Groundwater

2022: Some positive reports on groundwater management 

This second part of yearend overview, SANDRP highlights some positive reports and steps taken by various state governments in India for management and conservation of groundwater in 2022. In first part of the overview, we have tracked the situation of groundwater depletion and contamination in the country and in third part covered some remarkable judicial interventions regarding groundwater conservation in 2022.

Centre Recharge wells to power multi-city groundwater project. A pilot project on shallow aquifer management, initiated by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for 10 cities, under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), has identified recharge wells as key to improving groundwater availability. Experts have cited the non-availability of space to allow the percolation of rainwater as a major hurdle to recharging Bengaluru’s groundwater table. The Million Wells programme was launched by Biome Environmental Trust in 2015 to encourage citizens and communities to dig and maintain their own recharge wells. It also opened up employment for the traditional well-digger community, the mannu vaddars.

In Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will be the nodal agency for the project. Biome Environmental Trust and Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM) will be technical partners in the project, which is led by the National Institute of Urban Affairs, a national think-tank on urban planning and development. The pilot project also covers Chennai, Dhanbad, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Rajkot, Thane, and Pune. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/recharge-wells-to-power-multi-city-groundwater-project-1157262.html  (28 Oct. 2022)

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Groundwater

2022: Groundwater Depletion, Contamination Continue amid Govts’ Efforts

This first part of the annual overview, SANDRP tracks some of the important developments regarding groundwater depletion and contamination in India and ongoing efforts, new steps taken by Central and various state governments in 2022 for the protection and conservation of the finite natural resource. Overall, these developments show no significant improvement in governance and management of groundwater resources which is also the water lifeline of the country amid its rising depletion and contamination. In second and third parts of the yearend roundup we have tracked some positive initiative for groundwater management by various governments in the country and some remarkable judicial interventions for groundwater governance and conservation in 2022.

Continue reading “2022: Groundwater Depletion, Contamination Continue amid Govts’ Efforts”
Dam Safety

2022: Growing Concerns over Dam Safety, Sustainability & Impacts

(Feature image: Breach in Karam dam, MP in Aug. 2022. Dainik Jagran)

This annual overview is focused on issues concerning structural and operational safety of dams that arose in 2022. It includes issues related to how climatic threats and siltation is making the large dams unsustainable. It also highlights the impacts of dams on river eco-system and riverine people amid some corrective measures being taken by the various state and central governments including the formation of National Dam Safety Authority.

Please see for links to SANDRP’s analysis on the issues in 2022 in India covering: (1) Dam induced floods, (2) Dam safety and related issues of Polavaram project, (3) Disasters and accidents caused by hydro power projects in Himalayan states, (4) Growing and ongoing resistance against destructive dams and hydro projects, (5) Fly ash dam breaches.

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Dam Disaster

2022: When Polavaram project further unraveled

(Feature Image: Flood water discharging from Polavaram Project to the downstream, in West Godavari district, on Jyly 12, 2022. The Hindu)

Polavaram is the largest and costliest big dam project under construction in India currently, though not much has been written about this projects and its impacts in mainstream in India. The project was given various clearances through a manipulated process, basic studies were not done before clearing it. Several petitions are pending before the various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India, but the project is allowed to go ahead without resolving them or the inter-state issues. A number of issues related to the project has been unravelling over the years and in 2022, the project further unraveled as the news reports compiled here reveal.

A snapshot of the status at Polavaram Project: The downstream coffer dam is damaged, the Gap 1 and Gap 2 of the Dam are yet to be constructed, the 1.7 km long Diaphragm wall of the ECRF dam is submerged in flood waters, it was earlier damaged (scoured at two places over an an area of 200 m X 200 m) in 2019 floods implying additional expenditure of Rs 600 cr, the water flow at the dam site on July 15, 2022 was highest since 1920 for July, the assessment of the earlier damage to the diaphragm wall and future options that was underway when the floods struck in the second week of July 2022, had to be stopped while still incomplete, the rehabilitation colonies have been submerged as the engineers assessment proved wrong about their elevation. There is an uncertainty on the structural stability of the other facilities of the irrigation project due to incomplete construction of the main dam, as it is receiving an unprecedented inflow. The height of the upper Coffer dam was increased by 1 m to 44 m between 17 and 19 July, 2022, in the middle of high floods, but that had impact on upstream Telangana and they opposed that this was done without consulting them.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin,16 July 2018: Dam Safety Is Needed, Can We Depend On CWC Engineers Alone?

India certainly urgently needs credible measures to achieve both structural and operational safety of dams. As the HINDUSTAN TIMES editorial emphasizes, we need much greater transparency, accountability and participation of independent, non government experts at every level of functioning of Dam Safety mechanism. Current Dam Safety Bill draft falls far short of that. This is also underscored by many of the news we bring in this July 16, 208 issue of DRP News Bulletin.

The Tamil  Nadu CAG report, as Indian Express reports, has clearly said that the Chennai floods  of Dec 2015 were majorly due to the wrong decision of dam operators to release 29000 cusecs of water for 21 hours, in violation of all safety norms, but no was punished for this wrong decision. The same has always been the case.

The Bulletin also brings the warning from, no less than Chief Minister of Assam to NEEPCO that if NEEPCO, the operator of the 405 MW Ranganadi Dam releases water from the dam without warning and when downstream areas are facing  floods, they will have to bear the losses people suffer. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin,16 July 2018: Dam Safety Is Needed, Can We Depend On CWC Engineers Alone?”

Dams · Dams, Rivers & People

How India Measures Water Storages

Govt and media typically report the status of water storage in India using the CWC’s Weekly Reservoir Storage Bulletin, which contain information about just 91 reservoirs in India. In this article we show that the state websites provide information about huge 3863 reservoirs, which even if not sufficient, is a huge improvement over just 91 reservoirs that CWC bulletin includes. We hope all concerned will try to improve the reservoir storage reporting.

It should be added here that this measures only surface water stored in some of the large reservoirs of India. This excludes large number of big reservoirs, lakhs of smaller reservoirs, groundwater aquifers and soil moisture storage. In spite of these limitations, this provides more accurate picture than just the 91 reservoirs of CWC that everyone in India, including media, govt monitoring and policy makers look at.

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Dams · Maharashtra

 MWRRA Ordinance 2016: More vulnerable to WRD meddling?

Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA), formed under the MWRRA Act 2005 has been the first Regulatory Authority formed in India, on the explicit directions of the World Bank. While the focus of the World Bank was more on tradable Water Rights, Water use entitlements and generally pushing water as an economic good, the Authority found itself dealing with more substantial issues of equitable water distribution soon after it was formed. Even at the time of its constitution, several organizations had cautioned about its bureaucrat-heavy and exclusive constitution, looking at the vast challenges Maharashtra faces. In its past 10 years, the Authority has always been in the news and not always for the right reasons.
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Maharashtra · Marathwada

Sugarcane in Marathwada: A Syrupy debate amidst Lowest June-Aug Rainfall in the Century

Above: Ashok Pawar’s motorbike cruises right inside his dry field, even after recent showers in Marathwada Photo: Ashok Pawar

After a heartbreaking gap, retreating monsoon is now blessing Marathwada with some showers. Small water harvesting structures and those built under the Jal Yukta Shivar Abhiyan, a flagship project of CM Devendra Fadnavis, are clocking an increase in water levels. 96.3% of average September rains in just the first 10 days of September (Dept of Agriculture, Govt of Maharashtra) is indeed a respite for a region that stands at the doorstep of an epic drought. What is lost in June-July-August in terms of crops failures, water scarcity, dismal dam storages etc., cannot be compensated by September rains, which are a fraction of total monsoon (June-July-Aug-Sept) rainfall.  But if the rains continue, they can help drinking water situation and possibly Rabi crops. It is heartening to see the farmers celebrating this downpour. Continue reading “Sugarcane in Marathwada: A Syrupy debate amidst Lowest June-Aug Rainfall in the Century”