Chenab · Jammu and Kashmir

Massive Kwar and Kiru HEPs on Chenab, J and K : Poor quality & cut paste EIAs, flawed public hearing

It seems we do not want to learn any lessons from the massive Uttarakhand disaster of June 2013. Two more huge capacity hydropower projects have been submitted to the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) for grant of Environmental Clearance (EC) with very poor quality Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (EIA) reports.

EIA reports of Kiru Hydro Electric Project (HEP) (660MW) and Kwar HEP (560 MW) proposed in Kishtwar district, Jammu and Kashmir by Chenab Valley Power Projects Ltd. (CVPP) were submitted to the EAC for River for its 74th meeting held on 5-6 May, 2014 for grant of EC. The projects are run-of-river schemes proposed on river Chenab as a part of cascade development of Chenab basin.

Vicinity Map

Vicinity Map (Source Kiru EIA Report)

 Partial map of Hydro Electric Projects on Chenab river basin

Partial Map of Commissioned and Proposed HEPs in Chenab River Basin (Map by SANDRP)

 

Chenab basin may have one of the highest concentrations of hydropower projects among all basins in India[1]. The basin has over 60 HEPs under various stages of planning, construction and commissioning in states of Himachal Pradesh (HP) and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

While 49 of these projects are planned or under construction in Chenab in HP, 28 projects of combined generation capacity of 5,800 MW are at an advanced stage of obtaining (Environment Ministry) clearances[2]. State of J&K has 13 projects planned of total capacity 8,623 to 8,923 MW. These consist of at least four operational projects (of total 1563.8 MW), three under construction projects (of 1450.5 MW) and six proposed projects (of 5608.7 MW).

Table 1: Cascade Development of Chenab Basin

Source: EIA report of Kiru & Kwar

Sr. No. Scheme River Capacity
1 Salal (Stage- I & II) Chenab 690 MW
2 Sawalkot Chenab 1856 MW
3 Baglhar (Stage-I & II) Chenab 900 MW
4 Shamnot Chenab 370 MW
5 Ratle Chenab 850 MW
6 Dulhasti Chenab 390 MW
7 Kwar Chenab 560 MW
8 Kiru Chenab 660 MW
9 Kirthai-I Chenab 350 MW
10 Kirthai-II Chenab 990 MW
11 Barinium Chenab 240 MW

Himalayan ecosystem, of which the Chenab river basin is a part, is known to be geologically fragile. Cascade of hydel projects proposed on the river basins of this region would make the region even more vulnerable to extreme and erratic weather events, which will increase in changing climate. This has already been witnessed during Uttarakhand disaster of June 2013. Expert Body (EB) headed by Dr Ravi Chopra recently has officially acknowledged this connection in the report submitted to MoEF[3]. In light of this, a thorough impact assessment of all the proposed hydro power projects in this region is thus of critical importance. Various organizations and experts including SANDRP have repeatedly highlighted the fact that Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) of all the proposed, under construction and operational projects and carrying capacity assessment (CCA) of the river basin to see if it can support the massive number of HEPs in safe and sustainable way is one of the first steps before considering clearances to HEPs in this region. Without such a study, considering any hydropower project in the basin will be an invitation to disaster[4].

Even though the MoEF sanctioned TORs for cumulative impact assessments of the HEPs on Chenab in HP in February 2012, this critical task was entrusted to the Directorate of Energy, Government of Himachal Pradesh. This is a clear case of conflict of interest. Further the project specific ECs were delinked from the CIAs[5].

More importantly, no such study has been initiated in Chenab basin in J&K or in the Chenab basin as a whole. State of Jammu and Kashmir is not even considering CIA of HEPs on Chenab in the state as MoEF has not asked for it yet. CIA of the entire Chenab basin including HP and J&K is not being considered, which itself is violating MoEFs Office Memorandum dated May 28 2013. The OM states that all states were to initiate carrying capacity studies within three months from the date of the OM No. J-11013/I/2013-IA-I. Since this has not happened in case of Chanab basin in J&K, considering any more projects in the basin for Environmental clearance will be in violation of the MoEF OM.

On Cumulative Impact Assessment, the OM said, “While, first project in a basin could come up without insisting on cumulative impact study, for all subsequent hydro-power projects in the basin, it should be incumbent on the developer of second/ other project(s) to incorporate all possible and potential impacts of the other project (s) in the basin to get a cumulative impact assessment done.” The EIA of both the projects does not include the cumulative impacts.

MoEF continues to give clearances to individual HEP projects despite of poor quality Project Feasibility Reports (PFRs) and EIA reports submitted for appraisal. Kiru & Kwar EIA reports are a classic example of such poorly conducted EIAs. The EIAs demonstrate several serious issues across various stages from TOR non-compliance, non assessment of impacts, cut and paste job, lack of any references, faulty public hearings, the issued raised at public hearings have not been addressed in EIAs, as statutorily required. SANDRP recently made detailed submissions to EAC highlighting these issues for both the projects. Some highlights below:

Copy paste job while preparing EIA reports Both the reports are prepared by a consortium of RS Envirolink Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (Gurgaon) and Jammu University. Kiru EIA report demonstrates a casual approach towards impact prediction and proposing mitigation measures in EMP. The report also misses out on a number of important aspects of EIA like impact of construction activities on geology, flora fauna, impact of climate change, cumulative impacts of cascade development in Chenab basin etc. While Kiru EIA is inadequate on several fronts it was utterly shocking to discover that Kwar EIA report is a complete replica of the Kiru EIA Report. Entire text, save project specific numbers, remains the same in both reports, to the extent that the Kwar EIA report mentions Kiru instead of Kwar at several places!! The impact prediction for both the cases is so vague and generic that the changes in numbers for project-specific details like proposed installed capacity, submergence of reservoir, FRL, head race tunnels etc. do not reflect at all in the reports!

Brief Project Profiles Kiru H.E. Project and Kwar H.E. Project are run-of-river schemes proposed on river Chenab located in the district Kishtwar of J&K.

Kiru HEP envisages the construction of a 193 m long and 123 m high concrete gravity dam above the river bed across river Chenab at village Kiru with four intake, four pressure shafts, an underground powerhouse of 4 units of 165 MW each. Impoundment will cover an area of 1.03 Km extending 6.5 km upstream of dam. The average river bed level at the dam site is about EL 1394 m corresponding to an FRL of 1515 m, the gross storage of the reservoir is 41.50 Mcum and area under submergence is 1.03 Km.

Proposed dam site for Kiru HEP

Proposed dam site for Kiru HEP(Source Kiru EIA Report)

 Kwar HEP envisages construction of a concrete gravity dam 101 m high from river bed across river Chenab at village Padyarna, four number intakes, four pressure shafts, an underground powerhouse to accommodate 4 units of 140 MW each and two number tail race tunnel. FRL of reservoir is proposed at EI 1385M. Gross storage of the reservoir at FRL is 27.167 Mcum. The reservoir will submerge an area of about 0.8 Sq. Km at FRL.

Proposed dam site for Kwar HEP

Proposed dam site for Kwar HEP (Source Kwar EIA Report)

 TOR non-compliance First and foremost glaring issue about the proposed projects is the non-compliance with the TORs (Terms of Reference) laid down for conducting the EIA. These TORs were granted by MoEF. We have listed here only an indicative list of non compliance below, not an exhaustive one.

Kiru HEP The TOR clearance letter was issued for Kiru project on Sept 9, 2008, the TORs are valid for a period of 3 years, but the project developer never came back for extension of the TOR on expiry of 3 year period and has come now for EC over 5.5 years after the TOR clearance. Thus the TOR clearance is no longer valid for Kiru HEP as per the law. Also originally the TOR clearance for Kiru was given for 600 MW installed capacity. The EIA however has been conducted for 660 MW capacity. No permission was sought by the PP for this increased capacity.

Kwar project has undergone several changes since the grant of TOR on 17 March 2010. Table given below compares some of these changes. First and foremost alteration has been in the proposed total power generation. While the TORs were granted for 520 MW the EIA has been conducted for 560 MW. Number of affected families goes up by 160% and project cost escalates by 29%. The TORs were granted for over four years back and the project authority never got back to EAC/MoEF for renewal of the TOR as other projects do. Thus the TORs granted originally do not remain valid in this case too.

Table 2: Changes in the scope of Kwar project after grant of TOR on 17 March 2010
Sr. No. Parameter Scope at the time of TOR clearance Current scope of the Proposed Project
1 Total power Generation 520MW 560 MW
2 Land requirement 5 Ha Government land 93.66 Ha Government land
3 Power House Units 4 x 130 MW (4 x 140MW)
4 Affected families 35 91
5 Project Cost Rs 3386.11 Cr Rs. 4375.50 Crores at Jan’2012 PL

Casual approach towards impact prediction

 Kwar EIA copy pasted from Kiru EIA report: It is evident that the EIA consultants have done nothing but copy paste job while preparing Kwar EIA report. At certain places Kwar report mentions ‘Kiru’ instead of Kwar. See for example point number 1.7 in Index of Kwar EIA mentions ‘Need of the Kiru HE project’ instead of Kwar and point number 4.4 mentions ‘Basin characteristics of free draining area of Kiru HEP’ (p.3 & p.6 of the document). Page 28 of Kwar EIA states that “The case for forest clearance of Kiru HE Project for diversion of 29.75 ha of forest land has been approved in the 81st meeting of J&K State Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) held on 09.12.2013…”

Other than very project specific figures, the entire text for both the reports is exactly the same. Impact prediction is the heart of an EIA study. However in Kwar EIA report an important chapter like Chapter 8- “Identification, Prediction and Evaluation of Environmental Impacts” is also copy pasted. The text of the chapter is same as that of Chapter 8 from Kiru EIA report save the project specific numbers and their description. The impacts predicted are vague and are conveniently kept the same in both the reports. It is clear that no real field work or application of mind is done. Such an EIA study defeats the basic purpose of conducting an EIA.

Impact of construction activities: The Kiru project involves a reservoir of live storage 10.5 MCM, a concrete dam on height (from river bed) 123.0 M & length 193 M, construction of 4 head race tunnels (of 7 m dia and 165 to 190 m length each) for discharging the water to an underground powerhouse of 4 units of 165 MW each. The project also envisages 33.4 Lakh CuM of construction material required from the project site.

The Kwar project involves construction of 101 m (above river bed)/ 109 m (above deepest foundation) high concrete gravity dam, Underground power house complex of four units of 140 MW each, Two concrete lined 9.5 m internal diameter main tailrace tunnels (having length of 2676 m and 2883 m) amongst several other features like four 5.65 m internal diameter main pressure shafts (each with a length of 108-182 m), etc. The project also envisages 38.36 Lakh CuM of construction material required from the project site.

View of Naigarh Nala Rock Quarry at Kwar Dam site

View of Naigarh Nala Rock Quarry at Kwar Dam site (Source Kwar EIA Report)

 All these activities will have significant impact on the geology and hydrology of the region. However no significant assessment or quantification of these impacts in terms of change in drainage patterns, springs in the project area, increased thereat of landslides, seismic activities has been carried out.

While talking about the impact of construction activities, the only impact of these two EIAs discussed in the chapter is ‘muck generation’. It does not mention impacts of tunneling and blasting involved in construction and also does not talk about its impact on fragile geology and hydrology of Himalayan region at all[6]. While talking about quarrying activities in the same chapter it states only two impacts viz. visual impacts and noise generation[7]. Impacts on landslides have been randomly dismissed stating that the sliding activity may not be significantly induced by project construction activities[8]. The reports trivialize the impacts on migratory fish Mahseer by stating that the upstream migration of this fish from the lower reached of the Chenab River have already been blocked by Salal and Baglihar, Dul Hasti dams. Thus they conclude that impact of this project on this fish species is not expected to be significant[9]. Option for fish ladder and fish lift has been ruled out for both the projects stating that it is not techno-economically feasible at the project site. Development of a hatchery at the project site has been proposed instead. The impact of the project on all the fish available in the river should have been assessed based on baseline assessment of the fisheries in Chenab River, which is not done. Secondly, there is no credible evidence to show that hatchery as a management option is useful or effective.

Left Bank slide for Kiru Project downstream of Ludrari Nala

Left Bank slide for Kiru Project downstream of Ludrari Nala (Source Kiru EIA Report)

 Right Bank slide for Kiru Project about 16 km downstream of Gulab Gargh

Right Bank slide for Kiru Project about 16 km downstream of Gulab Gargh (Source Kiru EIA Report)

 

The southern boundary of the Kishtwar National Park is approximately at an aerial distance of 11 km away from the proposed project, it is claimed, but this needs to be independently assessed. Also, just because it lies outside the boundary of study area which is radius of 10 KM, the EIA does not consider the impacts on this national park at all! EIA reports for both Kiru and Kwar HEPs simply state that the proposed activities shall have no impact on the National park[10].

Biodiversity at Kishwar National Park I

Biodiversity at Kishtwar National Park (Photo: Travel Places[11] & Beauty Spots of India[12])

 Several Important aspects of EIA are missing

No mention of free flowing river stretch: There is no mention of what is the flowing river stretch upstream and downstream of the project. As is clear from the EIA, the elevation difference between FRL of Kiru HEP (1515 m) and TWL of upstream Kirthan II (1526.5 m) is just 11.5 m. The elevation difference between TWL of Kiru HEP (1388 m) and FRL of downstream Kwar HEP (1385 m) is just 3 m. Similarly the elevation difference between TWL of Kwar HEP (1270 m) and FRL of downstream Hasti HEP (1264 m) is just 6 m. However, it is not clear what the flowing river lengths in all these locations are. Unless this length is assessed and is found to be adequate for river to regain its vitality, the project should not be considered and it should be asked to change the parameters.

Environmental Flows: The Kiru EIA report states that significant downstream impacts related to the water quality, fisheries, socio-economic and aquatic biodiversity are not foreseen since toe power house is proposed downstream of the dam and tail water level is EL 1388.52 m, discharge will be less only in a “very small stretch of about 800 m”. This seems to show the ignorance of the EIA consultants about how biodiversity in a flowing, lively river like Chenab survives.

Kwar EIA report states that the water entering the reservoir will be released back to river at a distance of 2.6 KM downstream. The report claims that though there in no human activity in this stretch of 2.6 KM the aquatic life will be definitely affected, as also terrestrial biodiversity, groundwater recharge, use of river and silt flow pattern.

10% of average of lean season discharge has been prescribed to be released through the dam gates as environmental flow for both the projects. This quantity has been calculated as 9.0 cumecs based on discharge data of the river. There is no mention of environmental flows in EMP. Firstly, this is even below the norms being followed by EAC and MoEF (30% in monsoon, 20% in lean season and 25% in rest, each at 90% dependability). Secondly, the amount of E-flow required needs to be arrived at based on actual assessment, but no such assessment has been done.

Impact of peaking generation not assessed: The reports talk about advantage of hydropower in terms of ability to providing peaking power. However, when a project operates as peaking station, there are severe impacts in the downstream and also upstream (rim stability). These impacts have not been assessed, nor is it assessed how the project will perform in the cascade development it is in.

Some other important aspects of impact assessment that report misses out on are:

  • Impact of the project on disaster potential in the project area as well in the downstream due to construction and also operation at various stages, say on landslides, flash floods, etc.
  • Social and Environmental Impacts of construction and operation of the coffer dams and diversion tunnels during construction phase are not included.
  • The reports do not even mention Climate Change.Impact of climate change on the project and impact of the project on the local climate has not been assessed. No mention or attempt has been made about or to assess the impact of green house gas emissions from the project.
  • Impacts on the flood characters of the river due to this dam, what will be the changes and how these will impact downstream areas.
  • Impact of changing silt flows downstream from desilting chamber and from silt flushing in monsoon on the downstream areas not analyzed. A detail account of how the silt from the dam would be flushed out annually and what would be the impact of this in the downstream as well as on the geo morphology, erosion, stability of structures etc was not done.
  • Options Assessment is missing, this is crucial part of the EIA to establish that among all options, including non project option, the given option is the least cost and best option.

Cumulative Impacts not assessed The EIA report gives list of Major hydroelectric projects executed /under execution/ under investigation so far in the basin in J&K which are a part of Cascade Development. Kirthan HE Project (990MW with proposed FRL at 1764 m and TWL at 1526.50m) which is yet to be commissioned is proposed upstream of Kiru (660 MW with FRL at 1515M). Downstream of Kiru is Kwar HE Project (560 MW with FRL at 1385 m and TWL at 1270 m) which is yet to be appraised and Dul Hasti HE Project (390 MW with FRL at 1264 m) which is commissioned.

Impoundment of Chenab at Dul Site

Impoundment of Chenab at Dul Site (Source: Kwar EIA Report)

 Moreover, the EIA does not provide the list of hydropower projects being taken up in Chenab basin in upstream Himachal Pradesh[13]. The cumulative impacts of all such projects will be huge.

The report summarizes cumulative impacts in single sentence: “The increased pressure will include uncontrolled logging, hunting of wildlife, non-timber forest product collection, livestock husbandry, the cultivation in forest areas and forest fires.”[14]

EIA report completely misses out on the detailed analysis of cumulative impacts in terms of

  • Impacts on flora, fauna, carrying capacity, livelihoods
  • Impact of reduction in adaptive capacity of the people and area to disasters in normal circumstance AND with climate change
  • Impacts on springs and drainage pattern
  • Disaster potential of the area
  • Tunneling and blasting
  • Geological disturbance caused
  • Seismic impacts
  • Carrying capacity

Inadequate Dam Break AnalysisThe Dam break analysis does not take into account the cumulative disaster potential including existing and proposed upstream and downstream projects. The EIA report also does not include cumulative disaster management plan.

Improper Public Hearing Public hearing conducted for both the projects were flawed. Excerpts from the speeches made by the officials from J&K State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and CVPP that are noted in the public hearing report show that what these persons spoke was inappropriate, misleading and intimidating[15]. Also point wise responses to the issues raised by people at the Public Hearing are not provided in the EIA, as statutorily required. Hence even when people ask for Resettlement and Rehabilitation as per latest Act of 2013 (made effective from Jan 1, 2014), the EIA talks about National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy of 2007. The public hearing report strangely end for both projects with the officials asking those who are for the projects to raise their hands. There is no formal provision for voting for or against the project. Such public hearing should be declared null and void and fresh public hearing should be conducted.

Poor quality EIA reports that reflect pro hydro bias of the consultant EIA is the most effective tool to ensure environmental compliance in India. Needless to state that it is of critical importance. Casually predicted, unaddressed impacts and copy paste job of the Kiru and Kwar EIA reports once again highlights the poor quality of EIA reports submitted to the ministry for grant of EC. These reports decide fate of the project, of the people and environment surrounding the project site. Such quality of the report is most definitely not acceptable.

Further, an EIA report is an attempt to understand what are the adverse social and environmental impacts of a project and weather the impacts are acceptable, if the project is viable, optimal and desirable. The answer to this exercise can also include the answer that the project is not viable or desirable or acceptable. In view of this, the EIA consultant needs to be completely unbiased and should be ready to even conclude that the project is unacceptable. However, in case of the EIA consultant for the Kiru & Kwar HEP, EIA starts in very 1st chapter with a shockingly unscientific and biased statement: “Hydropower projects are dependable, renewable, economic, environmentally benign sources of energy with ability to stop and start instantaneously.” This statement is factually wrong on many counts (e.g. hydropower project is renewable or dependable or environmentally benign source of energy). It, along with whole para 1.2 also reflects the bias of the EIA consultants RS Envirolink Technologies Pvt Ltd (with Jammu University) and we urge the EAC and MoEF to reject such poor quality and biased EIAs and take other necessary steps to debar such agencies from doing any EIA or environmental studies in future.

CONCLUSION Looking at serious issues above, based on merit of the EIA reports, as well as complete cut-paste jobs, we are hopeful that the MoEF will not recommend EC for these projects. This case also highlights the importance of cumulative impact assessment in an over developed Himalayan basin. When the experience with Uttarakhand flood disaster of June 2013 is fresh, we hope that MoEF will not commit another blunder.

Amruta Pradhan, SANDRP

END NOTES:

 

[1]https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/pm-kick-starts-850-mw-ratle-project-in-jk-without-full-impact-assessment-invitation-to-another-disaster-in-chenab-basin/

[2]https://sandrp.in/hydropower/Dams_on_Chenab_How_many_are_too_many_Dec2012.pdf

[3]https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/report-of-expert-committee-on-uttarakhand-flood-disaster-role-of-heps-welcome-recommendations/

[4] Refer to SANDRP studies on Chenab

https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/pm-kick-starts-850-mw-ratle-project-in-jk-without-full-impact-assessment-invitation-to-another-disaster-in-chenab-basin/

https://sandrp.in/hydropower/Dams_on_Chenab_How_many_are_too_many_Dec2012.pdf

https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/massive-hydropower-capacity-being-developed-by-india-himalayas-cannot-take-this-onslought/

[5]https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/pm-kick-starts-850-mw-ratle-project-in-jk-without-full-impact-assessment-invitation-to-another-disaster-in-chenab-basin/

[6]p.291 of Kiru EIA Report & p.288 of Kwar EIA report

[7]p.293 of Kiru EIA Report & p.289 of Kwar EIA report

[8]p.298 of Kiru EIA Report & p.294 of Kwar EIA report

[9]p.307 of Kiru EIA Report & p.303 of Kwar EIA report

[10]p.221 of Kiru EIA Report & p.223 of Kwar EIA report

[11]http://www.4to40.com/travel/index.asp?p=Kishtwar_National_Park&state=Jammu_and_Kashmir

[12]http://beautyspotsofindia.com/kishtwar-national-park-jammu-kashmir/

[13] See for example: https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Hydro_%20Electric_Projects_in_Chenab_River_Basin.pdf

[14]P. 306 of Kiru EIA

[15]The Public hearing report of Kiru says that Shri Sajjad Mufti, Regional Director of J&K SPCB said at the public hearing, “Construction of project should not deteriorate the environment….” This is a very strange, untruthful and inappropriate statement from J&K SPCB official. Why should the official be speaking at all at the public hearing and that too make such a statement that would also affect the atmosphere of the public hearing? Similarly the statement of GM of CVPP at the public hearing, “The most viable and cleanest of all (sources of power) is hydro power” was again, wrong, intimidating and inappropriate. The statement of Shri Khursheed Ahmed Butt of CVPP, “forest clearance has already been granted to the proposed project” is incorrect since the proposal for forest clearance for the project has not even come before FAC. Such public hearing should be declared null and void and fresh public hearing should be conducted.

The Public hearing report of Kwar says that the GM of CVPP said at the public hearing, “The best source of power generation is hydro power” was wrong, intimidating and inappropriate. The statement, “forest clearance has already been granted to the proposed project” is incorrect since the proposal for forest clearance for the project has not even come before FAC.

[16] See for details and link to PCA orders: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/international-court-asks-india-to-release-more-water-and-rejects-plea-to-re-interpret-february-verdict-on-kishanganga/

International Water Issues

International Court Asks India to Release More Water and Rejects Plea to Re-interpret February Verdict on Kishanganga

PCA Final Order on India-Pakistan Kishanganga Dispute

India asked to increase environmental water releases to 212%;

India’s plea to re-interpret Feb 2013 order rejected;

Both countries asked to expand analysis & practices on e-flows

In a clear set back to Indian government stand, the Final Order of Dec 20, 2013 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)[i] has not only asked India to increase the environmental water flow downstream from the dam at all times to 9 cubic meters per second (Cumecs) from the Indian government proposal of 4.25 cumecs (an increase of 112%), the PCA has also rejected Indian government plea to reconsider or re-interpret the PCA order of Feb 2013 that the 330 MW Kishanganga Hydro Electric Power Project (KHEP) under construction and all other subsequent projects cannot draw down the water level in projects below the dead storage level. (The accompanying maps are from the PCA Award in Feb 2013.)

Kishanganga Hydro Electric Power Project Layout map
Kishanganga Hydro Electric Power Project Layout map

The dispute India’s 330 MW KHEP on Kishangana River (known as Neelum in Pakistan) in Jammu and Kashmir plans to divert the water of Kishanganga River to Bonar Nallah, which then flows to Wular lake. The overflow from Wular lake is known as Jhelum river, which then flows to Pakistan and meets Neelum River there. However, upstream from this confluence, Pakistan is building a 980 MW Neelum Jhelum HEP (NJHEP) on Kishanganga river, called Neelum in Pakistan, and diverting the water to Jhelum. Because of the diversion of water by KHEP, Pakistan fears its NJHEP will become unviable and had filed a case against India in Permanent Court of Arbitration, alleging that the KHEP was in violation of the India Pakistan Indus Water Treaty of 1960. As the official website of PCA says, “On May 17, 2010, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan instituted arbitral proceedings against the Republic of India under Paragraph 2(b) of Annexure G to the Indus Waters Treaty 1960. A Court of Arbitration composed of seven members has been constituted pursuant to Annexure G. The Permanent Court of Arbitration acts as Secretariat to the Court of Arbitration pursuant to Paragraph 15(a) of Annexure G. The Court of Arbitration is composed of: Judge Stephen M. Schwebel (Chairman), Sir Franklin Berman KCMG QC, Professor Howard S. Wheater FREng, Professor Lucius Caflisch, Professor Jan Paulsson, Judge Bruno Simma, H.E. Judge Peter Tomka”. On Feb 18, 2013, the Court gave partial award[ii], that resolved most of the issues, except that of the environment flows that India needs to release from KHEP. The Final award of Dec 20, 2013 is about the environment flows.

What India said about Environment flows “India’s experts examined the riverbed profile at 12 sites at one kilometer intervals from the KHEP to the Line of Control. At each site, India estimated the water level for minimum flows from 0 to 3 cumecs (at increments of 1 cumec), at 3.94 cumec, and from 4 to 10 cumecs (at increments of 0.25 cumecs), and replicated each calculation across the 99.99- percent, 90-percent, 75-percent, 50-percent, 25-percent and 10-percent dependable flow values. India’s experts then compared these depths to the minimum depths required by three umbrella species of fish: brown trout, snow trout and Tibetan stone loach. Based on these calculations, India’s experts conclude that: The reach between the dam and the first tributary is the most vulnerable to reductions in flow and the site at 6 km downstream show the 90th and 99.9th percentile flows as dropping below the minimum 0.5 m depth specified for brown and snow trout. However, Triplophysa [Tibetan stone loach] would have sufficient depths even with a minimum flow of 2.0 m3/s. Thus, the analysis indicates depths would drop below minimum depth requirements for trout species about 10 percent of the time in the upper 5.7-km reach below the dam. Downstream of this point, contribution of runoff from the tributaries will dilute the effects of the dam on flow regime.” (para 65) Based on this India told the court that even 2 cumecs flow would be sufficient, but they offered to release 4.25 cumecs as required by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It is not clear what is the basis for the 4.25 cumecs e-flows as mandated by MoEF.

Pakistan case on Environment FlowsPakistan had presented a more elaborate analysis of environment flow regime. The Award says about the Pakistan case: “In keeping with the DRIFT methodology and based on the predicted response of the indicators to various flow regimes, Pakistan’s experts graded the resultant ecological condition of the Kishenganga/Neelum under the 17 scenarios on a scale from A to F, ranging from pristine to critically modified. The results show that the current baseline condition of the Kishenganga/Neelum at the Line of Control is in low category B (near pristine). Various high release scenarios, for example a 20-cumec minimum flow and above, would maintain the river in category C (moderately modified from natural). Other scenarios, including a 10-cumec minimum flow, would achieve high category D conditions (significantly modified from natural), while a minimum flow of 3.94 cumecs and a maximum diversion scenario would reduce the river to low category D.” (Para 56) Pakistan concludes that between 20 and 40 cumecs flow releases should be required from KHEP. 

Kishanganga Basin Map covering both India and Pakistan
Kishanganga Basin Map covering both India and Pakistan

PCA calls India’s analysis Simplistic and unsatisfactory PCA praises Pakistan analysis: “Pakistan has undertaken a far more extensive analysis, attempting to capture complex interactions within the river ecosystem. The Court notes that assessments of this nature are increasingly used by scientists and policymakers to bring a deeper understanding of ecology to bear on the management and development of river systems.152 In contrast, India has carried out a simpler assessment, drawing its conclusions essentially from a single indicator—the habitat available for selected fish species… Nevertheless, for a project of the magnitude of the KHEP, the Court is of the view that an in-depth assessment of the type that Pakistan has attempted for these proceedings is a more appropriate tool for estimating potential changes in the downstream environment… In contrast, the Court is not wholly satisfied that India’s consideration of the water depths available for fish and its associated analysis offer adequate assurances in light of the complexity of the ecosystem in the Kishenganga/Neelum.” (Para 98, 100)

PCA unconvincingly says E-flow of 12 cumecs is required In Para 103-5 the Award concludes, “as the release falls below 12 cumecs, the lowest flows at the Line of Control progressively become the norm for a significant part of the dry season… The Court provisionally concludes that an approach that takes exclusive account of environmental considerations—assessed in the absence of other considerations—would suggest an environmental flow of some 12 cumecs… And if Pakistan’s hydro-electric uses alone were to be taken into account, moderating the KHEP’s effect on the NJHEP might entail even higher releases.” The PCA analysis as to how it reaches this conclusion is not very convincing, since this is protecting only the minimum flows and not looking at the river as an ecosystem that would require a range of flows. While KHEP may be passing occasional surpluses above 9 cumecs E-flow releases beyond what it cannot divert, but considering the 18.35 Million Cubic Meters storage capacity of the 35.48 m high dam and 58.4 cumecs capacity diversion tunnel with 23.7 km length, the quantum of release in most months in all years and almost all months in lean years will only be minimum flow prescribed by PCA.

More unconvincingly, PCA does not adhere to its own conclusions It is even more disturbing is that PCA decides not to adhere to even this 12 cumecs flow. Its reasoning for the same is equally unconvincing when it says that India has right to set up KHEP and also ensure it works effectively. This has already been concluded, but as PCA has itself stated, this right is not absolute and is subject to environment flow requirements. How can this right change the environment flow requirement remains an unanswered question. The second reason given by PCA in not adhering to this E-flow requirement is that according to Indus Treaty, considerations of customary international environmental norms and practices is secondary to the treaty. But that is not at dispute here, how can that again come in the way of determination of environment flow again remains unanswered. The arbitrary assumption that PCA has to recommend a minimum release more than half the minimum monthly release has resulted in recommendation of 9 cumecs (which is 49.1% of average dry season flow in the driest month of January). This assumption itself is  arbitrary and unjustified. The PCA does not state that KHEP will become unviable with environmental flow releases more than 9 cumecs. In this scenario, just assuming that monthly flows should not be less than 50% due to environmental flows is clearly arbitrary, unscientific and unacceptable.

PCA determination of E-flow of 9 cumecs is also unimpressive In Para 113 the Award says, “The most severe winter in the 34-year record used by both India and Pakistan to assess impacts was 1974-75. The Court notes that, based on India’s data, a minimum flow criterion of 9 cumecs at KHEP is a relatively severe criterion with respect to environmental flow, but would nevertheless be sufficient to maintain the natural flows through the December, January, February period of that winter.” Elsewhere PCA says that this flow will not protect even minimum flow in 16% of the time. It is very disappointing to note that there is no scientific reason provided in the PCA award for arriving at the conclusion that why 9 cumecs E-flow would be sufficient.

Implication of 9 cumecs on KHEP generation “Preserving a minimum flow of 9 cumecs would result in a monthly reduction in energy generation at the KHEP of, on average, 19.5 GWh from October to March… On an annual basis, the average reduction in energy generation at the KHEP would be 5.7 percent… The Court’s figures for the net and percentage reduction in energy generation are calculated as against the 4.25-cumec minimum flow ordered by the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests, which the Court takes as the baseline for its determination and for the purposes of this Award.” (para 114, footnote 165)

PCA uses minimum flows for environmental flow without providing plausible explanation It is strange that throughout the award, PCA uses the word “minimum flow” for environmental flow. It is apparent that PCA knows the difference, but the reasons it gives for this in a footnote (no 151, para 97) is rather lame: “It is only the particular characteristics of the Kishenganga/ Neelum and the fact that low-season flows appear to be the principal drivers of ecological change that permit the Court to discuss environmental flows in terms of a fixed minimum.” This is doing a lot of dis-service to the cause of environmental flows.

PCA fails to mandate the method of E-flow releases One had expected that the PCA would, beside deciding the quantum of flow releases, would also mandate the method of flow releases, including mandating well designed fish ladder and ensuring more regular sediment transport. Even as India considered only three umbrella species, 2 of these species (snow trout and brown trout) migrate in the downstream in winters. Without a fish ladder, these species will be severely affected. The PCA award says what India and Pakistan say about sediment flow, but PCA itself does not say anything about the impact of changing sediment flow on the river ecosystem. One had hoped that PCA would make it clear that India cannot make the E-flow releases through a dam tow power house as India is doing in a number of other projects. One was looking for the PCA assessment of impacts of KHEP on the 12.07 km long downstream river stretch within India, since the stretch beyond Line of Control cannot be healthy if the stretch before is not. One sought for not just the lean season flow, but a range of flow regimes, including daily changing flows in each season[iii]. The changing flood character downstream from KHEP was also expected to be assessed by the PCA as also the issue of safe operation of the project. Unfortunately, there was only disappointment on each of these counts.

There was also an expectation that the PCA would put all the submissions of both parties in public domain.

Indian media misleads the nation The actual PCA award of Dec 20, 2013 is clearly contrary to the message the Indian Media seems to be giving. For example, the front page headline of The Tribune screamed on Dec 22, 2013[iv], Kishenganga: India’s right upheld – Arbitration court rejects Pakistan objection to diversion of water for power by India in J-K (in reality, this was not the PCA decision of Dec 20, 2013, it was the decision of Feb 2013 order. The Indian Express headline[v] on the same day was equally misleading: Kishanganga: Court lets India build, operate as it wants. This again was a decision of Feb 2013, not of Dec 20, 2013. The Times of India only had one-column news buried on page 20, strangely with dateline PTI-Islamabad, saying equally misleadingly[vi]: Kishanganga project gets official nod.

Pakistan Media Pakistan’s newspaper Business Recorder on Sunday said[vii]: Kishanganga: India allowed to divert minimum flow of water: Commissioner. The Pakistan Tribune headline[viii] said: Kishanganga project: Victory claims cloud final arbitration award. They sound closer to the PCA order of Dec 20, 2013. The News headline[ix] was though off the mark:  ICA allows India to construct Kishanganga Dam.

Concluding PCA advise The PCA awards notes that Pakistan’s historical practices does not match with what it was demanding from India in case of KHEP and that India’s own analysis of downstream impacts was too simplistic and unsatisfactory. It has advised both countries to expand their analysis and practices on environment flow regime and has clearly stated that this will not be against their drive for more power generation. This is good in spite of number of disappointments of the PCA award listed above. We hope both countries heed this advice earnestly and at the earliest. We also hope the media in both countries would report this in proper perspective.

Himanshu Thakkar[x], SANDRP

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Important Extracts from PCA Final Order of Dec 20, 2013

Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based at The Hague Source: PCA website
Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based at The Hague
Source: PCA website

India’s argument: “releases from the KHEP will also reduce energy generation at India’s Uri-I and Uri-II projects on the lower Jhelum” (para 43 of PCA order of 201213)

“The average annual loss in energy generation at KHEP is the maximum in 90% Dependable Year (Dry Year) viz. about 16% [with a 10-cumec minimum release] which works out as around 32 MU per cumec… the loss being as high as 80.2% in percentage terms in the month of December corresponding to minimum release of 10 cumec.” (para 44)

“According to India, any minimum flow greater than 4.25 cumecs would seriously compromise the economic viability of the KHEP. Examining a 90-percent dependable (dry) year (on the basis of which the KHEP was designed), India submits that a minimum release of 20 cumecs would render the KHEP inoperable for three months of the year, while Pakistan’s 100-cumec release would prevent the KHEP from operating for 10 months of the year”. (para 46)

“… even this 7.2 cumec scenario would result in the KHEP being able to operate at its design discharge for only four months of the year”. (para 48)

Pakistan: “Pakistan presents its data on environmental concerns through a revised submission based on the DRIFT methodology (“Downstream Implications of Flow Transformation”) employed in its expert submissions earlier in these proceedings.86 This approach endeavours to estimate the effect of changes to the flow regime through the integrated examination of a large number of indicators related to the hydrology, sediments, hydraulics, geomorphology, water quality, vegetation, macroinvertebrates, and fish of the river” (Para 54)

“Pakistan notes that the release of 4.25 cumecs mandated by the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests “is not supported by any reasoning, either in the October 2012 decision of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests or in India’s submission.” (para 59)

“Pakistan’s experts further note that “[i]n terms of conditions that the aquatic life would face through their 30 scenarios, DHI predicts maximum depths of questionable validity; DHI predicts velocities that are not subsequently used; and DHI does not predict at all how much wetted river bed would be left for the organisms to live in… According to Pakistan, India’s experts then consider only the survival of three fish species, and only on the basis of undocumented minimum (rather than optimum) depths for each species… They do not specify the habitat needs of any other aquatic organisms. Their conclusions that a minimum depth of 0.5 m for trout and 0.25 m for loach are sufficient for survival are not supported by the data they present. Even if they are, DHI’s targeting of the lowest depths fish were found at, rather than analysing their data to produce optimum depths, is not appropriate and would not promote fish survival… India’s experts then proceed to link “maximum water depths with minimum fish depth requirements” in an approach that Pakistan’s experts consider “obscure, simplistic and misleading.” (Para 60)

India: “In approaching the question of the environmental effects of the KHEP, India first notes that the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests has fixed a minimum flow of 4.25 cumecs for the KHEP. According to India, this figure was set after a process that considers “all the relevant environmental and socio-economic factors” leading to results that vary from project to project.” (Para 62)

In the view of India’s experts, “[t]he reduction in sediment downstream of the KHEP dam resulting from sediment trapping will be minor,” and in any event “native species have evolved in a dynamic environment, in which they periodically take refuge from high mainstem sediment concentrations by migrating up tributaries.”110 Similarly, India’s experts conclude that because the KHEP has limited pondage and retains water for only a short period of time, “alteration in temperature and its impact becomes negligible.” (Para 64)

On flow regime “India’s experts examined the riverbed profile at 12 sites at one kilometer intervals from the KHEP to the Line of Control. At each site, India estimated the water level for minimum flows from 0 to 3 cumecs (at increments of 1 cumec), at 3.94 cumec, and from 4 to 10 cumecs (at increments of 0.25 cumecs), and replicated each calculation across the 99.99- percent, 90-percent, 75-percent, 50-percent, 25-percent and 10-percent dependable flow values.112 India’s experts then compared these depths to the minimum depths required by three umbrella species of fish: brown trout, snow trout and Tibetan stone loach. Based on these calculations, India’s experts conclude that: The reach between the dam and the first tributary is the most vulnerable to reductions in flow and the site at 6km downstream show the 90th and 99.9th percentile flows as dropping below the minimum 0.5 m depth specified for brown and snow trout. However, Triplophysa [Tibetan stone loach] would have sufficient depths even with a minimum flow of 2.0 m3/s. Thus, the analysis indicates depths would drop below minimum depth requirements for trout species about 10 percent of the time in the upper 5.7-km reach below the dam. Downstream of this point, contribution of runoff from the tributaries will dilute the effects of the dam on flow regime.” (para 65)

“Given these limited effects, India argues that “a minimum flow of 2.0 cumec will suffice to protect the three umbrella species in the stretch down to the LOC [Line of Control].” (para 66)

“[DRIFT] is thus designed as a planning tool, not as a normative instrument.”118 India considers DRIFT to be “inappropriate for the purposes in question here” and considers it significant that DRIFT has not been used extensively in Asia, in light of the importance of local knowledge and expertise in the analytic process” (para 68)

“As Pakistan makes use of a constant minimum flow on its own dams, India views this as the only permissible approach at the KHEP for, in its view, the Treaty limits the obligations on the Parties to “customary practices followed in similar situations” when assessing what measures must reasonably be taken (for instance, with respect to such matters as environmental pollution)… India also submits that anything other than a constant minimum flow would place excessive administrative burdens on India, which would “inevitably require India to respond to Pakistani requests to justify its measurements, calculations and actual releases.” (para 69)

On Monitoring “Pakistan therefore requests an order from the Court that the flow regime be supported by India providing to Pakistan, on a real time basis, (i) daily flow data from gauges recording the inflow into the KHEP reservoir and the outflow below the KHEP dam, as well as (ii) the reservoir level, and (iii) with regular inspections permitted to Pakistan of the gauging stations.” (Para 71)

PCA Purpose for Final Award  “As indicated in paragraphs 455-457 of the Partial Award, the purpose of this Final Award is to fix the precise rate of the minimum flow to be preserved downstream of the KHEP.” (Para 78)

“At the same time, in fixing this minimum flow, the Court must give due regard, in keeping with Paragraph 29 of Annexure G, to the customary international law requirements of avoiding or mitigating trans-boundary harm and of reconciling economic development with the protection of the environment.” (Para 87)

On Pakistan Failure “In now setting a fixed minimum flow, anticipated future agricultural uses would ordinarily feature in the Court’s determination. However, as Pakistan has not submitted even an estimate of the likely scope of such development, much less evidence upon which the Court could rely, the Court is unable to take account of such potential uses” (para 94)

On “minimum” vs “environmental” flow “It is only the particular characteristics of the Kishenganga/Neelum and the fact that low-season flows appear to be the principal drivers of ecological change that permit the Court to discuss environmental flows in terms of a fixed minimum. At the same time, because the Court’s ultimate flow determination is based not solely on the environment, but also on hydro-electric power generation as required under the Treaty, the Court’s decision fixes a “minimum flow.” Insofar as this minimum flow serves to mitigate significant environmental harm, it also serves as an environmental flow without being synonymous with that term.” (footnote 151, para 97)

On Downstream Impact Assessment “Pakistan has undertaken a far more extensive analysis, attempting to capture complex interactions within the river ecosystem. The Court notes that assessments of this nature are increasingly used by scientists and policymakers to bring a deeper understanding of ecology to bear on the management and development of river systems.152 In contrast, India has carried out a simpler assessment, drawing its conclusions essentially from a single indicator—the habitat available for selected fish species… Nevertheless, for a project of the magnitude of the KHEP, the Court is of the view that an in-depth assessment of the type that Pakistan has attempted for these proceedings is a more appropriate tool for estimating potential changes in the downstream environment… In contrast, the Court is not wholly satisfied that India’s consideration of the water depths available for fish and its associated analysis offer adequate assurances in light of the complexity of the ecosystem in the Kishenganga/Neelum.” (Para 98, 100)

Criticism of Pakistan’s practices in Env flows “The Court acknowledges India’s point that the environmental sensitivity that Pakistan urges in these proceedings does not match Pakistan’s own historical practices, where the environmental flow has often been set at a low minimum, apparently using a “rule of thumb” approach.” (Para 101)

PCA advise to both countries “With respect to the information brought to bear on decision-making, however, the Court sees no reason to remain wedded to past practices. On the contrary, more comprehensive and accurate information on the likely impacts of infrastructure projects can only benefit decision-making in both Pakistan and India. The Court urges both Parties to continue or expand their attention to environmental considerations at other projects, including the NJHEP. In the Court’s view, such an approach is consistent with the acute need of both Parties for increased production of hydro-power. Indeed, the Court’s ultimate decision on the minimum flow is informed by a deep awareness of the critical importance (and shortage) of electricity in both India and Pakistan. Meaningful development in this area need not be at odds with careful consideration of environmental effects.” (Para 101)

12 cumecs Flow Regime “For example, based on India’s 1971-2004 10-day flow estimates, under current conditions, a flow of 12 cumecs at the Line of Control represents an exceptional event, with just nine occurrences of lower 10-day flows in 34 years. As the release from the KHEP drops below 12 cumecs, however, this exceptional condition would become more common, rising to 16 percent of the time with a release of 9 cumecs, and 30 percent of the time with an 8-cumec release. In other words, as the release falls below 12 cumecs, the lowest flows at the Line of Control progressively become the norm for a significant part of the dry season… The Court provisionally concludes that an approach that takes exclusive account of environmental considerations—assessed in the absence of other considerations—would suggest an environmental flow of some 12 cumecs… And if Pakistan’s hydro-electric uses alone were to be taken into account, moderating the KHEP’s effect on the NJHEP might entail even higher releases.” (Para 103-5)

Unconvincing reason for variable release regime “Since the Parties’ data indicate that the effect of the KHEP on dry-season flows is the principal determinant of ecological change, the Court sees no reason to consider a percentage or variable release regime… This would, of course, not necessarily be the case with other river conditions, and the Court’s decision in this respect should not be interpreted to equate an environmental flow with a fixed minimum flow. Under other circumstances, in particular where the difficulties of cooperation between the multiple State bureaucracies are not present, the appropriate environmental flow could well involve a regime of variable releases.” (Para 104)

Unconvincing reason for abandoning 12 cumecs flow “First, as India correctly observes,155 the Partial Award accorded priority to the KHEP… The right to operate the KHEP is a right to operate it effectively… In balancing India’s right to operate the KHEP effectively with the needs of the downstream environment, the Court has decided that, on the basis of the evidence currently available, India should have access to at least half of the average flow at the KHEP site during the driest months. In the Court’s view, it would not be in conformity with the Treaty to fix a minimum release above half the minimum monthly average flow for the purpose of avoiding adverse effects on the NJHEP.” (Para 107-109) This is most unconvincing. As PCA order notes in next (Para 110) Para, “The Court’s Partial Award did not make the operation of the KHEP immune from environmental considerations.” Moreover, “recourse to customary international law is conditioned by Paragraph 29 of Annexure G to the Indus Waters Treaty… (thus) this (Indus) Treaty expressly limits the extent to which the Court may have recourse to, and apply, sources of law beyond the Treaty itself.” (para 111)

““States have ‘a duty to prevent, or at least mitigate’ significant harm to the environment when pursuing large-scale construction activities.” In light of this duty, the Court has no difficulty concluding that the requirement of an environmental flow (without prejudice to the level of such flow) is necessary in the application of the Treaty. At the same time,… If customary international law were applied not to circumscribe, but to negate rights expressly granted in the Treaty, this would no longer be “interpretation or application” of the Treaty but the substitution of customary law in place of the Treaty… That Paragraph 29 does not permit.” (Para 112)

“The most severe winter in the 34-year record used by both India and Pakistan to assess impacts was 1974-75. The Court notes that, based on India’s data, a minimum flow criterion of 9 cumecs at KHEP is a relatively severe criterion with respect to environmental flow, but would nevertheless be sufficient to maintain the natural flows through the December, January, February period of that winter.” (para 113)

“However, given the right of India to develop hydropower, and the associated right to operate KHEP effectively, the Court considers that a high category D (‘significantly modified from normal’) represents an appropriate balance between the needs of the environment and India’s rights for power generation.” (footnote 163- para 113)

“For the avoidance of doubt, if at any time the flow in the Kishenganga/Neelum immediately upstream of the KHEP dam is below 9 cumecs, India is only required to release an amount equivalent to 100 percent of the inflow, until such time as the flow upstream of the KHEP dam again exceeds 9 cumecs.” (footnote 166)

Implication of 9 cumecs on KHEP generation “Examining the effect that a 9-cumec minimum would have on the KHEP, the Court notes that this would, on average, accord India 51.9 percent of the flow at the KHEP dam site during the month of January, and that India’s portion of the flow would increase to more than 60 percent in November and February, and well over 75 percent in October and March. Preserving a minimum flow of 9 cumecs would result in a monthly reduction in energy generation at the KHEP of, on average, 19.5 GWh from October to March. Although such a reduction is quite significant—in percentage terms—during the driest month of January, over the dry season as a whole it would amount to a 19.2 percent average reduction in energy generation. On an annual basis, the average reduction in energy generation at the KHEP would be 5.7 percent.” (para 114) “The Court’s figures for the net and percentage reduction in energy generation are calculated as against the 4.25-cumec minimum flow ordered by the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests, which the Court takes as the baseline for its determination and for the purposes of this Award.” (footnote 165)

Climate change? “Uncertainty is also present in attempts to predict future flow conditions, and the Court is cognizant that flows in the Kishenganga/Neelum may come to differ, perhaps significantly, from the historical record as a result of factors beyond the control of either Party, including climate change.” (para 117)

Review “If, beginning seven years after the diversion of the Kishenganga/Neelum through the KHEP, either Party considers that reconsideration of the Court’s determination of the minimum flow is necessary, it will be entitled to seek such reconsideration through the Permanent Indus Commission and the mechanisms of the Treaty.” (para 119)

Compiled by SANDRP

END NOTES:


[iii] In this respect the PCA award is more backward that India’s own current environment flow regime that mandates seasonal flows and the BK Chaturvedi committee has actually asked for daily changing flows so that the releases mimic the river flow regime.

[x] Thanks to Shripad Dharmadhikary and Parineeta Dandekar for providing comments on earlier drafts of this.