(Feature Image: Graph showing annual growth in hydro power capacity in MW. Source: Rivers Without Boundaries, April 01, 2023)
The annual Renewable Statistics 2023 report from IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) says that globally, only 1.6% was added to the hydropower capacity in 2022, that too two thirds in non-democratic China. The capacity added in rest of the world outside China in 2022 was 7.3 GW, lowest figure in last 15 years. Similarly 99% of additional capacity added in pump storage projects in 2022 was in China. The report from IRENA also says that 97% of hydropower finance comes from public or government sources and private sector seems to have little enthusiasm for this sector. The projections for future painted in the report is no better. This is broadly in line with our lead story in DRP News Bulletin last week (dated March 27 2023) painting bleak future of large hydropower projects.
Continue reading “DRP NB 030423: IRENA confirms bleak future of Large Hydro globally” →
(Feature Image: Anti dam graffiti on the wall of the civil secretariat building in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh in July 2022. Source: Social Media)
Large Hydropower projects have bleak future as number of reports this week suggest, including the following Video. The large hydro is not renewable, sustainable or green or people friendly. In fact, it is increasingly seen as invitation to disasters. Much better options exist. In the changing climate situation, the destruction that hydropower projects bring about becomes even more relevant when we need the Rivers, Forests, the biodiversity and less disaster prone options. Earlier our governments see this writing on the dam walls from across the world, better it will be for all concerned.
Continue reading “DRP NB 270323: Bleak future of Large Hydro” →
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: State steps up pumped hydro storage projects amid coal crisis. Source: EQ Mag Pro/ May 2022)
On Feb 15, 2023, Union Ministry of Power issued draft guidelines for Pump Storage Projects, inviting comments from stakeholders in 15 days to the email id – email@example.com. The guidelines say that more Pump Storage Projects (PSPs) are required in view of increasing solar and wind power capacity connected to the grid, to stabilize the grid, store the power to make it available during non-solar and non-wind power hours and for peaking power, reactive power, etc. It describes the PSP as “clean, green, safe, and non-explosive” and “environment friendly” option. No studies or basis are provided for this sweeping conclusion.
Continue reading “DRP NB 270223: How much Pump Storage Hydro capacity is required in India?” →
(Feature Image: Screen shot of undated google earth image showing multiple vertical, horizontal bunds created by deep, mechanized riverbed mining across Betwa near Bheri Dariya in Sarila tehsil of Hamirpur district.)
The comparison of Sentinel satellite images dated February 20, 2023 with images of September-October 2022 reveal large scale riverbed mining operations along Betwa river at multiple sites in Jhansi, Jaluan and Hamirpur districts. The details of some of the sites is given in table below followed by the satellite imageries and time lapse animation of few sites.
Continue reading “Uttar Pradesh: Satellite Images Reveal Betwa River Ravaged by Mining” →
(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” →
(Feature Image:-Nayapakkam a lake near Chennai and a bird hotspot. 190 species have been recorded here and is a refuge for migratory harriers. https://ebird.org/hotspot/L3396760 Excavators were filling one end of the lake yesterday. Allegedly the ACS group is building an International school over it. M Yuvan, 05 Feb. 2023)
On the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2023 on Feb 2, 2023, SANDRP brought out five overviews about state of India’s wetlands. These included overview related to: 1. India’s Ramsar Wetlands 2. General overview of India’s wetlands 3. Top Ten stories about govt actions about wetlands 4. Top ten stories about judiciary actions about wetlands and 5. Positive stories about India’s wetlands. The links to the five overviews are available below.
The first thing that strikes from these overviews is that state of wetlands in India is bad, getting worse, they continue to face systemic neglect, damages, threats and govt apathy including Ramsar wetlands, which are supposed to have better protection than other wetlands, which is unfortunately not true. The nameplate of Ramsar wetland has now been given to 75 wetlands, but that provides no additional protection to them. in the name of information of Ramsar sites, there is only a combined interactive map apart from two separate pdf file links with location map and state wise listing Ramsar wetlands on Wetlands of India portal by MoEF&CC. The govt has neither prepared any concrete plan to address the threats nor has it developed credible monitoring mechanism which clearly shows it has no intention to improve the governance of these sites.
Continue reading “DRP NB 060223: Wetlands in India face damages, threats and Govt Apathy” →
The indiscriminate, mechanized riverbed mining activities are not only impacting the river eco-systems and dependent communities in multiple adverse ways, but are also damaging the river based infrastructures including road bridges, railway bridges, embankments, irrigation channels and potable water supply schemes for past many years. We have put together reports on infrastructural damages and threats due to excessive riverbed mining in India in 2022. Our 2021, 2018 reports on this topic can be seen by clicking the links.
Continue reading “2022 Riverbed Mining: 5 Bridges Collapsed, 22 Threatened” →
(Feature Image:- Upper Dibang Valley District, Arunachal Pradesh, India (Source: Wikipedia Commons/IWP)
It’s rather rare that we get a hydropower project related decision from official decision makers that can be welcomed. It has happened this week when the MoEF’s (Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change) Forest Advisory Committee declined to give forest clearance to the controversial 3097 MW Etalin Hydropower Project in Dibang sub basin of Brahmaputra basin in Arunachal Pradesh and North East India. The project was under consideration for this clearance since 2014 and finally in the meeting on Dec 27, 2022, FAC conveyed that the current proposal cannot be considered for the clearance and revised proposal may be submitted. It is not a blanket rejection of the project, but considering the history of consideration of this project in FAC, it is closest we can come to that.
It is also welcome to know that the FAC has also looked at the poor track record of compliance of conditions of earlier forest clearances for the hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh among the many reasons why the project is rejected in current form. Arunachal Pradesh may do well to improve its track record before applying for forest clearance to any new projects in the state.
This decision is also a lesson for the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects and also for MoEF itself for not even looking at the track record of compliance of the conditions of environment clearances that the EAC and MoEF give to the river valley and hydropower projects. They also never look at the implementation of the Environment Management Plans. Same is the case with the MoEF’s National Board of Wildlife.
Continue reading “DRP NB 230123: Welcome decision of FAC to deny clearance to Etalin HEP” →