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)”

Dams

Celebrating our Rivers on the World Rivers Day, 2016!

Above: Parshuram Kund on River Lohit, Arunachal Pradesh

Since 2005, last Sunday of every September is celebrated as the World Rivers Day. The tradition started in 1980s in British Columbia when some river activists came together for their rivers. Its only grown since then.

All through the year we hear about water conflicts, river pollution, degrading freshwater biodiversity, damming of living rivers, mismanagment, concretisation and encroachment on Indian Rivers. As I write this, Cauvery Water Conflict and simmering, serious discontent over the Indus Water Treaty governing 6 rivers between India and Pakistan is mounting. A simple google search on Indian Rivers throws up images of filth, pollution, droughts and floods. Lest we forget, thats not the whole picture. We are still the custodians of an amazing legacy. India still holds some of the most beautiful, healthy and life giving rivers in the world. There are people and communities nurturing their rivers and protecting them. All is not lost and this is a battle worth fighting, full of positive energy. Continue reading “Celebrating our Rivers on the World Rivers Day, 2016!”

Dams · Karnataka · Mahadayi · Western Ghats

Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal: Trouble brewing in Paradise

Karnataka is still reeling from the protests, rasta roko, bandhs, burning effigies, etc., resulting from the anger over the Interim Verdict of Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal[i] (MWDT) of the 27.07.16 which did not allow Karnataka’s Appeal to temporarily lift 7 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) water from Mahadayi Basin into Malaprabha Basin (a sub basin of Krishna basin).  Twin cities of Hubali and Dharwad, likely beneficiaries from the diversion, are centers of agitation. Schools and colleges were closed, government offices and buses were burnt, major roads were blocked by protesters. Pro-Karnataka Organizations and even Film stars have joined this protest. Karnataka Home Minister has called on the Prime Minister to look into the decision. Goa, on the other hand, is quietly celebrating this one positive step[ii]. I was reminded of  Rajendra Singh’s uncritical support to the project and also what Dr. T V Ramchandra from IISC, Bangalore said about this, “Do the film stars know the details of the issue or even where their water comes from? The day we push Pudharis away, solutions to our water woes will be easy and closer to home.”

I have returned from Mhadei/Mandovi Basin recently, tracing her footsteps near her origin to the sea and it is difficult to conceive that this veritable treasure trove of serenity and beauty is today a bone of contention, leading to unrest and violence.  Continue reading “Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal: Trouble brewing in Paradise”

CGWB · Groundwater · Western Ghats

Many colors of groundwater in a tiny Western Ghats village

“Konkan” is the narrow strip of land encompassing coastlines, estuaries, lateritic plateaus, foothills of Western Ghats and dense forests, which runs from Maharashtra to Goa. It is bound by the Arabian Sea to its west and the mighty Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) to its east. The isolated region has a distinct and rich culture of folklore, performing arts, music, literature, culinary art, with subtle changes from north to south. The region receives heavy rainfall of about 2500-3500 mm in summer monsoons, with the lofty Sahyadri ranges blocking the moisture-laden clouds. 

The rivers in the region are as spectacular: gushing and gurgling over steep hilly paths and meeting the Arabian Sea in just about 100-150 kilometers from their origin in the Western Ghats. The steep and hilly terrain makes it difficult to build large dams, (though we keep trying unsuccessfully as can be seen here: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/large-dams-in-konkan-western-ghats-costs-benefits-and-impacts/) and water resource managers never fail to point out that of the total yield of rivers in Maharashtra, 45% is from of the West-flowing rives of Konkan!

Having said that, the tempestuous nature of rives, rocky terrain and steep slopes mean that rives dry up as fast as they swell. The lifeline here is not surface water, but groundwater…Groundwater that emerges from springs as the predominant porous laterite rock meets a layer of clay..or dug wells…or unique water harvesting structures crafted by local communities. 

Here is a glimpse of some such structures…to appreciate not only the utility and appropriateness, but beauty of small, local structures and traditional wisdom. Also important to note is the diversity and independence of water management in Konkan: as in India..where communities own, maintain and manage their own water. There is a special kind of power and magic in this independence. Continue reading “Many colors of groundwater in a tiny Western Ghats village”

Dams · Hydropower · Maharashtra

“Water is not a private property of some groups”: Bombay High Court directs release of water from Private Dams like the Tata Dams

In a welcome move, Hon. Bombay High Court vacation bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, while hearing multiple clubbed petitions about drought and the state’s response, has passed a strong order recommending release of water stored in PRIVATE DAMS and sources for drinking water purposes of drought hit region.

“Observing that natural resources are property of the entire nation and not just an individual or a private entity, the Bombay High Court directed the state government to consider supplying water from privately operated dams and wells to water-scarce areas.”   Continue reading ““Water is not a private property of some groups”: Bombay High Court directs release of water from Private Dams like the Tata Dams”

Dams · Drought · Hydropower

Letter to PM: Devise a policy for curbing hydropower water diversions during drought years

Above: Red arrows indicate diversion of water from Tata Dams into surplus basin. Source: Google earth images and SANDRP

Since past three years, SANDRP has been raising the issue of West-ward water transfer during drought years by hydropower dams. Maharashtra annually diverts 3324 Million Cubic Meters of water from its water deficit Bhima and Krishna basins into the water surplus Konkan basin for hydropower generation. This happens though 6 dams on Bhima Basin privately owned by Tata Power and the Koyana Hydropower Project. Although drinking water is the first priority for any society and this is enshrined in the National and State Water Policies, there is no system in place to allocate the waters of these dams to the downstream, when there is dire need. During this drought, which is possibly Independent India’s worst droughts, Tata Dams have released nearly no water to the Bhima Basin and Maharashtra Government on its part has taken no stand on this issue.

After raising this issue several times at many platforms, SANDRP has sent a letter to the Prime Minister as well as to the National Human Rights Commission on this issue. If you agree with the points raised in the letter below, please send similar letter to the authorities.  Continue reading “Letter to PM: Devise a policy for curbing hydropower water diversions during drought years”