Dams

WORLD WATER DAY 2018: INDIA’S POSITIVE WATER STORIES

On occasion of World Water Day 2018, SANDRP put together reports of remarkable water conservation work done by individuals, villager community and organizations across the country.

Good that UN report this WWD says[i]: “The efforts by local communities in India to improve water availability have been lauded in a UN report that highlights the importance of finding nature-based solutions to meet global water challenges…. The report notes that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at disposal. It also cited the example of China’s Sponge City which aims to recycle 70 per cent of rainwater.”

Image result for un wwd 2018 nature based water solution report

But the UN report[ii] does not mention that local options should be the top priority and should be exhausted before going for large projects. Unfortunately, Indian water resources establishment’s priority is Large dams and river linking. The UN report also does not say that local systems are bound to be neglected and destroyed in the shadow of large projects and where the governance is top down, unaccountable, non transparent and non participatory.

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DRP News Bulletin 08 January 2018  (“THIS IS RIVER, NOT LAND” Chennai Fisherfolks Fight To Save Ennore river)

In a remarkable protest echoing urgent need for protection of rivers, fisherfolk of Kosasthalai River on 03 January 2018, launched a ‘Jal Satyagraha’ against Kamarajar Port project. The proposal would divert 1000 acres of creek area. It mainly comprises of river, wetlands, marshy areas on which fisher community depend for livelihood.

Raising their voices against the project with holding play cards that read “This is River, Not Land” they stood in waist-deep in waters to save Ennore Creek. Joining the protest, hundreds of residents also demanded the withdrawal of alleged fraudulent maps denying the existence of the Ennore Creek. The community has been fighting a lonely battle against the Tamil Nadu government accusing it of turning wetlands illegally into industrial real estate corridors.

– “Fishing economy has been hit massively. Shrinking of water body means less space for fish. Shrinking has happened in terms of surface spread as well as depth thanks to the dumping of dredged sand from the sea, silting the waterbody. The larger concern is fly ash and heavy metals from the industries polluting the environment causing health hazards,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, Environmental activist and researcher who was part of the protest. https://www.oneindia.com/india/chennai-fisherfolk-stage-jal-satyagraha-to-save-ennore-creek-2613088.html (One India, 04 January 2018)

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DRP New Bulletin 28 August 2017 (Need for Policy on Equitable Sharing of River Flow)

Krishna River Water Sharing Dispute  The Andhra Pradesh government is contemplating a legal battle against the Maharashtra and Karnataka governments for denying the “rightful share” of Krishna river water to the state. 

As per DU Rao, Water Resources Minister, Andhra Pradesh, State Government is consulting legal experts to file either a special leave petition or public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against Maharashtra and Karnataka for withholding water in river Krishna and depriving the lower riparian state of its rightful share. The minister also said that upper riparian states are not releasing water even as a humanitarian gesture to meet drinking water needs.

The minister further stated that due to abundant rains, reservoirs on river Krishna in Maharashtra and Karnataka were filled to the brim. Both these states have a total of 275 tmc ft of water stored in their reservoirs, but they are not letting out even one tmc ft to lower riparian states like Telangana and Andhra and instead taking cover under tribunals, those states are fully utilising the water.

It will really be a good case if they draft it well. The Maharashtra and Karnataka parts of Krishna basin have stored 275 TMC of water and Maharashtra is also diverting water from Krishna basin to high rainfall Konkan area this monsoon, but not releasing any water to downstream Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/220817/ap-mulls-moving-sc-against-maharashtra-karnataka-over-krishna-water.html

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DRP News Bulletin 03 July 2017 (Panna Villagers Oppose Ken-Betwa Link Project)

In the month of June 2017 several villages in Panna district Madhya Pradesh have opposed the controversial Ken-Betwa interlinking project. According to locals the project will destroy the Ken River which is the life line of area. Numbers of Village Panchayats have sent their memorandums to District Collector citing negative impact of the project on Panna Tiger Reserve. Many individuals and social groups including trader’s body have also criticized the project. As per locals, Panna district lacks irrigation facilities but the project proposes to transfer Ken river water to other areas. Local political parties have also supported the villagers opposition.

KBL Letters 1

Similarly worried over the scale of destruction, a group of concerned people in Panna have recently organized a meeting on the issue. Discussing the side effects of the project, the group fears that Ken Betwa interlinking project will make the Ken River dry and as a result ground water level in the area will also go down. The people revealed that there is no surplus water in the river on the basis of which the project was planned. They also cited several shortcomings in the planning of the project and stated that downstream impacts of the project has not been studied at all. The group has collectively decided to take up necessary actions to convey their opposition to the project. 

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DRP News Bulletin 12 June 2017 (Rain Bearing Clouds Thinning Out Over India: IMD Study)

A recent IMD study has found that rain-bearing clouds have been thinning out across the country over the last 50 years. The study, published in the IMD journal Mausam, shows that between 1960 and 2010, annual mean low cloud cover (responsible for the bulk of the rainfall) over India has been decreasing by 0.45% per decade on an average.

According to the study, the number of rainy days is also declining during the monsoon season at an average rate of 0.23 days for every decade. This means that the country has lost approximately one rainy day over the last five decades. The study found that while the number of rainy days is decreasing, there is not much change in the total amount of rainfall. This shows a trend towards shorter, heavier bursts of rain.

That is bad news, because heavier raindrops can dislodge wheat and rice grains from their stalks while on the farm. It also means rainwater flows down a slope that much faster instead of percolating underground.

Meanwhile, a new NASA study has warned  the amount of rainfall in the Earth’s tropical regions will significantly increase as the planet continues to warm. As per study rainfall is not related just to the clouds that are available to make rain but also to Earth’s “energy budget” — incoming energy from the Sun compared to outgoing heat energy. High-altitude tropical clouds trap heat in the atmosphere. If there are fewer of these clouds in the future, the tropical atmosphere will cool.

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DRP News Bulletin 15 May 2017 (MP talks about Narmada Seva after destroying the River with Dams, displacement of Lakhs of people)

On conclusion of five month long Narmada Sewa Yatra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is today ( May 15, 2017) launching a road-map for steps to be taken for the conservation of the Narmada river. The MP state assembly has also recently declared river Narmada a living entity. Even otherwise quiet on rivers environment minister Anil Madhav Dave has expressed concerns for Narmada.

Contrary to all this, the Central Govt and 3 states of MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat have begun a process towards sanctioning completion of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, with closure of the 17 meters high gates. It is a countdown towards impounding waters in the 214 km land stretch where more than 40,000 families are residing till date. There are standing crops and massive plantations; thousands of pakka houses, schools, other public and private services erected; hundreds of temples, tens of mosques (as opposed to three temples claimed by the authorities), adivasi gods and worship places, all of which will be submerged. In protest thousands of people from Narmada valley, to be affected by Sardar Sarovar Project created a Human Chain on the borders of living village communities and on the banks of the river, protesting against any decision to close the dam gates.

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DRP News Bulletin 27 March 2017 (DON’T WE NEED TO LEARN TO TRULY CELEBRATE OUR RIVERS?)

This is about the proposed Brahmaputra Festival being planned by the Assam Govt from March 31 to April 4, 2017. The five-day festival will witness significant participation from China. Various other countries such as Vietnam and Singapore are also reported as attending the program. It is scheduled to be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee.  

It is true that the word business appears four times on the opening page of this festival website, but the word flood, erosion and people do not appear even once. This is relevant since for very large sections of people of Assam, the river also means floods, erosion, displacement and disaster on regular basis and not just “lifeline of Assam” or “life-giving prosperity and countless blessings”.  

The festival website also errs in many ways, including when it claims “India’s only male river”, since there are several male rivers, including Damodar, Ajoy, Pagla, Gadadhar, among others. It is true that even the word Nemami is copied from the Nemami Gange, but that should not be such a big issue?

It is true that people also suffer when river dries up or is polluted or is encroached or unsustainably mined, and none of these issues are highlighted by the festival website. It is true that the the Assam also means all the communities, including the bodos and mishing and many others, not just Guwahati or Dibrugarh or Majuli. The festival organisers may argue that we are taking the festival to all 21 districts, but it is important to recognised all communities of Assam.

This is in addition to the fact that Brahmaputra includes all the states of North East India, and more. The Brahmaputra, 2,900 km long, is an international river with 918 km of it flowing in India, 1625 km in China and 337 km in Bangladesh.

It is true that the festival is more about attracting tourists, business and transport along the river. And so it is not even giving a comprehensive picture of the rivers of Brahmaputra basin in Assam, nor is there attempt to do anything to improve the state of the rivers. Similarly, the destruction of the rivers of Guwahati and Assam needs to be halted and reversed, and may be this occasion can be used to push that advocacy?

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DRP News Bulletin 13 Feb 2017 (Oroville Dam Disaster, USA: A Wake up Call for India: A Country of aging big Dams)

Finally the Oroville Dam spillway damage has turned into a disaster. Report at this time (01:00pm, Feb. 13, 2017) finds dam level rising about 1 feet above the danger level. Water currents have started pouring out all over and around the emergency spillway which has never been put in use for last half a century. Meanwhile, more water is gushing in the dam reservoirs due to recent heavy rainfall in catchment areas upstream. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 13 Feb 2017 (Oroville Dam Disaster, USA: A Wake up Call for India: A Country of aging big Dams)”

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DRP News Bulletin 19 September 2016 (EAC says EIA of Yadadri Project cut and past job)

EAC Panel Visiting the site in Dec 2015

Centre EAC defers clearance to Yadadri Power project The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Ministry of Environment has deferred its decision for granting environmental clearance for the 8,000 MW Yadadri Thermal Power Station in Telangana by TSGENCO due to a “lackadaisical” approach in preparing documentation. The EAC said the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was incomplete and there was lack of clarity on many issues raised by the Committee earlier. EAC on Thermal Power Companies has in its minutes meeting held on 29-30 2016 held the EIA consultants guilty of cut & paste jobs which can be found here.  At some places, it is mentioned that coal will be transported from two ports and in some other places, four ports are mentioned. Hence, complete and specific details regarding coal import ports and coal transportation routes were not given. Further it is also observed that two important sections of the EIA report- “risk assessment” and “disaster management plan”- are almost entirely generic and contain hardly any site or project specific aspects.

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DRP News Bulletin 12 Sep 2016 (Hydro Projects Causing Mass Fish Extinction: HP Fisheries Dept.)

Hydro power projects impact riverine fisheries The bleak future of fisheries is reflected in the “Vision and Perspective Plan” released by the Department of Fisheries earlier this week. The department is keeping its fingers crossed to even maintain the production of 5,393 tonnes in 2014-15 as it feels that with the commissioning of 294 hydro power projects in the recent years, the downward trend will be difficult to arrest. 

It says that the expansion of the hydro power sector has resulted in the shrinking of rivers and streams and high silt levels. Rampant sand mining and indiscriminate use of pesticides have further aggravated the problem. 

The fish production from the rivers and streams is falling drastically each year and the multi-pronged environmental assault is proving to be too damaging for the fisheries promotion. The state has some precious mahseer reserves. Though the power policy stipulates a minimum discharge of 15% ecological flow of rivers, the failure of the regulatory authority to check this has converted riverbeds into sandy deserts. That’s how the department perceives the threat from hydro power generation. As a further blow to the riverine fisheries, under the revised hydro-power policy, there is no requirement for micro hydel project developers to prepare environmental and social impact reports.

The vision document reflects that the coming up of hundreds of micro-hydel projects has drastically affected the streams environmental flow in Kangra, Kullu and Chamba. The picture is so grim that the project commissioned on the Sujan Nullah is virtually threatening the hatchery of the prestigious Indo-Norwegian trout project which is the lifeline of the entire trout farming programme of the state.Perceived as one of the major threats, the commissioning of 92 power projects, in the last few years has altered the river hydrology and blocked migratory routes exterminating spawning and feeding grounds of fish.Adding to the already bad situation is the array of pesticides and insecticides being used by farmers and fruit growers.

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