Ministry of Water Resources

Shalmala River Protection Rally: Local Actions on the eve of International Day of Action for Rivers

On the eve of International Day of Action for Rivers (14th March), more than 1500 people gathered on the Ganeshpal Island in the Shalmala River. The mood was upbeat and there was spring in each step, young and old. The crowd was made up of a remarkable majority of women, all of them with flowers in their hair. There were barefooted farmers, planters with gardens along the river, priests in dhotis clutching files full of river protection stories, swamis who were to deliver a tough message, researchers working on rivers, tribal groups who venerated the Shalmala and after 5 pm, even school children who splashed around in the river! The densely forested river banks were decorated with garlands of flowers and mango leaves and there was a local band drumming rhythmic beats.

"Let our Shalmala Flow. International Day of Action for Rivers"
“Let our Shalmala Flow. International Day of Action for Rivers” Photo: All photos by Parineeta, SANDRP
People gathering for the rally Photo: All photos by Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP
People gathering for the rally Photo: All photos by Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP

The gathering was here to celebrate the lovely Shalmala River, a life giving resource to these villages. On one of the boulders inside the river was a painted notice: “If anyone tries to destroy our environment and rivers, we will NOT allow it”

Sign on a river boulder
Sign on a river boulder

They were unaware that this remarkable local phenomenon was resonating with a similar global endeavor. That the International day of Action for Rivers celebrates just this spirit: of protecting, celebrating and fighting for our rivers. Residents along Shalmala have been taking action for their river for more than 10 years now.

Shalmala River, as the name suggests, evokes lyrical beauty and magic. This small river is a tributary of the West Flowing River Bedthi of the Western Ghats, in Uttar Kannada District of Karnataka.

Bedthi herself is a special river. In the 1980’s when the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited announced its proposal for damming this river for a hydroelectric project, the resultant protest movement brought together myriad groups from Uttar Kannada led by Panduranga Hegde, Ananth Hegde, researches , economists, scholars and activists like Sundarlal Bahuguna, Vandana Shiva from across India. Like the Narmada and Silent Valley struggles, Bedthi struggle helped lay the foundation stones of an informed discourse surrounding dams and rivers. While it talked the language of a local peasant who did not want his land to be submerged and his river to go dry, it also talked the language of a scholar working on cost benefit analysis and ecological goods and services. The movement is an inspiration to many because the Bedthi still flows freely and the dam is all but scrapped, bowing to the opposition.

Ananth Hegde Ashisar addressing the Shalmala Rally
Ananth Hegde Ashisar addressing the Shalmala Rally
Priests earnestly discussing river protection strategies
Priests earnestly discussing river protection strategies

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Shalmala, a smaller tributary of Bedthi is no less special. For one, it is one of the very few protected rivers in India. Following untiring research and advocacy by Bhalchandra Hegde and local communities and with support of Forest Department Officials and erstwhile Chairperson of Western Ghats Task Force Ananth Hegde Ashisara, Shalmala the river has been protected through constitution of Shalmala River Riparian Conservation Reserve in June 2012. With Shalmala River Riparian Ecosystem Conservation Reserve, Uttar Kannada now has 4 CRs under its belt: all of them protecting important rivers in the region, without affecting local traditional use. These include Aghanashini-Lion Tailed Macaque Conservation Reserve, Bedthi Conservation Reserve and Hornbill Conservation Reserve along the Kali River. Several researchers like Dr. TV Ramchandra from IISC, Dr. Praveen Bhargava, Politicians, Swamijis of local Matths, and importantly the local population have supported this cause.

Women of all ages took active part in the rally and the discussions
Women of all ages took active part in the rally and the discussions

Conservation Reserve is a new concept in the rigid framework of Protected Areas under the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 2002. The novel part of these reserves is that they seek to protect habitats that are under private ownership also, through active stakeholder participation. They are typically buffer zones or connectors and migration corridors between established national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved protected forests in India. They are designated as conservation reserves if they are uninhabited and completely owned by the government but used for subsistence by communities, and community reserves if part of the lands are privately owned. Administration of such reserves would be through joint participation of forest officials and local bodies like gram sabhas and gram panchayats.

Shalmala Conservation Reserve was declared in June 2012 through a gazette notification. It encompasses more than 15.9 kms of the Shalmala River, with 100 mts riparian buffer on each bank. The reserve starts at Sahasralinga and culminates at Ganeshpal, the island where the rally took place. Just downstream Ganeshpal, the river takes a plunge down a steep gorge to form the Ganesh falls. From here, the boundaries of the Bedthi Conservation Reserve begin.

One of the important arguments in the proposal for conservation reserve is the unique cultural value of Shalmala River. At Sahasralinga, one is awestruck to see hundreds of Shivlingas carved on the bedrock of the river. The river itself is a temple, with carvings of Shivalingas, Nandi (Basaveshwara), Garuda, deeps and inscriptions. There is a huge pilgrimage here on the occasion of Shivratri.

Shalmala Riverbed with Shivlingas and Carvings at Sahasralinga
Shalmala Riverbed with Shivlingas and Carvings at Sahasralinga

Hydel Project in the Conservation Reserve

Even as the conservation reserve was declared in June 2012, Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) has allotted a 24 MW Hydel project right inside the conservation Reserve across the Shalmala! This 24 MW Ganeshpal hydel project by KARE Power envisages a trench weir as well a dam to store and divert water away from the river. The proposed location of the weir is just upstream of Ganeshpal isalnd. The project envisages a 4.4 kms long Head race tunnel to divert water from river to the powerhouse. The powerhouse is planned to be at the foot of the waterfall.

Through this tunnel diversion which will need blasting in the river bed and riparian zone, nearly 5 kms of the rivers well as the Ganesh Falls will be rendered dry. As a trench weir is proposed, there is no possibility of releasing eflows.

Bhalchandra Hegde and Ananth Hegde Ashisar, instrumental behind protecting Shalmala
Bhalchandra Hegde and Ananth Hegde Ashisar, instrumental behind protecting Shalmala

The Ganeshpal Island, where the rally took place will be exposed, without a river caressing it and Ganesh Falls will dry up. The project also envisages a 15 kms long transmission line to the power station and most of this area is under forest. In addition, the DPR of the project plans  for construction of roads to the weir, powerhouse and tunnels as well as workers colonies and rest house with recreational facilities. If materialised, this small hydel project which does not legally require an Environment Impact Assessment or Public Hearing, will destroy the Shalmala Conservation Reserve.

The local people are opposing this project with all their might. One of the resolutions of the rally was an appeal to the government to install solar power projects in Uttar Kannada in non-forest regions, which will be heartily supported by locals, but to leave their river alone. It is understandable. The economic, social and cultural ethos of the region is very strongly linked to flowing rivers. People worship rivers, they fish from them, use water for drinking water needs, diver streams for irrigation g their lands and look upon the rivers in awe in the monsoons.

People after the rally
People heading back home after the rally
Enjoying Shalmala
Enjoying Shalmala

The protest rally was organised and addressed by Sri. Ananth Hegde Ashisara, past Chairperson of the Western Ghats Task Force and past member of the State Wildlife Board, noted economist B. Kumarswamy, Dr. Subhashchandra from IISC, Bangalore, Adv. Shankar Bhat from Bangalore, Parineeta Dandekar from SANDRP and Shri. Karunakar Gogate from Hosamat, Dakshin Kannada. Shri. Gogate shared now Kukke hydel project planned in his region has not disclosed even its submergence details after 3 years of being told to do so by the government. Incidentally, Kare Power Projects which is proposing Ganeshpal Hydel,  is constructing the Thangarabalu Hydel Project across Krishna in Gulbarga and here too, the company has not shared submergence details for a dam as high as 22 meters!

The meeting was presided over of Swamiji of a Svarnavalli Matth. He is locally known as the Green Swamy. Rather than going into religious sermons, Swamiji told the people: “Along with Shanti Mantra, now is the time for Kranti mantra. Do not let project developers who have no link with your river, come here and destroy it. We have a duty towards our river and we will fulfil it.”

More than 1500 people stood and vowed to protect Shalmala river and their entwined lives in days and years to come.

After the rally, school children splashed about in the river, researchers went for bird watching along the riparian stretch, farmers returned to their gardens to water their crops and the elderly sat down on the river sands for a gossip.

The Shalmala flowed by serenely. May this flow continue…

-Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP, parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com

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Dams

Another Hydro fraud: Two small projects on paper, one large project on site

24.75 MW Mouneswar + 24.75 MW Basavanna ‘Small’ Hydel Projects = One large HEP

According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), hydel projects between 2-25 MW are classified as Small Hydel Projects (SHPs). These projects are exempt from Environmental Clearance, impact assessment, public consultation or any monitoring from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), receive subsidies from the MNRE and apply for Carbon Credits from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Though the concept of encouraging small hydel projects as sources of decentralized energy, also supplying off grid power seem welcome, the happenings on ground are vastly different. As these projects are excluded from environmental governance, there are several examples of fraudulent Small Hydro projects, which exploit the lax governance mechanism to hoodwink all concerned.[i]

One such recurring fraud is showing two separate projects on paper, in order to avoid environmental scrutiny and avail subsidies meant for SHPs, while building one single big dam on site, clubbing the two projects. Projects like Perla and Shemburi by Greenco in Mangalore or Maruthi Gen projects in Sakaleshpur (http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report-maruti-power-gen-s-hydel-project-an-environmental-disaster-1617237), all in Karnataka Western Ghats, are two example of this fraud.

One more case has now come to light, this one from Gulberga district in north Karnataka when I visited the project area recently. Although called by two different names, 24.75 MW Mouneswar Small Hydel Project and 24.75 MW Basavanna Hydro Project are operating from a single dam/diversion weir across the KrishnaRiver, just downstream Narayanpur Dam. As such, the project should be considered as a single 49.50 MW hydel project and should undergo immediate environmental, social and legal scrutiny and further assessment. We tried to conatct the officials of the company several times for questions related to the projects, but we got no response.

The Projects:

24.75 MW Mouneswar and 24.75 MW Basavanna SHEPs are built across river Krishna in Benchagaddi village of Shorpur taluk of Gulberga district in Karnataka.

The projects have also applied for Carbon credits under the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Basavanna Hydro Project has been registered as a Clean Development Mechanasim (CDM) project with the UNFCCC on 28th December 2012 and its crediting period has been fixed as 1st March 2013 to 28th February 2023[ii]. 24.75 MW Mouneswar SHP has applied for registration[iii]. SANDRP has sent comments against registration of this project.[iv]

Shockingly, both projects have requested separate registrations, hiding the fact that both will be using the same dam, the same intake/power canal and the same tail race canal.

Project design documents (PDDs) submitted to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Board (UNFCCC – EB) mention the same coordinates as the project location:

Latitude- 16°19’52 “N

Longitude- 76°33’48” E

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Figure 1. Mouneswara and Basavanna diversion weir_ Google Earth

PDDs of both the projects do not even mention the other project, clearly misleading the UNFCCC. Not only do the PDDs show same coordinates, the lengths of the intake canals are exactly the same at 2771 meters, so are the RCC conduits and penstocks, because we are talking of the same project!

Carbon Credits are supposed to be provided to projects only when they prove beyond doubt that they will be economically unfeasible without such support. However, in this case the expenses of dam, power canal, and tail race tunnel is shared and hence the costs will be lowered, the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of the projects will be higher than what is quoted in the PDDs and they will be profitable even without additional ‘pocketable’ finance from the UNFCCC in the name of Clean Development! (IRR claimed in the PDD is 9.14% for Mouneswar SHP and 11.38% for Basvanna SHP.)

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Figure 2. Common Dam/Diversion weir for Mouneswara and Basavanna HEPs. Photo- SANDRP

Same Proponent, different names

Interestingly, project proponents of both the projects are shown to be different in respective PDDs. For Mouneswar Small Hydel Project it is Lakshmi Jalavidyut Limited and that for Basavanna Hydro Project it is Krishna Hydro Energy Limited.  However, the registered office of both these firms is the same! This address also belongs to Penna Cements, Hyderabad, which is a player in Mini hydel projects in Karantaka. Penna Cements and its subsidiary Pioneer Genco already operate two SHPs, each of 24.75 MW capacity across Cauvery in Karnataka.

From the ground

When SANDRP visited the project sites, the officials were hostile to any entry in the premises or even near the site.

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Figure 3. Dam/Diversion weir . Photo- SANDRP

The dam/ diversion weir built by the projects is inside the KrishnaRiver bed and diverts the water through a power canal which runs approximately 3 kms downstream. The power canal takes most of the water from the river rendering the river dry in lean season.

Farmers told power canal as irrigation canal:

When I talked with the farmers in the downstream, they told me that they were under the impression that this canal is meant for irrigation, like Narayanpur Dam canals in the upstream (about 26 km). However, Benchagaddi village which is situated next to the tail race canal of the project not allowed to take even its drinking water from the canal.

There have been strong protests from the villages to this project as the diversion has dried the river bed and more than 300 irrigation pumps of villages like Bechagaddi, Hosur and Yedalabhavi used for irrigating paddy are now useless. Karanataka Bhagya Jal Nigam had also taken serious exception to the projects and had ordered a stop work notice.[v]  (It subsequently issued an NOC, without providing any resolution to the issues raised by it earlier.)

The Benchagaddi village which is right next to the power canal experiences power cuts lasting 18-20 hours daily. Around 40 farmers from this village lost their lands for the canal. Rates of compensation given were Rs 25-85 thousand per acre.

Shockingly fraudulent Local Stakeholder Consultations!

The projects have claimed to have organised ‘Local Stakeholder Consultations’ about the CDM mechanism, which is mandatory when applying for CDM credits. PDD claims that Mouneswar project organised stakeholder consultations on 21st December 2011 and Basavanna project organized it on 26th September 2011.

Now see this, both PDDs mentions exactly the same people asking exactly the same questions with exactly the same answers being given!! It is absolutely clear that these meetings and these reports are fake. Amazingly, UNFCCC could not see through this clear fraud.

Local Development through Small Hydels?

As per the villagers, affected families were promised a job in the power plant although none of them received any jobs there. Even the JCB and truck operators are from other states. Security guards too aren’t from the same village.

Figure 4. Area submerged upstream of the dam or diversion weir
Figure 4. Submergence area in the upstream of the weir
Figure 5. Tail canal near Benchigaddi village and the construction work of power house (Source: Google Earth)
Figure 5. Tail race canal near Benchigaddi village and the construction work of power house (Source: Google Earth)

Unaddressed impacts of Submergence:

In Geddamari village near the diversion weir, around 15-20 families lost their lands for construction of the dam. Bill collector (Talathi) of the village told SANDRP that around 50 acres of land was SUBMERGED due to dam (diversion weir) construction. He further added that farmers whose lands were submerged, have not received the compensation as yet. They have been talking with the company and have been verbally promised some compensation, though nothing on paper. Problems in this village too are like Benchagaddi village. Limited drinking water, disturbed power supply etc.

Figure 6. Power houses near benchagaddi village. Photo- SANDRP
Figure 6. Power houses near Benchagaddi village. Photo- SANDRP

Applicable for Environmental Clearance:

As the projects use a single dam and are a single project of 49.50 MW and they qualify for a full environmental clearance process, including an EIA, public hearing, and Environmental appraisal by the state or central EAC and an Environmental Management Plan. However, the projects have illegally escaped all this.

Executive Engineer of Krishna Bhagya Jal Nigam (KBJN) – controlling state authority in case of Krishna River- confirmed, “Both the projects are operating using the same weir .The power houses of two projects are housed behind the same diversion weir. There are three 8.25 MW turbines for each of the projects situated downstream of the same diversion weir.”

According to the Executive Engineer, KBJN has granted NOCs to both the projects and that both of them being fully operational for last 6-8 months. When SANDRP visited the project site, the HEPs were found to be fully operational.

Conclusion:

24.75 MW Mouneswara and 24.75 Basvanna Projects are operating from the same diversion weir, use the same intake canal and same tail race. They are in fact one single project which has fraudulently shown itself as two separate projects. The proponent and the consultants have hidden this fact from the UNFCCC, the MoEF, the MNRE, KREDL, State Pollution Control Board and State Environmental Department. The Local Stakeholder Reports of the projects are a sham. Submergence impacts are still unaddressed.

These issues need to be addressed urgently by all concerned including the MoEF, the Karnataka Government, UNFCCC, MNRE and KREDL. Such frauds are giving a bad name to the all these institutes.

-Damodar Pujari (damodar.sandrp@gmail.com) with inputs from Parineeta Dandekar


Ministry of Environment and Forests · Uttarakhand · Western Ghats

Affected communities, scientists, experts urge the MoEF: “Address Impacts of Small Hydel Projects”

47 experts and organisations from across the country have written to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, including the Minister Ms. Jayathi Natarajan to include hydel projects between 1-25 MW under the purview of EIA Notification 2006. A similar letter has been sent to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Minister Dr. Farooq Abdulla, to address the impacts of these projects which are governed by the MNRE.

Those who have written include eminent personalities like Former Water Resources Secretary: Dr. Ramaswamy Iyer, Former Ambassador of India: Ms. Madhu Bhaduri, Former Secretary of Power and Principle Advisor to Planning Commission: Dr. EAS Sarma, Former member of MoEF’s Forest Advisory Committee: Dr. Ullas Karanth, Head of IISC’s Centre for Ecological Sciences: Dr. TV Ramachandran, Head of People’s Science Institute: Dr. Ravi Chopra, experts from energy field, as well as activists, fisheries experts, scientists and importantly, representatives from affected communities

Letter sent to MoEF is below:

1. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan,

Union Minister of State (IC) of Environment and Forests,

Paryavaran Bhawan, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, jayanthi.n@sansad.nic.in

2. Dr. V Rajagopalan,

Secretary,

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi, vrg.iyer@nic.in

 3. Mr. Maninder Singh

Joint Secretary,

Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi, jsicmoef@nic.in

4. Mr. Ajay Tyagi

Joint Secretary,

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi a.tyagi@nic.in

5. Mr. B. B. Barman

Director (IA) River Valley Projects,

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi, bidhu-mef@nic.in

Please include Small Hydel Projects (1-25 MW) under the purview of EIA Notification 2006, considering their serious impacts on ecosystems and communities.

 Respected Madam Minister and office bearers of the MoEF,

We want to record our concern about serious impacts of small hydro projects on communities and ecosystems. Several groups from us have written to you in the past to urgently amend the EIA Notification 2006 and to include Small Hydel Projects in its ambit. Looking at the serious impacts of these projects, MoEF could have suo motto taken this initiative. But that has not happened, despite several amendments in the EIA Notification down the years.

SHPs can have and are having severe impacts on communities and ecosystems. This is significant as SHPs are exempt from environmental impact assessment, public hearing, and environmental management plan as EIA Notification 2006 restrict itself to projects above 25 MW. The local communities are specifically affected as they do not have a platform to voice their concerns.

To highlight some of the impacts of SHPs:

Þ      70 SHPs in Karnataka under scanner following HC orders Karnataka High Court upheld Elephant Task Force’s recommendation about impacts of SHPs on Elephant habitats and directed Karnataka Government to review clearances of all such projects affecting elephant habitats[1], bringing at least 70 SHPs under scanner, 40 in Hassan district, the rest in Mandya, Chamarajanagar and Uttara Kannada districts.

Gangani1
Gangani Small Hydro project in Uttarakhand across Yamuna which resulted in loss of lives and property during Uttarakhand floods. Photo: Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan

Þ      Karnataka HC no to SHPs in W Ghats In Feb 2013, the Karnataka High Court banned SHPs in Western Ghats[2], following a petition filed by Western Ghats Forum.

Þ      Uttarakhand Uttarakhand had earlier cancelled as many as 56 SHPs due to irregularities.

Þ      Western Ghats reports Considering the impacts of small hydro projects, the Madhav Gadgil Panel on Western Ghats recommended that in Ecologically sensitive zone 1, only projects below 10 MW with max height of 3 m and not involving forest land be taken up. In ESZ 2, projects upto 25 MW can be taken up only if dam height is below 15 m. This shows the nuanced approach that is required for small hydro projects. The panel also recommended that WGEA should include small hydro projects under EIA notification. Even the Kasturirangan committee has recommended that hydropower projects, including SHPs be allowed only on condition that 30% eflows are released, less than 50% of the river length is destroyed and there is 3 km free flowing river between projects. It has also recommended that hydropower projects, including small hydro projects should required environment clearance in the Ecologically Sensitive Area.

Pristine Forests set for submergence under the 24 MW Kukke Mini hydel Plant in Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka. Photo: SANDRP
Pristine Forests set for submergence under the 24 MW Kukke Mini hydel Plant in Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka. Photo: SANDRP

Þ      Bhagirathi ESA In the notified Bhagirathi ESA in Uttarakhand, the MoEF itself has implied that Hydro projects only of below 2 MW installed capacity can be taken up.

Þ      BWSSB asks for stoppage of SHPs In March 2013, Bangalore Water Supply and Sanitation Board (BWSSB) asked the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) to stop power generation from four mini hydel projects on Cauvery River as it was affecting drinking water supply to Bangalore.[3]

Most Small Hydro projects (1-25 MW) are grid connected, and local communities do not get electricity from the projects in their backyards, across their rivers which have significant impacts on local water availability, habitats and submergence.

Some examples in this regard are given here:

Þ      In Himachal, communities have protested strongly against 4.5 MW Hul project affecting drinking water security and irrigation of 6 villages, as well as ancient oak forests.

Protesst against 4.5 MW Hul project in Himachal/ Photo: Saal Ghati Bachao Samiti
Protesst against 4.5 MW Hul project in Himachal/ Photo: Saal Ghati Bachao Samiti

Þ      Projects like 24.75 Kukke I in Dakshin Kannada can submerge a massive 388 hectares, including extremely bio-diverse forests, plantations and houses. This is being strongly opposed by local communities.

Þ      Greenko’s Perla and Shemburi Projects, Basavanna and Mauneshwara SHPs in Karnataka are examples where two 24.75 MW SHPs are fraudulently shown as separate projects, but are single projects with a common dam. In the latter case, villagers assumed that the power canal is actually an irrigation canal for their fields. They only realised that they were alienated from their river after they were banished from approaching the canals.

Blatant violations in 24.75 MW Perla MHP and 24.75 MW Shemburi MHP across Netravathi. The common, huge barrage can be seen for two supposed seperate projects. Photo SANDRP
Blatant violations in 24.75 MW Perla MHP and 24.75 MW Shemburi MHP across Netravathi. The common, huge barrage can be seen for two supposed seperate projects. Photo SANDRP

Þ      Maruthi Gen projects, also in Karnataka, were not only clubbed together, but also hid their significant impact on forest land.

Þ      Submergence data of SHPs is routinely hidden & affected communities are kept in dark till water actually floods their lands. 24.75 MW Thangarabalu SHP on Krishna in Karnataka entails a dam of more than 22 meters in height, but has not divulged any data of submergence to villagers or Forest Department.

Þ      3 MW Beedalli MHP in Karnataka is on the boundary of the Pushpagiri Sanctuary and will severely affect wildlife, but does not envisage eflows release, fish passage or environmental mitigation measures

Þ      15 MW Barapole MHP in Kerala is affecting reserve forests in Karnataka. An earlier such project which was affecting Brahmagiri Sanctuary was opposed and cancelled due to pressure from conservation groups in Karnataka.

Þ      String of more than 98 mini hydel projects in various stages of operation, commissioning, construction and planning on the Cauvery in Karnataka has affected elephant corridors and movement.

Þ      Many mini hydel projects along the Cauvery in Karnataka are adjoining the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, violating the 10 km buffer zone, while also encroaching on forest land.

The lovely bharachukki falls on Cuavery, also shackeled by many mini hydel projects. Photo: SANDRP
The lovely bharachukki falls on Cuavery, also shackeled by many mini hydel projects. Photo: SANDRP

Þ      In Himachal Pradesh, several hydel projects have been built on streams that are on ‘negative list for hydel projects’. Fisheries department wanted in-situ conservation of fish in these streams.

Þ      The 15 MW Om Power project near Palampur in Himachal Pradesh has caused extensive loss of forest cover and has disrupted irrigation and drinking water supply to downstream areas due to indiscriminate muck dumping.

Þ      The 1.5 MW Pakhnoj Nala Power project would impact the flourishing apple economy of 19 villages in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh by disrupting irrigation supplies. The local people have been strongly opposing the project and the matter is pending in the court.

MoEF and NCDMA: National CDM Authority is under the MoEF and has been giving Host Country Approvals to CDM applications of several small hydel projects. Many of us have been writing to NCDMA and MoEF, providing clear evidence of the sham in CDM applications of projects and their validation reports. But the MoEF has never taken a notice of this. In fact, the MoEF certifies that these projects have positive impact on sustainable development without checking the ground situation, when the impacts of some of these projects on sustainable development are negative.

World over, it is being recognised that impact of small hydel projects is in fact comparable with large hydro projects and hence has to be assessed and mitigated.[4] Countries like Vietnam have cancelled 338 small hydel projects as their assessment indicated that environmental and social impacts of these projects is not commensurate with their benefits.[5]

We would be willing to present the problems from the ground to the MoEF. A holistic and truly sustainable approach can help boost renewable energy development in our country.

We are sure MoEF is committed to protecting environmental impacts, irrespective of the installed capacities of projects and will amend the EIA Notification to this effect urgently. Till such a credible regulatory system is in place, we request the MoEF to stop providing Host Country Approvals to Small Hydel Projects.

Some links and additional information related small hydro projects and their impacts can be found at:

Þ      http://www.himdhara.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/hul_comments-for-unfccc.pdf

Þ      http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/neither-small-nor-green/article5045672.ece

Þ      https://sandrp.in/hydropower/PR_Halt_Mini_Hydel_Projects_in_Karnatka_pending_regulation_and_review_080812.pdf

Þ      http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/karnataka-cancels-leases-two-mini-hydel-projects-western-ghats

Þ      http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=124076,http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=124443

Þ      Himdhara’s Report on Mini Hydel Projects in Himachal Pradesh: http://www.himdhara.org/2012/09/09/small-hydropower-big-impact-a-discussion-on-issues-facing-local-communities-in-himachal-pradesh/

Þ      Meeting on Mini hydel projects in Karnataka:  https://sandrp.in/hydropower/PR_Halt_Mini_Hydel_Projects_in_Karnatka_pending_regulation_and_review_080812.pdf

Þ      https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/impact-of-62-mini-hydel-projects-on-cauvery-on-bangalores-water-supply/

Þ      Comments on some of the CDM proposals for SHPs: https://sandrp.in/hydropower/

Looking forward to your response to the issues raised above.

Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely,

  1. Ramaswamy Iyer, Former Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, New Delhiramaswamy.iyer@gmail.co
  2. EAS Sarma, Former Secretary, Ministry of Power, eassarma@gmail.com
  3. Madhu Bhaduri, Ambassador of India, ( Retd), madhu.bhaduri@gmail.com
  4. Dr. Ullas Karanth, Former member, Forest Advisory Committee, MoEF, Director for Science-AsiaWildlife Conservation Society and Director, Centre for Wildlife Studies, ukaranth@gmail.com
  5. Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director, People’s  Science Institute, Dehra Doon, Uttarakhand, psiddoon@gmail.com
  6. Dr.Bharat Jhunjhunwala, Uttarakhand, bharatjj@gmail.com
  7. Manoj Misra, Convener, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Delhi, yamunajiye@gmail.com
  8. Sharadcchandra Lele, Member, Elephant Task Force, Bangalore, Karnataka, sharad.lele@gmail.com
  9. Dr. T.V. Ramachandra, Head, Energy & Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore
  10. Dr. Bijukumar, Associate Professor and Head, Dept. of Aquatic Biology & Fisheries University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram 695 581, Kerala, abiju@rediffmail.com/ bijupuzhayoram@gmail.com
  11. Neeraj Vagholikar, Kalpavriksh, Pune, nvagho@gmail.com
  12. Emmanuel Theophilus, Himal Prakriti, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand,etheophilus@gmail.com
  13. Ramnarayan K, Himal Prakriti, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhandramnarayan.k@gmail.com,
  14. Malika Virdi, Himal Prakriti, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand malika.virdi@gmail.com
  15. Dr. Latha Anantha, River Research Centre, Kerala, rrckerala@gmail.com
  16. Samir Mehta, River Basin Friends, Guwahati International Rivers, Mumbai, samir@internationalrivers.org
  17. Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Eco hydrologist, Bangalore, jagdish.krishnaswamy@gmail.com
  18. Dr. Shrinivas Badiger, Fellow, ATREE-Bengaluru, sbadiger@atree.org
  19. Dr. Bhaskar Acharya, ATREE, Bangalore, bhaskar.acharya@atree.org
  20. Dunu Roy, Hazards centre, Delhi, qadeeroy@gmail.com
  21. Sankar Ray, Journalist with specialisation in environmental issues, Kolkata sankar.ray@gmail.com
  22. Meher Engineer, mengineer2003@gmail.com
  23. Manshi Asher, Himdhara Collective, Himachal Pradesh, manshi.asher@gmail.com
  24. Rahul Saxena, Himdhara Collective, Himachal Pradesh, lokvigyankendra@gmail.com
  25. Prasad Chacko, Human Development and Research Centre, Ahmedabad, prasad.chacko@gmail.com
  26. Girin Chetia, North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS), Village & P.O.- DhekiakhowaDist.- Jorhat (Assam), neads_jorhat@yahoo.co.in; girin_neads@yahoo.co.in
  27. Ashwin Gambhir, Prayas Energy Group, Pune, ashwin@prayaspune.org
  28. Falguni Joshi, Gujarat Forum for CDM, Ahmedabad, gujaratforumoncdm@gmail.com
  29. Madhusoodhanan C.G., Research Scholar, IIT Bombay, madhucg@gmail.com
  30. Neethi Mahesh- Independent researcher, International collaborator- Mahseer Trust.neeti.mahesh@gmail.com
  31. Kedar Nadolli Gogate, Urumbi Ankattu Pratirodh Samiti, Hosmata, Karanataka, kedarnadoli@gmail.com
  32. Karunakar Gogate, President, Urumbi Ankattu Pratirodh Samiti, Hosmata, Karanataka
  33. Dr. Beerathadaka Rajesh, Kutrupady, Hosmata, Dakshin Kannada, drrajeshb23@gmail.com
  34. Beni Prasad (Chairperson) Jan Jagaran evam Vikas Sanstha, Village Sarsei, PO Haripur, Tehsil and District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh.
  35. Dr. Pushpal Thakur (General Secretary), Jan Jagaran evam Vikas Sanstha, Village Sarsei, PO Haripur, Tehsil and District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh.
  36. Lal Chand Katoch, Sanyojak, Jal Jangal Jameen Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (Majhat), Village Batahar, PO Haripur, Tehsil and District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh.
  37. Rahul Banerjee, Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra, Indore. rahul.indauri@gmail.com
  38. Subhadra Khaperde, Kansari nu Vadavno, Khargone subhadra.khaperde@gmail.com
  39. Shankar Tadwal, Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath, Alirajpur shankarkmcs@rediffmail.com,
  40. Dr. AK Malhotra – Trustee, SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary Trust, Kodagu District, Karnataka, saisanctuary@gmail.com
  41. Gopakumar Menon, Nityata Foundation, Bangalore, gopakumar.rootcause@gmail.com
  42. Nisarg Prakash, Nityata Foundation,Bangalore, nisargprakash@gmail.com
  43. Tarun Nair, Researchers for Wildlife Conservation, tarunnair1982@gmail.com
  44. Dr Shambu Prasad, Chebrolu, Bhubaneshwar, shambuprasad@gmail.com
  45. Anush Shetty, Bangalore, anushshetty@gmail.com
  46. Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP, New Delhi, ht.sandrp@gmail.com
  47. Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP, Pune, parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com
Dams

Impact of 98 Mini Hydel Projects on Cauvery on Bangalore’s Water Supply

In recent news reports, it was reported that “following the drastic fall in the water-level in the Shiva Balancing Reservoir (SBR), the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has asked Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) and Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. (KPCL) to stop power generation from four mini-hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery basin, at least till May.”[1] The projects which were asked to stop generation include: Madhavamantri, Satyagala, Shiva Anecut and Shimsha mini-hydroelectric projects.Image

However, the fact is that KREDL (Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited) has allotted and commissioned a whopping 98 mini hydel projects on the Cauvery, most of them downstream Krishnaraj Sagar Dam, many of them commissioned. These projects are in the Mysore, Mandya and Chamrajanagara Districts. Actual numbers maybe higher as we have not included projects from Ramanagara in the list as we are not certain how many of those would fall in Cauvery Basin.

24 Projects are in Mysore, 62 in Mandya and 12 in Chamrajanagar.

See Annex 1 for the full list with their status (Only projects from Mandya in the Annex, contact us if you need the full list)

Some of these projects are downstream from the Shiva Anicut from where water supply to Bangalore is routed. In addition to decrease in water availability, water stored by several mini hydel projects increases the evapo-transpiration rate of water, particularly in summer.

Critically, these projects also hold back water, affecting water supply cycles to Bangalore and other towns and villages dependent on the river. Similar conditions had occurred in Mangalore, last year where water levels in the Thumbe Dam fell to alarming levels due to mini hydel projects hoarding up water in the upstream.[2]

In Cauvery, if at all the state government, BWSSB and others concerned about impact of water supply due to mini hydel projects, they need to consider the impact of these projects on the water supply, ecology and livelihoods in the downstream areas and consider halting generation of these projects during this summer when the Cauvery basin is facing sure dire water situation. Mini Hydel Projects which are below the capacity of 25 MW do not need Environmental Clearance, Environment Impact Assessment or Public Hearing. String of Mini Hydel projects on a single river, one after the other, severely affects the hydrology as well as ecology of a river system and also people and their livelihoods in surrounding areas. The same is happening with Cauvery with nearly 100 Mini Hydel projects planned or commissioned. Many projects are right next to the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and are causing impediment to movement of elephants, increasing man-animal conflicts. This has been highlighted by the Karnataka Elephant Task Force.  Due to their cumulative impacts on ecology, High Court of Karnataka has halted construction of any such projects in Western Ghats.

Hence, keeping water supply, hydrology and ecology in view, project level and cumulative impact assessment of mini hydel projects planned, allotted and commissioned along the River Cauvery is an urgent need. Earlier such appeals to KREDL, Karnataka Forest Department and Karnataka Wildlife Board have fallen on deaf ears.

We hope that the Karnataka government, BWSSB, KPCL, KREDL, KPTCL, Cauvery Neeravari Nigam and all others concerned will come together and will conduct this assessment urgently and cancel the projects which are having unacceptable impacts on people, ecology, hydrology and water supply of Cauvery. Immediately, an assessment of their impact is required in the context of summer and dire water situation.

On the International Day of Action for Rivers, Cauvery needs our urgent attention. Cumulative impact Assessment and individual Impact Assessment of unprecendeted number of Mini Hydel Projects is a must.

Nisarg Prakash, Nityata Foundation, Bangalore, nisargprakash@gmail.com

Dr. Latha Anantha, River Research Centre, Kerala, rrckerala@gmail.com

Parineeta Dandekar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com

09860030742

(Scroll Down for a list of Commissioned and Allotted Mini Hydel Projects on Cauvery in Mandya District alone)


Annexure 1

Small Hydro Projects in mandya District on Cauvery in Karnataka. Please contact us if you need full list of 98 projects including those in Mysore and Chamrajanagara.

(Source: Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited, KREDL: http://www.kredltest.in/Hydroreportall.aspx)

 No. Company Company MHS Status Capacity (MW)
1 ADD Realty Ltd. New 3
2 Aparimitha Power Ventures Pvt. Ltd. Aparimitha Kuppahalli MHS Allotted 4
3 Atria Brindavan Power Ltd. Atria Hanumanahalla Commissioned 8
4 Atria Brindavan Power Ltd. Atria Brindavan Allotted 12
5 Atria Brindavan Power Ltd. Atria Visveswara Commissioned 12
6 Atria Brindavan Power Ltd. Atria KRS Commissioned 4
7 Atria Hydel Power Ltd. Atria Sheshadri Iyer Allotted 10
8 Atria Hydel Power Ltd. Atria Sheshadri Iyer II Commissioned 12
9 Atria Power Corpn. Ltd. Atria Shimsha New 24
10 Atria Power Corpn. Ltd. Atria Yelachagere MHS Allotted 5
11 B & G Energy Pvt. Ltd. B&G Allotted 3
12 B Soilmec India Pvt. Ltd. B Soilmec Hasurubore Halla Allotted 20
13 B Soilmec India Pvt. Ltd. B Soilmec Someshwara II Commissioned 15
14 Bhoruka Power Corpn. Ltd. Bhoruka Mandagere Commissioned 4.5
16 Cauvery Hydro Energy Ltd. Cauvery Shiva Commissioned 3
17 Cauvery Hydro Energy Ltd. Cauvery Akkihebbal Allotted 4.5
18 Energica Power Co. NULL Alugodu Commissioned 0.8
19 Graphite India Ltd. Graphite India Allotted 1.5
20 Hallikeshwara Energy Projects Pvt. Ltd. NULL NULL Allotted 0.5
21 IJK Power Pvt. Ltd. NULL Ganadahalli Allotted 15
22 Innoverse Eco Friendly Solutions Innoverse Thimmana hosur Allotted 0.4
23 Instrument & Systems NULL Banasamudra Allotted 1
24 Kaltronics Office Automation & Networking Pvt. Ltd. Parpikala Mahadevapura Commissioned 0.5
25 Kilara Power Pvt. Ltd. NULL NULL Commissioned 2
26 Limbavali Power Pvt. Ltd. Limbavali Hullahhalla Commissioned 12
27 LK Power Corpn. Ltd. LK Maddur Branch Canal Allotted 2
28 Manasa Gangothri Power Pvt. Ltd. New 3
29 ME Power Gen Project NULL Shree Lakshmi Narashimhaswamy Allotted 3
30 Mythree Power Developers Mythree Sampaji Allotted 0.25
31 Nimishamba Energy India Pvt. Ltd. Nimishamba Nimishamba New 3
32 Obull Power Projects Pvt. Ltd. Obull Sagya New 2
33 Obull Power Projects Pvt. Ltd. Obull Chillapura Allotted 2
34 P6 Energy Pvt. Ltd. KCP Ballenahalli New 2
35 Paramount Estate Pvt. Ltd. Ramapura New 1
36 Paramount Estate Pvt. Ltd. chaluve Allotted 1
37 Parpikala Power Pvt. Ltd. Parpikala Viraja Allotted 0.5
38 Parpikala Power Pvt. Ltd. Parpikala Sithapura Allotted 0.5
39 Penna Cements Industries Ltd. Pioneer Genco Sreeramadevara Allotted 24.75
40 Photon Energy Systems Ltd. Photon Hosaholalu Commissioned 0.5
41 Pioneer Genco Ltd. Pioneer Genco Someshwara Allotted 24.75
42 Samrudhi Hydro Energy NULL KRS Allotted 1.22
43 SLS Power Industries Ltd. Bhoruka Belakavadi Allotted 1.5
44 SM Hydro Power Pvt. Ltd. SM NULL Allotted 10
45 Soham Renewable Energy India Pvt. Ltd. Soham Mahadevapura-2 Allotted 6
46 Sree Mallikarjuna Power NULL Maddur Allotted 0.95
47 Sri Rama Enterprises Rama Doddrasinakere Allotted 0.5
48 Sri Rama Enterprises Rama Chikkarsinakere Allotted 0.5
49 Sriven Power Pvt. Ltd. NULL Heggadahalli Allotted 5
50 Subhash Kabini Power Corpn. Pvt. Ltd. SPML Varuna RBC Allotted 2
51 Subhash Kabini Power Corpn. Pvt. Ltd. SPML Hulikere New 3
52 Trinity Aero & Energy Formulations Pvt Ltd NULL Mosarahalla (Katteri Nala) Commissioned 0.25
53 Trishul Power Pvt. Ltd. Trishul Hemagir Allotted 4
54 V.Pram Power Co. Pvt. Ltd. NULL Devaraya Allotted 0.5
55 Venika Green Power Pvt. Ltd. XS Chikka Commissioned 24.75
56 Venika Green Power Pvt. Ltd. XS Malligere Commissioned 0.75
57 Vijayalakshmi Hydro Power P Ltd (2) NULL Hebbakavadi Commissioned 1.75
58 Vijayalakshmi Hydro Power P Ltd (3) Hebbakavadi Allotted 1.25
59 West Mountain Power Ltd. West Mountain Shimsha Kaveri Confluence SHP Allotted 24
60 XS Hydro Energy Pvt. Ltd. XS Commissioned 24.75
61 Yuken India Ltd. Attigala Allotted 0.35
62 Zen Power Pvt. Ltd. KGK Paschim vahini  Allotted 0.5
 TOTAL  361.47 MW