DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 3 Dec. 2018: Ken Betwa Link; Push to Dilute Forest Clearance Conditions

Ken Betwa river interlinking project is back to drawing board with Union water resources ministry approaching the ministry of environment and forest to relax conditions imposed as part of forest clearance accorded in May 2017 for diversion of forest in the Panna Tiger reserve (PTR).

Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) while according Stage-I clearance to the project had recommended that the project proponent and state govt should consider equivalent non-forest area (6,017 ha) adjoining to PTR from the revenue and private land and add to the PTR as a part of core/corridor (for tiger movement) with other areas or satellite core area. According to water resources ministry, they are unable to find land adjoining to PTR.

Will the forest department buckle under pressure to dilute the forest clearance conditions?  http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2018/nov/25/first-river-linking-project-coming-undone-1902890.html  (25 Nov. 2018)

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 3 Dec. 2018: Ken Betwa Link; Push to Dilute Forest Clearance Conditions”

Dams, Rivers & People

DRP News Bulletin 30 July 2018: Laos Dam DISASTER: Yet Another Wake Up Call?

The various aspects of tragic Dam Disaster in Mekong Basin in Laos are still unfolding. But it is clear from many accounts that it was an avoidable, man-made disaster due to neglect of contractors, decision makers, consultants and supervising agencies. There is a lot we can learn from this if we want to avoid such disasters in India. We still do not have credible Dam Safety Law or institution, CWC is clearly not the right agency considering the conflict of interest with the various other roles of CWC. But for now let us look at the reports of Laos Dam Disaster.

Reminding the world of one of the worst dam disasters, the under construction dam Xepian Xe Nam Noy Hydro power project breached releasing 5 billion cubic metres of water in Southern Laos on July 23.

The gushing water current swept the surrounding leading to death of about 26 people and displacing about 6600 residents. As per report hundreds of people are still missing from neighbouring villages of Yai Thae, Hinlad, Mai, Thasengchan, Tha Hin, and Samong, which bore the brunt of flooding. The deluge has reportedly destroyed thousands of homes.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 30 July 2018: Laos Dam DISASTER: Yet Another Wake Up Call?”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 25 June 2018: Himachal Hydro remain stalled: Big Hydro no longer viable

Private Hydro remain in stalled Himachal The State Govt has sought the revised completion schedules of 21 stalled hydropower projects (above 5 MW capacity) having a capacity of 684 MW. Additional Chief Secretary (Power) Tarun Kapoor on June 19, 2018 held a meeting with independent power producers to take feedback from them on the hurdles being faced in completion of the 10 stalled projects on which work has not begun. In the remaining 11 projects also, the progress is extremely slow. “We have asked the power producers to expedite work on these 21 projects and also cancelled the Joiner-II (8 MW) in Kinnaur,” revealed Kapoor. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 25 June 2018: Himachal Hydro remain stalled: Big Hydro no longer viable”

Dams · Ken River

अनुपम केन नदी पदयात्रा का यादगार अनुभव

सैनड्रप व वेदितम, प्रेस विज्ञप्ति ,पन्ना, वीरवार 19 अपै्रल 2018

1 केन नदी पदयात्रा के बारे में

केन नदी का नाम भारत की स्वच्छ नदियों में शुमार है। 427 किमी लंबी केन नदी, रीठी विकासखण्ड़, कटनी जिला, मध्यप्रदेश से निकलकर चिल्ला घाट, बांदा जिला उत्तरप्रदेश में यमुना नदी में समाहित हो जाती है। केन नदी राष्ट्रीय नदी गंगा के जलागम क्षेत्र का हिस्सा है। इसे करीब से देखने व समझने के लिए नदियों पर अध्ययनरत संस्थाओं साउथ एशिया नेटवर्क आन डैमस्, रिवर्स एंड पीपल (सैनड्रप) दिल्ली और वेदितम इंडिया फाडेशन, कलकता ने मिलकर केन नदी पदयात्रा का आयोजन किया। इससे पहले दोनों सस्ंथाए गंगा और यमुना नदी पर भी लंबी यात्राए कर चुकी हैं।

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The field which is believed to be origin of Ken River in Rithi block, Katni district.  (All pics taken during Ken River Yatra, SANDRP & Veditum)  

कठिन भोगौलिक क्षेत्र के चलते इस पदयात्रा को तीन चरणों (जून 2017, अक्तूबर 2017 एवं अपै्रल 2018) में पूरा किया गया। इस यादगार पदयात्रा को पूरा करने में 33 दिन लगे। लगभग 600 किलो मीटर पैदल सफर के दौरान बांदा, पन्ना जिलों में केन नदी के तटों पर स्थित 100 ये अधिक गावों से गुजरना हुआ और 60 से अधिक गाववालों से केन नदी के अतीत एवं वर्तमान स्थिति, नदी क्षेत्र में जल स्रोतों की स्थिति, भूजल स्तर, खेती-सिंचाई, वन-वनस्पति, पशु-पक्षी, केन-बेतवा नदी जोड़ योजना, नदी बाढ़ प्रकृति, केन नदी जैव विविधता आदि नदीतंत्र संबंधी अनेक विषयों पर बात ग्रामीणों, किसानों, मछुवारों, मल्लाहों, महिलाओं से विस्तृत चर्चा की गई।

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Dams · Ken River

Amazing experience of Yatra along the Majestic Ken River

SANDRP & VEDITUM: Press Release, Panna, Apr 19, 2018

  1. About the Yatra: The Ken River is considered to be one of India’s cleaner rivers. It is part of the Ganga basin and meets the Yamuna at Chilla Ghat in Banda District, Uttar Pradesh. To closely understand the Ken, this walk along the Ken was organised by SANDRP – South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) from Delhi and Veditum India Foundation from Kolkata. In the past, these organisations have also undertaken long journeys along rivers Yamuna and Ganga.

The difficult terrain of the Ken River and the harsh weather required this journey to be undertaken in multiple parts (June 2017, October 2017 and April 2018). It required a total of 33 days to complete this over 600 km journey on foot, where we discussed issues of the river, water, agriculture, the proposed Ken Betwa project and other socio-environmental topics with villagers in over 60 villages.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 5 March 2018 (Will India Face An Unprecedented Water Crisis This Summer?)

Residents of Muruga Tholuvu Harijan Colony in Chennimalai Union have urged the district administration to take steps to provide them water on a regular basis. In a petition, they said that villagers have to go in search of water from other areas and transport it in bicycles regularly. They said that most of the people were labourers and their livelihood is lost when they go in search for water. They said that the situation is worse during summer season, as water is not available at nearby areas and they are unable to purchase water from the market too. http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/provide-drinking-water-villagers/article22935093.ece (The Hindu, 5 March 2018)

With the beginning of summer season, there are several news reports describing the growing water crisis in different parts of country. Here are details of various Indian states suffering from  water scarcity for industrial, irrigational and even for drinking purposes which given the due summer months could develop into grim scenario. These stories also show how the mismanagement of dam storages, exploitation of ground water resources and pollution of rivers have significant role in aggravating the situation.

Gujarat The state is staring at a water crisis this summer, with low water levels in the Narmada dam and almost all other major dams. On March 3, the CM Vijay Rupani has held a meeting with senior minister and bureaucrats to take stock of the water situation in the state and discussed ways to ensure drinking water availability. The government also has decided to allocate Rs 200 crore in special grants for augmentation of local water sources and instructed all collectors to form district committees, have weekly review meetings and start supply of water by tankers wherever required.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 5 March 2018 (Will India Face An Unprecedented Water Crisis This Summer?)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 12 February 2018 (With Innovative Ideas Hyderabad, Chennai & Delhi Are Reviving Its Wetlands)

This week there are exemplary and encouraging wetlands revival stories from three metro cities of Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi.  In the first example from Hyderabad, meticulously chosen plant species such as tulsi, aswagandha, citronella and hibiscus have been used to create an artificial island to clean Neknampur Lake. The treatment islands are composed of four layers of which the bamboo base keeps the entire structure afloat. Based on soil-less hydroponics, these floating treatment wetlands absorb excess nitrates, thereby reducing the chemical content of the lake water. Microorganisms present in the wetland break down organic matter while the root systems filter out pollutants and sediments. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/3500-saplings-floating-islands-help-rejuvenate-hyd-neknampur-lake-75819 (The News Minute, 3 Feb. 2018)

Image by: Madhulika Choudhary

Similarly, Chennai-based Care Earth Trust along with the public works department (PWD) and the civic body has managed to restore three urban lakes. While many of the smaller wetlands have vanished over time, many mid-sized wetlands seem to have shrunk by almost 65 percent. Thanks to their joint effort, invasive hyacinth was removed from the Narayanapuram Lake in Pallikaranai, while sewer lines, which emptied into the Perungalathur Lake, have now been plugged. A detailed restoration proposal has been forwarded to the PWD regarding the Korattur-Madhavaram-Ambattur lakes. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/hyacinth-out-sewer-line-plugged-three-water-bodies-restored/articleshow/62748110.cms (The Times of India, 2 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has taken up interesting new project of creating an artificial lake in Dwarka. The project will supply water in sub-city and improve ground water level too. DJB has approved Rs. 56 crore for the project which will be completed in next seven months.  This would the first model project wherein a lake will be used to augment water supply. The special lake is being created next to the Dwarka water treatment plant (WTP) will have a sand bed to allow maximum percolation of water into the ground. It will have a capacity of 10 million gallons (MGD). The project is expected to add supply of 5-6 million gallons water to Dwarka every day.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 12 February 2018 (With Innovative Ideas Hyderabad, Chennai & Delhi Are Reviving Its Wetlands)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 29 January 2018 (Organic Farming Through Cluster Approach Can Help Farmers, Groundwater And Our Future)

There have been many positive developments on agriculture, groundwater and environment round the week. In the first positive development, data from the first impact study of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) shows that small and marginal farmers, who can’t afford costly agricultural inputs, are turning a new leaf by going organic because of lower costs and higher margins. The study conducted by the National Institute of Agriculture Extension Management, has also revealed that Net Returns of organic farmers were higher for all the three crops studied, namely wheat, paddy and soybean, by 15.8%, 36.7% and 50% respectively.

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This was based on study of 690 organic clusters in 25 states, out of some 6211 clusters comprising of 2.25 lakh farmers in a PKVY (each ha getting Rs 50 000 as aid) scheme launched in 2015, comprising of 52.3% small farmers. The average cluster size was 69 acres, in each there were 54.6 farmers on average. Maharashtra had the highest number of clusters at 1043 and MP had the highest area under clusters. The funding however remained irregular. India’s domestic organic food market is expected to show Compound Annual Growth rate of 25%, says the study. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/small-farmers-go-big-with-organic-farming/story-nlyQQVUnoewHgeJyvaAnJI.html (Hindustan Times, 29 January 2018)

Another positive news report, have disclosed that how a simple groundwater recharge technique is transforming farmlands in Gujarat. The simple pit and pipe system simply and expertly captures standing water during rains, thus freeing arable land from water logging while recharging groundwater to use for irrigation during the lean season. This is essentially a simple groundwater recharge scheme but appears to last long. As per report about 3000 such units have already been installed in Gujarat and several other states.  http://www.thehindu.com/society/this-simple-technology-has-transformed-gujarat-farmlands-into-an-oasis/article22529034.ece (The Hindu, 27 January 2018)

The third positive news have come from Central Government which has prepared a Rs 6000 crore plan to recharge ground water. The scheme is yet to be cleared by the Expenditure Finance Committee and the Cabinet.  

As per report, the new 5-yr long scheme will be funded 50: 50 by the World Bank and centre, to be implemented in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Rajasthan, covering 78 districts, 193 blocks and 8300 gram panchayats.

Gram Panchayats that prepare water security plans and put infrastructure to augment water supply will get incentives. Interestingly, an earlier version of the scheme, called National Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme was rejected by AFC in May 2017.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-readies-rs-6-000-crore-plan-to-recharge-groundwater/story-nziZ6rvp88ZJHFo0DM5kNO.html (Hindustan Times, 28 January 2018)  

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 22 January 2018 (Dams Again Being Used To Achieve Political Objectives) 

As per Counter View report, a well-informed Gujarat government source has told it that a major reason why the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) recently declared there would be “no water” from the multi-purpose irrigation scheme, Sardar Sarovar dam, to Gujarat farmers starting March 15, 2018, is Madhya Pradesh elections, scheduled for this year-end.

The source, refusing to be identified, said, “Already, massive preparations are on in Madhya Pradesh to provide as much Narmada water to the state’s farmers by storing as much water as possible. The idea is to appease the farmers with Narmada waters in the same way as it was done last year before the elections took place in Gujarat.”

This shows how dams in Narmada Valley are being used for achieving political ends, once again. Earlier they were used for Gujarat elections, now they are being used for Madhya Pradesh elections. https://www.counterview.net/2018/01/narmada-waters-in-gujarat-stopped-to.html (Counter View, 20 January 2018)

In another report, anonymous official admits water shortage apparent in Nov 2017 before Gujarat polls was not announced, another indicator of how Narmada dams are used to achieve political ends. https://www.counterview.net/2018/01/narmada-water-for-irrigation-state.html (Counter View, 21 January 2018)

However, this is not happening for the first time. This also happened before the Nov 2017 Gujarat elections and also before 2014 General elections and 2012 Punjab elections, as illustrated below.

Before 2014 general elections too the level of water in Narmada reservoirs was depleted to generate additional power keeping in mind the elections. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/narmada-dams-levels-depleted-to-generate-more-electricity-threatening-water-security-for-gujarat-and-madhya-pradesh/

In case of Bhakra, the way the reservoir level was allowed to deplete in summer of 2012 had consequences in subsequent monsoon.  https://sandrp.in/dams/PR_Why_precarious_water_situation_at_Bhakra_dams_was_avoidable_July_2012.pdf

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 22 January 2018 (Dams Again Being Used To Achieve Political Objectives) “

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 01 January 2018 (NGT Ordered Com on Subansiri: MoEF Again Fails To Understand Conflict of Interest)

As per NGT’s October 16, order, the Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) was asked to set up a “neutral” panel to objectively consider conflicting recommendations that have stalled the 2,000-MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (HEP) on the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border and come up with an “independent opinion” in three months.

The NGT said this was the only way to break the six-year logjam that has stalled a project vital to the “national interest.”

Contrary to this, MoEF on November 16, 2017 has set up a three-member panel with experts -who or their organisations- have all backed NHPC’s positions on the project in the past: Prabhas Pande, I D Gupta and P M Scott.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 01 January 2018 (NGT Ordered Com on Subansiri: MoEF Again Fails To Understand Conflict of Interest)”