Rivers · Sand Mining

East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: How can we ensure implementation of court orders?

Higher Courts and NGT has been giving numerous orders and judgments, but the state is happily getting away with non implementation in most cases. How can we ensure that court orders get implemented? Why is the judiciary not concerned about non implementation of its orders? This was one of the central message of the East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue on Nov 21, 2020 (4-6.30 pm) as part of the India Rivers Week 2020[i] theme “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?” Additional Director R B Lal from Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in his presentation agreed that the sustainable sand mining guidelines have not been implemented. One would have liked to hear how we can achieve their implementation and that MoEF also values participation of people at the grass roots in sand mining governance. He did not mention the local people even once, while praising MoEF’s emphasis on technology in the sand mining guidelines.

The Dialogue was very ably moderated by Dr Malavika Chauhan of Tata Trusts and Dr Debashish Sen of People’s Science Institute (Dehra Dun). This was Fourth in a series of Zonal River Sand Mining dialogues being held after North Zone[ii], South Zone[iii] and West Zone[iv] Dialogues held earlier.

Continue reading “East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: How can we ensure implementation of court orders?”
Sand Mining

193 dead in River Sand Mining incidents in India in 2019-20

The illegal, excessive sand mining activities have been impacting river ecosystem and riparian communities adversely. Scores of villagers, young kids, reporters, activists and government officials are being attacked and killed every year for objecting to or due to unlawful and unsustainable excavation of River sand. The brazen mining is also leading to fatal road accidents which is again resulting in grievous injuries or even deaths.

The situation has only deteriorated despite several protests by locals and numbers of court orders reprimanding the central and the state governments. Political parties, politicians are directly or indirectly linked to many of these activities. 

SANDRP in its 2018 overview, could compile 28 human fatalities due to illegal sand mining operations. However that was only based on the news reports that came to our notice, the actual death toll would be much higher. SANDRP this time has prepared a more detailed account of violent incidents that have taken place since January 2019 so far causing human death and injuries. The state and zone wise brief summary of these incidents is given here and a bit more detailed report is uploaded separately.

Continue reading “193 dead in River Sand Mining incidents in India in 2019-20”
Dam Induced Flood Disaster

Dam Floods & Embankment Breaches in South West Monsoon 2020

Improper operations of dams, disasters related to dams and hydro projects and breaching of embankments have been aggravating flood disasters during every monsoon. There have been several such incidents during South West Monsoon 2020, taking heavy toll on people and property which could have been avoided or impacts reduced in many cases with proper dam operations and proper maintenance of the embankments. This compilation attempts to put together all such instances when avoidable flood disasters were created by improper operation of dams and breaching of embankments in the south west monsoon 2020.

Continue reading “Dam Floods & Embankment Breaches in South West Monsoon 2020”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 26 Oct 2020: Why Floods is not big issue in Bihar elections?

Or may be it is a major issue at a number of places. Like in Kishanganj district along Mahananda river in North East Bihar, as the report here mentions. We hope it is. Since floods and how they are managed affect so fundamentally and in so many different ways so many people, it should be an election issue. Particularly when the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is fighting to be voted in after being the Chief Minister of the state for 15 years since Nov 2005 (except brief ten month period in 2014-15).

15 years is long enough time to have been able to make at least some dent in flood management. On ground, the situation seems to have only gone worse. It was in this 15 year period that the unprecedented Kosi floods happened after the Kusaha breach in 2008. But the word unprecedented has been used for several more floods in these 15 years, including by Nitish Kumar. He also raised a number of pertinent issues in this period, including impact of Farakka barrage on Bihar floods, need for its decommissioning, Bihar’s right to get Ganga water from the headwaters in Uttarakhand [currently it gets none except during monsoon]. He is currently silent on these issues, but voters and media do not have to be silent.  

Continue reading “DRP NB 26 Oct 2020: Why Floods is not big issue in Bihar elections?”
Bihar · Ganga · Rivers

River Stories, Walking Across India – II

Guest Blog by Siddharth Agarwal

In the years 2018 and 2019, I spent months walking East across India with Paul Salopek on the Out of Eden Walk[i]. His trail started in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia in East Africa, roughly following the path of the early human migration out of Africa and across the globe.

The India trail of the Out of Eden Walk started from the India-Pakistan border at Wagah, Punjab. It then moved East through the Indus Basin, followed by the basins of West flowing rivers like Luni, then a large chunk through the southern Gangetic plains in Central India before crossing over to the Brahmaputra basin close to Siliguri in West Bengal. The crossover to Myanmar happened at Moreh in Manipur, also incidentally very close to the basin boundary of Brahmaputra and Irrawady. He entered India in March 2018, and crossed over to Myanmar in July 2019.

The Out of Eden Walk trail in India was ~4000kms, of which I was present for about 1500kms in different sections. These stretches were spread across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and bit of Assam & Manipur.

Continue reading “River Stories, Walking Across India – II”
Dams · Sand Mining

Uttarakhand Riverbed Mining 2020: Rivers, People, Revenue Robbed

The hilly state of Uttarakhand also known as land of rivers has seen increase in riverbed quarrying operations over past decade. With establishment of stone crushers industry, scale and intensity of riverbed minerals (RBM) excavation has further increased in past few years. So has become the impact on villagers and rivers.

However, the government lacks monitoring, transparency, accountability in checking the unscientific, unauthorized RBM as is evident from a review of Uttarakhand Mining and Geology Department (M&G) website and media reports. In fact the state government has neither conducted replenishment study nor formed District Mineral Foundation (DMF), suggesting that it is hand in gloves in organized loot of RBMs. 

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Monsoon · Rainfall · River Basin

River Wise Rainfall in Monsoon 2019

Indian media never seems to report this, but IMD (India Meteorological Department) also provides river basin wise rainfall figures for South West Monsoon, also for other seasons. As in the previous years, here is an overview of the river basin wise rainfall during just concluded SW Monsoon 2019 (June-Sept 2019, though the monsoon started withdrawing only on Oct 9 and has not yet fully withdrawn from across India as I write this on Oct 15 2019), like the way we have been doing for the last three years[i]. Our earlier monsoon 2019 articles provided monsoon over view[ii], state wise rainfall figures[iii] and Marathwada specific situation[iv].

It’s not clear why Indian media does not report river basin wise rainfall figures, since that is arguably, the most appropriate way to look at the rainfall figures, since river basins are the hydrological units and the run off from the rainfall ends up in the rivers, and creates floods many times, as happened during 2019 monsoon. There could be issues of quality of the river basin wise rainfall figures, but that is true for all IMD’s rainfall figures at some level or other. Continue reading “River Wise Rainfall in Monsoon 2019”

CWC - Central Water Commission

Overview of CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2019: North India

Flood forecasting is an important activity during monsoon, considering the huge and increasing flood prone area, flood frequency, intensity and flood damages. Accurate and timely flood forecasting can hugely help reduce the damages due to floods. Central Water Commission (CWC) is the only agency responsible for flood forecasting in India. To understand the CWC’s flood forecasting better, we have compiled the list of the various flood, inflow forecasting sites and flood monitoring sites in India.

In this compilation, we have given state wise list of CWC’s flood forecasting, flood monitoring and inflow forecasting sites in North India, comprising of states of Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh. It includes available details like name of river, sub basin, Warning level (WL), Danger Level (DL), High Flood Level (HFL), Full Reservoir Level (FRL), Maximum Water Level (MWL), as applicable. As we see below, there are many gaps in this basic information for the sites that are part of CWC’s list. A similar zonewise overview of CWC’s sites was compiled in 2018, which can be seen here. Overview of CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2018: North India. We have brought this updated compilation for 2019 as there are large number of changes as ou can see.

Continue reading “Overview of CWC Flood Forecasting Sites 2019: North India”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 12 August 2019: URGENT REVIEW OF FLOOD MANAGEMENT REQUIRED

It’s great to see the top edit in THE TIMES OF INDIA today (Aug 12, 2019) calling for urgent review of flood management in India. Indeed the current floods can be a big wake up call.

TOI Edit rightly says: “Similarly, there’s also an urgent need to upgrade dam management in the region. Despite heavy rain warnings, why couldn’t Maharashtra and Karnataka coordinate to release dam waters downstream as a pre-emptive measure? We need much more proactive and punctilious supervision of dam waters.” Indeed there is need to fix the responsibilities of failures in Dam Management, including forecasting failures, Violations of rule curves, mismanagement of reservoirs and lack of information sharing and coordination. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 12 August 2019: URGENT REVIEW OF FLOOD MANAGEMENT REQUIRED”

Bihar · Ganga · Inland Waterways

National Inland Waterways in Bihar: Viable or desirable?

A new surge in the developmental interventions in the rivers in India is seen with the implementation of National Inland Waterways Act, 2016. Under this Act, 138 stretches of the rivers, creeks, backwaters, estuaries, etc. in 24 states and 2 union territories will be developed as the ‘national inland waterways’ for the transportation of huge cargo and passenger vessels. Being declared as “national” means that the control and regulation of these waterways will be in the hands of the central government and not state governments. This project of Central Government is being pushed forward with the claims of inland water transport being cost-effect, environmental friendly and safe for the transportation of hazardous goods. However, these so called benefits are neither universal nor automatic as they will be dependent on certain conditions, and will accrue if and when those conditions are met. Development of these waterways will be controlled and regulated by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI). Continue reading “National Inland Waterways in Bihar: Viable or desirable?”