(Feature Image: Thousands form human chain along Mhadei river to celebrate #MahadaiAmchiMai festival. Source: ToI)
On May 20, 2023 when thousands of people of Goa, Rakhondars (protectors) came out to form a 7 km long human chain to save Mhadei or Mahadayi river, they were not only celebrating Goa’s unique Mahadayi River festival, but were also coming together to declare their resolve save and rejuvenate the River that is lifeline of Goa.
A large number of organizations came together, including Earthivist Collective, Goa Heritage Action Group, Save Mhadei Save Goa front, among many others. It was a unique attempt to reconnect with the river, its history, its soul. The people from all kinds of art forms and all walks of life came together in a state where the connection with the river has always been strong for the people.
One hopes their tribe multiplies and they succeed in saving the river from dam building plans and other river affecting activities. That success will provide an example and impetus for river conservation activities elsewhere too.
Continue reading “DRP NB 290523: Goa Fights to save Mahadayi River” →
(Feature Image: Waster Chest nut cultivators removing weeds from Giri Taal of Kashipur. April 2023)
As we await the onset of South West Monsoon 2023, we would like to highlight the water options stories in lead story here, that includes examples from Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chennai, among others. It is important to remember these as we need to be ready to welcome and nourish the coming annual bounty that monsoon brings.
It also reminds us the fascination our poets have for this season, particularly the wonderment that Gulzar keeps expressing. In this one of his non filmy poetry “Baarish” he warns:
“Mujhko ye fikr, ke is baar bhi sailab ka paani…
Kud ke utrega kohsahr se jab..
tod ke le jayega ye kachhe kinaare..”
Continue reading “DRP NB 220523: Water Options as we await South West Monsoon 2023” →
The following report raises three caveats regarding Ken Betwa River Link Project, among others. Firstly it urges that the substantial impact of climate change on the rivers needs to be taken into account, particularly the need for accurate hydrological assessment. It underlines that the project themselves are accelerating the climate change impact on monsoons as they are reducing freshwater flows to the oceans, which in turn has an impact on the ocean’s thermal and salinity gradients, both of which are drivers of monsoon.
Secondly, it rightly says that the impact of projects on adaptive capacity of areas like Bundelkhand needs to be taken into account. In Bundelkhand, climate adaptation can be harnessed using rain water harvesting, rejuvenation of traditional water systems, less water intensive crops and alternative agricultural practices. Thirdly, the water sharing issues that may worsen with both climate change and big projects, need to be kept in mind while taking up mega projects, particularly its impact on water and other security issues.
Continue reading “DRP NB 150523: Will the govt listen to caveats against Ken Betwa Project?” →
While the publication by the Union Jal Shakti Ministry of the first water body census of India is not only welcome but urgently required, the usefulness of the census findings will depend on the quality of the information in the report. Firstly, such a census should have been conducted in a bottom up way, starting from villages in rural areas and ward in urban areas. That way, the census findings would have not only been more reliable, but also the process would have helped create greater awareness about the water bodies and issues surrounding them.
In case of Karnataka, as the report below shows the survey by the Tank Conservation and Development Authority and Karnataka Public Land Corporation in 2021 showed the state had 40483 water bodies, whereas the Jal Shakti Ministry census of 2022 says the state has just 26994 water bodies, a huge 13489 less than the 2021 census. Clearly so many water bodies cannot disappear in a year. As some experts from Karnataka have asked, is the Jal Shakti Census a deliberate attempt to show that a much lower number of water bodies exist, allowing encroachers to go ahead to destroy water bodies not registered in the census?
Continue reading “DRP NB 010523: Water bodies census welcome, but how reliable?” →
(Feature Image: Construction works going on at Polavaram Dam site. Source: The Hans Media, May 2021)
This well substantiated report from Yale School of Environment this week shows that the end of the big dam era is approaching. The well argued report from Jacques Leslie uses the reports from UN University, International Renewable Energy Agency, Oxford University, Inclusive Development International, China, among others to show how the pace of construction of dams and hydropower projects and also pace of financing such projects have hugely reduced in recent years and decades.
Even the International Hydropower Association, sensing the change, is now advocating pump storage hydro rather than conventional hydro and that too off stream version, to complement the power from solar and wind. Emerging economics with rising cost of hydropower projects and rising cost of power from such projects compared to solar, wind (onshore and offshore) are a major reason for the massively slowing pace of new hydropower projects.
Continue reading “DRP NB 240423: The world is moving away from Big Dams: Are we?” →
(Feature Image: Stagnant waste water pools amid residential plots in Kashipur, Uttarakhand, Bhim Singh Rawat 10 April 2023)
That India’s track record in water pollution control is abysmal is self-evident. This is particularly important to note as India prepares to mark 50 years of Water Pollution Control Act enacted in 1974, next year. It was after that act that the huge institutional architecture of central and state pollution control boards and laboratories were created with huge bureaucracy. That whole institutional architecture is more known for inefficiency and corruption than for achieving any clean rivers or cleaning other water bodies. During the existence of this act the bureaucracy that came with it, the state of our rivers and water bodies have only gone worse with every passing year.
Continue reading “DRP NB 100423: Abysmal track record of water pollution control in India” →
(Feature Image: Anti dam graffiti on the wall of the civil secretariat building in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh in July 2022. Source: Social Media)
Large Hydropower projects have bleak future as number of reports this week suggest, including the following Video. The large hydro is not renewable, sustainable or green or people friendly. In fact, it is increasingly seen as invitation to disasters. Much better options exist. In the changing climate situation, the destruction that hydropower projects bring about becomes even more relevant when we need the Rivers, Forests, the biodiversity and less disaster prone options. Earlier our governments see this writing on the dam walls from across the world, better it will be for all concerned.
Continue reading “DRP NB 270323: Bleak future of Large Hydro” →
(Feature Image: Cover page of World Bank report titled What the Future Has in Store: A New Paradigm for Water Storage)
On the occasion of World Water Day 2023, the United Nation will be organizing a conference (March 22-24) in New York, USA. In its latest report the World Bank has also raised concern over decline in fresh water storages and underlined the need of a new approach for integration of built and natural water storages as a measure to adapt to climate change related water challenges and better management of water resources.
There is no doubt that large parts of the world are facing water scarcity and insecurity from existing and looming threats both from man made reasons and changing climates. Given the omnipresent & increasing shortages of cumulative storage capacity and adverse impacts of built water storages especially big reservoirs and dams; it is time global bodies like UN, World Bank, policy makers and governments at large must focus on conservation and replenishment of natural water storages, which are far better, cost effective options available to address and mitigate ever increasing and evolving climatic threats on human water security and sources.
Continue reading “DRP NB 200323: Time to Focus on Natural Water Storages” →
This week the weekly DRP bulletin brings news of increasing threats from changing climate in inherently disaster prone Himalayas. The news come from Ladakh in the NW to Nagaland in the NE, and includes Uttarakhand among others. The news is about retreating glaciers, increasing threats of Glacial Lake Outburst floods and landslides. The news also notes that factors like indiscriminate infrastructure development and lack of drainage are worsening the disaster potential of the Himalayan states. Most importantly, implicitly more than explicitly, the news reports highlight complete inattention of the regulators to these increasing threats and risks in inherently vulnerable Himalayas while considering new infrastructure projects like Highways, Railways, Hydropower projects, Dams and urbanization and also in terms of disaster management laws and practices.
It underlines that the threats and risks in the Himalayan states is also increasing due to changing rainfall patterns due to changing climate. This trinity of inherent vulnerability, changing climate and inattention to the risks of indiscriminate infrastructure projects is clearly very very dangerous, but there is little hope for any immediate change. One clear indication is the handling of the Joshimath disaster, a clear case of how not to handle communication as Dave Petley has noted. The Prime Minister’s office is sitting on the report submitted by the investigating agencies several weeks ago. Why should this report be a secret or will we get a negotiated report?
Continue reading “DRP NB 060323: India’s regulators blind to increasing threats in Himalayas” →
(Feature Image: State steps up pumped hydro storage projects amid coal crisis. Source: EQ Mag Pro/ May 2022)
On Feb 15, 2023, Union Ministry of Power issued draft guidelines for Pump Storage Projects, inviting comments from stakeholders in 15 days to the email id – firstname.lastname@example.org. The guidelines say that more Pump Storage Projects (PSPs) are required in view of increasing solar and wind power capacity connected to the grid, to stabilize the grid, store the power to make it available during non-solar and non-wind power hours and for peaking power, reactive power, etc. It describes the PSP as “clean, green, safe, and non-explosive” and “environment friendly” option. No studies or basis are provided for this sweeping conclusion.
Continue reading “DRP NB 270223: How much Pump Storage Hydro capacity is required in India?” →