When the Chief Minister of Maharashtra told the state Assembly on July 21, 2015, “We pushed large dams, not irrigation” he had raised much hopes for the state with a fresh memory of worst ever dam scam and drought termed as “worse than 1972”.
Even though the CM unequivocally said in the state Assembly “Large Dams are not the road ahead”, looking back at year 2016 reveals that the approach of the new government remained as large dam centric. Year 2016 in Maharashtra has been all about reviving the corruption ridden controversial irrigation projects. Continue reading “Maharashtra Water Sector Review of 2016: Revival of scam tainted dams”
Uma threatens stir over delay in Ken-Betwa interlinking Water Minister Uma Bharti on June 07 threatened an agitation if there were further delays to the wildlife clearances necessary for the storied Ken-Betwa river-interlinking project. This is TOO Much! Union Minister threatening to go on Fast, demanding environment clearance to Ken Betwa link! Calling it a national crime to stop clearance to Ken Betwa link. Saying if the project is not cleared in next meeting, she will go on fast! Claiming that the link will help Marathwada!! It wont help even Bundelkhand, but the Union Minister seems to be setting completely wrong, precedent, which also ultra legal. On the other hand The Hindu has been consistently underplaying the impacts of the Ken Betwa project and over playing the official lines. Very strange to see this from THE HINDU. Before this in its June 02 meeting the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of environment ministry has deferred environment clearance for the ambitious Rs.10,000cr Ken-Betwa river linking project in its last meeting on June 2, and has sought more clarity on its wildlife & hydrological impact. The meeting could not come to a conclusion as the members of the EAC had several doubts regarding the project’s hydrological feasibility, its impact on hydrology and wildlife too and found that many serious issues related to the project are yet to resolved. In the last week of May 2016, SANDRP in a letter to EAC has written about Ken-Betwa project & why EAC should not clear this. Please help us spread the word and urgently write to EAC if you agree. Himanshu Thakkar coordinator SANDRP points out that the Ken-Betwa link, in essence, Ken-Betwa link will facilitate transfer of water from the Ken River Basin (Bundelkhand) to Upper Betwa Basin (outside Bundelkhand), so it is actually exporting water out of Bundelkhand.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 13 June 2016(Uma Bharati Threatens Stir Over Delay In Ken-Betwa Clearances)”
India will not have power deficit situation in FY17 India won’t need any new power plants for the next three years as it is flush with generation capacity, according to a government assessment. The country can manage for the next three years with existing plants that are currently under-utilised, and those that are under construction and upcoming renewable energy projects, assessment made by the power ministry for reviewing the National Electricity Policy shows. Govt declares for the first time in history that India is POWER SURPLUS in 2016-17 with 3.1% power surplus in peak hours and 1.1% power surplus in off peak hours, both figures in 2015-16 were -3.2% during peak hours and -2.1% in peak hours. The western and Southern regions will be power surplus, but Northern, Eastern and Northeastern regions will have deficits. At the same time Power Minister Piyush Goyal says that Big hydro power units may come under renewable energy According to Minister the Centre has begun studies to decide whether to include big hydro power plants under the ambit of renewable energy. When India will be energy surplus for next three years why then Govt. of India is continue to pursue disastrous hydro projects on ground. Where ASSOCHAM is asking Arunachal govt. to do away with adverse tax policies on Hydro power to boost construction of hydro projects in the State. NHPC has also raised relief amount for Kishanganga HEP around Rs 60 lakh and Rs 70 lakh to each family for the land acquired. And despite Delhi Govt. openly rejecting water from Renuka dam NGT panel has visited the area to look into the rehabilitation issue.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 06 June 2016 (India to be power surplus for next 3 yrs, then why govt continue to pursue hydro projects)”
In a welcome move, Hon. Bombay High Court vacation bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, while hearing multiple clubbed petitions about drought and the state’s response, has passed a strong order recommending release of water stored in PRIVATE DAMS and sources for drinking water purposes of drought hit region.
“Observing that natural resources are property of the entire nation and not just an individual or a private entity, the Bombay High Court directed the state government to consider supplying water from privately operated dams and wells to water-scarce areas.” Continue reading ““Water is not a private property of some groups”: Bombay High Court directs release of water from Private Dams like the Tata Dams”
Water conservation: Lessons from ancient India As drought-like conditions have gripped many parts of India this year, the pressure to drill borewells in search of increasingly scarce groundwater has escalated. Many regions are in the grip of a vicious cycle of drilling causing the water table to sink further. There is an urgent need to explore what benefits water conservation can bring, whether through modern or ancient water storage structures. This report explains, ecologically safe engineering marvels of water conservation have existed in India for nearly 1,500 years, including traditional systems of water harvesting, such as the bawari, jhalara, nadi, tanka, and khadin. Even today these systems remain viable and cost-effective alternatives to rejuvenate depleted groundwater aquifers, according to experts. With govt support, these structures could be upgraded and productively combined with modern rainwater-saving techniques such as anicuts, percolation tanks, injection wells and subsurface barriers. This may be a far more sustainable approach to alleviating the water scarcity crisis across India. Ultimately, water conservation has to be a key element of any strategy to bring an end to India’s perennial swings between drought and flood.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 16 May 2016 (Water conservation: Lessons from ancient India)”
On May 4-5, 2016, Lok Sabha Speaker Smt Sumitra Mahajan took the lead in organising a workshop for Members of Parliament on Drought, Agrarian Crisis and ILR. As part of the newly constituted Speaker’s Research Initiative’s (SRI for short) work, Smt Mahajan inaugurated the workshop at 4 pm on May 4, 2016, where a panel of eight speakers were invited (4 on each day, SANDRP coordinator was one of the invited speakers on 1st day) to share their views, followed by questions from Members of Parliament. The idea was that on these important issues, Parliament Members are better equipped to raise the relevant issues when debating and raising questions in Parliament. It was heartening to see that at least 90 MPs (88 from Lok Sabha and 2 on Rajya Sabha) were present for 2.5 hours on first day, and they wanted to ask so many questions that there was not sufficient time to allow all of them to ask, nor sufficient time for speakers to make full presentations or answer all the questions. Similarly on second day too Speakers showed lot of interest on these issues. While inaugurating the workshop, Smt Mahajan mentioned how in Solapur, Maharashtra, because of the work of the collector and his team of officials, the impact of drought is lower than that in other districts. This was certainly heartening since it was SANDRP Associate Coordinator Parineeta Dandekar who first wrote on this issue, following her visit to Solapur and interview with the district collector. The workshop highlighted the need for many such workshops, possibly more focussed, but the impact of the workshop was already visible in the (as yet unfinished) debate under section 193 that started in Lok Sabha on May 5, 2016, hopefully to be continued in current week.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 09 May 2016 (Welcome initiative by Lok Sabha Speaker)”
Patoda: How a village in drought hit State turned water self-reliant At a time when almost every village in drought-hit Marathwada is facing acute water scarcity tiny Patoda, on the fringes of water-starved Aurangabad city, is offering valuable lesson in water management conservation and harvesting. Though it is surrounded by arid villages but Patoda’s residents regard water as more precious than money. They follow strict rules about usage and strictly carry the water audits. Water meters are installed in every households and entire village recycles each drop of waste water it generates. Today no rain water flows out of the village. Percolation has recharged the aquifers and the water table has risen. So effective is its water conservation model that Patoda has now become a model for the rest of Marathwada and has won 22 state & national awards. But it did not happened over nights. In fact it is a result of over 10 years joint efforts done by villagers.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 02 May 2016 (Patoda: How a village in drought hit Maharashtra achieved water independence)”
On this day in 2015, the massive Nepal earthquake of 7.9 intensity (Richter scale) shook the scenic Himalayan Nation. The earthquake left a major trail of destruction affecting over 20 districts and killing over 9 thousand people. According to expert Dave Petley, Langtang rock and ice avalanche was the most dramatic and significant landslide, that killed the most individuals. The earthquake killed over 9000 people, with 255 still missing. The severity of the quake can be gauged from the fact that more than a third of the disaster related deaths in 2015 occurred in Nepal’s April 25 earthquake. The earthquake-induced flash floods, landslides and aftershocks also damaged up to 15 hydropower plants, which has not been still restored fully. Surprisingly despite the increasing number of disasters taking place across the globe, world only spends less than a fifth of the money on Disaster Risk Reduction Compared to Disaster management. Nepal will still take years from recovering socio-economic losses caused by the quake. But it is pertinent that in the wake of the quake and other disasters, human civilisation must learn its lesson. It’s true that development and disaster cannot be stopped but we must make our developmental decisions more informed, rule based and democratic so that it helps us deal better with disasters by decreasing their intensity and velocity and our short-sighted developmental choices do not get translated into a disaster itself. Continue reading “DRP NEWS BULLETIN 25 APRIL 2016 (One Year After Nepal Earthquake, Has the World Learnt Any Lesson ?)”
Above: The dried up Manjara Dam near Latur. Photo: Vivek Bendre, The Hindu
On the 16th of January 2016, when Latur City in the heart of Marathwada was receiving drinking water once in 15 days and when plans of bringing water from Ujani Dam, about 300 kms away were being mulled upon, I was standing on the wall of the Lower Terna Reservoir in Osmanabad, about 40 kms from Latur. The dam has been at dead storage for the past 3 years. There are a string of jackwells inside the dam, to take water to rural drinking water supply schemes in Osmanabad and Latur for Nilanga, Killari and recently Ausa in Latur and Makani and Omerga in Osmanabad. Water Filtration System which is supposed to supply drinking water to 14 villages in Osmanabad lies defunct for years, even as the Revenue Minister inaugurated a brand new system for Latur City. Villages supposed to receive water from the dead stock stay thirsty. This is also the same Lower Terna Dam from where water is being taken for the Latur city in tankers now. Continue reading “Latur Drinking Water Crisis highlights absence of Water Allocation Policy and Management”
Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti in an interview tried to refute charges that the Centre reacted late to India’s drought crisis. Water minister makes strange statements that one cannot do any planning about drought & her govt is the first govt to provide water through tankers. However, Solapur, a chronically drought-hit district in Maharashtra was serviced with more than 200 tankers in 2013-14, even when the monsoon rainfall was better than this year. In this drought, there are only 16 tankers plying in Solapur. Drinking water sources have been secured, water from Ujani dam for and sugar cane has been disallowed. The district leads the way in Jal Yukta Shivar Program in the state, new avenues of Agricultural credit are opening, options to sugarcane are being developed, errant sugar factories are being fined for polluting drinking water sources. Will the Union Government accept its mistakes and make amends?
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 18 April 2016 (Prior action & planning can reduce Drought impact: Uma Bharti says it’s pointless, Solapur shows it’s possible)”