“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. Read More
The Chief Minister, Maharashtra State
And The Chairman, State Water Council
Subject: GR Dated 4th July 2016 on constituting a Committee to look into River Rejuvenation Proposals (नदी पुनर्जीवन कार्यक्रमा अतर्गत प्रस्ताव मंजुरी देण्यासाठी समिती गठीत करणे बाबत)
Hon. Shri. Devendra Fadnavisji,
It is good to see that through a Government Resolution dated 4th July 2016[i], the Government is seeking to regulate uncontrolled and unregulated River Widening, straightening and Deepening Works being undertaken under Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan (JSA) and outside JSA. The GR states that a committee under the Chairpersonship of Minister of Water Conservation is formed to give permission to “River Rejuvenation Projects”.(नदी पुनर्जीवन) Read More
Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA), formed under the MWRRA Act 2005 has been the first Regulatory Authority formed in India, on the explicit directions of the World Bank. While the focus of the World Bank was more on tradable Water Rights, Water use entitlements and generally pushing water as an economic good, the Authority found itself dealing with more substantial issues of equitable water distribution soon after it was formed. Even at the time of its constitution, several organizations had cautioned about its bureaucrat-heavy and exclusive constitution, looking at the vast challenges Maharashtra faces. In its past 10 years, the Authority has always been in the news and not always for the right reasons.
Bihar CM demands removal of Farakka barrage CM Nitish Kumar on July 16 demanded removal of Farakka barrage on river Ganga, saying “the disadvantages of the barrage appear to be higher than its benefits”. Raising the issue of Bihar’s share in Ganges waters at the 11th Inter State Council meeting in New Delhi, Nitish also sought the Centre’s intervention to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin so that the entire length of Ganga has continuous supply of water even during lean season. The meeting was chaired by PM Narendra Modi and attended by CMs of different states and union ministers. The CM also told the meeting that responsibility to ensure the required water availability at Farakka barrage has been put solely on Bihar. Presenting Bihar’s views Nitish further added that about 16% of the catchment area of river Ganga is in Bihar, but in the lean season 3/4th of the total water flowing in Ganga comes from rivers of Bihar. Estimated 400 cusecs of water flow is received at the Uttar Pradesh border of Bihar in river Ganga. However, at Farakka barrage, 1500 cusecs of water flow is to be ensured, which is achieved mainly through the water contributed by the rivers of Bihar. Indeed, during lean season, not even 400 cusecs of water flow is available at the border of Bihar. In this regard, Centre’s intervention is required to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin, so that the entire length of Ganga river in Bihar has continuous supply of water even during lean season. Nitish also demanded formulation of an effective National Silt Management Policy, saying such a body at the national level is essential for silt management as well as for ensuring uninterrupted flow of water not only in Ganga, but all the other rivers.
Above: Protest against Lower Subansiri Project in Assam. Basin Study of Lower Subansiri is also a part of intense debate in Assam. Now these studies are under wraps by the MoEF and CC
Non-transparent Environment Governance does not help anyone, neither is it legal. In the upcoming Expert Meeting of the MoEF and CC on River Valley Projects (read dams), documents pertaining to 6 of the 8 projects being considered are not available!
We have appealed to the new Minister to take swift action against this non-transparent and non-democratic governance in the MoEF and CC. Please feel free to send similar letters to the email addresses mentioned below. Read More
Above: Sonthi Barrage in Karnataka standing without Environmental Clearance
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has issued a Draft Notification which aims to “regularise” projects which have violated the basic tenet of Environment Law and Governance in the country: starting work without securing Environmental Clearance. While any such violation should be punishable to deter any contempt of the much-abused environment laws, the Ministry is seeking to do just the opposite: Regularize the violations by constituting a wishy-washy Environmental Supplemental Plan, as outlined in the Draft Notification.
This seems like one of Mr Prakash Javdekar’s last acts as Environment Minister (before he got transferred to HRD with promotion to cabinet rank) that, typically similar to his other acts during his seriously problematic two year tenure, was totally against what he was expected to do: Protection of environment. We hope the new incumbent at MoEF&CC will cancel this notification immediately. Read More
While more than allocated and more than enough water supply from Khadakwasla Project Complex steals the water supply show in Pune, water below the ground remains pretty much out of sight and out of mind for Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and everyone else. Roughly estimated use close to one thousand million cubic feet (TMC) remains not just ungoverned but completely unacknowledged. Though groundwater use forms an important component of non-potable water use in the city total quantity of the groundwater extracted remains unassessed. Drilling of borewells has been going on unregulated and groundwater level has been falling at the rate of quarter of a meter per annum. Neither PMC nor any other State agencies like Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA functioning as State Groundwater Authority) or Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) is governing the resource and have taken any concrete steps for its conservation. Read More