Cloud Burst

Uttarakhand: Cloud bursts in May 2021

From the beginning of May 2021, Uttarakhand has started witnessing excessive rainfall events termed as ‘cloud bursts’. Worryingly the intensity and frequency seems on higher side this time. So far there have been about 24 reported cases of ‘cloud bursts’ in the state but the monitoring, prediction and mitigation efforts are lagging far behind.

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Dam Safety

Uttarakhand: Aging Bhimtal Dam Raising Serious Safety Concerns

(Feature image: Arial view of Bhimtal Lake and dam. Source:- Postoast.com)

All is not well with Bhimtal dam in Nainital district, Uttarakhand. On March 8, 2021 morning, the fillers from its protection wall wobbled out. It sparked panic among local residents living near the largest lake of Kumaon region. For past couple of years they have been concerned about the structural safety of the aging dam. The 138 years old dam has already been in news for vertical cracks and recurring seepages.

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Dam Disaster · Uttarakhand

The factors that worsen the Uttarakhand Disasters

Abstract: While Uttarakhand is vulnerable to disasters, climate change is increasing these vulnerabilities. Major human interventions like hydropower projects and highways implemented without an informed or democratic decision-making process act as force multipliers during such disasters. The violations of legal and other prudent norms in their implementation further increase the damages. The absence of necessary monitoring, early warning systems and the overall disaster management system add another layer of damages during the disasters. The lack of the ability to learn lessons from disasters and lack of any accountability ensures the perpetuation of the situation.

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CWC - Central Water Commission

Chamoli Disaster: CWC needs functioning, forecasting beyond monsoon

Feature image: CWC’s flow diagram map showing movement of flash flood in Alaknanda valley, Chamoli after landslide induced deluge on Feb. 7, 2021.

The landslide induced[i] flash flood disaster has left long-lasting trail of destruction along the Rishiganga-Dhauliganga-Alaknanda rivers. The flood sludge has filled up the riverbed after damaging infrastructures along the rivers. The rescue work still is underway.

The episode has reignited discussion on vulnerabilities of Uttarakhand, role of hydropower projects and climate change threats. Questions are being raised on destructive projects involving use of blasting, heavy machinery, tree felling challenging the resilience limits of fragile ecology of the region.

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Dams, Rivers & People

DRP NB 8 Feb. 2021: Will NITI Aayog study the costs of overturning the Radhakrishnan Judgement on Uttarakhand?

NITI Aayog, we learn, has started studies of implications of the Supreme Court and NGT orders on environment issues. In the context of the massive Chamoli disaster now unfolding in Uttarakhand, NITI needs to urgently institute an inquiry as to who all are responsible for overturning the Justice Radhakrishnan led verdict of Aug 13, 2013 about the June 2013 Uttarakhand disaster and role of hydropower projects in the disaster and the costs of overturning that verdict. In fact if the Justice Radhakrishnan verdict were to have been sincerely and honestly implemented to its logical conclusion, the proportions of the current Chamoli disaster and others would have been majorly reduced. So the costs are no doubt huge and mounting. Will NITI Aayog institute such an independent inquiry urgently?

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Cloud Burst · Dams

Cloud Bursts in Indian Himalayan Region in Pre-monsoon & Monsoon 2020

The Indian Himalayan region has been facing increased cloud burst incidents for past many years. These events are followed by flash floods, landslides causing widespread damages to human lives and properties. However the forecasting, monitoring and management efforts are lagging far behind. This state wise overview attempts to understand the trend and resultant losses from such incidents during the pre-monsoon (Apr-May) southwest monsoon season (June-Sept) 2020.

SANDRP has been highlighting the issue since 2018. The details of these can be seen by exploring the hyperlink of Uttarakhand in 2018 and 2019, Himachal Pradesh 2019, Jammu and Kashmir and North East 2019.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 13 July 2020: “Rainwater harvesting is key to solving India’s water woes”

INDEED. With all the emphasis available at our command. We are in the midst of the rainiest season and such a statement is indeed music. It would become even more melodious if one knows who said it: it was none other than Mr G. Asok Kumar, Additional Secretary & Mission Director, National Water Mission, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India who said it. Speaking on July 8, 2020, he said: “Rainwater harvesting has become inevitable in the current scenario of water scarcity across the country… The idea is to save the rainwater be it on the rooftop, compounds, and premises.” Mr Kumar also emphasised the importance of groundwater recharge. 

We can pass it as run-of-the-mill statement from the government, but one is tempted to think there is more to it than that. One wishes if there was a way to hold these officials accountable for such statements and ask as to how this translates into policies, projects and practices. There is no evidence of any of these, unfortunately. Unless we were to interpret it cynically the way Central Water Commission ideologues do: Dams are also rain water harvesting structures! By that definition, even river linking is also rain water harvesting structure!! But Mr Kumar do not seem to suggest that. So let us hold on to this statement optimistically and push the water resources establishment to implement through right policies, practices and projects. Since that is where solution to India’s water problem indeed is. Unfortunately so far there is no sign that this wisdom is accepted in any serious way by the water resources establishment.

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Dams · Landslide

JAJRED perennial landslide in Yamuna basin, Uttarakhand

Banner image Jajred landslide zone which just reactivated with commencement of monsoon rains. (Nishant Panwar, July 07, 2020) 

Come monsoon and the Jajred mountain in Kalsi tehsil, Dehradun district in Uttarakhand starts falling apart. Located about 11 km away from Kalsi town, the landslide site near Amraha village blocks the vehicular movement on Kalsi-Chakrata state highway running through the zone for weeks sometimes for months.

This is a routine affair during monsoon for past many years damaging about 250 metre road stretch frequently thus cutting off the hundreds of villages in Jonsar-Bawar area from tehsil and state capital.

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Hydropower · Landslide · Sikkim

Landslide in Sikkim damages NHPC’s Teesta V Dam Project

This photo is possibly the worst advertisement for a hydropower project with landslide rocks sitting on top of the dam. A massive landslide has severely damaged the 55 m high dam of the 510 MW Teesta Hydropower Project of NHPC, at 00.20 hours on June 27, 2020. This is a major blow to NHPC, considered India’s premier hydropower company. It’s also a major blow to the propaganda of International Hydropower Association, falsely pushing this very project as an example under IHA’s Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol[i].

NHPC PR on June 28 afternoon said the landslide happened “at Dam Axis on left abutment hill side from a height of about 40 meter from Dam top NHPC Teesta-V Dam at Dikchu, East Sikkim. The access to Dam Control Room (DCR) as well as electrical connection to Dam top was cut-off due to this slide.”  The electricity supply was restored about 9 hours later.  (https://www.facebook.com/1764846020501239/posts/2689927154659783/)

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