This past week we just completed seven years since the worst ever flood disaster in Himalayas, the Uttarakhand-Himachal Flood disaster that got launched with the massive unseasonal rainfall during June 15-17, 2013, along with the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood from Chorabari glacier upstream from Kedarnath. It was a massive wake up call.
To briefly recall, that unprecedented rainfall occurred when monsoon had not even set in Uttarakhand and neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. The first thing that strikes about this disaster where by official accounts over 6000 people died and by unofficial accounts over 20 000, is that we do not even have a comprehensive report from the government about this disaster. It would have told us a lot of things, including what we can learn from this disaster.
Second big thing that strikes is that big dams and hydropower projects, both due to their construction and operation impacts, both completed and under construction projects played a big role, as brief SANDRP video films in English and Hindi shows. But we continue to play with the Himalayas, the Ganga and lives of the lakhs of people by pushing more dams and such destructive activities (e.g. Char Dham Highways) in the fragile mountains without even honest impact assessments.
Continue reading “DRP NB 22 June 2020: Seven years after Uttarakhand Disaster: Any lessons learnt?”
This remarkable TOI report on March 14, 2020 (there was a Hindustan Times Report on March 9, 2020, we found out later: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/scientist-flags-kedarnath-project-worries/story-1DoLBHLeMOmYLI3OPFOq1M.html) says that rampant redevelopments termed as “unabated unscientific work in the valley” around Kedarnath is likely to create dangerous situation leading to 2013 like catastrophe. We could not find report about such an important development in any other media.
But this detailed report, not contradicted by any of the quoted sources, seems sufficient reason to be alarmed by all concerned.
Experts of the Wildlife Institute of India, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Uttarakhand Space Application Centre (USAC) and even the Principle Science advisor to the Prime Minister K VIjay Raghavan and also the contractors, Woodstone Constructions along with other state and central govt officials were present where officials made some candid presentations. It seems there has been neither any impact assessment studies or clearances for the controversial interventions happening, including 9 km long approach road for Kedarnath on the left bank of Mandakini river, (left band has basically loose glacial sediments and hence is unstable and could get affected by avalanches and landslides) and a massive 50 ft deep and 100 m wide pit just 50 m behind Kedarnath for the Samadhi sthal. MPS Bisht, the Director of USAC in his presentation called the pit an extremely dangerous for future. He asked: “Why are we creating a situation for another disaster like the 2013 tragedy to take place again?” Scientists from the Wadia Institute are quoted saying: “The Road being built to Kedarnath is being made on the most vulnerable of Kedarnath Valley and may any day collapse under the pressure of so many glacier shoots which are directly opening on the road.” Raghavan called these revelations tipping points.
Continue reading “DRP NB 16 March 2020: Invitation to another Kedarnath floods tragedy?”
(Feature image Source Char Dham Road ProjectL Stairway to heaven or highway to hell by Siddharth Agarwal)
The Char Dham All Weather Road Project has been approved by National Green Tribunal (NGT) on September 26, 2018. The controversial project has evoked several environmental concerns right from the inception stage.
Almost more than one and half year into the unmindful implementation of the project, the risks and fears associated with the project are clearly visible throughout the construction route. In last few months, several independent reports have also raised serious concerns over the haphazard manner in which the project is being executed through sensitive hilly terrain. Continue reading “Char Dham Highway Project: An overview”
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)”
क्या है हिमालयी नदियों का मिजाज़ ? (एन.डी.टी.वी.- इंडिया, 20 फरवरी 2014,
रिपोर्टर:- सुशील बहुगुणा, कैमरामैनः- सुदीश कुमार राम, एडिटरः- कुलदीप कुमार, एन.डी.टी.वी.- इंडिया
रिपोर्टरः- जून 2013, उत्तराखण्ड में, नदियों के साथ आई तबाही की ये तस्वीरें। तस्वीरें जो हमें मजबूर करती हैं, ये समझने को, कि आखिर ये नदियाॅ इतनी रौद्र, इतनी विकराल क्यों हो रही हैं ? ये नदियाॅ हमारे घर-आॅगन क्यों उजाड़ रही हैं ? कहीं हम ही, इन नदियों के अहाते में तो नहीं घुस गए ? कहीं हमने नदियों की लहरों में बेहिसाब बेडि़याॅ तो नहीं डाल दी ? क्या हम नदियों का मिजाज़ अब तक समझ भी पाए हैं ?
Continue reading “हिमालयी नदियों से खिलवाड़ और जून 2013 की उत्तराखण्ड़ त्रासदी”