The outgoing year 2020 is likely to be remembered as Corona year as Covid 19 pandemic has been the most influential aspect of the year. However, there have been many positives of the outgoing year. We identify five biggest positives as we see them.
Firstly, the complete lockdown that we experienced during March-April 2020, to slow down the spread of the Covid 19 infection showed, among many other things that it is indeed possible to clean up our rivers and also indicated the way forward: tackle industrial pollution. Unfortunately, those clear lessons have not been learnt by the government, its been busy in ease of doing business, not even understanding that in changing climate, clean rivers are going to be a major resource that will help people adapt.
The second notable positive was the major across the country protests, particularly from the younger generation against the government’s attempt to bulldoze the completely anti- environment amendment to the EIA notification. The protests along with the judicial orders have so far stopped the amendment from getting implementation. The government will do well to abandon any attempt to push them.
Similar to the protests against amendments to EIA notification were the protests against trying to bulldoze the massive Etalin Hydropower project in Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, at the cost of lakhs of trees and biodiversity rich forest and river and against the wishes of the people of Arunachal Pradesh and North East India. Here again it was good to see that the campaign has so far been successful.
India Rivers Week 2020 organised Zonal and National dialogues on river sand mining in India, in which large number of groups and stakeholders from across the country participated and has created a new wave of awareness and energy on this very important but so far largely ignored issue. We are hopeful that this energy will lead to change in governance of river sand mining in India.
Continue reading “DRP NB 28 Dec. 2020: Five Positives of outgoing Corona year”
This is remarkable, first of its kind of development where the citizens of the city have come together to expose the illegal River sand mining in the Pune City in the middle of the night. They alerted the police, who did take action, caught one of the culprits along with Poclain machine. The rest of the machines, which too should have been guarded, were taken away by the miners after police left, it seems. Salutes to all the citizens involved including Vaishali Patkar and Pushkar Kulkarni and their supporting organisations including Jeevit Nadi, Aundh Vikas Mandal.
It is only when citizens come together in this way that there is any possibility of stopping the menace of illegal sand mining and other menace affecting our rivers. Kudos to the Pune Citizens to show the way for the rest of the country too and hope such collective efforts by the Pune citizens will continue to show the way forward for all concerned.
The prompt action by the Pune police also should be appreciated and one only hopes the police will investigate the case professionally and produce a strong legal case, apply all the relevant sections of IPC, Environment Protection Act and Mines and Minerals Development Act, all the government department will play their role and bring everyone guilty to book with exemplary punishment. Pune citizens will surely keep a watch on this.
Continue reading “DRP NB 23 Nov 2020: Pune Citizens Expose illegal River Sand Mining in Pune City”
Nature in Focus features India’s 12 water heroes. This is an interesting exercise. We also add some interesting stories from this week that should possibly feature in such efforts.
Nature in Focus 12 heroes redefining the landscape of water conservation This is the final story in a series of articles launched by Astral Pipes and Nature in Focus to create awareness about the ongoing water crisis and to encourage necessary action to address it. The names include Vishwanath Srikantaiah, Veena Srinivasan, Aabid Surti, Aabid Surti, Kalpana Ramesh, K.J.Joy, Rajendra Singh, Shishir Rao, Parineeta Dandekar, Ajya Mittal, Nachiket Kelkar, Aditi Mukherji. Links to interviews with each of them can be found here: https://www.natureinfocus.in/save-every-drop. Great to see that Parineeta Dandkear of SANDRP is also there! https://www.natureinfocus.in/save-every-drop/the-answer-to-india-s-water-crisis (4 Nov 2020)
Continue reading “DRP NB 9 Nov 2020: Welcome water initiatives”
Or may be it is a major issue at a number of places. Like in Kishanganj district along Mahananda river in North East Bihar, as the report here mentions. We hope it is. Since floods and how they are managed affect so fundamentally and in so many different ways so many people, it should be an election issue. Particularly when the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is fighting to be voted in after being the Chief Minister of the state for 15 years since Nov 2005 (except brief ten month period in 2014-15).
15 years is long enough time to have been able to make at least some dent in flood management. On ground, the situation seems to have only gone worse. It was in this 15 year period that the unprecedented Kosi floods happened after the Kusaha breach in 2008. But the word unprecedented has been used for several more floods in these 15 years, including by Nitish Kumar. He also raised a number of pertinent issues in this period, including impact of Farakka barrage on Bihar floods, need for its decommissioning, Bihar’s right to get Ganga water from the headwaters in Uttarakhand [currently it gets none except during monsoon]. He is currently silent on these issues, but voters and media do not have to be silent.
Continue reading “DRP NB 26 Oct 2020: Why Floods is not big issue in Bihar elections?”
Delhi Chief Minister Arivind Kejriiwal led govt seems to be now proposing privatisation of Delhi water supply.
Continue reading “DRP NB 28 Sep 2020: AAP to privatise Delhi Water supply which Arvind Kejriwal opposed?”
International Hydropower Association (IHA) is essentially global leader of hydropower lobby. So when IHA President Roger Gill speaks about the problems hydro industry is facing, it becomes very interesting for all concerned.
In this interview the Roger Gill makes it clear that Hydro investments have been slowing down in last five years when compared with investments in immediate earlier decades. It has further slowed down in 2019 and has been further majorly affected by Covid-19 pandemic. Gill also accepts that the hydro is perceived as much more risky compared to solar and wind. The claim he makes of low levelised cost of electricity from hydro projects is a bit of fiction, since cost of any under construction or new hydro will be hugely costlier than solar and wind power projects. The IHA president is catching at the straws when he takes encouragement from investments in existing hydro projects and pump storage, though he keeps making it clear that market is still unclear as far as pump storage tariffs are concerned. A friendly interview also reveals a lot!!
It is high time that the Indian hydropower lobby led by NHPC and power ministry takes due note of the realities and would not push unjustified, unviable and destructive hydropower projects down the throats of reluctant states and people, using scarce public resources.https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/hydro-power-requires-100-bn-investment-annually-roger-gill-international-hydropower-association/78131561 (17 Sep 2020)
Continue reading “DRP NB 21 Sep 2020: IHA President accepts-Hydro faces massive slowdown & worse”
During the recent Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) induced flood disaster in areas downstream of the dam in Gujarat, the dam operator, SSNNL (Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited) violated its own Flood Memorandum (FM) 2020[i] in multiple ways.
The FM-2020 titled “Disaster Management Plan – 2020” provides detailed information about how the dam operation is to be done during South West Monsoon 2020, that is from June 1, 2020 to Oct 15, 2020, or whenever the monsoon has withdrawn. It is published by SSNNL’s Flood Control Cell and carries the names of six highest functionaries of SSNNL on second page: Chairman, Managing Director, Jt MD, Director (CAD), Director (Canal) and Director (Civil). It says Officer in charge of Flood Control Cell of SSNNL is Executive Engineer (Narmada Project Main Canal Division-2) and the FM-2020 is compiled by Superintending Engineer, Narmada Project Design Circle.
An earlier version of the Flood Memorandum for 2018[ii] is also available, which is useful as it has some additional information.
Continue reading “How SSNNL violated its own Flood Memorandum 2020 during recent SSD induced floods”
The people and state government of Uttarakhand would be celebrating Himalayan Diwas on September 9; the Supreme Court of India would be hearing the issues related to the controversial Char Dham Road project a day before it on September 08. During the last hearing on August 31, the apex court has rescheduled the case by extending the hearing date by a week amid concerns of recurring landslides raised by the petitioners.
The ongoing adverse impacts on forests, rivers, streams, soil covers, hills and people continue to concerns scientists, geologist who are alarmed by the scale of destruction and shocked by the brazen manner the state and central governments have been marching ahead without bothering to assess the impacts or address the genuine issues being raised by all concerned.
Multiple reports have been showing that the deliberate dilution of environmental rules and violations of already weakened norms applied by none other than governments themselves to avoid scientific scrutiny and push the project through climatically and ecologically sensitive mountains is proving to be a Himalaya blunder. There is still time to pause, ponder, review the project, assess the impacts, reduce road width and prepare an action plan to restore the damages and pay heed to scientific suggestions before the blunder leads to another inevitable disaster of Kedarnath or larger scale. Hope the apex court would not fail Himalayas.
Continue reading “DRP NB 7 Sep 2020: On Himalaya Diwas, will Supreme Court stop destruction of Himalaya by Char Dham Road?”
We showed on Sept 2, 2020[i] using official information that Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) created an avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch, downstream of SSD starting on Aug 29, 2020, due to sudden, adhoc release of massive quantities water upto 10.72 lakh cusecs. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), official agency responsible for operation of the SSD is yet to provide any clear, coherent and fact based response. However, some of the spokespersons of SSNNL/ Government of Gujarat (GOG) are claiming that scientific operation of SSD saved Bharuch from bigger disaster. While this claim has no basis, this is like spraying salt on the fresh wounds.
Only an independent (not by serving or retired bureaucrats of the government) investigation would be able to bring out the truth as to how SSD operated, how it should have been operated, who is responsible for the massive disaster that Bharuch experienced, how can we fix accountability and what lessons we can learn for future.
Continue reading “SSD induced Bharuch Flood disaster: Reality behind SSNNL claims that it saved Bharuch”
સરદાર સરોવર ડૅમ (SSD)ના સંચાલકો જરાય વિચાર કર્યા વિના, અને કહી શકો કે, ક્રૂરતાથી, પાણી કેટલું છોડવું, ક્યારે છોડવું તેના નિર્ણયો લે છે. એમના નિર્ણયની અસર હેઠવાસમાં શું થશે તેના પર તો જરાય ધ્યાન નથી આપતા. કંઈ નહીં તો, ૨૬મી ઑગસ્ટ ૨૦૨૦થી જ એમને સત્તાવાર માહિતી મળી ગઈ હતી કે ભારે વરસાદને કારણે નર્મદાના ઉપરવાસમાં પાણી વધવા લાગ્યું છે. આ માહિતી પર એ કામ કરી શક્યા હોત તેમ છતાં ૨૯મી ઑગસ્ટ, શનિવારની વહેલી સવાર સુધી એમણે ડેમનાં સ્પિલ-વે ગેટ્સમાંથી પાણી ન છોડ્યું. ડૅમ ૭૦ ટકા ભરાઈ ગયો હોવા છતાં એમણે પાવર હાઉસો પણ ન ચલાવ્યાં. ઓચિંતા જ ૨૯મીની રાતે એમણે દસ લાખ ક્યુસેક – દર સેકંડે ઘન ફૂટ (૨૮,૩૨૦ ક્યુમૅક એટલે કે દર સેકંડે ઘન મીટર) પાણી છોડવાનું શરૂ કરી દીધું [i].. ત્રણ દિવસ પછી ૧ સપ્ટેમ્બર, મંગળવારની સાંજે એમણે મોટા ભાગનાં સ્પિલ ગેટ બંધ કરી દીધાં. આમ સ્પિલ-વેમાંથી નીકળતા પાણીનો જથ્થો પહેલાં કરતાં માત્ર દસમા ભાગનો રહ્યો. આ ૩-૪ દિવસમાં (૨૯મી ઑગસ્ટ અને ૧લી સપ્ટેમ્બર વચ્ચે) પાણીનો ૩૦,૦૦૦ ક્યુમૅક સુધીનોજબ્બરદસ્ત જથ્થો સ્પિલ-વે મારફતે છોડવામાં આવ્યો; એના પહેલાં કે તેના પછી કંઈ જ નહીં! પરિણામે હેઠવાસમાં ગરૂડેશ્વરથી ચાંદોદ અને ભરૂચ સુધી પૂરનાં વિનાશકારી પાણી ફરી વળ્યાં. પરંતુ લાગે છે કે, સરદાર સરોવર પ્રોજેક્ટ (SSP)ના સત્તાવાળાઓ અથવા ગુજરાત સરકારના પેટનું પાણી પણ નથી હાલ્યું. હવે સમય આવી ગયો છે કે ગુજરાતની જનતા જાગે અને આ માનવસર્જિત તારાજી માટે SSPના ખેરખાંઓનો જવાબ માગે.
Continue reading “ભરૂચમાં પૂરની તારાજી માટે સરદાર સરોવર જવાબદાર”