Drought

Can floods lead to drought? After the flood, severe drought looming over Kerala

Guest blog by: Madhusoodhanan C.G. and Sreeja K.G

The state of Kerala experienced extreme precipitation events during the 2018 South West monsoon period with multiple episodes culminating in devastating floods across the state during 14th-18th August 2018. This year, with an early onset of monsoons that dovetailed with strong summer showers, the state received about 41% excess rainfall (2394 mm against the normal of 1700 mm) during the period June 1st to August 22nd [1]. Almost all of its reservoirs were near full storage by mid-July.

The heavy downpour and the uncontrolled opening of the spillway gates of almost all reservoirs that inundated huge stretches of river banks and floodplains, along with massive landslides across the Western Ghats affected more than 1.5 million people, with close to 500 human casualties, immense losses to property, livelihoods and resource security apart from the extensive damage to forests, wildlife and biodiversity. Maximum destruction was observed along the rivers of Periyar, Chalakudy and Pamba, all having multiple dams on their tributaries. The debate is still on as to the various reasons, both manmade and natural, behind the floods and the resultant wide-ranging casualties [2,3,4,5,6]. Meanwhile things have taken a rather unexpected turn in the flood ravaged state.

Continue reading “Can floods lead to drought? After the flood, severe drought looming over Kerala”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 12 November 2018: Waterways Deteriorate Ganga, But Gadkari And Modi are Oblivious

PM Modi inaugurated the first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga river in Varanasi on Nov. 12 under a project aimed at promoting inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport. The multi-modal terminals are being built as part of the central government’s Jal Marg Vikas Project that aims to develop the stretch of the river Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1,500-2,000 tonnes. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pm-modi-to-inaugurate-1st-multi-modal-terminal-on-ganga-river-in-varanasi-1944924  (9 Nov. 2018)

Explaining the negative impact of waterways projects on Ganga River, Shripad Dharmadhikary in Hindi report titled जलमार्ग परियोजना बदहाल नदियों पर एक हमला writes that the projects lack public consultation “गंभीर बात है कि जलमार्ग विकास से सबसे ज्यादा प्रभावित होने की सम्भावना स्थानीय जनता को है। इसके बावजूद जलमार्ग के विकास से संबंधित ज्यादातर कामों के आयोजन और क्रियान्वयन के लिए न तो इनकी सलाह ली गई है, और न ही इनके बारे में जनता को जानकारी दी गई है। कुल मिलाकर इन जलमार्गों के सामाजिक और पर्यावरणीय प्रभावों का ठीक से आकलन नहीं हुआ है, ऊपर से इन्हें पर्यावरणीय मंजूरी के दायरे से बाहर रखा गया है और सारी प्रक्रिया में लोगों की सहभागिता का भी पूरा अभाव है। ऐसे में जलमार्गों के रूप में इतना बड़ा हस्तक्षेप हमारी नदियों पर एक और बड़ा हमला है जो पहले से बुरी हालत में हैं। https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BE-%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B8-62034  (5 Nov. 2018)

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 12 November 2018: Waterways Deteriorate Ganga, But Gadkari And Modi are Oblivious”

Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Kerala

Role of dams in Kerala’s 2018 floods

ABSTRACT: Many independent observers have argued that dams have played a role in increasing the proportions of Kerala flood disaster during July-Aug 2018. This article shows that Kerala dams violated many basic norms and if operated prudently, could have helped. It shows how post dam floods are different than pre dam floods. It lists the steps that would help in future disasters involving dams. The lessons are useful for all large dams of India.

In theory, every dam can help moderate floods in the downstream areas, as long as and as much as the dam has space to store water. In fact, every action that helps to store, hold, recharge (to groundwater aquifer), delay flow of rainwater from the catchment to the river would help moderate flow and hence flood in the river. Our catchments are fast losing that capacity, with continued destruction of natural forests, wetlands, local water bodies and also soil’s capacity to hold water. Continue reading “Role of dams in Kerala’s 2018 floods”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 1 October 2018: Hungry Water Effect due to Dams & Unsustainable Sand Mining Worsened Kerala Floods

Dams and reservoirs make rivers sediment-starved and menacing manifold downstream. While heavy rainfall is also a key factor behind the floods, hungry water had a more pronounced effect, says D. Padmalal, Scientist and Head, Hydrological process group, National Centre for Earth Science Studies.

– “When the sediment transport is interrupted, the potential energy of the hungry water released from dams will scour the river banks downstream, uprooting trees or riparian vegetation and damaging bridges and other engineering structures,” explains Dr. Padmalal. Overloaded with silt and clay from the eroding river banks, the highly turbid and viscous water clogs drainage channels. Subsequent discharge of water from the dam will lead to inundation and waterlogging of large areas.

– Hungry water can also develop in high gradient river channels devoid of adequate quantity of sand and gravel, especially during periods of high rainfall. “Years of uncontrolled sand mining have left most of the rivers in Kerala depleted or exhausted of sand and gravel. This creates a situation similar to the release of hungry water from dams,” notes Dr. Padmalal. When the river channel has adequate supply of sand and gravel, the potential energy of the water is used to transport the mixture. The water does not scour the banks or turn muddy.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 1 October 2018: Hungry Water Effect due to Dams & Unsustainable Sand Mining Worsened Kerala Floods”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 25 June 2018: Himachal Hydro remain stalled: Big Hydro no longer viable

Private Hydro remain in stalled Himachal The State Govt has sought the revised completion schedules of 21 stalled hydropower projects (above 5 MW capacity) having a capacity of 684 MW. Additional Chief Secretary (Power) Tarun Kapoor on June 19, 2018 held a meeting with independent power producers to take feedback from them on the hurdles being faced in completion of the 10 stalled projects on which work has not begun. In the remaining 11 projects also, the progress is extremely slow. “We have asked the power producers to expedite work on these 21 projects and also cancelled the Joiner-II (8 MW) in Kinnaur,” revealed Kapoor. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 25 June 2018: Himachal Hydro remain stalled: Big Hydro no longer viable”

Dams

South India Rivers Review 2017: More Water for Cities from Drying Rivers

This fourth rivers review presents developments related to rivers in States of South India including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka. 

Telangana Rivers 2017

Manair River Garbage polluting Manair river The shores are being polluted by the Municipal Corp of Karimnagar (MCK), which is dumping garbage generated from the town. Other private agencies such as chicken centres, hotels, private hospitals, mechanical shops and others too are also dumping garbage generated at their places into the river Manair. The State Govt had decided to develop the Manair front on the lines of Sabarmati river front development, which would spell further disaster for the river.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/Garbage-polluting-Manair-river/article17113713.ece (The Hindu, 30 Jan. 2017)

Continue reading “South India Rivers Review 2017: More Water for Cities from Drying Rivers”

Bhagirath Prayas Samman · Dams · Kerala · Western Ghats

Remembering Latha

It took some time to write. Latha chechi and me talked just 4 days before she passed away on Nov 16, 2017. As usual, it was about when we will meet next and go to Athirappilly Falls and travel to the river together. Her voice was light, it had a surreal gentleness. We agreed on everything, which was rare. After just a few minutes, Unni gently took the phone from her and told me she needed to sleep. It just didn’t feel right.

We first met virtually about 10 years back, discussing rivers and forests and then, through her initiative, came together to organize the first civil society workshop on Environmental Flows in January 2009 with SANDRP.  Since then, Latha Chechi has been a bubbling, enthusiastic and wise constant. We worked on several submissions together, discussed strategies and ideas, eating each other’s heads about what worked and what can work and always, I was always taken aback by her unmatched way of linking issues.

She told me, “You need one particular river. Work on all the rivers of world, but have that one river to go back to.” Continue reading “Remembering Latha”

Western Ghats

The state of the Aghanashini River Estuary

-Guest Blog by Vidyadhar Atkore

Aghanashini –is a small village situated on the southern bank of Aghanashini River in the Kumta taluka of Uttar Kannada district in Karnataka state. River Aghanashini draws its name from this village, it is also known as Tadri river as Tadri village is situated on the river mouth on the north bank.  Vast estuary and open sea at the village makes you humble. A drive along the bank of estuary is pleasant experience in the hot summer. On one side, big coconut trees and on other side, isolated, stunted mangrove patches draw your attention. Continue reading “The state of the Aghanashini River Estuary”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 06 March 2017 (Farm Ponds In Maharashtra Causing Groundwater Decline)

SANDRP Blog Farm ponds in Maharashtra Causing Groundwater Decline Farm ponds recognized as a drought proofing measure have received a great push from the central Govt recently. On the flip side however serious concerns are being raised over implementation of the farm ponds and more importantly –their use. Civil society organizations like Watershed Organization Trust and also SANDRP have been pointing out that the use of farm ponds has long drifted from its objective of storing rainwater for protective irrigation. Most of the farm ponds are instead being used as storage tanks for pumped out groundwater exposing this underground resource to losses through evaporation, etc. In the process they are accelerating the rate of groundwater exploitation multi fold.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 06 March 2017 (Farm Ponds In Maharashtra Causing Groundwater Decline)”

Dams

DRP News Bulletin 27 Feb 2017 (Urgent Need To Review Impacts Of Farakka Dam: Experts)

During a global seminar held on Feb. 25-26, 2017 in Patna experts from across the country have advocated an “urgent review” and comprehensive study of the Farakka dam to revive the Ganga river. The experts were discussing various concerns facing River Ganga and the possible solutions for them. The seminar titled as “Incessant Ganga” was organised by Bihar’s Water Resources Department, almost week after, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has openly termed the barrage as genesis of floods in the State. Speaking in the program, the CM again expressed deep concerns behind receding water flow in the Ganga and increasing silt deposit due to Farakka dam.

Speaking during the seminar, environment expert Himanshu Thakkar the coordinator of SANDRP advocated urgent need for review of Farakka barrage claiming that it has failed to fulfill any of the purpose – irrigation, hydro electric power, water supply – of the barrage for which it was built. As per, Himanshu Thakkar the dam was built to maintain the navigability of Kolkata port. 

Thakkar also suggested that the gates of Farakka be opened during monsoon to mitigate the intensity of floods in Bihar. As per Thakkar there was an urgent need for a comprehensive study of the Farakka barrage to find out its achievements or whether the barrage fulfilled its objectives. The committee constituted for study must include the Centre, Bihar, West Bengal and all states having Ganga, he said adding that a study should be made on the social and livelihood impact of the barrage, how it affected people’s lives, whether its existence was justified and cost-benefit assessment among other issues.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 27 Feb 2017 (Urgent Need To Review Impacts Of Farakka Dam: Experts)”