DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 26 Aug. 2019: Canalisation of Rivers will worsen Punjab Flood and Water Situation

Following recent Punjab floods, the Punjab Chief Minister said that the state government would go for canalisation of rivers, as if that is going to help in managing or avoiding flood disaster. This proposal seems to come out from nowhere, but considering that the CM talked about funding by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, either this is already under discussion or these institutes have proposed this to the Chief Minister. The Proposal seems blind to the impacts, costs, risks and wider implications of the canalisation of rivers.

To avoid duplication, the excellent report in MINT below provides detailed reasons why it is a disastrous Idea. The Indian Express report below is in fact a bad example of reporting, since it does not even mention the impacts, costs or risks of the canalisation proposal. And the report that follows these two from California in USA shows how there the work is ongoing to reverse the trend and bring more flood plains in connection with the rivers at a huge cost. Why do we have to repeat the blunders of others, as propagated by the World Bank and ADB and then pay the price in reversing the blunders?

Continue reading “DRP NB 26 Aug. 2019: Canalisation of Rivers will worsen Punjab Flood and Water Situation”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 19 August 2019: Anyone for better Rainwater management?

Southwest Monsoon provides about 75% of our water and yet we have not learnt how to manage that rain water, without creating avoidable flood disasters, without using submergence as weapon to displace people as is being attempted in case of Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat, without allowing water to flow to Pakistan, which is against all the rhetoric of the top most government persons and without the needless push for more big dams or interlilnking rivers or such mega centralised projects and programs? If we go through this week’s DRP News Update, it does not seem like we have. All the contrary elements are there for all to see.

It is certainly possible to manage the rain better so that more of it is available beyond the monsoon in a decentralised manner, as decentralised as the rainfall itself. The elements of it all well known:  harvest rain where it falls, recharge groundwater, create local water systems, desilt existing such systems, protect wetlands, forests, increase soil’s capacity to hold moisture through increasing carbon/ organic conent of the soils (we know how this can be achieved), use the created large reservoirs judiciously, ensure all the dams in a basin are filled up simultaneously and not sequentially, ensure water flow in the river for maximum period as that will also help recharge groundwater, reduce deforestation in the catchments, increase forest area in the catchments where possible, protect local water systems everywhere including Urban areas, protect flood plains and ensure rivers have capacity to carry floods that it is required to carry, have better and more accurate rainfall forecasts (including riverbasin wise/ sub basin wise forecasts), coordinated actions across river basins and states. There is some minor improvements here and there as we see in this bulltin, but no major change.

It’s more optimal rain water management that will help better water security, sustainable water availability, food production, livelihoods and agricultural security, among others. What is the road map to learn this and learn fast? There is no immediate light to the end of the tunnel.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 19 August 2019: Anyone for better Rainwater management?”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 15 July 2019: How Early Flood warnings using WhatsAPP saves lives

The following is an excellent example of how early flood warnings from Bhutan, shared with downstream Assam communities using WhatsApp messages, saves lives. This needs to be highlighted and word spread to implement it in all flood prone areas on Urgent basis, including in trans-boundary areas, as this is an example of the same.

In the last few weeks of June 2019, a series of WhatsApp messages (sent via unofficial channels) were sent from Bhutan to India to warn “cross-border friends” downstream of the Aai, Saralbhanga and Manas rivers about cloud-bursts, swollen rivers and possible flash floods affecting people in the Indian state of Assam.

Continue reading “DRP NB 15 July 2019: How Early Flood warnings using WhatsAPP saves lives”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 1 July 2019: If Govt is serious about water, begin with sustaining groundwater lifeline & watersheds

For several decades now, groundwater has been India’s water lifeline. It is going to remain India’s water lifeline for long time to come. So when Prime Minister Modi called for people’s movement on water conservation during his MANN KI BAAT Radio program on June 30, 2019 (http://pib.nic.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1576353), the first thing the people would expect the government to do is to acknowledge the reality that groundwater is India’s water lifeline and make the sustenance of that water lifeline as the focus of all National Water Policies, programs and plans.

India also urgently needs a National Urban Water Policy that would also define what is a water smart city. The government will need to show it is serious by putting in place rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharging systems at ALL government buildings and lands across the country and show that these are functioning.

The government will also need to bring back the watershed development as the focus of its work on water conservation and reverse the wrong steps this government took five years back (see the detailed report below).

The government also needs to urgently start work on restructuring of water institutions of India, starting with CWC. Unless people see the government’s seriousness through actions, the one listed here are the initial steps, there is little likelihood of credibility of what the government says.

With rainfall in June 2019 during the South West Monsoon already showing a deficit of massive 33%, the fifth highest deficit in last 100 years, its possibly the most opportune time to take these steps on URGENT BASIS.

Continue reading “DRP NB 1 July 2019: If Govt is serious about water, begin with sustaining groundwater lifeline & watersheds”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 24 June 2019: Questions about Kaleshwaram as big as the project

June 21 seemed like a new day with all the national newspapers carrying full front page advertisements about Kaleshwaram project of Telanagana, advertised with more than usual share of superlatives: Lifeline of Telangana, record breaking projects, the world’s highest lift project completed in fasted time and so on. At three (Maharashtra – the upstream state- Andhra Pradesh – the downstream state and Telangana the project state) Chief Ministers and one governor gathered on the banks of Godavari river in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district to inaugurate a project that opposition mocked, saying it is just 20% completed.

But there were many serious unanswered questions and problems around the costliest irrigation project of India from a region and sector that is infamous for corruption. Water availability itself is in doubt, the impact assessments are hardly done even in name sake, public consultations non existent. Even statutory clearances are being questioned. If this is the best or even least cost option for the Telangana is not even debated, for a project that may need over 5000 MW of power for lifting the water to over half a km height. That too in a state where no district has below 500 mm rainfall.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 24 June 2019: Questions about Kaleshwaram as big as the project”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 17 June 2019: If the Rains Fail; Is the Nation Ready?

Indian Express, one of the India’s leading and most respected National Newspapers, has an editorial on the above subject on June 17, 2019. The Edit has some rather dire warnings: “If current conditions persist — the US Climate Prediction Center has forecast an 81 per cent chance of El Nino, the abnormal warming of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean waters known to adversely impact rainfall in India, continuing till July and 66 per cent up to August — kharif crop production will take a hit.”

The monsoon, after its rather reluctant entry into Kerala, so far is already 43% deficit till June 17. Out of 36 meteorological divisions, 18 had large (over 60%) deficiency and 13 more had 20-60% deficiency, so 31 of 36 sub divisions already faced over 20% rainfall deficit. If the El Nino prediction of US Climate Centre comes true, we could be in for meteorological, agricultural and even hydrological drought, considering our water management situation.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 17 June 2019: If the Rains Fail; Is the Nation Ready?”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 22 April 2019: Swami Aatmabodhanand to give up water; Why is BJP so little concerned about Ganga?

Following death of Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand (Prof G D Agarwal) while on fast unto death on Oct 11, 2018 and disappearance of Swami Gopal Das ji from AIIMS-Delhi, Swami Aatmabodhanand ji has been on fast unto death at Matri Sadan, Haridwar since Oct 24, 2019. In a letter to the Prime Minister on April 19, 2019 he has said that if the government does respond by April 25, 2019 to the four demands for which the fast undo death is undertaken, he will leave water from April 27, 2019. The four demands are well known:

  1. Cancel all under construction and proposed dams on Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and their tributaries.
  2. Prohibit all mining and tree cutting in the Ganga flood plains, particularly in Haridwar
  3. Enact Ganga Act for the preservation of River Ganga, the draft of which has been sent to the govt.
  4. Constitute an autonomous Ganga Council

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 22 April 2019: Swami Aatmabodhanand to give up water; Why is BJP so little concerned about Ganga?”

Dams, Rivers & People

DRP News Bulletin 20 August 2018: While Kerala Is Recovering From Unprecedented Flood Disaster, Will It Be Cauvery Or Krishna Basin Next?

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.

https://twitter.com/ETNOWlive/status/1030487469320355840

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?”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 6 August 2018 (2018 is Deficient Monsoon for Lakhs of Farmers)

(Feature Image: IMD Sub-Division wise Weekly Rainfall Map 26 July – 1 Aug. 2018)

Amid news of monsoon being normal, farmers in several parts in the country have started facing irrigation water problems affecting sowing of Kharif crops. Apart from, insufficient rainfall, mismanagement of water resources is turning the situation grim for them.  

As per reports, water levels in Bhakra and Pong dams in Himachal has plunged to lowest in decades. As a result dam authority has issued advisory to lakhs of farmers in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan to use water judiciously. Some official also said that the beneficiary states lacks efficient water management practices which is making the situation tough for them.

The Sri Ram Sagar Project in Telangana has no irrigation water. As per state water minister, a Rs. 1100 crore work was going on to renovate the dam. Meanwhile farmers of about 24 villages have started protest demanding irrigation water form SRSP for their standing crops. Given the tense situation, the State Govt has deployed heavy police forces to control farmers agitation.

At the same time, farmers in North Gujarat farmers have lost 40% of sown crops particularly in Ahmedabad, Morbi and Surendranagar. Non availability of Narmada waters have added to the problems. It is worth to mention that mismanagement of water during past four months in Narmada dam by the authority, has worsened the plight of farmers. Meanwhile, there are reports of furious Surendranagar farmers themselves opening the dam gates going against authority.

Similarly, lack of rainfall in Beed district which is part of Marathwada in Maharashtra has affected the rural population badly. In fact, the rainfall situation in a fourth of India, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, was in stark contrast to the rest of the country. Overall, the southwest monsoon in 2018 was only 2 % below normal by July, 27.

The southwest monsoon in Bihar was almost 40 % below normal till July 27 and the state was set to be formally declared ‘drought-hit’. It is worth to mention that the monsoon scenario seems less than reassuring, based on Skymet latest forecast and reading between the lines of IMD Aug. 3, press release.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 6 August 2018 (2018 is Deficient Monsoon for Lakhs of Farmers)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin,16 July 2018: Dam Safety Is Needed, Can We Depend On CWC Engineers Alone?

India certainly urgently needs credible measures to achieve both structural and operational safety of dams. As the HINDUSTAN TIMES editorial emphasizes, we need much greater transparency, accountability and participation of independent, non government experts at every level of functioning of Dam Safety mechanism. Current Dam Safety Bill draft falls far short of that. This is also underscored by many of the news we bring in this July 16, 208 issue of DRP News Bulletin.

The Tamil  Nadu CAG report, as Indian Express reports, has clearly said that the Chennai floods  of Dec 2015 were majorly due to the wrong decision of dam operators to release 29000 cusecs of water for 21 hours, in violation of all safety norms, but no was punished for this wrong decision. The same has always been the case.

The Bulletin also brings the warning from, no less than Chief Minister of Assam to NEEPCO that if NEEPCO, the operator of the 405 MW Ranganadi Dam releases water from the dam without warning and when downstream areas are facing  floods, they will have to bear the losses people suffer. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin,16 July 2018: Dam Safety Is Needed, Can We Depend On CWC Engineers Alone?”