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 sources: Clock wise (1) Mahseer fish/ Mongabay India, April 2022. (2) Gharials in Chambal/India Today, July 2022. (3) Gangetic dolphin/ECO NE. (4) Smooth-coated Otters in Cauvery/Round Glass, Jan. 2023.)
Indiscriminate mining of riverbeds for sand, gravel, pebbles have been rampant across the country increasingly damaging India’s rivers. The incidents of illegal sand mining, mafias, administrative actions & inactions, govt policies and court cases are routinely covered by the media. However the irreversible impacts of destructive riverbed mining operations on fresh water species and river eco-system are little understood, least explored, rarely covered by media and fails to attract the required attention from govts, judiciary and public at large.
To some extent, we have been monitoring and highlighting the loop holes in sand mining governance. As part of our annual overview, in 2022 we have complied this separate report underlining the adverse impacts of riverbed mining on rivers and on aquatic life, fresh water species including endangered gharials, dolphins, turtles, fish etc.
Continue reading “2022: Riverbed Mining Destroying Indian River Eco-system & Freshwater Species” →
(Feature image: Fish species caught in small Ramganga stream in Pauri Garhwal. Bhim Singh Rawat/SANDRP)
On the occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2022, this report by SANDRP tracks developments related to aquatic biodiversity in India over the last year. The first, second, third and fourth parts of the WFD 2022 reports covered positive reports on rivers’ fish and fishermen; mass fish deaths in rivers and emerging threats; mass fish kills in lakes, ponds in the country and issues concerning rights & livelihoods of inland & coastal fishers reported during the past one year.
Continue reading “WFD 2022: Protect Aquatic Biodiversity for Fish to prosper“ →
(Feature image: A protest by Narmada Bachao Andolan in Nov. 2006. Source: @Sripadmanthan)
On Sept 27, 2022, the Madhya Pradesh Government cancelled all contracts related to the Maheshwar Dam Project on Narmada. This massive dam on Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh upstream of Sardar Sarovar Project and downstream of the Omkareshwar Project was to be a multi-purpose project with a 400 MW hydropower component and water supply component among others. It was opposed by the people’s movement lead by Narmada Bachao Andolan for over two decades now. The project being implemented by the private textile company S Kumars showed no will or intention of taking care of the social or environment impacts of the project. Madhya Pradesh government so far was trying to push ahead with the project by hook or by crook, but finally had the sense to realise that this is going to be a massively costly affair at estimated Rs 42000 crores and the state and the people of state are only going to suffer costs and adverse impacts. The cancellation of all the contracts for the project signals a major victory of the people’s movement.
While congratulating the state government for cancelling the contracts, we would also suggest that the government needs to quickly decide about decommissioning of the dam, so that it does not pose safety risk to the people upstream and downstream and also perpetuates unnecessary adverse social and environment impacts. Earlier the dam is decommissioned, quicker will be the relief from these impacts. Moreover, the MP government should also not let the private company go scot free and all attempts should be made to recover the money spent and also penalise them for breach of the contracts. The private company should also be made to pay for the decommissioning costs.
Continue reading “DRP NB 031022: Great Victory of People: MP govt scraps all contracts related to Maheshwar Dam“ →
World Wetlands Day is celebrated on February 02 annually to highlight the importance of wetlands around the world. The theme for 2022 is Wetlands Action for People and Nature. As part of our annual overview; we have compiled here positive initiatives by individuals and groups for wetlands in India in 2021.
Continue reading “World Wetlands Day 2022: People’s Actions for Wetlands in India” →
Guest Article by Nirmala Gowda
This is time of immense grief and loss for me. Unable to face the harsh reality of my mother gasping for each breath in the ICU, I was drowning myself in work. Co-incidentally or so I think, I was working on a report analysing asphyxiation of Vrishabhavathi, Arkavathi and Cauvery rivers and suffocation of aquatic lifeforms the rivers supported. As the dissolved oxygen graph took shape, I realized : The million times I had held the dissolved oxygen meter under water to measure oxygen saturation levels across rivers was no different from the million times we plugged the oximeter to my mother’s forefinger to check for oxygen saturation levels. The realization that the very element my mother was gasping for, is the very element the rivers have long been gasping for – Oxygen and this pushed me deeper into a state of despair.
Continue reading “My mother is the river. The river is my mother.” →
A new UN report released on January 21, 2021 UN has warned the major big dam owning counties about the aging population of fast silting up dams in changing climate and urgent need to start working on decommissioning of uneconomical large dams. Among the few countries that UN has warned includes India with its third largest number of big dams. The added problem in India is the ill maintained and ill operated large dams that UN report did not look into. Indian dams are sanctioned based on highly under estimated siltation rates, there is practically no transparency and accountability in operation of Indian dams and dam almost every year get away with creating avoidable flood disasters. This latest problem is not just related to old dams, but even the newest celebrated ones like the Sardar Sarovar Dam as happened in Gujarat in late August-early Sept 2020. No legal regime exists in India for dam safety, either structural safety or operational safety. And in changing climate, with increasing frequency of higher intensity rainfall events, such risks are already increasing multi-fold.
Continue reading “DRP NB 25 Jan. 2021: UN warns about aging Dams & Floods in changing climate” →
The World Rivers Day[i] (WRD) is celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of September. The event strives to highlight the invaluable ecological, hydrological services and cultural, recreational values offered by the rivers. Indeed, the most of the once wild, scenic, free flowing rivers across the globe are facing existential crisis on account of various anthropogenic activities hastened over the past century.
However, there are small but significant steps being undertaken by individuals, organizations and governments to restore some of the flowing eco-systems. This account attempts to compile some such positive developments that have taken place in the one year.
We have already published a compilation of the positive river stories of India on the occasion of International Day of Actions for Rivers being held on March 14 2020. In addition to Indian rivers, this compilation also covers some remarkable development concerning river conservation worldwide. There could be many more stories and developments happening, we invite readers to send us such stories they know about.
Continue reading “World Rivers Day 2020: Celebrating Rivers across the world” →
Above: A fisherman on his traditional mango-wood canoe in Goa. (Photo: Atul Borker)
Guest Blog by Atul Borker, with Salil Chaturvedi
My deep engagement with Goan rivers began almost half a decade ago, when I started researching otters in the state. In this short span of time, an otter’s life has seen its ups and downs, and I don’t mean the daily rise and fall of tides that are critical to wildlife adapted to the mangroves!
Though Goa is the smallest state of India, it is blessed with as many as nine rivers. A unique aspect of Goan rivers is that they are tidal as well as rain-fed. During the monsoon months (June-September), water is drained out of the watershed through the rivers and into the sea. At the same time, the rivers experience a daily tidal influx upto 40 kilometers inland. The salinity of the rivers varies sharply between the monsoon and non-monsoon seasons, and so does the physico-chemical quality of the water. Needless to say, the people and the wildlife along the banks are highly attuned to these seasonal (and diurnal) changes, and the shy and elusive otter is one such animal. Continue reading “How much longer will Goa remain Otter Worthy?” →