SYNOPSIS: Everyone concerned agrees that India is facing unprecedented and worsening water crisis. Some of the key aspects of water sector challenges include: Lack of reliable water information, need for restructuring of institutions, groundwater lifeline in distress, politicians and institutions pushing more large dams when evidence shows they do not work, the need for attention to maintenance of massive water infrastructure, the increasing footprint of Urban water sector, State of our rivers in general and Ganga in particular, water management for agriculture, governance and changing climate, among others. Unfortunately, these challenges do not seem to get reflected as electoral issues and all parties are equally to be blamed for this. The current Union government has very poor report card on almost every one of the water sector challenges, and its seems like a series of missed opportunities.
Guest Blog by Manoj Misra
Allowing Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand (formerly Prof. GD Agarwal) to die unheard is perhaps the most tragic but not the only serious faux pas committed by Prime Minister Modi and his team in the matter of Ganga rejuvenation. It was actually the culmination of a series of missteps that began early in his tenure.
It can reasonably be presumed that candidate Modi was sincere and serious when he made those famous statements at Varanasi during his campaign (and even later) regarding Ganga rejuvenation. They seemed straight from his heart and seemed to be convincing to many. Everybody thought, “Here is a Prime Minister, who does not – contrary to his predecessor – need goading to make all the right noises”. Hopefully these noises shall result into right actions as well. So much so that Swami Sanand waited almost four years before making his discomfort on lack of any worthwhile progress on Ganga rejuvenation known directly to the Prime Minister. He wrote a number of letters before and after embarking (beginning 22 June 2018) on his legendary 111 day fast that ultimately led to his martyrdom on 11 Oct 2018.
The central theme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji’s 40 minutes speeach at Himalayan pilgrimage centre of Kedarnath in Uttarakhand on Oct 21, 2017[i], was that we need to come out of the shadow of a disaster. It was to chart out new design, development and reconstruction of the temple, the road, the banks of River Mandakini and its tributary Saraswati and the memorial of Shankaracharya. The reconstruction was required since the disaster had destroyed all this and more. Continue reading “Prime Minister Modi at Kedarnath: What was said; what was left unsaid”
As per the Daily Status Reports of Narmada Control Authority[iv], inflow into SSP Dam suddenly jumped from 495 cumecs (Cubic Meters per second) on Sept 12, to 2518 cumecs on Sept 13, 2383 cumecs on Sept 14 and 2210 cumecs on Sept 15, 2384 cumecs on Sept 16, in anticipation of the birthday, so that when Narendrabhai visits the dam site to formally declare the project complete, the reservoir is seen to have substantial water. Expectedly, SSP water level rose from 126.19 m to 128.5 m by 8 am on Sept 15. How was this made possible?
Madhya Pradesh depletes its water storage so that SSP looks full on Sept 17? The increased inflow into SSP was made possible only by increased outflow from upstream Madhya Pradesh dams like Indira Sagar Project (ISP) on Narmada. ISP, incidentally is India’s largest reservoir in terms of storage capacity.
So the ISP storage level which was already very low (about 33%) on Sept 11 with monsoon almost coming to close, was depleted by further 450 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) from Sept 11 to Sept 16 (date for which latest information is available), while SSP water level rose by 750 MCM during the same period. All this, so that water level at SSP could look more respectable on Sept 17. Its not known why Madhya Pradesh is ready to lose water from its low storage levels (in fact, the water level at Omkareshwar Project on Narmada is below Minimum Draw Down level throughout this period).
Will Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and MP Govt be held accountable for this by the media, judiciary and the people?
Sept 17, happens to be birthday for India’s Prime Minister Naredrabhai Modi. We join the Nation in wishing him Happy Birthday.
But the Prime Minister has also decided to celebrate his 2017 birthday by declaring completion of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), as several media reports announced[i]. To achieve this, the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam are closed. The reservoir behind the dam is being filled up to raise water level that was so far at maximum of 121.92 m, to Full Reservoir Level of 138.68 m. This will lead to submergence and displacement of habitat of over 40 000 families of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, when their rehabilitation, as required by law, has not happened. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Narendrabhai. But why drown the Narmada Valley this day?”
On conclusion of five month long Narmada Sewa Yatra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is today ( May 15, 2017) launching a road-map for steps to be taken for the conservation of the Narmada river. The MP state assembly has also recently declared river Narmada a living entity. Even otherwise quiet on rivers environment minister Anil Madhav Dave has expressed concerns for Narmada.
Contrary to all this, the Central Govt and 3 states of MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat have begun a process towards sanctioning completion of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, with closure of the 17 meters high gates. It is a countdown towards impounding waters in the 214 km land stretch where more than 40,000 families are residing till date. There are standing crops and massive plantations; thousands of pakka houses, schools, other public and private services erected; hundreds of temples, tens of mosques (as opposed to three temples claimed by the authorities), adivasi gods and worship places, all of which will be submerged. In protest thousands of people from Narmada valley, to be affected by Sardar Sarovar Project created a Human Chain on the borders of living village communities and on the banks of the river, protesting against any decision to close the dam gates.
Even as the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has been sanctioning cascades of hydropower projects on here-to free flowing rivers in the Himalaya and North East India, Cumulative Assessment of the Impacts of these projects became a crucial area of concern. Over 70 dams are planned one after other for the rivers of the Upper Ganga Basin, 44 dams across the Siang Basin in Arunachal Pradesh famed for its pristine forests and biodiversity, 12 dams across the Lohit Basin, 19 for Subansiri basin. These are bumper to bumper projects, one starting where the other ends. Continue reading “Cumulative Impact Assessment documents not in public domain anymore? Letter to MoEF and CC”
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Maiden Full year budget presented to the Parliament on Feb 28, 2015 invited a lot of hype. Let us see what his statement of account for the 2015-16 has in store for rivers, environment, Himalayas, farmers, Climate Victims or sustainable water resources development. Continue reading “India Budget 2015: Is there any hope for rivers, environment or farmers?”
Guest Blog by: Chicu Lokgariwar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We have a Prime Minister who, his colleagues claim, is the new Bhagirath. And possibly for the first time, Prime Minister himself called a meeting of ministers and officials on Ganga on January 6, 2015. That possibly seems to indicate that Ganga is government priority. However, their dependence on IIT Consortium to deliver a plan for this does seem to hold much hope for the River.