounded claims about river linking are much easier!

Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP [We would like to acknowledge the useful comments provided by Shripad Dharmadhikary and Rehmat from Manthan Adhyayan Kendra and Parineeta Dandekar from SANDRP on an earlier draft of this note.]

Annexure 1:

Time line of Kshipra Narmada Pipeline Project

April 8, 2007     A global call floated by NVDA to invite EoI for selecting a consultant for DPR

Aug 8 2012        The approval of project was given by the CM, to be completed in one year

Aug 27, 2012    Tenders invited

Oct 12 2012      Official sanction for Rs. 432 Crore was accorded

Oct 19 2012      Approval letter issued

Nov 5, 2012      Contracts signed (not clear who are the contractors)

Nov 29 2012      Mr. L K Advani laid the foundation stone

Feb 25 2014      Project to be dedicated to the nation after time over run of 25%


[2] 4 lakh litre chemical water being released to Kshipra 4 lakh litre chemical water being released to Kshipra 

[3] Govt of MP press statement here was clearly wrong, Sisliya is not where Kshripa river originates.