SANDRP

DRP News Bulletin 24 July 2017 (Pancheshwar Dam Public Hearing Needs To Be Postponed)

In the middle of monsoon season, authorities have fixed August 7, 11 and 17 as public hearing dates for the Pancheshwar Dam project, a giant dam on Mahakali river at India Nepal border. The proposed dam will submerge 134 villages in Pithoragarh, Champawat and Almora districts. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/public-hearing-dates-for-land-fixed/437736.html

The public hearing is happening, when media news reports have widely revealed that villagers have not been informed properly. Many to be affected villagers have even said that they have no information regarding the public hearing. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ngo-seeks-postpone-of-pancheshwar-dam-hearing/articleshow/59727412.cms  Social media reports, too have disclosed that the state govt has disseminated no relevant information regarding Pancheshwar dam public hearing. https://www.facebook.com/pg/dev1bhoomi/posts/?ref=page_internal

The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project is incomplete and not shared with villagers in affected area in local language. On the contrary the environment ministry has waived off the requirement of a joint mechanism to assess its environmental impact. https://www.masterbuilder.co.in/india-nepal-pancheshwar-project-assessment-guidelines-now-eased/

The public hearing place is far away from the dam site making the public hearing site unreachable for many concerned villagers. It is worth to mention that its monsoon season, the region in landslide affected, several roads are blocked and it’s not possible for the most of the concerned villagers to reach the hearing venue.

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Local people, regional parties, individuals and civil societies groups have been raising concerns on the disastrous impact of second highest dam project of the world.  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/pancheshwar-dam-spells-doom-for-locals-of-130-villages-who-fear-tehri-re-run/articleshow/57561939.cms

Experts’ demand of postponing the meaningless is right. In a democratic system, the concerned authorities must hear the public voices. It is their responsibilities to share all the relevant information in public domain beforehand, conduct the public hearing in each and every dam affected districts instead of just one place. The present weather conditions are not favorable for the public hearing at all and it must be postponed. http://matuganga.blogspot.com/2017/07/23-8-2017.html

HYDRO POWER

Himachal Pradesh Lahaul-Spiti people condemn Jispa dam, demand eco tourism During a public hearing held on July 17, 2017, regarding 300 mw Jispa hydro project, local people of Jispa village have severely criticized the project making it clear that they would not allow the project. Agitated people also forced the officials to leave the meeting without any outcome. It is worth to mention that since 2009, people of Todh valley in Lahaul-Spiti district are opposing the Jispa Dam project proposed over Bhaga river, a tributary of Chenab, at Jispa village. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/jispa-dam-locals-demand-eco-tourism-not-hydel-project/articleshow/59665492.cms

As per, Rigzin Samphel Hayerpa, Convener of Jispa Baandh Jan Sangarsh Samiti (JBJSS), hundreds of residents of the affected villages had made it clear to the officials that they would not allow the valley to be ruined in the name of development. He added that merely on the ground that the project was of national importance, destruction of fragile ecology could not be allowed.

Zila parishad member from Kwaring Chhime Lhamo said the state government wanted to construct the dam against the wishes of the local people. She said that from the start the people were against the project but the government was not scrapping it. She also said that development at the cost of destruction cannot be allowed. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/meeting-over-jispa-dam-yields-no-result/articleshow/59657026.cms

National There is very interesting discussion with Union Power Minister, which clearly shows that Hydro is no longer viable even with all the additional subsidies the govt is considering.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaGujdFCwCA&sns=em

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DRP News Bulletin 17 July 2017 (Northeast Continues To Experience Floods As Disaster Majorly Because Of Man-made Reasons) 

Since May 2017, several flood related incidents have taken place in the North East showing how our shortsightedness in understanding the rivers, how our thoughtless construction along the rivers in the name of flood control and how our careless operation of dams have converted floods into a disaster.

At the same time, there have been incidents raising suspicion over quality of construction of built and ongoing dams. Then the news of NHPC being accused of forging Gram Panchayats signs to build 520 MW Teesta IV dam is shocking revelation in itself. Contribution of such factors in worsening the floods is always underplayed. 

The countless landslides and Cyclone Mora (http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cyclone-mora-reaches-northeast-many-houses-damaged-in-mizoram/story-UzcDuPOge0drAklftXW38L.html) have already left the region crippling, despite this there is no regular monitoring of flood situation and no timely warning being issued by States or Central Agencies about the rainfall and floods. All this is enough to prove that the ongoing flood devastation in North East has very much to do with the way we are destroying rivers with hydro projects, dams and embankments and disturbing the fragile environment of North East. These incidents also put question mark before govt agencies which are first pushing the destruction in the sensitive region and then lagging way behind in monitoring and issuing timely precautionary warnings.  

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DRP News Bulletin 10 July 2017 (Private Companies Exit Unviable Large Hydro Projects)

In a remarkable trend emerging in hydro sector in Himachal Pradesh, many leading private companies have started surrendering hydro power projects allotted to them by State Govt. As per the news report, Tata Group, Reliance, Jindal and Larsen & Toubro have either surrendered or are in process of surrendering numbers of hydro projects given to them over past one and half decade. These companies are now increasingly terming the projects as  non-viable and unprofitable. 

In the last week of June, 2017, Tata group reportedly has written to Directorate Energy, expressing its desire to surrender the 450 MW Duggar power project in Pangi area of Chamba district. The project had been allotted to them in 2007-08 and post feasibility study done by its consultants the group has found the unviable. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/tatas-give-up-chamba-power-project/428456.html

Before this the Reliance group had declined to set up  300 Mw Purty and 130 Mw Sumte Kothan hydro projects in Spiti. Following this, the State Cabinet on June 24, 2017 meeting agreed to return Rs 85 crore paid as upfront money by Reliance group. 

Similarly in recent past, the Jindal group, which was allotted the 250 MW Kutehar power project in Chamba, put the project on hold for some time without citing specific reasons. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/reliance-power-to-get-back-rs-85-cr-it-paid-to-govt-for-2-projects/427112.html

In the latest incident, anticipating problems in evacuating power, with the market being very grim as far as buyers and power rates are concerned, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) is reported to have urged the state govt to enter into a power-purchase agreement (PPA) with it for two of its hydel projects — Reoli Dugli (Lahaul-Spiti) and Sach Khas (Pangi), located in the arduous Chenab basin.

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DRP News Bulletin 03 July 2017 (Panna Villagers Oppose Ken-Betwa Link Project)

In the month of June 2017 several villages in Panna district Madhya Pradesh have opposed the controversial Ken-Betwa interlinking project. According to locals the project will destroy the Ken River which is the life line of area. Numbers of Village Panchayats have sent their memorandums to District Collector citing negative impact of the project on Panna Tiger Reserve. Many individuals and social groups including trader’s body have also criticized the project. As per locals, Panna district lacks irrigation facilities but the project proposes to transfer Ken river water to other areas. Local political parties have also supported the villagers opposition.

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Similarly worried over the scale of destruction, a group of concerned people in Panna have recently organized a meeting on the issue. Discussing the side effects of the project, the group fears that Ken Betwa interlinking project will make the Ken River dry and as a result ground water level in the area will also go down. The people revealed that there is no surplus water in the river on the basis of which the project was planned. They also cited several shortcomings in the planning of the project and stated that downstream impacts of the project has not been studied at all. The group has collectively decided to take up necessary actions to convey their opposition to the project. 

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Retracing Her Path -3: A Journey along the Teesta River in Sikkim

Above: The Teesta valley (photo: Gauri Noolkar-Oak)

Guest Blog by Gauri Noolkar-Oak

A day later, I set out on the last leg of my journey – through Sikkim, to the source. The journey from Kalimpong to Singtam and further to Mangan was breathtaking. The mountains grew taller as I climbed higher, the Teesta keeping me company all the while. It rained breezily and the clouds came down, clinging to the thick cloak of green that draped the mountains. Beauty was all around me and at one point, I just had to put my camera away and take in the splendour of nature.

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Retracing Her Path 2: A Journey along the Teesta River in W Bengal

Above: Fabulous view of Rangeet Teesta Confluence (Photo: AJT Johnsingh)

Guest Blog by Gauri Noolkar-Oak

The minute I crossed over the Indo-Bangladesh border into India at Chengrabandha, the atmosphere changed instantly; more briskness, more people and more English and Hindi surrounded me. I also spotted posters of Baahubali 2, and a few flags of Bhartiya Janata Party fluttered at the local bus station of Chengrabandha. I set out for Mainaguri, and through the pitter-patter of a weak drizzle, as the first tea plantations came into view.

My journey in the Teesta basin in North Bengal

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Retracing Her Path 1: A Journey along the Teesta River in Bangladesh

Above: A local fisherman fishing upstream of the barrage (Photo: Gauri Noolkar-Oak)

Guest Blog by Gauri Noolkar-Oak

Few journeys take us through a string of experiences that nourish the senses and the soul. A thoroughbred urban, city-lover, I nevertheless knew deep down that my journey of such nourishment would be with a river. I began researching rivers by chance, but with time, I grew to first like and then worship the entity. In early 2017, I acquired a grant from the Joke Waller-Hunter Initiative to study water conflicts in the Teesta basin, and I knew: this was going to be it.

My journey was inspired by the book “Empires of the Indus” written by Alice Albania, a brave woman who travelled the Indus river from mouth to source, and explored her history and cultures. But beyond that, I hardly had a plan; I did not know how long the journey would take, whether I would be able to see the whole river, and when I would return home.  When I landed in Dhaka at the end of April this year, all I knew was that I wanted to see the Teesta right from her confluence with the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh all the way up to her source at Tso Lamo in Sikkim, on the Indo-China border. Read More

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. Read More

India’s hydro generation drops to below 10% for the first time

For the first time in independent India’s history, hydropower generation from large hydropower projects in India in 2016-17 year fell below 10% of total electricity generation and is likely to go further down in years to come. It is well known that hydropower generation as proportion of total power generation has been going down. However, this proportion is generally seen in terms of installed capacity (measured in Mega Watts), and not actual generation (measured as Million or Billion Units[i]). Read More

DRP News Bulletin 26 June 2017 (Why India should not push Pancheshwar Project in Nepal)

India should not push Pancheshwar Project in Nepal DIPAK GYAWALI asks a lot of pertinent questions here, including this one about PANCHESHWAR DAM: “Did it (India) not ram the Mahakali Treaty down Nepali throats in 1996 against all sane voices of caution and then has been unable to move an inch forward in all these two decades since then? As per the agreement, Nepal was to have received additional irrigation benefits from Tanakpur from an outlet with a sill level built maliciously high: Nepal has already spent billions building canals and distribution structures on its side but not only is there no movement on the Indian side, rather the latest Mughlani communication has been that you Nepalis can build all the canals you want on your side but we will do nothing until after the 6480 MW Pancheshwar high dam is built (when, in the next century?).” Read More