Within a span of a week, two interesting reports on National Water situation were made public. Indians have heard of NITI Ayog’s first ever report on Composite Water Management Index, trying to put together state of water management in India. Not many here would have heard of the United States Geological Survey (USGS)’s once in five year report on water consumption for various activities and states in USA[i]. The US report was published on June 19, 2018, five days after NITI Ayog report was launched on June 14 by Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari.[ii] Continue reading “A tale of two National Water reports: NITI and USGS”
Experts Flush out India’s ‘Sewage’ Rivers: Urban India is treating its rivers as a pipeline for water, a dumping ground for all kinds of sewage, industrial effluents and solid waste and, its floodplain and riverbed as land available for encroachment. This was the gloomy perspective presented by Himanshu Thakkar, a social activist at the South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 23 April 2018: India Urgently Needs Urban Water Policy”
From left Arti Kumar Rao, winner of first ever Anupam Misra Memorial Award, Mahavir Singh Sukarlai, of Prayavaran Kisan Sanghrash Samiti, Pali; Winner of BPS 2017 in individual category and S. Ramachandran and Eby Emmaunuel of Meenachil Nadee Samrakshana Samithi, Kerala; Winner of BPS 2017 in organization category.
The eventful India Rivers Day (IRD) has just concluded. It was held on 25 November 2017 at INTACH Delhi office. The theme for this year was ‘Rivers in the Urban Context’. An exhibition on the issue is open till December 01, 2017. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/exhibition-on-indias-urban-rivers-at-india-rivers-day-2017/
The program started with the welcome address by Manoj Misra. It was followed by an introductory speech on the theme by Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP in which he described the deteriorating relationships between urban rivers and citizens and how urban areas are treating their rivers as parasite.
In the key note address by Dr. Ravi Chopra of PSI threw light on the lost, ignored and abused rivers in Delhi, Mumbai, Dehradun and Chennai.
The minutes of expert appraisal committee (EAC) shows that Environmental Clearance (EC) for the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project has been deferred. The minutes were uploaded after 16 days of EAC meeting conducted on Oct 24, 2017. http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/09112017PCU6UH80Finalminutesof9thEACmeeting1.pdf
In the minutes, the EAC said that it would require to study the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Nepal portion of the project to get a holistic view. It also directed the project proponent to obtain wildlife clearance as the project was located 300 metres from the Ascot Wildlife Sanctuary.
It is worth to mention that the Pancheshwar dam with a height of 315 meters is world’s second tallest dam proposed in ecologically sensitive region. Scores of media reports have underlined the unfair and politically influenced Environment Public Hearing (EPH) process, conducted during peak monsoon month in landslide ridden and disaster prone region. The venue of the EPH was also several kms away from villages going to be affected thus depriving the local people participation in essential decision making process. As a result the concerns and voices of villagers to have their voices heard. The EIA report of the project has also not mentioned several grave environmental issues of GOLFs events, cloud bursts, earthquakes etc in the catchment of the dam let alone the question of impact on endangered wildlife like Mahseer fish.
(Above: Protest in Bharuch on Oct 8, 2017 when Prime Minister laid foundation stone for Bhadbhut Dam on Narmada)
“Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe” is these days a super hit song in Gujarati, which literally means “Development has gone mad”. In the just concluded Garba (form of traditional social dance in Gujarat) festival, this was hugely popular this year through out Gujarat. The song became popular, even before Prime Minister of India celebrated his birthday on Sept 7 by declaring completion of an incomplete Sardar Sarovar Project, heaping totally unnecessary, unjustified and unjust displacement on 40 000 families of Narmada Valley and killing the largest west flowing river of India. So much for the river rejuvenation claims his government has been making since May 2014. As if to complete the process, they have started another dam on Narmada, few kilometers downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam, at Garudeshwar, even without any environmental impact assessment. Continue reading “India’s Dam Mania gives acche din for Dam lobby and Gando Vikas”
The wetlands are the hotspots of biodiversity, act as carbon sinks, act as buffers against floods and are essential for groundwater recharge. With groundwater reservoirs in the country heavily exploited, this last function has assumed greater importance. http://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/centre-notifies-wetland-rules-environmentalists-unhappy/story-3MoGp9D8eSzHI90zfOXWSO.html
Wetlands can be defined as lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water.
But they are threatened by reclamation and degradation due to activities like drainage and landfill, pollution, hydrological alteration (water withdrawal and changes in inflow and outflow), over-exploitation resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in ecosystem services provided by them.
There are at least 115 wetlands that are officially identified by the central government and of those 26 are identified as wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention which is an international intergovernmental treaty for conservation of wetlands. India is a party to the treaty. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/y6Tr3tkrr3q28AmGKaBFII/Environment-ministry-notifies-new-wetland-rules.html
The Centre on September 26 notified a new set of rules under the head Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 replacing the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/new-wetland-conservation-rules-notified/article19779100.ece
It is worth to mention that under the 2010 rules, not a single water body was notified as a wetland over and above the ones already recognised as such by the Centre and the Ramsar Convention, defeating its purpose in a way. http://www.zeebiz.com/agencies/centre-notifies-new-rules-for-preservation-of-wetlands-26312
Similarly, despite country’s space agency ISRO had in 2011 mapped over two lakhs of wetlands across the country, the centre has, so far, notified only 115 wetlands and 63 lakes in 24 states and 2 UTs for conservation and management.
As per the Daily Status Reports of Narmada Control Authority[iv], inflow into SSP Dam suddenly jumped from 495 cumecs (Cubic Meters per second) on Sept 12, to 2518 cumecs on Sept 13, 2383 cumecs on Sept 14 and 2210 cumecs on Sept 15, 2384 cumecs on Sept 16, in anticipation of the birthday, so that when Narendrabhai visits the dam site to formally declare the project complete, the reservoir is seen to have substantial water. Expectedly, SSP water level rose from 126.19 m to 128.5 m by 8 am on Sept 15. How was this made possible?
Madhya Pradesh depletes its water storage so that SSP looks full on Sept 17? The increased inflow into SSP was made possible only by increased outflow from upstream Madhya Pradesh dams like Indira Sagar Project (ISP) on Narmada. ISP, incidentally is India’s largest reservoir in terms of storage capacity.
So the ISP storage level which was already very low (about 33%) on Sept 11 with monsoon almost coming to close, was depleted by further 450 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) from Sept 11 to Sept 16 (date for which latest information is available), while SSP water level rose by 750 MCM during the same period. All this, so that water level at SSP could look more respectable on Sept 17. Its not known why Madhya Pradesh is ready to lose water from its low storage levels (in fact, the water level at Omkareshwar Project on Narmada is below Minimum Draw Down level throughout this period).
Will Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and MP Govt be held accountable for this by the media, judiciary and the people?
Sept 17, happens to be birthday for India’s Prime Minister Naredrabhai Modi. We join the Nation in wishing him Happy Birthday.
But the Prime Minister has also decided to celebrate his 2017 birthday by declaring completion of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), as several media reports announced[i]. To achieve this, the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam are closed. The reservoir behind the dam is being filled up to raise water level that was so far at maximum of 121.92 m, to Full Reservoir Level of 138.68 m. This will lead to submergence and displacement of habitat of over 40 000 families of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, when their rehabilitation, as required by law, has not happened. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Narendrabhai. But why drown the Narmada Valley this day?”
All through the month, several states in the country have been battling severe flood situation. The Northeastern (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam), Western (Rajasthan Gujurat), Central (Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh) and Eastern (Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal) regions have been particularly affected by floods following incessant rain.
Till July 28, 2017, 293 people have succumbed to flood related accidents. As per govt sources, the economic cost of flood damages has reached 53894.634 lakh. http://www.ndmindia.nic.in/flood-2017/floodsJuly-2017.htm
Superficially water deluge seems a natural disaster occurring on annual basis. But a closer observation of flood monitoring mechanisms and scores of media reports reveal that most of the flood crisis is man-made and dams have been playing a bigger role in creating a disaster out of a natural phenomenon.
So far there have been more than a dozen reported incidents across country where breaching of aged or unmaintained dams have led to inundation of human habitation. On July 06, 2017 breaching of Shiv Sagar dam was such an incident causing severe floods in several villages in Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh. http://amritprabhat.com/mirzapur-mirzapur-floods-with-heavy-rain-dozens-of-houses-and-five-people-of-the-same-family-found-dead-body-of-two-shivsagar-dam-broke/
Similarly, there is information from reliable sources proving that the wrong operation of dams end up creating flood situation in downstream areas which were already facing heavy rains. The devastating floods in Lakhimpur Assam around July 09, 2017, were a result of release of huge amount of water from Ranganadi dam in Arunachal Pradesh. https://scroll.in/article/844509/severity-of-assam-floods-heightens-old-fears-about-dams-in-the-brahmaputra-basin
In one more similar and latest incident, untimely release of water by Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), Jharkhand resulted in flood disaster in Birbhum, Purulia, West Medinipur and Hoogly districts. As per West Bengal Govt the DVC officials discharged the around 2 lakhs cusec of water on 25 July 2017, from many dams built on Damodar river without intimating it. https://scroll.in/latest/845268/mamata-banerjee-blames-west-bengal-floods-on-centre-run-damodar-valley-corporation
The third dimension in the flood tragedy is the fact that responsible authorities like Central Water Commission (CWC), concerned state department have failed to issue timely warning in so many incidences which could have otherwise been avoided or mitigated. There are also reports suggesting that there was no prior forecast and warning for ongoing floods in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Similarly there have been dozens of incidents in different parts where flood situation has been either caused or aggravated by faulty dam operation, breach in dams and lack of timely warning by responsible authorities.
The breach in Jaitpura dam and over spilling of Jawai dam in Jalor Rajasthan has inundated several villages. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/jawai-dam-pali-disrict-floods-rajasthan-heavy-rains-rescue-operations-ndrf-food-material/1/1012924.html The breach in Narmada canal has led to floods in Badmer districts. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/narmada-canal-damaged/articleshow/59762317.cms
The sudden discharge from Seepu dam on West Banas River, Dharoi dam on Sabarmati river has created severe flooding in downstream districts killing many villagers. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/aerial-survey-of-banas-river-to-be-undertaken-as-death-toll-in-gujarat-floods-touch-111-4768335/ , http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/gujarat-sabarmati-waters-flood-anand-villages/articleshow/59786379.cms
Further, the latest Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) latest report only goes on reinforcing all these issues. The shocking report tells us that out of 4,862 large dams, emergency action plans or disaster management plans of only 349 (seven per cent) large dams had been prepared till March 2016. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/jul/22/huge-delay-in-completion-of-flood-control-projects-in-country-cag-1632017.html
In a similar development another CAG report has put onus on Hirakud dam officials for 2011 floods. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2017/jul/23/cag-puts-onus-on-hirakud-officials-for-2011-flood-1632412.html
The CAG has also presented scathing indictment of India’s CWC’s shoddy flood forecasting system. https://www.dailypioneer.com/todays-newspaper/indias-flood-forecast-capability-a-washout-cag.html
The efficiency of flood monitoring can be judged from the fact that Irrigation Department Uttar Pradesh still relies on blade runners to convey flood information in the digital era. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/in-e-age-runners-alert-officials-about-flash-floods/articleshow/59676066.cms
The DAM FLOOD sanction of this update is full of such reports proving that dams have turning the floods into disasters.
On June 17, 2017, a PIB Press Release from Union Ministry of Water Resources announced, “Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has cleared the final raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in Gujarat by lowering of gates and impounding of water in the reservoir upto its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 mts. The NCA which met here yesterday under the Chairmanship of Dr. Amarjit Singh, Secretary (WR, RD & GR) considered all aspects of environmental and Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) issues.”
The gate closure will lead to submergence and displacement of lakhs of tribals and farmers of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, without even proper resettlement as legally required. There is also no justification for the decision as the canal infrastructure necessary to use the additional water that the dam will store with increase in height from 121.92 mts to 138.68 mts is not even ready. Continue reading “Sardar Sarovar gate closure without resettlement or justification is a inhuman, unjust decision: Will SC intervene?”