(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” →
(Feature Image: On April 29, thousands of Pune citizens join Chipko Andolan against the planned cutting of over 7,000 trees for the Mula Mutha Riverfront Development (RFD) project. Image Credit: Rahul Deshmukh, Source: Pune Mirror.)
It is heartening to see thousands of Pune citizens out on the streets over the last two weeks protesting against felling of thousands of trees for the destructive Mula Mutha River Front Development Project. The project will destroy the best biodiversity habitat along the rivers in Pune, fell thousands of trees, encroach on riverbeds and floodplains, destroy bird migration corridor, and create fresh flood hazards for the city, which will further worsen in changing climate.
We hope this protests continue and intensify till the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Maharashtra government wakes up and scraps the project and instead, uses the scarce available resources for protecting and rejuvenating the water bodies and biodiversity in Pune in collaboration with the people of Pune.
Continue reading “DRP NB 080523: Pune citizens Oppose River Front Development Project” →
(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?” →
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:-Vyasi HEP dam reservoir on Yamuna river in Dehradun. Credit: Varsha Singh/Third Pole, Jan. 2022)
In a landmark move, United States Environment Protection Agency has started reporting methane emissions from dams and hydropower projects in its annual reporting to UN in 2022. It needs to go a step further and make it mandatory for all dams and hydropower projects to annually report such emissions on their websites. This will not only help clear the mistaken notion that hydropower projects are climate friendly, it will also help take right policy measures and project construction or decommissioning decisions. It will also lead to more scientific accounting of global warming causing emissions. It will also give the consumer right picture about GHG emissions from such projects when they look at options for electricity supply. There is a lot that India and rest of the world that needs to learn from this and implement on urgent basis as US EPA seems to be the first agency to do this.
Continue reading “DRP NB 200223: US EPA starts reporting methane emissions from dams” →
After four years (SW Monsoons of 2019 [110.4%], 2020 [108.74% compared to normal rainfall], 2021 [99.3% or almost normal rainfall], 2022 [106.5%]) of normal or surplus monsoon rainfall, SW Monsoon 2023 could face rainfall deficit and uncertainties as per US Govt weather agency NOAA and also India’s IMD. El Nino conditions are many times associated with poor monsoon rainfall in India. Since SW Monsoon provides more than 75% of total annual rainfall of India, this can be critical for India. The shift from particularly prolonged La Nina conditions to El Nino conditions should be a warning sign for India. IMD DG has said that the department will come out with an update on Feb 28, which should be sufficient advance notice to take necessary steps to tackle its possible impacts on upcoming Summer and SW Monsoon. We hope the government is ready to take the necessary steps to tackle any eventuality.
Continue reading “DRP NB 130223: El Nino set to endanger 2023 SW Monsoon rains” →
The Supreme Court of India, while disposing of a petition related Chandigarh, in its order on January 10, 2023 has said: “Before we part with this judgement, we observe that it is high time that the legislature, executive, and the policymakers at the centre and state levels take note of the damages to the environment on account of haphazard development and take a call to take necessary measures to ensure that the development does not damage the environment… We therefore appeal to the Legislature, the Executive and the Policy Makers at the Centre as well as at the State levels to make necessary provisions for carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment studies before permitting urban development.”
This is most welcome. And urgently required. That India’s urban development is happening at the cost of life sustaining environment resources including rivers, water bodies, forests, wetlands among others is well known. That the government sees all requirements of environmental scrutiny as road blocks is also well known. The consequences of this are clear for all concerned, not only in case of Bangalore as cited by the Supreme Court Bench, but also in case of Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Ernakulam, Faridabad, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Indore, Joshimath, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and so on. So is there a good chance that the apex court suggestion will be followed either in letter or in spirit? Unlikely. So what is clearly required is that the apex court emphatically directs the centre and states in this regard and follows it up with ensuring its implementation.
Continue reading “DRP NB 160123: Top Court appeals for EIAs for Urban Development: Welcome, but…” →
According to this detailed report, possibly the first independent review of the Atal Bhujal Yojana, a 5-year program of the Union govt for management of groundwater, India’s water lifeline, with over half of the project period completed, seems bereft of the fundamental aspects that the scheme itself says are necessary for any sound foundation of the scheme. The review describes it as a dish full of chaff, without almost any kernels of wheat for some sound reasons. It says hardly 18% of allocated money has been spent on Gram Panchayat level community-led Water Security Plan. Only 4% of the planned Gram Panchayat level trainings have been held, with Gujarat and Haryana holding none. Only 27% of money allocated for Gram Panchayat level Hydrogeological monitoring network has been spent. The data gathering instruments that were required from the beginning of the program have not been installed in over half the planned locations. On Information, Education and Communication activities, only 16% of allocated amount is spent.
More detailed independent review of the program implementation will help, but from the available information so far, the signs do not look particularly promising. Is it due to ineptness or lack of intention? Only time will tell.
Continue reading “DRP NB 090123: Atal Bhujal Yojana just chaff without any wheat?” →
(Feature Image:-River Ken inside Panna National Park from River Stories, Walking Across India-I by Siddharth Agarwal)
This is the first DRP bulletin of 2023 and we would like to begin on a positive note. But to remain grounded in reality we also need to look back at the events in 2022. We see a number of positives in 2022 and we hope that trend continues. The number of new dams and hydropower projects being started has remained on a declining trend. People and civil society has continued its protests against destructive projects and for more decentralised projects and governance.
Continue reading “DRP NB 020123: Looking Back to Look forward to 2023” →
(Feature Image: 1772 Mw PSHPs Spain. Photo courtesy of Iberdrola/ ENR)
The question marks over viability of huge number of pump storage hydro projects (PSHP) being pushed forward in India currently were flowing in the rivers for long. This week, Moody’s investors Service (MIS) seems to have strengthened this after it downgraded Greenko Energy Holdings’ corporate family rating. It may be noted that Greenko is the biggest investor in PSHPs in India from private sector and a major part of Greenko’s new investments are in PSHP.
This makes the implications of MIS’s downgrade all the more interesting. MIS has noted that PHSPs are capital intensive and each PHSP will generate cash flow only after at least 2-3 years of construction (in reality it can be much longer than 2-3 years, the operative phrase here is at least). It also noted that the additional debt to be raised from Greenko’s capital spending, coupled with a rising interest environment will put further pressure on “GEH’s already weak financial metrics” and that Greenko’s high financial leverage due to its substantial capital spending program will keep its financial metrics below its downgrade trigger “for an extended period of time”.
Continue reading “DRP NB 191222: Question marks over viability of pump hydro projects” →