DRP News Bulletin 29 August 2016-WHEN DAMS CAUSE FLOODS

Map Showing the location of Bansagar Dam, Sone River, Ganga River and Patna

The dam induced flood disaster could only increase since we refuse to learn any lessons:

SANDRP Blog A tale of two dams: Is Bihar’s unprecedented flood an avoidable man-made disaster? Is the unprecedented water levels of Ganga that has flooded Bihar and UP an avoidable flood disaster? What role did the water releases from Bansagar dam in the upstream and Farakka Dam in the downstream play in this? SANDRP analysis of this developing situation. Feed back is welcome, Please help us disseminate this. Kindlyd also see the Hindi version of this blog here दो बाॅधों की कहानीः क्या बिहार की अप्रत्याशित बाढ़ एक टाली जा सकने वाली मानव जनित त्रासदी है? PRABHAT KHABAR newspaper of Ranchi carries “in-depth” articles by Parineeta Dandekar and Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP in the context of Bihar floods and demand to decommission Farakka barrage. Flood expert Dinesh Misra explaining role of dams behind unprecedented Ganga flood. In Part I of a separate report he narrates about Bihar/ Patna floods due to Ganga and Sone.  Also see, बिना नदियों के उफान के ही पटना डूब गया BBC Hindi website has published this based on a radio discussion they carried earlier on the issue of Bihar floods and role of Bansagar and Farakka dam.  

Bansagar dam is AGAIN chock-full Is Bihar on the brink of another flood? Good to see CATCH NEWS has carried our warning on Bansagar Dam preparing to create another flood disaster. Also good to see the official agreeing: “MG Choubey, Engineer-in-Chief of MP Water Resources department agreed that their recent water release was one of the highest in recent times”, but is in denial mode about the role in the floods in Bihar. The denial is devoid of logic. Indeed, Bansagar Dam water level has reached 341.22 m at 12 Noon on Aug 27, 2016, meaning water storage is 5074 MCM or 93.5% of reservoir capacity with ALL GATES CLOSED. If there is sudden high rainfall in its catchment, the dam would have to suddenly release a lot of water, leading to another wave of floods of downstream area including in Bihar and UP in addition to Madhya Pradesh downstream area.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 1.31.27 PM

Poor dam management responsible for Bihar flood An absence of a national policy on silt management has made the situation worse where most of the rivers including Ganga and Sone were choked with silt, points out Himanshu Thakkar, of SANDRP. He also adds that the drainage congestion and siltation in Ganga, created by Farakka barrage, led to an avoidable disaster in Bihar this year. He further stated that if Bansagar dam had not released water during this period of floods in the downstream area, the unprecedented floods in Bihar and UP could have been avoided. It shows mismanagement of the dam by Bansagar Control Board where Bihar is also a party to it along with MP and UP. Meanwhile, as central and eastern parts of the country reel under floods, experts are pointing to reasons other than heavy monsoon rain for the catastrophe like heavy silting of the Ganga, haphazard infrastructure development and mismanagement of dams, in this case Farakka. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP says that more than the monsoon, the cause of these floods is mismanagement, mostly of dams, and of course the haphazard development and embankment of the river. He further stated that “mismanagement at Bansagar Dam and the drainage congestion and siltation in Ganga created by the Farakka dam together created an avoidable flood disaster this year in Bihar and now in UP. Himanshu Thakkar says reservoirs like these should only be filled closer to the end of the monsoon and need to be operated in such a way during the monsoon that when downstream area is getting high rainfall, or facing floods, the reservoir does not have to release water to add to the downstream flooding.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 11.10.15 AM

Similarly, CM Nitish Kumar called on PM Narendra Modi on Aug 23 and pitched for a national silt management policy s a permanent solution to the flood problem. He also urged the PM to send a team of experts to assess the “unprecedented” situation and the latter agreed. Nitish demanded removal of Farakka barrage in West Bengal, which he said was behind the increasing silt in the Ganga. Earlier on July 17 this year, Nitish had raised the demand for removal of the dam at the 11th Inter State Council meeting, saying, “The disadvantages of the Farakka dam appear to be higher than its benefits.” Raising the issue of Bihar’s share in Ganges waters at the Inter State Council meeting, Nitish had 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. While Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has been blaming the Farakka barrage for the flooding in Patna and elsewhere in the state, it is now getting increasingly clear that sudden release of large volumes of water from Bansagar dam in MP could have been the main reason for the worst “man-made floods” in the country in several years. The floods in Bihar, UP & MP have once again brought the problems of silt & congestion into focus, but there does not appear to be any solution in sight. The situation may get worse if the states receive more rainfall in coming days as predicted by weather forecast agencies. Preventing a similar situation from recurring next year would require the two central committees mulling the issue coming out with their suggestions in time and states beginning the de-silting exercise much ahead of the next monsoon. The water resources ministry in May 2016 had set up a committee on ‘erosion and siltation in rivers’ to study the problems of erosion, siltation and requirement of de-siltation/dredging of all major rivers and suggest remedial measures. This panel has been given six months time to submit its report. Erosion and deposition of silt is a natural process. Rivers carry silt load as per their regime conditions like discharge in the river, slope, morphology and nature of silt. The movement of silt in a river is, however, affected due to construction of any barrier like dam across it. Though the cost effective measures for removal of drainage congestion in specific reaches of rivers had been formulated in the past, its implementation by states have been quite sketchy over the years.

Flood Map from The Hindustan Times

Meanwhile, water and environment experts have given a thumbs up to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s demand for the demolition of W-Bengal’s Farakka barrage on the river Ganga because it was causing heavy siltation and consequent flooding in Bihar. He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to desilt the river and formulate a National Silt Management Policy to ensure that dams and barrages do not lead to heavy deposition of silt upstream while reducing the flow of silt down to the river deltas. On the other hand, the experts have also cautioned that such a desiltation policy would require careful monitoring and supervision to ensure that the ecosystem of the river is not damaged. The environmentalists are also fearful that unmindful dredging of the Ganga and other rivers may be allowed under this pretence, as the Centre is also planning to create 105 national waterways for which a certain depth will be required in all the rivers for vessels to pass through.

According to water management expert Ashok Ghosh the barrages and the silt load have severely weakened Ganga’s water holding capacity. He further said that the flow of the Ganga has reduced owing to various man-made obstructions in its way, including dams in Uttarakhand and hydropower plants at Haridwar & the low flow has led to heavy siltation along Patna. Thus, the river overflows even with marginal rise in the flow of water from upstream. Also see, 6 rivers in spate in Bihar, 15k sheltered in 82 camps

FLOOD 2016

National Extent of Damage (cumulative figures) upto 25 Aug 2016

States Date when updated Population affected

 

No. of

human lives lost

No. of districts affected No. of villages affected No. of cattle/

Live- stock lost

Cropped area affected

(in ha)

Estimated value of Total damage

(Rs. In lakh)

Arunachal 23 Aug 39 14 15671  
Assam 24 Aug 36  
Bihar 24 Aug 63800000 127 24 4222 11 3800000 234931.00
Gujarat 25 Aug 12121 61 05 24 184
J & K 06 Aug 03
MP 22 Aug 383459 103 26 675 398  
Maharashtra 25 Aug 77082 83 06 930 906 15441  
Meghalaya 04 Aug 123444 4 1 151  
Odisha 24 Aug 15100 02 05 2694.37  
Sikkim 18 Aug 1700 03  
UP 24 Aug 1945372 51 29 2891 230 405218.43
Uttarakhand 25 Aug

 

673 91 13 782
Total 66358951 600 126 8893 18182 4223353.8 234931.00

Floods

Monsoon fury kills over 400 in 5 states Monsoon-triggered floods killed more than 400 people as scores of villages and towns and large swathes of cropland in five states were submerged by breaching water from swollen rivers over the past week. MP is the worst-hit with over 101 people dead and around 350,000 affected. The state, which was reeling under drought until the monsoon arrived, has received more than double the normal rainfall for the period. Unprecedented rain triggered floods in 30 of its 51 districts. In Bihar, which has received less than normal rainfall, the danger comes from its rivers. The overflowing Son, which flows into the state from MP to join the Ganga, has flooded large tracts in the state. A fresh spell of downpour has affected over 35,000 people in Jharkhand. In Uttarakhand, around 80 people have died this season with the latest victim being a woman said to be missing in Chamoli district following a cloudburst on Aug 22. 73 people were killed and thousands displaced because of the overflowing Ganga in UP. Also see, Monsoon fury rages in north

MP Khajuraho temples inaccessible after stop dam collapse According sources after heavy rain last month, the sluice gates of Khudar stop dam were not opened and the fresh spell on rain led to brimming of the stop dam and resulted in a breach in its concrete wall. It was later repaired but a portion of the road was still washed away and damaged.

Assam Majuli grapples with familiar erosion problem Majuli, one of the worst erosion-affected places, has seen its area shrink from 1256 sqkm in 1891 to 421 sqkm in 2016. About 450 km away, the Aie river that comes down from Bhutan changed course four weeks ago. The authorities have managed to divert the river temporarily by engaging half-a-dozen excavators and bulldozers for about a week. Since 1954, erosion caused by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries has destroyed and removed more than 4270 sqkm productive farmland, leaving over 50K families landless and homeless. This would be about 7.5% of the state’s area. The Brahmaputra has at places swollen to more than 15 km wide.

Gujarat Releases from MP, Rajasthan push up water levels in Gujarat Heavy rainfall in catchment areas of dams in neighbouring Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh on Aug 22 pushed up water levels in rivers and water bodies in Gujarat, forcing the authorities to raise an alarm and evacuate 850 people to safety. The water levels rose dramatically in the city of Ahmedabad, following which the lower promenade of Sabarmati River Front was closed for public as a precaution and over 160 security personnel were stationed at the river front to patrol the area in case of any eventuality. Heavy rains in the upstream neighbouring Rajasthan saw Dharoi dam in Mehsana receive fresh inflow of 1,54,000 cusecs of water. As the level of water in Dharoi reached a little above 619 feet, the authorities opened 10 gates of the dam to keep the water level below danger mark of 622 feet. The authorities also sound alert in over two dozen villages in the low lying areas on the banks of Sabarmati. Release of over 1.5 lakh cusecs of water from Dharoi dam created a crisis in Ahmedabad, as was feared when Sabarmati river front development plan was implemented.

Jharkhand & W-Bengal 3 more gates opened at Tenughat dam to release excess water  The heavy inflow of water has forced the Tenughta Dam management to open three more gates to release excess water. With this move, the management has now opened five gates at the dam. The dam has started releasing around 9 lakh cusec water per hour at rate of 15,000 cusec water per second since 10 am on Aug 22. The Tenughat management also has issued warning for a sudden increase in the water levels of the Damodar River in Bokaro and Dhanbad districts. Water Releases from Tenughat Panchet Dams of Damodar Valley in Jharkhand/ W Bengal created floods in the downstream areas. DVC officials remain in denial mode, and pass the blame to Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulation Committee, and also mention about increase in reservoir levels of Maithon (by 5 feet) and Panchet (by 10 feet) dams, it is not clear if they took any environment clearance for this. Meanwhile W Bengal CM threatens to go to court for DVC creating man made floods in the downstream. Surprisingly she avoided making comment on role of Farakka dam on creating similar floods in W-Bengal.

Bangladesh Flood 60,000 stranded in Kushtia after opening Farakka Barrage gates These are expected consequences of opening of Farakka gates on downstream Bangladesh, the water level of Padma (Ganga is known by that name in Bangladesh) likely to reach danger level, some 60000 people in 30 villages already affected in that country in addition to those in W Bengal. According to Bangadesh officials, the country has not witnessed this kind of floods in Padma (Ganga) since 1980s, say Bangladesh officials. The water levels is also reported as going up since Aug 22.

Chennai flood 2015 Encroachment of lakes & riverbeds caused Chennai floods A Parliament panel has listed encroachment of lakes and riverbeds as a major reason for the massive Chennai floods last year. The Parliamentary standing committee on home affairs in its report tabled in Parliament asked the state govt to check the real estate mafia involved in illegal construction. During the course of its inquiry into the reasons that led to the inundation of large parts of the Tamil Nadu capital last December, the panel was told by the state government that encroachments have been identified along and around the major water bodies. Some of the encroachers have already been evicted.

Op-Ed Look beyond land value and towards ecosystems by Manu Bhatnagar Cities urbanise existing watersheds and hence it is imperative that town planners respect the topography. When city planners compromise on basic principles and fail to respect the topography and end up serving real estate interests, the flooding problem becomes inbuilt into the city structure. The structural problem becomes aggravated with every inch of space being paved over leaving no space for water percolation into the ground. Thus, the surface runoff from hard surfaces increases. As a result, flooding occurs quickly due to faster concentration and greater flow.

MONSOON 2016

Recent Monsoon Rainfall figures

National India to receive normal rains, not surplus IMD official attributed the revision in forecast to the absence of La Niña, a weather phenomenon that typically causes stronger monsoons across Asia. India has so far received 2% lower rainfall than normal since the start of the monsoon season on June 1. According to another news report the monsoon rain fall has been 28% deficient in 3rd week of Aug (from 11 Aug to 17 Aug). It further report that except for the Northwest which received exactly the amount it was supposed to, the other 3 regions South Peninsula, Central & East & Northeast recorded less than normal rains.

Gujarat Drought shadow looms large It has been two months of Monsoon & as per IMD the rainfall deficit in Gujarat is about 22%. The State has already been facing drought for past two consecutive years leading to lowering of ground water levels in several parts. Of the 203 dams in the state, around 136 have less than 50% water available for drinking purpose, and of this, 60 dams are only 10% full. About 9 million cubic feet of water was allotted for Sardar Sarovar dam, however, the command area does not cover many parts of the state. Till March 2015 out of its objective of irrigating 18,45,000 ha (which later reduced to 17,92,000 ha), the dam has covered only 3,70,490 ha. After Tamil Nadu & Karnataka, drought shadow looms large over Gujarat. The report also reinforces the point that Sardar Sarovar dam fails to benefit the farmers in whose name it was built.

Bihar Floods in times of rain deficit Despite major parts of its 12 districts being inundated by floodwaters, Bihar has rainfall deficit of 16% so far this year. According to CM except for two years in the last one decade when the state received 1000 mm rainfall, it never recorded its average annual rainfall of 1200 to 1500 mm. He further added that in 8 years out of the last 10 years, the state received less than 900 mm rainfall, causing drought-like situation in many districts. Contrary to it, major parts of the state get flooded almost every year because of heavy rain in Jharkhand, MP parts of Nepal.  

Andhra Drought threat looms over With the south-west monsoon remaining inactive for a considerable period of time, the farming community in the state has begun to feel the heat. Barring one or two districts in Rayalaseema region, almost all districts in the state are reeling under drought due to the scanty rainfall. While Nellore district, which was virtually washed away in floods last year, is witnessing the highest rainfall deficit with minus 45 per cent rainfall during the season. While Prakasam is undergoing nearly 32 per cent deficit, Guntur has received 20 per cent less rainfall. In fact, the deficit will be much higher if it is compared with normal rainfall in August alone. Chance of saving the crop till harvest too is doubtful if the situation continues.

छत्तीसगढ़ में सूखे की आशंका छत्तीसगढ़ में 23 अगस्त तक 810.9 मिलीमीटर बारिश होनी चाहिए थी, लेकिन अब तक केवल 779 मिमी बारिश हुई है। प्रदेश के दो जिलों मुंगेली और महासमुंद में स्थिति ज्यादा गंभीर है। महासमुंद में जहां औसत 876 मिलीमीटर के मुकाबले 609 मिमी बारिश हुई है, वहीं मुंगेली में 692 मिमी के मुकाबले 484 मिमी ही बारिश हुई है। गंगरेल बांध लबालब है, लेकिन इसके टेल इंड के पास के खेतों को अब भी पानी का इंतजार है। मुंगेली और बेमेतरा के बार्डर पर स्थित बलौदा बाजार जिले के सिमगा ब्लॉक के आस पास के इलाकों विडंबना यह है कि खेतों से महज 50 मीटर की दूरी पर गंगरेल की बड़ी नहर से जुड़ी हुई सब कैनाल भी बनी है, इसके बावजूद इस इलाके में सैकड़ों एकड़ में लगी दलहन की फसल बर्बादी के कगार पर है। उल्लेखनीय है कि पिछले साल प्रदेश में सूखे की मार से सबक लेकर किसानों ने खेती के पैटर्न में बदलाव करते हुए धान के स्थान पर दलहन की फसल लेने का निर्णय किया, लेकिन बारिश होने के कारण अब 250 एकड़ में लगी मूंग और सोयाबीन की फसल फल लगने के साथ ही मुरझाने लगा है।

INTER LINKING OF RIVERS

Report River interlinking project is imprudent & dangerous According to Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator, SANDRP there have been no scientific basis to say that. All you have is an incomplete study that says this is good for the country. One has to exhaust all options and potentials before concluding that river-linking is the best alternative. Exhaust options such as watershed development, rainwater harvesting, ground water recharge, optimizing existing infrastructure and cropping methods and then we can conclude that water-linking might be good. But there has been no assessments done.

Centre Water Situation in drought affected areas The report of on the Spot Study of Water Situation in Drought Affected Areas of the country (2015-16) has recommended interlinking of rivers among other options as important measures to meet the challenges of overall water scarcity scenario in the country. The study was carried out by Central Water Commission. In some areas like Marathwada of Maharashtra, Bundelkhand of UP and MP interlinking projects have been recommended. The study says that at almost all places minimum domestic water requirements are being met through importing water from other regions. However, no specific observation on water quality has been reported at most of the areas except in Gujarat, where problem of salinity in coastal areas has been reported.

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Pranhita canals Photo by SANDRP

SANDRP Blog Proposed Maharashtra Telangana Inter-state Water sharing Agreement of Aug 23, 2016: In complete violation of people’s rights & environmental laws of India We would appeal to the governments and Chief Minister of two states to not to enter into agreements that involves projects that violations of laws. Moreover, no such agreement should be signed till there is Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the gram sabhas of all the villages in the basins and till the projects involved has all the clearances. Else, such half baked agreement will neither help the people nor the projects. Maharashtra and Telangana are likely to sign a Godavari water sharing agreement on Aug 23, 2016. Amruta Pradhan of SANDRP explains why this is in violation of People’s rights and Laws of India. The blog has been mentioned in media also.

Mahanadi Row Dharmendra Pradhan meets Uma Bharti A delegation from Odisha led by Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan called on Union Water Minister Uma Bharti on Aug 24 and requested her to sort out Mahanadi water issue at the earliest. Speaking after the meeting Bharti informed that she will hold a meeting with the CMs of Odisha and Chhattisgarh on a mutually convenient date between Sep10-20, 2016 to ensure that no injustice is done to Odisha.

Cauvery Row Tamil Nadu moves SC for Cauvery water release Accusing Karnataka of flouting the principles of federalism and inter-State water-sharing, the Tamil Nadu govt on Aug 22 moved the Supreme Court for an urgent directive to the Karnataka govt to release 50.052 TMC feet of Cauvery water to irrigate the farmland of Tamil Nadu in the “interest of justice.” In an application, Tamil Nadu blamed Karnataka for diverting the water meant to be a life-saver for Tamil Nadu farmers during distress years for undeclared projects in violation of the final orders of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 2007. The State said its letter to Karnataka on July 30, requesting it to make good the shortfall of 22.934 TMC feet, as on July 26, had not received a reply till date. Earlier on Aug 18 CM Jayalalithaa told the Legislative Assembly that she had ordered filing of an interlocutory plea in the Supreme Court seeking release of Cauvery water as per the final award of the Cauvery Water Tribunal.  As per the final award of the Cauvery Water Tribunal, the annual irrigation period is between June of a year and May of the next year.

Chhattisgarh & Odisha Sundargarh worried about power project The possibility of a water crisis in Sundargarh and Jharsuguda district due to the proposed barrage construction on Ib river by Chhattisgarh govt has further magnified after it was learnt that another hydro-power project over Ib river at Gulu village in Chhattisgarh is under construction. The residents of Sundargarh, who have earlier expressed their concern over the construction of the barrage, have demanded intervention of the state govt. According to sources, the proposed hydropower project in Gulu will utilize water from river Ib river to generate about 24KW electricity. The project, which was conceived in 2007, received clearance from the state and central govt.

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS

Centre Ports to promote waterways as Centre plans policy rejig On Aug 22, Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari said on the sidelines of a summit organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce that the Centre is framing a policy to enable all major ports to set up subsidiary companies to develop inland waterways. This is part of its plan to cut logistics costs for exporters by moving more cargo on water instead of over land. The establishment of separate units will facilitate easy foreign funding for inland waterway projects by capitalizing on the financial credentials of the govt owned ports. The objective of the govt is to reduce logistics costs to make exports competitive and all ports will be asked to improve inland waterways in their periphery to divert large part of the cargo on waterways which is cost effective. India’s biggest container port Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), will develop waterways on 7 to 8 in Maharashtra which flow from MP. Goa Port will be the next to follow and will develop inland waterways on two rivers. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been prepared. The minister also said that his ministry needs Rs.80000 cr to develop 20000 km inland waterways in the country and it cannot be met through Shipping Ministry’s annual budget of Rs.1800 cr. The shipping ministry has also urged the finance ministry to allocate 5 per cent of the money collected as cess on diesel and petrol for inland waterways.

DAMS

NBA PR सरदार सरोवर बाँध विस्थापितों ने जाम की सड़क; 150 विस्थापित आदिवासी गिरफ़्तार गुजरात के हज़ारों सरदार सरोवर विस्थापितों ने आज बाँध स्थल पर जाने वाला रास्ता वाघोडिया गाँव के पुल के पास रोक दिया है। 15 जून 2016 से धरने पर बैठे, हज़ारों आदिवासी विस्थापितों ने रोज 80 से 100 की संख्या में साकली उपवास किया। आज तक उन्हें ठोस जवाब अधिकारियों ने नहीं दिया केवल 18 जून को एक बार चर्चा के बाद अनदेखा कर दिया तो आज हज़ारों विस्थापितों ने रास्ते पर उतरकर बाँध स्थल पर जानलेवा रास्ता रोक दिया अभी की खबर है, जब हज़ारों विस्थापित जुट रहे हैं, पुलिसों ने केवडिया कॉलोनी में करीबन 150 आदिवासियों को गिरफ़्तार करके उन्हें पुलिस स्टेशन लेकर गए हैं। 2500-3000 लोगों को पुलिस ने रोककर जो वाघोडिया के पास रास्ते पर बैठे थे तो गाँधीनगर से बात करवायी और कहा कि हम आपके प्रश्नों पर निर्णय ले रहे हैं – प्रक्रिया अब भी चालू है। वे सभी लोग अब रास्ते पर, पुलिसों के घेरे में ही चलकर धरना स्थल की ओर जा रहे हैं। Also see, Narmada dam oustees block traffic in Kevadia Colony

Centre Storage status of 91 reservoirs The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on Aug 24, 2016 was 102.147 BCM, which is 65% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This was 112% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 102% of storage of average of last ten years. States having better storage than last year for corresponding period are Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP, MP, Andhra & Telangana & Karataka. States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Himachal, Punjab, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

HYDRO POWER

Uttarakhand Alaknanda Hydro Power told to pay Rs9.26 cr to flood victims Rejecting the contention that the June 2013 Uttarakhand floods were an “Act of God”, the Green Tribunal has asked Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd to pay Rs.9.26 cr to victims in Srinagar city within 30 days. Alaknanda Hydro Power told NGT that the victims of the flooding had already been compensated by the govt and the loss due to floods was an “Act of God” over which the developer had no control. However, the NGT bench set aside the company’s contention that the damage was the result of an “Act of God”. The bench said that even if it was an Act of God, a question remains to be examined as to whether the principle of ‘no fault liability’ can be invoked in the present case or not. Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd was found responsible for not disposing off the muck generated from the construction of the 330MW Srinagar Hydro electric project in Srinagar town as per the guidelines. Due to muck deposition during the torrential rain on June 16 and 17, when the gates of the dam remained closed, it led to creation of a reservoir. Opening of gates resulted in massive flow of water suddenly sweeping away the muck dumped on the river body and carrying it to the villages and the town. The tribunal directed the company to pay Rs 9,26,42,795 with 30 days as compensation into the Emergency Relief Fund Authority, to be paid to the victims affected by the incident. The tribunal also directed Alakhnanda Hydro Power Co Ltd to pay an amount of 1 lakh each to the applicant as well as to Bharat Jhunjhunwala who is another respondent as and by way of cost. The tribunal further directed the Uttarakhand government to issue necessary directions to the district magistrate of Pauri to depute a senior sub-divisional magistrate to look after the claims made. Also see, press releases by Matu Jansangthan & LIFE on the issue.

Himachal Reliance says no to Jangi-Thopan project According to reports Reliance Power has refused to execute the project. Now, the Cabinet will take a fresh call on the project that has been hanging fire for the last 10 years. The govt had issued a letter of intent to Reliance Power after the withdrawal of its petition from the Supreme Court last month. It had extended the deadline for the company to deposit the upfront premium till Aug 1. But the company did not show any interest in depositing the upfront premium. The govt had offered the project to Reliance Power as the company had pleaded that it was the second highest bidder after Brakel of the Netherlands and the project should be allotted to it after the govt cancelled the allotment to Brakel in 2009. The govt had allotted the project to Brakel in 2006, but it did not deposit the upfront premium.

Northeast’s hydropower potential may fulfil demand? Developing hydropower projects in the north-eastern states will help India fulfil its electricity demand and achieve energy security. Out of the country’s estimated hydro power generation potential of around 145,000 MW, north-eastern states account for 58000MW, with Arunachal Pradesh having a potential of around 50,064MW. However, according to the report, only 2% of the total potential in the northeast has been tapped. Vested interest lobbies have started to push large hydro in North East India as BJP has come to power in Assam.

W-Bengal CEA gives nod to 1,000-MW Turga hydel project According officials the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has conditionally approved the Rs 4,500 cr Turga pump storage hydroelectric project of 1,000 megawatt in Purulia district of West Bengal. The state planned to install a 1,200-MW solar plant to feed the 1,000-MW pump storage hydel power plant at Turga. The state, however, is yet to receive the official communication from the CEA. It is strange, the project does not enough land, no environment clearance, finances are uncertain, but Central Electricity Authority has given clearance. Also see, India readies plan to improve renewable power storage Indeed, SANDRP has written that this is a good option, but how about using existing hydro and pump storage projects optimally first before going for new ones.

IRRIGATION

Telangana Only 20 lakh acres get irrigation Very pertinent figures, according to Telangana department of Economics and Statistics report:

  • Data from the Department of Economics and Statistics has shown that only about 20 lakh acres of the total 1.06 crore acres of arable land has irrigation support from the existing half a dozen major and about 30 minor and medium irrigation projects in the state.
  • During 2014-15, the gross irrigated area in the state decreased to 62 lakh acres from 76 lakh acres in 2013-14 (19.80% decrease) due to drought-like conditions. The net irrigated area also decreased to 42 lakh acres from 56.83 lakh acres (a 24% decrease) in the past two years. This is mainly due to two years of consecutive drought in the state, the report says.
  • Agricultural production under canals and tanks has been decreasing over the past few decades. The ayacut for Nizamsagar project was supposed to be nine lakh acres, but only five lakh acres are getting water. The Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme was designed for 87,500 acres but only 30,000 acres is being irrigated under the scheme. Also, schemes like the Sri Ramsagar Project canal was partially constructed and farmers are not getting enough water.

According another media report, on Aug 24 farmers in the state go berserk demanding SRSP water and ransacked the office of SRSP SE in Sultanabad mandal headquarters and also pelted stones at two RTC buses during a rasta roko demanding release of water to Peddapalli Assembly segment from the SRSP. Later, they came on to the roads carrying their withered paddy nursery and blocked the traffic on Rajiv Rahadari by burning tyres. In the melee, some agitators threw stones at stranded RTC buses damaging their window panes.

RIVERS

Shastri RIver Photo by SANDRP

SANDRP MARATHI BLOG छोटी गोष्ट, महाराष्ट्रातल्या मोठ्या नद्यांची  सह्याद्रीच्या पर्वतरांगा महाराष्ट्रातील अनेक लहान-मोठ्या नद्यांचे माहेरघर आहेत. येथून दोन प्रकारच्या नद्या उगम पावतात: दक्षिण वाहिनी: ज्या विस्तीर्ण, महराष्ट्रापल्याड जाणार्या आहेत, आणि पश्चिम वाहिनी नद्या, ज्या तशा छोट्या, सुबक आणि ओघवत्या आहेत. मोठ्या दक्षिणवाहिनी नद्यांमध्ये आहेत गोदावरी (आमची नदी, मी नाशिकची.), भीमा, कृष्णा आणि कोयना. पश्चिमवाहिनी नद्या अनेक आहेत, जसे की दमणगंगा (गुजरातेत जाणारी, कदाचीत नदीजोड प्रकल्पात भरडून निघणारी), काळू ,शाई (यांवर मुंबईसाठी मोठी धरणे नियोजित आहेत) उल्हास, वैतरणा (मुंबईला पाणीपुरवठा करणार्या), सावित्री (महाडचे रासायनिक प्रदूषण रीचवणारी), वशिष्ठी, (कोयनेचे/दुष्काळी भागाचे पाणी न मागताच आपल्या ओटीत सामावणारी, व नंतर लोटे परशुरामच्या रासायनिक प्रदूषणाने आपले मासे, जीवसृष्टी गमावणारी) शास्त्री (महराष्ट्रातील कदाचित एकमेव मुक्तवाहिनी नदी!), कर्ली (तळकोकणातला हिरा!) इत्यादी. Beginning of Marathi blog of SANDRP by Parineeta Dandekar. Also see, Second Marathi blog by Parineeta Dandekar.

National Green panel directs MoEF to submit report on RRZ Noting that unhindered construction on floodplains had resulted in severe floods in various parts of the country, the Green Tribunal on Aug 22 took strong exception to the undue delay in filing of a draft report on the River Regulation Zone and directed the Environment Ministry to submit the report by Oct 3. The court expressed displeasure that despite its 2013 direction the Environment Ministry was sitting on the report for the past three years. On the other hand majority of states have opposed constitution of RRZ along rivers to regulate development activities and prevent encroachments along the rivers and floodplains. Draft river regulation zone notification, proposing to declare river stretches and floodplain zones as river conservation zones, was circulated to states in January this year by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Two reminders have already gone to states to respond on the matter. As of now only 10 states have responded and all of them have opposed the move. These states include Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Mizoram, Sikkim, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Pondicherry.

Kerala Protest against river pollution More than 100 employees staged a protest on the Infopark campus here on Aug 19 seeking action to save the Periyar, which has turned into a highly polluted water body. According to the protesting employees, Periyar turned red 44 times last year alone and mass fish kill was reported in the river 23 times. Though industrial units in the area have been discharging waste into the river, the authorities concerned seem to be the least bothered. No action has been taken on complaints registered in this regard.

Haryana Tangri river bed to be notified The Irrigation Department has moved a file to the govt for the notification of the river bed. As per the information provided by the department, nearly 7-km stretch (from Boh village to Ghasitpur) and the entire width of the river bed between the ‘bandh’ has been included for the notification. Tangri is a seasonal river and residents of colonies located on the river bed in Ambala Cantonment. The colonies on the river bed are illegal, yet construction goes on without any regard to safety. Because of the illegal colonies, the river has shrunk and it poses a danger to the people residing there. More than 1,700 families reside on the river bed. This year, the administration had put up notices in the colonies built on the river bed, asking residents to vacate their houses and shift to safer places.

Fishermen Boat (Photo Green Ganges)

GANGA SANDRP Guest Blog Walking upstream along the Ganga from Ganga Sagar to Gangotri The ‘Moving Upstream’ project intends to understand and present a narrative of the river and it’s people, hoping this will lead to more meaningful conversation and inclusive action by the government. In a recent announcement by Uma Bharti Ji, she said she will march down the length of the river to take stock of the status of various projects commissioned by her. I’m glad that cues are possibly being taken from the Moving Upstream project, but like every other government project, when will our habit of assessment (if at all) after execution stop and preparedness & understanding before implementation materialise? I hope she does her Ganga yatra before approving any projects, I hope for inclusiveness.

River Navigation

Third Pole Report The dolphin, the fisherman and the holy river At first glance, the Ganga in eastern Bihar bears some resemblance to a beautiful, sacred river. Few places are as beautiful as the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary. This is the only sanctuary legally designated for India’s national aquatic animal, the blind, side-swimming, most ancient of all cetaceans: the endangered Gangetic river dolphin, Platanista gangetica gangetica. Stretching over 67 km of the river, the sanctuary lies between Sultanganj and Kahalgaon. Part I of Arati Kumar Rao’s two part reports on Ganga.

NGT Efforts of Centre, UP to clean Ganga have had ‘zero’ results The efforts by the Centre and UP to clean the Ganga have borne “zero” result, the Green Tribunal said on Aug 25, as it pulled them up and sought reports on the discharge of industrial waste in the river between Haridwar and Kanpur. The green panel came down heavily on the MoEF, Water Resources, CPCB and other authorities for not taking a clear stand with regard to the cleaning of Ganga and gave them the “final opportunity” to submit the reports within two weeks.

UP Farmers are moving away from ‘cash crop’ sugarcane Uttar Pradesh is the leader in sugarcane farming and sugar and the largest contributor to the state economy. But, both these statuses may soon be lost owing to the recent crisis, where payments have not being made in time. About 13%-14% reduction in area under sugarcane in two years, should be seen as a blessing since this would mean less exploitation of water resources in Ganga basin.

YAMUNA Delhi Delhi’s waste chokes Yamuna of all aquatic life The 22-km stretch along the national capital has virtually no aquatic life – thanks to over 20 drains that pour untreated sewage and other waste into the river.  It is not that the Yamuna River has no aquatic life at all. Upstream from Wazirabad, before the river enters Delhi, it is home to turtles, different species of fish, crocodiles and an abundance of aquatic plants and phytoplankton.

AoL vs NGT The Art of Living and Gassing According to the principal committee’s report the damage on the Yamuna floodplain will have long term impacts on “all forms of life and quality of water”. Now, Ravishankar and company can go on picking on the legal loopholes in the system, as they are doing now. However, that won’t change the fact that their 35th birthday bash, the World Cultural Festival, has caused much harm to the environment, the river Yamuna and the livelihood of people. Ironically, for an organisation that prides itself on knowing some secret art of living, AoL could perhaps start by not trying to cover up how it destroyed an ecosystem.

UP SC notice to ASI on barrage across Yamuna The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Archaeological Survey of India and other govt departments on a plea seeking construction of a barrage over the Yamuna near the Taj Mahal. BJP leader and SC lawyer Ajay Agrawal has filed a plea stating that the dry Yamuna would spell doom for the monument’s longevity. The SC gave two weeks’ time to the ASI to file its reply in the matter while hearing the plea on Aug 22.

SAND MINING

Sand mining

Himachal File report on illegal mining Taking a serious note of illegal mining, the state High Court (HC) on Aug 24 directed the state govt to file a status report stating that what steps have been taken to curb the mining mafia. It further directed the state to inform what action had been taken against those officers of the district administration, who allowed the mining mafia to construct the road which was later dismantled in Palampur. The court also asked the authorities that what were the reasons for collapsing of the Kandrouri bridge near Indora on Aug 11 which was a link between Pathankot and Indora. On Aug 22, following HC order the local administration dismantled more illegal roads constructed by the mining mafia leading to the Neugal riverbed. The state govt has already imposed a complete ban on illegal mining which was going on unchecked in the area under political protection. In the past two years, govt officers had remained apathetic to the mining mafia and large-scale mining was reported over 35-km stretch of Neugal river between Palampur and Alampur. In most of the cases of illegal mining nominal penalties were imposed. Taking serious note on the issue of illegal mining at Palampur, the HC on Aug 17 too had directed the state govt to file a status report within one week. While passing the order the court also issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Secretary (Home), Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, SDM, Palampur and DSP, Palampur on this issue. On Aug 13 also, local administration along with heavy police force dismantled the roads constructed by mining mafia leading to illegal mining site in Neugal river near Paror. Since the matter is now in the HC  administration has been working with full force to control the illegal mining. On June 21, roads constructed by the mining mafia to lift stone sand and other building material near Nagri, were dismantled. Local residents had filed a complaint to the SDM that illegal mining was going on in the area posing a serious threat to the environment. Villagers had also complained that if no timely action was taken, there could large-scale erosion, which could damage residential houses and agriculture land. Despite the state govt ban on mining in all rivers, hills and local streams of the region, large-scale illegal and unscientific mining and quarrying have been going on unchecked in this area. It has not only created environmental imbalances, but also caused a huge loss to the state exchequer. The illegal mining has resulted in large-scale deforestation, landslides and flash floods. Over 25,000 hectares has been affected by mining, quarrying and other constriction activities.

WATER

PMO open to single water panel The Prime Minister’s Office, it is learnt, is receptive to the idea of forming the proposed National Water Commission (NWC) by merging the Central Water Commission & the Central Ground Water Board. The NWC was the key recommendation of a report submitted last month by a committee headed by water expert Mihir Shah that was tasked with reorganising river water management in the country. This comes ahead of a crucial meeting in the Ministry of Water Resources on Aug 24, where the future of surface and groundwater management in the country will be deliberated on. This story has come at an opportune time when a meeting with senior officials of CWC is slated today. This quote of CWC officials, though is interesting: “the Shah committee report was “based on incorrect water resource scenario, wrong interpretation of data, selective literature review to suit certain ideology and is not aligned with constitutional & legal framework of the country.

Maharashtra Sugar mill ‘pollutes’ lone water source of village in Latur Locals have alleged that molasses released from a sugar mill has polluted a reservoir, the only source of water in Darji Borgaon village in Renapur tehsil of Latur district in Maharashtra. Rena Co-operative Sugar Mill, controlled by a local political leader, allegedly discharged tonnes of molasses in the reservoir earlier this month. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has issued a notice to the mill, the district collector said when contacted.

Uttarakhand 12,000 water sources dried up in state: Study More than 12,000 natural water sources have dried up in Uttarakhand till last decade. Besides these water bodies, subsidiary sources, which enrich these main sources, have also dried up due to lack of required forestation and increased urbanisation. This figure has emerged in a study undertaken by a Dehradun-based NGO. According to the study done especially in Nainital and Mussoorie hills by scientists from three institutes, due to increase in demand of water in the hill region owing to speedy urbanisation, the entire weight fell on these existing water sources, speeding up their drying up and depletion.

H2WOE India’s Water Crisis: A Warning to the World The Indian state of Punjab is undergoing a severe water crisis. Once an agricultural leader in India, it’s now turning into a desert. Farmers and other rural dwellers are going bankrupt over the need to pay for water delivered from other regions. In this drastic situation, the number of suicides has skyrocketed, but the authorities deny that people are killing themselves over the water shortage. Documentary on worsening water crisis in India.

AGRICULTURE

Tamil Nadu In last 5 years, production surpassed 100 lakh tones  The report says that in the last five years, 11,880 villages were covered by the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as a whole village concept and 27.20 lakh acres were brought under this technology, which helped it get a yield of 4,429 kg of paddy per hectare, he said, adding that this year 3,000 more villages were being covered by SRI.

ENERGY

Confusion reigns over new renewable purchase obligations The Union govt is likely to revisit the renewable purchase obligation (RPO) targets for state-owned power distribution companies. The order titled “Guidelines for long term RPO trajectory for non-solar as well as solar” enlists the yearly RPO trajectory for both non-solar and solar power purchase from the current year till 2018-19. The new guidelines make it mandatory for all states to purchase a certain per cent of their power demand from solar. This, the order said, “should reach 8% of total consumption of energy, excluding hydro power, by March 2022”.  RPO keeps hydro power out in calculating total energy consumption. According to analyst the order mentions that state electricity regulatory commissions should calculate RPO as a per cent of total energy consumption excluding hydro. According to the Electricity Act, 2003, total energy consumption includes hydro. This order of Ministry of Power, excluding hydro from calculating RPO obligations for discoms is questionable.

Power cuts in a time of surplus In a nutshell, the ills plaguing the sector can be attributed to poor financials of discoms, inadequate investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure and lack of cost recovery from certain consumers. Also such simple deductions of “power surplus” divert attention from the stark reality that there are more than 55 million households waiting to be plugged in. That latent demand is not part of any “surplus” calculus. That’s why when measuring power sector growth—and planning to scale up for the future—using just the yardstick of “adequate availability of electricity” will be inadequate. A truer, holistic gauge would be 24×7 reliable power supply to all at an affordable price.

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan The dam stained with blood The Tarbela dam stands like a wall in the middle of the Indus river 470 feet high and 9,000 feet long. Seen from a distance, it can be mistaken for the horizon. In the towns of Swabi district, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the dam is the cause of both employment and hardship, depending on who you ask. Nearby, there is a housing project where thousands of engineers and workmen live in the Tarbela housing community. A few miles away live villagers who were displaced when the dam was first built. Despite a nearly $500 million resettlement package allocated for those affected by the original dam project, many have not been compensated.

Study Indo-Bhutan energy cooperation agreement questioned Thimpu’s diplomatic relations with India and the consequent implementation of hydropower projects are considered “politically sensitive” and could potentially prevent critical information from reaching the people, a study of the Bhutan-India energy cooperation and implementation says. To ascertain that both the countries and their citizens benefit equally within the framework of friendship, the study states that it is necessary to critically review the modalities of friendship, translated into various agreements. This reflects very poorly about India-Bhutan cooperation on hydropower projects.

Nepal Proposed power sector reforms If the Cabinet approves the fourth amendment of the Electricity Regulations Act (1993), it will signal a sea-change in hydropower development in Nepal. If the act is approved, hydropower producers interested in projects of up to 100 MW will no longer be required to get the go ahead of the Ministry of Energy to carry out survey, build power plants and generate electricity.

Karnali a river basin home to drought and poverty The Karnali river basin consists of 1,461 glaciers. It covers a total area of 1,120 sq km and a drainage area of 44,000 sq km, most of which is in Nepal. Despite this proximity to rivers and alluvial soil, only 1% of the area is cultivable.  In Nepal, approximately 45% of the river basin lies above 4,500 metres and is covered by snow for most of the year. Most of the rest land is between 2,500-4,500 metres and is not suitable for intensive agriculture. Since much of the region is also in a partial rain shadow area, rainfall here is low – 80% of it in the months of July & Aug. Any drastic change to this ecological balance often spells disaster to the people living in the river basin. Interesting research about Karnali River Basin in Nepal (part of Ghaghra River Basin of India).

REST OF ASIA

Water Wars in Central Asia The relations of the five former Soviet Republics in Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—are, more often than not, defined by water. When they were still a part of the Soviet Union, the upstream republics—Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—which have an abundance of water, would release some from their reservoirs in the spring and summer to generate electricity and nourish crops both on their own land and in the downstream republics, which would return the favor by providing gas and coal each winter.

ENVIRONMENT

Punjab Bathinda refinery damaging crops & cattle Residents of Kanakwal village in the district are blaming pollution from the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery for not only damaging their paddy crop due to acid rain but also turning their buffaloes and cows infertile. The villagers have also complained of respiratory problems and skin and eye allergies caused by the toxic fumes emitted by the refinery. Doctors have advised pregnant women to leave the village till the birth of their child in the wake of polluted air in and around the village. The situation is no different in Naurang village of Sirsa, Haryana, as Kanakwal is situated near Punjab’s borders with Haryana.

Study Western Ghats can contribute up to 30% of rainfall in Bengaluru The study by researchers from IISc sought to gauge the composition of the rain in the city through isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen. The lush forests and towering hills of the Western Ghats not only play an important role in capturing and storing rainwater, but are also crucial to the amount of rain falling in Bengaluru and other neighbouring areas. Not sure how sound this is, but coming from IISc, I thought we need to take note of it. Anyone can throw more light, it would be useful. Also see, Large scale conversion of forest land weakening monsoon Important research published in NATURE showing the relation between forests and monsoon in India.  

DROUGHT 2015-16 A lessons from desolation Drought 2015-16 has affected more than 330 million people in more than 2.5 lakh villages of 266 districts from 11 states. It has had a devastating impact on people’s lives as it affected water availability, agriculture, livelihoods, food production and food security, natural resources and also put a huge burden on exchequer. Action Aid report on 2015-16 Drought.

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP

You may like to see DRP News Bulletin 22 August 2016 & DRP News Bulletin 16 August 2016

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