DRP News Bulletin 23 Jan. 2017 (Unjustified Ken-Betwa Link Costs: Bundelkhand To Gain Nothing, Panna To Lose Its Tigers)

SANDRP Blog Little for Bundelkhand, lot for contractors in Ken Betwa river-link The official executive summary of the Detailed Project Report of KBLRP on NWDA website says: “The main objective of the Ken-Betwa link project is to make available water to water deficit areas of upper Betwa basin through substitution from the surplus waters of Ken basin.” Upper Betwa basin (Raisen and Vidisha districts of MP) is not in Bundelkhand. So KBLRP is essentially facilitating export of water from drought prone Bundelkhand to area outside Bundelkhand, which, in fact is well endowed with over 900 mm of average annual rainfall.

The DPR further says, a third o the surplus water will be utilized for “enroute irrigation of 0.60 lakh ha. in the districts of Tikamgarh and Chhatarpur of MP and Mahoba & Jhansi of U.P.” The claim in the minutes of Expert Appraisal Committee meeting of Dec 30, 2016 that “It is proposed to provide irrigation facility in 6,35,661 ha of area in Panna, Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh Districts of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba and Jhansi Districts in Uttar Pradesh” needs to be put in context here. Firstly, this claim is far in excess of what the presumed surplus water can irrigate.

The whole ongoing exercise of securing statutory environment, forest and wildlife clearances for this project is seriously compromised at each step of the way from impact assessment, public consultations appraisal and governance making the progress legally untenable.

Why then is the project being pushed? As a top official in Ministry of Water Resources told us last month, it is going to be about Rs 30 000 crores project, if not more. There is a strong contractor-politician-bureaucrat-engineer-consultant nexus that sees huge opportunities in a project which involves so much money, he told us. We hope the legal institutions see through all this and would stop this madness.

As the fate of Bundhelkhand’s tigers hang in the balance along with vultures, golden mahseer and other species, including humans. Inflated claims of its efficacy, combined with silence on its true costs, along with political pressure, have eased its passage even through the wildlife panels that one might expect to be a stumbling block in its path.

Earlier on Jan. 05, 2017 the Evironment Minister Anil Madhav Dave’s told the non-official expert members of the ministry’s appraisal committees to clear the projects or resign. He urged the experts not to delay projects for the requirements of studies. He further told them to work hard to clear the bulk of pending processes over the next three months.

It is worth to note that in its first two years, the Modi government has cleared over 2,000 projects involving investment worth Rs 10 lakh crore. In May 2016, Dave’s predecessor Prakash Javadekar had said that the average waiting period for project approval had been brought down to 190 days from 600 days during the UPA regime and the aim now was to reduce it further to 100 days.

Earlier on Dec. 30, 2016 EAC on river valley and hydel projects in its very first meeting decided “not to take any cognizance of such representations” received by its members which has crossed the stage of public consultation and “the EAC should not go back in time, and should not reopen it, by entertaining unsubstantiated representations received from the people”. Environmental activists, however, have pointed out the impracticality of the contention that representations should be restricted to the 30-day public consultation window.

HYDRO POWER

Center Power Min seeks tax breaks for ongoing hydel projects  In a push to the hydropower sector, the Power Ministry has sought concessions for under-construction hydel projects in the upcoming Budget for 2017-18. This includes the clubbing of these projects under the ‘renewable energy’ category, alongside solar and wind projects, which entitles these projects to sharply lower tax rates. A proposal for deemed export status has also been sought for hydro projects, in line with the proposed status for solar power units and a demand for a zero-rated supply status for the hydro sector, which is likely to involve a tax shortfall of Rs 880 crore over five years. This is another push to give even more subsidies for destructive hydropower projects.

heavy-snowfall-at-harwan-in-srinagar-on-jan-17Heavy snowfall at Harwan in Srinagar on Jan 17 (The Indian Express Photo)

J&K Valley people fuming over erratic power supply Anger is brewing in Kashmir over a major power crisis. Most parts of the Valley receive less than six hours of electricity daily even as the mercury has plummeted to as low as -7°C this season. Frequent and long power cuts have triggered sporadic protests over the past two weeks. The situation in north and south Kashmir is not much different, with metered areas getting less than six hours of electricity. This is the worst power crisis in more than two decades. Even as Kashmir shivers and does not have power, is all the power currently generated from Kashmir hydropower projects even available to Kashmir? Why not?

Himachal Tattapani hot springs submerged by Kol Dam Tattapani and Manikaran are known for their hot springs with high sulphur concentration. The natural hot springs located along the Satluj in Tattapani disappeared after the construction of the 800 MW Koldam hydroelectric power project executed by the National Thermal Power Corporation. Its reservoir has submerged the hot springs.

DAMS 

Andhra Pradesh BKW Energie to help Govt in Polavaram project The Swiss power major BKW Energie has promised to partner the state government for the construction of a mega power generation station at Polavaram project. CM N Chandrababu Naidu has meet the management of BKW Energie during his visit to Zurich on Jan. 16 and said the proposed 960MW power plant at Polavaram project should be built with latest technology. Wonder what role this Swiss company has or will it have any at all. 

Sardar Sarovar Dam SC to hear rehabilitation pleas on daily basis SC to hear NBA petition on Sardar Sarovar Rehabilitation issues on daily basis from Jan 31, but hope it does not decide to give more cash compensation rather than land for land as the policy says. 

Maharashtra Village to fix, clean dam on its own Tribals from Nave Dhagur village Nashik will themselves start repair and desilting of a check dam on January 26 after waiting for over 10 years for the administration to heed to their request. Villagers, including women, will take up volunteer for desilting the check dam using Rs 2.5 lakh allocated to the village under the Panchayat Raj Extension to Schedules Areas (PESA). The check dam was built in 2001, but a portion of it was brought down a year later to facilitate construction of a bridge in the upstream areas. Though the bridge was built immediately, the broken portion has not been fixed till now. The gap in the main wall of the check dam has caused water to flow continuously downstream and dented the amount of water that can be stored for use after monsoon. Tribal Village near Nashik decides to fix its check dam using PESA funds, though almost 16 years after the check dam was damaged. 

IRRIGATION 

Maharashtra Govt owes Rs 4800 cr to projects affected farmers: Water Minister  Girish Mahajan the Water Resources Minister of the state has said that the government owes around Rs 4,800 crore towards land acquired from farmers for various irrigation projects in the state. For more than three generations this amount is pending for payment with interest, and in some cases farmers do not get their payment during their life time. According to minister, government has come out with bonds for Rs 15,000 crore at 7-8 per cent interest from which Rs 5,000 crore would be allocated for wiping out pending payments. He was also of the opinion that Surya hydroelectric project should move fast as the western belt was facing acute water shortage due to fast urbanisation. On Barvi dam, the minister said there were numerous issues to tackle apart from increase in height. 

RIVERS 

National It’s time to revive our rivers The year 2016 ended with a grim reminder of the dire state of rivers in India. An assessment of 290 rivers spread across 19 states of the country found 205 rivers to be critically polluted, thereby categorizing them as ‘red’. This categorization of rivers was done as part of a larger collaborative exercise of rating the overall health of Indian rivers based on a set of parameters to arrive at a common understanding of red (critical or destroyed), pink (threatened) and blue (wild/pristine) rivers in the country. Great to see this detailed report by NidhiI Jamwal on INDIA RIVERS WEEK 2016, and specifically on RIVER HEALTH ASSESSMENT effort at IRW. The India Rivers Week has set the agenda for management and protection of rivers in 2017 and beyond. We cannot afford not to implement it. 

Maharashtra Committee plans to revive 5 Pune rivers The Kirloskar Vasundhara International Film Festival has led to the formation of Pune Nadi Sansad (Pune Rivers’ Committee) that plans to revive Mula, Mutha, Devnadi, Ramnadi and Pavana rivers. After a conference on Muthakaran and a workshop on upper Bhima river basin restoration during the festival this week, environment experts from 30 organizations set up the committee to look into issues related to the rivers. The committee will conduct an annual review in January and take stock of collective action every three months. 

Himachal Directive against effluents’ disposal into water sources Taking strict view of a large number of cancer cases emerging from the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) area, Ram Kumar Chawdhary, chairman, Sub-Divisional Grievance Committee on Jan. 16, directed the officials of the State Pollution Control Board to put an end to the disposal of industrial effluents into the small rivers and ensure their proper treatment. Officials informed that some industries located on the HPSIDC industrial area were yet to be connected to the CETP. This was causing pollution. While the water drawn from the hand pumps was exceptionally hard, it was an indication of the deteriorating quality of the ground water. The small rivers being polluted by industries are in fact part of Satluj Catchment.

2017_1largeimg10_tuesday_2017_232809543Solid waste dumped in a river in Dharamsala (The Tribune Photo) 

Himachal Rivulets turn dumping ground in Dharamsala Rivulets are turning into dumping grounds in Smart City Dharamsala as people are dumping solid waste of their houses into natural drains, chocking most of the rivulets in the town. In Dharamsala about 14 to 15 metric tonnes of solid waste was generated daily. It increased in the tourist season. To handle such a huge amount solid waste, the Dharamsala Municipal Corporation has just 44 garbage containers and 47 small dustbins.

SAND MINING 

Himachal 10 JCB machines, 7 tippers seized In an early morning swoop Kangra police cracked down on illegal mining operations being carried out in Chaki river on the Punjab-Himachal border in Nurpur sub division. As per sources the police confiscated 10 JCB machines and 7 tippers that were being used in illegal mining operations. Cases under Mine and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act 1957 of Himachal have been registered against those involved in illegal mining. 

WETLANDS & WATER BODIES 

Maharashtra World Bank to fund reclamation of saline lands The World Bank will fund a state government project for reclaiming saline lands. The project is a part of the larger umbrella project called Climate Resistant Agriculture, which will receive ₹4,000 crore joint funding from the Bank and State government. The World Bank will provide ₹2,800 crore (70 per cent) while the rest will be contributed by the State government. According to report there is water logged lands, mostly in Vidarbha and some in N Maharashtra, to the extent of 5 lakh ha, spread over 1000 villages in cotton producing districts of Akola, Amravati and Buldahan in Vidarbha. Some villages in Jalgaon, mostly close to Purna river (a tributary of Godavari), mostly due to inadequate drainage.

GROUND WATER 

Op-Ed Urgent need to save dwindling groundwater In India, the current legal regime gives ownership of groundwater to the owner of the land below which the water flows. Given that water cannot, by its very nature be thought of in a piece-meal manner, this creates huge problems for its management. Water is also a state subject in India and there are a large number of different state laws dealing with different aspects of water and water management. While this has the advantage of being sensitive to local diversity and socio-economic conditions, it can be inimical for a planned and coordinated water conservation effort. 

Haryana पुस्तक परिचय – नरक जीते देवसर About book on tanks in Haryana: ‘नरक जीते देवसर’ पुस्तक हरियाणा के मुख्यमंत्री के ओ.एस.डी. (मीडिया) राजकुमार भारद्वाज द्वारा लिखी गई है। पुस्तक में कुल 21 अध्याय हैं। हर अध्याय में तालाबों का जीवन्त और यथार्थ चित्रण किया गया है। तालाबों के अतीत, वर्तमान और महत्त्व को बताने में वे कामयाब रहे। पुस्तक में उन्होंने बड़ी बारीकी से भारतीय समाज, धर्म और कृषि में तालाबों, जलाशयों और पोखरों के महत्त्व को रेखांकित किया है। इस पुस्तक में हरियाणा के अलग-अलग इलाकों में प्राचीन तालाबों की स्थिति की शोध पूर्ण जानकारी दी गई है। पुस्तक की शैली बेहद रोचक है। यह पुस्तक अपनी प्राचीन धरोहरों से जुड़ी उपयोगी जानकारी पहुँचाने में बेहद कारगर साबित हुई है। साथ ही युवा पीढ़ी को जल संरक्षण का सन्देश भी देती है। 

AGRICULTURE 

Maharashtra Zero farmer suicide model in Vidarbha, Marathwada The project titled Baliraj Chetana Abhiyan — which comprises more than 100 schemes for uplift of farmers through a holistic approach of socio-economic development model — will be applied in all the 14 districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada which are both drought prone and have a long history of maximum farm suicides. The two major steps initiated towards sustainable agriculture is to make every village water neutral through jalyukta shivar project and provide 12 hours of uninterrupted power supply to farmers across the state. The government is all set to put the entire agriculture sector on separate solar feeder to provide quality and consistent power supply to farmers in the state. VERY INTERESTING: Would like to know more about this Yavatmal and Osmanabad model and what it means and how successful it is. But the target of zero farmer suicide even by 2018 in Marathwada and Vidrabha sounds great. Can our friends in Maharashtra help? 

farmers-with-20-ft-high-sugarcane-stalks-of-co-0238-variety-in-a-field                             Farmers with 20-ft high sugarcane stalks of Co 0238 variety in a field                                                         (The Indian Express Photo) 

Uttar Pradesh A sweet deal for mills and farmers This article says a revolution is underway in sugarcane farming in UP since 2013-14. Till the 2012-13 season (October-September), UP farmers hardly cultivated this high-yielding cane variety that also gives higher sugar recovery for mills. In 2013-14, an area of 72,623 hectares was covered under it, rising to 1,76,763 hectares and 4,02,719 hectares in the next two seasons. The result: average sugar recovery, which was only 9.18 per cent of cane crushed in 2012-13, went up to 9.26, 9.54 and 10.62 per cent in the seasons that followed. In the current 2016-17 season, Co 0238 would account for 7,28,604 hectares or 35.5 per cent of UP’s total sugarcane area. This variety is early maturing, meaning that sucrose levels reach high levels early, compared to the traditional variety. 

DROUGHT IN SOUTH INDIA 

Tamil Nadu Demonetization accelerated agrarian crisis: Farmer Groups Tamil Nadu is facing one of its worst agrarian crises since independence. All of the state’s 32 districts have been officially declared as ‘drought-affected’. Out of these 144 deaths, over 40 were from outside the Cauvery delta region and for this observers directly attribute demonetisation as the main reason. The Centre had released drought relief of Rs 1,782 crores for Karnataka on January 9. But not a single rupee has been allotted so far to Tamil Nadu. Has demonetization worsened agriculture crisis? It seems so if we go by this report. Cauvery, Monsoon and Groundwater, all have failed the farmers. 

partha-and-rekhaPartha and Rekha. Credit: M.J. Prabu 

Also see, Partha and Rekha, who left their city jobs to become organic farmers, are now working to spread awareness on organic produce and make it accessible for all. This is another interesting example of young urban youth getting into organic farming, this time near Chennai. 

SOUTH ASIA

IWT Pak asks India to suspend work on hydro projects Pakistan’s two parliamentary committees in rare joint resolution asked India to immediately suspend work on two hydropower projects in Jammu and Kashmir and agree on the constitution of an arbitration court to resolve the water dispute. 

Nepal-China Companies ink joint venture agreement to build hydel project Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) on Jan. 16 initialed the joint venture (JV) agreement to develop the 750-MW West Seti Hydropower Project in midwest Nepal. According to Maha Prasad Adhikari, CEO of Investment Board Nepal, once the boards of NEA and CTGC endorse the initial reached between the two sides, it will pave the way for signing JV agreement. Seems like an important development in the project that is being talked about for two decades now as test case for Nepal Hydro. 

Nepal The failure to learn from the 2015 earthquake A series of articles in Kathmandu Post as featured in this David Petley post apprehend that Nepal has not learnt the lessons from the massive April 2015 earthquake, when a larger earthquake is possibly imminent in western Nepal. This is EQUALLY and possibly even more relevant for INDIA, since any such earthquake is likely to occur in Indian Himalayas, or possibly Indo Nepal Himalayas, but there seems no lesson learnt by India. This is most starkly exemplified by the attempt to push Pancheshwar Dam in that very region. 

SOUTH EAST ASIA 

17_01-xekamen-2-e1484992664706The aftermath of the 16th December landslide at Xekaman 3, via Radio Free Asia 

Laos Landslide severely damages Xekaman-3 hydroelectric plant Disturbing blog by David Petley about a landslide at a 250 MW Hydropower project in Laos on Vietnam border, whose penstock is severely damaged for the second time and power house is almost completely buried in landslide debris. Petley says such risks exist at many hydropower projects across Asia. 

REST OF THE WORLD 

North America SC stops hydro project for not consulting tribesmen On November 1, 2016, the Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica’s Supreme Court provided some good news to a Terraba (Teribe) Indigenous territory when it stopped the state-run Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE by its Spanish acronym) from going forward with the Diquis hydroelectric project for failing to consult Indigenous communities who would see part of their lands flooded.  The permit, issued in 2007 under former President Oscar Arias, had declared the dam to be located at the mouth of the General River Valley in the southern Pacific and part of the country of “national interest.”

the-munduruku-are-wary-of-the-plans-to-build-more-damsThe Munduruku are wary of the plans to build more dams

Brazil Amazon culture clash over mega dams A battle is under way in the Amazon region of Brazil between indigenous groups and river dwellers on the one hand and big corporations on the other as the latter go ahead with their plans to build huge dams to meet Brazil’s energy needs. 11000 MW Belo Monte, USD 18 million Hydropower project, the fourth largest of the biggest dam of the World, now under construction in Brazil is the latest huge conflict ground. 

South America Rain can’t help sinking California Groundwater mismanagement is not just India’s monopoly, as this article shows, California seems no different. The article blames it on the policies of environment flows in rivers to protect the fish, but it seems to suggest that there is no link between surface and groundwater, such an unscientific proposition. 

Australia High flows revive drought stricken River Murray The high flows have led to the inundation of hundreds of wetlands and floodplains, sparking a flora and fauna explosion from trees and ground covers to insects, invertebrates, fish, frogs, birds and mammals. Experts say the river is now enjoying its best health since the decade-long Millennium Drought in Australia, which ended in 2009.

ENVIRONMENT

bdesh-hilsa(Image Source: The Third Pole) 

West Bengal Disappearing Hilsa may get legal protection This is key: Officials in the fisheries department explained that the need for tough legislation was now more urgent than ever. One official spoke about the river, before 1972 – that saw the commissioning of the Farakka Barrage – where hilsa provided a lucrative livelihood for fishermen in mid-stretch of the river, generating employment for thousands of fishermen from not just Bengal, but also Bihar and UP. 

There is something wrong in the figures in first half here: Assessment of the production trends of hilsa from 1961 to 2013 in the middle stretch of the Ganga by Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) revealed a significant decline in the annual average production from 36 tonness to 0.9 tonnes. Findings by CIFRI reveal that during the period 1998-2012, the average catch of juvenile hilsa (2 to 20grams) from the system was a staggering 85 tonnes per year. Experts predict that saving even 1 per cent of these juveniles could enhance the hilsa production by 4000 tonnes per year.

This notification exists, but seems to remain unimplemented: It wasn’t until 2013 that a specific notification was brought in by the West Bengal government to control overfishing and conserve the hilsa population. The notification lay prohibitions on catching of the fish using a gill net having mesh below 90mm, prohibited catching, transport or sale of small hilsa. It also declared five hilsa sanctuaries on the Hooghly river from Farakka to Sagar, covering a stretch of 250 km, where fishing has been banned between June-August and October-December. Also see an editorial on Hilsa which says India can learn from Bangladesh how to save Hilsa! 

Kerala State’s  power usage nears 64 MU per day According sources ,the state government has given a clear indication to State Electricity Board that it need not to embrace more financial liabilities in its efforts to ensure uninterrupted power supply. Wonder, by Kerala is talking about buying power at the rate of Rs 8 per unit when power is available at energy exchanges at much lower cost most of the times? 

You may also like to visit DRP News Bulletin 16 Jan. 2017 & DRP News Bulletin 09 Jan. 2017

One Comment on “DRP News Bulletin 23 Jan. 2017 (Unjustified Ken-Betwa Link Costs: Bundelkhand To Gain Nothing, Panna To Lose Its Tigers)

  1. Govt requested to hold public meetings in beneficiary districts of bundelkhand and seek their opinion .DP R of the project should be put in public domain and invite opinion of affected and beneficiary persons.And after that the decision on weighted benefits be taken to proceed for execution.

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