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. Read More
Above Map of Cauvery basin from Indian Express, Sept 22, 2016
Higher demands than availability is the key problem in Cauvery basin. transparent, participatory, democratic, rule based management of demands over supply is the key need. Unfortunately, we do not have that. Greater misfortune is that the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal Award of Feb 2007, even as it is significantly flawed, is yet to be implemented since the Special Leave Petitions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, admitted in the Supreme Court, remain pending for over nine years now. The Supreme Court, in the meantime, (through its orders of Sept 5, 12 and 20) deals with the issue in a manner, that seems ad hoc in absence of clarity as to how all the relevant factors have been taken into account. Read More
Above: Irrigation official confronting the angry farmer from Asolamendha village in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra Photo: Amruta Pradhan
“Farmers are dying… but your procedures have to be complete…”
Sight of an angry farmer saying this to an irrigation official has stayed with me long after I returned from visit to Gosikhurd Right Bank Canal (RBC). More often than not, I, like many others have read and written about mighty Gosikhurd- that multi thousand crore irrigation project languishing incomplete for last 32 years. I was now seeing personification of the havoc wrecked by this poorly planned and even more poorly implemented project.
I was at the Asolamendha dam, tail end of Gosikhurd RBC. 30-40 farmers from nearby villages suffering because of the shoddy work of RBC had gathered with complaints at tip of their tongue. Nature of complaints was serious. This incomplete canal running a total length of 99.53 km from Gosikhurd Dam in Pauni Tehsil of Bhandara District to Asolamendha Dam in Nagbhid tehsil of Chandrapur District has not only failed to provide irrigation but is also destroying the catchment of the local water sources.
I was visiting Gosikhurd RBC as a part of Sinchan Shodh Yatra- a series of fact finding tours started since May 2015 by Jan Manch– a voluntary organization from Nagpur to uncover the shocking ground reality of corruption laden incomplete irrigation projects of Vidarbha region. The yatra that has visited 18 projects so far is being joined by more and more farmers who have suffered due to the poorly implemented, half done irrigation projects. It is becoming a platform for affected people to raise their voices and slowly emerging as a pressure group on irrigation officials. (Read more about Sinchan Shodh Yatra at https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/public-audits-of-corruption-ridden-irrigation-projects-in-vidarbha-sinchan-shodh-yatra/#more-15917)
Shodh yatra consisting of about 70 people had taken an inspection tour of Gosikhurd RBC which was proposed to irrigate command area of 64,362 Ha but has been incomplete since last decade. During its journey of 50 km length of RBC (from 45 km from Gosikhurd dam to Asolamendha) Shodh yatra witnessed stalled work of the main canal which has not resumed for past more than three years, farmers agitating over host of issues from incomplete branch canals to crop damage caused by breach of canals and irrigation officials offering more and more excuses. Read More
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.
Above: Landslide Dam over Sonam River in Uttarkashi Dist in Uttarakhand (Photo from Jagran.com)
A landslide on Sonam river (Bhagirathi basin) in Bhatwari block in Uttarakashi district in Uttarakhand has blocked the flow of the river and created a lake about 90 m long, 80 m wide and 1.5-3 m deep. The landslide dam in Nelong valley in Jadhganga river basin about 145 km from Uttarkashi town, apparently was formed due to landslide during cloud burst on July 27, 2016, but the information about it reached the administration only on Sept 4, 2016, 39 days later. The landslide dam, about 24 km from the India China border has created a threat to the downstream river bank communities, roads and bridges and other structures and also ecology. The reservoir has been formed at the confluence of Angar Nallah, a local stream, with Sonam River. A team of officials sent by the District Collector on Sept 5, 2016 has submitted a report, but the report is not yet in public domain. Read More
Right Bank Canal of Gosikhurd Dam (Photo: Jan Manch)
Controversial irrigation projects of Maharashtra continue to make headlines after massive irrigation scam that was unveiled in 2012. Following an inquiry in the scam, the state cabinet has recently scrapped 94 tenders of 14 irrigation projects worth Rs 9,196 Crore.[i] Around 52 of these tenders have been under the scanner of anti-corruption bureau (ACB), with first information reports (FIRs) filed in four of them. Read More
Is there hope for India’s Environment from Mr Anil Dave? Most shocking statements from India’s environment Minister. He says let us do Ken Betwa link when the project has NONE of the statutory clearances from his own ministries. The independent committees are yet to appraise the project and yet he is saying: “This Ken-Betwa river link we should do it and have an impact assessment after five years. If it is good, then great, if not they don’t go for other linkages.” Is there any hope for India’s environment? As he says, YE SAB CHALTA HAI!!