Consider the facts: The 600 feet tall statue of Sardar Patel that the Prime Minister of India will inaugurate on Patel’s Birthday on October 31, 2018 is situated bang in the middle of the Narmada river. To take up such unprecedented construction in the middle of the river would require, at the least, environment clearance, since the construction would have huge impacts on the river. No such clearance was sought or given. It would have required environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan, appraisal, public consultations, monitoring and compliance. NONE OF THIS HAPPENED. Continue reading “Why Sardar may have been uncomfortable with the 600 feet statue”
As things stand now, Gujarat is facing prospects of a serious water crisis that may extend till at least next average or above average monsoon. State level Rainfall so far this monsoon is 19% below average as on Sept 1. But the state level average hides the local situation.
Some of the districts that have received rainfall with high deficits, as per IMD figures till Sept 1, 2018 include: Kutch: -58%; Patan: -58%; Gandhinagar: -51%; Morbi: -47%; Ahmedabad: -48%; Surendranagar -43%; Banaskantha: -55%; Mehsana: -52%; Devbhoomi Dwarka: -40%. These district level figures indeed show massive rainfall deficit with less than a month of monsoon remaining. Continue reading “Gujarat’s water crisis rooted in years of misplaced priorities”
In its latest report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has questioned implementation of sixteen National Irrigation Projects. Before this, the CAG has held mismanagement in dams’ operation responsible for Chennai floods in 2015. Both these reports are available on its website now.
The CAG report on National Irrigation Projects, tabled in Parliament on July 20, has revealed that sixteen major multi-purpose water projects, taken up on an expeditious basis about a decade ago, are nowhere near completion, with no work being undertaken in as many as 11 projects despite the incumbent govt’s much-wanted focus on improving irrigation facilities in the country.
The report also mentioned that out of the 16 projects, undertaken under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) in Feb 2008, only five projects with estimated irrigation potential of 25.10 lakh hectares were under implementation and even these projects suffer from 8 to 99 per cent shortfall in physical progress, the CAG said. The remaining 11 projects with estimated irrigation potential of 10.48 lakh hectares are yet to commence and are at different stages of approval.
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?