While Bihar is again facing one of the worse floods this monsoon, one basin in Bihar that has possibly faced the maximum floods is Gandak, as a number of reports[i] have described. The floods in Gandak basin were pretty serious, as embankments along Gandak breached at multiple locations, first on western side (Gopalganj district) starting on July 23-24 night and then on Eastern side (Purbi Champaran district). The flood lead to breaking of three year old HFL (Highest Flood Level) record at Dumariaghat, 19 year old HFL record at Lalganj and most shockingly, 34 year old HFL record at Rewaghat. Continue reading “Making sense of 2020 Gandak floods”
Guest Blog by Eklavya Prasad, Megh Pyne Abhiyan
Last week, a note was in circulation, which listed few border related conflicts between India (Bihar) and Nepal (Parsa). Of the nine points mentioned in the note, seven were directly or indirectly related to either a river, or access to water, or flood protection works. Out of the seven, one issue was with regard to an old concern involving River Pandai, which has witnessed different dimension of cooperation and discord between communities across the Indo-Nepal border in Pashchim (West) Champaran and Parsa districts respectively. However, the note highlight the conflict as a recent one with a specific intent and that was explained as ‘नेपाल की करतूत : पानी रोक लिया, ताकि एसएसबी के जवान परेशान हों‘ (Nepal’s handiwork : They stopped the water to trouble the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) jawans). After having read the note, I decided to write this piece based on my own understanding and learnings (through direct interactions and personal communication in the past and references) about River Pandai and Bhikhna Thori, to provide a comprehensive perspective.
China not to alter course of rivers flowing into Nepal China has agreed not to deliberately change or cause to change the course of any trans-boundary rivers flowing into Nepal. This comes under an Agreement on the Boundary Management System reached with Nepal during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Kathmandu in October 2019. All the major rivers including the Karnali, Kali Gandaki, Budhi Gandaki, Trishuli, Sunkoshi, Bhotekoshi, Tamakoshi and Arun originate in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. Nepal as well as the northern part of India could be seriously affected if any dams or diversion projects are built in upper riparian Tibet. “Both sides shall, as far as possible, prevent the boundary rivers from changing their courses. Neither side shall deliberately change or cause to change the course of any boundary river,” states Article 7 (1) of the Agreement. Continue reading “NEPAL DRP Overview 2019”
Guest Article by Chicu Lokgariwar
“Everybody loves us Lepchas” said Tseten. He went on to explain that this affection was important to the Affected Citizens of Teesta and was a major reason that the group decided never to add violence[i] to their arsenal of techniques in their fight to save the Teesta.
The idea of non-violence being a strategic decision rather than a (purely) moral one intrigued me. I was at a meeting where several anti-dam activists from the North-Eastern states were present. As I listened to their stories, it was clear that these veterans had several lessons for those of us worried about the death of their rivers today. Each of the groups that had been compelled to fight for their rights had evolved strategies and developed tools to help them.
Sadly, the struggle against ‘development’ projects that adversely impact the lives and livelihoods of people, as well as cause irretrievable harm to the environment, continues in many places across the world. Rather than reinventing the wheel, it will be useful for young activist groups to have access to the lessons learnt by those who have preceded them. Continue reading “Fighting Destructive Dams: Lessons from the masters”
Ken Betwa river interlinking project is back to drawing board with Union water resources ministry approaching the ministry of environment and forest to relax conditions imposed as part of forest clearance accorded in May 2017 for diversion of forest in the Panna Tiger reserve (PTR).
Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) while according Stage-I clearance to the project had recommended that the project proponent and state govt should consider equivalent non-forest area (6,017 ha) adjoining to PTR from the revenue and private land and add to the PTR as a part of core/corridor (for tiger movement) with other areas or satellite core area. According to water resources ministry, they are unable to find land adjoining to PTR.
Will the forest department buckle under pressure to dilute the forest clearance conditions? http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2018/nov/25/first-river-linking-project-coming-undone-1902890.html (25 Nov. 2018)
(Feature image showing preparation of Kumbh 2019 at Prayagraj by Siddharth Agarwal of Veditum)
EDIT article in SCIENCE magazine by TUSHAR SHAH and others on Ganga: “The quickest, cheapest, and most effective way for Mr. Modi to show a less polluted Ganga by 2019 would be operating dams and barrages in the Ganga basin with the sole objective of augmenting river flows. This would be a start to controlling discharge of untreated sewage and industrial waste, which will take a long time.” http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6414/503 (2 Nov. 2018)
DOWN TO EARTH says about Ganga: “the river will continue to run as – and even more – polluted as ever… Till August 31, 2018, only a little more than a quarter of the total number of projects sanctioned under it (Namami Gange) had been completed… according to CPCB’s Water Quality Map, only five out of the 70-odd monitoring stations on the river had water that was fit for drinking; only seven had water that was fit for bathing…”
-“Down To Earth quotes a study report and CPCB data to say that the actual measured discharge of wastewater into the Ganga is 123 per cent higher than what has been estimated…”
-“Numerous hydroelectric projects on the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda have turned the upper stretches of the Ganga into ecological deserts, says the Down To Earth assessment. The baseflow amount of the river has decreased by a huge 56 per cent in 2016, as compared to the 1970s.”
– “about 180 MLD of sludge will be generated in the five Ganga Basin states (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal) when they become ODF. If proper sludge management is not done, this would invariably pollute the Ganga. What should cause further concern is that faecal sludge is a bigger pollutant than sewage – while BOD of sewage is 150-300 mg/litre, that of faecal sludge would be 15,000-30,000 mg/litre.” https://www.cseindia.org/ganga-may-not-flow-clean-in-the-near-future-says-new-analysis-9085 (30 Oct. 2018)
Meanwhile, a new CAG report reveals that almost 26 million litres of untreated sewage still flows into the Ganga every day in Uttarakhand. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/uttarakhand-has-failed-to-rejuvenate-the-ganga-through-namami-gange-62027 (2 Nov. 2018)
A new surge in the developmental interventions in the rivers in India is seen with the implementation of National Inland Waterways Act, 2016. Under this Act, 138 stretches of the rivers, creeks, backwaters, estuaries, etc. in 24 states and 2 union territories will be developed as the ‘national inland waterways’ for the transportation of huge cargo and passenger vessels. Being declared as “national” means that the control and regulation of these waterways will be in the hands of the central government and not state governments. This project of Central Government is being pushed forward with the claims of inland water transport being cost-effect, environmental friendly and safe for the transportation of hazardous goods. However, these so called benefits are neither universal nor automatic as they will be dependent on certain conditions, and will accrue if and when those conditions are met. Development of these waterways will be controlled and regulated by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI). Continue reading “National Inland Waterways in Bihar: Viable or desirable?”
India certainly urgently needs credible measures to achieve both structural and operational safety of dams. As the HINDUSTAN TIMES editorial emphasizes, we need much greater transparency, accountability and participation of independent, non government experts at every level of functioning of Dam Safety mechanism. Current Dam Safety Bill draft falls far short of that. This is also underscored by many of the news we bring in this July 16, 208 issue of DRP News Bulletin.
The Tamil Nadu CAG report, as Indian Express reports, has clearly said that the Chennai floods of Dec 2015 were majorly due to the wrong decision of dam operators to release 29000 cusecs of water for 21 hours, in violation of all safety norms, but no was punished for this wrong decision. The same has always been the case.
The Bulletin also brings the warning from, no less than Chief Minister of Assam to NEEPCO that if NEEPCO, the operator of the 405 MW Ranganadi Dam releases water from the dam without warning and when downstream areas are facing floods, they will have to bear the losses people suffer. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin,16 July 2018: Dam Safety Is Needed, Can We Depend On CWC Engineers Alone?”
In a rare event, Punjab Cabinet met to discuss water crisis on June 26, 2018. The reports before the meeting seemed to give hope that may be Punjab will look at the water crisis in a fundamental, holistic way. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/punjab-government-to-firm-up-water-conservation-plan-5233826/ (June 26, 2018)
But the cabinet ended up setting up a committee to assess the ground water situation in the state and submit a detailed proposal for water conservation.
– Punjab has the highest rate of groundwater exploitation and had on average withdrawn 28.2 million acre feet (MAF) water yearly during 2008-2013. However, the yearly average replenishment of water was only 18.9 MAF.
– 73% of Punjab’s irrigated area uses groundwater for irrigation, while only 27% uses surface water. The number of tubewells had gone up exponentially from 2 lakh in 1971 to 12.50 lakh in 2015-16, with 41% of these have water availability beyond the depth of 60 metres. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/5-member-committee-to-assess-punjab-ground-water/articleshow/64770186.cms (28 June 2018)
On occasion of International Day for Biodiversity May 22, 2018, the Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari released the report on “Status of Conservation of Select Aquatic Species” in river Ganga in New Delhi . The celebrations have been organised to mark the 25 years of coming into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity. He also inaugurated a day-long workshop organized by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the theme “Ganga and its Biodiversity: Developing a Road Map for Habitat and Species Conservation”.
A database of Ganga Praharis’, a self-motivated cadre, being created by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) was also launched by the Minister. Shri U.P. Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation said: “Ganga still has about 2,000 aquatic species.” He also pointed out that both aviralta and nirmalta of river Ganga are important and the government is committed to achieve both.