SANDRP

DRP News Bulletin 18 September 2017 (Why Madhaya Pradesh Depleted Its Meagre Water Storage To Fill up SSP Dam For Sept 17?)

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?

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Happy Birthday, Narendrabhai. But why drown the Narmada Valley this day?

Sept 17, happens to be birthday for India’s Prime Minister Naredrabhai Modi. We join the Nation in wishing him Happy Birthday.

But the Prime Minister has also decided to celebrate his 2017 birthday by declaring completion of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), as several media reports announced[i]. To achieve this, the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam are closed. The reservoir behind the dam is being filled up to raise water level that was so far at maximum of 121.92 m, to Full Reservoir Level of 138.68 m. This will lead to submergence and displacement of habitat of over 40 000 families of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, when their rehabilitation, as required by law, has not happened. Read More

Will this ‘Rally’ help the rivers?

PRESS RELEASE From India Rivers Week Organising Committee on Sept 13, 2017

We are concerned about the increasing superficial optics around saving rivers, with little or no effort to address fundamental issues which are causing their demise.

The high profile rally initiative to save India’s rivers taken up by well respected religious guru Sadguru and his followers is noteworthy, and the most recent case in point. It is striking that so many film stars, politicians, governments, and public personalities, are joining the call. Lakhs of children are expected to join in the program. While we welcome such an outpouring of good intentions and good will as a demonstration of the positive energy all around, unfortunately, we have seen no evidence either from the rally organisers, on their website[i] or their messaging, that they understand or plan to address the real threats faced by our rivers and their sorry state. Read More

DRP News Bulletin 11 September 2017 (Why This Rally Won’t Help The Rivers?)

The news media is filled with this new kid on the block, trying to wake the nation about the need to save our rivers… amazing to see so many film stars, politicians, governments, and public personalities, many of them rather innocently joining the band wagon… some friends were pleading that see, he is able to take the message of rivers to so many people, including lakhs of children… let us try and see if there is something positive here… may be, may be this is just the entry point, but the guy and his team have bigger vision? May be we need to give him longer rope, be more charitable and not jump to negativity?

We have kept all this in mind while writing this.

We see nothing from the people who are leading the rally, or their websites or messages that they understand the real threats faced by and reasons for the state of our rivers, are ready to even list such causes or protest any further move to destroy our rivers. The website claims it is “a nationwide awareness campaign to revive our rivers”. Can missed call save our rivers?

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Walking along Ganga in Uttarakhand in 2017

Above: The Bhagirathi valley has a lot of beautiful bends, comparable to the most popular scenic spots across the world. But we’re busy cutting down the mountain to make broader roads in these eco-sensitive areas. Image taken in March 2017. Photo credits: Siddharth Agarwal 

Guest Blog by Siddharth Agarwal

In the initial stages of planning the Moving Upstream project on the Ganga for Veditum, where we were going to walk along the whole length of the river, I had approached a lot of individuals to learn from their experiences about the river and the many connected stories around it. These learnings varied from science and activism to adventure and survival. Of all those who were approached, Himanshu Thakkar from SANDRP had been the most generous in extending knowledge resources and sharing contacts from the field. He even entertained a couple of my visits to their office and shared with me a copy of the SANDRP report prepared by Theo, called Headwater Extinctions (February 2014,  see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/new-publication-headwater-extinctions-impact-of-hydropower-projects-on-fish-and-river-ecosystems-in-upper-ganga-and-beas-basins/, it includes link to full report), along with a few other documents.

Headwater Extinctions looks at the role played by small and large hydropower projects in altering the fish biodiversity and river ecosystems in the Himalayan reaches of the Ganga and Beas basins. It also speaks about the perspective of local people and that of the authorities towards hydropower projects. Theo, who is an adventurer and ecologist, penned down the report with a scientific aptitude, while I will limit myself here in this revisit report to updated observations made on ground while walking along the Ganga in Uttarakhand (March 2017). This comparative observation will hopefully enable a conversation that requires continuity. Read More

Development NOT Dams: Pancheshwar affected people demand

(Feature Image: Pancheshwar Temple at the confluence of Saryu and Kali Rivers. Pics: Bhim )

The people to be affected by the proposed Pancheshwar Multipurpose dam project are saying we need development NOT dam in ecologically sensitive Himalayan region.  The untimely Environment Public Hearing (EPH) for 123 to be affected villages in Uttarakhand State has been rushed through in August 2017 with numerous violations as we reported earlier.  

During one week long trip to the affected districts of Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora, I along with Sumit Mahar of Himdhara visited proposed dam site and few of the villages that may face submergence in the unlikely possibility of the project coming up, to understand the local social and environmental issues.

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DRP News Bulletin 04 September 2017 (Uma Bharti Shifted, But Do Ganga Or India Have Better Hopes From Gadkari?)

In the Cabinet Reshuffle on Sept 3, 2017, Uma Bharti has been removed as Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, for what media is widely calling as her non-performance (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/uma-bharti-ganga-experts-cabinet-reshuffle/1/1039555.html).

Unfortunately, some in Media are rather valiantly trying to show that she did achieve something (see for example: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/nitin-gadkari-60-minister-water-resources-river-development-ganga-rejuvenation-ganga-clean-up-the-biggest-challenge-4827277/), when what they are showing only the claims of expenditure or achievement of the ministry, no real achievement on ground based on independent scrutiny or evidence.

Mr Nitin Gadkari has been given the charge of this ministry in addition to his current charge of Ministry of Surface Transport. The first thing that strikes about Mr Gadkari is that as minister in current government he has been strong advocate for use of rivers for inland navigation and he also achieved through an act in Parliament, listing of 111 main stretches of rivers for this purpose. In the initial few months of this government in power, he actually publicly said that he wants to build a barrage every 100 km along Ganga, which he latter said could be done every 50 km. The impact of one existing such barrage on Ganga for navigation, namely Farakka is well known, and it is so severe that MPs and now even Bihar’s current Chief Minister have been demanding decommissioning of the barrage. Indeed, there are huge social and environmental impacts of use of rivers for navigation, but Mr Gadkari’s ministry has been pushing the case that there is no need for even social and environmental impact assessment of the inland navigation plans or activities. Now it will be interesting to see what does Mr Gadkari says about this as Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. If past is any guide, it does seem that Ganga, Brahmaputra and other rivers on the list of inland navigation could be in for greater deterioration rather improvement.

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REUTER’s biased, misleading, erroneous reporting about Ken Betwa Project

ABOVE: A fabulous view of Ken river. Nesting sites of Long-billed vultures are to the right. All will go under water if Ken-Betwa linkup is carried out, Photo by AJT Johnsingh

On Sept 1, 2017, Reuters published a report[i] about Interlinking of Rivers, with focus on Modi flagging off work on Ken Betwa Project. The report was carried VERY widely, including in local, national and international media. [This note was sent as a letter to a number of persons at Reuters and Thomson Reuters on Sept 2, 2017, there has been no response so far as I publish this several hours later.]

Unfortunately, it’s a biased, very misleading, erroneous report with factual inaccuracies that one does not expect in a Reuters report.  Read More

Nominations for BPS-2017 & Shri Anupam Mishra Memorial Medal-2017 Invited

Dear All,

Greetings from the India Rivers Week (IRW) Organising Committee!

This is to request for nominations for Bhagirath Prayaas Samman (BPS) 2017.

As you will recall BPS is an attempt to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding, inspirational, unsung initiatives in river conservation.

This year we are also initiating Shri Anupam Mishra Memorial Medal to celebrate media professionals who have established an exceptional body of credible work on various aspects of rivers leading to changes in behaviour, public discourse, law and policy. Self nominations will also be considered.

Please find attached the announcement and the nomination forms.

PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO SURESH BABU TO GET THE ATTACHMENT MENTIONED HERE suresh@wwfindia.netBPS Call for nominations 2017.

Last date for nominations: September 25, 2017. A jury will take decision about the final awardees based on set of criteria.

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Loud Media Message: Public hearing of  Pancheshwar Dam is illegal

Before, during and after the controversial public hearing of destructive Pancheshwar Dam, held in three districts in Uttarakhand, wide media reports in print, in audio-visual and social media gave a loud and clear message: The public hearings violated all legal and democratic norms, in letter and spirit and were clearly illegal.

The Pancheshwar multipurpose project has generated much controversy in India and in Nepal. Its Environment Public Hearing (EPH) was held on August 9, 11 and 17 at Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora in Uttarakhand. Held during monsoon season in disaster prone hilly region they have invited sharp criticism from all concerned.

There have been scores of reports by local and national media revealing the significant environmental issues being compromised by concerned authorities. We have compiled some key media reports here to illustrate,  how clear is the message from all media that the public hearing, the EIA and the project itself involves so many violations of law and democratic norms. They are clearly unacceptable.  

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